Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Purple Roses: After the Darkness


Cunning eyes watched the maid as she rummaged through the drawers of Skyril’s office then move on to the laptop the late Purple Rose director had left open the night she was murdered. Unaware of being watched, the maid muttered as she worked fast, trying to gain information as quickly as she could. From the look on her face, it was evident she was not finding what she was looking for.

“You seem to be having a bit of trouble.” Emerald said as she stepped out of her hiding place. “Is there anything I can do to help?”

Defiance replaced the shock and fear that swept across the other girl’s face. Without answering, she struck out at Emerald. Having expected this move of a dishonorable coward Em stepped calmly out of the way and brought her own fist up and into the gut of the traitor. Falling to the floor the girl gasped for breath while glaring up at Em.

“Let’s see….you are Joni, aren’t you?” Emerald questioned her as she studied the girl who for many months had been spying on them. “You belong to the East side gang but are reporting to both Snake-eyed Jeff and to your own boss. Why?”

Snarling the girl didn’t say anything but rushed at Emerald with fists in front of her. Maneuvering easily around her, Emerald easily kept up with blocks to every blow then almost playfully would biff the girl in the head, enraging her even further.

“You have to keep your cool,” Emerald instructed her patiently as if she were a proper student. “When you lose your temper, you have already been defeated.”

“You will never get me to talk!” Joni sneered hatefully, still trying to land one on Emerald.

“I don’t need you too,” Em said, flipping the girl around so she was facing the other way. “We already know everything.”

Momentarily stunned and afraid the girl turned, staring at Em trying to decipher the truth. Calmly Em knocked the girl’s feet from under her so she landed on the floor.

“You are a LIAR!” Joni screeched as she leapt back up, reaching for the letter opener on Skyril’s desk.

Swinging it almost wildly towards Em, she lunged. Once again Em escaped harm by smoothly out witting her. With a move that would make Jacky Chan proud, Em knocked the make shift weapon from Joni’s hands.

“Believe what you like.” Em said as she twisted the girl’s hands behind her back, rendering her helpless. “You won’t be seeing the light of day for a very long time.”

Two other girls showed up then, coming through the doors. Lyd and Mar silently took custody of Joni and led her away with iron grips.

But Joni was not done. Twisting around as much as she could, she shrieked at the top of her voice. “I am glad all those agents are dead! Soon you will join them!”

At this Em punched the girl across the face rendering her unconscious.

“Never EVER mock my pain.” She whispered in the girl’s ear as she fell.

Turning away Em walked down the hall towards the solarium, her thoughts on Raven and the others. She wondered how they were coping.

The expanse of the sky was painted in array of colors as the sun began to set. Drops of rain still clung to the surface of nature long after the downpour had stopped, catching the last rays of the sun that chose to peek out from the clouds so late in the day. Down below the somber ceremony of putting the fallen Purple Rose agents to rest was taking place. Into a vast mausoleum went all eight caskets; so many precious lives, gone in a moment.

Raven stood at the entrance with many of the others, watching carefully as the gleaming wooden caskets were laid in their final resting place. Her sharp eyes missed nothing: from the people in attendance, to the surrounding area, and to the funeral home employees as well. Nothing was left to chance. Every unknown person and area had been screened and analyzed until absolute safety was assured. 

Satisfied, Raven nodded to the director of the cemetery signaling her consent. Nodding back he turned and shut the door himself then sealed it.

It was almost as if everyone had been holding their breath. A long sign escaped the trembling lips of her comrades.

“I still can’t believe this is happening.” Lyd broke the silence with the sound of her soft voice.

Wrapping a comforting arm around her friend, Mar hugged her. “I know, Lyd. It’s hard to believe.”

“What is hard to believe is that a fellow Purple Rose agent did this!” Thalia spoke with a hard tone, trying to cover up her sorrow in anger.

“Former Purple Rose Agent,” Raven corrected her darkly, her thoughts almost too heavy to bear.

“I will never forgive her.” Thalia muttered as they all walked back to their vehicles.

“Don’t even mention her name around me again.” Flame warned as he comforted Rachel.

“Nor me,” Sam added, grieved and angry.

“Lenka will be here soon from London to help us out.” Raven interrupted them gently. “Who was supposed to pick her up?”

“Sarthacus,” Mar answered her. “He left shortly after the service.”

“Good.” Raven replied as she paused to look at the sky, wondering if life would ever get back to normal. “I think I need some time alone.”

Hurrying across the crowded terminal, the immaculately dressed young woman brushed her blond hair back from her lovely but weary face. Tired after the long journey home all Lenka Sweet wanted to do was cry and be alone with her thoughts. So many of her dear friends had perished and by the hand of one who they all had trusted. Yet, with Skyril gone, there was no time for private grief. Even though the school and agency was “closed” there were duties that still needed to be done.

“Lenka! Over here!” It was Sarthacus waving over the heads of the frantic travelers.

Relief filled her lessening her stress somewhat as she headed towards him. Without a word the two friends embraced, each saying more in the hug then could be expressed out loud.

“I am sorry you have to come home too this Lenka.” Sarthacus said as he pulled away. “It all happened so fast. We were not prepared….never could I have even guessed in a million years that one of our own would….”

“Let us not talk of this now.” Lenka brushed back tears, walking towards the baggage claim. “We can talk more when we reach Kingfisher Academy.”

Silence reigned at Kingfisher Academy robbing it of the vibrant life it once had. Emerald sat by herself in the solarium watching her young son play with a puppy. Unaware of the tragedy that had taken place Ciaran smiled happily and laughed at the puppies antics. Sometimes Em wished she could be just as carefree again. A sound of ringing interrupted her thoughts.

“Hey Babe,” Chase’s warm voice spoke through the phone. “How are you holding up?”

“I miss you and wish you were here.” She confessed. “I have to debrief Lenka Sweet once she gets here then deal with another assignment.”

“I am finishing up with the job here and will be on a plane by nightfall.” He assured her. “Just hang in there. I will be with you soon.”

As she hung up the phone Lydia entered the solarium.

“Lenka has just arrived.” She informed her friend. “If you want I can take Ciaran and the puppy back to your room.”

“Thank you Lydia. That will be fine.” She smiled as she watched her son run to Lydia to hug her then left to do her tasks.




Time was ticking away, eating at Raven’s nerves as she rounded yet another corner of the long underground corridor. Well lit and spacious with 12 foot arched ceilings, the walls were covered in pyrite, serpentinite, obsidian, and other rocks of various sizes and colors that glittered and shone like glass. All were arranged artfully up and down the walls making this the most beautiful secret underground passage ever.

Shaking her head Raven had to laugh. It all had been planned and designed by Kallista herself. Every bit of the planning had taken so much of her time, she had taken great care to keep this and other projects covert so that only a few Purple Roses knew about it. All that it had taken was a science classroom to blow up and no one would then question all the construction activity at the school.

“So very clever, Kallista,” Raven muttered as she continued to walk the endless passageways. “Now if only there could have been a mode of transportation down here to make the trip shorter.”

As if by magic, she spied a Segway tucked into a tiny grove, as if Kallista had known exactly when Raven would get tired. Smiling, she stepped on it and continued on her way. For a moment she let her thoughts wander and pondered about Kallista’s fate.

“No,” She made herself stop. It would do no good to reminisce about what could have been. Kallista had chosen her fate. She alone had to face what was next.
Looking up she knew where she was. Small markings in the celling indicated where that part of the passageway led too, each property secretly belonging to the Purple Roses Agency.

There was the Ice cream place she had passed a while ago. There was also a veterinarian hospital, a café, bookstore, and a coffee shop. Last but not least, in fact it was the most important was the mausoleum and the special apartments underneath.

Standing before the sealed entrance Raven punched in the code and went through a series of tests before the doors opened for her. At last she was in.

The air inside the space was just was well ventilated as the passageways yet had a more modern look that was clean, simple yet sophisticated. Platforms lined the walls on either side if her.  There were eight in all. Pressing a button to her left Raven watched as doors opened up overhead reveling the mausoleum and the caskets that rested inside. As planned, the caskets were lowed gently, each to one of the platforms that lined the wall. After this was done Raven pushed the button again and the ceiling closed once more. Walking over to the first casket she checked her watch again.

“It’s just about that time again.” She muttered as she opened the first lid.

Inside Skyril slowly opened her eyes and smiled at her friend.

“Seems we were successful,” Was all she said.

“Hello to you too,” Raven said happily, already prepared to assist her friends.

Gingerly Skyril sat up then climbed out of her box. Before going over to help Raven with the other boxes she looked around the space in satisfaction. It was the first time she had seen it.

“Nice,” She approved. “This will do.”

Together she and Raven helped the others out of their boxes. Daniel hurried to the last box and opened it with a worried face. Inside Noam lay there peacefully, her eyes just beginning to flutter.

“Are you doing ok?” He asked softly, concerned.
“I am doing fine,” She assured him with a smile.

They embraced tightly, glad to be in each other’s arms once more.

“I don’t know about the rest of you but I sure could use a drink.” Hellboy said as he stretched while looking about.

“If you follow me I can show you the kitchen area as well as the rest of the living areas.” Raven said quickly and walked out of the room, showing them the way.

Soon they were all comfortable again sitting in plush chairs with every kind of choice foods under the sun available for them.

“Kallista went all out, didn’t she?” NJ muttered as she looked at the desert carts.

“Yes she did.” Raven answered dryly then pointed to the envelopes that had each of their names on them. “She left those for you, too.”

“What are these?” Dan asked as he found the one with his name on it.

When he opened his up it looked like a greeting card that one would get from a Hallmark shop.

I am sorry I killed you, the card read, and had a picture of a teddy bear bleeding from its heart. I hope in time you will forgive me and we can be friends again. Love, Kallista. It went on to give the customary X’s and O’s that symbolized hugs and love but had swirly markings too.

“What are these supposed to mean?” Noam asked as she looked at her card that had a unicorn bleeding rainbows from its eyes. “…and did she create all these herself?”

Disbelief and laughter showed on everyone’s faces as they each read their card.

“Those other marks on your cards represent noogies.” Raven sighed. “…and yes, Kallista had these made just for you when she found that they did not sell any, Sorry I Killed You, cards in any shop.”

“I like mine!” Octaboona said happily as he looked at his card that showed a picture of a large purple heart oozing sparkly flowers in color hues of purple, blue, green and pink from the wound. “She even wrote me a poem!”

Leaning over to get a better peak, Skyril read aloud, “Roses are red, violets are blue, I love the color Purple, I am sorry I killed you.”

The sound of people face palming could be heard all around the room.

“I think mine is supposed to resemble a baby giraffe that is bleeding musical notes.” Alex said, perplexed as he looked at his. “Is this supposed to be reference to my undercover gig as a DJ?”

“It’s better than mine which has a girl scout holding a pink gun.” Lizzy said glumly.

Dan had tossed his card aside and was happily munching on a muffin. “Mmm…this is delicious!” He said happily. “By the way, did anyone else have issues with Kal when we were dying?”
“You mean about the fact that she completely missed us when “shooting” at us despite all the hours of practice we gave her?” Hellboy gritted his teeth as he remembered. “I had to burst my own blood package she was so far off.”

“Same here,” Dan nodded.

“I had to actually jump in the line of fire.” Sky muttered.

“What is the situation now?” Lizzy asked as she made her way to yet another room that was filled with the latest high technology. “Was Kallista’s act believable?”

“Indeed it was.” Raven informed them all as she followed Lizzy. “She has made her place among the West side gangsters”

“What about the East side gang?” Daniel asked. “They have been quiet for some time now. Has Kallista found anything on them?”

“Not since the last time we talked.” Raven replied. “Now it’s not safe to even approach her for fear her cover will be blown. She’s on her own.”

“What about the spy in our midst?” Skyril asked. “Has she made a move?”

“We decided to end her time at Kingfisher Academy,” Raven informed her friend. “She is in a holding cell now where she won’t be a bother to anyone.”

Everyone took their places in front of laptops and other equitment to monitor the situation from their safe location. Their surveillance feeds allowed them access to all security cameras throughout the city as well as in their own agency.

Raven’s phone rang interrupting the commotion of the agents who sat working diligently.

“Yes? What is it?” Raven answered briskly.

“You have to do something,” Em’s voice came in panicked waves. “Sarthacus and some of the others went to go hunt down Kallista!”

“Crap,” Raven muttered then looked at everyone and spoke hurriedly. “You guys will be ok. There is everything down here to keep you safe, healthy and happy. Kallie made sure of that. If you need me, call me on my other phone.”

“Do you need us to come and help?” Hellboy asked her.

“No. I can handle it. It’s best you all stay out of sight.” Raven reassured him then left at a quick pace.

Dismal and dark, the abandoned warehouse district was a place Kallista found herself lurking quite frequently as of late. It’s broken down emptiness suited her at the moment and she liked the quietness that surrounded the place. It matched her desolate soul. With hands in her pockets she strolled idly down one alleyway, her fedora hat tipped low over her eyes.

Coughing racked her body suddenly, forcing her to pause for a moment till the spasms pasted. Flecks of blood appeared on her jacket sleeve as she clutched her stomach in pain. For a moment all she could do was stay in the crouch, half bent while waiting for her breathing to return to normal. Concentrating on the air around her and feeling the wind on her face she let that be her focus as her breathing steadied. Cautiously she stood back up and moved forward, irritated at the interruption. Lately her attacks had been coming more often and had become quite painful. In a way, she welcomed the pain. It kept her from thinking about the demons that tore at her soul.

This was the west side, in the control of Snake-eyed Jeff. Here she should have been safe. Nothing warned her of an opposing presence till it was too late. A clicking sound was all she got before she found herself surrounded by nearly a dozen agents, each standing against her forcefully with guns drawn, pointed straight at her.

“Looking a little sleazy now days Kallista.” Sarthacus was the first to peak, his voice dripping acid. “Perhaps it’s the company you keep.”

“Hello fellas,” Kallista spoke almost lazily as she gave a half smile, her hands still in her pockets. “Have you come to play? I see there is not as many of you now as there once was.”

Her taunts caused the faces of her former Purple Rose comrades to darken considerably.

“Don’t mess with us, Baby Face Bobby!” Chan snarled at her as he pressed his gun against her temple. “I am this close to pulling the trigger. Tell us why you did it! Why did you kill them?”

Steadily she looked into the faces of Sarthacus, Chan, Adra, Flame, Mar, Niall, Leo, Sam, Zath, and Nix. All of them looked back coldly, faces a mask of barely contained anger and grief.

Shrugging almost carelessly she looked up at the sky.

“What do you want me to say? That I am sorry?” Her voice sounded quiet and bored. “I did what I had to do. Believe me, it hurt me more then it hurt them.”

Disbelief and hatred shot across their faces and Chan moved forward to ram the butt of his gun against Kallista’s head. But a hand stopped him. Looking over he saw Raven standing beside him, holding his gun in her hands. Coolly she spoke to Kallista.

“I suggest you move elsewhere. Next time I may not be here to save your ass.”

Giving off a halfhearted laugh Kallista brushed past the circle of agents and continued walking.

“Maybe it’s time you stop saving my ass.” She tossed back over her shoulder. “I don’t need you. I don’t need any of you.”

All eyes were on her till she was gone then Raven found herself the focus of attention.

“Why did you stop us?” Sarthacus asked quietly

“You know why,” She answered evenly. “We are agents, not bounty hunters or vigilantes. It’s our duty to carry out the law. When we get all the proof we can, then we can bring her in and incarcerate her.”

“Sometimes doing the right thing, sucks.” Adra responded frustrated as she glared down the way Kallista had taken.

“It sure does,” Raven agreed so quietly that no one heard her.

Up on a roof no faraway lay Emerald in camouflage with gun still aimed at her fellow Purple Rose comrades. If worse had come to worse, her orders had been to fire in such a way to intercede any bullet that was aimed at Kallista.  Breathing a sigh of relief at Raven’s timing, she lay there for several euphoric moments till her heart beat normal. Then as stealthily as she could, she maneuvered from her position unseen and slipped off back to where she came from.

It seemed like a far off dream, something just out of reach. Only allowed a glimpse of the good life that held so much promise yet had slipped so easily from her fingers, Kallista could not hold onto it no matter how hard she tried.

“It’s time,” The voice broke through her reverie, driving away abstract and elusive thoughts.

Straightening from the wall where she had been slouching, Baby Face Bobby nodded at Quick-hand Luke. Fighting against another cough she grabbed a cup and went to refill her drink with more egg nog. It seemed to be the only thing that soothed her sore throat and upset stomach.

Other men filed out of the room following Snake-eyed Jeff and Quick-hand Luke. Baby Face Bobby was one of the last ones out followed by Slippery Pete. All evening the second rate gangster had been sneaking shifty glances her way, always seeming pleased about something. It gave her the creeps.

Moving over to Quick-hand Luke she slipped in beside him as they made their way to the vehicles. Half the group split off to go occupy their usual hangouts. One of the goons was dressed like Snake-eyed Jeff. Tonight he was supposed to be seen by as many people as possible, but not approached directly. The other goons were to make sure of that.

The rest of them piled into a large dark gray van.

“Stick with me, kid,” Quick-hand Luke said under his breath as they drove to the rendezvous point. “It’s gonna get fast and dangerous for a bit.”

Nodding, Kallista prepared herself for the secret mission that was beginning to unfold. Everyone pulled out dark masks just as planned and put them on.

“You gotta be kidding me!” Snake-eyed Jeff exclaimed as he looked at the sparkly mask Baby Faced Bobby wore.

“What!” Kallista asked innocently, “I like sparkles!”

Snake-eyed Jeff was about to say something but Quick-hand Luke interrupted him.

“Just leave it,” Luke advised lowly. “We have a job to do.”

Jerking his head in reluctant agreement Snake-eyed Jeff turned to the rest of them.

“We will have only three minutes.” He warned them all severely. “It will go down just as we planned.”

“You stay by me,” Quick-hand Luke said to Kallista. “Grab the weapons and don’t worry about the money.”

“These are the weapons that you lost when someone from the East Side gang sold you out to the cops, right?” She asked quietly.

“Yeah. It was last year.” Quick-hand Luke frowned. “The whole operation was shot. It was so carefully done. I still don’t know how we lost everything. But tonight we will get it back.”

The van pulled into the parking lot of a small forsaken looking laundry mat.

“This building used to be the post office half a century ago.” Quick-hand Luke told her as a portion of the van floor was removed, revealing a coved manhole underneath. “It has been different things since then, but one thing stays the same. There is a tunnel that leads from the basement of this building to the Julian Pembrook Bank.”

“We will blast through the wall and enter near the vault that keeps the valuables that are confiscated by the police.” Snake-eyed Jeff told the men. “You all know what you have to do. Don’t get distracted by any other items there. All we get are the money and the weapons.”

One of the men by that time had pried the man hole cover open and disappeared through the opening. Following quickly after the rest of the men followed with Baby Face Bobby once more bringing up the rear.

“This is so cool!” Baby Face Bobby giggled as they crept down the long dark hallways. “I feel like James Bond!”

Happily she hummed the Mission Impossible theme, much to the irritation of others.

“You are humming the Mission Impossible tune.” Slippery Pete told her bluntly.

“So? I like it.”

“Yeah, but it has nothing to do with James Bond. That is Ethan Hunt’s tune.” Slippery Pete told her superiorly.

“Don’t care!” Kallista stuck out her tounge through her sparkly mask at him, then coughed and hid the specs of blood that appeared on her sleeve.

Slippery Pete made a lunge at her but Quick-hand Luke stepped in between them, stopping him.

“You can pound on her as much as you like after this job is done!” He snarled at Slippery Pete. “Now concentrate! We have work to do.”

“I should have worn my bowtie for this special event.” Baby Face Bobby remarked to no one in particular as she mused out loud while studying her purple necktie. “I could have been like Doctor Who!”

“Who?” Someone asked irritated and confused.

“Right!” She nodded and coughed harshly.

“What?”

“No, Who!”

“What?”

“Who!”

“Stop that or I will kill you right now myself!” Snake-eyed Jeff snared at her.

“SOMEONE CALL THE DOCTOR!” She laughed then added. “Fezzes are cool!”

Arriving at their destination several of the crew worked efficiently together and placed the dynamite around the perimeter.

Waiting a ways back, Baby Faced Bobby watched, face intent beneath the mask. The blast came a moment later. Shielding her face, she turned away from the debris that still managed to rain down on her despite the distance.

“Boooooooooooooooooom!” She made sound effects again amid coughs earning more disgusted looks her way. “I give that an 8.9 on my scale. Of course I could have done better.”

Sighing, Quick-hand Luke kept a few more guys from punching Baby Face Bobby.

Not waiting for anymore debris to settle, the crew rushed in and ran to the vault on the right that held the weapons and money they were after.

“This is my first bank robbery!” Baby Face Bobby said happily as she took out her phone and snapped pictures of her in front of the vault and various other places with some of the guys. “I am going to journal about this when I get back!”

“Are you sure we can’t just kill her boss?” One of the men asked Snake-eyed Jeff as they watched the girl strike several poses in various spots, still snapping pictures.

Tempted, Snake-eyed Jeff glanced at Quick-hand Luke to see him frowning at him.
“We better not right now. But maybe later you all can have her and use her for target practice.”

The men gave a little cheer and brightened up even more when the vault opened.

“We are in!” One of them called back.

With a flourish, Baby Face Bobby bowed them in. Ignoring her they walked past her arrogantly and into the vault.

Waiting for them inside sat, Dan, Lizzy, Octaboona, Hellboy, Skyril, NJ, Noam, and Daniel.

“Welcome one and all!” Skyril said grandly.

“What is this?” Snake-eyed Jeff blurted out through a mind that was frozen with shock and horror. “I thought you Agents were dead!”

“It’s a MIRICLE!” Baby Face Bobby cried out dramatically spreading her hands to the heavens. “PRAISE THE LORD!”

Still very stunned the gangsters turned to look from the smiling agents to the one wearing a glittery facemask and then back again.

“We have been double crossed!” Quick-hand Luke said lowly as he glared dangerously at Kallista.

“Correction!” She spoke cheerfully. “YOU have been TRIPPLE crossed. Slippery Pete and Snake-eyed Jeff have just been double crossed.”

“Explain.” Quick-hand Luke said coldly, ignoring the fights that broke out all around him.

Calmly Baby Faced Bobby led him to the side, easily dodging a flying body of one of the goons that Noam had flipped over her back.

“I double crossed you, its true Luke,” She began. “But in a way, I saved you too.”
He did not answer but stood waiting for her to continue as all his dreams and goals seem to sink before him like the Titanic.

“We, at the Purple Rose Agency knew something was going down for a while now. The East Side Gang was suddenly quiet while the West side seemed to be growing in power.”

“We are hard workers, that’s all.” Quick-hand Luke spoke through clenched teeth. “We are business men and just coming to get back what was ours.”

“Maybe,” Baby Face Bobby said. “But the East Side gang was pretty competitive with you before. Sometimes between the two sides, this area seemed more like a war zone. We had to crack down on you.”

“That’s when our guns were stolen from us.” He nodded, coolly.

“Confiscated, due to the nature of the sell,” She corrected.

“Whatever.”

“But when the East Side Gang dropped off the radar suddenly we took notice.” She continued. “We also found suddenly that we, the Purple Rose Agency were under surveillance and that a lot of our missions became compromised. We had a spy among us. It didn’t take us long to find out who. We decided to let one Joni Lewis continue to “work” for us as a maid so we could keep an eye on her. We fed her false information quite frequently.”

Behind them, the Purple Rose Agents fought easily with the would be thieves, many already subdued.

“We found that Ms. Lewis was part of the East side gang but she reported to the leader of the West side gang. Can you think of why?”

Quick-hand Luke looked with narrow eyes to his boss who was busy fighting one on one with Hellboy, understanding coming into his eyes.

“That’s right,” Baby Face Bobby answered for him. “You have been betrayed by your own boss. He was going to set you up for this robbery. He knew this job could be traced.”
“What are you talking about?” A goon asked from beneath NJ’s boots.

Several of the men still had not surrendered and hid behind some boxes. Fear and uncertainty marked their body language as they overheard Baby Face Bobby’s words.

“She’s lying!” Snake-eyed Jeff shouted as he backed away from Hellboy and pulled a gun on Baby face Bobby. “Don’t listen to her!”

“Fine, don’t listen.” Baby face Bobby shrugged. “But outside is the East side gang waiting to ambush you”

“Not me,” Snake-eyed Jeff laughed as he backed away, keeping the gun trained on the girl with the sparkly mask. “Who is still with me? If we can leave here now, the East side gang will let us go!”

“That’s right.” Baby Face Bobby nodded and coughed. “Jeff here has plans to let the East side gang have most of the cash and the weapons. He intends to let the blame fall on Quick-hand Luke and the rest of you lot, disappearing himself once he got a cut from the money. With you out of the way, East side gets the money, weapons and the power left from you.”

“You little bitch!” Snake-eyed Jeff screamed and shot at her as he ran from the vault.

Stepping in the way, Quick-hand Luke took the bullet meant for Baby Face Bobby and fell to the ground. Catching him before he hit the hard surface, Kallista lowered him gently.

“Just a warning,” Daniel’s voice spoke out to the other men fleeing with their boss, “There is another Purple Rose team out there who has ambushed the East side gang.”

“That’s right,” Noam said. ‘It’s gonna be chaotic out there. Better surrender now and live rather than getting shot at and dying.”

Hesitating, the desperate criminals looked at the calm faces of the agents and decided they had better chances out in the chaos. Perhaps they thought they would be able to slip away. Little did they know that nothing ever slips by the cunning eyes of a Purple Rose agent.

“Go after Jeff,” Quick-hand Luke said weakly to Baby Face Bobby. “Don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine. I just want revenge of the man who betrayed me.”

Smiling through tears, Baby Face Bobby took off her mask, becoming Kallista once more.

“Your sacrifice won’t be for nothing, Luke.” She spoke quietly to him. “You just hold on there. I will be back.”

Anger surged from her prompting her to run at a high speed to gain the distance between her and Snake-eyed Jeff. Rounding the corners of the underground passage she paused briefly, just long enough to listen and catch a clue to the whereabouts of the scum.

A rattling noise sounded off from opposite of where they had come in. He had taken another route. Charging after him she pondered in her mind all she would do when she had reached him. Thoughts of what she had to do under his rule and what he did to Quick-hand Luke went round and round in her head. One thing was for certain, she would not make things easy for him.

Up ahead she saw a light that came from above, illuminating the space below. Instinctively she knew he was now outside of the tunnels. Reaching the place she saw a ladder and climbed to the top.  Sounds of a fight reached her ears as she climbed out. Turning, she scanned the scene before her and saw many of her dear Purple Rose siblings fighting bravely with the goons who had come from the nearby night club and with the East side gang. Neither Jeff nor Pete were among them. Seeing as the agents were capable of finishing the fight, Kallista took off in the opposite direction following the trail of clues Jeff has left behind.

It was behind some alleyways Kallista found him, panting and sweating from unaccustomed exertion. A coughing spasm struck her then causing her to double over in pain.

Taking advantage of this Snake-eyed Jeff stepped over to her and struck her hard in the face, knocking her backwards. Empty boxes flipped over as she landed among them. At the same time, sudden weakness filled her as all the anger seemed to seep out with the next coughing fit she had.

“You have no right to come after me. You are just like me,” Snake-eyed Jeff snarled viciously as she struggled to stand again. “Plus you are ugly, useless and have not much brains.”

“True,” she admitted with a smile despite the pain. “But I do have something going for me that you will never have.”

“Yeah? And what it that?”

“I have my family, the Purple Roses. For some reason they like me and so I have more then you, more than most people. I will always treasure that.”

He lunged at her but she was ready for his underhanded approach and blocked him. But his strength was by brute force and she fell back clutching a broken arm. Yet strangely, she felt nothing. Numbness had begun to settle in, clouding her perception.

Slipper Pete walked up to the then, joining his boss. Swinging back his foot he kicked her in the chin knocking her flat on her back. The impact left little air for her to scream and so as she opened her mouth, no sound came out.

Standing over her, Slippery Pete gloated.

“I always knew you were not one of us.” He kicked her in the side. “That’s why I have been slipping poison into your drink all this time.”

Unable to answer, Kallista listened as blood began to trickle from her mouth.

“I don’t need to shoot you,” He continued to taunt. “You are gonna die anyways. There is nothing more you can do. We won! You lost! Except it!”

Snake-eyed Jeff looked at Slippery Pete in a new light and smiled. Then sounds of someone approaching were heard by all of them.

“Here come some more of my men to finish you off!” Snake-eyed Jeff sneered as he leaned down to punch her in the face again. “You will provide us with plenty of sport!”
“It could be some of my people.” Kallista smiled through black eyes and a swollen lip. “We will just have to wait and see.”

“Nah, I am not waiting,” Snake-eyed Jeff shook his head. “I’m off! I’ve already got what I needed. Now I am free!”

“Just to make sure you don’t follow us,” Slippery Pete pulled out his gun and shot her in the upper leg.

Turning the two men fled down another alley way and disappeared from her view. All she could do for a moment was try and not to drown in the sea of agony that swept over her like a fiery blaze when the bullet penetrated her leg. Tears spilled unbidden from her eyes as she gritted her teeth and tried to stand. Attempting to follow the two crooks she took a step forward before her other leg gave way beneath her. Stumbling she fell sideways down a small stairway leading to a basement, knocking into a pile of boxes on the way down. All sound and pain left her then as the world became still and silent.  Like a river, the falling boxes cascaded over her, covering her, burying her beneath a sea of brown.  It was the last thing she saw before the world went black.

Back at the vault, a reunion was taking place as police took away the bound East and West side gang members. Hardly believing their eyes, friends embraced their fellow agents who once had been thought lost forever but were now restored to them. Words could not express the joy and immense relief that everyone wore on their faces and felt in their hearts.

“Oh, thank God!” Em cried as she embraced NJ and Sky tightly.

Mar, Lydia, and Thalia ran over to Noam, Daniel, Octa and Hellboy and hugged them all tightly before running to and hugging the others.

“You know what this calls for?” Lizzy asked with eyes shining.

“What is that?” Raven smiled back happily, answering for them all.

“We need to have a party!”

Cheers of affirmation rang out at this.

“Let’s go home, guys!” Alex suggested as he got hugs from just about everyone. “It will be good to be home again.”

 

 

 

 

 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Purple Roses: Gangsters


The sound of wheels squeaking resounded oddly in the hallway of the casino hotel. Pushing the wheelchair was a young girl, a staff member of the Star Palace Hotel. Whistling softly, the girl in the uniform carefully maneuvered the bemused occupant to the elevators.

“It won’t be long now Mr. Maynard and we will have you on your way to meet your family.” She spoke professionally before starting up her cheerful whistle again, pushing him into the gilded cage of the fancy elevator.

“I just don’t see why my family had to come up now to visit!” He sputtered, frustrated. “This was supposed to be my weekend off and a chance to enjoy myself. But instead, I twist my ankle then my family comes!”

“Don’t worry, Mr. Maynard.” She soothed as the elevator descended. “I am sure after this you can get back to the casino and gamble your life’s savings away in peace.”

Becoming more confused by the moment the man tuned slightly in his chair to get a better look at the girl behind him. Wide blue eyes stared back at him, cool, collected, and unwavering. Everything looked normal on her, from the burgundy color of the hotel jacket to the polished hairstyle of the black hair that was professionally styled. It all was perfect and yet….

“Hey! Aren’t you that girl who was in the lobby yesterday; the one I seen when I somehow fell and twisted my ankle?” His eyes narrowed suspiciously. “You are! You are that girl who was dressed up like a gangster!”

Only a small smile appeared on the girls face.

“I have no idea what you are talking about, sir.” She responded placidly as the elevator dinged.

“What is your name?” He asked as she wheeled him out into the hotel lobby and out through the main doors.

When she didn’t’ respond and continued to whistle he turned again and tried to get a peek at the shiny name tag that was pinned to the lapel.

“Kenji?” He asked incredulous. “Isn’t that Japanese? You don’t look Asian to me!”

“I was adopted by a Japanese family.” She replied simply, walking up to the limo that was waiting for him.

His doubtful confuse expression didn’t leave his face. “Isn’t that a boy’s name?”

“Is it?” She tilted her head then assisted him into the backseat.

“Hey! ... a limo? Since when did my family have enough money to afford a limo?” His perplexed expression deepened.

“They didn’t Mr. Maynard. It is compliments on the hotel after your accident yesterday.” The girl told him.

Dawning crept into his face as she pulled the wheelchair back.

“Hey! It was YOU! You were that gangster in the hotel lobby yesterday and it was YOU who tripped me!”

“Have a nice day sir.” The girl smiled sweetly as she shut the door, cutting off anymore words he had to say.

Smoothly the limo pulled out and was on its way. The girl smiled and waved in a friendly manner then turned and pushed the wheelchair back into the hotel lobby.

“Hmm…Kenji…should have paid more attention.” She muttered, eyeing the nametag and shrugging.

No one spared her a glance as she continued on her way. With a firm grasp on the handles, she passed the alcove in which the other wheelchairs were stored and headed to the grand ballroom. Only the sound of her whistling could be heard as she pushed through the grand doors and stepped into the empty room. So early in the day, the massive room was not expected to be in use for at least another few hours. Time enough to get something accomplished.

Working quickly she reached down and flipped on a switch to a bomb that had been placed there earlier. Only five minutes before it would go off. Grabbing the other items from underneath the chair she moved to the opposite end of the room and pushed roughly through the doors. Tossing one smoke bomb into the kitchen with one hand, she whirled and then set off the fire alarm with the other hand. Loud warning beeps reverberated through the facility as she walked back down the hall from which she had come. Staff and guests alike ran past her, panic on their faces as they gave out cries of alarm. Ignoring them, the girl walked on, then for added effect, tossed the last smoke bomb behind her. Smoke filled the space immediately, ensuing that no one would head down that way to where the bomb was. Ripping off her jacket, she tossed it easily away behind some bushes then sped away on her motorcycle. Behind her, the bomb went off just as the fire department arrived. Smiling smugly, the girl pulled out some sunglasses and adjusted them on her face. How she loved it when a good plan came together. Quick-hand Luke would be pleased.

Standing in the rubble of the once opulent ballroom of the Star Palace Hotel, all Hellboy could do was shake his head. In his hands he held the burned out remnants of the device that had been used to detonate the bomb.

“I will have to do some analysis,” NJ said as she took it from his hands to study it a bit further. “But I am pretty sure the materials are what were stolen from our supply room a few days ago. Plus the bomb was made in a style that we taught our more advanced agents in training.”

“That could only mean one thing,” Lizzy said as she walked towards them. “It was Kallista.”

“Yes, I agree,” Octaboona said as he mused out loud. “But because it is all from our agency, all evidence will point to the Purple Roses.”

“Just like the last bombing.” Thalia said morosely as she also joined them along with Mar. “We’re being set up.”

“The firemen and police are suspicious about us now.” Mar added, frustrated. “Our name and reputation are being dragged through the mud!”

Across the room Raven and Skyril talked with several firemen. In another corner Sam, Flame and Sarthacus were talking to the police who were also investigating. All seemed involved in intense conversations. It was going to be a long night.

“Fortunately no one was killed.” Hellboy reminded them all quietly. “We can be thankful of that.”

“Has anyone else found anything?” Lizzy asked as she looked around carefully, trying to memorize everything and miss nothing.

“I have not heard back from some of our people yet.” Hellboy said as he picked his way across the room back towards the doors. “Emerald and Lydia are interviewing staff and guests to see if they remembered anything. Aria, Noam and Adra are scoping the perimeter. Chan and Daniel are checking the surveillance tapes.”

“That’s all we can do for now, then.” NJ said as she followed the others out.

“Just be careful, everyone. We don’t know when or where our enemies will strike next.” Hellboy warned. “The attacks have been so random! It’s hard to know what to expect.”

Several nights later in the shadow of the warehouse four people stood, watching the horizon from a distance. Raising his binoculars to his eyes, Quick-hand Luke did a quick sweep across the sky then pushed the button of the remote control he held in his other hand.

“BOOM!” Kallista grinned with narrow eyes as an explosion resounded from afar. “Third one’s the charm!”

Snake-eyed Jeff cast a disdainful sneer her way before turning to Luke, his second right hand man.

“This was a good idea, Luke.” He said lowly, just enough for Luke to hear. “It would be best for all the guys if they think the idea was mine. You understand, right?”

“You got it.” Luke replied coolly as he lowered the binoculars slowly.

Out of the corner of her eye Kallista could see he was not happy. Silently he adjusted his tie while keeping his face like a mask. Out of habit Kallista reached out and loosened his tie again. As before he shot her an annoyed glance then biffed the hat off her head.

“Leave me alone, kid,” He muttered. “Why are you dressed like that, anyways?”

“I’m one of you now!” Kallista said brightly as she picked up the fallen fedora. “And my name is not kid! It’s Baby Faced Bobby!”

Quick-hand Luke rolled his eyes and turned away.

“Are you sure it’s really necessary to keep her with us?” The fourth man, Slippery Pete asked as he kept a leery eye on the baffle brained girl who was busy strutting about.

Snake-eyed Jeff said nothing but cast a questioning gaze to Quick-hand Luke.

“She is the only one who knows the way of the Purple Roses.” Luke replied tightly, finding himself once again defending his idea of bailing the dim witted girl out of jail. “Besides, she is the one who planted all three bombs. If it weren’t for her, we would not have gotten this far. Remember, our main goal is to create chaos and a diversion while setting up the Purple Roses so they can take the fall.”

“It’s good to have goals.” Baby Faced Bobby nodded, trying to look smart.

Shaking his head once again, Quick-hand Luke ignored her.

“We lost a shipment of guns because of them,” Jeff seethed as he remembered. “Not to mention a few clients.”

“Yeah, and I lost my puppies!” Baby Faced Bobby seethed in a low voice, her face dark and hand curled tightly into a fist. “I will never forgive them! NEVER!”

“That’s why this is necessary.” Quick-hand Luke explained while ignoring Kallista. “This time when we strike, we will take back what is ours and all the blame will be dumped on The Purple Roses Agency.”

“They won’t see us coming.”  Baby Faced Bobby stated firmly, a sly smile spreading across her face.

The following night proved to be a raucous affair as Snake-eyed Jeff and his gang celebrated at their usual hangout, The Blue Moon Nightclub. A thin veil of smoky haze lingered high in the air as glamorous people danced below. As the music played the entire structure reverberated with the sound of the bass. Sitting alone at the bar, Baby Faced Bobby was well into her fifth cup of egg nog. Shaking his head, the bartender gave her another glass full at the girl’s request, her speech slightly slurred. Uncertainly he raised his eyes and looked not to Snake-eyed Jeff, but to Quick-hand Luke. When the man caught his eyes, he glanced over to Baby Faced Bobby and assessed the situation from across the room. Nodding, he reassured the bartender.

“What do you say about scoping out our next target tonight?” He said in a low voice to his boss.

Snake-eyed Pete looked startled at the suggestion, his mind having been completely occupied with the gilded lady sitting to his right.

“Uh…sure,” He tried to focus on the matters at hand and not the alluring eyes of the beauty. “We better get moving then.”

“Someone go cut the girl off,” Quick-hand Luke spoke quietly to the several men near him.

“You mean, Baby Faced Bobby? She looks pretty wasted.” One goon asked uncertainly.

“Yeah, that’s her. But she always looks wasted.” The other one answered him as he looked on with distaste to the girl at the bar. “I guess I’ll be the one to do the deed since you two smucks can’t stomach the job.”

Rising reluctantly from his chair, Snake-eyed Jeff made his way to the door, followed by his cohorts.

Quick-hand Luke looked to Snake-eyed Jeff who started to walk down the block towards the business district. Joining them were his other men who had been keeping guard around the perimeter. Masking his face into his usual cool and calm expression Luke took his place on his boss’s right hand side. Not wanting to be left behind, Baby Faced Bobby scrambled after them, elbowing her way in between Luke and Pete.

Cool night air blew placidly all around them, but not so cold as to be freezing. For a bleak winter’s evening, it had been mild and peaceful. Baby Faced Bobby sniffed the air hungrily, smelling the delicious aroma from a nearby restaurant. Wistfully she wished they would stop for a decent meal but they moved on by with determined steps

Only a few people were on the sidewalks at that hour and quickly they got out of the way when they saw who was coming up to them. But that was what was normal for Snake-eyed Jeff and his gang.

Together they rounded the corner and stopped abruptly, just in front of the illustrious Julian Pembrook Bank. Faces froze in surprise as they stood before a group of Purple Roses agents. For a moment, everyone just stood there. Then as if on cue, all pulled out their weapons and pointed them at each other.

“Snake-eyed Jeff,” Hellboy spoke tightly, “What are you doing here?”

“I could ask the same of you, Agent.” Jeff sneered at him.

“We are responding to reports of suspicious activity in this area.” Raven told them smoothly, her gun unwavering as she held it trained on Slippery Pete.

“I am surprised at the company you now keep, Kallista.” Noam flung out as her eyes glittered in anger at her sister’s betrayal. “Or should I call you, Baby Faced Bobby?”

“We have heard of your recent….activities of late.” Daniel frowned at her.

Strutting forward Baby Faced Bobby flung her hands out dramatically as she walked in between the two sides.

“Why so surprised, my dear sisters and brothers?” She taunted them all. “They recognized me as a girl with many talents. I am with them now. What are you going to do? Shoot me?”

Sam and Daniel looked like they wanted to, but Lizzy reached over to gently but firmly lower their weapons without looking away from her adversaries.

“Nobody shoot.” She spoke with steal in her voice. “That means you too, Snake-eyed Jeff and your goons too!”

After a moment Snake-eyed Jeff nodded for his men to lower their weapons. Reluctantly they did so. When all the guns were lowered Hellboy spoke again.

“There have been a couple of bombings around the city lately. Do you have anything to do with it?” He questioned them.

“Us?” Snake-eyed Jeff wore an innocent expression. “Of course not.”

“Yeah, like you would give us an honest answer anyways.” Raven muttered just loud enough for them to hear.

“What did you say?” Slippery Pete snarled.

“You heard me, Peter.” Raven raised her eyebrow at him.

“My name is Slippery Pete!” he snarled at her. “Don’t call me Peter! No one calls me Peter and lives!”

“Oh, I thought it was Stinky Peter.” Raven yawned. “But I could care less. It’s a stupid name either way.”

“Your dead, girl!” He whipped up his gun back up again and aimed it at Raven.

A fist strong as rock struck him across the face and he fell backwards.

“Everyone just calm down. There is not going to be anyone shooting one another tonight.” Quick-hand Luke said placing himself by Baby Faced Bobby, in between the two sides.

But Slippery Pete just glared at Baby Faced Bobby who stood over him, barely able to keep her rage in check.

“Why did you stop me?” He sneered at her. “I knew it!  You are still with them!”

“Shut up you fool!” She kicked him hard in the side as she spoke through a clenched jaw, so low that only he could hear. “I just stopped you from murdering an agent who has connections to nearly every country in the world! There would have been no stopping them from throwing your rotten carcass into prison! I just saved your ass!”

“We are done here.” Hellboy nodded to them all as he and the others walked passed them. “But just a warning to you all; and especially to you Baby-faced Bobby. If we discover that you are behind these bombings, there isn’t any place you can’t hide where we won’t find you. You better pray it’s the devil who finds you first!”

Rigidly the gangsters stood still as the Purple Rose agents passed by, each side casting resentful distrustful glares at one another.

When the last of the Purple Rose agents rounded the corner just out of earshot, Snake-eyed Jeff muttered a curse and spat on the sidewalk. “Those bloody damn do-gooders! They are like leaches! Always there where you don’t need them!”

“We are going to have to get rid of them.” Baby Faced Bobby said darkly.

Startled Slippery Pete glanced at her but nodded at her idea. “We can always go back and kill them now?” He suggested.

“No.” Baby Faced Bobby spoke sharply, not taking her eyes from where her one time partners had gone. “If we do that now, then we will certainly be caught and all our plans will be ruined.”

“Then what do you suggest, Miss Know it all!” Snake-eyed Jeff asked her cockily, irritation laced in his words.

“We take them down, one by one.” She smiled in a way that made everyone with her shiver.

“And how do we do that?” Quick-hand Luke asked, new respect showing in his eyes.

“I will do it,” She answered him slowly as she silently formulated her plan. “I will do it alone and in a way that no link can be traced back to us. Just wait and see.”

“You have three days.” Snake-eyed Jeff nodded. “If you don’t deliver on your promises, you will be taken down along with your former associates.”

Baby Faced Bobby eyed him coldly but kept her tongue still and only nodded. “Agreed.”

Sliding her fedora lower over her eyes, she turned and walked off into the night, her shoulders hunched and hands in pockets.

“Follow her.” Snake-eyed Jeff commanded Slippery Pete.

Nodding he did so and like his name, he slipped into the night, eager for this assignment.

It all happened so fast for the Agency of the Purple Roses. No one ever had time to think or prepare.

It happened to Noam and Daniel in a blink of an eye. While strolling through a park and gazing into each other’s eyes, they were unprepared for what awaited them.

Noam glanced around suddenly, feeling eyes upon her other than her Daniel’s. Immediately her eyes zoomed onto Baby Faced Bobby who was leaning casually against a lamppost. Without warning Baby Faced Bobby rushed at them, a knife in her hands. Moving low, she went for Noam first, jabbing her cruelly in the belly. Shock, rage, and grief ran across Daniel’s face as he caught his beloved, lowering her gently to the ground. That was when Baby Faced Bobby struck again, this time she aimed for the back. The deed done, she callously left the bodies in the park, life blood flowing from the wounds forming a puddle around them.

It was outside a pub that she caught Dan, Lizzy, NJ, and Hellboy. In a rain of gun fire they were shot down. Never did they have the chance to defend themselves.

By this time, alarm and distress spread like wildfire among what was left of the agents. Dire warnings were issued and silent investigations started, even as funeral arrangements begun.

It was a dark time for the Purple Roses Agency. Whispers started about Baby Faced Bobby. It was rumored that she was the culprit behind the massacres.

Skyril sat back at her desk, a pile of papers before her. Already she was exhausted form the sudden flood of disaster that had swept over them. Across from her sat Alex and Raven. Both tried their best to assist her with the funeral arrangements. All of them wore barely concealed grief as they tried to deal with the situation at hand.

No one noticed the slight movement of the curtains till it was too late. Within moment, Skyril was slouched over dead, her eyes growing cold.

“Kallista…” was all Alex could whisper in horror before he too was cut down.

“It’s Baby Faced Bobby.” She smiled indifferently.

“How could you?” Raven asked with a broken voice as she hurled whatever she could towards her former fellow agent.

Easily Baby Faced Bobby dodged the flying projectile as she advanced towards her prey. Viciously taunting Raven, her eyes glittered dangerously as she moved closer. Hopping effortlessly over the desk she leapt in a flying tackle towards the other girl. But as nimble as ever Raven dashed away, running out into the hallway sounding the alarm as she did so. Muttering a curse for her one failure, Baby Faced Bobby fled the scene.

It was then she spotted the love of her life headed her way. With his head bowed in sorrow, Octaboona had not spotted the perpetrator yet, his mind lost in a cloud of memory as he walked the path of the garden, believing himself to be safe.

Baby Faced Bobby almost cracked then. But a movement behind her reminded her that she was still being followed and spied upon. Gritting her teeth, she did what she had to do.

“My love, I am sorry.” She whispered under her breath as she advanced upon him.

Hearing a noise he looked up then, dismay replacing the sorrow.

“Kallista?” He questioned uncertainly. “Why? Why did you kill my brother? Why do you slaughter your family?”

“Why not?” She answered as she wrapped her arms around him, briefly enjoying the moment. Then with determination she plunged the knife into him too, ceasing the words of magic from the Purple Poet forever.

Carefully she lowered his body to the ground but could not resist a tender kiss to his forehead. Leaving him behind she disappeared into the night.

“The deeds have been done.” She spoke coldly before the man in front of her a half hour later. “Don’t believe me? Ask Slippery Pete himself. He saw it all.”

Astonished but impressed at her skill Snake-eyed Jeff nodded, satisfied. He was about to say something but Baby Faced Bobby never gave him the chance.

“If you will excuse me, I have some funerals to attend too.” She stated as she whirled on him and left.

It was two days later that the mass funeral begin for the slain agents of the Purple Rose Agency. Guards kept watch around those who attended that day. But nothing would keep the survivors from paying their last respects to their fallen heroes; not even the threat of death or the constant downpour of rain.

Up on a hill, not far away stood Baby Faced Bobby. The fedora hid her eyes and shadows played across the rest of her features. She seemed to be whispering something, but Slippery Pete could not tell. And he was never sure if that was rain on her cheeks or tears.