Coming into the last few days of NaNo, I want to flesh out the chapters a bit before posting them. So the last few chapters will be dragged out a bit (sorry!)
The good news is I’m 1000 words away from done with NaNo!
Chapter Twenty-Six — Comeuppance
With Kari back, the building was now under their control. After reverting to her human form, she chatted with Ray over the comm. Typically, smiles from her were forced, or malicious in a snarky sort of way. The one she wore now left him feeling good.
“TF, we’ll have a really interesting show for the military in less than an hour.”
“We might not have an hour,” Dave said. “There not sending anyone to talk, so I can’t help but think they’re sending people to talk.”
“Can we hold them off without hurting anyone?”
“Probably, these aren’t civilians. Micron, you do realize why this is a problem? Once they realize we’re pulling our punches, they’ll exploit it. Considering the hardware they’re throwing at us, we have an hour tops.
“Then I guess it’s a good thing I’m used to being in a hurry.” Russ clicked off his comm. and waved Kari closer.”
“You think you could put up a red herring for me? We need to keep the element of surprise, so if you could communicate with Cirrimus’ goons and–“
“Let me stop you right there. They aren’t working with Nerissa.”
“She’s been manipulating them from the sidelines. The elemental lords wouldn’t listen to her, because they only answer to Cirrimus. She may be as powerful, but she has no pull with them. That’s why she used Phinneas.”
“Oh, I get it. Each of them have a personal grudge against us. So they probably saw Phinneas’ campaign as a sweet deal. With him, they could do this without breaking Cirrimus’ code. But how did you figure this out?”
“Nerissa is me,” Mech said. “She made a stupid mistake thinking I was neutralized, but I was just watching. True, I couldn’t do anything, but that’s the joy of having a team right?”
“Right,” Russ said, blushing. “Sorry again for doubting you.”
“Apologize when we live through this. We’re still up a creek until we expose Phinneas for the phoney he is. Plus, you’re relying on Negator. The instant he realizes Nerissa has been taken out, he’ll turn on you.”
Russ chuckled. “Oh, I’m counting on it. I have one last trick up my sleeve for him. A special surprise.”
“Looking forward to it.” Mech flexed her hand, I was saving my last surprise for him. Too bad it takes me more than a week to store up that much spiritual energy. I’m not a natural like Vuhdis.”
“You leave it to me. I have some spirit of my own.”
Russ tuned to Kirin’s uplink, it gave him a nice view of the control room. As expected, Frederick Filcher looked on edge. The earth golem of the Elemental Lords was notoriously protective of his sister.
He sent Kirin a message– delivered across the HUD of her glasses. Relax, I’m on my way. Nod if Phinneas is on his way to the studio.
He kept Kirin’s view in picture-in-picture window in his peripheral vision and made his way to the studio. Large two-way mirrors made it a cinch to move close enough to keep close watch. The bug placed on Negator gave Russ ears on the situation as well. He clicked it on, savoring Phinneas’ unease.
“What do you mean she vanished?”
Negator shrugged. “I’m as baffled as you, you’d think she’d be back by now. Just replace Miss Tattle and we can worry about the details later. We can only stall the interview for so long.”
“Unacceptable,” Phinneas said. “We need to improvise. This strikes me as a desperate attempt to silence the press, let’s point some fingers.”
Negator frowned, right on cue. “That would also be lying.”
“It’s close enough to the truth. We don’t have any choice.”
Good ol, Negs. Way to be convincing.
“Belken, listen to reason. If we stop this now both of our reputations will be dashed.”
“No need to be hasty,” Negator said. “We just need to investigate. IF we find evidence they tried to tamper with the interview, then that’s more in our favor.”
Phinneas sighed. “Fine, I’ll check again. No harm in being thorough.”
“You want me to come with you?”
“No need.” He raised a protesting hand. “I wouldn’t want to bother you.”
Man, this is just falling into place too damn well. Russ got into position working through what exactly he’d do to him. Nothing too bad. Maybe a wedgie?
Phinneas approached the doorway when a burst of water erupted from the floor between them. Russ snapped into his focus late, the latent threat of a water main break hadn’t been enough, but the realization of what caused it certainly did.
Russ retreated out of sight, ducking around the corner. Slipstream reformed, scowling.
“What’s the meaning of this?” Phinneas flinched at the praying water. “What happened?”
“That Microscopic brat is what happened,” Fanny said. “Enough of me stayed behind to hear him gloat.”
“Well we don’t have time to hold grudges. Miss Tattle has gone missing. Why don’t you use your abilities to turn into her and– ”
She grabbed Phinneas by the collar. “Now listen here, fancy pants. Nobody flushes me down a damned toilet and lives to tell the tale. Your stupid show can wait.”
“A-all right. I’m sorry.”
She let him go. “We should start in the ladies room. I bet that’s where Tattle’s being held.”
“Well, that would certainly fix the key problem. If he captured her, that is certainly villain material.”
“Huh? It is isn’t it.” Fanny smirked. “Let’s go be ha hero then.”
Russ kept out of sight in a nearby closet. I could shrink, but it would blow Kirin’s cover. Once they were out of sight, Russ raised a hand to his comm.
“Houston, we have a problem.”
Kari sighed into the comm. “Let me guess, they know you’re here.”
“Wow you’d think you had psychic powers or something– oh wait.”
“No problem. I’ll make a diversion. You just worry about getting your hands on Phinneas. I’ll update the others.”
“Thanks.” Russ peered out of the closet and followed close behind. Fanny was the most receptive of the elemental Lords and he had to be careful she didn’t pull the same trick twice. Like Dave, she could leave a small portion of herself behind. Right now, he counted on her being too pissed to think straight.
Atomic swirlies had that effect on people.
Because Phinneas was a normal person, he couldn’t exactly snatch him away at subsonic speeds. He had to keep it subtle.
Russ tapped his comm. “Hey, Negs, can you send him a text? I need him to step off somewhere discreet.”
He didn’t answer, instead Phinneas’ phone chirped. “Ah, it’s Belken. I just need a moment.”
Wait. This is dangerous. Slipstream knows it’s Negator.
In a bout of good luck, she half ignored him. “Whatever, make it fast.”
–> TO BE CONTINUED!