Steeled Spies #0: Lions Among the Lambs
The Force's Recon Agent in the Heat of Conspiracy...
In the palm of the black wolf’s hand lay the dying light of a revolution, the electric death having crept up his own back before claiming his heart and mind.
The footage revolted the team.
“Before you is the image of Justice served,” came the announcer’s proclamation. The words cut through the smoke-hazed room where a quartet of black-clad gray wolves, and none other than the vigilante Lita, sat glued to the screen. Suddenly, a voice came from the sanctum’s darkest corner.
“So they got one of us.”
The shadowed figure’s sighing remark wafted out like the smoke from the burning end of his cigarette. The voice was smooth, a trace of the Transatlantic tongue nestled away in it.
“The whole man and nothing less,” came Lita’s bitter reply. The 40-year-old dark gray sat backwards in the old wooden chair, her jean jacket slung over it. There was a twitch in her sandaled paw and an agitation bordering on coked out as she ran her gloved digits through her mohawk, scratching at the back of her neck. Her jeans and tank top were peppered with holes.
Slowly, the gray stepped out of his corner, revealing himself to be a shade lighter than the rest. Roger Steele was rather chiseled for a wolf of any breed, his hard-edged features sharp in the light of Lita’s sanctum. From his full snout and finely groomed fur to the blue eyes that radiated ice-cold analysis, he stood monolithic among the rest. He crossed the room quietly, his black shoes silent on the floor. His black slacks, blue button-up, and holstered Mauser glided along with him as he pulled a chair up, his own leather jacket hung on the back.
“You say he was playing ball with some of yours—”
“—Not mine Pal,” she cut off, “New kids on the block.”
For a moment, the blood red eyes of the inner-city agent locked with his.
“Another batch of your biker bears?” Steele teased.
Lita whipped a small disc out of her jacket and flung it his way, the agent catching it in a flash.
“Group’s called Haven Reformation. Pretty big right about now.”
“Curing cancer, AIDS, or just plain-old disease?”
“If technocracy’s cancer, they’re the ACS. Been protesting with us for about a month now. They don’t know the cats we play for, and I know Knox wants it kept that way, but they know we’re cool.”
Steele nodded gently as he loaded the minidisc into his portable viewer. The pint-sized silver machine displayed everything in green text over a black screen:
ORGANIZATION: Haven Reformation SPOKESPERSON: Lucille Devenreaux KNOWN DETAILS: “To the Bright Organic Tomorrow”
Roger didn’t even look at Lita before he started in.
“You spend a month with friends and they won’t even show you the secret handshake?”
“That was the last thing DeVol sent us before the sting. Reported damn-near night and day via telecom that they were doing everything from major demonstrations in Empire Square to fighting for a seat on the Board. His tip-offs got me front row seats to some killer fireworks. The Reformation have been polling like saints, they’ve made public addresses on everything from the increased android population to attacking A.C.E.S. herself. And all he sends us is a three-line disc for a month’s worth of intel as hard copy.”
It wasn’t long before the realization crept up on the gray recon agent.
“And if cops had intercepted, they wouldn’t have wiped it.”
“Or let it through to us, unless it’s a decoy. We’ve tried decryption, digging through metadata, but all we got are those three lines. Something ‘bout these suckas don’t read right to me. Especially when one of my boys gets killed for ‘em.”
Roger turned to look at the fellow grays in the room, all standing tall in their own dark ensembles. The four gentlemen cocked their ears his way when he began to speak.
“If anyone’s going in, it’ll be me.”
Lita couldn’t hold back her laughter.
“Bitch, you got all the street cred of a Happy Meal! The hell you gonna do getting down with hippies like them?”
Before she went any further, he slapped her in the snout. Her feral reflexes kicked in hard as claws rocketed out, returning the favor tenfold. He didn’t flinch as the blood began to trickle down his cheek.
“We’ll start with scars,” Roger said with a smirk.
The vigilante could only sit slack-jawed, the wolves in black stifling their chuckling long enough for her to try and regain her composure.
“You’re lucky I didn’t pull my pal Wildey on you,” she barked.
Steele simply nodded.
“You...crazy SOB,” she guffawed.
As they shook hands on the audacity, a sudden burst of static burst onto the TV screen, and on came the gal of the hour.
“We’re in control of the airwaves now!”
It was a powerful, purely feminine voice that tore through the speakers.
“Brothers and sisters, we cannot live under this tyranny for another second! How many more innocent lives must be taken in the name of their order, not ours? How much more blood be spilled? Let our brother Ralph DeVol not die in vain. Join us for the Bright Organic Tomorrow!”
Roger Steele turned to towards the television, revealing to him the visage of Lucille Devenreux. She was a gray wolf whose features were at odds with her voice. The voice held every inch of ground, the incendiary talk of liberating the “real” wolves of Haven from the technocratic menace rocketing right through the screen. In another life, she might’ve been preaching the sin out of a congregation in the deep South. But then there was that face.
What a face for a revolutionary to have. Her snout was slender to the point of mousy, her darling deep blue eyes popping off the screen for all to see. Her fur was well-kept, but thick enough to exude that “edge” of not having shit, shaved, or showered in a fortnight. It was the scruff atop her head that gave her the street cred she needed. Must be quite the sight on the big screens in the Comm/Ent district.
The group stared at her spiel a while longer, the tone shifting away from fire-and-brimstone.
“We’ve made too much progress to shy away! Who revealed the Board’s hypocrisy in the Town Hall? The Reformation! Who declassified the insidious and malicious propaganda of the Newsreels? The Reformation! Who—”
The revolution was not long for the airwaves, A.C.E.S. having regained control of the frequency, and promptly firing disavowals over the signal. Lita killed the feed with a flip of a switch.
“Well, now you’ve met the first lady of it all.”
“Not yet,” Steele said, throwing his jacket on. “Gotta see her from the chest down to make sure she’s real."
“Just don’t fall for her too hard,” Lita chuckled. “Bitch is bigger than all of us right now, and the target’s twice as large.”
Roger looked over his shoulder at Lita before parting the door. “For? Never. In’s another story.”