Chaos Angel Spanner — Chapter 16: Don’t Change the Channel
Part 6: Stalking the Wild Newtype (Final Revision)
Part 6: Stalking the Wild Newtype (Final Revision)
lecture room. Even for its size, the place is crowded. Ostensibly it’s a student meeting about school violence; it’s really the first Student Union meeting since Sunday’s disaster.
All the tutors in Dave Whitmer’s homeroom are present: Shira, Jennifer, Connor, Cory, Colette, Daisy, the Shelley twins, and Dorian. For the first time, they meet the foreign exchange students from Sylvia Plame’s: from Italy: Elena Moretti and Giulio Bartimeo; from Germany: Uwe Steinberg, Bobby Visser, and Anna St. Cyr; from Greece: Niko Pappaioannou; from France: Régine Coury and Daniel Bergman; from Japan: Fuyumi and Harumi Tachibana and their cousin Seika. Representing the GSA: Lorelei, Chuck, Lyssa, Donald, Lorine, Eddie, and now Ken. The entire Science Club is present; Kio, Fiona, Polly, and Brandi complete Team Bremelo. Faculty present: Dave, Sylvia, Elsie, and the three librarians. Charmian and Debbie accompany Dorian. All other students present represent themselves. As Student Union president, Karen takes the podium. “Now for the reason we’re here.”
Steve asks, “Is it all those armed lunatics invading our school?”
“No!” exclaims Chuck, “it’s gotta be those crazy vigilantes they got prowling the halls and scaring us half to death!”
Polly: “Come on, people, they’re an occupying army and we’re the natives!”
Karen gestures for quiet. “This is sounding like a revolutionary meeting.”
“And we’re the target,” says Shira.
“Everybody knows,” Jennifer adds, “this revolution is the revolt of a fading élite that can’t handle losing power.”
Karen says, “So we need to create an alliance so we can protect ourselves. All those in favor, raise your hands.”
Every single person here raises their hand, some quite enthusiastically.
“The Peace Committee is now official!” The whole lecture room erupts into cheers.
Suddenly the whole room goes silent at the sound of crashing and male yells next door. Shira, Jennifer, Melody, Brandi, and the Shelley twins rush into the science room. Team Valiant are trying to trash the science room; Beck and Rex try to set it on fire until they find themselves surrounded by Bremeloes. They take a defiant fighting stance. Beck yells, “Science is bad!”
Rex echoes, “Wrong, even!”
Shira flashes them a mischievous smirk. “‘Badong,’ boys?”
“Assume what you want, boys,” says Jennifer. “My science-based fighting style completely owns your faith-based one.”
Charmian comes in angry. “Bart! What in God’s name are—”
Bart slaps her “Why didn’t you do something?”
She stares at him in open-mouthed shock. “Do what?”
He slaps her again. “From now on, you do what I say and nothing else! And I’m Student Council President! America’s Manhood is too sacred to allow mere girls to lead men!” He attempts to slap her again — but she catches his arm and throws him.
She glares at him; he flinches at the pure hatred emanating from her eyes in hot tears. “You put those boys in danger and got ’em killed! You caused their girlfriends — my friends, not yours — to kill themselves in shame! You don’t know how to do anything but beat people up! Go ahead, Bart, take over. But don’t blame me if the Student Union wins!”
Another explosion at the front door. This time Shira, the Blairs, the Shelleys, and Charmian go rigid — they sense one of their own — Jennifer whispers, “It’s her! Let’s go.” Everyone who can sense the Chinese agent runs out of both rooms toward the school’s newest invader, except the Shelleys, who stay behind to protect the Student Union.
harborside hotel. “So you’re Amanda Currie?” asks the look-alike.
Amanda smiles nervously. “That’s my name, I guess.”
“Not anymore. I wanna be Amanda Currie.”
“Lucky for you I don’t.”
“All I have to do now is kill you.”
She gives her doppelgänger her brightest smile. “You don’t even have to do that. You want my identity that much, I’ll give it to you freely, ’cuz I’m not my name at all.”
hallway. They are joined by Debbie, Daisy, Irina, Melody, and the remaining Fleer sisters. Together they run down the hallway as gunshots sound ahead. Charmian asks Shira, “What gave you the silly idea that people are born equal?”
“Amazing superpowers equals better person? Ha!”
“I know you, Charmer, and so does she.”
They find the bodies of the volunteer armed guards littering a cafeteria splattered with blood. At the center of the carnage, a beautiful Asian woman sporting long black hair and Chinese-lettered black armour bodysuit. “Hey!” Connor points at her. “That’s the agent who blew up KCUF!”
The agent speaks in a Hong Kong English accent with the absolute certainty of pure faith. “Welcome, fellow neo-humans! My name is Toni Wong, and I have come here to take you home.”
harborside hotel. Amanda opens her purse, takes out the thick wallet inside, and holds it out to the woman who wants to be her. “This is ‘Amanda Currie.’”
The woman cautiously puts down her gun, gets out of her chair, walks over to snatch the wallet from Amanda’s hand. “You joking?” She opens the wallet and looks through its contents, inspects the many cards inside.
“This contains all my cards, financial obligations, social burdens, even my money — in short, my entire identity. Just take it, and it’s yours.”
Astonished, the woman says, “You’re giving up your whole identity just like that?”
“Mm-hmm!” Amanda smiles brightly. “Just like that.”
cafeteria. Her name is Toni Wong, and she has come to headhunt the “neo-humans” surrounding her for Chinese Corporatist Party (Holdings) Limited. Debbie shoots Shira a puzzled look. “‘Neo-human’?”
Daisy says, “Shin ningen.”
Shira translates: “Newtype.”
She syncs with Charmian to her shock, Rob to Connor, Jennifer to Daisy and Irina; the core Bremelo fighters sync: Shira, Jennifer, Polly: till they all link up in a shared consciousness directed against the headhunter. Toni aims her first mindstrike at Shira, who dissipates it in her reality distortion field then leaps spinning right over her; Melody hits her with a lightning bolt — but the armour bodysuit absorbs it to Melody’s shock; Connor mindslaps her to stop Toni from mindjacking her; Toni flinches. Debbie and the Fleer sisters surround her and activate their Destruct fields. The action stops. Toni says, “You impress me! You work together so beautifully. Your new employer is pleased.”
Shira snarls, “You people think we’re mere weapons, only good as mech jockeys.”
Toni mindstrikes at Shira again only to be Repulsed by Melody; the Becket cousins unleash a fireball barrage that explode on her — but she’s gone, running toward the science rooms to hunt the Student Union. They chase her as fast as they can, but they cannot catch up or stop her.
Standing in her way, alone in the hall, is the girl with no name, most powerful of the newtypes. Toni unleashes her most powerful mindstrike — the nameless girl Repulses it right back at her, into her, sending her flying back screaming in pain until Melody’s Shield stops her. She falls to her feet, half slumps, breathes heavily, surrounded entirely by a crowd of Bremelo, Valiant, and newtype fighters.
harborside hotel. “If you harm or kill me,” Amanda says, “they’ll arrest and punish you under the old name you’re trying to escape, and you’ll lose your chance to be Amanda forever. Let me live, and you’ll be the Amanda Currie the world forever remembers. Will you?”
The woman sighs. “Okay, then. I’ll let you live. I won’t even hurt you. But from now on...” She closes the wallet and gazes with wonder at the woman offering her very identity to her. “I am Amanda Currie...”
Amanda sighs with relief. “...and from now on, I’m not.”
cafeteria. Toni Wong, CCP headhunter, confronts the newtypes. “Why are you trying to keep a dying race alive? They hate us. Our existence maddens them with envy. Join with me and let them perish.”
Shira gives her a strange smile. “You mean, invade our own school like Dictel Park gangs and betray our own friends?”
“There is no need for ‘friends’ when one has purpose.” Jennifer looks at Irina; she tries to control her growing fury.
Shira’s stare turns contemptuous. “A Slenderzombie couldn’t have said it better.”
Toni points at her. “Shira Thomas! The Crusader poisoned your aura! Only we have the cure! Follow reason! Join us and live!”
“No!” exclaims Jennifer. She violently embraces Shira from behind, syncs with her so completely she gasps, activates and fuses with her Charmer power, with a hard breath draws on all the traumas of everyone in the school, summons up all the relevant passages of The Black Book of Communism she has memorized, injects it into Shira’s mind — Shira fixes Toni with her Charmer power — the mind bomb explodes—
—Mao’s victorious peasant army unleashes an orgy of hate murder death rape on prostrate Shanghai, the fury of Japanese fascism on Nanjing — great leap forward into mass starvation mass murder mass cannibalism — great proletarian revolution against culture, slave whips snapping against bloody backs, Slashers with red flags red books running amok, eat the rich eat the smart feast on brains — mass human sacrifice before Shang King Mao’s all-consuming Stirnerite Ego-god — Mao slashes through all flesh sacrifices the proletariat to himself — Fu Manchu laughs in triumph — Mao Stalin Che Becket slash slash slash — ten million gore-drenched Conservative Revolutionaries holding Little Red Books chant “One! two! forever Vietnams!” — emanating from the Synarchic Cross, slamming in her face, the logo of Dictel—
—the Chinese Corporate headhunter screams, facts of history raping her brain, her Corporation exposed to her defenseless mind — her eyes roll up in their sockets, she convulses, loses consciousness, and collapses to the floor with a sigh.
Jennifer leans over the traumatized agent and stares into her eyes with cold rage. “You’re CCP and you don’t know your founder? Well, we’re the Slasher Hunters, and your founder’s merely the greatest serial killer in history. Sleep well, headhunter.”
Only then does a COPCO SWAT force led by FBI Agent Diana Shockley arrive. Debbie angrily yells, “You’re late!”
Charmian says sourly, “So the cavalry finally arrives.”
harborside hotel. The new Amanda stares at the old with astonishment. “So who are you now?”
“Myself, and nothing more.”
“I mean your name. What’s your name?”
The now former Amanda takes a deep breath and beams joyfully. “I don’t have a name anymore.”
“Surely you gotta have a name.”
“No, I don’t. I don’t need a name at all.”
“What? You’re getting rid of your own Ego?”
Amanda nods enthusiastically. “Mm-hmm! My name, my identity, my Ego — Amanda Jane Currie, all of it now belongs to you. Forever.”
The woman stares at her in stunned silence. “Gee... thanks.”
cafeteria. As SWAT cops drag the stunned CCP enforcer away, Kelly storms up to Shira and gloats. “I saw your friend Spanner on TV last night.”
“What of it?”
“Didn’t you see him? He saw the error of his ways! He accepted Jesus America! Praise God!”
Shira laughs at her. Kelly stares back incredulously. “Are you sure that's the real Spanner?”
“That so was the real Spanner! I saw him on TV!”
“The first law of TV is that you don’t believe anything you see on TV.”
“But TV is the voice of Jesus America!”
Shira smirks. “Jesus America must be a dummy if I pranked his voice.”
“Tease the panther, you get scratched. Got it, Kelly?”
“You’re crazy!” Kelly runs away.
Shira winks at her. The girl with the violet eyes, watching the Chinese agent disappear, is not so amused. “So they’re engineering newtypes?”
“Are you forgetting?” Debbie corrects her. “Fu Manchu was like the King’s uncle or something. She’s gotta be a descendant.”
Shira flashes an ironic smirk “So now the Chink Kings are kicking their Honky cousins while they’re down? Interesting times.”
Suddenly Charmian glomps her, heedless of her nudity, anc cries. “It's not fair!" she sobs. “First Bart, now this?” Karen hugs her from behind; she lets out a huge sigh and nearly faints.
Shockley stands next to them; she and Shira trade hostile stares. “You didn’t kill her?”
“Not if we want our reward,” says Jennifer, standing uncomfortably close. “She’s a corporate headhunter, not Osama bin Laden. Go torture her if you want.”
Shockley stares at her for an unbearable endless moment. Then she turns away.
pool locker room. Shira and Elsie have the girls’ room to themselves. They lovingly soap one another. “Everything okay yet?”
“Some of the girls still won’t shower,” says Elsie. “Is Amanda okay?”
“I hope so.”
Elsie rests her head on Shira’s shoulder. “She was Mother’s golden child. She charmed her into letting her doing whatever she wanted. She thought Mom was clueless. But she was always nice to me. She always liked me better. But then one day she was a completely different person. I think Father broke her. He always hated that he never had a son.”
“He certainly got his revenge and then some.”
She sighs bitterly. “You think we’ll ever get our Amanda back?”
“We’ll know she’s back when she loses her name.”
“Our bright-eyed girl...” Elsie looks into Shira’s eyes. “What about that CCP headhunter?”
Shira holds her tight. “We’ll have to protect her. She’s staying with us.”
harborside hotel. The nameless woman, carrying her suitcase, opens the door. “Nice to meet you... Amanda.” She winks, then shuts the door behind her.
The woman now called Amanda Currie riffles through the big wallet, lovingly touching every card, taking it out and putting it back in place. “That was too easy.” She zips it and holds it against her body as if it is her life itself. Her name, her Ego, her whole life is inside. And it is now hers — it is now her. I'll show Miss No-name what she's missing.
She picks up the phone the nameless girl left her. Shira Thomas and whoever else the woman loves are no longer in its address book, but ESPNBC still is. She calls it. “Hi!” she says in a voice made cheerful by elation. “This is Amanda Currie. I’m coming back to work.”
shira’s apartment. Shira and the girl with the violet eyes stare at the television screen in despair: there, reporting for ESPNBC once again, is none other than Amanda Currie.
Someone knocks on the door. Shira walks over and spies through the peephole. The woman outside looks suspiciously familiar. She opens the door.
There, standing before her, is Amanda Currie, her hair now brown, her smile full of joy.
“No.” She slips in, shuts the door, gives Shira a grateful kiss, and points at the screen. “That’s Amanda. She’s the real one now.”
Shira’s jaw drops; she takes in a deep breath. “How’d you manage to do that?”
Amanda beams vivaciously. “Identity thief, all cut up to look like me. She wanted to be me, so I let her.”
The violet-eyed girl captures her in a tight embrace. “You’re a nameless beauty at last! You’re our bright-eyed girl!”
Shira tries to hug them both, but collapses against them and begins to cough. The bright-eyed girl panics: “Oh my god are you all right?” The violet-eyed girl rushes to the phone to call Charlie.
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Copyright © 2013 Dennis Jernberg. Some rights reserved.
[Revision 4 Final, 2/8/13: Mostly new scenes; the remaining original scenes heavily condensed and revised for Fourth Revision continuity. Original title “This Is the News”; original scenes now part of 13.3.]