AC: Bush43 Daily Week Four

Jason Kenney jasonkenney at
Mon Jun 26 10:30:40 PDT 2006

Artifice Comics -

And we're entering the homestretch of the first month of Bush43 daily!
Whew.  What a ride so far...


BUSH43 #35
By Jason S. Kenney


"...with the known death toll at 98 while 33 people are still reported
missing.  Mayor Erlend Romanov again publicly appealed to the
Australian government for assistance in rescue operations with no
response from the federal government..."

I woke to find myself in a sparse loft apartment, laying on a futon in
the center of the room, the television to my right which turned off
when I looked, a workout machine to the right, a bay window at my feet.
 I didn't bother to look at what was behind me because my eyes settled
on Eldritch who was sitting in a chair near the foot of the bed.

I couldn't tell the look on her face, the sun coming through the window
behind her and silhouetting her body.  I tried to shield my eyes from
the sun and she apologized, turned and reached up and closed the

"Good morning," she said with a small smirk, her hair pulled back in a
pony tail that bobbed as she turned back to me, her hand coming down to
wrap around the other side of a coffee mug she held at her knees.

"Is it?" I asked, glaring at her as I stretched slightly and then
turned to put my feet on the floor.

I realized then I was naked.

"Actually it's evening," Eldritch said as I brought the sheet around to
cover my legs.  "That's a beautiful view of the sunset behind me."

"Of course it is," I said, looking around, trying to find my clothes.
"Where are my pants?"

Eldritch stood up and walked past me.  I noticed a kitchen kinda thing
on the last side of the room, a counter that split it from the rest of
the place, where she grabbed a gym bag.

"Here," she said, tossing it at me.  I caught it with my chest and
opened it on up.  "Isiah brought those over earlier today."

"What's the story Erlend's giving the press about me?" I asked as I
pulled my clothes out.  Just jeans, t-shirt, change of underwear and
socks.  All I needed.

"That you went back to your office after the press conference," started
Eldritch as she walked past me and sat back in her seat, still holding
her cup of whatever, "felt a little dizzy and a doctor checked you out.
 Nothing serious, minor concussion, scrapes, bruises, maybe a couple of
bruised ribs.  Recommended 72 hours of bed rest."

I nodded as I stood up.

"What's the real diagnosis?" I asked as I turned my back to Eldritch as
I let the sheet fall, pulling on my underwear.

"Minor concussion, scrapes, bruises, maybe a couple of bruised ribs.
72 hours bed rest."

"Yeah, right," I said as I grabbed my pants and started to pull them
on.  "So we're looking at about 130 dead?" I asked, catching Eldritch
staring at me out of the corner of my eye.  She didn't answer, just
stare.  "Eldritch?" I asked, turning my head to her, seeing her smirk,
her staring at me.  "130 dead?"

"98," she said.

"With 33 missing," I said.  "And it's been, what, sixteen hours now?"

"More or less."

"Okay, so 130 dead is what I have to prepare for," I said with a nod,
putting my pants on.  "Has Erlend really asked for assistance from the
federal government?"

"Twice now," Eldritch said.  "No response either time."

"When did he ask?"

"What times?"  I nodded.  "He first asked around four thirty this
morning, again asked around noon.  He figured that after no response
the second time that they weren't going to do anything."

"Did he ask for anything specific?"

"He said any assistance they could offer would be appreciated.  The Red
Cross has set up operations for the injured and displaced."

"How many were there?"

"So far, sixty two were hurt, but most of those are from the Palace

"How many rescue workers are dead or hurt?"

"Three died when the Palace came down, a handful were injured seriously
enough to need hospital visits, all are accounted for."

"Could've been worse," I said as I pulled my shirt on and turned to sit
down.  "Who's been doing the press conferences?"

"Nancy's running most of them with Erlend stepping in once in a while."

"Nancy doing alright?"

"She's holding up."

"Don't give me that," I said, grimacing from the tightness in my back
as I bent over to put my socks on.  "She's probably better at it than
I'll ever be."

"Roger Thompson slipped into a coma about an hour after he was taken
into custody."

I stopped and slowly sat up, looking to Eldritch.

"He say anything about the rest of the group before he went under?"

"No, but his broken jaw may have accounted for that."

"I didn't break his jaw," I said, grabbing my shoes and leaning down
again to put them on.  "He was talking when I last saw him."

"Still," Eldritch said, "he's out cold and they don't know when he's
going to wake up."

"How good is he otherwise?"

"Critical but stable."

"He's strong, he'll pull out of it," I said with a nod as I finished
tying my shoes and sat back up.  "Any luck on finding the others?"

"None that I know of.  We have a list of names of who we think is

"Do we know the exploding guy?"

"We think."

"Who is he?" I asked as I stood up and stretched again.

"Dean Williams," Eldritch said, "but you probably know him as

I froze.

"Son of a bitch," I said, sighing.  "Are all of these fuckers people
I've tangled with in the past?"

Eldritch was silent and I looked to her.  She wouldn't meet my eyes.

"You have got to be shitting me."

"Simon Cooper, Roger Thompson, Dean Williams, you know them already,"
said Eldritch as she held out a finger for each, setting her mug down
with her other hand.  "The fast guy, Frank Sign, or Zoom Zoom."

"Shit," I said, sitting down, putting my head in my hands.

"The blonde girl we think is Tracy Pine who was last seen under the
horrible name of CandyAss."

"CandyAss?" I asked, looking to Eldritch.

"Of the AssMasters."


"The sixth one," continued Eldritch, holding up a single finger on her
other hand, holding it up for me to see, "we can't quite pin down.
Real name wise.  But Erlend thinks it's Teapot."

"No shit," I said.  "Fuck, why?  Why the hell is this happening with
people I dealt with?"

"Well, you probably weren't the only person to ever deal with them,"
said Eldritch as I stood up and began to pace.  "I mean, didn't
Victoria run into a few of them once?"  I didn't answer, just thinking.
 "So they found a few more.  Also there's the matter of your tactics
that lends to this."

I stopped and glared at Eldritch over my shoulder.

"What about my tactics?"

"You leave them alive."

I couldn't argue with that.

"Another connection is that, well, clerical error seems to have put
Simon and Frank into the same therapy sessions after they worked
together on that attempted robbery Victoria stopped."

"They were let out of jail?"

"On probation."

"Why even that much?"

"Talk to Erlend about that."

"I will."

"So also in this therapy session was Tracy Pine.  No one's sure how
Roger or Teapot came into the picture, but we now think it was Simon,
Frank and Roger that broke Dean out about six weeks back."

"Wait, what?"

"Dean Williams escaped after his police transfer convoy was attacked
outside of the courthouse."

"Six weeks ago?"  Eldritch nodded.  "Why didn't I ever hear about

"Don't you read the newspaper?"

"And no one followed up on it?"

"Who's supposed to follow up on it?  The police think that the science
heroes should handle the science villains and most science heroes think
the police need to step up.  So it fell through the cracks."

"Through the goddamn faultline," I said with a shake of my head.  "That
info's going to get out and we're going to have to explain why that
happened on our watch.  Shit, Erlend's policies are creeping up to bite
him in the ass.  Or, rather, this city in the ass."

"Would you like some coffee?" Eldritch asked.

"No," I said.  "I need to get running."

"To do what?"

"My job," I said as I walked back to the futon and grabbed the gym bag.

"Which one?"

"Which one won't have every science hero in the city trying to beat the
shit out of me?"

"Jeffery," Eldritch said, standing up, "we were only trying..."

"Don't," I said, holding up a hand to stop her.  "You guys did it, I
now know where you all stand.  Fair enough."

I started to walk to the front door.

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"What the hell do you think it means?"

"Jeffery, you were in no condition..."

"Not after you all were done with me, right.  But you had no right to
get in the way of..."

"We were looking out for you!"

"You need to be looking out for everyone else, Eldritch.  That's why
we're fucking here, to look over the city first, each other second."

"And when do you look after yourself, Jeffery?  Last?"

"I was fine, goddamn it."


"I have shit to do, Eldritch.  Two jobs to do and a friend to check up

Something changed in her face with that.  Oh my.

"Is that what this is about?" I asked.

"No," Eldritch said, glaring at me.  "God forbid people care about you,
Jeffery.  God forbid they want you to take care of yourself."

"God forbid they let me be a big boy and make my own decision."

"Sometimes you make the wrong decisions, Jeffery."

"And if that wrong decision puts the lives of others at risk, by all
means, step up and stop me, but if I'm only going to cause harm to
myself, then for Christ's sake, let me learn from my mistakes."

"Go be a big boy then," said Eldritch, throwing up her hands in a show
of defeat.

"Just keep in mind, Jeffery," she said as I turned to the door, getting
me to look at her over my shoulder, "you're looking at a team made up
of people you've met before, every last one, all associated, and there
is certainly a connection between Simon and Cassandra that you should
be concerned about."

"What connection?"

"That they worked together in the past."

"As civilians."

"And that you just happened to go to her apartment the same night he
happened to break in.  And that she happened to invite you to a
function that was the first instance of these people popping up on the
radar as a group."

"You think she's part of this?"

"I think that there are a lot of coincidences here that you just need
to keep in mind, Jeffery.  For your own sake."

"Should I also keep in mind that this friendly reminder is coming from
what may not be an entirely unbiased source?"

"You take from it whatever you want, Jeffery," said Eldritch as she
crossed her arms and continued to glare at me.

"Yeah," I said, opening her door and leaving it at that.


I waited patiently after knocking, head hung, trying to work out in my
head what I was going to say, what I needed to say if anything.

Did I need to explain myself?  Was it necessary or needed or expected?

Was she going to be pissed with me?

Was she even okay?

Cassandra Trellis opened the door and glared at me, her right hand on
her hip as she just stood there and waited.

"Are you okay, Cass?" I asked

"Do I look okay?"

"You look pretty upset, but aside from that I can't tell."

"Are you okay, Jeffery?"

"A little tense and sore all over, but I think I'm okay."

She nodded and we both stood there, me out in the hallway, her with the
door open, neither of us speaking for a few moments.

"Can I kiss you?" I asked, giving a weak smile.

"What makes you think you have any right to kiss me?"  She smirked
slightly and I knew she was okay.

"Because I ooze with charm."

"Huh," she said, standing there and I figured that was all I was going
to get right now.  "You might as well come inside."

I stepped in and she closed the door then turned to me and slapped me
across the face.

"That's for this morning," she said.

"What about this morning?" I asked as I rubbed my cheek while she
walked away.  Not that it hurt, but, well, that's what you do when
you're smacked.

"Where do I begin?" she asked as she reached her living room and spun
to face me with a little flourish.  "Coming over here like you did, not
stopping to get yourself taken care of, leaving me like you did,
disappearing for most of the day..."

"That last one was out of my control."

"Oh really?"

"I kinda had an accident and woke up about thirty minutes ago at

"What kind of accident?" she asked, hands on her hips, perhaps a hint
of displeasure in her voice.

"Well, after I finished with Thompson, Eldritch and Lin tried to beat
me up and I ended up falling off a building and landing on my head.  Or
something like that."

"Landing on your head?"  I nodded.  "Are you normally that clumsy?"

"Well, the fight with Thompson wasn't exactly a walk in the park and
then Eldritch coming at me like she did didn't help either, and,
well..."  I scratched my head and looked down.  "Yeah, I'm normally
pretty clumsy, but landing on my head is rare."

"So you just woke up?"

"More or less."

"Do you know what's been going on?"

"About 130 dead and missing, sixty some odd injured, the Mayor's asked
for federal assistance twice with no results, and I've been advised by
a doctor to take three days of bed rest."

"Are you going to?"

"I'm not in bed right now, am I?"  I smiled so she'd know I was joking.
 She just gave me a smirk that called me a smartass.

"So the Mayor grilled me for about thirty minutes after you left," said
Cass as she walked to her kitchen.

"She did what?"  I followed.

"Questioned me about Simon, how I knew him, how well I knew him, why he
was here earlier this week, things like that," she said as she opened a
cabinet and pulled out a couple wine glasses.

"No thanks," I said as she set them down and reached for the wine.

"What?"  She gave me a smile.  "You said you were tense, this will

"Aspirin will help.  And should you be drinking with a headwound?"

"It's a scratch, Jeffery.  Besides, the pain pills they put me on says
alcohol may amplify the effect, so since they aren't doing squat for my
headache, I say amplify away."

I just smiled and shook my head.

"So, Anna questioned you?" I asked as I leaned against the fridge and
watched her pour.

"Yes, and I didn't appreciate her tone," she said as she finished and
handed me a glass.  I nodded and said thanks.

I wasn't about to tell her Eldritch's warning.  Not that I believed it,
but just the same, what would it help?

"I'll talk to her," I said as she turned with her glass.

"Don't worry about it," she said.  "I just wanted to give you a bit of
grief over it."

"I'm more than happy to pass it along," I said as she held her glass

"So what shall we toast?" she asked.

"Living to fight another day," I said and we clinked glasses and drank.

"Oh," she said as she finished her sip and set her glass down on the

"What?" I asked as she took my glass and set it down as well.

As soon as it was on the counter she was on me, nearly making me
stumble back into the wall, her arms around my neck, her lips on mine.
I wrapped my arms around her and went with the flow.

She pulled away after a few moments and gently put her forehead to
mine, her breathing heavy and slow.

"That's for being okay," she said and I smiled.

"I need to be okay more often," I said.

We stayed like that for a bit and I kissed her again, on the lips but

"I can't stay too long," I said.

"I figured as much," she said with a sigh and she brought her arms from
around my neck and stepped away, turning to the glasses of wine and
handing one back to me.

"I gotta go in and figure out what all's happened while I was gone."

"You don't need to make excuses, Jeffery.  You take your job seriously.
 A little too seriously for someone who supposedly doesn't want it."

"I'd be doing the people a disservice if I did this half assed," I said
as I stared into my wine glass, swirling its contents.

"So I've been meaning to ask," Cassandra said.  "How do you know Emma

"Daggon's fiancé?" I asked, looking up to Cass who nodded while she
took a sip.  "She's the one that gave me the scars."

Cass nearly choked on her wine.

"Emma Randolph?"  I nodded.  "Did that?"  I nodded.  "How the hell did
she pull that off?" she asked as she stepped past me and into the
living room.  I followed.

"You remember the Imperial Magistrate attack?"  She gave me a look that
said that was a stupid question.  Which it was.  "Well, when the
Magistrate left, she forgot her sword.  Which Emma, one way or another,
got ahold of."

"And she stabbed you with it?"



"I was in her way, I guess," I said with a shrug.

"You guess?"  I shrugged again.  "So what are you going to do about

"What do you mean?"

"I mean that you now know who she is, where she is.  What are you going
to do about it?"

"Nothing," I said, studying my wine again.


"What am I supposed to do?" I asked, looking to Cass.  "I can't just
barge in and beat her up.  It's quite obvious to me after two
encounters that I'm not quite in any position to do that.

"But, worse, she knows who I am, and THAT'S what I'm worried about."

"So what are you going to do about it?"

"I don't know yet," I said and I finished my wine.  "But seeing her did
answer a few questions."

"Like what?"

"Just what she's up to and all."

"Are you purposefully being vague or is there a reason?" asked Cass as
she gave me a smirk and stepped toward me, practically against me.

"There's a reason," I said, leaning in and giving her a quick kiss.  "I
should go."

"Have you eaten anything today?"  I didn't respond, which was response
enough.  "Have dinner first, Jeffery.  Please."

"I'll grab something on the way," I said.  "Really.  I'll eat."

"Don't make me mother you."

"Please resist the urge," I said and I kissed her again.

"Call me later," she said as I stepped past her and toward the door.

"I will," I said as I opened the door and turned to her, gave her a
wink and a smile.  "Let me know if you need anything."

"Just be careful, Jeffery."

"I'll see what I can do."

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