previous: Rise of Hellion ch11
I thought for a moment. “Shoot him in the foot.”
“Cool, thanks!” Anya did as I asked, firing a single round into Axel’s foot. Much to my surprise the gun had actually been loaded. Despite the fact he was wearing what appeared to be military-issue combat boots, Axel was now missing the top part of his foot (all of the toes, down to the arch.) With such a large blast one would assume it was a laser (to cauterize the wound.) Before I had a chance to see for myself Anya hit him in the head with the butt of his gun, knocking him out cold. “Let’s see what’s inside the invisible airplane.”
Baron reached out to me. “Nicki, give me your arm. Let’s see if there’s any medical supplies.”
Immediately I noticed this was in fact Tony’s vehicle. “Can you fly this?”
“I can fly anything,” Baron replied. His focus was on the first aid kit. “Take this.” He handed me a wrapped syringe marked with a medical cross. “It’s an all-purpose ampule. Stab it in to your thigh like an EpiPen. It should help with the pain, maybe even give you a boost of energy.”
As Baron went straight for the control panel, I quickly fished out an alcohol wipe (just so I didn’t give myself blood poisoning.) The process was pretty self-explanatory, and I’d never had an issue with needles. After a few seconds I felt a rush of energy. With a clear mind, I went for the back locker. If there was an embryo in a tube somewhere onboard, it would be in there.
I opened the door to find a mountain of clothes, papers and other supplies. I knew I had to dig deeper. Without the use of my stomach muscles, I simply forced myself to collapse on to the floor, landing hard on my hip. My hand reached out and grabbed something that felt like a glass vase. This had to be what I was looking for. I pulled it out just enough for the light to hit.
Anya screamed. “Baron, get us out of here, now!”
I could hear her shut the door, followed by Baron starting the engine, taking to the sky. I forced myself to sit up, barely managing to catch the object in my arms. I was slammed against the side wall, curling myself around the pod. Thankfully nothing broke.
Resting the pod on my lap I finally got a good look at its contents. it was filled with red liquid. I place two fingers on the surface. The color started to disperse and I was met by a small newborn hand. It was like we were separated by a window; my baby was moving, he was alive. “How do we take it out?” I asked out loud. the very idea was so insane I wanted to scream.
“We don’t,” Axel said, gripping his head in pain.
Anya seemed peeved that he was still alive. “That’s not really your call.”
“It’s not safe to try onboard an aircraft with no life support system!” Axel paused, struggling for air. “Baron, head east, to Washington DC. The guidance system will show you the way.”
Baron at the controls, already had us in the air. “Are you sure it’s safe? Won’t they be expecting us?”
“The right people will be expecting us,” Axel clarified, while attempting to move his injured leg.
Anya gripped his neck. “Can I kill him yet?”
“No,” I said with a sigh. “If he’s telling the truth, once we reach DC, we’ll need to be able to prove we’re not a threat.”
“Can I at least hit him again?”
“Sure,” I replied since I knew she was going to do it with or without my blessing.
Anya gleefully struck Axel with the butt of the gun, before taking a seat by my side. “Since you’re in charge, I guess I’ll take a nap.”
“I’m in charge?” Yeah, right. God help us if that’s’ the case. After a few seconds Anya was asleep.
Axel sat up, rubbing his temples as he took a moment to blink his eyes. “Can’t say I didn’t have that coming.”
“So, you admit to raping her?”
“I did what I did under orders of Maverick.”
“You expect me to believe that?”
“I have reason to believe she’s working for a powerful international cartel.”
“Kitsune?” I asked, throwing out the suggestion. Axel was, himself powerful. I could not imagine what kind of person he feared.
“Someone more powerful, on a global level.”
“Let’s say I believe you. why did she want my baby? Or any super baby.”
“I assume the people she works for have an end goal of acquiring a super army. In truth, she chose to take you because the warrior blossoming within your womb was too valuable to trust to a teenager.”
That sounded about right. “So, how did Tony trade his life for this Kinder surprise egg?”
Axel smiled and laughed followed by awkward silence. “You’ve been unconscious, in that room for nearly three weeks. Knowing Baron and Anya were in the area, I entrusted them to guard your body, until you had the strength to awaken on your own.”
“Oh, ok,” I said, trying to remain calm. “Now answer the question.”
“Tony and I tracked a vehicle driven by Maverick’s male accomplice. I have reason to believe it was Faust in one of his many disguises.”
I nodded again. “Ok.” I didn’t fully believe him but I needed him to keep talking.
“Tony and I, we fought our way into their Eastern Canada base. but only one of us was allowed to leave with the child’s remains.”
Axel pursed his lips. “I may have misspoken.”
“Why did you say remains! answer me!”
“Because I have no way of knowing if the child is actually alive or if upon disconnecting it from the power source…”
The baby was moving; he was alive, my son was alive. I needed to get the capsule open. “Anya, can I have the gun for a second?”
Anya yawned, opening her eyes. “Hand me the Kinder egg.”
Against my better judgement I did as she asked.
She smacked the side of the glass container. With a ping, followed by a shatter, the container opened and a small wet baby slid out falling on to the floor in front of us. “Easy-peasy.”
I looked at her frozen with shock and fear. “Um, thanks?”
“Your tits work, right? If not, we can always pick up some formula.” Anya’s calm demeanor put me at ease.
“Is he moving?” The child was the size of a typical premature baby. From his time submerged in liquid his skin was red and wrinkled like a lab specimen or a small mummy. He had a feeding tube and a few other lines stuck in his tiny chest. Clearly, he had been receiving oxygen and nutrients via the magical unknown liquid. His eyes were closed, and his hands were balled into fists. If he was still alive, he appeared to be in a lot of pain.
His chest moved ever so slightly as he struggled to breathe on his own. I was about to reach for my son when suddenly he cried, the sound erupting like a weapon of mass destruction.
This was not just loud; his voice was somehow shaking the walls, compromising the structural integrity of the aircraft. I had to find a way to calm him or he could take down the entire plane. I looked to Baron who had put on his helmet. He seemed calm, focused, in control of the steering, so I knew I had (at least) a little time.
“Grab a blanket, or give him your tits,” Baron said as he stayed focused on the control panel. “It’s your baby, you can do this, Nicki.”
“I know.” The baby was only a few feet away but it felt like I was crawling through mud. Since there was no blanket in the immediate area, I took off my blood-stained shirt, wrapping the little one. I had never swaddled a baby before but the act came naturally; cross the arms over his little chest, wrap him into a little burrito that I could hold in my arms. The tubes seem to fall out all on their own. Perhaps that was the reason he was crying; he needed a source of food.
Since my top half was already exposed, I thought I’d give breastfeeding a try. I aimed his mouth at my nipple, hoping for a miracle. Even if I had no milk, I assumed the baby would want to bite down on something. His tiny mouth latched on, sucking ever so softly. When he paused to take a breath, a stream of liquid dripped down my chest. I was actually feeding my baby! More importantly, the baby was finally quiet. “Is your name Abaddon?”
The baby opened his eyes, looking up at me.
“Can you understand me?” It was a silly question, but somehow, I felt a genuine connection. “Can I call you Abby?”
The baby giggled.
“I’ll take that as a yes.”
Baron cleared his throat. “I hate to interrupt but I think we’re still in trouble.”
“What kind of trouble?” I asked, standing up with my son in my arms.
“The kind where enemy homing missiles can somehow see through our cloaking.”
I took a seat by his side, attempting to see what he was seeing on the radar. “Are we flying over military air space?”
“On the way to Washington DC? Gee, I don’t know,” he replied in a derpy voice.
“I’m half naked, breastfeeding a baby on what might be the last flight of my life. I think I’m allowed to be a little braindead right now!”
“Sorry, it’s just this thing is supposed to have a cloaking system.”
“Are you sure it’s activated?”
Baron turned to me with a look of silence. “I swear I’m going to hit the eject button. And you can fly this thing.”
“Sorry.” I needed a plan. “…evasive maneuver.”
“Should I do a barrel roll?” he asked sarcastically, making a retro videogame reference.
“I’m not kidding. Take us up in to commercial air space!”
“You want to play chicken with a Boeing 747? Yeah, I don’t think so. It’ll be easier to just take the hit.”
I knew what he meant; ideally the shields and even the aircraft itself could withstand the partial damage. But the fact that this projectile seemed to be moving at the speed of molasses indicated that it was packing a punch. “I’ll bet you a anything whoever we’re up against won’t risk blowing up a plane full of vacationers.”
Baron sighed. “You may have a point.” Baron shifted up, rocketing us into the land of Delta, United and whoever else happened to be flying to the nation’s capital.
I could see by the radar we were heading out of range of the attack, while at the same time several planes popped into view. A message came over the radio. “Attention all pilots in the vicinity, please ground your aircrafts at the nearest public airport. If you require assistance please switch to a private channel.”
“That’s awesome!” I squeaked. “With all the planes being diverted we’ll have a straight shot into the city.”
“How do you know we’re not landing at an airport or a military base?” Baron asked, with genuine interest.
“I don’t know. I just assumed Axel was taking us to a secure location.” Since my son was finished nursing, he had turned his head, looking in the direction of the control panel. Was he feeding me information, from the future?
The missile sputtered out, disappearing off the radar completely.
With his foot still leaking copious amounts of blood, axel made his way to the front seat, resting himself between Baron and I. “When we’re about five miles out, you’re going to need my passcode to access the bunker.”
“Fine,” Baron said, tossing a wireless mic at Axel’s head. “Is there an official frequency or should I just start channel surfing?”
“I need you to lock on to a non-existent channel, doesn’t matter which one. Once we’re within range, my superiors will do the rest.”
Baron did as Axel instructed, scrolling the radio frequencies until we landed on a spot that was between two normal channels. The silence seemed to represent open space. Soon we were flying over (what appeared to be) a residential district.
I heard crackling, followed by a series of whispers. Since I was not wearing a headset, I couldn’t make out who was on the line, but I did hear Axel recite a password made entirely of numbers.
“Rodger that,” Axel said, ending his transmission.
Immediately we were grabbed by a reddish beam, like something out of a sci-fi alien abduction. I folded myself in half, with my head between my legs and my baby held close to my chest. We were sucked into the bunker like a child sucking shaved ice through straw, on a hot day.
“Axel is that you?” shouted a female voice from outside the aircraft.
“Yes, Dr. Toki, Axel replied, opening the door.
Dr. Toki? That was a name I hadn’t heard in a while. Peeking out the front window I could see the good doctor, dressed in full armor. She was shadowed by a dozen or so guards.
“Stand down!” she shouted to her small army. “You, over there, get a stretcher!”
Axel was helped on to a stretcher and removed from the room. We should have followed but now it was too late. “Everyone who is still inside, come out with your hands up.”
I looked to Baron and Anya. “Let me go first. If something goes badly you guys can back me up.” My friends nodded in silent agreement. “Dr. Toki, it’s me Hellion, I’m coming out.”
I exited with the baby in my arms. With a better view I could see that Dr. Toki was not armed, but her remaining guards were. “Hands up!” shouted a male guard.
“I can’t,” I said, shifting the baby in my arms.
Abby flailed his limbs, fighting his way out of the swaddle cloth. He was reaching for my breast, and in doing so, exposed his head for all to see.
Dr. Toki took a step forward. “Is that your son? He survived?” A smile spread across her face. “Of course, he did.” She reached her hand to his little face. “He’s a scientific work of art.” I expected her to try to take the baby from my arms, but instead she pulled back. “What’s his name?”
“Abaddon,” I said with a smile. “Or Abby.”
“Where did you get that name from?”
“I met him in a dream.” I adjusted the baby in my arms, getting a better look at his blue eyes.
“He told you that was his name?”
“Do you know what it means?”
“It’s a real word?”
“The origins of the word are Hebrew, referring to a fallen angel, the ruler of the abyss. However later Christian scriptures use the name to refer to Jesus after the resurrection. When he was at his full power.” Her voice trailed off. “We can discuss it further in the medical ward.”
She waved over a guard who already had a wheelchair ready for me. I was put in the same room as Axel. It was a long room with about twenty hospital beds. I was able to get in all on my own, even with the baby in my arms. A nurse came in with an IV kit (needle, tubing and alcohol wipes) along with a bag of ‘saline.’ I swatted her hand away, scooting backward on to the bed. “No thank you.”
The woman paused, with no visible reaction. “You just gave birth, you need fluids.”
I glanced at Axel, he appeared to be asleep. He said I gave birth weeks ago, so I was making the choice to believe him. “Fine, I’ll take a glass of water.”
“As you wish.”
I could tell by her robotic silence that she had delt with soldiers like me before; arrogant little teens experiencing their first taste of independence. “Where’s Dr. Toki?”
“She’s speaking to the remaining person on the aircraft.”
“Person?” singular, not plural?
“The pilot,” she clarified as she handed me the small paper cup. “He is a person, correct? I assumed his lack of facial features was due to the nature of the armor.”
I bit my lip, resisting the urge to giggle. She actually thought Baron was a robot? “I don’t really know.” My focus returned to the issue at hand: Anya. Was she still in the underground bunker?
“Let me take the baby while you finish your beverage.”
“No,” I said, emptying the cup in one gulp. “I’d prefer to keep him with me. For my emotional security.”
“If that will be all, I shall take my leave.” She put down a clean, TAC uniform and a small package of disposable diapers before exiting out the saloon style doors.
I got dressed and made my way to Axel’s bedside, with my newly clean, quiet baby. “Axel, you awake?”
“Yeah,” the older man replied with his eyes closed. “Just on a crap-ton of painkillers.” He ripped the IV line out of his arm, letting the blood sputter.
“Um, why did you do that?”
“Need to keep a clear head.” Axel sat up. “Where’s Baron and Anya?”
“The nurse said Baron is with Dr. Toki, but Anya is just gone.”
Axel chuckled. “Thanks for the warning.” He moved his legs off the bed, revealing a professionally bandaged foot. “Do you think she’s still working for Kitsune?”
“Honestly?” I thought back to what she said about Kitsune’s power and influence. The glamorous Japanese billionaire was a mafia queen and to be in her good graces was a guarantee of a life of luxury. “I could picture Anya presenting your head to her on a silver platter.”
That got a laugh.
“Are you ok to walk?” I asked, hoping we could go some place more private.
“Good enough,” Axel said, moving his thigh, to draw attention to the brace on his lower leg. “My first priority is Tony; alive or dead, I’m not leaving him behind.” There was a true sense of pain in his voice. “We’re safe here, but we need to use this time to formulate a plan.”
“How much does Dr. Toki know?” I asked, shifting the baby in my arms.
“She’s up to date on the procurement of your son; Maverick’s theft, Tony’s capture. She’s as invested as I am.” His answer made a lot of sense.
“Which was why you told her to meet you here,” I said with a nod. “What was your plan if Baron decided to take us to Mexico?”
“I was still in contact with TAC command, my location would have been monitored and Dr. Toki would have been diverted as necessary.”
“I guess that makes sense,” I muttered, rocking the baby against my shoulder. Looking around at the hospital walls, I suddenly felt sick to my stomach. “Has this all been about me?”
“You can’t stop thinking about your life choices?” Axel laughed. “I know the feeling.”
“Not just my choices. Anya was recruiting me for Maverick, by trapping Alexi who was actually Faust.”
“A real clusterfuck,” Axel muttered.
Somehow that gave me my answer. “Maverick was infertile.”
Axel turned to me with noticeable shock. “How did you know that?”
“It was the logical, educated answer,” I explained. “Either she wanted to recreate a version of Tony to use as her own personal soldier of fortune or she was hired to recreate Tony.”
Axel’s expression confirmed it all. “Maverick was more then willing to hand over her own child.”
He nodded, sadly. “But she couldn’t carry the fetus long enough for it to be viable.”
“That was why you were so certain my baby was dead. You were used to seeing failed experiments.” I reached for Axel’s hand. I needed the truth. “Are you sorry, about what you did to Anya?”
Axel sighed, looking towards the ceiling. “I could tell you I am, and you might even believe me, but I know Anya never will.” There were noticeable tears in his eyes. “I know she cut the baby out, all on her own.”
“She left me the fetus, along with a note. That’s how I know my soul is damned to Hell.”
Before I could respond the doors opened and Baron walked through with Dr. Toki at his side. They were talking, laughing. “Hey, Nicki,” he said reaching out his hand for a high-five.
“Hello,” I replied, making sure to not leave him hanging. “Glad to see you’re still alive.”
Baron then reached his hand out to Axel. “You’re looking good.”
“Thanks,” Axel said as he shook his hand. “Same to you.”
I couldn’t help but giggle. Baron’s gift was his ability to switch sides at will; and he could do this without the use of a weapon. Actually, the more I thought about it, he wasn’t a spy playing both sides; no, he was the ultimate peacekeeper. “What did you and Dr. Toki talk about?”
“I’m going to be staying on as your pilot, at least until the mission is over.”
I had a feeling he was referring to our new mission, to rescue Tony and take down Faust. “Sounds cool.”
My theory was confirmed when Dr. Toki produced and iPad and activated a hologram projection. “Faust cannot be allowed to make use of the data derived from Tony’s augmentations,” the young doctor explained, as she pulled up a Google maps image.
I shifted my son, turning him to see what appeared to be a house on a forested street. “What are we looking at?”
“This is a satellite image of the location where Agent Deadlock was forced to surrender while Commander Axel absconded with the fetus in the incubation tube.”
“Um, what?” I turned to Axel. “I thought you said it was an even trade.” I assumed Tony heroically volunteered to stay, to allow Axel to leave with the baby. “You left him behind and stole his only means of escape.”
“You know that’s not true!” Axel winced in pain; more emotional than physical. If Tony managed to get free of the building, he could…”
“Could what? If he managed to survive the teleporting supervillain, he could probably get a few miles on foot?”
“Nicki!” Baron grabbed my arm before I could slap Axel (or drop my premature baby.)
“I think you need to see this.” He was holding the iPad, tilting it at an odd angle, resulting in the 3d image becoming a flat panel. “Do you see those blue lights?”
“Yeah,” I replied in a whisper. “I do.” There was a trail of dots, the energy signatures from Faust using his teleport ability. I traced my hand through the projection. “It’s a puzzle.”
Going in order from top to bottom there appeared to be a distinct set of letters. The first two clusters seemed obvious enough; a zig-zag next to a round shape. “Zo?” No of course not. It was either ‘No’ or ‘On,’ but which one? The next part seemed to be a line and a small orb: a b or a p. “No place…”
“No place like home?” Baron asked.
“Faust is truly a sick…” I hugged Abby to prevent myself from swearing.
“Where’s home?” Baron asked, his hand still on my shoulder.
“New Jersey,” I said with a nod. “I was born in Atlantic City.”
Dr. Toki took a step forward, taking a better look. “Is your family still in New Jersey?” The question was normal, logical, but it felt like a knife to the heart.
Baron pulled me close for a hug. “That’s where you’re wrong. Your family is right here.”
He held me close, hugging the baby between us. “If Faust wants to call you out on the beaches of Jersey, he’ll have to face the wrath of an entire team of social fuck-ups.”
That made me laugh. Baron was more than a social fuck-up. I would be heading back home with one of the most powerful international terrorists by my side. This could be fun. “I can’t wait to show you my favorite beach.”
next: Rise of Hellion ch13