[AC] Bush43 Daily Week Seven

Jason Kenney jasonkenney at gmail.com
Mon Jul 17 06:13:09 PDT 2006

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

BUSH43 #50: "Walk Unafraid"
By Jason Kenney

See the trailer by Jacob Milnestein and Jericho Vilar here:


I fished my ID out of my pocket and showed it to one of the officers
manning the police tape.  They lifted it up, so I could duck under, and
I started looking around for Cassandra.

"Morning, Mister Carter," said Officer Self, as he saw me.

"Where's Cassandra?" I asked.

"She's still upstairs," Self said, as he approached me.  "Refused to be
taken to the hospital, so they're looking at her up there."

I looked up to her balcony, curtains still blowing out.

"What happened?" I asked.

"I'll tell you on the way up," Self said, getting my attention and
gesturing toward the apartment building.

We both walked in together and waited for an elevator.

"So, what happened?" I asked, the elevator dinging and doors opening.

"Bush43 did," Self said, as we stepped on.  I pressed the button for
Cassandra's floor, as Self continued.  "He said he happened to be in
the area and found Simon Cooper and Frank Sign outside.  He apprehended
them and then came inside."

"Wait, you have Simon Cooper in custody?" I asked, playing up my lack
of knowledge.  I have not been here all night.  Nope.

Self nodded.

"Cooper's in custody, slight concussion but nothing too bad.  Sign's in
surgery right now to try and keep him alive."


"Bush must have gotten a good hit on him," said Self.  "At least six
broken ribs, a punctured lung, internal bleeding in the abdomen, just a

"What are his chances?"

"From what I've heard, too soon to tell," said Self, as the elevator
stopped and opened to Cassandra's floor.  "Bush then came in here to
check on Miss Trellis," said Self, as we started down the hallway. "And
got into a fight with someone who was still in the apartment."

"Any idea who?"

"We don't know, and he didn't say."

I froze in the doorway to Cassandra's apartment.

Damn, we'd made quite a mess of the place.

Police were all over the place, marking things, securing the scene,
typical police work that really didn't interest me right now.

I went in and stepped over a piece of furniture that was between me and
the hallway, heading down and into Cassandra's bedroom where a couple
of EMTs were tending to Cassandra, as she sat on the edge of her bed.

"Cass," I said at the same time she said my name, and she was on her
feet and in my arms quick, a tight hug as she wrapped her arms around

"What happened?" she whispered in my ear.

"A little redecorating," I whispered back, and I kissed her cheek while
we broke apart.  The look on her face told me she wasn't too amused.
"Are you okay?" I asked.

"I'm fine," she said.

"She should probably rest," said one of the EMTs, as he stepped next to
us.  "Physically she's fine, though I'd still recommend a hospital

"I'm fine," Cassandra said again.

"You should follow this up," he said, and then he looked to me.  "Just
to make sure everything's working okay."

"I appreciate your concern," said Cassandra, as she glared at the guy.
"But, I'm fine."

"Thank you," I said to the gentlemen, as he shrugged and followed the
others out.

I turned back to Cassandra and started rubbing her arms in some sort of
attempt to comfort her.

"Are you okay?" I asked again.

"I'll be fine," she said, and she turned away from me and walked back
to her bed, sitting down again.

"Do you want to talk about it?"

She shook her head.  Fair enough.

"Well, you probably shouldn't stay here tonight..."

"You think?" she said, looking to me quick, a bit of annoyance in her

I didn't start again for a couple seconds, letting that hang, and she
looked away from me again.

"I have access to an apartment," I said, fishing the keys to Victoria
Burke's place out of my pocket and holding them up.  "It's a loaner,
but it'll do."

"Is that your friend's place?"

"Not Isiah's," I said, shaking my head slightly.  "But, yes, it belongs
to a friend."

Cassandra nodded, though I wasn't sure she was listening, not looking
at me, looking to the floor, to the wall, everywhere else but me.

"Cassandra," I said, stepping to her and crouching down, trying to get
her to look at me. "What's wrong?"

She looked to me, glared at me.

"Is there anything you want to tell me, Jeffery?" she asked, her voice
shaking with a mix of emotions.

"What about?"

She shook her head and looked away.

"Is this about Pine?" I asked in a whisper.

Cassandra's head whipped to look at me, her eyes narrowed, and I knew
I'd hit the nail on the head.

"Can we discuss it elsewhere?" I asked, holding up the keys again.

She didn't answer, just continued glaring.

"Cass," I said. "I swear that nothing happened, okay?  I'll explain it
all but..."  I looked to the bedroom doorway, making sure no one was
there, had been there.  "...not here, please?"

She looked down and then to the side, probably not buying it, but what
more could I do?

"Let me get dressed," she said without looking to me.

"Okay," I said, nodding, as I stood up.  "I'll be in the living room."


She didn't say a word, as we sat in the back seat of a police cruiser
on the way to Victoria Burke's apartment.

Every now and then, I glanced over to her staring out the passenger
window, head pressed against it, arms crossed, hugging herself.

The officer driving, Murphy, was trying to strike up conversation, was
trying to talk politics, sports, random chit chat, and I tried to roll
with it.  Cassandra just remained silent.

"Your boy Bush really did a number on those guys," said Murphy, as he
looked to me in his rearview mirror.  "I mean, sure, a lotta us boys
woulda just shot them dead just the same, but still..."

"He left them alive," I said, looking back to Murphy through his

"Yeah, but should he have?  I mean, this isn't the first time these
guys have gotten out."

"We have to hope the judicial system works a bit better this time
around, I guess."

"I suppose," said Murphy, shaking his head.  "There are times I envy
those guys, though, you know?  Them science heroes, above the law and

"No one's above the law," I said.

"You know what I mean, though," continued Murphy.  "They can jump out,
beat the tar outta someone, and then disappear, no worries, no baggage,
no nothin'."

"I'm sure there's a bit more to it than that..."

"Take Millennium Man for instance.  He killed that Finnegan guy,

I didn't answer, but Murphy continued anyway.

"He got away with that, no problem.  And, some of us couldn't blame
him; I mean, Finnegan woulda killed someone otherwise.  And then, there
was those two who blew up Pacific Tower.  Now, that one was deserved,
but, if one of us cops did that, there'd be hell to pay."

"Millennium Man didn't get off on that one," I said.  "Jerrod sent out
the Siege Engine in response to that."

"True, but that didn't last, did it?  And now, with one of their own in
office, what's to stop them?  I mean, from what I hear, the Mayor
himself has been out and about killing a bad guy every now and then."

"That doesn't make it right," I said, shaking my head, staring out the
window.  "Just because they can take the law into their own hands does
not mean they should or that it should be accepted."

"Not sayin' I accept it," said Murphy defensively.  "Just sayin' that,
every now and then, I'm jealous of them."

"Don't be," I said, looking back to Murphy in the mirror.  "You're one
of the good guys now, one of the better guys.  I'd take one of you over
any science hero in this city any day of the week, and so would ninety
percent of this city.

"They don't deserve your envy, they don't deserve your praise, you
start doing that, and you admit that they're better than you..."

"I'm not sayin' they're better than me..."

"The moment you are jealous of them, the moment you wish you could do
what they do, you admit that they have an advantage, and they don't," I
said.  "Don't give them that power over you; don't let them start to
make you think that way, that they're above the law, above you, that
they deserve to be.  You're the best hope for this city, Officer
Murphy, not Millennium Man, not Mysteria, not any of them."

Murphy pulled up to the front of the apartment building and turned to
look at me, his face confused.

"I thought you were on their side?" he asked.

"I'm on the side that best protects the interests of the people," I

Murphy shrugged and got out of the cruiser, opening my door for me and
letting me out.

"Thank you, Officer," I said, as I walked around and opened the door
for Cassandra.

"No problem," he said.  "Take care, Miss Trellis."

"Thank you, Officer Murphy," she said with a small nod, staring at the

Murphy nodded to me and then got back into the cruiser and drove off.

I led Cassandra into the building and nodded to the doorman who gave me
an odd look, probably wondering what I was doing back so late and who
this second lady of the night was.

Let him wonder.

We got to the apartment, and I opened the door, holding it for
Cassandra, as she walked in, looking around.

"The floor might be a little wet there," I said, nodding to her feet,
and she looked down.

I'd picked the glass up from the champagne bottle but had no idea how
quickly that stuff would dry.

"Can I get you anything to drink or eat?" I asked, as I closed and
latched the door.

"No," she said, stepping into the living room, still hugging herself,
still not looking at me.

I stood there, shook the keys in my hand for a moment before pocketing
them, and walked towards the kitchen.  I filled two glasses of water
and brought them out, walking to Cassandra who was now standing in
front of the couch, setting one glass in front of her on the coffee
table and stepping back.

"Do you want to talk?" I asked.

She looked at me then, glared at me.

"What is there to talk about?" she asked.

"Do you want me to explain myself?" I clarified.

She didn't answer, just looked away again, and I figured I might as
well start.

"A few days ago, Tracy Pine walked into my office and offered me a
deal," I said, looking into my water.  "She said she'd turn in the men
of the group in exchange for immunity for herself and Teapot."  I
paused, while I took a drink of my water, weighing whether or not to
mention the second half, and realized that perhaps that was the
problem.  I sighed.

"She also wanted one night with me," I said, wincing as I said it.  "It
seems that her powers, well, when she touches someone they...  They
orgasm.  Quickly.  And, it doesn't work on me."

I looked up and noticed Cassandra now had her eyes closed, still
hugging herself, tense, tight.

She didn't like what she was hearing.

"She offered me Dean first," I said. "Before I had to follow through on
any part of the deal.  So, I accepted, though I wasn't sure whether or
not I really was going to follow through with the agreement."

I looked back into my water.

"I needed to get Dean Williams off the streets, Cass.  And, here he
was, being offered to me on a silver platter."

"What if she wasn't willing to wait?" asked Cassandra, still not
opening her eyes, still not moving.

"I don't know," I said.  "Thankfully, I didn't have to make that call.

"So, I got Dean," I said.  "And, Tracy wanted me to uphold my end of
the agreement.  So, I got a place." I didn't say it was this place, but
she probably figured that. "And agreed to meet her tonight."

I sighed, took another drink of water, looked back into my cup, and
thought about how to say the next bit.

"To be honest, I still hadn't decided what I was going to do.  I didn't
want to follow through with it, but I hadn't fully decided that I
wasn't going to.  I didn't really make up my mind until about ten
minutes before she showed up.  And then, she was here.

"I attacked her, Cassandra.  I very nearly killed her."

Now, I closed my eyes.

"I had my hand around her throat and was so close to just closing it.
But, I didn't.  I threatened her, told her to tell Simon and Frank to
run or die.  Told her there was no deal, that she had no immunity and
certainly was not getting anything out of me.  And that she should be
out of town by the end of the week, or I would kill her.

"I meant that part.  I meant the part for Simon and Frank.  At the
time, I fully intended to find and kill every one of those bastards."

I opened my eyes and looked to Cassandra who was looking at me again,
tears on her cheeks.  I kept the tears back for myself, wasn't going to
break on this, not yet.

"I let her go, and she went to Simon and Frank, and they attacked you,"
I said.  "I let her go, and she went after you, and I'm sorry."

"They didn't attack me," Cassandra said softly.

"They went into your apartment and did something to you, knocked you
out, I don't know," I said. "But, they went for you to get to me.  And,
if I'd handled Tracy earlier, if I'd handled any of them any time

I paused again, took a deep breath.

"Frank Sign's lucky to be alive," I said, looking away.  "I punched him
in the chest when he was running at me at full speed.  I'm surprised my
fist didn't just go through him.  Simon...  When I had a grip on him,
when I put his head into the pavement, I wanted to keep going.  I
wanted to kill him.  But, I resisted."

I set my glass down and looked to the ceiling, as I breathed deep,
sighed, tried to clear my head.

"This isn't me, Cassandra," I said.  "I'm not this vengeful person,
this vigilante that takes matters into his own hands and deals out
justice as I see fit.  I should have had Tracy arrested when she first
showed up, should have told the police, the Mayor, you," I said,
looking to her again. "Anyone.  I should have included other people in
this because that's the way you do things, that's the way you do it
right and make sure people are caught and held accountable.  But, I
didn't.  I wanted to do this, I wanted to find each one of these people
and take them apart, I wanted to break them, I wanted to make them
suffer at my hands and then leave them for dead.  I wanted that because
of what they've done.

"So, when Tracy Pine showed up in my office and offered to give them to
me, all of them, one by one, and all just for a clean slate for the two
least potent members of the team and one night of physical whatever..."

I let that hang, looked away, reached up, and squeezed the bridge of my
nose, tried to calm down, tried to kill the headache that was raging
through me.

"I'm sorry, Cassandra," I said.  "I should have told you.  I should
have taken you into consideration, taken everything into consideration,
and I didn't."

I opened my eyes, looked to her, and shrugged.

"I'm sorry."

She looked away from me and didn't say a word.  We both stood in a
silence that was horribly uncomfortable.

"The master bedroom's the one on the right," I said after a sigh,
gesturing to one side of the room.  "There's a full bath attached if
you want to wash up now or in the morning.  There should be an alarm
clock and a phone in there too if you need anything.  Help yourself to
the kitchen and whatever else you want."

I crammed my hands in my pockets, looked down to the floor, rocked on
my feet for a second or two, and then nodded.

"I'll be here if you need anything else," I said, and I turned around,
walked to the door to the balcony, and let myself outside.

I took a deep breath of fresh air, as I closed the door behind me,
walked to the edge of the balcony, and braced myself on the banister,
hanging my head, cramming my eyes shut, clenching my teeth, trying to
hold it together.

Damn it.

I opened my eyes and stood upright, looked across the city, as I put my
hands in my pockets again, took another deep breath, and slowly let it
out.  My right hand started playing with a piece of paper in my pocket
that I'd forgotten about.

I remembered what it was, as I pulled it out, the note Richmond had
slipped in my pocket earlier, that I'd transferred to my jeans when I

I unfolded it and studied it for a minute.

The fifth floor of an address in Lorrington and a list of five twelve
digit numbers, followed by one of only five digits.

"Where are you trying to send me, Professor?" I said aloud to myself.


I instinctively crammed the paper back in my pocket, as I turned around
to face Cassandra, as she stood in the doorway to the balcony.

"When they were in my apartment," she said, avoiding my eyes, again
hugging herself, as she leaned on the frame. "When they were
threatening me and calling you, there was something...  someone in my
head.  That was how they knocked me out.  They had a psychic.

"I just thought you should know," she said, never once looking at me,
turning around and stepping back into the apartment, closing the door
behind her.

A psychic.  Richmond had a psychic in his employ.  That helped explain
some things.  Maybe.

It also made things a bit more troublesome.

I hate psychics.

I turned back to the city and leaned on the banister, taking in the
view, letting my thoughts wander, and hoping I'd figure something out.

But, everything kept coming back to Cassandra and what had been done to
her, by me and others because of me.

I didn't go out on patrol that night, and still I didn't sleep a wink.

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