The screaming wakes me up. I can feel my heart pounding out of my chest; my nerves are on fire from the sudden rush of adrenaline coursing through me. My body is still heavy from sleep and I fall to my knees as soon as I touchdown from my bed. The screaming gets louder, it starts ringing in my ears. What’s going on? Who’s screaming? My mind is in a fog. It takes longer than a moment to realize what’s happening. The name escapes my breath before I can even think it, “Avery.”
Well that just happened, Mara said to herself as she stared into black where Aiden’s head should be resting. She breathed deeply and quietly, trying to process the night’s events. In through the nose, out from the mouth. Rinse and repeat. The breathing calmed her nerves a little, but her mind was still swimming in a sea of drunken decisions. One prevailing concern kept repeating itself, however: did anyone else hear? Her face flushed when she thought about Aiden’s mother in the next room, and his friend passed out on the couch in the living room just down the hall.
by Christina Janke
I met him. Not him, but…the one who flies with no wings. Every part of me tried to…fight. Fight against the excitement. Against happiness…against the urge to go with him. I had to fight because they were watching. The League and my father. I’m not sure if he knows. My teachers. My mother…watching. I’m not sure why, but I fear they are waiting for my father to fail.
I recognized one of the League’s spies tonight. She was trapped with me in the metal box. I only saw her once before…from far away. It was the last night I saw Damian.
“Cassandra,” says Father. My body goes stiff. That tone usually means it’s time to train. I jump from my bed…happy. I like training…when it’s just us. And then I am reminded that a bullet was just taken out from me an hour ago. The pain…throbs.
by Christina E. Janke
Login: Cain, David
To: Shiva, Lady
Subject: Progress Report
[Writer’s note: translated from code]
Tonight’s field test was a success. Cassandra performed exquisitely despite the interference of one of Gotham’s costumed citizens. The thick shroud of Nighwing’s gas gave her the perfect cover to get in and take out her targets, leaving Nightwing too dumbfounded to act. Never have I felt more pride in my pupil than tonight. Continue reading
by Christina E. Janke
Note to Reader: Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. Fan fiction? Really? We aren’t going to be making this into a habit here are we? First off, yes really. Secondly, gods I hope not. I dabbled into the realm of fanfic before, writing this and that about Sailor Moon and Avatar: the Last Airbender, but nothing that would maybe fall into the weirdness we’ve all read about. Fanfic has such a stigma about it because some of the stories tend to live out some of the creepiest, and oftentimes sensual fantasies about their favorite characters, and then you suddenly find yourself inundated with slashfic (character 1/character 2), lemon (anime related hentai in prose form), 50 Shades of Gray…
All that being said, I decided to do a Cassandra Cain fanfic because she has yet to show up in DC Comics’ New 52. I thought I’d take the opportunity to think up a way for her to reappear before DC gets the chance. So, here it is. I hope you like it! And remember, I may have a tender heart, but I still welcome the chance for you to tell me it’s crap ;)
Unrelated note: I’m totally on an opera kick right now. Specifically, the Diva Plavalaguna aria from Fifth Element.
Disclaimer time: I do not own any of these characters. DC Comics does.
“Genocide” was the word Rez kept mulling around in his brain.
“You’ve been quiet a while,” observed Tanis who was staring at him from the passenger seat. She stared knowingly, unconcerned, at him.
Rez knew he didn’t need explain himself, she was already aware of the reason why he hadn’t spoken to her in over an hour. He quickly shifted his sight on to Tanis, then back to the dirt road. The glance was enough to see a glimmer of a smile in her rust colored eyes. Was she serious? Rez pulled down his mask. “Why are you running from the Metronians?”
“Why are you?” she answered. Rez watched the corners of her mouth stretch outward. He swerved the rover to avoid a small boulder.
“Because they want us to kill us,” he answered, “Or worse.” He gulped at the thought of the alternative to death. As a child, his mother would tell him stories of the Metronians abducting people and stealing their souls. Later the victims would wake up completely transformed into one of them. His ear caught a small chuckle from the passenger side.
“You really believe in that old wives’ tale?” mocked Tanis.
“Not really,” said Rez, “Why would they want us to be like them when it’s easier just to get rid of us?”
“Maybe they simply want us to truly understand one another.” Rez’s eyes were completely off the road now as he stared hard at Tanis, who was looking ahead. “But neither side are able to communicate, so the next logical step is to make the others, us, see.” Her tone darkened near the end of the sentence. She brushed off the dark mood and shifted in her seat to get more comfortable. “But,” she said in a much lighter tone, “I subscribe to the ‘They just wanna kill their creators’ theory.”
“Is that what happened to you?” asked Rez. He waited with trepidation for an answer as he drove the rover through a narrow pass between two painted hills. Tanis stared hard at the expanse ahead of them. She blinked once then smiled.
“No. It’s just a dumb old story some sympathizer made up,” she answered.
The next hour and a half was silent. Rez continued to think about all that Tanis had said. What did the elders truly want from her? Genocide, but how? Is she to be trusted? Anyone who dabbles in the murder of thousands, no matter what they are, without batting an empathetic eye should be watched closely. Why was she living in exile in the first place? A million and one thoughts spiraled inside Rez’s brain. He bit his lip underneath his mask and grasped the steering wheel hard.
“Look,” Tanis said and pointed at something in the rear view mirror. A blinking red ball of light was chasing after them, adding clouds of dust behind it as it gained on them.
“That thing is supposed to be covering our trail. What’s it doing?”
The faery flew to Tanis’ side blinking brightly. “What’s wrong?” asked Tanis, “Why aren’t you observing protocols?”
“I am sorry. I was unable to destroy all evidence of your existence in the cave. Dr. Mezzo was able to pick up your trail and is on his way to your location.”
Rez slammed on his brakes. The rover skids to a halt, billowing up a thick cloud of dust in the process. “Get out,” he commanded. Never has he felt so much conviction as he did that very moment. Thoughts of his people, his younger sister Adeline, gave him the conviction to disobey the elders’ orders. “I’m not about to lead those things to my home. I don’t care if you’re some kind of Savior. We’ve waited this long, what’s a few more years?”
Tanis’ eyes flickered. “Faery, how close are we to Rez’s home?”
“Approximately thirty-two point one eight kilometers, due north.”
Tanis smiled. Rez’s heart fell to the pit of his stomach and he hit the wheel with his fists in frustration. “God dammit,” he said through gritted teeth. He already felt defeated; he had brought the enemy to his doorstep and sentenced his family to die.
“Faery, how long before the good doctor finds me?”
“Uncertain. I managed to cover the rover’s trail on my way to you, but it is entirely possible that he is using a device that tracks down even the smallest amounts of radiation emitted by your implants.”
Rez bolts upright at tears off his mask and goggles. His green eyes flared with anger and hate. “You’re one of them?” he yelled. He reaches for his holster attached to his thigh and points a gun at Tanis.
A corner of Tanis’ mouth twitched upward as she slowly raised her hands. “We can go back,” she said calmly.
Rez leaned the gun closer, pointing at her head. “I don’t know what the elders had in mind for you, but I refuse to work with a Metronian any further. Now get out.”
“Then you are sentencing me and your people to death. It’ll only be a matter of time before they catch up to us and kill us. How much longer do you think it’ll take them to find everyone else? We can at least circle back. Attack them. A survey team is small with little defense. We have more than enough to take them all out.” Tanis patted the large gun behind them.
Rez pressed the gun against her forehead. “You’re a terrible liar.”
“If you say so. But if you want to kill me, you better do it now. And then you’ve got to explain to your so-called elders that you not only failed your mission, but also that the entire community now has to flee from their homes to escape the impending arrival of the Metronians.” Tanis leaned her head agains the gun’s barrel, “If I die, the faery dies. And if that happens, there will be no one to cover up those pesky rover tracks.”
“At least I’ll feel better,” growled Rez. But before he could pull the trigger, he felt a hand grab at his wrists and quickly push the gun away from Tanis’ head. His eyes were met by a pair of silver colored rings. Tanis blinked slowly and leaned closer, holding Rez’s armed hand across his body and against the outside of her waist. He could feel her hot breath brush against the tips of his ears as she breathed.
“I’m not the one you need,” she whispered.
Rez watched Tanis’ free arm raise and curl around her neck. Like a taut string being released, her elbow followed up Rez’s restrained arm and smashed against the bridge of his nose. There was a flash of white light, then darkness.
By Christina Janke
“Wake up. It’s time,” whispered a voice, “You need to find a better place to hide.”
An ethereal blue light floated down from the desert night sky. It danced from needle to needle on a cactus closest to the mouth of a cave. The light pulsed, sending its message again. There was no answer from within the cave.
The light pulsed again, “Wake up. Hey.”
Again no answer.
Frustrated, the soft blue light turned a menacing red and charged inside the cave. “Hey! Listen!” Its words echoed as a burst of red light filled the darkness of the cave. A different voice yelled out in anger. The light, blue again, flew out of the cave and set itself atop the needle of the same cactus. It bounced lightly as it waited.
The desert’s horizon slowly brightened as the morning sun began to rise. The birds, who were already chirping before the sun, sang their melodies even louder as if to rouse the other creatures sleeping in the ground.
A disheveled young woman staggered out from the mouth of the cave. Clouds of dust fell from her limbs and tattered clothes as she floundered outside. Her half-opened eyes were bombarded with the morning’s brilliant rays, and she groaned in pain as she lifted her hand to shield her face. The young woman searched for the nuisance that awoke her.
“They are coming,” said the bouncing ball of light. The ball was less radiant now, revealing a small metal device with wings that fluttered rapidly.
The woman, adjusting to the morning light, stared at the ball in alarm. “Coming for me?” she asked.
“Negative,” it replied, “It seems the Metronians are expanding their territory and are surveying the land for more materials. You must leave before their arrival.”
“How long?” asked the woman in a commanding tone, “How long before they get to this location?”
The ball paused, calculating. “In approximately three hours and forty-seven minutes.”
The woman spat in frustration.
“Luckily,” it added, “You seem to be at the edge of the set perimeters designated for this surveying exercise. But it is likely in the future they will expand farther to neutralize any possible dangers.”
“Got it. So run like hell, yeah?”
“For at least ten kilometers. I have arranged for someone to retrieve you at this location.” A holographic map of the desert appeared in front of the device. A red blinking light manifested ten kilometers north of her cave. “From there, you will drive eighty kilometers, northeast, toward this spot.” The marker quickly drew a path to a spot along a narrow ridge. “The magnetic properties of the rocks at this location are enough to interfere with the enemy’s equipment. They will not search for anything here.”
The woman blew the dust from her nose and grabbed for her pack inside the cave. She took out strips of dried meat and a canteen of water. She consumed both as quickly as possible while ignoring the floating device who advised against such irresponsible eating. Then she began stretching her limbs.
“Shall I pull up a guide for recommended stretches suitable for long distance running?”
“Shut up, you stupid faery,” she growled, and continued to loosen up her muscles.
“You now have three hours and seven minutes,” urged the faery.
The woman looked up and arched her back. With her hands on her hips, her pack firmly strapped down around her shoulders and waist, the woman took one last look at her calm and peaceful morning surroundings. She created a portrait in her mind to later stow away in her memories. This would be the last time she would see this place. “I used to play here, y’know?” she said reminiscing aloud. She took one deep breath through her nose and let it out through her lips. “Keep this place clean, okay?” she said to the faery while fastening a hood around her head.
“Affirmative,” nodded the little ball.
“I’m counting on it.” The woman winked to the faery and began her long run north.
“Tanis,” someone called out. The voice was muffled, far away.
The woman responded with a groan. She hadn’t heard her own name in months, living in self-imposed exile in the desert. It almost felt refreshing. Tanis, whose cheek had been pressed against a flat rock for some time, lifted her head with great difficulty. Her jaw felt sore, as if she had collided headfirst into a tank on her run. A rough, leathery hand gently slapped her in the face. If her body wasn’t so weak, she would have grabbed the person’s neck and knocked him down.
“Tanis!” shouted the voice again.
Tanis looked up at blurry man draped in sand-colored robes. The sun shown behind him, impairing her sight even more. Her head pounded and throbbed. What happened?
“You must have collapsed. The heat in this desert can be quite unpredictable. Eighty degrees one minute, one hundred and six the next.” The man’s face became clearer as he inspected Tanis closely. Underneath his goggles were emerald green eyes. “You haven’t been drinking a whole lot either. Lucky I found you then. Here,” he tilted Tanis’ head back and gently poured some of his water in her mouth. Rousing out of her daze Tanis greedily grabbed for the canteen and drank. “Whoa!” said the man and he pushed her away from the near empty container. “Leave some for me; we still have a long drive ahead of us.”
“Thank you,” whispered Tanis. She palmed what water she had left around her lips and wiped her face, hoping to relieve the heat she now felt from the sun. Her whole body was sore. Had she collapsed from dehydration? Exhaustion? Tanis was lost in her muddled mind that she didn’t notice that she was being carried.
“I gotcha,” said the man.
Tanis focused her eyes and looked at the man. Every inch of his face was covered, hidden away from the sand and the relentless beating from the sun’s rays. “How many of you are left?” was the first question that popped into her brain.
The man’s green eyes looked at her through the thin lens of his goggles. “One hundred and thirty-nine, soon to be one hundred and forty,” he replied. “My sister’s due anytime now.” A wide grin appeared behind the man’s face mask. “There it is,” he pointed ahead with his chin.
Tanis looked toward the direction he had pointed and saw an old dune rover. Mounted in the back was a large, high-velocity gun. “You expecting any trouble on our way to your place?”
The man shrugged. He gently sat Tanis in the passenger’s seat and buckled her in. “I like being prepared.” He paused after starting the rover, “You do know how to fire one of those, right?”
Tanis shrugged, “Aim and fire?”
An outline of another grin appeared again. “The name’s Rez,” he said, “So what makes you so important that we need to bring you back into the world from exile?”
“I guess,” Tanis paused to wonder herself, “Because I’m good at what I do.”
“And what are you good at?” Rez put the rover in drive and pushed down on the accelerator close to the floor. Clouds of dust flew up in the air from the tired trying to gain momentum.
Tanis stared grimly ahead of them, “Genocide.”