The Devil Is In the Details (Part 2)
Comics Retcon Universe 012
The Devil is in the Details
Eddie Bloomberg is trying to deal with life after his change, wondering if he made a mistake when he decided to help Cassie and trying to deal with the ramifications of that decision.
Author's Note: Here's a one shot but there's a possibility of continuing it at a later date. I have to stress that it might be wise to read the whole of Some Kind of Wonderful before you read this one though seeing as it sorta hints to events in that story. I'd like to thank djkauf for the devilish good editing and DC Comics for their characters.
“So what’s the plan?” I asked as we filed into a cab.
Rose didn’t say anything. She kept looking over her shoulder, staring at the little depot. She watched it until we started to drive down the road, then she let out a sigh. The driver asked us where we wanted to go and Rose quickly told him to the nearest area with a lot of people. He nodded, not asking anymore questions. I think they were paid not to ask those kinds of things. I planned on paying him more than his fair share just to keep him quiet. I’d pay Rose too, if it got her to tell me what was up. I asked again but she kept her mouth shut. She kept glancing over the back of the seat, fidgeting. I looked too but if there was anyone tailing us I couldn’t tell.
The cab dropped us off at a crowded shopping center. I paid the driver and the two of us filed out. Rose still didn’t say anything. But she took my hand, leading me through the crowd toward a food court. We didn’t go anywhere near the food places but just sat there. She finally let out the breath it seemed that she was holding for so long.
“Now will you tell me the plan?” I asked, she smiled.
“Sorry about that, but it’s been in my experience that you can’t trust anyone.”
I raised an eyebrow. “The cabby was out to get us?”
She shrugged. “My father has a big reach with long arms.”
I wasn’t sure how to respond to that. If her father was really as bad as she claimed then we were in real trouble. But I was certain my goons would keep his at bay. At least for the moment. A part of me wondered if it might be safer if the two of us ended up in DEO custody. At least they might be able to protect Rose. That is, of course, if her father wasn’t working for them to begin with. It was scary to think about but she did say he worked for the government so it wasn’t too far of a stretch.
Rose still looked a little paranoid, looking around the food court like each and every one of the people here were her enemy. I looked at the faces too but only to see if I recognized any of them. After all, it was only a matter of time that I did. I was certain they had figured out we weren’t on the bus anymore and it was only a matter of time before they figured out where we went. Paranoid, I know, but you’d be paranoid too if you had a clandestine government agency chasing after you.
Rose finally stopped making me so nervous. “I think we’re good for now.”
I still looked for a few more seconds. When I finished I looked over at the pizza stand. “Do you want to get something to eat?”
She didn’t answer, just smiled real big. I got up, leaving her alone as I went to get us some food. I was starving, the last time I’d anything real substantial was almost two days ago when I stopped with Wendy and Marvin. Back then, I hadn’t really thought about it but the food actually tasted like real food. I wonder if that meant my demon self was gone now. I know I did some crazy fire stuff back at the diner but what did that mean exactly. I tried not to think about too much as I went and ordered. I got us a couple slices of cheese and pepperoni. A few minutes later, I carried our slices back to the table. The two of us ate in relative silence. I kept staring at her, trying to figure her out. I knew what she told me but looking at this girl sitting across from me, it was hard to see a boy hiding inside there. I know what she said but it was just so hard to fathom. Here was this girl---this gorgeous blonde---it was just hard to believe that she wanted to be a guy.
She stopped eating when she noticed me staring. “Do I have sauce on my chin?”
I shook my head. “You’re just so pretty” It slipped out and I felt really stupid afterwards.
She blushed. I blushed too. Neither of us said much more after that.
We ate quickly then decided what to do. It was clear that we still wanted to get to California but neither of us were really how to go about it. We knew that taking a bus was probably not an option anymore, trains were probably out, too. In fact, any mode of transportation like that was probably too risky. I didn’t even suggest a plane. So we decided we’d probably have to drive, most likely hitchhike. But there was even some risk there. Not in hitchhiking of course but in roadblocks and things like that. I’m sure by now most of the local authorities had my picture and they were probably checking each car for me. The only way I could possibly get past them was with a…
“A disguise” said Rose as we left the food court.
I tried to protest but she wouldn’t have any of it. She grabbed my wrist and dragged me to some place I didn’t expect. When we stepped into the Goth themed store, I tried to dig my heels in but she was too strong. Never in my wild dreams would I have been caught dead in a place like this. As Eddie, I’m ashamed to say that I used to hassle the hell out of girls who shopped in places like this. I just don’t understand why someone would want to make themselves look like a painted freak. Ok, so harsh but I was an ass sometimes. Even now as Rose pushed me around, pulling clothes off the racks, I felt really uncomfortable.
A blue haired girl with several eyebrow rings tried to help us but Rose got rid of her. I think she didn’t want to draw attention to us. I was glad for that, looking at all the rings in that girls’ face made me nervous. It didn’t take her long to find the outfit: don’t ask me to describe it. She forced me into the changing room and I put it on reluctantly.
“Why do I have to be a Goth chick?”
Rose laughed. “Because they won’t be looking for one. Everyone looks at girls like this and doesn’t give them a second glance. You’ll be able to walk right under their noses and they won’t even see you.”
I groaned. The worst part of the outfit were the boots, they were clunky platform things with a massive heel. They made me feel like I was ten feet tall. Rose took off all the tags and took them to the register. Me I followed behind, stumbling in the heels and tugging on the skirt---it was too damn short. At the register, Rose grabbed a bunch of makeup from a display and actually talked the girl into allowing us to have the purple wig off a nearby mannequin. The girl frowned at us, probably thinking we were two friends pretending to be something she was. I smiled at her, mouthing “sorry” She gave me a dirty look, after that I didn’t feel so damn sorry.
Rose put the wig on my head before we left the store. When we got out into the mall proper, my outfit had the opposite effect. It was supposed to make me inconspicuous but it drew all the eyes to me. I felt really uncomfortable. Rose grabbed my hand and dragged me toward the nearest ladies room. She pushed me inside and locked the door. She dragged me over to the mirror and went to work on my makeup.
“How do you know how to do this?” I asked as she started putting a pale foundation on my face.
She smiled. “I went through a goth phase in middle school.”
I laughed. “I bet you looked cute” I blushed after saying that, not sure where it came from.
It took her about twenty minutes to do my makeup but when she was done, I hardly recognized myself. I was shocked as all hell. If anyone came looking for Ellie Jackson they’d definitely not look in my direction. I had to smile, shocked that the Goth Goddess in the mirror was me. I opened my mouth to make a comment but Rose grabbed my hand and dragged me out of the bathroom. We were on the move again; more people began to stare at me. Our next stop was a tattoo parlor, I immediately refused but we weren’t getting anything permanent. Rose talked me into a temporary one, ironically one that looked like a red She-demon.
“We should definitely get you pierced in a few places,” said Rose as she dragged me out of the parlor.
I dug my feet in. “Not happening.”
She frowned. “Fine, let’s get out of here then. “I’m getting tired of being on my feet.”
The two of us hailed a cab, telling him to take us to the nearest motel. The whole way the driver kept glancing in the rearview mirror, giving me strange looks. I glared every time he did so. I kept glaring at Rose too, not that she noticed. This disguise was supposed to make me look less conspicuous not more. At least I looked nothing like myself, which was a good thing. Especially when we came upon the first roadblock. Rose reached over and gently took my hand, closing her eyes when she did so. After a few seconds she opened them and smiled, shaking her head. I hope that meant we were in the clear. When we reached the police officer, he motioned for the driver to roll down the windows. The two of them exchanged some words and he looked into the back at us. He squinted then frowned. The whole time I was holding my breath.
Then he smiled and waved us on. Rose squeezed my hand harder.
“Told you it would work,” she said softly in my ear as the cab drove on.
Rose was paranoid again after we left the roadblock. She kept doing her looking over shoulder thing, making me nervous too. She got me looking as well, wondering if there really was someone following us. But after a few blocks, she seemed to relax some. I helped by gently holding her hand. It was kinda strange really. I wish I was doing all of this with Cissie. I liked Rose a lot but no matter how much I tried, I just couldn’t get Cissie out of my head. I know it was crazy---that she had abandoned me---but it still stung a bit. I guess I’d always feel a little longing for her but that life was over and behind me. She was Eddie Bloomberg’s girlfriend and Eddie was dead. I know it’s harsh but there was no way I was going back there, not after everything I did.
Rose smiled at me when the taxi finally stopped at a reasonable motel. Rose paid him with some of my money and the two of us went into the office. I half paid attention and didn’t really notice when she got us a single. The manager gave us a look though, raising his eyebrow. I felt a little disturbed by that, it made me wonder what he thought about the two of us,. I smiled at him and played it up a bit, slipping my arm around Rose’s waist. The guy went as white as a sheet as the two of us walked out of the office.
“I wish I had a camera,” said Rose and both of us laughed.
We walked toward our room but my arm remained around her waist.
When we got inside, Rose got paranoid again. She searched the room thoroughly. She pulled the covers off both beds, stripping them completely then opened all the dresser drawers, pulling them off and shaking them. After that, she lifted up the mattress and checked under the lampshades. She lifted the two pictures in the room off the wall and even went so far as taking the batteries out of the remote. It confused the hell out of me. After searching the main room, she went into the bathroom and turned it upside down as well. The whole thing took her about an hour and when she was done, she dropped down on the bare mattress and sighed heavily.
“Are you done being crazy yet?” I asked as I flopped down next to her.
She nodded. “I had to be sure.”
I laughed. “I heard that thing about bed bugs too, but I don’t think they’re that dangerous.”
She smiled and punched me playfully in the arm. “This is serious.” She looked around the room again. “When I walked in here I had this feeling…”
I lowered my voice. “Did you have a vision?”
She shook her head. “No but this is the kind of place that they would bug.”
I nodded then helped her off the bed. Since she had trashed the room, I made her help me put it back together. It took us another hour or so. When we were done, we flopped onto the bed together, exhausted. Lying on my back, next to her, felt kinda good. I turned and we looked each other in the face. Our heads were so close together that I could feel her breath on my face. I took a chance and leaned forward, kissing her. It was a little peck and she didn’t protest. When I pulled away, she smiled and kissed me back. It wasn’t a little peck. Before I knew what was going on, she was on top of me and shirts were on the ground. I know this is crazy and the two of us have only known each other for a short time but we couldn’t help ourselves.
It was a fury of kissing and flying clothes. She got me down to my skivvies; I got her down to just her panties. Her breasts were wonderful. I grabbed them and held on as I kissed her hard and passionately. We rolled around a lot, like two wild animals. Neither of us went any further than kissing but with most of our clothes off it felt much different. It felt wild and crazy and I liked it. I tried to envision myself doing something like this with Cissie but I couldn’t. There was no way that she was this kind of person. I’m sure she would have been an excellent lover but she was too shy and meek to do anything like this. Especially with someone they barely knew.
Rose was definitely not meek.
We fooled around for about an hour, after which time the two of us lay there for a while panting. Neither of us said a thing. I looked at her though, seeing the big smile on her face. During our foreplay, she was definitely in the dominant role. As Eddie, I would have felt really disturbed by that but for some reason it felt kinda nice now. I’m not saying I enjoy being submissive but it felt kinda nice to let her do most of the work, not that there was much work involved in kissing. I wonder if this meant that the two of us were together now. I know it sounds kinda strange but I liked what we did, a lot. I’d been dreaming about doing something like for so long---with Cissie---but to do it with Rose was something I hadn’t planned on.
“That was really good,” I said, reaching for her.
She reached for me too but suddenly stopped. The smile disappeared from her face and sprang up quickly in bed. The look on her face when she did so was very scary. “Son of a bitch” she said angrily as she jumped off the bed, scrambling around for her bra and shirt.
I sat up lazily. “What’s wrong?” I asked, pulling the sheet up to cover my partial nakedness.
“They’re coming,” she said as she put on her bra.
It was like ice water to my veins. I sprang out of bed too, the euphoria of our shared intimacy gone in a heartbeat. I found my shirt, pulling it on over my head. Then I scrabbled around too, looking for my skirt. As soon as I found it and pulled it on, I heard the wood of the front door crack. I snapped around and looked at Rose. She was in the corner of the room, opening her guitar case. I snapped back and looked at the door just as two burly men pushed their way inside. I immediately knew these guys weren’t with the DEO. They were huge---built like linemen–but much scarier. They weren’t dressed like DEO agents either. They scanned the room, looking at both of us---in our condition of undress---and smirked.
“Hope we’re not interrupting something ladies” said the uglier of the two, a bald guy with a little scar on his chin.
“I’m not going back,” said Rose as she stepped forward holding a pair of swords.
I did a double take when I saw them. At first, I couldn’t figure it out until I saw the empty guitar case. Then it hit me. She told me she didn’t play guitar…the case was to hide her swords. I’m not sure what I thought about that. I mean who the hell carries a pair of katanas around with them. I mean I’m not sure if I thought it was the coolest thing in the world or the freakiest. I want to say cool, just because I just finished making out with her.
The bald guy smirked. “You’re kidding right?”
“Put those away, little girl before you get hurt” said the other guy, a big black guy with a goatee.
Rose ignored them. Instead, she spoke to me. “Ellie, get out of here before this gets ugly.”
I shook my head. “I think I’ll stay for a while.”
“This isn’t up for debate,” snapped Rose angrily, keeping the two guys at bay with her blades.
“Then stop talking,” I said, clenching fists at my side.
The bald guy laughed. “Raul, you take the red head. I’ll shut up the smart mouth.”
The black guy came at me, trying to use sheer bulk to overpower me. He grabbed my shoulder, trying to force me to the ground. I struggled to get away but he had a vice like grip. So he backhanded me. As soon as his hand hit my cheek, snapping my head to the side, I felt the anger. When I recovered and turned back toward him, I felt the fire burning inside of me. I’m not sure if he noticed it at first but he did as soon as my hands turned red. As soon as that happened he stumbled backwards, taken by surprise. The other guy---the bald one---was shocked too. His momentary shock was the opening Rose needed. She went at him fast, driving her foot up the side of his head. He flew to the side, crashing into one of the dressers.
The black guy fell to his back in front of me. I felt taller as I approached him, stronger too. I came on him, all anger and fire. When I was almost on top of him, I saw my reflection in the mirror. What I saw shocked the hell out of me. It was me, well the demon me. The male demon me. I looked just like I did before, the old Eddie Bloomberg. Well, the newer me, but not quite the new me. I think you get what I’m saying. I wanted to smile and scream “hell yeah” but then I remembered what was going on. I shook my head, turning my attention back to the guy groveling in front of me.
“You shouldn’t have done that,” I said, my voice rumbling in that weird demonic way.
“I’m sorry, I’m really sorry” he stammered, the seat of his pants damp where he had wet himself.
I had to smile, remembering my demonic form had that effect on people.
Rose’s voice cut through the room: “He’s got a gun and is about to us it.”
The fear disappeared from the guy’s eyes in that second. True to Rose’s warning, he pulled a gun from behind his back. He pointed it at me and fired. The bullet hit me square in the chest but thankfully, I was my old self again. As soon as the projectile hit my flesh, it melted instantly. I’m not sure if he realized what happened because he squeezed off two more shots. Both of which disintegrated as soon they got to me. After that he tried to shoot me again but I grabbed his wrist, causing him to scream out in pain as my fingers burned through his shirt sleeve. I let go quickly but not before taking his gun. I held in my hand and forced heat into it. The gun got red hot and I dropped it on the floor, showing him I was not to be fucked with.
After that, he passed out. Then I heard a scream. I snapped around and saw Rose with her assailant up against the wall, the blade of her sword in his shoulder. He was screaming and struggling but she was holding him steady. I rushed over. I reached for her to stop but as soon as I did so I realized what would happen.
“Rose, you’re going to kill him,” I said, trying to make myself sound less threatening.
She didn’t turn to face me. “Better him than us” she said angrily, I could hear the pain in her voice.
“This isn’t you” I said, “you’re not a killer.”
She turned to me, tears in her eyes. If she was stunned by my appearance, she didn’t show it. Instead, she looked me up and down. She was a little surprised I could tell, but her pain overwhelmed all that. “They were going to kill us” she said, “I saw it.”
I nodded. “But we stopped it.”
She turned back to him, anger replacing pain. “Where is he?”
The man shook his head. “I don’t know lady. “We’re hired hands. This guy called us, told us where to find you and to get you no matter what. He promised us a fortune.”
“You’re lying” she said, twisted the blade a bit, the guy screamed out in pain.
I reached forward and grabbed her shoulder before I knew what I was doing. As soon as my hand touched her, she yelped. She let go of her sword, I quickly let go her. I had only been touching her for a few seconds so I don’t think I burned her too badly. She pulled away when I tried to reach for her again. My anger disappeared and I felt the fire dwindle. I’m not sure but I felt myself shrink too and the hair dangling in my face turned back into the fiery red of Ellie. Rose didn’t pull away as I wrapped my arms around her, apologizing for hurting her. She nodded and cried a bit. I looked at her shoulder, seeing the hand shaped burn on her shirt. It burned most of it away and got some of her skin but it wasn’t too bad. I sighed in relief, happy that I didn’t hurt someone else I loved. We stayed like that for a few minutes, with me holding her. I’m not sure when we finally pulled away but as soon as we did; we realized we were alone in the room. Rose cursed. I let go of her and ran for the open door. Whoever they were they were gone and we’d learned nothing from them. They clearly weren’t DEO but they did work for her father.
I came back into the room; Rose was sitting on the bed. I walked over and sat next to her, pulling her into another hug.
“They’re gone,” I said and she nodded. “Your father?”
“He keeps finding me. I’m not sure how he does it. It’s like I’m bugged or something. If I stay in one place for too long his goons show up and it’s always the same.”
I pulled her into a tight hug and she cried on my shoulder. She cried for a long time. We stayed like that for a while. I reassured her that everything was going to be ok. I promised I wasn’t going to let anyone take her, not as long as I was around. I think she liked that. We hugged for a little while longer which led to another make out session. I know it wasn’t really the time but I think it helped both of us. After that, we finished getting dressed and cleaned up as best as we could. We both decided it might be a good idea to bail again. Even though we had paid for the room for a night, it wasn’t a good idea to stay around.
It was a good thing too. As we were leaving---after a quick look around---we heard sirens. It was bound to be the cops coming our way. The motel was backed by some woods and a fence. We hopped the fence and disappeared into the foliage. I’m not sure how long we were running through the forest but eventually we came out on the other side, finding ourselves on a road. We made up our minds that we were going to walk as far as we could until we couldn’t anymore. Neither one of us wanted to stay in more than one spot for very long, which was a good thing.
I’m not sure how long we walked but eventually we came upon a little rest stop. We thought about looking for another motel but didn’t really like the idea. So instead, we found a gas station. Rose picked the lock on the bathroom and we slipped inside. We made ourselves nice and comfortable. I took first watch, letting her sleep in my arms. Thankfully, no one came in or else they would have been in a whole lot of hurt.
When I fell asleep, I dreamed of fire again and a whole lot of sinister laughter.
When I woke up, Rose was sleeping across my chest. I was a little confused at first when I looked around, not really remembering. It’s the second time in the last few days that I’ve awakened in some place where I don’t know where I am. It took a few seconds for me to comprehend that the two of us were in a gas station bathroom. I suppose it was the smell that finally reminded me. I’m not saying it was a horrible smell but I definitely didn’t notice it last night. I tried to ignore the smell as I took in the rest of our surroundings. The light was off in the room but there was a little square window toward the back that allowed morning light to stream through. The bathroom was small with only one stall and a urinal. Rose and I were resting against the wall opposite the urinal, right next to the sink.
I looked down at her, brushing a strand of hair from her face. As soon as I did so she stirred, opening her eyes slowly. She raised her head and looked around, still a little groggy.
“Where are we?” she asked, just as confused as I had been a few seconds ago.
“Bathroom” I said.
She groaned, pinching her nose. “So that’s where that smell is coming from.”
She slowly got off me, getting to her feet. I pushed off the floor and stretched. My limbs were a little stiff from sleeping against the wall all night but other than that, I slept fairly well. We both went to the bathroom---it was strange not to use the urinal when it was right there---then the two of us gathered our things and left. I’m not sure what time it was but when we slipped out of the bathroom there was only one car in the gas station parking lot. We figured it probably belonged to whoever ran the place. We didn’t stick around to see who that was.
We took off down the road again, trying our hardest to bum a ride. But it’s not easy in a place where no cars seem to want to come. The topography of the whole area changed in an instant too. One minute we were in a place that might look like civilization and next everything turned to flat arid desert. I cursed our stupidity for not getting anything at the gas station, especially water. We walked for about another hour or so through the heat when we got lucky. We caught a couple on their way to the border. I was able to use some of my dwindling cash supply to get us a ride---it sucked because I lost another hundred bucks. People can be some greedy these days.
Luckily, we were only with them for a few hours. When we got to the border between Nevada and California, I thought there might be some problems but we were able to get through without too much hassle. It helped that my disguise was still working. I nearly had a heart attack when I saw a state trooper on the side of the road. He was stopping vehicles and talking to drivers. When he talked to us though he didn’t even look twice at the nutty Goth girl in the back seat. Once we got into California, our ride dropped us off the first chance they could get. Good riddance as far as I was concerned. We ended up in the city of Barstow, in San Bernardino County. We didn’t stay long enough to do much sightseeing. We found a cab real quick.
“Where you ladies going?” asked the driver as we climbed inside.
“How far to Hollywood?” I asked.
The driver laughed. “About a hundred miles.”
I could see why he laughed. I definitely wasn’t going to pay for that cab fare. So I told him to take us to the nearest restaurant, after all Rose and I were starving. We didn’t have to go very far. Barstow was a nice place but I’m not sure I would want to live here. We got dropped off at a diner, I paid the man and we went inside. While Rose ordered the food, I used the pay phone. I called Aunt Marla, she answered on the second ring.
“Marla, it’s me,” I said softly.
She let out a loud sigh. “Where are you?”
I looked around to make sure no one heard me. “Barstow.”
She laughed. “You’re making good time then. What happened to the bus?”
“I can’t wait to hear it,” she laughed; it felt good to hear her voice again.
I took a deep breath and looked around. Rose was chatting with the waitress, a girl not much older than us. I sighed, she looked real happy. On the ride over here, I had some time to think. That’s all I’d been doing, thinking. I liked Rose a lot and I didn’t want anything bad to happen to her. She’d already been through so much and she was in enough of her own trouble. I thought about leaving her but knew she’d probably see that coming. But I knew I couldn’t drag her into anymore of this. I couldn’t drag myself into it either. To tell you the truth, I was tired of it. If not for Rose, they would have caught me a while ago. It was cool that she was trying to help and I loved her for it but this was enough. I was tired of all this running.
I took a deep breath. “The DEO are there aren’t they?”
I could tell as soon as Marla spoke. “Of course not sweetie, why would I do that to you?”
I laughed. “You’re a lousy liar Marla but it’s ok. I figured they’d try something like this, after all you’re my only other relative.”
“I don’t know what you’re talki…”
I laughed. “Don’t insult my intelligence. Put the agent in charge on the phone.”
There was a long silence, followed by the woman asking for more money. I inserted a few more coins. Then a familiar voice came on the line: “Hello Eddie.”
I sighed. “Hello Agent Faraday.”
“Why don’t you stop these games and turn yourself in?”
“I didn’t mean to hurt anyone, it was an accident.”
“I know that Eddie” he said with a sigh. “I’m going to help you in every way that I can. But I can’t help you if you keep running. You have to turn yourself in, it’s the only way.”
I bit my lip. “I’ll think about it.”
I didn’t give him a chance to say anything else. I hung up the phone and turned back around. I half expected to see Rose still laughing with the waitress but she was gone. I panicked and ran to the booth, my stuff was there, her’s wasn’t. I looked around, wondering if she went to the bathroom. I grabbed my bag and ran to it, pushing the door open. There was no one inside. I ran back out and found the waitress she’d been talking to. The woman was serving drinks to another table. I grabbed her arm and spun her around, causing her to spill them.
“Where’s my friend?” I asked angrily.
“She left sweetheart” said the woman in an annoyed tone then she reached into her pocket, handing me a napkin. “She gave me this for you.”
I took it and walked numbly toward the door. I read it as I walked, frowning. Elle, I’m sorry but I knew what you were going to do before you did. It sucks to be a precog I guess. I know there was no way I could talk you out of it so I bailed. Listen I’m sorry but I can’t go anywhere near those government guys, they’re too close to my Dad. I don’t want you to look for me either, I’m sorry but this is it for you and me. We had fun while it lasted. Love Rose. PS: Sorry about the wallet, I’ll pay you back sometime. I cursed, rifling through my bag. All I found were a couple of twenties, the rest of it---including my wallet---were gone.
She was gone, just like that. I wanted to cry but I couldn’t force the tears to come. Instead, I stood there for the longest time, holding the napkin in my numb fingers. After I fully recovered, I started off in the direction toward the train station. I knew I couldn’t afford a ticket to Hollywood---I only had about sixty bucks now---but maybe I could sneak aboard without anyone noticing. Of course, I didn’t plan it very well. As soon as I got there, I realized that that wasn’t an option. I sat and sulked on a bench inside the station for a while, trying to figure out my next course of action. It pissed me off that Rose could bail like this but I guess it was in her nature. I was a fool to get involved with her. If I ever saw her, again I think I might kick her in the face. Ok not really but I was definitely going to scold the hell out of her. Not very threatening but I liked her a lot.
The tears finally came. I suppose it was inevitable. I cried for a long time and it surprised me a bit that no one stopped to see if I was all right. People are real jackasses, I suppose. After I finished crying, I felt like shouting and telling everyone to fuck off but I didn’t. Instead, I left the station as quick as I could. As soon as I got to the front entrance, I stopped at the sight of the police car there. I cursed, wondering if they were looking for me. I was pretty certain that Faraday had traced our phone call. I mean if I was him, the train station would be the first place to look for me, too.
I forgot about my disguise though. The two officers walked right past me. I let out a loud sigh as soon as I was out the door. I looked around, trying to find a cab. I definitely didn’t have enough money to get to Hollywood but I suppose I could bluff it. Instead of a cab, I found the next best thing. There was a little red car sitting at the curb. I walked up it slowly, the college age guy behind the wheel. I pushed up my boobs a little bit, hoping it would help then I put a little sway in my step. I walked over and leaned into the open passenger window, smiling.
The guy behind the wheel did a double take. “Do I know you?”
“No” I said, putting on the sexy. “But I’d like to know you.”
He groaned. “I don’t solicit minors, especially freaky ones like you.”
I groaned. “I’m not a prostitute you jackass” I said, pulling open his door. “I’m a girl who needs a ride, are you going to help me or not.”
“Ummm hello, get out of my car.”
“I’ll give you sixty bucks to take me to Hollywood.”
He laughed. “It’s going to take a lot more than that.”
I looked him up and down. He was twenty tops, with long brown hair and dark sunglasses. I smiled when I looked at his shirt, a Blue Devil t-shirt. He was a kindred spirit. “I can get you a BD autograph.”
He laughed. “I have one of those.”
I bit my lip. “How about a set visit?”
He raised an eyebrow. “And how are you going to do that?”
I smiled. “My aunt’s the producer.”
He bit his lip. “Ok, kid, you’ve got yourself a deal.”
I squealed in happiness. I could have kissed him but I didn’t. Instead, I pulled on my seatbelt as he started his engine. “I’m Ellie by the way,” I said as we pulled away from the curb.
He smiled. “Chris Freeman”
“So she took all your cash and took off?” I nodded. “Man that blows.”
I nodded. “Not much I can do about it right now,” I said truthfully.
Chris laughed at that, he was a pretty cool guy. He wasn’t just a fan of Blue Devil, apparently, he was a fanatic. In fact, he was actually the president of his university’s fan club chapter. He was actually at the train station to pick up one of his fellow members. I felt kinda bad about that but he didn’t. He texted his friend, telling him a better offer came his way, he took a pic of me to send with the text. I smiled and posed for it. Yeah, I know but I was feeling particularly flirty. Hey who says being a girl can’t be fun some of the time. Maybe a little bit of Rose was rubbing off, who knows.
Chris and I talked about Blue Devil almost the whole way, it helped pass the time. According to him, a ride from Barstow to Hollywood should have taken about an hour and a half---without traffic. We were making good time until about noon or so and then we hit some kind of rush hour. I’m not sure how long we were stuck in it but it was a lot longer than an ninety minutes. We passed the time swapping war stories as he called it. He thought it was the coolest thing in the world that my aunt was the producer of all the films. He got really jealous when I told him I spent summers playing assistant for her.
About an hour into the road trip, he started asking questions again. “So you and this Rose chick, were you an item?”
I shrugged. “Might have been.”
It was the truth. We weren’t really together long enough to say we were anything but two strangers passing in the night. I thought there was something there---possibly more---but apparently, she didn’t. If she really liked me, she would have stuck around.
“Dude” he said with a big intake of breath. “That is so hot.”
I rolled my eyes. Typical guy. That thought gave me pause and scared the hell out of me. I was a typical guy. At least I used to be. Boy did that scare me. Was I that far gone now not to think of myself as a member of the male species. After all, I was part guy still, even if that part was a towering red demon dude. But for some reason this part---the Ellie part---felt more like me now than the red Eddie part. How messed up is that?
I tried not to think about it for the rest of the drive. Neither of us really spoke much after that, he concentrating on the road and me to my thoughts. When the familiar landmarks started to show up, I wasn’t the least bit excited. After all this wasn’t my first time here. He seemed to be a little more giddy than usual, probably because I promised what I did. I think he thought he was getting his backstage tour now. Boy did I hate to disappoint. It was no surprise that he brought me right to Blue Devil Studios---yeah the franchise was that big now. He stopped the car in front of the gate, giving the guard there some pause.
I sighed. “I didn’t want to come here” I said, annoyed.
He frowned. “I can’t have you renege on promises babe.”
I groaned. This guy was going to be a thorn.
“Ok here’s the deal, you take me to my aunt’s place and then I’ll have her give you some backstage passes or whatever, put your name on the list?”
He thought it over and then smiled. He might be pretty to look at but he was kinda thick. I think it was the sunglasses though it might have been the hair too. There was just something about him that made him look like he wasn’t playing with a full deck. He was a cool guy but he wasn’t someone I’d want to hang out with. Need an example, well on the ride over he kept talking to himself. It was kinda freaky; he kept looking in my direction when he did it too. I suppose it can’t be helped, the guy is a Blue Devil fan after all. They’re called Blue D’s on the Internet and some of them are a little less than sane. Chris was sorta on the border I guess.
He drove me away from the studio and took me to my aunt’s. She lived in Palmdale, in a house that was very Spanish in design and flavor. I didn’t really like it; it was too big and gaudy for me. When we pulled up to the front gate, I saw the stars in Chris’s eyes. I think he probably thought he hit it big, about to rub elbows with a big Hollywood producer. I rolled down the window, allowing the little camera by the gate to get a good look at my face. I wonder if the DEO showed her a picture of the new me. I know what you’re thinking and you’re probably right, this was way too risky. They were definitely waiting for me in there but to tell you the truth, I’m tired of all this shit. Do I trust Faraday, not one bit but I think I can convince him that everything that has happened isn’t all my fault.
I waved my hand in front of the lens. “Ellie Jackson, front and center. Come and get me boys.”
I think that might get their attention.
A few seconds later, the gate buzzed. Chris gave me a strange look but drove on anyway. My aunt’s driveway wasn’t all that long but it was kinda eerie, what with the pine trees lining either side of it. They were so close together they looked almost sinister. Chris definitely looked freaked. I smiled at him as we drove on. He didn’t drive much further, shutting the car off halfway there. He turned to me and frowned but he wasn’t looking at me.
“I did what you asked,” he asked, definitely not talking to me.
“Chris?” I asked, looking around. “Who are you talking to?”
He didn’t answer me. Instead, he started talking to someone else again. “She insisted on coming here. I tried to take her to the studio but she wanted to come here.”
He was freaking me out. I couldn’t sit here in the car with a guy who was clearly out of his mind. It was a good thing the car was stopped because it made what I did a whole hell of a lot easier. I reached behind me and opened the door, tumbling into my aunt’s driveway. Chris didn’t seem to notice at first. But when I got to my feet and started running toward the house, I heard him shout for me. I didn’t look back. Why is it that I always seem to associate with the weird people? First it was Wendy and her brother then Rose and now crazy Chris. It was like I was a giant magnet for these kinds of things. But I suppose something like this wasn’t really my fault. After all Wendy and Marvin weren’t all that bad, except she was a genius already in college and he stared at my boobs more than my face. Rose didn’t look at my boobs but I wouldn’t have minded if she did. She did suck on them yesterday though, that was real nice. As far as Chris was concerned, I’d be happy if I never saw the nut job again.
I ran as hard and as fast as I could for the house. Marla had a big yard but I got there without too much trouble. When I got to the front door, I regretted ringing the bell. It was kinda stupid but stupid was my middle name lately. As much as I didn’t want to run anymore, walking right into the DEO wasn’t exactly the smartest thing to do either. I should run, I need to run. Unfortunately, for me I came to that decision about ten seconds too late. As soon as the door opened, I saw Agent Faraday. He smiled at me. I turned to book but four agents appeared from all around me, guns drawn. I suppose I could have “demoned up” on them and burnt them to hell but what would that have solved.
Instead, I raised my hands in the air, turning back toward Faraday.
“Good girl” he said, holding up a pair of cuffs.
I explained my side of the story as best as I could. Aunt Marla was there the whole time to hold my hand, acting as moral support. The investigating agent---I didn’t know his name---never said a word but wrote everything I said down on a little notepad. He wrote fast, it kinda surprised me. These guys were pretty efficient I guess. After they arrested me in front of Marla’s house---I never actually got to go inside---they took me to the nearest police station for processing. There was already a crowd of media there waiting for us---an eager someone tipped them off I think. I wonder if it was a long haired nut who likes to talk to himself?
After I got to the station, several different people interrogated me. There was even a detective from both Chicago and Iowa---the Iowa one questioned me about the diner incident with the bikers. Both men wanted extraditing rights to me; they even had orders from local judges. But apparently, DEO trumped all that which pissed them off. Faraday did promise that if there were a trial then their charges would definitely be brought up. It scared me when he said if there was a trial, like maybe they were just going to lock me up somewhere or worse. I imagined a lethal injection might be only fitting; after all, I killed innocent people, my mother included.
I’m not sure how many times I was interviewed, maybe a dozen. I’d been in this room for several hours; the guy sitting across from me was the last---so far. It creeped me out that he wasn’t saying anything though. He just took my statement---for the umpteenth time. I tried to be as precise as I could, leaving out a few choice things of course. For instance, I didn’t mention the strange dreams with the demon. They’d probably think I was nuts. I also left out Rose, there was no way I was going to put her on the DEO’s radar. Hopefully she was long gone by now. I know she had that crazy idea to join that group from the Internet but she’d be stupid to stick in one place for too long, it was very apparent that her father had a lot of resources. I just hoped that where ever she was, she was in a lot better situation than I was in.
“Thank you Miss Jackson” said the man with the notepad, speaking for the very first time.
“It’s Bloomberg” said my aunt angrily, giving my hand a gentle squeeze. “No more of this hiding crap.”
The man didn’t react. He was probably paid to be as stiff as possible. Instead, he gathered his things and left us alone. Neither Marla nor I said anything for a while. I stared at the wall, sighing. It had been stupid to think that this was the right thing to do. I should have run with her, I should have headed south into Mexico. I might not have gotten over the border but at least I wouldn’t have been in this mess. I’m not sure why I thought going to Marla’s was the right thing to do. Momentary lapse of judgment I guess. They were going to put me in a hole somewhere and I was never going to see the light of day again.
“I’m so sorry sweetie,” said Marla, tearing up.
I shook my head. “It’s not your fault, M,” I said, using the childhood name I gave her. “I shouldn’t have gotten you involved in this.”
“I should have never let those men use me like that.”
I leaned over and wrapped her in a hug. I had no idea how good that would feel until I actually did it. Marla was my father’s sister and though I barely saw her, she was like a second Mom to me. Now that Mom was gone, I suppose she was the only mother I had left. I held her for a long time, tears forcing their way out of my body. It never felt so good to hold someone in my entire life. But as they say all good things must come to an end and they did as soon as the door to the interrogation room opened up. I turned and gave an evil look as Faraday walked into the room.
“Hello ladies” he said, giving me the once over. “You can take the ring off now Eddie if you like.”
I bit my lip. “I can’t” I said softly “the ring is gone.”
“Then that means?” asked my aunt, bewildered.
I nodded. “This is all me.”
“I don’t understand,” said Marla just as confused as I was.
Faraday was all business. If my revelation shocked him, he didn’t show it. “You mind telling me how that happened?”
I shrugged. “After the fire, I woke up in the woods. The ring was gone, I was naked and this was me.”
“And the other form?”
“Still there” I said, not wanting to show him. “I checked.”
He nodded. “Clearly we have much to discuss then.”
“So what happens to her now?” asked Marla, still holding my hand.
Faraday rubbed his temples. “It’s a mess. I have two states who want her and a superior who wants to bury her so deep underground that she won’t see the light of day until she’s thirty. Right now the only thing I can do is hold her here until the bureaucrats figure this all out.”
I didn’t like the sound of that. “So I go to jail?”
“For the time being. My superiors are making arrangements to move you to a more secure location. The government has a place in New Mexico that might fit for now. To tell you the truth we’re at a loss, you’re one of our firsts actually.”
“Should I be flattered?”
Faraday smiled. “I’ll try my best to sort things out. In the meantime I’m here to escort you to your temporary accommodations.”
And just like that, I was now a guest of the Los Angeles County Jail. Lucky me.
Two officers came into the room, I didn’t fight. Marla cried a lot and it took her some time to let me go. After that, I was handcuffed and escorted to my cell. They gave me a change of clothes. I was put in a secure wing of the women’s prison, they said to protect the other inmates from me. I guess that makes sense. After I was in my cell, Faraday stayed for a few minutes, trying to see if he could get more info out of me. I guess I can’t blame a guy for trying. I think he was interested in my ability to destroy the ring---that’s how he saw it anyway. I’m not sure but I was pretty convinced the government were afraid of Jade. I guess that makes sense, after all rumor has it she had a spaceship in orbit over the planet right now.
Faraday left after an hour of his own questioning. He got nowhere because I didn’t have answers for his questions. I changed my clothes for an orange jumpsuit and then spent the rest of the night lying on my little bunk. I stayed up at the ceiling, counting the tiles. I’m not sure how far I got before I fell asleep. I dreamt again that night, the same one with the fire and the laughing. Wendy and Marvin were in it again. Neron was there too. Wendy was dressed like a French maid, feeding the bastard grapes from a silver plate. Marvin was at his feet, like a dog. In fact, he was crouched before a silver bowl with his name on it. Both of them were wearing collars---Wendy’s had a chain attaching her’s to Neron’s chair.
I woke in a sweat in the morning. Someone brought me my breakfast. Then after a few hours, I was allowed some exercise time. The yard was vacant. They were still afraid I might harm the other inmates. I was fine with that, I didn’t want company anyway. After an hour or so of exercising, my guard brought me back to my cell. He got me magazines to read. The magazines were girly teen ones---a few months old---but they were better than nothing.
Anything to pass the time. About noon or so, the guard brought me lunch then I was allowed some visitation. Aunt Marla came, crying the whole time. I think she still blamed herself for all of this. After Marla came that jerk from the DEO---Damon Matthews---the one who came by my house before.
“Miss Bloomberg is it?” he asked with a smirk.
Apparently, besides being a Grade-A ass he was the DEO’s legal counsel. Lucky me. He went over my defense with me, explaining how things might go down if I had to go to court in Illinois and Iowa. I half paid attention, it didn’t matter. I knew I was guilty. If I were brought before a jury, I wouldn’t try to deny it. Matthews stayed for a bit and then left. I went back to my cell, read some more and then spent the rest of the night counting the tiles.
This went on for a few days---three or four I think. On the fourth day, Faraday was my only visitor.
“They’re going to move you today,” he said as we sat in a private room.
“To New Mexico?”
“You won’t know the location until you get there,” he said, shuffling papers. “First an armed escort will take you from here to the airport. You’ll board a plane and fly to a private airstrip. We’ll transfer you to one of our private jets. You’ll switch planes a total of three times so that no one knows where you’re going, including you.”
“I assume I’ll be blindfolded?”
He laughed. “We’re not spooks, Ellie.”
Oh, by the way I was officially Ellie Bloomberg now. Matthews brought me the papers yesterday. I had an ID with pictures and everything. According to my papers, I was now the daughter of Marla Bloomberg, having been adopted by her several weeks ago. I guess that made me happy. She said I didn’t have to call her “Mom” but she expected I treat her that way. I had no problem with that. I suppose when the government is involved they can do pretty much anything they want.
“When are they moving me?”
Things went pretty fast after that. Faraday got up and two guards came in. Fite and Maad followed them. I felt a bit of happiness at seeing them again. They smiled at me. I let the guards cuff me then my two DEO handlers followed them to awaiting vehicles. Mine turned out to be a converted armor car; it felt like déjá vu all over again. Fite and Maad would follow behind in an SUV. There would be two police car escorts and two motorcycles. I felt like a VIP. After I got loaded in the back of the truck and secured, my two guards got inside. I don’t think they were taking any chances. Not that I would try to escape and even if I did, they wouldn’t be able to stop me. It didn’t take long to get going. The cop cars went first then my armored truck. I could hear the sirens blaring all around me. It was kinda cool and would have been cooler if I wasn’t the cause of all of this.
About fifteen minutes from the police station things went bad. I heard it over the radio first. One of the guards grabbed the mike on his shoulder, talking to the driver. There was some kind of commotion up ahead. I turned and tried to see through the little slot into the front of the truck. I didn’t see much. Then it happened. One of the police cars in front flew into the air. It came flying right toward the truck. The driver screamed and swerved out of the way just in time. There was a loud wrenching smash as the police car tumbled down the street. My two guards pulled tazers, probably preparing for the worst.
“What the fuck is that?” I heard a voice over the radio.
I looked out the slot again. Up ahead on the road was a big linebacker size guy standing there, holding the biggest axe I’d ever seen. The damn thing was glowing. He raised his axe and swung it at the truck. The driver didn’t have time to avoid it. The blade slammed into the front end, bringing our vehicle to a dead stop. My two guards---who weren’t secure like me---went stumbling forward, slamming themselves unconscious. I tried to turn and see what was going on. I heard some gunfire and more screaming. Then everything was silent.
A few seconds later, someone was walking along the side of the truck. I could hear a heavy footfall. Then the back doors were torn open, ripped clear off. The guy with the axe was standing there. He smirked at me and stepped aside, allowing someone else to step forward. I almost didn’t recognize her what with the flowing white hair and the eye patch---what was up with that.
“Hey babe” said Rose as she climbed into the truck. “Did you miss me?”
I waited until I was freed from my handcuffs to react. After all, I needed my hands free.
I slapped her in the face; the sound was like a firecracker in the quiet of the van. She looked like I’d just punched her. There was a moment when the two of us just stared at each other. I wanted to punch her actually, but I thought that might be too harsh. I think slapping her had the effect I wanted to get across quite nicely. I suppose doing it twice might have worked better but beggars can’t be choosers.
After the initial shock was over---and rubbing her cheek---Rose smiled. ‘I suppose I deserved that.”
“You think,” I said angrily.
“I’m sorry,” she said, still rubbing the red welt my hand left. “I saw what was going to happen and I knew the only way to help you was to leave.”
I was pissed, almost on the verge of spitting fire---which would not have been a good thing for her or the two unconscious guards. “You’re the reason I went there in the first place. If you’d have stayed I wouldn’t have done something so stupid.”
Rose frowned. “I’ll make it up to you I promise.”
“We don’t have time for this,” said the axe wielder.
By the way, my bad. It turns out the big burly guy from the middle of the road---the one I thought was a linebacker---was actually a girl. All her bulk it seemed came from the fact that she was actually wearing football padding. Hey, it’s hard to tell what you’re seeing from a tiny slit in the back of a moving vehicle. But in my defense, she was very mannish looking. She had a square jaw and rough features. There wasn’t a single thing feminine about her, especially the giant glowing axe she was holding. It was resting on her shoulder as she leaned into the back of the van, glaring at the two of us. I think our little squabble was trying her patience.
“Shove it Elise,” said Rose as she walked further into the van, nudging one of the guards with her foot. “Help me take care of them.”
The axe girl bit her lip. “It’s only a matter of time before more come. We should go.”
Rose snapped around. She looked like she was about to yell but stopped. She closed her only visible eye and let out a sigh a few seconds later. When she opened it again, she nodded. “You’re right for once. These guys should be out for a while. Let’s get the hell out of here before the cavalry arrives.”
Rose walked over and grabbed my wrist, dragging me out of the van. I didn’t put up much of a fight. As soon as I got out of it, I saw the carnage. Ok, so there was no blood or anything like that. Nothing that serious but it was pretty bad. The police car that went flying by the truck was lying several feet down the road, smashed up pretty bad. The other one was wrapped around a telephone pole, a huge gash across the top of it, the siren sliced in two. The two motorcycles were lying abandoned nearby, trashed as well. All the occupants of said vehicles were lying in a heap together---unharmed---but unconscious. After hearing all the gunfire before I was certain there was going to be a bloodbath out here.
“C’mon” said Rose, dragging me away.
She led me down the road a way; the girl with the axe---Elise---followed. We didn’t go very far. There was a black SUV waiting. At first, I thought it was one that they brought until I recognized the government plates. It was the one that was tailing our little convoy, the one that Fite and Maad were supposed to be driving in. I saw the driver laying in the street, alive but out cold. I looked into the back, half expecting to see my two former handlers but they were gone. I looked at Rose but she shook her head. I hope that didn’t mean they were dead.
“Terry got them out of here,” she said with a smile.
As if in answer, a tall blonde haired boy materialized out of thin air right in front of me. I nearly peed my pants. “I’m Terry, sweet cakes,” he said with a big smile.
“Stop doing that” snapped Elise as she opened the driver’s side door.
“Where did you put them?” asked Rose, an edge to her voice.
He smiled. “Can’t you tell me?”
“It doesn’t work that way,” said Rose as she opened the back door for the two of us.
I climbed in, wondering what the hell I was doing. I should have stayed put, tried to cool things over with the authorities. But looking at the scene---seeing all the damage---there was no way that they’d believe I wasn’t involved. I was happy that Rose came to get me but really pissed off that she did it this way. It was reckless and stupid. I planned to tell her as soon as we got wherever it was the four of us were going.
“You didn’t answer my question,” said Rose as she got in next to me.
Terry got into the front with Elise. “I don’t answer to you newbie.”
Then he turned to Elise. “Why did we bring the new girl anyway?”
Elise shrugged. “Fugate said bring her so I brought her. This girl of hers is supposed to be something else; the boss wants to offer her a new life.”
“Big mess for one lonely chick” said Terry as Elise started the engine and turned the vehicle, heading in the opposite direction.
I turned to Rose, frowning. “What the hell is going on here?”
She smiled, pulling the stupid eye patch from her face. She ran her fingers through her hair. I was going to miss the blonde, the white made her look frightful. I wonder why she did it. I made a mental note to ask about it later. She didn’t say anything for a few minutes. I think she was waiting until we got a little further down the road before she started talking. About ten minutes into the journey, she started with the explanation.
“Like I said before, I left because I had a vision. I knew what you were going to do and I couldn’t get involved with that. Your government spooks could easily be connected to my father. So I ran and I’m not proud of it. I hitchhiked the rest of the way into the city, going to the address on the flyer. When I got there Elise tried to take my head off, thought I was some kind of narc. Fugate and Terry had to practically pull the two of us apart.”
Elise snorted from the front seat. “I had you.”
“In your dreams” said Rose. Elise grumbled and swore. Rose continued. “I spent the first day or so convincing these miscreants I was legit. When they finally started to believe me, we saw you on the news. I realized then I made a horrible mistake and pleaded with Fugate to let me rescue you. He was a little reluctant at first until I told him of your potential. I’m sorry I betrayed your trust like that but it worked. It took a few days but we got our shit together. I talked Elise and Terry into helping…” Another snort from our driver. “And you know the rest.”
I crossed my arms over my chest, just under my new assets. Boy was I never going to get used to that. “Just like that” I said angrily. “I’m supposed to forgive you because you played Knight in shining armor?”
Rose sighed, lowering her head. “Look it’s not easy for me to get close like that.” She raised her head and her eyes were glistening with tears. “I got a little scared. I didn’t want you to get hurt because of me.”
I leaned forward, putting my forehead gently against her’s. It felt right. I reached up and placed both of my hands alongside her face. “Listen to me” I said softly. “You don’t have to protect me I’m more than capable of protecting myself.”
Terry ruined the moment. “Says the girl in the orange prison jumpsuit.”
My anger flared. I let go of Rose quickly, allowing my hand to transform. With one finger, I gently touched the back of his neck. I gave him the equivalent of being burned by a car lighter. He yelped in pain, the hairs on the back of his neck singed. He snapped around, a small knife appearing out of his sleeve. He was ready for a fight and I was ready to give him one. But as soon as he saw me, ---red hand, glowing yellow eyes---, he backed off. The color drained from his face and he slid the knife back where it came.
“We’re cool” he said softly, his voice barely above a squeak.
Elise roared with laughter. “Her we can keep.”
I smiled then joined Rose and Elise in the laughing at Terry’s expense.
I’m not sure how long we were driving, I didn’t really pay attention. The rest of the ride Rose tried to talk to me but I didn’t really want to hear it. Yes, I sorta forgave her but I was still pretty pissed. She could have gone about doing things a little differently, hell she could have told me what she saw. Instead, she decided to run away. In the end, what does that say about a person? I think she knew I was still kinda steamed too. I understood her need to protect me but she had to understand the need to honest with people, no matter the consequence. What I think the two of us needed more than anything was some true alone time to talk about our feelings. Yeah, yeah, I sound like a chick now, laugh all you want. Big Bad Eddie Bloomberg groaning about his feelings. I think Connor and the other guys would be having a laugh riot if they could see me now.
The SUV finally stopped. I’m not sure where we were but everything around us looked sorta rundown. I didn’t even know a place like this existed in California but I suppose there were places like this all over the place. There were a lot in Chicago. The building we stopped at was huge; it looked sorta like a factory but one that someone had abandoned a long time ago. The windows were all boarded up and it looked like was about to fall down. One time it might have been painted red and white but most of that was long since faded. The biggest feature on it was the large wooden sign above the double doors; it was a giant clock with a faded name.
“This used to be the Tockman Clock Factory,” said Rose when she noticed I was staring.
Terry added quickly. “The boss man inherited it from his father. The city’s been trying to knock it down for years but they’re tied up in red tape. So in the meantime it’s home away from home.”
I frowned. “You guys live here?”
“It’s better than a three by ten,” added Elise as she led the way.
I guess I couldn’t argue with that.
Elise didn’t lead us to the front of the building as I expected. Instead, she led us down a narrow alley between it and the building next door. It got so narrow at one point that the four of us actually had to turn sideways to squeeze through. It was a tight fit for me---with my new boobs--- so I couldn’t imagine how Terry managed. After squeezing our way through the alley, Elise led us around the back of the building. We stopped in front of a door that was clear of boards. She took a key from her pocket, unlocked the padlock and opened it. She went in first, followed by Terry and Rose. I went in last, taking a deep breath as I did so. Hey, I didn’t know what to expect.
I was a little surprised when I crossed the threshold into the place. It definitely wasn’t what I was expecting. For one thing, it was relatively clean and for another, the outside was very misleading. The inside wasn’t rundown at all. It wasn’t exactly anything you’d want to write home to Mom about but it was livable. There appeared to be two main rooms, separated in the center by a wall of wooden crates. On this side of the separation---the only side I could see at the moment---was a living area of sorts. There were several mismatched pieces of furniture including five or six couches and a few armchairs. There were even a few lawn chairs and a picnic table bench. In front of the furniture were several televisions, most of them out of date and it looked like only two were working all that well.
Terry waltzed into the room and jumped over the back of one of the couches, landing with a thump and a cloud of dust. Clearly, no one cleaned. He grabbed a nearby remote and clicked one of the TV’s on.
“It’s not the Ritz but it’s home,” said Rose with dissatisfied sigh.
Elise left us after that, too. She went off toward the other section of the place. Rose was left to show me around. The wooden boxes seemed to act as dividers. It was clear this room might have once been some kind of assembly line room. I could see places on the floor where machinery was once bolted. Rose gave me the quick tour. There were three more sections made by the crate walls. I was surprised when she actually showed me a kitchen and a reasonably sized sleeping area. There were no real beds of course, just mattresses. I counted four, which meant either one was for me or there was someone else I’d still have to meet. I’m thinking the latter.
She then led me to the other section of the main room. This place was some kind of meeting area in looked like. They didn’t have a real table---it was a pool table---and most the chairs around it were mismatched. The most striking part of the room was all the clocks on the wall. At first, I thought someone had a perverse habit of putting them at the wrong times until I noticed names scrawled in black marker under each one. They were marked with different cities, showing different time zones from around the world. I’m not sure why that was important, but oh well.
At the back of this section, main section there was a metal staircase. I looked up, seeing a room up there. I’m guessing it was once the manager’s office. Rose followed my gaze. She didn’t say anything; instead, she took my hand and led me up the steps. I was a little reluctant to follow, afraid that we might intrude on whoever was up there. At the top of the stairs, Rose knocked on the office door. The glass all around this was painted black so clearly whoever was in there didn’t want anyone looking in. There was a shuffle from inside and then a few seconds later the door opened. First, we were met by a blonde girl dressed in pink---crop top and hot pants. She sneered at Rose and gave me a once over.
“You missed a spot, Angie,” said Rose, indicating her makeup.
It was smudged.
The girl glared at her and then looked at me. “You must be the new freak. I’m Angelica; if you stay out of my way then we won’t have a problem.”
To demonstrate she raised one of her hands which erupted in a pink glow. It was kinda impressive. I smirked but I wouldn’t stoop to her level so I merely nodded. She smirked again and brushed past us, deliberately slamming me with her shoulder as she passed.
Rose rolled her eyes. “Don’t mind her, she thinks she’s hot shit because Fugate let’s her blow him every chance he gets.”
I cringed at that. I guess that explained her smeared makeup.
“Rose” said a voice from inside. “Did you get her?”
Rose took me by the hand and led me into the room. The first thing I noticed was the noise. There were so many clocks in the room it was hard to tell where they ended and everything else began. It was too loud for me; I’m not sure how the person who lived here could stand it. He lived here too, besides the desk there was an actual bed in the corner. I looked around the rest of the room, noticing a filing cabinet and a flat screen. I followed the clocks around the room until I got to the desk and the man sitting behind it. He wasn’t much to look at actually. He was a normal looking guy in a tweed suit with a mop of reddish hair. There was some gray in there too. He had circular glasses and pencil thin mustache. His most distinguishing feature was his tie actually and only because he had clocks on it.
Yep a real clock nut.
“Ellie” said Rose beginning the intros. “This is Temple Fugate or as we like to call him, The Clock King.”
The thing man stood up and held out his hand, which I reluctantly shook. “Ellie it is truly a pleasure to meet you. Your friend Rose has been telling me all about the special things you can do.”
I nodded. He sounded too excited for me. “Dangerous things” I said quickly.
He nodded. “Yes indeed” He had a big toothy grin. “But you need not worry about hurting any of us here; we are more than capable of taking care of your special needs.”
“My special needs?”
I didn’t like the sound of that. Rose seemed to sense my apprehension because she reached over and grabbed my hand, giving it a gentle squeeze. I didn’t look at her, instead keeping my eyes fully focused on Fugate. He was the kind of guy you didn’t want to take your eyes off for fear he might do something to you when you looked away. I think it was the mustache. Guys with mustaches like his were always the bad guys in every movie I’ve ever seen. I know I was jumping to conclusions but something about this guy just screamed bad guy.
“Rose dear” said Fugate with a smile “why don’t you take Ellie and get her a bunk.”
“She doesn’t need her own bed,” said Rose, giving my hand another squeeze.
I looked from her to him. “I can’t stay here.”
“Of course you can” said Fugate with a laugh. “Where else would you go?”
“But the police will be looking for me.”
He laughed. “Not here, they won’t. I assure you my dear; you are quite safe from them.”
I shook my head. “I need to get out of the country, flee south.”
Fugate frowned. “If that’s what you think is best then we won’t stop you. But I assure you they will have the border on high alert. You’re a very dangerous person and it doesn’t take them very long to catch dangerous people like you.”
Rose stepped in front of me. “This is a good place, Ellie. Here we can be who we want and no one can stop us. Fugate created this place for our kind, free from prosecution and the law.”
“You’re going to stay here?” I asked and she nodded.
“Just give it a chance; you might like it here, too.”
Fugate smiled. Then rolled up his sleeve, revealing four watches on his wrist. This guy was really obsessed wasn’t he? “Oh God, look at the time. You girls run along, I have a phone call I must make.”
We turned and he practically pushed us out the door. We were barely on the other side of the threshold before he slammed it behind us. Talk about rude. Rose tried not to look offended but I could tell she was. The two of us stood there for a few seconds before she took my hand and led me down the metal stairs. The others were in the main room watching TV. Elise and Angelica were sitting on one of the couches together while Terry was sitting in one of the armchairs. Clearly, the girls ruled this roost. I felt kinda bad for him---being the only guy and all.
I almost wanted to go over and sit with him just to show that I wasn’t like the others. Hell I was technically half guy right? But Rose had other plans.
“C’mon” said Rose, whispering gently in my ear. “I’ll show you where my bunk is.”
How could a girl say no to that?
The next few days were a blur. Things seemed to mold into one another. At first, I found it hard fitting in with this group of misfits but that didn’t last long. We made the news the first night I was there---Terry and Elise were pretty excited about that. They plastered my picture all over the Top Story for two days in a row. I eventually got pushed back with the arrival of a new superhero in San Francisco---the Blue something. She was kinda cool though so I wasn’t too upset.
Adjusting to life with my new “friends” wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be. We had our differences of course---for instance, Angelica was a total bitch---but in the end, we were all the same. It turns out Rose was the only unique one in the group. She had that title for two reasons: number one she wasn’t a genetic Meta and number two she was the only one of us who didn’t change sex. I’m half-and-half so I don’t really count. Elise and Terry were boyfriend and girlfriend before the change; I find that hard to believe though. The two of them seemed to hate each other now. Though I think Angelica had something to do with that. I’m not sure what her story was other than she’s a major slut now. I’m not sure what she saw in Fugate but she sure spent a lot of time in his office.
Fugate was the only enigma in our little group. Not only did he sleep in his office, he practically lived there, too. I’m not sure what he did all day but apparently, it was more important than hanging out with a bunch of teenagers. Not that I could blame him. On the second day here, I asked Rose what we were supposed to do. She told me that she never really thought about it. This place was supposed to be a place for us to live without the outside world calling us “freaks”. But as far as doing anything went, the five of us just sat around and vegetated. It was cool the first day or so but after the third day of doing nothing it got kinda dull.
After those first few initial days, things didn’t get any better. After a week, I was practically climbing the walls. I wasn’t the only one either. Elsie and Terry had been here the longest---three months---the two of them looked ready to break through the walls. Angelica was indifferent but I could tell Rose was itching for some action.
“We have to do something,” said Rose, sitting with me on one of the couches. “Anything to get us out of here.”
The others launched into a series of suggestions. Terry always wanted to play some kind of indoor sport---bowling or something like that. Angelica wanted to go to the mall and for Elise it was always the gym. It never really got around to what either Rose or I would like to do because as soon as one of them made a suggestion, the other two argued about it. Then it was back and forth, sometimes for hours. It was like the three of them were the brattiest children imaginable.
It didn’t take long for them to start arguing now.
“C’mon” said Rose, taking my hand and pulling me up. “Let’s go find our own thing to do.”
Her idea of “our own thing” usually led to the two of us fooling around under the sheets. I’ve long since forgiven her for abandoning me; it felt like water under the bridge now. Not that it was easy, of course. I made her work for her forgiveness. I got a lot of treats and back rubs out of the deal. Now we were as good as before, even better. My advice to couples---have a big fight because making up is wonderful. It really helps to revitalize your relationship. Rose and I haven’t known each other for very long but the two of us were far from the ideal couple. I guess I considered her my girlfriend but I’m not sure what she thought of me. I was technically her girlfriend too, save for the part of me that was a guy. Not that anyone other than her knew about that part.
The Real Eddie was only known to her and her alone.
In the bedroom area, the two of us fooled around for a bit. Not that it got any further than the usual petting. It wasn’t that we didn’t want to try more; it’s just that we’re only sixteen. I’m not ready to take a relationship that far yet and she’s afraid that as soon as we do something like that, one of us might regret it. Like I could ever regret doing anything with her. Even though I’d only known her for a short while I was pretty convinced that, I was in love with her.
Yeah, I know, the big L word, but it was true. I just hoped she felt the same way. She was a fickle person when it came to her emotions, especially the love one. After all, look at her track record. Her only family member was her father and he did horrible experiments on her. That’s no way to love someone.
I sat up in bed, allowing the sheet to fall around my naked form. She was lying on her side, her naked form glistening with sweat. She looked so damn good right now. I took a deep breath and bit the bullet: “I’m in love with you”.
For a second or two she didn’t say anything. Then she frowned. “You can’t be.”
I nodded. “That maybe so but I am.”
She sat up, still frowning. “I’m not a good person to be in love with.”
“Why because of your father?” I said, a little hurt.
She turned her head away. I reached forward and grabbed her face gently, moving her head back to face me. There were tears in her eyes. “I don’t care about him,” I said, crying a bit myself. “You’re afraid that he’s going to catch up with you and do horrible things. But I’m not going to let him hurt you, I’ll kill the son of a bitch if he ever touches another hair on your head.”
She smiled weakly and nodded. Then added. “It’s not just that…it’s…damn it. You can’t love me, no one can.”
Now I was annoyed. “Why not?”
“I’m damaged goods.”
“You look all right to me” I joked, even though it wasn’t really the time.
“Son of a bitch, Ellie. I’m trying to be sincere here. You and I…what we have…its fun but…”
“But” I said angrily. “How can you say but?”
My temper flared. I could feel the fire inside. The look on Rose’s face said it all. She could see it too. I looked down and my skin was slightly glowing. With someone like me, anger was bad. When I got angry, people got hurt. I pushed myself off the mattress and found my clothes. Rose tried to stop me but I was angry with her right now I needed to walk it off. I pulled on my pants---I was already wearing panties. Then I grabbed a nearby shirt---didn’t matter whose it was---and stomped out of there. Rose didn’t follow, I was glad for that. I needed some alone time to think. I charged out of the room section and found myself heading toward the back entrance. I did a lot of my thinking in an alley two buildings over. It was a perfect place to pace and think about things.
When I got outside, I was greeted by a cool March night. It amazed the hell out of me that I’d been like this for almost two months now. Who would have thought that only a couple of months ago---January---that Eddie Bloomberg, football player, would be here. First, it was the Meta change into that red freak which was enough to drive a guy insane but then it was this. I’m still not sure how to handle this. I look in the mirror, I see this girl, this pretty red headed girl, and all I can think about is asking her on a date. It’s crazy but it’s hard to fathom that she and I are one in the same. I know she’s me, I know that I’m Ellie. But at the same time, I know that it’s wrong. Ok, wrong is the bad choice of words. What I mean to say is that I’m scared.
I groaned. I was terrified. Yesterday I actually complimented Elise on the top she was wearing. Yes, complimented. Like one girl does to another, telling her how much I loved it. That totally freaked me out. Two mornings ago, I found myself wondering if my butt looked good in my jeans and the day before that, I found myself asking Angelica for makeup tips---not that she gave me any. It was scaring the hell out of me. I was losing myself to Ellie. I was still me but this monster was slowly consuming the part of me that was a guy. I’m not talking about the red one I turn into either.
I cursed and stomped off toward the alley. My head was still in the clouds so I didn’t notice I wasn’t alone until I got about five feet down it. I stopped dead in my tracks, hearing voices. At first, I thought it was Terry---he sometimes liked to come out here to talk to himself. But I realized there were two voices and I was being stupid. I crouched behind the dumpster---this alley was a lot less narrow than the one between the Clock factory and the building next to it. In the darkness, I could barely see who it was but there were definitely two of them, men by the looks of them.
Then I recognized one of the voices: it was Fugate. “I told you not to come here, Prince.”
Prince? Why did that name sound familiar.
“Where else was I supposed to go?” said the second man, he had a strangely familiar voice too. “After your kid teleported me out of my cell, I was pretty much screwed.”
Teleported? Did Terry break someone out of jail?
“But here.” said Fugate “Are you out of your damn mind? What if she sees you? What if you walk into the building and she’s standing there, then this whole thing is blown. He’ll be so pissed off with us he’ll roast you alive.”
“Not my problem” said the one called Prince. “You’re the one who screwed this up, not me.”
“Who’s the one who panicked during the job?”
“The kid was a fricken demon, you’d be scared too.”
That voice. Oh God, I knew where I’d heard it from. It was that guy, the bank robber. The nut in the snake suit. What the hell was he doing here? My head started to hurt when I tried to process everything they were saying. Fugate was working with the snake guy? I tried to think it through. It didn’t make any sense. Who was the guy that was going to roast them alive? What plan did they screw up? It didn’t make any sense. I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs but instead I slowly crept backwards. The first thing I had to do was get Rose. We had to get the hell out of here. Something bad was going on here, something that apparently involved me.
I turned quickly, jumping to my feet. My plan was to run back to the factory, grab Rose and our stuff and get the hell out of here. That was the plan anyway. It didn’t work out so well though. When I turned and made a run for it, I ran smack into someone. I was knocked off my feet, falling backwards onto my butt. Whoever it was, they were huge, like made of muscle and nothing more. I couldn’t see the face but they had these eyes that shone in the dark. I tried to crawl away but he was able to reach out and grab me, lifting me off the ground.
“Desmond” said Fugate as he came up behind us. “Don’t hurt her too much.”
The big man had a hold of my throat now; I was finding it hard to breath.
“She heard everything,” said the man mountain.
“Unfortunate to say the least” said Fugate with a sigh. “But it can’t be helped.” He pulled a pocket watch from his coat. “This will affect the time table a bit but I am sure things can be rescheduled. Take her and put her with the others.”
The Man Mountain called Desmond smiled. Then he slammed me gently against the wall. My vision swarmed around me and blackness took me.
“Hey KD, wake up”
The voice sounded familiar but I couldn’t quite place. My brain was addled and my head hurt. It felt like a train had hit me. When I sat up and gave my forehead a good rub, things started to come back to me. Fugate was in the alley talking to that snake guy and when I tried to run someone grabbed me. It was a huge guy, he nearly choked me too death and then slammed my head against the wall. I groaned, blinking back the residual stars that still seemed to flutter around me. Then I blinked again, realizing they weren’t stars but tiny moths bouncing off the light above me. I looked about, shuddering at the cold. Concrete and metal bars, that’s all I could see. That and a cell very similar to the one I was in directly across from me.
This one wasn’t vacant either. There were two occupants, two very familiar occupants. I groaned. I guess it made sense when you thought about it. Of course, Terry would make them prisoners instead of putting them someplace else. It just pissed me off that I actually thought the others were my friends.
“Fite? “ I asked, crawling to the bars of my cell.
The DEO agent sighed heavily. “I thought you were dead for a minute there.”
I rubbed my neck, it was sore too. “I think a part of me wishes I was.”
“Your buddies not looking like buddies any more, huh?”
I shook my head. “They were never my friends.”
I quickly gave him a rundown of events, starting with meeting Rose way back when and leading up to before I was slammed against the wall. He nodded and kept silent through the whole story. Unlike the other DEO goons, Fite was one of the good guys. Once upon a time, I thought of him as a friend and hoped I still could now. It was a long shot but as far as I could tell the three of us were the only ones here. Not that Maad would be doing much. I looked over at him, he was slumped over in the back of their cell and he didn’t look really good.
“Is he going to be all right?” I asked.
Fite shrugged. “We’ve been here about as long as you have. Your teleporting friend brought us here after they hit the convoy. Maad tried to call for help right before but we’re not sure if he got through or not.”
I nodded. “We were on the news for a while but it didn’t last long. If they’re still looking for me, they’re not using the media to do it.”
Fite nodded and sighed. “Some shit you stepped into, KD.”
I smiled, happy that Fite always told it like it was. That’s why I needed him to be honest with me now. “You have any idea what’s going on here?”
He shook his head. “We haven’t seen or heard much, except that big dude that dragged you in here. He’s apparently our jailor.”
“Fugate called him Desmond.”
Fite nodded. “What are we dealing with, Kid?”
I bit my lip. I could trust him, I think. “At least three hostile Metas. You know about the teleporter and the girl with the axe. The one you didn’t see was Angelica, she does something freaky with her hands, they glow pink. Then there’s the big guy, he’s definitely not normal.”
Fite nodded. “What about your girl?”
I shook my head. “Rose has nothing to do with this,” I said angrily.
He held up his hands, showing he surrendered. “All the same, what’s her power?”
I sighed. “She’s a Precog but she can only see a few minutes at a time into the future.”
Fite groaned. “A few minutes is still bad. Precogs are hard to predict because they know what’s going to happen before you do. It’s easy for them to manipulate the situation.”
I shook my head and got angry. “Not Rose!”
Fite sighed and lowered his voice a bit. “You might be right but you need to look out for her all the same.”
I turned my back on him. I didn’t want to listen to his crap anymore. If I had to be stuck here with the “enemy” then I was going to do it in silence. It gave me some time to think about my situation anyway. It was clear that these cells weren’t in the clock factory or I would have seen them. My best guess was the building next door or one of the many others like it. They were just as rundown but completely boarded up and all their windows were blacked out. Besides poking around in the alley ---the place where they caught me---made some sense. It was clear that whatever Fugate and his henchmen were up to, they needed cells. I couldn’t imagine what for, though.
I sat in silence for the next few hours, torturing myself with horrible scenarios. What were they all about you might ask? Well, I’m sad to say that Fite’s words got to me. As much as I didn’t want to think about it, there was a very big possibility that Rose had in fact set me up. It was horrible to even fathom but it was hard not to when all the facts were in her favor. What made it worse was the fact that when I met her I hadn’t known her for very long and it was just too easy for the two of us to form a relationship.
I finally turned around, looking over at Fite’s cell again. He was sitting with his back to me, probably contemplating some things of his own.
“You don’t really think she set me up, do you?”
It took him about a minute to turn around. He frowned. “I just find it very convenient that you’re trying to run from us and one of the first people you meet to help you happens to be a Meta.”
I groaned. Now that I thought about it, it was too much of a coincidence. God I was such a stupid idiot. Still, there was a chance.
“She was on the run too,” I said, more for my benefit than trying to convince him.
He nodded. “In our line of work it’s hard to trust people.”
“I’m not like you.”
“You’re more like us than you think.”
That pissed me off. I was feeling particularly cranky these days, especially in my stomach. I think I knew what that meant but I’m not willing to admit it. Instead, I crossed my arms underneath my breasts, huffed and turned around again. Fite chuckled. I fell into self pity again, grumbling a while about how much I wasn’t like them. I wasn’t, no matter how much he thought I was. They were a crazy government organization that thought they were protecting the world and locking up people they thought were too dangerous to be roaming free. I wasn’t anything like that. Albeit I wanted to see some of these dangerous people behind bars as much as the rest of them but that didn’t make me as heartless as them. It just made me practical.
Another hour passed and I turned around again but this time it wasn’t to talk to Fite. It was to see who was coming. It was the scraping of metal on cement that drew my attention. It was coming from the end of the hall; at least I think it was a hall. It echoed down toward us, followed a few seconds later by footsteps. I tried not to look so anxious as I scurried to the bars of my cell to see who was coming. Maybe it was someone to get me, to explain that I’d learned my lesson. But I’m not that lucky, they put me in here for a reason.
When the footfall got close to me, I frowned. It was Fugate, looking as smug as ever. That giant from the alley was with him, much bigger than I remembered. This was the first time I got a good look at him and let me tell you, there was no way he was a normal human being. For one thing, he had to be almost eight feet tall and for another his body was huge. I’m not talking body builder huge either. This guy’s neck had to be as big around as a tree trunk and don’t even get me started on those arms. I’ve seen my fair share of bizarre things---this coming from the guy who fought a living bronze Minotaur---but looking at this monster before me, I was speechless.
Fugate seemed to notice too. He smiled. “Mr. Desmond has that way about him, isn’t that right, Block?”
The guy grunted, crossing his arms in front of him. I could see why they called him Block.
“Is this the part where you---as the villain---come to tell me your diabolical plan?”
Fugate laughed. “I’m afraid I’ve seen too many bad movies to know how that works” He sighed, running his fingers through his thinning hair, then he smiled. His smile creeped me out. “No, this is where I ask you what you think you know and you’re going to answer me.”
“And how is this not like one of those bad movies?”
Fugate didn’t look amused. But Fite did because he laughed. The big guy slammed his foot into the bars of Fite’s cell, causing him to flinch but nothing more. I think I might have mentioned that Fite was pretty intimidating and it was going to take a lot to scare him.
“So I’m to understand that you won’t be answering any of my questions then?”
“How can I answer questions when I don’t know the answers?”
Fugate pursed his lips. “Very well, Mr. Desmond, take our pretty little friend here to the arena and let’s see if we can’t beat the answers out of her.”
“Fugate” shouted Fite “she’s just a kid. Take me; I’ll answer any question you want.”
Fugate turned to him. “But you’ve already answered the questions I wanted to ask you.”
What the hell was going on here? What is the Arena? I looked over at Fite but he wouldn’t look directly at me. This was bad, real bad. When he finally did look---only for a split second---he frowned. Then I knew it was bad. Fugate didn’t wait around after that. He just looked at one of his many watches and shook his head, walking slowly away. Desmond stayed behind, staring at me through the bars. As soon as the metal door into the area clanged, the big guy pulled a key out of his shirt and unlocked my door. I took a chance and charged him. Hey, I had to try. He swatted me into the corner of the cell with the back of his hand. Man did it hurt like a bitch.
I stumbled to my feet, wobbled and tried again. But this time I tried to make a break for it, running to the left, hoping to get around his bulk. He caught me easily and lifted me off the ground, once again by my throat. He started to squeeze down on my neck, cutting off airflow. I kicked and squirmed but it was no use.
Then I blacked out.
When I came to, the first thing I noticed were the bright lights. I had to shield my eyes as soon as I opened them. Why the hell was it so bright? After keeping one hand protecting my precious peepers, I used the other to push myself up. The second thing I noticed was the noise. At first it sounded like I was in a baseball stadium, there was shouting and stomping. I blinked a few times and looked around. What I saw was a so much worse. It was a giant cage. Ok, so maybe that’s not an accurate description. Have you ever seen those caged matches in wrestling, it was like that but not nearly on as grand a scale. It also looked ten times as deadly; the walls of this cage were metal but appeared to be wrapped in barbed wire. I looked around, trying to see if there was an easy way out of this. I saw one door, it too was barb wired. I noticed something else too, there was a video camera mounted in the corner. What the hell was this place?
I stood in the center of the cage, looking around, feeling overly exposed. Did I forget to mention that they ripped my shirt off? I was now standing there in my jeans and a sports bra. My hair was pulled back into a ponytail too and I was wearing a pair of fingerless gloves. It didn’t take a genius to figure out what was going on here. This was the Arena that Fugate wanted me taken to, which meant he probably expected me to fight. Well he had another thought coming if he thought I was going to entertain the masses for him.
The lights were so bright that I couldn’t see any of the faces in the crowd but there were a lot of them. It was some kind of raised platform all around the sides of this building. There was no doubt in my mind now that I was in one of the other warehouses near the factory. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a completely different building than the one my cell was in. There had to be at least three or four buildings all close to one another, each one belonging to the clock factory. But we weren’t allowed to explore the others and now I knew why. I’m not sure if the other s knew about this place but seeing as there was a huge crowd, it was hard not to know.
It amazed me that all of this had been kept from me for almost a week. I had to wonder if Rose knew. I squinted, trying to see if I could see her amongst the many faces. But the lights were too bright and everyone looked the same. I frowned and moved closer to one of the walls. I made the mistake of getting to close, my finger brushing against one of the barbs. I jumped back as it sparked and shocked me. Jesus, not only was it barbed wire but apparently, it was electrified barbed wire. What kind of sadist was Fugate anyway?
I got my answer pretty quickly. There was some commotion directly in front of me. Then two large doors opened, leading to the outside, I think. More light streamed in, hitting me in the face. I shielded myself and when I lowered my hand, I saw Fugate walk in. He wasn’t alone; my former friends were with him. They were decked out in funky costumes; Elise even went so far as wearing a metal mask over her face. Fugate looked even more ridiculous, like a Circus Ringleader with his coat and top hat. In his hand was a megaphone and following him was a skinny guy with a video camera. I groaned, this was even more ridiculous than I thought.
Then Fugate spoke, no shouted into the megaphone. “LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, SETTLE DOWN PLEASE!” It took a few minutes for the screaming, stomping crowd to shout up. When it finally did, he shouted into the thing again. “WE HAVE A RARE TREAT FOR YOU TONIGHT. SO FAR THE DARK SIDE CLUB HAS BEEN ALL ABOUT PITTING MAN VS META IN THE ULTIMATE CHALLENGE OF KILL OR BE KILLED” The crowd roared with excitement. “BUT TONIGHT, FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME, I GIVE YOU META VS META”
The crowd went crazy. I scanned the group; the others were all lined up now. I sighed in relief when I noticed that Rose wasn’t among them. But I grimaced when I saw Desmond amongst the group, bare shirted and looking sinister. Did that mean what I thought it meant---God I hope not. I looked from each of the others in turn, they looked like they’d done this before, there wasn’t a worried or scared look to any of them. That didn’t bode well for me. After all I wasn’t’ a fighter, in fact the last time I’d been in a real fight was when I was younger. Yeah I know all about the whole spa thing but that wasn’t really against a real person and besides, Amy was there to help me some. This was pitting me against one of them, people I thought I was starting to become friends with. Which scared me just a little bit. But I suppose the alternative could have been worse, I could have been one of them and I could be forced to pound the snot out of some poor bastard.
I didn’t like the idea of that one bit.
Fugate continued to fire up the crowd a few seconds before passing the megaphone over to Angelica. She continued to shout into it as he walked over and stood about two feet from the cage. He smirked at me. “It wasn’t supposed to be like this you know.”
“So you recruit innocent kids like us and force us into this stupid Gladiator thing of yours?”
He laughed. “There’s nothing stupid about it. The Dark Side Club is one of the biggest underground Internet sensations; we get nearly three million hits a broadcast.”
I smirked. “How come I’ve never heard of it?”
“You’re not exactly our target audience.”
“I’m proud not to be part of the brain dead masses.”
Fugate stepped a little closer. He got close enough so no one else could hear him but me. “You don’t honestly think any of them really know what’s going on here. When I recruited all those freaks I saw dollar signs and why not. All you freaks are really good for is creating destruction. Your talents are wasted on playing pretend heroes and trying to save the day. If I didn’t try to turn a profit out of it, someone else would have.”
“Tell me that’s not the speech you used to trick them into this?”
“Trick? I didn’t trick them they volunteered for this” He turned and waved his hand at them. “All of them were shunned and kicked out of their homes, treated like dirt for what they were. I brought them in, gave them food and shelter. When I told them about my plan, they couldn’t sign up fast enough.”
“I see Rose turned you down” I shot back, confident that I finally had him.
He laughed really loud at that one. “Turned me down, are you out of your mind. She’s the best little fighter I’ve got.”
I shook my head. “You’re lying.”
He smirked. “I take it she failed to mention her nighttime activities in-between fingering you in the sheets.”
My anger flared and I charged the cage wall, stopping inches from frying myself. He laughed and pointed. I followed his finger into the stands. It took me a few seconds but I could just make out two figures. One of them was sitting down, his hands behind his back. It was Fite, he looked pretty battered but the shocking thing was the sword at his throat. I followed that up to its holder and was shocked to see Rose. She was dressed in a tight blue shirt, wearing that stupid eye patch again. She wore a blank expression but it was clear that no one was forcing her to be there. I was such an idiot to think that she was on my side. She was just like them.
“Ravager is one of our greatest pulls; if you’re lucky and survive long enough you might get a chance to test your might against her.”
I shook my head, tears streaming down my face. “I’m not fighting her or anyone else for that matter.”
Fugate laughed. “If you refuse, she’ll cut your friend’s throat. Then I’ll send Terry to that sweet little aunt of yours and he’ll bring her back here so your girlfriend can cut her throat too.”
This time I did slam into the wall of cage. Instead of feel the pain of electricity coursing through my body, I felt nothing. I gripped the barbed wire, it cut into my hands. Then it started to sizzle and spark, melting under my rage. Fugate looked scared but only for a second. He wagged his finger at me, regaining his composure quickly.
“Save it for the fight, my dear.”
‘When I’m done with them, I’m coming for your head.”
He smirked. “Just like he wants. He’ll be so pleased to see you finally embracing your true nature.”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
He shrugged. “You’ll see soon enough.”
He didn’t stay around for me to ask any more questions. Instead, he turned and walked back over to the group. He took the megaphone from Angelica---who had the crowd ready to tear the walls down in excitement. “LADIES AND GENTLEMEN; ARE YOU READY FOR A FIGHT!”
The crowd screamed. He then went and put his hand over the head of each person in turn, trying to get the crowd to choose who would have first go at me. The idea being the one with the most shouts would ultimately be my first opponent. I didn’t really care which one it was, all I wanted was Fugate's head. The bastard needed to be stopped, this all needed to be stopped. I’m not sure what his ultimate end game really was but I couldn’t let this go on. He was exploiting Metas and turning a profit from it. It appalled me that the others would even think about being involved in this kind of crap.
A few minutes passed and the crowd shouted real louder. I looked at who his hand was hovering over and sighed, it was Angelica. Though I didn’t really know, what her power was I didn’t want to get hit by those glowing hands or hers. “WE HAVE OUR GLADIATOR” shouted Fugate, grabbing Angelica’s arm and raising it over her head.
He walked her over to me, the crowd shouted. Then he stopped and turned toward the crowd. “ROUND ONE IS BETWEEN DISRUPTOR AND THE RED DEVIL.”
Red Devil, seriously. Now that name was no longer cool.
Angelica walked up to the cage, smirking at me. She didn’t look very threatening, what with her being decked out in pink. “I can’t get your little Lesbo lover into the Ring but you’ll do for now.”
“This is ridiculous, we don’t have to fight.”
She smirked. “Sounds like you’re scared of me.”
I scoffed. “You’re going to get hurt, Angelica.”
She didn’t listen. Instead, she turned and raised her hands over her head, her fists glowing pink. Then she walked over to the door to the cage, Fugate followed her. He unlocked the door and smacked her playfully on the ass as she entered. She turned to him and blew a kiss. Then she turned to me and gave me the finger. She laughed and I rolled my eyes. It scared me that she was enjoying herself way too much. This was serious and she thought it was a game.
“Ladies” said Fugate, not into the megaphone this time. “The rules are simple: fight until one of you is either unconscious or dead.”
There was no bell. One minute I was looking at Fugate and the next Angelica came at me. She was fast, faster than I would have expecting. She swung her fists like a maniac, me I did my best to keep away from her. I had no intention of fighting her. I think the crowd caught onto my tactic after a minute or two of me dodging. They started to boo and hiss. Angelica started to get really annoyed too. She stepped up her game, coming at me faster and with fury. Still she didn’t land a single blow. I don’t know any martial arts or self-defense. But it was common sense that when someone was trying to hit you, you stayed away from that person. Angelica was acting like this was the most important thing in the world to her and it might have been. But me, I didn’t want to hurt her.
She started getting tired. After all, she was doing all the work. It was kinda sad really. Then she got sloppy. She swung too low and I finally reacted. It wasn’t a very hard punch but it connected a little better than I thought. My fist drove into the side of her head, just above her right ear. Angelica screamed and stumbled back, tripping over her own feet. She fell into the far wall and screamed like she was being murdered. I ran forward quickly, grabbing her wrist and pulling her from the wall. She unconsciously slumped into my arms, the back of her pink outfit torn up by the barbed wire and her flesh burned by the electricity. It was clear that there was far too much flowing through those bars than was safe. I checked her pulse, it was shallow but she was alive.
Fugate walked over to the cage and glared inside. “What are you waiting for” he sneered.
“She needs medical attention, right now.”
Fugate didn’t look too pleased. “You know the rules.”
I shook my head. “Are you out of your damn mind?”
He didn’t answer. Instead, he walked over to the cage and opened the door. I wanted to charge him but with Angelica in my arms, I couldn’t move fast enough. He walked to move, shaking his head. At first, I thought he was here for her so I passed her over. It was the worst mistake I could have ever made. Instead of being there to help her, he brandished a knife and shoved it into her rib cage. It was so quick I didn’t have time to react. When he pulled the knife out, he threw Angelica to the floor then turned to the screaming crowd, showing them the bloody knife. Rage filled me, I wanted to rip his heart out but instead I dropped to the ground to check on Angelica. Blood was already pooling underneath her. I checked her pulse but found none.
“You fucking son of a bitch” I said, jumping to my feet.
I charge him but he kept me at bay with the knife. “Kill or be killed” Then he raised the megaphone and shouted. “ROUND ONE GOES TO THE RED DEVIL.”
Terry appeared in the ring between the two of us, bent down to scoop up Angelica’s body then disappeared. I stared at the pool of blood then at Fugate. He moved quicker than me, making a fast break to the door. I almost got to him before he shut it in my face.
“Your just murdered her in cold blood.”
He shrugged. “She was good for a fuck but I was getting tired of her anyway.”
“You’re a bastard.”
He laughed. “Why do you think he picked me?”
He smiled. “I think you already know.”
I looked at him confused for a second and then he turned away from the cage, walking back to address the crowd. “ONE GLADIATOR HAS MET HER FATE AT THE HANDS OF THE DEVIL” he shouted “WHO WILL BE THE NEXT BRAVE SOUL WORTHY TO STEP INTO THE RING OF DEATH.”
It didn’t take long for the crowd to pick Elise.
Fugate shouted. “ROUND TWO, THE PERSUADER VS. THE RED DEVIL.”
Elise stepped into the ring shortly after her name was called, looking a lot like Jason Voorhees bigger and scarier sister. Her glowing blue axe and metal face mask made her look like a force to be reckoned with. I knew there was no way I was going to get away with dancing around, avoiding her. Her axe had to have at least a ten-foot range and I already knew what she could do with it. Visions of those police cars came into my head and I shuddered. I suppose trying to talk to her was out of the question too. But that didn’t stop me from trying.
“Elise” I said, backing up a bit. “Think about this.”
“There’s nothing to think about, you betrayed us.”
I was surprised. “What did Fugate tell you?”
“Like you don’t know, you NARC.”
“He said I was a NARC?” She didn’t respond either way. “I caught him in an alley talking to some criminal I busted back in Illinois. They overheard me so that monster bastard slammed me into a wall.”
She wasn’t listening though. I’m not sure, if she really cared or if she was ignoring me. Whatever the reason she was pretty pissed. It didn’t take her long to start. She came at me just as fast as Angelica but unlike her, Elise didn’t need to get close to me. Her axe did all the work. I managed to dodge it---just barely---but the wind from it sent me stumbling backwards. It scared the hell out of me. Something like that shouldn’t be able to have that much power. I got my bearings and realized that in order to survive this I needed to keep that thing away from me.
She swung again, missing me by inches.
“This is crazy; you’re going to kill me with that thing.”
“That’s the idea”
“I’m not the enemy,” I said, barely getting away from another swing. “Fugate is using you and the others. Look what he did to Angelica; he killed her because she failed to stop me. Does that look like someone who’s playing with a full deck?”
“She knew the rules.”
I scoffed. “C’mon Elise, you’re smarter than that. You know this is wrong.”
She hesitated before swinging again. I thought I might have gotten to her but she shook her head. “Stop talking and fight.”
Her next swing got close enough that it cut some of my hair. The force of the swing through me back and I hit the barbed wire. The sharp metal cut into my back and the electricity tore through my body. I screamed in pain. I tried to push myself off but the barbs dug into my flesh and held firm. Every time I struggled, it just hurt even more. Elise stomped toward me and raised the axe, ready to bring it down on me---executioner style. The crowd cheered. I’m not sure what happened to me. My body got hot just like I was used to and the next minute the pain was gone. I roared in rage and anger, knowing that the masquerade was over. Gone was Ellie the sweet demure girl trying not to fight and in her place was my true self, the real Red Devil. The crowd fell silent, even Fugate was at a loss for words. Elise hesitated again. My anger took over. I screamed as I pulled myself off the barbs and charged at her full force. She recovered quickly enough, throwing up the axe across her chest to protect her.
I slammed my shoulder into it, knocking her back. She was a lot heavier than I expected so she managed to stop herself from hitting the wall and getting stuck there. But she wasn’t quite strong enough to force me away. I pushed with all my strength, which sadly for her wasn’t enough for her to hold. She screamed as she lost some ground, giving it one final push. She was aided by stomping on my foot, taking me off guard. I let go of the axe handle, she punched me in the face and I stumbled back.
“What in God’s name are you?”
“This is really me,” I said, my voice rumbling. “Ellie is a disguise, nothing more. This is what I really look like, the Red Devil incarnate.”
“You’re a demon?”
I shook my head. “I’m a human being just like you. And seeing as both of us are humans, we can stop this before it gets any further.” I held out my hand toward her, hoping she’d drop her axe and help me. “Are you a human or something else?”
She didn’t say anything for the longest time. She did lower the axe, which was something. She turned and looked out of the cage, looking at the crowd. Then she scanned the faces of Fugate and Desmond, her eyes finally locking with Terry’s. There was something there still, a spark maybe. They stared at each for the longest time and then nodded.
Elsie turned toward me and tore off her mask, smiling. “I’m a human but I can’t be involved with this anymore.” She tossed her axe on the ground at my feet. “For what it’s worth, Rose was never involved. He threatened to call her father and hand her over if she didn’t help him. Go easy on her, she really does love you.”
Terry appeared in the ring, wrapping his arms around her. He looked at me. “Thanks for trying to help Angie and for not killing my girlfriend.”
I nodded and smiled. He nodded and the two of them disappeared.
As soon as it was clear they weren’t going to reappear somewhere else in the ring, the crowd rioted. They started to boo and hiss and tossed things at Fugate. He put his hands over his head to block the projectiles. Me, I transformed back into Ellie, letting out a big sigh of relief. Hopefully this was enough to ruin the son of a bitch. I watched as several people started getting up, storming toward the exits. Fugate looked frantic; he raised his megaphone, trying to call them back. But no matter how he shouted, they wouldn’t listen. He looked desperate until he looked up into the stands and saw Rose. Now the people were filing out, she looked directly at me.
“LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, HOW ABOUT A VERY SPECIAL TREAT. ONE TIME ONLY, RAVAGER VS THE RED DEVIL.”
The shock on Rose’s face mirrored my own. I shook my head and shouted at him but he ignored me. There was no way I was going to fight Rose in the ring. She seemed to shout something too. I looked over at her; she pushed Fite to the ground and jumped out of stands. Then she stalked over, putting one of her blades underneath Fugate’s chin. Desmond stepped forward to stop her but she snapped the other one around, keeping him at bay too.
“That was not a part of the plan.”
Fugate smirked. “Plans change.”
“I’m not getting into the ring to kill my girlfriend.”
Fugate turned and looked at me then at Desmond. He smirked. “Either get into the ring with her now or else I’ll have Desmond break her in two while you stand here and watch.”
Rose looked at me, tears streaming down her cheeks. I shook my head, tears running down mine. She lowered her swords and walked slowly over. I shook my head again. “You can’t do this, run and get the police. I’ll be all right, I can handle Desmond.”
“No you can’t,” she sobbed, closing her eyes and opening them a second later. “He’s going to kill you. I’ve already seen it.”
“The future can be changed.”
She shook her head. “Not the kind I see.”
She tossed her swords on the ground, probably hoping to make things fair. But there was nothing fair about her fighting me. She’d be able to tell everything I was going to do before I did it. That’s why she was such a good fighter after all. It would be no contest and I think she knew that. She lowered her head as she walked over to the door. Fugate looked like he was on Cloud Nine. He walked with a skip in his step as he unlocked the door for her.
“If you kill her, I’ll give your father fake coordinates, send him on a wild goose chase somewhere.”
Rose nodded. “It doesn’t matter,” she said softly.
“Have a good match ladies” he said and then eyed us both. “Remember the rules and don’t forget, the world is watching.”
He stepped away from the cage then addressed the crowd, firing them up. Only small portions of them were gone. The rest were back in their seats, ready to watch our fight. Rose and I were both crying, pacing around the ring in a circle. Neither one of us wanted to make the first move. She already knew when I was going to go so as long as I stalled things maybe the two of us could tire the crowd into boredom and get them to leave. It was a long shot but Fugate was nothing without his precious crowd.
“I know what you’re doing and it’s not going to work.”
I bit my lip. “We have to try something.”
“There’s nothing,” she said, sobbing. “So quick, change into the demon and strike me down. I won’t budge an inch.”
She stopped moving.
“I’m not going to kill you.”
“You should, I’m a horrible person,” She was openly crying now. “I didn’t just meet you by chance in that boutique; I knew who you were before I went in there.”
I was confused but didn’t care. “It doesn’t matter.”
“Yes it does. I’ve been with Fugate for about two months. Terry picked me up two days after I ran away from home, he brought me here. Then about a day before we met, Fugate told me he had a mission for me. I was suppose to go to Iowa and get you. He said if I did that then he’d let me go. So I agreed and Terry teleported me to the shop. I didn’t know who you were; you were the means to an end. All I had to do is get you to come to LA and his boss would be happy.”
“His boss, who is he?”
She shrugged. “Fugate said the guy’s name was Mr. Darksyde but I overheard him talking to someone once, he called him Neroc or something.”
I groaned. It hit me like a weight to the chest. “Neron?"
She nodded. “That’s it.”
I groaned. It made some sense now. That’s why he hadn’t gone after me; he was having Fugate do it for him. He was a slimy bastard but a smart one too. I should have seen it from the beginning but I was too stupid. I bit my lip. “It doesn’t matter; you’re the only thing that matters to me now.” I turned and looked at Fugate and Desmond. “We can take them, then the two of us can get out of here.”
Rose shook her head. “You don’t understand. If we flee, Desmond will kill us.”
I shook my head, reaching out and taking her hand. “I won’t let anyone harm you.”
“LADIES WHY ARE YOU HOLDING HANDS” Fugate sounded pretty pissed off when he shouted into the megaphone. “YOU SHOULD BE TEARING EACH OTHER APART, NOT GETTING ALL TOUCHY FEELY IN THERE.”
“Go fuck yourself, Clock King,” snapped Rose, giving my hand a good squeeze. “We’re tired of playing your stupid game.”
Fugate smirked. “VERY TOUCHING BUT VERY STUPID” he turned to Desmond and shouted. “RIP THEM TO PIECES.”
Desmond stomped over to the cell. He took a hold of the side of the cage, the electricity and barbed wire had no effect on him either apparently. He gave it a good yank and tore the wall clean off, tossing it behind him. There was several screams as it hurled into the stands, narrowly missing several patrons. The spectators started to flee after that, I think they knew when things were over. Fugate tried to call them back but there was nothing stopping them from running. He looked a bit hysterical in his shouting but it was clear he was finished this time for good.
We were finished too.
“I’ve been waiting months to smash your smug little face into the ground, Wilson.”
Desmond stepped into the cage and cracked his knuckles, grinning at the two of us. I let go of Rose’s hand, pushing her behind me then transformed back into my demonic self. Desmond laughed, clearly not intimidated. He took one thunderous step toward me, raised his hand and prepared to bring it down on my head. I flinched and saw a streak of green. It came out of nowhere. It stunned all three of us. I looked down at our feet, at the foreign object sticking in the mat separating him from us then I smiled.
It was a green arrow.
“What the fuck?” grumbled a stunned Desmond, looking at the arrow.
It had just barely missed his left foot. I looked at the arrow too, if only in shock and awe. I stared at it in excitement until my eyes snapped quickly in the direction of where it came from. At first, I didn’t see anything due to the bright lights but then I saw her: a shadowy figure crouched high in the rafters of the warehouse. I couldn’t really make out much of her but I could see the billow of her hooded cape and the outline of the bow she held in her hand. It was the Green Arrow, fabled protector of San Francisco. What the hell was she doing here?
Desmond recovered from his shock quickly. He snapped around and glared up at the ceiling too, but the lights didn’t seem to bother him. “I’d like to see you try that again you little bitch.”
The Green Arrow quickly notched another arrow and fired. It went straight for Desmond’s face. I’m not sure how he did it, but the big monster caught it in midair. He looked pretty damn smug about it. I looked at his face and then at the arrow. It looked different, the head was bigger. He didn’t seem to notice but Rose did. When it started to flash green and beam, she grabbed my arm and pulled me away. The two of us jumped into the corner of the cage just in time. The arrow exploded in a flash of light, causing Desmond to scream out in pain. Rose and I hit the mat face first; she covered a good portion of me with her body.
The light was blinding, forcing me to close my eyes. I’m not sure how long it lasted but Rose nudged me, telling me it was done. So I reluctantly opened my eyes and lifted my head.
“What the hell?” I asked as I pushed myself to my feet.
“Flash bang” said Rose getting up as well. “I wouldn’t have thought to put it on an arrow though.”
I smiled then remembered the situation the two of us were in. I quickly looked over at Desmond. He was dazed and stumbling and looked pretty mangled. When I say he looked mangled I might want to change that to his hand looked mangled, at least what he had left of one. It might have been a non-lethal explosive but it didn’t help to be holding it when it went off. His hand was a charred mess, three of his fingers were gone, the other two were bent at horrible angles. You’d think that something like that would cause huge amounts of pain. Surely, I’d be on the floor writhing in agony but not this guy.
It was like he didn’t even feel it.
Desmond recovered. But he completely ignored us; his new target was the Emerald Archer. I snapped my head around, wondering if she was gone. But no, she was still in the rafters, notching another arrow. Desmond roared like an enraged gorilla. Then he stumbled over, scooping up Elise’s axe in his good hand. He jumped out of the cage, forgetting us completely. He shouted something unintelligible at the Green Arrow and then lobbed the axe. It spun in a deadly circle, barreling right toward her. I watched in awe, wondering when she was going to move. She didn’t until it was almost on top of her. She was so quick. I saw a flap of green and then she wasn’t there anymore. The axe slammed into the spot where she was and stuck there. Ten seconds later, two arrows whizzed through the air from a different direction. They hit Desmond, lodging in his left shoulder. He bellowed in pain but it didn’t seem to faze him in the least. I’m not sure what this guy was made of but it was insane.
I turned to Rose, about to tell her to stay put. I needed to knock this guy down a peg but she was already running. I cursed. Rose wasn’t as fast as the Arrow but she was pretty quick. Desmond ignored her as she flipped by him, going for her swords. As soon as she recovered them, she went at him, spinning like a damn top. When the blades touched his skin, I thought for sure that was going to dice the hell out of him. I think she thought she had a good shot at it, too. It surprised both of us as they harmlessly glanced off his flesh.
A stunned Rose took a moment to rethink things. Desmond swung a hand around and swatted her, sending her crashing into a stack of chairs. I snapped. Anger took over and felt the changed come on. I was running on pure rage as I jumped out of the cage and charged him. I don’t even think he saw it coming. The Green Arrow was still keeping him busy, shooting her arrows into his skin. They were like bee stings to him but enough of a distraction for me. He didn’t see me coming until it was too late. He turned his head just in enough for me to slap into his side, sending him sprawling. The two of us skidded across the ground, tearing up concrete in our wake.
We finally stopped with a crashing thud into the side of one of the makeshift stands. There were several cracks of rickety wood and the whole thing came down on us. Such a calamity probably would have killed two normal people but it seemed neither of us were normal. Desmond recovered first. He grabbed me by the head and tossed me off of him, tearing through the rumble. I flew about twenty feet into the air, almost hitting the ceiling. For a moment, I actually thought I might be killed. As I was making my way toward the ground, my wings unfurled and I sailed down to it safely.
“YOU FUCKING FREAK” roared the Man Mountain.
I turned and he charged like a bull. He was several yards away and moving fast. An arrow hit the ground directly in front of him. He didn’t seem to care one bit, not even when it blinked like the last one. But unlike the last one, there wasn’t a flash bang explosion. This one was a real one, blasted a huge crater in the ground. Desmond was nearly on top of it when it went off. I couldn’t see what happened through the blast but there was a loud crash so it was clear that he was thrown backwards. When some of the smoke cleared, I finally caught sight of him. He was wedged in the far wall, his body bent over. I let out a sigh of relief because it was clear he wasn’t getting back up from that.
I transformed back into my Ellie self---no, make that my normal self. Who, when did I start thinking that? I took one last glance at the defeated Desmond then ran over to where Rose was lying. I grabbed a few chairs, tossing them away. Rose was on her back, panting and groaning. At first, I thought it was serious until she sat up but doing so caused her to wince.
“Some precog I turned out to be” she said, using one of her swords like a crutch as she pushed up to her feet. She coughed; I was at her side in a second.
“Are you out of your mind?” I asked as I slipped myself under her arm and helped her the rest of the way to her feet. “You could have gotten yourself killed.”
She opened her mouth to say something but stopped. Her eyes snapped shut and then she gripped my hand tightly. When she opened them again, she groaned. “Forget about me, you need to get Fugate before it’s too late.”
Fugate? I looked around the room. I was so preoccupied with Desmond that I’d completely forgotten about him. Sure enough he was nowhere in sight. He must have taken off running when the real fighting started. I looked around the room, trying to find his possible exit. But there was only one real way out of this place and I’m sure he took it. I reached down and kissed Rose on the forehead, she smiled and blushed. I couldn’t figure out why she was so bashful until I realized we weren’t alone. I snapped my head around and the Green Arrow was standing behind us. Hey, was that a new costume? I thought she wore all green, where the hell did the black jumpsuit come from? I shook my head, now wasn’t the time to think about it.
“I…uhhh….” I said, at a loss for words.
She smiled. “Go, get the bad guy. I’ll clean up here.”
I nodded and took off toward the only exit. I ran as fast and as hard as I could. It didn’t take a genius to figure out where Fugate was going. First he’d run back to his Clock Factory and then he’d high tail it out of here. Why the factory you ask, well because he had a giant safe in his room. I was pretty certain it was full of all the money he’d gotten off his patrons over the last few matches or whatever. There was no way that a weasel like Fugate would ever cut and run without the cash.
When I got outside the building, I half expected to see him running away from the factory with huge bags of money. Of course, that only happened in cartoons. I took off, glad that it was night; I’m not sure how much more bright light I could take, actually. I ran as hard as I could but didn’t break a sweat; I guess it’s one of my superpowers. I hadn’t really thought about what had happened to me since becoming Ellie. I guess there wasn’t really much time before and even now with it on my mind there wasn’t much time for it either. Later, later I can sit down and write a list. I’m not sure how happy that made me feel but at least it something.
I made it to the factory. I ran around the side to the back door. I wasn’t really suspecting anyone to ambush me when I walked in the door so it was kinda a surprise when the wooden plank went at my face. Luckily, I saw it a split second before it impacted---throwing up my arm---or else it would have hurt like a bitch. There was a snicker and a curse. The plank clattered to the floor and a shadow moved on me, faster than I knew Fugate could move. It could only be one other person.
“Not so tough now, are we little girl” said a familiar voice from the darkness.
I groaned. “Prince, this doesn’t involve you. Get the hell out of my way.”
“Prince?” said the sneering voice of the nutty bank robber. “I’m not Nathan Prince, I’m Copperhead.”
I rolled my eyes. This guy truly was off his rocker and I didn’t have time for it. I saw a flash of copper color in the dark---illuminated by a wisp of moonlight coming in through the door. I launched on it, trying to see if I could grab him. I missed the first time, getting a kick in the chin for my efforts. It brought me to my knees and I cursed, tasting blood in my mouth. I got to my feet quickly and caught a shape coming at me out of the corner of my eye. I smirked and transformed. When Prince’s foot connected with my side, he was kicking the fiery red flesh of my demon form and not the soft flesh of a normal teenage girl. You can imagine how that must have felt. The rubber sole of his snake costume melted on contact, searing the ridiculous to his flesh. He screamed out in pain, hopping with a real case of “hot foot.”
He stumbled backwards, trying to hide in the dark. I lit one of my hands on fire, using it like a torch in the dark. Not that I needed it, Prince was whimpering like a wounded dog. I found him a few feet away from where he kicked me, lying against a wooden crate. When he saw me, he tried to get up but the immense pain in his foot drove him back to the ground. I smirked. I walked over to him and reached for him, he tried to fight me off but it was no use---especially now that he knew touching me was very bad. Instead of hitting him like I wanted, I pushed him onto his stomach. Then I ran a red hot finger along the back of the suit, searing the seam shut, melting the zipper.
“You like being Copperhead so much then so be it,” I said and stepped over him, leaving him crying like a baby.
I wove my way through the factory, using my “torch” to guide my way. That is until I got close to Fugate’s office. I doused my hand. Besides I didn’t need it, there was a light on in his office. I smirked; I figured he wouldn’t be running away so fast. I took deep breath and started up the stairs. I thought about transforming back into me but then I might be vulnerable. No, I needed to do this as the demon, that way in case he tried anything I could easily counteract it.
When I got about half up the stairs, Fugate screamed. It wasn’t the good kind either, it was one of those girlish, sacred shitless screams. Then I heard his voice.
“Who are you? Get away from me!”
Was there someone else in the room? I charged up the steps, taking them two at a time. I didn’t care what was happening, Fugate was mine. I threw open the door, not sure what to expect. What I saw blew my mind. There was a figure standing before him, shrouded in a green cloak. From the size and shape, it was clearly a woman. Fugate looked scared out of his mind. He dropped his bag and quivered and then she spoke. I won’t lie, I quivered too.
“Temple Fugate, I am Vengeance” said an icy cold voice that sent shivers up my spine and then there was a muzzle flash.
It happened so quick, one shot right to the head. Fugate crumpled to the ground.
“Holy shit” I gasped and regretted it as soon as I said it.
The figure in the green cloak slowly turned around. What I saw surprised me a bit. It was a woman but she wasn’t scary like I thought she might be. Yeah she had chalk white skin and red eyes but she was actually very beautiful. But surprisingly more than that, she couldn’t have been much older than me. I gulped, feeling stupid that I spoke to this spectral thing---the thing that just killed a man without even batting an eyelash.
“Ellie Bloomberg” she said, the scariness leaving her voice somewhat. “You have nothing to fear from me.”
I sighed. “How did you know my name?”
She looked a little confused. “I’m not really sure; I’m kinda new at this.”
That kinda floored me. “Who the hell are you?”
She smiled, it looked kinda freaky. “I’m the Spectre.”
She said it like it was the most common thing in the world and then she was gone. It wasn’t like one of those blink and you miss her things either. It was like her entire body dissolved into nothingness and vanished into thin air. For the longest time, I just stood there, staring at the spot where she’d been. I’m not sure how long it was but I heard the faint sounds of sirens in the background and felt a hand on my shoulder. I jumped, not even realized I transformed back into my human self. When I turned around, Rose was standing there. She was panting.
“Ellie, we have to go” she said, then looked over my shoulder at Fugate. “Did you do that?”
I numbly shook my head. “Someone else” I said in a hollow voice.
She nodded, grabbing my arm. “Good riddance.”
She yanked me from the room. The two of us ran down the stairs and bolted from the factory in the nick of time. As we ran off into the darkness, I could see the headlights and hear the wailing sirens as several police cars pulled up around the place. I let out a big sigh after I knew the two of us were safe, several blocks away. We slumped in an alley, panting and exhausted. Then I collapsed into Rose’s lap and cried. She stroked my hair, holding my head to my breast.
“What is it, baby?”
I didn’t answer for several minutes. “I think I’ve just seen a ghost.”
We doubled back to the factory about two hours later, hoping some of the fuss there might have calmed down. There was only one police car now and the place was surrounded by yellow tape. I waited outside---beyond the yellow perimeter---as Rose slipped inside. It helped that she was precog and knew what was going to happen before anyone else. Why were we here, you ask? Well Rose wasn’t going anywhere without her stuff, I’m not sure why she was so obsessed with it, but oh well. It didn’t take her long, Thank God. When she came back, she was carrying our two bags plus her guitar case. To tell you the truth, I think it was all about the case. She seemed utterly attached to it. Her swords were back inside because she wasn’t carrying them anymore.
“You didn’t do anything stupid, did you?” I asked as she tossed me my back.
She shrugged. I groaned and the two of us got out of there pretty quick. It was several hours before we stopped moving. After leaving the factory we hit a little coffee shop, I couldn’t remember the last time I’d eaten. While I bought the food, Rose rifled through her bag. When I came back with some cappuccinos and Danish, she smiled. But there was something about it that seemed to bother me. It wasn’t a happy smile, more like a frown. I knew that frown, it was the “I’ve got something to tell you but I’m afraid to” frown.
“You’re not telling me things again?” I said, sitting across from her in the booth.
She sighed. “I don’t want to but I think I gotta run again.”
I nodded. “Where are we going this time?”
She shook her head. “The thing is Ellie, I work….”
I cut her off before she finished. “You’re not leaving me again and if you do so help me I’ll hunt you down and break both of your legs.”
She smiled. “I think you would, too.”
I reached over and took her hand. “I’m not going to let anything happen to you. I said this before but I’ll say it again, you’re not protecting me from anything. You and I will work things out, no matter what comes.”
She nodded. We ate in relative silence after that. There was only one other person in the shop and that was the waitress. She was behind the counter, glued to the flatscreen on the wall. It was the news and guess what they were talking about. I tried to tune it out but it was hard to when it was about me again. Ok, not specifically about me but pretty close. The footage wasn’t live---we probably missed that---but they were replaying some of the live stuff they shot earlier. I did watch a little bit of it, I guess I’m a glutton for punishment. I saw the police take Prince out of the factory in handcuffs, he was raving like a lunatic about “demons” and the “end of the world”. Go figure, huh. I also saw them loading a body into the back of a coroner’s van, good guess who that was. What I didn’t see was them escorting a large body bag out of there nor a pissed off looking Desmond in handcuffs. That kinda scared me a bit, meaning that that bastard slipped away sometime after us.
“She said she’d look for him,” said Rose after a minute or two.
“Huh?” I asked, not realizing she was watching too.
“The Green Arrow” said Rose as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.
In all that had happened, I’d completely forgotten about her. I’d also forgotten to ask Rose about what went down after I went after Fugate. She quickly filled me on the few details there were. The Green Arrow made sure she was all right and then when the two of them went to get Desmond, they found him gone. He must have slipped out after I ran but neither of them saw him go. That’s when the Green Arrow said she’d go looking for him. Apparently, she had a lot of “resources”, her words not mine. I’m not sure how she knew we there in the first place but I was eternally grateful that she showed when she did. If it hadn’t been for her it might have been a lot more difficult to take down Desmond.
“Authorities are looking for these two in connection to the factory” said the newscaster.
Rose cursed. My back was to the television now but it was clear what pictures were on the screen. I threw a twenty down on the table, grabbed the rest of the Danish and the two of us bolted. We didn’t give the girl at the counter time enough to call the police. We didn’t stop running until we were several blocks away. Rose---having been in the city longer than I---knew a few places to hide out. One of them surprisingly, was a church. She wasn’t a very religious person but apparently the priest there---Father Mike---helped her a few months ago when she first arrived here. When he saw her this second time he frowned but he gave us a place to stay anyways.
“Always trouble with you, isn’t it?”He asked as he took us to a back room.
“I’m really grateful, Father,” she said, giving him a gentle hug.
He smiled and left the two us alone nut not before handing over a sleeping bag. There was only one of them, meaning one of us would have to sleep on the couch. It was clear that we weren’t the first to be crashing in this back room. Neither of us had much to say after that. It was well into the early morning hours and let’s face it; I was so tired I could barely keep my eyes open. I think I was asleep before I slipped into the sleeping bag. Hey, a gentleman---even if I’m not so much one anymore---always lets the lady have the better sleeping accommodations.
I’m not sure how long I had been sleeping or why I woke up but it didn’t take me long to realize we weren’t the only ones in the room. I wasn’t the only one who realized it either. Rose was already on her feet, one of her two katanas drawn. The figure was sitting on the corner of the desk, a thin curved weapon in their hand. My first instinct was to “demon up” but I stopped myself when the desk lamp clicked on. I let out a sigh, recognizing the green and black that was the Green Arrow. She smiled, dropped her hood to reveal the braided blonde hair underneath. I’m not sure but I think Rose and I were the first two people in existence who’d ever seen her without that hood. Not that it mattered much; she was wearing one of those black domino masks like Zorro, except way cooler.
“You two are hard to find” she said with a laugh.
Rose lowered her Katana. “How did you then?”
“I tapped into the micro transceiver under your skin,” she said causing Rose to look down at herself.
Then Rose cursed. “So that’s how he’s been able to find me.”
The Green Arrow nodded. “Don’t worry, I killed the transmitter and rerouted the signal, your father now believes a bald eagle is in fact his daughter.”
Rose smiled, I was confused. But there were more pressing matters at hand. I was worried about what she might be doing here.
“Did Faraday send you after me?”
“I don’t even know who that is.”
I wasn’t convinced. “Then what were you doing in the factory?”
She smiled. “Cute but not very bright” Rose nodded at that; I stuck my tongue out at her. The Green Arrow continued. “They were broadcasting that stupid thing all over the Internet you know. It started a few weeks ago; my friend has been trying to track it down ever since. We finally traced it to the factory. We thought it might have something to do with several missing Metas in San Francisco but that doesn’t seem to be the case.”
She shook her head. “They weren’t here. But don’t worry, I have another lead on that.”
I nodded, not sure what the hell she was talking about. But I still was kinda weary of her. Yes, she saved my life but I still wasn’t ready to trust her. “So you were just in the neighborhood?”
She nodded. “Yep.”
Rose took over the questioning from there. “How did you know about my father?”
“Anyone with a computer and a good hacker can find out about Slade Wilson. Not a very nice guy mind you, I have half a mind to pay him a visit. But I’ll leave that to the professionals, besides he’s a little out of my league.”
Rose nodded. “And Desmond?”
She sighed. “I tracked him for a few blocks but lost him. I’m afraid he knows this city a little better than I do. I’ve put some feelers out for him though. I have a few friends in interesting places. If he pops up again I’ll make sure he’s taken care of.”
Rose asked a few more questions and the Green Arrow answered them to the best of her ability. I only half paid attention. I used this time to think about my own situation. I’d been involved in two crazy over the top incidents, both of which didn’t seem to turn out so right for me. The first time I was incarcerated by the government and now I was a fugitive from the law. I might have Rose now, but I wondered how long that would last. She didn’t seem the type to stick around for long periods of time. I’d make sure she’d stay out of trouble but I was certain I’d slip up somewhere and she’d disappear one night. It was a given. As far as Green Arrow went, I wasn’t so sure about her. She helped us out but I was sure she knew what I did. She didn’t say it in some many words but it was the way she kept looking at me. She knew I was guilty and a criminal. The question was, what was she going to do about it.
She finally spoke to me again. It was like she could read my mind. “I’m not here to bust you.”
“I’ve heard that before.”
She laughed and held up her hand, showing a shining green ring on her finger. “We’re on the same side, Ellie. In fact, I think if the two of us sat down and swapped war stories you might find we have some things in common.”
I stared at the ring. So she was visited by Jade, too. I guess it made sense. I wondered if Cassie had one of those rings now, too. But having one of them and saying you were my friend was one thing but there was no way to prove it. I think she still saw the distrust in my eyes. She let out a sigh and did something that I didn’t expect her to do; she took off the little black mask. For a moment, I had no idea who she was until she leaned forward a little bit further. Rose gasped first. It took me a few seconds to connect the face in front of me to a very familiar and popular face.
“Holy shit” I said, seeing Olivia Queen.
“No way” said Rose a few seconds later.
Olivia aka the Green Arrow smiled. “If I was truly dishonest do you think I’d show you my real face?”
She smiled then reached into the pouch on her belt, taking something out. It a sleek cell phone. “I’m not all fancy like Jade with rings and all but if you need any help, call me on this. It’s preprogrammed with some interesting goodies as well.”
She tossed the phone to me; Rose reached out and caught it before I could. I stuck my tongue out at her. I turned to thank Olivia but she was gone. Both of us looked a little surprised. But the window as open and the wind was whipping the curtains. I shook my head. Who the hell did she think she was, that “Bat” guy in Chicago? I didn’t bother to rush to the window to see her off, she was probably long gone by now. Instead, I crawled back into the sleeping bag. I suppose it didn’t matter but it was cool that Olivia trusted the two of us enough to reveal something that big.
I feel asleep with a smile on my face.
After our night in the church–and our meeting with Green Arrow---the two of us tried to stay one step ahead of things. Over the next two weeks, the two of us never stayed in one place very long, moving as soon as we got too comfortable. But we didn’t leave California. Rose figured it was a big enough state that we could easily get lost in it, and if necessary the two of us could hightail it to the border. It helped that we made contact with Elise and Terry again. The two of them were now up in Canada, Terry having been from there. After teleporting Angelica to the hospital---she’s alive, big sigh of relief---he realized something was up. That’s when he decided to get Elise out of there. Now the two of them were living comfortably near the border of Alaska, far away from civilization.
But he promised that if we needed him to just give him a call and he’d teleport us anywhere we wanted to go---as long as he saw it beforehand of course. That was the limit of his power, I guess. Rose quickly put his number into the speed dial of our phone. Speaking of the phone, it was an awesome brand new Q-Phone---Queen Industries' latest model. It could do everything except tie your shoes. Ok, I’m exaggerating a bit but it was pretty cool. We alternated who got to hold it, just in case we got caught by someone we didn’t want too, either her father’s goons or the DEO.
Not that we seemed to be having a problem with either.
I’m not sure what Olivia did to Rose’s transmitter---but whatever it was, it seemed to work. So far, we hadn’t seen a single one of her father’s thugs, not that they weren’t out there. Plus we were far from danger. They were still plastering our faces all over the news---it was a shame that Agents Fite and Maad got a good look at Rose. The two of us were alternating disguises now, trying on different wigs and different looks. So far no one’s seemed to make any connections but I’m not sure how long that’s going to last. You’d think that all this running would make a girl unhappy but strangely, I couldn’t be happier. At least for once in my life---well in the last few months---I felt like this is where I truly belonged. Ok so the girl thing was still a bit bothersome but as long as I had Rose, everything felt all right.
But there were always problems of course. Rose snapped her fingers in front of my face. The two of us were scoping out a new motel; the last one was getting a little hot. Someone must have recognized us because there was a police officer there asking questions this morning. So we had to move again. Now we were looking at a new place---from the security of the alley across the street. It was in a seedier part of the neighborhood but it would suit our needs nicely. It better because we were down to our last hundred---having spent nearly all of the cash my aunt wired me nearly three months ago.
“You were daydreaming again,” said Rose, taking her hand out of my face.
“I was thinking,” I said with a frown.
“Think later, we need to see if this place has any vacancies.”
I nodded and the two of us cut across the street quickly. We rushed into the office and Rose did all the talking. She was good at it, call it a gift. She was able to secure us one room for three nights with only forty bucks. I guess it helps that she was wearing a tight, low cut top. The manager agreed to pretty much anything she said, he probably would have handed over the keys to the place if she asked. I’m actually surprised she didn’t.
“You were daydreaming again,” said Rose, taking her hand out of my face.
“I was thinking,” I said with a frown.
She got our key and we went to our room. It was a small dingy thing, but it would do. We dropped our bags near the door and nearly collapsed together on the bed. We didn’t even both to pull off our wigs---I was blonde today, she was a brunette. I did manage to roll over and take her hand, hoping to get a little passion. But whatever I wanted was not going to happen because she was already asleep. I frowned and rolled over, grumbling. It didn’t take me long to sleep either but as soon as I did I wished I hadn’t. There was fire again, lots of it and that horrible laughter. I hadn’t had this dream in a long time, I was hoping they were gone but apparently, I wasn’t so lucky.
He was there too, sitting in that damn chair of his. But he was alone in this dream, Wendy and Marvin nowhere to be found.
“You think you’re safe from me just because you squashed my little operation?”
“Neron” I said with a sneer. “Or is it Mr. Darksyde?”
He smirked. “That fool Fugate had no idea what he was fumbling into. He thought he was creating a network of underground Meta Brawls but if he knew the truth…”
The truth dawned on me at that second. “You were recruiting for your army?”
He smirked again. “I knew I liked you, Princess,” he said, a goblet appearing in his hand. “Did I ever tell you that you were my favorite?”
I frowned. “Sounds like desperation to me.”
He grumbled. “I won’t lie to you, things are not good here. There’s a war coming in this Realm, the other are already trying to gather their followers…Dormammu, Trigon, Mephisto…all of them vying for the top spot.”
“And you’ve got…?”
He smiled. “You, of course.”
I shook my head. “I told you I’m not interested.”
He laughed; his voice did that creepy rumbling thing. “You see, that’s what I like about you. You think that just because I let you go, that you can decide whether or not to defy me.”
He might have been scary but for some reason he didn’t scare me in the least. I’m not sure what it was but I knew that he had no real power. At least not in my Realm. If he had power---true power---he would have used it by now. Instead, he used Fugate and his henchmen, sending them out to do his bidding. Which meant that he couldn’t come and get me himself. Yes, he might be able to torture me in my dreams but that’s the only real power he had over me. But even dreams were mine as long as I found the control.
I smiled. Control. The look in his eyes went from smug to scared. This great Demon Lord was scared. Scared because I think he figured out that I wasn’t a puppet.
“You don’t control me, you’ve never controlled me.”
He laughed. “I made you burn your house down and kill your poor mother.”
“That was before I understood my power.”
He laughed. “You have no grasp of who or what you really are. You don’t even know why you are what you are.”
I shook my head. “I don’t care, it doesn’t matter.”
“Yes it does.”
I shook my head. I had enough of this, enough of his torment and lies. I took a deep breath and transformed in my dream. As soon as I did so I felt the power, felt the anger and the rage. The look on Neron’s face was genuine. I scared the hell out of him and I was glad. He dropped his goblet, reeling back in his chair. I leaned in, my face inches from his. Then I blew fire over him and he screamed. It only lasted for a few seconds as his body burnt to a crisp.
“YOU THINK YOU’VE WON” said his disembodied voice. “THIS IS ONLY THE BEGINNING. YOU CAN’T ESCAPE ME, I AM YOUR MASTER AND TO SERVE ME IS YOUR DESTINY.”
“NOT ANYMORE” I shouted and snapped awake.
I shot up in bed, drenched in sweat. My heart was pounding in my chest and I was breathing like a racehorse. Rose woke up quickly too, looking around. She saw me and frowned, not really comprehending what was going on. Instead of asking, she just leaned over and took my hand, squeezing it gently. I closed my eyes, it felt kinda nice. But just as quickly, her grip got tighter. I forced my eyes open. Rose jumped off the bed---clad only in her panties---and rushed over to her guitar case. She flipped it open but didn’t get a chance as a dozen red dots hit her in the chest. She dropped her hands, holding them up at her sides. I was as confused as hell until the door of the motel room was battered in, then it all made sense.
Several men in black tactical gear poured into the room. Red dots hit me too and I cursed. I held up my hands and waited for what was to come next. It didn’t take long as King Faraday walked into the room, shaking his head.
“You girls had us on the run for a while you know.”
Rose cursed. I sighed. “Can’t run forever,” I said and he nodded.
I held up out my hands, welcoming him to cuff but he didn’t move to do so, instead he reared into his coat and took out an envelope, tossing it onto the bed.
“I think you and I need to talk.”