"You, me, and Alison. We're going to take
down the corporate monstrosity that has our country in it's thrall!"
"This… this is amazing!"
"Red, that’s insane."
"It's not, Frank, it's not! It's what needs to be done! Someone
has to show them that we are not going to tolerate their abduction
of our society!"
"A success," said Orloske, "An unparalleled success!" He
could not believe what he was hearing.
"He's been like this since CCI."
"It could be mind control."
"Jesus! A man has one moment of clarity and everyone thinks
he's being controlled! Frank, when have you ever known me not to be
"But we can't get video?" Orloske asked.
"No, Sir," said Katz, "The PC camera seems to have fallen
behind his desk. All we're getting are wires and the carpet."
"Could it be DI&R?"
"No, if they knew Red was here they'd have contacted me. Besides
they are a corporation."
"Hello, guys, I'm right here. You know, Red, the guy with
the big plan for our future?"
"But who else could it be?"
"I don't know. Actually…there is one thing. On the computer."
Orloske looked up at Katz who shrugged.
"What has gotten into you guys? Do you like being subjugated
to the needs of an uncaring money machine entity?"
"What is it?"
"There's a program… a program that seems to be generating
and transmitting files. Some sort of… virus, I suppose."
"Where did it come from?"
"It appears to be related to this 'DVDish' website in some
"Who is this?" Orloske demanded. "Who is this talking
"Unknown," said Katz.
"Record his voice, crosscheck it."
"You think a DVD website is controlling my mind?"
"I don't know! It seems to be… gathering information
about you, at the very least. I don't know."
"You realize that that's stupid, right Frank? No wonder you
ended up at McDonald's."
"A dream I had. Nothing. Look, if you’re worried about
the computer controlling my mind, just-"
"What happened?" said Orloske.
"Disconnected," said Katz.
"OK," Orloske rose from his chair and stood next to Katz,
whose workstation was comparing waveforms analyses, "continue running
that voice, and have someone look for any reference to anything like
this Coates guy. He's got some sort of… super powered weapons
and I find it hard to believe no one on Earth has ever seen them before."
"No problem, Sir" said Katz.
"Also, contact mobiles B and D, and have them meet me at the gate.
I have a plan."
"Sir!" came a call from the door. Fredericks. "We've
just finished Mobile C's black box review."
"And?" demanded Orloske. His moustache turned downward as
Fredericks looked down at his feet.
"I don't really know how to explain it, sir…"
"Let me guess," said Orloske, "A man who inexplicably
pulled swords and a gun from nowhere attacked him and destroyed his
armor without harming him?"
Fredericks looked up, confused.
"I'd thought as much," said Orloske.
"No, sir," said Fredericks. "That's not what happened
at all. No, it was a girl. She shot Mobile C out of the sky, tracked
him down, beat him, killed him, and set off the suit's self-destruct.
Were… were you expecting…"
"She was the one accessing our Comm?" said Orloske.
"Any clues as to her identity?"
"No, sir… but…"
"Well, sir…" said Fredericks uncomfortably, "when
she… she seems to have… taken one of his fingers."
Orloske slammed his fist down on the countertop. "Damnit! All
right… Katz, get every available person researching this mystery
girl. I'll handle Mr. Coates myself."
"But sir," said Katz, "we don't have enough-"
"Do what you have to," said Orloske. "Close up upstairs
early if you have to."
"This is an emergency, Katz!" said Orloske. "We do what
we have to. If we don't nip this in the bud it could shut us down for
good." He turned and headed out the door towards the gate.
"-Turn it off," said Red, doing so. The almost sub-aural
hum the computer softly died out. "See? Still me. Still as enraged
about the evils of the world. I mean, come on! Do you really think it
would be that easy to mess with my head?"
Argento glared. "Red, who are you talking to? I've seen it done.
More than once. Yes, I do think it's a distinct possibility."
"Fine!" Red said. "You do what you want. I'm going to
start avenging the working man, even if I have to do it all by my lonesome."
"Red, wait," said Argento. Red kept going towards the door. "Let's
just talk about this, ok? I'll tell you what… we'll just wait
a little, go see Chelsea, compare notes, and if you still feel so strongly,
I'll gladly help you out."
Red froze in his tracks. He refused to turn around. "Chelsea?" he
said softly. "Chelsea?" he repeated. "I'd appreciate
it, Frank, if you'd keep your suggestions to yourself if they're all
going to be so asinine."
"Her investigations may have uncovered something yours have-"
Red spun to face him. "I am not going to go crawling to that self-righteous
bitch for help! Besides, she doesn't seem too fond of me anyway, I doubt
she'd want to help. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go decide which
symbol of corporate greed I am going to violently destroy."
"Red, wait!" called Alison, running after him.
"I'll be back home soon, honey," he said, and slipped out
slamming the door behind him.
He flopped into the car, adjusted the seat, and started just driving.
Alison had left the radio on, rather than his CDs, but he left it, since
they were playing Nirvana's "Heart Shaped Box". He was angry.
And rightly so. He had experienced a true epiphany, a life-changing
revelation, and no one seemed to believe in him.
He really couldn't understand it. It seemed so very obvious, something
that should be plain to anyone with common sense. All corporations are,
at their core, founded on principles of greed and corruption. Any good
they did was merely a means to continue their evil practices of relocating
money from the middle and lower class into the upper, and all built
on the backs of the struggling third world. The thing he really wondered
about was why it took him so long to realize it in the first place.
It was seemed so obvious in retrospect, it stood out like… a couple
of robot like things flying down the road waving at him.
Red signaled to the right and pulled his car over into the breakdown
lane, narrowly avoiding being hit by the distracted drivers behind,
in front, and to the left of him. As Red came to a stop and flicked
on his blinkers, the three friendly figures came gliding down to a graceful
landing right in front of the vehicle. Red's mind didn't really work
enough to move much just then. Taking it all in was about his limit.
At this closer perspective, Red could see that the three figures were
wearing (if there was anyone with them) some sort of metallic armor
that seemed to have some sort of jet pack built into its back. Red at
first thought he might be crazy, but he soon realized it was true… two
of the three newly landed figures appeared to be… feminized. Their
chest plates had hard angled breasts molded into them, and even the
leg pieces were made to look more sexualized - as though a "Star
Wars" storm trooper outfit were made 'sexy'. All three wore helmets
that completely concealed their faces, with just a dark visor type part
where the eyes would be… though Red didn't think it looked like
it could really be seen through. The 'male' one was tinted bluish, with
the two 'females' were pink and yellow, respectively. The male lead
the other two towards him, until they were standing next to Red's door,
cars driving by giving them as much space as they could.
Red turned off the radio and pressed the button to roll down the window.
"Was I… speeding?" he said meekly.
The blue armored man paused, and though his helmet could not blink,
Red imagined it did.
Finally, he spoke, his voice coming as though through a speaker. "Red
"Er, oh, yes," said Red, and fumbled with his wallet for
a moment, producing his driver's license.
"Thank you," said the blue suit, but did not take it. Red
slipped it away. "We need your help, Mr. Coates."
That Red was confused was apparent. "How can I help you today,
sir?" Red said, accidentally slipping into one of the lines from
his job. Or rather, former job, now.
"We are called the Liberal Mediators," he said. "We
are freedom fighters in this world of corporate enslavement. We have
heard that you, too, have seen the evils inherent in this system of
"As any clear minded man would," said Red. "I was beginning
to think the entire world had gone crazy."
"Perhaps," said the yellow woman, with a pretty sounding
speaker-voice, "but if the rest of the world has gone mad, it merely
becomes all the more important that we commit ourselves- to helping
it see the light."
"That was quite clever," said Red.
"Thank you," said Yellow, bowing a fraction of an inch.
"We would be honored if you would join us in our crusade," said
"The honor would be all mine," Red replied. "What did
you have in mind?"
"To be blunt," said Blue, "We had thought a systematic
campaign of destruction targeted at local corporate outposts would be
"My thoughts exactly. I was just trying to decide where to begin.
There's so much to choose from. We've got a Wal-Mart over there, a Circuit
"Wal-Mart would be terrific."
"Sure," said Red. "Circuit City can wait. It's funny,
the other day there was this guy with a bomb in there… I actually
saved the place. Ah well, you live, you learn."
Pink, Blue, and Yellow looked at each other for a moment and laughed
a tiny bit. "We'll meet you at Wal-Mart, then?" said Blue.
"Sounds like a plan," said Red. The three nodded briskly
and with a whir of their motors, took to the sky again. Red rolled up
his window and began to drive after them. He turned the radio back on.
"-Unclear what the purpose of this attack is, but it seems to
be terrorist in nature. Again, the city has been rocked today with what
seems to be a terrorist attack. Four local video stores, two Video King
and two Hollywood Video, have been blown up earlier today, as well as
one Catholic Church."
Red's brow furrowed. He didn't mind someone doing away with video stores,
but he didn't approve of blowing up a church. There might be innocent
"As for the video stores, evidence seems to suggest that vehicles
had been driven into the stores and then blown up, in a slightly different
suicide bomber tactic. It is unclear how the church was destroyed, or,
indeed, if it was at all related."
Red had actually wondered if the Liberal Mediators had been involved
in some way, but the suicide bombers seemed to rule that out. Red didn't
really understand that, either. Sure, tearing down the flawed systems
was a good thing- hell, it was really every American's responsibility-
but he couldn't see how dying yourself would help. At this point the
resistance needed as many able bodies as it could get. He would have
to be sure to help change the way the radicals looked at their methods.
"It is also unclear at this time if these events are connected
to the riots at CCI and Target, the fires at the University Computer
Pod, or the apparent suicide at Circuit City yesterday."
What an unfortunate coincidence, he thought.
"There have been eight deaths and thirteen injuries in the video
bombings alone today."
This he found upsetting. This was exactly the wrong-headed thinking
that would stop their cause before it had even begun. Red understood
that. No one had been seriously hurt in the CCI riots. Destroying the
tools of corporate greed is one thing; murder is another altogether.
Killing people, especially innocent people, was wrong. Red saw no excuse
The bombed church was across the street from the Wal-Mart plaza. Red
gazed at it's charred walls and wondered how many parishioners were
killed. It might have been a Saturday afternoon, but he knew there would
have been more than enough people inside to have made it tomorrow's
obituary longer than it should have been.
Red parked a little bit away from the entrance to the Wal-Mart, also
keeping his distance from the police car parked next to some sort of
small crater in the middle of the lot. He got out of his car and looked
up. He could just make out the Mediators against the cloudy October
sky. They gestured and then landed over around the side of the Wal-Mart,
somewhat out of site.
Red jogged over to them.
"Are you ready to bite back, Red?" Blue asked.
"Always," said Red, "But first- no one dies here. No
one even gets hurt, if we can help it. The people working and shopping
here are the victims. They're the ones we're doing this for."
The three were silent for a moment. Finally, Pink spoke up. "Of
course," she said. "We wouldn't have it any other way. Right,
"Right," echoed Blue and Yellow.
"What did you have in mind?" Blue asked.
They discussed the Mediators' capabilities for a while and quickly
worked together to make up a plan that seemed to make everyone happy.
It began with Blue smashing through the main entryway and blaring through
his speaker for everyone to get away from the door. When a flying metal
man says to back off, people tend to do so. Once it was clear, he blew
the entrance with one of his missiles. That was the signal for Yellow,
Red, and Pink. They had been keeping anyone outside away, but this was
their cue to join the destruction.
They entered into the store just as Blue began broadcasting that everyone
should evacuate the premises. Red took out his sword and followed after
the others, flying. They all shouted that no one would be hurt if they
all left the building immediately in an orderly fashion. Pink and Yellow
flew around the store herding those in its nooks and crannies towards
the nearest exits, while Blue stayed near the main entrance making sure
everyone was going out with none coming in.
Red, since he couldn't hurt anyone with his sword, set right to work
destroying. He started with the registers, slashing them right in half,
money flying everywhere. Once in a while, one of the fleeing patrons
or employees would make a grab for the bills, but one slash from Red
and they kept running, less one sleeve. He would also hack at the abandoned
lines of carts waiting for checkout. He didn't bother trying to stop
anyone running out with any unpurchased items, but he liked the idea
of leaving the money to be burned.
Before they had even finished the evacuation, the police arrived in
full force. The one car that had still been in the lot must have radioed
for backup, as they had assumed. The panic of the mobs of people running
from the store kept them at a bit of a distance, however.
Pink and Yellow continued to sweep the store, and as soon as they were
sure a part of the store was abandoned, they let rockets fly. The soda
section was the first to be burst, followed by shoes, and then the electronics
department, which they seemed to take particular joy in, to Red's eyes.
At this point the crowd had made its way out of the building, and the
police were approaching fast. Blue aimed for the roof at the center
of the building, blowing them an escape hatch. Pink and Yellow landed
next to Red. With one on either side of him, he put his arms around
their shoulders and they grabbed a hold of him, taking off, carrying
him above the aisles. Blue fired on the few places Yellow and Pink had
not gotten to as the four of them lifted out of the building.
Red looked down and saw smoke billowing from the hole, flames flicking
furtively out the front entrance, the police still held at bay. They
didn't seem to notice people flying out of the top of the building;
probably not something they're trained to look for.
And all without a single casualty, Red thought. Not bad.
"Where to?" Red shouted over the rushing wind. He watched
as the ground sped by beneath them, all the buildings like models.
"Back to our base," said Blue. His voice came over the speaker
loud enough that Red could hear it with no problem. "We have a
lot to learn from each other."
"Agreed," Red shouted. They sped off in silence into over
the forest on the outskirts of town.
As the door slammed shut behind Red, Alison's vision began.
It began with many explosions, one right after another, destroying
everything in sight.
Next she was back in the dark, looking at the door with the strange
thumping coming from inside. The same pattern as before. "Thump-thump,
thump, thump, thump-thump, thump-thump-thump, thump, thump, tha-thump-thump." She
wanted to listen closer, but she was afraid of what happened last time
she had a vision happening again. She tried to force herself out of
She saw Circuit City. After the last few people left the building,
a man with dark curly hair was locking up the doors. He wandered back
into the depths of the store where Alison could not see him and turned
off the lights. It was still light outside.
She saw a group of four metal-armored people flying around. Two of
the figures appeared to be male shaped and two female. The females were
pinkish and yellowish, the males bluish and whitish. They appeared to
be doing some sort of aerial maneuvers, like training of some sort.
Close turns and dives, chasing each other around. Around and below them
were hills covered with trees, of the sort common around upstate New
She saw mass destruction. More riots.
She saw many people wearing lipstick.
She saw Red pointing a gun at someone's head. Not his gun. A normal
one. Red was shouting, he was angry. He fired the gun into the man's
head, and the man's blood and brains splattered on the wall and floor.
She saw Chelsea in a ransacked hotel room. She was packing up her things,
She saw Argento standing over her looking down.
She realized the vision was over.
"Are you ok?" Argento asked.
"Another vision," said Alison.
"He's gone," said Argento. "I didn't get to stop him
He held out his hand and helped Alison up from the floor.
"What did you see?" he asked her.
"Red killing a man. Shooting him point blank in the head."
Argento frowned. "Red wouldn't…"
"Not usually," Alison replied, "but he's not exactly
"We have to find him. What else did you see?"
"Explosions, violence. That same room I saw before, with the beat.
I saw Circuit City. There were these weird flying people in colored
armor. I saw Chelsea packing up and leaving."
"Chelsea leaving?" asked Argento. "Was this in the future,
"I can't really tell," she said. "It could be anytime,
"We can't let her leave. She may be our only hope of stopping
"She didn't have any luck last time," said Alison.
"It doesn't matter. Grab your coat. We need to go."
"To Chelsea," he said. "We have to make sure she stays.
We may need her help."
"Alison! Not you, too!"
"I don't want to go to her!"
"She told us to keep away from her, and I recommend that's what
"Alison, that is not an option," said Argento. "Red
is in serious trouble. If someone is controlling his mind, there's no
telling what he's capable of. We need all the help we can get. We're
going to find Chelsea and that's final."
"Oh, fine!" said Alison, sulking.