Monday, October 22, 2012

9/03/12 - 9/08/12 - The Learning Curve - pt. 4

The rest of that morning, and well into the afternoon, there are guns -- one right after the other, like bullets shot in rapid succession.

They start with handguns, of course. 50's first, then 22s, 38s, 44s, and 45s. Revolvers and Semi-Automatics, laser sights and one in the chamber. The President learns to field strip, clean, reassemble, aim, fire, shoot, holster, park, and conceal just about everything worth having on your person.

He handles frangible bullets and flechette rounds, incendiaries and explosive bolts, armor piercing and shrikes. He learns how to correctly poison a bullet, and handle the specialized , armor-piercing rounds that deliver a serious cloud of tear gas when they finally break open.

He also has a go at various bolt action rifles and shotguns, as well as automatic rifles and submachine guns. He's shown the ropes with grenade launchers, rocket launchers, and mortars. He's taught to handle various grenades, both in an offensive and defensive manner, and how to rig them up for demolitions and boobytraps.

(RE: Shotguns. He learns about the seductive horror of dragons breath rounds, and why not to !@#$ing !@#$ with them. At first he wonders if that has more to do with SPYGOD's own personal issues than anything else, but after he melts the barrel of a perfectly good shotgun just to make a target catch on fire, he sees the logic.)

He learns to improvise: how to make a gun work after it's been badly broken, and how to make a zip gun out of a few odds and ends. He makes a silencer out of a two liter pop bottle, as well as a cardboard tube full of cotton and rags. He fills a shotgun with rock salt, and learns the positives and pitfalls of gyro-jet ammunition.

At some point, maybe mid-afternoon, he asks a sensible question: "Why don't you have a gatling gun?"

"A gatling gun? What the !@#$ for?" SPYGOD snorts, aiming his AK-47 at a large, fragile rock they've been turning to powder since this morning: "They're impossible to carry into battle unless you a !@#$ing enhancile."

"A what?"

"Oh, yeah, you never signed off on any, did you? That was more your predecessor's style."

"I think I read about it," the President says, taking the hot gun from his instructor and getting ready to put a fresh magazine in: "Combat bionics, right? War cyborgs?"

"Got it in one. Well, it sounds !@#$ing great, until you remember that they always go for the lowest !@#$ing bidder in the Armed Forces. We get to try out the sweet stuff on willing subjects, but they're still turning good, hurt soldiers into !@#$ed up battle-borgs with no sense of aesthetics."

"I think I really did miss that memo," the President says, aiming and capping off a decent, tight burst of shots: "So gatling guns are only for enhanciles? What was that thing they were using in that one movie? The one where the former Governor of California's hunting the space monster in the jungle?"

"Oh, you mean a mini-gun?" SPYGOD says: "!@#$ that !@#$, Mr. President. Those things are !@#$ing worthless."


SPYGOD shoots him a nasty look: "Yes, really. You think I'd blow smoke up your !@#$ about that?"


SPYGOD thwacks him in two places on the wrist, faster than he can see, and quickly and effortlessly takes the weapon from him: "They're great on vehicles or on a tripod in a fixed location, but you'd need to be a massive steroid junkie ex-wrestler on all kinds of crazy speed to try and carry it around. And if you try to take it into an actual mobile firefight you are !@#$ing dead."

"So that was just Hollywood magic, huh?" the President says, massaging his thwacked wrist.

"!@#$ straight, Mr. President. They're heavy, bulky, and make too much !@#$ noise. And while they get a lot of firepower in one area, they make the user the number one target of any sniper or smart gunslinger on the field. You use one of those, you're just saying 'Hey, here I am! Shoot me in the !@#$ing eyeball!'"

"Good to know. So no flamethrowers, either, for the exact same reason."

"That's good," SPYGOD says, somewhat admiringly, as he reloads the weapon with an extra long magazine: "Applied knowledge. I like that."

"Good to know that, too."

"Of course, if I shoot your ammo for your minigun, you won't go up in flames like a !@#$ing human barbecue, or explode all over your friends and allies. Flamethrowers should only be used in non-hot zones, when you need to clear jungle or junk and no one's !@#$ing shooting at you. Some feel otherwise, but they can suck my !@#$ing !@#$."

With that, he empties the magazine in a specific pattern. The rock now says "!@#$ you."

"Let's go shoot something for lunch," he says: "You get to eat what you kill."

"Sounds great to me," the President says, wondering if now's a good time to ask about Israel, or not.

* * *

It's a chilly, September night in Queens, and two goodfellas are breaking the law. 

"Man, I don't think this is a good idea," the fat guy in the running suit says, looking up and down the alley as his partner loads the van.

"Why, because a' those faggy Imago?" his short, better-dressed partner snorts: "!@#$ them, Sal. !@#$ them in the ear."

"You shouldn't say those things, Don," the fat guy whimpers, looking up at the sky, now.

"Why is that, Sal? Tell me why that is, huh?"

"Well, they're listening-"

Sal gets backhanded: "!@#$ing idiot. We got no video cameras in this alley, now do we?"

"No..." Sal says, holding the side of his stinging face.

"No, we don't. So load up this van here, in this place, where there's no !@#$ing cameras, and we act all normal on the road. And then we drive someplace else where there's no !@#$ing cameras, and we offload the van. And then we get the money, and we come back here, and no one !@#$ing notices. Just like every other !@#$ing time we've done this since March, right?"

"Yeah, but... they say he's back."

"He? Who's he?"

"You know..." Sal says, looking askance, as though he were talking about someone very dangerous who was just across the bar from them: "Him."

"Him who?"

"Him." Sal insists, about ready to !@#$ himself.

"Oh, !@#$ you, Sal," Don sighs, putting the last package in the van and slamming the door: "He's dead."

"How do you know he's dead?"

"He's one a' them superheroes, isn't he?" Don reasons aloud, tossing Sal the keys to the van and walking around to the passengers' side: "So he's dead."

"But how do you know that?"

"Oh please. I got !@#$ing sources, Sal. When they took over, they asked all a' them fags to come in and testify against the President, and anyone who didn't come in got !@#$ing rounded up. And we never seen any a' 'em again. So me, I say they're !@#$ing dead. And he was one a' them, so he's !@#$ing dead."

"All of them?" Sal says, shuddering a little as he gets behind the wheel: "That's terrible. Some of them were okay."

"Eh, good !@#$ing riddance, I say. They were !@#$ing bad for business."

Don clicks his safety belt. Sal does the same and starts the van. Then he turns on his headlights, and sees that someone is standing right in front of their van.

Someone with a black ace of spades for a face, two Uzis, and a smile like crazy tiger.

They don't have time to scream, so his guns do it for them. And they they're just meat in the shape of people, soon to be burned husks as soon as he lights their cargo on fire and leaves it to burn.

By the time the police arrive, he's long gone. By the time the Imago show up to ask questions of the police, he's well outside of their reach.

And all they have to go on is an Ace of Spades stuck to the wall -- one with a grinning, white skull and crossbones in its center.

It's his way of saying he's back, apparently. And after it transpires that ten other slayings went on throughout Neo York City, that night, all marked with a death card, with none of them caught on camera, it's fair to say that he's better than ever.

* * *

"I shouldn't be learning this fast," the President says, that night, as they sit around the campfire and drink their tea.

"Why the !@#$ not?" SPYGOD asks: "You think our enemies are going to give you time to learn?"

"No, not that," he says, taking another sip: "I should be learning this quickly. But... I think by now I know how my brain works, and my limits. I kind of melted my brain when I was a kid, you know-"

"You wouldn't be the first President who did that," SPYGOD chuckles.

"Well, no. But I did some real damage, back then. It took me a few years of being off the puff to get my brain back into shape, and even then I really have to concentrate on what I'm seeing, or reading, or being told in order to get it, you know?"

"You mean the threat of me sneaking up on you and killing your ex-presidential !@#$ if you drop your guard isn't motivation enough?"

"That just scares me, SPYGOD. And yes, that might motivate me, but it doesn't account for how much of this I'm picking up on the first go."

SPYGOD nods, looks up at the stars, and has a sip: "It's the tea."

"The tea?"

SPYGOD hoists his mug: "This fine, black mixture we have been consuming since I handed you your !@#$, the first day we got here, has been laced with the Shapirov formula. And I bet you have no !@#$ing idea what that is, do you?"

"No I don't," the President says: "Which means you're going to tell me, probably at some length."

"!@#$ straight. See, back in the 70's, the Soviets came up with a series of drugs that stimulate neural growth. You take the drugs, give them some time to work, and the next thing you learn, you retain flawlessly. Whether you !@#$ing understand it or not's another issue, and who knows if you've got the smarts to apply it. But it's there, in your head, and it's not !@#$ing going away."

"You're kidding me," the President says, looking down into his mug.

"Nope. I swear on my eye, Mr. President. I could teach you non-Euclidean 7-dimensional hypergeometry right now, and you would remember it. But I'd probably have to chase your !@#$ around the desk with a sharpened protractor to get you to properly apply it, knowing your lazy habits."

The President just smirks: "!@#$ you, (REDACTED)."

"!@#$ you, too, Mr. President," SPYGOD replies, hoisting his mug.

"How much is this tea going to !@#$ me up in the long run?"

SPYGOD smiles: "You are learning. Well, the good news is that we're only taking this for this week. After that, I recommend you never touch the stuff again."

"Why not?"

"Well, it's !@#$ effective, non-addictive, and mostly harmless. But the Soviets made the mistake of pumping it into their subjects by the !@#$ing liter to see how much they could learn. Great idea, but there's only so much room inside your noggin for extra brainmeats, and..."


"Well, it's kind of hard to do rocket science when your brains are !@#$ing prolapsing out of your eye sockets."

The President stops drinking his tea.

"The amount you've had is negligible," SPYGOD assures him, waving his hand: "You've probably just made up for the neural matter you choomed away in Hawaii. But, like I said, after this week? Lay the !@#$ off."

"I'll do that," he says, taking a very slow and tentative sip: "Do you always play mad scientists on your students like this?"

"Not all that often," SPYGOD says, downing his mug and pouring some more for himself: "But this is an emergency. We have to get a !@#$ing move on, which means we're going to have to work in tandem, and maybe separately. And if you're going to be out there, with or without me, I want you to be able to !@#$ someone up in .034 seconds with your bare hands. This means we're having to accelerate, which means you get the brain tea."

"And I don't get a say in this?"

"Well, no-"

"Like !@#$," the President says, sitting up looking SPYGOD in the eye: "Don't you ever give me anything without telling me, first."

"Excuse me?"

"No, excuse you. I may not be your boss, but I am your student. And if we're going to be partners on this, I need to be able to trust you."

"You think that's how it works?" SPYGOD snorts: "Do you want to know what all my plans are? Well, guess what, Mr. President. You don't need to know. Because if you get caught, and Imago gets hold  of you, they will take it right out of your !@#$ing brain. And I will not take that chance-"

"Well and good," the President says: "Keep me in the dark on that. That I understand. But drugs? Weird stuff that might turn my sperm radioactive or turn me into the !@#$ Lizard? You tell me, first. I deserve to know if I'm running a medical risk."

"You do?"

"Wouldn't you?" the President insists: "When you were at Camp Rogers, there was a chance that not everyone would survive the pill. But they told you the risks, first. You had the opportunity to walk away. Maybe you'd be hiding in locked and guarded room for the rest of the war, and signing away your entire life on a filing cabinet's worth of secrecy agreements, but you still could have said 'no.'

"You had a choice. You were given that choice. But you just took mine away from me.

"So I'm insisting, (REDACTED), that you give me the exact same courtesy you got, back then. Not asking. Insisting. You do not put anything into my body that runs any kind of long term health risk without telling me. You owe it to me as a person. And if you think so little of me as a person, and can't help but see me as a tool, then you owe it to my wife and my children.

"And you had better not be considering their feelings and futures to be disposable. Because not only is that a slap in the face to everything we're fighting for, but I swear I will beat your !@#$ down for that insult to them. Are we clear?"

SPYGOD opens his mouth, but then closes it. It takes him a moment, and then he nods, and goes to pour the President some tea.

"No more dosing?" the President asks, putting a hand over the mug and looking right into SPYGOD's eye.

"No more dosing," SPYGOD answers, and then the hand is removed, and the tea is poured.

The rest of the night goes without incident or argument. Once in a while, the President even thinks he sees SPYGOD smile, ever so slightly.

But God only knows why. 

(SPYGOD is listening to Personal Jesus (Depeche Mode) and having something from Singlecut Beersmiths, via a time machine)

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