Mercy Chapter 20

Mercy Chapter 20.

A couple of days later, Faith’s magic teacher asked her to come back after her last class of the day.

When she got to the magic building, she was shocked to see Richard standing beside her teacher.

“What’s going on?” she asked.

“I believe Richard here will be very useful when you face Brand.” Faith’s teacher said.

“Richard? How can you help?”

“Well, er .. Faith, my power - I can contact Brand and help him expel Vendetta.”

“That’s fantastic!”

“Yes, but there is a couple of limitations. The first is, I have to make physical contact. And Brand will have to want Vendetta gone.”

Faith’s shoulders sagged.

“Dont give up hope, dear.” Faith’s teacher said, “We’re not giving up, so neither should you.”

“Thanks,” Faith answered, and then added, “And thank you, Richard, for being willing to do this.”

Richard blushed, and said, “My granddad was an actual hero. He died saving over a hundred people. There is a small memorial to him in my town, and I grew up on the story of his sacrifice. I always hoped one day I could do something like that. This is my chance.”

Faith smiled, and said, “Well, thanks. Now we just need a plan on how to get you close enough to Brand to be effective.”

****

For the next two weeks Faith spent every moment she could trying to come up with a plan to save Brand. With Mrs. Carson’s permission, she borrowed a small room and set up her “operational headquarters” there. Her friends, classmates, and teachers would stop by and give suggestions and listen to her ideas, and even Vantier had checked in on her, but at the end of the two weeks she felt no closer to a solid plan than at the start.

On the last day she had booked the room, Mrs. Carson came to see her.

“Not going well, Faith?” she asked, as she looked around the room, which had crumpled bits of paper everywhere.

“No ma’am.” Faith replied.

“Well, I have something that might help. The government is going to be holding hearings on the issue of mutants, and has asked the school about sending a delegation. I had planned to ask for some students to be part of the group anyway, so if you wanted to, you could go.”

“That sounds great, but how does that help me get Brand?”

“Those hearings will be both televised and available online. No matter where Brand is, he is going to at least have the opportunity to see them, and spot you in our group.”

“So we put a target on my back, and hope he takes the bait?”

“In a word, yes. It’s not ideal - I am not thrilled about putting you in danger, but it might be the best chance to have your confrontation with Brand on your terms, not his.”

“Assuming he takes the bait, what do I do when he shows up?”

“Try and get him to take the fight to an unpopulated area. He might even cooperate so he can have a one-on-one confrontation instead of having to face a whole group of mutants, not to mention all the conventional forces that would be in play at the hearings. If that works, try and keep him busy long enough for us to send you Richard so he can try and expel Vendetta. As for how that goes, well, we’d just have to see.”

“You think I can do this?” Faith asked.

“If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have suggested it.” Mrs. Carson said firmly.

“Okay, I’m in.” Faith said, “When does this committee meeting happen?”

“One month from today. So keep up your studies. There will be no failing classes, you hear me young lady?” Mrs. Carson said while smiling.

“I wont let you down.” Faith replied.

*****

The next month seemed to both fly by and pass with agonizing slowness.

Finally, the day came, and a group from the school took a plane to Washington D.C.

Once they got to the hotel, Mrs. Carson said, “Arwen, stay here and keep watching for Brand. If he shows, cast that ‘tag’ spell we taught you, and we can track him wherever he goes. Julia is our teleporter, and when the time is right, she’ll send Richard in to help Faith. As for the rest of us, we’ll go to the hearings, and I’ll make sure I introduce Faith, and have her extend her wings so the cameras will be sure to get a good look at her. But after that, I’ll do most of the talking to the committee until and unless Brand actually shows up. Everybody clear?”

“Yes, Ma’am.” Everyone replied in almost unison.

So the group went to the capitol building, were cleared as invited guests, and entered the committee room. Mrs. Carson was called, and she brought the group of students up with her, introducing Faith last, and allowing Faith to rise up enough to show her wings off before settling back down. Once the introductions were finished, Mrs. Carson began to talk about the school’s history, current status, and goals for the future.

She had been speaking for about a half-hour (including answering questions from the committee) when the image of Brand appeared in the room.

“Faith,” his image said, “I gave you a year to prepare for me. You have apparently decided you didn’t need all of it, so fine. Come outside and face me one on one, or everyone in this room will suffer.”

The girl with the wings stood forward, but the image said, “No. The real Faith. Your attempt to fool me failed.”

Talia, who had been disguised as Faith and sporting artificial wings sighed, and said, “Was worth a shot.”

Faith, who was dressed as campus security, stepped forward, and said, “Okay, Brand. I’m coming out.”

Faith left the committee room and exited the building, she walked until she was on the green grass of the National Mall.

Then, she heard Brand’s voice saying “That’s far enough.”

She looked up, and saw Brand swooping down towards her, landing a few feet in front of her.

He said, “You still had time left before your year is out. You sure you want to do this now?”

“I could say the same to you. You dont have to fight me, Brand. I have learned a lot about our ancestors and I’d be willing to share with you, if you would be willing to come to the school with me.”

Brand manifested his sword, and said, “I think you’ll be telling me everything regardless.”

Brand lunged, and Faith barely was able to leap out of the way, manifesting her staff at the same time. Brand continued to attack wildly, and Faith was able to dodge or parry but couldn’t do any attacking of her own.

Then Faith stumbled backing up, and Brand knocked her staff out of her hand. He loomed over Faith, and said, “I can’t kill you yet. But I can hurt you. A lot.”

He raised his sword, and swung towards her right arm, but before he could finish the strike, a hand grabbed his arm as Richard arrived via teleport.

Richard put his other arm around Brand’s neck, and shouted, “Faith! Grab ahold of us! I’ll need your help!”

Faith leaped up and grabbed both boys ...

And found herself in a wasteland.

She saw Richard crouching behind a bush, and approached him.

Richard pointed at a small valley, and then Faith heard the sound of sobbing, followed by the crack of a whip. She and Richard started approaching the valley, and then she saw Brand, and Vendetta.

Brand was chained, and covered in cuts and bruises. Vendetta was holding a whip, and yelling at the boy.

“I’ll keep Vendetta busy, you get Brand to help us.” Richard said, and launched himself at the much larger Vendetta.

Faith went to the chained boy, and kneeled beside him. “Brand,” she said softly, “Richard and I can do a lot, but we cant get Vendetta out without your help. Will you help us?”

“I can’t! Just look at what he’s done to me!” Brand shouted back.

“Brand, this is YOUR mindscape. YOU set the rules here, not him. You can see now he isn’t helping you. So stand up!”

“How ... how can you want to help me, after what I did to your mom and dad? You should leave me to suffer.”

“I forgave you, Brand. Please make that forgiveness mean something.”

Just then, Faith heard a scream of pain, and turned to see that Richard had been hurt badly. Then Vendetta tossed the young man away and he landed on the ground groaning.

Faith stood up, and said, “I’m going to fight Vendetta now, Brand. If you dont help, I’ll probably lose. So it’s up to you.”

With that said, she turned and attacked the creature with her staff.

Faith got some solid hits in with her staff, and then used her wings to help her dodge Vendetta’s counter-attack. But soon, she realized her premonition was right - she couldn’t beat him. He was simply too strong, to resistant to her attacks.

Eventually, he knocked her staff out of her hand, and grabbed her throat.

He leered at her, and said, “You do have fire, despite your ancestor's cowardice. In fact, you would make a better host than that weakling, Brand. Once I strip you of all your knowledge, I will be able to use your body to gain access to that school, and all the power that is there. With that at my disposal, nothing will challenge me, not even the Bastard himself. And you will be there to witness all of it. No, more than a witness. A part of all I do. I will make you experience joy at betraying your friends, and orgasms when I use your body to kill innocents. I will ..”

Just then the hand holding Faith by the neck was severed off.

Holding his bleeding limb, Vendetta turned, and saw Brand with a sword in his hand.

“You wont hurt her. You wont hurt anybody ever again.” Brand said firmly.

“I own you, you cant do anything!” Vendetta shouted.

“This is my mind. I can do whatever I want. Now, get out!” Brand replied.

Vendetta swung his sword, but Brand knocked it away, and grabbed the creature, who started to shrink.

“Let’s finish this, grab ahold of him!” Richard said, rising from where Vendetta had thrown him.

Both Richard and Faith put a hand on Brand’s shoulder. He looked at one of them, then the other, and they nodded.

There was a bright light, and suddenly, Vendetta was gone.

*****

Epilog: Two weeks later:

Faith was studying in Crystal Hall when Mrs. Carson came up to her.

“How are you doing, Faith? Everyone has noticed you’ve been very quiet since your encounter with Brand.”

“Just been doing a lot of thinking, ma’am.” Faith replied.

“Well, I have some news for you. The U.S. government has agreed with the school’s assessment of Brand. That possession by Vendetta amounts to diminished capacity, and as a result he should be paroled to a place where he can make up for what he did and possibly become a positive force in the world. A place like a certain school where he might find some people willing to help him in that process?”

“You mean he’s ... coming here?”

“Yes, dear. He should be here very soon. In fact, if you come with me to the gates, we should be in time to meet him.”

Faith got up, and went with Mrs. Carson to the gate. Soon, a small bus arrived, and an armed soldier stepped off, followed by Brand who was in handcuffs.

Mrs. Carson went to the guard, signed some paperwork, and the guard unlocked Brand’s handcuffs.

He remained silent for a while, and then said, “They said I need a code name. I ... dont want to be known as Vendetta.”

“What about Remittetur - it’s Latin for ‘forgiven’” Mrs. Carson said.

“I don’t feel very worthy of being forgiven.” Brand replied sadly.

“Good thing your feelings about your lack of worth doesn’t count.” Faith said, and held out her hand to Brand.

Brand took her hand. “Okay, what’s first?”

Mrs. Carson said, “I think Faith should give you a tour. Then we’ll get you some homework. You have a lot to catch up on.”

“Let’s get you started.” Faith said, with a smile, and led Brand by the hand toward the campus.

The End ... for now ...



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