Chaos Angel Spanner — Chapter 14: Plots and Plans
Part 4: When the Cat’s Away (Revision 4)
Part 4: When the Cat’s Away (Revision 4)
Pictures of the damage, of bloodstained halls and bullet-ridden walls and inconsolable students crying their hearts out, flood the Darknet and even surface on the controlled Internet. Party sites resound with praise for the shooters reclaiming their Manhood and condemnation for their losing it by dying or fleeing. No one dares mention the variously brave, reckless, and suicidal young women who confronted the shooters without their clothes, out of fear that the Party militants will hunt them down and avenge their fallen comrades’ lost Manhood; the naked heroines themselves, to avoid publicity, have long since left in separate cars.Fox: There has just been a deadly shooting at a high school in suburban Seattle—Sun: Police, ambulances, and grief counsellors are swarming onto the scene—ABCNN: Let us join in remembrance of our ABCNN News colleagues who died in the Bangor High shooting, our entire Instant News Team except for one camera operator—QVCBS: The rest tonight’s programming will be dedicated to honoring our fallen comrades, we don’t care what you think—ESPNBC: The sole survivng Instant News Team member, Amanda Currie, is now being hospitalized in stable condition—
“I’m glad you’re safe,” says Rio to the naked girls in the Mustang. Shira, Jennifer, and the girl with the violet eyes left their uniforms at school.
AEGIS is far more worried. “If you girls keep this up, they’ll kill you!”
Shira winks back. “We’re willing to risk it.”
“Like the proverb says,” Jennifer adds, “it’s better to die on your feet than live on your knees.”
“Besides,” says the violet-eyed beauty, “what better way to express your love for life than to cheat death regularly?”
The Mustang heads for downtown Bremerton on an empty highway. Outside the city, the fleeing traffic moves slowly, but at least it now moves. Three packed vans among them, each carrying one Shield protecting maybe one Positive: one has three librarians (Sally, Kitty, Chris) in the middle seat, three teachers (Elsie, Yasmin, and Eugene) in the back seat, Sylvia in the passenger seat and Charlie protecting her as she drives to Ocean City; Taylor drives those Richter-Thomases not staying out to Port Townsend; and Desiree driving Shira’s nameless neighbours, Ruby, Elle, Ayla, and Lucie. “Do we really have to go away?” asks Ayla.
“Only for the weekend, sweetheart,” Desiree replies. ”Mother’s family are coming to wreck the city, so we need to find a safe place where they can’t hurt you.”
Elle asks, “Will we get away from them in time?”
“It’s only Thursday, Elle. We’re four days early, so we should get to Ocean City sometime tonight and avoid all the insanity in the big city. We’ll have the whole weekend to spend on the beach.”
“At the special place where your Aunt Charlie and I spent our honeymoon.”
Ayla gasps. “I didn’t know sisters could get married!”
“We did. But it’s a long story, so I’ll explain it to you girls when we get there.”
“So why’s Shira staying behind?” asks Elle.
“She says she’s got a little present she wants to give to Mother and her big brothers.”
“Is Kira still alive?”
“Shira thinks so.”
The nameless women in back say nothing. They hold each other’s hands, take deep breaths, cross their fingers. Ayla looks at the stranger sitting next to her, leaning back in Elle’s arms. “What’s your name again? I forgot.“
Lucie seriously thinks about it. Suddenly she is overwhelmed by a burst of inspiration. “Luna.” She smiles radiantly, knowing in her heart she has done the right thing. “Luna Cerise.”
Desiree stares back at Lucie in shock. Ruby asks, “What’s wrong?”
“That is her name,” she sighs. She looks back at the road. Her voice now trembles with joy. “She just chose her own name!”
All her passengers cheer, except a stunned Ayla, who simply marvels, “Sugoi.” They laugh.
By the time they get to Gorst, where the highways to Tacoma and out of the city meet, the traffic nearly stops as two traffic streams merge. “Wow,” says Ruby, “there’s a lot of people trying to get out of town already.”
“Oh, this is nothing.”
The backup stretches as far as the eye can see, past the airport, all the way beyond Shelton and even Olympia. The sun begins to set. Desiree takes her camera out of the glovebox and takes pictures.
Shira, Jennifer, and Leila do not evacuate. Jennifer drives the Mustang back to downtown Bremerton, to Shira’s apartment building. When they open her door, they find not just Catalina wagging and licking, overjoyed as ever to welcome them home, but also, sitting on the couch, already nude with a fighting boots at her feet—Melody?
Jennifer crosses her arms. “Melody, aren’t you supposed to be leaving the city with your mothers?”
“No,” Melody says. “They told me to stay here and go with you. I’m your protector.”
The girl with the violet eyes puts her hands on her hips and cocks her head. “Aren’t that gang of rogue superheroes a bit much for you?”
“Do you have superpowers, Miss Factor Positive?” The two girls stare each other down.
The traffic continues to stream out of the city, gradually faster, as the sun goes down and the city goes dark.
dreamspace. Four young women awake together in the ominous darkness. Blue lines form netlike and flicker around them. Melody says, “Those must be the lines of fate Grandmother was talking about.”
“Uncle Charlie’s precog legion must be reading ’em as we speak,” says Shira.
Visions of the future float past and warp. “It this what’s really gonna happen?”
“Might happen. The future’s created by countless individual decisions. It can’t be fixed into a fate.”
Hijacked by a single will, the visions start to grow clearer and brighter, then merge. Jennifer says, “Well, one man’s trying.”
The girl with the violet eyes summons her sword familiar, rushes the giant figure of the American Crusader screaming, brings down the katana, and slays the vision—
3 october 2014.
shira’s apartment. Four young women wake up with a start to find themselves clumped naked under one blanket. Jennifer asks, “Is he really onto us this soon?”
“Soon?” replies Shira. “Always. He’ll never stop till he finds Spanner.”
Melody sniffs the room. “This smells like my mother’s room... You’re not having lesbian sex, are you?”
“Mel darling, haven’t your mothers taught you? Beautiful women in love, making love, is the most beautiful and romantic thing in the world.”
Melody blushes furiously. “Oh?” She giggles nervously. “Really?” Shira nods, then plants a kiss on her lips.
Breakfast. Hope, Ayla, Charlie, and the neighbours are long gone. The girls, the cats, and Catalina have the flat to themselves. Shira holds a fork in her left hand and thumbs the phone she holds in her right. “...there.”
Mikan purrs in the violet-eyed girl’s lap; the girl gently pets her while eating a delicious bacon-cheese omelette. “What are you doing?”
“Passing on the word. We all gotta be ready for when ol’ kingy drops by and brings the hammer down.”
Melody shudders. “I don’t know if I can go through with this. Uh... You’re the warrior, Jen! You’re used to it!”
Jennifer smiles at her. “Mel, I’ve gone through that every single time. In fact, I am right now!”
“Ohh... Will we be having a meeting somewhere?”
Shira winks. “Ever heard of the Penguindrome?”
The mouth that drops belongs to the girl with the violet eyes.
bangor high. Shira, Jennifer, Melody, and the girl with the violet eyes arrive at a front entrance guarded by two security robots and undergoing temporary repairs by an emergency construction crew. They sport the school uniform’s black-and-silver skirts with their nudefighter’s gloves and boots with because they expect merciless Echelon to watch; instead of the uniform’s blouse and scarf, they wear loose black baby tees they can easily discard in case they have to fight, bearing in white the twisted logo Shira used against Nike, now apparently the Team Bremelo logo. The robots say in Zac Finney’s hillbilly-accented voice, “Don’t worry, ladies, these bots are mine.”
Shira waves. “Hi, Zac.”
“Say, crew, could you please let ’em in?” Reluctantly the workers interrupt their work long enough to let the four girls through.
She flashes a charming smile at them and winks. “Thanks!” The entrance is uncannily quiet and clean. The workers already removed the splinters and shards Ron’s bomb reduced the advertising monitors to.
The student body are gone. The teachers are gone. Only the principals, the Student Council minus one, and Team Bremelo remain. Principal, Falconer, Mobley, and Spiekerman hunker down in the back office. The councillors and their advisors stick to their meeting room and focus on their evacuation plans for the weekend. The Bremeloes have an entire cafeteria table to themselves. The bullet holes in the walls still go unfilled; Zac’s cleaning robots are still scrubbing dried blood off the floor. The four girls take their places at the table. Polly asks them, “Where is everybody?”
Shira smiles ironically. “Trying to get as far away from the big city limits before Hurricane Roger slams this town hard.”
Jennifer notices Colette sitting next to Kio, arms around each other’s shoulders. “Colette? Aren’t you supposed to be gone already?”
Colette smiles. “We’re leaving tonight when the traffic’s better.”
Jennifer sits next to Brandi and kisses her. “We covered?”
Brandi winks. “Already taken care of.”
Slasher Hunters Press Conference“One of your student councillors is dead,” says Brandi.
[Martin Lansky addresses the reporters in Israeli military uniform, flanked by John Peck and Lars Magnus Izquierdo, as the cameras transmit and the flashbulbs go off.]
Lansky: These men were not defending their wounded manhood. They were Nihilists hiding behind the Crusade to commit evil acts of terrorism against innocent civilians. We are fully justified in destroying them.
“Mikey Rodchenko,” says Shira. “I saw Debbie sobbing over him.”
Polly blurts, “Why would they do such a thing?”
“Haven’t you heard, Polly? The Tremaynes and Rodchenkos have been feuding since the Revolution.”
2012...Kio asks, “Who’s the kid?”
Ward Tremayne: (holding the Book of America) I shall purge this city of crime and vice in the name of the Revolution!Vasily Rodchenko: (holding his AK-47 high) I spit on your so-called Revolution!
2014... At the Opening Tournament, Ronald Tremayne and Michael Rodchenko stare each other down, pure hate in their eyes. Ron snarls, Mikey smirks...
Daisy stares at Melody suspiciously. “Is that the ‘diclone’?”
Melody gasps; Shira holds her close. “She’s the one with a family who adore her. We’re proving she’s no mere killing machine.” She kisses her cheek.
Melody blushes and smiles nervously. “I promised I’d protect you all with my life.”
Brandi stands up. “I like you, kid. Welcome to Team Bremelo.”
Cory stands up. “Seconded!”
The entire team give her a standing ovation. Melody feels so overwhelmed by joy she bursts into tears.
hallway. Shira, Jennifer, Melody, and the nameless girl stare at each other by the open lockers. Decisions, decisions. Time enough to notice bullet holes in some of the lockers, none theirs. Finally, Shira breaks the silence: “Why not.” They strip off their clothes and cram them into their lockers.
Jennifer looks at the violet-eyed girl, so beautiful. “You really think pulling an Ayn Rand can keep you out of trouble with the principals?”
The girl winks. “Why not? Making Spiekerman feel helpless is quite satisfying.”
Brandi clears her throat behind them. “Are we getting ready for another fight?”
“That,” Jennifer says, “or we’re exploiting this unguarded school better than any terrorist.”
“We’re taking the fight to the terrorists tonight.”
“I don’t see how some Syndicate dogfight has anything to do with Sunday.”
The nameless girl crosses her arms and stares at Jennifer skeptically. “Jenni, you’re forgetting Stalinism’s alive and well in Salem and wants to purge all Cascadia. The Beckets couldn’t have pulled off their Revolution without the Syndicates.”
Brandi puts her hand on Melody’s shoulder. “Come with us tonight, Melody.”
Shira hugs Melody enthusiastically. “Perfect!”
Jennifer grins. “Great! Now we have two scary people!”
Shira shrugs. “Hey, some people need the shit scared out of ’em.”
“Actually,” the nameless girl replies, “some people just need to die.”
“I can easily make ’em kill each other.”
“But the devil priest is mine.”
Brandi says, “Melody, don’t worry about what to do right now. When the time comes, you’ll know exactly what to do.”
library. The school security system’s down, yet nobody responsible notices. The Bremeloes assume they’re all gone. They don’t bother to shut themselves away in the meeting room. They have the library all to themselves. Present: Shira, Jennifer, Connor, Cory, Brandi, Kio, Colette, Steve, Daisy, Akane, Harumi, Seika, and the Shelley twins; from the Slasher Hunters, Arisa Saionji—and Akimi Tachibana. Lunch: bento, provided by Mrs. Tachibana via Fuyumi. Jennifer declares. “That’s twice we’ve been attacked so far. This time we take the fight to them.”
“We know their weaknesses,” says Shira.
Akane winks at her. “I bet you know the principals’ weaknesses.”
She grins cockeyed. “Damn right. Even the dead ones.”
Cory tells him conspiratorially, “Only way she can call Falconer ‘Honey Bunny’ to her face and still get away with it.”
Seika asks, “Where’s Sana?”
“Charlie took Sana and Miss Plame with her,” replies Jennifer.
“Good,” Brandi adds. “Intel report, Arisa?”
“All the gangs in Dictel Park, one Moral Enforcer unit, one priest of the United Church of Satan,” Arisa reports. “and Oliver.”
Shira grins. “And dogs. Lots of dogs.”
“Dogs?” asks Steve. “Why dogs?”
“Fighting dogs, you see. The gangster way of dogfighting involves cramming pit bulls bred for murder with lots of bad drugs, all highly illegal. They throw ’em in the pit to fight to the death, with any injured survivors executed. They get a kick out of electrocuting and strangling their losers. And all of it’s in sacrifice to Satan, thus the devil priest. Gangland’s finest are bound to be there if they don’t wanna be square.”
Colette shakes her head. “That’s crazy!”
“By design,” the girl with the violet eyes says.
“And that we’ll be using against ’em,” Shira says. “Remember, this ain’t revenge. We’re not lowering ourselves to their level. For us it’s a rescue mission.”
“Rescue mission?” asks Daisy. “Who are we rescuing?”
“Sana’s sisters. You see, they can’t be satisfied just sacrificing dogs. They need beautiful naked virgin devotees of Allah they can offer in blood sacrifice to Satan by a sufficiently evil priest. By placating the Devil, those Enforcers think they can sacrifice away the dishonor of two straight defeats at our hands while bribing Old Scratch into keeping away from the King. Sound crazy enough?”
Colette shudders. “Oh my god, you’re already giving me nightmares!”
“It should,” the violet-eyed girl snaps.
“Is this personal for you, Leila?”
“But of course! They tried to have their will at my expense. My revenge is justified.”
Arisa shoots her a skeptical look. “You really think can handle these guys?”
“I’ve got a few skills.”
“You’ll need ’em,” Shira adds, “The city’s empty, the rats are out in force, perfect time for a rumble.”
So far, Kio has been content to listen. Now he speaks for the first time. “So what’s the plan?”
Shira leans forward, flashes her trademark cockeyed smirk, and looks into the eyes of every single one of her fellow conspirators. “It goes like this...”
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Copyright © 2013 Dennis Jernberg. Some rights reserved.
[Revision 4 Final, 1/2/13: Originally titled “I Choose Free Will”; the title scene was moved to 14.2 R4, so this installment now bears the original Revision 1 chapter name. Contains scenes from the first half of Chapter 14 R2.]