ABOUT THE GAME: CTF2187 from Advanced Gaming
Enterprises features teams of Battle Bots pitted against each other in
Arenas. Two or four sided contests are possible, as well as a yearly
Free-For-All contest where groups of Bots fight to see who's "the
Best in the Arenas". Some players act as Independents, allowing the
GMs to put them with anyone. Others organize themselves into teams, either
official (on record with AGE) or unofficial. This story centers around
actual Pilot characters in CTF2187, with moderate basis in game
play; mainly it captures the historical and political climate in which the
‘backstory’ of the game is based. The framing events come not much
long after "Chances," previously published by Sabledrake
Magazine in August 2004. Some material contained within is copyrighted by
Advanced Gaming Enterprises and used by permission. I’ve been playing
the game for over ten years, but that’s my only association with the
company. For more information, write Advanced Gaming Enterprises, Post
Office Box 214949, Sacramento, CA 95821-0949 or see their website at http://www.ageforfun.com.
an interview previously published in Sabledrake (February 2004 issue) I
mentioned that I had an ending planned for the CTF2187 story arc. With the
indefinite hiatus of Sabledrake magazine, and no real regular outlets for
continuing the stories of Femme Fatale and the others, I have chosen to
write my final planned story, though admittedly having to compress some of
the arcs involved. This is not to say if circumstances changed, the story
could not pick up again in the future, as this ending does leave a sense
of future; I feel that unlike my abrupt end with Paper Mayhem, those who
have chosen to follow the story deserve a conclusion should the stories
again, I must thank Christine and Tim Morgan for allowing me the chance to
live vicariously through these characters and bring the stories I began to
a more developed level. Many many thanks go out to Duane Wilcoxson and
Debbie Leonard of Advanced Gaming Enterprises, for allowing me to write
the stories to begin with and the liberties they have allowed me in their
universe. Elaine Webber and her late husband David Webber I need to
recognize for providing that first outlet in Paper Mayhem to publish these
tales. To all the other players I have played with and against, without
you there would be no stories. And to those of you who have followed these
adventures, thank you for caring.
eternal gratitude to the love of my life Kevin Paul Shaw Broden, my sister
Lesley, and my Dad, John C. Muir – because gaming is never more fun than
when you can do it with family.
Fatale, her husband Racubus Sterling, her mother Aria Forsythe, and a
visibly pregnant Wyndi Blaze walked out of an examination room. All were
relieved that Wyndi carrying the couple’s twins was going well,
especially given Wyndi’s age. But Femme and Rus couldn’t imagine
anyone else doing this for them, not after doctors told Femme that despite
having healed relatively well from injuries in Arena 218, the injuries
were enough that she’d never bear children on her own.
they were walking out, they caught the latest news on the waiting room
vidscreen, covering the retirement ceremony in Capitol City for
Ambassador-Brigadier General Martin Kraemer, one of the longstanding
council members. At the same ceremony, Martin’s son, General Nicholas
Kraemer, would later be installed into his father’s post, having earned
his way through the training school ranks much as David Blaze had done
hard to believe all those years ago he fought alongside Frank and David as
a member of Forsythe’s Falcons,” Wyndi said, her gaze not leaving the
monitor. “It feels like yesterday.”
because the controversy with my father only was recently resolved,”
would agree wholeheartedly,” Aria reinforced her daughter’s comment.
then a scroll ran at the bottom of the ceremony, enough to convey the news
but not interrupt the historic moment.
NEWS… ORPHANS OF WAR ARRESTED AT PROTEST SPONSORED BY PEACE MOVEMENT…
IONA QUESTA TESTA, DAUGHTER OF DECEASED PILOT ROARSHOCK TEST, REPORTED TO
BE PROMIENTLY INVOLVED…”
shook her head.
we are trying to start a family, and our own children could be in those
very shoes someday. Maybe we’re not doing the right thing by them.”
gave his wife a hug.
many children of the service turn out fine. Me, H.A.L., Wyndi’s daughter
Indigo. Even with your struggles, you’re a prime example! It’ll be all
Rus, Derrick and H.A.L. accompanied Aria Forsythe back to her humble
abode. There, she laid out for them holo-diaries, jewelry, and other
family souvenirs of Frank’s.
it took me forever to remember how to open the combination where I had
these. Like I didn’t want to remember. Or maybe I could keep a part of
Frank safe forever,” Aria confided. “I don’t know.”
did you say the Forsythe family was from?” Derrick asked again while
examining a lapel pin that appeared to bear a family crest.
Rus commented. “That’s a bit of a haul from here. Like nearly a day’s
was Frank’s increased status as leader of Forsythe’s Falcons that
brought us to Gamestown. I think one of these holo-books has pictures from
our farewell party. Fran wasn’t very old then.”
going through several holo-books that yielded nothing, the pictures of the
farewell party were located. Frank appeared with his younger brother
Edmund, his parents, Aria, and Femme Fatale as a toddler. Femme came
across a holo-photo of her father standing back to back with a heavyset
Black man at the party, both smiling with a glint of mischief in their
is this, Mom?”
Martin. He was your father’s best friend growing up, much like you and
Rus. David Blaze was a friend, sure, but David and your Dad didn’t meet
until their Arena careers. Martin was a help to us soon after your father
died, for as long as he could be politically. But soon he had to make a
painful choice, his career or standing by his dead friend’s wife. I told
him to choose his career, Frank would have wanted that.”
noticed Derrick staring intently at the holo-photo.
Aria,” he said, addressing Femme’s mother by his biological
relationship to her, “is this Ambassador-Brigadier General Martin
Kraemer, who just retired from the Council?”
observant, Derrick. Yes, it is.”
indeed,” Derrick responded. And left it at that.
something that I can’t figure out,” H.A.L. piped up. “Unless I’ve
got stuff out of order, from watching how old Fran is in these holo-photos,
it sure seems like Edma gained a lot of weight quickly. Was she ill?”
rubbed her chin, contemplating.
that I know of. But I never stopped to think of it at the time.”
Derrick, any chance what we’ve found out is enough to go digging with to
find out what happened to the Forsythes?” asked Femme.
should be pretty simple. I still have a good network of contacts.”
looked at her husband disappointed. “I thought you gave up all that.”
never said I gave it up, Helen. I just watch how I use it.”
watched H.A.L. turned away, not knowing what to think, her doubt apparent
on her face.
decided to hold a going-away party at Lazer’s for the group going into
the Fast 4x4, now officially known as Arena 383. The 4x4 format was pretty
new, compared to the traditional 3 bots per side in a 4-sided game, so any
time groups were involved in the 4x4s it made news. Femme made sure to
invite the press to this party to field the questions she knew they would
have plus continue to get publicity for the team. Not to mention it would
help the team relax. To help contribute to the mood, Allison Chaynes, Ann
Thrax, ‘Guns’ Anne Rosas, Metal Lica, and the Angel of Death of the
Ladies of Metal decided to get a little musical and perform girl-group
karaoke renditions of 20th century classic
metal rock hits in blocks throughout the evening.
party also served as a return celebration for Cadet – now applying to
become Lieutenant – Soulshaker, literally fresh from the latest
Championship Tournament in Arena 381. While Soulshaker completed the
contest with the lowest victory rating, she’d at least walked away with
her life, given only one engine stood between her and death. Femme felt
that Soulshaker’s life was worth equal billing and celebration, and felt
relieved to see that she enjoyed the dance floor with Richard Shadowhand
as a dance partner; in fact, they seemed to be in a friendly dance
competition with the newly-engaged Damian Blackheart and Lauraic
Vileslayer. A generation back, Soulshaker and Richard’s parents proved
bitter enemies, and now they were bonding. Femme hoped that Richard would
help Soulshaker find the stability in her life while helping his heart
heal from the romance-that-never-bloomed with Kibitz.
out my competition?”
nearly jumped as Rus slid in next to her; she hadn’t even noticed his
like that,” she told him confidently. “I’m just trying to see how
everyone is in this one moment of calmness before the storm that seems
that case, hope you’ll excuse me as I go stop this little competition
Tatiana Romanov and Red Hot Lover have going to see who can pick Miles
Zillio up first.”
make better use of your time getting Datameister and I.B. Tryon away from
that holo-chessboard they brought and instruct them what a real party is
all about,” Femme responded with a smile and a wink.
ha, ha,” Rus played along with the fun. “Seriously, Miles won’t
survive being pinned between the two of them if I don’t do something.
disappeared into the crowd again, which sent Femme looking past Shield
Maiden and Starstruck Rose sharing a table, towards the entry door. At
that moment, all hope of relaxation seemed dashed, when John Blaze and
Kristi ‘Speedy’ Wright of the Lion’s Maw enter arm in arm. Femme
watched Indigo Girl storm over to her younger brother, prepared to tell
him off. She overheard a conversation the parties didn’t even attempt to
me, little brother,” Indigo loudly and indignantly told her brother. “But
I don’t seem to recall inviting you.”
grabbed John’s arm. “I’m invited,” she said nervously, “and he’s
potential problems, bouncers of the evening Lela and Buffy Skaarbut
stepped in. Lela, borrowing from her police officer father’s training,
took charge. “Everyone, stay calm until we sort this out,” she said,
grabbing Indigo Girl’s wrist. “No need to make a scene, and we all
know the two of you can do that quite well.”
don’t know what Femme was thinking, inviting you two in here, after what
you’ve done,” Indigo muttered as Lela led her away. Femme decided to
go over and speak to the couple.
John, I’m so glad you came. Though I do wish you’d told me that John
would come with you, so I could have been prepared for that.”
Kristi out of it, you mean,” John said skeptically.
in the least. After what she’d been through, I wanted Kristi to feel
that she could come spend time with us . I didn’t invite you directly
only because I honestly didn’t think you’d be interested, John.”
you all the same,” Kristi told her. “And I hope I’ll be welcome for
more than just tonight.”
Femme and John said in unison.
For the last several phases of my recovery, I worked as a tour guide at
the museum. And it let me do a lot of thinking. I want to stay in the
Arenas, but not with the Lion’s Maw. Mom and Dad think very highly of
you, and I’m sorry I was ever jealous. I was hoping maybe there might be
room in the Sisters for me.”
will have your hide,” whispered John nervously. “He’ll come after
you, no holds barred.”
think you’re overreacting,” Kristi responded.
though frankly I think John’s concern is valid, there is most definitely
a place in the Sisters for you,” Femme confirmed. “Have you spoken to
your parents yet?”
shook her head.
want to get their hopes up without us talking first.”
then,” Femme motioned for the two to follow. “I see your Mom across
the room. What do you say we break the news together?”
wouldn’t be all that much later before Femme, Rus, H.A.L. and Derrick
would be gathered watching Indigo Girl and three other Sisters members
play out their opening turn in Arena 383. Derrick’s computer was busy
running searches across the world’s computer networks for any
information on the scant clues Aria provided them, and projecting possible
scenarios based on those clues. In the meantime, Derrick preferred to
spend his time with human company.
commscreen beeped, and H.A.L. got up to answer the call. Soon, she
returned with shoulders slumped and looking down.
is it?” asked her husband, Derrick, concerned.
when we promised to team up with The Line to give our teams a little more
exposure, and I offered to participate as the first female General of the
Arenas? Well, that was the call. Arena 385 starts soon. Suppose I better
Femme said, grabbing H.A.L.’s hand before she could walk away. “I
thought you really wanted to go back out there.”
just been quiet for so long, and now it’s all happening so fast,”
H.A.L. lamented. “Derrick and I were talking about maybe trying to adopt
a child; I just can’t see myself doing the whole pregnancy thing, but I
want to make someone’s life better. We started to forget that there were
outstanding obligations like this as we got a taste of something more. But
in the end, it all comes back to the fighting.”
– Helen – look at Rus and me. We had a lot of things get in our way,
but now we’ve found a way to try and balance the Arenas and family. If
that’s really what you want, have Derrick try and get the ball rolling
while you’re gone. It’s not impossible.”
looked over at Derrick and smiled weakly.
do you think, love? Can we do this?”
of it as something good to come home to.”
with two Arenas in progress, Femme and Rus tried to change locales and
move forward with daily business while keeping an eye on their friends,
and wondering about the final analysis Derrick would find about Femme’s
family. With them occurring so close together, it was hard to get sleep.
Right now they watched Arena 385 intently on the vidscreen in Femme’s
office. Things were not in the combined Sisters/Line team’s favor. Both
their highest ranking Pilots, H.A.L. and Richard, came in at Heavy Damage
and Critical Heat. Now just after Turn 4, H.A.L.’s Heavy Athena already
had been worn down to nine engines – the threshold to activate an Eject
sequence – plus she’d just taken some personal injury due to excessive
heat. Femme prayed H.A.L. would keep her pride in check and Eject.
then, the buzzer at the front door rang. Femme answered the door to find
Derrick there, drenched in rain.
couldn’t trust this through commscreen calls,” Derrick said, trying to
dry himself off before stepping in. “Though it was even a risk to bring
it here on a vidrecording. But even calling you to come might have tipped
couldn’t even wait for the rain to stop?” Rus quipped. “Or, more
importantly, for this Arena to end to see if your wife gets out in one
can take care of herself. Why do you think I fell in love with her?”
made his way to the vidscreen console and plugged in a data crystal. On
the vidscreen, Derrick called up pages of text data that scrolled by at a
is all that?” Femme asked. “And how do you expect me to read it?”
scrolling to the significant part of the summaries. Your grandfather,
Francis Forsythe Sr., died right after hearing about Frank; they say his
heart couldn’t take it.”
what about Dad’s brother Edmund, and Grandma Forsythe?”
scrolling on the screen slowed down. Derrick pointed to a paragraph on the
screen, and Femme started to read aloud.
Edma. Died during childbirth while delivering a daughter. Stress of family
situation believed to be overwhelming, combined with a later-in-life
looked at her brother Derrick with a puzzled expression.
it? No mention of the daughter’s name? Did she even survive?”
went back to scrolling through the information and stopped on several
entries, which again he pointed out. Femme started to read it out aloud,
and suddenly stopped before uttering a syllable. Rus crowded around his
wife to find out what moved her to silence.
turned back to the screen and began to read to them both what it had taken
him a long time to absorb.
Edmund. Born Edmund Forsythe, second son of Edma Forsythe and Francis
Forsythe Sr. He resigned from his military career and legally changed his
name following the death of his brother Francis (Frank) Forsythe Jr. and
relocated to Capitol City. Adoptive father of Hope Frances, who is
biologically his sister.
Hope. Adopted daughter of Edmund Frances. Biological parents of record are
Edma Forsythe and Francis Forsythe Sr. Mother of Faith Frances.
Faith. Daughter of Hope Frances. Father is Ambassador-General Nicholas
Kraemer, recently appointed to the Council of Nations following the
retirement of his father, Ambassador-Brigadier General Martin Kraemer.”
scratched his head.
help me figure this out. Why hasn’t the press had a field day with this,
if Hope’s past is that easy to trace? The press loves stuff like that.”
answer’s right in front of us,” Femme said as she pointed to Faith
Frances’ entry. “Nicholas probably is pulling all the right strings
for his daughter’s future, including keeping her out of the press, and
who knows if his father Martin is in on it too. Like Mom said, the
Forsythes and Kraemers have been friends for a long time, but still why
would Hope have hooked up with Nicholas given his military leanings?”
a movement to get as powerful as this peace movement did so fast, it would
take financial power and societal influence. Neither which Hope could get
on her own,” suggested Derrick.
then why is Nicholas supporting the peace movement when he just became
part of the Council of Nations?” Rus volunteered. “I am still so
only one way to make sense of any of this. I’ll have to meet Hope
Rus and Derrick looked at Femme with concern.
you sure?” Rus asked.
press won’t back off if you get involved. They could tear everything
apart, for you and the Sisters,” Derrick pointed out. “But if you are
sure, I can help make it happen.”
too many unanswered questions. I have to do this. I just have to.”
you’re not going alone,” Derrick demanded. “Hope may lead the peace
movement, but we don’t know what she’s capable of.”
that the three of us,” Rus added. “We’ll make sure to hide well in
case anything happens.”
where should I meet her?” Femme asked.
Derrick replied. “At your father’s memorial site in the Hall of Fallen
sorry, but I can’t ask Ms. Frances to meet with you,” Dayndi Blaze
coldly told Femme through the commscreen.
Dayndi, you’re my only hope. No one will let me get near the peace
movement headquarters that I’m sure of. And I have to speak to Hope
Frances. It’s personal.”
sure fighting is personal to you,” Dayndi said through smacks of chewing
gum. “Just like peace is personal to us.”
clenched her fist in frustration.
my family and yours go back for years. I wouldn’t be asking if it wasn’t
important. I’m not out to ambush and destroy Hope Frances. I just want
to see things her way.”
stopped smacking the gum instantly, and it looked to Femme as if the
shocked girl nearly swallowed it.
Want to find out more about the peace movement?”
the horse’s mouth, as that old expression goes. I’d like to arrange to
meet her right after closing at my father’s monument at the Hall of
Fallen Heroes, tonight. This should reduce public visibility but have the
facility still be busy enough so not as to arouse suspicion.”
thought about this for a long moment, and Femme started playing with her
hair in order to do something with her pent-up, nervous energy. Finally,
pass on your message. Go to the Hall and wait there. If Hope chooses to
come, she will. If not, can’t do a thing about it. But I will tell her,
all I can ask, Dayndi.”
waited nervously by a holo-photo of Frank Forsythe's face inside a special
case, mounted next to a large-print dedication etched in stone,
chronicling his Arena career and the deceit that nearly destroyed all it
stood for. A gesture years late to repair the damage caused to an Arena
system that allowed one of its own to be betrayed, as well as Frank’s
family possibly still in need of mending. Femme began to fear that Hope
might fail her.
a lot of guts to ask me to come here,” Femme heard the room reverberate
as Hope Frances strode towards the exhibit, continuing, “and it had
better be worth it.”
what would be 'worth it' to you?”
one of the Arena's foremost leaders give up her career as a statement for
have no intention of doing so, Hope. It would have go against what I
believe, that only by being in and improving the Arena system can change
come. Everyone just stopping at once would bring chaos. My father, your
brother, Frank was totally convinced of that. How are you and Nicholas
trying to do accomplish the same? I have to understand. ”
doesn’t really believe in the military. He did it because everyone
expected it of him, and sees a way we can get in and destroy the system.
There’s no way you can fight for peace through the arenas. It makes no
sense that anyone would believe that.”
this might help it make sense,” suggested Femme, pulling out the holo-locket
given to her years ago by her father.
swatted the locket out of Femme’s hands and it spun around onto the
floor. The force of the impact forced the hinges of the locket open. Both
women turned, stunned, as the holo-recording made by Frank Forsythe began
I wish there was something I could say to make things easier, but I know
that's just not possible. Right now, it may be hard for you to understand
why this has happened. I'm not sure if I ever could. The only thing I'm
sure of is that I am in the service to fight toward eventual peace through
the system. Maybe someday, if we all work hard and long enough, these
mercenary wars will end, and then it will be possible. Forgive me,
sweetheart, and know that I'll always love you."
a lie,” Femme heard Hope say in an agonized whisper. “A trick. It has
to be. I was always told my brother Frank hated the military. That you
twisted the truth in your press conferences when you spoke about him.”
Hope. It’s the truth. My father Frank loved the service and wanted to
make it work. Your peace movement is what’s founded on falsehood.”
far as the world is concerned, no one wants to forget what happened. And
as long as they keep remembering, I’ll never really be free.”
said something like that once, Hope. But back then no one knew the truth.
Now that it’s all out in the open, they’re remembering so that it
never happens again. Don’t you understand?”
shook her head violently, choking back tears.
don’t know what it was like. Living in a family that suffered to stay
true to the service despite such a black mark of shame. Being alone
because no one wanted to be friends with the sister of a traitor.”
wrong,” Femme replied. “I didn’t have a lot of friends growing up
either, just Rus and Helen. But we knew each other since before it
happened. I didn’t get any friends afterwards, not until his name was
cleared. Who can trust a traitor’s daughter?”
covered her mouth, stunned.
that’s the thing, Hope. What’s made you press on with this, if it’s
all about justice? Frank’s name is clear, has been for the last several
years. But the peace movement only gained steam recently. It doesn’t
started to fall from Hope’s eyes; she moved her hand to try and wipe
didn’t want anyone else to suffer. The pain has to end.”
started to reach out and comfort Hope.
can end, Hope. I’ll help you.”
then, someone jumped out of the shadows and grabbed Hope in a chokehold!
Femme looked up in surprise to see that the assailant was none other than
getting tired of the mushy stuff,” Ssella hissed. “Time to crank it up
As your commanding officer, I order you to unhand her!”
pitiful naïve Femme Fatale. You really believed I forgave your team for
killing my precious sister and let me in to infiltrate your ranks. I’ve
been looking for the perfect path of revenge. But your husband and brother
would be too obvious.”
felt frozen. She wanted to leap at Ssella, make her set Hope free. But if
she did so, Ssella might act before she could get there.
the aunt you never got to know, that would leave some real loss and
regret. Not to mention throw your world into scandal and disarray as the
world tries to figure out the relationship between the most prominent
female military team commander and the leader of the peace movement.”
squeezed Hope’s neck tighter, and the peace fighter struggled so that it
took Ssella a bit by surprise.
barely got to say hello, now get ready to say goodbye!”
of the shadows, Ssella felt hard grabs on her arms and let Hope go in
shock and surprise as she tried to struggle. Ssella looked over her
shoulder to stare into the anger-filled eyes of Derrick Deathex. Quickly,
she turned her head the other direction to find Racubus Sterling holding
her other arm.
ran over and picked up the holo-locket from where it had fallen, but
instead of returning it to Femme, raced from the room. Femme wanted to run
after Hope, but right now one of her own – for the fact still remained
that Ssella belonged to the Sisters of Silicon – needed to be brought to
Ssella Doomstalker, as your commanding officer I order you to explain to
me how you found your way here.”
want my lawyer,” Ssella spat back. “I’m not telling you anything.”
mess with us, Doomstalker,” Derrick hissed, the light illuminating the
he ran a “S”-shaped scar on his cheek, “or you might just awaken the
demons of the time I was trained to be a little less diplomatic with the
sparing of life.”
you threatening me?”
security, dear sister. Ssella here has some explaining to do.”
Rus, and Derrick returned to Femme and Rus’ place, emotionally drained.
that and she still won’t give up who gave her the ability to bug the
base,” sighed Femme.
least she shared that much info,” Derrick replied. “I can work on
sweeping the place ASAP. Kicking myself not to have checked it more
regularly for you. Some brother I am.”
they approached the doorstep, they heard a familiar female voice: “Where
have you all been? I’ve been looking for you for hours.”
three of them looked up to find H.A.L. standing at the front door.
Femme called out. “Is the game over?”
shook her head.
but I know how much loss you’ve suffered lately. Didn’t want to add
myself to the casualty list. Too much drama in your life as it is.”
leaped over and gave Helen a large hug, much to her surprise, as well as
Derrick and Rus’.
don’t know the half of it,” Femme told her half-muffled, her face
still buried against H.A.L.’s shoulder.
go in and talk about it,” H.A.L. said. Then she held up a vidrecording.
talk about this information from the adoption agency. Apparently there’s
a little girl named Alix who might be a good fit for us.”
weary Ragin’ John Blaze walked out of the Post-Game area to find Femme
Fatale and his older sister, Indigo, waiting for him.
you nuts?” he whispered at them tensely. “If Petruchio sees you, he’ll
make my life miserable.”
Femme replied firmly. “This is your sister. You should be happy both of
you made it out of your Arenas alive, and you’re still together.”
you didn’t have to come.”
Indigo came to support me. I need to ask if you know anything about Ssella
Doomstalker. Anything at all.”
I wasn’t part of her and Petruchio’s mess!” John said defensively,
without so much as a second thought. “I’ve stayed in to figure out how
to take them down.”
John covered up his mouth in embarrassment and shock, wishing he could
take those words back.
The leader of the Lion’s Maw is in on this?” Femme said, taken aback.
yeah, but why are you advertising it so loud? You’ll get us all killed!”
been arrested, John. The world will know soon.”
shoulders sagged, as if a heavy weight had just then been placed on his
were all fodder for publicity, in the beginning. He really hoped one of us
would die just to get him headlines. E.C. gave him his wish. She didn’t
mean to but she did. She left me her holo-diaries, I know how much she
wanted to build her life for herself, no idea that all Petruchio hoped for
was her death. I’ve just stayed in this to find out how to make that
bit his tongue before he could say more, and his sister held him
comfortingly, Femme looking on.
all right, John. It’s all right.”
like we’ve got two healthy ones there. A boy and a girl.”
radiologist continued to move the scanner over Wyndi’s belly as the
doctor looked on. They’d been fortunate to get a doctor at the scan
versus waiting for results later; the doctor had introduced himself as a
friend of Dr. Lawrence Wright, which took Rus more by surprise than it did
what names are you thinking for these little ones? You must have been
thinking of top choices for each. Now you get to use them both.”
hadn’t really thought that far yet—“ Femme started to say.
Forsythe-Sterling,” Rus blurted out. Femme looked over at him.
sure?” she asked hesitantly. “Don’t feel pressured just because—“
Rus said back firmly. “Any special name you were hoping for?”
nodded. “Callie. Callie Forsythe-Sterling. That’s a shortened form of
Callenda, my adoptive mother’s name.”
is your own birth mother,” Rus added as he hugged Femme with one arm.
“I’m sure Aria will approve.”
they walked back into the waiting room while Wyndi made her next
appointment, they immediately noticed everyone transfixed on the broadcast
on the central television.
and gentlemen, I wish to talk to you all about the great cause for which
we have been speaking out.”
watched Hope swallow hard before continuing.
must remember, at the heart of what we have done is love. It is always
about love. Love of our communities and our, yes most definitely, our
families. Sometimes out of love we make hard choices. I made such a
difficult decision when I chose to meet Femme Fatale of the Sisters of
Silicon, but instead found myself attacked by one of her own.”
buried her face in Rus' chest. She didn't want to deal with more bad
exposure right now, but continued to listen as Hope pressed on.
Surprisingly, the crowd stayed totally silent.
turned out that this person was not simply attacking me, but betrayed
Femme Fatale as well. Fortunately, there was intervention, though possibly
intended for a different kind of ambush. I never got the chance to
discover the truth, as I fled for my life.
word comes to me that my attacker, Ssella Doomstalker, has walked out of
police custody because they cannot ever prove I was there since I had
already gone into hiding before they arrived. The Lion’s Maw, whom she
served as a spy, now protects her. So I officially declare, on this
matter, Hope Frances and Femme Fatale see eye to eye – Ssella
Doomstalker must be brought to justice. More importantly, make note that
the two of us have an understanding on one thing – though our methods
differ, only through perseverance can we find peace. Thank you!”
and Rus looked at one another in disbelief, as the crowd watching the
press conference responded with equal silence. Perhaps, slowly, positive
change would come to the world. The future remained full of possibilities.