Because, technically it’s that date. I have some more date-appropriate things cooked up for us all.
Technically, April 11th was the night of the famed opera night in Blank Mastermind. The night that Wolfgang killed Agent Friday and lost his memories, waking up the next morning with them gone.
So here are some precursors.
Anyway. Here you all go. First off, we’re heading over to Franklin and a little prologue I decided to tack on to TPTB.
The Powers That Be, Prologue
April 11, 2022
I had to admit, I was kinda nervously excited.
After all I’d seen about him on the news. All the pictures and stories . . . I was finally going to meet the Wolf. Wolfgang Dankworth. And we were gonna be business partners from now on.
Excuse a small fanboy moment.
I leaned back in my back-row seat and glanced over at the side door as the lights of the opera dimmed down. Still nothing. The yellow light faded from the room and the excited murmuring around the big room died along with it.
Mansley said Dankworth had a habit of being late so I wasn’t exactly worried. Just impatient.
Come on dude, we’ve got business to discuss.
I blew out my breath and pushed my hair back out of my eyes, fixing my gaze on the stage as things started to play out. I didn’t have a great view from here, but hey. Something to look at. I could see the sparkles on the costumes from way back here. And the music wasn’t half bad, even if it wasn’t my style.
I tapped my foot against the floor a few times in rhythm, humming under my breath. One hand went to my pocket and I rubbed my fingers over my silver wing keychain. For luck.
Luck came a bit quicker than I expected.
There was the sound of footsteps right closeby and someone dropped into the empty seat next to me. Someone with that famous, crazy hair, visible even in the mostly dark room and a leather jacket over his tuxedo.
He glanced over at me out of the corner of his eye.
“Got a bit hung up on the way here,” he muttered under his breath. “It took a bit to get away from Bad N- . . . I mean, my friend wanted to come along too.”
I couldn’t help the grin that spread across my face. I stuck out my hand, keeping my voice low. “Franklin Tumbler. And it is spectacular to finally meet you, my friend.”
Dankworth took my hand and shook it, somewhat distractedly. I sensed a small tremor in his hand before he dropped it.
His eyes scanned around the large room. He shifted uncomfortably, adjusting his collar and bowtie. “So do you have the papers?”
“Indeed I do.” I pulled my thin briefcase out from under my seat and fiddled with the latches, still talking in hushed tones. “I’m telling you, Dank. This is going to be the day your life starts over. Best decision you’ve ever made by far.” I opened the top just a crack and pulled out the papers. “I mean, it’s impressive what you’ve done on your own to fight against the SPI but this . . . you’ll actually start seeing some effects. Some benefits.” I pulled a pen out of my pocket and clicked it, smiling.
“Yeah, yeah, I already got the sales pitch.” Dankworth took the pen from my hand. “Where do I sign for this thing anyway?”
“Riiiight . . .” I closed the briefcase, set the papers on top and pointed to a line down at the bottom. “ . . .there. Pretty easy to spot. You already know what’s there so no big deal signing in the dark . . .”
Someone from the seat in the row in front of us glanced back with a frown. “Shhh.”
I raised a hand in apology, mouthing “sorry” before turning my attention back to Dankworth’s signing.
His signature was barely more legible than a scribble. The pen scratched across the surface in a few quick swipes, leaving some semblance of his name that I could see in the dark. He clicked the pen in and gave it back to me.
“Right. What do I need to do tonight then?”
“Well it’s pretty much just procedure. Just a single mission to initiate you and all that.” I waved a hand around a little before running it through my hair. “Just a really easy two guys to take out. And it’s a job I think you’ll enjoy.” I grinned again at him, trying to lighten the mood a little.
Still not even a hint of a smile. Man, this guy was more hardcore than I’d thought.
He raised his eyebrows at me. “Yeah?”
I nodded. “Two guys. Should be around with the employees in the back since we fed ‘em a false tip. An SPI agent named Friday. And . . .” I raised a finger along with one eyebrow. “Dallas Knight.”
Ah, there was that glint in his eyes. This was gonna be beautiful.
“Assignment is to take out Friday,” I added. “Buuut, you know. Knight’s there if you want to get him out too. Wouldn’t hurt. Think of it as a bonus present thrown in there for you.”
“I already had a bit of a plan regarding Knight.” The Wolf nodded, for the first time, a bit of a smile curling up one side of his mouth. “Backstage, you said?”
“Yep,” I nodded. I reached out and patted his shoulder with a nod. “I’ll see you later, dude. It’s been awesome meeting you. Believe me, life’s gonna be getting a whole lot better for you real soon.”
Just as he started to stand up, I remembered the one other thing I was gonna do.
“Oh!” I held up a hand. “Hold on just a sec.”
Dankworth stopped half out of his seat, waiting while I dug through my pockets.
I found my little pack of business cards, pulled one out and handed it to him. “Okay so I know you’re supposed to be sort of deep-cover and all that and a bit of a sleeper agent for us. All that cool stuff. Buuut . . .” I flipped the card over my fingers, holding it out to him, “if you ever need anything, that’s my number. Feel free to give me a ring and I’ll be there.”
Dankworth glanced at the card, then stuck it in his pants pocket. “Alright, thanks.” I spotted the bulge of a gun at his hip as the coat fell back into place.
I gave him a casual salute. “Welcome to Silverwing, my man.”
He nodded, straightening up and walking out of the aisle. The Wolf disappearing into the shadows around the edges of the room.
I smiled to myself, settling back in my seat. It sucked to be missing the show backstage, but, you know, sometimes that’s how it goes.
I was just happy to have a new business partner.
And, funny story, this next one was actually the first deleted scene/alternate POV that I ever had planned, but I didn’t write it up until today because I… ahem… got distracted. Severely. With other stories.
Anyway. We had happy Dallas yesterday. This is not-so-happy Dallas because he gets shot. -jazz hands- sorry, everyone.
Blank Mastermind, Chapter 1: Dallas’s POV
Anonymous tips were usually the most productive ones that the SPI got. Seventy-five percent of the time they brought to light things that we’d never even considered and saved a lot of people.
I kept telling myself this over and over in my mind while I scanned over the security camera feeds. My eyes were starting to sting from so long staring at the screens in the dark. I looked away for a few seconds, pressing my palms into my eyes.
There had been a tip a few days ago that the Wolf would make an appearance at the opera house on this night. That he had something planned that we needed to stop.
Mr. Fernsby was out of town and I’d assured him I could handle it. I had Agent Friday as backup. And the tip had said that the gang wouldn’t be here.
The two of us could check things out well enough and . . . hopefully handle Wolfgang Dankworth if and when he showed up.
I clicked over to a few different cameras of the crowd and the front halls, looking for any signs of someone with a black leather jacket and stick-up hair. Still nothing. All activity looked to be as normal.
“I finished checking things out backstage and I’m not seeing much.” Agent Friday’s voice came through in my earpiece and I jumped a little. “Anything on your end?”
I touched on the button and responded. “I don’t see him on any of the cameras, sir.” I swallowed. “Do you think he may have realized we were here and gotten out?”
“Unlikely. I think our tip may have been a bad source. Take one last check through the cameras and I’ll check the halls. If there still isn’t anything, we’ll pull back.”
I took my finger off the button and clicked back down to the security cameras. The feeds over the guests of the crowd were what I’d looked over the most, so it didn’t take me as long to go over them. Just the same faces in the same spots as before.
Time dragged as I looked over feed after feed of hallways and entrances. Still nothing. The tension that had been bunching up in between my shoulders eased just slightly.
Maybe he wasn’t here after all? Maybe Agent Friday was right and it was a bad tip.
I moved on to the last few cameras.
Nothing on one. Nothing on the next. And then . . .
There was the Wolf. The hair and the jacket were so exactly as I’d been looking for I half thought my mind was playing tricks on me.
He was walking down the hallway, taking long, purposeful strides.
And he had a gun with a silencer on in one hand.
I froze, my heart skipping a beat. I couldn’t do anything for a few seconds, just staring until he’d moved off of the screen.
He was here. He was in a hallway. He . . .
Which hallway is that? Where . . .?
I fumbled to get the number on which camera that was. Refer back to the list of which was were . . .
I touched on the button on my earpiece again, struggling to keep my hand steady. “Sir, the Wolf is here. He’s in the . . .” the placement of the camera clicked into place in my mind and I couldn’t find my voice to finish the sentence.
There were footsteps outside in the hall. The same even, determined strides I’d seen on camera just a few seconds before.
He had a gun.
I was just supposed to be on lookout duty. I wasn’t armed.
I felt suddenly cold.
“He . . .? Dallas, where?!”
I swallowed. “He’s . . . in the hall next to the security camera room.” My voice cracked.
The door opened and I jumped in my seat.
“Well, if it isn’t the Knight in shining armor.”
My heart thumping in my chest, I slowly stood up out of the chair and turned towards the figure in the doorway.
Wolfgang stood there, gripping the gun in one hand and rubbing one finger along the trigger housing. His mouth moved into something like a smile. “You know, this might be the one time for you to know what it feels like.” He spread his hands and raised his eyebrows, not taking his gaze off of me. “Where’s Amazing Man?”
It took me a few seconds to work up my voice to speak. “Mr. Dankworth, if you’ll just . . .”
“Answer the d*** question, Knight.” He took a few steps closer, leveling the gun so it aimed right at my chest. He tilted his head. “Where is Charles Fernsby? Where’s that selfless, brave hero of our beautiful home state?” One side of his mouth still turned up in that odd hint of a smile.
I swallowed hard. “H-he . . . he’s out of town.”
“Ah, he always is when it counts, isn’t he? He really needs to learn his lesson.” Mr. Dankworth shook his head and clucked his tongue. His eyes narrowed slightly. “Think Amazing Man might finally get it through his thick skull if I kill his shrimp of a sidekick?”
I put my hands up, trying to keep my breathing even. “Mr. Dankworth, you don’t have to do this. This isn’t . . . right.”
“I’m sure you know all about ‘right’.”
“I-I . . . don’t know half as much as I’d like to.” I bit my lip for a second, then my next words came out stronger than I expected. “But I do know that your family wouldn’t have wanted this.”
Any hint of smile that had been on the Wolf’s face dropped.
“Dallas!” Agent Friday’s voice echoed distantly from down the hall and in my earpiece at the same time.
Mr. Dankworth glanced back out into the hall, then back at me. “A backup agent, huh? Tag teaming to find me? Cute. Maybe he should have thought to arm you.”
“Dankworth, put your hands in the air!” Agent Friday’s voice was closer now and I heard the thump of his footsteps.
Wolfgang took a couple steps back and called back to Friday. “I’ll get to you in a second, buddy.”
There were the blunt popping sounds of a few rounds being fired off and Mr. Dankworth ducked, cursing at Agent Friday, me and the SPI in general.
I spoke up again, backing further away from him. “Our intention was to take you peacefully, if you would just set down your weapon . . .”
There were more popping noises and I stumbled back as something punched into my stomach. My breath was gone.
My hands reflexively went up to hold my middle as I gasped to try and pull in some air. I felt wetness seeping out through the thin material of my shirt, soaking into my tie. And there was a hole.
I pulled my hands off of my shirt just a little, looking down.
The pain hit and I lost any air I’d managed to suck in. Static filled my ears and my vision started frosting over. I was shaking. I was on my knees and didn’t remember falling but it hurt even worse now.
I looked up.
The Wolf met my gaze for just a second before running out of the doorway. Towards Friday with his still loaded gun.
I was shot. I had a bullet in my middle. I was bleeding and it hurt and . . .
God help. Please. I can’t . . .
I tried to get back to my feet and get over to the door, but just ended up flat on my back. My head was swimming and my breath came in short little gasps.
I can’t die. I told my parents I’d be safe. I told Mr. Fernsby . . .
Mr. Fernsby is going to feel awful. The Wolf is probably going to shoot Agent Friday too.
If I just had my forcefields . . .
I shivered again, squeezing my eyes closed. A whimper came from my mouth as I clamped my hands over my middle. Blood was sticky and warm on my cold hands. I felt my energy draining.
Maybe if I could just keep pressure on it . . . keep from moving too much until someone came.
I fumbled in my pocket with one hand. There was a handkerchief. It had been just for decorative purposes but if I could use something as sort of a stopper in the hole . . .
There it was. I wadded it up with my shaking hands, took as deep of a breath as I could, and stuffed it against my shirt, pressing down hard.
I didn’t know how long it was that I lay there. I tried to get up and move towards the door a few times, but kept just waking up on the floor again. I probably should have tried that when I’d lost less blood earlier on.
I’d read enough first aid info. I knew I was in shock. That I shouldn’t lose this much blood. And I’d been lying there way too long.
It had to be around morning by now, right?
Employees would be coming in. Police and ambulances, even. If they found any evidence as to the Wolf’s having been here. Or maybe the SPI would send backup.
I got myself a little bit of breath and tried to form some sort of call for help. All I got at first was just a soft moan.
I moved to prop up on my elbow, closed my eyes and tried again. “H-h . . . help?” My voice was scratchy and quiet. No one who wasn’t just in the hall outside could have heard that.
I was on my own.
Gritting my teeth, I pushed up again, trying to get myself to the door. I moved only a few inches before another stab of pain spiked through my middle.
I would have kept going, but the involuntary reflex of curling in on myself and whimpering was too strong.
Things went fuzzy for a little bit and I thought I only imagined the thump against the door and the rattling of the doorknob as the door swung open.
But I definitely didn’t imagine the sudden glare of the lights in my face. I squinted against the brightness, feeling sick. I groaned and rolled sideways, pressing against my wound.
Footsteps, then someone was dropping down next to me.
“It’s okay. I’m here to help.”
Someone was here. Someone found me.
. . .Do I know that voice . . .?
Carefully, I turned my head and pulled my eyes open, making out the face above me. I blinked as my vision came into focus.
Wolfgang Dankworth gave me a shaky smile.
It turned out, what I was mainly missing in my inability to move was adrenaline. And now I had plenty of it.
I launched backwards, scrambling away fast, as far as I could get from him. My back slammed against the wall and I pressed against it as I slid back down, breathing hard.
Here to help.
Now that I knew who said them, those words took on a much more sinister twist.
I’m going to die. He came back to make sure he killed me.
But as I watched his face, my fear faded slightly, changing to confusion. He looked genuinely shocked. Like I’d just done something ridiculous by getting away from him. He was hurt too. There was blood on his head and his shirt, bruises on his face . . .
“Whoa . . .” He pushed out of his crouched position on the ground, wobbling a little as he stood and holding out one hand in what was meant to be a peaceful gesture. “Calm down. I heard you and came back to help. It’s okay . . .”
His expression. His tone.
This didn’t sound anything like him at all. What was going on?
Possible explanations flew through my mind. I’m imagining this? He’s been possessed by a demon? Or . . . demons aren’t nice. An angel? I’m actually am dead? He’s dead? He and Agent Friday switched bodies?
None of those fit. Nothing explained this.
I never knew he could act so well. But what was he trying to get out of me?
I just stared at him and shook my head slowly. My voice trembled, “No one comes back to help the person they just shot.”
Let’s all take a moment to appreciate the irony that you’re now getting more story in a shorter amount of time than when I was actually posting The Powers That Be. XD
Well, that’s all for today, folks. And tomorrow has already been fully explored in drabble-world by all those who were conscious to witness it. There might be more later on though.
See you all later!