Breed Book 4, Part 54


“I hope I made the right decision,” Aishah said, shifting nervously in the bus seat beside Mikaela.

“There isn’t one,” Mikaela replied, bumping her shoulder into the younger woman’s arm. “You stay home, you’re unhappy, you come here, you’re unhappy. It’s an impossible, and crappy, situation. It’s unfair this country, this administration, this short-fingered, thin-skinned, bigoted man has put you in it. But you’re in good company, and with work, and a little luck, maybe the next generation doesn’t end up in the same crappy situation. Hell, that may be thinking too big, maybe we just don’t have to come back here four months from now.” Aishah slumped in the seat and sighed, looking out the window at pedestrians as they passed them.

“We’re only a couple of blocks away,” Tucker said anxiously. “You want to rally the troops?”

“I think you just volunteered to,” Mikaela said.

“Could I get the mic?” Tucker asked the driver, who handed it to him. “All right, everybody, this is going to be intense. If you were in Seattle for the last protest, you have some idea, except that in that case the police had a vested interest in not spilling blood on these streets, because they live here, too. Federal goons don’t. This is an invasion. But, it’s also public relations. They claim they’re here because we’re out of control, threatening not just the people of Seattle but any Federal building within the city’s limits. Our first job is to prove them wrong. Our second, is to show that we won’t be intimidated. But it’s not to intimidate, this time around. Because these fascists have the big, swinging dick of the Federal government at their backs; until they see us tear a tank in half they aren’t going to be intimidated- and if we do that, every pearl-clutching suburbanite in the country will wet themselves at the thought of us remaining in their country twelve more seconds. So we have to be calm. We have to be reasonable- docile, even, if we can swing it. That means we treat abilities- all abilities- like they’re a use of deadly force, because they will likely be met with it. And- I’m not prying, but it’s there, on your faces- I know some of you are scared. Well, we all are. This isn’t something any of us have ever faced down. But we can get through this, together. Because scared as we are, they’re even more scared. Not because of what we can do to them. But of a future where new, better people are the norm, where you can’t just wear your bigotries on your sleeve and expect no pushback. We represent a better world- let’s go make it a reality in front of their eyes.”

The bus came to a rough stop, causing Tucker to grab the hand rail to catch himself. “How was that?” Tucker asked, handing the driver the microphone back.

“Give it a B plus,” Mikaela said with an amused smile.

“Only a B?”

“I thought it was great,” Aishah said. “I almost forgot how scared I was… until you reminded me.”

“Oh. Yeah. Oops.” Tucker led them off the bus, then pivoted to keep people near to the bus so they weren’t lost in the crowd already gathering on the sidewalk.

“Wrangling them could be challenging,” Tucker said. Mikaela didn’t understand, until she turned to see a sea of parents, siblings and other family and friend rolling towards them. Her father, smirking, stood to the side, propping up a nearby wall.

“Kept us waiting,” Demi said, hugging her from behind. “I was beginning to think you decided to just stay at home and watch Rick and Morty reruns. The buses are good, actually,” she knocked on the one they’d just left, “might provide some protection if things get too hairy.”

“Or you could fling it at the troops, if things got too hairy,” Tucker said with a smile.

“I’m trying to think happy thoughts. I think I get testier in direct correlation to how bad I think things are going to go. But we should file over here. It doesn’t matter if people mill around a bit back here, but we need to get to the front line. Excuse us,” Demi lightly touched a woman’s shoulder, and she stepped to the side to let them through. They emerged at the front of the protest, to see a line of agents without any identifying insignia beyond Velcro strips that said, “Police” on them.

“We know if these are even cops or feds?” Mikaela asked.

“I followed the shit we released last night,” Mayumi said from behind them. “Spent most of the day in the FBI offices. I’ve still got his scent, he’s third from the tall one in the middle holding the riot shotgun. If things do go off, I got dibs on that one.”

“The big one?” Mikaela asked.

“Or did you mean the one you got the scent of?” Tucker asked, not sure whether to ask follow-up questions about that.

“You meant both, or do now, if you hadn’t then, right?” Demi asked. Mayumi nodded vigorously, with an ever-widening but still grin.  

“So at least one of them is a fed,” Mikaela said, closing her eyes. “This is fucked up. We don’t even know if he’s here on official business, or is just a bigot willing to hide behind his badge, and use it to cover for other bigots- which is increasingly possible because organized bigots have been pushing for 20 years to infiltrate law enforcement.”

“I think that’s the point,” Tucker said. “Muddy the waters to the point that you can’t resist anymore, because you never know when you’re resisting lawfully or not.”

“So what do we want to do?” Demi asked.

“We came because we can’t cower,” Mikaela answered. “If they think they’ve beaten us, that’s the end; they’ll be so emboldened we’ll never have another moment’s peace. They’ll harass and harangue us, until we’re all either dead or driven out of the country.”

“You think everything’s an existential threat,” Tucker said with a smirk. “Maybe we could negotiate them down from genocide, if we agree to put a Confederate monument in the middle of the school plaza.”

“I forget that when your brother’s not around you work to keep our jackass quotient stable,” Mikaela said with a smile. “It’s about the only thing that makes you two seem like siblings.”

“That and their nose, in profile,” Demi said.

“Their scent, too,” Mayumi said, “not that I expect either of you to be able to corroborate that.”

“Have we heard from him and Drake?” Mikaela asked.

“Last they texted they were waiting at the border.”

“You think they’ll make it?” Tucker shrugged.  

 A man in black camo and body armor standing at the police line pointed with two fingers at Mikaela, then beckoned for them to come forward. “Moral support?” she asked Tucker.

“Seems only fair. And I got the last one.” Tucker followed her towards the police line.

“Go home,” he said coldly, from behind a set of dark sunglasses.

“Respectfully, sir, this country is my home.”

“Unless you live outside of this courthouse, you’re trespassing.”

“This is a public street. And a public sidewalk. You’re claiming authority you don’t have.”

“My authority starts and stops where I say it does,” he said, bristling. “In two minutes, my men are going to clear this street. We’d prefer if it was clear already.”

Mikaela glanced back over her shoulder. She was proud to see an army of parents and students, some not yet old enough to drive, all standing shoulder to shoulder.

“They say children are the future. Looks to me like the future is pissed off, unafraid, and coming whether you like it or not. You can’t beat it back. All you can do is prove just how antiquated the way of doing things you represent is.”

“I think you’re wrong. Just as soon as they get those cameras set up, we’re going to beat a hundred different shades of shit out of your little friends. And I got news for you: beating up people the folks at home are scared of is as American as apple pie. My grandpops had to buff ni- black blood out of his boots; dad’s came home caked in blood and spit from sp-” he paused a moment. “Cute. Keeping me from calling a spade a spade won’t carry the day. You and yours are just one more minority needs to be put in their place; my President will put a goddamned medal on me for this.”

“You know you’re going to die alone, unloved and unmourned, right?” Mikaela asked.

“Trying to tell me you’re some kind of psychic now.”

“No, I can just tell from assholes. You’re wrong about people. They can be scared, even bigoted, some of the time. But you don’t beat children on TV and have your wife and daughter look at you the same way after.”

“How’d you know I have a daughter?” he asked, a ragged edge creaking in his voice.

“Tucker is psychic.”

“Though she should stress,” Tucker said, with his hands up, “there’s no threat in that revelation, overt or implied. Your wife and daughter are just too good for you. You’ve known it for a while, now Stacey; keeps you up at night, wondering if today will be the day they figure it out, too- or if they’re smarter than you, like you fear, and have known longer than you. Today will be that day; there’s no coming back from this- this isn’t something you’re doing for your country, but in spite of it, spiting its ideals. Of course, you could prove yourself wrong, right here, right now. I just read people, not the future. You can be the kind of man your family wants- they kind they deserve. But not if you’re coming home with kids’ blood on your boots.”

He looked at his watch, then pantomimed a yawn. “Hope you ladies had as much fun as I did.”

“Ladies,” Mikaela said, raising her fists.

“No,” Tucker said, raising his hand as the agent turned. He stopped a moment later, and back towards them, as his groin moistened noticeably through his pants.

“You bitch,” he said, his hand starting towards his holstered sidearm. His arm stopped, and shook violently, before going limp.

“I might have made him forget how to control his bladder. Probably temporarily. And put his arm to sleep.”

“I love you more than I should, given our circumstances.”

“And who could blame you?” Tucker asked.

“What happened to treating our abilities like a use of lethal force.”

“They just watched their commander wet himself in front of a couple of college girls. That was worth getting shot over.”

“I hope you still feel that way in two minutes,” Mikaela said with a wince.

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