Princess of the Shadows ➺ [FC Series Bk.2]

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Chapter 6: The Master Plan

Serge, Jose, Ace and Dale squish into the back of our New World taxi while Jessica sits on Dale’s knee and I’m offered to sit in the front.

Basically, I feel as if she is taking my spot, and even as Ace and Jose gaze at Jessica in fascination - I am still jealous.

Even though Dale held a gun to her head just minutes prior to our getaway and they all stood with me against her, I was still confused.

Yep - still.

So much for being an Ultimate who could work out any situation, because right now I had no idea what to do. I just wanted to talk to my beasts alone and now Jessica was in the picture.

“A shame the party was jumped on by the police,” Holt states while driving, aka, being a complete help to all of us by stating the obvious.

“Yep,” I mutter and glance over my shoulder briefly to see all of my beast’s eyes... on me. As I look away, I notice them just starting to smirk, except Dale. Jessica is still on Dale’s knees, sitting there like a perfect little red riding hood. I had never - in all my life - had such a strong hate for that fairy tail character until now. I wanted the wolves to eat her - well, not like that.

Argh!

I hated that she was in all of our lives - but I had to accept Jessica was the reason I was able to get back to my beasts. She saved Dale, Serge, myself and then Ace and Jose. She was probably also our only help out of Avalon - if that was even possible. I was sure Dale had some sort of master plan he wasn’t telling me about. Surely, after all his training growing up in a lab, learning how to go up against any type of enemy in war - he must have a solution for escaping imprisonment whilst in enemy territory.

Jessica, for the moment, was our saviour. A mere human, completely degenerate with unaltered genes - the genes that couldn’t cope in this new environment. Dale used to refer to New World citizens as the Force of Depravity. Only the mutated could survive, us and all mutated inhabitants from FC... we were the Force of Supremacy.

Now - all those technical terms didn’t even matter.

All that mattered was Holt nodding his head to the beat of Avalon’s generic music - making me wish we had STRIKE back. This time, I’m not referring to the gang in the back, but the vehicle we used to drive around FC, named after STRIKE. Armoured, black, gangster and always boosted with lovely relatable dark bass and dark clubby vibes.

Frankincense City had never been such a beautiful memory, until I was transported here. That second Dooms Day over a year ago changed everything - all because of Hacksaw. The first Dooms Day, the real apocalypse and not just an invasion, had been 100 years before the second. In relation to the first Dooms Day, Spanky Dust had killed 85% of the world’s population and mutated the 15% with viable genes.

Now, the 15% were imprisoned in New World cities.

And... here I was now... wondering how to get back to the isolated city on the other side of the world that us ‘affected’ humans used to call home.

“We’re back, boys and girls!” Holt calls out happily and I hear Jessica sigh while there is an uncanny silence from my beasts after Holt referred to them as ‘boys’.

“Holt, could you not embarrass my new members?” Jessica asks, “By the way, Ace, Jose - I need to introduce you to my lair - the Shadow Lair. It’s the Gang of Shadows base in Avalon and -”

“You’ve got to be kidding,” Ace scoffs, cutting Jess off, but when I look over my shoulder he sort of looks quietly impressed, “There is another version of our rebellion here, in a New World city?"

“Oh, yes,” Jessica pipes in, happily, “I will show you around.”

Note that I had been given the quickest tour and now she sounded like she was more than eager to show them around her whole complex.

“Forgive me... for what I did earlier, Jess, it was unacceptable,” Dale adds in quietly and I catch Ace and Jose’s facial expressions to see exactly what I expect to see - their wide eyes and open mouths... they’re gobsmacked.

“I do forgive you, babe, I understand that you didn’t want me to hurt Alyssa... I sometimes get carried away. Sometimes it’s hard to know what’s the right thing to do, what’s wrong... and what’s necessary,” Jessica sounds very certain about this last statement.

“I forgive you too,” I pipe in, turning to also fake a submission to little Red, “You reacted by putting your people first. That’s brave - even if it involved putting a gun to my head... I understand. I spoke out against you, for no reason other than mere jealousy because you got to be with my friends and I didn’t. I’ll tell you what you need to know from Reuben tomorrow when we all get some shut eye. I have plenty of news about Avalon Tower to open up to you about, Jess. Or, we can speak of it tonight if you prefer.”

“Oh!” Jessica opens her plump lips and holds a hand to her heart, “I’m really glad you understand... Alyssa. And tomorrow will be fine. So, I hope you don’t mind, when we park, I’ll get my guards to escort you to your room. You’ll be able to rest straight away while I introduce Dale’s friends to my complex. I love new company.”

“Am I free to roam around?” I ask, raising a brow.

“It’s almost 3am. The cleaning will be going on around this time of night so it’s best if you stay in your room,” Jessica answers curtly whilst Holt enters the multilevel car park. The tension in the car rises with her order for me to separate from their company once we exit the vehicle.

I just suck in my pride.

And I answer to neutralise the bad vibes in the taxi.

“That sounds like a great idea,” I reply to Jessica as Holt parks and I pretend to yawn, “It’d be great to sleep away from Reuben - that bastard.”

“Exactly,” Jess is happy I have submitted to her suggestion, “You’re safe here. I will protect you... you just have to be loyal.”


3 hours later I’m lying in a bath tub which is quickly becoming both a lukewarm and depressing experience. I had stripped down until I was butt naked, convinced a steaming hot bath would solve all my issues, if only temporarily. However, now the lukewarm water is driving me a little mad. I jump up and watch the water slosh over the side of the bath onto the tiles, where a special New World design attracts the water to the hole in the centre of the flat floor.

“Clean, pristine, perfect... Jessica,” I mutter to myself as I step out of the bath tub and decide to get changed.

It was time I did something to calm my jittery nerves, quick temper and frustrated heart.

So, I towel off and I stalk my way to the cupboards and many draws, opposite the bed. I open them to find many options available mostly in white and black themes. Clearly I wasn’t worth stocking up colours for.

Nope - I was just some random friend of Dale who was also sort-of-an-ex-or-maybe-just-a-past-fuck-buddy, in Jessica’s eyes.

Jessica probably didn’t truly believe my beasts and I had all been intimate, all at once and willingly. Very willingly... with sharing - me, between them.

And no, my beasts weren’t in love with each other, they just loved to fuck me, all together and at the same time.

And it had been a year since I had that kind of company. I wasn’t desperate for it... I was more concerned about the enslaved FC citizens in Avalon and the neighbouring city of Atlantis. I was concerned about Casey and Viola. I was concerned about my Brownie Squad and if they truly were thriving without me. I was concerned about all our futures.

But in order to fix that - I needed my beasts back. STRIKE had to reunite properly. They had to find a way to take back power in the underworld. This time - in Avalon.

However, I was done sulking around thinking about Jessica’s prime power and influence. She had the reputation, followers, money and property... and she was naturally gorgeous, charismatic and generally smart. But she didn’t have my mind.

I keep telling myself this to keep happy.

I mean, should I be proud that I had nuclear bomb codes literally printed into my DNA memory?

I was entrusted with the world’s deadliest weapons.

Well... I guess that wasn’t something to be proud of.

But - it was significant and there was a reason for it.

“Where are you... STRIKE?” I whisper to myself as I gaze at myself in the mirror after slipping on a simple white dress that looks like a sheet down to my knees. I run my hands through my tawny hair, which only ever sat just past my shoulders because it grew ridiculously slow. I roll my shoulders back and I decide to exit my room.

The moment my door opens, a guard stands up straight from the opposite wall.

This one is different to the last - he looks a little more grumpy.

“Miss,” he begins - but I quickly close the distance. I’m light on my feet as I bring myself up to him, chest to chest, while I slowly raise my hand. He is completely oblivious to the danger of my lethally sharp nails, “You have to stay in your -”

“Ah,” I whisper as I trail my fingers over his chin, while his lip trembles as I gaze up into his eyes, “Careful...” as my nails slither down his jaw, he can feel the sharpness razing off his stubble. He gulps and I slowly rest a finger over his throat, “Not a word, and I’ll be grateful and happy to leave you with your skin intact.”

“E-excuse me?” he stumbles back against the wall and I just close in further.

“I’m just kidding,” I lie as I smile but keep my finger at his throat, “I have insomnia and I need to walk before I can sleep... but I also need to have some time alone... so if you’ll excuse me without a fuss...” I now slowly back off and drop my hand. He quickly nods and I smile in return, “Good choice.”

I then turn and waltz off down the corridor, still light with my steps, my bare feet gliding across the black tiles as I reach the lift. I spin around, press the button for the second floor and wave at the gobsmacked guard. He was confused and terrified at the same time as he feels the smooth patch from his chin to his jaw. He doesn’t know what to do. Most New World humans had no idea how to react to mutants - and he had no idea I was made in a lab. So, my enhancements just happened to be refined to perfection.

Once I’m down on the second floor, I find the hall ways empty and quiet. I walk casually across the tiles, gazing through very black tinted glass walls. There was no plaster. I keep walking by, finding some rooms occupied with staff. I go through plenty of corridors but find no sign of Dale, Serge, Ace or Jose.

It’s not until I reach the end of the main hall, where I find a stair case leading down to the first floor... that I finally find what I’m looking for.

I see that down the stair case is a luxury ballroom of some kind. It’s decked out in amazing furniture, modern, classy and perfect. I spot bowling alleys, bars, pool tables, lounges, a spa and multiple fire places. It’s all unoccupied except for one part. I spot a table where Dale is versing Jessica in a game of chess and STRIKE sit around watching.

This table is in the middle of everything and my beasts are leaning forward with intense interest.

I slowly take a few more steps down from the top and sit on the stair case to watch what goes on down below.

All my beasts have genuine smiles, they wink occasionally at each other and compliment Jessica on her game play.

It’s meaningless banter but as I watch the game of chess unfold - Dale loses. I know so when Jessica jumps up and pumps her fist into the air, hooting. She’s also still wearing her red dress with the attached hood... which means she still looks ultra sexy.

“I did it!” she exclaims, slowly sitting back down and sighing when the giggles fade all too slowly, “Oh, my, it’s so nice to have company of such... wonderful men.”

I literally scoff at this - and I would have been heard if it wasn’t for Jose coughing and raising his hand to speak next.

“Jess,” Jose speaks with his soft grumble, his tattooed hand coming up to rest over hers, “We’ve told you, our loyalty is boundless, I want you to know... we’re capable of protecting you... even from those you think have your back.”

“Don’t be silly,” Jessica tries to dismiss him but Jose grabs her hand tighter and my heart clenches in rejection.

“Keep your friends close and your enemies closer,” Jose whispers, “Your greatest enemies are in this building. We can find them for you.”

“We’re excellent guards,” Ace adds in, “How do you think we ran our own gang back in Frankincense City?”

By not being fake pretentious pricks?

Serge is the only one looking real, he is both silent and angry.

When I glance at him, hoping to witness his normal reaction to calm my own anger - I see him staring right at me.

Not obviously, but just as he turns to pretend to look elsewhere.

Serge slowly smirks and I don’t know how he does it from this distance, but the metal bars I’m holding on the stair case give me a little static shock.

I just scowl and glare back at him.

“I protect myself through negotiation,” Jessica boasts proudly.

“As do I,” Dale answers and after I hear him happily respond - I almost crack it.

I shouldn’t have come to listen to all this crap talk, I was ready to burst.

“You’ve all been so lovely to me, let me escort you to your rooms. They’re on the same level as Alyssa’s room,” Jessica speaks of me fondly and I grit my teeth.

Fake.

At least I wish it’s fake.

“No need, doll,” Serge speaks up as he answers Jessica, “I’ll put these baby dicks to bed, okay?” He stands up and pats Dale and Jose, stroking their hair as Jessica looks a little shocked that Serge decided to speak up.

“Ah... okay, I’ll stay down here and read until I fall asleep,” Jessica stands and stretches, “I can’t wait to see you all tomorrow for breakfast! Dale, do you want to stay up with me?” Jessica asks this last question a little quietly... and seductively.

Oh, she really wanted to die tonight, didn’t she?

“If you don’t mind, baby, I’ll speak with my friends as I walk them up to their rooms,” Dale answers smoothly and I’m secretly happy he refused her, however, he does sound tense after Serge has been stroking through his hair casually.

“Alright,” Jose jumps to his feet, pushing into Serge and glaring through him, “Let’s go... to our rooms, father dick.”

“I am the eldest... unfortunately... I am the wisest as well,” Serge growls through a smile, barely containing a neutral tone.

“Goodnight, Jess,” Ace grins at Jessica and she blushes - clearly smitten with Ace’s stunning good looks. Blonde hair, huge shoulders, perfect arms... as tall as the rest, but there was also just something special about his manner. He was the super flirt out of all of my beasts. He was actually the one to introduce all of them to the concept of BDSM. To control their animal instincts - they chose not to. Instead, when they fucked a woman... they fucked her like the animals they were.

Jessica would despise them if they knew of their lifestyle. Only I understood them - and even with their rough love, they were not bad men.

But they were not good men.

You couldn’t give them any sort of mundane labels when they were super soldiers born and bred for battle.

And really, really, hot sex.

Damn it, my thoughts were all over the place!

“C’mon baby dicks, follow father,” Serge puts on his most degrading tone as he turns and waltzes towards the stairs.

Jose follows with a vengeance and a scowl while Dale goes to kiss Jessica before departing with Ace.

Jessica waves them off and turns in the other direction, heading for a couch by the fire.

I wait by the stair case as Serge is the first to ascend.

Jose is next, Ace and Dale behind them.

They all glance up as I slowly stand up, watching them approach.

They are rightfully silent as they ascend, not giving me away.

I slowly back up and step into the corridor, awaiting their arrival.

“Let me, father dick, show our baby dicks where their rooms are,” I welcome Serge while he blinks slowly, looking ready to burst like me.

And I don’t mean he is ready to burst into laughter.

He still looked pissed off about everything in general.

“Hey, kitten,” Ace looks more than happy to see me.

“Doll,” Jose whispers, almost guiltily.

"Enough,” Dale is up the stairs last, but he pushes through them all to come and face me.

“I’m confused...” I murmur up at Dale as he closes the distance, “And if I’m confused... something is seriously wrong... or you’re just not giving me all the details,” I hiss this at Dale - and he closes his eyes in exasperation before looking up and down the corridor... I think he is looking for cameras, “I’m waiting for answers, Dale.”

“You’ll keep waiting,” Dale murmurs low, his fist clenched by his side so that he doesn’t reach up and touch me.

“No... I will not wait,” I close the distance and reach my hand around his waist, putting my hand under his black suit top and under his belt until I feel a gun handle, “I thought so,” I whisper as I turn it and point the gun at his ass - I flick off the safety too. Dale feels it and he grabs my elbow, “Ah, ah... no... calm down, Dale,” I hold the handle tight in my grasp, “My finger is right over the trigger - I just want an answer.”

“Ask. Quickly,” Dale almost snarls it - looking extremely impatient.

“What’s your grand master plan... and when are we getting the hell out of here?” I ask, blinking rapidly.

Dale pauses and slowly smirks, looking between his beasts.

“She caused this whole situation to unfold,” Dale murmurs, arrogantly, happy to explain because he hasn’t had the chance yet to tell Ace and Jose, “Alyssa sold us out to the New Worlds.”

“Keep believing that if it helps you sleep at night,” I snap back, interrupting him quickly, “Now, tell me the plan, Dale."

“Whores don’t need to know unnecessary details,” Dale whispers back and I shove the gun between his ass cheeks. He moves forward in response and he reaches up a hand, grasping my throat abruptly and holding it tight just under my chin. Dale jerks me in closer as he leans down until we’re almost nose to nose. I miss the feel of a beast’s hand - tightly grasping onto me. I hate that I think that thought now, whilst Dale glares down into my eyes. His purple, tyrian irises, swirling and then morphing, the pupils turn to slits as his predator panther eyes take over. He looks utterly terrifying... and I miss it. I miss the control... but I certainly won’t miss the next words that come out of his mouth.

“Tell me the plan,” I whisper, asking one more time, “The master plan, please. I want to get back to Frankincense City.”

“...when Jessica finishes transferring all of my ‘merchandise’... into a safe location... that you will not know... after she has a bullet through her skull... and after I rip your heart from your chest - and you wish you never fell in love with the Lord of the Underworld and his beasts, Alyssa... because you can’t expect loyalty - when you have none yourself. Until you truly prove yourself as worthy of our company - you’re just a dumb whore that was too naive to follow a few orders. You’re an untrained Ultimate - you’re as useless as you sound.”

His words are so harsh, my grip on the handle of the gun loosens.

Dale released my throat from his hold - and he moves off down the hall way, reaching back for the gun to switch on the safety.

He doesn’t look back.

I look to my beasts, Serge shrugs and winks at me... Ace blows me an empathetic kiss and Jose looks shameful of Dale’s words.

However... I gulp as they follow him, walking off back to the lift that will take them to their rooms.

Dale had been harsh on me.

But he had been speaking the truth. It was time I changed how I was perceived. I had to change my thoughts and actions, for the better, not for him, not for them... for myself.

If I wanted to live up to my design, I had to stop wallowing in self pity.

If I wanted to have STRIKE truly back on my side, I had to prove them all wrong and only then... everything would slowly fall back into place.

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