Saturday, April 6, 2013

10/14/12 - Something Could Change - Pt. 3

It's late at "night" on the Moon, and in a small room no one knows survived 3/15, five people have come to see which one of them has to die.

"Look, I'm just not sure we should be doing this," Marcus says, looking across the table at the four other Alpha Base Seven officers involved in this tiny but deadly conspiracy: "Surely we can make him see reason?"

"Have you talked to him, lately?" Tate asks, putting his hands down on the table: "Reason and that cyborg don't !@#$ing go together, mate. He's Ahab after the bloody white whale, and we're the !@#$ing Pequod."

"He's not reachable, anymore, if he ever was," their commander, Barbara, says, holding onto the cut straws she brought up from the makeshift cafeteria: "And if we don't stop him, he will turn that thing on. And then we're doomed."

"I just think there's a better way," Marcus sighs: "There has to be."

"There isn't," Clifton says, putting his hand on Marcus' shoulder: "Now I know how you feel. I think we all do. You're a doctor. You save lives. But this man is threatening all our lives. If he was an infection in a person's body you wouldn't think twice about cutting him out."

"Infections don't have souls-"

"Then look at it as a tactical decision," Prentice says, leaning forward and breaking his silence: "One man dead for all of us, versus all of us dead for one man.  I don't think you can disregard the logic in that choice."

The doctor looks at his commander, and then the other men he's worked with for years. He nods, and puts his hand out, not looking anyone in the eye.

The others also put their hands out, and she nods. She shows everyone the straws, quickly, and then, after making a fist and arranging them evenly, holds them out to everyone -- all lined up in a row.

Clifton pulls first. He wonders if anyone will be able to keep the computers going when he's dead. The straw seems of medium length, though, so he thinks he's safe.

Marcus pulls next. Of course, he gets what has to be the longest one. And that means he'll just have to be !@#$ed for being a part of this, instead of being doubly !@#$ed for being the one to do it. 

Tate pulls after that. It's short -- way too short. For a moment he feels fear, but then realizes he's been living in fear since 3/15. This would be an end to that fear, and so he embraces it.

Barbara looks at Prentice as he pulls. He doesn't meet her gaze, but he knows what she's thinking. He always has, and that's why he picks the one he does.

She looks at what he's pulled. It's so short it practically falls out of her fist the moment he touches it. She didn't want there to be any mistakes or misunderstandings.

"I think you don't need to show us yours," he says, smiling and holding the straw aloft.

"Then you'll do it?" she asks, even though she doesn't need to.

"I'll do it, then," he says, closing his hand around the object that's doomed him: "I'll kill Director Straffer and destroy the machine before he can turn it on."

"Then I'll get the device ready," Tate says, getting up and leaving so no one can see the expression on his face.  The two others who were spared leave shortly thereafter, leaving the commander and her weapon alone.

She doesn't know what to say to him, so she just takes his hands in hers.

He knows what to say to her, but doesn't need to -- it's all in his eyes.

And when he kisses her -- like he's wanted to do since they met, all those years ago -- she not only allows it but fully reciprocates. 

And everything that happens after that goes exactly like he imagined.

Just like he planned.

* * *

The naked woman crawls across the white tile floor of her luxury Taipei apartment, leaving a trail of blood and noxious, bubbling fluids behind her.

"If you're hearing this, lover, then you did what I thought you would," a familiar voice says, playing from some hidden source: "Which is to say, you didn't do a certain something. And, having not done so, I didn't warn you to not do the one thing you normally do every night around this time."

Geri Yesterday calls his name -- his true name -- panting as her heart races in her chest. She begs him for help, even though she knows he must be a million miles away. And she clasps her hands between her thighs, sickened to feel herself disintegrating beneath them.

"It's not that I don't understand your reasons," the man's voice goes on as she starts losing consciousness: "In fact, I actually agree with them. These allies are damn useless, in the long run. Fucking metal-clad parasites, one and all. I can't stand their thinly-veiled threats and thinner veneer of kindness.

"Their hypocrisy makes me sick."

She cries out, feeling her pelvic bones turning to mush under what's left of her skin.

"But the fact remains that your reasons for betraying them are based more on fear than fact. And if that's true, then your mind isn't worth a damn, anymore. And if that's true, then, well, I had my orders. Just like you did, I'm sure."

One of her legs drops off, then the other. Blood spurts out from the stumps in time with her heart, which is skipping beats as the poison she unwittingly ingested through her vagina begins to melt that organ, too.

"Having said that, I don't know what I'm going to do, either," the voice continues as the rot spreads faster and faster: "Should I tell them what I know? Should I warn them what they're going to do?

"I've been watching what's going on, lover. And you wouldn't believe the shit that's about to happen. I actually think they might do it.

"If I let them do it, that is. And I haven't really made up my fucking mind, yet."

She screams. It's half air, half blood. Her lungs collapse from the effort.

"But for what it's worth? It was fun having this world as our big playground, for all these years," the voice continues: "I really hoped we could watch it burn down and fuck each other raw and bloody in the ashes before going home. I wanted to smear our come and blood and shit across the face of the moon, and leave it circling a dead planet, just to say that we could.

"But the mission comes first, lover. And if you're no use to it, you're no use to me.

"So, this is goodbye," the Alter-Earth SPYGOD says, and then the recording stops.

Not long thereafter, so does she.

* * *

"I think that's it," Winifred says, stepping back from the large device she's been working on and putting the circuit testers down.

"You sure?" Mark asks, looking at the thing they've made -- one of six, large and incredibly technical-things, all sitting on tables in the workshop.

"If she says she's sure, she's sure," Myron says, not looking at either of them, though it's hard to tell when he's got those sunglasses on: "And that's good enough for me."

She smiles a little at that. Maybe he sees it, maybe he doesn't.

"Then I guess we're on schedule," Mark says, getting out his communicator and calling in: "Skyspear? Tell the mainland we have the gifts. Ask them if they have the boxes ready."

"I was about to call you, my friend," she replies: "Fred just called to say the boxes were ready, and did we have the gifts?"

"Excellent timing!"

"Alhamdulillah!" she exclaims.

"I didn't catch that?" he asks, walking out into the corridor and leaving Myron and Winifred with the devices -- and each other.

"Oh, I am sorry, my friend. It means 'Praise be to God.'"

"I'll have to remember that," he says, smiling, and turns the communicator off. On the way he sees the Lion, and comes to give him the good news, but stops short when he sees the expression on the man's face.

"Tell me, my friend, have you seen Man of Steel?" the Algerian asks, looking rather concerned.

"No, not really," Mark says: "But he's been avoiding me since he blew up at me, last week. So...?"

"He did not come to morning prayers, today," the Lion says: "Normally, he is the first of us to be there, even before Crocodile. I am wondering if something bad has happened."

"Maybe he wanted to pray by himself?"

"Perhaps, but this seems so unlike him. He was normally so social. Crocodile was particularly worried, and went off to find him. And I haven't heard from him in quite a while, either..."

"Well, it's a big treehouse with a lot of places to hide. Maybe he just went off somewhere to be alone?"

"I think something worse than that. The other day, I saw your Green Man looking at him, when we were having our meal. It was not a pleasant look."

Mark nods: "I understand your concern. But for what it's worth? I don't think he could even hope to harm Man of Steel. They're not even in the same power class."

"Perhaps, my friend. But I have heard some very frightening stories of what that man can do."

"Well, I'll keep an eye out," Mark says, putting a hand on the man's shoulder: "But we've got some gifts to send to the real world, and you've got a war to fight."

"This is true," the man says, putting his hand on Mark's: "Hopefully I will see him at the staging area, then."

"God be with you all," Mark says.

"And with you, my friend," the Lion says, embracing him quickly, and then heading on his way, further into the treehouse, and higher up, onto the floors that they were warned not to go into for fear of their collapse.

One floor up, he finds Green Man, sitting by a window and looking out, as if he were contemplating something. He thinks to say something to the man, but thinks better of it, and turns to go. 

"You know, I think your religion is complete !@#$," the man says, just before the Lion can move away.

"Excuse me?" the Lion says, turning to look back at him.

"Islam. I think it's !@#$. I think the same thing of all religions, really. I don't believe in invisible sky fathers and the like. I never have."

"Perhaps not," the Lion says, fighting the impulse to beat the man for what he just said: "But I know in my heart that my God believes in you."

"I know," the Green Man says, and the Lion can see he's been crying: "And that's what !@#$ing scares me."

"The world is going to be at war, soon," the Lion says, taking a step closer and looking down at the man: "Are you going to fight with us? Are you going to fight for your son?"

"Yes," Green Man says, turning away to look out the window, again: "Yes, I do think I am."

The Lion looks at him for a moment, wondering why he seems to be chuckling at that, and decides to leave him to his strangeness and blasphemy. God will find a use for him, too, here and now or in the hellfire.

Up another floor, he goes through the hatch they've put down to keep the large, prehistoric spiders that have invaded these abandoned, upper floors from coming down. He sees there are footprints here, in the dust and detritus, and a number of smashed arachnids. 

And he knows this is not a good sign. He knows he should go back down and get more of his friends and allies. He knows that there is true danger, here. 

But still he goes forward. Perhaps God wills it. Perhaps it's just his nature.

Three more floors up, on a level that's more spiderweb than wall, he finds the answer to one of his mysteries. Crocodile lies dead on the floor -- his mighty jaws ripped apart, his beautiful voice stilled forever.

"Oh God," the Lion says, stepping back.

"Yes?" a voice asks from right behind him.

The Lion spins around, somehow knowing who he would find. And there he is -- Man of Steel, his metal hands coated with blood, his face fixed with a hideous smile.

"You... how could you..." the Lion stammers, stepping backwards.

"It had to happen" the metal-skinned man asks, holding his hands aloft: "Would have happened sooner, but SPYGOD did not come here. Now he will be made to come. He will want his weapons, and when they do not come to him, he will come to them."

"You are in league with the enemy?" the hero rages: "How could you be? You saw what they did to your own country! Your own people!"

"Care not for them," Man of Steel says, his form rippling and changing: "Never have. Nothing but meat. Destroying Imago necessary to join you. Joining you necessary to join with SPYGOD. Now he will come here. Now he will be destroyed."

"In the name of God-"

"God?" the thing the Lion thought he knew screams as his body unfolds and turns inside out, shiny steel falling away and being replaced by brass, giant horns raised up to the sky: "God is here, meat. There is no God but Moloch.

"And Moloch needs no messenger."

And then there is only the hellfire.

(SPYGOD is listening to Windows (Missing Persons) and having a cold Taiwan Beer)

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