Loyalties

(posted Monday, May 23, 2005)

Cerenje gazed and smiled at the winged star before placing it into the shadowbox display, right next to her Atlas Medallion. In her time as a super hero, she had been honored by the city a good number of times for her deeds, but to her this was a special day. The Freedom Phalanx was a world-class hero organization, with a storied and rich history. They had heard a great deal about her deeds and had made her a reserve member. Today was truly happy day.

”Does this mean your loyalties are divided now?”

Shyft’s cheeks flushed red with rage. Closing her eyes for a moment, she took a deep breath and closed the shadow box. Taking a cloth she wiped the fingerprints from the glass cover then wiped the dust from the top of the display.

”Does this mean your loyalties are divided now?”

Her fist clenched the rag so tightly her knuckles turned white. Walking over to the hamper, she dropped the cloth in. Pressing her knuckle to her mouth, Cerenje inhaled deeply through her nose.

”Does this mean your loyalties are divided now?”

Her hands dropped to her sides and the air hissed from between gritted teeth.

Shyft’s cellphone rang. Caller ID noted it was Jenny Firkins, one of her informants in Founder’s Falls. Perhaps a little violence would take her mind off of things.

***

Shyft grabbed the Tsoo sorcerer in a wave of magnetic particles and hurled him face first into a concrete pylon, knocking him cold. As his compatriots turned to face her, a wormhole appeared in their midst, transporting them several hundred yards away, dropping them into Minotaur Bay, a frightful distance above the water. She could barely hear their screams of terror before they hit the water at terminal velocity, but it was enough to make her smile .

Another sorcerer teleported in to heal his now long-gone compatriots, only to find himself trapped in a zero-point field. Shyft grabbed him by the throat and drew him face to face with her. “You have been a naughty boy, tovaritch.

“Threaten me all you want, gajiin, I will tell you nothing!”

Shyft licked her lips as cruel lights danced in her eyes. “Dura! You are assuming I want something from you.” She snapped her fingers and a wormhole opened behind him, its exit, a half-mile in the air above them.

”Does this mean your loyalties are divided now?”

Shyft pictured the sorcerer’s face green and punched him hard, across the jaw, sending him backwards into the wormhole.

***

Cerenje lay in the gigantic marble tub, soaking the bumps, bruises and stiffness from the night’s patrols in Talos Island. On the radio, the newsbreak mentioned a large number of brutally beaten members of the Tsoo Triad were found overnight. There were no leads, but city officials were writing it off, attributing it to a rise in gang violence, and the public could expect to see a reprisal of some sort in the next few days. Reaching over, she turned the radio to “CD” tapped “play” and the haunting voice of Lorena McKinnett filled the room.

The condo was a little more than she would like to pay, but well within the wealth she had accumulated with her patents and writings from her days as a scientist. Founder’s Falls wasn’t really crime free, it simply didn’t have the gangers like Atlas Park or Galaxy City did. Still, it was far preferable to the studio she used to have in Skyway.

”Does this mean your loyalties are divided now?”

She lifted the bottle of Stolichnaya, and poured it into the ice filled highball glass. She took a long sip and sank further into the tub. The sweet scent of lavender, milk and peppermint wafted in the air. Splashing at the bubbles with her finger tips, she stretched a leg, pointing her toes out of the water.

”Does this mean your loyalties are divided now?”

How dare he? How dare he question her loyalties? Commisar or not, he was the one raised in the decadence of America. She had been a child of The State and had been raised by The State until it fell. She was Russian, born and raised. She was a child of the Revolution. He was an American who found the truth later in life. Cerenje snorted. More likely he was a typical American, with the attention span of a fly, and the desire to rebel like the cowboy culture the decadence of America promoted.

”Does this mean your loyalties are divided now?”

She drained the glass in a single drink. Getting out of the tub, she briskly dried off, then wrapped herself in a large, warm bathrobe. She could feel the vodka taking effect. She slowly walked to her bedroom, angry and disappointed.