Humans are evolving. People born with a split in their genetic code, SGCs for short, are gifted with fantastic and sometimes terrible powers. The Byonix is a special task force assigned to gather these burgeoning SGCs to either train them or contain them.
This is what they do in their time off.
Byonix – Lunch Date
One by one Raven’s bones slipped back into place with a sickening CLICK or POP! Nerves, tendons and muscles reattached themselves to each other as the open wounds healed themselves. Raven fully returned to the land of the living when her body convulsed and her lungs took in a deep desperate breath. She also scared the attending emergency first responder nearly to death.
“Holy shit! How are you alive?” he asked falling backward over himself.
That was a good question. One Raven pondered for a second, her mind groggy in rebirth. She passed through a mental checklist, more out of instinct than habit. Two arms, solid torso. Both eyes work, ears too. She sat up putting a hand to her aching head. If that was all Raven had to worry about she could deal.
“Wait, you shouldn’t stand up,” the first responder said as Raven pushed herself up off the ground. He was still trying to grapple with the impossible thing he’d just witnessed. By his reaction you’d think he’d never seen a woman be shot multiple times and fall out of ten story window and break several bones as a result of hitting the ground.
Raven considered it for a second. Maybe that he’d seen. Maybe it was her body knitting itself back together that was new. One of the advantages of being an undead avenging angel? You can take a lot of punishment and come back to dish out twice as much.
The first responder was still watching her with disbelieving eyes. “What are you?”
Raven smiled bitterly.
“I am the protector of lost souls. So long as they die with unfinished business, I live on doing what I do to right wrongs.” She found the Walter P99 on the ground a few feet from where she’d landed and checked the half empty clip. “If you’ll excuse me, I have to go to work.”
One Hour Earlier
Raven sat a table near the back of the restaurant. Her position alongside the wall of windows gave her a view of the sun setting over city outside, the main entrance, and everything in between the sweep of her vision. This left her back vulnerable and it made her fidgety. Her husband Darren had chosen Maison Blanche, an upscale French Restaurant near the top floor of the Ryobi Building.
Looking around the dining room Raven felt conspicuously under dressed. Everyone else was dressed in formal attire, the men in tailored suits, the women in a variety of cocktail dresses. Raven wore a pair of black slacks and white camisole under a black blazer. She’d drawn a few stares when she first arrived but she couldn’t be sure it was her clothes or the fact that the ensemble was paired with her pale complexion and her shock black hair.
Raven had shrugged the stares off at first. She had dressed for comfort and ease of movement, not fashion after all. But now that Scarlet was fifteen minutes late and she was sitting alone, the furtive glances started again. Raven sighed returning her attention to the city outside.
“Sorry I’m late,” a soft smokey voice interrupted Raven’s musings.
Scarlet was two steps behind the host holding out her seat. Raven’s mouth parted slightly in surprise. Scarlet was wearing a coal grey dress with a split up to her knee that fit her form flawlessly. Shimmering threads interwoven in the fabric caught the light as she moved. Scarlet seemed to sparkle. Add the effect to her red hair pulled back into a ponytail and the green mascara that complemented her emerald eyes, Scarlet looked very much like a mischievous pixie.
Raven smiled as Scarlet took her seat, “I’m jealous, there’s no way I could pull off that dress.”
Scarlet smiled taking the compliment in stride, “Thank you, but I think you can put the knife down. At least until the food arrives.”
Raven looked down at the knife gripped in her hand. She wasn’t even aware she’d picked it up. Perhaps she was more nervous than she had wanted to admit. She set the knife onto the napkin and put her hands in her lap.
“I’m guessing you didn’t pick this restaurant, did you.”
“No, Darren did.” Raven said. Scarlet took a drink of water from her glass trying to look unaffected. Raven however noticed Scarlet’s complexion redden, bristling at the very mention of her father. “This place is not my style at all, but I think he felt this would be neutral ground for both of us.”
“He has a lot of thoughts these days,” Scarlet said her tone ice cold.
Raven’s expression softened, “You have to give him a chance, at least he’s making an effort.”
“Twenty five years too late.”
“That’s not fair Scarlet,” Raven said reaching across the table for Scarelt’s hand. She pulled it out of reach. “He knows he messed up. He didn’t intend to abandon you. He really wants your forgiveness.”
“The why isn’t he here to say it himself?”
Raven sat back in her seat considering the question. She looked down at her hand still half across the table. When she looked up again at Scarlet there was a small smile pulling at the corners of her mouth. “I don’t think even this fancy restaurant would have kept you from trying to put a stake through his heart. Consider me his olive branch.”
Scarlet couldn’t help but smile because her mother was probably right. Her father’s jolly demeanor and lighthearted banter may have annoyed the rest of the team, but it infuriated Scarlet. As for as she was concerned he wasn’t allowed to be happy after leaving her for her grandparents to raise.
“Would you at least consider meeting with him?” Raven asked. She was hopeful, earnest. Scarlet considered but before she could answer the room exploded in gunfire.
The two women moved in unison ducking under their table and flipping it over to create a shield between them and the gunfire. Other customers were following suit, crawling under their tables and ducking for cover behind nearby pillars. Peaking from around the table Scarlet and Raven saw what had caused all the commotion. A group of armed masked men had filed into the room waving automatic rifles around. Their leader had fired into the air to get everyone’s attention.
“Good evening ladies and germs,” he yelled then chuckled over his bad joke. “Things can either go very simply, or very, very wrong. That’s up to you. My associates are coming around to each of you. We want your wallets, your jewelry and your phones. Hand them over and you’ll have a great story for your blogs and Facebird friends.
“Anyone wants to be a hero,” he let rip a short burst of gunfire to punctuate the implied threat, “and you’ll have a very different story.”
Scarlet eyed Raven who eyed the robbers. Three of them had fanned into the crowd with open sacks to collect their booty. Raven was reaching under her jacket and when her hand came out she was holding a Walter P99. Scarlet smiled, this evening had just gotten a lot more interesting. Raven handed the gun to Scarlet then crossed behind her with both her hands raised.
“You don’t want to do this tonight,” she said and the barrel of eight guns all swung toward her.
“Lady, what did I just say about heroes?” the leader asked.
“Trust me when I say, I’m no hero.” Raven dropped her hand behind her back. Scarlet put the handle against her palm and in a smooth motion Raven sighted the weapon and fired on the thug closest to her. The bullet struck him in the shoulder and he spun slightly before falling to the floor. Raven fired another shot that hit the knee of a thug on her right.
She would have kept shooting but the rest of the gang opened fire. The sound was like thunder rattling Scarlet’s skull behind the table. The combined force of their guns pushed Raven backward through the glass. Scarlet lunged after Raven grabbing for Raven’s leg but missed.
“No!” Scarlet screamed watching her fall.
Raven never made a sound.
With the ground rising fast to meet her, one thought floated through Raven’s mind: this is probably going to hurt.
“That was my mother you just threw out of the window.” Scarlet said. She pushed herself up from the floor near the gaping hole in the windows. “We don’t have the best relationship,” she continued, brushing glass from her knees, “but we were in the middle of working some things out when you guys burst in here.”
Scarlet tore at the slit in her dress and widened her stance. She sucked in a deep breath and held it, bracing herself. A single jagged bone spike tore through each wrist extending about ten inches. The spikes hurt like hell even with advance vampire healing. Scarlet looked at the sharp protruding bones. The sight of the blood woke a beast in her she usually tried to keep dormant. She locked eyes with the nearest robber and smiled.
Even with the full face mask she knew he saw the beast too. He saw red hair touched by the sun so that it looked aflame. He saw green eyes tinged with silver. He saw long sharp fangs. He heard a low growl bubble up in her chest and took a step back. He saw a killer.
“Scarlet, you’ve been such a good vampire lately,” she said to herself and took a step forward. “Why don’t you have a little fun.”
The elevator dinged signaling the arrival of the car. Half the gun toting thugs turned at the sound but when the doors opened the cab was empty. Just before the doors closed a soda can rolled out innocuous, innocent. Three sets of eyes followed the can until it rolled to a stop at a boot. Everyone from the hostages to the thugs to Scarlet all stood motionless. Then a shot rang out and one of the thugs fell to the floor gripping his shoulder.
At the sound Scarlet sprang into motion throwing a right cross at the nearest thug. The extended reach of her claw slashed a gash in his cheek. She followed up with an upward slash of her left claw that tore upward through his chest before it dug into the soft palette under his chin. She continued moving forward flinging the man off her claw.
Raven had moved past the doors of the elevator squeezing off three more rounds. Each one found purchase in a shoulder or knee and the rest of the gang scrambled to get behind cover. The unfortunate few that moved into Scarlet’s path were cut down by her claws. She moved with a savage grace that was equally animalistic and beautiful, like a bloody ballet.
In contrast Raven moved with purpose firing bullets until the clip was empty then striking the closest thug with the butt of the weapon. Simultaneously she holstered her gun and pulled a knife out from one of the thugs’ own pack then stabbed him with it. When he fell she threw the knife at another thug trying to escape. It landed in his thigh and he fell to the ground writhing in pain. Raven shook her head with a wry smile.
“Boy did you pick the wrong day to rob these fancy suits,” she said. Spinning around to look at their handiwork. The entire group of thugs were all on the ground incapacitated in one way or another. Raven grabbed Scarlet’s wrist before she could stab the last of the masked thugs. He was their leader, the one who made the first threats. The one who shot her out of a window.
“Hold up Scarlet, this one is mine.”
Scarlet growled resisting Raven but when the darker haired woman didn’t budge she calmed herself. Her fangs retracted and the silver faded from her eyes. Finally, the claws retraced as well. The thug looked from Scarlet to Raven eyes bugged in fear. Raven punched the man in the face then removed his mask. He looked to be no more than in his late twenties. He also looked about ready to piss himself. A bully with a gun.
Raven dragged him by his collar to the window and let him hang halfway out. The man screamed in fear begging her to spare his life. Raven clucked her tongue in disgust.
“Do you know how long it took me to get Scarlet to agree to this lunch?” she asked pointing back at the red haired woman. Scarlet had taken two table napkins to wrap her wrists until their stopped bleeding.
“My daughter is not a very forgiving person,” said Raven and let the man go. “Frankly, neither am I.”
The man screamed the entire way down until his scream was cut short. A man with metallic wings had caught him at the last possible second and now flew back up to the open window. He hung in the air taking in the ghastly scene before him. His eyes met Scarlet’s cool green stare before settling on Raven’s icy blue eyes.
“What the hell Raven?”
“Relax, I saw you lurking before I threw him out.”
“You two were supposed to just talk,” he said angling himself through the window to land on his feet. He dropped the thug unceremoniously on the floor. “This is not how I expected to the meal to end.”
“Blame this asshat,” Raven said pointing at the passed out thug. Then she smiled, “Your wife is an assassin and your daughter a vampire like you. We routinely beat the snot out of super powered thugs, you should have expected something this.”
Scarlet raised a single eyebrow, the rest of her face was cool and passive. The beast was in check now. She considered Raven’s comment and the absurdity of the situation. They had only meant to have lunch, air out their grievances, maybe bring some to a resolution. Instead this gang of meatheads thought it would be a good idea to rob the rich snobs in this restaurant. If this was going to happen to anyone, of course it would happen to them. It was the story of their strange lives.
Normal families talked their problems out over dinner. Her family worked it out on gun toting thugs. Stranger still Scarlet felt better.
“Oh I don’t know father, this was kind of cathartic.” Scarlet said. She took in the scared and huddled patrons. She knew her blasé attitude would piss off her father. There would be hell to pay back on base but just then it didn’t matter. To her mother she said, “Let’s do this again sometime.”