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The Son of New Jericho - Chapter 2

AnonMD Sep 19th, 2015 (edited) 437 Never
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  1. The objective was in my rear sight. Federation Armored Transport, headed eastbound on Interstate 20, sixty miles per hour. Our orders were to maintain course until it passed us, intercept the bus before they reached the next town, and pull out everyone on board. A Chapel in Jackson would then extract our packages in Mississippi and send us back to San Austin before the feds could post an APB on us. It was supposed to be another prison bus jacking on I-20, something my crew had gotten pretty good at with a year of practice.
  2.  
  3. It turned out, that you could only grab into the cookie jar so many times before your luck ran out.
  4.  
  5. I had us check everything before we hit the road; two retrofitted pick-up trucks, one with a half-kilometer signal jammer and the other with a bed-mounted air compressor feeding what looked like an over-sized cattle gun we would use to breach bus windows or car doors.
  6.  
  7. The execution was flawless. Briggs drove on the right with our jammer while Richards took us to the left side so I could charge and line-up the pneumatic ram against the driver’s window. The compressor was roaring to fill the bolt mechanism, nozzle beginning to hiss as it overcharged. Tinted windows kept me from looking inside until I pressed the lever down, hundreds of pounds per square inch blasting a half-inch rod and glass shards inside the vehicle, causing it to swerve into the opposite truck as its driver toppled over limp into the aisle.
  8.  
  9. It came to a stop a minute or so later, no sign of its driver or any passengers returning to the wheel. Just like clockwork.
  10.  
  11. Twenty captives were supposed to be on board that bus, convicts sentenced to serve in the federal breeding camps in their efforts to boost the human birth rate (which had been in the single digits per thousand since the 2070’s). Yet when my team boarded the stalled bus, there was only a single unconscious driver on the ground in a bloodied button-up shirt and slacks with something streaming down her ear. She was petite, no more than four feet tall with a tiny frame to boot, with blood splattered all along the console of the bus.
  12.  
  13. A goblin, all on her own. The small driver faced up at us with her ballpoint pupils looking at the roof.
  14.  
  15.     “Don’t kill… please,” she raised her hand towards me, “Promise…”
  16.  
  17. Her jaw was slack on the left side as she talked. I wasn’t our medic, but head trauma couldn’t have been any clearer unless she started foaming at the mouth.
  18.  
  19. Lights came over the horizon before I could order Sayers to put her in the truck for medevac at Jackson, no less than three helicopters came into view as the sound of rotors roared in the night sky.
  20.  
  21. It wasn’t until I saw a blinking light on the instrument panel of the bus that I realized it was being tracked by someone other than ourselves, and that we had fallen into Federal custody at the cost of a prison transporter and its driver.
  22.  
  23.  
  24.  
  25.  
  26.  
  27. The next thing I knew, a burning-white bulb pressed against my nose and roused me from my failed mission. My hood was gone, the feeling of a concrete mattress against my back was replaced by what felt like a warmed fur carpet. The faint smell of brimstone from a pair of claws digging into my armpits allowed me to realize who was behind me.
  28.  
  29.     “If you wanted a quickie before I leave, you should have asked me sweetie.” I called behind me, a familiar hellhound tossing me into a wall.
  30.  
  31.     “Make my day, fuckface,” she snarled, “In case you hadn’t noticed, we aren’t in your cell anymore.”
  32.  
  33. It didn’t register until her words; the normal room temperature, something akin to carpeting on the floor aside from concrete, and a winged figure sitting behind an office desk.
  34.  
  35. She had a pair of curved black horns jutting from her forehead, a glossy black fountain of hair coming to a halt just under her earlobe, bangs covering the left eye. The pins sticking to the collar of her uniform were matched only by the trio of rings dangling from the length of each blue ear.
  36.  
  37.     “I suggest against damaging anything in my office, Jesibel, I AM entertaining a guest.”
  38.  
  39. The hellhound bit her lip and retreated towards the corner of the room, her burning orange eyes fixated on me before darting back to the commanding demon.
  40.  
  41.     “I’ll go ahead and take a guess, you’re either the warden or her handler,” I rose from the ground, an audible growl responding to my remark. The blue devil-woman rose from her chair with a chuckle, much taller than I imagined.
  42.  
  43.     “The former, though in her case I tend to fall along both of those roles,” she stroked her chin before pointing to an open chair, “You must be the ‘ninety-seven’ I’ve heard so much about lately, do have a seat so we may talk a bit.”
  44.  
  45. I could say it was compulsion that I obeyed her, but any kind of chair that wasn’t made of concrete was a godsend after three months. She sat down after taking in an eyeful of me, a spaded tail wagging behind her along with a glint in her scarlet eyes as if she found something to her liking.
  46.  
  47.     “Ninety-seven, detained for suspected insurgent activities. A man without a real name, age, state of residence, or a sense of decency since you felt it was necessary to share details about your… tryst, with my sweet little Jessie to her friends-”
  48.  
  49. The hellhound blurted out venom as embers came from the corners of her eyes, “For FUCKS’ sake, I was not a virgin-”
  50.  
  51.     “Stop it. The adults are speaking, so don’t make me repeat myself.” the horned demon snapped her manicured fingers, just before Jesibel fell against her shapely behind.
  52.  
  53.     “As I was saying, you’re something of an enigma to my superiors; guerrilla training explains how you could board one of my buses, yet you were kind enough to turn yourself in while half your team and one of my drivers disappeared into the night. Yet more interesting, is that despite how long you’ve been here, I’ve yet to learn a single thing about you aside from the eight-inch rod that dangles between your legs.” she leaned closer on the desk with her elbows, lips curved into a smile as the hellhound turned her head towards the wall with her tail swaying.
  54.  
  55.     “Do you like parahumans, ninety-seven?” she said, pressing her chin against her fingers as she gazed into me with her tail swaying alluringly. Blue irises on black orbs glistened under the single fixture above, awaiting my reply.
  56.  
  57. The Belle herd back home were the first to cross my mind, until my mind turned towards Natalie. As sweet a girl as I knew, warm brown hair stuck out from her rosy skin, almost strawberry pink on summer days we’d spent at the pond. She didn’t think twice when I asked her to move into my dad’s so I could dodge the mandatory breeding program, sometimes sleeping in my bed to really make it convincing we were a couple.
  58.  
  59. It wasn’t until she disappeared after the raid, that I realized how much she meant to me besides being ‘one of the Belles’. She was a sister, more so than the hundreds of other holstaurs that were around our age, and at times something even more.
  60.  
  61.     “Some of them.” I trailed off, leaning back in the leather seat. It didn’t hurt to think about her before. God only knew how much she was hurting to know I was still alive after all this time apart.
  62.  
  63.     “I’ll slim your choices down. The girls who have interrogated you before; that hellhound, a lizardman, a three-tailed fox, a kobold or a cyclops” she licked her blue upper lip, “Which would you like, in exchange for a little information?”
  64.  
  65. The hellhound’s tail straightened, a pair of orange eyes narrowing on her leader.
  66.  
  67.     “What are you getting at, blue?” I retorted.
  68.  
  69. The blue bitch locked eyes with her subordinate despite talking at me, “You’ve been pent-up for three months, darling, surely you don’t need me to spell it out.”
  70.  
  71. A sound like crackling embers hung in the corner of the room, Jesibel biting into her lip to hold her words. I would have done the same if my superior was offering my men to the Federation like pieces of candy too.
  72.  
  73.     “What do you want to know?” I asked, the heat from infernal eyes turning towards me.
  74.  
  75.     “Coordinates to your command base; the Federation has agreed to exonerate you of all charges if you give that sort of intel, and might even grant you asylum for being a good sport these last few months,” she said, a beaming smile failing to disguise the condescension tangled into her words, “I’ll give you an hour with whichever of my guards meets your interests to boot.”
  76.  
  77. Jesibel’s eyes were scorching red, discontent burning within her if the shaking in her clenched paws was any indication. It would have satisfied me to watch her squirm in the corner during our exchange if my stomach didn’t churn at the idea of taking the devil’s offer.
  78.  
  79.     “Hon, I’m gonna need more than a little poon and papers for that,” I chuckled, the glow from the hellhound’s eyes obscuring what must have been a scowl, “How about you uncuff me for starters, and then tell your brass that if they agree to pay reparations to the families of everyone they’ve abducted for those breeding camps and recognize the Dissonant Zone as its own country, I might be willing to part with that kind of information.”
  80.  
  81. The smile on the demon’s face didn’t waver, but the devil’s tone changed to something colder than the cell she kept me in.
  82.  
  83.     “I was more than generous to you, dear, but it would seem that was the wrong way about this,” she rose from her chair, snapping her fingers. What felt like a hot pad of callused skin and fur forced my head against the desk, its owner growling wordlessly.
  84.  
  85.     “Do tell, ninety-seven, as you are quite informed about crackpot theories about the national breeding program, what do you presume happened to the six men who were brought in with you?” she said, placing a tablet on her desktop.
  86.  
  87. Ideas came to mind, based on horror stories from the buses we’d hijacked before. Your run of the mill jail-bird would get shipped off to the nearest breeder anywhere from two months to a year to serve out minor sentences, felons were more tricky to handle and would get dropped into prison programs for years depending on their charges.
  88.  
  89. Though terrorists, as we were branded, had a very special kind of Hell in store for us. Vicks was the one who told me they began employing mindflayers to wipe the mind of anyone suspected of treason or dissidence, and ship them off to the highest bidder as nothing more than a dutch husband.
  90.  
  91.     “My guess is you shipped them to a brain doctor, the kind with tentacles.” I glanced at her from the corner of my eye, still pressed against the desk by the shoulder.
  92.  
  93. She nodded, setting the tablet down just a foot or so before me and pressed a button on the screen. The scene was too familiar, the interrogation room. The tan man with a bad fohawk was Mendoza, sent out more than a month ago.
  94.  
  95.     “I made a little house call, actually. Do watch, dear, this is something you’ll want to remember the next time you turn down a perfectly good offer.”
  96.  
  97. He was being held down on the desk by the infernal bitch and what must have been that cyclops given the lack of notable features from the back, shouting in Spanish. I’d heard him screaming drunk enough times to know that he was threatening to feed them to his dogs.
  98.  
  99. The hellhound looked on over me, a thumping through the chest of her uniform as she saw something approach in the screen. She was too engrossed to notice that my hands were fishing for the slim needle inside my palm.
  100.  
  101. A mass of what looked like pale blood-stained tentacles made their way into the room, billowing like an open lab coat. The curvaceous woman attached to them stood in front of Mendoza, her face covered by a veil of hair-like white tentacles. A mindflayer.
  102.  
  103. Mendoza stopped screaming only to begin flailing as she pressed her chest into his face, tentacles crawling against his neck until they found their mark inside his ears. My fingers began shaking as I tried to find the pinhole with a bent needle.
  104.  
  105. The mindflayer pulled away from him with a kiss, wet red lip prints on his cheek as something began streaming down his nose. The needle poked inside, hands trembling as I turned it.
  106.  
  107. It clicked as I went counter-clockwise, Mendoza laying on the desk lifeless for some time as the warden pulled the tablet from my view. I pushed the needle in, feeling the cuffs slacken as I worked my wrist free under the desk. It wasn’t how I planned it, but this was as good a chance I was going to get to escape.
  108.  
  109.     “Are you ready to talk now, ninety-seven? Or am I going to have to make you watch that old man in your cell have his brain sucked-out in-person?” she licked her lips, contempt staring back at me through her soul-less eyes. I had enough of her and that godforsaken prison for a lifetime, and only hoped Vicks was prepared to improvise.
  110.  
  111. The hellhound’s grip faltered as I pushed off hard against the desk, whipping my head back against what felt like the bridge of her nose with another headbutt for good measure, before I went charging at the demon with the loose cuff swinging like a flail. She reached to grab something under her desk, before the chain from my cuffs caught around one of her horns and threw her against the ground as something metallic flew out from her grip.
  112.  
  113. It was a revolver; loaded if the heft as I picked it up was any indication, half-cocked from where she was trying pull the hammer back with long nails, the steel frame untouched aside from fresh nail scratches. Even if she had never fired it before, the message was all the same the moment she drew a gun. There were no further words to be exchanged, for we had become enemies on a battlefield, even if it was in her office.
  114.  
  115. The warden tried to pry the gun from my hands until I kicked her onto her back, straddled her and clubbed the bottom of the grip against her arms as she tried to block my blows. Three or more strikes bounced off meat until the frame cracked her elbow, Jesibel watching on as I was pistol-whipping her handler. Blood started to smear across my palm as the warden’s arms changed from blue to a deep purple.
  116.  
  117. She pleaded between the strikes, arms faltering with each swing until they collapsed against her brow in a swollen mess. She covered her face with her bat-like wings, a sickening thwacking sound each time the butt smashed against the leathery canvas.
  118.  
  119.     “No more…” she muttered. I pulled the hammer to full-cock and pointed it at the petrified hellhound. Her ears stood erect once she realized the muzzle was pointing at her chest.
  120.  
  121.     “One step and you’re gonna look worse than your boss here, okay sweetie?”
  122.  
  123. Jesibel nodded, the embers in her eyes flickering out with a whine. I pressed the barrel against the warden’s wing, flinching once it rubbed against a raw patch.
  124.  
  125.     “Open up before I blow your brains out through the wing,” I called, staring her down until her wings unfurled to show watery eyes. The demon, though I hated to admit it, was a looker before the makeover with her gun. Her glossy hair disheveled and drenched in blood, eyelids swollen as she looked up at the revolver as something beneath the dog only a few feet away from her.
  126.  
  127.      “Ninety-seven, please think about this. There’s no reason-” she stammered on until the snub barrel cracked her horn with a forceful swat.
  128.  
  129.     “I’ve thought for all this time, so shut up so I can talk. Before you tell me there’s no reason to empty this chamber between your eyes, I want to ask you some things, and depending on your answers I’ll make this quick or slow. What was the reason that you ordered my men to be mindflayed and sent to god-knows-where?”
  130.  
  131. It was a rhetorical question, considering I had my answer pressed against her eye socket. I committed to this the moment the blue bitch drew that gun on me.
  132.  
  133.     “Y-you were too dangerous to send to the camps without it,” she forced from her lips, “Please, let me go and I’ll mention nothing-”
  134.  
  135. A second whack to the base, her horn began to gush underneath. The warden winced as blood started streaming down her brow.
  136.  
  137.     “I’m not done,” I snarled as I reached on her desk for the tablet with my free hand, “Tell me the password to this device.”
  138.  
  139.     “Venividivici, one word with no caps.”
  140.  
  141. Sure enough it unlocked, a still from her camera feed still displayed on-screen.
  142.  
  143.     “And one more thing, how many of these videos did you record?” I asked coldly, pushing Mendoza’s likeness against her nose. She didn’t answer until I pressed the muzzle into her wing sharply.
  144.  
  145.     “All of them,” she said as her chest quivered nervously, “I saved the feeds from all six of them.”
  146.  
  147. She looked into my eyes one last time, the reflection from something inhuman glaring back through her black sclera. The hellhound looked away as the butt of the revolver slammed against her master's injured horn with furor.
  148.  
  149. The black thorn splintered against stainless steel, another strike forcing it from the warden’s forehead. The warden tried to scream futilely with something wringing around her throat.
  150.  
  151. Jordan Briggs. Thwack. Rico Mendoza. Thwack. Drew Roberts. Thwack. Stephen Sayers. Thwack. Jamie Walker. THWACK. Nelson Travis. THWACK. The names of the men I lost in her prison imprinted against her face. She wheezed when my hand released her neck.
  152.  
  153.     “Stahl,” I sighed out, dismounting the demon’s navel, “The commander of Blue Shield, Jericho Lance was Ian Stahl.”
  154.  
  155. She turned her face, though the swelling in her face made it hard to tell whether she was looking at me or the stub gun aimed for her head.
  156.  
  157.     “And this is so you’ll remember it,” I nodded, finger against the trigger. She only winced as the room grew quiet, save the beating in my ears.
  158.  
  159. Thump-thump.
  160.  
  161. It wouldn’t fire.
  162.  
  163. Jesibel held still with her paws against her ears, tail tucked between her legs.
  164.  
  165. Thump-thump.
  166.  
  167. Why was the trigger so heavy?
  168.  
  169. Thump-thump.
  170.  
  171. Why didn’t she try to stop me now?
  172.  
  173. Thump-thump.
  174.  
  175. The hammer slammed down, a flash before my ears began to ring.
  176.  
  177. I committed myself to this.
  178.  
  179. The hellhound fell to her knees with her back turned.
  180.  
  181. The demon stared at me, fingers outstretched with blood trickling down her palm. The lead slug flew as her lips worded something through the tinnitus.
  182.  
  183.     “I’m sorry.”
  184.  
  185. Her lips went still, head slamming into the carpet once the bullet met its victim.
  186.  
  187. Thump-thump.
  188.  
  189. The carpet turned red, her arm jerking a second too late.
  190.  
  191. The ringing stopped, along with the beat.
  192.  
  193. Jesibel was long since gone, a plastic keycard in her place.
  194.  
  195. [Cell Block 3-S, High Security Clearance]
  196.  
  197. A red strobe began to light the office.
  198.  
  199. It was going to be a long day.
  200.  
  201. And now I had a dog to catch.
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