Constraints: Follows 'The Future We Choose/Anticipate This'
Synopsis: While Daria tries to get her head straight, Tiffany reassesses her life and Jane frets over the Legion's rapidly declining reputation.
The FOF Garden in Sierra Leone was ... ... well ... ... well what can be said? It's a tree farm just north east of Waterloo, Sierra Leone. Layla Taabu wasn't that impressed with it, or Waterloo, or Sierra Leone in general, which was why she hadn't been back since she had reached age of majority. It was just a shit neighbourhood, and that was before the gang wars started, especially with the Pentecostals and their retarded witch hunts (Yes, this is not a metaphor, they really are hunting for witches, picking on anyone of any age on the most retarded basis. So Layla, with fucking HORNS growing out of her head ... ). Now, the only endearing thing about it was Layla's parents lived here.
Layla trained as a manual metallic arc welder, using her vectors for better handling of the electrode holder than what her hands could ever do, and she was excellent at it (MMA is the most commonly used welding method in construction because of the simplicity of the equipment, inversely proportionate to the ease at which anyone who is not a diclonius or a robot can learn to do it). That was her ticket to every major construction job in Europe and the UK where the apparent brain drain meant they had almost no home trained welders available.
Then she took a holiday to another supposedly safe country, low crime, good tourist hotspots ... ... and a bunch of mad scientists that wanted to accumulate as many diclonii as they can get their hands on. She managed to hang on to her sanity, but only just, months spent naked, being sedated, waking up in restraints for some kind of experiment to see how well she deflected projectiles, how well she recovered from burns, lacerations, radiation poisoning, they'd even spiked her drink with something that she could taste but only after drinking lots of it did it become apparent it was designed to precipitate kidney stones.
It was strange. She should have been well indignant about it, but it was like her mind had simply switched to some kind of 'waiting room' mode. It had also been scary, she was at the mercy of people who obviously saw her as nothing more than a toy or some kind of laboratory animal, and what they were doing to her was a crime, so simply allowing her to walk free would have been George Bush stupid, they would probably have killed her off when they were done.
There had also been a fear that they would become curious to see how she would recover from having her brain mutilated.
Where her consciousness lived.
How would that have been like? Only part of your personality there, unable to remember the part that's missing, but aware of its absence?
That was horrible, but for some reason she was just able to wait it out. Of course her dreams took her back every now and then, she always went to sleep wearing a Mk.50 strap in order to avoid killing someone in the event she did wake up from a nightmare.
She did have this weird antsy feeling that she didn't have before the abduction and torture, it was this sort of ... ... She just didn't know what to do with herself, nothing was scary, but nothing was fun either, it was like she should be doing something she couldn't remember she was supposed to be doing, but that something needed doing urgent. This was why she had returned.
That feeling was still there.
What the fuck was with that stupid feeling?
A Legionnaire and a meta-cop, a special forces operator, and some US recruits along with a couple of diclonii who had also been through that place showed up and freed her, and extracted her to Hawaii, where she was able to make contact with a British embassy (she had settled on Britain as her home as the Olympic village promised tons of welding that needed to be completed pristinely and soon) and get herself reacquainted with her bank savings. About £3000 down on rent, TV license, standing charges, left her with £22000, so not too bad for the time she had been missing.
She had then become involved when another British diclonius woman had seen on the news that a group of nuclear terrorists were running around somewhere in the United States, they had been waiting together in the Embassy watching the news.
Layla had gone to Cheyenne, Wyoming, and then she got a call directing her to Laramie, she had been there when the terrorists had passed through. Two diclonii, contempt for humanity, jubilant at the thought of seeing a city getting blown up.
The Legion had paid everyone involved in the operation for expenses incurred during the operation and their fare home. There couldn't be a major announcement about this because of that precog, but Layla was glad she had been involved in saving so many lives.
After that trip to Japan had annihilated her trust of the first world, she had decided to come home and look in on her parents.
And she was out for a stroll to the local shops when some dickhead started shooting at her, calling her 'Devil Woman'.
She used her vectors to protect herself from the AK47 rounds, and eventually her patience was so thin, she picked up a rock and clocked the twat across the head.
Another started from further away.
"For fucks sake," she groaned with an eye-roll, she used her vectors to sort of fly around, of course she had to stay close enough for her vectors to push against the ground and trees, she eventually turned vertical behind a tree and overflew the asshole, landing behind him as he looked to where he though she still was.
She pulled a Peperami from her pocket (she couldn't get enough of them) and started munching on it as the man continued to gaze at the distant trees, eventually asking "errrrrrrrrrrp ... what you doing doc?"
He glanced back at her and was about to say something as he returned his attention, he then reeled around and shrieked, shooting roughly in her direction.
Chuckling at how her Bugs Bunny impression had gone she said "Seriously mate, dodgy neighbourhood, dodgy COUNTRY, and you're wasting ammunition on a girl on her way to buy some frozen pizzas ... why?"
"Because I paid him to," said a man behind her.
Layla turned to look at him, he was stood on top of a pickup truck, pointing a box shaped ... Gun? ... It looked like a slug thrower, not a PFT, and there was a separate box on top of it, the box with the array of holes in the front seemed to move somewhat independently, maybe capable of slewing up to five degrees across and up/down.
"And you ... want to kill me or just annoy me?"
The man fired.
She was able to deflect most of the rounds, but they were just coming in too thick and fast and she felt her heart explode.
She looked down at her chest, there were three distinct rows of entry wounds.
The top row had the widest pitch, the lowest one, which had intersected her heart had the narrowest pitch.
"How the fuck di-"
That was all she could do before she was on her side, staring at her diminishing field of view of the forest.
'That was a rubbish death' was her last thought.
Jane and Stacy continued to stare at the door.
"She spends way too much time on her own in there," said Stacy.
"Yeah," said Jane, "I almost wish she was decking the halls with nitrogen tri-iodide."
"Almost but not quite, right?" asked Stacy.
"Yeah, I'm not that unhinged," said Jane.
"Good," said Stacy, "have you two melded yet?"
"No, she doesn't want us to see how evil our simulated selves were in that VR torture chamber," said Jane, "for some reason the fact we keep accidentally putting her on edge seems insufficient reason for her to share."
"Sounds like she doesn't want to put us on edge," said Stacy, "if we're all scared of scaring her, then we're going to have trouble concentrating on saving the world," said Stacy.
"We're scared of that anyway," said Jane, "we can modify our training to accommodate her needs-"
"I think she'd rather modify her training to get back to maximum effectiveness," said Stacy, "also, you need to get a life, when was the last time you painted a picture or forged a sculpture or something?"
"The Legion is my life," said Jane.
"That's ... ... admirable," said Stacy, "look, sometimes you need to take time off and do something different, or you go insane, I mean, we're all Legionnaires, and we all have something, I race in motorbike rallies, Jodie runs that CSI continent in Second Life, Brittany seems to be getting the hang of that basic First Aid course."
"And Daria?" asked Jane.
"She ... gets out and does something highly personal now and then," said Stacy, "Usually relating to work with Amnesty International, whatever it is, it seems to keep her sane."
'All Legionnaires from Brittany, earthquake just hit Yanbu in Saudi Arabia, wheels up in five minutes.'
Daria emerged from her room going to the elevator.
Five seconds after she entered, she asked "Coming?"
Jane and Stacy entered the elevator just as the doors were half a metre apart.
Four and a half years ago.
"So Tiffany, you want to be a sailor. Why?" asked the Careers counsellor.
"I think I can make it as a sailor a lot better than as an investigator, I can't imagine where I'd begin if I were to try to solve a crime," said Tiffany.
Tiffany's efforts had been unfocused because she had real trouble figuring out exactly what it was she wanted to do, it was only in the last few days she had actually figured out what sounded like a fun job.
She had thought about returning to the Legion, but she wasn't sure she wanted to go back without first doing ... ... Something ... ... She couldn't figure out what it was, but she didn't want to return until she had done something on her own, there would be something deeply dissatisfying about returning to the Legion as merely an AXE grad.
"In what capacity would you wish to serve?" asked the counsellor.
"Well, I was thinking of either being a gunner or an aviator, something along those lines."
The Counsellor worked on his computer for a while and eventually said "either one of those positions would require specific qualifications that you don't seem to have yet, currently you're good for E4, third class petty officer, you could probably become a section commander if you can reach E6, a battery commander if you can achieve O4, want to be a pilot, O2 minimum. Looking at your CV, you're looking at a year or so before you're going to be in control of anything," he looked grim as he said "are you willing to spend the time serving wherever you're put while you develop the skills and qualifications needed for your desired role?"
"I have accelerated my learning," said Tiffany, "I'm sure I can learn what I need."
"Well, yes, you're technical knowledge has improved considerably, and confidence is good, but a lot of people even in the armed forces can be hostile towards metahumans, and you nursed that grudge with David Allen for months," said the counsellor.
"Can't just let people walk all over me, can I? I know I overcompensate sometimes, but the principal stands," said Tiffany.
"That kind of attitude is likely to seed conflict not avert it, if fear's your only tool, who's going to be loyal?"
"I won't open hostilities, but letting everything slide won't close them. Loyalty is something I'll have to work on," said Tiffany.
"To make a name for yourself?"
Tiffany prevented herself from groaning, and said "one minute you're on me for having no charm, next you're on me for wanting it, it's possible you sound consistent to yourself, but could you please, please, please stop talking shrink and start talking American?"
"Okay, calm down," said the counsellor, trying to win back her confidence, "I ask these questions, some of them seem pretty offensive, but it's because I want you to think about the reasons why you're seeking to pursue a particular career before embarking on it."
"Think about the reasons. Okay, here's the way I figure this: Every job will have a side that sucks blue whale scrotum, I don't pick one that has a side I like, five years from now, I'll need a drug habit to get up in the morning. Being able to reach out and touch someone with an artillery or air strike sounds like something I could take a deep personal pride in, so that's what I want to pursue. I don't have to be nice, I just have to make the X-ray vanish from the face of the earth."
"Okay. Well, I have to say, flight designator seems unrealistic at this point, it'll take years for you to get up to that level, gunner is more attainable, you get up to O level through that, also get a fixed wing pilot license either by means of civilian instructors or through a flight training program, but it's far from guaranteed you'll end up driving fighter-bombers, so of the two paths you're considering, I'd go with gunner."
Four and a half years later.
"Mum mum mum mah"
Tiffany stepped onto the dance floor assessing both rivals and bounties.
"Mum mum mum mah"
Everyone's bodies were also moving as the song started.
"Mum mum mum mah"
"Mum mum mum mah
"Mum mum mum mah"
Most of the men on the dance floor were good looking.
"I wanna hold em' like they do
in Texas, Please -
Fold em' let em' hit me raise it baby stay with me (I love it)
Luck and intuition play the cards with Spades to start
And after he's been hooked I'll play the one that's on his heart,"
The moves of all of them looked okay, she moved towards one of them.
"Oh, oh, oh, oh, ohhhh, ohh-oh-e-ohh-oh-oh
I'll get him hot, show him what I've got
Oh, oh, oh, oh, ohhhh, ohh-oh-e-ohh-oh-oh,
I'll get him hot, show him what I've got,"
She ended up attracting three men towards her.
"Can't read my,
Can't read my
No he can't read my poker face
(She's got to love nobody)
Can't read my
Can't read my
No he can't read my poker face
(She's got to love nobody),"
They started slow dancing against her.
"P-p-p-poker face, p-p-poker face
(Mum mum mum mah)
P-p-p-poker face, p-p-poker face
(Mum mum mum mah)."
Tiffany was feeling greedy, and she had experiences where one of the men was crap at sex or opened his mouth only to turn her off, or even wussed out altogether, and aside from that, she liked to wrestle as part of the foreplay, three on one allowed her to cut loose with the certainty that she'll be overpowered, she didn't like having to just fake losing, that was just not a turn on, not a thrill. Of course she could always go intangible if she didn't like what they were doing, but that was sufficiently different from just going limp that it didn't really affect her perception of the sex act.
"I wanna roll with him a hard
pair we will be
A little gambling is fun when you're with me (I love it)
Russian Roulette is not the same without a gun
And baby when it's love if it's not rough it isn't fun, fun
Oh, oh, oh, oh, ohhhh, ohh-oh-e-ohh-oh-oh
I'll get him hot, show him what I've got
Oh, oh, oh, oh, ohhhh, ohh-oh-e-ohh-oh-oh,
I'll get him hot, show him what I've got."
Can't screw your work mates, UCMJ has a number of rules against that, as if she felt like boning any of them, so liberty was about the only time she could go out and get some.
"Can't read my,
Can't read my
No he can't read my poker face
(She's got to love nobody)
Can't read my
Can't read my
No he can't read my poker face
(She's got to love nobody)."
There was a good selection of bars, pubs and clubs in the
town on her base's doorstep, and most the men she left these venues with took
her to their place, so there was usually something interesting to look at and
discuss when they woke up after a long night of screwing.
"P-p-p-poker face, p-p-poker face
(Mum mum mum mah)
P-p-p-poker face, p-p-poker face
(Mum mum mum mah)."
"I won't tell you that I love you
Kiss or hug you
Cause I'm bluffin' with my muffin
I'm not lying I'm just stunnin' with my love-glue-gunning
Just like a chick in the casino
Take your bank before I pay you out
I promise this, promise this
Check this hand cause I'm marvellous."
"Can't read my,
Can't read my
No he can't read my poker face
(She's got to love nobody)
Can't read my
Can't read my
No he can't read my poker face
(She's got to love nobody)
"Can't read my,
Can't read my
No he can't read my poker face
(She's got to love nobody)
Can't read my
Can't read my
No he can't read my poker face
(She's got to love nobody)
"Can't read my,
Can't read my
No he can't read my poker face
(She's got to love nobody)
Can't read my
Can't read my
No he can't read my poker face
(She's got to love nobody)
"P-p-p-poker face, p-p-poker face
(Mum mum mum mah)
P-p-p-poker face, p-p-poker face
(Mum mum mum mah)
"P-p-p-poker face, p-p-poker face
(Mum mum mum mah)
P-p-p-poker face, p-p-poker face
(Mum mum mum mah)
"P-p-p-poker face, p-p-poker face
(Mum mum mum mah)
P-p-p-poker face, p-p-poker face
(Mum mum mum mah)"
Tiffany left the dance floor with her catches, it was time to find somewhere to screw.
The Gridrunner dropped to subsonic speed as it overflew the Red Sea.
The water seemed to blend with the land as it still had all the top soil suspended in it.
"Aww man," said Jodie, "I hate Tsunamis."
"Epicentre in the red sea," said Daria.
"Still hate them," said Jodie.
"I remember the last time I had to deal with a flooded disaster area," said Brittany.
"Really? I have no recollections of dealing with that," said Daria, "I'm sure I must have located a lot of hidden casualties and helped save people that otherwise would have died."
'All Legionnaires, Brittany, get in the air, Daria, Stacy, Tom, look for survivors, Jane, Charles, dig them out, Julia, may need you to heal people, anyone else, well, best judgement.'
Everyone got out using their own flight capabilities or their flight rings.
As they closed in, Daria noticed there was no mental signatures from anyone down there.
Either they were all dead or-
"Whoa," said Jane as she suddenly fell, she switched to her flight ring and shot off a little hard, but recovered.
Daria also noticed she was no longer reading any of the Legionnaires.
'Jodie, Daria, we've encountered a metajammer, track my movements, over.'
'Daria, Jodie, have that.'
'From Tom, I'm climbing out over the effect to see what's going on, over.'
Eventually Jodie thought cast 'From Jodie, I have the metajammer's approximate location, there's this L shaped dock at the centre of where all these roads ring around the northern part of the city, there's a pair of warehouses west north west of the inner corner of the L, over.'
'Jodie from Tom, I have the device, I'm firing. ... Target destroyed.'
'All Legionnaires from Daria, I'm sensing people from all over the city,' She then started figuring out which ones were in the most urgent need of assistance.
Tiffany was awoken by cops breaking into the hotel room she and her men were sleeping in.
"What the fuck?" asked one of Tiffany's lays.
"NO ONE MOVE! NO ONE MOVE!" said the sergeant in charge of this police incursion.
"We're naked in a bed with strangers looking in on us, what incentive do we have to move?" asked Tiffany, "and what are you doing here anyway? I always thought you'd need probable cause to break in to a property such as this."
"Yeah, that would be the concerned citizen that saw you four enter committing prostitution and drug offences. Ma'am, are you a prostitute?"
"No," said Tiffany.
"Do any of you have any drugs on you?"
"No, who is this concerned citizen?" asked Tiffany.
"Ma'am, please remain calm," said the sergeant.
"I'm plenty calm when operational, there's an old saying from time immemorial you might want to consider."
"And that is?" asked the sergeant.
"Never get between a sailor on liberty and her penis," said Tiffany.
"You threatened to assault a witness in the presence of half the town's night shift?" asked the Admiral as they stood in the police cell.
"I was off the clock in bed just awoken by some cops sent after us by some miserable asshole out to overturn the first amendment, what exactly were you expecting here sir?" responded Tiffany.
"The kind of self control you were supposed to have developed since that incident where you tried to murder a prisoner in custody," said the Admiral, he then handed her a folder saying "here, situation in Sierra Leone, your new assignment."
Tiffany opened the folder and looked through the photos.
The battle damage seemed to show abnormally regular rows of bullet strikes. Some of them seemed to be rows that reoccurred at regular pitches, like a series of parallel barrels- "where are the West Side Boys getting metal storm guns from?"
"That's what we need to know. Your mandarin still good?"
"象乘坐sybian，你怎么从未忘记。" replied Tiffany. ("Like riding a sybian, you never forget how.")
"高兴听见它， you' 再去假装在获得这些新的奇迹武器的中国帮会。" replied the Admiral. ("Glad to hear it, you're going to be pretending to be in a Chinese gang out to procure these new wonder weapons.")
"Okay then," said Tiffany.
Julia arrived with another injured woman in her arms at the tent in the hospital car park.
The damage to the city had been surprising, something seemed off here. The effect of the tsunami had also been disproportionate to Yanbu. This was bothering Jodie and Daria.
Shalateen had taken some of the energy and some of the Tsunami, but no one was actually in distress there (although any fervently religious Muslims might have a heart attack when they see what the water did to their mosques). They would have to look at all the geological data once they had saved everyone they can.
A news crew were interviewing patients outside, another was commenting on what was going on inside, these were people who were hurt but nothing like critical, Tom's shape vision allowed him to determine if there was blood going to places it shouldn't.
Inside the tent were the critical cases, Julia's powers meant there were few to no lost causes, but she was restricting it to those where it was absolutely necessary.
Tom, Daria and Jane were leading the efforts to extract people trapped in collapsed buildings, Daria sensed the people in distress and networked Tom and Jane's minds so Jane could act on what Tom sees, lifting and stabilising rubble. Jane's capabilities, now in the exotesla range, had developed to the point where she could manipulate air to generate megapascals of pressure.
Julia, Stacy and Charles were moving people to the tents where the local doctors had assembled their triage centre.
"Irish J fell on her pelvis after she fell, there's three simple fractures at the front, there's also brain swelling going on, where do I stick her?" asked Julia.
"Over here," said the lead physician.
Julia placed her as directed, "be right back."
She just got to the door when some local cops showed up, one had a megaphone on a strap around his shoulder. "Stop," said one of them.
Stopping as ordered, Julia asked "yeah? What?"
"Dress up before stepping out," said another.
Julia allowed herself a scowl as she asked "Mutaween?"
"This is the law of our land, you'd want us to obey your laws in your land."
The other was looking around when he asked "those women, were they brought here like this?"
Obviously he meant the fact they weren't dressed in the full form covering ninja nun habit dresses.
"That's how we found them, and keeping them alive takes precedence over dress codes IRRELEVANT of whatever rules you have for public dress, even in your legal system, what you two are advocating is depraved indifference, and if I hear of you interfering with the doctors or endangering patients lives when I get back, I'll drop you in the red sea over the epicentre, okay?" Julia then left the tent.
The two Mutaween walked around scribbling down notes on a pad of paper.
Stacy arrived with a man who had a length of T20 rebar poking through his chest and a severely deformed ankle. "ONE ADULT MALE, FOREIGN OBJECT THROUGH THE RIGHT LUNG, CRUSHED LEFT FOOT."
"Over here," said the lead physician.
A female doctor moved to assist as Stacy placed him on the empty bed.
The Mutaween moved towards the bed as Stacy placed the man in it. They stopped her as she turned to leave.
"Excuse me," said Stacy.
"Not until you cover your head," said one of the Mutaween cops.
"Mosque police. Right. Piss off."
The whole tent gasped.
"What did you say?"
"It means go away, with the emphasis on away. FAR away." Having stunned the entire tent into silence, Stacy continued on out.
Eventually the Mutaween cops turned to the doctor treating the man Stacy brought in and one of them said "Miss, you can't be treating men. Male doctors treat men, female doctors treat women."
The woman glanced up and said "we're all busy, feel free to write me a ticket."
The two cops pulled asps and the doctor looked up again. "you want this man to die?"
"It is not for you to treat him, it is Haraam."
No one had noticed Julia enter with another patient. She selected an empty bed herself and placed the casualty in it, quickly briefing the lead physician before she went over to the Mutaween cops, grabbing them by their throats and dragging them out saying "come on, I warned you."
The doctors continued on working as Julia dragged out the two Mutaween cops as they struggled hard against her vastly superior strength.
Four And Four Tenths of a year ago (+/- a twentieth or so)
"Petty Officer Third Class Tiffany Blum Deckler here as ordered sir."
"Welcome aboard," said the captain as he looked over from what he was doing.
The First Class Petty Officer stood next to him looked disdainful. Tiffany had little doubt she had "newbie" written all over her.
"Thank you sir."
"Looking forward to your career?" asked the captain.
"Good to hear, Petty Officer Gravel, get Petty Officer Blum Deckler settled in, put her to work on something, then we'll do this properly before the two of you knock off for the night, dismissed."
"Aye sir," they acknowledged as they left the bridge.
As they went to Tiffany's quarters, Petty Officer Gravel asked "So, looking forward to your career?"
"I am," said Tiffany. She was thinking hard about how to frame a question about Gravel's hostility toward her without causing him to stick her on sceptic tank diving duty for fictional flushed jewellery or similar thngs.
She was all of five minutes into her tour, so she had no idea who was like what right now.
Four And Four Tenths of a year later (+/- a twentieth or so)
The seven SEALs stood to attention as Tiffany entered the briefing room.
"Stand easy," said Tiffany as she connected her laptop computer to the projector. "Sierra Leone. Tropical, forested, thriving economy in drugs, weapons, blood diamonds and unnecessary surgical procedures carried out by drug crazed gangsters."
"Aren't we wholly overt over there now?" asked Seaman Harry Coates, the electronics expert.
"Yeah, we were, and now our forces are afraid to leave their bases," said Tiffany as she loaded the images of the shot up vehicles, "as you should all be aware, any briefing covering attempts to pirate PFT weapons strongly resembles an episode of America's Dumbest Criminals, especially the ones where they do nothing but bomb makers that don't know one end of a detonator from the other, black market PFTs are rare and expensive items because the only ones anyone will touch are those stolen from legitimate users."
"Those aren't PFT effects though, are they?" Said PO3 Irma Pauley, their mechanic.
"No. We think the bullets came from a metal storm system," said Tiffany, "Metal storm has been publically known for a while now, it was only a matter of time before a tech pirate came along and built their own, there are many people knocking about the planet that can manufacture AK47s in their own home, combine that with someone who makes pirated AV gear and you have metal storm. Thing is we think these are being mass produced, the numbers we have seen fielded don't support someone making these things in their own house with tools from the local B&Q, these appeared suddenly and in large numbers."
"Someone's mass producing them and selling them in bulk?" said WO4 Hugh Cartman, their hacker.
"Yep," said Tiffany.
"Where do we come in?" asked Irma.
"We're going to find out where they're coming from," said Tiffany. "In order to do that, we're going to need to get them to sell us some."
"How?" asked Harry.
"Because we're crooks," said Tiffany, "we'll need back stories, but I'm playing a Peoples Navy Of China Captain-"
A series of "Ooooooh,"s interrupted her.
"Yeah, yeah, anyway, I deserted from China looking to start my own crime firm, we've been smuggling Heroin into Europe, but frankly we hate trying to sneak tons of heroin past European, Australasian, Australian and American maritime assets to people who are on the heroin themselves and liable to get us all busted, we'd much rather be smuggling diamonds, take up less space, can't get high on them so fewer idiots on the sales end, cheaper conflict diamonds end up in jewellery just like relatively expensive legitimately imported diamonds, and they're not a consumable item, so no crime waves linkable to the point of sales. Thing is we still want to improve our weapons so we're more able to get past the naval and coastal patrols of the sales end nations, and considering the service we're offering, it only makes sense to improve our chances of getting through."
The Legionnaires all met up outside the Triage tent with the exception of Stacy and Tom who were investigating the metajammer they had blown up earlier.
"That's it for survivors," said Daria.
"Good," said Julia.
"Not really, about twenty life signs disappeared while we were working," said Daria.
"Damn," said Jane.
"Now, why the hell was there a metajammer running? Especially one big enough to affect a whole city?" asked Daria.
"Metaphobic policy?" suggested Jane.
"We could overfly some cities and see what happens to our powers," said Jodie, "but there's no redundancy here, just the one jammer. Also, Tom said it was in a Ford Transit just parked there, run off a generator. This seemed too rushed," said Jodie.
"Other than delaying our attempts to rescue tsunami earthquake victims, what's their motivation?" asked Julia.
"Protect something?" suggested Brittany.
"Protect what? There's nothing here, there's an oil depot south west of here, but this is one hell of an offset, it's not even within the effect radius," said Daria, "Also, I wasn't getting anyone feeling agitated about our presence, just about the earthquake and the surf."
"What if they were Esper trained?" asked Jane.
"Then why the metajammer? And again, why a whole city?" asked Daria.
"That generator would have been very fuel hungry," said Jodie, "and it just happens to have been set up in anticipation of an earthquake. We need to get a look at the epicentre."
"Under all that water?" asked Jane, "Even Tom's shape vision will have problems with that."
"I'll find some newt suits," said Jodie, "number of off shore rigs in the area, should be plenty of stockists near the Persian Gulf. I'll take the Gridrunner over there."
A news crew eventually approached the Legion, the correspondent introducing himself as "Jack Schrector, CBN News, what do you have to say about what happened here today?"
"No comment at this time," said Brittany, "aside from we think we failed to get to twenty people. We're going to help recover their bodies while we're here."
"How do you answer accusations that you kept injured people from the doctors?" asked Jack.
"If it was injuries that could wait a while, that's basic triage," said Jodie, "You treat the most urgent cases first, the doctors will get to the rest once the critical patients have been stabilised."
"Isn't that a bit cold?" asked Jack, "how do you define 'Injuries that can wait a while'?"
"Anything not lethal," said Jodie.
"Even though they're in extreme pain from broken legs or sprained ankles or broken ribs?"
"They can wait," repeated Jodie, "Painful can wait, lethal can't."
"How do you answer accusations you assaulted two police men?" asked Jack.
"If you're referring to those two Mutaween cops, they were interfering with the treatment of patients," said Julia, "Keep in mind the Mutaween are thought police, more interested in running people's lives than saving them."
"So you think Saudi Arabia should have no religion."
"I think religion needs to be left up to the individual, it's not the kind of thing you should be killing people over."
"Funny how you're concerned for people's lives one minute and making them wait outside the surgical tent the next," said Jack.
"Didn't we just cover this? We're doing triage, remember?"
"You gave a politicians answer."
"Your opinion on Saudi Arabia's religion seemed awfully vague."
"What's that got to do with triage conditions?"
"You brought it up when you assaulted those cops."
"They were interfering with doctors who were trying to save peoples lives, just what are you after here? Is there an actual link between these questions you're asking, or are you just trying a mind screw of some kind?"
"There's no need to get hostile, we're just doing our job," said Jack.
"Uh-huh. Well, we got dead people to dig up, I'll talk to the lead physician about where we want to stick the cadavers. Could also use some body bags."
"Okay," said Brittany as she walked off.
"I'll see if I can speed up the cadaver hunt by getting specific names and addresses," said Daria, she then walked off.
"I'll get Stacy and start the cadaver hunt," said Jane.
"I'll get that equipment we'll need," said Jodie, "Sandi, might need your help."
Jodie entered her PIN into the device and waited for the transaction to process.
Eventually it said 'Remove Card' and Jodie did.
The three Sandis moved their trolleys off as Jodie grabbed hers and they moved the Newt Suits to the Gridrunner.
Agent Flemming was waiting outside the shop.
"Well, this is unlikely to be a coincidence," said Jodie, "Here to see us, or are you looking to build a retirement ranch on the sea floor?"
"I'm here because you've come to our attention again," said Flemming as he walked with Jodie.
"Really? How'd that happen?" asked Jodie.
"You staged the earthquake," said Flemming.
"No we didn't," said Jodie, "The quake did seem odd though, why we want to look at it, I'm also going to look up the seismic read outs from the quake to see if we can determine anything from that."
"Got them with me," said Flemming, as he produced the legal sized envelope he had been holding behind his back.
Jodie took it as she continued to push the trolley with her abdomen. She opened it and said "No creaking, epicentres were too straight, and they occurred only on one side of the ridge, and occurred in a sequence starting from the edges. Monroe effect, directed right at Yanbu."
"And you simply deduced this?" asked Flemming.
"Duh," said Jodie, "super brain, remember? If I wanted to stage an earthquake, it would be indistinguishable. This one's more obviously fake than Lolo Ferrari's tits. Tell you what, why don't you come along, maybe you'll learn how to run an investigation."
"Got some good samples, stick them in CODIS when we get back," said Stacy.
"Okay," said Tom, "guess we need to help Jane now."
They emerged from the building to encounter a news crew.
"Karen Caine, CBN News, can you two tell me why the Legion broke into this place?"
"Not at this time," said Stacy, "we might at a later date."
"What's with the secrecy?" asked Karen.
"What can we say, it's a secret," said Tom.
They then took off.
The Gridrunner landed near the hospital.
Daria had managed to compile a complete list of mission people and addresses. 'Tom and Quinn from Jodie, I'd like you two accompany myself and Agent Flemming to the sea floor, over.'
'Jodie from Daria, did you say Agent Flemming?'
'Afraid so,' replied Jodie.
'What's his interest?' asked Daria.
'He thinks we caused the earthquake,' responded Jodie.
'Of course he does. We're not on that damn list again are we?'
'Not as far as I can tell,' responded Jodie, 'he showed me the seismic readings from the earthquake. It started from opposing ends of the event and closed towards the centre in what just happened to be a perfect Monroe effect, there's no question this was synthetic, we need to figure out how. We're also contacting NORAD and the Secnav for information on what air and watercraft were in the area at the time, but we currently suspect metahumans were involved, I have a rough idea on how it was done, we can rule out explosives as the main component because those would have shown up on the graphs, there may be an explosive trigger for the event, but the majority had to have been done in advance much like how explosive demolition is done.'
'Okay, could you pass on a threat of extreme violence to Flemming in the event he renditions my sister?'
Two And A Half Years Ago.
Tiffany counted the number of tomahawk missiles still in the ship's magazine.
She was having trouble trying to figure out what it was she had done to piss off Petty Officer Keith Gravel, because after two years of service, wasn't she a bit old for hazing?
She was regularly assigned stuff like this, and the seamen under her had often been taken from her and assigned something else. This was a more regular event since this guy had taken control than before, and it felt like they were getting less satisfied with her authority than before, she had asked them outright what it was that they didn't like about her, but they weren't forthcoming, so she finally told them where to stick their attitude and get on with it.
Still, she felt like she was being shunned to a degree.
It had also showed that she was somewhat clueless when she had deployed, she had spent so much time with her team cadre at the axe, that she was a little rusty at reaching out to new people, she often got hostility back any time she tried to chime into a conversation, so she sat alone, watching and wishing she could partake.
There was no practical reason to keep counting the number of tomahawks they had so often when none had been fired. Small calibre rounds, grenades, some of the large calibre rounds, but this felt like the kind of joke order you're given if you're not quire sleep deprived enough that an order to find two litres of plaid paint wouldn't work.
She was also felt like she was being denied opportunities for advancement, she had never been given the opportunity to try out operating the weapons in any of the exercises. She had read up on them and passed the theoretical tests, but for some reason she had always been judged too incapable to advance to that level. She spent more time sweeping shell casings than generating them.
What the hell was she doing here? Maybe she could try another armed force next tour, this was beyond retarded. Having thought that, she also didn't want to look like a total flake. She just had to stick at it, if it took more than five years, then maybe she'd pack it in and try somewhere else.
Two And A Half Years Later.
"Will this really look like a self build?" asked Seaman Teresa Kraven as they looked over the plan.
"I embezzled a couple of million when I left the navy," said Tiffany, "Think about it, we drive up onto a beach, we can drop off the gear and leave, it means we can skip the part where we switch from zodiac to submarine, it makes us less vulnerable."
"Something you learned in Japan?" asked Hugh.
"I have no recollection of what you're talking about," said Tiffany. "We're going to want the Chinese to have issued a BOLO for their rogue captain. Going to need to keep reapplying it though, Chinese will keep noticing the fugitive doesn't exist."
"Already set that up," said Hugh, "just hope the Chinese have no fingers in that particular pie."
"Chinese probably have their own diamond mines," said Tiffany, "besides, West Side Boys, not going to be that useful to them except for their ability to use up UN attention. Any weapons the Chinese supply would probably come through a third party."
"What if it's China that the metal storms are coming from?" asked Hugh.
"Then we'll make them stop," said Tiffany, "by any means necessary."
"Look at that glass," said Jodie, "no way this was natural."
"Heat vision?" asked Flemming.
"Could be," said Jodie, "wait, what are these bubbles?" She took a spike peen hammer from the tool box on the newt suit and broke a chip off, grabbing it. She looked at it.
Flemming looked at it too. "What's so significant about the bubbles?"
"You don't get bubbles with heat vision, it behaves like a laser, there's nothing but rock underneath, and we're too deep for the rock to degas and foam, and even if it were doing that, these bubbles are too small and would have dissipated. Something else is going on here."
"What would fill this stuff with bubbles?" asked Flemming.
"Another thing is that there's a lot of flakes of silicon in there, I'll have to analyse it further, but I suspect what happened here was an electron beam was used, if that's the case, that would explain why there's less oxygen and those bubbles would be silane."
"Something Quinn could have done?" asked Flemming.
"Or anyone with similar powers," said Jodie.
"Crying stitch up again?" asked Flemming.
"It IS a stitch up," said Jodie. "Quinn from Jodie, how's it looking at your end, over?"
"From Quinn, edges of the rock are glassy, not faceted, we're thinking some kind of laser or heat vision."
"Okay, I'm moving west to see if I can identify the trigger system, over."
"I'd look for anchor points, I suspect the explosives were gas shrouded from the seismic readings, so close to magma, I wouldn't be sticking charges in the rock," said Quinn.
'Jodie from Brittany, there hasn't been a massive amount of activity in the area that NORAD and the navy could identify, these guys either used no air or watercraft, or used them for very little of the attack, over.'
'Brittany from Jodie, Have that. Over.' Jodie then addressed Flemming again, "Flemming, just heard from Brittany, no apparent signs of massive air or maritime activity around here, it's looking increasingly like it was done by metahumans."
"And if it wasn't you?" asked Flemming.
"Someone we pissed off or unknowingly obstructed," said Jodie.
"Jodie, Quinn, I don't think then General Bakerson was that happy when we told him where to stick his enlistment forms."
"Quinn, Jodie, I'd concur, he's slick, but I'm not convinced he'd have waited this long if he really wanted to do this, he'd also get fired if he got caught. Correction, fired AT."
"Well, we could suggest an investigation and see if he appears in any obituaries," replied Quinn.
"Yeah, but I think we need to consider additional suspects," said Jodie.
"Like who?" asked Quinn.
"Good question," said Jodie.
"I wish some of the missing individuals remained missing," said Daria as she and Jane watched the city coroner supervise each relative's visit to the cadaver suspected of being their relative for a visual ID in the mortuary tent they had set up using the refrigeration kit from some frozen goods HGVs.
"We stay we look morbid, we go we look callous," said Jane.
"Screwed either way," said Daria, "let's see how the quake investigation's going."
"Good thing we're not going that deep," said Irma as she inspected the weld, chipping off slag, "let's see, we have undercut, spattering, slag inclusions, I bet half the seam isn't even fused with the parent plates."
"That's why we're using an FOS of three, this'll be just like the T84, fuck ugly, but effective," said Tiffany.
"How we moving this? Anyone sees this thing come out a US base or a US aircraft, or any aircraft, it'll take weeks to get in field if we have to drive it there," said Hugh.
"Air drop," said Tiffany.
"You what?" asked every one of Tiffany's subordinates.
"An air drop is where you stick a parachute onto the vehicle and drop it out of an aircraft, we can't appear to be too low on anyone's radar, so we're going to drop it from cruising altitude, forty angels."
Tiffany's subordinates looked ashen.
The admiral calmly listened as Tiffany's team talked over each other about how insane Tiffany was.
Two And A Half Years Ago Again.
Tiffany finished inventorying their MSCIWS (Metal Storm Close In Weapon System, the replacement for the CIWS Phalanx this ship had been fitted with) magazines.
The magazines were rifled taper fit linings, they slide into the front and the friction on the taper holds them in. Recoil pushes back, so no need for any further retention, to replace them, you hammer a drift into the back of the magazine and that knocks the empty loose.
And they hadn't fired off any of these things IN HER ENTIRE DEPLOYMENT!!!
"Petty Officer Blum Deckler."
Tiffany snapped to attention facing Captain Seeley Brennan.
"What are you doing?"
"Inventorying metal storm magazines sir," said Tiffany.
"We haven't used any of the MSCIWS guns for years, and there's no market for them if anyone were to try to steal them," said Seeley.
"Ask Petty Officer Gravel sir."
"I did, he says he keeps finding your subordinates unsupervised."
"He keeps taking them off me sir," said Tiffany now going from bored and frustrated to anxious and paranoid, "what the hell is going on? Just about every order I'm given is something redundant and menial, and I'm always ordered to do it alone, but I got to do it because an order's an order."
"Except it wasn't an order, it was you screwing around."
"Is this a prank or a stitch up sir?"
"It's important I know this, because if this is a prank, career laugh and move on, if this is a stitch up ... ... I guess I need to talk to our JAG."
Seeley sighed and said "My office, right now."
"Having heard all the corroborating testimony against you, I can't in good conscience let this behaviour slide," said Seeley.
All the people that had been assigned to work under Tiffany had said the same thing. They were colluding with Petty Officer Gravel to land Tiffany in the faeces. Tiffany had stood throughout the entire captain's mast taking it all in. This was absurd. Fashion Club member somehow getting so unpopular that everyone colludes to frame her for dereliction of duty, she didn't think she had done anything bad enough to anyone, as far as she could tell, she had done everything she was supposed to have done, she hadn't been brilliant, but she couldn't have been so awful ...
"Petty Officer Blum Deckler do you have anything to say in mitigation?" asked Seeley.
"I'd like to caution everyone here against allowing gravel to get away with this, he won't stop with me, he'll expand his activities-" started Tiffany.
"That's a 'nothing to say sir' then," said Seeley, "Tiffany Blum Deckler, you are reduced in rank to E1, seaman recruit, you'll spend the next two weeks in the brig, you will wear a Mk 40 compliance band while you are in the brig, I suggest you take this time to think very hard about the effort your fellow servicemen have expended dragging your lazy ass around all this time! Chief of the boat, get that ... thing out of my sight!"
Two And A Half Years Later Again.
Tiffany sat at the helm of the submersible amphib.
Her team had walked out on her.
Was it happening again?
She knew why she wasn't that popular, she wasn't much of a conversationalist on just about any subject. The only reason she had ever been popular had been high school politics, she had wormed her way into the Fashion Club.
Then she had become a Legionnaire. That got her some respect at the AXE.
Didn't last long when they got to know her in person. ... Or lack of person. ... Between her mother's meddling and her lack of engagement with her schoolmates, her brain had been turning into instant soup, it had been really difficult reversing this.
She heard the hatch open.
"There you are."
Tiffany didn't have the headroom to stand at attention, so she simply acknowledged "Boss." She eventually said "I'm prepared to do this alone if no one's willing to accompany me on this mission. I may need to revise my plan, maybe bring in willing people TAD from-"
"I explained to them that the air drop would consist of the vehicle on one parachute and everyone else on personal parachutes," said the Admiral.
"I didn't get that far before they all ran out on me."
"My conversation with Wanda regarding your assignment to her was enlightening, and it tells me you are perfectly capable of running this operation and of leading people as a combat unit."
"As long as they aren't US servicemen," said Tiffany, "starting to wonder if I should have applied to the Green Berets."
"But that would require teaching diplomas, wide ranging cultural education, and you probably being less of a hunter," said the Admiral, he then added "Besides, they're army, they're bound to be shit."
"Yeah, there's that," said Tiffany, "Vie la merde. ... My team back on board?"
"They are. ... Carry on."
Daria, Jane, Brittany, Stacy, Mack, Charles and Julia boarded the Gridrunner as it took off from where it had been floating on the Red Sea.
"So we're just finished examining the metajammer, when we encounter a news crew," said Tom.
"Which network?" asked Jane.
"CBN," said Tom.
"Same people we had at the medical tent," said Daria.
"You didn't say anything to them did you?" asked Jane.
"We couldn't, said "active investigation" and left, but the fact we were found at that location means if whoever set it up was watching, they're probably busy covering their tracks," said Stacy.
"What about you?" asked Jane looking at Daria.
"I didn't, thing about CBN is they have the uncanny ability to make 'Hello' sound evil," said Daria.
"EXACTLY!" said Jane.
"Okay," said Daria, "bear in mind they have been on us for a while, if they haven't caused the senate to ban mutants from existing by now, I doubt they'll ever."
"DOESN'T MATTER," said Jane, "WE HAVE A MISSION TO LEAD THE WORLD INTO A BRIGHTER FUTURE, WE CAN'T GET COMPLACENT ABOUT OUR IMAGE!"
"IT HAPPENNED, IT WON'T UN-HAPPEN, OKAY? AND what the hell's going on here? You're supposed to be the relaxed optimist and I'm supposed to be the hyperstrung pessimist."
"Well ... I dunno, I guess it just happened at some point," said Jane.
"What point was that?" asked Daria.
"I dunno, something woke me up to the fact that we need to watch ourselves or we'll end up losing the plot and get sent to The Well for the next forever."
"Huh. Something woke me up to the fact we need to be willing to take risks in order to do more good," said Daria.
After a pause, Daria eventually said "Anyway, the earthquake."
"Right," said Jane. They both walked into the cockpit with Brittany, with the four cockpit seats occupied by Jodie, Quinn, Tom and Agent Flemming, it was a bit crowded.
"Find anything?" asked Daria.
"We found the remains of the assembly that held the gas bubble around the cutting charges," said Quinn, "that did two things, it cleared the water out of the way of the copper jet to the rock, and it distorted the shock from the explosion," she held up a chunk of rock with an anchor bolt drilled into it saying "we might be able to get tool marks off of this, if we can find the tools what did this, we could prosecute someone, maybe get a few useful leads in exchange for a shorter sentence."
"You know, as ham fisted as these guys were, they've probably gotten rid of the tools, maybe even set up a fall guy," said Daria, "I think the trace Stacy collected will be more useful."
"I'm less sure about that," said Stacy, "I picked up Trent's scent. I can't imagine why he'd be involved, but it was his or very similar to his."
"Scents are generally different as DNA," said Flemming.
"Animals use scents as a significant part of their mating habits," said Jodie, "if they smell a sibling, they wave off, since it's been a method for maintaining genetic health for most the time sex has been used for reproduction, it seems unlikely that humans would be that identical to a feral's nose."
"Yeah, that's real ham fisted," said Jane.
"Raises another question," said Daria, "what would a prospective stitch up artist need to do to obtain our genetic material?"
"Book way more flights than the man on the street can typically afford, following us around to every public event," said Jodie, "I'll go through a list of names, but the opportunities would be so thin they risk exposure as a stalker as they go about it."
"Cloning's also an expensive ask," said Daria.
"That in itself should narrow the field," said Quinn.
"Who would benefit from us being convicted of crimes against humanity?" asked Daria.
"Names at the top would be Lexcorp, the drug cartels, the Mafia, MS13, Boliver Trask, the religious nut jobs," said Jodie, "come to think of it, how did CBN reporters get on the scene so quick?"
"Weren't sensing much off of them," said Daria, "certainly not what motivated them to be there, they could have been Esper trained, but they might have been tipped off to something they thought was happening in Yanbu, in fact the latter option's easier and more deniable."
"I'll also check their phone records," said Jodie, "the terrorism angle means I can even get their recordings from the NSA without having to hack."
"Find out where their money's been moving too," said Daria, "if someone's been selling any of these individuals large amounts of $6000 office chairs or $8000 VDUs. ... "
They were finally ready to deploy.
They drove the submarine onto the C17 and secured it to the palette.
Everything was finally ready.
The aircraft took off.
The team sat in silence next to the submarine, heating some Chinese take out they managed to procure just prior to departure on some camping stoves.
None of them seemed to be saying anything. Tiffany eventually asked "I gotta know this, so I'm asking: How is it you guys thought I was going to have everyone inside the submarine during the descent?"
They all looked between themselves awkwardly.
"You just have a way with words," said Harry.
"Yeah, a god-awful way with words," said Tiffany, "is it one of those things where I'd have to be you to understand exactly what it was I said that led you to this impression?"
After everyone looked like they were going to try to explain, they eventually all nodded and said "Yes ... yes it is."
"Great," commented Tiffany. "Where ever I am, I'm out of place."
"If it helps, the admiral found us embarrassing, us being SEALs, showing fear is one of those things that just isn't done," said Harry.
"What'll help is finally being able to slot someone," said Tiffany, "nice thing about being a SEAL, kicking ass is comfort food."
"You're a Buffy fan?" asked Irma.
"Buffy The Vampire Slayer?" asked Tiffany.
"No, never really got into it, why?" asked Tiffany.
"That's Buffy's catch phrase, 'Great thing about being a Slayer, kicking ass is comfort food.'"
"There I go again," said Tiffany.
As they landed, Daria's phone rang.
Daria answered it after noting the ID was LT Reception (Legion Tower Reception). "Hello?"
"Daria, we have a delivery for yourself, Jane and Mack, are Jane and Mack with you?"
"Yes, we're just getting back now."
"Okay, it's big, weighs a couple of tons, no explosives or poisons present, packaging appears rigged to fall open at the pull of a static line, so get up here, pull the string, and see what it is."
"Okay, thanks," said Daria.
The wooden crate was 2m wide, 4m long and 3m high.
Daria grabbed the string as the other Legionnaires watched, and positioned herself where the walls of the packaging wouldn't go.
She pulled the string.
Jane looked bemused. "A bronze bull. ... Brittany, did we sign a deal with Red Bull?"
"Ummmmm, I don't think so," said Brittany.
"Could be a customer of the year award for Julia," said Tom.
"Yawn," said Julia, well pissed off about the constant stream of Red Bull jokes based on it's tag line.
Daria used her flight ring to lift herself up and confirmed the location of a door on it's back, there was a hasp with a padlock and a key. She had noticed some oxidation on it's belly.
She landed. "This probably came from a friend of Boliver Trask, an attempt to set me off."
"How does that work?" asked Jane.
"Tom, is there a tube leading from the bull's mouth to a mouthpiece inside the abdominal cavity?" asked Daria.
"Yeah, why?" asked Tom.
"That's so the person locked inside sounds like a bull when they cry out in pain from being roasted alive," said Daria, she then walked over to the reception desk saying "I'm going to find out who sent it, and stick it up their ass sideways."
"Okay, we'll investigate that little frame up thing we just returned home from," said Jane.
The drop had gone as planned. They had rigged the parachute with a rocket so that as soon as the vehicle hit the water, the parachute would be lifted clear of the vehicle so that the SEALs could approach it without the hazard of getting tangled up.
They boarded through the top hatch and took their stations.
"Sonar, hear anything?"
The sonar operator checked the sonar, set on passive and said "nothing emitting, of course this gear is slightly rubbish, so most naval subs won't show on this."
"Okay, helm, start engine."
The helmsman started the engines as instructed, "Engine start, power nominal."
The engine was practically noiseless.
"Sonar, how loud are we?"
"Louder than I'd like, but we can be within about five miles of our naval assets before they notice us."
"Sweet. Helm, snorkel depth and get us to Sierra Leone, there's a spook in Bendu that'll set us up."
"Aye aye captain, heading four three degrees, two zero knots," said the helmsman as he engaged the propeller.
As they accelerated to twenty knots, Tiffany asked "sonar, how's our volume?"
"Our assets can now hear us from twenty miles Captain."
"Okay, carry on."
Daria checked the name again entered the college campus. Apparently this is where the Bull had been sent from.
She knew that Boliver would probably have had his agent tell whoever was making the thing something other than the truth. "Oh we just want you to make this thing so Daria will go insane and kill people, how does that sound?"
She was not going to talk to them directly, she was instead going to talk to the administration about who was in the class and look for connections with Boliver Trask.
They might have accounted for the possibility that Daria retained control of herself and launch an investigation. In that case Daria might have a harder time finding where these individuals are without actually talking to people (and thus announcing her presence) and asking if they've seen this guy.
Trask had been out on license for a couple of years before the CIA "didn't" hire him to torture metahumans, he'd probably been using that time to try to restart his sentinel program.
SHIELD had been watching him, but there was a long time before he got arrested the first time where he might have set up a contingency in case he got arrested so his work could carry on.
More important was his communications since his return to prison, because it was unlikely he had anticipated the interruption to his attempts to de-hinge Daria, so any attempt to trigger a flashback would have happened after his return to prison. Of course he could have had a telepath meet him, but what telepath would work for him on purpose? Mind, a Jewish doctor was Hitler's personal physician, Islamic supremacists and Soviets allied themselves with Hitler too, but those alliances were with the implicit understanding that when they were done subjugating the free world, there would be a multiway brawl between them all, but the Jewish doctor working for Hitler without poisoning the asshole? That's a hard one to work out.
One obvious angle might have been Boliver's attorney, but even though attorney-client privilege was overlooked for terrorism related cases, no apparent signs had come from him having communicated this information to his brief.
His interactions with other prisoners had been watched, and as a matter of course with all prisoners, envelopes were steamed open for hidden messages both in the letter themselves and on the back of the stamp.
Then there had been the more recent interviews the 700 club had done with Trask, but it was likely to be a bit hit and miss as to whether or not any given journalist would willingly involve themselves in a terrorist conspiracy. Some obviously would, but it would be a big ask
What else could have happened?
"Okay, prior to the sentinel program coming to light, Boliver was in regular contact with Lex Luther for years, it's possible the two of them resumed when Trask was paroled," said Jane.
"None of these other leads look viable," said Jodie. "he's been involved with genetics for a while, we found him trying to sell meta cloning gear to Hamas about ten months or so back, the problem we have is that he could have done this mostly in house, this equipment could be broken into pieces small enough to be moved in transit vans, and that's the biggest pieces, most the pieces can fit in the trunk of most cars."
"Do we have probable cause for Daria to look in their heads?" asked Jane.
"Probably not," said Jodie, "I've been looking at their movements though. Lexcorp seem to have been sending a lot of kit to this university, and donating a lot to it, this seems a little too obvious, but I think this is our best lead."
Jane looked at the information Jodie put up on the main screen. "Regent University? Isn't that where that bull came from?"
"It's where a lot of bull comes from," said Jodie, "CBN's based out of Virginia Beach."
Brittany pulled her phone and speed dialled Daria.
Daria entered the physics lab of the university, seeing the arrangement of 47u racks, two of which seemed to be arranged facing away from each other, shiny black bars pointed at each other.
One of the names involved with the brazen bull project was majoring in physics, the end of year project was apparently to send things back through time.
This guy had also bought in a lot of equipment well above his means, the kind of thing that would get a cop asking questions, but apparently not university staff as end of year projects tend to be funded by any means necessary.
Daria's phone vibrated.
She answered it whispering "Boss?"
"We think the university you're visiting has something to do with the frame up," said Brittany.
"That's interesting, that gives time travel a little context," said Daria.
"How so?" asked Brittany.
Daria then felt the muzzle of an 11.5mm gun poking into the back of her head, she then heard someone say "stick 'em up, freak."
"What was that?" asked Brittany.
"I'm sorry, I'll have to call you back, some prick's got a gun to my head," Daria said before hanging up. She then raised her hands as instructed.
It was at this point that she spun, deflecting his weapon and grabbing it before it occurred to the guy to fire, head butting him right on the nose and then punching him in the sternum with an open palm before stepping back and pointing the gun at him. She then asked "this your kit, or you just the apprentice?"
He looked up at her saying "You're not going to use that, you have that constitution, remember?"
"You mean the one where I can only use deadly force if given no other option for survival?" asked Daria.
"Well, we're a little more flexible about our killing," said the man.
Daria noticed a faint signature behind her and turned around just as this muscle bound slap head grabbed her wrists and swung her around into a collision with a desk with an active computer console on it. Her elbow struck some keys including the enter key.
She rolled over the desk, her arms twisting in the man's vice like grip, and there was something about him that seemed off.
Her aim was not going to get anywhere near him, so she fired into the wall in the hopes of distracting him, but that had no effect, so she instead ran up his front and stamped at his jaw. He reflexively released her, she somersaulted and almost got her gun level before he kicked the gun out of her hand. She stepped back dodging his blows, but also noting his lack of technique, he was a piss poor fighter on fast forward.
"NOW JANE!" shouted Daria.
The punch to his temple had little effect on his performance and Daria settled in for a long fight, not noticing that the two 47u electronic equipment racks with the bars facing each other now had some sort of portal between them.
Daria approached the door to her apartment she had just moved in to.
Who would be discharging a firearm on this floor?
She opened the door and found the central space of the floor had disappeared and she was looking into what appeared to be some kind of electronics workshop.
She advanced into it and saw one man on the floor while another was fighting-
... ... What the hell was another her doing existing?
The man fighting the other her kicked the other her in her direction, the collision sent the other her through the door and Daria was thrown back against a wall to the side of the equipment rack to the left of the door, Daria noticed how there was nothing around the rack to indicate the presence of her apartment.
She then noticed the man her other self had been fighting raise a gun, and she ran around the equipment rack hoping whatever was inside would be substantial enough to deflect the bullet.
He discharged twelve rounds into the rack and there was a clicking noise as he tried to fire the gun. Daria couldn't get a read on him. She was starting to get pissed off at how everyone seemed to be psi resistant all the time.
She emerged from behind the rack and approached him as he was accepting a charged clip from the other guy, who said "LOOK OUT!"
He swung around trying to get Daria across the face, she deflected his swing and got a radius strike in on his neck.
This had no effect and he kneed her in the side, flooring her.
She rolled over and was on her feet as he dumped the empty clip. Daria kicked the charged clip out of his hand and he advanced on her.
Daria shuffled back, trying to figure out how she was going to defeat this guy, was his nervous system turned off or what?
He then froze, he was trying to hide it, but suddenly Daria could sense the fear he felt as pain flooded across his chest, up his neck, into his arms.
Daria noticed a wall phone and decided now might be a good time to call for help. She used prefix hash to get an outside line and dialled nine one one. She kept glancing at the phone, keeping her attention mainly on the guy with the dodgy heart.
"WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH YOU? HIT HER!" said the other guy.
The bald muscle man stepped forward to comply, only to collapse to his knees.
"Need cops and medics at my location, don't know where I am so I'll need you to trace this line, someone was trying to kill me, but he suffered a cardiac arrest, his accomplice is on the ground, I don't think he's currently armed or he'd have joined the fight."
"Up stick 'em: This is a screw up. Well, at least I know when I am. Now how do I get back?" asked Daria, having walked back and forth through the door at least ten times.
The Legionnaires stepped through the portal onto the roof of the physics building at the university where Daria had called from.
The first thing they did upon arrival was vomit.
"Jodie, fix that thing will you?" said Brittany.
"Sorry," said Jodie as she spat out as much of the regurgitated matter as her teeth could scrape off her tongue.
Jane had turned her phone off so they could attack with surprise instead of having a ringtone kick things off early.
Jane opened the roof access and they entered, Tom looked around through all the walls and located Daria and two men, one apparently crumpled in a heap.
They heard sirens as they made their way over.
They entered and stopped cold.
"What the hell are you all wearing?" asked Daria, dressed in the retired uniform.
"What the hell are you wearing?" asked Jane "And when did your tits shrink?"
"Duh, time travel," said Jodie.
"Right," said Jane, "is that even possible?"
"Well, those people that tried to kill us in our sleep a few months back, which you were there for, where Penny tried to re-shape your face-" said Daria.
"Okay, yeah, guess I didn't really want to remember that," said Jane.
"Everyone, we need to get this Daria back in time with minimum conversation," said Jodie.
"Why?" asked Brittany.
"Because careless talk around time travellers costs timeline integrity," said Daria.
"Huh?" asked Brittany.
"It's a perfectly good way to get stuck in a causality loop my friend," said Daria.
"L- ... Never mind, just get me back to when I came."
"Isn't that meant to be 'Whence'?" asked Brittany.
The medics arrived and asked "All right, what we got?"
Tom looked at the barely conscious bad guy with his shape vision and said "Myocardial infarction, left atrium's blown."
"I got the impression from his technique the guy was on a stimulant, coke or meth possibly," said Daria.
"He shot the time machine?" asked Jodie.
"Yeah, when I hid behind it," said Daria.
"YOU HID BEHIND A VITAL PEICE OF EQUIPMENT???" asked Jane.
Daria was taken aback and said "I had no idea it WAS a vital piece of equipment at the time, all I knew was hiding behind it might keep me ALIVE! And how'd you get so tens- ... Actually, scratch that, got a time line to protect, I'm not getting any information out of either of their heads, so you'll need to check their information storage devices."
"On it," said Jodie as she put on a pair of gloves and started working on their computer.
"I'm from [Insert date here]"
"Oh, that's just before-" said Brittany.
"Zip it," said Jodie as she continued through the computer data stores.
"What?" asked Brittany.
"I said zip it," said Jodie, "it means shut up."
Brittany looked irritated as she said "I'm the elected leader of the Legion in case you forgot."
"Yes, and with great power comes great responsibility, such as the responsibility not to screw up the time line," said Jodie, she then said "I think I'm starting to get an idea on what we need to do here, but this is going to take a while. Jane, given how anal you've been recently, can you chaperone our temporarily displaced founding Legionnaire?"
"Not like I ever stopped," said Jane as she led the past Daria out.
"Hey, shouldn't the DOD have already noticed this stuff if it was projecting time portals?" asked Sandi.
"They were busy with the incidents in south America," said Jodie.
"Oh yeah," said Sandi.
Daria checked the computer clock again.
She had to re-think the message again.
Actually, she didn't, just streamline it and give her the time a few minutes from now. But she did have a lot of thinking to do about her past life. This was before a whole bunch of cock-ups that she really didn't like thinking about. ... She had to tell Jane to especially not tell her about Black Majesty, Daria knew she had survived it, but not going through it might pose a greater risk than keeping that as before.
One thing that did occur to her was that she might have inadvertently interrupted the process that would lead her to investigate Dynell, so she'd need to leave a note for herself about that.
Hopefully she'll trust the content of the note was to repair the timeline not to profit from a new one.
"You're so paranoid you probably suspect yourselves of being insurgents."
That's what she had told Flemming.
Daria retyped the message again.
Tiffany stood on the submarine's conning hatch.
She felt amused she could do this, she remembered Depp's character in Pirates Of The Caribbean riding in the crow's nest of a ship so far sunk that the crow's nest was about half a metre over sea level. The submarine passed the end of the jetty and Tiffany stepped off.
She walked into the small town, eventually identifying the bar where the spook was based.
She entered it, noting a bar tender, two assistants, and occupying a couple of tables off to the left about sixteen machete wielding bar flies.
The bar flies, noticing she was an attractive female homo-sapian of Asian descent, started hollering at her. She ignored them and headed straight to the bar.
"I'm looking for a Clayton Webb," said Tiffany. The fact she didn't know the reference had been a source of amusement to her teams, who said they had to get her on some JAG DVDs stat.
"Yeah, that's me," said the bar tender.
"Okay, first and foremost I'm conducting a feasibility study on diamond smuggling, I was told you could point me at some cheap diamond dealers."
"I can do that."
"I'm also looking to beef up on firepower, couldn't steal much when I deserted, so my boat's feeling a little inadequate."
"Should be able to help you there too, thing about this is I need to pass your name on up the chain of command and wait for approval before I can tell you where these places are."
"As long as you don't sell me out to the people's republic, I'm Ciu Fen Daiyu."
"Oooh, a fugitive?" asked Clayton.
"Problem?" asked Tiffany.
"Depends, are you bringing the Chinese military down on us?" asked Clayton.
"No. Do we need to discuss what'll happen if you bring the Chinese military down on me?" asked Tiffany.
Clayton looked at her seriously, and the Barflies suddenly seemed to get serious. "One thing about threats is you need to be credible. ... What's your credit rating like?"
Tiffany looked around for a few seconds and said "If you can view my BOLO without being traced by PN cyber unit, you'll see why you don't screw with me. I see any Chinese military around here, I'll know who to disfigure, and believe me: You will not see it coming, and you will be absolutely unable to retaliate."
The bar flies got up and slowly walked up behind her.
"Okay, well, come back in three days, I'll have an answer for you."
"Before she leaves, it might be prudent for us to show her our credit rating," said one of them as he casually ran his machete down her arm.
Tiffany calmly looked at him and then looked back at Clayton, before she shrugged and turned away from the first guy, hitting him with the opposite elbow and another with a palm strike across the jaw.
She head butted one that had been directly behind her, last two she hit with palm strikes across their jaws.
The remaining eleven barflies looked somewhat shocked.
One then drew a handgun.
The others followed suit as she want for the first one, and she was beside him as he was level, she spun him around and swung him into the rest, they were in a crescent.
She then shoved the other half the other way and got behind them knocking out two more, she borrowed one gun, an 11.5mm gold engraved M1911 with extended clip, using one as a shield whole she shot the remaining two on the side she was on through their shoulders, the other half of the crescent started shooting at her, not caring one of their friends was between them and her. She also opted to go partially intangible at this point, there was so little of her visible that misses were highly plausible, and the X-ray in front of her was absorbing enough energy that a stab vest could do the rest. They expended their ammunition.
If it was obvious she was intangible, they would be in serious trouble, for one thing it would be mentioned on her alias's BOLO, and that would need to be altered before anyone of consequence saw it, and for another, she wanted to keep it a surprise so they were less likely to decide they need a metajammer.
Those things were getting infuriatingly ubiquitous these days.
Tiffany dropped her shield and dropped the clip to inspect it. She had it back in before it even occurred to any of them that they needed to reload. "Nine rounds remaining, eight x-rays, I trust that's simple enough that even your meth addled brains can understand. If you need help deciding,-" she pulled her own gun, a 9mm QSZ92, and said "Here's another 15 for your consideration. That was surprise number one. I have more if you're all feeling that masochistic."
She then left.
Unknown to anyone inside the bar, the submarine had come ashore and had driven around the back.
She entered through the rear doors and they drove off.
Jane sat there looking at the younger Daria sat in front of her.
That uniform and that look took her back.
This was the young, arrogant, involvement-phobic Daria, totally different to the current, arrogant, secretive, batman/Gibbs scary- What the hell had changed here? She knew the encounter with Black Majesty had screwed her up emotionally, she remembered having to scold her like a troublesome kid after she was about to storm off AGAIN! ...
In retrospect that might not have been the best approach, but then they visited the USAES and they had melded, and Daria seemed to settle down.
And then they returned and she was out and out hostile towards Julia.
And she was the outsider again.
Something inside Daria meant she didn't play well with others, full stop.
She could also remember the meld revealing how embarrassed she had been at her behaviour on the Outlast exercise, and how being looked upon by everyone as a fidgety stroppy kid instead of a valued leader was starting to drive her nuts.
She had theoretically gained Jane's perspective too, but even Jane thought Daria was letting everyone down, that must have come across too.
The last few operations, Daria seemed to have improved somewhat, both in terms of morale and esteem, but she still seemed like the outsider in a number of ways, part of it had been how they were doing something serious, fighting crime, saving the world, everything else, and she felt like she was being left behind AGAIN! That was one clear impression Daria had given in each and every meld.
The last meld had been more than a year ago.
It was hard to figure out what was going on here, Jane seemed to get on okay with the rest of the Legion and she had been as much an outcast as Daria, so what was it that stopped Daria from getting on with everyone else?
Jane also thought about how this had affected their operations.
Come to think of it, they worked together just fine, their personal lives didn't affect operations in the least.
Jane's phone rang.
Noting the caller ID was Dawn Hall, She answered it, "Hello?"
"Jane, what the hell is going on with you people?"
"700 club?" asked Jane.
"You saw the article I'm seeing?"
"Nope, but CBN were about the only n- ... Nnnnnnn- ... ... ... Media broadcast organisation in the area as far as we can tell, so get it over with, what dastardly anti Christian thing did we do this time?"
"They have you harassing cops going about their duties."
"You mean those two mosque cops who were harassing doctors going about their duties?" asked Jane. "What else?"
"You kept the injured from the doctors," said Dawn.
"Not the critical ones," said Jane, "It's basic triage, those that can wait will wait until there are no more critical cases, any real news organisations ask about any of this, tell them to ask the doctors what happened."
"They've disappeared, Saudis say they didn't do it, and CBN are speculating on why you would want to abduct them."
"Of course they are. The two Mutaween Julia dropped in the drink no doubt had them all rounded up as dissidents or heretics or something," said Jane, slumping in her chair. This was getting to be a real headache. "We're in the middle of an operation at the moment, I'll have to get back to you on this, one thing I will tell you, the CBN are ... " Jane looked at Daria, and eventually said "call Jodie, I'm sat next to a time traveller who must be returned to the past, so watch out for grandfather paradoxes."
'Jane, Daria, spike, three one nine ... bandit, bandit, inbound, gorilla.'
"Have that," said Jane, as she ended the call and used her flight ring to say 'all call signs from Jane, we have multiple X-rays coming at us from a north westerly direction.'
"Crap," said Daria. 'They're us,' she thoughtcast.
"Yeah, and we're the fan it's about to hit," said Jane, 'All from Jane, X-rays are our evil clones, make ready for war.'
Daria sat there, having added the appointment to Jane's calendar eight minutes ago.
"It's a screwing time machine, what's the screwing hold up?" Daria tersely said to herself.
Sooner or later someone was going to make contact with her, and she would have to remember absolutely every minute thing that happened that day and a reasonable amount of the days leading up in order to maintain this time line.
Even so, her other self should know what time she was from to within half an hour.
She couldn't emphasise enough how much she hated this time in her life. It wasn't just that she seemed to be losing just about every contact she had with enemy forces, it was the way she handled it that had pissed her off.
Her, the cynical one, not thinking the flags on Outlast could be where Armalin, a professional mind-fucker assigned to teach them the art of war, said they weren't.
Her, the responsible one, screwing with someone's mind just to see if she really was into Charles.
Her, the defiant one, obeying Armalin instead of taking the initiative like Quinn did, she could have figured out on her way in whether or not she could work this one, and turned back if it seemed like it would have been too intense.
Her, the argumentative one, not having a comeback to Quinn's comment on how her pessimism was a greater threat than the kind of optimism that allowed the disaster to occur in the first place.
Her, the smart one, ridiculing the possibility of a superhero team because "superpowers are impossible," after she'd been seeing people develop superpowers in front of her screwing EYES!!!
No wonder Jane lost all trust in her.
Maybe it really was time to meld with her again.
Probably mean trying to convince Jane that all those Bowman violations are worth ignoring for the greater good.
Her, the Dexter Morgan of the Legion.
Well, not exactly, but the way she had messed with the minds of those Gestapo types to get them to implode in on themselves, not exactly a stretch given that they tend to be without empathy, each and every one of them knew their co-workers SO would do that to each other's relatives and loved ones, so the gentle nudges Daria made that caused their commanders to imply suspicion against guards relatives and making the guards see family members in place of the prisoners for brief spells meant they had no reason to believe they were being manipulated, they knew what they were doing was wrong, and eventually that prompts some of them to act.
So as far as anyone knew (CIA included), this was just a natural progression that seemed strangely frequent these days.
Well, not these days because she was five years in the past, but if Jane were to get in there, what would she find.
The fact the CIA hadn't either told SHIELD on her or assassinated her indicated that all this evidence Trask had found had been deleted because it hadn't suited his interests.
Well, she didn't have to give Jane everything, just what Jane had asked for, she had that much control now, and the stuff Jane had asked for was pretty gross, maybe that'll stop her from asking too many questions.
Something to think about.
Tiffany and three of her seamen approached the barn.
There were a mixture of farm animals here, but really they were there to maintain the disguise, and not very well considering the condition of the animals and the grounds. This is your farm on drugs.
The fences were poorly maintained, the pathways were just trails of mud, the feeding troughs hadn't been cleaned in years, the water troughs ... The animals would probably rather drink each other's urine.
They continued to the barn.
There was a man standing outside. He greeted her with a handshake saying "I'm Nigel Dinozzo, supplier of the finest weapons on the continent, oh, and Sierra Leone."
This guy wasn't on meth. Makes sense. But then it makes sense for the West Side Boys to not be on meth as well. "Good to hear, let's see what you got."
The room was divided by stacks of shipping crates into compartmentalised show rooms.
The first one had handguns and assault rifles.
Tiffany walked past those saying "may need more small arms ammo, but ... " The next room had sniping rifles including a Steyr IWS 2000, some M99s, Armalite AR50s, Type 88s, Draganovs ...
She looked at the IWS and said "That might interest me if you can guarantee a decent amount of ammunition." After a brief pause she moved on.
Next up was anti armour rockets and missiles.
RPG 18s, 9M113 Kornets, HJ8s, also some FIM92 Stingers, 9K352 Strela 2s, Javalins (90% discount just to try to move them. No one wanted them. They were that bad).
"I managed to embezzle a couple of HJ8 launchers, I might need more rounds at a later date," said Tiffany, "I could probably do with some gatling guns too."
"I think we can do better then that," said Nigel as he led the way to the next room.
The next room was larger with more sophisticated displays, the weapons were basically blocks with holes in them fitted on actuators to a frame in top of which another block sat, this block apparently containing a display.
It was apparent that the user manipulates the frame, and the weapon can move the gun around to aim at a designated target without the user needing to have any real marksmanship.
"Metal storm?" she asked.
"Kinda. These are knock-offs."
"Not a big fan of knock off weapons, huh? Well," he walked over to a figure that was stood amongst the stacks of crates. Tiffany hadn't paid too close attention to it, but it looked like a diclonius.
Now she was paying attention to it, she realised it apparently had rows of stitches that were barely visible, and GSWs that seemed to have been-
Tiffany frowned as she approached the statue.
Except it wasn't a statue.
"You know what that is?" asked Nigel.
She touched it with the back of her hand, getting a feel of the figure's face.
"It's a diclonious, it deflects bullets with it's telekinetic ability, only these metal storm knock-offs spat them out too fast for her. And with metal storm, you have a system that is so simple mechanically and electronically not much more complex than a scientific calculator."
Flesh, skull, more detail than this guy was likely to fund for a display.
He shot a diclonius and stuffed her as a display stand.
"It's like that smart price line Asda do with things like pieces of fruit or onions, they can't possibly fuck it up."
As Tiffany thought her murderous thoughts, she also thought through the nest step ...
About 72 hours after the point two and a half years ago we were at last time
'Gotta get a job, get a real good job, gotta get an apprenticeship son, that's what me old man told me, he said you'll thank me when you're done.
'The lying lazy old dole dodger, he never had a job in his life, and he's never been a fucking apprentice, he don't know what it's like.-'
The song was running through Tiffany's head as she lay on the bed staring at the ceiling.
She had heard it when she was at the Axe, a cadet seated her, she looked up the words and eventually found out the song was The Apprentice by Kevin Bloody Wilson.
'-When, they, pulled me pants down, 'round me ankles, shaved me pubic hair, greased me balls with old sump oil and chained me to a chair, hoist me up on the workshop roof and turn the fire hose on.
'He's only the apprentice, and we're only having fun. What is he? He's only the apprentice, and we're only having fun. ... Yeah.'
'Then it's off to the store with an order form for a bucket of welding sparks, and a left handed hammer and a corkscrew spanner and a sheet of broken glass, and a can of striped paint to paint the sky hook to hang my push-bike on. He's only the apprentice and we're only having fun.'
'Then it's off to the office in my underpants for a dip in the typing pool, and see if they got some plastic wrap for a female fattening tool, and a cheesy muff burger smothered in sauce and a randy tart for lunch, he's only the apprentice and we're only having fun.'
'That's why they pulled my pants down, around my ankles, shaved my pubic hair, greased me balls with old sump oil and chained me to a chair, hoist me up on the workshop roof and turned the fire hose on. He's only the apprentice and we're only having fun. What is he? He's only the apprentice, and we're only having fun.'
That petty officer was a complete bastard. What the hell was wrong with him? ... Same thing wrong with anyone who humiliates people for the sole purpose of making them feel like weed on crap.
So she knew why she felt this way.
'Someone shit in me sandwich box and pissed in me thermos flask, singed me eyebrows off with an oxy torch, stuck an air hose up me arse, took the wheels of me fucking push bike, pierced me ears with a rivet gun, he's only the apprentice and we're only having fun. Yeah I'm only the apprentice, and I put up with all this shit, and I'll get through this apprenticeship if these assholes let me live, and I can hardly wait for the day until I'm a tradesman too. ... And I'll get me a fucking apprentice, heh, heh, heh, heh, heh. ... You know what I'm gonna do? ... I fucking bet you do. ... Iiiiiii'm Goooonnnnaaaaa pull his pants down, 'round his ankles, shave his pubic hair. Grease his balls with old sump oil, chain him to a chair, hoist him to the roof and turn the fire hose on, he's only the apprentice and we're only having fun.'
That song seemed so appropriate. That business must have such a monopoly in its sector, they don't need to do any work, they can spend all their time hazing apprentices.
This wasn't what had motivated that bastard to frame her up. This was apparent when he came in, telling the brig chief some crap about not being cleared to hear any of this so he should piss off for the next half hour.
He then entered and Tiffany asked him "Come to gloat?"
"Not really, I'm not quite satisfied you've understood me here," said Keith, "you somehow got into the navy and somehow got to Petty Officer three rank without earning it like the rest of us, you know what that tells me?"
"What do you mean without earning it? I worked damn hard to get my grades up," said Tiffany.
"Yeah, I bet you did, You worked your ass off. And your tits. And your birth canal."
Tiffany stood up and stalked up to him.
"Good idea, I'll be able to charge you with assaulting a superior enlisted, and you'll be dishonourably out."
Tiffany stopped, knowing he was right.
She wasn't planning to merely slug him. She was planning to kill him. That would Get her at least life in the Well.
"So what do you want? You frame me up, you then come in here calling me a whore, the whole thing sounds well childish to me."
"About as childish as treating armed service like a theme adventure."
"You heard. You're not here to serve your country, you're here as some kind of Legion publicity stunt. You barely scraped through the Axe, they must have been under such great pressure to get you through that they gave you a bunch of buys. I want you out before lives are at stake."
"You really think they'd just hand me E4 just for the sake of a publicity stunt? I EARNED THAT RANK."
"No you didn't. You want to persist in this farce, you stay at E1. Otherwise, you get out of my navy."
He then left.
She had sat there fuming for a while, and had then lay back on the bed staring at the ceiling.
This guy was without a doubt the third biggest prick she had ever encountered, second place being occupied by Lou Cypher, first place was held by Black Majesty.
Having said that, something stuck at the back of her throat like a bad taste. She hadn't had any aspirations for a naval career, it just seemed like the best fit for her.
She had picked this job because it seemed the most fun of the picks available, so she was there for thrills.
Had she given off any vibes to that effect?
How should she know?
Probably not, but then she didn't give any vibes what so ever, aside from boredom.
Having said that, this asshole was denying her any opportunity to prove herself, anything of worth she does would go unrecorded, and anything she gets framed for would move the goalposts further away.
He had to go. Even if she was in what she perceived to be the least crap job, she still wanted it to go somewhere, no way was she spending the rest of her life stuck at E1 watching everyone else advance and prosper, she'd rather swim into the ship's propeller without going intangible.
The question now was what was she going to do?
Well, what would Daria do?
Two and- Ah fuck it, PRESENT DAY HUNDRED HOURS ZULU.
Tiffany left the establishment with two of the seamen carrying a crate between them for her and another behind them looking out for X-rays.
They were going to have to keep it functional for the next time they met, to maintain credibility, she was going to have to ask for significant modifications so that they could operate it remotely from inside the submarine. At the same time, they needed to start analysing the weapon to try and figure out who made it and where.
She'd memorised the face of the stuffed diclonious, she was also going to have to identify her.
There was a certain level of cold Tiffany was incapable of, and killing someone just so she had a dead body to exploit was one of those things. There had to be a threat to the mission or innocent bystanders or she just wouldn't enjoy it. That was what ... Huh ... Just how different was she from this Nigel Dinozzo anyway?
Great, she had to figure herself out all over again.
This was supposed to be a nice relaxing illegal arms dealer hunt with a side order of however many west side boys get in the way, she didn't have the patience for this guilt crap!
Phil looked at the chat window.
"Have any diclonii disappeared near or in Sierra Leone?"
He typed "Stand by," and then went to work looking up Sierra Leone.
It didn't take long to identify every diclonious on the west coast of Africa.
There were three hundred.
Diclonii were few and far between, but that was still a bit too much.
"Appearance, gender, age?"
Eventually the chat produced an URL.
Phil clicked it.
It was an E-fit of a diclonious woman. It looked fammili- "No way!" he said.
Tiffany waited for about thirty seconds before the diclonious message board administrator sent her an URL.
She opened it and read the Wikipedia entry.
That sounded familiar.
Tiffany read on.
She had been one of the diclonii that had helped capture the nuclear terrorists.
That mutilation of a cadaver had been obscene before she knew who this was, now Tiffany could only think how sweet it would be for this guy to die slowly and painfully at her feet.
Of course she also had to think about finding the source of those damn metal storm guns. The rest of her team was dismantling it.
It had been professionally put together, boards were wave soldered, parts were cast from stainless and machined, but the barrel hadn't been cast as one, there had been evidence that channels had been left between the barrels and that had been filled with weld material.
The barrel liners had been similarly cast and machined, the rifling and 1mm from that seemed to be a different metal, maybe a cryo-shrunk insert.
They removed some of the rounds. Standard mild steel, propellant appeared to be a paler version of cordite (aluminium?), the propellant had a foil wrap that pressed up against an electrical contact in the side, that had to be how the weapon initiated the propellant.
There was a port on the back of the magazine that had enough pins to account for all the rounds of ammunition in the magazine.
The people who made this would need a number of fairly large milling machines, some kind of furnace, broaching tools to do the rifling, the barrel would have had to have been built with the wires in place, so there was a need for a large vacuum chamber for the electron beam, they'd have needed an electron beam emitter, the main points would have been the large CNC machine(s), those things need to be shipped whole or you're in for about a week of recalibrating at the other end.
If you're already in the manufacturing industry, it was possible to build your own machine using the ones you got, but the same problem would pop up, only worse.
That was something the CIA could deal with.
No fingerprints, no DNA, no industrial fallout, that went for the box as well.
They had to be getting all this stainless from somewhere.
Maybe that could help narrow things down.
Another thing they did was take along a couple of large cans of radioactive solutions, they were going to use that to contaminate the roads leading to and from the dealers, that should help them find the docks or other pick-up points from which they brought the weapons in-country.
If any of the West Side Boys suffered any symptoms of radioactive poisoning, any doctor (assuming they would even consult one) would take one look at their teeth and tell them to quit smoking meth.
Tiffany looked again at the chat window and typed her response.
"She's dead. You don't want to know the details, but it will be avenged."
Phil sat back, feeling pissed off.
The woman was a hero, and someone had gone and killed her, probably not even realising her significance, just a freak with horns.
Still, anyone capable of killing a diclonious must be using something like a PFT or an anti-armour weapon.
Maybe the Legion needs to take a look.
"We're in the middle of something at the moment," said Jodie as she continued to work on the time machine, "we'll get right on it though, an hour from now."
"Thanks," said Phil as he hung up.
Jodie then turned it on using the recorded settings.
They were facing a closed door.
Jane opened it.
Daria got up and walked through saying "FINALLY, didn't you get your calendar reminder?"
Jane asked "Huh?"
"I put a reminder into the computer so you'd be informed as soon as it happened."
"I got no reminder," said Jane.
"Apparently as well as back, this thing went sideways too," said Jodie, "Okay, let's get your other self back."
As their evil clones approached, the Legionnaires got into the air and prepared to intercept. Jane was a little pissed off that the present Daria had picked that point to retrieve her past self, because they were now short a Legionnaire.
Suddenly their evil clones stopped and landed.
They approached their evil clones slowly, and then noticed a ring of present day Darias walking towards the evil clones.
A number of them matching the number of evil clones produced syringes and antiseptic wipes, they then sedated the evil clones.
They then left the way they came.
One of them said 'Three days from now, the time machine will be functioning again, that's when I am. See you then.'
As the Darias disappeared, The Legionnaires floated there looking stunned.
Jane eventually broke the silence saying "Well that was anticlimactic."
Pat Robertson (whose birth name was actually Marion, but had long since stopped using that name in general) sat at the desk in his office when the soft, lilting voice came out of thin air.
The televangelist rose out of his chair, almost losing control of his bladder as Julia Carlyle, wings spread, a sword sheathed in boiling flame, held in her left hand, appeared from nowhere in front of his desk. "We would like to speak to you..."
"Us?" Pat asked, visibly relaxing as Brittany Taylor appeared in front of the doors to his office, allowing the rest of the Legionnaires inside. "Oh. You."
He sat back down at his desk, ignoring the smirk on Julia's face and her chuckle as she made her sword disappear into 'subspace'. "Legionnaires. What do you want?"
"Take it easy, 'Marion", Quinn said, looking around the office as she entered. "We just need to... talk to you."
"About?" he asked.
Daria noted his apparent tax fraud schemes in progress which the IRS and the Charity Commission would be anonymously informed of as they ran furiously through Pat's mind. Oddly his schemes to further exacerbate the witch panics in Africa didn't feel as much a concern to him as the tax and fraudulent registrations. She concealed any sign she knew and simply said "The man who sent those clones of us to kill you and everyone working with you."
"Us?" asked Pat Robertson, sat at his desk in his office as the Legion stood on the other side of his desk.
This news was obviously a surprise to him.
"Oh yeah, you're not into the same martyrdom crap as Hezbollah are you?" said Daria, "I hate it when I get my supremacist groups mixed up."
"You compare me to those heathens? At least they have a religion, wrong one it may be, that still puts them above you," said Pat Robertson.
"Yyyyyyeeeeeaaaaahhhhhh," said Daria, stretching the word as far as possible to illustrate how unconvinced she was by this pecking order, "so let me guess, Mr Luther came to you offering to help you get your Pentecostal wing nuts into power if you get the local uni to help him travel through time, only he didn't explain how he was going to get your PWNs into office, maybe saying 'it's best you don't know', that about the size of it?"
"Actually, he wanted to expose your evil to the American people, and ... ... and ... ... "
Suddenly one of the plants had a plasma fire appear in front of it, and flames around it, and two voices from the plasma events said "That's the problem with deals with the ... "
Quinn turned to Julia saying "Look, you did the angel, let me do the burning bush, okay?"
"But I'm getting type casted here, I mean, wings, angel, every time," said Julia.
"You didn't have a problem with it when you did it just now," responded Quinn.
Pat glared at the plant in fury, he then turned to Quinn and shouted "CUT THAT OUT!"
"Or what? God will send a lightning bolt?" Asked Quinn.
"What about me?" asked Julia.
"Leader stroke, duh, best lightning rod conceivable."
Pat looked annoyed, and said "this blasphemy will be your damnation. Please no more mocking our lord."
"What, not even one, just for the halibut?" asked Tom.
The other Legionnaires looked at him.
"Because Jesus did something with this fishing expedition ... help?"
"John 21, 1 to 17, four fishers were doing it wrong, so Jesus gave them a crash course, and apparently it worked a treat," said Daria.
"So you know your bible, but you choose to ignore it?" asked Pat.
"I'm agnostic, so to me it's fiction. It's gotten more plausible since my awareness of metagenics, Genesis is still a bit of a stretch, but Jesus could easily have been a reality warping meta," said Daria.
"I'm a Christian," said Brittany.
"Really?" asked Pat, looking hopeful.
"You're an embarrassment to Christianity, quit abusing my religion you jerk," said Brittany.
Pat didn't know how to answer this. Daria resumed "You obviously don't believe in hell or any kind of morality, so you also treat it as fiction. You got some wicked roleplay skills there. Anyway, you really need to ask yourself something, and that is, which do you want more? Us failing to save lives, or the guy who wanted to profit from YOUR DEATH IN JAIL?"
Pat sat there and fumed silently.
"He can implicate you back, can't he?" said Jodie, her tone patronising and gleeful.
Pat chuckled and said "You'd love to see us go down, wouldn't you?"
"Of course we would, you are evil and you miss-use theology to ruin lives to satisfy your greed and egomania," said Daria.
"And you hate that don't you?" asked Pat. "One thing you should keep in mind, the current administration might reject my influence, but there's no way they can un-fuck the damage they're dealing with. When the republicans return to power, I'm going to pull me some strings and get you all declared ... unlawful enemy combatants?"
"Yeah? Try it and see!" said Tom, "you make an enemy of us, we'll make sure you wish you hadn't!"
"TOM!" said Sandi. Tom looked at her in surprise. "You want to dial it down a notch?"
"I'd say we're done here," said Sandi.
"I concur," said Stacy.
"Mmmm, okay, let's go," agreed Brittany.
"That was not helpful Jodie and Tom," said Jane as they walked along the corridor from Pat's office, Agent Flemming answered his phone.
"Come on, he was never going to talk, he'd rather die than do time," said Jodie, "I grew up attending political functions, I know these guys inside out, it's like bushido culture only with more cancer, stroke and cardio pulmonary disease risk factors."
"And what were you expecting Tom's PR skills to be like? His Lego hair should tell you all you need to know about his sense of style," said Sandi.
After a short glare at Sandi, Tom asked "Think the university head master will talk?"
"I don't," said Jodie, "I think I can find us our probable cause, but I'll need to do it alone as the rest of you will just slow things down."
"Go team," said Jane with a facetious fist pump.
"Did you get anything Daria?" asked Stacy.
"Surface thoughts revealed nothing we didn't already know, and we don't have the probable cause for anything aggressive, all Pat knows is Luther's proxies told him where to send his crews, and there was no active participation in anything that could expose him to criminal proceedings. He also has had no direct contact with Luther, so these proxies can't be linked either. He's still planning to continue his hate campaign by the way."
"Can we find these proxies?" asked Stacy.
"I have the approximate times of these calls, so we have some leads, but until we know the origins of these calls, and I'm not hopeful here, it's just too easy to phone in a tip without revealing your identity," said Daria.
"Are there no other angles for us to follow?" asked Quinn.
"I have the location of the cloning vats these guys came from, Julia might be able to link others to this if she feels through their underwear drawer," said Daria.
"Okay," said Julia.
"Meanwhile, I think we owe it to Layla to look into her disappearance," said Daria, "all the lives she saved, if we owe any one person, we owe her."
Flemming hung up and said "it's being handled, but you need to stay clear of it."
That stopped Daria and in turn the Legion.
Daria turned to Flemming.
She then asked "What's going on?"
"We have no need to know, all I know is that the Sierra Leone desk-"
Turning to Brittany, Daria asked "Boss, would you and vice boss mind going over to Sierra Leone to find out what's going on?"
"No, I love visiting in South America," said Brittany.
"Africa," said Stacy.
Brittany looked confused.
"I'll brief you," said Stacy.
Daria looked at Flemming, Flemming gestured at Brittany asking "Seriously?"
"Ignorant as she seems at times, she's effective, and discreet, she'll see what's going on, and will ask the rest of us to get background before proceeding. ... Of course, since we're sending people over anyway, it might be prudent for the Sierra Leone desk to clue us in on whatever it is you're doing there. And if it's something stupid, illegal and likely to kill people in their millions-"
"WE ARE NOT A CRIME SYNDICATE!" said Flemming.
"REALLY? ... Oh yeah, that's right, you were never wherever your outsourced deeds were done, including what was done to me, which, by the way, bore a very strong resemblance to a crime. Tell it or lose it, agent, we have more cause to act than not."
Flemming sighed as he used his phone to call the Sierra Leone desk again.
They walked past another Studio as the door opened, and a woman emerged, apparently the appearance of Quinn was a godsend to her because she got this massive smile on her face saying "Quinn, I'm glad you came."
"Eh?" asked Quinn.
"Kristi Watts, you got my E-Mails?"
"I tend to delete stuff from this scam factory, what did you want to talk to me about?" asked Quinn.
"Well, I was hoping you could sign up for one of the therapy programs our affiliates run."
"Therapy?" Asked Quinn.
"For recovering homosexuals? Make them straight?"
The other Legionnaires stepped away from Quinn feeling the prickling sensation before fully getting what had just been said, the girls, all with their long hair, had to pull their hair back and suddenly decided that a bun would be a good do for today.
Quinn sighed saying "Your Gaydar needs to be retuned. I'm straight."
She then looked around and regained control over her powers.
Everyone's hair now went straight up instead of towards her, but they could now approach her again.
Daria gave Sandi a look, to which Sandi gave a look of 'Daria, it's me, what did you think I was going to do with that information exactly?' as they continued out of the building.
Tiffany and her diamond specialist entered the perimeter around the diamond mine.
They were tunnelling down.
This was an unusual way to dig up diamonds, usually diamond mining was done open pit, the way diamonds were formed meant that the rock was typically riddled with fissures to the point where you just don't want to dig a tunnel through it, unlike the granite of fold mountains which set slowly under great pressure before surfacing as a wrinkle in the tectonic plate, lava cooled too fast and was often aerated by dissolved gasses.
Of course, if you're not actually down in the mines digging the rocks out and instead are the armed psychopaths making the little kids go down there using the unsuitable methodology ...
Slave labour: It gets shit done.
That was the caption on a motivator poster featuring the grand pyramids of Egypt.
This was the reality: Slaves were an expendable labour pool that these psychopaths trapped and menaced into doing dangerous work with no regard to their survival. They were people who had no means to protect themselves from the West Side Boys and who had no one looking otu for them.
The kind of people the good guys rescue and protect.
This took Tiffany back ...
The past, sometime after Tiffany's stay in the brig.
Tiffany entered the mess hall and joined the queue at the kitchen window.
Salads didn't carry much bulk for the amount of money you spend on them, so that meant cheap and cheerful junk.
Greasy, zit promoting, ...
It was such a pity she had to come up with something other than swapping his toothpaste for rubidium, because there would be nothing funnier at this point than to turn his face into a smoking crater.
She had a plan, and it would potentially clear her name, and get that piece of crap Keith Gravel out of here.
He'd been very clever in the way he had done it, he'd been around a lot longer than Tiffany had and was well in the Captain's good graces. Tiffany, on the other hand, was practically invisible. He seemed to be on her for her celebrity status because She was also a Legionnaire. Media princess out on an adventure.
He hadn't a clue what she was about, she was experienced in combat, not just simulated violence at the Axe, she was experienced against actual enemy forces, including at least five metahuman opponents.
She would also put up with the comments and the ill treatment until her predictions she had made to the captain about Keith would mysteriously become reality.
She had to keep the consequences well below the level at which it's worth bringing in psychics, or she'll be out on her ass alongside Keith for the same thing.
She saw one of the seamen Keith had conspired with walk up to another and start asking him when he'll pay up.
Tiffany couldn't allow herself a smile, no outward sign what so ever that she was involved in this.
She paid for her meal and sat down, killing the conversation at the table she had found a seat at.
The present again.
She closed the deal, her diamond expert having haggled down the price of the diamonds.
The diamonds themselves were fairly large, about the size of numerous famous big stones, but they were riddled with more cracks and inclusions than the welds on their amphibious APC.
It would be up to the stone cutter on the other end of her supposed business to break the stones along the fractures and then divide the slivers into the individual cut gems she and her former fashion club members were more familiar with.
As the expert had negotiated with the mine's "Owner," they had seen several prepubescent to adolescent slaves being assaulted by the gangsters for as far as she could tell no infraction what so ever.
These guys were so going to get it when she no longer needed this cover. On the one hand she was starting to feel guilty that she had these predatory instincts and a fairly nasty sadistic streak herself, but on the other, she felt those who picked on non-combatants, war criminals, individuals who felt it their right to abuse children and similarly defenceless individuals needed a lesson in the meaning of things that go around coming around. Some of these kids were missing some or all their fingers, having to somehow manipulate chunks of kimberlite with the remains of their palms.
She was SO coming back for these people.
She smiled, shaking hands, exchanged pleasantries, and they left with their merchandise, 20kg of crap ugly rough diamonds.
They were about two kilometres down the road when Brittany and Stacy de-cloaked before them.
"What are you doing here?" growled Tiffany.
"You first," said Brittany, "and what's with the PRC Uniform jacket? You defected?"
"I can't say, if you want to know, you're going to have to sign some documents promising your ass in prison if you squeal, okay?" sneered Tiffany, "You, on the other hand, are not a classifying authority and are free to explain YOUR presence here, but I promise you, if you interfere with my mission, I will hunt you down and kill you, legionnaires or not."
Brittany and Stacy looked at each other.
Stacy then said "Layla Taabu."
"Right. Re-cloak and follow me. I can explain her situation-"
"I'd also like you to explain what you're doing buying up suitcase loads of conflict diamonds straight from the slave mines from the kind of people whose business you should be disrupting, not aiding," said Stacy.
"I suppose I will then. Come on."
Tiffany resumed her journey as Stacy and Brittany re-cloaked, probably following them.
This was a pretty bad omen of late, having the Legion show up on an operation usually meant something was going to go horribly wrong, and she'd be on the wrong end of charges that could result in a three decade custodial again.
"Seriously Tom, how can you do this?" asked Dawn, "we need a good image, and you threatening the idol of millions of Americans, what does that say about the Legion-"
"We weren't even on air," said Tom.
"It was recorded," said Dawn, "he then did a hack and splice on the footage, and now the Legion looks like an atheist ate group."
"That's what we get for saving his ass," said Daria.
"There were innocent asses that would have perished before Robertson and before him in fact," said Jodie.
"Always something," said Daria
"CAN YOU PLEASE TAKE THIS SERIOUSLY?" screeched Dawn.
"WE ARE taking this seriously, this happened, this won't un-happen," said Daria, "Fashion Club aside, we're not PR specialists, we're superheroes, and one of these days, Pat's going to wish he had taken heed of the old Bible tale about this Sheppard who ran one too many wolf incursion drills-"
"He may at that, but you're still a federal law enforcement agency, and federal law enforcement agencies can be ended by the executive branch of the US government barring situations where unlawful command influence applies, and whatever might have been said about the current president, he is still a politician, and he may still withdraw your authority if you make the public too scared of you."
After about ten seconds of no one saying anything Daria said "Okay, Christian Island, cloning vats."
"They would pick that as their base," said Julia. "Went there, got a list of addresses, registered or not, that's where they are, already sent marshals to arraign them, CSIs are on scene looking for hard evidence, we should be able to get a plea bargain deal out of these people. Their involvement in the cloning of us all should be cast adamantium cause for you to aggressively scan their minds, I'll set it up."
"I checked the phone records," said Quinn, "all the numbers are from disposable phones, no longer in use, no way to find them."
"How's Lex going to react to all those people not being dead and his secret hidey hole being uncovered?" asked Jane.
"Good question," said Daria, "you know, the amount of time this time machine has been in operation is a long time for it not to occur to him that he needs a contingency."
"Like what?" asked Jane.
"More clones," said Jodie, "the sooner Daria gets a look in those brains, the better our survival prospects."
"Right, mean time, now you've gone and decommissioned that time machine," said Julia.
"Confinement mist, and plenty of it," said Daria, "we'll need to load up the L1s, Dawn, we'll need Stark to assist us."
"Yeah? After this fiasco, he'd help you why?"
"To achieve his aims, which runs directly counter to a company or more of our evil selves deleting most to all civilisation," said Daria. She then elaborated "Now, we've never felt any need to try to develop a means to use the Gridrunners we have as a missile platform, whereas the Mark 4s were designed with this in mind, it's hypersonic with the racks extended and has been tried out with a full set of Harpoon missiles, it should have no problem carrying as many AIGM 54 Hs. We're the only organisation to stock LAU-93s right now, but I know for a fact we have enough to load up at least one Mark 4, if it comes down to it we'll also use our confinement mist AMRAAMS too, but we need as many large capacity confinement mist missiles in the air soon. We get attacked without those in the air, this'll get War On Terror ugly."
The AIGM 54 was a version of the AIM 54 Phoenix that the Legion had developed specifically for less lethal combat from beyond visual range, it was about the biggest missile capable of high speed they could hang off the L1s, and they had made good use of it's warhead space for some kind of smart fusing option Daria, Jodie and Quinn had worked on making it a crowd control missile capable of quelling a Rwanda sized public disorder.
Dawn eventually said "Okay," conceding Daria's point. The Legion may be dependant on PR guidance, but the Legion was not just a show pony, it was also a super hero outfit, in fact, that first and foremost.
She got on the phone.
"I don't recognise this," said Brittany as she and Stacy de-cloaked.
The other SEALs looked irritated.
"Keep in mind that this is the only way I can think of to keep you out of the way that doesn't involve killing the pair of you. You don't recognise it because we built it ourselves."
"Build that metal storm gun too?" asked Stacy.
"Nope, you may have seen West Side Boy vehicles with these things mounted on them though."
"Hang on. This would mean West Side Boys are more capable than ... " said Stacy.
"UN forces have had to cede anything green and leafy, only forces that can enter now are the invisible and the transonic, special forces for spotters, fast jets for delivery, as you can imagine that's a very hit and miss way of pursuing the West Side Boys, they're not fully kitted with these yet, so we have an opportunity to cut off their supply, but we need the manufacturer of these weapons or the next procurer to strike a deal could be from Al Qaeda. This country could become a way point for metal storm weapons traffic to the middle east, probably Chechnya, Russia, possibly even Europe."
"That's not what we're here for," said Brittany.
"Layla Taabu was killed because she was a diclonius, and diclonii where known are known for their resilience to firearms. Because PFT weapons can not be pirated safely, there's a demand for something just as lethal that is more affordable and more plentiful. Layla was simply the first diclonius they found."
"She was shot as a marketing trophy?" asked Stacy.
"Shot, embalmed, stuffed and posed," said Tiffany.
Neither of the Legionnaires knew what to say to that.
"Now you have your answers, I want you two out of my theatre," said Tiffany, "the bastard that did it will get what's coming, and so will those slave drivers, but this information can not be released until my team is out of here. I'll let you know when."
"But, we can help," said Brittany.
"Yeah? What happens when your aversion to killing kicks in?" asked Tiffany.
"Why not jail them?" asked Stacy.
"The West Side Boys? They'd run the prison, and they'd need a really big prison."
"Cease fire?" asked Stacy.
"Ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?" asked Tiffany. She eventually had to explain "Date took me to this showing of that 1980s Batman movie, 'Ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight' was The Joker's favourite send-off when slotting someone. Point being the West Side Boys are completely bat crap on or off the dust, and they're NEVER off the dust. Only way you stop these guys from fighting is to make them allllllllllllll dead. ... Any more stupid questions?"
"HEY!" replied Stacy.
"GO HOME!" said Tiffany.
"OR WHAT?" asked Stacy.
Tiffany shoved her gun into Stacy's throat, Brittany, seeing the move, swung around Stacy planting her elbow through Tiffany's throat.
Brittany was unable to arrest the inertia she had instinctively thought she'd lose, and thought 'Oh yeah, that's right' on her way down.
"As soon as the bullet leaves the gun, it also leaves physical contact with me, and you know what'll happen next," said Tiffany.
Brittany got up saying "Stacy, she's right, we got our own problems to worry about. Let's go home."
Stacy eventually broke off her glare at Tiffany and turned around, leaving with Brittany in tow.
Daria entered Luthor's office.
"So, what can I do for you?" asked Luthor.
"You can come quietly and co-operate fully. Lex Luthor, I'm arresting you for terroristic activities, more counts of manslaughter and felony murder than the Attorney General knows what to do with, attempting to pervert the course of justice, and, oh yes: Cloning us."
"Cloning? Terrorism? Big words, pity they're not apt, you could be opening yourself to malicious prosecution," said Luthor.
"They're apt all right. Come on. You're busted," said Daria.
"Say 'What the fuuuuuuck?'" said the seaman as he operated the remote detonator.
The explosion in the distance behind the seaman drew the arms dealer's face like a black hole draws stellar matter. He took the picture.
After examining the image in his camera's screen for a couple of minutes, he concluded "That'll do nicely." He settled in to slowly withdrawing from his position and returning to base.
Brittany finally put her head phones on.
Stacy had been all over how Tiffany had lost the plot since they had left the war zone.
Now it was Brittany's turn to mull.
Tiffany had threatened to slot Stacy right there in front of her.
Close friends do NOT threaten one another with death.
It was understandable that Tiffany was a little annoyed with the being kicked out of the Legion and the near miss with the attempted murder charge, but this amount of hostility was way over the top.
What if she had accidentally shot Stacy?
Is Tiffany unstable?
Brittany had to think about the environment Tiffany was in. She was sent to places where the law has no presence, places where you don't have the luxury of a police force, a district attorney, marshals, prison service, well, you kinda do, but they're often bent like a heating element in an incandescent bulb.
Tiffany was in an environment where she could endulge her urge to ... ...
Her urge to kill.
Tiffany is a psychopath.
That's the only conclusion Brittany could draw.
Of course Brittany wasn't he psychologist, Jodie or Daria could probably come out with a better conclusion or a more insightful analysis, but Tiffany enjoyed killing people.
What was Tiffany guilty of in a criminal sense? Assault with a deadly weapon? Tiffany hadn't launched an attack. Threatening behaviour? Unless that's a pattern of behaviour towards an individual (stalking), that would be a one off.
Of course this was the military they were dealing with, there was probably a court martial offence for brushing your teeth backwards.
Conduct unbecoming of a ... What was her rank anyway? Petty Officer? Seaman? Or was she in the O grades?
Literally all they knew was she is a Navy SEAL.
Last they knew, Tiffany was at about E4, but one of the things that had been released about special forces was that your grade is reset to E1 or E2, one of those, the reason being that the selection candidates have to relearn everything they need to know about war fighting.
Of course it hadn't been released that women were recruited into US Special forces, probably as an attempt to preserve surprise, although it could be an attempt to preserve masculinity.
The latter would be stupid when you consider the number of countries where women served as Special forces operatives, submariners, combat troops, made countries like the UK and US look retarded. Israeli and Russian special forces don't seem to have diminished in reputation from it, they're still considered to be harder than adamantium.
Brittany remembered being shown some Black Lagoon cartoons. Balalaika was, of course, a fictional character, but she was one of the most bad ass fictional characters with breasts and a birth canal. It was in some ways easy to draw parallels between Tiffany and Balalaika, both were hard as adamantium, hearts were colder than Bose Einstein Condensate.
Balalaika, however, was a lot more disciplined than Tiffany seemed to be, turning everything off but the desire to see through her mission, be it the deaths of those two psycho kids or the annihilation of the Yakuza. Tiffany seems to lose the plot on a regular basis.
Or at least every time they encounter her.
Well, not every time, she seemed fine when she visited them while on that mission to 12.7mm that soul crystal.
And the few times before that.
She was bitter about the relegation to reserve Legionnaire and then outright expulsion from the Legion, that was understandable, and especially since the circumstances of the expulsion was that she had attempted murder of a prisoner in the Legion's custody.
In some ways Tiffany seemed to act like an addict whose supply of ... whatever they are addicted to.
Addicted to killing.
Well that sure ain't good is it?
On the one hand it was nice Tiffany had found a role, but on the other, she seemed to be a monster in the making.
Brittany thought about this for another minute as the aircraft in the movie passed gate after gate as it's woefully inadequate brakes failed to stop it, the stampede of passengers moving through the terminal as the updated gate numbers were read out in tow.
Well, not like Tiffany was likely to crack in the field, but there was also a danger that combat addiction could make her do something epic stupid and get killed.
Tiffany's CO had to hear about this, and then it would be up to him whether to let it slide or get NCIS on her ass.
"We have the supplies inbound?" asked Tiffany.
"We'll be exchanging with the helo at seven north thirteen west, fourteen thirty tomorrow," said Hugh, he then went back to his eating.
There was a noticeable silence as they ate.
There was usually some conversation.
Tiffany finally asked "Okay, what is it this time?"
"You threatened to kill your Legion friend," said Irma.
"I was bluffing," said Tiffany, "Seemed the fastest way to get them out of here."
"You were bluffing with live ordnance," said Hugh, "The army don't do that shit."
Eventually Tiffany said "Alright, fine, I'm crazy. Soon as this mission is over, I'll build a new team and never use you guys again, but for right now, you're just going to have to live with it."
None of them looked happy.
"Crying out loud," said Tiffany as she resumed eating.
Still she had to consider if she had screwed up big time here.
Having those two around would have endangered the mission and her team, but she couldn't help feeling that what seemed like the best option out of a pile of well crap options was likely to come back and bite her later.
That was the curse of the Legion.
Well, whatever happens, happens.
Yeah, see how philosophical she feels when she's on the wrong side of an NCIS suspect interview.
Lex sat in the interview room, his really expensive and had better earn every cent lawyer next to him.
Well, the brief wasn't as necessary as he would be if he didn't have o many more clones than these Legionnaires had found. There were only 710 sets listed on the charge sheet.
That left 3420 sets.
The Legion was fucked.
Xavier watched as signs of Brittany, Tom and Jane appeared all over the North American continent.
He streamed this information directly to Jodie.
As Jodie worked her laptop she thought cast 'all from Jodie, contact, Charles, I want to start with the bandits over Amarillo first.'
'Have that, searching Amarillo vicinity ... Fox three.'
'Metajammer en route, now go for Clovis,' said Jodie.
The system Jodie was using was a metal storm type mortar aimed right into her teleportation device, the same one that made human users vomit. The mortar was loaded with metajammers on parachutes.
Their examination of the cones they had captured had revealed implants that functioned as the Legionnaire's flight rings. The targets needed identifying first, but once that was done, they could be tracked as needed.
A slight upgrade to their confinement mist missiles later and they had a means of guiding weapons to them.
'Clifton Group unpowered. ... Cliften grouuuuuuup seeeeeedaaaaaaaaa ... ... '
The Toronto group's Jane suddenly figured it out. 'All from Toronto group, remove your implants and go to ground.' This wasn't going well, they had mined the entire airspace with psi screams so ALL their Darias were knocked out, and now all this was going on.
Jodie could see the telemetry from the Mk 4 Gridrunner was showing an increasingly significant error between the implants and the clones.
'Charles from Jodie, they figured it out. They're ditching their implants.'
'Those things are wired to their brains,' replied Charles.
'Yeah, probably not the kind if thing I should hope for, but that should probably make a couple hundred of them a bit stupid,' replied Jodie.
There were 300 groups outstanding. Now the real fun begins.
Toronto Jane was carrying their Quinn and their Brittany.
They had to land somewhere and get a vehicle because this was not sustainable, especially with half of Jane's view not seeing red and her right leg hanging dead.
It was the only way to evade the real Legionnaires, but it had cost them and who knew what had happened to the other Lexxionnaires.
Not the best name for them, but what else could they do? They were actually compelled to obey Lex, and they were conditioned to be happy to please him, and they were fully aware of this, but that was okay, they didn't mind.
As they started to overfly Eerie, Jane saw a large factory complex.
The reason Jane could fly at all was because of her telemagnetic powers, so those obviously still worked, and that place had the appearance of being a foundry complex.
'Have that', thought cast Daria. She then checked her watch, saying "Interview terminated @ 14:50, excuse me, apparently we didn't get them all."
"Three hundred outstanding," said Daria.
Lex shrugged and said "Doesn't matter."
"They ripped out their implants to evade," added Daria.
"And you think that affected all three hundred just as badly?" asked Lex.
"I'll let you know at your arraignment," said Daria. She then left the interview room. As she left the Marshal's field office secure area and retrieved her weapon, she thought cast 'Julia from Daria, what's the status on the Alliance?'
'Alliance are in play, but their ROEs differ as well you know, so we're splitting the targets between us,' replied Julia.
'Good, guide me to target,' said Daria as she emerged from the building, PFT2 drawn and she took off awaiting a vector from Julia.
"Awigh, eweryome co-oeraigh, oh ome ets urr, ... ugh."
"Everyone co-operate, no one gets hurt, much," transcribed the evil Clone Quinn. The Evil Clone Jane glared at her.
The shoppers in the Homebase outlet looked at each other from where they cowered on the floor. The evil Jane had come in shouting "Eweyboby owm!" using her powers to pick up nails from shelves, removing them through the packs and throwing them around with her telemagnetic powers. Weren't these guys supposed to be the good guys?
What was going on here?
Suddenly the evil legionnaires looked blank, then they fell to the ground.
Someone entered the store casually floating, looking around.
"Daria?" asked one of the patrons.
"No. Daria's a wuss. Takes a real telepath to scramble someone's brain and entire nervous system. X-rays are dead. Excuse me."
She left. It wasn't Daria, just Daria like.
"She ... god that was creepy," said someone.
As they overflew South Dekota headed 225-ish, the Legion clones saw a flash to their left, that flash looked like some kind of bright sun yellow cloud that turned into a torus, this was drifting upwards and fading as if cooling off.
That was a high energy explosion, there was evidence of a rarefaction zone as humid layers of air showed condensation moving through them, something in the 10s of kilotons. There was another high energy explosion, painful to see, left an impression, this one was probably 2/3 of the distance the first one had been. The Jane of the group remembered a couple of formations to their left, so those explosions were the result of an engagement.
They had only one option here, there was a town ahead of them, so they went for that.
It was probably not going to have a lot of places where people would be sufficiently concentrated for a decent hostage siege, just about all of it looked like light residential, there was a running track on the far side, couple of really square shaped ponds on the north end, the track on the far side probably signified a school, so they flew over there.
They'd be safe from nuclear attack if the people slinging nuclear weapons around cared about American lives.
They entered the school, their entry disrupting classes as they came to the attention of the students in the class.
Their Quinn used her electric powers to cook the teachers, and asked the students "Any questions?"
Suddenly they saw something punch through the walls, it was thin, no more than 30mm, and it exploded next to them.
Suddenly their Brittany became visible.
"My powers," squeaked their Brittany.
The group's Jane and Quinn also tried their powers.
"Aww come on," said their Jane. She finally said "allright, everyone grab a hostage, we're still pretty good at violen-"
She was interrupted by another narrow shaft punching through a window and skewering their Quinn, and continuing through the walls behind her. All the students were on the floor.
Jane went into a classroom, leaving the javelin thrower's sight, Brittany did the same.
The Javalin thrower seemed dressed a funny way, as like one of them super goa'ulds off of Stargate or maybe a Power Ranger perhaps?
She entered just in time to see Jane and Brittany standing there with a student each in a headlock, this person made another Javalin.
"Attack one of us, the other will kill their hostage," said the Jane.
The individual stood still for a few seconds, it had a female form, but beyond that, the figure was unidentifiable.
The individual dropped the Javalin, throwing it slightly so it landed about 5 metres away from them, the individual then turned and left.
Jane and Brittany nodded at each other in victory.
The javelin then exploded, causing them to stumble back a bit, everything from their toes to their eyeballs vibrated from the blast wave.
They recovered just enough attention to focus on the door ahead of them through which the individual had just left, meaning they were completely unprepared when the individual, having entered through another door behind them, came up behind them and formed another javelin between their heads. They collapsed instantly, the students they were holding in a headlock fell with them. They sat up and saw the two women staring into space, lifeless as their heads were pinned looking straight up by the javelin skewering their skulls. They puked as the individual walked out the front door again.
Missoula emergency dispatch struggled to maintain their polite demeanour as they took call after call from people reporting some kind of directed energy blast piercing buildings to get at apparent legionnaires.
Some cases the blast only just missed people uninvolved with them. Most the shots had apparently been done blind, no line of sight between origin and target.
Some of the reports had identified the source as a thin, olive skinned woman with brown hair that had copper streaks in it that the male callers sounded attracted to and that the female callers seemed jealous of (well, the straight ones), in fact the description from the callers sounded in tone like they were describing their favourite porn star or something. That was the part that was winding all the dispatchers up. She had been firing those beams for about two minutes before she flew off, but those two minutes had generated enough callers that they would be taking phonecalls overnight.
Armalin stood before his collection.
This really shouldn't matter as much, but it had been a while since he had actually entered the field, and it felt like it was important ... ...
He selected the machete and closed the wall panel over the other machetes and headed for the door, using his alliance ring to communicate with DOD controller working alongside Jodie.
'Daria, Jodie, your X-Rays are reportedly in the factory-' started Jodie.
'No they're not, I have them entering a school between twenty ninth and thirtieth streets, structure is single storey, broad field of view on all sides, I'm leaving their field of view and am turning back approaching from the north,' thought Daria. She'd seen the movement on the ground, not really trusting her senses or even what was reported, the amount of time it takes for her to fly in gave her time to run all these permutations, such as why box yourself in? But a casual scan she had immediately followed up with showed not even surface thoughts. The clones that had attacked when they were at that university were squawking thoughts loud and clear, so she could only assume that the brain damage they had caused themselves when ripping out those implants had affected their telepathic signals.
'Right, have that,' thought Jodie, sounding morose in her thought.
Daria approached the school along Charlotte street, north of 29th street, and stopped at a tree that towered over the roofline of the block. She ascended into it to view the school.
'Jodie from Daria, yeah, I can see them in the principal's office, their discussion with the principal seems relaxed and friendly, what I want to do is get the local SHIELD field office to set an ambush, I think their current plan is to hide here by pretending to the principal of this school that they're proposing a presentation to the students,' thought Daria.
'Works for me, hostage rescue from schools is a total minging goat screw with a bastard asshole twist of a nightmare,' thought Jodie.
'Yeah,' thought Daria as she watched one of the kids enter the principal's office. The kid expressed wonder, and got into a conversation with the apparent Legionnaires and the principal. The kid then handed the Jane his phone and Jane started conversing on it. Daria was wary about using her telepathy on anyone other than a specific target-
"Excuse me, Daria?" Called a voice from the ground.
Daria looked down and saw a woman standing on the ground near the tree with a phone.
Daria lowered herself to the ground and asked "Yeah?"
"Apparently Jane wants to talk to you," said the woman.
"Well, why did-" started Daria, reaching for her phone until she realised "Aww hell. Can I borrow that?" Daria pointed to the phone the woman was holding.
"Err, sure," said the woman, handing it over.
"Thanks," said Daria, she floated up to the tree asking "Hi Jane, or photocopy thereof as the case may be."
The Jane clone was looking out the window directly at the tree, Daria descended out of view, hopefully before the Jane copy had a chance to visually acquire her.
"Daria, you've just created a hostage situation, think you can resolve it AND round up the rest of us clones?"
'Jodie from Daria, you remember that total minging goatscrew with a bastard asshole twist we discussed?' thought Daria.
Jodie eventually replied 'yes?' it was a slow cringing yes that implied understanding that an epic failure of epic proportions had just transpired.
'It's on,' thought Daria as she flew around the school behind the houses, she picked a location where she could climb and then descend on a trajectory that wouldn't be visible if you weren't set up specifically to view it, bit of luck their first instinct to look outwards might stop them looking up through the courtyard windows.
"Well?" asked the Jane clone.
"Just let me talk to the school board first, but stay on the line," said Daria.
'From Jodie, SHIELD agents are on their way' stated Jodie.
'Have that,' replied Daria.
The clones had taken up positions throughout the school, the Jane clone was still talking to Daria, and all the blinds had been lowered.
This wasn't as self defeating as it at first sounded, its' easier to see out through them than in, especially if you redeploy the school's security cameras with your magnetokinetic abilities, and combined with the thermally efficient windows that block electromagnetic radiation for some distance above and below the visible spectrum, those inside were effectively invisible.
"Hey Daria, you know how I'm not a telepath? Check this," she then heard a two note intonation and looked at the screen, apparently Jane had sent some video clip.
The principal was writing lines on the white board, she was writing "I'm not gay but I can learn" over and over again, occasionally sniffing back tears.
Daria noticed something sticking out of the principal's hair. It looked like a wire coat hanger had been deformed to form a garrotte.
"Pity Lex didn't teach you our values," said Daria, "You have any demands for me to relay to the SHIELD team when they arrive?"
"Hmm, demands, demands, demands, okay, I demand, that they turn their dicks back to front and that they fuck themselves. Would you be so kind as to pass that on?" Replied the Jane clone.
Daria had used her telepathy two ways in this situation. One way, bearing in mind she couldn't read the dain bramaged clones, was to watch the clones through the teachers and kids eyes.
There was another aspect but she was far from certain that was effective: It involved Clone Brittany.
Clone Brittany had to maintain line of sight with Clone Jane and Clone Quinn, so that meant Daria could approximately locate her, what she did was use remote control kids and remote control parents to send text messages and force Clone Brittany to run around reading each and every one of them, thus keeping her off the roof, there were footfalls from a location where no person was visible as a result, so she was reasonably assured they didn't know she was up here.
There was just one more element required.
'What are those cops doing? Daria from Morales, there's a stack of cops approaching from the south east,'
'I know, I need them there,' replied Daria.
'I'm going to attack.'
'Dar ... ... Right-o,' thought Agent Morales. Daria, the Legion Telepath, most likely had the situational awareness to fully make the judgement.
Jane saw some cops approaching from the approximate vector of the school car park, and Daria seemed to be arguing with the LEOs and the shield supervisory agent.
One of them shouted "LOOK OUT!" and started shooting, getting some windows and causing the kids to scream.
The cosp peeled back, shooting ... ...
Suspiciously high and suspiciously low, avoiding a direct impact that could ricochet back at them and avoiding putting further rounds into the cla-
And they were peeling like MARI-
"HEY!" shouted Clone Quinn before she fell down.
"DAMN IT!" growled Clone Jane before she shot off before Daria appeared.
Luckily the school was doughnut shaped.
Daria checked the room at the end briefly, Clone Jane was no longer there, and she advanced to the next corner of the school corridor. Daria had ensured the remote control kids in the room with the broken windows would remain under their desks where she had put them when the remote control cops approached would stay there until a fire crew could get there to extract them. That was dodgy, but the noise covered Daria's removal of the skylight near Clone Brittany's location.
It was obvious this would be futile well quick-
The blinds facing the courtyard all dropped as if torn down.
There was Jane stood near one of the science class doors, steel ruler ready, and Daria was nowhere near ready to acquire when the ruler started to move.
There was a blur arcing from and back into the doorway the Jane clone was stood next to, a blur Daria almost instantly recognised as Armalin.
The steel ruler broke through both windows before it stopped.
The Jane clone also fell, the back of her head sliding off from the rest of her skull.
Armalin looked to Daria.
About five seconds passed before Armalin said "Since we haven't spoken in months, may I ask why you look like you're ready to kill me?"
Daria suddenly registered that there was a gun sight between her eye and Armalin's mouth.
That was because she was pointing her PFT at him.
She lowered it, eventually commenting "That stupid mind screw that prick sentinel builder had you attacking me a bunch of times. Had the rest of the Legion doing it too, but I've been around then since coming out of that, so I've had months to un-learn my fear of them."
"I see," said Armalin.
Daria quickly scanned for additional enemies but concluded "stronghold secure," she used her flight ring to ask 'Jodie from Daria, stronghold secure, any outstanding X-Rays?'
'From Jodie, board's clear, no outstanding X-Rays,' came the reply.
"We're all done now," said Daria.
"Good. ... Regarding your disorder, I can help you with that."
Daria holstered her weapon, pointing at the ceiling saying "that's ... ... about the scariest thing you can say general."
"You still don't quite trust psychologists, do you Daria?" asked Armalin.
"Not in general practice, no, most the time the patient already knows why they're acting the way they are, I mean, don't get me wrong, I find psychology useful for investigating criminal activity, but for therapeutic use they're rubbish or even counterproductive," said Daria.
"The self esteem class for instance," said Armalin.
"For starters, it wasn't needed, was not fit for purpose, researched and developed on cloud cuckoo land," said Daria, "I'll get over this eventually."
"Before or after you kill someone?" asked Armalin.
"Haven't killed anyone yet," said Daria.
"How long before you do?" asked Armalin.
"The longer I go without killing someone, the less likely it is to happen," said Daria.
"I see. ... I can still help though," said Armalin.
"I imagine you think you can," said Daria.
"Well, you don't talk to anyone, you can't get any sleep regulators prescribed," said Armalin.
"Sleep regulators?" asked Daria.
"You look like you're working on about five hours sleep a night, normal stress disorder symptom, mental health aside, that will affect your immune system and your stamina, sleep, food and exercise are a package, like fuel, oxygen and heat, you're aware of this, fix it."
Armalin then left.
So did Daria.
Tiffany walked through the crates depositing a hat in each and every one. She eventually placed the final package in a crate and returned to her infiltration point. She descended through the ships hull into the submarine.
Her task complete, she settled down into her seat and said "Helm, take us to Bendu."
Was that a possibility for real?
Better question would be would she want it? That bird insignia would put more people under her command, but she'd spend more time on base than in theatre, so really, no. Petty Officer puts her in charge with a fire team or two, and that was the kind of size that gets her in theatre to make things go boom and enemies go "What happened?" in a perplexed manner.
It wasn't just turning heads inside out that was enjoyable to Tiffany, sometimes sowing confusion and mistrust was enjoyable as it made the enemy turn their own heads inside out.
Same difference really.
That time she got demoted to Seaman Recruit 1 again.
"Chief gravel, Ready room, NOW!"
The announcement was surprisingly hostile.
Just what the fuck could he have done to get the captain so pissed off?
The only thing he could think of that he might be upset about is what he had done to Tiffany, but Tiffany had been insisting she was innocent to no effect, so that seemed unlikely.
But there was no other misconduct he had done.
He arrived at the captain's ready room and knocked.
Gravel entered the ready room, stood at attention, and asked "You wanted to see me captain?"
"Your ship mates would like their money back."
"What?" asked Gravel.
The captain opened a folder and produced several individually bagged post-it notes with writing and purple fingerprints on them.
This made no sense.
"Your victims are prepared to drop the charges and let me determine a non-judicial if you return the money, but if I have to search your quarters or have people check the dispersing office records to find out who returned the notes your shipmates withdrew, we shall proceed directly to court marshal which will jail you and drop kick your ass out of the navy so fast you'll also be done for going supersonic near a population centre."
"Wha- ... Captain, back up, what do you think I've done here? What am I being-"
The captain slammed the bags onto his desk and rose, glaring as he said "Agent," and Gravel became aware of the presence of the NCIS agent afloat.
"Petty Officer Gravel, I'm arresting you for obtaining money by deception, breaking and entering, and grand theft, you do not have to say anything, anything you do say can be taken down and given in evidence, you have the right to legal counsel, do you understand these rights as I have described them to you?"
"Yes I do."
"Good, your quarters, now."
He left the ready room, the agent in tow, the marine MPs he had passed in the hallway he hadn't paid much attention to formed up on them as they walked to his quarters.
All Navy personal were fingerprinted mainly to aid in identifying dead or unconscious personal, the use in criminal investigations was merely a side benefit. How did his prints end up on ... ...
"Ohhhhh, Tiffany, I'm so going to kick your ass," he muttered to himself at a low enough volume to be drowned out by ambient noise.
The search of his quarters didn't find anything where he put anything, but they also looked in places he never touched, like the air vents.
The smirk on the agents face as he said "Why do you always use the vents?"
"It, wasn't, me," Gravel snarled. There was a problem with his situation though. How in the fuck was he to clear his name without the use of psychics? They brought psychics in, he wouldn't be able to protect things like his framing of Tiffany for dereliction of duty, captain was mad now, how annoyed was he going to be when the captain found out he had been tricked into busting down on Tiffany for no offence on her part?
No, all he was going to get was deeper in the shit, if Tiffany was convicted for framing him back, she'd at least have the mitigation of what he did and got away with first. Two wrongs don't make a right, and she'd probably be left at her current rank until she earns back what was stolen from her.
How did a pampered Stark Industries princess like her get to be so devious? He had this idea in his head that she was some spoilt rich princess who used her connections to try to muscle her way through things with someone elses muscle. She had no connections here, he'd checked. She'd done this herself.
He'd get back at her, but it would just cost him more and make the judge less sympathetic. He sighed and said "All right, yeah, I'm an asshole, I thought it would be funny."
The agent nodded.
There was a knock on the door.
Tiffany entered and snapped to attention.
"What can I do for you Seaman?"
"It should be Petty Officer, not seaman, sir. I want my rank and service record restored," said Tiffany.
"I don't believe this, you can't think that just because Gravel got done for that stunt he pulled that I'm willing to believe your lame story can you?"
"Sir, I am not going to pretend I'm guilty just because the lies are so convincing," said Tiffany.
The captain looked at Tiffany for about half a minute before saying "I can only ever go on what I see and hear, and so far you haven't presented anything to me that would convince me that my findings were incorrect. If as you claim you were framed, you got to give me something."
"Sir, may I be dismissed so I can find something?"
" ... ... Yes, dismissed."
"Aye sir." She turned around.
"And no bullshit, okay?"
"Understood," said Tiffany as she left.
Tiffany entered the mess and walked straight to the seamen who had helped Gravel frame her.
"Apparently you need to admit to the captain what you did in order for the conviction to be overturned."
They looked at each other.
One of them eventually said "Okay, look, I know we set back your career here, and you didn't deserve that, but we can't make this right either, and you'll recover from this, if we admit to framing you, we're off to Leavenworth for vie years and then civvie street without benefits, you'll recover from this, you just have to do what you did before."
"And I can trust you not to pull this crap again, just for laughs, can I? My dedication and hard work won't simply get flushed down the toilet again?"
"We were just doing what Gravel thought was best for the navy, I mean, it made sense at the time, but we won't do it again, honest."
Tiffany then pulled her phone out of her pocket and asked "Did you get all that?"
The seamen all went ashen.
"Yes we got it, I'm taking it to the captain now."
Then the call ended.
The captain looked across the four seamen, sweating at attention looking shit scared, and Tiffany, standing at attention, looking typically annoyed.
Tiffany then asked "Now, can I have my record cleared and my rank restored?"
The present again.
"What's this hat?" asked Asisa as he and Afolabi opened a crate of metal storm magazines.
"Must be a promotional thing they're running," said Afolabi.
Asisa put it on and struck a pose.
Tiffany watched as the number of hats sensing a head inside them increased.
This was step one.
There was a surprise gift in the last box that none of the others will have.
"All callsigns, comm. Check, over?"
Asisa froze and Afolabi looked at him.
Asisa remembered the word "Talk" was on the side of his hat, so he hesitantly touched it, saying "Yeah, Asisa here."
He waited as other voices responded.
About half the West Side Boys by the sound of it responded after he did.
"Good. As briefed, anyone not wearing a hat is not with us, they are against us, it is time to take them out. In your own time, go."
Asisa heard his friend charging his weapon and slowly looked to him.
"I ... I don't know what's ... ... "
The sound of gunfire erupted all over the forests of Sierra Leone.
Tiffany chuckled as she watched the number of live individuals wearing the hats went sharply down. The hats sensed heat, so they could tell they were being worn, they also measured heart rate by listening for the turbulent flow of blood through vessels, and the loss of that showed whose heart had stopped.
It was difficult to tell how many shot back before loss of capability, but Tiffany figured it would be about even money, so there would probably be a 75% loss of west side boys from this.
At the very least it would be a 50% loss, most likely 60%, could be as high as 80 to 95%, but that was stretching things.
It was time to talk to their arms dealer.
They drove off.
"Ciu?" asked Nigel.
"Nigel, we need to talk."
"About what?" asked Nigel.
"About saving your ass from the West Side Boy who just opened the ammo case to find your CIA warrant card inside."
Nigel looked confused.
"Of course it isn't really your ID badge because you're not really with the CIA, but try telling that to those machete wielding drug crazed psychopaths you sell high end weapons to," said Tiffany.
"You're ... What are you?" asked Nigel.
"The only one capable and willing to save your ass on condition that you tell us who it is that's making these weapons and shipping them over here," said Tiffany.
"Are you kidding? If I tell you ... ... " Nigel was now weighing up the options, clearly the West Side Boys would kill him on sight, so he needed to be rescued, but Lexcorp ... ...
"Tick tock Nigel," Tiffany said. The eventually turned and walked to the armoured amphibious she had driven up in.
"WAIT!" said Nigel, running past her into the vehicle.
With Nigel on board, Tiffany entered, closing the door behind her, and they drove off.
"So? ... " asked Tiffany.
"Err, oh yeah, my supplier, I send the money to this account number, your CIA should be able to find out where it all goes," he said, producing a notepad.
There was no apparent encryption here, except he wrote the account number in a different sequence to that written. Encryption in plain sight. It would be a pain in the ass for most people, but any half decent intelligence service could try all permutations and get the number of suspects down fairly quickly.
Still, this guy could know more than he's told them so far.
It wouldn't do to kill him.
The FBI would need as much information as they could get out of this guy.
It would also be too kind.
As she waited for him to write everything down she handed him a canteen and started entering the information into an E-mail to the CIA agent they were working with.
As she got done, Nigel noticed he was shivering a little. Bit unusual that he had started shivering, not like he had been in less danger before now.
Having said that, he had never incurred the wrath of both the West Side Boys and Lex Luthor before.
Except this was coming on quite strong.
He eventually did up the canteen and set it down.
Tiffany noticed him shivering.
"Bad habit that, synthetic heroin."
He looked at Tiffany asking "What are you on about?"
"See, sometimes when someone tries to synthesise Heroin, they cock it up, accidentally make MPTP, it's like two benzene atoms joined together with a nitrogen displacing one of the carbon atoms out the far end of one of the benzene rings so there's this methyl radical hanging off the nitrogen that's now linking the rest of the benzene ring, well, anyway, it's a neurotoxin that messes up your brain."
He absorbed this information, he hadn't heard of any of this, all he knew was he didn't do drugs, and it was well obvious that Tiffany had spiked his drink.
He gawked at her, feeling the convulsions set in.
"But I thought you were going to ... why?"
"Why did you kill Layla?" asked Tiffany.
"Wh ... Who's Layla?" Asked Nigel.
"She's this woman I knew a while back, she helped save millions of American lives by helping us hunt down a band of terrorists who possessed a number of nuclear weapons. See, we were having problems with that because the terrorists were being guided by a precog, but this woman along with thousands of others like her became aware that two of these terrorists were like them, and they can sense one another."
Now it was making sense. "The diclonious I killed?" he asked.
"Yes." Said Tiffany.
Now Nigel started to cry.
"Okay, we got support Oscar mike to the diamond mine," said Hugh, "They should arrive about five minutes after we leave."
"Good," said Tiffany. "Secure this excrement." Another of her crew secured his hands behind his back and his feet together.
"By the way Nigel, that MPTP, it's not lethal in case you were unaware of what this stuff does, it mimics Parkinsons disease. Some point the convulsions will give way to a sort of paralysis because you're going to be unable to produce a certain neurotransmitter on your own, you'll need to receive doses of the stuff in order to move about normally. So any messing us around and you spend a long time being stood in various poses by immature hospital staff."
That horrified Nigel, but it made a lot of sense given what he had done to this Layla woman.
Nigel had no regard for innocent lives, if he did, he wouldn't have become an arms dealer to individuals such as those he sold to, but he did know how to pick his battles.
Only he had unknowingly picked one with ... ... "who are you?"
"Okay, war of the clones, how did we do?" asked Brittany of all the Legionnaires assembled in the meeting room.
"Had to get the DOD to assist us, so a lot ended up dead instead of captured," said Daria, "we were never supposed to be a full on army, which is why we kept recruitment so low, but that screwed us here."
"Should we increase our recruitment pace?" asked Jane.
"Not sure," said Daria, "Operationally, we can only track and command so many people effectively at any one time, an accelerated recruitment drive could make it easier for people attempting infiltration."
It was about now that Dawn entered and said "It's time."
"Pat Robertson?" asked Quinn.
"Pat Robertson," said Dawn. "He's all over our lack of a rebuttal, it's making us look evasive."
"What do you recommend?" asked Daria.
"Oh ... OHHHH, Now you're interested in what I have to say," said Dawn, her arms wide.
"It's been known to happen," said Daria. "Okay, I personally put saving lives over public relations any time, but I don't dismiss the importance, our extraterritorial status means US JOD can't touch us with anything more severe than deportation to ... HERE ... but if by presidential panic we lose our LEO status, we could easily end up in opposition against the DOD as well as whoever we're trying to neutralise, so yes, it's important we protect that. Now, what do you recommend."
"Okayyyy ... Ideally I'd like to embarrass and humiliate the son of a bitch on air with juicy and confirmed facts of his unlawful activities, but that pesky fifth amendment means he gets to sit there saying 'No Comment', well, actually, he'll just waffle his way out of it like with that voice over he had on that broadcast where you claim he provoked Tom."
"HE DID!" said Tom.
"But if we offer him anyone reputed to be good at PR, he'll refuse, making something else up," said Daria.
"Yes he will. And anyone reputedly crap at PR will fail," said Dawn.
"So, how do we get him to agree to an interview?"Asked Jane.
"A little good old fashioned horse trading," said Daria.
"So you want an interview with me, after you claim I falsified footage of a previous interview?" asked Pat.
"Neutral ground, we go to CNN or someone else, they broadcast live, no pre-recording," said Dawn.
"Okay, would that be all of you together or just one nominated spokesperson, or ... ?"
"One nominated spokesperson," said Dawn.
"Brittany's the president, but she doesn't feel she can be dispassionate," said Dawn.
'More like she knows she isn't equipped for shallow theological discussion', thought Pat as he asked "Okay?"
"Quinn Morgendorffer," said Dawn.
Pat saw his PR adviser shake his head.
Pat said "Ah, I don't think that will be useful to either of us, she had been one of those Legionnaires to espouse the satanic influence I had to withhold."
"Sandi?" asked Dawn.
"Err, no, she's about as satanic as they come."
Pat could justify that because Stacy was a feral, those always look wicked evil.
"Well, is there anyone you would interview?" asked Dawn.
The PR specialist opened his folder and leafed through it, and then held up a photo of "Daria."
Dawn was hesitant in finally saying "Errr, are you sure?"
"She seems the least likely to resist the truth," said Pat. 'That is to say, she's too honest for her own good and is way too abrasive,' he thought.
Eventually Dawn said "Okay, Daria's agreed to do it."
"Have a nice day then." Dawn said, she then hung up. "That's it then. We've bet the Legion's ability to operate unopposed in the US on Daria's charm."
"This is inssssssaaaaaaaaaaaane," said Jane, clutching her head against the conference table.
"Jane, think back, before we formed the Legion I have wiped the floor with individuals such as Pat Robertson."
"YEAH, BACK THEN, what about today? Pat's been in this game longer than you've been alive," said Jane.
"Who have his opponents been?" Asked Daria.
"Mainly politician ... s ... Daria, I guess he might have gotten rusty, but so have you."
"I don't put myself out there that much do I?" asked Daria.
"No, you don't," said Jane, "I guess that means Pat won't have as highly evolved a game plan as he'd have against the rest of us."
"He's free world, I'm rabbit." Said Daria.
"Huh?" asked Dawn.
"Trust me." Replied Daria.
"Please welcome to CNN, Daria Morgendorffer and Pat Robertson," said the presenter.
Daria walked onto stage from one side as Pat and a woman walked on from the other.
Daria recognised her.
"I see we have a surprise guest," said the presenter.
"Wendy Wright, Clueless Women for America," said Daria.
"That's concerned women for America, Pat figured I might be able to help you see what you're doing wrong," said Wendy.
"Right. Thing is us Legionnaires were trained by Marines, so you might need to learn how to swear and spontaneously work obscene hyperbolae into your conversations," said Daria.
Both Pat and Wendy gave Daria a sad look.
"Oh dear," said Pat, "we're not off to a good start."
"Daria, I've just been informed those references you made earlier are to a movie called Eight Mile starring Eminem, please don't tell me you're going to start rapping!" said Dawn Hall.
"Nooooo, we're not," said Daria, looking to Dawn to ensure she knew she was the one being addressed, although it looked to everyone else like she was addressing the camera. She then looked back at Pat and Wendy and asked "Have you tried digging upwards?" Daria pointed up for emphasis.
"Ho-boy, you are the definition of clueless and the kettle calling the pot black."
"The kettle's saying it's noir, not black," said Daria.
"But ... ... " stammered Pat Robertson.
"Sorry, just reminded me of that Peugeot ad where the prospective customer ask if their cars in any colour other than black and the dealer responds 'we have noir', which of course is French for black."
The two nut jobs looked at each other.
"Anyway, you didn't come here to talk about car adverts or episodes of the Simpsons, that's where the 'dig upwards' line came from by the way, because they had been on this treasure hunt after this burglar told them of a treasure buried under a T shaped tree to get everyone out of there so he could break out, as he admitted in a note inside the case buried next to the tree, only the treasure hunters disbelieved the note and continued digging down thinking it was deeper, only they eventually realised they couldn't get out, so they opted to dig their way out, and someone said 'No, no, dig up stupid', but you didn't come to discuss that either did you?"
"No, we came to discuss your hatred of all things good," said Pat, having to take half a second to re-engage after Daria's long winded explanation of the origins of the cultural references she just brought up.
"Hatred of all things good. You mean all the people we've saved all these years are actually evil? We should have left all those people to die all those horrible brutal deaths and by saving them we were actually being very very naughty?"
"That's not what we're referring to," said Pat.
"You mean we don't hate all things good?" asked Daria.
"Well, you don't now, but you're on a path many others have been down before," said Pat.
"Well, that don't sound too good, means I'm not as pioneering as I thought I was. What path would that be exactly?" asked Daria.
"The path many radicals have gone down-oh, you may not think of yourself as a radical, but dollars to doughnuts, neither did Hitler, Trotsky, Che, Darwin."
"Weird grouping," said Daria.
"How so?" asked Pat.
"Hitler and Trotsky were basically successful revolutionaries, of course Stalin was in dead Trotsky's boots before Hitler made it to power in Germany, Che, no way to know how he'd have turned out, after the CIA assassinated him, he got deified by his followers, so there's a lot of misinformation to sift through, but Darwin? That guy was a pure research scientist, trying to get a picture of how life forms change."
"He's also the racist that gave Hitler all his material," said Pat.
"No, that's William McGee you're thinking of, HE's the one who tried to rank human races into some kind of hierarchy," said Daria.
"He also hated god for taking his daughter," said Pat.
"He did not, in fact the apparent conflict between his findings and Genesis bothered him BECAUSE he knew how much it meant to everyone in Victorian society," said Daria.
Pat seemed perturbed, Wendy seemed to be a little uncomfortable herself.
"Research: It's faaaaantastic," said Daria.
"What about the meeting you Legionnaires had with us where Tom threatened me?" asked Pat.
"Ah yes, that would be after you threatened to have us all designated Unlawful Enemy Combatants by the next president that likes you," said Daria, "Tell me, do you still have the original recording of that meeting or did you incinerate it the instant you finished your slice and splice job?"
"That original recording is the private property of Christian Broadcasting Network, if you would like a copy-" Started Pat.
"You're levelling accusations of threatening behaviour against us, I say you started it, if you're saying I'm lying, why not prove it?" Asked Daria.
"Please don't interrupt dear," said Wendy, "Pat is a respected voice in the United States, you should let him speak."
"Yeah, I should, I just don't want to fall asleep on national television," said Daria, "My apologies, please resume your weaselling."
"Daria, that's not very polite," said Wendy. Her tone was that of a mother trying to explain something to a sulking child.
"Yeeaaaahhhh, about that: I don't care. I also don't like having Cow Pat here eating up airtime with the entire book of copyright law in response to a simple question as to why he won't release an unedited version of the recording so it could be proven by a trusted third party that it is authentic, the only embarrassing things we discussed was Pat's involvement with Lexcorp's brainwashed meta human terrorist project and Pat's threat to have the next president he thinks will be so supportive of him designate us unlawful enemy combatants, presumably with a view to having us all stuck in CIA black sites until we feel lost and confused when NOT shackled to a wall enduring unspeakable atrocities. You went ahead and made that recording, WHERE'S THE ORIGINAL?"
"Dear, you don't need to shout, he's right in front of you," said Wendy.
"And he doesn't need to waffle, Pat, the unedited version, why's that a problem for you? Is it because you used a swear word? Leading up to your threat you mentioned that there's, quote: current administration might reject my influence, but there's no way they can un- insert swear word here - the damage they're dealing with. Then the Republicans will return to power and your influence would be sufficient to get us all declared terrorists, Is that what's so embarrassing to you?"
"Everyone knows I never swear," said Pat Robertson. "The thing that needed editing out was the satanic content of something you said that I can not in good conscious allow to influence the country."
"Satanic content, rigggggggghhhhhhhhht, you know, claiming that the dog ate your homework would be more plausible," said Daria.
"You may not believe in Satan, but he exists-" said Pat Robertson.
"I'm not entirely convinced of it, but I do know greed and megalomania motivate many criminals to try to pull a fast one. Usually they stick to small time easily collapsible scams like the unsolicited lottery scams, or those air purifiers that do nothing except show that they're using up power, not many con artists go for all this celebrity because it's harder to get away with things when you have nowhere to run, you got land assets, huge accounts, CIA finds a terrorist link, that all gets seized."
"Now who's making threats?" asked Pat.
"I'm not CIA, in fact my personal relationship with the CIA is fairly antagonistic, which means if they find something, it won't be as a personal favour to me," said Daria.
"I have influence, you can not get me," said Pat, rising to his feet, "whatever you have, it won't make any court."
"Unless you get stupid the way egomaniacal fraudsters do," said Daria.
"That will never happen, I can get away with anything!"
"Even when you tell the world and their mom what you're up to?" asked Daria.
Pat looked at the cameras.
He then snarled and stomped off.
Daria then looked at Wendy and smiled as she said "I'm sorry, that was rude wasn't it?"
The Past again.
"I'll get to you in a moment Tiffany," said the Captain, before he glared at the shit scared seamen stood next to her in front of the Captain's desk. Do any ... any, of you have ... anything to say that could possibly be taken as a mitigating factor?"
"Err, it seemed the right thing to do," said one.
"Really? How in the holy name of all fuck did that happen?" he asked, very effectively faking a jovial tone, laughing through his question.
"Errrm ... Petty Officer Gravel, said she'd get people killed if she wasn't brought down, sir?" the Seaman offered lamely.
"Ah, I see, and this is a mitigating factor is it? Seaman?"
The seaman lamely answered "It ... seemed to b ... well ... not really, I suppose, no-"
"DAMN STRAIGHT IT'S NOT!" Now the captain dropped all pretence of calm good humour, "YOU COULD HAVE COST THE NAVY A PERFECTLY GOOD SAILOR FOR WHAT? THE FAVOUR OF SOME LOW DOWN RAT WHO IS THE BIGGEST DISGRACE TO THE NAVY UNIFORM I HAVE EVER PERSONALLY ENCOUNTERED? NO OUT OF COURT SETTLEMENT, YOU FACE CHARGES FOR EVERYTHING I CAN DO YOU FOR, YOU WILL RECIEVE THE HARSHEST PENALTIES AVAILABLE, AND YOU WILL SAY 'THANK YOU SIR, MAY I HAVE ANOTHER', DO YOU UNDERSTAND YOU HUMANOID PIECES OF SHIT?"
"SIR, YES SIR," they answered.
"GOOD START, NOW GET OUT OF THOSE UNIFORMS AND REPORT TO THE BRIG, DISMISSED!"
"AYE AYE SIR," they answered, stripping to their underwear before they left the ready room headed for the brig.
The captain took a few seconds to calm down before he said "Tiffany Blum Deckler, I hereby restore your rank to Petty Officer Three and will be ensuring your lost earnings are restored. I apologise for the part I played in this injustice."
"Thank you sir."
"You have shown remarkable patience given the conditions you were forced to endure. Had that been me, I might not have had the patience or the faith that all this would come out."
"Thank you sir," said Tiffany, her anxiety showing at 'Sir'. Did he suspect?
"You know, if I were to follow my current hunch, I'd have to try and figure out if you had committed a frame up in order to expose what they did to you. An eye for an eye leaves the world blind, and aside from that, I can't have everyone on my ship pulling these stunts, or I can't credibly lay down the law, can I? I'd end up like Colonel Klink off of Hogan's Heroes, it's be pathetic. ... Have you given much thought to your career path Blum Deckler?"
"Sir, ... ... I'm considering special warfare, something about making the enemy wonder how we made their assets disappear into huge plumes of flames really appeals," said Tiffany.
"Well, better you do it to them than to us. I'll make the calls, and I'll have the quartermaster deliver your uniform to your quarters. Dismissed."
"Aye aye sir," Tiffany said as she snapped to attention and stepped out.
The Present again.
"Welcome back," said the Admiral.
"Thank you sir," said Tiffany.
"So, how'd it go?"
"Went quite well, sir, found the source of the weapons, BATF are on that, turns out the boss of the company that was doing this was already in custody over an attempt to use a mutant army to make the Legion look bad and attempted overthrow of the United States government. Poor guy, he waits forever for one of his evil schemes to be foiled and three get foiled at once."
"Hmm, yes, that would irk him I would imagine. ...Tiffany, you threatened to kill Stacy Rowe, a Legionnaire and an old friend of yours," said the Admiral.
"Only way I could think to get them out of there," said Tiffany.
"Was it now?"
Tiffany had to pause and eventually asked "Where's this going sir?"
"It's going to me being sick and tired of hearing of your apparent mental instability, that's where this is going, Blum Deckler."
This seemed to catch Tiffany somewhat off guard. Although she did recall fearing fallout from that encounter, she didn't know quite how to picture it in her mind. She argued "It got them out of there, sir, I know I come off as crazy, and I used it to best effect. Where's the problem?"
"The problem is you say now you used your rep to best effect, after days to think about it, you literally stuck a gun in Legionnaire Rowe's throat, you don't do that to friendly units, even in jest, had you been thinking like a SEAL, you might have given them something to do in a way that put distance between them and you, I'm sorry, I can't field you like this."
"What?" asked Tiffany.
"You heard, I'm confining you to base for the next six months."
"SIR, NO WAY, YOU CAN'T DO THAT," said Tiffany.
"Check the chain of command, Petty Officer, I can, and I did."
Tiffany felt stuck. She needed to be active, out there, killing bad guys, that's what she was here for.
"It's that, or I do you for gross misconduct. Even us special forces operatives have to comply with the law, this was all I could do to head off a JAG/NAV investigation. And because you are a combat junkie, I know this will leave an impression, so I am hopeful that this time YOU WILL GET THE MESSAGE! NOW, ARE YOU GOING TO THROW A TANTRUM LIKE SOME STREET THUG, OR ARE YOU GOING TO ENDURE THIS LIKE A UNITED STATES NAVY SEAL?"
The only easy day was yesterday.
Tiffany eventually said "I will endure this like a United States Navy SEAL, sir."
"Good. ... Master chief Terry Jurassik is waiting for you in inventory four, dismissed."
"Aye aye sir." Tiffany then turned and left.
Tiffany finished counting the boxes of flashbangs and filled in the number, also noting the date, and the time of day.
Ammunition stocks, particularly 9mm Hydroshok and flashbang grenades fluctuated massively on a special forces base.
That meant she spent most of her time counting them.
Not using them.
Not doing what she joined the SEALs to do.
Just what the hell was the universes problem anyhow? Sending Stacy and Brittany along right at that exact moment?
She rounded a corner finding herself face to face with a certain diclonius she hadn't seen in a while.
Tiffany mimed counting Lucy and recording her as inventory before moving on.
"Daria was concerned for you," said Lucy.
"Really?" asked Tiffany.
"You know I had to spend about an hour of my time just sitting in the room reading a non-disclosure act in order to see you, had Daria not vouched for me, I'd have had to have spent even more time going over all my personal history as many times as some CIA or other agency representative can stand to hear it, that's time I'd like back, so you mind being just a little more courteous?" asked Lucy.
"Well, as it happens I would," said Tiffany, "I mean, it was the Legion that caused me to be taken off of combat duty to begin with."
"Yes, blame the Legion. And if it weren't for those kids, I wouldn't have dismembered all those bystanders for laughs and giggles," said Lucy.
"Yes, you blamed the world for your actions, as I apparently am, that's where this is going, right?" asked Tiffany.
"Correct," said Lucy.
"Okay then. ... I promise not to become a deranged serial killer, on my mother's grave I swear this."
"I thought your mother was stil- ... " Lucy looked like she was considering whether it was worth continuing this conversation, but she eventually said "I really am trying to help you here you know. Daria seems to think I can. I'm fucked if I know how, I mean, I tried to talk myself out of in the past, I can't think of anything I could say that would get through, but right now, years later, I wish I hadn't. I imagine you probably won't, but just so I can say 'I tried', I'm asking you to think ahead, think of what you might say-"
"Right, Lucy, stop, just stop." Said Tiffany. Tiffany thought for a few seconds and then said "Look around Lucy."
Tiffany then asked "Do you see anything, Aaaaaaanyyyyyyyything here, that could get into an argument with me?"
Lucy looked at Tiffany and said "You could have an argument with a lamp post. ... This is all I can do. Look after yourself."
Lucy then left.
Tiffany resumed what she was doing.
"Had Lucy talk to Tiffany," said Daria, "Lucy feels Tiffany is stable. Impossible to read what Tiffany's intentions are."
"Can't believe the admiral let her off with a non-judicial," said Stacy.
"Let off with mind numbing boredom, thinking about all the operations all the other SEALs are on that she's missing out of," said Daria, "she's not been let off, and Tiffany getting jailed would be a waste."
"Sure, because what good is a psychopath if you're just going to stick her in a rubber room all day?" asked Jane, "She threatened to kill Stacy, Daria."
"Stacy threatened to kill us numerous times, Jane," replied Daria.
"Yeah, but, ... ... ... She ... ... ... " started Jane. Jane then turned to Stacy asking "Help me here?"
"Okay, well, it's because of ... ... ... Aw crap, I got nothing."
"I think what was handed out was right," said Daria, "gets the point across without backing Tiffany into a corner."
Brittany eventually said "Okay, I'll go with that, her Co is in a much better position to judge her, this happens again I want to go over his head and charge her directly, I still feel like we're adding too many 'last's to the chances we're giving her. Anything else?"
Brittany's phone rang and Brittany picked up, answering the call with "President Taylor."
"We have you guys from another dimension on video line one," said the tower security head.
"Thank you," said Brittany as she operated the controls to put video line one in the main display, turning the microphones on.
The first thing that caught their attention was "Fran Lawrence, you're a Legionnaire in that universe?" asked ambient Daria.
"Yeah, it's great, am I not there too?" asked the other Fran.
"No, you're an X-Man in this one," said ambient Daria, "You helped some asshole trap some of us, but then you helped us escape, we offered you a position, but you turned it down because you felt your actions prior to assisting our escape would just get in the way."
"Damn ... Who are the X-men?" asked the other Fran.
"A team Charles Xavier runs, good people, no formal charter, not officially recognised, but US government let them work, also Charles Xavier handled General Armalin's education before he went Marine," said Daria.
"Reason we made this call," said the other Legion president, "is Daria got her head checked for psychic tampering and she found she had stepped through a time portal."
"Yeah, that would be me, I apparently swapped with your Daria, I didn't realise I had skipped realities too," said ambient Daria, she also pointed out "You're younger too, you also calling from the past in addition to calling from another dimension?"
"Yeah," said the other Daria.
"Yeah, well, polluting the timeline isn't so much considered playing with fire as playing with antimatter," said the ambient Daria.
"We're in different universes, so that shouldn't be a problem," said the other Daria.
"Fair enough," said the ambient Daria.
"So, how are things in your neck of the multiverse?" asked the other Jane.
"We're not overrun with zombies," said ambient Brittany.
"You been to some of the ring bearer universes?" asked the other Tom.
"Me and Mack have," said the ambient Tom.
"Same here," said the other Mack. "You also bone every woman with a pulse there too?"
"Hey," said both the ambient and the other Tom, "That is SO not called for."
"Yes it is," said both the ambient and the other Jane.
"Oh boy," said both the ambient and the other Daria.
"Hey, how come I'm not there?" asked the other Trent.
The ambient Legion looked around. The ambient Stacy then asked "you super powered?"
The other Trent held out his hands and generated an ice "Yes" on them.
"Ours isn't." Said the Ambient Jane. She then looked around the table and asked "Is he?"
"Well, he'd have said wouldn't he?" said the ambient Stacy.
There was a shrug from the ambient Jane.
"Okay, what else?" asked the ambient Daria.
"Where am I?" asked the other Tiffany.
"Ahh, right," said ambient Daria. She then said "In this universe you joined the United States navy, became a Navy SEAL, we had to relegate you to reserve and then ... ... "
Other Tiffany read Daria's look and asked "Killed in action?"
Ambient Daria replied "No, you did end up under investigation for attempted murder, you then got kicked out of the reserve Legion as well, how are things in your reality?"
The other Tiffany looked furious as she asked "I what? ... Well, in my reality I DIDN'T attempt murder, How ... ... ... ?"
"Different Cadre perhaps?" asked the other Daria.
"Could look into it," said the ambient Daria, "Tiffany, who were you teamed with at the USAES?"
"Eileen, Kaliq, Zachary and Katherine. Good people," said the other Tiffany.
"This universe it was Jasmine, Violet, Beth and Nancy," said the ambient Daria.
"That would explain a few things," said the other Tiffany.
"Our Tiffany didn't go into any great detail," said ambient Daria, "She mainly commented that her grades were improving, and it was hard to pick up on anything from a phone conversation from you-"
"Had I been stuck with those clitorises, I'd have stayed withdrawn, Cadre system means group score is a strong consideration, if they helped me, they wouldn't have been very polite about it, they took themselves too seriously," said other Tiffany. She then shook her head commenting "well, I guess if your me can stay an active SEAL, that won't be too bad. "
" ... Yeah," said ambient Daria.
The other Tiffany glared at her and asked "What?"
"Well, you got yourself kind of restricted to base for half a year," said the ambient Daria.
"Anything else?" asked the other Jane.
"Alison's superpowered," said the ambient Jane.
"She darkens your door?" asked the other Jane.
"Literally," said the ambient Jane, "she has this sort of anti-light thing that makes an area dark. She was too old when she applied to be a Legionnaire, so she's not one of us thank god, she's an independant bounty hunter between art projects, she's in court at the moment."
"Honestly, I thought they'd stop," said Alison, "I mean, you're driving, and visibility drops to zero, you'd stop wouldn't you?"
"Yeah," said the prosecuting attorney, "but I'm not on angel dust am I?"
"You drive on angel dust, you don't need a loss in visibility, in fact you'd probably be aiming for people wouldn't you?" asked Alison.
Judge looked at the prosecutor saying "She's got you there."
"She a bit of a whore in your universe too?" asked the other Jane.
"Mmm-hmm," said the ambient Jane.
"What day is it?" asked the ambient Tom.
"First of November," said the other Daria.
"Right, err, Tom, Re. whores, err, you need the spray, and I'm not going any further with these judgemental ... ... well, message ends."
"Right, thanks," said the other Tom, his tone chipped as the pair of them now drew stares.
"Piss off," they both said simultaneously.
"So, anything else?" asked the ambient Brittany.
"Metajammers," said the ambient Daria, "they're everywhere, they shut down superpowers within a radius depending on their power, if you're not training for such conditions, start, soon, very soon."
"Okay, you got your JK11 PFTs?" asked the other Daria.
"JK11?" asked the ambient Daria.
The other Daria's eyes glowed and the ambient Daria nodded saying "Okay, got it, I'll get onto a design guide as soon as we hang up."
"Okay, now that everything?" asked the ambient Brittany.
They all looked at each other.
"No, I think we're done," said the other Legion President.
"Okay then, thanks for calling, we should do it again some time I guess," said the ambient Brittany.
The call then ended.