Music: The Imperial March (Darth Vader’s Theme)
From: Star Wars
Composer: John Williams
Warnings: language warning, blasphemy warning (we-ell, really it’s a work of fiction, so not really), lack of editing warning.
Universe: Apocalypse ‘verse (Mal POV)
There’s no trace of fear to her as she shoots us a grin and climbs from the truck. She hesitates just long enough to take off her jacket and throw it beside me. There’s a joke there, glinting in her gaze, but she’s good enough to keep it to herself. Instead, she stretches, closing her eyes and smiling a soft, almost childlike smile so out of place with the reality of what’s going on here.
Maybe she’s just glad to be out of a tin can that reeks of man-sweat and dried blood. Not like there’s much time for detailing work in a warzone.
Her eyes flutter open, her gaze shifting around the groups like she’s saying goodbye without saying a word. The other trucks? They’re here to liberate the hostages. We’re here to give the angels something else to be focused on. Chances are high none of us are driving back outside of body bags.
‘Be safe.’ It’s a command for the entire group, but the weight of her gaze constricts my chest.
‘You too.’ She nods, and the playful smile drops away as she lies. She doesn’t bother trying to quietly close the door, simply slams it shut and spins with a dancer’s grace to start walking up the stadium stairs. There’s no such thing as sneaking up on angels waiting on your arrival, after all. Why bother trying?
There isn’t a single thing alright in watching her throw open the stadium doors like she’s completely at her ease. Part angel or not, she’s far too young, too inexperienced, to be walking into an obvious trap to buy us time. But here we are. Stupid damn angels.
Bailey hacked the stadium feeds before we left, and the cameras follow her as she walks through the labyrinth of corridors and out towards the field. There’s static from her comm, grating and loud, before her soft, too amused for her own good voice fills the cab of the truck.
‘Wanna see a magic trick, kids?’ Her tone promises a world of ridiculousness to anyone stupid enough to say ‘yes’. I close my eyes, offer a prayer to her wayward father to show up and control his far more wayward child. It doesn’t work.
‘Only if it’s all of us surviving this shit.’ The sound of a softly blown raspberry, and a click of her fingers done just so we can hear that she’s been stupid enough to do something. Of course she has.
‘Don’t-‘ the request dies away at the sound of The Imperial March echoing from every loud speaker in the stadium, so loud that we don’t need her comms to hear it. Of course she’d take a wander to her death blaring Darth Vader’s freakin’ theme. It’s just that kind of day.
My gaze shifts to the vid, to her matching her strides to the beats, her eyes moving to the cameras just long enough to wink at us. Idiot.
The rest of the team are laughing. It’s hard to hear over the chaos of the music, but the sound stops my rant before it starts. Kid has a reason for every damn thing she does, and I don’t have it in me to yell at a dead girl walking for easing the tension for the dead humans walking.
We’re all probably gonna die today, why the hell shouldn’t we die laughing?
‘We’re gonna lose the main vid feed when she reaches the field. Too much static for traditional cameras. Readying the drones.’ Bailey’s voice is loud in my ear piece. He’s huffing with amusement, struggling to keep professional as Mya conjures a black cape that billows behind her as she walks, and pauses to spin, adopting a ballerina’s pose for a few seconds longer than safe or polite before calmly getting back to her march.
Well, at least she’s definitely distracting them. Keeping them guessing too, no doubt. I almost wish I could see Michael’s reaction to her lack of fear, her almost cruel disinterest in his plans. He’ll be pissed, certainly. Then again, I’d rather not know in advance how painful her death is going to be. It’s far too good an indicator of how much screaming we’ll be doing in our final moments.
That? Not a thought I want to linger long with.
‘Thanks, Bailey. Good work.’ He mumbles something, awkward like he’s not used to the praise, and I promise myself if I get out of here alive, I’m getting better at telling people they’re doing good work. These people signed on for a suicide mission. The least I can do is make sure they know their efforts are appreciated, even when the stakes aren’t high.
Especially then, perhaps.
I hit the comms, alert the rest of the team. ‘Heading to drone footage soon. Start getting your kit prepped. Once they’re distracted, we go in. Bravo teams, get ready to deploy. Once we’re in motion, Bravo Leader is in charge. Get in, get the people, get gone. Don’t risk their lives for our dead. That’s an order.’
A chorus of ‘yes, Sir’ from a peanut gallery all half focused on Mya’s Imperial March efforts. She’s conjured a Darth Vader mask, is reciting Hamlet as she holds the mask like a skull, every movement flamboyant as hell. The group falls to laughter. It’s hard not to remind her to pay attention.
Her father’s been teaching her to fight since she was a kid. She knows. And if I’m honest, I don’t doubt she’s more focused on the world around her than she seems. Playing the fool is a damn good con if you can pull it off. Mya? She can pull it off. If we’re all damn lucky, it might even be enough.
The doors she’s chosen aren’t close to the field, but that’s kinda the point. The longer it takes her to get to the meeting point, the more on edge the angels are, and the more focused they get on her. Hopefully. Maybe. The doors slam open seconds before she reaches them, a pointless show of power that’ll no doubt be setting Michael’s angelic teeth on edge. He’s never been a fan of wasting energy on useless gestures. To someone so focused on military efficiency, she must be an agony.
Only Mya would troll an archangel who’ll soon be directly responsible for deciding her fate.
Bailey, who has spent more than enough time with Michael to know just how much she’ll be irritating him, sniggers as he starts the drones flying. Mya walks forward, graceful as a cat preparing to attack, glancing with disinterest at the battalion of angels watching her coldly. She’s a damn good actress if you don’t know her tells. She strides down the stairs, leaping onto the balcony railing almost absently. Her voice, suddenly soft and sad in the ear pieces, stops the laughter dead.
‘There are hostages in the dug outs. Not many, so the rest are elsewhere. Good luck.’ She shatters the comm device, making sure it can’t be used to hear our communications if, when, she’s taken. The third drone starts its audio feed.
‘Good morning, Angel City.’ Her voice booms outwards, and not a single angel looks impressed with her sarcasm. ‘Oh Uncle Mike! Where are you, Mikey?’ she singsongs the words, dragging them out in a way that’ll drive Michael insane. I shouldn’t have let her watch Frozen with the kids; she unlatches the cloak, and it’s lost on a breeze only she can feel, swirling and vanishing into nothingness, her hair glinting silver blonde for a moment before falling back to its natural colour. And then, sudden and unsettling, her voice becomes devoid of it’s amusement. ‘Come out and play, you fucking coward.’ She steps calmly from the edge, hurtles downwards and nails a superhero landing worthy of Wonder Woman, her expression utterly calm.
‘You know what I think, Uncle? I think you’ve lost your way.’ With every word, she moves towards the field, not bothering to rush her steps, her voice echoing around the stillness of the stadium. ‘Your Father told you to protect the humans, and yet here you are, happy to butcher them for your own amusement. You’re no better than Lucifer, you know. Both so busy trying to be right you’ve forsaken your Father’s final wish for you. No wonder He left. How shameful to raise such utter disappointments.’
‘Enough!’ Michael strides forward, sword bloody. Angels? They bleed blood and grace, a metallic red that glints rainbows in the right light. There’s not a hint of grace on the blood of his sword. Her eyes take in the blood, her calm demeanor suddenly rabid.
‘Oh, I’m nowhere near finished, you heretic. You disobey the very word of God Himself, and claim yourself as His worthy heir- as His right hand. You and I, though, we know the truth, Michael. You’re not acting on His orders, you’re acting from your own pride. Your Father would be ashamed of you, boy.’
Bailey whistles lowly. ‘Well, she sure knows how to get a guy’s attention and keep it.’ She’s dragging it out, making sure her Uncle’s focus is entirely on her as she walks calmly towards the field.
‘You dare speak of the word of God? You who know nothing of His word? I’ll rip your tongue from your mouth!’ Her grin is a violent baring of teeth, her laughter the sort of cold and cruel I’d never thought her capable of. And if a shiver works its way down my spine, I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in the instinctive rush of fear.
‘I was raised by Gabriel, you foolish brat. I was raised on the word of God himself by God’s own messenger. Do you still believe I don’t know what I’m talking about? God’s last word, and hey, the rest of you overgrown feather dusters might want to listen up here: His last word, Michael, what was it?’
Michael falters, refuses to answer. Her violent expression shifts to a cold, deadly amusement. Love them as you love Me. Protect them as you protect Me. Serve their interests as if they were My own. The word of God, going utterly ignored by his own son. Tsk, tsk, tsk.’
Michael roars ‘kill the heretic’ into the awkward silence that follows her pronouncement, and the angels move as one, their shock lost in their battle training. She throws herself into the fight like an avenging goddess, blades drawn and in constant motion. She kills like a dancer, all twists and turns and movement like water. It’s hard to keep an eye on what’s happening around her, to wait until the angels are good and distracted before we start to drive to the closer entrances, ready to start the attack.
It’s gonna be a hell of a day. But at least, with her focus on the fighting, the music dies away.