Breed Book 4, Part 21


“Looks like our boys have kicked the hornets nest,” Anita said, pointing to smoke billowing from the other side of the base.

“I suddenly feel self-conscious that I’m playing for the girls team,” Cris said.

“Yeah, well, the power to heal isn’t exactly the kind of splashy, wet-your-pants showstopper we needed over there,” Rox said. “Sonya, do the honors.”

Sonya broke cover and conjured two balls of antimatter cocooned in a small field in each hand, and pressed them against the hinges of a door. She jogged back behind the corner of the building with the others. She counted down on her hand silently, and when she was down to one finger the fields dissipated, and the antimatter reacted explosively with the matter of the door, shredding the hinges.

Rox and Anita took either side of the door, “On three, two, three,” Rox said, and they lifted, and set the door down on the concrete. “How are we doing?”

“I’m not sure I like being treated as an early warning system,” Anita said, “but so far Rui and Ben are getting all the attention. Still, we should be quick.”

Rox led the way inside. “Luck’s holding,” she said. “Guards have all responded to the other end of the compound.”

“Yeah, about your whole ‘luck’ thing,” Sonya said, and Rox followed her down a side corridor, which was filled with cells.

“We’re going to need a bigger boat,” Anita said.

“Great,” Rox muttered. “Perfect. Anita, you and Cris work on getting these people to safety. Sonya, you’re with me.”

“Ahem, point of order, but I think the woman with lock-exploding powers should probably open the cells before leaving us high and dry,” Anita said.

Sonya started skipping down the first hall, sing-songing “Back, back everybody stand back,” as she passed, sticking boomlets to the cell doors as she passed, then the second hall, third, and a fourth.

As she skid to a stop back with the group, Cris said, “Now I’m going to have ‘Pop goes the weasel stuck in my head for-“ the first explosion cut him off, followed by a chain of them. “Nevermind, I’m just going to piss myself like a chihuahua on the Fourth of July.”

Rox and Sonya turned to leave, and it was another ten seconds of explosions before Cris could be heard. “I’m not sure I like all of us splitting up like this.”

“Why, you think we’re in a horror movie?” Anita laughed. “Well, we aren’t, in this timeline. Though believe me, some of the Breed timelines get awfully dark, think Skynet, but bigoted.”

“That’s not comforting. And I more meant that if anyone gets hurt, I can’t help them if there’s an army between us and them.” He opened the first cell door.

“Well, isn’t that shit?” Anita asked. Shrapnel from the lock had hit a small Breed girl in the side, and she was cowering in the corner, trying to hold her blood back in.

“That’s why I’m here,” Cris said, and brushed past her. “Triage the rest, getting healthy people ready to move. Those who need work get a healthy buddy outside their cells, so I can find them.”

“Sure,” Anita said, and nodded.

Cris turned back towards the wounded girl. “Hi. I know it hurts. My name’s Cris, and I can help.” He kneeled down to where she was shivering in a ball. “Hablo Ingles?”

“Si-si-si,” she stuttered out, then yelped “yes” too forcefully. 

“What’s your name?”

“Anna Maria,” she said, her breathing labored.

“Anna Maria, I’m going to need you to move your hand, so I can see the wound.”

“P-p-pressure,” she said.

“I’m going to heal your injury, but to do that, I have to move the metal, or it will just keep cutting you. To do that, you’ll have to move your hands.”

“Will, it, hurt?”

“Yes,” he said tenderly. “But only until it’s done. Then the pain will be gone. Understand?”

She nodded, and moved her hands, then she braced as he pinched the edge of a metal shard poking out of her side. “How old are you?”

She relaxed, for an instant, thinking, before saying, “Twelve-” the word ended in a gasp as he wrenched the metal out of her. Cris placed his hand on her side, and they both felt warmth where the wound and his hand met, until he removed it. “Better,” she said, taking in a rasping breath.     

“Good. You did very well, especially for someone only 12 years old. Join the others. We’re going to try and get you out of here.”


“We’re going to make you as safe as we can.” Cris helped her to her feet, and guided her outside of the cell. Already a dozen people, mostly children, were gathering near the exit. Anita was a third of the way down the first hall, and every other cell had a healthy person standing outside to tell him about the injured person inside.

“So far she’s the only one with shrapnel wounds. But there’s plenty more that are malnourished, may not be able to walk- and we may need to run before this thing is over.”

“Premonition?” he called.

“Intuition. Heal those you can. The fewer people we have to carry out, the better. Aw, fudge.” Anita turned, drawing her pistol, and fired. A man in black U.S. military gear rounded the corner, catching the round in the chest. “Apparently this one was in the can when the alarms went off.” Cris was already running to her at full speed, and slid into a kneel beside him. Blood was dribbling out of his shirt, which Cris tore from him. He was wearing a vest, now dented, and Cris moved it out of the way. There was a bruise already forming, and a small gash where the pressure of the bullet overwhelmed the strength of the skin. Cris put his hand over the wound and began to heal him. The guard started to reach for his sidearm.

“Ah ah,” Anita said. “Slide your dumb ass to the cells.” He complied, and she took the cuffs off his harness, and secured him to the bars. She took his gun and his radio. She walked to one prisoner, standing nearby. “Could you-” she tilted her head, “nevermind, you can join the others down the hall.” She walked to a teenaged girl, and handed her the radio and gun. “Can you stay here, until it’s time for all of us to go, to make sure he doesn’t try to move or make noise?” The girl nodded. 

Anita walked back over to the guard, staring daggers at all of the escaping prisoners. “My gun’s loaded with rubber bullets. They usually do the trick, so long as you’re not the kind of asshole who aims them at people’s faces. Yours… I’m assuming has live rounds. The girl with your gun, will shoot you, if you misbehave. The dude before would have just shot you on principle. Given your role in an ongoing human rights atrocity, I’m not sure giving the gun to the girl was the right call, but Cris would have been upset if I let you get shot. Repeatedly. About half the mag went into your junk.”

“I’m not thanking a freak like you,” he said.

“Well, I guess that proves he’s not a good one in a bad situation. I’ll level with you. I’ve already seen today happen. Whether you cooperate, whether you scream your fool head off for reinforcements, the results are the same. The only thing that changes is you bleed out, here, alone, with no one to hear your dying words. I’m not sure who Krysten is, or why you’re sorry, but if you die today, she’ll never hear them- certainly not from me. Or, you sit there, keep your mouth shut, you live.”

“I’ve seen your faces.”

“Striking, isn’t it? I’m already on commercial no fly lists. If the Feds ever did catch me, I’d be headed right back here. I’m not shy about my infamy. And while I don’t like you, for everything you’ve done and represent, if I wanted you dead, I’d put a bullet in you. Or maybe go to work on you with that knife in your boot…” she rolled up his pantleg, and removed it from an ankle sheath. It was serrated and gnarled, the kind of knife that wasn’t just meant to cut you, but to rend at the flesh and make healing take longer. “See, I know you’ve fantasized about sticking this in one of these children you guard. Justice would probably be sticking it in your guts and twisting it around.” She threw the knife down the hall. “But there’s a shitload of kids here today, and I’d hate to traumatize the fuck out of them. So I’d consider this a mulligan. Those kids, they’re not the monsters you think they are.” She leaned in close, and when he tried to headbutt her, she moved so he rammed himself into the butt of her gun. “But I am, because I’ve had exactly the same kind of training as you. I’m your fucking boogeyman. You hurt them, and I will find you. And your amateurish fantasies with the knife- I will teach you some things about real monsters.”

“You done?” Cris asked.

“I think we understand each other,” she said.

“Good. Because there’s a lot more work to be done.”

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