Badass Ch. 05byDionysosk©
"That's because none of them listened to you, and went with Amy to the bottle store after we got to my place. You'll see when we get back to my house."
"Wow, even Stephanie huh? Well, let's go. We'll order some food when we get to your place."
"Ok. Guys, get up. Let's go."
The 4 of them, still shocked beyond words, got up from the booth and lumbered towards the door. Zdenek and Erykah followed behind them, but before they left, Zdenek saw that Jennifer was still standing there.
"Hey Jennifer, turns out I won't be staying right now, but I'll probably come in later for a milkshake. Anyway, hopefully the rest of your day is as slow as this."
"Thanks Zdenek, but more customers means I get more tips. I'll see you later then."
Zdenek nodded, and walked out of the cafe. The people in the cafe were getting sick of being surprised by this guy, so they chose to try and ignore him, but seeing him without his hood on shocked them once again. Zdenek just found this amusing as he got into Erykahs' car.
"So Zdenek, what's this plan of yours?" she just gave him another opportunity to test the waters with the nickname.
"Rica, you'll find out when everyone else does, so just be patient." Her scowl then changed again, but this time, to one he'd never seen before.
'I wonder what this scowl means. But heck, I wonder what my being able to call her 'Rica' means as well. In my observations of human behaviour, I have never seen a person who dislikes nicknames and such, thus this is new ground for me.'
"Anyway, did you sleep well? Not counting the other 4, how was the rest of your night?"
"Oh, by the time we got to my place, I was kind of tired. All that roof jumping and shit was definitely a new way to get around for us, how long have you been doing it? And I didn't notice you activate your AE power when doing it."
"Well, it was all part of my training you see. Oh, and I don't use my Entity power when running like that."
"Wait, so that was just all you?"
"Remember that night we 1st met? I didn't activate my Entity power until the 2nd part of the fight, until then, I was just using my own natural strength."
"Your own natural strength? Most people just train their AE powers, and not their own."
"Yeah, well for the 1st few years, I wasn't allowed to—" Erykahs' phone started ringing. It was Amy.
"What?!" Erykah growled, clearly annoyed
'He was about to tell me something, I don't know what though. He already knows quite a bit about me, but I know nothing about him. I bet it was something important, but Amy had to go and interrupt us again. I'm going to kill her later."
"Sheesh, what crawled up your ass? Anyway, we were all just wondering if he's told you anything about the plan yet? We're kinda dying of anxiety here."
"And you think I'm not? He hasn't told me anything other than 'you'll find out when everyone else does' so you'll just have to wait as well. Now, I'll see you at the house." With that, she hung up. "I'm sorry, you were saying?"
"We'll talk about it some other time; we're practically at your place now." The remainder of the trip was made in silence.
They arrived at the house after 5 minutes, and waited in the lobby. They heard the other cars arrive, and the front door open. Amy walked in 1st, and received an awful glare from Erykah, that surprised her as much as it scared her.
"Now that we're all here, let's go into the study. If you guys want some drinks, grab them now. However, I suggest that they be alcohol free...Amy." Amy just giggled a bit, and after grabbing a 6 pack of bottled water, made her way up to the study with everyone else.
When they all entered the study, what happened next shocked Amy and the other 3. Zdenek made his way around Erykahs' desk, and sat in her chair, while everyone else sat on the couches in front of the desk. The surprising thing about all of this, is that Erykah didn't even move to sit at her desk, almost as though it the couch was her regular spot. The normality of it all didn't go unnoticed.
"Ok guys, now that we're here, let me tell you what the plan is. After giving it considerable thought, I looked at the condition Aegis is currently in; it took all of your current forces just guard the borders of your territory, to make sure that those staying here would be safe. This also means that if a fight occurs, only 50% of your fighting force won't be fatigued, and that's not good enough. The only reason why 100 group members were enough is because Aegis was still happy about being 3rd in the Top 3. Stop looking at it that way. Aegis isn't 3rd on the list; rather, you guys are the 3rd weakest among the strong. Aegis is the 3rd weakest, with the 3rd smallest territory, and the 3rd smallest group. The reason why you don't have more members is because there aren't any more competent power AE members to found, as you've maximised your vastly limited resources. Now this is where the plan kicks in. Tell me Rica, if you have a 4 bedroom house, and have 4 people occupying each room, but you want to live with more people, what do you do?"
"Hmmm. You buy a second house, and have the rest of the people move into that house?"
"That would work, however having to maintain 2 separate residences would not only be costly, but be far more work than it was worth."
"Then what do you do Zdenek?"
"It's simple; you buy a bigger a house."
"What?!" they all said together.
"Well, in your case we aren't going to buy a bigger house, but rather, make it bigger. Aegis is small, and your available men are small in number, however we can't add more from this area, so we'll just get more from another area; or rather, from another group. What I'm saying is, Aegis is going to swallow the AE group that is directly above it; Tundra. Aegis is going to expand, and take over the 2nd placed group. This means you'll get more men, and although it also means that the area that you have to protect will increase, the number of people available will also increase. This means that Aegis will not only be larger, but stronger too. But before I speak any further on this, I need to know if you guys have any objections or questions."
"I have some questions. You make it sound so easy, but you just told us we're the 3rd weakest of the strong. It's not going to be easy to beat the entire group, besides; the Alpha of Tundra doesn't fuck around. How do you plan on beating him, and his entire group? They outnumber us like crazy, and you've just mentioned how half of our force will always be tired, have you really thought this through?"
"Are there any other questions from the rest of you, or is it just Amy? All of her questions will be answered by the rest of the plan, so anything else?" Erykah looked around, and seeing that no one else questions, she looked at Zdenek.
"It appears that Amy asked on behalf of all of us. Please; continue."
"Ok. My plan goes like this. We send someone to deliver a message to the Alpha of Tundra, stating that The Hand of Aegis request a meeting with him. I assume that if he accepts, we all go to whatever his regular spot is. I'm assuming that he'll have his elite guard with him, the people who fulfil the role that you 4 play. When we are there, we propose the terms of our takeover to him. Of course, he won't accept them, and then all we have to do; is beat him and his guard and force him to submit before the rest of his group has a chance to arrive and help them, simple as that."
Everyone looked at him like he had some kind of mental issues, instantly dismissing his plan.
"That's ridiculous! This plan of yours won't work. It's too—"
"You seem to be forgetting something. The main difference between Aegis, and Tundra; is me! You guys have me as an ally, and they don't. I'm confident that I can beat this Alpha, even though I don't know his name, his AE power, or his elemental power. This plan however, hinges on whether or not you guys can beat, or even hold off his guard. Look, before I carry on, and get into the individual roles everyone has in this plan, I need to know if you guys trust me. This plan will not work unless you guys put your trust in me. I know, it's strange for someone you haven't even known for a week to be doing all this, but my desire to help is genuine. I want to help you guys reach the summit; all of you."
They all stood there, looking at him, not knowing what to do. It was true that they didn't understand why this guy, who they barely knew, was doing everything he was, or why he even cared so much, as they had just met each other. Erykah looked at Zdenek.
"Ok. I'll trust you."
The words left Erykahs' mouth before she knew what was going on. She stood there stunned, but none more so than Steve, Don, Stephanie and Amy. They just couldn't get it. It had taken this guy 4 days to get more or less where it took the rest of them 15 years. Here she was, trusting him with her life, because if this plan fails, they might all die. Maybe she really wanted to see Aegis on top, and sure, she had been working hard for that to happen, but it was always by herself. She always chose to struggle alone, and in less than a week, this guy had not only made her finally accept their help, and share the load with them, but now by trusting him, she had effectively allowed him to take responsibility, and lead them all, including her. Erykahs' statement caused Zdenek to smile. Erykahs' trust in him meant more to him than even he realised.
"Thanks Rica. What about you four? Will you trust me?"
"I think I trust you." Steve said after a minute."I knew I could trust you when you busted into the house, and made us your bitches while holding your groceries. I mean, you were strong enough to kick our asses while holding your bags, but didn't, you know. There was no anger or malice in your demeanour either. While I knew I couldn't beat you, I also knew that I didn't have to. I think that means I trust you."
"I agree with Steve." Don said.
"So do I." Stephanie said. "I know we haven't spoken that much, but I trust you. You've done too much for us so far for me not to trust you. If saving my friends' life and helping our group grow isn't reason enough for me to trust you, then I don't know what is."
"Well, I guess I trust you too Zdenek. Even though you insulted me, and said I was 'an awful example of people in positions of power', you're alright. But if I die, you know I'm gonna kick your ass as a ghost, right?" Zdenek chuckled a bit, and gave Amy a nod.
"Ok, before moving further, Stephanie, I need you to go on that little laptop of yours, and dig up every bit of information with regards to Tundra as possible. I want to know how many people they've got, as well as how many people are in the Alphas guard, who they are, who the Alpha himself is, as I still don't know his name, and where Tundras' hang out spot is. What and where is their 'Temperance'? Get on it; you have an hour."
"Sure thing Zdenek." Steph said, and got to work.
"Steve, Don; you guys order us some food, preferably something with fried chicken for me, and go and collect it. You've got...well, however long it takes for the food to get ready."
"You got it!" The brothers said, before flying out the study.
"Zdenek!" Amy replied, serious, and rigid, awaiting her orders.
"You stay here and do nothing! Last night, you didn't listen to me, so you get no responsibilities!!" Stephanie giggled, while Erykah just shook her head.
"What?!" Amy said, with the look on her face, almost making Zdenek laugh.
"You heard me! Now excuse me, I need the toilet. Also, somebody call Steve or Don, and tell them to get an extra portion of food for me. I only ate a light breakfast, so I'm pretty hungry." And with that, Zdenek left the study, leaving the 3 girls in there alone.
"I can't believe Zdenek just did that to me! Asshole!"
"You only have yourself to blame, don't you Amy? You just had to go and buy all that shit from the bottle store..." Erykah said, rolling her eyes.
"Leave me alone! I'm an adult, and I can do as I please!"
"And you doing what you please is the cause of your being treated like a child." Stephanie said giggling, and dialling Steve's number on her phone, sending him a message telling him to get extra chicken.
"Shut up four-eyes! Go back to your task!"
"At least I've got something to do; I've been given responsibilities." Stephanie taunted, which made Amy go red in the face, before she and Steph burst out laughing.
The study was filled with laughter, which lasted a good 5 minutes, before settling down, and leaving the room in silence, with the only sound being the clicking of Stephanies' keyboard as she typed. The silence was eventually broken by Amy.
"Things have really changed quickly, haven't they Erykah?" She said, not looking at her.
"Hmmm? Yes, they have, haven't they?"
"I mean, four days ago, we were still trying to think of ways to expand, and hadn't really come up with anything, which is why we went to Temperance, to unwind. Then next thing, you get drugged and fucked up, saved by Zdenek, who then brings our entire group to its' knees without doing a thing, then he changed the makeup of Aegis, making squads, and assigning captains and such, and we're going to take over another group. You really are letting him in, aren't you?'
"Letting him in; what do you mean?"
"I mean exactly that Erykah. We've tried introducing you to new people, but that failed. We've tried introducing you to people we personally know, but that failed. We've forced you to hang out with us and the people we know, but you don't even acknowledge their presences, let alone join in the conversations. Since what happened all those years ago, you haven't let a single person in, now all of sudden; you not only let him in, but you trust him completely! What if this plan of his results in the loss of your life? What then?!"
"Well then that's what happens. This is the life that he saved after all. I'm not looking for death Amy, but if we're being honest, I should be dead. He saved my life, when no one else was going to. You guys wouldn't have made it in time, and that Buffalo Alpha either would have killed me and taken over Aegis, or forced me to be his sex slave. Zdenek saved me from both of those outcomes, so if he wants me to risk my life to help HIM expand MY group, then I'll gladly do so."
"But why is HE the one who's changing you? Haven't we always been there? Haven't we always tried to make you open up? We're the ones who were there during the good times. When you smiled; we smiled with you and laughed with you. We were certainly there during the bad times. When you cried; we cried with you, and when you fell apart; we picked up the pieces. We had to watch while you closed yourself off to everyone. We had to chisel away bit by bit, we had to work hard, we were there for you, so why was it him? Why did he pry open the defences? Why was it him that got you to realise our pain in being shut out? Why?" the last word said was barely audible, as Amy started choking, and tears streamed down her face.
"Amy, why is it important that is was him, and it wasn't you? I know I have been more than difficult to handle the past 5 years, and that it's been tough on you guys as well, but why is it so bad that it wasn't you guys who started the change? Shouldn't you be happy that I've finally realised just how much I've been pushing you guys away? You've been preaching to me to let you guys help me, and now that I'm finally ready to do that, you get angry because somebody else is responsible for it. Zdenek is responsible for me letting you guys back in, and that alone, is a debt I'll never be able to repay. Saving my body, my flesh, my organs, my face, my limbs, my brain, yes, I owe him for that. But he saved my life, when he made me realise I was alienating myself from those I love the most, and those love me, and the only reason he's given me for doing it, is that he heard me. I still don't know what he heard me say, but he heard me. So if the price of not only helping me reach the summit of Everest, but helping me reach it with the people I love, is me trusting someone, then I'll happily that price."
Amy just looked at Erykah, while even Stephanie stopped doing her task, and looked at her with a look of surprise. They hadn't heard Erykah talk like that in years. Amy then walked forward until she was right in front of Erykah, bent down, and latched her arms around Erykahs' neck. Erykah stood still for a bit, before slowly, and tentatively placing her arms around Amys' midsection, returning her friends' embrace, slowly rubbing Amys' lower back with one hand. Amy just squeezed, not wanting to relinquish her grip on Erykah. After a few minutes, she let go, and stepped back. She instantly heard a noise coming from behind her, in the direction where Steph was sitting, but before she even turned around, Stephanie came flying past her, wrapping her arms around Erykah.
"I've missed this. I've missed this. I've missed this." Stephanie said, while she sobbed.
Amy watched as the 2 shorter women hugged, and although she still wasn't ready to accept it, she had to admit that it was because of Zdenek.
'So letting us in and now hugging are off the list. All that's missing now are smiling and laughing. If Zdenek can make her do those, then I'll admit that he's a God, and I might just get over myself.' Amy thought with a slight chuckle, as she turned and left the study.
As she closed the door, she looked and saw Zdenek standing in the hall, and walked over to him, before looking him in the eyes. He spoke 1st however.
"So, have you told Erykah how you feel yet? I noticed there was something bothering you when we were talking on the roof, at the 1st guard post. While you were thanking me, your eyes still had a shitload of pain in them, so I figured you and her needed some time to talk things out. How'd it go? Did you guys talk it out? The food should be here soon, and—"
Zdenek was interrupted by Amy wrapping her arms around his neck, and resting her chin on one of his traps.
"Thank you. Erykah hasn't opened up like this since Aaron. Thank you."
'Aaron? Who's that?'
And as quickly as it happened, it was over, with Amy turning around, and walking back into the study. As he was about to head back to join the 3 in the study, he head a car pull up, and bolted down the stairs.
'Finally! I'm starving!' He thought, as he ran outside to go meet the two brothers.
"Hey guys, I nearly died of starvation! Where's the food?"
"Right here!" They both said, pointing to the back of the car, which was just packed with food. Zdeneks' stomach growled, as he helped them carry all the food into the kitchen. Once inside, he saw what appeared to be at least 50 bottles of beer in a corner.
"What the fuck?! How much did you guys drink?! How are none of you dead from alcohol poisoning?!!"
Steve and Don just laughed, as they started setting the table.
"It's alright, just leave mine in its packaging. I prefer to eat it that way."
Steve and Don were confused, but did as he wished.
"I'll go call the other 3 who are still in the study." And with that, he walked up the stairs and knocked on the study door. He entered without waiting for acknowledgement.
"The food's here, so come down to the kitchen. The sooner we eat, the sooner I can tell you what the battle plan is. Let's go." And with that, they all walked down the stairs into the kitchen.
When they arrived, Erykah went up to each brother, and hugged them tightly. After the hugs, they each looked at Amy, Amy just shrugged, pointed at Zdenek. The two of them then gave Zdenek the warmest smile that either could muster.
"Well, anyway, let's eat, and get back to the meeting."
Zdenek then gripped the bucket, and started going through the food like a man possessed. Everyone looked on in awe, and the sounds that were coming from him were not the sounds that humans normally make. Buoyed on by this, Steve and Don also started ripping their food apart, and it became a concert of manly sounds, greasy hands, and lack of conversation. Eventually, the 3 people who were eating normally started talking amongst themselves.