Thursday, March 8, 2012

2/22-29/12 - Countdown Epilogue pt. 1

It's still mourning in America, but perhaps not for much longer.

The funeral of the President has come and gone. The swearing in of the new one has occurred. First steps have been taken in the Oval Office by a new Administration, with its own style and ideas. And, as expected, the formerly kind tones of those who covet that office have reverted back to the relentless attack of the campaign trail.

In a way, this is comforting. It means that America is getting back to normal, again. But this fact brings little joy to the new Administration, for -- as those candidates are all so happy remind them -- they have a new mandate.

The assassin of the President remains at large. He must be caught. He must be made to face justice.

America needs to see SPYGOD captured and in chains for the terrible thing he has done

And unless the new President can deliver this, his hopes of being more than a temporary occupant of the White House -- and a tragic footnote in the nation's history -- remain fairly slim at best.

* * *

All hands jump to their feet and salute with the Vice President -- (sighs) -- President enters the Command and Control room, under the White House. He keeps wanting to tell everyone to take it easy and chill out, and he's not really worth all the pomp and circumstance, but remembers that he can't do that anymore.

He can't do a lot of anything, anymore, really. And it's making him !@#$ sick.

"Mr. President," one of the FBI Agents says, ushering him over to one of the larger screens: "You're just in time, sir. We have Agents entering the premises, now."

"That would be that B.U.I.L.D.I.N.G. thing in New York, right?" he says, looking at the dizzying camera feed. The story is told in several large rectangles, as agents march into the skyscraper, looking for evidence, traps, and, quite possibly, a fugitive or two.

"Yes, sir. The B.U.I.L.D.I.N.G.," one of the men says, saluting smartly: "In Neo York City, in fact, sir."

The President studies the fellow: tall and black, with a looming head and very yellowed eyes: "Right, of course," the President says, "Have we met?"

"Colonel Richter, sir. I've been placed in charge of apprehending SPYGOD."

"Oh? Well, good. Good."

There's a blank look on the President's face, and Colonel Richter mirrors it for precisely one second, and then turns to observe operations. His men have just found the main elevator and are about to override it and take it up.

"Appointed by whom?" the President whispers to an adviser, who shrugs.

"I want tight formations, there, gentlemen," the Colonel insists: "Remember your briefing. This place used to be super-weapon, and the target has lived in it for decades. He could have any number of traps waiting for you."

"Colonel of what?" he asks someone else.

"Colonel of kicking !@#$ for God and Country, sir," the Colonel says to the President without turning around: "Now, if you'll excuse me, sir?"

"Of course..."

The screen shows the elevator doors opening, and the men fan out, guns ready. They wear very light but extremely durable armor, helmets bristling with camera pods and sensors that lend them a weird, insectoid look. The guns could destroy a tank in seconds. No chances are being taken, here, today.

"Sir, we have no visuals, and no thermals," the leader says: "No sign of a panicky pullout, either. Some damage, here and there, but looks consistent with a wild party instead of him kicking open the hidden safe."

"Stay on your toes, boys. Also remember that he was living with a repurposed slaughter-bot for most of that time. The nasty metal !@#$ could be anywhere, waiting."

There are a few more tense minutes as the men filter through the darkened apartment. The President almost spills his coffee when something looms out of the darkness, but turns out to be only a dress draped over a suggestively-shaped piece of furniture. Then one of the younger, more tightly-wound Agents instigates a one-man firefight with a marble bust of President Truman, and he feels he can no longer stand idly by.

"This is !@#$ ridiculous," he announces to Col. Richter: "You do realize that SPYGOD is probably millions of !@#$ miles away by now, right?"

The look the Colonel gives him in return could wither fruit on the vine: "Sir, I do realize that. But, begging the President's pardon, perhaps he wants us to think that?"

The President clearly hadn't thought of that, and, sheepishly, nods.

"Then perhaps the President will let me do my job?" the Colonel says, turning back around to watch his Agents. The President takes a long, cautious step back towards his advisers, hoping he can just go back to his coffee without further incident.

A few more moments, a few more close calls, and then one of the Agents makes a discovery in the hallway leading to the bedroom.

"Sir, we have thermal imaging. It's a small animal. I think... yeah, it's a cat."

The Colonel pffts and waves the notion away: "The cat. Wonderful. I don't think it'll be able to give us any effective intel, Agent. Keep moving."

"The cat does seem to be on a gun, sir."

"Tag and bag, Agent. I'm sure you can handle a little pussy on the clock."

The Agents laugh, but it's short-lived.

"Um, sir... the cat is standing up."

The President spits his coffee out and rushes forward: "Oh Jesus !@#$. Colonel, get your men out of there."

"Mr. President, please, I have this under control-"

"No you don't! That's no ordinary cat! That !@#$ thing's dangerous!"

"Will someone please remove the President from my control room?"

"Your control room? This is my White House, mother!@#$-"

"Sir, the cat's picking up the gun!"

The next few moments will never be forgotten by any in the room. The cat, face and fur turned green by night vision -- eyes blazing with malevolence, screaming epithets in Russian -- unloads the clip of the AK-47 into the Agents, its bullets shredding their armor as though it were paper.

Their video feeds snap off, one by one, until only one remains, hissing with moans and cries for help. A feline face looms into it, hisses "Svolotch! Chort tzbdya beeree," and turns right around to !@#$ on the camera, shorting it out.

"What the !@#$ just happened?" the Colonel demands, pounding the controls to the now-dead big screen.

"He just said 'the devil with you,' sir," someone who speaks Russian explains: "I think he called us swine, too, but I could be wrong. It might have been worse."

"Someone get the Colonel out of my White House, please?" The President says to an adviser as he leaves, not knowing whether to be amused or disgusted, but knowing enough to get as far away from this sad spectacle as fast as his shoes will take him.

His predecessor -- and God does he hate to think of him that way -- used to lecture him about the need to flee a bad scene before it sucks you in.

This, he thinks, is the best way to honor that lesson.

* * *
"... news that the Adult Swim channel has both canceled and disavowed its previous collaboration with SPYGOD, which was to result in an ongoing action comedy cartoon this Spring. The head of the channel, Harvey Birdman, has also resigned due to the outcry... wait, no, Harvey Birdman? That can't be right...

* * *

There is a ripple in the air outside the ferry terminal on Hong Kong Island. Two Indian men step out of it, one of whom -- the larger one -- is badly bleeding. He gasps and stumbles, and his companion -- the badly-scarred one with the eyepatch -- kneels down to see what can be done. Sadly, it isn't much.

"Go, Dosha," the big man says, holding his guts in his chest with both hands: "Run."

"I can't leave you," Dosha says, eyes wet with tears: "I can't-"

The big man pulls Dosha close and kisses him. If he'd done it any other day, Dosha would probably have killed him, himself. Not today, though.

Today, everything they knew is wrong.

"Run, you bhen chodu bakland," are Daksha's last words in the world. He eases back, shudders, and is still.

Dosha gets to his feet, shaking like a flag in heavy winds. His entire world has crumbled around him, today, and the loss of his constant companion truly is the last insult the Gods could have played on him. If he died here and now, cut down by the assassins his own people had sent to punish his failure, it would be highly appropriate.

But he didn't come this far to have it end like this.

The shaking stops. The tears evaporate. The languid steel in his eyes returns.

Too aware that tourists are looking at him, and the police can't be far behind, Dosha half-jogs further into the island, seemingly losing both panic and urgency as he goes. A few blocks and he'll be hard to find; a few more after that and he'll be all but invisible -- just another Indian tourist amongst far too many to count.

They won't find him until he wants to be found. They won't see him coming until he's on top of them, knives drawn and ready for a fight.

There will be an answer for this day. Though the way be hard and brutal, and the gods displeased, Dosha Josh will have his due.

* * *
"... also receiving word that the controversial co-ed youth organization that SPYGOD founded, the SPYGOD SCOUTS, is being disbanded as of today. Numerous psychologists specializing in institutional child abuse are standing by to offer counseling, and possible pre-trial advice, for the parents of any Scouts who feel that they were mentally, verbally, or sexually abused while a part of the organization..."

* * *

"What do you mean they confiscated B.A.S.E.C.A.M.P.?" Myron is shouting, incredulously, as he follows Second around The Flier.

"Just that, Underman," Second says: "Consider yourself lucky they didn't confiscate your !@#$ sunglasses while they were at it."

"I can't !@#$ believe this-"

"Believe it," Second says, turning to stare the former super-criminal in the face: "And if I were you, I'd keep a really low profile, Myron. I really would."

"Is that a threat?"

Second sighs, and looks out a porthole. Outside and below is Washington D.C., above which they are maintaining a very high altitude.

(People have been taking pot-shots at them, lately, and with all the reflex weaponry on board no one wants to take any chances.)

"It's a warning," he says, looking back: "One comrade to another. We were close to him, and we're marked because of it. Anything they can use against us, they will."

"You think he did it, don't you?"

Second sighs and keeps walking, really not wanting to have this conversation right now: "It was on television, Underman. The whole White House press corps watched him turn the President's head into soup. And it was him. We have psychic confirmation on that."

"Do we have psychic confirmation on the !@#$ psychic confirmation?"

"Wayfinder said he was there."

"!@#$ Wayfinder. Half the time we ask him to find someone for us and all he can do is shrug and say 'Naples.'"

"You would be surprised how many supercriminals hide out in Italy," a mellifluous voice announces, right behind them. The Dragon has caught them unawares, yet again.

"I thought they had you locked up?" Second asks, not really pleased to see the man.

"I thought we were throwing away the key?" Myron offers, not really happy, either.

"It transpires that my expert knowledge of... certain subjects makes me too valuable a team member to keep locked away in a dungeon."

"I'm sure they must have forgotten how 'Silence of the Lambs' went, then," Myron says: "If you'll excuse me? I need to bathe. Now."

"Actually, you must come with me," The Dragon says: "Indeed, both of you. I have been sent by the new Director to find you. There are things to discuss."

"Not that we know who the new Director is, yet," Second protests: "I didn't think it would be me, under the circumstances. But it would have been nice to meet the new boss formally, before he just sort of sneaked on board."

"Your views are noted," The Dragon says, ushering them off to what used to be SPYGOD's executive office. The presence of extra guards there -- ones they do not recognize, wearing light and insectile armor -- makes them more than a little uneasy.

The door opens on its own, and when they walk in they see a somewhat-familiar face. New Man stands from behind the desk, no longer wearing the garish costume they normally associate with his person. He regards them silently, and then tries to smile. It comes off badly. Needlessly aloof.

"I am sorry we didn't get a chance to talk earlier," he says, seeing to the closing of the door behind them with the push of a button under the desk: "I felt the need to see what all I was getting into before coming out and waving to the troops."

"You'll find them well-trained, highly-disciplined, and ready to hear your orders, sir," Second says without missing a beat, and saluting as though his career depended on it.

"I certainly hope so," New Man says, bidding them to sit. Second and Myron do. The Dragon does not, and instead walks to the other side of the desk, so as to stand beside the new Director.

"Sir?' Myron asks, but Second kicks him in the shin under the desk before he can ask the obvious question.

"Ah, well, that's in keeping with my hopes, Underman," the Director says: "Second, you will remain in your current position. I see no reason to take you away from the job you've done so well for so long. Underman, you will also retain your post. I need your expertise in the field now more than ever, especially when we go back up against GORGON.

"The Dragon has been given untouchable status, direct from the President's chair. He will be aiding us in our primary mission, as of right now. That mission is catching SPYGOD."

"Sir, with all due respect," Myron says, rising up from his chair: "I know how this looks, and I know how it seems, but-"

"Perhaps you would be good enough to allow me to finish," New Man says, holding up a hand: "I know how you must feel, Underman. I served with him in the Liberty Patrol. I worked with him for years. I don't want to believe this, either. But we have to face the facts. Whatever happened on that day, SPYGOD has clearly gone into hiding, and has made no visible moves to come work with us to prove his innocence.

"Now, does that sound like the actions of an innocent man?"

Myron sighs, and half-sits, but then rises back up again: "If there was a force out there capable of making it look like he did this, then I think the only thing an innocent man could do would be to go underground until he could prove his innocence. Sir."

"Well, I'm afraid the President doesn't see it that way," New Man says: "We have been ordered to consider him hostile and dangerous. That means we shoot... and we shoot to kill."

"That is complete and utter bull!@#$-"

"And, Underman, I have to say I don't care for your tone," the new Director says, rising from his side of the desk: "Need I remind you that you were released to The COMPANY from prison for your misdeeds? If you insist on making this task more difficult for us, you will be sent back there. And you will not be let out again."

"Sit down," Second whispers, praying the man sees sense.

"!@#$ this !@#$ in the ear with a cat's !@#$, sir," Myron replies, pulling the insignia off his uniform and placing it on the desk: "I will gladly go back to the Heptagon cells before I give up hope that the man's innocent, and at least give him the chance to prove it."

"Then you will go back there forthwith, young man," New Man says, pressing another button under the desk.

Everything that happens after is something of a blur of orders, curses, and insect armor to Myron. Before he knows it, he's on his way back to the Heptagon, and not in a way he'd care to be going. But though he knows he'll be regretting this move soon enough, he'll at least have the satisfaction of knowing that his debt to SPYGOD has finally been paid.

And maybe, given time, he'll be able to do a little more.

(SPYGOD is listening to Drive (The Cars) and having something tropical)

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