NOTE; I highly highly advise you to read ANDROMEDA first, which is a complete and free, short erotic thriller with 9 chapters [it’s a quick read and probably one of my best stories :) ]. It’s basically Ariel meeting the Zenith Alphas [sexy time ;) ]. It isn’t completely necessary but it will help a lot with understanding her condition in this chapter.
“You’re always alone. Did you murder Viola in cold blood and never tell us? I saw her with you two days ago, but where is she now, Casey?” Sally leans her elbows on the table for six, her face a pretty mess, a constant state of chaos, always loving to feud like her father, Serge.
“Don’t start asking your stupid questions again, you lil’ shit,” Casey watches Sal’ with narrowed eyes, his fresh ‘Shadow Mayor’ suit distinguished him as a proper title in Frankincense City. A Dark Prince. But a sweet brother, never the less.
Sally tilts up her chin and spins her Tracer Bracelet around her wrist, a device to track her movements so she didn’t leave the city. She just got out of detention last week for stealing military toys again.
I loved Sally for her adventurous spirit and daring humour, she was a funny big sis, but she had a look in her eye that spelled trouble just like Serge, her bio-father.
“I just want to know why I never see you two together. Even though you’re supposedly ‘together’. Are you perpetually alone in public, Casey? It’s not a good look for a Shadow Mayor,” Sally kicks Casey’s leg under the table and he shoves his boot up and over, into the side of her freshly served soup, causing the whole thing to splash out spectacularly before it drips to the sidewalk... and then the gutter.
“Oh, sorry,” Casey drops his dirty napkin into the empty bowl for good measure and Sally sends over a loving kiss of blue lightning into his eyeball.
A flash and sizzle in the air, warms the conversation considerably. It also gets the public eye trained on our lil’ family bust up. Passers-by watch the show as Casey gets buzzed and he’s chair almost topples over after he’s tried to dodge her petty attack.
Mum rushes over after coming outside to witness the commotion, and I watch her steady Casey’s chair back down to the concrete, laying a protective hand through his blonde hairdo. Alyssa’s metallic silver hair is perfectly swept back over one shoulder, her white indestructible leotard never an inch out of place.
“Sally, geez, don’t go for the eyes, you might blind someone,” Mum shakes her head but she looks worn out, and then she turns to me next, “Why are you still wearing that gas-mark, Ariel? You look really silly in that. It’s too big for your face. This is a civil family meeting, not a war zone.”
“Where are our fathers at, then?” I ask through the gas mask, the noise distorted but in a pleasant way. I like the dissonant sound. Sally slaps her palm down on the table and nods in agreement with me, before her eyes glare at the wasted soup. My sis flicks the spillage onto Casey’s new suit, grinning her victory. Mum’s fingers curl in Casey’s hair, warning him not to start either. Sal’ and Casey almost start brawling across the table, after death staring each other, until we’re all drowned out by the roar surging down from above us.
It’s areal blast.
We’re all darkened by a shadow in the sky.
And we all look up.
K.R.SKY. is a military UFO; as Sally and I liked to joke. Except now it’s blasting hot polluted waste over our little family meeting on 5th street FC, blowing the remaining soup out in all directions, to mist over all our outfits. A lovely mess.
My jeans and leather jacket get a lil’ bit messed up, while Sal’s overall creased day-dress, ends up ironed by the time K.R.SKY has passed our location in the city centre.
I, however, am also holding the mask tighter around my face, worried about the amount of pollution that may accidentally filter through. Now there was a toxic by-product in the air with the burning fuel... and there was a reason pregnancies didn’t last long in this city.
“Soooo, REIGN are visiting?” Sally asks the question on all our minds, a little cruel smile playing on her mouth. Casey looks a little worried, while mum passes some spare napkins around. I shake my head and she lays a hand on my shoulder, squeezing it briefly.
“It’s why I called this meeting,” Mum pushes the hair out of my eyes, a nervous habit, “STRIKE are in emergency talks with our allies...”
“REIGN are not true allies,” Sally scoffs and angrily wipes off the soup stains, while we all watch her hide those strange tears from her eyes.
Not this again.
Sally always got emotional about REIGN, who were four men. Kane, Clarence, Earl and Miles; technically cyborg soldiers, their creation was inspired by our Ultima fathers, artificially cloned from their DNA, developed by the enemy many decades ago… yeah, it’s a long story.
My whole family were un-aging Ultimas. We weren’t exactly normal. More like individual blood thirsty time bombs who loved a good fight at any given opportunity. We were made to rule. We were also control freaks, emotional pieces of shit, lethal in unique ways and just a little bit crazy. I loved my family.
“Sally, this is a very serious situation, please listen and don’t get upset,” Mum drops into a chair next to me and glances between her children.
Casey pulls out a cigar and lights it, preparing for the news she has to share.
“FC is under surveillance,” FC was Frankincense City, our city, “…from an unknown entity,” Mum sighs, and I try not to visibly stiffen, “That’s all I know but... from the way your fathers reacted to the probe; we’re under real threat.”
“What was the probe?” Casey asks, confused.
“A silent phone call came through to the phone line for bomb threats. Dale answered, and the man on the other end just listened in. He said nothing. I don’t know who’s targeted but I needed you all out of the usual hang outs - that’s why we came to this diner. Peace of mind. We’ve never been here before and I’m not taking any risks -”
“What’s so suspicious about a silent phone call?” Casey queries.
“It’s probably nothing,” Mum tries to smile, “Dale is just over cautious about things that make him uneasy.”
“You know REIGN killed my friends, right? How many times do I have to remind you,” Sally mentions this, every time REIGN visit, we hear her concerns.
“I know,” and then Alyssa answers the same every time, “I’m sorry. Sal. You know I am.”
“And it’s your fault, mum,” Sally smiles at Alyssa without blinking, “You selfish bitch. You never cared that REIGN killed them. You never have.”
"Sally, you have always been better off without those lousy pieces of New World scum. I say good riddance,” Casey takes a jab, even though he shouldn’t, because Sally liked to have a reason to go crazy about her friends that died 18 years ago.
I never met them but, apparently REIGN murdered four of her friends right in front of her.
I guess I never took it so seriously because it felt like old news.
“I watched them get incinerated, CASEY!” Sally tries to launch at him but he stands and shoves her back, “FUCK YOU!”
I breathe heavier through the gas mask, trying not to laugh.
“It’s not funny, Ariel,” Alyssa growls at me and I shrug back at her. She was a pretty chilled out mum.
I guess I should say something though, to my big sis.
I take off the mask briefly to get Sally’s attention and she turns to glare at me next.
“No one is going to take you seriously if you keep acting like that Sally,” I add, “Please, calm down. We love you, sis. You know we do.”
“You don’t know what it’s like to have your best friends die... my lov –...” she stops herself from blurting lovers?
I raise a brow. It’s the first time Sally has hinted at something more with this story of hers.
Not four friends.
Four lovers, huh?
“Wha-?” I begin to ask, but Sally turns to storm off in more tears, only to be intercepted by a shimmer in the air.
Always on time.
Serge transpendisers in front of her and pulls her in for a tight hug.
“Baby doll, why are you always crying, damn it? Fuck,” Serge scowls over her head, kissing the top of it protectively.
“You should let Sally speak to REIGN, she needs consolation,” Mum snaps and jumps to her feet, ”Serge.”
"Alyssa,” Serge comes forward with his arm around Sal’s shoulders as she leans into him, sniffling and sad, comforted only briefly, “Do you want the bad or baddest news first?”
“Baddest,” Mum was such a chilled Queen.
“The city is sounding red sirens, we’re going to war,” Serge says it so casually, while he pulls Sally out front and holds her shoulders, “The bad news, baby doll, is the secret REIGN kept from you. We got some weapons to use. Army. Weapons. ARMY. Yeah. I’m sorry, doll.”
“...i-incinerated... they were i-i-incinerated...?” Sally stutters and Serge shakes his head.
“Nah, they ain’t dead, Sal - they’ve been under lock and key, training for Avalon’s defences. Kane didn’t want you around, Sally, prick wanted his toys back... I allowed that... we all did... now, since you’ll probably see them around soon, I’m just letting you know, we’re renting them. Rent. Sal. They ain’t staying, don’t get any ideas -!” Serge raises his voice, which doesn’t help.
Sally jerks away silently from her enthused father, seemingly numb and in shock as she spins and storms off.
Were ‘ARMY’ her friends? I’d question Sally about it later if she was willing to talk about it.
Serge doesn’t chase Sal and instead claps his hands together, not worried about broken hearts.
“Ariel, sweety...?” Serge is just one father of mine, I have four in total, but he is not biologically related to me, with a violent scar on his left cheek and a scowl that cuts his handsome face apart every time, “What the hell are you wearing? Alyssa, do you know?”
Mum shrugs, not understanding my need for a gas mask. Casey watches Sally leave, worried about her.
I don’t answer Serge about the mask, instead I ask him about the war, “Is Atlantis threatening us again, dad?”
Now, Serge loses his smile and a neutral expression ensues.
“How serious is it?” Mum asks the question, wanting to know, she would want to know, being the President of Frankincense City.
“It’s not Atlantis or Avalon threatening us,” Serge’s tone drips with excitement, even as my heart suddenly beats out of my chest and my stomach contracts, too tight - making me want to throw up and scream from the sudden rush of anxiety - don’t fucking say it, Serge, I want to forget it, don’t tell me they’re coming for FC - “We don’t know what it is. In truth. It’s something we didn’t even know was there. A fourth City.”
I stop breathing.
This was it.
...a threat of war?
Potential bomb threats?
I didn’t know why... but I do know by instinct alone, the Zenith Alphas were coming to FC.
Wade, Irving, Micha, Terror... I thought I would never see them again.
This was a fucking nightmare.
My stomach keeps contracting, city sounds drown out with a ringing in my ear, the sudden shock... intense fear for my future.
It’s too much.
There is burst from inside me.
And it’s running down my legs.