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I'm James Maxey, author of fantasy and science fiction. My novels include the science fantasy Bitterwood Saga (4 books) the Dragon Apocalypse Saga (4 books), numerous superhero novels including Nobody Gets the Girl and the Lawless series, the steampunk Oz sequel Bad Wizard, and my short story collections, There is No Wheel and Jagged Gate. This website is focused exclusively on writing. At my second blog, Jawbone of an Ass, I ramble through any random topic that springs to mind, occasionally touching on religion and politics and other subjects polite people are sensible enough not to discuss in public. If you'd like to get monthly updates on new releases, as well as preview chapters and free short stories, join my newsletter!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Burn Baby Burn Chapter Twelve 3622 words

Another NSFW chapter.


And then, for a little while, we were happy.

Chapter Twelve
Monkeys and Robots Make Everything Better

They arrived in Pangea in the middle of the night. Sunday was feeling better after a blood transfusion and two days of rest. The sub had run deep, cut off from radio, and Pit had expected that when it finally surfaced they would be surrounded by battle ships and superhuman waiting to take them back to justice.
Instead, they surfaced in an utterly changed world. Pit didn’t have much interest in politics, but as Sunday read news on the internet, she tried to explain things so he’d understand. The US had faced world wide condemnation for the embassy attacks. China took the incident as evidence that the US was planning a full scale invasion of Pangea. A decade ago, the place had been an embarrassing morass of refuge that no country wanted to deal with. Now, Pangea was turning into an island paradise in an enviable location. China had seen the pattern before. The US would claim that a country was harboring terrorists, then use this as an excuse to conquer the country. The US disavowed any attempt at turning itself into a colonizing power, yet countries around the world were falling like dominoes as the US invaded and installed friendly governments willing to give US corporations generous contracts.
The Chinese had finally had enough. If the US used force against Pangea, China would come to the country’s defense.
“Does that mean we’re safe?” Pit asked.
“I think it just might,” she said.
Dr. Cheetah had driven them along a highway that followed the sea. It was a full moon and the water gleamed in the light. The car was a convertible. Later, Pit would learn that 90% of the automobiles on the island were convertibles, since chimps took delight in the sensation of wind rushing through their fur. But, on this evening, all the knew was that he was in the back seat of an open car with the woman he loved pressed up against him and the sea and the sky stretched on forever.
They were provided with a sea-side villa that had been built as an emergency refuge by the notorious African dictator Zesty Manbuto. Alas, Zesty and every member of his immediate family, and a frightening number of uncles, aunts, cousins, second cousins, and strangers who’d born a mild family resemblance had recently been executed in the aftermath of revolution. The Pangean villa had been built with money channeled through illegal bank accounts. There was no legal document proving it belonged to anyone. It had been built to accommodate humans, so the chimps didn’t want it. (As Pit had discovered during his time on the sub, chimps built their sinks and counters at about the level of his kneecaps, and their toilets barely stood higher than his ankles.) Dr. Cheetah assured them that, for a fraction of their stolen wealth, they could call the place home.
It was nearly morning when they got to the place. Pit thought it looked like a museum with its marble floors and columns. The master bedroom had a bed that looked built to accommodate orgies.
“Zesty had large appetites,” said Cheetah. Then he’d opened the door to the balcony and they’d followed him out. A long lawn landscaped in palm trees and spiky bushes stretched down to a beach white as snow.
The moon had vanished. The sun set the water aflame as it rose to the east. Sunday squeezed Pit’s hand.
“We’ll take it,” she said.
Pit had been unaware they were being given a choice, but he played along. “Sure,” he said. “It’s perfect.”
After Dr. Cheetah had left, he and Sunday lay in bed. He was cautious, worried about hurting her. They kissed gently for a long time, but he made no motion to take things further. He knew she still wasn’t feeling as well as she should.
Finally, in frustration, she grabbed his hand and clambed it onto her breast.
“I’m just dying,” she said. “I’m not dead.”
And then he’d given up on gentleness and caution, determined to test her physical limits. An hour later he was out of breath and too sore to crawl away as she pulled him to her once more.
“I might need the regeneration ray,” he’d said as she grabbed hold of parts of his anatomy that were ready to surrender.
“Or you might just need some extra encouragement,” she’d said, sliding beneath the sheets.
They wound up sleeping until sunset. They awoke drenched with sweat. They’d gotten sweatier for a time. Then they’d gone down to the swimming pool to cool off. They floated around on water lounges while tiny swimming robot butlers brought them pina coladas. Sunday finished her fifth drink and went completely limp in her lounge. Pit thought she might have gone to sleep.
Then she whispered, “I think there’s something wrong with me.”
“Naw,” he said.
“I’m so… happy,” she whispered.
“Oh.” He scratched his chin. “I ain’t sure I’d call that wrong.”
“Shouldn’t I be scared?” she asked. “They tell me I’m dying, and it’s like a weight off my shoulders. War is over. I fought the world and the world won. And now I’m just so … so….”
“Drunk?” he offered.
“At peace,” she said. “Maybe it’s endorphins.”
“You ain’t gonna die,” said Pit. “Dr. Cheetah said he’d have ways to treat you.”
“We’re all gonna die,” she said.
“Well, sure. But there’s no need to be in a hurry.”
“I’m not in a hurry. It’s just… I don’t know.”
“I’ve killed a lot of people. A lot.”
“You keep count?” he asked.
“No,” she said, then laughed. “It didn’t matter to me.” She shook her head. “Those rednecks in the bar. All those cops. Who knows how many people I took out back in LA when I went nova to stop my fall. I didn’t see their faces. They didn’t see mine. I had nothing against them. I was just some force of nature, mowing them down, without asking if they were ready, without asking if they’d had time to do everything they wanted to do, without caring if they were in love, or in pain. I pushed death upon them with utter indifference.”
She motioned for the bar-bot to make her another drink. She let her hand drop back into the water while she waited.
“And now,” she whispered. “Now it’s my turn. Whether I’m ready or not has nothing at all to do with it.”
“I ain’t ready,” said Pit. “I ain’t ready for you to go.”
With a soft whir of underwater jets, the pool-bot brought her next drink out to her.
“Damn, these are good,” she said, after sucking down half the glass. Then she rubbed her temple and squinched her eyes together. “Ow!”
“What’s wrong?” ask Pit, jumping up from his lounge and bobbing toward her in the chest deep water.
“Brain freeze!” she said. “I drank to fast.”
“Oh,” said Pit. “That’s the worst.”
She sighed. “Not even by a longshot.”
Pit climbed back into his floating lounge. Sensor directed jets to stabilize the chair as he positioned himself. “This is pretty fancy stuff,” he said. He laned back and looked up at the stars. “Yeah, the good life.”
Sunday sighed as she, too, leaned back. “Monkeys and robots make everything better.”

A few days later, they met with Dr. Cheetah. They’d spoken on the phone a few times, but he told Sunday he had news he needed to deliver face to face. He arrived with a second chimp. In L.A., the embassy chimps had worn clothes to make their human hosts more at ease. On Pangea, all the chimps went naked. This meant, unfortunately, that when the two chimps arrived, Pit couldn’t tell the two of them apart. He hoped he’d pick up on some clue as to which was Dr. Cheetah so he wouldn’t look like a jerk to the ape who’d saved their lives.
“How are you feeling today?” one chimp asked as he approached Sunday.
“Not bad,” she said. “Borderline normal.”
“The pain has lessened?”
“Some,” she said. “I have some stiffness, and sometimes I get these little needles of pain digging around in my shins. But, I had a hangover the other day that put things in perspective. I don’t want to be a wimp about this. The pain is manageable.”
“Excellent,” said Dr. Cheetah. Then, he turned to the second chimp. “Allow me to introduce my superior, Dr. Troglodytes.”
“Troglodytes?” asked Pit. “Ain’t that some kind of monster?”
“I think not,” said Dr. Troglodytes. “The scientific classification for chimpanzees is pan troglodytes. I’m surprised you wouldn’t know this, given that humans have provided the labels for every living thing. I fear I must question the quality of your education.”
Pit furrowed his brow. Was he being insulted by a monkey? Then he grinned. Maybe the ape had him figured out. “I ain’t sure I had no education.”
“Indeed,” said Dr. Troglodytes. He turned to Sunday. “And you are the metahuman whose powers have damaged her?”
“Guilty as charged,” she said.
Dr. Troglodytes said, “I’ve reviewed your scans and blood work thoroughly. I’ve come to present you with options to deal with your bone cancer. I fear none are very good.”
“Hit me,” said Sunday.
“Ordinarily, bone cancer is treated with drugs and radiation. Unfortunately, your tumors don’t possess the genetic markers that would respond to the most effective drugs. Radiation is normally used to target a few localized tumors. You have tumors throughout your body. My colleague may have used the unfortunate phrasing ‘every bone in your body’ during an earlier conversation. This is no where near the truth.”
“Oh?” Sunday asked.
“The human body has 206 bones. You have tumors in 93 bones, fewer than half.”
“Oh,” said Sunday.
“Of course, this is still to many to make surgery an option. If the bones were confined to a limb, we could consider amputation. Since you have tumors in most vertebrae and in several ribs, this is hardly a practical solution.”
“Of course,” said Sunday.
“We could attempt to treat your tumors with a broad spectrum of chemotherapy not dependent on your genetic markers. However, due to the widespread nature of your disease, the doses would be massive. It is a case where the cure could shorten your life more than simply allowing the disease to run its course.”
Sunday nodded. “If it runs its course, how long do I have?”
Dr. Troglodytes shook his head. “I can’t say. There are no previous cases that quite match your condition. I can’t point to any given tumor in your body and say, ‘Here. This is the one that will kill you.’ With your metahuman physiology, I can’t rule out the possibility of spontaneous remission. However, given the extent to which the disease has progressed in the relatively short time since you first used the regeneration ray, my informed opinion is that you may have only weeks left to live.”
“Will I be in pain?”
“Pain can be treated,” said Dr. Troglodytes.
“I guess we’ll just let the disease go where it goes,” she said.
“I can’t take that,” said Pit.
“It’s not your call,” said Sunday.
“We can just keep using the regeneration ray on you,” said Pit. “Rebuild you every morning. You ain’t gotta die!”
Dr. Troglodytes shook his head. “I fear she’s lost mass with each exposure to the ray. You will only increase her agony with such a course of treatment.”
“I’m done with the ray,” she said.
“This isn’t fair!” Pit shouted, throwing up his hands. “Why is the ray working on me and killing you?”
“My understanding is that you possess enhanced recuperative powers,” said Dr. Troglodytes. “The ray may indeed harm you, but your natural biology mitigates the effect.”
“Then put my blood in her,” said Pit.
“Excuse me?” said the chimp.
“Put my blood in her. Let it heal her?”
“You know nothing of medical science, my good man. Your blood types are incompatible.”
“How do you know that?” asked Sunday.
Dr. Troglodytes said, “It was among the biological information we recovered from the ray.”
“When did you recover information from the regeneration ray?” asked Sunday. “Have you even seen it?”
“No,” said Dr. Troglodytes. “Of course I haven’t recovered any information from the ray. What are you speaking of?”
“You just said—”
Dr. Troglodytes held up his hand. “My apologies. I simply misspoke. We were talking of the ray and the word was simply in my mind. I meant to say, of course, the biological data we gathered from your father’s records.”
“Did those records show why I can heal?” asked Pit.
“Not that I can recall,” said the doctor.
“Then find out. Put me in a machine. Take my blood. You monkeys are supposed to be geniuses! I’m a damn puzzle. Solve me!”
There were several seconds of silence as the two chimps gazed at one another.
“We have nothing to lose,” said Dr. Cheetah.
“It would be cruel to inflict false hope,” said Dr. Troglodytes.
“Think of what we might learn!” said Dr. Cheetah. “Whether we cure Sunday is barely relevant. If we could market a drug that safely cured any wound suffered by humans, think of the fortunes to be made. Think of the prestige that would be due our country.”
Dr. Troglodytes turned from his colleague, waving his hand. “I care nothing for prestige in human eyes. And to me, a drug that cured humans and had no effect on our own species would be a drug I would flush down the toilet. Humans number billions while we number in the mere thousands. Why should we use our genius to save them?”
“Until we understand his powers, we can’t know that they only affect humans. We could be saving the lives of chimps as well.”
“Do as you wish,” said Dr. Troglodytes. “I need fresh air. I shall wait for you in the car.”
Sunday furrowed her brow. “Are you sure he’s doing all he can for me?”
Dr. Cheetah nodded. “He’s a professional. I fear we’ve simply exposed a political rift among we Pangeans. Like humans, we chimps have our factions. I represent a political party who wishes to promote trade with humans. I would like to see humans view our island as a desirable location for tourism. The truth is, our nation needs to establish itself as an economic power if we are to thrive. On the other hand, Dr. Troglodytes represents a faction of chimps who feel that Pangea should become completely independent from humanity.”
“Then he’s probably not fond of seeing us here,” said Sunday.
“No,” said Dr. Cheetah. “And Pit’s use of the slur ‘monkey’ cannot possibly have endeared you to him. But, again, he is a professional. I can assure you his personal feelings do not in anyway influence his ability to provide you with the best possible medical care.”
Sunday nodded.
Pit stared out the window and watched the monkey climb into the convertible. He’d be keeping an eye on this one. If Sunday wasn’t taken care of, well… out of all the crazy stuff he’d put in his mouth, he’d never swallowed a monkey. There was a first for everything.

Ap was in the command center working with Nathan to update the firmware of his belt when Servant came in and walked up to Simpson, who was sitting at the controls of the space machine, reading comic books. When none of the Covenant were out on missions, Simpson really didn’t have that much to do.
The command center was cavernous, half a foot ball field long and several stories high, so from the other side of the room Ap couldn’t hear what Servant said as he handed Simpson a sheet of paper.
But he did hear when Simpson turned, started tapping in the provided coordinates, then said, loudly, “Wait a second. These aren’t the coordinates for Seatle… this is Pangea!”
Servant cringed as all eyes turned toward him.
Servant tried to shush Simpson, but Simpson was a nerd straight out of central casting who’d never really learned to control the tone of his voice. He sounded a bit like Jerry Lewis as the Nutty Professor when he said, “You almost got me! Ha, that’s a good one, Mr. Servant!”
“Oh lord,” muttered Nathan, rolling his eyes. “What a moron.”
Technically, everyone in the room except for Ap and Servant was a certifiable genius, but Ap got the gist of Nathan’s sentiment. Nathan snapped the side panel of Ap’s belt closed. “There,” he said. “Your belt had a vulnerability that could have been exploited by a Trojan application hidden in one of your powers.”
“How likely is that, though?” asked Ap. “You guys run everything through the simulator.”
“Do we?” asked Nathan. “Because I found a couple of vision powers in the buffer that hadn’t gone through the normal review channels.”
“Oh,” said Ap. “Right. Those were from trusted sources.”
“A string of characters in a chat room is not a trusted source.”
“I’ve … uh … I’ve met Code4U. Sort of.”
“And I don’t want to know what the application Swinging Pipe does.”
“No, you don’t,” said Ap. “But I’ll uninstall it at once. The vision stuff as well. I don’t know what I was thinking.”
“Good,” said Nathan. “Then we’re done.”
Across the room, Servant and Simpson were done as well. Simpson was grinning, laughing at a joke only he was getting. Servant exited the room with a furtive glance over his shoulder.
Ap used his belt to trigger his Shadow mode. He hadn’t yet found an invisibility program that actually worked, but Shadow got him to 95% transparency. With Servant stewing in his failure to get to Pangea, Ap had little trouble slipping past him by hugging the wall and dashing around the corner. He leaned up against the wall, casually crossing his arms.
Servant turned the corner and paused when he saw him.
“Well that went well,” said Ap.
“Shut up,” said Servant.
“You were going to provoke an international incident,” said Ap.
“It wouldn’t be an incident if no one found their bodies,” said Servant.
“Woah,” said Ap. “No more Mister Nice Guy.”
“Right now there are two known mass murderers living like they’re royalty. You can just sleep at night knowing that we could solve this problem for good?”
“By my scorecard, they’ve kicked our butts twice,” said Ap. “Why would this time be any different?”
“Because last time we swept in pretending to be heroes, intent on capturing them. This time, I’m going in as a rogue agent. No one is authorizing my mission. The president can condemn my actions and launch a manhunt for me. I won’t even resist if they find me. I’d gladly spend the rest of my life in jail to bring these two monsters to justice.”
Ap pushed off from the wall. He’d expected to playfully tease Servant. He hadn’t expected quite this level of seething rage.
“Look,” said Ap. “I’m not happy about this development. But, orders are, unless Pit Geek and Sundancer show up on American soil again, we can’t touch them.”
“There are things more important than orders.”
“Yeah. Like the law.”
“There are man’s law. And then there’s God’s law.”
“I’m not a Biblical scholar, but isn’t that eye for an eye stuff Old Testament? If you’re really a Christian, shouldn’t you be a turn the other cheek kind of guy?”
“Don’t question my faith.”
“Fine. Then I’ll question your brains. You aren’t Ogre any more. You’re trying to be better than that. We’re all trying to be better than that. You saw the line of toys they Mr. Knowbokov is putting into Walmart. There’s a little Servant doll! How cool is that?”
Servant sighed. “Pretty cool I guess. Did they make the doll of you where the head blows up like a balloon?”
“Yep. And a Shadow Ap made of clear plastic. Another Ap where you can swap out the feet and hands for various bio weapons. Honestly if there’s anything cooler, I can’t think of it. And yet, somehow, I still can’t get any dates.”
“Code4U came on pretty strong.”
“You know the fundamental problem with that equation.”
“Really want to try that Swinging Pipe mode, huh?”
Ap’s cheeks burned. “You heard that?”
“Everyone’s heard it. Nathan told Sarah and Sarah’s told everyone.”
“Great,” sighed Ap.
“Everyone knew your secret any way.”
“Code4U didn’t.”
“Maybe she was borne without gaydar.”
Ap crossed his arms. “Maybe it shouldn’t be a secret.”
“Whatever,” said Servant. “I hope, on day, you’ll come around to the truth and let me introduce you to some people who can cure you.”
“Why am I talking you out of going to Pangea?” Ap asked. “Wouldn’t my life be better if you were a wanted fugitive?”
“I am already a wanted fugitive,” said Servant.
“Oh, right.”
“But there aren’t any dolls made of that guy. I guess I’ll play by the rules.”
“It would be a shame to bring the value of our collectables down,” said Ap.
Servant chuckled. “Who knows? Maybe we could put out a Sundancer doll. Maybe she’d come back to the US to demand her royalties.”
“Light bulb mode!” said Ap. Suddenly, a glowing egg bulged up from the top of his head, glowing brightly.
“What the hell is that?” asked Servant.
“I just had an idea!” said Ap. “We wouldn’t break any laws at all if we could drag them back into US waters.”
“You’ve got an idea how to do that?”
“Maybe,” said Ap. “Exactly how strong are you again?”
3622 words

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