From the Story Arc: Three Days In December

Previous Story in the Arc: Shiva Dances by Bestial Boy (Tuesday, December 12, 2006)

Next Story in the Arc: Fire by Belladonna Aura (Wednesday, December 13, 2006)

(posted Wednesday, December 13, 2006)

((cowritten with Kid Crisis))

Sera was ready to catch her when she fell. Her eyes had gone so wide and blank, her skin a pale, pale blue, like skimmed milk, and her mind and heart so still with shock Sera thought surely she would fall.

She didn’t. The pale lips moved. A thin whisper came out.

“Get me Kid Crisis. Tell him I need him. Then call all the comrades into the assembly room, and put it on the big screen until everyone’s seen it. I’ll be in my office.”

“It.” She didn’t have to say what “it” was. Waitron9000 leapt to deal with the second command.

Bella turned, turned, moving stiffly, mechanically, and painfully, as if she had suddenly become blind, crippled and old. Sera did not touch her, though she longed to take her dearest friend into her arms and try to comfort her. It felt as if Bella would shatter if she was touched…

John was already calling KC.

“I’m halfway there—“ came the answer.

You crossed another threshold today
And now there’s just an empty space
And it can’t be that warm where you are - near or far

By the time Kid Crisis got to the CCCP HQ, the place was jammed full and the press had begun camping on the lawn. There were trucks with sat-dishes on them everywhere you could put one, and he ran a gauntlet of reporters with mikes just to get in the door.

Inside it looked…it looked like the aftermath of the Siege, except that the damage was all psychological. New people, who hadn’t really known Zach, were wandering around looking lost and confused. Old hands looked as if the bomb had gone off in their faces.

Seraphic Flame seized him by the elbow and steered him through the maze of rooms to a little windowless office in the back.

And there she was. She looked up as Sera opened the door for him. Her eyes were wide, the pupils dilated, and the last time he had seen her that pale, she’d been dying….


Dying, then resurrected, by their technology, their fixed DNA. And suddenly, everyone knew, or thought they knew, what he’d been bought for. Knew what his price had been. So he’d run, vanished, tried to leave it all behind.

It hadn’t worked. They tracked him down, brought him back. Watched as he washed, put on a clean suit. Marched him down to the corner office he remembered so well.

Frigate sat behind his desk, a lit cigar in his hand, watching the smoke rise and curl. The old man ignored them all as John Lang was marched in, then gestured the guards away. The young man stood uncomfortably in front of the desk, his shoulders hunched, looking everywhere but at Frigate. The older man smiled, enjoying the young scientist’s discomfort.

“Little crisis of conscience, huh? Tried to get away from it all?” he asked, amusement dancing in his eyes. Lang opened his mouth to speak, but Frigate interrupted him. “Doesn’t matter. Sit down, shut up and listen.”

Lang shifted his shoulders, then looked straight at the older man, his eyes flaring. “I don’t much want to.” Frigate sighed inwardly. Kids these days.

“I don’t much give a damn what you want,” he snarled. “I’m sure you thought you were being very clever, taking off like that, but that and your little stunt playing lifesaver have cost you a fair amount of whatever minimal credit you’d built up with me. The rules are different now. You do what I say. Or there are consequences.”

Lang paused, and Frigate leaned back, watching him. Finally, after a long moment, the young man quietly sat down.

Frigate nodded, satisfied. “Good. Now shut up and listen. I need you to go with Belladonna. There are some people who need collecting.”

Looking up at him, John blinked, confused. “What kind of people?”
Frigate grinned. “The young, poor and mutated kind, since you asked. A couple groups of squatters in the Row. Take some vans, collect them, bring them back.”

“Back for what?”

With a chuckle, Frigate leaned forward and motioned John closer with his cigar. “You don’t expect me to tell you,” he said, amused. “But I’m going to. Because you’re going to do this, and I want you to know exactly what it is we’re doing together. Revenant Hero works, as far as it goes. But the secondary entities, the Protectors…”

“The clones.”

“Yeah. The clones. They’ve never quite been what we wanted. The mind-wiping and the conditioning that has to be done leaves them with no real independence, no real initiative. So I pioneered a new technique. A new paradigm, you might say. My little girl was only the first. Instead of starting from scratch, I just… tweak. It’s amazing what some tiny, almost insignificant changes can do.”

John leaned back, his eyes wide. “A scalpel, instead of a sledge hammer.”

“Exactly!” Frigate’s smile grew wider. Gesturing grandly, he punctuated his words with jabs of the cigar, smoke dancing between the two. “You see, I knew you’d appreciate this. I really did. When you stop trying to cast yourself as some doomed and tragic hero, kid, you’ll find that life is a lot more pleasant on my side of the fence.”

“Oh, Jesus…” John’s breath caught in his throat as he stared at the older man in disbelief. “You want the kids for…” his voice trailed off.

Frigate clenched the cigar between his teeth and leaned back. “Well, what can I say?” He shrugged. “I always wanted a family. Would you like one? The two of you would make great parents, I think. You could program them however you wanted.”

“That’s disgusting.”

“Don’t give me that, kid. Sooner or later, you’ll come around. You’re too smart not to. Until then, you get to be on my shitlist for a while. Enjoy. Now skedaddle. Our own blue beautiful darling is waiting in the motor pool.”