A Whateley Academy Tale
Sins of the Father
November 10th, 2007
The girl known to the world as Jane Fisher, and called Just Me by the MCO, listened to the footsteps fade as Headmistress Carson, Security Chief Delarose, and Mr. Geintz, left Doyle. Wiping sweat from her brow, she had to admit they knew how to interrogate people. Fortunately, she knew how to lie after a lifetime of deceiving to the world.
They had wanted to know why Shaun had been targeted and brutally beaten while in Berlin. Jane knew the reason, and she was reasonably confident that she knew who had attacked them, but she couldn't tell them. She had buried Mille as deeply as humanly possible, hoping he would never come back. Unfortunately karma had struck with a vengeance, going after Mille's family.
Two years ago, the man known as Mille, a shifter, assassin, murderer, psychopath for hire, had given up everything, his age, sex, identity, even his power. He had died from barely controlled burnout, replaced by a twelve year old girl, with no name, no family, and seemingly no memory. Then by some malicious miracle, she had manifested again at fourteen, regaining a fraction of Mille's shifting abilities.
She had been sent to Whateley, where she had hoped to be ignored, allowing her to continue with her plan of living a quiet peaceful life. But then she discovered she shared a class with the son Mille had abandoned over a decade ago. And now Mille's old enemies wanted to enact their revenge, if they couldn't get Mille, they'd settle for his son.
She couldn't allow that.
When she was sure no one was around, Jane took her phone, struggling to see the buttons clearly through her concussion induced migraine. Shifting her throat, making her voice deeper and more mature, she dialed a number, dreading what was about to happen, yet yearning to hear the voice of the woman Mille had dearly loved.
“Hello,” the woman said.
For a moment Jane couldn't speak. Katherine was still as lovely sounding as ever. A part of her, the weak part, wanted to tell her former lover and the mother of her child the truth. But that couldn't happen, she wasn't Mille. She couldn't and wouldn't be Mille again.
“Hello, is anyone there?”
“Paris, 9am, June 9th, 1987,” she said, hoping Katherine would remember the old code.
There was a long pause. Finally Katherine replied, her voice cracking, “La tartine, café au lait, marmelade. J- Mille is that really you?”
“No,” Jane said, tears rolling down her face. “Mille died on March 9th, 2005.”
Mille's former lover began to sob. “Then who are you? How do you know his code?”
“I'm a friend. He wanted to make sure you and Shaun were protected. We don't have much time to talk. Whateley is going to call you soon, Shaun was attacked and badly beaten this afternoon. The attackers know he is Mille's son.”
“Oh god, I've got to get him.”
“No! You will go into hiding temporarily. The attackers believe Mille is alive, they were sending a message to bring him out. When Whateley calls, you will not admit to knowing anything about Mille. He paid me a large sum of money to deal with potential problems like this. I will ensure they cannot come after you or your son again, and create some false leads away from you both. If you don't hear back from me in a month, then you may contact Whateley and tell them everything. Anything else will put you both at even more risk.”
There was another long pause. “All right, if Mille trusted you, I'll do the same. You have thirty days.”
Ending the call, Jane took the sim card out and snapped it in half, then she did the same to her phone, shoving the remains under the mattress, she'd properly throw it out in the morning when she left. Using her own phone had been a risk, but there hadn't been any other better options. She'd have to get a new one the next day.
Laying back down, she closed her eyes. Magic had gotten rid of the worst effects of the concussion, sleep would help remove the rest. The gaping wound in her chest would take far longer to fade back into memory.
Headmistress Office, Whateley
“Do we know who did this?” Headmistress Carson asked.
“We have a lead,” Delarose said, “but we need to confirm it. Looking over Mille's confirmed hits, the only one where children were killed was in 2002, when he tried to assassinate Mathew Fusco. He set a car bomb as a backup minutes before the shoot out, Mr. Fusco's two children and their tutor set it off trying to get away. Mr. Fusco survived, thanks to a secret escape route that led to a concealed car at the back of the house. Telling Mille to meet at the graves of the children, as well as the brutality of the attack on Shaun Solace, points to him as a suspect, but it could also be a red herring.”
“What did Imp have to say about Mille?” she asked, turning to Fubar.
“Nothing useful,” he admitted. “She worked with him twice, both times over a decade ago. She's willing to go over it with us, but she knew him before he gained his violent reputation. He never revealed any personal information, other than his habit of reading biographies of actors, spies, and con artists. As far as she knows, everyone agrees he died in the February, 2005 Boston explosion.”
Carson frowned, tapping her desk in irritation. “What about Shaun, is he Mille's son?”
Delarose matched her frown. “I personally phoned Ms. Solace after speaking with Shaun, someone had contacted her first. She's a decent actress, but she wasn't surprised enough when I told her what happened, just concerned and upset. She claims his father is a John Alarie. Duel citizenship, French and American, thanks to his American mother. He was a former day trader who abandoned her in 1992 while she was nine months pregnant, and died in a drunken car accident a week later. Official records confirmed her story.”
“You think she's lying?”
“Yes. We traced her phone, it was scrambled, but we managed to pin her down in Stillwater, Oklahoma, at a Syndicate safe house. A few discrete calls and cashing in some large favours, I found out she had made an emergency call two hours before I talked to her. She was teleported directly to the safehouse with a team of bodyguards who were armed to the teeth.”
Her frown grew larger. “I don't recall Shaun's files saying they had access to that kind of money.”
“There seems to be a lot we don't know about Shaun Solace, or Jane Fisher.”
She gave her security chief a curious look.
“Ms. Solace received a call from Jane Fisher, two minutes after we finished talking to the girl. I dropped by after learning that bit of information, asking her some follow up questions, she claims she lost her phone.”
“Do you believe her?”
Delarose sighed, rubbing his temples. “Not for a minute. The video from the cafe shows she has experience fighting with weapons and won't hesitate to cause serious injury, despite being in Survival and having shown no signs of training. However she has never had any run ins with security, has no complaints from her teachers, and seems to avoid trouble of any kind. I'd put her up as a model student at least when it comes to decorum, which just makes me more suspicious.”
“What does her file say?”
“She didn't exist before March 2005, no records and no apparent memory. A psychiatric evaluation in 2005 says she was suffering from severe emotional trauma, which they believe has caused her amnesia. She did well in therapy and stopped in February, 2007. Her foster families all report that she was extremely polite, quiet and obedient, to the point of being, and I quote, creepy and unsettling.”
“How many families did she live with?”
“Three. The first foster parents died due to carbon monoxide poisoning from a poorly maintained water heater. Jane survived thanks to having her bedroom window open. The second family asked for her to be moved after five months because she was scaring their young daughter, who said Jane had scary eyes that were giving her nightmares. She did well with her last foster family and saw a lot of improvement, until she manifested and developed her seizures, at which point she got sent her to us,” Delarose said.
Turning back to Fubar, Carson asked, “What did you get from meeting Jane?”
He gave her a disapproving look. “Going purely on what I've seen of her today, she is a very intense young woman. She hasn't come to Hawthorne and I haven't had any reason to talk to her, so I can't say much more.”
Leaning back in her chair, Carson thought about the problem. Shaun's attackers would need to be shown the errors of their ways, breaching Whateley's neutrality so violently and blatantly required a strong response. She also needed to get more information on Shaun's possible parentage if it would lead to similar incidents in the future. Finding out what was going on with Jane would also be useful.
“Chief, do whatever it takes to confirm if Mr. Fusco ordered the attack. I want an example made as soon as possible. When Shaun is able to answer more questions, we'll talk to him again. With Jane, keep an eye on her and let me know if she contacts Ms. Solace again. I'll talk to Dr. Bellows and see what he thinks about getting her back into therapy,” she said.
Survival Class, Whateley
September 4th, 2007
Jane leaned against the hallway wall, near the door of the classroom, tapping away at her phone while watching the other students enter. She wasn't actually doing anything with the phone, she just wanted to get an idea of who her classmates were before making her entrance. Seeing who they were friends with, how they interacted with others, what they talked about, it all helped her build a picture of who to avoid, who to get close to, and most importantly how to not stick out.
Most of the class seemed to be in the room, so it was time to get inside before she was the last one in. Putting her phone away, she headed for the door and almost stopped in shock.
A boy was coming down the hall, brown hair, blue eyes, freckles, ears that stuck out just a little too far and were a little on the pointy side.
“No, fucking way,” she whispered.
One of Mille's memories of a long haired brunette with blue eyes, freckled cheeks and slightly pointy ears that stuck out just a bit too far, walking down a London street, rose up in her mind.
Staring at her feet, Jane reached the door at the same time the boy did, accidentally bumping into him. “Oh! I'm sorry, I wasn't paying any attention,” she said, using her power to make her cheeks turn a bright red from embarrassment.
“That's Ok,” he said. “I wasn't paying much attention either.”
“Well I guess this is one way to meet my new classmate. I'm Jane Fisher, from Halifax, Canada” she said, returning her cheeks to their normal colour.
“Shaun Solace, Tulsa Oklahoma,” he replied.
That practically settled matters. Solace was such a rare name, finding someone who looked so much like Katherine, and had the same last name, and was from the same city, made her fear a virtual certainty. Shaun was Mille's son.
Somehow she kept her composure. Finding two free seats, she sat down and as expected he sat down beside her. She forced herself to keep talking as if everything was normal. “I guess you're like me and didn't want to get beaten up in martial arts,” she said.
“Yeah. My Mom always said that being able to run away was better than getting broken bones,” he replied. “And I'm not a brick, so Survival is more my speed.”
Before she could reply, Mr. Anderson, the Survival teacher stepped into the classroom. Without thinking, she leaned over to Shaun and quietly asked, “You want to have supper with my roommate and I?”
“Uh, yeah,” he said, looking surprised at her offer.
Silently cursing herself, she gave him a smile and pulled out her notebook.
Ducking into the bathroom after Survival, Jane pulled out Shaun's phone from her bag. She had to be absolutely positive about Shaun, and there was only one way to do that. She frowned in disgust at seeing it wasn't locked, what idiot didn't have a password? At least it made her job easier.
Going to contacts, she found 'Mom'. Forcing herself to stay calm, she phoned the number.
It took five rings before Katherine answered. “Shaun? Shouldn't you be in class?”
Jane hung up immediately. Even after fifteen years, she knew that voice, it was still as beautiful as ever.
Fighting back tears she got up to leave, she had classes to go to, sticking out wasn't an option for her. She didn't know why Shaun was a freshman instead of a sophomore, and she didn't know why fate had put them in the same class, but ultimately it didn't matter. She wasn't Mille, he had died so she could live. She was Just Me, Jane Fisher, fourteen years old, a student of Whateley, she was in the system, and a mutant. She wasn't special, she was going to get her high school diploma and go to a small college to learn something boring, and live a peaceful life.
Stepping out into the hallway, she disappeared in the crowd.
November 11th, 2007
Jane looked up at Security Chief Delarose, he looked just as grim as he had the night before. “You're sure you've never heard of Mille?”
“Yes, sir,” she replied.
“When you were attacked witnesses say you reacted quickly, like you knew something was about to happen.”
“I'm in Survival, I pay attention to things and saw one of the men point at us. Then they all stood up, it was pretty obvious something bad was about to happen.” That much was mostly true at least. She had recognized the man she'd stabbed. Mitch Davis, Mille had worked with him for a few days when he had been pretending to be a nanny for the Fusco job.
She was getting tired of having to go over the same questions she'd answered the night before, just in a different order and with some questions about Mille thrown in. She knew they wanted to find out what had happened and why, and it was pretty clear they thought she was hiding something, but this was her problem, not theirs. She would deal with it.
“Excuse me, Chief Delarose, my head is still sore and I'm hungry. I've been given the all clear by the doctor, may I please see my friends who are just outside the door and go to lunch?” she asked.
“I think that's everything. If you remember anything that might help Shaun, let me know,” he said.
“I will, sir.”
With the room free, she got dressed in the clean clothes that her roommate had brought over earlier, collected her broken phone, putting it deep into her bag to be thrown away later, and walked out to see Amber, Cooper and Aella waiting for her. Amber rushed over, throwing her arms around Jane.
“I was so worried about you. They still won't let us see Shaun, is he all right?” Amber asked.
Self-consciously, Jane patted her roommate on the back. “He was beaten really badly, but he'll survive and they used magic to heal him, we'll be able to see him in a few days.”
Everyone breathed a sigh of relief.
“What about you, how are you feeling?” Aella asked.
“Hungry,” she replied, slipping out of Amber's hug and heading for the exit. “And I'm OK. I just had to sleep off a concussion.”
“So what happened?” Cooper asked, as they followed her.
Taking a moment to get her thoughts in order, Jane said, “I don't know much, just a bit of what I remember before getting knocked out yesterday, what I happened to overhear listening at the door last night when Shaun was briefly awake, and a few questions I was asked this morning. But someone, who could hire a bunch of thugs, thinks Shaun is related to some guy named Mille.”
“What? He's never talked much about his family, it just seems to be his mom and grandpa. He doesn't even have a father.”
“So,” Amber said, “maybe his unknown dad was in trouble with someone. It had to be pretty big to make them come after Shaun.”
“What did you say the name was, meal, mill, mile? What type of name is that anyways?”
“It's pronounced Meel,” Jane corrected him. “It means a thousand.”
“Does Shaun know him?” Amber asked.
Jane shook her head. “He said he didn't. Never heard the name. So I'm guessing we're the talk of the campus.”
“Nope,” Cooper said. “You were upstaged.”
“You know the green haired elf, who got beat up on Friday night?” Amber asked.
She nodded, it was kind of hard to miss the girl and her pixies.
“People are saying she works for the MCO. No one knows if it's true or not yet, but a lot of people are trying to find out.”
“Damn.” Jane didn't want to think about what would happen to the girl if those rumours proved to be true. She didn't have a problem with the MCO, being a ward of the Canadian government had ensured she didn't have to deal with the MCO very much, and she always had a government official with her when she did. But she understood how bad they could be and how most mutants felt about them.
At least she wouldn't have to worry about too many people asking her questions she didn't want to answer.
Getting to Crystal Hall, they grabbed some food and sat at their usual table. Aella who had been tapping away at her I-Phone finally put it down on the table. “I think I know who Mille is,” she said, looking pale.
She felt her blood run cold, but this time it wasn't a seizure, Mille couldn't seem to stay dead. Feigning interest, she looked curiously at Aella.
“I did a search for Mille and crimes, the first five results are for a shifter assassin.”
“An assassin?” Cooper said. “How good is he?”
“Over one-hundred-fifty confirmed kills, and anywhere from four hundred to eight hundred kills that they're pretty sure could be his. But it could even be higher than that, well over a thousand.” she whispered in horror.
Cooper and Amber both swore. Jane looked down at her food, forcing herself to eat.
Mille had lost count of his kills. After the first hundred, the faces and numbers just stopped mattering. The only thing that mattered was the payment and the thrill. Eventually that had stopped as well, and it was all about letting out the rage and anger that filled him, hoping that one day he'd lose.
“Is he still alive?” Amber asked.
Aella scrolled down. “It says they believe he died in Boston. A big explosion in 2005 killed over twenty-five people, one of the survivors said they were going after Mille. They couldn't identify most of the bodies, but Mille had been shot and the area he was in was levelled. Since he hasn't appeared since then, everyone is pretty sure he's dead.”
“If he died, why would they go after Shaun?”
“Sins of the father,” Jane whispered.
“He was a monster,” she said. “The people he murdered had family, friends. If they think the monster is still alive, they'll want to get their revenge. If they can't punish him, punishing his family will have to do.”
She felt their eyes on her. She pretended to ignore them, focusing on her food, trying to get her hand to stop shaking. Every bite tasted like blood.
“Do they have a picture of him?” Amber asked.
“Not really,” Aella said. “They have pictures of people confirmed to be him, but they're all different, men, women, teenagers, seniors, different races, no one has seen his real face. They don't even know his name, just a lot of aliases, Miles, Emile, Milhouse, Millicent, Miley. There are dozens of them, most have Mil somewhere in the name, but they say he used all kinds, these are just the ones they could confirm. It was like a calling card when he could get away with it.”
It had been a game, a way for Mille to show he was smarter than them, more clever than them. Then it became a target, daring them to spot his ruse and kill him before he killed them. They never won until they'd found a way to track him down.
“So what if Mille really is Shaun's dad?” Cooper asked.
“If he really is Mille's son, does he seem like a psychopath waiting to kill someone?” Jane asked, still not looking at them.
“Not really,” he said. The others agreed.
“So treat him normally. He's going to need the support.” Tossing her fork down, she gave up trying to eat. If she had anything else she was probably going to just throw it up. “I'm done. I need some alone time.”
Amber ran after her as she went to throw out her tray. “Hey, Jane. If you need anything, even just a hug, let me know. You don't have to face this alone, we're friends.”
She forced herself to smile. “Thanks Amber. I'll remember that.”
Turning away from her friend, she kept walking, she had to make some plans and order equipment. Dumping her tray, she left Crystal Hall. In the cold air she felt heat building up in her chest, making itself at home. She eyed the students she passed, looking at their throats, groins and faces.
Making her way to Dickinson alone, she didn't notice she was still holding the knife from her abandoned lunch.
November 12th, 2007
The sign on the door read, 'Abandon all hope ye who enter'.
Jane had been avoiding this classroom and especially The Imp as much as humanly possible. When the teacher wast subbing in Survival Class, she made it a point to stay quiet and not do anything that might stick out.
Mille had worked with the Imp twice in the past, she knew how intelligent the supposedly insane supervillain was, and a slip up could spell disaster. So she was taking a huge risk doing this, but now that she'd decided on her course of action, there was no real choice if she wanted to succeed. On the plus side if this blew up in her face, she was probably going to be dead before she realized it.
“This is already a disaster,” she muttered to herself.
The Imp looked much like she had twelve years ago, a touch older and wearing civilian clothes, rather than the distinctive catsuit. The slow aging was likely one of the advantages of her regeneration, or possibly magic, even Mille hadn't known all the tricks the Imp had up her sleeve.
“Hello, Imp,” she said, closing and locking the door.
The Imp looked at her curiously, obviously wondering why she'd locked the door. “What can I do for you?” the art teacher asked.
“I need a private conversation. It's important.” Jane saw that she had Imp's complete attention. The art teacher was hard to read, except when she was having fun mocking someone, but from Mille's memories Jane knew enough to tell when Imp was interested.
“I just swept for bugs ten minutes ago. Is that good enough?”
“Yes it is,” she said, taking a seat across from her. “I'd like to call in a mark you owe my father.”
“I didn't know the Bad Seed's had a new member,” Imp said.
“I didn't know my father until I manifested and got a letter from one of his former associates. He had a long list of enemies who would gladly come after me if they knew I existed. Since he's dead, he can't exactly protect me. Staying quiet and unknown is safer,” she said.
A strange look crossed Imp's face, disappearing almost instantly. “I'm sorry to hear that. I am going to need to know who he was, or at least what the mark is for.”
“He helped you get rid of some very persistent hitmen.”
Imp's eyes widened. Jane could see her connecting the attack on Incognito and Mille, hopefully the art teacher would just think she really was Mille's daughter.
“This seems like something Whateley's neutrality would be better suited for. I owe your father favour, but not that big of one.”
Shaking her head, Jane said, “I don't want you to go after them, I need information. Three years ago, you stole a painting from Mathew Fusco. I want all the information you have on him, his security, his house, his daily schedule, everything.” She had confirmed the man who had attacked her and Shaun was still working with Fusco, now she needed to learn how to kill them all.
Imp nodded. “I can do that, but it's out of date. He's probably changed a lot of it.”
“It's a start, and you have connections I don't. You can get up to date information far more quickly, cheaply, and easily than I can. From what little the letter said, that is a reasonable request.”
“It is. I'll get right on it. Where do you want me to send it?”
She handed over her new phone number. “Send me a place and time to meet up. I want it on a USB, no papers, nothing that can be traced back to me. If anyone asks, I'm thinking about commissioning a small portrait.”
“All right.” Imp cocked her head, eyeing Jane closely. “You remind me of your father. You have the same intensity, and you keep things close to your chest just like he did.”
“Thank you. That's nice to know,” Jane said. She left without saying another word.
“So what do you need me to do?” Jane asked, leaning on Shaun's work table while he pulled out various things from the locked cabinets underneath.
“Well, in a little bit I'd like to scan your face so I can make a mask for you. It will help make testing it easier. But for now, if you could make your face really oily, I can see if this new polymer sticks to it,” Shaun said. He placed a small box on the table and opened it up revealing what looked like a thin patch of skin.
“An oily face,” Jane said. “You'd better not have a camera ready to take a picture of me looking all gross.”
Confusion was clear on his face as he looked at her. “Why would I do that?”
She couldn't resist grinning, his mother had raised him properly. Picturing her new look, she shifted. It wasn't that different from her usual appearance, but her pores were enormous, practically oozing oil. “How's this?”
Shuddering, he handed over the fake skin. “Perfect. Just put the sticky side on your cheek or forehead and we'll see how it holds.”
The skin felt like kind of sticky on one side, and a little rough on the other. It didn't match her skin tone, being a bit redder, but it looked like the real stuff and felt like it on the rough side. Placing the stuff on her cheek, it gripped her skin like glue.
“So do I just keep it on for a few minutes or do you want me to make some faces for you?” she asked. A corner of the skin came up as she spoke.
“Just talk for a bit. I want to see how long it will stick.”
“Uh, right. Talking,” she said. What could she talk about? She was good at listening. Getting a person talking about themselves was easy, and let her hide her past. What was she supposed to say to Mille's son?
“You're fifteen, right?” she asked.
“So why are you older than most freshmen?”
“I had leukemia when I was five. It wasn't that bad, but it kept me out of school for a year. My mom decided it was easier to just start a year late.”
Her stomach dropped. “That sounds pretty bad to me.”
He shrugged. “I'm not going to say it didn't suck or that it wasn't scary. But it was gone with a round of chemo, and other than a scare when I was nine, it never came back. Now all I really remember of it is feeling really sick and seemingly endless days in a hospital bed.”
There was another reason to curse Mille, he should have been there for his son. Going through Mille's memories she realized that he had been in North Africa blackmailing and killing several politicians in Algeria and Morocco, for an unknown third party while Shaun was in the hospital.
“Hey, you OK?” Shaun asked. “You look lost. More than usual.”
“What do you mean?”
He turned red. “It's nothing.”
“I don't look lost. Do I?”
Turning away he began doing something with his tools as he said, “Well, yeah. You always seem kind of distracted and not all there, like you're thinking about something really hard, or not sure what to do.”
“Oh. I didn't know that.”
“It's not bad or anything. It's better than being too intense, a lot of kids here need to learn how to relax a little.”
Before she could think of what to say, a small, almost frail looking boy came over. “Hey Shaun, can I borrow your rheometer? Mines not working.”
“Sure, I'm not using it right now. Just have it back to me by tomorrow night,” Shaun replied, bending down to get the machine.
The boy smiled at Jane. “Hi, I'm Alchemical. I haven't seen you down here before.”
“I'm Jane, and I'm currently being a guinea pig for Shaun,” she said.
“That's great. Maybe you could help me out sometime. I have some skin creams that could fix up your pores, after they're tested to make sure they're safe, you can be in the trial run.”
The smile dropped from Jane's face. “I don't normally look like this. I'm a shifter, we're doing testing on oily skin,” she said.
Alchemical went beet red. “I'm so sorry. I wasn't thinking,” he squeaked.
“Smooth man. Very smooth,” Shaun said, putting something that looked like a futuristic coffee machine and foamer on the work table.
Deciding to be nice, Jane smiled again. “Don't worry about it. You were trying to be nice, and I'm not hung up on my looks, since I can change them in a few seconds. If you need a guinea pig, I'll try out anything that won't melt off my skin or turn it purple.”
Jane entered the tunnels and went straight to the workshop. She'd helped Shaun often enough that she knew exactly how to get there and was no longer considered an interloper by most of the students.
Before going to the main workshop, she stopped at a door that looked fairly thick and had an electronic lock. She was sure that wasn't the only security measure, this was the private workshop for Mobius, and from what she understood he had a good size fortune thanks to his products. She pressed the buzzer and waited.
It took a few minutes, but the pear shaped devisor finally opened the door. When he saw Jane he got a lecherous grin, and waved her into the crowded room. “How can I help you?” he asked, leaning against a desk covered in fabric, trying to look cool and collected.
She smiled at him, showing off a set of perfect teeth, and flipped a stray bang out of the way. “I need a tool belt with multiple pockets, that can carry a variety of tools. And I'm hoping I can get it in a week,”
Seeing him slowly looking her up and down, Jane arched her back a little, letting him get an eyeful of her breasts. Mobius asked, “What's your waist size?”
“I need it stretchy, so it can snuggly fit sizes from twenty inches to forty inches. That should be easy for someone as smart as you, right?”
He blushed a little. “Well, I can do that, of course. But I've got a few orders already, and I need to prepare for the weapons fair, and making it stretchy will take a while.”
Pouting, she walked over to him, swinging her hips. Placing a finger on his cheek, she got in close, letting him smell her perfume. “Isn't there something you can do? Money isn't an object, and I really, really, need this.” Her finger moved down his cheek, brushing his lips, moving past his chin to caress his neck
“Uh, these orders are pretty important. I-”
He stopped as she pressed her body up against him, her lips almost touching his. “You sell your belts for five thousand dollars right? I'll give you fifteen, as long as you have it ready by Friday.”
“OK,” he said, his voice cracking.
“Thank you,” she whispered in his ear, then gave him a peck on the cheek.
Leaving his workshop, she went to the next person on her list. The devisor and gadgeteer had her own private workshop, and the door had pretty pastel eggs painted on it. Knocking on the door, it was answered much more quickly by a well built blonde.
“Oh hey, Jane right? I heard about Shaun, I'm really sorry,” Bugs said.
“Thank you. Can I step inside, I need to talk to you?” Jane asked, smiling at the girl she highly suspected was gay, while playing with her hair.
“Yeah, sure. What do you need?”
“I'm feeling pretty scared after the attack. I'm hoping you could help me. I need two radio and cell phone scramblers, that can cover several hundred meters each. And what are some useful self defense devises or gadgets you have?”
Bugs blinked in surprise at her request. “Uh, let's see what I've got.”
Alchemical put a drop of his newest chemical creation on a strip of artificial flesh. The tissue, which was identical to what you'd find in the human sinuses, immediately began swelling. Looking at the sensors readout, they had increased in size by thirty percent. He grinned, that was just about where he wanted it. Getting this sprayed into the face would swell up the throat and sinuses enough to stop an attacker in their tracks without completely constricting the airflow.
Now if only he could get his safety testing moved up from December. Phase was interested in helping him market his stuff for self-defense and even crowd control, and he had been hoping to have more things to sell at the Weapons Fair, but it seemed like he'd just have a few chemical sprays ready. Still, he couldn't really blame the testing department for taking so long, he had over a dozen new chemicals sprays on the waiting list. Unlike a lot of the Workshop crew, he actually followed the proper testing procedures.
Maybe he should work on improving his spray dispensers for a bit, that would help clear up some of the backlog. Picking up his art pad, he let the mechanical part of his mind draw what it wanted.
“Al, I need your help,” Jane said, coming up behind him.
Jumping in surprise, ripping the paper which now had plans for an intricate spray system, he turned around “Yeah sure, Jane. I heard about the att-” he stumbled to a halt at seeing her eyes. They weren't the usual dark brown eyes that always seemed to be lost, they were sharper, and a brilliant blue. Looking into them, he would swear she was picturing him as an object she might have to destroy.
“Those personal protection chemicals you've been working on, I'm hoping I could buy them. I haven't felt safe since I was attacked” she said.
Her voice sounded sincere. It was the same soft voice she always had, and she sounded scared, but her eyes were wrong. He couldn't shake the feeling that she was staring at his throat. “Uh, I have the enhanced pepper spray ready, it's been tested and everything. But everything else still needs to go through the final bit of testing.”
She pouted. Actually her mouth and face pouted, her eyes flicked to the hotplate, then his hand. It was so fast he almost missed it, and then her focus was back on his throat. “I know they're safe. You're a genius when it comes to chemicals.”
Her voice was like silk. Were her breasts bigger than usual? He dragged his eyes away from her chest. Perfume, rose with a hint of cinnamon, filled his nose as she got closer, when had she started wearing perfume. Trying to back away he hit the worktable.
“Come on,” she said, running her hand through her hair, which was longer than usual, “You're my friend, aren't you?”
“Y-yeah. But if they find out I gave them to you, I could get in trouble. They haven't been tested.” He looked around for help, but the workshop was quiet, the few other people deep in their own projects, ignoring them.
“What if I promise no one will find out? You know me, I'm not exactly a trouble magnet. And if I use them against an attacker while I'm outside of school, who will complain?” she asked. Her voice was soft and pleading, causing blood to rush to his face and other parts of his body. “I just want to feel safe. Don't you want to help me?”
Al wanted to say yes just to get out of the situation. He didn't know what was going on or why it was happening, but he had to follow the rules. “I can't help you.”
“How much money will it take to change your mind? I know you could always use some more.” She moved in closer, her hand brushed his arm. Her piercing blue eyes filled his vision.
Closing his eyes, he wrenched his head to the side. “I'm sorry. No.”
He heard her sigh, then her hands were on his shoulders, running down his arms. “Maybe something else?” she whispered, taking his hand in hers.
Keeping his eyes shut, she lifted his hand up, and then he was touching something large and soft. He gasped, trying to jerk away, her grip was like iron.
“I can be anyone you want. Do anything you want,” she whispered, her lips brushing his ear. She moved his hand so it caressed her body, finally placing it on her hip, her chest pressed into his. “I just want a little thing, they'll never know you gave them to me.”
“Two thousand dollars!”
“Two thousand dollars and they're yours. Just go away and calm down,” he said.
His hand dropped as she pulled away. “OK, I'll pick them up on Friday. And make sure they're in your special spray bottles. I'll transfer you the money tonight,” she said, in something like her normal voice.
Keeping his eyes closed, he listened to her walk away. When he was sure she was gone, he opened his eyes and started cleaning up. He wanted to get back to his cottage and be around lots of people as soon as possible.
Walking along the meandering stone path, well away from the main part of the campus, Jane allowed herself to stop thinking or caring about the world. Finding peace in the silence that surrounded her. She didn't have to pretend to be anyone here. People weren't watching her. She could just drift without a care in the world.
A twig snapped.
Her eyes went to the source of the sound, a very large, well built teenager stepped out from behind some trees. From the way he was looking at her and moving to fill the middle of the path, it was obvious that he wanted to annoy her. Her hand instinctively reached for a knife, only to remember she didn't do that anymore, she hadn't for over two years and she wasn't going to start again.
Instead she came to a stop in front of him. “Can I help you?” she asked, falling back on politeness until she knew how to act.
“I'm Thud, what's your name?”
She held back a sigh at the choice of codenames. “Hello Thud, I'm Jane.”
“How about you walk with me for a while? We can get to know each other, it'll be fun,” he said, his grin far too close to a leer for her liking.
“No thank you,” she replied.
“What, you think you're too good for me?”
“No. I just prefer to be alone.”
He stepped towards her, she stepped back trying to keep him out of her personal space. “How about your number? I can take you out for dinner.”
“No thank you.”
His leer turned to a grimace. “What's wrong with you? You a lesbian or something?”
“If I say yes, will that make you go away?” she asked.
He pushed her hard in the chest. She probably could have dodged it, but that would likely lead to a fight, the very last thing she wanted. Instead she moved with it, taking most of the force out of the blow. Falling to the ground, she twisted around, making sure she hit the soft grass rather than the tightly packed stones. She used her hands to safely roll until coming to a stop in a kneeling position, a little dirty, but unhurt.
“Feel better?” she asked, her voice flat and free of emotion.
Thud's face twisted up, probably confused at her lack of reaction. “Fucking dyke. Are you trying to make fun of me?”
Once more he moved in, looming over her. She got to her feet looking up at him, bored and little annoyed at the situation. He had the size to be intimidating, but he didn't know how to use it. He was barely even an amateur, just incompetent.
He slapped her.
Again Jane could have dodged it, but that would just draw things out. As his hand hit her cheek she moved her head just fast enough to avoid the full force of it. It still stung, the idiot was clearly a brick. She tasted a bit of blood from her cheek hitting her teeth.
“Feel better now?” she asked again.
“Crazy, fucking bitch,” he said, staring down at her like she was some strange bug. Pushing past, he walked away completely ignoring her.
Taking a moment, Jane shifted, spreading out the bruise, lessening the pain and ensuring there wouldn't be a bruise. That hadn't gone well, but it could have been a lot worse. Hopefully he'd ignore her in the future.
Evening, November 14th
Thud wandered down the snowy path, enjoying the cool air that reminded him of home. It was too bad his friends didn't like the cold like he did, they didn't know what they were missing. He perked up as he saw movement through the trees. He couldn't tell who it was, but it would probably be interesting.
“Oh it's her,” he muttered, seeing Jane, the weird lesbian who seemed to like getting beat up, jogging down the path. He didn't see her very often, she wasn't much fun, so he didn't go out of his way to find her. But whenever he caught her alone, he tried to make her react. Slaps, kicks, punches, nothing worked, she just looked at him like he was a bug, never even sounding upset and never going to security.
Maybe he could rip her coat off and throw her in the snow. Let her freeze a little until she reacted. She was a frigid bitch, she might even like it.
“Hey Jane,” he growled as she came up to him. That was another weird thing, she never tried to avoid him. If she saw him, she just kept doing whatever she was doing without a care in the world.
The girl came to a stop and looked up at him. Something was off, she seemed to be more focused, and her eyes were blue not brown. It didn't matter, he'd heard she was a shifter, her eye colour didn't change anything. He reached out to grab her coat.
What happened next was too quick for him to follow.
Thud felt her grab his arm and she seemed to flow over him. He yelled in surprise as she somehow got on his back, wrapping an arm around his throat and her legs around his waist. Then all his attention was focused on the tip of a knife that was less than an inch from his eyeball.
“I know you're a brick Thud, but are your eyes knife proof?” Jane asked, her breath tickling his ear. “I really want to find out, how about you?”
Fear made it hard to breathe and he didn't dare move, he had no idea if the knife would hurt him or not, and he did not want to find out. This didn't sound like the Jane he knew. He'd heard ragers talking trash, he'd listened to Bloodwolf as the freak made himself sound tough and violent. They weren't as frightening as Jane was at that moment. She sounded like a cheerful little kid about to rip the wings off of a fly or holding a big rock over a puppy.
“Please, put the knife down,” he whispered.
“What's wrong? I thought you liked playing like this, Thud. You like hurting people, but you don't want to risk getting hurt yourself. You're a coward aren't you?”
The knife moved, he could feel the cold steel on his eye. “Yeah. I'm a coward,” he said, desperately trying not blink.
“If you want to be a big, tough guy, you have to learn to accept the pain. Welcome it like it's an old friend. It's how you know you're alive and breathing. You can't go running and crying to mommy when things get rough,” she said. “What would you do if I popped your eyeball like a grape right now?”
He tried to speak, nothing came out. Tears started falling.
“Come on now, don't cry,” the girl said mockingly. “You're supposed to be a tough guy. I could pluck out both your eyes and Doyle would heal you right up, good as new. It would be a good experience for you, learning how to accept the pain.”
Thud realized that for the first time ever he was hearing true emotion in Jane's voice. She wanted to hurt him. She thought this was funny. What type of psycho had he been dealing with?
“You could kill me,” she said, giggling. “You're a brick, I'm just a shifter. You could grab my arm, break it before I take out your eye. Then I'd be helpless and you could do anything you want to me. Play with me as much as you like. Make me hurt. Do it slow and really make me scream. But I'm fast. I bet I could pop your eye before you stop me. And who knows, maybe I could get my knife into your brain. Give it a bit of a stir. Instant lobotomy. Do you think they could heal that?”
A wet patch formed in his pants. He needed to blink so badly, but the knife was still there. “Please. I don't wanna die,” he whispered.
“You're pathetic. Weak. Cowardly. Useless,” Jane said, her voice dripping with contempt. “If you aren't willing to risk everything, don't play the fucking game.”
Trying to remain perfectly still, he sobbed, “I won't play anymore.”
“I'm going to get off now. You can try to take me, but there won't be another friendly warning like this. We play for keeps or we don't play at all. Got it?”
She slid off his back, skipping backwards a few feet. Slowly he turned around, through his tears he saw Jane was grinning at him, expertly holding the knife. Her blue eyes were lit up like it was Christmas. “Are you sure you don't want to play? It'll be fun, and you have the advantage now.”
Spinning on his heels, Thud ran away as fast as he could. He didn't care if people saw him crying and covered in piss, he had badly misjudged the girl and he realized he was lucky to get away without losing an eye. He wasn't going to risk his life again.
The Dickinson bathroom was deserted. The girls who went to bed early had already come through, the ones who waited until lights out weren't quite ready to do their nightly routine. Jane stared at herself in the mirror, still damp from her shower, trying not to claw off her skin. It was too tight, too itchy.
“Pull it together, Jane,” she whispered to herself. “You have a job to do, but it's one job. Don't start slipping.”
Unthinkingly her hand curled into a fist. It was getting hard to think, she needed a release. Raising her arm, she stared at the face in the mirror. It wasn't hers. Punching it, making it bleed, it would help. Maybe she'd finally stop itching.
A pair of girls stepped into the bathroom.
Dropping her arm, she grabbed her toothbrush, trying to act normally. By the time the girls left, Jane was rubbing some moisturizer onto her skin, silently begging them to leave.
Alone again, she looked in the mirror once more.
“Get this through your fucking head,” she said, practically growling, “I'm Just Me, Jane Fisher. I'm fourteen years old. I'm a mutant at Whateley. I'm in the system. I'm going to graduate and go to a small college. I will do what I have to, but I'm going to live a peaceful, normal life afterwards.”
Concentrating on her eyes, she made them brown again.
Satisfied, she headed for bed.
October 28th, 2007
Amber blew her nose for the fifth time in twenty minutes. Looking up from her homework, Jane turned to her friend. “Something wrong?” she asked.
“It's nothing,” Amber said, sitting up on her bed, swiping at her red eyes.
“You haven't smiled all day,” Jane said. “Something is clearly wrong. You want to tell me about it?”
Amber bit her lip, clearly trying to decide if she should admit what was bothering her. “It's close to Halloween. Back home before everything went bad, it was a big event for my family. We'd set up the coolest decorations around the arcade, and dress up in costumes. The laser tag area would become a haunted maze where you shot monsters. It was really fun. And now I'm all alone, going to a school dance.”
Not sure what to say, she went with the tried and true, “I'm really sorry. Is there anything I can do to help?”
“You remember how you offered a hug if I ever needed it?” Amber asked. “I think I need it.”
Hesitantly, not used to hugging a teen girl, Jane sat down on the bed and put her arms lightly around her friend. Amber didn't hesitate, wrapping her arms around Jane hard enough to hurt.
Cautiously, not sure if it was the right thing to do, Jane hugged the tiny girl a little harder, patting her on the back. Tears started to soak her shirt.
This is what a friend does, she thought to herself. She could do this for her friend, no matter how weird it felt or how wet she got.
“Hey Shaun,” Jane said, smiling down at her friend.
He looked terrible, the bruises were mostly gone, but his limbs were still in splints, an IV was stuck in his arm, he was pale and thinner than before. Considering how badly he'd been beaten, the fact he was conscious and talking was a miracle.
“Hi,” he said, his voice weak.
“How are you feeling?” she asked.
“Like I was beaten to a pulp. Do they know who did it?”
She shook her head. “If they do, they haven't told me.”
“Where is everyone else?”
“You're only allowed one visitor at a time, and only for a few minutes. So I got the first three minutes, Cooper will come in after me for the other three. We had to a beg them to get this much time. We'll be able to come for a bit longer and as a group tomorrow. You want anything?”
“A new body,” he said, wincing in pain.
Grinning, she pretended to write it down. “I'll see what I can do. Maybe we can get you a better looking face along with it.”
“Muscles would be nice too. And taller.” He smiled for a moment then got serious. “How are you?”
“Had a concussion. I had to stay overnight to make sure it wasn't serious. Don't worry about me, I've had worse.”
Grimacing, he closed his eyes. “You stabbed one of them.”
Jane nodded. “Yeah. He was a lot bigger than me, I didn't think a punch would work very well.”
“Did they tell you why they attacked us?”
She shook her head. “I listened in a little, but didn't hear much.”
“They think my dad is some criminal. Don't know why. He died. I've been to his grave.”
Placing her hand on his, she shushed him. “Don't worry about it. They must have gotten bad information. I'm sure Whateley is going to deal with it. I've gotta go now so Cooper can talk to you. I think he wants to take over your half of the dorm so say no to everything.”
Shaun started to chuckle, then groaned and curled up a little in pain.
“Get some sleep, we'll come by tomorrow when you feel better,” she told him as she headed for the door.
Cooper slid past her into the room, eager to see his friend and roommate. Amber and Aella were standing by the door looking worried.
“How is he?” Amber asked.
“In pain,” Jane snarl.
Her friend was about to ask something else, then stopped, her mouth open. “Jane...” Amber whispered, “are you OK?”
“I'm fine. Just angry.”
Amber's face had gone pasty white. “You l-look like my parents did, the last time I saw them.”
Aella put her hand on Amber's shoulder, pulling the unresisting tiny girl back a little while moving in front of her. “You look like you're about to kill someone.”
“I-” She stopped talking, turning away from her friends. “Sorry, this is getting to me. I need to get some air.”
“D-do you need anything?” her roommate asked.
“I need to be alone.”
Walking out of Doyle, she unthinkingly flexed her hand. She needed a knife.
Jane sat in the small Dunwich cafe that was popular with students who wanted to study off campus. Since it was Thursday not many people were in it, just some seniors and a young couple sharing a piece of a cake. Sitting on a couch off in the corner, she was being completely ignored.
Imp had given her the necessary information that afternoon. It had everything she needed, most importantly Mr. Fusco's location. She didn't know how long it would be good for, so now she was on the clock. She hated rushing things, but there was no choice. She had to make an example of Fusco and throw the attention off of Shaun as soon as possible.
Using a phone she'd stolen during class earlier that day, she was busy remembering old contacts, bank accounts and other information. She couldn't risk anyone finding out what she'd done, so her own laptop and new phone were right out.
Currently she was on the dark net, talking with a contractor Mille had known and frequently worked with.
'What do you need?' the contact asked.
She started typing. 'Cover for a girl to disappear for a few days. Canadian government, foster care, fourteen year old girl named Jane Fisher, originally from Nova Scotia, now at Whateley. Set something up to see a potential family member in Canada. Will need a government minder to pick her up from Whateley, travel with her to the airport, and the return to Whateley, also deal with any phone calls from Whateley.'
'We do not piss off Whateley. Is she willing to go and is she going to be unharmed?'
'She's willing. She has business that Whateley can't know about.'
'We will want a video of her saying she agrees to it while on Whateley campus.'
'When do you need it?'
'This Monday. Not sure how long it will take, no more than five days, maybe only two.'
'A rush job is going to cost you.'
She smirked. Mille's investments had mostly done very well since his death, and he hadn't spent his large fortune on much except new ID's, healing himself and some devises. She had access to enough money to make the Golden Kids interested. She typed, 'I can afford it.'
It took a bit more time working out the details and sending the information on her government file. Tomorrow afternoon Whateley would get a phone call telling them that they needed Jane Foster to fly back to Canada to see if they had located a potential grandparent, who couldn't fly to Whateley due to health reasons.
She sent them a down payment, which would pay for a very nice new car, and mentally checked off the most important task for the night. Now it was time to go shopping.
The first site she tried was shut down, as was the second. Mille had been out of the game for too long, his info was out of date, and she was starting to get annoyed. Luckily her third try worked.
The site sold weapons, drugs, poisons, body armour, everything she could need. The Whateley Weapons Fair was starting on the weekend she could get weapons and armour there, but poisons and drugs were something special. For some reason carrying around an anti-tank gun was fine on campus, but poison tended to get the side eye.
This job wouldn't be subtle, it couldn't be. She had to get in, hit hard, be brutal and get out. It was the surest way to succeed, survive and send her message. She ordered the basic smoke bombs, flash bombs, a claymore mine, and several pistols. Whateley probably wouldn't have anything as basic as those, and she trusted the old tried and true. Next up were several poisons with injectors, all things Mille had worked with in the past. She also got a special case that could slide into a suitcase and make anything inside of it look like normal clothes and items to airport x-ray machines and scanners. She was tempted to buy some of the armoured clothes, but it would limit her shapeshifting. Better to pick up a PFG at the Weapons Fair.
Satisfied with her selection, she spent extra to have them teleported the next day after class.
Finally she used an old ID of Mille's, one of several dozen that hadn't been burned, to rent a hotel room in Philadelphia. Then she contacted a person who Mille had hired to hold useful documents and ID's, and left a message with the proper codes, telling him to send the drivers license, passport, and birth certificate, to her at Whateley by special courier.
The person didn't know who Mille was, and the ID had never been used by Mille. So it was clean and ready to use. The drivers license was set to expire in 2008, she could even use it to rent a car which would make her life easier.
Removing the sim card, she sliced it into tiny pieces and left the cafe. The remains of the sim card were casually dropped into a storm drain, and the phone went into a garbage can. Now all she had to do was wait for her items, do some last minute shopping at the Weapons Fair, and study the files on Mr. Fusco.
Then she'd have to murder and maim at least a dozen people.
The large room holding the Weapons Fair wasn't very full yet. It was still early, some of the students were still setting up their displays. It still had people wandering around, looking to beat the crowd, or wanted a bit of privacy when they bought their weapons.
Jane was one of them. She didn't look like herself, having long peroxide blonde hair, being an inch taller, wearing black tights under a black mini-skirt, a white t-shirt that was almost too tight for her breasts, and a leather jacket. She got some odd looks, but they didn't go beyond that. Anyone here was granted a certain amount of anonymity, since only those in the know would be at the fair.
Stopping at one table, she looked at the collection of bladed weapons. Most were junk, badly balanced, overly ornate, relying on gimmicks, like lasers, vibrating blades that could cut through metal, a freezing devise, and other things. Mille would have sneered at them all and purposefully started a fight with the freshman.
There was one knife on the table that caught her eye. It was simple, the hilt was a little large for the narrow blade, but it was well made. Picking it up, she found the balance was decent, the grain of the metal looked good. There were two tiny holes on the hilt, on both side of the blade. “What's this do?” she asked.
“It's a plasma knife. One of my early designs. Flick the switch on the guard, and it will light up. Just don't have your hand on the blade, it will cook,” the kid said.
She found the switch and hit it. A faint purple aura surrounded the blade, the hilt stayed cool. When she put her hand close to the blade she felt the intense heat radiating off of it from several inches away. “How long does it last?”
“Five minutes, then you need to switch the cell. You can recharge them in a regular wall socket in a few hours.”
“How many cells do you have for it?”
He sneered. “You really want it? My other blades are much cooler, freezing blades to turn your opponent to ice. Plasma swords that are better than light sabres. Laser blades that will light your enemies up. You don't want that one, trust me.”
“I want this one and every cell it has. How much?” she said, keeping her voice even.
“For you, four hundred,” he said, putting four small cylinders onto the table. “But I'm telling you that is junk compared to what I'm making now.”
She put four bills on the table, scooped up her purchase, and allowed her contempt to show. “This was the only good thing you have. Everything else on this table is junk a mall ninja would buy trying to look cool. Professionals want simple, effective and deadly, not shit to hang on the walls and play with on the net.”
Walking away, she heard him call her several nasty names.
A table with some drones caught her eye. That could be useful.
November 19th, 2007
Emily Bogart made her way through the crowded airport dragging her suitcase and carry-on behind her. No one paid the willowy woman in a fairly basic blue pantsuit much attention. She was just one of many business travellers trying to get in some last minute work before the Thanksgiving holiday. Passing by an airport cop, she kept the same tired expression, making sure she didn't stick out.
The last thing she wanted was someone looking through her bags and finding the PFG, four pistols, claymore mine, several bombs, knives and the amazing amount of highly illegal poisons and exotic self-defence sprays that were concealed under her neatly packed underwear.
As Jane Fisher, she and her 'government minder' had made it out of Whateley to the Berlin airport that morning, flown to Toronto, and gotten a connecting flight to Winnipeg, where they'd parted ways. Then Emily Bogart had gotten an economy class flight to Philadelphia, once more passing through Toronto. It would be embarrassing and annoying to have everything fail as she went to get her rental car.
Reaching her basic rental car, she took a moment to remember how to drive. She hadn't driven anything other than a bike in over two years, and relearning in a major city was not ideal. However she couldn't exactly do her job using a taxi. Mentally going through the motions, she felt confident enough to turn the car on and head for her hotel.
An hour later, silently cursing the idiot drivers and congested streets, she reached her hotel. Ten minutes after that she was in her room, the door was locked and she was going over the information she had on Mr. Fusco for the twentieth time.
She had a basic plan of action. It was brutal, it was cruel, and it would let the world know what happened when they tried to resurrect a monster.
It was close to midnight when Jane called it a night. She'd gone over every realistic possibility, memorized her plan and back up plans, and fine tuned her Gone to Hell Plan, which was basically a kamikaze run at Mr. Fusco.
Hitting the shower, she didn't notice her hands were shaking.
November 20th, 2007
Jane stood by the bus stop, listening to two teen girls talk. They didn't pay any attention to her of course, she was just an old woman in a long blue coat waiting for the bus. They walked past people like her everyday, never really noticing them.
Jane however was paying very close attention to them. Enviously seeing how they were so happy, genuinely smiling as they discussed their classmates, what they were planning for Thanksgiving, a cute girl they'd seen the other day. She paid particular attention to the one with the short haircut, watching her movements, learning how she clicked her teeth when she spoke.
When the girls got on the bus, she put in a set of ear buds and hit play on her recorder, listening to the girls speaking again and again. Slowly, as if walking hurt, she made her way down the street, repeating the words of the short haired girl, miming her actions, confident that if anyone saw her they'd ignore the odd actions of a senior citizen.
Her voice slowly began to sound more like the girl, right down to the clicking of the teeth. From the corner of her eye, she watched a woman pull out of a driveway, heading for work right on time. A man stood in the window on the second floor, it was his home office, where he did all his accounting work.
The man was Henry Moyer, his employer was Mr. Fusco. He and his employer only talked to each other by phone and email. No one was supposed to know he was the head accountant of Mr. Fusco's empire. Less important people had their names on the paperwork, but Henry Moyer knew where everything was and how to move it around.
How The Imp had gotten the information on Mr. Moyer, Jane had no idea. But it was good enough that she was very tempted to buy The Imp a very nice Christmas present, anonymously of course.
Passing the house, she walked half a block, looking for a house that looked empty. Finding one, she went up the side of the house, just out of sight of the street and shifted. Taking off the coat, she turned it inside out revealing a bright red coat with a fur trim, and put it back on. While she did that, she shifted to look like Mr. Moyer's daughter.
Heading back to the sidewalk, she made her way to Mr. Moyer's house. He was no longer in the window, so she took off her coat, throwing it out of sight behind some bushes. Making herself look scared, she began to hammer on the door and rang the doorbell.
“Carrie what are you doing home? You should be at school,” Mr. Moyer said through a speaker.
“A guy tried to grab me! Let me in please!” she shouted, making sure to click her teeth as she sounded exactly like his daughter.
The door lock clicked and she rushed inside. Mr. Moyer came charging down the stairs holding a pistol in his right hand and a cell phone in his left.
“Are you OK?” he demanded, peering out the window.
“Yeah. He got my coat and bag, but I got away from him,” she said.
Turning to look at her, the relief on his face was replaced by confusion and pain as she sprayed him with Alchemicals improved pepper spray. He yelled in pain, twisting to protect his face. Jane slipped a knife out of her sleeve and sliced his hand, making him drop the gun. A kick to the knee sent him to the ground. As she brought her foot down, she hit the gun making it slide behind her.
Backing up, she picked up the gun pointing it at Mr. Moyer. Pulling a small spray bottle from her belt, she threw it at him, bouncing it off his hand. Still sounding like his daughter, she said, “Hey dad, drop the phone, and spray that bottle in your eyes. You'll feel better. Then we need to talk.”
He did what she said, and a minute later he was able to look at her with swollen, blood shot eyes. “You're not Carrie,” he said.
“Nope, she's on the bus going to school. But you've got a beautiful daughter, so I think I'll keep the face,” Jane said, still talking like Carrie.
“You're Mille, you're here to kill me,” he said.
Jane was impressed, the guy looked scared, but he wasn't blubbering, trying to be brave, making threats or trying to make a deal. It looked like he had accepted his fate.
“I'm not Mille, he's dead. But he did leave me a large amount of money to deal with anyone stupid enough to go after his supposed family,” Jane said.
“Can you do it up in my office? I don't want Carrie to see me when she comes home. She never comes into my office, only my wife does,”
She liked this guy, even Mille had respected people who accepted their fate with dignity. “I have some leeway. If you do what I say, I can be merciful. Let's go to your office.”
There was a glimmer of hope in his eyes. Keeping his hands spread and away from his body, he led her upstairs and into a very nice office. Taking a seat, he looked up at her.
“How much of Fusco's money can you transfer to a private account right now?” she asked.
“Nothing,” he said. “After what Mille did to him, transferring funds is not quick or easy. When he put his plan into action, he put some of the strongest security possible in place to protect his funds. I need him on the phone giving voice authorization and a code that I don't even know to make any transfers, sell or buy stocks, or do anything other than ensure regular planned expenses go through, and get an update on his finances.”
“Well there goes my bonus,” she muttered. “You'd better hope you can answer this next question or I'll put your corpse on Carrie's bed. Where is Mr. Fusco now and what does he have prepared for me.”
Mr. Moyer started to sweat at her threat. “He's at his main estate. It's a fortress. I've never been there, I was supposed to be the silent expert. My protection came from not being associated with him. I can tell you there are thirty armed guards. They're being paid double this month, so I think it means they're all staying at the estate day and night. They're all heavily armed, military grade weapons and body armour. There were purchases over the summer for top of the line electronic locks, cameras, reinforced doors and windows, and devises. There is something else, I don't know exactly who or what it is, but its costing fifty-thousand a week and it started last Saturday.”
He motioned to his computer. “I know I can't tell you much, but I have the invoices for everything. Let me pull it up and you can look it over.”
She watched as he opened up the files.
“Is there anything else you need?” he asked. The redness and puffiness had left his eyes, only the cut on his hand and the sweat dripping down his face ruined the image of him being a normal businessman.
“No, you've done enough,” she said, patting his shoulder.
He winced as the needle hidden between her fingers pierced his skin. A moment later he gasped, reaching for his chest.
Still wearing his daughters face, she stroked his cheek and looked him in the eye. “I'm sorry about this. I'll make sure it looks like a heart attack.”
Mr. Moyer tried to reach for her. Jane didn't know if he wanted to hold her or hit her. She put her hand on his, pushing it down to his lap, he didn't have the strength to fight back. “Just let go,” she whispered. “This is the only mercy I can give you.”
The light left his eyes, his body slumped down in the chair.
Easing past him, she went over the invoices, matching it to the information she already had. There were a few interesting bits in it. But the most important thing was a mystery. What was Damocles and why was it worth fifty-thousand a week.
After a quick search for any other useful info on the computer, she shut everything down. Then she tidied things up, washing his cut hand and putting a large band-aid on it so it looked like he'd cut himself earlier. The gun went back in its hiding spot under his desk. A few minutes of work saw the blood and pepper spray cleaned up downstairs.
Leaving the house, a cursory look wouldn't reveal anything out of the ordinary. Examining the body would show he'd had a heart attack that morning, there would be no reason to do an in depth examination that could reveal the murder. It was a tragedy that no one could have seen coming. She hoped his life insurance was paid up.
Rick sat in the guard shack wondering when things would go back to normal. His employer Mr. Fusco paid top dollar for his experience, and had doubled it for the month, but being on high alert for over a week with no chance to even go home was wearing him down.
His partners seemed to feel the same way. Jake, who was watching the monitors beside him, kept grumbling under his breath. And Jerome who was stuck outside in the cold for the next half hour was angrily stomping his feet to stay warm. Soon enough it would be Rick's turn to go outside and freeze his ass off.
He still wasn't sure how they were supposed to deal with a shapeshifter who could look like anyone. For all he knew Jake was a fake, and as soon as they went inside the house, Mr. Fusco would get a bullet in the brain.
He shook his head. The boss had a hard on for a dead guy. He'd read up on the late, great Mille, a scary dude when he was alive, but he was dead. And the guy was an assassin who hit places that weren't prepared for him. Coming at this place would be nuts. A week or two more of this and things would go back to normal.
A car turned into the driveway.
“Got a car, one occupant, young woman. Stopping her at the gate,” Jake said into his mic.
Jerome drew his pistol, keeping it pointed at the ground, but clearly ready to shoot at the first sign of trouble. Rick drew his own gun and stepped outside, alert for potential snipers and threats.
The woman, girl would be more accurate, since she looked like she might be eighteen, looked nervous, but drove up to the gate. She had a bright pink winter coat on that was unzipped revealing a lot of cleavage with a white button up blouse, too much makeup, blonde hair done up in a ponytail, and looking into the car she was wearing a plaid skirt and long black stockings. She looked like a stereotypical hot catholic schoolgirl ready for a good time.
“Name and business?” Jerome ordered as soon as the window was rolled down.
“Tiffany Sparkles, I got a call to spend some quality time with a Mr. Fusco. Am I in trouble?” the girl asked, her airy voice squeaked as she looked at the heavily armed men on either side of the car.
Jake who was listening to their every word, passed the information to the security office. Richard began scanning the street, this was clearly some type of set up.
Orders came through his ear bud. “Get her in the shack and question her. Be ready to execute if she's a threat.”
“Tiffany, step out of the vehicle, we want to ask you a few questions,” Jerome said.
“I think I might have come to the wrong place. I'll just go. Really, really sorry,” the girl said.
Jerome raised his pistol. “I'm going to have to insist,” he said.
Richard watched from the corner of his eye, he really didn't like this. His asshole was puckering, and the little voice in the back of his mind was telling him something was about to explode or he was going to get a bullet to the brain.
Still insisting this was a mistake, Tiffany got out of the car, keeping her hands raised while holding a tiny purse, and awkwardly made her way across the slippery snow-covered pavement in stripper heels. He followed her inside, his pistol aimed at her back, leaving Jerome out in the cold.
“Guys, I'm just a college student, trying to make a few bucks,” Tiffany said, looking like she was about to cry. “My agency got a call and told me to get my ass over here for a big customer, five star porn star experience. If I got the wrong address or it was a prank call, I'm sorry. I can get back in my car and tell my agency it was a misunderstanding. I haven't seen anything and I don't know anything.”
“What agency do you work with?” Jake demanded.
“Venus Dolls. I have my business card in my purse, you can call them.”
Jake yanked her purse none too gently from her hand. Richard tensed, if something was about to go wrong it would likely be now, he got ready to shoot an eighteen year old right between the shoulders.
“Careful, I've got some jewellery in there,” Tiffany said, while Jake opened the purse.
“Damn! How sharp is that fucking ring?” Jake said. Wincing he pulled out a ring with a nice stone on it.
“It was cheap and looks good. Some guys like to pretend they're seducing a married woman.”
Dumping the purse onto the desk, Jake grabbed the ID which would be the easiest way to find out if she was legit. Richard eased up slightly, he still had a bad feeling about things, but the girl wasn't putting up any resistance.
He was so focused on the girl, that he didn't notice blood dripping from Jake's nose until he heard something dripping on the floor. His partners face was a dark red and so swollen, Richard thought it was a tomato for one bewildered moment. Vomit filled his mouth as blood erupted from his partners eyes, ears and nose.
The girl seeing him distracted moved with blinding speed. A silvery blue object appeared in her hand as she spun. His training kicked in allowing him to get off a single shot that caught her in the shoulder. Something shimmered over top her clothes, and she kept moving seemingly unharmed.
She grabbed his pistol, somehow ripping it out of his hand like he was a child. At the same time something tugged at his throat.
Jerome was shouting something into his mic.
Richard took a step towards the girl, planning on tackling her. His foot gave out under him, sending him to his knees. His chest was soaking wet.
He heard gunshots and Jerome stopped talking.
Feeling his chest, his hand came away covered in blood. Reaching up his fingers felt a crispy hole in his throat. He couldn't feel anything from his neck.
Black dots appeared in his eyes. He could barely make out the girl trying to open the gate. Dimly he realized that the gate had been locked from the security room, it couldn't be opened anymore from the shack.
Time seemed to slow as he watched her leave the shack. He tried to close the wound in his throat with his hands. He fell forwards, the floor rose up to meet him. An explosion came from outside as he hit the floor. Everything started to grow dark. He heard the screech of tires and the roar of an engine, then he didn't hear anything ever again.
A drone, carefully concealed in some bushes well away from the Fusco estate, received its activation code, waking it up.
The AI that controlled it flew up into the sky, thrilled at being able to fly. Tiny jets blasted it towards the play area. It was going to see people and play with them.
It passed by several people and cars, it wanted to have them join the coming game, but they weren't in the right area. Sadly it had to leave them behind, it could only play with people in the proper field.
An electrical surge let it know it was in the right area. It's taggers powered up and it could begin the first game, tag.
It saw several playmates running through the snow, two humans and four dogs. The humans had their own taggers, so they had to be tagged first.
Targeting the humans who were side by side, the drones tagger roared, knocking the humans into the snow. It felt a surge of euphoria at the successful tags. The dogs were even easier to catch, each one only taking two seconds to target and tag.
It did a barrel roll in celebration at winning the first game.
Now it was time to play hide and seek.
Scanning the windows at the back of the house, it looked for any hiders. It saw one peering through a window and tried to tag it, but the glass was too tough. The hider disappeared, and the drone felt its euphoria fade a little. It had to get the next one, or it would start to feel sad, and it didn't want to feel sad.
Another hider appeared in a window. The hider thought it was being sneaky, peeking through a curtain. The drone switched from its tagger to its boomer and let it go. The boomer rocketed through the air leaving a pretty trail of fire and smoke behind it. It hit the window and made pretty fireworks. When the smoke cleared, the drone silently cheered at the big hole it had left. The euphoria came back.
It tagged another two hiders, but missed the last one.
With no more boomers, and no one else to play with, the drone knew it was time to stop playing. It dropped two little packages at either end of the house, like it was supposed to. Then it spotted the back door of the house and raced towards it. Electrical currents ran through its brain making it so happy it went much faster than it should, wanting to end the game and take a nap.
It hit the heavy metal door at several hundred miles an hour and exploded in an orgy of high explosives and jet fuel. It had never been happier.
The car screeched to a stop just in front of the entrance to the house. Seemingly empty handed, she dove out the car and into a hail of bullets that came from the house. Her PFG shimmered as she was hit at least a dozen times running towards the building. She pressed herself against the wall, getting some protection from the bad angle.
Explosions from the back of the house made her smile. Her drone was keeping at least some of Fusco's men busy, and explained why she didn't have every single surviving guard shooting at her. She had a very narrow window to get inside.
She'd ditched the heels in favour of durable hiking shoes, but was still wearing her slutty Catholic school outfit. It wouldn't be the first time she'd committed murder in something inappropriate, she just wished it was a little warmer.
Digging into her Mobius belt, she pulled out a block of plastic explosives that was already hooked up and ready to go, along with a small remote. Getting to her feet, she ran to the nearest window, which she could just reach the bottom of by jumping. She slapped the explosives to it and kept running, coming to a stop about ten feet away.
Hitting the remote, the explosives blew up, shattering the window and a large part of the frame. Running back to the now open window, she tossed a smoke grenade inside. Jumping up she grabbed the window frame, splinters and pieces of the armoured glass slashed her hands and arms despite her gloves. She accepted the pain and climbed inside.
At least one guard had reached the room and was firing blind into the smoke, forcing Jane to throw herself to the floor.
Staying low she scrambled towards the shooter, pulling her plasma knife from the sheath on her forearm as she did. The smoke covered her approach, and she threw herself the last five feet, activating the plasma blade at the last second. Aiming the blade at his waist, avoiding the metal plates, the kevra armour melted under the heat. He shrieked in agony as the blade plunged into him, cooking him from the inside.
Yanking the blade up and out, she didn't bother to ensure he was dead, he was so badly maimed he wouldn't be a threat or live more than a few minutes. There wasn't time to mess around, she had to move, relying on sheer speed and brutality.
The house shook from a large explosion at the back. Her drone had done its job.
Throwing a flash bang into the hallway, she ran out the door a second after it went off. Her pistol roared, hitting two guards, one in the chest where it bounced off harmlessly, the other one went down clutching his unprotected neck.
Cursing herself, knowing that Mille could have dropped both men with a single bullet each, she fired a second shot into the survivors head. Another bullet was wasted double tapping the man with the neck wound.
The delay gave the other guards enough time to arrive. Bullets hit her PFG, each one draining it of a little more power. Firing blindly at the newcomers, Jane raced away from them. Picturing the layout of the house, she headed for the kitchen.
Deep under the house, Cora watched the chaos that was going on upstairs through her cybernetic eye that was connected to the security system. The radios had gone out early in the attack, leading to confusion among the guards, and making it harder to follow the fight thanks to the excessive use of smoke bombs. The house shook as the kitchen exploded from a gas explosion, taking out several cameras and at least four guards. The assassin and her drone had killed or incapacitated fifteen guards in a matter of minutes.
Extending the blade from her arm, she began sharpening it. It was already sharper than any ordinary blade, but the action soothed her. Since the operation that had made her so much more than human, she found her mind needed little rituals like this to keep from getting annoyed with those who were beneath her. In this case it was her current employer.
When she'd accepted the deal to go under the knife, they hadn't told her about the nagging thoughts and feelings. She'd just been told she'd get a prototype surgery that would fix her back and make her better than ever. Having spent two years on her back after the accident in the sandbox, she'd signed the papers before they'd finished talking.
Despite the rituals and the feelings, it had been well worth it. She was better than any human now, without turning into a genetic freak of nature.
Her employers right hand man, she never bothered learning his name, was speaking. He'd been speaking since the attack began and it didn't sound like he was going to shut up anytime soon. “Mr. Fusco, we really should contact the police. Mille is cutting through our men like they're butter. We need support.”
“How will you do that? The phones are jammed! And if the police come Mille will just use the confusion to get away. He dies today or I die!” her employer shouted.
Shaking her head, Cora was tempted to turn off her audio receivers. Mathew Fusco was irrational, she could hear his rapid pulse from across the room. Judging by his dilated pupils, the flecks of spit coming from his mouth as he snarled like a dog, and the way he shook, he was a perfect example of rage induced insanity.
“Should I go kill him now?” Cora asked, hoping she could leave the room and clear her mind. Killing the mutant would make the week of boredom and listening to irrational rants worth every single minute.
“No!” her employer shouted. “He might get past you. He's coming for me, you need to be between me and him when he gets here. I'm going to see that bastard die.”
Sighing, she turned to face the door.
Honestly she wasn't sure if the assassin was Mille. The freak fought in a similar way, but she was sloppy, relying on her PFG and toys to survive, rather than skill. And the target hadn't done a full body shift. Mille would have likely shifted to look like one of the guards to gain a few seconds advantage. This assassin had altered her body, changing fat to muscle, lengthening her legs, and healing the cuts in her hands and arms, like Mille could, but that was all.
Could this be his daughter? A former apprentice with similar powers.
She'd have to ask the freak before killing her.
Gunfire echoed just outside the closet door. Moans and screams of pain joined the racket.
“Screw this, we're not paid to deal with a fucking war,” Micheal said. He wasn't one of Mr. Fusco's guards, he was just the IT guy making sure everything ran smoothly for his boss. He wished his phone worked, but something was scrambling it. Calling 911 only made his phone play a song about friendship.
His girlfriend who was huddled up against him as they hid in a closet was crying softly, muttering that she didn't want to die. He felt horrible having her involved in all of this. He'd just pulled some strings getting her a job as a maid, and now it looked like they were both going to die.
There were a few moments of silence, then someone shouted upstairs and people started shooting. It looked like they might have a chance to escape.
“Come on Rae,” he said, dragging his girlfriend to her feet. “We've gotta get out of here.”
Clutching each other, trying not to look at the bodies sprawled out on the floor, or the dying men, the couple made their way to the front door, flinching and whimpering at the sounds of fighting from upstairs. Trying the door, he found it was locked and wouldn't open with his key. Cursing, he and Rae followed a bitterly cold draft and came to a sitting room. Stepping over a body, they went to what had been a window.
“Careful of the glass,” he said, helping Rae jump through the hole. He followed, wincing as he cut his hands.
They started running across the large lawn, the gate was just ahead of them. Once they got past that, they could go to a nearby house and call the police. They were going to be OK.
Neither of them saw the drone rise up from the snow. Its gun tracked their movements as it did a quick scan, they weren't its owner, nor did they have a friendly ID chip.
It opened fire with its anti-personnel weapon.
The drone watched the fallen bodies for a minute to ensure they were terminated. When its thermal optics showed the targets were rapidly cooling it lowered its weapon. Its job done, it moved on spindly legs to a new location and hunkered down in the snow waiting for more targets.
A shotgun muzzle slammed into Jane's temple, a split second later her head rocked to the side from the slug. The PFG kept it from hitting her skin, but it couldn't stop the hot gas or the full force of the impact.
Screaming in pain, her face raw and burning, her neck sending waves of agony straight to her brain, she rammed her pistol into the guards armpit and fired, again and again until the gun clicked. Concentrating through the blazing headache, she shifted the injured flesh around her body, easing the intensity of the pain. It was getting harder to find places to move the injuries. The PFG was keeping her alive, but it only stopped high speed impacts to save energy. Without her power she'd be covered in bruises from falls, punches, kicks and a few knife wounds.
Looking around the hallway she counted six bodies. She had no idea how many she'd already killed. Trembling from exhaustion, pain and adrenaline, Jane tried to think of where she'd been already. Since entering the house it had been one long running battle. Reaching into her belt, she looked for another magazine, there weren't any left.
When had she run through them? And what had happened to her other three pistols? She couldn't remember.
Dropping the useless weapon, her hand dipped into her belt again, coming out with what looked like an epi-pen. Driving it into her leg, her body shook even harder. Highly illegal stimulants rushed through her bloodstream, making the pain and exhaustion fade away. Everything seemed brighter, louder, more real.
Grabbing the tactical shotgun, she went through the guards pocket looking for shells, feeding them into the gun. Properly armed it was time to get back to work.
Realizing she was on the third floor of the house, and not entirely sure how she'd gotten there, Jane headed for Mr. Fusco's office. She opened each door she came to, needing to make sure no one was left alive.
There was no sign of life until she reached the office. The door was locked.
A little bit of plastic explosives dealt with the lock. Kicking it open, she didn't see anyone, but she did hear a person crying. Going straight for the desk, she saw a pretty blonde woman hiding under it.
“Get up,” she ordered.
The woman got to her feet, sobbing and pleading.
“Who are you?” Jane asked.
“Ruby, I'm just the secretary. Please don't hurt me,” the woman begged.
Jane grinned, shifting her face to look more monstrous, making the woman cry even harder. “Calm down, Ruby. Today is your lucky day. You get to live.”
The crying became a little lighter. “Really?”
“Yes. But you need to give people a message for me. Can you do that? It's not a long message, you'll be able to remember it right?” Jane asked, putting the shotgun down.
“Yeah. I'll make sure they get the message.”
Jane placed a blood covered hand on the womans shoulder, gently pushing her up against the wall. “Tell everyone you see that Mille is dead. He's a monster, even in death. He left trails of bread crumbs all over, hoping that some idiot would find them and try to come after him. They all lead to me. You see he paid me a lot of money to deal with idiots like Fusco who fall into his trap. Think of it as a last fuck you to the world.”
She got right into Ruby's face, still grinning. “I'm a monster too, but I'm not as mean as Mille was. I'll do what I'm paid for, but I don't enjoy slaughtering people nearly as much as he did. I'd much rather spend my time on a beach drinking a beer, looking like whoever I want, surrounded by sexy men wearing very little, rather than killing people. So jobs like this, they annoy me. And when I get annoyed, I tend to overreact and that's a bad thing. Do you understand what I'm saying?”
Ruby nodded. “Mille is dead. You'll kill anyone who tries to go after him.”
“Good girl, but tell them everything I just told you. Every. Single. Word. Mille is dead, leave the monster in the ground.” Stepping back, she reached into her belt pulling out two long knives.
“You said you'd let me live,” the woman cried.
Jane drove the knives through the secretary's shoulders and into the wall, pinning her in place. Patting Ruby's cheek, ignoring the cries of pain, she shifted her face into a horrifying stretched out visage that was just on the edge of human. She said, “I did say that and you'll survive. I just want to make sure you can't get away before telling people what I told you.”
Picking up her shotgun, she went looking for Mr. Fusco.
Cora watched through the cameras as the assassin came to the basement. There weren't many guards left, they were either dead, hiding or had tried to run only to be cut down by what looked like automated guns around the perimeter. Whoever had set this massacre up had spent a fortune on it.
The woman came to a corner, paused and listened. The final three guards were utterly silent, but something must have tipped her off. She reached into her belt that had to be a devise, pulled out a flash bang and threw it around the corner.
Cora heard the muffled bang. Through the cameras she saw the assassin dash in using her shotgun to take the head off the nearest guard, swing around shooting the second guard in the crotch, and having run out of shells, bash the last guard in the face with the shotgun butt. Dropping the gun, she pulled out a knife and slit the two surviving guards throats.
“That's the last of the guards, except for the two in the control room,” Cora said. “Can I finally go and earn my pay?”
“How did he do it?” Fusco demanded. “How did he kill all of them?!”
“With a lot of bullets, explosives and knives,” she replied. “I'm going to go kill the freak now.”
Ignoring her employers shouts, she left the room. There was work to do. Endorphins flowed through her body at the thought of torturing and killing the genetic freak of nature.
Taking a mouthful of water from her canteen, Jane swished it around her mouth and spit trying to wash the taste of blood from her mouth. A second mouthful went down her parched throat.
Mille had done some hard jobs in the past, but few of them had been quite so intense in such a short time as this one. At least she was nearly done. The drones outside had killed a handful of people trying to escape and none of them had been Fusco. This was the last place he could be according to the blue prints.
She saw something come out from around the corner and jumped backwards landing painfully on her ass. A red beam, bright enough to leave an afterimage in her eyes, hit the ground where she'd been kneeling. The cement exploded leaving a small smoking crater.
Rolling to her feet, Jane pulled a knife out of her belt and ran at the attacker, knowing that getting close was the only way to win a gunfight with a knife.
A very tall and bulky woman stepped out into the hallway. Her eyes glowed red, and her left hand was smoking, the skin burnt black and peeling away from a metal skeleton.
This was not good.
Jane slashed at the cyborg, who just stood there letting the blade cut through her clothes and skin. Looking at the sliced wires and lightly scratched metal plating, she realized she was in serious trouble. The sense of dread grew as the cyborg smirked.
“I know you're not Mille, you're not in his league. But you fight like him. So who are you? His freak daughter? It would make the most sense with how you're power works,” the cyborg said.
Jane was more than happy to let the cyborg talk. It gave her time to catch her breath and try to come up with a plan. Staying well back with her knife raised, she said, “Good friend of his. Before he died he asked me to handle anyone who stepped into one of his traps.”
“Just how good a friend?”
She smiled, trying to hide her exhaustion. “I could tell you his real dick size.”
The cyborg looked at her wide eyed and then burst out laughing. Seizing the opening, Jane thrust her knife into the things stomach, hoping it would hurt the thing. Before the blade could hit its target, the cyborg caught her just behind the wrist and squeezed its metallic hand.
Jane shrieked as bone splintered. The knife fell from her now useless hand. She was picked up into the air and thrown the length of the hall, landing in a heap. Clutching her arm, she concentrated, using all of her power to shift flesh and bone, forcing it to knit back together.
The cyborg grinned. “Oh this is going to be fun. You use your shifting to heal yourself, not many can do that. How many times can I break you before you can't do it anymore?”
Getting to her feet, Jane ran for it. She wasn't going to flee the house, she still had to kill Fusco, but she needed to put some distance between her and the cyborg. The metal monstrosity fired its red beam again, hitting her in the hip. The PFG absorbed most of the energy, and Jane was able to keep running despite the new welt forming on her skin.
The PFG beeped twice, signalling it was out of power.
“Hey freak,” the cyborg shouted as she ran around the corner. “What should I call you? Mille's Ex just doesn't have the right ring to it.”
She didn't answer, she didn't have enough breath to say anything. Instead she reached into her belt and pulled out some poison.
The computer in Cora's brain provided a layout of the basement directly to her optical nerves. It pinpointed the mutants general location by listening to her steps and breathing, marking it on the map in red. The woman was by the wall, ducking down behind something.
“This should be interesting,” she said to herself.
Stepping into what had been a guard room minutes before, the door was blown off its hinges, and the bloody furniture was wrecked. Purposefully looking away from the assassins hiding place, she didn't react until a needle was shoved into her neck.
The needle managed to slide between the metal wires that twined around her neck. A cold liquid was injected directly into her muscles. She twisted her head, snapping the needle in half.
“Oh,” she giggled, “you've got some nasty tricks.”
A fist broke her nose, another one hit her throat. If she'd still been a weak human, her trachea would have fractured, likely killing her. Now she was far above mere humans, and even farther above mutants. The punch merely tickled.
The poison worked its way through her system, her blood pressure sky rocketed. A warning flashed in her brain, then her system began filtering it out. Her broken nose bled a little more than it should, reddish black blood that tasted of iron and oil covered her lips. Then it simply stopped, and her nose cracked back into place.
“Is that the best you can do? I thought mutants were supposed to be scary,” she said, ignoring a kick to her solar plexus.
A second later, a knife pierced the side of her stomach. It hurt a little, just enough to let her know she'd been damaged. In response Cora lightly punched the woman in ribs, snapping several of them.
The mutant jumped back, clutching her ribs. Strangely there didn't seem to be any fear in the freaks eyes. If she had to guess it looked like her opponent was getting angry.
That defiance from a filthy mutant decided Cora's course of action. The freak would know terror and beg for release before she died.
A mental command made a foot long blade pop out of her arm. This was going to be fun.
What would it take to slow this monster down? Jane wondered.
She'd knitted her ribs back together, but it was a rough job at best. They didn't flex like they should, slowing her down and giving her a weak spot she couldn't afford. The only good thing about the situation was that the cyborg was playing with her, lazily swinging a silver blade that came out of her left wrist over top of her hand.
Dodging and moving back, Jane struggled to avoid the debris that covered the floor, while not allowing herself to be backed up into a corner. She kept her small knife in front of her, hoping to get an opening. Reaching into her belt with her free hand, and getting a shallow cut along her chest in the process, she pulled out a small plastic tube.
Spraying the enhanced pepper spray straight into the cyborgs face, Jane felt a tiny bit of satisfaction as the woman hissed in pain and closed her eyes. Slipping past the silver blade, she jabbed her knife into the cyborgs eye. The blade slid in with a crunch, then came to a stop at the back of the eye socket. It felt like she'd hit solid steel.
The woman screamed in pain, punching her in the chest. She jumped back with the hit, keeping it from crushing her heart, and merely getting a nasty bruise along with some cracked ribs. Hopping back to her feet, she took off running, followed by a shriek of rage and the sound of explosions as the cyborg shot blindly in her general direction.
Smiling savagely, Jane realized she now had a chance at winning the fight. Running up to the main floor of the house, she put some distance between herself and the cyborg.
Cora pulled the knife out of her eye, cursing and swearing. The chemicals in her eyes didn't burn anymore but for a few seconds they'd hurt like hell. Getting the knife in the eye had been no picnic either.
Wiping black blood from her face she looked around, blinking hard trying to see clearly. Her one eye saw everything perfectly, but her other one looked like a cracked lense with bursts of static every few seconds. It would heal, but until it did it was more of a hindrance. She thought a command, stopping the signals to her brain.
She split the image in her good eye into two. One showed her immediate area, with the map of the house faintly over top of it. The other was from the video cameras, flicking through them until she found the assassin. The woman was hunched over something just inside a doorway to the laundry area. So she was setting a booby trap. That would be easy to deal with.
Walking up the stairs, more carefully than usual to deal with her lack of perspective, she charged her cannon. It was time to show the gene freak who was superior.
The drone turned away from the house, someone was coming onto the property from outside. Its scanners detected a car pulling up to the gate house. Its anti-armour laser targeted the vehicle, ready to fire.
A figure stepped out of the car holding a weapon. Zooming in the drone recognized the human as a police officer.
Immediately the laser was placed on standby. The anti-personnel gun was activated instead. It began scanning the police broadband. The officer was reporting the bodies and the destroyed gate. Backup was called for, and the officer was securing the scene.
This was acceptable to the drones orders. It continued to scan the area.
Then there was an explosion from the house, clearly audible on the street.
The officer started to run towards the building. The moment his foot went past the gate, the drone opened fire.
The man fell on his back, crawling backwards as bullets tore into the pavement less then five feet away from him. As soon as he was back behind the gate, the shooting stopped.
A minute later far more backup was on the way.
Hiding in the doorway of what had been the guards barracks, holding a bloody pistol she'd ripped out of a dead mans hand, Jane waited for the cyborg to come up the stairs. Her claymore mine was set up one door down, ready to be detonated when the metal monster came after her.
She didn't need to wait long.
The cyborg came around the corner, not even trying to make herself a smaller target. Shooting her in the head only made her flinch.
Come on you bitch, she thought to herself. Her free hand held the clacker for the claymore, ready to blow it as soon as the cyborg was in position.
And then the monster stopped. Jane could only watch as its hand began to glow a brilliant red, and it pointed it seemingly at a random spot on the wall. The searing red beam cut through the wood and plaster, then the world exploded.
Cora picked herself up off the floor, wondering what the hell had just hit her.
Pain signals sent reports of damage all over her body. Stunned, she dumbly picked what looked like a ball bearing out of her chest. Her computer informed her that it was likely from a claymore mine.
“How the fuck did she get a claymore?! What fucking maniac decides they need a goddamn claymore?!” she demanded.
She'd been angry before, the mutant freak had done a number on her eyes, now she was furious. The computer in her head had been telling her to slaughter the mutant without mercy for a while, they were now in total agreement. Getting to her feet, her left knee squealed. Examining it, she saw that shrapnel had badly damaged the joint. It was fixing itself but it would take time. Shutting off the pain sensors to the entire leg, she began to hobble towards the last place the assassin had been.
Glancing at where the claymore had been, she saw it had shredded far more than it should have. Her computer kindly informed her that her beam weapon had damaged the mine, causing it to explode in an unpredictable manner. But if she hadn't destroyed it, and let it go off as planned there was a better than fifty percent chance it would have killed her or completely immobilized her for several hours.
Wincing in pain, stumbling along like an invalid, Cora didn't feel very lucky.
She got to the doorway where the assassin had been. The woman was gone, but she hadn't gotten away cleanly. The wall between the laundry room and the barracks had been torn apart, and some of the ball bearings had rocketed through the room. A trail of blood led to a second open door.
Following the blood, it was time to end things.
Jane clutched her thigh, trying to stop the bleeding. She couldn't concentrate enough to shift, she could barely move in a straight line.
Limping through a blood soaked hallway, she began to chuckle. She definitely hadn't planned on going out like this when Mille had died. She'd just wanted to live a nice peaceful, boring life, playing it safe and being ignored.
Looking at the bodies of people she'd killed no more than fifteen minutes ago, she started to laugh. She was certainly playing it safe now.
Her eyes lit up. Sticking out of the back of a crispy and still smoking corpse was her plasma knife. Grabbing it caused her to fall to her knees as her leg gave out, but it was nice having it back. Changing the energy clip, her numbed and trembling hands nearly drop it.
She heard something pop. Looking behind her, she saw the cyborg, arm raised with smoke coming out of her hand. The monster looked almost as beat up as she felt. Trying to get to her feet, she fell in the blood. The shock to her wounded leg made her scream.
The scream turned to a shriek. Burning metal gripped her neck, making her skin sizzle. She was lifted into the air and slammed into a wall, making her drop her knife.
Her blood turned icy cold. She tried to control herself, she couldn't have a seizure now. Her body trembled and she felt herself shift.
The cyborg threw her away. “What the fuck?!”
Jane felt smaller. She also felt broken. Lying on the floor, she slowly reached into her belt, keeping her hand out of sight.
“What the hell! You're just a fucking kid?” the cyborg said.
Moaning, Jane pretended to be more injured than she was. Curling up into the fetal position she palmed several small tubes.
“Need to get a look at your face, find out who the fuck you really are,” the cyborg said, flipping her over.
Jane sprayed her in the face with three different self-defence chemicals. The cyborg reared back, wheezing as her throat and sinuses began swelling. A blinding agent forced her eyes shut, and her skin blistered.
Jane rolled to the side, narrowly avoiding being stomped. The cyborgs foot slammed through the floor trapping her leg.
Scrambling for her plasma knife, Jane flicked it on and rammed it as hard as she could into the cyborgs spine.
A metallic shriek filled the hallway. Acrid smoke poured out of the wound. The cyborg spasmed, it seemed like she was trying to move, all she did was helplessly jerk her arms. Finally the cyborg fell limply to the ground.
Not taking any chances, Jane stabbed it through the skull.
Getting to her feet, she injected herself with another stimulant, causing her heart to race dangerously fast. Feeling a little more alive, she limped back to the basement. She still had a mission to accomplish.
Using the last of her flash bombs and smoke grenades, Jane took no chances in the basement. She wasn't capable of another fight. She just wanted this to end.
Her stolen gun roared, taking out the last of the guards. The final door was locked. She still had some plastic explosives. It took her longer than usual to set it up, her fingers didn't want to work.
The door was well built, it bent and crumpled creating a large gap at the bottom, but didn't fall off its hinges. Her ears were ringing so hard, she couldn't hear what was going on in the room. Grabbing some debris, she tossed it in like it was a grenade. Someone screamed and shots rang out.
Ducking down, she fired at the first thing she saw and didn't stop until she ran out of bullets. A man screamed.
Crawling through the door, she saw Mr. Fusco lying in a pool of blood clutching his stomach. She walked over to him. Falling to her hands and knees, she looked him in the eyes. “You should have let Mille stay dead,” she said.
“You killed my boys,” the man gasped.
“Mille killed them, not me. You thought you could draw him out going after his so-called son. Got news for you, that was a setup. You fell into a dead mans trap and got me instead. Congratu-fucking-lations, you fucking idiot,” she said, slitting his throat.
She had to get away. Crawling out of the basement, she heard sirens.
Jane would have sworn, but she didn't have the energy. Instead she shifted, turning into an old woman, who had to be at least eighty years old.
Utterly exhausted, she laid down on the floor and fell asleep.
Amplify slowly flew through the house avoiding the blood and potential evidence, wondering what the hell had happened. It looked like a war zone.
His costume was torn from taking out the drones outside. They hadn't attacked until he went past the fence, then they'd tried to kill him with extreme prejudice, making it too dangerous for anyone without superpowers to enter. With no idea of what to expect inside the house, and since only his devised radio could cut through the jammer, he was acting as point man before the police or medics entered the site.
“Help me,” a voice called out weakly.
Following the noise the heroes eyes went wide at the sight of the old woman. She was drenched in blood and clearly injured. “Got an injured woman, get the medics ready, she needs immediate attention,” he said into his radio.
Gripping her in a TK field, keeping her body immobilized to prevent further injuries, he flew her out of the house at high speed. The paramedics were waiting with a stretcher. He didn't wait to see how she was, there might be other injured people in the house.
Flying back he went floor by floor finding only dead bodies and signs of heavy fighting. He had paused in surprise at the sight of a dead cyborg. He dearly wanted to know exactly what had happened here.
On the third floor he found another survivor. She was pinned to the wall, only half conscious from blood loss.
“Hey, I'm Amplify, a superhero, I'm here to help you,” he told the woman. “Medics are on their way.”
“I need to tell you,” the woman gasped, “Mille is dead. Leave the monster in the ground!”
“Who's Mille?” Amplify asked, studying the knives and how she was pinned.
“A monster! He set this up. He's dead but he set this up. A final fuck you to his enemies.”
She was clearly hysterical. He honestly couldn't blame her.
“He set up a trail of bread crumbs for people to follow. They thought they led to Mille, but they all lead to her. She did this. She didn't want to, but she'd been paid.”
“Who did this?” he asked.
“She didn't tell me her name. She changed her face, became a monster,” the woman cried. “She's a monster. She killed everyone. She's not human.”
The words 'changed her face' set off an alarm in his mind.
“STOP THE AMBULANCE!” he shouted into his radio. “The injured woman is a shifter!”
Five minutes after learning the old woman was a shifter, Amplify landed beside the ambulance which had stopped in the middle of the street, halfway to the hospital.
The back door was open, stepping inside he saw the paramedics were all unconscious, one of them with a nasty bruise on his jaw and the female medic was stripped to her underwear. Checking their pulses, he was was relieved to find they were alive.
“I need an ambulance,” he said into the radio. “The old woman was a shifter and our suspect. She somehow knocked the medics unconscious, stole a uniform and disappeared.”
Giving the location of the ambulance, he flew into the sky. There was almost no chance he'd find the shifter, but he had to try.
Coming to a rough stop in the parking lot of The Golden Peaches Massage Parlour, Jane practically fell out of her stolen car. Stumbling across the parking lot she entered the plain two story building, and was immediately met by a receptionist who looked her up and down, frowning at the hastily washed off stains that covered her exposed skin.
“How can I help you?” the young woman asked.
“I need to see Iaso. Urgent appointment,” she said.
“Ah. Normally for that type of appointment you would come in the back door. Is that your car outside?”
“No,” Jane admitted.
The receptionist sighed, looking extremely irritated. “Follow me,” she said.
Walking down the hallway, Jane tried to ignore the sounds coming from some of the rooms, and the scantily dressed woman that walked down the hall. They came to an elevator, and the receptionist used a key card to open it. Ushering Jane inside, the woman hit a series of buttons and stepped out, saying, “Iaso will be waiting for you.”
Jane slumped against the side of the elevator, her mind and body numb. She hadn't expected things to be easy, but the whole thing had gone completely out of control.
The door opened, a woman, who looked to be Greek, was waiting for her. “Who are you?”
“Someone with money to burn, an identity to hide, and the connections to know you're the best healer in the city. I've been blown up, stabbed, beaten, broken ribs, broken arm, and had shrapnel take a piece of my thigh. If you don't get me to a bed in the next minute, I'm going to collapse before I can pay you,” Jane replied.
“Come on,” Iaso said.
She was led to a bed. Sitting down with a sigh of relief, she pulled her phone out of the Mobius belt. Getting online, she transferred a small fortune to Iaso's offshore account. Once the payment was confirmed the healer got to work.
While Jane stripped, Iaso lit sticks of incense, placing them around the room in the shape of a pentacle. Then the healer washed off the blood that covered her with a cloudy, sweet smelling water. When Jane was clean, Iaso used a brush to paint purple runes on her body, chanting the entire time.
A feeling of peace filled Jane, a sensation she hadn't truly felt in years. Closing her eyes she fell asleep.
“You really should not be getting out of bed,” Iaso said. “Even with my healing you need at least a week of bed rest.”
“Can't do it. I've got to be somewhere in an hour or my cover is blown,” Jane replied, putting on her stolen paramedics uniform. “Do you mind if the Syndicate sends their teleporter here? I've got one on stand by, just need to tell him where to pick me up.”
Sighing, the healer nodded. “I have a room for them.”
Dialing a number, she let the Syndicate contact know she was ready to be teleported. Limping, she went to meet her transportation.
Five minutes later she was in a hotel room in Winnipeg. Her 'government minder' was waiting for her and clearly unhappy.
“I've been getting messages from Whateley,” the woman said. “They want to talk to you immediately. I've managed to fend them off by saying you were talking with your presumed family, and then crying after learning there was no connection.”
“Sorry. Things got hairy. Give me my lines and we can call them in fifteen minutes,” Jane said, grabbing clothes from her suitcase.
All she wanted to do was go to sleep, but it didn't look like that would be an option for a while.
Whately, Headmistress Office
November 21st, 2007
Headmistress Carson looked up as Chief Delarose entered her office. She'd only just gotten in, and hadn't even had a chance to drink her coffee. “What can I do for you chief?” she asked.
“I have the final confirmation that Mr. Fusco attacked Shaun Solace,” he said.
She scowled. It was good that they knew who to punish, but having to do it was still distasteful. “I'll contact the-”
“No need,” Delarose said, interrupting her.
“Mr. Fusco, along with most of his bodyguards and his closest advisors are very dead. His head accountant who almost no one knew about, was found dead at his home early yesterday morning, possibly from a drug induced heart attack. The rest were all killed the same day in the early afternoon.”
“Who did it?” she demanded, leaning forward.
“We don't know,” he admitted. “Reports are pretty sure it was done by a shifter. The only survivor said the attacker shifted her face. And the suspect looked like an old woman when law enforcement arrived. She escaped an ambulance after knocking out the paramedics, and stealing a young woman's clothes.”
“Was it Mille?”
He shook his head. “It was a woman who fought like Mille did at his most brutal. We have reason to believe she took the appearance of Carrie Moyer, teenage daughter of Mr. Fusco's accountant, to murder him. At the Fusco estate security cameras show a young woman who first appeared to be a prostitute attacking the residence. During the fight she unexpectedly took on the appearance of a young teen. Finally she shifted into an elderly woman, but she never took a male appearance.”
Carson frowned. The situation was getting messy, and she didn't like the implications it had regarding one of her students.
“The sole survivor, Mr. Fusco's secretary, was found pinned to a wall by her shoulders. She had a message to pass on to the first person she saw, 'Mille is dead. Leave the monster in the ground.' She went on saying that a monster woman had been hired by Mille to deal with anyone stupid enough to follow his breadcrumbs trying to get revenge.
“And something that is very interesting. Two devises in the shape of colourful eggs were found. When they were broken, people were able to use their cell phones and radios again without listening to a song from My Little Pony.”
“And Jane is in Canada, meeting someone who may be a family member,” Carson said, frowning at the implications.
“I contacted her as soon as I heard what happened. It took a bit of time, at first she was meeting the family members privately. Then after it turned out they weren't related, she didn't want to talk to anyone. Finally, late that evening, she and her government minder called us, confirming they'd been in Winnipeg since Monday. They even did a video call beside the window, the skyline matched up with their location. She'll be back this evening.”
“How convenient,” she said dryly. “What are your plans for her?”
“Nothing officially. She hasn't done anything to put her on my radar. Unofficially I'll have my people keep an eye on her, mostly to see if anyone tries to attack her. If she did take out Mr. Fusco's security, which included a cyborg, her attackers will need rescuing,” he said, smiling thinly.
She didn't smile back. “ As soon as possible give me a list of anyone close to the late Mr. Fusco that still needs to learn Whateley is off limits. I'll pass on the word that the neutrality matter has largely been dealt with, ”
By the end of the day, news of Mr. Fusco's death would be known throughout North America and Europe. A few days more and most of the heroes, villains and well connected criminals would know what happened when they broke Whateley's neutrality. Carson knew it wasn't a good ending, but it was satisfactory.
Jane finished unpacking and put her bag in her wardrobe, then sat on the bed. Her body ached despite the healing, and she didn't want to move. Staring at her lap, she could smell the blood on her. Her hands were slick with it. It hadn't come off in the shower, no matter how many times she had scrubbed herself.
Amber came in soon after. “Jane! You're back! How did it go?”
She shrugged, not sure what to say, not wanting to lie anymore, knowing she couldn't tell the truth.
Sitting down next to her, her roommate patted her back. “No luck on finding your family?”
Jane didn't say anything, didn't even look at her.
Getting closer, Amber said, “I'm sorry. But Shaun has said he and his mom would love to have both of us visit for Christmas. It's like we're making our own family now.”
Turning to look at her friend, Jane whispered, “Can you give me a hug?”
For a second Amber looked confused, then she leaned in and enveloped Jane in a hug. Slowly, hesitantly, Jane wrapped her arms around her friend. Tears welled up in her eyes but refused to come out.
They stayed like that for a long time.
Trevor Sung leaned forward in his seat, studying the video.
The video had come directly from Project Damocles, showing the last minutes of one of their super cyborgs. He'd had to pay a pretty penny to get access to it, but it had been worth every cent. Unlike the security cameras which could only give a general overview of the fight, this one was up close and personal.
Seeing how the assassin moved, the brutality, the fighting style, healing her wounds by shifting, she was either Mille himself, or someone who had personally trained under him.
Playing the video again, he slowed it at one particular point. The assassin was trembling, her eyes vacant for a few seconds, and then she shifted, not smoothly, but like worms were moving under her skin.
Opening up a file, he read over what Fusco's hired thugs had said about their attack on Shaun Solace. The boys friend, maybe his girlfriend, had attacked the men using a butter knife. She'd been knocked down and had a seizure, shifting her appearance.
That was interesting.
He couldn't do anything with this information yet. Whateley had focused all of their attention on Fusco as he'd planned, but if he moved too quickly he'd come under their scrutiny. That was to be avoided at all cost.
Better to sit back and wait for an opportunity to find out exactly how Jane Fisher was related to Mille. His vengeance could wait a little longer.
Dickinson Cottage, Whateley
It was well after midnight, and Jane was still awake, listening to the tiny snores coming from across the room. She couldn't sleep. Her skin felt tighter and itchier than ever. Forcing herself to her feet, she silently walked to her desk. Using the moonlight coming in through the window, she looked at herself in the mirror that was leaning against the wall.
Pulling a knife from her drawer, she rested the razor sharp blade on her arm. Thoughts tumbled through her mind.
Who was she?
What was she?
Was she Mille, a liar, a murderer, a monster.
Was she Jane, a young girl who just wanted to live a peaceful, simple life?
Was she a dangerous psychopath? Lying to everyone, hurting everyone, even herself?
She just wanted to have a second chance. Make friends, have an identity, a life. Was that too much to ask?
Did she deserve it?
Freak. Peace. Monster. Friends. Murderer. Hope.
Her mind was spinning out of control. Her skin was too tight. It was crushing her. She couldn't breathe.
“Just cut it. Release the pressure. Let the confusion out,” she growled, staring into the deep blue eyes of her reflection.
Her hand shook. The knife pressed into her skin. The tiniest bit of pressure would slice it open. She'd feel better then.
Gritting her teeth, she took the blade away from her arm, placing it back in the drawer.
“I'm Just Me, Jane Fisher,” she whispered, her brown eyes staring defiantly at her dim reflection. “I'm fourteen years old. I'm a student of Whateley. I'm in the system and I'm a mutant. I'm not special. I'm going to get my diploma and go to a small college. When I'm forced to be, I'm a murderer.”