Friday, July 6, 2012

The Day of The Gorgon - Epilogue pt. 1

- feel like someone's thrown us through a wall, only to pull us back from the pile of broken bricks on the other side and drop our !@#$es right back where we started.

Except that it's not where we started from. It's green, alright, but it's not Alter Earth's !@#$ed-up version of Neo York City. It looks like a woodland setting, somewhere. Trees, hills, a brook that doesn't have the good sense to shut the !@#$ up and let me think.

First things first, I check to see that the President's okay (he is, thank !@#$).

Then I check to see if Simon's anywhere near (he's not, thank !@#$).

And then I see if I got my guns back (I didn't, god!@#$ it).

"Where are we?" The President asks, looking around. I can't say for sure for a second, which really !@#$ing worries me, but after a few moments I'm able to lock on to a GPS satellite, somewhere.

"Mongolia," I find out: "Holy !@#$. He sent us to !@#$ing Mongolia."

"Are you serious?"

"!@#$ straight, Mr. President," I say, pointing off to the horizon: "About 60 miles from Choibalsan, I think."

"You think?"

"Ah, something's !@#$ing wrong with the GPS satellite I was using. It's like it was offline or something. I had to kick it in the !@#$ to get it to work again."

"You can do that?"

I just smile at him: "Can't everyone?"

He sighs, starting to head in the direction I pointed: "Well, as long as we're back on the right Earth, right now I don't care if it's Myanmar."

I smile and follow after, glad to finally have the whiny liberal !@#$er back.

* * *
In case you've never served in the !@#$ing armed forces, or gone on some kind of crazy-!@#$ endurance thing, 60 miles is a long !@#$ing slog, Son.

The good news is that, after a few hours, we finally come across a road that might actually accommodate regular car travel between cities. The bad news is that no one's driving on it, today.

(Or a couple days, come to think of it. The tracks are about as fresh as a Spandau Ballet reunion.)

It goes without saying that the President's not a happy !@#$ing camper. We found water and some decent berries on the way to the road, so at least I'm not adding 'failed to feed the commander in chief' to my long list of official failures. But after everything he's been through over the last month, and everything we put him through over the last few hours, what he really needs right now is to be driven somewhere decent in something relaxing, the better to put himself back together again.

For a moment I wonder what the !@#$ happened to Mr. USA. I decide not to worry about it too much, right now. He may be alive or dead, but either way he's not here, and there's nothing I can do about that.

Me, I'd much rather wonder about what the !@#$'s happened while I've been away.

See, I shouldn't have had to go kick the !@#$ out of a lonely, barely-tended GPS satellite that was on the outs with its !@#$ing company about a year ago, and left to drift back to Earth. I should be getting a million billion different choices for information from the global information network, up above our !@#$ heads. I should be picking up TV shows, satellite radio, chatter from telecommunications satellites, comms from a thousand different sources...

Instead, I got nothing. I can't even !@#$ing pick up !@#$ing defense chatter, which really worries the !@#$ out of me.

Another worry: it's been a few hours, by now, and I have yet to see, much less even hear, a single !@#$ing aircraft. Choibalsan's got a decent airport, so we should have gotten at least one or two takeoffs or landings by now, but the skies are !@#$ing empty.

Did my !@#$ing eye get !@#$ing scrambled while I was over in Alter Earth? Did Simon do something to me when he flung us back to Earth? Did something finally just !@#$ing break?

I don't know for sure, yet. But something tells me I am not going to like the answer when I get it.

* * *

About an hour down the road, I finally hear a !@#$ing motor vehicle coming our way. It's more than a few miles away, and going the wrong direction, but I'm sure I can persuade the driver to turn the !@#$ around. So I have the President get over to the side, out of sight, and do my best "leather damsel in distress."

The truck comes into sight, and right away I can tell that something's wrong. It's fully loaded down with something, but the engine isn't one of those nasty, gas-munching and toxic-waste !@#$ing monstrosities you normally expect to find in this end of Mongolia. It's a machine so clean it's a wonder it runs on anything at all, much less that I even heard it before it was on top of us.

The other thing that's wrong is that no one's driving it. I can see cameras on the front, and a whole bunch of mechanical do-hickeys sitting behind the wheel, where the driver ought to be. So, of course, the !@#$ing thing isn't even slowing down, and it's going about 80 on a road that you really shouldn't be doing more than 40 on because someone might walk out in front of you, or forget how to !@#$ing drive.

And me without a gun! 

!@#$ it. I get alongside it, leap up as soon as the driver's side door comes hurtling by, and open the !@#$ing door. Lucky me, the !@#$ thing's unlocked.

Just as I thought, the machine behind the wheel, while highly advanced, is also extremely removable. So I toss it the !@#$ out, take control of the truck, and carefully turn it the !@#$ around to go pick up the President.

"Well, it ain't Air Force 1, but it's got seats," I say when he hauls himself in. He just sighs and, in a moment of perfect humanity, rifles through the glove compartment for gum or water or something. 

Nothing, of course. But at least we've got wheels and AC, which is a lot more than we had just a few minutes ago. So I gun the motor and head for Choibalsan, hoping we hit someplace along the way that's got bottled water that didn't come out of the !@#$ end of a donkey.

* * *

In addition to seats, AC, and safety belts, we have a god!@#$ radio, too. About ten minutes into the trip I turn it on to try and break the nasty silence the President's insisting in wallowing in. But I don't get !@#$, just static. I flip through every !@#$ing channel about three times just to be sure there's nothing in that static at all, and then turn it the !@#$ off, quite displeased.

"Not quite the rescue you were picturing," the President says, breaking the silence.

"No," I say, sitting up and looking down the road at what I hope is a layover.

"Well, thank you."

"Hey,  I tried, sir-"

"No, really," he says, smiling: "Thank you, (REDACTED). You saved my life back there."

"All in a day's work," I say, not really sure how to handle this kind of gratitude. I've felt it before -- especially the time I saved JFK -- but this time, somehow, it feels different. Maybe because he and I fought so much?

"I can't tell you how... how bad things were," he goes on: "I don't know that they'd make any !@#$ sense at all to you. But I know they were going to keep me there, in that chair, and make me watch everything that happened until I just got too old to keep breathing. And then they'd probably find some way to keep me alive even past that."

"They seem to be pretty !@#$ing adept at that," I say, slowing down a little: "Did the other me say anything to you?"

"I never even saw him. That guy in the weird uniform walked into the Oval Office and grabbed me, and the next thing I know I'm in their version of Washington DC."

"Any worse than ours?"

He shudders, and I decide not to push that one: "Did the weird guy in the uniform say anything to you?" I ask.

"He told me to shut up or he'd... do things with my wife and children," the President says: "After what I saw when we got there, I figured he wasn't kidding. So we didn't really talk, but when we got to that place... whatever it was...."

"The Prosperpinium?"

"Yeah. He handed me over to the guards there and said 'take good care of him, just like we agreed, and your world will be spared.'"

"That sounds pretty !@#$ing dramatic," I say, about to pull into the layover, which, thankfully, has something that looks like a convenience store.

"That's what I thought, too. But something about how he said it, and how they reacted? It seemed pretty legitimate. I think they thought he was actually saving them from something."

"You know, that's interesting," I say: "Juan told me they'd caught apocalypse fever, lately."


"Yeah, HONEYCOMB's Alternaut. We found a !@#$-ton of evidence about their Alter-Earth technology at their Central HIVE. I snowjobbed him into thinking I was them, and he kept me informed about what was going on. That's how I found you, actually."

"Oh? Where is he, now?"

"Let's not talk about that, sir," I say, thinking of what must be left of the poor !@#$er by now, and putting on the brakes as we pull in: "I recommend we find some water. Dehydration's gonna !@#$ us if we're not careful."

* * *

The layover's small little shack has water, alright. But it's free, which creeps me the !@#$ out. 

A new-looking machine dispenses cold bottled water at the touch of a button, and tells us to have a nice day in three different languages. I don't recognize the !@#$ing company name -- Imagoworks? -- and have never seen this brand of water, but I'm so done in I don't give a !@#$.

We chug about three apiece, making sure we're good and hydrated, and look around. There's no sign anyone works at this place. No recent footprints or sign of habitation. Even the bathrooms are !@#$ing immaculate. 

"This is !@#$ing spooky," I remark, walking outside the building and taking a slight reconnoiter around the back. When I get to one of the sides of the building I find that the President has beaten me there, and is staring at the wall in something I'd have to call "total !@#$ing shock."

There's a poster, there, tacked up on the wall. It's been there some time, judging from the wind and rain damage, but it's quite clearly understandable. 

It's a picture of the Vice President that looks a whole !@#$ of a lot like a mugshot. And he looks like he's just had the !@#$ beaten out of him before he posed for the camera.

There's writing on it, and while my Mongolian's a little rusty, I think I understand "enemy" and "the world."

Also "executed," but I don't tell the President that, just yet. 

"What the !@#$ has happened, (REDACTED)?" he asks me: "How long was I away?"

"!@#$ good question," I answer. 

And I know for a !@#$ fact that I am not going to like the !@#$ing answer.

(SPYGOD is listening to Blue Monday (New Order) and having a Chinggis)

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