tagSci-Fi & FantasyOne in Ten Ch. 08

One in Ten Ch. 08


*First off, PokingFun for trudging through another of my offerings*

*To a whole band of miscreants and ne'er-do-wells who give me feedback, keep me on track and urge me to keep going*

*Lastly, to Talonwolf, who continues to evade the best counter-terrorism units money can buy*

*The Persians marshalled all the nations under the Sun and Stars yet they were defeated by a single idea: Sacrifice, and their inability to appreciate it*


It was an unfortunate convergence of poor choices, bad timing and ill intentions. When Flame stepped out of the Prometheus Club, she didn't see four cops. She saw Somerset Trainer, minion of Isobel Diaz, with three armed associates closing in on Magdalena Keverich's entourage exiting a restaurant. It was a daylight ambush in her eyes.

She knew that Mamma Keverich was coming back to town soon, that Isobel and Little M were worried/freaked out - because they had both betrayed Mamma, and that one of them had to offer the other's head up on a plate or they'd both likely end up dead. The fact that this feud would most likely end up with her as compost didn't bother Flame so much. She was a psycho.

Had Detective Somerset Trainer known that Little M was in the restaurant, she would have most likely grabbed me elsewhere. Isobel's career was in danger of going down the toilet and she was going to drag as many people down with her as possible. She was that kind of cunt. One of those people going down with Isobel was Somerset.

That did not mean she wanted to engage in a gun battle in broad daylight, on a busy street, with Keverich mobsters while attempting to bring me in on trumped up charges. It was potentially fatal and certainly embarrassing - in an Internal Affairs busting your ass open kind of way. After all, Kwan and Riga weren't part of the program. They thought this was the real deal.

Flame reached around to the small of her back for her light artillery piece. Silent, in tune with her compadres, went for her two rationally sized pistols, scanning the other way. Det. Gayle Seger, drawing forth her handcuffs, was only then starting to track my gaze back to the restaurant door and the menace there. She was critically behind in the arms race and standing in the middle of a broad sidewalk.

The other three cops were already going for their sidearms - not Tasers. Det. Po Kwan was on the far side of her car. Det. Regina Riga was in Gayle's boat - middle of the sidewalk with a firefight about to break out. Capri and I were in the middle of it all. The first move was Capri's - she dragged me with all her might toward the street.

Our choices were traffic versus bullets. Capri decided that collision with the hood of a car going around 50 kph was preferable to a minimum 9mm penetration. I was too ignorant of the physics to argue. Next, Silent started firing. Had my back not been to her, I might have marveled on how fast she was. As it was, she wasn't hitting anybody, just shooting.

After some after-battle counseling, I would learn this was 'suppression fire'; Silent was purposely not hitting anyone. Shooting cops was bad. Shooting cops in an area with extensive security cameras was worse. She was simply buying time for the rest of Magdalena's crew to hustle her boss back inside. That was her job.

Flame, on the other hand, was there to kill somebody. She knelt down in the doorway, aimed and shot. Det. Seger was a second too slow in reacting. Gayle was still clawing at her piece when the 12 mm round took her in the solar plexus. The front of her body armor never stood a chance. It was shredded.

The hydrostatic shock of the projectile ripping through her core was most likely terminal. Had she landed on a fully staffed operating table, she might have lived. The bullet severing her spine was critical all by itself. The back of her body armor did a marginally better job of slowing the round as it left her body, but it didn't stop it.

No, it flew down the street, hitting a ceramic composite lamp post. They build them to withstand the 125 kph winds (the max recorded that whip down into the spaces between the high rises) yet crumple under impact, such as a car. It blew a hole so big in the lamp post, it slowly keeled over into the street. That was a problem for a few seconds down the line. The ceramic did take a great deal of the bullet's energy.

Two blocks down, it ricocheted off a reinforced glass window, careened into the street and the conjecture was it landed on a car window catch, or went down a storm drain. They never found it. I doubted Gayle cared and I had other things on my mind when I got the news. Somerset managed to get a shot off before she realized that her unmarked police car's composite materials weren't going to have much better luck than Gayle's body armor at stopping Flame's rounds.

I suddenly understood the purpose of Flame's gun. It wasn't femismo. Her weapon dominated the battlefield. When shooting, you had better kill Flame because if you didn't, someone was going to the morgue. Somerset had just witnessed that reality. As Flame began swiveling her aim that way, Somerset dove behind her rear tire, putting as much material between her and death as possible.

Kwan was made of sterner stuff. She moved down the side of her car, toward the action and firing. Like Silent, she was more concerned with keeping her assailants' heads down than killing anyone. Det. Seger was down and her own partner was in a bad way. Riga had to dive into the narrow space between her car and the curb for what minimal cover it provided.

Silent had to duck back into the restaurant and Flame came close to being decapitated. Kwan ran out of bullets before Flame ran out of nerve. My eyes met Kwan's as she ducked down to reload her pistol. She was angry, fearful and confused. This situation made perverse sense. She knew the Organized Crime Taskforce wanted to talk with me.

Magdalena Keverich had sex with me - painful sex obviously. So why the fuck was I walking out of an eatery with Keverich mobsters? I was obviously running for my life. A fellow officer was down, maybe dead. Did this have to do with my stunt this morning, or was this something else? That was what I imagined her thinking anyway.

Flame responded to her near-death experience by giving Kwan one of her own. Her round penetrated her car's battery assembly, passed clean through, missed Kwan then hit a car driving by, wounding the driver in the lower, right side before lodging in that car's rear passenger door. A wreck was imminent, but not my immediate concern.

What was my concern was Capri and me crossing the road. It was two lanes, both way. The first lane was empty, but a delivery van nearly rolled over us in the second. A passenger car coming down lane one slammed on its brakes, as did the car behind it - that's the one the pole fell on.

By the time the van passed, I was in the lead. We dodged a car going the other way in lane three and lane four was free - that was the one with the wounded driver, but the badly wounded driver was still coming at us. We were on the sidewalk. That seemed to be as far as Capri and I had thought things out. The FBI were theoretically one way, but we couldn't see them.

The Vanishers couldn't help me unless I was out of public view. To get to them, I had to think like a Special Forces 'operator'. My mind was still wandering through that morass when Capri started dragging me away from the gunfire. We ran crouched over. I'm not sure why. The only cars parked on the street were across the way - Maggy's limo bracketed by the two unmarked cop cars. This was a 'No Parking' area.

For fifteen minutes we ran down the street, fleeing for our lives. We made it around the corner - 17 seconds had passed? Twice before in my life I had lost all conception of time. On this outing I didn't feel violated, but the gut-wrenching terror was identical. When Capri looked back at me, I could see the fear in her eyes. Good, I had too many crazy people in my life as it was.

The gunfire had stopped. Capri slowed us to a pace closer to normal. Fleeing people drew unwanted attention. We were at the crosswalk one block away when the first police car, sirens blaring and lights flashing, went racing by. I wished I could have hoped Flame and Magdalena were okay, but my heart wasn't that big and my pain was too fresh.

"This way," Capri hustled me along. "Upload your phone data."

"Damn, I just got this one," I muttered. "Drop the GPS and battery too?"

"Nope," Capri grinned. "Let's go to the Metro." One such station was right up ahead, but it wasn't our line. We sped down the steps into the underground facility.

A metro cop glanced our way, but I was looking down - and praying hard. We swiped our cards. No alarms went off, so I wasn't officially a wanted felon yet.

"Okay, we have a northbound to Bright Bay coming in two minutes," Capri whispered. "We go in the first car, stash the phones then race out the back car before the subway pulls out."

I looked dubiously at Capri. I didn't question the basic merits of her plan. Her deep breathing, flushed face and short legs worried me. Me, I was doing fine. I was, barring my full-torso bruising, in excellent shape, tall with long legs. Getting down the length of five passenger cars in the allotted 90 seconds the train was in the station was going to be close.

"When we get out, we catch the metro to Northwood in eight minutes," Capri related. Why a district called Northwood was in the Southwest section of the metropolis wasn't something I was going to worry about. "After that I guess we walk home." Using a credit card was foolish, but...

I ran over to the ATM and inserted my card then typed my PIN. I was praying again.

There it was - my $7800 from GNN. I had money! Bless Maribel and Eloise, those wonderful, wonderful social media parasites. I withdrew the maximum amount - $1000. I had never done that before, but I had seen Bethany do it - a lot. I quick-stepped it over to Capri and slipped her five hundred.

"In case we are separated," I murmured. She nodded. I had a strange flashback. I started giggling. I had a vision of a man giving a woman money for sex. How ridiculous was that? On second thought, I imagined that among the handful of rich men out there, they probably got a kick out of it. I had never heard of a male 'Joan' being arrested for solicitation. Could they?

Technically, he was doing his duty. If the moron wanted to give a woman money for helping out with that - well, it had to be more kinky than illegal. I felt pain. Capri was elbowing me.

"Stop it," she hissed. I was giggling maniacally again. The metro's air-brakes and electro-magnetic clamps were giving off their low pitched squeal as the transport came to a stop.

We were running at the doors before they separated. They slid open right on time, we stashed our phones in a first aid wall mount and began the sprint to the end of the train. That would put us out under a different camera, which we hope would help our evasion when someone finally did start looking.

We made it to Northwood, grabbed a taxi and I was recognized. Cabbies get bored. The city's roads use a grid system that 'mediates' auto behavior. It doesn't drive the car, but it cuts down on collisions and running red lights. Cops don't worry about this and an automotive 'getaway' is very difficult. Marlene, the cabby, didn't seem to hate me.

"So, are you really going to let the world crash and burn?" she asked after getting our destination.

"'Let' is a bit harsh," I rebounded. "I'm not going to stand in the way of society killing itself is more like it."

"Eh, I could care less," she shrugged. "Ovarian cancer five years ago. I'm an only child so my genetics are pretty much shot."

"That is a rather grim outlook on life," Capri noted.

"Kid, no one has ever stuck out their neck for me, so why should I bother?" Marlene shrugged once more.

I hope I didn't sound like that. I cared about people, but I would be damned if I would reward barbarity and indifference either. I was a father and I was terrified that my children might go through what I had experienced. I could keep telling myself that I was doing some good. I wasn't sure if I was, or if that was wishful thinking.

I was truly horrified by the fear that this was just me lashing out at the world for my misfortunes. That would make me as bad as my first love, the Aurora Slasher. I had loved her. I had loved her with all my heart because if I hadn't, she would have killed me. The problem was, I had really loved and cared for her.

Somewhere along the way, it had become real for me. We were going to live together and have babies - strong male babies. I had wanted that more than anything. If I loved her enough, she'd set me free. If I loved her enough, she'd let me live. In therapy, they had given me all kinds of psychological terms for that. The emotion had never gone away.

True, I was also terrified of her. For a year, any voice that sounded like her made me wet myself. I never looked at pictures of her. She wrote me letters a few times. I never asked for them. I pray to whatever divinity matters most that they never give her computer access. I'm still afraid that if I did see her I'd run into her arms and beg her forgiveness.

Maybe that is why I gravitated to women like Angel, Zara and Flame - secretly I wanted to end this and I felt they are strong enough to do it. It could be I was trying to replace my first rapist. I could be doing penance for not dying when I should have, or telling the wrong women I love them. Maybe I liked the pain but couldn't face up to it.

"Earth to Israel," Capri nudged me. "We are here." The cab was two blocks from my dwelling, in case someone was watching the place, we could make other plans.

"Here you go Marlene and good luck to you," I smiled. I paid and tipped her. I hadn't had enough money to tip anyone in ages - budget too tight.

"Thanks, Israel and be careful," Marlene laughed. "I imagine you are as popular as a tampon covered in Jalapeno sauce with the people upstairs." That was too sick/frightening/hurtful for me to think about.

"I now know what I'm getting Isobel Diaz for Christmas," Capri smirked.

"We are not going to make Christmas," I pointed out.

"I'll mail it to Hell," Capri grinned up at me full of mischief and spite. Without further comment, we made our way up to my condo. I opened the door and saw Angel up and mostly dressed (no shoes). She came right at me so fast, I freaked and backpedalled out the door.

"Sorry, Israel," Angel looked frightfully worried. I took a deep breath, stepped up and embraced her.

She hugged me tighter than I would have liked in my current mental state. In a perverse way, it felt motherly yet protective and passionate at the same time.

"Baby," Angel murmured into my shoulder, "Po called. She said you were in a firefight. Gayle Seger is dead and the culprits are on the run. Are you hurt? Are you in danger - I mean more danger than normal - for you?"

"He's okay," Capri inserted smarmily. "I'm okay too."

"You, I can replace - at the local pet store," Angel shot over my shoulder to Capri. "He's irreplaceable to me."

"Ooohhh," Capri drew out as she slipped by us to the living room and the remote. The news was vibrant to say the least. Four out of five medical experts were tearing Dr. Vasco a new asshole.

For her part, Vasco was resilient. Her bosses and staffers held fast about their methods and results. Her public speaking presence may have been exceedingly poor, but her mastery of the science was unassailable. The darkly amusing part of one interview was when a critic demanded that Dr. Vasco repeat her results at other labs across the nation.

"I can't do that," Dr. Vasco sighed. "Mr. Jensen and Ms. Sano requested that anything remaining of their blood samples after the battery of tests was to be destroyed."

"My Goddess, you didn't do that, did you?" the critic fired off.

"Of course I did. I'm their physician," Dr. Vasco seemed puzzled.

"Can't you bring them back in for more samples?"

"Ms. Sano has refused, citing that to do so might result in a denial of sexual favors in her near future," Vasco read off a report. "Mr. Jensen made it quite clear that he is willing to let us all die, though we continue trying to contact him."

"If your results are genuine," the critic persevered, "Mr. Jensen has an unknown strain of the T1 and needs to be quarantined."

"Why?" Vasco mumbled. "There is no indication that his variant of the Gender Plague is harmful to anything but the T1, and we've run extensive tests."

"How can you verify your finds with the global scientific community without the blood and tissue samples?" the critic challenged.

"After some consultation with the Psychiatric Department, we are contemplating getting down on our knees and begging," Vasco related with same voice used when contemplating the prices of toilet paper brands.

"This is not the time for jests," the critic bit back. Vasco was bewildered.

"What do you mean? We consulted some experts on male psychology and that's what they suggested giving their minimal time to come up with an answer," Vasco responded. Capri started giggling.

"You are coming across as a fraud," the critic lambasted.

"I've posted my findings," Vasco stated softly. "Beyond that, we are contacting his previous sexual partners for the past two years. We hope they can provide antivirals with their blood."

"Two years?" the critic scoffed. "That's reaching."

"Excuse me," the virologist questioned. "What makes you say that?"

"Two years?"

"Yes, from the level of degradation, or lack thereof, it is our current hypothesis that this variant of the Plague is designed to give immunity to the woman and her offspring through the child's first year," Vasco informed the world calmly.

"The belief is that by breastfeeding, the child would gain a boost to its immune system where the T1 is concerned," she concluded.

"Angel?" I looked to my lover.

"The hospital called. I said 'no'," she answered. "What we did was between us."

It was my turn to hug her. It wasn't that she had said 'no'. It was why she said 'no'. Angel kept her embrace light, which only made it more valuable to me.

"Israel, I have to go to work soon," Angel sighed as our foreheads touched. "Officer Involved Shooting plus running security for the arena tonight."

"Does this mean you are no longer with the Feds?" I worried.

"Babe," Angel laughed roughly. "You don't know how it works - two jobs doesn't mean two people; it means overtime." I wasn't sure what came over me. Maybe it was that 'love' thing.

"Wake me up when you get in," I requested. "I miss you."

The concern directed my way by Angel only made me want her more. I didn't see lust. I saw a desire to make me feel safe - not physically, but emotionally. The cherry on top was that she was yet another sane woman in my life.

"Okay, Babe," she smiled cautiously. "I'll whistle to wake you. You like whistling right?"

"Yes, that would be nice. Am I going to see you at the rally tonight?" I asked.

"What?" Capri squawked. She began beating up the sofa in her own, feisty style.

"Israel, I...okay," Angel sighed. "I'm not going tell you that going is nuts," which was her way of telling me that she didn't approve of my plan in the slightest while being respectful.

"Jerk, this isn't okay with me," Capri snarled. "Why in the hell would you go to something like the MAL fiasco? You don't believe in it. Have you decided that you want some pissed off men to beat you up because being pummeled by women isn't enough?"

"They may let me get a word or two in," I explained, "though most likely they will leave me socially impotent."

"And if they arrest you?" Capri glared at me. "Will you at least call me?"

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