“Chitauri!” hissed the nearest parent simulating android, after forcing the door and finding the damn lizard. Joey was speaking through the robot, Misty could tell.
Misty doesn’t like the looks of the scaly green lizard man either. Its’ entire dimly lit apartment reeks of rotting meat. The teeth of the projecting jaw are yellow and crusted brown in places. Their sharp cusps indicate a meat-eating animal. Widely spaced slitted dark eyes, like those of an alligator, focused directly on her.
“And who might you be?” the monster asked. The mouth moved but there was some modulator at work making the words sound human, even upper-crust American.
Misty moved further into the large space, towards the kitchen wall, alert, with her hair-triggered enhanced taser projector leading the way. The half dozen teens in their school uniforms spread out brandishing their taser projectors while the several adult androids switch their stunners for something lethal.
She faces the creature and states “My name is Misty Harte and I am a diplomatic operator working for Joey, the artificial intelligence that runs this solar system.”
“Ah, an AI. Didn’t know there was one,” the lizard says. “It certainly made a mess of this operation. Now I know why we were so easily overcome.”
Misty opens the door to the commercial-size refrigerator and gags, but without surprise. She has seen another alien lizard at Solomon’s temple on a history look-see with Joey. Raggedly stacked were leg and arm steaks, livers, ribs, and hearts; all human au jour.
“Crikey!” yelps one of the students before she barfs on her feet, still watchful with her gun covering Misty’s moves.
“And who are you?” Misty asks the lizard through gritted teeth.
“My name is Apep and I’m the morale officer here,” Apep said.
Misty is confused. “This is a brainwashing facility producing Deltas for the Illuminati. Why would they care about the feelings of their victims?”
Before Apep can answer, Joey speaks to her through the android nearest her. “He kills and eats the slower learners in front of the others. He provides more of an inspirational message.”
“I think we got all we need from you,” Misty says and hopes it is so. Although her gun will only incapacitate the thing for several hours, she wants to kill it. She raises the weapon and fires, but to no effect.
“Apep has an armored suit similar to yours,” Joey tells her but does not instruct one of the androids to try one of their weapons of greater strength.
“This room is weaponized, I can kill you all at any time,” Apep announces calmly.
“Maybe you can kill us but you’ll never get out of here alive!” Misty spits.
“I know that,” the monster says, still sitting, seemingly relaxed.
While Misty glares at the monster a new android enters through the open door. “I’ve brought half a dozen more of us, a truck with the reprogramming equipment, and transport for the wounded,” it says, addressing Misty.
“Don’t move a muscle!” she demands of the lizard.
“Keep him covered!” she says to the androids that are already covering him.
“Come with me,” she directs the newcomer. They cross the commons in front of the elevators and enter the other side of the building. There await thirty or so unconscious victims on hospital beds in various stages of the horrifically painful process of disillusional brainwashing.
“Are the wounded being loaded?” she asks over the patients.
“Yes, commander,” the human-looking machine says.
“Commander?” she questions.
“I don’t know what else to call you, so, you are promoted,” Joey says through the android. Misty recognizes the inflection.
“Ah, here come the programmers,” says the android as other robots carry in the helmetish machinery. It takes months of constant hell to program a Delta or a sex slave, but Joey’s machines will do a much better job in a couple of painless hours. The workers, androids, and students, leave the unconscious on the same beds while the tube affairs are removed and replaced with Joey’s helmets.
“So, in three hours, all their horrific memories will be replaced with pleasant ones. Then, are they going to be conscripted into your lost souls' army?” Misty asks Joey through the robot.
“The younger ones will. The older ones will be prophets of the new religion that we’re starting in Cincinnati.”
“The religion of the ancients?” she asks.
“Yes, the obvious and provable one. The one that reanimates your atoms after they fall into a living black hole. Their entering velocity and vector can be backtracked exposing every movement you have made, every thought.”
“What made the ancients think black holes are alive and smart enough to backtrack atoms?” Misty asks with passive interest.
“Intelligence is present in every atom but can only be expressed when the matter is lined up properly. When atoms are crushed to touching protons, really compressed, intelligence must work in that arrangement too. That’s a lot of intelligence.” Joey explains.
“But nothing can escape from a black hole, so I learned in school. How do they know for sure?”
“It’s no more a leap of faith than any religion. However, a black hole ejects matter at the pole and some of it, that has passed close to the event horizon, is encoded by the resident."
“That’s pretty strange,” Misty states. “Kind of like smoke signals.”
“30,000 light-years to Sagittarius A is a long distance, but the ancients traveled it. They claim that they dropped messages into the accretion disk and got a coded answer in the emissions at the pole.”
“If you don’t mind, I’ll hold onto my tithing,” Misty tells him.
“Ahem,” says the nearest android, vying for attention. “We’re about done here and we have to clean up the mess in the rest of the building,” it said.
Misty followed down to the second floor with its myriad of stunned guards along with the workers that were in the know. The four dozen people lay in rows, on their backs, in the common room. All the students stayed on the third floor, keeping a wary eye on the lizard. Some androids came down to assist. The eyes of the stunned followed them with gruesome fear as helmets were placed. Within three hours they would be well-adjusted profits with new backgrounds, personalities, looks, and identification.
“I hate to do this to people,” Misty said, but no person was there to hear, only androids. It had to be done, these workers were incorrigible, and Misty knew it.
The first floor was next and her heart went out for these people. They were the cover company and had no idea what happened on the second and third floors. They were conscious, they could hear, but they couldn’t move or talk. Misty addresses them as a group.
“Folks,” she started, “you now know that a serious criminal enterprise has been eliminated in this building. You have seen things you don’t understand. You aren’t sure whether we or they are the bad guys, or maybe both. You don’t want to make anyone angry, so this is what will happen.”
She pauses for effect, trying to contact the fearful eyes of the stunned workers.
“This paralysis will wear off in a few hours. We will be gone and any evidence in the top two stories will mean nothing to you or the police. Make up a story and stick to it. Make it different from your partner. Mix up your descriptions and tell them you think memory diffusing gas was used on you.”
Misty looks around; she has been joined by the students that acted so valiantly during the assault. They move out of earshot of the stunned workers.
“I have to finish with Apep but you should all board the bus. I’ll be along in a few minutes,” Misty tells her group before heading for the third floor.
Apep hadn’t moved a muscle. It is now surrounded by two dozen lethally armed androids.
“What should I do with the monster?” Misty asked the nearest android but was really addressing Joey.
“You’ve done a wonderful job Commander. Get on the bus, come home and enjoy a few weeks with your husband. Do some busywork. I’ll take care of Apep. I’m afraid he will have to come up here into the moon. He has lots of information on the Illuminati that he has promised to provide,” said Joey.
“But he can kill us all,” Misty reminded the AI.
“Not outside of his mined room and once out, well, my assault rifles are lethal even with his armor.”
“Are they like military rifles?” Misty asked, curious.
“No. I call them proton poppers. They deliver stripped lead nuclei at near-light speed. Any one of these rifles could slice him right in half,” Joey tells her.
Misty looks at the lizard man who has been listening. It smiles at her, sort of. She shrugs, says goodbye to the unfeeling androids, and rides down the elevator and out the door and across the unsuspecting street then onto the bus. A uniformed android driver immediately takes them smoothly away from the curb and into traffic. In an hour they exit onto the grass of the tree concealed glen and walk up the ramp into the large cylindrical spacecraft.
The wall goes transparent and Misty takes a comfortable seat where she can see the bus pull away. She expected to rise in short order but there seems to be a delay. She sits quietly, trying to relax, not really wanting to chat with her fellow raiders, all of them remembering the refrigerator. Within the hour a short bus arrives delivering a posse of androids. They don’t enter the craft, however, but wait outside.
An 18-foot box truck pulls up as soon as the short bus leaves. Misty feels chills; the bad kind. The door is cranked upward and the lizard hops out not needing the ramp. It is unbound and makes for the ships’ graded entry while not showing any surprise at finding a large spacecraft before it. Once inside it selects a seat beside Misty. It smiles, sort of, the breath exuding from between those teeth dumbfounding her.
One of the androids moves to stand in front of her stricken face.
“It is only a three-hour journey.” the robot says. Misty begins to tremble but the robot quickly points a stun rifle and blasts the lizard off of its seat to thump roughly onto the floor. Its eyes radiated hate but its breath is turned aside as is any conversation.
Misty stretched her chair into a lounge and rested, the brute near but out of sight. She is exhausted, it had been a long day. She didn’t resist a snooze and the next thing she knew she was roused by the bustle of those around her falling in line at the exit. She chose the bus to shuttle to her home region and opted for a private shuttle to take her to her house.
Her husband Sam was waiting on the front porch.
“What happened to your neck? Joey didn’t tell me much, just affirmed that you were OK. But the bruise! What the hell!”
He led her inside and started a warm bath. After easing into it Misty unrolled the whole story while he sat, rapt, shaking his head between fear and admiration. She told him how she had charged an armed squad of killers and caught a bullet on the side of the neck. Joey’s armor had saved her life but she did get a bruise. He had prepared her favorite dinner and afterward, they went to bed. Misty slept like the dead and lingered several hours past her usual rise time.
Homelife with Sam is good but after two weeks of busywork, Misty grew bored. It was then that Joey sent a message, asking if he could stop by. That night he was invited to dinner. Its android appeared as a handsome blonde of six foot two, clean-shaven and healthily muscled. He wore European casual clothing in the current style. His greeting was amiable and they chatted easily over dinner until Misty brought them around to business.
“So, how’s the lizard?” she asked.
“It’s provided quite a bit of information,” Joey offered.
“Do you make human meat for it to eat?” she asks. Joey starts with chlorella, supplementing as needed, and ends up with oil, gas, plastic, and food. Joey’s machinery is so advanced that green slime can be processed into steaks that can’t be distinguished from the real thing.
“No. Apep eats chicken,” Joey informs her.
“He’s an animal,” Misty states.
“He works for humans that willfully harm more people while showing less empathy than he does,” Joey says. Misty displays an understood but unhappy look. “We’ve cleaned him up and insist that he maintain a hygienic appearance. We’ve cleaned his teeth.”
“Fine. So what now?”
“Apep has informed me that his boss, that he never met, her being several steps up at the top of the Illuminati, was descended from Belarus nobility by the name of Sarah Zbaraski, wife of Alexandria. Sarah was from a century of Texan oil money before she married into the Ruthenium royalty. She is fervent in her desire to reduce the peasant population at all costs, to them, using climate change as an excuse and leaving more for her as an impetus. Some old royals think they have the right to cull the herd, so she fits in.”
“Well, sure, leaders make decisions that kill people all the time. We just chalk it up to incompetence,” Misty supplied.
“Then you shouldn’t be so naive, in the case of Sarah, anyway,” Joey cautions. “This is what I want you to do. Take her place.”
“But I have a husband!” Misty rebels.
“I have an android that looks just like her and I got you invited to a party of her inner circle with emissaries from the Bilderbergs, Satanists, Dajjal, Freemasons, all hosted by the Illuminati.”
“A party? Doesn’t sound so bad,” Misty mused.
“There are human sacrifices.”
There was an unexpected knock at the door. Sam rose to answer it.
“Jesus!” he exclaims from the foyer. A cleaner Apep moves toward them from around the corner.
“Shit!” exclaims Misty. With its clean teeth and crocodile eyes, it smiles at her, sort of.
“You’re going to have to take Apep with you to get inside,” Joey explains.
“I’m not real keen on traveling with a purple people eater!” she exclaims.
“Green,” Apep corrects.
“Can I go?” Sam asks.
“Arrivals are expected in five hours,” Joey states. On cue, an ambiguous android pulled a clothing cart into the house and over to them. They change clothing heedless of the others. Soon they take a fast private shuttle to the hangar and board the small, at 75 meters in diameter, Earth transport.
“Who are you?” Misty asked the woman already seated.
“Sarah Zbaraski,” she stated, raising from her seat to offer her hand, which Misty and then Sam shook. Sarah showed no fear of the lizard.
“You’re the android?” Misty asked and Sarah nodded. The ride was uneventful and they transferred into the usual opaqued Tesla, this one with a posh trailer to accommodate Apep. Soon they were out of the customary glade and traveling the streets of Sambuca, Sicily. They passed Selinunte over palazzos adorned with gargoyles and cherubs to finally pass through a guarded gate. Soon, the valet was taking their car at the entry of the remodeled monastery. The android had donned a veil and chain leashes held by Apep. She resisted blindly but the lizard dragged her across the parapet. The hostess, Sarah, greeted them at the door believing she was talking to people of like minds.
“So this is the sacrifice?” she asked, evil intent slathering across her face. Apep elbowed the android in her covered face causing her to stumble and groan.
“So the Chitauri are becoming more populous on Earth. Wonderful! One of your kind, Apep, works with us in Cincinnati. Do you know him?” Sarah bubbles, snubbing Sam and Misty. Apep shakes a no.
“Well, you were invited to bring the sacrifice so let’s get on with it. My friends are waiting,” she says uncaring of hurt feelings. Sarah leads them through the plentiful guests while pointing to the veiled woman and making obscene gestures. They arrive at a smaller anteroom and are led inside. Two dozen people sit in chairs surrounding a small stage with a sturdy stake jutting up from the center. Apep roughs the android onto the stage and chains her to the stake.
Sarah stands on the stage next to the doomed figure. “Raise your Tecpatl knives and get ready! You each get one thrust so make it a good one!” Sarah says exuding lust. The crowd stirs, knives rising and blood lust occupying the eyes of the participants behind their costumed masks.
“I’ve seen enough!” Misty wails. She grabs her plastic projection taser and begins stunning the guests, Sarah first. They crumple in heaps while the android frees itself before exchanging clothing between the Sarahs. Apep takes up station at the one door and begins dismembering any guest that makes for the exit.
“Joey says killing is against the rules,” shrieks Misty.
“Joey says he doesn’t kill,” Apep corrects. “Actually, I have a good reason.”
“It’s in his DNA,” Sam says in support. The lizard smiles at her, sort of, blood and pieces dripping from its toothy mouth.
“Let’s go!” Misty commands. The dying guests have sprayed blood on them all. Apep takes the real Sarah, places the veil over her head, and lifts her onto his shoulder. The replacement Sarah feigns unconsciousness and will wake to her new vocation with the others.
Joey’s blood-drenched crew moves across the reception room, towards the exit, to the sound of applause.