Update: it didn’t mean what I thought it meant.
I know, I said awhile back I was going to cut down on sleeping round. I won’t deny sex is fun, but it’s not the driving thing in my life and it can be used to delegitimize my rule. Just imagine if someone pops up pretending to be my kid and taking the throne from my daughter? Can’t have that.
But, ya know, it’s a timeline that’s going to be erased without affecting mine. Y’all think I’d be a running around as a superhero if I thought any of this would survive outside my own writing?
Anyway, I dropped some roses off for Rabbit. She came running up to me later, waving them around. It was hard to make out her meaning since the only word she said was, again, “Rabbit!” I turned my hand over and showed her where the rabbit drawing had been and she threw the flowers in my face. Puzzled, I turned and saw some teenagers watching me, one of them nodding and smiling before seeing all his friends shaking their heads and changing his reaction to match.
“Can everybody understand her but me?” I asked, pointing after Rabbit with one hand.
The guy who’d been smiling slid over beside me, running his hand through is hair. “I’d be more ‘n happy to give you oral lessons if you’d like.”
“You mean vocal?” I asked, adding one of my hands to the one moving through his head-based human fur.
“Right, my B. Slip of the tongue,” he said, winking, then wincing.
My other three hands motioned to the teen as he struggled. “Behold, the mighty hair follicle. Watch as even a handful are capable of holding the weight of a human body. Now, one caveat, this hurts like hell for the person being held this way. Side effects may include early male-pattern baldness, irritability, nausea, upset stomach and,” I dropped him. “erectile dysfunction.”
I took a bow when the clapping started.
Anyway, no big deal on not getting anywhere with Rabbit.
The next morning, when it should have been too early to count it as a new day, I was awoken by a strange man jumping out of my closet and setting off my closet bear trap. I sat up and immediately threw a ceramic knife I’d hidden in my pillow at the person. Douglas Blackstone looked up from his trapped leg to the knife sticking out of the other one. “What’s wrong with you?” he asked around the spurting blood.
I shrugged. “It stopped you from barging into my room in the middle of the night, didn’t it?” I asked. It occurred to me this was a neat way to get around the magical prohibition on hurting him. I scooted off the bed. “Here to give in and request my help?”
“Yes! Now get me out of this!”
I sent a signal off to Mobian and proceeded to help free the bear trap from having to chow down on Blackstone. “Darn human. Why’s it so hard to keep your fluids inside you?” I tied off the wounds on his legs and sat him down.
“Blood is everywhere,” he said, looking around.
“Eh, you get used to it, even the coppery taste. You ever wonder why we call it a coppery taste instead of saying copper tastes like blood?”
“What’s the plan? Who is Mobian? Do we have to wait a long time for him?”
“I’m holding off on the plan until Mobian gets here, but it shouldn’t take long.” A light flooded the window outside my room. I stepped over and opened it.
Mobian poked his head through. “Hello. Oh, you’re not dressed yet.”
I shrugged and grabbed a bag I’d sat beside the window. “I got my bug-out bag here. Has everything I need to go rogue.” I turned and looked at Blackstone. “Blackstone, this is Mobian. Mobian, this is the shit stain that messed up time. Let’s see about solving this little problem, eh?”
The trip didn’t take long. Mobian’s timeship walks all over spacetime like a dominatrix over a submissive’s chest. More than enough time to change into an outfit more befitting a prison break. “Ok, here’s the plan. For all its ability to project power beyond conventional means using superhumans and higher technology than most bother with, Ricca doesn’t have as much infrastructure as you’d expect. Much more limited space than, say, North Korea, so they find ways around it. Can you bring up a satellite view of them?”
Mobian pressed a few buttons and a top-down vision of Ricca filled the air in front of us. I pointed to a few buildings. “Much like Argentina, they frequently use detention centers hidden under regular buildings. Under the hospital, under a well-known mechanics’ shop, those sorts of places. It adds a degree of paranoia. People know some of the buildings around them are doing this. They don’t know if they’ll be grabbed. Don’t know if the place they get their favorite foods from has someone in the basement. It’s either care and become exhausted, or become numb to the whole mess. Other than that, the main dedicated prison’s on the military base.”
Mobian raised a question. “What about North Korea? They control it in this timeline as well.”
I shrugged. “They had an arrangement with North Korea, paying the Democratic People’s Republic to hold excess political prisoners. What they sent was a mixed force of special forces and superhumans mixed with a bunch of people unhappy with the Kim regime. The camps were demolished. Still are.”
“How do you know that?” Blackstone asked.
I pointed to my head. “This world is woefully behind on network security. Plus, I already know full-well how their encryption works and how the key cycles. Riccan Internal Security forces lodged a complaint five days ago when the Foreign Service handed over a load of prisoners under Nontreatment Orders. Fancy way of saying they shouldn’t torture these guys. They’re here,” I pointed to a garage. “Someone working for the Claw drives in to get their car services, leave with fewer passengers. Loud noises are good cover. Plus, lots of car batteries and jumper cables for fun.”
“Bastards!” Blackstone said. He stood up and clutched at his legs. “Fuck!”
“Sit down. You wouldn’t be part of this even if you weren’t hurt,” I said. To Mobian, I said, “This thing got a stealth setting or are we putting on Christmas lights?”
I heard a whiz and a few bloops as he pushed buttons. “We’re dark, and now we’re just above the shop. Will the roof suit your needs?”
I nodded and finished pulling on the repaired Riccan outfit I fled with, which would blend in better than all black during the day. I dropped out the door and rolled upon landing. I looked back up and saw nothing but clear skies.
I dropped off the side of the building and headed around for the bay.
“Hey!” called someone in clean coveralls and immaculately clean hands.
I nodded to him. “I”m here from Foreign Service. I’m here for one of our prisoners.”
He looked to one of the other mechanics, a bigger guy holding a large crescent wrench. “Tell me who you’re looking for and I’ll get them for you.”
I sneered. “I’m not waiting on you and your boyfriend. This needs to be done now, not in an hour.” I walked up to him, then pushed past to go into the office. He tried to grab my shoulder, so I turned around, grabbed his elbow, and threw him to the ground. I turned and glared at the one with the wrench. “I’ll be retrieving my prisoner now.”
It wasn’t that well-hidden. The trap door was in the office. One flight of stairs down, I was in a corridor lit by a fluorescent light fixture. It was claustrophobic down there; there wasn’t room to move two at a time. Not a bad way to build a place if you’re worried a group of tired prisoners might revolt. I came to a room with a couple of men in dirtier coveralls. One stared at a bank of computer monitors, while the other washed his hands at a cheap sink against the wall.
“Who are you?” asked the one at the sink. He grabbed a knife and turned to me.
“Foreign Service. I’m here for one of my prisoners and I’m tired of explaining this.”
The two men shared a look. “Fucking foreign service,” he said. “Tell us your ID number at least, so we have something to put down on the form.”
I rattled off an active number for a woman in the service. Even in this timeline, it wouldn’t be unusual for the Claw to have an agent given plastic surgery.
The one at the monitor looked me over, “You don’t recognize me?”
The one at the sink swung for my neck. I caught his wrist and threw him onto the table. An elbow to the throat crushed his windpipe. “Ho ho ho, now I have a knife,” I said to the guy at the monitors. He reached for a big red button on the wall. As a general rule, big red buttons are not a good thing. I threw the knife and got him through the back of the hand. He pulled it back. I came around the table on the same side as the button. He reached for it with his other hand, and I caught it. Cocking my head to the side, I asked, “Just curious, but what about that gave me away? Tell me and you’ll survive.”
“That was my ex’s ID,” he said. Ah, the human element.
I nodded. “I’ll keep that in mind.” I smashed his head into the monitor bank and let him sit there in a wriggling, seizing mess. Guess I’m breaking all kinds of oaths and vows these days.
The downside is it turned out they had a couple different cell areas, one on each side. The first one was a dead end, full of Deep Ones. One stood up and rushed to the bars. “You! You saved me before!”
Hmm. “They got you after all, eh?” I looked him over. Burns, lash marks, puckers of flesh missing. I checked the cells. The door had a wire running out of the top and across the ceiling of this little area outside of it. I followed it back to the guard area and to a panel, one for each side. One button had a lightning bolt on it. The other had a door halfway open. I checked the other detention cell just in case and saw her there. “There you are, Marivel.”
She looked up from huddling in a group of women on one side of the cell. “Who are you?”
I smiled. “The name’s Gecko. I believe we talked.”
“You’re one of these monsters?” she asked.
I shook my head. “This time, and I can’t believe it, I’m the hero. I’m here with your so-called husband. Well, he’s outside. I’m here to rescue you.”
She jumped up and walked over to the door. “Dougie’s here?”
I pointed up to the roof and whispered, “Stealthy craft we have parked on the roof. Don’t worry. Just don’t say anything about it. When I open these doors, they are going to rush out of here. Stay at the front and run like hell to stay ahead of the pack. Otherwise, we might get stuck in the escape. Can you do this?”
She looked down at her legs. I saw they’d taken some skin off down there. Then she looked up at me. “I can do it.”
In the guard room, I took a moment to stretch, then pressed the button to release her cell. After a second and seeing her coming down the corridor, I hit the button for the other cell as well. I took Marivel’s hand as we raced ahead of the pack. I wanted us in front so we didn’t get trapped if the guards outside managed to pen them in, but tripping at this point was just as dangerous. I tugged her up the stairs and into the office area where the two guards I’d already seen waited, one with a phone to his ear. I put a hand through his chest. The other one raised the wrench and I tore his throat out with my fangs. Then we were out the door and into the street, prisoners spilling out after us. I pulled her around to the side of the building, pulled her into my arms, and jumped for the roof.
A doorway appeared in the middle of a bunch of floating air, with Blackstone pressed against it, beating his hand against an invisible barrier. I tossed Marivel up into it, and into his arms, then jumped once they’d cleared it.
“Whew!” I said, walking over to Mobian and leaving husband and wife to a very confused reunion. “Nice to be back to some proper villainy.”