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

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Chapter 8: Lab Singular: Casey's Rescue

Lab Singular: Casey’s Rescue

“How was your date with Holt, Alyssa?” Jessica asks me as she yawns from the front seat of the hovering van. I sit behind her in the back, while my beasts all sit opposite me on the other side in the back as Holt drives.

“Just... divine,” I answer, smiling genuinely. I even see Holt blush in the rear view mirror when I glance up to catch his expression. Then my gaze swings back to Dale, Serge, Ace and Jose... and while I look blank... they all look barely restrained.

Veins pop from some of their temples while a lip twitches here and there.

Any other situation in Frankincense City - and they’d be blood spilling and a huge scene, with very colourful swearing included.

Except now, they have to all be bitches... and I know in this moment, it’s hard.

I can’t help but be honest, I love seeing them struggle like this, it was a rare sight to behold. STRIKE. Useless. Quiet. Submissive.

“How about you, boys, did you have a good dinner together?” Jessica asks while grinning, “I hope you enjoyed the supplies I could give you for this rescue mission,” she nods to their guns holstered on their belts... and they’re also wearing their familiar black suits; Avalon made, but what does that matter?

“The chicken was a little dry,” Jose answers gruffly, when no one else says anything.

Jessica gives all my silent beasts a funny look and glances at me, innocently.

“I guess this is what gangsters do before a big night?” Jessica whispers, “Quiet reflection?”

“Oh, yes,” I answer, smoothly and loudly, “Hey, Holt,” I lean over and run a hand through his hair, shuffling over the seat to press my lips to his ear, “Hurry up.”

“Yes, sir - I mean madame, I mean lady, I mean -” Holt trails off and I just slip a free hand around his cheek to press a finger to his lips.

“Just drive,” I whisper again, sultry as all hell.

Holt gulps and nods while Jessica giggles, oblivious to my ulterior motives.

As I lean back into my seat and take my hand out of Holt’s hair, I turn to my beasts once more.

Dale shakes his head in a warning, while Ace looks like he is barely refraining from planting a quick bullet into Holt’s skull. Jose cracks his knuckles, straightening his back into the seat with a grim expression of betrayal, while Serge... he slowly blinks at me and smiles.

It was never a good thing when Lightning smiled.

I can’t help but gulp myself and then I pretend to cough while I catch Jessica’s stare.

“How are you feeling after you fainted?” I ask her.

“Better,” Jessica admits, “Although I’ve never fainted in the past, perhaps I’ve been working too hard...”

“It’s definitely my fault. I hardly let you sleep, baby,” Dale answers smoothly, sending a seductive wink Jessica’s way, before glancing at my resounding glare with satisfaction.

Jessica is once again oblivious to all of this as the van eventually speeds up and then begins to slow down.

“We’ve arrived at the west outskirts, near the perimeter of Avalon’s boundaries... the buildings really do appear abandoned here,” Holt whispers, scared and excited about our mission.

“Now we stay and wait for the four guys to do their thing,” Jessica speaks bravely while I now giggle - I admit, it’s a mimmic of hers and slightly, just slightly, mocking of her laugh.

“Oh, no,” I answer, pawing my hand through the air like a girly girl, “I’m going with them, babe.”

Before Jessica can answer I stand up first, aiming to head to the back door of the vehicle.

All my beasts stand quickly after I have, shoving forward to try and beat me.

My hand rests on the handle to the back of the van the same time Ace’s hand makes contact.

“Allow me, doll,” Ace growls, aggressively.

“No, allow me,” I hiss back as I press my fingers into the back of his palm and he quickly lets go of the handle. Ace growls furiously after me as I manage to open the doors and jump out first.

As we all hit the dry, dusty and sandy cemented road under the light of a full moon, I turn to see Dale slam the van doors closed dramatically before turning to face me with his beasts.

All I had seen inside was Jessica gaping in confusion while Holt was also making a cute little nervous ‘o’ with his trembling lips.

“Calm. Down,” I say, as condescendingly as possible while putting up my hands after I’ve backed up a few paces to face my four beasts, “It’s okay... you’re okay... breathe.”

“You’ll shut up or you’ll get plugged up, doll,” Serge smiles as he prances forward towards me, taking out his gun and passing it from hand to hand, while inspecting it’s girth before me, “Hmmm... not wide enough...” he catches my gaze and I watch the lightning sparkle in his irises, “However, we have plenty of alternatives to use on you, Alyssa. You’ve only been begging for it the entire afternoon with your taunting.”

“Let’s focus on saving C-... any FC inhabitants we can find,” I almost say Casey, but he was our secret and I shouldn’t say his name out loud in case Jessica overheard from inside the van.

No one must know of Casey’s existence but those who needed to know. Dale not only lovingly protected that child as his own son but I knew he was willing to do literally anything to hide Casey’s existence. Dale had once faked his death - literally killing the kid, to save him. Yikes, just the memory is traumatising... he had to shoot Casey through the head in front of a Government Gathering.

Casey recovered in a few hours.

The thing is, he wasn’t just a kid off the streets that Dale took in under his wing - he was the last Ultimate. 9 years old, cheeky and cute with an attitude. Last we checked, he could heal faster than us and I found out that he could control minds. He had told Hacksaw to fuck off and he did - equivalent to actual proof of mind control... at least in my opinion. Now, he’d be 10 years old... and I knew he was in one of these skyscrapers.

From the information I had gathered from Reuben’s connections, Casey was a special gift to the New Worlds. At least to the people that knew of him - which were only the rich and famous. He was referred to as a child-god. Mother-Earth’s messiah... minus the fact that he was also made gene by gene like us.

I had a feeling the New Worlds would introduce him as a pure human, naturally superior... which would be a lie, but helpful. Casey, if forced to act for them, could potentially help the bad guys rule the world.

God knows what had happened to him in this past year, I just hoped he was okay.

But no matter what, we were going to find him and save him tonight.

“Yes, we’re finding and rescuing my kid...” Dale agrees with me, quietly, “Let’s head off - we need to focus. Follow my lead.”

“Like old times, boss... finally,” Ace can’t help but mock him, in reference to how Dale was lately always following Jessica’s lead, but Dale just scowls and continues on down the dusty road.

“Always wanted to fight in skimpy whore clothes... just your style, right?” Serge asks me, glancing over my skimpy white lacy dress. I always chose less material, to avoid my nails shredding more of it. I missed the DNA leotard Dale had created for me in his lab... the material had been able to resist my nails and hair.

Just another reason to get the hell out of Avalon as quickly as possible.

I try to ignore my beasts being all angsty with me over Holt... even though I know I’ll pay for it when we’re out of sight from the van.

Instead, I gaze around my surroundings. The outskirts of Avalon were Old World City structures. Abandoned skyscrapers of an older city, the roads cracked, the pavement buckled. Even the air smelt stale - and the whole place looked deserted to the bone.

Regardless, we all head towards the alley ways for cover as we skirt around the old structures, looking for anything that could be Defensive Technologies and Lab Singular.

“I have a question, Alyssa,” Jose murmurs from behind me, he had been keeping a close pace. I knew he was resisting reaching out to manhandle me - I found it cute that he was still restraining himself.

“Ask away, boner,” I reply, using the same sultry tone I used on Holt.

“Did Holt squeal when you rode him?” Jose asks, “Like a piglet?”

I almost pause at the bold question, but then I know exactly how to answer.

“He threw me down, thrust into me and fucked me into oblivion like the secret sex god he is. On the contrary, I was the one who squealed like a piglet,” I lie, but with my smooth and quick response, all my beasts halt in the alley way we’re creeping down.

With three of my beasts’ back to me, I see Dale reach for a gun and turn off the safety.

“I suppose we have time for a quick catch up with our kitten,” Dale murmurs, menacing and dangerous as he starts to turn towards me, “...you scared, doll?” Dale smirks and is about to approach me, to let out all his pent up frustration... but then he is interrupted.

"Boss,” Ace snarls out, seemingly annoyed by his own accurate vision because of the bad timing, “...Defensive Technologies... four blocks down...” Dale spins in a blink of an eye and we all watch Ace point to a skyscraper so far away, with tiny writing barely comprehensible on the concrete that high up.

Especially in the dead of night.

“What?” I ask, confused, “That says...?”

“It’s old and faded, but I’d say that’s our best bet,” Ace turns to Dale and then he slowly narrows his eyes at me, “Fucking our kitten sounds ideal... but we have our priorities sorted, don’t we, ladies?”

“Damn right,” Jose ushers me forward, a little rough, and I turn and I’m ready to pounce on him with my nails - but I don’t get the chance.

Serge lights me up with a small lightning strike and Dale grabs me around the waist, holding me like a sack of potatoes while he takes the lead.

I blink away the pain and eventually glare at Serge who leans in to pinch my nose while I’m held into Dale’s side.

“Soon, Alyssa,” Serge winks, “We’ll annihilate you when you least suspect it. And by annihilate, I mean fuck... and by fuck... I mean own. We’ll fuck you until you pass out, fuck you until you wake back up, and then fuck you again until you fall asleep purring... like a good kitten... we’ll fuck the disrespect out of you. You forget your place, doll. You don’t make the orders or insults around here.”

“Dumb brutes don’t scare me with empty threats,” I whisper back, “I just need Holt to fuck me... I don’t need any of you anymore. I’m a one man woman now.”

Dale bursts out laughing at this while Serge scowls and Jose and Ace look confused.

“Liar, liar, little whore,” Dale smacks my ass and holds me tighter while I slyly try to fumble for his gun at his belt.

“Don’t even try it, doll,” Serge snarls and I drop my hand, pouting.

“I’m not just your doll anymore, Sergey boy... I’m a princess... a gangster... and I’m Holt’s woman," I grin at this and as Dale just chuckles, Serge still looks pissed off.

“I don’t like you lying to us, Alyssa,” Serge growls, “After a year apart... you’d think you’d be a bit more careful provoking us... in Avalon. What do you aim to achieve?”

“My aim? It’s an Ultimate’s only wish, stupid,” I smile again, “World. Domination.”

Dale pauses, and I think it’s because he is about to bring me down a notch or two there... instead, he drops me to the ground.

I hit my ass on the blue stones and I scramble to my feet, fixing my dress with a growl.

"Why?" I hiss, but Dale is holding up his hand.

We all stay silent as he quickly moves to the edge of the brick wall, and we follow as one.

Just before us across the street is a lone woman, walking across the road, holding out her gun... looking scared.

“Cheap patrols,” Dale murmurs quietly, “Not much security to help ward off attention.”

“What do we do? She’s seen us,” I hiss.

“You want to be so cool, kitten... go get her,” Dale grabs my wrist forcefully and shoves me out from the wall into the street.

I’m so taken off guard, when I find my footing and twirl to face the woman in the white uniform, I find a gun pointed at my head.

“D-don’t move,” she says, shy and scared, “Who are you? Why are you in this side of town? No one comes here. Who are your friends hiding behind the wall?”

“Relax, girl... they’re my college friends... adventures are our thing,” I whisper, winking, “Put down the gun, what do you require of us? We didn’t come here to die... please don’t tell anyone we snuck into a restricted zone. Please?” I try to sound young and naive - it works well enough for the woman to lower her gun a tad.

“Thank Mother Earth, I thought you were FC mutants,” she whispers, “I hate mutants - they scare me. You can stop hiding!” she calls out to STRIKE, while I innocently take a step closer.

“Can I see your badge? That’s a cool badge,” I point out, reaching out my hand tentatively.

“What, this?” she asks, gripping her golden pin and lifting it so it shines in the moonlight, “It’s real gold, actually.”

Did I mention New World inhabitants tended to be very easy to manipulate?

“I like shiny things,” I reply and when I hear footsteps come out from behind me, the woman’s smile slowly drops.

Up close, she takes in the size of my four ‘college’ friends wearing suits and she looks bamboozled.

“U-um...” she is about to take a step back, slightly raising her gun, so I react.

I reach out and clasp one of my hands around her throat, holding her in place as I press in my nails, to make sure she bleeds a little.

Just a little.

“Drop the gun or I’ll rip your throat out,” I murmur, catching her gaze of betrayal. Whimpering, she drops the gun but I do not release her throat, “Do you want to live?” She barely nods, so I continue, “Good. You just have to do one thing. Strip.”

“Excuse me?” she whispers, gasping.

“Don’t worry, I’ll get my beasts to leave you a coat,” I smile and then release her. When she tries to turn and run, all my beasts pull out their guns.

“Shit, woman,” Ace calls out, “Don’t run!”

“Oh,” the guard halts, almost tripping as she spins back around. She freezes as Dale walks forward.

“She has to die,” Dale growls to me, “She can’t see us all together.”

“I know,” I murmur back, considering our options.

“I will tell you anything,” she begs, dropping to her knees, “Please. Please - anything. I will do anything you say and tell you anything you wish to know. I don’t even like my job anyway... please, please don’t kill me... please don’t hurt me. I’ll tell you the truth about anything. Anything.”

“Call Jessica,” I turn to Dale, “She can handle her.”

“...good idea,” Dale murmurs, reluctantly giving into my suggestion.

“We’ll spare you,” I answer and she almost cries with relief, “...but first you will tell us what you know of a certain building’s security... entrances... and staff numbers. And you still need to strip - because I’m taking your uniform,” when I see her look of confusion, I add, ”Believe me, girl... tonight, we’re saving lives, not ending them.”

****

Defensive Technologies was right before me now. I have to be so careful not to tear the uniform in anyway while it’s on me as I enter through a side door, unarmed and without cameras.

It was the only entrance unguarded.

Dale was correct - they minimised security for the direct purpose of making sure attention wasn’t brought to this building.

STRIKE was going to access this same door after I gave the thumbs up.

For now, I am the first to enter as I have the disguise.

I open the old rickety door, and I blink in the blinding light of a white corridor lit by too many fluorescent bulbs.

It was like a Frankincense City building, but maintained well enough to be used for it’s secret purpose.

Avalon’s weapons and their defense.

As I look up and down the empty corridor, I breathe a sigh of relief.

Gabriel, the guard, had assured me that under fifty people occupied the building. This first level was abandoned, unused, but lit as an entrance. The second level was administrative, every level above that was labs, storage and research centres. When we asked about Casey, she knew exactly who he was.

She was terrified to admit he was on the top level, restricted from everyone else. As far as she knew, he was only studied during day light hours... he was allowed to sleep at night.

The only access to higher levels was the stairs or one lift. Gabriel assured the stairs were never used - unless an employee was looking to keep fit.

I head to the stair case and open the doors to glance up.

When I see the coast is clear, I hurry back to the door I entered through, about to urge STRIKE to follow.

However, before I can open it, it’s shoved open and my beasts quickly file through.

I stand back a few paces, blushing a little - because they had all been worried about me with shared looks of concern on their faces.

They straighten their backs and pretend to look like they weren’t just panicked a moment ago about my well being.

“This way,” I politely point towards the stair case doors and Dale holds out his hand.

“After you, kitten,” he drawls, looking well... he obviously felt better away from the confines of the Shadow Lair.

He belonged out here with his beasts, doing missions like this.

I just hoped they weren’t rusty after a year being either Playboys or New World puppets, pleasing their superiors to gain influence and knowledge.

I could constantly feel the vibe underneath... a vibe of constant anger. If I had time, maybe I could fuck some joy back into their life.

But not until I had satisfied myself by torturing them a little more with my ‘Holt’ stories - completely made up, just to mess with them.

All Holt and I did today was have tea together in his apartment, while he showed me his collection of artwork.

He wasn’t a bad guy - he was actually quite intelligent when I got to know him. His nerves often made him sound silly... but he was sweet and I soon decided he was trust worthy too. I hoped to get him on our side eventually, I didn’t want the poor bugger to die.

For now, I lead STRIKE up the stairs - we have a long way to go.

While we ascend to the top without a fuss, all of us are nervous by the time we reach the very top floor and the emergency door.

A more heavy silence descends... we were about to see if Casey was here... if he was still the same... or if he was beyond repair.

It was an intense moment to consider.

I gulp as I grab the door handle, turning to Dale to see him nod at me to continue. His eyes were already slit with his panther DNA... he was preparing to kill.

Before I open the door, I also grab the gun from my belt, curtesy of Gabriel.

I swing the door open and step into the top level. Just past a plain corridor is a glass screen, where a man behind a control panel, reads a book while squeezing a stress ball in one of his hands.

Unfortunately for me, he notices a movement at the corner of his eye... he looks up, and he spots me.

For a moment I forget I am disguised, until he presses a button to let the sliding door to his station open. He stands and I quickly let the door close behind me, putting my gun back in my belt.

The man dressed in a white plain uniform, comes to stands in the open door and he looks concernced.

“Is everything okay?” he asks, confused by a guard’s presence, “Have we been infiltrated?”

“Yes, we have been,” I answer, “You need to evacuate the area while I secure this station. Don’t go through the lift - until the intruders are found, we must be vigilant. Use the stairs.”

“Yes, yes, I understand,” he nods and walks to the exit doors to the stairs.

As he innocently opens the doors, large hands grab him and haul him through.

I hear a scream as the door slips shut again for a moment... I know they’ve thrown him off to fall down all the way to the bottom.

It would be a lovely sight to see later on... yikes... not!

I turn, shivering with disgust as I head into the control room and look through the second wall of glass... into a tiled white room.

At first I don’t see anything.

I see a white lab, a kitchen, a fridge in the corner. It’s too dark to make out anything else, so I look for a light switch on the control panel as STRIKE filter in to join me.

"Kitten?" Dale asks, in a rush to find Casey.

“I’m looking for a light switch,” I whisper, just about the same time that I find it and flip the switch.

The lab lights up and everything is suddenly clear.

STRIKE stand with me - and they’re as frozen as me at the sight before us.

In a cage on the ground, Viola is lying crumpled, looking starved and weak. The now 13 year old girl lies completely still... I’m not sure if she is dead when she doesn’t react to the lights being switched on.

But then my gaze is drawn up, to the metal cross which is tilted with a being strapped down, tight.

This being, at first, looks like a complete stranger.

Just another beast... created in line for destruction and use at the hands of the rich and the powerful.

But the blonde hair was too white, the familiar black eyes were blinking awake, confused about what was happening.

Casey was a beast.

A big, bad beast. Like... the biggest... out of all the members of STRIKE... he was clearly - even from this distance - larger than them.

He was massive. How else do I put it?

And it was unreal.

The poor boy, 10 years old... was now an adult. He obviously couldn’t see us because he doesn’t register any faces behind the glass.

He speaks to Viola... and she eventually moves and looks up at him, speaking back with her hands with her sign language.

They had no idea we were about to save them... and they both looked so utterly destroyed.

“Release him,” Serge snarls from behind me, hoping that I can find a button to unlock Casey’s restraints.

I frantically look for a button.

“Here’s the door, here’s the door, go,” I point to the door to the lab, while I also look for the restraints button.

“Here,” Ace grabs my hand and shows me to the right button, “Doll... it’s okay...”

“It’s not okay,” I choke up as tears roll down my cheeks, “It’s not okay what’s been done to them,” I press the button - and Casey is released off the cross as Dale, Jose and Serge enter the lab first.

I feel sad... because both kids look traumatised.

Beaten.

Fractured.

V was caged like an animal and had probably been treated like one too.

Casey looked dead in the eyes... even as he yells out ”Dad!" and collapses into Dale’s arms, crying on his shoulder... Dale locks his arms around him, holding him tight while growling something comforting into his ear.

All I can think is Casey looks so broken - so fucking broken.

It’s a silly sadness I feel - never witnessing a lab situation like this before.

My beasts were used to it, but I was just shocked.

However, the reason my sadness is nonsense is because it was stupid of me to forget the facts.

Casey was born to be a beast... and he was now that very beast - grown up, all too fast.

He was designed to be the best.

And I had a feeling he was about to show us exactly what that meant...

...because that dead look in his eyes?

Was quickly turning to passionate fire, even as the tears roll down his now defined cheek bones.

In seconds, Casey visibly goes from looking utterly broken... to one hell of an angry motherfucker.

And I get the feeling a whole lot of people are about to die.

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