Friday, March 28, 2014

12/31/12 - All the Faces That I Make and All the Shapes That I Throw - pt 4

10:20 PM

"... and that's about when it all went wrong," Myron is saying, holding Yanabah's water bottle as Randolph stands nearby, rather fascinated by how this conversation has gone.

Not that it's much of a conversation; so much of it has been Myron talking while Yanabah just sits there, mumbling as she comes out of a bad drunk. But he gets the sense she's been listening, through the fug, and comprehending on some level.

"So, near as I can tell, that thing took my creativity," Myron continues, wishing he had a big !@#$ drink to go with this story: "Every time I've been screwed up, or screwed over? I've always thrown myself into some project or another. It's how I process it, or at least how I put it into the back burner until I can process it."

"That would make sense," Randolph interjects: "As long as I've known you, you've been tinkering with one thing or another. I guess you sitting all alone and doing nothing should have been a warning sign."

"Yeah, well, don't feel bad for not coming to help out," Myron says: "And I mean that, Randolph. The COMPANY sent some shrink and the only reason I let him in was because he threatened to have me !@$ing kicked out of my own apartment."

"Not like anyone'd let you into theirs..." Yanabah mumbles, looking up and over.

"It lives!" Randolph says in mock shock.

"Call the media," Myron chuckles.

"Too late," Yanabah sighs, pointing at Randolph.

"I'm off the clock, tonight," the reporter says, smiling weakly: "But I would like to hear more of this story?"

"Yeah, well, what's there to tell?" Myron sighs, handing Yanabah another small glass of water: "As soon as I realized what was wrong... well, as soon as someone made me realize what was wrong, I got up off my !@#$ and did something about it."

"That was the day before Christmas?" Randolph asks.

"It sure was. And I know you were busy."

Randolph coughs: "Yeah, you could say that."

"Weren't the only one," Yanabah says, casting a withering glare at Josie, who's been lurking just inside earshot this entire time.

"So I got back to work, catching up on my pile of projects. And, between that and some better social choices, and a lot of alcohol, I feel a !@#$ of a lot better."

"We got cursed, you dumb !@#$," Yanabah snorts, sipping at the water: "Can't drink your !@#$ way out of that."

"Well, here's the thing," Myron says, leaning in: "The deal was that we lost something precious, right? And that's what was animating that... thing in the White House. Right?"

"Right," Randolph says, nodding as he gets how this works.

"So the moment that thing wasn't in the White House, anymore? The moment SPYGOD did what he did? Where did those somethings go?"

Yanabah blinks -- once, and then twice.

"Then why the !@#$ haven't I felt better?" she asks.

"Same reason I didn't. I'd fallen so !@#$ far down without it that I didn't notice it was back."

 "You know, that makes a lot of sense," Randolph says, nodding: "Kind of like when you put a frog in a pot of water and slowly heat it up?"

The two of them look at him, and he coughs: "Not that I ever did that, but..."

"I think he's got it," Myron says, grinning: "So, all you have to do is figure out what it took, and then go looking for it. It's there, you just have to make it your own, again, somehow."

"You make it sound so !@#$ing easy," Yanabah sighs, spitting some of the water up.

"Well, it isn't. But it sure beats spending the party having to be forced sober."

"Or insulting people you don't know," Randolph adds.

"I know you," Yanabah says, giving him a very cold eye: "My Great-Grandfather told me about you."

"What did he say?"

She just smiles, taking the water out of Myron's hands and leaning back in her chair, perhaps a smidgen less drunk that she was: "Go and ask him."

Josie laughs at that. It's not a good-sounding thing.

"Well, on that note?" Myron says, getting to his feet: "I need to go find Skyspear and tell her what I learned. I'm sure she's stuck in some rut, too."

"Yeah,  well, I think that might be ending," Randolph says, pointing over to some of the other couches, where Mark and Skyspear are clearly not sitting together, anymore. Skyspear's got a hen party going on, and Mark's sitting all by himself, clearly dejected and looking around as if waiting for someone to come in.

"Duty calls," Myron says, looking down at Yanabah: "But you know, I never got a chance to tell you thanks for the Ice Palace. I wasn't in a good place, then, before or after we did that thing. But you came through on so many levels it's not even funny."

"Really?" she asks, just sort of looking up at him.

"Totally. I ever have to gamble the fate of the world on a suicide run into an ex-Supernazi base that's been taken over by aliens? I want you there backing me up."

"Because you secretly like me?"

"No, you're a nasty !@#$," he says, leaning in: "But you're our nasty !@#$. And I'm glad to have you on my side."

"!@#$ you, paleface," she snorts, flipping him the bird. But there's no edge to it, and he smiles, bows theatrically, and walks away.

"Nice guy," Josie says, coming closer: "You could do worse."

"Not my type," Yanabah sighs: "All yours."

"Not mine, either," Josie chuckles, looking at Randolph.

"No comment," he says, putting up his hands and departing the conversation.

"So, we cool?" Josie asks, making sure no one's listening.

"I think so," Yanabah says, not looking up at her: "But just for the record? Next time you !@#$ing toss me into the grinder without telling me what's up first? I will kick your sorry, pink !@#$ into the sky. And then I'll shoot whatever the birds don't eat."

"It's the nature of the grinder, Flower," Josie says, grinning and walking away: "Ought to be used to that by now?"

"!@#$ you," she mutters, glad the water's no longer fighting to come up when she sips it.

She looks around her, then, at the party she's been a stumbling wreck for most of. All the people talking, drinking, dancing, laughing. All the things starting, continuing, and ending.

The whole human drama, unfolding in miniature right in front of her, and she's been too !@#$ed up to handle it.

She remembers when she knew her grandfather / great grandfather / father was dead -- how she just knew he was in pain, then dying, then dead. She remember how all the pieces of her soul handled it, and somehow channeled their rage / grief / acceptance into one direction, and kept going. How she persevered, knowing she'd have time to mourn later, but needed to complete the mission now, or else his death would have been for nothing.

But she also remembers what a waste his funeral was, for her. How she couldn't handle being a part of it. How she stood on the outside of the circle while the rest of his family chanted and prayed.

How she couldn't even set foot in his house, or look at his grave from a distance.

His family -- her family -- had opened up to her. Anything she needed? Done. Anything she wanted? Brought. The People knew how to handle death, tragedy, and grief. They'd been dealing with it in overtime, ever since their lands got overrun, all those years ago.

How had she repaid them? Scorn, fury, and threats. And they got the message !@#$ quick, backed off, and left her alone.

Until she was ready for their help.

"Pride," she says to herself, looking at the water, remembering what Wayfinder told her that one time, after she'd killed and eaten those SQUASH idiots that'd tried to abduct him.

And, remembering that, she resolves to try and find it again, once her head no longer feels like something took a massive !@#$ in it. 

10:48 PM

"Yeah, well, that's how that goes," SPYGOD says, his features distorted slightly over the Nthernaut's projection: "He should have known better than to get involved with one of his own operatives."

"A sensible precaution," Faraj says, his hands behind his back as they converse: "But you must know that, in matters of the heart, not everyone has your... restraint."

"Are you saying I don't feel for my people?"

"Oh no, friend. I know you love them all. But there are many different kinds of love, and sometimes they wear each others' faces. Sometimes we don't know which is which until it's too late."

"Well, that's probably true," SPYGOD says, casting a glance at Straffer as he talks to folks he hasn't seen in far too long: "All the same, as long as I've known Ju-San, he's been mooning over that !@#$ alien robot. And the more he wanted her, the sloppier he got."

"And that's never happened to anyone else, ever," Faraj observes: "Not at all."

SPYGOD looks at him, knowing exactly what he means: "You !@#$ing suck, Faraj."

"I do indeed," the man smiles: "And receive few complaints."

"Question is, what the !@#$ are you going to do about Ju-San?" SPYGOD asks, taking advantage of the Nthernaut's optics to see where the man in question is, all the way across the floor (still dead to the world): "Man's got his !@#$ hands on all the big !@#$ things you're going to need when the !@#$ hits the fan."

"Not anymore," Faraj says, leaning in closer: "I've already made arrangements, in anticipation of this. The Organization is now under the control of the Space Service. Call it our Japanese Branch, if you'd like to. All their weapons and wonders are under our control."

"And Ju-San?"

"Also under our control," Faraj winks: "I think losing his woman and his job will force him into being useful, once more."

"You might want to be really !@#$ing  careful," SPYGOD says, looking back at Faraj: "He might not look it, but that man's !@#$ing dangerous. And that's saying something, coming from me."

"It usually is, but that has also been calculated," Faraj sniffs: "If he goes to his contacts, they will be neutralized. If he tries to take things back, he will be neutralized. And if the Organization doesn't like it, well, they're used to a total turnover every time their leader is dead or deposed. So this will just be business as usual, only instead of the head of the Japanese government deciding on their replacements, it will be me."

"And the President of the Terre Unifee."

"Provided I ask him in time."

SPYGOD just stares at him for a moment, and then smiles: "Man, you are one !@#$ ruthless son of a !@#$, Faraj."

"Would you trust the defense the Earth to anyone else?" Faraj asks, holding out his hand, quite pointedly, for a shake: "I'm not here to make friends and play games, (REDACTED). I'm here to make certain the human race lives to see this time, next year, at least. Any other consideration is secondary."

"And thank !@#$ for that," SPYGOD says, shaking it: "You do what you gotta do, man. I'll back your play."

"Good to know," Faraj says, and then -- sensing that he's hogged enough of the man's valuable face-time --  heads off to go talk to Straffer, who's in-between admirers.

"I hope I am not intruding?" someone asks SPYGOD, and he turns to regard the man: old, tall, and flinty, with a full, silver beard and thinning hair, dressed in a suit sharp enough to cut through steel. Black leather gloves. A wooden cane.

German accent. 

"Do I know you?' SPYGOD asks, a little uncertain.

"Aha! SPYGOD does not know all?" the man chuckles: "We have talked many times over the years, you and I. We just never met face to face, nor did I ever allow you to see mine."

"Jaeger?" SPYGOD says, almost disbelieving: "I thought you'd..."

"Oh, I did," the man says: "Officially. So far as my Government knew, I went down on the first day of the Invasion. The Imago's proxies blew up the building my organization was housed in when they took the Bundesrat."

"I wonder how they !@#$ing knew that?"

"They knew far too much, my friend. That much is clear. And I think this was a lesson I needed to learn. Even after all these years, some things are just never going to be as much of a secret as I'd like them to be."

"So why are you here, then?' SPYGOD asks: "Are you out of the game?"

"Oh no. I think it's time I played a new one," the old man smiles, extending a hand, somewhat carefully: "But before I did, I wanted to meet you face to face, this once."

"Why?" SPYGOD asks, extending a hand to shake the old man's.

"Because, the last time we did this, it was as enemies," he says, shaking it firmly, his eyes closed: "And now I hope we can be friends."

SPYGOD blinks. Twice. Then he gasps and almost takes a step back.

"You...?" he says: "Then... that wasn't...? We weren't?"

"I am still not certain about a great many things," the old man says, holding onto SPYGOD's hand: "Did we dream of that dinner? I never had a chance to ask my colleagues. We separated, not long thereafter."

"And we !@#$ing lost the Major the next day," SPYGOD admits: "And I never really asked my other friend..."

"But if you and I both remember it, then perhaps it was true."

"Perhaps," SPYGOD says, taking a step forward and putting a hand on the man's shoulder: "My god!@#$ contact in Die unsichtbare Direktion. All this !@#$ing time, and I never knew."
"You know you never did tell me what was so funny about our name," the old man says, winking.

"Eh, I don't think it !@#$ing translates well. But this is... wow. Jaeger. Wow."

For a moment they're both at a loss for words. Who hugs whom, first? Who can say, but before long they're embracing and laughing, like long lost friends. 

And maybe they are.

11:04 PM

"No, really, I can eat this," Rakim (sometimes known as Brainman) says, munching on the cheeseball from the somewhat perfunctory table of food, his long beard going up and down as he chews.

"But it's got bacon on it?" Shining Guardsman asks, looking quite out of place in his uniform and helping himself to some pizza slices.

"No, they're Bac-Os," the man explains, pointing them out: "I'd recognize that weird, cornflake-like texture anywhere, brother."


"So, they're not only vegetarian, they're also vegan," Rakim explains: "There's no bacon in them at all. Not even in the flavoring. They're Halal, Kosher, you name it."

"That's crazy," Shining Guardsman says, shaking his head: "Learn something new every day."

"Well, you can't say this party hasn't been educational," Blastman says, walking up and drilling Rakim with a stare.

"Cheeseball?" the man asks, gesturing to the badly-mangled snack food as the Guardsman decides to take his pizza and flee.

"Yes, you are," the hero says, scowling as he walks away.

"Hmmm," Rakim says, and has some more, wondering how long he'll need to ignore this stupid !@#$ before his former arch-enemy realizes what Rakim figured out a long time ago.

(A long time, he figures -- Blastman was never too bright)

"Anything good over here?" someone asks him. He turns to look at a lovely young lady, dressed in a red and white dress uniform.
"Oh, we've got everything," he says, gesturing to the table: "I was just explaining the virtues of this lovely cheese and bac-o ball, here, but I think the audience was more interested in the pizza they brought in."

"Oh, Sal's?" she asks, digging in to get a piece: "They went all out, didn't they?"

"I guess they did."

"Did you try some?" she asks between munches.

"Oh, I can't," he says: "It's got pepperoni."

"Oh, vegetarian?"

"Muslim," he says, smiling.

"Oh, okay," she says, nodding: "Well, you don't mind if I chow down, do you?"

"Of course not," he says: "It'd be a sad and lonely world if I couldn't eat with people who don't share my dietary restrictions."

"Oh, thank God," she says: "I've got some friends who get all up in my face about it."

"Now why would they do that?"

"Oh, I guess I'm hurting their feelings," she shrugs: "People are weird, sometimes."

"Very. I'm Rakim."

"Florence," she says, shaking his hand: "Red Wrecker when I'm on duty."

"Well, I used to be Brainman, but I'm trying to get away from that."

"Oh, you were..." she stops for a moment, and then nods: "You used to be a villain, once?"

"A long time ago, yes. It seems like a long time ago."

"So what changed?" she asks, getting another piece of pizza: "I mean, if you don't mind my asking?"

"Well, believe it or not, it was my hips," he says, smiling weakly: "I know for most people it's prison or a near death experience, but for me it was having my pelvis decide that my criminal lifestyle wasn't worth supporting, anymore."

"Really?" she asks, grabbing a chair and sitting down, and indicating that maybe he should do the same.

"Oh, it's okay. I like standing up, actually. I spent a lot of time sitting around. Still too much time, really."

"So, your hips?"

"Oh yes. They were painful. It hurt to sleep, it hurt to sit, to stand, to walk. It was pain all the time, everywhere. And the worst thing was that all the people who were supposedly my allies? The Legion? They just told me to deal with it myself."

"Didn't you have money?"

"Oh, if only! All my money went into my inventions, my dear. I was what you'd call a gadgeteer. All gizmos and cheap tricks. I had the Brain Computer to help me plan crimes, and all these tools to do them, but all the money went into making bigger and better tools, and fixing the computer every time it broke. Which was often."

"So no money."

"No. No money," he sighs, getting another cheese cracker: "And when I finally did have enough, it was all I had. And there I was, in the worst hospital in the city, dealing with the worst doctors and the worst recovery time. And that meant waiting around for them to be ready for you. Waiting to be healed up. Waiting for therapy. Waiting forever.

"And having all that time to sit around? To realize that all the bad choices you made brought you to a small, concrete room with bad curtains, and a succession of roommates you don't like who just wants to talk about all the petty things he's going to do when he gets back out? That's a punishment in and of itself. Worse than prison, really."

"So I realized, after they finally let me out, that this was one of those moments that I had to learn something from. And I did, I think. I decided to better myself, somehow, and for me that meant Embracing Islam."

"And then everything got better?" she asks, winking.

"No. I was still poor and living out of my secret lair with all my broken toys, but at least I had spiritual peace again," he says, smiling: "And then Mr. USA had to come bang on my door and get me back in the game, however reluctantly."

"And now you're a hero?"

"Well, I'm trying," he says, noticing that Blastman is still glaring at them from across the party: "I guess I'm as much of a hero as others are going to let me be."

She nods: "I think I'll let you be a hero," she says, somewhat sagely.


"Totally. A lot of the people I came up with, in this hero program? They went over to the other side on Christmas. Now I'm running with people I don't even know, half the time. No one's sure of anything, anymore."

"Well, neither am I," he admits.

"No, but at least you'll admit it," she says: "And that's a !@#$ of a lot better than some of these jerks in here."

"If I still drank, I'd drink to that," he says, grinning.

"Well, they won't let me drink, yet," she sighs: "But when I do? I'll have one for you."

And they shake on that -- fast friends in the making.

(Much to the chagrin of one onlooker, at least)

(SPYGOD is listening to Coming Up (The Cure) and having an Arrogant Bastard)

No comments:

Post a Comment