Description: The time is now. Jezebel finally has the chance to join Shadaloo, and Cracker Jack leads the force to collect up the actress for her relocation to Thailand. Jezebel is a princess, she found her white knight; and soon, she will see what it exactly means to make a deal with a well-spoken devil.
When Jezebel places the call, she merely hears a computer muffled voice. It only says, 'Welcome to the fold, Jezebel. Tomorrow, you shall be in a new world. Sleep well.' And then, it hangs up, and only rings if called again.
At two AM that night, a black van followed by a black sedan pull into the hospital parking lot, with generic out of state plates from the other side of the country (both plates registered to dead men). The van drives right up to the hospital's receptionist center, now closed, as the sedan moves into a waiting position in automatic weapons range of the street. They are clearly in closely coordinated contact with each other.
The back doors of the van open, and four men climb out. Their features are obscured by black military fatigues, and black ski masks cover their faces. Each of them wear bandoliers with equipment, and carry silenced submachine guns. As they approach the hospital, the power suddenly cuts, the lights in the entire hospital going dead. The three men pull on nightvision goggles, and kick in the glass doors leading to the visitor's area of the hospital, since it's the closest to the sleeping area. They step through and into the hospital, weapons raised, their combat boots crunching over broken glass.
Jezebel could not sleep well that night.
She was hyper, she was excited, she was afraid, and she was... nervous. A flood of emotions was washing over her. This was just like when she got her gig on Disney. It was... it was a whole new world, a whole new future. She was under her covers, tossing and turning. Her bags were packed. She was... she was ready for her friends to come pick her up. Maybe Cracker Jack would be coming in on a white horse. She was a little princess, waiting for her prince. As she lays there, her heart racing, she can't help put smile.
As the operatives enter, the silent alarms run out.
The night watch are roused up from their 2 AM poker game. Generally, the security system was in place to keep the patients in, not keep people out. "Looks like the front door's been broken through." One of the three guards mutters, rubbing his eyes as he goes to the security cameras. "One of the hysterics probably freaked out again. I really hope we don't have to do suicide service toni-"
"What the hell?"
As they stare into the screen, one of the security guards was already trying to call the real cops. The other two, arming themselves with tasers... stare at the door, and back to the security screen. The oldest guard turns to the other. "Ed, you are seeing rifles on those guys?" Ed nods. The oldest guard goes to the does, locking and barring it. "Screw this."
"They don't pay us enough to get killed by terrorists."
The four man operations team moves quickly and swiftly through the hospital, having acquired maps from a data hack of the city planning office earlier that day. As they reach the locked door leading to the floor where Jezebel is being held, two of them raise their submachine guns at the door, while the other two place small amounts of plastic explosive on the door's four corners. One steps aside holding the switch, while the other sticks remote detonators in each bit of white putty. The four men backpedal, then the switch is flicked. The distinct *BOOM* rocks the entire hospital, the door flying off its hinges in a cloud of smoke.
The four men sweep into the hospital as the night nurse flees down the hall, moving to Jezebel's room. One of them opens the door, and shines a flashlight inside. "Jezebel Fairblesse? We are your evacuation team. Come with us. Quickly." The voice is deep, coarse, and has a Dutch-African accent. Probably a veteran of post-colonial bush wars, recruited to Shadaloo by helping him avoid some horrible fate on the mother continent.
This was going to be a smooth extraction.
The building security did not even attempt to come out. As the exterior door to the hallway explodes, Jezebel sits up, dressed in her sweatpants and a sweatshirt, with a jogging jacket. Normally, a paramilitary extraction might terrify her. But this was all part of the story. She was about to be saved from her boring, mundane, and troubled life. She rolls out of the bed, and swiftly pulls the luggage container out from under the bed. The hallway soon is filled with screams and blubbering, as night nurse and patient alike panic at what was happening. By the time the door opens, and the flashlight was shined on her, she was standing there, a smile on her face, her eyes bright, holding her bags.
"I am ready!"
And she steps forward, to join her companions.
Outside, the distant cry of police sirens wail.
One man advances forward, with two flanking Jezebel and the man with the Boer accent trailing her, forming a diamond of protection around her. Jezebel may hear a quiet mutter followed by an electronic sound as the man in the lead of the team speaks into a throat mic.
The black sedan cruises around to drive around the parking lot carefully, with its lights off. As the extraction team leads Jezebel outside, the leader (this one with a heavy El Salvador accent) gestures at the sedan and says, "That's your ride, Spangles. Giddyup! Haha!" It's clear he's grinning beneath the mask. The four men climb into the van and the van cruises out of the parking lot, as the passenger door of the sedan opens. Inside is Cracker Jack, wearing a black and white leisure suit in contrast to his usual blend of colors and no hat. He grins and waves as he waits in front of the hospital.
This was the greatest thing in Jezebel's life.
Here she was, escorted by her white knights of Shadaloo, to wisk her away to her brand new life. She strides through the hallway of her former prison, and it was a prison. Every step comes with a smile, and she glances around at her fellow patients. She was smiling, smiling like she once smiled as Lightning Spangles. This wasn't a mask now, though. It was her, pure Jezebel, pure joy.
This was her happiness.
As she reaches the outside, she holds her bag before her. The sedan pulls in front of her, and there, waiting for her in the classiest outfit, was Jack. Tears form in the middle age woman's eyes, as she is invited into what was her carriage. She had been a Cinderella once before.
And she was to be one again.
She rushes to the back, and throws the bags in the back trunk. And just as quickly, she returns to the passenger door, and nearly jumps in. Almost instinctively, she buckles up. She looks at the seatbelt, and then laughs a bit. "We... I guess its kind of tacky to buckle up, isn't it." She laughs again, as she shuts the door. The police sirens grow louder and louder, but Jezebel wasn't afraid. She was happy. This was the best moment of her life.
"Lets.... lets ride."
"I'd recommend you buckle that belt," Jack says, hearing the sirens and looking out the window as he pulls along after the van. He pulls out of the parking lot after the rapidly accelerating van, following it way too closely as his arms and legs work the car's standard transmission and supercharged engine. "Ever run from the cops?" he says with a grin, eyes flicking towards her. The van pulls right, and then Jack stomps the accelerator, blasting out into a red light and swerving to the left at way past the turning speed. The back of the car drifts right as he pulls the car back into a lane, cutting off someone that skids to a halt while nearly hitting him and lays onto the horn. He relaxes after the turn is complete, the sirens dying in the distance as he cruises towards the edge of the city through the suburbs, having memorized the route. "We're taking you to a private airport we use here, and then we're both getting on a cargo plane. This car is the fanciest thing you'll see for a while. We need to get your edge back, Jez."
Escape the police?
"I've done it in the movies! That's not like the real thing, but this is the real thing..." She begins to giggle hysterically. "This is still... this is incredible. Jack, thank you. Thank you so much. You've saved my life. This is..." She keeps giggling, the adrenaline surging through her. "I mean, Thailand. One night in Bangkok, right? And the world's your oyster?" She looks out the window, pulling the bangs of her hair from in front of her eyes. Her eyes were bloodshot; its clear she didn't get any sleep. But why would she need sleep. She fantasizes about her new life, when a thought crosses her mind. "Hey, Jack?"
"Are you going to be my boss there, Jack?"
"I'm going to be your drill instructor," Jack explains as he relaxes, rolling his shoulders as he gets the nervous energy of the completed operation out of his system. "Our supreme leader is a man known as Lord Vega. He's one of the best martial artists in the world, to the point that he possesses control over the minds of others. We all follow him for personal reasons. Myself, I'm a nihilist and I'm fine with doing light mercenary work per diem. A lot of them are like you, though, Jez. They were just on their last leg and needed a place to go." He clears his throat. "As for what Lord Vega wants, well..." He pauses.
Jezebel slowly begins to realize how deep she has gotten into.
Lord Vega. Images flash before her. The... the greatest evil in the world. According to popular reputation. She realized that... that maybe she... she was going to be doing some bad things, for bad people. She didn't know how she felt about that. It wasn't bad. It wasn't good. It just... was. When Jack announces what exactly that Jezebel's boss was doing. Another nervous giggle comes out.
"Well, would you believe Michael Eisner said the same thing when I started working for Disney?"
"Shadaloo pays better," Jack shares. "Your paygrade is determined by your martial arts abilities. Guys like Bison, he's considered a 'Lord of Shadow'. That guy's killed an elephant with a single punch. I'm considered an 'elite', because of my fighting abilities. That'll probably be your rank as well, since we're about even in ability, give or take. Those guys that busted you out? Those are the 'regulars'. And then there's the support staff, our 'specialists'. The regulars and support staff don't make as much money, but they are guaranteed constant support, even while not working. The elites and higher are paid per mission, as opposed to being on standby in case they're needed. You'll get missions appropriate for your skills. As you build skills, you'll get more interesting missions. But if you want to slack off, there's less financial reward." Jack turns into the airport, and parks in a small gravel lot, the sound of stone grinding beneath tires audible. He cuts the engine. "C'mon." He steps out of the car, leaving it unlocked with the keys sitting on the seat.
Wow, so just like Disney.
Jezebel was actually very comfortable with this structure. Instead of 'draw,' it was martial art ability, mixed with your actual results. You slack off, you get less money. Jezebel was just coasting through the process of hiring, as he gets out of the car. "What's the medical like? Are you free to take vacations? I know these are little things." She keeps up the nervous laughter, as she trips a bit on her feet as she follows Jack.
"What are the perks?"
"The medical is equivalent to a first world military like America or Britain. We have little body shops set up in safehouses near our operations areas, or hospitals in bases, with plenty of skilled doctors. The, uh, bedside manner, though, not great." Jack walks through the airport, offering a technician a nod. The technician's eyes have a healthy bit of respect for Jack, and just a little fear, although the look towards Jezebel is accompanied by a skeptical squint, all the fear and respect suddenly vanishing and being replaced by a challenge. She can guess the culture immediately.
"You get to develop yourself as a fighter, learn new skills, there's the adventure, the travel, the power, the glory...And who knows." He shrugs as he moves towards the runway, where the cargo plane waits, lights blinking on and off on it. "If Vega does manage to do what he says he can, maybe we'll all be parts of his regime some day." Jack's a little skeptical, but he doesn't want to badmouth the propaganda around so many open ears. Eyes follow Jack and Jezebel, along with the occasional shuffling off feet off in the darkness. Somewhere, there's a brief bark of a Doberman.
She actually backs down a bit when the technician stares back.
The culture was cutthroat, worse than even Disney. She... she was hoping everyone was nice like Jack. Jezebel didn't have the instincts of a thug, she didn't have the instincts to muscle through. She was a bit of a doormat in those environments; she remembered the haze of Hong Kong all too well. She keeps close to Jack now, wary that... that maybe somebody wouldn't be nice like the people so far. She tries to hide that fear.
"Don't worry, Jack. You've convinced me of something."
She puts her hands on Jack's. "You've convinced me that I need to be a fighter. That my worth, is in how I fight. I am going to be the greatest Tae Kwon Do fighter of... of our organization." She didn't want to think about that too much. "And if I am part of his regime..."
"Could I rule Texas, you think?"
Jack tenses a little, although not in revulsion, as Jezebel touches him. He's honestly just unaccustomed to intimacy, which is a pretty clean read as he gets slightly clammy. "Good, Jez. You can go through the twelve steps and completely destroy your dignity to get a power over the booze and pills and vain self-promotion, or you can get through it with willpower." He clears his throat again, pulling at his collar, before he gets up into the cargo plane, the hold mostly empty, aside from cots lining either side of the hold as sitting space, and a small, open crate with energy bars and bottled water inside. "Both ways are hard. The twelve steps requires a great amount of humility, introspection, and work. This way requires you to summon every bad experience you've ever been through, and to make it a part of you forever. But those bad experiences, Jez, won't own you." He takes a seat on a cot and reaches into his sock. "Just keep in mind, through all of this, Faiblesse, that you survived all those things, and that they never beat you. Otherwise?" The cargo hold begins closing.
"You'd be dead." His hand emerges from his sock, holding a joint. He slips it into his mouth and procures a lighter from his pocket, lighting the tip and inhaling.
Jezebel could sense his feelings.
She releases his hands, as he feels the clammy feelings. And he gives... he gives the 12 steps she remembers. He was right. She could fall into the pit again. Just like with acting. Or she could rebuild herself using resolve, using willpower. She was free without Lightning Spangles. But it was dangerously clear just how weak her impulses could be. If she fails? She enters the plane after Jack, and takes her sit across from him. She sits there... and yawns. She could die if she fail. She could die at any point now. A little giggles comes from her, as she lays on the cot.
"Well, we can pray for small miracles, right?"
The hold shuts with a heavy wheeze and whine of hydraulics and pressurization, before the engines rumble alive. After a few minutes, the plane starts moving, while Jack stares at Jezebel in the shadows, lit up by the hollow lights of the hold above, and the burning orange-red cherry on the tip of his joint that he smokes. "I don't believe in God, Jezebel. If God was real, he wouldn't play favorites with his children, especially the ones that are literally children." He exhales a cloud of smoke that drifts up above him as the plane catches and rumbles sharply, taking off from the airport and rising.
"God's not real at all, Jezebel. But the Devil?" He coughs faintly, relaxing. "You'll see in Thailand. It's a country with two exports. Rice, and heroin. If you grow rice, you make very little money, and have to sweat. If you make heroin, you could go to the most overcrowded prison in the world, and the guards all have automatic weapons."
"The Devil's real, Jezebel. You just don't remember him very clearly." There's a hollow, melodic sound to his voice, as he's stoned. "But you will. Get some sleep, Jez." He inhales again. "Sweet dreams."
Jezebel sighs, laying down. This was... this was going to be a transformation. The two exports, rice and herion. She... still didn't want to be a monster. She still had hopes. She still had dreams. She didn't want to see the devil. She didn't remember. But in her heart, she felt like soon enough, she would have everything collapse. There her last words, as the drone of the plane lulls her to a well-deserved sleep.
"I can still believe in make believe."
"Mmm." Jack says nothing else, not challenging her further. He puts his joint out after it's done, and tucks the roach between his money clip and a few American greenbacks, sliding it back into his pocket. He slumps in bed, staring up at the yellowish lights, stoned and euphoric. But, like always before he sleeps, he feels that yawning emptiness in his soul that he's felt since the first Christmas he could remember. Eventually, he takes his shoes off and turns to face the wall, with his back to Jezebel, drifting off to a stoned sleep, with haunting dreams of blood and being hunted.
Log created on 16:49:04 12/20/2015 by Jezebel, and last modified on 20:49:41 12/20/2015.