Gladys Vandelay – The Truth
By Rock Kitaro
“And there you have it. That’s the truth. That’s everything that happened.”
Two months after Anna and I went on a rampage that destroyed the Villa and annihilated scores of Swords, we found ourselves standing before the Paramours at their quaint little estate in Derbyshire. Hollow Rock. It was in the same auditorium where Elliot and I had heard Lincoln talking about the death of the First Lady. Now, an audience of over 3,000 was listening to our blood tale.
Their disapproval was self-evident.
Anna and I stood side by side at center stage addressing the Paramours’ Senior Council. Our bodies had recovered for the most part, but I still lacked strength in my left shoulder due the jerk who harpooned me. We were professionally dressed in boardroom attire. Befitting, since it seemed like we were on trial for some reason.
I could tell Col. Jake Buchanan was torn by the loss of Elliot. He knew Elliot had saved my life and that Marcus, in one way or another, saved Anna’s. But still…I saw resentment in his eyes. I felt guilty.
“Do understand,” said Lord Dathan. “While this house does acknowledge the two of you have gone through a great ordeal. We cannot condone the wanton acts of death and destruction.”
“Two renegades doing whatever the hell they please with little regard to the consequences.” blurted an angry Benaiah.
“I’m sorry,” Anna spoke up to say. “Did it sound like we were asking your permission?”
“And this one’s a full-fledge Sword, is she not?” asked Alekzander.
“I am.” Anna confirmed.
Alekzander leaned in to Lord Dathan to whisper exactly what the entire assembly soon began to grumble about.
“She killed Breanne Cunningham.” I spoke up to say. “One of the Armored Front. She may have been a Sword, but I’d say she’s proven she no longer holds allegiance.”
“Be that as it may…” Jake said, leaning forward with frustration in his tone. “The two of you are killers. That’s not the way of the Paramours. You know this, Gladys.”
“We don’t want to be Paramours, Jake. God knows I tried. I listened to Elliot and all of his romantic drivel. He was good in every way that I am not. I acknowledge the justice you keep in upholding your code. But it’s not us. That’s not the way we operate. Right now, the Swords of St. Catherine have their proxy in the White House. It won’t end there. It’s just the completion of phase one.”
Anna added, “They’ll continue to get stronger and reach new heights. There is no glass ceiling for the Swords. They shattered it long ago. And as a friend once told me, more like she opened my eyes to see. It really is about world domination. Not for all women. But for this exclusive society of women and them alone. The trainees who fail to complete their trials are killed. Pawns who disobey or fail in their missions are killed. And Swords who betray the Society are hunted down to the ends of the earth. Eventually, even they are killed. There is no freedom. There is no loyalty. Only submission or death!”
“Yeah and you were one of them!” We turned around to see Jessi, one of the few female Paramours staring daggers at us from the audience.
“You stand there actin’ like you never took part. You’re just as guilty as the rest of ‘em!” Jessi shouted, receiving an ovation from those around her.
Anna nodded. “You’re right. I am just as guilty as the rest. I accept responsibility for my actions.”
“And how do you plan on doing that?” Lincoln asked.
“We can’t be one of you. But we’ll do what we can to help.” Anna said.
“No!” Jake said with unforgiving eyes. “We don’t want your kind of help.”
“We’d thought you’d say that.” I said, rather coldly because I was getting tired of feeling guilty.
“Whether you want our help or not is irrelevant, colonel. We have our own contacts, our own resources, our own code, and our own tactics. We’ll create our own group. You can go about kicking over their jigsaw puzzles all you want, but at the end of the day, they’ll just continue to stamp you out one by one before picking up the pieces and finishing the puzzle. We’ll take that extra step by doing what’s necessary.”
“Then you’ll no longer be welcome here.” Jake said.
“You’re breaking my heart.” I sneered.
“Gladys…” Anna grumbled.
“Do understand,” said Lord Dathan. “It’s not just on the conflict of principle that we revoke your residency. But as your proposed group starts to grow, so too will the risk of exposing the existence of our safe haven here.”
“We understand.” Anna nodded.
Jake heaved a heavy sigh. He closed his eyes and when he opened, I saw spite no more. “We all lost the ones we loved the most. Let’s honor their memory by staying alive. If Elliot and Marcus were here now, I guarantee that’s what they’d say.”
His words brought us much comfort. We knew they would never encourage and wish us well on the bloody path we intended to walk. But to hear that, at the very least, they were rooting for us to survive…yes. Much comfort, indeed.
Anna and I emerged from the estate, greeted by warm air and soft clouds stretching across the blue sky. The parking lot was lined with fancy cars and ours was the silky black sports car with the top down. I felt reborn. Couldn’t help but smile.
“Well, where to?” Anna asked, full of optimism.
I looked over with this mischievous grin. “Well. We could unravel the conspiracy that put the president in office. There’s the island where you were baptized that we can blow up. Oh, and at some point I would like to look in the eyes of Elliot’s mother and tell her exactly how her son died.”
Anna smirked. Both of us jumped into the convertible and reached for our shades on the visors. She was the driver and I her passenger. She then looked at me with a beaming smile and asked, “Where to first?”
I pondered like a child deciding on which Christmas present to open.
“There is a lovely little rapist in the Middle East I’ve been dying to put down.”
Anna started the ignition. And after a final glance at the estate they called Hollow Rock, we peeled off past the gates and sped down the road. This is the truth. This is how it all got started.