This would have been the last chapter with better planning *hangs head* but I think I like how everything pulls together after the revisions to the outline. Stay tuned for two more chapters (and a short epilogue)
Thanks for all the site support. (The traffic and likes speaks volumes)
Chapter Twenty-Five — Bring out your Shades
There was something refreshing about being small. Russ sat on the rafters of the studio, watching Negator take his place on the interview stage. Phinneas, or rather Fanny Filcher– a woman better known as Slipstream, shot him an impatient glare. “How long do we have to sit here and play house?”
“Won’t be much longer,” he said shrugging. “We have to follow Lady Nerissa’s plan to the letter remember?”
“Well, piss on plans.” Fanny said, losing her cool. Her image of Phinneas may have been flawless, but her acting was terrible.
It’s hilarious to hear Phinneas of all people say that. No wonder Phinneas has been so quiet during the interview.
Kirin raised a brow at his mirth. He raised a finger to his lips. Negator’s right. They won’t stay patient for long.
Fanny slouched in her chair, looking back at the women’s restroom. “Seriously, how long is she gonna take? We have a show to shoot.”
Kirin squirmed and leaned closer to Russ. “Are you sure this is OK? I’ve never used my magic for somthing like this.”
“Simmer down,” Russ said, rubbing the top of her head. “Julie’s fine. We just need to make the natives restless.”
Negator lost his smile. “Maybe you should go check on her.”
“Are you crazy? I can’t just walk in on her like this.” Fanny gestured to herself.
“Then just knock. If you need to get inside, then turn into an intern or something.”
“Oh. Right.” Fanny’s disguise fell away with a ripple of water, revealing her true form. The Jury was out on what she looked like before Cirrimus got to her, but she favored a simple humanoid form of a translucent woman. She focused and shifted into a slim built brunette woman with pale skin and tired looking eyes. The detail was to intricate to be someone random, it must have been her normal human self.
For a brief moment she was nude, but water shaped and formed a simple set of casual clothes. She finished off the look with a headset and clipboard.
“Alright, Freda. It’s show time.”
She nodded and the two of them flew ahead of Fanny, passing through the upper crack of the women’s restroom. Once inside, Russ waved Kirin into the second stall. They bound Julie Tattle by vines of foliage inside the first stall, a simple enchantment made it appear empty.
Man, I’m really gonna owe her dinner after this.
They closed the second one, and Russ set up a little surprise for Fanny.
The knock at the door was right on time. “Miss Julie? Are you all right in there?”
Thankfully, they saw to it Julie couldn’t hear anything. Kirin cupped her hands to her mouth and responded. “Help me! I’m in here!”
Of course, considering her size it made it sound appropriately muffled.
The door rattled, Russ jammed it, but not too well. He had to make it seem authentic and something any normal human could do. Fanny burst through on the third shove.
“In here!” Kirin said.
Fanny’s shoes clicked on the floor, pausing at the first stall, but walked past. She shoved on the stall door, rattling it.
“Help!” Kirin said. She choked back a giggle.
Fanny peered under the door, boggled by the absence of feet. She forced the door open with a single tug and peered into the empty stall.
“I’m down here,” Kirin said. Fanny raised a brow, peering down at the toilet.
“What the hell?”
Russ zipped around Fanny as Kirin sprang out from under the lip. Fanny gaped, “A Fairy?” He returned to normal size, reared back, and slammed her head into the toilet and hit handle.
Fanny shriek turned into a watery gurgle as she lost control of her form, the souped-up suction of the yanked her in, leaving a splattering mess around the stall.
“Best. Swirlie. Ever.” Russ said.
Kirin approached, doing her best to cover herself. “Will she be OK?”
“Yeah, but by the time she can get free, she’s gonna be pissed.” Russ gave her a thumbs-up. “Now Phinneas will have to play as himself and we can do the last bit of my plan.”
Russ waved her to some lockers. “There’s probably some clothes in there. Dress yourself up as an intern.”
“What’s an intern?”
“You know, cute college girls doing TV stuff for credit? You’ll fit in fine.”
“OK. I’ll do my best.”
Russ handled the other part of her costume. The materialization system of his bracers duplicated a backpack to hide her wings, and a latex mask to hide her face. By the time it finished she found a set of casual clothes that fit her very well.
“You look great.” He gave her an approving nod. “Head up to the control room and let them know Phinneas has gone missing, make sure to be surprised when he’s in the control room.”
“Uh, I don’t know where it is.”
“I have that covered too.” Russ handed her a pair of glasses. “Just follow the directions on the lens.”
She took them and put them on. “Oh, I see words in the air.”
“That means it’s working.” Russ chuckled. “I came up with a script for you to follow, if you get lost, read the words on the screen out loud.”
“Ok,” she looked down, blushing. “Good luck, Micron. I know you’re probably going off to do something dangerous, aren’t you?”
“Yep, but I got this. Once I set my part right, we’ll have lots of back up.” He squeezed her hand. “I promise.”
Russ hurried out of the room, peering around. Negator kept to script, looking impatient at his watch. Kirin did her part perfectly, approaching him and enduring his annoyed shouts.
A bit of a stretch. I don’t typically play the douchey self absorbed jerk– much.
Kirin scurried off to the control room and bought Russ the time he needed. He walked down the hall, but slowed time to work over the finger details. Moving quick wasn’t always about dodging bullets, sometimes it was all about slowing things down.
A familiar chill rolled down his spine– an uneasiness he hadn’t endured for close to a year. He turned to come face to face with the head man himself– Cirrimus.
Crap. What do I do?
Cirrimus, as he did a year ago, took Ray’s form. To be more specific, he was a monochrome facsimile of him. He watched with a blank expression.
Something was missing. There was no impending sense of threat. Cirrimus didn’t look angry, surprised, or annoyed. He was merely observing.
“So… hello,” Russ said. If felt odd talking under tight focus. Doing so strained his throat. After all, he was talking at a hundred-fold speed.
Cirrimus raised a hand. Don’t let me delay you. I simply find your actions curious.
Russ considered this and let time flow naturally. “So you’re not trying to stop me?”
Cirrimus shook his head. “Nerissa and I do not see eye to eye.”
Cripes even his voice sounds like Ray’s. “Then how about you help me?”
“There is no benefit for me to do so. If anything, Nerissa’s actions will speed along my goals.”
“OK, so again. Why are you not stopping me? Not that I’m complaining.”
“Have you forgotten? Time means little to me. In that way, we are very similar.”
“Well, as much as I love small talk, I’m out to foil your minion’s clumsy attempts at taking over the city, with or without you.” Russ hesitated. “Except Negator, he seems like he’s sticking to your guns. Maybe you should give him a raise or something.”
Cirrimus shrugged. “I don’t pay him.”
“Then maybe you should start. Or you could give him a less stupid name. That’s probably better than any paycheck.”
Russ turned to leave. As weird as it seemed, Russ knew Cirrimus wouldn’t rat him out. It just wasn’t his thing. All things considered, if he had been that bad a guy, he’d have spent the last year making an army.
Yet he didn’t.
Russ glanced back to find Cirrimus was gone. I really need to figure out how he does that. Maybe he reads a ton of Batman comics.
He called up the map of the studio, and followed the path of disabled cameras. They lead him to the basement, marked a stockroom for stage equipment. His footsteps echoed through poorly maintained halls laced with the pungent smell of mildew.
The end of the line was a locked room. He scooped up some stray wire and had it open in seconds– one of the skills he kept a secret from Ray. Inside, Karilay, propped against the wall, still as a discarded doll.
Russ swallowed back the lump in his throat and ran a bio scan. She was alive, but there was no brain activity. In short, Kari was in a coma.
Had it been anyone else, Russ would have panicked, but her breathing was steady– unnaturally so. Almost as if she had left a program to take over the work.
“Do you understand now?”
Russ spun around to see Nerissa. She wore an irritating smirk. “The only way she can fight back is to embrace a part of her she wouldn’t dare embrace. MEch has decided to stay like this instead, little more than a doll.
He tapped his comm. No response.
“It won’t help you,” Nerissa said. “Even like this, I can control most of her powers. She answers to me now.”
“Cause she is you,” Russ said. “Why are you doing this? Cirrimus ripped your soul in two. He doesn’t even want you to succeed.”
“Perhaps that is why I want to do this,” she said. “He and I are the same, we are both Shades. It makes me wonder; perhaps even Cirrimus was created from a lesser being. So is it so outlandish that I would transcend him”
“Lady, seriously. If you want to know how world domination ploys work out, read a few comic books. Things will be so much better once you just reconnect with Mech. She really needs her dark bitchy half. Ok, not really.
“The blind are only so because they lack perspective. I’ll make you a better offer. Serve me and I’ll complete your fragmented power. With an appropriate missing half, you can be a true perfect being.”
“I’m quite content with being my loveable imperfect self, thank you.” Russ shrugged. “Now, get to it, join back up with Mech before I make you.”
“All bark, no bite. I have no use for that useless shell. I already have a physical body in mind, one with much more versatile in ability. I need one who relies on her own power rather than tapping into the strength of irrelevant gods.”
“Or perhaps, the Voodoo legacy is exactly why you can’t fully control her,” Russ said. “Some perfect being, you can’t even beat the local flavor.”
“Look lady, play time is over.” Russ punched a few buttons on his arm. “You may think Mech is scared of her otherself? But you have it backwards. It is her greatest trump card and I think you’ve overlooked her best feature.”
“And what is that?”
“Free will, where there should be none.” Russ executed the command, and Kari’s eyes sprung open. “Yeah, see, Mech and I don’t get along. It’s like having an obnoxious big sister. We do have one thing in common though– kicking the ass of self righteous bitches.”
Kari sprung to her feet and her skin glazed over to steel. She extended a hand, sending an electrical pulse through the building.
“Aaand there goes the radio silence.”
“Control, reestablished,” Kari said.
Nerissa backpedaled, wearing a baffled look. “I don’t understand, she’s a machine. I should be able to–”
“Should looks nice on paper lady, but the Macro Corp. works in absolutes.” Russ gestured to Nerissa. “So, what was that special little something you wanted to show Negator, Mech? I think Lady Nerissa would like a demonstration.”
“I’m not afraid of anything you do.”
“Famous last words.”
Mech’s hand spun and opened at the palm, reshaping into a cannon. A ball of dark energy pooled inside, throbbed and blasted outward, tearing through Nerissa’s form. She screamed in her final moments and dissipated to the winds.
Russ raised a brow. “And you’re sure that isn’t fatal?”
“Positive,” Mech said, reshaping her hand. “Though I’m sure it really hurts.”