The majority of the CCI workers were screaming.
Most of them were screaming in fear, but about a quarter were screaming
in exultant rage. An almost Holy fervor had grown with the rioters'
bosoms, a desire to wipe the money hungry corporate machinery financial
necessity had made them a part of off the face of the Earth.
Red himself was filled with a gleeful maliciousness as he blasted monitor
after monitor with his holy handgun. He also had a few chuckles by shooting
the headsets off frightened representatives, who practically wet themselves
before realizing that the bullets had destroyed their sets but left
the heads themselves intact.
Red wasn't really sure how all this had started… he knew what
had upset him, of course. It was the new Army of Darkness DVD. Somehow
that had ballooned into him taking down the fascist corporate empire
that held his monetary leash. It had made more sense to him at the time,
and really, in this case, the ends justified the means even to the point
of means not really being all that imperative to identify. The others,
though… he had no idea how they came about the idea.
Again, he shrugged off his curiosity and lost himself in the destructive
revelry. He'd been working in this place for far too long already. He
was now certain that every single day he had been there, there was a
part of him, somewhere hiding in the dark corners of his mind, that
had wanted to just this- cut loose and destroy the entire operation.
As he walked up and down the spines of workstations, hacking computers
in a far more primitive sense, he began to understand what Argento meant.
He was given these abilities so he could do good in this world, and
he never felt more powerful, more proud to have become a Saint than
right this instant. He was helping in a righteous cause. He was doing
the lords work. He was smashing a large number of computers, not for
the thrill, not for the satisfying sounds it made, but for the betterment
of God's children. He was actually accomplishing something.
A security guard or two felt somewhat differently about it. They rose
to quell the riot, not with guns, of course, as they had none. They
attempted to calm the crowd and failing that, did their best to empty
the room of innocent bystanders before the police arrived. Red and the
others following his destructive lead allowed it- they weren't looking
for hostages, just to take out the workplace that they'd been shackled
to. A few of the frightened ones tried to fight back. Not the smartest
choice of actions, especially considering that they could have just
left with no trouble. Any who attacked first were dealt with swiftly
by the rabble, not too harshly- they were alive, of course, but taken
out of the way. Knocked unconscious, perhaps a bone or two broken, then
left on the floor where they fell, the annihilation of CCI a far more
pressing matter than protecting those who chose to protect it.
Eventually, of course, the inevitable happened and flashing red lights
shone through the front windows of the building between the slats of
the vertical blinds. Sirens carried over the rush of breakage and the
riot began to slow, it's participants sobered by the threat of real
consequences. Somehow, the idea of wiping corporate evil off the face
of the earth was less appealing when you remember that corporate evil
technically squeezes through on the right side of the American Justice
System. Barely, thought Red, but it's got a lot of expensive lubricant.
The crowd's rage was subsiding, turning to fear.
Red could not allow that.
"Everyone!" he called out, his sword held high over head,
drawing all eyes to him. "Come with me! I can get us out of here!
Someone, close the blinds! Turn out the lights!"
The mob's fear of capture worked to Red's benefit and they hastened
with him to the back of the collection floor. Red made his way into
the payroll office and as many as could fit with him pushed inside,
the rest huddling close.
"What are we doing?" someone near the front asked. The crowd
began to murmur its concern.
"Expanding our horizons," said Red.
He lifted his swords high once more and sliced through the wall- a
wall CCI happened to share with the Target facing the opposite direction.
Target shoppers shrieked as shelves of different sizes and shades of
men's jeans toppled, shredded, to the floor.
Red's followers were struck silent as he stepped through into the bustle
of fresh commerce.
"Come on in," said Red, "They have a lot of nice things
to break here."
"Status?" said Orloske.
"Welcome, sir!" said Katz, rising.
"Never mind that, fill me in. Who was that on our Comm line? We're
supposed to be secure!"
"We sent a crew out to recover what's left of Mobile C, but they
haven't arrived yet. It's like the mystery woman will be long gone by
"What about CCI? What was so mysterious that I had to see it in
"It's one of the subjects, sir." Katz sat back at the desk
and his fingers immediately began flowing over the mouse and keyboard
of his station, bringing multiple displays up on the numerous screens
in front on them. "Coates, Alfred L. We triggered Phase II, as
you ordered, but… well, look."
Orloske squinted at the larger screen, showing a blow up of one of
the CCI security cameras. "He's got a sword… and a gun. So?"
"Where did he get a sword and a gun at CCI?"
"I give up, where?"
"We don't know," said Katz. "We've been analyzing the
footage, and he just seems to pull them out of nowhere."
"Pull it up," said Orloske.
The screen switched to a camera in the break room. Workers were gathered
around a felled soda machine.
"That's him there," said Katz, gesturing to a man with his
back to the camera. His arm went up near his head and pulled, drawing
"It must be in his shirt," said Orloske.
"It's too long," said Katz. "He couldn't have hid that
in his shirt, not sitting down, which he did for hours before this.
Plus someone would have noticed it. And the gun… the gun he seems
to pull out from just left of his heart, but on the outside of his shirt.
Here." He brought up footage of just that.
"Hmm…" said Orloske, stroking his moustache.
"And there's more. They can't hurt people. Neither of them."
"What do you mean?"
"Watch this," said Katz. Mr. Coates appeared on the screen
in slow motion, the picture a little pixilated from being blown up. "We've
been doing our best to clean up the image." Another representative,
still on the phones, begins to turn to face Coates. "Here. Coates
fires the gun right at this poor idiot, and… bam, the guy's headset
explodes off his head, but the guy is fine, and then… there. The
bullet takes out the monitor, directly behind the guy. He does the same
thing with the sword."
"I've never seen anything like this," said Orloske. "And
I assume his file is of no help?"
"None," said Katz. Coates' file came up on the main screen,
a file photo of Coates using his PC, taken through his own computer
camera. "There is nothing on his entire hard drive that would provide
even the simplest insight into this. According to his file, he's a boring
loser. Lives with a girl, reads a lot, watches a lot of movies and television.
Doesn't really go out much, not into sports, politics, news… Hell,
we set him off with a news plant about a stupid DVD. His past is completely
unremarkable- grew up in Michigan, decent grades, no police record or
any such. Moved to New York State two years ago with his girlfriend.
There is nothing, nothing to indicate that this guy is anything more
than an average shmuck."
"And there he is, anything but. What's going on there right now?"
Katz brushed a few keys and the live feed came back up. "It looks
like… the police are just arriving."
"What's he doing?" Orloske leaned forward. "He's rallying
them up again. Is he going to try to take on the police?"
They watched in stunned silence as Coates lead the other subjects to
the rear of the building and set them loose in the neighboring department
"This should be interesting," said Orloske. "Do we have
access to the Target cameras?"
"Of course, sir," said Katz, and with a click, brought them
Chelsea was peeling away the layers of Argento's new rental car severed
hunk by severed hunk, working her way to the Alison filled center. Seeing
Alison there was the last thing she needed, or expected, for that matter.
She had thought that in this one thing, at least, she could sit victorious.
Alison was supposed to be irreparably rechristened and despairing in
Long Island- Hayden had promised her that.
Argento was clawing at her shoulders, attempting to hold her back,
as if he had a chance. Alison looked completely stupefied. It was obvious
she had no idea what was going on. Just as Chelsea had cleared enough
room for her own entry into the vehicle, Alison opened her own door.
Chelsea whipped her weapons into their holders and leapt across the
front seats of the vehicle, grabbed Alison by the waist, and tacked
her to the ground. She thrust her forearm against the back of Alison's
head, pinning her face to the drive, and twisted Alison's right arm
behind her back.
"How?" Chelsea seethed through clenched teeth.
"How what?" Alison asked.
"Chelsea, please," Argento said, bustling his way around
the scrapped car.
"How are you here?" Chelsea said. "You were supposed
"It wasn't me," said Alison. "That was Kimmy…"
"Kimmy?" said Chelsea.
"One of David Patrick's children," said Argento, "Now,
please, we have more important things to worry about here!"
One of David Patrick's children? One of his 'Righteous Angels'? While
Alison stayed here with Red, happily every after. Chelsea's eyes began
to tear up.
"You don't own him," she had shouted at Alison years ago. "He
doesn't belong to you and you alone!"
Perhaps she had been wrong.
Something inside of her alerted her to listen more carefully to the
noise around her. Not the honking of the cars she and Argento's wreck
was blocking. Not Argento fussing for her to let up Alison. Not Alison's
heavy breathing beneath her. There. Faint. A crash. People began to
hurry noisily out of the front doors of the Target at the center of
Chelsea rose to her feet, taking care to step on Alison as she went,
and raced off with the Target in her sights. She pushed her way through
the shoulders of the fleeing customers and into the store. At first,
she couldn’t tell where the ruckus was coming from- the innocent
victims were making too much chaos.
She leapt up onto on of the checkout aisles, looking over everyone's
heads. She couldn't see over the shelves, but she could see the tops
of a couple that were wobbling towards the back of the store. As she
leapt out into the crowd, she heard a crack and a metallic groan as
the shelving tumbled down, followed by a group of cheers.
Chelsea wound her way in the cheering direction. It was a toy aisle
that had been toppled, loads of Transformers and Harry Potter figurines
spread across the floor and crushed under the weight of the board games
on the opposite side.
Nine or ten people had begun attempting to make the next shelf follow
suit. Barbie and Ken quivered in their packages as five people would
push on one side, and then five more pushed on the other. In this way,
they were loosening the shelving and with each push, a few more toys
close to the edge would plummet to their demise.
"Hey, let me help!" called a familiar voice.
Red rounded a corner from the men's wear and drew his sword. "You,
people," he said to the five on the other side, "Push!" He
jogged down the aisle, his sword neatly detaching the unit from the
floor it had been affixed to. Hoards of dolls of various different occupations
never got the chance to make it to safety as the second aisle came down,
taking them with it.
"Let's do another!" Red called, circling to the next aisle,
which held the electronic learning devices for toddlers.
His followers shouted in approval and clapped as his sword pierced
the Learn-A-Lot Word Sphere.
Chelsea leapt. She launched herself at Red, right foot first, with
the intent of landing a solid kick in his stupid spectacled face.
As she did, she had a vision of her own defeat. Again. She saw herself
and Red clashing, and him disarming her… then something… dishonor
and shame. Red and…. Alison going off together. Of course, add
insult to injury.
As her second sight ended and her first returned, Red was on the floor
and she was landing. He had apparently sliced only half of the aisle
before her kick had connected. And, of course, she had missed it.
She drew her sword over her head and swung it down at Red.
He brought his up to block just as quickly, the clang of the two blades
sounding out once more.
"Didn't we just do this last night?" said Red. "Oh,
that's right, you pussied out then, didn't you? Ready to take your whoopin'
like Saint, or you just going to fall back on your little 'retibution'
Vision be damned. She could take him. They were wrong sometimes. Sometimes.
Just knowing the future changes it. Seeing the vision can change what
"Oh, I am so very ready, goggles," she said, squinting through
She felt Red's leg sweep hers out from under her before she realized
he was doing it. He hopped to his feet and looked down at her. "Nobody
but Alison calls me that, bitch." He nodded to the others, standing
around watching. "Go," he told them. "The police will
figure out where we went soon. Make your way out." He then turned
his face back to Chelsea and grinned. "I can handle this."
She rolled to her left as he sliced into the floor she had been laying
on. Her roll carried her over onto her feet, and she rose just in time
to leap over Red's follow through.
He brought his blade up and deflected a blow that almost came right
down through the middle of his head, deflecting it down the side of
his arm, stripping off the outer portion of his left sleeve.
He thrust and Chelsea dodged away to his right. Red spun around in
the opposite direction. Chelsea parried, Red's sword glancing off her
and slicing six inches off her left trouser leg.
"Now, does that mean you're carrying," asked Red, ducking
Chelsea's swipe, "Or you're buying?"
"What are you, Spider-Man?" said Chelsea. "You're not
going to distract me with that nonsense. I'm a Saint, too, you know,
just as blessed as you are."
"Sure you are," said Red. "You're just jealous 'cause
God likes me best."
"You are so retarded!" Chelsea shouted.
She lunged at Red and he brought his sword in from the side and began
twirling it around, the edges scraping against her own pushing and pulling
at it until it was wrenched from her grasp and flew away from her.
"How about that," Red said, menacingly. "Just like in
the movies. You were saying?"
Alison peeled herself off the ground, wincing.
"Was that her?" she asked as she took Argento's extended
"Chelsea," he said, nodding.
"Is there a reason she has a problem with me?" Alison wiped
her hand under her nose and discovered a trail of blood.
Argento pulled a tissue from his pocket and handed it to her. "Yes," he
said, "But we can go into all that later. I'm going to see what's
happening at CCI and call into DI&R, get this wreck taken care of.
You just… keep safe and out of sight."
He began jogging off around the side of the plaza to where CCI was,
dialing his cell as he ran. Alison didn't know what to do. For a moment
she just stood there, but she realized that she wouldn't want to be
about when someone came to deal with this accident. She looked around
for a moment, then decided. She headed towards Target. If Chelsea was
headed there, it could be related to this Red thing, and she wasn't
just going to stand around and wait for the 'boys' to take care of everything.
Most of the crowd had cleared out by the time she was inside, leaving
just a handful of people who seemed to be tearing the place apart. A
young man was hurrying towards the exit toting an expensive looking
piece of stereo equipment from the electronics section. She assumed
he was looting, as rioters tended to do, when suddenly a pair of the
other rioters grabbed him and threw him aside, taking the stereo from
him and smashing it into components. Alison backed away as the pair
began smashing everything else in sight as well- the watch counter,
the candy displays, the bicycles, and whatever else they came across
on their way to the exits.
Suddenly, from behind her, she heard the faint sound of Red's voice.
She turned and saw a shelf full of toddler toys teetering a bit and
she noticed the base was half severed in a familiarly clean cut. She
began to approach when a sword suddenly came flying in her direction,
landing in the floor with a clank. She picked it up and peeked around
the corner from whence it flew.
"I called you a retard, or did you not understand?" said
Chelsea, unarmed, glaring at Red.
"I know the words individually, but together they seem like nonsense," said
Red, still holding his own sword just inches from Chelsea's face. "Unless
you mean to imply that even a mentally challenged individual could beat
you in a sword fight. Then I'd tend to agree." Alison looked at
the sword in her hands and realized it must be Chelsea's.
Chelsea made a sudden movement, bringing her hand up towards her chest,
but before she could do anything, Red said, "Oh, no you don't!" and
swung his sword through Chelsea's shoulders. The sword sliced through
her bra and t-shirt, her sleeves sliding down to her elbows as she put
her hands to her chest to hold her top up, but something else strange
also happened. Some sort of… harness appeared on Chelsea as the
sword sliced through her, the straps breaking as the blade passed through.
As it fell to the floor, Alison realized it was Chelsea's shoulder holster,
gun still inside it, and her scabbard.
Chelsea was flush with anger or embarrassment. Or both. She began to
back away from Red slowly, stumbling a bit on the broken toys scatted
around on the floor. Alison smiled to herself. That was her guy. Red
would show this girl who was Saint.
"Not so tough now are you?" said Red, moving towards her. "Without
your fancy gun and sword you're just another scared little girl, huh?" He
slapped her tauntingly on the cheek with the flat side of his blade.
Chelsea cringed away from the touch of the blade.
Alison was smiling a little less now.
"Are you scared of me?" said Red. "Are you scared of
what a man could do to you now that God has abandoned you? You should
Red's sword darted out again and sliced through Chelsea's thighs, making
her jeans officially into cutoffs. Chelsea's teeth were clenched and
fully exposed as she heaved her breath heavily through them.
"You should be very afraid of me," Red said.
Alison was very afraid of him. She had never seen him like this. Chelsea
may seem like a bitch, but she's a Saint- one of the good guys. Alison
couldn't just let Red… do god knows what. She looked down at the
sword in her hands.
She ran back behind the shelving and stuck the sword through its lower
half where the original cut had ended. She leaned against the unit and
completed the severance. Through the crash of the fall and the cacophony
of nursery rhymes, alphabet songs, and giggling child voices the learning
toys began spouting upon impact, she could hear Red groan.
Chelsea's eyes were wide with surprise for a moment, and then she saw
Alison and her face returned to the glare Alison had become familiar
with so very quickly.
Red was pinned under the shelving and toys.
Chelsea stooped to pick up her weaponry, still holding her clothes
on with one hand. As she shook the extraneous pant legs off, Alison
held the sword out to her. Chelsea snatched it quickly and slipped it
into the scabbard.
"I don't know what was wrong with him," said Alison.
"A lot of things," said Chelsea. "But in this case,
the same thing that was wrong with the others. He couldn't play nice
with the toys without breaking them. So I tried to stop him."
"Why would he do that?"
"I don't know, but I'm going to find out."
"I'm just glad I could help," Alison said with a weak smile.
Chelsea spat at her.
"I don't need you help," she said. "And I'd appreciate
it if you, your stupid boyfriend and the turncoat liaison of his would
stay as far away from me as humanly possible. Thanks." With that,
she hurried out of the building, doing her best to hold her clothes
and weapons together as she went.
Red groaned again.
Alison crouched down by his side. "Red? Red?"
He looked up at her.
"Red, I don't know what's gotten into you, you see to have gone
a little crazy, but your my slightly crazy guy, so I'm going to get
you out of there and take you home and then we're going to run as fast
and far as we can, ok?"
Red closed his eyes with a grunt.
Alison grabbed his sword and was going to use it to cut him out of
the unit, but she heard someone call out "They came through here!" from
the back of the store, followed by a hustle of many feet. She stabbed
the sword behind Red's right shoulder, as she remembered him doing,
and sure enough, it disappeared from her hands.
"Over here!" she called out as police in gas masks made their
way through the store. "They pushed this shelf over on him, he's
trapped! Please, help us!"
A few of them stopped and helped lift the shelf off Red. They wanted
him to stay there, but he told them nothing was broken and stood up
on his own. They ushered Alison and Red out of the building quickly
and to the paramedics standing by. They bandaged up Red a little, but
he wasn't hurt seriously at all, and when they moved on to other wounded,
the two slipped away and hopped on a nearby city bus home.