It was a cold, bleak, desolate world that greeted Glass when he awoke that afternoon. A hollowness ate at his insides that he had no idea how to fill. A slight form came upon his lanky frame spilled all over the antique radio, broad face puffy.
"Glass?," asked Lily tentatively. No answer. Slowly she stepped forward to the desk he was seated at, blue-haired head cocked to the side. The man wasn't aware at first of the thin arms that wound around his neck, but when he became aware he made no move to stop her. Lily put her tear-moistened cheek against his and he at last responded, burying his face in her arms. The sleeves of her grey jumpsuit became wet from his sadness. "I can't believe she's gone," he sobbed. The girl wept with him, for she'd lost the only mother figure she'd ever known.
The band and Ruby rallied around him, but the heart had completely went out of Glass. He lost weight and became gaunt, a pale shadow of his former self. The only good thing to come of the tragedy was the semi-reconciliation between he and Snakeytooth, but he remained ever aloof to everyone. The much-dreaded day came when he was summoned before the recording mogul Mr. Valentine to discuss possible criminal charges against Glass as the representative of the Machines of God or renegotiating the existing contract between them. Ruby, as the manager and old friend, was present, as was the Council's soothsayer Maya.
Despite much back and forth coming from the plucky manager and the executive Glass remained mute. He was clad in a simple t-shirt and ripped pants put had taken the liberty of painting his face, accentuating the hollows of his eyes and even more prominent than usual cheekbones. "I will renegotiate the contract," he cut in at last, and the defeat in his demeanor was a mirror reflection of the look of triumph on Valentine's craggy face.
"Wha--?," went Ruby, totally abashed.
"You will give us the Clone and Imprint Rights?," queried Mr. Valentine.
"Yes," came the barely audible answer.
"Very good," he cackled. "Sydney, get the papers and the recorder." Maya smiled her horrible sharp-toothed smile.
"Glass, no," urged Ruby. "That old contract is the only thing keeping you alive, the fact there's only one of you."
"My mind's made up," he said firmly. He closed his eyes and thought of June, brave, stubborn June. My reflection, dirty mirror. I'm your lover, I'm your Zero.
And like that it was done--signed and sealed--and without further ado Glass was marched to the lab to give a sample of his much-sought DNA. The hope of the world on the verge of being extinguished. "Zero," breathed Ruby in growing horror as she doggedly followed him, using the discarded name she'd known him by for years. "You can't."
Stealing a sidelong glance his pale lips creased in the slightest of grins. "Don't tell you me you believe at long last."
The waiting technician, PDA in hand, asks what sort of plastic surgery, augmentation, or implants he'd ever had. "None."
Raising an eyebrow the man asks, "None at all?"
"And how old are you?"
"Old enough to sleep by myself," came the sarcastic reply.
Snorting the scientist enters data then directs him to a particular table. "We'll take some blood and tissue samples and do some biological scanning." An assistant pulled Glass's arm out to begin the end and something snapped inside him...a last bit of defiance, perhaps, or a feeling that his life was still worth something...either way he shoved the hapless assistant into the table and smashed a vial into the face of the technician who went down in a crimson splash.
Shattered glass...Shattered Glass.
"What in the River Styx," yelped Ruby at this sudden burst.
Security officers were soon cropping up on all sides and Ruby was screaming and pawing at one of them and Glass was fighting them oh god oh God--then a woman and man came dashing up to take out the guards. The young man was covered in tattoos and the woman was skinny and had silvery hair; it was Blue and Tanya with guns in hand.
"How?," cried Glass in joy.
"You've got Shaman and Psyche to thank. They put a rescue effort together cause they knew what you were gonna do. We gotta run, let's go!," came Tanya's breathless chatter as she jerked Glass toward the exit. Clutching Ruby's hand he pulled her after him. For once she was quiet and numb with shock.
"No!," hissed Maya in rage, upsetting the tarot cards spread on the table. Sydney asked what was the matter. "That damnable Glass is getting away!"
Quickly Valentine punches up security while cursing under his breath. "Use deadly force if necessary, but I prefer him alive," he says to the image on the vidscreen.
"Yesss," agrees the psychic "There are some things I'd like to do to him..personally." Sydney shivered; genetically altered humans were one thing but being in a room with a being like Maya was quite another. She had little in the way of compassion or simple decency.
"Why sister," came a familiar voice. "You're devotion is touching." A tall, broad shadow moved into the light seemingly from out of nowhere. She'd been trained very well, after all. She was wearing the formfitting all-purpose uniform of her former office, blood-red hair tied back in a thick braid.
"Sandoz," Maya mouthed the name with some distaste. "Is our little brother still playing tagalong?"
"You could say that," Shaman responded as he too materialized out of the scenery.
"Stay right where you are," directed Sandoz to Valentine as she slowly stepped closer. Teeth grinding in frustration he dropped his hand from the silent alarm button. He knew how handy she was with the laser rifle she was sporting.
"So what is it you want, sister mine?," wondered Maya, who hated it when people could block her from reading their thoughts.
"I came for Glass, but I also wanted to see you again, odd as it sounds. But you're even more the spider in her web, weaving misery and deceit."
Valentine lunged at the assassin, groping for her weapon. For a man his size he was surprisingly fast but she was a shade quicker swinging the butt of her gun against the executive's head. He promptly dropped like a sack of bricks.
Sydney stood there trembling but Maya's face was as usual impassive. "Go ahead and try it," she challenged, splaying her clawlike hands on the conference table where she stood. "Even together you both can't take me." Three pairs of eyes narrowed to slits as the tension in the chamber became palpable.
The room exploded with movement while the two younger siblings faked Maya out--She assumed Sandoz would go for her but she darted behind a column and Shaman instead rushed her. Raising a hand she projected a mindblast, intending to knock him backwards, but he was expecting it and dissapated it and kept coming. Then she pushed against his mind and found him stronger than he'd been before. She backpedalled away from the table as he reached for her, and she threw her senses out to search for Sandoz.
At that instant a bolt crackled right by her head. Gnashing her reptilian teeth she managed to push Shaman into the chair she'd so recently been sitting in. In one smooth motion she lobbed several adamant-tipped shuriken in Sandoz's direction. The throwing stars spread out and one managed to bury itself in her wrist brace. "Shit!," she swore, lunging for the next pillar for cover. Sydney tore out of the room screaming but no one paid any heed.
Sister, goaded Shaman, and she heard him in her mind. Let me in.
Hah! You can do nothing to me, my powers far exceed yours.
Then the man smiled, which puzzled Maya. I don't need to beat you at your own game, came his response. At the same moment a cold steel blade slid between two of her lower ribs, piercing blood vessels and lung. A curious bubbling, moaning noise came from Maya's bloody lips. "My gift to you, sister," whispered Sandoz standing cheek to cheek with her elder sibling, her hand on the knife. Her breath coming in ragged heaves she lashed out with her abilities, piercing her enemies' skulls with blistering pain. Shaman clutched his head and Sandoz's vision went cloudy, her legs growing weak. Blood poured from the brother and sister's noses and it felt like their brains were hemorrhaging. She pulled her knife out and stabbed her again with it, this time a fatal gut wound.
"You...won't win...you're fools..," Maya gasped as her life gushed forth. She slumped against the table, upsetting the rest of the tarot deck and spattering them with blood.
"It won't matter, cause you're dead," declared Shaman after his head cleared. He'd hated her for most of his life for the way she'd treated them and the cruel things the Council allowed her to do.
"Fuck," Blue growled as he brought them up to a standstill.
"What?," everyone else asked.
"Security bots," he answered as two lumbering, grey-and-green 12 feet tall behemoths blocked any further progress. The blaster guns had no effect on their gleaming metal hide and they came forward, their steps shattering clanks on the hard floor. They reached huge shiny paws toward the group and--
Glass shouted at the robots--and they stopped. Just like that. Tanya stared at him as if seeing him for the first time. "What did you DO?," she screeched.
"Can you make em move?," asked Ruby, finding her voice at last.
"They're dead," said Blue in amazement. He pushed them over easily and the group scrambled over the inert droids, afraid any moment it was a trick and the monsters would come to life and crush them like ants. They didn't, however. Elevators were jammed and doors opened and closed crazily when they tried to use them, in fact everything electronic seemed to react strangely when Glass got near.
"Christ Jesus, Glass, you're--you really are a Messenger!," exclaimed Ruby in awe.
"Hardly," he scoffed. "I'm not even just a man--I'm a megalomaniac who couldn't even keep my woman, and now she's dead. We better keep going."
When the small group emerged from the Valentine Productions building total chaos in the streets greeted them. This was the concert riot times 100 and all the Council's agents and robots were engaging the angry citizens. A rousing cheer went up when some of the Ghost Children spotted him. Here was their hero who'd went into the very jaws of the enemy and came out triumphant! None of the Council's machines could touch him.