The Reason Ulysses Doesn't Start With WARNING: IT'S GOT A BLOWJOB IN IT
rating: +73+x

"You actually have to ask? I can do my job without a babysitter."

"I don't care if he can snap it clean in half. Would you have assigned me to catch him if you thought I couldn't handle a reality bender?"

"I thought so. I'll call you when he gets here. And I want a raise."

Andy and Jude are nearly inside The Establishment before Armand even leaves his seat — the former because he had parked several seconds before they had, and the latter because Jude had wasted no time getting out and power-walking over to the door. Armand sighs, double-checking that he locked the doors before following them inside.

It takes Armand's eyes a few seconds to adjust as he examines the bar's darkened interior, but even before that he can tell that Jude is nearby — on a quiet day like this, his rolling wrists easily stand out above the indistinguishable rock-sounding music in the background.

"Okay, so, we're here. Andy's over there talking to his sister, uh, and could you get the arrangements or whatever settled with her so I can head out and find a dealer? I haven't smoked in like a whole day." Jude looks anywhere but at Armand. "Like seriously, I'm just about out of my fricken, mind over here."

"Juuust magggic some upth, there's stuffuff todo." Armand's eyes adjust to the darkness, and he spots Andy in a booth towards the back, sitting next to a woman who could be his sister and a man who is definitely not related to him at all. Armand heads over there, and Jude reluctantly follows, hands in his pockets.

"It doesn't… feel right when I do it. Ugh. Fiiiooooh heyyyy man what's ah fuck this is bad isn't it." Jude's whirlwind of emotion corresponds to his identification of the unrelated man, who gives Jude a wave and a wink, and his realization that this man's presence suggests that things have very much gone off-script.

"Not exactly." The woman sitting next to Andy sips from a beer bottle. "I suppose you're wondering why I gathered you here today."

"Sssomething gogoood?" Armand pulls up a chair and sits down in it; Jude stands by awkwardly.

"It is definitely not good." Andy sighs. "Amanda, apparently, has a contact with the Foundation, who is paying her to keep us all here so they can come to lock us up."

"…" Amanda rolls her eyes, putting her phone away. "I suppose you're now fully informed of why I gathered you here today."

This elicits some giggling from the thus-far unnamed individual at the table. "You know, I was just saying the same thing in chat, like, this morning." He reaches over and snatches Amanda's beer from her, taking a swig from it. "The bit about gathering people, I mean. Anyways, I'm going to bullshit my way out of this, obviously, and chances are I can get everyone else out of it too. Just so you know."

"JJ, I appreciate it, but this is some kind of… retrocausal, destiny bullshit. Is your luck stronger than that? Like, she already got you here, why do you think you can leave?" Jude starts pacing. Amanda gets partway through gesticulating indignantly at JJ before he starts up again. "Like, yes, obviously, I could just Dr. Manhattan this whole bar and delete the space between me and the nearest nug, but I bet HER bullshit is going to wipe the floor with MY bullshit, because that's how things go, and —"

"And we'll have a few hours before anyone gets here," Andy interjects, "so we have time to think of a plan. What we don't have time for is you losing your shit because you can't get high."

"Oohhh, lilighten up Anddy, giiiive hima break." Armand shares a look with JJ before looking back to Andy. "It's nonooot his faultw we couuuldn't get him rerereehab in thec car ride over!"

Amanda rests her head on the table and mutters something about a fucking drink.

Five beers (four of which went to Amanda), many raised voices, and a half hour later, Amanda is alone at the bar, while the four boys have gathered in a corner booth. Jude stares listlessly at the ceiling, Armand traces spirals on the table, JJ plays a game on his phone, and Andy fiddles nervously.

"You know what, I'm gonna go try leaving. Worst that happens, it doesn't work." Nobody bothers to respond as JJ stands up and walks out the door. They do look up as several muffled impact sounds emanate from the doorway, followed shortly thereafter by JJ walking back into the bar and rejoining the table.

"So there's a sniper set up on the hardware store across the street, but his aim is fucking terrible." He lifts up his phone, which has a large hole going through it. "Of course, that might just be me, so uh, I wouldn't try anything."

"Great." Jude sighs, looking back up. "And WHY, pray and tell, is there a goddamn sniper keeping us in here?"

"It's probably just a coincidence, so, y'know, Amanda's fault." Andy gestures towards his sister with his thumb. "So we're stuck convincing her to let us go. Which means… leverage. I don't have any, how about you guys?"

"Nonnno, but…" Armand turns to Jude. "Reeeememmmber the artt gallery?"

Jude sits up very suddenly and glares at Armand. "I'm not. Doing that. Again. What the fuck are you thinking?"

"Iiii'm thinking," Armand says as he holds up his hands in front of him, "Youuu do it inr revererse." Jude's expression softens.

"Well yeah, but on who?" A look of realization dawns on JJ's face. He grins. "Yeah, I dig it. C'mon Jude, let's do this." He stands up and walks over to the bar.

Andy watches as JJ leaves. To the other two, "Uh, mind filling me in on the details here?"

Jude shares a look with Armand, then looks back to Andy. "It'll be way cooler if you see it in action, probably." He gives a sort of half-smile before he gets up and follows JJ. Andy is about to ask another question when Armand picks up a bottle and smashes it against the table.

Amanda is shaken out of her reverie by a loud inhaling sound coming just inches from her face. She reflexively swings a fist at the offender, then sits up straight and turns to him. "What the hell is your damage? As if taking my drink wasn't bad enough."

JJ prods his nose experimentally, eyes crossing to get a look at it as he sits next to Amanda. "Ow. Okay, you didn't break anything, at least. Anyways, I just wanted to say hi, see how you were doing."

Amanda's attention is diverted by the barstool on her other side, which is now groaning under Jude's weight. But she returns to squint suspiciously at JJ. "I'm fine. Very fine, in fact. Whatever bullshit you're planning here, you should know it won't work." She glances past JJ towards Armand, who is carefully dropping shards of broken glass in a spiral pattern on the floor. "Especially half-assed pattern magic."

JJ shrugs. "Yeah, don't worry. I was just thinking, you weigh what, a hundred pounds?" He cuts Amanda off with a wave of his hand. "Rhetorical question. You're tiny. But you've had five drinks just since I got here, and you don't seem drunk at all. That's one hell of a tolerance. Your breath gives you away, though. Seems like the kind of thing you wouldn't want your employer hearing about…" He trails off, giving Amanda a knowing look.

Amanda scoffs at him, rolling her eyes. "God, you're pathetic. What, do you expect me to let you go just so the Foundation doesn't find out I drink?" She glances over at Jude — he's picking at some old stain on the bar with his fingernail — before taking out her phone. "I'll just call and explain the situation to them. Like they'd expect me to stay sober while I babysit you idiots."

JJ catches the bartender's attention, ordering an appletini as Amanda taps in a phone number and waits for a response after it starts ringing. The response is not the standard identity-confirmation passphrase she expects, but something closer to a SCCRRRREEEEEEEAAAAAWWWWEUEUEUARRRGCHCHCHCH, as pronounced by something somewhere between a human, a cockatoo, and a computer-generated facsimile of a cockatoo.

"What the —" Amanda jerks the phone away from her ear, then swivels around to Jude. "You — !"

Jude is now insistently picking away at the space near Amanda's phone, and half-humming half-mumbling some late-'70s synth-pop song. His nail catches on the air, and he tears that away. There is a cord behind the air, and he pulls that too — this time, he puts his whole arm into it. There is a flash of light, the crackling of ozone, something shiny, and something buzzing.

For a split second, a man is visible about six feet off the ground — he's in his mid-50's, but in surprisingly good condition for his age, and dressed in some forgettable business-casual getup. He's sitting on nothing, phone held up to his ear. The man is still visible after the split second, but he's now fallen onto the ground, groaning in pain and confusion.

Jude and Amanda look at him, and then share a glance.

"He's uh." Jude points at him. "Guess that's the guy you were calling."

Amanda blinks, expressionless. "… why did you even do this."

"Uh. Armand?" Jude looks over to Armand, who has started to make his way over.

"Becc cause hem missssunderststood me." Armand pinches his nosebridge, and sighs. "Whhho is this?"

JJ looks over, eyebrow raised in interest. "… wait, is that not what we were supposed to do? That's her contact with the janitors." As an aside to Amanda, "Kind of a catch, if you ask me. Bit young for my tastes."

"What're you —" The man's query, and his attempt to lift himself up off the floor, is interrupted when Armand puts a boot on his shoulder and shoves him back down. He puts his hands on his hips. "Wellelln never mind now. Wen need a newplan."

Amanda shrugs. "Won't stop the task force from coming to pick you idiots up."

"It might," says Andy, who has drawn a few looks by speaking up, "if we take him hostage."

Jude is about to respond when Armand falls forward, his leg dragged out from under him and his knee shoved forward. The man stands up, looking over at Jude. "Hello, Kriyot." he grumbles. "Wonderful mess you've gotten both of us into."

"You know my name and I don't know yours." Jude blurts. He knew several cooler ways of saying that, but seeing Armand dropped like that made him lose his train of thought.

"Good, that's how it should be." The man turns his attention to Amanda. "So, who are these? Some sort of entourage for the target?" He gestures to Andy (hanging back awkwardly), JJ (still on his barstool), and Armand (still on the floor).

"Freebies. That one's the guy who's been driving Jude everywhere, I think he knows some kind of magic. That one over there has extremely good luck. The third is my useless brother, he can make cars belong to him by touching them. Don't you collect these kind of people?" She points to each in turn. "And more importantly, doesn't this warrant a bonus?"

Andy is about to voice objections of his own when the man cuts him off. "No, we're not in the habit of giving bonuses to contractors who get drunk on the job, go against their instructions to introduce unknown variables to a situation, and let targets get close enough to kidnap a Foundation employee!" He gestures to Armand. "You don't even know what he can —" The man pauses, then looks at Armand again. That is not Armand on the floor. It is a busted-up glass sign of a cartoon man flipping a pancake.

Then a shard of glass whizzes by and slices the man's ear off.

Andy, who was standing next to the broken glass spiral already, is the first to realize that it is hovering mid-air, and that Armand is standing behind it. Jude notices second, Amanda third, JJ fourth, and the Foundation man — who is desperately attempting to stem the bleeding — fifth. JJ blinks. "Shit, dude, when did you get over here?"

Jude facepalms. "More importantly, why? What the hell does that accomplish?"

Armand shrugs. "Pupppput thef fear ofgod into him? Tesssst out herab bilities?"

"My abilities?" Amanda looks over from helping the man with his blood problem. "What about them?"

"This is why," the man grumbles to Amanda, "we only wanted Kriyot. Because we know he won't try to kill anyone!"

Jude shares a glance with Armand, then smiles. "You know, I'm not too sure about that." He gets out of his seat and starts to meander over to Armand and Andy. "I mean, I don't kill out of, like, in most cases I don't kill." He only mulls over his error for a second. "But like, it's different when you're trying to get free, right? Give me freedom, or kill me, right? The Boston Tea Party guy said that."

Andy snickers a bit before he processes what Jude said. "Wait, uh, dude? You sure about this?"

Armand nods solemnly. "It'sth the only way."

The man looks to Amanda insistently. "Well? Don't just let him kill himself! Do something about it!"

JJ laughs. "Bitch, please. She couldn't even stop Armand from fucking you up. She can't save anyone. Like, wh-"

"Would you all please shut up? Speeches are fucking hard enough already…" Jude rubs his forehead. "ANYWAYS. I don't think any of us really want to be locked away for good, 'cause that's not a life. So, uh." He thinks for a few seconds. "See you in hell."

"Don't you fucking d-" Amanda is cut off by the crackle of electricity.

JJ, whose phone is busted, gets to sit out and watch. Jude, Armand, and Andy get to feel their very beings ripped apart on the atomic level, devolve into a chaos of noise and particles, and shunt themselves into their phones single-file. It is painful.

By the time Amanda finishes her sentence, all that remains of the three is ozone (a natural byproduct of electricity in the air) and shoes (which are too big to fit through the phone).

gaycopmp4: blunt
polaricecraps joined the channel.
gaycopmp4: the cliffhanger doesnt work if we already knowyoure not dead
CommunismAnarchismNihilism: lmao
bluntfiend: Hm. I suppose you're right.
bluntfiend: In my defense, I'm high as shit.
gaycopmp4: g fucking j
bluntfiend: <:3c
bluntfiend: Did I ever tell you guys about the whole, uh, history behind the electricity thing?
lesbian_gengar: Not exactly, and I don't think they need to know.
polaricecraps: aw mother fuck did i miss papa smokes story time
bluntfiend: Yeah, you're right. Point is, the last time the janitors saw me do it, it was permanent.
orbhorse: ^ Me after two jars of ghost pepper salsa.
hetcopogg: ew.
TrainerDP: Pakoosh.

It always astounded Jude, the things that he could put his mind to when he was desperate — specifically, things from comic books. He could keep three people in the phone lines for maybe two minutes… would that be enough? Would the strings of fate loosen before they all sang the body electric?

CommunismAnarchismNihilism: seriously dude?
gaycopmp4: i literally JSUT called you out on this lmao

Yes. Yes they would.

Their bodies tore themselves back together. Bit by bit. Quarks. Bosons. Armand knew the science. The rest of them didn't. What they all knew was that it was cold. They groaned barefoot, buzzing out of the air. The crackling smell of air freshener.

gaycopmp4: is this bit like a reference to something or what are you doing
bluntfiend: I did a cool thing, I get to describe it dramatically.
hetcopogg: sorry but you're really bad at it
bluntfiend: Okay, fine. lmao
bluntfiend: So we all wake up in a hotel room in Iceland.
CommunismAnarchismNihilism: worst hangover sequel ever
bluntfiend: I mean, I *meant* to send us to Iceland, but I don't know how we ended up in a hotel.
bluntfiend: Fancy one, too.
bluntfiend: Confusion ensues, etc.
bluntfiend: Whole lot of bullshit I was not high enough to process.
bluntfiend: Andy actually had Euros in his account for some… reason. I have no idea what his deal is. So he cashed that out. Kinda mad about kars or something.
bluntfiend: LG's gonna get us, like, IDs. As per our original plan.
bluntfiend: Andy went out and bought me some weed, I'm gonna have to pay him back. Apparently it wasn't hard to find, but it was like $200 for an eighth.
bluntfiend: And that's about where we are now, I guess. I'll have to get a job, eventually. I don't know how to make euros out of thin air.
bluntfiend: So… yeah.
lesbian_gengar: what about jj?
bluntfiend: Oh, right. He actually called the hotel room's phone like, a half hour ago.
bluntfiend: After I did my thing, the janitor guy just told Amanda to fuck off. Since we were all apparently dead, I guess? Guess that's why my trick worked.
hetcopogg: more like amandumb
bluntfiend: She, uh. The guy with the gun hadn't gone away yet.
gaycopmp4: so she died and you thought the weed price was more important
bluntfiend: She got hit in the ankle, relax. JJ ditched after that.
PCSatisfatorio: whats the view like over there i heard theres no sun in iceland
bluntfiend: Not sure.
polaricecraps: all three of these things are fucked up
bluntfiend: I'm kind of stuck in the bathroom right now, for various reasons.
orbhorse: Isn't there some salsa from Iceland that literally put people in the hospital?
gaycopmp4: icelandic salsa is folded up to a million times to produce the finest laxative known to mankind
PCSatisfatorio: like for a half of the year its just dark
hetcopogg: y'all are gross.
hetcopogg: gaycopmp4, break up with me over this.
harmpit joined the channel.
polaricecraps: seriously though can someone like give me some logs or something
gaycopmp4: no
bones: polaricecraps: Sent.
polaricecraps: thx
bluntfiend: … harm, what the fuck are you doing here?
PCSatisfatorio: ??
bones: Is there some issue I should be aware of?
bluntfiend: No, well, kind of?
harmpit: :34
bluntfiend: I can literally hear him sucking Andy's dick in the next room.
CommunismAnarchismNihilism: power move
harmpit: your'e just jaelous
polaricecraps: this just in papa smoke is the world's worst storyteller
bluntfiend: First of all, not even a little. Second, WHY are you on chat right now?
harmpit: it's liek taht somettimes
CommunismAnarchismNihilism: i actually exclusively talk in here while sucking dick
orbhorse: See, now I'm wishing when I thought "someone is going to get a blowjob out of this whole deal", I would have said so, so I could say I called it. But I guess you'll just have to believe me.
gaycopmp4: cool story
bluntfiend: Does he know that you've, like, never brushed your teeth?
tiedyeduck: guys holy fuck
tiedyeduck: someone drew a gijinka of my dog
PCSatisfatorio: what
polaricecraps: wut
gaycopmp4: what
lesbian_gengar: okay i just got back and: what?
bluntfiend: If someone wanted to suck mwait hold the fuck up
bones: tiedyeduck: Unless you can show us the gijinka, we'll have to assume this is a ruse.
CommunismAnarchismNihilism: what in the goddamn
tiedyeduck: is there still a channel ban on anime tiddy
bones: Yes.
tiedyeduck: then i can't
bones: I see.
harmpit: in theb utt
gaycopmp4: osaugpojgasdknsaldgakfd;la
hetcopogg: @lesbian_gengar dog tity alert just thought you should know
lesbian_gengar: gaycopmp4 please break up with your gf.
PCSatisfatorio: whats a gijinka
lesbian_gengar: she needs to be taught a lesson in not making fun of me for two years about this
bluntfiend: Hey tiedyeduck, what's your dog's name again?
tiedyeduck: noooooo nope
tiedyeduck: i'm not telling you
harmpit: wehn i was 87 i thout my catw as a human inh iding and i kept kissin gitlike a frog tot urn her bakc
bluntfiend: It's just an innocent request. What breed is it? Just so I can get a good visual in my head.
CommunismAnarchismNihilism: PCSatisfatorio, it's like a humanized version of something. Usually as a cute girl.
tiedyeduck: i regret everything
hetcopogg: seriously what's the context here you can't just say "someone drew a horny human girl version of my dog" and just leave it out there
PCSatisfatorio: oh like a humanization except youre all weebs so you use the confusing word for it
gaycopmp4: fgsfds
tiedyeduck: it's a really long story okay like i wrote a thing and used her picture for it and the story got popular in japan blah blah blah
polaricecraps: okay harmpit's thing is actually adorable can we talk about that?
orbhorse: The real story here is that tiedyeduck is a nerd.
tiedyeduck: hey hetcopogg lesbian_gengar just pmed me asking for a link to the pic
hetcopogg: LOOOOOL
lesbian_gengar: so what if i did?
harmpit: thanks polaricecraps
hetcopogg: yiff yiff motherfucker
lesbian_gengar: dog girls are good and pure.
tiedyeduck: this one ain't
CommunismAnarchismNihilism: yiff
PCSatisfatorio: it's weird to collect jerkoff material based on someone's dog
bluntfiend: I actually kind of agree.
harmpit: yiffyiff
bluntfiend: Of course, I think porn in general is kind of weird.
tiedyeduck: i just sent it to her
tiedyeduck: like at the end of the day it's not a big deal
lesbian_gengar: yeah this is basically porn.
hetcopogg: YIFF
hetcopogg: I
hetcopogg: F
TrainerDP: i wrote a script so that my computer won't open irc until its microphone picks up something that sounds like a dick getting sucked, goml
hetcopogg: F
tiedyeduck: i'm mostly just, reeling, that this is now a thing that has happened, in my life.
TrainerDP: fuck, i was scrolled up, nvm
bluntfiend: tiedyeduck, yeah, I definitely know that feeling.
tiedyeduck: what
tiedyeduck: like someone drew furry porn of your dog?
gaycopmp4: thats definitely what hewas talking about. brilliant guess
TrainerDP: furry porn who what
bluntfiend: No, the "this is such a weird thing and now I have to live my life knowing that it's real." thing.
bluntfiend: Like all that bullshit that just happened today.
tiedyeduck: bruh you realize all of us can do magic
hetcopogg: couf
tiedyeduck: all the cool ones
harmpit: rued
hetcopogg: ^
hetcopogg: arrowblocked
tiedyeduck: it's so not the same
tiedyeduck: you having some dumb magic adventure is like a tenth the fucked upness of this titty dog
harmpit: yeahr elax
bluntfiend: Heh. Yeah, I get that.
harmpit: k fniished
lesbian_gengar: finished with what?
TrainerDP: snrk
bluntfiend has left the channel.

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