Title: Nietzsche's Soldiers 3:Super Men
LettuceBacon&Tomato - July 11, 2011 11:10 PM (GMT)
These next two Darwin's Soldiers
stories will both be ending trilogies. Nietzsche's Soldiers 3
marks the completion of about a year-long endeavor to create three stories focusing on Dragonstorm characters instead of our heroes. I'll be updating this story every day until its completion.
This final Nietzsche story will chronicle the founding of Dragonstorm. Since its an origin story, I don't believe it requires any knowledge of the expanded Darwin's Soldiers
universe to understand, though obviously you will miss a large amount of the references. Darwin's Soldiers
is a sci-fi/furry universe. You can learn more here
Off we go!
-------------------------------------------------------------------The thoroughbred Mustang stared derisively at the freshman Shire horse. “You don’t even have a gun.”
“Could never afford one.” The lanky, poorly-dressed Shire stood unflinchingly a hand-breath away from the taller Mustang.
The Mustang was part of a ring of horse college students surrounding the Shire. They were the Crazy Shoes gang, one of the major gangs on the University of California Three Rivers campus. The Shire was attempting to join, despite clearly coming from a lower social class than the other members.
“Family’s never had enough money to buy baking powder, much less gunpowder,” the Shire continued.
“Well, nobody likes scholarship kids around here,” the Mustang snorted. Like most of the university’s student body, these gang members had gotten in due to their wealthy parents and their contacts. “Being friends with you won’t get any of us high-paying jobs once we graduate.”
“Even when my scholarship comes from W-Y Industries?”
The Mustang raised an eyebrow. “How’d someone like you get a scholarship from there? You need connections to deal with a company like that.”
“W-Y has more connections than just legitimate business ones,” the Shire retorted. “Like most conglomerates, it understands that having contacts in the lower class can accomplish things no amount of upper class contacts could.”
The Mustang raised both eyebrows. “Yeah? How so?”
“Well, living on the streets makes one much more capable than they first appear to be.”
The Shire’s hands suddenly snapped forward and whacked the Mustang in both hips. Feeling a sidearm tucked into his belt, the Shire ducked under the Mustang’s grasping hands, came up behind him with the gun in his hand, and had the pistol to the Mustang’s neck.
“Poor people are also willing to risk more to get what they want,” the Shire hissed in his ear, as he moved the Mustang out of the circle so he could see everyone at once.
Several gang members drew their guns, but couldn’t shoot for fear of hitting their leader.
“I’m not looking for a fight,” the Shire announced to the group at large. “I just want to join your gang, and I don’t want any more slights about me being here on scholarship.”
The gang seemed hesitant.
“Notice how easily I did this,” he continued. “Think how useful it would be to have me on your team.”
He stared down an Arabian horse who appeared to be the second-in-command. Under his gaze, the Arabian lowered his pistol. Following his lead, the others slowly stood down.
The mustang saw his gang shift to the Shire’s side. “Okay,” he said. “We’ll let you join. One question first: are you thoroughbred?”
There was a brief pause.
“Yes,” said the Shire. “Does that matter?”
“We don’t like half-breeds. Or mutts.”
“Well, good thing I’m neither,” the Shire replied. Lowering the gun, he handed it to the Mustang and stepped back.
For a second he Mustang held the pistol and glanced calculatingly at the Shire, but then thought better of it and put the gun away.
“When do we all meet next?” asked the Shire.
“Tomorrow at 4. Here.”
“I’ll be here.” The Shire turned and started off.
“Wait,” called the Mustang. “You never mentioned your name.”
The Shire looked around. “O’Neil.”
“Don’t matter. Just O’Neil.” He turned back and continued to walk towards his new college.
* * *
“Your first day, and you’ve already joined a gang?” Oli let out a quiet whistle. “You don’t mess around.”
Oli Struth was O’Neil’s acquaintance from downtown Fresno, where they both grew up. Coming from a family jewelry company, Oli had a much easier life than O’Neil, but little ambition. O’Neil found that with his strong personality, he can easily persuade Oli to do what he wants.
“You need to be a member of a group in these kinds of places,” replied O’Neil, putting a few clothes in a drawer and setting some school supplies on his desk. In less than a minute he had finished unpacking. “Especially in my situation. I need the safety of numbers to avoid becoming bully bait like most scholarship kids at this school.”
“I can’t imagine anyone bullying you,” said Oli. Despite arriving before O’Neil, he was still unpacking several suitcases of things. “Nobody in Fresno did.”
“They tried, I could just outwit them. But here it’s different; everyone here is intelligent, and under the protection of a rich family and the school system. Its an environment one cannot brave alone.”
Oli was silent for a few moments. “O’Neil?” he finally asked. “Do you think I should join a gang?”
O’Neil chuckled lightly. “You wouldn’t last five minutes in a gang, Oli. A fraternity would be more your style. We can visit Club Rush and find a good one for you tomorrow.”
LettuceBacon&Tomato - July 12, 2011 11:22 PM (GMT)
O’Neil and Oli sat with seventeen or so other freshmen in a room. It used to be a storage closet for a Mechanical Engineering department, until it was cleared out and prepared to become the headquarters of a long-standing fraternity.
Several veteran members were sitting in a group at the head of the room. Their leader, a brown-furred Vulpine named Patrick, put down a clipboard with minutes written on it. “Welcome to the first meeting of Sigma Sampi Omicron. We’re one of the largest fraternities on this campus, so if you’re able to get in, it will be a big accomplishment, and you’ll make lifelong friends and contacts that will help you for the rest of your life.”
The Vulpine was not a very good public speaker, and the speech was very poorly written. O’Neil wondered how he got to be in charge of the fraternity.
“The first thing you’ll need to know, of course, is how to get in. One of the reasons we are so popular is that we accept anybody. While many fraternities on campus only allow individuals of a certain species, we consider applications from anyone regardless of gender, social class, or religion. Luckily for you, our indoctrination process is much easier than most fraternities.”
The other veterans started passing out pink t-shirts with the appropriate Greek letters on it. “You’ll have to wear this shirt for two weeks and when people talk to you, make sure to mention “I’m a proud member of Sigma Sampi.” You’ll notice our motto is on the back. ‘We’re kind of a big—‘“
“Oh, come on!” exclaimed O’Neil suddenly, after turning the shirt around. “That’s our motto?”
The head student was taken aback. “Yes…”
“ ’We’re kind of a big deal’?” he echoed. “Could you have thought of something more unoriginal?”
“What’s wrong with it?” asked another new recruit.
“It’s like the most overused motto in history. Plus it’s not particularly creative, it sounds arrogant, it puts words in the reader’s mouth, and it’s wrong; we’re not a big deal, we’re a dozen or so undergraduates in a broom closet.”
Silence greeted this analysis. Patrick, the head student, did not look pleased.
Finally he sighed. “Since we haven’t gotten to the part about infractions, I won’t kick you out of the fraternity yet. But I’d advise you to watch your tongue in the future.”
He took a deep breath, and continued. “We have a very lax etiquette system in regards to addressing seniority. You must use 'sir' when addressing a senior member. Senior members wear gold--"
“Wait,” interrupted O’Neil again, looking at the shirt. It was emblazoned with 'ΣϡΟ inc.' “Does this say ‘incorporated’?”
The head student looked up, annoyed. “Yes!”
“Are we a company? Why are we incorporated?”
“Fraternities can be incorporated. Several of the fraternities on this campus—“
“Do we get a business card?” asked O’Neil.
“Do we have a product?”
“Do we have a CEO? Do we have shareholders? Are we listed in the yellow pages?”
O’Neil persisted. “How are we incorporated?”
The head student finally punched his index finger at the door. “Get out!”
O’Neil stamped out the SSO meeting room, steaming.
Oli walked nervously behind him. “O’Neil? Are you okay?”
“Now I remember why I didn’t want to join a fraternity,” O’Neil grumbled. “Stupid arrogant stuck up pricks. Waste of time.”
Oli didn’t agree or disagree. He just looked nervously back at the room. “So, we’re not going to join? They didn’t seem that bad.”
“Too much bureaucracy. Rules, promotions, elections, it bogs everything down and keeps the truly gifted from reaching their deserved spots.” O’Neil looked around at the other posters advertising fraternities and sororities one could visit. “None of these are going to be any better.”
Oli nodded. “Yeah…” He wasn’t doing a very good job of sounding convinced.
O’Neil sighed. “If you want to go try out for Sigma Sampi Omicron, go ahead. I can tell you want to.”
“Are you sure?” Oli made several steps back towards the door, then ducked back in. “Thanks, Keegan! Bye!”
O’Neil walked towards the library. He had printed out a list of textbooks he’d need for his classes, he might as well pick those up.
Since he wasn’t interested in asking for directions, he wound up in the food district of the school on accident. Seeing all the delicious foods made his stomach growl, but he had no money to spend on food. His financial aid paid for two meals a day at the school’s dining commons, no more.
Now thoroughly lost, he visited the Student Materials Center to pick up a map. The person on duty, an excitable turtle, was taking forever to get off the phone. O’Neil waited impatiently at the window.
While he stood, his eyes came across a stack of newspapers next to the counter. It was the 3 Rivers Tributary, the school paper. Emblazoned boldy across the top of the paper was the headline:
“Expected Dragonstorm Action at Upcoming Basketball Game.”
by Gregory Cass, staff writer
They’re at it again; rumors have been circulating that everyone’s favorite infamous local club are going to try something at the upcoming Morlocks/Gauchos game on Saturday at home. This writer has heard stories ranging from hacking the scoreboard and gambling on the tally to releasing three pigs with ‘1’, ‘2’, and ‘4’ painted on them, but he feels reason to be skeptical. Dragonstorm always plays to gain something from their schemes, and none of the rumored disruptions gain them anything, except perhaps the gambling one, but they already come from obscenely rich families. No, this writer is suspecting something much more sinister to transpire come Saturdays’ game, and he urges all his readers to report any unusual sights, or tell the Tributary if you see Dragonstorm members hanging around in places they shouldn’t be. As always, we’ll be working with local campus security to make sure that nothing unusual happens come Saturday, so get out there and make sure to support your local basketball team! Go Morlocks!
The article wasn’t particularly well-written, or even reliable, but O’Neil found something captivating about the club they were talking about.
The turtle finally came to the window. “Can I help you?”
“Yeah, I’d like a map of the campus.” When the turtle returned with the map, he showed her the article. “Who is Dragonstorm?”
She scoffed. “Who knows? The paper’s always going on about them, like they’re serial killers or something. Everyone has heard about them, but nobody really reads the paper any more than that.”
“Well, who are they? Are they on campus?”
“Just a bunch of students. There’s like four, not that many. Somehow keep making the headlines though.”
O’Neil was stunned. There’s only four of them? “Thank you for the map.”
He found his way to the library and absentmindedly started looking for his textbooks, still thinking. A mere four students have caused enough of an impact that the school newspaper reserves their front headline merely for rumors of their activity, and yet the average student knows little to nothing about them.
O’Neil smiled. He had found his club.
Petrie85 - July 13, 2011 12:59 AM (GMT)
That was very good and very interesting. I liked this chapter a lot. It was very well written.
LettuceBacon&Tomato - July 14, 2011 01:33 AM (GMT)
“Hey, nice to meet you. Keegan, right?” Gregory Cass, a tall Cassowary, extended a friendly hand.
O’Neil shook it. “Greg. Nice to meet you too.”
The two were standing in an office littered with paper. Old Tributaries were pinned to the walls, new drafts and piles of other papers were everywhere. Other students were sitting around writing, editing articles, or gluing pictures.
“This is quite an operation you have going here,” commented O’Neil.
Gregory smiled. “The Tributary is hard work, I won’t lie, but it’s very satisfying. Every day we manage to get a high quality publication out to the student body, helping initiate casual conversation, providing crosswords, Sudoku, and horoscopes, and keeping everyone up to date with national and local news. College separates someone from the outside world, and we do our part to make that transition easier.”
O’Neil chuckled politely. “You don’t need to sell me the job; I already want a position.”
Gregory smiled. “That was less of a sales pitch than a clarification of the amount of dedication you’ll need to put in this job. Everyone works long hours daily, even during finals week; schoolwork isn’t an excuse for not meeting a deadline. What were you hoping to do?”
“Investigative journalism,” answered O’Neil.
“Most people who walk through the door think they want to do that, but most find a different aspect of journalism that appeals to them more. I started off as a photographer, and Felicity, my girlfriend, learned her true calling when she started editing.”
A white rabbit looked up briefly from the article she was marking down and smiled. O’Neil was surprised that Gregory had such a hot girlfriend.
Gregory continued, “We can give you a sample assignment and see how well you do. If you finish a quality article in good time, we’ll contact you again. At first it’s always a deal-by-deal basis.”
“If I may request my first assignment, I’d like to investigate Dragonstorm,” O’Neil replied. “I saw your leading article in the latest Tributary, and it interested me.
Gregory frowned. “Dragonstorm is a menace, one of the worst things that has happened to this school. They started up the same year I joined the Tributary, and under my leadership we’ve managed to hold them at bay and make sure they can’t just run wild.”
“But who are they? And what exactly have they done?”
“Nothing major, since the first incident. Follow me.”
Gregory led O’Neil into a backroom. Opening the bottom file cabinet, he pulled out an old newspaper article.
“Two years ago, a shipment of chemicals that were supposed to be delievered to the science department was electronically rerouted, and the chemicals were dropped off at an unknown location. Through my contacts in the postal service, I tracked down the location and learned that four college students had picked up the chemicals on behalf of the science department. They matched the descriptions of these students.”
He pointed to blown-up photographs of two humans, one brown bear, and a beagle. “Greydon Zenarchis, Howard Hicks, Pietr Kozlov, and Lester Montgomery. I thought it was them because they were the only members of a self-made club known as Dragonstorm. I questioned them, and they claimed to have no knowledge of the chemicals’ whereabouts.”
Gregory took out the manila file and showed O’Neil how thick it was. “However, since then I’ve noticed that other mysterious events seem to keep involving them. Other university purchased products, such as machinery and electronics, have disappeared in the same way. In addition, reliable sources have told me Dragonstorm members are constantly missing classes, but their attendance records are spotless. We also have an image of a beagle matching Montgomery’s height and fur color walking with Tyler DeNick, who was later arrested when it came to be known that he headed the Three Rivers’ branch of a smuggling ring.”
O’Neil looked through all the papers. “So, is all of this evidence inconclusive?”
“Well, yes, if we could get any of it to stick, we’d be able to get rid of them. But so far we can’t.” Gregory looked at O’Neil. “Are you sure you feel ready to take these people on? I’d feel more comfortable giving you a simpler assignment.”
“Trust me, where I come from, you have to be good at snooping if you wanted to survive,” O’Neil assured him. “Where would I be able to scout them out?”
“They hold daily meetings in a secluded study room on the 4th floor of the library,” Gregory said. “Do you know where that is?”
* * *
From the desk in the corner, O’Neil could get an angled glimpse into Dragonstorm’s study room. He could see better, but he didn’t want to crane his head too obviously.
Each individual looked rather generic; all could easily pass through a crowd unnoticed. He guessed the human doing all the talking was Zenarchis. Sadly, he couldn’t hear anything they were saying from this distance, but he was already thinking of a way to solve that.
After about an hour, the four got to their feet and started to leave the room. O’Neil got up and walked over to them.
Zenarchis saw him coming, and warily motioned to Kozlov, the gigantic brown bear. Kozlov moved to block O’Neil’s path.
“What do you want?” he growled.
“I’d like to speak to Zenarchis,” O’Neil said unflinchingly. Despite himself he felt a flicker of fear at being so physically outclassed, though it didn’t show.
“We don’t do interviews.”
“It’s not an interview. I’d like to join Dragonstorm,” O’Neil said.
Kozlov laughed. “We’re not accepting job applications either.”
Montgomery, who could hear their conversation with his canine hearing, was also chuckling.
Zenarchis approached. “What’s going on?” he asked.
“This freshman wants to join Dragonstorm,” snickered Kozlov.
Zenarchis was notamused. “What are his skills?”
“Contacts,” O’Neil supplied. “I’m street-smart, and I’m good at making wide webs of resources. I’ve only been here a day, and I already have ins with a local gang and the school newspaper. I could expand my influence and, for example, get the paper off your back.”
“What is your major?”
“We already have a bioengineering major.” Zenarchis motioned to Hicks. “And he’s also majoring in chemical physics.”
“I’m minoring in electrical engineering,” O’Neil added.
“So is Montgomery. He’s double-majoring in business and mechanical engineering.”
“I’ll double-major with something else, then,” O’Neil offered. “I can handle the workload.”
“But you are not already?” Zenarchis asked. “Then you are not of any use to use. Kindly do not bother us again.”
“Wait,” started O’Neil, but Kozlov pushed him roughly out of the way of the others, and blocked him from even seeing the others until the group had left the room.
O’Neil watched them go. Unlike when SSO rejected him, this time he didn’t feel angry, but motivated. This Dragonstorm group was his future, and he resolved at that moment that he would find a way to get the group to agree to let him join.
Petrie85 - July 14, 2011 04:09 AM (GMT)
This chapter was great. I thought it was well written.
Serris - July 14, 2011 04:30 AM (GMT)
Ooh, things are heating up.
I wonder if any of the professors are in on this? It would be pretty hard to hide something this major unless a professor or some other administrator was in on this.
One mistake: you used "lied" where the correct term would be "lay" at the end.
Petrie85 - July 15, 2011 11:20 AM (GMT)
We're waiting for your next chapter of this story.
LettuceBacon&Tomato - July 15, 2011 12:17 PM (GMT)
@Serris: ;) Right you are! You're too fast for me. Also, fixed the typo.
@Petrie: Sorry, day trip to London exhausted me. Here's a long update to compensate.
“…so it was actually pretty fun, we went over the basics of their constitution and rules, there isn’t any form of hazing, you just have to wear that shirt for a couple days…”
It was that night. O’Neil was back in his room, and Oli was blabbering away happily about SSO. O’Neil was pretty much ignoring him, busy tinkering away with a device in his hand.
“…and they sponsor river cleanup projects every weekend, so I’ll get my community service hours finished really quickly…” Oli trailed off. “What are you doing? What is that?”
“A tape recorder,” O’Neil answered. He switched out his needlenose pliers for an allen wrench. “I’m reducing unnecessary features so that it can tape for over 24 hours without running out of battery. I want to hear what Dragonstorm is talking about during their meetings.”
“Who?” asked Oli. When O’Neil didn’t bother to answer Oli turned and started studying for one of his classes.
O’Neil got up and headed for the door with the recorder and a roll of duct tape.
“Where are you going?” asked Oli.
“Is it open?”
“The study rooms are always open. I’ll be back in like ten minutes.” O’Neil left the room.
* * *
After taping the recorder to the bottom of the study room table, O’Neil avoided the library for a whole day. He didn’t want to risk accidentally angering anyone from Dragonstorm again. In his spare time he wrote an expose` about the gangs that inhabit the areas around the school, omitting mention of his own. Hopefully Gregory will decide to take action against the mentioned gangs, increasing the Crazy Shoes’ power and giving Dragonstorm a break from the constant surveillance.
As Gregory read the submissions in his office, O’Neill talked to Felicity Hildebrand, Gregory’s girlfriend and chief editor. “How long have you and Gregory been together?”
Felicity smiled. “About two years. He’s really a great guy. He got me interested in journalism.”
O’Neil nodded. “Why is he so interested in Dragonstorm? Did they slight him somehow?”
“I don’t think so. Gregory is just a very passionate individual, who cares about rights and loves to take up a cause. He’ll stay up all night perfecting his newspaper so it meets his standards.” Felicity’s smile held a hint of something else. O’Neil suspected there was something else Felicity would rather be doing at night.
Gregory came out of his office smiling. “Keegan, your writing is spectacular. The formatting needs some adjustment, but your investigative work was spectacular. I don’t know how you were able to get so much information on the gangs of Three Rivers.”
O’Neil smiled. “It was difficult, but I managed to pull it off.”
After the meeting O’Neil returned to his room, anxious for night to fall so he could retrieve the tape recorder. After about an hour Oli returned. “Hey Keegan!”
“Where have you been?” asked O’Neil. “It’s too late for class.”
“SSO had a special meeting to commendate new members who are showing particular promise,” smiled Oli. “I was one of them. I’m helping Geoff, the treasurer. He has a busy schedule this quarter.”
O’Neil had almost forgotten about Sigma Sampi Omicron. “Oli,” he asked. “In the time you’ve been in SSO, have you noticed them engage in any illegal activites, or even questionable ones? Anything they might not want to public to know?”
Oli looked uneasy. “No…why?”
“No reason. Keep me posted.”
About an hour later it was dark. O’Neil returned to the library and retrieved the tape recorder from under the table, where he’d taped it. He then sat in an unrelated room and played the tape from the beginning, pausing whenever he heard voices indicating the study room was in use. Finally, he located the voices he was looking for.
“I was unable to make contact with Hooker,” Zenarchis said. “That damn Cassowary was hanging around and wouldn’t stop looking at me. Luckily Hooker took the hint and got out of there.”
There were angry grumblings from the other members.
“How did he know we were gonna meet Hooker there?” exclaimed Kozlov angrily.
“I believe it was mere coincidence,” said Zenarchis. “He appeared to be investigating the local lemming gang. But this is a setback. Hooker is our only remaining link to the northern suppliers.”
“Can we get some school official to tell Cass to back off?” asked Kozlov. “I thought Hubbard was paying them all to turn a blind eye.”
“They’ll ignore us, but they won’t help us,” sighed Montgomery. “And Cass runs the Tributary for free. He’s just a student.”
“What about Wade?” asked another voice, who by process of elimination must be Hicks. “He roughed up that ombudsman last year.”
“Wade is arrested,” Montgomery added, taking over the conversation. “Heroin overdose, 7 years and an unlimited fine. Everyone is severing ties with him.”
Kazlov grumbled. “There goes another contact. That leaves, what, Hooker and Marco?”
“Marco died in a gang fight last week,” Montgomery replied.
Zenarchis sighed. “We might have to select some new contacts,” he said. “Before he died, Marco had been talking about a king snake that was proving to be very valuable.”
“Oh, was his name ‘Blue’ something?” asked Montgomery. “Wade mentioned him too.”
“I think so.”
“Hold on,” interjected Hicks. “I don’t know if it’s a good idea to bring more people in. We’ve got a lot of liabilities as it is. Every new person we deal with increases the odds that somebody will rat us out. Frankly, we’re lucky that Wade was just brought in for an overdose, that way they won’t be asking questions about his job.”
“It’d be so nice if we had a headquarters,” Kozlov grumbled. “Somewhere where we could meet people and store our projects and not have to keep everything under wraps.”
There was a tinkle that sounded like somebody dropped a pencil. A chair to the recorder’s left scooted out.
O’Neil’s blood ran cold. What if they saw the recorder?
For several painful seconds, O’Neil didn’t hear anything. Then Zenarchis started back up. “Let’s go to the other item on our agenda. The basketball game. Kozlov, you and Hicks were in charge of setting up our plan there, what did you come up with?”
“Right,” said Kozlov. Paper shuffle. “I scoped out the gym, and we could easily detonate any range of explosives without so much as a prior warning.
Nobody said anything for a time.
“I’ve already infiltrated the security room, and I know how to delete the footage,” said Hicks. “They’ll think something went wrong with the cameras, but they’ll never know who did it.”
“All right,” said Zenarchis. “Let’s focus primarily on that, until Sunday at 12:30 am. We get the bomb detonated, we can move on to bigger things.”
O’Neil heard them leave the room. His heart was thumping, and his eyes were wide.
They were going to detonate the gym. Why? O’Neil couldn’t see any advantage to doing so. Perhaps they had read Gregory’s article and wanted to make sure they didn’t turn predictable.
His thoughts were interrupted when Hicks’ voice suddenly continued. “Are they gone?”
What sounded like Kozlov grunted affirmatively. “I see them outside.”
“Good.” Hicks dropped his voice. “Can the bomb plan actually be pulled off?”
“It can,” muttered Kozlov. “It’d be difficult, but it’s extremely doable.”
“That doesn’t mean it has to go according to plan,” said Hicks.
A pause. “Why wouldn’t we want it to go according to plan?” asked Kozlov.
“Can’t you tell?” said Hicks. “Monty and Zenarchis are shutting us out. They always meet up with contacts, they always call the shots. We need to get rid of them.”
“How do you propose we do that?”
“Leave it to me. I’m supposed to deactivate the security system, but I can just forget to do so. You need to back me up in saying that Monty should be the one to set the bomb. Once he’s arrested, we’ll outnumber Zenarchis, and take over.”
Someone stood up. “This is becoming a pretty complicated ruse,” Kozlov. “Are you sure it’s worth it?”
“Uncontrolled factors have to be eliminated,” Hicks replied. “Completely.”
LettuceBacon&Tomato - July 16, 2011 09:21 PM (GMT)
“What are we doing out here?” whined Oli.
It was late Saturday night. O’Neil was leading both of them to the school gym.
“Don’t worry, you won’t have to do much,” said O’Neil.
They reached the back entrance to the school gymnasium. O’Neil picked the lock.
“Just stand at the corner, watch both ends of the gym,” O’Neil said. “If anyone shows up from either direction, text me and let me know.”
Oli looked nervously around. “Why are we doing this?”
“That’s my problem. Just do your job.” O’Neil walked into the gym.
He was in the storage rooms. No doubt somewhere a security camera was watching him. At this time of night, nobody would be looking at the footage. His goal was to reach the security room and do the job Hicks was supposed to. If he could save Dragonstorm here and expose Hicks and Kozlov, Zenarchis would probably be much more interested in letting him onto the team.
After a few uneventful minutes, he received a text from Oli: Two humans and a dog just arrived. They’re holding some machine thing.
So Kozlov wasn’t present. No doubt he’s grabbing security or something.
Oli reached the security room and reviewed the camera footage. Sure enough, Hicks hadn’t deactivated it beforehand.
O’Neil wasn’t capable enough to loop the footage or anything, but he could shut down the cameras and make it look like machine failure.
He plugged in a flashdrive containing an untraceable shutdown virus given to him by one of his father’s criminal contacts. Within minutes, the cameras were shut down.
O’Neil headed for the exit as fast as he could. If they were rigging this place to explode, he needed to get as far away as possible.
However, once he’d reached his exit he found it blocked by three people armed with guns.
“What are you doing here?” growled Montgomery. He, Zenarchis, and Hicks were silhouetted in the doorway.
O’Neil stopped and raised his hands in the air.
“Well?” asked Zenarchis.
“I was trying to stop Hicks and Kozlov from getting Montgomery arrested,” said O’Neil. “They’re working behind your back. Right now, Kozlov is probably—“
Just then Kozlov appeared behind them, holding an unconscious Oli. “Caught him snooping around out back,” he said.
Zenarchis glanced at O’Neil. “We saw your tape recorder and made up everything we said that meeting. We wanted to know who was attempting to spy on us. None of our pevious adversaries would use such an obvious method.”
“I’m not an adversary,” said O’Neil. “I just want to join. Don’t you see? I came here to help you. I deactivated the security cameras for you!”
“Well, we still don’t want your help.”
Kozlov threw Oli at O’Neil. O’Neil was sent tumbling into a large wooden crate, where he painfully bumped his head.
“This is your last warning,” Zenarchis said, as O’Neil felt the back of his head and his hand came away bloody. “Stay away from us. If we find out you’re still trying to force your way onto our team, we’ll cut you out of the picture ourselves.”
And with that, Dragonstorm disappeared into the darkness, leaving O’Neil struggling to keep conscious in the dark recesses of the storage area.
LettuceBacon&Tomato - July 17, 2011 12:58 PM (GMT)
Last part of Part One! Part Two begins tomorrow!
“How are you feeling now?”
O’Neil was in the student health facilities. He had managed to crawl to the school’s athletic recovery building, which thankfully was close to the sports fields, and wait for the staff to arrive at 6:00 am. He told them he had hit his head working on his high jump at the track field, and they had examined his head and found that the only damage was percussive; he had avoided a concussion, and could leave as soon as he felt able. O’Neil was taking the opportunity to rest and think about his next move.
He set his thoughts aside for the red wolf nurse who was smiling by his bedside. ‘JESSICA’, her name tag read.
“I’m feeling much better, thank you,” he replied politely, observing her shapely frame. “Your expert care has restored me to full health.”
She smiled. “Happy to help.” She helped him sit up. “You’re free to go, the bill will be added to your tuition.”
He nodded his thanks. “Jessica, you’ve been here almost as long as I have, and it’s past one.”
She nodded. “Long shifts on Sunday. But I get experience for my medical degree.”
“Mmm. Disappointing Saturday nights, I’d bet.”
She smiled wryly. “About as disappointing as yours. ‘Pole-vaulting’, huh?”
He smiled. “I might actually need some help back to my dormitory. I’m still a little disoriented.”
Her eyes flashed knowingly. “I’ve got fifteen minutes left on my shift. Stick around.”
Twenty minutes later, O’Neil led Jessica into his dorm building. He unlocked his door.
Oli turned around when he saw O’Neil enter the room. “How could you have left me out there‽” he exclaimed. “In the basketball stadium, at night? I could have been—“
“Get out,” O’Neil ordered, as Jessica entered the room.
Oli saw Jessica, and hesitated. Slowly, he got out of his chair and left the room. O’Neil locked the door behind him.
Stripping Jessica of her clothes, O’Neil locked her in a lustful embrace. While kissing her passionately, he undid the fly of his jeans and mounted her.
As he pumped away, O’Neil’s thoughts strayed to what his new plan was to ingratiate himself with Dragonstorm. Obviously he would have to greatly step up his game. No longer could he merely offer his skills alone; he needed some other tangible bonuses to sweeten the deal.
Jessica shuddered and moaned underneath him, giving him an idea for how to deal with Gregory. In addition, Dragonstorm mentioned wanting a headquarters, and he knew of a certain fraternity who needed to be taught a lesson.
The more he thought, the more excited he got, and the faster he thrusted. As pieces to his plan fell together, it got him harder and he drilled deeper, until with a jolt he realized the final, best part of the plan. The realization sparked his sudden full-body release, and his explosive climax set his nerves on fire.
LettuceBacon&Tomato - July 20, 2011 04:38 PM (GMT)
On to part two, which takes place six months after the first.
Bullets whistled by his head. O’Neil didn’t flinch. They were too far away to be a threat.
The Crazy Shoes were in a shootout with the Mauve Shirts, a rival gang. The dispute seemed to be between the two gang leaders, Garvin and Foley. O’Neil knew that Garvin had had too much to drink after class today.
O’Neil was hidden behind a trash can. The can didn’t cover him very well, but nobody was hitting each other. Nobody was very skilled with a weapon.
O’Neil gritted his teeth and returned a few token shots. Nevertheless, what he was about to do would make him a target for every Mauve Shirt facing them. But he would probably never get this opportunity again.
Standing up, O’Neil sprinted for the parked cars marking the middle of the shootout. He knew the gang leaders would be at the head of their teams, considering they started it.
Rolling under a Cadillac Cimarron, O’Neil army-crawled to Garvin, who was alone at this position. The other gang members couldn’t see them from here.
“O’Neil!” Garvin spared him a half-second look. “How in god’s name did you get up here?” He ducked. “I can barely get any shots off! They’ve got the whole area covered!”
O’Neil didn’t bother to answer. Positioning himself behind Garvin, O’Neil reached around so his gun was jammed into the front of Garvin’s neck.
Garvin was stunned. “What are you doing?”
“I thought you’d appreciate the old style of seizing control,” O’Neil hissed in his ear. “What with you caring about blood purity and all.”
Timing his shot to match with the Mauve Shirt’s next salvo, O’Neil fired. A spurt of blood sprayed out of Garvin’s neck, coating the Cimarron behind them.
The firing stopped. O’Neil suspected that the Mauve Shirts weren’t used to actually hitting someone in their shootouts. To drive the point home, O’Neil threw the body over the line of cars so both sides could see it.
“There’s gonna be cops soon!” someone gasped.
“Let’s get out of here!” one of the lemmings yelled.
O’Neil peeked over the car. The Mauve Shirts were running, all except Foley, the leader, who was staring at O’Neil. He’d seen what O’Neil did. O’Neil would have to think about the consequences of this later.
Before long the shootout was over. The Crazy Horses regrouped at their secret hideout.
“Is Garvin…actually dead?” someone asked.
O’Neil nodded. Everyone was paying attention to him, since he had been with Garvin at the time. “Lucky shot. I don’t know who fired it.”
Everyone was silent. “What happens now?” asked someone.
“His family will probably investigate.”
“The blood’s not on any of our hands,” O’Neil stated. “We have nothing to worry about.”
“We have to decide on a new leader,” Julian reminded.
“That’d be you, right, Julian?” someone said.
“Unless anyone challenges, like me,” O’Neil said. “I think I’d make a better leader.
Julian blinked in surprise. “You’re challenging me for control of the gang?”
“Yup.” O’Neil brandished his pistol. “I challenge you to a duel. Winner is the new leader.”
O’Neil knew Julian was too cautious to agree to such a risky endeavor. He would try to bargain his way out of it.
“Shouldn’t we try to avoid any more bloodshed?” asked Julian. “We’re in enough hot water as it is.”
O’Neil shook his head. “The proposal has been made. If you refuse, you forfeit your claim to lead the gang.”
Julian hesitated. The gang seemed on edge. “Maybe…” one gang member started.
“The Crazy Shoes need a brave leader. If you won’t even participate in a duel, you shouldn’t be gang leader,” O’Neil affirmed.
Julian’s shoulders slumped. “Fine. You can be gang leader. I’ll stay as second-in-command.”
O’Neil nodded. This is exactly what he needed. Now he had a large force he could use to accomplish larger tasks, and he’d asserted dominance over Julian. Julian would do whatever he ordered now.
Serris - July 20, 2011 05:38 PM (GMT)
Nice reference to the Mauve Shirt trope!
On a side note, I really like how your characterized O'Neil as a cool, calm yet brutal.
LettuceBacon&Tomato - July 22, 2011 02:41 AM (GMT)
Thanks. I'm trying to show that O'Neil's best skills are his ability to read others and his willingness to sacrifice anyone for his own goals. He's not nearly done doing this yet...
That afternoon O’Neil started home to the dormitories. He’d made progress on his primary plan, but the secondary one needed Oli’s help.
As O’Neil entered his dorm building, he heard voices in his room. They sounded familiar.
He crouched behind the door, and listened through the keyhole. It sounded like Zenarchis and Montgomery.
“…the cranial prototype?”
“Kain says he received it unfinished. The visual processors weren’t constructed.”
“Damn, who was vision? That student at Zürich?”
“Yes. He claimed his roommate discovered the data, so he had to destroy it to allay suspicion.”
“Strike him from our contracts. Don’t pay him. Dragonstorm needs only people who can succeed. Aagh…we need somewhere in Three Rivers where we could store these things, without having to resort to external contacts.”
O’Neil realized this was the tape he had recorded several days ago; he had bugged Dragonstorm’s study room more discreetly to see if they had forgotten about him. Someone was listening to his tape.
O’Neil unlocked the door and heard Oli quickly trying to replace the recorder.
“O’Neil! I didn’t know your class ended so quickly!” Oli exclaimed. He saw that O’Neil was covered in dirt and stains. “What happ—“
“Why were you listening to my recording, Oli?” O’Neil interrupted, stepping forward angrily.
Oli cowered. “I’m sorry, I just wanted to know what you’ve been working on. You’re always so secretive, I just wanted to help.”
O’Neil punched him in the side of the face. Oli cried out, hitting his face on the side of his bed.
“Don’t ever touch any of my stuff again,” O’Neil threatened angrily. “Or I’ll do even worse. Do you understand?”
Oli shuddered tearfully, wiping a cut on his cheek. “I—I’m sorry…”
O’Neil sat down, still viewing Oli coldly. “If you help me with another project of mine, I’ll forgive you. How does that sound?”
Oli nodded silently. O’Neil continued.
“I’ve asked you this before, but you’ve never given me a straight answer. Does Sigma Sampi Omicron do anything illegal?”
Oli thought. “Not really…”
"No!" O’Neil flashed his eyes, causing Oli to cower. “You keep saying that, but everyone does illegal things! I don’t need something scandalous, just anything at all that violates UC3R policies!”
“Uhhh…well…” Oli paused.
“What? Have you thought of something?”
“…well, there is the Cache.”
“What’s the cache?”
“The unofficial campus file-sharing network. An internal server composed only of UC3R students, so it bypasses internet filters.” Oli shifted. “That makes it sound bad, but it’s really just a way to get TV shows and stuff. Lots of students use it.”
O’Neil’s eyes lit up. “That’s perfect. Exactly what I need.” He quickly sat down, pulled out his map of campus, and figured out where the SSO headquarters was in relationship to him. “How can you get into HQ?”
“They give everyone a key…”
“I’ll be borrowing yours then. When does the last person leave?”
“Geoff the treasurer usually stays after meetings to finish his tallying, then locks things up. I’ve seen him leave after 11.”
O’Neil checked the clock. 4:30. Might as well get it over with tonight. “Awesome. Give me your key.”
For the next hour O’Neil wrote a draft for a Tributary expose revealing that Sigma Sampi Omicron had been behaving in violation of UC3R policy, and discussing how the possible ramifications could require the break-up of the fraternity.
Of course, he’d read the student handbook, and knew that the school had a zero-tolerance policy on pirating and plagiarizing, so with the right speeches to the right people he should be able to get the maximum punishment.
After that he worked on a large device he had been building in his closet. “What is that thing?” Oli asked again, like he did every time he saw it. “What does it do?”
“Hopefully, nothing. This is just in case,” O’Neil replied.
At 9:45 he set off across campus and reached the Sigma Sampi Omicron headquarters. Letting himself in with Oli’s key, he slipped a black ski mask on. He could see a light on in the back room.
Drawing his pistol, he marched into the back and saw a spotted dove working with a calculator and accounting paper.
The dove saw him and jumped. “Jesus, what do you--?”
“Get up!” O’Neil kept his voice low and raspy. In seconds he was right in the dove’s face.
The dove didn’t try to resist. “Who are you--?” O’Neil silenced the dove with a pistol whip to the head.
Leafing through the files on the desk, he saw that the Cache had been factored into the fraternity’s server bills for several years. He saw a couple other money uses, such as organized student protests, that while not illegal certainly wouldn’t ingratiate the fraternity with the school hearing board.
O’Neil photocopied the data and quickly departed.
LettuceBacon&Tomato - July 25, 2011 01:09 AM (GMT)
Sorry for the unplanned weekend break; I flew to Norway to console a family friend after the shooting incident. Updates will continue at a regular pace for this story (Ground One has stalled until I write another part to it.)
The next day, O’Neil sat in the Tributary offices, helping Felicity set up the layout for the coming edition. Since Gregory spent most of his time in his Chief Editor office proofreading, Felicity had gotten a lot of time to get to know O’Neil, and they’d grown closer. However, Felicity had so far remained loyal to Gregory.
“Thanks for helping me with this,” Felicity smiled, rubbing her temples. “I spent all of last night making reservations for me and Gregory at the Lapin Amour, this nice French restaurant downtown.”
O’Neil smiled. “That sounds awesome! When are you going to eat?”
“The earliest they had was next Thursday. But I think it will be a nice break from all the work, a chance to just spend some time together.”
O’Neil nodded supportively. “I’m sure it will be great. Make sure to enjoy yourself.”
Gregory poked his head out of his office. “Keegan? Can I talk to you?”
O’Neil entered Gregory’s office.
“I just finished reading your latest article,” Gregory started.
“Did I not provide enough evidence?” asked O’Neil. “I can tell you’re not completely happy.”
“No no, you did a great job again on how much information you’d obtained. You make a very reinforced argument and provide solid numbers. Boxer is still the Tributary’s best investigative journalist.”
‘Boxer Bayard’ was the pen name O’Neil used in all of his articles. O’Neil nodded. “Thank you. Then what’s wrong?”
Gregory looked at the article again. “I’m just not sure if we should be taking on the fraternity. First of all, nobody in a fraternity would ever betray their fratmates, so good luck getting witnesses. Also, their crime isn’t that bad, everything considered. I don’t know if they deserve what this article will do to them.”
O’Neil shrugged. “First of all, don’t worry about getting an inside recount; I’ve got a contact in SSO who’s on our side. Second, it’s not our job to choose who’s deserving of punishment and who isn’t; our job is to report the facts, and the facts show that SSO violated school policy and must face the consequences.”
He stood up. “In addition, this is important for the newspaper as well. I’ve been talking to students who read the Tributary, and they’re getting disappointed that all we ever have are reports on Dragonstorm that never amount to anything. We never strike any tangible blows for justice. If you want this newspaper to survive, we have to actually win some fights.”
Gregory looked troubled. “Do people actually say that?”
O’Neil nodded. “But this is a battle we can win, easily. We can rekindle people’s faith in the newspaper. Unless you want everything you’ve worked for to mean nothing, you need to expose SSO and gain our journalistic integrity back.”
Gregory was silent for about a minute. Finally he sighed. “All right. We’ll run the article.”
O’Neil smiled. “Thanks. Also, the school board has scheduled the hearing for SSO’s fate on next Tuesday. I’m going to be representing the newspaper, but I need the Chief Editor to back me up.” This wasn’t strictly true; the school board scheduled meetings five days after being notified of the situation, so if O’Neil spoke to them this Thursday, he could make things work out.
Gregory paused. “I had something with Felicity scheduled for next Thursday.”
O’Neil held his ground. “That’s unfortunate. But again, the integrity of the newspaper rests on this decision.”
Gregory looked torn. “I—I’ve got to think about it. Give me 24 hours.”
That night, O’Neil received a text from Gregory saying that he’ll be there.
* * *
The hearing was a success; O’Neil provided his evidence clearly and succinctly, and even bullied Oli into speaking against his own fraternity. The school board barely listened to Patrick’s wild allegations regarding a mysterious horse that attacked their treasurer, and ruled that the Sigma Sampi Omicron fraternity must disband and lose access to their fraternity benefits, sponsored events, and headquarters. Immediately afterwards, O’Neil reserved the headquarters himself for a large club of his own. He had all of his Crazy Shoe members as cosigners to justify the large space.
He also entered talks with the Mauve Shirts in an attempt to consolidate their power by working together. Their leader, Foley, was receptive, but demanded that he and O’Neil share equal power. O’Neil accepted, since regardless the joining would make them the largest force in the Three Rivers gang hierarchy. Now they could bring other smaller groups under their control.
The next day, O’Neil walked into the Tributary offices to see Felicity working on the layout for the upcoming issue. “You’re here early,” she noted, not looking up.
“I thought you might like some help,” O’Neil smiled. “Also, I need to turn this article in early so Gregory has time to double-proofread it. We won the case.”
“That’s awesome,” she said, with only a cursory attempt at politeness. O’Neil noticed her eyes were red and her hair was matted. She clearly hadn’t slept well; it appeared she’d also been crying.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
Her eyes welled up again, and she looked away. “Yesterday Gregory was supposed to eat dinner with me. He went to that hearing instead. I had to eat alone at the Lapin Amour.”
“I’m so sorry,” O’Neil sat down next to her and held her hand. “When was the last time Gregory did something romantic with you?”
Felicity sniffed. She struggled to maintain a polite demeanor.
“It’s okay, you can cry,” O’Neil comforted. “I’m here for you.”
Felicity sobbed into O’Neil’s shoulder. “He just…he…” she tried to get out between tears, “he means well, but he never wants to do anything with me but work on the newspaper…I’d just wanted so bad to go to this restaurant…”
O’Neil patted her hand and let her go on for another few minutes. “I’m really sorry,” he said. “It doesn’t sound like Gregory has been a very good boyfriend. He should be more considerate about your needs. From what I hear he barely thinks about you.”
She nodded, read-eyed. “I get that feeling sometimes.”
“Here,” said O’Neil, standing up. “Come with me. I’ll finish the layout for you. Let’s get you home.”
She shook her head. “I can do it, I’m fine.”
“I insist.” O’Neil helped her to her feet. “You need some decent sleep. Don’t worry about the layout, right now you need to be taken care of.”
It didn’t take much more to convince her. O’Neil let her lead him back to her dorm, a tight single.
“You have a single room, and he doesn’t spend every night here with you?” asked O’Neil, amazed.
Felicity nodded sadly. “I got the single room last year so we could spend as much time as we want alone.” Now a hint of annoyance had crept into her voice. “He barely comes in here.”
O’Neil rubbed her shoulders, and she shuddered and embraced him. “Thank you so much for bringing me back here,” she said, tightening her grip around him. “I needed to get away from the newspaper, and away from…” She trailed off.
O’Neil helped her out of her shoes and socks. His first good sign came when she removed her jeans even though he was still in the room.
“Lay on the bed,” he said gently. “On your stomach.”
Once she was prone, O’Neil rubbed her shoulder blades. Felicity groaned and shuddered. O’Neil slowly moved down her body, giving extra attention to her buttocks. As he continued, he slid her panties down with his hands, and she didn’t stop him. After reaching her feet, he turned her over and started back up her inner legs.
“Ohhh…O’Neil,” she moaned, arching her back as he slid his fingers inside her. “I haven’t…in so long….ohhhhhhhh…”
O’Neil smiled as he lowered his head between her spread legs. She was his. The plan was almost complete. One last step and he’d be ready to confront Dragonstorm again.
LettuceBacon&Tomato - July 26, 2011 12:57 AM (GMT)
The next day, Felicity broke up with Gregory. When O’Neil visited him in his office, Gregory was completely crushed.
“I didn’t think she…” Gregory had his hands on his forehead. “I mean, I knew that the dinner was a big deal to her, but…”
O’Neil looked concerned. “It’s a bad break. I’m sorry, Gregory.” He refilled Gregory’s glass. O’Neil had brought some liquor supposedly to cheer Gregory up.
Gregory normally didn’t drink, but today he’d finished at least three glasses. He took a sip of his fourth. “What should I do, O’Neil? I was thinking of talking to her, apologizing.”
O’Neil shook his head. “You could try, but women aren’t logical like we are. They’re unpredictable. One day they love you, one day they just change their minds and move on. I’m sorry, Gregory. I don’t think there’s any hope.”
Gregory still had a distraught look on his face. He was too logical to cry about what happened, but the loss hit him hard. “It all happened so fast…”
“I can’t believe she’d do this to you,” O’Neil conceded. ‘’I mean, you miss just one dinner, and she dumps you. It wasn’t even for an occasion or anything.”
Gregory nodded in agreement. “Yeah, how petty is she? Dumping me over one small thing like that.” A hint of anger tinted his voice.
O’Neil stoked it. “She was acting completely irrational. If she could change her mind that quickly, she probably wasn’t a good choice anyway.”
“She had no right to do that to me!” Now Gregory sounded angry. “I thought we had a real connection!”
“Calm down, no need to get upset over it.” O’Neil took something out of his pocket. “Here, I’ve got something that’ll cheer you up.”
He handed Gregory the tape recorder. “Play this. I hid it in Dragonstorm’s study room.”
Gregory hit the button, and Zenarchis’ voice came through.
“I was unable to make contact with Hooker. That damn Cassowary was hanging around…”
O’Neil had given Gregory a cut-down version of the tape of the meeting from the beginning of the quarter. Most of the ‘real’ meeting had been cut, leaving the basketball plot as the real focus.
“…Let’s focus primarily on that, until Sunday at 12:30 am. We get the bomb detonated, we can move on to bigger things.”
Gregory’s eyes were wide. “They plan to what‽”
“It’s a perfect opportunity to catch them,” O’Neil said. “Imagine catching Dragonstorm in a bomb plot. They’d all get jail for life, it would make national news. And its happening tonight.”
Gregory replayed the tape, looking stunned. Normally, he’d probably notice some slight discrepancies, but the alcohol and his post-breakup emotions were inhibiting his judgment.
“This is great,” he breathed. “This is the moment we’ve been waiting for. We can alert the campus security and catch them red-handed. This is it!”
His voice quavered with righteous vengeance. “We have eight and a half hours to get ready. Come on, O’Neil!”
Gregory grabbed his coat and dashed out of the offices, followed closely by O’Neil, who was sending a quick text to Julian and Oli.
Julian replied. Got it. The gang will be ready and in place by 10:00 tonight
O’Neil couldn’t help but smile. Everything was in place. For better or for worse, the Plan ends tonight.
Petrie85 - July 26, 2011 01:14 AM (GMT)
What a very good chapter you have made here. This story is getting very very good.
Serris - July 26, 2011 04:58 AM (GMT)
The last chapter was a bit short, I will admit that but the plot is getting thicker.
On a side note, I have to wonder, is O'Neil manipulating Gregory for his own devious purposes?
LettuceBacon&Tomato - July 26, 2011 04:35 PM (GMT)
Gregory suspects Dragonstorm's darker nature, and uses his status as Chief Editor of the school paper to keep tabs on him. Since Hubbard pays the school to turn a blind eye, Gregory is the closest thing Dragonstorm has to surveillance.
O'Neil juggles a number of schemes, so it might be a bit tough to follow, but as soon as the story is over (soon) I'll be able to create a bunch of pages on the wiki (I wait until a story is completely finished so I can do the whole thing at once without spoiling anything).
That night, O’Neil, Gregory, and Felicity were waiting outside the basketball stadium with a troupe of campus security guards. The atmosphere was tense, and not only from the expected bombing attempt; Felicity also wasn’t doing a very good job of hiding her affection for O’Neil, and Gregory was picking up on it. Luckily, he wasn’t saying anything.
In addition, O’Neil was wondering why he hadn’t received a signal. Julian was supposed to have sent a text confirming the various pieces were in place fifteen minutes ago.
Suddenly his cell phone vibrated. Foley’s refused to do his job. He’s acting hostile.
O’Neil’s heart skipped a beat. Keep him there; I’ll be there soon.
“I’ve got to go check something,” he said to Gregory and Felicity.
“Where are you going?” asked Gregory, but O’Neil had already disappeared into the dark.
Darting through the bushes and grass, O’Neil raced for the rendezvous point, cursing the whole way. Finally, he saw two groups in a tense standoff.
“What is going on here?” he asked angrily.
“Foley doesn’t want to go through with the plan anymore,” Julian explained.
Foley winced as O’Neil turned on him angrily. “I don’t see why we’re wasting all this manpower just to kill a school reporter,” Foley challenged.
“Because I told you to!” O’Neil snapped.
“You said when we joined together that you and I were of equal status—“
“Well, I lied!” O’Neil smacked him across the face. “I’ve always called the shots, and you know it! This is not the time to start failing your job! If we kill this reporter, I’ll control the newspaper and our most persistent opponent will be crippled. Do you remember how many times Gregory Cass poked around the places your gang frequents?”
Foley’s resolve weakened. “Yeah…”
“Well, it’s gonna keep happening until we remove him and his newspaper as a threat. Is that clear?”
Foley’s shoulders slumped. “Yes…”
“Now, go do it! You’re fifteen minutes behind schedule!”
O’Neil recognized Foley’s expression; it was the same one he’d made when he saw O’Neil kill Garvin. Finally Foley acquiescently led his lemmings towards the basketball stadium. Once they were gone, O’Neil sighed with relief.
“Nice job, O’Neil,” Julian said.
“The lemmings are no longer trustworthy,” said O’Neil. “Julian, I need you to follow them and make sure they get the job done. I have to get back before anything else goes—“
His phone buzzed. It was Oli. O’Neil answered the call.
“O’Neil! Dragonstorm is heading for the basketball courts! I saw them through our window!”
O’Neil’s heart skipped a beat again as he swore loudly. “Oli, get out there and stop them from continuing! You have to stall them until I get there!”
“Talk to them? But…I…”
“This isn’t a request, now do it!” O’Neil snapped his phone shut. “I have to go!”
And off he went, racing once again through the school. He had to stop Dragonstorm before they reached the basketball court; everything depended on it. Dragonstorm could face criminal charges if they were spotted.
Finally, he approached a group of four students surrounding a fifth. “Hey, aren’t you that ostrich that was with…?” he heard Kozlov ask.
Zenarchis noticed O’Neil puff into view. “You!” he snarled, drawing a pistol. “Are you responsible for all this? I should shoot you right now!”
“Get out of here!” O’Neil panted. “What are you doing out right now?”
“We heard about the word that we were planning to blow up the basketball court,” explained Montgomery, “and we wanted to clear things up.”
“Everything’s under control!” O’Neil snapped. “I’ve got a group set up to take the fall. Just go home, if they see you everything will fall apart!”
“Maybe for you, perhaps,” Hicks snapped.
“We care more about our reputation than whatever schemes you have designed,” Zenarchis retorted. “I’m sure we have enough clout to clear—“
“O’Neil!” Julian yelled, busting out of the bushes. “They saw us coming!”
“Who?” asked O’Neil.
“The Mauve Shirts! They opened fire on us; I only barely managed to get away!”
“Where are they now?” asked O’Neil. “Did they follow you?”
“I don’t know—“
Suddenly a gunshot whizzed past O’Neil’s head. He ducked. O’Neil, Julian, and the members of Dragonstorm pulled out their firearms and ran for cover. Oli just ran for cover.
The Mauve Shirts had taken up positions behind trash cans and benches. O’Neil fired his pistol and rolled behind a bush.
His heart was thumping. That bastard Foley apparently wasn’t interested in being subordinate. Now what should he do?
Dragonstorm was returning fire. They were clearly better marksmen than the Mauve Shirts, but the Mauve Shirts had pure numbers on their side. Plus their surprise advantage meant they had a much better position.
“Where’s O’Neil?” he heard Foley yell. “We want O’Neil!”
O’Neil tried to focus on where the yell came from. Foley appeared to be hiding behind a bus stop across the street.
O’Neil realized that Foley was the key to winning this skirmish; lemmings were followers. If he could kill Foley, the lemmings would lose their leader and probably stop.
O’Neil signaled Montgomery, who was kneeling behind a dumpster. “Concentrate your fire on the bus stop! That’s where their leader is!”
Montgomery nodded, reloaded, and then the two emptied their magazines into the bus stop.
O’Neil assumed it was Montgomery, not himself that hit the target; O’Neil wasn’t actually a very good shot. But either way, Foley and the lemmings to either side of him went down in a hail of bullets, and the lemmings ceased firing. Dragonstorm soon stopped as well.
O’Neil got to his feet. “Your leader is dead!” he yelled. “You don’t have to follow his orders any longer!”
He crept out of his hiding place. Sensing the end of the shootout, everyone seemed to follow his lead.
“Oli,” he muttered to the shaking ostrich at his side. “Get to our room and grab that thing I’ve been working on all year.”
Oli nodded, looking a little sick, and quickly left.
O’Neil raised his voice again and continued. “But you are still members of my gang! And that means you still follow my orders! And my orders stand! Return to the basketball court and kill—“
“O’Neil!” Felicity’s voice came ringing out of the darkness. The white rabbit came bounding down the street from the basketball stadium. “He’s on his way here! Gregory!”
“What the devil is going on?” O’Neil heard Zenarchis mutter.
Felicity stopped in front of O’Neil. “He’s suspicious. As soon as he heard the gunshots, he started coming here. He’s bringing the police with him!”
“The police?” gasped Hicks. “We have to get out of here!”
“Julian,” ordered O’Neil, “take Felicity and Dragonstorm and get them out of—“
But it was too late. From the same direction Felicity had come from, Gregory came puffing into view, followed by a wave of wary security guards.
LettuceBacon&Tomato - July 28, 2011 01:42 AM (GMT)
And here's the conclusion!
“Mauve Shirts, open fire!” O’Neil yelled.
Bullets whizzed down the street at the approaching force. Gregory and a fair amount of guards fell in a haze of blood.
O’Neil heard Felicity gasp behind him.
Several guards returned fire, but they were outmatched and out-positioned, and they knew it. After a few seconds the remaining guards ran for it, but not many escaped.
“Quickly, now,” said, O’Neil. “We don’t have much time. First of all, Dragonstorm, retreat to a position of safety—“
“We’re not going anywhere,” Zenarchis replied suspiciously. At the same time, Oli returned, lugging the massive device.
“Fine!” snapped O’Neil back. “Stick around. It doesn’t matter. Mauve Shirts, take the device from Oli and lead the way back to the basketball court. The surviving security guards are going to call for some real officers, and everyone needs to be in position before they arrive!”
The Mauve Shirts looked nervously at each other.
“Move it!” snapped O’Neil angrily. He could tell they were starting to question how deep in they had gotten. He’ll need to think of a way to keep them in line for just a few more minutes.
The group set off. “O’Neil?” Felicity asked tentatively, as they set out. “Do I have to be here for this?”
Oli gravitated closer also, his face expressing a similar sentiment.
“Julian, take Felicity and Oli to the headquarters and get everything ready,” O’Neil conceded. “Also, leave me your cell phone.”
Julian nodded, passed his phone over and led the pair away.
“O’Neil, I want to know right now what is going on!” demanded Zenarchis.
“The cassowary you just saw die was the chief editor of the Tributary, and with his death that white rabbit and I are in charge,” explained O’Neil. “You’ll never have to worry about the paper peering over your shoulder any more. In fact, from now on the newspaper will be staunchly supportive of Dragonstorm and anything they do.”
Hicks whistled. “Dang…”
They’d reached the basketball stadium. O’Neil ordered the lemmings to enter the court. “Use the crates, bleachers, anything you can to barricade yourselves and the device in the court,” he ordered. “Wait for my signal, it should come in roughly thirty minutes.”
The lemmings didn’t move. “Uhh, Mr. O’Neil?” asked a smaller ash-colored lemming. “What’s going to happen to us in there?”
O’Neil took the ash-colored lemming aside. “What’s your name?” he asked softly.
The lemming looked apprehensive. “Isaac…”
“Well, Isaac,” O’Neil continued, making sure everyone could hear, “what if I put you in charge of the Mauve Shirts?”
Isaac looked surprised. “Really? Me? I’m just a junior member.”
“None of the senior members had the courage to speak up back there. I need someone with authority, like you.” O’Neil patted him on the back, then leaned in close and lowered his voice. “Keep this a secret between the two of us. The device will send out a pulse that neutralizes registered police weapons. Once they’ve surrounded the base and I give the signal, I want you to personally activate the device, then lead the charge out the stadium. Can I trust you to do that?”
Isaac nodded, looking determined to live up to his new title.
“Awesome,” O’Neil patted him on the back. “Now, don’t tell the other Mauve Shirts the plan, just assure them that you and I have one. Part of being a good leader is holding your cards close to your chest.”
Isaac nodded again, turning to his fellow lemmings. “Alright, Mauve Shirts! Into the stadium! Let’s start barricading!”
The lemmings obediently filed into the basketball stadium.
“Now we need to get out of here fast, as I’m sure you’ve already guessed,” O’Neil said to Zenarchis, leading Dragonstorm away.
Zenarchis did not seem happy about his lack of authority. “This situation is not nearly controlled enough, O’Neil. Things could have gone wrong at any point. I’m surprised you’ve made it this far.”
“You should just be thankful I designed my plan to put you and Dragonstorm on the winning side,” O’Neil retorted. “I’ve also developed a network of gangs, who now report only to me. You’ll never have to worry about contacts or connections again, since they’ll all report to you but none of them know your names or faces. And, best of all…”
They’d reached the old SSO headquarters. O’Neil let them in with a flourish and shut the door behind them.
Julian, Felicity, and Oli looked up. The room now held microscopes, working stations, and other useful tools, but also a stocked refrigerator, a television, and other luxuries.
“Say hello to your new headquarters!” O’Neil spread his arms wide. “Everything you need to keep working on your projects away from prying eyes. Plus a more secure place to meet instead of a library study room, plus secret supply closets to hide more questionable items.”
The members of Dragonstorm couldn’t hide how impressed they were. “You procured all this in under a year?” asked Kozlov.
O’Neil nodded. “And it’s all yours, provided, of course, you allow me to join the team.”
Zenarchis looked at the working stations. “Do you hope to be in charge?”
“Of course not, you’re in charge. I’ve already read your mission statement.” O’Neil held out a folded piece of paper labeled Thus Spoke Zenarchis. “You’re still leader, but I’d hold equal status with Hicks, Montgomery, and Kozlov. Your fourth lieutenant.”
Zenarchis looked ready to ask how O’Neil had gotten ahold of Dragonstorm’s mission statement, but at this point just accepted it. “Of course,” he said. “Clearly you’ve proved that you would be a valuable addition to the team.”
O’Neil beamed, and pulled a cord opening a window view of the campus outside. Lights could be seen and sirens could be heard approaching the basketball court from both directions. “With that settled, time to watch some fireworks to celebrate our union. Felicity, pass everyone a glass of champagne.”
Felicity grabbed the readied tray of glasses from the refrigerator and passed one out to O’Neil and each member of Dragonstorm.
O’Neil opened a pre-prepared text on his phone (“Activate the device.”) and sent it to the Mauve Shirts. He raised his glass high. “Altogether now: To Dragonstorm!”
“To Dragonstorm,” everyone echoed. Glasses clinked together.
And the stadium exploded.