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Chapter 5: D.A.T.A.

 

“So, Doctor Kayain is it? And Professor Biggs?” said Cherry.

“Well you see… In order to keep our operations a secret, I had to, uh, disguise my name so people won’t figure out who we are,” said Kayain.

“Yea! Wha’ he said!” said Biggs.

Cherry folded her arms and frowned.

“So now you know why I had to do what I did… for all our sakes! Now don’t look at me like that. I did mention you and Tylar.”

“You said lab monkeys.“

“Figure of speech! Meaning uh… Well it means-”

The stare she gave him could make the sun set faster just to get away.

“Meaning what?”

“Um… It means… Has anyone told you how pretty you are when you’re angry? You’ve got the cutest frown, and you know-“

“Kayain. Be. Quiet.”

Kayain and Biggs salute and grin stupidly.

“No matter. TYLAR!”

“Yes ma’am?”

“These two have volunteered to unpack your stuff for you. Supervise them.”

“What?!”

Cherry raised an eyebrow at Kayain.

“I mean… What an honor! Thank you my fearless and sexy leader! And did I mention you are beautiful today?”

“Kayain?”

“Yes gorgeous?”

“Get to work.”

“Right you are!”

Cherry sighed and shook her head. Before Kayain or Biggs came in, she had just gotten off the phone with Rick Davies of D.A.T.A. (Department of Advanced Technology Application). She had briefed him on the situation, and he seemed to also be aware of the Rikti’s new power source. He was not aware that the object the Rikti had was magical, and could prove tough to break. He suggested that someone talk to Azuria of M.A.G.I. (Modern Arcane Guild of Investigation), which in Cherry’s opinion sounded much better than Danyel’s youth guild.

Cherry set up a meeting for the next day with Jared McCulley, a lead director of experimental technology. She supposed they’d have things unpacked and ready to go by then.

There was a knock at the door sometime later, and Cherry found Lord Daniel there looking a bit sheepish.

“Ah, your grace, good to see you. Come in.”

“Good to see you too. I heard your team had gotten a good deal of injuries, are they doing all right now?”

“Yes, they’re doing fine.”

“I had also heard from Kayain that…” He looked a bit unsure as he looked at her. “Well, he told me that you had got a javelin stuck in your heart?”

“Yea I did. It was very painful.”

“Right through the heart?”

“Clean cut.”

“It doesn’t bother you any?”

“No. Some people I’ve met say I don’t have a heart anyway.”

He didn’t know if he should laugh or not.

“It was a stab at humor your lordship. But I’m serious about the fact that it really hurt.”

“Quite.”

 “We’ve got Diana cooking dinner, would you care to join us?”

“That would be wonderful, I mean I have no one else to eat with today…”

Innuendo, thought Cherry. Well he never did mention a Misses Daniel.

“I see,” said Cherry. “Well you helped us get this nice place, so you’re welcome here anytime.”

“Yes, thanks.”

“What do you have there? Flowers? And a-“ Cherry stopped herself. This must be why he was a little nervous.

“Oh! This, well, uh… It’s for you!”

Cherry raised an eyebrow at him.

 “Well, not just you, but all of you. You guys went through a lot the other day, and it’s just for you guys…” Daniel tried to hide his hand as he pulled off the card and sneak it into his pocket while he handed the vase to Cherry.

A card for Regina. She thought. Poor guy was probably hoping someone stupid would answer the door and just hand it to her.

Cherry was not about to say that out loud. One thing about being a psion is being able to hear surface thoughts as easily as hearing construction work in your living room. She wasn’t always respectful when she was younger about hearing other people’s thoughts. Experience taught her that reading people’s minds was not socially acceptable, and she always pretended like they never happened.

“Oh how thoughtful of you! I heard about your cars. I’m sorry to hear that.”

“It’s ok. I have villain insurance.”

“They have that here?”

“It’s necessary.”

“I would hope so.”

“GIVE THAT BACK!” They heard someone yell.

“Excuse me your grace, I must go discipline the children.”

Cherry walked over and saw Kayain holding a remote in his hands high above Tylar. Tylar was looking distressed and trying to jump and grab it.

“Come on Tylar! Jump boy, jump!”

“Give it! Give that back!”

Now Tylar was swinging at Kayain with his eyes closed while Kayain held his head away from him. Kayain looks over and sees Cherry in the doorway and lets the remote go as he puts an arm around Tylar.

“We were just playing, honest!”

“Arsehole! You were not!”

“Na ah!”

“Uh hua!”

“Kayain, give Tylar back his toy. Now apologize! You heard me young man, now apologize!”

Lord Daniel idly strolled around the living area. Diana came in and looked around.

“Has anyone seen my hot gloves? I need to get this pan off the- Oh! Lord Daniel, good to see you!”

“Hello ma’am. I had heard you were injured yesterday. I see you’ve made a good recovery.”

“Oh yea, I’m tougher than I look!”

“That’s reassuring. You certainly do look very strong.”

“Dat’s cause I always do my exercises and gymnastics! Hey don’t tell Danny I told you this, but I can beat him in arm wresting!”

Lord Daniel chuckles a bit and says,” Oh. I won’t tell.”

“Yea, I always tease him about that, and- Hey! Regina, have you seen my hot gloves?”

Regina had a towel in her hair and an untied bathrobe. She carried Diana’s gloves and tossed them over to her. She looked at Daniel and said,” Oh, excuse me. I didn’t realize we had company.”

Daniel’s libido decided to take control of certain motor functions in his brain. It looked at the control buttons and picked, ‘get aroused’, then for effect he picked,’ drop jaw’, and ‘salivate’. ‘Stare shamelessly’ was a must, and for good measure it picked ‘babble incoherently’. Daniel managed a good,” Gaaa…”

 “Diana, your gloves were packed in my things… along with some other personal effects…”

“Oh,” said Diana. “You mean my-“

“Yes.”

“How about that gel that me and Danyel use when we-“

“YES!”

“Ok, how about-“

“Yes, yes and yes! Please don’t mention those filthy things in front of our guest!”

“Right you are!”

“Lord Daniel. Please make yourself at home here. I will put on something a little more appropriate.”

“Gaaa…”

“Will you be joining us for dinner?” said Diana.

“Ah… what?”

“Dinner? Are you joining us for dinner?”

“Oh! As long as it’s ok with the cook!”

“Absolutely!” said Diana with a smile. “I hope you’ll enjoy it!”

“I’m sure I will.”

Diana went back to the kitchen and prepared her food. Diana’s mother is a renowned chef in her country. Fortunately she inherited her mother’s creativeness and good taste in the culinary arts. She takes her Kung Pow as seriously as she takes her Kung Fu.

Diana goes back and spends a few minutes arranging the table, making sure the utensils are exactly the same distance apart, right down to the smallest unit of measurement. When she comes out to call everyone, she sees Lord Daniel talking nervously to Regina.

“That’s nice… You must have been to a lot of places. Which is your favorite?”

“My favorite will always be the Palace of Life in Matronia.”

“What is that place like?”

“Well it’s the ancestral home of all the previous Patriarchs of Matronia, and it was built thousands of years ago. The place is the size of a city. They have gardens, which are open to the public. Those are absolutely stunning. The hallways have statues of famous warriors of old. The architecture is amazing, and the marble and tiles are very well kept all the time. There’s a worship area that has beautiful stained glass pictures that run all the way to the top. And on the top there’s some ancient art that’s been there for eons. And of course there is an art gallery that’s incredible.”

“Wow.”

“Yes I couldn’t explain it all in one day. It’s way too much. But people do business in a marketplace area too. And people can stay in suites where the living room is the size of half this whole suite.”

“That must be expensive.”

“Indeed. But they do have smaller areas for tourists who are just on vacation. And they also have a luxurious bath area. Of course there is a men’s section and a women’s section. I’m forbidden to enter the men’s section, but the ladies section is filled with fountains, bath salts, a natural spring underneath-“

Diana watched with interest as Daniel’s libido made him twitch and squirm nervously around Regina. She and Kayain were usually slow when it came to picking up those little signals that people sent to let them know that there was a crush going on somewhere.

“That place sounds incredible. Wish I could go there sometime…”

“Who knows, maybe you will someday…”

And then there was the awkward silence, the kind of silence that you could hear gnat having a heart attack in.

Diana cleared her throat politely, and they both looked over, glad the silence was over.

“Well dinner is ready, guys, so go tell the rest to get their butts in gear and head to the table. Daniel, please join us at the table, and I’ll get the food served.”

It wasn’t often they got to all eat together. Diana enjoyed it when they did, because she could go all out with the food.

“Gina?” said Diana as soon as Daniel left the room.

“Yes Di?”

“Does he… well you know… do you… I mean does he… are you two, umm-“

“Yes, Di, we’re umm.”

“What I mean is, does he have a crush on you?”

“No, he’s just usually sweaty and nervous.”

“Hey, are you being sarcastic?”

“Sarcastic? Me? Never.”

“Oh ok. So… what about you? Do you like him?”

Regina gave a little smile and said,” Let’s get the guys shall we?” And she disappeared.

“Hey! Don’t do that to me!”

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Four heavily armed guards escorted a man down the halls of the Ziggurat ignoring the sneers and comments of the inmates. Several times a guard had to prod some of them with a tazer to keep their hands off the man’s jacket. They continued to hoot and holler as they approached cell B295, where they saw a man sitting in a thoughtful position, and smoking a cigar.

“It’s too early for beating time, so what the hell do you want?”

The man remained composed and said,” Virulent? Agent Sylvester Virulent?”

“Who’s asking?”

“I work with a branch of D.A.T.A. My name is Edmond Derickson.”

“Yea? D.A.T.A. is it? You a researcher Mister Derickson? You look like a gawd damn pencil pusher to me.”

“I handle many affairs Mister Virulent. But I was called here by Warden Young on a case they’ve been working on down here in the Zig.”

“Working on? Hah! You mean couldn’t handle. These guys couldn’t find their asses with their heads on backwards.”

“This is a very sensitive case Mister Virulent.”

“Oh yea, I’m sure. ‘S why they sent you all the way down here away from your fancy office with a view and your weekends on your gawd damn yacht. I’m sure a pencil pushing prick like yourself was just itching to come on down to the bowls of hell just to do a little work.” Virulent pressed his hands on the jail bars. “And hey! While you’re at it, why not go look up ol’ Virulent you son of a bitch! Now are you going to tell me what you want or not?”

One of the guards raised a baton to push him away, but Derickson raised a hand to stop him.

“Very well Mister Virulent. It’s known you were used by Crey Corp as a test subject for Nano Technology. We also know you were the lead researcher in this project. And you know more than anyone about this kind of technology. We want to use you and your talents in a research project.”

“Ha! More research. You know that research landed me here in the Zig in the first place? Giving an ordinary man that much power corrupts them. It’s playing God Mister Derickson. You’ve got those spandex clad faggots running around Paragon City already, are you sure you need more of them? Are you sure you want to be responsible for giving corrupt people more power? Are you sure you want to go there Mister Derickson?”

“We don’t plan on using it for evil Mister Virulent.”

Virulent blew a smoke ring at Derickson, and grinned maliciously.

“I’m sure you aren’t Mister Derickson. You’ll use it for your so-called ‘justice’, and freedom, and other bullshit phrases you guys use. And who decides who gets to be Nano Upgraded?”

“We do Mister Virulent. And with these Nano Augments we could also make a leap forward in many other areas of technology. Medical-“

“The government gets to decide who gets the treatments eh? Oh yea, I totally trust the government to make decisions like that. So what’s in it for me? More jell-o at lunchtime? A free slushy coupon? I’ve already got a life sentence without parole you jackass, what could you possibly give me that I want?”

“We can offer you parole and a hearing after we are satisfied with your work.”

Virulent let out a humorless laugh.

“Is that the best you can think of?”

“If you want we can throw in that free slushy coupon.”

“Oh now you think you’re funny Mister Derickson. All right you jackass, I’ll do it. I’ve got nothing else to loose. And I’m warning you now. When used properly, Nano Technology in the wrong hands will be more devastating then the nuclear freaking bomb itself. This is going to be on both of our consciences you damn fool.”

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“All right! Who will lead us in p-“

“I WILL LASS!” said Biggs.

“Ok then, Biggs will lead us all in prayer,” said Diana.

This should be good, thought Cherry.

“All righ’! Everyone shut feck up! Now I would like to start with a verse from the book of Deckohodrin… Ahem.

“So the lord he did smite the sinners, and cast them into the fiery’ bowls of hell. An thus he did say,’ That ought ta kool yas off ya blasphemous heathens! Oh wait, I mean fire things up har, har!’”

Diana and Cherry raised an eyebrow and Kayain and Danyel exchanged glances. Lu Bu, Kat, and Solo were the only ones taking it seriously and had their heads bowed.

“An so the unclean heathens spoke out against our lord Jeebus, and thus it was written that he did bring forth swift and utter justice upon the sinners by means of a flamethrower. Give him praise and glory.”

“Praise and glory!” said Lu Bu and Kat.

“Amen brotha!” said Solo.

“And thus in chapters 34:2 of Excrements, the apostle Billy Bob did raise his holy rocket propelled grenade launcher at the-“

“Biggs?” said Cherry.

“Yes cap’n?”

“Get on with it.”

“Righ’ ya are cap’n! Anyway, Thank you lord for dis wonderful meal, and bless it as it is about ta be consumed by these poor unfortunate heathens. And may they burn in hell eternally. By your mercy. Amen.”

“Amen!”

“Praise and glory!”

“Wha?”

“Umm…”

Cherry’s family had been raised religiously. Matronian beliefs are similar to Human Catholic beliefs. Cherry was very sure Catholicism didn’t go like that at all.

“Ok… that was interesting,” said Lord Daniel.

“You should hear him give a sermon,” said Regina.

“Well I say the food is absolutely delicious. Thank you very much Diana.”

“Thanks for the compliment,” said Diana. “Enjoying yourself Lu Bu?”

“Ah, thanks for the Eaaargh. It’s just like mom used to make it.”

“The what?” said Daniel.

“This,” said Lu Bu.“ Is Eaaargh. A fine Orcish delicacy. And even though Diana is an extremely ugly Orcish woman, she can still cook better than our finest.”

Lu Bu is sitting across from Daniel, and shows him a pile of random organs and Kentucky Fried Chicken heads

“Ugly Orcish woman?” said Diana. “Wow, I didn’t know I was considered ugly by some standards.”

Daniel gags as he watches Lu Bu take a hearty crunch into a chicken head, making goo ooze out of the eyes.

Kayain slaps him on the back and says,” Don’t eat so fast man! You’re choking.”

Daniel hears a sickening crunch as he tears into the beak.

“Oh by the way, who got the groceries?” said Kayain, who realized too late he had made a mistake.

“You mean you didn’t?” said Cherry who narrowed her eyes at him.

“Duh… um… Gosh you’re cute today!”

“And you’ve got 4 weeks with Tylar when we get back.”

“AAAWWW!”

“Now, as you were saying, who did pick up the groceries?”

“I did,” said Danyel. “On the way back home I did. I figured I should since Kayain bought tons of booze.”

Kayain slapped his hand to his forehead and gritted his teeth.

“And, you got tons of booze even though I told you not to get it?”

“Yea, but… I was going to share! Honest!”

Cherry folds her hands and presses them against her lips.

“Kayain, what are we going to do with you? Sure you can fight, but you can’t even go accomplish the simplest of tasks.”

“If it helps, I’m also very good at sex,” he said with a grin.

“Oh yes, that’s right. Very good at sex. What would the world do without you?”

“Damn right! You wanna ride space mountain baby?”

“Kayain! Not at the dinner table,” said Regina.

“No, no, it’s ok Gina. Sure thing Kayain, only what color maid outfit do you want after you become my personal slave?”

Kayain frowned.

“What’s the matter Kayain? Frustrated you can’t be your usual perverted self? You can quit at any time, just say the words,’ I quit’, and everyone will hear about how I beat you. Again.”

“That isn’t going to happen,” he said through gritted teeth. “Cause I’m a winner! Always have been, always will be.”

“You’ll quit. Soon enough you’ll quit.”

“No way… speaking of that though, which one of you faggots booked the rooms?”

“The same faggot who gets to bang your sister every night,” said Danyel.

Diana laughed as Kayain frowned again.

“What happened to my room? I wanted a quiet room with nothing but a bed! How am I supposed to beat her if I gotta smell her all the time?”

“What’s this? Is Kayain saying he,’ Can’t handle it’?”

Kayain pointed a finger about to say something but instead said,” Can’t handle it?! Me? Are you kidding me?! Look who you’re talking to! I’m the man, the myth, the legend! I can tame this shrew!”

“Shrew?!”

“Yea, that’s right, you heard me! A vicious shrew! And I’m immune to all your little mind games! Cause you’re so ugly! Yea that’s right, I said it! You couldn’t turn on a garden hose!”

“Sounds like another’ bet ter me,” said Biggs. “You two keep at it, I’ll go write ta contract!”

“That won’t be necessary Biggs. So I’m ugly now am I? Couldn’t turn on a garden hose?”

“Oh yes indeed!”

Cherry leans over the table showing a bit of cleavage at him, making his eyes move away quickly.

“It’s not working.”

“Indeed.”

Lord Daniel nudges Regina and asks,” Are things always like this between them?”

“No actually.”

“Well that’s good to hear.”

“It’s really very mild today.”

“Oh.”

“Come to think of it, it’s quieter than it usually is when we all eat together, and I suppose most of them are on their best behavior since we have company.”

Lord Daniel looked around at Lu Bu crunching away loudly on what looked like a possum head, Biggs preaching the book of Arms to Solo, Tylar using a wristwatch laser cutter on his food, not realizing he’s cutting the table in half as well, and Kat trying to levitate his food and setting it on fire.

“-No way, cause I’m prettier than you and my tits are bigger than yours-” said Kayain.

“-And so the prophet Duke Nukem said,’ Thou shalt interact with my buttocks with a kiss-“

“-Umm… we have a fire incident here guys-“ said Kat

“-I think I should readjust the strength to this for steak-“ said Tylar

“Oh,” said Lord Daniel. He shuddered to think what a wild day was.

“Just enjoy the show. It’s almost as good as daytime Television,” said Regina.

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Agent Virulent was taken to a special holding area. Inside were other humans all asleep in these liquid filled chambers with tubes all along their bodies. Virulent knew what these were. They were storage areas for particularly dangerous villains who the special disruption collars did not work on. The disruption collars would sap away strength and power of mutants, control magic, and psionics. Virulent didn’t need a collar because his power was simply deactivated.

Lucky bastards, he thought. These suckers get to sleep away their sentences. Some of them will sleep till the end of time. The government is too scared to execute these guys… some of them need to be put down. And some of them are just too powerful to be put down by any normal means. Heroes could do it… only heroes don’t kill sleeping villains. But me, I’d kill each and every one of these sons of bitches. And now here I am helping the supposed ‘good guys’ in research and experiments on these assholes. I suppose there is a bit of irony in this, and that is: when villains do human experiments it’s considered inhumane, but when heroes do it, it’s ‘for the greater good’. No matter how much sugar coating you put on it, it’s still wrong to do human experiments.

“Here we are. Prisoners number 38321 and 38322,” said Derickson. “They were given to us by an anonymous hero from another world. He said they were Nano augmented, and extremely dangerous. He wanted them here in case they ever woke up, so the super powered heroes would be able to handle them. Records show the hero removed some key components in their augments, so even if they do wake up, they will be no serious threat.

Your job is to work with this team and guide them with your knowledge. I look forward to hearing what kind of progress you’ve made.”

“Scrawny little guys aren’t they?” he said.

“Excuse me?”

“All right, listen up!” said Virulent.

When a muscular man walks into a room full of nerds, there will definitely be obedience.

“I’m your new boss. Any questions about research will come to me! Any complaints will be taken care of thoroughly. If I catch you slacking off, I’ll ring your scrawny pencil necks. Prison has made me a very paranoid and angry man. If I so much as hear that someone’s been talking behind my back… For everyone else it’s best not to be within three miles of me and the offender. To be perfectly clear, I hate you all, and you hate me. But we have a job to do, and we’re gonna damn well get it done, understood?”

Most of the geeks here had never in their life seen a man with that kind of build in their presence. The only time they had was playing some online RPG, and there they could fight back.

They all managed to squeak out,” Yes.”

“Good, now get back to work jackasses. Mister Derickson, I can handle things from here. Don’t you have some kind of golf meeting to do?”

Derickson sighs and says,” Yes, of course, a golf meeting. Just please don’t kill any of our researchers.”

“Kill them? No, but if they cross me the most I’ll do is make em wish they were dead.”

“That’s reassuring. Well, please get acquainted with Mister Ion in the corner there. He’s the lead researcher on this project. Good day Mister Virulent.”

“Yea, up yours.”

“Humm?”

“Good day to you too.”

Virulent threw the finger at Derickson as he walked away, and set off to look at his new lab rats. The tags read,” Dorian E. Williams, and Jenna F. Williams; Terran”

Damn, those are some heavy augmentations. I can see the grey veins on their bodies. It’s probably the color of their blood. And what’s this…

Who’s there?

“Hey!” said Virulent. “Which one of you said that?”

The researchers looked around puzzled, none of them were talking loudly.

That was weird, he thought. I could have sworn I heard something.

But you did.

Virulent looked around, then looked at the two in the chamber.

You? He thought, you’re some kind of telepath?

Dorian said, not exactly, but my wife is. I’m simply using the datalink in my head to communicate with yours.

Well damn, he thought. The whole time, these bozos thought you were sleeping, and not functioning at all.

Dorian said, no, we’ve merely been put on standby mode. They’re using our nanites against us to keep us sedated.

Man, and they were planning on chopping you guys to pieces and taking out your nanites.

That must not happen, for your own safety.

And why’s that?

Simply because my benefactor will know if I’ve been killed, or my augmentations have been tampered beyond repair. When that happens, he will begin the cloning sequence, and all my memories, and information will be sent automatically to him for a new me. I can assure you should that happen I will come back and kill you all.

Makes sense. So why hasn’t he made a clone of you already?

Because I’m in a stasis mode, and it’s not considered lethal or serious irreparable damage. The reason there is not more than one clone of me is I tend to be a pain to my other clones, and there is plenty of backstabbing.

Sounds like you must have tried that before. Fun trial and error eh?

Indeed. But this way, Jenna and I can be immortal.

Ah, immortality. And what does your boss get out of this?

He wishes to rule, and create the universe in his own image. I am his agent when he needs ‘political’ work done.

An Assassin?

To put it bluntly yes. Now, if I could get your help, I would be ever so grateful.

That’s going to be hard, Mister. We have all these guards, see…

Guards are nothing compared to the pain I can bring you.

That may be true. Or maybe I can tell them all about your little scheme and let them leave you here to rot.

You could. But I can guarantee you will not regret helping me out.

My love’s for the highest bidder. What can you offer me?

Whatever you want.

Not very specific are you? All I want is to go home, get the hell away from all human life, and stay there.

That can be arranged. Peace comes at a price though… My wife tells me you have an important visitor.

A scientist approached Virulent and said,” Mr. Virulent? The guard said you have a visitor…”

“I’ll be there in a minute.”

Now you listen to me Williams, he thought. I’m gonna see what I can do for you. Not because of your promises, but because I don’t agree with what these so called heroes are doing. They scheme and plot against the people for their own benefits, and I don’t want any part of it. I’m going with you only because when I ask ya if you’re an untrustworthy evil bastard, you won’t lie about that.

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Later in the day everyone except for Tylar was getting ready to sleep. Tylar preferred to stay up working on either his robots or his Pokemon deck Cherry had taken a long shower as she always does. She enters the room wearing her towel, and sees Kayain practicing his Martial Arts form.

“Kayain!” she said with mock surprise. “I thought you were practicing in the living area.”

“I was, but Biggs started preaching so I had to leave. Then I went to the extra room, and for some reason Kat is on the ceiling doing some kind of upside down naked Tai Chi…”

“Dear me, sounds very unpleasant.”

“Oh hell yea.”

“Well I’m going to, you know, get dressed… You know, because I’m not wearing anything at all.”

Kayain frowned,” I know that! And that’s not gonna work, cause I’m resistant to that kind of stuff!”

“Sure you are.”

Cherry goes behind a dressing curtain and turns on a lamp. Kayain, pretending not to be interested, looks up and sees her outline in the curtain as she throws the towel over.

Oh God… He thought. Every curve in her body is so… NO! I must not look!

Kayain gets down and starts doing push ups.

“Oh Kayain,” said Cherry innocently.

“Yes?”

“Can you hand me my panties? I left them on the drawer over there.”

“What?! No! I’m not touching those- Oh dear God…”

They were his favorite kind of panties, white cotton thong.

“Yes, those, hand them to me,” she said sweetly.

“No I… Don’t you have some Granny Panties or something?”

“The closest I have are the edible ones you got for me on my birthday.”

“Ah-ha… Ok the thong it is.”

He balled it up and threw it across the room, hitting the curtain.

“Kayain, do I have to come out and get it myself?”

“NO! No… I… you… Just stay put.”

Kayain grabbed his training staff and put it at the end of it.

“Here, take it.”

Cherry almost laughed out loud when she saw the staff.

Kayain resumed his push-ups, but switched to handstand push-ups. Cherry came out and Kayain fell over. She was wearing a white tee shirt that reached only down to the end of her butt.

“Why’d you fall down?”

“Ah, well I just, uh, messed up.”

Cherry smiled satisfied with herself.

“I’m going to do some stretching now,” she said.

“Yea, sure whatever.”

For the next twenty minutes Kayain fought the hardest self-conflict battle he’s ever fought in his life: To stare shamelessly or not to stare. He decided to do Kata with his staff.

“Cherry, hand me the staff please.”

“Sure thing Kay.”

She had a good idea and bumped the staff over.

“Oops! Clumsy me. Let me pick it up for you.”

Very deliberately she bent down slowly. She let it slip from her hands and bent down again.

When faced with a problem, Kayain had two fail proof ways of dealing with it: Pound the hell out of it (In this case the wording was the same only sexual in nature), or run the hell away.

“Here you go-“ she began, but saw he had already ran out of the room. Satisfied, she lay down and tried to get some rest.

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Kayain hated to admit it, but it was going to be too much for him if she was going to act like that.

I could say, he thought. That I need a separate room because… Cherry’s using a new, feminine hygiene spray that I’m allergic to cause she’s got, oh I don’t know what… A new strain of kooties…. Yea that will do.

Kayain stormed off to Danyel’s room, and burst inside.

“Listen up losers! I- OH GOD NO! MY EYES! THEY BURN!”

“Mmm… Hello Kayain, we’re kind of busy…” moaned Diana.

“Hey man! The door was locked for a reason you jerk!” said Danyel.

Kayain’s face twisted in sheer horror, and proceeded to the nearest restroom to throw up.

---------------------------------------------

Virulent found himself seated on the other side of a window with a strange woman who he had never met before. She didn’t look like anyone he’d ever had a booty call with. Sometimes he’d be too drunk to remember, but he was sure he’d remember a face like hers.

“Alright darlin’, spill it. Who are you, who do you work for, and what are you offering.”

She smiled.

“It seems, Mister Virulent, that you are very popular today.”

“I didn’t want to be.”

“My name is Marino, I work for Lord Recluse. I believe you’ve heard of him?”

“Yea I heard of the guy. What’s he want with a guy like me?”

“We want to grant you an opportunity for greatness Mister Virulent. Lord Recluse has taken interest in you and those who are like you. You are very misunderstood, and Lord Recluse wishes to offer you a chance to rise above the rest, and gain the respect you deserve.”

“That’s nice darlin’. But all I want outta life is a nice and secluded island to call my own. A magical place where roast pig is served every day, the martini machine never runs dry, and women play naked on the beaches. Think your lord can give me something like that eh?”

“I’m sure a man of your talents is more than qualified to earn your… vulgar request. Lord Recluse’s loyal subjects are always rewarded richly.”

“No kiddin’… So what’s he want with me now?”

“Our sources say you have been transferred to the stasis holding cells under the guise of some D.A.T.A. research experiment.”

“You’re pretty informed.”

“We have our ways. We need your cooperation for a little project of our own. Project Destiny is the name.”

“Project Destiny hua? Sounds important.”

“Yes. I must not speak the details loudly for fear of the guards overhearing. But should you accept Lord Recluse’s generous offer, you will be handsomely rewarded.”

A guard came by and said,” Ok ma’am, we checked out your gift. It’s clean.”

The guard handed Virulent a box of Cuban cigars, one of his favorite brands.

“Gawd… you really did your homework on me didn’t you?”

“As I said, we have our ways. We will get in contact with you again Mister Virulent with more details. You can make your decision by then.”

He sniffs the cigars and nods. He wonders what would happen if he said no to all the offers today. He shook his head and thought realistically

He thought, When someone says they’re the one’s being ‘generous’ by offering you a good choice, what they really mean is, ‘You’re going to do it, or we’ll kill you’.

These aren’t offers, they’re warnings…

---------------------------------------------

That night, Kayain demanded that Cherry put him asleep psionically. She didn’t argue, and knocked him out cold almost instantly. She didn’t know what Kayain was fussing about all this time about Danyel and Diana until the day she accidentally walked in on them. She kind of feels sorry for Kayain now.

When it came down to it, he really could be a sweetheart. She remembered how he was back in high school, and smiled. She thought about way back when they first became Vigilantes. He was on top of the world, until he met Leda…

She was beautiful, tall, busty, and every bit as perverted as Kayain. Quite possibly even more so.

Leda was the top mechanic for the Vigilantes. She had learned mechanics from her father. They would both make vehicles for racing from scratch. Everything else just came naturally.

Cherry sighed as she thought about Leda. She wanted Kayain from the beginning, and she kind of freaked him out. She would hit on him exactly like he’d hit on other women, and it was very new even to him. And for the first time in his life, he said no to a woman. That only made her try harder.

She didn’t know what it was, but Kayain started to change because of her. He wasn’t womanizing anymore, he didn’t party that often, and he trained more often. Cherry picked up that he was more than likely in love with her. And he didn’t know how to handle it.

Even Cherry was realizing that someone like Kayain was capable of love. It was hard for her to believe, but she supposed she should have known it all along.

She was drifting to sleep, and dreamed of what she considered one of the worst days in her life…

---------------------------------------------

Cherry and Leda strolled the vast hallway of the Palace of Life in their bathrobes. They entered the women’s bath area, and Leda grinned.

“Oh Cherry! This place is awesome! The whole palace is breathtaking!”

“I didn’t know you’ve never been here before.”

“No, I’ve never been able to afford it. My family wasn’t very rich you know.”

It was very true. Leda would send half her paycheck back home to her folks. Leda was kind, generous, and overall extremely likable.

Over time Cherry and Leda had become very good friends. Cherry didn’t have very many friends, she was better suited at making enemies. Leda was one of the very few close and personal friends she had ever had in her entire life.

“Well I hope you’re really enjoying yourself. We come here often on our vacation times. It’s peaceful and relaxing.”

They took off their robes and got into the main pool. The water was warm and relaxing. They took up a spot by a fountain.

Leda put her head under the running water and playfully splashed Cherry. After a while of splashing Leda looks up and asks,” Hey Cherry, what are those flowers up there for?”

“Humm?”

Cherry sees the flowers strung together decorating the ceiling.

“Those? You mean you don’t know?”

“Cherry, I’m Terran. I’m not familiar with your Matronian customs.”

“Well like you guys celebrate Saint Valentine’s day, so do we. Only we celebrate it differently in the fact that our story is not the same one. You see, long ago there was this Terran man named Garret who fell in love with a Matronian Noblewoman named Valentine. So now you know who my sister was named after. Back then laws were stricter, and not even the nobles could marry outsiders.

The man pleaded with the Patriarch to change the rules, since he is the only one who can. But the Patriarch at the time was a cruel tyrant, and not about to be the one who would break a ten thousand year tradition for some Terran man, so he said no. And truth be told, he was planning an invasion on the Terran colonies in the next year.

So they decided to do the smart thing and elope. Well the Patriarch found out about it and went ballistic. He hated the Terrans, and took it as a personal insult. He then sentenced them to pay for high treason. He had assassins sent out to kill them both.

They succeeded in killing Valentine, but not Garret. In his grief, they continued to pursue him. He knew the Patriarch would not give up until he was dead. So he knew what he had to do.

On this very day, he stormed the Palace of Life, and defeated all who stood against him. From each soldier he dropped, he took an old emblem of a flower called the Valentine, and strung it up like a necklace. Kind of a poetic isn’t it?

He finally approached the Patriarch on the throne wearing three hundred Valentines. It was the most amazing feat anyone has ever seen before. The guards by the Patriarch fled, not wanting to be numbers three hundred one, two, and three.

The Patriarch was furious and attacked him recklessly. The fight was quick and ended with the Patriarch getting disemboweled.

This Patriarch had no children, or siblings, so his line was ended there. The successor to the throne came in as the Patriarch died. By then, Garret collapsed. And the successor was my ancestor, Leviticus Terril.

Leviticus witnessed the entire event, and waited until it was all over to come out. He pulled the Valentine off the Patriarch, and handed it to Garret as he picked him up. He then told him he knew what the Patriarch had done to him, and that he was the mightiest warrior Matronia had ever seen.

Garret was granted a full pardon, and said he was allowed to leave. But he died of exhaustion in Leviticus’ hands.”

“Wow,” said Leda. “That’s a neat story. A man single handedly defeats a tyrant ruler to avenge the one he loves.”

“Yes, and they have a tradition here. They say if you collect three hundred and one Valentines, and give them to your beloved on Valentine’s Day it is one of the greatest ways to show your dedication and love for that person.”

“Really?”

“Oh yes. But I don’t go for things like that.”

“You don’t? Pfft, you’re not very romantic are you?”

“I’m afraid I haven’t had much practice. Most of the guys I ever dated… well they were a bit frightened that I might do something awful to them since I always seemed to know what they were thinking.”

“Yea, that would make things tough wouldn’t it?”

“You have no idea,” she said and sighed. “Anyway, they have a statue of Garret in the eastern memorial corridor. Poets wrote many stories about him. You can find them in our library, should you not get lost.”

“Yea I know, everything here is so grand. It’s a bit overwhelming sometimes.”

Cherry’s dream pulled her ahead a couple of hours when she had a stroll in the flower fields outside the palace.

She counted her basket several times, and made sure she had exactly three hundred and one Valentines. From behind she heard the last voice she wanted to hear at the moment.

“So, did you get all three hundred and one?” said Leda.

Cherry, extremely embarrassed and surprised, did not turn around just yet.

“I uh… Well I…It’s really, eh, not what it looks like?”

“Nice try. You really seem dedicated for not believing in silly folklore aren’t you?”

“It’s for an experiment.”

“Uh hua. So, at what point in this experiment do you plan on giving that necklace to Kayain?”

“I don’t! It’s… none of your business anyway!”

Leda looked at her flustered face and smiled.

“Cherry,” she said as she took a step closer. “I know about you and him. And I want to show you something.”

She pulls out her necklace, full of Valentines.

“This is three hundred and one. You know very well I love Kayain. And I know you do to,” said Leda. She moved in closer to Cherry and held a finger up. “And if you keep your feelings all bottled up all the time, you’re gonna be sad and lonely for a very long time.”

Cherry was speechless.

“Now,” said Leda as she pocketed the necklace. ”I’m gonna give you a few hours to decide if you’re going to give that to him or not. If you don’t, then I’ll give him mine! That’s right, if you don’t admit you love him then I’ll steal him from you! I would have made a move sooner, but I wanted you to have a chance because you’re my friend!”

And with that she strode off, leaving Cherry feeling like a jerk.

Cherry’s mind wandered to the evening of that day, where she paced nervously in Kayain’s room. She was mentally rehearsing something to say, and getting very frustrated. She looks at her necklace and sighs.

Kayain bursts in the room, looking troubled and breathing heavily. Cherry quickly hides the necklace behind her back.

“Cherry!” said Kayain as he strode towards her, ”What the hell are you doing here?”

“I was… uh… Looking for you Kayain…”

“Looking for me? Then you already know?”

“Well no, I just-“

“You haven’t? Then what the hell are you doing in my room?”

Cherry went silent.

“Oh, look, it doesn’t matter. Cherry we’ve got a problem! Someone’s kidnapped Leda!”

“What?!”

“She’s been kidnapped! Remember we heard the Quantum Syndicate was in town? I’m willing to bet money it was them.”

“No… Why now?!”

“I don’t know, but they did leave this ransom note.”

Cherry read the note. It said for them to exchange Cherry for Leda’s life. Should they not comply to meet them in the specific location in the next 3 hours, she was as good as dead.

“They want me for my bounty,” said Cherry. “And they know we’re all very close to Leda.”

“What are we going to do?”

Cherry stirred a bit in her dream as she felt a presence. She went into her trance state to check for intruders, and found someone.

“Miss Cherry?” she heard.

“War Witch? What are-”

“I’m very sorry. I was traveling the astral plane as I usually do and saw you again. I thought I would come and say hello, and… well I didn’t mean to intrude. It seemed a very sad event.”

“So you saw everything?”

“I didn’t mean to.”

“Look… it happened a long time ago-“

“I really don’t think I should know. It seems very personal and I don’t want to intrude.”

“That’s ok. It’s kind of a sensitive subject with me anyway. So what brings you back to this area?”

“I overhead a conversation of the people who were trying to kill you. I happened to catch their names. One was named Dorian Williams, the other, Jenna Williams.”

“Ah! I know them. My father’s arch nemesis’. Harder to get rid of then bamboo. So this is the planet he left them on. I suppose he did that because of all the super powered folk who live here. If they escape somehow we’ll have enough firepower to take them down.”

“How bad were they?”

“Think of it this way… imagine someone with the precision of a machine, with the ability to learn like we do. Also think of someone who can learn and remember things like a machine can. You’ve got a serious combination of man and machine.”

“That is a pretty big problem.”

“Yea, but I believe he may get overwhelmed here with all the people just like him… At least I hope he does.”

---------------------------------------------

The following morning was the usual hustle and bustle. Cherry yelling at everyone, Danyel lazing around the TV, Kayain tossing Tylar out of the shower in front of Ami and Regina, Biggs in early morning meditation (watching porn in his room), Lu Bu lumbering around the house knocking things over, Kat and Solo playing a game of poker on an ironing board.

Diana was the only one doing something useful by cooking bacon and eggs for everyone except Lu Bu, who got boiled armadillo and fried possum skins.

Everyone had a hearty breakfast where they all cheerfully argued and happily threw food at each other. Afterward they all assembled and waited for Cherry to tell them the game plan.

“Today we’re going to meet some very important people who work for the city. Tylar, you are talking to a Mister Jared McCulley, lead director of experimental technology,” she explained.

“It will be nice to have someone to talk tech to again,” said Tylar

“I’m sure you guys will be able to do something. Danyel, you are going to talk to someone named Azuria in a group called M.A.G.I.”

“Maybe Miss Azuria knows how to work that O2 spell,” said Danyel.

“I wouldn’t count on it. Diana, you can accompany Danyel.”

“Yay!” said Diana.

“And the rest of you, go to Freedom Corps and register yourselves as heroes. They have this system specifically for heroes, and it seems to be some kind if insurance in case you get hurt out there on the streets. After that, you guys hit the streets and find out what you can. Oh and Biggs?”

“Cap’n?” said Biggs.

“You stay clear of those bars, you hear me?”

“Aye, Cap’n!”

“Biggs?”

“Cap’n?”

“Let me make this very clear to you. If I so much as smell a drop of alcohol on you, even if it is just to clean out a paper cut… After I get my hands on you, there will be no proper methods in science to identify what’s left of you.”

“Righ’ ya are cap’n!” he said with a salute.

“What about me?” said Kayain.

“You’re on patrol with the rest of them.”

“What? Why? I should be doing important jobs with you guys!”

“Kayain you can’t even go shopping without something catching fire, what makes you think you can handle or even comprehend what they’re talking about?”

“Cause… I’m… Doctor Kayain remember?”

“Oh no…”

“Oh yes, indeed!”

“Cherry,” said Tylar. “If I may, wouldn’t you rather he came with me? I mean people believe he’s some kind of gifted and talented Doctor, and perhaps he could, oh I don’t know… Answer some questions they give him?”

“Humm, interesting idea Tylar.”

“Oh, well wait up guys-“ said Kayain.

“I say, it would be a jolly good experience for him and the whole science community, don’t you agree?” said Tylar

“You’ve got a point Tylar. Kayain, you will accompany Tylar and answer any questions they give you,” said Cherry.

“Now wait just a minute-“

“Is there something wrong Doctor?”

Kayain pinched his lips together in a frown and said,” No…”

“Good.”

“Hey sis,” said Danyel.

“Humm?”

“What will you be doing?”

“I have some important business to attend to. Then I will meet up with you at City Hall.”

 ---------------------------------------------

Talley opened his eyes early in the morning. Normal vampires slept during the day hours. But Talley was no ordinary vampire, he is a Daywalker vampire. Daywalkers can sleep at anytime they wish, so he can set his own hours. Daywalkers are considered freaks by vampire standards, and Talley could not stand normal vampires himself.

So as his own personal rebellion he indulges in human pleasures and would sleep at night sometimes, try and eat a vegetable once and a while, and embark in the pleasures of human women.

He turned to the left and looked at one of his women. She was a beautiful red haired lady named Sandra. He had saved her life earlier from the Circle of Thorns, a magical sadistic cult trying to use her as a human sacrifice. She was so very thankful that she made him an intimate promise to repay him.

He turned to his right and saw her best friend, the blonde whose name he had forgotten. She too was also a captive of the Circle of Thorns.

It was a good night, he thought. They were both so very thankful at the same time…

Talley always wondered why vampires never did this kind of thing. When he used to hang around his kind it was always blood this, darkness that, talk about how they’re gonna rule the world (Well at least rule the world from 9pm till 7am). Personally he thought these carnal pleasures were much more intense then drinking blood, or talking about darkness, and ruling the world at night. What annoyed him the most was some of them had the most outrageous Transylvanian accents. Even if they were from New Jersey they would do the accent, and that tried his patience severely.

But this… This was a little bit of paradise and then some. Talley had been many places, and Paragon City was one of his few favorites. It had everything he needed; Good women, good fun, and all the action he could ask for. If there was a heaven for vampires, this would be it.

Talley got up and put on a robe. He stepped out to the balcony of his apartment and surveyed the morning activities.

Directly below him and noticed some gangsters cornering a man in a business suit. He was about to leap off at them when he noticed someone coming up from behind them. Upon closer look he noticed it was the same woman from the other day, the woman with the enchanting eyes.

She’s alive, he thought. Simply amazing. And there isn’t a trace of any injuries on her either. She somehow made a full recovery within these past two days. Looks like there’s more to that little lady than meets the eye.

Cherry did not stop walking when she approached the scene but for some reason the gangsters stopped what they were doing and began to flap their arms, peck at the ground, and cluck like chickens.

She’s a psion, he thought. Mind control, how devious. She is very intriguing… A girl like her would be a challenge, and I like a challenge. I must go meet her.

“Mmm, Talley,” said Sandra. “Last night was amazing…where are you going?”

“Out. Please, don’t let me keep you now.”

“How about another round darlin’?”

“As tempting as that is, I have a job to do. More people need saving. Next time, don’t fall asleep in the park. Circle of Thorns mages don’t discriminate.”

“Mmm, will do Talley. Call me ok?”

“I will. Good bye for now.”

---------------------------------------------

Cherry walked inside a place called Haroldson’s, the restaurant she was recommended to by Lord Daniel. She sat at a table and looked at the menu’s desert section for ice cream. One way or another she was going to eat ice cream.

The menu had a very large variety of flavors. And she was favoring the butterscotch at the moment.

“Are you ready to order ma’am?” said the waiter.

“Yes. I’ll have the butterscotch and fudge sundae… and would it be too much to ask if I added a few things to it?”

“Not at all ma’am. What do you wish to have with it?”

For reasons unknown, Cherry, Regina, and their mother all shared one specific trait. They were all psions, and they all had very unusual taste in food.

“Well if you could please add pickles, ketchup, and a bun? Preferably a hot dog bun.”

The waiter winced at the thought of destroying their chef’s food with junk like that. But the customer is always right.

“Of course ma’am. Will there be anything else?”

“No, that’ll be it thanks.”

“Thank you ma’am. We will be right out with your order.”

Cherry sat back and relaxed a bit. She let her mind pick up thoughts around the dinner, when some thoughts caught her attention. She turned to look over at a group of very colorful looking people in street clothes. Some wore colored blue with blue t-shirts, some wore red with red t-shirts, and so on. They were very rough looking people, and were making quite a scene.

Some of them were looking at her, and whispering to each other, which made the rest of them look at her.

There’s going to be trouble, she thought. I guess I should have known it when I first came in.

Surely enough, some of them started to get up and come over to her. She remained composed as five of them came right up to her and sat down on all sides of her.

The one in a red shirt grinned nastily at her and said,“ Is this seat taken?”

“It is now. I thought you guys already had enough seats over there.”

“Na lady,” he said. “You see, me an the boys here couldn’t help noticing how cute you are.”

“Thanks,” she said while staring angrily forward.

“And that outfit of yours is especially cute. Shows off your whole body nicely. Do you work out?”

“Yes.”

He grinned lecherously at her,” Mmm, that’s nice. Hey babe, why don’t you come over to our table? We’ll show you a good time won’t we boys?”

They laughed raucously at her and Cherry frowned.

“A good time? How would you do that now?”

The waiter came with Cherry’s ice cream and was a little surprised to see them surrounding her.

“Miss? Here is your-“

“I’ll take that, chump!” said one in the blue shirt as he snatched the ice cream.

“Oh, what’s this now?” said the one in red. “Oh, ice cream… sure looks… what the hell did you do to this?”

“That’s mine. Give it.”

He holds it out of reach and says,” Now, now, don’t get to hasty. We want you to come with us. We can show you a good time babe.”

He lights a flame in his hand and holds it up to her. “We’ll really ‘fire’ things up. HA HA!”

“I said to give me my ice cream.”

“Hey! Did you hear me?! I asked you a question!”

“And I said give me my ice cream!”

He frowns and sets the ice cream ablaze, and slams the burned mush in front of her.

“Take it bitch!”

“You… You owe me an ice cream Mister.”

“I don’t think you get it! You’re coming with us one way or another! And if I was you, I wouldn’t turn down my generosity.”

“Generosity?!” said Cherry as she stands up. “You’ve got some nerve Mister!”

He stands up and looms over her.

“I like em fiery! Get your sweet ass over here,” he says as he grabs her behind.

The guys start hooting and hollering, but stop abruptly as the guy in red suddenly collapses on the floor, clutching his head, yelling in pain.

“Yo! She’s a mask! Get her- ahh, bock bock?” said the one in blue before he started to scratch the ground with his feet and peck the table.

Now all the thugs started to get up and come after her. Cherry knew she wouldn’t beat all of them in a closed in space like this, and took off out the door.

They followed her outside and heard them yelling as she ran. She dared to take a look behind her and saw a large number of thugs coming out from the alleyways to aid their friends.

She activated her jump suit, and attempted to get away with her jump. Before she took off, a very large rock came and hit her in the back. She shook herself off and tried to pick herself up, when she looked up and saw a hand in front of her. She looked up into the face of Talley dressed in his dark armor.

“We really must stop meeting like this Miss Cherry,” said Talley as he helped her up. “Oh and what’s this? You’ve already managed to get the ire of an angry mob. You really have a way with men don’t you?”

“Ah, yea, something like that.”

“Let’s see the damage,” he says as he looks at the approaching mob. “Outcasts. And a lot of them. Do you think you can- HEY! What are you doing?”

Cherry walked into the middle of the road toward the approaching mob.

“I need them all to get in close together for something…”

“Whatever it is you’re going to do you’d better do it now…”

As the thugs closed in Cherry’s eyes glowed. They say hell hath no fury like a woman’s scorn, and Kayain said that without ever knowing the quote after looking at Cherry. Every villain she was able to see suddenly became memorized in those eyes. They fell into a trance, and began to cower in fear as they realized that their worst fears had come alive in front of their eyes.

“Quickly!” said Cherry. “While they’re in a trance, take them down!”

Talley nodded and ran at the group of baddies. Talley’s abilities are directly linked to the netherworld. He commands their energies as he fights foes into submission.

Cherry on the other hand uses telepathy and sometimes her fists if needed. And she used it all in the severe beating she and Talley gave to each one of the Outcasts. A few started go come out of the trance and began to attack.

Talley’s armor was once a living creature from the dream relm that was accidentally summoned in his hometown. Once he defeated this creature, he was able to create the nightmare armor from the beast’s skin. The armor he created posses the power to bring foes mentally back into a nightmare state.

Talley grabbed one by the shirt and let the power in his armor take the Outcast to his own personal nightmare.

Moments later, the fight was over. Cherry and Talley were unharmed, and piling up bad guys on the sidewalk.

Cherry psionically lifted the last one and tossed him into the pile and said,” What a mess. You think we’ll get fined for littering?”

“Na, here come the garbage collectors,” said Talley as he heard police sirens.

“Oh wait,” said Cherry as she noticed the guy in red come out of the restaurant still grabbing his head. He looks down the street and spots her.

The man readies fire in his hands and yells,“ Die bitch!”

“Let me handle this,” said Cherry.

The Outcast runs and throws balls of fire at her. Cherry easily knocks them away with a small barrier. He runs up with his hands filled with fire, and falls to the ground unable to move his limbs.

“What?! What the hell is this?”

Cherry lifts him up slightly and spreads his legs.

“This is, as the heroes say, JUSTICE!”

Cherry delivers a swift and painful kick to his groin and lets the man crumple on ground.

As two police cars pull up to the scene, one of them calls out of their megaphone,“ This is the police! Put your hands up!”

Cherry and Talley put their hands up, and Cherry psionically communicates with the officer,” We’re with Freedom Corps sir. Just cleaning up the town a bit.”

The officers lower their weapons, and survey the scene.

“Dang,” said one officer. “I don’t know whether to get a clean up crew here, or fine you guys for littering…”

---------------------------------------------

“So, this is City Hall,” said Kayain sounding unimpressed.

“Very nice statues here,” said Tylar.

“I’ve seen nicer.”

“Very big too.”

“I’ve seen bigger.”

“And festive.”

“I’ve seen… festive… uh… festive-err-err”

“Kayain?”

“Sup?”

“Do try and act proper once we get inside will you?”

Kayain snorts loudly and spits as he says,” Yea sure, proper like eh? I can do proper. Cause I’m a class act kind of guy, ya know?”

”You?” Tylar said with a haughty laugh. “Classy? Bah, that’ll be the day.”

“What are you laughing at?” said Kayain. “Kayain isn’t a comedy act! I am a class act kind of guy!”

Kayain farts loudly at Tylar.

“Yes, ugh! Very classy.”

They enter the busy building and talk to the receptionist, and ask where to find what they’re looking for. They go down the staircase to the large corridor that leads to the different rooms of specialty. To the right Tylar sees M.A.G.I., and next door is D.A.T.A.

“Here we are. Danyel, Di, I’m sure you have some wizardly business to take care of, so I will see you later.”

“Sure do. Just notify me when you’re done on the communicator.”

Tylar entered the facility and spoke to someone in the front who was on the phone.

“Excuse me?”

“Are you getting all this? I said use copper coils for conductivity-“

“Excuse me sir…”

“No no, I don’t care if they’re not in stock! This won’t work without the copper and you knew that! What I want you to do is fix this shortage-“

“Sir?”

“And- Hold on… Can I help you?’

“Yes sir. My name is Tylar Thomas. I’m here on an appointment-“

“Yea, just a minute… Look I have someone waiting here let me call you back. And get that damn copper! Yea I know you guys have an appointment today. Name’s Rick Davies, pleased to meet ya. My researchers are waiting in that corridor there. Second room on the right, you can’t miss it.”

“Oh, capital!”

“Yea, and I have an important meeting, so I won’t be there I’m afraid. Jared will update me on the situation when I get back.”

“Not a problem sir, and good luck to you,” Said Tylar as Kayain mocked him from behind.

They went inside the doorway and looked down at the corridors. Everywhere researchers were tinkering and tweaking with new inventions, lasers, and substances. Kayain looked over and saw a bunch of writing on a blackboard while some scientists were bickering over the formula on the board. Kayain went behind them and erased some of the formulas and drew pictures of middle fingers and various genitalia. Kayain walked out of the room completely unnoticed.

“And I’m telling you- Oh dear me…”

“Well gentlemen, it’s happened again.”

“Ah yes, but sadly this new equation makes more sense then your variables!”

Kayain, very satisfied, continues with Tylar.

“Now remember Kayain. Proper-like. Even when you don’t know the answers.”

“Yea, yea. Proper. I got ya.”

As they both entered the room there was surprisingly not much activity here as the rest of the area. They looked around as some scientists were bickering about something. The rest were simply sitting and eating pizza, or playing cards (magic cards Kayain noticed).

One of them looked up and said,” Welcome, I assume, nya, that you are Tylar?”

“Yes. Mr. McCulley?”

“Nya, that’s me. Looks like we have some business to discuss.”

“Indeed we-“

“Why are you all sitting around for?” said Kayain.

“Oh, nya, it’s because we were working on a project… But those pinheads at section 8 stole our idea and completed it recently. Now all our work is down the dumpsters.”

“Oh. How very homosexual of them. Maybe you should teach them a lesson yourselves!”

“Nya, if only we could… ah who are you again?”

“Hey, I know you!” said a researcher. “You’re Doctor Kayain…”

There was a snigger from most of the researchers.

“Yea, uh, that’s me all right…”

“Yea we loved your interview by the way. Didn’t we boys?”

Another snigger.

“Nya, now I remember that one,” said Jared. “Say Doctor, maybe you can tell us the components of your thawing agent.”

“Uh… salt.”

“Salt… saline, what else?”

“Duhh, uh... Water.”

Tylar slapped his hand to his forehead.

“Water, ok nothing quite like some good H two Oh…”

“Oh yea, I like them H-oohs, too…”

There was more laughing, not because they thought his comment was funny, but because they thought he was a joke. Kayain knew there was some kind of esoteric joke going on about him. He hated being a laughing stock.

“Hey Doctor,” said another researcher. “Maybe you can help us out with something. We’ve been working on this little theory, called the Theory of Everything, you see? And we thought someone with your obvious intelligence can help us simple minded folk out.”

The way he said obvious made Kayain want to punch the guy out on the spot.

“Yea, the good ol’ Theory of Everything… Well you know, it uh… can’t exist cause… everythin’ is pretty general. We call it the, uh… Theory of Some Things…”

Tylar’s eye twitched.

“Oohh, so that’s how it is, is it?” he said as though talking to a 3 year old. “Very good Doctor. You should get some kind of award for that!”

Tylar had the oddest feeling something bad was going to happen if he didn’t intervene,“ Yes, yes gentlemen, can we get on to business-“

“Yes, is it true all of your equations get hung on the refrigerator Doctor?”

Kayain pinched his lips together and frowned.

“That’s some unruly hair you have, how about a dunce cap to cover it up?”

“Oo-ok now gentlemen if we could just-“

“What was your favorite subject in school? Special Ed?”

“You may want to try some fish, I hear it is brain food. Yours is probably dying of hunger by now.”

There was a lot of laughter all around. Tylar slowly looked at Kayain, who didn’t move at all. Tylar looked again at everyone laughing and making comments, and noticed Kayain suddenly smile maliciously.

They were trying to bully him, and Tylar knew what Kayain thought about being bullied. He readied himself to take off out the door.

“Tylar,” said Kayain.

“Err… yes?”

“I put my pack in your rucksack there. Hand it to me, get out, and lock the door.”

“But you can only lock it from the insid-“

Kayain turned and looked at him.

“Right you are… a proper force shield should do the trick.”

Tylar stepped out as Kayain cracked his knuckles.

---------------------------------------------

“Oi! Whadaya mean it’s no’ a magical sword?!” said a shady looking vender.

“Sir, that sword is not magical,” said Azuria

“’Ow do yew know?! Yew ‘aven’t even swung it around or nothin’!”

“Sir, there are many other ways to tell if a sword is magical. Not just by swinging the sword around.”

“Yea, but listen tew it! It makes a whistley sound when ye swings it!”

“That is because you or someone else put a whistle on the inside of it. Now will you kindly leave?”

“Ah all right! Hew needs yew! I got my dignity! I’ll just take me business to yer competition now!”

The man walks out and walks into Danyel.

“Oh! Excuse me sir,” said Danyel.

“No worries lad, no worries at awl! Say… Yew look like a smart man sah!”

Danyel raised an eyebrow at him.

“Now then sah, how would yew like to purchase a gen-u-wine magic sword?!”

“Ah ha… Not really you see-“

“Aww come on! Once in a lifetime opportunity tha’ is! And it’s guaranteed for life, or my name ain’t ‘Hook ‘em’ Wilson!”

“Well I really don’t-“

“Now wait before ya say no sah! Dew ordinary swords dew this?”

The man swung it and it whistled.

“Wow! It really is magical!” said Diana.

“Di…”

In general, Danyel didn’t trust people who had to speak with a lot of apostrophes

“See sah? Yore lady there ‘as got a good ‘ed on ‘er shoulders eh?”

“Sir I-“

“Now, now, now… I’m willing tah give this sword away fer a reasonable price. What’s say… oh we start at fifteen ‘undred?”

“Oh, that’s a bit steep,” said Diana.

“Ah the lady ‘as a keen intellect!  Awlright, ‘ow about, twelve ‘undred?”

“No.”

“One thousand.”

“No!”

“Weeell now… ‘ow much would yew pay for this?”

“Nothing! That’s not-“

“FORE FREE?! Are you mad?! Oi! This bloke ‘ere says ‘e wants me ter just ‘give’ away this magical sword! Fore free!”

“I did not! Now go away!” said Danyel as he walked off.

“Oh, don’t mind him,” said Diana. “He can be grumpy sometimes. But I liked your funny sword.”

“Thanks luv. Does that mean yer buyin’?”

“Oh no no, I can’t. You see Danyel already has some kind of magic sword that he’s very fond of. And me? Well I can’t use one onnacount of I absorb magic like a sponge.”

“Ah, unfortunate that is. So luv, can I interest yew in something else?”

“Oh, Danyel has a birthday coming up soon… what do you think a wizard would want for a present? Something special. More special than a new pair of underwear.”

“Can’t go wrong with clean underwear, luv. But seein’ ‘ow yer the brains of the owt-fit, I’d say ‘e’d want some kinna magic spell! And, it jus’ so ‘appens I ‘ave a gen-u-wine book-o-magic spells right ‘ere!”

Danyel entered the M.A.G.I. vault and was a bit surprised to see it looking so small. Small in comparison to what he’s seen anyway. He turns and smiles at a woman who was stacking some books.

“Hello! I bet you were expecting me and know my name right?” he asked.

“Are you with the Mystic Warriors?”

“Eh, no. I’m Danyel of the Vigilantes… surely you have been expecting me?

“I’m sorry. I was actually expecting members of the organization Mystic Warriors. So please try and keep it down. There are some in the back already.”

“Oh… Sorry to intrude, but we need some help, and perhaps your organization can help us…”

As Danyel explains the situation, Diana comes in and takes a peak around the place. She takes a look at various runes scribed on the books and makes no sense of them. Diana had her anti-magic abilities, but when it came to understanding it, she was like a fish trying to understand what water is.

In the corner she sees displays of various items and books. She examines a strange glowing red crystal by poking it.

Usually misused items of magic tend to explode, but luckily this one only turned from red to blue. She giggles and touches it again and it turns yellow. She continuously presses it until it turns black and stays black. She frowns and prods it a couple more times and it crumbles to powder. She panics and sweeps the powder to the floor and pulls out something from her bag and places it on the display counter.

Someone walks by and looks at her innocent smile.

“Well look at that!” said Diana. “Some jerk has drunk from the uh… sacred Cola of Joule!”

The guy shakes his head and walks off. Diana backs up a little and bumps into a vase that was on display. The vase falls off but does not shatter.

Relieved she grabs the vase and it crumbles to pieces.

She panics again and takes notice of the “Do not touch with mortal hands” sign on the display. She slaps her forehead and searches her bag again. She hears someone walking back to her and tosses another random item on the display.

Another person walks by and says,” What is that?”

“NOTHING! Nothing at all. Really. Just uh… admiring the… oh my… the Thundering Thong of Zeus!”

---------------------------------------------

Cherry walked down the stairs at City Hall with Talley. They both went into the D.A.T.A. room and were directed to the corridor where Tylar was standing and talking to some people outside a doorway.

“I heard screaming in there!” said a researcher.

“Ah but of course you would! That’s because they’re in the testing phase.” said Tylar.

“What testing?”

“Well they built a new auto suppository machine.”

“A what?”

“You know, an auto suppository machine… it directly ‘feeds’, ah-ha, the pill to you… It’s mostly for the elderly.”

“And you’re testing this on women?”

“No no, I’m afraid our male testers aren’t quite as masculine when they’re screaming as when they’re talking.”

“This is ridiculous!”

“I say, then would you like to witness the process yourself? It’s really quite fascinating. Or perhaps volunteer?”

“Well I… No that’s all right, carry on.”

Cherry approaches Tylar and he smiles nervously at her.

“Oh! I wasn’t expecting you so soon… How are things?”

“Tylar.”

“Yes ma’am?”

“If I open this door right now, will I see anything inside I might have to kill you for?”

“Oh no, no, no…no… maybe.”

“Tylar-“

“I can honestly say I don’t know!”

What is behind this door Tylar!?”

“Umm… Kayain.”

That said it all for Cherry. She had an idea of what she’d see now.

“Step aside Tylar, and look away. What’s inside this room should not be viewed by nerd eyes.”

“Umm… yes ma’am.”

“Talley, will you please make sure he doesn’t look? I don’t want him having nightmares.”

Talley, a bit confused at this point agreed.

The girly screams died out as Cherry approached the door and turned off the shield. Cherry slowly opened the door, and crept inside. What she saw inside made her sigh.

All around her were these cocoon looking things all hung on the walls. Upon closer investigation she found that these were people inside these cocoons. These people were tied up with duct tape, wrapped in toilet paper, and hung on various places by their underwear, which seemed to be stretched to the atomic levels.

All around her was more carnage, Magic cards seemed to be out of their plastic containers and thrown around, DnD character sheets were impaled on various paperweights, and some were burned. Cheetos, Doritos, Funions, and Mountain Dew were littered all over the place, and comic books were thrown across the desks.

She continued and ducked under a slowly spinning cocoon that was on a ceiling fan, and walked down a hall. When she peeked inside a locker room she heard muffled voices and banging inside the lockers. In a room nearby someone is tied to a wall while a machine is spraying him all over with shaving cream.

Geeze, she thought. It’s exactly what I thought it would be. Sometimes I hate being right.

She passes two lab monkeys sitting calmly at a table playing a card game and smoking cigars.

“Uhh…” she says.

One looks at her as though he’s saying,’ What do you want?’

“Kayain? Where is Kayain?”

He points towards the back, where the men’s restroom is.

“Thanks.”

Cherry goes to find the men’s bathroom open, and the voice of Kayain inside.

“Now this really IS neat. A robot that cleans your toilet for you! Only If I put you in it’s hands it cleans the toilet with your hair, and gives you a proper swirly at the same time. I need to get me one of these!”

She comes up behind him and clears her throat.

“Doh!” Kayain turns around slowly. “Eh, heh heh… Hiya gorgeous! Gosh you’re looking very pretty today!”

She frowns.

He smiles at her and says,“ Whoa! Woman’s scorn… Hey glad you could ah, make it… You see this is part of the testing phase in our fight against the Rikti… It’s very necessary.”

She folds her arms.

He backs up a bit and says,“ Ah-ha… Well it will certainly assert our uh, issue over all other issues now right? I mean now they’ve got to listen to what we have to say right? You got to admit, the mummifying thing was funny right?”

Cherry narrows her eyes at him.

He smiles again and says,“ Ga-damn did I ever tell you how hot you are when you get angry?”

“Kayain-“

“Now wait just a minute! Just wait! Wait! Before you say anything or get upset or something, I just need to ask you a question.”

“You’d better make this a damn good final question before I kill you.”

“Sure is babe. So tell me, in all your important business… Did your ice cream taste good?”

“No! I didn’t even get to eat it because-“

It was too late, he had the most smug grin she had seen on him in a long while.

“You! Dirty… little…”

“Mmm mhm?”

“I… ought to…”

“I’m afraid I didn’t catch that, o’ fearless leader.”

Cherry knew she lost. This would be very embarrassing for the team to find out, especially since she always gets after them for doing the same thing. Unfortunately Kayain knew her all to well by now.

“Nothing,” she said.

“Nothing you say? What about a Kayain you’re the greatest?”

She frowned again and said with clenched teeth,” Carry on…”

Cherry stormed off and heard a yell from the doorway. She ran to see Tylar hunched at the doorway, staring at the carnage.

He curled up into a fetal position and chanted softly,” Happy place… must use the force… happy place… must use the force…”

“Sorry,” said Talley. “I couldn’t stop him. What’s going on here?”

“This,” she said and held her hand out. “Is a little known place called Nerd Hell.”

---------------------------------------------

A very timid and mousy lady peeked outside the women’s rest room. She peeked both ways and tried to quietly open the door. The door creaked a bit, and she froze. She listened to the sounds of the toilet machine whirring in the restroom next door, and the pleas of,’ No! Not the pocket protector! Anything but the pocket protector!’ She slowly and quietly exited the rest room and crept down the hall. She peeked around the corner and gasped.

All along the hallway her co-workers were tied up in toilet paper and hung up by their underwear. She panicked and ran as fast as she could down the hallway and stopped as she looked at the walls.

On the walls were simple math equations… all incorrect. They were written in ink. But a thought came to mind,’ The ink of the heretics.”

“Noo!” she said as she panicked. “They’re all wrong!!”

She hurried down the corridor past a couple more cocoons, and reached the break room, where she found more nerd horrors.

“Is that… Oh… my…God…”

Rare Star Wars collectables, Star Trek Action figures, and many others were all torn out of their packages. Some figures lay in tortured pieces all over the room, some were cooking in the microwave, a few heads were in the day old coffee, and pieces were flying out of the garbage disposal. She had to cover her mouth to prevent herself from puking at the plastic gory mess.

She hobbled out coughing, and gagging. She composed herself and continued down the corridor. She continued past the field of shattered glasses, and moved away from a machine they built, which was now being used to throw dodge balls at various cocoons.

She reached the main research area, and was horrified at something no mortal nerd should ever have to see.

“That’s… Oh God! NO!”

She ran to her own personal character sheet from DnD, which was impaled on a headless Darth Vader paper weight.

“Oh Raven Heart! What have they done to you?!”

She looked at Raven Heart’s current Hit points and it read –10.

“NOOOOOOO!!!! Who killed you?! What sick bastard could have done this?!”

All around her the character sheets said –10 hit points…

“They’ve even got Dri’zilda! And Zanthe! Oh no! Not you too Sylvan!”

Most of the other character sheets had been burned beyond recognition.

“This can’t be… this can’t- AHH! The decks are mixed!”

All the magic cards were scattered and mixed with Yu-gi-oh cards.

“We worked… so hard on this…”

She stepped on the scattered remains of chess pieces and game pieces from Stratigo and Axis and Allies. Around the next desk she found something that made her loose all control.

“NOOO! It’s not fair! This can’t be happening!”

Comic books. Previously mint condition comic books were now covered in Mountain dew and powdered nacho cheese fingerprints.

“These were… They were original prints… NO! THEY’RE FIRST ISSUES! AAAAHHH!!!”

She screams and runs toward the computers, hoping for some salvation. But instead of salvation, she finds damnation as all of the internet icons are gone, and replaced with one horrible thing-

“AOL?! NOOOOOOOO!!”

All around her she sees AOL installed on every computer. In tears, she slowly walks back and bumps into someone.

She looks up to see Kayain, now fully clad in his high school Letterman jacket and a pair of blue jeans. He leans over and smiles at her like a shark smiles at someone with a cement block on their feet.

---------------------------------------------

“A very interesting situation you are in Wizard Danyel,” said Azuria

“Yea, and because the thing is made from both magic and technology, we don’t have anything that could break the shield, apart from a planet destroying titan missile.”

“Your people have those?”

“Used to. Not anymore, for obvious reasons.”

“Good to hear. Now about this situation, I recall hearing something about the Vindicator weapon you speak of. The references are in very old books.”

“Oh do you have these books? I’ve never been able to find more than a few pages about the weapon myself.”

“Yes, but I’m afraid I don’t have very much on it.”

She pulls out a title called,’ The Webs of the Arcane’.

“This should have a few references about the Vindicator weapon,” she says as Danyel studies the book. “And what does it look like exactly?”

Danyel looks up and says,” Humm?”

“The Vindicator weapon, what does it look like?”

“A sword.”

“Oh. That’s it?”

“Ok… A red sword.”

“That’s it? One of the most remarkable weapons of the arcane that has ever been made, and it’s just a red sword?”

Danyel always liked to have his facts straight before going into a big description of something. Otherwise he’d give just a frank and simple answer.

“Well the blade is a dull grey. The hilt is red.”

“I read it took thousands of years to make the weapon. And it was an intelligent weapon, with all the abilities of its previous owners. When the one it chooses wields the blade, they gain all the abilities of the previous owners. And it’s just a simple red and grey sword?”

Danyel held the book in the air with magic and looked at her.

“Azuria, do you know the story of Isaiah the summoner?”

“Yes, the man who lost everything because of one little incident.”

“Well the Vindicator weapon is kind of like that incident… You see to most folks it would appear just an ordinary, beat up looking sword. When it chooses someone they see it differently. The vindicator’s job is to unlock its true potential, and with that the blade becomes what it really is. If anyone else tries to wield it, it will become an ordinary sword again. So it may seem very little and insignificant, but because of that weapon people have killed each other for it’s power. Nations destroy other nations because of Vindicator prophecy, and they’re afraid it might be real. Horrible things have happened because of this one little grey and red sword.”

“I see. What about us who can see the flow of Mana? Can we see the sword as it is?”

“No. However in some cases the Vindicator can impart partial power to someone else for a brief time, then the power goes away. How all this magic works is beyond me.”

“This is all very intriguing. Well what I have in there may or may not help with what you already know.”

After a few minutes Danyel read a few paragraphs on the Vindicator weapon. Nothing on how it was created but prophesies on the people who use the weapons.

“Maybe you can help me understand a few of these,” said Azuria. “I read that the Vindicator weapon has complete mastery over an element.”

“That’s true.”

“And how many do you know of?”

“I know all of them except one.”

“I see. The prophecies speak of one who controls fire-“

“That’s my friend Kayain. We’re trying to get his back.”

“What about the one who controls the winds?”

“One of my mentors, he was also my father’s mentor. Xury is his name.”

“Ah. And the one who controls time?”

“My father. Rolando.”

“He sounds powerful.”

“Controlling time itself is a delicate and extremely dangerous line of magic, and he understands this better than I do.”

“So your father was a Vindicator, and your friend is one, yet you are not?”

“Na, I don’t need that kind of responsibility. I figure if I wasn’t picked, my destiny lies elsewhere.”

Danyel continues to search the book while Diana continues her assault on the precious magical items. She is hopes the small crowd in front of her does not notice the pack of gum she put in place of a magical urn.

“Excuse me!” said a voice from the crowd

“It was like that when I got here I swear!” she said.

“Umm… What?”

“Really! It was!”

Someone from the group walks toward her and says,“ Miss, I was going to say we are having a meeting at this moment.”

“Oh meetings, yes, yes, good… meetings… Can I help?”

“I’m sorry, this is a super group only meeting.”

“Can I be in your club then?”

“It’s not a club miss. We’re a super group. More specifically, we are league involved in the Arcane society.”

“You mean Majik right? I have Majik!”

“That’s wonderful dear, but really-“

“Look I can show you!”

With that, Diana unleashed her anti-magic ability, and absorbed all the magic in the room. Because all the items were magical around her, the glowing crystals turned to dust, and the statues turned dull. Everyone in the room felt a cold chill, and realized that the magic in the area was gone.

“Wh- What happened?”

“Oops… Didn’t expect that!” said Diana as she glowed with a radiant yellow aura.

“What did you do?”

“Well I’m a talented anti-magic, uh… witch?”

 “I can’t seem to call on my powers, is that your talent?”

“It’ll come back in a few seconds, but yea. I can absorb magic in an area, and use it however I want to.”

“Truly amazing. Just one moment.”

The man went back to his group and they whispered something to each other, and he came back

“Madam? Would you be interested in joining our super group?”

“Oh you mean I can party with you guys? Well sure! I’d love to join your club… as long as you don’t tell anyone about this,” says Diana as she points at the ruined items.

“Of course not. My name is Mystic Wizard. I am the creator of this group.”

“Name’s Diana! Good to meet you all! And please don’t any of you mention this.”

“It’s not that bad,” one said. “I mean look at the… oh what is that?”

“The… ‘Lipstick of… Herm-Aphrodite’?” Said Diana as she looked around nervously.

“And what’s this?” another said.

“Don’t touch that! That can tear your fingers right off! That’s the… uh… ‘Dental floss of Wonder Woman’!”

---------------------------------------------

Kayain put his arm around the trembling little lady and said,” So miss, what’s your name?”

“L-l-l Lill-y…”

“Lilly, gosh that’s a pretty name. You married Miss Lilly?”

She shook her head.

“No? That’s surprising Lilly… But then again look at the company you hang out with.”

She doesn’t say anything in case he gets mad and bites her head off.

“Well Miss Lilly, just so you know I’m really a very nice guy. Regular class act kinna guy!”

“P-p-please…”

“What’s that Lilly? I couldn’t hear you. Speak louder.”

“P-p-please Mister…

“Call me Kayain! Everyone does at some point!” He adds,” Screaming or not, heh heh.”

“P-please Mister Kayain… D-don’t wedgie m-me and hang me up in t-toilet paper.”

Kayain looked at her, and noticed how she strongly resembled a mouse, right down to her large front teeth.

“Come now Miss Lilly, why would I do that?”

“C-cause you’re a j-jock…”

“Oh we jocks aren’t so bad once you get to know us. Besides you haven’t done anything to me have you?”

“Well, n-no…”

“GOOD!” he said loudly and scaring her. “Good. Say Lilly, what part of D.A.T.A. do you work with?”

“Oh, y-you know… here and t-there…”

“Really? You sure you don’t work here? Right in this very room?”

“No! N-not at… not at all… I, uh, don’t work in this room, per say.”

“Well I’ll be! Say, your last name is Alexander right?”

“How did you know-“

Kayain holds up a clipboard that shows a list of section 4’s workers, titles, and phone numbers.

“Lilly Alexander? Research member of section 4? Phone number 534-2892? That’s you isn’t it?”

“Oh no…”

“Oh yes, Indeed!”

“But I-“ she said as her heart started beating faster. “I… it… I wasn’t…”

Kayain holds up a picture of someone in a dunce hat, and picking his nose,” And, is this not your little sketch of me that you made the other day? The sketch labeled,’ The brilliant Doctor Kayain’?”

She squeaked and her bottom lip trembled.

“And also isn’t it true that during your team’s little… charade against me you were in the back making a comment like,’ Hey doctor, where did you get your PHD? Bargain bin?’”

Her breathing increased and she took a shot of her inhaler.

Kayain pulled her closer and tighter to his side and said,” Ah miss Lilly, what are we going to do with you? But you gotta remember, I’m a classy kind of guy you see?”

She looks up at him, a little hopeful.

“That means I’m an equal opportunity hero.”

The hope was stomped out.

Kayain looks at her very seriously and points his finger in almost a fatherly way as he says,” Now Miss Lilly, I’m afraid I’m going to have to wedgie you.”

“EEEEEEEEEEEEKKKKK!!”

---------------------------------------------

Cherry and Talley walked back inside the D.A.T.A. lab, and found that a couple more employees had stumbled across this area. They kindly stepped around the bodies on the floor crying over a few stained comic books.

She found Kayain in the locker room with a can of shaving cream. He was emptying the contents inside the vent of a locker.

“Kayain,” interrupted Cherry. “Have you made your point yet?”

“Ah,” He said as he continued to spray shaving cream inside. “I think so. I guarantee you they will listen to what we have to say. Just leave it to me!”

“This better be good.”

“It will,” he said as he looked back to the locker. “Comfortable Miss Lilly?”

“Mmmph mmmmph! MMMM!!”

“Miss Lilly says yes, and she could do with some more shaving cream.”

“Mmmmph!!”

“Sorry, couldn’t get that last part,” He said as he emptied the last bits of shaving cream inside. “You sound like you’re all tied up at the moment anyway, so let’s go get McCulley.”

Kayain takes them to the restroom next door, where they see the toilet paper cocoons hanging on clothes racks. Kayain reaches toward the nearby one and rips the tape off Jared’s mouth.

“NYA AHH!” he said. “That hurt…”

“Hello Mister McCulley,” said Kayain. “How are things?”

“Painful, this wedgie is starting to get to me. My underwear hasn’t broken yet, so it seems I need to start buying underwear that’s not so strong.”

“Nice try, but I can wedgie you with our without elastic.”

“Nya!”

“Down to business Mister McCulley. What’s this I hear about you guys being bested by this Section 8?”

“Well, nya, they stole our idea about anti-psionics. We were making a helmet that protects against a mental attack. We just didn’t get the patent on it as soon as they did. But we had a working model!”

Kayain looked at Cherry. Her brow creased and she smiled back at him.

“Eh, my woman here just reminded me of something that relates to what you guys made. You see, back on my homeworld they made the same thing. However in case you’ve forgotten, it’s only a helmet. If you’re talking about a mentalist, they have telekinesis. All my little lady here has to do is levitate the helmet off and she’s solid.”

“Oh,” he said. There was a moment of thoughtful silence and he said,” I can honestly say we didn’t think of that. Nya, so you’re saying the idea won’t be very successful?”

“Not in the slightest. Well you may beat some rookie mentalists with some corny trick like that, but it won’t work in the long run. However, tell me about this section 8.”

“Ah…. Ow, can you get me down… please?”

Kayain gives a quick tug and rips the elastic rim off Jared’s underwear. Jared crumples to the floor and says,” Nya… Ok… Can you untie me?”

Kayain gets out his pocket knife.

“Nya,” said Jared as he saw the knife. Kayain makes two quick movements with the blade and cuts the bands off. “Hey! You could have cut me!”

Jared’s realizes his arms are freed and he pulls off the rest of it. He looks at Kayain and says,” Wow, you didn’t even scratch me!”

“I’m very good with a blade sir.”

“Yea… well about what you were saying, Section 8 is one of our most bitter rivals. We’re always trying to best each other. Most of the time they beat us… And they’re very nasty about it too.”

“I see,” said Kayain as he rubbed his chin. “Tell me Mister McCulley, because those guys were so mean and nasty to you, what gives you the right to be mean and nasty to me?”

“I… well… Nya, please don’t hang me back up.”

“I ‘ain’t gonna unless I don’t hear the truth.”

“You’ve got me there, nya. Ah, I’m uh… sorry?”

“Forget about it. I’ve already taken apologies from everyone… from their underwear, heh heh. But seriously Mister McCulley, I want to offer you something.”

“Nya, offer us something? Like what?”

“An opportunity to pay back those suckers at Section 8.”

“And, how would we do that?”

“Through me of course! That is, unless you’re not satisfied with what I can do to them…”

“No, no! Your carnage was by far the best I’ve ever seen!”

“Good! Now here’s my offer… You help us build a weapon that helps us break the Rikti shield, and I’ll teach you guys how to be lean mean wedgie giving machines. When I’m done with all of you guys, you will be able to hang them up by their underwear, take their lunch money, and stomp on their glasses, and dunk their heads in the toilet for even thinking about saying something against you! And then you Mister McCulley, will be the greatest and most feared Dungeon Master in all Paragon City!”

“Nya don’t know…”

“Think about it,” Kayain said as he put his arm over his shoulder. “You hanging out with a guy like me… Imagine the babes that you’ll get.”

Jared blushed,” Nya, Girls? Real ones?”

“A lot more real then the ones on your computer.”

Jared looked over at the other cocoon and it was nodding.

“All right sir, we’ll go along with it…. Ah… how many babes again?”

“Friend I’ll get you laid in no time.”

“Nya, ha ha ha…”

“Oh yes, Indeed!”

One of the guys in the toilet paper started moving around, and tore the rim off his underwear. Kayain sliced him free and he said to Kayain,” I think I know you! Are you the same Kayain from the comic series,’ The Vigilantes’?”

“Oh wow, you actually get that comic here too?”

“Oh yes sir! Your catch phrase,’ Oh yes, Indeed’ was how I recognized you! You’re really him! The same Kayain aren’t you!”

“Yea. That was my comic series based off our real adventures.”

Cherry nudged Kayain and whispered,” Kayain? We have a comic series?”

He whispered back,” Yea babe, remember we agreed that I’d handle the merchandising? Well comic rights was one thing. I would send them stories of our adventures, and they would publish it.”

“And how come I’ve never seen this comic before?”

“Oh, you wouldn’t like it…”

“Don’t say that. Now I want to see it.”

“Really! You wouldn’t like it!”

“Kayain-“

“Oh my gosh, Mister Kayain,” interrupted Jared. “Nya never realized it was you sir! You look so different when you’re not in your Vigilante outfit that I hardly recognized you. We thought it was some kind of coincidence, but I guess we were wrong. I’m a huge fan sir!”

“Oh,” said Kayain. “I’ll give you an autographed copy of issue 1 later. For now, let’s get your guys out and explain the situation.”

---------------------------------------------

“Diana…” said Danyel.

“Yes?” she said.

“Let me get this straight. You joined a super group full of mystics to hide the fact that you broke a few magical items?”

“Well yea… Wait, how did you know I broke them?!”

“I looked over there and saw broken things. You just confirmed it was you.”

“Doh!”

“Honey, I won’t say a word about that, but joining a super group?”

“Club.”

“Right, super club. And what do you have to do?”

“It’s like the Justice League! We all gather in our secret base and search Paragon City for evildoers!”

“And does this gro- club come with benefits?”

“Probably free cookies and lemonade.”

“Can’t go wrong there,” he said as he rolled his eyes. “So does that mean members can help us out?”

“Oh definitely! That is, if they’re not busy…”

“Great.”

“But they have a library in their base, so you being my husband I’m sure they won’t have a problem with you looking at some texts.”

“Now that sounds useful. Oh hon, I wanted to let you know I’ll be late here today. Could you possibly set up my lab?”

“Really? Can I decorate your lab too?”

Danyel might regret this decision later on, but he was simply too busy to do the whole job himself. He smiled and said,” Of course sweetheart. Just make sure nothing gets mixed until I get there.”

“Leave everything to me!” she said as she jumped and knocked over a row of bookshelves, creating a domino effect and knocking down all the other bookshelves.

Danyel slapped his forehead, and Diana cupped her mouth and said,” Oh… It was like that when I got here?”

“Not a chance dear. Just please go now…”

“But there’s a mess and-“

“No dear, no more trouble. Please go.”

“But-“

“Di…”

“Oh all right, I’m going…”

Diana merrily skipped out and Danyel shook his head. He knew she really did mean well, with her always-cheerful personality. The woman was always optimistic, and could find the good in anything. She would see a building burning down, and say,’ Gosh those people are going to be much happier once their insurance kicks in. And maybe they’ll put up a newer and nicer building there!’

Danyel smiled as he recalled a parade they once went to. Diana was so glad she could be there that she wanted to throw confetti from a rooftop. The stores were out of confetti, and she improvised instead. She figured that since confetti is just paper, she would get lots of it at once, and much bigger…

The police never did figure out who was throwing wet telephone books off the roof. Kayain had told her that if they were wet they would fall faster. Danyel never told anyone it was her, since one had hit Cherry right in the forehead.

Danyel laughed out loud as he remembered the expression on her face afterwards. Kayain was on all fours pounding the ground unable to stop laughing.

He sighed and magically set the racks back into place and began his studies again.

---------------------------------------------

“Yes Di, I’m here,” said Cherry on her communicator. “You can meet us inside the D.A.T.A. lab. I’m in the lobby.”

Moments later Diana merrily skips towards her.

“So,” asked Cherry. “What’s the damage report?”

“Damage?!” said Diana innocently. “Why would you assume there is a damage report?! All I did was hang out with Danny and we talked Majik!”

“Because I usually have to hear a damage report when you and him are simply taking a walk in the park.”

“Like when?!”

“Oh exploding trees, running trash cans, vampire ducks!”

“Heh… so you sill remember that?”

“Just like it was yesterday.”

“Coincidence. That’s all it was. And I might add that I have no damage to report as of lately. I’m on a roll!”

“Nice to hear. Anyway Kayain and Tylar are still inside. This here is Talley. He helped me out a couple of times.”

“Pleased to meet you mister Talley!”

“The pleasure madam is all mine,” said Talley.

“Oh! You’ve got fangs! You must be a vampire!”

“Well yes, I-“

“Now I know you guys can’t see yourself in a mirror and all, so just so you know, you’re very dashing… In case you didn’t know.”

Talley smiled and said,” Thank you madam. If I ever need someone to tell me how I look I’ll come see you.”

“Hey, how come you don’t have a goofy Transsexual accents?”

Cherry nudges Diana and says,” Transylvanian!”

“Right,” said Diana. “What she said.”

“Well,” said Talley. “Simply because I am not from Transylvania.”

“I thought all vampires had those accents,” she said a little disappointed.

“Err, no. We don’t.”

“Oh… Well do you think you could-“

“No.”

“Darn. At least I tried. So tell me boss, how are things inside there? Making any progress?”

Cherry shakes her head and says,” You wouldn’t believe it…”

“Oh. So then Kayain did something? He didn’t tie up all those nerds here in tape and toilet paper, and hang them up by their underwear did he?”

“Yes.”

“You’d think he’d get tired of that by now wouldn’t you?”

“Kayain doesn’t get tired of anything.

 Talley watched the two as they conversed and thought, ye gods, what kind of people are these?

“Mister Talley,” said Cherry. “We’re heading back now to start getting our equipment ready. Care to escort two ladies in case something attacks us?”

“Oh most definitely, you know just last night I saved two ladies,” he said.

“Unfortunately, unlike your adventure last night, you will not get either of us in bed with you.”

“Oh, you read my mind.”

“In my situation, it’s hard not to. Let’s just be friends ok?”

A challenge, he thought.

“I heard that.”

I know.

---------------------------------------------

“Please! Jus’ one drink! Tha’s all I ask!” said Biggs.

“Absolutely not,” said Regina. “For your own safety, I would recommend you heed my sister’s words.”

“Ah, ter hell with ye! Me throat’s all dried up! I needa drink!”

“Are you sure you guys are heroes?” asked a man standing in the middle of them.

Lu Bu bopped him on the head and said,” Of course we are!”

“But you can’t kill me! You’re heroes!”

“Aye lad, tha’s true. But ya see, sometimes us heroes have to, as stated in Wrestlemanians 2:43, ‘Layith the smackith down on yer candy arse!”

“W-what are you going to do to me?”

“Seen’ how ye attacked us fer no apparent reason lad, we ought to hang ye by yer toes. But ye have Regina here ter thank fer yer salvation.”

“No thanks necessary,” said Regina with an evil smile.

“Y-you’re not going to hang me by my toes?”

“Nope.”

“Good.”

“We’re gonna shove this ginger up yer arse instead.”

“WHAT?! You’ve got to be kidding!”

“There’s that word again,” said Lu Bu. “Kidding.”

“Ye might want to watch yer mouth aroun’ ol Lu Bu here. There be some words he doesn’t understand. Kidding is one of ‘em.”

“No Biggs, I think I finally understand it now. It’s one of those double meaning words.”

“An’ so wha’s it mean?”

“It’s what happens when you mash a child into a fine paste. A cross between a Kid and Pudding, you get Kidding.”

“Righ’ ya are Lu Bu. Tha’s exactly what it means! Fer tha’ answer you will do the honors,” said Biggs as he hands a softball size root to Lu Bu.

“NO WAIT!” said the guy. “I’ll talk! I work for Crey, and my orders were to deliver our new soda to the manufacturer. Our secret recipe is in danger so we were under orders to stop anyone who may try and steal it!”

“You mean this?” said Regina as she held up a bottle of Crey Cola that she took from his pack. “It doesn’t look like anything special to me. Just your average bottle of cola.”

“Be careful with that! It’s not ordinary cola!” said the man from Crey.

“Aye,” said Biggs. “Let me see tha’! So mister Crey patrol guy… Ya don’ mind if I take a swig of this eh?”

“No! Don-“

“No? Ya don’t mind?” said Biggs as he opened it and took a large drink. “ACK! Tastes like dog shite!”

Biggs takes several more swigs and passes it to Lu Bu. Lu Bu sniffs it and drinks it,” You’re right. It tastes like dog droppings.”

“Aye! Give tha’ here, I’m still thirsty!” said Biggs. “Any of ya jerks wan’ some?”

Regina looked at the drink skeptically and refused.

“Thanks fer the drink ya bastard! Now open up fer the choo choo train!”

---------------------------------------------

Tylar talked for hours with the researchers of Section 4. Occasionally he was asked a question about the comics, because he too was a part of it.

Kayain on the other hand was in the testing area teaching technique to the researchers.

“No, no, no! All wrong,” said Kayain as he pushed aside a researcher. “It’s all in your grip man! Like this…”

They had put a pair of underwear on a human shaped dummy doll, and Kayain was pulling it well over it’s head easily.

“You make that look so easy sir! Just like on issue #59, where you defeated the evil Jestinian Duke. You know, when he tried to kill the king and the prince?”

“Oh yea, that one was a good one! Good ol’ Shadrach, the prince of Jestine. It was his smarts that helped us figure it out. Anyway, folks, grab your dummies and grip exactly like I do. Mister Smith, I know the dolls look lifelike but don’t touch ‘em like that. Ok now give a tug and slowly release cloth while holding onto the elastic… No no mister Blair, you don’t need that much cloth sir. The trick is to grab a lot of underwear and not a lot of ass…”

Kayain walked along surveying each one’s technique as they pulled on the underwear. He nodded and walked over to the new gym area he set up, and watched the struggling researchers attempting push-ups.

He strode to a particularly fat one and heard him wheezing, and struggling to push himself back up.

“Come on man! Just one more!” said Kayain.

The man pushed himself to the limit and beyond. He pushed all the way up, and collapsed into a heap on the floor.

“Good job man! How many was that?”

Wheezing, he managed to breathe out,” Two…”

“Oh…Well the good news is you’ve doubled the amount of push ups you did a couple hours ago.”

“Thank… you… sir…”

Kayain walked to his aerobic section which consisted of a several Dance Dance Revoultion games.

“That’s it!” he said as he tapped his feet. “Now you’re feeling the beat! Mister Vilerial, you got it now! And it’s about time!”

“Yea…” said Mister Vilerial. “One… question… sir…”

“What is it?” he said as he gave the man about a minute to catch his breath.

“Well sir, I was wondering if you were related to the band called,’ The Vigilantes,’ sir.”

“Depends. There’s probably plenty of bands with that name.”

“So you guys really have a band?”

“Hell yea dude! What do you think we do all day in our ship? I mean think about spending weeks all cooped up in a ship with no action. I mean, gotta keep busy somehow, and music is how we do that.”

“Would one of your CDs happen to be titled ‘The Devine Flatulance?’”

“Ha! Yea, that was one of our metal tracks!”

“I didn’t know that was yours sir! I mean when I download- Err… I mean bought it from the store-“

“Everyone downloads like everyone craps. Don’t worry about it.”

Kayain smiles and thinks, Holy crap! They’ve heard of us in both comic and music. I wonder if I can get Tee-shirt sales going too…

“You know, I’ll also be selling shirts after we get popular down here. Don’t worry I’ll get you a free one. And, to whoever brought my comics and music… They’re probably selling my stuff without paying royalties. I’m just gonna have to beat it out of them.”

“Free shirts?! Cool!”

“Yea, don’t mention it man,” he said as he walked over to his weights section.

Kayain looked at his bench-pressing machine that he made from spare parts lying around. There was man with a fairly average build on it holding a long metal rod with a computer monitor stuck to each end of the bar.

“Just one more!” said Kayain to the bench presser. “There you go! Way to pump some silicon!”

The man puts the bar back and says,” Wow, it’s been a very long time since I’ve tried to work out!”

“Makes you feel good after right?”

“Yea it does! Hey I think sometime I’ll move on to Mac’s tomorrow.”

“Mac’s? Are you sure? Might be a bit much, you may want to stick with simple 12 inch monitors for a while.”

“Maybe you’re right. Hey what was your own personal favorite comic issue?”

“Mine? Oh that’s a hard one… I’d have to say issue #42…”

“That’s the one where you battled the Quantum Syndicate!”

“Yea,” said Kayain as he suddenly looked very thoughtful. “I’ll never forget that day.”

“That was one to remember. But I think the question we all wanted to ask was,’ Is it really true what happens in issue #19?”

At this moment Cherry comes inside and looks at the scene. She shakes her head and goes to look for Kayain.

“Oh hell yea dude! You don’t think I make this stuff up do you?”

Cherry peeks around the corner and sees Kayain talking to a couple of researchers that gathered around him.

The guy grins broadly and says,” So you really did get to do it with Cherry, and all her sisters?”

Cherry’s jaw dropped.

“Oh yes, Indeed! Cherry’s got a huge family, and a lot of hottie sisters! But how could they say no to me? Especially Cherry. Oh all I have to do with her is say,’ Gimme some sugar babe!’ and she’s like putty in my hands.”

Cherry stands right behind him with her arms folded.

The researchers were chuckling now as Kayain said,” Yea she knows her place too! Whenever I want something done, she does it without question, and always gives a ‘may I have another’. Yea I’m the king of that whole relationship.”

Cherry’s eye twitches, and some researchers finally see her and stop laughing instantly.

“Yup, and whenever I want it, she’s all,’ Oh Kayain, you’re so manly! I want your body so bad!’”

All of the researchers see her now, and all look very scared.

“Uh hua, so that’s how it is. Yessiree Bob, No problems there… Uh… She’s right behind me isn’t she…”

The researchers nodded.

“Shit.”

Kayain swallowed hard, and tried to suppress a grin. He turned around very slowly with a very stupid look on his face as he tried not to laugh.

“Uhh… hi.” He said. “Now, you might, heh, you might hear some crazy things, err, RUMORS. Yea Rumors, flying around the place. Like one how I scored with you and your sisters… All in the same day. Please don’t kill me.”

Cherry snatches him by the ear and pulls him down to her face. She speaks deadly calm as she says,” Is this the kind of smut that’s printed on the comic book?”

“OW. Yes…”

“At what point in our lives have you ever done it with my sisters and I?”

“Issue #19- OW! I mean never!”

“Give me the comic.”

“Well you see I just need to say-“

NOW!

Even the researchers jumped as the words echoed throughout the entire area. Kayain and the others ran around searching in fast-forward like a Benny Hill episode. Kayain finds a copy lying around and hands it to her carefully. She snatches it and skims through it.

“Well there’s me… at least I think that’s me.”

“Yea well I told the artist to draw you like that...”

“Wow, I’m very… busty,”

“Yea well you know how it is with these super powered women… the bigger the power the bigger the boobs.”

“And is that Diana? She’s all freaky looking and flat chested.”

“Can’t have too many people drooling over my sister…”

“And…. Oh my, this is detailed. There’s me, Valentine, Regina, Brittany, and Bridget… Boy you really went all out on this didn’t you? Looks like you had my twin sisters at the same time… What’s this?! Sexy Cherry pin-up?”

“You like it?”

She narrowed her eyes at him and he cowered.

“Kayain,” she said. “Why would you do something like this?”

“Well, because… Well it was done a very long time ago! You know… before Leda…”

Damn, thought Cherry. He always gets me like that. He just has to mention her and things get awkward.

“You mean when you were a complete pervert, and not just a half ass one like now?”

“Exactly! So… will you forgive me for something that’s ancient history? I mean the newer ones are a lot more true then before…”

“Kayain… If you’re really sorry, I want you to re-print these and tell the truth. And stop giving me that dopey grin!”

“No problem babe! I’ll just re write these babies, in a jiffy! Hey guys guess what? When I re-print these babies that means the copies you have will be originals! Double the value!”

The researchers looked very pleased.

“And so there’s no confusion,” he continued. ”I did not in fact sleep with Cherry, or her sisters. Not at all! But there’s one thing I gotta ask… Why are you here sneaking up on me?”

“I came to escort Tylar back home to get his equipment. He says he’s bringing things here. Apparently he’s made some new friends and wants to do work here. While I was here I decided to say hello to you and see if you were coming back soon.”

“Oh… well looks like you got more than you bargained for.”

“Indeed. And I want a copy of every comic you’ve made. We need to fix some errors before my sisters see this.”

“They have actually.”

“What?!”

“Yea, they thought it was hilarious.”

“Even Gina?!”

“Yea, especially her. Hey I can’t help that now can I? She told me she thinks I’m incredibly sexy! No! Super Sexy!”

“No way!”

“Yes way!” Said Kayain with a grin. He whisperes to her,” She also said she wishes she would have joined us way earlier so she could have had me long ago.”

“Kayain! Don’t say things like that!”

“Ask her!”

Cherry didn’t have to. She knew Regina was very open and honest about most things.

“Ok, ok! Kayain, are you coming home or not?”

“In a while babe! I’ll be home after a few more exercises with these wimps.”

“All right I’ll see you at home. Oh and before I forget… About those comments I heard earlier…”

“Doh! Ah sorry, I- Bock Bock?”

Kayain flapped his arms around, pecked the tables and scratched the floors.

“Apology accepted.”

---------------------------------------------

 Everyone except Kayain was gathered in the living room, discussing plans.

“So ladies and gentlemen,” said Tylar. “We have made a sound theory on the possible methods of breaking inside the new and advanced Rikti shield. The general theory is using Rikti technology against the shield. Many of these we are unlikely to find around D.A.T.A. and must acquire these ourselves.”

“You mean using their own weapons against them?” said Cherry. “We don’t have anything ourselves that can break the shield?”

“Well, let me put it to you this way,” he said. “This shield is composed of two elements, Magic and Technology. Like a water and oil combo. Let’s say the water part is science, ok? Water is pretty much the universal liquid, and with our current equipment we could break it. Now let’s say Magic is the oil. Normally the two things don’t mix well, but somehow they made it work. Our guess was that they are using another source of magic to maintain this odd mixture. Since we can’t get at this source we are forced to go through the water and oil.

The biggest problem is we are extremely limited on our knowledge of the nature of this shield, and the nature of most rikti technology. Because the magic is so deeply immersed in the tech, the technology part is extremely overpowered. We’d need something with an immense power source to over power just one part.

The other problem is even if we do happen to get something with that kind of power in a focused area, we’d still have to deal with the magic part. And one supports the other, so we’d need the right magical components of equal power.”

Cherry folds her hands and puts them against her chin. She leaned forward and said,” Tell me it gets better…”

“No I’m afraid not. Really, it gets worse,” said Tylar once again oblivious to sarcasm. “Now we’re going to talk about the Rikti fail-safe plans. From what we do know, the Rikti use complicated systems when dealing with security. For example, if I were to break a normal shield of theirs, with a particular weapon, then their shields would quickly change wave patterns so to speak. Meaning the same kind of blast you used would be useless against the shield after a while.”

“Constantly changing wave patterns,” said Cherry. “Meaning once we break it, we have a short amount of time before it recovers and closes up again.”

“Yes, and whomever is inside will not be able to leave without their Rikti teleport device, or shutting down the shield.”

“Ingenious. Tell me Tylar, do you believe this is all possible?”

“Well, everything is possible. But this will take much consideration and time.”

“But it is doable?”

“Err, yes.”

Cherry sighed in relief. She was also glad Kayain was not around to hear her say ‘doable’.

“Very good Tylar,” said Cherry. “Dan? What do you think?”

“I’m going to have to agree sis,” said Danyel. “I’ve gathered all I could about the Vindicator weapon, and knowing the components is only the beginning. Determining the solution is the harder part. The hardest part is finding them. Other than that, my part shouldn’t be nearly as complicated.”

“Good. That’s what I want to hear,” she said as she took a look around. “You hear that boys and girls? We’re on the look out for Rikti technology and items of magical power.”

“Yes, ma’am!” said Kat and Solo.

“Uhh…” groaned Biggs and Lu Bu.

“What’s wrong with you guys? Biggs, you’re usually all fire and brimstone. And Lu Bu, you’re always ready to bust some heads.”

“Eh, beggin’ yer pardon Cap’n… I don’ feel so good. Can I go rest now?” asked Biggs as he put one hand on his head.

“Come here…” said Cherry. “Lu Bu, come here too.”

They both walked over to her in a cold sweat. She sniffed around them and said,” I don’t smell alcohol, so you did pretty well there. What else have you eaten today?”

“Beef Jerky,” said Biggs.

“Road Kill,” Said Lu Bu.

“Well that’s pretty normal for you guys. Lu Bu your road kill was how old?”

“Don’t know ma’am. I don’t usually ask armadillos how old they is… I just run em over.”

“I mean how long was the thing dead?”

“I stepped on it then ate it, so not long?”

“Well it couldn’t have been that… What else?”

“What about that soda?” said Regina.

“Soda? What soda?” asked Cherry.

“Oh… we stole- I mean confiscated this new cola from some villain on the streets. They shared a few swigs,” said Regina looking very sheepish.

“You mean you guys drank some new drink from a guy off the streets?”

“Yea, we did cap’n. Jus’ looked like regular soda ter me,” said Biggs.

“Geeze, haven’t you guys learned anything? Who knows what kind of drugs that guy could have been harboring!”

“Sorry ma’am,” said Lu Bu.

Cherry sighs and says,” All right you two, get some rest. Hopefully this stuff will exit your system one way or another. Ami keep an eye on them. If they’re not better by tomorrow, let me know.”

“Will do,” said Ami.

“Tylar, you have all your equipment?”

“I do,” he said.

“Good. I’ll take you back to D.A.T.A.

“I’ll be pulling an up-all-nighter today, so don’t worry about coming to get me until the next day,” he said.

“And what about you Dan?”

“I need to get some work done here,” said Danyel.

“Very well. Everyone, dismissed.”

Regina comes up to Cherry and says,” I’ll go with you to help keep you safe.”

“Thank you sis… Err, can I ask you something?”

“Of course.”

“Have you read Kayain’s comic before?”

Regina lets out one sharp laugh and says,” Oh dear, you must have seen it recently haven’t you?”

“Yes…”

“Isn’t Kayain’s work completely hilarious? He’s got creativity I’ll give him that.”

“There was one part in particular I was going to ask about…”

“Is it the part where he has sex with all of us on the same day?”

“Yes…”

“I was surprised at first, but then when I asked him why he did that, he said he thought it would have made us laugh. I admit it did. He also said how hot we are, and I felt flattered that he really thinks of me as super sexy.”

“He said that you called him that.”

“Yea I did… Hey don’t look at me that way! Nothing happened between us, he’s just a very sexy guy! Nothing wrong with looking at a sexy guy now is there?”

“No, not at all…”

“You’re always so jealous. You need to ease up. I mean if I had a man I really liked, and you said he was hot, I’d be very happy.”

Cherry smiles a bit and says,” Really?”

“Of course! It’s only natural to want to see something very attractive, it’s just in our nature.”

“Where have you been getting your philosophies, Diana?”

“No, It’s just what I think. But besides that did you see the way he portrays you on the comic?”

“Heh, yea I did.”

“Think of that as a Kayain form of flattery. When he looks at you, he sees the sexiest woman alive. I’d be proud if I were you.”

Cherry smiles as she remembers the picture.

Kayain, she thought. Of all the universes you could have come into, you had to come into mine. You’re the biggest pervert I’ve ever had the displeasure of meeting… Don’t ever change.

TO CHAPTER 6 >






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