Chapter 39: Death of an Alliance
The underground garage is generally cool, except for the obvious and very hot, radiating gazes which were burning holes through the pink lamborghini. My Brownie Squad couldn’t take their eyes off the new addition and they seemed entranced by it’s beauty.
“It is mine,” Raven whispers.
“It is ours,” I correct her and she puts up a firm hand to silence me.
“...mine,” she whispers yet again and she reaches over and holds out her palm for the keys, which I hold. I’m impressed by her boldness and courage so I hand her the keys without a fuss.
“Careful,” I murmur and glance over our shoulders to STRIKE, who wait by their car, smirking at my squad’s reactions. They were proud of their gift, but as soon as I turn to face them, they pretend to look all serious and tough again; losing their smirks and straightening their backs, “The plan, boys?”
Dale curls his finger at me and motions me to come closer, where he stands by the back door with Serge while Jose waits by the driver’s side and Ace waits by shotgun.
“Wherever the action is most intense,” Dale nods to Jose, “The Square. Apparently, a rebellion is forming...”
“I just searched up the details,” Jose gruffly adds, “Neo-Aristocrats, Misfits, college kids, rich people, poor people... and apparently some New World representatives. They’re all protesting in light of the allegations about Serge, which they all believe to be true.”
“Coal mentioned that I lose myself in uncontrollable rages,” Serge speaks up next, looking serious and solemn, almost calm... which I consider very odd and very dangerous, coming from him, “The SWAT team killed twenty three Neo-Aristocrats that night with coward’s bullets, I merely knocked out the twenty other soldiers with my electricity. Yet now they proclaim 100 were electrocuted to death and that I helped Dale escape the Freeman Complex... and now they’re all protesting a lie they believe to be true,” Serge has never spoken so many words in his life as he reasonably adds, “Casey just looked up the details before we left, the DNA and biological information about our creation, released online by ‘Prince’ Rueben. Even to a kid’s eyes, the documents were fake. But the most interesting point was how unlike Dale, Jose and Ace’s papers... mine said, inbold, that my Igniter genes were degenerative to mind function... in other words... imminent insanity. Along with tendency to cannibalise and molest children. Seriously. The DNA listed was completely false and the attributes, were also, obviously, completely false. They didn’t even mention fury to an atomic level or the most handsome scowl... my most, attributed attributes. Needless to say, I’m offended, my ego is in shreds and I have a really hard boner, for all the dickheads I’m about to fry. So get your ass in the car and let’s move it, doll.”
“...p-perhaps,” I stop attempting to speak because I have to gawk a bit longer as even Dale, Jose and Ace are also giving Serge glances of pure astonishment after his longest speech ever, “Perhaps you are changing... Serge... what was that... that came out of your mouth, just now?”
He doesn’t appreciate my immediate mocking.
“Get your ass in the car, doll,” Serge doesn’t smile, smirk or frown, which has my heart beat racing in terror.
“Okay, but...” I turn to the lamborghini, where my Brownie Squad, who are completely disinterested in the men, and are more so delighted in their new car while touching the surrounds and petting it like it’s their new beast to play with.
“Funny thing is, kitten,” Dale speaks up next, “It’s a two seater. Three they can manage... but you’re with us.”
“Oh,” a flood of relief fills me, a relief I don’t expect but an uncontrollable smile spreads out on my face, regardless, “Ah, great,” I turn back to my girls before my four beasts see me blush in excitement, “Girls,” I call out to them and they turn to me with their backs straight and their ears attuned, “Drive safely and keep up,” I wink at Raven, who’s eyes sparkle with a challenge.
“No funny stuff, girls,” Dale calls out to reaffirm, “Or I’ll take your new toy off you.”
I turn back to Raven to see her reaction and I’m surprised to see her look down and very audibly growl, “...good luck with that.”
“Discipline, Alyssa,” Dale immediately growls to me next, “You need to learn to control while you lead... before things get out of hand... do you understand me? I said three casualties waiting to happen back in PC. They survived. Now it’s on you to keep them on side. Am I making sense, kitten?”
“You’re talking to an Ultima,” I remind him while rolling my eyes.
“Don’t roll your eyes at me, doll,” Dale looks satisfied as I finally make my way towards him. Serge casually and far too quietly, slides into his side of the car while Jose and Ace also slip into their positions in front. Dale holds the door open for me and I take the middle seat. As soon as we’re all buckled in, Jose starts us moving, “You’re an Ultimate, yes,” Dale continues now, “But you’re an untrained Ultimate, kitten. I was brought up day after day after day, training for leadership. I have the refined techniques... you just have your instincts... and a heart that’s too big.”
“A heart that’s too big?” I repeat his words while I feel said heart, clench in rejection of such a statement. Not that I didn’t want the words to be true, but I didn’t want him to sound so against such a thing, “...and what is wrong with a big heart?”
“If you lose control of those girls as they start to pick up on life, and their learning accelerates faster than you can handle... if they stop listening to you, you failed as an Ultimate,” Dale explains this far too happily and I sideways glare at him to see him smirking while my brain does a quick pick up on the meaning behind his words.
I’d fail as an Ultima if I lost control of my squad, but why did I have a feeling Dale wanted me to fail? Just to prove he was the Ultimate Ultima. What a dick! Well, I had to remember, a megalomaniac was obsessed with power and he was proud and expressive of his megalomania.
“Poor, Alyssa,” I hear Ace speak up as we finally exit out onto the road where the sun rays can warm us slightly through the tinted windows, “Your degradation is so slow and painful to watch.”
“What do you mean by that?” I instantly snap, almost instantly losing my patience. I see Jose eye me through the rear view mirror and chuckle while Ace looks far too smug while stroking his sniper.
“...nothing, doll,” Ace shrugs and replies unconvincingly, “I just wanted to tease you because you’re so tense.”
“Step on it,” I growl in unison with Serge to hurry Jose. I give Serge a small smile but I just see lightening dance on his fingers, while his electrical blue eyes are in deep thought.
“Shhh...” I hear Dale mockingly try to calm me as his hand reaches out and slips through mine, which is resting on my knee. He clasps it tightly as he adds, “...your degradation is a slow process but totally worth the end result.”
I’m completely confused by all their banter and even Serge comes back to reality for the moment and smirks at this.
“Are you guys just fucking with me or what?” I ask, confused by their mischievous smiles and cheeky eyes.
However, they do not answer me. Then, not long after, we bump into an alley way and eventually turn into a deserted multilevel car park with wood barricading the entrance... needless to say we just barge right through and make the entrance now clear to access.
When I look over my shoulder, I see Raven right on our ass and she waves at me while grinning. Beside her, Strawberry sits with Blue on her lap, and they both smile warmly at me.
It’s genuine. No rebellion. No attitude. Just respectful obedience.
As for STRIKE... I didn’t know what game they were hinting at but there was no time to question it.
“Perfect cover,” Jose growls in approval of his scouting skills as he parks the car on the third level and motions for us to get out of the car.
I slip out with Dale and jerk my hand back to my side when I pretend I need to intercept my girls.
Dale let’s me stalk off without a fuss and as STRIKE stand behind me together in a circle, I watch the doors slide up instead of out on the lamborghini, and out jumps Blue, Strawberry and Raven. I hold out my hands and gather them into our own circle, while I glance at their long shirts and borrowed boxers... despite this... I still try to imagine we are superior and more funny, more intelligent and way better than STRIKE in every way.
“What’s going on, boss?” Strawberry asks me, worried that I’ve got us huddled so close together.
“Breathe it in,” I murmur, “Freedom. You’re all free now. But, there’s dangerous people out there, so promise me one thing... listen to me, no matter what. Even if you learn more and think otherwise. I don’t want to control you, I promise, but I want to protect you until you’re all individually capable of independent life. Then, it will be your decision whether you respect me as your leader or you prefer to seek another passage in life.”
I am proud of my speech and glance at each Brownie Squad member for a hopeful smile. Instead, they all look confused.
“What is an ‘independent’ life, boss? What a strange word,” Blue asks me, honestly curious and eager to learn.
“When you say passage in life, do you mean roads? Roads I can drive on?” Raven asks me, “Like a Taxi Driver?”
“I would like to go to school,” Strawberry speaks up last, “To learn about my passion. Casey said they can teach you anything. They can teach me about guns and all the different kinds, how they work and what bullets travel faster than others,” she sounds so passionate as she clasps her hands together, even her eyes well up with moisture.
“I don’t think you can learn that at school, Strawberry, I’m sorry,” I try to sound reasonable and Strawberry looks truly devastated by such news, “And Blue, independent life is when you make your own choices. And Raven, same thing, your passage in life is what you choose.”
“I choose you,” Blue instantly speaks up and Strawberry and Raven both nod.
“I choose the Brownie Squad,” Raven adds.
“As do I,” Strawberry sighs in content with our unity.
“I knew we were united,” I grin and they all look instantly mischievous.
“...we can be more united if you wish, boss, you simply have to ask,” Raven adds.
“Just say the word, beautiful Alyssa,” Strawberry passes me a wide smile and Blue claps her hands in delight.
I blush, because they are trying to seduce me.
“U-um,” I can’t finish while I blush, when I feel more than hear the very loud silence behind us. I turn to see STRIKE giving me possessive looks.
“We don’t share our kitten,” Dale speaks up and growls this firmly, only for my three girls to look extremely disappointed.
“Poo,” Strawberry sighs and I turn to her in shock.
“What?” I ask, wondering where she learnt to say such a childish thing.
“Casey says that when he’s frustrated,” Strawberry complains, “I’m frustrated... I’d feel better if I could hold that sniper... at least once?”
I watch Ace hold his gun closer and gape at us.
“No!” he roars the response and is the first to walk off.
“Poo...” Strawberry sighs again.
“Stay in line,” Dale growls at Ace to stop and he does halt... while I break out into an uncontrollable smirk.
“Failure,” I whisper and I don’t mean for Dale to hear but his tyrian purple eyes snap to mine and he’s not impressed.
"Bad, kitten,” Dale raises his finger and he turns from his group to peek out of the broken plaster wall to gaze down on The Square; a popular place for protestors to gather. I watch him listen into some words below and his face quickly shuts down all emotion.
I watch him turn and he seems to share a knowing look with the rest of STRIKE.
Then, he turns to me and his neutral expression changes back to normal... but the shift is strange and my Ultima suspicions rise quickly.
“What would you like us to do?” I ask, professionally and to the point.
“This shouldn’t be too hard,” Dale also speaks professionally, “Your squad is too inexperienced for that large crowd. I need you to keep out of sight. Listen to music, sit in the lamborghini, don’t look down... I don’t want anyone to see your face and recognise you... kitten... do you understand me? Do not peek at what we do. I don’t want to be on alert to co-ordinate my team’s asses, and then have to save yours if someone spots you and a crowd of protesters decide to burn your building down to ashes. Do you understand?”
“You don’t have to ask, do I understand, a million times. You know I do. And fine, just this time, we’ll sit out,” I shrug like it’s no big deal and he sends me an approving smile.
“Good, kitten,” Dale turns to his men and nods his head, “Move out.”
“Get back in the car, girls, relax,” I call out to them audibly and pretend to hurry over and check out the interior of the lamborghini as Raven opens the doors for us.
“Isn’t it amazing?” Blue asks me, but my gaze isn’t truly focused on the amazing design... or anything, for that matter.
Because, instead, after a few seconds, I look over my shoulder and see that STRIKE have descended down the car park stairs.
“Something isn’t right,” I growl and walk away from the lamborghini, motioning for my Brownie Squad to follow.
I rush over to the peep hole in the wall and I can’t see much other than lot’s of heads and a small podium where someone is screaming out messages.
It is not until I focus through the slurred screams that I understand the chanting that is being passed around.
Misfits, New World, Frankensteins and Aristocrats. We. Don’t. Want. Gangs. Misfits, New World, Frankensteins, Aristocrats. We. Don’t. Want. Gangs!
...and then, as one chant falls, another occupant takes the stage and starts a new chant every minute.
No more DNA soldiers, it’s time we moved forward. No more DNA soldiers, it’s time we moved forward!
And it only get’s more specific.
Protect our children, defend our streets, we’re good citizens, we just want peace. Protect our children, defend our streets, we’re good citizens, we just want peace!
Then... as I expect Dale feared, it turns for the worst.
Kill the lightening, kill the switch, kill the lightening, kill the switch!
No more shadows, no more blood, no more knives and no more guns.
Lock up the rebel soldiers, save the city, New World Orders! Lock up the rebel soldiers, save the city, New World Orders!
This last one sticks for a good while, and I feel the heat of my Brownie Squad as they lean in around me to try and hear, even if they can’t see out my peep hole.
I lean in further when I see familiar heads pop up behind the podium. So far, it’s a peaceful protest and my heart strains in my chest as I see, before I even seem to hear, a gun shot.
The woman who was chanting and was dressed in New World representative clothing, falls off the stage into the crowd below and the remaining line of protestors with new lines prepared, scream and scatter into the crowd.
Except for two who don’t make it.
“Funny thing, evolution,” Dale jumps up into view and calls out so his voice is picked up from the microphone on the podium... I recognise it as the same line he used last night, “No one seems to understand what evolution means.”
I see Jose drag two twin sisters, up onto the stage. They’re crying and I hear them calling out to their mother... who I soon realise is the woman Ace shot. The girls are also from the New World... they must be visiting with their mother while she represented what city she came from.
“We’re not your enemy,” Dale continues to explain to the crowd, “The New World is the only thing trying to blow us apart and we are the only reason you all still live safe lives. Yes, the city usually smells like shit and leaking gas lines, but whom, with superior technology and amazing ‘credentials’, controls our supplies for such maintenance? Avalon and Atlantis. I’m not going to tell you how to live, or what to do... but I’ll deliver a fun truth. Get the camera’s on me, come on, don’t be scared,” Dale persuades the terrified camera crews to approach closer, “I want the whole world to see this... to hear this...” he motions for Jose to force the girls onto their knees and my heart almost stops beating as Dale also squats to get closer to the camera and the crying girls. I think it’s the first time he’s ever publicly revealed his face to such a crowd or cameras, “I hope Avalon and Atlantis are listening, because I have an important message for you. I was born to protect this city... I speak truth and nothing but the truth. Serge, or as you know him, Lightening, did not kill those Neo-Aristocrats, but he knocked out the New World soldiers who massacred them. ‘Apparently’ your soldiers were bullet ridden yet they were the only ones with the guns... clearly... you New World folk don’t know what bullet wounds look like so please watch and listen carefully. Evolution is a funny thing and here’s a quick lesson in New World science theories. The Force of Depravity all reside in New Worlds. But the Force of Supremacy lies under my feet... in this city... as for me, I’m designed to live forever, Reuben... Vana... remember my words... and of course this is also for the dearest children of FC... the reason you sleep at night, the reason you live, is not the vaccines... it’s me,” Dale smirks and he reaches into his suit, pulls out his hand gun and without even looking he shoots one bullet perfectly.
It flies right through both girl’s heads.
One by one, I see them collapse on one another and then fall off the stage, right down to join their dead mother.
I almost want to puke, it is the most horrible thing I’ve ever seen in my life.
I stand up and turn, blocking the peep hole from my Brownie Squad.
Screams fill the air outside and the abandoned car park.
“What happened out there?” Blue asks me, timidly.
“Something I didn’t expect to see,” I whisper as I point to the lamborghini, “Let’s go for a drive, girls. Why not? It’ll be a tight squeeze but it’ll be fun, right? Raven... please drive fast and don’t stop,” I watch as they all obey and turn to the car, while I try to maintain my leadership while fighting off the trembling that threatens to take hold of my body.
I was disgusted.
I was filled with fury.
And I was horrified.
But mostly... I felt like my trust- my dumb, blind and ridiculous trust- in animals of murder and no mercy, was completely and utterly shattered.
Looking out that broken wall... it’s like my familiar and favourite beasts... became strangers in a split second.
So, now I walk to the lamborghini, my girls slipping in... and I don’t even make it to the door when I jerk in surprise.
All because I hear the screaming outside abruptly interrupted by a huge thunderous bolt of lightening...
...and then there is complete silence.
I can’t make myself look again.
We had to get out of here.
Blue sits on the middle glove box and I sit on Strawberry whilst Raven drives.
We needed to get away, and I desperately hoped after we achieved some distance...
...that I never ran into STRIKE again.
And how my beasts reacted, would be completely up to them.