Chapter 5- Belle Reve Blues
The Arena, James Point of View:
Harlan and I stood across from one another, each of us looking for any weaknesses to exploit. All of Scott’s cheerfulness was now deeply submerged and the look in his eyes told me he was ready for the real battle.
By now I’ve realized that this was more than just a test, this was my chance to prove that I deserve to be here. My hands bled with rage, rage from Afghanistan, rage from my joke of a childhood, rage from agreeing to become the DEO’s newest guinea pig, and most of all rage from myself. If it’s taking me this long to fight Harlan to a stalemate how can I expect to defeat the man in the suit? I was trained by one of the world’s greatest assassin’s yet I still can’t wipe the floor with Dr. Blondie!—Enough! There’s no point in me whining about the past and expecting the future to be different. I have to focus-- I can’t let the rage take over—got to take things step by step starting with Super Saiyan Harlan. His healing, strength, and speed are all related to the capsules and bars on his shirt, so if I target the bars, I should have the upper hand.
The rain from before started to die down, the lightning stop flickering, and the thunder lost its roar--Nasiha was about to change the environment. Scott’s legs started to shift, he was ready to move. The sound of the air horn rang through my ears as Scott ran towards me. He was moving faster on full power and my eyes could barely catch up to him. I shot a blast for the bars on his chest but he zigzagged past it. Before I could fire with a second shot he flung an arm against my throat. The impact of his lariat knocked me to the edge of the arena; it probably would have decapitated me if I wasn’t a meta. My body slammed against an invisible wall, as I was rising I could see Harlan racing towards me again. The ground began to shake as trees, bushes, and rocks started to rise. I don’t know what Nasiha was planning, but at least those tremors had slowed Harlan down.
“Take this!” I shouted, as I blasted the ground in front of his feet. He hurdled over it with ease moving into the path of the well timed second blast I aimed for his chest. Harlan briefly smirked as the blue aura reappeared before the blast could collide with his body. I jumped to a rising tree and looked down at Harlan. The blast knocked him back but he was virtually unscathed. The wind had gotten harsher and flurries of snow blanketed the room. I jumped from tree to tree until I climbed up a redwood near the center of the arena. I needed to restrategize. Harlan’s too strong to fight at close range, he’s too fast for me to hit at long range, and his shield blocks all blasts at mid range. Damn! I’m officially out of options, if I want to win I’m gonna need to use the chaos shot.
Meanwhile, at Belle Reve:
Agent Brown and Elijah were led towards the warden’s office by a couple of guards. As they approached the door Charlie pulled Elijah to the side and said “Listen, when we get in there just let me do all of the talking. Waller and I go way back,” Brown affirmed. “To be honest, I think the poor girl is still in love with me. I tend to have that effect on women,” Brown stated as Carter rolled his eyes. “Just remember to let me handle this, she might glare at you and make you feel uncomfortable but trust me, her bark is much worse than her bite.”
“Wait--she’s not going to actually bite us is she?” Carter asked.
“Um…probably not, but even if she does, it still wouldn’t be the worst conversation I’ve had with her.” Brown replied.
Elijah shook his head in despair, his whole body tensed up as Agent Brown grasped the handle of the door.
“Good luck!” One of the guards muttered as they walked away.
Agent Brown casually walked into the room as Elijah cautiously followed. “Amy!--How’s it going?--Pretty good from the look of it,” He said. Charlie gazed up and down her body, then quickly sat down in a chair. “Well the years have certainly been kind to you; I see you’re looking as beautiful as ever.”
“And you’re still such a charmer,” she replied, lightly grinning. “Now what do you want!?” She asserted, as her grin quickly turned into a scowl.
Simultaneously Carter withdrew into his seat while Charlie leaned forward. “The DEO just needs you to release an inmate into our custody,” Brown said in a pleasant manner. “If you do this for us I’ll owe you one.”
Waller rolled her eyes, “As I recall, you still owe me 3 and which inmate are you interested in?”
“Her name is…” Charlie began to mumble, “Mable Lowery.”
“That’s never gonna happen Charles.”
Brown shook his head, “Now never say never; and why not, isn’t she only here on a possession charge?”
“Lowery is pure trouble!” Waller exclaimed in a menacing fashion. “Since she came here she’s opened two narcotics rings for the Begonia Cartel, escaped twice, and allegedly murdered 4 inmates and a one of my guards.”
“Now Amanda, we can easily take this above your head and have her pardoned.” Brown reminded her.
“Then try that,” the warden retorted, “But don’t expect me to release her. If you ask me, she’s right where she belongs.”
Brown sighed, he wasn’t surprised that the wall would call his bluff, but he always had a habit of being persistent. “C’mon Amy, there’s no need to shoot the messenger, I’m just acting under the Director’s orders.”
“Then tell your Director that he can kiss my a**! I’m not one of his employees, so I don’t have to obey his orders.” She said, springing from her seat glaring into Brown’s eyes. Elijah immediately flinched as the Warden sprang up but Charlie stared straight back. A brief but tense silence encompassed the room before Brown started chuckling. “I already told Bones you’d probably say that. It’s good to see you haven’t changed.”
“You haven’t changed either Charlie,” Waller said in a more soothing voice. For an instant her voice rang with nostalgic warmth. This gave Elijah some relief before the Warden glared at him, freezing him into his seat.
“I was hoping that it wouldn’t come to this, but I need this inmate released. Amanda, the DEO knows that you’ve been using prisoners for covert ops.”
Waller stared blankly into his eyes then smirked, “You’re bluffing Charlie! You’ve always had a lousy poker face.”
Agent Brown reached into the pocket of his trench coat and pulled out a USB drive. “See for yourself,” he said whilst plugging the drive into her computer. Instantly a video popped up on her computer of two men standing in a stadium filled with dead bodies. One of the men was a young metahuman, the other was the infamous assassin Deadshot. The video replayed the same ten seconds of Deadshot shooting his teammate in the face over and over again. Charlie looked back at the warden and said, “We had more footage at the Base, but I figured I’d just cut to the good stuff.”
The smirk faded from Waller’s face, she knew that if this went public it would ruin her. “Fine Brown, you can have the prisoner, but when this all blows up in your face, just remember that I warned you. She’s currently in solitary confinement; I’ll have her moved into a visitation room shortly.”
“That’s all I needed to hear Amy!” Brown said as he rose from his seat. Charlie and Elijah both walked to the door before they halted. Agent Brown turned around and said “By the way, don’t worry about filling out her release papers, that USB drive I plugged in released a virus that will erase Lowery’s entire criminal record. It’s one of the many perks of working with a talented hacker. You can keep the drive too; I’d hate the thought of leaving you without something to remember me by.” As Agent Brown and Carter exited the room they both heard a cacophony of profanity behind the door of the Warden’s office. Brown turned to Eli and said “I think she took that pretty well.” The both giggled as the proceeded to the visiting Room.
Back at the Arena:
As the snow continued to fall, Harlan began to walk around the trees in search of his opponent. “Show yourself Cavanaugh! You can’t hide from me much longer.” Scott shouted. Suddenly a blast was fired from behind Scott’s back, he rolled to his left grabbing a rock from the ground and hurled it at the tree were the blast originated. The rock smashed through the center of the tree as it collapsed along with several of the trees behind it. Harlan laughed “Your pretty clever James, let me guess, you think that if I can’t see where your energy blasts are coming from then I can’t pull up my shield to block it. Well I’ll give you a hint…you’re only half right.”
“He’s smart” James thought in his head, “With just one attack he already dismantled my entire strategy. And what did he mean when he said I was half right.—Is there a flaw in his shield and if so how do I exploit it? Either way the more time I give him to think the less likely my odds look on winning or even surviving for that matter.” James ran quickly across a path of branches, “Let’s see how you like this.” he sneered before firing nearly a dozen shots at Harlan, each blast coming from different directions and distances.
Scott smiled, “Now that’s what I’m talking about. Let’s finish this!” He evaded many of the shots and the blue aura took out the rest. As this was occurring, both men were already planning their next moves, each now knowing how to defeat the other. Though reality was now moving so fast, both of them felt like it was all happening in slow motion. As Harlan dodged incoming blasts, he moved in towards James and shattered the next tree that Cavanaugh was about to jump to. Harlan pulled out a combat knife from the waistband of his pants. James grinned and dove directly down at Harlan. As he pulled back his hand for another blast he could see the blue particles of Harlan’s shield moving into place. Scott threw the knife directly at Cavanaugh’s forehead; but just before the knife could connect; James pressed his foot against the shattered tree and corkscrewed his body around Harlan. Scott turned in amazement seeing James falling upside down extending his index and middle fingers at Harlan’s chest. Unlike all of the prior blasts the energy was now compressed in a tiny ball, it looked like a tiny red marble with purple vapor spewing from it. Scott stared into James eyes realizing what just happened, “Dammit!” he cried as James fired the chaos shot. The explosion shattered the capsules and bars on Harlan’s shirt and knocked him against the opposing wall of the arena. The recoil of the blast flipped James onto his feet.
The environment disappeared returning the Arena into a blank room. Nasiha’s voice rang in over the PA system “Scott, I’m sending in some medics to move you to Section 3. James you should get looked at too.” Nasiha’s tone in voice had shifted, she sounded much warmer to James and less defensive.
As Scott was lifted on a gurney he waved to Cavanaugh, beckoning him to come closer. As James approached the stretcher Scott said “You’re pretty tough Cavanaugh I’ll give you that, but don’t let this victory go to your head, I’ll always be ready for the next round.”
James smiled “I wouldn’t have it any other way. Now let’s go to medical you look like you’ve been shot with a cannon.” As he trailed behind the medical team James felt a sharp pain in his head. Small streams of blood trickled down from his nose and eyes. “Not again,” James said, quickly cleaning his face before anyone noticed.
Belle Reve Prison:
Carter and Brown both sat down waiting for the prisoner to arrive. Agent Brown turned to Elijah and said “Why don’t you do the talking this time?”
“Are you sure I should handle this?” Elijah asked.
“Why not? It will give you some valuable experience. Besides, it shouldn’t be too hard to convince a prisoner to take a get-out-of-jail-free card. Just make sure she signs the documents.” Brown replied. “You can handle this can’t you?”
Carter nodded “Um…yeah—Yes, I’ve got this.”
“Now that’s what I like to hear.” Brown said encouragingly.
Four guards entered the room, wheeling in a young woman in an orange jumpsuit. The prisoner was heavily constrained to her seat. An assortment of chains, ropes, and handcuffs were tightly coiled around this inmate’s body. After the guards had positioned her, they removed the blindfold and the muzzle from her face.
Despite a few bruises and a messy appearance, Lowery was actually a very attractive woman. She had fiery red orange hair that ran down to her shoulders, along with thin silver streaks that cut across her temples. Her eyes had a hazel color and orange flecks that fractured through her pupils. Though it was hard to see underneath all of the restraints, Mable had a slender physique and had an average height.
Once the guards closed the door, Carter began to speak. “Ms. Lowery, I take it you don’t know why you were called here to speak with us.”
Lowery grinned, “Well my first guess was that it was for a conjugal, but you two don’t seem like you’re into bondage.” She rattled her chains and briefly giggled.
“We’re here with the Department of Extranormal Operations,” Elijah explained. “We’d like to use recruit you into one of our teams.”
Her lighthearted demeanor transitioned to a mildly annoyed expression. “Sorry, I don’t work well with others. My answer’s no.”
“Why would you refuse the chance to be free?” He asked.
Mable scoffed, “What you call freedom I call slavery. Tell me Agent Carter, have you read my file?”
“I have,” he confirmed.
“Then you should already know that I descend from an ancient line of Magic users known as the Dreis.” She reported with pride. “For millenniums, my people have been hunted down like dogs by rivaling clans and non magi such as yourself and do you know why we’re hunted?”
Elijah shook his head.
“Because we are different,” she affirmed. “And that’s all your agency does, you hunt down people who are different.”
“You’re wrong about us Mable. We hunt down our targets because they’re dangerous, not because they are different. The D.E.O. just wants to make the world a safer place.”
Lowery smirked again, “Dangerous criminals, terrorists, insurgents, these are all semantics. You’re just using different words to promote the same bulls@#t that your superiors trained you to believe. If you weren’t so naive I might pity you, but the truth is you’re just a pawn to be used and thrown away on a whim. Your only purpose is to take another piece off of the board, not to win the battle in the long run, but simply because your king can command you to do so without question. In the end this game will keep going on over and over again, whether we choose to play it or not. Are we done here?” She asked.
Carter looked at Brown for assistance and the Senior Agent smiled back at him in amusement. Elijah exhaled, before making another attempt to recruit the convict. “Your file tells me that you have a son named August.”
“And your point?” Lowery responded.
“In fact, both times you escaped it was to visit your son on his birthday.” He added. Elijah stared deeply into her eyes and asked, “Do you love him?”
Mable yanked her body forward in anger. “Of course I love my son, what kind of stupid question is that!?”
“Then I’m wondering why a mother who claims to love her son is leaving him to grow up without her, even when she’s being given the opportunity to be with him again.”
Carter was anticipating another outburst from Mable but instead she calmly replied, “Because he’s safer without me there. I’ve made many mistakes in my life, but staying here isn’t one of them.”
“And how is locking yourself away in a cage going to help either of you?” Elijah inquired. “Mable you know this is a mistake, you have a chance to use your powers to help us make a difference in the world, but instead you’re hiding from your problems. The world might always have evil or corrupt people in it, but if we don’t fight them we’re just as responsible for what they do as they are. So either sign these forms, or call the guards to take you back to your cell, but know that I’m glad to be a pawn if it keeps us all from losing.”
Lowery sighed, “Fine, Where do I sign?” She asked.
“Right here…and there.” Charlie pleasantly interjected. “Welcome to the Core Group Ms. Lowery.”
Agent Brown and Carter both rose from their seats. “I’ll get the guards remove those chains and ropes.”
“No need,” Mable said rising from her chair as each restraint fell to the ground. “I’m ready to go whenever you are.”