The Exchange

As news about the attack on the capital got out, there was a LOT of finger-pointing by the Empire.  A common target of their debate was the Specials.  It was “leaked” to the media that it was a Special who got them into the capital building in the first place.  And since one of the Knights of the Crown was killed and the Princess knocked out (by said Special), the consensus was that they were the ones at fault, not the regular military and ESPECIALLY not those in power.  No one wanted to cross a member of the Emperor’s family.  Especially since, following the event, Amelia was kind of falling apart.

Back at the base, the whole gang was partying.  It was an amazing night.  They felt like they could take on the world.  Everyone had a story.  Bane was talking about what it was like dodging exploding munitions that were going everywhere.  A lot of dry humor at his expense.  Wolf wasn’t too mad about that.  It hadn’t rained down on the civilians, which was what she was trying to avoid.  Ghost and Copperhead felt like professional assassins with what they had done.  It was awesome.  Deadshot felt like a complete badass with his shot on the airship.  But the person who was the star that night was, without a doubt, Firefly.  Her dispatching of a Knight of the Crown was already legend among them, and the legend of her, Deathstroke and Azrael’s battle with him grew as it got out amongst the others.  By the time they were hearing the final versions, it sounded like they went up against Goliath and killed him by ripping his legs off and holding the head up as a trophy.  For the first time, since they went quiet, they felt like they were Winter’s Shadow again.  Wolf made a note to enjoy some time with Gabby when they got home.
“Alright, everybody.  Well done!  I’m already working on our next move.  We’ve got to strike while the iron’s hot.  But we’re not going to rush anything.  Play it cool, but move fast.  So, for about a week, you all are free.  Deathstroke, get down to medical and get that leg looked at, understand?”
He smiled at her.  “Yes ma’am!”
“Alright then, dismissed!”
The group left, but Gabby stayed behind.  Out of her Armor, she was back in civilian gear.  Once everyone left the room, she ran over to Wolf.
“That was fucking amazing!  I can’t believe I did that!”
Taking off her mask, Wolf winked at her.  “I expect nothing less from my left.”
Gabby walked over to the table.  “You know, we could celebrate.”
Well-well, glad to see that she’s got her priorities straight.  “Yeah, not now.”
She pouted at her.  “Why not?!”
Wolf walked over, kissing her softly.  “Because as much as I would love to throw you onto this table and have you right here, the risk of getting caught with my pants down, literally, is not what I had in mind.”  Seeing where Gabby’s face was going.  “But I mean to make the most of it tonight.  Trust me.”  She kissed her again, then looking out at the airships in the inlet.  They were being prepped for battle.  The battle that all of them knew was coming.

The room that the four of them were in was dark.  The only light source was a lamp on the table they were sitting at.  Inferno and the others were very quiet.  They were as aware of the news coverage as the rest of the Empire.  The gears in their heads were work, and now they needed to talk.
“Alright,” Inferno began, breaking the ice.  “I don’t think we need a meteorologist to tell us which way the wind is blowing.  The Empire has been hating us for a while, and now it is looking more and more like they are just waiting for the right chance to throw us under the bus.”
“They already got Emily!” Radio whispered.
“Yeah, and if we don’t get out soon, they’ll get us too!” Shockwave agreed.
Full-Crank seemed unsure.  “Where would we go?”
Inferno gave him a look.  “Where the fuck else?  Winter’s Shadow!”
The man snorted.  “Seriously?!  They hate our guts!  Why on Earth would they let us join them?!”
“Enemy of my enemy.  I say, we go to them, be straight and tell them that we don’t want to get screwed by our old masters.  Say that they were the ones who wanted us to be monsters.”
“Which ain’t far from the truth!” Radio agreed.
“But we can see that they are going to screw us the first chance they get!  Tell them that we want to join up and bring the Empire down to size, so we don’t have to worry.”
“And get Emily out!” Shockwave snarled.  “She’s one of us!  We can’t just leave her in that lab’s prison to rot!”
“You’re damn right we won’t!  We get to Wolf, make a deal and then get the fuck out while the getting is good!  Hell, they already got Doppelganger on their side!  So it’s not like they are totally against working with us!”  The man’s logic made sense, and the others could see it.
“And when they go off on us about doing horrible things?”
Inferno let out a dark chuckle.  “Tell them that the Empire was the one who let us off the leash and told us to kill everybody.  It ain’t too far from the truth!  The more we can put on them, the better we look.  Sure, it ain’t perfect, but it works!  So, I say we go for it!  At this point, what do we have to lose?”
Nobody could respond to that.  They could tell that he was right.  But the nervousness continued.
“But we have to make sure that we get out Emily, and the rest of our brothers and sisters!” Radio repeated, with increased conviction.
“Of course!  Hell, that would be a nice thing to give them – a whole legion of our kind, ready for battle!  I know for a fact that almost all of them hate the Empire as much as we do.  They keep them there to keep them from getting out!  We have Wolf go in, get our people and she comes out with an army who’s looking for payback!  If that ain’t a good get-to-know-you present, I don’t know what is!”
They all sat there, with Inferno and Shockwave having already made up their minds.  Radio was clearly on their side.  Finally, Full-Crank nodded.
“Alright, let’s do this!  So, how do we find Wolf?”

At that moment, Princess Amelia was in her room.  Her tears ran down her face as she couldn’t get them to stop.  Her entire world had been blasted to pieces, with her now being very lost and very alone.  The only man she had ever cared for in a romantic way had just tried to kill her and were it not for Cecil, he probably would have.  She was still out cold, with the electricity having some rather ugly side-effects with her own mutation.  Everything seemed much smaller and colder to her.  One of her bodyguards was killed, by Winter’s Shadow.  Proof that a Knight of the Crown could die.  The other was unconscious and Wolf just declared war.  Things couldn’t get much worse.  She wanted to show that she could handle things here, and for a while, it looked like she could.  Had I gotten soft?  Did I just get too used to peace?  These questions and more were haunting her waking and sleeping hours equally.  She wished that Emily were around.  She was sure that if anyone could keep her safe, it was her.

From the dark corridors of Lab 451, Emily’s cell was a very cold place.  She had gotten used to it in the year that she had been here.  Her days were almost always uneventful.  Today was different.  There was a screen in her room that was used as a TV, but also had other purposes.  Right now, it came on with a face that she hadn’t seen in a long time, and was not happy to see.  Her father.
“Well, it has been a while, hasn’t it, Emily?”
She snarled at him, “what the fuck do you want?!”
The man looked insulted.  “If you ever do get out of here, I’ll do something about that mouth of yours!”
She gave him the finger.  “I asked you a question!”
He put on his faux-professionalism.  “Well, I came by to see if you had cooled your head yet.  I still have a lot of pull here.  After all, I was the one who got you into this place.”
Unbelievable!  What an asshole.  “Oh yeah, you got me in here alright.  Though are you referring to getting me arrested, or abandoning me here after I was exposed to the Nova Particle?  Something tells me that it wasn’t unintentional.  After all, Admiral of the 5th Airfleet, having a super-powered daughter who he could hold up as an example to how great he is.  I’m sure that me being in the Specials did WONDERS for your reputation!  Allow me to express my gratitude, by telling you to leave me the fuck alone!”
The man’s attempt to be professional melted away.  “Now see here, you little bitch!  I paid a lot of money to get you into the Specials.  There were plans in motion to have you inducted into the Knights of the Crown!  It was already set to happen.  Until you had to grow a fucking conscience and fawn over that..”
“That what?!”
“That Number!  That little dyke who just wanted to use you, just like the rest of them do!  That’s all those Numbers will ever do!  They are subjugated to America for a reason!”
Emily stood up, throwing a cup at the screen.  “That NUMBER has more humanity than you EVER will, you overpaid piece of shit!”
He got up, going so close to the screen that his face was completely filling it.  “I hope you’re comfortable in here, you little shit!  Because you’re going to be there for a long, long time!  You won’t be setting foot outside until the hair on your head is gray!  See how much your little dyke wants you then!”
“More than you and mom, I can tell you that!  And yeah, that’s a message for her too – fuck both of you!  Fuck you and fuck the high-horse your rode in on!  I hope that Wolf kills you and mounts your head on her desk!”
The man started to laugh.  “You know, they tell me that your little dyke has woken up!  She left the hospital!  I would hate to see anything happen to her.”  He looked back.  “Wouldn’t you?”
Emily felt her blood run cold.  “Don’t you dare!  Don’t you fucking touch her!”
“I make no promises…”  He started to walk away.
“Leave her the fuck alone!  Do you hear me?!  If you hurt her, I’ll kill YOU!”  The screen went dead, leaving Emily to sob in anguish.  Even now, she was hurting the only woman she had ever loved.  She looked at a knife on her table.  Maybe that’s how I can save her!  I die, and she’s safe!  She shook her head, banishing the thought.  No!  Not like that!  I’ll make that bastard pay, but on my terms!  If he hurts her, I will make his death so slow, so painful that he will be begging me to end it!  He’ll die not in days, or weeks, or even months.  No, I will slowly kill him over years!  Make every last second of his ending so ugly that death will be a mercy.  I’ll find a way out, Quinn!  I promise!

Elena was packing her things.  She got the approval from her new manager.  The next story would be an in-depth look at Winter’s Shadow.  More specifically, she was on a mission, to find out who Wolf was!  That’s a scoop that will get me into the Aristocracy without a single penny from my parents!  It would be the story of the century, and it would be mine!  She was having a very good day.

Two detectives looked over David’s body.  Something was off about this.  The gruesomeness of this case was something they had never seen before.  This man had dragged himself, with his guts hanging out, all this way.  The medical examiner told him that the knife entered his body through the pelvic region.  Cutting his genitals in two, length-wise, as they moved upward.  This crime was one of passion.  There was anger and hatred.
One of the detectives was looking at his phone.  “Yo Rich, does this seem off to you?”
The other one looked at him.  “What do you mean?”
“I mean, whoever did this didn’t just kill this guy.  I mean, same day, his parents AND sister get gunned down.  Those two were coordinated executions.  Then this kid gets introduced to his guts, the hard way.  Can’t be a coincidence.”
The other detective nodded, standing up.  “Yeah, I feel ya.”  Suddenly, a thought occurred to him as he took out his own phone.  “Wait a tic, they weren’t the only ones!”
“What do you mean?”
“I remember seeing a story going through the news.  A whole bunch of people got killed, same day as him.  Thing is, now that I think about it – they were all friends!  The whole bunch of them were tight.  They went to the same school, too.  All five of them get killed on the same day!  No way that’s a coincidence, either.”
The first detective looked at the information.  “Check it out – the first four were professional executions.  Same as this guy’s parents and sister.  And, if you adjust for the time zone, all of them were killed within seconds of one-another!  It was like somebody timed it out just right.  Who could do that?!”
Neither one spoke for some time.
“Something tell me that these kids were into something.  And given how they didn’t just kill this one, I have a feeling that he was at the top of it.”
The first nodded.  “Let’s head back to the precinct.  I want to look into these five more.  There has to be a connection, somewhere.”

The royal family was gathered.  Minus, the Emperor, of course.  The Empress was more than a little upset.
“I want my daughter out of there!  I want her out now!  You are to bring her home today!  Send a full fleet to escort her, if that’s what it takes, but she is coming home!”
Adam put his hand on her shoulder.  “Mother, I understand how hard this is for you, but you must realize – if we were to take Amelia out now, all order would fall apart in Area 7!  She has given stability to that region, even if it is tenuous.  And she is as safe as she can be!  Wolf was not trying to kill her with her attack.  Her strategy was elegant, but straightforward.  She wanted to show that she can hurt us where we think we are safe.”
She wheeled around on him.  “That is just the point!  This is not up for debate!  You are bringing my daughter home!  Immediately!”
Thomas rubbed his temples.  “Have we heard from Amelia?  What is the situation there?”
Mary shook her head.  “Not one word, since the attack.  According to Lady Cecil, she has locked herself up in her room and will talk to no one.”
“As for how the situation is in Area 7, it is deteriorating rapidly.  I have dispatched the 3rd and 5th airfleets there, to try and hold the major cities.  Outside of that, the occupational military is already facing a dozen fronts.  They open and close every hour.  It’s anarchy, in every sense.  Our production factories there are still functioning.  God knows how.  The security there must be tough as nails, but it’s only a matter of time until they fall.”  He sat down at the table, taking a drink of some cognac.
Juliet looked up.  “Wolf said in her speech that she was the victim of an attack.  What attack?”
Mary grunted.  “If only we knew!  I would have had them take her head!”
Audra was oddly quiet.  For once, she felt out of her depth.  She looked over at Elizabeth, who was crying.  She was scared for her sister.
She got up, walking over to her.  “Don’t you worry!  Cecil would die before she let anything happen to Amelie!  And she’s got a whole fleet protecting her!  Wolf wouldn’t try anything with all that!”
Elizabeth hugged her tight.  The family was scared.  They could all feel it – change was in the air!
The Empress looked up.  “I want you to dispatch four more Knights of the Crown!  They are to protect my daughter!  If she is to remain, then that is what you are to do.  Understand?!”
Adam nodded.  “Of course, mother.”
“And the moment that you are done in Europe, you are to go and deal with Wolf and her little rebellion, personally.  Understand?!”
He bowed on one knee.  “Your word is my command, your highness!”
She looked to Mary.  “You as well!  I want this Wolf crushed!  I want her rebellion utterly destroyed, and for you to bring her here!  I want to let her understand how much she has hurt me, by what she has done!”
Mary also bowed on one knee.  “I shall make it so, your highness!”
“Good!  When Wolf had her war is destroyed, it will be a message to the entire world – you do NOT pick a fight with this family!”
“Here-here!” they all said.

Quinn kicked the door open, fighting it out with Gabby’s mouth.  Their kiss was so passionate.  It felt like ages since she had been able to get this hot.  The two were fighting to get their clothes off, heading to Gabby’s room.  She had a bigger bed, and it felt right.  After all, it was her home.  Everything was going right for her, and she could feel that things were only going to get better.  As her tongue ran down Gabby’s collarbone, she felt all the tension ebb away.

Until next time, a quote,

“I woke with a start, breathing hard, wishing I could get it back.  Get her back.  Finish the dream.  Find out how far it would go and what was waiting for me on the other side.”  -Holland Jaeger, Keeping You A Secret

Peace out,

Maverick

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One thought on “The Exchange

  1. Pingback: Quinn | Lucien Maverick's Blog

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