Demiurge Overkill Pt. 1
“Sophie,” Now Ray said. “When you try to use your power on Yalda, is the problem that you aren’t able to get in?”
“His mind is surprisingly easy to get in,” she replied. “It’s just that there’s nothing there. No fear, no guilt, no remorse, no joy, there isn’t even boredom. Just a constant parade of thoughts.”
“You can see what he’s thinking?”
“No, I’m not a psychic. I go by feel. Conscious thoughts just feel a certain way. Like paperwork. I feel out emotions, then I swim down to their roots in the subconscious. And his subconscious is empty.”
“There’s nothing there. There’s always something, like a psychic mass that is planted by early trauma or suffering that was never properly taken care of and grows, like a tumor into a beast. These beasts can unconsciously affect your behavior and everybody has a handful. Sometimes they manifest as a replica of a person who might have caused or is strongly connected to a traumatic event or suffering. But for Yalda, there’s nothing and no one…” Sophie paused and stared askance.
“What is it, Sophie?” Now Ray asked.
“Something Simon Vyx said to me before he died.”
“I wouldn’t take advice from Yalda’s prime stooge.”
“Well, he said Yalda is afraid of nothing and no one.”
“That sounds like some stupid shit he says to sound intimidating,” Wolf said, sipping a beer and reading a magazine.
“But, that’s exactly what I found in his subconscious. Nothing, and no one.”
“Sounds like Vyx was right about that,” Cheryl said.
“We’ll have to take another tack,” Now Ray said.
“Wait a second,” Sophie said. “I couldn’t find anything because I wasn’t looking for nothing or no one.”
“You want to try and manifest nothing and no one?”
“I’m not even sure what that would look like.”
“Lu, you got a jay?” Wolf asked. “I’m not nearly off my tits enough for this conversation.”
“I’m kind of seeing him floating in an empty space,” Luna said handing Wolf a joint.
“Instead of pulling the nothing out, put him in it,” Wolf said, holding his breath.
“Cletus, is that possible?” Sophie asked.
“Well, I suppose it could be, but I imagine you’d have to stay in there with him or the spell would break.”
“Do you happen to know of any spells that could skirt that requirement?” Sophie feigned sheepishness.
“Young lady,” Cletus laughed, “If you memorized the Principia front to back, you know of all the spells Abby or I will ever create.”
“Could you create one?” Now Ray asked.
“Creating one is a trifling affair. That’s not the problem. It’s the learning it to a degree of proficiency. That could take decades.”
“Sophie, how long have you been reading that book?” Ray asked.
“Since I got it from mom when I was four.”
“How’s three decades give or take?” Ray asked Cletus.
“In three decades, one could be a master, if one were prodigious,” Cletus replied.
“We have a prodigy right here,” Ray looked at Sophie.
“You have three decades in your pocket?” Sophie asked.
“I have 600 years and three decades.”
“This is getting good,” Wolf whispered to Luna and passed her the joint.
“Cletus, if I may?” Ray gestured to his version of the Principia.
“Of course,” he replied.
Ray opened the book to a random page, “Could you tell me what’s on page 185, please Sophie?”
“Easy, fire elemental conjuring. The extended version.”
“What was written in the margin?”
Ray scribbled on the page, “Are you sure?”
“It says, ‘hey Sophie, it’s Ray’.”
“No shit,” Wolf blurted. “Do that again.”
“We will,” Ray replied. “Cletus, Abby get to work on that spell. How long do you need?”
“A few hours at least,” Abby replied.
“Okay, in the meantime we track him down. Sophie, what do you need from us?”
“Just get me close enough.”
“Done. And remember everybody, and this means you Joneses, I want him taken alive. This measure is for pacification only. Am I clear?”
He was met with affirmatives and a pair of groans. He pointed at the Joneses, like a teacher to an unruly student.
“Now, let’s go find him,” Ray said.
“Guys,” Cheryl piped up from behind her computer. She flipped the monitor around and it showed helicopter footage of Yalda shooting a heavy laser cannon in the middle of Broad Street, “Looks like he’s calling us out.”
“It gets worse, Miss Ellers,” Bart called from the top of the steps.
She scanned the news which was plastered with images of Draconian warships hanging low over major metropolitan areas around the world, interspersed with Yalda’s tantrum.
“A lot worse, apparently,” Cheryl said.
“The Draconians weren’t as crippled or shorthanded as they led us to believe. They’re preparing for a planetary assault,” Ray said.
“On it,” Wolf said, as he and Luna strapped their helmets on.
“I’m coming with you. What’s left of my fleet will join the defense. Other Me, head the ground operation. You have your orders. Head out.”
“Orders?” Cheryl said, putting her coat on.
Yaldabaoth stood in the middle of the street blasting at cars, blasting the pedestrians who fled, blasting the news vans that arrived, blasting the police that tore in, and blasting some planes flying overhead. Hovering low above him was Vijeda’s corvette. Cheryl and her team arrived in the Chariot with Carl jogging behind in his exoskeleton. Ray landed beside them.
“Follow my lead. Wait for my signal,” Ray said.
They approached Yalda who had tossed the cannon aside and stood smiling at them. They regarded each other for a long time.
“Well?” Ray asked. “You got our attention.”
“Eh, Ray Ray. Do you know what this is?” he waved the syringe in the air.
He was met with a blank stare.
“No? You will. You helped invent it, Ray.”
“‘Invented’ isn’t the right word. It makes you sound smarter than you are. You allocated the budget and gave the order to have it invented. It’s the weaponized form of the Seraphim genetic enhancement program. A single injection, immediate results. For this particular batch, I added some of my own special touches. A dash a Draconian, a pinch of shapeshifter.”
“If we let him inject himself, our jobs are going to get a lot harder,” Past Ray said.
Sophie let an arrow fly and hit Yalda in wrist holding the syringe, sending it flying.
“You little c…” Yalda shouted but was interrupted by a barrage of arrows. Most aimed at his head.
“I want him taken alive, Sophie,” Past Ray said.
“I slipped,” Sophie said, then mumbled to Cheryl “He’s not calling me a ‘c…”
Sophie was cut short by Carl leaping at Yalda, his exoskeleton smashing the pavement below his feet. Carl threw haymakers at Yalda who dodged them, but was being pushed further away from the syringe on the ground.
“So much for ‘wait for my signal’,” Past Ray grumbled.
The groups formed a ring around Yalda as he bobbed and weaved and fended off their attacks. Draconian soldiers descended on zip lines from the hovering warship overhead and joined the fray. Blades, lasers, tasers, and fists flew. Demented beasts from subconscious minds steeped in violence tore their way through the Draconians. As she was jamming her taser into the crotch of an attacking soldier she noticed the glaring absence of Yaldabaoth. She saw him crawling over to the syringe. She darted through the melee and slammed him on the back of his head with the butt of her taser. He stood up syringe in hand and turned to her.
“It was a valiant effort, Fanny Alexander,” he said. “Pathetic, but valiant. But like all good things, this must come to an end.”
He held the syringe to his neck and Cheryl swung her taser like a club and caught the syringe with the upstroke, launching it into the air. As it came down, she shocked Yalda and caught it before he could lift his arm.
“The end,” she panted. “I agree.”
Yalda grabbed her wrist and jammed the needle into her neck and slammed the plunger down.
“This would have made me a god. However, it will probably kill you or make you a vegetable. Either way, you’re no longer an issue.”
Cheryl dropped to her knees and shrieked in pain. She used whatever strength and mental facilities she still had command over to jam her taser in Yalda’s stomach. He yelped and grabbed it from her hand.
“What is it with you and this thing?” Yalda said and stuck her in the neck with it.
Electrical tendrils arced over her body and long whips of sparking current extended from her fingers. She fell face down on the street, convulsing. Wild streams of electricity flowed and arced around her grabbing on to anything metal. Yalda jumped back as the current crept up the prod to his hand and he dropped it next to Cheryl, who had become motionless.
“Cheryl,” Sophie called as she raced over. She knelt down beside her and put her hand on hers. A loud snap and arcing current hit Sophie’s fingers and she was thrown back. Hunter turned a dial on the hilt of his sword and touched Cheryl with the blade. The electricity wrapped itself around the blade, climbing up and stopping at the hilt.
“Hunter, what are you doing?” Sophie cried.
“Seeing if I can dissipate the energy,” Hunter said, pulling his blade back, “It’s like it’s coming out of her.”
Overhead, Vijeda’s cannons buzzed as they were powering up. Their gears squealed as the turret turned to take aim at them. The tips of the barrels began to glow and Sophie grabbed Hunter’s hand.
“Get down,” Carl said, and stood over them, shielding them with the exoskeleton.
A banging noise could be heard in the sky and they winced, bracing for a shot that never came. Vijeda’s ship shook and its cannons fired wide. The Starcrossed looped from above the ship and swung underneath, shooting out the cannons. Vijeda’s ship turned and sped off toward the warships hanging in the sky. The Joneses landed and ran out to see Cheryl. Yalda fled on foot and Past Ray, Abby and Cletus followed.
“Hang on,” Wolf said trotting over. “Our suits will ground us.”
Wolf and Luna lifted Cheryl with an arm around each neck, her toes dragging on the ground.
“Not grounded enough,” Luna winced.
They drug her to the Starcrossed and took her aboard, laying her down on the couch in the lounge. Sophie burst in behind them and Hunter followed.
“Is she going to be alright?” Sophie wrung her hands.
“We’re going to have Holly take a look at her, Sophie,” Luna said.
“Is she going to be alright?” she said louder.
“I don’t know,” Luna put her hands on Sophie’s arms. “Holly will be able to tell us more when she examines her.”
“She’s got a pulse,” Wolf said, pinching Cheryl’s wrist. “No idea how.”
“Wolf,” Luna scolded.
Holly entered the room with a metal case. She flipped it open to reveal an array of strange devices. She pulled one out and held it to Cheryl’s head.
“What’s she doing?” Sophie moved toward Cheryl.
“Sophie,” Luna pulled her back, “Please, let Holly work. You need to concentrate on Yalda. Take your team and catch up with Cletus, Abby, and the Rays.”
Sophie couldn’t look away from Cheryl. Luna put her hand on Sophie’s chin and turned her head towards her own and looked her in the eyes.
“You’re not doing anything standing here fretting,” Luna said. “She’s in good hands with Holly.”
Sophie blinked for what seemed like the first time since seeing her sister fall. She shook her head and swallowed hard.
“Okay?” Luna said.
She shook her head again. “Yeah.”
Luna glanced at Hunter and gestured for him to help. He stepped toward Sophie, took her hand and began leading her out.
“C’mon,” Hunter said, “Holly knows her shit.”
Sophie looked at Hunter, then threw her arms around his neck.
“I can’t lose her,” she cried. “I don’t want to lose her.”
“I know. None of us do. But space lady is right. We’re as useless as tits on a bull standing here. We need to concentrate on the twisted bastard that did this.”
Sophie stepped back and looked at Hunter with hard eyes. Her breathing became deep and slow.
“I’m going to kill him,” she whispered and repeated it in escalating volume.
“There ya go,” Wolf said. “Pissed off is much more useful than despair right now.”
“So,” Hunter held out his hand, “Ready to perform a summary execution on a millennia old space criminal?”
Sophie took his hand. “That sounds like just what I need, right now.”
“Holly, pack up whatever you need for Cheryl, we’re dropping you off at creepy old Uncle Bart’s until we get back,” Wolf said. “Your mother and I have to get back to saving the Earth.”
“I don’t know if it’s okay to move her yet,” Holly protested.
“Well you’ve got from here to the weird, fat dude on the couch to figure it out,” Wolf disappeared into the flight cabin.
“Holly, it will be worse if she stays on the ship,” Luna said. “It won’t be a smooth ride.”
Holly made a deep sigh and nodded, looking at Cheryl, unconscious. She couldn’t tell if she was still breathing, let alone able to arrive at Bart’s alive.