Avalanche – Snippet 45
Sera’s wings flared, and so did her fires. Now all of the agents did draw weapons, though they were very careful to not point them at either John or Sera. “I do not answer to you,” she said, flatly.
“And there’s the problem we’ve been talking about! Who do either of you answer to? When metahumans are as powerful as the two of you are, they’re a power unto themselves. What’s to stop either of you from selling to the highest bidder, or trying to set up your own kingdoms, or just rampaging wantonly if you have a bad day? If you’re not with us, under government control, there’s no reason to think that you couldn’t be against us any day.” That was the police chief. He was so agitated that it looked like his bushy mustache was going to fly off of his face as he was talking.
“Or…we could leave,” said Sera, between clenched teeth. “And allow you to continue to battle the Thulians without us. I am certain that there are other nations that would be more respectful and grateful for our aid.” Now her eyes were blazing, and it would have taken a blind man not to see it.
None of the feds or locals liked the sound of that. All of them started talking at once, about arrests, detention, questioning, and so forth. John looked at Sera; their joint patience had just run out. John was just about to stand up—and damn the consequences—when he heard a voice in his ear.
“And reap the whirlwind in three…two…one…” The doors to the service entrance behind the “tribunal” flew open with such force that they cracked the wall panels and their handles lodged in the plasterboard. In the doorway stood Bella, Bull–Bull must have been the one that shoved open the doors–Spin Doctor and Mamona. They were all fully encased in Bull’s forcefield. Behind them, in the shocked silence that had filled the room, was the sound of many, many people retching in agony, vomiting so hard they were close to throwing up their toenails.
A moment later, snapping out of their daze, every agent in the room, including Gibson, aimed their weapons at the new arrivals, and started shouting orders; to stand down, to put their weapons away, and so forth.
And in the next moment, it was the agents in the room who were bending over, vomiting like the ones in the hallway. Agent Gibson was the only one still feebly trying to aim his weapon…until he was hit with a redoubled wave of nausea.
“Shut. The fuck. Up,” said Bella, through gritted teeth. “Let ’em loose, Mamona. I don’t want to be knee-deep in puke. By the way, good job. The training seems to be working.”
Mamona grinned, and the agents stopped vomiting. But they were in no way in good shape. The entire room was quickly filling with the stink of several emptied stomachs. All of the agents looked shaky and pale.
“The Commissar of the CCCP, callsign Red Saviour II, civilian name Natalya Shostakovaya, would like to know on what grounds you are detaining two of her comrades. Who, might I add, have diplomatic protections under the International Mutual Metahuman Aid Act of 1967. Are you really jonesing that hard for international war provocations with Russia while we’re already fighting with the Thulians?” Bella smiled thinly into the silence. “But that is not really what brought me here.”
“Ms. Parker, this is highly irregular! This is a closed hearing!” The ADA had half-risen in his seat; he looked torn between righteous indignation and bolting for the nearest exit.
“I said, shut the fuck up,” Bella repeated. “Unless your colleagues here would really like to see the last 25 or so years of unredacted documents about the illegal detention, torture, murder of and experimentation on metahumans and humans, including minor children, in the NSA black program known colloquially as ‘The Program’ dumped on every media outlet in the world in the next ten minutes.”
John noticed that the CIA rep visibly stiffened at the mention of the Program, right before his eyes went deadly cold. Gotcha, asshole. Definitely got to have Vickie look up what rock that bastard crawled out from under.
“Oh, and just to prove I’m not bluffing…” One elegant eyebrow rose “…The head of research for The Program is one Joseph Garvey, PhD, alphabet-soup. And very recently ECHO took custody of twenty three minor children from just one Program facility in the Florida Everglades after it was attacked by Thulians. The Thulians also evidently know about your little torture-fest-sites. You might ponder that for a moment as well.” Guess Vix filled Bella in, at least partially, on what went down in Florida. Might have to see about that, for Zach’s sake if nothing else.
The silence now contained a strong component of “stunned disbelief.” Bella examined her fingernails critically. “The testimony of these minor children is probably not something you want televised. But of course, that is not all.” She gestured to Spin Doctor, who took one small step forward, frowning in a “Father is Displeased with your Behavior” way.
“I suspect that you also would not care to have the fact televised that you have taken two prominent heroes of the Invasion, people who have saved countless lives, and illegally detained them,” said Spin Doctor, who was obviously enjoying his role. “And that leaves aside the fact that one of them, The Seraphym, is a Peruvian National. I happen to have copies of her papers right here.” He waved them at about shoulder-height. “And of course, by dint of their marriage, that makes John Murdock a Peruvian National as well, should he care to accept that status.” Spin consulted his notes. “Also interesting to the media would be the fact that you have used legislation that has not yet been enacted as law, is currently only just up before a House committee, is being protested by the ACLU, ECHO, and the Southern Poverty Law Center and will certainly be deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, as justification for detaining these two members of the CCCP.”
“And,” Bella appended smoothly, “These entire proceedings have been recorded from the moment you detained Mr. and Mrs. Murdock. From the illegal seizure and detention itself, to the intimidations and threats you met them with in this…ballroom.” Her mouth quirked briefly. “Really? A ballroom? If you were truly that serious about how threatening these two are, why did you choose a ballroom, in a public hotel, in downtown Atlanta, to interrogate them in? Seraphym and Murdock have taken down a Thulian dragon-ship. Just the two of them. If you had pissed them off to the point of no return, what do you think they could have done to downtown Atlanta? The only possible conclusion is that you knew very well that if they felt threatened and left, the worst that would happen would be some scorched carpet and a couple holes in some walls. Therefore all this concern about how dangerous they are is as phony as a three dollar bill.”
“This has been recorded, surreptitiously, this entire time?” The ADA’s mouth worked for a few moments before he finally started speaking again. “I, um, I’m sure that that, erm, violates wiretapping statutes—”
“Really? Not in this state,” Spin Doctor said flatly. “As you should be aware, Mister Assistant District Attorney, since you’ve taken advantage of that fact for your own cases. For recording to be legal in Georgia, only one party has to be aware that recordings are being made. But you’re welcome to try to push that one through. It will, of course, be long after the time that we’ve dumped those recordings on worldwide media sites.”
“We’ll be leaving now,” Bella said, drawing herself up to her full height. “John Murdock and the Seraphym will be leaving with us. ECHO will still be coordinating and working with the military and the US Government–along with all other world ally governments–to effectively combat and defend against the Thulians. I believe Commissar Red Saviour will also continue in that capacity with the CCCP, either independently or as an adjunct through ECHO, although you should be aware she has already lodged diplomatic protests against you. All of you. Individually, by name. That’ll look just peachy on your records.” She smiled thinly, then lost the smile. “But this ends. Now. Pull a trick like this against any other meta, and ECHO will relocate to Lima, and leave you to twist in the wind.” She gestured to John and Sera, and Bulwark briefly dropped the shield around them all. “Let’s get you two back to CCCP before the Commissar has an aneurism.”
John and Sera both stood up from their seats, joined the group with Bella, and Bull put the shield back up–a pointed reminder that no one with Bella trusted anyone here. They all began walking towards the room’s exit. “Thanks for the steak,” John said over his shoulder. He caught a glimpse of Agent Gibson in the corner of his eye; the man had recovered somewhat, and there was a burning hatred in his eyes. He wouldn’t forget the couple…and guys like that never let grudges go unanswered. So be it. If he decides to make an issue out of this little encounter, it’ll be the worst goddamned mistake of his life.