DARNELL FREEDMAN spent eight frustrating, frightening minutes locked inside the armored police cruiser before anyone came to help. In the meantime, he got nothing out of Maxwell except accusations about starting this whole thing by not using the "Get Out Of Jail Free" card that he seemed to think being a Crimson reporter gave him. Freedman judged it was not the time or place to argue the point again.
About two minutes after the first incident, whatever it was, another cop car came roaring up, stopping just long enough to shine a spotlight into the car. Then it peeled off, turned the corner, and by the sounds that followed, crashed.
The person that came to help was one of the oddball girls, and she looked even odder: she had put on some kind of costume with wings. She was the pregnant one, all in light blue, even her hair. She took time to find the right keys for the car. Maxwell bolted out without waiting for her to open the cuffs. Freedman asked the girl, "How did you get the keys?"
"From policeman," she answered. "Dead not make, that one." When the cuffs were off, she added, "More better run away. More police come."
"Yes, more police come," said Darnell sardonically. He could hear a lot of sirens. "They come lookin’ for me, I think."
"Second Moon say you run. Parapara say you run too."
"Darnell say you run, too."
"Must stay. Cannot move First Moon."
Freedman followed the blue angel around the corner and found the crashed cop car soon enough. It was on fire. One door was off, though, and he could see the car was empty.
The oddball in powder blue wasn’t the only one dressed up in an angel suit. So was Sarah Uer, and the tall girl, and the other oddball. But his reporter’s instincts were on hold, though his peculiar memory was recording details which would return to him later. Darnell Freedman did not really process all that he was seeing and hearing because his attention was focused on Kendra Darjamian. Kendra was with Maxwell, naturally, and both were by Sarah Uer. Freedman went up to them, and heard, but didn’t really process, some of this:
MAXWELL: You got to come out of it, Sarah. Sarah, it’s me, Evan. Say something!
KENDRA: Your boyfriend is here, Sarah. He’s all right. Sarah? Sarah? Sarah?
TALL GIRL: You guys need to get out of here.
KENDRA: (laughs) You don’t think the cops are looking for us?"
TALL GIRL: The fat one didn’t really call in any of the IDs.
KENDRA: How the fuck would you know that?
TALL GIRL: We just do, okay? Get out of here before—
Some of the sirens were getting loud. The tall girl stopped, and opened a third eye in her forehead. She shouted out something Freedman could not understand. A blue rose appeared in her hand, then vanished as she tossed it. There was a CRACK followed by a high-pitched whine. Then came a lot of noise from far off, and after that died down a noticeable decrease in the number of sirens.
KENDRA: What did you just do?"
TALL GIRL: I took out a front tire on the lead car. Three more crashed into it. (The third eye closed and vanished.)
MAXWELL: You can’t move her at all?"
TALL GIRL: We’ll keep trying. Maybe with more of us. (Third eye opened again, began scanning.)
The tall girl with the third eye and wings, and skulls among her jewelry (like Sarah Uer, but with blue stones set in the empty eyes instead of pink) took notice of Freedman and said to him, "I read all your stuff, Mr. Freedman. Especially about poor Michael Grandville."
"Thank you," said Freedman, beginning to absorb the strangeness.
"I think you’d better get out of here if you want to write any more stuff."
"And leave a story like this?" said Darnell Freedman. "Who are you? What are you?"
"I’m Kimberly Chiba, Mr. Freedman. What I am is bishoujo senshi."
"She Second Moon," said the pregnant powder blue angel. "You know too much. Make memory go away."
"Maybe," said the tall girl. "But you need to be awake now. Evan, we can’t move you and him. All I have is Parapara and Junjun." Her third eye grew so large it absorbed the other two. After a 360-degree scan, the tall girl said, "Too late, I’m afraid. They’re blocking off all the streets now."
The Exmouth PD was indeed blocking off the streets by that moment, something the department should have done before losing four more cruisers.
Darnell Freedman got around to processing the datum that Kendra Darjamian, Sarah Uer and her taller but younger sister and himself were all gathered around a very dead cop. It was the fat cop. He still had his stripes, but not much head.
After he finished vomiting, a considerable period, he became aware of the present situation around himself again. The fire was out in the crashed car, and there were more girls dressed like angels, or something. One of them had no wings but carried a long stick with a black star at the end. She was a little girl. She was trying to get Sarah to talk or move, maybe. She was speaking a language Darnell Freedman did not understand. “What’s she saying?” he wondered aloud.
“She ask First Moon wake up,” said a larger angel girl, though she was actually shorter than Darnell. She looked like one of the oddballs, but she was a different one than before, all in yellow and white. “More better you get out of street. Bullets come.”
As if to punctuate, a bullet did whine close, until it vanished with a FLASH and a CRACK! “Did you do that?”
“First Moon do that.”
“I thought she was out?”
“She do it no think. Don’t know. She no do that before. But not stop all bullet. You get out of street.”
“Where is Kendra? Where is Ms. Darjamian?”
“Upstair, apartment. You go now.”
Another bullet whined. This one thudded into something. Freedman ran into Kendra’s building.
Exmouth was once a fishing village at the edge of a cove surrounded by salt marsh, but just before wetlands conservation became a large enough issue, the marsh had been drained, the cove filled in, and apartments, condos, and houses put up, just in time for another bust in the business cycle. Prices went down far enough for many South Boston whites to buy or rent, but not far enough to attract that many nonwhites. Any attraction the darker of the nonwhites might have had was usually dissipated after their first encounter with the Exmouth PD, which also got a lot of cops formerly of the Boston PD and formerly resident in South Boston, one of those being the now-late Senior Corporal Axely. More Boston police still serving became Exmouth residents, as well as others from the Boston metropolitan area. Cops need affordable housing, too, and some like to live around other cops.
Exmouth’s policies, official and unofficial, didn’t escape notice completely, but since there were no fatalities and not even that many contusions, Exmouth was not very prominent in the media. It’s Chief of Police was a charming man named Olsen Fieldstone, a master of bafflegab and possessed of a fine talent for avoiding confrontation. Provided he was sober, he could handle almost any crisis a bedroom community might ordinarily face.
But, unfortunately, he was far from sober that night, and it was far from an ordinary situation. Still, if he had only been sober, or even somewhat less drunk, he might have ended it earlier and with less collateral damage.
"You are shooting at children! At pregnant women!" cried Kendra Darjamian into her phone.
"Hold on," said the 911 operator she had been trying to reach for nearly an hour. "Identify yourself please," the anonymous woman said with well-practiced disinterest.
"I’m Kendra Darjamian."
"One moment . . . D-A-R-J-A-M-I-A-N?"
"Yes, yes! Can’t you do anything?"
"Ms. Darjamian, are you injured?"
"Not yet, but with all this shooting—"
"I see from your GPS location you are near the scene. Are you in your apartment now?"
"Stay away from the windows. Stay down and as far away from the outside of the building as you can. We’ll style="mso-spacerun: yes"> have people take you out, but stay where you are now. Are you alone?"
"No. There are—I have friends here. Who do I talk to to stop the shooting?"
"This is an emergency situation, Ma’am. You and your friends should stay where you are. Do any of you require any special assistance?"
"The special assistance we need is for you guys to stop shooting!"
have calls waiting. Unless you need—Ma’am? . . . Ma’am? . . . Ma’am . . . Ms. Darjamian? . . .
POTUS: What’s the report from the helicopter?
HOMESEC: They’re holding over the site. No success with the winch, but there’s been no firing from the police.
POTUS: How long can they stay there?
HOMESEC: Not much longer. It’s the only bird we’ve got there, and we had to send it before it finished refueling.
POTUS: Annie, what about (unintelligible)?
FBIDIR: My agents aren’t being allowed inside the perimeter. The Boston Police Commissioner is giving us soothing words, but nothing concrete. I don’t think he’s really in control, anyway.
POTUS: We can’t afford to lose Sarah. The chopper, can it get some agents inside? Land them?
GEN ALLANSCOTT: It’s a Seasprite, isn’t it?
HOMESEC: Maybe, or maybe winch some down.
POTUS: Annie, I want volunteers.
FBIDIR: You think they won’t all go?
POTUS: Do it.
Evan Maxwell didn’t realize he’d been shot. All he felt was pressure, and then he was on the ground. He had just enough time to feel stinging and cold on one cheek before he passed out. Then he was in Kendra’s apartment, where he’d set out to come about a million years before. Of all people, Darnell Freedman was bent over him. Maxwell asked the obvious question: "What happened?"
"You got shot is what happened," said Freedman. "Half your shoulder blowed off. And one of the little angels did something, and it healed up."
"Rhea," murmered Evan. "Is Sarah all right?"
"Yeah, I think so. Some of the girls got hit, but not bad, I guess. And there’s a whole bunch of new dead cops down there. But they haven’t been shooting since the helicopter came back. It landed, and a bunch of FBI got out. They on our side, believe it?"
"I believe it."
POTUS: What casualties this time?
FBIDIR: Second Moon says maybe ten dead.
FBIDIR: Yes. Lots more wounded.
POTUS: And the senshi?
FBIDIR: Some got hit. Also a civilian, Mr. Maxwell.
POTUS: Sarah’s boyfriend.
FBIDIR: Ah, yes.
ATTGEN: I’ve got every Federal Marshall I could scrape up headed for Exmouth.
POTUS: Thirteen dead cops. Do you think they’ll fire on the FBI and the Coast Guard?
FBIDIR: We can’t rule it out.
Somehow Kendra’s father got through the jammed phone system. "Baby, are you okay? Is that trouble close to your place?"
His daughter laughed sharply. "Yeah, pretty close, Daddy, but I’m all right, I guess. There’s been no shooting for a long while."
"Can you get out of there?"
His daughter hesitated. "Not yet. I . . . called 911 and they said to stay put, someone would come." She laughed again, briefly. Then she said, "Hey, call Mom, tell her I’m okay."
"I hear people," said Ken Darjamian. "Who’s with you?"
Again, hesitation. "Some friends . . . bunch of kids, mostly."
Another voice broke in. "I’m here with Kendra, Mr. Darjamian. Darnell Freedman."
"Darnell?" his daughter said, sounding exasperated.
"Have him call my folks, please," said the little student with the big crush on his daughter. Darnell? Darnell was with Kendra? The boy came on the phone and began giving him a series of numbers to call.
After Kendra Darjamian finally finished the call from her father, she asked Darnell Freedman, "Why didn’t you try to use him to get out your big story?"
"Because it would get you in trouble." Then he laughed. "More trouble."
"Yeah," said Kendra. "Where’s Evan?"
"He went back down to his other girlfriend, try and wake her up again. Maybe take another bullet. He brave, that one. Braver than me, for sure."
"Oh, I don’t know," said Kendra. "Well, if he’s down there, I’m going too."
"You shouldn’t go," said Sailor Maia. "If you go, the children will start sneaking out again."
"I’m not a little kid," said a little girl with wings.
Sailor Maia was attempting to nurse two infants at once. One of them was not cooperating. It was bawling, very loudly. "What’s wrong with her? Can I take her?" said Kendra, feeling useless.
"Him. They’re boys," said Maia. "Gurio wants Sarah. He’s always—" Maia stopped, and switched to Japanese to murmer, "Perhaps that would do it."
Kendra Darjamian followed Sailor Maia outside. Darnell Freedman followed Kendra, and more or less all the kids followed them. After over five hours, Sarah the First Moon spoke again. "Gu-chan," was what she said. She bared a breast already secreting milk and put the infant’s mouth to it.
"He’s yours?" exclaimed Kendra.
"Ours," said Sarah, "Mine and Maia’s."
"When did you get a tan?" asked Darnell Freedman. "And those?"
Sarah looked at her arms and realized—"Eyes! I have eyes!"
"Not your old eyes," said Kimi the Second Moon.
"Like snake," said Sailor Pallas, rubbing at her not-entirely-healed wound. "It no fun here. We go home now?" asked Parapara.
FBIDIR: They’re all out.
POTUS: Agents, Coast Guard, everyone?
FBIDIR: I mean all the senshi and the civilians. Including Darjamian. She’s the only one they know is associated with the incident. I think Galatine is safe after all.
ATTGEN: Until the trial. Did they flush her memory yet?
FBIDIR: First Moon says no.
ATTGEN: Teenagers making decisions like this. Christ, what’s this trial going to be like? I thought the Grandville case was a nightmare.
POTUS: We’ve had more luck than we have had a right to deserve. Sarah’s safe, we didn’t lose any senshi, and security is still tight.
FBIDIR: We’ll have some problems with videos and photographers. But I guess we can handle another Angel Sighting.
ATTGEN: Now if we can only come up with a story about how they got out of a building surrounded by about a thousand cops when they were supposedly in Federal custody.
POTUS: Maybe silence is best.
A few minutes before the chibi senshi and their friends teleported out of Kendra Darjamian’s Federally-secured apartment building, an Exmouth police detective discovered something they forgot: Picture identification for Kendra Darjamian, Evan Maxwell, Sarah Uer, Kimberly Chiba, and two of the Asatara sisters. They were found in the right breast pocket of Senior Corporal Edward Axely’s uniform blouse.