[AC] Bush43 Daily Week Six

Jason Kenney jasonkenney at gmail.com
Thu Jul 13 09:02:21 PDT 2006

Artifice Comics - http://www.artificecomics.com

BUSH43 #48
By Jason S. Kenney

I found myself heading toward Cassandra's without really meaning to.
And, I asked myself why.  I could go anywhere.  I could have stuck
around with Alfonse at Burke Manor.  I could go bug the hell out of
Isiah.  Eldritch was probably sulking around somewhere.  Or, I could be
out alone, on some rooftop, staring at the sky and thinking.  I should
probably have been doing that last one.

But, instead, I was heading to her, a woman I had been on good terms
with for only about a week, who before then would have counted as a

My cell phone rang, and I scrambled to dig it out of my coat that I
still held under my arm.


"Where are you, Bush?" spat the voice on the other end, angry, harsh,

"I could ask the same of you, Simon," I said, pausing, looking around,
making sure I wasn't being followed.

"What did you do to her, Bush?"

"Do to who?"


"Nothing that she didn't have coming," I said, starting to walk again,
starting to jog toward Cassandra's.

A pang in my gut told me to move faster.

"Bullshit!" Simon Cooper shouted, and I could hear the spittle dancing
off the receiver of the phone in his hands.  "One last chance for
honesty, Carter.  What did you do to her?"

There was something about his tone, something about his questions that
didn't sit well with me.

"What is she saying I did to her?"

I heard a gasp followed by a yelp in the background, female and

My jog became a sprint very quickly.

"Leave her alone, Simon!" I yelled into my phone.

"Come and fucking get her, Carter," said Simon.  "And bring your mask."

And, he hung up.

Damn it.

I ran.  But, being on the street wasn't fast enough, didn't feel that
way, and too many eyes, too many questions, even this late at night.  I
turned down an alley, tossed my coat into a dumpster, and leapt onto
the fire escape, scrambled up, and broke as soon as I hit the roof,
leaping, landing, running again.

That was more like it.

Two blocks to go.

Run, jump, Christ, I'm not fast enough.


I pulled my tie off, as I ran, let it go and stream away behind me.  I
tore at my shirt that clung to my arms, hindered my movement, got in
the way, and I tossed it to the side and kept running.

Almost there.

Across the street.  I hit the edge of the roof, jumped, knew I'd make
the roof of Cassandra's but something stopped me.

Not a cloud in the sky and lightening tore through my body.

I hit the side of the building, bounced off and fell twenty stories
into the pavement below.

"How graceful," I heard, as I got to my hands and knees.

Then, there was a quick kick to my face, sending me up and over, onto
my back.

"Get up," someone barked at me, and I was more than happy to oblige.

I stood up to see Simon Cooper standing a few yards ahead of me, arms
crossed, electricity dancing around his body.  Tracy Pine stood a few
feet back from him, a wicked grin on her face, while she seemed to be
comforting Teapot, crying blood, not even looking at me.

I didn't see Frank Sign, but I knew he was around.

"Where's Cassandra?" I asked.

"You call yourself a hero," spat Simon, as he narrowed his eyes.

A quick punch came across my face, and I turned to see nothing next to
me.  Frank was running around somewhere, toying with me.

"I thought this wasn't about us anymore, Simon," I said, taking a
couple steps back, trying to look around without losing sight of Simon.

"It isn't.  Now, it's about what you've done."

I noticed a blur to my right, ten or so feet away, moving ahead of me,
behind the small group and then behind a parked car, gone.  Shit.

"I'm sorry if my not having sex with Tracy upsets you that much,
Simon," I said.

My body suddenly clenched, electricity tearing through my muscles,
pulling at them, tearing at my body.  And then, it was over.  I
stumbled but stayed on my feet.

"Don't lie to me, Bush," Simon yelled, and I looked to Tracy, that

"What did you tell him, Tracy?" I asked, my breathing hard, erratic.
Not good.  "Did you tell him how you sold..."

A punch to my gut followed quick but another across my chin.  I reached
out and grabbed air, as Frank was gone as quick as he was there.

"No more discussions," said Simon, as he started to walk towards me.
"No more talking, no more banter, no more nothing."

"No more anything," I corrected with a smirk.  "No more nothing is a
double nega..."

Another jolt, another clench, short but effective in shutting me up.

"Where's Cassandra?!" I demanded quick, as soon as my body allowed me

I saw the blur, behind them, to the left, coming towards me, quick.

I lashed out, as it was close enough, my first connecting hard.

Frank suddenly appeared, my fist buried in his torso, and I felt his
ribs break, his chest wrap around my hand slightly, as he didn't slow
down fast enough, his own momentum doing more harm to him than my hit.

The momentum in his legs kept going, pulling him off my hand, under my
arm, sending his body tumbling along the street behind me.

"You son of a..." started Simon, but I didn't let him finish, leaping
for him, one hand grabbing for his face while the other reached for one
of his arms.

Simon brought his free hand up and around my neck, as I tried to burry
fingers into his eyes, tried to twist his other arm and turn him, move

We fell to the ground, as he sent a shock through me that I tried my
damnedest to shrug off, putting all of the force of the fall into my
hand on his face, slamming the back of his head hard into the asphalt.
I picked his head up and did it again.

"Where's Cassandra!?!" I shouted, as his hand went limp and fell from
my neck.

I grabbed Simon's collar and lifted his shoulders up, brought his face
to mine.

"Where is she?!"

Simon wasn't talking.  Simon couldn't talk.  Not when he was

I looked up to Tracy and Teapot and got to my feet, advancing toward
them.  Tracy put herself between me and Teapot, which was fine by me.

I grabbed Tracy Pine by her arms and brought my face close to her's.

"Where is she, goddamnit?"

"She's still upstairs," said Tracy.  "Alive but unconscious."

"What did you all do to her?"

"Simon knocked her out," said Tracy.

"You better not be lying to me."

"I delivered Simon and Frank to you, Bush," Tracy said with a smile, as
the sound of sirens grew louder, closer.  "I've held up my end of the

I hesitated, looked from her to Teapot over her shoulder, still
avoiding looking at me, still crying.  I looked back to Tracy, and she
gave me a smirk.

"Get out of here," I said, letting Tracy go.  "Get out of town.
Tonight.  Or, I can not guarantee you anything."

"There is the other part of the deal."

"Don't test me," I hissed at her through clenched teeth.  "Now, get the
hell out of here before I change my mind."

Tracy smiled and stepped to me, leaned in, and kissed my cheek but
didn't pull away, stayed there, hovered by my ear.

"Go check on your girlfriend, Bush," she said and she pulled back,
smiled, took Teapot by the arm, and walked away.

I turned and ran into Cassandra's apartment building.


"Cassandra!" I shouted, as I threw her apartment door open and froze.

"Good evening, Jeffery," said Professor William Richmond, as he was
helped to his feet from a chair in the living room by his associate,
Gallows.  A little girl jumped up from the couch and turned to face me,
as she stepped to the other side of Professor Richmond.  Angela smirked
but did not meet my eyes, looking down at her feet.

Richmond was probably older than he looked, which would have made him
ancient.  He certainly didn't look as well as he did in his days of
youth as the villain The Mind.  He coughed a bit, as he stood, propped
himself on a cane, and turned to face me, all the while with Gallows
holding one of his elbows and shoulders to support him.

She glared at me, as she straightened up and placed her hands behind
her back, her dark hair held out of her face by berets, falling over
the back of her shoulders.  Her leather one piece glistened in the
light of the room.

"Where's Cassandra?" I asked, clenching my fists.

"She is in her room resting," said Richmond.  I started to move, but
Richmond held up a hand, and I paused.  "She is fine, Jeffery.  She was
made to sleep, so we could talk."

"Are you working with them?" I asked.  "Simon and his gang?"

"What Mister Cooper and his associates do is independent of me,
Jeffery," said Richmond.

"You're timing is awfully convenient then."

"My timing is purposeful, Jeffery," said Richmond.  "I heard that this
would be happening and figured it would be a very opportune time to
approach you."

"Is this about The Seven?"

"This goes beyond The Seven, Jeffery.  Though, it could impact that as
well."  He started to walk toward me, slowly, unevenly.  Angela started
to follow, but Gallows placed a hand on her shoulder and held her back.
 "Your course of action as of late has piqued my interest.  Your moves
to empower the people of Pacific City, specifically the police
department behind the Mayor's back, are very encouraging."

He paused and coughed again, quick to hold up a hand to tell Gallows to
hold off, as she had started to move to him.  He cleared his throat and
gave me a weak smile.

"Pardon me," he said.  "The curse of age is a failing body."

He continued his walk toward me.

"Your moves are a surprise though, Jeffery.  I have had my eye on you
since you started your career in the heroics, and much of what you have
done to this point has been quite predictable.  As most of you science
heroes are.  But, your position in the Mayor's administration and what
you have done with it...  Well, let's just say life is full of

"Get to the point," I said, looking from Richmond to Gallows who just
remained there, staring at me.

"The point, Jeffery, is that I wish to offer my assistance to you in
your efforts to replace the Mayor."

"I'm sorry?"

"The steps you are taking have long term aims, do they not?  And, they
erode power from the Mayor, putting it back into the hands of the
people who will be beholden to you.  As time passes, this power will
grow as the Mayor's falls, and, in due time, you will be able to remove

"That's not my goal."

"Not now, it isn't," said Richmond with a grin.  "But, you will see,
over time, that you will be able to do it.  You're getting the police
on your side, Jeffery; you're getting the people on your side.  And,
one by one, you're getting the city's heroes on your side."

"I'm afraid you're very mistaken, Professor," I said, shaking my head.
"There are no sides."

"The sides exist whether or not you can see them, Jeffery.  Whom you
can trust and whom you can not.  Who has your back and who does not.
You're preparing the people, Jeffery; you're preparing an army."

"Not to stand against the Mayor."

"Over time, you will find that the Mayor is a major stumbling block to
your army's ability to do what you want it to.

"Romanov is not strong enough to stand against the return of the
Imperial Magistrate."


"And, you will find that he is in the way of your ability to make this
city strong enough to stand up to her.  To make your army strong
enough.  To make yourself strong enough."

"You know an awful lot of nothing, Willie."

"I know that, if this city is to survive the Imperial Magistrate's
return and vengeance, then you must be stronger than you are now.  That
you must continue to be tested to reach your full potential if she is
to be stopped."


"What Mister Cooper and his group do is beyond my control, Jeffery.
But, the blame for their existence can be put at my feet."

I took a step toward him, but Gallows moved as well, and Richmond held
a hand up again to stop her.  I paused too.  He was in no condition to
put up much of a fight if I wanted one, but she was.  And, that he
called her off...

"What Mister Cooper and company did after their formation, their
specific acts, was entirely outside of my control, and I did not
anticipate the extent of what they might do."

"You empowered a bunch of science villains," I said.  "What the hell
did you expect?"

"I expected them to come for you, Jeffery.  And for you to defeat them.
 As you have."

"Is that supposed to make me feel better about it?"

"No, it simply must be said, so you can understand what I am trying to
do here.  Do to you, Jeffery.  For you.

"You are capable of great things, Jeffery.  Behind the mask as well as
outside of it.  Physically as well as mentally.  In order for you to
reach this potential, you must be pushed and forced along."

I stepped forward and grabbed Richmond's collar, as he again held up a
hand to keep Gallows back.  I heard Angela gasp, as I lifted Richmond
off the ground and pulled him close to my face.

"I will not be fucking toyed with," I hissed.

"Nor do I want to toy with you, Jeffery.  My goal is to help you become
what you need to be if the Imperial Magistrate is to be stopped."

"I don't need your help," I said, resisting the urge to drop him and
just setting him back on his feet.

"You have no choice in the matter, Jeffery."


"Of the infinite number of possible outcomes along this current
timeline, the most favorable to all involved requires further
training," Richmond said.

"Training?  Is that what you call the blowing up of a hundred and
twenty people?  Training?!"

"Like I've said, I had no control over..."

"Bullshit, Richmond.  That's out and out bullshit.  You said you made
them, you had total control over them, but you chose not to stop them."

"I would appreciate it if you would watch your language around my
granddaughter, Jeffery."

I clenched my teeth and looked from him to Angela briefly.

Damn it.

"But, if that is your belief, Jeffery, if you do believe that I had
control over them, then what do you intend to do about it?"

I looked back to Richmond for a moment and then to Gallows who was
tense, raring to go.  She wanted a fight.

"I'm turning you in," I said, looking back to Richmond who just smiled.

"Then, you're going to need this," he said, as he turned to Gallows who
reached into a pouch at her hip.

She pulled out a latex mask and threw it to me.  I caught it and looked
at it in my hands and my stomach dropped.  George W. Bush's crumpled
rubber reproduction looked back up to me with empty eyes.

"Put it on," Gallows said, a smile spreading across her face.

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