The Aftermath Academy - CH46 (Olivia)

“You better not have known she was going to be there!” I shout at Krieg. “I could have died.” I didn’t, because I am awesome and Alysa now knows it. It feels so good to be wrapped up in my Pride again.

“I didn’t,” Krieg tells me. “Though in hindsight I should have. The signs were there, but for some reason I didn’t put the pieces together.”

“That’s because she was probably fucking with our heads again,” Abe says in annoyance. “Well, yours anyways. She can’t act on me directly anymore, fortunately. But she’s gotten a lot better at side-stepping that. Life’s walking plot-hole, that one.”

“Hey, don’t talk about Alysa like that,” Lilith pleads, hands grasped to her chest. “Please.” I’ve spent so much time this past year with her child-like virtual avatar that it’s almost little disconcerting to see her in her adult body.

Krieg rolls his eyes. “She clearly liked you well enough. You’re not missing any body parts at least. I remember when she dropped Lilith off a decade ago, turned my hand into a chocolate bar and ate it.”

Abe starts laughing. “That was great, she was all like ‘You’re so sweet to take care of Lilith for me’. And she strongly implied if he did a bad job she’d turn the rest of him into a nice Crème brûlée.”

“It did rather motivate me to further the regenerative capabilities of my nanotech beyond maintaining my age… so it wasn’t all bad,” Krieg says. “I’m truly sorry you encountered Killjoy blind, but it’s worked out to our advantage. My hope was that our activities would just be beneath her notice since there’s nothing that can be done to plan for her, but having her tentative go ahead is much better.”

“Hopefully her approval and patience both last a bit. If the amount my Pride charged up when going through the portal is any indication, you still have some fucking work to do,” I tell Krieg. He nods, grimacing.

“I’m getting there, but to safely transport two humans with normal physical properties… may take another few months,” Krieg says. Abe groans.

“Great,” Abe says. “So we have to hang out with this guy for three months? He’s a bigger asshole than Vile was.” He points over to Bone and Chain, slumped over in a corner where I threw him, probably not bleeding to death. He’s acting all pouty because I ripped off his limbs and we haven’t given him medical treatment, like he deserves any.

“Unfortunately,” Krieg says. “Even once I get the teleportation working, I can’t target Hope or her people using the same trick I used for him. Her immortality field fucks up the energy signature scans too much. Side-stepping the issue that none of us can go straight to her tower, it’d still be safer to draw out Void. I’m the one who’ll have to deal with him, and if I went first alone via a portal then another bodyguard might have a trick that could take out my armor or drones. If we use Bone and Chain to draw Void out of the tower though, it’s much less likely that he’ll be properly guarded against tech.”

“Any wrinkles in that plan given I’m the one who took the guy?” I ask. “Hope knows I’m working with you. If Bone and Chain attacks Hope’s Bastion then won’t she be prepared for you to make an appearance?”

“If the executioners were going to tell her, that certainly would be,” Krieg says. “But Hope never broadcast a desire to be informed of Olivia’s movements and the Executioners have no reason to volunteer that sort of information. They’re all playing things close to the vest. Fortunately, Gravitas and Hope don’t like each other, so I don’t see that changing. And Hacker’s A.I. is monitoring all channels of communication. If they do decide to share, we should at least get a heads up if Hai isn’t able to block or alter the messages.”

“Fortune favors the bold, the brave, the better prepared,” Abe says. “And if we’re somehow still alive at the end of this, good chance we’ll have a fortune. But I wish it didn’t take so damn long.” Lilith claps in enthusiasm. “At least I’ll get to use a new power, right?”

Actually sleeping in my penthouse will certainly be nice, once this is all said and done. But it’s not like Krieg isn’t ridiculously wealthy already, criminal status aside. I’m in total agreement about how annoying the timeline on this is, even if I understand why we can’t rush it.

“Yes, Bone and Chain will be a smokescreen but he’s a sub-optimal candidate for actually controlling the distractions, no matter what precautions we’ll be using on him,” Krieg says. “You’ll copy his power tomorrow. We’ll need to work on how you can remain undetected in Hope’s Bastion to do your work, but if you can fully copy it then we should be in a good position.”

Just a little longer. Just a little longer and we can come into the light.

----------------------------------------------------- End of Year One -----------------------------------------------------------