I actually peel back my cheeks and smile for the first time in who knows how long - because he knows I’m lying, but he doesn’t know the nature of my lie, the purpose behind it. That looks good for me. Well, bad for me personally, but good for my overall scheme, anyway.
“I will kill you for what you did to Clarion,” Demiurge says. I steel a quick look at Superjunge, who’s wearing sunglasses and avoiding my gaze. Clearly the truth isn’t out, and I can’t expect any further aid from that quarter.
“Probably,” I say, “But it’ll nag you forever that you’ll never know how I did it.” I’m just stalling for time now, keeping them distracted enough by their hatred of me that they won’t notice fifty or sixty refugees aren’t anywhere to be seen. I look at Superjunge, “She died horribly, and it took a long time,” I say. He looks away.
“Your plan was to find the metagene blocker, which would take our powers away, and render us mortal. You hoped to find it in the vault here at the CDC,” Hivemind says, “It is a puny plan.”
“It is a puny plan,” I say, honestly agreeing with him.
“You will explain this diagram to us,” he says, “and how you came to possess such information.”
“Ok, sure. Well, firstly, that diagram is a page I tore out of the Starfleet Technical Manual, published in 1975. I got it in a comic book store in Buckhead. I think it’s a first edition, not that it matters now.” I’m honestly telling the truth here, but they don’t realize it. Hivemind looks at me in annoyance.
“Get that helmet off him,” he says. It won’t come off, though they try of course. Presently Demiurge hits on the idea of having the others torture me until I take it off. They break my hands, a finger at a time, poke holes in me with their own steel-like fingers. I hold out as long as I can, but of course I give in. Probably I only lasted for a few minutes, but it felt like it went on forever. Hivemind squints at me as he reads my mind.
“Mars is still attached to Earth?” He says, incredulously
“Mars is still attached to Earth?” I say, incredulously.
“Yeah. Wherever they put it, there’s still a physical connection via the hyperspace bridge. One end of it is on Marsdome One, the other end is at the NASA center in Atlanta,” Blacknight explains.
“But the city’s destroyed, there’s no power,” I say.
“The bridge facility was underground and blast proof, the power comes from the Martian end. Oh, God, I hurt,” he says. He’s dying.
“So it should still be working?” I ask.
“I haven’t got much time left here,” he says, “Please try to be a little smarter. Your purpose…”
“…Is to distract them in to thinking I’m going to the CDC while the refugees make it through the MARTA tunnels to the old NASA facility.”
“Yes,” he whispers, then looks around himself, “Is this a psychiatrists office?”
“Yeah,” I say. He laughs.
“Oh, God, that’s funny.” He winces, his eyes are cloudy.
“I’m scared all the time,” he says.
“I’m here,” I say, and take his shattered hand in mine gently.
“I’m scared all the time, but this is much worse,” he says.
“I’m here, I’m not leaving,” I say.
“I wasn’t going to go to Mars with you,” he says, wheezing.
“I know,” I lie. It’s news to me.
“No room for heroes in the new world, just plain folk.”
“For the best, I agree, but David,” I say, “You’re plain folk,” I say, “You’re not like them.”
He smiles at this. He tries to say something, but I can’t make it out. I put my ear right up against his lips, and even then it’s like he’s whispering in another room.
“Thanks. You’re. Not. So. Bad. Yourself. For. A. Breeder.”
He kisses me gently on the earlobe, and then he’s gone.
I clean up the body as best I can, and leave.
“Mars is still attached to Earth?” Hivemind says again, less incredulously, and more angrily. I’m too weak and beaten up to move. As if on cue there’s an explosion in the distance, and a building down town starts belching smoke and flame. Real flame, not that sickly eldritch crap. I quickly feel him walking through my memories. I notice, awkwardly, that I’ve got a raging erection, no doubt from the overabundance of pheromones wafting around in the present of ten or twenty superheroes around me.
“He gave them explosives, and told them how to set them to go off after the Bridge had sent them to Mars. These will have destroyed our end of the bridge. The planet is now completely cut off to us. We can not get there, and the explosions mean they must have gotten away.”
“You lose,” I say. They’re furious, they’re stomping around, the ones with laser vision are blasting things on the horizon, the fire ones are bursting in to and out of flame. Hot Chick - now looking a bit saggy and old, truth be told - screams and flies like a comet in to the next building, knocking it down.
“It is of no matter,” Superjunge says, “The can survive there, but they can’t breed. They’re still doomed.”
“Not my problem,” I say, “My people, and any surviving scientists still on Mars, might be able to work around that. Maybe they’ll figure a solution, maybe they’ll invent artificial gravity, maybe they’ll find another place to live, or maybe they’ll invent some crazy Flash Gordon technology and come back here and kill all your asses but good. I don’t give a damn.” My voice is slurred, they pulled out my teeth during the torture, “The point is that they’re free, they’ll survive for a little while longer in peace, and maybe they’ll last beyond that, maybe they won’t. You don’t know.”
“We will kill you for this,” Demiurge says.
“Duh,” I say, hazy from the pain of the beating they already gave me, “But it doesn’t matter. I won. I beat you. I led the last remnant of humanity on earth out of your grasp. You sons of Olympus done in by an out-of-work insurance adjuster from Dahlonega. I’m the new Moses,” I say, then pause with a realization that none of those idiots I saved will remember my name. I never told it to them.
This is too much for Demiurge. He snatches me up by my throat, and holds me over the edge of the building. I’m surprisingly calm. I’ve known the end is coming for a long time, and now that it’s here, I’m ready for it.
“you got any last words, new Moses?” he screams at me.
“Yes!” I scream back at him with every last ounce of defiance and venom in me, not sure where the strength is coming from, but hiding my fear under a veneer of derision. I give them my last word on the subject. Conscious that I’m about to say man’s final words on planet earth, I holler, “SUPER HEROES ARE GAY!”
He squeezes his hand effortlessly, and all goes black…
Copyright, 2010, 2011, Republibot 3.0
Hi, Republibot 3.0 here, also known as "Kevin Long." I'm basically a starving author. If you liked this story, then you'll probably like my other stories as well. This one is in my first anthology here:
And my second anthology - which Larry Niven called "Highly Entertaining" - is available here
Both cost less than three bucks on Kindle. Come on, buy one, support starving artists, and in the process ensure the production of more stories like this one!