The Strongest Bond

Disclaimer: The characters are mine! They may share a passing resemblance with other people but I just blame their stylists. Sequel to 'The Binding Tie' you really need to read that first in order to understand what is going on here.

Violence/Sex: Slavery exists in this fic as does extreme violence. Sexual violence of a m/f variety in here. Also a loving consensual f/f relationship. If you're too young to vote, you should probably go elsewhere.

Feedback: Much appreciated mjb1_1@hotmail.com

Chapter 4

Knocking interrupted the festivities inside the redbrick townhouse. Excusing himself from the small gathering, a tall, greying man made his way towards the door. He held a glass of beer in one hand, taking casual sips as he moved towards the door. Wary by nature, he called out to the person on the other side as he approached.

"Who is it?"

The reply came, calm and measured. "Is this the Swanson half-way house? You take in newly freed slaves, right?"

"Yes, that's right young lady." His eye was now firmly pressed to the peep-hole. "Are we expecting you, dear? You look very familiar." He said the last while taking the safety chain from its cradle on the door and easing it open. Soon the woman, dressed in black, was backlit in the door way. The sun streaming in from the outside turned her into a living silhouette. A long shadow fell across the man. He felt a chill run through his body as recognition set in.

That's when the bullet tore through his head. It entered silently through his forehead and left a steaming crater in the back of his skull. The only sound in the hallway a soft metallic pop and a sigh, before the corpse succumbed to gravity and hit the floor.

Edging through the opening she quickly pulled the door closed behind her. Once inside she reached behind her neck with her right hand, gun still held firmly in her left, pulling a black hood over her head and face. All that remained visible were her eyes which reflected joy at a job well done.

Stepping lightly over the body, carefully avoiding the pool of blood, she silently moved down the hall. The sounds of merriment spilled down the hall from the main room, luring her towards her prey. She moved with a stealth that left no trace of her passing, deep scarlet creeping after her like a shadow. Brighter light spilled from the lounge illuminating one end of the corridor, acting as a beacon for her intent.

Standing beside the door frame, she observed the six people seated inside the room. Each had a wide smile spread across their face, chatting merrily and oblivious to her presence. It was easy to pick out the other home owner. Like her husband whose body lay rapidly cooling on the doormat, she was of middle age and greying. Plump and rosy cheeked she looked like a picture perfect matron. The way that they other people in the room hung on her words showed that she was popular with her clientele. The other five looked different. It was hard for the observer to articulate, but something in their very demeanour told her that they had been slaves; the way they held their bodies and deferred to the older woman. Even their attire seemed cheap and dated. They were a mix of men and women, of varying ages from teens to elderly.

Pulling a second handgun from the holster at the small of her back she moved fully into the doorway. All eyes turned to her as she levelled her guns at the people in the room. A single glass fell from nerveless fingers, crashing into a thousand pieces on the shiny wooden floor. That moment of stillness was quickly shattered by the sound of bodies crashing to the floor. Once again the silencer did its work, preventing any loud noises. She worked so rapidly that they barely had time to whimper, let alone scream.

Soon the room was littered with bodies. Tables and chairs lay smashed under the weight of falling forms. The walls seemed to weep blood and it gave into greater forces and trickled down. Beer and wine mixed with gore, creating interesting patterns over the floor. The guns were lowered, barrels still smoking, and replaced in their holsters.

Backing out of the room she quickly moved to the back door, unlatching it she flung it open; instantly ten black clad figures marched into the house, each carrying a large canister. With a brief nod she left the house, leaving them to finish the job.

Rashid watched the two women disappear around a corner as they went to the bathroom. He noticed, as they walked, that the slave seemed to walk a little too closely to the singer; it made him feel strangely fidgety. Once again he ran a nervous hand through his hair. The thought never crossed his mind that he was turning his well groomed appearance into that of an ill kempt scarecrow.

OK Raz, if you're going to do this you should do it now. Bite the bullet! The pep talk in his head was going well until seeds of doubt started to grow. What is she says no? I'll look like an idiot and then she'll be uncomfortable and I'll be uncomfortable. She'll take her business elsewhere; I'll lose a client and a friend. Is it worth it? His eyes were drawn to one of the singer's publicity shots that was still lying on the table. Dazzling blue eyes stared up at his from the glossy page. Yeah it is!

The young Asian man had felt drawn to the statuesque brunette from their first meeting. She was not only beautiful but warm and friendly too. If he hadn't already known he would never have believed that she was an heiress. Unfortunately her humility was not shared by her husband. The young publicist had always found Douglas to be pushy and overbearing. He could never understand how such a man could get a wife like Francesca and be able to keep her. He didn't like think ill of the dead but his client was certainly happier and more relaxed since his loss.

He shuffled the papers that still littered the desk while he continued to wait for the return of his lunch companion. How can women take so long in the bathroom? What are they doing in there?

"How can you not know that he has a crush on you?" Hunter's tone was incredulous.

"He does not!" Francesca batted at her partner's shoulder. The bodyguard had secured the main door to the bathroom to ensure that they would not be disturbed. Her curiosity was killing her.

"Chess, I saw the look in his eyes. He's like a little puppy dog, all moony eyed every time you look at him!" Hunter's tone was light, but there was something beneath it.

"Rhani, are you just a smidgeon jealous?" She held her index finger and thumb close to each other.

"Uhmm..." The blond was turning a rather attractive shade of pink as she rubbed the nape of her neck. Her eyes were darting around the room refusing to land on the other woman. "A little I guess. I mean he seems like a really nice guy and he is good looking and…"

"Shhhh!" A soft finger was placed firmly over her lips. "I admit that he may have the tiniest infatuation with me and yes he is all of those things that you mentioned but do you know what?" The finger that had remained on the other woman's lips through this, moved to caress her cheek. "He isn't you, so he has nothing going for him." Hunter's face bloomed with pride, making the other woman smile in response.

"Poor schlub!"

"You are just such a people person!" The heiress pretended to be choked up as she said the words. Her companion poked her tongue out. "We should get back out there, Raz probably thinks I've run away with the bus boy!"

Laughing the bodyguard unlatched the door and pulled it open, grateful that a line of women had not formed. As her partner walked past her she whispered in her ear, "When we get home I want to know all about you and Raz." Francesca pursed her lips and mock scowled, pout firmly in place.

The restaurant had stated to fill up as the day moved into late afternoon, many young men and women crowded the place. Their journey back to the table was filled with "hellos" and autographs. The groups of people, albeit small, that crowded around her lover made Hunter edgy. She stood to the side, a silent, brooding presence letting out a low growl when anybody got too close.

The publicist saw the two women coming back to the table and a beaming smile spread across his face, aimed at the beauty coming towards him. Hunter saw this and couldn't help the sneer that flittered across her face. She didn't want to feel any animosity towards the man, she genuinely liked how he treated the singer but she couldn't repress the frisson of jealousy. As they got closer to the table a disturbance on the street outside caught the attention of every diner in the restaurant.

Flames licked at the sides of the townhouse that was now reduced to little more than a single floor of rubble. Fire crews had raced to the scene, desperate to quench the flames. Their ceaseless attempts had been to no avail as they continued to pummel the flames with jet after jet of high pressure water.

The residents of the neighbourhood were out in force, mostly worried about their own homes. Some tried to aid the fire-fighters, but most just stood around watching. On the fringe of the group of watchers stood a young man, he held a cell phone firmly to his ear, listening attentively. Occasionally he would nod at something that was said on the other end. He was inconspicuously dressed in baggy jeans and a dark hooded sweatshirt, the hood pulled firmly over his head obscuring most of his face. As he watched several other observers, dressed much like him, began to drift through the crowds.

"I saw those slaves running away when the house went up!" One whispered into the ear of an elderly shopkeeper.

"I knew that this would happen, letting those sort of people into our street!" Another cried.

"I saw a new one arrive this afternoon, looked dangerous. Seems like more than a coincidence to me!"

Murmuring grew in small pockets as the seeds of doubt were planted. People who had previously had no gripe with the half-way house suddenly found a million reasons why it had blighted their lives. The free men and women, housed there over years as they began new lives were vilified in a second. Cries for justice grew until the whole crowd was ready to take action themselves.

"Everything is going to plan, so far." The voice crackled a response at the end of the line.

The fire now under control, several of the fire fighters made their way into the rubble in search of bodies. Minutes passed with each watcher holding their breath, hoping beyond hope that somebody would be found alive. It was not long before two of the officers staggered out with a body carried between them. Although covered in blood and soot the familiarly rotund body of Hamish Swanson was recognizable to all. The whisperers now turned to shouts of rage as the second team struggled out with Julia Swanson. The kindly couple had clearly met their demise in a brutal fashion as crimson blood was clearly visible coating the bodies. As the uproar continued, even as two paramedics went over to state the obvious, the man with the phone spoke to his employer.

"Stage one complete. Are we ready for stage two?" The affirmative was all he needed to hear. Punching telephone off, he dialled in a new set of numbers. The click of connection was all he needed to hear. "Initiate stage two!" He snapped the phone shut and melted into the shadows, fully confident that his words had been put into action.

It started with screaming. Over a hundred men and women were running through the streets hollering at the tops of their lungs. They thundered through the gridlocked traffic, hitting cars as they raced passed. Some even began to jump on hoods, leaping from one to another. The drivers were too scared to make any signs of protest. As individuals passed by rapidly closing windows the drivers could clearly make out their rallying cry… Freedom!

On the sidewalk the horde charged towards pedestrians, knocking them down indiscriminately. Those lucky souls who avoided impact took note of the clothes worn by the throng; each one was emblazoned with the logo of an emancipation group. Some even held EFA placards which they wielded like weapons at the heads of passers by.

The street began to rapidly clear of civilians as they dashed towards the relative safety of shops, offices and restaurants. The rampaging group did not seem to notice as they continued their onward surge. Some began to slow down in order to create just a little more mayhem. A group of young men began to rock a large black car, much to the horror of its occupant. They rocked it so severely that eventually it was turned onto its side where they proceeded to smash the underside, sending gasoline all over the road and other cars.

The leaders of the group had satchels slung over their shoulders which as one they began to rout through as they continued to move forwards. Each one drew out a small black square, innocuous enough in appearance, which triggered terror in the people still trapped within their cars. As arms wound back and prepared to heave the small but deadly devices towards the surrounding buildings, the drivers braced for the worst.

As the couple neared their table Hunter heard shouting filtering through the restaurant. As first she thought that it was simply more of the eager autograph hunters getting excited however a quick look at the faces of the other diners disabused her of that notion. Looking towards her ward she motioned for the other woman to move close to Rashid behind the table. This positioned placed them both as far away from the windows of the restaurant as was possible.

"If I give you the signal, get under the table!" It was an order which Francesca obeyed readily, well aware of her bodyguards prowess. Rashid on the other hand resisted the instructions given to him by a 'slave'.

"Raz, do as she says! I trust her implicitly so don't do anything stupid." His face showed that he was still against following the instructions but he nodded in accent.

Seeing that her instructions would be followed the stocky blond made her way speedily to the huge pane of glass which served as the restaurants front wall. Looking out she could see people beginning to appear in the distance, running as if for their lives. Unable to glean enough information while still inside she ventured through h the door way. Now outside she could hear the screams more clearly and her enhanced hearing allowed her to make out their war cry clearly.

Green eyes narrowed as the throng drew closer and closer. Still too far away for a normal person to make out any details, her enhanced eyes still allowed her greater vision than normal, although not as sharp as they had once been. She was able to see the shiny boxes being drawn from more than eight bags; able to make out arms drawing back to hurl the objects into buildings. Even before the first hit its intended target she was rushing back into the restaurant, shouting at the top of her lungs for the people inside to get down.

"Why should we slave?"

"Shut up animal!"

"Why don't you go back to your mistress?"

"Hysterical nonsense!"

"Yeah it's nothing!"

These were the responses she had expected and it saddened her that they were so narrowed minded that they would not even move to protect their own lives. She quickly ran towards the table where she had left the singer, relief washing over her as she saw that both her lover and the publicist were crouched under it.

Before she could reach them a series of explosions tore through the street, rocking the buildings to there very foundations. Glass exploded inwards as the aftershock of the explosions spread through the surrounding buildings. The restaurant sparkled with broken glass, the patrons cut and bleeding. Part of the ceiling had fallen down from the force of the blast outside and tables had been turned upside down. The diners who only moments ago were disdainful of Hunter's warnings now sat terrified at their tables, whimpering softly.

Hunter herself had been thrown to the floor as she moved away from the window. Somewhat dazed but otherwise unharmed she stumbled to her feet, shaking the clinging particles of glass from her hair she moved rapidly towards her lover. Skidding down onto her knees she ended up beside the two cowering figures beneath the table.

"How… When… I…" Rashid was clearly shocked and trying desperately to process what had happened.

"I think they broke him." Francesca smiled and jerked a thumb towards the shaking man. She found herself oddly calm in the face of the blast.

Levelling her eyes at her partner the bodyguard sighed, "You know I am thinking of putting you into a bullet proof box and not letting you out of the houses grounds! This is getting habit forming!"

"Me? If it's anybody it's you missy! It's like trouble follows you around and then beats the tar out of you."

"You know, I could just leave you here…" Her grin was child like and full of joy that both of them had survived once again. Beside them Rashid continued to shake and jump as more explosions went off in the distance. The only think helping his fraying nerves was the fact that they were rapidly receding.

The blond reached into her pocket and pulled out a cell phone, quickly punching in familiar digits. "Hello Roger? I take it you heard the explosions?" She waited for a response. "Where are you? You didn't stay at the front did you?" Worry was clear in her voice before she let out a relieved breath. "Well done for going around the back. Look, we'll be coming out the back, fast. Have the engine ready and be ready to go down the back ways."

Francesca had followed the phone conversation and collected her bag from the floor. The two women stood without exchanging a word, ready to leave the scene of chaos that they now stood amongst. People were now running around crying and screaming. Some diners had made there way onto the street and were running for their lives. On the street outside there was fire and death in almost equal measure. Sirens could be heard in the distance but they were too little too late. The two women began to move towards the kitchens and the back exit.

They had reached the swinging doors to the kitchen before they realised that the young Asian man was not with them. Turning, they both fixed their eyes on his cowering form under the table. Shaking her head and motioning for the singer to stay put, the bodyguard marched over to him and dragged him from under the table. She pulled him along behind her until they reached the doors. In the short journey he had managed to find his feet and stumble after her. Silently the three darted through the kitchen which had been spared the damage of the blast. Hitting the backdoor they emerged into a dingy but secure alleyway where the car waited for them.

Climbing into the car Francesca noted that her friend was simply standing in the alley, tears streaming down his face. Hunter turned from her position in the front of the car where she could watch the road, to see what her lover was looking at, she had chosen. It would also allow her lover to comfort her friend. Neither woman could understand why he had yet to climb into the car, he should have been eager to leave.

"Raz, what's the matter? We need to get out of here." Francesca's voice was soft and coaxing, the same tone she used on the children when they woke from bad dreams.

"I can't get in your car." His voice cracked on every word. He couldn't continue and simply gestured towards his pants. For the first time both women noticed the rapidly spreading dark patch over his crotch.

"Oh, Raz, we were all scared. It'll be all right. Let me take you back to my place and we can talk about all this." She reached out a hand which he took and allowed himself to be pulled into the car.

Hunter gestured for the chauffer to start moving and pulled a gun from the holster at the small of her back. Leaning back in her chair she could hear her lover making shushing noises to the man that she now held in her arms, giving comfort. The warrior allowed her senses to move outside of the car as they moved down another small street. Nobody would be hurting her lover today not if she could help it. Her hand flexed tighter on the butt of the gun.

To Be Continued...

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