Monday, September 5, 2016

Apotheoclypse Now: 8/29/16 - 9/4/16

"And disorder must come / and disorder must reign"
(The SPYGOD of Alter-Earth)

(Art by the Lemonade Project)

* * *
* * *

The storm is coming, and the Riders are ready. 

They stand on the shore, astride their horses, watching as the clouds approach.

The roaring of wind threatens to knock them over, but they stand tall. They've weathered far worse for far too long.

The trees bend and wave. The water rises and crashes. Still they stand, proudly.

The Baron. The Mother. The Old Man.

And there, standing where the sea meets the sand, Guede Loraj -- arms raised to the storm.

The moment comes. Their horses lift -- the poor and the wild of the small town the Guede have taken for their own, their eyes wild with the fire of Les Invisibles.

And whole, as horse and rider, they float out to meet the storm that's come to take them away from these islands.

Away, and off to someplace the dead can have their due...

Monday: 8/29/16

At first, Randolph Scott's not sure what he's seeing. Faces are hazy and indistinct, features blurred and uncertain. 

That isn't the only sense that's betrayed him, either. Smell is a broken thing, taste hopelessly garbled. And touch cycles in and out of usefulness, changing from ecstasy to pain every so often. 

But hearing? Oh, he's got that down. He can hear everything with crystal clarity. 

That's how he knows he's in a hospital. He can hear the beeping of the monitors, the drip of an IV, and the sounds of people going up and down a hallway -- the echoing clip-clop of feet on tile.

He can also tell who's in the room with him. The taciturn grunting. The hitched breathing. 

And finally, that voice -- the one he hasn't heard in person in forever. 

SPYGOD himself, leaning in close and telling him: "Son, you gotta !@#$ing tell us what happened."

And so he does...

* * *

"You..." Randolph Scott says, his eyes widening as he realizes just who has plopped himself down at his table at the Carnivore. 

"I'd certainly fucking hope so," the SPYGOD of Alter-Earth says, flourishing his hands and arranging the cutlery at his place: "I've spent a long time playing the part."

"You bastard," the Outlaw Reporter hisses, about to get to his feet. But then there's a weird pricking in the back of his neck -- a gun, placed just where his skull meets his neck.

"I do know who my father was, thank you," the man grins, pointing his finger down at the table: "And you will fucking sit down and not move. Otherwise I will have my friend blow your brains out of your skull and all over me. Understood?"

Scott nods, and puts his hands up, and then down flat on the table. 

"That's better," the Doppelganger says, clapping his hands together twice -- at which point every patron in the large dining room stops what they were doing, before, and surges into new and sinister motion...

* * *

 "... they were all his people," he tells SPYGOD, wondering why his eyesight is so poor: "I should have known from how they looked at me. That look in their eyes wasn't interest or suspicion. It was... !@#$, it was hunger."

"Hunger, huh?" the superspy says, his breath heavy with nicotine.

(He can smell properly, now, apparently. Thank the Gods for small favors.)

"Yeah. Like lions on the prowl looking at wildebeests, or something."

"Glad to know our taxpayers' waste of funding on PBS is expanding your !@#$ing horizons," SPYGOD snorts: "So what did his people do, then?"

"They took the place over in seconds," the outlaw reporter says: "It was swift and planned. They all pulled our weapons. Mostly long and evil looking knives, but some had guns. "

"What kind of guns?"

"Beretta M-12s. Does it !@#$ing matter?"

"Everything matters, son. What did they do with those guns?"

"They split into teams, with some rounding up the wait staff and shoving them to the center of the room. And some went to the exits and entrances and barred them. Shut it all up and down..."

* * *

 "Now," the man says, putting his hands back on the table, secure in his belief that he controls this place: "This is how it fucking goes, Randy. You and I are going to have a conversation. Call it an interview, if you want to. I bet you've wanted to ask me some things, especially after I killed your faggot friend?"

"You !@#$ng-" the Outlaw Reporter starts to say, but falls quiet as one of the man's followers jams a knife into one of the restaurant worker's throats -- almost decapitating him from the force of the blow

"Any more abuse or interruptions, and someone else fucking dies," the SPYGOD of Alter Earth promises, tapping the table with a long finger as the server gurgles his last, and the others scream and yell: "I know you don't care about yourself, Randy. But have some goddamn consideration for these poor people, here? I'm told the management doesn't pay them very well, and they don't make shit from the tips."

He laughs, then -- black and long -- and all his servants laugh along with him.

(Except for the ones who are at the giant roasting pit, by the kitchen. He can't see what they're doing from here, but it apparently involves a lot of grunting...)

* * *

"How did he look?" SPYGOD asks. 

"Like... I don't know," Randolph says, glad he can finally feel something clear and sensible coming from his toes, even if it's tingling: "What do you want me to say?"

"The truth, son. I thought that !@#$ was all you were interested in?"

"Do you mean good or bad?" the outlaw reporter asks, noticing how fast his words are coming to him -- almost manic: "Happy or sad? Relaxed or upright?"

"Confident or not?" SPYGOD asks.

"Oh, confident," Randolph replies, maybe quicker than he should: "Like a cat playing with a broken mouse. Assured as anything. The guy with all the good cards in his hand and a !@#$ing loaded gun under the table, too. 

"He had me, good and hard, and didn't want me to think otherwise..." 

* * * 

"So what's the catch?" Randolph asks, not sure where this is going: "Why am I having this conversation with you?"

"Well, that's fucking complicated," the alter-earth doppelganger says, grinning as he sips the bloody mary one of his people brought him: "But let's just say that I need you to take a message back to (REDACTED), and I need it to come from someone he can fucking trust."

"You're a little behind the !@#$ing times," the outlaw reporter smirks: "He and I haven't seen eye to eye in a while, now-"

"But he trusts you," the man says, pointing a finger: "Otherwise he wouldn't let you keep an eye on those fucking kids you rescued from those Nazis at the South Pole, now would he?"

Randolph grimaces at that, not liking how this man knows so much.

"Oh, I know alllllll about that, Randy," the man grins -- his smile a deep red, as though he were drinking blood: "I know about the Toon you've been fucking. I know how you two pretended to be superheroes. I know how you left her hanging so you could come here and make a deal with the fucking Wandering Shadow, himself, to have him fucking kill that waddling, orange-skinned piece of shit who's most likely going to be the next President of the USA.

"I even know where your top secret studio is..." he teases: "And one word from me? The whole place goes fucking boom"

"You couldn't know..." the outlaw reporter gasps.

"Prague," he says: "In Mala Strana, off Chelna Street. You picked it because of the Franz Kafka Museum. Your woman thought it was corny. You went with it, anyway. "

The SPYGOD of Alter Earth smiles deeper, and chuckles as his guest gets pale...

* * *

"... it's that Eye of Horus thing he showed off, the last time he was on tape," Randolph goes on: "He told me that it doesn't just let him turn people into.... into !@#$ing monsters. He says he can use it to spy on us, too."

"How?" SPYGOD asks, leaning in closer: "Did he say?"

"He didn't, no," the reporter goes on, now able to feel his knees: "Just that it's one peek at a time. But I guess a peek is all he needs." 

"Anything else?"

"Yeah. Those Bloody Marys he was drinking?"


"Real blood," Randolph says, shuddering at the memory: "The guy behind the bar was bleeding himself out, one glass at a time..." 

* * * 

"... so here's the deal, Randy," the last inhabitant of Alter-Earth says, accepting another expertly-chilled glass of vodka and blood from one of his people: "All that shit I said, the last time I talked with you people?"

"You mean about not coming after you, or you'd shoot someone with that wondergun, or cause a rage outbreak in DC?"

"Yes," the man says, nodding: "Well, I think we need to renegotiate our understanding a bit."

"So you're making your move," Randolph says: "I was wondering when you'd crawl out from under your rock."

"Not really, no," his host replies, shaking his head: "The fact is... well, since the last time we talked? The playing board has changed. Drastically."

"How so?"

SPYGOD's doppelganger raises an eyebrow: "Are you that fucking stupid? Really?"

"Pretend I am. Tell me what you mean."

"The..." the man can barely say the word, but eventually pushes it out: "The gods are coming back, you goddamned moron. I know you know this. You were fucking there in Moscow, weren't you?"

"I've been a lot of places, but yeah," Randolph says, nodding: "So what's that to you?"

"Everything," his host insists: "They will fucking ruin everything if they get more of a foothold. We won't have any control over our destinies, anymore. We won't actually run the damn world. We'll be at the beck and call of a million fucking deities, all swarming around the world and telling us what to do."

"You think so, huh?"

"I know so, idiot," the Alter Earth SPYGOD hisses: "And once they've been here long enough to get a power base? They'll want more. They always do.

"And what do you think will happen once they start to encroach on one another's followers...?"


"A God War, asshole. That's what."

"A God War."

"We had one on our world," the man insists: "It took two days to start, two fucking years to end, and wiped out hundreds of thousands. There's areas on the world that are... that were still uninhabitable because of it."

Randolph raises an eyebrow of his own at that. But he has to admit that, as much as he loathes this person, he was thinking the same thing, himself -- especially after the Olympians and the Aesir almost tore Moscow apart, and rendered a large area of Russia and Eastern Europe a toxic mess.

(He also wonders what that weird smell is, over by the kitchen. What are they roasting, over there...?)

* * *

"What were they roasting?" SPYGOD asks: "Do I even want to !@#$ing know?"

And Randolph looks at him -- feeling all the way up to his waist, now, and seeing a lot better -- and ruefully laughs as he ignores the question and goes on...

* * * 

"What are you offering?" Randolph asks: "You said I needed to sell SPYGOD on something. What is it?"

"I'm offering him a way to kill gods," the SPYGOD of Alter Earth says.

"Are you !@#$ing serious?"

"Oh, I am," the man nods, smiling as one of his people bring him a plate, a fork, and a very sharp knife -- whatever they're doing over by the kitchen must be almost done. 

(The smell is getting more pungent. And why are they grunting and groaning...?)

"What would you know about gods?" Randolph asks: "I thought you all had some weird Christ on your planet?"

"Oh, we had a lot of fucking gods," the man insists: "Ours and theirs, theirs being the lands we invaded and took for ourselves. And when their gods got fucking uppity? We killed them."

"How...?" Randolph asks: "I mean, the Warbots-"

"Those fucking things can only beat them back for a time" the man insists: "Especially because they're not at full strength, yet. They haven't fucking figured out how to do it, yet."

"Do what?"

"Anchor themselves to the world," he says, acting as though he were explaining something simple to an ignorant child: "You see, a god's only as strong as the belief that surrounds them. But if they wrap themselves in a human body, they can work themselves into the damn world. And some of them figured that shit out, didn't they?"

Randolph nods: "The Aesir have, yes."

"Well, there's one more step they can take," the doppelganger explains: "One more thing they can do to solidify their hold on the world. And as soon as they figure that shit out, you're all fucked..."

* * *

"Did he say what that was?" SPYGOD asks, thinking he already knows the answer to that question, somehow.

"Of course not," Randolph sighs: "He's not !@#$ing stupid-"

"The hell he isn't," the superspy shouts: "Dumb !@#$er played his hand. He knows we're onto him. That's why he's coming out and trying to get ahead of us. That's why he was so..."

He almost says 'nice.' But then he looks at Randolph, and stops talking.

And Randolph tries to close his eyes and laugh...

* * * 

"So say we're actually !@#$ing interested in what you're selling," Randolph Scott goes on, shrugging: "What's the selling price?"

"Africa," the Alter-Earth SPYGOD says, without missing a beat.


"Is there an echo in here, Randy?" the man says, cupping his hand behind his ear: "Africa."


"Yes, Africa. The whole continent, from Cape Town to Cairo. I take Africa. I run it. I own it. You don't set foot here, and in return I won't fuck with you."


"Because it's fucking delightful," he says, smiling wide: "I spent all that time trying to corrupt people in Southeast Asia, but here? I hardly have to fucking try. It's corrupt, run down, teetering between chaos and order. One warlord wakes up in shitty mood and then there's another genocide in the papers.

"And the best part of it is...?" he grins even wider: "No one fucking cares! No one. I can do whatever I want, whenever, to whoever, and it'll just be another story in your papers. Not even a segment on your television."

Randolph looks at him with disdain, but has to admit he's right.


 The Outlaw Reporter smiles: "Good luck taking it, pal. It's protected."

"That's right," the man grins: "It is, isn't it? That shadow man with the time control powers. The same one you were going to meet with, here, right?"

Randolph's heart sinks at that, and the man grins even wider, somehow. 

"What did you do to him?" Randolph asks.

"Not much," the man says, winking over his drink: "I just showed him a thing or two he didn't already know. And once he was a little more in line with my way of thinking..."

"You..." Randolph Scott says: "You did the same thing to him you did to Jess, didn't you?"

"Gold star for the Outlaw Reporter!" his host says, putting the drink down and waving to the man behind the bar: "Get this man a fucking drink."

"I'm not having anything you're giving me, you sick !@#$-"

But then there's another gurgle from the knot of captured waiters, and the outlaw reporter sits back down...

* * *

"Why the hell would he give the gun to the Wandering Shadow?" SPYGOD asks, clearly agog: "That !@#$er's the most dangerous man on the damn planet, son. He makes me look like a baby shaking a !@#$ing rattle at the TV."

"Perfect person to have it, he said," Randolph explains, as best he can: "Unstoppable assassin. Time powers. Most dangerous gun in the world. There's no way to go wrong with that."

"Until he !@#$ing turns on him," SPYGOD shakes his head.

"He said he wouldn't."

"I say bull!@#$, son-"

"He says he only half-reprogrammed him," Randolph interrupts: "He said he'd start slipping back, every so often. Remembering how he was. And then he felt so damn sorry for himself that he'd do !@#$ing anything not to feel that way..."

SPYGOD looks at Randolph. Then away. Then he mouths a word or two, and shakes his head.

"I know," Randolph says: "He !@#$ing turned the most dangerous man in the world into a damn junkie. And after that, he didn't have to beat him or threaten him. 

"He just had to be a little late giving him another dose..."

* * *

"... alright, then," Randolph sighs, shaking his head: "It's a deal."

"It is?" the SPYGOD of Alter-Earth asks, raising an eyebrow over his eyepatch.


"Then tell me what the fucking deal is, Randy," the man says, putting his empty glass down and arranging his plate, as if he's expecting dinner any moment now.

(There is the sound of movement, over by the roasting pit. Someone's coming over here. The smell is getting more pungent by the second...)

"I'll tell him..." Randolph begins to say, and then decides he's had enough of this !@#$: "I'll tell him you want to !@#$ing exchange some secret he'll just !@#$ing figure out, anyway, in exchange for the continent. And then he'll !@#$ing find you and wring your neck so hard your head pops off your !@#$ing shoulders."

"I see," the man says, nodding: "So I take it you're not fucking convinced at the seriousness of the situation."

"Oh, this is pretty damn serious-"

"I offer you damn choice. You either arm yourself with my knowledge, or we all fucking die. Simple as that."

"According to you, anyway-"

"Do you think I'm just making shit up?"

"No, but..." he starts to say, but then trails off when he sees what's been brought out for the man to eat.

It's one of his people, stripped naked to the waist and sweating heavily. He's holding his right arm with his left hand, right at the elbow.

And everything below the right elbow has been roasted clear down to the bone, as if it were held over a naked flame for quite some time.

And it clearly was...

"Oh my God," Randolph says, watching as the man drops the useless arm on the plate, and then -- without so much as flinching -- pulls out one of the large, carving knives the staff uses here, and expertly slices his own lower arm off, just a half inch above where the roasting stops and relatively undamaged flesh begins.

"I like to have some pink meat in with the well-done parts," the SPYGOD of Alter-Earth explains, waiting patiently as the man carefully excises bone from flesh and muscle, and pulls back -- his arm bones raw and wet things, no longer attached to the rest of him.

He takes a fork to the steaming, twitching mess, and puts a warm mouthful between his lips. Chews, looks this way and that.

And then sighs: "Amare? This is a little underdone."

The man nods, sadly. And the person who's been standing behind Randolph this whole time takes the gun out from behind the Outlaw Reporter's head, blows the man's brains out, and then puts the warm, smoking gun right at Randoph's neck again...

* * *

".. ate it, anyway," Randolph says, twitching: "Right down to the bones. Smacked his lips and licked his fork and knife."

"And then what happened?" SPYGOD asks.

"And then another one of his people came...." the outlaw reporter says, trying to close his eyes again: "And another... and another... over and over until he got the perfect meal.

"And then...." Randolph gasps, suddenly really remembering...

* * *

"NO!" Randolph screams as he's placed on his back on the table -- rendered immobile below the neck by a well-placed blow to the back of his head. 

"See, you're being fucking silly, here," the SPYGOD of Alter Earth says, leaning over him with a fork in one hand and a knife in the other: "I've just ate half my weight in nigger arms. And now... I want dessert."

"You bastard," the outlaw reporter hisses: "I told you I'd cooperate-"

"I know, and I bet you will," the man goes on: "But you have to fucking understand, Randy, there's a certain music to this sort of thing. A dance, if you will. And part of the dance is that I can't just let you walk out of here unharmed and whole, because then he wouldn't believe you actually met me. 

"Or, worse," the man goes on: "He might not fucking take me seriously. And given how important it is that he takes me seriously? Well..."

The man shrugs, and then takes a look at Randolph's face -- moving the knife from feature to feature.

"You can't..." Randolph says, realizing what's about to happen.

"I will," the man says, holding up a cell phone with the other hand: "And you'll fucking let me do it without so much as a scream, or I'll make a phone call to Prague, and your whole clan of Nazi love clones and Toon pussy will be blown to Hell. Got that?"

One look from the man's eye and he knows he's not lying. He's capable of doing it. He will !@#$ing do it.

So Randolph nods, and closes his mouth as best he can. 

"Cut off your nose to spite your face?" the doppelganger muses, moving the knife this way and that: "Or shall we go cheek to cheek? Or perhaps these lips, the better to not kiss your Toon fuckpuppet...."

He opens Randolph's mouth: "Oh, what's a reporter without a tongue to speak? Or maybe that weird dangly thing at the back of your throat... oh, wait, it'll fall down before I can get it out, and you'll just fucking puke all over this suit. And do you know how many people I had to fucking skin alive to get enough material to make it?"

He shakes his head, and considers each ear. But then he narrows his eyes, and looks at Randolph's one good one.

"How obvious," he chuckles, sticking the knife under the lid, slowly moving the sharp tip between muscle and bone...

* * *

Randolph's gone into hysterics, now. The nurses have come to give him a sedative, and hold him down.

Keep him from clawing at the bandage over what was his one, good eye. 

There's just his prosthetic, now. The third-hand, Army surplus piece of !@#$ he'd had installed sometime after the Reclamation War. SPYGOD could have gotten him a much better one, if he'd just asked. 

But he hadn't asked. And sometimes the superspy even understands why...

So he stands outside the room of the crowded, Nairobi hospital -- next to his COMPANY guards, ready to blow away anyone who even looks at them funny -- and crosses his arms. Scowls. 

"Africa, huh?" he says to his invisible enemy, who for all he knows is looking at him, right now, through that chunk of his world's Decreator: "You must be !@#$ing nuts if you think I'm trading you so much as !@#$ing Zanzibar for what I can learn on my own."

He has more thoughts than that -- a lot more. But he keeps them to himself, for now. 

He'll stand here with the guards until Randolph calms down, and maybe goes to sleep. He'll sit in that room, all night long, making sure no one hurts this young man any further. 

He'll call Karl up tomorrow, and let him know what's happened. Hopefully the kid will know how to break the news to Velma and the others. 

(Hopefully he won't make this any more damned awkward than it has to be)

And then he'll dig under every nasty rock, into every black hole, and across the length and width of this world until he finds that piece of !@#$ that shares his face and make him pay for what he's done to Randolph.

For what he's done to the  former President. His wife, and his daughter. 

For what happened to Jess, and to Gayle. For Wayfinder and Dr. Krwi. 

For everyone that sick !@#$ has harmed, maimed, mutilated, and killed, or made wish they got off that damn easy. 

And he will laugh, long and hard, to see that bastard breathe his last. 

Tuesday: 8/30/16

"So," the head of the Republican National Committee says, shaking the Candidate's hand as they meet at the fancy restaurant the front runner insisted on going to: "Tomorrow's the big day, huh?"

"You could say that," the beefy, big-haired man says, waiting for one of the harried, well-dressed waiters to pull out his chair so he can sit down. The waiter doesn't do the same for his guest, though.

Clearly they know where the power resides, in this conversation.

"Have you decided how you're going to work this?" his guest says, doing his best to not let his face reflect the snub: "Mexico's been one of your talking points, after all."

"And rightly so," the Candidate says, giving the menu a cursory look before deciding to just get the house special -- some weird meat and grain thing that costs over a hundred dollars a slice: "Illegal immigration. Drugs. Rape. Gang violence. And that White City, now, too."

"Well, it would probably be best if we left that talking point off the table," the RNC head says, trying to smile: "After all, they did help us save the world, over a month ago-"

"No sir," the Candidate says, shaking his head and tapping the table: "No they did not. They did not."

"Now look-"

"You were never in business for yourself, were you?"

"Well, I was a lawyer-"

"That's not really business," the man dismisses him: "You were a clerk who made the right friends, tried to get elected, and failed. And then you realized, smart move by the way, that you'd do better getting other people elected. Very smart move."

"Well, thank you-"

"Smart move for you, because you don't understand how business works," the Candidate goes on: "And politics is all about business. All about it."

"You think I don't know that?" the RNC head says, shaking his head: "I am the head of the-"

"Yes, and you're doing a bad job of it," the Candidate says: "Which is why, after this election? You're going to step down, and you're going to give it to one of my people."

His guest blinks, then gasps: "What?"

"You heard me," the beefy man says, adjusting the sigil he wears on his collar, right next to the obligatory American flag pin: "You can go through the motions, and support me. You can badmouth me, in public or private. I don't care what you do, because I don't need you."

"I think you do," the man says, flabbergasted: "I think you need to listen to what people like me are saying, especially in this race."

"No. I don't."

"Well, of course you don't," he says, taking his napkin from his lap and tossing it onto the table between them: "You never listen to anyone. And anyone you do listen to is just telling you what you want to hear.

"But let me tell you something, and I hope this sticks," he goes on, tapping the table with his finger for emphasis: "This is a four way race, now. And it might become a five way if the Christians leave the party to back Ted Cruz. Right now he is more popular than Jesus with them."

"I'm very popular too," the Candidate says, nodding and pointing at himself: "You read the polls for a living. You should know this."

"I do, yes. I can tell you that while be getting and keeping the Joe and Jane Six Pack people, the dog whistle people, and the outright racists and haters we really wish the Democrats would take back? The Bible thumpers aren't buying it. And the fiscal conservatives are about ready to jump ship and leave with them.

"Now, maybe they vote Libertarian. Maybe they don't vote at all. But they're not going to vote for you, in November.

"But if Ted Cruz does run? And they think they can put their vote behind a real candidate, with a real chance...?"

He lets the point hang for a moment, and then looks the Candidate square in the eyes: "So here's the deal, sir. You listen to what I've been saying. You pivot like the Devil was right behind you. You go down to Mexico, shake hands with their President, stop talking nonsense about making them pay for your wall, and leave the White City entirely off the table.

"You do all that, and maybe you'll have a chance of winning. And if I have to step down after that, so you can give one of your solid gold sycophants a job? Well, fine. I'd rather have you in power than Sanders or Stein or any of those other left wing nitwits who think they can win. At least I think I can work with you. At least I think America will be better off with you.

"But you go down there and make a damned fool of yourself, like I think you will?" he says, getting up from the table and preparing to leave: "The RNC will drop you. We will put all our resources into maintaining a hold on the Senate and the House, Governors and Legislatures. Hell, even dog catchers if that's what it comes down to. But you will be left to twist in the wind with no support, no ground work, no nothing."

"Is that your final offer?" the Candidate asks, putting his hands on the table.

"Yes," the head of the RNC says, not happy to continue the business metaphor: "That is my final offer, sir. You play by the rules and let us help you, or you play by your own rules and we step aside. Your race, your choice."

"Alright, then," the beefy man says, nodding and looking down at the menu again: "Too bad. You would have loved this meal."

And there's nothing his now-former guest can say to that, other than to leave as quickly as he can, make a few phone calls, and pray sense strikes the fat !@#$ in the next 24 hours.

Wednesday: 8/31/16

"You !@#$ing sure about this, Myron?" SPYGOD asks the former Underman as they walk through the Flier, which is rather damn busy this day.

"Totally," the hero says: "If you're saying Mars is having problems underground? Then I want in on it."

"It'll be damned dangerous, son," the superspy says, leading them off to his office: "If what George is saying is correct, well, those giant !@#$ing crab things are going to be tumbling out of the damn hole a dime a damn dozen."

"I know that," Myron says, wondering if there's anywhere for him to sit in this large, darkened office of his, or if he's just supposed to stand: "But I also know that if you're going to to be doing any warfare underground, I'm the best person for the job."

"I could get the Martians to do it, you know," SPYGOD says, easing himself back behind the massive desk, and then spreading out across his chair: "It's their damn world, after all. About !@#$ing time they got involved in taking it back."

"Well, I wasn't planning on !@#$ing going it alone," the Lithonaut chuckles: "So if they want me out front? Great. They just want me along for the ride? Great. Either way, I want in."

SPYGOD looks at him, somewhat intently -- over the top of his round, black sunglasses -- and then smiles: "You just want to !@#$ing explore Mars, don't you?"

"Um... guilty as charged?"

"About !@#$ing time you fessed up, son," the superspy laughs, and then lights up another of his long, black cigarettes: "Consider it done."

"Well... wow," Myron says, saluting in shock: "Thank you. I'll do that. Yes. Thank you."

"Don't have a !@#$ing heart attack or anything," his boss says, taking a long drag off the black stick: "It's not like this is a thank you for !@#$ing Moscow, or anything. You're the best man for the job. The fact that you want this like a blowjob on Christmas morning just makes it a hell of a lot easier to hand it off to you."

"Do I get a team?" he asks.

"You do," the Superspy says, looking down at some of his readouts and screens: "I get final approval, though. And keep in mind that I'm gonna !@#$ing need some folks to stick the hell around for national defense, as well as dealing with that damn storm that's gonna hit Florida later this week."

"Should I recruit from the Heptagon basement?" Myron asks.

SPYGOD looks up at him for as moment: "Myron, the last time I let you play Suicide Squad it didn't turn out too !@#$ing well."

"No, but I think I've learned since then...?"

SPYGOD looks at him. Considers. Nods.

"Alright, then," he says: "But be really !@#$ing careful. Some of those folks got more damn issues than National Geographic."

"Sounds like a walk in the park after Moscow," Underman says: "I'll get the band together, and get you a list."

"You do that," SPYGOD says, waving him away from the desk.

After Myron's gone, he remote-closes the door to the office, and looks at a particular file he's had waiting for him for a day or so. It's big and black and is stamped ABWEHR, and he hesitates about ten times before finally picking it up and reading it.

At which point he remembers why he really didn't want to...

* * *

"A nation of dumb rapist junkies," Karl says, looking at the news coming over the feed: "Really."

"Oh, it gets worse," Helga says, leaning back in her chair -- not liking how creaky her spine feels, today: "Before all that, he said he'd use the American military to enforce them financing the building of the wall."

"And he said they were in cahoots with the Olympians," Jana snorts: "Went wild on that point, really."

"And all the while?" Helmut laughs, pointing at the photos coming in: "The poor man's just standing there, at his podium, listening to what that fat piece of schiesse is saying about his country, and him, and.."

He looks away from the photos for a second, and then shakes his head: "I'm sorry. What were we talking about?"

"The Mexican President," Karl says, his heart skipping a beat, scared to see this happen.

"Sorry," his clone brother says: "It's just, well, with what's happened to father, and having to come down here to Nairobi to work, and..."

"And," Helga sighs, nodding as she looks from one to the other.

"Yes," Jana says, taking her hand: "We know."

We all know, don't we? Karl says to them all, over the mental link they share with one another. 

And they do. 

And there, in the privacy of their minds, they decide what they're going to do about it. 

Thursday: 9/1/16

"In my youth, at the foot of my father, Bor, I learned many ways to trap an enemy," Odin says, his spear at the ready: "But I must say I never liked to use other warriors as bait."

"You didn't like the risk of losing them?" Director Straffer asks, his lightship powered down so low its illumination is a mere glimmering in the darkened cavern.

"I did not like the sight of them rushing away, as though they were frightened children," the Lord of the Aesir chuckles: "But here we are, asking my mighty and noble Aesir to scream and cry like cowards fleeing the Fenris Wolf."

"Hey, if it works, it works," the blonde cyborg chuckles: "Besides, we do a lot better dealing with these crab things if we trap them like this."

"I miss the true battle," Odin sighs, looking to the other Aesir that stands beside him -- waiting for their fastest and most nimble brothers and sisters to come rushing around the corner: "An honorable clashing of armies in the night!"

"I know," Straffer says, looking to the other lightships with him: "But until we get reinforcements from Earth, this is the best way to deal with what we've got left." 

"Do we know who shall be sent to our side?" Ve asks, pulling his/her sword out as she starts to hear the others approaching -- their hue and cry shrill, and what follows behind them booming and horrible: "The strongest of warriors? The most cunning? The most dangerous?"

"Knowing my fiancee?" Straffer says, getting ready to light up and fire at what's approaching: "Some really damn good combination of those, plus a ringer or two..."

* * *

"Um, why am I here?" Senator Cruz asks, still not entirely sure where 'here' is, other than a darkened, metal room, possibly underground.

"Long story short?" Myron says, looking down at the man in the chair -- the one the Roaring Boys just brought in and un-blindfolded: "Your country needs you, sir."


"Oh, sorry," Myron chuckles, sitting down in a chair across from the Senator and putting his hands on the table between them: "I've always wanted to say something like that."

"I see."

"Did it come across too...?"

"Silly," Ted Cruz says: "It sounded silly."

"Okay, then," Myron nods, leaning back in the chair: "Note to self. Self? Don't say that again."

"Why am I here, sir?"

"Because..." the hero says, and then sighs: "Crap. I can't use that line!"

"No, you can't," the Senator says, shaking his head: "And I am really starting to get upset with you, Mr...?"

"Myron," he says, extending his hand to shake: "I'm in the Freedom Force-"

"Oh, that's right," Cruz says, shaking his hand somewhat carefully: "I've seen you before. You're Underman, right?"

"Yes, but I try to not use that name. Myron's just fine."

"Any reason why?"

"A lot of reasons. I'd rather not get into them."

"Sir, I was sitting at home, drinking coffee, when someone knocked on my door," the Senator goes on: "I went to answer it, and the second I got up from the chair someone I couldn't even see tapped me on the back of the head with something. Then I woke up here, in a blindfold, and now I'm in this room."

"That sounds like the Roaring Boys," Myron says.

"So if you'd be good enough to answer a question or two? I think that would be really swell."

"I don't like using the name because I bought it from the previous owner," Myron admits, after a second: "He was a supervillain who wanted to retire. I was a stupid kid who wanted his drill tank and maps to inner Earth. So I made a deal with the Legion to buy it, and was in the middle of my first, very inept bank heist when the COMPANY caught me. They made me an offer I literally could not refuse, and I've spent that last few years being a superhero, a consultant, and a few other things I'd have to kill you after I told you about-"

"That might be a little difficult," the Senator says, somewhat drolly. 

"True, which is part of why you're here. And then, to top it all off, I had the old man I bought the name from trying to !@#$ing kill me for it-"

"Can we please watch the language?"

"Sorry. Flipping kill me for it-"

"Sir!" Senator Cruz says, holding up his hands: "I think I get the gist. Now please, tell me why I am here?"

"Well, you know we retook Mars from the Decreator," Myron explains: "Bottled the thing up, got it somewhere safe, and then mopped up what was left?"

"I did get a national security briefing as part of my maybe running for the Presidency, yes."

"Well, that briefing is a little out of date," the hero says, patting his hands together: "It turns out some weird time and space thing is sh.... er, excreting giant poop crabs, which are making the retaking of Mars something of an uphill battle for the folks who are there. They aren't well suited for a ground campaign, especially one that requires them to go under the ground."

"So you want me along?" the Senator asks, clearly dumbfounded.

"Yes. We're about to do something really damn dangerous and insane on Mars. And given your powers, and what you were able to do during the Not The Apocalypse? I think you're perfect for the team."

"Sir, your timing is very poor," Cruz says, shaking his head: "Not many people know this, but I was going to call a press conference on Sunday, after church, and announce that I am throwing in my hat for a third party run for the Presidency."

"Alright," Myron says, putting his hands back together and leaning forward: "We blast off on Sunday."

"So you see it won't work-"

"You could make the announcement, and then take off with us."

"Why on Earth would I do that?" the Senator says, almost laughing. 

"Three reasons," Myron says, holding up a hand to count them down on his fingers: "One, your country needs you to use your powers to save Mars. Two, if you save Mars? You save the Earth. The two planets are linked, now.

"And three?" Myron goes on, grinning: "You'll be the first President to campaign while actively fighting in a war, as a superhero. And as you can't be killed, and will most likely be caught on camera several times smacking these poop crabs into orbit? 

"I'd say you'll have a very good chance of actually being elected."

He looks at the Senator, who looks back at him. At first he's incredulous, but then his gaze softens, and he thinks about it. 

He takes his time thinking about it, of course. But after the first minute Myron's certain he made up his mind to say 'yes' almost right away. 

He just doesn't want to seem too eager at this moment in time.

Friday: 9/2/16

"Sir, we've got problems," Hanami radios back to the Flier from the center of Hermine, just east of Tallahassee.

"What kind of !@#$ing problems you got?" SPYGOD snorts, watching the satellite footage of the tropical storm from the Flier's control deck as his people shove every report under the sun into his face for him to read, date, and sign.

"I'm under attack!" the Japanese android shouts, dodging the blows of the several people who are in the storm with her: "Multiple entities. Humanoid, and very powerful. I'm-"

She gets hit square across the face by one of them -- the blow is like being struck by a mountain.

"Taire, petit fille," the Baron says, watching her fly away into the winds and the storm: "Ceci est notre nouvelle maison. Il ist temps pour vous de quitter."

The Guede laugh at that, and then go back to urging the storm further inland -- bringing the souls of their dead with them.

Hanami comes back online a second later, her neck rotors somewhat out of kilter for having weathered that blow.

"Sir, they might be too powerful for me to take out," she admits: "Even the Mega-Laser didn't so much as singe them."

"Alright, then," SPYGOD says, realizing what's going on here is no less than a damn incursion: "Get back with the others on land. Contribute to life saving and damage control. I'll handle these !@#$ers."

He turns to the nearest AGENT: "Get me the white phone."

"Aren't we supposed to save that for the ultimate emergency, sir?" the AGENT asks, and gets his feet shot at in response.

"The goddamn white phone, son!" the superspy shouts, putting his gun away as the AGENT he's shouting at runs to do as he's been told: "And a bottle of Jack Daniels! It's going to be one of those !@#$ing days!"

* * *

 "Oh, those poor people," Martha Clutch says, watching the television from the cavernous but warm family room, not far from Thomas' area.

He's been wheeled out here, with her. He's still not responsive, even a week later. Every so often he looks like he's going to say something, but then doesn't. 

"I think we should pray for them, don't you think?" she asks, taking his hand in hers: "I know it's what we'd normally do. Do you think you can pray with me?"

There's no response to that, either. He just sits there, in his chair, looking at the television -- the storm, the winds, the flooding. 

But she prays, anyway. And in that prayer she throws in another word for Thomas, and the hopes that he recovers. 

And behind his eyes -- lurking in the dark coils of his brain -- something chuckles and wonders how long it can hide here, both from her and that god she insists on petitioning...

* * *

Mssr Andek looks over the note, one more time, and then prepares to put it into an envelope, and then send it to his superiors in FAUST.

He could just email them, of course. But some things should be handled with class and dignity.

(Plus, if he emailed them, they'd have enough time to stop him. And he hasn't figured out how to delay delivery on those infernal things, yet...)

It's quite a moment for him, really. Ponderous, even. The weight of his upcoming actions is almost crushing, but yet at the same time so incredibly freeing.

He knows what he's about to do is right. He knows this.

And yet, deep down, in the smallest pit of his heart where he's buried all doubts, all considerations, and all fear, he can't help but hear that one last piece of reason crying out of the wilderness, begging to be heard.

It says that, no matter what he thinks, the patient will not be better off if he takes her out of where she is now, and places her in more private and secure surroundings.

It also says that his chateau in Languedoc is not secure, especially given her talents and tendencies.

And it insists -- screams, even -- that the only reason he's doing this is because he thinks he loves her, and has fixated an unhealthy interest upon this attractive, young woman.

Think of his career! His future! His otherwise-spotless legal record!

(Not to mention the fact that he'll be releasing one of the most dangerous people in the world back out into it again...)

But Mssr Andek -- a firm believer in the power of visualization -- closes his eyes, breathes deeply, and makes those doubts and fears fall even deeper into the pit he's tossed them into. He can see them falling down, down, down, past all the childhood taunts and traumas, all the broken bones and skinned knees, all the times his uncle showed him his special room and his mother told him to tell no one...

All those old and sad things, now joined by his last piece of sanity -- begging him to not make the worst mistake of his life.

And so he does not hear them. Not when he posts the letter, knowing it won't get there until at least Wednesday of the next week. Not when he makes the flight arrangements through a private courier FAUST sometimes uses to transport people to black sites.

And not when he travels to the Habitrail, on a day he knows Mister Freedom will not be there, to retrieve the patient FAUST has allowed him to supervise the treatment of.

The former President's lovely, if deadly, daughter...
Saturday: 9/3/16

"So how are you !@#$ing doing, son?" SPYGOD asks, standing at the foot of Randolph Scott's hospital bed.

"Just great," the outlaw reporter says, patting his hands on his chest: "Really."

The superspy nods, knowing the lie for what it is.

They've got him in stepdown, as he's well out of the damn woods. The socket is healing nicely, and they've got it covered up with a standard, one-size-fits-all eyepatch.

(He looks diminished in a hospital gown, though. Ridiculous, even.)

"The doctors say the nerve's !@#$ed," SPYGOD says, looking around for a chair, and wondering if he should stand or not: "They might be able to regenerate it, though."

"A parting gift from our friend," Randolph says, nodding: "He just couldn't resist one last mean trick."

"No," SPYGOD says, shaking his head: "I'm !@#$ing sorry, son. He's goddamn evil. But then I figure you know that."

"I thought I did, after everything that happened with Gayle, and Jess," Randolph admits: "But I didn't really understand it until I was sitting there, across from him, with my family's lives in his hands, and him..."

He screws up his face, not wanting to talk about it, anymore.

"I see they've all been in to see you," SPYGOD says, trying to change the subject: "That go well?"

"It sure did," Randolph nods: "Funny damn thing, though."


"Well, I figured Velma was going to hug me and then slap my !@#$ing face off, after how we left things?"

"Looks like that ugly mug's still there, though," the superspy smiles: "Wonder what !@#$ing happened."

"Well, craziest damn thing," Randolph says, sitting up a little: "She tells me that you told her that I wasn't quite myself."

"Yeah," SPYGOD nods: "Medusa Oblongada got a good, long look at you one day. Must have put the idea into your head to go talk the !@#$ing Wandering Shadow himself into assassinating the Republican Candidate."

"Now why the hell would she do that?" the outlaw reporter asks, more than a little incredulous.

"Well, I guess she knew all the !@#$ that !@#$er did to you, back when he wasn't quite himself," the superspy shrugs: "And figured she could push you into doing it. She was always into that sort of !@#$. Just one little push and a saint becomes a sinner, or a crook a catspaw."

"Yeah," Randolph says, sitting up all the way, and fixing his one, good eye on SPYGOD: "Except that Medula's been dead since the 90's. You put a damn bullet in both her eyes when she tried to get Clarence Thomas to shove a coke bottle up his ass."

The superspy blinks: "Do I even want to know how you !@#$ing know that, son?"

"Gosheven's just full of amusing stories," Randolph says: "And I guess you like to !@#$ing brag about !@#$ like that when the quiet's too loud for your liking."

"Guess I do," SPYGOD nods: "Okay, then. I lied to her. She thinks you were mind controlled when you went and did that stupid goddamn !@#$ing thing that almost got you abandoned and killed."

"Why?" the outlaw reporter asks, shaking his head: "Why the hell would you do that...?"

"This is also what a man does, it seems," the superspy says, looking over his glasses at the outlaw reporter as he quotes a certain news article he read, once: "Cover for a friend."

For a moment, Randolph doesn't know what to say. He looks at one edge of the room, and then the other.

"I didn't think you read that," he finally says: "After everything that happened after, I wasn't sure you even had time."

"SPYGOD knows all, son," his visitor says, sitting down in the chair across from the bed: "Sees all, hears all, and reads all. Even if it is on some !@#$ty left wing internet site that was too stupid to keep you on."

"I !@#$ing rage-quit," Randolph insists: "And I did it for you."

"I know."

"I did a lot of !@#$ing things for you."

"I know that, too," SPYGOD says, wondering if he should light up in here. Also wondering if he should offer him one.

"And in return, you lie to protect me."

"I did, yeah," the superspy admits: "You got a !@#$ing problem with that, son?"

"Oh you bet I do," Randolph says: "How dare you? How !@#$ing dare you lie to her about this? To them? How dare you not let me make my own damn decisions and live with the consequences of them?"

"What, you want them to !@#$ing leave you?" SPYGOD asks, somewhat incredulous: "You want them to wash their damn hands of you? Really?"

"I want my life back," the outlaw reporter says: "I want to be free of you pulling my !@#$ing strings!"

"Is that what you think all this is?"

"Isn't it?" Randolph insists, gesturing wildly: "I mean, Jesus !@#$ing Christ! Every time I turn around someone's !@#$ing interfering in my life! First it's your roaring boys !@#$ing kidnapping me, every so often."

"If you're talking about Libya, you !@#$ing needed to see that, son-"

"And that whole mess in Africa-"

"Which could have been avoided if you'd kept our kids out of Israel like I !@#$ing told you to-"

"And then I get hit by a damn bike and your people put me back together-"

"You're welcome, by the way."

"And ever since then, I can't be sure what the hell I'm doing is actually my doing or not!" Randolph almost screams: "I don't know if my choices are my own, or if you're manipulating me, somehow!

"And then when I finally meet someone I care about? Someone I think I can spend the rest of my !@#$ing life with? Someone good and decent and smart and caring...?"

He screws up his face. He can't cry from his empty socket or the cybernetic eye, and that hurts worse than he could ever have imagined. 

"Look, son," SPYGOD says: "I'm sorry that happened. She was a good asset. A good woman-"

"Asset," Randolph snorts: "See? You can't even stop thinking of people as things. So how am I supposed to-"

He shuts up the second the bullet hits the back of the wall over his bed.

"Now, if you're !@#$ing ready to listen to me?" SPYGOD asks, putting the small, trick gun back into his coat sleeve, where he's whipped it out of: "I never, ever pulled your damn strings, son. All you've ever done? All you ever will do? That's all you, son. All of it.

"Now, all I ever did? All I have ever !@#$ing done? That's try and keep you alive, son. Try and keep you from crashing and !@#$ing burning like everyone else I've ever brought into this !@#$.

"And the truth son?" he admits, deciding he's going to light up here after all -- !@#$ it, he just shot the wall: "I think I !@#$ing failed. I think in trying to keep you from turning into another Ben Graines I just... !@#$..."

"Ben Graines," Randolph says, nodding: "The guy who was assigned to you in Vietnam, right?"

"You heard of him?"

"Who !@#$ing hasn't?" the outlaw reporter says: "He's still taught as a lesson in Journalism school. Him and Hunter S. Thompson and a couple other people, held up as prime examples of why you can't let yourself become the damn story."

"Yeah," SPYGOD says, pulling out the pack and his lighter: "Except that he didn't start out that way. I !@#$ing broke him, son. I had him assigned to me so I could drag his pro-commie ass through the jungle and watch him lose pieces of himself."

"Why?" Randolph asks, clearly interested.

"Because he !@#$ing !@#$ed me off," the spy admits, lighting up and taking a long drag: "Because he called me a goddamn war pig. Because I saw the fire in his eyes and wanted to drop my pants, pull out my !@#$, and !@#$ all over them until his brains stopped burning and his mouth stopped working.

"And then, one day, I realized that I hadn't !@#$ing made him shut the hell up. I'd just turned him into me."

Randolph looks at him, then. Then he looks at the room's mirror, across from the bed -- low enough for him to look at his own face. The magnificent, cybernetic ruin at the back of his skull.

His missing eye, covered with a standard, black eyepatch.

"So, I'm you," Randolph says: "Is that what you're trying to !@#$ing say?"

"Aren't you?" SPYGOD asks, inhaling and exhaling -- speaking through a cloud of black, thick smoke: "Aren't you a goddamn master manipulator, now? Aren't you the man who won't !@#$ing stop for anything to get at the damn truth and use it? The man who can turn one of my agents and make him go rogue? Or can make a couple phone calls and make his own !@#$ing superteam?

"The man willing to !@#$ing kill anyone, anytime, to protect what's yours...?"

The outlaw reporter looks at him, his cybernetic eye clicking and whirring in its socket, and then nods: "Okay. Maybe I am. Maybe you !@#$ed me up and turned me into you-"

"No damn maybe about it, son. But it's not because I !@#$ing manipulated you. It's because I didn't."

They look at one another for a while. One of them blinks and looks away first, but neither is sure who.

"So what do we !@#$ing do, then?" Randolph asks: "Where do we go from here?"

"Well, I go back to DC and un!@#$ the !@#$ this new situation's left me with," the superspy says, standing up and blowing another cloud: "As well as deal with a few other !@#$ing lit fuses I gotta !@#$ on to put out. You know how things are."

"And me?"

"You?" SPYGOD says, pointing a finger: "You go back to that woman who loves you, and our kids, and you !@#$ing tell the truth for as long as you're able, loud as you can, and stay with them as long as you're lucky enough to have them in your damn life."

"We're gonna have to leave Prague," the outlaw reporter sighs: "The bastard knows where we are."

"Then you leave,"  SPYGOD says, tossing the spent cigarette in the nearest trash receptacle: "Stay !@#$ing mobile. Don't stay anywhere long enough for him to plant a damn bomb. Switch back and double track. You know the damn drill."

"Any other words of advice?" Randolph Scott asks.

"Yeah," the superspy says, turning in the doorway and holding up a finger: "Don't ever pull a !@#$ty stunt like this again. You might not understand this, but I have to safeguard the President's life with my own. Regardless of what I !@#$ing think of him. Even if they're !@#$ing terrible people.

"And if I have to choose between you putting a bullet into him, or me putting one into you...?"

He lets the point hang, and then turns to leave.

And he's well down the hallway -- arguing with hospital administrators about the gunfire -- before Randolph can think of a sufficiently-worthy comeback. 

Sunday: 9/4/16

The Loa finally step onto shore at New Jersey, of all places -- brown feet smoking as they touched down, white eyes blazing with ancient power as they surveyed their new world. 

Around them, the ghosts of their dead hurl through the air, screaming and laughing. They can smell new and healthy flesh, not too far away from the whirling edge of the storm. All they have to do is go out there and take it. 

But no sooner do they head in that direction, at the black urging of the Baron and his wife, than they stop in their tracks and speed back the way they came. 

"Qu'est-ce que c'est?" the old man says, adjusting the old, 19th century eyeglasses he wears and looking at the storms beyond.

"Better run run run run, run run run awayyyyy..." SPYGOD announces, marching out of the storms towards them, and carrying a very large handgun.

One that has a black, upside-down crucifix dangling from the butt.

"Qui es-tu, petit homme?" the Baron's wife asks.

"This is America, lady," the superspy chuckles, hefting the gun up at her: "Speak English or die."

The mother laughs, but stops laughing the moment a cursed bullet flies out of the gun and strikes her between the eyes -- not quite turning her head inside out, and dropping her horse to the ground. 

"I take it I got your !@#$ing attention?" SPYGOD says, watching as the other Loa step back from the body, and her spirit goes to join the other ghosts, flying around the storm: "Here's the deal. You want to come to America? You get in !@#$ing line and go through immigration. Cases like yours? You go through me.

"And believe me, the line is long, boring, and full of !@#$ing paperwork. So I hope you're prepared to wait."

"You do not scare us," the Old Man sneers: "You can only kill the flesh. The spirit is eternal. The Mysteries all powerful."

"Yeah, well, about that..." SPYGOD says, stepping to the side to let someone else come out and talk to them.

All the Loa gasp and step back, then, suddenly realizing what really sent their ghost storm into retreat. 

"Ah, such a banquet you have brought before me," Skull-faced Satanoth chuckles, raising his powerful and mighty hands to the wind-filled sky: "Such a thoughtful gift, my cousins! I do accept this meal in the name of better relations from here on out..."

And then, with one mighty breath, he both inhales and eats every single ghost that came riding on the storm -- including the Mother, who is as helpless as they are against his eternal hunger. 

"So," SPYGOD says, raising the gun once more and aiming it right at the Baron's forehead: "What's it going to be, mother!@#$er? Hell and damnation, or immigration?" 

The answer surprises no one, and as SPYGOD chuckles...

* * *

... Senator Cruz, looking strange in a space combat suit, addresses the cameras of the entire world at the foot of the Space Elevator -- gambling his entire political career on this stunt...

... as Myron watches, nearby, and hopes the less upstanding contingent of their away mission doesn't do or say anything stupid to ruin the man's moment...

... which the Candidate watches with some concern, and wonders if what that no-necked nobody from the RNC had to say was right, or just another empty threat...

... which King Whip takes into consideration, as he pulls into the worst parts of Detroit, in search of his old ally in dark magic -- who he hasn't heard from in far, far too long...

... while Martha calls into Chicago, making sure everything's okay with Green Fury and the Talon, as they've had to police the city all by themselves since she started looking after Thomas...

... who is standing up in his room, now -- unheard and unseen -- and chuckling at how easy it is to fool these mortals, and perform many crucial and complex actions between the blinks of their eyes...

... which the SPYGOD of Alter-Earth is ripping from his people's sockets in angry, shrieking rage -- unable to enter the Wandering Shadow's lair, for some reason, and knowing it means their understanding has somehow come to an end...

... which would amuse Randolph Scott to no end, except that he's trying to summon up the courage to tell Velma the truth, only to have that moment interrupted by their kids telling them something a lot harder to hear...

... like what Mister Freedom is having to tell the people at FAUST, after what he found in the President's Daughter's cell this morning -- that she's wearing her therapist, and might now be anywhere in the world...

* * *

... and SPYGOD grins again, thinking that he's got a handle on this !@#$ after all. 

He doesn't need anything from his doppelganger to deal with gods and their stupid bull!@#$. He's got friends and allies, tools and techniques. He's got people he can ask to help and people he can order around the chess board like pawns. 

He'll see this through. He'll make this work. One way or another, there will be no God War on his watch. 

He thinks that, anyway. 

(SPYGOD is listening to Hymn (Front 242) and having a Hairy Eyeball )

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