Chaos Angel Spanner — Chapter 8: Rip Her to Shreds
Part 2: All in the Cards (Final Revision)
Part 2: All in the Cards (Final Revision)
14 september 2014.
bainbridge island. A man’s voice speaks through Drusilla’s spectacularly robed body. He is not man but god: Ra, leader of the Nine who make up the One God incarnate as America. Though her body channels the god’s voice, the god channels Drusilla’s frustration. He speaks her words to their adoring disciples.
“It offends Us that she whom We have chosen should scorn Us and her role in Our mission of transforming Our glorious Remnant into the Sixth Men whose destiny it is to reclaim the solar system for Man and conquer the kingdom of space. She now consorts with the idea of turning her devotion from Us to the Angel of Chaos.”
Horrified at the very idea, the disciples gasp. “Spanner?”
“The Angel of Chaos has taken flesh in the image of Lilith, evil angel of lust. His chosen fleshly vehicle partakes of descent from the lowly native race and is of a lineage of black magic. Our chosen is of the lineage of Hathor. Her lineage must not be compromised by the power of Chaos. Do whatever you must.”
A disciple asks, “Holy One, what should be done with the ones who attacked Your chosen?”
“Reno Corson is a beast masquerading as a man. Tonight he will be dead.”
shira’s apartment. Someone knocks on the door. Mikan stops playing the piano. Catalina runs up to bark. Shira walks up, pets Catalina, takes a peek through the peephole, puts on her robe, and opens the door.
Ariel Shield wears a modest black dress, an ornate black-and-silver jacket, a bowler hat, and a smile. “May I come in?” Shira lets her in. She lets Catalina smell her, then pets her. “Please make sure you lock the door behind you.”
“This has something to do with Leila, doesn’t it.”
“I saved her. Oliver thought he was saving her. Now he’s raving about someone he’s calling ‘Slender Man.’“
Shira looks at her strangely. “You mean as in the Darknet creepypastas?”
“It’s based on a legend of Nazi Germany. The legend is true. It’s closely connected to the Beckets, and thus their precious Conservative Revolution.”
“So what did he have to say?”
Shira hears her phone signal an upload.
AEGIS appears. “Your Dictel Park skycam’s dead. Maybe the last minutes of video from it will give you a clue.”Oliver: (panicked, pacing) Slendy’s real, man! I saw him! You were there! You stole Leila right outta his hands! You shot at him!Ariel: He was a super soldier—Oliver: You ain’t fucking getting it, man. Nobody who sees him survives. All those people taping and blogging about him? They’re all fucking dead! (paces) Shit, shit, shit. We’re all fuckin’ doomed!Ariel: Are we...
“Thanks. Play it.” Reno, his goons, and the Shovel Clique boys waiting. “Fast forward to Leila.” The cute sailor last seen with Leila arrives with her slung over his shoulder. He gives her to the Shovels, they give her to Reno, he strips her and starts to rape, the sailor removes his disguise to reveal hair like her coworker Adam Treece and a face like a male version of Debbie — “Stop! Closeup.” AEGIS fast forwards half a second to zoom in on a full frontal shot of his face. “Frank Becket?”
Ariel frowns. “That’s him.”
“Shit.” After that, Oliver tries to brain Frank with his shovel, the Shovels attack Frank, Ariel arrives to snatch Leila — and the figure she shoots at emerges from the darkness, inhumanly tall and thin and radiating power. Shira gasps. “That’s him?”
“Run it further. There may be a surprise.”
“All right...” Oliver shoots at the figure, then he and his clique run. Shira stops it. “So that’s the Shovel Clique Nancy warned me about...”
AEGIS says, “There’s several more seconds left.”
“Okay, play it.” Reno and his men, overjoyed by the chance to become a legend by slaying a legend, fire hundreds of bullets at the apparition. The video goes white for two seconds. When the picture returns, Reno and his gang are burning to death. The force field dissipates, the figure shrinks and consolidates, and — zoom into his face — Richard Becket directs a terrifying cold-eyed stare at the camera, muttering to himself. Then he points a finger at the camera, a flash of lightning appears, and the video ends.
Ariel sighs. “As I feared.”
“What’s he slumming here for?”
“There’s... something Leila has that he’s decided he wants badly.”
“Sounds like big trouble ahead...”
“More than you realize, Shira. He’ll kill anyone who gets in his way, and right now that’s you. Which means I’m staying here till one of your sisters gets here. Sit down on the couch. There’s something I need to show you.” While Shira sits, Ariel pulls up a chair and takes a tarot deck from her purse.
Shira looks at her suspiciously. “You telling my fortune?”
Ariel gently laughs. “Of course not. But these cards do tell a story.” On the table, facing Shira, she lays out a row of cards right to left, Major Arcana in order: the Fool, the Magician, the High Priestess, the Empress, the Empress, the Emperor, the High Priest, the Lovers, the Chariot, Strength, the Hermit, and, slightly higher, the Wheel of Fortune. “This is the masculine, solar path. One of the secrets of the Major Arcana is that every card of the solar path has its complement in the feminine, lunar path.” Starting above the Hermit, she lays the remaining cards in a new row left to right: Justice, the Hanged Man, Death, Temperance, the Devil, the Tower, the Star, the Moon, the Sun, the Last Judgement, and, to the right of both rows, the World.
Shira’s eyes go immediately to one pair: the High Priest and the Devil. Ariel smiles. “You’ve just discovered the reason why the Roman Church banned the tarot deck for centuries. The Cathars were wise. Nor were they any easier on the worldly authorities. The Emperor...” She moves that card slightly toward Shira, then the Tower. “...and the fate of empires. However, some of their successors have fallen into the same trap as the Popes.”
“You mean like Dick Becket.”
“Especially him.” She sweeps up the twenty-two cards into her hands, turns them around, and holds them like a gambler. She lays down the High Priest to Shira’s left. “This is him.” Then the Emperor. “And his father, the man who calls himself king.” On a new row behind, she lays down the High Priestess. “This is me...” The Magician. “...you...” The Moon. “...and Leila. This is their fate.” Beside the Emperor, she lays down the Tower, Death, the Devil, and the Last Judgment. “This is your destiny.” Next to the Moon, the Lovers. She moves it to the right. “But first you must avoid this.” Between the Moon and the Lovers, left to right: the Three of Swords — a giant heart pierced by three swords in a dark rainstorm; the Nine of Swords — nine Damocles’ swords hanging over a woman wailing alone in bed; the Ten of Swords — a man lying dead on the ground, pierced by ten upright swords. Shira gasps, stares at the three cards in horror — then dashes into her bedroom. After about a minute, she returns with Leila’s black crystal pendant. Ariel gets up, takes it from her, studies it carefully. “Where’d you get this?”
“Stole it from Oliver just before the Spanner Incident.”
Ariel gives it back to her. “Keep it.”
“It may be the only thing that can save you right now. Keep it on you at all times. And do whatever you can to protect Leila. Okay?” Shira nods.
Someone unlocks the door and opens it. Catalina barks, then wags and licks. Charlie comes in with groceries, but suddenly stops. “Ariel?”
Ariel smiles. “Long story.”
downtown bremerton. Pizza Mafia proved so popular in their original location near Game Wars and the movie theatre that they opened up a new restaurant inside the Harborside Commons. Team Bremelo share an extra-jumbo Hawaiian Supreme pizza. Present: Shira, Jennifer, Connor, Cory, Kio, Brandi, Polly, and Rob. Brandi keeps a comforting hand on Rob’s shoulder. “Leila’s okay physically,“ he says, “but she’s still a mess inside.”
“A lot of people messed her up,“ says Shira. “Rob, I’m driving you to the clone tanks tonight. Reno rises tonight, so we gotta give him one last surprise.”
Polly throws her arms out in despair. “How can they get away with this?”
“Yeah,“ Cory adds, “how come they’re so big on rape these days?”
“I’ll explain,“ says Jennifer. “It’s called the ‘Rapeman principle’ in élite circles. The Party slaps rapists on the wrist ’cos they believe sexual coercion builds manhood. A man’s supposed to rape women to put them in their place, like their favorite Japanese superhero, Rapeman, does. That’s what Reno and Frank were trying to do to Leila. But a man rapes other men to steal their manhood and reduce them to ‘girls.’ I suspect that was Ollie’s intention.”
Connor puts his arm around Rob. “And what Bart was trying to do to you the first day of class.” Rob rolls his eyes and sighs.
Brandi stares at Jennifer in astonishment. “Do they really believe that?”
Jennifer frowns, “Once they got rid of the liberals, before they could create the complete dictatorship, they had to embrace the ultimate tyranny.”
Shira shrugs. “Ain’t America great.”
Melody stops to talk to them, but as soon as she opens her mouth, they hear a scream. Elle cries out, “Mel! Help!” Four big super soldiers dressed MIB are kidnapping her.
The Bremeloes stand up, but Brandi signals them to hold back. “Wait! They’re super soldiers and we’re not.”
Mel runs after them screaming in rage. Shira says, “Looks like Mel’s on the case.” The boys get up and run after her; Jennifer joins them. Shira, Brandi, and Polly look at them, then each other. Shira shrugs. They follow them up the stairs to the first garage level.
Drusilla’s enforcers throw Elle into their armoured black Hummer and beat her up as they speed off. Mel leaps on the roof and grabs the railings. AEGIS audiomessages Shira, “Their windows are protected by force fields.”
“Inward.” She rolls in front of the onrushing Hummer, crosses her arms and throws them a wicked cockeyed smirk. Suddenly the windows implode — along with the enforcers’ shades. They hold their eyes, she dashes out of the way, the Hummer spins out and crashes into a support pillar, Mel bounces off three cars, Elle screams in terror—
Four enforcers enraged like bulls smash out of their broken vehicle wielding thirty-shot automatic pistols, one dragging Elle out by the collar. Jennifer breaks his elbow with a kubotan shot so he drops Elle, Connor drags her away, they shoot wildly at the elusive Bremeloes — then suddenly collapse in electric convulsions.
When they rise again, they find Mel standing in the center of them, on the Hummer’s roof, sobbing, face twisted in rage, arms held down, fists clenched, surrounded by a force field like a Tesla coil (Cory blurts “Oh shit!”; the Bremeloes scatter behind cars at safe distances) — she wails, “You’re trying to take my Elle away from me!” They empty their guns at her — the bullets bounce off her Repulse field (Rob gasps), bullets fly all over the carpark missing the Bremeloes only by luck. Mel clenches her teeth in absolute hate, her eyes glow red yellow white, she lets out a scream of irrational rage—
—and four cult enforcers burst into flames, writhe in agony, scream until they fall to the ground as smoking ruins. Mel lets out a deep sigh and collapses in exhaustion. Elle and the Bremeloes emerge into the open. Called by facility security, the carpark fills with fire, paramedic, and police vehicles...
hospital. Melody cries on Elle’s chest as Shira and the Shelley twins look on. Rob holds Leila tight, strokes her hair, kisses her gently on the cheek. Shira caresses Elle’s cheek. Elle smiles.
Rob asks, “So where do we go from here?”
“You know.” Shira winks. “I’ll drive you.”
biotron labs. Oliver meets them at Reno Corson’s clone bank. He reaches out to Leila. She refuses to acknowledge him. Debbie is also here, to Leila’s anger. “What are you doing here?”
“What does it look like I’m doing? Getting revenge!”
Shira says, “We’ve got cameras set up so Frankie can get a nice good look.” She winks.
Rob adds, “We’re sending him a message.”
Soon Jennifer and Brandi arrive. Shira says, “Sorry, guys, nobody’s collecting this time.”
Jennifer crosses her arms. “Why?”
Shira sweeps her arm around. “Nobody’s giving out rewards. Even old man Mike’s disowned the bastard. Didn’t even bring my bounty hunter’s license.”
A bubbling sound inside the tank. Reno’s designated clone has started to stir. Zac Finney leaves the office with Eri Ejimoto. “He’ll be out in an hour. It’s all automatic. Unless...”
Eri commands the system AI, “Activate all clones. All of them at once.”
The AI’s female voice protests, “That is not recommended.”
“It’s an experiment. Do it.”
Soon Reno’s four other clones begin to stir. When they are fully awake, they look at their own hands, then at each other. The naked clones turn in their tanks to look at the assembled enemies with the identical murderous grin. “Reno Corson is now multilocating.”
Oliver mutters, “Well, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle.”
Reno laughs. With five voices he says, “Well, lookee here. There’s five of me and only one of each of you. I get outta here, y’all are in deep fucking shit.”
“You’re not getting out of here,“ says Leila coldly. “Boil him.”
“What the fuck—”
Eri barks, “They paid me to kill you. Now die!”
The AI informs, “Solution temperature now rising. It will reach one hundred fifteen degrees Celsius in five minutes.”
Reno panics. “No — no — Leila—”
“You wanted to kill me slowly. Too many others didn’t survive. Now it’s your turn, Reno. Deal with it.” The solution grows too hot to be bearable, Reno’s skin burns and his muscles feel on fire, he begins to scream; Leila just stares at the five of him with a maliciously satisfied smile.
The others stare in fascination, horror, or both. Debbie angrily blurts, “You guys happy now?”
Suddenly Bunny bursts in, twin blond ponytails flying. “Wait! I can’t miss this!” She lets in a slow gasp upon seeing the five naked bodies writhing and screaming in the heated tanks, then bursts out laughing at his torture as the clone-tank AI efficiently turns him into boiled meat.
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Copyright © 2012 Dennis Jernberg. Some rights reserved.
[Revision 4 Final, 8/31/12: All new material for the Fourth Revision. The second half of the Shira/Ariel scene (the title scene) taken from the Project Notebooks; the first half follows from Interlude 5.]