So it's a dreary-!@#$ morning in Beijing, now that we've gotten word of what's happened in LA.
The Imago are making it sound like my allies did this. They're all over the !@#$ing televisions, telling people that "Dangerous Persons" working with the threat from outer !@#$ing space are responsible. The Owl and Talon, in particular, which is just all kinds of !@#$ed up and wrong, considering.
To hear the Imago tell it, the Owl blew up a big !@#$ bomb in Hollywood just to say "!@#$ you, dirty Imago bastards. !@#$ you for trying to save the Earth from certain doom. And !@#$ you for being so noble, so righteous, so good... *sniff*"
Yeah, pass me the !@#$ing tissues, honey. That was no !@#$ bomb. That was a !@#$ing orbital pulse cannon, shot from Deep Ten. The same thing they used on 3/15 to knock the whole world down and make sure they couldn't launch a god!@#$ thing in retaliation.
I'm not entirely sure what the !@#$ my people might have been doing, there. Communication with that side of the pond's been a little spotty since I got back. I have it on good authority that things are under control, and that when I have a plan, they'll be ready to put it into action. But sometimes...
Eh, I don't know. And that's the real problem, here, son -- I don't !@#$ing know.
I'm not in the direct loop with what's going on, here. My intel is !@#$. I get scraps every once in a while from interested parties, and snips and pieces from my !@#$ing drunk of a cat when the worthless ball of fur can bother to put down the vodka and !@#$ing drop me a note.
But the !@#$ satellites are gone, son. The internet is a !@#$ing trap. And while I can hear more than I can understand and see more than I can bear, putting it all together's kind of hard, right now.
I've lost control, son. Power gives you control, and knowledge is power, and right now I don't !@#$ing have it that control because I don't have the power that knowledge gives me. And that !@#$ing scares me, son. You would not believe how much that scares me.
!@#$, it scares me almost as much as !@#$ing time travel does.
Yeah, I figure by now you know why. But you don't understand that unless you really live it. It takes some really specialized and terrible knowledge to understand that, at any given moment, the entire pattern of reality might !@#$ing re-arrange around you like a bad dream because some !@#$head with more tech than sense went back to whatever-whatever BC and shot King Darius in the brains before he could sire Alexander.
And that's fear, son. That's being truly and properly !@#$ing frightened.
Now, some good news on that regard is that it's not nearly as easy to !@#$ things up as you might think.
For one thing, as I think I mentioned, the last time we talked about this, most people who have the knowhow to make a !@#$ing time machine in the first place are generally !@#$ scared to do it, much less use it. And that's because it's a well-documented fact that time travel is more like Quantum Leap than The Terminator, and that even a slight, small jaunt backwards in time is liable to cause all kinds of !@#$ing headaches and changes.
For another thing, you can't just put a time machine together using !@#$ you boosted from a radio shack. It requires some very expensive equipment, along with some rare elements, and you have to have some really crazy expensive tools to put it together. And then you have to !@#$ing power the !@#$ thing, which is an interesting hurdle in itself...
And for yet another thing, you know how we've had !@#$ing legions of psychics and telepaths working in various places, watching for certain things, and heading off certain threats? Well, we've also had chronologically sensitive psychics in place since the 50's, right along with them. They all sit in a room, watching the walls in shifts around the clock, writing down whenever they feel that someone's engaged in a little time-!@#$ing.
(Which happens more often than you'd like to think, but mostly for other reasons, which maybe I'll talk about another !@#$ing time.)
Yeah, son. Back in the day, various governments had whole !@#$ing rooms of Timekeepers employed to monitor the time stream, just to make sure that no one was going to !@#$ up reality from behind. And sometimes they managed to give us plenty of warning, but not always. Sometimes even they didn't have enough time.
And then we were in the !@#$, and it was up to whatever Strategic Talents were !@#$ing available to rush back there and stop whatever the !@#$ was going on... Ah, good times, son. Good times.
Yeah, son, it does sound like I've been thinking about this a lot, doesn't it? Well, no wonder there. After yesterday's bad bit of news from America, the President's been all weepy. And he's been right up my !@#$ with a spoon to try and get me to divulge some brown nugget of hope and cheer, or maybe something that'll make all this go away.
But there's only one thing you'll get if you go up my tailpipe with a spoon, son, and that's !@#$. Or maybe a reacharound if you're looking to make SPYGOD happy, today. But generally speaking, unless you are very well-hung Katooey, and I'm in the mood to catch rather than pitch, there's nothing in my !@#$ but the dark truth.
And that's that when !@#$ like this happens, all you can do is soldier through, and plan for justice, and vengeance, and victory. That and payback.
Massive. !@#$ing. Payback.
Oh, but yeah, let's talk about the President, because it's kind of funny.
You see, he actually asked me if there was any way we could just go back in a machine and stop all this !@#$ from happening. And I was about to smack him upside the head like I was !@#$ing Batman or something, but then I remembered that, for all the training we did, recently, I never told him about certain key facts of life. You know, like everything I just !@#$ing talked about.
(No, son, Presidents don't get told everything when they get into the Oval Office. They do get a folder of certain secrets that they really !@#$ing need to know, now, but everything else stays secret up until it's absolutely needed to know. And how often we've almost been !@#$ed by time traveling terrorists is not something they need to know about, because they !@#$ing have enough to worry about as it is.)
So I sat him down and explained the whole thing to him. I told him that not only would we need to find a time machine, and power the !@#$ thing, but then we'd have to have someone along for the ride who knew exactly what the !@#$ happened, so we'd know what to fix. We'd also have to have people back here in the present, who could be shielded from changes in the time stream, and they'd have to be in constant communication with us, so they could !@#$ing tell us if we were doing it right or not.
And then we'd have to be doing this with the Imago running up our !@#$es, and trying to stop us from doing it, which made the chances of pulling off a successful time-changing really !@#$ing remote. Not to mention the fact that there are other forces at work, out there, who might be even less keen on our !@#$ing around with time and space and all that !@#$.
Now, after I gave him that impassioned speech, which I only had to punctuate with threatened slaps and gun barrels once or twice, he was convinced that he'd been talking out his !@#$, and letting the grief and shock go to his head, and was pretty !@#$ well put off the idea. So I let him go off to have another talk with our new, favorite Harold and hopefully get his !@#$ mind of that whole !@#$ing thing for a while.
But it got me thinking about other times that I've had to go back and fix time with only a quarter of those resources, and more than a few odds against me. And I realized, after a few beers, that we probably could go back in time and stop all this !@#$ from happening, except that we don't have Shift, anymore.
However, having said all of that, I can indeed confirm that there was one time that I managed to fix a massive disruption to the timestream with only a few pieces of reliable intel, a jetpack, and a large, loaded gun.
How did I do that, you ask? Well, that's a funny !@#$ story. Let me set the scene for you, here...
Imagine that it's 1984. Rappin Ronnie is President of the United States of America, and the understanding with the Backers is in full swing. This also means that certain things have been dialed down or swept under the rug, and we're all having to get used to the fact that we've gone from fabulous to frumpy, !@#$ing overnight. The hippies are now yuppies, disco has been replaced by synthpop, and everyone looks and sounds like something off of Miami !@#$ing Vice.
Great times, huh? Well, you don't know the half of it. I dressed flashy and people !@#$ing loved it, and I could shoot someone five hundred !@#$ing times and only have to fill out one lousy piece of paperwork. Car chases were hip, massive destruction was A-OK, and everything could be excused or explained as long as it was done to keep the Russians at bay.
So there I am, driving through New York City in a Lamborghini as pink as a !@#$ing flamingo, wearing sunglasses two times as large as necessary, a pastel blue shirt under a pastel orange jacket, and a skinny black tie that just screamed "!@#$hole on the dance floor."
I've just shot one dumb !@#$ for talking to the Soviets, and terminally inconvenienced some other dumb !@#$ for not talking to them, and I'm on my way to see another dumb !@#$ to see which way he's gonna jump if I ask him if he is or isn't, or will or won't. Or maybe I'm going to go find a ladyboy and get !@#$ing laid. Who can say?
But I get a call from the Heptagon, instead. And this is back when our communicators looked like !@#$ing flip-up cell phones do now, rather than the crazy, big box and an antenna car phones everyone else was !@#$ing using back then, so I wasn't nearly as !@#$ing inconspicuous but still wishing no one could see me actually talking on the !@#$ phone. You never know who might be paying !@#$ing attention.
Case in point, no sooner do I pick up the phone than some !@#$er takes a shot at me. High velocity sniper round, being fired from three skyscrapers away. I hear the shot coming before he's even !@#$ing fired it and swerve to avoid it, but of course that means the poor !@#$hole right behind me is toast.
So I floor the car, hit the ejection seat, and leap up into the jetpack that comes standard in these COMPANY sports cars. By the time I'm airborne the shooter's about half done packing his weapon and getting ready to run, so !@#$ if he isn't surprised to see me up on the rooftop, flying right for him, with a big !@#$ing gun of my own pointed in his direction.
A little while later, we've been properly introduced, and he's going on and on about how Soviets will destroy western capitalism, and we're doomed, and blah blah !@#$ing blah. Turns out he's from SQUASH and can't keep his !@#$ing mouth shut, but doesn't have anything really important or intelligent to say, other than he was supposed to kill my fine gay !@#$.
So I'm about to toss him over the edge of the !@#$ing roof when he finally lets slip why they wanted to try and kill me that night. Apparently, something really !@#$ big was about to go down, that night, and they wanted to get me the !@#$ out of the way before it happened, so I couldn't stop it.
What might that have been? Well, he didn't know. So of course I dropped him over the edge, but right about then I get another !@#$ing call from the Heptagon, as the last one got cut off, and this time they're a little more insistent about my needing to come in. Apparently our Timekeepers are all tearing out their feathered and frosted hair and insisting that something !@#$ing crazy is about to happen to the structure of time, but they don't know what.
"The king is gone" is all they keep saying, in creepy unison like demon kids from a bad horror movie: "The king is gone. The king is gone."
Well, okay, but what does that mean? Is someone going to go back in time and kill a king? If so, who? Charlemagne? Henry VIII? George? Arthur?
Of course, they have !@#$ing idea. But I realize that SQUASH is involved, and they're wanting to destroy Western Civilization, and that leads me to believe that...
Well, okay, I still !@#$ing got nothing. So I call the Flier for a pickup, make sure the NYPD don't ticket or impound my !@#$ car, and start my COMPANY Agents looking into all the people we know who might have access to timejump materials. After a very panicky half hour, they get me a list of three names, all of whom are on the Eastern seaboard, but two of whom are between NYC and DC.
(Of course, I have someone fly down to !@#$ing Georgia to kick in the doors of Professor Chronograph, who, as it turned out, wasn't trying to !@#$ with historical events, that night, but was actually playing Bridge with a fellow nudist couple. One of the ladies had a heart attack and had to be rushed to the hospital, in the nude, and we got !@#$ing sued for half a million dollars. Not our greatest moment.)
I head to DC, and it's a bust. Empty warehouse full of dust, grime, and bad memories of kicking mad scientist !@#$ there about ten years earlier. So I have the Flier take me back to NYC, whereupon I crash into the offices of one Griselda Rodriquez De La Hora, who was notorious for selling high tech weapons and equipment to people we'd really rather weren't in possession of such nasty !@#$.
Is she there? Sort of. Poor woman's dead, and has been for some time. She was shot right through the eyes and left to die. But she managed to do two things before things went black, one of which was to write a series of numbers on the floor in her own blood, and the other was to grab her Bible and clutch it to her chest.
(!@#$ Catholic supervillains. Go !@#$ing figure.)
The numbers I couldn't make sense of, but one of my Agents figured out that it was a phone number. Problem was, it was missing its area code, but after going through a few phone books we figured that there was a really good chance it was in the 917, which led to an office building we'd suspected of being a Soviet front for quite some time.
So she wrote down the phone number of the person she'd been in touch with? Nice touch if it was true, but the last I heard from the Heptagon the Timekeepers were strangling themselves and dying from exhaustion, and that could only mean that the whole !@#$ing world was going to do a dive if we didn't act now. So I leaped out of the !@#$ing office window, jumped onto a jetpack they'd sent out for me, and rocketed over to Astoria as fast as I !@#$ing could.
I get there, and there's lights on in the penthouse. I smash through the penthouse window, and there's some !@#$hole standing over what is clearly a large time-space apparatus, designed to send non-living things, like cameras and probes, back through time and space. There's a large metal box in the machine, and the things' counting down.
The moment I crash through the window, the jerk in the red suit realizes he's !@#$ed and tries to speed up the countdown. I shoot him through the !@#$ing heart and rush over there, just in time to stop what he was doing and turn the !@#$ing thing off. He falls down, gurgling blood and proclaiming the eventual downfall of western decadent capitalism in the face of pure Soviet excellence. Me, I kick his jaw off so he dies quieter.
Right about then, I realize that the room's all lit up like a disco, only it's not. That's what the Chandra Eye shows me when there's a lot of !@#$ing radiation nearby. I also realize that the dumb !@#$ I just killed is burned and scarred from what is clearly radiation damage, as though he'd been sucking on an ingot of P-239 for a couple days.
Sure enough, I open the box and get a nasty blast of radiation. I slam the !@#$ing lid down fast enough to avoid passing out, but as I sit the !@#$ down I realize that the walls of the box were thick lead, the device inside it was clearly a crude nuclear bomb, and I may have just saved somewhere from being !@#$ing obliterated.
I look at the timer and the controls, up there, blinking away. I can't quite make out the coordinates, but the date's reading 0000. I wonder what the !@#$ that means for a second or two, and then the radiation damage is healed up enough to make me realize that I should !@#$ing call it in.
And when I do, and have the Agent on the other end find out where the !@#$ 31 42 11 N 35 11 44 E is. He takes a moment, and gets back to me to tell me it's !@#$ Bethlehem.
Suddenly 0000 makes a whole lot of sense. Especially when they tell me that the surviving Timekeepers aren't going !@#$ing crazy, anymore.
And that, son, is how SPYGOD saved Christmas.
What? You expected something like off of Charlie !@#$ing Brown? Well !@#$ you, son. You just don't know a real Christmas miracle when it stands up and offers you a quickie.
Yeah, get out, kid. Go have a day or something. I need to see if I can get in touch with something that can get me in touch with California, and see if we can't adjust this knowledge power control equation a little more to my liking.
It's all I want for Christmas, son. And !@#$ if Santa isn't going to make with the goods this year...
(SPYGOD is listening to Send me an Angel (Real Life) and having an Old Fezziwig Ale )