Another infection, of a sort, was present as well. Lurking just beneath the surface. For the moment, it manifested only as an occasional cough, or momentary nausea. But despite that, nearly everyone in the city had already fallen victim to the illness. For it was transmitted not by touch, but by the very water everyone drank. Undetected by the water treatment center, because it had already been subverted by the Pack's own Jean Gravesend.
The Alpha wasn't yet touched by the cold. She and her protege, Eliza, were nice and warm where they were, with plenty of hostages around them. One moaned softly, and stiffened instantly when the Hunter turned to him.
"Shh," she whispered softly. "Not yet."
From her chair, the Alpha reached down and ruffled Eliza's curls. The Little Doctor was the keystone to this entire operation, in truth. Without her, none of it would have been possible.
A radio was unclipped from the Predator's belt, the frequency already tuned to the Wolf-Pack's encrypted channel. To anyone without the proper decoder chip, her words would sound like a mess of static. To Zulu, though, her orders would come through loud and clear.
"Zithuele. You may engage."
The Cybernetic Swordsman's first assignment of the day was simple, for someone of his capabilities. Behead the government of Detroit. Literally. The mayor was corrupt, owned entirely by the corporation that had nearly tripled Detroit in size. The same corporation that had tried to kill the Pack a dozen times over. His death- along with his staff, and anyone else within City Hall, would kick off the day's events.
First, though, there were matters to attend to. Other calls to be made. The next, to Gravesend.
"Jean. If you would be so kind as to deploy our surprise."
The other doctor was in charge of their pathogen. Already released into the water supply, of course, but in its current form it was harmless. When activated, however, there would be fireworks. It contained a modified strain of Gravesend's Indigo Serum, making everyone who was infected unable to resist his commands. There were also a number of other effects. Subtle, at first. Residents of Detroit would find themselves a touch more irritable, snapping at one-another over petty disagreements. Quicker to resort to violence.
Lucia's phone lit up. She'd been sent a number of images, it seemed. Smiling, she set them to print, and gestured for Progress to bring them to her. The man was mostly along as... 'backup.' Still, at the Alpha's side he had the best chance of engaging someone with useful powers for him to mimic. And she didn't really trust him not to flee, or do something stupid, if left alone.
Next came the bridges. A detonator was clipped to the Alpha's belt, next to her radio. She flipped the cap off, caressed the button with her finger, and depressed it.
Highways, roads, and bridges detonated all at once. Hundreds died almost immediately, their vehicles plunging to the ground or into water. No one would be entering Detroit by land today. Nor, however, would any be fleeing. Which meant the spread of the virus would be limited to the city, for the moment.
The authorities would not be responding. Firefighters, EMTs, police officers, and all the rest, would already be falling victim to the second pathogen. This one's effects were a bit more direct. Rapid-onset hemorrhagic fever, complete with shitting blood.
It was time. Lucia gave another gesture, and they were rolling. People all over the city, tuning into their morning news, would find the usual anchor tied up, gagged, and sitting against the wall. In the center of the shot, in the man's usual seat, was the Alpha. On her other side, of course, was the Little Doctor herself.
Silently, the Apex Predator raised the images, shuffling through them slowly. The camera zoomed in, so that only her face and the pictures were visible. They depicted the city's mayor, and various other officials that'd been in City Hall, killed in a number of gruesome fashions.
"Hello," the Alpha began. "I'm here to set you free."
She placed the photos on the desk before her, and waved subtly for the cameraman- the one with Joyous' gun to his head- to zoom out. Her cold expression softened a touch.
"The government has been... decapitated. The police will be dead within minutes. The roads and bridges have been destroyed. No one is coming to save you... because you are not in need of saving. I am the Alpha. And you are no longer under the rule of law. No higher power exists to save you. There is simply me. So I say... take what you want. Kill who you will. Whatever material goods you desire... or whoever you desire. No one is left to punish you. "
Slowly, it began. Slowly, but faster than it might have. The virus didn't simply increase aggression- it removed inhibitions. The beast inside Detroit was let slip, as the purest urges of humanity, those stifled by the false laws of this 'society,' were unleashed. It started with smaller violences. An angry father striking his child, and receiving a pen jammed into his eye in return. Then started the looting. In some places, the people behind the counter were dragged over it and beaten, as their wares were thrown into duffel bags. In others, the cashier gunned down would-be thieves with little remorse.
Lucia sunk a knife into the anchor's neck and left it there, blood pouring down his chest. Terror was visible in his eyes, until they went glassy. The man slumped over, falling out of the shot.
"By this right alone do I rule you. Kill whomever you wish, but be warned... there is little stopping them from killing you back. And above you all, is my Pack. Those who you have little hope of killing. Though you are welcome to try."
The camera panned to the left, as the Alpha stood, and began walking. Those still watching were treated to a view of the newsroom, as she continued to address them.
"To those who would attempt to challenge my rule, I would remind you of one thing. Weeks ago, I acquired a number of pathogens from a MAVU facility in Washington state. With some assistance-" She indicated Eliza, walking at her side. "-we created what you might call a supervirus. Highly infectious, and if not carefully controlled, incredibly lethal." A pause, for dramatic effect. "So... I give you three hours. Come. Try to end me. You will fail. And after three hours, if you are not gone from my city, I'll deploy the virus... and allow the people to flee. They'll spread it far and wide, and hundreds of thousands will die."
The Apex raised her side-arm, and spoke into the camera a final time.
"Best of luck."
She fired once, at the camera, and walked out. Eliza, Fredrick, and Tyler followed. Up the stairs, to the roof of the network's building. One of the taller buildings in the Commercial Sector.
Standing atop the skyscraper, the Alpha observed. The slums, predictably, were tearing themselves apart. Fires already burned, as people fought over scraps. The Industrial District, however, seemed a little more organized. Though rioting was still audible even up here, it seemed a massive mob of angry blue-collar-types was heading in this direction. Step on the little people long enough, it seemed, and given half a chance they'd tear you out of your white-collar offices, and tear you apart. Already, improvised explosives were being hurled at office buildings, and sledgehammers taken to the facades of high-end retailers.
The Predator's sights were set a touch higher. Specifically, at Opulence, the private domain of Detroit's uber-rich. MAVU executives, bankers, stockbrokers, politicians, the usual suspects. Cowering behind their gates, right now. Afraid the mob would turn its eyes towards them soon enough. Tear down their mansions and storm their skyscrapers. The trio boarded the Pack's VTOL- the Raptor. It'd been cloaked on the roof while Lucia made her broadcast, but in a shimmering haze it reappeared, taking off towards their new home.
"Look," the Alpha chuckled. "They're trying to run."
Indeed, a private helicopter was taking off from someone's helipad. Their pilot was presumably swayed by the promise of a few thousand dollars to save his master. Or perhaps the one-percenter had taken up piloting as a hobby. The very notion was offensive to Lucia- she'd learned to fly so she could intercept American stealth bombers.
Either way, it didn't matter. A single air-to-air missile was sufficient to blow the helicopter apart, sending the flaming wreckage crashing into the river.
Lucia did have to admit that the idea of having a private helipad was inviting, though. A slight adjustment to their course sent them towards the building the errant vehicle had fled from. No gunfire greeted the Raptor, as it touched down. Just a number of bodyguards, seemingly miffed their employer had neglected to bring them along in his escape. And a young woman in a heavy coat that had been pulled over a sundress.
"Your boss is dead," the Alpha said by way of greeting. "You work for me now."
The men in suits with earpieces looked at her, confused, but didn't speak.
"Shoot who I tell you to shoot, and you can stay here. I'm afraid 'payment' isn't going to be an especially useful concept going forward, but I can promise you food and shelter, which is more guarantee than you'd get out there." She waved vaguely at the rest of the city, with fires and riots and various far-off explosions.
There was a pause, as they considered it. Slowly, the men turned to the one who seemed to be in charge, and nodded.
"Okay. What are your orders, ma'am?"
Instantly, the Apex Predator's stance shifted. Falling back into the pattern of command. "Fan out. Secure the perimeter. I'll need to be looped into your communications network. I want to be first to know if you spot an intruder, but don't engage if they look extra-normal. Good help is hard to find, and I'd rather you not all get shot by the first cape who comes along."
The man nodded, and tossed her an earpiece. The men in suits headed inside, to do as they'd been instructed. That just left one person on the roof with them.
"You," Lucia said. The woman turned to look at her. Some fear was evident in her eyes, understandable given the Alpha had killed a man on live TV not fifteen minutes before. "What's your name?"
"Laura," she said, voice impressively steady.
"Who was he to you?" The Alpha indicated the river, and the smoldering wreck that was slowly sinking into it.
"My dad," she said after a moment.
"And he left you here to die," the Hunter mused. "Because he was weak. But, he's dead. So what about you? Are you weak?"
After a moment's trepidation, Laura answered. "Yes. But I don't want to be. He was richer than god, and he died... like that." She snapped her fingers, though the cold made it more difficult. "I don't want that to be me."
Lucia considered this.
"Very well. You can stay here, and make yourself useful. Watch closely, and I'll show you how to be strong."