It’s been a bad week. See if you can keep up.
Wednesday, I drank a lot. That’s not the bad part. The bad part is when I realized I should probably get away from my penthouse. It’s almost October and I had an assassin disappear in my building. I must be spending too much time thinking about business, because it took me way too long to realize she was still in the building. I swear, I’d lose my own mind if it wasn’t attached.
She could have been just waiting to sneak into my bathroom while I was in the shower, dressed as Norman Bates’ mother. What, you don’t shower in a wig? How do you think George Washington stayed so pasty before the invention of computers?
…and showers, come to think of it. So now, the question remains…what was George Washington spending all his time doing in the dark? I accessed my list of “Suspected Historical Vampires” and added Washington to the list. The bastard’s been hiding under my nose this entire time! He’s even known for crossing the Delaware…a famous night attack.
So yeah, I figured out that the telepath didn’t leave the building, so she probably has someone mind controlled. It could be anybody who has access to an area she could sleep in and provide food for her. Anyone could be a spy.
…so it’s probably security. They were the ones I specifically asked to look for her, so they’re subverted.
Yep, I got a hold of Carl and had him assemble a team of rustlers, cut throats, murderers, bounty hunters, desperados, mugs, pugs, thugs, nitwits, halfwits, dimwits, vipers, snipers, con men, Indian agents, Mexican bandits, muggers, buggerers, bushwhackers, hornswogglers, horse thieves, bull dykes, train robbers, bank robbers, ass-kickers, shit-kickers, “…and Methodists!”
“Sure thing, boss. What for?” he asked.
“The security force has been compromised. Trust none of them but Vasquez. And even then, keep an eye out. Anyone with an allergy could tell you vegetables are plenty dangerous. I once de-nosed a man with nothing but a sharpened stalk of broccoli.”
“And you don’t even want to know what I did to the President of Oman using nothing but a handful of sweaty nuts!”
Carl got the picture, which is good because I have my doubts about nuts counting as vegetables. As little as I trust veggies, I trust them even less when they have their own protein. It’s like trusting a human with their own chlorophyll…which brings us to Sigma Labs and Technolutionary. Perhaps he can study why I’m using so many ellipses today.
Just as soon as he finds me my T-Rex! Fortune Cookie called me up Thursday and informed me the labs had been attacked. After that, I figured I’d get Technolutionary on the phone and get the news straight from the horse’s mouth. I don’t know where he got the horse, but somehow he’d converted its head into a mechanical secretary.
I should have told Technolutionary not to abduct and robotify people around the labs in case he drew attention to it. I just didn’t expect that helmet of his to press so hard in on his head that it squeezed his brain out his ass. So he picked up one too many of the homeless, he thinks. Wildflower stopped by, getting past the robot barracks and down into the cloning lab. That’s just fine with me. Robots shouldn’t need their own barracks, especially robots that can’t even beat up a plant girl.
That’s not even that bad of news, actually. Fuck his robots. I don’t want Technolutionary’s robots except as cannon fodder. No, Wildflower did something much worse than that.
Bitch stole my T-rex!
Dr. Horrible just wanted a working freeze ray, Dr. Evil just wanted frickin’ sharks with frickin’ laser beams attached to their frickin’ heads, and I just wanted to ride my own personal fire-breathing T-rex with laser eyes and a morning-star attached to its tail. But noooooooooo! Apparently the thought of a madman riding around a city with his own pet T-rex is just too much for protectors of all that is good and decent, so I get the shaft of justice again!
That damn hero rammed her way inside and shoved her meaty justice down my throat in the hope that I would taste only defeat! Well, that’s not how I roll. I’d sooner spit it all back in her face than swallow what she’s done to me!
Easier said than done. I got ninety-nine problems and a bitch for each one.
To top it all off, Friday happened. Oh, Friday. Not my girl Friday, that’s for sure. Technically, Crash would be my girl Friday. She’s out of commission now, too.
I’d found my office and Crash was updating me on all the various things I’ve missed, both because of my lack of time and giveable shits. Suddenly, the door blew open from a breaching charge, almost deafening me. Crash ducked behind her chair but I stood up and pulled her over the desk just before someone opened up from the outside of the smoke-filled portal. With Crash safely behind a very solid mahogany desk, I poked my head up. “Ok, I’ll play along. Who’s there?”
The first one through the gap wore the black and blue jumpsuit of Double Cross security and carried a submachine gun. I powered up my laser eye and lobotomized him even as more shoved past him into the room. Three more opened up with suppressing fire on the desk.
Unlike the incessantly-screaming Crash, I noticed I was laughing. Well, yeah. This was right up my alley. I knew this. This was easy. I grabbed a sharpened pencil that had fallen off the desk in preparation for a magic trick. If only I had a set of those little balls that knock back and forth…
Before I could go to work, the firing stopped. “Still alive, Miss Mortenson?” asked a voice I’d started to become familiar with.
A quick glance confirmed it. “Suffering a wee bit of mind control are we, Ben?” My chief of security dressed more tactically than the others, wearing a vest and wielding a shotgun with a revolver-style drum.
He glanced back out the door. “You’ve got this all wrong. She’s working for me. You should be careful how you treat a man’s friends. Paul and I went way back. So did some of those men you let that T-rex son of a bitch carry off to jail for kidnapping.”
I blackened the tip of the pencil with my laser. “Is that just the justification you’re using for whatever mind mojo the telepath did to you? Did she get you when you picked her up, or some time after that?”
“No. I staged the fracas down at the lab to get her out, and held up attempts to warn you, but she failed. Still, she is handy to have around. Isn’t that right?” he sounded like he’d called back out of the room. Instead of getting an answer, I heard someone hit the ground hard.
So did they. Ben and the three men in his office turned on the doorway. Before I could sneak up on them and practice my stabbing, another of my security team flew into the room and thumbed on the floor, skidding and no doubt gaining an awful rug burn. Venus soon bounded into the room, a picture of ferocious grace as she entered a melee with two of the guards in my office. Ben and the third guard slipped through the doorway while she was occupied.
Great, Venus has arrived to stop me from killing these motherfuckers. My hero. And, since I’m supposed to be rich and/or entitled, I have to sit back and let her do all the fighting.
When she finished disabling the last guard in the room with what I can only describe as a blunt piledriver gauntlet to the balls, she put her back to the wall beside the door and asked us, “Are you alright?”
I checked on my assistant “You good, Crash?” Wide-eyed, she nodded. “We’re good!” I called out to Venus. “Ben’s attempting a coup and the assassin from last time is working with him! She’s a telepath and extremely dangerous. I recommend shooting first and asking questions later.”
“That’s not how I work. I’m going to go out and bring them down. I recommend staying here until this entire situation is locked down.” She didn’t even wait before running out the doorway.
“Well, fuck that shit,” I said, though it was a bad idea. Crash grabbed hold of my arm to keep me down. When I didn’t stay, she stood up with me, still holding onto my arm as I stepped out past groaning guards more concerned with nursing broken bones and balls or getting their wind back.
I was oh so tempted to finish them off, but Venus would probably try to keep track of all of them. You can’t just murder someone who’s disarmed and helpless. You have to go to Florida first and shout “Ned, they’re coming right for us!”
See? This secret identity stuff is bullshit.
I didn’t have the entire floor for my office. Other senior offices were spread out over the floor too, each one having quite a bit of room. We caught up to Venus squaring off with the telepath in one of them and waited by a nearby corner behind Venus’s back. The assassin looked to be in even worse shape than I last saw her. I don’t think Ben Rayman has been quite so accommodating an ally as she hoped for, and I saw desperation in her eyes.
She fired wildly at Venus, hardly aiming between cocking the gun and squeezing the trigger. Venus tried to keep the armor on the exoskeleton between her and the other woman as much as possible, until the gun cocked one last time and fired no more. The woman reversed her grip, holding it like a club. “I don’t want to do this,” she said, voice trembling.
“Then don’t,” Venus told her, straightening up so as to not look threatening.
Well, that wouldn’t be good. Just surrendering? Then again, it’s not like Venus would kill her anyway, and it’s problematic for me to arrange a death at the time. I realized I needed to work on a cover story.
Well, hell, Ben being behind it solved all that. I could blame it all on him and his rogue elements. They kidnapped her, tried to use her to kill me without being connected to it, and finally resorted to doing the deed themselves when she failed and I began to suspect something.
“No, no, no, no, no. You don’t know what they did, they did to ME!” Wow, that telepath’s really been under a lot of stress. That’s why it pays to sedate your kidnapped human experimental subjects, folks. You never know when a mental breakdown is going to throw off your results.
Venus held up her hands. “I won’t hurt you. I’m not one of them. I’m one of the good guys.”
I poked my head out behind Venus far enough where I hoped the telepath would see it. She gritted her teeth and tried to shoot in Venus’s direction again, then held a hand to her head. “Get out of my way!” she screamed. Venus held her own head and leaned against the wall to keep her balance.
The assassin bolted for me. Just as she passed Venus, the heroine held out her arm and clotheslined her. The telepath went down hard and lost her concentration. Venus recovered enough to grab hold of her before she could recover her, wrapping her arms around the telepath’s neck from behind in a rear naked choke.
Ah, the sleeper hold. If done properly, pressure on the carotid reduces blood flow to the brain and induces unconsciousness within a few seconds. Do it too long and it causes death instead.
I had an idea. I grabbed my head and stumbled out into the hall, screaming. Crash tried to steady me as she asked what was wrong. A bit unintentionally, I stepped wrong with a heel and crashed into a wall before sliding down the wall.
“Stop it!” Venus growled at the telepath. “Stop it now!”
I thought it was going to work. I thought she’d hold the choke longer if she thought the telepath was still conscious and attacking me. And she did lag, just a bit. Long enough? Time will have to tell. She let go a little late, but she did let go and glanced at me. “You cut it out, too.”
I eased off, keeping up the act of having been telepathically attacked. Venus whipped out some plastic ties and secured the assassin. “You and I need to talk once this is over. About Sigma Labs, about Double Cross Chemical Research Laboratory, and about Stang.”
“You’re right,” I gasped. “Ben Rayman has been busy. I never even noticed what’s been going on.”
“Right,” Venus said. I don’t think she believed me.
“Liar!” yelled Ben from back the way I came. Crash took one look and curled up in a ball next to me. He had me dead to rights, but at least he only had a handgun. The relative inaccuracy of a one-handed grip weapon versus a two-hander is a minor advantage at best at such close range, but it’s one I’d gladly take, especially since the gun he’d had before was a shotgun.
Time doesn’t usually stand quite so still for me when I’m staring down death, but this time it did. Or maybe he just took a shitload of time. I think I caught a smile on his face out of the corner of my view of his gun. Unfortunately for Ben, it was time enough either way. I dialed the power on my eye laser down. Waaaaaay down. Down to the range of laser pointers, which don’t show a visible beam but do create a red dot at their endpoint that can affect the human eye. In Ben’s case, it forced him to flinch and close his eye. I grabbed Crash and threw myself at the other end of the hall, pulling at least her upper body to safety too. I stood up, waiting for him to come around the corner so I could take him out at close range.
Professional that he was, Ben shot me through the wall, putting a nice blossom of red on my blouse around the hole in both the fabric and my midsection. I pushed on the wound immediately, and gave a belated cry at the pain. Not acting, it just took me a moment to get around to it. Pain’s inconvenient like that. Another caught me higher up and knocked the air out of me. I couldn’t find enough air to say anything smart. Or even anything dumb.
This time, when Ben came around the corner and I looked down the barrel, I was already sliding down the wall. And, like many a bleeding woman before me, I was pissed. I reached out and dug my nails into his wrist and pressed it against the wall so he couldn’t adjust his aim. I threw my head at his nose as hard as I could, hearing the break as more pain erupted in my skull. Join the club.
I reached into my suit pocket and pulled out the pencil. I slammed it into his jugular with enough force to send us both sprawling.
I rolled off has his hot blood spurted out, gasping but still breathing. After a second, I saw Crash and Venus both standing overhead. Ignoring Venus, I said, “Crash, hold my calls.”
When I awoke, it was in my penthouse and feeling good as new, though still in the same bloody clothes. Carl, Crash, and Moai stood nearby. “Shit, Carl, tell me you didn’t bring Venus up here.”
“I told you it would work,” Carl said to Crash.
Crash sighed, her whole body relaxing. “That’s amazing! Oh my god, when he said to send Venus away and help bring you up here, I thought he was off his rocker. Don’t worry, she’s not around. Emergency services are below, collecting her prisoners.”
And that’s where I stand currently. Venus is keeping an eye on me and knows something is up at my labs. I don’t know what she meant about Stang, but I’m better off assuming she knows he didn’t attack me. Until I can arrange for an accidental sword through the gut, she’s even got access to my former security team and the telepath. She might even know I’m not a baseline human. I have a cover story, but that’s not immunity from suspicion.
I’d better bone up on my mud wrestling, because I think this one’s going to turn into a girl fight.