Quick and Dirty

It was always quick and always dirty.

They didn't need to be anything else, of course. Who cared if there were bloodstains left on the floor, brain-splatter on the wall, a bullethole in the window from the sniper? Itex owned pretty much everything, and that included the cops. They probably owned the landlady by now, and had given her more than enough to part to fix up the room, and every other room on the street. Hell, kindly old Mrs. Watson could probably buy the street. Everyone has a price. Everyone. And the little old lady had taken them in, only because Iggy reminded her of her husband when he'd been young. They'd barely kept up on the rent, even with the jobs that Max, Fang and Iggy were all doing. Food just cost too much, there wasn't anything left over for clothes.

Speaking of which, hers were ruined. Clothes. That's right, focus on the clothes. They were singed form the explosion, and covered in blood. Some of it was hers, but most of it was Gazzy's. She'd held her brother as he died, hidden from the killer's scope by the kitchen bench. She hadn't exactly got off without injury herself.

She'd set the bomb off for two reasons.

She needed time. And she needed to know that the flock's bodies would be erased from existence. It was a quick and dirty cremation, but Itex had started it, and the only way to fight back was to fight as they did. Itex would need proof of kill. They had the sniper's report, yes, but they'd check. The flock had slipped out of many situations before, and could do so again.

Not this time.

Max had been first to fall, the bullet striking her in the face. Then the others, as they all dived for cover. One, two, three, four, five, six shots, in the space of a heartbeat. One, two, three, four, five heartbeats, stopped with the shot. Six pools of blood left behind on the carpet.

She'd bleed to death if she didn't get her wound stitched up. Even if, by some miracle she survived that, the infection would probably kill her. Open sewers were not the ideal place for people with open wounds to hide. She had nowhere else to go to anymore. No flock, no family, no nothing.

It would take them a little while to figure out that there were only five bodies. It would take them a little bit longer to find out that it was Angel who was missing. It would take them only seconds to find her with the tracker that was part of the telepathy-inhibitor in her brain.

Quick and Dirty.

So all she had to do was do this quickly. Play this game dirty. Win.

She didn't need her jacket, because she didn't need to hide, and she did need to fly. She needed to be as visible as possible. She needed to get to the stadium, where the mayor was presenting her speech to the whole United States. And she needed to let them all know.

Itex might own the media companies, but they didn't own the people on the ground – the reporters, the cameramen. Not yet.

You couldn't stop the story. Max knew that, she knew it so well. Fang knew it too. Now they didn't know anything, because their brains were charcoaled smudges on the floor of the place she'd just lived in and never called home.

All she needed to do was make them all see before they caught up with her. Because then she'd just disappear, leaving nothing but a few bloody smears behind.

Then she'd die.

But that was okay.

She made it there with time to kill, so she stood alone on the roof, waiting for the moment. Max had always said that she'd know the moment. The moment to strike. This time she had no backup, but she wouldn't live long enough to truly regret it. To truly grieve.

She had to complete the mission. In any way she could. Didn't matter. Quick and Dirty.

Get in. Talk. Give them the documents. Die.

She stepped off the roof, gliding into the podium for maximum effect. Just like Max. Be big. Be real. Show them what you're made of Angel.


She knew what she looked like. She was streaked with blood and soot and grime, still bleeding where the bullet had struck. Her hair was a mess, snarled into knots and unwashed for days. But her wings...

Her wings were as white as ever, beautiful and powerful, catching the light. She left them out. She wasn't going to hide herself away.

The crowd was silent. The cameras were on her, the dirty little child-angel. She gestured to the microphone. In shock, the mayor stepped back, and let her speak. Keep it simple. Make them believe. Make sure that they remember. Make it quick. Give them the dirt. Make them clean it up. There's nothing more that you can do.

"My name is Angel and I am nine years old. Yesterday a company called Itex tried to kill me. They did kill my family. They killed them because of what we are. I'm no angel – I'm a result of science experiments on human children. By Itex. There are thousands of children like me. We could be your missing children, or the ones that died of birth. We've been kept in cages, experimented on, tested and killed." She held up the papers. "And I have proof. I am proof!"

She looked out at the thousands of faces. Once upon a time, she could have read all of their minds, a dull roar of thought pressing down on her sanity. Now, it was silent. Not a thought, not a word.

"They're probably going..."

She didn't see the shot, or feel it. She didn't even hear it. But the millions of people watching saw the little girl killed by a sniper's bullet. And they all began to wonder.

And that was all she needed.