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The Phoenix Initiative – Chapter 15

Written by papayoya1 :: [Friday, 28 February 2020 20:55] Last updated by :: [Saturday, 29 February 2020 14:15]

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Chapter 15

Adam Tatum smiled as he walked towards the podium, enjoying the startled faces of representatives and senators as they half-heartedly clapped him. He was not one of them. And he owed his meteoric rise in politics to having used that fact over and over again.

Two years ago, he was barely known to the general public. His success in business and his ultra-nationalistic political ideas had given him some popularity in smaller circles, but to most people, he was nobody. Today, he was President of the most powerful country on Earth.

His campaign had ridden the wave of nationwide commotion over what was known as the Phoenix events. His messages of strong leadership, often skirting close to a fascist agenda, hit the right buttons. And the election had turned out to be a landslide, making him the first independent President in the country’s history.

Neither Democrats nor Republicans could stand him. And he took great joy in giving them as hard a time as possible as often as possible. Today, the first anniversary of the appearance of the Phoenix girls in Santa Isabel, was one of those occasions.

Congress had not been able to deny him a joint session when he had practically demanded it on his weekly address to the nation. He had announced decisive measures for the country’s national security. And he had made sure that no representative or senator had a clue about what those measures would be, making them incredibly weary about being forced to support an agenda they did not know about.

He reached the podium and smiled, clearing his throat before he started his speech.

“Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of Congress, my fellow Americans,” he started. “One year ago, our nation was shocked, amazed and appalled. In the wake of an earthquake that hit the great city of Santa Isabel, we were shocked to discover that the transformation four women, the so-called Phoenix, had occurred. They showed up to join the relief effort and we were instantly amazed. Amazed at their strength. Amazed at their resilience. Amazed at their physical change.”

President Tatum stopped to take a sip of water from the glass on the podium. He then scanned the audience and went on.

“Our enthusiasm increased with every feat they accomplished, but we were deceived. We were lied to. We were not told about the women’s true nature. And when we found out, when we discovered that rather than heroes the Phoenix were monsters, it was already too late. And then we were appalled at the death and destruction they could unleash.”

Tatum stopped another second to let his words sink in.

“Hundreds of our fellow Americans paid with their lives. And it was only because our military, our government did not have the guts to do what was needed. We had had these women under our control, we nursed them while they grew their powers. And we were too soft to do the logical thing. We did not finish them when we should have. And then we paid the price. For as long as I have the privilege to lead this country, I solemnly swear that we won’t make a mistake like this again!”

Adam stopped, drinking some more water as he enjoyed the startled faces in the audience. He was not expecting a warm reception, but he was not talking to them. He was speaking to the millions of people watching him from home.

“We killed the worst of them. Nicole Keilani is dead. But in the process, we lost the other three women. My predecessor did not do anything about it, exposing the nation to the worst possible threat. During my campaign, I pleaded for that shameful negligence to be dealt with. We armed our police forces with the right weapons to stop the Phoenix. We trained them to face their threat. And today, Susan Simpson, Jennifer Watson and Nathalie Baptiste are hiding in a hole, knowing for a fact that their lives will end the moment they decide to crawl out. But that is not enough! My promise to the American people was not to keep the monsters hiding. I promised to finish the threat they pose. And it is for this reason, that today I want to announce the creation of a new federal agency with the sole purpose of hunting and terminating the three Phoenix that are currently at large. Later today, I will pass an executive order for the creation of the Office of Threat Containment.”

A few congressmen started clapping. They did not manage to convince the majority to join them. Adam just kept smiling, giving them enough time to let the idea sink in. It was time to up the ante. After all, this had only been the warm-up.

“This last year we have learned a great deal about ourselves as a nation. We learned the risks of our naiveté, but also the strength of our resolve and the limitless possibilities of our union. In the process, we learnt about others, too. We confirmed who our enemies were. And we learned that we had less friends than we thought. We have been called liars. After losing hundreds of our comrades, we have had to hear over and over again that we created the Phoenix girls through some sort of military experimentation program. Some countries have cut diplomatic ties with us. Others have called for economic sanctions. To all of them and to you I tell you this: I am fed up.”

He drank some more.

“I am fed up with them. Fed up with the ingratitude of those we saved from starving, of those we protected from the threat of communism, and of those that have been taking advantage of our great nation for too long. They need us. But we do not need them. It is time we show them. It is time we leave the United Nations.”

President Tatum suppressed a smile as he saw the shock his words had caused in the congressmen. He was enjoying the moment enormously. He was about to continue when a commotion in the back of the room made him frown. How dare anyone interrupt his speech?

He was trying to find the source of the agitation when six Secret Service agents rushed towards the podium.

“What the fuck?” Tatum said, the microphone still open.

“Mr. President, please, follow us.”

*=*=*=*=*=*=*

Lieutenant Davis lazily leaned against the BMR as he looked at DC from his position practically at the foot of the stairs of Congress. Capitol Hill had been fortified with thousands of army men, almost as if the country were in a state of war. His unit had been assigned to the upper ring, the one closest to the massive Congress building, while a lower ring prevented anything from getting even so near as the slope leading up to it.

Davis could tell his men were as bored as him, but he could think of many worse assignments than this, so he just exhaled and kept looking.

It did not take long for everything to go to hell. It started as a series of isolated cracking sounds. He immediately recognized them for what they were: automatic rifles being shot in the distance. It did not take long for the cacophony to increase. The radio static broke an instant later, but the yells coming through it were unintelligible.

The calm and boredom had ended abruptly. Davis turned to see the sudden tension in his men. He hurried to look through the scope of his rifle, using its magnification to get a better view of whatever the hell was happening.

He saw her soon enough. She was tall, voluptuous and fit, her muscles defined like those of a fitness model. Her attire, a pair of skimpy and tight-fitting black shorts and a matching and overly stretched top did not leave too much to the imagination. He would have found her attractive if it had not been for her freakish size. The woman was getting close to his comrades, standing at least two heads taller than them. Davis did not need to see the emblem of the bird in a fiery circle to know what she was: a Phoenix girl.

She was smiling confidently. Davis felt a chill running down his spine when he saw what was happening. A group of four soldiers was shooting at her with their M4’s, but the barrage was completely ineffective. Of course, he had already seen this on TV, almost a year before, but it was as hard to believe now as it had been back then.

The girl reached his comrades soon enough. Two of them turned to flee. They never made it. Her long arm swept in a wide arch and caught them both in her backhand, sending their bodies flying dozens of feet before they landed in awkward positions. The two remaining soldiers were soon lifted off the ground by their throats, the girl holding them as if it were no effort at all. He could see her lips moving just before they curled in a smirk and she moved her arms backwards, tossing the two soldiers over her shoulder, sending them over the line of trees.

Lieutenant Davis realized that he was shaking and tried to control it before his men noticed. Of course, the only purpose for the military display was the eventuality that the Phoenix girls would show up. No one had thought they would, in any case. By now, the country was convinced that they would remain in hiding until they were finally found and brought down. The opposition had claimed that the only reason President Tatum had mobilized so many assets had been to make one of his beloved shows of strength.

And yet, here they were. It took Davis a couple more seconds to realize what the bigger problem was. There was no doubt the girl he was looking at through his scope, the girl who had just killed four of his comrades, was a Phoenix. The problem was that she was not one of the Phoenix girls he knew. Her olive skin, jet black hair and deep blue eyes left no room for doubt. The only resemblance she held with Jennifer Watson, Nathalie Baptiste and Susan Simpson was her size and strength.

It was then that Lieutenant Davis realized that the cracking sounds of the rifles in the distance had not stopped. His hand shook as he reached for the scope of his rifle and reduced the magnification. And then, his blood froze. For the girl he had seen was not alone. She was one of several dozen similarly sized and dressed women that were charging the lower ring and were about to overwhelm it in seconds.

What the hell? Where had all these super-sized and super-strong women had come from? Everyone had known that after Keilani’s death there were only three of them left, right? Then, the right question finally settled in his mind: how did someone fight a threat like that?

He controlled the urge to panic and breathed in hard. Then, he looked up at the railgun mounted on top of the BMR and addressed his men in the best commanding voice he could muster:

“Man the gun!”

*=*=*=*=*=*=*

Adriana could not believe how much her life had changed in such a short time. Three months ago, she had been in a hole so deep that thinking about ever getting out of it was dreaming. She would have never thought that life could get any harder than in the slums in Tegucigalpa, but her short experience in the United States has proven her wrong.

Back home, all she had wanted to do was leave. Nothing could be worse than the place where she had been raised. It turned out she was wrong. They helped her get into the States. Of course, she had known that her physical appearance had had something to do with it. She would have never imagined that it would turn her into a slave, victim of the same type of violence she had grown up with, but with even less freedom. Adriana had sold her body before. It had been different, though. The way she saw it, her body was not even hers to sell anymore.

Miguel had not been the first person she had killed. Back in Tegucigalpa she had had to protect herself and her family. Twice. She knew how to use a knife. But she also knew that she had killed the wrong person. Her “guard” had been as despicable as it got, but it did not matter. The moment she had stabbed him in the heart, Adriana had known that her life was forfeit too. And then, when she had thought that all that was left for her was to wait for the Picos to kill her, they had found her.

She would have thought they were full of shit if they had not brought her to the doctor. She had changed her mind right away. It was hard not to believe, standing in front of a woman the size of a wardrobe who lifted a car with one hand as a demonstration.

Of course, Adriana had heard about the Phoenix before. She had forgotten about them as quickly as the news had faded away, though. Her life was too messed up to care about the rest of the world. So, she needed some time to process the proposal when they offered her to convert her into one of them.

And here she was, three months later, turned into something else. Into something amazing. Adriana had been a beautiful woman before. She was a creature of wonder now. Practically two and a half meters tall, she had become exponentially more voluptuous. She flexed her arm as she moved, smiling as she observed her biceps bulge. Adriana could feel the amazing strength flowing through her body with every single move she made. And she was eager to use it.

They had been fair with her. They had been transparent. She knew she was a grunt. How could she aspire to more, considering how bright some of the women she had met were? But she also knew she had an important role to play in the future of humanity. And she had the right skillset for the job.

One thing Adriana appreciated about the doctor was that she was not foolish. She was idealistic when it came to the end goal, but she also had the necessary pragmatism to know that the journey would not be a walk in the park. They were about to change the world. And, for starters, the world did not want to be changed. Violence would be necessary. And she was perfectly comfortable with it.

Adriana thoroughly enjoyed the look of shock on the soldiers at the base of Capitol Hill when she came into view, along with dozens of her new comrades. They were girls from different origins, now united in one goal. Adriana did not know them all. They had kept them separated in small groups on purpose. Secrecy and security had been paramount. They were not transformed until the very end. By now, Adriana had had less than forty-eight hours to get used to her new condition. She felt it would not matter at all.

The soldiers aimed their rifles at her as soon as she got close enough for them to realize what she was. They yelled some desperate warning. She simply ignored them and kept on walking confidently, smiling at them as she pushed her chest out.

They did not give her a second warning. Their rifles started shooting right away. It was fantastic! She had already been shot at the day before, during her accelerated training to becoming a Phoenix, her coaching to be a superwoman. It was even more exhilarating now. The men standing a few dozen yards away from her were trained soldiers in the world’s most powerful army. They were shooting at her with what looked like powerful rifles. And all she could feel was some inconsequential tapping in her skin as the bullets ricocheted from it.

She could not prevent letting out a loud laugh as she continued to advance. To their credit, the soldiers kept shooting for as long as it was humanly possible. They had to realize the futility of it all sooner or later, though. Fear took over them once they did. Adriana secretly enjoyed their reaction. When she saw that two of them were turning to flee, she also decided that she could not have that.

The plan was complex, but her instructions had been simple. She and the other women had to break the line of defense to Congress. And they had to make it shocking.

The Doctor had been considerably more precise with some of the other groups. She had been especially insistent on exercising restraint with civilians. She was smart enough to think about the aftermath, and on how much easier things would be if people cooperated.

The soldiers were a different story, though. In the end, this was war. And the US army was on the wrong side of it. The Doc wanted to show the world the futility of resisting them. She wanted to make it spectacular. And she wanted to make it quick. It was tough luck for the jarheads, but then again, Adriana was sure they would be trying anything they could to kill them too. For one, she was not going to feel guilty that the balance of power was so much in their favor.

Adriana’s feet cracked the asphalt as she broke into a sprint, covering the eighty yards that separated her from the fire squad that had been shooting at her in two seconds. The four men stopped shooting and looked up at her in awe. She smiled back at them and swept her left arm, catching the two soldiers that had been turning in her backhand.

Adriana realized right away that she had been too forceful. She could feel their bodies breaking as her forearm impacted them. She was pretty sure that they were dead long before they landed a few dozen feet away.

Rather than feeling guilty, she moaned in delight at the casual test of her new strength. The remaining two soldiers did not share her enthusiasm and let out a panicked shriek, now too afraid to keep shooting at her. Adriana looked back at them and reached with both hands, closing her soft but oversized fingers around their throats and lifting the men in the air, their weight practically inconsequential as she held them a couple of feet off the ground, facing her excited deep blue eyes.

“It is rude to shoot at women,” she said in her thick Spanish accent.

They tried to say something. They could not. Her fingers were compressing their windpipes jut too much. Adriana smirked at them. And then, she threw them over her shoulders, sending their bodies flying over the treetops.

God, this was amazing! The years of running, the years of feeling threatened, the years of not fitting in… they were gone. She felt so damned powerful! It was as if she could take over the world. And, in essence, she could. Only not alone.

She was distracted from her train of thought when a bullet harmlessly bounced off her forehead. She turned to look at the source of the shot but could not find it. Still, it was not so hard to figure out.

Adriana walked towards the jeep at a brisk pace. The vehicle looked smallish as she stood by it, but then again, this was happening to her with everything else in the world as she looked at it from her new perspective. She was positive the shot had come from this direction, so there was no doubt regarding where the shooter was hiding.

Adriana simply crouched and brought one hand underneath the rear wheel arch, getting a good grip on the jeep. She then stood up, lifting the back of the vehicle with ease with one hand as she maneuvered the other to take a hold of the metal in the front wheel arch. Once she did, she had enough leverage to lift the vehicle over her hear in one swift movement.

It was so damn easy! She was holding a military jeep that had to weigh some two tons and she was barely straining! She had already known that she should be able to do it, but doing it was so much better! She was so fucking strong!

Much as expected, the soldier that had shot at her had been lying behind the car. She smiled at his sudden fear, now exposed to the woman he had shot at, a woman that could lift a car from the ground as if it were a balloon.

“Have you never lifted one of these?” she mocked. “Here, try!”

Adriana dropped the jeep on the man without warning. The squishing sound made his fate evident enough. God! She was so different from them now!

She was still wearing a wide smile in her face when she looked up and saw that her business with the jeep had brought her close to where Heather was dealing with a full platoon of men. She had met her back in training, even before they had been enhanced. She had been a police officer in L.A., until she had been expelled for being too trigger happy. They had quickly bonded.

She observed as her brown-haired friend punched a man through his head and realized that she had not been kidding when she had confessed that she was too prone to violence. It took her a full minute to finish the seven remaining men. Adriana watched the show with delight and admiration, trying to learn some tricks to use herself.

“Hey, Heather! That was top class!” she said, raising her voice in the way she had learned she could.

Her friend turned to her and smiled before bowing like a performer at the end of a show. And then, she stood back up and shrieked. It took Adriana a second to associate the crimson splash in Heather’s chest with what it had been: a shot that had ended her life. Her comrade’s massive body immediately collapsed to the ground.

Adriana did not understand. She instinctively looked uphill, her enhanced eyes settling on a large sci-fi looking gun mounted on the top of some sort of tank. It was aiming straight at her. She did not know which type of instinct made her jump out of the way. But it saved her life. The ground where she had been standing exploded with the high-velocity impact of a railgun shot. By the time it did, Adriana’s heavy body had landed two-dozen feet away.

*=*=*=*=*=*=*

“What the hell is going on?” President Tatum said as the tall, muscular and dark suited men of his Secret Service detail pushed him into a room.

“We’re under attack, Mr. President,” the agent in charge replied in a cold, sure tone.

“Attack?” Tatum said, visibly disconcerted.

Which sort of attack could they be referring to? His Secretary of Defense had shielded the area. And he had tripled the usual Secret Service detail to make sure that there could be no hidden threat.

“Phoenix women, sir,” the man replied, not losing an ounce of firmness.

Phoenix women? What the fuck? Had Susan Simpson and the other two women finally decided to come out into the light? Adam felt a moment of uneasiness, but then remembered that they had also got prepared for the eventuality. Capitol Hill featured the highest concentration of railguns in history. If the women decided to charge their way into Congress they would end up dead. He looked through the corner of his eye to see the four men in his security detail armed with the bulky weapons and sighed.

President Tatum was incredibly upset at having been interrupted in the middle of his speech, but maybe it was for the best. If his men ended up killing the Phoenix girls, he would end up delivering on his promise in a matter of hours.

“Fuck them!” he spat. “Take care of the three oversized bitches and let’s get done with this charade once and for all!”

“You don’t understand, sir. There are dozens of them,” the lead agent came back with the same flat tone.

Dozens? What the hell was he talking about? It was then that he started hearing the distant cracking sounds and realized that the soldiers outside were shooting everything they had. What the hell was going on? This could not be true.

“Marine One is coming. It will land in two minutes. We need to get you out of here, sir,” the agent said, filling the silence.

A massive explosion made the room shake. Dust rained from the ceiling as Adam Tatum tried to regain his footing. The agent that had been keeping him up to date tapped into his earpiece. For the first time since everything had started, he looked worried.

“We need to go now,” he said.

“Where?” Tatum asked, now sounding uncertain.

“Marine One is no longer an option. We need to find somewhere to hide, sir.”

*=*=*=*=*=*=*

The thick trunk of the oak groaned as Eva Roark rested her massive weight on it as she leaned, observing the Shock and Awe part of the operation with satisfaction. Even after six months, she was still amazed at just how much detail she could make out of everything that was going on in the battlefront, even at great distances. It was one of the less obvious but more useful benefits of her transformation.

Eva clenched her fists, feeling astronomical amounts of raw strength surging through her body, and smiled, reinforcing her belief that she had made the right decision. Nicole Keilani had to die. But after everything she had learned about the Phoenix transformation, she had also been convinced that it would have been a shame to see it fade or, worse, be turned into a weapon. It was hard to believe that it had been almost a year. They even had to rush the final part of the preparations, but Tatum’s Congress speech was too much of an opportunity to let pass.

Thinking back on the moment when it all had started, Eva reflected that it was ironic that the only one of the girls that had really understood what had happened to them had been Nicole. It was a pity that, aside from being so smart, she had also had such a psychopathic streak. Eva did not want to imagine a world where the former lawyer would have had the sort of power that was now flowing through her veins. It had been close. Thankfully, she had anticipated her plans. And thankfully, the coin she had flipped with Susan Simpson had landed on the right side.

Eva scanned the area, quickly finding her partner in crime. She was standing almost on the opposite side of the battlefield, flanked, as had become customary, by the only other woman in the world, aside from Eva, who shared her height and strength. With long dark blonde hair, pale skin and an even more voluptuous body than Susan, Madison McDonald, formerly known as subject 214, was lovingly wrapping her arms around Susan’s shoulders from behind.

The two had become inseparable almost from the moment Madison had woken up. Susan had saved her life twice, and Madison practically worshipped her. As soon as both had realized that they shared the same sexual orientation, things had flowed incredibly quickly, up to the point where Eva had been convinced that the only reason Susan had asked her to further enhance Madison had been so that they could love each other safely.

Eva had known that bringing Madison into the fold was a risk, but she had not hesitated to do what she had been asked to. Susan was the key to it all, and her happiness was more important than any risk.

Eva had had to wait longer to get her chance, but it had also been part of the plan. She wanted Susan to trust her before pushing her plans forward, and she had decided right from the start that she was willing to risk everything in exchange for that. After all, for the first time in her life, Eva was working for something greater than her, even if her plans ended up implying that she would become one of the three most powerful people on the planet.

Eva smiled as she observed her new partner from the distance. Seeing the redhead’s concentrated look at what was happening at the base of Capitol Hill, she could not help but think about how much she had matured in merely twelve months. There was no trace of the shy, insecure and angry girl she had known when she had first arrived in Fort Exeter. The knowledge of what Sully was really doing, the time with Nicole, the decision to let her die and the rescue of Jennifer and Nathalie had forced her to grow up in days. Madison’s adoration had added what had been missing to make her rise to the challenge she had been presented with: to become a leader. And here she was, overseeing an assault from a group of women who practically worshipped her.

Eva could never fit that role. And she did not want to. She was happy being the brains behind it all, but the way she saw it, she was an outsider. Susan was the only one with the legitimacy to claim what they had come to claim, especially since Nathalie and Jennifer had given up on it.

Eva turned her attention back to the very one-sided battle. They had chosen their shock troops carefully. But they had been upfront with them. They had been looking for women that were compatible with Sully’s procedure and that shared three characteristics: they had to feel comfortable with violence, they had to be cold enough and smart enough not to get drunk on it and they had to be fine with accepting orders. Aside from that, they also had to share their vision, of course, which, more often than not, had ended up leading them to women who had seen their lives go south. Even today, Eva was surprised about how many candidates they had managed to find.

Of course, they had not done all the work themselves. That’s where the more qualified members of their new society had come in. Eva Roark had had one of the best phonebooks in the country, which had allowed her to cherry pick the researchers, investigators and leaders that would help them mold the new world order she dreamed of.

Even if Susan and she had been careful not to foster anything that could look like a caste system, they had also been clear about everyone’s role. The frontal assault to Congress was not the place for their more skilled members. Eva had been transparent about the risks it implied and the women they had chosen to lead it had accepted being perfectly aware of them.

Of course, Eva realized the implicit manipulation in what they had done. The women that were now conducting the attack had mostly had pretty tough lives. They had had nothing to lose, so there had really been no risk of them not accepting what had been offered: the power of a superwoman and a prominent spot in the new society that was about to be built. What was a slim risk to their lives compared to that? 

Looking at their attitudes on the battlefield, it was obvious that none of them were regretting their choice. The women were enjoying their newfound power very much. And they were making short work of the massive army display at the base of Capitol Hill. Eva had known that their assault would quickly turn into a bloodbath, but had chosen to go ahead, nonetheless. It was needed. And they were soldiers, after all. This was war. And use of force was legitimate. If anything, the fact that the damned bigot Tatum had chosen to park so many troops for show would help them to accelerate their plans. Eva had always known that they would need to shock the nation for its people to willingly submit. So, the instructions she had given to their newly created army had been clear on this front.

The distant sound of a helicopter rotor took her out of her train of thought. Her enhanced sight allowed her to quickly find the characteristic shape of the presidential aircraft in the distance. Eva had once taken a ride in the Marine One. Memories of its comforts came back to mind as she mentally measured the distance to it.

Things were unfolding pretty much as expected. Their experts in the President’s security protocol had told them that the Secret Service would activate the helicopter as the means for the President’s escape, once they realized that any attempt to flee on the ground would lead them through a battle zone. From there, they would bring him to Air Force One and its relative safety.

Eva turned and found Susan’s deep green eyes already looking at her. The redhead nodded. Leaning behind her, Madison winked at her as she smiled. The blonde was considerably more playful than their de-facto leader. Eva knew what it meant. It was her turn.

She stood up from her leaning position, relieving the old oak from the torture of having to hold her massive weight. She looked down and flexed her arms, feeling a fraction of the tremendous strength she possessed coming to life. Even now when she understood the process better than anyone else in the world, Eva was still amazed at what she had become. Over ten feet tall and weighing in excess of twenty-thousand pounds, she was more than certain that her body encompassed way more power than any the army force stationed between them and Congress could muster.

Eva had always been fit and good looking, but her former self was merely a hint of what she had become. Not a fan of being unnecessarily humble, Eva recognized herself for what she was: a goddess. The transformation had amplified her natural hourglass figure, flattened her already fit stomach, made her already generous chest swell to unbelievable proportions and defined every single muscle in her body beyond what was imaginable. There was no trace of any wrinkle, of any freckle, of any imperfection. Her deep blue eyes dominated a face that no one would have thought was older than thirty, far from the forty-eight years she had really lived.

And yet, her physical appearance was only the tip of the iceberg. Eva crouched, reaching for the massive boulder she had saved for the occasion. About the size of a car, it only took her one hand to lift it over her head as if it had been made of foam. It was then a matter of turning and seeking out her victim. She found it soon enough. Marine One was closer to the Congress building than to her, but this was as close as it was going to get.

Her eyesight, nervous system and muscles coordinated perfectly, so when Eva flicked her wrist, the massive piece of granite was shot at supersonic speeds in a trajectory that intercepted that of the chopper precisely where she had intended. It was not merely an explosion. Fueled by massive amounts of kinetic energy, the boulder practically disintegrated the helicopter, finishing what had been the only means of escape for President Tatum. Thoroughly satisfied, Eva smiled. She turned to see how their women were easily marching through the defenses, tightening the knot on the massive marble-clad building.

She let out a chuckle under her nose. Things were going even better than planned. It would take them mere minutes to have the entire United States leadership trapped. This was the first, very important, step in her plans.

It had taken Eva some time to fully understand the situation, back in Fort Exeter. She had been called in to ensure a means to kill the Phoenix girls, and she had flown in with every intention to make it happen. This had not been her ultimate goal, of course. Her intentions had been as plain as General Lindbergh had guessed: she had wanted to kick him out and take control of the project to make soldiers, replicating the process that had turned four hapless girls into superwomen.

Eva had had a record for getting the job done. And she would not have been surprised to find out that she was considered ruthless. And still, there was quite some distance between Lindbergh and Sully and her when it came to their moral compasses.

She had seen Jennifer and Nathalie for what they were: two doomed girls that were trying their best to live the new lives they had been given while helping others in the process. Susan had been more of a mystery, especially after she had joined Nicole, but Eva had been convinced that there was something in her, and that it was not evil. It was just the need to be herself.

And then it had all clicked into place. Suddenly, Eva had stopped seeing the Phoenix girls as an anomaly to be treated or replicated for shady uses.  She had realized exactly what the Sun had really done. The Flare had unlocked the full potential of humanity, and it had shown it to them in the form of four very different young women. Four women that were desperately trying to find their place while embodying the future of humanity.

Eva finally grasped the potential. She understood the massive leap mankind could take with the knowledge she now had. And she envisioned what she had to do.

Nicole Keilani had to die. She was too much of a wild card, someone who would only seek the power for her own benefit and indulgence. Someone that would make the world a living hell. Eva also realized that Jennifer and Nathalie would not lead. This left her with one option: Susan Simpson, the girl that was striving to find her place. Eva had shown it to her. And the girl had grown up at an accelerated pace to take the position.

For the first time in her life, Eva had done something without knowing if she would benefit from it. And still, when Susan had asked her to join Madison and her, it had been the happiest moment in her life.

Her thoughts were interrupted by an anguished sound coming from the battlefront, close enough to her position. Eva turned in time to see one of their girls, a young woman named Heather, drop to the ground with a nasty wound in her chest. She scanned the area, finding the BMR-mounted railgun soon enough. A few more heartbreaking screams told her that Heather was not the only victim of the heavy weaponry the army had finally brought into the game.

It was time to join the fight.

*=*=*=*=*=*=*

Colonel Raymond Beck cursed as he was slowed down by yet another instance of systems for different intelligence agencies not working well with one another. Having a master password for all of them was great, but he did not even want to think about how many hours he had wasted over the last twelve months because the spooks did not seem to know how to work with each other.

His original assignment had been easy enough. He had to find Susan Simpson, Jennifer Watson and Nathalie Baptiste. After three months of shooting in the dark, Beck had found a much more interesting thread to pull.

Truth be told, he had always been especially annoyed by the fact that Eva Roark had disappeared at the same time as Susan Simpson, and it had not only been because of their personal relationship. If he had learned anything about her over the years he’d known her, it was to assume that nothing she did was a coincidence.

So, when people directly or indirectly related to Dr. Roark started to mysteriously drop off the radar, Raymond knew that something was going on. It had not happened for a while. And whoever had planned it had taken great care to cover their tracks. But relevant people were disappearing. And he knew there was a reason for it. Especially when he started analysing the profiles: scientists, weapons specialists, law enforcement investigators, lobbyists and DC operators. Some had simply left their jobs and moved to another country. Others had taken extended sick leave. A few had disappeared without a trace. But the pattern was clear.

And finally, when dozens of them disappeared in the span of two weeks, Raymond realized that whatever was going to happen was going to happen soon. He had not slept much these last few days, working against the clock to find the key. So, he was a little jumpier than usual when his neighbor started screaming.

“Oh my God! Oh my God!”

Raymond quickly identified the loud sound of the TV upstairs and realized that whatever it was that was shocking him came from it. He felt a shiver running down his spine when an instinct told him that he was about to get the answer to his queries. He rushed to his living room and switched on the large screen on the wall. His blood froze when he saw the images of Phoenix girls. Of dozens of Phoenix girls fighting the helpless troops that were stationed around Capitol Hill, getting closer and closer to their objective.

“Oh, fuck!” he muttered.

He had known that Eva was devious. He had refused to believe that what he was seeing would be a possibility. He was still starting to process the images on the screen when a loud crash made him turn to the entrance to his apartment. One moment, the heavy armored door was there, and the next it was laying on the floor, practically ripped in half.

He recognized the figure standing on the other side of the opening for what it was right away. After all, there weren’t many possibilities when one saw a woman who was even taller than the doorframe. Raymond Beck would have thought that he could not be more surprised when the Phoenix woman stooped to get through the opening, and he recognized her beautiful and slightly childish features.

“Hello, Ray!” she said in a cheerful tone.

“Naomi?” he asked.

Of course it was her. He would have recognized Eva’s former assistant anywhere. Strikingly beautiful, the young blonde woman had been the only one to know that Eva and him were dating, back in the days where he had worked at DARPA. And she had had a lot of fun at their expense, while keeping the secret from anyone else.

“You still remember me!” the woman, who was closer to her thirties than her attitude revealed, replied with a warm smile. “I was afraid that you wouldn’t recognize me, with the extra weight,” she joked as she patted her perfect tummy.

Raymond hesitated. His eyes betrayed him as they shot a glance to the gun in his desk. Naomi frowned when she realized.

“Really? I thought you liked me!” she said, sounding annoyed. “Besides, it is not as if that peashooter would do you any good.”

Of course, she was right.

“Sorry, old customs die hard,” he replied apologetically. Whatever it was that was going to happen, it would be whatever Naomi wanted to happen.

Seeing her had removed any doubts he could have had about the fact that Eva was behind it all. And still, the fact that she had sent her former assistant was a relief in the sense that he did not think that Eva would have chosen Naomi if she had meant to remove him from the equation.

The blonde girl seemed a bit more relaxed with his apologies, so she smiled again as she said:

“Eva’s sorry that she couldn’t come here herself, but she’s kind of busy.”

She pointed at the screen as she apologized on her ex’s behalf.

“I’m devastated. I would never have thought that taking over the country was more important than catching up with a significant other,” Raymond replied, finally resorting to his well-known sarcasm.

Naomi laughed in the same tone he was so used to and he secretly loved so much.

“Well, you know, business before pleasure,” she said.

“So, to what do I owe the pleasure, then?” Raymond asked.

“Eva wants to talk to you,” Naomi replied.

“I figured out that much.”

“So, I’m running her errands, as usual,” Naomi said.

“What if I don’t want to come?” Raymond asked.

“Well… you really don’t have that option,” Naomi said, arching an eyebrow as she shrugged.

Raymond did not need to be a genius to understand.

“I guess I don’t,” he said, sighing. “So, what now?”

“We still have some time, so why don’t we sit down and enjoy the show?” Naomi said, pointing at the screen. “Do you have any snacks?”

*=*=*=*=*=*=*

“So, you used to work here?” Kayla asked with curiosity as they advanced through the large parking lot.

“I was an intern,” Erin replied, shrugging.

“So, what does an intern do in this place?” Kayla insisted.

“I was getting my PhD in molecular physics. They recruited me for a team that was working on a plasma gun,” Erin replied.

Kayla chuckled.

“I would have never figured you for a nerd!”

“I used to wear glasses,” Erin replied, smiling.

Of course, none of the women advancing at steady pace towards the DARPA building looked conventional. Not anymore. And this included Erin. While she had already had a cute face, her skinny frame and mousy attitude had made her pretty unremarkable before her transformation. She now boasted a body any fitness model would kill for, supersized to a height that was only shared by the other women that had been exposed to the effects of the Flare, either naturally or in the lab.

“Did you work for her?” Kayla asked, pointing at Dr. Cross in the front. The blonde woman looked much younger than her forty-nine years of age.

“Both for her and Roark.”

“So, how are they?” Kayla inquired, curious.

“Brilliant. Visionary. And determined.”

“I guess that’s good,” Kayla said.

“It is, when your objective is to change the world,” Erin said with a smile.

The conversation was interrupted right then, when the security guards that had been waiting for them at the building’s entrance could not take it anymore and started shooting their guns at them. They were mostly 9mm handguns, with some rifles added to the mix. Their effects were practically laughable.

Erin could not help but love the sensation of the pellets hitting her exposed skin, compressing until they became nothing more than a coin as they tried to fight its imperviousness, and finally bouncing away in random directions.

She laughed, getting a side look from her new colleague.

“Are you OK? I’m supposed to be protecting you,” Kayla said.

“I’m more than OK,” Erin replied, feeling ecstatic. Of course, she had already been exposed to the marvels of her new condition during the accelerated training, but feeling it live was way more exciting.

“Do you need me to do something?” her comrade asked.

“I’ll take care of them myself, if you don’t mind,” Erin said.

“Be my guest.”

She kept walking towards the entrance, which now was less than fifty yards away, ignoring the continuous fire and the yells of the guards. Her silky brown hair, which she usually tied into a bun, was now flowing free, teased by the breeze, enhancing the contrast with her deep blue eyes.

She was in heaven. Of course, Erin had followed the events in Santa Isabel with the utmost attention. She had marveled at what the Sun had been able to cause in the four women that had survived the Flare. And she had strived to understand it at a scientific level. She would have never imagined that, one day, she would enjoy the same power the original Phoenix girls had had.

Erin had not had any doubts when Dr. Roark had approached her, more than four months ago. How could anyone have doubts when she was offered the possibility to become the next stage in human evolution? And, not only that, Erin also knew that she was going to be the seed of a new society.

She had been frustrated for as long as she could remember. Erin knew she was top one percent, when it came to smarts. And still, it was pointless. Much less worthwhile people than her were calling the shots, and she was powerless to do anything about it. Well, not anymore. Finally, her power matched her intelligence. And soon, both would shape the world. She acknowledged that girls like Kayla were needed, but Erin had no doubts that she was the seed Roark and Cross were looking for, not the bouncer they had sent with her.

She reached the main gate soon enough, surprised that the guards had not tried to flee inside the building. She understood it when she realized that someone had closed the blast doors, trapping them outside with her and her new colleagues. The men were not even military; they were dressed in the light green uniform of the security firm they worked for, and it was obvious that they were now regretting having shot at them.

Erin stopped a few paces ahead of them and widened her stance, bringing her hands to her hips. She was exhilarated at the power she now had over them, looking down on their ridiculous forms from her new towering height.

“I may be bulletproof but I still don’t like being shot at,” she said in a matter-of-fact tone.

The five guards hesitated, clearly not knowing what to do.

“Drop the guns,” she commanded.

She grinned when they obeyed immediately.  

“On your knees!”

Again, they complied. It was too much!

Erin covered the last few steps that separated her from them and stood over their little forms.

“Lick my feet,” she commanded.

This time, they did not obey right away. She was pissed. She had been enjoying their blind obedience so much! Upset, she chose one of the men at random and crouched. The guard shrieked in agony when she closed the fingers of her right hand around his skull and pulled him up like a rag doll.

Erin held the man in front of her face for a couple of seconds, enjoying the terror in his eyes. A look through the corner of her eyes showed him that the other four men were looking up in expectation.

“You can either do as told or leave. Good bye.”

And then, she tossed the man over her shoulder, sending him flying into an arch that reached a peak of a thousand feet.

“Lick,” she repeated in a soft tone.

When the four men started to run their tongues between her toes, the tickles became even orgasmic. She had longed for this kind of power, for this sort of authority for so long! And now it was all hers. She had been top one percent before. Now she was top point zero zero zero zero one. And, by God, she was going to enjoy it!

*=*=*=*=*=*=*

Eva had known that some of the women would die. After all, she had been the one that had proven that Phoenix women were mortal. Or at least, conventional Phoenix women were. Susan, Madison and she had transcended the weaknesses of the original Flare transformation, but she had been able to convince Susan early enough that they should not share their blessing with all the women they enrolled. After all, someone had to keep some degree of control.

The three of them could have defeated the army in minutes. But, while this would have sent a strong message, it would have not been comparable to the images of dozens of their fighters storming the defensive positions at once. The price were a few deaths. It was regretful, but no victory was achieved at no cost.

This did not mean that Eva was not sorry when it happened, in any case. And it certainly did not mean that she was going to let it go on.

Her toes flexed and made the ground shake, creating a ten-foot-deep crater as they impulsed her ultra-dense body into the sky. She landed, ten seconds later, right on the spot she had been aiming, barely a few yards away from the battery that had killed Heather.

A dozen soldiers were knocked off their feet, not able to take the massive shaking of her landing. Eva waited for them to recover with her hands on her hips. And then, she just puckered her lips and blew, sending them flying into the white walls of Congress, splattering them with red.

It still amazed her to this day how she had become so powerful that a mere puff of her breath was able to wreak such havoc, but at the same time she was also perfectly comfortable with the near infinite strength at her disposal. One of her favorite challenges as a scientist had been to calculate the real extent of her power, but no matter how much she refined her model, the real world still managed to surprise her. And to think that it all was a natural evolution of the human gene pool!

Something tapped her forehead and she turned, seeing the barrel of the massive BMR-mounted railgun aimed straight at her. Eva scowled, pissed at the weapon that had caused at least one death among her women. Of course, it had had no effect on her, even if it was only ten yards away and featured a significantly more powerful coil than the one she had used to kill Nicole.

The amazon turned to face the armored vehicle and closed the distance with it in four steps. The fifth she used to draw her leg back and kick the tank with disdain. Her delicate but oversized foot carved in the metal plating as if the BMR had been made of soft clay. An instant later, the heavy vehicle was sent towards the horizon like a football.

Now that she was in the fight, Eva was eager for more, eager to get the battle finished in no time. She scanned her surroundings and found a high concentration of troops to her left. She crouched and punched her fist on the stone floor, smashing it into countless pebbles. A scoop of her oversized hand produced a few dozen of them.

Eva turned towards the unsuspecting men and pointed her flattened palm towards them. Her nostrils had already been breathing in astounding amounts of air into her superhuman lungs, which were now ready to reverse the flow. When the hurricane came, dozens of stone bullets were shot towards her intended victims way faster than any projectile had ever travelled. A second later, they all laid dead on the ground, their bodies torn beyond recognition.

Of course, the women had seen this and were now cheering at her from the bottom of the hill. Eva turned, smiling, and then rallied them with a voice so loud that was heard all the way to Baltimore:

“Charge!”

*=*=*=*=*=*=*

To say that Robin was ecstatic would have been a massive understatement. She had started the year as the nerd of the class, not the most popular girl in high school at all. Cute but skinny and otherwise unremarkable, Robin had never had anything beyond her grades to stand out from the crowd. How things had changed!

Life had been going from good to great ever since she had turned eighteen. She had got the best SAT scores in the country first, had been admitted into the MIT with a full scholarship later and finally, when it seemed that things could not get better, she had been turned into a goddess.

She enjoyed the mesmerized looks of the crowd as she came into view, closely followed by Jamie. Of course, they were very well deserved. Her short, scrawny frame was gone, replaced by the build of an amazon that stood two heads taller than the tallest members of the mob, with each and every muscle in her sculptural figure fit to perfection. Her brown hair, which she had usually worn tied into a bun was now flowing freely, shining more than ever, framing a visage that looked more sensual even if only because it irradiated confidence. Out of every change in her physical transformation, Robin could not deny that the one she enjoyed the most was the massive development of her chest. Having been practically flat before, her bulging breasts made her feel almost as proud as the power that now flowed through her veins.

Robin reached the ramp that gave access to I-495 and jumped. She only flexed her toes to impulse the amazing mass of her new body twenty feet in the air, landing with the grace of a ballerina in the middle of the heavy traffic. Jamie promptly followed.

Cars were already gridlocked by the time she made her appearance. This was not to say that her presence did not cause considerable turmoil. Even in their slow advance, vehicles started to crash into each other and horns started to blare.

Robin let a loud laugh out. She was the cause of it all!

Her mission was simple. As the youngest member of the new Phoenix society she had been tasked with one of the lowest profile and lowest risk missions in their D-day. All Jamie and she had to do was to cut the arteries in and out of DC, to keep the city’s population in. She did not mind. All she wanted to do was to enjoy her new power, to feel it, to experience her superiority over everyone else.

Smiling in anticipation, Robin took a step to the front and crouched, bringing her fingers to the hood of a large sedan that had crashed into the car in front of it. It barely took her a fraction of her strength to move the car backwards, making enough space for her to keep going. It was a simple gesture, but it was enough to make the driver panic.

Robin giggled when she saw him unbuckle himself and open the door in a hurry, ready to get out of the vehicle. Feeling naughty, the newly minted supergirl dug the same fingers that had pushed the car away into the engine block, easily carving it and creating a handle for herself. And then, with the same effort of a girl lifting a rubber float, she moved the car six feet up, catching the driver in the middle of his escape attempt, forcing him to hold to the steering wheel for dear life.

“Leaving already?” she mocked in a voice that easily overshadowed the screams around her.

She could see Jamie looking at her from behind. She was a year older than her but seemed to have accepted her lead without problems.

The fun was rudely interrupted when someone emptied the clip of a gun at her back. On one hand, Robin enjoyed the feeling of pellets hitting her skin, deforming and bouncing without creating any harm. But she hated being attacked. Up to a point, it felt like when the popular girls in her class bullied her for no reason. It made her lose it.

Robin carelessly let go of the car she was holding, sending it crashing down into the same spot in the road she had picked it up from. The vehicle was obviously not designed for this kind of drop, and it broke down into pieces, its four wheels shooting in different directions as the glass shattered and the frame twisted.

Her face reflected her anger as she turned to face her attacker. He was an overweight man in his forties. Her expression, combined with her towering form, were enough to confirm to him that he had made a huge mistake. Up to a point, Robin enjoyed it when the man dropped the gun and turned, ready to flee. That did not suit her. One thing Robin had crystal clear in her mind was that she was not going to let anyone bully her anymore.

The man had not yet taken his first stride when the young amazon stomped her right foot on the ground, sinking it a couple of feet in the asphalt and making her surroundings shake with the intensity of a mild earthquake. It was a simple gesture to her, but enough to unleash chaos. And also enough to throw the man she was targeting off his feet.

By the time he managed to regain his footing, Robin was already upon him. He tried to run once more, but all she had to do was reach out with a hand on his shoulder to grab him in an unbreakable grip.

She loved the moment, the feeling of the man putting every ounce of strength he had in his body into his attempt to flee, but still remaining unable to move a fraction of an inch. Just to show him how helpless he was, and still pissed at having been shot, Robin closed her fingers, crushing his shoulder blade into powder. His anguished shriek pierced the general cacophony, but was like music to Robin’s ears. It was at that precise moment that she realized just how much she enjoyed exercising her superiority. Something wild kicked in inside her, and that was very bad news for everyone else.

Robin ignored the man’s screams and used her grip to turn him around. An instant later, her fingers were closing around his throat. She smiled as she effortlessly lifted him a couple of feet off the ground, holding his screaming form at eye level. She could not prevent a giggle when the man choked as his screams were interrupted by the sudden shock of her piercing glance.

“Do you think it’s nice to shoot a girl?” she asked in a mocking tone that made the man’s blood freeze anyway.

He never got the chance to answer. An almost imperceptible pull made Robin look down to a woman of vaguely the same age as the shooter, who was screaming for her attention. She would not have needed to be a genius to deduce that it was the fucker’s wife. She was in the middle of some sort of pointless plea when Robin placed her free hand on her chest and shoved her over half a dozen cars and out of her sight.

She turned her attention immediately back to the man in her grip, seeing a sudden spike of anger in his otherwise terrified expression. She could not help but laugh.

“Wife, isn’t she?” she asked in mockery.

“I’ll kill you for this!” the man finally let out.

Robin could only laugh again.

“First you would need to be able to at least tickle me!” she said. “Which reminds me… what was all that with the gun about?”

She never let him answer. The man’s words came out as gurgles as she tightened her grip around his throat, preventing the air from getting out clearly.

Robin realized that she was letting herself get carried away, but at that precise moment, she did not see any issue at all with it. Smiling evilly as she kept her gaze fixed on the man, she tightened her grip just another notch, making the man’s face turn red.

“You know? All this having the strength of a god thing is pretty new for me,” she started saying. “So, the truth is that I hadn’t made my mind up about what I was going to do with it. I think you might have given me a pointer or two. For starters, I’m done being mocked, bullied or pushed around. From now on, I’ll be the one doing the bullying.”

She was about to go on, when she saw someone approaching through the corner of her eye. She turned to find the fucker’s wife, much to her surprise. She was visibly limping and looked pretty bruised, but was advancing towards her with what looked like a crowbar.

Robin could not believe just how stupid the fattish woman was. Forgetting about the weightless man she was holding, she focused her attention on the woman, who did not cross a single word with her before hitting her with all her might with the supposedly tough metallic object. Robin barely registered the impact as a slight tap on her ribcage.

Considerably pissed off at the woman’s attitude, the newly minted amazon simply backhanded her. The woman’s body flew considerably farther than a few cars this time. Robin lost sight of her when her corpse started dropping behind some buildings in the distance. If she had not died instantly on impact, she would have never made it through the landing.

An explosion of mixed emotions erupted inside her. She was perfectly conscious of what she had done. And yet, it failed to feel bad. How could it, when she felt so powerful, so liberated. If she was honest with herself, Robin had to acknowledge that she had never felt such a rush in her life before.

A gurgling sound made her shift her focus back to the man she was holding. He was quite obviously enraged. Up to the point where he kicked her in the abs with all his might. Robin simply laughed. And then, as if to confirm what she had just felt, she closed her hand in a fist, crushing the man’s throat and finishing her second life in less than a minute.

“Robin?” Jamie asked, sounding unsure, behind her.

She turned to see that her comrade did not seem to be too convinced about what she had done. How could she not see?

“Follow my lead,” she simply said.

“What?” Jamie asked back.

Robin just hopped a hundred feet forward, easily catching the crowd. An instant later she was holding an obviously occupied car over her head. She smiled at the very shocked crowd and winked just before tossing it a mile into the forest. Her voice shadowed every scream and horn in the vicinity as she addressed them:

“This highway is officially closed. Get back into the city. Anyone trying to get out will need to get through me first!”

*=*=*=*=*=*=*

Erin was taken out of her trance by a tap on her shoulder. She turned, momentarily removed from her bliss, to see Kayla.

“Cross says it’s time,” the other girl said.

“Oh,” Erin replied. Having been able to dominate the guards as she did had sent ripples of pleasure all along her body, bringing her close to orgasm. Now, she was trying to get back to reality.

“Do you want me to take care of them?” Kayla asked.

“What?”

“The guards. What do you want to do?” Kayla insisted.

Of course, they were at their mercy. Curiously enough, Erin was more interested in dominating them than in killing them just for the sake of it.

“I don’t care,” she admitted.

“OK,” Kayla replied.

The four guards looked up. There was fear in their eyes, but also some hope that they could still make it.

Kayla’s foot slammed onto the first one, crushing his torso against the ground with a sickening sound. The other three guards tried to stand up, but the amazon’s reach was too vast. She crushed a skull in either hand before reaching out for the shaking form of the final guard, lifting him two feet of the ground with insulting ease.

Erin arched an eyebrow as she looked at her new colleague.

“I never told you what I did before meeting Cross, right?” Kayla asked.

“No,” Erin admitted. She was surprised at what her comrade had just done, but far from shocked.

“I was in a gang. I was muscle,” Kayla said in a matter of fact tone.

Erin would probably not have guessed. After all, one of the effects of the Flare in women was to neutralize most physical differences, especially the ones caused by very different lifestyles. She had seen the faded-out tattoos in Kayla’s arms, but then again, tattoos were hardly exclusive to criminals these days.

“Interesting,” Erin simply said.

Kayla closed her fingers around the man’s throat, crushing it with an audible sound and letting his corpse drop to the ground.

“It’s so much easier now,” Kayla said with a wink and a smile.

She was the typical profile Cross, Roark and the other ones in charge had recruited as “enforcers”. Erin knew that they hardly needed anyone with expertise when it came to violence to enforce anything. Not anymore. But they were still useful. And she suspected that Roark had planned to have a certain amount of cannon-fodder in their ranks.

Erin had nothing against them. As long as they followed instructions, they were useful.

The two amazons left the bodies behind and advanced towards the main entrance, where Cross and the remaining nine women were already waiting for them.

“You took your sweet time,” the woman in charge said.

“Sorry ma’am,” Erin replied. “I did not realize that my new condition would be so… distracting.”

Elsa Cross frowned, but then let it go.

“We’ve wasted enough time. You two, take point,” she said to her and Kayla.

Erin knew that what they were doing here was important. Otherwise, Roark would not have sent twelve women and one of her lieutenants. Aside from Congress in DC, there were only two other locations that had deserved so much attention: NORAD and the Pentagon.

Kayla moved to the front and faced the armored door.

“This should be easy,” the former gang member said.

Erin stood behind her and observed, like the other ten Phoenix that had come all the way. Kayla reached for the door and felt the steel plates with her fingertips, almost as if caressing them. And then, suddenly, she pushed, her digits sinking into the heavy metal as if it were clay. She kept going until she could start closing her fingers inside the think armored structure, almost carving a handle on it. The door complained with loud metallic groans during the entire process, but this did not stop Kayla from her apparently delicate operation.

“Step aside, please,” she said, almost as a stewardess giving instructions to the passengers in a plane.

The remaining amazons did as told, including Erin. Once she was certain that she had no one behind, Kayla began to pull. The door complained and tried to resist. It was to no avail. The raw strength available to Kayla was considerably higher than the resistance the armored door was designed to withstand. Still, it was astonishing to see the thick door bend on its frame, torn from its position by the apparently limitless power of the woman’s arm.

“Caution!” Kayla said.

The door then flew over her shoulder, travelling all the way along the parking lot and landing with a loud crash at the main entrance gate.

“Open sesame!” Kayla mocked as she turned to face the long corridor that she had opened.

Not an instant after she took the first step, the loud sound of a shot filled the sudden silence. Erin immediately noticed that the bang had been very different from those of the pitiful guns the security guards had been shooting at them. She got worried when the shot was followed by an incredibly loud and anguished shriek from Kayla. Erin’s hair stood on end when Kayla’s blood splattered on her torso.

Her comrade’s body was starting to fall backwards while Erin was trying to make some sense out of the situation. She shot a hand forward, stopping Kayla’s heavy frame from hitting the floor. At the same time she identified the attackers. It was a team of two security guards, dressed in tactical gear and that were operating what seemed to be a large railgun. Some of their colleagues were standing behind them.

Erin felt a mix of emotions filling her, from pity to anger, passing through fear. It was a fear that she had thought she would never feel again. A fear that generated a deep frustration.

She let out a war cry and pushed Kayla’s now dead body as hard as she could. The amazon’s unmoving frame, still weighing thousands of pounds, travelled like a missile, hitting the railgun operators and obliterating them. Eight more security guards had the same fate. In an instant, the entrance was clear.

Erin was about to charge into the building when a hand on her shoulder stopped her.

“You did well,” Elsa Cross said.

“They killed Kayla!” Erin replied, breathing hard, but not because of the exertion.

“She knew it was a risk,” Cross said. Then, she raised her voice and said: “Alpha team, take point!”

Five women stepped to the front and took the lead into the building. Dr. Cross gave them their orders:

“Kill anyone with a security guard uniform or with a weapon. But do not harm the researchers. Beware of any strange looking armament. As we just painfully learned, we are not immortal!”

Erin looked at her and was intimidated by Cross’ deep blue eyes. The doctor, looking way younger than she was thanks to the Flare, raised her eyebrows and said:

“I was willing to spare the guards if they were reasonable. They screwed up their chance.”

The five women that Erin now knew were supposed to be their muscle rushed into the building, splitting and heading in different directions. The screams started soon after.

Cross looked at Erin and said:

“You’ll come with me. Remember, we want the brains alive.”

Erin was more than happy with the instructions. Still, she asked:

“Why?”

“The guys working here are both a threat and an opportunity. We cannot have them research stuff that could potentially harm us. But it would be shortsighted to just get them out of the way. Remember, today is only the first day of our new society. There aren’t so many of us that a bit of help from smart people won’t be useful,” Cross said.

“Or some new members?”

“Who knows?” Cross replied with a smile.

They had already reached the first lab. Cross pushed the door off of its hinges with a light shove. Erin stepped into the room behind her. There were twelve scientists looking at them with very obvious fear.

“Follow our instructions and we won’t harm you,” Elsa Cross said in a matter of fact tone.

None of the researchers replied. Erin observed them. Her eyes soon set on one. She and Kip had gone out or a few months, back when she had worked as an intern. He had not been important enough to make her think twice about her next job offer on the other side of the country when she received it. She was still fond enough of him that seeing him from her new point of view was amusing. He had, of course, recognized her and seemed even more shocked than the rest of people in the room.

“I’m going to the main lab. Can you handle these ones until I’m back?” Cross asked.

Erin smiled.

“Piece of cake.”

“Good,” the Doctor said, moving out of the room.

“Don’t worry,” Erin told the dozen scientists with her best smile. “You only need to do as I say.”

She received some silent nods in response. Erin’s smile then widened as she looked at Kip. He almost had a heart attack when she beckoned him with a finger.

“Come here, Kip. We have so much catching up to do! Besides, we may be here for a while. Some entertainment will suit us both.”

*=*=*=*=*=*=*

A dozen amazons lined up on each side of the main entrance hall of the Congress building, forming a corridor as the only three women in the world that were taller than them walked in, smiling regally as they walked inside.

Thankfully, the building was majestic, preventing them from having any issues derived from their unnatural height. Their impossible weight was a bit harder to handle, and the marble floor cracked slightly as they advanced, creating mild tremors in their surroundings.

The battle had been an overwhelming victory. The latest report Eva Roark had received confirmed that eleven Phoenix girls had fallen, and while each of the deaths hurt like she would have never thought possible, Eva also knew that it was a more than acceptable balance of losses when they had defeated a force of thousands of men with advanced weaponry.

If she had been told a year ago about the scenario she was now living, Eva would have thought it impossible. And yet, here she was, now one of the three most powerful creatures in the world, inches away from accomplishing the most shocking conquest in history. Her comrades and her were about to take over the most powerful nation in the world inside barely a single morning. Every individual action had gone better than planned, placing them in a unique position no conqueror in the past had ever enjoyed. She only had to make sure that they executed the last steps properly.

Having been the only one that had ever been in Congress before, Eva led the way, closely followed by Susan and Madison. They were about to reach the end of the hall when two men in security guard uniforms stepped from behind an overturned table and emptied their guns on her. Eva raised an eyebrow and blew a short gust of wind in their direction, sending them flying against the wall, where they splattered with a sickening sound.  

And then, she stopped and raised a hand. Susan and Madison knew what was coming, so they simply stopped, remaining silent. Suddenly, not even a fly could be heard in the vast room. It took Eva a second of focus. Then, it came. Her ears were initially overloaded by hundreds of different sounds coming from all over the building. She could hear representatives and senators complaining as they were being herded into the House Chamber. She easily got the casual conversations between the Phoenix that were executing their orders, feeling both proud and victorious. And she could also hear the muffled sounds of voices that were trying to stay hidden, to escape the attention of the newly arrived conquerors.

Eva took a deep breath and started to focus on them, zeroing in on one conversation at a time. It did not take her long to find the voice that she was looking for. Smiling as she turned to Madison and Susan, Eva pointed down and beckoned them to follow her.

*=*=*=*=*=*=*

President Adam Tatum was not a man used to feeling cornered. His entire life had been about stepping on others in order to get what he wanted, and his ego was having a hard time processing a situation in which he was out of options.

His Secret Service detail was paying for his frustration, even at the cost of disregarding their advice to remain quiet.

“How in the hell can there be dozens of oversized bitches out there without any damned intelligence agency in the fucking country knowing about this before?” he demanded.

Agent Cole, the man in charge of his detail, simply shrugged. He had a mission to do, but this did not mean that he had to like the man he was protecting and that he had to answer every single childish question he had.

“Call the Joint Chiefs. I want them to send every single military asset in the country here! Right away!” Tatum then blurted.

“Sir, the Pentagon… has fallen,” Cole reminded him. “So has NORAD,” he added before the man had any ideas about using nuclear weapons. It would have been a suicidal stupidity, but at this point, he could not discard anything from him. In eleven years in the Service he had never worked for anyone so unstable.

Tatum looked like he was going to say something else, but then shut up, suddenly out of words. Cole almost felt some pity for him when he realized the sudden depression that had taken over him. He was even trying to think of some words of comfort when the ground started shaking.

“Shit!” he screamed. “Everyone, aim for the door!”

His men barely had time to react before the heavy armored door was pulled from its hinges with a loud bang, revealing a humongous woman behind it.

He did not need to give the order. Half a dozen guns and two assault riffles started shooting right away. It was to no avail. Even if he had already seen countless images on TV of these amazons remaining unaffected by bullets, it was still shocking to view it live, to hear the loud cracking of their weapons and see how they had no consequences at all for the woman.

Clearly unconcerned about their unsuccessful attack, the woman crouched to get into the room. Even with her unnatural proportions, Cole could not help noticing that she looked beautiful, with her long brown hair and her intense blue eyes. The thought was quickly pushed out of his mind when the woman reached for two of his men and backhanded them, practically making them explode.

*=*=*=*=*=*=*

Eva hated to have to kill the Secret Service men. She knew their only sin had been to enroll in the Service, the only reason they would die was that they served a man as despicable as Tatum. But she also knew that she had no other option.

She decided to make it quick, without any unnecessary ceremony. The first two she simply backhanded. In the same movement, she blew softly at two more, breaking them as they hit the wall. She was not getting any closer to their precious objective, so Eva moved even more gently as she reached for an agent with each hand, lifting them with ease and crushing their torsos in a swift movement. She knew that she was being quite gory, but it was hard not to be with her strength, especially when she wanted to be done with the job quickly.

The remaining two bodyguards rushed to stand in the way of the President. Eva briefly admired their courage, but then pushed them to either side, smashing them against opposing walls of the building.

President Tatum looked more terrified than anyone Eva had ever seen before. Of course, she knew what was going on through his head. For someone with his ego, the current situation was almost impossible to process. She would need to work around that.

She took a first step towards him, making every piece of furniture in the room rattle. Tatum moved back, but she did not mind. She just kept going, following the man’s retreat. Eventually, Tatum’s back hit the wall. His eyes opened wide in fear as he realized. An instant later, Eva was kneeling in front of him, still towering a full head over the little man.

She felt Susan and Madison standing behind her, but they had already discussed this. It was her turn. Susan’s would come soon.

“President Tatum,” Eva said in a soft voice. “Believe it or not, you can still make it out of this alive.”

She had to suppress a smile when the man’s expression changed abruptly.

“You only need to do everything we tell you to do exactly how we tell you to do it,” she said.

“What do you want?” Tatum asked, sounding more uncertain than ever.

“Everything,” Eva replied.

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