Courtesy: Part 60

Sean’s face tightened. He took a short breath as if he were about to blow up at her, but instead let out a long breath, finishing with, “Are you sure? Do you know it?”

Amy shook her head slowly, “No. I didn’t absorb him. Another Bloodmaiden was in charge when he got hit with the Bloodspear. So she got more out of him than I did and she doesn’t like answering questions. I don’t have his thoughts, just a whisper of his feelings. He was happy and relieved when he got the order, the way you are when you’ve been worrying about something and now you can finally do something about it.”

Sean looked over at Dayton, then back at Amy, “Couldn’t that have been part of it? The Nine can manipulate your feelings too.”

Amy frowned. Kals spoke before Amy could finish thinking it through, “Yes. We can attach feelings to commands. Especially when you’re talking about groups, manipulating feelings is better than a direct command. I don’t know if  Arete tried to attach that one. I was busy defending myself and it didn’t work on anyone else…”

Sean looked Kals up and down, “I know you’ve been here for the whole fight, but who are you? Did you used to be a Dominator or something?”

Kals shook her head, “We don’t have time to go into who I am and where I come from, but here’s the short version. I was trained as Dominator, but it’s not what I do now. I’m not from Earth. I’m a friend of,” and here she glanced at me and gave a small shake of her head, “the Rocket.”

Sean stared at me, “You have friends from outer space?”

Dayton nodded, “You’re from the ruling class of the Human Ascendancy? That’s amazing. I didn’t think they could come to Earth or even leave the Ascendancy.”

Kals blinked, “How did you know about that?”

“Yeah,” Sean said, “how did you?”

Dayton shrugged, “Stapledon. They lectured on it. It was in the one of the general history courses, but Jody and I got more about it because we were in the track that emphasized espionage skills. Plus, we spent time on the Jay and Kay during our internships. That was ‘must know’ material.”

Even in high school, I’d noticed that Dayton was more than his “star athlete” looks or reputation. I didn’t know how smart he was, but he worked hard.

“Uh-huh,” Kals looked from Dayton to Sean, “Jody’s your friend. You’re not going to want to suspect him, but you need to watch him. Did he start acting differently recently? Does he have new friends? Does he disappear a lot? If he hasn’t changed recently, think back. Was there a time where he changed?”

Dayton and Sean looked at each other, “Look,” Sean turned away for a moment, “we’re already worried about him. He acted weird when we signed with Futuremen Capital, our investors, but he’s been great since then. He’s been better than normal. He’s always had a temper and that hasn’t changed, but he’s hasn’t gotten angry and disappeared as much this year. I haven’t noticed new friends or disappearing or anything.”

Dayton nodded along as Sean spoke, “Right. He’s gotten a little more mature, but that’s it. We were watching Futuremen for anything weird.”

Kals frowned and I heard her through my implant, We might have to fight them after my next question, but then she went on, asking, “When you met with Futuremen, was there ever a time that they got you drunk? Was there a meeting where you know what happened, but when you think about the meeting, you don’t have any images, you just hear the sound of someone’s voice?”

Dayton’s brow furrowed, “No. I don’t think so. Sean?”

Sean shook his head, “No. I’ve always worn a buzzer to those meetings and I made sure everyone else did too.”

Kals held up her hands, “Then I don’t know. We don’t have time for me to give you a full audit, but I should. I’ll see if I can fit it in before I leave.”

Amy looked up and down our row. The National Guardsmen in powered armor had pulled themselves out of the goo. One of them walked down the row toward us, holding his hands in the air.

A male voice came from his PA, “Are all of you okay? We have a medic and we aren’t controlled anymore. If you’re okay, we’re going to withdraw. I’m getting reports that… those things… are falling apart.”

He pointed to one of the mounds. It was wasn’t falling apart—yet—but comparing it to my implant’s memory showed that it was shorter. Unmistakable even to my memory, it was seeping fluid into the row. It wasn’t the only one of the mounds doing that either.

A thin layer of liquid covered the floor in all directions, sometimes becoming puddles.

Switching on my suit’s PA, I asked, “Do you need any help? You’ve got a lot of people.”

The man shook his helmet, “We’ve got enough to get everyone out and more. You’ve got people down.”

“You might want to ask people in the main room, but we’ll be okay,” I said, reasoning that Jenny could discorporate her bodies when she woke up.

I took a quick look at the views from the bots, seeing that the mushroom zombies were still fighting the fey on the streets above us, but they didn’t all fight in an organized way. Some ran into the path of the Duke’s knights screaming, but not trying to attack. Others ran. Still more stared in ahead as if unsure of what to do next.

A few fell over for no good reason.

I checked the cameras of bots in the circle around us. We needed to know if we were in for a fight.

In the open area in the middle of the circle—the shortest way out of here—was empty except for the pool and the boy who’d been our liaison to the sane faction of the mushroom entity.

He raised his head as a chunk of mushroom flesh fell from the ceiling, splashing in the liquid on the floor and breaking into chunks.

The boy pushed himself up.

As I registered that, I heard Alex’s voice through my comm, “Hey everybody, we need to get the fuck out now.

5 thoughts on “Courtesy: Part 60”

  1. The fourth paragraph may need editing.
    ” I don’t know if he Arete tried to attach that one.”

  2. “we need to get the fuck out now.”

    The good news is that his girlfriend is a mass teleporter who is no longer blocked by the fun guy they just killed.


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