Chapter 74:



“We- we can’t do that!” Frankie shouted over all the excited murmurs of the legion. Arsene Hatter peered at her through the eye holes of his stereotypical robber’s mask.

“If you’ve a critique of the plan, do speak. I like to hear from all my siblings in arms.”

“It’s… it’s not happening… you can’t just bomb a public ride! You’re gonna kill people!”

“No, no, no no no no no. As I’ve said, I do not fancy the idea of becoming a murderer, even if it meant bringing Tough Boys Comics right back into its glory days this instant. Worry not, we will first evacuate the entire ride.”

“And how do you plan on doing that?!”

“With… empty threats, no more. In fear, the guests will retreat.”

“You’ll threaten them?”

“It is a necessary evil. I assure you nobody will be harmed.”

Frankie blinked at her mad commander.

“What about the people on the ground or in nearby buildings? You collapse the ride, and they’ll get crushed! How are they gonna know to run away? The coasters above the skyscrapers run all over the damn place! You knock down just one of them, and the streets are gonna be stained red all the way down!”

“Egh… quite descriptive, are we? I hardly think I needed that. Just where does your mind come up with such an image?”

“I didn’t make that shit up…” Frankie shivered, feeling the attention placed on her by the whole group as she prepared to spill her guts for all to see. “I’ve seen it! I’ve seen what this kind of juvenile terrorism does to a park! I was there… I was there, you hear me? Berrytown! December 9th! The Dreadnought Girl, she- I’ll never forget that as long as I live! I won’t let you do the same, and I certainly won’t be the one to help you out!”

“If you take umbrage with the plan, we can adjust it. But if you decide on leaving, you won’t be getting the pay for the mission. Isn’t that right, Kyrie?” He glanced at his sidekick.

“Y-yes, Arsene sir.” The stern woman lacked her usual composure. “Frankie… we can work out a version of this story that makes everyone happy. We could really use your help.”

“Then you better start brainstorming… I ain’t fighting for a terrorist organization!”

“I offer you my upmost apology. It is true I was… perhaps, blinded by the allure of my goal being so close. You can relate, can’t you, Frankie? You seemed so shy before, yet you shot into action yesterday when your desires called for it. We’re both willing to go the extra mile when it comes to getting what we want. That’s just human nature. Let us improve this plan so that neither of us will have to abandon those dreams of ours, whatever yours may be. You need the money, don’t you?”

Frankie breathed, steadying her thoughts.

“Make a plan that doesn’t hurt anybody. That should be your- that should be our first priority… right?”

“Correct. I was wrong before. Here’s an idea- we have an entire squad set to sift through the area. Just like you said, the coaster runs through a large area, but we are strong, and we are many. I believe that with our resources, we would be more than able to evacuate everybody falling within the impact range of potential debris. The explosives team can be downsized, and we can make this our primary effort. We will still destroy the coaster, and cause untold havoc to the city. However- assuming everybody does their job, a duty you could be a part of- nobody has to get hurt. What say you, bleeding heart Frankie?”

The girl grit her teeth at his proposition, trying and failing to pull an answer out of herself.

Do I go with it?

I can’t stand for anyone who’d pull the same shit Action did, can I? It doesn’t matter what his motives are, this is still a heinous crime.

Should I pull out now and just pocket the money I’ve already earned? What then? Do I try and warn park security, or…?

No. I can’t do this. This is wrong. I can’t become her. I can’t bring myself to that bitch’s level. I can’t do it.

“Forget your trauma, Frankie.”

She lifted her panicked head from her hands to look at the woman speaking to her. Unlike her, she was strong, stoic, and calm. Kyrie Black looked at her plainly, without deception- her eyes bore into her with only the strength of her devoted conviction to her and Hatter’s dream.

“If you want your money, you’ll forget your trauma for today, and work hard. That’s the only way you’ll get anything out of this. Back down, and that’s it. You’ve failed. You won’t earn a thing other than the newfound trauma of being asked to do this in the first place. Is that a future you want, Frankie?”

It didn’t make her feel any better that it wasn’t.

“I can’t forget… the things that happened to me and my sister.”

“Then ignore them. If you can fight in spite of their existence, it won’t matter.”

“What’s wrong with you?”

“Every day I use money left to me by a family that once abused me. Those people who pretended like they loved me still believe that to be the truth. All I could do was escape through cheap graphic novels… and even now, that’s what I’m fighting for. I will avenge myself, and I won’t forget them, either. But I use that money anyway. I don’t worry about where it came from. Because that’s what it’s going to take to reach my dream.” Kyrie’s eyes were as fiery as they were ice cold. “Will you do what it takes to reach your dream, Frankie?”

She wanted to stomp her foot down. Looking at her sad blue flip-flops, her fists tightened. This choice wouldn’t be made for her by anyone else, and it wouldn’t get one she loved either way.

But no matter what, she had to reach her dream.

“I’ll do it.” She said, tears in her eyes. “Just put me on the evacuation team.”

Steward McOy