Monday, June 6, 2016

Valhallopolis: 5/30/16 - 6/5/16

"Don't Let Them See / Don't Let Them Know / And You Wonder Why"

(Vili, Ve, and Freyja)

(Art by the Lemonade Project)

* * *
* * *

The fall of Moscow took exactly seven days. 

Seven days to kill or enslave approximately 14 million people. Seven days to turn one of the crown jewels of of the old world into a charnel pit. Seven days to reduce a once-great, never-broken city to ruin.

Seven days to turn that city into something entirely different...
The Doom That Came to Moscow - Ilia Likhachyov

Monday: 5/30/16

The morning comes with the crash of thunder and a ring of lightning -- burning brightly just inside the ring the Russian Legion have created around the city.

By the time the Heroes and Russian Soldiers realize what's happening, the city has been bathed in explosive bolts of white, electrical fire. Buildings are scorched, windows blown out. Electrical towers are overloaded, gas mains explode.

The cause of the conflagration isn't too hard to miss, in spite of the distance from the fire base. It's Thor -- floating above the center of the city, holding his tiny, magic hammer high above his head and screaming for the heavens to obey him.

And heaven does not seem to be in a mood to argue.

* * *

"Sir, this really is not necessary," the poor CO of the American side of operations at Incirlik is saying, holding up his hands at the desert-crazed madman who's got what must be ten long, sharp swords pointed right at his face: "I do understand what you're saying."

"No you !@#$ing well do not, son," SPYGOD hisses -- wincing with each step, his skin a maze of cuts and deep bruises: "Not unless you were !@#$ing there with us. And then I'd just kick your damn ass for not !@#$#ing helping-"

"What the good man is trying to say is that we're in a bit of a hurry," the apparently-resurrected -- and amazingly-unhurt -- Senator Ted Cruz says: "That and it might be a good idea to get the whole base up in the air before too long, here."


"The Goddamn Wendigo are coming!" SPYGOD shouts: "Hundreds of the !@#$ers! And they're !@#$ing coming here!"

The CO looks from SPYGOD to the Senator, clearly confused.

"Giant, undead, flesh-eating monsters that turn people into other, giant, undead, flesh-eating monsters," Cruz tries to explain.


"I know, it sounds a little crazy, but-"

"I can't just abandon my post, sir," the CO says, shaking his head: "Not on anyone's say-so-"

"Son, you don't !@#$ing get it," SPYGOD grumbles, making some of the swords vanish so he can point southwest: "We just !@#$ing ran, drove, and flew through hell to get here. And hell is !@#$ing following after. It'll be here by night, and then this base is !@#$ing !@#$ed.

"So are you going to do whatever the !@#$ you need to to protect the lives of your command, a Presidential candidate, and my fine gay ass? Or do I need to beat you the !@#$ down, take the !@#$ over, and do what you won't because you're too goddamn busy asking !@#$ing stupid questions?"

There's a moment of silence, but then...

* * *

... a full ten seconds after the last boom of thunder dies down, the sky above the smoldering city is filled with the image of god.

Three of them, in fact. Vili, stern-faced and commanding. Freyja, long of gaze and mighty of bow.

And before them Ve -- pale and imperious, red of eye and black of lip, with flames licking the inside of his teeth as he addresses Moscow.

"I would say we have your attention, now," Ve declares, holding up his fists as he looks down: "As well we should. For when gods walk amongst you, it is only fitting that we stride above, and you cower below.

"Be of no doubt, men of Moscow. We Aesir are now your masters. So long as we are kept here, you shall be kept alongside us. 

"And we shall rule you as is our right."

With that he holds up his empty fist, and a sword of flame appears there -- burning brighter than the morning Sun.

"From this day forth, your every breath shall be as a gift from us. Your every meal a reward for your subservience. Your very lives dependent upon your obedience. 

"You shall do what we demand, no matter the cost to your house, your safety, or your health. To merely disobey us is to die. And to resist us shall cause even more death, to your family, your friends, your neighbors.

"And death, as you have well seen, is no release from our service..."

He grins at that -- wide and black. 

"We are now your rulers, men of Moscow. You would do well to remember this, in the days ahead, if you would survive to see the age to come..."

* * *

"Of course you're still alive," Myron says, raising an eyebrow as he runs into SPYGOD -- dodging dozens of soldiers as they get ready to bug the hell out: "Why am I not !@#$ing surprised?"

"Because it's !@#$ing me you dumb !@#$," the superspy says, and then gives the former Underman the mother of all manly hugs: "It's good to see you, kid. What's our status?"

"Deep !@#$, sir," Myron admits as he gestures to the back of the American officers' club: "It's just me, Shining Guardsman, and Gosheven left. Mr. Freedom got... um..."

"Recalled, I think," the Native American metamorph says, having a sip from what might be the last big can of Turkish beer he has here: "He sort of vanished."

"And he didn't seem too darn happy about it," Shining Guardsman says: "Kind of like getting called home by your parents."

SPYGOD nods: "Well, that !@#$ing sucks. Could have used him on this."

"What's going on?" Myron asks, turning to look at the pasty-faced fellow his team leader's brought with him: "And... um, isn't he supposed to be dead?"

"Let's just say things aren't always what they seem," Senator Cruz laughs, extending a hand: "SPYGOD's told me all about you all. I have to say, I'm thrilled to meet you."

"Yeah, I'm not," Myron snorts, blowing him off: "Sir, where's Free Fire? We lost telemetry...?"

SPYGOD sighs, reaches into his torn coat pocket, and pulls out the broken face of the orange android: "Looks like he was more damn human than we !@#$ing thought. The Mahdi had a hold over him the whole !@#$ing time, and was using him to spy on us. Then he made him !@#$ing self-destruct."

Everyone else on the team blinks, aghast.

"Yeah, not a great !@#$ing conversation starter," SPYGOD says: "But !@#$ all that !@#$. Myron, we need the Drill Tank squared away and ready for transport. Guardsman, I need you to get ready to !@#$ing kick ass as soon as dusk hits if we're not all off the damn base. Gosheven?"


"You look after the Senator," he says, pointing to the man: "Guard him with your damn life. All thirty-five of 'em."

"Oh I will," the metamorph says, grinning ear to ear and practically leering at his fat ass.

"And none of that happy homo horse!@#$, Rabbit Boy," SPYGOD orders, pointing a long finger: "I don't need a goddamn complaint from his office that you !@#$ing offered him the mother of all rough rides on the way back to the states. I will throw your ass out the damn window over the Atlantic."

"Awwww..." Goshven sighs, downing his beer and going to do as he's told.

"Sir, how bad is the situation?" Myron asks as soon as the Senator's out of the room, and it's just them, Shining Guardsman, and a really bewildered Lt trying to take a crackling, extremely vintage Dokken poster off the far wall.

"Take bad, times by a million, and add on a couple !@#$ing bakers' dozen on goddamn speed while you're at it," SPYGOD says, looking at the southwest corner of the club -- as though he can see through the heavy brick and 80's rock posters: "Come nighttime, this base is !@#$ing dead."

* * *

"And as for you, outside the city," Ve goes on, pointing his flaming sword -- and his burning gaze -- directly at the Russian fire base, overlooking the city: "You think to contain us? You think to control us?

"Well, think again!" he shouts, and brings the sword down in such a way as to slice through one of the taller buildings in the skyline. 

A building that shudders as it passes through, and then catches fire from its midsection...

"You have done nothing, here," he goes on, pointing the sword once more: "Achieved nothing. You have merely delayed our purpose, as was foretold.

"Aye, mortal man. We knew of this day long before you birth. Its very roots and causes were prophesied at the dawn of time. 

"What is this to us? Nothing.

"What are you to us? Less than nothing.

"Your wall of steel and fire will not detain us, for we have a Doom to reckon with. Your heroes and villains will not deter us, for it is known by all that we shall fall elsewhere.

"The Wolf-Time rages, mortal men. The Axe-Time beckons to us. The Shield-Time shall come to pass.

"What can you do but watch as your Gods go forth to die...?

* * *

"Well, that was !@#$ing predictable," SPYGOD mutters, looking at the ruins of the airstrip they were meant to be taking off from.

It had to happen, he supposed. It was one thing to get every damn plane they could up and off, and completely evacuate the base with less than a day remaining, and no real help from Turkey or America. 

So what happens? About 3/4 of the way through the mother of all evacs, some dumb kid !@#$ed up the take-off of one of the big birds -- the kind that can hold three tanks, 500 men, and a goddamn ice cream truck.

And the plane didn't just fail to take off. Oh no, that would have been !@#$ing easy. 

It blew up, less than five feet of the damn ground -- scattering bits of itself all over the place, and leaving a smoldering wreck halfway down the runway, and made a huge hole in the center of it. 

"!@#$ on toast," Myron says, glad his Drill Tank wasn't on board.

"You got that damn right," SPYGOD says, looking at his watch. Two hours to nightfall. !@#$. 

"We have enough ground transport left to get everyone off base," the harried CO says, doing his best to lead with everyone screaming orders and questions into his ear: "But that's splashed our chances of getting you and yours stateside, sir. I'm sorry."

"So am I," the superspy says, looking at Myron: "Plan B."

"Can we outrun what's coming?" Myron asks: "I mean, she's fast, but..."

"Plan B goes well enough, we might not have to outrun a goddamn thing," SPYGOD says, getting ready to call Gosheven in as the last ambulance on base heads for the wreck of the cargo plane: "CO, you're with me. We got some !@#$ to do..."

* * *

"And so you have the truth of things," the giant projection of Ve continues, holding his sword aloft: "This is not even a stalemate, but an annoyance. One we shall bear for the moment. One we shall punish you all for in due course. 

"But I promise you this," he goes on, grinning even wider "What you have just seen me do? I can do again. 

"And should you try to interfere in any way with us, as we wait here for the moment? I will do it again, and to more people than before. 

"So if you would say to love these people, here? Harry us no further. Seek to hinder us no longer. Annoy us not again. 

"For we shall harm them. By the score, the hundred, the thousand. We shall torture them. We shall take of their flesh. We shall devour their spirit. 

"And we shall kill them, too, if only to have more soldiers for the next engagement, foretold..."

The giant's eyes turn to fire, and he nods.

And then, as quickly as they appeared, they are gone -- leaving a stunned audience, and what has to be a terrified city beneath their feet.

"So, my friend," a mostly-healed National Man says to Mr. USA, who stood side-by-side with him through that entire grotesque spectacle: "What shall we do, now?"

And -- for the moment, at least -- the older hero doesn't have a damn thing to say.

Tuesday: 5/31/16

"Wait," the newly-installed Interim President says, holding up a hand: "What do you mean we just blew up Incirlik?"

"A necessary holding action, sir," Josie says -- standing at attention before the imposing, Oval Office desk, still littered with the daily work of the last man to sit there: "SPYGOD determined that the force that was attacking it was of such force that immolating it was the only way to deal with it."

"Well, then," the former Speaker of the House says, raising an eyebrow as he puts his hand down on the messy desktop: "Glad to know I'm playing second fiddle to the almighty COMPANY."

"Sir, with all due respect, this was an emergency," the pink-haired clone says: "If what SPYGOD says he encountered in Aleppo is even partially accurate, then this might have been the best solution. And if he's found who he says he's found there, then surely that's worth it, too."

"Yes, that's another matter entirely," the man says, tapping his fingers -- looking at them, and then back up at her: "Didn't your people say he was dead?"

"We did, yes. And he was-"

"And then his body went missing, while in your custody?"

"Yes. We think some of the AGENTS that were under the Mahdi's command were responsible-"

"You think," the Interim President says.

"We're reasonably sure. Since he went out of contact they've been outing themselves rather spectacularly."

"You could say that," the man says, looking at her as if she just farted in front of him: "It's kind of how I got this job in the first place."

"Yes, sir," Josie says: "Look, sir. I know how this must look-"

"You're fired," the former Speaker of the House says, shaking his head.

"Well, that is your right, sir. But I-"

"Not just you, Josie," he says, holding up a finger -- not looking at her, either: "All the clones in your series, too. I want you all off the Flier, out of the Heptagon, off duty."

"Sir, that's grossly unfair," Josie says, taking a step towards the desk: "My mistakes might be worthy of my dismissal. but we're not a hive mind. I told them what to do, or failed to do so. Their errors reflect on me, as do my own failures. But you can't just-"

"Josie, do you know what this is?" the Interim President says, pointing to one of the phones on his desk.

"Um, it's a telephone, sir," she says: "On your desk. The Lincoln, if I'm not mistaken."

"Gold star for you," he says: "It's a telephone. And if you look at the wall, you'll notice it's not plugged in. Do you know why?"

"You'll have to tell me, sir," she says.

"Because it's been ringing off the hook since I got in here," the man says, running a hand through his short, dark hair: "This crisis, that crisis, some other crisis. We're being attacked by Mars. Moscow has been taken over by gods. Various people in sensitive positions are still trying to sabotage us from within. And other countries are having the same problem, and just barely holding it together.

"And to top it all off? It's an election year. And I have just taken on the most thankless job in the world with only three certainties. You know what they are?"

"I can't imagine, sir."

"One?" he says, holding up a finger: "No one else wanted the job. Two? I have no support from the people because they didn't vote for me. And Three? No matter what I do, I'll go down in history as the guy who got into the Oval Office for less than a damn year because his predecessor, possibly one of the worst people to ever work here, got shot by his own people."

He holds the fingers up, and then puts them down: "So yes, I'm taking a break, today. I'm cleaning house. And if the only thing I can say that I actually did, here and now, is to get you and your clearly-broken sisters out of the COMPANY, so someone more competent can lead it, and someone less dangerous can work it? I'm going to say I had a good day."

Josie looks at him, takes a deep breath, and nods: "For what it's worth, my Second, AGENT Hollingsworth, is extremely competent and capable. He'll do a magnificent job."

"I'm assigning my own, handpicked Director, Josie," the President says, getting up from behind his desk and smiling: "No one you know. Someone I trust. He'll clean house and get the COMPANY back up to speed.

"And if you really want to help? You'll just get out of the way," he says, gesturing to the door: "And my office."

"Alright, then," she says, nodding: "But I'm going to tell you this, here and now. Me and my sisters? We are American citizens, sir. We have the same rights and responsibilities as anyone else. You will not jail us without due process. You will not harass us without reason.

"And if you come after us, just because we were grown in a tank? You'll be going down in history for something a lot worse than what you think."

"What makes you think I'd do that?" the former Speaker asks, clearly mystified.

"You just fired us all for being 'clearly broken,' Mr. Interim President," the clone says, heading for the door: "You might as well complain about lazy Mexicans, dumb black people, and terrorist Muslims while you're at it. If you use the free space in the center of the sheet you can get bigot bingo before lunchtime."

"Now see here-"

"And just for the record?" she says, putting her hand on the doorknob -- and pointedly not looking back at him: "The last man to occupy this office had the strength of will to disobey the most dangerous mind-controller on the planet. It took him a while, but he did it. And from what he told me, he saved the country, maybe even the whole planet. All it cost him was sanity, safety, and then his life.

"And here you are, with ten disasters looming, and everyone coming to the leader of the free world for help.. and you unplugged the goddamn phone."

She's gone before he can say another thing -- head held high, stomping down the hall like she owned it.

"Thank God for unemployment," she mutters as the Secret Service tries to keep up with her.

Wednesday: 6/1/16

Dawn outside Moscow, and -- on the far side of the fire base -- a white-clad figure greets it by sitting lotus style, chanting

- cool as King Mob I am cool as King Mob I am cool as King Mob I am cool as King Mob I am cool as King Mob I am cool as King Mob I am cool as King Mob I am cool as King Mob I am cool as King Mob I am cool as King Mob I am cool as King Mob I am cool as King Mob I am cool as King Mob I am cool as King Mob I am -

 as she meditates upon the Way of Not Killing.

And, given what they're hearing about what's going on in Moscow, that's a concept Dragonfly is going to need a lot of damn help with in the days to come.

* * *

"The first thing the Aesir did, after their announcement to the world, was to get everyone out of their houses, and into the street. 

Men, women, children. The healthy and the infirm. Everyone. 

"Some of them tried to hide. Give them that, at least. They cowered behind sofas or in closets, or tried to get into basements, secret passages, and the like.

"But they knew where to look. A lot of their people used to work for the Russian Mob -- the Bratva -- and they knew where the hiding holes were. 

"As for the rest, the dead can smell the living. That's all that needs to be said on that..."

* * *

"So you are telling me we can do nothing, for now?" the Russian President says -- his face oddly cool in the face of such news.

"For now, Mr. President," National Man says, standing before the man's desk: "But I have every confidence that we will turn this tide and retake Moscow."

"Do you have a plan to do it?" one of the President's many fat-faced advisors asks: "My grandmother lives in that place. God only knows what has happened to her!"

"Dmitri," the President says, shaking his head: "All of us have friends or family there. Panic is beneath us. Let us be calm."

"Yes, of course," the man says, suddenly strangely calm.

"To answer your question, sir, the plan right now is to contain them," National Man admits: "Sooner or later they must make good on their promise to leave. When that happens, the Russian Legion will destroy them."

"One would hope," the Russian President says, looking for a moment all too like his predecessor -- his late mentor, Vladimir Putin: "But we should be ready for anything, given how little we know of their true motives..."

* * *

"Once the people of Moscow were out in the street, the Aesir walked before them. 

"It was a very methodical process. They had one god for so many people. He or she walked before the people in their area, making mental notes of who they encountered, and then walking on without saying a word, or doing anything. 

"It was torture. Those people were left standing for hours while this took place. They couldn't sit down or rest, or else they'd be dragged back up to their feet by the living or the dead. People soiled themselves rather than risk trying to get away to use the bathroom. 

"Those who fainted or collapsed were kicked to death, and then, after reviving, set to work guarding their friends and family..."

* * *

"I can't do it anymore, sir," Specialist Earnest says, weeping as he shakes and shivers in the corner: "I'm sorry... I'm sorry..."

"It's okay," Straffer says, patting the man on the shoulder, and nodding to one of the people nearby to get the man out of the control room.

He's the third person to break down, today. The tenth in three days.

After the first person washed out, he knew there would be more. Once one person has to leave their post, something starts to unravel in the minds of those left behind.

It's like giving someone permission to do the unthinkable -- sooner or later, they will.

He's still got enough people to do this. He knows it. He has the will, the technology.

He has all twenty platforms still working, thanks to the plan to rotate them.

But as he watches the kill zone creep closer and closer to the Moon -- fully 5/6 of the way there, dammit -- he realizes that they may run out of time before he runs out of people.

And after what he's heard about the Interim President, he doesn't have much confidence that the interceptors the man promised to make happen are going to be ready in time.

He may only succeed in keeping it together so they can all die as one...

* * *

"And then, with something that might have been a crackling of thunder, the signal was given.

"All over the city, the dead soldiers of the Aesir turned to those their divine masters had deemed unworthy of life, and hacked them to death in front of everyone. 

"And as they died, they changed, soon to rise and join their killers in taking yet more victims...

"Who died? There seemed no rhyme or reason. Older people were a favored target, but not all the elderly were killed. The infirm and weak were mostly spared, though their uses seemed limited. 

"Some choices were more clear. Criminals and drug addicts, hotheads and drunkards. Police and soldiers were likewise slain, perhaps because they would never truly obey. 

"Only the children were completely spared, but soon it became apparent they had been left untouched for a single, sinister purpose. For they were gathered up, put into waiting buses, and carted off..."

* * *

"Look, forget the Muslim thing. Forget the Mexican thing. Forget all the pandering this candidate does to the xenophobic right, all the knuckle-draggers and disgruntled white men who wonder where their Leave it to Beaver American ran off to. Forget all that nonsense, because it is. 

"Look at the facts, instead.

"Look at the fact that this man has been bankrupt more than he's been solvent. Look at the fact that this man took a wad of inherited money and essentially threw it down a hole. Look at the fact that this man has a habit of tossing money at schemes that don't always pan out, or don't bring home the bacon for very long.

"Look at the fact that this man loves to sue people who say bad things about him. Look at the fact that, even for a successful businessman, he's really lawsuit happy. And look at the fact that when he gets sued, in return, he settles rather than have it go to court, where who-knows-what might actually come out and get into the papers.

"Look at the fact that, back when the last actual President we had was still alive, the man was funding fact finding missions to Hawaii to try and prove he didn't have a real birth certificate. You remember all that Birther nonsense? Our man was one of them. And never apologized. 

"Look at the fact that we still can't get a straight answer from him about this mess with Secretary Wheeler.  Look at the fact that he won't do an interview with anyone unless they agree to not talk about it. Look at the sad fact that even FOX News won't interview him, anymore, because they won't agree not to talk about it. 

"And now, look at all these people who are talking about his university. You know, the one that's had all these fraud allegations, and now has lawsuits and cases against it? Look at how it's looking like he not only gave it his name, but actually knew it was a fraud, right from the get go, and still let it go on.

"Now, you can say what you like about racism, sexism, hating religion, hating Gods. But if you are a conservative, and you're more concerned about truth and justice and fiscal responsibility, then don't you have to wonder why you're supporting him. 

"And if you want to go on about how the Democrats are supposedly so bad with our money, then when are you going to confront him about how his plans tend to turn out...?"

* * *

"After this was done, the voice of the Aesir was heard -- broadcast over speakers, radios, televisions.

"They said that this was the culling of the weak and the useless, so that those who remained might be unburdened by their weight. They promised food and shelter for all, and safety, so long as their orders were obeyed without question, and their needs attended to. 

"The strong would be put to work rebuilding the city. The crafty would be put to work making things for the strong to use. The hardy would be set to long, repetitive tasks. The comely would serve at the behest of their masters, in ways that were shockingly forward. 

"But they made a further notice. The children were theirs. Any attempt to retake the city, or resist, would mean that so many of them would be taken before the Mayoral Residence, and killed in as slow and painful a manner as the Aesir could make it.

"And then their young bodies would be fed to the dead, so that their burial would be impossible, and Valhalla denied them.

"Scared, spattered with the blood of their neighbors and loved ones, and aware that the children of the city were hostages, something bright and vital went out of the eyes of the people of Moscow that day. 

"Something it would take generations to put back back..."

Thursday: 6/2/16

"Alright then," Director Kotzbrocken says, taking his first tour of the Flier's bridge area -- looking somewhat out of place in his light grey suit and pale green tie: "This is rather impressive. But tell me, do we really need this many people running all over the place?"

"This is normal, sir," AGENT Hollingsworth says: "At any given time we're dealing with around three to five emergencies, and ten to fifteen ongoing operations. Not to mention the usual coordination with field AGENTS, reports from Strategic Talents, things of that nature."

"Well, then," the man says, patting his pink cheeks and taking a deep breath: "Looks like I have my work cut out for me, Hollingsworth. We need to fix the culture, here."

"We do, sir?"

"Yes we do," Kotzbrocken says, rubbing his hands together: "No more cowboy operations. No more putting out all fires by burning down the village. We have an opportunity to do some real good, here, and..."

He raises an eyebrow, and looks around, suddenly aware that every single AGENT on the floor has stopped running, reporting, and talking, and is now looking at him like he just admitted to buggering pigs on poker night.

"Sorry, ladies and gentlemen, but you knew this was coming," the Director says, looking around: "This Agency has been spoiled rotten by previous Administrations, mostly because they were terrified of the person who ran it. Well, he's not in charge, anymore, and neither are those clones of his. As of now, it's me, and the man I report to wants us to fix things.

"You don't like it?" he points to the door: "Get out."

And then tries not to gasp as each and every AGENT there nods, drops their sidearm on the floor, and walks through that very same door...

* * *

... which the Marine Base's CO seems incapable of moving from, given what just came up in the center of his vehicle base.

"Sorry about the goddamn mess, Colonel," SPYGOD says, striding towards the man -- away from the drill tank -- with a rather motley crew in tow: "I told my man to try and get me as open a space to come up in as he could."

"Well, that's good enough," the beefy Marine says, coming out and shaking the spy's hand: "Honor to meet you, sir. My granddaddy met you in Korea."

"Please tell me I didn't shoot or !@#$ him," SPYGOD says, taking the man's hand. 

"No, but he said he was never touching the local hooch ever again."

"That sounds about !@#$ing right," the man says, looking over his silver, round sunglasses at the man: "I got civies in tow, Colonel. We were literally the last !@#$ing people out of Incirlik before it went down."

"Yeah, he said you'd be bringing a crew," the beefy guy says, shrugging over to some huts: "He's in there recuperating. I guess whatever you had to fight your way out of was pretty bad. He doesn't want to talk about it."

"I wouldn't expect so," SPYGOD says; "I'll go check on him. Meanwhile, um... this is kind of !@#$ing weird."

He gestures to the Senator, who's clearly very eager to no longer be protected by the chubby metamorph who's been glued to him like a pastie on a boob for the last few days.

"Sir!" the Colonel says, stepping forward to shake his hand: "This is a gosh danged miracle, sir. I'm glad to see you."

"Better call the Secret Service," Gosheven chuckles as he saunters by the two of them: "I need to be put away for our own safety."

"Yes, really," Cruz says, shaking the Colonel's hand and not looking at the metamorph: "Nice to meet you. Can you tell me were we are? They were a little hazy on the details."

"Iraq," Myron says, coming up behind them -- exhausted after days behind the controls of his drill tank, and run ragged by the close quarters and scared civilians they shoved in before they dug under.

And before everything went BOOM

"Welcome to Firebase Bell, Senator," the Colonel says: "You come with me, I'll get you all someplace to stay and refresh yourselves while we try and figure out how to get you all stateside."

"I need to use the goddamn phone," SPYGOD says: "Unless someone's calling their damn mommy or something."

"You can use mine, sir," the man says, and then watches a man nearly fly...

Friday: 6/3/16

... from the top of the OKO Tower, much to the amusement of Tyr, who's overseeing this project.

"Let that be a lesson to the rest of you scum!" he shouts, his red hair bright even under the darkened skies: "Take care as you step to the edge! And be careful not to anger me, else I'll save the wind the bother!"

The workers all nod at that, and get back to doing what they were doing -- attaching strange, otherworldly devices to the edges of the rooftop. 

"How fares this project, friend Tyr?" Vili asks, his image appearing before him.

"It goes well, Lord Vili," the God of War says: "We shall soon have all these towers turned to our purpose."

"It is well. Lord Ve is impatient that we be ready, should they be foolish enough to attack."

"I find myself hoping for such a happening, my Lord," the red-haired man says, grinning as he taps the pommel of his sword: "I find it an ill thing to sit here, waiting for that wall of steel to fall upon us. I grow desirous to take it and be done with it."

"I know of your desires, friend," Vili says: "Indeed, they match my own. But my brother has led us wisely and well, thus far. Let us trust him further in these things."

"I do that," Tyr says, looking up: "And yet I wonder if perhaps the goal we seek lies not upon the ground, where these steel things are, but above, in the lair of the Wolf..."

And as he muses -- and Lord Vili chides him to be patient, once more -- one of the workers smiles, half-in a dream. 

And through the haze of LaLa, what he sees is seen by...

* * *

... a willowy wisp of a God who sits before the battered, bruised Olympians and reports all that he sees and hears to them, courtesy of the sacrament his many followers within Moscow still have in their system. 

As he speaks, they listen. As they listen, they correlate. 

As they correlate, they plan. 

And having planned...

* * *

"... for this kind of thing, really," Randolph Scott says, looking over the maps of the city above: "I mean, Jesus !@#$ing Christ. There's just about 30 or so of them. How do they intend to hold the whole damn town?"

"That's what we're trying to figure out up here," Dr. Uncertainty says over the communicator they're both using: "So far, we figure they're relying on their undead army. But that's a limited use deal."

"Yeah. One good smack and they're dead," the Outlaw Journalist says: "But remember that they can teleport their dead soldiers anywhere in the world they want to, at least if what SPYGOD said happened in Syria is true."

"Oh, right," the masked detective genius says, smacking himself in the noggin: "Why the heck didn't I think of that?"

"Can't be on top of everything," Randolph chuckles, looking askance: "But that explains a lot of their bravado the other day, doesn't it? If they can send their soldiers anywhere they want, then the Russian Legion really is just an annoyance."

"Yeah, but how far of a reach does Hel have? Can she turn dead soldiers anywhere into her soldiers?"

"If it's her soldiers doing the killing, then I suspect the answer is yes."

"That's a scary thought."

"It's supposed to be," Randolph says: "Which means the longer we wait to do something, the more time they have to put some plan into motion. And that's not going to be any !@#$ing good."

"So what should we do? Right now everyone's just sitting with their thumb up their butts waiting for orders. And Josie's out, and some new idiot's in charge of the COMPANY, and half the AGENTS resigned, so..."

"Yeah, I heard. So much for the new Interim President."

 "So this is where you say you have a plan."

"It's like any other plan. It only comes a little bit at a time."

"Quoting Doctor Who is so not getting you out of this."

"Ha! Well, you win the pop culture quiz for the night. But I do have something... sort of."

"Sort of?"

"Yeah, I've got a line on taking care of our dead people problem, provided we can rely on someone we really shouldn't trust."

"Oh dear. Is this one of those 'enemy of my enemy' things?"

"More like an 'offer you can't refuse.' Tombo wasn't clear on the specifics. Maybe it's best if I don't know."

"Maybe not. After what Dragonfly said..."

"Yeah," Randolph says, remembering the night the former Red Queen broke down and finally told everyone how she'd come back to life, and what she'd given up to do it. 

"Anyway, is the deception holding?" he asks, looking at the empty American Steel armor, over in the corner of his lair. 

(And the ridiculously large wig he'd been wearing the whole time.)

"So far. But Josie was the one who knew the whole story, and was running interference. Now that she's gone..."

"We don't have a lot of time, no," Randolph says: "Good thing I sent Karl back to the states, then."

"What's he going to do?"

"Oh, you know our boy," the Outlaw Journalist says, smiling: "If I've got my timing right, he's !@#$ing !@#$ up right about..."

Saturday: 6/4/16

"... now, I really want to restate some things that you've told me," the blonde FOX News presenter says, shaking her head in disbelief: "Because, to be frank, well... some of this is just amazingly out there."

"It does sound that way, yes," Karl says, holding his sister's hand as they sit in their remote, secret location and videoconference in: "But I have a great deal of evidence. Tape logs, phone conversations. I have more than enough to prove that the leading Republican candidate has been in the thrall of a nazi war criminal for at least as long as the campaign, if not even longer."

"And Jana, you're saying that everything you said about Randolph Scott, following the Toon Town Massacre? You're saying all that was a lie?"

"It was, yes," Jana says, weakly -- her black hair buzzed short to try and get her blonde to grow back out, again: "I was also being controlled by him. Karl was being kept by his side to make sure I did what I was told."

"And this happened, how?"

"We infiltrated the campaign to find out what was going on with him," Karl says: "We suspected all manner of things. We didn't know what to believe and what not to. We found out that he took a phone call every night, and actually deferred to this person..."

"... which is weird, to say the least," Jana takes over, seamlessly -- Karl looks at her and smiles, so glad to have her back: "We thought it might be one or both of the Koch brothers, except that by then we knew they hated him. So we listened in..."

"... and got an earful of words from an ABWEHR member with mind control powers," Karl picks up: "And we were lost from then on. We went to Germany to meet with him. He made us... obey him. We did a lot of things we're not proud of..."

"... and we lied for him, and we would have died for him," Jana admits, tears running down her face: "He was going to whore me out to Secretary Wheeler, for example. But I was rescued by our friends. And he was convinced to tell the truth about his own dealings."

"Except that someone shot him before he could get into this... mind control stuff," the presenter says, shaking her head: "And who knows else."

"Yeah," Karl admits: "That doesn't sound so good, when you put it like that. But to his credit, he didn't know about that. He just got talked into orchestrating the massacre by the candidate in exchange for a prime spot in his cabinet. And the candidate was doing what he was told."

"There's a lot of victims, here," Jana says: "Us, Wheeler, other people. Even the candidate. For all we know he's had his hooks into this guy for a long time."

"He certainly said as much to me," Karl nods: "Since the 80's, I think he said."

"And now, you're saying this same person... he's one of the people in Moscow?" the Presenter asks.

"Yes," Karl and Jana say in unison, which takes the blonde aback, at least until Karl reasserts control over his speech and continues: "It's a very strange plan. I probably shouldn't say too much about it, except to say that those people who claim they're gods? If you look at them without their helmets on, you'll probably see that they all look really familiar..."

* * *

"... to me," Morgue Anna says, looking at the redhead in the purple cloak who's appeared in her bathroom mirror.

"I'd sure hope so," Tombo says, stepping out of it and walking up to the girl, who almost drops her towel: "It hasn't been that long since that one Penguicon."

"Oh," the sorceress says as she steps back to the damp, steamy shower stall, and then her face falls: "Oh."

"Yeah," Tombo says, nodding: "Oh."

"That was you."

"That was me." 

 "The hot tub girl."


"The one who told me... um..."


"Well," Morgue Anna snorts: "I'm not the one who's dead, honey. Maybe you should have taken your own damn advice."

Tombo just smiles.

Seconds later Morgue Anna staggers from the bathroom -- towel dropped, !@#$ dripping down her legs, and her hair turned stark white with fear.

"Now then," the redhead says, striding up behind the self-styled crime queen of Detroit as she falls down on her face, too scared to breathe: "If you're done being an utter !@#$? I think we need to talk about your necromancy, and how we're going to put it to good use.

"If you ever want to sleep again, that is..." she growls, wondering if she'd be allowed to give this !@#$ a taste of the hell she went through, dying...

* * *

 "... by the hour, sir," the Candidate's new Campaign Manager says, shaking his head: "I mean, this revelation. Of course, it's !@#$. Complete and total !@#$-"

"It's true," the man says.


"No, it's true," the Candidate admits, looking first to the man who's just joined him, and then everyone else in the room: "I'll admit it, here and now. I was victimized by this guy. I was told what to say, when to say it.

"I was told to talk to Wheeler, make a deal, and pay that Scott guy back for messing with me and him. I was told to pick fights with people, then back off. Keep the heat on, keep the ugliness going.

"And then, you know what happened?" the Candidate says, turning around: "Craziest damn thing. Just after they go and do that thing in Moscow? He stops calling me. Stops ordering me.

"And when he stops talking to me, well... you know how it is when you love someone, and then it goes bad? And then you hurt and you want to see them, but you can't? And it makes the heart grow fonder for the break, and, well... you just want to see them, even if you know it's a bad damn idea?

"Well, this is the opposite of that," he explains, tapping his chest: "The less he talked to me? The better I felt. I was free, again. I could do what I wanted, say what I wanted.

"I mean, I almost threw in the towel, after everyone else did. Did you know that?"

"No, sir," the new Campaign Director says, doing his best to avoid screaming: "I did not."

"I almost did, because I didn't know how much of this was me, and how much of it wasn't me. Did I really want to be President, or was it all just something he did to me?

"Well, standing up there, looking at all those people? I realized that I do want to be President," he says, walking across the room to look the man in the eyes: "I do want to save this country from the hole it's fallen into.

"The immigrants, those Muslims, the White City, the damage from the TU. All that crazy, bad stuff that's happened to us. You think the Democrats can fix it? The Libertarians? The Greens? All those other small parties out trying to get equal time on the TV?

"They're nuts, folks," he says, wondering why the room is suddenly not as densely populated: "Nuts. They don't have a plan. They don't have anything. All they can run on, now, is they're not me. All they've got is that they're not me.

"But together? We can be something more than that. We can save this country. We can make America Great again.

"All we have to do is be honest."

"Honest?" the Campaign Director asks, noticing how many people are quietly leaving the room -- white-faced and shaken.

"Honest. We get up and we tell the truth. So I got mind controlled? It happens. But that's just the bad stuff I did. The secret stuff. And it's not my fault. 

"Everything else? Everything I've stood for? Everything I've said? I'll stand by 100%. Because that is me, my friend. And that's what the American people deserve."

He extends a hand for his Campaign Director to take: "Let's call a press conference. Tonight. Let's get ahead of this thing. So we lose a few votes? Big deal. Once people get over the shock, we'll be fine."

"Yeah," the man says, shaking his boss' hand and wondering if he just bought himself a First Class ticket to Hell.

"I mean, come on," the Candidate laughs: "I'm still the only candidate left in this damn race. What can they do?"

Sunday: 6/5/16

"We repeat. Senator Ted Cruz is alive and well, and desiring to get back into the Presidential race."


"Shock from numerous quarters of the nation, along with relief and joy..."


"... leading Candidate all but tanking in the polls after his frankly disastrous press conference, last night, where he confirmed what a FOX News interview said about him..."


"... former Director of the COMPANY, SPYGOD, is credited with saving the Senator's life and bringing him back to America..."


"... no mention as yet as to whether the candidate will face charges for his admitted actions, though he is scheduled to undergo a very in-depth questioning with the FBI later today..."


"... a long (BLEEP)ing strange trip, lady. That's all I'm (BLEEP)ing saying. Except to remind you all to (BLEEP)ing vote this November...."


"'He is risen!'" they're chanting outside his home, Brenda. Over and over. It's like a tent revival out here..."


"... still not being allowed into Incirlik. Apparently the Turkish army has evacuated a fifty mile cordon around the air base. Um... that's jets overhead. We think it's another bombing run..."


"Let me get this straight. He just admitted to being behind the Toon Town Massacre? And he's walking free? Man, if he was brown-skinned and had 'Muhammad' in his name, somewhere, he'd be in a police basement with racist cops throwing bacon at his fat ass..."


"... still no word from inside Moscow, where human rights organizations estimate up to half of the population may have been killed by its invaders. As of now, the standoff continues..." 


"I want to say how grateful I am to be back. It has been a terrible few months for me. I miss my father, my wife, my family. But now I am back, and I feel that the best thing I can do, the best way I can honor their lives, and make sense of the thing that has happened to me, is to pick up where I left off. And so, I announce that I am still a candidate for the Republican primary."


"... calls to have him arrested, many of which are coming from people who were once his most vocal supporters..."


"Intense pressure on the new Interim President, whose Press Secretary has said that he's not taking any calls, today, as he crafts an appropriate response to the issue..."


"... can he still be elected? Well, given what's just happened, all the people who were hoping for a contested Republican convention are probably going to get their wish..." 


"An additional warning to amateur astronomers from the UN Space Service, this evening. We are all being told to please not use telescopes to look into the night sky. Apparently, there could be damage to our eyes from all the activity up there..."


 "So this man, who loves throwing people who claim they're victims under the bus? Now he's saying he's the victim? I say it's time for a change."

* * *

"Yes," Ve says, looking at the television: "I should say that it is."

He looks out the window of the Mayor's office -- stepping over the remains of Heimdall as he does -- and looks at the city they are remaking in their image. 

And he picks up the telephone -- which he doesn't like to use, anymore -- and makes a call to...

* * *

"... expedite matters, yes," the man says over his mega-encrypted phone, sitting in his lonely hotel room -- right next to the No-Suit he's been using -- and smoking a cigarette: "I'll see what I can do about making it happen. Things keep getting mucked up.

"But yes," he says: "I will kill him, and then I will plant the evidence. It will all work out..."

* * *

".. the way I've planned it," Dr. Thokk says over her communicator, speaking with her silent accomplice: "If it all goes well, they won't know what's happened until it's too late."

"Good," Doctor Prisluga says, reveling in the shadows of her secret office -- where she can, at last, be herself: "I'll leave you to that, then. I have other matters to attend to."

With that, she crosses the room to a gurney, where FAUST Agent 78 lies asleep and dreaming, kept docile by large amount of drugs.

"Sleep and dream, Fleshgerm," the masked doctor says, patting his cheeks with a cold, metal hand: "You'll be back with your other soon enough..."

(SPYGOD is listening to Films (Gary Numan, Deno edit) and having a Cranium Crush)

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