Seeing as I’d appeared to slow down and enjoy the sights in our trip, the excitement that marked our earlier movement abated. It wasn’t entirely a bad thing. People had time to think about the actual attack, which sounds like a bad thing for most people. I’d much rather they chicken out before we get there and the front line decides they’d rather be fifty feet behind me.
We also got more volunteers. They trickle in here and there, some useful as bullet shields, others actually capable in a fight. There’s a militia that thinks the government is working with the aliens and the devil. They don’t get along well with the Moonies for some reason. A handful of small town supers like Shadowcrawler.
They were all a bit surprised when, on a detour from the epic showdown with the aliens, I decided to visit a tourist attraction. I could have gone with the world’s biggest ball of aluminum foil, or perhaps the popcorn capital of the Midwest, or even the world’s only existing sculpture of Jesus giving the Sermon on the Mount carved entirely out of various cheeses. No, instead, I visited South Dakota’s most famous tourist attraction: the United States’ biggest ball of exhumed Native American bones. I’d make a comment here about them having bad taste to throw that exhibit together, but you have to remember the tongues are all rotted away. And, technically, it means they don’t have to worry about being on an old Indian burial ground.
While the rest of the bunch explored and purchased commemorative bones from the gift shop, I had a special lunch with Max, Moai, Holly, and Sam. Not special in terms of being all that grand, though and day when I make my fetuccini alfredo is a good one. Nah, this was special because I trusted these folks over all the rest.
“This is ridiculous,” Sam said, watching some of the Moonies swordfighting with what we all assumed were fake bones. “Why did you want all of us to sit together today?”
Max cocked his head to the side, looking at my helmet. I’d taken to wearing it more and more, both as a precaution and to hide some of my distractedness as the Kingscrow Trio worked on the problem of the alien storms. He looked like he had something to say, but he didn’t get around to it.
Instead, I slipped off my helmet, shook out my hair, and started chowing down on a bowl of pasta. After getting a little in me, I gave them an answer without looking up. “To let you know what’s going on. Why we’re not in Empyreal City already.”
“Because you’re waiting for more people?” suggested Sam.
Holly offered, “You’re scared?”
Max responded to them with a stage whisper, “It’s a trap.”
“Ding ding ding, we have a winner.” I really didn’t want to speak. I make a mean alfredo. “It’s gotta be.”
“Then where are we going to fight them instead?” asked Holly, carefully picking through her plate so as to avoid getting my creamy white sauce all over her clothes.
“There,” I answered, nodding. “In Empyreal City. We’re going to spring the trap, but I want to figure out what all it’s going to be first. My guess is that it has something to do with the rain, first.”
Max steepled his fingers. “Yes, if I had such power and wished to conquer earth, I would let it rain all at once.” He pointed at me. “So why haven’t they?”
“Well, I have an idea on that, but it assumes they’re smart bastards who bothered to learn about Earth. I mean, they may be alien, but I can at least figure out some of why they are doing what they are doing based on what they are doing. After all, when someone pulls a knife on you, it’s reasonable to assume they don’t like you and would like to express that in an unhealthy way. Unhealthy for you, preferably.”
I looked between the group, who waited for me to go on.
“Right, so they opened up the barrier. That’s a sign there. They want me to come to them, and they even goaded me with Venus. Why? What do they have to gain?” I dipped a garlic knot in the sauce and took a bite before continuing. “What they always have to gain: us. A large force of people, powered and unpowered, who want to resist the aliens so hard that we’d throw ourselves at them. And any military forces that show up to assist us.”
“They’re suckering us in,” Holly summed it up.
I nodded. “Beats the hell out of gassing everyone now that they’re here, only to find that the world’s leaders and militaries were hidden in Cold War bunkers meant to survive nuclear fallout or ready with MOPP gear to fight back. I mean, let’s be honest,” I pointed with my fork toward where the militia practiced sloppy marching, “These guys are worthless compared to the crew of one aircraft carrier, one nuclear bomber, or even a tank. A few rifles compared to a submarine packed full of intercontinental ballistic missiles? It’s no contest, and to believe otherwise is to be as crazy as those fuckers right there in their hunting camo.”
Moai leaned over and nudged me on the shoulder. I turned to look at him, then at a pad in front of him where he’d written the word, “So?”
“So, I have a team out there trying to figure out how they do their alien rain dance. It’s all last-minute, and they don’t even know they’re working for me. We’ve ruled out planes and their own ships.”
“What about those weather buoys in Paradise City?” Sam asked.
I shrugged. “They could make it rain, yes, but that manipulates things like temperature, density, ions. It doesn’t add completely new stuff to the air that isn’t naturally occuring.”
“Do you know that it isn’t done that way?” Max asked. “Or do you assume it isn’t?”
“Ass, you, me,” said Holly, referencing some saying about assuming, rather than extending an invitation.
Moai scribbled more on his pad, then held it up. “Still no mind control organ chemicals.”
“I wouldn’t put it beyond the scope of their abilities to manipulate the chemistry of the air and create that substance. In all likelihood, the elements used are on Earth already. They just have to be put together in the correct way.”
I shook my head. “I’m not buying it.”
“Why?” asked Max, leaning forward.
I stopped to think on it. “…I mean, if they could make that stuff localized with hidden machines all over the planet, why use the rain? Why not sneak one close to the White House, turn all the air into a cloud of that stuff, and so on?”
Sam added her two cents again. “Do you know they haven’t?”
“Captain Lightning is there. He’d know.”
Max looked me straight in the eyes, losing his smile for the moment. “What if he’s one of them?”
“I trust that he isn’t.” Sam made a face as I said it, while Max shook his head and smiled.
Pretty preppy Holly is the one who dared ask, “When did you start trusting heroes?”
I glared at them and didn’t say anymore, thinking about how much of a point they had. I was being a bit too trusting despite knowing about all the infiltration.
Max broke up my reverie. “Try satellites. If it looks like any other satellite, they could drop a package from space that opens at the right altitude to influence rain.”
I nodded and murmered my thanks.
Over at the Long Life corporate headquarters in Kingscrow, Forcelight looked up suddenly from her, Good Doctor’s, and Lone Gunman’s examination of maps and other wide-ranging charts to exclaim. “Space! The final frontier…”
Good Doctor ahemmed patiently, as he had to do a few times in our association together.
“Satellites. They could have satellites up there dropping something to cause the rain.”
“Like a chemical weapon,” Gunman added.
The Good Doctor put his hand on Forcelight’s shoulder. “The field of debris orbitting the Earth would hide it. From what you told me, perhaps they hijacked pre-existing satellites. Brilliant idea, sweetie.”
I really didn’t care for Doc acting all fatherly toward me. It’s been weirding me out, though I know it’s because I’m controlling his daughter’s body.
“Good. Now what do we do about it?” asked Gunman impatiently.
I hopped up and walked over to the company landline on Forcelight’s office desk. I never bothered to memorize her secretary’s name, so as soon as someone picked up, I ordered them, “Get me the number for that company trying to do the private spaceflight, Vesta Aerospace!”
With that problem solved, I thought I could rest easy. We moved on from the bone exhibit and got well out of town before we crowded around some other small town’s various highway hotels and motels. I could have slept in the car just fine, but Moai insisted on keeping watch on it, which would also allow him a good view of my room so as to keep an eye on me.
Everyone let me have a room to myself, no one daring to suggest they keep me warm after this one Moonie offered to give me the smoothest anal probe I’d ever felt. He held up one of the fake bones for emphasis. After I tested out just how good the souvenir was on his ass first, I decided to show him that it could also be used to check the tonsils and throat like one of those tongue sticks the doctors use. He just about ate a bar of soap getting clean again.
Imagine my surprise when I was rousted from my sleep by a familiar voice coming from a familiar mohawked head that I could barely make out in what little light penetrated the motel room’s gloom. Sam settled onto the bed and kissed me as she finished securing my right wrist to the bedpost. I would have stopped her, but my left one was already tied as well.
I didn’t remember Sam being that stealthy, and I that’s with me in one of my more paranoid moods.
She grabbed my chin and pushed my head back against the pillow so I couldn’t see her as she leaned down. I gripped whatever straps she used to hold my arms out when her wet tongue trailed over my throat.
“Gonna be honest here, Sam, I didn’t think you were into this sort of thing with me.”
She giggled, still keeping me from seeing her. “Mm, tying you up and killing you? I’ve wanted to do it for a long time.”
Her nails dug into my skin even as what I had assumed was a tongue now gently flicked over my throat, drawing blood.
Not to sound like the History channel here, but my first assumption was aliens.
Unfortunately for Sam, whether some altered real one or alien copy, my nails were much stronger than hers. Blackened zirconium. They cut through the straps like they were all the tissues now being discarded by any bondage fetishist readers. Well, unless they’re into this sort of thing too.
I brought both fists right at her. One knocked into a much harder body than Sam should have while the other hit her on one of her elbows and forced her to give up some leverage. It was enough for me to angle my face toward her and fire off a stream from my laser eye. “Eat light amplification through stimulated emissions of radiation, bitch!”
It glanced through the side of her head as she rolled, using her grip to drag me to the floor. She tried to wrap herself around me, but I continued to roll and got her upper body off me. From the feeling of the spikes that dug into my waist from her legs, it was a good call, and it allowed me to carve off her head. I heard something splatter in the dark of night. The smell betrayed a lack of blood coming from her, as did the amount of spray from what should have been a cauterized wound.
I sat up and pushed, wrenching her off of me with a hell of a lot of pain borne of dragging spikes. I saw her get onto her hands and knees and forced myself to jump on her upper body, pushing her down. I raised up just before her back got as horny as her grasping legs had become, and grabbed her where women tend not to have any spikes: right between the legs.
With one hand in her ass crack and the other in her neck hole, I threw her against the side of the bed and tried to pin her there. She sliced the air back at me with hands that had somehow become blades. Whatever this body was, and I couldn’t see it too well, it wasn’t covered in skin.
“Ok,” I told the assassin as I held it against the bed by its ass. “We can either skip the killing and go right to the sex with a headless body, or…” A spray of black slammed into my face, almost forcing me to lose my grip. I avoided it by firing the eye laser again and keeping it on until the thing in front of me stopped. When it did, I grinned and told her, “Fine, we’ll do everything in order then.” I cackled as, mindful of the spikes, I grabbed the body’s feet and forced them apart.
Now, between all that noise, it was rather surprising no one had ran into to join me already, but I discovered when I bounced out the door of my room that they had noticed and were gathered around in confusion. The sight of me using a humanoid body like a pogo stick, with my foot jammed up its ass to push a vaguely gem-like core against the ground as I bounded, only made that confusion worse. And it didn’t help at all that said body was headless, with clear skin that showed black fluid inside.
After a couple good cracks on the parking lot, the core split and the whole body spasmed and died in my grip. My new toy broken, I settled back down with an “Aww.”
“What the fuck?” asked a nearby Sam and Holly simultaneously. Max yawned and approached behind them.
I helped myself off my impromptu ride and walked over, stealing a kiss from Sam. She slapped me, getting black gunk and blood on her hand, but I just told her, “They really did their research on their doppelganger.”
I laughed to myself as I walked back, ignoring the crowd around me and the sound of Sam spitting up and yelling, “Seriously, what the fuck?!”
At least, until I slipped on my own blood and fell, rather painfully reminded that the stitch in my sides wasn’t due to exertion so much as attempted execution. “Medic!”