Monday, May 5, 2014

1/1/13 - A Shadow of Life - Pt. 1

The first thing he'd noticed, our man, was that there was no Moon up in the sky.

And yeah, that seems like a !@#$ing funny thing to notice first, given everything else that was waiting for him. All those !@#$ing horrible sights and terrifying sounds. All those sickening odors, coupled with the knowledge of what those ghastly !@#$ smells were.

The brain-!@#$ing understanding that can only come in a moment like that.

(And, yeah, the increasing, big-!@#$-iron-brick-in-the-stomach feeling you tend to get the moment you know that either you've !@#$ed it all up, or someone else has.)

But it actually makes perfect !@#$ sense, given that our man always liked to look up at the sky when he did this. He'd look at the Sun or the Moon, or the clouds or the stars. He'd see where they were, up there, far far from anything on the ground.

And then he'd close his eyes, and smile, and then open them up somewhere else.

Somewhere different, let's say. 

So this time, there had been this bright, beautiful thing up over the cold, December horizon, waxing so full and fat he could make out most of the craters. It was a clear night, and the moonlight on the snow was a !@#$ beautiful thing. So !@#$ beautiful that it was hard to believe it was happening on the same day so much bad and crazy !@#$ had happened.

(Not that he was really all that shocked by it, as we're now learning, one big !@#$ interrogation at a time.)

Our man? He'd looked up at the big !@#$ moon, held out his hands, and closed his eyes. And he'd done that thing that he did so !@#$ well, knowing at least the sky would be the same when he got to where he was !@#$ing going.

That different place he liked to call home, when he wasn't over here, !@#$ing up our !@#$.

But when he'd opened his eyes again, our man, the big !@#$ thing just wasn't there. It was gone, leaving nothing but the cold, distant stars, barely visible from the fast-moving, sickly clouds that were streaking over him like they had somewhere more !@#$ing important to be.

And there was no big !@#$ Moon in the sky because the big !@#$ Moon was no longer there.

It was gone from the sky. Missing from orbit. And if he squinted his eyes just so, he could see that a bright patch, just past those streaking clouds, was a big, jagged piece of it, flying away from the Earth.

Which may or may not have been when his mind gave our man a mercy he really did not !@#$ing deserve and just shut the !@#$ down, sparing him the full realization of what he saw next.

The realization we're all !@#$ing wishing we didn't have to deal with, ourselves. 

* * *

There's a lot of reasons why this is happening right the !@#$ now, son. But by and large (as my beautiful boyfriend tells me) his new friend Disparaître was the key.

He's !@#$ quiet for a Frenchman, that guy. Just doesn't like to talk at all. Not too unpleasant to look at, but not gonna win any !@#$ing awards from the body nazis at the bar. Likes dark blue suits and !@#$ty, cheap cigarettes. Doesn't get !@#$ing drunk with everyone else, either.

Maybe because he's afraid of what might happen if he !@#$ing loses control. 

You see, Disparaître is the best !@#$ing teleporter the Terre Unifee's got in its stable of postwar supers. He was Direction Noir's dirty little secret for decades, going here, there, and !@#$ing everywhere in the blink of an eye, getting !@#$ done on the quiet, and then vanishing before anyone could figure he'd been there. 

And since the Reclamation War, and TU's slow takeover of the rest of the !@#$ world, he's been working for their Space Service, making sure our best !@#$ defense against a certain thing that's !@#$ing coming to kill the !@#$ planet can be anywhere it needs to be. 

And I do !@#$ing mean anywhere, son. 

You see, most teleporters are only able to tekeport within line of sight, or maybe someplace they know. Some of them can even muster up enough !@#$ moxie to take you somewhere they feel they know because they more or less know where it is. Like the !@#$ing Eiffel Tower or something. 

(That's Skyspear, in case you were !@#$ing wondering.)

And some of them? Well, they're good enough to take you someplace they don't know, but they have seen. Show them a !@#$ picture and they'll get you where you need to go. Might take a whole bunch of stops, but they'll get you there, eventually. 

(And that's Anil, in case you were wondering about that.)

But some of them? Well, !@#$, son, you give them coordinates? Show them someone's picture? Give them a general idea? They think for a minute, if that, and then poof, they're there, surprising the !@#$ out of someone, and moving through space in such a way that no one -- not even someone like Wayfinder, rest his soul -- could ever find him?

And that's Disparaître for you, son. Anywhere in a few seconds, with or without company, and totally !@#$ing undetectable. !@#$ useful to have around.

But there's more to his power than he lets on.

See, if Disparaître wanted to go to the !@#$ing moon? He could. He's even done it before, once, when Direction Noir needed to deal with something pretty !@#$ heinous and alien, back in the 90's. All he needed was a !@#$ spacesuit they stole from the ESA, and away he went.

If he wanted to go to Pluto? He could do that, too. Might be a little hairy, and he'd need a better !@#$ing spacesuit, but sure.

And if he wanted to !@#$ing end his life with a !@#$ of a bang, and just walk on the !@#$ Sun...? Well, I guess you can figure that out, huh? 

Like I said, son. Quite a useful guy to have around. 

But there's a reason why Disparaître avoids talking to people, unless he feels he needs to. There's a reason why he doesn't lose control. And there's a reason why he's !@#$ glad most teleporters of Anil's level or higher just don't need to sleep, for one reason or another. Though most folks I know figure it's to keep them from accidentally teleporting themselves someplace dangerous in their dreams. 

And that's because Disparaître can go somewhere else, if he really wants to. 

But he went there once, when he was very young. In fact, that was the first place he ever teleported to, and it drained him so badly it took him three whole days to come back. 

And as for what happened in those three days? Well, it's part of the reason why he's so quiet and reserved, I guess you could say. But it's also the reason why he never teleported again until Direction Noir's scientists found him in a home for mentally disturbed young adults, dragged him the !@#$ out of there, and gave him a choice between a uniform and a lobotomy. 

(And they thought The COMPANY was !@#$ing brutal? Give me a !@#$ break.)

But he took the !@#$ uniform. He became their teleporter. Over time, he even came to appreciate it, as doing something constructive with his talents made some of the rage and pain go away, and helped him to conquer what had been done to him.

He was becoming a survivor, as they like to say these days. And rightfully !@#$ing so.  

A survivor, he served with Direction Noir, until it stopped !@#$ing existing on 3/15. At that point he became part of what would become the Terre Unifee, which has yet to stop existing. And that led to him becoming part of their Space Service, tasked with protecting our world from all external threats. Especially the big !@#$ one that's on its way here.

The thing we call ((UNINTELLIGIBLE CONCEPT))

Which led to him being a part of a post-Christmas meeting with the new President of the Terre Unifee, being the former President of the United States of America. During which time he finally got to meet the new boss for the first !@#$ing time.

Which led to a very frenzied few minutes as the President all but freaked out, and accused poor Disparaître of having once done a very terrible thing. 

* * *

Which terrible thing? 

Well, !@#$ son, you were there. You know what happened to my former Commander in Chief. About a month before GORGON !@#$ing dropped the boom down on the world, they arranged to have him !@#$ing kidnapped, right out of the Oval Office, and zapped over to !@#$ing Alter Earth

And just so we wouldn't look for him, and just to !@#$ with my ability to stop their alien !@#$es, they brought his twin from Alter Earth here, to be shot and killed on live television by my !@#$ing Alter Earth twin.

So eventually, I figure out what the !@#$ happened, and find a way to get my !@#$ over to Alter Earth and save him. And I did, though things got a little !@#$ing weird with the plan, and the complications nearly !@#$ed the greater plan right in the !@#$ behind with a !@#$ing giant robot jackhammer, minus the lube

Eventually, we find out what the big deal was, courtesy of one of the nastiest !@#$ing things I've ever had the displeasure of having to sit in a courtroom with. Turns out the Imago had a deal going with the !@#$ing Alter Earth crowd, courtesy of a rather twisted !@#$ who fooled us all into thinking she was the good twin of the now-dead head of HONEYCOMB, and her bodyguard, who turned out to be my twin. And it all revolves around that thing that's on its way to Earth, here to eat us up like a big !@#$ bag of !@#$ing jellybeans, or whatever. 

See, according to Dark Star, these Alter Earth people had known for quite a long !@#$ time that this thing was on its way. And they also knew that our planet was going to get hit first, about a year and a quarter before them. And since they'd had time to prepare, they had a big !@#$ing machine they wanted to turn on, here, and see if it worked. 

So, it works? Hip !@#$ing hooray, and they'll use it at home. It doesn't? Well, tough !@#$ing !@#$, and they'd get ready to just move their people from there to here after we got all !@#$ed up, wait for the storm on their end to die down, and then either go back or stay here... whichever. 

Got all that?

Now, it goes without saying that the Alter Earth people had their own !@#$ agenda and weren't playing straight with the Imago. And it also goes without saying that the Imago weren't going to just !@#$ing sit around and wait to see if the Alter Earth people's big !@#$ machine worked or not. 

In fact, I don't think the big !@#$ machine even got built on their watch, mostly because I think the machine was just The Chamber, sitting down there in the !@#$ Ice Palace, and waiting for Geri Yesterday to figure out how it worked, and use it to drive the thing off, just like it did a million years ago. Only once the Imago took over, their absorbed version of Doctor Yesterday kind of !@#$ed around and didn't get anywhere figuring it the !@#$ out, and Geri kind of vanished... maybe. 

(Still not !@#$ing sure what all happened there, son, though I'm hoping for more answers, soon.)

But let's do some math, shall we? We got the Alter Earth Geri Yesterday accounted for, and she's probably out there somewhere, being a dangerous !@#$. And we've got my Alter Earth double accounted for, and he's out there, somewhere, no longer able to be me with !@#$ing impunity but still dangerous. 

But to borrow a line from an old movie, what about the third man?

* * *

Oh yes, son. There's a third force in play. Kind of sneaky, too. 

See, on the day the President was supposedly killed, but actually was taken, he was approached by someone in the Oval Office. Someone that even Wayfinder couldn't see, somehow, though he knew I was there... even if it wasn't me.  Someone in a weird uniform no one had ever seen before, and one that a certain former Secret Service Agent named Jess Friend (who had what was, hands-down, the worst first day of any SS Agent ever) just knew was up to no !@#$ing good. 

But then the other me showed up, just in time to make !@#$ing history the worst !@#$ way possible. And then Jess was missing parts. 

So this third guy took the President to Alter Earth, dropped him off to his captors, and then replaced him with his double. Said double gets his head !@#$ing exploded in the Rose Garden, and fools a bunch of people. Anyone who doesn't get fooled gets vanished by the Imago, who've got Men in Black walking around disappearing people who know too !@#$ much before 3/15. 

But here's the real kicker, son. Remember what I said about Alter Earth, and how when people from here go over there, due to some weird science !@#$ery, or a big !@#$ cosmic accident, their double usually shows up over here, at least until the effect wears the !@#$ off?

Well, you'll note how that hasn't been !@#$ing happening in this case. And we know HONEYCOMB figured a way to make it work, though not without a big !@#$ science donut from !@#$. But here's a !@#$ case where another me, and another Gerde Hoffstatler, are walking around on this world without the two of us being flung the !@#$ over there.

(And yeah, Simon Pure was able to get us the !@#$ over there without doing a doubling, which is probably a !@#$ good thing because there's no way I want to unleash the Mr. USA of Alter Earth on us, though that might be a big moot point, now. But I digress...) 

Anyway, what we've learned from all this is that one of the interesting things about superpower-based trips to Alter Earth is that there is no reversal effect. You go over there? Your other does not come here. You take someone over there? Their other does not come here. 

Unless you !@#$ing make them, of course, hence poor Jess Friend's confusion that day in the Oval Office. He couldn't !@#$ing tell how many people were there. First there were three, then two, then four, then two, all with weird spatial distortions that make onlookers a little queasy if their brains aren't !@#$ing wired up right. 

So what about that third man, then? Where did he !@#$ing go after he dropped off the other me and the other head of HONEYCOMB? Where's he !@$#ing been since then? 

Well, son, you want to hide something? You put it right in !@#$ing plain sight, or else hide it along with something else you keep hidden.

* * *

And that's why Disparaître, after figuring out what was going on (with a little help from Faraj, who had some under-the-table help from his former Director) used his power to find someone, anywhere, on himself. 

Which is why a bunch of very powerful people stepped into a rather scummy sex club in Cairo, a couple days back. And when they got there, they immediately collared a very morose person who'd been there, literally drinking nonstop since the day after Christmas.

Because the place runs 24/7,as Faraj well knows. And because that person has a lot of money and can make people who !@#$ wiith him just disappear.

And because that fellow, our man, doesn't need to !@#$ing sleep. 

Our man. The third man. The dimensional teleporter that arranged for the arrival of Alter Earth's science atrocity ambassadors, not long after the War, and attended to the kidnapping and replacement of the President, just under a year ago, and has done who !@#$ing knows what the !@#$ else before and since.

Someone who looks exactly like Disparaître, right down to the DNA... except for a few different scars, a proclivity for sadism, and the fact that there's nothing in his eyes but a flat and terrible blank where there should be a soul. 

And it's not the usual darkness people from Alter Earth tend to have, either. The people who took charge of his !@#$ and remanded him into the TU's expert interrogators say he looks like he's seen the mother of all ghosts. 

And that's just it, son. He !@#$ing has


You'll have to excuse me for a second, now. They're coming back in to talk to the !@#$er and I don't want to miss any of this. Not after all this time.

And not after what he's had to say so far. 

(SPYGOD is listening to In A Dark Place (Gary Numan) and having a Faustian Stout)

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