[Artifice Comics] Post Modern #1

utsukushuu.dreamer utsukushuu.dreamer at gmail.com
Wed Aug 27 11:37:54 PDT 2008

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


Prague: July 2006

She lost her footing as the ground shook, another explosion throwing
rock and debris over her as she fell flat and covered her head.

“Weisz!” Cassandra Trellis shouted, knowing it wasn’t necessary, that
Tommy, far away from the chaos, was passing their thoughts around.
“Where’s the backup?”

“Just a minute,” Johann Weisz’s voice came back in her head.

“I don’t have a goddamn minute!”

“I’ve got Angela on her way.”

“I don’t need Angela!” Trellis shouted as she lifted her head and
squinted to see through the smoke and dust ahead of her. “I need Bobbi
or someone that can knock this son of a bitch out.”

“What… hold on.”



Trellis started to push herself up but the ground shook again and she
collapsed, gritting her teeth as rock skinned across her shoulder.

“How does that feel?” a large man down the street shouted. Even his
laughter was heavily accented. “Are you comfortable?”

Trellis strained to get to her feet as the large man laughed.

She didn’t know this man or his associates that seemed to be tying up
the rest of her team. As far as The Seven knew, these people weren’t
supposed to be here.

This one seemed to have some sort of control over rock. The others
wind, water, fire. Like elementals, Weisz had said.

Whatever they were, they were beating the hell out of The Seven.

“Where’s Erlend Romanov?” Trellis shouted as she massaged her right
shoulder, trying not to wince, trying not to show how much it really
hurt, hoping that she could throw a worthwhile punch with it.

“Who?” rock man asked, cocking his head like a dog might.

“Erlend Romanov!”

“You repeat yourself, girl.” He lifted a hand, rock rising from the
ground as he moved his arm, and Trellis braced herself. “I think you
shut up now.”

Post Modern #1
By Jason S. Kenney

Pacific City: May 2004

The gathered crowd couldn’t help but cast worried glances to the
overcast heavens, as if the events from the year before would repeat
themselves like clockwork. Such fears kept the services limited and
crowd small, representatives taking the place of invited officials, a
press pool providing all networks coverage while only putting a few
into what potentially could have been harm’s way.

A preacher stood on a small stage erected near the edge of the harbor
that had formed in the crater that was once Pacific City, speaking
about healing and the mysterious ways in which God worked. Cassandra
Trellis wasn’t listening, instead staring at the water that lapped at
the shore beyond the stage.

A watery grave for more than a million.

She might have been able to ignore the preacher but she couldn’t avoid
the glances from the others, the glares, the silent accusations of
guilt by association.

For many this event was a reminder of the events that led up to a year

For Trellis a year ago was only the beginning.

“They’re not thinking what you think they’re thinking.”

The American voice snapped her attention from the water and her

She looked to the man that sat beside her, slouched with his arms
draped over the back of his chair, his tie already loosened, his jaw
working gum in his mouth, a hint of a smirk on his face as if the
proceedings amused him.

“You probably think they’re looking at you and thinking to themselves,
‘how dare she?’ You probably think they’re looking at you as an

She turned her attention back to the preacher but couldn’t ignore the
man has he leaned forward.

“But they’re jealous. All of them. Look at them. That’s not hate or
anger, that’s jealousy through and through. ‘How does she do it?’ ‘How
does she remain so calm and collected and come here to face this after
everything she’s gone through?’ They wish they had brass balls like

“Show some respect, Mr. Weisz,” Trellis said, keeping her attention on
the preacher.

“Respect? For what, a hole in the ground?” Johann Weisz shifted and
rested his arms on his legs, looking at Trellis, getting her attention
just out of the corner of her eye. “Hell, this isn’t for Pacific
City,” he wasn’t even trying to keep his voice down. “This is for that
guy there,” he nodded toward the stage, “or those folks over there,”
he nodded beside himself, “or any of these other people. This is just
so these folks can feel better about themselves. How many dead flowers
do we have to put on this grave until we don’t feel guilty for

Practically all eyes were on her at this point, her and another smear,
another scar in the psyche from the year before, another failure,
another fault.

“What do you want?”

“Ten minutes of your time. I’ll even buy you a drink.”

She didn’t answer right away, her jaw tightening and then loosening as
she tried to think of anything but the attention she was getting.

“You don’t really want to sit through this whole thing, do you?”

No, she didn’t.

There was nothing for her here now.

There was nothing for her here to begin with.

“OK,” she said, standing up and turning from Weisz, the crowd, and
making her way down the aisle and away from the function. Weisz
followed behind, nodding greetings to people who glared as they
passed, a smile and a wink, a swagger in his step.

The driver leapt out of her vehicle as she approached, caught off
guard, focusing more on the radio and football scores from the night
before than on the gathering.

“I’m sorry, Ms. Trellis,” he said as he moved around the car quickly
to open the door for her.

“That’s fine, Peter,” she said. “Where am I meeting you, Mr. Weisz?”
Trellis started to turn to face Weisz but he passed her and slipped
into the back seat of her car, a quick “thanks” to the driver as he

Trellis closed her eyes, swallowed hard and breathed a heavy sigh.

This was a mistake.

This whole day was a mistake.

“Are you OK, Ms. Trellis?” Pete asked from behind her.

She turned and gave him a weak smirk.

“No, Pete, but that’s not much different from any other day, is it?”

“I’m sorry, miss.”

“Don’t be.”

She walked past Pete and ducked into the car.


Trellis stared out the window of the coffee shop and to the water
beyond. The place smelled of sawdust and fresh finish, a new
establishment thrown up in the last year.

A new Pacific City had begun to spring up on the edge of the harbor
that marked the old one. A mix of refugees, national and international
services and profit seekers trying to scrape something out of the
ashes, something to call home.

Weisz narrowed his eyes as he studied Trellis across from him,
considering what to say next to try and get her attention.

“You did good with those hearings, ya know.”

“Of course I know,” she snapped, looking to him with a glare. That
wasn’t exactly the response Weisz wanted. “I didn’t have the luxury of
diplomatic immunity like some.”

“You should look into it next time,” said Weisz with a smirk that got
only a glare in response. “Besides, it’s not exactly like I wasn’t
grilled in my own right.”

“That must have been nice, being able to give your thoughts behind
closed doors half a world away and having every word stamped with a
seal of confidentiality while a city you were sworn to protect was
wiped off the map.”

“Wasn’t my city.”

Trellis huffed and looked away again.

Despite his smirk Weisz silently cursed himself. This wasn’t the type
of conversation he wanted to have.

“Do you know where he is?” she asked suddenly.

Weisz sighed, having expected the question. Even if Trellis hadn’t
been sleeping with the man before Pacific City was destroyed Weisz
would have expected her to ask about Jeffery Carter.

Everyone always asked about Jeffery Carter.


“Then what do you want with me?”

“I don’t know where Carter is, but I do know where we can find someone
who might.”

Trellis narrowed her eyes and looked at Weisz, studied him, tried to
figure if he was bluffing.

“Why would you tell me this?”

“Because this cat might have some info on other people I’m looking for
and I want your help getting to him. I want you on my team,

Trellis laughed loud enough to turn heads.

“And why on earth would I begin to trust you enough to work with you?”

“Jeffery plant that seed in your head?”

“Your cowardice planted that seed in my head.”

Weisz clenched his jaw for a moment, took the hit and let it roll off.

“Consider it a life raft, Cass.”

“Do not call me that,” Trellis snapped. “You have not earned that
right. Ms. Trellis or Cassandra if you must.”

Weisz thought of any number of other things to call her but bit his

“You know you’re drowning here, Cassandra,” Weisz said. “Look around
you. There is not a person in this building that doesn’t know who you
are and judge you for it. I’d even hazard a guess that our terrible
service isn’t entirely based on the server’s ability.”

Trellis looked out the window, closed her eyes and took a deep breath.

“I’m not going to lie to you,” Weisz said. “I hated Jeffery. He was a
piece of shit that didn’t know what he had until too late. But he was
a hell of a lot better than the others, so maybe I owe him this much,
seeing if he’s alive. I figure you’d want to know as well.”

“But you’re not being entirely altruistic.”

“That is never my style.”

Trellis looked back at him and waited.

“Where do we find this person with information?”

“Are you in?”

“I want to find out more first, about this person you know, about
where they are, about what will be required of us. Then I’ll think
about it.”

“I can work with that.”


The cement building looked like a box dropped from the heavens, small
windows on the two floors and a few doors the only things showing that
it was more than just a slab in the desert.

Weisz and Trellis stood on a nearby hilltop, Weisz wiping sweat from
his forehead, Trellis breathing in deeply, out slowly, steeling
herself for what was to come.

“You ready to do this?” Weisz asked.

Trellis took one last deep breath, closed her eyes, breathed out
slowly through her mouth, said a brief, silent prayer and then nodded.

“Entrance should be clear,” Trellis said.

“Good. Keep your eyes closed.”

She felt a lurch, a tug that tried to pull her body in all directions
and then felt the coolness of recycled air.

“We’re in.”

She opened her eyes and found herself in the front room of the
facility, Weisz muttering something under his breath and then clearing
his throat.

“We should be unnoticed by the cameras for five minutes or so,” he

“The floor should be clear.”

They started through a doorway and down the hall.

“What’s the range on your power?” Weisz asked.

“Long enough.” Trellis left it at that.

They both swung left down another hall and paused at the sight of a
fail old man with two armed guards next to him, guns out and ready.

“Mr. Weisz. Ms. Trellis.” The old man gave them a smile. “So glad you
could join us.”

“Why isn’t he down?” Weisz whispered toward Trellis.

“Because I’m a much smarter man than you take me for, Mr. Weisz,” said
the old man. “Your father underestimated me as well. It’s unfortunate
I didn’t have the opportunity to follow up with him.”

“Who the hell are you?” asked Weisz, delaying as his mind raced to
find something to get them out of this.

“Where’s Jeffery, Richmond?” asked Trellis.

“You remember me?” Dr. William Richmond’s smile widened. “I am
flattered, Ms. Trellis. And do not bother wasting your energy trying
to infect us with anything. I developed quite the cure for everything
before you were aware of the world, dear. Now, would you please be so
kind as to surrender? I would hate to have to call upon an Engine to

Weisz disappeared.

“Arrest her!” Richmond hissed, pointing to Trellis.

Richmond turned and came face first with the barrel of a pistol taken
from the hip of one of the guards.

“Gentlemen,” Weisz said to the guards who had not moved, “sleep.” They
both collapsed. Weisz smiled. “Time to be helpful, old man.”

“Do you realize how many laws you are breaking merely being in this
facility, Mr. Weisz?”

“Do I look like a man that cares?” Richmond responded only by
narrowing his eyes.

“I will not help you,” Richmond said, taking a deep breath and raising
his head high.

“You don’t have to help us, Doctor,” Trellis said, stepping behind
Richmond and grabbing his arms and wrenching it up and behind his back
before he could react. He opened his mouth to scream but Trellis was
in his ear, hushing him before he could. “You just have to be a

Trellis and Weisz closed their eyes but Richmond did not. A flash of
light burned at his eyes as he felt pulled in all directions and then
there was darkness and then a blur of colors in mess and vertigo set

“Stay with us, Doctor,” Weisz said and Trellis pushed Richmond

Richmond’s senses came back and, seeing the passed out guards on the
floor, the doors ahead, he realized they were on a different floor,
one three down from the ground.

“He is not here!” he shouted, getting Trellis and Weisz to stop.
“Carter… Jeffery, the one you’re after, he is not here.”

“Then where is he?” growled Trellis close to his ear.

“I… I have no clue.”

“Let’s have a look for ourselves,” Weisz said, motioning with his head
that they continue.

Richmond protested briefly. Trellis pulled on his arm and pain made
him go forward.

They reached a room and Weisz turned to it, stared at the lock for a
moment as he muttered something under his breath and there was an
audible click as the door opened.

“Wait!” Richmond said.

“Is there something you want to tell us, Doctor?” Weisz asked, his
hand on the doorknob, waiting.

“You want the next room,” Richmond said with a sigh.

Weisz and Trellis looked at each other and Weisz threw the door open.


They quickly moved to the next one and Weisz started muttering again.

“Who’s in there, Doctor?” Trellis asked.

“It is not…”

Trellis tightened his arm.

“Who is it?”

The door clicked and Weisz threw it open.

Weisz hesitated, his eyes widening and then he rushed in. Trellis
quickly shoved Richmond into the room and followed, her heart racing.

Weisz was already kneeling on the floor next to a passed out figure
who clearly was not Jeffery Carter. Trellis felt a crash, had a nearly
overwhelming urge to scream in anger and frustration but held it.

“Who…” started Trellis, unable to finish the thought, her voice
catching in her throat.

“What’s wrong with her?” Weisz asked as he gently rolled the woman on
the floor over.

“I would assume that she is sick with whatever Ms. Trellis shared with
the rest of the building.”

“It’s Estella,” Weisz said, looking at Trellis briefly before turning
back to the woman on the floor and brushing auburn hair out of her
face. “Eldritch.”

The name registered with Trellis briefly but only made her angrier. If
Eldritch was here…

She leapt at Richmond, grabbing the collar of his shirt and pinning
him hard against the wall.

“Who else do you have here?” she shouted, spittle flying in Richmond’s
face. “Where is Jeffery?!!”

“I swear… I do not…”

“Liar!” Trellis threw Richmond aside and the man tumbled across the
floor and into the corner. “Where is he?!!” She spun as she felt a
hand on her shoulder and Weisz stepped back to avoid getting hit.

“Let me check the other rooms,” he said. “You stay with them.”

Trellis started to protest but stopped, swallowed hard, and nodded.

Weisz stepped out of the room as Trellis took a deep breath, looking
to Eldritch still prone in the middle of the room, then turning back
to Richmond.

“I swear to God, Richmond, if you’re lying to me…”

“And what if I’m not, Ms. Trellis?”


“They broke into a government facility and assaulted government

“Who were knowingly imprisoning, torturing and experimenting upon an
American citizen granted diplomatic immunity by your very own

The birth certificate was fake and everyone in the room knew it. But
lacking proof, its existence was legitimate. Even if it had not been,
the order signed by two presidents was very real and very legitimate
and left little room for discussion.

Johann Weisz sat against the wall watching the exchange, desperately
wanting a drink. Cassandra Trellis sat next to him and stared at the
floor, desperately wanting to scream.

A year ago Johann Weisz made a deal with the American and Australian
governments, opening the way for military forces to retake Pacific
City from a homicidal mayor and science beings of questionable sanity.
That those forces never had the opportunity did not matter, the deal
had been struck, Weisz had upheld his end, and with it came the reward
of diplomatic immunity for himself and Estella _________, otherwise
known as Eldritch. Eldritch’s deal required a bit of finesse as she
was not only not an American but was not of this Earth.

“Those are pretty hefty accusations, Walt.” Gordon Lerner, Australia’s
representative in the conversation, was a man who wore a suit that
would have taken effort for him to fit into ten years ago. Today it
was just a joke.

“Then what were you doing with her, Gordon?” Walter Shriver asked.
Amerida didn’t just send a representative, they sent their Australian

“I’m not privy to the details concerning Ms. ____________.”

“But you are aware that she was granted diplomatic immunity and that
holding her in such a facility is a violation of that.”

“That still gives them no right to…”

“And we understand that, Gordon. Weisz screwed up,” Weisz perked up at
the mention of his name, “and he’ll have hell to pay back home,” and
cursed under his breath. “But as far as Australia should be concerned
this incident is over.”

“And what of Ms. Trellis?”

“She’s fine,” Shriver said.

“How the hell is she fine? She’s not under your jurisdiction!”

“In order to get at her you’d have to admit what you are getting to
her for. If you are willing to create an international incident out of
this, please feel free, but if you’d like to take the out I am
offering you…”

“That’s not right!” Lerner protested. Shriver just shrugged.

“Do you want to take it up with her father? The same Oliver Trellis
that happens to be a very close friend to quite a few of your bosses?”

Lerner sighed and shook his head. “You know this isn’t right.”

“We’ll take care of it,” Shriver said, standing up and walking from
around his desk. “I will personally see Weisz and Trellis on a plane
back to the states tonight.” Trellis looked up at her name. Lerner
stood up and glared at Weisz who just smiled and waived.

“And he’s never to come back. Any favors this government has cut him,
they’re done. He’s done. If he shows his face here again he’s going to
be arrested.” He looked to Trellis. “Same goes for her.”

“Very well,” Shriver said.

“I don’t care who her father is. You are not coming back, Ms.

“Where was your conviction a year ago, Gordon,” Trellis said,
returning Lerner’s glare.

“I’ll take care of it, Gordon,” Shriver said, steering Lerner toward
the door. “Tell everyone it’s taken care of. Call me next week, we’ll
get a drink, you can grumble about it some more.”

Lerner was saying something in response but Shriver closed the door.

He turned to Weisz and Trellis and stared at them for a moment before
sighing and heading to his desk.

“This is one hell of a mess you’ve created, Johann.”

“She had immunity,” Weisz said with a shrug

“And if you knew she was in there then there were proper avenues to go
through to get to her.”

“Let you know so you could let them know so they could move her and
deny the whole damn thing. Yeah, I’ll do that next time.”

“You knew better. And to pull Cassandra in on this…”

Weisz shrugged.

“She wanted answers as much as I did.”

“Well I hope you found them because neither of you are coming back to
Australia any time soon.”

Trellis felt a pang in her gut but held her tongue.

“How’s Estella?” Weisz asked.

“She’ll be fine. We’re still trying to find out what happened to her
so we can make a more thorough protest, but I doubt much will come of
it other than your get out of jail free card.”

“What about the others?” Trellis asked, getting both Weisz and
Shriver’s attentions.

“What others?” asked Shriver.

“She’s worried about empty rooms,” Weisz sighed.

“Recently,” Trellis said. “One still had a meal in it. They moved
people. They knew we were coming and they moved people.”

“Cassandra,” Shriver started to say.

“If there’s one facility there are others!” Trellis stated, shooting
at look at Weisz and then looking to Shriver. “If they have Eldritch
who else do they have?”

“Cassandra,” Shriver said, “I’m not sure what we can do…”

“Start asking some goddamn questions and looking for some answers!”

The room was silent for a moment as Trellis shook with her anger.

Shriver cleared his throat. “I understand your concern, Cassandra.
About Jeffery Carter. I share it.” He held up a hand to stop Trellis’s
protest. “I really do. He is an American citizen. His parents were
good friends, his father and I go back to before Jeffery was born. But
this situation, with Pacific City, with his involvement, and now this
with Estella and the facility, we have to be very careful about how we
deal with this. And we really have to face the fact that maybe he
didn’t survive…”

“He’s alive,” Trellis interrupted.

“We can all hope that, Cassandra. But that doesn’t make it so.”

Another silence fell on the room.

“I’ll keep asking around,” Shriver said. “I’ll do everything in my
power to find out something about Jeffery, you have my word on that.

“In the meantime,” Shriver began shuffling through papers on his desk,
“you will both find yourselves on a flight out of here by tomorrow
morning. I will have some people get your things, Cassandra, and you
can make whatever necessary calls you need to settle your affairs, but
we’ll be keeping you all here at the embassy until your flight.”

“So that’s it?” she asked, everything still sinking in.

“I’m afraid it is.”

Weisz stood up and shook his head.

“Don’t know about you guys,” he said with a sigh, walking toward the
door, “but I need a drink.”

He was cut off by Trellis’s fist upside his jaw. Weisz stumbled and
fell on his ass, staring up at Trellis standing over him, fuming.

“You son of a bitch, you knew all of this, didn’t you?”

“And?” He was cut off by a kick.

“You knew she was in there and you used me. You used me and you knew
damn well we weren’t going to find anything.”

“I didn’t promise Carter, I told you I knew someone who MIGHT have
information on him.”


“You might have heard what you wanted to hear, babe, but I didn’t
promise you a damn thing.” Trellis was shaking with rage but shook her
head and turned away.

Weisz fought back the urge to apologize as he pushed himself to his

“So that’s it then?” Trellis asked no one in particular.

“I’m afraid so,” said Shriver.

“Enjoy the land of the free,” Weisz said as he headed to and opened
the door to the office.

Trellis shot him a glare over his shoulder and he gave her back a
smirk and a small nod as he left the room.

She resisted the urge to scream.

“I’m sorry,” said Shriver.

She couldn’t think of a response so she left without another word.

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