AN - Well now. I wrote pretty much all this months ago, right after Devastation ended, then hit a rut and fell off the horse. Finally got back on it, though :p
The End of the Beginning
You ruined the Saints!
Ljubica had been hearing that in her head almost non-stop since Johnny left.
Has he been feeling that way since the bank robbery? she wondered, slumping into her office chair at Purgatory and pulling the hood of her harlequin purple hoody over her head, shrouding her face.
The Saints' name used to mean somethin' more than body spray and some ass-tastin' energy drink.
Ljubica sighed. Maybe he was right. Maybe I had ruined the Saints. Today they were a far cry from the street gang I joined in 2006. I always told myself I would never be like Julius, leading from the rear where it was safe. But had he been right? Had I craved money and power so much that nothing else mattered?
There was a knock at the door. "Come in…"
Lin walked in, wearing harlequin purple track pants, white stripe up the side, and a black hoody. The heat was out at Purgatory, and she was pretending to be cold like everyone else. In truth, the vampire barely noticed, but they were trying to keep that part under wraps. There were very few people left in the Saints that remembered Lin, but it was best if nobody knew.
"Lju, you've been in here for days," she said, face gentle.
Ljubica shrugged. "Gang is running fine without me, da?"
Lin shook her head. "Not really. The boys and girls aren't happy their leader is mopin' in her rooms all damned day. Neither am I. You gotta pull your head outta your ass."
"Why?" Ljubica asked irritably. "So I can be fucking something else up?"
"You're not yourself right now and need to work through some shit, I get it," the other woman replied. "But this ain't you and your crew needs their Boss at her best, even if she's fakin' it."
Ljubica frowned, readying a scathing come back, but deep down, she agreed. "You're right. Fuck."
Lin quirked a wry smile. "Of course I'm right. You gonna come out and say hi? Maybe take a shower first?"
I nodded. "Thanks, Lin. I was needing that kick in my ass."
"I know. Look, sun's almost up, I gotta go crash."
And with that, Lin left, leaving the door open. After a few moments, Ljubica groaned and got up, following her out and heading down the hall to her bedroom and it's wonderful tub.
Ljubica climbed into the steaming, bubbly water, sighing as delicious warmth enveloped her still-battered body. Anton Arensky's Piano Trio No. 1 in D Minor, op. 32 played softly from speakers built into walls, and she took time to really think things through.
Johnny was right. I had fucked up the Saints really well. We were big, but in the wrong sort of way. No more movie deals, no more energy drinks, no more fucking Ultor. Ultor had tried to kill us, and what did I do? Struck a deal with their CEO to form the Saints-Ultor Media Group. All for fucking money.
Ljubica blinked when she realized Kanye West's POWER was almost over and the water was now only warm vs hot. She must have dozed off or spent a lot of time day dreaming. But such was the nature of bathing for her.
'You got the power to let power go?' Kanye's voice asked.
Ljubica chuckled. She did. She knew what she had to do.
Saints-Ultor was ending very shortly. The first order of business today, actually. I love bath time and it's ability to help with the big decisions.
Mind made up, she got out of the tub, humming softly to herself and toweling off as a plan took shape in her head.
'Mr. Gryphon, the Boss is here to see you.'
Eric Gryphon frowned. That crazy bitch was that last person he wanted to see today, but she had a lot to answer for lately. She'd helped keep him alive a few years ago, but recently she'd been nothing but trouble and bad press.
"Send her in," he grumbled, leaning back in his overstuffed office chair, large, curved slab of granite that served as his desk stretching out wide and long. "Damn it."
Ljubica pushed open the doors to his office, finding him scowling at her from his nice, comfy chair. She wore black jeans, a purple hoody, and her long, black hair was up in a bun held in place with two bright, violet hair sticks, bangs splayed across her forehead.
"Payment for damage to the Philips Building is coming out of the Saints portion of the operation," Gryphon said bitterly. "You're lucky that little airplane stunt you pulled didn't bring it all down! And the chemicals you stole from our warehouse. I don't even want to know what that was for, but you're reimbursing us for it and the damages. And the families of the men you killed."
"I want you to be donating all of Saints assets to charity and be dissolving Saints-Ultor Media Group," Ljubica told him matter-of-factly, completely ignoring everything he'd said. "We are done."
The CEO of Ultor laughed at her. "That's not how this works, Boss. I thought we had an understanding…"
"I am not here to be comedian for you," Ljubica growled.
"The Saints are worth billions, far more than the damage you cause. This discussion is over."
Narrowing her eyes, Ljubica pulled her Shepherd and leapt over his desk, scattering papers as she slid across it and jamming the large, purple pistol into his face.
"Donate. All. Assets," she hissed venomously. Johnny will come back if I make us real Saints again.
"Th-that's not how this works…" Gryphon stammered, subtly thumbing a button on the underside of the desk. The woman's reputation preceded her; she'd killed the previous CEO in this very office. "There's paperwork, contracts…"
"Fuck contracts," Ljubica growled, shoving her Shepherd into his cheek. "You are ending shit now, asshole. Before I am splattering you all over nice pretty office."
A squad of heavily armed, orange-suited Masako with black body armor and helmets stormed into the room, sleek SR-50 XMAC assault rifles trained on the leader of the Saints. "Drop the weapon, miss!"
Ljubica chuckled darkly. "Nancy boy can't be fighting his own fights, hmm?"
But she didn't move an inch. Behind her, the sound of bolts being worked told her she was possibly about to die. But she was used to the feeling.
"If I die, so does he," she called over her shoulder, then her voice took on a dramatic air. "Little twitch of finger, and boom. His very expensive brains all over floor. Desk. Windows. Papers. You are getting idea, da?"
"Sir?" one of the masked bodyguards asked.
Eric Gryphon faintly nodded, swallowing. There was a sharp, high-pitched whine, and a flash of light and electricity. Both he and Ljubica collapsed as the stun grenade went off, and the nearest bodyguard quickly grabbed the woman and flung her several yards away.
Ljubica bounced and tumbled as she landed, rolling to a stop. Then she groaned, already starting to recover and climb to her feet. Batting a loose lock of hair out of her eyes, she was faced with a semicircle of men armed with assault rifles. Her Shepherd was out of reach, and she glared balefully at the CEO of Ultor, purple eyes full of anger and hatred.
"You're going to fucking pay for this, Gryphon," she promised.
"And you're going to regret when we take the Saints away from you, Boss," he sneered. "We own the copyright and trademarks to the Saints, the fluer-de-lis logo, the shade of 'harlequin purple,' or the color so fondly thought of as Saints Purple, and pretty much everything else tied to your former gang. Is there anything else?"
"You have made a powerful enemy today," Ljubica spat, and at a nod from Gryphon, the Masako escorted her from the room.
"Have fun dear," he said derisively, keying the button on his phone that called his secretary. "Elaine, hold all my calls for the next couple hours, I need to take care of some things without interruption."
Ljubica stormed through Purgatory. Lin and Nyte Blayde were asleep for the day, Carlos was avoiding her, and Oleg was probably with Kinzie. She strode down the stairs to the bottom level, before the actual basement area, and then turned to where the former FBI agent had set up her Inner Sanctum in Stilwater. At the door, she paused, peering into a retina scanner.
A computerized, feminine voice greeted her. 'Identification confirmed. Welcome, Boss.'
A pair of doors swished open into the walls, and Ljubica stalked through the outer chamber and into the inner. Oleg wasn't here after-all.
"Kinzie, I am needing you to be doing something."
The redhead looked up from her computer monitors, scowling. "I wasn't doing anything important at all," she griped. "What?"
"Not now, suka," Ljubica growled. "I want you to be donating all Saints-Ultor assets and bank accounts to charity."
"You… no. You're joking, right?" Kinzie spluttered. "Are you high on something, Boss?"
Ljubica shook her head. "Nyet, but Saints need to be Saints again, not this corporate shit. Do it, Kinzie. Only keep legitimate thug businesses; drugs, women, guns, that kind of thing. We'll make more money from them and stores we are owning, but anything earned from Saints-Ultor Media Group, I want gone. Are you getting me, mousey one?"
Kinzie frowned. She hated hearing Oleg's nickname for her come from someone else, but she only nodded, swallowing the scathing retort. "Give me some time, but I'll make it happen."
Ljubica grinned. "You are making me happy woman, Kinzie!"
"And a much poorer one," the hacker shot back. "But we'll make more, I guess, right?"
"Is good spirit!" Ljubica cooed, then left the puzzled woman to her work.
"Now, I am not feeling like C4 today…" Ljubica mused to herself. "This is always being hardest part for me… Balancing explosive firepower with personal enjoyment."
She felt a lump in her throat as she realized what she was doing. She missed Johnny, missed him terribly. Which is why she was doing all this, to make him come back, and maybe even forgive her.
She looked over the table in front of her, weapons and explosives from edge to edge, when she spotted the keys to her Vulture. She snatched them up immediately.
"Ooh," she drawled happily. "Da I am feeling this!"
Eric Gryphon sat at his computer, checking accounts and numbers. The stock was up, but there was an alert in his Inbox about a sudden fluctuation of profit in the Saints-Ultor Media Group. His eyes widened when he saw what was happening.
"That bitch!" he roared, thumping a fist onto the desk and scattering papers.
On the other side of town, Kinzie was giving all their money away to orphanages, schools, universities, museums, even the NAACP. Everyone was getting a large slice of the Saints-Ultor pie.
As he reached for the phone, he heard a heavy whumping from outside. Curious, he turned around to see a large, purple Vulture hovering outside his window. It was the newer model, not the older one Ultor's Masako used.
Of course, the Masako didn't fly purple helicopters, either.
"Hello, asshole," Ljubica growled from the cockpit, voice booming from the helicopter's external speakers. "You should have listened when I was giving you chance!"
She squeezed the trigger on her control stick and the Vulture's auto cannon fired, the quick thumping vibrating the troop transport's heavy frame. 20mm armor piercing and high explosive rounds shattered glass and then punched into Eric Gryphon's body, tearing huge chunks of flesh and limbs off of him on their way through, splashing blood and gore all over the floor and walls behind him.
Not satisfied, Ljubica armed the rocket packs underslung beneath each stubby wing, and opened fire on the top floors of the Phillips Building. Rockets streamed away from the attack chopper one after the other, over and over in a torrent of righteous fire upon on her enemy until the packs were empty.
Explosions ripped through the upper levels of the skyscraper. Flames, chunks of concrete, twisted beams of steel, and shards of glass tore through the office and the three levels below it. As the dust cleared, Ljubica worked the controls, pivoting the helicopter around for a better view through the smoke and flames.
"Well, that is being that," she said thoughtfully, then worked the controls and headed in the direction of Purgatory.
'A possible terrorist bombing has blown up the uppermost levels of the Phillips Building in Stilwater,' Jane Valderrama said from the massive flat panel on the wall of the main room in the Saints Row condo. 'As we know more about this breaking story, you'll know more. Stay tuned to Channel 6 for the latest updates.'
Ljubica scoffed, rolling her eyes and changing the channel. "I am not being terrorist, there is no holy war here."
Her phone rang, and Pierce's face was on the screen when she looked at it. With a sigh, she picked it up and answered, setting aside her bottle of beer. "Da?"
'Boss, what the fuck is happening in Stilwater?' he asked earnestly.
"Oh, is nothing, Pierce, we are just being through with Ultor is all," she answered, voice almost casual. "You may want to start using different bank card."
'What!?' he shrieked. 'You shittin' me woman!?'
"Pierce, calm down. Saints are being better off this way. How's Steelport?"
'Oh just great,' he drawled bitterly. 'Just fuckin' peachy.'
Ljubica sighed softly. Pierce had taken their celebrity status to heart the quickest, and did most of the advertising appearances. Which reminded her…
"Pierce, be closing all Planet Saints and raze them to fucking ground."
'Fuck are you on?" he nearly screeched. 'Boss, no! We were about to expand to Stilwater, cover the home turf-…'
"Gone, Pierce," she growled, interrupting him. "All of them, Pierce."
"Pierce, I am getting angry," Ljubica warned, her tone growing edgier. A few Saints nearby eased away from the couch she occupied. When the Boss got angry, there were usually gunshots and explosions involved.
'Boss, look, I have to call you back,' he told her suddenly, and hung up.
"Motherfucker," she grumbled, tossing her phone down with a clatter. A few more saints edged away, trying very hard to not look her way. Ljubica snatched up her Steelport Steel Reserve and took a long drink, leveling a smoldering gaze around the room. Her mood was suddenly sour, and she wanted an excuse to hurt someone.
Ljubica's phone beeped. Glancing at it, there was a message from Kinzie.
Everything is taken care of. Reserves will be low for awhile until we recoup the losses, but I have a few surprises crawling around cyberspace that will pad our income for awhile. - Kinz
"At least something is going right," Ljubica mumbled. She noted the time as she was setting the phone down again, and instead stood up, heading for the lower levels. It was dark out, now, and someone was waking up.