Atlantech: The Early Days (an ongoing prequel)

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Replied by LadyGrimes on topic Atlantech: The Early Days (an ongoing prequel)

Chapter 5

The area appeared to be clear by the time Maxwell and Victoria arrived at their first destination; one of many small local banks located in the downtown area of the city. Maxwell parked the battered looking vehicle across the street behind an old brick wall and shut off the engine. He peeked over his shoulder at Victoria while she was busy checking her makeup with her light-up compact mirror and rolled his eyes.

“Are you absolutely certain you can pull this off?” He asked. “Cause if not I’ve got an old black suit and mask in the trunk I could change into, wouldn’t take but a few minutes at the most.”

Her brows knitted as she looked up from her mirror. “Yes I can handle it. I’ve been practicing.”

Maxwell couldn’t help but scoff. “Practicing?”

“Yes.” She gave a blank stare as she snapped the compact mirror shut. “Laugh all you want, Maxwell, but believe me when I get finished with these poor souls, you won’t be laughing anymore.”

“I’m sure.” Maxwell retorted then began surveying the area around them. “Seems clear for now, but we’ve still got to make this quick, Miss Thompson. And you’d better pray that not a single one of those blokes recognizes your face, or we’re beyond screwed. You hear?”

“Didn’t you see my hat?” Victoria huffed as she held it up. “It has a veil that’s going to help hide my face. And I plan on disguising my voice as well.”

Maxwell rolled his eyes again. “Too bad disguises have never been your forte.”

She glared at him. “You’re one to talk showing up in this rustic chariot. I thought the idea was to blend in, not stick out like a bar without a proper floor.”

Maxwell clenched his jaw in response to her mockery of him. “I already told you it was the only bloody thing available!” He snapped, pounding his fists on the steering wheel.

“Temper, temper.” She wagged her finger at him then opened the door and stepped out.

“How many rounds have you got?” Maxwell asked next, immediately reminding her of her little accident from earlier.

Victoria pulled her pistol from out of her purse and checked the chamber. “It’s uh, practically loaded.” She answered cheekily, feeling a tad bit nervous now while beginning to worry that one of her neighbors had called the police after hearing that gunshot from her unit. “There’s enough to threaten the banker with that’s for sure.”

“Well good.” Maxwell replied as he tossed an empty sack at her that ended up smacking right into her face.

“Do you mind!?” She sneered.

“Yes I do.” He responded callously. “And right now you’re wasting precious time, so go on now, get on with it!” He shooed her off with his hand.

“I’m going, I’m going.” She rolled her eyes and adjusted her hat, letting the veil fall over her face as she slung her purse over her right shoulder then picked up the empty sack and tucked it under her other arm.

She walked towards the end of the wall and peered around it to get a clearer view of the bank. The place seemed quiet as could be and there didn’t appear to be anyone else around for the moment, but she knew the longer she lollygagged around the better the chance of her running into someone, and not just any person but a witness to the crime she was about to commit.

I can do this, I can do this, she told herself as she dashed across the street and hurried up the steps to the bank’s entrance, a double glass door with an ornate looking logo in the center, and pushed one of them open.

She was nearly out of breath now, but there wasn’t any time to stop and rest. She knew she had to act quickly. But when she had finally gotten inside she noticed there were only two bank tellers on duty; a middle aged looking man who was even thinner than herself, and a young dark haired woman; possibly around her age or even younger. Victoria’s eyes darted from the dowdy looking man and then back to the woman as she tried to decide who would be the easier target. Soon her mind was made up and she began walking up to the counter where the friendly, smiling female youth greeted her right away.

“Welcome to First Universal Simoleon Bank, how may I assist you today?”

Victoria smirked at the clueless woman as she slowly reached into her purse and pulled out her pistol.

Now remember, just like we rehearsed earlier, Victoria thought to herself as she aimed the gun at the teller.

“Miss, please don’t shoot me.” The woman begged as she raised her hands. “I’ll do anything you say.”

“Good.” Victoria replied with harshness as she threw the empty sack on top of the counter. “Then fill it up!”

The poor woman complied right away as she headed for the vault and began to empty it. The man on the other hand had been attempting to reach the police on his phone when he heard a single gunshot and by the time he looked in the direction of the noise, he saw Victoria standing right in front of him.

“That was just a warning shot.” Victoria growled. “So if I were you I would put the phone down or the next shot will end up right between your eyes!”

He nodded quickly and slammed the phone back down.

“And you!” Victoria scowled at the woman. “Hurry it up!”

“Yes, Miss. Right away!” The female teller answered meekly as she resumed dumping all the cash into the sack until it was filled and she couldn’t add anymore. “I’m sorry but nothing else will fit.”

“Oh don’t worry about it, honey.” Victoria replied in a condescending manner as she headed over and picked up the heavy sack and smiled at her. “Have a lovely day now!” Victoria winked and then quickly made a beeline for the door, rushing out as fast as she could.

In the meantime Maxwell had been waiting on Victoria while growing impatient with each minute that passed and no sign of his partner in crime to be found. He anxiously drummed his fingers on the steering wheel, expecting her to come darting around the end of that wall any moment now, but another minute passed by and Maxwell began to wonder if she’d already been nabbed by the cops.

“If that bloody woman doesn’t show in the next five seconds then I am out of here.” He grumbled and then began counting down. “Five……………four…………….three…………….two…………….On—“

Then lo and behold he spotted her making her way back at the last second with the heavy sack in tow. Maxwell could hardly believe his eyes. “I don’t believe it.” He blinked. “She actually pulled it off?”

But the moment she threw the backdoor open tossed in the sack, and climbed inside, Maxwell turned the ignition and quickly sped off as fast as the vehicle could go.

“How much did you get?” He asked while struggling to keep his eyes on the road.

“Like I had time to count it?” Victoria quipped. “Just find us a nice secluded area far away from the scene of the crime and I’ll figure that part out.”

“Did anybody recognize you?” He asked as he turned around a corner street and pulled into a semi lit alley behind an abandoned complex.

“I very much doubt that.” Victoria replied when Maxwell suddenly parked the vehicle and shut off the engine, leaving only the headlights on.

“Well are you going to count it or not?” Maxwell asked next as he looked back at her.

Victoria huffed in annoyance. “I would, Maxwell but there seems to be a teensy, little problem. I can barely see back here!”

“Then take off your bloody hat you nitwit!” Maxwell spat back. “Or why don’t we just head back to the bank and count it there, hmm? Or even park under a street light where the cops can see us? Does that sound better to you?”

Victoria groaned shaking her head in disbelief. “Why don’t we just take it back to your office and count it there? We could easily sneak it in past Enrique in one of your large briefcases. You know the ones large enough to fit a human corpse?”

“In pieces.” He corrected her with a blank stare.

“Whatever.” She quipped rolling her eyes. “What I’m saying is the money would fit inside and I could easily distract Enrique while you carry it in, so what do you think?”

Maxwell thought it over for the moment, wanting to say no just to spite the woman but he knew she had the right idea for once.

“Fine.” He agreed reluctantly like a child about to pout. “But you’d better make sure that damned bartender doesn’t find out a single thing, Miss Thompson. Or so help me that little wanker is going to eat a bullet for supper.”

Victoria recoiled in disgust over the very idea of something happening to that sweet kid. “He won’t know nothin I swear!”

“Good.” Maxwell smirked in return.

Back at the AMF base, Lynne was sitting alone in the tower at her station, staring mindlessly up at the blank monitor above as though she were seeing something no one else could. Only that something was an endless void and it made her question all her decisions as of late. She had still been seeing that man Mortimer but after her last chat with William about happiness she started to wonder if it was all a farce.

I don’t know what I feel anymore, she thought to herself with a heavy sigh. I’m conflicted that’s for sure. She closed her eyes then and leaned back into her chair when all of sudden she heard the whooshing sound of the tower door as it opened which made her wonder if it were possibly the girls coming in early for the heck of it. She knew they did so at times, especially so they could have a lot of extra time to socialize and chat about nonsense such as which current celebrity was dating whom; the very thing Lynne had no interest in whatsoever.

But then as she rose up out of her chair and turned around she was surprised to find that her early visitor was none other than William.

“You weren’t in your office or at home.” He mentioned while hoping this wasn’t a bad time for them to talk. “So I decided to check here as a last resort. Although I didn’t expect to find you here either.”

Her face seemed emotionless as she looked back at him and noticed he was wearing his blue uniform again, only it wasn’t the same one from before as that one had ended up ruined after he’d been slashed across the arm where it tore up the fabric and became stained with his blood. Needless to say that old uniform had been disposed of one way or another and she knew it.

“And if you didn’t find me here then where were you going to look next?” She asked with impulsiveness as though she wasn’t in control of her own words.

William already didn’t like the tone of her voice and began to backpedal a bit. “Nowhere else.” He answered calmly, letting her know he wasn’t in the mood to argue.

“I wasn’t with that man if that’s what you were assuming.” She remarked next. “I just came to be alone until the next training session. We’ve made so much progress lately my father would be proud.”

William nodded his understanding. “I know he would. But why be alone here? I thought you wer—

“Happy?” She cut him off. “I don’t know what I am.”

William couldn’t help but sigh. “I’m sorry. I can leave now if it’ll make you feel better. I just wanted to have a talk that’s all.” He then turned to leave when she suddenly told him he could stay.

“You don’t have to go.” She said. “In fact I’d prefer if you did stay……”

William wasn’t sure what to think now and he began to worry that this conversation could get ugly if he were to say the wrong thing and so he decided to say nothing and let her do all the talking for now.

“The more time passes the more I realize I don’t want to be alone.” She admitted then. “When I am all I have are these awful thoughts and memories. And I know you have them too.” She gave him an empathic look of sadness and regret.

“I’m sorry for everything that happened between us, William.” She started to cry. "I know now that I was wrong to choose my father’s shadow over you, and I know I hurt you very much and I tried to pretend that I didn’t care, but I did and still do.” She looked at him again, her eyes wide with tears and full of sorrow.

“I never stopped loving you either.” She started wiping her eyes trying to rid herself of those tears and feelings as fast as she could. “And every rotten thing I’ve ever said was just me trying to mask that pain.”

William was listening but words escaped him, he didn’t quite know what to make of this confession or whether or not she was asking for them to try again, but if that were the case then he’d be sorry to tell her she was alone in those feelings and the only reason he had come here was to see if she’d be willing to give Justin another shot in the AMF.

“Please say something?” She practically begged him, wanting to put an end to this awkward silence on his part. “Just tell me anything you want I don’t care.” She then reached for a tissue on the tabletop and began blowing her nose.

“Yes it did hurt a lot.” William finally spoke up. “But why are you bringing this up now? Did it take you being with another man to realize what you had before or didn’t? I’m actually a little confused here. What exactly are you asking of me?”

“I’m not asking you for anything.” She replied sullenly as she plopped back into her chair and leaned into it. “I’ve been wrought with all this guilt lately so I had to get it out of my system before it ate away at me any longer.”

“I understand and I’m sorry.” William offered his sympathy. “But the real reason I’m here is because Church needs help.”

She slowly turned her head to look at him. “Why?” She asked quietly. “What’s wrong?”

“He’s living with an abusive father.” William answered her with urgency in his voice. “He thought he could handle it but the man just won’t let him be. And worst of all he calls him a screw-up and blames him for getting kicked out of the AMF.”

Hearing about Justin’s situation made her frown now but she wasn’t sure what she should do.

“No matter your feelings about him we have to get him out of there.” William pressed. “And I do mean we.”

She shot him a puzzled look then, wondering why he’d use such an emphasis on that word.

“You need to reinstate him.” He continued. “Because it isn’t fair if I’m off the hook after a month but he isn’t. Not only that but I told him I would get him out of there. I didn’t make any promises either but I said I would try.”

She then let out an exasperated sigh. “You really like putting me on the spot like this don’t you?”

“I really don’t mean to.” William apologized. “But I owe it to him and I’m sure Atlantech could use his help again too. But above all else we can’t allow him to live with that man anymore. It’s not good for him and will only set him down the wrong path in the end. So please, could you at least consider it?”

She groaned then and turned her head away, feeling torn between yes and no as though she were being pulled apart from both sides when she finally gave an answer.

“Fine, I’ll consider it.” She muttered. “But just know that I am only doing this for you.”

William didn’t like that answer the least bit and knit his brows in response. “It can’t be for me it has to be for him. I don’t need you doing anything for me. You already did that when it came to Stan. But this time I am not asking you, I am telling you. That’s the difference. And if you won’t help me then I’ll go to the admiral instead. After all, he is the one in charge of things around here.”

Hearing those words suddenly felt like a ton of bricks had fallen on her head, leaving her completely disoriented and in agony.

“So you either help me or I’ll do it myself.” William continued, and in that same cold icy tone that had left her floored.

But even though her first thought was to argue back, she knew better than to make things worse, especially after all they had been through.

“You really do care for that kid don’t you?” She asked him as they made eye contact once more. “But then again when you care about someone you’ve always been willing to go above and beyond for them. This I remember quite well.” Her face softened as she smiled. “I’ve always admired that in you, in fact I’ve even kind of envied it.”

William felt the iciness begin to melt off of his face as he listened, shocked to find that she wasn’t resorting to her usual antics.

“I have to care though.” He replied then, softening his tone of voice. “Because if I don’t then no one else will. Don’t you understand? Church doesn’t have anyone else, no one to give him the support he needs. And that’s why he needs us. That’s what the AMF had given him before and it’s what he needs again.”

She sighed sadly holding back more tears as she lowered her head. “You’re right.”

“I know I am.” William replied.

Lynne wiped her eyes again. “He can come back.” She sighed deep.

“Is there a catch?” William had to ask next.

She shook her head. “No there isn’t. But the admiral and myself do expect order around here, so you’d better let him know beforehand.”

“Thank you.” William replied graciously as though a weight had been lifted off his shoulders. “I knew you’d understand.”

“You had to make me.” She looked at him again with that same doleful expression he’d seen when he first walked in the room as though nothing had changed at all.

“You made the right decision.” William said reassuringly as he turned and headed for the door. “This is a life you’re saving, that’s all you need to know.” He gave her one final look of gratitude before heading out and leaving her by herself again.

Now if I could only save myself. She sighed miserably to herself then resumed sulking in her chair.

“Enrique, sweetie, how are you doing this fine evening?” Victoria asked sweetly as she wrapped her arms around the bashful looking bartender, hugging him tightly while Maxwell hid behind the wall of the entrance with a large briefcase full of the stolen cash.

They had both made a couple of stops along the way. One of which happened to be Victoria’s apartment so she could change into her regular evening attire, such as a v-necked sparkly purple dress with silver beading and a matching beaded headpiece. She had apparently gone a bit overboard with the perfume as poor Enrique was trying his hardest not to gag on the overpowering scent of jasmine and lilac as he breathed it in.

“Uh, fine, Miss Thompson?” Enrique replied in puzzlement while cupping a hand over his nose as he hugged her back. “I didn’t expect to see you back so soon.”

Victoria chuckled as she spun him around to where his back was now facing Maxwell. “Oh is that so?” She teased, pinching his right cheek.

“Uh huh.” Enrique acknowledged with an odd stare, wondering why she was acting so funny for the moment, while on the other hand he couldn’t help but enjoy the sudden attention she was giving him.

“Is uh, everything all right?” He had to ask then. “I know you were pretty upset the last time we chatted.”

Damn, is he already on to me? Victoria began to worry. “Oh you know how it is.” She remarked humbly, watching as Maxwell started sneaking by; her eyes especially fixated on the briefcase of cash in tow. “Sometimes all it takes to feel better is a little dough.”

“Dough?” Enrique repeated quizzically.

“Did I say dough?” She began to laugh nervously now. “I meant doughnuts. Yep that’s what I did. I got myself a box of doughnuts and I’ve never felt better.”

Enrique shot her an odd look. “Are you feeling all right? You’re acting very strange…….”

Maxwell couldn’t help but slap a palm on his forehead over the ridiculousness of this entire conversation as he eavesdropped. No wonder you can’t get any more acting gigs. He thought callously before disappearing into the game room and out of sight.

Victoria let out a deep breath of relief once Maxwell was gone and then turned her attention back to Enrique. “Well, sweetie I really hate to disappear on you again, but Maxwell and I have a very important meeting starting right about now, so I must get going so I won’t be late.”

Enrique arched his brows in shock. “Mr. Graham is here already?” He panicked. “But I didn’t even see him come in.”

“Nor did I,” she lied. “Perhaps he just snuck on by while we were both distracted?”

“Perhaps?” Enrique gave her an awkward look.

“Nevertheless I’d best get going.” She gave him a quick peck on the cheek then trotted off down the hall to the game room, leaving Enrique to wonder what the hell was going on with her.

What are you hiding now Miss Thompson? He worried as he resumed his work. Or better yet who did you kill now?

Meanwhile, Stan Winston was making his way to City Hall for his next debriefing session with Morane when all of a sudden a little brown haired boy, no older than seven wearing a tattered sweater and pants ran right past him, panting heavily and sounding rather frightened.

Stan immediately stopped and observed as the kid disappeared down the nearest alley where he hid himself behind one of the large metal dumpsters.

What are you running from? Stan pondered to himself until he next picked up on the sound of heavy breathing coming from behind and turned around.

A man? Stan’s eyes narrowed as he scanned the burly looking human wearing a dark brown trench coat for any weapons. It was then that he detected a single pocket knife located in the right pocket of the man’s dark trousers.

“Say, you didn’t happen to see a kid run by here did ya?” The man stupidly asked Stan only to be met with the android’s hostile glare.

“You wish to harm that child, correct?” Stan found himself asking curiously.

The husky looking man balled his fists in defense. “That ain’t none of your business, soldier, now step aside!” The man demanded, noting Stan’s dark gray AMF uniform.

“Well I’m afraid it is my business now.” Stan replied in a threatening manner as he suddenly grabbed the man by the throat then dragged him down the same alley where that kid was still hiding.

But as of this moment Stan only felt what he would describe as an intense anger, something he hadn’t experienced very often which made him wonder why this particular incident was interfering with his senses and main objective. He wasn’t human so why did he care if a man intended on harming a child? It was all very confusing and probably something he should bring up with Morane in hopes of getting some kind of answer.

“You’re safe now this man is no longer a threat.” Stan announced to the kid then, prompting the impoverished looking boy to peer from behind the dumpster at them. The kid immediately noticed Stan’s glowing eyes which only frightened him more.

“Now go home!” Stan said in a demanding tone of voice which only frightened the kid further and made him get up and run out of that alley as fast as his feet could go.

Stan waited until the kid was gone and then resumed his focus back on his new victim. His eyes glowered as he stared him down. “I’ve been instructed to keep a low profile.” Stan explained to the man as he tightened his grip around his throat. “But I believe in such cases as this there should be exceptions.”

In return the man attempted to speak but the only thing Stan picked up on were the gurgling sounds coming from his restrained throat. Stan then loosened his grasp just enough so that the man could speak more clearly.

“You should repeat those words.” Stan said. “I assure you I’ll be able to hear them much better now.”

“Screw you!” The man snarled as he struggled to free himself and reach for his pocket knife. “Why would you care what happens to that boy?”

Stan wondered this himself. “Perhaps I was programmed with a conscious I don’t know you tell me, human. Why does your kind take such pleasure in attacking those who are helpless and innocent?”

The man had no answer for him yet his cold empty eyes reminded Stan of himself but they also reminded him of Morane as well.

“I don’t even believe you know the answer to that.” Stan replied then tightened his grip around the man’s throat once more then slammed him head first into the brick wall in front of them. The impact had been strong enough to knock out a few of his teeth but still not enough to kill him. Stan felt a little disappointed.

“I had hoped this would be quick and done with but it appears your thick head has saved you.” Stan uttered a sigh. “I suppose I will just have to do it myself.” Then just like that Stan released the man then grabbed him by the head and snapped his neck as fast as he could, killing him instantly. Stan let the limp body fall to the ground and then attempted to drag it further down the darkness of the alley when he suddenly heard a loud gasp coming from behind and quickly turned his head in the direction of the sound.

There standing behind him was the little boy, his eyes widened with horror as he stared back at him. Stan now realized he had failed in doing away with this man in secret and now he had a witness. Stan couldn’t help but feel conflicted inside.

The boy should’ve taken off running after seeing something horrific as a murder yet he didn’t and it made Stan wonder why.

“I told you to go home.” Stan spoke to the kid as he finished placing the man’s body where he wanted it then straightened his back.

The kid’s large green eyes immediately reminded Stan of Justin as he began approaching him and he wondered how often kids in this city had been a witness to crime such as this or even worse.

“Again, why didn’t you go home?” Stan demanded, clenching his fist.

The kid began to stammer now. “I-I-I-I- w-wanted to t-hank y-y-you.”

Stan appeared utterly surprised by such a response.

“You wanted to thank me for murdering that man?” Stan pointed out as the kid nodded in response.

“H-he was a b-bad man.” The kid replied.

“Yes he was.” Stan confirmed. “Now I must leave. I am needed elsewhere.”

The child didn’t seem to like that answer. “Why?” He asked him. “Will I see you again?”

“No.” Stan answered him. “And neither can you tell anyone what I have done or you will be in danger once more. And if that does happen I won’t be able to save you that time.” Stan started to walk away, knowing that it saddened the kid to see his only hero walk away from him.

I’m truly sorry. Stan thought to himself as he continued on his way to City Hall.

While back at the AMF’s base, Lynne was coming down the bottom stairway of the tower when she thought she spotted a figure dart behind the hangar building, putting her on high alert.

It must be a spy! Lynne thought angrily as she hurried down the rest of the steps and took off running after them. Probably one of the Tjatey preparing for another attack on our people too! She pulled out a large switch blade and flicked it open as she made her way towards the back of the hangar building where she had spotted the figure dart behind.

Only once she got there she didn’t see any sign of the person and began to wonder if it was nothing but her paranoid feelings rearing their ugly head again, especially since she was feeling rather emotional and vulnerable from her talk with William earlier. That alone had definitely clouded her thoughts.

“I must be losing it again.” Lynne sighed in disbelief as she turned to leave, when all of a sudden she heard a voice call out to her.

“Wait!” The voice said, putting Lynne on high alert once more.

“Who’re you?” Lynne demanded angrily as she spun around with the blade in her hand, ready to attack at will.

“It is I.” Dendera revealed herself as she walked out of the shadows, only to gasp as she spotted the blade in Lynne’s hand.

“You?” Lynne gasped with a look of surprise.

Dendera raised her hands to show Lynne they were empty. “I mean no harm I just came to talk.”

Lynne furrowed her brow. “I could’ve stabbed you just now so consider yourself lucky.”

Dendera frowned in response, dropping her arms at her sides.

“These are standard issue now.” Lynne explained as she held the blade up so Dendera could get a good look at it. “I realized one of our biggest mistakes around here, was a lack of self defense. But that’s changed for good you see.”

Dendera sighed. “I understand and I am sorry, but could we please just have a moment to talk?”

“Fine.” Lynne agreed as she put the blade away. “What do you want?”

“I’ve only come here to ask that you allow Corporal Church back at Atlantech. We cannot move forward without him and believe me we have tried.”

Lynne couldn’t help but feel cornered once more. “If I would have known I’d have both you and Corporal Sterling prodding me about Church, then I would have gone to a bar instead.” She quipped in aggravation. “But just for the record I have already agreed to let him back on the base, so your whole trip over here was pointless to begin with, and stupid I might add.”

Dendera didn’t appreciate Lynne’s hostility the least but just the same she felt as though she deserved it.

“I am deeply sorry for what my people have done to yours.” She said then while hoping another apology would do some good. “Both I and Sebak are sorry. We only wish to move forward and continue our peaceful ways. But if you choose not to forgive then we understand.”

“Trust doesn’t happen overnight and neither does forgiveness.” Lynne explained to her. “And you may not know this but some wounds never truly heal and there’s nothing you can do to change it. That’s just how it is.”

Dendera couldn’t help but frown now, letting Lynne know she was wrong.

“But I do understand.” Dendera replied sullenly. “For the loss of Onuris I feel each day.” She placed a hand over her heart. “I miss him often but I know that life does not stop it still goes on. That is something your people have taught us. Before then we never mourned our dead, we just accepted and continued fighting. We believed missing them only made us weak as warriors, and we were wrong.”

Lynne didn’t want to admit it at first but she couldn’t deny the Tjatey seemed to have a much better understanding of humanity, and probably more so than the people of Atlantis City.

“Sebak helped save your leader.” Dendera reminded her. “And it was Sebak who convinced me to talk to you myself. He wants to do good and deeply regrets serving under Naeem.”

Lynne wrinkled her nose from disgust. She hated the very sound of Naeem’s name and even more than Morane’s for that matter. Ever since that awful day that name had become nothing but a curse, something to never speak of again.

“Well I am grateful for Sebak’s help.” Lynne admitted then. “I know I couldn’t have saved Admiral Grant without him, so thank you. But with that said I think I’m going to leave now, if that’s fine with you?”

“It is.” Dendera agreed. “I know I am needed back at Atlantech anyway, but I am glad we had a chance to talk. I know you do not trust me but I hope one day that will change.”

“We’ll see.” Lynne noted as she and Dendera then went their separate ways.

By this time, Stan had finally made it to Morane’s office where they had been discussing the latest findings on Stan’s processor which only led to more questioning when Morane had noticed that Stan had been murdering individuals who were not on his kill list. This both intrigued and worried him at the same time.

“Looks like you’re a bit out of control there, Stan.” Morane complimented the android as it stood in its true metallic form with its glowing green eyes like a motionless statue before him.

“You’ve got a bit of a mind of your own huh?”

Stan didn’t respond but he listened.

“You saved a child too?” Morane sounded a bit surprised as he looked over the data on his monitor screen. “Sounds like the kid didn’t want you to leave him either. Imagine that? So can you tell me why you killed this man, or don’t you know?”

Stan attempted to process those thoughts but he wasn’t sure how to answer.

“Maybe you’ve just got a soft spot for kids huh?” Morane joked. “You’ve got yourself a little witness to murder though. You sure that kid isn’t going to tell anybody else what he saw?”

“I warned him what would happen if he chose to.” Stan answered. “He is aware of the dire consequences, so I believe he will remain silent.”

“You mean you hope so.” Morane corrected him, wondering what could possibly be going through the android’s mind at the moment.

“I must apologize but I feel it to be unethical to harm those who are innocent.” Stan explained. “The child was no threat, and you of all people should know as you did have a son at one time.”

Morane immediately felt outraged by Stan’s comment. “I had a son for sure.” He clenched his jaw. “But he got sick and died on me.”

“You speak of him as if it were his own doing for becoming ill.” Stan noted. “You always seem to blame others but never yourself. Why is that?”

Morane couldn’t believe the words coming out of Stan’s mouth now. “Shut up already!” Morane barked. “That is none of your fucking business!”

Suddenly Stan was reminded of that man he killed earlier, especially when that soulless human being had uttered those exact same words.

“You’re not a good man, are you?” Stan asked next which only angered Morane further.

“Who the fuck are you to judge me?” Morane snarled, slamming a fist on his desk. “You’re not God that’s for damn sure. What would you even know about right or wrong, Stan? You’re just a fucking machine for crying out loud!”

Stan didn’t know why but for some reason those words didn’t feel right and even kind of angered him inside but he knew better than to attack Morane, despite the fact that he wanted to and could feel that urge growing every time he was forced to report to him.

“For the record, Stan. You’re no fucking saint either.” Morane quipped as he pulled out a box of cigars and picked one up to light it.

Morane had Stan’s full attention now and he knew it.

“Yeah that’s right.” Morane puffed on his cigar as he looked the android in its glowing eyes. “You murdered that cripple in the AMF, and in cold blood too I might add.” Morane shook his head at him. “Pretty fucking heartless if you ask me.”

Stan could feel the anger rising once again.

“What was his name?” Morane continued, smirking up at him as he puffed his cigar. “Was it Eric Mathis?”

Stan instantly remembered that name and face; the soldier that attempted to harm Justin.

“Yeah, that’s the one.” Morane noted the reaction on Stan’s face. “Did he deserve to die, Stan? I mean he was pretty defenseless in the end, wasn’t he?”

Stan remembered how he had savagely beaten Private Mathis to a pulp only to be restrained and locked up in the brig afterwards.

“You may call me a bad man, and I’ll admit I am.” Morane replied. “But you should also look at yourself. You’re not so good either, Stan. Even if some of these people do deserve to die. You’re just as bad as me and you know it.”

“But I’m not a man.” Stan responded with confusion. “How are we the same?”

“We both kill with no remorse.” Morane answered. “And we both kill those who are worse than ourselves. Like that man who was after that little boy. I know his type and I despise them.” Morane clenched his teeth. “And I would have killed him too, had I been there.”

“His type?” Stan replied with curiosity.

“Yes, Stan. The type that harm or abuse kids.” Morane explained. “You see, Stan. There is a ladder for all criminals, and those which are at the top they are the worst of the worst. And while I might be considered a bad man, I’m nowhere near at the top with those other sick fucks. I mean Sure I’ve murdered others, but it’s always been for a reason and I never once laid a hand on a single child or would I ever for that matter. So what I’m getting at here is that some criminals are better than others. You understand me?”

Stan gave a nod in return.

“Well good then.” Morane noted as he puffed on his cigar then ejected the processor chip and handed it back to Stan.

As Stan inserted the chip in the back of his head a sudden thought crossed his mind. “What illness was it that killed your son?”

“Some kind of cancer.” Morane answered in annoyance. “It was long after I took care of his mother and her lover. He was only fifteen at the time but it had spread throughout his body and by the time he was eighteen and ready to learn the ropes of governing this city with me, well that’s when it took him. Call it karma if you will, but I do believe the man upstairs has always had it out for me.” He gestured, pointing upwards with his index finger. “And you know something? I don’t blame him either.”

Stan seemed a bit intrigued by all this as he reactivated his human guise. “What is karma?”

Morane scoffed. “Karma is what happens to you when you fuck up and do something bad to someone else. Honestly, Stan. I ain’t quite sure how to explain it. Right now I’ve got my hands tied trying to deal with some asshole teenager who’s been hacking my slot machines.”

“I see.” Stan noted to himself while also wondering if this so-called teenager could be Justin.

“Oh and speaking of which, that’s who I’d like you to keep an eye out for.” Morane continued. “I want you to find this little shithead and bring him to me, understood?”

Stan felt worried inside now. “Are you going to kill him?”

“Nah.” Morane answered calmly. “I just want to scare him shitless so he never does it again. You said kids aren’t a threat, remember?”

Stan nodded in return. “I will try to find him but I’m afraid I cannot guarantee his capture.”

Morane grit his teeth. “There is no try, Stan You will find that fucking kid for me, understood?”

Stan could feel the anger once more and began to wonder how fast he could snap Morane’s neck and be done with it, when all of a sudden Morane’s secretary, a middle aged woman in a long brown dress and her long black hair pulled back into a bun at the nape of her neck, entered the office carrying a stack of papers.

The woman immediately froze once she spotted Stan. “Did I come at a bad time, Sir?”

“Nah, you’re fine, Maria.” Morane responded nonchalantly. “Our little session is over.” He looked up at Stan. “You know what you have to do, so do it.”

Stan narrowed his eyes as he turned around and quietly made his exit, all the while worrying about the fate of Justin Church and how he could protect him. And soon an idea crossed his mind and it wasn’t one he liked either. He began to wonder if Morane was right about him after all.

American Gods Season 2 2019
Get Hype!
4 weeks 2 days ago #26880

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