He needs to buy Chinmoku and Whispers some more time to get to the rendezvous point, but at the same time he has to extract the rest of the team from his house on Emma St. ASAFP. Saying this is going to be really !@#$ing tricky is a little like saying he's in a little trouble with the law, right now.
But it wouldn't be the first time he's had to improvise on the run and under fire, now would it?
The promised bullets start whistling past his ears, except they're not bullets. They're flechettes -- super-heated ones at that. Just like the ones that GORGON was firing at him, back in West Papua, what seems a lifetime ago now.
A few more pieces come together in the rotating file he calls "!@#$. My. Life." But by then he's two and a half blocks into an epic sprint and not slowing the !@#$ down for anyone, let alone to do the one thing he told his people not to do. Especially since they're not trying to kill him, but simply herd him -- otherwise he'd probably be dead by now.
His plan is to outrun the snipers, get someplace clear, and call in the support he's been holding back on. But all that changes once he sees who they've brought in to deal with him.
She walks out into middle of the street, halfway down the last block. She doesn't have the whole of her old costume on, but he'd remember those cheekbones anywhere. He'd say he remembered her smile, too, but she's not smiling.
Mrs. Liberty stands there, well in advance of a very large group of well-armored COMPANY Agents, standing in a line just where Greene curves and becomes Elizabeth. All of them are armed with the finest non-lethal capture ordinance a near-endless triple-black budget can buy: Electrowebshooters, mind-tasers, cocoon bombs, and a couple Zeno pistols.
That's the kicker, right there. He might be able to shrug off a few of those other things, but once the ZPs come into play he'll be helpless -- trapped by theoretical physics and unable to run away. He'll be piled on before he can really get back up to speed.
And then it's either kill or die.
The flechettes stop whistling past as he approaches her. They don't seem to want to kill her by accident. That's a good sign, though not entirely reassuring.
"Good to see you again, Liberty," he says, slowing down just a little and putting his gun away: "Caught your act on FOX. Sorry they !@#$ing put you through that."
"I'm sorry, too," Mrs. Liberty says, hefting a very large weapon that even SPYGOD has never seen, before: "(REDACTED), please. You have to come back with us."
"I can't," he says, slowly jogging towards her: "I appreciate that you trust me, (REDACTED), but I can't."
"Why not? For God's sake, just come back and explain what happened. I know there has to be some kind of explanation for this."
"Does there?" he asks, holding up his hands, though not in surrender: "Maybe they're right. Maybe I just cracked up when I got fired. Maybe I got bought out or blackmailed. Or maybe I got tired of taking that sniveling, liberal !@#$'s orders, forced the issue, and killed him after he fired me. There's a million different theories. Pick one."
"I don't buy any of them," she says, aiming the gun at his face and turning it on. It whines strangely and lights up with alternating green and orange lights.
"Then what do you think?"
"I think it's a good thing no one's listening into our conversation right now, (REDACTED)," she says, smiling as she pats the gun: "So you could tell me what's going on, right?"
He looks at her for a moment, and just smiles. She sighs, and smiles back, nodding.
Then he reaches forward, faster than anyone can see, and slugs her in the temple. She goes down unconscious, falling to the road in a graceless heap.
He grabs the weapon she was going to use on him and fires it at the Agents down the way. A scattered, wide, chattering beam of green and orange light shoots out the business end, and every single Agent who gets hit with it falls over, twitching and moaning as they drop.
"Hmmm," he notes: "They finally got this !@#$er working, huh?"
Another salvo of flechettes head his way. This time they're not trying to herd him -- they're trying to !@#$ing kill him. Fair enough, but they're going to have to get a bead on him, first.
He hits a few buttons on the gun and slings it over his shoulder. Then he grabs Mrs. Liberty and flings her back down the street, towards the Agents he just knocked out.
Then he runs into a nearby store, which he's used a couple times since he's been down here. It's the world-famous Peppers of Key West, which boasts an impressive collection of hot sauces from all around the world.
A COMPANY Agent in plainclothes is inside, by the door, keeping employees and customers unlucky enough to have been out today inside, where it's presumably safe. SPYGOD does not recognize him, and therefore does not feel the least bit bad when he clocks him so hard his jaw breaks into at least four pieces. His teeth hit the ground just before he does.
"If you have asthma, you need to !@#$ing leave, now," SPYGOD announces, going for the locked vault on the wall. The one where they keep the "weapons grade" hot sauces: stuff too noxiously powerful -- and ridiculously expensive -- to have out on the floor.
"Sir, please!" one of the staff protests: "That bottle's sixteen million Scoville Units! We'll have to evacuate the entire block!"
"Well, better start running, then?" SPYGOD says, smashing the glass and grabbing the tall, sinister looking bottle. He grins like a mad bomber, and the guests and staff run like !@#$ out the back.
The gun has been ticking towards a nasty explosion since he changed the power differentials, and is just about to blow. He can hear the shooters converging on his position, and picks up the scrambled chatter between them. They have no orders to let him live, now.
He drops the bottle into the barrel of the gun. Then he wads it shut with some packing material. Then he heaves it towards the front of the store, and, holding his breath, ducks down behind the counter.
Putting his hands over his eyes, nose, and mouth, he sends a signal to the support. NOW.
Then the explosion happens, and the world goes sideways.
* * *Whisper is slinking along Bahama St. -- parallel to Duval, one block Northeast -- when she hears the first volley of loud shots along where SPYGOD was running. She ducks behind a tree and waits to see who reacts and who doesn't. Everyone seems to be stunned and shocked, so she figures she's out of the kill zone, at last.
She doesn't get careless, though. She freezes for a time, pretending to be one with the tree she's ducked behind. And when she starts moving again, she stays low and slinky.
Sloppy Joes was an adventure. Plainclothes Agents were waiting for them, and weren't shy about letting her know they'd been expecting her. Fortunately for her, when they followed her into the back, she had lots of things available to use as improvised weapons; fortunately for them, they were all non-lethal.
(SPYGOD did say no killing. And, after what happened to Gosheven, she was of no mind to cross him.)
After that, it was out the ceiling through the ductwork in the kitchen, over the rooftops, past the snipers, down a tree, and then onto the street. She'd been moving quietly since then, trying to avoid any detection whatsoever, and apparently succeeding.
Still, no cockiness. No hurry, either. Just one foot in front of the other like the entire world was !@#$ing mined. One foot in front of the other-
"You know, that is really impressive," a fellow decides to inform her, just as he loops an arm around her neck and puts a knife up to her eye: "I had no idea you were this good. I should have asked double my normal fee."
She says nothing, taking stock of the situation. She does not know this person, but he seems to know her. He's also not dressed for this kind of work -- a long, green greatcoat? WTF? -- and not well muscled or stocky, but with a strong grip.
A Strategic Talent, probably. Just her !@#$ing luck.
"See, there's two kinds of infiltration artists," the guy goes on: "The ones who think they're good, and the ones who are. And you are good, Whisper. You're very good. But not as good as me."
She still says nothing. There's ten ways she can maim him from this angle, and three ways to kill him, but each way will require her to sacrifice her eye.
It's a choice no sniper wants to make, and he obviously knows this.
"So let me explain what's going to happen, here," he says: "You and I are going to wait right here. The COMPANY is homing in on my signal and sending over Agents. You'll go with them, and... well, whatever happens after that point isn't my concern. I'm getting paid not to care, you understand-"
Then the explosion happens.
He tenses for just a second. She doesn't. Before he can come to grips with the change in situation, she's already moving to block his knife and turn the game around.
She decides on a quick elbow to the ribcage, right at the center of things. If you do it fast and hard enough, the cartilage can be rammed into the heart. Even if that doesn't kill your opponent, it'll puncture the pleural sac, and cause all kinds of pain, discomfort, and possible life-threatening conditions.
It's a special way to say "!@#$ you," she finds.
Unfortunately, his ribcage is made of sterner stuff. She doesn't quite break her elbow, but the pain and shock carry her forward, allowing her to turn around and get a better look at the man who threatened her eye.
"You?" she asks, remembering him from a few Interpol circulars. Long, straight black hair. Poisonous green eyes. Hooked nose.
"Me," he replies, tossing the knife from hand to hand: "And you know what? !@#$ my fee. I think I'm just going to kill you."
Whisper smiles and puts up her fists, ready to make him eat those words. But then she registers surprise at his surprise as his knife vanishes from his hand.
"I think there will be no killing today," Chinmoku announces, stepping out from behind the man: "Not from you, at least."
The man twists and goes to pull out another knife. Chinmoku reaches out with his hand and passes it through the man's chest and out the other side, as though he was not there. The assassin gasps, turns white, and falls down, mouth opening and closing like a dying goldfish.
"He will recover, in time," Chinmoku says, walking slowly and calmly away from him.
"What the !@#$ did you do?" Whisper asks, astounded.
"I showed him... the truth. It is not a thing to be taken lightly."
"Was that Hungry Ghost Kung Fu?” Whisper asks, astonished.
“No,” Chinmoku says, smiling slightly: “It is one of the many techniques they taught me, but it is not the technique, itself.”
“This is one of those things I just shouldn’t ask, isn’t it?” She says, and takes his continuing to smile as an affirmative.
“We should hurry to the other side of the island, as he suggested,” Chinmoku says: “Your would-be killer will face his demons. Hopefully he will learn something from them.”
“And if not?”
“Then when next he comes after you, he will be truly terrible to encounter.”
“!@#$ing great,” Whisper says, and, with her companion in crime by her side, decides to abandon stealth in favor of speed.
Not the safest play in the book by any means, but it’ll work for now.
* * *
SPYGOD holds his breath for a full ten minutes. When his skin doesn't sting so much, he opens his eyes, ever so carefully, and, not being blinded, decides to take a breath. When he doesn't fall over gasping for air, and decides the hot sauce has dispersed enough, and gets up from behind the counter.
The street outside is littered with Agents, all of whom are gasping and wheezing, even through their gas masks. He can only imagine that their eyes are screwed shut in pain, too.
He picks up one of the flechette guns from a stricken Agent. Hefting it, and checking its weight, he comes to a nasty conclusion. It almost makes him rescind his own order, but he decides mercy would be a good thing, in spite of it all.
Instead, he grabs three, along with as many ammunition packs as he can get his hands on. You never know when they might come in handy...
Right about then, the cloak on his support drops. There is the rushing sound of alien engines, directly above him, and he smiles and waves as Lady Gilda appears, a cat wearing flight goggles at her controls.
"About !@#$ing time, Bee-Bee," he says, running up the Nazi UFO's waiting gangplank to get on board.
"Potselui mou zhopy," the cat hisses as SPYGOD takes over the driver's seat, going to cuddle with her beloved AK-47 now that she's done her job.
By the time she's fallen asleep, SPYGOD has already flown over to the chosen rendezvous point and collected Whisper and Chinmoku. She's about to complain about her lost luggage when he adjusts course for the house on Emma St.
"I got enough non-lethal ordinance on this ship to take care of most of the Agents," he explains: "But we may still have a fight on our hands. Hope you're up for it."
Chinmoku just smiles: "I am afraid you will be both positively and negatively surprised by what we find at your home."
"The ghosts have multiplied."
"Oh... oh !@#$," SPYGOD hisses, and steps on the gas.
Sure enough, the house is a charnel mess. When they land, it's to hover above a back yard filled with the dead: scores of Agents sliced into dozens of pieces apiece, some of which are still warm and twitching.
SPYGOD stomps down the gangplank and right into his house, clearly unhappy. What's inside it doesn't make him feel much better about things. The floor is simply littered with bodies, strewn with guts, and soaked in blood. They're stacked like cordwood in some areas, where they fell against some horrible, relentless foe.
Dr. Krwi is by the stairwell, standing watch over Ernest. He's as white as a sheet and popping heart medication, his hands shaking as he tries to get the pills into his mouth.
"I am so sorry," the man stammers: "I tried to keep your orders. I did. But..."
SPYGOD just nods, knowing what must have happened: "Where is he?"
"Not he," Dr. Krwi says: "It. My friend, what have you allied us with?"
"You know, I love what you've done with the place," Gilligan says, sauntering in from the dining room, kicking someone's head in front of him like a grotesque soccerball: "All the earth tones? Very prosaic. But next time you set up shop? I think you should go art deco."
"Just get in the flying saucer, please," SPYGOD says, not really sure what to say, right now, but hoping the man can still !@#$ing obey some orders. Thankfully, he does.
"What is he?" the doctor asks, hoping the man doesn't hear as he leaves the house.
"There's some theological debate about that," SPYGOD replies: "None of it is good."
* * *
The house comes apart very quickly, after that. Dr. Krwi wheels the vampire out, trying to keep him out of direct sunlight. Whisper retrieves everyone else's luggage and supplies. And, just before they head out, Chinmoku kneels down amongst the dead, silently working to send the unquiet ones amongst their number on their way.
He might not be able to grant them absolution or revenge, but at least he can point them in the way they should go.
"This could have gone a lot better," Whisper says to SPYGOD, once they're all on board the UFO and the cloak's been put back up: "What the !@#$ happened down there?"
"We were late getting back to base," SPYGOD says, punching in coordinates and setting course for Cuba: "And while we were dawdling, He came out."
"That's my him he's talking about," Gilligan says from where he sits in the corner, examining his "soccerball": "Sorry about that. I'd say it won't happen again, but... well..."
And there is silence in the Lady Gilda, interrupted only by the cat's snoring.
(SPYGOD is listening to Suburbia - The Full Horror (Pet Shop Boys) and hitting the black heroin to stay awake)