Fiction: The Butterfly Dragon I: Heroes Of Our Own - Act IV: Trouble In Paradise by Brian Joseph Johns
Warning: This story deals with some mature situations. Reader discretion is advised.
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Act IV: Trouble In Paradise
2006 Treadwater Island: Trouble In Paradise
The ladies are now divided. With Alicia, Monique and Valerie (aka Valkyra) now under Torman's control, Heylyn finds herself alone. She's learned of Mr. Zek's plans from the children saved by Alicia's SY349 formula and the Dragon known as Weltherwithsp. She must stop Zek but she knows nothing of her friends' change in allegiance. She prepares her armour for the confrontation that will decide the outcome of this conflict.
Heylyn sealed up the last bit of the Kevlar she'd salvaged from their last encounter into three layer packages wrapped in ballistic fabric. Each piece was like a part of a jig saw puzzle and each resembled scales like that of a large reptile. She mounted them one by one onto her suit reinforcing it without adding bulk. She took a pair of ballroom style gloves she'd made for one of her formal designs and applied the remaining scales to them. She repaired the damage her costume had sustained at Mr. Zek's Estate and the Treadwater Cove resort using her portable sewing kit. She'd taken her crest, the gift she'd received from Jin Hua and sewn it onto the chest piece. When she'd donned the outfit the chest piece glowed, its magnificent colors harmonized with her own bodily aura.
She admired the outfit and her shimmering aura in a full length mirror, moving around and making sure it didn't slow her down.
"Very stylish I'd say, but I'm hardly a fashion role model you know." Weltherwithsp spoke to her from the mirror.
"I'm glad you like it, but how does it function?" she asked Weltherwithsp though more in jest than seriousness.
"It needs an eye that is no doubt." Weltherwithsp started.
"One we all through may peer out." the little girl finished.
"I thought you might try the crest. There seems to be a spot for you already. Maybe Jin knew more than she was telling?" Heylyn suggested.
"As I can see there's a place for me. One where I've been so let's get this done." Weltherwithsp said from the rendition on the medallion.
She was ready for sure this time. She grabbed her phone and put it into her utility pouch and then leapt off the balcony soaring into the air.
"Much better." Warai, the little girl from Weltherwithsp's field said to Heylyn from the medallion as she flew to the cove that housed Mr. Zek's Estate.
"Yes. Much." Weltherwithsp agreed and so it was much better.
The first team had already begun assembling the equipment they'd hauled up the flight of stairs from Mr. Zek's personal heliport. He'd taken the liberty to setup a chain of island refueling stations all the way to the mainland, each located on a tiny island situated along the journey. The distance wasn't far but it was much more so than the distance a helicopter could make the journey on a single tank of fuel. It had worked for him on numerous occasions when he required shipments that he did not want to pass within the eyes of the airport officials. Some of them were outside of his influence and he was wary to draw attention to his operations. To them he was an influential industrialist who'd made his way into the hospitality industry in the last two decades. He had at one time been like Norler. A strong believer in his ability to affect the world for the better and his responsibility to do so. Somewhere between his competitors using lobbyists and international regulators and his enemies using intimidation and violent tactics to reel him in, he lost his way and belief in a good world. Nothing had changed in him noticeably to the outside world. The people he would deal with had grown in circle and he no longer cared about the effects of expanding his already vast empire. That's when he'd brought Torman onto his team, to deal with and keep Norler in check.
Norler and Mr. Zek had gone toe to toe on many occasions already and to Zek, Norler had become a persistent obstruction, though not purposely. Norler did not have the individual power of empire at his disposal, but he did have a far greater influence upon wealth and the power to purchase through a global line of investors. Norler had already on a few occasions used this support network to block certain acquisitions and to make sure that some such purchases ended up in the hands of the morally responsible, who had the best interests of the places they did business and the people who worked for their commercial and industrial holdings. Zek on the other hand had given little contention to the value of the worker on the whole and saw them merely as assets upon acquisition and liabilities thereafter. Numbers on a computer screen that could be replaced by more efficient numbers thus keeping the bottom line intact. In a lost era, his business ethics would be sound but people like Norler had come into business knowing that this was not the case. These workers were the companies they had acquired and that productivity and profit were directly linked to their well being. In cases where the market had shrunk and had hindered a company's ability to maintain a fully staffed business, there were alternatives to layoffs or early retirement that kept the employees looked after and actually helped to buffer the markets themselves. Investment groups and conglomerations that took an active role in making sure that in such circumstances the employees were looked after, perhaps by cross business hiring and transfers and a healthy maintenance of training and upgrading, left most employees themselves loyal and with a responsible attitude themselves with their ability to affect the world in a positive manner as much as they could affect the that of the business itself.
“Easy to say and much harder to do.” Norler would tell his investment group at some of their meetings.
“But it's that effort that actually shortens the degree of market pressures by keeping people employed because let's face it. Consumers are the market and they need to be healthy and happy and part of this team of people making a better world and I think that most of us can handle a little bit more effort in making sure they're looked after for the lifestyle that some of us enjoy. Maybe we'd better earn it from them. For them.” Norler would stare them down with his friendly face and a stern eye.
“The same principles apply to our foreign holdings as much as they do our domestic. If we buy a plant in the third world that hires children for pennies to work in the plant, then we build an educational daycare there for the children and hire the parents for dollars. The market will accept morally responsible products because the market is made up of morally conscious consumers who love to feel good about their purchases. It's our responsibility.” with that Norler would have earned the purchase vote from them and they'd all follow through on their responsibility.
Zek had lost his zest and flair for this and had overall worried more about empire building and not having to make the sell to anyone. It was his empire after all and he ran it that way. When there were bumps in the carpet, he'd quietly stomp them out to flatten them. Norler was one bump that he had never quite managed to stomp out. He'd shaped Torman from a gangster and hood with business savvy into a formidable boardroom brawler with the intent of overtaking Norler from the inside but Torman had gone after his own empire. Hence why Zek had him removed once he'd gotten what he needed from him. This was Zek's fortune and the beginning of his world empire. This formula was meant to be his from the beginning despite the fact that none of his companies had come up with it. It was his fate to use it to clamp down on the world and to clean it up from its stray path of late. To deal with those like Norler. To deal with those making ruffles in the carpet. His carpet.
Deep in the bunker Zek watched as the last of the equipment was assembled and the machine they'd quickly conjured up on short notice was there before him in all of its promised glory.
“We're ready for the first tests sir.” Boris told Mr. Zek who sat behind a desk in the enormous marble lined vault.
“Well then? Its best that we proceed. First though I want you to signal the team one and let them know to go ahead and get the show started. We don't want any trouble from Torman's girls. Or that other one.” Mr. Zek told Boris, his bodyguard/assistant.
Boris wasted no time and made the call with her personal communicator.
“It's done.” Boris pocketed his communicator.
“Now, let's see if this one point two billion dollar contraption does what it says.” Mr. Zek stood and pointed to one of the technicians.
The technician immediately began by using a glass eyedropper to fill a cartridge with the formula. He then put the cartridge into the machine and walked over to a laptop. Mr. Zek followed closely behind him.
“Now what is it you're doing? I am so curious about these things you know.” Mr. Zek asked astutely looking over the shoulder of the technician.
“The cartridge I just loaded contains the formula sample you gave me. The laptop is connected to the machine through a fiber optics cable. The cartridge is fed through a spectroscope and analyzer and gives us this feedback here.” the technician pointed to the screen indicating a graph and some numbers followed by a list of elements.
“These are the ingredients, like a recipe as elements from the periodic table and these percentages are the total amount of that element within the formula overall accurate to six places for the sample size. You'll see that there's mostly common elements although this one here is somewhat rare, but fortunately we have some here. Now this list is a breakdown of the molecular structure of compounds within the formula, so that is like recipe itself. This part indicates how those compounds are combined and this last section tells us information about how these molecules might have been altered through magnetism or irradiation. Based upon all of that information here is the final output. I enter the how many liters of the output that I want in this box and it tells me how much of each raw material I'll need in total here. After I load the machine with enough raw materials, I can click this button to start the process of re-engineering the formula from the atomic level. From scratch. The whole process will take about an hour to produce a liter of the formula.” the technician told him.
“Only a liter? What if I want to make a hundred liters?” Mr. Zek asked.
“You'd need to continually feed the machine materials and have a technician monitor the process. After the first ten liters, the machine would need a cool-down time of about two hours before you could start again. So you're looking at a hundred and twenty hours.” the technician responded.
“Good. Then let's get underway. I will be the first test subject as well.” Mr. Zek ordered the technician.
The bomb had gone off just three minutes after Mr. Zek had given the order. The airliner exploded on the runway sending a shock-wave through the terminal. Glass projectiles flew with precision embedding themselves in the surrounding walls of the terminal. The airliner was parked and completely empty for its FAIC (Fuelling And Inspection Cycle). It was close enough to the terminal for the explosion to cause damage to the main building but it was between flights so the terminal was mostly empty as well. Some of the airport employees fled the destruction and ran for cover with minor injuries. The firefighters sprang into action along with a paramedic team. As they made their way to the zone of destruction, another bomb exploded completely destroying the runways and making any airliner based travel impossible.
From a safe distance Hugh Mongus watched the catastrophe, a few scrapes and bruises from his brush with Valkyra still apparent on his face and arms. He stood beside a group of Zek's men one of being unique as he was. A child surrogate child of the SY349 formula.
“I think that did the trick. That will keep the inbound and outbound flights out of commission for a while. I'm guessing that's what Zek had in mind.” Moller said to them.
“Now we just wait for the girls. Zek said that this would definitely hit the Butterfly hard. Something about a boyfriend she lost or something...” Hugh said sounding a little bit wary.
“I think we're a little bit better prepared for them this time. That is if you remember to back me up instead of dancing with Torman's ex.” Moller uttered with a mouthful of resent for Hugh.
Back at Mr. Zek's Estate, the sound of the explosion arrived softly echoing through the hills.
“What was that? That sounded pretty big. Maybe we should go check it out.” Torman/Valkyra said immediately.
“Naww. I say we just stay here. Whatever it is will sort itself out. Besides, I want a piece of Zek right now.” Torman/Monique said.
“I think it might be better to check that out. Think about it. It's good public relations for us and bad for Zek. If we show up to rescue people and Zek has his forces attack us, that will make him look pretty bad to the local populace. So we could consider it another coffin nail for him. Even better if we can skirmish his forces without being detected. They'll attack us and look bad to the island population for doing so.” Torman/Alicia said with sound logic.
"I don't know. Sounds a bit risky to me and it takes us away from our goal here." Torman/Monique said sceptically of Torman/Alicia's proposition.
"Look, I've been doing this for a long time. I've lived through four Mayors and five Police Chiefs, all of whom wanted to stop my gang's influence in the city. Me and my gang have been playing public perception since I was in diapers. If you wanna deal with a problematic person that has a bit of a following or loyal public, then you make them look bad. Just the same way we devalued the companies we were looking to buy for cheap, except instead of targeting a business you target a person. I'd have my gang brothers just lay the pressure on them until they popped. Of course the public wouldn't see that part cause if they did the whole show would be over. They only saw my target popping and when they did, it usually made them look pretty bad. The more you keep the pressure on them the worse they'd get. Public perception did the rest because they'd begin to question everything about that person. Game over. Most of the people I took out that way were too good for revenge and if they tried to explain what happened to them, I'd just have my gang brothers make them look crazy. They lose the public support and disappear. As simple as that. If it can work with a public official or a social hero, it can work against Zek too." Torman/Alicia explained to them confident that the sale had been made.
"How do we know how the public feel about these girls whose bodies we're in?" Torman/Valkyra asked enticed by Torman/Alicia's plan.
"They seem to feel pretty good so far. They loved us at the stopover terminal to Treadwater. I don't think too many people have seen us here... If they see us getting attacked by Zek's forces or even the Butterfly while we're trying to rescue civilians, that will make them look very bad. We'll have the public support and Zek and the Butterfly will come under fire for trying to stop us." Torman/Alicia made the pitch again.
“Sounds good to me. I guess that's why they made you the boss of the gang back home. I'm outta here...” Torman/Monique disappeared in a streak of light in the direction of the blast.
Valkyra looked at Alicia with a frown on her face.
“The power to fly should be like power steering. It should come as a standard instead of an option with all super heroes.” She leapt out of the tree and began bounding the direction of the blast.
"...and villains..." Torman/Alicia said with a sinister smile on her face.
Alicia leapt out the tree moving as quickly as she could through the jungle and very much in agreement with Valkyra.
Not far away, Heylyn soared through the air nearer to the Estate her aura trailing her as she heard the shock-wave from the blast. She stretched her vision as far as she could until off in the distance she saw a plume of smoke rising from the ground in the direction of the Airport.
“The plane go boom. There's nobody hurt. But maybe soon? Hurry!” Warai, the little girl said to her from her pendant.
“I'm on my way there honey.” Heylyn replied to her gingerly.
"Be careful! They make a big trap!" the little red haired girl's voice came from her pendant.
"Thank you for the warning but we'll be alright. Won't we Weltherwithsp?" Heylyn asked with wavering certainty.
"If ask you must then perchance to dust your faith in yourself has turned?" Weltherwithsp posed the question for her.
"Don't let my doubt become an asset to those trying to bring us down. Very well said Weltherwithsp but I'm not used to being alone in this situation." Heylyn replied accelerating her flight.
“There's lots of friends there and on their way. When you get there they'll be ready to play...” Weltherwithsp said to Heylyn.
“Well I'd better not keep them waiting.” Heylyn replied to Weltherwithsp.
She adjusted her course and tried to draw as much speed as she could from her flight.
“Don't you worry sweetie. We'll get there and make sure nobody gets hurt.” Heylyn said to Warai.
“I hope so. But they might hurt you.” the little girl replied.
Battle Of The Titans
Heylyn soared through the air, her wings leaving a glowing aura behind her. As she approached the airport's terminal from above she zeroed in on what appeared to be the focal point of the explosion. She took a quick sweep of from the air looking for any casualties. She landed near the hotspot and examined it carefully with her heightened senses. When she was sure there was nobody in the wreckage she flew upwards twenty feet and into the terminal through a broken section of glass.
A team of paramedics were treating some of the minor injuries a distance away but there seemed to be no major injury or death. She flew over to the paramedics.
"Are there any other casualties?" she asked them as her wings disappeared into her back.
The paramedics stepped back, startled by her sudden presence. After a moment they responded reluctantly.
"No. No major injuries thankfully. Lots of property damage though. There'll be no flights for a week from the look of the damage on the main runway." the paramedic said to her looking a bit startled by her.
"Thank you. I'll be scouring the area for any signs of injured. If I find any I'll send them your way or come back and get you." Heylyn replied.
"Who are you?" one of the paramedics asked.
"I'm the Butterfly Dragon." she replied as she took to the air.
"Amy, Is it me or did that girl just take off into the air? Like a butterfly?" the paramedic asked his partner.
"Yeah Frank. That girl just took off into the air like a butterfly." Amy said pulling an oxygen dispenser and applying it to her face for her sanity's sake.
"Can I get one of those too?" Frank asked his partner.
Heylyn sped through the air back to the hole in the terminal and out onto the tarmac to the site of the other explosion. She landed by a team of fire fighters still putting out the blaze. She set herself down gently behind them, her wings once again disappearing as she walked towards them.
The fire fighter looked to his side to see a beautiful woman clad in some kind of sleek designer outfit. She wore a mask across her face.
"Hey Troy, check this out! Treadwater is getting a sports team! Awesome! Check out the babe cheer leader!" one of the fire fighters said eying Heylyn as she approached.
"Any body injured?" she asked over the sound of the fire hoses.
"No, there's no injuries but the runway's shot. Nice duds by the way. You should be standing back Ma’am." the fire fighter offered politely.
"That's ok. I'm pretty..." Heylyn replied as she was impacted by a force and thrown through the air tumbling and cartwheeling across the tarmac where her wings spread slowing her to a sliding stop.
The fire fighters shut the hoses down running for cover on the other side of the fire engine.
Heylyn got to her feet trying to find what had impacted her. She cringed when she spied Monique.
"Well hello. You finally made it out I see. As you can see I am just overjoyed to see you!" Torman/Monique laughed as she prepared for another charge.
Monique was suddenly thrown backwards into the air by a large hand as Hugh Mongus got hold of her from behind.
"I owe you for the last time we met." Hugh said over his shoulder to Monique as she flew through the air.
"Why don't you pick on someone..." Heylyn started towards Hugh before he interrupted her.
"...Yeah, yeah. Someone your own size. We didn't dance last time, did we butterfly?" he asked her looking rather mean and gruff.
"No better time than the present." Heylyn said as she flew at him at top speed slamming into him with both of her extended fists plunging into his abdomen.
He fell over backwards tumbling before he stopped himself digging his feet into the ground. He got up shaking his head after Heylyn's show of strength.
"Not bad. Not as much crunch as that other one. What's her name? Valley Girl or something like that. But not bad at all." he walked over to her ready for another round.
Heylyn focused herself unleashing an onslaught as she'd learned during her lessons with Jin. Her fist flew forward in a straight punch hitting him dead center of his abdomen. Before the impact of her first punch had time to move him she spun and blade handed his jaw with the same hand. He fell backward stumbling as he did. Keeping her momentum she spun sweeping his feet from underneath and landed atop his large body to deliver a punch into his solar plexus.
"Was that a little better?" she paused to ask him.
He sat unmoving for a little before regaining consciousness.
"Uhhh... Yeah. Much better." he trailed off trying to regain his senses.
Heylyn readied herself to deliver the knock out blow but was once again was impacted by a tremendous concussive force that sent her flying across the tarmac. She once again got to her feet and saw Monique.
"I wasn't finished with you before Big Bozo got in the way." Torman/Monique exclaimed.
"Look Monique, you need to fight him. Torman's got a hold of you. I know you're in there. You need to fight him. He's not you!" Heylyn said to Monique pleading with her.
"Excuse me ladies. I'm sorry to butt in here but I have to help my friend Hugh here. Nothing personal." Moller said to Monique and Heylyn as he stepped between them.
He held out each hand cupped in a fist. When he opened his fingers, a maelstrom of pressurized air flew forth and impacted each of them like a wall.
Halfway through her flight away from Moller, Monique dematerialized into a solid streak of darkness, changing direction sharply back towards her attacker. Moller watched as Heylyn tumbled and finally slowed her momentum landing back on her feet. That was when Monique rematerialized with a bright flash, impacting him with a kick. He flew backwards through the air rapidly slowing as a pocket of air caught him and righted him onto his feet.
"...That was some trick. Let me show you one of mine..." Moller said rubbing his shoulder.
He leveled his hands again and clapped them together. Simultaneously two massive pockets of accelerated around Monique and slammed together where she stood with an impact like a brick wall. Winded, she fell to the ground curling into a ball gasping for air. Heylyn flew towards Moller at high speed only to be running tackled by Hugh Mongus. She rolled to the ground with him tightly holding onto one of her legs with his enormous hands.
She kicked at his fingers until his grip loosed enough for her to counter him. He let go, getting up and striking at her several times. She easily dodged the tremendous force of his striking fists delivering a three punch combination to the center of his giant chest. Her hands fit in the center perfectly where her knuckles impacted his breast plate. He fell backwards screaming in pain hanging onto his chest.
"The bigger they are..." Heylyn started.
"...The harder they fall?.... Ugh!" Hugh Mongus gasped.
"No. The more they stink." Heylyn finished leaving him in disgust to help Monique.
"...it's a side effect of the formula..." Hugh said as she left him in shambles.
Monique had just gotten to her feet as Moller's henchmen had arrived. They took up position beside him.
"If you give up, Mr. Zek has an arrangement that you will find most beneficial. Its that or face the consequences." Moller told Monique as she brushed the dirt from her costume.
"Give up? When I'm so close to beating you?" Monique/Torman replied.
"Last chance." Moller confirmed her course of action.
"Do I get the same opportunity?" Alicia/Torman said immediately after landing beside Monique.
Valkyra landed beside Monique on the other side from Alicia.
"Well, look who dropped in. I didn't know that you could fly." Moller looked to Alicia, recognizing her from their encounter at the dance club.
"She can't. I threw her from back there say about, five hundred yards." Valkyra/Torman replied answering the mystery of Alicia's flight.
"Say, that's pretty good. Have you considered joining the football league?... I mean they have these deals where..." Monique/Torman started with Valkyra before Alicia cut her off.
"No deal. We're taking the whole pie. You want a piece? That's our offer. Then we take out the butterfly together." Alicia/Torman asked Moller knowing him to be a turncoat.
"Tempting but I have to say no. I know what you're up against and you haven't got a chance. Zek might seem a little bit lax when it comes to how he runs things, but believe me, he does not miss a thing. That's how he managed to build his empire and hire upstarts like you and me. Without him we just would have rotted away with the rest of those guys who do business the way we used to. Zek sees above all of that. He even sees above the heads of the people running the world. He's going get this done and you know it." Moller told Alicia/Torman blandly.
"He's getting older and slower. Even with the formula he's still going to be no match. Even with all of his employees and connections. They know me too. You watch how quickly they change sides when there's a new captain at the wheel." Alicia/Torman told Moller trying to twist him.
Moller stood quietly thinking about it Torman's offer just as Heylyn landed between the two groups ready for anything.
"C'mon. You know that I'm right about this. He's done. Washed up. Who has he got lined up to manage that empire when he dies? Kenton? Wells? You know they haven't got what it takes to run an operation this big. We can do this and even carry out his plans once he's out of the way." Torman/Alicia didn't give him long to think.
"Alright. We take the butterfly together and then we take Zek, just the like the old days." Moller responded to Torman's deal accepting it fully.
Alicia/Torman keyed the cellular phone in her pocket stopping the recording he had taken of their conversation. Torman had exactly what he needed in case this did not turn out. That was Torman's way of doing business which was much like Zek's. Hedging his bets on both sides of the fence and getting something about both his allies and competitors to pressure them with. To get the upper hand. Much like Zek did with his database of personal rumors, secrets and dirt videos. If they got control of the compound and eliminated Zek, once they got into that database, they'd have all the power they needed. The rumors and secrets of all who might oppose them. That Torman thought, was Zek's real power as it soon would be his.
Heylyn assessed the dynamics of the situation and the newly formed allegiance. She knew that she had to get her allies out of Torman's influence and that she'd need help. Weltherwithsp might show up or not and that was as unpredictable as the wind.
"So. Now it comes down to you, Butterfly. Are you with us against Zek or are you just going to become a casualty?" Alicia/Torman expertly manipulated the situation further and if Torman had been Zek's ally, he might have even been proud of him.
Hugh Mongus had just gotten up from the ground, fully healed to take up a place behind Heylyn. She saw him despite her eyes being firmly fixed upon Alicia's.
"I think that we need to talk about this." Heylyn delayed.
"That point in time has come and gone more than once." Alicia/Torman replied drawing more upon Alicia's savvy and intelligence with words than Torman's no nonsense brute force business sense.
That was just the sign that Heylyn needed and Weltherwithsp held no pause. They both moved as one, far too fast for the unaided eye to see and with that the Butterfly took Alicia while the Dragon took Torman.
Alicia struck out first more out of desperation for she had not seen Heylyn move at all. She threw a blind sided arm in a wide arc hoping to connect though secretly holding back hoping that Torman would not notice from inside her. Alicia's arm missed as she'd entirely miscalculated where Heylyn was. Heylyn's affront came from behind.
Torman's mania at the situation left him feeling isolated from within Alicia's head but he needed Alicia too much to fully retreat to Valkyra or Monique. That was when the Dragon came, and when Weltherwithsp arrived it was already too late for Torman. The Dragon did not attack Torman by way of his ego, from the front as he'd expected. It attacked Torman by way of his fear and from behind, out of sight instead preying upon Torman's cowardice drawing upon his own knowledge to do so.
The battle had begun.
Heylyn's hands quickly encircled Alicia and plucked her into the sky as fast as she'd moved to get behind Alicia.
"Damn, she's quick." Moller drew a breath and concentrated.
As Heylyn ascended, a barrier of solid air had formed in her path upward. She quickly changed direction to fly horizontally narrowly avoiding the barrier. She flipped onto her back midair to block one of Monique's attacks. She absorbed Monique's dark energy spike attack into her back and the energy from the attack dissipated through her home made armor and across the diamond scales that now covered her back.
"Alicia, I don't know if you can hear me but you need to fight Torman now!" Heylyn yelled into her ears as the air pressure obscured her hearing.
"I think he's occupied right now." Alicia yelled back truthfully.
"Good. That means he's got a visitor." Heylyn turned her flight path back towards Zek's Estate.
"Zekky's got help too. He's got a big machine. If you don't run really fast, he wins the big game." little Warai told Heylyn.
"Let's hope Weltherwithsp can deal with Torman before we get there." Heylyn spoke barely audibly enough for Alicia to hear.
"I think they're fighting." Alicia said wincing, grabbing her head.
"I think she's near to us now!" young Heylyn warned speaking of Monique.
Monique materialized atop Alicia in mid air grabbing onto her in attempt to pull Alicia away from Heylyn. Heylyn righted herself once again spiraling to level flight dropping Monique as she clasped at Alicia. Heylyn's wings twisted and turned as she struggled to stay aflight a trail of spiraling aura behind her. Monique fell a hundred feet before becoming immaterial and returning to her pursuit of Heylyn.
Inside of Alicia's head, Torman backed up into a corner of her psyche.
"You see Dragon. You didn't get me. Even when I died out there, you didn't get me. You can't get me. I can be in many people, too many for you to deal with all by your lonesome. That's what its like to have a gang me. You don't know what you're dealing with." Torman threw his words out sharpening them as much as he could before hand though they fell harmlessly away from Weltherwithsp.
Weltherwithsp listened from the darkness of Alicia's subconscious, the only clue of the Dragon's presence was its silence.
"Soon I'll be in Mr. Zek too. Then his kingdom will fall." Torman threw more words as his fear grew and perhaps his paranoia.
Silence once again.
"You can't beat me because I'm not just one." Torman backed up.
The silence remained though Torman could detect the tension building as a thought found escape from Weltherwithsp's vastness.
"What of those whose minds you'd replace with that of yours. You'd not well get their confidence nor their allegiance. You see, you are alone really. More so than you know. More so than the solitary individuals who create their part for the whole, maybe alone but ultimately as part of it. My counterpart, the Butterfly as you know her spends many hours of her own forging her creations ultimately to share with someone. Many of whom she will never meet. Alicia, one of the kind women whose mind you've chosen to occupy does much the same. She spends many hours by herself or with her fellow researchers creating in order to save people that she will never, ever meet. Even long after her mortal twine hath wrought its last bough. She will be affecting the lives of others she does not know." Weltherwithsp spoke abandoning its propensity for verse for this matter.
"My words upon you are a waste as will be your last breath, fool. You seek power in this world not to help it, but to change it to your likeness because you're the only person that you have. Despite how you're so called friends and henchmen might have pledged their allegiance to you, the only time they'd ever thought of you was in fear of you, forgetting you readily when your reach upon them had been exceeded. Just as it will with the more people you infest with the waste of potential that you call a mind, but that is nothing more than the ego of one who only wants to see themselves in others. You are vile for the only way you seek to have effect upon others is by painting yourself upon them against their choice. Those that let Alicia's or the Butterfly's efforts into their life let them in willingly and hence, some will walk on their legs and some will fly upon their wings. That is their etching upon the face of this world and that of those who create and many will be better and live better as a result, ultimately by their choice of what is right for them. Even if those people rejected what Alicia and the Butterfly had to share in that way, neither Alicia nor the Butterfly would be likely to give up but they would never force their efforts upon those people. You Torman, take as it is the same for what you give and something that is not yours in either case. Confidence is given by those who choose to share it. Control is something that is taken by force without choice. One earns friendship, loyalty and allegiance despite the failings and misgivings of that with whom it is shared. The other earns the fear of those who take it and like a disease it slowly turns to scorn, devouring the taker thereof. You want to fill others with your brand of ire, so you can make yourself look that much better in measure. You want them to be as you and for others to take you as them though you never having earned it. That's why you targeted Alicia, Monique and Valkyra. You're preying upon their own self doubt and lack of confidence in themselves and that is why you cannot take the Butterfly." Weltherwithsp held to the shadows of Alicia's subconscious though very much permeating her entirety with confidence.
"Let's just skip all the fancy words and do this like they do where I'm from." Torman spoke like he had an audience to impress.
"I am not here to give you such satisfaction as that Torman though you'd fall despite. No. I am here to devour you." Weltherwithsp's aura broke the darkness of Alicia's mind filling it with light and hope.
Torman found himself backing away from the brightness as the Dragon's presence filled her and eviscerated Torman's being from her. Torman withdrew in attempt to withdraw to Monique whom he could sense was nearby. He could merge with her and they'd share the knowledge he'd accumulated while within Alicia and Monique.
"You will not be leaving here." Weltherwithsp spoke with confidence.
Torman's form slowly started to fade and he fought hanging onto outcroppings of Alicia's past grabbing at her memories. He found himself in her school, and among a group of boys who had picked on her regularly there.
"Heh, what's this. A memory? A bad one? Wow, you looked way different than you do now." Torman said commenting about her appearance and a bit about her weight and though her weight was hardly a problem, it was something she was conscious of.
Alicia sat at the table in the gymnasium eating her lunch trying to ignore the abuse as she had been used to it and had long since learned to deal with it emotionally.
"Hey. Are you hearing me? Are you working on another one of your school projects there again trying to make us all look bad?" Torman approached Alicia walking much like he had in his own school days.
She ignored him, taking another bite of her sandwich.
"Why don't you try to pick on me?" a familiar voice came from behind Torman.
"Well, well, well. If it isn't the Butterfly. I was hoping I'd see you here." Torman turned to his new quarry to see Heylyn as she was in her school years with Alicia.
"Leave her alone. You're done here." Heylyn stood confidently before Torman.
Torman's frustration with Heylyn breached him and he swung at her. Surprisingly Heylyn just stood there, taking the full force of the blow and falling to the floor, a slight bruise on her cheek.
Torman stood there unbelieving that he had actually connected with her, a martial arts expert and that he'd knocked her to the floor.
"Yeah! I did it! I took her out!" Torman jumped up excitedly looking around the gymnasium for any audience.
That was when he was thrown across the room onto a table before he rolled off it and onto the floor.
Alicia stood offering her friend a hand up.
"Thanks Alicia. I'm Ok. Really." Heylyn told Alicia.
Alicia turned around shielding her friend from Torman, who'd gotten to his feet.
"Oh! You want some too? I just took down a martial arts champ. Now you want some? Alright. Let's go." Torman danced like a boxer back over to Alicia, readying himself.
The other students watched him unable to move.
Young Alicia put up her fists though she'd never fought in her life.
Torman swung at Alicia and Alicia ducked just barely getting brushed on the top of her head by Torman's clasped fist.
"Oh, so you have more moves do ya?" Torman backed up in fear of the counter attack.
Alicia just stood with her dukes in front of her.
Torman took another swing at her opening his hand at the last minute to slap her.
"Oh! Another one. Yesss!" Torman danced in victory for a moment and then returned.
Alicia held her stance and tried not to show any fear but inside she felt like she wanted to break down and cry on the floor. Cold and alone.
"Don't worry Alicia. Believe in yourself." Heylyn said from behind her.
Torman jumped in for another strike opening his hand again and slapping her a bit harder with one hand and following it up with the other hand.
Alicia felt a tear of frustration welling up on her face. Why was this man doing this to her? She'd never done anything to him and she wondered why it was like this. Why life was like this. Why would someone see her working on her homework and come over and pick on her. Why? She was not bothering anyone. Why would people like Torman come and find her, to pick on her?
Torman bounced in again while she was thinking about it and slapped her again. This time she didn't stop to ponder but instead she sidestepped him and he fell onto the floor as a result of his own force. He landed with a thud.
"Oh, so you still have some fight left in you?" Torman stood a bit fearfully but an audience of Alicia's bullies encouraged him.
He stepped back in once again and swung and she successfully dodged it yet again and he fell, tripping over his own legs. He stood up again though this time his audience had disappeared and he was alone. Frustrated he opened his hand up for another slap and missed her once again.
"What? That was right on target?" Torman declared aloud.
Frustrated he swung again and missed again.
"C'mon, let's eat lunch Alicia." Heylyn put her hand on Alicia's shoulder.
"Your right. I don't have to be afraid of this person, or anyone. But I don't have to lower myself to his level unless I really need to defend myself." Alicia said to her.
"That's right. He's more afraid of you than you are of him. Besides, in about fifteen years from now you'll change the world. I know you will." Heylyn told her friend walking her back to the lunch room table.
Torman watched as the two girls walked back to their table and sat talking and laughing and enjoying their lunch but more importantly, their friendship.
The school faded and Torman was once again bathed in Weltherwithsp's light.
He writhed in pain as bits and pieces of him burned and flaked away into the air of Alicia's mind his screams filling the darkness only to be drowned into nothingness.
"Be at peace and free of fear my friend. Make sure that your goodness is what you in fact share and rend. With that Alicia my dear, I bid thee farewell and all well." Weltherwithsp disappeared from Alicia's subconscious only to remain there as one of Alicia's pleasant memories.
"Welcome back honey." Heylyn said to Alicia.
"It's great to be back. Anything happen while I was gone?" Alicia joked with her.
"Well, nothing really though I should warn you that Monique is having one of her tantrums again..." Heylyn got the last word out as Monique impacted the two of them sending Alicia into the air away from Heylyn's grasp and back to the island below them.
Friends Will Be Friends
Monique retained her intangency halfway between her dark energetic form as she tumbled through the air struggling with Heylyn. A distance away Alicia braced for what might be a high speed clash with the ground. Surely this would be one battle in which the ground would win.
Heylyn arced her flight path against Monique's grasp trying to get closer to Alicia. As she did time suddenly stood still and Heylyn felt the presence of Weltherwithsp once again.
"I might help if I could but in this time it is not so sublime to ask that you're the only one, t'were you as you were once young..." the air filled with its voice.
She suddenly was thrust from her crash course flight with Monique and fell to the floor in a place she did not know. She stood and took in her surroundings from her smaller height for she was once again a little girl Ai Yuanlin Ying.
She was in someone's bedroom, dark with clothing scattered over the floor and a mess of bottles and other miscellaneous paraphernalia atop a hutch and dresser. It smelled of cigarette smoke and full ashtrays. The bed was unoccupied.
"Damn you, that money was for groceries! I earned that myself you bastard! It wasn't for you and your friends and one of your binges!" Heylyn heard a familiar lady's voice.
"What the heck are you talking about? You owe me. This is my place here and you're living here. Why aren't you busy keeping the place clean like we agreed?" a man's voice spoke with a bit of a hood slur to it.
"Why? So you can have your squeeze over while I'm out working and screw your brains out! I thought we were supposed to be building a life? And you're just sleeping around and keeping me here as a live in house cleaner and spending my money on your friends and your parties! Your gangster friends." Monique came back with a ferocity.
"Look babe, it's just for a while. When Torman's contact comes through with the cash he promised, I'll be sittin' pretty. Besides, you could have been making twice what you make now if you'd done it my way." the man said to her trying to reason with Monique.
"Selling myself on the street? A hooker? Never. I'm more than that." Monique said to him.
"It wasn't on the street. You would have been working for the high class types." the man came back taking a haul from his cigarette.
"And you would have paid me an allowance from that would have been a quarter of what I make working as a model. My boss and the people where I work really care for me." Monique said to him her eyes starting to tear up.
Little girl Heylyn stepped into the room and saw the man sitting in a recliner who was of course Monique's ex-boyfriend in Torman's form, a big ashtray sat next to him beside his cellular. Monique stood facing him having just come out of the kitchen cooking dinner for them both. She was both hungry and exhausted as she'd done a fourteen hour day at the studio.
"Believe in you Monique. You don't have to be like him. He's not good for you. He forgets you at daytime but remembers you when you have money. That's what he wants from you." Heylyn said to Monique.
Monique turned to the little girl whom she could not recognize.
"How'd you get in here sweetie? You need to get home to your Mommy and Daddy." Monique said leaning over to her.
"Who the hell are you talking to Monique. Did you hear a word that I just said? That's what I mean. You never freakin' listen to me!" the man said to Monique looking at her as if she'd gone crazy.
"No. He's a bad man. He pretended to care so he could have you. Now he has someone else. He just wants your money. Don't let him win you!" Heylyn said to her.
Monique looked at the little girl whose eyes were filled with tears.
"You used to be little like me. Can't you remember? What did you want to be? You don't want to be with him. He doesn't care what you want to be. You care. The little girl who was you cares. Torman wants to use you. Take you away from studio and use you. Then throw you away. Heylyn cares. Kori and Delia really like you at the studio. They really care about you." Heylyn said to Monique.
Monique thought about her childhood and what she used to dream of being. She'd had many dreams and aspired to be every one of them. She wanted to be a dancer like a ballerina. She wanted to be a famous singer. Then when she learned about gymnastics she wanted to be a gymnastic star. She remembered all of those things and how she believed that she could do them and do them well. As she got older, she noticed that some people would try to convince her that she could not do those things. Like she wasn't capable. People whom she thought were her friends. People who didn't want her to succeed because that would mean they'd have to try harder. It made them feel uncomfortable so rather than encourage her, they discouraged her. They had never had their own dreams or ones that they spoke of. Instead it was about where the next party would be and the one after that. Fun every once in a while is alright, but her friends had made a life of it with no balance. Parties were their way of escaping their own sense of their lack of achievement and more importantly their unwillingness to try.
Monique had defined herself by how her friends thought of her, so she naturally took their rejection of her dreams seriously. She had given too much credit to those friends and their opinion and in fact, they weren't her friends at all. But she'd based her opinion of herself by what her friends thought of her and in the process she'd lost her real friends. The ones whom themselves had gone on to pursue their dreams. When they attended a party or a social event, they had something to share with each other. The fruit of their efforts and the joy of at least having tried, success or not. Monique had just realized that she'd seen friends who'd just given up and resigned to the life that she thought she'd never have. Rather than change their life to make those dreams possible they'd resign themselves to having none. Monique was a little girl once and that was who she was and who she had to answer to. She decided that she could no longer lie to that little girl any more.
"We're finished. I'm leaving. I'll just pack my things and go. Your dinner is mostly done and you should be able to finish it yourself. Goodbye." Monique smiled at the little girl.
"Thank you." she whispered to young Ai Yuanlin Ying.
"Look babe, I'm sorry. Don't go. Please. I miss you already. Honest I do." the man said standing up from the chair stopping to flatten the tip of the cigarette so as to save it for later.
"Don't listen to him. He just wants the money you earned from the studio. Call Heylyn, she'll help you. Don't give in." Heylyn said to Monique.
"No. I'm leaving now. That's final." Monique said to him not looking at him.
He reached for her grabbing her arm.
"C'mon babe. I said it was over. No more sleeping around for me. I only want you. I'll make it up to you. Honest." he said to her holding her arm a little too hard.
"Let go of me you bastard!" she yelled a little bit frightened.
"You watch the way you talk to me! I'll put you in your place if you don't!" the man who looked like Torman yelled at Monique.
Monique pulled her arm away and when he went to grab it again, she yanked it the other way opening him up. She pushed him backwards and onto the floor grabbing his phone.
"Don't you touch me or I'll call the Police and have you charged with assault." she said as she began dialing.
"Hello. Heylyn. It's me. We need to talk. I need somewhere to stay..." Monique began to cry.
"It's alright sweetie. Just come over. Take a cab if you need to and I'll cover it if you don't have the money. Is that creep hurting you? I'll come over and get you if you want? We'll talk for a bit tonight too if you need to. Do you want me to call the cab? Maybe the Police?" Heylyn spoke on the other end of the phone.
"Could you? If I don't show up in an hour then call the Police. I'll be there shortly." Monique said to Heylyn.
"I'll be expecting you soon." Heylyn told her and then hung up.
Monique gestured to the little girl towards the bedroom and she smiled and complied. Monique gathered the things that she did not want to leave behind as she'd never be returning to him or this place again.
"Don't worry. I think its going to be better for you and that you're going to have lots of fun. Even when you work it will be fun!" little Ai Yuanlin Ying said to Monique.
"I know it will. I feel better already." Monique emptied the drawer into her knapsack before going to the bathroom to get her make-up and supplies.
Torman came walking down the hall to the bathroom.
"Did you think that I was going to make it that easy?" he said boldly and confidently holding a gun in front of him.
"No, I didn't to tell you the truth." Monique said.
Torman shook his head, for Monique had changed from an attractive and beautiful woman into a small child. She stood beside another child.
"Let's go." the little Monique said to Ai.
"Yes. Let's!" Ai agreed.
Torman held the gun on them unable to fire.
"No. Don't leave. I'll shoot. Really. I will. Don't do it!" Torman said to them shaking as he did.
"We're leaving. Goodbye." the little Monique struggled with the knapsack before Ai helped her with it.
Ai reached up to open the door and Torman fired at the wall just beside Ai's head.
"Mister. You shouldn't play with those guns. You could get hurt!" she said to him ignoring the gaping hole in the wall beside her.
"Don't forget to finish the dinner before it gets too cold. Goodbye. Don't ever call me." the little Monique said as she stepped out the door with the little Heylyn.
"Nooooooooooooooo!" Torman screamed as the two little girls left.
The apartment around him started to shudder as it and the entire universe folded inward onto him. He was no more in Monique.
A moment later the air was crashing around their ears and Heylyn no longer struggled against Monique.
"I'm so sorry Heylyn! Honest." Monique said to her friend.
"It's Ok. Really. Let's get Alicia!" she yelled.
Monique phased into a streaming beam of light and was instantly at Alicia's position just before she impacted. She materialized catching Alicia and redirecting their momentum harmlessly away from the ground. They swooped back up to meet Heylyn in the air.
They found a patch of brush with a clearing to gather themselves.
"And now, we are three." Alicia said to Heylyn and Monique in a grateful gesture to both of them.
"We have to get Valkyra away from that monster." Monique said to Heylyn, looking to Alicia for a supporting vote.
"There isn't time." Heylyn told the two of them.
"How do you know?" Monique came back quick for revenge still feeling very much violated.
"A little girl named Warai. The children. The classroom. They let me know... I can't explain now. We have to hurry, there isn't much time." Heylyn urged them.
"We're only three minutes away. We need to storm the place and now." Heylyn grabbed onto Alicia and set off into the air her wings opening majestically as she did.
Monique phased to an immaterial light form and accelerated quickly catching up to and over taking Heylyn as they approached Mr. Zek's estate.
Not far behind, Torman/Valkyra, Hugh Mongus and Moller made their way to the same destination flying on a moving wave of compressed air Moller had created. The only way to travel he thought.
Torman was only thinking of one thing. Getting rid of Zek and taking over his empire.
"Hostile Takeover is in the house." he mused from behind Valkyra's eyes.
Epilogue: The Gem
Amy (Ai Mei) Wong
Ghastly (not to be confused with DJ of the same name)
Brian Joseph Johns
Special Thanks (in no particular order)Miranda Kwok
Helen Yi Chen
Princess Margaret University Health Network
Johns Hopkins Medicine
Sick Kids Hospital
World Health Organization
Nellie's (Women's Shelter, Education And Advocacy)
Shaolin Temple Quanfa Institute
Canadian Goju Karate Association (Toronto)
Eagle Tae Kwon Do
YMCA (for their first Tae Kwon Do program in the 1970s)
Doctor Roberta Bondar
Stan Lee (who it unfortunately seems is being picked clean by vultures)
The Province Of Ontario
The City Of Toronto
My parents Rita Johns and David Schindler. My brother Darryl, his wife and my sister (in-law) Kerri, their martial artist sons Jake and Carter. My brother Andy and his Mother Pat. My other brother Darrell (Haines). My brother Steve Sampson. My sistern Marina Av. My brother Brian Kwok. My brother Joel Farinha. My brother Sean Hopton. My brother Pete Borov. My brother Miles Hutcherson. My brother Aaron Wallace and his wife Karen. My brother Bruce Richardson. My brother Phil Thomson. My brother Dielon McIsaac. Lillian Fries. Lianne Margaret. Louise Lillyfeld. Jasmine Lee. Dawn and Tracey. Katrina ?. Jackie and Penny. Nicole. The rest of my family.
Continued in The Butterfly Dragon: Valkyra's Deal