They drew first blood

The sun glares down on the Marina District.
Something must be wrong with the HARP-Cass thinks as we join her on the journey home. She’s a mess, but no one seems to notice. Her hair under cap, her eyes forward, Frank always said hide in plain sight. So that’s what she’ll do. She walks, boots hitting the pavement in furious rhythm, not knowing what she’ll find. She tries not to race, but it’s difficult.
Turning the corner she sees it: her childhood home. Dad’s fossil truck still sitting in the driveway waiting for her. She stops. Everything’s suddenly cold though the sun burns her pale skin. The house. The truck. Swallowing hard she continues. The door knob freezes in her hand-it’s open. Jaw clenches as she walks in. The air is stale, the walls tremble.
“Mom? Dad?” if something’s waiting for her the last thing she needs is a jump scare. No answer.

Living room-clear.

Kitchen-clear.

Den-clear.

She heads upstairs, bypassing all safety checks, nearly running to their room.
“Mom? Da-” she gasps, covering her mouth.
Her parents lay in each others arms unmoving, their chest don’t rise, and their lips are blue. Tears don’t build. No, our girl has cried them all. The truth is she knew. She’d hoped not coming here immediately would save them, she knew better. Crossing herself, she doesn’t bother to question what if. Cassi simply closes her eyes and says goodbye.
Breathing in stale air she opens her eyes finally noticing the paper in her dad’s hand. It’s a newspaper, The Liberation Times, a paper he stopped reading years ago. The headline reads: Mother Mary Lives! mother and wife murders husband and infant daughter. Their family picture as the image.
“Frank…” she pauses running a black nail across his visage, “you bastard, you Goddamn bastard.”
Throwing the paper down a broken picture frame catches her eye. Her baby photo has been ripped, the corner pulled out just slightly. Instinctually she tears it open turning the photo around revealing her mother’s scribbled handwriting-They’re coming Cassidy. Know we love you. We know the truth. Let the world think you’re dead.
The Grey can read between the lines, see the men enter her parents home, and the struggle. Her father gave her mother time.
“Sorry Mom. Dad,” she knows they meant well, “I just can’t do that,” but some girls just don’t learn.
Sirens sound.
It’s time to leave, but not without a little departing gift. Our girl is like Santa Clause pulling coal right from her sack.
These boys in blue won’t know what hit’em.
Or,
well,
blew them up.

Second chances and explosives

We find ourselves in silence Cassandra holding her breath-they’re everywhere. Closing her eyes she can hear him don’t move, stay down, and click the button. He had that stupid grin on his face the one he wore when he thought he was being clever. Without opening her eyes she clicks the button and exhales. Slowly opening her eyes she waits-don’t move be patient.
Her lips twitch she has all the time in the world. You just gotta remember people are people-especially at work. These guys, they won’t see you. It’s not like a movie. They’re trained, but bored.
Off in the distance she sees the chaos, the smoke black as night filling the air, and sirens, sirens everywhere! Her heart is pounding a bush and they won’t see a thing-hide in plain sight. Don’t complicate things-that’s how you live, how you survive, how you-
Footsteps get closer-two men. Probably Impact she thinks-a very good assumption. If they look closer, they’ll see her-they won’t.
“All clear over here.”
They don’t.
He’s behind her a few steps to her right almost parallel to her feet. She slows her breathing counting between each breath, fighting the urge.
“Yup.That bitch probably burned in the crash,” another agent responds, he’s parallel to her head. One long stride he’d step right on her face.
“Let’s keep at it. I don’t want to get mixed up in that,” he’s gesturing to the smoke, but she can’t see, “They sent out the big guns.”
“I hear you let’s go back to the wall, catch the end of the games” his partner interrupts, they’re already moving.
She keeps still. She’s got time. She’s got plans. Listening to them radio in the all clear before fading into the distance she sighs, but does not move. Lips painted black grow wide across her cheeks, she’s thinking retribution, she’s thinking vigilante justice. Vision of red paint her eyes over the smoky horizon.
“They’ll pay-they’ll all pay,” her words form breaths, making no sound.
Earlier today Bloody Mary thought she’d meet her maker. Turns out a lady with guns is much harder to kill. Black lips twitching she revels in second chances. She’s seething for vindication and thanks to Frank-The Widow Castillo is prepared to punish them all.

Blessed are the mourning

Her eyes wide as green paints her vision everything in the rearview is green!
“Frank baby! I’m not coming yet!” her mouth waters, twitches, as hysterics break. “I’m gonna get them-I’m gonna burn every motherfucker down!”
Sirens escape the toxic cloud, the red and blue lights prompting swift action with a bellowing cackle she hits the kill switch. Like a symphony the full complement sores across the sky taking out everything in every direction unfortunate enough to be on path. It’s not enough. She barrels through the streets crashing over cars leaving a wave of chaos in her wake.
First responders don’t know what to do, The Impact crew is in hot pursuit, and The Force seems to enter out of nowhere!
“Chase me motherfuckers! Chase me!” like a banshee she wails, her vision red.
Cassi wants them all. Our mourning mother is gonna blow the whole damn Nation up as her war truck reaches the district border. Letting out another cackle she hits the front artillery and the wall comes crashing down.
There’s a cost this time as several tires blow setting the truck to swerve. Keeping one hand on the wheel she grabs her pack.
“Let the games begin-let the fucking games begin!“
The truck veers off road barreling into the safe woodlands of the Harbor district. She locks the gas, grabbing the rosary off her rearview mirror before opening the door. In the distance ever closer she sees the next wall-it’s time.
Our girl pushes out of the cab as the timer finally pings her lips twitch into another hysterical fit-it worked-it all worked! Balling up before she hits the ground, rolling down the hillside, she escapes the final crescendo. The skies a beautiful display of fire like the Dark Ages 4th of July.
Mother Mary laughs continuing her descent, tumbling down, down, down.

Cassandra ‘Cassi’ Maire Johnson

The sky is a crisp blue the world is bright and the birds are singing. Everything is shiny. Everything smells of apple pies, of Liberation Day and of celebration. The not too distant ocean breeze carrying the anticipation of fireworks later that evening.

Mrs Johnson stands with her husband watching from the kitchen window “we’re never gonna find her a husband” she spreads soft hands across floured apron sighing.
“She’s a good girl, Susan” his voice is rough just as the hand he places round her waist. “Pretty too, and handy-what man don’t dream of a woman who can fix dinner and his truck!” He laughs a full belly laugh pulling his wife into him.
“That’s the problem Phil she can’t fix dinner!” delicate Susan bats at him her eyes focused on the fossil truck in the driveway. Young Cassi is currently tuning the ancient vehicle, but would burn the roast without turning on the oven. “She’s eighteen now, and has had more time with engines from the dark ages then boys-that’s a problem that’s a-”
“Attractive quality” he proudly interjects she looks up at him in horror, but before she can protest “a man loves an experienced girl for” he struggles rocking his head and shrugging “say a nice cruise up to cherry hill” she blushes as he bumps hip with her “but the girl you marry, the girl you marry spent her adolescents busying herself waiting for you.” He’s looking down a romantic smile in his eyes as she looks up still unconvinced “that’s why I married you”
Shoving him off “oh! What are you trying to say Phil!” she demands stamping delicately heeled foot to freshly installed linoleum floor.
He laughs again full belly “that you were a good girl” grabbing her by the wrist he pulls he in “the best girl-that’s why I married you while other girls were playing fast, my Susan was at home cooking and taking care of her studies. Every boy wanted you” her arms are wrapped about his rather barrel stomach looking up lovingly as he looks down smiling eyes “but I saw you, and you were mine. Cassi might not cook yet, but you didn’t know the difference between fossil and hybrid before I met you.” He hugs her tightly as she buries head into chest “or filo and watercress”
She laughs kicking his shin gently, not moving. Sighing that ever so lovely womanly sigh “you’re right, Phil, I’m sure when that boy comes along she’ll want to do those things and I’ll be here to teach her. Just like you talk her how to build par-”
The windows shake, hoots, cheers, and the roar of a road techtank fills the air. The couple sees Cassi pop out of the hood as the tank reaches their front yard “ahh the Castillo boys are home” Phil laughs waving into the window excitedly.
“Oh that’s wonderful! Diane will be so happy to have her boys home! And just in time for Liberation Day!” Susan comments to no one listening as Phil’s attention is on Cassi whose attention is on the eldest Castillo hanging off the tank looking down at her.
Musing he comments “this year let’s go to the Marina with’em pay respect to the boys”

The getaway

Wind blowing from the open side of the building we find The Grey, black hair floating, black lips framing a wild grin as she pulls a new toy. Double doors open click “BURN IT ALL DOWN!” The sound of the flame thrower obscures the wail, but the stream connects with the remaining heads. Cassi keeps moving, flame on, everything that catches it-blazing. Everyone who thought they’d live-dead. Our combat boot, camo pant hottie burst into the stair well walking down a trail of fleeing bodies, everyone went boom, and then no one could breathe. She’s grinning black lips safely encased protected from any residual gases. The flame still bright she maneuvered skillfully down, down, down to the basement where worried eerie silence meets her. Nothing could be heard but the sounds of her boots and torch-it’s too be expected but still a surprise. Puffing away on her stogie she makes a swift move to her hidden weapon.

“Let’s ride baby! Let’s ride!” She laughs wildly hopping into the drivers seat of a modified armored war truck. “Didn’t think I’d get this far” she muses corners of her lips twitching.
Running black nails over the control panel feeling that blood lust boil. Engine on, one hand gripping wheel, other hand flicking the blades on, one boot slamming to ground, and her beast barrels forward.

Breaking through the basement walls Cassi’s war machine meets sunlight as tires meet sky, the angle of exit sending them airborne. As she watches blue sky turn to city scape turn to city streets Cassi grinds boot to pedal. The war truck’s wheels unfortunately-or fortunately depending on who you ask-burn out over police bodies, cars and at least two faces.
“Catch me motherfuckers! Catch me!” She bellows like a demon slamming thumb into red button one. Heat sinking missiles launch from the trucks bed, even Impacts air patrol suffers casualties as the grey burns down the Marina Districts main street.

The Impact

Everything is shiny. Bright and shiny. Everything is clean. It’s time to blow something up.

This sunny afternoon we find our darling Cassi Castillo, newly dubbed The Grey by Mrs. Cindy Owens,  packing. Yes, our little killer is ready to play.
Boots hit the ground one at a time as she enters the spinning glass. Once around-everything is set. She sees red. Again around then out.

Two security guards greet her eyes turning wide in a breath. Her guns are already out and now, now there are zero security guards. Through the metal detectors triggering alarms-the real fire power comes out. From behind pillars decorating the lobby and from balconies from the floor above click all visible, all guns drawn.
“Drop-”
Laughing like a manic she pulls a detonator black nailed thumb presses boom balconies, and pillars come crashing down. Guns go off but our girls ahead of the game. Boots hit marble floor as the dust of explosions and gun fire fill the space. “Everybody’s dying today boys! Everybody’s gonna die!” she cackles reaching the elevator as the police run into sight-someone on the outside rung the fuzz. Gotta wonder-nope she’s got that covered. Painted fingers find the street detonator, button go down-pigs burn.

Ping.

Elevator doors open. She enters black lips itching at ears “Frank baby I’m gonna get every last one. Every last mother fucking one.” up, up, up  each floor brings out another detonator. 14 floors and every support beam and wall intact Frank taught baby real good.

Boom. Boom. Boom.

Then the elevator slows to a stop ping doors open to an orderly evacuation line-to the elevator? Bullets fly, blood splatter coats our girl, ping doors close.

Dropping the empties she punches her thigh two floors go boom. Near salivating she thinks of the emergency exits and those beautifully narrow stair wells! Her mouth twitches and the hysterics begin.

Ping.

Top floor. Doors open boots hit carpet and bullets begin to fly “not gonna stop until everybody’s dead!” Laughing and twirling at random intervals the grey makes her way to the boss. The plan worked beautifully leaving every head and their busy bees completely unaware of the chaos. All still buzzing now shocked, some dead. Men and women drop to the floor, scrambling into offices as explosive boom triggered by unlucky movement. Some of the heads-those elite bastards of Impact are still breathing, but she keeps moving.

Double doors meet her boot slamming open. Impacts boss is already standing, bullets flying for Cassi’s pretty little head. Boom. There goes the boss, his desk, and the side of the building. Double doors swing close. Our lady instantly drops the rocket launcher and pulls a cigar. Only a moment to savor the kill, she turns round-the doors swing open. Franks voice in her ear, once to target, twice to kill.

The creation of a heroine

Running frantically up the stairs she knows she’s too late, but how late? Reaching the top she gets to see Frank fall the sound of a bullet lingering, the lighting-perfection. Black painted lips wail “FRAAAANK!” ignoring his teachings she leaps to his corpse screaming his name over and over again until-
“Cassi?” Junior Castillo gasps starring into the pain filled eyes of his brothers wife. With the face of somebody whose been lied too “she-she’s not suppose…”
His partners eyes narrow through shades lifting his gun toward his victim-ain’t nobody got time for this shit. She knows. Fight or flight-this songbird is not about to die. “All targ-” his words cut off as she takes his gun. One bullet, two bullet, both men dead. Silence. Looking to the playpen her child covered in red.