Chapter 4: Jones

12/19/07

"Of course darling, I wouldn't miss your performance for anything," I cooed into the phone. It was a pay phone, Matthias told me that even if I was leaving them, I was still in danger. I can't use traceable communication, I can't stay in one place for too long, because when Rousseau International comes beating on the doors of Europe's last stronghold, I'm going to be the first one they come after. Jimmy, the Hedgeclipper's bassist, was waving frantically and tapping his finger against his watch. I turned away from him.

"Don't miss it daddy! There's a penalty if you do!" Michelle said. Her voice was adorable. I asked her what the penalty was. She whispered something sly, and my eyes widened.

"Who taught you those words!" I yelled. Michelle just giggled, then hung up.

"The hell, mate?" Jimmy said, "We're on in four minutes and you're backstage talkin' to your daughter? There is a time and a place!"

"Layoff," I replied, "Haven't seen her in a year, I'll say as much as I please to her."

"Oi, there's your accent!" Jimmy said. I wasn't aware of it myself, apparently I had lapsed back into my former style of speech. Jimmy glanced at his watch.

"We're on now, aren't we?"

"Ah, hell mate! In thirty seconds! Hurry up!" Jimmy frantically spun around and stumbled out the door, colliding with a stage tech. "Sorry love," he sputtered, already halfway down the hallway. I bolted after him. It felt so good to be running towards something, rather than away, as I have been for the past two months.

The end of the hallway was a white void, lights were flooding in. We were playing at Wembley Stadium, it just opened this year. We sprinted out onto the field, along with the rest of the band: Tom, our lead guitarist, and Bruce, the drummer. The lights burned our eyes, the flashes of cameras twinkled around the stadium. I threw my hand into the air and howled. A red carpet was laid out for us, leading directly to the stage in the center of the stadium. The crowd cheered, hysterical. They cut loose. All the fear, if only for a few minutes, was forgotten. We defied Midas, and Oktober. We were showing them life went on.

We took to the stage. The crowd did not let up, nothing was audible above the din of their roar. I wrapped my fingers around the microphone, I could hear a dim whine from the feedback. Jimmy strummed his bass a few times, and adjusted the knobs on the head.

"HOW ARE YOU DOING LONDON?!" I screamed into the microphone. The crowd's response was a deafening, unanimous cheer of approval. I smiled and glanced briefly upward. The stadium dome was open, and as the stadium lights cut off, billions of stars winked into existence. I gave Jimmy the cue to start, he nodded. We began our first song, it was a long number, with an endless buildup that we enjoyed dragging out while we were live. A C chord over and over from Tom, which was echoed by Jimmy. Slowly, ever so slowly, the repetition of the chords gained speed. Bruce picked up with the drums. You could feel the static in the air. Then...

"What the hell?" I whispered into the mic. Those were not the lyrics. Jimmy had seen it too, and stopped playing. Bruce, hadn't seen it, but when he saw what we were staring at, he stopped. Tom's focus was stronger, he kept playing, even when he noticed it.

A brilliant, blue bolt was blazing through the night. It raced towards us, faster than anything I've ever seen. I snapped back to reality, and tackled Jimmy. We tumbled off the stage. Tom dropped his guitar and bolted after us while Bruce jumped off the back of the stage.

The bolt collided with the stage with earth-shattering force. It was annihilated. The resulting crater looked as though the fist of God had come and driven the stage into the ground. Arcs of electricity sparked out of the crater for a few seconds, and a dim blue glow radiated from inside. Jimmy was screaming something to me, but I wasn't listening. I produced the knife Daphne had given me from my pocket and flicked it open. I had taken to carrying it with me, it was my only form of defense.

Something emerged from the crater, floating gracefully. It was a woman, in black jeans, a black shirt, and black leather jacket. Her skin was snow white, sickly white, and had an eerie blue radiance. She looked just like...

"Natasha?" I said allowed. She smiled.

"Close." The girl held her hand into the air and gazed at the crowd. They didn't know how to react, the entire audience stood stock still. A cable from one of the undamaged amps slithered through the air and wrapped itself around the girl's open palm. A stream of electricity jumped from her wrist to the frayed wires of the cable. The air was filled with a deafening shriek, the worst radio feedback you've ever heard multiplied tenfold. I fell to my knees, and covered my ears, but I could do nothing to dampen the sound. Within seconds though, it stopped. The girl brought the cable to her mouth, like a microphone.

"England falls tonight," she said, grinning wickedly. "You will be the first to die." She dropped the cable and threw her hands into the air. Electricity jumped everywhere It arced between every piece of metal in that stadium, between members of the crowd, frying them. Bolts shot through people like cannonballs. All hell broke lose. People ran screaming, they trampled each other. Children, too small to fight through the crowd, where separated from their parents and thrown to the ground, then smashed underfoot.

I searched the crowd, panicked. The girl apparently didn't see me, I was behind on of the large amps. My body locked up with fear, I didn't know what to do. I scanned the fray for someone recognizable, a savior. In the window of one of the boxes, I saw a black silhouette of a figure. The girl had her eyes locked on the figure too, as though she was taunting it. There was a loud crack, the glass of the box shattered. The girl dropped her hands, and the electricity storm ceased. An inch from her head, frozen in a field of sparks, was a large bullet. A sniper round. It clattered to the ground. The girl raised her hand again, aiming it at the box. A beam of blue lightning erupted from it and struck the box with devastating force. It, for lack of a better description, exploded.

An arm grabbed me from behind, and someone's hand covered my mouth. Matthias' face appeared before me. He put a finger to his lips, and wordlessly handed me a gun. Crouched, he took aim at the electric fiend with his own revolver. She noticed. An arc of lightning blew the revolver from Matthias' hand, and he was thrown to the ground. She turned to me, and smiled.

"Now, you must be the dear Smithnjones I've been hearing so much about," she said, then giggled, "Just kidding. They barely say anything about you. Poor friends if you ask me." I raised my gun and emptied it into her, to no avail. Each bullet was intercepted by a beam of electricity and deflected. "Come now, that's so impolite. What kind of example are you setting?"

My heart stood still.

"Example...?" I echoed.

"For your daughter," the girl smiled.




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