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February Vignette - BEES


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The February vignette prompt is:

 

"Bees!" 

 

Please post your vignette by February 28 to receive full credit - don't forget to include a link to it in your post counts! 

 

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What, you want some plot ideas? Okay. 

 

Freedom City: 

 

http://www.freedomplaybypost.com/guide/people-of-freedom/non-player-characters/giant-bees-r14/

 

Some civic-minded heroes have volunteered to show some 'alien visitors' the ropes - not knowing that these visitors are enthusiastic honeybees the size of large trucks who can talk and breathe fire! They're very imitative - it's how they learned to talk, and they won't betray your secret identibee. (Yes, they talk like that but MUCH LOUDER). One will happily don a large tarp to fly around after a hero, wearing a mask as befits the style of the time! 

 

The Emeralds: 

 

(with thanks to Ari!) 

 

A seeming explosion in the bee populations on the West Coast is received with jubilation. Until it turns out that most of them are genetically-modified organisms created by KessKorp, with implications of a hidden agenda. Alien plants that have managed to survive and form niches on Earth mutate bees through pollen, and the honey made from them does the same to humans. A fleet of robot bees made by MarsTech is hijacked by a reckless Digital Demon.

 

(how many of these are happening? Maybe all of them!) 

 

Bedlam: 

 

It's way too cold for bees in Bedlam City in February - there's still feet of snow on the ground, for Pete's sake! So where are all these little yellow bastards coming from - and given how much Bedlam could use blooming flowers, should we be stopping them, or helping them? But as swarms of bees appear over the 'Mistake By The Lake', it's pretty clear somebody's got to do something! 

 

There you go - potential prompts for all! 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WjAbLPcb7Gc

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A Sweet Gesture

Hyperactive 

 

Los Angeles, California

February 11th, 2017 2:39 pm

 

Emily Masters did not like it when her man was late. While that thought might have been a concern for Tyson Masters, it was not the main concern at the moment. Right now, it was the time for super hero business. 

Bullets whirled through the air as Hyperactive rushed into a gang turf battle. The concern right now was with not getting shot, and with the small child sitting in the middle of the street screaming in horror amidst automatic weapon fire. After taking in the situation, Hyperactive ran. 

Time seemed to slow at that speed. Each bullet drifted in the LA air. Darting and dodging Hyperactive rushed past, nothing but a black blur to the onlookers. In an instant the child connected with him and he deposited the kid just beyond the spread of bullets. A swift rush down the street and all the gangbangers hit the ground. The other side had an instant of delight before they each feel a similar pain. One under each arm, the young hero ran the idiots to the local LAPD station. With a small salute Tyson saw the time on the clock: It's just a little detour, I can afford it. 

There're tons of advantages to being a speedster. Tyson grew up learning that daily. The one he most loved though, was that the world always felt smaller. A favorite restaurant was never too far away, and the best parks and museums always felt like they were in the neighborhood. Today though, the advantage was that he could get to and from Freedom City and Los Angeles in an hour. Which meant he could get flowers for Emily at her favorite place on the planet and have them fresh for her special day. 

Dashing away from the station Tyson saw something that gave him pause. A bee ambled through the air. It was a fat yellow bumblebee, no bigger than the first digit of his thumb. It's translucent wings beat the air, but to the hyperactive hero they seemed still. It was like looking at a frozen moment of time. It was too cold in Waco and Freedom to have any of them yet, but they seemed to be ok in LA. Hyperactive smiled at the beauty of the bee before running west. As he ran he started to see people going in the opposite direction. At this speed, they looked frozen in horror. He stopped, letting the world catch up. 

"Miss, what's going on?"

"The bees! The bees!" The woman screamed dragging a child behind her who was weeping in terror. Hyperactive glanced up as the women passed and kicked himself inside. There was a massive hive. A hundred foot structure of what looked like a monstrous and bleak papier mache. Every so often a black cloud would rise from the top, and move outwards. 

Hyperactive ran.

Where he could, Hyperactive dissipated clouds of bees that swarmed down on people. But his goal was to get to that hive. The streets blurred as a boom echoed behind him as he shredded the sound barrier. When he reached the hive he made a quick lap around, one surprise was enough.

The hive had a few entrances, and seemed dark inside. Picking one, Hyperactive ducked inside. It was dim, not dark. A soft amber glow illuminated an odd sight. The ground was a vibrant green meadow, filled with a thousand brilliant flowers. Reds and blues swayed amidst yellows and purples. The smell was fantastic, deliciously sweet aromas of exotic flowers. 

"Hello, I hope you like the garden." A gentle voice said. Hyperactive looked to see a young girl. She walked in the field with poise and grace, a black and gold gown elegantly wrapped around her. A golden crown atop her head she smiled at the hero. She seemed to have wings like a fairy, or a bee, translucent rainbows that bloomed from her back. Her eyes were the only other real clue that she wasn't human. They were black and compound, a million lenses that reflected the dim amber light. "I'm the Queen of this hive it is an honor to have a guest."

"Miss, what're you doing? Is this an attack?"

"No." She said shocked, "I'm sorry if the swarms broke anything, but this is my gift. I just wanted to make this city more beautiful."

"People are being attacked and killed." 

"What? I must speak to my consort." The queen said, before Hyperactive could reply he saw another figure drop down. This man was far bulkier. Massive muscles rippled across his exposed torso. Tattoos wrapped all the way across the body and the left side of the sneering face. A skirt of grass was tied tight around the waist as the man strode forward. His jet black eyes stared directly at Hyperactive. Hyperactive felt a chill run down his spine. He was face to face with a creature empowered by the death goddess Milu herself. 

"Oh that won't be necessary Wahine." Boomed the approaching man. Hyperactive steeled his nerves to face the unholy champion. 

"Aokuewa Ku'mana." Hyperactive said raising his fists. "Or should I call you Red Sunrise? I guess Milu got bored with you and sent you back to the mortal realm."

"Aloha little hero." Aokuewa sneered. "I see you stumbled upon my plot. I needed a little extra mana, and soon my swarms will crush emerald city. After that Waco, Chicago, and Freedom."

"This wasn't the plan! We were just making things pretty!" Shouted the queen. With a flick of his wrist Aokuewa Ku'mana knocked her aside. Time slowed as the girl seemed suspended mid air. Hyperactive charged in, his blows raining down on the titan. Aokuewa swung back and the two began to fight among the flowers. The two wove a delicate dance. Hyperactive hit time, and time again, but the Red Sunrise weathered every blow. Aokuewa swung fruitlessly at the much nimbler Tyson. Tyson's lightning kicks slammed a wall of muscle as he ducked and tumbled away from the brutish hay-makers. The battle raged for seconds, as the two speedsters raced about the meadow. Suddenly Hyperactive faltered and Red Sunrise landed a solid blow. There was a loud snap, and then Aokuewa grabbed Tyson and flung him into the wall. The wall shattered and honey drenched Hyperactive. Tyson felt his face shield crack as he slammed into the wall. Before he could get up, Aokuewa grabbed him and hurled him across to the other side. Tyson groaned as his body hit the wall. Aokuewa sped over and lifted Tyson by the throat. 

"Now puny hero, I will kill you. You could never defeat me."

"Didn't have to." Tyson said as a swarm of bees landed on the Red Sunrise. Tyson vibrated his molecules feeling himself phase straight through the hand. He hit the ground and gasped for air. The Red Sunrise screamed. He belched blasts of black hellfire into the air to no avail. His agonizing screams filled the air as the magic took effect. "You shouldn't double cross a mage, especially if magic is your only weakness." Hyperactive said as he finished phasing. His hand began to vibrate. Destroying the body would only send him back to the underworld again. Hyperactive didn't want to watch this demon of a man suffer. 

"I'll be back." Red Sunrise screamed. 

"Try not to bore your lover too quickly this time." Tyson said before thrusting his hand into the agonized demigod. The body went stiff, and then crumpled into darkness. The shadows dissipated as the bees flew away. Tyson fell to his knees and gasped. Every breath shot flames of pain through his body. The girl rushed over and helped Tyson up. 

"How can I ever repay you? You saved my life." 

"My girlfriend likes purple flowers." Tyson managed, he could already feel his broken ribs, and his cracked face shield probably meant a black eye. The girl flew over and plucked a set of flowers from the ground and came back. He dropped to a knee struggling to breath before the girl whispered something and the bees covered his wound on his side. Hyperactive felt a shooting pain and then relief. The girl handed him the flowers. 

"It will swell, but at least you shan't have broken bones." 

"Thank you so much." Hyperactive said before running home. Fifteen minutes later, Hyperactive stumbled into his apartment in Freedom. Emily looked up from the dining room table. He was a sticky mess, blood and honey drenched his suit as he limped back in. Emily jumped from the table and Tyson just peeled off his helmet and held out the flowers. 

"What are these for?" Emily asked smelling the bouquet with a smile. "And what did you do to get them?"

"I fought Red Sunrise." Tyson smiled. "Happy anniversary."

"Sunny, we've been together six months." Emily said quietly, the realization dawning on her. 

"Not ours, yours. On the other world, with the other me. I figured today might be difficult so I went to go get you flowers. I know I'm not him, and I know this world is different-" Tyson started before Emily leaned in and kissed him. He stopped and as she embraced him, undaunted by blood and honey, he wrapped his arms around her. 

"You're sweet Sunny." She whispered as she held him.

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Bonfire – BeeR Agent

 

Liberty Park was always a sight to behold. With most of the snow now gone, the green reappeared, and even in this strange equilibrium of seasons, not yet spring but also not classical winter, Liberty Park looked beautiful. Cass had seen his fair share of nature, and this honestly wasn’t incredible, but this spot of nature in the middle of FC had a certain atmosphere. It did remind him of home, which, to be fair, also made him like it more. But there also were quite a few things that would make for great images.

 

Not National Geographic levels of great, but “nice in a portfolio” great. And those were the most important for a photographer of Cass’ level. Then again, today he wasn’t here for that job. Today, he wasn’t here at all. Bonfire was. And Bonfire was here because of his job. Due to the circumstances of his client’s visit, and said client himself, meeting in a Starbase or other Café was a tad too difficult. Thermos jug coffee it was, and for an occasion like this, he’d even used the expensive beans.

 

Now he sat here, at this table, waiting for his client to show up. The weather was nice, all things considered. A few people also were in the park, but it was too late for the dog-walking crowds, yet too early for the lunchtime crowds. So it mainly was a few retirees enjoying their time. It was a bit early for Cass too, but he’d gotten used to having to go to meetings with clients every once in a while. Usually online, but in person only made things easier.

 

The client’s arrival was easy enough to see from a distance, and it probably was no coincidence most of the people in the park were now in the other end of it. A man with smoke for a head was one thing, Freedom natives got used to that stuff. A giant bee, on the other hand? That was strange, even in FC. “GREETINGZZZ”. Ouch. That was loud. Befitting of the client, apparently called Bee-rry, ’s size, yes. But loud. Somehow, Bonfire began to wish he’d done this online already.

 

“I AM AT THE RIGHT PLACE, YEZZZ?” Sigh. There were times when Cass was happy Bonfire didn’t have a face. It made appearing calm and collected much easier. Plus, there was a fair chunk of money reliant on how well this went, and that was important. Sure, it wasn’t as rough as it was back before this whole gig, but being able to pay rent and have some money left over was still something he appreciated. Deep breaths. He calmed himself, then replied. Putting on that Bonfire charm, maybe it helped.

 

“Yes, you are. Bee-rry, I presume? It’s good to meet you. I don’t think shaking hands is possible, however. “ The bee tried to shake hands for just a second, then decided that yes, it probably was better to not attempt to. He frowned, quite expressively so. “ZZZORRY. “ Perhaps not all was lost yet. Could Bonfire even get Tinnitus? He didn’t have eardrums, after all? It was one of those things that were best left unexplored, for various reasons. He opened up his bag, and pulled out a fairly large one-way cup used to hold warm beverages. After pouring in some of his precious coffee from the can, he pushed the cup across the table, to his client. “No worries. Here, have a drink. “ Seeing the large Bee trying to somehow drink was quite amusing, but after some time he’d managed to work out a way to do it.

 

 “THANK YOU. THIZZZ DRINK IZZZ … ZZZPECIAL.” Sigh once more. Hopefully it was a good “interesting.” If this was what Cass had to use the high-quality beans for, then he’d better get something out of it. It was time to get to business. Even if Cass wasn’t sure why he’d been chosen for this. And whether or not this really was a good idea. Customer is King, even outside the service industry. Customer has money.

 

“So, let’s talk about what you’re planning. “ “YEZZZ. I HOPE YOU CAN WORK WITH WHAT I HAVE GIVEN YOU ZZZO FAR.” Bee-rry certainly was excited about this. Good. Hopefully this’d work. “So, from what you have told me, this is an advertising campaign. Simple enough, while it’s not my speciality I’m always happy to expand my horizons. However…” Could giant bees express doubt? Cass wasn’t sure, but his client was certainly expressing some kind of emotion when he mentioned that. Oh boy, hopefully this’d go well…

 

“YEZZ? WHAT IZZ IT? IZZ THERE A PROBLEM?” The moment of truth. This next sentence, and Bee-rry’s reaction, would determine whatever happened next. Would determine if Beacon would get this job, arguably the biggest the company would have had in its short lifetime. Deep breath, and then, go. He was Bonfire. He had stopped Nuclear Reactors. He’d fought crazy hackers in armour. He could deal with explaining the problem. “It’s nothing big, no worries. It’s simply that … well, you want this to happen in your home dimension, right? I do not know anything about it, so it makes this all rather difficult. And, since you mentioned Billboards, I would have to somehow transport them. And, well, I don’t know how to do that across dimensions…”

 

“OH. THAT’ZZ RIGHT.” Disappointed. Very disappointed, even. Oh no. Bad, this was bad. Something, something…. Perhaps he could … it was worth a shot. If this’d work he’d managed to kill two birds with one stone, and if it went wrong … who knew. It was time to ramp up that Bonfire Charme (trademark pending).  “Well, you see, I mentioned that for a reason. I don’t think it’s impossible to work around. It will simply mean it will take more, probably a lot more, effort than what our website has for its rates. I believe I can really work with this, but I fear it will be more expensive than what you had imagined. Especially as I need to come up with transport somehow.”

 

Bingo. Bee-rry seemed relieved. That was good. What Cass had said was partially true. Yes, it would cost slightly more, but with how Bee-rry reacted, he didn’t have to know that. Beacon’s rates would remain fair, but charging him a bit more than usual on top of the extra cost was probably fine? Business was a dog eat dog world, after all. And how many people even offered extra-dimensional ad campaigns? He probably still was the cheapest option. “YEZZZ. WE CAN WORK ZZZOMETHING OUT THEN. NOW, ABOUT THE ADZZZ THEMZZZELVEZZZ…” And that was the hard part done. Now it was easy, the rest of thizz- this all would not be too difficult. So long as his ears wouldn’t suddenly stop working. Ouch, tinnitus probably was a thing even like this.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Sha’ir – CyBeer Warfare

 

 

It was a Saturday morning like any. Hakim Naifeh had went out with his friends last night, and he’d only returned some time earlier in the morning. So between the effects of the night on his body, and him just being sleepy, he wasn’t going to get up any time soon if it could be helped in any way. Even if Jack decided to make a full breakfast, which always was quite loud. Today was a lazy day, one where Hakim would not do much.

 

Or so he’d planned. But of course, something happened. One moment to the next, his phone almost exploded. At least half a dozen push messages by various news apps.  Whatever it was, one of the others could deal with it. Between The Salmon, The Spider, Citizen and all the others, somebody was bound to be available, right? His opinion was changed almost immediately, thanks to a message by Marc, one of Hakim’s co-workers.

 

Dude, are you seeing this? They’re using our tech!!

 

And suddenly, he was a lot more awake. His head still didn’t quite agree with this, and it told him. But this was more important. So he went through the push messages. If this involved WestRock tech, then there was nobody better fit for the job. A quick scan revealed that one of MarsTech’s recent projects wasn’t quite working as intended. Wait, what? MarsTech was using WestRock’s software? That had to be a mistake on Marc’s part, right? Unless Hakim had not been informed.

 

Either way, those were things to deal with at a later point. For now, he had to figure out what actually was happening. So, a swarm of robotic bees was apparently rampaging through the streets. “Rampaging”. The comments put it as more of a “distracting everybody”. Sigh, so once more the danger didn’t come from the technology, but from the people who didn’t know how to deal with it. And once more, it would be the technology taking the blame. Sure, Hakim wasn’t too big of a fan of MarsTech, but them getting bad press meant all of Emerald’s tech industry getting bad press by association.

 

And besides, it was robotic bees. What was the worst they could do? Hakim fully support the development of them. Which made it ever so important he put a stop to whatever was going on. This already was enough bad publicity. He grabbed his clothes, swung over his messenger bag, with the Mage Book inside, and got ready to leave.

 

Jack was still standing in the kitchen, currently cooking some bacon, his attention turned towards the TV mounted on the wall in the lounge. “Mornin’ ‘kim. You see the news yet?”

 

“Morning. Yeah, I saw. Let’s hope they don’t shut down everything, I need to grab some things.”

 

“Well, good luck. You never know, maybe Citizen shows up and deals with them. “

 

And then, Hakim left the building. Yes, perhaps Citizen would show up. But perhaps it would be another member of EC’s hero community instead? He walked down the street up to the nearest corner. He knew this area; it was one of the few local ones without any CCTV. And once the cars on the street had passed, he was suddenly swallowed by a portal opening up beneath his feet.

 

Halfway across the city, The Spellsmith floated through a portal that had opened up above the street, the Mage Book floating by his side. He was frantically looking through spells, there had to be some cyber-wizardry already, right? It would’ve made sense, but Hakim could not find a single one that did what he wanted it to. So, he had to do this himself. Perhaps if he could …. And then ….

 

The swarm of robotic bees approached. It was quite a large swarm, actually. Bigger than Hakim had assumed from the news. Still, if he was lucky, all he had to do was shut down the code of one. They seemed to split into two smaller swarms, simply avoiding him. He’d planned for that. And as the swarms were at the point closest to him, his body became some sort of blue energy, and was sucked towards the bees, entering a single one.

 

Sha’ir reappeared in a large, blue black and green environment, where only outlines were visible. Some sort of digi-scape, shaped after … something. Digi-scape? Magic certainly had strange ways of doing things. In front of him stood what could be best described as an old-timey looking factory, but instead of bricks, it was made up of code. Every last inch of it was code.

 

Now then, it was time to get to work. But, where would he start? He knew his way around code. But this wasn’t just code. This was much more, and much more complicated. Did his magic work here? His failed attempt at summoning a light said “probably not.” Old-school, then. He approached the “building”. It seemed to be only semi-solid, as his hand went right through the wall.

 

Which caused the code to stream right through his mind. He didn’t have to look at it. No, he simply had to close his eyes, and there it was. This was… intuitive, if completely weird. In his mind, he saw a proper wall of code, taking up every last space. This was complicated. Really, really complicated. But, fortunately, he’d also gotten the various comments. So he simply had to work his way through all of it, and find whatever was causing this. At best, without destroying anything else.

 

This was … this was something else. Code from so many different sources, doing so many different things. Hakim was looking at what probably was the collective efforts of an entire division. Some things were easy to decipher, they made sense. Others, less so. And, surprisingly enough, after some time Hakim found some very, very familiar code. He’d written this. He knew that much, unless they had somehow replicated all of it. Unlikely. There was a scheduled meeting with MarsTech about this very code. But it already being here, that didn’t make sense. Something was going on. Still, shutting it down would only have caused more chaos, so onwards he went.

 

There was a section, a small section, that made absolutely no sense. It was written in a different coding language. Which, by itself, made its very existence very, very strange. And the complete lack of information what it did just added onto that. Did it even do anything? In all his years, he’d never seen anything even remotely similar. But … disabling this? No way. There had to be something else.

 

Yes, there was. A whole lot of simple code, one Hakim understood. Simple, yet effective, most likely the root of the malfunction. He went to edit it, surprisingly easy when the code was just in your mind. However, as soon as he changed anything, the code simply … reappeared? It reversed itself, and with each change, something else was added.

 

“I wouldn’t do that. Really.” A voice from behind him. Immediately, he opened his eyes again. And, hand still stuck in the building, glanced over his shoulder. What looked like a demon ripped straight from a fantasy game’s cover, but more tech-y. And whatever it was, it was angry. Angry, and approaching fast.

 

What was he going to do? Hakim was powerless here. He didn’t have access to his magic, he couldn’t fight whatever this thing was. And with his arm stuck like this, he couldn’t really run either. So this was it, then? Now that was an unsatisfying way to go out.

 

Unless… his arm was still stuck! He had a Master’s for something, right? He closed his eyes, and as he heard the demon approach, he went to work. He’d seen the code somewhere. One slight change here, and …

 

Right as the demon’s claws descended, Hakim opened his eyes again. In his hand a shield, deflecting the attack. He no longer was unarmed. “You’re in MY world. Get out!” The demon bounced back, before coming in for another attack. Once more, the shield deflected it, essentially dragging Hakim’s arm after it.

 

A spike shot upwards from the ground, just glancing the demon’s wing. “No, you’re in mine. “ With his opponent temporarily stunned, Hakim went on the offensive. He drew his arm out of the wall. And with it, an oversize two-hander. He lifted it overhead, before slamming it down towards the demon, only managing to get it blocked by the demon’s own summoned blade. The demon retaliated, only for Hakim to sidestep the attack. The swords were doing their own thing, more or less, the two combatants just moving their bodies along.

 

Until, after some exchanged blows the demon suddenly shot up into the sky, outside of the sword’s range, and began to … breathe digital fire? Hakim didn’t manage to dodge in time, even if it wasn’t a burning sensation. More a loss of consciousness, if anything. Clearly, his sword was not of much use here. And just as he was thinking that, it adjusted. It was covered in a blue glow, before reappearing in his hands, except that now it resembled a rifle, if anything.

 

“Neat. Always wanted to try one of these. “ He took aim, the weapon doing most of that itself, before pulling the trigger. A beam of energy, similar in colour to literally everything in the area but Hakim, punched through the demon’s wing, bringing him to fall moments afterwards. Hakim approached carefully, gun still pointed downwards, when the demon got up, onto one knee. Where previously there had been a wing, there now just was ones and zeroes, streaming out and disappearing.

 

“Fine. If I can’t get rid of you, I’ll crush you instead. “ The demon increased in size. Massively, so, until the building was barely the size of his feet. What now? The rifle wouldn’t do much against this. And running wasn’t really an option. Both because this thing was much faster than him, and because he’d still not fixed the code. Hakim closed his eyes once more, trying to focus on the environment. Whatever his opponent had used, he could do so too. He just had to find it. Fast.

 

The foot came down. And on top of him, Hakim felt something push inwards. The shield! It was still holding, he still had time. Literal code raced through his mind. Coding under pressure was one thing. This, this was much more. Much more enjoyable. One changed variable, and Hakim could watch everything around him get smaller and smaller. His opponent backed off to a safe distance, and then the actual fight was on.

 

Hakim opened with a right hand, only for his opponent to step away, and his claws to dig into it, creating more ones and zeroes. His opponent followed with a one-two, directed at the Spellsmith’s face. And while he could do something about the first attack, the second connected. He could feel his stance loosening, as he had to take a step backwards, and wasn’t quite sure what to do. Until he felt the demon’s knee connect with his own gut. It was too late to react already, the demon’s hands were grabbing onto Hakim, and he was being lifted into the air.

 

Next thing he felt was his body impacting into something. As he opened his eyes, he was looking skywards, the edge of his vision filled with structures similar in appearance to skyscrapers. This plan wasn’t working at all. And then, he saw claws, about to strike down onto his face. Mustering what strength he still had, he rolled to the side, getting just far enough before being blocked by the buildings to his side.

 

He grabbed onto the closest thing he could, one of the skyscrapers, and pulled himself upwards. Halfway up, more claws. He let go of the structure, falling onto his knees, but also managing to have his opponent slam into the building.  At this point of the fight, Hakim really wasn’t picky about any potential openings anymore, and besides, it was questionable if it even had the same effect here, so he did the only thing he could when the opportunity offered itself. Judging by the demon’s reaction, yes, these attacks still had the same effect. He collapsed, his entire body feeling the pain, buying Hakim just the time he needed.

 

Figuring out who this was, what his plan was, and so on was intriguing, yes. And most likely important. But he didn’t have the time for it. And besides, somehow it felt that his opponent wouldn’t tell him anyways. He grabbed onto the top of one of the structures, and ripped it straight off, with only some effort. It was nice and pointy, it’d do. The demon got back up onto his feet just in time to see half a skyscraper, ready to pierce his body.

 

He disappeared before that happened, however. One moment to the next, he was gone. Perhaps Hakim had gotten a bit too much into that fight, now that he thought about it. Either way, no time to worry about past actions, he still hadn’t fixed what he’d come here for.

 

Finding the factory wasn’t too difficult like this, and now that it no longer reappeared, the code was easy to fix. Still, something wasn’t quite right with this. Something about this code suggested there were things in it that weren’t supposed to be there. And he’d figure out, somehow.

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Hologram and Fast-Forward 

Bee Mine

 

It was February 2017. Bryant Haliday Cline was six months old. He was also in his late 80s. He had fallen asleep in his baby bed next to his giant stuffed bee, the slightly-bedraggled toy Richard had picked up at a secondhand shop in Los Angeles that the baby had bonded with as much as a baby could bond with a toy. Bryant was a good sleeper - if he had his bee with him. Bryant took two or three naps a day - if his sleep schedule wasn’t interrupted.

 

Richard was hanging out in the baby’s room, the converted home office that he’d converted back into a baby bedroom when they’d come home with Bryant six months earlier, touching Paige with his mind downstairs while he assessed just how asleep Bryant was. He and Paige were experienced in living their lives (or at least taking a nap) when the baby was asleep - but you had to be sure. ~At least he’s a long way from trying to walk in on us. He really likes this bee thing. The other day he started babbling about bees when he was sitting on my lap outside. Or maybe just babbling the b sound,~ he admitted.

 

~Yeah, he loves his bee,~  Paige agreed from downstairs. ~I’ve been trying to find another one like it in case it gets lost or needs washed, but no luck so far. I’ll probably have to get on the internet. Why don’t you come downstairs, he’s out like a light.~ They’d had to move their editing computers and screens into the master bedroom when the baby arrived, a situation that wasn’t working too well for anybody. Paige was already making noises about taking over Will’s room now that he was off at college and only using it on odd weekends and parts of the summer. No sense in letting space sit idle in the already cramped house.

 

The thought produced the deed - and Richard was downstairs on the couch next to Paige. In an earlier phase of their lives, with the kids out of the house or asleep, he probably would have invited her back upstairs. But while they were better parents for their third kid than their first - they were also nearly twenty years older, even if they’d only felt half of that. He settled in next to her on the couch, sliding his arm around her shoulders. “Maybe we can make the bee thing his new theme. There’s probably enough bee merch out there we could decorate his whole room that way,” he kidded. “Stick him in a bee costume for Halloween, take pictures. He’s too little to get sick of it yet.”

 

“Or hitch a ride out to Fleur de Joie’s little bee sanctuary universe,” Paige suggested. “I’ve been thinking about asking her to let us do a special out there for awhile now. She’s not a supercriminal, but she’s got all those giant bees that used to belong to Beekeeper II. I found archival footage of them attacking Freedom City, we could juxtapose it with what life is like for them now, maybe get an interview with a few of them. And maybe get an interview with Beekeeper II as well, see if he’ll tell us how he created them in the first place.”

 

“Yeah, that’s a good idea,” said Richard, nodding as he thought about it. “I forgot those guys can talk. I think a couple of Nicholson parents were on the team that helped stop them, maybe they know something. Man, you should have heard Ma when that guy showed up,” he went on, smirking a little. “She’s been friends with Brian for sixty-five years but she was mad as hell that somebody had bought the Bee-Keeper name and not hers.” Absently he rubbed Paige’s shoulders. “Have to see if Holly’s interested. Maybe we can convince her the outdoors aren’t so bad after all.” Their last family camping trip, dating back now before Bryant’s rebirth, had not gone terribly well.

 

“Not for a first trip,” Paige told him firmly. “I would want to go myself first and see what the bee colony is like. Some sentient insects have an actual hive mind, one consciousness shared amongst all the members. I wouldn’t want to expose Holly to that yet, especially not with creatures that size. From what I’ve heard, these bees seem more individual than that, but I don’t want her scared or overwhelmed. Maybe we could bring her out for follow-up interviews. Is Beekeeper I still around, then? We could talk with him too, if he’ll give an interview.”

 

“Okay, okay,” said Richard, raising his hands slightly. “We’ll hold her back till we know it’s safe.” He could kid himself that his daugher would wind up queen of the bees if that happened - but he and Paige both remembered the day their daughter’s powers had appeared. “Yeah, Brian’s got to be at least ninety and doesn’t have any powers, but he keeps himself in good shape. He says it’s from regular exercise, avoiding cigarettes and alcohol, and eating a jar of honey every day. You met him, I think, he was at Ma’s 70th, the little guy who kept talking about a macrobiotic diet and chiropractors.” Anna Cline had stopped throwing big parties for her birthday after that - there wasn’t anyone to invite anymore.

 

“It’s a miracle he doesn’t have double-diabetes,” Paige muttered. “I think I remember him a little, jumpy little guy. I’ll kick the idea to the production staff, see if they can start running down some background. If we can get Fleur de Joie to bite on it, we’ll have ourselves a show.” She made a couple of notes on the computer, then leaned back and stretched leisurely. “So, we have maybe an hour while the one’s asleep and the other’s at school. Sex or nap?” she asked, her voice still quite conversational.

 

“Well it’s not a big jar - I think he specially feeds the bees from-” Richard Cline looked at his beautiful wife of twenty-five years, seeing the pink-haired girlfriend, partner in crime, partner in life, all in the same moment, and didn’t feel quite so old. “Mmm, you _do_ have the best ideas, honey.” He put his arms around her and kissed her neck, running his fingers through her hair. “I’ll give you both,” he promised warmly, “and you can pay me back anyway you like. He chuckled, and pressed his mouth on hers.


“I knew there was a reason I kept you around,” she told him, smiling against his lips. “You can do much more with a free hour than most men your age.” She poked him lightly in the ribs when he huffed in mock-indignation, then took his hand to lead him to the bed, grinning like the cat about to get the canary.  “As for paying you back, well, I think we may have one of those bear-shaped bottles of honey around here someplace. I’ve got a couple ideas.”

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Bee one with the night!

Blodeuewdd

 

In the darkness she crouched completely still as she examined the scene from across the rooftop. The museum had somehow come into possession of a potentially catastrophic artifact and as usual it was up to her to recover it and take it somewhere where it could be be stored safely. An almost perfect copy would take it place and no one would be the difference, but as she went to make her way across the rooftops something felt off. She was sure she could hear a buzzing sound, and the feeling that something big was nearby. She raised from her crouch ready to defend herself if need by, then she hear...

 

“BUZZ-WEDD! IT HASS BEEEN SSOO LONG!”

 

Blodeuwedd turned to looking into the giant face that would have given a Melissophobic nightmares, a giant bee wearing a domino mask. Which made sense because obviously a bee would want to hide it civilian identity.

 

“Super-bee! I’ve not seen you since we graduated, it’s great to see you again.” she wasn’t sure how you greeted a giant bee friend so went for a friendly pat in the head, though Super-bee had better idea’s and gave the young Welsh woman a massive six legged hug.

 

For a woman who’d grown up in a world of Gods and Monsters finding yourself at school with a giant bee was still a bit of the shock. But once you got over the shock of it the Super-bee was actually super sweet, a bit like honey, and whilst she hadn’t had much to do with the giant insect she did genuinely like her.

 

“WHATZ ARE YOUZZEEE DOING OUTZ HERE?” Super-bee asked once she let Blodeuwedd go for her hug

 

“I was about to go...” she was about to lie when an amazing thought occurred to her “Actually I could use you help here...” Blodeuwedd began to explain her mission and offered Super-bee a chance to help


 

A few moments later the quiet of the museum was filled with a gentle buzzing as Blodeuwedd was gently carried into the place on the back of Super-bee. With the power of her cloak neither could be seen, which was a shame as Blodeuwedd would have liked to seen her friends faces when they saw footage of her on the back of a giant bee. She was by nature a rather dour and serious person but the sheer weirdness of all this made even her smile.

 

Super-bee stopped and hovered perfectly above the case with the artifact, something that would stump those that use to believe a regular bee could fly. And with Super-bee’s ability to easily hold her feet it was much easier to swap over the artifact for the fake, actually it had taken much longer to convince Super-bee that this wasn’t stealing and it was more important to keep the artifact safe. WIth that done it was easy to fly back to the very roof top they’d started out together.

 

“WEZZ DID GOOD?” Super-bee finally asked when Blodeuwedd dismounted and was safe on terra firma

 

“Yes I think we did.” Blodeuwedd replied, it seemed wrong to just leave it there, after all they were old school friend


“Look I know this little cafe nearby. Do you want to get a sugary drink and catch up on old times?”

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Hard to Bee A God 

Harrier/Miss Americana 

 

The perfectly symmetrical hives of the robot bees lay by the algae-covered sea, towering high overhead like so many skyscrapers cast from metal, rock, and dirt. From their construction, Steve judged that the bees had reforged the remains of one of Sanctuary’s long-dead cities, perhaps one that hadn’t been built on this site on Prime, and made it their own. Though not hostile to humans, the robot bees preferred their isolation, far from their fleshy cousins, and had few visitors from the human settlements elsewhere on the continent.

 

They had been silent on the radio for days before Fleur de Joie had visited to find them still and inert - and so the greatest robotics expert on Earth-Prime had been summoned. She had, after much deliberation, sent her assistant. The isolation was one guard against said assistant being disturbed - a bodyguard, on loan from her business rival, was another. He watched as Gina Evans, bundled against the chill of a February by the sea even in this New Jersey, went about the last of what had been hours of work.

 

Gina had been quiet for the entire trip to Sanctuary, allowing Steve to speak for her and all but drag her around for the teleport and very short guided tour of Sanctuary. Now though, alone but for the wind and the electronics, she was much more vocal, and almost all of it was cursing. New Jersey was cold in February, but not as cold as this place, bereft of trees and rows of buildings, open to the biting, stinging air that blew in off the toxic water. It was that wind that had caused the trouble in the first place, corroding the robotic creatures faster than their self-maintenance programs could keep up. Gina had managed to diagnose and repair enough of the maintenance units that they would be able to fix the others, given proper supplies, but the colony would have to be moved further inland. That was not her department. Activating the monstrous robots was. It had been kind of fun to poke around in somebody else’s playground, have a look at the way Beekeeper handled AI, but she recognized magitech when she saw it. Whatever he’d done would not be replicable by others, and if she messed with it too much, she might damage whatever made it work in the first place. But she could fix the gears and wires.

 

When there was pause enough in Gina’s cursing to suggest to Steve she was angry at no more than the wind and the smell, he joined her with their supplies - Archetech-brand thermoses that held both hot soup and hot coffee. “Take a break,” he suggested to her. Gina might hate the cold and the outside in these rough climes, but she would work to an angry exhaustion inside them even so. A break also let him sit next to her on a particularly large beachside rock, his bulk partially blocking the wind. There wasn’t much to see out here, but the hives themselves had a certain rough beauty, he judged.

 

“The sooner I finish, the sooner we can get the hell out of here,” Gina muttered, shivering miserably as she drank her coffee. This was by far the longest she’d spent outdoors in years, and just her luck it had to be terrible weather. She was definitely going to catch cold, and then she’d have to doctor herself, and that was always weird and uncomfortable no matter how much medical experience she picked up as Miss A. “I should’ve said I was busy and made Dragonfly do this. She’s at least got a battlesuit. Or I should’ve come with the robot and brought my body along in a box of supplies, then at least I’d be in a nice warm box.” She’d considered it, actually, but knowing the florakinetic’s bond to her adopted planet, hadn’t been certain that Fleur wouldn’t have been able to sense the stowaway without even trying. “I just gotta run the final check routines and make sure the maintenance drones are ready to go. And input some instructions that if they ever have a mass failure again, they goddamn go inside to do it!”

 

“You have done well.” The experience would not endear Gina to the outdoors, but she had done it even so, and he knew what that meant. Steve put his arm around her shoulders, though of course through the layers of clothing Gina was wearing, there wasn’t much heat to share. “Fleur de Joie will make sure the bees follow that command. Perhaps now they will worship you as a secret mechanical god, one that comes while they sleep and heals their wounds.” He sipped his soup, the hot chicken broth provided for them by artisans in the town they’d left behind. “You could do worse than to be a god.” He smiled slightly, a strange image of Gina as seen by robotic bees popping into his head. “Only a short ride back to the village, and then back to your bed, from here.” He had also provided the transportation for their trip.

 

She snorted. “Being Sharl’s god is bad enough, I don’t know that I want to pick up any more of a following. Especially not if they’re robot insects the size of trucks. God only knows what kinds of offerings they’d try to provide.” Downing the last of the soup,  Gina climbed awkwardly off the rock, even stiffer with cold now than she was when she say down, and went to troubleshoot the bees. Within just a few minutes, a half dozen of the massive creations were coming online, fluttering their mechanical (and largely ornamental) wings and taking to the air. Still in troubleshooting mode, they said nothing until Gina finished looking them all over, scanning them with her instruments, and making a few adjustments. “All right,” she told them, bringing them fully online at last, “you lot are looking pretty good now. I’ve uploaded instructions for repairing your buddies, and there’s a bunch of raw materials to use in those crates over there. Try to stay out of trouble, and get your hive moved away from the water as soon as you can. It’s bad for you, corrosive. You’ll break down again if you don’t.” Gina rarely had trouble talking to robots.

 

Reawakened and mobile again, the bees did not worship Gina - which was probably for the best, mused Steve. Instead they buzzed their thanks in mechanical voices that sounded like the recordings of bee noises amplified loud - “THANKZZ FOR ZZAVING UZZ! WE WILL FIX OUR ZIZTERZ. WILL YOU ZZTAY ON ZANCTUARY? WE COULD LEARN MUCH FROM YOU.” As they hovered in the air like so many warmachines, Steve took this opportunity to gather up their possessions to hastily speed their departure. Gina was ready to leave, and surrounded by these buzzing mechanical creatures, friendly though they were  - he was ready to leave too.


“Nope, I gotta go, it’s way too cold out here for me,” Gina informed them all hastily. “If anything crops up though and you’re still having trouble, just ask for Dragonfly. See you!” With that, she hastily packed away the rest of her tools and lifted her arms so Steve could pick her up. She absolutely detested being carried, but right now, it was the lesser of the many possible evils. She wanted a ride home, a hot bubblebath and her basement, exactly in that order. And she suspected she wasn’t going to want anything to do with honey for quite awhile.

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Beeing Schooled

Hammer February Vignette

 

"Damn it, Hammer! You've got to do better than that if you plan on making here with the UWL!" Glacier said as helped Kwame to his feet.  Kwame rubbed his back slightly, not in any real pain, but in humiliation.  Few things had been able to hurt him since he gained powers that gave him exceptional strength and fortitude.  Kwame’s muscles had become so strong and dense that very little could penetrate his skin.

 

Kwame looked around at the other practice rings in the Palace of Practice, the main training facility of the UWL.  Three of the nearby rings were also occupied with wrestlers practicing for their upcoming bouts.  Sharon “Vixen”, one of the members of Kwame’s wrestling group, was practicing against The Dancer a mere two rings over.  Zayn, another member of Kwame’s wrestling group, was working out with his younger brother, Aiden.  They were trying to work on their combination work for their tag team bout.  The last ring presently in use held The Big Cactus, a 7 foot wrestler with very long limbs, practicing with The Grappler.  Kwame knew that even though The Grappler was a jobber, a wrestler whose role was to make the stars shine, he would have been unable to defeat The Big Cactus.  The Big Cactus was famous before he came into the powers that allowed him stretch his limbs.  He was known as a great submission style wrestler and his newfound powers worked great with his style. 

 

Get your head back in the game, Hammer.” Glacier said as he smacked the hero upon his head. “I could be doing other things than trying to help you improve.

 

Kwame shook his head and focused on his own opponent.  Glacier was one of the top stars in the Ultimate Wrestling League.  He had been with the company for almost all of its existence.  For some reason, the higher ups had paired the living legend as a mentor with Kwame.

 

Sorry about that, Austin.  I’ll do better on the next attempt.

 

You’d better.  Now, let’s see that turnbuckle leap again.  And this time, make sure I’m in position before you jump.

 

Kwame moved into position, standing upon the top ropes.  He sized up Glacier’s location and was ready to leap with a booming voice filled the gym.

 

All right you clowns.  Stop what you’re doing.  I’ve got a few announcements for you.” Headly DeShaek, more commonly known as Orang-Utan, stepped into the gym.  Orang-Utan, a former wrestler of some fame in the UWL, was now responsible from storylines to lengths of matches.  When he spoke, everyone regardless of standing paid attention.  It seems that our promotional bouts at Millenium Mall last month drew the attention of some of the big wigs of the city.  Seems like we have some visitors interested in shadowing a few of you for a couple of days.  Hammer, as one of the greenies, I’m assigning you babysitting duties.  Enjoy.

 Kwame was surprised once DeShaek moved aside revealing the giant bee entering the room.  "Izz thizz where I learn to wrezztle, DeZZhaek?" it asked as it looked over the various wrestlers present.

"Yeah, Sonny.  This is the place.  You're working with Hammer for the next few days.  That's him over there in ring three."

Sonny flapped his wings and flew over to the ring to join Hammer and Glacier.  "I am Zzonny.  I look forward to learning how to wrezztle."

Kwame nodded his own greeting. "Nice to meet you, Sonny.If DeShaek can call him Sonny then I'm pretty sure that'll work for me.  "I'm Hammer.  It'll be fun working with you."

The next few days tested Kwame's limits of control.  Not only did Sonny's strange way of speaking start to affect him, but just getting used to the giant bee's quick movements were bringing him down.

"Come on Sonny.  Stop zipping all over the ring.  I told you before.  You'll have to engage your opponent at some point."

"But it izz eazzier to let you tire yourzzelf out than to confront you," Sonny said as he quickly zipped out of Kwame's reach again.

"Yes, if this was a street fight, or even a boxing match that would be true.  But in the world of wrestling, it's about giving the crowd a show they can enjoy.  Avoiding contact is not entertaining."  Kwame gestured at the other wrestlers in the gym.  "See how they work with their opponents to build an effective performance?  That's what we do here.  We practice so that none of us gets hurt and we can give the audience the best show ever."

"You help protect the zzity, yezz? I have watched you thezze pazzt few dayzz.  If you plan on protecting the zzity, you need to improve your fighting zztyle.  You're more than just a wrezztler now, Hammer.  Time to learn how to become a zzuperhero."

Kwame blinked at Sonny's words.  He saw that the giant bee had some keen insights to his new lifestyle.  Even as he contempted making a change, Sonny moved into position.  He quickly jumped to the top of the corner turnbuckle and perfectly performed the drop kick that Kwame was working on when Sonny first arrived.  The shock at the maneuver caused Kwame to lose his footing, knocking him to the ground.  Sonny stood over him and extended his hand.  "Don't underezztimate your opponent, Hammer.  Alwayzz be vigilant."

Kwame looked up at the giant bee.   I can't believe I was schooled by a bee!  He took the offered hand and stood up. "I'll be sure to do that."

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Late Night Semi-Related Conversations

 

Bees.

 

It was all about bees.  Like some horrible movie, with over acting and immolation.  Only less immolation.

 

Or… stuff.

 

He stared at the numbers, again and again, before he approved the next fiscal quarter’s efforts towards Sanctuary.  It was a strange thing to be funnelling money there.  But it was his, not his company’s, and it was easy to attract people to helping.

 

Not that putting this kind of internship or career opportunity down on a CV or resume would be easily swallowed.  Though Amir did make the case of who they’d be working for.  A plant person, and a guy who could almost literally swallow explosions.

 

By, Allah, even thinking about that line of thought was beyond baffling.

 

“Well, that is your problem right there Amir, this stuff keeps getting stranger and stranger.”  He muttered to himself as he rested his cheek on an upturned back, while thumbing through the tablet in his other hand.  It was hour sixty, even he was staring to get tired.  Talking to himself was the least of his concerns.

 

With a frown, he turned on the video call, ringing up Ms. van Cleef after a few moments, there was a, “...guah?”  Her expression bleary and glaring at him for a moment, then her brows knitted together in a bit of a scowl.

 

“Ana, I need to go over some numbers with you.”

 

“The hell Amir, it’s… it’s…”  She squinted and looked at the screen a bit more, “3:15 in the morning, what is important at this hour?”  Her face clearly have a ‘what the hell’ expression as she looked at her ‘boss.’

 

“Oh… oh crap, sorry. I didn’t realize the time, it isn’t that important.  Just the bee thing.”  His face showing contrition as he moved the hand from his jaw, rubbing at her features before closed his eyes and ground the heel of his palm against his face.  “Just the bee thing.  I am sorry go back to bed.”

 

There was a small pause, a heart beat of silence before Ana ventured forth a question, “You okay?”  The sound of her covers moving, and a grunt of whoever was there with her as she got up and slide free, padding away.  “Or do you really not know what time it is?  I mean, you do need something resembling a break, at some point.”

 

A ragged sigh, “I am fine.”

 

“You are glowing, it isn’t the screen, you are literally glowing.”  Another pause, and she frowned and was looking at him critically.  Eying him up, sizing what was happening really.

 

“Well… um… I guess I bleed off excess energy?  Let’s worry about that later, I have a geiger counter here, and it isn’t going off.  Tomorrow, er, later today, can you go over the numbers?  I would like to get something up and running that can start to have some self-sufficiency of self-sustaining, so I don’t have to keep putting money into it.  I am thinking a trust, or not for profit agency centered on developing harsh living condition considerations.  I think that should work.”

 

“Amir.  Glowing.”

 

“I can also fly into space under my own power and punch through tanks.  This is the part your sticking on?”

 

“It’s new, also, can you arrange me going for a lookeeloo, so see what is on the field?  I mean, I have leads on some startups and ideas we may be able to use, but I’ll need some direct eyes to work it out.”

 

“Yeah, as long as you sell it that we’re moving towards help self-sufficiency and autonomy, that’s what they seem to want.”

 

“Okay, that’s fine.  Less 3 am calls would really be helpful.”  And then the conversation trailed off towards the various assets that could folded over towards establishing something meaningful for Sanctuary, which did little to minimize Ana’s desire to see giant bees.  Asad had to agree that was pretty awesome.  The fire breathing ones were objectively better though.


“Wait…Amir, what the hell did you just say?”

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HidR-SeekR

Salmon February Vignette

 

On a peaceful hill overlooking the Columbia river delta a copse of sentinel pines had grown for hundreds of years. Their branches were thick with spiders, crammed with birds' nests, the destination of countless ants.

 

Several simply exploded when Ishmael Redwater ploughed through them, racing pell-mell across the Atlas Range's foothills as he arced into the eastern fingers of the Elysian State Forest. He was already gone by the time the birds burst into the air, shrieking in panic. They were just recovering when the pursuer followed, a soft  humming shadow.

 

Brushing off the needles, insects, terrified arachnids and other debris with hurried, robotic movements, the Salmon risked a brief backward glance. His heart leaped into his mouth when he saw that it was still following him. 

 

I wish I knew how irony worked Ishmael groused, lowering his head into another super-fast sprint through the blurring green maze that had been his world for the last few hours Gotta be on like the third or fourth level of irony by now

 

A very long time ago Ishmael had been downtown in the so-called Core, the busy heart of Emerald City's booming tech industry. Parking his motorcycle at one of the streetside maglocks, in the shadow of KessKorp's dark blocky citadel, the lanky young man had paused to take in the rush and bustle of the city, in particular the rush and bustle he didn't have to do. The monorail gliding noiselessly overhead, the commuters dashing into and out of automated taxis, buses and even the odd personal car, bubble-buoyed executives in suits yelling into their earpieces as they maneuvered the drifting packs of pedestrians on their Segways.

 

Ishmael had politely failed to notice the scruffy, tired old man in the torn jacket and faded camo pants, eyes fixed on the ground and back bent under a massive backpack. By the time the man had plodded by, the young speedster's buzzing brain had lit on a perfect use for his powers. 

 

With a grin he'd closed his eyes...and opened them on a world in slow-motion.

 

A single drop of hot chocolate slipped from a beanie'd college girl's jostled cup, spilling like molasses toward a tiny dog becoming aware across geologic eons of the incoming treat. Bit by bit, a man in a suit slipped on a stray patch of ice and drifted lazily into a pile of dirty snow. Drones carrying boxes crept by, bobbing like a procession of ducks.

 

A line of bees flew out of a tiny hole in the wall of the KessKorp building, heading for the river.

 

Starting, Ishmael had almost lost control. But for better or worse he'd accelerated again just in time to see them go, moving more like automatons than insects, coloured in neon shades of yellow and darkest blue.

 

For an instant he'd almost not followed. MarsTech was making robot bees(as the skyscraper sidesigns had announced for weeks), clearly KessKorp was just ripping them off...but curiosity had won out: just where were they going? What were they doing?

 

So Ishmael had ducked into an alley, changed into his superhero suit and given chase.

 

So he had spent a nice few hours running atop the Columbia, feeling the cool sea breeze whipping by and feeling the soft cushion of the river under his feet. He and the bees had wound their way up into the foothills, to the farmlands on the north side of the delta.

 

To the massive underground hive where they were making copies of the farmers.

 

Ishmael stumbled to a halt, clutching a tree and panting as he crashed to the forest floor in a cacophany of detonating twigs. He shouldn't have torn it all up, shouldn't have acted so fast, shouldn't have cycloned water into the cavern and smashed thousands and thousands of drowning bees in a horrified frenzy...

 

The Salmon looked at his feet, still caked in tiny shredded corpses. I can salvage this, I can...I can get these to ASTRO, they...what? Do WHAT? Something that makes me not look crazy? Maybe? 

 

One of the bodies moved.

 

It found me

 

_______________________________________

 

Hours later, soaked and exhausted, Ishmael stumbled into his and his aunt's home, dropping his backpack next to a piece of art made from buck antlers. Negotiating the maze of genius to an open chair, the teenager slumped into it and simply discorporated, letting every arm and leg hang from its socket as the searing pain washed over and through him.

 

"Paris?" Ellen Riverrun stumbled down the loft steps, rubbing her eyes and yawning "Why're you back so late? Where'd you go?" Squinting as she turned on the light, flooding the open wood-panel rooms in gentle yellow radiance, she smiled fondly at her nephew, easily stepping through the easels, sculptures and...other things even Ishmael had never learned the word for to give him a light hug.

 

"Oh, you're wet through! Did you fall in the river?"

 

The boy looked up at her anxious eyes through a tangle of dripping hair. For a second he was back there, the savage hummng right in his ears, the mad leap, the last-ditch waterspout.

 

"...Yeah Aunt Ell, got chased by bees. Sorry."

 

It was only a lie of omission.

 

Better than normal.

 

Better than having to explain.

 

Ellen looked grim. "Bees. My god."

 

They both burst out laughing.

Edited by Ari
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  • Tiffany Korta unfeatured and unpinned this topic
  • 10 months later...

Buzzing In Your Ears

Lobisomem

 

Lobisomem, or Kaida, she was a civilian right now, correct? Not that a creature like her was any less recognizable just because she wasn't darting through the shadows in her duties, anybody would know the gigantic snake thing lying in the grass, contentedly shimmering a deep green, was a fairly new hero of this city, seemingly unconcerned with mantaining a secret identity. Her eyes were closed tightly, but her wings were spread slightly in the sunlight. As dreadful as her eyes felt in the day, she couldn't deny that the warmth was wonderful.

 

Beside her, a snore rang out from a bench. It was Father, newspaper splayed across his face, something about the current bee populations rising due to mysterious circumstances. Must have been boring. She could sympathise, and opened her eyes a crack. How dreadful, the least he could do was take that thing off his face! He only shuffled slightly as she gently snatched the paper up and transferred it to her front claws, squinting in her blurry vision to catch what exactly was so boring about this. Sure, she got a few stares as the she proceeded to take a very human slouch as she read, but just by raising her head, civilians looked away. She wasn't sure whether she was feeling a tickle in her chest because she was proud of her talent, or angry at the way they looked at her.

 

Nonetheless, as she read, a peculiar scent came to the forefront of her mind now that her head was up and ajr flowed freely. She just sighed and tried to ignore it, likely just a new perfume or something to that effect. It was flowery...and getting stronger? Her tail thrashed briefly, sending a brave child that ventured near scampering for cover as she abuptly stood. Where was that idiotic smell!?

 

On her way up, her nose caught the trail...a beautiful blue flower. Most would have simply wrote it off as an oddity, not at all uncommon in Freedom City, but not Lobisomem. Already a naturally suspicious being, her scales prickled on edge and her color started to flicker black. Goho, she transmitted to the sleeping figure, who didn't budge an inch. Goho...Goho! Father! That got his attention, and he jerked up, rubbing his face in embarrassment. "I told you to wake me up if I started napping, it's very em-" Nevermind that, Father. Pray tell, what the hell type of flower is that over there? She was hoping for a nonchalant answer, that it was just some flower she never heard of...but no. Confusion washed over Goho's face, and he blinked as if it might become more obvious. Indeed, even before all heck came loose, she already knew it was no normal flower.

 

The ground cracked, and it was a good thing she was already up, as even in her blurry vision she spotted figures tumble into the new and yawning abyss. She was there in an instant, back legs wheeling in the air as three of her limbs were occupied by wriggling, shrieking humans. Stop! Stop, please! She mentally howled at them, but it only seemed to spur them into a more intense panic, and her remaining claws started to slip. She tossed one person up...another...her back legs were wheeling in thin air...and the last human was safe on mostly solid ground. She could see Goho rushing forward, not to check up on the rescued people, but to her. Here, she knew the tickle in her chest was pride at such a Father...but it was too late. She felt the ground crumble, and suddenly she was falling, heart beating painfully in her throat. She heard a yell from up above. It was ok, Father...she would climb back up, that was possible.

 

Thank whoever was watching over her in the moment, but the fall was shorter than expected, even if she heard rather than felt something in her chest give way. @#%$! Her mind transmitted to anyone who would hear, fading into progressively weaker profanities before she was just transmitting her pain for all to hear. Speaking of hearing, she was clearly in a cavern of some kind, given the way a sort of buzzing itched her ears. It smelled sweet too, odd. She took a gasping breath, concluding that since it was just burning pain, rather than agony, that she was still fairly fit to move. 

 

She didn't crawl up right away, swiveling her head and almost drowning in the sweet smell she was already so sick of. At the strongest, she started forward. Secretly, she was rather glad to be in the dark, an environment she clearly progressed better in. Her travel was not for long, scarcely a mile into the tunnels, she emerged into a cloud of scent. No, she was seeing a cloud! A cloud of buzzing bugs swarmed around the caverns, smearing heat signatures around until she nearly gave up on using sight entirely to navigate. The flowers were here too, and their pollen coated the bugs, which by now she could see were bees, which tended to the flowers with almost religious fevor.

 

It did not take a genius to tell the flowers had affected the bees, they were nearly half her size.

 

She started to open her mouth, venom dribbling from her fangs. Who knew what would happen if the flowers led the bees outside? Everyone was likely waiting outside, for her. Goho...Father was there. He'd be the first to go if they burst out. She couldn't, wouldn't let that happen. And she roared, frill flying open so her head resembled some monstrous serpent. All attention in the tunnels were hers now, she could still hear the sound echoing as the...hive, she know realized, rushed to their precious flower's defense. She could see their furious stingers, and the dead look in their pollen filled eyes, but she was ready.

 

The fighting was brutal, and deadly serious. A bee splattered into goo as she rammed it heavily into the wall, whirling around in time to smash another into the rock ground. They didn't hesitate, flying straight into her claws. In their numbers, it didn't take much to slip by her defenses and stab into her flank. Her scales radiated pain, yellow peppered her flank and her frill was a bloody scarlet. She seized her attacker in her jaws, gagging at the sweet taste and flinging it into the advancing horde. Of course, there were more...always more.

 

How long she stood her ground, tearing through the bees like paper, she didn't know. She only knew that once she turned around once more, teeth bared in anticipation of the next attack...there was none. The sweet smell burned her nose, coming from the bisected and torn bees, none moved, all that were left were the softly beautiful flowers. Nothing a little bit of spat venom couldn't clear up, and in a few minutes, nothing was left alive in that chamber but herself...and that's when the pain of her injuries kicked in. Everyone was safe, the bees wouldn't harm anybody, and she was fairly certain the bee mutating flowers were all gone, but now she hurt like hell. She was literally coated in blood, unable to tell where her red scales and the scarlet liquid began...she wanted to go home.

 

Her trek and climb back was fairly uneventful, but took over twice as long as she paused and caught her breath. This was so stupid! Moronic! It was her rest day with Father! Who the hell made those stupid flowers!? She was nearly fuming as she emerged, dragging two of her six limbs, and then the anger fizzled out as something collided with her chest and stayed clinging there. Hi Father...I took kinda long, sorry. Is everybody-oh...dammit. Journalists crowded around her already pounding head, holding notepads to accommodate her purely mental communication and clearly drawn to the near disaster that had happened here, and she somehow felt more in danger with them rather than the life-and-death battle she had just endured as they questioned her on what happened down there.

 

The Bees, she answered, curling her lips back, Those @#$%&*@ Bees! No more questions, they could draw their own conclusions from that.

 

She and Father were going home for today.

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