Syphon – Prologue

I’ve quite literally written less than 100 words this past week. That’s definitely my fault for just procrastinating, but anyway it’s another week . . . Well, it’s the middle of the week, and I’ve got nothing to rant about, so here’s an excerpt (the whole prologue) from my story that I just renamed to something far less ridiculous. It’s the prologue and it’s pretty long and I don’t expect anyone to really get through all of it, but here it is anyway. Oh, and by the way, strong language follows . . . so there’s that warning.

“Remind me again why I agreed to this.”

“Because we’re a team, and if you chicken out, I’ll make it my personal duty to hunt you down and rip your spine out, myself,” I say.

“Yeah . . . yeah, that.”

This is no time for Robbie’s games. He can pout and mumble to himself all he wants, we have an opportunity to make a hit—the hit—and I’ll be damned if I pass this up, just because it’s a little dangerous. What’s life without a little danger? But looking out of the car window at this completely ordinary, albeit fairly large, run of the mill house, it doesn’t look like the home of one of England’s most notorious villains. It’s far too conspicuous.

“Erin, are you sure this is the place?” Damon asks me. There is a definite tone of derision in his voice, and if I could, I’d answer with a fist to his face.

He’s questioning my sleuthing skills again. I would love to see what this team would be like without me, and maybe Jon. I would love to see Damon and Robbie attempt to keep to the shadows, tail villains without being noticed or without getting themselves killed. I would love to see how they would get themselves out of the headquarters of the top villain clans after being captured because of their idiocy. I would love to see how long they could sustain being London’s number one hero team without me. They’d probably be dead within a week. Now, I would love to see that.

I turn to him, the questioning stare he gives is probably a bigger insult than the actual question.

“Are you sure you need your vocal cords anymore? I’ll be happy to cut them out for you.”

That makes everyone shut up, Robbie’s mumbling included. In the rear-view mirror I see Robbie avert his gaze as I glare at him. Jon doesn’t though. He hasn’t moved an inch since we picked him up, and of course, Robbie couldn’t stop being a prick and making wise cracks, but at least there was an atmosphere. I make one tiny threat and everything becomes deathly silent. I wouldn’t be surprised if they stop breathing. What a lovely reputation I’ve made for myself. Jon smiles feebly back at me, and I return it.

Maybe if things had been different . . . Maybe if I wasn’t an idiot and hadn’t been a massive whore in the team, I might not have to spend so much time with Damon. No. I can’t think of that. I have Taylor, now. I can’t change things. And even if I could, I’d probably only want to change her dad.

With a sigh, I unbuckle my seatbelt and exit the car without opening the door, walking through the glass and metal. The joys of walking through walls.

“Come on, guys. We have a job to do.”

One of them opens their door and slams it shut, not understanding the concept of subtlety. I would scorn whoever it was, but it would be pointless. Frisking myself one more time, I take note of all my knives, ready to be thrown and ready to kill. There are five in my bandolier, four in my knife belt, and for close combat a boot knife, sheathed in the backs of each of my boots. This is overkill and we all know it.

“Wait, Erin, let’s not do this,” Damon calls behind me.

I’ve already started walking towards the house. He’s not my leader.

“We should leave it to someone else.”

I draw two knives from the front of my belt. What has gotten into him? Why not bring this up during the ride here? He’s acting like we’re not high profile heroes who do this all the time—who do this for a living!

“I really don’t like this.”

“Then don’t follow me.” Why is he being such a wuss, all of a sudden? That’s real leadership material right there. I reach the door and press my ear to it.

“Come on,” he whispers harshly. “We should just pull out now.”

“When has pulling out ever worked for us?” I whisper back. I instantly wish I hadn’t.

Trust Robbie to be the one to snigger at that, and trust Jon to look away the second I turn to look at him.

What are you doing with your life, Erin?

I can’t hear a thing on the other side. I don’t know what I was expecting to hear, but Damon has made one good point. My heart is pounding in my chest, adrenaline pumping around my body, ready for action. I guess that’s why I have a wide grin on my face as I look back at him, with the guys either side of him.

“You coming?”

“This is a terrible idea,” I hear him mumble as he and the team come over.

“Oh, suck it up. That’s what makes it that much more exciting. Come on guys, let’s do this.”

“Erin, you are not the leader, you don’t give—”

I’ve already walked through the closed door. I don’t need another one of his I’m-the-leader-and-when-I-say-we-stand-here-and-be-boring-that’s-what-we’re-going-to-do speeches. I’d rather take my chances in the home of a villain. Hell, I’d rather have ears ripped off.

Now that I’m in here, I can hear the faint drone of a television. As much as I don’t want to admit it, this guy is much classier than I had expected. The generic outside definitely is not representative of the inside. It’s a quite a large entrance hall and it’s still filled with so many fancy things; there are cabinets and bookshelves that have elegant carvings, a chandelier, fancy armchairs in the corners, and a pretty big staircase in the centre. For a brief moment, I think that he must earn quite a bit, but then I remember he’s a no good filthy villain, he probably hasn’t earned a single thing in his life.

“Erin, either come back or let us in,” I hear Damon say through the door.

But there’s one thing that has all my remaining attention. A painting. A tall blond haired man walking through a garden with tall grass and an oak swaying in the breeze, leaves flying through the background and foreground. The sun is creating a glow on the man. A glow that makes him look far more pleasant than a mind reading villain. It’s no doubt Synergy in this painting, our hit. All of this would be irrelevant, though; I would still easily put my knife between his eyes, if there wasn’t a young girl on his shoulders in the painting, with a wide grin like she’s having the time of her life. She can’t be older than five in it. This may just be a painting, albeit an incredibly obnoxious one, but I don’t like what it’s making me think of.

“Ridiculous,” I mumble. There’s no way a scumbag like him . . . This is Synergy, public enemy number two. But none of this makes any sense. Why the house so out in the open. And the girl in the painting with him . . .

“A daughter?” I whisper. “Goddamn it.”

No. I do not like this one bit.

***

There’s no way he has a daughter. How can I kill him if he has a daughter? I hate these damn rules! Damon’s going to be such a dick when he finds out.

Damon? Damon Curtis? And his team? Dead End is here? In my home? Okay . . . someone’s going to die today.

Melissa is just sitting by my side, doing one thing or another on her PDA, occasionally looking up at the television whenever she hears that a hero has died, to smile at that fact, completely oblivious to the fact that there’s a knife wielding bitch in the entrance hall, thinking about whether or not she can kill me. I’ll help her figure that out, then. I don’t let Erin’s presence faze me. She wouldn’t be able to kill me if I painted a bull’s-eye on my forehead.

“Melissa, go to your room. We’ve got guests,” I whisper. As I stand, I grab the remote and turn the television off. I open a drawer by the couch and pull out my empty revolver, loading it will the few bullets that are scattered around in the drawer.

“Heroes?” she whispers back. There’s not a glint of worry in her voice, and when I turn to her, she has a slight grin on her face. I frown back.

“That’s out of the question. Just go to your room.”

“Oh please,” she says, a little too loud for my liking, and jumps to her feet. “I can help. I can really help, and you know it.”

And just like that, the gun levitates out of my hands and into the grasp of my ten-year-old daughter. She can hold it like a professional killer, closing one eye and pointing it at the door to the entrance hall. If she hadn’t saved my life with it before, and couldn’t actually shoot well with it, I would take it back immediately. Her mother taught her. Her filthy hero of a mother taught her how to shoot when she was only six years old! It’s a relief that she barely comes to the Villain District anymore.

It’s heart-warming to know that she’ll be able to protect herself when she grows up, and she may even take out some heroes in the process, but right now, she’s far too young to be a killer, no matter how enthusiastic she may be to become one. It’s sickeningly wonderful.

“No, you’re too young.” Before she retorts to that, I go over and retrieve my revolver from her. She glares up at me, and if I choose to read her mind right now, something that I’ll never do right after a stupid disagreement again, I bet I’d find many bitter comments about me.

“Fine.” She finally gives in, but when she walks towards the door of the entrance hall, I flush that idea right down the toilet. Damn it.

“Wait!” I whisper urgently, and she stops in her tracks to look back at me with an eyebrow raised. “Erin’s in there. Okay just—just stay here.”

“That was him! I swear that was him I just heard,” I hear Erin think. Well, there goes the element of surprise.

“Can’t even decide what to do about me. How are you going to kill a hero?” she mumbles under her breath, definitely intending for me to hear.

She turns the television back on and sits back down on the couch, smiling when the first thing we hear is that Jess White, one of my close friends, leader of her clan and a fairly young villainess, escaped prison with most of her twenty person crew. Well, the murder rate is bound to rise this week.

I turn away from it, though, and reach for the door, trying to open it very slowly. But the second it moves an inch, I hear something hit hard against it.

“What am I doing? It could have been the girl! No, stop it Erin. He can’t have a daughter. It makes no sense.”

She’s an eagle-eyed one. I’ll have to be one step ahead of her if I’m going to beat her. I try to tap into the minds of her teammates, and realise that they’re still outside, waiting for Erin to let them in. We both know that’s not going to happen.

She’s hesitant. I could use that to my advantage. Quickly run out, she’ll stall for long enough, thinking that it could be Melissa, and I put a bullet between her eyes. I know it will work. She’s thinking too much about the buts and the what ifs.

“Easy kill.” I smile.

“So arrogant,” Melissa mumbles.

“It’s not arrogance, it’s confidence.” And I run out, with my revolver up, and shoot the second I see her standing there, by the stairs. I shoot when I see her pull her hand back way too late. I shoot when she throws a knife towards me. I shoot all of the bullets, all of them hit, but none of them do a damn thing but make dents in the wall. They go straight through her.

“Shit.” Run!

I duck, missing the knife by the skin of my teeth, and it flies past me into the living room. Before she can equip another one, I retreat back into the living room and slam the door shut, just in time for another knife to jam itself in the door.

How can you kill someone when bullets go right through them?

“Why does this not surprise me?” Melissa get’s up and throws her PDA on the couch again. “Don’t worry, father, I’m sure many high profile villains need their ten year old daughter’s help.” She grins as she walks towards the door, but I stand straight in front of it. Like hell I’m going to let her out there! “Father, I don’t think that you realise you’re in the way.”

“You’re not going out there.”

“I don’t need your permission to protect you.”

And just like that, all control of my body leaves me. I start to turn around so I’m facing the closed door, but I don’t want to go back out there. The door handle turns, but nobody even has a hand close to it, and the door swings open.

“Stop this, damn it!”

But there’s no way that she’ll listen. Villainy rule number five: do not negotiate with your victim. Do not negotiate with your comrades, with the exception of negotiations between clan leaders. Simply put, as long as you abide by the other rules, do whatever the hell you want. Still, I can’t help admire her decision. But I’m her father and this is still demeaning.

Standing there, having not moved, waiting for me is Erin, and the moment she spots me, she throws a knife straight towards me. Even in Melissa’s control, I can’t help but flinch slightly as it comes insanely close to my face.

“That was too close.”

“How—”Erin breaks in. Her confused little face is satisfying to see, but that is still no excuse for this.

“Don’t think this won’t go unpunished,” I say, as Melissa walks past me, far too happy with the sight of the knife levitating millimetres from my face.

“You are very welcome, father.”

“How is this possible? Villains having kids? There should be a law against that.”

I smile slightly at that, but don’t respond. She’s just ignorant and a pathetic, filthy hero. I’m not going to waste my time educating her.

“Now,” Melissa turns to Erin. “Would you like to die quick and painless or slow and screaming in pain?”

***

She’s just a kid and she’s already started going down this path. Her dad may be a lost cause, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t save her.

“What’s your name?” I ask, completely diverting the conversation from the negative issue of my death.

She scoffs at it, though. “You’re funny. I’ll make it quick, then.”

I would have made a run for it, but as I try to run, all the feeling in my body drains out of me, as if she’s sapping every last bit of energy I have. I can’t move. And then it hits me; this girl, this little prepubescent girl has got one seriously powerful ability, and she’s being targeted at heroes like an angry wolf. My knife, the one that is levitating in front of Synergy, rotates, and shoots straight at me. My heart nearly jumps right out of my chest, but the knife stops only when it makes contact with my forehead. I hold my breath, trying not to show any outward signs of emotion. Heroics rule number five: when a villain thinks that they have you cornered, show no signs of emotion. Give them no reason to doubt their flawed plan.

No, I’m not scared. It’s practically impossible to stab or shoot me when I’m all too aware of a threat, but how the hell do I get my movement back? I have to get out of here. Think, damn it! Think!

My eyes dart to the telepath, and his smile widens a little.

Erin you idiot!

The second I realise what I was about to do I try to empty my mind. Thinking is out of the question. The slight grin that was on his face is replaced by a grimace of displeasure. Instinct. That’s all that I have to go on. So, not thinking at all I call out, “Guys, now would be a fabulous time to break the damn door down!”

“I told you not to go in there,” Damon’s muffled voice calls back.

“Shut up and get in here!”

“Move aside, I think the one guy with actual muscle should handle this.” Robbie, you cocky prick.

Robbie must be attempting to kick the door down, or something, because a continuous  barrage of something hard hitting against something else hard reverberates around the room. The wood in the door even begins to splinter, and the more Robbie barges it, the weaker it gets. Surprisingly, it doesn’t break down on his first barge. The girl watches the door with a far less cocky expression, and I hope that it’s for the reason I think it is.

“Father, I can’t control that many,” she whispers behind her.

As if whispering would do any good. For someone who can also control the shadows and make things out of the darkness, for someone who has pretty much found her comfort zone in pitch blackness, hearing is not an issue for me.

“So, how’re you holding up in there?” Robbie asks, as he hits the door again. The lock is really starting to look flimsy. One more hit should break it down.

“I’ve been in worse situations,” I call back to him.

The little girl snorts at that, and her smile returns as she turns back to me. “I really don’t think you have, Erin. I’m not as compassionate as other villainesses.”

With that, the knife at my forehead is thrust forward, through my skull, through my brain, and through the other side. Since I don’t hear it clatter on the floor, I assume that it has jammed into the wall.

“Great idea. I can tell that you’re going to make a great villainess,” I say, smirking, as hers disappears. “Hey Synergy, you want to contribute anything? Maybe you could read my mind to death.”

“You filthy bi—” he starts.

The door breaks down at that moment. With Robbie sauntering in, shirtless, and looking around the place, nodding with admiration. Sometimes I wonder why I haven’t killed him myself, yet. Jon comes in behind him, and after spotting Synergy, instantly extends a hand at him. Synergy instantly collapses, falling to the floor unconscious.

“Father!” The little girl kneels down by his side—her father’s side. Her father who is a villain, raising this little girl. “What did you do?” she screams at Jon.

Before any of us can answer, and tell her that he’s perfectly fine, she sends Jon flying back out of the door, into Damon. Being the silent type, he doesn’t even cry out a little, though Damon does, as they fall over each other. It’s a good thing that she’s not that powerful, because as she does that, I regain control of my motions.

“Who the hell is this?” Robbie says.

“Shut up!” she screams at him, sending him flying back into the other guys. They tumble over again, fumbling over each other as they try to get up.

Before she can do the same to me, I fall into the shadows, sinking into the ground to become nothing more than a shapeless shadow. The joys of travelling as a shadow. I can’t see a thing, but I can sense everything. I know that the girl is panicking, shuffling back as I edge ever closer to her, trying to force back a shadow, but failing miserably.

“Get away from me!” her echoic voice bounces around in my head. “Leave us alone!”

She backs up into the living room door, and her echoic voice becomes echoic cries. At the door, the guys are finally getting a grip, and they hurry back in here.

“Jon, put her to sleep.” That’s the smartest thing I’ve heard Damon say all day. And just like her father, the little girl collapses to the floor, unconscious.

I rise up out of the ground, taking my form again. Simple scare tactics. If I wanted to, I could have been on her in an instant, and brought her into the ground. I could have stopped while she was half way in, cutting her body in half, and, effectively, killing her. But she’s just a kid. A kid who was brought up in the worst environment. It’s not her fault her dad raised her like this.

“Please tell me she isn’t what I think she is,” Damon says, and the guys come over, looking over the little girl, sleeping peacefully with her villain of a father inches away.

“Let’s go,” I say, turning for the door. This is not happening. I refuse to be a part of this. I’m not doing this again.

“Erin. . . ”

“No, Damon.” I sigh, as I reach the door, pinching the bridge of my nose. I can’t even find the will to yell at him. “I’m not orphaning a little girl. I don’t care who her dad is, that’s not happening.”

“We can’t just leave him . . . can we?”

“That’s what I’m doing and I suggest you all do the same.” But that would require Damon and Robbie to be smart. “I’m not doing this again.”

“Erin.” When Robbie takes on a serious tone, that’s when we all know that something cruel and cold is about to happen. Something nobody in this team likes doing, but ‘needs’ to be done. “We’re heroes, and as heroes, we have to abide by the rules, otherwise we’re just misguided everyday vigilantes.”

The rules. These goddamn rules. Sure, some of them may be reasonable and pretty smart. But you know what? Fuck the rules and fuck this damn system! Rule number thirteen: If it comes to light while committing your hit on a villain that he/she has a child, regardless of said child’s age, you must complete the hit and kill the villain, thus making the world a safer place.

A safer place? Is that what justifies this? I’ve already done that once, and it took me far too long to get over what I’d done. I’m not being a part of this, this time.

“Do you honestly agree with these rules?” I ask, not wanting to believe that I’m the only one in this house with a working conscience.

“We don’t have a say in this. We don’t follow the rules, we’re just everyday vigilantes, breaking the law. I don’t know about you, but I do not want to end up in a prison full of angry villains.”

“I can’t believe this,” I mumble. “Robbie, you spineless coward! We are not hitmen. We are heroes. We do what is right, not what we’re told to do. I couldn’t care less if I end up in a prison full of pansies!”

Nobody speaks. Robbie just tries to stare me down, while Damon slowly nods, edging closer to him. If we didn’t have a child together . . .

Jon is still as silent as ever, and he’s looking down at the ground, with a furrowed brow. Surely he must see how ridiculous they’re being.

“Jon?” I say, my voice softening. He’s never caused any drama, probably because he can’t really cause drama, but he usually makes the right decisions. He glances up at me, darts his eyes at the guys, and settles on me again, curving his lip upwards slightly as he walks over.

I return the smile but it’s short-lived, because when he brushes past me and walks away, I’m left standing here, in front of possibly two of the most stubborn people alive.

“You’re not doing this. You can’t do this.” Down on the floor beside them, the two villains start to rouse, now that Jon is out of range his ability must be wearing off. Good.

Robbie notices, and his eyes widen. “It’s now or never,” he mumbles.

It takes me far too long to process that, because he’s already run over to me, snatched a knife out of my bandolier and pushed me back hard, so I fall, a wave of pain sent through my head. I shut my eyes tight. There’s a ringing in my ears. I open my eyes again. There are black patches in my vision.

No. Stay awake. Robbie . . . Robbie! No, you stupid idiot! I can’t pass out. I refuse to.

I don’t know when Damon got here, but he’s by my side, helping me sit up. His hands reach around the back of my head. What is he doing? He pulls his hand back and there’s a red liquid on them. He looks worried. Why? Is he bleeding? Am . . . am I? No, that’s not important. I don’t care if I have patches in my vision. I don’t care that I can’t hear well. He shoots a sharp glare behind him, and I follow his gaze.

No, Robbie, stop!

I force myself up, despite Damon trying to keep me down. Robbie has already reached Synergy. I try to run at him, but fall to my hands and knees after one step.

Get up, Erin!

Robbie shoots me a cold stare, and his mouth moves in a way that I don’t understand. Is he talking? I don’t know. I think he is. But then he smiles in a twisted disgusting way that would be perfectly suitable for a villainous piece of shit. He kneels down, pushing Synergy by the shoulder, keeping him down, and thrusts my knife deep into his chest.

No. Not again. Not again!

I have to get up, I don’t care about the pain shooting through my head. My vision is very close to almost black, but so help me god, Robbie is going to pay for this. I run at him, with as much speed as I can in my state, and tackle him to the ground, and lay as many punches as I can to him. I think I’m screaming out at him, but I can’t be sure. He’s too strong against me. I don’t even think I scratched him, and he throws me off him, across the room, into the solid wall, and my final patches of vision black out, as I let go.

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