So this is 24 of the 25 chapter plan. Looks like it’s gonna be 27. 😉
Chapter Twenty-Four — A Turn of Misfortune
Russ ran into the military caravan on the final stretch to the city. Soldiers hopped from the leading troop carriers and aimed their rifles at him. He stayed calm, guns weren’t dangerous to him. A fired weapon, even silence triggered his heightened focus, regardless if he was the target or not.
He raised his hands. “Hold on there, Joes. There’s been a big misunderstanding. The Macro Corp. is on top of the situation at hand.”
Two of the front soldiers exchanged uneasy glances and one tapped on a comm. at his neck. “Made contact with Micron, orders?”
The soldier fell silent listening to his orders on the other end. He moved to remove his comm. collar, but Russ waved him to stop. “It’s fine, I’ll tap into your signal.”
“Micron?” The familiar voice made Russ smile.
“Kringle. You need to call this off. It’s all a—“
“I’m well aware of what is going on, but their orders stand. Macro Man needs to be taken into custody, dead or alive.”
“Hold on, Cirrimus’ goons are set up in the Television station. You take him in and they have free reign of the city.”
“Those goons are working with us. Sorry.”
Russ scowled. “What? You—“
“Right. We’re working with Cirrimus now. More specifically, we’re working with the woman who calls herself Nerissa. Cooperate while you still can.”
The soldiers raised their guns and primed them.
“”You got to be kidding me,” Russ said, raising his arms. “You realize Cirrimus is trying to take over the world?”
“We realize that Cirrimus has the capacity to make soldiers as strong as the Macro Corp. From where we stand, this is a no brainer. The Macro Corp. are a free agents, easily corrupted and vulnerable. Why settle for the first model if we can upgrade?”
What the hell, Ray was right? Russ paused to consider. “Say, Kringle? You feel strange? Like you’re really focused on one outcome?”
“What does it matter?”
“Are you nearby? Cause, we have a new girl I think you should meet. She might be able to offer a second opinion on this.” Russ moved to punch in information on his arm band, undaunted by the soldiers urging their guns forward.
“Don’t try anything stupid,” the front soldier said.
“If I wanted to try something, I could do it a dozen times and you wouldn’t even notice.” Russ smirked. “Ok, Kringle, I sent you her info and the physical logs of every Corp. member in the last hour. I think you’ll find it very interesting.”
“I got it, but you’re coming with us.”
“No can do, Santa,” Russ said. “I have to back up my boss from the real threat.”
He launched into the air, and out of sight. “If you come at us, we’ll right back. Now that I know Nerissa has gotten to you too, the right answer is crystal clear.”
“You’re making a big mistake, Micron.”
“Maybe, but I trust you enough to do your homework, Kringle. You gave us a chance one, you’ll do it again.” Russ cut the line. Wait a sec. The jamming didn’t affect the military’s communication.
He returned to the television station to find everyone gathered in front of the building. Dave worked at a machine Russ didn’t recognize. “So what’s the plan?”
“They aren’t broadcasting– yet,” Dave said. “If they try to transmit anything, I’ll intercept it right here.”
“What’s the deal with our communications? I could talk with the feds but our frequency isn’t working.”
“You’re probably still black listed, let me see.” Dave stood and brushed off his hands on his pants. He fiddled with his arm panel and frowned. “Weird, I’m not getting anything either. Guess I didn’t notice because we’ve stuck together since Mac came to his senses.”
“But we’re not together. Mech is missing.”
Dave frowned. “So she is. Anyone seen her?”
“Nothing to worry about, she’s probably in shooting position,” Ray said. “Check the roof.”
“On it,” Russ took to the air and made a quick sweep of the roof; he didn’t see any sign of her. He landed on the roof glancing around. A glint of steel caught his eye. Kari’s MSP lay on the rooftop, discarded.
“That’s not good.” Russ approached it and picked it up and turned it in his hand. She wouldn’t be caught dead without this if she could help it. Either that or she doesn’t need it. Both scenarios were terrifying.
He twirled the pistol idly, working through the most likely of scenarios. He doubted they took her captive. It would have looked like a warzone. Also, there was no way she turned traitor. Russ owed her more respect than that.
She’s being controlled. That would explain the comm. being scrambled too.
It made sense. Cirrimus sought to control Ray so it made sense that Nerissa would want to get her nails into Kari. The real question was: how long had Nerissa been in control?
Russ made his way to the edge of the building. “Hey! Freda, come up here a second?”
Kirin peered up at him and nodded, taking to the air without a second thought. She spotted the pistol in his hands and gasped. Russ shushed her. “It’s fine. I’m sure Mech is safe. I just need you to help me with something. You and I are gonna do some reconnaissance.”
“Oh, you mean we should shrink?”
Russ nodded. “I just don’t want to worry Ray. For some reason, Nerissa isn’t being obvious about having her hostage. My guess is she’s not controlling her easily.”
“Oh I get it. You think Ka– err… Mech can be rendered immune from this trial.”
“Exactly. She just needs a little push. If I can help it, I’d like to avoid her going all robot on Cirrimus’ goons. I think that’s what Nerissa is trying to do, back her into a corner and give the military an excuse.”
“So what do we do?”
“We do what Batman would do.”
“I don’t get it.”
Russ sighed. “Of course you wouldn’t get it. We’re gonna get these bozos to turn on each other. Only fair, it’s what they did to us after all.”
“I don’t know how we can do that.”
“There has to be a reason Negator tried to do all this on his own, there’s some tension between them. Let’s find out what, we need to get to Negator and offer our help.”
Kirin nodded, reaching into a pocket and offering him a small set of clothes.
“We really need to find a better way to do this.” Russ held out the clothes and focused his power. He kept his eyes tightly shut waiting for the signal.
“OK. I’m ready,” Kirin said.
The smaller set of clothes were much simpler than the impromptu set she wore moments before, but it suited her more at the same time.
Russ glanced away. “Sorry.”
“For dragging you into this. If I hadn’t screwed up, you wouldn’t be here fighting battles that aren’t yours.”
“If you hadn’t screwed up, I would be in the forest alone.” She put a hand on his arm. “It’s a small price to pay. Besides, they say all things happen for a reason right? Maybe I wouldn’t even be alive if you hadn’t met me.”
“Ha, I’ve cause you nothing but trouble.”
“Well, at the very least. I’d like to think I’ve helped a little bit. Maybe I was supposed to help your human issues get sorted out. I’m really not complaining Russ.”
“It’s Micron in uniform.”
“No one can hear us. Right now I’m talking to my friend, Russ.” She patted his cheek. “’Freda’ might be the one helping you here, but Kirin’s the one rooting for you. Don’t you forget it.”
“Heh, thanks Kirin.”
“And for the record? I sort of liked Leaflet better.”
Russ smirked at that. “You would.”
They flew into the TV Station and kept a low profile. It was pretty easy when they were a tenth the size of a housefly. They took the air ducts to get into the studio, Julie still chatted with Negator, posing as Russ. Negator likely realized who Phinneas was and he looked mad as a hornet when the camera wasn’t on him.
Russ waved Kirin to follow. They landed on Negator’s shoulder. He noticed immediately. What do you want?
“Oh, so you are pissed. I guess you didn’t know about Nerissa?” Russ said, smiling up at him.
He took a moment to answer, as it was his turn to talk about the evidence. He waved at his throat, Julie got the hint.
“We’ll be back after a word from our sponsors,” Julie nodded and he was free.
Negator stood. “I’ll be back. Need to use the little boys room.”
“Take your time, they like running double commercial sets for these exclusives. I could stand to stretch my legs.” She cleared her throat. “Say, Belken. After this, you want to go out and get a bite to eat?”
Negator smiled. “Oh I’d love to. I’ve been a fan of yours for some time. Any excuse to get some private time with you is fine in my book.”
“Is that so?” She said with a catty grin. “I know just the place.”
Russ scowled up at him. “Negs…”
It’s not against the rules. He said directly to Russ’ mind.
He took them into the men’s bathroom, and leaned against the door. Russ and Kirin hovered in front of his face.
“So yes, I am pissed. They came up with this plan without consulting me. Here I thought I had control of the situation, but Phinneas was working with Nerissa the whole time.”
“Maybe you can help us by telling us who she is.”
“You haven’t figured it out? She’s Mech.”
“ What? That’s impossible.”
“Is it?” Negator shrugged. “When she earned the ability to turn into a machine, the half of the soul I’ve learned to tamper with left her completely. That is what Narissa is.”
“Holy crap. So, Mech really is guilty?”
“In a way,” Negator said. “You, Macro Man and Medica are unique in a very specific way. Have you figured it out?”
“The three of you don’t have any signifigant presence in the other side. While Mech, the one you call Mech anyway, doesn’t HAVE a soul in that realm. Your physical forms overwhelm it so much it could effectively be replaced. That’s why Cirrimus wants to ‘merge’ with Macro Man.”
“And if that happens?”
“Cirrimus will be a perfect being. Like me.”
Russ chuckled. “Aren’t we a little full of ourselves?”
“I am serious. I am one of a kind. I can manifest in either realm at will. No one else can do this. I am the first of my kind.”
“So in otherwords, you’re a prototype. Unfinished.”
Negator clenched his jaw.
“Sorry, but we’re in the same boat. Mac and I were Cirrimus’ guinea pigs too, remember? You should be joining us, not fighting us.”
“Time will tell, I suppose. As of right now, I will do anything to stop her. I serve Lord Cirrimus, not her.”
Russ grinned. “Fine by me. I happen to have a plan.”