[Continuity Note: This takes placed after _The Alt.Riders #30_.] [Narrative Note: The election process depicted in this comic bears only as much resemblance to reality as I found out from a two minute conversation with an American colleague, and the rest of it I assumed for dramatic convenient.] ________ ____ _ _____ _ _ ____ _ | | | | | | | | | | | | BLiP | | | | | | -|-- | | o | | | | |--| |--| |---| | | |--~ |--| |--| |--- ---- |#ARES | | | | | | | | | | | \ | | | | | | |___ | | | | | |~~~ | | | | _ | | | | | |~~~ | | ~~~~~~~~ ~ ~ ~ ~~~~ ~ ~ ~~ ~~~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~~~~ ~~~~ ~ ~~~~ [Cover shows a billboard with President Luthor's face on it. And a gunsight targeted on his forehead.] -------------------------------------------------------------------------- THE ALT.RIDERS ELECTION SPECIAL [The following takes place between the hours of 9pm November 1st and 9pm November 2nd in 2004.] *RING RING* "This is Agent Donald-" "Someone is going to kill the President in the next 24 hours." 24:00:00 23:59:59 23:59:58 He clunked the briefcase down on the desk, pausing to glimpse out the window. Night had fallen, the street outside lit by street lamps and store fronts, garish light threw lurid colours on the people waiting. Any minute now, he knew, snapping the catches open. Focusing his attention on the briefcase, he swung the top up to reveal an interior of gleaming black metal and padding foam. Though time was pressing, he gently took each piece of the packaging, caressing each component as he clicked them together, twisting here, slotting there. When he looked out the window again he held in his hand what looked like an ordinary gun with a silencer attached. Looks, as ever, were deceptive. The room wasn't lit, but he had no trouble moving through the darkness to stand by the window. Raising the gun, he tested the sights on it, making sure the infra-red information was being processed as well as visual and quanta-spectral signals. The mass of people caused distortions to start with, but the intelligent software in the gun slowly filtered them out until he had a clean target space. A roar of the crowd further up alerted him to the coming moment. Shaking his head to clear his mind, he peered up the street. The initial honour guard could be seen already, but there would be a few cars yet before the one he was interested in. The next few moment slid past, he kept absolutely silent, and deadly, waiting in the dark. Finally the main limousine came within range, but he didn't spring into action just yet. Better to wait one moment more. Improve the chances. The limo crawled through the street, people cheering, waving, throwing streamers to celebrate the person inside. Whether they cared about the actual person or just the office was irrelevant at the moment, the celebration itself was enough. He lined up the target carefully. He knew he would get only one shot, but that would be enough to end this now. He slowly tightened his finger, the gun displaying vectors and targeting solutions on figures as they entered into the cross-hairs. Finally, he had his target fully centered, and in one forceful motion completed the movement. The bullet shot from the gun, the force of the air before it smashing the window open. It flew through the air, breaking the speed of sound as it traveled the relatively short distance to its goal. In many ways, this was overkill, there was no chance of missing, of failing. The explosion that destroyed the city block, encompassing the room he was in, was merely a collateral incident. 23:22:32 23:22:31 23:22:30 Agent Keifer Curtsy's reflexes were such that he was already picking up the phone before he realized it was ringing. "Curtsy here," he said briefly. "Curtsy, better get into the office. We've had an accident." Curtsy recognized the voice of Directory Tyrone Hillman, but there was none of the usual friendliness. "I've been watching the news, haven't seen anything," Curtsy said. "How bad was the accident?" "We've got until 10 at best." Curtsy glanced at his watched, 20 minutes to go. "And worse, we think there'll be more to come." "I'll be there in ten," Curtsy said, hanging up. "Dad, who was it?" Curtsy looked up to see his daughter entering the room, carrying the bowl of popcorn that was to help them sit through the upcoming events. "Honey, I have to go into work. You'll be all right here?" Honey sighed. "Yes, Dad, I am seventeen, I can take care of myself now." Grabbing his jacket, Curtsy stood, pausing only to kiss his daughter on her forehead. "Anything happens, give me a call. I'll see you when I can." Honey smiled as she fell onto the couch, grabbing the TV remote as she did. Waving goodbye to her dad, she flipped channels until something gory caught her attention. "Cool, splatterfest," she said to herself, and settled down to watch. From that point it was only five minutes before she was kidnapped by the terrorists from Albuquerque. 23:07:01 23:07:00 23:06:59 Curtsy strode into the office of the Counter-Terrorism Unit to see five other people buzzing around desks. His second in command, Elle Neeno (otherwise known as El Nino) was already on the phone arguing with someone. She waved to him, and pointed in the direction of his office, but otherwise kept her attention on the conversation. Curtsy nodded to the other agents, and hurried along and up the stairs to his office which could look out on the entire floor but also provide a degree of privacy. Inside, as expected, was the large presence of Director Hillman, his dark skin showing up strongly in the light brown suit. "Keifer, take a seat," Hillman said, going over to look out over the office floor while Curtsy took his usual chair behind his desk. "Less than an hour ago there was an attack during the Presidential parade." "We said he shouldn't have done that," Curtsy said, knowing that wasn't the real issue here but he couldn't stop himself. Hillman turned briefly enough to offer Curtsy a raised eyebrow. "The President did take your advice, Keifer. He wasn't in the car, a like-a-look was." Hillman paused to give his next statement more gravity. "The entire city block was destroyed. Whoever was doing this was taking no chances." "My god," Curtsy whispered. This wasn't the first terrorist attack, but on such a scale... "What's the President's call on this?" "We think..." Hillman started again. "Just before the attack we received a warning." After a pause, Curtsy prompted. "What kind of warning?" "We think this is an inside job. Whoever wants the President out of the way, they're working alongside us." "That's...that's..." "I know how you feel, Keifer, but we've got work to do. The President feels that we should still go ahead despite this." "Go ahead? With all respect, Ty, has he gone insane?" Hillman shook his head. "He wants to make a statement. Go ahead to spite those that tried this." "But all those people dead, and he wants..." Hillman nodded. "And if he waits there's a chance that worse will happen, or that others will take advantage of this. He wants a public investigation, which we've got underway. But you'll be leading the real investigation." "What's the cover?" "Asian Dawn terrorists. The President plans to make this big deal about outside attacks against Ame.rec.ian interests, even use it to ride into another term in office." "That's cold," Curtsy said. "That's politics," Hillman replied, not exactly denying the accusation. "But in ten hours the polls open on the next Presidential election, and we're going to make sure we keep the President we got." "That's going to take time," Curtsy said. "I need to pull my people in, check contacts...I'll need manpower." "We've got a deadline, the warning said 24 hours. That's 9pm tomorrow." "When the polls close," Curtsy completed. "I'll get onto it. But if there's someone on the inside..." Hillman nodded. "We've asked someone else to step in and help. There'll be an onsite team within the hour." "Onsite team? Of who?" "Of the LNH. They're sending us a crack team of investigators, the Alt.Riders." 22:42:18 22:42:17 22:42:16 Agent strode into the large room that served as the Counter-Terrorism Unit Operating Center, grabbing the first person that came anywhere near him. "Get me a coffee, black, five sugars," he ordered, before pushing the person away. Striding over to look at the large computer screens that had been set up to display important information, he announced, "I want a full update of your latest plans, and full counter-measures available." There failed to be an immediate response other than shock, but Agent stood there, hands on his hips, quite prepared to wait. Behind him, not quite as forthcoming with their presence, was Morph, Dva and Missy. It's not that they were embarrassed, it was more they just felt like melting into the floor rather than be associated with the first entrant. Elle Neeno was the first to move, and came over to Agent. "Have you been helped?" she asked. "We're the Alt.Riders," Agent replied. "I'm sure you're expecting us. Now that we're here, we'll be in charge." "I don't think so." Neeno glanced at her watched. "You were supposed to be here over half-an-hour ago." "It's nearly midnight. We weren't planning on being called in on an assassination attempt. Some of us weren't so easy to reach." "Well, quite..." "But you, on the other hand, should have been planning for just that. What happened earlier?" "One of the President's like-a-looks was taking his place in the final parade. Someone blew up a city block just to get at him." "And now, what's the President's current situation?" "He's in the White House, and he's staying there until this is over." "I want one of my people in there. Morph, you're up." Morph stepped forwards, somewhat hesitantly. "You're not in charge here," Neeno said. "Agent Keifer Curtsy is." "And where is he?" Neeno paused. "At the moment, trying to find his daughter. She was kidnapped by Albuquerque terrorists. I'll call him now and let him know the *advisory* group from the LNH is here, and about your request." "It's not a request, it will happen." Agent trailed after Neeno, leaving Morph, Dva and Missy to themselves. "It's so nice to see everything so well organized," Morph muttered, looking up at the computer screens. Currently some were showing news channels, which were now covering the explosion and the aftermath, including the President's decision to go ahead with the election. Other screens were flicking through information about terrorist organizations, and still other screens were displaying the President's planned itinerary over the next day. Missy looked over the three banks of computers, wondering if she might be able to access them. "We here to help?" "More or less," said Morph, looking over at Agent arguing. "I've sure you'll be able to help," a voice put in, and they turned to see a man holding out his hand. After an uncertain moment, Morph reached out and shook it. "Hi, Al Madeira, third in command." "I'm Morph, this is Missy, Dva, and that's Agent over there." "I'm sure El Nino can sort him out." "I'm not so sure about that..." started Morph, but broke off as Agent came back over to them. "Okay, we've reached a compromise. We're strictly an advisory group and we can make requests at best," he said. "Right. It's great to see the give and take of personal dynamics in action," Morph put in. "And the first request we've had has been okayed. Morph, you're on your way to the White House. You'll be liaising with the President directly." Any further comments died on Morph's tongue. "Me? The President? Wouldn't you be better...?" "Probably, but you're up. On your way. We're here to make sure nothing happens to the President unless it's okay by us." Agent beamed. "What could go wrong with that?" 21:32:12 21:32:11 21:32:10 "Something's gone wrong." "What?" "The Alt.Riders. They're here." "How?" "Someone called the LNH, and they got sent." "Make sure they keep out of the way. Get them outside if possible." "I'll do what I can, but-" "Just make it happen." 19:13:57 19:13:56 19:13:55 Elle Neeno walked over to the Alt.Riders. "Agent Curtsy's on his way back. Apparently his daughter managed to free herself, and we're sending someone else to pick her up." Focusing on Dva, she added. "And there's a phone call for you." Dva looked puzzled, but went to the phone Madeira indicated and picked it up. "Hello?" There was silence from Dva, then "Where?" and later "When?". Putting the phone done, he turned to the others. "Someone has information. Wants to meet." "Who?" Agent asked. Dva shrugged. "Worth following up?" "Sure. Get over there right away," Agent commanded. "I'll check with Agent Curtsy," Neeno put in. "Maybe he could meet you there." Agent rolled his eyes. "Of course. Heaven forfend the idea of us doing anything on our own." "Exactly," she replied. 18:22:59 18:22:58 18:22:57 Morph looked at the high ceiling. He had seen it in plenty of movies, but the real place had a grandness to it that couldn't be portrayed on film. And it was very white. "Glad you're here," Special Agent Three said, pumping his hand again. "Couldn't do this without you. Now, I've here to help you out with anything you need. Let's go see the security arrangements, you'll like them, I'm sure you will. Come on." Guess that's appreciating the White House over with, Morph thought as he was abruptly dragged off on a tour. 17:02:46 17:02:45 17:02:44 Agent Curtsy looked around the dingy garage, uncertain of why exactly he was here. "You sure he said to come here?" Curtsy questioned. Dva nodded. "To a garage?" "Garages can be useful places," said a British-accented voice, "Useful for fixing things that are broken." Curtsy peered towards the back of the garage, where the voice had come from. "Are you saying something's wrong?" "Very much so." There was a brief flare of light, an exhalation of smoke, then the sound of a severe coughing smoke. "Okay, that's not going to work." Dva considered the situation. "Bicycle Repair Lad?" Still coughing, BRL stepped into the light. "All right, it's a fair cop," he said. "But let's try to keep this on the q.t. eh? Just call me Deep Foot." "Why?" Curtsy asked. "Look, never mind, gov. Let's just get on with this. There are important things about the President that you need to know." "Such as?" "He hasn't always been the President." This revelation wasn't met with the loudest exclamations of surprise. Or any exclamations of surprise at all, loud or otherwise. "That's right. He was elected four years ago," Curtsy said in a calm tone, trying to get BRL excited. "No, that's not what I mean. Strike a light. I mean, he hasn't always been the President that was elected in the last election." "Well, there was some question about Flo.rec.da, but that was dealt with quickly enough." "No!" BRL said emphatically. "There's no easy way to say this. It was a retcon device. He retconned himself into being the President." This time the pause was more significant, although in Curtsy's case he was trying to work out what exactly BRL was talking about. "You have proof?" Dva asked. "Just what I know, gov'ner," BRL replied. "He called it a Cosmic Reset Button, and after he pressed it he was President and only I remembered what it was like before." [This was revealed in _Limp-Asparagus Lad #45_ - Footnote Girl.] "So...you saying that President Luthor changed history to become the President? You're insane!" Curtsy said. "It's possible," Dva said, a serious expression on his face, which then became thoughtful. "But what of it?" "What do you mean?" Bicycle Repair Lad said. "He changed history!" "But only you and he know this, yes?" "Yes." "Then what has that to do with this? If no-one else knows this, it can't have any bearing on this current assassination attempt." "Well, er..." said BRL hesitantly. "Possibly, possibly. But, at worst, he interfered with the democratic process. Yeah..." "If that is true," started Curtsy. "It is!" "We'll need proof," Curtsy continued. "Do you have any?" "Um, no, just what I saw, like I said." Curtsy shrugged. "Then we can't do anything." "What if he does it again?" "If he had that sort of power, I doubt he'd be worried by any assassination attempt." "Well, it is hard to retcon yourself back to life once you've been killed," BRL admitted. "Unless you're Retcon Lad," Dva added. "All this sounds too fantastic to me," said Curtsy, glancing at his watch. "I've got to get back to the CTU. We need to start organizing for the President's media breakfast." "What about the retcon?" BRL asked. Dva shrugged. "Sorry." As the pair walked away, BRL called after them, "Don't trust him! He's up to something!" 16:21:01 16:21:00 16:20:59 "Now here's one of our fine paintings, also of one of our previous Presidents," Special Agent Three continued, holding Morph tightly. "That's, um, great, but can we get on with this? I am supposed to be liaising with the President, and I would like to meet him at some point." "Yeah, he's great isn't he? No, I'm afraid that's never gonna happen. Internal policy. Never gets too near superheroes. Not sure why, don't care, but you're not getting near him, and that's that. Oh, and he's not here right now." "What?....what?....what?" "Yeah, breakfast thing, out preparing for it, exciting stuff I'm sure, but not for the likes of you nor me. Well, you anyway." "But I've got to see him!" "Life or death matter?" "Er, quite." "Don't you worry none, son, as long as I'm around, you won't get within swinging distance of him." 15:37:33 15:37:32 15:37:31 Having escaped her escort, Honey decided that rather than return home, she might go see what her boyfriend was up to. Which was a good idea up to when the drug cartel busted in. 13:43:21 13:43:20 13:43:19 Elle Neeno put her head in her hands, trying to rub the tiredness from her eyes with the palm of her hands. She'd basically been up since yesterday morning, catching only brief snatches of sleep over the night in one of the interrogation/conference rooms out back. She scrolled through lists of information, eyes glazing over as she tried to make sense of reports from the explosion last night. "All right people, who do we have at the media breakfast?" Keifer Curtsy's voice broke her limited concentration and she looked up to see him striding about without any sign that he was running on as little sleep as she was. Bastard. "The President's Security Service are all over it," Al Madeira volunteered. "But no-one from our team?" "No, sir." "I'll go then," Curtsy said, grabbing up his jacket. "One moment." Neeno turned her head to see the strange alien creature, Missy, go over to Curtsy. "Take this. Scan." She passed something to Curtsy, who nodded and tucked it away. Curtsy was about to leave again, when he turned and headed over to Neeno's desk. "How you going, Elle?" he asked quietly. "Fine, Keifer," she replied wearily. "You look great," he smiled. She returned the smile. "Thanks. But I'm good for a while yet." Curtsy gave a brief look over to Missy, Dva and Agent, before lowering his voice further. "I'm worried about something." Elle raised her eyebrow at him. "I think there's a superpower involved here." Elle considered this. "Well, we do have the LNH here," she pointed out. "One of their own talked to us before, spinning some strange tale about how President Luthor organized some kind of change to history to make himself President." "What? That's absurd." "I know, but what if there are other super whackoes out there with worse ideas? One of them might be behind all this. Look into who would have the power for this, and keep an eye on them." Elle gave another look towards the Alt.Riders. "If there are superpowers involved...what exactly can we do about it?" "That...is a very good question." 13:00:00 12:59:59 12:59:58 "...with today being a lovely day, we expect a good turn out as the polls open for the 2004 Presidential Elections..." 11:49:37 11:49:36 11:49:35 Keifer Curtsy looked around the large room the media breakfast was being held in. One entire wall was taken up with television cameras and monitors, all pointed towards the head of the long table. Various journalists were already seated, all awaiting the entrance of President Luthor himself. A quiet beep caught his attention, and he glanced at his pockets wondering what it was, before remembering the device Missy had given him. Pulling it out, it was like a PDA, although the screen was some kind of radar reading. Another quiet beep sounded, as a light wave passed over the screen, presumably reflecting an actual scan the device was taking. "Excuse me, sir, but what is that?" Curtsy looked to see Special Agent Seven standing next to him, peering at the device. "Just a scanner, Agent," Curtsy replied, extracting his badge at the same time. "Official CTU business." "Very good, sir. Just checking." "Ladies and gentlemen of the press," a Presidential aide announced. "President Luthor will be here in a moment. If you'll all take your seats, the agenda will be for him to come in, we'll serve the meal, and then you may ask questions." Giving Luthor a perfect excuse to delay answering questions while he ate food, Curtsy smiled to himself. Some political tricks never changed. A moment later, the door opened to admit the President, but Curtsy's eye was caught by the device in his hand. Was it just his imagination or were the light sweeps a little brighter now? If so, what did that mean? Amidst the clatter of breakfast being served, Curtsy moved about carefully, checking the scanner regularly. Yes, it was getting brighter, he thought. Or was it? It was hard to be definite. As he neared the camera equipment, the beep became louder. Not enough to disturb anyone else, but definitely enough to concern Curtsy. Glancing around, and seeing the conference about to get underway, Curtsy considered his options. Did he have enough evidence to call this off? And what was his evidence? A beeping device he presumed scanned for dangerous assassination attempts? Drawing closer to the cameras, Curtsy became aware of a low hum, just at the edge of hearing. It wasn't from the scanner, but he couldn't quite place it. The scanner screen beeped urgently, and a large part of it became white. Curtsy stared at it for a moment, before realizing that the white part corresponded to the side of the room containing the cameras. Whirling to the cameras, he searched, but couldn't see anything obvious, and yet... "Get out! Get out now!" Curtsy was a little surprised to realize that he was the one shouting. Confusion erupted, but the Secret Service agents acted immediately, surrounding the President, and quickly escorting him from the room. "There's a bomb in the cameras!" Actually, Curtsy didn't entirely know if that was true, but it had the desired effects. People started running, Curtsy pushing them along as he tried to get to an exit. The explosion's blast wave, heat and sound hit his body all at once, slamming him through the door he was nearly through, and tossing him across the hallway. The inside media room became an inferno of fire and noise, his senses shutting down as Curtsy reeled from the impact, hearing nothing, barely seeing the bright light around him. His head hurt, but he managed to raise it enough to see that the scanner device was unharmed, although for some reason blinking "Boom!" 10:01:10 10:01:09 10:01:08 Honey breathed a sigh of relief, having escaped the drug cartel cross fire that had erupted. Now all she had to do was cross over the hill and she was safe. Perhaps she might be able to rest at the cabin up ahead. It's not like there were loner weirdos out here or anything. 09:15:15 09:15:14 09:15:13 "Agent, I've been looking for you." "Oh?" Agent turned from where he had been watching Missy work on the computers to see Al Madeira next to him. "Look," said Madeira, glancing around. "I didn't want to say anything before, but I'm worried about something." "Yes?" "I'm not sure if everyone in this office can be trusted." "How do you mean?" "Well, what if not everyone here was exactly what she seemed?" Agent narrowed his eyes. "Do you have someone in mind?" "I don't like to say in here, people have ears. But I've been gathering evidence back at my house. I'd like you to take a look. If there's any weight to this, you'd be the best person to act on it." Agent looked around the room. "Do I have to ask permission to leave first?" he asked, a slight smile on his lips. "Let's go, and see if anyone notices." Carefully, Agent and Madeira made their way out of the office. 08:58:33 08:58:32 08:58:31 Elle Neeno took a deep breath before entering the private office of Keifer Curtsy. She winced as she saw the banged up but still determined form of her boss sitting in his chair, then turned and nodded her head to Director Hillman. "Keifer, I've been looking into that situation you discussed," she said as Curtsy turned his attention to her. "It's all right, Elle, I've already informed Tyrone of my thoughts." "What have you found out?" Hillman asked. "It looks like you were right. But you're not going to like this." "Take us through it," Curtsy said firmly. "Reports from the explosion last night have finished coming through. They sifted through the wreckage, and found a room suspiciously clean of damage." "How do you mean?" "It's as if the explosion didn't effect it, just happened...around it." "And?" "I've been looking at superpowers to see who could do such a thing, and there were more than a few." "I hope you have more than just a list of suspect superpowers, Elle," Hillman put it. Neeno hesitated a moment before continuing. "And then there was the attack this morning. We've found out that it was a power overload that made the cameras explode." "A power overload? But how is that possible?" "Something at the scene overrode the power circuits, forced them to overload. A quite sophisticated device..." "You're not saying..." Curtsy's voice trailed off. "What?" Hillman asked. "We had that scanner analyzed. As far as we can tell, it's what caused the overload." "So Missy..." "And Dva. His powers would enable him to silence the explosion and allow him to survive in that room." "So the Alt.Riders are the assassins," Curtsy said in a flat voice, rising to look through his window onto the floor below. "But why are they here if they are the ones...Where's Agent?" "He should be..." Neeno followed Curtsy to the window. "Is there a problem?" Hillman asked, a dangerous note in his voice. "There might be, Tyrone. I'll get a team onto looking for Agent. Elle, detain Dva and Missy in separate interrogation rooms right now." "Keifer...Morph is in the White House." 07:29:04 07:29:03 07:29:02 "Bald Man has entered the building. Be on alert. We have received a Code 17 regarding operative known as Morph. Bald Man is on threat alert." "Roger, Eight. Three, report location." "This is Four. I have found Three. He was unconscious, stashed in a cupboard. His earpiece is missing." "We have a breach. Lock down Bald Man and start Charlie Sweep." Five prowled down the corridor, eyes peeled for any sign of danger. However, they all knew their target was a shapeshifter, and unfortunately they hadn't time to issue the broadbeam stun rays yet. Something distracted him, and he turned to see a blue vase pour off the pedestal and onto the ground. "I have him, he's in Corridor Ba-" Something in the goo whipped out and Five was down. Ten and Twelve split up, taking different corridors. They were near Five's last known position, so they would be the next targets. A flash of blue dropped from the ceiling, covering Ten's head, putting him down, but not before he got a wild shot off. Twelve backtracked, keeping her gun out, but didn't see the wall reaching out for her until too late. In the antechamber outside the President's rooms, agents paused expectantly. Their chances weren't high against a superpower, but this was their business. A thump from outside made them point their guns in the direction of the entrance, their backs to the secure room beyond. In that room President Luthor stood, flanked by agents, but not bothered in the slightest by what was happening. He had his own defenses. However, he still flinched when gunfire exploded in the room beyond. Bullets thumped into walls, and probably people, as shots were fired in the vain hope of hitting a fast moving target. The door was solid hardstuffium, not as strong as strongstuffium, but close. However, it shook visibly as something thumped into it. "Sir, perhaps you should leave," One said, nodding her head towards the emergency transporter. "Nonsense. This is my office, and I'm not leaving it." The door exploded into splinters, agents firing into the blue mist that was revealed. Tendrils shot out of the mist, knocking into agents, sending them flying. One stood in front of the President, ready to give her life for his. However, she never got the chance as a large hand shot out, picked her up, and threw her out of a nearby window. She had been the last obstacle, so Hexadecimal Luthor was left to face the congealing form of Morph. "What do you think killing me will gain?" Luthor sneered. Morph lashed out, knocking Luthor backwards onto his desk. Morph pounced, landing over Luthor. Something rose behind his back, and Morph reached back to grab a knife. With cold eyes, Morph reached up high, ready to plunge the blade into Luthor's chest. A low power hum sounded, and Morph's body erupted into tiny pieces, showering about the room. In the midst of the sudden rainfall, Luthor sat up, a small sonic weapon in his hand. Reaching over to his intercom, Luthor kept one eye on Morph's pieces, which were slowly quivering, then running across the floor like liquid metal to recombine. "Sally, send in a nitro team. Put Morph on ice." Releasing the intercom button, Luthor's eyes fell on the blade. Reaching down, he picked it up, and saw a tag hanging off the end of the handle. Turning it around in his hands, his eyes widened as he saw the text: "Pure History Only." 06:59:23 06:59:22 06:59:21 "No, look, I have to go. No, it's a very nice gun collection. I'll just let myself out shall I? Sure, call me later, no problem." Honey quickly made her way through the trees towards the highway. Would this never be over? 06:12:14 06:12:13 06:12:12 "Has he said anything?" Keifer Curtsy asked, looking at the monitor feed. "Not a word," Elle Neeno replied. "But that's not unusual." Al Madeira stuck his head in. "Sir, we've received word from the President's office that Morph is secure and non-communicating." "Right, I'll go talk to him. Perhaps I can get something out of him." "I'll come with you," Director Hillman said. Dva didn't look up as Curtsy and Hillman entered the room, but continued to stare down at the table top. "Tell us about it," Curtsy said. No reply. "We know you were responsible for the attack last night on the President." No reply. "We have proof." "What?" Dva looked up at Curtsy. "What proof?" Curtsy shared a look with Hillman, then slid reports onto the table. "This is from the attack. The room the attacker was in was barely damaged. Consistent with someone who can silence explosions, amongst other things." "We also have proof that Missy was involved in the attack this morning." "Not to mention the attack by Morph a few hours ago." Dva's mouth worked for a moment, then eventually, "That wasn't me." "Evidence says otherwise." "I...but..." "Tell us," Curtsy pressed. "I think you should be talking to me." Hillman and Curtsy took a step back, unable to believe their eyes for a moment. Up to a moment ago, they'd been taking to a sullen fair-skinned man with dark hair, but now... "Call me Marsha. It's a long story," she said. "Oh...I'd heard about...but..." "It's not any easier to believe for me," Marsha replied. "But we get by." "What do you know about this?" Hillman asked. Marsha shot him a hostile look that neither Hillman nor Curtsy could quite work out. "Brainwashing," she said. "Unfortunately, not our first encounter with it." "Brainwashing?" "It activated a while ago, kept Peter in control until you could interfere with his mind. Giving him proof was enough for him to wonder if something had happened that made him responsible. As I said, not our first experience with it." "To what end?" "To kill the President." "But you weren't effected?" Marsha shook her head. "No, but if Peter, Missy and Morph were, I think it happened earlier this year. When we were kidnapped by Bennington." "Bennington?" Curtsy questioned. "Crime boss, or some such," Marsha shrugged. "Was trying out some equipment on us. Got to Peter, not me." [This happened in _The Alt.Riders #22_ - Footnote Girl.] "Do you know why?" Marsha shook her head. "Not a clue. But I think I can help." "How?" "Most likely, no-one knows I'm not brainwashed. Maybe if we can find Bennington, I might be able to make him think I'm under the influence and can get some information out of him." "Sounds like a long shot," Hillman said. "Wasn't asking your opinion," Marsha shot at him. "We'll look into it," said Curtsy, heading for the door. "So you'll let me out of here then?" "I think it's safest if you stay here for now," Hillman said. "Sod yourself," Marsha replied. Hillman lent towards her. "Just what is your problem?" Marsha stared into his eyes as she replied. "You." At that point, Hillman got it. This wasn't the first time he'd seen this reaction to someone with his skin colour, although this was the first time it was from someone with the same skin colour. He drew back, feeling disturbed at this response from someone who, by all rights, shuold have been sympathetic. "Come on," said Curtsy. "She can stay here while we follow up this Bennington lead." Marsha watched them leave, eyes flashing. "Better run, n*gg*r boy," she muttered. 04:35:23 04:35:22 04:35:21 "Al, what's the latest situation on Agent?" Al looked up at Elle, hovering over his desk. "Haven't heard anything," he replied. "I doubt the President has anything to worry about from him." "Just keep on it, will you?" "Sure thing." Elle Neeno returned to her own desk, and logged onto her computer to find an email waiting. It contained a video attachment of security camera footage. She had asked one of the agents to look into what footage they had of Agent's presence in the CTU office, and now she finally got a response. She opened the file and was about to call out for Madeira to join her when the image that came up held her tongue. 04:02:47 04:02:46 04:02:45 "Al, can I have a word?" Al raised his head at Curtsy's voice. "Sure." "We've got orders to move Dva and Missy offsite so others can talk to them, find out what they know. Organize it, will you? Someone should be here to pick them up in about half-an-hour or so." Al smiled. "No problem." 03:27:39 03:27:38 03:27:37 Al Madeira entered the room where Marsha turned to face him. Holding his finger to his lips, he walked over to the monitor camera and unplugged it. "Right, we've got to get you out of here." "Why?" Marsha said. "State Troopers will be here in a minute to escort you offsite. I've only just managed to get away myself, so we'll have to be quick." "What's the problem? It's not as if I know anything." Al peeked out through the door. "We can't take that risk. We'll get Missy, then get you out of here. As far as anyone knows, you've made a miraculous escape." "So I can make another attempt on the President? Pretty pointless, considering we've had no luck so far." "We've got to get him before he can retcon himself into Presidency again." "You know about that?" "We found out the truth a while ago. This can't be allowed to continue. Who knows what effects he's had on history? Manipulating any events to his own end. Any other President would be preferable to that." "They've successfully got me, Missy and Morph. That only leaves Agent, but what are you expecting him to do?" "He's a last extreme measure. Come on," Al said, stepping into the corridor. "I don't think so." Rounding the corner, gun out and pointing directly at Al, Curtsy said, "We trusted you, Al." "You think that was a mistake?" Al said, realizing quickly that the game was up. "You trusted the President. That was the biggest mistake of all." "Who else is involved?" Al kept silent. "What is Agent going to do?" Silence was the reply again. "Take him away." Al paled as El Nino descended on him, full force. 02:02:02 02:02:01 02:02:00 "Damn!" Curtsy slammed the phone down. "Nothing!" Neeno looked at Curtsy in shared frustration. "No sign of Agent." "Extreme measure. Could be anything." "They've pretty much demonstrated that they'll go to any lengths." "What's the schedule for tonight?" "The President's staying at the White House for the rest of the night until the close of the polls." "So an extreme measure would be..." At the same time, they said "Destroy the White House!" 01:35:56 01:35:55 01:35:54 Agent sat patiently. It wasn't quite time yet, but when it was... Agent turned the modified bazooka over in his hands. From his vantage point, it would be a long strike to the White House, but one he was sure his missile could make. His instructions were to wait until the last moment, give the others a chance to try for a smaller scale attack. But if he had to, he would act... 01:17:47 01:17:46 01:17:45 "Satellite lock! Radiation trace. Washington monument." "He's at the Washington monument?" Curtsy asked. "I think...he's on the top of it!" 00:46:40 00:46:39 00:46:38 Keifer Curtsy stood near the bottom of the Washington monument, looking upwards 555 feet. Night had fallen and the monument glowed an eerie white under the moonlight. It was currently closed for renovations, but that wasn't going to stop an officer of the Counter-Terrorism Unit. The lift rose quickly, and Curtsy drew his gun in readiness. It wouldn't be the most subtle entrance, but it was the best he could manage. The lift slowed, and the doors opened, the light spilling out into the dark foyer beyond. Curtsy dodged out into the foyer and jumped back, but saw nothing. Retrieving his torch from his pocket, he stepped out into the dark, flicking the light on. However, it was too late to save himself from an attack crashing into him from the side, punching into his ribs. Curtsy and his attacker flew one way, the gun and torch another, and they thumped heavily to the ground. Clasping his hands together, Curtsy smacked down onto the body, raising a grunt, and making the other person back off a little. Curtsy struck out a wild punch, landing on the soft part of the throat. Gagging noises erupted as the figure backed off, and as the lift doors closed the final sliver of light lit up the features of Agent before he fell backwards, swallowed by the surrounding blackness. Curtsy wheezed, cradling his ribs briefly, staggering to his feet. He was able to find the torch easily enough, as it was on, and a subsequent quick sweep of the floor revealed his gun. However, that still left Agent to find. Moving cautiously, Curtsy explored about him. The torch revealed two rooms off from this one, and Curtsy moved towards the one he thought Agent disappeared towards. As he entered it, a silhouette passed in front of the window, and Curtsy reflexively fired two rounds in the direction of it. The gun barrel flashes revealed the figure of Agent, who was ducking from the shots, but otherwise unharmed. By the time he brought the torch around, Agent had disappeared again, but something else flashed in the reflected torchlight. Crossing over to the window, Curtsy crouched down and examined the weapon he found. It was basically a bazooka, although there were certain features enhanced on it that Curtsy could tell added to the deadliness of it. However, now that he had the weapon, that made him even more an urgent target than he was already. Swinging the torch around quickly, there was no sign of Agent, but Curtsy knew him to be nearby. Keeping the torch actively moving, Curtsy considered his options. He had to take the risk of putting his gun away so he could grab the bazooka and still see around him, but that's when Agent had to attack. Slowly, Curtsy replaced the gun in his holster, keep his hand near it while taking a final visual sweep. As he then reached for the bazooka, a sudden movement headed towards him. Barely grasping the front end of the bazooka, he stood, but the torch revealed Agent standing in front of him. With his hand on the trigger. "Move," Agent hissed. "This is not for you." Curtsy swallowed. "You have been brainwashed. You are not in control of your actions. Put the gun down." "I will fire if I have to." Curtsy jumped to one side, lashing out with his foot. His abrupt movement caught Agent by surprise, flinging him to one side, the bazooka fouling his balance. Curtsy jumped on top of him, landing several hard punches, but not enough to put Agent out. A sudden thrust threw Curtsy away, and Agent reared up, blocking out the window and casting a final shadow over Curtsy. Rather than fire, Agent spun around, thrusting the bazooka through the window enough to break the glass. Pointing it out, he pulled at the trigger. Which is when Curtsy crashed into him, the momentum knocking Agent's hand away from the trigger, the bazooka away from Agent. And Agent out the window. Curtsy just managed to catch himself on the windowsill, and peered down into the hideous drop below. The thing to catch his eye was the far spiraling shape of the bazooka as it was caught by the law of gravity. The second thing was a shape hanging onto the side of the monument. Grabbing his torch, Curtsy shone the light down to see Agent staring back up at him, holding on by only one hand which had nearby buried itself in the side of the building. "Get me up," Agent growled. "I'm not sure..." "I don't give a f**k about the President. Get me up, or you'll be the one I kill." "Welcome back, Agent." 00:03:14 00:03:13 00:03:12 Keifer settled down in front of the television set, Honey on the couch beside him. She had been picked up for vagrancy, but Keifer had been able to get her off without any more trouble. She grabbed a handful of popcorn. "So they're in jail?" "For a long time. No doubt the LNH has lawyers that can prove that the brainwashing has worn off, or something. And Marsha's helping would also count in their favour, but they won't be out any time soon." "So democracy is safe again," Honey teased. "So, who did you vote for?" "Ummm..." Keifer looked at his watch. How much longer did he have to vote? "As the polls close," the TV announcer said, "We'll be right back after these messages with the final results of the polls, and then we'll announce the next President of the Loon.ited States of Ame.rec.a." 00:00:02 00:00:01 00:00:00 -------------------------------------------------------------------------- CREDITS: The Alt.Riders belong to me. The Counter-Terrorism Unit belongs to Ame.rec.a (and can be considered Public Domain). Hexadecimal Luthor was created by Chris Hare, but is been considered Public Domain. NOTES: Blame Saxon. Simple as that. When I wrote AR #22 I didn't have any particular person in mind as the target. However, I then remembered the set up Saxon did in LAL #45 which he wasn't going to pay off any time soon, so decided to hook the two together. Which lead to me needing to pay AR #22 off somehow. And the events of November 2nd proved too good to pass up.Back to the Index.