Apologies to Bonitas (and America, the template for Bonitas), for leaving her chained up in that sewer for quite so long.
Below, we have the concluding part of Inpurutia’s first Destroy the World plot, and a new minor superhero character.
Stay tuned for a less minor superhero and a suitably epic plotline. But for now, let’s go back to the sewer, where Bonitas has been chained up and left, exposed to the mysterious manufactured mineral that slowly saps away at her life…
Bonitas struggled against the chains holding her, the shard Inpuritia called NegAwe sapping her will. The comms device on her wrist spoke, startling her.
“Bonitas? Hey! Can you hear me?”
It was Millie, the genius Bonitas had rescued from the streets, and she would have punched the air if only her arms were free. She craned her neck a little, as if it would help transmit her response, “Millie! I’m here but I’m trapped!”
“And Inpuritia released the virus!” came the panicked reply.
Bonitas stared in horror at her wrist, as if hoping for it to squawk “April Fool” and give her some better news. The moon about to crash into the earth, perhaps. But there was only silence.
“Uh, Bonitas?” came Millie’s voice after a few moments.
“Millie I’m chained up, and she’s left that shard – I can’t get free!” Bonitas fought to keep the panic from her voice. “Don’t suppose this gadget of yours has any…any…” struck by a fit of dizziness, Bonitas trailed off, her chin dropping to her chest.
“Bonitas?”came Millie’s voice. “Bonitas!”
Bonitas strained to lift her head, even as her eyes drooped, the shard of NegAwe seeming to glow smugly in the dim light.
Elsewhere in the city and, hour by hour, further beyond, hospitals were bracing for an onslaught caused by the sudden, inexplicable flu epidemic. It wouldn’t be long before the morgues were in need of the most help, but right now they were sending home anyone that could go, opening abandoned wings and buildings, and preparing every spare spot for beds. Stockpiles of antiviral medication were being produced in some places, while others could only count their flu relief options in despair.
Panic ate around the edges of the city’s mood, and through this panic strode something that on most days would cause a raised eyebrow from the most wordly-wise, but that today merited barely a glance.
The figure was of average height and average build, bald-headed not so much from any haircut as hair simply not belonging there. One half of zir face, one arm, most of zir torso and one leg were metallic, the rest flesh, but both hiding, if anyone but knew it, a system of cybernetics, the complexity of which was enough to baffle most.
In the setting sun this genderless figure seemed to gleam black and red, the frown ze wore darkening zir face.
As ze walked, ze heard a cry, a squeal of brakes, and in two large strides ze was in the road, car held in place with one arm as ze gently moved a young boy out of harms’way and back into his mother as the driver of the car which almost hit him yelled something obscene and sped recklessly away.
The mother turned, a grateful thanks dying on her lips as she took in the figure before her. Ze allowed the mother a moment to stare, unfazed, knowing she meant no harm and would feel guiltier if ze left without allowing h er to compose herself and offer the thank you she intended.
After a moment, she shook her head slightly and cautiously took zir hand in hers, silently apologising for her reaction, “Thank you,” she said earnestly, “Thank you.”
Ze nodded and squeezed the hand gently to show she was forgiven, then smiled with ze fleshy side of zir face and turned, continuing zir walk where ze had left off.
The interlude had served for zir brain to kick into high gear. This flu was in no way natural, and the rumours in the city were clear – there was only on likely culprit, and therefore only one person ze should be looking for. It was time to find the city’s superhero and introduce zirself.
After a few moments of contemplation ze closed zir eyes and hunted through theelectronic signals arond the city, filterng until only one remained. Tuning in, ze heard a panicked young voice calling a name ze had so far only heard by rumour.
“Bonitas…” ze murmured to zirself, tracking the signal to its source on both sides, automatically marking the location of the voice as ze turned to follow the trail to the other end. Ze could only hope it wasn’t too late to do something about the flu before people started dying in their thousands.
Bonitas jerked out of her stupor at a hammering noise coming from the wall beside her. As she lifted her head, she saw the concrete crack then, with another heavy thud, shatter outwards.
Viscura stepped forwards, waving the stone dust away, “Sorry. Actual way in blocked.” Ze frowned, “You look sick.”
Bonitas managed a weak grunt and cast her eyes at the shard of NegAwe.
Viscura picked it up, and looked back at her, “This?”
Bonitas bobbed her head slightly.
Viscura nodded and closed zir fist around the shard with a splintering sound. When ze opened zir hand again, there was nothing but more dust, which ze brushed to the floor before reaching out and pulling away the chains that bound Bonitas as if they were made of wet paper. “Better?”
Bonitas pushed herself slowly to her feet, holding the chair for support, “I will be, thanks… Who are you?”
Viscura shook zir head, “Viscura. Talk later. Safe first.”
Bonitas nodded and allowed herself to be picked up and hung across one of Viscura’s shoulders as ze strode back through the broken wall, up along the passage ze had created, and out into the fading sun. Setting Bonitas gently on her feet, one arm still holding her upright, Viscura waited for her to speak.
“We need to get to Millie,”Bonitas said finally, her voice hoarse. She lifted her wrist with effort and spoke into the comms device, “Millie? Are you still there?”
There came an immediate sigh of relief, “Yes! Thank fuck, what happened?!”
“Later,” Bonitas brushed her questions aside, “I’m coming back, and bringing a friend. We need to find a way to stop the virus.
“On it already, see you.”
Bonitas smiled tiredly, “Think you can help me get home? That stuff is bad for my health.”
Viscura nodded, “Tracked signal, know where to go. Shoulder best to carry, is ok?”
Bonitas nodded, “Is ok.”
Viscura picked her and began a gentle jog, zir long strides covering ground easily. Still, by the time they reached Bonitas’home she was fast asleep. Viscura tapped gently on the door and waited.
Millie opened up and stepped back in surprise, her jaw dropping slightly,” Holy fuck, you’re the friend?”
Viscura nodded, “Rescued Bonitas. Needs rest.”
Millia stood back to let zir in and motioned towards the hallway, “Bedroom up there, first door at the top. I’ll be in there,” she motioned again to the living room door.
After depositing Bonitas carefully onto her bed, still asleep, Viscura found Millie in her makeshift living room laboratory. “You work here?”
Millie sighed, “Not quite the secret underground lab we should have, but its early days yet,” she turned and began to study Viscura, who stood still and allowed the scrutiny. “So, what the hell are you?”
Ze shrugged a little, “Made in a lab.” Ze paused and bowed zir head for a moment, “Probably still there. Maybe could be yours.”
Millie’s face brightened, “Yeah? Could you show me – when there’s time, I mean? Wait, why’s it not being used?”
“I can take you.” Viscura agreed, ignoring the second question.
Millie’s eyes narrowed slightly, “Who made you? What happened to them?”
Viscura’s jaw tightened and ze said nothing.
Millie rolled her eyes “Fine, whatever, be all secrety. Anyway,”she turned to her computer,”This virus is some serious shit. It’s out and it’s started to infect. If my figures are right –which they are – it’ll have this city down in less than a day. By then it’ll be well on to infecting the areas around us, then beyond. Think I’ve got a way to stop it, but it’s gotta be fast. You up for it?”
Viscura nodded, “Came to help.”
“Uh-huh,” Millie turned around and gave zir a suspicious look.
Viscura looked back, zir face blank.
“Don’t know how long the Lady’ll be asleep, but she has till I’m done then we’re waking her up. What made her sick anyway?”
“Mineral rock,” Viscura answered, “Was killing her. I destroyed.”
“Well thanks for that,”Millie responded absently, already buried in complex calculations that revolved around the computer and a machine containing vials of clear fluid.
Viscura moved zirself quietly to a corner and stood.
As Millie worked, Bonitas woke and persuaded Viscura to sit with her on the sofa, instead of standing discreetly in the corner. They talked quietly as they waited, Bonitas shooting occasional anxious looks between Millie and the clock.
Just as the dawn began to illuminate the city, revealing the chaos the dark had hidden, Millie stepped back from her machines, wiping her eyes, “Done,” she whispered to herself, turning around. “Bonitas! Hey, when’d you wake up? You feel better? I got it, look!”
Bonitas smiled, “I feel better, thanks. What did you make?”
Millian held out her hands to show them. She held two hexagonal shapes, connected by a clear tube filled with wires and clear fluid, “Cure. Get it high enough , it’ll detonate, seed the sky with rainclouds. Rain’ll disperse this nanovirus I made to counteract and eliminate the flu. It should only just be getting outside the city now, so I calculated the best place for the clouds to form so they’ll spread right. Once the nanos are out, they’ll hunt and kill until the virus doesn’t exist anymore, then they’ll self-destruct.” With a few taps, she brought up a map of the city and focused it on the clear wall. A red dot flashed slowly towards the southwest of the city. “Set it off there, high enough up, and it’ll have this thing down in no time,”Millie nodded and held out the device to Bonitas.
Bonitas took it thoughtfully, “The rocket pack will take me that high up?”
Millie nodded, “Absolutely. Might bring you back down again, too.”
“Might?” Bonitas raised her eyebrows.
Millie nodded, biting her lip, “Had to modify it quickly. The cold is gonna cause problems with the fuel system. I shielded it as well as I could.”
“And how do I know when I’m far enough up?”
Millie turned to her computer and tapped a few keys, “There –your comms device will let you know.”
“So I go there, fly upwards, let go of this thing when I’m told to, and then hope I don’t break every bone in my body getting back down again? This is your plan?”
“It’s the best one I could come up with! I was kinda on a deadline!”
Viscura stood, “I go with. Will catch if falling.”
Bonitas smiled up at zir, “You’re strong enough for that?”
“Then I’m gonna owe you a couple of lives by the time we’re done here. Millie, anything else I need to know?”
“Inpuritia is monitoring everything. I’ll jam what I can but you might get some trouble.”
“I think we can deal with trouble,”Bonitas reached up to pat Viscura’s shoulder, “Right?”
Viscura nodded again.
“Alright. Millie, I’ll see you soon – and we can talk about that lab.”
Millie grinned, “Good luck. Don’t die before the world’s saved!”
“Um. Thanks?” Bonitas slipped into the straps of her jetpack.
Viscura said nothing, following Bonitas out of the apartment and onto the street.
As the two heroes began to run to the allocated spot, the destruction became clear. The city was in meltdown. There were few people left standing by now, but it was clear that they had panicked while they still could. Cars were crashed, windows were broken, people lay dead or dying in the road, unable to move any farther.
As they ran, Bonitas saw a group huddled in the shadow of a truck, fallen on its side. As they passed, only the older man raised his head, the rest of what might have been his family either dead or too weak to move.
They passed a body, dead not of the flu but of something heavy to the back of their head.
Another body, a small child, lay abandoned on the side of the road.
That was enough. Steeling herself, Bonitas forced her gaze forwards, away from the scenes of death and violence that would sap her strength.
The comms device bleeped as they reached the spot calculated by Millie and they stopped, looking around.
“Millie, any bad guys heading our way?”Bonitas asked the comms device.
“I confused ‘em while you were moving, but I can’t scatter your signal anymore. They’ll be coming – soon.”
Bonitas looked anxiously up at Viscura, who was scanning the area, waiting. Ze looked as solid as rock. “You able to do this, fella?”
“Got no gender,” Viscura corrected, “But can fight. Scream if you fall, I will catch.”
“I think we can pretty much guarantee that,” Bonitas laughed grimly, settling the jetpack comfortably on her shoulders and strapping the controls to her wrists, the device hanging from her belt by a magnetic clasp.
“Go,” Viscura ordered, as zir sensors picked up movement coming towards them.
Bonitas nodded, fired up the propulsion, and shot into the sky.
Viscura stood perfectly still, reading the approaching signals. As the first group appeared around the corner, ze focused zir gaze on them, a bolt of EMP shooting towards them, and sending each to the floor, their brains scrambled.
The next group got the same treatment.
And the next.
But the next had gotten closer, forming up and beginning to fire their weapons at what they assumed was unprotected skin.
Viscura’s skin hardened, each round having its energy dampened as it hit, falling harmlessly to the ground as ze whirled and sprinted towards the group. They scattered, even as zir hands closed on two necks, lifting and throwing them backwards with ease. The rest of the group got no more than a few steps before they received the same treatment, and ze looked around for the next.
Two groups approached, each person trying to hang back and avoid zir attentions.
Viscura approached slowly, head swinging from side to side as more groups came into view.
As ze kept them in a holding pattern, there was a detonation from above, and the sky began to darken with stormcoulds. Viscura grunted and moved carefully back to where Bonitas would be returning to earth, senses primed to spot her descent.
Inpuritia’s men looked warily up at the sky, and back at Viscura, who took the opportunity to send out more EMP pulses.
Bonitas came into view below the clouds. The jetpack was struggling, its propulsion system sputtering in the cold. Eventually the jetpack completely sputtered out, and Bonitas’ descent sped up rapidly.
Hearing her scream, Viscura growled at the remaining henchmen, “You lose. Go.”
There was a moment of hesitation before the first broke and ran, the rest following quickly behind.
Viscua looked up; positioning zirself directly below Bonitas, whose scream could now be heard from the ground.
Ze caught the falling hero easily and set her back on the ground as rain began to fall around them.
“Thanks again,” Bonitas smiled, looking up into the rain, “You are waterproof, right?”
Viscura grunted, the human side of zir face twitching in a slight smile, “Waterproof.”
“Just checking! Shall we get out of the rain anyway?”
Viscura nodded and they set off at an easy jog back to Bonitas’ apartment.
Millie was waiting for them, a large grin plastered across her face, “See? I know you’d get back in one piece.”
“How long until this works?”
Millie turned to her computer, “Already will be. Few hours max and the hospitals’ll be seeing people cured.”
Bonitas nodded, “Good work Millie. And you, Viscura.”
Millied leaned against her worktable, “Good work all round. Well done team and all that crap. Now, about that lab you mentioned…”