"Oh, most of the children are in school, right now," the frontseat Zalea Zathros explained, allowing her backseat self to continue making out with Tish: "But we've gotten a few of them up here, just so this can be seen by a suitable representation of the populace."
"You want to go for an all-in-the-family vibe when you try and kill me," SPYGOD snorted, lighting up another cigarette and looking out the window at all the people that had assembled there, in the lot. The eager look on their faces was !@#$ed unnerving.
"That's a rather crude way to put it, but, yes," frontseat Zalea admitted, opening the gull-wing doors on both sides: "If you'd be good enough to exit the vehicle?"
SPYGOD did, making sure to get a good look around as he did. It was a circular lot, fenced in, with some lethargic olive trees along the periphery. From here you could get a good view of things, and that was probably why she'd chosen this.
That and the center spot was probably in the path of several of her heat beams.
He'd figured that was going to be the end of the guided tour she'd been good enough to give him. All the way from Ashdod, she'd been going on and on about all the great things they'd accomplished since she'd revived the nation. All their societal and technological advances, all their plans for the future. All that stock-standard, gloating supervillain bull!@#$.
He hadn't been listening, though. He'd been looking out the world at the transformed cities, and remembering things that had happened there, both to and around him.
They'd passed a cafe where he'd once told Golda Meir's personal secretary to suck the !@#$ from his !@#$hole, over something that was still !@#$ing classified, all these years later. They'd gone by the building that now stood in the spot where Molchanie once ran their strategic talents program, before one of their own people had rendered it uninhabitable by normal humans. The bar where he'd toasted certain HAGANAH agents for catching up to a rather hideous Nazi war criminal in 1969.
(The sad street in Tel Aviv where BUSH had killed Geri and Johan -- the loss still heartbreaking, even after all this time.)
All those times, all that history -- all of it was gone, now, except as minor pieces in the minds of the frankensteined people that now labored to rework and perfect this transformed nation.
And with each mile -- as one Zalea had essentially kissed a mirror right next to him, while another kept talking and talking -- his stomach had become exponentially sour, and he found himself wishing he'd just done what he'd wanted to do, the moment he'd watched Zalea's televised announcement about what she'd done here.
Nuke the whole !@#$ thing from orbit, just to be !@#$ing sure.
* * *
Yes, and that would have helped... how, exactly? the Presence asks him, taking him through the day's events one step at a time: Just scattered their ashes and atoms, again? Sent waves of radiation down onto the neighbors? Made the world just that much more damaged, especially after what the Imago did to it?
SPYGOD tried to talk, but couldn't. It was all he could do to keep breathing, what with his lungs dissolving almost as fast as they could heal.
You see, that's always been your problem, the Presence continued: They say that when all you have in your toolbox is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Well, all you tend to have in your toolbox is weapons. Even that sword you don't use, much, anymore? Imagine all the things you could do with that, if you'd just expand your mind a little.
A sour look from SPYGOD.
Oh, I know. Believe me, I know all the work you've put into the spy game, (REDACTED). All those plots and plans. All those schemes and conspiracies. It's just delicious how much time and trouble you put into making that huge web of cause and effect, and all the little things that happened when one strand or another got pulled on.
But in the end, there's only one thing that can happen with you. One final solution... if you'll excuse the phrase, especially in these circumstances. And that's that, sooner or later, when everything else fails, there's just you, and a gun.
And some poor fellow who walks right into two bullets, right to the eyes.
The presence tapped his obscured peepers for extra effect.
Case in point, what's happened here today, it said, gesturing to the dead and dying: All these poor people. They had no idea what happened to them when they died, and had no way to avoid coming back. And then you come here, today, and all you can bring them is death.
More angry looks, coupled with a few weak coughs as the bloody stream of lung-mush gets even worse.
Well, perhaps, and perhaps not. But you know what they say about shooting guns, (REDACTED). You fire off one just big enough, and it goes around the world and comes right back to hit you.
With that, the presence made a gun of its fingers and thumb: "Bang, you're dead," I think you said?
And what could he possibly say to that?
* * *
"So, how do you plan to keep the rest of the world out?" SPYGOD asked, looking off into the distance, towards Egypt -- seeing the far-off TU troops massed there, waiting.
"The same way we'll be dealing with you," some of the people closer to him replied, holding up their hands. As they did, a heat beam arced from a tall building, striking the ground right in front of one of the TU's hovertanks.
"Well, that's pretty effective," he admits, watching the TU's line move back, quick as it can: "But aren't you worried they'll ask for their people back?"
"What people?" other people asked, holding up compact video cameras -- all trained on him.
"Well, it wasn't just Israelis and Palestinians who were killed here, that day," SPYGOD said, looking around: "Lots of tourists, even then. I'm sure their countries would like their ashes back... however animated they might be-"
"We didn't return them to life," backseat Zalea admits: "Just so we could avoid that little problem, in fact."
"Well, that was !@#$ing smart," SPYGOD admitted, winking at the nearest camera.
"So what did you think of our new society?" the many people there asked as one: "Is it not glorious? Is it not everything we've promised?"
"It's contradictory bull!@#$," SPYGOD pronounced, playing to the cameras: "You claim you're following in Ayn Rand footsteps? That's bull!@#$. As much as I hated that !@#$, I have to give her credit for upholding the individual over the state. But here? There's no individuals. Just one person."
He points to the backseat Zalea as she exits the vehicle after Tish.
"Oh, that's not really fair," she said, coming closer to him and indicating that he should stand in the center of the lot: "We've achieved something unique, here. We've created a true over-mind. Many minds, all operating together, sharing ideas and memories, innovations and inventions..."
"All under your control," he insisted: "That's not in keeping with the idea of the individual being free from force."
"I think you're failing to see the possibilities."
"And I think I've listened to enough of my boyfriend's early Rush LPs to know you're full of !@#$, Zalea," SPYGOD insisted: "But then, most so-called Objectivists are, anyway. I don't know why you'd be any !@#$ing different."
"Well, I guess we can't expect intelligence from someone who gets his information from concept albums."
He just smiled at that, and then looked at Tish: "Well, let's see what I can find out from real !@#$ing life, shall we?"
"How do you propose to do that?" Zalea asked.
"Tish?" SPYGOD asked, turning to look at the reanimated woman.
"Yes?" the woman answered, stepping forward.
"Zalea says you're an individual, and you can think for yourself. Is that right?"
"Then what's your husband's name?" SPYGOD demanded, stepping towards her and staring her in the eyes.
There was a moment of confusion, and then she answered: "Amir-"
"How old are your children?"
"Seven and... and..."
"What are their names?" he asked, watching her grow even more confused: "What's their blood type? What cartoons do they like? When's the last time you were !@#$ing proud of them?"
The woman stammered and looked around, uncertain -- knowing that the memories should be there, but just weren't.
"An individual, huh?" SPYGOD snorted, turning to look at the backseat Zalea: "She can't even !@#$ing remember the name of the man she's had two !@#$ kids with, lady. God only knows what else you lost along the way."
The crowd murmured for a moment, and then all smiled and golf-clapped.
"You keep bringing that point up, SPYGOD," they said in unison: "I fail to see why."
"Because she's not alive," SPYGOD insisted, looking around at the cameras: "You're all dead, all of you. This !@#$ took your DNA and brought you back, and she can !@#$ing slip into you like a hand into a !@#$ glove. But you died that day. Your soul's gone on to someplace else.
"And some !@#$ing !@#$ with a god!@#$ god complex is walking you around so she can have her big !@#$ utopia at last!"
"I think that's enough of that, then," backseat Zalea said, stepping forward: "We've been polite, even to the likes of you, but this is where the hospitality ends."
"I thought I still had three days before I stank like fish?"
"Oh no," Zalea said, putting an arm around Tish and kissing her ear: "All those years in that awful hole, never expecting to leave it? I swore vengeance against you, SPYGOD. And now I'm going to get it, and you're going to take it."
"Really?" he said, smiling: "You don't think I'd come here without a backup plan, do you?"
"What could you possibly do?" She asked, smiling just as wide: "How can you fight a foe made of people? Will you kill all these people, here and now, on camera?"
"Eventually," SPYGOD said, a glowing sword appearing in his right hand: "But first? I'm going to kill you."
"Oh, look," the crowd laughed, pointing in unison to his weapon: "The mighty man, hiding behind his penis extension. Do you think you can chop your way through all of us with that-"
Suddenly, they all stopped talking. Then they all cocked their head to the side, looking askance as they did so.
And then they all looked hurt and helpless, as if something precious had been taken from them by a thief too large to stop, too fast to chase.
"That'll be my TU strike team in Barcelona," SPYGOD announced, holding up the sword: "Next up is Minsk. Then Rio."
"No," they all gasped, and then twitched twice as each pronouncement came true.
"See, I know how this !@#$ing game is played, Zalea," SPYGOD said, his sword suddenly changing its shape -- becoming thicker and shorter: "You'd never have your remote bodies anywhere near something like this, just in case someone called your !@#$ bluff and decided to nuke your nasty !@#$ from orbit. So you'd scatter them far and wide, like always, and normally we'd never be able to find them all without a lot of !@#$ time and work, since the signals are so !@#$ faint.
"But that's when you're running maybe 50 bodies? Not a couple million. You need a lot of signal to make that happen. And while it's still too !@#$ing faint for most things to detect, well..."
He tapped his eye, under his eyepatch: "Let's just say I !@#$ing did."
The crowd got very angry, then -- infuriated tenfold with each new twinge as another hidden body died. Then they twitched one more time, and screamed in utter despair.
"That'd be St. Louis, right near the Arch," SPYGOD surmised, doing something with his shrinking sword: "The last body. You're on your own, here, Zalea. Just you and your meat puppets. All you little !@#$ing Frankensteins."
"We'll tear you apart, you pousti," they all shouted, taking a step forward -- hands raised to do the deed: "And then we'll kill a tenth of us, just to show the world their error."
"I think we can !@#$ing do better than that, Zalea," SPYGOD said, holding up a pair of small, metal canisters -- each no longer than a pop can -- and popping the top on each can.
"What is that?" the clones asked as they stopped, and took half a step back.
"That, Zalea, is what we !@#$ing call 'blowback,'" he replied, scowling: "Remember back in the day, when you needed !@#$ing money for your early operations, after we froze your !@#$ accounts? Remember those weird German !@#$s you met with, and the bio-weapons tech you gave them? The viruses that homed in on specific genetic markers?"
There's a gasp, and then they all held their hands up to their mouths: "You didn't."
"That's just it, Zalea. I didn't. You did. You gave ABWEHR the means to drop viruses on Israel that would kill anyone with any !@#$ing Jewish blood in them. Even the slightest little drop. And you even threw in the !@#$ Arabs, just in case they wanted to scorch the !@#$ing Earth and salt it when they were done.
"Well, maybe you forgot about it, mostly because even those Nazi !@#$s were smart enough to hold off on using them as a final straw. But they !@#$ing kept them, Zalea, just in case. And when we stormed the Ice Palace, last year? I !@#$ing found them. And I took them somewhere safe and hid them, planning to !@#$ing destroy them.
"But, you know, with everything that's !@#$ing happened? I just never got the chance."
"And here they are," he said, holding the opened canisters out, revealing that each one bears German writing, and a bio-hazard symbol interspersed with a swastika: "You've been breathing them in for about a minute, now. They should start working in another minute."
"What?" the crowd said, some of them looking very ill.
"Short version?" SPYGOD said, making guns with his index fingers as he continued to hold onto his deadly cargo: "Bang. You're dead."
And then he laughed -- long and black.
The crowd was no longer leering, nor threatening. All the faces that were of one, menacing expression just a second ago -- as they surrounded SPYGOD where he stood -- now shared one of fear. All those hijacked bodies took a step back, and then another, holding their hands up to their faces.
All of those voices screamed "no" -- many mouths, one mind.
One soul that realized it was about to meet its maker.
SPYGOD dropped the small, metal canisters to the ground. As they pinged and bounced on the concrete, he wondered: how much blood has been spilled over its ownership?
None more than today, he realized, watching as his enemy started to die
He wanted to stop looking as the men, women, and children of an entire nation fell down dying around him, but he could not. He wanted to stop hearing their wet and ragged screams, but his ears betrayed him.
He had to see and hear this because there was no way to tune out or block it. Her could not, and dared not. It was his penance -- his karmic payment having to do such a horrible thing.
For a moment, he thought he was crying. But then he coughed once, then again.
Then he looked at his hand and realized there was blood, there.
"What the !@#$ing !@#$?" tried to say, but it all came out bloody and ragged, pieces of his lungs flying up into his mouth...
* * *
More coughing, more blood. Now maybe some tears to go with it.
Ah, I see. Your grandmother never talked about her. And, given how she was, you never asked her. That makes perfect sense, now, (REDACTED). Just another mystery in a family full of them.
Only now, that mystery is going to kill you, it says, looking away: And just how ironic is that?
It pats SPYGOD on the side of the head, and then leans in to whisper -- But before you die? We have Some secrets of our own, you and I. Big secrets. The kind that change destinies and shake the world.
And I'm going to make sure you live long enough to tell me yours before I show you mine.
(SPYGOD is listening to Pure (Gary Numan) and having... lung junk. Lots and lots of it.)