Chapter 28: Home Row with an L [Unedited]


[Keys] "That's spelled K as in Kilo-E as in Edmund-Y as in Yankee-S as in Sierra-H as in Hotel-I as in India-O as in Oscar-and N as in November," Impetus tells reporters. Isn't this about a bitc-? This fu--er carries a shotgun with a scimitar! Inmates hate rats. #Constructs3

[Keys] "Should we even ask?" Blondie wonders. "Mercenaries wanna run to the cops," I claim while waving off that piece of shi- with one hand before accepting a mug of Chai Latte with two flesh fingers from the other. "Not him," Damian points to my hands, "those." #Constructs3

[Keys] "Long story," I dismiss my plight, "and we're only in the fourth chapter." Blondie examines my left hand and concludes, "You've been cursed with a reincarnation quest." Batxt nods, "Definitely a reincarnation quest." I'm like, "How do you even know that?" #Constructs3


[Keys] "Is this like some real-life Mega Maze shi-?" Damian asks. The crew seems completely indifferent to my affliction with two acting as if they've seen this before and the third not at all frightened off by its prospects. They're more understanding than me. #Constructs3

[Keys] And one thing I can't understand is, "Why didn't Sweet Charles give you the heads-up?" Batxt waits until the absolute last drip before removing a mug of Pumpkin Spice cappuccino from under the coffee brewer spout and mentions, "Haven't seen him all night." #Constructs3

[Keys] This must mean El Muerto and Sumo Jo had gotten to Sweet Charles at about the same time Goliath and Impetus had accosted me. None of them are here now. I thought you said the crew was in danger. "Did I?" Fate plays coy. Don't make me go back in my feed! #Constructs3


[Keys] "No matter how many times I bestow my gift upon another," Fate says, "it comes with the unintended consequences of a recipient's misplaced apathy and misguided loyalty. The former's not your fault. After all, the first hit was free, and now you're hooked." #Constructs3

[Keys] "No matter how many times I bestow my gift upon another," Fate says, "it comes with the unintended consequences of a recipient's misplaced apathy and misguided loyalty. The former's not your fault. After all, the first hit was free, and now you're hooked." #Constructs3

[Keys] It'd be remiss of her not to add, "You're staring at the only friends you do have because I have Sweet Charles and can get to Mahagony at any time. Now are you going to quit fu--ing around and do what I ask?" Do I have a choice? "Ah you're learning. :)" #Constructs3


[Keys] Why is it when emoticons are used to soften the messaging they often wind up turning the passage into that much more of a slap in the face? In this instance, it's because Fate has me over a barrel - always did, but 'always will' hopefully remains to be seen. #Constructs3

[Keys] You slipped up. "Did I?" You've done or attempted this many times before implying continual failure and the fact there is a way to defeat you. "Does it?" I think it does. "Even if it did, remember: I lose; you lose. And I'm content with the long game." #Constructs3

[Keys] "The problem is you don't know the extent of my dealings and certainly can't comprehend your part in them." Even centuries-old deities can make mistakes. "That's true. Hopefully you aren't one." So what now? "Lie low for a little bit. I'll be in touch." #Constructs3


[Keys] "Anybody in there?" Damian waves in front of my blank face. Blinks later, I become present, but before I can even address where I've been, Blondie already knows what I've been up to, "He was with her." Alright, "You need to tell me how you know all this." #Constructs3

[Keys] Batxt points out, "When you've been around a while, you see things - come across things." I expand the questioning, "So you know who she is?" Damian says, "Fate? Yeah," while grabbing a bottled water. Caffeine makes him jittery, and his aim is bad enough. #Constructs3

[Keys] Blondie states peculiarly, "Sometimes Humans have to open themselves up to the idea of the improbable in order to explain it." True things only seem impossible until science deciphers them, but, "You said that like you're not Human." My smartphone rings. #Constructs3


[Keys] Sidestepping my query into the immediacy of our concern, Blondie puts forth a rhetorical question we're all contemplating, "Did you just give away this location?" Rather than dwell on the likelihood, Batxt snatches the device to try and avert its certainty. #Constructs3

[Keys] "Put it in Airplane Mode!" Damian suggests. "Man, that shi- won't work," I tell him. "It'll probably take a couple hours for the police to get the paperwork to do the surveillance," Blondie notes, "but historical tower data will have us dead to rights." #Constructs3

[Keys] "It's not the police I'm worried about," I put out there in a leading tone. Goliath and his Reapers are just using the local authorities to slow us down and make their job of tracking me easier. Meanwhile Batxt is hard at work tearing apart our microwave. #Constructs3


[Keys] I don't know what the fu-- he's doing. We pretty much stay in our lane within this operation. I jack cars. Blondie drives them. Damian holds the weapons. Batxt chops the vehicles. Sweet Charles gets us the best deal with unscrupulous white-collar types. #Constructs3

[Keys] Slorgs probably invented the word 'jury-rig' because it's the cornerstone of their technological ideology and prescience. If the square peg can plug up the round hole for now, it's good enough for the time being. And they've been around since time began. #Constructs3

[Keys] Damian watches all the spontaneous welding, nimble configuring, and feverish assembling with one thing in mind, "Did you just void the warranty?" Batxt pauses the molding of a new creation to argue, "No I read it. They'd only consider this cosmetic damage." #Constructs3


[Keys] Only creatives or possibly parents can understand the pride engineers feel as Batxt swings the modded microwave around for our view. "Eh?" He eggs us on for feedback. "What is it?" I ask. Blondie already has an idea, "Wrong question. How does it work?" #Constructs3

[Keys] "Back in the day, the internet used to cut out when the microwave ran, but I solved that problem with some extra plating from my uh," his explanation is a bit shaky, "stash I had lying around." Damian rolls his eyes, "Everybody knows you're not from Earth." #Constructs3

[Keys] "That's racist!" Batxt accuses. Here we go again. "How am I racist?" Damian pushes back, "You're a nine-foot fu--in' Slorg!" As the voice of calm and resident adult in the room, Blondie offers, "Not everybody chooses to hide who they are." Interesting. #Constructs3


[Keys] Enough of this. We're coming apart before we've even had the chance to come together. I make up some bullshi- and throw it out there hoping it'll suffice until morning, "One's heart determines their Humanity," because it's been a long night and I'm fried. #Constructs3

[Keys] At this point, I don't even care what happens with my smartphone. Fu-- all this. "Where are you going?" Damian prods as if the rudeness of ditching an ongoing conversation is itself enough for me to stick around. "I've got dibs on the couch," I call. #Constructs3

[Keys] I'm entitled to mood swings after all that's happened to and the looming prospect of what's ahead for me. I trust them to do whatever's necessary. No I'm not distrustful by any stretch of the imagination. Selfishness makes me realize I'll need their help. #Constructs3


[Keys] "He must be tired," I overhear Blondie say. "Your heart determines your Humanity?" Damian mocks my voice, "What does that even mean?" Batxt adds, "I thought it was kinda sweet," to three hearty cackles. Success: A new target's acquired that isn't them. #Constructs3

[Keys] "Anyway," Batxt continues, "the plating from my ship reinforces the inside. We determine whether the signal gets out - and by how much. Only now we can also amplify its range. I reconfigured the microwave to project a weaker signal across a larger radius." #Constructs3

[Keys] "Essentially a home booster on Migraine Manaqua," Damian likens. "This cannot be safe," Blondie complains, "because you're blasting out radiation, and we're all just standing here bathing in it." Batxt downplays the concern, "Radiation is always around us." #Constructs3


[Keys] "Says the only other person in the room who can survive the harshness of space," Blondie smiles. Wait. Only other person? What does she mean? Probably nothing. It's too late for it to be anything. I drift off and grab what's left of the night for sleep. #Constructs3

[Keys] Why dream when my waking life has become a nightmare? A more naive me would ask if this was Fate, but I've met her. That's not what this is. Again I'm caught up. Consumed with tangled thoughts on the subject, restlessness leaves me even more conflicted. #Constructs3

[Keys] Uncertainty doesn't just lead to volatility in markets but sanity. It drives people crazy with anxiety, and yet certainty is itself its own fallacy. What is certainty except a garbage sense of false security? Comfort is illusory. It's why I stay on edge. #Constructs3


[Keys] Belief in the ability to change the outcome and courage to get out of bed so I can seize the day are what it'll take. These thoughts inform my slumber, occupy my mind, and prevent me from being able to fully rest. In short, I'm anxious to make it happen. #Constructs3

[Keys] My awareness returns to a soft focus on the emptiness of The Spot. The rest of the crew doesn't live here, but it's there in case any of us need to crash obviously. This is one of those nouveau buildings of efficiency where no wall segments off the garage. #Constructs3

[Keys] Speaking of the crew, I need to figure out how to explain Sweet Charles being kidnapped by Fate to them. Do I come right out and say it? Break it down easy? Or beat around the bush so they can hopefully infer things from my silence? I'm not good at this. #Constructs3


[Keys] This place has all the amenities of a pricey loft, and the reason is because everybody chipped in to make it that way. Sweet Charles somehow writes everything off each year. Ha - yet another reason we need him back. He's good with money. Maybe too good. #Constructs3

[Keys] I make use of one such amenity: The shower is great for rehearsing, "Fate is holding Sweet Charles hostage." Seems a bit forward. How about, "We all knew this business was risky. Sweet Charles perhaps knew it the most." Nah then they'll think he's dead. #Constructs3

[Keys] Upon exiting the shower, an audience (I didn't even know I'd granted) is left stunned. Acoustics carry across The Spot, but I should've accounted for Batxt, Blondie, and Damian's promptness. It's hard to look them in their eyes, but at least they now know. #Constructs3

Enjoying what you've read? Support us by purchasing one of our other stories in the continuity.

Add this Experience to Your Collection!