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Discussion in 'Survival Reading Room' started by RVM45, Dec 24, 2007.

  1. RVM45

    RVM45 Monkey+++

    This is the first seven chapters of one of my books. Patience, no action to speal of in the first chapter.


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    My brother has no eyes.

    My twin brother Bucky was born without eyes. Not just blind, mind you; but totally without eyes- not even empty sockets where eyes should go. Between the cheekbone and the brow line- not that he had any brows- was a slightly convex smoothness; like his forehead had somehow become plastic; and had flowed evenly down both sides of his nose.

    When they first sent me to the mental hospital; I stated my position once. I stated it clearly. I stated it firmly. I even fielded a few questions; to be sure we had an understanding. I didn’t speak five hundred words to the therapists over the next several years. They were operating under the assumption that I was a cracked pot. I recognized neither their competence; nor their authority to determine my sanity. Playing along with irrational people only encourages their delusions.

    Let me state, for the record, that I did not kill my father or my mother. I loved them. Bucky is the one who killed them- for what reason; I do not know. In all probability, for motives that would be incomprehensible to anyone but Bucky. I don’t know how he managed to do it. I don’t know why; but he did it.

    My brother has no eyes. That statement came up a lot in the ensuing months. There was a journal in my own handwriting. It was almost a textbook example of a mind slipping into the abyss of paranoia and madness. I didn’t write it. Somehow Bucky contrived to forge it. I can’t imagine how; because my brother has no eyes; but I know that he did. Maybe, just maybe- they were willing to concede- just for the sake of argument- a blind man could contrive to poison his parents; but how could have a blind man have fabricated one tenth of the evidence that pointed to me? And because I stuck to my Guns; and insisted Bucky was guilty; I ended up in a mental hospital for the criminally insane; instead of on death row; or in a prison somewhere.

    Let me tell a little bit about myself; and Bucky. We’re mutants. When we were born; and they got a good long look at Bucky; they ordered a chromosome test. We have the same DNA. We both have an extra Y chromosome- not that unusual; in and of itself; but both also have another extra chromosome; about a third as big as a normal human chromosome; bent into a ring- no beginning; no ending. Father didn’t want the two of us- particularly Bucky- to become sideshow attractions; and human guinea pigs. So when a well-funded private lab offered to help keep our situation confidential; pay all medical expenses- with plenty extra money thrown in; in exchange for reasonable access to study us occasionally; he gratefully accepted.

    I can’t tell you the company’s name. I was a child; and when my parents discussed it with us; they always left out some key details; lest one of us let something slip. Don’t remember precisely where they took us. Tell you the truth; the subject of the company was of no great interest to me; at that time. I do know that when we turned thirteen; the company and my father had a falling out. He took his savings; and moved us back into Kentucky; where he said we had plenty of kinfolk to take our part; if it came to that.

    Bucky and I shared exceptional hearing. To put it into perspective; a dog can hear about four times as well as a human- four times the volume gain; and just as important- four times the frequency discrimination. To understand the greater frequency discrimination; imagine humans hear in “black and white”. Dogs hear in “color”. (They also hear some slightly higher frequencies; but they’re not especially sensitive to those frequencies; so it’s a minor side issue.) Dogs are four-by-four. We’re about three-by-three; can hear the entire canine spectrum; and in the range well above canine; we have a couple of narrow ranges with very high gain.

    They say that a regular dog smells about two hundred times as well as a human; a Bloodhound three hundred; and a domestic cat twenty. Bucky and me rate twenty-four; with five times the ordinary human sense of taste. Our sense of feel; balance; and nerve impulse speed are somewhat better than the best ordinary human’s. I can also sense magnetic North; though weakly. Bucky’s sense of magnetic fields was sharp enough to qualify as a sense in its own right; though by his accounts; it was more than a bit vague.

    My eyesight is noticeably better than twenty-twenty; and at night, I have a bit over two and a half times the light gathering power of a human. To put that into perspective; a cat has eleven times a man’s light gathering ability; and a dog, about eight. My brother has no eyes.
    Brain, brains, both our brains are a wee bit larger than normal. The one anomaly that I share with Bucky; is our corpus callosum has grown; until it amounts to a small third brain lobe. It runs along the medial brain fissure; somewhat thicker than a hotdog. We both have total recall; or I did; until multiple sessions with electroshock; and we test off the scale on any known intelligence tests. And we were both coached by experts; on how to largely conceal our true potential; on the public school tests.

    My brother has no eyes. Do you know what lies behind that exceptionally thick frontal plate? He has two smaller auxiliary brains where his eyes should be. They’re about midway between a normal human eye; and a tennis ball in size. Each is connected to the main brain; by a nerve as thick as the spinal chord of a pig; where an optic nerve should be. The two nerves connect in a plexus bigger than a rat’s brain; before continuing on to the brain; crossing over in the process. There’s a whole network of spaghetti-sized nerves; running through channels of bone; connecting the two eyeball brains; and providing extra pathways to the main brain. I can’t imagine how Bucky perceives the world; anymore than you could truly understand my mental processes; with my extra brain lobe; and I can’t fully comprehend a normal human’s worldview; since I’ve never been a normal human.

    Of course, I couldn’t prove any of this. It does kinda sound like demented raving; doesn’t it? No records exist to document my claims. I can’t even tell you the name of the company; or organization- or whatever; put us through all those elaborate tests; X-rays; MRIs; CAT Scans; ultrasound; etc.; etc. Or if records exist; which I’m reasonably sure that they do- hidden away somewhere; they weren’t where they did me any good. For a very brief time; it looked like my attorney might get a court order to scan Bucky’s skull; but the judge finally ruled against us. So I ended up in the looney bin.

    The first few months were hard. The pumped me full of antipsychotics; to try to “cure” me of my “delusions”. They tried hard to get me to speak to the counselors; though I stubbornly sat mute. There were courses of electroshock; insulin shock; hydrotherapy; and measured doses of medicinal psychedelics. After awhile; they gave up and warehoused me. Then the only time that I got any therapy; it was a de facto form of punishment; generally for fighting.

    I didn’t speak to the other clients much. If pressed, I’d tell them that my brother had no eyes; and walk away. That discouraged all but the most determined. The fact that I had trained in a half dozen martial arts since childhood; and had been kicked about by life ‘till I was downright mean; won me a reputation as a man to leave alone. Still, there’s always someone wants to put it to the test. I did twelve years like that; doing the Thorazine shuffle; letting myself go; getting relatively soft- though still strong and agile enough to put out an eye; or squash a testicle when the situation arose. Learning how to handle sitting or standing; doing nothing for hours on end; and letting time wash over me; like I was a smooth pebble; at the bottom of a crystal clear; cool mountain stream; and being constantly; though slowly; polished even smoother.

    Then on my thirtieth birthday; I seriously asked myself if I wanted to spend the rest of my life that way. It was a hard decision. I’d been there since seventeen. I could easily have spaced the rest of my life away. But if I did; no one would avenge my parents. No one would make Bucky suffer for what he had done. No one would be able to stand against the evil machinations of my brother. I had realized, thinking long and hard about it; over the years; that Bucky’s agenda had to be bigger than committing a single double murder; and framing his twin brother for it. No, Bucky’s unquantifiable genius; and his sociopathic tendencies brooded ill for all mankind.

    It was to take me three more years; working my body back into shape; trying to heal burnt neural pathways- in as much as possible; and studying the set-up; coming up with a plan; and waiting for the right moment to spring it.


  2. RVM45

    RVM45 Monkey+++

    Chapter Two
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    He insisted on being called Mister Jenkins. I avoided any contest of wills; by simply failing to address him at all. He was a big brawling brute of a man; who thought that because he was bigger; stronger than most men; and had trouble controlling his temper; that he was tough. He carried an old-fashioned style kosh in his right hip pocket- a seven-inch long; black leather sack; filled with the finest grade of powdered lead. The way that it would hang flaccidly out of his hand; when he was getting ready to use it on some poor neurotic; made me want to suggest that he get some Cialis for it; but I restrained myself. I could tell that he didn’t have much sense of humor.

    Of course the kosh was against regulations; but who cared? The clients might have objected; but who would take their word for it? Obviously they were phantasizing. Some of them could phantasize hard enough to give themselves multiple concussions. Administration didn’t care. It was hard to find staff; and they were more into running a tight ship; than they were into arbitrary restrictions on the methods; or justice either, for that matter.

    I waited until almost bedtime. I got close enough to Mister Jenkins; to throw a Styrofoam cupful of my urine on him. Typical neurotic behavior- except as a general rule; even the really bent ones know to leave killers like Mister Jenkins well enough alone. It was a combination of instinct; and memories of past brutalities; inflicted on them; or upon others within their ken.

    He wasn’t even particularly angry. It was just that now he had a tedious; but mildly enjoyable task to perform- beating me half to death; or all the way; for all anyone cared; if that’s the way it turned out. It had been a long time since I’d had a proper dance. Jenkins wouldn’t be too skilled a partner; but I could still turn it into a workmanlike performance. Today Jenkins would be the client.
    I concentrated on trying to look very spaced; and just a wee bit apprehensive; as he barked orders at the other guards; to clear out all the other clients. He wanted them all out of the dayroom; and the clients all snug in their beds; before he got started good. I could see him licking his lips in anticipation. I could hear the first strains of the song “Walking on Broken Glass” running through my mind. I believe that’s a harpsichord they play at the beginning. I loved the video; because when they pull Annie Lennox away from the fight; and throw her on the floor; she’s trying to crawl and claw her way back to her rival. That, for me, is the spirit of the warrior summed up perfectly; in one brief image.

    He came swinging the kosh at me; like my head was a pumpkin on a tee; and he wanted a home run. I stepped back; grabbed his right arm as his momentum pulled him off balance; and threw him to the floor. I’d broken his right arm at the elbow; before he’d fully realized that he’d been thrown. I could see a dark stain spreading across the crotch of his white uniform as he wet himself. I had a similar arm bar on his left arm in about two racing heartbeats.

    I immediately broke his little finger- partly to get his attention; partly as insurance. Assuming that somehow he managed to escape; which was highly unlikely- to say the least- he’d have a broken right arm; and the grip largely spoiled in his left hand due to a mangled pinky.

    My room was on the third floor; and I’d watched him come in. I knew which truck was his. I knew he came in wearing street clothes; so I knew that he changed into the white uniform somewhere. I needed the codes for the doors; the location of the changing room; his locker number; and the combination- and anything else about the place that I could sweat out of him. I dislocated his ring finger at the knuckle joint; the first time he hesitated. I dislocated it at the second joint the second time he balked. I didn’t think that I could get enough leverage to dislocate the third joint one-handed; so I was prepared to move on to the next finger if it proved necessary. It wasn’t. I’d told him that if he lied; I’d be back to take it out on him; though in all probability a good lie would result in me getting caught; I’d thrown the fear of God into him; and he told me the truth.
    His screams wouldn’t cause any complications. Everyone would think it was me screaming. I broke his left arm; and I let him try to do the backstroke across the waxed floor for three long heartbeats; in honor of all the helpless clients he’d serviced over the years. Then I grabbed his head; and broke his neck. What could they do, even if they caught me? I was legally insane after all.

    I’d picked Jenkins, partly because I knew that his clothes would fit me; though somewhat loosely. I changed into his threads as quickly as possible. There was a big Buck knife on the belt; and a tiny little Case skinner in the right-hand pocket. There was a huge wad of bills in the trucker style billfold; but I didn’t take the time to count them. I walked through the gate without being challenged; and climbed into Jenkins’ truck- a jacked-up four-wheel drive. Lo and behold, there was a Road-Warrior style sawed-off twenty gauge; along with a half-dozen rounds of magnum number three buck; all in an oversized pistol rug. I guess Jenkins thought he was relatively immune to ATF trouble; since he was a law. Maybe it was official issue; or maybe he had paper on it. I didn’t know; or care.

    All I knew was that my brother has no eyes; and since I’d already committed a murder that night; it hardly made any sense to get too bent out of shape over an NFA violation. Anyway, I was legally insane. Five miles down the road; I noticed an Army surplus store. A few minutes later; I’d swapped some of Jenkins dough for a backpack; poncho; liner; wool blanket; Kabar; and a few other minimal camping supplies, along with plenty twenty gauge shells. I was tempted to climb back into Jenkins’ truck; but they might have discovered my escape by now. The big four-wheeler was just too easy to spot. I waited ‘till there was no traffic; and headed into the thicket behind the surplus store. I wasn’t out of town yet; but I kept in the shadows; faded into the ground when I heard traffic; and worked my way outside the city limits.

    I hadn’t laid eyes on Bucky since my trial. I had little interest in having any casual interactions with him. Nonetheless, he’d pulled some sort of strings to get me transferred to a facility in Central Michigan. He claimed to be concerned about my welfare. I think it was because the facility made much more liberal use of electroshock and hallucinogens that was De Rigueur nowadays. He may also have figured that if I ever escaped; I’d have to travel that much farther to get to Kentucky; where I knew the terrain; had kinfolk; and could access some of the extensive system of caches our father had left. Never mentioned it; but the old man was a die-hard Survivalist.


  3. RVM45

    RVM45 Monkey+++

    Chapter Three
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    I had no idea how long it would take them to find Jenkins’ body; and conclude that I’d done the dirty deed. It could be hours; but to be cautious; I allowed myself a half hour- then say another hour to find Jenkins’ truck. I assumed they’d interview everyone in the small shopping center; because that’s what I would do. If they weren’t bright enough to do that; then Protein for me. They would. They’d find out that I’d purchased some camping gear; and a few groceries; and it wouldn’t take Sherlock Holmes to figure out that I had taken to the woods. The big question was whether they’d bring in Bloodhounds; and how long it would take to get them on my trail. Overall, figure three to four hours. Of course I might hope that they wouldn’t devote many resources to pursuing me; but it wasn’t a very realistic hope.

    I took three Caffeine capsules- Vivarins; four Aspirins; and ate a large Snickers bar; and washed it all down with a twenty-ounce coke. I wished for some Benzedrine; but the Caffeine would have to do. I changed into the Camouflage BDUs- long johns; black pants; woodland green shirt; desert brown field jacket; and cold weather cap. In the woods; brown is actually a better Camo than green; particularly in winter- all the dead leaves; tree trunks; branches; dirt. I added a pair of wool socks; and donned a pair of Corcoran jump boots; with Dr Shoal’s pads; and plenty Gold Bond. It would have been better to have boots already broken in; but that’s the way it was. The sugar and the Caffeine were coursing through my veins; and speeding my heart rate; and neural impulses; before I’d gone much more than a mile.

    My underwear and socks; and Jenkins’ outwear- that I’d worn briefly; were wadded into a big ball; and bound tight with paracord. When I got to the Railroad; I contrived to drag the ball of clothing somewhat to one side of me. Forget television. They weren’t going to turn a Bloodhound loose on my trail; like for a coon hunt. They’d keep the hounds leashed. If you can move faster than the handler; you can loose the hound. One method to contribute to that worthy aspiration; is to force the dog and handler to take the long way around- through the briars and sticker bushes. Nonetheless, I couldn’t afford to devote a lot of time to being hard to track.

    I discarded the bundle within a mile. I walked another mile, walking on the rail to leave no ground trail. It was one hundred and thirty-nine pound rail (per yard). That meant the ball of the rail was something close to four inches wide. I could walk on it fairly easily; without it slowing me down too much. I wanted to go left; so I made three false starts to the left; over the next mile; only going twenty or thirty yards into the bush each time. Then I laid a bit longer trail to the right; and dumped a sock filled with black pepper; and spread beaucoup pepper all around. I’d read that black pepper wouldn’t slow a good hound down very much. Still, it might slow him down some. Every delay was Protein for me. Finally, after another half mile; I went left and meant it. Dried blood mixed with Cocaine is said to be a potent and temporary spoiler of Bloodhound’s abilities. I couldn’t say- never had occasion to find out.

    It was possible to make better time; when I wasn’t balancing on the rail. After about another hour; it started to steadily drizzle freezing rain that eventually became sleet. It was miserable weather; but good for throwing hounds off my trail. I sent up a silent prayer of thanksgiving. I put on my poncho and liner; and continued to move through the darkness. I kept hearing that old song about a fox on the run; running through my head. I never could catch all the lyrics to that song; but it made me picture a warrior fox; fleeing from a score or more foxhounds- lost in that strange psychedelic ecstasy that only comes to a warrior; and then, only when he treads the razor’s edge between life and death. When I’d heard the song before; I’d only imagined that state of consciousness. Now I was living it.

    When the sky started to lighten; I cast about for a good place to camp for the day. I put up a low; but waterproof tarpaulin lean-to; and camouflaged it with plenty of brush. I opened a couple of my coffee cans; and poured the coffee out onto the ground. It was wasteful; but I needed the cans; and I hadn’t had time to go dumpster diving. Working with my Kabar; a small pair of snips; and a pair of needle nose pliers; I quickly turned the larger coffee can into a hobo stove; and threaded a thin length of piano wire through the other; so I could use it for a kettle.

    A mere handful of twigs would have cooked my dinner; but I’d thought ahead; and picked up a couple newspapers at the grocery; so I wouldn’t have to search for firewood my first night. I started a small fire; and cooked a large batch of spaghetti noodles for my supper. I’d bought some cheap stainless forks and tablespoons. They’d come three to a pack. I didn’t need three. I buried two spoons; and two forks while my noodles cooked. I threw in some salt; pepper; and a couple pieces of jerky-jerky. I opened a can of salmon; and ate it out of the can; bones and all. Eight hundred calories; lots of protein and fat; but a bit on the heavy side. I’d only bought four cans of salmon; but they’d be good while they lasted. I placed the salmon can in the hole with the spoons and coffee grounds. I didn’t know who might be on my trail; and I saw no sense in leaving any “gimmes” for them. I ate my noodles; put out my fire; and went to bed.

    I knew that although I could use an Army poncho and liner for a sleeping bag; it was only rated down to about forty degrees. Yes well, on a cold sub-freezing night; a man will still be warmer with a forty-degree bag; than he will with none at all. The military issue poncho liner is a simple blanket; but I’d bought one of the after market ones; with a hole and a hood; so I could wear it through the day; if I needed to. I also had a single full-sized wool blanket. I’d piled pine boughs on the ground- both for padding; and for insulation. I had a thin ground sheet; my poncho and liner sleeping bag; and my wool blanket. Keeping a fire going probably wasn’t the wisest thing. The people who were pursuing me; might very well have infrared capabilities.

    While I lay in the cold; waiting for my bag to warm up; I pondered my situation. I had part of Michigan and all of The Sovereign Nation of Indiana to traverse; to get to The Free Commonwealth of Kentucky. Even then, my father’s caches; and my kinfolk were in the eastern part of Kentucky. I had to take my time; and be as cautious and elusive as possible. Run silent; run deep. It wouldn’t do to get caught. They’d transfer me to a much tighter facility; with no guarantee that I could ever escape again. Even granting that I could; why go through all that again? Time was a wastin’.

    Thoughts of Jenkins came into my mind. I’d never liked him. He was cruel; and I half suspected that he was a coward. Still, he’d died a warrior’s death; something no man could guarantee ahead of time. I’d worn his clothes. I’d walked in his shoes. I’d driven his truck. I still had his blades and his Gun. I’d bought my gear with his cash. I was now willing to call him “friend”. My brother has no eyes; and he’d never done half so much for me as Jenkins had. I’d never really seen much point in praying for the dead. It’s way too late to alter their final destination. I couldn’t say with certainty that Jenkins was in hell; but if he’d been a Christian; I’d never seen the slightest indication of it. Still, there are serious theologians that believe that there are different levels of torment in hell (of course, other theologians deny this vigorously). So on the slight chance that it just might do him some good; I prayed for the welfare of my good friend Jenkins.

    My brother has no eyes; and I couldn’t wait to say a prayer for the benefit of his soul; though it would be infinitely harder to be sincere about it.


  4. RVM45

    RVM45 Monkey+++

    Chapter Four

    It had taken me over a month to make it to the Northern border of Indiana. Some days I’d been able to cover fifteen or sixteen miles, especially as I’d acclimatized to the pace. Other days, I’d only be able to cover two or three miles. I didn’t mean to be seen. If that meant crouching hidden beside a busy highway for several hours, waiting for the opportunity to cross unobserved- so be it. I traveled only at night. I’d picked up a compass at the Army Surplus store; and a few roadmaps at the grocery. They were distressingly vague for my purposes; but they did show roads, Railroad tracks, towns, rivers and creeks.

    I preferred to travel along Railroad tracks. I could make good time; and the ballast wouldn’t leave tracks on its surface. I could always see the train’s light in more than enough time to hide. When it wasn’t possible to travel along the tracks; I tried to travel parallel to a road; with enough distance to drop out of sight at the first hint of headlights in the distance. When I couldn’t do either, I’d take off cross-country.

    I’d gotten a pretty big grubstake at the grocery. As I’ve said, my go-to mass carbohydrate was long spaghetti noodles. I like the noodles; and they’re quick to fix. It didn’t take any longer to cook a pot of rice, or grits; but I don’t think either is noticeably better for you than noodles. Beans and rice, or beans and grits supplies complete protein; but beans are much slower to cook. I saved my beans for days that I retired with plenty of night left; and had a particularly sheltered place to build my fire.

    Perhaps it would seem that it’d be easier to hide a fire in daylight. It isn’t. You can cover your light with the proverbial bushel. You can cut the smoke down to almost nothing. What you can’t do; is hide the visual column of hot air; rising through cold winter air. The sign can be visible for miles. So I endeavored to have my fire put out well before daybreak.

    I’d bought several packages of jerky-jerky. It’s expensive; but pound for pound, it’s pretty nutritious. I was notably well funded, so I loaded up- Peanut M&Ms, Jumbo Snickers bars, sugar, coffee, and cocoa. I bought several cans of Salmon, Spam, and Corned Beef. They were heavy; but I resolved to eat them first. I’d start out with a relatively heavy load; but it would be dropping a couple of pounds every day; so long as I was eating the canned goods. I got some Tuna too. Now water-packed Tuna has forty grams of protein, and about two hundred calories. Oil-packed Tuna has all the protein; but well over twice the calories. Guess which one is the wiser choice for a Bug-Out Bag? Thing is, oil-packed Tuna would gag a maggot. You need to mix it with some kind of starch, to absorb the grease- potato flakes, rice, beans, noodles, etc. I had some powdered milk; and plenty of Vitamins, Vivarins, and Aspirin.

    That wasn’t all that I’d bought at the store; but I’m getting to that. It’s difficult to efficiently utilize traps when you’re moving daily. My sawn-off twenty gauge was a bit loud to be shooting at game- though I’d laid in a box of high base number sixes; just in case a situation should arise. A silenced .22 pistol; or a wrist rocket would have been nice; but I had neither. I did make me two Apache throwing stars. Each one consisted of a couple of eight-inch sticks; sharpened at both ends and tied together at right angles in the middle by some paracord. I managed to kill a few rabbits, several songbirds, and one squirrel. It was all good; but I wasn’t exactly living off the land.

    I’d decided that when I ran out of grub; I’d simply contrive to slip nonchalantly into a small grocery, in a reasonably small town, and buy more. It would have been a calculated risk; but what isn’t? But the slow pace and the constant tension were wearing me down. I stopped right outside Merrillville, Indiana; and had a long reevaluation. I still intended to use part of my original plan; but toward a different end.

    My hair is naturally straight and black. They’d forced me to keep it cut fairly short in the asylum; but it had been about as long as they ever let it get; when I escaped; and it had grown out a bit more in the last few weeks. I carefully shaved myself, leaving a goatee. I loathe hair on my lips or chin; but I could put up with it for a few days. I got out the Lady Clairol Platinum; and contrived to bleach my head, beard, and eyebrows. It is not the easiest thing to do; sitting at a campfire. Then I teased my hair straight up- kinda like a longish flat top. I had one set of non-camo clothes; and a very lightly tinted pair of wire rimmed shades, that could pass for photo-gray. I was in disguise. I’d originally planned to use the disguise to help me buy groceries. Now I had a different objective. I wanted to examine the classifieds; and try to buy a used motorcycle. I’d be screwed if I got pulled over; but on the other hand; I could traverse the length of Indiana in a single night on a bike.

    My father had taught me to ride a motorcycle. He’d said that you never knew when a skill like that would come in handy. He hadn’t taught Bucky, of course. My brother has no eyes; but I did and he’d taught me.

  5. RVM45

    RVM45 Monkey+++

    Chapter Five
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    I had thought to buy a motorcycle from an ordinary individual. It was coming up Spring; almost warm enough to be good biking weather. Hopefully no one would think it too noteworthy that someone was in the market for a motorcycle. I ended up at the house of a jovial biker dude, named Brian- all dressed in black leathers, his hands covered with gaolhouse tattoos. He had his Harley- several in fact; but he did a lively trade in his spare time, fixing up all sorts of bikes for resale. Unlike many biker dudes, he didn’t look down his nose at the “other bikes”. In fact, in his opinion, he confided to me, the Harley was probably not the best first bike for most folks.

    When Brian first laid eyes on me, with my peroxide hair, he’d declared that I looked just like Spike- the white-haired vampire character on “Buffy”. I suppose that was flattering. I liked the Spike character; but in my opinion, I was a lot bigger, and sloppier looking. Though with my scarred face, and glaring eyes, I suppose that I looked sinister enough. Brian continued to call me “Spike” all through the transaction.

    I didn’t have enough money to buy even the cheapest Harley in Brian’s garage. Eventually we ended up dickering over an old Honda Seven-Fifty that was almost as old as I am. Brian had restored it to like-new shape; and given it a wonderful metallic indigo paint job. It pained me to think that I wasn’t going to posses it all that long. I had jewed the price down to where I could afford the bike; and still have a generous cash reserve. I continued to haggle after I’d gotten the price acceptably low, mainly because I found Brian congenial and his garage comfortable, after spending so much time in silence and solitude.

    Eventually, Brian raised his index finger, gesturing for me to wait a moment. He came out packing a long black leather duster, split up the backside to allow one to straddle a bike.

    “Tell you what Spike, take the bike at my final offer; and I’ll throw this in for boot. It suits you. How will people recognize you, without your disguise?” Brian said gleefully.

    After I’d paid Brian; and donned the long black coat- much to his delight, He gestured me over to a workbench. He took a revolver out of the drawer; unloaded it; and handed it to me- cylinder opened. It was an old two-and-a-half inch Smith and Wesson Model Sixty-Six .357 Magnum. It was Mag-Na-Ported, had Stag grips, and a silver colored Tyler-“T” adapter. It came with an old style Bianchi shoulder rig that carried it butt-down, and had two dump pouches on the weak side.

    “There are eighteen rounds of one hundred twenty-five grain hollow points in the cylinder, and pouches. I’ll throw in a box of hundred fifty-eight grain semiwadcutters.” He paused, and squinted into space momentarily. “Tell you what Spike, I’ll let you have the whole set-up for what I got in it- three hundred bucks.”

    “Why? It’s worth a lot more than that.”

    “Sometimes a man on the lamb needs a good Gun. Whatever it is you’re trying to hide under that coat; ain’t really making it- concealment wise.”

    He seemed sincere. My brother has no eyes. Given the same situation, he’d have killed Brian to ensure his silence, and incidentally, to save money. I peeled off another three hundred dollars; and let him help me adjust the rig. We gave each other a hearty handshake; and I left.

    Two days later, I was at the site of one of father’s caches. My father had a long string of caches. All of them had GPS coordinates. Most of them were also locatable by key landmarks. I had a list of locations for some of the caches. Bucky had others. I think my father had caches he’d never told either of us about. He didn’t want any one person to be able to ruin it for everyone. My brother has no eyes; so I have no idea how father expected Bucky to find or utilize his caches. Since I was only concerned with “my” caches, that was pretty much academic.

    My father was never entirely comfortable with the idea of burying valuable stuff underground- particularly firearms. He had a respect for firearms that bordered on reverence. He often told me that any weapon, especially knives and handguns, have feelings and a soul- although he was ambivalent whether polymer-framed firearms have a soul. He said that they might very well have managed to invent a soulless weapon when they designed the Glock. At any rate, he was always afraid someone would build a shopping center smack-dab on top of one of his caches. Or maybe put in a dam, causing his cache to be under thirty feet of water. On the other hand, he obsessed too much, to be willing to try to protect all of his baskets with one egg. So he cached- cached fairly extensively, if you get right down to it, perhaps obsessively.

    He had buried most of his caches reasonably deep; but he always cached a good entrenching tool nearby; and not nearly as deep. I, on the other hand, knew that I was coming to dig; and I brought a pick and a spade. One good thing about Daddy’s caches- they all had a few Guns; but they all held beaucoup food, ammo, gold, silver, and cash- along with some other goodies. As I’ve said, the company had kept him well supplied with cash for thirteen years. I particularly wanted some of the miscellaneous goodies in this particular cache.

    This cache hadn’t been paved over, or turned into a lake. However, it had been way out in the boonies when my father and I had buried it. As I feverishly tried to unearth it in the clammy cold sweat that comes from hard work when it’s both moist and cool, I could plainly see what I was doing by the light of the not-too-distant streetlights. Finally I reclaimed the contents of the stash and loaded it onto the bike. Time to start phase two of my undercover work.

    Most of what people see on TV about disguise is bogus. Actually, most of what anyone sees on TV is largely bogus- particularly The News.
    You’re pretty much stuck with the height you’re born with- although lifts can make you a few inches taller, at the cost of making you awkward; and putting your back in a strain. Even if you’re the right height, you can’t, as a general rule, make yourself into a spitting image of someone else; unless your facial features are already fairly similar. In fact, so I’ve read, even extensive plastic surgery usually won’t turn you into a dead ringer for anyone in particular, unless you have the right stuff to work with.

    What a good disguise can do is make you unrecognizable. I read of a study done with photos and college students. Changing hair color will disguise you from almost no one. Drastically changing the hairstyle, particularly if it changes the outline of your head, is far more effective. Changing both color and style works best of all- as you might expect. The wire rim glasses helped a little; the goatee helped more. The bad part of it was, with no ID, a Law knew right away that I was a person of interest, particularly if he caught me driving without a license, or spotted one of my Guns; whether he knew that I was James Pickett, escaped mental patient-slash-murderer, or not.

    A nose, chin, brow line, etc., can be built up reasonably convincingly with the right tools. The only real way to make anything noticeably smaller would be surgery. Even then there are limits. Consequently, most disguises make you look somewhat Trollish. Nonetheless, there are Trollish looking people in the world. They’re not even that uncommon. So having big Neanderthal features isn’t a dead giveaway. Nonetheless, someone with fine chiseled features is almost certainly not in disguise.

    There were several sets of fake ID papers that would give me a flying head start on creating several alternate identities. But my go-to disguise was going to involve a fat-suit that I’d built as a teen; along with a few other items I’d had father bury in this particular cache.

    Ever notice how no one except grand old timers like Jeff Cooper, and people who speak Spanish, ever uses the term “Macho” except to denigrate the very qualities it is supposed to signify? It’s a bit dated, but I always picture Rob Reiner on the old “Archie Bunker” sitcom, spitting the word out, as though it left a nasty taste in his mouth. Well, my next disguise was about as unmacho as one could get; but it wasn’t occasioned by any desire to spurn masculinity. It was simply the best long-term disguise that I could imagine.

    Many years earlier, when I was just learning about disguise techniques- my father turned me on to lots of fields of endeavor not generally thought to be indispensable parts of a young boy’s curriculum- we’d happened to drive through the poor part of town. I spotted an old black woman struggling to hobble across the street before the light changed. She was big- close to three hundred; and she had extraordinarily enlarged ankles. Father said that she had elephantitus. It’s supposed to be a tropical disease; but I’ve seen several other old timers who seemed to have it, when I was a boy. Don’t see it anymore. Presumably we have better medicine nowadays. At any rate, the poor old black woman had been the inspiration for my most extreme disguise.

    It was easy to add apparent bulk with the fat suit. While I was at it, it was easy to add two gargantuan sized bazooms. You see more old fat women, than you do men; and they’re not nearly so hard to clothe- think “sack dress”. Also, an old woman is generally perceived to be even less of a threat than an old man- even if neither can walk without a walker. Supposing, just for the sake of argument, that I could have disguised myself convincingly as a young woman- and I couldn’t have, not by any stretch of the imagination- people, men in particular, sometimes want to hit on a young woman. Someone might also decide to rape her. It would take a sick bastard to want to hit on, or rape my Babe character. Her clothes said that she was impoverished, highly unlikely to have enough money to make a mugging worthwhile. And just in case, I made sure that she had a generous von of body odor, and yeast.

    I could have made her white; but then she might be hassled by militant blacks. As a black, she was just an uninviting mobile eyesore wherever she went. The only drawbacks were having to remember to walk slowly and painfully at all times; and the fact that the suit could get ungodly hot if it was even remotely warm; but the copious sweat added to my camouflage. I also needed to remember to always talk in a rough strained whisper.

    Pretty soon I had Babe moved into a small, low rent house, with an attached garage. I chose Louisville, because it’s easier to hide in a big city; and Louisville would have more of the resources that I needed for the next portion of my plan. I established her as enough of a hermit that I didn’t have to sit around inside the house, in costume. Also, though she as slow, she walked all over town. One night a gentleman called. Perhaps it was someone from the church. He came to visit; and he parked his nice violet motorcycle in the garage. No one would have seen him leave; but they must have missed it. He wasn’t still there after all this while…

    Mt brother has no eyes. He did have two auxiliary brains- three if you count the big plexus where his “optic nerves” crossed. To get parity with Bucky, I’d need to build me a fairly large electronic brain. Oh well, electrical engineering is something we mad scientist types excel at.


  6. RVM45

    RVM45 Monkey+++

    Chapter Six
    <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" />

    Renting a place to use as a base of operations had been of paramount importance. Babe looked like one of the poverty-stricken elderly; condemned to scrape by on a small Social Security check; and what State Welfare and private charity she could raise. But “she” let it “slip”, talking to the landlord, that she had a small pension- not enough to make her nouveau rich, even by ghetto standards; but enough to let her rent a small two bedroom house, with a good–sized attached garage. It’s best to answer such questions before they are brought up.

    The Laws wouldn’t find me, except by accident. My brother has no eyes; and I had no idea how he fitted into the equation. He could be totally unconcerned. He could be mildly concerned. Or he might have dropped everything else he was doing, to devote his full attention to finding me.

    He’d look for me electronically. He would write all sorts of ingenious algorithms to look for interesting discrepancies. I took it for granted that he was working somewhere that he had access to heap-big-juju computing power; but it scarcely mattered. He could easily craft the hacks to steal as many CPU cycles as he felt he needed.

    A bunch of sophisticated electronic gear mailed to a seventy-year-old black woman, who lived in the inner city was one of those type anomalies. Now I suppose there’s nothing in principle that would keep an old woman like Babe from being an electronics whiz; but it would certainly be remarkable. I’d gone to great lengths to make Babe as unremarkable; uninteresting; and unappealing as possible. Remarkable equals interesting. Interest would end up damning me.

    It would hardly draw any less attention to waddle into stores as Babe, plunk hard cash on the counter, and breezily saunter out with my purchases. I thought briefly about giving Babe a grandson. I wasn’t good enough with the make-up; or the acting, to play a young black man. Babe did let the word out, that a nice young white man from her church sometimes helped her with shopping and maintenance around the house. Sure enough, a young white man who met the description had been seen more than once; toting bags into Babe’s house- though generally, he parked in her garage. What he did when the door was closed and he was out of sight would have been pure speculation on the neighbor’s parts- although, just like folks everywhere, they made assumptions.

    Eventually I had color surveillance cameras covering everything for two or thee blocks around the house. Color is easy on the eyes. Besides, I might catch something that I’d otherwise miss watching monochrome. I had a couple dedicated listening posts- good-sized sound gatherers aimed at particular spots, and amplified electronically. I had an aimable shotgun mike; though there was a limited number places I could effectively point it. Then I put a fairly elaborate system of microphones around the neighborhood. All of them used line-of-sight Infra Red carrier waves. Didn’t want anyone picking up any stray radio waves. Finally, I cobbled together a pair of mini blimps with radio controlled engines; and FM TV cameras. I scrambled the signal; so if anyone intercepted it, it wouldn’t reveal the location- even in a general way. Painted the right way, my little dirigibles were invisible when sixty yards high. They would give me plenty of warning, if someone were mounting a raid.

    With my physical security largely taken care of, I switched my attention to building a brain to try to second-guess Bucky. My brother has no eyes; but he is fiendishly clever. How to spell relief? I spelled it “BEOWULF”.

    I converted over half the garage; and one of the bedrooms into computer rooms. For some applications it’s better to tie a relatively small number of relatively sophisticated processors together. For finer grained applications, a large number of cheap processors work better. I crafted my network to have two lobes to its electronic brain. The “left brain” had over sixty cutting edge processors connected via Ethernet into a single entity. The “right brain” had over three hundred obsolescent processors tied together. I wrote some self-programming protocols; gave it some complex routing problems; and left it largely alone for several weeks; and let it evolve its own strategies for how to use its two lobes together most efficiently.

    The joke was kind of on Bucky. I’d never been particularly interested in computers, or artificial intelligence; but Bucky had bored me to the point of tears, with his endless expositions on the subject. I must have picked up some of it. Somehow the years in the mental hospital, the drugs, perhaps the shocks, even the never-ending tedium, had quickened my mind somehow. My intelligence may have been great before; but I’d never had any particular talent for advanced mathematics. One of the first things that I did; once I had the house, was to order every science and mathematics book that DOVER Press offered. I found that I could read a book full of obtuse theoretical mathematics as easily, and with the same retention, that I’d been able to read a “Spiderman” comic before.

    I’d quickly gotten to the place that I had a mathematical and theoretical base that most AI researchers could only envy. I had some very good- and innovative equipment; and I’d developed self-teaching programs that were decades ahead of state-of-the-art. It was a pity. If I hadn’t been hiding out from the Laws and my eyeless brother, I could have sold my programs and designs, for a fortune; they kind of made the “Mac” Vs “PC” arguments very much beside the point.

    Electronics is okay; but I’m not real keen on it. While the computer network that I’d cobbled together dutifully, and meditatively crunched numbers; I found other things to hold my interest. One thing that I’d been getting into lately was small robots- about half the size of a loaf of bread. Some were ground-effect vehicles. Others had treads like a bulldozer or tank. They had a miniature one-cylinder internal combustion engine. I’d gotten some of them up to thirty miles an hour; and they had a range of three or four miles. Just like the miniature tanks they resembled, each one had a Gun- a five inch 10mm; with a five round magazine capacity; and some of the most sophisticated targeting and guidance systems ever shoe-horned into such a small package. They weren’t ready to be anything but a toy- yet; but I was working out the details.

    I was working on one, when I decided that I needed some more microcontrolers; some pieziosensors; and some more .40 caliber barrel stock. I shrugged into the fat suit and the babe costume as quickly as possible. I’d have to waddle halfway across town- remembering to make each step look like it was painful; and took great effort. Once I got to my rented room across town, I could change into a male persona. I’d picked a room that I could enter without being seen clearly. Then I could go shopping for my gear. I could spend the night at the room; and not have to do the Babe waddle twice in one day. I was looking on it as kind of a break.

    Only thing was, destiny had other plans for me that night. I’d traveled about three blocks. As I started across the alley, I saw four or five would-be toughs scuffling with a young woman named “Pretty”. I’d never done more than nod to Pretty. We weren’t friends. I didn’t know hardly anything about her. I didn’t want to know. My psychotherapy had left me with little or no interest in sex. Even if I’d thought Pretty was the finest young thing ever to walk down a sidewalk; I could hardly have hit on her in my Babe persona.

    I wasn’t a hero. I didn’t suffer from the slightest case of hero syndrome. I couldn’t afford to be heroic if I wanted to beat my brother. My brother has no eyes. If I was to stand a chance of defeating him; I needed to be heartless; ruthless; and play dirty. Killing Jenkins had seemed a good start on becoming the sort of hard-bitten; cynical nihilist it would take to defeat Bucky.

    But I saw the look in Pretty’s eyes as they were shucking her pants down around her ankles. I saw her beaded locks flying all around; and I knew that I was going to play the fool. At least I stayed in the Babe persona momentarily, as I waddled quickly and clumsily up the alley. They’d learn that there was something different about Babe momentarily; but there was no reason to spoil the surprise. No reason to spoil my fun


  7. RVM45

    RVM45 Monkey+++

    Chapter Six<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" />

    Renting a place to use as a base of operations had been of paramount importance. Babe looked like one of the poverty-stricken elderly; condemned to scrape by on a small Social Security check; and what State Welfare and private charity she could raise. But “she” let it “slip”, talking to the landlord, that she had a small pension- not enough to make her nouveau rich, even by ghetto standards; but enough to let her rent a small two bedroom house, with a good–sized attached garage. It’s best to answer such questions before they are brought up.

    The Laws wouldn’t find me, except by accident. My brother has no eyes; and I had no idea how he fitted into the equation. He could be totally unconcerned. He could be mildly concerned. Or he might have dropped everything else he was doing, to devote his full attention to finding me.

    He’d look for me electronically. He would write all sorts of ingenious algorithms to look for interesting discrepancies. I took it for granted that he was working somewhere that he had access to heap-big-juju computing power; but it scarcely mattered. He could easily craft the hacks to steal as many CPU cycles as he felt he needed.

    A bunch of sophisticated electronic gear mailed to a seventy-year-old black woman, who lived in the inner city was one of those type anomalies. Now I suppose there’s nothing in principle that would keep an old woman like Babe from being an electronics whiz; but it would certainly be remarkable. I’d gone to great lengths to make Babe as unremarkable; uninteresting; and unappealing as possible. Remarkable equals interesting. Interest would end up damning me.

    It would hardly draw any less attention to waddle into stores as Babe, plunk hard cash on the counter, and breezily saunter out with my purchases. I thought briefly about giving Babe a grandson. I wasn’t good enough with the make-up; or the acting, to play a young black man. Babe did let the word out, that a nice young white man from her church sometimes helped her with shopping and maintenance around the house. Sure enough, a young white man who met the description had been seen more than once; toting bags into Babe’s house- though generally, he parked in her garage. What he did when the door was closed and he was out of sight would have been pure speculation on the neighbor’s parts- although, just like folks everywhere, they made assumptions.

    Eventually I had color surveillance cameras covering everything for two or thee blocks around the house. Color is easy on the eyes. Besides, I might catch something that I’d otherwise miss watching monochrome. I had a couple dedicated listening posts- good-sized sound gatherers aimed at particular spots, and amplified electronically. I had an aimable shotgun mike; though there was a limited number places I could effectively point it. Then I put a fairly elaborate system of microphones around the neighborhood. All of them used line-of-sight Infra Red carrier waves. Didn’t want anyone picking up any stray radio waves. Finally, I cobbled together a pair of mini blimps with radio controlled engines; and FM TV cameras. I scrambled the signal; so if anyone intercepted it, it wouldn’t reveal the location- even in a general way. Painted the right way, my little dirigibles were invisible when sixty yards high. They would give me plenty of warning, if someone were mounting a raid.

    With my physical security largely taken care of, I switched my attention to building a brain to try to second-guess Bucky. My brother has no eyes; but he is fiendishly clever. How to spell relief? I spelled it “BEOWULF”.

    I converted over half the garage; and one of the bedrooms into computer rooms. For some applications it’s better to tie a relatively small number of relatively sophisticated processors together. For finer grained applications, a large number of cheap processors work better. I crafted my network to have two lobes to its electronic brain. The “left brain” had over sixty cutting edge processors connected via Ethernet into a single entity. The “right brain” had over three hundred obsolescent processors tied together. I wrote some self-programming protocols; gave it some complex routing problems; and left it largely alone for several weeks; and let it evolve its own strategies for how to use its two lobes together most efficiently.

    The joke was kind of on Bucky. I’d never been particularly interested in computers, or artificial intelligence; but Bucky had bored me to the point of tears, with his endless expositions on the subject. I must have picked up some of it. Somehow the years in the mental hospital, the drugs, perhaps the shocks, even the never-ending tedium, had quickened my mind somehow. My intelligence may have been great before; but I’d never had any particular talent for advanced mathematics. One of the first things that I did; once I had the house, was to order every science and mathematics book that DOVER Press offered. I found that I could read a book full of obtuse theoretical mathematics as easily, and with the same retention, that I’d been able to read a “Spiderman” comic before.

    I’d quickly gotten to the place that I had a mathematical and theoretical base that most AI researchers could only envy. I had some very good- and innovative equipment; and I’d developed self-teaching programs that were decades ahead of state-of-the-art. It was a pity. If I hadn’t been hiding out from the Laws and my eyeless brother, I could have sold my programs and designs, for a fortune; they kind of made the “Mac” Vs “PC” arguments very much beside the point.

    Electronics is okay; but I’m not real keen on it. While the computer network that I’d cobbled together dutifully, and meditatively crunched numbers; I found other things to hold my interest. One thing that I’d been getting into lately was small robots- about half the size of a loaf of bread. Some were ground-effect vehicles. Others had treads like a bulldozer or tank. They had a miniature one-cylinder internal combustion engine. I’d gotten some of them up to thirty miles an hour; and they had a range of three or four miles. Just like the miniature tanks they resembled, each one had a Gun- a five inch 10mm; with a five round magazine capacity; and some of the most sophisticated targeting and guidance systems ever shoe-horned into such a small package. They weren’t ready to be anything but a toy- yet; but I was working out the details.

    I was working on one, when I decided that I needed some more microcontrolers; some pieziosensors; and some more .40 caliber barrel stock. I shrugged into the fat suit and the babe costume as quickly as possible. I’d have to waddle halfway across town- remembering to make each step look like it was painful; and took great effort. Once I got to my rented room across town, I could change into a male persona. I’d picked a room that I could enter without being seen clearly. Then I could go shopping for my gear. I could spend the night at the room; and not have to do the Babe waddle twice in one day. I was looking on it as kind of a break.

    Only thing was, destiny had other plans for me that night. I’d traveled about three blocks. As I started across the alley, I saw four or five would-be toughs scuffling with a young woman named “Pretty”. I’d never done more than nod to Pretty. We weren’t friends. I didn’t know hardly anything about her. I didn’t want to know. My psychotherapy had left me with little or no interest in sex. Even if I’d thought Pretty was the finest young thing ever to walk down a sidewalk; I could hardly have hit on her in my Babe persona.

    I wasn’t a hero. I didn’t suffer from the slightest case of hero syndrome. I couldn’t afford to be heroic if I wanted to beat my brother. My brother has no eyes. If I was to stand a chance of defeating him; I needed to be heartless; ruthless; and play dirty. Killing Jenkins had seemed a good start on becoming the sort of hard-bitten; cynical nihilist it would take to defeat Bucky.

    But I saw the look in Pretty’s eyes as they were shucking her pants down around her ankles. I saw her beaded locks flying all around; and I knew that I was going to play the fool. At least I stayed in the Babe persona momentarily, as I waddled quickly and clumsily up the alley. They’d learn that there was something different about Babe momentarily; but there was no reason to spoil the surprise. No reason to spoil my fun.

    Chapter Seven

    I huffed at them querously, in my old woman voice, to cease and desist. There were definitely five of them. Two of them advanced to meet me. They didn’t seem particularly apprehensive, nor was there any reason for them to be, based on external appearances.

    The fat suit limited my mobility to a degree. Nonetheless, even in the suit, I was capable of maneuvers that would be downright astonishing if they’d actually been performed by a seventy year old, three hundred and thirty pound woman. These guys were looking for trouble. Fact is, looking for trouble often gets you way more than you’d bargained for.

    I had one of the Cold Steel sword canes- one of the heavy-duty ones that you can actually use as an orthopedic device. I snatched the sheath off with my right hand, and executed a full lunge through the foremost client’s right eye. I followed through until I felt the point solidly contact the back of the skull. The sheath made a fair club. I snapped it across the second client’s eye socket, with a move reminiscent of a movie Samurai’s dagger-hold sword attack. The blow was hard enough that by the time he’d quit seeing stars, his eye would be swollen closed. I barely had time to thrust the sword through a third client’s chest; when the fourth client tackled me. I released both the sword and sheath to grapple with him. He had a fair sized fixed blade knife, and he was sticking into my big fat gut, over and over. I had to give him credit for initiative and enthusiasm. Thing was, his knife blade wasn’t quite long enough to penetrate the layers of foam padding that I had around my waist.

    Breaking the neck is generally a matter of forcing the cervical vertebrae to bend at two different ninety-degree angles at one time. I grabbed the client’s head with both hands and turned his head ninety-degrees, ‘till he was looking parallel to his left clavicle; shifting my grip ever so slightly, I forced his head toward his back. Maybe I heard it snap. Maybe the snap was psychological. At any rate, I could feel it give.

    I dropped him to the street; and drew the silenced .32 Auto that I concealed in Babe’s bosom. It was a Holmes pattern Gun that my father had made. I cast about momentarily for client number five. I caught sight of him just as Pretty cut his throat with the biggest britva I’d ever laid eyes on. I gave him two quick taps to the head with the subsonic lead round noses, just for the sake of completeness. I wheeled around to find client number two still holding his eye, and looking out of everything. I double tapped his head for him.

    “Don’t be greedy!” I said in mock outrage, “One bullet each.”

    All the while I was making sure that each of the five clients had two bullets to the brainpan; and one into the general vicinity of the heart. Dead clients need to be made deader. That way you’re far less likely to have unsatisfied clients filing complaints against you, somewhere down the line.

    “Do you want to do the 911 thing; and plead self defense? ‘Cause if you do, I need to split. I kind of executed a couple there. Just lay it all on me; and you should be okay.”

    “Screw the Laws.”

    “Well, you can do that, but they’re not my type. I’d recommend that you come by my house- make sure you don’t have any blood on your clothes- and so forth, and so on. By the way, where did you get that enormous britva?”


    “The britva- the straight razor.”

    “Friend of mine makes them. You can shave with them; but they’re
    mainly for cuttin’ folks.”

    Well no sense doing things by halfway measures. If I was going to trust Pretty not to snitch, I might as well show her the inside of my house. And it was in my best interest to make sure that she didn’t have any trace evidence on her. Maybe I could impress her enough to ensure her silence. The other alternative was simply to walk away. That was probably the wisest course; but I hated to start building another hideout and brain from scratch- though I’d picked up many time saving shortcuts over the last three years. Anyway, sometimes I just felt lonesome.

    “You’re not a woman,” Pretty stated confidently.

    “When did you figure that out?”

    “The first time I saw you. I can always tell.”

    “Do you think anyone else knows?”

    “Maybe a couple. If anyone else does, they probably figure that you’re just an old, full-time transvestite. That’s what I figured.”

    “How flattering.”

    “I know that you’re a man. I know that you got a sword cane; and a silenced pistol. I know that you aren’t really fat; and I see all kind of computer gear. Are you going to kill me?’

    “No, but if you can’t keep a secret, let me know now. Won’t be any hard feelings; but I need to beat feet. All I ask is that you give me a running start.”

    “I can keep all sorts of secrets. I keep all sorts of secrets. If we’re going to be friends though, I want to see what you really look like. “

    “Give me a minute.”

    I went into the bathroom. I came out a few moments later, as myself. Pretty was flabbergasted.

    “You’re white! I never dreamed that you were a white man.”

    I looked at my hands incredulously. “You’re right. Damn! I wonder how that happened?”

    It wasn’t that funny; but she laughed uproariously. It wasn’t that funny- probably a post stress reaction.

    I showed her around. I told her that my brother has no eyes. I told her about the years in the mental hospital, about my escape. I told her about my father and mother. I let her examine the pistol that my father had made.

    “Are you gonna ditch it?”

    “No, if they ever get me into custody, I’m screwed anyway. Besides, I’m legally insane. What more can they do to me?”

    “Jimmy, you’re like a hacker dude- aren’t you?”

    “Well there are a number of other terms that I’d use to describe myself. I’m a hunter; a warrior; an artist. I’m a genius. I’m a mutant. I’m a convicted felon. I’m an escaped mental patient. But yes, I’d have to say that yes, I’m a hacker dude.”

    “Could you teach me?”

    “If that’s what you want to learn.”

    That’s how Pretty and I became a team. She started referring to “Our” campaign against Bucky, after the first couple of computer tutoring sessions. She never questioned that as my friend, she was just as committed to bringing Bucky down as I was.

    As she picked up skills, she came up with all sorts of new and different strategies. She was deucedly clever. Pretty was the only real friend I’d ever had, with the exception of my brother. Outside of my mother, she was the only woman that I’d gotten to know at all well. It was indeed fortuitous that I’d happened to enlist her as a friend and ally. And yes, “Pretty” was the name her mama gave her.


  8. mage2

    mage2 Monkey+++

    interesting read . where is the rest?
    mage2, I am completely shocked (reading this and the above on Jan 25th 2011). This is an outstanding story. The writer just posted the last installment on Christmas eve, and you on Christmas day, like a spoiled child, asks the question, "Where is the rest?" ..... forgive me my unforgivable verbal assault. I could not help myself. tacmotusn
  9. RVM45

    RVM45 Monkey+++

    Chapter Eight
    <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" />

    Pretty gave my mammoth bifurcated electronic brain a long searching stare.

    “You realize, of course, that as impressive as your network is, it doesn’t come anywhere near to replicating the complexities of a normal human brain; much less the hydra-headed brain of your brother’s. Hell, you don’t even have a decent cat brain here,” She opined.

    All this from a twenty year old woman who’d never heard of a Beowulf network, six months earlier; who’d never finished high school for that matter; and if she could be believed- and I was inclined to believe her; was still a virgin- though she’d grown up in a crack-head infested neighborhood. I couldn’t recall just which shelf I’d picked her off at the people store; nor could I remember precisely what had inspired me to add her to my shopping cart. Sometimes I came close to regretting it though.

    I was diligently trying to upgrade my graphics; because for me; that was a major part of the system. I’d thought of going to a laser projection system; but though red and green lasers were no problem; finding the right quality blue lasers would be a pain. Instead I was wiring my very own very large home made solid-state screen system; using red; blue; and green LEDs. Once again; the blue ones were the most trouble to acquire and the most expensive. Since I wasn’t limiting myself to standard color palettes; I found a few places where white; yellow; or UV LEDs could add something useful to the mix. Also my screen wasn’t anywhere near flat; being more an irregular- but bilaterally symmetrical- hemisphere surrounding the high-priced vibrating recliner chair. Like the human retina; my screen was designed to be very high definition to the front central, tapering off in definition and brightness towards the edges- just like the sensitivity of the human retina. It took both a good understanding of Impressionist Art techniques; animation; and some skull-crackingly involved projective geometry algorithms; to milk any sort of usable images out of my stored visual programs. Of course to Pretty, they were little more than overly complicated Psychedelic light shows.

    “My brother has no eyes.”

    “My Aunt has no balls.”

    “Has she tried hormone enhancement therapy?”

    “For what?!?”

    “How in the seven burning Hells would I know? You brought it up.”

    After a moment I relented. She did want to understand. “I’m not trying to reproduce Bucky’s brain. Obviously, I don’t have the wherewithal to attempt that. I am a Mutant Super Genius in my own right though; and I’m trying to create a prosthesis for myself; that will allow me to duplicate one of Bucky’s amazing capabilities.”

    “Bucky couldn’t groove on the light show?” She sounded a wee bit uncertain.

    “I thought I’d mentioned it. My brother has no eyes. Bucky can think- ‘Visualize’; if you will- in multiple dimensions. It helps him see around corners. I’ve never mastered that ability.”

    “Don’t we live in a 3-D; OR 4-D World? What does thinking in multiple dimensions get him?”

    It wasn’t a simple concept to get across to her. All kinds of Engineering- and other predictive problems- can be solved by the simple expedient of two variable equations-X and Y. Quite a few of these two dimensional equations can be visualized much better; by examining the graph they make on a set of X-Y Cartesian coordinates. That isn’t the limit. You can plot three variable equations on an X,Y, Z System of coordinates- though you generally have to use Isometric projection to represent it- however, if there was any real advantage to be gained by doing so; three dimensional models could- and sometimes are- assembled.

    Four dimensions can be deucedly tricky; but with the right computer software; showing three D graphs evolving over time; looped and repeated enough times; can generally get the thrust of an idea across. But your fourth variable doesn’t have to be the passage of time. Suppose we’re trying to factor in the velocity; frontal area; spin; weight; nose shape; viscosity; and structural integrity of multiple handgun bullets- that’s way more than just four variables anyway; and none of them are time lapse- though some are time-related. To choose to present any of the variables as changes over time; would be rather artificial and arbitrary.

    Human brains are good at visual pattern recognition. Some pictures can be worth a thousand- or ten thousand words. Once things get too complicated to visualize; they become much more difficult to handle. Consider Imaginary Numbers. It takes two dimensions just to map the entire set of one-dimensional Complex Numbers. It takes four dimensions to map a simple two variable equation. Reimann’s Conjecture encompasses such a set of 2-D/4-D charts. Mathematicians have to work with such equations for a very long time to build up an intuitive “feel” for them. If it was a common human ability, to think visually in four dimensions; I have no doubt that Reimann’s Conjecture would have been much more thoroughly explored by now.

    But why can’t humans learn to visualize in four or more spatial dimensions? We take the flat 2-D Images from our retinas; and by virtue of much experience muddling around in a 3-D World; we learn to think in 3-D. It is not a inborn ability. Watch a small infant endlessly experimenting with visual cues; to learn navigation in a 3-D World.

    There’s a question of whether humans have enough data processing capability to truly think in 4-D. No one ever accomplishes anything until they try. Visualizing a hypercube would also be relatively simple; compared to visualizing some complicated four variable equations. My conditional verdict for humans was: maybe yes; maybe no. I wasn’t human, in any case.

    I neglected to mention earlier, that you can help visualize multi variable equations to some degree; by multi-colored graphs; hybrid graphs; and some other ingenious conventions- none nowhere as good as actually being able to actually think in N-Dimensions; but a semi-useful stopgap measure.

    I’d plot a seven variable equation on my big screen- Dimensions A, B, C, D, E, F, and G. None of the letters representing a temporal dimension. I’d make a 4-D graph- A=X; B=Y’ C=Z; and D=T. Some times I’d vary the parameters.”1” could represent a second; a minute; or an hour; on my T axis- whatever seemed to clarify the concept the most. Then plot it B=X; C=Y; D=Z; and E=T. I would spend hours looking at the equation; matching the three spatial coordinates; and one temporal coordinate; to every conceivable permutation of variable assignments. Then I’d fiddle with color schemes; and tesseracts- not to mention memorizing large blocks of coordinates.

    I figured that if my Mutant brain was capabable of resolving the deluge of data into a 7-D portrait of my equation; that it would do so largely subliminally; subconsciously; and instantaneously (at some point) without much deliberate guidance from my conscious mind. How else? My brother had no eyes. I had no other visible course of action to pursue- at least so far as learning to think multi-D.

    As always, Pretty came up with all sorts of ingenious variations on the theme; once she had the initial concept down pat. She was an invaluable assistant; when she wasn’t talking nonsense.

    “Do you think we might be lovers someday?”

    “My brother has no eyes. I, fortunately, have no libido.”

    “I don’t either; but maybe we were meant for each other.”

    “Hell’s pecker woman! I’m old enough to be your father.”

    “But you’re a virgin too; just like me. Maybe that’s fate. Does it bother you that I’m black?”

    “Your physical appearance is quite soothing. Please change the topic. You make me most uncomfortable. I’m a Christian; and I don’t hold with extra-marital sex.”

    “Is that why you kill people at the drop of a hat? Are you proposing to me?”

    “DROP the topic; please! My word! My brother has no eyes! And yes, I do need to quit killing would-be rapists; just for forcibly stripping off your britches ”

    “Change of topic. Can we get a dog?”

    “Cool, Get two.”

    .....RVM45 [chopper]
  10. mage2

    mage2 Monkey+++

    Well thank you for the addition.
    I didnt intend on being rude in my last post, sorry if it came across that way.
  11. RVM45

    RVM45 Monkey+++

    Chapter Nine
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    “These neural networks and the programs you developed for your Testudos were brilliant- though you kinda quit; and left them hanging. Mind if I borrow some of your ideas; and try to develop them further?” Pretty asked breathlessly.

    “Use anything of mine you want”, I said. Then taking into account her literal nature, I quickly modified my statement. “Use anything within reason and good taste- and always excepting my toothbrush, and other tools of personal hygiene.”

    I think I neglected to mention that she’d promptly moved herself into my house, more or less immediately after the first time I invited her in. I didn’t necessarily want her there. I hadn’t asked her to move in. I hadn’t even granted permission. She just kinda presumed her way in. She had a good straight presumption, with a lot of power down the left-field line.

    Two years after I’d given her permission to get two dogs, we had four dogs, and a cat. She got a Bullmastiff and a Bloodhound- she named them “Charles” and “Chester”- because she’d always wanted big dogs. Apparently she shopped around for size; because both of the dogs were well above standard. Chester the Bloodhound, weighed almost two hundred pounds; wasn’t obese and insisted on sharing my bed.

    While the big dogs were still wee puppies; she bought a Boston Terrier named “Martha”. She said two big phlegmatic type dogs like Charles and Chester needed a Boston to stir their spirits up. Well, to hear Pretty tell it, if you buy a Boston, a Beagle Dog is almost mandatory, to complete the set. Never heard that one myself. Pretty thought she knew all about dogs; though she admitted that she’d never had one. Whence she drew her mysterious, and seemingly arbitrary knowledge, I do not know. Hell, it was easier to give in, than to argue with her. We ended up with a Beagle Dog named “Heidi”; and a big tomcat named “Luke”- ‘cause the dogs needed a pet too; don’t you know…

    Every since I’d explained to her how my Multi-Dimensional Visualizer worked; she’d been working on her own smaller version. She’d set up her own solid-state LED monitor; built around her own easy chair. She used my electronic brain for much of her number crunching; but she’d also set up several nodes, consisting of sixteen dual processors each, to supplement her system. She’d also hooked two or three-dozen state-of-the-art visual cards together, in what looked to me to be a tangled, confused mess- at first glance- though I’m sure there was some solid thinking somewhere.

    She was trying to do things in a fundamentally different way than I was. I wanted to be able to expose my mind to large amounts of raw data; including a few inevitable errors, or distortions- all in real time. I was relying on my subconscious mind; and my mutant brain to assemble it all together somehow; in a way that made sense. Pretty was trying to spend a lot of time creating a very highly polished final product. It had all the errors; redundancies, and distortions carefully edited out. Even though she’d taken a large part of the creative process herself; watching the final presentation was a useful learning process for her; and she could watch each presentation several times, picking up new insights each time through. Essentially she was creating first class tutorials for herself. On the other hand, although her presentations were much more eloquent than mine; they lacked much of the obfusticating real world details that made mine so much more real- but harder to grasp in their entirety.

    Pretty also had another obsession: self-programming; evolving software and hardware. She’d simulate some extraordinary neural networks- using some primitive first designs that I’d developed, and some mathematical tools that I’d created; and she set them to evolving through hundreds of thousands of clock cycles. Then she’d evolve the software the same way. Then she’d figure ingenious ways to hybridize her brilliant analog computers, with the most digital number-crunching power that she could cram into a small package. I really wasn’t sure at that point, what her ultimate goal was. I was generally happy when she left me in peace. I did know that she wanted to be able to create small autonomous robots; with a very high degree of autonomy. She also talked a lot about creating small robots- from the size of praying mantises, up to the size, perhaps, of a large coon- capable of scuttling around in the dark, out of sight; rustling through garbage heaps; dumpsters; and junk piles; and gathering enough material surreptitiously to fabricate armies of new robots. I have to admit, that last sounded rather fanciful to me. As I said, her games kept her out of my hair.

    Artificial- simulated evolution was already creating some weird stuff. Computers with their vaguely defined methodologies; and their billions of calculations per second, sometimes came up with magnificent kludges- things that worked by algorithms no human brain could fully comprehend; by methods no human could ever have conceived; woven amongst brute force computational paths that could never be thoroughly explored, or understood. My artificial evolution projects- such as they were- were for me, no more than only moderately interesting means to occasional ends- and they were already decades ahead of state of the art. Pretty, who was a genius in her own right, had managed to harness both her own prodigious intellect, and some of my Multi-Dimensional calculating programs, to create stuff that was generations ahead of our time.

    You’d never guess that Pretty was a genius; based on some of the crack-brained activities she took part in. She really got into the cyber-punk scene. They were into some new novel nonsense they called “Costuming”. It was part amateur Magna and Animae; part role-playing; and to some small degree, reality. The way I got the idea, you created a comic book hero; but you were also supposed to have a real live costumed dude to bring to conventions- or whatever. He was supposed to really take his role seriously; and be a bit of a hacker in his own right. Just the type reality-blurring activity that’s bound to help anyone batten his or her reality hatches down- particularly people that are reality challenged anyway.

    Now Pretty had a character who wore a long baby blue velour duster. He had long blond hair, and carried a replica artillery model 08 Lugar; only it was chambered for. 357SIG. Can you guess the dude’s name? That’s it: Luftwaffe Air marshal Herman Goering. I didn’t see the desirability of the Nazi connection; but she insisted that all sorts of costumers borrowed historical names; that it was one of the tenants of costuming; that a historical villain’s name was just as good a handle as a historical hero’s- actually, all else being equal, a past villain’s identity was to be preferred. But mainly, the dude was master of the skies; he really couldn’t be master of he skies with any less imposing title than Luftwaffe Air Marshal.

    Well you guessed it. She managed to persuade me to go to the convention; and be Air Marshal Goering for her to show of to her crack-brained friends. What could possibly induce me to do such a humiliating thing? Well, I spent large amounts of my time impersonating a seventy year old; three hundred and thirty pound black woman. My brother has no eyes. I’m not easy to embarrass. Besides, I stuck to the time-honored tactic of negotiators everywhere- I insisted on concessions. I’d wear the baby blue duster, and impersonate Air Marshal Goring for ten days; but in return; I wanted all of us- me, Pretty; the four dogs; and the cat; to go on a six week camping trip in Northern Michigan. I hadn’t been in the woods since I’d moved to Louisville. I thought it would be a happy-making thing. Yeah well…

    .....RVM45 [beat]

    .....Mage2- no offence taken. I wondered if you thought the book was completed; and I just left the end off for meaness; or if you were simply in a hurry to read more.
  12. RVM45

    RVM45 Monkey+++

    Chapter Ten
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    “Why do they call them ‘catfish’?” Pretty asked me, as she concentrated on taking what looked like a five or six pound cat off her hook.

    “It’s my understanding that the name comes from the whiskers. Someone, apparently, found them catlike. On the other hand, I’ve heard them make some surprisingly catlike verbalizations as they’re unhooked- not real loud; but catlike.”

    “They’re slimy, and nasty”, she griped.

    “Yes they are. Ever butcher a chicken? No, of course you haven’t- big inner-city girl like yourself. Paradox- chickens are nasty, dirty, filthy creatures. A lot of what they eat is garbage. Yet when you butcher them correctly, you come up with some of the purest, most wholesome meat around- not that you can’t get Salmonella; Trichinosis; Tapeworm- God knows what else- if you don’t handle the meat correctly. Catfish are kinda like that.”

    “Well then, maybe they should call them ‘Chickenfish ,’ “ She argued.

    I shrugged. Even out in the unspoiled wilderness of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, she couldn’t seem to can the non-stop speed-rap. I tried to tune her out- sometimes with more success than others.

    “They can’t fly,” I said.

    Nonetheless, I was enjoying myself. It brought back happy memories of camping in the area, with my mother and father- and Bucky too, when I was a boy. My brother has no eyes- yet he’d learned to do a surprising number of outdoor type things- partly because of his superior senses and superior intellect; partly because my father never pitied or pampered him. I hadn’t always hated Bucky. I grew up with him. He was my brother. When he’d killed my mother and father; he’d also robbed me of a brother. That was one more reason that I had to hate him. My faith taught forgiveness. The day that Bucky came to me, said he was sorry, and asked to be forgiven- I’d give it serious consideration. Until then, screw him. Even if I forgave him, I could still feel obliged to kill him- I supposed, in the abstract. It was pretty much academic. Bucky wasn’t going to repent.

    “My brother has no eyes” Pretty said with some heat, as a catfish finned her.

    “That’s something I’m supposed to say. You don’t have a brother. In fact, since I’ve never heard you so much as mention a father or mother, you may very well have formed asexually, under a cabbage leaf somewhere.”

    “Are you my friend?”

    “Yes, of course. Why else would I put up with you?”

    “I have really big jiimel-jobbies.”

    “Yes you do; but lets not get into personalities. I told you that I have no interest in sex. I’ve also told you that I don’t groove on vulgar jesting.”

    “That wasn’t really vulgar.” She held up her hand to forestall further conversation on that topic; ‘cause she was hot on the trail of another item of dispute. “Bucky is your worst enemy, right?”

    “Bucky is my worst- and only- enemy.”

    “Well, that makes him my enemy too- my worst enemy. Isn’t an enemy the same thing as a brother?”

    “How so?” I could see that she was going to treat me to another dose of her outré logic. I saved time, and started shaking my head in wonderment, before she’d gotten started good, on her arguments.

    “Cain killed Abel”, She argued.

    “And Jesus Wept.”

    “Not right then, of course.” Once again her hand came up to silence me. “ I know. You didn’t imply that. Jacob heated Esau out of his birthright. Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery.”

    “Yeah, I see what you mean. Moe Howard used to slap his brothers; and call them ‘Chuckleheads’- obviously proving your point. If you want to claim Bucky as a brother, feel free. Don’t be too surprised, if you ever have the misfortune to meet him, to find him under whelmed at the idea of having a black sister.”

    “Is he a racist, or something?”

    “Well, everyone can’t be tolerant enough to have Herman Goering for a hero. But y’know, I’d never given it much thought- but you’re right, Bucky never seemed to care for black folk very much. Don’t know where he picked that up. Course’n he didn’t much care for anyone.”

    “Not the REAL Herman Goering…My costuming character. Anyway, I based him on you!”

    “Yes, well um…When did you ever see me carry an Artillery Model Lugar- or any Lugar, for that matter; speak with a Germanic accent; or wear a Baby-Blue Duster? Where do you come up with some of this bullshit?”

    Leaving aside the constant chatter, and the crack-brained arguments, we had a good time. At least I had a good time. The dogs enjoyed getting to roam a bit; though I kept them in sight. The cat stayed in a box; or on a leash; since cats aren’t smart enough not to wonder off permanently. Nonetheless, I think that he enjoyed the fresh air and change of scenery. I think Pretty enjoyed herself. She said that she did; and I really had no reason to think that she didn’t. However there was always enough of an element of opacity to her thoughts and emotions for me to ever be absolutely sure about anything, where her inner world was concerned.

    I taught Pretty how to build a good campfire. Then once she mastered that, we moved on to starting a fire with a fire drill; flint and steel; and magnifying glass. I showed her how to cook over a bed of hot coals; how to make camp bread; biscuits; and pannacakes. We fished; and set snares for small birds; squirrels; rabbits; possums; and such. We went for long hikes in the woods. I showed her how to pick blackberries and possum grapes; how to harvest cattail roots; and how to make sassafras tea. We grooved on a half-dozen edible insects that weren’t too likely to incite reflex gagging- at least not in me. We made a bow, and several flint tipped arrows. We looked at the stars at night- and I’d devoted most of the load carrying capabilities of the two big dogs, to lugging in a fairly big telescope. It didn’t have much to do with primitive survival; but I liked stargazing.

    We were I the fifth week, of a projected six week trip- not that there was any compelling reason not to stay another six weeks, or even six months, if it came to that. It was night. We’d let the fire die down. I was sitting close to Pretty- by my standards. I find it extremely claustrophobic to have someone anyone much closer to me than a long arms length, plus a few inches. Nonetheless, I could have touched her; if I’d leaned way far over to my left.

    “You know I’m really not bullshitting with you, when I tell you that I have no libido- or if I do, it’s such a still small voice, that it’s very easily drowned out by legitimate concerns”, I began.

    “Well, I’m not quite that bad, but I don’t joke when I say that it’s something that I don’t feel very often; and not very strongly, even then.”

    “I like spending time with you though. I’d gladly make the commitment to always hang with you, like this. And anyway, my parents wouldn’t have approved of us living under the same roof like we do; without benefit of clergy…”

    “Are you proposing?”

    “No, not yet anyway- let me finish my disclaimer. Did you ever hear the joke about the ninety seven year old man, who went to the Doctor, to find out if he was ‘Sexually Fit’?”

    “No, what happens?”

    “Doctor asks to see his sex organs; so the old bastard sticks out his tongue; and gives him the finger.”

    “Why? He asked the Doctor to evaluate him.”

    “The old man was completely impotent. Those were his ‘Sex Organs’.”

    “I gotta admit, that’s pretty funny; but I thought you hated vulgar talk.”

    “I’m trying to make a point. If you should marry me; I might, at some future time, come to find some lead in my pencil. There’s no guarantee though. I might never be able to offer you more than the old pervert in the joke. It’s little enough to offer anyone- let alone a pretty young woman like yourself. Nonetheless, if you’re serious, when you make al those remarks about getting married; I’d truly like to. Just don’t ever forget, that my brother has no eyes. If I ever had children; God knows what kind of Godless mutants that I might sire. I’m evil.”

    “How do you figure that you’re evil?”

    “I was convicted of murdering my parents. I didn’t kill them; but just being blamed for it, defiles me with a healthy dollop of evil.”

    At that precise instant, she leapt to her feet; and started to draw her .357 Magnum Revolver- a four inch Smith and Wesson Model 19; round butted; nickel plated; Mag-Na-Ported; hammer bobbed; with custom Stag grips. As she started her draw, she shouted,

    “What the F…”

    She never got to finish her draw; or her exclamation. All at once the peaceful night erupted into gunfire.

    Whatever they hit Pretty with didn’t sound like a firearm. It wasn’t that loud; but it was ungodly bright. It crackled venomously, and promptly robbed me of all my night vision. Yes well…I don’t need eyes to see. My brother has no eyes. Like him, I have three-by-three hearing- I have three times the sound gathering ability; and three times the tone discrimination of a human. I also have not one; but two narrow zones in the ultrasonic; where my gain is very high. And I’d watched them teaching Bucky how to echolocate as far back as I can remember. I’d practiced echolocation in dark rooms, from an early age myself. Not only was it interesting; but also I flashed on how handy it might come in, coon hunting on a dark night; or something.

    I used my echolocation sense to shoot the first two. I kept my eyes tightly closed; so as to spare them any more immediate exposure to bright light. I can recover my night vision in a fraction of the time it would take a human. I’d have though the sound of gunfire would have hurt my ears. Instead, each time that I squeezed the trigger of the .45 Caliber 1911A1, I got a super-detailed vision of the world around me. Echolocation, as opposed to vision, is not strongly directional. I could perceive things behind me, almost as clearly as I could things right in front of me. Although some aspects of them would be progressively becoming more dated; they gave me a clear map of the permanent features of the terrain. I consciously chose to hold each gunshot enhanced snapshot in my mind- although constantly making minor revisions- until the next loud snapshot became available. Something had kicked my echolocation skills into a whole new area of expertise- instantly.

    I got my night vision back in time to see one of the clients getting ready to stick me with what appeared to be a pitchfork-sized shock prod. Chester the Bloodhound leapt between us. The client stabbed Chester in the chest with the prod; and activated it. Sparks flew six inches from the triple tines. It wasn’t meant to be lethal. It probably would not have been- except Chester kept forcing himself forward toward the client, driving the blunt tines deeper into his chest all the while. Finally he dragged himself close enough to the client, to rip his throat out.

    Truth be told, these were some passing strange clients. They were clad in black BDUs, from shoulders to toes. They all had some quaint helmets on; that completely covered their faces with odd, insectoid compound lenses hiding their eyes. Bunch of Sociopathic freaks- if anyone should ask me. One of them managed to grab me from behind, just as I was moving to try to come to Chester’s aid. Another of the fly-eyed ninjas ran up to Chester; and gave him both barrels of a short shotgun, at contact range. Then he had to draw his pistol, and empty it into Chester’s head, as Chester ripped his leg to shreds. Heidi the Beagle Dog leapt out of nowhere, to seize the gunman’s gun hand. I didn’t get to see her demise, though I have no doubt that she died like a warrior. About then someone hit me hard across the back of the head. It didn’t put me down; but it addled me. Then I was hit by one of the jumbo shock prods. Someone hosed my face with a combination CN/CS & Capsin spray- never seen tear gas and pepper gas combined. Someone else shot me with some sort of trank dart. I had two or three clients hanging on each hand. Overburdened as I was, my customer satisfaction slipped considerably.

    Sometime- several eternities later- I came to consciousness in an alternate universe that was virtually identical to the one that I’d left behind so many eons before. They had me in a straight jacket and leg irons; and they even had a muzzle on me. I noted that they’d piled the bodies of all four of the dogs beside the fire. While I watched, one of the clients grabbed the cat’s cage, the cat still in it, and hurled him into the creek to drown. I howled in rage, and tried to sit up. But I couldn’t stand because of he way that I was bound.

    I looked at Chester’s body. He’d focused on me, for some reason, to be his best friend; his brother; his God; and the source of all that was good and bright in his little world. If someone had asked me how I felt about Chester; before that day, I’d have said that he was a bloody nuisance; and he was. But I realized then, that I’d loved him, even before he’d given his life trying to protect me. No normal human- or a near human mutant like myself; could have failed to return such an ardent affection. He’d loved me, and I’d repaid him by getting him killed. The rage started to pour over me in bright warm burgundy waves- thick as corn syrup; bitter like unsweetened cocoa; but sweet as honey, all at the same time. I’d never been quite so angry.

    The client who’d killed Chester sat across from me, his helmet removed, and his leg and forearm bandaged. I smiled at him.

    “You killed my dog. I give you fair warning. You should kill me while you can. You are already dead; but that isn’t your main problem. I am a mutant and a genius. My brother has no eyes. When I come for you, I will have invented whole new categories of suffering for you to endure. You will beg me to kill you for months. Nor will it stop here. Do you have parents? a gray-haired old father? a dear old mother? They’ll die in screaming agony too. Do you have any brothers or sisters? I hold them equally guilty. They’ll share your fate. Have any children? Cousins, Friends?-how about pets? I’ll make myself a necklace of their finger bones; and their screams will be a hymn thanking God, that I can’t torment them forever; and eventually they’ll die. Hell will be a relief for them.”

    “I hold no one or no thing dear-except The Eyeless One. He is Alpha and Omega- The One True Light!”

    “My eyeless brother? I’ll try to keep you alive to see me make him eat his own balls- and make him chew them thoroughly before he swallows. Then I’ll make him a nice lei from his own bowels. It’ll be a happy-making thing. You are invited!”

    “Jimmy! I see you’re still alive, and still the diplomat.”

    “Pretty! You’re still alive!”

    “You won’t get out of marrying me that easily.”

    I couldn’t see Pretty; but just then my eyeless brother walked into my field of vision. He’d grown tremendously. He was a head taller than me; his shoulders nearly a foot wider. He was muscled like a troll. There was something extremely dark; evil; and brooding about him. He walked in a sort of rolling; muscular; humpbacked stroll.

    “My brother has but one brain. Then as if that wasn’t enough of a disgrace to his family; he goes and gets himself engaged to a nigger bitch.”

    “My brother has no eyes.”

    “Maybe I should gouge your eyes out; and make you like me then.”

    “Sorry Bucky, but it’ll take a little more cutting than that. You’ll also have to cut off my balls; and my tinkler- you’d also have to remove my backbone- and remove about half my brain- oh, and my conscious…

    “But you know Bucky, I still wouldn’t be like you- ‘cause I could still look back and remember what it was like to have those things.”

    “I’m going to make you suffer.”

    “Good luck on that project. I can’t see it happening. You ain’t bright enough to get to me.”

    “How about I kill your girlfriend?”

    “Well, as long as God still has a place for her in this world, you cannot kill her. If God is ready to take her to heaven; why should I mourn? However, even the slightest discomfort you put her through, will multiply the payment that I’m eventually going to exact from you a thousand fold- you eyeless eunuch.”

    .....RVM45 [chopper][chopper]

  13. RVM45

    RVM45 Monkey+++

    Chapter Eleven
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    Being back in captivity again was rather tedious. Bucky hadn’t condescended to stoop to the cruder forms of physical torture- at least he hadn’t so far. I hadn’t even had to put up with seeing Bucky. I got tranked, and woke up in a sensory deprivation tank. It had some custom modifications; of course; and it did it’s job extremely well. They had a tube down my throat to feed me- though I could only barely feel it- and then, only when I concentrated. They also had at least one heparin lock in a good vein 24/7; so they could dose me at will.

    I carefully kept track of the time, the first few days- counting heartbeats; breaths; sleepy cycles; etc. Eventually, of course, I lost all track of time. I do know that they let me stew in the tank AU NATUALE the first five or six days. Then they started IVing fairly large quantities of LSD into my system- not in batch doses; but in a continual drip. I knew that they tranked me every so often too; because I could tell- though very vaguely- when they’d put in a new heparin lock.

    Did Bucky think the LSD would leave me less able to escape? Or did he think it would intensify my discomfort? Was he trying to soften me up for something? Could he have been experimenting on me? Maybe he just had a huge surplus of Acid; and thought that a good steward would find use for it somewhere. Or maybe there was no motive. Who could tell with Bucky? My brother has no eyes.

    Before the long stint in the Looney Bin, I’d had total recall- as near total as it’s truly possible for a mortal to have. It’s not so much things get forgotten- there’s a lot of fairly convincing evidence that once something makes it to long-term memory- anything that can be remembered a minute, or so, after it happened- will always be remembered. What gets misplaced- even there, not truly forgotten- over time- are the “Call-Up Codes”. There are very few ways to get a “Stack Pass” to riffle at random through one’s memories.

    I had obsessed for years about memories that the Electroshock; and Insulin Shock; and massive doses of Psychedelics; combined with long-term use of Thorazine, and strong Anti-Psychotics and Anti-Depressants; had cost me. I’d also obsessed that someday I might be locked up again; with no way to verify any figures; or formulas; or facts that might be even remotely useful in trying to escape. In consequence, I’d thoroughly mastered the most advanced of the mnemonic systems, and I’d memorized all sorts of things- almost compulsively- formulas; charts; graphs; physical and mathematical constants; Trig charts to five places; Logarithm charts; Anatomy charts; Chemical formulas; Molecular diagrams; Maps; Bible Verses; foreign language vocabularies; Ballistics charts; Loading manuals.

    Guess what Bucky! With nothing else to occupy my mind, all kinds of facts are spontaneously arranging themselves into some very elegant Multi-Dimensional organizational and flowcharts. Something else Bucky: all that LSD has written me one hell of a stack pass; to wander all the Dead-Storage Archives in my brain. My brother has no eyes, my ass! I’d come to wonder if he had a brain!

    I’d worked with Seven-Dimensional equations extensively, for no real reason; except that Seven seemed a nice round number. I found when I came to truly visualize things in Multiple Dimensions; that except for a few very limiting and specialized cases; there was no good way to expand from Seven Dimensions to Eight; Nine; or Ten Dimensions. To further the understanding much; it was necessary to make the quantum leap to the next Prime number of Dimensions. I had all kinds of partial intuitions as to why that was so; but nothing that I could have conveyed, even in the vaguest terms, to any other Mathematician on Earth.

    Seventeen Dimensions- with many limiting conditions, and restrictions of scope- I could follow some useful arguments visually in Seventeen Dimensions. Now here’s the thing- there is no room in the real world for more than Three Spatial Dimensions. One would think that a Seventeen Dimensional Space- even an abstract one- would feel like it was packed full of everything that it could properly contain- sort of Claustrophobic, as it were. Nope, I constantly felt that I was standing in all kinds of odd nooks and crannies, looking at my Seventeen Dimensional Abstract Sculpture from somewhere OUTSIDE of time and Seventeenfold Space- weird.

    Weirder yet, I could feel my heparin locks being removed; the tube carefully being withdrawn from my throat. Then the bandages were removed from my eyes. For a very brief moment, I thought I saw Bucky. Then I realized that this fellow was lacking an eye and socket, only on the right hand side of his head. On the left side, he had a perfectly good eye; though set very deeply under a very thick Supra-Orbital ridge and over a very robust cheekbone. He looked like a workingman. Bucky had- only too obviously- never had done any real manual labor- though I had every confidence that Bucky would prove a strong and cruel fighter.

    “I’m your cousin Lemuel. I came to get you out of here.”

    Suddenly I seemed to make sense of it all.

    “You’re a Centaur!” I said, while laughing uproariously.

    “What a time for you to be high” He said disgustedly.

    I was sorry if it inconvenienced him. I struggled to find the right formulas to convey that precise flavor of my mannerly regret, but nothing seemed unambiguous enough. Every possible word combination seemed fraught with frivolous vagueness.

    “You mean a Cyclops; but don’t ever tell a man who’s actually met a few Cyclops, that he looks like one- that is; unless you want to start a fight.”

    There were a couple other armed men with him. I couldn’t walk right good- or even stand with any sense of conviction; so they propped me up, and half dragged me along. Lemuel handed me Pretty’s .357. They’d stuck it into a holster, on an over-the-shoulder leather bandoleer. The bandoleer had seven or eight speed loaders in leather pouches; and over twice that many spill pouches. Someone was most anxious that Pretty not run out of ammo.

    “Is this yours?” Lemuel asked.

    “Actually, that’s Pretty’s.”

    “You do know how to use it?”

    I frowned at the inanity of the question.

    “Of course. Weapon Master am. Pistolero am. Verbal skills screwed up by acid- yes? Not a Cycloptic Centaur. My brother has no eyes.”

    “Try to concentrate real hard. There’s something I need the answer to. It’s very important. Are you allied with The Hellspawn?”

    “Do you mean Pretty?”

    “Is that her name? Is she your ally?”

    “She is my betrothed.”

    He did a double take as that unexpected aspect of reality blindsided him.

    “Well then, we mustn’t spare any effort to rescue her. We’d hate to leave anyone in your brother’s clutches; but then again, sometimes we need to triage. Kindred betrothed to Hellspawn.” He laughed uproariously, and added, “ It will be funny as hell, to see some of the Elder’s faces, when we load that onto their plates.”

    Understand, we weren’t standing around shooting the breeze. They were dragging me at a nice clip, the whole time. As we stepped around the corner, we ran into a squad of Bucky’s Insect-Eyed Buckaroos. There was Lemuel; the two men dragging me; and two more of he Kindred. There was over a dozen of Bucky’s henchmen. In less time than it takes to tell, there was me; Lemuel; my two bearers; and my two honor-guards, and all Bucky’s Boys were dead or dying. My bearers never bothered to attempt to draw their weapons. They knew it would be over before they could hope to join in- all except for one Ninja.

    I grabbed Lemuel’s rifle, and pushed the muzzle up just in time.

    “No! I wailed frantically. You can’t kill him!”

    “Why not?”

    “Because I want to!”

    I shot the fellow right in his kneecap. He rolled on the floor, and howled like a lost soul.

    “Does that hurt? I hope so. I paused for a moment, to let him savor the moment thoroughly. Then I shot his other kneecap.

    “Balls” I said, and shot him there. Finally, I gave him two to the face. I spilled all six shells on the ground, making no effort to save the live one. I contrived to reload the revolver from a spill-pouch, thus keeping one more speed loader in reserve. Lemuel looked furious.

    “What was that little psycho mini-drama about?”

    “That dude killed my Bloodhound. I told him that I’d make him suffer, when I killed him. Pity that circumstances didn’t allow me to make it more prolonged and painful.”

    Lemuel patted me on the shoulder.

    “Did you catch that?” One of my Bodyguards enthused.” Gave the man a double kneecapping for killing his dog- He’s Kindred, all right!”

    “And engaged to The Hellspawn!” Another cheered.

    I was becoming a bit concerned about the way they all referred to Pretty as “The Hellspawn”. Not only did it sound kinda disrespectful; but also they were starting to make me wonder…

    .....RVM45 [chopper]

  14. RVM45

    RVM45 Monkey+++

    Chapter Twelve
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    “My father said that we had kinfolk in Kentucky. He said that’s why we were moving back here- to have allies. I never found out what he and the company were quarrelling about anyway. I did wonder why no kinfolk showed up- briefly. At the time it didn’t seem important.”

    “He probably figured that he was being watched fairly closely; figured he was subject to a preemptive strike at any time. He didn’t want to precipitate a one-sided struggle”, Lemuel explained.

    We’d all escaped in good order. Bucky had moved Pretty and me to a compound he had in the Western part of Virginia, while we were both unconscious. We’d quickly scurried back to our home turf, in Eastern Kentucky. So a few hours later, we sat across a table, forming a war council.

    “Just who exactly are you people?” I asked.

    “They’re The Kindred” Pretty said, as though that should have made everything crystal clear. “Honest to God, it never occurred to me that you were Kindred. You don’t have the exaggerated facial ridges. You’re strong; but you don’t pack on wholesale-sized slabs of muscle, like most Kindred. You’re too smart to be Kindred. You don’t even have the characteristic smell…”

    “Kindred are stupid?” I asked, honestly perplexed.

    Lemuel didn’t take offence. He started explaining in his own words.

    “ Kindred are far smarter than humans- however…” He began. “Kindred are fairly long-lived. Often much of our intellectual gifts don’t start to draw notice ‘till our 60s and 70s. Even then, many of us- although ingenious in many mechanical and mathematical ways- have inferior verbal skills. We also tend to get stuck in rigid, unyielding customs and traditions. Also, paradoxical as it may sound, we are much more driven by instinct in some sections of our lives, than the less intellectually gifted humans.
    “You have enough human in your genome though; that with any luck at all, you should avoid most of our inflexibility, and Bullheadedness.”

    “But just what in hell are y’all?” I persisted.

    “What do you know of your ethnic heritage?”

    “Not much- we’re mainly Scots-Irish.”

    “Where were the Scots-Irish before they came to Ireland?”


    “Before that.”

    “Celtic Europe? I’m not a historian.”

    “Farther North?”

    “ The Norsemen? Norse gods? Laplanders? Santa’s Elves? Frost Giants?”

    “Close with that last guess. We’re what the Norse referred to as ‘Trolls’- though most of their tales about Trolls were nonsense. Kindred are Trolls. Not to say that all, or even any significant fraction of Scots-Irish are Kindred.”

    “And why do y’all refer to Pretty as ‘The Hellspawn’?”

    “I’m sure that Pretty would like to explain her own unique heritage to you, in her own time and way. We need to tell you- and her- some more about your own unique ancestry. Have you ever heard of the ‘Tuatha De Danann’?”

    Pretty gasped aloud in shock. The others already knew; but it was clear that the subject made them uneasy.

    “That’s an old Gaelic term for Leprechauns- the ‘wee folk’ isn’t it?”

    “No that’s a whole other story. The Tuatha De Danann were an ancient people of extraordinary knowledge; wisdom; power; and longevity…”

    “They were gods”, Pretty cut him off. “They were gods. They haven’t walked the Earth in centuries though. They had their time; and now they’re gone- departed…”

    “That’s where you’re wrong. We know where a small enclave- seven or eight of them- highly reclusive- still survives. We hadn’t exchanged a thousand words with them, in over five hundred years- until Jimmy’s great-great grandparent’s time. In a word, he is a little more than three-eighths Kindred; a little less than one-fourth human; and a bit less than three-eighths ‘Tuatha De Danann’- He and his trouble-making sibling. Certain other Kindred among us share lesser amounts of Tuatha De Dannon blood.”

    Lemuel gestured at his own freak visage.

    “My brother has no eyes” Pretty ejaculated.

    “Mine either- there’s a lot of that going around, apparently”, I agreed with her.

    The rest of The Kindred- my kinfolk- looked at us strangely.

    “What kind of idiot necromancy are you up to, trying to reweave The Ancient One’s genes? Does your arrogance have no limit?” Pretty demanded.

    “What kind of dangerous gene weaving will you and ‘Light Breaker’ be up to, once you get to the point of consummating your nuptials?” Lemuel countered.

    “Lemuel, if your crack-brained revelations cause Pretty to reconsider our betrothal; I’ll use your misshapen skull as a hood ornament!”

    “And if you were convinced it was necessary for ‘The Greater Good’?”

    “Then I’d cut you far less slack; than if you acted in mere cruelty, or ignorance.”

    “I have no objections to you marrying The Hellspawn. That will be good fun actually.”

    “Thank you, Lemuel. You don’t know how relieved I am- to hear you say that” Pretty purred menacingly.

    “When did I become ‘Light Breaker’?”

    “ Well since some of your brother’s Minions started referring to him as ‘The One True Light’. Good psy-op, don’t y’know?”

    “And I suppose” I said wearily, “That there’s all sorts of Prophecies about Light Breaker?”

    Lemuel took a hefty swallow of Scotch from the Tin cup that he was drinking from.

    “Nary a one” He said, while wiping his mouth with his sleeve. “But if you’d like to have some prophesies about yourself…”

    “No, no- my brother has no eyes. No need to warn him what’s going down ahead of time- unless you can come up with some suitable Delphic; inscrutable; ambiguous; and ultimately self-fulfilling prophecies…
    “Anyway dude, were you raised in a barn? You could offer to share some of the liquid libation…”

    “In all seriousness, yes, I was raised in a barn- but as Kindred, and friend of The Kindred, you’re both welcome to partake of ‘The Water of Life.’ “

    We didn’t get much scheming and strategizing done the rest of that afternoon- or that night, either, so far as that goes. I did find out that Lemuel was both a clever Chess player, and a tough arm wrestling opponent. Pretty proved that she could hurl daggers farther, and more accurately than any of the Kindred- although by all appearances- throwing darts; daggers; and tomahawken was a common Kindred pastime- as was good-natured, bare-knuckled fights; and all sorts of eating and drinking contests; and curiously enough; long ballads; stories; and poetry recitations also figured highly in the nights entertainments.

    It’s good to have kin.

    I found out a few things of interest, and value, over the next few days. The Louisville home had been compromised. I’d fixed it up so that anyone breaking in; would initiate a meltdown sequence of my gear. There wouldn’t have been two untoasted transistors still connected together; nor two unaltered bits of data still in sequence in any of the memories.

    {Yes, yes I admit it- I used transistors in SOME of my gadgets. At least I have a firm enough grounding in the theory of Vacumn Tubes; that I always see any solid-state device as a pinch-hitter for a tube(s)- and never as a primary. I know that as long as theorists and inventors continue to take the easy short-term approach of designing their projects around transistors; that tubes never will be restored to their rightful place as the go-to technology. On the other hand, I often have to build on the work of transistor-minded chuckleheads- and my time is always in short supply…

    Anyway, anyone who feels holier than me, should be researching their own tube-friendly designs…}

    Although, though I’d made scant effort to back up any of my projects- and I really had scant reason to do so; Pretty had backed all her stuff up in multiple ways- almost to the point of mania. Using her online; but hidden and brilliantly encrypted design notes; we soon had several working copies of my electronic brain; Pretty’s modified brain; her AI Network/Programs- and what seemed very trivial to me at the time- her “Herman Goering” Stuff.

    It was only when she got some of her toys ready to try; that I realized how advanced some of the systems were. Keep in mind, Pretty was a super-genius; She’d taken the goals of her Psyber-Punk role-playing friends quite literally. She’d been developing systems that would actually allow a bizarrely dressed man to walk the streets; and to posses all sorts of Animae/Comic Comic book powers and abilities. I should have taken her work more seriously.

    Just as things were kinda gettin’ back to normal; just when Pretty and I had set a date for our wedding; just as I come to know the family I’d never met before; just as Pretty had started training a couple more Bloodhounds- Bucky decided to strike.

    We all had some desire to stay off the government’s radar. Both sides had tried to keep a low profile. In any sort of stand-off situation; where there is indeed a good reason(s) to stand off- the initiative always lies with the biggest gambler/the least rational. That’s an excellent reason to avoid stand-offs whenever possible. Ain’t always an option though…

    My brother has no eyes. His Blitzkrieg resulted in several of my kinfolk killed- folks that I’d come to love. They’d killed both my new Bloodhound puppies- and though I hadn’t truly bonded with them yet; I was not indifferent. Worst of all, the knob-gobbling pervert had kidnapped Pretty; along with a handful of other Kindred.

    I went to Pretty’s lab; and started riffling through her real-life Super-Hero gear- Time for Herman Goering to save the world. I was sure glad that using the gear wouldn’t entail calling myself “Ted Kennedy”; or impersonating hillary clinton- I mean, some things are too much, even for love.

    .....RVM45 [chopper]

  15. RVM45

    RVM45 Monkey+++

    Chapter Thirteen
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    In the old days, a desire to keep in close touch, had kept the Kindred in one general area. They’d begun in the area where Kentucky; Tennessee; and Virginia come together. Over time they’d spread the length of Kentucky; and into Missouri and Southern Indiana a bit. Secondary concentrations formed in the Ozarks and parts of Alaska. The Kindred had always been free to live where they chose, even in ancient times. In the modern world, there were individuals, or small family groups in every state of the Union.

    The call had went out for a council of war. The Kindred had foreseen that the day would come when they’d need to have a large meeting. When the day came, they wanted to be able to hold the meeting in secret; and secure from attack; in case it turned out not to be as secret as they’d hoped. They managed to build a huge underground meeting bunker- as large as many medium-sized school’s basketball auditorium.

    Now that did not mean that every Kindred in North America was coming to confer in the bunker. Mostly it would be leaders of one sort or the other. Of course, if someone had a very strong feeling that he ought to be at the meeting; it wasn’t like the Kindred to deny him access.

    They were just getting ready to start, when Cletus gave me the count- three hundred and thirty seven Kindred- give or take. I’d been curious, and asked him and his cousin to stand at the entrance with a counter. Folks came and went. There were ushers, and other service people, making a fully accurate tally very next to impossible; but the count gave me a fair idea.

    Cletus was Lemuel’s nephew. He and Lemuel’s son Earl had been appointed my general guides; aides; and liaisons; during the coming campaign. They were fourteen and thirteen respectively. They’d both lost a brother to Bucky’s attack, and an aunt. They were both grimly focused on whatever task I put them to.

    I thought time was a wasting while they gathered; but that was nothing compared to when the meeting started. Honest to God, they would call adjournments while two- or more- of the participants went “outside”- not actually above ground, mind you- to reason out the finer points of some argument by the use of fisticuffs. They had a couple styles of boxing they practiced; and three or four styles of grappling. They spent large blocks of time arguing what style to use- though they usually resort to no-holds-barred type contests. Surprisingly? - Or perhaps not, there were very few injuries- besides broken noses; smashed lips; an occasional broken arm; or stained knee or elbow.

    Lemuel walked up to me during a recess.

    “If it ever occurs to you to wonder: That’s why the Kindred, with their greater strength; intelligence; and longevity never conspired to take over the Earth- particularly back in olden times- now you know. We lack the ability to reach consensus; or to govern ourselves beyond the medium-sized clan level. Partly it’s our greater sense of smell; you and me don’t have anything like a full dose of it. They can’t sort out all the pheromones in a gathering that large. That’s one main reason for the fights. You’ll notice that after a fight, they’re much more likely to agree? They’ve been close enough, for long enough, to get a good whiff of each other”, Lemuel Said.

    “They’re like a bunch of inbred Hillbilly Klingons, wasting time like there was no reason to make haste!” I spat. “My brother has no eyes. Here has Pretty, as well as several others- if any of them are still alive. God alone knows what Bucky might do to them. He is insane, and worse yet, he has no honour. No telling what sick things he might think to do to her…”

    I clenched my fists; and ground my teeth in pure frustration. All the while, there was a small part of me that knew that extreme anger was as close to enlightenment as mortal man may come. That small part of me ran around gleefully picking up the pieces of my shattered thoughts like manna from heaven; and carefully storing them away, to serve me in the future.

    The future was where I might meet Bucky. In the future, I might need every bit of rage I could muster to defeat him. In the future, my rage might be put to good use. In the present circumstances, it could only serve as an expensive sort of entertainment. I slowly calmed myself. It always seemed wrong- almost blasphemous, to deliberately dim the light that way. But what alternative did I have? I’d lose the light eventually, regardless. Keeping the rage going longer would simply mean that I would burn up more physical and mental resources. When times are hard, it makes no sense to keep a fire going in the fireplace all summer. Hoard it for a time of need.

    “They’re not really wasting time. We’ll have to locate Pretty and the others before we can strike. It would be nice to pin down Bucky too- but he may not be with the captives. Indeed, the captives may not all be in one place.” Lemuel said. “People are searching as we speak. When we find them, we’ll strike. We don’t need the council’s okay for that. The council is more…what? Pep rally maybe? Formality? Hard to explain…

    “Come on I’ll introduce you to some people who are trying to find Bucky even now.”

    We went to his truck, my two ever present aides and me; and he drove us to a farm about forty minutes away. It took longer than that of course, with all his tail-spoiling maneuvers.

    “What if Bucky’s already hacked into the Domestic Surveillance Satellites?” I asked.

    “Well, he might be able to get past Homeland Security’s Firewall; but I doubt that he could gain control of the Satellites, without tipping off some of the security trips we put in when we hacked into it- partly to tell us if anyone else gained access”, Lemuel said.

    “And of course, no one has” I added wryly.

    “Actually, there’s almost a dozen groups have access. Best that we can tell, a couple of the other hacker groups are even human.”

    “Just how many humanoid, non-human species are there running around loose in the world?” I wondered aloud, in astonishment.

    “Well, if you want to limit it to humanoids capable of interbreeding successfully with humans- at least once in a great while; that does narrow it down a bit.” He paused to think. “Several, none anywhere near as numerous as the Kindred, of course- but…more than we have the time to discuss right now. We’ve arrived. “

    After we’d negotiated security, we ended up in another underground bunker- this one filled with computers; bright flashing lights; and all sorts of highly modified copies of my easy chair and solid-state screen. I really didn’t need my multi- dimensional visualizer since the time in the isolation tank; but Lemuel took me up to one anyway, and hooked me up. For someone who understood the process, Pretty’s process –not mine; it was a remarkably fast way to transmit complex ideas. Now we’d only been with the kindred a few months before the attack, and it had only been about three weeks since Bucky attacked us. There was already over a dozen people in the room who’d mastered the process thoroughly; and each one had made some sort of improvement.

    Compared to the multidimensional displays of data I could now visualize; Pretty’s elegant little Seven Dimensional shows seemed like Haiku. Never mind. The Kindred had managed to expand them elegantly up to Nine Dimensions- despite the fact I’d never been able to get a useful expansion without going up to the next Prime.

    “I thought you said that Kindred don’t get real smart ‘till they’re retirement age. These all look like youngsters to me”, I observed.

    “Lot of them don’t. These are some of the exceptions”, Lemuel shrugged.

    “Boys”, Lemuel said. “ Find a chair. You need to watch this too. You can’t really get anything out of it, unless you’re perfectly centered in front of the screen. There are only so many screens to go around; but we have plenty Virtual Reality Goggles. You won’t understand a lot of it at first. Never mind. It’s mnemonic. Once you see it; you’ll never forget it. Your subconscious mind will work on it; day and night; ‘till it cracks the code. “

    As he got them set up, he told them, “Your cousin Jimmy here invented this. That nice young lady- Pretty, who was stolen from us, she made lots of improvements to your cousin’s design, and so have we. That’s what we do- improve things. Stay awake, and try to watch them through twice; just to be on the safe side. If you get through them twice, we have some extra tutorials, help you decode them sooner.”

    “And yourself, Lemuel?” I asked.

    “Doesn’t work without binocular vision. That’s okay. They’re working on condensing it down for one-eyed folk. I have a pretty good auxiliary brain where my right eye would be. I’ll be able to wrap my mind around it.”

    I sat and watched the presentations they’d prepared for me. I’d spent years obsessing about Bucky; but for the first time I began to see the limitations as well as the advantages of his intelligence. He’d want wealth and power- great wealth, great power. He could have run for political office. He could probably have figured out just what positions- both political and postural; what words; what gestures to both make people forget that he was blind; while simultaneously playing the pity and guilt trip to the hilt. But politics involves many random factors, and beside, being the visible head of anything would make him a target. He’d much prefer to be the puppeteer behind the throne.

    He’d need money. The stock market- in the short term- was a Drunkards Walk- meaning totally random. I’d seen convincing mathematical proofs of that. Say, for the sake of argument, that the proofs were wrong though- I’d also seen convincing mathematical proofs that if anyone ever did figure out how to accurately predict the market, that it would be impossible to hide the fact; regardless of how small-scale and discrete he tried to be; and there was a limit to how small scale such schemes could go; and still be even hypothetically possible- even with beaucoup cheating and lawbreaking thrown in. It just wouldn’t work below a certain scale.

    My brother has no eyes. I could see him getting off on being the leader of some crack-brained cult- but if he were too successful, he’d draw the attention of IRS agents; ATF agents; both government and free-lance assassins; God knows who else. They’d be more than happy to frame him off to the big house, even if he were playing it straight; which didn’t sound at all like my brother.

    Big money; influence; the opportunity to stick his fingers in many pies; nonchalantly fishing around ‘till he had enough under his control to chance a stab at the rest- that’s what he needed, and he needed to be somewhere his mental abilities to crunch beaucoup numbers, and see patterns developing ahead of normal humans could be put to good use.

    I knew now where to look for my brother. He’d be behind many false fronts; shell companies; and every other obfusticating artifice he could conceive of; But that’s where I’d find him- When I got to the bottom- he’d controlling the advertising and entertainment industry- maybe not totally- not just yet; but he’d already be a key player; and not too far from his bid for complete control.


  16. Halffast

    Halffast Wannabe Hack Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    I'm not sure if this is genius or dementia, but I love it. Please continue.

  17. RVM45

    RVM45 Monkey+++

    Chapter Fourteen
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    “My sister has no eyes.”

    Hell of a statement to spring on me like that. I looked up from the schematic I was studying. Sure enough, there was Lemuel standing with what would otherwise been a reasonably attractive girl; except that she was as eyeless as Bucky ever dared to be- even on his worst days.

    She was about six foot- Pretty’s height; but any resemblance ended there. She had Lemuel’s long red hair; hanging just as straight as it possibly could, almost to her knees. She had what my father had called a “buttermilk” complexion. His memory- and mine- went back to when buttermilk actually had flakes of butter in it. Her skin was milk white; but profusely sprinkled with cornflake-sized freckles.

    I took all this in, in an instant, as my hand went to the grip of my 1911A1. I didn’t quite draw though. There were many reasons why I shouldn’t have shot her. The only one that caused me to hesitate right then and there, was because unlike Bucky. She didn’t seem to have an aura of evil engulfing her.

    “Jimmy, every blind person isn’t evil. Every completely eyeless mutant isn’t evil either. You trust me, don’t you?” Lemuel said from a vast distance.

    I’d decided not to fire. Nonetheless it took me a few seconds to get my locked fingers off of my pistol.

    “This is my twin sister Laura”, Lemuel said by way of introduction.

    I shook her hand.

    “I’d like to examine that pistol sometime.”

    “My .45? I assembled it from parts. It has an ambidextrous safety; high profile sights; a two-pound trigger; pinned grip safety; and stag grips. Since it has been a pistol, it has known no other hand but my own. If I have my way, it never will.”

    “No, that Artillery Model Luger replica that you have in the shoulder holster”, She said.

    I looked at Lemuel in astonishment. I could have seen her picking up a hint of the .45 on my right hip; since I’d exposed it during my aborted draw- and as I’ve said, I’m fairly good at echolocation myself. Her picking up that much data through a leather jacket was impressive.

    “I might be persuaded to let you examine that one sometime. I built it from scratch. The original fired .357 SIG; but I wasn’t satisfied. This one fires a wildcat based on .45 Magnum cases necked down to .357. It’s more powerful than the old .357 Automag Wildcats- and that’s saying something.”

    “You know how sharks can sense the electrochemical signals in potential prey? Laura can do that too. More than likely, your brother can too. He liked to hide his abilities”, Lemuel said.

    “But the Gun? Too much detail…”

    “It’s metallic, of course. It bends the lines of force all around it and I can sense them” Laura said.

    I had a sinking feeling. If Bucky could sense my muscles tensing; he’d be able to feel me preparing to launch an attack; before I’d even moved. He would be a tenth of a second- or so- ahead of the game. It would be a limited; but very useful form of precognition. In fact, it might be an advantage that I couldn’t overcome.

    “I can feel you preparing to launch an attack. The answer you’re seeking is: yes. I can almost read your mind; so you don’t have to put it to the test” Laura Said.

    Over the next few weeks, we buckled down trying to find Bucky. To the best of our knowledge, he didn’t know about the Kindred. Like me, he’d almost certainly thought that “Kinfolk” meant simply that. There was no reason for him to suspect the existence of the Kindred; until the raid had made him unambiguously aware of their existence. Bucky taking us, right to the heart of the Kindred country was probably only a coincidence.

    Our family farm had been near Cawood, in Kentucky- just next to the border. When Bucky had liquidated the assets, he’d bought some land across the State line- presumably to get the best real estate deal. He’d set up a small software consulting firm; made plenty money; and then moved to parts unknown. For whatever reason, he’d chosen to take me and Pretty back to his first piece of ground- perhaps because the facility was expendable.

    I’d designed the helium filled mini-blimps to reconnoiter from the air. I’d also fiddled around with some armed testudoes- wee little tanks, a bit smaller that a half loaf of bread. I’d never trusted their Artificial Intelligence capabilities; and I’d put them to one side. Pretty had done some major upgrades on every part of them. The Kindred in turn, took Pretty’s work one step farther. And once again, I had my hand in the mix. We soon had a fleet of small; AI piloted aircraft; doing all sorts of low profile spying for us.

    “At some point, Bucky has to get into the drug market” Laura was saying.

    “Can’t see that. My brother has no eyes. Drug dealing is a rough trade. Eventually someone would perceive his eyelessness as a weakness; and try to take over his action. It’s too high profile. Bucky doesn’t like risks.”

    “Okay, your brother sets up a software company. Being able to think in multiple dimensions, he can improve almost any program. Get through almost any security system too” Laura said.

    “That’s what we call: ‘Phase One’” Cletus contributed helpfully.

    We’d been over al this dozens of times. Even my aides knew it by rote.

    “No, no let him speak”, I said as someone stared to shush him. ” How else they gonna learn strategy? Earl, tell us about Phase Two.”

    Earl hesitated for a moment, to make sure of what he was going to say. “In the second phase, he’s still making most of his money legit; but he’s starting to run a few cyber-scams, remotely and very discretely, of course. He starts to look around for some loyal lieutenants. “

    “Okay, once he has a few loyal followers, he branches out. He can’t tell you the future of every product on the market. He’s not completely prescient. However, in certain isolated cases, he can tell with great accuracy that a certain product will really take off- or flop. It’s harder to make money off knowing something will flop though; since most new products do”, Cletus finished for him.

    “You forgot to say, that he could also predict the best way to advertise those new products. He opens an advertising agency- or several. He only really pursues the accounts that will be a big success; then he tries to take most of the credit for their success; and he certainly would have helped greatly. He goes back to being mostly legal.

    “He makes more and more money. He makes many useful contacts. He starts financing all sorts of projects through intermediaries- particularly Movies. He knows what the public wants; and he knows the best way to sell it to them. Eventually, not only is he the silent partner in more multi-million dollar businesses than you can count; but he also has a large input into what the mass media is conditioning folks for…

    “I just don’t see the necessity to deal in drugs” I concluded lamely.

    “Look at this equation, one more time” Lemuel said.

    “I know it’s some kind of Gambler’s Ruin argument; but I can’t quite visualize it. Why is my brother inevitably going to run up against Gambler’s Ruin?” I argued.

    “Think of this as a way to conceptualize money flow as a fluid system. This is a seventeen dimensional expansion of laminar flow- just before it starts to get turbulent. Remember Bernoulli’s Equation. Look at some of the constrictions” Laura said.

    “I get it! Bucky is not a reckless gambler- anything but; however the only way that he can make sure that his cash flow doesn’t become turbulent; chaotic; and completely unpredictable; is to have fairly large amounts of cash, from outside the system; that can be poured into his money flow at a moment’s notice; to kill- or at least dampen- the oscillations” I said. It’s always happy-making when you finally understand something.

    “So how does this help us find Bucky?” I asked wearily.

    “Bucky’s entrance into the drug market; with his considerable wealth; and his unique way of organizing; assessing risks; and just generally doing business; will leave identifiable signatures. Things will always be just a bit skewed from where they should be. And if we can hack into enough Law Enforcement databases; and we can crunch the right numbers; It’ll lead us right to him.”

    I was napping in my chair a couple hours later; when a Kindred named ‘Frank’ woke me up. He was prudent enough to do it long-range, with a long mop handle.

    “We’ve located Bucky’s drug operation” he told me.


  18. RVM45

    RVM45 Monkey+++

    Chapter Fifteen
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    I parked my van a few blocks away from where the street corner dealers were hustling their wares. I could see how so many of them get busted. What amazes me is how some of them can do business for months, or even years, without getting busted.

    I walked up to a dealer that I’d been cultivating, a man called “Modok”. At first I thought that he’d taken the name of the big-brained comic book villain; but it turned out that he’d once beaten a fellow half to death with one of those nylon Tonfas most of the Laws carry nowadays. They’re sometimes referred to as “Monadocks”. Yes well, can’t always get the terminology right- I suppose.

    Modok was no brain; but he sold Bucky’s brand of crack. I had no doubt that Bucky had found some economical way to chemically synthesize Cocaine. That would be his style. He abhorred risk and he’d want to cut out middlemen as much as possible. That would raise profits and reduce exposure.

    Now Bucky had figured out some way to get his rocks to come out in perfect little dodecahedrons- each one just the right size for one big hit off the pipe. They were almost one hundred percent pure crack. The only impurity being the green food coloring he put into them, as one more brand identifier. They were cheaper than most; purer than any other; and very hard to fake. They were called- brazenly enough- “Bucky Balls”. Our sources told us that he’d started marketing them before he’d become aware of the Kindred. That might be- but I got the feeling that Bucky wasn’t hiding from us very hard.

    “Give me three hundred worth of Bucky Balls”, I said to Modok.

    “Can’t do it man. I can let you have two hundred worth of Bucky Balls, and one hundred worth of pure whip crack Cocaine.”

    “Thing is man, sometimes your whip ain’t whip. Keep the three bills- just give me the rest of your Balls.”

    Now Modok should have been around long enough to know that there just ain’t nothin’ free in the drug world- but hope springs eternal. Modok would have liked to think that I’d just made him a gift of one hundred dollars. He should have been waiting for the other shoe to drop. I’d been patiently waiting for him to be sold out of the Bucky Balls one more time.

    “See man. There’s a problem. That’s three times now, that you done been out of the good stuff. I got people that are wanting to do volume- but they need a reliable supply- and lots more that you usually handle.”

    I held my hand up to forestall his protest. “You think that I just want to cut you out. Okay, I can dig that. Take this-“

    I handed him a thick envelope. “Now don’t open that up out here on the street. Take it somewhere private. That’s a gift for you inside, just for considering introducing me to your supplier. If you decide to go through with it, I’ll have five times that much for you. Man, I’m planning on doing big things and I like you. I’ll make sure to take you along.”

    Inside the envelope, was a thousand dollars for Modok, and one thousand dollars for his supplier- a tip gratis for the intro. It was enough money to assure both of them that I had plenty cash to back me up. It also pretty much ruled out me being a Law. The Laws couldn’t be anywhere near as cavalier with their buy-money as I was being.

    As he took the envelope, I retained my grip momentarily. “Just think about it”, I urged.

    “I don’t even know your name”, he said.

    I’d have never been a good actor because it took me a moment to overcome a feeling of being silly. Modok thought I was hesitating to give him even a handle; so I managed to play it off.

    “On the streets, I’m known as Herman Goering.”

    He knew that that wasn’t my real name, of course. What he didn’t know was that virtually everything else about me was faked too. I wasn’t alone, for instance. I had at least two score Kindred backing me up at all times. Some listened intently to police frequencies, making sure there were no Laws in the area. Others watched at a distance, to achieve the same worthy goal. At least four or five Kindred followed my every move through the scopes of high-powered sniper rifles.

    The van I drove was a marvel of Kindred engineering. From the outside it looked just like a rusty old 1978 Ford E-350, powder blue. There was very little of the old Ford left however; and the rust was faked. The Kindred designed engine would drive the van far faster than I’d ever dare to drive it. There were special effects working through the exhaust pipe to simulate a rough, out-of-tune engine, even blow a bit of blue smoke occasionally.

    Chitin panels had replaced the exterior sheet metal panels. They would stop anything short of .50 Caliber Machinegun. They’d stop the big .50 Caliber slugs about half the time. They didn’t rust. They didn’t reflect laser or radar- not that the van would ever be invisible to radar, with its metal engine, of course. The panels could change colors very easily. At the touch of a button, my blue van could become red; or black; or egg cream with a detailed airbrush painting. I had a couple of dozen paint schemes on tap. The license plate could also chance to a half-dozen different numbers- all legitimate van numbers.

    The van’s highest tech features though, was its windows. Although they weren’t half as bullet resistant as the skin; they were even more amazing. Each window was in actuality, a very high definition holographic screen. You could put your nose right up against it, and not notice anything amiss. One of the onboard computers kept the view consistent from all windows, at all angles. The back right glass was a tour de force. It looked cracked, and was in fact several irregularly shaped holographic screens, not quite flush with each other.

    From the outside, the van looked moderately cluttered and mostly empty. In actual point of fact, it was jam-crammed full of sophisticated electronics. It had weapons too- not the least of which was two kindred following my progress at all times- via a video link. The both had main battle rifles, and were ready to come to my aid at a moment’s notice.

    A few days later, Modok got in touch with me, via the cell phone that had been in the big envelope I’d given him.

    “Meet me tonight”, he said. “You’re going to meet my boss; and we’re going to meet my boss’s boss.

    We met later that night. Modok climbed into my van for the first time. We’d put a wall behind the seats, to keep him from seeing into the Back. I had a receiver in one ear- as always- hidden by the length of my hair. We had a real time Voice Stress Analyzer trained on Modock. They’d let me know if Modok seemed to be equivocating.

    Modok pulled out a map and showed me the spot where we were supposed to go.

    “Man, I don’t know about this”, Modok said. “I’ve been through this place a couple times. There’s a park covering a square block. There are big ole apartment buildings on all sides. If, I say ‘if’, you could chain just four entrances shut, and if you could block the four corners- wouldn’t be no way out.”

    I read the streets aloud for the benefit of my team.

    “He’s right, the buildings form a cull de sac. He’s also sincere in his warning”, the voice in my right ear said crisply.

    “Look here Modok, it would take a half dozen men with rifles to block each corner. If they chain the doors too soon, someone might call the super; or the Laws; or they might just take a big pair of bolt cutters to the chain; so that means they’d need at least four more men, to stand ready to chain the doors at the last minute. Then they need someone- several someones- to come after us. You’re talking about thirty men, or so. Do you think your boss’s boss can field that many soldiers?”

    He admitted that it was unlikely; but he continued to mutter negative comments the whole way.

    “Where’d you get the street name ‘Herman Goering’?” Modok asked me, just before we got out of the van.

    “My girlfriend gave it to me”, I told him truthfully.

    “She a Nazi, or somethin’?”

    “No, I wouldn’t think so- though I admit that it never occurred to me to ask her. She’s black, and there are not too many black Nazis around. Do you know any?”

    “She’s black?”

    “Couple of shades darker than you.”

    He looked at me rather strangely, I thought.

    “Still, why Goering?” Modok asked.

    “Because he was the Air Marshal of the Luftwaffe.”

    “What does that mean?”

    “Maybe you’ll see sometime”, I told him. ”Be quiet now. Use your eyes and ears. We may be going into a trap. We can talk more later- if we’re both still around.”

    In retrospect, I was prepared for just about any type of treachery from Modok. What threw me completely off my game for several long seconds was when he jumped in on my side. I’d simply never considered that possibility.

    Big boss man walked up with three lieutenants. They didn’t shilly-shally around. When they got to long voice contact range, one of them asked,

    “Are you Herman Goering?”

    No sooner than I said, “Yes”, they were reaching under their coats for heavy-duty firepower.

    Modok leapt in front of me, pulling a long barreled Smith and Wesson .357, and shouting, “Ambush!” at the top of his lungs. I drew the Artillery Model Luger; but I only managed to shoot two of my attackers; with Modock blocking my field of fire that way. It hardly mattered. There were Kindred snipers in a dozen of the apartment building windows. Kindred very rarely miss. They eliminated the first wave almost instantly. But there was a second, and a third wave of attackers.

    Modok took a shotgun blast from a Cruiser, to his center torso. And several shots from a Berretta 9mm. That wasn’t his big problem; because he was wearing a vest; although I daresay that it knocked the wind right out of his sails; but his problem was the AK round he’d taken to his upper thigh. It was gushing blood all over the place. I decided that I was through jacking around.

    I was pushing hard on Modok’s thigh, trying to stop the bleeding.

    “We have a friendly down” I said into my microphone. “Probable femoral puncture- I require immediate emergency evak.”

    Then I changed my timbre slightly. “This is Air Marshal Goering, I’m calling in an ALL OUT AIR STRIKE.”

    Pretty had conceived, and the Kindred had helped her perfect, a whole Air Force of tiny planes. They flew just high enough to be invisible from the ground. They followed me, or more precisely, the Goering duster, everywhere I went. There were hundreds of the little planes, in over a dozen models.

    There were the tiny Stingers. A Stinger’s wingspan wasn’t much wider than the length of a man’s hand. It carried five rounds of .25ACP. They flew up close; aimed for the brainpan; and very rarely missed. There were several sizes of Kamikazes packed with explosives or incendiaries. There was the .40 S&W Caliber Thumpers and the planes with seven-foot wing spans; armed with miniature .22LR Miniguns and beaucoup ammo. There were recon planes.

    Even with their advanced AI targeting programs; at this range, this close to the enemy, my heretofore black colored duster turned powder blue; and the long black wig that I was wearing turned blonde- just to make me it a little easier for my Lilliputian Air Force to avoid shooting me.

    The duster was actually composed of a bunch of tiny hexagonal solid-state TV screens. The duster could approach invisibility, with its stealth program. Within seconds the combatants were eliminated with vicious efficiency. I gave the command for the duster to go into stealth mode.

    A couple of Kindred ran up.

    “Get Modok some treatment. Save him if you can”, I ordered.


    “Because he took bullets intended for me. I’m through losing friends to Bucky. Modok may be a poor excuse for a friend- but he’s my friend now. That’s what counts. You just save him. We’ll worry about what to do with him later.”

    .....RVM45 [chopper]

  19. RVM45

    RVM45 Monkey+++

    Chapter Sixteen
    <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" />

    “What’s up with Modok”, I asked.

    He was standing- if that’s the word for it- in the Kindred Drafting room, looking over the shoulder of one of the Kindred Draftsmen. The Kindred firmly believe that if a man truly cares about what he’s designing, he’ll draw it on paper. CAD, in their opinion, is for uninspired hacks. Be that as it may. At the moment, I was more concerned with Modok’s strange antics, than I was with the Kindred’s philosophy of craftsmanship.

    I couldn’t think of any real reason for him to be in the Design room; yet there he was. He was so excited about something, that he was jumping up and down, and squealing with delight- like a prepubescent girl at a teenybopper concert.

    “Well, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about Modok” Lemuel began.

    Complications! That’s what I love. My brother has no eyes. He murders my parents; gets me committed to an insane asylum; kills my dogs; kills several of my cousins; and kidnaps my fiancée. I’m trying frantically to find the eyeless bastard; so I can repay him, in some small way, for all the light and joy he’s brought into my world. Now I can hear in Lemuel’s voice, that there are complications with Modok.

    “When you had them bring him in, you told the medics to fix him up. You weren’t very specific. They fixed him up. For instance: Modok was blind in his right eye. We fixed it.”

    “I could tell that he had a bad eye. I didn’t know that he couldn’t see out of it at all. So…”

    “It was congenital. We couldn’t just put the eye in. We had to do some rather sophisticated brain stimulation to get it to work. Also, he was a drug addict; forty-two years old, and with some major health issues…”

    “Get to the bottom line Lemuel.”

    “Modok currently has much better than human eyesight- maybe twice the light sensitivity, at night. He’s got 2x2 hearing and his sense of smell has been drastically stimulated. His reflexes and healing powers are all jacked up. He has the life expectancy of one of the Kindred. His brain is over-stimulated at the moment. That will pass- eventually; but he’ll still have a permanent IQ of close to two hundred He has total recall, at least for everything that’s happened since the stimulation. And did I mention, he’s fanatically loyal to you?”

    “Say what?”

    “Yeah, he really grooves on binocular vision- though I think it’s over-rated myself- and he thanks you for it” Lemuel said.

    “So, he ain’t Kindred; but he’s not really human anymore either. Back to my original question, why is he jumping up and down in the Design room?”

    “When you stimulate the brain that way- well, you gotta give the mills something to grind. We let him read some engineering books, because they were handy. Then we gave him some schematic printouts. He’s really into The Luftwaffe. Actually made some notable improvements.”

    I shook my head, and turned to go. Lemuel laid his hand on my shoulder, and detained me briefly.

    “Being Kindred is more than a matter of genetics. He fought beside you. You named him your friend. That was an act worthy of Kindred. We respect your naming. He is Kindred now. He has a place among us as long as he wants one. None begrudge him that.”

    I’d turned my back to Modok. He came walking up behind me; but he was prudent enough to stop just outside arm’s reach.

    “Hey Herman, I want to show you something” Modok said.

    I don’t know precisely what I was expecting; but Modok dressed in a Confederate Cavalry uniform was not foremost amongst them. He had the Ostrich-plumed Cavalry hat; the knee-high Cavalier’s boots; and a Gray Confederate Greatcoat that reached a palm’s width below his knees.

    “Watch”, he said.

    The Greatcoat turned a half dozen colors; including absolute black, then it went into stealth mode. I could still see Modok, of course, but I could see stuff behind him, though greatly distorted- as though through a really thick piece of glass. When he moved, it also lagged a fraction of a second behind. At a sight distance though, particularly at night, he’d be all but invisible- particularly when standing still.

    “Now watch the hat”, Modok said enthusiastically.

    The hat morphed into a half-dozen Stetson variations. Then it became a Top Hat; a Bowler; a really bulky black Sock Hat; a red; gold; and green Rasta Hat; a hood seemingly attached to the Greatcoat; and finally a Cat-in-the-Hat style Hat- with multiple color schemes, of course.

    “And the Greatcoat; boots; and hat are all bullet proof, just like yours”, Modok said.

    “And just what is the point of all this tomfoolery?” I asked.

    “I am JEB Stewart, Commander of The Confederate States Luftwaffe.”


    “He thought the idea up all by himself” Lemuel hastily started to explain.

    “He has his own Luftwaffe?”



    “He came up with some really good Design ideas. He helped us invent the first truly practical micro helicopter, for one thing…” Lemuel was saying.

    “Too inefficient- fuel wise” I said.

    “True, but Modok figured out a way to use a fairly big mini zeppelin as a sort of aerial aircraft carrier. It works really well. Some of the smaller planes can use them to refuel and rearm as well.”

    “Outstanding”, I muttered to myself. “Modok, what makes you think I’d want you out in the field with me?”

    “You need someone to cover your six. I am the rational one to do it. You’d be dead now, if it wasn’t for me”, he said- which wasn’t exactly true, he’d been more in the way, than anything.

    His words came out all staccato, like popcorn popping. He looked like he was going to start riding his imaginary pogo stick again.

    “Oh all right, once you get the hyper activity under control. Can’t have you out on the streets acting like that- get yourself put into the loony bin. But tell me, why JEB Stewart?”

    “I saw his portrait in one of the books the kinfolk let me read. He had a long duster like yours- besides, I read an article one time about the Confederate Air Force.”

    “They didn’t have aircraft back during The War Between The States”, I told him. “And that’s ‘Kindred’ not ‘kinfolk’.”

    “No, no, I’m talking about a society of old military aircraft collectors and restorers. They call themselves ‘The Confederate Air Force’.”

    “Why, pray tell, do they do that?”

    “Because The South shall rise again”, He stated with utmost conviction.

    “Lemuel!” I saw Laura enter the room and I gestured for one of the Kindred to bring her over. “ Glad you’re here Laura. We’re going to do a reality check- you, Lemuel, and me. My brother has no eyes. I’m a mutant- descended from a race of beings known as The Kindred- a folk so fierce that they inspired the Norse legends of Trolls. But even The Kindred are a little leery of my fiancée. They call her the Hellspawn- for reasons I’ve yet to learn. She hooks me up with an AI weapons system that won’t work unless I identify myself as ‘Herman Goering’. Now I have a crazed black bodyguard- who until recently was a crack dealer- who runs around impersonating JEB Stewart and tells me’ The South will rise again’. I should have stayed in the asylum. Now tell me, have I missed anything?”

    “You left out the Tuatha De Dannan”, Lemuel started helpfully.

    “Wait a second” Laura began. “You also have several cousins with no eyes, myself being a prize example. But there’s more”, She added sweetly.

    “Make my happiness complete ”, I said resignedly.

    “Our latest intelligence reports indicate that your brother has allied himself with the Remnant” She said.

    “Who in hell are The Remnant; and why are y’all so intimidated by them?” I asked.

    “When the Kindred decided to move down from the northlands and mix with men- at least outwardly- The Remnant stayed behind. We haven’t heard from them in over a thousand years. We were largely convinced that they had gone into oblivion.” Laura said.

    “A year ago, your cursed brother didn’t know the Kindred existed. Now he’s resurrected The Remnant!” Lemuel spat out.

    “Be fair Lemmy, it isn’t Bucky’s fault if The Remnant still exists” Laura reasoned.

    “No but it’s his fault for getting them to take an interest in the affairs of men, once again” Lemuel argued.

    “Not necessarily, our analysis shows that given the continued existence of Remnant; they’d quite naturally monitor the affairs of The Kindred very closely- from a distance, as it were”, Laura argued back.

    “Modok, do you think some of The Kindred are big and scary? We’re lightweights compared to The Remnant. Long ago, when The Kindred decided to cast their fate with mankind, we made a conscious decision to be more like men. We had far more control over our form back then. We became smaller, and less hairy. We also began to think more like men. We may seem violent; impulsive and instinct-driven to you. We are- compared to you. The Remnant would make us look like men by comparison.” Lemuel mused partly to Modok, partly to himself.

    “The Remnant are very powerful and very evil. They scare me.” Laura said quietly.

    “Are these Abominable Snowmen bullet-proof?” Modok demanded.

    “No, they’re mortal” Laura admitted.

    “Then you ain’t got nuthin’ to worry about. As long as JEB Stewart is a member of the kinfolk, the Yetis will have to come through me” Modok boasted- though I had no doubt that he was sincere.

    “That’s KINDRED damn it all to hell! KINDRED not kinfolk, how the hell you gonna be Kindred, if you can’t even say it?” I demanded.

    “Leave him alone. His heart is in the right place”, Laura said.

    Later after Laura and Lemuel left, Modok leaned close and lowered his voice conspiratorially.

    “I think that red-haired girl Laura likes me. She’s been making eyes at me.”

    “Are you mentally challenged? Has it somehow eluded your notice that Laura doesn’t have any eyes? She’s just like my brother. My brother has no eyes.”

    “Not just like your brother. You told me you brother was evil. Laura is sweet. Besides, you know what I mean about making eyes at me” Modok insisted.

    It wasn’t worth arguing about. No one listens to me anyhow.

    RVM45 [beat]


  20. RVM45

    RVM45 Monkey+++

    <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" />
    Chapter Seventeen

    Bucky was holding our people- including Pretty- in a stronghold in rural Minnesota. That was a far piece from the main concentration of Kindred. The logistics of bringing overwhelming force to bear were daunting.

    We didn’t have any big planes. Even if we had, a planeload of Kindred would have been far too tempting a target; and we couldn’t risk losing that many Kindred to one LAW rocket- or whatever. We had to transport over two hundred heavily armed men over the roadways- hopefully without arousing the notice of Bucky, or the Laws.

    Lets face it: most Kindred can pass for human; but they’re ungodly ugly humans. I’d guess the average Male Kindred is about Six-five. He’ll weigh in about three seventy-five, with muscles like a champion Power Lifter; and a big belly too. He’ll generally have abundant jet-black body hair; big nose and chin; pronounced supra-orbital ridges; and a modest set of fangs. Most of them wear bib overalls and speak in an exaggerated drawl- playing to the stereotype of the stupid; inbred; man-mountain; Mountain William. It doesn’t work nearly as well when you have a whole crowd of them milling around in one place. Kinda sets folks to pondering…

    But there are Kindred like Bucky and me, who have generous amounts of human blood and look more like normal humans. Lemuel and Laura would have fit into that category, except for the missing eyes. They had several brothers and sisters though, who had the standard number of eyes. We also shared some other cousins that fit that general description.

    There were also a number of people like Modok. They’d fallen in amongst The Kindred for one reason, or another. They’d grooved on the scene and been adopted into the tribe. So far as The Kindred were concerned, they were just as much Kindred as if they’d been born Kindred.

    People who’d lived close to the Kindred for generations would have had to be pretty thick, not to realize that The Kindred were a peculiar people- a people apart. Many of them knew about The Kindred; but country people are big on minding their own business. There’s been a certain amount of intermarriage over the year; and there have been a number of alliances formed.

    Suffice it to say, we tried to have someone who looked at least halfway normal to be the driver of most of the vehicles, most of the time. We also took great pains to avoid giving the Laws any excuse to pull one of our vehicles over.

    “Modok, if you ask me one more time, if we’re there yet, I’ll poke out one of our eyes and make you look like Lemuel”, I said.

    He knew that we hadn’t made it to Minnesota yet. He was asking if we’d gotten to the agreed upon mileage for him to take over driving. I don’t like to let others drive me; so I was loath to let him take over even a few minutes ahead of schedule. I assumed that he shared my distaste for being a passenger; but he had other things on his mind.

    “Do you think that I have a chance with Laura?” He asked me.

    “Modok, I don’t know what to tell you. She’s blind. That means that she can’t see how ugly you are. She’s Kindred. That means she’s moody- even more than a human female. She’ll have a dowry; so it won’t matter that you’re flat broke. The Kindred Doctors cured your addiction. No one will have to worry about you ever becoming an addict again. I don’t know. I know it’s a radical course of action; but why don’t you ask her?”

    Modok seemed to have a special talent for annoying me. Nonetheless, we managed to arrive at the designated assemblage point without incident.

    Bucky’s fortress was largely underground. There was chain link fence around the place; and sentries inside the fence and out. I had the Goering coat on, of course. I also had a new gadget- a set of safety goggles. They not only protected my eyes; but they monitored my brainwaves. At the mental push of a button, I could choose to see a virtual image from any of my miniature aircraft. Or I could use the goggles for night vision; or infer-red. Modok had a similar pair.

    I sent a score of tiny stealth planes, with silenced Guns loaded with poisoned darts. In one massive first strike, they wiped out all of the above ground sentries simultaneously. Kindred sprinted forward from all four point of the compass to breach the fences with bolt cutters. In less than a minute, they’d laid entry charges at all five of the entrances. Selected teams went in, while others stayed topside to guard against an attack on our rear.

    Kindred are generally big and they have scant use for small-bore Guns. Every one of them carried some sort of .308- M-1As; H&K; Saigas mostly- along with some very sophisticated Kindred designed belt-feds. A lot of them carried a twelve gauge as well.

    I had an H&K .308. It was the first one that I’d ever owned; and I was real pleased with it. I had a 1911A1 on my strong-side hip (the right). I had a seven shot; four inch L-Frame S&W .357 (pre-lock, of course) on my left hip; and another in a left-hand appendix cross draw. I had an eight and three eighths inch Smith 29 .44 Magnum in a left side shoulder holster. I had a custom Bowie with a fourteen-inch blade, and a few hideouts blades and Guns. I also backed up my H&K with a .30 M1 Carbine slung over my shoulder; and a six-pack of fifteen round magazines- with a couple more in speed pouches. All my Guns, except the H&K were bright nickeled; and all my pistols and knives were stag handled.

    Notwithstanding, as I led the way down the tunnels, my main weapons were the miniature Confederate Air Cavalry helicopters, on temporary loan to the Luftwaffe. While the tunnels were wide enough to drive a car down- or even pass for that matter- the tunnels were a bit tight for my planes to maneuver in. We carried several small planes though, just in case a need for them should arise. Although we had a general idea how the tunnels were arranged- both from official blueprints; and through all sorts of sophisticated scans; they didn’t tell the whole story. Bucky had deviated from the official plans; and we couldn’t know everything there was to know about the tunnels from outside.

    The small helicopters were invaluable for scouting around corners and though open doorways. They didn’t warn us of the ambush though. One of the sidewalls dropped straight down into a slot prepared for it, revealing a squad waiting in ambush. The Air Cavalry helicopters buzzed and fired away like angry hornets. I had time to shoot a couple of Bucky’s minions; and I felt a half dozen bullets impact the Goering duster. Then the stock on my H&K exploded in my hand from multiple hits. It numbed my right hand momentarily and I dropped the rifle. I drew the .357 from my left hip and got in a quick headshot before all the hostiles were down. I did a quick tactical reload and reholstered the L Frame. While we paused momentarily, I got out my carbine and divested myself of several magazines of .308.

    We met a few lone gunmen along the way; but the choppers took care of them. Finally we entered into the large central chamber. The chamber was over a hundred feet below the ground. The tunnel floors had consistently led downward- with the occasional descending stairwell for good measure. All the tunnels seemed to converge on this one big central chamber; and then they branched out again- going ever downward.

    The chamber had a round floor of perhaps sixty or seventy yards across, with an elevated platform about twenty feet high and twenty feet in diameter. There were maybe twenty-five or thirty rows of seats surrounding the floor, each row a couple feet higher than the last. Most of the seats were occupied. Something about the whole situation told me that they’d be mere spectators to whatever happened. It was more than a hunch- an absolute certainty- a knowing.

    My brother has no eyes. He stood on the platform with Pretty and three of The Kindred in stocks. He turned his eyeless head towards me and smiled.

    “I’ve been expecting you brother. You are so predictable”, He said.

    He was holding a silver colored rod in one hand- about thirty inches long, with a big metal ball on one end and a smaller ball on the other. I looked a lot like a twirling baton- only heavier duty. He walked over to one of The Kindred and touched him with the larger sphere. Some sort of purplish lightning came out of the wand; and a male Kindred screamed in agony. Kindred are less sensitive to pain than humans and very stubborn to boot. The fact that he had made a Kindred cry out- particularly a male- was shocking. The man screamed for a few heartbeats. Then he either died; or passed out.

    I was straining to get to the stage where Bucky held court; but dozens of his followers blocked our way. None of them were armed. They didn’t try to attack us. All they tried to do was obstruct our forward progress. Bucky was moving towards Pretty with his wand. I ordered the helicopters to attack Bucky; but once they got close to him, they seemed to be crushed by an invisible hand. I called my remaining ‘copters back and set them to mowing down the unarmed herds. I was shooting as many of them, as fast as I could, with my Carbine- headshots only. I took no pity on them. They were part of what was going down- armed or not.

    “You see my brother? He’s good at killing the unarmed and the innocent. He killed our parents”, Bucky said in a big rabble-rousing voice.

    I screamed in rage to hear him accuse me that way. I didn’t want to shoot him. I wanted to seize him; tear at him with my teeth; throttle him until he expired; rip his head clean off his body; and eat his liver. The world danced in a red haze to my enraged eyesight. I’d finally cleared a pathway to the stage and I bounded up the stairs two-at-a-time. I saw Modok and Laura running up the stairs on the other side.

    I’d tried to tell Modok that it wasn’t his fight and that he could be killed. He’d insisted on coming along. Now seeing him and Laura, I was almost as concerned about their welfare as I was Pretty’s. That’s the hell of fighting wars side by side with your kin. Of course Laura fiercely resented any suggestion that she couldn’t do anything someone with eyes could do.

    Just as I cleared the last stair step Bucky reached Pretty; but as he touched her with the wand, instead of purple fire enveloping Pretty, a bright orange flame enveloped Bucky. He didn’t scream in pain. He was far more powerful than a mere Kindred; but you could see the flames had hurt him. He staggered backward dazedly.

    “You wonder why I’m called the ‘Hellspawn’. It’s because I can command the orange flame. You think that you’re something to marvel at, eyeless one? I was born into slavery. I’m over three hundred years old. You mean no more to me, than an insect” She shouted at him.

    I shot at Bucky’s head a half dozen times with the Carbine. One round actually connected with his head but it was only a superficial wound. I got a couple rounds into his shoulder and one into his left forearm. Somehow he was largely deflecting each round. I put a fresh magazine into the Carbine; but Bucky had regained his composure. Fifteen rounds whistled off into space going every which way, hazarding friend as much as foe. I dropped the Carbine and drew my Bowie with my left hand. That’s the way I’d been taught. Ambidextrousness is the goal; but the default condition is: right hand- Gun hand; left hand- blade hand. Bucky was no more than ten yards away; and I didn’t think that I’d be as easy to deflect as a 110 grain Carbine bullet.

    Then everything went black. It wasn’t an ordinary darkness. This darkness almost seemed to have substance. It blocked my infrared as well as my night vision. It even seemed to dampen my echolocation and my sense of feel to a large degree. I tried to push through the darkness towards Bucky.

    “Who is The One True Light?” Bucky catchetized his minions.

    “The Eyeless One!” They shouted back.

    “Who is The One True Light? Who is The One True Light? Who is The One True light?” Bucky shouted at them.

    “You are! You are! You are!” They shouted back maniacally.

    I drew both my .357s. I couldn’t shoot at Bucky- blinded by the darkness as I was- there would be too much chance of hitting Pretty; or Modok; or one of The Kindred. Nonetheless, a four inch .357 Magnum is both loud and bright. I haven’t seen any figures, which is louder- a four inch .357 or an eight inch .44? My vote goes to the short .357. I fired fourteen rounds into the ceiling as fast as I could pull the triggers.

    The muzzle blast tore a hole in Bucky’s darkness, just as I’d thought it might. I could see a few feet around me. Bucky was rolling on the floor and holding his misshapen head. The bright orange flame surrounded Pretty once more. This time it burst first her shackles; then the shackles of the three Kindred.

    Laura was also down on the floor holding her head- though I later learned that it was from Bucky’s darkness; and not from my .357s. I tried hard to get to Bucky; but the closer I got, the thicker the darkness became. It actually checked my forward progress like trying to wade through invisible molasses.

    “We have to get out of here before Bucky recovers” Pretty screamed at me.

    I could barely hear her through Bucky’s sound deadening aura. I could hear Bucky’s deadheaded followers loud and clear though. They were yelling some kind of chant about the One True Light. On a hunch, I shouted my own slogan.

    “I am the Light Breaker! All servant’s of The Eyeless One should fear me!”

    Bucky had an amplification system keyed to his voice- and our voices were similar enough…

    Laura had fallen much closer to Bucky than anyone else. She wasn’t capable of walking and no one seemed able to reach her. Bucky was between us; so if I could have gotten to Laura; I’d already have gutted my brother like an eyeless pig. My brother has no eyes.

    Then I saw Modok attack Bucky with every aircraft that he had. None of them got very close; but I noticed the darkness weaken a bit more. Modok had a PPSH 41 with an 80 round drum magazine. It was his pride and joy. He emptied the Magazine in Bucky’s general direction while walking slowly forward. I could see his facial veins swell, from fifteen yards away. I decided to help him. I drew my .44 Magnum and sighted carefully on Bucky’s chest. I fired six evenly spaced shots, about a half second apart. I don’t know if it worked, or not; but something did. I saw Modok pick Laura up. Moving away from Bucky seemed far easier than moving towards him.

    I ordered half my remaining helicopters to escort Modok; and left him to fend for himself. I had problems enough of my own. Pretty’s confinement had left her too weak to walk without aid. Most of Bucky’s dudes seemed to have gone catatonic- but there was a substantial minority that seemed to have gone on a general rampage- attacking friend and foe with equal enthusiasm. They didn’t fight well; but they were enough of a threat to occupy my full attention.

    I didn’t notice that Pretty had picked up my forgotten Carbine ‘till we were back to our vehicle.

    “I knew how you’d hate to lose a Gun”, she told me.

    “What’s with the orange flames? And what was that blanket of darkness that Bucky used? Is there a way to defeat it?” I asked her desperately.

    “I’ll explain it to you later. Right now I need to rest”, she said- just prior to passing out.

    .....RVM45 [chopper]

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