Paul bent at the waist and stared in the face of the agent closet to him.
“Now, what were your orders?”
Billy-Bob, free from Paul’s mind control, stepped forward, and keeping his Glock pointed at the DHS agents, signaled for them to lower their heads to the carpet.
“You heard the man. Kneel before Zod.”
The men were in rough shape. Bleeding badly from the exploded vans and having taken gunfire from Billy-Bob earlier, they looked almost relieved it was over.
They both dropped to their knees. Billy-Bob patted them down for weapons but found none.
Akira then grabbed one of the agents by the throat and lifted him off his feet, only to body-slam him to the ground while digging her fingers into his throat.
Her steel grip tightened.
“I can’t breathe…get her off,” he gurgled.
“Enough,” Paul said calmly, touching her shoulder. “I got this.”
Akira released her grip and stood back.
“Why are you after us?” Paul asked, helping the agent off the carpet.
“Orders are to bring you in dead or alive.”
“Why me?” Paul asked. He really didn’t know.
“They saw you controlling the minds of the crowd. Rumor is you caused people to herd, or to flock. They used some big words, some fancy psychological jargon…miles above my paygrade, but I don’t get paid to think. I get paid to bring you in. Whatever it is you got, they want.”
The agent fell back onto his knees. Not too be outdone, the other agent spoke with an eagerness to please Paul:
“They say you could be worth billions. If what you have can control crowds, you might be able to control voting. In that case, you’d be worth more than billions…”
Akira stepped forward. “Who wants us?”
“Everyone,” they agents responded simultaneously
“Who’s everyone?” Lasseter asked.
“Everyone from corporate leaders to the president himself, James Bass. There’s practically a bounty on your head and every acronym of the federal gov’t is after you.”
“You know, the usual list of federal agencies,” the agent responded, almost laughing. “CIA, NHS, DHS…”
“There’s also Treasury, Justice, State…”
“And the Russian GRU, British MI6…”
“And the corporate mercenaries hired by Bozo’s and Muscatel…”
“It’s almost a contest to see who gets to you first.”
“And don’t forget Black Hole Ops.”
“Oh yea, them too.”
“Whose Black Hole Ops?” Billy-Bob wanted to know. He though he knew them all.
“They’re part of the deep, deep state. They reverse engineer alien technology and shit like that. No one knows who they are or how much money they spend, but they’re dangerous.”
Lasseter rolled his eyes. “I’ve heard of them. They have one of my ships.’
Akira ignored him. “They only want Paul?”
“Not us?” Lasseter added quickly.
“Why would they want you?” the agent responded.
Billy-Bob turned his head and covered a smirk.
“Only him.” The agent gazed at Paul. “They want to weaponize you. They either want you alive, or they want your head on a stick.”
There was a pause.
“They…said… you could be used to control the entire planet…bring about the New World order or some bullshit.”
“What about the rest of us?” Lasseter asked, looking confused.
“The rest of you?” The agent’s eyebrows furrowed. “You’re just three idiots who happen to be in the way. You have no value.”
What about my girlfriend…Akira?” Bill-Bob’s hand covered a smirk.
“They said something about her being a ‘dangerous bitch’ and don’t take her lightly, but take her out if she’s in the way…”
Akira turned toward Lasseter. “That’s good then. Give them Paul, and let’s go.”
“We’re not giving them Paul,” Billy-Bob interrupted.
“They don’t want us. They want him.”
“I am who I am.”
“We stick together,” Billy-Bob said flatly. “It won’t be long before they want you as well Akira. They’ll figure out what you are soon enough. When that time comes, our chances of survival are better if we stick together.”
“Stick together. Like a team?” Paul asked, sounding surprised.
“Yes, a team. The Seals are a team. The military has all sorts of teams. No one goes it alone and survives out here.”
“That’s it!” Paul shouted, raising his arms to the skies. “Teamwork! I’ll form a collective consciousness and we’ll work as one.”
The crew exchanged glances.
“And meet our newest members,” Paul waived his arm towards the bloody, defeated and beaten Federal agents. “Agents, introduce yourselves.”
“I am Josef,” one spoke.
“And I am Reed.”
“You are now part of The Hive,” Paul announced. “We’re not going to kill you. Go free, let us join with others, and let us overthrow the system.”
Josef stood, brushing off the dirt and dried blood. “May I ask what may seem like a strange question?”
“Sure,” Paul answered. “Go ahead.”
“Do you have any red shirts laying around? I have the strangest impulse to put on a red shirt.”