Badass Ch. 05byDionysosk©
Yo! This is the 5th instalment in the Badass series. I just want to say thanks to all those who have given me positive, both publicly, and privately. This is just something I've started doing recently, without any previous experience, other than essays. The response that Badass has been getting is really touching, and makes the effort worth it.
In this Chapter, the focus will mostly be on Aegis again. Also, there is no combat in this Chapter, so please bear with me.
Your reading this is greatly appreciated by the author; me.
The Hand of Aegis watched on, as Zdenek jumped off the roof. They saw him fly across, and land on a roof below, and then start running in a weird stance. They realised that they wouldn't be able to keep up without activating their AE powers, so they did, but only enough to enhance their strength and speed, so they could keep up. They then followed his lead, jumping off the roof, and following his path. It took a bit of effort, but they caught up. Zdenek then slowed down a little, and joined the group.
"Amy. Which direction is the furthest post? Since you and Stephanie went there earlier, you tell us where to go."
"Well, if we head east from here, we'll get there. They'll be stationed on the roof of a building, so we can't miss them, and at this speed, we'll be there in less than 10 minutes."
"Ok good. I'll give you guys some space, in case you want to talk. Just call out to me if I'm heading the wrong way, ok?"
"Sure thing Zdenek. Thanks."
"No problem." And with that, Zdenek pushed off and increased his lead on the group."
"Guys..." Erykah said, looking down as they were running. They all looked towards her.
"I know that I haven't been all that approachable the past few years and..."
"Don't worry about it! We all understand." They all said in unison. Erykah looked at each of them, dumbfounded at both their understanding, and the perfect timing of their reply.
"Zdenek was right wasn't he? You guys really do practice behind closed doors, and unleash this 'group mind speak' shit during moments like these?"
"Nah. That's not it. It's just we've been waiting for this for so long, that our feelings became the same."
"Oh? And what exactly have you been waiting for?"
"You to open up to us, just that little bit more." Erykah looked at them as they all nodded in agreement, and smiled warmly. Erykah sighed and looked down again.
"I know I haven't said this for far too long, but...you know... I um, I really appreciate you guys, and...I love you. Thank you for always being there. I don't know what I'd do without you."
There was silence after Erykahs' declaration. They all knew that she loved them; otherwise she wouldn't have trusted them as much as she did, but to come and say it out loud? They hadn't been expecting to hear her tell them that for years. No one spoke, as they couldn't close their mouths. Erykah didn't even look up.
"Hey, I'm going to go talk to Zdenek until we get there ok?" before waiting for acknowledgement, she drew out a bit more power to increase her speed, and joined Zdenek up front.
"At first, I thought I was just imagining things, but now even you guys have seen it; Erykah is changing. She's changing, and that pale silver haired guy is the cause, and I don't know how to take it."
"What do you mean Amy?"
"What I mean Steph, is that we've known Zdenek for 3 days now. The 1st day, he overwhelmed us, without so much as lifting a finger. The 2nd day, he just ate his lunch, yet that in itself was when the 1st incident happened, and then today, life changing things happened. The 1st day, he forced all of us, with the exception of you Steph, to submit; we couldn't lift a finger to stop him from entering the house. The 2nd day, Erykah went to his table at Zees', and without even knowing it, ate off his plate, and drank his milkshake. I can't even REMEMBER the last time she even thought about a milkshake, let alone drank one. And he said something about seeing that she was hungry? We were all looking at them, and the look on her face never changed; it was always a scowl! Then we get today; this morning, I nearly died when she agreed to pose with us. How badly did she want to get into Zdeneks' place that she joined in? And that pose was pretty fucking cool too! She didn't even try to murder him, after he forced her to pose with us. She also just listened as he made plans to change the group she worked for over a year to strengthen, and in that period, she only listened to suggestions from us. Next thing, she's not only listening to, but agreeing with commands that will change the makeup of Aegis. Just now, she even opened up to us and shed tears; tears that we thought had long since dried up and she also told us that she loves us. It's taken Zdenek 3 days to accomplish what we've spent the last 5 years try to do. While it makes me happy that she's letting us in again, it hurts that it's not because of us, but rather, because of some guy she just met."
They continued in silence for a bit, and watched Erykah and Zdenek as they ran and jumped ahead of the rest of them.
"Look Amy, I understand what you're saying, but look at her. Look at her shoulders, they're usually stiffer than Steve and Don when they're around attractive women—"
"HEY!" The brothers yelled in unison
"But look at them now. How many years has it been since she relaxed her shoulders that much? We 1st saw it that night when she had her 1st beer in years, she relaxed, and even told a joke. Regardless of how and why, when she is around that guy, she relaxes. Even more so than she did when she was around A—"
"Steph! You know we don't talk about him; EVER! Besides, we're almost there." Stephanie sighed in agreement, and the rest of their trip was made in silence.
Zdenek sensed Erykah approaching, and braced himself for an attack.
'This woman is going to be pissed off, because I touched on n area that as an outsider, I shouldn't have.'
"Hey. Your eyes aren't puffy and red anymore. You guys talk it out?"
"Yeah we did, although I still feel bad for shutting my friends out like that."
"Yeah, that's good. Sorry for butting in—"
"Thank you, Zdenek. I really appreciate it. You stopped me from continuing to emotionally isolate myself from the people I love the most, so thank you for that." Zdenek was slightly shocked
"But wait, why did you repeat that line from when you saved me? Why—"
"We're almost there. I'm going to fall back, and join the rest of the group. You stay in front, and lead us to the team, you're the Alpha." And with that, he slowed his pace down, and joined the other 4, just as they approached the 1st team. As they arrived, the 1st team turned around, and was shocked to see it was the entire Hand of Aegis, along with the mystery man who came to see Erykah that day, and also selected the captains. The Hand of Aegis then deactivated their AE powers, and relaxed. They all stood at attention, and bowed their heads.
"Alpha; we didn't know you would be coming to our post. We—"
"It's alright, at ease. We just came to join the watch for a while, make sure you guys aren't having any trouble. Is there anything to report?"
"No Alpha, everything has been fine, no incidents so far." They didn't relax though, as they stood stiff and rigid, with heads bowed.
"Didn't you guys here her? You can relax, don't worry."
"Of course, thank you Alpha. Is there anything you, or The Hand would like? Perhaps something to drink? There is a small shop down there, and we can send someone to go get some." The captain said, as he and his team relaxed. They only seemed to do this after Zdenek told them to, and this didn't go unnoticed.
"No, we're fine." Erykah replied. "What time does your shift end Captain?"
Zdenek moved away from the group, and stood at the edge of the roof, looking down below. He noticed the clashing of the blue of Aegis, and the green of the territory on the other side of their border. Amy stood next to him.
"It's strange, isn't it? Our colour is blue, and we have no idea why. I wonder what would happen if we took over the territory? Or if we joined forces with them? Would the colours stop clashing, and just turn green?" Amy said, and giggled a bit at the end.
"Who knows? Conversely, if you guys are conquered, would the hue here turn green? The only way to find out is to either win, or lose the turf war."
"Yeah, I guess you're right. Listen Zdenek, thank you, for you know, getting Erykah to open up to us. While it burns me that you were able to do in 3 days what we couldn't do in many years, but that's just my pride talking. How did you know what to say? How did you know what we were feeling?" They both stood in silence for a bit before he responded.
"You guys, I could see the pain in your eyes every time you looked at her. On the night I 1st met you, Steve and Don, I came back after I initially left, and sat at the house across from Erykahs. I went back to ensure that no one from the Buffalo guys' group had come to attack Erykah, but I found you guys hadn't left, and that Stephanie had arrived. I sat there, and I watched. I saw the pain in all your eyes when she wouldn't smile, but I also saw the joy that almost made you guys cry when she grabbed a beer. I saw that when you guys had laughed at what she said, you weren't laughing from your stomachs, but rather from your hearts; it was laugher born from happiness, and not humour. But the most joy I saw from you guys was when she relaxed her shoulders; it was almost as though you had been waiting forever for to relax even slightly. It was all in your eyes. All of you guys have trained your bodies and faces well, as your emotions are not visible in your body language, however you can't train your soul, and as they say, eyes are the windows to your soul."
Amy stood there, staring at him with her mouth open, until it almost dried out.
"Is-is that how you were able to tell that she was hungry, when she was at your table as Zees? Her eyes?"
"No, Erykah is far less complicated. She's easy to read. It's all in her scowl."
"Yeah, the scowl that is usually on her face changes depending on the emotion she's feeling. When she's angry, her brow furrows that slightest bit more. When she's hungry, her nostrils flare a bit. When she's embarrassed, her nose wrinkles up slightly. When she's happy, the corners of her mouth relax slightly, and her frown becomes less fierce. At the cafe, she actually didn't realise that she had eaten off my plate, and became pretty embarrassed. She obviously doesn't like being embarrassed, and she started getting angry as well, that's why I quickly said that I saw she was hungry. This made her anger calm down, but she was still slightly embarrassed, and we haven't spoken about it since then."
Amy stared at him again, flabbergasted. 'How the fuck is he able to tell all that?! Okay, us and our eyes, that at least I can understand, but Erykahs' scowl? Just how intently does he look at her? Shit.'
"Oh, by the way Amy, do you, Steve, Don and Stephanie have nicknames for each other? I mean, people who've known each other for 15 years should have nicknames for each other."
"Um, I don't know if they quite count as nicknames, but as you know, we call Stephanie; Steph, and Steve; Stevo, and Don; Donnie."
"Huh? What about Erykah? What do you call her?"
"Erykah....doesn't have a nickname. She hates them; with a passion. The last person who called Erykah a nickname really hurt her, and was the cause of her closing her heart off to people she doesn't know. Until you of course, and that is a massive surprise. But still, none of us understand why you're helping us so much, people you barely even know. How does helping Aegis benefit you?"
"It's not about Aegis' success benefiting me Amy. I... her voice, more than what she said, is what's making me do this. A voice that sounded as though it—"
"Guys, I think we should move on to the next post. Let's go" Erykah interrupted the two, noticing how heavy the mood was, and moving to break it up for some reason.
"Okay, let's go. Amy, you lead until we're about to get there, then switch places with Erykah."
"Sure thing Zdenek." Amy said with a smile. Steve and Don had been talking to some of the guys, while Stephanie had been typing something in the corner.
"Thank you for coming to spend time with us Alpha. Please be careful on your way to the next post." The team said, in the usual rigid stance. Everyone nodded, activated their AE powers again, and leapt off, following Amy.
After visiting every post, they all headed back to the roof of Zdeneks' apartment building, as all their cars were there. Once they got there, they were ready to say their goodbyes, before Zdenek spoke.
"Ok guys, this is just the start. We need to ensure that Aegis is the top power group by the time class starts, and that gives us about 3 weeks to achieve this, but as things stand now, Aegis doesn't have enough members. We need to find some way to bolster your ranks, but not with rubbish; with competent power AE users. I'll come up with a plan, so you guys just go home and rest, or go to Erykahs place, and crash there. But don't stay up too late, and be wrecked tomorrow, that means, don't give Amy any chance to influence your decisions, got that? I'll meet you guys tomorrow at Zees', ok?"
"Fuck you Zdenek!" Amy said while laughing at his obvious insult, with resulted in the other 3 laughing, and Erykah shaking her head.
"Ok guys, let's go. Oh, good night Zdenek. Thanks once again for everything you've done today, for me personally, and for Aegis."
"Sure thing Erykah, now go get some rest." And with that, they departed from the roof, and Zdenek went back to his apartment, to put the leftover pasta in the fridge.
'There's my light breakfast, ready for tomorrow.'
He then made his way to his bedroom and disrobed. He then went to the bathroom, and took a shower, and brushed his teeth. Once he was done, he changed into fresh boxers, and sat on his bed.
"I said all that cool shit on the roof, but I still have no idea how I'm going to expand Aegis. Of the 100 or so members Aegis has, 50 are always busy, which means that in the event of a fight with any of the other AE groups, half of Aegis' fighters would be fatigued. I have to come up with a plan. I said I would. I need to calm down though, being frustrated won't help."
He then started to think about what Amy said. "So Erykah doesn't like nicknames huh? The last person to call her by one really hurt her?" Zdenek could feel something akin to anger."So that person is the reason why she's so closed off? Hmm, well, if nicknames are out, then....wait a minute!"
Zdenek remembered that during his conversation with Amy, they were talking about the weird hue each individual territory had, and how the only way to find out what if the hues would ever mix, would be to take over a groups' territory, or join forced with them.
"That's it! Amy, you'll probably never be called one ever again, or to your face, but you are a genius! With that out of the way however, now I can get some sleep. I'll fine tune the plan tomorrow on the way to the cafe." And with that, he fell asleep.
The following morning, Zdenek woke up at 9:30.
"This gives me some time to eat my light breakfast, and get ready." And he did just that, taking his time in the shower. After the shower was done, he went and warmed the leftovers up, and ate them almost quicker than the microwave had heated them up. When eating his breakfast was over and done with, he went and got dressed, in all black this time. He went back into the bathroom, and brushed his teeth. He then brushed his hair, and looked at himself in the mirror.
'Let me try something different today.'
He then pulled his hair into a high pony tail, and examined it in the mirror. Once he was done adjusting it, and was satisfied with the results, he left the bathroom, and was ready to depart. He decided not to hood up today, and left his apartment, earphones in his ears, and his music blaring away.
During his walk over to Zees', he kept thinking to himself how Erykah hated nicknames. He himself disliked them because they seemed to be used by people who were close, and he had never had the opportunity to use one. It was at that moment he decided that he'd give Erykah a nickname, and use it the 1st chance he got. He knew there was a possibility that she'd close herself off again, seeing as she hated nicknames, and even her friends of 15 years couldn't call her by one, and he, having only known her for 4 days, had no right to think of one for her, let alone call her by that one. He walked with his hand on his chin, emulating The Thinker
"Hmmm...What would be a good one? Riri? Nah, too...kiddish. Eri? Nah, awful. Riki? Nah, that's no longer related to her name. Hmmm, this nickname shit is pretty tough. Oh well, I'll just say whatever comes to mind. Maybe I should stop talking to myself in public, my hair and hood aren't covering my face anymore." The remainder of his journey was made in silence.
When he reached the cafe and entered, he noticed Jennifer standing with her colleagues at waitress HQ, and approached. When Jen saw him, she smiled her usual pretty smile.
"Hey Jennifer; I see this is one of the rare moments in which you aren't carrying something, or in the back for some reason."
"Hey Zdenek! Yeah, you gotta grab these opportunities to relax whenever you can. I like your hair, that style suits you!" Was her bubbly reply "Should I get you the usual?"
"Thanks, and no, I don't think I'll be staying long enough. I'm just here to meet my fr... some people I know."
"Oh, ok then. Let me know if you will be staying, so I can get you your meal." She said, some of her bubbliness gone, as she knew who these people were.
Zdenek made his way over to the Aegis booth, and felt eyes on him, probably because this was the 1st time people were seeing his head, as it wasn't hidden under his hood. As he got to the booth, Steve, Don, Stephanie and Amy all had their foreheads on the table. When he arrived at the booth, they all looked at him, and there was genuine shock in their eyes. This wasn't the 1st time they had seen his head, but it was the 1st time they had seen him hoodless in public.
"Morning Amy, Stephanie, Steve, Don."
"Yeah hi Zdenek." They all mumbled as they put their foreheads back on the table. Zdenek then looked over at Erykah, who furthest in the booth, sitting at the back, with the other 4 sitting on the sides, two on each side.
The moment he said that; all 4 of them shot up 10 times faster than their heads had gone down. Their eyes were bulging so hard, Zdenek thought they were going to burst. Their jaws had dropped, and their mouths were large enough for a Great Dane to comfortably live in. They looked at each other with a look that just said
'Riiicaaaaaaaaa?! This guy is INSANE! He's pushing it! He's only known her for 4 days, and he thinks he can give her a nickname?! He knows that she HATES them! She's gonna flip! She's gonna blow! Brace yourselves, and get ready to run!!!'
Erykah looked at Zdenek for a moment. The rest of the people at the booth were waiting for her to lunge at him, and murder him brutally, not even leaving enough for crows to eat.
"Morning Zdenek. Did you come up with a plan?"
The 4 who thought Zdenek was going to die, almost died from shock themselves. Not only did she not explode and try to kill him, she actually responded to the nickname, and her face didn't change in the slightest. They looked at each other once again, more confused than Steve and Don at a Nuclear Physics lecture.
"Yeah, I did, but it's best we don't discuss it here. Let's go back to your place, and we can talk more there. Oh, and what's wrong with these 4? Why were they almost dead when I arrived?"