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An ODDS story
By Matthew 'Badger' Rossi
I do not stir.
The frost makes a flower,
The dew makes a star,
The dead bell,
The dead bell.
Somebody's done for.
Sylvia Plath, DEATH & CO.
So, how do you want to spend the rest of your life?
Mike Lewitz, the Birmingham Jew, didn't have a good answer for that question.
He certainly wasn't subtle about his dissatisfaction. He knew damn well that he wasn't going to go back to study for his bar, and that was most certainly that: neither his nation nor he fancied a legal trade, and his horrified parents weren't around to complain about it.
Course not. They got squashed by aliens.
Mike sat across from the Earl's Court tube stop, eating an onion and cheese pasty and hating just about everyone he saw. The sun was peering down from cold clouds, making him wonder about snow. He hated wondering about snow. He hated snow, now.
The pasty tasted like greasy american food, and he didn't find it much of a stretch to hate it, too. But he'd be damned if he'd try their sausage ones. And the stand was a good place to sit and watch, better than everyplace else except that ridiculous Taco Bell that no one but Australians went into. Not being an Australian, Mike decided to make do. He chewed slowly and thought about his current job.
The job he had by merit of someone he didn't know getting his guts ripped open. And by having his mother and father die in Trafalgar Square...and inside his head, while he was sitting near the Queen's House in Edinburgh and looking up at Arthur's Seat and the Crags. Boom. Technicolor explosions began going off, and Mike saw one of the lions reduced to stone dust...and his father to red smoke. He barely had time, that day, to gag before he heard his mother's scream and saw the hideous blue blast of light.
He'd gone off like a firecracker...literally felt like he was dying as white light ripped out of his whole body, like a flash from a large bomb, and the sound of metal ripping in half seemed to flood the whole area, and then he passed out.
When he woke up, he was in Holyrood Hospital. And he was drafted.
Of course, by the time I was up and about, the aliens were gone, weren't they? No killing Anime Klingons for me, oh my no. He finished the noixsome pasty and began unwrapping the other one when he saw the ones he was looking for come out of the station. His memory, always good, cycled through the photographs he'd been shown.
Andy Foster looks the same...Meredith 'I pronounce it Syngeon' St. John's grown a beard and shaved his head, but that's him...and Dafyd Crenmore looks about the same, a bit thinner. That's them, all right. He looked down at the large satchel they were carrying. I suppose that's our goody. Time to get on.
He stood up and followed them. His bosses had told him where they'd be going, so he simply walked up Earl's Court past the Black Dragon and the Waterstones, looking like a tourist checking the neighborhood out, keeping the three of them in sight until they took a right towards Cromwell Road.
Down an alley.
Tailormade for Mike.
He let them get half-way down it before clearing his throat. Loud. The kind of loud half-way between painful and shouting. They stopped and turned, Dafyd's hand going for his side.
"Here's where I tell you that you're under arrest. You can come quietly now...or you can come under conditions of tumult. But you'll come anyway."
Dafyd Cranmore began to draw his gun, and Andy Foster reached for one as well, and Mike simply raised his hand and let himself go.
The flash of light was bright and white and took their sight. Despite himself, that old Lewis Carrol line kept crawling into his mind. Or was it C.S. Lewis? He could never remember. However, it was everything of all that, so bright that Mike could actually see his bones through his hand, his flesh glowing red like a fireplace poker. Somehow, the light never bothered him any.
It was extraordinarily painful for the three gentlemen down the alleyway. Cranmore felt like he was having an epileptic seizure as the pain from his overloaded optic nerve sent him dropping head-first into the nearby brick wall. Foster and St. John weren't so drastically affected, but they were quite blind. That didn't keep Foster from drawing his gun.
Mike considered doing nothing, letting him shoot. Maybe he'll hit me. Or...maybe he'll hit someone else. Can't have that. He raised his left hand and pointed it at Foster's gun arm.
The sound was focused this time, loud but tolerable...but it shook the gun right out of Foster's hand, and shook the clip right out of the gun, and the slide right off of the barrel...and half of the screws as well. Mike knew from experience that the man had just probably lost a layer of skin when the gun turned into a power sander. He didn't care especially, instead walking down the alley at a fast but unhurried pace. Before St. John could get his wits together enough to do anything, Mike simply slammed him by the back of his head into the brick wall, using the moves they'd spent the last month drilling into him. Not the kind of stuff you'd expect from a Barrister. Of course, if they weren't blind and nauseated, it'd be a different fight altogether.
It didn't take him long after that to prostrate the three of them and cuff them together. Then he opened up the satchel and looked inside. A portable cooler, the kind people used to keep their drinks warm at Football games...or, in this case, to keep the heart and kidneys of a man who'd disappeared from outside Embankment late yesterday nice and cold. Mike didn't know if the organs'd still be good at this point. They sure as hell weren't going to do Mr. Pulver much good, what with him being dead and all.
He waited for the police to arrive and sort this whole thing out. Just another day in the Omega Defense Division.
"So, why'd you waste my time with that, Fusion? Can I sit down?"
"Feel free." The older man looked rather busy...the stress of taking over Selkie's job in the hot seat, no doubt. Mike wondered for the hundreth time just who these people were, with their little nicknames and their far-too-public offices and their PR bullshit. Mike was a probational member...and as such, he hadn't been cleared to know anybody's real name. It seemed tremendously stupid to him, but there he was. "And the reason I wasted your time with it was that it made us look good to the Bobby on the street, it may have saved a life or two, and it was a good way to test you. As much as any way is a good way."
"What did you expect? Oh, you've got powers? Welcome aboard! You may not care overmuch for your own safety...which bothers me...but at least you displayed concern for the public weal. And since those three were armed...with handguns, no less...there was reason for concern."
"That was a little strange. I mean, where would they get them?"
"Hard to say. The pistol you shook apart is a Glock 17, fairly common on the black market...the other was an old H&K. Of course, both are wiped clean of identifying marks. We've got people trying to break the three of them, and hopefully once they talk we can go in and put a stop to this." Fusion rubbed the bridge of his nose with his hand, his left resting on the desk. "Probably myself, Boleskine and you."
"And then what? Do I get to join this jolly pirate clubhouse?"
"Exactly that. You may not respect it much, but remember one thing." Fusion's voice went as cold as a mortician's. "The man you're replacing died to save the world. Don't disrespect that in my presence...ever."
Mike, despite every desire to remain aloof that ran in him, nodded his head in compliance.
"Good." Fusion leaned back in his chair. "Get some rest. I'll let you know when it's time to move."
Mike left the office, annoyed with himself for feeling chagrin in front of the older man...not that he knew how old Fusion was. He looked older. Alien Invasions and leadership responsibilities will do that to you.
Eventually he ended up in the bare-walled cubicle he'd been assigned since his arrival. He had no idea where the others lived...he hadn't been interested enough in them to find out, really. Not that he assumed they were bad people, but he didn't want to get to know them. For their sakes as much as his own.
He walked to the dresser and peeled his black shirt off, tossing it to the side, and stripped himself methodically, all the while staring at the only picture he had in the room...the one of his 18th birthday party, with himself and his mother and father, and his sister Rebecca, who he still thought of as 'Back-a' in his head, from when she was two and trying to learn how to say her name. Next month was her 18th, and he hadn't called her since he'd gotten out of the hospital. What was he going to say to her?
She was his sister. He loved her. He just couldn't bear the thoughts that seeing her made him think.
Naked, he dropped onto his bed and lay there, sleeping not at all.
After two hours, he got up and got dressed.
Ten minutes after that, Fusion showed up at his door. He knocked. Mike was glad of that, as if he'd been naked, it might have been awkward.
"Glad to see you awake. We've got a lead on our friends from Earl's Court."
"So it's time to move?"
"Yes. But Boleskine's not available, and neither is Ravebuster..."
"So it'll be just the two of us." Mike pulled on his old Aviator's jacket, feeling remarkably less stylish than Fusion, who managed to make a subdued jumpsuit look...well, better than it should, really. He always felt a bit like Ringo Starr around the others, or maybe that poor bastard who tried to take Sid Vicious' place.
"And we should get moving. There's not a lot of time."
"I was just thinking the opposite, actually."
Mike looked around the inside of the building in disbelief. There were several German warplanes, WWII vintage, hanging on wires over his head.
"The Imperial War Museum?"
"Bedlam itself." Fusion whispered. "They were going to meet the persons who supplied them with the guns and the name of their victim here."
"It wasn't random?"
"Not according to St. John. Apparently Mr. Pulver has the proper qualities to make him the perfect donor for someone who paid the right people at the right hospitals to keep an eye out for one. Mr. Pulver had his arm broken last week...and from there we get to here. The satchel they had is a near-perfect cryogenic unit...so the heart and kidney's probably would have stayed good for quite some time."
"Still, this is all a touch...Machiavellian. I mean, how rare is this person's blood type?"
"Universal donor. Still, I quite agree with you..." Fusion's word's died out as an alien irridescence came rumbling out, light so strange and dark it was almost sound, and Fusion covered his eyes with his hands. "Blood of Christ!"
"Not that I'd know, but I don't think that's it," Mike replied, staring into the glow. Unlike Fusion, he could see just fine, but what he saw confused him; the inside of an old Russian tank was pulsating, and then, two figures came stepping out of the cramped interior. One was a gaunt man with long hair, dressed in a victorian fashion, and the other a hulking brute of a man covered in scars. "And, not to sound like a complete ass, but I think Dracula and Frankenstein just got out of that tank."
Before Fusion could come up with a suitable response, Mike bent his hearing, pulling sound from where they were to where he was, listening in.
"I shouldn't even be talking to you, Hunyadi. The Vitalongae..."
"Never mind them for now: You're under no obligation to capture me for them, and I have your unfortunate descendant's heart and kidneys coming along. You do need a new pair..." The voice was a smooth as an Oxford-educated MP and twice as menacing, and it was coming from the fop. Mike whispered to Fusion, careful to try and keep them from hearing him.
"They just copped to it."
"Excellent. Then, shall we?"
"I suppose we shall." Mike stood up from his hiding place as Fusion hit a switch, and the museum lit up. The two men by the APC whirled in surprised disbelief, then both smiled like Jehova's Witnesses who've just gotten you to take a copy of the Watchtower. "I'm afraid you two gentlemen are under arrest. Hands up and come quietly, and there'll be no trouble."
"He said hands up, my friend." The one Mike had heard called Hunyadi nodded to the Patchwork Man. "Why don't you oblige him?"
Faster than Mike would have believed possible, the big freak bent and locked his hands around the treads of the tank. Then he stood up...and the tank went up in the air above his head. Then he bent, all that discordant muscle rippling at once, and the tank went flying straight at Mike.
Who stood there, staring at it, hardly able to believe that he was going to die at the hands of the Frankenstein Monster and the Russian Army, sort of. Fear, and relief, rooted his feet to the spot.
Fusion knocked him aside, sending him sprawling to the floor as a sickening crunch of metal and stone cast polished fragments past his face. The two of them lay there, amazed for a second, as the big scarred man took two huge steps, covering nearly the length of the floor between them.
Fusion cut loose, sending twin blasts of plasma lancing out of his fists, catching the very air on fire. The big man leapt to the side, much quicker than Mike would have believed possible. Not that he was paying attention. His light-sensitive eyes were tracking the other man, the fop, as he circled in the darkness, almost invisible in the shadows cast by the lighting system. Fusion fired again, and Mike could hear the big man leap to the side, avoiding the blasts again, which struck a troop transport and melted the metal skin. The fop was preparing to leap, and Mike didn't want to take the chance that he could leap as far as his ugly buddy.
He raised his right hand and pointed it directly at the sneering face that thought itself hidden in darkness.
"Say 'Hail Hail Rock'n'roll' and watch the canary."
The blast of light was as intense as Mike could make it, rendering his skin and bones invisible in carnelian radiance. The long haired man hissed as his pupils, red and distorted already, failed to adjust to the sudden spike. The scarred man was also caught off guard and failed to jump in time as Fusion, who already knew what Mike could do and was looking away, caught him square on with a bolt of plasma. It set his stitches on fire and knocked him back into the display for next months' 'Monty in El Alamein' exhibit.
The fop wiped at his eyes, which were streaming some unhealthy looking fluid, and staggered back towards the crash-site of the tank. Mike tried to close on him.
The tips of the man's fingers brushed his neck.
And he wanted to scream. Only the buckling of his knees saved him, as he pitched face-first into the floor and the fop attempted to close his fist around Mike's windpipe. Stars and fire were erupting in Mike's face, and he could barely hear the hissed voice as it struck at the core of him.
"Hunyadi. Remember the name, boy."
Mike heard Fusion blasting at the hulking brute in the corner, too far away to help him. He heard the hissing of the strange man standing over him, ready to kill him if his sight returned. He felt the cold floor under his cheek and the strange tinny beating of his heart, and only one thought occurred to him.
The fop took one more staggering step back, and it was that step that saved Mike's life, bringing the stranger's leg in contact with the tank sticking front-first from the floor. Mike could only watch, barely able to get his face and chest off of the floor, as the man scuttled into the tank like a bug and the hideous light shone forth, even as he heard metal tear, the bellowing of the scarred man, he turned his head.
Fusion blasted the guy wires holding up a Messerschmidtt ME-101, and the antique plane dropped, crashing on top of the burned but still conscious patchwork being. Mike looked over at Fusion, who looked over at him and shrugged.
"Have I mentioned yet that we don't ever have a typical case?"
"I believe...you might have...at that." Mike struggled to his feet. "Look at this place."
"Yes. It really lived up to its press tonight, at that." Fusion walked up and helped Mike stand. "Other one got away? We'll have Boleskine take a look, see what he can turn up. You feeling all right?"
"A bit sick. His touch is apparently...well, just not good."
"Good to know. Well, Whiteout, welcome to the ODDs."
Mike felt the sweat clammy on his face. He resolved to call Back-a in the morning and tell her a discreetly expurgated...as in, no Frankenstein's...version of his life.
"Well, at least now you can all tell me your names and explain to me what's going on with English Rose and Boleskine."
"If I knew, I'd be the mystic, Micheal." Fusion helped him to the door. "I'm busy waiting to hear the costs for tonights little fracas."
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