previous: Rise of Hellion ch14
“Well, I’m now a hundred percent certain he swallowed it,” Baron said. We had been searching for Tony’s mystery coin for well over an hour before I allowed him to use his custom hand-held metal detector on my infant son.
“Can you see what it is?” I asked, holding my baby’s tiny hand as he laid on the changing table. Abby seemed calm, even happy, making me seem like an overanxious parent. “Do we need to get him to a doctor or will it pass through his poop?”
Baron didn’t answer. his focus was on the baby’s limbs. He appeared to be following something. “This is strange.”
“The metallic material is dispersing into his bloodstream, focusing on the muscle tissue of his arms legs and head.”
Could you sound any more terrifying? “Is it hurting him?”
“No, he seems ok, but the way it’s dispersing is odd. Do you have access to a scanner with a visual output?”
“Not without Dr. Toki’s help,” I replied nervously.
“I’m sure she’s already well aware of your nighttime visit. And Axel will probably have your back.
Abby wiggled his arms giggling with glee.
“I was planning on going down to see Tony, anyway. I’ll just take him with me.
I got dressed and made my way to Dr. Toki’s lab. Walking downstairs I knew the door would be locked and I would need to ask the guard to be let in. Yet something felt off. Looking through the textured glass window of the guard office I could see the entire facility was dark.
“What the-? Dr. Toki? Hello?” I knocked on the door while smushing my chest against the window, desperate to see anything.
Abby was squirming.
“Oh, I’m sorry, sweetie” I took a moment to remove Abby from his carrier, bouncing him in my arms.
He was looking me in the eyes. I never took a parenting class, but I knew that at his age he was not supposed to be able to lift his head. “Mama!”
I did an involuntary jolt, nearly tripping over my own feet. “Did you just talk?” I had no idea of Abby’s actual birthdate but I knew for a fact he was too young to be speaking. “This is insane. I’m hallucinating.”
As I took a step forward to regain my balance, a light came on somewhere deep in the room. “Hello?”
Within seconds, the door unlocked and Dr. Toki appeared. “Hello Nicki.”
Before I could respond Abby lifted his arms, “Toki!” he was facing my chest, unable to turn his head completely around. “Toki?”
My focus was on my child, so When I finally looked up at Dr. Toki her face had been frozen in a look of shock (and perhaps terror) for a good five seconds. “Dr. Toki?”
“Tony gave it to you,” she said in a whisper.
“Gave me what?” Other than feeling the shape of the item in my palm I had no idea what the item even looked like. “The coin shaped thing?”
Dr. Toki took a deep, calming breath. “come inside.” She held the door open, allowing just enough light in.
The room was empty. “Where’s Tony?
“Come in, take a seat at the table.”
“You mean the coffin?”
“It was never a coffin.” Dr. Toki took a seat on the opposite side, flipping a few switches. “Regardless you are correct; Tony passed away last night, a few hours after your visit.”
“Oh.” I felt a sharp pain in my chest like a blowtorch drilling in to my organs. I removed Abby, instinctively placing him on the floor before doubling over in pain. I felt like I needed to vomit. “Why?”
“Tony was becoming too physically weak, or at least that’s what I have to assume. Like I told you before, I could have kept his physical body on life support for as long as it took to digitize his mental, emotional and genetic data. However, he seemed to have beaten me to it.” She turned to her laptop, pulling up a single image. Tony was inside the coffin, pinching the skin of his hands.
“What’s he doing?”
“Somehow Tony created a sample of his genetic enhancements and kept it hidden on his person until he was given the opportunity to pass it along to you. And you fed it to your baby.”
I noticed she was looking down at the spot where I placed Abby. “That was an accident.”
“No, it was fate.”
I felt two little hands touching my leg. My son was standing on two strong, steady legs. “Mama!”
“If you leave him with me, I will be able to evaluate the extent of his changes.”
“Ok,” I squeaked. “Abby, do you want to spend some time with Dr. Toki?”
My small baby turned to Dr. Toki. “To-ki!” Abby lifted his arms in her direction for a hug.
I felt more than a little hurt. “I guess that’s that.”
“Not quite; you and Baron need to return to Beloit, Wisconsin. I have reason to believe that’s where Faust will strike next.”
‘Because he’s looking to start a war.’ I went back to Baron and the three of us (four if you count Abby) held a strategy meeting. Baron agreed to fly us back to Beloit where we would reunite with the gang that we stayed with prior.
When we were on the plane, seated and comfortable, I got up the courage to ask the question that was burning in my mind. “Do you know a girl named Diamond?”
Baron laughed so hard he spit out a mouthful of coffee all over the steering wheel. “Oh, you mean Lucy. Yeah, she’s a flirty little shit. You actually met her?” Baron wiped the panel with his sleeve, still amused at what was clearly an inside joke. “What did she tell you?”
“She told me your real name is Leo.”
“oh, that’s it?” he pursed his lips. “did she know you were pregnant with Noah’s kid?”
“Yes….” I suddenly recalled what Diamon/Lucy said about Noah; he was sexy, fine, and I must have been a side chick. “Is Noah the father of her kid?
“Oh, fuck no!” Baron’s laughter started all over again. “I wonder if Noah ever thought about her…”
“They were together?”
“Not sexually,” Baron said as he cleared his throat. With a few calming breaths he managed to regain his composure. “Here’s the deal. Once upon a time there was a 15-year-old girl. This girl came from a long line of gang members; drug runners, smugglers, dealers and killers, but she had a secret talent; she was one hell of a hacker. It started as a way to download free games and movies for herself and her friends, but by high school she was like a mad scientist and the internet was her unwilling victim.
Noah took her under his wing, but let’s just say she wanted to be someplace entirely different.”
“But Noah didn’t sleep with her?”
“Hell no,” Baron paused, tilting his head. “Well, I think he let her give him a blowjob, after a night of doing meth.”
“A blowjob while on meth?”
“That’s hackers for you. As a weapons expert I prefer coke.” He pushed a few buttons, pulling up a digital map. “Anyway, little Lucy made it known that’s she wanted Noah’s beautiful blonde babies. That was when we headed out, taking a job in Venezuela. By the time we got back she was knocked up by whatever high ranking leader took her virginity.”
“She had a baby out of spite?” I could see why that was so unbelievably funny.
“I think it was a powerplay.” With the flight details set, he kicked up his legs. “Why are you thinking about Lucy?”
I told him about the woman in my dreams, the female soldier who appeared to be Lucy’s granddaughter. “She had a tattoo, Lucy’s dark skin and curly hair, and she had your…”
“She was wearing a variation of your hover boots.”
“There’s something you should know about Lucy. She co-authored the contents of the battery.”
“Is it possible she brought the idea to life?”
“Maybe, I mean anything’s possible but the idea that she had a granddaughter who perfected the system. That actually seems like something that could happen.”
“So, if the future granddaughter perfected the technology, it would be registered under her name?”
Baron shrugged. “I guess. If this future individual is affiliated with the military…”
“Faust could go back in time to target Lucy directly.” That made perfect sense. If Lucy was as brilliant as Baron claimed, she would make an ideal hostage. And a perfect replacement for Feng.
Baron’s hands froze, his face went pale. “I need to make a call.” He checked a few more controls. “the system is on autopilot for the next hour. I should be back before then.”
“Sure, sounds good.” I crossed my arms over my chest. Every part of my body felt unbearably cold.
I’m not sure how long Baron had been gone for, but according to the map we were nearly in Wisconsin by the time I opened my eyes. He took out his phone (an onboard device that was meant to be used while in the air) and connected it directly into a port.
“It’s what I was afraid of,” he explained. “You can see for yourself.”
Baron brought up a series of security camera footage. From what I could tell, Faust had teleported in with just a large knife. He then proceeded to cut down various gun turrets, and slice down guard after guard on his way to the kitchen area.
“Oh, God, no.” I could already see his plan; Faust was going to target the children and the elderly; he needed a hostage to force Lucy to come with him willingly. And that’s exactly what happened. He somehow knew exactly which child was her son. He held the blade to Denny’s neck, even making a show of slicing the little boy’s shirt. Lucy dropped her weapon and approached Faust. A swap was made; Faust threw the boy to the ground, and grabbed Lucy, teleporting away to God knows where. This was bad.
We landed in Beloit, parking in the secret underground lot. Baron exited the aircraft, shaking hands with someone named Jesus. The tall muscular Hispanic man was accompanied by two bodyguards, but my eyes went straight to the small figure gripping his shoulder. “Denny?”
The boy’s eyes lit up. “Ms. Ironman!”
I covered my mouth, trying not to cry. “Yeah, it’s me.”
The tall man put Denny on the floor, letting him run to my arms. “I missed you!” he turned to the man. “Grandpa this is Ms. Ironman, she’s a superhero!”
I reached out my hand. “I’m Nicki, or Hellion.”
The man smiled kindly as he shook my hand. “Yes, Leo told us all about you. I trust you’re as good as he says you are.”
With Denny in my arms, I felt confident and strong. “Thank you, sir, I won’t let you down.”
Jesus nodded, taking a step back. “So, what’s the plan? What are you going to do to get my daughter back?”
Baron answered for both of us. “Whatever it takes.”
We got in an SUV. Baron rode up front, speaking in Spanish to the gang leaders, while I rode in the back. With plenty of room to stretch out, I went to sleep with Denny in my arms (like a teddy bear.)
In my dreams I awoke on the roof of Walmart, overlooking the night sky. “You really think Faust is still in the area? How dumb are you?”
I turned to see Sundra wearing her full armor and she looked angry. “Look, I didn’t mean for this to happen.”
“Yeah, you don’t mean for a lot of things to happen.”
“What does that mean?”
“What do you think it means?” Sundra stood up, walking around while muttering in Spanish.
I did not feel like being bullied by a teenager from the future. “Speak English or shut the hell up!”
“Did you just tell me to speak English?” she asked with a look of violent hatred in her eyes.
“I’m sorry, ok!” I held up my hands in surrender. “I’m not a brave bad-ass like your grandmother or even your father. I’m not brilliant like Noah,” or any of the people who’d taken me under their wing.”
Sundra snickered, “Are you trying to talk your way out of getting punched in the face?”
“I just need a hint to solve this bullshit.”
“What did you invent with the technology created by Lucy and Noah?”
Sundra paused, biting her lip as she smiled. “Wake up and find out.”
I awoke with a jolt. Baron and his friends had arrived back at the compound and apparently, I had been left to sleep. I sat up, looking out the window. People were hard at work repairing the buildings and cars.
Suddenly a face splatted against my window. “Hi!”
I held my breath to avoid screaming. “Sundra?”
“Yup, it’s me.” Her image flickered like television static (or a buffering internet connection.)
“Are you real?”
“I’m more than real, I’m everywhere.” She flickered again, reappearing inside the vehicle by my side.
I touched her arm; she was a solid, physical form. “It was you.” My eyes lit up with a realization. “You were the one fighting Faust in the sky over New Jersey! Are you traveling on the same frequency as his teleportation?”
“See, you’re smarter than you give yourself credit for.” Sundra patted my back with her armored hand.
“So, um, I am the only one who can see you?”
“Honestly, I don’t know for certain. As far as my missions are concerned, I locate my target and attach myself to their signal.”
“Electromagnetic pulse; every living creature emits one, some cultures refer to it as a soul. The difficult part is latching on to the correct timestream, especially with people like Faust moving shit around all the time.”
“Is he from your future, or your timeline?” I gripped my head in pain. I was too dumb for this level of science.
“I believe so, but according to recorded sightings, he’s well over a thousand years old. He’s using a version of the time travel technology that’s been perfected in a way I can’t even comprehend.”
“Do you think he’s working with Kitsune and the Yakuza?”
“He’s either working with or for her organization,” Sundra explained with a tired sigh. “In the future there’s a massive war brought about by the Euro-Asian Alliance of Power; Russia, china, Japan, North Korea, working together to create a new superpower similar to the USSR. Where I come from, it’s believed that Faust is a Russian operative, with a primary mission of setting a specific timeline into reality. Then you came along and…”
Tap, tap, tap. We turned to see Denny looking in at us with his big innocent eyes. “Ms. Ironman, who is that lady?”
Sundra’s mouth hung open as she stared in shocked silence.
“You can see her?” I asked Denny through the closed window.
The little boy nodded. “She’s pretty, like the sunshine.”
I turned to see Sundra’s reaction. There were tears in her eyes. Before she could speak, an elderly woman swooped up Denny.
“There you are, you naughty little boy.” The woman started to carry Denny back in the direction of the kitchen.
Denny started to squirm and cry, “I wanted to see the sunshine lady!”
“You and your imaginary friends.” She shook her head before opening the door. “Ms. Hellion, the rest of the team is waiting for you in the basement bunker.”
“The massive computer room; yeah, that makes sense. I’ll be right there.”
My confidence seemed to be enough to convince the woman to leave. When Denny was out of sight, I returned my focus to Sundra. “You coming with?”
She nodded. “Yeah, I’m good. That was just a little intense, even for me.”
I walked in front of her, leading the way to the home of the supercomputer. Walking down the stairs I could hear Sundra’s footsteps (further proof she was real.) Baron was leading the meeting, going over a map of Faust’s recent movement. He then pulled up a second set of coordinates overlaying the two maps.
“…and that’s why I think Kitsune is arranging a meetup.”
“A meetup?” I asked.
“Yes, that’s why there is a possibility Faust is still in the immediate area, awaiting further instructions or perhaps even monetary compensation.”
“You think he’s looking to sell Lucy?” The idea made sense; Faust could not teleport through the timeline with Lucy, he would need a way to hand her off to Kitsune before making his escape.
“It’s just a matter of where they could meet up, for a trade off or even a demonstration.”
Sundra tapped my arm. “Check out Lake Michigan, near Kenosha.
“Is that in island?” I asked out loud. Baron and the other men looked at where I was pointing. “There’s a structure in the middle of the lake, but it doesn’t seem like a boat or any kind of small watercraft.” That, and the signal was too strong.
Baron agreed, that was where we needed to go. We headed back to the plane, with the group leaving in the opposite hidden tunnel (so, no one had to pass by where Sundra stood.) I moved to follow, keeping a close distance as to not be left behind.
Jesus briefly turned to me. He paused, before blinking his eyes and shaking his head.
“Everything okay?” Could he see Sundra? Did he assume it was a hallucination, brought on by his concern for Lucy?
“Yeah, fine,” the older man patted my shoulder. “We must hurry.”
“How do we know this isn’t a trap?” asked one of the other men. It was a good question.
Baron turned as we reached the plane. “It doesn’t matter; if we’re flying into a trap, we’ll fight our way out or die trying. Either way Faust must not be allowed to leave the country with Lucy.”
His confidence gave me strength, as did the fact that my baby son was safely back with Dr. Toki. I would be willing to die, to assure my son’s happy future with Sundra.
As we approached Lake Michigan, I looked out the window desperate to locate any kind of man-made structure. Among the sea of boats and watercrafts, there was a barge ship, the kind that carried cargo across oceans.
“Is it just me or is that not supposed to be there?” I asked, moving closer to Baron, to get a better look at the guidance system. The barge was radiating energy, like a giant yellow chunk of cheese just waiting for a mouse to take the bait.
“Looks like a siren with her tits hanging out,” said Lucy’s father.
“Well, we’re going to play it like a Tom and Jerry cartoon,” Baron explained. “First I’m going to drop the bait, then with all of their focus on her…”
My ears perked up. “Did you say her? As the only female on this plane, I’m assuming you mean me?”
“Yes, you. If this was a wedding Faust would’ve addressed the invite to ‘Hellion, plus one.” I knew he was correct. Faust would focus on me and (hopefully) while we were talking things out, the rest of the team could rescue Lucy. “Get ready to jump in thirty,” Baron added. “You won’t need a parachute, just pencil dive. And don’t forget to grab a weapon first.”
“Ok,” I said nervously. I selected a knife from the weapon cabinet (assuming water would damage a firearm.) I prepared to make my exit, with my blade secured at my waist.
“Door opening in 3, 2, 1,” his voice drifted away as I found myself falling.
I pulled my arms and legs into a pencil dive position, narrowly avoiding the roof of the barge. Two hands grabbed me, directing my body for a perfect two-foot landing. “Sundra?”
“You think I’d let you wiggle on the hook by yourself?”
“Can Faust see you?” I asked. “I know he did earlier, when you were targeting him.”
“Let’s just assume he can and will see me.”
We stuck together as we walked around to the front of the barge. If this was a normal watercraft this would be where the driver would be. There was no driver, no steering wheel, just an open trap door with a metal ladder. “Kind of on the nose,” I muttered.
Sundra jumped down before I could. At the bottom of the hole was a long hallway. There was no source of light but somehow, I could see the walls clearly. I guess that could be credited to night vision? Still, after a few minutes of walking in a straight line, I was beginning to feel claustrophobic. I pulled out my knife, hopeful that I could carve my way out of the enclosed space. ‘Tap, tap, tap…swish?’ The wall was not completely solid.
Sundra turned and gasped. “We were never meant to go in a straight line.” She kicked the wall in a few different places until she found a large enough space to jump. Once again, she vanished into the shadows before I could even respond.
I had no choice but to follow, sliding down a short drop before narrowly avoiding an electric fence.
“Stop!” shouted a familiar voice.
Pulling myself to my feet, I found myself face to face with Lucy. She was bound to a chair, with her wrists secured to a keyboard. And on top of all that she wore a necklace of explosives like something out of a horror movie.
“Of course, they sent you,” Lucy muttered. “I’m going to die here.”
The walls shook, as the sound of villainous laughter echoed through the room. “Yes, you are, but at least you’ll have company.”
Lucy blinked tears from her eyes. “Let’s get this bullshit over with!”
In the middle of the room was a large dark pool. “Is that Lake Michigan?” No, of course it wasn’t. The area was much too smooth, like a liquid crystal display. This was the monitor connected to Lucy’s keyboard.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls!” Faust’s voice seemed to be coming from a distinct direction. “For your viewing pleasure, I present: the portal to Hell!”
In the corner of the room, I could see what appeared to be a viewing booth. Was Kitsune here? I turned to Lucy just in time to see her mouth the words, ‘I’m sorry.’
With a few clicks, Lucy seemed to be powering on the hole. The display flickered between images; the beaches of California, the mountains of France, the glaciers of Argentina, coming to rest at a war-torn South American city which I couldn’t identify.
Suddenly a figure appeared; a male body crucified in the middle of a demolished church. As the image came in to focus, I could see it was my son Abaddon in his middle-age battle weary state.
Sundra screamed, making her presence known.
Faust’s laughter played again. “Sundra, so glad you could join us. As you can tell I’m watching these events from a safe distance.” He was in an alternate dimension. “In my world I’m a king, sitting on a throne of blood and bone. With a raise of my hand, I can and will eradicate my enemies, unless one of you ladies thinks you can stop me. Go to him, you know you want to.”
Who was he talking to? I glanced at Sundra. “What happens if one of us enters the pool?”
“That’s not a pool!” Sundra shouted in anger. “It’s a rip in the fabric of time itself!”
That answered my question. I placed my hand on Sundra’s arm. “Do me a favor, save Lucy.” I took a running leap, diving into the rift before I could change my mind.
My world went black.
“What are you doing!” my adult son shouted.
“You’re safe with Dr. Toki. You’re going to survive!” That was my logic; it didn’t matter what happened to me, because I didn’t play a role in this future war.
“Open your eyes! You’re now trapped in this reality.”
‘Oh, right.’ This could be a problem.
next: Rise of Hellion ch16