[AC] Bush43 Daily Week Seven

Jason Kenney jasonkenney at gmail.com
Thu Jul 20 10:58:05 PDT 2006

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

BUSH43 #53
By Jason Kenney


I sprinted across the rooftop and leapt over Main Street, hitting the
roof of City Hall and going straight for the door to the stairwell.

Only Mysteria was suddenly in my way.

Victoria Burke stood in costume, arms crossed, blocking the doorway, as
she glared at me through her domino mask.

"Where is Cassandra Trellis, Jeffery?" she asked.

"Not now, Victoria," I said, trying to step past her.

She grabbed my arm and stopped me, tugged to try and turn me to her,
but I just pulled my arm away.

"What the hell is it to you?" I spat, as I spun on her.

"Turn her over."

"Oh, what, you decided to play dress up and finally be a hero again?"

Her eyes narrowed.

"Is there any reason, other than your personal feelings, as to why you
are shielding Miss Trellis?" asked Anna Romanova from where she
appeared near the edge of the roof, smiling, a wicked glint in her
eyes, as she took a drag off of a smoke.

"Where's William Richmond?" I asked.

"Where is Cassandra Trellis?"

"She didn't do this, not on her own," I said.  "Richmond's fucking with
her head.  I need to find him, so I can deal with this."

"I've let you deal with many things, Jeffery, and they all seem to have
the same negative results."

"Do you know where Richmond is?"

"Miss Trellis?"

"Is at Burke Manor, being taken care of," I said, and I noticed
Victoria looking none too pleased out of the corner of my eye.
"Where's Richmond?"

"I want Miss Trellis turned over to the authorities."

"No," I said, shaking my head.

"Either you turn her over to the police, or I will personally pay her a

"Fuck off, Anna!" I yelled.  "This is about more than Cass and what she
did tonight!  Richmond set up Cooper and his group, Richmond's
responsible for Ferguson and Carriage Hill and so much more, and, if we
don't find him, we're fucked. So, why don't you actually do something
to help for once and let me know where the hell he is?"

Anna started walking toward me, one hand with the cigarette, the other
emerging from her trenchcoat pocket, a metal scarab firmly in her grip.

"I believe that you fail to understand the dynamics of our
relationship, Jeffery."

The scarab morphed, as Anna approached, a blade extending, as she held
her arm up and pointed toward me.

Fuck this.

I reached up and out quick.  Before Victoria could react, I snatched
her scarab and broke the chain from around her neck, as I yanked it
free.  I grabbed Anna's sword with my left hand and pulled it down and
to the side; my right hand balled up around Victoria's scarab, its legs
digging into the palm of my hand, as I brought my fist across Anna's
jaw hard.

I let go of Anna's sword, as she stumbled back, stepped aside to avoid
a punch from Victoria, and brought a kick around and into her side,
sending her tripping back and onto her ass.

"This is not about us!" I shouted at Anna, as I planted my feet and
turned to face her again, her cigarette gone, that hand now rubbing her
jaw.  "It's about these goddamn things," I said, as I held up the
scarab still clenched in my fist. "And the Imperial Magistrate fucking
coming back.  We're not ready for it, goddamn it.  And, instead of
preparing us, you're fucking pitting us against one another and ruining
our only chances at keeping anyone alive!"

Victoria pushed herself to her feet with a shout and came at me.  I
spun on her, brought the back of my fist across her face, and then my
knee into her stomach.  She staggered back and brought her hand across
her mouth, coming away with blood.

She disappeared.

"Where's Richmond?" I demanded, as I turned back to Anna.

There was a scrape on the roof beside me, and I stepped aside and
twisted to avoid the arc of a punch from Victoria.  I reached out with
my free hand and grabbed her arm, twisted, and spun at the same time,
dragging my leg low and I assume under hers because I heard what
sounded like her falling.

"What do you want from me?" I asked, turning to Anna Romanova who just
remained where she was, sword out, no smirk, no smile, though the look
on her face was almost amused.

I tossed Victoria's scarab aside, hearing it clatter across the

"Is this what you want?"

I stepped forward and against the tip of Anna's sword, letting it dig
ever so slightly into my chest.

"I'm fucking right," I said.  "I'm the best goddamn shot we have, and
you fucking know it.  You kill me, you kill three and a half million

Anna just stared at me, and then she had that damn smirk that started
to spread across her face.

"Where is William Richmond?" I asked again.

And then, I was kicked in the back.

The sword in Anna's hand collapsed in on itself and back into the
scarab almost instantaneously, as I fell forward and into Anna.  She
stumbled back, as I ran into her but stayed upright.

I spun around and saw Victoria visible again, standing there, jaw
clenched, her hand wrapped tightly around the scarab.

I was speechless.

"I am afraid I do not know where Professor Richmond is, Jeffery," said
Anna behind me. "If I find out, I will certainly let you know."

And suddenly, I felt like Anna wasn't behind me anymore.

I tried to figure something to say, anything to say.

"What the hell was that?" I finally asked, too shocked to be angry.

Victoria glared at me for a moment and then turned and started to run,
disappearing before she hit the edge of the roof.



I started running.


I nearly tore the front door to Burke Manor off its hinges, as I came
crashing through.

"Alfonse!" I shouted, as I pulled my mask off, while stumbling into the
foyer and spinning around quick, looking for any signs of Anna or

The blow to my jaw told me Victoria was around.

"You bring this into MY HOUSE!" she shouted, still invisible, but her
voice told me where she was, where she was coming from.

I sidestepped another punch, brought my arm in for a swing on her, and
connected with her gut.


"What right do you have?!" she shouted, a punch in my chest, another
upside my head, and then a kick into my legs that sent me to the

I rolled away from what must have been another kick and was quick to my

"What on earth is going on?" asked Alfonse from the top of the stairs,
distracting me for a moment, just long enough for Victoria to take
advantage and come across my face with one hell of a kick.

I stumbled back, planted my feet, and felt a punch dig into my stomach.
 I grabbed her arm and twisted it, feeling her turn.  I reached out
with my free hand, grabbed her hair, and then stuck my leg out, around,
and pulled it back in, sending Victoria face first to the floor.

That must have stunned her because she was suddenly quite visible.

"Where's Cassandra?" I asked, as I looked up to Alfonse and planted my
knee in Victoria's back.

"She is still asleep," said Alfonse, as he started down the stairs.
"What are you doing?"

"Stay with her, Alfonse," I said, as Victoria struggled under me.
"Anna's coming for her."

Victoria screamed, and I noticed her free hand was now under her, near
her neck, clutching old faithful.


I leapt off as the transformation began, Victoria's body lighting up
bright, wings forming on her back, and she was up off the floor,
hovering, turning to me quick with sword in hand.

Yehovah Vehayah in all of her angry glory.

Not cool.

She came at me quick, lashed out with her sword, and I barely dodged
it, the blade tearing through my shirt.  I spun from a jab that tore
into the wall, and I came around with a punch to her face and chopped
at her extended arm, hoping she'd let the sword go, but no luck.  She
tore it from the wall and brought it around, as I leapt back and
turned, the tip of the sword barely catching my right arm and cutting
through it quick.

"Victoria," I shouted, as I backed away, clutching my arm, watching the
smile spread across her face, the flames around her body intensify.
"Please, we're on the same side here."

"No," she said. "We're not."

She held her free hand out, palm facing me, and a blast tore from it
and through the air, catching me square in the gut and throwing me
back, into and through a wall.

I hit the well manicured lawn and tumbled across it, coming to rest on
my stomach some fifty feet from Burke Manor.  My fingers dug into the
dirt, as I tried to push myself up, telling myself to ignore the pain
that tore through my right arm.

I looked up to see Victoria streaking through the air toward me,
flaming sword back and ready for one hell of a blow.  I got my feet
under me, and, just before she was on me, I jumped, hard and high,
twisting in the air to avoid the swing of the sword, as she tried to
spin and catch me.

Her momentum carried her under me, and I landed on the ground and
started running, glancing over my shoulder to see her starting to come
at me again.  I bent, as I ran, grabbed one of the bricks that had been
strewn across the yard, said a silent prayer, and spun around, bringing
my arm around quick and hard, throwing that damn brick as hard as I
could, as I stumbled and tripped, falling onto my back

Years of playing shortstop in high school paid off in ways I never
would've imagined, the brick breaking apart, as it struck Victoria
right in the forehead.  The blow and her reaction threw her flight off,
and she sailed over and past me and hit the ground hard a few feet
away, tumbling to a stop near the Manor.

The sword had fallen from her hands and turned back into the scarab,
just as Victoria was herself once more, the angel visage gone.

I got to my feet and walked to the scarab, as Victoria writhed on the

"Yehovah Vehayah was right," I said, as I picked up the scarab and
looked at it for a moment, then to Victoria who just laid there,
holding her head.  I was surprised she was even conscious.  "You're not
strong enough, Victoria."

I tossed the scarab in her direction, but she didn't notice it land on
the ground near her.

"Mentally," I said.

I walked to the hole I'd made in the wall and climbed back into Burke

"I'll take Cassandra somewhere else," I said, as I stopped and turned
back to Victoria, not even sure if she was listening, could even hear
me.  "And, if you want to kill me later, fine.

"The Imperial Magistrate is coming back, Victoria.  If you don't get
your damn head on straight, we're all as good as dead."

I turned back into the manor and looked to Alfonse who just stood blank
faced across the room.

"I'm sorry, Alfonse," I said, heading for the stairs.

"Shall I have a car waiting for you, Jeffery?"

I stopped and looked to Alfonse, still unable to make out the look on
his face.

"Make sure Victoria's all right," I said, as I started up the stairs.
"I'll be fine."

I reached the top of the stairs and froze.

"You can't have her, Anna," I stated, as Anna Romanova took a slow drag
off of her cigarette, sword lazily propped against her shoulder, as she
stood in the hallway just outside the bedroom door.

"She is a villain, Jeffery."

"She was used," I said, walking toward Anna.

"She must be dealt with."

"Then, let me deal with her."

"And, how has that worked out for us in the past, Jeffery?"

That goddamn smirk was on her face, as she brought her cigarette back
up, took another drag.

"Eldritch has turned out pretty good, don't you think?"

"I'm not done with her yet."

"Perhaps not," I said. "But, just the same, I'll handle this.  Please."

"Good luck finding her then," Anna said, and she walked past me and
started down the stairs.

Finding her?

I quickly opened the bedroom door to find the room empty, window wide

"Shit," I said, turning and running down the stairs, grabbing my mask
from where I'd dropped it on the floor and tearing out the still wide
open front door.

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