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Party Cat

The Principalities - Episode 2.4 - Bullets

Posted on 2009.05.06 at 14:28
Current Mood:: cheerfulcheerful
Episode 2.4 – Bullets
(see the preface for information)

Powergrando looked hard at the bar. With a little concentration it swam into vision and he focused in on the large flightless bird native to Africa (and formerly the middle east) that was standing behind the bar. Part of his brain informed him that large flightless birds native to Africa (and formerly the middle east) should not be stood behind a bar and he promptly ignored it.
“Barkeep!” he called. “More beers please!”
“Coming up sir.” said the large flightless bird native to Africa (and formerly the middle east). “And could you please stop referring to me as the large flightless bird native to Africa (and formerly the middle east), it’s a bit annoying. The animal to which you refer is better known as an ostrich.”
“You’re an ostrich!” Powergrando responded.
“No.” said the ostrich who wasn’t an ostrich. “I just happen to look like an ostrich. It’s my ostrichlike features. People mistake me for an ostrich more often than you’d think.” There was a long pause.
“Siegfried!” Powergrando yelled.
“What?” asked Siegfried, who was sat next to him.
“The bartender is an ostrich.” said Powergrando giddily.
“Don’t mind him.” said Siegfried. “He’s had a bit of a tough day. He’s aged about five years in one day and well…” Siegfried paused thoughtfully. “I suppose that’s it really. It seemed tougher at the time.” He continued with a shrug.
“Don’t worry.” said Ostrichface, the ostrichfaced barman. “He’ll be famous one day. A brilliant inventor and rock-hard punk sorcerer who everyone will have heard of.”
“Crikey you’re good aren’t you?” asked Siegfried. “I’ve never heard anyone read someone’s fortune so accurately and so succinctly.” Siegfried leaned in toward the ostrichfaced barman and whispered: “what’s your secret?”
“He told me while you were in the bathroom.” said Ostrichface.
“Oh right.” said Siegfried. “Is it shanghaiing time yet?”
“Shanghaiing time?” asked Ostrichface innocently.
“You know when those seven from that spa come and kidnap people and take them back to the spa?” Ostrichface’s ostrichlike lip twitched and he reached below the bar.
“Don’t worry about it.” Siegfried continued. “A man’s got to make a living.” Ostrichface relaxed.
“Yeah.” he agreed. “Especially when nobody will drink here for fear of being shanghaied. It really hits the profit margins.”
“I can imagine.” said Siegfried. “So is it shanghaiing time yet? Only some of us have got destinies to go to.”
“It’s thereabouts.” said Ostrichface.
“Would you mind giving me a quick bop on the head with your behind the bar baseball bat?” asked Siegfried. “They won’t take anyone who is still awake and sober.”
“No worries.” said Ostrichface pulling out the baseball bat. “I’ll just tell them you’ve both been drinking all night but you were drinking that odourless beer that gives you a lump on your head.”
“You’re a saint.” said Siegfried. “Hit me as hard as you like. It won’t matter, come tomorrow.” And Ostrichface did.

Powergrando awoke uncomfortably with a throbbing headache. He groaned and attempted to take in his blurry surroundings. “I’m not on another accordion salesmen’s ship am I?”
“No.” an unfamiliar voice in front of him responded meekly. “It’s better than that.” she paused. “Well maybe not better but certainly comparable.” Powergrando pushed himself up and discovered that he’d been lying on a massage table. He looked around the room. It was very white with white walls, white tables and counters, white chairs and white women in skimpy white clothing. Every counter was full of bottles of herbal products in brightly coloured bottles. He espied hairdryers and hair straighteners and Siegfried with ribbons in his hair and some kind of electroshock pads that looked more kinky than therapeutic.
“What’s going on?” asked Powergrando. “Why would you build a health spa on a ship?”
“We’re not on a ship.” said the woman who had spoken previously.
“Then why does the ground keep going up and down.” asked Powergrando.
“I think you may have had a little too much to drink last night.” said the woman politely. “You just lie down and I’ll have the girls sort you out.” she continued. Powergrando reluctantly did so. “My name is Jennifer and my colleagues are Moderation, Generosity, Charity, Zeal, Humility and Chastity. This is the Seven Virtues Health spa.” As Jennifer introduced Powergrando to the Seven Virtues they started milling around him, massaging his back, washing and cutting his hair, trimming his nails. “We have as you have already noted large supplies of herbal products, some hairdryers and hair straighteners and kinky electrotherapy pads. The old man with the ribbons in his hair isn’t one of our facilities.” Siegfried waved towards Powergrando as he was mentioned. “We also have a multitude of other facilities include a solarium, a Jacuzzi, a sauna, steam room, swimming pool and mud baths. For as little as one hundred pounds a month you can enjoy the benefits of all of our facilities as often as you please.”
“Wait.” said Powergrando sitting back up on the massage table. “This is all a sales pitch to get me to join your spa? I’ve never been more insulted in all my life! Now if someone would like to give me my clothes back I will be leaving.” Jennifer grabbed his clothes from behind her and threw them in his face.
“Get out of my spa.” she said. “And never come back.”
“Don’t worry.” said Powergrando as he pulled on his pants. “I wouldn’t come back in here if it was the last spa on the planet.” He turned and walked towards the large glass doors of the spa. Siegfried ran after him, pausing momentarily to turn and wave to the Seven Virtues.
“I on the other hand had a lovely morning.” he said. “Thanks very much ladies.” Powergrando pushed open the large glass doors and stepped out onto the streets. Siegfried nimbly sidestepped through the door as it closed.
“Hey Powergrando.” said Siegfried. “I’ve got something important to tell you.”
“Oh what is it today?” asked Powergrando. “Yesterday I had to rescue a woman from the void outside of time and space. Maybe today I have been chosen by God to lead a revolution against the tyrannical Princesses of the Principalities?”
“If you have then I haven’t been informed about it.” chuckled Siegfried. “No, I wanted to tell you that once I had a choice. I could have become something great. I chose not to though, the risk was too great. But I wouldn’t pick that option if I had my time over again.” Siegfried paused. “And I wanted to say goodbye.”
“Goodbye?” asked Powergrando.
“Yep.” said Siegfried. “Good luck getting back on the Seven Virtues’ good sides.” Siegfried winked and collapsed to the ground. Powergrando looked up and saw a man in grey overalls was stood behind him holding a large blade. It was one of the Von Bullet clones. The blade was covered in blood, Siegfried’s blood. It was pouring out of his body now. The Von Bullet clone grinned at Powergrando and then lunged at him. Powergrando dodged out of the way and grabbed the clones arm smashing it against the window of the spa in one fluid movement.
“Why?!” yelled Powergrando smacking the clones hand against the window again. The clone dropped the knife in pain and Powergrando was quickly grabbing the clone’s head and forcing a knee into it’s stomach. “Why kill him? It’s me you wanted! Siegfried had nothing to do with this.” Powergrando forced the clone to the floor and planted a foot on it’s chest. “Answer me!” He yelled.
“You were both viable targets.” wailed the clone. “You both needed to be purged.”
“But I thought I was the last one left.” said Powergrando.
“You were.” said the clone. “You both were.”
“What?!” yelled Powergrando stamping hard on the clone’s chest. “Make sense dammit!”
“You’re the same person.” said the clone. “He was you.” Powergrando was momentarily stunned as he pieced it together. Siegfried’s sudden appearance, how he inserted himself into Powergrando’s life, the way he always seemed to know what was coming and what to do about it. “He’s here!” yelled the clone from the floor. Powergrando looked around the street to see clones stalking towards him. He reached down, grabbed the knife from the pavement and hauled the clone to his feet. He quickly had the knife to the clone’s neck.
“Don’t come any closer or I’ll kill this one.” yelled Powergrando to the approaching clones. They didn’t even pause in their advance.
“We don’t care if we lose a clone or two.” said the clone. “The purge ends today.” Powergrando panicked as he looked out at the unflinching clones. He quickly glanced towards the health spa and sighed. He pushed the door open with his back and pulled his hostage through.
“Hello and welcome to the Seven Virtues’ Health Spa. My name is Jennifer, how may I help you.” said Jennifer. Powergrando turned to face her and before he could even form a suitable explanation for the events of the last couple of minutes she interrupted. “You!” she screeched. “Didn’t you hear me the first time. You are banned from my health spa. If my health spa was a principality and I was the Princess and I were wearing a sexy coconut bra then you would be exiled. Exiled forever. With no hope of a pardon.” There was a further pause. “So… get out is what I’m trying to say.”
“I’m sorry but I have a bit of a situation at the moment.” said Powergrando. “If I had a choice I’d never set foot in this spa ever again but I don’t have any other options right now.”
“You aren’t exactly helping your case.” said Jennifer.
“I’m being hunted by a pack of psychopathic clones that won’t stop until I’m dead.” said Powergrando.
“Yeah right.” said Jennifer. “If I had a pound for every time someone tried that one I wouldn’t need to run a spa.”
“Look!” exclaimed Powergrando, gesturing towards the window with his captive. Outside the clones, their grey overalls caked in blood and mud, were advancing towards the spa. Jennifer looked thoughtful.
“I’ll even join your spa.” said Powergrando. “Just help me.” Jennifer’s eyes lit up.
“And you’ll pay for a membership for your friend here as well?” asked Jennifer.
“Yes!” pleaded Powergrando. “Anything.”
“Welcome to the Seven Virtues Health Spa Mr…?” Jennifer enquired.
“Just call me Powergrando.” he said. “Is there any chance of locking the door or something?”
“Coming right up Powergrando.” Jennifer reached under the desk and pressed the panic button. An alarm sounded through the spa and large iron shutters crashed down outside the windows. The other virtues filed in from various parts of the spa. “Is there anything else I can do for you?”
“Is there any way we could restrain this clone?” asked Powergrando.
“Chastity, this sounds like your department.” said Jennifer. “Everyone else arm yourself and take up defensive positions. We’re under attack by an army of clones. And this time it’s not just a drill.” From amidst the seven scantily clad ladies stepped forth the one referred to as Chastity. She was even more scantily clad than the rest. The other six virtues walked through the door behind the desk, the one that presumably lead to the office and emerged carrying heavy weaponry before heading through various other doors. Chastity produced a length of rope and nodded casually towards a nearby white plastic chair. Powergrando forced the clone into the chair and held him still while Chastity bound him tightly. As she pulled the knots on the rope tight she looked into Powergrando’s eyes and licked her lips suggestively. No sooner was the clone tied up than Powergrando collapsed onto one of the white plastic chairs himself.
“What’s up?” asked Chastity, sitting down next to him.
“They just killed me… my friend I mean.” said Powergrando. “It’s going to be hard to deal with.”
“You were close?” asked Chastity pulling her chair up next to Powergrando.
“Very close.” said Powergrando. “Closer than I thought.” Chastity nuzzled up to Powergrando and held his hand. They sat like this for a few minutes until the clone cleared its throat. Powergrando and Chastity looked up at it expectantly.
“I would like to speak to the one who identified herself as Jennifer.” said the clone hopefully.
“Why?” snapped Powergrando.
“It is none of your business, unpurged scum.” snapped the clone. Powergrando stood up, brushing Chastity away and leaned over the clone.
“You should be careful about what you say to me.” advised Powergrando. “You just killed a friend of mine.” he paused thoughtfully. “Plus you’ve already proved you’re useless as leverage. The rest of the clones wouldn’t care if I was to gut you where you sit.”
“You don’t have the guts.” said the clone. Powergrando snatched up a hot pair of hair straighteners and clamped them around one of the clones fingers. The clone screamed in pain.
“This should be fun.” said Powergrando releasing the clone’s finger. “I’ve never tortured anyone in a health spa before. I’m sure lots of the treatments have interesting crossovers.” Just then a door to what looked like a stairwell opened and Jennifer walked through. She was carrying an assault rifle and had a slightly bemused look on her face.
“We have incoming weirdness.” she said.
“Ahh, Jennifer.” said the clone satisfied. “I have a proposition for you from our leader. He says that if you open the doors and let us have Powergrando no harm will come to you or the rest of your staff.”
“You can tell your leader to stick his offer up his arse.” said Jennifer. “I will not give up a member of my spa to an army of unstable clones. It’s in the membership agreement.”
“I have a counter-offer.” said the clone. “If you open the doors and let us have Powergrando we will not only leave you and your staff unharmed we will also all join your spa.” Jennifer stopped still. Her eyes glazed over as she imagined the mountains of money. “That’s all ninety nine of us.” the clone clarified. Powergrando could see where this was going and he began trying to inconspicuously make his way into the office and grab himself a weapon.
“That’s a lot of money.” said Jennifer slowly.
“And if you refuse this offer when we eventually break into your health spa we will kill every single one of your staff.” said the clone. “This is not a hard decision.” Powergrando slipped into the office and grabbed the first weapon to hand, a pistol, satisfied that he’d managed the grab a weapon part of the plan even if he hadn’t satisfied the inconspicuously quotient. Jennifer exchanged glances with Chastity, who could be very expressive with her eyes.
“The answer is no.” said Jennifer. “Now where’s Powergrando gone? As I said we have incoming weirdness.”
“No?!” demanded the clone. “You cannot seriously be allying yourself with this piece of unpurged filth. You don’t even know him.”
“Chastity, would you mind shutting him up?” asked Jennifer. Powergrando emerged from the office, the pistol tucked into his belt in exactly the way you shouldn’t do at home.
“No.” said Powergrando. “He makes a good point. I’m a stranger. You don’t owe me anything and they’re offering good money. It shouldn’t even be a choice.”
“We have our reasons.” said Jennifer, shooting Chastity a covert glance. “Now would you like to know about this weirdness that’s incoming.” she paused. “It’s probably here by now.”
“Why?” asked Powergrando.
“Because the weirdness was on it’s way and we’ve been talking about offers and counter offers for so long it’s probably had enough time to reach us.” said Jennifer.
“No, that’s not what I mean.” said Powergrando. “Why pick me?” Jennifer sighed.
“Chastity rather wants to have sexual intercourse with you at some point in the near future and that’s made somewhat unpleasant when you’ve been killed by an army of angry clones.” she said patiently.
“Oh.” said Powergrando exchanging further glances with Chastity. “So what’s this weirdness that’s incoming?”
“It’s a clone riding on the back of a fox.” said Jennifer.
“That is weird.” conceded Powergrando. “That doesn’t sound like normal behaviour for these clones.” At that a pair of the virtues (Zeal and Moderation for those who are keeping score) came through a door at the back of the room holding a pair of clones at gunpoint.
“What’s going on?” asked Jennifer.
“Here’s the clone and the fox he was riding.” said Zeal, she continued immediately without even the hint of a pause. “No seriously here’s the clone and the fox he was riding.”
“What?” asked Powergrando. “Seriously.”
“I swear on the sacred solarium.” said Zeal. “This one…” she jammed her weapon hard against the clone’s head. “…transformed from a fox to a clone.”
“I propose we shoot all foxes in the immediate area, in case they turn into clones as well.” said Moderation.
“They won’t turn into foxes.” said the clone identified as the one who had transformed from a fox.
“Why not?” asked Jennifer. “If you can…”
“We’re not like the other clones.” said the fox-clone.
“Why?” asked Powergrando. “Why can you pair turn into foxes then?”
“It’s just him.” said the other clone. “I think turning into a fox is kind of lame.” The fox-clone gave him a pointed look. “Except when it saves our lives of course. Then it’s totally awesome.” Powergrando sighed and redirected his question.
“Why can you turn into a fox then?” he asked.
“Do I have to?” asked the fox-clone. “Only we have this whole future self thing going on and it’s bad luck to tell your past self information about his future.” Powergrando sighed.
“I don’t have the energy for this.” said Powergrando. “Kill them both. Two less clones to worry about.”
“No wait.” said the fox-clone. “We’re on your side. I’ll tell you about the whole turning into a fox thing.” Powergrando tapped his watch meaningfully. “I’m a werefox.” continued the fox-clone. “It’s like a being a werewolf but you’re a fox instead of a wolf. My fiancée was a werefox and she accidentally bit me one day in a particularly lustful moment. Now I can turn into a fox. Mystery solved.”
“Huh.” said Powergrando. “That wasn’t nearly as satisfying as I had imagined it would be.” he paused. “You’re really on our side?”
“You can’t believe them!” yelled the tied up clone from the other side of the room.
“Would someone shut him up?” asked Powergrando. Chastity obligingly produced a ball-gag and stuffed it into the clone’s mouth.
“Silence is golden.” she said with a grin.
“Okay.” said Powergrando thoughtfully. “You can let them go. They’re on our side.”
“Are you sure?” asked Jennifer. “This could be a clever ploy to infiltrate the spa.”
“You’ve seen the clones out there right?” asked Powergrando. “They’re not bright enough to pull of a ploy of average intelligence.”
“Good point.” said Jennifer. “Let them go.” Zeal and Moderation holstered their weapons and let the two clones go.
“Thanks.” said the non-fox clone rubbing the side of his head. “And can we stop this whole fox clone thing? I’m Clone 315. 315 for short. He’s also Clone 315 but we call him Alternate 315 so that we don’t get mixed up.” 315 paused. Alternate 315 waved to the assembled virtues and the tied up clone. “We’re from the future.”
“I guessed.” said Powergrando. “Presumably a future version of sent you back to help fight off these bastard clones… no offence.”
“Erm… none taken.” said 315. “But no, not precisely. I came back to rescue the future me and then we thought we’d come and help while we were in the area.” Charity burst through the door to the stairs, a panicked look on her face.
“The clones are all heading for the back door!” she exclaimed.
“Is that a problem?” asked Powergrando.
“Unfortunately yes.” said Jennifer. “The back door isn’t quite as secure as the front.” Powergrando looked at the impenetrable metal shutters that had snapped closed at the flick of a button and wondered if anything else could be as secure as the shop front.
“How secure are we talking?” asked Powergrando.
“We use a rock to stop it from blowing open in the breeze.” said Jennifer resignedly. She sighed. “How did they find out about our only weakness?”
“Excuse me.” said 315. “You appear to have a clone tied up.”
“Yeah.” said Powergrando. “I was torturing him a bit for killing my friend.”
“You know that they have a pack mind right?” asked 315. “That they can hear each other’s thoughts.”
“Nope.” said Powergrando. “Didn’t know that. Though that does explain how he could negotiate on behalf of his leader without ever leaving the confines of that chair.” Powergrando pulled the pistol from his belt and aimed it at the clone. “This is for me.” he said. “The future me I mean.” He pulled the trigger with a look of sadness on his face that didn’t change as the bullet ploughed into the clone’s heart. There was the sound of further gunfire coming from the upper floors.
“Virtues to defensive positions!” yelled Jennifer picking up her assault rifle and running out through the door to the back room. The other Virtues grabbed their weapons and turned to follow her, Chastity pausing to blow Powergrando a kiss before she did so.
“We’ve gotta get out of here.” said 315 quickly. “We need to get back.”
“Back where?” asked Powergrando.
“Back… to the future!” exclaimed 315. “If you have LF we could still get out before those clones kill us all.”
“No.” said Powergrando. “I’m not running away. These virtues have put their lives on the line for me. I’m not going to abandon them now. One way or another the purge ends here.”
“Okay…” said 315 slowly. “How about you give us LF and we run away then?” Powergrando sighed and headed for the back door.
“You’re here to help.” he said. “So help. There are weapons in the office.” Powergrando walked into the back room leaving the two 315s on their own. 315 sighed and walked into the office. He grabbed a pair of shotguns and threw one to Alternate 315.
“I’ve got a bad feeling about this.” Alternate 315 said as they followed Powergrando out to face the army of clones.

Part Three on Friday.

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