Madeleine Maby Must Die - Part 3

Madeleine Maby sat amidst a group of drooling, giggling toddlers who had covered the lab walls in crayon drawings of houses, doggies and diagrams of the 17 ways to kill a man using only your thumbs. She stared at the ceiling in exhaustion. “Come on, babies. This shouldn’t be so hard. I can get you to read, write, kill on command, explain the myriad of causes behind the Franco-Prussian engagement, and yet I cannot get you to put the crayons back in their proper boxes? Look at this. This is a box full of reds and yellows. Who wants a box full of just red and yellow crayons? Excluding Marcus.”

Marcus, a particularly cuddly ball of sprouting hair and baby fat, glanced up from his drawing of a gaping chest wound filled with oozing yellow puss and giggled out, “Aunt Maddy is silly!”

“Aunt Maddy is not silly,” said Madeleine. “Aunt Maddy is as serious as skull rape and about three months behind schedule, so let’s get these crayons in their proper boxes, you hear me, babies?”

A gentle knock came from the door and it opened slightly. The subordinate poked his head in. “Ms. Maby?”

“Oh my God, what is it? Can’t you see we’re in the middle of free draw time here? You know how I feel about free draw time.”

“There’s a situation.”

“It had better be serious.”

“It’s Sarah Montgomery,” said the subordinate.

Madeleine Maby stood up, walked over to the subordinate and slapped him in the face. “I thought I made it perfectly clear we don’t say that name here.”

“Ma’am,” said the subordinate, swallowing hard. “She’s in the building.”

The subordinate pulled out a small portable video player and showed Madeleine the security tape of Sarah Montgomery crash landing into research facility.

“How long ago was this taken?”

“About eight minutes ago.”

Madeleine slapped the subordinate again. “You should have been here in three.”

“Sorry, ma’am,” said the subordinate. “General Cuddles held all action.”

“Of course he did,” muttered Madeleine. “Cuddles.”

***

In the control center General Cuddles stared at a wall full of screens, his hands clasped tightly behind his back. Dead center showed Sarah Montgomery waltzing through the halls of the initiative strafing any personnel who got in her way. Behind her was a trail of destroyed equipment, scorched offices and broken bodies. The general chewed his cigar and smiled.

“Marvelous,” he said, nearly at tears. “Absolutely marvelous.”

He turned to the control center crew and threw up his pointing finger at the board. “You see that? That’s what we need more of here! Someone showing a little goddam spunk!”

“She’s single-handedly destroying the entire facility, sir,” pointed out one of the staffers.

“Whatever, we’re insured,” retorted the general.

“Don’t you think we should do something, sir?” asked another staffer.

“And exactly what do you recommend, my little Rommel?”

“Uuuh, I don’t know. Stop her?”

“Stop her?” replied the general. “I want to give her a job. Hell, I’m going to put her into consideration for a medal of honor.”

The general went over to his chair and took his hat from it, putting it on his head at what some might call a jaunty angle.

“I’m going mobile. I’ve got my earpiece set to radio frequency seven, keep that line clean and update me on her progress. I’m going to rendezvous.”

“And how exactly are we supposed to do that?” piped up a sharp young staffer.

“What the hell do you mean?” replied General Cuddles incredulously. “Watch them on the video screen, it don’t get much more simple than that!”

The young staffer pointed to the video monitors. One monitor after another went dark. “What the hell?” asked General Cuddles.

“Watch the monkey,” replied the staffer.

In a monitor on the lower left hand side of the wall Washington was doing a dance, a variation on the Charleston. Once he made it to the center of the screen Washington changed the dance to the Watusi, then he did a little squat, reached into the back of his pants, pulled out a handful of feces and threw it at the camera, blocking out its view.

“Did... did our surveillance just get compromised by... monkey poop? That’s...”

***

“GROSS.”

Washington was now doing the Cabbage Patch while beat boxing Justin Timberlake’s Rock Your Body. “Come on, funk strumpet, that’s the good shit right there.”

“You’ve covered every camera we’ve come across with your own crap. How do you even have that much crap?” asked Sarah, entirely unsure as to whether she actually wanted to know the answer or not.

“Always be prepared. I ate three boxes of Fiber Blast and a whole crate of prunes this morning. No camera stands a chance against my colon.” Washington raised the roof.

“Here’s the plan,” said Sarah, adjusting the AK-47 slung over her shoulder. “A quick run to demo storage, stop by the cafeteria, drop in on an old friend, and then we take out our primary target.”

“Any other words of wisdom, oh captain, my captain?” asked Washington, charging his stun gun and putting on a pair of aviator goggles.

Sarah cleared her throat and wiped the sweat from her brow. “I’m not going to lie to you, Washington, you’re going to see some real messed up shit here. Keep close, stay alert. And for God’s sake, keep an eye out for those babies.”

***

Madeleine Maby stood on a podium in front of an American flag as large as the side of a barn. Stretching out in front of her was a platoon of child soldiers, all arrayed in fatigues and armed with an assortment of small arms weaponry. Madeleine adjusted her form-fitting officer’s uniform and spoke into the podium’s microphone.

“I am not here today to inspire you, my precious little war babies. This is no Saint Crispin’s Day speech. Only the weak-willed need to be inspired, only the cowardly need to be told they are brave. You are not weak, children. You are no cowards.

“Instead I come to give you the facts. We are under attack, toddler troopers. We are in the sites of one of the greatest enemies we will ever face.” Madeleine looked down to a small child in the front of the audience, a strong, savvy-looking baby. His nametag read “Hinkley.” Madeleine nodded to Hinkley, who flipped on a projection machine, causing a large image of Sarah Montgomery to be thrown onto the wall behind Madeleine.

“There she is, babies. Sarah Montgomery. Enemy of the initiative. Hater of progress. Creator of your greatest obstacle, the Montgomery Conundrum. Truly, if ever there was one, Sarah Montgomery is a meany stinky-head.”

A great chorus of whoops and hollers came from the crowd. Madeleine raised then lowered her hands to quiet the throng of toddlers.

“She has infiltrated our home. Make no mistake, she is coming for us. Hell bent on destroying our way of life. I don’t need to tell you to be careful. I don’t need to tell you to remember your training. I’ve watched you all from the beginning, I have the utmost faith in you. All I have to tell you is to do what you do well, babies. Seek and destroy.”

The children began screaming and yelling. They prepped their weapons and charged out of the room, eager for the hunt. Only Madeleine and Hinkley stayed behind. Madeleine came and sat down on the edge of the stage, pulling a cigarette out of her uniform and sliding it into her mouth. Hinkley ambled up beside her and pulled a lighter out of his back pocket, flipped it open and gave her a light.

“What we do, Aunt Maddy?” asked Hinkley as he adjusted the crotch of his Huggies and took a dip of snuff from his flak jacket pocket and nestled it into his lower jaw right at the base of his newly sprouted teeth.

“We wait for the past to catch up with us,” said Madeleine, taking a slow drag from her cigarette as she stared out across the empty room.

***

Once again Sarah found herself atop the steel-wrought walkway high above the pit containing her crowning achievement, the Montgomery Conundrum. Sarah had sent Washington ahead to the kitchen on an errand, leaving her some time alone with her creation. Upon her entrance the Conundrum had stopped its feasting on the mangled corpse of large male caribou and waved a giant tentacle at her in a sign of familiarity. Sarah waved back.

She sat there for a while, watching the creature tear into its meal. Once it was nearly finished Sarah called out, “I hope you saved room for dessert!” She then opened a small duffle bag which held three small kittens. She took a kitten out of the bag and held it aloft so the Conundrum could see it. The conundrum clapped its two giant tentacles together and gave out a spine-chilling, gurgling whinny. Sarah tossed the first kitten off the railing and the Conundrum caught it directly in its mouth. Sarah saw the kitten’s horrified expression as it disappeared into the gullet of the awful creature, to be swallowed whole and slowly broken apart and processed in the Conundrum’s confused, nightmarish digestive system. Sarah felt a wave of something between sadness and nostalgia come over her, not out of any sort of empathy for the kitten’s fate, but out of a recognition that only in the distant, indistinct memories of a self she barely recognized anymore could she conjure a time where such a sight would have seemed grotesque at all.

“You’re really not much of a conundrum at all, are you?” Sarah asked rhetorically to the abomination below. “The entire name is a complete fallacy. I know exactly what you are. You’re not my conundrum, you’re me. Perhaps more distinctly, my id. The Montgomery Id. Doesn’t have the same ring to it, I suppose.”

The Conundrum took a mass of caribou intestine and spelled out in cursive on the floor “Freud was a joke.”

“You would say that, wouldn’t you, you mad equestriopod,” chuckled Sarah. She took out the second kitten and tossed it over the edge. This time the Conundrum grabbed the kitten, yet remained looking up at Sarah. Sarah looked back at the beast, her face a tangle of mixed emotions and racing thoughts. The Conundrum reached down with his free tentacle and grabbed the caribou’s head and what remained of its left hind leg and began juggling the caribou parts and kitten in a gruesome yet amusing display of agility. Sarah smiled out of the side of her mouth, then shook her head.

“You’re only proving my point,” she said, breathing out a sigh of resignation. “You only know the barest distinction between pleasure and pain, reward and punishment. You’ve no ability for subtlety, for true discernment. You are, at absolute best, amoral. You are sheer drive and instinct, doing nothing but consuming, and so you will be consumed. You are the basest, grossest element of life.”

Sarah took out the final kitten from the bag. This one was a bit larger than the other two, and when Sarah cradled the kitten in her arms she felt the angles and coiling of metal and wire. She scratched the kitten between its ears, rubbed its belly for a moment, then tossed it over the edge. The kitten fell downward, straight into the awaiting abyss of the Conundrum’s horrific open jaws.

“I guess the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree,” said Sarah, as she stood and walked from the room. Once the door was closed she leaned her back against it and reached within her suit pulling out a small remote control. She turned a small key which ignited a green light on the control labeled activated. From within the Conundrum’s monstrous stomach came a whirring and a grinding as one of the prototypes of Madeleine Maby’s kitten bombs assembled and armed itself. Then, with only the briefest hesitation, Sarah pushed the large red button on the remote. Within the chamber the Conundrum exploded into a fireball of guts, gore, cartilage and bone. A fireball rose to the roof of the chamber and the room became coated with the remains of its former tenant. However, due to the tremendous structural integrity of the building the explosion was only felt as a small tremor against the door against which Sarah rested her back. The vibration echoed through her for a moment, then was silent. Sarah threw down the remote and took out her walkie-talkie.

“Washington?”

“Yeah, boss?”

“How’s it coming?”

“Like a virgin in a whorehouse, quick and easy,” Washington’s voice spoke through the speaker.

“That’s disgusting.”

“You love it.”

“Meet me in the main concourse, level six.”

***

The pitter-patter of little feet sounded loudly as dozens of armed babies ran through the hallways of the underground base, hell bent on destroying Sarah Montgomery. They navigated the twists and turns of the research facility with expert knowledge. They knew the obvious place to go, the central location for the entirely facility, the main concourse. Level six. Sarah would have to go there, and that’s where the babies would intercept her.

As they neared the main concourse a baby near the front held up his hand in a fist, telling all the other babies to stop. The children all readied their weapons. The lead baby, named Gutierrez, put up two fingers, then flapped his hand three times signaling a formation which all the other babies instantly put themselves in. Gutierrez then pumped his fist twice and pointed forward. The platoon moved forward.

At the door to the main concourse the lead baby made a circular gesture with his hand and the babies all position themselves on either side of the door. Gutierrez pointed to Harper, a baby with a large bag on his back and a sweatband on his bald head. Harper, an expert in tactical explosions, placed a forward thrusting explosive device on the door, set the timer for 15 seconds, then quickly ducked aside. All the babies waited with great anticipation as the timer counted down. Just as the numbers hit zero there was a deafening boom and the door blew inward and a great billow of smoke appeared. “Go! Go! Go!” barked Gutierrez. All the babies ran into the main concourse in perfect attack formation.

As the smoke cleared Sarah Montgomery and Washington could be seen sitting dead center in a couple of lounge chairs, their feet propped up on footstools and their weapons down at their sides. Surrounding them on all sides were children foot soldiers with weapons drawn and aimed.

“You cannot possibly be serious,” said Sarah Montgomery, a look of pained incomprehension across her face. “You actually think Nas is a better MC than Jay-Z? You’ve been dipping into my drugs again, haven’t you?”

“What?!” yelled Washington, throwing up his hands. “Nas has the true street cred!”

“Street cred is inverted hype,” p’shawed Sarah Montgomery.

“That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard,” scoffed Washington.

“No it isn’t,” defended Sarah. “I read it. In Spin Magazine.”

“You read Spin Magazine?” asked Washington doubtfully. “Wigga please. Nobody reads Spin Magazine.”

“AHEM,” coughed Gutierrez, walking slowly over to the woman and monkey.

“Just a second, short stack,” Sarah said to the approaching baby. “I’ve got to teach this primate what a real MC is. You see, Washington, I’m not talking about posturing or image, I’m talking straight-up flow, I’m talking music. ‘Dirt Off Your Shoulder’? ‘Hard Knock Life’? Nas dreams of dropping shit like that.”

“True, true, ‘Hard Knock Life’ is pretty fucking sweet, I forgot about that one.”

“Plus look at widespread influence, look at everything J-Hova’s pushed through! Plus, shit, he made Linkin Park look cool.”

“I’m sowwy, I hate to intewupt dis widdle tawk,” said Gutierrez, “but Auntie Maby seems to want you taken care of, so take care of you we must. Pwus, Kanye’s de only MC worth a damn nowadays.”

“Whoa, hey, nobody’s saying anything against Kanye!” said Washington.

“He’s ya boy,” said Sarah. “Defend ya boy.”

“All wight, on your feet,” said Gutierrez.

Sarah and Washington stood slowly. Sarah let out a long sigh. “It’s such a shame,” said Sarah. “I hate to get killed right before the big ice cream party.”

Gutierrez paused. “Ice cweam pawty?”

“Yeah,” said Sarah. “I set up a whole ice cream party. It was going to be just me and Washington and whichever babies decided not to kill us today. It was going to be pretty sweet.”

“It was going to be off the hook!” yelled Washington. “I was going to get MAD sick off of some sweet pistachio, that shit is crazy delicious!”

“You know, that’s one of the great things about ice cream,” Sarah thought aloud. “Even if you get sick from it, it’s still ice cream. It practically tastes just as good going out as it does going in.”

“Where is dis ice cweam?” asked Gutierrez suspiciously.

“Psh, like we’d tell you now, you’re going to kill us!” said Sarah.

“Well. Maybe we wouldn’t have to kill you,” said Gutierrez. “At weast not wight away.”

“Hmmm,” thought Sarah. “Well, I was really looking forward to some rocky road.”

“Pwease!” begged Gutierrez.

“All right, fine,” said Sarah. “Let’s have some ice cream.”

“Yay!” shouted the babies. Sarah smiled. Washington did the robot.

Sarah and Washington led the babies into the huge central kitchen. They paraded them through the back and into the giant walk-in refrigeration unit. While Sarah had made her good bye visit to the Conundrum Washington had set up a huge banquet of ice cream inside the freezer. There was a long row of tables all filled with ice creams of every flavor imaginable. The child soldiers stood staring at the ice cream in total wonderment. Gutierrez shook himself out of his daze and yelled to the babies “Awwight men! Wet’s eat!” The babies all stormed the freezer, grabbing their seats and reaching for whatever ice cream they could. One industrious baby forewent seating altogether and simply jumped up on the table and stuck his entire face into a vat of cookies and cream.

“Oh hey, uh, babies?” said Sarah, slowly backing up. “I just realized I forgot to bring in some butterscotch. So. I’m going to go do that. You just keep eating.” Gutierrez dismissed them with a wave of his left hand, while his right hand continued pouring a giant mound of Hershey’s Special Dark semi-sweet morsels all over a mountain of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream. Sarah and Washington slowly backed out of the room. Once they made it outside they slammed the door shut and locked it from the outside.

“Whelp, that ought to take care of them for a while,” said Washington, strutting down the hallway back towards the main concourse.

“We won’t need long,” said Sarah, opening two secret compartments in her vest and removing two automatic handguns. “It’s almost finished.”

***

General Cuddles tore through hallways after hallway, making his way closer to Sarah.

"Talk to me!" he screamed into his transmitter. "What's the status?"

"It looks like Montgomery has just taken out the entire Children's Ultimate Neutralization Team, sir."

"How?" demanded the general.

"With ice cream. Sir," responded the staffer.

"Babies," muttered the general. "Patch me through to Maby."

In the conference room baby Hinkley was massaging Madeleine's feet while she flipped through a copy of Eccentric Scientist's Monthly when there was a burst of static and suddenly Madeleine's earpiece billowed out the voice of General Cuddles, yelling "Maby? Maby? Do you copy?"

Madeleine kicked Hinkley off her feet and across the room, adjusted her transmitter and spoke. "Here, sir."

"I just thought I'd let you know," sneered Cuddles with an obvious air of superiority, "That Montgomery's got your entire platoon of footsie soldiers trapped inside the kitchen refrigeration unit."

"What?" screamed Madeleine. "HOW?"

"Ice cream," spat the general.

"Their only weakness!" yelled Madeleine, raising her fists to the sky. "How did she know?!"

"Because she's a goddam soldier, not a babysitter," barked the general. "Now if you see her I want her taken alive. We can reprogram her, get her back on our side. Maybe then we'll start seeing some results around here!" With a click the general ended the conversation. Madeleine fumed.

"Hinkley," said Madeleine through gritted teeth. "Bring me... my shoes."

***

Sarah and Washington ran through the labyrinthine hallways of the facility, going further and further down into structure. Sarah was convinced she would find Madeleine at the deepest, most secret levels. "You know, like Dante's Inferno," she said to Washington. "The deepest level is the one reserved for traitors."

Sarah hung a hard right around a corner only to stop dead in her tracks. At the other end of the hallways was General Cuddles. He stood stock still, letting his cigar burn slowly in his mouth. Finally he brought his hands up and began a slow, steady clap.

"Well played, Montgomery! Well played. I always knew you had it in you."

"Had what in me? The ability go batshit and destroy an entire secret underground laboratory?"

"Precisely!" exclaimed Cuddles. "We're a lot alike, you and I."

"Oh please," Sarah rolled her eyes.

"I want you to come back to us," said Cuddles. "We've got anything you could ever want right here. You can even have Maby's job, if you'd like."

"No dice," replied Sarah. "I like the private sector."

"Well, just know this," said the general, taking out his cigar and throwing it to the ground. "I will try to do everything I can to take you alive."

The general quick-drawed his tranq gun from his side and fired off a shot. As the needle sped through the air Sarah felt her adrenaline pick up. She felt the device on her arm flood her system with performance enhancers. Suddenly the dart wasn't speeding through the air, but appeared to be coming more like a softly lobbed frisbee. Sarah picked it out of the air easily, then broke it open, drank it's contents and threw it aside.

"What the hell?" said the general.

"You wouldn't understand," said Sarah. "It's a womanly thing."

Sarah charged at Cuddles. The general lowered himself into a defensive position and then he too began to run. The two collided in the middle of the hallway, the sound of crunching bones and body impact exploded from the wreck. The two began tossing and grappling around on the floor. Sarah landed a punch to General Cuddles face. General Cuddles absorbed the hit as though it had come from a throw pillow and returned with a quick one-two combination to Sarah's torso. Sarah stumbled backwards and the General used the distance to wind back his leg and deliver a swift kick to Sarah's crotch and let out a victorious "Haha!" Sarah grunted slightly then looked at the general.

"Umm, I'm a girl. Remember?"

"Oh balls," said the general.

"Actually, not. That's kind of the point," said Sarah. She then ducked and rolled, coming up to hip level and then delivered a sweep kick that knocked the general off his feet. The general dropped to the floor. Sarah pounced on his back and grabbed his left arm, twisting it around his back to lock him down. The general put his right arm at an odd angle then contorted his body, dislocating the arm from its socket. He then thrust his with great intensity, launching up his now dislocated arm at what would have been an impossible angle and hitting Sarah directly in the boob. "Fuck!" said Sarah, and let go enough for the general to throw her off of him and turn around. He delivered a hard blow directly to Sarah's face, bloodying her nose. He then stood over her.

"Like I stated previously, I won't kill you," said Cuddles. "However, I need to take away a little bit of this pep, make sure you don't try anything like this again." Cuddles removed an imposing looking knife from his tall boot. "Perhaps a little impromptu surgery." The general began to come down towards Sarah, then suddenly bolted upright, his arms flailed back and his muscles twisting and contorting. Sarah heard the zap of Washington's stun gun and smelled the burning ozone that usually accompanied it. She lay her head back against the floor and took in a deep breath. She heard General Cuddles unconscious body hit the ground.

"Nice work, Washington," said Sarah as she began to prop herself up. "Took a little long, but..." Sarah stopped speaking. Behind the still body of the general stood Madeleine Maby. She had Washington's stun gun in one hand, and in the other she had Washington himself. The monkey was locked in a chokehold, a look of terror in his eyes.

"Hello, Sarah," said Madeleine. "Nice to see you. I thought you were dead."

"Not hardly," said Sarah, slowly bringing herself to her feet. "This is between you and me, Madeleine. Let the monkey go."

"Mmm. I don't think so," said Madeleine, slowly backing down the hallway. "I think I'm going to keep him with me until I'm safe and sound. You just stay here for a while, you can check the place out. It's changed a bit since your time, we have a soda machine in the break room now, it's nice."

"Take care of that monkey for me," said Sarah as she struggled to her feet. "He's a good one. Loyal. Honest. Trustworthy. Most importantly, he has a true sense of doody." Sarah put a strong influence on the last word and gave Washington a look. Washington caught it and gave Sarah a wink. Then he scrunched up his face with intense concentration and let out a massive shit. Madeleine's knees buckled, she began to gag. Sarah used the diversion to pick up General Cuddle's knife and throw it into Madeleine's shoulder. Madeleine wailed in pain. She grabbed Washington by the back of his neck and threw him at Sarah with all her strength. Sarah caught the monkey, throwing her off-balance and knocking her backwards. Madeleine took off running down the hallway.

"You all right?" Madeleine asked.

"I'm going to need a new tux," said Washington. "But other than that, I'm fine."

"Good," said Sarah. "Let's go kill this bitch."

Sarah and Washington followed Madeleine using the blood trail from her leaking shoulder wound. They finally caught up with her just as she was entering a personal id code into a secret express elevator. When she heard Sarah and Washington approach Madeleine pulled the knife out of her shoulder and launched it at them. Sarah grabbed Washington and pulled him back around the corner, just barely getting out of the way of the projectile. When they came back around the elevator door had opened and was now closing. Sarah grabbed a cylindrical metal garbage can and threw it down the end of the hall, having it stop right between the closing elevator doors. She threw Washington on her shoulder and went down the hall at a blinding speed, jumping through the elevator doors while kicking the out the garbage can. The doors closed on an empty elevator.

"Where the hell..." said Sarah as the elevator began shooting towards the surface. She looked up and saw a bloody handprint on the ceiling tile. "Oh fuck." Shots began raining down from above, the bullets tearing large holes in the elevator's roof. Sarah jumped up and threw open the roof hatch. Madeleine's right boot was right at the edge of the opening. Sarah grabbed it and pulled Madeleine inside. The two become a flurry of carnage, punching, scratching, grabbing, clawing and biting. Blood and bruises began welling up from both of them. Madeleine still had the large hand cannon and would occasionally get off a shot. Sarah would dodge them, causing large holes to begin appearing around the small elevator.

"Why won't you just stand still so I can KILL YOU," screamed Madeleine.

***

General Cuddles awoke sore and twisted on the floor. "Dammit," he muttered to himself. He turned on his transmitter.

"Where are they?" he demanded.

"It looks like they're on the express exit lift to the surface, sir," replied the staffer on the other end.

"Initiate self destruction of that elevator," ordered the general. "If I can't have them, no one can."

***

Madeleine had Sarah pinned to the ground and was trying to shoot her head off, but Sarah's device allowed her quick movements and tactical evasions. However, as Madeleine kept missing she kept blowing more holes in the floor.

"Ummm, ladies," said Washington, taking notice of this occurrence. "Ladies? The floor?"

"SHUT UP, you smelly little chimp!" yelled Madeleine, raising the gun to Washington. Washington did an elegant salsa step, then jumped on Madeleine's arm. The shot went off straight into the floor, blowing the hole that broke the floor's resistance. The bottom of the elevator crumbled beneath them. Sarah and Madeleine grabbed onto the edges that remained of the elevator floor while Washington held onto Madeleine's belt. As Sarah tried to get her wits back she noticed a small, packaged device attached to the elevator's bottom. It began blinking and beeping, and then suddenly the small green light on it changed to red.

"Oh shit," said Sarah. "BOMB!" Sarah and Madeleine both let go of the elevator, plummeting down the elevator shaft. They grabbed onto available suspension wires about 20 feet down just in time for the elevator to explode into flames. The explosion had been meant to destroy the elevator, sending the blast up and out. The explosion was so forceful it blew out George Washington's right eye. Washington the monkey quickly climbed up the tunnel and out onto the rim of George Washington's now exploded eye socket. Soon afterwards Madeleine and Sarah both climbed out as well, collapsing to the ground with exhaustion and effort.

"So, here we are," said Madeleine, finally having caught her breath. "Back where this all started. Well, close enough."

"It's as good a place to end it as any," said Sarah, pulling herself up to her feet.

"You know this isn't a fair fight," said Madeleine.

"No such thing as a fair fight. Learned that a long time ago," said Sarah.

"You've got your little personal enhancer, you've got your monkey. I only had my gun, and I lost it in the explosion."

"This isn't Washington's fight, he'll stay put," said Sarah. "As for my personal enhancer..." Sarah brought her arm up to her face. She grabbed the device with her teeth and then ripped it out of her arm, a slow trickle of blood oozed out of the wound. "No enhancers. No back up. No weapons. No surprises. I promise," said Sarah, helping Madeleine up to her feet. "Everybody's got something to hide, except for me and my monkey."

As they prepared to fight Sarah took in her opponent. Madeleine looked tired. Not just from the knife wound and the explosion. She looked metaphysically tired. She looked like a woman who had bent her ideals to her wants so much that they had broken, and their shards were now embedded in her soul. Despite herself Sarah couldn't help but feel pity.

"Let's get this over with," spat Madeleine. "I have some very disappointing children to discipline."

"Let's go," said Sarah.

The fight was quick and brutal. It was the result of two friends who knew each other well, knew their strengths and weaknesses. Sarah went straight for a kick to Madeleine's bad left knee. Madeleine caught Sarah in an arm hold, then gave a sharp twist, breaking her right wrist. Sarah head-butted Madeleine in the jaw, removing three teeth. Madeleine delivered three sharp stomps with the steel heel of her boot to Sarah's left foot, breaking four toes and cracking the bridge. Sarah bent down in pain, grabbing the foot. Then, with every ounce of strength she had, she delivered a punishing roundhouse kick, connecting her broken foot to the right side of Madeleine's face. Madeleine reeled backwards. Sarah took the moment to pounce, delivering a bone-crunching string of punches to Madeleine's face. Madeleine's head rolled, pucnh-drunk and bleeding. Sarah stood over her, her hands clenching the neck of Madeleine's uniform.

"What do you want from me?" yelled Madeleine through a broken mouth, tears, snot and drool dripping down her face and mixing with blood to form a small pink puddle beside her on the stone floor. "WHAT DO YOU WANT??" she sobbed.

"What do I want?" repeated Sarah. "I want to see if you really can fly."

"No," sobbed Madeleine as Sarah dragged her to the edge of the cliff. "No, please God, no. NO!!" Sarah tossed Madeleine's destroyed body over the edge of the cliff and watched it as it plummeted into darkness. Washington joined her at the edge and looked over.

"Should we go check on the body?" Washington asked.

"If she survived, then she earned it," Sarah replied. "Let's get the hell out of here."

Sarah walked back to the exploded elevator shaft and began to pull herself up slowly with her good arm. She winced in pain. "It looks like you'll be driving," she said to Washington.

"Sweet!" said Washington, breaking into the funky chicken.

"I get to control the radio," said Sarah.

"WHAT!" said Washington. "Come on! You know you're just going to pass out! And you're going to get all broody and put on some slow jams crap. We just kicked some serious butt, sassy ass! It's time to blast some Ghostface Killah! Greedy Bitches!"

"Just get in the plane, you silly primate," said Sarah, pulling herself up to their escape.

***

At the base of Mt. Rushmore Madeleine Maby's body lay motionless and still. But not quiet. Her hoverboots were sputtering and spitting, damaged from the fall but still functional. Madeleine had switched them on while plummeting, and though they hadn't been strong enough to stop the fall, they had softened it. A slow, raspy, labored breathing came from Madeleine's damaged torso.

Footsteps approached. Hinkley came up to the body and bent down over Madeleine, assessing the damage. "Mady?" he said quietly. "Aunty Mady?"

Madeleine's arm shot up and grabbed Hinkley by the neck. She pulled his ear right next to her lips and, using all her strength, whispered to him, "Prep the lab. We've got work to do."