I want that twink Obliterated
rating: +16+x

⚠️ content warning

Graphic depictions of abuse ahead. Proceed with caution.


<Password accepted; you are now connected.>

PINK FLY: Hey.

KeeLee: Hey, girl! Got a present for moi?

PINK FLY: About that.

PINK FLY: Fats got away. I'm not sure how, but all six of the people I sent for him are MIA. Fel's last Snitch must've been in on it. Told my Mosquito he was immune to it, which shouldn't be possible.

PINK FLY: *her, she

KeeLee: Awww, Terry. You really should have run all this by me.

KeeLee: I forgive you, though. <3

KeeLee: Take as loooooong as you need. Not literally, of course! I think one of my memory cards is beginning to fail.

PINK FLY: Don't worry, it shouldn't be too long before I snag her.


"Hey, Judas."

When you lived in Outer Lichtenberg, you had to accept that injuries incurred within its boundaries were to be treated within said boundaries. Filter all such treatments through the Veil and the OL Zeitgeist's hostility towards capitalist systems, and you never came away with all that much. But good god, the residents did their best, even if, looking at Judas, Fats Burg wished medicine wasn't such a rigged game.

Judas turned over to face Fats. He opened his mouth, and nothing came out.

Silence, then. Was Fats any better? What should Fats have said to the man who saved his life? To the bandaged man hopped up on a cocktail of bootleg painkillers and antibiotics, clinging to life in a city menaced by the tumor of nazism?

Fats furrowed his brow.

'Lindholm is missing, as are her girlfriends and "Tamiko".' Too forced. Fats should have been angrier.

'The nazis have Old Town. Started anchoring it in place.' And why did he need to hear that now?

'We strung one of the fuckers up in a Downtown square.' But did that change the fact that the nazis were holding a portion of the city?

"Fuck." Fats sighed. "I'm sorry, Judas."

Judas blinked. Adjusted his position on the bed the tiniest bit. Coughed once, then twice. Contrary to how it sounded, the bandages over his hand weren't any more bloody than they'd been before covering his mouth. Fats considered that a victory.

This was pointless. Fats had things to do. None of them were as important as this. They could wait. Outer Lichtenberg couldn't wait. Fats couldn't wait. Sooner or later he'd realize that his hands were adhered to the table by molasses, and that he couldn't do anything and indeed, had nothing more important to do than visit Judas. Judas could wait. Fats could wait. Everything had to be done immediately. Nothing felt right because nothing mattered, except the everything else.

This was a losing game. Fats turned to leave, and—

"It should have been me, Fats."

Fats made his way out of the building, and if the wall a half meter from his head erupted into a crater to the sound of a distant crack, he could take solace in knowing he still had the capacity to "do", even as the city twisted around him.


Acolyte Dunst set her teacup down. "So why did you try to kill Fats?"

If Dunst were to describe Acolyte Zink in a single word, it almost certainly wouldn't have been enough. Zink was sharp angles, pipes and hinges and strings, metal hidden under a leather coat and a dirty smile. He was Heinrich von Schaeffer, a historyed veteran that served with the SKP until their treacherous defection to the Allied Occult Coalition. Zink was loyal to a fault. Patient. Frugal and resourceful. The vicious vanguard vying for the realization of Mr. Rass's utopia.

An idiot who almost pasted the Mason's head to the brickwork.

Zink smiled. "You want the girl dead, no? She is… quite the thorn in your side."

Dunst grimaced. There was to be no vaping around Zink, given his unique composition; it only made her cravings stronger.

"Surely, miss, it is better that she is dead." Zink broke eye contact to pour himself more oil. "The elimination of the antisocial is… part of our goal, no? All the more reason when you've a knife to the head of a snake."

Dunst took another sip of her own drink. Inhaled, exhaled. "I'm not going to pretend I know the ins and outs of your work. I'm not a sniper, haven't outfitted myself with telescopic sights. But I know you couldn't have lasted seventy-something years with Mr. Rass if you shot the wrong people. Not in Germany. Trust me when I tell you that I need her alive, Zink."

Zink quirked an eyebrow. "And I thought the English… bloodthirsty. What's on your mind, miss?" A smile like a wolf. "Or do you just wish to revel in suffering?"

Dunst grimaced, and didn't answer.


Walk with purpose.

Outer Lichtenberg was being raped by the nazis' twisted anchors. Whole buildings were dressed in fascistic cancer, apartments into armories, greenhouses into barracks, galleries into trash heaps. There were also the offices. The nazis were building offices of all things. Cannibalizing the beauty of Old Town into an ugly heap of militaristic trash not enough? And why now?

Through those streets, Fats walked with purpose.

The nazis were becoming increasingly harder to avoid. Strips of street, radiating from the rigid horrors of Old Town, were gradually taken over by the nazis, lined with foul demons planting their horrid anchors wherever they could. How easy it had seemed, when all they had to worry about was a stodgy museum curator.

But there was purpose in crossing the streets, and so one was meant to walk with purpose.

What purpose, then? More food? More testosterone? Something to help the war effort? What "war effort"? Fats was not a soldier. A prankster at best.

He had purpose, at least.

(or at least a buzzword)


"What the hell are you doing?"

Acolyte Dunst hadn't bothered to memorize the numbers for wehrdaemons, so she couldn't quite tell exactly what she'd just yelled at. It was… reedy. Firery. Surrounded by a small cloud of sand. Looked at her funny.

It swallowed. "I did… I am building."

"Building."

The thing nodded. "Building."

Dunst removed her e-cigarette from her jacket pocket. Eyed the pathetic little thing as she took her hit. Let the vapor burn her lungs before expelling it into the shape of an ax. "…did you see a young woman walking by? Short, dressed like a man, matched the Mason to a T?"

It tilted its head. Cartoonish. Stupid. "Who is… the Mason? Will she help?"

"No, no." Dunst pinched her forehead. "You're a war demon, you were supposed to capture her."

"I am supposed… to build, though?"

Wide-eyed. Ignorant. Stupid. Degenerate. How the hell was 4R supposed to work like this? "Who the hell is your master? Are they blind? Are you blind? What part of 'wehrdaemon' don't you get?! You wage. War!" Dunst gripped her e-cig just the tiniest bit tighter. "So maybe think about why you're claiming these streets."

It blinked. It actually blinked.

"Do you speak English?"

It nodded.

"Good." Dunst stepped closer. "So do you know what the words 'mainstreamer' and 'vanguardist' mean?"

"I'm… afraid I-"

"A mainstreamer," another step forward. "Seeks mainstream community approval. Say, by community service, perhaps even before said 'community' exists."

The thing swallowed. "A-and the van-"

"The vanguardist, on the other hand, knows that mainstream approval means nothing without a show of force." Yet another step forward. The demon backed into the wall. "A wehrdaemon, being a demon of war, is a vanguardist. Because I am not presently advocating for mainstream support of my values, as good as those values are, I am also a vanguardist. Does. That. Make. Sense?"

It didn't answer. The way it shook, it didn't need to.

"Look at my boots. What color are my laces?"

"…r-red. They're… red."

"Cool. Now let me show you how I earned them."

Dunst's boot connected with the demon's sternum.


"We're out."

Fats nodded. His stomach growled in protest, his back ached in disappointment, and his migraine flared in frustration. But he'd survive.

He'd been doing a lot of surviving.


"So let me get this straight, yeah?"

Like Specialist Knight could get anything straight. At least Acolyte Salz talked and walked like a man. If Acolyte Dunst had her way, he'd be Long Knifed the minute 4R had Outer Lichtenberg under its control. But useful idiots were still useful, so Dunst could stand to swallow her convictions until then.

So here Dunst was, standing in the middle of the reichdaemon prisons, weathering the cries and curses of a thousand reichdaemons. The kind of din that made Dunst appreciate the soundproofing of the training cells. Made her itch to break something, a face or a spirit or the last vestiges of resistance from a particularly recalcitrant daemon. Maybe one of the prisoners. Impatient nostalgia for the recent past.

Knight continued. "You are looking for an uberdaemon to catch the Mason, yeah?"

"Right."

"Only the Mason."

"Right."

"And so he—"

"She." Was it conducive to bar her teeth? No. Dunst did it anyway.

Knight nodded. "Apologies, Acolyte. So… this is rather… correct me if I'm wrong, Acolyte, but this is the same Mason who killed the six man team you sent for her, yeah?"

"We don't know that, Knight." Her e-cig was burning a hole in her purse. "They had Andino's hag. Maybe an oriental sand demon. Top that off, the mission hit more than just the Mason. More people to fight back, Knight."

The specialist furrowed his brow. Hilarious. He thought he could condescend an Acolyte. What the hell had he done, manage a zoo? Flit about like a fairy and hope Dunst didn't peg him for the degenerate he was, pin him to corkboard like an insect and spray him with BLACK FLY until he was normal? Not like he'd managed the mission that got them OL. Nothing more than an insect.

"Regardless, Acolyte, if it is not too presumptuous, I must recommend against this. 4R is hard at work reclaiming the city, and that has… stretched our resources, yeah?" Knight scratches at the back of his neck. "And we are effectively starving the degenerates out of the city. Soon, they will have to go or… die, yeah?"

Dunst took a step forward, taking small satisfaction in the way Knight tensed; the satisfaction fizzled as Dunst opened her mouth to find it empty of words.

Knight cleared his throat. "I'm sorry, Acolyte Dunst. We simply have neither the time, nor the need for a new uberdaemon, yeah?"

Dunst growled. "Then make time, Specialist."

"I think you might be too…" Knight licked his lips, and stopped himself.

The air went still, and for the briefest of instants the reichdaemons almost went quiet.

"…go on."

"It… it was nothing, Aco—"

"Go. On. Say what you wanted to say, Specialist."

Knight gulped. "Acolyte Dunst, I… I apologize, but I really didn't have—"

"You will tell me what you meant to say, Matthew, or I will inform Mr. Rass that a certain specialist with the sexual proclivities of Röhm began exhibiting a defiance akin to Röhm's political proclivities in the face of an Acolyte. Quite the bet to make, yeah?"

A pause.

"…there's… been rumors."

"Go on."

Bending in on himself, Knight continued. "People are… worried about you. They say you've been hyper-aware of the Mason to an… unhealthy extent, yeah? Tracking him — sorry, her — tracking her wherever she goes."

Dunst grimaced.

"And I personally… I personally think that you… might need to take a rest."

Acolyte Dunst blinked.

Dunst slammed him into the wall and bit at his throat, tearing his vocal cords out through sheer force of will. She knocked him to the ground, acquainted him with her boots. Maybe she simply exploded, taking him with her in a burst of hot gore. Perhaps she simply gassed him with BLACK FLY then and there. She just as easily could have chewed him out, broken him down into a whimpering neuter that did exactly what she wanted. It was just as appealing as jamming her e-cig into his eye, knocking him onto his back and stomping the e-cig into his disgusting subhuman brain.

Acolyte Dunst wearily nodded, palming the e-cig in her purse as she turned to leave.


They were out.

All around Outer Lichtenberg, they were out. Out of food. Out of time. Out of mind. Out of ways to get to a Way without running into a band of nazis. The citizens of OL, who could barely escape OL at this point, were well acquainted with the concept of "out".

By all means, the next of their raids should have been weeks ago. OL was hard enough to navigate without nazi-controlled choke points. Like, thank Eris the nazis hadn't wiped them out, but it was beginning to feel more and more like a foregone conclusion that OL would go the way of Catalonia. Did they want to draw all this out?

Fats's mind was wandering. It did that these days.

The chemists had been compromised; that left him out of migraine pills come next week and testosterone come next month. On the bright side, OL was getting a brand new armory, courtesy of the fucking nazis. Sure, a bunch of his friends would go into diabetic shock, but Fats could comfort himself with the knowledge that there'd be one more place to store a fuckload of armaments.

Fats clutched his forehead. Fire from one of the nazis had triggered his migraines again.

Whatever. He had cement; it was one of the few things he had in abundance. Maybe if he sold it someone outside OL, he could finance an external supply line. For now, Downtown needed barricades and vehicle traps, and someone had to deliver it now that Judas—

"Hey."

Fats blinked. Leaning against a nearby wall was a woman he didn't recognize. She sounded… American? Ish? Unusually tall, a little short of 2 meters, and pretty lanky considering. Blonde. Dressed for a stroll in the park, save poorly (and mercifully yellow) laced black boots. Looked to be palming something in her purse.

The woman did some kind of reverse nod. "Tired of these damn nazis."

"…yeah, me too." He shouldn't have been letting himself get stopped like this. "You should stay inside, fuckers crawling like rats through the streets, yeah?"

The woman twitched, and shook her head. "I'm through. I die, I die." She clicked her tongue. "Got a light?"

Fats furrowed his brow. "I look like I got a light? Bag's full as fuck with cement, lady."

There was a pause, suspiciously pregnant, before the woman spoke again. "Heavy stuff. Hard to run with that?"

Got Barricades that need to be built, except something extremely loud in the back of Fats's mind screamed for him to run, and he found himself doing exactly that.

A scant few seconds followed before Fats heard hard rubber meet cement, a steady and furious procession that, despite Fats's best efforts, got closer and closer. Fats barely juked to the left in time to avoid a tackle, leaving the woman reeling to keep from falling. But Fats had a bag of cement, and the woman had half a meter on him; the deck didn't favor him.

Fats turned into the next alley he saw. It wasn't the solution, but it gave him time to think of one.

Clearly, the woman was with the nazis; at the very least, she was their useful idiot. She didn't have a gun, or she would have just shot Fats. But what was in her purse? Why was she out alone?

Something dreadfully familiar clattered to the ground behind him.

On reflex, Fats tore open his bag and sprayed a globule of cement over the cannister. The hissing confirmed his worst fears; the boot to his side confirmed his second worst.

As Fats fell to the ground, the mysterious woman pressed her boot to his neck and held him there. She still wasn't recognizable, this close; almost all of the nazis had been men up to now. Whoever she was, she evidently hated Fats.

The woman held a hand towards the hiss-filled glob of concrete, giving Fats ample time to fill in her details. She was clean, weirdly so for a combatant, with only a scuffed belt to imply action. A glint of metal flashed from a holster on her leg, just under the hem of her skirt; a knife, maybe. It struck Fats that unlike the other nazis, she wasn't wearing any protective equipment. Whoever she was, she wasn't afraid of the gas.

Fats reached a hand to the dropped bag, and earned a boot to his fingers for the trouble. He cried out in pain.

His throat was free!

Fats began chanting a magic incantation, or at least gibberish mixed with random words from the old Fae language. Nothing magic happened, but the woman did step off him long enough to try and kick him in the teeth. It was all Fats needed to roll out of the way, scramble to his feet, and dash down the alley.

She didn't follow, not immediately. Was she still with the cement globule? She did seem weirdly preoccupied with it, earlier. Another mystery that didn't need solving. More time for Fats to run.

Fats turned another corner.

Just his luck he'd be stuck in the fucking alleyways. If Outer Lichtenberg was a labyrinth, the alleys were its twice-as-confusing maintenance tunnels. OL stuck you there if it hated you, or it liked you, or you made the mistake of entering too many alleys at once; you were lucky to get out before moonrise. The only reason it didn't have a capital A was that nobody liked it enough to legitimize its existence.

Fats stopped at an intersection, tried to catch his breath. His feet ached, groaned, burned with cords of fire that ran from his thighs through to his feet. How did Judas do this?

No matter. Fats shook his head, bit his lip, put one foot in front of the other and walked. Wasn't as if the woman could break through the hardened—

CRACK

At the not-so-distant sound of concrete fracturing, and the hissing noises that followed, Fats was back to running. By the sound of bootfalls, so was the woman.

Fats was not a runner. That was Judas and Addison and Arno's jobs, or at least it used to be. They were taller than him, and better at running produce or mail or raw materials across the city. That was before Fats was put in a hospital bed with a head injury for a month. It was a miracle he walked, impossible that he ran; he still wasn't faster than the woman's gaining bootfalls.

A strong gust of wind blew past him as he next turned. It smelled faintly of burnt eggs, and stung the slightest bit. His head felt a little lighter. Fats covered his mouth and ran on.

Another intersection, four-way. One of the buildings had an open loading door; OL taking pity on Fats, maybe. He'd take what he could get.

Fats ran into what looked like an unused machine shop. Power wasn't on, so the only light came from large windows near the ceiling. It was enough to see a raised platform at the other end, doors leading out to what was presumably the street. Its perimeter was lined with horizontal railing, and the ramp up was at the other end of the building's width. Just that much more space to—

The first bootfalls echoed through the shop. He shouldn't have looked.

The woman was gaining on Fats, with a snarl like she wasn't. One of her arms was splayed outwards, towards the door they'd come through, as if she was directing the fizzling blackish-grey mist that slithered into the shop.

Fats turned back forward, to see he was about to run straight into the platform's side. There wasn't enough time to turn to the ramp, or stop, or try to climb up the railing.

At least he was stupid enough to try and jump through an opening in the railing.

It wasn't clean: Fats's heels knocked against the metal, and even through his trousers his knees dragged against the concrete flooring. Between the pain and loud hissing from just behind him, it took a second to realize he'd succeeded.

Fats scrambled to his feet, made his way to the double door at the other end, covered his nose and mouth, tried to ignore the pain as he ran, ran, ran, braced himself to push past the (thank fuck) push door and—

— then he emerged from

some kind of café, maybe?

and nearly barreled off a fancier railing. People who probably weren't nazis glanced over with annoyance, but otherwise went on with their day. The sight of vehicles along the roads of Lichtenberg proper was as comforting as it might ever have been.

A few seconds passed, and the woman burst through the same door he'd came through. Fats barely dodged out of her way as she stumbled knee-first into the railing.

"Damn it!" The woman growled, turning to Fats and opening her mouth to shout at him… but after a quick glance at her surroundings, whatever she was going to say was bitten back, and instead she simply rooted through her purse for something.

Fats should have run. He really should have.

Instead, he shook his head. "Who are you? What do you want? What did you do to the Botanist?"

The woman didn't respond, not even non-verbally; it was as if he'd never asked such a thing. Instead, she pulled out her phone, training it on Fats as if she were snapping a few pictures. Only once she'd tapped it once, twice, three times, did she put it away and train her gaze on Fats. "Know where the nearest smoke room is?"

"I… no."

"Shame. Think I need one." The woman smiled; it didn't look like it reached her eyes. "Next I catch you, I'll detrans your corpse."

And so the woman turned, and walked away.


Acolyte Dunst was reviewing reports when something large and metallic clanked its way into the war room. God, what did Zink want now? She turned around, and—

Dunst wasn't wrong about Acolyte Zink; rather, she forgot to notice the sudden sensation of heat draining from the room, at least until she came face-to-face with Mr. Rass.

"Acolyte Dunst." Mr. Rass smiled. "I do enjoy my personal space. Could you step back a bit?"

Great, he was playing with her. Dunst stepped away from her desk, moving back a meter or so. As usual, attempting to size Mr. Rass up was an exercise in futility; instead, her gaze fell to Zink, standing armed at the precipice. He didn't look like he was here to talk to Dunst, but it didn't seem like he was here to kill her, either. Whatever that meant for her, it couldn't be pleasant.

Dunst looked back to Mr. Rass, standing at attention and nodding. "Apologies, Mr. Rass. Something big?"

"Oh, Acolyte." He chuckled, shaking his head. "At ease. You've been a little tense over these past few days. That's what my… little birds tell me, at the very least."

Mr. Rass wasn't stupid, and it was basically impossible to hide the hint of scorn on Dunst's face. Still, it'd be disrespectful not to try, so Dunst bit back her words and put on the most respectful smile she could manage. "Is this about Fats?"

"Does everything have to be about Ms. Burg, Acolyte Dunst?"

"I'd assumed this was about her."

Mr. Rass smiled, miming a sigh as he looked away. A purely rhetorical gesture, no doubt. "You know, I find myself thinking of you and Acolyte Salz in a kind of doublet." His head turned back to Dunst. "Mentally, physically, you are Aryan pinnacles, brilliant minds in brilliant bodies. The Berlin Office owes so much of its recent success to your collective leadership."

Mr. Rass hummed. "I must admit, however, that this association is not entirely positive. Behind your… brilliance, shall we say, is a peculiar intensity of sorts. In Acolyte Salz, this manifests in anger, bullheadedness. In you…" Mr. Rass made motion of trailing off, but knowing him, he probably already knew how he wanted to insult Dunst. "…I suppose I simply wonder: why Ms. Burg?"

Dunst had done enough for the movement that her accidental scoff didn't worry her. "High-level combatant. What's not to hate?"

"You have reason to hate Ms. Burg, yes." He nodded. "You also have reason to hate that so-called 'Stagehand', yet you appear to pursue Ms. Burg exclusively. I really do appreciate a pure heart, Acolyte… but it seems as if you're overextending yourself."

It wasn't Dunst's fault her smile turned into a sneer. "Sorry, Mr. Rass. Just feels like I'm not doing enough." Dunst crossed her hands behind her back; it wouldn't do for Mr. Rass to see how they clenched. "While he's still— she's still out there, SWJC's got a leader. Feels like I'm doing Bast— Salz wrong if I don't."

Mr. Rass let her words marinate for a moment.

"…I worry about the both of you, you know." Mr. Rass tilted his head to the side. They always did that. "But I know Acolyte Salz is safe, for now. Your obsession with the Mason is not so clear-cut."

"I wouldn't, well, I wouldn't say I'm obsessed."

Zink looked back from his spot at the door. "You… did insist I bring him… her alive. That seems—"

"And what the fuck do you know?!"

The room went dead quiet; even the ever-present hum of the muffled machinery below the war room seemed to still.

Mr. Rass cleared his throat, and Dunst's attention was directed appropriately. He was never quite the scrutable man, sure, but even his weird identity magic wasn't enough to hide the… 'uniqueness', in his current expression. It almost looked human. "…you seem particularly spirited about this subject, Acolyte. Rather than have you bottle such spirit up, I think it would be conducive to work through this problem together. Now: what is it that has you so spirited about Ms. Bur—"

"Mister."

Rass blinked. "…you don't typically interrupt me, Acolyte Dunst. Moreover, Specialist Knight tells me—"

"Fats Burg," and Dunst punctuated her words with a step towards Mr. Rass. "Is a goddamn man, and anyone who says otherwise is a dishonest ideologue with something to prove."

Mr. Rass seemed to flicker, slightly. It was almost funny.

It was Zink who, like a brass bull in a shop, next opened his mouth to spout inane garbage. "Pardon me, miss, but—"

"Jesus Murphy, shut up! Who do you think you're wheeling with that garbage?"

"'Wheeling'? Excuse me, but is that some Eng—"

"You know he's a man!" Dunst found herself storming over Zink. "You have to correct yourself when you talk about him! In your head, in your fucking mind, deep down you know!"

Dunst threw her hands in the air, turning to no one in particular. "Everyone knows he's a man! If you've seen him, if you've heard him talk, if you've taken one look at his EVE readings, you'll know RIGHT. FUCKING. AWAY! Fats Burg could not be any manlier if you castrated every male in the Fourth Reich and shoved their testicles up his testosterone-poisoned cunt!"

Footsteps from just outside the door. Snot-faced interlopers who'd be first along the lampposts, no doubt.

Dunst found herself growling as she turned back to an ever-more dumbfounded Rass. "It doesn't matter what his biology says. That's the thing. Every chromosome in the world couldn't change that. In the face of him, biology is dead."

Dunst spat on the floor. "If we can't even trust biology? Race, the mind, the definition of 'deviancy'?" A laugh forced its way out of her throat. "Opinions!" Dunst's gaze fell to her calloused, work-ruined hands. "All. Just. Opinions."

The war room remained quiet. So damn quiet. Dunst swore she could almost hear the pumping arteries in her own head.

It seemed like an eternity before Mr. Rass cleared his throat once more. "You seem especially stressed, Acolyte Dunst. Perhaps you should process another prisoner." It didn't feel like a suggestion.

Right. Collecting what remained of herself, Dunst gathered her paperwork and left the war room. The scattering of the eavesdroppers almost improved her mood.

***

Dunst flicked on the light, checked the USB camera one last time, and entered "the Botanist"'s cell.

The Botanist was supposed to be the first to go. As the resident botanical thaumaturge, snuffing her — him out of the picture, Jesus Christ, was tantamount to killing the degenerates' food network. Even so, Dunst had been given free reign to do whatever she wanted with him; that it had prolonged the wretch's life was a particularly frustrating irony.

The prisoner looked up from his spot in the corner at Dunst's arrival. Clean streaks down his dirtied face didn't fool Dunst: he'd been crying, sure, but he hadn't been screaming. Nothing she did seemed to make him scream, he just went glassy-eyed and quiet. It was one of the main reasons Dunst hadn't yet Reclaimed his body.

Dunst removed a breakfast bar from her bag. "You hungry, freak?"

The prisoner shrugged.

"Smartass." Peeling the wrapping paper, Dunst took a slow and deliberate bite from the bar. It was processed garbage that tasted the part, but she pretended to savor it anyway. "I'll give you the rest if you scream for it."

The prisoner stared at Dunst, in a way that made her feel like Theresa. That earned him a kick to the stomach. He didn't scream about it.

Dunst kneeled, taking the prisoners chin in her free hand and trying not to think about how much he looked like a woman right now. "Your lasers are garbage, by the way. Barely been two months, and you've already got a bit of stubble coming in. Too many of you freaks to be this bad at self-mutilation."

"The vapor on your breath smells marginally less like manure than usual."

That earned the prisoner a hard slap to the face, which didn't elicit a scream.

Dunst grabbed the prisoner's hair, yanking him into position to face her. "You're so fucking delusional, it's almost impressive. Whose mercy do you think you're at? Mind and body, I could cut you into as many pieces as I want, and I'd get away with it."

The prisoner snorted. "You ever notice your speaking voice is a few octaves below mine? Really makes you wonder."

The next slap was less of a slap and more of a right hook. It still didn't elicit a scream; hell, the prisoner was smiling as she he looked back at Dunst. "Do you have something to prove? I'm less valuable than you'd think, Ms. Warden. Long as OL has seeds, compost, and a few good books, anyone with a brain could take my job." He chuckled. "Maybe communalism's too high-concept for you nazis."

Dunst tried not to growl, she really did. "Big talk for a freak who can't scream."

Again, he shrugged. "My bio family was worse. Besides, I have friends who care about me. You can't gas that out of me."

Insolent brat. Dunst opened her mouth to

laugh, so suddenly that it almost surprised her.


Dr. Nadheer el-Kaber wasn't a common sight in the Downtown. Between his medic work, German studies, and Berlin proper retail job, he was generally too busy to make visits. It was, in retrospect, Fats's first sign that something (else) had gone terribly, terribly wrong.

"Hello, Mr. Burg." Dr. el-Kaber smiled from his spot in the doorway, before retrieving something from his pocket. "One of the… fascists, how you say it, want me to give this to you. I would be… careful?" With that, he extended… some kind of flash drive to Fats.

Fats took it, careful to use his right hand. Turning it around in his hands didn't tell him much; looked to be an unmarked 8 GB. HP brand, so it probably wasn't a resident's.

Fats nodded, looking back to Dr. el-Kaber. "… yeah, thank you, man. Did they say what to do with it?"

"My German is not very good, apologies, but… I think he said there's a message on it?" Dr. el-Kaber paused for a while; he appeared to blocking out his next response with gestures of his right hand. "… I would be careful of traps? It seems like something the would do.

"Right, yeah." Fats licked his lips. "… you got a way home, man? Fu— sorry, nazis crowding the streets now, you know."

The doctor shrugged. "They aren't throwing [some arabic phrase?]. It should not be hard."

"… right, yeah." Fats nodded. "Thanks, either way."

***

Stefanos Glaridis was the closest tech person who hadn't been killed or captured by the nazis. Fats hadn't particularly liked him, but two months of besiegement had a way of smoothing over their disagreements. Besides, Fats needed someone who knew how to handle digital magic.

"You sure about this, Fats?" Stefanos stood off to the side, not quite looking at the screen. It was stupendously fucking encouraging. "There's no way this isn't some kind of trap."

The drive wasn't that unusual, not by the standards of the past few months. None of Stefanos's antiviral software detected anything out of the ordinary, and the typical memetic filters didn't appear to be activating. Aside from a few deleted jpegs of middle-aged suburban women captured by Stefanos's… "image" thing, there was only a single file:

BOTANIST.mp4

Even so, Fats found himself staring blankly at the folder. What message was so important that it had to be presented as a video file? Was it even important? From the ramblings of the incubi halves, the nazis had a tendency to flaunt their cruelty. Was this just another performative display of brute strength?

"Fats?"

Fats blinked, looking back Stefanos. "Fuck, sorry. Right, uh…" Great, his head was beginning to hurt again. "I mean, what else are we going to do, Stef? We're already kinda toasted, yeah? And… fuck, Eris's sakes it's got Lindholm's title. 'mI just supposed to leave that?"

"I mean, yeah?" Stefanos shrugged. "She's probably already dead, Fats. People die in war."

Fats opened his mouth to respond, and because nothing he could have said would have made Stefanos any less correct, he opted instead to double-click on the video file.

It was immediately apparent that this was the worst possible thing he could've done.

The video opened on a dimly lit room with two figures. One was Lindholm, tied to a metal folding chair; the frizzy hair and thigh birthmark made that abundantly clear. Extensive bruising and pinprick burns across Lindholm's skin did little to obfuscate the allegiance of the masked, unusually tall figure beside her.

The masked figure looked to the camera. "I know you're going to want to skip to the end." Its voice was harsh, and clearly distorted through some kind of modulator. "Don't bother. The message of this video can't be known without careful study. I'll make sure of that."

It briefly disappeared into the dark, and as it came back into view, wheeling a tray of nasty-looking implements, Fats swore this would be the hardest thirty minutes of his life.

He was wrong, of course, and not just because the message required him to watch the video four times over.

But he didn't know that, not yet. All he knew was what a bloody scalp looked like.


"Really? That's all you did?"

It would be inaccurate to say that Acolyte Dunst had an undue emotional attachment to Specialist Kinnard. Rather, Kinnard was one of the few men in 4R that weren't pansies, and that was something worthy of respect. He was stubborn in the face of the enemy, remorseless in executing his will, and the only man willing to stand up to Dunst more than once. It reminded her of that one man she cooked for back in Mississippi, without the borderline sadomasochistic hang-ups. Mr. Rass would probably pressure her into bearing him children, soon, and the thought barely even disgusted her.

Dunst took a hit of her e-cig. "With these freaks, it's like I'm already killing them."

Kinnard actually laughed, pressing his back into to concrete as if he needed to brace himself. "I've literally seen you torture someone to death, Acolyte."

"No you didn't. You weren't there for that."

Kinnard arched an eyebrow. "Really? You don't consider Reclamation torture? What must you consider torture, then?" His grin widened. "Even more proof you're going soft."

"You don't know this one like I do. She's… he's a freak among freaks. I've applied shock, burn, acid, knives, knuckles, every tool in my box to get him screaming. Most I can get is gasping."

"Consider cutting his balls off?"

"Think he'd like that." Dunst took another hit of her e-cig, exhaling a cloud of bats that, for lack of anything else in Theresa's line of sight, flew into the ground. "… see, the thing about women is that they're sentimental cowards."

"Mm, I can think of one or two good ones."

Dunst turned her gaze back to Kinnard and, against her better interests, smirked. "Suck-up." The smirk was broken, and Dunst took another hit. "… the freak, I can beat til he's red. I'm never gonna get to him." Dunst's eyes turned back to the ground. "Fats? Pulling the Botanist's hair out is the… it's certainly the lowest-intensity thing I can do to get her going."

Kinnard chuckled. "Of course, right. And if that doesn't work?"

"Like I told Fats." Another hit. "I detrans that worthless idiot."

The wind blew across Lichtenberg, taking Dunst's vapor with her.

"… you don't sound confident, liebling."

"I'm not confident." Dunst gripped her e-cig even tighter. "I'm fucking furious."


Fats was… scared.

Okay, no, let's rewind.

Fats had been scared when he was 13, and his parents had found the violet rocks under his bed. He'd also been scared around… probably 19, while he stressed about whether or not Lindholm would take news of his transition well. There was also that time a few months back, where Fats worried the injuries he sustained from that Schaus lug might kill him. That was scary.

What he was about to do wasn't merely scary: it was terrifying.

The incubi halves had been quite clear about the extent of the nazis' brutality, as had whatever nazi sent him the video. Meeting one in open space was a guaranteed mistake; meeting one alone, as had been demanded? That would be even worse.

Even so, what choice did Fats have but to meet with them? The nazis were winning. They had guns, and SWJC Lichtenberg didn't; greenhouses were being razed, and the nazis weren't the ones who relied on them for food; they could freeze Outer Lichtenberg's topography and let the people who actually lived there deal with the consequences; and whatever else the nazis needed to raze the city, they could buy for themselves.

It didn't make the unbearably short walk to the Old Town Square any less terrifying.

Fats checked his phone. Assuming the cell towers hadn't been disrupted, it didn't look like his friends had been informed of his disappearance. That was an irresponsible thing to do, anyways. Better Fats die than everyone else.

He still didn't want to die. He had time, you know, to tell someone else. He could do that. He—

"Mason."


Fats blinked, and looked up.

Without knowing, Fats had already walked into an ambush, at least eight strong. Five of them wore SEK-style uniforms, complete with firearms trained on Fats. There were two others that didn't quite look human. They were nude save for a mess of fluid-stained bandages, twitching and sputtering like a failing car, sickly red fluids dripping from the gauze where their faces should have been. By all means, Fats's eyes should've been drawn between them.

They weren't. Too stuck on that tall, terribly familiar blonde woman.

She nodded, and stepped forward. "Dunst Amherst. Assume you got my video."

The typical chill of Outer Lichtenberg felt stagnant, here. This must have been one of the places they'd anchored. Great. As if his death needed to be any more—

Ms. Amherst kneed his stomach back into reality, catching his guts in his throat and bringing him onto his knees. Her entourage laughed.

"Unlike the last idiot," spat Amherst, quite literally, as she pulled Fats by the hair to face her, "I'm not a patient woman. The next several hours will be much less pleasant if you're too busy staring off into space to talk."

Right. Fats righted his guts and spoke. "I… I don't know to tell you, lady."

"Tell me why you're here."

"The video."

"The video about?"

"The, the Botanist."

"Which said?"

"That if I—" Fats coughed. "…that if I didn't come alone to talk, you'd detransition her."

Amherst chuckled. "And you believed that?"

"Shit, lady, I didn't exactly have a choice, did I?"

Amherst chuckled again, sharper this time, releasing his hair and turning back her entourage. "She actually did it, gentlemen! Go ahead and bring her friends out." At that, two more nazis emerged from alleyways on either side of the street, bringing with them a figure each.

Without her usual bushels of frizzy hair, the one on the left was difficult to recognize at first. It was the bloody scalp, engraved into the walls Fats's memories, that identified her as Stella Freja Lindholm, and she looked even worse in-person. The past two months had left her emaciated and dirtied, her muscles diminished to almost nothing with naught but scars to replace them. Her eyes watched Fats with resignation; whatever they did to her, it looked like she thought they might do it to Fats.

Even chained into near-immobility, the other figure was much livelier. Pale skin, black hair that fell over her face, a palpable sense of vengeful rage — that was "Tamiko", alright.

The nazis pushed their prisoners onto the street, where they were quickly restrained by the bandaged demons. Amherst continued: "I'm not an idiot, Mason. If I skimp on my end of the deal, that weakens my future promises." She turned back around. "So let me assure you that, whatever else happens, she's going to die she/her."

A pause; Amherst's face contorted into a horrible and hungry sneer. "So that's something you two have in common."

Fats hadn't realized he could have moved until Amherst ran over and punched him in the sternum, sending him reeling to the ground. She was already on him by the team he recollected his bearings, pinning his torso with her boot as she fitted a zip-tie around his wrists. Amherst was shockingly proficient in keeping Fats down — even if he hadn't checked out, she always would have won out.

Wrists newly christened with bindings, Amherst celebrated her victory by kicking Fats into a supine position and pulling him back up by his hair. "Here's the deal. The Botanist and Zoey over there?" She nodded back to Tamiko. "They're going to die. How they're going to die rests on how well you comply. My men could, for instance, shoot them through the head." She paused for emphasis. "I could also skin the Botanist alive while my men make Zoey's unlife an unliving Hell, right before they send her to the literal one. Does that make sense?"

Fats should have felt more terrified as he nodded. For some reason, the gravity of his situation wasn't registering.

"Good girl." The tenderness with which Amherst pat Fats's head would have been sickening, if it wasn't so obviously disingenuous. "Now what's your real name?"

'Fats Burg'., he might've said a few weeks ago. "Johanna von Berlin."

"If you lied to me, Johanna" (which he had), "It's going to be very hard on your friends. Is that your real name?"

Fats shrugged. "Honestly, lady, I already forgot. Noggin too scrambled."

Amherst paused, as if to contemplate Fats's words, before shrugging. "Guess it doesn't matter much. BLACK FLY will fix that noggin either way."

The mention of BLACK FLY was the first thing to cut through the haze, skittering down his spine like a roach.

Amherst knelt to Fats's level, a well-manicured, if discolored hand caressing his face, with that same mock tenderness with which it had pet his hair. It was even more obviously meant to make Fats squirm, and it worked. "I'm going to have to fix you, Johanna. Make you right. Before that, though?" She stood up, and Fats released a breath he hadn't known he was holding. "You need to learn some manners."

Her men laughed. Never a good sign.

"See," Amherst turned away, ambling back to the others. "You might have noticed my men are, well, men. They're not supposed to take orders from women. That's not right, biologically speaking." She paused, and said something similar in English, causing Tamiko to struggle even more violently.

Amherst continued. "They resent it, no doubt. A woman, telling them what to do, how to walk and jump and shoot." She paused again, before tilting her head back to Fats. "And yet they still obey me. Why is that, you think?"

It was quite clear that Amherst expected an answer; too bad Fats's throat was gunked shut.

She nodded, turning fully to walk back to him. "There are two ways for women to thrive under fascism."

Amherst paused her monologue just long enough to come over and kick Fats in the sternum, sending him tumbling back with a scream; a boot pressed to his throat cut that short, replacing it with a strained choke as Amherst shifted her weight, pulling a knife from underneath her dress.

"The first way is to be scarier than the men." The knife went to his throat, just above his adam's apple. "The only thing a man respects is force and discipline. The moment they act out, you punish them. Brutally."

Amherst's knife dipped lower, to the collar of Fats's shirt. "Just as well, however," her knife slid down to the first button. "You need to appease them every once in a while. Give the hound some sausage."

The knife worked itself between button and fabric, and Fats felt his blood freeze.

"What happens next," continued an unnaturally stern Amherst. "Will be an example of both principles." That gleefully malicious sneer returned to her face, and she—

"Woah, hey, whoa, hey, don't tell me I'm late to the party!"

The Snitch.

Amherst looked up with an expression between bewilderment and resigned fury, taking her boot off Fats's neck. "… hell of a time to escape."

Fats turned his head to look, and wasn't sure if he was supposed to be relieved at what he saw. There was the Snitch, sans Witness, pushing what looked to be an unusually heavy toy cart full of tomatoes.

"How're you all doing?" The Snitch rolled their way over to Amherst, stopping just shy of six feet away. "I'd have assumed good. Sounds good, sounds good. Probably looks good too, you know. Blind and all that."

Amherst looked genuinely dumbfounded for once. "… are those tomatoes?"

"Yeah, yeah."

"You brought… tomatoes. To an execution."

"That what this was, boss lady?" In the interim, Fats found the energy to sit back up, and the Snitch pat his back without missing a beat. "Real glad I didn't miss it. Love the parts where you kill them. You should do that quicker, methinks."

Amherst's men looked about as confused as Amherst, that previous bloodlust entirely gone. None of them seemed to notice the oddly familiar blue shape that climbed down one of the buildings behind them.

"Where… where's your Witness?" Amherst chuckled, this time in apparent nervousness. "You shouldn't have been able to… I mean, how did you even get here?"

"Crosswalks machine thingies talked to me. Modern world's real cool, Terry."

"Acolyte Dunst."

"Dunst, Kunst, what's the difference?"

"One of them is my name, and one is a call to be tortured."

"Ah, got it." The Snitch patted Fats's back again; this time, however, their claws lingered on the zip-tie. "So yeah, nice place you got. Guessing you were roundabouts about a flick a way from torturing Fats?"

"… did Fels teach you to be unfunny comic relief, or does that come naturally?"

"I'm some kind of relief, alright!"

Amherst opened her mouth to respond, but found herself cut off by a garbled screeching from Tamiko's direction.

It wasn't Tamiko, first and foremost: it was the bandaged thing that held her in place. Hanging off of its back was the Witness, jabbing it with some kind of shiv as they held on for dear life. Fats might have gotten a clearer picture if the Snitch hadn't taken the opportunity to cut through his bindings, freeing his wrists, something that — fucking hell, there was the terror — forced him to come up with a plan of action.

The first shots to ring out either missed or weren't directed at Fats, giving him a clear path forward to knock Amherst off her feet. Didn't work: Amherst was aware enough to elbow him back.

Amherst half-turned to her men. "Permission to fire granted! 8X, kneecap the Mason!" But Fats was already running.

The next round of howling was probably from "8X", and a quick look back confirmed it was barreling towards him on all fours. Fats wouldn't be able to outrun it, nor did he attempt to; a juke to the right left it careening into a storefront window, raining glass down upon it and, to a lesser extent, the street.

Fats looked to Amherst, and Amherst looked back, and both of them rushed to grab a shard for themselves. The bad news was that Amherst was faster; the good news was that she was awkward, and her thick boots had shattered the glass directly underneath her. It meant that, as Fats pulled away with a shard of his own, Amherst only had time enough to leave a small gash on his arm.

"8X" had let go of Lindholm, and the other nazis were too busy shooting to notice Fats as he ducked over and lodge his shard under her zip-tie. He assumed Amherst would follow quickly behind and lunge at him, and ducked away in anticipation, using his momentum to cut through the tie. If his head weren't pounding with adrenaline, he might have felt clever about it. Instead, he pulled Stella up and ran.

Amherst shouted something again, but it was lost in the popping of gunfire. Fats didn't care. Fats had legs, mind enough to use them, and someone who relied on how fast they were. All they needed to do was run down an alley fast enough to lose the nazis and find someplace to shelter.

Too bad Fats had to trip over a stray brick, dragging Stella with him.

Fats turned over to see Amherst storming around the corner, clutching her shard hard enough to draw blood and scowling like she didn't care. Only a loud and vengeful cry of rage took her attention off of them, and then only long enough to counter the charge of a gore-soaked Tamiko with a sidestep and a stab to the neck. While Tamiko choked through (yet another) wound, Amherst stormed forward.

"Abberant little whores." It was… difficult to make out her English. "I wanted to be practical. Minimize cruelty. Give the tenply a tenply punishment."

Amherst reached into her purse, retrieving a canister of… oh no.

"Maybe your Snitch was right: you are a freak. I don't think I could rehabilitate you, even if I still wanted to do that." Her fingers curled around the release. "Have it your way. If you want to die a scrambled little tranny, I'm more than happy to scramble your—"

"Thanks for nothing, Anita Bryant!"

Amherst looked back, and that's when it hit her.

The adrenaline rush gave Fats barely enough time to process the scene before him: "Dunst Amherst", fingers on the release of a canister marked by a blackfly graphic, the right side of her face coated in rancid tomato juices. It was hard to tell how long he'd been staring, and by extension, how long Amherst stood there, dumbfounded.

After what could have been an instant, a second, a minute, an hour, or an epoch, something knocked past her and into the alley. The toy cart from before, minus several tomatoes and plus one Tamiko, set upon a bag that had previously been obscured. Pushing it was the Witness, its blood-soaked legs supported by the Snitch.

"Fats, the bag, cement! Before she gets up, before she gets up!"

Amherst blinked, and began to shake herself out of her stupor.

Fats went for the bag.


nosfertuSchwEinK

little people incubim? ringu ghosts? dead nazis? lil bit of everything in tthis vid

Upvote Reply +1.2k - Jan 02, 2014 12:41 am

1312PracticalProblems

Not dead enough. You can see them move

Upvote Reply +641 - Jan 02, 2014 01:16 am

spanishAstronaut

hahaha holy fuck, who gave the gnatzis guns

Upvote Reply +409 - Jan 02, 2014 1:23 am

falastina_invicta

dunno! someone ought to take 'em away :)

Upvote Reply +748 - Jan 02, 2014 2:00 am

itypeokay

that's Dunst Amherst. she's a co-host of Kindred Talk, a christofascist darkpod linked to a mass shooting in Diane Fl. looks like she meant what she said

Upvote Reply +1.4k - Jan 02, 2014 1:19 am

AIE2677

Her name is Theresa Arianna Petrucci, and she works at the Haberlin Lichtenberg Research Center in Berlin. Message me for more details.

Upvote Reply +2.9k - Jan 02, 2014 1:19 am

1B9O3M6

holy shit. good bot

Upvote Reply +1.8k - Jan 02, 2014 1:27 am

AIE2677

:)

Upvote Reply +2.1k - Jan 02, 2014 1:27 am

A sharp, painfully slow clapping took Theresa's attention from her phone.

Standing in her living room was Mr. Rass, a rare expression of genuine annoyance on his face. It did not look like he was here to congratulate her, and fine, whatever.

Theresa Acolyte Dunst rolled her eyes. "Yes, yes, I let the Mason get away and doxx me, can you—"

"I do not appreciate, Acolyte, those who attempt to weasel their way out of admonishment." Mr. Rass flickered, his hands suddenly back at his sides. "I appreciate even less those who do so after losing valuable prisoners of war in a televised display of rank incompetence. You must understand, no?"

Dunst grit her teeth, and nodded.

"Excellent." Mr. Rass made a show of pacing her apartment. "I must say, Acolyte, you've been immensely helpful to the cause. The Berlin Office would not have thrived quite so much had it been Acolyte Salz, or even Zink, at the levers you were stationed to. It is… interesting, then, to see you act as you had yesterday.

"I'm not a dictator, Acolyte." Yeah, of course you weren't, Nazi Cult Leader For Nazis. "If cruelty advances the Fatherland, who would I be to stop you?" Mr. Rass paused. "What happened yesterday did not, however, advance the Fatherland. What happened yesterday saw the deaths of four initiates and a wehrdaemon asset, the loss of two prisoners of interest, and, perhaps most damning, the publicization of our efforts among such organizations as the Chaos Insurgency, the Serpent's Hand, and various SWJC cells around the world."

Dunst resisted the urge to cross her arms, and feigned an apologetic look. "My apologies, Mr. Ra—"

Mr. Rass materialized just in front of Dunst, forcing her stumbling back. "Do you understand," a terrible and ill-formed shape flickered briefly where his body should have been, and the lights of her apartment flickered in turn. "How difficult it is to organize our troops? Have you ever had to organize an army?" Something foul and blackened spat out from somewhere that wasn't Mr. Rass's mouth. "Because I have, Petrucci, and it is involved, time-consuming, and difficult." The apartment began to shake. "And that's without a loose cannon blowing eight assets on an inane ego-trip!"

And then, all at once, everything was calm, and Mr. Rass was but a nondescript man in a nondescript suit, adjusting his nondescript tie and slicking back his nondescript hair. "… I believe it's coming upon the time for those three white babies, Acolyte. A woman shouldn't work… too hard."

Dunst blinked, and shook herself out of the shock. "You… you have some of my eggs, M-Mr. Rass. I can, I can still work."

"A baby needs his mother, Acolyte Dunst." Mr. Rass made a show of rubbing dust out of his sleeve, and smiled. "Of course, if his mother happened to let the Berlin Office fall, and was subsequently given to one Madeleine von Schaeffer to do with as she saw fit…" When next he looked back, his smile fell away, leaving a face devoid of emotion. "… well. These things happen."

And Mr. Rass wasn't there.


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