Shackled Ch. 19byStory_Spinner©
The power that rushed through Emma's body with the touch of a button was staggering. Her pulse pounded and breath whooshed softly out of her parted lips. She flinched as the explosion hit, leaning further back by instinct, trying to protect herself. The warmth of Liam's body soothed and thrilled her as well.
For a moment the five stood and watched the show before Emma finally let out a soft laugh and grinned up at Hanson, her brown eyes sparkling with excitement. What a rush! It had been wild and crazy, but she felt alive. It was easy to see how someone could get addicted to that feeling. The adrenaline, the adventure. No wonder Laura was always seeking a fight or a bit of a thrill. No wonder all three women were after Liam. He was all that wrapped in one attractive package.
Shaking his head, he chuckled and ushered her into the car as Bonny moved with purpose, brushing past Liam and sliding into the front seat of the car. Obviously she didn't want to share any personal space with Emma and she was fine with that. Squeezed between Liam and Laura, Emma slid her hand over his knee and gave is a squeeze.
Laura was grinning and practically bouncing in her seat. The doc had gotten what she wanted. "Holy shit. That was a blast! Literally! I like this chick after all. She has a little bang in her."
Despite everything, Emma laughed and elbowed Laura gently. She winked and smacked the back of Carl's seat. "How about it big guy!! Take us back, so I can do a little digging."
Emma cringed at the idea, wondering what exactly this procedure would entail. The car set off to their 'base' of operations, Liam's basement and home. Clearing her throat, she glanced over at Laura again. She looked relaxed, happy and at ease with herself. "Do you have what you need for the procedure?"
She turned her blond head, dropping it against the head rest and pondered the question. "To be honest, not really. It is probably best I do it tomorrow, when I have all my tools and a little anesthetic. Unless you like pain."
Emma shook her head, "No thanks. I don't like the idea of you 'digging'"
Pursing her lips, Laura made a soft raspberry sound and shrugged, "I'll make it as painless as possible, but there will be some digging involved. "
She felt Liam's hand slide over her own and give it a squeeze, making her realize that she was gripping him tightly. Deciding it was best to drop the subject, she forced herself to relax and slumped against the seat as they arrived at their destination. Everyone climbed out a few doors away from their actual hide out and began to walk. Car dropped a friendly hand on her head and gave her a little reassuring pat. Emma gave him a playful glare, but then grinned. The sweet lug was worried about her and she knew he cared.
"Home sweet home." She murmured softly, earning a cold death stare from Bonny. She ignored the ice princess and slipped passed her and down the narrow staircase. Mrs. Chan greeted with her usual warmth. Behind the others trailed and she figured they had things to talk about and instead fell next to Simon. "I made a big boom." She said with a grin and giggled.
He cocked a brow and laughed, "You're just full of surprises aren't ya?"
"Never thought I would be, but learning to like it."
With a hot cup of coffee in her hands, courteous of Mrs. Chan, Emma relaxed with her new and old friends, waiting for what would be next on the 'to do' list and how Laura would proceed with the procedure.
He didn't know how it had come to this. Honor. Respect. Service. Duty. These were the tenets he'd lived by for most of his life. But now, it had come to this. The silver-haired man sat in the chair, his lips pursed. He kept them firmly together because he was aware that he might say something wrong.
No, not wrong. He might say something inappropriate, at least for the situation he was in. It wouldn't be wrong. But it wouldn't be right. He'd hated ambiguity all of his life. It was part of the reason he'd become a soldier. Right. Wrong. Black. White. Innocent. Guilty. Kill. Or be killed. Yes, ambiguity was not the path he'd chosen. Yet now, everything was ambiguous. Working for these motherfuckers, that wasn't ambiguous, that was just plain wrong. But....here he was, in a world of gray. He tried to stop thinking of how it had been. It was as it was.
He made a mental note to never use the word ambiguous again.
I can't even spell it for fuck's sake.
His thoughts were interrupted by Paul Lindeman.
"So you're telling me this Hansen or Flannery or whatever-the-fuck-his-name-is, got into the SPF main administrative building with, not one, but two of his bitches and unshackled himself and then blew up the building and killed over forty officers?"
Blaxland nearly smiled.
He valued his career, but he was tiring of having to deal with these bloated desk jockeys. One day, not now, maybe not even soon, but one day, he was going to rid himself of his own shackles. These weak pasty-faced bastards didn't deserve him or what or he did for them, but for for now he would play along.
Blaxland returned from his thoughts and nodded.
"Yes, sir," he said. "He did."
"How the fuck did he do that?" asked Lindeman. The Chairman of Pfizaxson knew his company wouldn't be happy. "And a senior officer was left dead on the street with his hand cut off and his eye pulled out. Do you know what that does to public morale?"
Public morale? What about the SPF's morale?
Blaxland knew the fat Chairman's ass was on the line over this.
But what was this? What was Hansen and his motley crew working on?
And is there a line wide enough to fit Lindeman's fat ass on it?
He nearly chuckled.
Fat ass or not, he had to play here and at least humor him. They didn't understand Hansen and they never would. Hansen didn't do things that made sense, he just did things. These fuckers would never understand; Hansen did things because they were right. There was a time when Blaxland had done the same, when he'd done what was right. That time was a distant memory now, but he understood Hansen.
He'd made Hansen.
"We didn't know he had his team together, sir," said Blaxland. "It would appear now that he has them all."
Lindeman sat back in his chair and it creaked under the load of his corpulence. On either side of him were the Chairmen of two other major corporations. They were, effectively, the government. Lindeman was reflective. He knew Blaxland was good, but he needed the problem solved quickly and the Hansen motherfucker seemed to be better than good. He seemed....invincible and driven by a rage of righteousness. If there was something that peeved Lindeman, it was righteousness. Money and power were his only values. The only things that had value.
"Well, what now then, General Blaxland?" he said. "I hope you're not going to tell me this Hansen character is unbeatable?"
Blaxland shook his head.
"No one is unbeatable, sir," he said. "I created Hansen. I made him what he is now. I can beat him."
Lindeman looked at him, narrowing his eyes.
"You....created....him?" he asked.
"Yes, sir," said the silver-haired man. "I created him for you. He was part of what made you what you are today."
"He worked for you," continued Blaxland. "For the government. He was part of the unit we set up years ago to.....persuade.....people and states to follow our bidding. You know that. You know all of that. And he was damn good at it. Now you want him snuffed out....for the sake of expediency. Of course, I'll do it, but remember, he was one of us once.....Sir."
"You created this monster?"
"Yes, sir. Just like you manufactured wars and regional destabilization. Except Hansen cracked. His mind changed."
He developed a conscience, sir," said Blaxland.
"Yes, sir. We though we'd changed him, but the neurosurgeon looking after him turned."
Blaxland wanted to get up and slap the Chairman hard, but he resisted the temptation, instead he balled his hands tightly. He was quickly tiring of the one-word questions, but now wasn't the time to change things.
But not now.
"Yes, sir," he said with a sigh. "Laura Black. She was a rebel sympathizer. She saw the opportunity to bring Hansen around to their way of thinking. From what we understand, it didn't take much to bring him around anyway."
The men in front of him were silent for a moment. Captains of industry now running the world, with a general in front of them answering their inane questions. Blaxland saw the irony in this, but resisted the urge to smirk.
Wouldn't happen in the armed forces; generals don't answer to captains.
"So," said Lindeman, finally breaking the silence, "your crack group was actually made up of rebels and they turned your best soldier into a rebel?"
Finally, he thought, an expansive question.
My turn to keep it short.
"This situation seems to be getting out of your control, general."
The men on either side of Lindeman nodded their heads. A flurry of jowls and double chins. It looked like a Michelin man impersonator's convention.
"No sir. We'll have to up the ante certainly, but you were the one who wanted him alive initially....sir. It was only at our last meeting you ordered me to kill them all. We had him at the bar. And Carl O'Shaughnessy. And the girl. We could have had them all. You wanted whoever was with her alive to find out how much information she'd given away. Information, by the way, sir, to which I still haven't been made privy to."
Lindeman sat back in his chair as if he'd been slapped.
"Sir," continued Blaxland, "Now we have to step up. We have to fight fire with fire to use an old cliché. We have to get them all. If we leave even one of them breathing, then it won't be over. It's never over with them....till they win."
"How many of them are there?"
"At least eight that we know of."
Back to the one word questions.
"So you're telling me that the whole of the SPF have to step up their efforts to eliminate the threat from just eight rebels?"
"They're not just any eight...."
Lindeman slammed his fist down on the desk. The two men beside him moved slightly. Blaxland guessed it would be the most exercise they'd do for the day. Lindeman's face was red and the veins in his neck were bulging. Civility and control were deserting him like it always did when his power and wealth were threatened.
"I want these fuckers dead, Blaxland," he shouted. "I don't give a fuck what information may be out there, I want them dead. We'll deal with the fallout later. Dead. Do you hear me?"
"Yes, sir. I hear you. Hard not to."
Lindeman narrowed his eyes and stared at him. The silver-haired man held his gaze, his face impassive. The fat man relented first.
"If news of the virus gets out, it will galvanise every rebel group globally."
"And," continued Lindeman, "cost us trillions. Trillions...." He trailed off. "Just kill them."
Blaxland could have sworn the last time had been billions.
"Anything you want, ask for it. Anything you need to do, just do it."
In the depths of his mind, Blaxland remembered a corporation that had said that. It was long ago, when the struggle for the world's resources hadn't quite been won yet, but when corporations were making their concerted play for control. He'd been young. Long ago....
That's what it all came down to. Control. Of people. Of resources. Of the earth.
Just do it.
Hansen rode in the back of the car with Emma squeezing his hand. He knew how she felt. She was excited and buzzing from her first real exposure to the danger and excitement of what he did. He'd never thought of it as dangerous and exciting, but he couldn't think of anything else he would be happy doing. She'd been on the run with him through some tight situations, but this had been planned and executed to perfection.
It had also shown their hand. Blaxland would know it was them the moment he was informed of the raid, and the surveillance footage would only confirm it. Everything would be stepped up another level.
Step up. One of Blaxland's favorite terms. It still felt odd that they were going to come up against him. He was almost a....father....
He shook his head slightly as he heard Emma and Laura talk about what they'd just done and what the removal of the shackles involved. Blaxland had been no father. He'd been a mentor and a leader, but there had been too much of the svengali in him. He'd used them in the end, especially Hansen. He did have a sense of responsibility and honor towards them, but it had all been to do with what he wanted. He'd gotten in too deep and then he couldn't control what had happened to them.
To Jess and Cassie....
They got out of the car some distance from Hansen's place. It would have to be dumped and they'd have to steal another one later. For now, they were all buzzing from what they'd just done. Hansen had the urge to shoot something. He knew what that meant.
He loved showtime. He loved action. He loved....
It's done now. You know that don't you. It now has to meander to its logical end. Blaxland or you.
I know, but it won't be me and there won't be any meandering to it. I'll be going at him like a fucking tsunami.
I would expect nothing less.
Good, because that's what you're getting.
He heard a laugh in his head, but they were already inside his place. Emma was still excited from their unshackling. Carl turned around to look at her.
"You're a natural at this, doc," he said. "And Finley, those ball devices you gave us really packed some punch. The common detonator was a great idea."
The big man shrugged at Carl. "Not a problem, but if I'd been there I would have given you the good stuff, didn't want to give you amateurs too much firepower."
Hansen enjoyed listening to the banter of his team.
"Calm down," he said to all of them with a smile. "This isn't meant to be fun. And you," he said turning to face Emma, "are turning into a regular little commando."
Emma already had a coffee in her hands and she was still flushed with excitement at what they'd done.
Bonnie broke the frivolity.
"How did you go with finding a lab for our two scientists here?" she asked Finley.
"Well," said Finley. "We did a bit of searching, both through the computer and physically. We think we've found one. Simon seems to think it will do."
The doctor cleared his throat.
"Yes, it's an abandoned plastics manufacturing facility close by. They've got some equipment there we can salvage and repair and what ever else we need, I've been told we can....er....source?"
He looked over to Finley and the big man gave him a wink.
"Yeah, doc," he said. "I'm sure we can source anything you need. Jimmy's still back in his den checking things out at the moment."
"How far?" asked Hansen.
"About thirty minutes drive," said Finley.
Hansen nodded. "Good. We won't be too far apart then. We'll need two teams."
"We're going to need to distract Blaxland while our two resident researchers get on with finalizing the vaccine," said Carl. "That's going to require a lot of firepower."
Hansen thought for a few moments. He knew most of them would want to be out in the field, not protecting Emma and Simon. That would be seen as the "boring" job, but he needed dependable people there that could maintain their concentration over long periods of time.
"It's going to be hot everywhere now," said Hansen. "You all know that Blaxland will be really gunning for us now."
Everyone nodded their heads slowly.
He hasn't been doing a great job of finding you has he?
What do you mean?
Well, really, don't you think you've been pretty free to move around without much risk of being caught?
I suppose the SPF presence on the street has been down. What are you saying?
I'm not saying anything. I'm just a voice in your head.
Well you keep being helpful and I may lay off taking the Palazonol.
You can't do this without me. Stop threatening me.
I'm not threatening. I'm telling.
Bonnie was talking now.
"He has been quiet though," she said, "I haven't seen a marked increase in SPF's since all this started going down." She briefly glanced at Emma.
"Don't be fooled," said Laura back in serious mode. "The guy's a cunt. Remember, I'm the one who was closest to him and he was an asshole. It's always all about Blaxland, so any vestiges of loyalty or the like that you have for him, get rid of it. He's a cunt, pure and simple."
They were all quiet again. The prospect of coming up against their former commander was not an occurrence anyone could train for. They would all do it, of course, but it was almost like fighting family or close friends.
"Well, we all know how he plays," said Hansen. "He's full of tricks and I'm sure he hasn't shown us all of them."
He looked to Bonnie. He wanted more from her. He needed more from her, but she was just standing to the side of the rest of the group, her face cold and impassive.
You need her.
I know that.
Well you'd better fucking sort it out.
"Ok," continued Hansen, "so we set the lab up, fit it out, do the work and then see how we can distribute the results. We have to keep the government and Blaxland distracted, so that means some of us will have to think of a plan that takes them away from where we are."
He paused for a moment, looking at all of his team except for the missing Jimmy. He was so proud of them all. Each of them would give their life for the other. He could not have wished for more.
"What do you think?" asked Carl.
Hansen paused for a moment and then his face broke out in a grin.
"Well," he said. "You all know me and what I do when I'm confronted by enemy attack."
Mrs. Chan sighed.
"Looks like we better start resourcing more firepower...." said Finley.
"I say we go after the drug companies that created this virus in the first place," he said. "We find their executives and their board members. One by one, not all of them at a time. We make them stew. We make them scared. We make them distract Blaxland. Without Blaxland, those weak bastards couldn't pull the skin off a baked custard."
"A baked custard?" said Laura, one eyebrow raised. "You used to be so inspirational. Baked custard?"
Everyone laughed and Hansen smiled.
"Well, you know what I mean," he said. "They'll be all over the general to protect their asses. That'll mean less looking for the lab and more looking for us. And we won't exactly be hiding."
"Jesus fucking Christ, I love you," said Laura.
"You just love mayhem. We also have to work out how we can make the biggest public noise about this. Maybe we can get our apathetic brothers and sisters in society to think for once in their meaningless lives. Jimmy will work out how to do that. We can jam state television and communications."