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The Art of WarThe Art of War
"Well, this is awkward," said Chester.
The Insurgents were gathered around Vlad and David, both holding invitations in hand. It was a simply, lightly worded letter - one that betrayed an array of darker intentions.
"It's an olive branch," mused Vlad, "They want me to change sides, to inform on you - like Catwoman did. Why else would they send me this when they know Plasmius is a member of the Insurgency?"
"But you won't," snapped David, "Would you?"
"I established this sect," replied Vlad, "I'm hardly going to destroy it in exchange for clemency."
"You might have done that a year ago," grunted David.
"That was a different time," snarled Vlad, "A different time...and a different man."
"Vlad's taken a new leaf, David," nodded Tucker, "He won't betray us."
Vlad raised an eyebrow at Tucker. He shrugged.
"Fine," nodded David, "In any case, this is an opportunity. We can infiltrate the exhibition, gather intel on the Regime's higher ups."
"We can also use it as a
Wealth and TasteWealth and Taste
"Please allow me to introduce myself,
I'm a man of wealth and taste,
I've been around for a long, long year,
Stole many a man's soul and faith..."
"Are you entirely sure this song is appropriate, Lieutenant-Colonel?"
"It's just what's on the radio, Mr. Mayor," shrugged Simmonds.
Mayor Tang, Simmonds and Mr. Burns were being driven in a black limo to the airport. Smithers was at the wheel, and a local radio station was playing a rather unfortunate track.
"Right," grunted Mayor Tang, "Now, remember what I said, Simmonds - I want security to be airtight. The Insurgency is not going to embarrass us again, not after that Mainframe crap..."
"Don't worry, sir, I have my best officer on it," replied Simmonds, "The only people who know about our plans for protection are myself and Captain Springwater."
"Good, good," muttered Mayor Tang.
"We're here, sirs," said Smithers as the limo slowed to a halt.
Mayor Tang looked out the window. A large aircraft was abo
A God from the MachineA God from the Machine
Area 51 had not weathered the turbulent times. The combined force of Superman, Wonder Woman and Yellow Lantern had descended upon Majestic-12 within a month of taking power. General Powers and most of his command had been annihilated after refusing to surrender, and the base had been dismantled.
And yet, they had forgotten to deal with the hidden missile silos.
Computerised systems started up, and the silo doors opened. Twelve Reinheit-tipped rockets began preparations for launch...
"Why, Grunge?" demanded Vlad, "Why work for Majestic-12? Why wipe out nonhuman life?"
"MAJESTIC-12'S MISSION WAS PURE," replied the Mainframe, "IT GAVE ME PURPOSE. IT GAVE ME REDEMPTION."
"Redemption?!" spluttered Jazz, "You're trying to murder thousands because they're different! You're about as far from redemption as you can get!"
"CONSIDER THIS," retorted the Mainframe, "THE REGIME WAS FOUNDED BY A KRYPTONIAN ALIEN. IT IS ENFORCED BY ALIENS AND METAHUMANS. ONCE MY PLA
To Catch A ThiefTo Catch A Thief
"YOU ARE HIS SON."
West looked up from the rifle he was cleaning.
"YOU ARE LIEUTENANT COMMANDER REGINALD GRUNGE'S SON," the Mainframe boomed.
"Yeah," snapped West, "I am. Hell's your point?"
"I FEEL...EMOTIONS AROUND YOU," the Mainframe replied, "ANGER. OUTRAGE...DISAPPOINTMENT. YOUR FATHER PROGRAMMED THESE FEELINGS."
"Man lived an asshole and he died an asshole," sniffed West, "He left when I was four - never came back, never gave mom anything - yet he kept asking me to come join him and his damn MiB friends. What a joke."
"YOU DO NOT LOVE HIM."
"Look, I'm not taking family counselling from a glorified tin can," snarled West, "Shut up."
There was a long silence before the Mainframe spoke again.
"Hey corporal! Alpha's not checking in! Go check it out!"
The corporal sighed, calling up his men as he walked into the alleyway. Likely, Alpha Team had gotten lost - again.
The Regime had started conscription. The usual targets were called up
War CrimesWar Crimes
The Mainframe was combing through the files - not to advance its own interests this time. This time, it was almost...curiosity that drove it to this achieve.
It was the old Department of Defence personal files, and the Mainframe was looking for it's creators.
Eventually, it found a folder.
---LT. COM. R GRUNGE, USN - DISHONOURABLE DISCHARGE 01/17/92---
Underneath this was a second file.
---LT. COM R. GRUNGE TRANSFER TO MAJESTIC-12 09/18/92---
This was the Lieutenant-Commander's salvation. Rather then face trial for the attempted destruction of a civilian airliner, Grunge had leant his computer expertise to a commander of questionable morals - Lieutenant-General Vernon Fredenall Powers, US Air Force, head of Majestic-12.
"Tell me, Grunge," Powers asked, pacing the small office in the military prison, "Between you and me - why did you try to shoot down that plane?"
"We thought it was an Iranian bomber..." Grunge began.
"Not the official story, Commander
Ghost in the MachineGhost in the Machine
"Lieutenant Commander Reginald Grunge."
Vlad opened an image on the laptop and showed it to the gathered insurgents.
"He commanded a frigate during Operation Desert Storm," he explained, "But he lost his commission after attempting to shoot down a civilian aircraft. After that, he went into the IT business. He and his sons, Henry and Gordon Grunge, made their own operating system, which they called Mainframe. After nobody bought it, the elder Grunge went insane - essentially shut himself in his factory until he died three years ago."
"We're guessing this 'Mainframe' the Regime's allied with is a development of that OS," continued David, "Furthermore, the Regime keeps the upper hand as long as it controls the Internet."
"So, we've gotta shut down a computer," nodded Chester, "Let's just smash it."
"Not that easy, McBadbat," replied Sandy, "The Mainframe's based at Grunge and Sons. The whole place is locked down - whole company of the Regime's hounds, plus tan
Volpi.You will find that the story you tell
is very rarely your own. In Lucca,
even the smallest pebbles
breathe in the warm sunlight.
Knotted stones and cobbled roads
beat out a paper-dry heartbeat heat
my city breathes in and out,
inhales sparrow air.
It's writing a story.
You are the pen.
You will find that in Lucca
the daisy chains forge fire
in side streets and back alleys.
Teenagers intertwine. Tell me,
odd flower, are you still closed?
Here we are colored wax;
the heat of the city melts us.
We run into each other, rhapsody
of pigments. Operas are our specialties.
Open up; feel the reds.
If not, try and see them. There is a place
of deep knife marks, a street
long as midnight
you may learn something there.
Valentina's voice glimmers like red wine.
You may enjoy intoxications. Still,
know alcohol has no story
and will swallow your own.
Find the sign with the wolf on it.
You'll know the place. Epiphanies ring true as church-bells.
Lucca still guides the wanderers
to well sp
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