Okay, okay, I really need to stop vanishing like this, but life, ah life, she is a fickle mistress. So let's get this out of the way again: I AM NOT DEAD. WHAT IS DEAD (INSIDE) MAY NEVER DIE! Cough. Er-hem. Right.
Apologies for the long hiatus. Between writing the sequel for my novel, getting hospitalized for acute chest syndrome and ridiculously stupid family drama involving an extended family member's true sexual orientation being outed, these past few months have been hectic. On the upside, I'm no longer the black sheep of my family, so I suppose that's going well for me. (Atheist -} Gay. Christian logic. Isn't it great?)
I want to thank everyone who purchased a copy of my book, Janus and Oblivion, you guys mean the fucking world to me and I mean it. Every little bit has helped me get further and further away from the general insanity of life, and now I'm looking towards actually being able to share rent with a roommate for the first time in my life. I'm doing my best to make sure that the sequel doesn't disappoint, and will be far better and larger than the first book.
I'd also like to give one hell of a shout out to everyone who reads and enjoys my work, here I started writing edgy stuff to get away from shitty reality, and to my surprise, the things I wrote and thought about were actually enjoyed by others. You guys are the real MVPs!
So before I reveal any more information that people could probably use to track me, here's the latest chapter of DC - Remastered Edition. Trigger warnings apply and what-not, but come on, we all know what to expect by now don't we?
Let's go ~!
She wanted to be anywhere else but here.
Sitting in an air-conditioned limousine, complete with a bar and Jacuzzi, being driven around by a roguishly good-looking butler. It was ironic, really. A week ago the only way she'd have had this experience was if she was leeching off some fat prick, metaphorically and literally, who wanted to spend his money on women because he lacked the sufficient social skills to land a suitable date. She would have had zero qualms about the appearance of the man, as long as both the money, and the eventual sex was good. The plus side came with the prick's wristwatch and wallet to which she would pawn off to Old Man Rick who wise courteous enough to never ask her where the items originated came from.
She wanted to be anywhere else but here.
Ironic, really. There was no fat prick to leech off on right now. The stocked mini-fridge was hers to do with as she pleased, the butler driving the vehicle was assigned a task to listen to her whims, albeit reluctantly. He seemed more intent on killing her than driving her around, what with his odd white hair, pale visage and oddly Asian-esque features. He was dedicated, that was for certain, and she couldn't exactly claim that his anger was misplaced.
She wanted to be anywhere else but here.
Opening the mini-fridge, she was glad to find herself some liquor. Not the cheap, piss-poor quality booze she'd get some unlucky shmuck to buy her after a casual smile and unbuttoning the top of her shirt. Not the half-decent drinks Purity, Ecstacy and Virility would scrounge together and purchase to celebrate a hard day's work. It was the good stuff. The expensive stuff. Brand names she once remembered seeing in her father's cabinet, lined up in shelves, the type that her brother used to sneak off and drink while doing his best to imitate tasting connoisseurs with an obnoxious French accent that was mangled with Spanish and Italian.
She grabbed the champagne bottle. Three times she untwisted the cork and filled the limo with the familiar pop of celebratory cheer. Like that one night, she remembered. The night she and the girls partied so hard she woke up in a prison cell. Her assumptions had been that she slashed some perv's tire, or maybe she was passed out naked in the middle of a park again. It hadn't been any of that. No, it was just time finally catching up to her. Just fate, once more patting her cheeks and telling her that the road of her life was out of commission.
She didn't bother with a glass as she downed the champagne. It chilled her mouth and burned at the back of her throat. Strong. Coughing twice, she wiped away the excess from her lips with the back of her hand and squinted as she looked at the brand name. LEGACY. Fifty three percent alcohol content. That was new. She was certain she'd never seen this particular brand before. Considering her relationship with liquor, it meant it was new. Or, at least, something that was new in the frame of the sixteen years she'd magically leapt into the future.
A snort escaped her at the thought. Her gaze idly turned by to the landscape, to the world, zooming by. She knew for certain that this was the future. They'd passed by a park, and there were children, actually playing on the swings. There were fancy cars parked in places where they should have been jacked and stripped of every single ornament, down to the decorative paint. People were bustling left and right with some sort of vigor or purpose, as if they had something to actually look forward too.
It wasn't as she knew it. Nothing was as she remembered it. Even the traffic was abysmal, as if a large population of the city decided to move elsewhere. Or perhaps that was it? The reason there were more skyscrapers up and about and even more under construction, the reason there were an increasing amount of shiny new buildings, vehicles, and roads being developed was that all the assholes left, and only the ones that genuinely cared about the city remained.
Again, a snort escaped her at the thought. She held the champagne bottle close to her, and gulped down another long, hard swig. People who cared about the city. She'd belonged to that classification, once upon a time. Her father did as well. In the end, the love they had for the city didn't do fuck-all. The city was a parasitic leech, sucking and taking and taking, demanding more, and no matter how much you gave it, it was never enough. Once you'd given it your all, it'd discard you and move on to someone else foolish enough to do the same.
A third time, she took a swig. The warmth in her chest and building onto her face told her that the alcohol content warning on the drink was utter bullshit. She couldn't remember the last time she got tipsy from just three swigs of some bloody champagne.
The limo came to a stop. She could see the giant signboard indicating an entrance to some sort of shopping mall. Legendary Malls. What was up with that word being everywhere? Legend this, legend that, legacy this – where were the good ol' Wayne signboards? Sixteen years surely wasn't enough to make them go bankrupt. Even she couldn't see how they'd lost all that fortune in less than two decades.
"We've arrived, Mistress Eva."
At the very least, the Butler's tone was cordial. She would like to claim that she was scared of him, but really, she wasn't. Just startled. It wasn't everyday someone spoke and you felt gravity command your ass to kiss the ground. As far as threats went, however, she would admit that his was the most unique. Compared to the druggies who'd put a knife on her throat, the gangbangers who cocked a pistol against her skull, the mafia cronies who'd whip out their fisticuffs and belts, or just the random thug who'd try to corner her and argue that you can't rape someone who has sex for money, the Butler did a very good job with his threat. She'd rate him an A+.
Her side door opened, and he stood, in that two-tailed coat with excellently spiffing white gloves, complete with the chauffeur's hat, if it weren't for his utterly emotionless expression, she'd almost believe she was in the care of a perfect gentleman.
Getting out of the limo, she took in the light of the sun's glare. She could have sworn that Gotham City and the clouds had a blood-pact never to abandon each other. The city was always cloudy. Always murky. The summers were barely hot enough to justify skinny-dipping, and the winters were always freezing enough to contemplate self-immolation. What month was it anyway? October? September? It felt like it.
"We're at Legendary Malls," the Butler said. "A high-end shopping district. As Master Zack owns the property, you may purchase anything you wish. Within reason."
She could almost see him policing her with his gaze. It was endearing, in a way, that Zack found someone like him. Someone loyal. Perhaps, if the Butler was female, Zack wouldn't have come up to her with his notion. He wouldn't have seen the need to say or do what he did. Things would have been so much easier.
"What would you like to purchase first?"
There was only one thing to really answer to that. With budget being a non-issue, as much as she would like to explore gowns and shoes, there was only one thing she wanted first. "Lingerie."
He didn't even blink. Wow. Either he possessed extremely good control over his emotions, he was asexual. "This way, to the frivolous undergarments session."
Her lips twitched at the comment. Perhaps he did have a sense of humor. She couldn't really tell. With the whole, condemning her and threatening to kill her thing, she hadn't gotten the chance to even know anything about him. What did Zack say his name was again?
The Butler was already moving, and she followed him. He walked at a pace that wasn't exactly brisk, but wasn't exactly slow either. Catching and matching his stride was somewhat of a challenge, and there was no way that it wasn't intentional.
"How many girlfriends does Zack have?"
His stride did not falter for a second. "None."
She already figured that was the answer to the question. Clearly he wouldn't be… romantically invested in her if he had other paramours. She walked and fired off her next question as fast as she could. "How many has he had?"
She wasn't happy to hear that. "Why?"
The Butler's stride did not falter, but it did slow. Just a bit. "Master Zack had far more important things to do. Building his empire and progressing towards his ultimate goal. Relationships were not a priority."
She nodded her head. "So Zacky couldn't find anyone he liked, or anyone that liked him."
The Butler seemed as if he wanted to deny it. She could tell. His stride slowed a bit more until she was able to match him without trying. "Master Zack is focused on his goals. Grand to which the mind of numerous feeble humans are unable to comprehend. The breadth of his plans will exceed centuries in time, and the width shall surpass the edges of the universe in scale. No mortal lifespan will be enough, so no mortal partners suitable. Few mortals have the capability to commit or devote themselves wholly to a plan that is not theirs, for an amount of time that is not defined, and for a purpose that they cannot understand."
There he went, using terms like feeble humans and mortals. It sounded as though he were not human himself. Of course, it was entirely unlikely. Here she was, sixteen years into future, where aliens flew in the sky in skin-tight clothing, so why should non-human beings be a surprise?
"So, Zack has remained alone because he doesn't believe there's anyone who'll be with him to complete his goals?"
The Butler gave her a sidelong glance as they approached the security checkpoint. The men and women stationed there were wearing black and orange uniforms with LEGEND INDUSTRIES strewed across the back and sewn into logos on the short sleeves. He gave them a glance, and at once, they let them approach without having to go through the metal detectors. It made her wonder just how far Zack's influence went in the city.
"When you humans undergo your ritual of bonding, you swear a vow with the words 'till death do us part'." The Butler said. "A significant percentage of you renege on those words less than half a decade after uttering them. Those who do not, still anticipate the expiration of that contract in the form of the termination of your existence."
The automatic doors swung open. "Master Zack has no desire to ever terminate his existence. Hence, to be with him is to contemplate a contract that does not, will not, and shall never expire. Not even in the wake of the entropy of the universe or the cessation of reality itself. A contract, which stipulates 'to eternity and infinity, across time and space.'"
She couldn't imagine it. She couldn't even envision it. She'd been alive for only twenty-one years, and she certainly could not picture engaging in a relationship with one person and being loyal to that one person, for not ten years, not fifty years, not a hundred years, not a thousand years, not a hundred thousand years, but forever.
"You," the word was filled with disdain. "Are clearly lacking that conviction. You do not have a smidge of it. Merely another one of the many reasons you are, and will forever be, unfit for Master Zack."
She didn't want to be fit for him. She didn't want to be his partner. She didn't feel anything for him. Not sexually, and she'd never had any maternal instincts so she couldn't tell him that she felt something for him as a mother.
It was different, when he was a young, cute, smart baby walking around, saying and doing things that no one his age had any right to say or do. It was scary at times, but endearing. Adorable. He was small enough to cuddle right beside her like a teddy-bear, and make her forget a day of assholes doing and saying asshole things just because she used her body to make a living and liked it.
She could have told him the truth from the start. She should have told him the truth from the start. Except he kept repeating those damn three words and being so corny –
What was she supposed to do? Turn him down? Break the heart of someone who bloody time-travelled sixteenyears into the past just to bring her into his life? What would she do if he decided to kick her out? She didn't know anyone in this future-Gotham. She didn't know anything about how the world was. She didn't have any money, wasn't sure if the roads and streets and signs were all still the same. At best, she'd find herself standing on the side of the road in a tight skirt to make some cash, only to be arrested or realize that no one patronized that sort of thing anymore. At worst, her ignorance would finally be her undoing as only god knew what would happen to her in this crazy new world.
"The lingerie store."
They came to a stop in front of their destination. Women's underwear hung on plain mannequins unabashedly, visible through the windows with the fancy sign of: Elizabeth's Secrets emblazoned above the store. That wasn't what caught her eye, however. Rather, it was the sparseness of the place. People were moving back and forth, but nearly everyone seemed to huddle and gather in front of what seemed to be an electronics ship, standing and whispering back and forth amidst themselves.
She pointed. "Is that… normal?"
"Perhaps there is some trivial matter going on that has caught the public eye," the Butler said.
She was curious to know what it was. She was already ignorant of many things in this strange future, and the best way to stop being ignorant was to learn. Approaching the huddled mass of people, she could hear the Butler slightly mutter something underneath his breath. She ignored him and approached, scanning the brief crowd for a young man and tapping him on his shoulder.
The man turned, clearly irritated at being disturbed. She watched his irritation melt away as he took in her features. Then came the customary three seconds of dumbstruck expression she received when meeting most people for the first time. When they drank in her physical appearance and realized they either wanted to be her or be in her.
"Hello," she said. "I saw the crowd and was wondering what's going on."
He stumbled over words for a few seconds. "O-of course!" clearing his throat. "It – it – er, everyone's watching the news –"
The news? Had the news magically become engrossing enough to stop people from shopping and have them huddle up in a crowd to talk? "Good news or bad news?"
The man's face fell. "Unbelievable news."
She turned her gaze unto the screen, and blinked as she saw words that she never believed she would see in her lifetime.
EX-BILLIONARE BRUCE WAYNE PLEADS GUILTY – IS THE WAYNE REIGN OVER?
The words struck her, and her lips opened into a small laugh. She shook her head, turning away from the store with an odd sense of disbelief. Who would ever imagine a future where the Waynes were no longer in charge of Gotham? A future where a Wayne was on trial and sentenced to prison?
She wanted to be anywhere else but here.
~DC – Remastered Edition ~
"Hurry Kara!" she roared over the wind.
"I'm already going as fast as I can!"
Flying in Supergirl's arms was not her preferred method of transportation. The wind howled into her face and her hair would be a frazzled mess when she landed, but there was no time to waste. Fuddling with her communicator, it took concentrated effort to grab it in her hands and not let it slip as they soared across the sky. "Dick! Listen, I know you're still mad at Bruce, but we need you back in Gotham! I'm on my way there!"
She'd barely sent the message before the image of a Red-R appeared on the screen, another person communicating. "You've seen the news."
"Everyone has seen the news, Tim!"
"What was he thinking? Why did he plead guilty?"
She knew the answer to that question. "Because… it's Bruce." Technically, he was guilty. No, it was not even on a technicality. While it was true that the Wayne Enterprises were created by the Waynes, it did not give the right for a major shareholder, yet alone the CEO, to surreptitiously add lines in budget plans and documents that the other shareholders were unaware of. It was illegal to take a massive amount of funds from the company, and justify it as minor miscellaneous expenses.
The Watchtower was funded majorly by Wayne Industries. The gadgets they used, the technology they employed to fight crime, and most of the high-tech weaponry and utilities were all funded directly from hidden lines upon lines that very few people were even aware existed. No matter how much she respected Bruce and understood the importance of those funds, what he did was still considered embezzlement.
"It's Bruce. You know why he had to Tim."
"He could have mounted a suitable defense."
"Tim, Bruce can't lie on the stand."
"If he did –"
"If he did he wouldn't be Bruce, Tim!"
That was the truth. If Bruce pleaded not-guilty and the case went to trial, he would be placed under oath to explain where those funds vanished to. At that point he had two options: commit perjury by lying to the court and the whole world, or telling the truth, and revealing his secret identity. A mix of a lie and the truth wasn't feasible. It wouldn't be Bruce Wayne if he did the very thing criminals did and lied under oath. She didn't want that to happen. She didn't want to see the Bruce Wayne she knew… change his uncompromising morals.
"I can hear the wind rushing. Where are you?"
"Kara's flying me over to Gotham. I'll be there in a few minutes."
The question stunned her. "What do you mean what for? Bruce is going to jail!"
"Are you planning on breaking him out?"
Breaking him out? A jailbreak? One of the very things she hated criminals doing, reducing the justice system to a farce of itself by constantly having criminals escape time and again with the aid of outside assistance. Was she going to do that, now? Why, because it was Bruce? She wanted to argue that it was different and Bruce wasn't a criminal and didn't deserve to be locked up, but wouldn't that just be special pleading?
"No – I – I'm not."
"Do you have a plan to overturn the jury's decision?"
She grit her teeth. "Damn it Tim! I'm thinking of something! What's wrong with you? Shouldn't you also be thinking–"
"I have been thinking Barb," Tim's voice went low. "All I've done for the past few weeks is think. Think and think and think. You don't get it. You haven't seen it. You left Gotham after the prison break. You haven't seen what it is now, how much… better it's been. I never thought it'd ever be this… beautiful Barb. I fought, we fought, to accomplish the dream of making it something better. Now, it's everything I've dreamed of, no, it's better than everything I've dreamed of. " Tim's voice cracked. "And it hurts. It hurts Barb. It hurts that nothing we did was responsible for making things better. Nothing. No – just one man with deep pockets and a private army. One. Man."
"That – that's not true and you know it! We've saved people's lives, Tim! We've stopped people from dying, we've – we've made a difference…" her words sounded hollow even to her own ears. "We – we –"
"We were fighting the symptoms of the disease Barb. We never touched the cause. Dreyer has."
"We – we can still –"
"Barb, we've lost." Tim's voice was hollow. "Dreyer isn't a villain. We can't arrest him because he hasn't committed any crimes. There's nothing we can do against him, and if we're planning on sabotaging the one person who managed to make Gotham City feel livable again after The Consultant sent things to hell, then we might as well hang up our costumes and join Bruce in Blackgate."
Her lips were dry. "Tim. You don't… you don't mean that."
"I'm sorry Barb. I know you must feel it too."
Her heart buried itself in her throat. The coldness of her palms and tightness of her lungs made it hard to breathe. For the longest time, she, and her dad, and Bruce – they threw their all into making the city a better place. They trained daily, risked life and limb, broke bones, bled, suffered and toiled all for the belief that they were making a difference. The belief that because of them, a husband would make it to his wife, a woman would walk the street without fear, and one didn't have to find themselves stabbed over the loose change in a thin wallet.
They wanted to believe they were making a difference. Yet, crime rates weren't dropping significantly. They'd dip once or twice, but return back to their averages. More and more criminals came out of the woodwork, each more dangerous or more psychotic than the last. Criminals tossed into prison ended up back on the streets within months due to a ridiculous level of prison breaks. They would fight and re-capture these criminals, and on and on the cycle continued, seemingly without end.
Then the Consultant arrived and killed every last gang in the city. Every petty thug or inexperienced mafia recruit, every major organized crime boss and drug-pusher. Those left were too scared to go back to crime. A criminal, a mass murderer, a potential rapist and he'd effectively done what Batman had started out to do with his dark cowl and approaches of intimidation and fear.
How was that fair?
And Dreyer came, sweeping in on the tragedy, reeling in on the shock and using it to transform the City into something else. Helping people, providing safe places for people. Telling people, you are your own hero. Now the same people they dedicated their lives and fought to save were boycotting them. Telling them to leave. Telling them they were unwanted.
How was it fair?
"Barbara, are you okay?"
Kara's voice was almost lost with the wind. The police commissioner's daughter forced herself to nod. Forced herself to open her mouth and speak. "I'm fine."
"Your blood pressure and heart rate are –"
"It's just the adrenaline."
"Barb? You there?"
"Legend Industries bought out everything owned by Wayne Enterprises once Bruce's stocks fell. As things are, we might lose the Wayne Manor. Bruce's contingency plan for in case that were ever to happen –"
"That won't happen." That would be the final nail in the coffin. "What – what about the Justice League? They can help –"
"They're still fighting the Spectre in Africa."
She grit her teeth. Why? Why now? "Then we – if we can meet with Dreyer and talk to him, explain things to him –"
"I'm done Barb."
"Tim, listen to me, we can still –"
She stared at her communication device. The lump in her throat grew as she attempted to reconnect, only to receive the automated female voice message: "The line you are attempting to connect with is no longer reachable."
"Damn it Tim!"
"The line you are attempting to connect with is no longer reachable."
"You can't do this Tim! This – we can't just leave Bruce to rot in jail! You stupid, stubborn, ungrateful little –"
"The line you are attempting to connect with is no longer reachable."
She bit down on her lower-lip, almost grinding it. How could he? How could he just give up? They were just supposed to accept it? Accept that they'd lost? Accept that Bruce would serve jail-time for trying his damned hardest to make the world a better place? How could he? How could he?
"Barb… we're almost there. You… you might want to see this."
"What? We're flying over the city, what could –" her breath hitched.
Skyscrapers that towered into the sky. Clean, crisp air that almost had a scented tint of freshly baked bread. Large fields overrun with solar panels and giant white windmills nonchalantly moving in tandem with the morning breeze. Zero traffic. Zero smog. Zero clouds. One hundred percent positive energy.
"Kara, what are we doing in Metropolis?"
"Barb… this is Gotham."
No. No way. This wasn't just beautiful. This was impossible. Impossible. You couldn't transform Gotham City from a hell-hole to a paradise in a matter of weeks. You couldn't. Ignoring the logistics, the politics, the red tape and bureaucracy, it took years – years – of fighting, and struggle and sweat and blood and tears just to make it one percent less terrible. You couldn't use a couple of weeks to turn it into this.
They landed on the giant "H" symbol of a Wayne Towers helipad, and she hit the ground running, gritting her teeth as she ignored Kara's call and took a good look of what had become of her home.
The cars moving smoothly through thin traffic, an electric bullet-train soaring overhead on the railways, the legionnaire vehicles and bikes patrolling the streets in tandem with the police, the giant electronic billboards on massive buildings providing a Tokyo-esque feel to the city, the people riding on bicycles and using expensive sports cars as taxis –
Then, on those billboards, a blonde-haired man with a dashing smile stood, his hand extended towards a group of people, the words written in bold: YOU ARE YOUR OWN HERO. Underneath it, in smaller font, were more words: GOTHAM – THE CITY OF LEGENDS.
"This… is Gotham."
Even after speaking the words, it was hard to believe them. Harder still to look upon this developing, advanced marvel of a city and believe that it was the same place she grew up as a little girl, wary about walking down an empty street at night and clutching her pepper spray for reassurance.
"Barb… what are you going to do now?"
Staring at another signboard, a large blinking red 'X' crossed on the symbol of a bat, and the words underneath GOTHAM SAYS NO TO VIGILANTES! Barbara Gordon laughed an empty, forced laugh, before she buried her face into her hands.
"I don't know."
~~~DC – Remastered Edition ~~~
Exclusive VIP Lounge
His patience was running thin with the Jezebel. There she sat, frivolously celebrating the adornments of relatively worthless-but-valuable metals that decorated her neck and fingers, oohing and ahhing as she put on several human garments of varying lengths and tightness while preening in front of a mirror like a male peacock displaying it's plumage.
"Oh, this gown looks lovely! But I can't decide if I should take the black one or the red one…" the Jezebel suddenly smacked herself on the side of the head. "Oh silly me! I forgot, I can actually afford both!"
"Oui, mademoiselle," the faux-French speaking attendant responded. "Is there anything else you would like to add?"
"Monsieur, a lady needs a proper pair of shoes to match her outfit does she not?"
"As you wish mademoiselle, we have the finest collection of –"
He cleared his throat.
"The finest collection of –"
A second time he cleared his throat. The attendant's gaze landed on him, and like the feeble-minded human he was, his life flashed before his eyes a thousand times as a fraction of killing intent entered the air. Jittering, losing his footing and remembering his place, the being stumbled on the words that would excuse himself from the presence of a superior being. "I – er, excuse me mademoiselle, n-nature calls."
The man shuffled out of the room at a speed that resembled a human hurdle-racer. The door slammed shut behind him, and a casual movement of his finger ensured that the key turned and prevented entry… or exit.
The Jezebel let out a sigh as she reached for what was her third bottle of exquisite alcohol in the past six hours, plopped down against the pink leather sitting-furniture and greedily imbibed the material that was known to lead to the destruction of an organ humans required to properly function.
"I was wondering when you'd finally ruin my fun."
"Have you forgotten our agreement?"
The Jezebel took another swing of her alcohol, before crossing her legs as she sighed, her pink cheeks smiling in bliss at the jewels adorning her fingers. "Did you know? I used to hate jewelry when I was younger. I felt golden bangles and diamond necklaces were just fancy handcuffs and dog-collars. Mama said I'd get used to wearing them." She snorted out loud. "You have to look like a presentable lady Eva! She'd say to me. All dolled up and beautiful, ready to be the next piece played in papa's political game."
"That is not the answer I required."
"Did Zack ever tell you about how I became this way?" She swayed the bottle in her hand left to right. "Carmine Falcone killed my family. My brothers – Zack's uncles – Diego and Miguel. My mama, Luciana, and my papa…" she let out a dry snort. "I loved them. They were my family. They were my family and I loved them. Miguel was asthmatic, but he was so bone-headed that he'd smoke cigars in front of papa's men just so they wouldn't think he was weak. He joined track and field, running his hardest and winning a competition, only to collapse wheezing. I remember him with an oxygen mask on as we sat in the back of the ambulance on the way to the hospital. I called him an idiot and he'd smile at me. Smile because it was his way to say fuck you to the world. He was an idiot. A stupid, lovable idiot."
She laughed. "And Diego? He was smoother than butter on a champagne bottle. He could charm the pants off anyone. I mean anyone. Papa hated him for that. I remember laughing when the priest that'd been invited to 'pray the gay away' was found naked in Diego's room. My mother didn't find it funny. I thought it was hilarious at the time." She took another swig of her alcohol. "I'd sit in on his bed with him and his boyfriend Juan while he did my hair, and Juan did my nails. We talked about everything from boys to sex. Miguel would walk in and Juan would creep him out by making kissing faces. They'd trade barbs and come up with stuff so crude and vulgar it'd have me beet red and covering my face with a pillow and trying not to die of embarrassment."
She swished the contents of her liquor bottle back and forth, staring at it with almost half-glazed eyes. He could tell from the fluctuating emotions he felt in the woman. The emotions that his master desperately desired from her but could not get. When speaking about her brothers – his master's uncles – there was something there.
"You never told Master Zack any of this."
Her shoulders rose and dropped. "It never came up. It's not like I ever sat down and talked about my life with him. Not like I wanted to remember my life before all of this."
She gestured to herself, gesturing to the bottle. "Zack says he loves me as I am? That's fucked. I don't fucking love me as I am. This – this fucking thing –" she slammed the alcohol on the table. "I need this so I don't remember. So at least, when I sleep, I don't dream of my mother choking on three cocks while my brothers lay on the ground with their heads bashed open. So I don't have dreams of my father's final moments, and his begging voice – please, not my Luciana. Please – please – please, please, not my Luciana."
The jeze- woman, laughed a barking laugh. "I never got it. Those men, while they fucked my mother, they looked so fucking happy. They smiled like it was the best thing they'd ever done. I don't get it. When I had sex for the first time, I didn't get what all the hype was about. I just remembered facing a wall while the fucker jackhammered away and grunted. It wasn't magical. It wasn't special. I thought maybe it was because I'd done it with the wrong person. So I found another person. It was the same. So I went on. And on. And on. Faking moans and sounds just so the men would think they'd done something and wouldn't come back looking for me to pick up their broken egos once they realized I couldn't feel anything from them. I haven't felt anything in a long, long time."
She was not lying. She was not lying and it irritated him. He possessed memories of Master Zack's younger years. Excellent memories of them. He never focused on the lovemaking sessions of the jeze-woman in the memories for obvious reasons, but playing them back in his mind, slowly, meticulously –
Perfectly timed moans at recurrent intervals. Similar reactions and lines across multiple partners. The exact phrases used when the deed was done. The exact lines used before the deed occurred. The same bored apathy that occurred following each climax. One would easily look at those things and mistake them as symptoms of excessive desire for sex.
It wasn't. It slipped his notice. No, not that it slipped his notice, they were things that were only obvious when one knew the signs to look for. The reverse-psychology of it, of disguising apathy with fervor – no one would have noticed it.
Not even himself.
"And the reason you are telling me this?"
"I want to know why those men were so fucking happy. Why I've never felt that happiness. I've searched and I've searched, I've slept with so many guys it's a miracle I'm not dead from STDs, day in and day out – no matter what, no matter how, no matter where or when – I've never gotten it. That – that happiness. That twisted smile."
The Butler was silent. Staring at the mortal woman before him, the emptiness in her eyes, the bitterness in her tone, the swiveling mix of guilt-confusion-hate-desire that swiveled in her chest. "Why are you telling me?"
"Can you imagine if I told anyone else?" she snorted. "They'd tell me I'm sick. They'd tell me I need therapy. They'd tell me that what I feel isn't normal. That wanting to know or understand why a group of fuckers found it so fun to fuck my mother to death isn't normal. I don't care about that. I just want to know. I want to get into their heads. I want to understand."
Sadism. Schadenfreude. Desire. Humans resorting to their basic nature as wild, savage beasts. The allure of having power of an inferior being. These were answers he could have easily given her. Yet, these answers would have been too simple. Too one dimensional.
"H-h-hey – what are you doi-"
Effortlessly dragging the woman out of the VIP room and back into the open area of Legendary Malls, he crossed his arms and gestured the moving pedestrian shoppers. "Select a target."
"Select? I – I don't understand –"
"You want to know why those men had that glee? Then select a target."
"I can't just –"
"I am spending valuable time I could be utilizing to further Master Zack's goals here, entertaining the misconceptions derived from your childhood tragedy. Do not make me repeat myself a third time. Select a target, now."
She flinched, her hand rapidly going straight towards the first random male that caught her eye. "Him."
The man was scraggly, but not aesthetically displeasing by human standards. Garbed in casual shirt and shorts, with thick bushy black hair and a small stubble, the passerby's fate was decided the second he had been selected.
Slapping his hands, he summoned up his Master's power. "ID Create."
Gone was the shopping complex and pedestrians. Gone was the lights, the noises, the bustle and hustle of people. A space of darkness and a floor of glimmering tiles replacing it, the only three denizens in the pocket dimension being himself, the woman, and the target.
"Wha – what the hell is going on?"
The target flicked his head left and right, his heart was beating faster, blood and adrenaline pumping through his body at an accelerated rate. The scent of fear wafted off him like thick fat boar placed into a burning fire. "In this space," he told the woman. "Anything you ask for you can have. Any desire you wish for will happen. Any statement you make will become true. You are god. Now do as a god does."
He erased his existence from the room following his declaration. As far as both mortals were aware, they were the only two beings in the tiny space provided, and that was entirely his decision.
"Hey! Wait! Butler! Um… fuck, I don't even know your name!"
"W-who – who are you talking to?" the target said. "Did you do this?"
The woman cursed underneath her breath. "No – I just – I mean –"
"A-are you some sort of supervillain or something? Listen – I don't have much money – and – and if you kidnap me, no one's going to pay any ransom money –"
"A supervillain? Look – just be quiet for a minute I'm trying to think –"
The target's mouth slammed shut with an audible clack. His eyes went wide as he grabbed at his lips, trying to force them to open. "Mmmph – mmmmph!"
"Oh my god," she covered her mouth with her hand. "I didn't mean – I mean, you can talk –"
The target's mouth opened, and he scrambled backwards. "You – you did this! Who – who are you? Please – I – I have a family –"
"I'm not going to hurt you –"
"Let me out of here! Let – let me out!"
"I don't know how! Just calm down let me –"
The target froze. His eyes relaxed. They ceased their panic. His frantic movements fell into a state of ease as his shoulders dropped. "Calm…"
The woman swore. "Oh fuck! That wasn't what I –"
"Fuck…" The man took several steps, and lunged.
"What? NO! Stop!"
The target stopped moving. He stood, motionless and silent. Blank eyes stared out into the abyss, and once more, the woman cursed underneath her breath. "Can you – go back to normal?"
"What… is… normal…?"
The Butler watched the proceedings, taking note of the time. The woman attempted to revert the target to his 'default' state, only for that to fail. Attempting to revert him to 'himself' failed as well, leaving the target standing in a plain space with all the emotional range and intelligence of a robot.
Thirty minutes of nothingness and the woman began to complain, to call out for him to take her out of this place. One hour later and she sat on the floor, grumbling and muttering about the insanity of it all. Three hours later and she realized she could materialize objects into the room. Alcohol was the first. Cigarettes were the second. A chair came in third. Neither telephones nor televisions worked within the space, and she discarded them soon after. Magazines were all blank and lacking in pictures, and she discarded them too. There was little she could do for amusement, little to do to pass the time. The target remained standing, motionless until given a command. At the four hour mark, as her face began to redden from intoxication, she gave her first command.
"Can you do a funny dance?"
The target imitated a monkey, making gestures and movements for the woman's amusement. Things continued in that pattern, for several hours. Dance, sing, do stunts, amuse me. The amusement stage continued until it reached a particular peak moment.
"I don't understand how any of this is supposed to make me understand. I just wanted to know what it feels like to –"The woman stopped talking. She stared at herself, at her body, and then stared at the target. "Swap genders."
A man's body was odd. The lack of weight on her chest didn't feel right. The sensation of something dangling between her legs was foreign. Musculature however, was amazing. She felt strong. She felt… powerful.
Then there was the sight of the 'woman' in front of her. Something felt wrong. Something should have been wrong. As far as she knew, she wasn't bisexual. Sure she'd toyed around and experimented here and there, but she wasn't interested in women. Yet, the mere sight of one sent something burning and primal through her. Something ached, and she felt it in between 'her' legs. Most and all other thoughts didn't matter except getting rid of the burning. Images popped into her mind, hundreds upon thousands, and without her own understanding, she found herself taking several steps forward.
The events that proceeded where confusing, even to her. It was different, as a man. If anything, it was simultaneously more and less overwhelming. There were too little erogenous zones to be stimulated. Though the desire burned, and that single part burned, the rest of the body did not deliver the same sensations.
The difference wasn't in the gender. No, if anything, sex as a man was far less pleasurable than sex as a woman. The difference came at the sight of confusion in the stranger's eyes, as 'she' had chosen that exact moment to regain her senses. The confusion at being a woman, and the further confusion at being a woman pinned down by a man.
"She" couldn't even struggle. The difference in physical strength was baffling. The barest minimum effort, was needed, and, at that moment, at realizing that the 'man' beneath her couldn't struggle and fight back, a laugh escaped her lips.
A laugh escaped her lips as her hips slammed forward, and all at once, the understanding dawned.
It isn't the sex. It was never about the sex.
The action of pounding back and forth was boring and tedious. She didn't enjoy it in the slightest. No, it wasn't the grating action of the sex that had made those men smile in the manner they'd did. It wasn't that sex was the amazing thing that'd given them glee.
It was the power.
The power. The power. Holding power over something. Someone. That was why she laughed. It was funny, watching someone try to struggle against you. People had always said that bullying was for those with low self-esteem and family issues, that bullying would take you nowhere. But the truth was the opposite. Bullies understood power. Bullies understood the social dynamics. They would climb up, rapidly, in environments were the understanding and utilization of those dynamics was the difference between success and failure.
All along she had it wrong. She had it wrong. Gods for so fucking long she had it wrong. This stupid feeling of power and control was intoxicating. Intoxicating.
She wanted – she wanted –
"I believe that is all we have time for today."
The 'woman' underneath her vanished. The cock and balls vanished and a familiar weight rested on her chest once more. The room was gone. The silence was gone. Instead, she was standing back in the middle of the shopping mall, and the man she'd picked was scratching his head, looking like someone lost. He shrugged, twice, before walking away, continuing his shopping as if he was not just previously a woman underneath her –
The Butler stood beside her, crossing his arms, his expression as unreadable as ever. Something burned and itched at the back of her throat. "Why – you didn't let me finish! You –"
"Have you gotten your answer?"
She burning in the back of her throat turned into a lump that lodged firmly in it. There was no way he did not already know the answer to the question. "Why… why does it feel… so good?"
"Power equals control. Those who strive for power seek to overcome powerlessness. It is a compensation for inadequacy, weakness, and fear" The Butler gave her a side glance. "The powerlessness you felt from watching Carmine Falcone destroy your family never left you. For years, you have sought out ways to overcome it in sex, alcohol and decadence, but never succeeded. That is because the only cure for powerlessness, is power itself."
Her heart thumped in her chest. Each breath felt tighter than it was. Tighter than it should have been. Forcing her hands to stop shaking was a difficult task. The alcohol and inebriation she'd felt was fading away, little by little, and the more she thought over his words, the more she realized she didn't understand. "Why?"
"Why did you… do that… for me?"
"Do not flatter yourself. Everything I do, everything I have always done, is for Master Zack." The Butler looked at her. His eyes gleamed red, almost as if piercing through her mortal shell and gazing deep to the soul within.
"I still do not believe you are worthy of Master Zack. No, certainly not. However… I now understand that you seek power. And that desire can make you a valuable asset in completing Master Zack's goals."
She didn't deny it. She did want power. She wanted it again. She wanted to feel those intoxicating throes that gripped her mind and sent shivers racing down her spine. She would do anything to feel that again.
"You'll help me… gain power?"
"But you just said –"
"I am rather clear on what I said. I said your desire for power can make you into a valuable asset. I did not say it makes you one now. As you are, I have no intention to assist you. I will give you a task. If you can complete this task on your own, you will have gained power, and perhaps I may be lenient on your decision to stay with Master Zack."
The Butler reached for his pocket device before she could complain. The device projected an image directly from the camera of a young, attractive woman with dark black hair, fit, gorgeous body that made her feel insecure, wearing what seemed to be a bikini with an American flag while holding a golden rope, a sword and a shield.
"Who is that?"
"This is Wonder Woman. By the opinion of several humans, she is the most powerful female warrior on the face of this planet."
"Your task is to destroy her."
She snapped her neck up to the Butler. There was no amusement on his face. "You're joking." She said easily. "How am I supposed to do something like that?"
"In the words of a quote from Master Zack's most challenging digital entertainment," The Butler spoke. "Git. Gud."
The environment around them melted away. There was the succinct feeling of something horribly, horribly wrong as she found herself on a beach, listening to the crashing of the waves and the cries of seagulls, and more than that, the fact that she suddenly had neither any clothes nor any jewelry on her. And most tragically, she had no alcohol on her or near her at all.
The sound of horses neighing and galloping began to approach with increasingly rapid speed, and her heart pounded ever faster in her chest. "I felt the intrusion from over there!"
Three women, clad in what she could only describe as armor that wouldn't be out of place in Ancient Greece, riding on brown horses stopped in front of her. One had a bow and arrow pointed in her direction, the other wielded a spear, and the last one had a sword sheathed at her side.
The spear found itself aimed directly at her throat as she rose her hands up in immediate surrender.
"State your name, sister, and how you have come to find yourself at the shores of Themyscira."
Eva Cabrera realized, at that moment, she wanted to be anywhere but here.