AC: Bush43 Week Five

Jason Kenney jasonkenney at
Wed Jul 5 06:09:36 PDT 2006

Artifice Comics -

Hope you all had a great 4th.  Or, if you didn't celebrate it, a good


BUSH43 #42
By Jason S. Kenney


I sighed, my breath moist and humid, as it came off the inside of my
mask and back onto my face, while I looked up to the balcony five
stories up.

"I can make that jump," I said, as I nodded to myself, took a couple
steps back and a deep breath.

I broke into a sprint, tried to time it just right, and jumped, going
up, up, up, reaching the top of my arc a few feet above the balcony but
more than a few feet shy.

I reached out quick and grabbed onto the railing, praying that they
weren't cheap and liable to break easily.  I hit the side of the
railing and balcony hard but kept my grip.

The railing held.

I'd made it.  More or less.

I pulled myself up and over and landed on the floor of the balcony,
cursed at myself for messing that up, and looked up into the barrel of
a standard issue of one of Pacific City's finest.

"Tell me why I shouldn't shoot you."

"Because it wouldn't hurt me one bit," I said.

Officer Michael Self seemed to chew on that for a moment, eyes narrow,
as he glared at me, stood over me, took a lifetime making up his mind.

He shook his head and pulled his gun away.

"What do you want?" he asked, then taking a swig off of a beer in his
other hand and plopping himself down on the only chair on his balcony.

"I'm here with an offer," I said, standing up and brushing myself off.

"An offer or a threat?"

"An offer."  I cleared my throat and looked at him.  "I want to help."

He scoffed at me.

"Help with what?"

"With making sure you have what you need."

"What I need?"

"You, the police.  What you all would need to handle science villains."

"Isn't that your job, you and the rest of you 'heroes'?" he said, his
distaste showing in how he spat out that last word.

"Our job," I said, as I crouched down to be eye level with him, "should
be to compliment what you do.  Should be to assist the police in the
investigation of crimes, apprehension of criminals and the like.  We
are not the police."

Self gave me a bitter laugh and shook his head.

"What the hell do you want, Bush?"

"I want to help."

"With this bullshit that you're not the police?" he asked.  "No shit,
you're not the police, but you sure as hell act like it.  Judge, jury,
and executioner in a lot of cases."

"Some, yes," I granted. "But not all, not most, and certainly not
something we should be doing.

"Self, you know better than I do that the city wants a police
department that can protect it.  You also know better than I that you
are horribly underfunded, low on equipment, and even worse with

"You want to help all of those things?" said Self, leaning forward in
his seat.  "Then fucking stop.  Quit what you're doing and leave this
to the professionals."

"That's not going to happen," I said with a shake of my head.

"Then, we've got nothing to talk about," Self said, leaning back again,
taking another swig of his beer.

"You need equipment, Self," I said. "And, I'm offering to get it for

"All the equipment in the world doesn't mean shit if we don't have the
authority to do our jobs."

"With the equipment will come the authority."  He rolled his eyes.
"Self, what kind of authority would you have if you had to take Simon
Cooper into custody today?  Considering how horribly equipped you are
to handle a shocker, your authority would last about as long as it took
for him to fry you."

Self glared at me but didn't respond.

"Look, you guys need equipment.  Let me know what you need, and I'll do
my best to get it."

"Why isn't this going through the proper channels?" said Self.  "Why
isn't the Mayor involved or the suits?"

"The Mayor and the suits aren't involved because we both know that
neither of them would be able to get this done."

"And, you can?"

"I can try my damnedest."

Self was quiet for a few moments, as we stared at each other.

"Who are you?" he finally asked.

"What does that matter?"

"You're making a big move here against the Mayor, and you're using me
and the entire department to do it.  How do I know this isn't a set up?
 How do I know you're not just using me to take control for yourself?"

"How does knowing who I am change any of that?  I'm obviously
associated with the Mayor on some level.  I'm in the New Mages.  So,
you have every right to be suspicious of a set up.  But, I think my
record and actions show I'm not in this for me.  And, I'm not looking
to replace the Mayor. "

"Then, why are you doing this?"

"Because the people need you to keep them safe.  Because science heroes
aren't enough.  Because the Mayor is wrong in this case and someone has
to do something about it."

Self looked away from me and stared at his beer bottle, thinking.

"Why are you coming to me?" he asked, not looking away from his stare.

"You're in a position to make sure this gets done right on your end."

Silence again, and I just waited, all the time in the world.

"The Mayor'll find out," he said finally.  "It won't work."

"He won't know until they're here, and, once they are, he can't take
them away."

"You're so sure of this," he said, followed by a swig and a pause.
"What the hell do you know about gunrunning?"

"I know who to talk to who knows enough about it to get it done."

He looked to me for a moment and then away, over my shoulder, to the
city beyond his balcony.

"Self, what have you got to lose?"

"How do you plan on paying for this?"

"I've got that covered.  You get me a list of what you need, and I'll
do my best to get it."

"Even if we're talking heavy duty equipment?  Even if we're talking
about stuff that could take one of you down?"

"Do you intend on using it on one of us?"

"If I have to."

"Then, you should have it incase the need arises."

Another pause, more mulling.

He locked eyes with me.

"You're serious?"

I nodded.

He looked back to his bottle, glared at it, looked for the answer in

And, I waited for his response.


Alfonse was at the foot of the steps in Burke Manor, as I let myself
in.  No matter how late, I don't think I ever walked into that place
without finding him up.

"We're set," I said.  "He'll have a list at the drop off at noon

"Very well," Alfonse said with a small, stiff nod.

"You let me know what they can get, what it'll cost, and I'll get you
the funds.  The sooner we can get this stuff, the better."

"I am aware of that, Jeffery," said Alfonse.  "But, perhaps this
conversation would be better had elsewhere."

"Yeah," I said with a nod, looking away from Alfonse and to the floor
of Burke Manor, to the spot where not too long ago I came to find Layla
Burke dead.

My gut tensed, clenched, pain cutting through my body.

"Jeffery," said Alfonse, a hand on my shoulder getting my attention.  I
looked to him.  "There should be a change of clothes downstairs for you
already.  I shall join you shortly."

"Yeah," I said again, another nod, and I walked away without looking
back to that spot.


"I don't think I'm in the mood for sparring tonight," I said from where
I sat at the bottom of the steps to the cave underneath Burke Manor, as
Alfonse came down.

"Did you just miss my company then, Jeffery?" asked Alfonse, and I
couldn't help but smirk a bit.

"Well, no," I said, looking at my hands, studying them.  "I mean, I
came expecting to, but now..."

"Jeffery," said Alfonse. "There is little you could have done for
Victoria's mother."

"It seems that there's little I can do for anyone these days, Alfonse,"
I said.

"You are in the process of helping supply the Pacific City Police
Department with the means of protecting this city.  That is helping
many people a great deal."

"Give me the praise when we actually pull it off," I said.

"Ferguson Place was not your fault, Jeffery."


I pushed myself to my feet and walked a few yards, stopped, turned,
walked back, began pacing.

"What would you have done to change the outcome, Jeffery?"

"I could have taken care of Simon a long time ago."

"Could have, yes.  But, WOULD you have, Jeffery?"

I stopped and stared at the floor, through it, thinking that over.

"You could have done a great many things, Jeffery, but all of those
things are not who you are or what you do.  You do not kill.  You do
not cripple.  You have set your own limits."

"And, look at what they've gotten me," I said, looking up to Alfonse.
"Look at what they've gotten the city."

"Millennium Man could save a million lives, but all people will
remember is what he did to James Finnegan."

"Who cares what people think?" I said with a wave of my hand, turning
away, starting to pace again.  "You save lives, you save lives.  They
don't have to be thankful; they don't have to appreciate it.  Hell,
they don't even have to know."

"But, you have to live with yourself afterwards.  You have to live with
the decisions you make, Jeffery."

"And, I have to live with the decisions I don't make, Alfonse," I said,
stopping, my back to Alfonse, looking deeper into the caves, taking a
deep breath, then turning back to Alfonse.  "If I had killed Simon.  If
I had broken his legs.  If I had put Dean Williams into a coma."

"In your profession," said Alfonse, "hindsight does you little good."

"Hindsight shows me where I fucked up, Alf, and where I need to make

"You will not make those changes, Jeffery."

"I have to change something."

"But, you will not kill.  And, you know that."

"I may have to."

"There is always another option, Jeffery."

"I will have an opportunity in the next three days to confront Dean
Williams," I said.  "In the next three days, I'm going to be told where
to find him.  And, I'm going to go there..."  I paused, looked down,
started second guessing myself from earlier.  "And, I'm going to put
Isiah at risk, so I can handle this."

"What does Mister Rowe have to do with this?"

"I need him to knock Dean out," I said, "before he knows what's up and
can blow up."

"That is a non-lethal solution, Jeffery."

"But, it'll wear off, Alfonse," I said.  "It's never permanent, what
Isiah does.  It'll wear off, and he'll do this again."

"The police have the means..."

"The police don't have shit right now, Alfonse!  And, they won't for
two to four weeks.  This is three days, tops.  Now two and a half.  How
do you deal with someone like Dean Williams, Alfonse?  Short of Self's

"Which was?"

"From a distance," I said. "And, you only get one shot.  That's a

Alfonse didn't say anything and let me stand and think, try and
process, try and figure out what was running through my head.

"I think I'm scared, Alfonse," I said.  "I think I may have to do
something that..."  I stopped, swallowed hard.  "I almost killed that
one guy, Alfonse.  The strong one I put into a coma.  I almost killed
him.  And, I didn't realize it."  I looked up to Alfonse.  "I didn't

"In the heat of the moment, perhaps," said Alfonse.  "But, right now,
you seem to regret what you did."

"But, I'm going to make a decision in the heat of the moment, Alfonse.
I'm not going to be able to take a step back and think about what I'm
doing, I'm just going to go, and I'm just going to do it, and I'm not
going to stop until he's dead.  Because that's what needs to happen,
Alfonse.  He needs to be dead.  He needs to be stopped."

"There are always other options available to you, Jeffery."

"Like what, Alfonse?"

"Who else have you turned to with this information?"

"About Dean?  Nobody."

"Perhaps you should."

"I can't.  If I do, it won't happen."

"Where are you getting this information, Jeffery, if I may ask?"

"You may ask, Alfonse," I said, giving him a weak smirk. "But, I can't

"It seems to me that you may not be too comfortable with this
knowledge.  Or, is it the means by which you are getting it?"

I closed my eyes and lowered my head.

"I just...  I have to handle this, Alfonse," I said, opening my eyes
and looking back to him.  "These are my problems; these are all my
unfinished business.  I need to take care of them."

"You need to take care of yourself, Jeffery."

"I'll be fine."

"When is the last time you slept?"




"If my sources are correct, you were more unconscious than asleep then,

"What difference does it make?"

"And, before that, Jeffery, when did you last sleep?"

"What the hell does that change, Alfonse?"

"Perhaps your lack of sleep is impacting your thoughts and decisions?"

"I'm thinking clearly, Alfonse."

"Are you?"

"Yes, damn it!"

"Then, why are we having this discussion?"

"Because..."  I stopped, let myself hang there, waiting for my thoughts
to come, but they didn't.  "Damn it, Alfonse."

"You are welcome to your old room if you'd like, Jeffery," said
Alfonse, turning and starting back up the stairs.

I didn't say anything, lost in thought, as he left me alone in the cave.

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