The Aftermath Academy - CH 3 (Olivia)

“Ok kid, don’t take this more than once every six months or it might do more harm than good, got it?” I hold out my package just a little out of the school-boy’s reach, focusing more on not disintegrating the package than on the boy I’m selling to. Perhaps disingenuous to call him a kid, given I doubt he’s more than a year or two younger than I am and probably heading off to college soon. But the little nerd is in a sailor uniform and barely has a few inches on me and I’m not exactly tall here people. Five foot on a good day, dammit.

He finally nods his head in understanding after I lay my finger on his nose, scarcely letting the molecules make contact. I snatch his money, handing him the package. If he takes my advice, what I gave him will increase his IQ roughly 15 points without any adverse side effects. But I’m betting he’ll OD within the week.

Since the drugs I gave him are not traceable, it’s not my problem! I turn back to the warehouse and enter its inky depths, quickly making my way to the downstairs hallway. I trounce lightly through the wall, paying no heed to the rubble falling down around me.

“Again?!” Abe shouts from the couch. He’s sitting back with Lilith’s head in his lap. She has a shirt over her eyes, blocking out the scarce light. “If you can’t be bothered with the door, couldn’t you at least use the last hole you made?”

“What hole?” I ask innocently. He points behind me and I look at the gaping hole only a few steps away from the one I just finished. “Oh, that hole! Nope, that would have required more walking. Dealing designer drugs to teenagers is exhausting.”

“You just want to destroy the structural integrity of this building so we have to use somewhere nicer,” Lilith whispered. I cart-wheel over to the couch and bend over, very carefully kissing her exposed forehead. I feel a slight tingle run through my lips.

“Ding, ding, ding, your guess that I would like to leave this dirty, dingy place is an accurate one. Why can’t we work out of a penthouse? I’m actually fairly sure we own like… a hundred,” I say. “Also, what’s wrong with you?” My penthouse question is rhetorical, having already heard answers like They’re not under our names and we’ll all be killed if we’re caught and blah blah blah a dozen times.

“I’m trying not to kill all the old people,” Lilith said softly. I look up at Abe quizzically for further explanation.

“She was cut off in traffic earlier by a half-blind old woman,” he said. “Nearly crashed off a bridge.”

“Okay… but why are you trying not to kill all of the old people?” I ask in puzzlement. “I mean, think of the children.”

Seriously, she could solve a lot of problems if she just let loose. Even with all of the highly encouraged and incentivized geographical population restructures, nearly two-thirds of those who would have received a gift reject it and drop dead. I don’t know the exact math, but last I heard that meant nearly one kid in five isn’t making it out of childhood and that figure is growing.

Since the highest predictor of survival rate is the ratio of empowered individuals versus un-empowered in proximity to the affected, curbing the longevity trend of normal people brought about by advanced technology designed by gifted super geniuses might not be such a bad thing.

“Because mass murder is wrong,” Lilith said.

“Wrong?” I say, tasting the word in my mouth, not sure I understand it. People use it around me often. ‘Please stop Olivia; robbing banks is wrong.’ ‘Please Olivia; beating me half to death is wrong.’ ‘Please don’t do that Olivia; mixing mashed potatoes with marshmallows is not only wrong, it is an affront to God and all other things holy.’ Okay, I might be paraphrasing slightly, but not much.

“Yes, wrong. And I feel guilty enough. I’m pretty sure I killed the old woman who cut me off,” Lilith says mournfully. Abe signals me that she definitely offed the old lady, but remains silent. “Besides, even if it weren’t wrong, Jared would come looking for us, just like he might if we set up shop in a penthouse.” I grimace at her managing to bring the conversation back full circle to my rhetorical question.

“You don’t know for sure he’d kill you,” I tell her. “I mean he might actually like you if you gave him a chance. Now Abe on the other hand, with all of those daddy issues of his, definitely a dead man.” Abe rolls his eyes.

“Are you ever going to get tired of implying that The Butler is my father?” he asks. “I can’t even tell anymore if it’s meant as a slight against me or him. Whatever else I might think of him, my understanding is that he is insanely faithful to his wife, and you know that.”

“Objectively false,” I say cheerily. “I know no such thing, other than what Krieg tells me. Just because Krieg has a creepy, creepy amount of surveillance on your papa don’t mean the most powerful man on Earth has never stepped out on his wife. And going by your face it was clearly with a female version of himself. Obviously, he somehow copied his wife’s power, got hit by a gender bender ability and got all freaky down with his bad self. I mean that wouldn’t even be cheating, would it? Just a…weird form of masturbation I guess.” I smile broadly at my daydream as Abe snorts in annoyance.

“Speaking of Krieg, do you think you can get him to stop working on…whatever the hell that thing is and eat some dinner? I haven’t seen him eat in days,” Abe said. I look over at Krieg sitting in a corner with his head bent down over a pile of tools, picking out something to throw himself at the… at the… oh hell, I don’t even know. It’s pointy, whatever it is. Really pointy.

“Does he even need to eat anymore?” I ask.

“A little,” Abe says. “More than he is. We need to shove at least a few chicken nuggets down his throat.” Well, that won’t do. I flounce over to Krieg and hook my fingers through his belt and haul his ass up. Or try to, the belt snapping in my fingers.

“Hey,” he starts, frustrated at the interruption.

“Hey yourself,” I say, flicking his shoulder lightly. I cringe a little on the inside as my finger crunches straight through his bone, spraying flecks of flesh and blood. Oops, entirely unintentional, I swear! Krieg grimaces in pain, but the nanites he’s outfitted his body with are already going to work knitting together the damage. I have an ADD moment as I stare in fascination at the mending flesh. Then I try to make up for my rough treatment with a much softer kiss. Well, soft by my standards, I’m sure from his perspective it’s quite passionate, maybe even a little painful.

I can feel him responding through the slight charge I feel, so I assume whatever he’s feeling that he likes it. But then again, who wouldn’t like kissing me? I’m insanely hot. Some people just say cute on account of my size, but I prefer hot on account of my stunning olive skin and super cool shoulder length yet kind of spiky hairstyle. And I have violent enough tendencies towards those who disagree that most people agree that I am HOT.

Also, like half Krieg’s age, not that he looks it. Wouldn’t turn heads on the street or anything given that whole ‘technology induced immortality’ thing he’s got going for him. Well, the soft mechanic shimmer running down parts of his skin might turn some heads, but our age difference wouldn’t. Really hoping one of my powers stops the aging process since I’m not sure his tech would work on me and I will be pissed if I end up looking older than him. Still, guys as a group are usually shallow enough that if a hot girl half their age expresses interest they’re not going to complain too much about the occasional quirk, right?

I break off the kiss, “You need to eat,” I say. “Abe says so, and Abe’s always right about these things. He like, pays attention to your well-being and all that.” Krieg mutters something under his breath, but moves away from his work materials towards the living area.

“What’s the ETA?” Abe asks him.

“It’ll be at least a few more months before everything’s completed,” Krieg says. “But it’ll only be a few hours or so before I need Olivia to run an errand for us.”

“Ugh, errands, I hate errands. You know who used to always make me run errands? My mother. Real helicopter parent her. Always telling me what to do. Like ‘pull-up! Pull-up!’ In fairness, I didn’t listen to her and definitely crashed the actual family helicopter right into a cliff.” I pantomime these actions with my arms, running around the room, careful not to plow through the couch and its occupants. “Still not sure what her problem was, it’s not like that hurt me.” Admittedly, mother died instantly. But it’s not like she never accidentally committed matricide. In fact, I’m pretty sure she did it on purpose.

“This will be a fun errand,” Krieg says. “You’ll be going up against a Heroes Guild to get me some data. Just try not to kill any of them or The Butler might make an appearance. We already have one of May’s bodies trying to keep tabs on our group. Yet another reason we can’t all go chill in a penthouse, FYI.”

“Fuck, what attracted her attention?” I ask. Aggravating. This means that Lilith and Abe genuinely have to lay low. My dreams of a penthouse for our base of operations drifts ever further away.

“The Vile date raped some girl. Can’t say I was sad she killed the son of a bitch, but I would have preferred to wait until we were further along before she gave us notice. Oh well, we’ll need her in the end for this to work, so we’ll just have to deal,” Krieg replied.

“I’ve never understood that codename,” I say. “It was as lame as he was.” We work with a lot of unsavory people, but the only ones I would actually miss are all present in this room. And to my knowledge, there’s only one other unsavory person not present that we actually need.

“Like Seven Sins is any better?” Abe asks me. “You don’t even have seven powers.”

“Hey! I like my codename, not that I’ve gotten to use it yet. But I will, and it will be awesome!” I say, pouting slightly. “We still need some for you all. How about, Genocide, for Lilith?” Lilith groans. “Too on the nose? Or do you feel it would lead people to think you’re racist? Xenocide would be more accurate, but it just doesn’t roll off the tongue as well. Xenocidist? No…no that doesn’t work. I’ll think on it, don’t you worry.”

Abe actually laughs at this. “And what would I be?” he asks.

“What are you talking about, Abe IS your codename,” I tell him. “I gave it to you, you can’t go running off for a new one. And no fair using your real name either. But I can’t think of a good one for Krieg. He’s going to need one if we succeed in this plan.”

“Speaking of, what are the odds if we succeed that Jared doesn’t hunt us all down and dismember us on live television?” Lilith asks.

“If we’re completely successful, I’d say about sixty percent chance Jared pardons us,” Krieg says. “The only reason he doesn’t do this himself is how much risk is involved, to all parties.”

“And if we’re not successful?” Abe asks.

“Hopefully we’ll be killed in the process then, or we’ll end up like Reacher,” he says grimly. Even I can’t help but shudder slightly at that, remembering a video from my childhood that a child should not have watched, broadcast live by The Butler. I shake off the thought, yawning. Krieg looks at me. “You need a nap.”

“Or a good fight,” I say. “Or a good f-“

“Sleep,” he says firmly. “You need to keep up your strength. Eye on the prize, we have an Untouchable to kill. And even before your errand I need you to test out a contingency plan.”

“There are more ways for me to keep up my strength than sleeping,” I say sulking. “I mean I’m not sure about that last one but I’m willing to find out if you are.” I’m using my most sultry, seductive now. Krieg is as unmoved as ever. “Fiiiine, I’ll get some sleep.” I steal another kiss from him, feeling the tiniest boost to my power, and bounce over to a corner where I plop down into the concrete.

Rolling around rather like a dog, the ground tearing up beneath my Pride as I get into a comfortable position. It’s not too difficult when most matter feels as soft as a pillow to me, barely more substantial than a cloud. Or maybe cotton candy would be a better comparison. Mmmm, cotton candy. That’s a good thing to think about as I fall into an energizing sleep.