|More from Millennia2||Drama||PG-13||Here||Updates|
The tenth chapter of Book Two of
January 17, 2011
A flashback at the Leader, the Elite, and Bronson. The time portrayed is after Leah and Sierra leave the Rogues and after Xylia is attacked.
Morgan walked down the halls of the lower levels of Uluru, a grim look on his face. He turned a corner and faced a blank earthen wall, at which he lowered his hands and brought the wall down, revealing a lavish office. A green fire burned in a fireplace on the wall opposite him. An enormous map of the world dominated the wall on his left, N. America dotted by a few small pins. In front of him, sitting at a simple wooden desk, was the Leader.
"What is it Morgan?" he asked, a tired tone to his voice.
"The head of the CIA is here to see you sir."
"Where is he?"
"He's waiting in the garage."
"Get Carlson and send him up. Make sure Tenet doesn't see you."
Morgan left the room for a moment and turned to the right, raising the earthen wall covering the Leader's office. Morgan then hurried to the elevator leading to the employee lounge. A minute later, an announcement went in over the lower levels of the complex.
"Carlson, please report to the garage and escort our guest to the Leader's office."
The Leader waited there for a moment, arms crossed over his desk and supporting his head. He let out a deep sigh, feeling the heat from the unnatural fire start to singe his back. He lowered the temperature with a flick of the wrist and heard a knock at the blank wall in front of him. With another wrist flick, the wall came down softly and George Tenet walked in, the green shadows of the fire flashing across his face.
"Mr. Tenet, I must say this is an unexpected pleasure to hear from you today," the Leader began.
"Don't give me that, you know darn well why I'm here. I'm here to report on your little seizure of the bender camp near Knoxville." Tenet spat out.
"Yes sir, we were very successful. We annihilated the colony well before they could begin their plans."
"What plans?" he accused.
"Excuse me sir, I don't understand." the Leader stuttered.
"I sent troops to the camp after you reported it destroyed and you know what I found? I found, not what you told me was recognizable as a forest fire, but a war torn battleground! I found only three square miles of burnt ground, random strips of dead grass all over the place, and to top it off, a wrecked plane!"
"I'm sorry sir; it is sometimes hard to cover up the area of one of our operations."
"I also found grass in mummy shapes, and two of your agents stuck to the ground in earthen shackles!"
"Sir, we can't always guarantee an operation without casualties."
"And you know what else? You told me that this 'rebelling' camp was preparing for an attack to seize Ft. Dickerson in Knoxville, am I correct?"
"When my troops arrived, there was absolutely NO evidence of any sort of attack! Am I here for you to tell me that I authorized an attack on a peaceful bender colony?"
"No, we had considerable evidence that the camp was priming for an attack."
"What evidence? There was nothing there but a few burnt stumps and the smell of dead grass."
"It must've been destroyed in the attack."
"Mr. Tenet, I assure you that our sources were completely accurate. I can guarantee that the benders in that camp were set to attack Ft. Dickerson within the next two weeks."
"Then where was it! I need solid proof that I authorized a legal operation instead of a massacre!"
"And you have it Mr. Tenet. You have a hidden colony in the middle of a national park, whom we had no knowledge of, within favorable distance of Ft. Dickerson and the rest of Knoxville. The citizens fought my agents on sight, and the fight was brutal and hard. What more evidence do you need Mr. Tenet?" the Leader calmly said.
Mr. Tenet stood there for a moment, looking down at the Leader sitting in his desk.
"Look, I provide the funding and help you need for your little hunting agency. However, for me to keep doing this, I need more caution exercised during your little operations. Speaking of which, where's the fugitive you lost five months ago?"
"We've been trying to track her across the Midwest. However, it would be a little easier if you would allow me access to your resources."
"You know why I can't do that. If I let you have access, I would have everyone on my back about it. I can't have anyone else than necessary knowing about this."
"Fine. I'll do what I can."
"You better. One more incident like this, and I will have to shut you down. Understand?"
George Tenet left the room, the Leader closing the wall behind him. He waited for a moment, and then felt the rumble of the elevator to the garage start. He shook the ceiling above the office, and a few seconds later Morgan fell through, dusting himself off and fixing the hole.
"Yes sir?" Morgan asked.
"Call the Elite back. Now."
Kumara slammed the door of the jeep shut, the sound echoing in the dark garage. She walked angrily forward, the rest of her team following slowly with disappointed looks on their faces. Kumara reached the elevator first, and she waited impatiently for the rest of the Elite to follow. When they finally trudged over, the elevator slowly began to rise.
The elevator stopped and Kumara stormed out, following the familiar twists and turns and reaching the Leader's office. She banged violently on the blank wall, and it slowly lowered and let her in.
"What's this all about!" she screamed at him as she entered, the rest of the team entering a moment later.
"You know what this is about Kumara," the Leader calmly stated.
"Then go ahead and tell me!"
"What happened at Xylia?" he asked a look of fake curiosity on his face.
"What do you mean?"
"I mean how come I had the head of the CIA come here saying the colony looked like a battleground? Why did you leave survivors when I specifically ordered complete extermination? How come that the greatest bending team out there was delayed because you and Vayu started fighting? Why did you send Vayu ALONE out to attack them? On a childish dare!" the Leader asked, the tone of his voice rising.
Kumara stood there for a moment, biting her lip and looking down at the ground.
"Well?" the Leader asked angrily.
"I don't know." She replied in a whisper.
"You don't know? You don't know! You know darn well! You have put the entire mission at risk; you turned what was supposed to be a covert operation into a war zone! How could you be so careless and idiotic! Now I have the head of the CIA on my head!" he roared.
"I'm sorry, we just got into a little fight," she whispered.
"A little fight? You were both ready to butcher each other!"
At this Kumara looked up in shock at his knowledge.
"Don't give me that look; you know that I have to watch you! Even knowing that I'm watching your every move, you chose to fight and separate. That is not how this team works. I'm cutting you guys off the mission; the Enforcers will take care of the rest."
"What? No, we can do this! Just give us one more chance!"
"No more chances Kumara! You've had your chance, and because of your fighting and carelessness, I almost lost control of the agency!"
"It's not our fault! Look at these silent buffoons, they can't lead!" Kumara pointed to them, offended and shocked looks as responses. "If you'd let us have Morgan, then we,"
"You know why I can't!"
"You know why? Because without him, you're NOTHING!" Kumara screamed, the fire behind the Leader rose up the fake chimney and rebounded into the room. The fire spread around the edges of the room and caught the map, incinerating it in seconds. Adam turned around and slammed the wall down. The rest of the Elite followed in a hurry, the wall slamming back down.
The Leader extinguished the flames with an angry snap, relighting the fireplace to a natural orange.
"You know none of us are good leaders, we tear each other apart. That's why we need Morgan to lead us. To keep us together and to keep us alive." Kumara said, calming down.
"I cannot let him leave the compound, and while you may be right, you're staying here too."
"But we can do this!" Kumara shrieked.
"Would you just listen to me before you cause my ears to bleed? I need you here because I can't lose you either."
"What do you mean?"
"I need you and Morgan for a special mission I'm planning. And for this mission to go by without penalty, we can't have too much attention come to us."
"Because if the CIA can trace this mission back to us, they'll easily shut us down and send us all to prison for life."
"No prison could hold us."
"Even so, we would lose our control over the bending community. The world would realize that benders could bring good to society and hunt us down for deceiving them. For this mission to work there needs to be no evidence leading back to us."
"Then why do we need to stay here?"
"I can't let Tenet's agents see you either. He thinks that I called you back, and I need it to stay that way if this is going to work."
"But what about Leah?"
"I'll send Enforcers to pursue her and guard New York and they'll..."
"There're not enough Enforcers to guard every entrance into the city. Leah will get in one way or another, that's a guarantee."
"I know. For this plan to work, we need Leah in New York with the airbenders. But I can't leave the city unguarded, or they'll suspect something."
"What is this plan?"
"I can't tell you for now; we just need to be ready for when it comes. Take the rest of the team to the employee lounge, and Morgan will be there in a minute to brief you on what we're doing. Okay?"
Kumara forced the door to the lounge open and stomped in, heading to the nearest couch and dropping on it.
"What's the status?" Adam asked.
"We're grounded." Kumara spat out.
"What!" Adam roared.
"I tried, but he was unconvinced. He said he can't lose us or Morgan on account of a new mission he's planning."
"I don't know, he sent me out. He said Morgan will be here in a minute to brief us."
As if on cue, Morgan walked in, quiet as ever.
"So what's going on?" Vayu asked.
"Pack your bags. That's all I can tell you."
Bronson watched the plane soar into the cold winter sky, flying towards the northeast. He waited until the plane was well out of sight and turned his attention to the lake. A massive cloud of fog moved across the glassy surface, heading towards the airlock of the colony. Though he had a liable story, he knew he had to be back to the colony before the Mistress arrived.
Bronson ran through the outskirts of the city to his recon boat on the beach. He launched onto it with a wave and hurriedly moved his arms back and forth, pushing the boat out to the lake. Using the same motion, he paddled the boat forward towards the airlock, sweat pulsing down his face and onto his shirt. Within minutes, he reached the airlock and descended the boat just as the Mistress' boat stopped at the opposite side of the causeway.
Within minutes, Bronson's cutter was within the airlock and Bronson was rushing through the entrance to the main tunnel. Arriving in the dark expanse of the main tunnel, he signaled for the train to come as the airlock on the opposite side rumbled down. The Mistress' flagship dominated the room, covering almost the entire area. The deep purple sails clashed with light blue shone out even in the darkness of the tunnel.
Earth stairs appeared in the only open area of the airlock, leading up to the ship. Ten figures in pure black robes climbed down the stairs and stood at attention in the hallway to the main tunnel, five on each side. Bronson walked over the tracks in the middle of the tunnel and stood at the front of the assembly, facing the ship.
A tense minute later, a woman clothed in red, trimmed with gold at the sleeves, walked silently down the stairs. She was followed by another figure in black robes, slightly smaller than the Mistress. The person's face was obscured by shadow, and the person was unidentifiable as male or female. The woman stopped and waited, opposite of Bronson at the other end of the assembly. As soon as the other figure was behind her, she started walking down the hallway, the other figures totally silent.
When the Mistress reached Bronson at the end of the hallway, the figures lining it marched behind the dark figure, in two straight lines.
"Welcome Mistress. It is an honor to see you again." Bronson said, bowing and trying to remain calm.
"Yes Bronson," she said coldly. The Mistress began to walk forward, the dark figure and attendants marching after her. Bronson recovered from the initial confrontation and ran up to meet her, walking slightly behind her.
"Was your mission a success?" he asked as the train rumbled in and the company boarded it.
"None of your concern," she said simply. She sat down at the front of the train, looking forward at the tunnel rushing past them. Bronson, the dark figure, and the guards stood at attention behind her, struggling not to fall with the motions of the train. A few silent moments later, the train stopped at the south end and they departed, marching to the elevator.
The elevator slowly descended and they emerged at the lower tunnel, the colony train waiting for them. The entourage stepped up and walked through the supply and training rooms, arriving in the barracks.
"Guard, leave us." the Mistress called out, waking half the colonists in the room. At the sound of her voice, they sprang to attention and awoke those not wakened by her voice. In a few frenzied seconds, the entire company was at her attention.
"At ease." the Mistress announced in the same monotonic voice. The company relaxed and went back to their bunks, trying to regain peace after a panicked awakening.
"Bronson, come to the throne room, I need to speak with you," she said, walking to the antechamber to said throne room.
"Yes Mistress," Bronson replied, trying to hide the disappointment and fear growing in his stomach.
The Mistress and Bronson walked through the door to the antechamber, followed always by the dark figure. The dark tinted room sent shivers into Bronson as the Mistress procured a key and opened another door into the throne room, pushing the door slightly open.
"Stay here," she said to the figure. "Bronson, follow."
The dark figure walked off to a corner and leaned against a wall, waiting. The Mistress pushed the door open further, signaling Bronson to come in. The throne room was totally dark, pitch black in every direction. The floor was hardwood, a plain glossy brown. The Mistress held up a hand and snapped, the sound echoing in the darkness.
At the sound of the snap, an expanse of blue flames, stretching from wall to wall across the width of the back of the throne room sprang up. The room was illuminated with an eerie blue light, shadows dancing across the floor. With the newfound light, the throne was visible. On an elevated dais, four pillars held up a canopy of sorts.
Beneath the canopy was a simple red mat on another dais, four spikes on each corner of the throne. Behind the throne were two doors leading to the Mistress' and Second in Command's quarters. In the middle of the base level was a large representation of the Rogue's logo. Three wavy lines, the top and bottom a deep purple, the middle one blue.
The Mistress walked down the hallway between pillars, torches lighting in blue fire as she passed them. Bronson followed her, his eyes adjusting to the dark and the bright flashes of the blue flames. The Mistress stepped up to the first platform, then moved to the second, sitting cross legged, facing Bronson. Once she was seated, she snapped again, and another wall of blue flame raged up in front of her. Bronson kneeled down, waiting for a response.
"Bronson?" she asked, a dangerous tone to her voice.
"Where's the Avatar?"
Bronson stood there, dumbfounded.
"I'm afraid I don't understand Milady."
"You heard me clear enough. Where is the Avatar?"
"May I ask why you assume the Avatar is here?" he asked timidly.
"I'm not assuming anything Bronson, I know she's here. She's been here for the past two months, now tell me where she is." she replied, her tone rising.
"I don't know Mistress."
"Yes you do. You're lying to me Bronson."
"I'm not Mistress, I would never.." Bronson tried to explain, starting to gasp with shock.
"You would never?" she asked cruelly, stepping off her throne and walking towards him, the flames parting for her.
"I promise Mistress, I would never lie to you."
"Yes you would. But why? To protect her, perhaps?" she teased, circling around his kneeled form.
"Why would I need to protect her?" he asked, his breath coming in short bursts.
"Because the Avatar and her friend maybe thought that I was, perhaps, a murderer?"
Bronson knelt there silently, trying to ignore his hammering heartbeats.
"Well Bronson? Do you think I'm a murderer?" she asked coolly.
"Of course not Mistress." he struggled to utter.
"Then why did you send the Avatar and her friend away, on the very night I return from a three month mission?"
"I felt they had spent enough time here."
"LIAR!" she shrilled.
At the sound of her scream, she jerked her arms towards Bronson, and he went stiff where he knelt. She lifted him a few inches off the ground, then with a thrust of her arms, she threw him into a pillar. She then threw him into another and another, only stopping when she heard a satisfying crack from his ribs. He slid down the pillar painfully, landing with a thud on the hardwood floor.
"You sent them away because you felt I was a threat to their safety. Don't pretend to act shocked, I know everything that goes on in this colony. This is my domain, Bronson."
"I know Mistress." Bronson weakly responded.
"Do you? I don't think you do, nor anyone else here. My people have been slacking off while I've been gone; they've forgotten who really runs this place. There're going to be some major changes around here. And can you guess the first one, my dear?" she whispered to him.
"No Mistress." he sobbed pathetically.
"Pity," she said without emotion.
The Mistress took control of the blood in Bronson's feet and increased the pressure in his arteries. A few seconds later, Bronson screamed as he felt his arteries pop from the inside. She continued the motion up both his leg, popping every vein, every artery in her path. She arrived at the femoral arteries, and using his own internal bleeding, she cut through both his femoral arteries. Bronson screamed at the top of his lungs, then went silent as he bled out. As an extra measure, she took the spilt blood and coursed it up to his chest, slicing his stopped heart in two.
The Mistress lifted him and threw him in the blue fire, cremating him in seconds as the overheated flames consumed him. She walked over to the antechamber and opened the door, signaling the dark figure. As she left the room, she looked back, extinguishing every flame in the room with a snap of her cruel, malevolent fingers.
- This was the first chapter in which a preview was offered.
For the collective works of the author, go here.