The Climbers

The God Smiter

Jarhead tightens the last bolt holding the Tesla sphere in place. Behind him Rox attaches the final leads while the rest of the gang keeps watch.

Violet props herself up in her gurney as she pours over some Golden Age document on her tablet. Her fingers manipulate the touch screen like cold sausages. She tries to shake the cobwebs from her head from Jarhead’s drugs. Distantly she notices a metallic banging.

Shazah looks over to Jarhead, his massive sword gun pointed at door.

Jarhead frowns and calls out, “Who is it?”

A woman’s voice barks, “I want to talk to Violet.”

“Not much of a name,” he says.

“It’s Fire! Let me in,” she says after a long pause.

Jarhead glances at Violet. She nods. The tinkerer says, “cool beans. Let her in. Be careful though.”

The powerful warrior unlatches the door. An armored teenager girl pushes past him toward Violet.

“What are you doing lying around here for?” she accuses the survivalist. “I figured you at least would have something to do around here?”

“There’s plenty to do, but we have time to do it,” Violet says calmly.

“What do you think about this mess here?” Fire says loudly.

“What Gator

“Yes, Gator! A.T. thinks Gator is a good guy but I know you at least wanted some sort of real change after White.”

Violet sighs. “Gator…he’s made up his mind. It seems like the people here seem to agree with him. The best way to make democracy work is to use people who are behind it. If we don’t, it won’t be long before somebody else, possibly worse, takes his place. My plan is to let them be. We are going to find somewhere else and make it work there.”

Fire eyes the weary woman before her. After a long moment she crashes down into the chair beside her. “Damn it,” she mutters. “The Militia is falling apart. Most of them seem to want to give up on restoring democracy.”

“It’s not too late,” Violet says, struggling through the haze in her head. “We just have to find the right way.”

“But we need people,” Fire says staring her in the eyes. “With A.T. running things the Militia is useless. Maybe if you talk to them, you can get their spirits back up. Then we could all work on this new place.”

Violet nods. “It won’t be easy but if we put our hearts into it I think we can. I’ll talk to them.”

The young woman leans back and stretches. “Alright. It’s just been frustrating. We put so much effort into this just to see it all fall apart.”

“It’s hard,” Violet says, studying her potential ally.

Jarhead comes up beside her.

Fire looks up. “So you’re some sort of wondermaker aren’t you?”

“Me? Well I’m not going to toot my own horn but yes,” he says smiling.

“I heard you have ways of seeing things,” Fire says with surprising gentleness.

“Yes. I see things. I see you right now,” he jokes. “Come on lady spit it out.”

“I mean you can find things in the Maelstrom,’ she says.

“I can sometimes. The Maelstrom is not easy to deal with. Why? What do you want?”

She looks away. “There’s somebody I’ve been looking for.”

“Who are you looking for?”

“A man,” she says turning back towards him, her eyes low. “His name is Adam.”

“Is he dead?” Jarhead asks. “Alive? Undead?”

“I don’t know. I want to find out.” Finally she looks him in the eye. “He failed me.”

“I can take a look but it will cost. Anything worthwhile in this world costs something.”

“How much?”

“I can do it for one barter but I can’t do it now. It will take a day or two.”

“I’ve been waiting a while,” she says getting up.

“Alright hommy?”

She looks at him oddly and leaves.


Gator shifts in his cracked leather chair. Around the round table, his key advisers and warriors share space with the latest crop of petitioners looking for something from the new government.

Currently an odorous pair of women occupied those chairs.

Joe’s Girl scratches her balding head. “Joe’s feeling really sick right now,” she explains.

Jessica pipes up. “He’s all really hot to the touch.”

“Have you checked his eyes?” he asks.

Jessica rubs her arms and glances at Joe’s Girl.

“He’s been looking off into space,” Joe’s Girl says. ”He’s really sick.”

“Has he gone to any healers?” the new leader asks.

“Well we don’t really have anyone,” she says. “People have been saying that the creepy guy you’ve got down in the old workshop can patch people. But we haven’t gone down there.”

“That would be Jarhead he explains as she claws at her mangy hair. “He could provide such services, you’d just have to make a deal with him.”

“We don’t really have anything. There hasn’t been time to do any scavenging yet. We don’t have anything to trade.”

“If you make a deal and honor that deal, I’m sure he’ll work something out with you.”

The pair nod to him. “Okay we’ll go talk to him.”

“Tell him I sent you and to treat you fairly,” he tells them as they rise. “He’s pretty good at that.”

Gator sips a glass of water as he waits for the next batch. Suddenly heavy gunfire rattles the room as the main guns rumble to life.

“Secure the deck!” he shouts to his advisers as he heads for his sniper’s perch.


November and Tern work on the motorcycle. November looks east. The dancer shields her eyes from the blazing sun overhead. The Big Ship looms in the distance, towering over the shoreline ruins.

Tern tightens another nut. “It will be good to get back on the road. I can’t stand being in one place this long.”

November nods and asks her about her travels. Moments stretch out they quietly exchange stories. Slowly Tern falls under her spell.

November stops mid sentence. Only the sound of rolling waves fills the air. That and the scattered footfalls of a couple dozen people moving through ruins around them.

Her sharps eyes spot one, a blank faced woman, as she runs past. The runner moves without fear or hesitation, cuts covering her legs where her clothes have worn away.

“Climbers,” she whispers. “It is an attack.”

As Tern looks around, November says, “stick with me, we need to get to cover before Gator’s men start shooting. Jonker should be a block over in that ruined hardware store.”

The roar of machine gun fills their ears.


Gator scans the bay from his perch. As he loads a round into his sniper rifle, he notes the scores of people slogging through the waist deep water.

The machine gun fire churns the bay, slicing down the blindly racing figures. The survivors don’t react to the carnage. Searching the crowd with his scope, he picks out women and children among the climber swarm. He scans the ruins for reinforcements finding only empty shells. He focuses on a small knot of former warriors in the crowd.

He grabs a voice tube, “focus fire on unarmored! They are all infected, we need to wipe them out.”

Taking aim he begins to fire on the main threat as his men mop the floor with the softer targets. The churning water obscures his quarry, but his gun’s mighty blasts knock some sense into them. The fighters scatter, trading progress for survival.


Jarhead looks up as the blasts of the guns thrum through the hull. “Good to know the guns work. I betcha he wish we upgraded them.”

“What’s going on?” Violet says from her gurney.

Shazah see what is happening,” the tinkerer orders.

The muscular warrior hurries out.


A few stray rounds fly overhead as Tern weaves her motorcycle through the ruins. She pulls up short as a whistling noise shrieks past them. A white blur strikes the building where Jonkers was working, exploding in a spray of rebar and concrete.

Smoke and fire rises from the structure as November and Tern picks themselves off the broken asphalt. The dancer rubs the spot where a chunk the size of a child’s head bounced off her breastplate.


The guardians of the Big Ship carve the attackers into smaller and smaller knots. The machine guns wind down as the defenders must fire straight down at the encroaching swarm.

As the climbers pull themselves up the rusted hull of the ship, Gator looks out past the battle into the new wetlands of Miami. His eyes caught subtle hints among the attackers: a syringe sticking from a neck, icons fashioned from old plastic cups around another. These people came from 711. White infected them and sent them against the Autodoc.

Then he looks beyond. Step pyramids rise from a jungle that appears beyond these people. He pushes past the ornate stones and blood soaked stairs. Past the illusion. He sees the gods for what they truly are: withered old men and woman, their minds trapped in the maelstrom so long that they’ve turned to goo. Minds filled with hate, feeding on each other until nothing is left but sickening mush. A mush that hates and hungers.


November scrambles to her feet. The building shudders as the fire licks at it. “ Tern, head for the back! I’ll catch up to you!”

As her second in command tears off, November turns, pulling her shotgun. She blasts the rotten wood of a nearby telephone pole. The thirty foot beam crashes down, smashing a hole in the burning structure.

Racing across the beam, she jumps through the flames and into the smoke filled interior. Jonker coughs and pulls himself off the floor.

“We’ve got to get out of here!” she shouts. “There’s a weak point in the wall. We’ve got to go through it.”

As flaming debris drops down, the crazy haired man protests. “It’s going to wreck the front end. I just fixed this thing.”

The flames begin to spread through the building. “It’s going to be metal slag if we wait!”

“We are going to fix this thing before we leave Miami he says adjusting his goggles as he gets into the armored car. “I’m not leaving my ride.”

“Of course,” she says sliding into shotgun.

Jonker punches it. The car crashes through the wall with the sound of flexing metal and popping headlights. The windshield becomes a mosaic of star patterns but November makes out blue sky as they race from the inferno, over the grill and into the streets.


Shazah races back into the workshop. He slams the door close and bolts it shut. “We’ve got crazy people climbing up the side of the ship!” the tattooed warrior shouts.

“That’s not good,” Jarhead mutters. “I wish he’d let me upgrade those guns.”

The tinker heads for the door. “As much fun as it would be to just stick here, it’s going to a whole lot harder to get supplies if everyone is dead outside. We’ve got to go out there.”

“I’ll go with you,” Violet says pulling herself from her gurney.

“Let’s go!” Jarhead shouts to the others.

“Hell no!” Shazah says. “I’m not going out there. I’m not getting covered in spores.”

The other warriors looks to each other and nod.

“Yeah boss that’s a bad place out there,” says one with a chromed football helmet.

Jarhead’s shoulder sag. “What? Some gang you are.”

“We should seal the air vents too,” Shazah says. “Just in case.”

“That’s not actually a bad idea,” Jarhead says. Then Rox lights the welding torch. “No, not permanently!”

The crowd ignore him and immediately go to work on sealing the place up.

Violet shrugs and grabs her gun. “Let’s go.”

Jarhead tosses her a homemade gas mask. “It’s dangerous to go out alone, take this.”

He turns to the gang as they reach the door. “You guys! I don’t like you as much anymore. Waters, Memo. Don’t let anyone touch anything they shouldn’t touch.”

The kids glance at each other. “Alright.”

“If they make trouble use the detonator.”

Water tries not to search around. “Okay.”

The tinkerer points to the big red button on the metal endoskeleton. Everyone’s eyes go wide. He closes the door behind him with a solid clang.


Gator snaps out of his reverie. As the waters of the bay calm, he sights the armored climbers, picking them off in a rapid succession of shots. 30 seconds later only corpses fill the bay. Somewhere down below a lone survivor bangs on the rusted hull.

He glances to the deck. Three climbers limp aboard. Fifty or sixty men surround them. The hail of gunfire is deafening and swift.

Something gnaws at him. Some clue he should have picked up on. Like an itch he can’t scratch. Then he spots him. Joe.

“There’s one more armored guy at the bottom,” he shouts down. “Keep him off! I’m going after Joe.”

He jumps on a zip line and sails over the market to the far end of the deck. As he slides faster and faster he spots Jarhead and Violet coming up. Around the corner from them Joe and his girls move in with weapons drawn.

He lands in a crouch between the two groups.

Violet’s eyes dart behind him where long shadows emerge from beyond the corner. The large one lines up with the rifle butt clearing the edge. She ducks down as a blank faced man rounds it, rifle at the ready. A mangy woman with a pistol flanks him followed by an even more ragged one with a knife.

Gator doesn’t hesitate. His MP5 tears through all three as he steps between them and their quarry.

Their shots ring off his armor, shots meant for the bewildered inventor. Gator checks their bleeding corpses and glances over to his men as they clean up.

“Hey is that one moving?” Wire shouts from the edge of the Big Ship.

“Let me see,” Morgana says looking down her rifle barrel. A single shot rings out.

“How about that one there? He looks like he’s sloshing around,” Wire says moments before another shot is heard.

“I guess we weren’t needed after all,” Violet remarks.

”My work here is done,” Jarhead says heading back down below.

“Not done yet,” Gator says stopping him. “The gods are sending everything they’ve got at us. I hope you’re ready.”

“I need a certain person’s assistance,” he hints.

“I guess the cat’s out of the bag anyway,” Gator says surveying the damage. “I’ll get her. You stay in your workshop and hole up.”

“Aye-aye,” he replies with a mock salute.

Gator looks at Violet. “Can you keep an eye on him? It’s important.”

“Fine by me,” she says.

The pair turn and head for the stairs. Before they get far however a familiar voice shouts out to them.

“Hey Violet!” Boo says rushing up to them along with several other members of the Republicans. “We’ve been looking for you, trying to catch up.” He catches his breath. “You look a lot better.”

“Better than I was,” she says.

“So what’s the plan?” the older man says searching her face. “Things don’t seem to have worked out like we hoped.”

“Seems that way,” she says. “Short term make sure nothing happens to Jarhead. Long term I’ll fill you in when we get where we are going.”

As she moves to leave, he says, “well it would be nice to know what the plan is now.”

“Alright, the short version is that we are going to found new holding and make this work there. But you heard the gun shots upstairs.”

He scratches his chin. “Yeah a lot of climber problems here.”

“They’ve held them off for now but the climbers will keep coming until Jarhead’s work is done. We need someone to aim it into the Maelstrom. It should end that threat.”

A murmur moves through the men and women around her.

“How can we help?” Boo asks.

“At this point we need to make sure Jarhead’s work isn’t compromised. We need people to shore up defenses too. Half of you stay up top and the rest follow me.”

AOL leads the men upstairs while Starbuck trails behind Boo and his son as they follow Violet to the workshop.

“We’ve got to make sure nothing happens to this device,” she says as they move through the dimly lit corridors.

“Sounds important,” he says scratching at his arm.

”Where did Lily get off to?” Starbucks asks. “Wasn’t she with you.”

“She left,” she says.

“She left?” he says.


Gator surveys the clean up. Crudehammer looks over the side and drops a single grenade. A boom and blood filled spray later, he gives his boss a thumbs up.

“Burn everything,” Gator orders as a pair of men equipped with flamethrowers arrive. He then directs his staff to conscript every able bodied man they can, especially those who have been causing trouble lately.

Then he turns to Morgana. “I’ve got a job for you. November should be on shore. Go and retrieve her. Be quick, it’s important. I’ll be in the workshop below.”

She nods and immediately heads out.


A speed boat slices through the water towards the beach, reaching it a few moments before Jonker’s car pulls to a halt.

Morgana hops off as November steps out of the vehicle.

“The boss wants to talk to you,” she says. Behind her, Wire carefully clambers off the boat, a heavy tank sloshing on his back.

“Did he say what about?” November asks.

“I imagine it has to do with the climber attack.”

“Yeah saw that.”

“He said to take you to Jarhead Then she turns to Wire and another soldier. “You two clean the beach.”

Wire ignites his flame thrower and begins to torch the corpses floating onto shore. Then November, Morgana, and the others speed back to the holding.


Jarhead pushes on the workshop door. It doesn’t budge. “Open up!” he shouts pounding on it.

“Who’s there?” a muffled voice says.

“Me? It’s my workshop.”

“I think it’s Jarhead,” a voice says.

“Jarhead?” says someone else. “How can we be sure? He could have the climbers.”

Violet steps up as the murmur of voices grows in volume. “I can verify for all of you that he does not have the climbers nor do the rest of us!”

The door clangs open. Jarhead stomps inside. His protectors keep their distance as he checks his tools and gear. He glares at everyone as they hold their breath in the stale air. Cautiously Shazah locks the door behind them.

The techno-savages eye Violet’s Republicans. They look back unsteadily.

Someone bangs on the door.

“Open up!” Gator shouts from outside.

“Who locked the door again?” Jarhead says testily. “Open it up.”

Shazah looks over his sword gun still pointed at this entrance. “What about the climbers?”

“They’re dead.”

“Okay but give me a mask," the barbarian demands.

Jarhead throws over his and the warrior opens up the door.

Gator strides in flanked by one of his men. “Is there anything else we need?”

“Hold on one second,” Jarhead says as he turns to his guards. "If you guys are not going to listen to me, you can just get the fuck out. I’ll give you masks.”

Rox steps closer to him, her hands raised up slightly. “No, it’s just we are really keyed up. The climbers are really scary things and we just want to make sure you’re safe.”

His shoulders relax slightly. "Instead of saying ‘no we are not going to do it’, try saying let’s do it this way so it’s safer. Like ‘here Jarhead remember to take your armor’.”

Rox nods and then steps a little closer. “Okay. Jarhead why are Violet’s followers all so scratchy?”

The lights go out.

Gator quickly dons his night vision goggles as everyone else stumbles around in the pitch blackness.

Violet thinks back on who seemed itchy. Around her everyone voices their surprise and concern. “Jarhead, How many car batteries do you have?”

“Uh two or three,” he says feeling for a flashlight.

“You know that thing Memo rigged? We need three of them now. ASAP. Gator, do you have another room that’s not ventilated?”

Gator finishes scanning the room. A couple of the Republicans scratch their arms but no one looks ready to cause trouble right now. His mind goes the gap, a chasm in the ship that leads to the reactor. They probably cut the lines there.

The gap rips through several decks of the ship. The only ways down are a crumbling staircase down or rappelling straight down. Unless one wanted to spend an hour snaking through blackened corridors._ The most direct route_, he decides.

Boo, Garber. Out of here,” he barks.

“What’s going on?” Boo says.

“I think you know what’s going on.”

“Listen to him,” Violet says. “You are showing signs. We don’t want to take any risks.”

Gator turns to his man. “ Gremlin, we need to get these guys locked up.and quarantined. Sorry Boo and Garber you guys are infected.”

Garber stammers, “maybe we are infected but you don’t need to lock us up someplace.”

“Yeah we do. Either that or there is one other option.”

Cowed Boo and his son let Gremlin leads them outside to another room and seals them in.


The speed boat shoots across bay, skidding to a halt in the jury rigged harbor at the base of the Big Ship. Morgana helps them out and leads them to the elevator.

Then the electric lights go out.

”What the hell?” Morgana says looking up the shaft at the distant square of light.

“Did you guys just lose all power?” November asks.

“Yeah. Jack! Jill!” she shouts, rousing a pair of muscular twins. “You are on manual.”

Tern and November quickly grab a pair of large handheld flashlights from the boat and jump on the lift as the twins slowly pull it up.

“Where’s your main power?” November asks, checking that the lights work.

“The reactor? It’s down below by the south end.”

“Let’s go.”

Five feet below them, Jonker calls out. “I’ll stay here.”


Jarhead connects a pair of wires and a string of christmas lights illuminate the workshop.

Gator peels off his goggles. “We’ve got a couple options. I could go to the reactor or Violet you could go.”

“I’ll go,” she says, shaking off the last of Jarhead’s drugs.

“Gremlin knows the layout a little bit so take him with you,” he adds.

”What should I do?” Starbucks asks, looking around the room. “Should I stay here or come with you?”

”Come with me,” she says leading the pair of men off toward the far end of the ship.


Morgana leads the others across the deck of the ship. Around them, confused citizens of the Big Ship complain about the loss of power.

“Tell me the lay of the land,” November says.

“There’s a gap, a chasm that cuts through the bowels of the ship,” Morgana says grabbing a few men to follow them. “You can drop straight down to the reactor level. Next to the gap and hanging into it in places is a metal staircase. Those are the fastest ways down. Otherwise you need to take the back way through miles of pitch black tunnels.”

“Sounds like a good ambush spot,” the dancer says.

“I had thought of that.” Morgana grabs another armored figure to join their growing force.

“Who do you have who is a good shot?”

Morgana points to pair of tall men following them as they near the end of the market. “Pin and Tail are both good shots. And myself.”

As they head down some stairs into the ship, November doffs her coat and strips to her chain mail bikini. “So here’s the plan. You guys watch the top and keep them pinned down. They are not fighters, so they shouldn’t be armored or well equipped. I’ll lead the rest of the men down the stairs to take them out.”

Violet leads Gremlin and Starbuck out of the darkness.

“Any of you guys good snipers?” November asks as they approach.

“I can do very well in a pinch,” Violet says.

November explains, “OK, some of us are drawing fire up here while the rest of us make our way down the staircase.”

Violet interrupts. “By the way, weren’t you supposed to find Gator

“Yes but he needs power right?”

“As much as I hate to say this, they need you alive. Go, we’ll take care of this,” Violet orders.

November backs away and puts up her hand. “Alright, I just cased out the whole place,” she says sourly.

“We appreciate it.”

“You are going to fuck this whole thing up!” she says and walks away.

Morgana turns to Violet. “We’ve got this covered up here, you and the others sneak down the stairs.”

“Got it.”

Violet hurries down the metal stairs trailed by Gremlin and a few other soldiers. Gunshots echo in from the gap, as Morgana’s sharpshooters pin down the infected.

As she rounds the last loop, she can see the shadows of the climbers moving along the bottom of the gap. Then a figure peels from the shadows beneath the stairs, gun raised.

Lily.

Violet moves before her former friend can pull the trigger, knocking the gun into the wall beside them and then delivering a quick crack to the side of her head. Lily falls flat on the floor.


Gator paces within Jarhead’s workshop. The air grows thicker as they consume what little fresh air remains.

Something shuffles outside the door. Then the banging begins.

“No business except on party business!” Jarhead shouts as fists slam again and again against the steel door.


November and Tern move quickly and quietly through the darkened corridors, back toward Jarhead’s workshop.

Several different growls come from up ahead.

November keeps her flashlight down low. “Tern, any idea of what that might be?”

“Sounds like dogs,” she says readying her gun. “There were some dogs on the ship.”

November shines the light forward. A half dozen feral green eyes reflect in the darkness.

Her first blast tears through the lead hound as it leaps forward. Tern unloads next to her, automatic fire ripping through most of them.

As the echoes of gunshots die down, all that can be heard is a solitary dog, limping away into a corner. November kicks aside the leader and tries to wipe its blood from her skin. She and Tern continue forward, following the trail of blood. By the time they get there Exit, Lily’s dog, is already dead, its blood growing sticky.

They continue on.


“We do need to get November in here,” Gator says shouting over the banging.

“We could open up one of the side vents,” Jarhead suggests, grabbing an acetylene torch.

”But I’ve done that before,” Gator says,”they might anticipate that.”

”How did that turn out for you?” Jarhead asks.

”Not very well.”

”Well then they probably won’t think you’re dumb enough to try it again.”

”That’s a good point. Let’s try it.”

Jarhead begins cutting. The air fouls but after a few minutes fresh air moves into the chamber.

Gator climbs in. “Seal this up after I’ve gone.”

“No! No!” Jarhead says stepping between his gang and the vent. “We’re going to leave this open so we have some fresh air.”

Gator hoists himself up. “Well I wouldn’t call this air fresh, make sure you wear a mask.”

The ex-mercenary looks back down. “When I get to the door, I’ll give this knock.” He raps against the metal duct. Then he shimmies around and disappears.


Violet steps out into the open space beneath the gap. A pair of men lie bleeding out on the rough ground. She swivels her rifle to fire on one of the three left standing.

She blasts him before he realizes she is there. As the others turn their attention from above, she fires again, dropping a second. Gremlin backs her up downing the third. Quickly they check the casualties. Two dead and one crippled. Violet kicks away his weapon and ties his hands.

“There it is,” Gremlin shouts, pointing to a sparking bundle of wires. “I need some sort of insulator and then I can get these lines together.”

Violet scans the wreckage. She spots some tire scraps among the debris. She tosses the insulator to Gremlin who goes to work on reconnecting the mains.


November and Tern slowly creep up the hallway. A dozen men and women block their path to the workshop, pounding their fists bloody trying to get in.

As she considers her options, she notices a rustling in the vents.The sound of a heavy but very quiet man grows closer, making its way from the workshop and down the hall.

November motions Tern to follow her and they back track to a side room where the ducts open. As they wait, November borrows and dons some extra clothing.

Gator pulls himself the last few inches and looks down into the side room, spotting November and her friend.

“Hey. This way,” he whispers. He slides the grate out of the way and slips down without a sound.

November nods to him. “The people in the hall, they are just people, I can distract them while you two take them out. There are about twelve of them now but there may be more if we wait. You know your situation, what’s best?”

“We’re just waiting for power,” he explains. “ Violet’s working on that.”

Fastening on a jacket, she says, “I figure that the best plan would be to keep the entrance clear until the power comes on.”

Suddenly the lights turn on one by one.

“Never mind. Let’s go this way,” Gator says, grabbing the edges of the vent.

“Shall I go first?” November asks.

“Sure.” He begins to drop down when he says, “Actually when you get near there, you just knock this on the grate. Don’t stick your head out.”

“Okay, just let me know when we are getting close, you know the lay of the land here.”

He pulls himself up. “You know what I’ll lead the way.”


Jarhead watches as his crew begin to relax a little. Even as the climbers bang uselessly against the door, his gang lower their weapons and relax their guard.

Someone gives a distinctive knock in the air ducts.

Shazah bolts upright. “He could be infected! They are still out by the door.”

“No I’m not,” Gator says. “I’m coming through.”

”Just wait,” Jarhead says moving to the duct. “What’s the password?”

“I just gave the password,” the ex-mercenary says through his teeth.

“Sh-should we just shoot him?” Shazah stammer aiming his sword gun at the vent.

”If you shoot me I will be really angry.”

Jarhead shakes his head. “Let’s not shoot him. Come on through.”

Gator slides down into the room. “I’ve got November. Let’s get this thing done.”

Jarhead nods. “Yes, let’s do this before anymore shit happens.”

The pounding gets louder as November slips down.

“I thought you took car of the problem,” Jarhead says to Gator.

“If we take care of this,” Gator says pointing to the device, “it takes care of all of the problems.”

“Okay,’ he sighs, turning to his gang, “Make sure we are not disturbed at all.”

As most of the crowd focus on the door, Jarhead directs November and Gator to their places. Shazah keeps an eye on Gator as the muscular man squeezes into the device’s main seat. He grips the trigger and watches as Jarhead puts a metal colander on November’s head. The dancer tries to remain still as he screws the electrodes into place.

“We don’t want to dig into the skull but we do want contact,” he explains. Finished he points her to the repurposed dentist’s chair rigged up to the God Smiter.

Jarhead powers up the device. A soft blue glow appears over the Tesla sphere filled with red triangles and odder icons. Gator takes careful aim, the machine guided by November’s mind. He pulls the trigger.

A piercing whine resounds inside everyone’s head. Blood leaks from Jarhead nose as November whimpers. Farther way Memo and Rox scream while Shazah bites down on the blade of his sword.

Then a wash of raw maelstrom energy flows from the display and collides with the inhabitants of the room.

November opens her eyes, the screams breaking through her unconsciousness. Jarhead curls in the corner of the room, quietly rocking back and forth. His crew, those not drolling on the floor, busy themselves welding the doors and vents shut, a mad gleam in their eyes.

Gator scans the display as lines of static crisscross it. The banging at the doors at least stopped.

”Hit them again,” November mumbles.

The blue fog clears. A single red triangle appears. “There’s one more.”

Gator squints at the target. “November stay very still. It’s inside you.”

He fires again.

The blue mist washes over the room again as the final god explodes into a mess of memories and rage within November’s mind. Overwhelmed she faints.


In the days to come, most people resumed their normal lives. A med team came down from the Autodoc and treated the infected. With the gods gone, the disease seemed to spread slower.

Violet helped Gator with the clean up, patching up the wounded and avoiding Starbuck. The woman he loved was dead by her hands.

Jarhead meanwhile dealt with the real wreckage. Five souls, five people who worked for him, had lost their minds to the maelstrom. Shazah and Rox seemed different but he guessed they now fit in better with Memo and Waters. They seemed fine, he thinks, damaged. Like me. But fine.

November found herself relieved. Tern seemed distant but the rest of her gang remained intact. Only Shadow was shaken by the loss of the gods.

“You were suppose to save us,” he said sorrowfully before focusing on saving his people.

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