Four Stories Told in Order to Mislead a Sentient Severed Hand That Just Wanted to Ask a Goddamn Personal Question for Once

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Vladivostok's morning air rushed by the two of them as the train rumbled beneath. The feeling made him hold her even closer. The kiss was passionate until he heard a familiar click around his left hand. He broke away and looked down at the handcuffs binding him to the top of the train.

"Katarina." Cimmerian sputtered. "Why?"

Katarina's face was stone still with tears running down her cheeks. "They'd never let us be free Jeremiah. You know this. If not your Foundation then the GRU would find us. This is the only way."

"Katarina!" Cimmerian looked to the front of the train. "This train is going to explode in less than a minute!"

"I am sorry my love." And with that Katarina leapt from the train and disappeared into the forest below.

Cimmerian fumbled for his lock-picks and began to work on the handcuffs. He'd just managed to open the lock when…

… three newly minted gods blasted Cimmerian with full force. Suddenly, a cave two miles below the surface of Indiana filled with light as the energy struck the barrier surrounding him.

"Only two bullets." Cimmerian muttered to himself, surveying his surroundings. He took off in a dead sprint towards the cave wall, hopping over the dead agents on the ground.

The laughter in his head made it impossible for him to focus on anything other than killing the three gods on the other side of the cave. Cimmerian leapt over the last body and put his left foot forward before hitting the wall to kick off it. He spun backwards in place and lined up the shot.

The first bullet left the barrel with the roar of an ancient beast. The runes along the sides of the bullet glowed purple; almost brighter than the energy pouring out of the gods' hands. The first god's head kicked backwards and the bullet continued through to the other two. All three stood frozen as the energy flickered and died.

Cimmerian landed on the ground and looked up at the deities. "I'll save one for the big guy then."

The dead gods didn't answer, but a low hum filled the cave. Cimmerian's eyes went wide as he dived behind the pile of bodies. The dead gods exploded in a spray of…

… bullets. The convoy was taking heavy fire while Cimmerian hung out of the passenger side of the van. The terrified driver drove them north on I-65.

Cimmerian squeezed off 3 shots with his pistol; two pinged off the front grill and one hit the front right tire of a pursuing SUV. The tire popped and the rim dug into the pavement at 90 miles an hour. The whole vehicle lurched and flipped over at full speed. Cimmerian ducked back into the cab.

The driver was dumbstruck. "Aren't you a researcher?"

"I am." Cimmerian reached into the glove box and loaded a new magazine into his pistol. "But I have experience with this."

Cimmerian grabbed the top of the van and pulled himself back out. There was one more black SUV following them, but it was a bit further back. The van's hardened exterior deflected incoming automatic weapons fire and Cimmerian fired back. The man hanging out of the SUV's passenger side went limp. The body hit the pavement and got dragged beneath the SUV.

The driver watched this happen in the rear view mirror as Cimmerian pulled himself back into the van. "Where did you learn to do that?!"

"Introduction to English Literature," Cimmerian said. The grin turned to horror as an eighteen-wheeler slammed into the driver's side door at full speed. The whole world went into a spin and then…

… the timer for the chicken went off. Cimmerian looked up at the banner above the park entrance. The Summer Charity Potluck was just getting started. Cimmerian and Dr. Gerald had decided to cook something special for the event, and they were almost finished.

The pots and pans arrayed on the tailgate of Gerald's pickup truck were all steaming with their own aromas. Cimmerian reset the egg timer for 15 more minutes and went around to the side of the truck. Gerald was inside listening to the radio.

Cimmerian leaned on the door. "Chicken's almost done."

"Nice. Hey, did you see what my son got me for my birthday?"

Cimmerian cocked an eyebrow. "No."

Gerald leaned over and produced an odd looking piece of equipment. "It's a…

"…hoverboard!" Cimmerian laughed and took a sip from his cup in the Site-17 cafeteria.

Han was silent for several seconds.


Cimmerian almost blew water through his nose. "Oh come on! It's all true!"

Han sighed. "Tell the truth. How did you get your scars?"

"Well, I was supposed to review containment procedures on the Foundation's lunar base…"

Han hopped off the cafeteria table in a huff.

Cimmerian put his good hand out for a moment to stop him, but then decided against it. Instead, he put the glove back on his red left hand.

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