Saturday, June 1, 2013

10/15/12 - The Reclamation War - Pt. 15

Some time ago -- what now seems several lifetimes in the past -- when Whisper was just starting down the long battery of tests for the Ladykiller Program, her extremely sadistic initial Instructor looked her right in the eyes and told her, point blank "I am going to fail you, soldier. Leave now and save us the !@#$ing bother."

That rather hefty fellow had told every other person up and down the line the exact same thing. And they'd all either gulped, or shrunk, or tried to argue with him.

Her? She didn't even blink. She just smiled and said "You can try, sir."

That slappy answer got her the mother of all chew-outs, and almost did get her bounced out. But someone put a word in the Instructor's ear that she was to be given another chance, and he obeyed. He did, however, do everything possible to make her quit, or drop out (or dead, after a certain point) -- slowly ratcheting up the challenge to the breaking point, and then beyond, no matter who got hurt.

But nothing worked -- it was as if she got just that much better to match his mean-spirited attempts to shake her off. The same could not be said for the others, however, and before long she was the only candidate left standing.

The Instructor didn't instruct much, after that -- just another casualty in the strange, one-person war this sideways-smiling young woman was intent on waging against the world. And when he conferred with her other teachers, much later -- the ones who'd helped make her the killing machine she would become -- they came to the conclusion that she was only ever as good as the opposition she was up against.

She needed to be up against the wall to overcome it.

That hefty fellow didn't live long enough to see her eventually get bounced from the Army, thanks to a bum ticker that was as sadistic as he was. So he didn't witness how she slipped right into professional mercenary circles, and went on to work for just about every regime in the world -- no matter how black, evil, or nasty their leaders, or the mission. He never saw her partial rehabilitation, under SPYGOD, or how she managed to make that go South, too.

(And he would have been !@#$ amused to see how badly she !@#$ed up, when she got weird, went soft, and stopped seeking challenges.)

But if he could only see her now...

Now, that the world outside her New Jersey hideyhole's window is a massive !@#$ing mess of rampaging Specials, murderous imago, and metal-plated hybrid monsters. Now that wave after wave of the beings that said they were here to save us are teleporting in to do the exact opposite, now that their mighty !@#$ing space cannons are dead and gone. Now that the only things standing in their way are what's left of the police and emergency services, people who wisely kept their guns (and are somehow keeping their wits) and newly-minted superheroes.

Now that she has finally found a supreme challenge to rally against.

Some scared slip of a boy in an ill-fitting, white and blue costume -- who doesn't quite know how to use his telekinesis to keep a Blue and Violet monster from using his eyebeams on a crowd fleeing down a smoking, car-strewn street -- is ever so grateful when the thing's head explodes, and it falls down dead and quivering.

"What's your name, kid?" she asks, striding out from behind rubble with a very large, very long, still-smoking rifle in her hands. Weapons, ammo, and gear are strapped to every free inch of her body, and she's wearing a bandana mask over her nose and mouth -- one emblazoned with the lifesize face of the Queen of Hearts, and folded over so that the playing card's nose and mouth are where Whisper's should be.

"Josh..." he says, clearly in awe of her: "Josh Duchamel... er, I mean Blue Force."

"Blue Force, huh," she says, looking at him, and smiling behind her mask: "You're drafted, kid. I'm going up to the tallest !@#$ building we can find, and then, while I'm putting spent uranium anti-shield slugs into every tinhead I can get an LOS on? You're going to cover my !@#$ and make sure they don't sneak up behind me."

"Okay," he says, looking around at the people they just saved, and then back at her: "Who are you?"

"Red Queen," she chuckles, turning to go: "Move it, soldier. I aint-

* * *

"... gonna take my time," Dr Yesterday sings along with the song he's playing, using the hammer like it was a microphone: "I have all the time in the world..."

"Please," the First Lady says, putting herself between the man and her children as they run to the other side of the large control room: "Please be reasonable."

"To make you mine," he warbles, seriously off-key, and pulls out a small, strange ray gun from his pocket: "It is written in the stars above..."

"I know you're in there somewhere..." she says, and then he shoots her. 

It's a weird, chittering beam of white and green energy, and she feels strange, but not hurt. He just looks at her and then, quickly, marches well to the side of her as he heads for the children, hammer up and ready to swing.

"The gods decree!" he belts out, increasing his step: "You'll be right there by my side..."

"No!" She screams, running after him. But then she realizes what's wrong.

Her first stride towards him is normal, but the second is half of that. The third half of that. And before she knows it, she can hardly move at all. 

"Right next to me..." he says, putting the Zeno Pistol away, and returning his attentions to the two girls, who are backed up into a corner and crying: "You can run... but you cannot hide..."

The First Lady screams, as-

* * *

the main group of well-armed and well-endowed genetically-engineered dwarves prick up their ears, get up from their nasty deprivations on the main floor of the Ice Palace, and wonder what the strange vibration they're hearing is.

"Is earthquake?" one of them asks as the noise gets louder.

"Is reactor?" another asks as the floor starts to rumble.

"Is Nazi science boobytrap?" yet another inquires as the floor cracks and crumbles under their feet.

And then there are screams of panic and whoops of surprise as the entire floor collapses in and around them, disgorging a massive drill tank that literally explodes into the room, right in the center of the giant tile swastika that dominated the room.

As soon as the machine stops moving forward, and the drill starts slowing down, a hatch opens up at the back, and out comes a very old man dressed in a very patriotic -- if ill-fitting -- costume. The surviving dwarfs have just enough time to aim their guns at him before he shouts and runs at them, swatting their bullets out of the air like they were no more than buzzing gnats.

And running down the small beings that shot those bullets as though they were less than that.

Behind Mr. USA comes Skyspear, who teleports herself past a burst of gunfire and then behind the dwarf that fired it, the better to kick in the back of his skull. After that comes well-armed Yanabah, who very quickly walks into the melee, capping off shot after expertly-placed shot with her twin revolvers -- not even flinching at what she's facing, or what she does to them. Then comes Doctor Power, who weakly casts a few quick, minor spells to befuddle their foes, or make them sleep, which is what he'd really like to be doing right now.

And then, last but not least, comes Myron: dressed in his long-abandoned Underman guise, wearing cracked sunglasses, and waving the map they were relying on.

"They're in there!" he shouts, pointing to a large and ominous door at the other end of the long room: "Someone get the !@#$ in there!"

Mr. USA doesn't have to be told twice. He smacks, slaps, and smears his way past a gaggle of dwarves on his way over there, and then crashes down the door like it was a set on a cheap movie. Skyspear follows thereafter -- possibly even beating him -- leaving Yanabah to mop up, and Myron to duck back into his machine and wonder if they've gotten there in-

* * *

time to show these fools what pain their folly has purchased, The Dragon thinks, and wills the Flier's forward weaponry to begin firing at The Dignitary, and the ridiculous, re-purposed Nazi UFO his ex-lover is riding atop.

SPYGOD has just enough time to see that he can actually see the city, and then he can't see it for all the cannons, lasers, missiles, and drones it's shooting at them. 

"Evasive !@#$ing maneuvers!" he shouts to Bee-Bee, but the cat's already ahead of him on that one -- dropping them down to just above the waves. SPYGOD aims his gun at the missiles he can see coming their way, taking great pleasure at blowing them out of the sky, but realizing he's just about out of ammo.

Behind him, he can hear the massive, white robot's shields begin to make noises he's never heard before. He turns to look back, and -- thanks to the Chandra Eye -- he can tell that the Dignitary's shields are holding, but starting to deplete.

"Can you hold out, Mister 10?" he asks, hoping the grumbly bastard doesn't give him one of his taciturn answers that don't really answer anything. But, before he can get even a glimmer of a reply, he realizes he's missed at least one missile that's coming for him, instead, and turns to nail it with his gun.

Sadly, he's just a second too late.

The projectile hits Lady Gilda right in the starboard side, causing a massive explosion and tearing a hole right in her side. SPYGOD shouts and tries to hold on for dear life, only to be flung from the flying saucer as it goes into a swift death spiral -- arcing up into the clouds and off to the South as it goes.

"Bee-Bee!" he shouts as he activates his jetpack, realizing he's lost his nearly-depleted gun to Davy Jones' !@#$ing closet: "Are you okay, you mangy Russian !@#$ball? Answer me!"

There's nothing but the sound of the saucer rattling apart. He can't tell over all the other noises and stimuli if his hard-drinking feline companion is alive, dead, or somewhere in-between.

Schroedinger's !@#$ing Demon Cat, he thinks, scowling, and pulls out a pair of knives. 

Up ahead of him, the Imago are coming down to try and finish what the Fliers' weapons started. He grins and shoots up to meet them in battle.

"Picked the wrong !@#$ing day to be here, you !@#$ing tin-plated alien !@#$s!" he shouts as he hurls himself knives-first onto the skull of the closest one: "Let dirty uncle SPYGOD show you how to-

* * *

die, already!" the Talon shouts, kicking the Special she's been pulverizing for the last minute and a half right in the face-plate. With a squeal and the crashing of glass, it goes down, dropping its gun as it does.

And there are so many more right behind it.

"Can't you do another burst, yet?" The Owl yells at the new New Man, who's quite winded and having to rely on a weapon he's looted from their enemies.

"Not just yet," he says, amazed at how out of breath he actually is: "I'm having a hard time recharging. I've never had this happen before..."

"Get over it, please," Talon says, grabbing the gun from the one she just dropped and dropping a few more of them before ducking behind cover: "We really need what you have, right now."

"Politeness, dear," the Owl chides her protege, moments before kicking the Special coming towards them right back into his fellows: "I'm sure our friend's doing the best he can."

"Believe me, I wish I could get over this," he says, clutching at his chest: "It's like... someone's borrowing my power again?"

The Owl considers what that could mean, and smiles just a little, in spite of-

* * *

everything, Thomas is somehow still alive. But it's up to them to find a way to keep him like that.

Winifred, Mark and the SCOUTS hurtle down seemingly endless corridors and ramps, listening to Wayfinder's instructions as he follows them on the cameras, watching them roll the maimed boy's gurney so fast it's a wonder the wheels haven't flown off yet.

"Up ahead, on the left," they hear him say: "The medical facility's there. I have no idea what half of it does, but there should be a machine that puts people into stasis... whatever that means..."

"I know exactly what it means," one of the SCOUTS says: "We put him in there, and it effectively freezes him. He doesn't get any worse, and that gives us time to get the specialists together to save him."

"Sounds like a !@#$ing winner," Winifred says, getting ready to turn the cart to the left.

"Young lady, I don't mind telling you that your language has deteriorated quite a bit," Mark says.

"Just wait til we've got him stabilized," she says, not really giving a !@#$ right now.

Inside the room they crash into are several clear, plastic pods -- each perched on a high-tech dais. All of them light up as they come into the room, and begin speaking easy to understand directions.

"Put him in, huh?" one of the SCOUTS says: "I bet we couldn't figure that out..."

"Less talking, more hefting," Winifred says, and, after they get the burned stump of a boy alongside the closest pod, they all put their hands under him, and -- one, two, three -- put him into the plastic bubble, and then yank his portable life support machines away.

At first, nothing happens. But then the dais lights up as it begins to read his DNA sequence, and diagnose his many ailments. A strange, fuzzy light suffuses the pod, rising and falling in brightness along with the humming of the machine it's connected to.

And then it says that it has begun uploading...

"No, no," Mark says, reaching over to what looks like the main panel: "We want to put him into stasis. Do you understand? Stasis."

"The order is understood," the machine says in a weird, Douglas Rain kind of voice: "However, it cannot be obeyed."

"What do you !@#$ing mean it can't be obeyed?" Mark shouts: "Obey! Put the boy in stasis!"

"According to protocol A-1, uploading of Thomas Samuels is called for," the computer announces: "This order cannot be countermanded."

"What do they mean by uploading?" one of the SCOUTS says, looking around nervously.

"Just what it !@#$ing sounds like," Winifred says, shoving Mark out of the way and trying to get the computer to obey them: "I will !@#$ing disconnect you and use you as a coffee maker if you don't !@#$ing do what we want!"

"Uploading beginning, now," the computer says. Winifred screams and pounds the controls to no avail. The SCOUTS run around, trying to find something to do that will help.

"Wayfinder, can you do something from where you are?" Mark shouts, looking up at the nearest camera he can find: "This computer's trying to kill him!"

"I'll see what I can do," the old man lies, getting to his feet and turning off the communicator he was using. 

He doesn't want the others to hear this.

"You knew this was coming?" his visitor says, stepping out of the shadows.

"I thought as much," he says: "I know how to find you, so it makes sense you'd come for me. And I've felt you nosing around me for days, now, just like a dog."

"Woof woof," the man says, grinning: "That why you kept your bitch around for so long? Did you figure you were safer that way?"

"No. I know what you'd do to her," the old man says, stepping to the side of the monitor bank: "But I also knew you couldn't resist doing it to me, instead, when I was alone. That way you could leave me for the others to find, and imagine their shock."

"Well... that's pretty much correct, old man," his visitor says, slowly moving to close the distance between them: "You know what I am, I take it?"

"I do, yes."

"Oh, please say it," the man says, holding out his hands in a pleading gesture: "So few people on this sorry world have any idea what I really am-"

"A pile of !@#$ wrapped in human skin that thinks it's a man," Wayfinder says, no longer moving, but fixing the man with a flinty stare: "You're a thing that's best kept in the wet dark under a rock, along with all the other nasty pieces of creation. You're the reason people like me have to come up with bull!@#$ myths and stories to explain to children how the Creator could have thought to make something like you, instead of kind and gentle things. And you're so far gone that nothing I could ever say or do would shame you, or call you to a higher code."

"Oh, I have a higher code," the man replies, pulling out a very long, sharp knife that's been rubbed in what looks and smells like human !@#$: "You just can't see it, you being so debased by what you think are virtues."

"Well, I guess the wasp that lays its eggs in a dead child's belly thinks its a hero, too."

"So, do you know what happens now?"

"I know what you think is going to happen, wasichu," Wayfinder says, pulling out a knife of his own and making ready to fight: "But I guess we'll find out, won't we?"

"I guess we fucking will," the other SPYGOD says, grinning ear-to-ear and charging in for the kill.

And, as they fight -- and one of them dies -- the sounds of Thomas' unstoppable uploading gets louder and louder behind them.

(SPYGOD is listening to A Question of Time (Depeche Mode) and having a Wake Up Dead stout)

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