“So as you see, Dame, information on my enemies is ever so important,” I said over tea. I had Dame across my lap, like a dog or a cat or some other manner of pet. After ensuring her civility, I also had her physical form reverted back. When she didn’t look right without the blonde hair, I threw in a quick hair bleaching, too, and threw her across my lap. I rocked back and forth with her, alternating between idle chatter with her and speaking with my forces elsewhere as we rested in an armchair in what turned out to be a billiards room, complete with guest smoking jacket. So I sat there enjoying a spot of tea and my new pet’s warmth on my lap, while having a video conference in my head to catch up on local events.
During my captivity, Intel found some of my guys seizing items off incoming and outgoing shipments for personal gain. They’re dealing with the guys, some of whom were in Security and Military. What’s really interesting is that they found some power collars in the mix. Nobody reported bringing those through the island.
Ok, let’s recap a little. Things have been confusing, time’s passed, and we all need a reminder from time to time. I held a birthday party for my daughter and people started getting sick. That shouldn’t happen, because I put nanomachines in the water to keep them healthy. We discovered a disease someone created that affects the brains of people, resists efforts of the nanites to clear it out, and interacts with these collars. When someone with this disease gets one of these collars on them, they’re incapable of doing anything an unpowered human can’t do. Training’s still training, but it even stops me using my extra arms or my in-born ability as homo machina to connect to computers.
The people behind the disease and collars are the Three Hares. I raided them plenty of times, even got briefly captured. I’d say I almost forgot about the collars, but they wiped most of my memory for awhile, so I definitely forgot about the collars.
No matter what, these collars aren’t allowed anywhere on the island, something that didn’t need to be made a rule to be understood. And while I’m extremely lax about what’s brought in and what goes out, this is a different matter that someone should have reported. And my first instinct, that involves blowing ships sky high, but Pagan, the head of my Intelligence agency, has other ideas. The official liaison between myself and Intel is Hu, former head of the agency, and he had the task of talking me out of my desire to blow some boats sky high, like a fucking Sputnik. But no, it makes sense. Follow them back to where they came from.
That’s good. That gets us into infrastructure. Finds me more assets of these Three Hares guys. Because so far, the only thing I really have on these guys are where they’re keeping people. The Munich compound, for instance. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.
And that brings me back to the present, which I relay to you now in the past tense because it was only the present at the time. I held Dame, her brain having been messed with quite a bit. I could tap into her memories and see the delicate treatment she faced at the hands of my people. I was glad to see they kept Qiang out of it. I cut out after she got a boot to the stomach from Max. Dame wasn’t much of a fighter. But she’s not entirely who I thought she was either.
She was one of the kids. Not one of the “gods” who are just the really powerful supers with some form of immortality. All that stuff about being gods, the kids all know it’s bullshit. It’s what they were thought to be, once upon a time. When they had temples and cults dedicated to them. Before the aliens crashed, and the groups fought before working things out and hiding to avoid extermination by aliens. But the terms are all ingrained. Gods for the really strong ones, folks who’d be up there with Spinetingler or Captain Lightning if anyone knew about them.
Then there were the demigods, like regular heroes, and capable of infiltrating the superhero and villain worlds. Finally, you have the unpowered family members of the gods and demigods. Dame had been one of those, part of a New England branch. It goes back to how craziness is for poor people; when you’re wealthy, it’s called eccentricity. Old-school aristocrats are allowed to keep to themselves.
She acted out by stealing. Got good at it eventually.
I remember when I saw the news of an explosion in a suburb. Sitting in some diner after relieving a drug dealer of his stash. Didn’t know what I was going to do with it. Took a noseful for myself, but I didn’t like partying that way after that time I woke up at a dipshit’s house without my bra. Lindsey brought me there and told me to chill. I left that punk’s sorry ass behind. He called me later, a lot of times, but I ignored him.
So I’m in this diner, drowning a coke hangover with the best coffee. The news flash came up. Some dumbass in Golden Oaks blew his house up. Or Shady Willows. Hmm. If some survivalist blew up his house planning to blow up a courthouse or a Planned Parenthood, there might be good guns around. I bet I could get in there and steal whatever rifle he’d been jacking off to from under the cops’ noses.
They evacuated most of the families by the time I got there. They had vans, people in hazmat suits, buses, but weren’t too pushy with the lawyers and soccer moms. These people want to speak to your manager!
My dirtbike had been in rougher scrapes than the backyard sandboxes could give me. The house that exploded wasn’t hard to find. It was the one that wasn’t there anymore. I cut my bike a couple yards over and climbed fences so the cops wouldn’t be onto me. Tied my hair up and hid it under a violet bandana and zipped my black jacket up to hide my Taylor Swift t-shirt. The sun would be up in an hour, so I needed to get in and out so I could get home.
The house was wrecked, but enough of the walls stood to keep the cops out front from seeing me. There was a basement door in the backyard, blown off the hinges from where it connected to the house. I saw flashlights moving around down there. FML, right? I turned to check out the shed he had there and saw the beast of a lock on the door. Fuck it, I’d been reading how to do that and watching videos. I didn’t give a crap about school, but stealing gave me money the parental units didn’t control. Turned out I liked studying locks. It was so easy to find a lockpick set for sale, too.
“I kissed a girl and I liked it,” I sang quietly to myself. I hated that song since it came out last month, but I knew my mom would freak if I talked about kissing other girls. My dad almost choked on his OJ when he first heard me sing along. Then I got the song stuck in my head for real.
I thought the lock would put up more of a fight than it did but it was so awesomesauce doing that! This wasn’t a cheap padlock like the drug dealers had. This one had girth. I dropped the lock on the ground and opened the door.
I couldn’t see real well in the darkness, but I stepped inside and closed the door behind me. I turned around fast, in case something was in there with me, and kept an eye on the darkness while I reached for my flashlight. The small light’s LEDs lit up a work table on the opposite wall, and a pair of wood shelves built into the shed on either side.
I saw wires and shit. No guns. Like, electronics and other crap, but nobody wants to buy someone’s homemade vibrator. I opened the door to go when, I noticed lights aimed at the wall of the shed next to the door.
“Hey!” someone called out.
Shit, shit, shit, shit!
I closed the door, quick, then cursed to myself. I could have tried to run, but now they’ll catch me. I won’t get in permanent trouble. The family and the gods make sure of that. But shit, I’ll never hear the end of it if they get me. I reached around, shining my light. Maybe I could slip something in the door latch… oh yeah, that’s outside. Cockgobbler!
I looked around with my light and saw something glint. It was like a net sleeve made of wires and it gave me an idea. I slid it on and raised it up as the door opened. “Don’t come any closer or I’ll zap you with my super high tech death beam gauntlet!” I yelled. I closed my fist and hit a button on the inside of it, and suddenly I was dropping through the ground.
Oh my god, I screamed so hard. I couldn’t grab onto anything and I saw all sorts of freaky shit, like bugs and skeletons. I was clawing at the anything to climb up and I somehow came up in the backyard behind that house I’d been in. As soon as I got to the surface, I pushed that button again and clamped my mouth shut. I put both hands over my mouth and ran for my bike.
That’s the day I… fuck, she graduated to demigod. I was doing that the entire time, wasn’t I?
“Ugh,” I said, putting my hand to my face and shaking blonde hair out of my face. That caused me to roll out off of the person I’d been sitting on… damn. I looked down and realized I’d done it again. A moment later, I blinked with my real eyes, or at least the cybernetic replacements I use instead and stood next to Dame. I released her from my mental grasp for a moment and caught her as she fell, weeping. And there was that feeling I get sometimes when part of me doesn’t like what I’m doing. It’s been stronger since my memories got flushed and then returned.
I left her to rest, her still not wanting to talk to me. But, I mean, she gets a much nicer cell now, with good food and everything. With her skills, it’s not like it’d be difficult for her to escape from the residence. The difference is my being able to control her from anywhere around. That’s really handy for trust.
It’s why I had no issue sleeping in the same building as her, with my family there. It’s why I didn’t even worry when I left her there the next day and headed to the military base to oversea the briefing and departure of a raid team aimed at blowing open a hole in the wall of the Three Hares Munich compound. And it’s probably why Max left me a “Thinking Of You” card where he wrote, “We need to talk about how nuts you’ve been since coming back.”
Which I’d grabbed and read using Dame’s body because I was busy on the toilet at the time.
They’re called priorities, people.