Chapter 29: Pinky Profanity [Unedited]


[Keys] Right about now, plenty of people are probably drunk off their as-, high as he--, or a combination of something worse. I wasn't able to party, but I'm clearly feeling no pain as I slide through the doorway while performing my best rendition of a face-plant. #Constructs3

[Keys] A lot was being made of how I'd react - how I'll change with each key I use, but I don't notice a difference. To me, the way I am now is as normal as how I've always been. I wouldn't know the difference because my evolution is as subtle as it is profound. #Constructs3

[Keys] I've got a crazed all-lips smile, but drool manages to escape because you know it's good sleep then. I also know it had to be good because my friend won't let me rest. "Get up! Get up!" Batxt repeats prior to alerting, "Open doors create their own alarm." #Constructs3


[Keys] "I'm up," I lie and giggle. "How much time does he have?" Fate asks while holding Batxt's left pincer claw which apparently plugs him into my head. "Judging by the NSF Tank rumbling into the parking lot and that NSF Fighter flyover: Not much," he claims. #Constructs3

[Keys] Batxt goes on to say, "Internal security from within the building will be on him at about the same time as those troops." Fate shakes her head in disapproval, "Why are we breaking into a Nebulan Science Forces facility?" It was you. Get it? Fate? Hahaha! #Constructs3

[Keys] As I watch the handle to the door at the end of this corridor cautiously twist, I turn back to see NSF troops swarming the reception desk. That causes me to burst out laughing. "This is not funny," Fate asserts. Yeah it is. Because I signed in as Goliath. #Constructs3


[Keys] By comparison, the high from using my fingers as keys is getting shorter and more temporary which suggests to me the effects to my personality are likely becoming more pronounced and permanent. I'm wondering if this is one of those stages of grief things. #Constructs3

[Keys] Are the effects so subtle so as to supplant my psyche without my noticing. I already know about it, but will I see it coming? Could the shift in sensibility be so profound so as to be simply accepted and acquiesced to by weight of it being so overwhelming? #Constructs3

[Keys] Snapping back so abruptly from (or even between) the highs and lows is enough to jar my conscience and jolt my sensibility, but it's not the high itself. It's its growing increase in potency that's sanitizing me to an ever-sterilized blank slate for Fate. #Constructs3


[Keys] I'm losing my fu--ing mind. But I don't even have the time to worry about that which, of course, plays right into Fate's infamously repurposing hands. I bet this whole idea was hers, yet she led me to believe it was my own. But why? Hands. No. Fu-- no! #Constructs3

[Keys] "The more ambitious of Slorgs are less hive-minded," Fate explains, "but still connected to a Queen no matter how much they try to ignore the link. This denial is no different than taking one's birthright for granted." Sober, I push up. What have you done? #Constructs3

[Keys] "It's not what I've done," Fate clarifies, "it's what you've allowed me to do." It was a suggestion on how to use my point of view for surveillance. "I'm sure that's all it was," she only ever throws bombs and daggers with each prong of her forked tongue. #Constructs3


[Keys] And of course, Batxt isn't saying shi-. "Why would he?" Fate replies, "There's no need unless I speak to him." What so now you're his queen? "Something like that," she says while moving into the driver seat, "but one day soon you'll learn I'm yours too." #Constructs3

[Keys] Why do you keep punishing me? "Because I can," Fate asserts, "and you like it." Bullshi-. Her tone turns irritated by the sentiment, "You could've stopped anytime you wanted." You're manipulating me! She drives off stating, "Keep telling yourself that." #Constructs3

[Keys] I'm so fu--ing twisted. I don't know whether I'm coming or going. I just know I'm getting it from both ways - coming and going. Nothing I do matters, yet everything I do has an impact. Well fu--, this is just like going to work but without the paycheck. #Constructs3


[Keys] People make terrible decisions. At least on this planet, that's what makes them Human: Mistakes. What a low bar. Fail, learn from it, repeat - until we get it right. But everything about this is wrong. "Don't move!" The NSF troops in the lobby command. #Constructs3

[Keys] Private military contractors are one thing, but so-called scientific organizations having their own private military seem especially untoward. The prospect of becoming a lab experiment is about as palatable as it sounds. They're gonna have to work for this. #Constructs3

[Keys] As the door ahead of me in the corridor opens up, I rush it. When the first person cautiously inches through, I crash into it. The crackle of a dropped weapon is the fleeting sound of success. Again I don't know how to fight, and they have all the numbers. #Constructs3


[Keys] Aside from this knot on my head where I landed awkwardly during a takedown that went wrong, I'm no more worse for wear. It's the cliché plain room with three chairs, a table, and the two-way glass. I swear if these fu--ers break into good cop/bad cop.... #Constructs3

[Keys] A woman wearing a pantsuit enters the room, sets an attaché case on the table, pulls up a chair, and inquires about my well-being, "That's a nasty bump. Are you comfortable? Can I get you anything? Ice? Bottled water?" Accommodating. It's a good start. #Constructs3

[Keys] "I'm alright," I dismiss her sentiment. She rifles through the files inside the brief as if to grab something handy to refer to in stride and says as much, "I seem to have you at a little bit of a disadvantage, Mister Davis. My name is Dennie Zavanella." #Constructs3


[Keys] "You some sort of General?" I ask. I'm curious. "No, my title is apparently, 'Newly-Installed Director to Clean Up After the Incompetence Around Here'," Dennie is kinda funny. She goes on to say, "I was military in my past life. You're quite astute." #Constructs3

[Keys] "I'm hoping you can explain a few things," Dennie talks like she doesn't already have the answers. With each utterance, photographic evidence is dumped on the table, "Club Soda. Your apartment. Indian Trails. Water reclamation. Remember the restaurant?" #Constructs3

[Keys] "You're sharp and all," I'm impressed yet unconvinced, "but you aren't prepared to deal with this shi- let alone comprehend it." Dennie laughs, "You'd be surprised about how much the NSF is into, the things we've caused, and what we're capable of believing." #Constructs3


[Keys] Dennie goes on to say, "For one thing," she points, "I don't seem to be too out of sorts by your fingers." Well, "That just means you're kind," I speak with my hands, "toward the differently abled." She changes the subject back, "Mind telling me about it?" #Constructs3

[Keys] "I'm not very trusting," who am I trying to convince? "A very good trait, I'd say," she's ridiculously cordial. "But?" I want the ask. "But?" Her coyness catches me off guard, "There are no buts. We share distrust of each other. That's common ground." #Constructs3

[Keys] It's hard not to like my magnanimous hostess and even harder not to confide in her. My soul already belongs to Fate. My friends are being co-opted one by one. I really don't have shi- else to lose, so I start to tell Dennie as much, "Where should I begin?" #Constructs3


[Keys] "I'd ask you to start at the beginning," Dennie explains, "but we already have a fair amount of information on your background. Since your identity is plastered all over the news, we took the time to get up to speed. What I really want to know is 'why'." #Constructs3

[Keys] She adds, "And then I'd like to hear more about what your specific mission is." Outside I've got warrants, but that's assuming I even make it to the doors. There's still the issue of this shadeball government agency that could easily cause my disappearance. #Constructs3

[Keys] I decide to play ball, "My strings are being pulled by some entity, deity, demon - I don't know what the fu-- she is, named Fate. That's also her MO. It looks like I'm wiling out around town, but this corporeal manifestation of its namesake is responsible." #Constructs3


[Keys] "To what ends?" Dennie inquires. There's no hint of disbelief or skepticism whatsoever. We already know she's not too trusting, but this doesn't appear to be an open mind either. It's a comfort level for and a familiarity in dealing with the nonsensical. #Constructs3

[Keys] "Fate wants me to break into Mega Maze Industries Spire," I tell her. It's worth mentioning, "These keys for fingers of mine are, well, the key. They're always for some completely random lock. But every time I use one, she gains a greater hold on my soul." #Constructs3

[Keys] There's no empathy as Dennie ignores my concern in favor of her line of questioning, "What's at Mega Maze Industries Spire?" I answer honestly, "I'm not sure." She anticipates, "I suppose that's irrelevant. With Fate, it's what will eventually be there." #Constructs3


[Keys] Part of me wonders how Dennie is just instantly comfortable with this conversation because I'm not even comfortable with it. Then there's a part that isn't surprised. I find her different than other government types. She doesn't need to hide behind walls. #Constructs3

[Keys] So, "What happens to me at this point?" Dennie's demeanor shifts to a mild disappointment, "You're not gonna like it." I can imagine, "Indefinite detention?" She nods, "You've been indelibly compromised. We'll talk again though," and waves in the guards. #Constructs3

[Keys] I don't mean this to come off as a threat, "One way or another I'll finish Fate's mission for me. It's how she works," but I can understand how it might've sounded that way. Dennie reassures, "The NSF has experience in dealing with Ethereal-like entities." #Constructs3


[Keys] So it begs a couple of questions: If Dennie knows I'm trying to play her, how is she going to stop this? And if I'm consciously unaware of my own intent, what am I planning to do next? Goliath wants to end me, but the NSF seeks to put me to use somehow. #Constructs3

[Keys] But Dennie also tries to play me. The rapport-building was calculated but works to get me to at least consider not making a run for it during the most exposed portion of the transfer between that interrogation room and this van with no windows in the back. #Constructs3

[Keys] I don't offer any resistance this time around as my head is still smarting from the last. No fusion cuffs implies they're not concerned about safety. It also hinges on an assumption I'd prefer the amenities afforded to a lab rat rather than face justice. #Constructs3


[Keys] Actually I prefer option three. These keys for fingers aren't just for unlocking an eons-old evil. Now I may not be able to fight, but I can sure scrap. Fake as- Space Force. Leading me around like I'm not a threat. "I wouldn't do that if I were you." #Constructs3

[Keys] "And who the fu-- are you," I turn to ask, "my conscience?" Loafers with tassels, pressed slacks, a button-down shirt with no tie, and a bald as- head. This lightweight calls himself, "NSFm-1 Alpha," like that means anything. I'm the star of this eBook. #Constructs3

[GIO] But I was the star of the previous status update story, although mine was limited to only 140 characters. Regardless there's something to be said about the perks of wisdom that come from experience. I'm hoping it'll be enough because, "Mahagony needs you." #Constructs3


[Keys] Back in my corporate America days, they'd call this type of underground garage (beneath the building) rock star parking. Execs would park there, and highlighted employees could also be granted temporary access. NSFm-1 Alpha is apparently their big hitter. #Constructs3

[Keys] I didn't count on him calling out the name of my ex, but they know everything else, so I'm not surprised. It does make me curious however - not in a jealous rage kind of way because Mahagony and I are over, but that doesn't mean I wish her any overt harm. #Constructs3

[Keys] It's worth mentioning the heavily armed NSF troops seem scared as shi-. They're backing away from NSFm-1 Alpha for some odd reason. Are they afraid of him? No. Wait. That can't be it. They appear to be more cautious of what he can do. Who is this guy? #Constructs3


[Keys] "What does Mahagony need of me?" I wonder. NSFm-1 Alpha states simply, "An apology for starters." Oh really? But, "How does she even know you?" He admits, "I came across her watching a film alone at Buffalo Grove Theaters." We loved going to the movies. #Constructs3

[Keys] "You know what happened?" I ask earnestly. "No," NSFm-1 Alpha says, "I just know you're giving up - giving in to this whole thing with Fate and you've done your level best to push Mahagony away." To protect her by hurting her. He's not exactly off base. #Constructs3

[Keys] But NSFm-1 Alpha's assessment of me is wrong. This isn't a story about redemption. Now his might've had a satisfying ending, but mine certainly won't. El Muerto told me as much in the window I had to turn things around right before using that first key. #Constructs3


[Keys] "Why do you even care what happens to me?" I do want to know. NSFm-1 Alpha speaks with a naivete I wouldn't expect from an adult, "I was born here. This planet is all I know - all I've ever known and worth safeguarding. How could you not care about it?" #Constructs3

[Keys] Oh that's an easy one, "Because the people within it aren't shi-. Look at the fu--ing news." He says something peculiar, "Oh I do. Every minute. Every feed. But there are worse threats - promises at this point, looming from beyond," and points skyward. #Constructs3

[Keys] "Don't I know it?" I can attest in referencing Fate. "And the Seven Superpowers know it too," NSFm-1 Alpha reveals, "though they may not show it in allowing the Earth to seemingly spiral into a preoccupying chaos so as to not cause even wider-spread panic." #Constructs3


[Keys] "So your superiors are just going to allow me to go after Mahagony? I'm totally confused and have to ask, "Aren't you at all concerned about my predicament? Unless the NSF has an Ethereal on its side, we're all pretty much fu--ed on some ancient evil shi-." #Constructs3

[Keys] NSFm-1 Alpha corrects me, "They're not really my superiors. It's more of an interesting kinship. I'm all about building consensus whether that's with the scientific community, government, Space Force, or even you. Regardless of the danger, we'll need it." #Constructs3

[Keys] "So what makes you so sure about me," I have to know, "when mercenaries from earlier saw death as my only resolution?" His response is chilling, "Who's to say they're wrong? That's another discussion. I do still believe Mahagony deserves an explanation." #Constructs3


[Keys] "Maybe but," I assert, "I'm not getting in the van." So how is this going to go down, NSFm-1 Alpha? What kind of name is that anyway? His parents must've been on some different shi-. Regardless this pretty boy is about to get those nice clothes messed up. #Constructs3

[Keys] "I didn't suppose you would," he says upon approach. "Nope," I reiterate feigning confidence in my fighting skills. But for whom? The NSF troops openly acknowledged NSFm-1 Alpha's prowess by backing away from him. I'm trying to convince myself of my own. #Constructs3

[Keys] Only he walks past, and I notice four weird-as- cyberpunk ports on the back of his neck. NSFm-1 Alpha makes no motion to engage in combat but instead opens up the van's rear doors. Mahagony bursts out the compartment and rushes to throw her arms around me. #Constructs3


[Keys] "This is the part where you reciprocate - put your arms around her," NSFm-1 Alpha urges. I mean I know what to do. I'm just shocked. He pats me on the shoulder and states, "I'll give you some time to yourselves," before walking off to join the NSF troops. #Constructs3

[Keys] In a world where we've seen so much hate by those who are old enough to know better and others young enough they should have something else better to do, these little unconditional moments are nice. Mahagony squeezes me so tightly I can't help but join in. #Constructs3

[Keys] She shoves me away and utters my pet name, "You fu--ing as- hole!" I deserve that and concur, "I'm weak. I fell in with an even more wrong crowd than usual." But Mahagony isn't in the mood for any excuses, "How do we get out of this and back to our lives?" #Constructs3


[Keys] "I might have some ideas about that," NSFm-1 Alpha butts in. "So much for alone time," I reply. He justifies his return, "I saw Mahagony strike you and had concerns for your well-being." She smiles, "We haven't always gotten along, but I like your style." #Constructs3

[Keys] "Is anybody going to tell me how you know each other?" I wonder aloud. Mahagony pushes my buttons, "Maybe I prefer the nice guy over being a Human shield." I accuse, "Are you fu--ing him?" NSFm-1 Alpha raises his hand to point out, "Standing right here." #Constructs3

[Keys] He does dress nicely. I can see it, and she doesn't back down, "You all but lost your claim to this. NSFm-1 Alpha mentioned Fate! Who's she?" I put my hands out in exasperation and turn to him, "Can we call you something else? Your name is monotonous!" #Constructs3


[Keys] "It's my name," NSFm-1 Alpha - (see!), responds defiantly to my request. "I like his name," Mahagony insists (on using him to make me jealous). Anyway he denies that request and suggests instead, "Rather than change my name, how about I change the subject?" #Constructs3

[Keys] "I want you to move forward with Fate's plan," NSFm-1 Alpha says. Of course, this prompts a, "What," of surprise from me. He goes on to say, "The NSF won't stand in your way. I've gotten assurances from and reached consensus with Dennie. Do what you do." #Constructs3

[Keys] Is that supposed to be news or music to my ears? I need clarification, "You want me to accelerate the bringing of this threat to bear?" NSFm-1 Alpha acknowledges, "There's always a threat. I'd like to get this one out the way so I can get on to the next." #Constructs3


[Keys] "So this means we're free to go?" Mahagony hopes. NSFm-1 Alpha answers with a bit of an odd statement, "I've recently come to realize nothing in existence is free," as if everyday experience hadn't already taught him that over all the years he's been alive. #Constructs3

[Keys] The oddity is peculiar enough that it's worth me prodding, "What does it mean?" NSFm-1 Alpha paints a bleak picture of contingency, "Dyoogie hasn't been heard from in quite some time, and Domina is currently MIA, so the protectorship of Earth falls to me." #Constructs3

[Keys] He continues, "I'll follow your progress at a distance." This guy? I mean to say, "That is not very reassuring with a quartet of hardened killers on my as-." Ever the projection of cool, NSFm-1 Alpha counters with, "Where do you think I got the idea from?" #Constructs3


[Keys] It makes sense. They all but boxed me into a corner by outing me on television, so my vicious murder at their hands would not only be suspicious but its attempt nonproductive. Goliath has experience gone up against Fate. He didn't want to spin his wheels. #Constructs3

[Keys] NSFm-1 Alpha echoes this, "In the celestial throes of Fate's employment, you're all but immortal. We could play the long game here and throw you in a freezer tube, but her will would continue to grind along, and the consequences (to us) would become worse." #Constructs3

[Keys] "So when Keys fulfills his mission," Mahagony reasons, "her hold relinquishes?" NSFm-1 Alpha adds, "We hope." That sets me off, "You hope? What the fu-- kind of plan is this?" Ever the projection of cool, he states, "The only plan you're going to get." #Constructs3


[Keys] "Oh it's like that now?" I question as I don't like NSFm-1 Alpha's tone, and my body language is escalated enough it causes Mahagony to place a cautionary hand on my chest to hold me back. Not baited by my negative energy, he states, "It's been like that." Constructs3

[Keys] NSFm-1 Alpha assails, "You've caused nothing but confusion and have not only created problems that didn't exist prior but exacerbated current ones. There's no way out of this where you come off looking like the hero or scenario where you escape unscathed." #Constructs3

[Keys] Denying, lying, and fabricating a convenient yet false narrative can only get a person so far. Pretty far actually. But no further. Ever the projection of collected, NSFm-1 Alpha bids us farewell, "This is your story. The journey does matter. Take care." #Constructs3


[Keys] "NSFm-1 Alpha, wait!" Interesting. Mahagony leaves my side, reaches out for his wrist, catches it, and then throws her arms around him. He's obviously taken by initial surprise but returns the gesture as she utters, "Thanks for everything." I'm jealous. #Constructs3

[Keys] "No problem," NSFm-1 Alpha replies before leaving her with, "good luck," and taking his leave. I can tell there's something there. Maybe not with him but definitely with Mahagony. It really shouldn't bother me, but it does. I'm threatened by the prospect. #Constructs3

[Keys] I doubt NSFm-1 Alpha would act on it because I sense a childlike innocence from him. And she's projecting. Whether that means Mahagony is going to try and change me into or run away with the proverbial nice guy remains to be seen. Why do women like losers? #Constructs3


[Keys] "I don't know, why do we," Fate lives in my head, "but you're not a loser, are you," and I'm not charging her any rent. "Alright that's enough of that," I tell Mahagony and gently usher her toward the door. It's freezing outside, and we don't have a ride. #Constructs3

[Keys] "How is it you're a carjacker but don't have a car of your own?" Fate is remarkably snide, but it's a good question. I think it's: Because I'm a carjacker, I don't have a car. You didn't have the emphasis right. "My focus has always been you," she says. #Constructs3

[Keys] "She's communicating with you, isn't she?" Mahagony notices me blank out briefly, and it wasn't from the one-degree temperature. Fate is fu--ing with me, "Tell her I said hi." Ah why not? It isn't every day your on-again, off-again ex meets your destiny. #Constructs3


[Keys] "Fate says hi," I tell Mahagony as per my instructions. Huh? No. Since when? Before it was just suggestions that sounded really good, but now her words are starting to permeate my own decisiveness. Is this what she has in store (for me)? A voided shell? #Constructs3

[Keys] "It's not that bad," Fate debates, "but this is what happens when you place your belief in me. You don't control your own; I control you." It's too cold for it to be cold - if that makes sense at all, so my shivering has nothing to do with the wind chill. #Constructs3

[Keys] We walk briskly toward the bus stop and can almost feel its warmth emanating off the see-through shelter as steam. The point being, I shouldn't be shaking like this, but I'm rattled. Mahagony watches my shaky body language and states, "She can't have you." #Constructs3


[Keys] As we wait on a solitary bench inside the stop, Mahagony holds me to both show support and pool our body heat. Even through unplowed roads, the bus arrives on schedule. It's weird that something like snow can be so pretty and suck so much at the same time. #Constructs3

[Keys] We're used to that in the Midwest. Its yearly inconvenience builds character and tests nerves. Like life. The certainty of uncertainty and the resulting fear. I don't fear the unknown. I'm afraid of my set Fate which is known to forces beyond my control. #Constructs3

[Keys] Quick to find our seats but slow to figure out a destination, I offer, "Hungry?" Although I'm not looking forward to eating with gloves on, I always look forward to Mahagony's smile as she accepts. It's been so rare for me to be the cause of it these days. #Constructs3


[Keys] Even with our weather being colder than Antarctica, people still come together to enjoy a good meal at StLuvie's. We're greeted by heat, the murmur of political conversations, and a server who must be wondering how the fu-- this establishment is still open. #Constructs3

[Keys] People gotta eat, and I can do breakfast all day long. Prior to being seated, Mahagony decides, "Let's go wash our hands," and tugs me by those hands toward the bathroom. Buffalo Grove isn't hung up on gender, so nobody pays any mind to us both in there. #Constructs3

[Keys] She removes my gloves and examines each finger and key for ironically the first time. Mahagony holds our hands under the faucet as we share a slather of generic soap but also a moment. I'm reminded of the eroticism of clay-molding during a pottery scene. #Constructs3


[Keys] Somehow she managed to sexualize my otherworldly deformity. Wet hands and all, I hoist Mahagony up and twist her onto the counter. Record-breaking subzero temperatures outside? Making out in a StLuvie's bathroom? That's some bucket list shi- right there. #Constructs3

[Keys] If you were wondering why Fate had gone radio silent, it's because she's a sadistic fu--ing bitc-. Not all keys belong to locks. The word has another meaning of instrumentality. As opposed to functionality, like how winter clothing can be cumbersome here. #Constructs3

[Keys] For that very reason, I'd opted for foreplay worming my right hand between the layers. Without becoming too overly graphic, it came as a shock to her. Yep I unlocked something within Mahagony alright. Only now (and forever more) she'll equate it with Fate. #Constructs3

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