Lana stood at her locker with an unlit cigarette in her beak. Three minutes, and the bell to lunch will ring and I can go out back for a break. Maybe Sister Mary Jennifer won't catch me this time, she thought. Lana pushed her emerald hair away from her golden face. She leaned back, and her long, flowing hair touched the ground. She batted her almond shaped aquatic eyes at a freshman that walked by. He'll be dreaming of me tonight, she thought. Lana's long legs stretched out from under her and tripped a cheerleader walking by. She laughed to herself. Stupid ditz. Lana Claire L'eau stood up straight when she saw the school quarter back saunter past her with his entourage. Cute, she thought. Too bad he's a chauvinistic pig that only asks me out so that he might get some.
"Hey Lana! Trying to get Sister M to give you ten demerits this time?"
"What? Oh."Lana pulled the cigarette out of her beak and put it in her purse.
"If only that was me,"the quarterback laughed, and his group laughed with him out loud.
"Jerk. In your dreams, Johansen!"
"Oh, that's it!"Lana threw her bag down and jumped on the back of the unsuspecting Robert Johansen, throwing him off balance.
"Get off me Claire L'eau! Get off you crazy bitch!"
"Let's see how cute you are without your eyebrows!" Lana clawed at his face with all the craze of a lioness.
"Miss Claire L'eau!"
"Sister!"Lana jumped off Robert and straightened her uniform.
"It's a good thing you showed up Sister, she was out of control."
"Mr. Johansen, do you take me for a fool? Go to class now!"
"I'll see you in my office after fourth period, Mr. Johansen."
"What did I-never mind. I'll be there."He mouthed a 'you're dead' to Lana, and she stuck her tongue out at him. He growled at her.
"Go to class!"
"As for you, Miss Claire L'eau, we here at Richmond University we do not tolerate such rude and unlady-like behavior, If I was your mother. . ."
"'. . . I'd send you to your room without supper and expect you to do all the maid's chores.' Never mind that my mother's been dead since I was five."
"No way, Lana! Sis M said that?"
"Yes, she did."Lana said in her best Sister Mary Jennifer voice.
"Well if you ask me you were just lucky this time Lana," said Josie, her Asian friend with thin-wired glasses.
"No way, I think that SMJ is beginning to get trained by you, Lana."Amy, the blonde and white duck said curtly.
"She is, Amy, she is."Lana took a bow.
"I mean, remember last week when she caught you carving 'Coach Rockne sucks his own' on the back of your lab table in Bio? That was the best."
"Personally not my favorite."Lana took her cigarette out and lit it.
"Bite me, Josie."
"Ooooh. Big words, L'eau."
"Shut up or I'll rip you a new one."
"So, do you think that we'll go to Goldenwing's big party next Friday?"
"No way Ames, Johansen will be there for sure."
"Oooh. Robert Johansen."
"Yeah so what."
"Doesn't your dad go over the Johansen accounts?"
" Yeah, pity, ain't it? Josie are we coming over tonight to your place to get hammered or what?"
"After ten. My parents are going to the Theater and dancing until three. You and Amy can sleep over."
"Dibbs on the South room!"
"Damnitt Amy!"Suddenly the P.A. system bellowed out.
"Would Lana Claire L'eau please report to Father Muck's office immediately?"
"Well, darlings, that's my eternal cue."Lana put her cigarette out on her books and threw it at Josie.
"You love me J, admit it."The three girls laughed as Lana traipsed off to the principal's office.
"Wait for us after last class, Lana!"
"Okay, Ames! See you after warden drills me!"
"No yelling in the courtyard, Miss Claire L'eau and Miss Jakes!"
Lana sat down at the big brown leather chair outside Father Muck's office and tapped her fingers against her head. Now why did they call me down here? I only jumped Johansen today and I didn't really get in trouble for that, she thought. Lana had just been down to the office two days ago for stealing a school TV 'just for the hellov it'. Luckily, all she had to do was return it. No suspension this time.
Just then, father Muck's door opened and Robert Johansen stealthily came out. He shut the door quietly behind him, then looked up to see Lana for the first time. She coyly waved her hand and smiled demurely. Robert crinkled his beak up and strode over to her.
"Listen to me Lana! I have too much riding out on this school and my scholarship to be dashed away by a nobody like you! I am the QB and the star of this school, and you are. . .the little whore that gets into trouble everyday!"
"Oh, Robert, I didn't know that you cared so much about me."
"That's it Lana! You don't tell Father Muck anything. Got it?"
"Don't hide your feelings, darling, show me how you really care."
"Shut up you wannabe crook."
"I don't steal. . .much."
"You little freak! You do everything!"
"I know. I just borrowed your wallet."Lana put her hand up and revealed his wallet.
"You are so dead."Lana laughed and threw it down.
"That was too easy."Just then the door opened and Father Muck stuck his head out.
"Lana Claire L'eau. Come in. So what brings you in this fine day?"
"Injustice Father M, injustice! Oh !"Lana threw her hand across her forehead and pretended to get weak.
"Get in my office Lana. Robert report to fifth period at once."
"Goodbye Mr. Johansen."
Father Muck turned around and shut the office door behind him.
"Now Lana, this has been the third time this week that you've been called down to my office."
"I swear that the TV was put right back where I found it, Father Muck."
"This isn't about that."Father Muck reached inside of his desk and pulled Lana's large, bulging file. He threw it out in front of Lana with a thud.
"Is this about my finding my grades on file and changing my three worst classes to 'A's instead of 'D's? Because I was not present that day in school. You can call my father."
"There's no need for that. I wanted to commend you on you're academic achievement in Strategy class. You've reached a four point in that class."
"Really? I mean hey, it is a pretty easy class."
"Glad to hear it. I'm moving you to Honor level."
"Oh. Good. Words can't express how glad I am."
"Drop the sarcasm Lana. You are in no position to act smart after today's fiasco in the hall."
"You did call me in about that too, didn't you Father?"
"That I did. Now fill out this conduct slip and have your father sign it . Bring it in tomorrow or you'll be suspended for three days, eight demerits."He handed her a slip and frowned at her. "Here."
"Thanks."Lana accidentally let a smile escape her beak, remembering her forging pens in the back of her vast closet at home.
"On second thought, I'll just call him and have him come in tomorrow to sign it in person."
"You're wasting your time, Father M. Dad's got a meeting with his board of directors till three."
"I think when I explain the dire of the situation, he'll find his way here."
"Like he'll even care."Lana whispered under her breath.
"What was that?"
"I said good luck."
Lana ran out on the university campus as soon as her last class was over. She jogged to her car, only to find Rob Johansen leaning against it.
"Hey Lana. Thought that you wouldn't mind if I escorted you home."Two of his friends standing by began to chuckle.
"Get out of my way, Johansen."
"Oooh. Is Claire L'eau getting hostile? Common baby, give me a kiss and make it all better."
"Whatever! Get out of my sight!"
"Testy-testy!"Lana swung out to slap him and hit his beak with a full swing. Her long, green hair flew in the rush of the hit, tangling in her book bag.
"HEY!"Rob grabbed her by the arm and twisted it behind her until she screeched. "You're gonna regret that Lana!"
Lana kneed him right in the groin, keeling him over. His two friends groaned with him.
"For the last time leave!"
"Fine you little tramp!"
"Hey! No one calls Lana a tramp but me and Amy!"
Josie ran towards the car with Amy close behind her at her heels.
"Oh if it isn't the three bitches of Eastwick!"Rob's friend hollered.
"Ames, J, am I glad to see you!"
"This isn't over L'eau!"
"See you the next time I need a quickie."
"Screw you, wanker!"
Rob and his friends ran off, and whistled at two cheerleaders that strode by.
"What an ass. Why did you ever go on that date with him last year is beyond me."
"I needed a good laugh. Come on. We need to make a liquor run for tonight."
When Lana reached Claire L'eau Manor, she pulled into her personal garage quickly, not to attract attention. She threw her bags over her shoulder and hiked up to the front door. Fumbling for her keys, she didn't notice that Nan, the maid had opened the door.
"You late Lana."
"I know. Nan, don't even worry, dad doesn't care."
"Nan, is that Lana?"Francois Claire L'eau bellowed from upstairs.
"Yes Mr. Claire L'eau. You in big trouble, Lana."
"Here? I'm never in trouble."
Lana opened the door to her father's office slowly and cautiously. She had been screamed at by him time after time not to treat the antique doors with authority. She looked over to where her father was, and stood aback. The man always looked like he had more important things to do then take care of his daughter.
"Ah, Lana, I was wondering when you'd get home."
"Yes. Nan said you must have been out joy riding with your hooligan friends."
"Dad they're not hooligans. I am ."
"Quit fooling around. I received a call from Father Muck this afternoon, and let me tell you something young lady, for someone who's about to turn eighteen, you sure act like a stupid five year old. I will not tolerate disobedience under my roof. You're here to make yourself useful until you can be introduced into society and be suitably matched."
"Please, dad. Introduced into society? Is this the twenty-third century?"
"I mean it young lady. I won't have you making war with my biggest client."
"You mean Mr. And Mrs. Johansen? Pfft. Their son is a goat."
"I will not have you demean this family by poor behavior in the university of my alma mater."Francois pushed his jet black hair back, moving his silver streak out of the way. "You young lady are punished. You are on probation. Do not leave this house unless you are going to school or if it is on fire. And don't get any ideas. I know what's messing around in that head of yours."
"But Dad, that's unfair! He called me a slut and a whore and a tramp. . ."
"I don't care if he called you Queen Slut. You are punished until you can show that you have some dignity and decorum. It takes your all to prove your place in this family."
"Don't you mean institution?"
"Enough! Go to your room and stay there until supper. I am through with you. I have much work to do."
"Fine. . .father."With that, she slammed the antique doors with much authority.
"Useless child."Francois glanced over to a picture of his dead wife, Myelin. "Why aren't you here to deal with this brat of yours?"
Lana waited until the clock struck ten. Her father was having brandy in the east wing, reading the evening news. He would never know she went away. He never did. She had plans tonight. She was going to a friend's.
It was tough living on the third floor, but twelve years of acrobatic lessons had her ready to jump and land a thirteen floor drop. She gathered her backpack and opened her window. Lana pushed it open and reached for the nearby tree branch. With her rope, she lassoed the strongest branch and swung from her open window to the tree. From there, she lowered herself jump by jump to the snowy lawn. An icicle from the great tree fell and nearly cut her face. Lana hid the rest of the rope behind the trunk, and stepped on the icicle. A guard dog on her property let out a howl and Lana fell back on the icy lawn. Luckily the hounds didn't hate Lana and wouldn't cause a ruckus if they found her. She ran over to the main gate, and opened it with her key chain remote. Josie lived about seven minutes away on foot.
"This must be my lucky night. Amy lives twenty minutes away."Lana shut the gate to Claire L'eau Manor behind her and skated down the road.
Francois Claire L'eau sat back in his favorite chair. He sipped his brandy and sighed. Lana was a pain in the tail. As soon as she got old enough, he would see to it that she move away from Grove Island. Far away from Sin City, which was on the mainland, and a tempting haven to a delinquent like Lana. Sin City was a Mecca of industry, night life, and crime. Lots of crime. Francois sighed. Maybe they should have stayed in the paradise spot of Puckworld, The Liana Islands. That's where he had met his beautiful green-hared bride, Myelin. Myelin was a beauty, always calm and kind, loving wife, devoted mother to Lana, then. . .the virus. Myelin died a happy woman with a smile on her beak, staring at her young daughter and handsome husband before she fell asleep and never woke up again. Yes. Myelin was a queen among women. Lana looked so much like her! But her behavior? Where did she get it from? Francois threw the paper down, disinterested in it.
"Lana will be the end of me. No good will become of her. I know it. Oh Myelin, why did you leave me? Lana has potential for great things, but she also has potential for terrible things and I can't stop her."Francois finished the last bit of his brandy, and rang for the maid, Nan.
"Yes, Master Claire L'eau?"
"I am going to bed. See if Lana is all right. I was a little hard on her."
"Wait, wait, wait, you snuck out again?"
"Sure did, Ames. Now quit hogging the vodka."
"You are a fool Lana Claire L'eau. You are going to be in so much trouble when Daddy Warbucks finds out you're AWOL."
"What's he gonna do? Ground me again? Please. There isn't a punishment that's been made that I couldn't get myself out of."
"All right, all right, who should we sing drunken carols to?"
"Amy, it's spring. Winter's over."
"Who can tell on this planet? Anyway, let's go to old man McDrake's place and freeze his tires."
"Do we even know an old man McDrake?"
"Comon' we have to do something besides get wasted tonight."
"It works for me."
"Josie, Lana. . ."
"Yes Amy darling. . ."
"Let's do something dangerous. The 'rents are no where in sight and we are all alone until the morning! So comon'."
"Okay, Ames, how dangerous?"
Josie and Amy began to smile.
"You know it."
Nan climbed the stairs wearily. This had been a long day. Now it was time to check on the spoiled little Lana who had everything but didn't care. Nan reached behind her back and stretched. Lana made her fifty year old blood boil. She did endless things to torment the peaceful existence of Claire L'eau manor. That poor over-worked Francois did everything for her but she didn't care. Okay, so maybe he ignored the girl from time to time. . .okay all the time. And maybe he punished her for sneezing wrong, but still-it was her fault, that Lana. Nan passed her reflection in the hall. Her skinny neck and gaunt, ugly features made her wince. Lana had sucked the life out of her. Yes, that's it. Lana made her look ran-over. Beautiful, tall, and graceful Lana. That girl didn't deserve her looks. Bad girls look run-over, not good maids that devote their lives to their handsome employer. Nan passed the mirror in disgust, and continued down the hall. The tapestries were tangled and the walls looked worn by Lana's side of the hall. Bitch. If there only was something that I could do, Nan thought. Something that would make Lana's existence unbearable. She reached the door.
"Miss Lana, your father wants me to check on how you feeling."
"Miss Lana?"The door creaked open, and Lana's cat slinked out. "Dumb animal. Miss Lana?"
Nan pushed the door open and peered inside. She flipped the light on and looked around. Lana's gold and violet room was a palace. Nan sneered. The lock in her door wasn't set, so Nan pushed the door all the way open. "Miss Lana where are you?"The open window crashed shut with the wind. Lana's bed was empty. Nan began to smile.
"Okay, so it's settled. We're taking Josie's boat to Sin City and we're getting tattoos and finding male prostitutes."
Amy squealed. Josie smacked her.
"I'm sorry, sow, but this sounds so bad, Lana, what's wrong with you?"
"I love you too, Josie. Now let's go."
"What are you getting? I'm getting a leopard with a dagger. Daddy will shit when he sees it."
"You're going to let your father see it, Amy?"
"Of course, but not mother. I'm not stupid."
"What are you getting, Lana?"
"You are a slut!"
"Screw you."The girls laughed and headed down the stairs.
"Hey Lana, isn't that your father's Jaguar?"
"Your dad's car, he's here! Oh shit! We're in big trouble now!"
"Calm down Amy."
"Up yours Josie!"
"Wow, the three of us sure are good friends."
"Lana. Look, it's your dad in his robe! He's walking to my door."
"Damn! How did he get past your gate?"
"Remember my folks gave him the combination when he went over our files last year?"
"Damn! Damn! Damn!"
"What are we going to do?"
"Get down and act like you don't see him!"Francois rang the Wong's doorbell.
"Won't your servants answer the door?"
"No way. Mom gave them all the night off."
"Let's just hope your folks didn't give my father the combo to the door, Josie."
"Oh, no. Don't tell me."
"Well, my dad and your dad play hockey out in the grand terrace every Saturday."
"We're doomed! Your dad will call my parents and they'll drag me home and punish me forever."
"Amy, if they do, sneak out like me."
"Oh I forgot, I didn't take acrobat lessons for a hundred years like you."
"Shut up both of you, your dad is opening the door."
Francois opened the door and walked into the dimly lit foyer.
"Computer? Lights please."
The room lit up immediately. The girls stayed still as death on the stairwell.
"Oh, Drake, we're gonna get caught."
"All right Lana. I know you're here. And Miss Amy Jakes, your parents are on the way."
Amy popped up and revealed the trio.
"How come they're coming?"
"Josie! Uh-oh. Fuck!"
"Lana get down here now!"
"Oh man, I knew we'd get caught."
"Little miss perfect, how come you're in trouble? Didn't you tell your folks where you'd be tonight?"
"I kinda told them I was sleeping over your place, Lana. I mean, Josie's parents are never home and My parents think that the Wong household is a loose one."
"Your parents will deal with you Miss Jakes. As for you Lana, you are now my prisoner. Get your little sack of alcohol and take it home so you can put each and every one of those bottles back in the liquor cabinet where they belong. And you now can no longer hang out with these girls. They bring out the worst in you."
"You can't tell me who my friends are and aren't. And what do you know about me?"
"Plenty. No shut your disrespecting spoiled brat mouth and get in the car."
"Why are you doing this? It's not like I killed some duck or something."
"You lied to me and you violated your punishment."
"Dad, I never lied to you."
"At supper you said that you would stay in your room and not attempt an escape. Now get into the car!"
"Whoa, whoa, whoa. Wait. I kept my promise. I didn't attempt, I executed."
"Enough! I won't tolerate an obstinate and a smart beak! Now get in the car!"
"You don't let me do anything and the only time you notice me is when you're punishing me!"
"I said enough!"
"You make all the rules and never consider my feelings! If mother hadn't died, she would have left you!"
That was the last straw. Francois swung his hand up and slapped her face with a mighty blow.
"Your mother was a saint. I won't have you speaking of her in such a manner."
Lana stared at him, her tears forming in her stubborn eyes. She caressed her cheek slowly as Josie and Amy stared on, dumbfounded. "Now you've embarrassed yourself in front of your former friends. For the last time get in the car."
Lana grabbed her back pack and dashed out the doors, storming to the back seat of the Jaguar. Francois glanced up at Josie and Amy.
"If you call our home, you'll be disconnected."
Francois turned, and left the two girls in horror.
Lana ran into her room and threw her now empty back pack on the couch. She locked her doors and threw herself onto her bed and cried.
"I won't let him rule me."
The next day at school Lana was silent in all her classes. Josie passed a note to her, and when the Chemistry professor caught her, Lana just sat there, unmoving. Lana was walking to her locker after class, when Amy ran up to her from behind.
"Lana. Please don't be sad. If it's any consolation, my mother grounded me and said that I can't associate with you or Josie until I feel sorry for what I did. And you know what? I told her I'm not sorry. So don't go on thinking that we can't be friends. Our parents can't stop the three of us from seeing each other at school."
"I'm not concerned about that. I'll see you and Josie if I want to. I mean, this is senior year at the university. I'm leaving as soon as I can get my share of the inheritance and I can get my car and jet forever."
"Where will you go?"
"New Duck City, Salmia, or better yet. . .Sin City."
"Lana, Sin City is the big time. Are you sure that dangerous city is for you? I mean comon' you've lived a very pampered life."
"Oh I'm sure. I don't fit here. Maybe what I am looking for lies in Sin City."
"Whatever you do, Jose and I will always be your best friends."
"Thanks Ames. So darling? Got a cigarette?"
"I don't smoke, Lana."
"I know. But do you?"The girls laughed as they headed to the courtyard for lunch.
"Where in Puckworld can a guy get a decent bitch?"
Robert threw his can of soda at two nerds across the yard. Just then Lana, Amy and Josie walked into the courtyard.
"What are you thinking Rob?"One of his friends inquired.
"Watch and learn, boys, watch and learn. I'm going to have a little fun."
"Are you going to torment Lana again?"
"You bet he is!"The other duck gave Rob a high five.
"Hey Lana! Want to make the rest of the team happy? Come to practice after school today and let every last team member give you a rub down in the shower. Oh wait. You did that last week!"The five boys burst into an uncontrollable fit of laughter.
"Sure, Johansen. And maybe you can let every last team member give you a rub down too. Oh wait. That was yesterday." Rob flared at the collar as his friends backed away.
"Claire L'eau! You are dead!"Robert ran toward Lana with all the speed of a transit mover, ready to tackle her to the ground. Josie and Amy backed away as Lana stood there, acting uninterested. He dove at her legs, taking her down with him. Lana jumped up, pinning his arm behind his back. Students gathered around as Lana grabbed his neck and twisted his feathers until he squealed like a girl.
"And you're supposed to be QB. What a fag you are, Robby."
Robert broke Lana's hold and twisted her thin body under him, poised to punch her in the beak. Just then, Father Muck, Father Springer and Father Ebony pulled Robert Johansen from Lana. Lana rolled over and slowly got up. She straightened her uniform and headed to her two friends. Amy gave her a hug as Josie petted her back, glaring at Rob and his gang.
"I think you better come with me, Mr. Johansen."
"Everyone has a big but. Go to my office now."
The crowd dispersed and everyone muttered their opinions on the fight. Lana, Josie and Amy sat down in silence.
Later that day, Lana was called down to Father Muck's office. She was pardoned as self defense, and given the greatest information she could get.
"Well. Lana. There was quite a stir today."
"Sorry Father. I didn't mean it this time. It just happened."
"I know. I think that you should know that I spoke to Coach Redfeather and he has kicked Robert Johansen off the varsity team. He is now an ex-jock."Father Muck chuckled.
From her seat, Lana began to smile for the first time that day.
Lana was the last to leave Richmond University that day, and she headed out to her car. Damn, she thought. Why did I park way out here in the boon docks? She reached into her back pack and fumbled for her keys. A chilly wind blew right through her and she shivered.
"Ooh. It's freezing today."
"It is rather cold. Maybe you need some warming up."
Lana looked up to see Robert Johansen in front of her.
"Look, Johansen, I just want to get home, I have to study for that Calculus final tomorrow."
"What's your hurry?"He pushed her.
"Look. It's not my fault you got kicked off the team."
"Huh. You bet it is. Slow down."He pushed her again. Lana tried to avert him. He jumped in front of her.
"I don't want any trouble, Robert."
"I bet you do."He smacked her books right out of her hands.
"I can't believe you! Why are you such a jerk to me?" Lana hit him in the arm, and bent down to pick up her books.
"Because you are a whore. I bet father Muck is boning you. Why else would you get away with half the shit you do? You should have been expelled months ago."He kicked Lana in the ribs.
"Come on Lana. No one is around. Why don't you try and take a hit at me now?"
Lana jumped at him and he grabbed each of her wrists, pushing her slowly and hardly to the icy ground. He pinned her beside her car and she fought him viciously, trying to pull away from him. The harder she fought, the stronger he was at keeping her at bay. She bucked beneath him as he wrestled her body to the cold, hard ice. Her face scraped against the sharp icy parking lot, and he began punching her in the beak.
"Oh, you want to stop? Huh? I ain't through yet, You messed up whore!"
Robert slammed her back hard against the ground, and took out his pocket knife.
"Oh no, please Robert, don't!"
"Oh yeah? Watch this!"
He sliced the outside of her skirt, ripping it off of her, he then cut a slit up the side of her panties, and threw the blade aside. He unzipped his jeans, and held her down. Each time she tried to twist out of his hold, he slammed her back down on the dirty, snowy ground. Bits of glass and cold stones dug into her back as he mounted her, throwing her into a pandemonium of screams.
"No! Get off me! Help! Somebody! Help me!"She let out a wail as he smacked her hard against the face.
"Shut up! You little bitch! Shut up!"He pushed on her abdomen, and rammed himself into her. She screamed as he continued to rape her, and he only stopped to beat her in the ribs and across the beak.
"Stop. . ."She trailed off into a daze, tears staining her face and snow. She was bleeding all over and bleeding between her legs. He scraped her with his blade, sending her into an awakening scream. When he was done, he got up, pulled the knife out from between her legs and threw the it in the red snow. He spat on her and walked away. Lana slowly and carefully got up, moaning in pain, and gathered her ragged clothes quietly and began to cry.
Lana approached her room with caution. She heard her father in the conference room with a big client. Luckily, none of the servants had seen her creep into the house. She bled in her car all the way up, but the seats were black leather and she doubted that anyone would notice the blood before she could clean it up. But later. Later she would clean it up. Lana crept into her palace of a room and began tearing all her clothes off. She struggled to get every bit off of her, and successfully managed to get naked. She ran carefully to her bathroom where she dug up all the soap she could find. She jumped quickly into the shower and turned on the hottest water she could stand. She scrubbed her feathers as vigorously as she could until the bar of soap was non-existent. Lana reached for her wash cloth and began rubbing her open wounds. She screeched as she cleaned between her thighs, reaching the raw flesh that Robert had sliced. She dropped the cloth as the water began to run red, and leaned against the wall of her shower and slowly descended to the floor.
She began to cry.
"What am I going to do? Dad will never believe me that he raped me. And Robert will get off with a slap on the wrist as he always does. There is no way out. I'm trapped."Lana picked up another bar of soap and resumed her cleaning ritual. When she had cleaned her entire body again, she made sure that the water was scalding hot to rinse her off. She turned the shower off and delicately stepped out of the shower stall. She reached for a towel and dried her beaten body. She slipped into her robe and went into her bed chamber, slowly and cautiously walking towards the bureau. She was in immense pain.
She turned around like she had been shot. She realized that Nan was speaking through the communicator by her door.
"Supper will be ready in five minutes."
"I'm. . .I'm not hungry, Nan."Lana said in a meek voice.
"You not feeling well?"Nan seemed to brighten.
"No Nan. I'm not feeling well."
"Okay. I tell your father."Lana heard Nan putz away from her door and the communicator went to static.
"Yes. I'm feeling just dandy."Lana propped down on her bed. She remembered why she was by her bureau in the first place. She opened the doors to her desk and found her hidden key. She opened the compartment that was hidden by books and pulled out a box. She opened the box and looked through its contents. There were various papers and articles on Sin City. There were subway tokens and ticket stubs to various clubs that Lana had snuck away to. Then she picked up an article, and behind it was her prize. A ferry ticket to Sin City National Puckworld Depot. She checked the expiration date on the back and smiled.
"Good through June."It was March. Just then she heard a bang on her door.
"Lana get down here and sup with me now! I don't care if you pick at a roll all night. You came in late, so you have no excuse for being sick!"
"Dad, I just don't feel like it-"
"-Open this door. I refuse to speak through a door crack." Lana gathered the box and its contents and hid it under her bed.
"Computer, open the doors."At Lana's voice command the door opened and Francois strode in.
"Why are you pretending to be sick?"
"Would you believe me if I said I had a dangerous altercation and feel depressed?"
"I thought so."
"Lana I don't know what to do with you. I can't punish you, I can't get through to you, nothing works. Lana. . .I'm sending you to an all girl college in Keltor."
"But the only all girl school in Keltor is a military school for disturbed delinquents."
"I. . .know. I was speaking with the dean on the phone-"
"You set me up."
"-And she and I decided it was best if you finish senior year at her school."
"Why are you doing this?"
"It's a boarding school, so you'll need to pack-"
"Oh I know, You're fed up with me, why don't you say it?"
"-But not too much stuff, the dorm rooms are very small, and there are no windows, so you'll need a lot of lamps and such."
"You wish I would go away and never come back-so you can have the life of solitude you always wanted."
"The girls there have completely turned their life around-"
"And you can't handle trying to love me and accept me for what I am."
"-Sure the treatment of the students there is a little rough, but the end results in fine, well-adjusted young women."
"Admit it! You want me to leave forever so you won't have to deal with me anymore."
"You admit it!"
"Lana that's enough!"
"Admit it, you're guilty!"
"I am guilty of nothing!"
"You won't even hear me out and see what kept me tonight. You don't care!"
"You want to know what happened to me tonight? Huh? I'll tell you!"
"Lana calm down, we need to go over this new school thing calmly and rationally."
"I don't want to calm down! Father, I was raped by Robert Johansen!"For a moment, The air between them stood still as death. Not a sound was made between the two. Lana panted heavily and fell to the ground, sobbing uncontrollably. Francois stared down at her, unable to speak. He felt his gut drop and sag with a removed feeling. How could this happen?
"Of all. . .the terrible. . .things to say. . .how could you ever think of something as ghoulish and fabricated as that? The Johansens are decent people that are never far from kindness. How dare you make up such a lie as that!?!"
"But dad, it really happened!"
"Enough! I'm sick of your lies!"
"But dad, please believe me!"
"I've had enough! You won't be going to school tomorrow, because you'll be busy packing! You'll report to the reformation school on Monday!"Francois ran out of the room and slammed her doors.
"That's it. I'm leaving and I am not ever coming back."
That night Lana packed a few of her precious belongings and money that she had, and loaded her things into her car. She had on a long, black trench coat and spiked boots. She jumped into her car and sped away. When she reached the gate, she opened it, threw her key chain out her window, and drove down the road. She headed south, toward the docks of Grove Island. Lana clutched her ticket for the ferry ride to Sin City, and sped up. She turned on her radio and blasted the loudest guitar band she could find. She looked at her digital clock. Midnight. Lana was now eighteen years old.
"Happy birthday to me."Lana lit a cigarette and inhaled deeply.
"I need something stronger this time."She sped up even faster, passing Amy's house. "Oh shit. I can't leave without saying goodbye to my best friend."Then she remembered Josie, too, three miles back in the other direction. "Ah to hell with it. I'm leaving everything."A tear trickled down her face and she wiped it away. Lana drove past Johansen Manor and recoiled in her seat. Suddenly she felt extremely sick, pained and filthy all over. "That bastard ruined everything. He'll pay one day. I don't know how, but I'll make sure he pays." Lana was only a couple miles to the docks, then she reached the snowy woods' clearing. There she saw it. Rolling down the hilly road and straight ahead of her. It was the gleaming lights of Sin City, six miles out to land past this retched island. Sin City was very close now, just a mile or two to the docks. Lana hit the gas and ran the road as fast as her car could take it.
Lana pulled her car into the bottom of the ship's hull, parking it with the other vehicles. When she checked her bags with the desk of the ship, she bumped into a purple hared girl of about her own age.
"Why don't you watch where you're going."The purple hared girl muttered under her breath.
"Why don't you?"
"Lucretia are you coming or not?"A young man with peach feathers and a dashing tuft of hair called over to her. He looked a bit younger than her. He came closer and Lana noticed a brown mark across the front of his beak.
"My boyfriend. I'll be right there, Canard. See you later wench."Lucretia walked over to the boy.
"That wasn't very nice. I'll have to make an example of her."A man and his wife looked at Lana funny, for she was talking to herself. Lana noticed them. "Do you mind? This is a private conversation."
Lana leaned against the rails of the ship, gazing out at the bright lights ahead of her. Soon, soon she would be where she would belong forever. Lana sighed, breathing in the brisk, cool ocean air. I wonder if Robert feels sorry for what he did to me, she thought. Then she felt a pain in her abdomen.
"No he doesn't."Lana began to silently cry. Boy, she thought, no more crying once I reach Sin City. Now it's all or nothing and I'll never look back at anyone again. Too many people hurt you and let you down. Then she thought about Josie and Amy. They were good friends. But if she thought about them, she would cry even more, and Lana didn't want that. Robert Johansen. He was a snake in duck's clothing. I hope he meets some big gay man named Bubba who will make him his special friend. She laughed at that thought. No, she thought, I hope his penis shrivels up and falls off on day when he goes out where it's cold and unbearable. She knelt over suddenly, feeling peel after peel of pain in her abdomen. She rushed to the bathroom and began to bleed again. Her big black coat hid everything and she felt better. But why was she bleeding? It wasn't her time of the month, so why? She remembered the sharp blade of Robert's pocket knife and winced in recreated pain.
Francois knocked on Lana's door. No answer. He turned on her door com.
"Lana, it's your father. I feel just horrible about earlier this evening. Lana?"
He patched in the combination to her door and it opened slowly. "Lana?"Francois crept closer to her bed. He looked around. No sign. Then he saw it, taped to her bureau.
Sorry dad, but we just don't mesh. I can't make you happy and you can't accept me for what I am. So I thought, that it would be better if I left. I refuse to go to that school in Keltor. You have to at least understand that. I left. I'm sorry we couldn't be closer. I want to believe that you love me, but I can't. There will be no trail to find me and please, do not try. It's better this way. Maybe some day I'll look back and I'll say, ' You didn't mean to treat me the way you did. You must have been hurt as a child.' And maybe, just maybe we can reunite again when I've grown. But. . . I am a woman now and I can deal with life. I know I can.
I wish we could have known each other better.
Francois fell to his knees and stared at the note with tears forming in his eyes.
"What have I done?"
Lana got into her car when the last bag was packed in the back seat. She turned the key and looked up and frowned. There was that Lucretia chick and her boyfriend. They were fighting.
"It's time to have a little fun."Lana hit the gas petal and sped ahead, nearly running Lucretia over.
"Hey you crazy bitch!"
"Just returning the favor, darling."Lana sped past her just in time to hear that Canard scream.
"-And I'm going back to DuCaine Metropolis whether you like it or not! I have friends there that aren't stuck up like you!"
"What are you saying?"
"I'm not staying in Sin City-you can rot here Lucretia!" he ran toward the bus depot nearby.
Lana threw her head back and laughed.
When Lana got to the heart of town, she could hardly believe what she saw. There were prostitutes on every corner, shady dealers in every ally, neon bright lights illuminating every street and loud music coming from every building. The street was dark and black, and the roads were wet with slush and smoke. A bum nearly got ran over by Lana's car, and startled her. She hit the breaks just in time to hear him curse her out.
"This is definitely my kind of town."
Lana cruised the boulevard and looked from her left to her right. All the decent hotels were in midtown.
She drove on and found the life pulse of the city; the crime district. A club that was huge and well lit stood out like a beacon in the dark: The Diamond Roost.
"This looks promising, Well darling, it's time to investigate."
There were bouncers and a red carpet lining the doorway to the intimate and gargantuan club. Snow covered the plants that framed the doorway and motion lights filled the opening.
Lana got out of her car. She straightened her coat, grabbed her purse and locked her car. Then, she approached the club. A bouncer held his arms out in a line I front of her.
"Where do you think you're going? This club is private."
"Aw, comon' you're telling me that you don't recognize me? I am-"
"My date. It's all right Clarence. She's with me." Lana spun around to see an older duck, maybe twenty years her senior at the least. He had a thick Franzian accent. (French) "Come with me ma petite vert bijou ."He clasped her hand and guided her into the club.
"So sorry Mister BluLune, I didn't know."
"You're forgiven."He pushed past the bouncer with an egotistical air. He leaned over to whisper in Lana's ear. " Take off your coat, it doesn't match."
Dumbly, Lana wrestled out of her coat. Who was this man? " Much better."He seemed to gawk at her, eyeing her up and down. He shamelessly stared down at her ample chest.
"Look. I don't know who you are, but you can quit staring at my breasts."He smirked.
"Number one, I'm admiring your necklace. Second, I got you in here so I'll do what I damn well please and third, I can't help but be taken in by your charms."
"Smooth. But I don't hang with anyone that I don't know. What's your name?"He bowed gracefully and kissed her hand.
"Je suis Michele Du BluLune, mademoiselle. And at your service."
"Lana Claire L'eau."
"Oh you have a little Franz in you?"
"Half. I'm Cardakian. My mother was Lianan."(Hawaiian)
"Very nice. I like your outfit. Very cyber gang meets miss kitty."
"I like your outfit. Very dark angel meets street bum."
"A touche! You have a sharp and witty tongue."
"Can I buy you a drink?"
"I was wondering when you'd ask that."Michele led her to a secluded part of the club. On the way, Lana took in the red and gold tapestries. Lana noticed the long bar and the numerous pool tables. The whole club was well lit and booming with sound, red and gold finery everywhere. Lana looked up and noticed the chandeliers, crystal diamond studded, glowing with cruel light. Servers glided by on hover crafts, daintily placing orders on vast, shiny tables. The clientele were glamorous and sinful looking. All gangsters and thieves with high breeding. The club had four stages, and a few shows were going on when Lana passed them up.
"Those are the worst singers I have ever heard."
"Well Lana cherie, this is the best entertainment this club could find. Unless you can do better."
"Well. . .I myself am an accomplished singer and dancer. Thanks to my natural talents. . .and I find it hard to believe that these are the best entertainers this club could get. If I met the owner, I would tell them they are the dumbest person on Puckworld. Anyone can see that this place is rich enough to afford better."
"As a mater of fact, you just met the owner."
"Pardonez-moi for not fully introducing myself. Michele Du BluLune famous escape artist, bounty hunter and owner of the Diamond Roost."
"Wait, wait, wait! You are the BluLune? You mean the Silver Streak?"
"The very one."
"No cop has ever been lucky enough to catch you!"
"Why yes, I am hard t- did you say 'lucky'?"
"Of course. You aren't one of those arrogant people that believe that skill is everything?"
"Absolutment, you snotty girl!"
"Look pops, don't call me snotty just because I hit home."
"Why you little-"Michele grinded his fist and shook it in front of Lana's beak, threatening. Then the unspeakable happened. He began to laugh. "Well, ma petite vert bijou, you certainly are a hot one."
"I tried to warn you you'd get burned by a diva like me."
"You did no such thing. Besides you are too young to be a diva. How old are you?"
"I just want to know what I am up against."
"You are lying, ma cherie."
"If I am lying, may you find your wallet."
"What?!"Lana produced his wallet and smiled coyly. The bar tender came up to them.
"What'll it be, boss. . .and who is this foxy young lady, Grrrrr?"
"How you say? Lay off Ted. She is with me tonight."
"Don't worry I am just hanging around until something better comes around."Lana laughed out loud, like plush velvet.
"She is a witty one."
"Yes she is. I want a Kamikaze. And Lana here will have-"
"- A Black Cat, no ice. I like my vodka straight."
"Don't call me baby, tender."
"Hot one, Ted, she's a hot one."
Lana and Michele sat in the back room, near the casino, but private enough to make deals, unmolested. Michele opened the curtain that divided them from the rest of the club to show her something.
"You see all this, all of this, how you say, club?"
"I built it out of stolen funds ten years ago. I made it so dirty dealers could feel like royalty, and prospecting fools could lose money to me. This, is how you say? The biggest racket in crime next to the Brotherhood."
Michele closed the curtain.
"The Brotherhood of the Blade?"
"The very one, ma cherie. And I can only tell you three more things about it."
"Je n'dit pas, ma petite vert bijou."
"First, I am an outsider to the Brotherhood. I make deals with them, and that is all that it will ever be, second, they are a dangerous bunch, stay away from them, Lana."
"I like danger."
"Not their kind. And last, they are always looking for new blood. Be on your toes."
"You make them sound like a cult or something."
"Oui. C'est vrais."Michele leaned back in his blood red velvet chair, and rested his chin on his thumb and forefinger. Lana looked him over for the first time. He was a dashing man. Old money was draped around him like a fine cologne. He had white feathers, a strong build, and he was only an inch or two taller than Lana. Then again, most men were only taller by a fraction of an inch next to Lana. His hair stopped at his shoulders, it was gray and had silver streaks on the sides of his head. The bangs curved on either side of his forehead, showing off his finely chiselled face. He had two side burns that went down each side of his longish beak, and his eyes were a deep gray. His eyes! The were so deep and powerful. They were slanted like Lana's and sparkled with mischief. Michele slowly smiled. His teeth were like rows of fine porcelain, perfect to the eye.
"Is there Something in my beard, ma cherie?"
"What? Oh nothing! I was just thinking. . . I could, that is. . .I could be your apprentice."
Michele leaned forward and clasped her hands in his.
"Now why would I want to do that?"He smiled wickedly.
"Because, I am on my own, and I have twelve years of acrobat lessons under my belt, I can swipe anything and not get caught," Lana showed him his wallet again. He took it from her. " I am a fast learner, this is the life for me, and I work well with animals."
"Ma petite vert bijou, how do you know crime is the best way to go?"
"Because there is no other way out for me."Lana groaned in pain as her abdomen gave her a caveat of sharp discomfort. Damn Robert!
"I find it hard to believe that someone as young as you already has no where to go. Don't you have a family?"
"Who are you? Some kind of padre? Look, I ran away and I am never going back. There is no other life for me, unless you turn me out onto the streets, and I become some hooker or drug dealer. And it will be all your fault!"
"Why do you think I care? Eh? You are not my concern, Lana. Why should I feel obligated to you?"
"Because my hand is in your lap."The cloister went silent.
"You are. . . only a girl. . ."
"I can see right through you."
"Oh really, I'm wearing black underwear."
"Are you always this up front?"
"No. Sometimes I'm aggressive."
"Look, ha. Lana. You are a young lady. Behave like one." He removed her hand from his lap with a delighted smile.
"Why is it that everyone is always telling me I need to behave? If I acted dully and quietly, no one would take me seriously!"
"You really want to be my apprentice?"
"Absoultment, mon chere."Michele began to smile wickedly again.
"You are a hot one."
"You better believe it buddy."
"I like you."
"And I like you."Lana slinked up from her velvet chair and sauntered over to him.
"What are you doing, little one?"Lana smiled and wrapped her arms around his neck.
"Just this."She leaned into his chest and kissed him passionately, pulling his face closer to hers. His beard rubbed into her delicate face's feathers, mixing silver with gold. He grabbed her small of her back and pulled her closer to him. Deeply, he kissed her, and held her close so the heat from their bodies mingled. She seemed to consume his face, knocking him backwards, bringing her down with him to the floor. He held her closer to himself and dug his fingers into her back. She let him caress her back and follow her spine to her hips. He moved his hands close to her thighs, and she winced. He sensed this, and began caressing her hips again. Lana got up like a bolt of lightening hit her. She pulled away from him slowly and stood up.
"Sil-vous plait, ma petite vert bijou, don't play the holy mother now."
"I want another drink."
"Go buy it. Here,"he tossed her some money. " Come back here when you bring back us our drinks. We have much to talk about."
"Is that a yes?"
"Yes, I can be your apprentice?"
"Oui, oui. Tu toujours un taquin!"
"I always get what I want."
"Alle, alle. Get me some whisky this time."
Lana waltzed back from the bar to the cloisters of the Diamond Roost. She went the opposite end of the cloisters, where there were larger, private cubicles. Lana stopped as she heard one curtained cloister conversation. A young man's voice spoke up, making her writhe at his slimy tones.
"It's about bloody time the old boy made us saber students." Another voice spoke up, a more suave voice with a Keltorian accent.
"Come on Ernie, we're still ahead of these guys."A group of young voices protested comically, throwing things out at the Keltorian. Lana backed up as a bottle flew out from behind the curtain.
"So, when do you think we'll get promoted to Red Circle?"
"Ease up, we just got SS tonight. Let's just party with our fellow Brothers and celebrate our swift entrance into next ranking."
"Yeah, Duke's right. Come on, let's see if that cute pink hared babe is still dancing on the naughty stage in the east wing of this place."
"Later, I'm finishing this one. Done."Duke threw the bottle out the curtain.
"We are going to get billed for all those empty bottles."
"Who cares? What's Michele gonna do about it? The Brotherhood will keep him at bay."
"Ernie, that's not how we work."
"Duke, old buddy, you need to get your priorities straight."
"And so do you!"Sounds of heavy chairs being pushed around and tables being moved filled the air.
"Whoa, whoa, Duke, Falcone, cool it. You've both had a little too much to drink and you need to chill out."The cloister fell silent.
"Yeah. You're right, pal. Ernie, sorry."
"No problem, old buddy. I'm just a bit nervous about the first heist tomorrow."
"Yeah. It's either gonna make or break us tomorrow night."
"Big Rock Jewels and Company is The third largest jeweler in Sin City."
"It's the big time."
Lana backed slowly and stealthily away from the large corner, and headed on back to Michele's corner.
"Here's your whisky, Michele."Lana sang.
"Very good. But you are late. I was beginning to think that you weren't coming back."
"Of course I was,"Lana tossed her long emerald locks out of her way. "I can't keep away from you."She smiled seductively.
"Sacre Blu. You are a hot one. I suppose you want something else?"
"Two things, actually. One, I want to be a performer here. I passed the girl with pink hair and nearly vomited at her abilities. Just hear my voice and watch me dance, and you'll see my talents."
"Ma cherie, I am well aware of your talents."He eyed her up and down. "But I'll need to hold a general audition for you."
"Whatever. You'll see. I was on the dance squad back in sch- ha. Back in the day I was known as a great dancer. At least at the theater back home, I was known as a swan on the dance floor, and a lark in the singing studio."
"And a devil in bed, I'd wager."
"Uh-huh. So you'll hire me?"
"Look, just because I'll keep you as my apprentice, doesn't mean I will accept you as my lead although you are a terrific little actress. I can see that already."
"Of course I am. I am loaded with talent."
"Anyway. . ."
"Anyway, Isn't there a bank across the street from the Big Rock Jewels and Company?"He nodded.
"Oui. The second biggest bank in all of Sin City."
"Excellent. I have a plan."
Michele led Lana to his private hidden flat, about ten stories above the shining club. He had blindfolded her, so not to know where they were. Lana bumped her head on the foyer doorway.
"Desole, ma petite oiseau."
"Yeah whatever. Can I take this blindfold off now? I mean I like kinky stuff as much as the next duck, but this is ridiculous."
"Of course, of course."Michele led her gently into his flat, and with both hands, clasped the bottom of her curvy waist.
"Hold it there, cowboy, that's south of the boarder."
"Not to a Franzian."He pulled the knot loosely off the blindfold, and let it glide to the floor.
"Okay."Michele caressed the side of her cheek. " Don't you want to hear my plan, Michele?"
"Mais oui. Go on. . ."He began nibbling at the nape of her neck.
"Well. . .uh. . .you see. . .um. . . I have this idea. . .geez. . ."
"Oui. . ."
"I overheard some young members of the. . .wow. . ."
"Oui. . ."
"They were talking about a. . .what. . .do you call. . .it? A Heist! Yeah. . .yeah. Aaaaaand Michele what are you doing?"
"Never mind. Go on, ma cherie, go on."He focused his kisses to her back and collar bone.
"Yeah. . .and where was I?"
"Le heist. . ."
"Yes, the heist! Anyway, they weretalkingaboutrobbing. . .The Big Rock. . .Jewelers and Company."
"Big Rock Jewels . . ."
"Yeah. And I was thinking that, well, that, we could rob the bank while they are robbing the Jewelers, and call the cops when we finished, distracting them with the jewel robbery. . .ah. . ."
"And what if the police find us?"
"You see that's the beauty of it. . .stop. . .while the cops are busy with the Brotherhood, we'll have a clean getaway."
Michele stopped his kisses and pulled away from Lana. He suddenly got very serious and cross with her.
"Lana you did not just say the Brotherhood?"
"Well, yeah, yeah I did."
"Out of the question! You are, how you say? Crazy!" Michele ran over to his bar and poured a shot of liquor and downed it swiftly.
"Aw, come on Michele, darling! It will be easy!"
"Non, non, c'est impossible! Je n'irais pas tu-ecoute!"
"Blah-ray cute nose fa to you to!"
"You are dreaming!"
"Come on, darling, it will be easy. You are a professional, I am talented, smart, and a quick learner. . .please!"
"No-- and that is my final answer! You don't know what you are talking about, you are how you say, clueless to the matter at hand!"
"I am not, I wish you would give me the benefit of the doubt. I have a good idea!"
"The subject is not open for discussion."
"Then how am I supposed to learn anything?"
"In bebe steps. I will put you through extensive training. For one, what weapons can you use?"
"Well, there's the. . .and. . .I can. . .look, I can do a quadruple back flip with a blade in my beak and I can climb a rope faster than anyone, and. . ."
". . .And you are talking out your ass."
"Look, I can learn."
"Oui, you better learn. Fast. I think, I am thinking that you are, a whip girl. And how are you at aim?"
"Well, I don't know."
"Think fast!"Michele hurled a small street blade at her head, and she caught it, without a doubt.
"You threw a knife at my face!"
"You caught it."
"You threw a knife at my face!"
"You threw a knife at my face!"
"We covered that. It is final. Tomorrow I will start you on whip training and shooting. Later, if you show promise, I will teach you the sword."
"You can sword fight?"
"Oui. One thing that the Brotherhood gave me in return for my services."
"It will be a day to remember. Now. . ."Michele glided wickedly toward Lana. "About that general audition. . ." He put his hands on her hips, and pulled her close as light to his body.
"My dear Michele. . .are you suggesting the casting couch? Naughty, naughty."
"You have no idea."He kissed her passionately, pulling her beak into his. He broke the kiss and stared deeply into her aquatic eyes. "Come with me."
Lana jolted away from him, her abdomen pulling her insides in agony.
He gently placed her hand against his face.
"You are so cold. You need warming up."
"What did you say?"
"I said come to bed with me."
"I. . ."
"I can't. It's just that. . .No!"
"Lana. . .look at me. Look. I will guarantee that it will be worth your while."
"It's just that I've been. . .you see-I am in pain."
"Is it your time. . .?"
"I've been. . .killed inside."
"I. . .have been raped. . .yesterday night."Her voice was barely audible.
` "I see. Ma cherie, who was it? A friend? A stranger? Someone you trusted?"
"What is the rat bastard's name?"Michele was stern and almost forceful.
"Who is he? So that I might teach him a lesson?"
"Michele, I can't. Besides, you could never find him."
"I am a bounty hunter. Give me a name and a country, and I can find any person."
Lana paused from what she was about to say. Then an overwhelming wave of hatred fell over her as she remembered the horrible attack and a sharp, cruel pain jutted out from her belly and thighs.
"He lives on Grover Island. His name is Robert Johansen."
"I see. Thank you."
"What are you going to do?"
"Do you care?"
"NO. I just want to know."
"If he confesses, nothing. . .life altering. If he denies his crime, he will pay in pain and humiliation."
"Oh."Lana turned away from Michele. He came over to where she was standing, and turned her to face him.
"Lana. Listen to me. I will never hurt you. I have no desire to kill any part of you, remember this always-I have no desire to ever hurt you."
"You aren't going to bust into song are you?"
"Lana. Be serious."
"Will you come with me?"
Lana looked deep into his gray eyes and sighed. He was a manipulator, a devil-may-care criminal that was most likely lying to her to get what he wanted. Who was to say that he'd even be by her side in the morning? Lana gazed at him with hate and lust. Damnit, what a fucker. Still something made her nod and hold out her hand. Michele took her hand into his, and led her to his bedroom.
That morning, Lana stretched her arms out lazily and sighed like a baby. She pulled the black satin sheets over her naked body, and opened her eyes. Lana laid there, contented, like a cat. What a night she had! First she was taken in by a continental playboy, and then she experienced first hand how well a Franzian could make love. She yawned and stretched her arms out again. Lana rolled over to her side, and reached out to Michele's empty pillow. She jumped up. Fucker. How could he? Then she realized. She would leave too. Lana got up, and showered. She sang melodiously, and it echoed like an opera house in Michele's vast shower stall. Too bad old Franzia boy isn't here to hear my true talents, she thought. When she finished, she got out of the shower and prepped for her day. If Michele was going to love and leave then she was going to get paid for it. First, she went through his things, and searched for the right supplies. She glanced over at the clock. 11:57. Damn! Only an afternoon, a little bit of evening, and she would be pulling the first major heist of her life. So Michele didn't want to help her? So what. She was about to hit the mother lode. Maybe if she got caught dear old dad would bail her out and take her back home. No! He would send her to that horrible correctional facility in Keltor. Besides, Lana never got caught unless she got too sloppy on purpose; to surprise the elders, as she called it. Lana made a plan. In and out in minutes. But bi-passing the alarms? How could she do it? Lana looked over her shoulder and picked up a gadget that she recognized from her strategy class report. Lana read the inscription.
"'To turn off alarms. Invention of the Brotherhood of the Blade. Top Secret.' Well, well. Michele you high class thief. Stealing from the big time are you?"
Lana glanced over the instructions.
"To set. . .blah, blah, blah. . .to use. . .ah! To work in high risk situations. Jack pot!"
Lana gathered her tools and set out to explore Michele's enormous flat. She came across a box in the main hall that was made of redwood and had intricate designs carved in the fine, soft external. Lana squinted closely at the carvings. It was a story. . .of ancient Puckworld lore engraved on the box. She saw men in arms galloping away on mounts with swords in their fists. In the distance there was a village burning. Lana turned the box to look on to the other side. There were the men again, this time, they sat at tables over pouring with goods and treasure. They all held their swords in the air and looked sinister. Lana turned the box upside down with much effort, and heard coins and paper shifting inside the fancy box. There was an inscription on the bottom of the box. Lana read it aloud.
"To one brother from another. Forever in debt to you BluLune, forever bound by honor.'"
Lana dropped the box and it fell onto the marble floor with a loud crash. Money poured out of the box, coins rolled everywhere. There were bills of thousand marked denominators.
"Wow. . .maybe I should skip the bank and live off of Mike. . .one thousand. . .two thousand. . .I'll just put these where they'll be safe."Lana stuffed a few bills in her shirt. She cleaned up her mess, and put the box back where she found it. She looked at the clock in the hall. 12:18.
"Time for lunch, darling."
It was nearly five o'clock and Michele hadn't returned yet. Where could he be? Lana tapped her foot against the foot rest on the bar she sat at. She played with the wine bottles and stopped to check the dates on the vintage. Lana made a double take as she scrutinized the date. They were over twenty five years old.
"I learn more about you each moment, darling."
"Sil-vous plait, don't play with those. They are my pride and joy."
Lana spun around to see Michele leaning in the doorway in full splendor. He was wearing a long black coat that framed his strong build. He had black leather pants on with various belts latched on to sacks of sorts. His shirt was royal blue and hidden by a stylish bullet proof gray vest. He looked so sexy staring at her across the room with his goddamned air of arrogance.
"Michele! I didn't hear you come in."
"Rule number one, ma petite vert bijou, 'the true master of stealth is never seen or heard.'"
"Oh. Can we get ready for the heist or what?"
"Lana. My little queen, you are not ready."
"Oh yes I am. I have great credentials."
"Do you ever give up?"
"No. Not until I get what I want, and believe me, I always do."
"What are you, incompetent?"
"No. I'm a Leo."
"Very nice. I'm an Aries. Now will you listen to me or not?"
"Okay, but no groping this time."
"But of course."He winked at her and got up from the dimly lit doorway. He started towards her and reached out for her hand. "Come with me, ma petite vert bijou." He whispered into her ear.
"Man, you are an animal."
"What? Be serious, Lana. Come on."He led her to a wall that was covered with moldings on it and spectacular designs. "What do you see?"
Lana smirked and turned her head slowly to him.
"Looks can be deceiving."
"Tell me about it."Michele reached over to a specific design on the wall and turned it. Immediately, the wall slid away to reveal a dank, dark and haunting stairwell.
"Shall we?"He smiled.
"Hold on Mr. Franzia. How do you know I'm not a spy?"
"Oh, I know. I have ways."He winked at her. Lana shrugged her shoulders and followed him down the corridors. The stairs were only a few flights. There was a glass elevator that took them further down. Lana put her hands on the glass and stared in awe. As they descended, the walls seemed to vanish into metal chrome that turned into computer screens and equipment. They went down a little further, and Lana noticed a cascading waterfall against the dark, stone backgrounds. There was high tech equipment everywhere. The elevator stopped with a thump, and the door opened.
"Ah, here we are."
Lana fell back on her heels.
"But where is here?"
"This is Station one, there are three other posts in the city, ten, in all of Puckworld. Welcome to where it all begins."
"Wow. . .So this is, home base?"
"Oui, C'est vrais, absolutment."
"So. Are you going to teach me how to use all this stuff?" Lana gestured at the computers and gear that decked the walls. She turned and noticed a flight hanger.
"You will learn how to use everything and fight like a demon. Under my guide, you will become a force to be reckoned with."
"Are these hover crafts for real? Oooh. . .what's this thingy?"
"Everyone will tremble under the name of Lana. . .Mon Deiu. We can't use your last name. It has no flair, no character."
"Is this a personal star cruiser?"
"How about. . .Lana the Cat? No, no. Lana Dangerfeather. . .no, one must earn that sort of name. Eh. . .Sacre bleu. . .what name. . ."Michele noticed that Lana was bending over the engine block to his street cruiser for the first time.
"Wow Michele, this baby has 98 double K. A supreme example of a newer model. You could go 0 to 210 in seconds with this cherry."
"Mon Deiu."Michele mumbled. He watched as the light in the dark room highlighted the back of Lana's hair, and jumped up. That was it! Her beautiful, green hair that reached her knees and shone like jewels against velvet. Lana turned to him, grease on her pretty, yellowish face.
"What?"She wiped her face clean and Michele gazed at her green-blue eyes.
"Emerald. Your name is now Lana Emerald."
"Lana Emerald. I like the sound of that."
"Good. Now to the matter of your attire."
"What's wrong with my clothes?"
"You need an image so people will remember you, so that they will fear you."
"Leather. Black. No. Indigo leather, Cat pants, corset, the whole, how you say? Deal."
"Nice. Anything else?"
"We start on whip lessons right now. I will have you the mistress of the whip faster than you can imagine possible."
"What about real weapons?"
"They will come only when I am sure that you are confident in what I teach you."
"I am confident."
"Oui. I already know of your confidence. What I am unsure of is your skill."
"Just let me rob the bank tonight when the Brotherhood is in action and you'll see my skill."
"Merde! Let it go already! You will not rob that bank and that is final!"
"Elle est tres fou-fou. You will give me a heart attack."
Lana smiled innocently and sauntered over to him she got close enough to set him on fire, and caressed his chest.
"Only if you let me."
Lana reached down and delicately grabbed his groin.
He stiffened under her touch.
"Lana. . ."
"Now, are you going to let me rob that bank and prove my worth to you or not?"
He moved her hand from his crotch to his shoulder.
"YOU ARE IMOSSIBLE!"
"SO ARE YOU!"
"Why not let me? It's the perfect crime."
"You have never pulled a heist of this proportion before in your life."
"How do you know."
"Sil-vous plait. You are a child-"
"-And you don't know what you are asking."
"Oh I see, You'll keep me as your apprentice and you'll fuck me, but you won't let me have this one little thing?"
"It is not so little. Case closed. I need to go up top to the club. I have business to attend to tonight. You will stay here or in the flat but you will not leave. I will put a radar on you to prevent you from leaving without me knowing. Computer? Identify Lana Emerald."
"Identified. Please wait while I process. . ."
"Lana there are secret passages to this section all over the building. Tomorrow I will show them all to you. Along with the sections two, three and four. Then you will learn of all the other sections in Puckworld. It will be facile. After the computer identifies you, you will be allowed in and out of all the sections."
"Lana Emerald in memory. Speak now, Lana."
"What should I say?"
"Computer memory finalized."
"Facile, Lana. Now Computer will recognize your voice all over the terminals."Michele leaned over to Lana's cross figure and bent down an inch to face her. He held her delicate face in his hand.
"Now Lana. This is your life that you are giving to me. You must never speak of what you learn to anybody, you can never go home, and you can never associate with anything or body of your past."
"Bon. You are an exceptional woman."He kissed her deeply and sincerely. "Good night, Lana Emerald."
Michele turned away and headed towards a new passage. Then he was gone.
"Good night, and good luck keeping me here tonight, darling."
Lana pulled her car to a secluded spot and waited. The Brotherhood of the Blade said that they'd be here tonight. She waited until the street fell asleep, then got out of her car. She put out her cigarette and threw it out her window.
"Now's my chance."
Lana gathered her gear and hustled over to the rear entrance of the bank.
Duke and Falcone gestured for their fellows to follow them into the secret passage the found into the jewellers. Duke was the first to enter.
"Oh yeah, now this is what I'm talkin' about."Duke looked over the joint, and gazed at the many cases filled with precious gems. Falcone jumped in after him.
"Why do you always get to go in first?"
"I dunno. Just lucky I guess."
"Is the coast clear?"Three other Brothers entered and held the door open with a sword.
"All ready fellas."
"L'Orange, this is gonna be the bomb!"
Lana pried open the door and landed with a thud.
"Gee, this is going to be like taking candy from a baby."
Lana fished around in her sack for a device. She pulled out a visor and put it on. She flipped a switch and an info red screen popped up. "Okay. No motion detectors. Lana entered the main storage bin of the bank and tripped over some wires. " Damn! Okay, okay. I didn't set anything off. Good." Lana got up slowly, and dodged a laser beam that swooped over her head. "Damn! That was close."
Falcone finished the last of his chore.
"Yes. Done at last. I amaze myself."
"Yeah, yeah. You're a real prize winner. Now let's go now."
"Duke, old chum. Are you getting a little nervous?"
"Naw. But there's a bank across the street. Whataya say we go shopping for some dough?"
Ernie Falcone began to laugh.
"Thirty. . .forty. . .ah! one hundred! That's over ten thousand bucks right here. Well, Lana my dear, you've certainly out done yourself."Lana chuckled as she shut the vast door to the safe. That bi-passing device she borrowed from Michele really came in handy. Lana headed out to the long hall and put her info red detectors on. No alarms in sight. She heard some cars outside the bank, and started running towards the back. She was looking behind her and did not see the young duck she ran head on into.
"Watch it, willya?"
"Who are you to interfere with. . .?"
Lana looked up from the ground, and clutched her money close to her breasts. There stood a handsome and daring young man about twenty something. His color was a deep gray, and he had the most beautiful eyes. Almost. . .like Michele's. Except his were chestnut colored. He had a flowing tuft of hair that seemed to defy gravity. He stood over her with his hands on his hips. He was elegant looking, like a dancer. He seemed to be scrutinizing her back. Lana hurried up and stood in front of him. They were eye to eye.
"I am Duke L'Orange. Who are you, kitten?"
"Lana Emerald."She said it proudly and stuck out her chest. He glanced down at her breasts and let out a low whistle.
"Get out of my way."
"Hey L'Orange! What's going on?"
Four others joined him at staring at the lovely green hared thief.
"Oh. Who is that?"Ernie asked in awe.
"Boys, this is Lana Emerald."
"Never heard of you, babe, but what do you say to a candle lit dinner and me?"
"You're dreaming Kickwing."
"Damn honey-you're robbing this bank all by your little self?"
"Don't call me babe, don't call me honey. And I'm nearly six feet tall."
"Huh. Right. My dear, I am Ernie Falcone and at your service."
"Your name is Ernie?"
"Go on,"Lana started to laugh.
"Look, it's a family name!"
"Whatever."She laughed even harder. Duke started to laugh too.
"You're all right kitten."
"Yeah. Thanks. Now get out of my way,"Lana said in her husky, droll voice.
"I say, now that's pretty rude."
"Yeah, kitten, I wouldn't talk with such disrespect if I was you."
"Whatya say boys, should we let Miss Emerald here get by."
"Look I don't want any trouble."
"I dunno, Kickwing?"
"Well, sorry Miss . . .Lana Emerald. But you aren't leaving until you hand over that sack of dough."
"Oh, I am serious sweetheart. You think you can escape the big guys?"
"You don't scare me."
"Oh no? Swiftbeak, Kickwing, get her!"
"NO!"Lana kicked them each in the gut and ran with her money, towards the back entrance. They peeled over in pain and nausea.
"Leaving so soon, babe?"Ernie Falcone stood in front of her with his arms out in front of him.
"Yeah, like right now, dickhead!"Lana kneed him in the groin, and he doubled over. She dodged a beam, and reflected it back so it hit the boys directly. Duke dodged it as it hit Falcone.
"Damn that bitch!"Ernie shouted over the intensely loud alarms.
"Should we go after her, Duke?"
"Naw. Let her go. She's earned it."Duke watched as Lana sped away in her car, undetected by the alarms. "Until we meet again, kitten."
Police cars sped past her car, unsuspecting a woman, and drove towards the jewel and bank circuit. By the time they got to the scene of the crime, the thieves were long gone.
"What were you thinking?! You could have got caught! Mon Deiu! You will be the death of me, Lana!"
"Relax, darling. I got ten thousand gees, you got a new promising, apprentice."
"You!"Michele reached for a small packet in a hidden drawer and spilled the contents out onto the counter. "Sacre Bleu! Je suis tres fache a la tu! Tres, tres, fatigue de c'est!" He pointed at her.
"You, are impossible!"
"Oh come off it! It was a success! No one could have done a better job. I told you, when I want something, I get it."
"But you were in spitting distance of the police!"
"Don't worry they were busy with that Duke guy and his friends, most likely."
"Mon deiu, C'est fou! What? What did you say? Did you say. . .Duke?"
"Yes. Duke. . .L'Orange? Yes. And some guy named, get this, Ernie Falcone. There were two other guys, but I don't rem-"
"-WHAT?!? Duke L'Orange! And Falcone?"
"They ma cherie, are of the Brotherhood. . .And that Duke is not far away from being the leader!"
"Oh, darling. Is that all? Really. You have nothing to fear. I got away."Michele went through her things.
"You stole this, and this? And this? Wait un moment. . . Do you realize that these tool are from the Brotherhood?"
"Duh. They say that on the labels."
"It took me a couple days, let alone a week or so to learn how to use this, and this. . ."
"What can I say? I told you that I am a fast learner."
"Merde . . ."Michele whimpered.
"Come on, darling. Admit it. You've just taken on a prize one hunter and you are the A-one top banana duck. And, darling it's hunting season."Lana knelt down to where he was sitting, rubbing his temples.
"And I have the double barrel gold-sprung rifle and you are staring down the shoot. . .Bang."
Michele looked wearily up at her, not moving. There was complete anger and lust in his eyes.
"I know. You don't know whether you want to hit me or kiss me."
"I want to how you say. . .strangle you."Lana laughed softly.
"Go ahead."Lana straightened up and looked about her. "I could use a cigarette."
"I could use some Bliss."
Michele gestured toward the counter.
"Help yourself, ma petite vert bijou."
Lana picked up the packet.
"How do I use it?"
"Get the needle and the spoon, boil the contents with a lighter in the spoon until the powder turns liquid, then shoot it up your arm."
"Whoa. Help me?"
"Sure thing. . ."Michele walked over to where Lana was standing and prepared the drug. It was like Ecstasy and Heroine mixed together. He shot Lana up and took a hit. They smiled dumbly at each other, as Michele led Lana into his bedroom.