Okay, the summary doesn't make it seem so, but this is a Chris and Bianca story, I swear. This will be the first time where I will write a story where I haven't plotted everything out extensively beforehand, so please bear with me. My new goal is to write longer chapters – so that will likely mean fewer chapters and longer lag times between updates. Oh – and even though this is a prequel, don't read this story if you haven't at least read 'No Fate' as it won't make sense otherwise as there will be a lot of cris-crossing between the two stories.
(To people who are reading Redundant – I WILL finish that story. I promise. I'm just encountering a severe case of writer's block regarding the last chapter. I've been channelling that frustration into this story.)Summary
The prequel to 'No Fate' finds Chris in the first leg of his journey on the road to the fulfillment of his destiny. In the midst of the war against evil, Chris and his rag tag team of friends endeavour to save their world, and Wyatt sends his deadliest assassin to stop his brother dead in his tracks.
Main Characters: Chris, Bianca
Secondary characters: Mainly Leslie and Darryl, as glimpsed from my 'No Fate' universe. Other characters from 'No Fate', such as Ben, Zach, etc may make an appearance as well – which is why you do need to read that story first. Please note that there is no plan for the Charmed Ones or Leo to appear in this story at the moment, though they may appear in flashbacks.
Rating: R, as this time, there will be extensive 'war/battle/action' scenes (I think) and very strong language, so consider yourselves forewarned.
Genre: Action/Adventure/Romance (I hope!)
Please note also:
Telepathic thoughts will be bracketed by double colons and italics - ::for example::
All other formatting (e.g. emphasis, etc) will likely just be italicised.Providence
(The prequel to 'No Fate' and story #4 in the series.)
What do I remember about those days at the beginning? …Anger, fear, despair – it seemed to permeate through the air, like a thickening fog rolling through the swamps at dusk. The unholy nights, the overwhelming feeling of evil running riot over the city. And yet – there was hope too. Frail, tender – just waiting for us to nurse it to life.
– From the journals of Chris Halliwell
San Francisco, circa 2022
Light blazed across the midnight sky.
The hair on the back of his neck rose, just before Leslie ducked instinctively. He felt the fiery heat from the fireball on the back of his neck, as it narrowly missed him, swooshing above him and smashing the front window of the jeep into oblivion.
"Go, go, go, go, go!" Chris yelled as he tore down the alley, hopping into the back of the jeep.
Leslie stomped down on the gas pedal, and the vehicle shot forward from its hiding place in the shadows of the alley way. As the jeep skidded onto the road, fire rained down from the sky, as Leslie jerked the steering wheel this way and that, frantically trying to avoid the fireballs.
"They're gaining on us!"
"Thanks for the newsflash, kid!" Leslie yelled back, derisively. "Tell me something I don't know already."
Chris ignored his friend. There were a half dozen demons on their tail, trackers by the looks of them. While incredibly stupid, the demons were unbelievably fast, and worst, direct magic didn't work on them. Wyatt had somehow managed to warp the creatures, giving them bony hide plates as well, making them near impossible for the Resistance to kill. And making them Wyatt's most effective minions.
Grimacing, Chris surveyed the pack behind him, looking for a way to throw their enemies off. Burned out ruins and remains of buildings smouldered in the night, the skeletal frames lining the streets. Most of the city had been obliterated in the first wave of the attacks, when Wyatt had first decided to establish his rule. Waving his hand, he concentrated, using his telekinesis to jerk the remains of the building on his left – pulling on the debris, causing it to tumble forward, landing on the ground in front of the trackers, flattening a couple of them under the pile of rocks.
Tires squealing, Leslie yanked the steering wheel to the left, causing the jeep to precariously lean to the side, the tires on the right spinning uselessly in the air before the jeep slammed down on all four wheels again.
"We gotta ditch the jeep! We'll have better luck losing them on foot!" Chris yelled from behind Leslie, as he surveyed their pursuers behind them.
"This is our last vehicle Chris! We can't ditch it!" Leslie yelled back, glancing over his shoulder at the young whitelighter. Chris' hands were wrapped tightly around the jeep's frame as he clung on for dear life. Chris nearly tumbled out as the jeep suddenly jerked again to the left as Leslie barely missed the pothole in the road ahead. Braking hard, Leslie fought for control of the wildly careening jeep, as it veered off the badly damaged road.
"One jeep isn't going to win the war, Les! We've got to ditch it! Now!" Chris yelled, turning in his seat to see the pack of demons charging behind them. "Right now we're a moving target, with a huge bulls eye on our back. We need to get back underground, and we can lose them in the tunnels."
"Can't you just orb us?" Leslie yelled back, his attention focused on the bumpy terrain. He heard a loud bang, and felt a sharp drag on the steering wheel, indicating to him that they had likely blew a wheel.
"Ben finally got that blocking spell to work – no can do. We gotta make our way back on foot," Chris shot back over his shoulder as using his telekinesis he waved away a fireball hurling towards them.
"I thought you said you wrote the spell so that it would just block demons from shimmering in!"
"Look – not everything always goes according to plan, okay? Case in point!" Chris replied angrily, his attention split between keeping watch out the back of the jeep and arguing with his friend. As he refocused his attention back over his shoulder, "Holy sh-t! Incoming! Jump!"
The two men leapt out of the moving jeep, just as a bolt of energy crashed down from the sky, completely destroying the vehicle with a violent explosion. Smoke filled the air, and flames climbed the sky, arising from the crater that was all that was left of their jeep.
Leslie groaned, as he struggled to get to his feet, every muscle and bone in his body aching. Leaping from a speeding vehicle was suicidal, to say the least, if it wasn't for the fact that Chris had used his telekinesis ability to 'soften' their landing. His eyes watered from the smoke, which was much more than he would have expected the destruction of the jeep to generate when he realized Chris' was murmuring.
Releasing the spell, Chris covered his nose with his sleeve, indicating to Leslie to do the same. "I used my magic to increase the smoke, to hopefully give us enough cover to lose those demons."
Nodding his appreciation, Leslie proceeded to cover his nose as well, by pulling up the collar of his t-shirt over his nose. Jerking his head to the left, Leslie pointed to one of the abandoned buildings in the once downtown core of the city. "I think we can enter the tunnels through there."
Without further discussion, the two men began to jog towards the building, crouching low to avoid the smoke cloud as much as possible. The angry noise of demons arguing amongst themselves on how to proceed sounded less than 20 feet away, indicating just how precarious their situation was.
Slipping by the group of demons, the two men silently entered the abandoned building, searching for the emergency staircase. Chris blinked, pausing just inside, waiting for his eyes to adjust to the bit of light from the moon that gave the room a soft glow. Following his friend, the two stuck to the sides of the room, covered in shadows, as they edged their way to the door at the back. Cautiously, Leslie opened the door, wincing as the heavy metal door gave out a loud squeak. When no demons jumped out at them, he sighed, and quickly entered the back staircase, and proceeded to descend, with Chris right behind him.
The flickering lights from the emergency lighting provided just enough of a light source to allow the two Resistance fighters to descend the stairs. Further and further, the two descended, until they couldn't go any further. Opening the door at the bottom of the stairwell, Leslie cautiously poked his head around. He paused – for just a moment, using his telepathic abilities to 'look' for any signs of life. Reading nothing, the telepath exited the stairwell, indicating for Chris to follow him.
Before them lay a steel concourse, one of the many underground structures that were connected by a multitude of tunnels beneath the city. In its prior life, it had been an underground shopping concourse, much like an underground city, linked to numerous buildings in the downtown San Francisco area. Now it served as the home base of the Resistance.
The tunnels were mainly unguarded; the complicated layout acted in favour of the Resistance against those unfamiliar with the miles of underground tunnels, as in this case, demons. Because of the destruction of the buildings above ground, and the resulting damage beneath, not all tunnels were safe due to the instability of the foundations and some ended in dead ends. The 'no-orbing' spell, coupled with the cloaking spell that the Resistance used to 'hide' the location of the base, had allowed the Resistance to effectively hide from their enemies and was as safe a location that could be found in the city.
Lights flickered on and off, contributing to the moving shadows against the walls. It was empty…silent…dark. As the two carefully padded across the concourse, their footsteps seemed to echo and bounce off the walls of the deserted hall. It was after the destruction of the city, that the first buds of the Resistance had grown here, in the underground.
::So since you're empty handed, I'm guessing you didn't get it::
Chris glared at his friend's back, as he thought, knowing Leslie would read his thoughts, ::No, I didn't get it. You were right. Happy?::
::Oh yeah, really happy. I woke up this morning and thought – what a great day to go on a suicidal mission and practically die for no good reason.::
Chris snorted softly. ::I thought sarcasm was my forte.::
::Sarcasm is your b-tch. It's MY forte.::
Chris rolled his eyes. ::How far is it to base again?::
The interior of the strong hold was grim and gray…the fortress perpetually cold.
She stood before him…unmoving…unafraid. After all, she was a Phoenix – the most deadly type of witch assassins ever.
Rather, she appeared to be unafraid.
Slowly, she moved toward the man seated in a high backed chair at the far end of the huge chamber.
Inside, she was shaking. She could feel the thrust of power as soon as she had entered the door. It was strong, compelling…evil.
She had expected power – he was the 'twice blessed.' But she hadn't expected this…not this sense of cold, stark evil. When it came down to it, he was mortal, and had had a family once.
He watched her, lazily, like a tiger toying with its prey. His lips pulled back into a sinister smile, "I am told that you are a great warrior, but I have my grave doubts."
She burned with humiliation.
His faint smile was chilling. "I have a job for you. If you complete it, I will reward you. If you do not, you had best be dead."
Waving his hand in front of a pool of water, he indicated for the Phoenix to come closer. Peering over the side, she watched as the ripples formed an image of a young man.
"That is my brother."
Blinking, the assassin jerked her head up to stare at Wyatt in disbelief. "I was told that all your family perished during the…event."
Wyatt shrugged. "All those that mattered. My brother – was out of my reach, at the time. Given his lesser powers, I gave him no further thought. At the time."
She waited patiently for him to continue.
"It has now come to my attention that my brother has had the audacity to actually try to organize a rebel force against me." Wyatt spat with disgust. "Ungrateful brat."
Her right eyebrow rose, "You mean, the Resistance?"
Wyatt nodded, unsurprised that knowledge of the rebel force had perpetrated into his stronghold. "What do you know of this Resistance?"
She shrugged, "I have heard that there is a group of witches and mortals trying to form an organized front in a futile effort. They stick to the shadows, mostly targeting 'hit and run' missions. A nuisance, really."
Wyatt's fist slammed down on the nearby table, rattling the dishes and glasses on the surface. "At first I thought to let little Christopher have his fun. But lately he had become more and more annoying. Taking things that don't belong to him, like the books from Magic School, or interfering with my demons as they establish my rule over the mortals. He is becoming a thorn in my side."
The Phoenix nodded. "And so you wish for me to?"
"I wish for you to eliminate him! Kill him! I cannot allow my own brother to muster any kind of resistance against my rule. The demons would think me weak, emotional – human. This must end, now – before I have my own uprising," Wyatt bit out angrily. "My demons have told me they have spotted him on the outskirts of city, even as we speak. I need you to leave immediately." He nodded at the demon standing by the door, "He will take you where you need to go."
"Do not fail me."
Nodding her agreement, she bowed, and headed towards the door of the chamber. Her hand on the doorknob, she paused, as she glanced back over her shoulder.
"Consider it done."
Amateurs, she thought, as she picked up the russet coloured thread, where it had been caught on a piece of wire. She spat in disgust. It was like taking candy from babies. No challenge.
Swiftly, she moved through the darkened halls, moving stealthily on the balls of her feet to avoid making noise. Up ahead, she could hear the two as they made their way through the tunnels. To them, they were moving quietly, but to her, an experienced tracker and assassin, every footfall was like a banging on a drum.
She had shimmered to just outside the city with Wyatt's demon, one of his 'lieutenants', if she remembered correctly. She had arrived on the scene just as the vehicle had gone up in smoke. She had signalled the demons to remain where they were, preferring to hunt her quarry alone. Trailing them into the tunnels had been tricky – Wyatt's lieutenant had mentioned that her prey was travelling with a telepath. Not wanting to alert them to her presence she had stayed far behind at first – she knew that the telepath would unlikely use his powers after an initial scan. Fools, she thought, letting petty little things like ethics interfere with using their powers. At least it makes my job a lot easier.
She had been trailing them for some time now, wanting to lull them into a false sense of security. The only downside to this was she couldn't shimmer out if things got hairy. Somehow, the witches had cast some kind of blocking spell – she could practically feel it imposing on her powers. Scowling, she ignored it – highly unlikely that she would encounter any problems with taking out the two men. They were like babes in the woods, after all.
Moving nearer, she tilted her head to the side, listening – she could tell there was, indeed, only two of them. Whispering, the two were making enough noise to raise an army, in her humble opinion. If Wyatt's demons were correct, then one of them was indeed the leader of the Resistance. Her lips curled in a sneer, What kind of leader performs missions himself? He's practically asking for me to take him out.
She was within 15 feet of them. In the flickering light, she could just make out the shape of two men. Slowly, she unsheathed her dagger. She smiled as she felt the weight of it in the palm of her hand and the feel of the cold metal against her skin. Palming it, she snuck closer, creeping against the side of the walls, where the shadows provided just enough darkness to cloak her movements.
One of the men paused, turning slightly, "Did you hear something?" His companion ignored his friend, continuing forward.
She blinked, recognizing the profile of the young man as her target.
"Les – I thought I saw…"
And she launched herself at him.
He and Les had been travelling for some time now. Long enough for them to establish that they were alone in the tunnels. Quickly reverting to speech, Chris asked, his tone low, "Did you send ahead to let them know we're coming?"
Leslie nodded. They had ceased communicating by telepathy as soon as Leslie had established the all clear. Although good friends, Leslie still understood the discomfort Chris had with sharing all his thoughts with him 24/7. Respectful of his friend's privacy, and of other's, Leslie had never abused his power. Besides, if he let down his shield all the time, he would likely go crazy from all the 'noise' other people's thoughts caused.
The hair on the back of Chris' neck prickled, causing him to whisper, "Did you hear something?"
Leslie kept moving forward, obviously not hearing his friend's question. Chris paused, his eyes scanning the shadows. What had Darryl said to him? 'Listen to you gut, kid. It's your best defence.'
Tensing, Chris thought he saw a slither of movement in the shadows, "Les – I thought I saw…"
Instinctively, he pack-pedaled as the shadows seemed to launch themselves at him. He winced, as he felt a burning sensation across his chest as the metal of a dagger diagonally sliced him across his upper body. Using his telekinesis, he waved his right hand, flinging his attacker against the wall, clutching his chest with his left. Gasping at the white, hot pain currently searing his chest, he staggered back against the nearest wall, glancing down to watch the warm, red blood flow through his fingers and gush onto the ground beneath his feet.
Hissing, the assassin rushed towards her prey again, only to be met by Leslie. Grappling with her, Leslie kicked out at her, narrowly missing the slash of the dagger. Stumbling back, he began to cautiously circle the woman, one eye on her, the other on his friend, who was leaning closely against the wall of the tunnel, bleeding heavily. "Give it up lady. I'm a telepath – and I've already called for help. You're going to have twenty Resistance fighters descending on your sorry piece of ass in five minutes."
She watched patiently, waiting for an opening. Knowing it would be just a matter of moments before she was discovered, and buoyed by the fact that she could not fail, she threw her dagger. But not at Leslie.
Unable to stop her in time, Leslie reached out uselessly with his hand to try to stop the flight of the dagger. He watched, as if everything was in slow motion, knowing he would never make it in time.
Chris pushed himself away from the wall, and with his other hand, using his telekinesis again, hurled the dagger to his left, embedding it deeply into the far wall. Exhausted, Chris slid down to the floor with a thump, drained from the combination of the loss of blood and using his magical powers in such a weakened condition.
Reassured that Chris was still alive, Leslie whipped around to confront the woman, ready to grab her. Already, he could hear the pounding of feet as the cavalry neared.
But she was gone.
"Les! Chris! Everything okay?"
Five men suddenly appeared, seemingly materializing out of the darkness of the tunnels. All dressed in black, Leslie recognized the team leader as one of their friends, Zach.
Glancing over at Chris, who was pale as a ghost, Leslie rushed over to his friend, putting his arm under one of Chris' shoulders, "Help me up with him. We've got to get him back to base to a whitelighter. Now."
Motioning with his hand, Zach indicated for his team to pick up the young leader of the Resistance. He peered over his shoulder into the darkness, "What happened?"
"Long story." Leslie shot a glance into the darkness behind him, jerking his head in the direction behind them. "Make sure no one follows us."
Zach nodded. "I'm on it."
"Are you going to be all right?" Leslie asked, as he entered the infirmary.
"Just dandy," Chris grimaced, as he waved away the whitelighter, nodding his thanks. Taking the hint, the whitelighter left the room, nodding goodbye as she passed Leslie on her way out. "It's just too bad that magic can't fix my shirt too."
Scooting out of the way, Leslie moved forward into the room, eyeing the blood on his friend's shirt. While shallow, the cut had still generated enough blood to make it look like Chris was bleeding like a stuck pig, and as a result, thoroughly soaked Chris' shirt in the process. "You were damn lucky. That lady was a professional. I've never seen anyone move that fast."
Chris closed his eyes, leaning his back against the wall where he was seated on a counter. His stomach felt a bit queasy, and with a will of iron, he forced himself to calm down and quelled his queasiness. So much for brotherly bonds. Opening one eye, "Can we talk about something else instead?"
"All right. How about Darryl wants to see you in the command room stat?"
Gingerly hopping down from the counter, Chris looked down at his blood-stained shirt, "I think I had better change first."
Leslie grinned, "No time."
Quirking his eyebrow at his friend, Chris asked warily, noting Leslie's amused smirk, "What does that mean exactly?"
Leslie's grin widened, waving his hand indicating that Chris should leave the room first, "You'll see. After you."
Still eyeing his friend suspiciously, Chris moved towards the door, and exited. Immediately two men stepped forward, one on each side of him. Chris groaned, "You have got to be kidding me."
"Sorry, Chris. Darryl's orders," Zach shrugged. "We're to escort you to the command room."
Chris sighed. He knew it was useless to argue. He might be the so-called 'leader' of the Resistance, but when push came to shove, Darryl held quite a hold over the core group. Especially when he claimed to be acting in Chris' 'best interests'; in this case – assigning him two bodyguards. "Let's just go, okay?"
Leslie, Zach and the other man whom Chris didn't recognize quickly fell back, tailing Chris as he made his way through the steel tunnels of the underground base. Passing some of his friends, he smiled slightly at their faces, as they were clearly shocked by his blood-soaked tee-shirt. He smirked to himself, thinking about the rumours his injury would make before nightfall.
Entering the command room, he nodded at the telepaths currently seated around a table. The telepaths were the Resistance's key advantage in the war against Wyatt. Having telepaths allowed the Resistance to keep tabs with their scout teams instantaneously, communicating orders literally at the speed of thought. Wyatt's demons couldn't counteract the effectiveness of the Resistance's communication system because, as demons, they couldn't trust each other enough to allow telepathy amongst themselves. It was this weakness that Chris thoroughly exploited when he had first worked with Darryl to establish the Resistance.
In the background, he could hear Leslie and Zach murmur, before Zach and the other bodyguard left the command room. After all, if Chris wasn't safe here, he wasn't safe anywhere.
Turning his attention to the sound of a door opening, Chris noticed Darryl frowning at him from the entranceway of a smaller meeting room connected to the main command room. Rolling his eyes, he walked towards his good friend, shutting the door behind him.
Studying Darryl from beneath his eyelashes, Chris was briefly reminded of the early days in the wake of Wyatt's domination. Cold, hungry and scared – Darryl and Chris had huddled together, laying down the foundation of what would become the Resistance. Together, the two had used their contacts – Darryl with the mortal world, and Chris with the magical one, to establish a base of operations as quickly as possible. While Wyatt had turned his demons on the loose, kidnapping people, demanding the extinction of all witches and threatening to wipe out what little remained of the human race, Darryl had quietly recruited his friends from the police force, who in turn recruited their friends. Chris had worked with the whitelighters to evacuate as many witches as possible, working with them to hide and cloak their presence from Wyatt's army of demons. Working with his honourary uncle in such close quarters, Chris had developed a healthy respect for him – relating to him as an adult now, but with the affection only a long time family friend could generate. It was this affection that gave Chris the patience to deal with his friend now.
Darryl immediately launched into a tirade.
Biting his lip, Chris waited patiently for his friend to finish. It was amazing – here he was, the 'leader' of the Resistance, and he was still being yelled at. Talk about no respect. Chris allowed himself a small smile, Just like old times.
"I told you before Chris, and I'll say it again – you just can't go running off every time some hare-brained idea enters your head! There's a chain of command here. You, better than anyone, have to understand that!" Darryl finally concluded his lecture rather forcefully.
"And I told you – I won't, no, I can't send other people to do something I wouldn't do myself. Darryl, as much as you don't want to admit it, sometimes I'm the best person for the mission. I've got the skills and the knowledge, something that I can use to my advantage. End of story. It could make the difference between a suicidal mission and just a risky one," Chris replied wearily. This wasn't the first time they had had this argument.
"And that's exactly my point! Chris – you have the knowledge. Not just because you were the son of a Charmed One, but also because you know Wyatt best. You can guess his moves, as you've proven time and again. Everyone is counting on you. If something happened to you, if something went wrong – where would the Resistance be?"
Chris began to pace. "I weighed the pros and cons in my head. The pros far outweighed the cons, Darryl. At the end of the day, I know the Resistance would still continue, because you'd continue it. Let's face it – you know Wyatt just as well as I do. Maybe even better, given you've had the advantage of observing from an adult perspective all his life. And Ben's magical knowledge far outweighs mine. He's been at it longer, and he has had the advantage of working with the Charmed Ones as an adult. Frankly – sometimes I just don't remember stuff exactly right." Chris paused, as brief memories of happier times flooded his conscious, "It's been a long time."
Darryl sighed, knowing that whatever arguments he had, Chris had as convincing counterarguments. He took one last stab, "You do realize he's obviously sending assassins after you now. He's never done that before. That's upping the ante."
Chris grimaced slightly. "On the one side, I'm flattered. Obviously, Wyatt thinks I'm finally a big enough threat for him to send someone after me directly after ignoring me all this time. That must mean we're doing something right. On the other hand, it's not everyday you learn your only family has put a price on your head."
Darryl's eyes dropped, keeping silent.
Chris continued, "Besides which, if you don't trust the people in our own base, who can you trust? It's a waste of resources, Darryl, assigning a couple of people to watch my back. I've got missions I need someone with Zach's abilities to perform, and I certainly don't need anyone but Les to watch my back in the field."
Darryl's jaw tightened. "You think I'm overreacting."
Chris shrugged. "Just a bit. Frankly – I'm expendable. Face it, Darryl. You and everyone else here could carry on just fine without me. We set it up that way, remember?"
Darryl grimaced his agreement. Moving over to the solitary desk in the room, he flipped open a book, stabbing his finger at something, "So did you get it?"
Chris stopped his pacing, looking over at Darryl. "I'm sure Les told you I came back empty handed."
"And now I want to hear it from you," Darryl replied.
Shrugging, Chris picked up a pencil from the desk, absently twirling it with his fingers, "Everything went according to plan. I snuck into the Manor, went straight to the attic. Found the Book."
"So why didn't you take it?" Darryl asked, his expression confused. "Wasn't that the whole point of this little exercise?"
Chris threw the pencil down on the desk with frustration, "Except it wasn't the Book. It was…some sort of…holographic image of the Book!"
"He must have moved it to a more secure location. Makes sense, really. After all, we had just gone after the books at Magic School. Logic stands to reason that we'd try to take the Book of Shadows as well," Darryl replied, sympathetically.
"Yeah, well – it sucks," Chris grumbled, "And we were so damn close. Remind me to tear a strip off of Phinks next time," referring to one of the demons that they used to gain some inside information on Wyatt. "That was some lousy intel."
Darryl relaxed a little. "It'll be my pleasure. I'll make sure to bring it up, don't you worry. I never liked that guy."
Moving over to the chair opposite Darryl's, Chris plopped himself down, "So how goes the council stuff?"
Darryl glared at the younger man, "Have I mentioned how many times I hate this idea? I'm telling you, Chris, the more people you get involved, the more bureaucracy you're going to create and nothing will get accomplished."
Leaning forward, Chris grabbed the recently abused pencil off the desk and began to scribble some notes, "Darryl – I admit, it's not going to be easy, but it's the right thing to do. Get it done. I want the first council session up and running by next week."
For someone who claimed he wasn't a leader, Darryl acknowledged that Chris gave commands like he did. With a pointed stare, he replied evenly, "I'm having trouble filling some of the spots. This shouldn't be a popularity contest, you know."
Finished scribbling, Chris tossed the piece of paper to Darryl, and got up from his seat. "I've written down a couple of suggestions. Make it happen, Darryl."
Darryl picked up the piece of paper, studying it, before exclaiming incredulously, "You've got to be kidding me. I can't believe you have him down here as a possibility. The guy's a pompous bastard."
Chris opened the door, exiting the room. "Next week, Darryl."
Cursing, Darryl yelled at his friend's back, "But – come on, Chris. Odin?!?"
"So what was Darryl yelling about?" Leslie asked, jogging alongside Chris, as they quickly made their way through the base. "And where are we going in such a hurry?"
The former shopping mall had been retrofitted as much as possible to accommodate the Resistance and its human population. More than ten kilometres in length, the current corridor that they were passing housed most of the Resistance fighters. Previously stores, the units had been converted into quarters for the thousands inside the base.
"Darryl was yelling about the council stuff again. And I'm going to my quarters to change my shirt. I don't know where you're going," Chris said, rather pointedly.
"Heh. Yeah, I gotta admit – you've been frightening a lot of kiddies with that shirt," Leslie wisecracked, swallowing his chuckles, as the two came to a halt in front of Chris' quarters.
Chris stopped to turn and glare at his friend, "Don't you have somewhere to be?"
Leslie smiled innocently, "Not at the moment, boss. I'll just stand out here and do some people watching."
"Oh for Pete's sake," Chris grumbled. The door to his quarters resembled those of submarines, made of heavy metal and complete with a wheel as the locking mechanism. He gripped the wheel of the door to his quarters, rapidly turning it to unlock the door and pushed it open. Stepping over the ledge, he entered his quarters, indicating for Leslie to follow him inside. "Just tell me where we stand on rations."
Shrugging, Leslie entered Chris' quarters, closing the door behind him. The room, about twelve by twenty feet, was one of the largest on base. Sparsely furnished with a bed, couch, and a small table with a couple of chairs, it was unnaturally tidy. He watched as Chris grabbed a shirt from a metal cabinet that served as his closet and then disappear into the bathroom at the back of the room. Seating himself at the table, Leslie shouted over the running water, "Zach says our biggest problem right now is fresh water. We just don't have access to a fresh water source. And the bottled water we got on the last run isn't going to last much longer."
Chris emerged from the bathroom in a clean t-shirt, chucking the blood-stained one into a nearby trash receptacle. "Define 'much longer.'"
Leaning forward, Leslie rested his elbows on the table, "Three weeks, give or take a day, even with everyone on strict rations."
Rubbing his face wearily, Chris paced back and forth. He had a tendency to do so when he wanted to think. "We're bloody right on the coastline. There's got to be some kind of fresh water source accessible to us somewhere."
Leslie shook his head. "The ocean's salt water. We can't drink that."
Chris rolled his eyes, "I admit I only have a high school education, but I'm not an idiot, Les. What I meant was, there's got to be rivers or streams or something that would run back into the sea, right?"
Leslie's expression was a complete blank. "How the hell would I know? I was a cop before all this happened."
Chris snapped his fingers, pointing at Leslie excitedly. "There's got to be maps, right? Maps of bodies of water. All we need to do is find some of those maps. Once we know where a good sized underground body of fresh water is, maybe we can extend the base to cover it."
Leslie regarded Chris rather skeptically, "And where do you propose we find these maps?"
"Wouldn't city hall have some for urban planning? Or the library at Berkley?" Chris hazarded a guess.
Leslie nodded slowly, "I hate to say it, but I think you're onto something, kid."
Exasperated, Chris rolled his eyes at the 'kid' comment. First Darryl and now Les. Who the hell was the leader here, anyways? He had never wanted to be, but somehow it had been pushed upon him. And yet, he still couldn't get any respect from the very people who insisted he 'lead'. "Just put something together, okay? Go find Ben and see if you can round up a couple of people who worked at city hall or studied at Berkley. They might be able to help us narrow down which location would be the best place to do some recon. Work out two plans, just in case one of the locations has been completely destroyed."
Nodding, Leslie got up from his chair. "I'm on it. And what are you going to do?"
Chris pointed at a stack of papers sitting in a pile at the other end of the table. "I've got a ton of scouting reports I need to review. Think you can meet back here in a couple of hours and have a plan ready to discuss?"
Leslie gave his friend the thumbs up, "Of course. Oh and Chris?"
"Hmmmm?" Chris murmured, his nose already buried in the reports.
"Lock the door behind me, will ya? I'd hate to have to rescue your butt for a second time today," Leslie grinned, slamming the door behind him.
Chris glared at the door, muttering to himself, "No respect, I tell you. No respect."
He was angry.
She had been one of his best. Actually she had been the best. That was why he had gifted her with such an important mission.
All she had to do was eliminate his problem. He had provided her with all the tools she needed, even locating her prey for her, practically handing his brother to her on a silver platter. Incompetent fool, he sneered.
And now, because of her failure, he had had to lose best assassin.
Obedience was a tricky thing. Demons, on the most part, were stupid. However, any sign of weakness would give them….ideas. Only their fear of him, the knowledge of the swift retribution that awaited them if they so much as hinted at insubordination kept them obedient.
She had left him no choice. He had told her if she did not succeed, than she had best be dead. She had ignored his warning, choosing instead to pathetically fling herself at his feet in mercy.
But an example had to be made. He had no time to deal with failures or usurpers. All thoughts of disobedience had to be culled in the herds. Fear of what he would do to them kept them in line. It reminded them of why he was the one who was in charge. Why he was the one who ruled. Why he was the 'twice-blessed.'
He watched as the demons dragged the remains away.
He clenched his fist in frustration.
His lieutenant bowed deeply, "Should I summon another one, my lord?"
Scowling, Wyatt bit out, "And what good would that do? She was the best. The best! Summoning another sub par assassin isn't going to solve my problem." Waving his hand in disgust at the suggestion, "Bah! It's not like I have any other options. Summon another one. Eventually one of these useless witch-assassins is bound to succeed."
The demon bowed again, "I have watched this coven of witches, and the next best would be the assassin's daughter. She is young, not as experienced as her mother, but skilful. She –,"
Wyatt interrupted, "Wait! Did you say 'daughter'?"
The demon nodded.
Reclining in his chair, brooding, as he turned the words over in his head. His thumb absently caressed the arm of his chair, gliding along the wood sinisterly. A daughter…"Summon her at once." As the demon turned to leave, Wyatt held out his hand, "Wait. Make sure her mother's remains have been fully removed first. After all, we don't want to upset her. Oh – and don't tell her anything about her mother. I wish to break the news to her myself."
Bowing deeply, the demon backed away slowly, exiting the room to accomplish his task.
You surprised me, Chris. Wyatt smiled to himself viciously. I never expected you'd be able to hold your own. I underestimated you. I won't do that again. No…this time, this time I'm going to find out exactly how many you've recruited into your little cult. And then I'll eliminate you and your little friends, too.
To be continued….