There were too many factors to consider now. Ghost and his people did their job perfectly. Explosives were armed, underneath the building. Right under the floor. Ready to go at any time. They didn’t do sweeps for bugs or bombs there, since they were waiting for Winter’s Shadow to kill the Viceroy at any time. The longer the wait went on, the twitchier his security got. The man thought that something was off, but wasn’t smart enough to know what it was. However, they were waiting on word from the reporter to make their move. They had to move fast. If they waited much longer, then the Empire would know that something was wrong. Their plan was almost ready. The security would die too, but the way she saw it, that was fine.
The apartment that Doppelganger had rented was not especially large. It was deep in the poorer parts of the city, in a part of the world with enough people to easily lose the people that the Empire had watching him. In fact, the Colonel was starting to complain. He passed it off as a joke, saying that if he could lose them, then losing Winter’s Shadow would be easy. That got the mood back in his favor. He didn’t furnish it, since it was just an artifice, to his real purpose. But, once this mission was done, he meant to keep it. His work as Wolf could use this location well.
Sitting at the table in the kitchen, he was in his computer, checking in with Oracle. Just then, there was a knock at the door. He looked up, grabbing his gun. He kept it close, but out of sight. Who would come here? Not a member of my organization. It would have to be someone from the military.
He opened it and saw Princess Amelie standing there. She was wearing a much different outfit from earlier. It was a deep-cut shirt, with a much shorter skirt. Instantly, he knew that something was off.
“Your highness, what are you doing here?”
She gave him a mean look. “I told you not to call me that anymore.”
He shrugged. “Sorry about that. Anyway, what are you doing here?”
She stepped inside, smiling at him. “You said that you wanted a rain-check. So, here I am.”
Something is off about this. “You could have called first. I didn’t have time to straighten up the place.”
Looking around, she giggled a bit. “It doesn’t look like you have much to straighten.”
He chuckled as well, sitting down on a couch he had. “Well, it’s the principle of the thing, you know?”
She just shrugged, sitting next to him. “You know, you’re the first Special I’ve ever met. I heard about you all when I got here. Back home, they say nothing about you. It’s like they don’t want us to know about you.”
Giving her a wicked look, he leaned closer. “That’s because we kill people. Lots and lots of people.”
Her breathing quickened, she looked nervous. “How many have you killed?” she whispered.
“Me? As few as possible. I don’t want to be a monster. But I am responsible for the deaths of people. I take responsibility for that.”
She leaned in closer. “I am told that you can take any form you want, just by touching people.”
He smiled at her. “I can. Anyone I wish, anytime. It’s what makes me good at this. I could be the butler serving you food in the morning, the person guarding you or even you, if I wanted to.”
The girl was getting very close. Uncomfortably close. “Would you become me?”
He sat back, looking confused. “Why would you want that?!”
She looked down, “So I could see what I look like. So I could see what that pig that my father paired me with gets when he takes me. When…when he hurts me.”
Doppelganger was speechless. He sat there as she started to cry. Gently, he placed his hands on her shoulders. “I would never do that to you, Amelie. Ever. Having to live like that, it must be…horrible.”
She looked up at him. “Would you take me, Gabe? While I am here, safe from that man, would you have me?!” The desperation in her voice. The need. It was familiar to him. She sounds just like Emily.
He pulled her close, whispering in her ear. “I can’t. You’re the daughter of an Emperor. While you don’t want us to make a big deal out of that, it’s still the truth. I can’t change that. But, I will be here for you, anytime you need me. I promise.”
She shook her head, pulling back. “No! I won’t just let it go at that!” She wrapped her arms around his neck. “I won’t tell my father, or anyone else!” Her voice got softer. “Please, just for tonight. After tonight, I promise that I won’t bring it up again. Please, for tonight, let me pretend. I beg of you, don’t let it end like this!”
Her grip tightened, bringing his lips to hers. The two’s kiss was soft, subdued, but the passion was there all the same. As it ended, he pulled back, seeing her look back at him.
“Alright, but only for tonight. We can’t do this afterwards, understand?”
She nodded, sad, but serious.
He grabbed the remote, turning on the TV in the room.
She gave him a look. “Why do that?”
He winked at her. “Background noise, for those who might be watching.” He motioned outside with his head.
“You are good.” She pulled him back to her. They settled into the couch, sharing a long night together.
Morning came all too soon for Quinn as she left the place. Her watchers were easy to dodge and she got back to the Academy as quickly as she could. Her mind was awash. She didn’t mind having had to sleep with Amelie. That girl clear had some demons going through her. Besides, if she resisted too much, her cover was at risk. Still, she felt awkward as she got back to her room. Right as she fell to her bed to get some sleep, there was another knock at her door.
Fuck me! “Who is it?”
“Hey, it’s Em! I just got a call from Amelie! She wants to meet up for breakfast! You in?”
She groaned softly, wanting some rest. But, duty calls. “Alright. Let me grab a shower and get dressed.”
She heard a giggle on the other side of the door. “Want some company for that shower?”
Part of me loves her filthy mind, sometimes. “I wouldn’t say no to that. But isn’t Amelie waiting?”
The door opened and Emily came in. “I think that she can wait a little. We can think up a great excuse!” She winked, taking off her shirt.
“Oh, you have no idea.” She pulled Quinn close, meeting her lips. The two kissed all the way to the shower, eager to be together. Though Quinn still felt exhausted, being with Emily always brought her back.
On the way to meeting with Amelie, Quinn made sure to contact Oracle. She let him know – it was happening tonight. The reporter got back to them, she was ready. Having an Imperial journalist on their side. And this woman knew her stuff. Quinn made a note to make her boss disappear and get her into that position. That would help them immeasurably. But, one step at a time.
They met up at a very cozy diner on the ocean. It watched the waves go in and out. Their breakfast pastries were made hot and fresh, flaky and delicious. Amelie was waiting when they got there.
“Well, sure took you two long enough.”
Quinn just shrugged. “Eh, had some stuff to take care of. Schoolwork and whatnot. Boring as shit. So, let’s get some chow. I’m starving!”
The three went inside, getting a seat on the veranda.
Emily looked over at Amelie and seemed intrigued. “Well, you certainly are looking chipper today. Did somebody have a good night last night?” She had a big grin, closing one eye.
“I think that’s none of your business!” She feigned indignation. The three got a laugh. Quinn felt her nerves ease a bit. So, she is cool with things as they are. Good. I don’t need another headache.
“Well, I’m glad that you’re settling in,” Quinn chimed in, giving her the same look.
“You two are SO on my shit-list right now.”
“We know!” They said in unison, getting a laugh out of her blushing.
It felt good to be a normal person for a while, when she had the chance.
The key members of Winter’s Shadow had assembled at their hideout. Everyone was talking. This was it! They were finally going to put an end to the Viceroy. Wolf arrived, with her mask and an outfit that was black. She also had a cape as well. It was black, with white trim. It was clasped to the side, like a Venetian nobleman from the Renaissance. The lieutenants were all in their very best as well. Deathstroke was in his armor, which gave him a frightening yet commanding appearance. Deadshot and his two closest people were in a kind of outdoor look, with black cloth masks covering their faces. They each had glowing red eye-pieces that they used in battle. Also imposing. The Runners were not afraid to show their faces. Merc even made a curtain-call. Wolf gave the group uniforms. The color scheme was primarily black, with some white. It went with their groups name. The Runners weren’t expected to wear them in the field, but this was a special occasion. Ghost and some of his closest allies were wearing their stealth gear. It looked like coats with hoods. They had black masks as well of the same material. The eyes glowed blue. With Riddler, he decided to run with his namesake. He wore a very fine suit, with a question mark-shaped cane. He had on a bowler hat and shades, to hide his identity. For a curtain-call, we look like a scary bunch, don’t we?
Oracle cued in. “We’re ready on my end! We kick this show off at your command!”
Wolf nodded. “Alright, the stage is set. You all know your places. For the Runners, wear your hats low, to hide as much of your faces as you can. Especially you, Merc. While I admire you not being afraid to show your faces to the Empire, I don’t want to get too cocky.”
He nodded. “Understood, boss! We’ll do as you say.”
Gabby ran over to Wolf, shaking with excitement. “So, where do you want me?!”
Wolf put her hand on the girl’s shoulder. “Calm down. You won’t have to do anything. Just stand at attention and look professional. You all may be window-dressing on this mission, but you’re damn-powerful window dressing. Seeing you and yours, dressed like soldiers and standing with us, it will give the people strength.”
Gabby nodded, still shaking. “Alright! We’ll show them that you don’t have to be a badass to serve.” She motioned to the other groups.
Wolf chuckled. “Well, showing the most imposing of my officers can’t hurt, right?”
The two shared a laugh.
“Alright, assemble on the stage, everyone! We begin in two minutes!”
Amelie was at her residence, trying to call Doppelganger. She wanted to thank him for last night. She knew why they couldn’t do it again, but for one night, she felt amazing. Yet, he was nowhere to be found. It annoyed her, but it couldn’t be helped. She turned on the TV. More stories about the war in Area 4. Her brother was doing well. Incredibly well. Just then, something happened. The image cut out.
Far away, Eloise and Sebastian saw it too. They were at the beach-house, eating dinner together when it came on.
On the deck of a warship, floating high above the land below, an older man stood. In his early 30’s, he was quite the striking figure. He had a scar that ran the length of his face, with his dark brown hair being short and well-kept. His military mustache was trimmed very neatly. While he was in a regal uniform, it was clear that he was a proven soldier.
“Your highness, you have got to see this!” an aide called. He turned on the TV. It showed an image. It was the symbol of Winter’s Shadow. The wolf symbol that was on Wolf’s mask.
“Attention entire world, my name is Wolf! I come to you now, to deliver a message!” The lights cued up, and her people could be seen around her. It made for an unbelievably imposing image.
Emily saw the image come up, with the rest of the Specials. Where the hell is Gabe? And why didn’t he tell us about this?!
“To the people of Canada, I say to you – fear us, or rally behind us as you see fit! We are Winter’s Shadow! We are fighting against the unjust occupation of this nation, to free it from the clutches of the Empire that now holds it prisoner. They have taken your names, your nationality. You are now Numbers, viewed as dogs by the people who have taken your nation! At this moment, there is a man who is in control of this nation. A man who has been using his power to brutalize the people, slaughter the innocent and use women for untoward ends. His barbarism knows no limits! The previous Viceroy, Viceroy Franklin, had also used his power for barbarism. He slaughtered innocent people, simply because they would not give up the names of the resistance in their midst. A weak and cowardly man. Now, I have taken his life!”
On the warship, the man stroked his chin. “So, they are making their move. But this is more direct than I anticipated.”
“We, the knights of Winter’s Shadow cannot stand idly by and let ANOTHER Viceroy do the same to you!” The image cut to the location of the new Viceroy. “The military deliberately let this information leak to us, so that they could use us to do their dirty-work. So that we could eliminate this man and make their lives easier. I say to you now, we will be eliminating this savage! But not for them, or for any goal of the Empire’s. We do it for you, the people of Canada! While the Empire will call us terrorists, I say to you now – we are nothing of the sort! We have not, and will not go after any target where innocent people will be killed.” Wolf hit a button underneath her cape. The entire building exploded, as the Viceroy was trying to run away. The man even looked like an animal, screaming for the death of all Numbers.
Amelie was in terror.
Eloise and Sebastian were as well.
Emily and the other Specials were either shocked or pissed.
Prince Adam, on his airship, just watched, contemplating.
Oracle smiled in his room, cutting back to Wolf and her crew.
“We do not tolerate a one-sided massacre of the weak by the strong! The only people who should kill are those who are prepared to be killed! To the Empire, I say to you – your days in Area 7 are numbered! You use your power to abuse those weaker than you! To the people, your chance to fight back against your oppressors is coming! Stand with us! Our enemy may be large. It may be mighty, but we will not give up! We will stand with you, when that day comes to take Canada back!” The members of the group were smiling. They felt all-powerful in that moment. “For those in the Empire, fear us! For those who are under their boot, be you Canadian or from any of the other conquered Areas, rally behind us! We, the knights of Winter’s Shadow, will be the ones who bring the Empire to judgement!”
All across the nation, you could almost hear the people crying out in support. Those in the Empire’s employ felt scared. Very scared. Things were about to get ugly, all over the place. Every passing citizen was now seen as a threat. All of Area 7 was becoming a battleground.
The lights and camera faded, and the group was almost screaming with joy.
“Hell yeah! Even the Empire’s gotta be pissing themselves right about now!” Deadshot shouted.
“Hell yeah!” others concurred. It was a party. The whole group was almost over the moon.
Wolf walked over and sat down at one of the tables. Deathstroke came over, sitting close by. He removed his helmet, rubbing a hand through his white hair. “You sure it was a good idea saying that the Empire gave up that data? Won’t that give the infiltrator’s cover away?”
She looked over at him. “Yup! The infiltrator isn’t going to be going back there. Tomorrow, I mean to stage his ‘execution,’ at the hands of us, as a symbol to the Empire that we are so good that they can’t fool us. But don’t worry, it will all be choreographed with some awesome props. Don’t want to get a good actor killed, eh? I’m going to need you for it. Are you in?”
The aged man chuckled. “Oh, you can count on me!”
“That’s what I like to hear. Now, go enjoy the mood with the rest. I’d say that you’ve earned a good party, wouldn’t you?”
He shrugged, not getting up. “Not as young as I used to be, and that is clearly a young-man and woman’s affair. They all look like we’ve won this war already.”
Wolf nodded. “True, but they know that we have a lot of work ahead of us. I know that they are going to give it their all. And I guarantee you that our ranks are going to flood, not just with people, but other resistance groups across Canada. We’ve finally made our first mark in the war against the Empire. I see good things in our future.”
While he liked the sound of that, Deathstroke was still very skeptical of one aspect. “We need a commander, boss. You are an excellent one, don’t get me wrong, but we need more. Someone who can command loyalty through experience.”
She nodded. “I couldn’t agree more, but that is a discussion for tomorrow.”
Just then, Oracle called. “Hey boss, you’re not gonna believe this! Remember that Japanese business guy? The young one? Well, he just sent me some information. It seems that we’re getting some new toys to play with, and a woman who just so happens to be an expert on how to make them purr!”
Underneath the mask, her smile grew bigger. Just what I was hoping for! “Excellent! Let him know that we are fully on-board with whatever he decides to do!”
“You got it!” He cut off.
Deathstroke smiled at her. “Well, seems like the players are gathering.”
“A war is coming. Of course they are.”
Far away, deep in the jungles of the Amazon, the TV turned off. A bunch of women were standing around it. In their native tongue, one had a dark grin come on to her face.
“Well, that was interesting.”
“What do you think, Aveline? They worth getting in touch with?”
The girl, dark skinned with long, braided black hair looked up at her. “Oh, I think that these are JUST the people we need to be talking to!” They were all wearing suits. They looked like armor suits, but were thin. Like Ghost, but skin-tight and with hood that had glowing green eyes.
Far above, Prince Adam still looked serious. So, this is the legendary Wolf that I have heard so much about. Her debut was incredible. My little sister’s plans are stopped dead in their tracks. This woman took the upper hand in seconds, by not letting us get to the Viceroy’s death first. Who the hell am I dealing with? He turned back to his airship, that had a giant display table inside. It showed geographic data of the jungle below, along with their force movements. This isn’t good. The Empire is about to face a two-pronged war, right when we were looking to turn this around. I wonder what the next move is.
Back at the Specials lab, the whole lot of them were looking at each other. The consensus was clear – Doppelganger had been found out! As far as they knew, he was already dead. Emily went into the other room and started to cry. So close! So fucking close to having this all sorted out! Now I am going to be back in the war, and that much farther away from Quinn. All because of that fucking Wolf! God-fucking-damn that bitch!
Wolf looked out the window. Spring was coming. Good. She keyed up the information about the businessman, Ayato Kusaragi, She gave him a new classification – Luthor. It does seem fitting, after all.
At that very moment, the man codenamed “Luthor” was smiling. He looked at a young woman who was sitting nearby. She was smiling too.
“I want you to head over to Area 7, Mako. Rendezvous with Wolf and her people. Trust me, they’ll find you.”
She looked over, replying in their native tongue. “I can’t wait to get to work! I will make sure that Wolf charges into battle with the best equipment that we can make! It’s been so boring, developing armor suits that aren’t used. I’m casting my pearls before swine!”
The man laughed. “Well, I think that they will be more than enough to satiate you. Now, get whatever you need and get moving. We have a lot of work to do!”
Until next time, a quote,
“Incredibly powerful forces are about to do battle, with the people caught in the middle.” -Nyreen Kandros, Mass Effect 3