tagSci-Fi & FantasyOne in Ten Ch. 09

One in Ten Ch. 09

byFinalStand©

For starters, my thanks to PokingFun for keeping her head above the rip tide long enough to edit this work.

To Smutol, who fought with me - A LOT - but provided invaluable input into character interactions and was often the voice for 'the little guy'.

To Talonwolf because apparently the ATF can't do their jobs to my satisfaction.

To the Voice Howling In the Wilderness and many others who helped with the feedback and e-mails.

A note on the stories direction. I know it took an abrupt shift, yet as I moved past the first chapter I realized that I either had to write Israel's destruction - poignant or pointless - or I could write a story where he succeeds in his quest - to be free. There was little hope in a story where Israel lives the rest of his life in hiding.

So, with a very high-tech society, how does he escape? Outside of hiding in some forgotten corner of the globe, the society had to come crashing down. The previous chapters, were the struggle of males to have their grievances heard, was not pointless. It is the very serious backdrop to the fall of civilization.

The great apparatus man- and womankind have built doesn't stop overnight. Every catastrophe has continuing effect. The plague doesn't kill everyone. Oh, it is terribly lethal, but communities can isolate themselves, be they urban, rural, scientific or military. What happens when the plague first burns its way through? The rift between men and women is still there and growing.

Wouldn't they work together in time of crisis? That sounds far more reasonable if you are a woman than a man. Men trusted women once and look how well that worked out for them. Finally, there will be more sex. This does not mean Israel is 'cured'. It means he's trying and, more importantly, being helped. I hope you continue to enjoy the story.

In Peace, daughters bury their mothers. In War, mothers bury their daughters. The death of sons is too painful to recount.


*****

(Behind the Scenes)

By act of Science I had ceased to be a rarity of one. All seven of my sons were capable of producing the T1I1 - the Israel 1 - antivirus. Their underdeveloped testes could do it, but weren't. The watch word was puberty. The current scientific consensus was that removing a portion of their sex organs was also unlikely to produce positive results.

Still unknown to the Federation researchers, the Chinese had the answer to the production dilemma and it was coming their way, one infection at a time. If they had, they probably would have started praying. After all, could the T1I1 kill the T2? All the mothers were getting lawyers - and private security. Before long, the Ministry of Justice would start issuing warrants.

In Shanghai, where the first mass burnings of corpses was beginning, a tired hospital worker was touched by a patient in the Dying Ward. It was across the street from the hospital and had been a mall before commandeered by the city. The worker was, in reality, a part-time supply clerk. After being laid off from her textile job, this was the only job she could find.

She'd been given extensive first aid training when she started work a few months ago, so now she was in charge of a whole section of the Dying Ward. People reaching out wasn't all that new to the worker anymore. People were being eaten alive and their fevers were extreme. This one though - her eyes were clear and she asked for water in a weak but steady voice.

The woman was dying, that was certain. She'd been given minimal support for the last...4 days? The clerk's heart began racing. This was a 'day 2' center. The Plague ran its course in a total of 4 days...so this woman should have died two days ago. The clerk rushed over, took one of the two thermometers for the entire ward and took her charge's temperature. 39 C.

The clerk raced over to the one doctor (a male medical student actually) and dragged him over to the patient. The dying woman had risen to the rank of patient in that attendant's eyes. The doctor examined the patient's body, ignoring her shame, and nearly fell over. The clerk had been quiet so as to not cause an alarm. The doctor yelled for two of the volunteers to grab a stretcher and come running.

These volunteers were women who had decided to help out at the hospital in this crisis because...it seemed the right thing to do. Now they removed the dead women from the Dying Ward and took them to trucks for cremation. It was doing something. They arrived with the stretcher, but the woman still appeared alive. 'We are going to the hospital' he informed them.

That was new. They crossed the street, passed the soldiers and the group walked straight to the Hospital's Chief of Staff's office. Her assistant informed the medical student that the doctor was asleep. 'We have a patient in Day 9' he responded. The assistant nearly tripped over herself running in and rousing her boss.

Ten minutes later, he was happy to be allowed to simply observe the specialists at work. The woman was nearly dead alright. She'd been fighting off the T2 Plague for nine days now. For half that time she'd only had an IV drip to sustain her. Three things made her different. She'd been gifted with a small dose of T2J1 (Java) antivirals.

That could only mean she had sex with that poor, dead boy. Unlike the other patrons, she'd been given enough of his seed to last this long. The second difference was almost a fatal one. She'd been cannibalizing her own body to save her unborn child, who was really nothing more than a lump of tissue at that time. It was good old Mother Nature trying to see the next generation through the womb and into the light of the world.

The final difference - somewhere, the doctors guessed a day and a half earlier - the antivirals hovering around and protecting that little lump of proto-boy realized that the tissue had grown to a sustainable size and they attacked it. It wasn't out of cruelty. It was out of necessity. They were fighting that battle to keep the mother alive, but without the ability to replace their losses, they were succumbing.

Quite frankly, there weren't enough of them and they were dying by the minute while the T2 kept getting stronger. The T2J's needed a factory and the lump of boy was it. A few select cells died and became antiviral factories and the counter-attacked into the mother's body - and they were starting to come out on top.

The swelling was going down, the fever was breaking, plus her heart rate and breathing were steady, if weak. For the team of doctors at their breaking point, this was a breath of fresh air. One was going to live. They also realized that this little boy wasn't going to be saving anyone else for quite some time. Extracting him would most certainly be fatal and provide a onetime dose for only a handful of people.

Instead of keeping thousands of patients alive, they now had to keep one boy alive. They conferred, agreed that they all were of one mind, then separated. The head of the WHO mission had been supplied with her own satellite hook-up this time. She called Geneva then the UN, giving them all the data they had. What she got back was surprising.

They already had a virtual carbon-copy of the T2J antiviral, but they were calling it the T1I1. Apparently there was an adult male in the Federation running around with it. There was also a nasty rumor starting to surface that he'd been killed in a police action in his home town. The WHO doctor wept silently at her desk. It felt like her gender was trying to commit genocide on themselves.

The Chief of Staff sat down with the battalion commander of the unit assigned to protect the hospital. By disease and fortune, it was a young captain. The Chief of Staff laid out the whole story. The boy wouldn't be saving anyone but himself and his mother for months. Most likely, everyone in the hospital and her unit would be dead by then.

If they harvested the boy, there would go the last, best chance for any of China to survive. She had to tell Beijing before their spies told them. Beijing would demand the mother and boy, she would delay as long as she could. Eventually they would see through her deceptions and then they would come to take him by force. The Chief of Staff wanted to know what the captain going to do when that happened.

(Back at Home)

"What do you want?" I requested.

"We are here for you, Israel Jensen," the voice answered. I looked to Flame once more.

"What if I don't want to go with you?" I tried to sound brave as I responded. There was a pause.

"We are with Zara," the voice countered.

"There are two of them," Flame whispered. "I can do this."

"Bitch, we are dangling off the edge of a bridge. Have you lo..." I mumbled. "Yeah, you have. Knock yourself out."

"Why isn't she here then?" I inquired.

"She is here," the voice said. I put a hand on Flame's thigh.

"Don't move," I whispered. "They have a sniper."

"You sure?"

"Yeeeaaahhhh, pretty much," I nodded.

"I'm tossing you a phone," the voice informed me.

"Toss it to the woman," I pointed. "Her hand-eye coordination is much better." The phone didn't fly high. It actually skidded to a stop less than a half meter away. I looked at Flame who looked at the phone then back at me.

"Bitch, it's right there. Pick it up yourself," she groused.

I picked it up, flipped open the opaque cover and was gifted with the sight of Flame's back with a little red dot centered between her shoulder blades. Flame was looking out over the city. I thought she was bored. After nudging her, she looked over the picture and smiled. She leaned into me. The dot followed. She leaned away and the dot followed.

"Good sniper," she smirked to me. "Okay ladies, you can have him," Flame called out to our visitors.

I typed *HugsZara*.

A few seconds later *Come In*.

*Not Ready Yet*.

*Please*.

*You probably can't understand how much that means to me*

*No?*

*Not yet*.

The closer woman began backing away. A few meters and on the other side of the roadway, a second woman did the same. I had to wonder about their interest. What rejection would be one too many? Did other men get this much leeway? No, they didn't. They bailed out the first chance they got, yet I was sticking around.

I stood up and followed them for a few meters before stopping. I still had no plan.

"Hmmm," Flame walked up to my side. "You don't see that every day."

"You are not supposed to see them at all," I confided.

"Do you know what's weird?" Flame tapped me with her gun.

"You still don't want to kill me?" I guessed.

"Yeah, it's freaky-weird," Flame nodded. "Do you think that sniper-chick is still watching us?"

"You are asking my advice about women and guns?" I gasped. "God, we are a fucked-up pair."

"Tons of fun," Flame laughed. "Let me take you home."

"Your home, or my home?" I worried.

"Your home," she snickered. "My clit intimidates you." Now she was giggling.

"Thanks," I smiled. We remounted her bike, put on our helmets and headed into the city.

"I have never said this before, but I'd like to take you someplace, tie you down and make long passionate love to you," I confessed through our helmet links.

"You make passionate love to a lot of women," she countered.

"No, the 'tie you down' part," I clarified. "I don't normally do that."

"What makes me so special - not that I'm not special, but why this?" Flame snorted in amusement.

"There is no way in hell I'm giving you an orgasm when you have ready access to a weapon, or any other means of hurting me," I squeezed her tightly. She was quiet for several minutes.

"Cool," she murmured.

"Yeah, it would be," I agreed.

"Then do I get to kill you?" she perked up.

"No, damn it," I bumped helmets with her. "First I get dressed, then I open the window and then I untie you, hopefully jumping out the window before you get your gun."

"Bitch!" she laughed. "You are going to make me work for it."

"That's what friends are for," I teased.

"Thanks for clearing that up for me - Bitch," she shook with amusement. I couldn't do this with anyone else. Death and killing weren't things I embraced.

I didn't like violence, but I was causing tons of it. I didn't joke about casual violence, except now I was doing it with Flame. I wasn't sure why I liked her. I couldn't pinpoint that factor, or moment that put us in this current setting. She'd beaten me up, beaten me again, then I spasmodically came on to her, came on to her again...and she'd responded.

It wasn't a one-sided relationship. Flame wanted something from me that was equally indescribable. I don't think she'd felt alone before she met me. She hated everyone, so didn't really miss their company. Just like some office functionary, she was going through the motions of life - even if that life was that of a Mob enforcer, thug, and killer.

She wasn't an adrenaline junkie. Her fearlessness had robbed her of that thrill. In the firefight she had not flinched or panicked. I believed she had become completely emotionally detached. Oh, God - I made her laugh. Not in an artificial professional comedian kind of way, but a 'looking at someone and discovering they make you happy' way.

Unintentionally, I had made Flame feel something - anything - and it was tearing her up inside. It wasn't happiness. Flame felt happy when she killed people, or made them cry. Perhaps that was it; I gave her happiness that didn't involve her taking something, be it a life, or sense of security, from another person. That had her confused.

We pulled up to my place in relative silence. What I didn't know was most people, even in their places of work on second shift, or just working late, were glued to their video feeds. Even at the hospital, I had not grasped the magnitude of the carnage. I put the helmet up.

"Take care and no 'Death by Cop'," I patted Flame's shoulder. She opened her face plate.

"I can't die," she grinned. "I haven't killed you yet. Want me to kill you now?"

"I want you to live," I replied softly. She laughed, dropped her visor and sped away. I took the steps to my apartment two at a time. I was tired, but I actually wanted to see some female faces for the first time in forever.

I accessed my door and recalled that Venus had a gun, so I called out.

"It's me." I opened the door and stepped in. All the women, from whatever place they had staked out on my living room floor or furniture were looking, or craning to look at me. Kuiko and Capri had their arms out so that no one grappled me in the entryway.

"Where have you been?" Capri inquired with barely controlled fury.

"I...I had to..." I mumbled.

"Skip you banging that cop in the GODDESS damned emergency room and your version of the Gettysburg Address to a room full of ladies in blue who wanted to shoot you - fuck nut Bastard," Carpi growled.

Honesty is never the best option. In fact, honesty is the refuge of the unimaginative and thoughtless, or so I've been told.

"Well, you remember that girl with the hand cannon in the shootout this afternoon..." I managed to get out.

Capri put her face in her hands and groaned.

"I got on a bike with her, we rode out to the road construction on the new freeway..." I continued.

"Where on the new freeway?" Venus rumbled.

"That part of the unfinished overpass," I informed them.

"You mean the big, uncompleted bridge - that part of the new freeway?" Venus pressed.

"Yeah. We sat at the end, dangled our feet off the edge and talked for a bit," I tried to make my insane decision sound reasonable.

"Gee, Israel, did she try to kill you - the mobster hitwoman?" Capri muttered.

"Ah...she pointed her gun at me a few times, asked me if I wanted to die a few more times, but she couldn't pull the trigger," I enlightened them. "We talked."

"ISRAEL!" Kuiko squealed at a deafening pitch. "The cop nearly killed you tonight! Wasn't one time enough? Do you want to scare us to death? Do you want to leave us?"

Kuiko freaking out was expected. The look of fear on the rest of their faces was unfathomable to me.

"What am I missing?" I asked. Roni and Angel not being back was starting to worry me.

"Israel, what is the last thing you remember at the Arena?" Aniqua requested.

"Shooting - a lot of it. The cops at the exit with the EMTs arming themselves and heading in. I was listening to the chaos on the radio, but I was really concentrating on escaping. Why?" I looked around the room. Samantha was channel surfing until she found one of the local updates.

Confirmed Dead: 152 Women - 849 Men. Final figures still unavailable.

Oh God, it was the second biggest disaster to overtake male-kind since the last days of the Plague. It was highly unlikely that anything would surpass the Holy City, but Carabas in Brazil had just been supplanted as the second largest slaughter of my gender in 42 years. The most demoralizing piece was the three SWAT snipers on the Arena with their back up weapons going to fully automatic fire at the men below.

During the Gender Plague the countries of the Developing World went three ways. Some, like the Republic of South Africa, clung to their democracy and rode out the storm. Others, like India, went to Emergency Rule and they survived. The last group, like Brazil, tried to walk the middle path and they collapsed. The public didn't know who to trust, so they began looking out for themselves.

Brazil made it into Year 6 when the police in Brasilia rioted. The government called in the closest military units to restore order. The military tried to seize control, the executive branch of government was decapitated and the country went to shit. A few months later, the legislative body set up shop in San Paulo and began reasserting control over the coastal regions.

Their navy had remained loyal through the crisis so not only did the democratic government survive, but the Brazilian export economy didn't wither and die. They grimly persevered for eighteen months until the UN was finally able to cobble together some kind of relief force from the member nations.

On the Brazilian/UN side was that they were organized and well-equipped. The rebels were balkanized and often as much threat to each other as to the central government. Brazil took back their capital and launched an offensive against the largest of the rebel groups. They drove the rebels back to their base at Carabas.

On the eve of the last government offensive the Revolutionary Council met and decided on their final course of action. There were men on the Council. It is said that one objected but the other two agreed. In the last hour before dawn, the rebels rounded up every male still under their control and executed them. The rebels considered it a last act of defiance.

The UN considered them all War Criminals and hunted most of them down. It was the end of old Brazil though. The upper Amazon basin remained lawless even until this day. The government was too afraid that other female groups would do the same thing and the real estate wasn't worth the risk.

The Holy City was a different, and far more horrifying, legacy. Before the Plague, there were places where men not only ruled, but women were barred from any true power. As a result, when the men started dying off, there were no, or not enough, professional women to take their place. The electricity went out, hospitals were overrun and law and order broke down.

The UN was doing triage and if your country couldn't at least limp along, it was abandoned to its fate - unless you had oil. In those bygone days, it was a petroleum driven economy. There were some fucked-up places around the globe that should have bit the dust, except the UN had to keep propping them up, or everything would have broken down.

Human Rights abuses? They would deal with that later. Few women want to talk about exactly what the UN was thinking back then. They kept the engine of civilization turning and they paid for it in blood. Whose blood? The blood of women. See, around Year 8, there just weren't too many men left in these Male Dominated cultures.

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