“It’s nothing personal, my friend. It’s just business, and I am in the business of making things go away.” Pierre then sighed.
“Why? Why would you do such a thing when we’re both on the same side?” Johnny asked.
Pierre radioed for his cat squadron, “Return to the Nest. The enemy is in the immediate quadrant.”
Johnny stared on bewildered.
“It’s not you, kid, it’s just business,” Pierre said. In a swift motion, he leaped through the air towards Johnny.
He could tell something was amiss. That killing him wasn’t the intention of Pierre. Go along; Johnny heard Pierre in his mind. He fell off the bench and appeared to be lifeless. Sure enough, the real threat had been lurking—drawing closer.
“NO!” Red and Chico cried, rushing to Johnny’s side.
The familiar assassin’s voice emerged from being cloaked. “I didn’t think you had it in you. I see that I was wrong.”
Pierre hopped off the still body of Johnny. “I told you I meant business. You’re next you know that, right, T.C.?”
“Heh, you think you can take on an advanced Handler because you downed a runt? Pathetic,” said the cat who morphed into a raven.
“You think flying will save you? Haven’t you learned that this is my turf? I control it. It is mine, and mine alone!” Pierre became angry. “AND THAT THERE IS NO ONE IN THE AGENCY WHO CAN CONTEST OTHERWISE!”
People in the park all turned and watched the spectacle. Some recorded the action and invisible conversation. In the distance, sirens wailed; coming closer each moment.
Be quick. Pierre fixated on the bird. “Fire.”
Red lasers erupted from several directions at the Raven. “You think I am dumb enough to fall for your cheap tricks? I believe you’re losing your touch, Pierre.”
“Then you would have seen me coming…” said Pierre as he appeared in the air behind T.C. clawing his wings and slamming him back down to the ground.
The bird moaned and bled. It shapeshifted into a large bear and clawed at the cat and its advancing army. “I still have tricks up my sleeve as well!”
“Johnny, I think it’s time for you to awaken,” said Pierre.
“WHAT,” the bear roared.
Johnny reached to his feet and readied himself for a fight against the bear. “T.C. I don’t think you want to do this. You were forced into it, molded to become something you’re not. I know the feeling. I don’t want to have to fight against other people, let alone be some heralded hero. We can bring the Agency to the knees and remake the world for the better of humanity.”
At first, it seemed the bear was heeding Johnny’s words, thinking about them. “It’s too late for me. There is no changing what I have become.”
“THERE IS ALWAYS A CHOICE AND A WAY,” Johnny yelled.
The police had made their way into the park.
“Don’t let the Agency control you anymore. They will just destroy you: use you, discard you like refuse, and let you die. They don’t care about you,” Johnny said.
T.C. put his head down and sighed, “I know.”
The bear searched himself frantically as a beeping increased in frequency. “No—no! I am not yet finished!”
“What’s going on?” Johnny asked.
“We’ve got to run! Now!” Pierre shouted and ran.
Johnny and the others all followed suit.
“You sons of bitches!” T.C. shouted as he erupted into a fiery blaze that scorched the area.
For a moment, Johnny had thought he heard T.C. say something in his mind before the explosion took him. The police were now scouring the area for suspected terrorists.
Later that night, Pierre and Johnny conversed.
“I apologize for making a threat on your life, my friend.”
Johnny smiled, “It’s OK. I understand you were just trying to help.”
“You’re quite the actor. Have you ever thought of going into the arts?”
“Ha ha, no. I am afraid I wouldn’t have the time anyway due to the happenings in the world…and what will soon come to pass.”
Pierre nodded. “A noble cause in such a young life.” He then reached for a small cigarette and lit it.
“I have to say, it is interesting to see a cat smoke,” said Johnny.
Pierre shrugged, “Life is shit, get to know this, and you’ll go far. Succumb to the lollygagging, and it’s you putting your head between your knees kissing your ass goodbye.”
Johnny had thoughts on what made Pierre who he is, and what the Agency had wanted with him.
“Ah, you wish to know? I suppose I can indulge in a bit of nostalgia,” said the smoking cat.
“I used to work for the government. I was a top assassin sent to pick off the most wanted, plant false evidence, set up wars and skirmishes. I was the night’s shadow and those who knew my name feared me.” He sighed, “And then,” he took a puff on the cigarette, “then I retired. Started a family, tried to live the American Dream. Is it rubbish you know? That dream is just that, especially to an assassin.” Pierre’s eyes welled up a little. “Then, I was approached to do one more job. If I refused, my family would be killed. All of them. Anyone in my family tree still alive.” He sniffled and put the cigarette out, then lit another. “So, naturally, I agreed. I knew they would not be gentle with me, and I was right. I went through the testing. I was tortured, beaten, interrogated, trained, and then subjected to the animal DNA splicing and merging testing. It was a test different than what you or some of the handlers went through, or what Red and Chico went through.” Pierre stared off into the distance, “This one…this one was where they brought my family in,” he started to choke on his words, “they brought them in and killed them in front of me. They showed me videos of anyone still living in my family tree being killed. Then, then they had the gall to cut their heads off and put them in the cell with me.” Tears rolled down Pierre’s furry cheeks. “I wanted them dead—the Agency. I knew, though that I had to play along. I had to coach myself to bypass their ‘thought detection’ system to keep it a secret. I started missions, was given a new name.” He puffed on the cigarette. “Then, I became a terrorist. An asset of the government to create war, strife, and a political movement. I took to that role quite well. I met others like me on my travels. As such, my army grew. We then began to retaliate. I cut off any communication with the Agency and killed their messengers as they’d come, shipping their heads back as gifts.”
Pierre looked at Johnny. “What they do, there is nothing good that comes out of it. Not even us, the ones who fight.”
“But we have the capability to change that and fight against it,” said Johnny.
Pierre smiled. “And that, my friend, is why we are going to win.”
They both looked up at the starry sky and bright full moon. “This world, she is worth saving. The people, they are too; even the misguided ones,” said Pierre.
Johnny nodded. “I will help guide them on the path of redemption and gain them the vengeance they deserve…we all deserve.”