30 minutes later, Mad Kat whined. “Why do I stay with the boat? Dispatch’s girls wanted a boat ride. We could have let them come along and left Daddy’s Money with them.” Kat wore another a Dantederm armor wet-suit. Hers was black and red, with white skulls but constructed like Dante’s more girly outfit.
Dante snapped, “Dispatch’s kids want to lay around, tanning and drinking. They’re safer in the Dome. This boat attracts too many sea monsters. Getting them sunk, gets us punked, you punk. Their Mommy and Auntie would not approve. Psike 3 could torture us in exquisite agony for a thousand years. And never leave a mark.”
Dante, Mad Kat, Lugh, Aaron, and their special guest Director Mako Nygun were back in Seychelles waters. Daddy’s Money carefully approached the undersea base, less than a mile from the Victoria Ocean Studies Institute. They could see the Institute was surrounded by local police and emergency workers. Pleasure boats loaded with gawking tourists had gathered. News, Police, and Tour helicopters circled the area.
Chin Jee and Bal McGavin had split up. Bal stayed at the resort, watching over the Organization observer, and waiting for back up. Chin checked out an off-shore capable speedboat and followed his cousins down the coast to the Institute. When the Korean Billionaire arrived, he wasn’t surprised by the mess. Only that most of the buildings and vehicles were still intact. Local police were investigating, as paramedics treated some rough looking fellows. FX used mercy rounds and stun grenades?
Perhaps he was not needed. Then he saw another boat floating nearby. The crew was also rough fellows, and a woman he judged rougher. Perhaps he would find something to do.
Back offshore, on Daddy’s Money Kat’s twisted up her face. Old Lady felt threatened by Psike 3? Big Momma’s a teddy bear. But… “Yeah, I guess she could. So, no civilians aboard? I want the Jimarez boy tangled in my love web!”
“Tramp. And a civilian yourself, don’t forget!”
“As if. I’m the goddamn FX! Bomb Girl forever!” Mad Kat crossed her arms. “I’m not a kid! I’m operational! Saved your ancient ass last night, or have you already forgotten? Senility finally setting in!”
The doubles bickered constantly. Lugh Hightower was learning to ignore that — their important communications were between the lines. Aaron Cavoral seemed amused. Mako was unreadable.
“You are an almost plausible facsimile. Not quite respectable yet, but getting better.” Dante paused. Mad Kat was behaving and performing well. Can’t keep her locked up in the Armory forever. Kat won’t be controlled but can be channeled. Cat with a “C” twisted her face, then offered a hand and an alternative, “Not in Seychelles. We can cruise around Cabo after this gig finishes. Bring the brother as personal eye candy and his sisters as extra hunk bait. Everybody happy? But right now, we need you here. I need you here.”
“You ladies don’t need hunk bait. You and Doctor Bandridge are tasty enough morsels.” The FX’ provided Aaron an armored wet-suit matching their own and what Lugh wore. Caverol strutted and preened like a peacock. Dante had ordered him to guard the android Director Mako Nguyen.
“You’re an allegedly unbiased observer.” Lugh had the wheel, reading the scanners. He had not appreciated what Dante told him was the truth about Aaron Caverol. The Dire family (especially FX) lie constantly. He added, “Somebody’s put a buoy out. X marks the sport. Is this an invitation, Director?”
Mako said nothing. They had realized she was an android and bullied her along at gunpoint. Between underwater bases, U-boats, and attacking gangsters, there was too much weirdness around the Institute. It’s confrontation time.
Aaron’s walrus mustache framed a wide grin. “I prefer beef to fish, lad, but I’m a connoisseur of sexy secret agents. Takes one to know one, as they say!”
What a tool. Lugh wondered how did a British asset gain Federal SED command codes? He tried to make do. “This is my assignment. But we need another bullet stopper. Doctor Senior Investigator Caverol. Commander Bond. Whatever your real name is. You’re drafted.”
Mad Kat piped up “He are not number seven: He are Number Six.” Dante punched her shoulder. Family secrets!
“Number four, rather. Taught James tradecraft, all the tricks. But they reassigned my old double oh number. You may call me Aaron, hotshot. Whatever your real name is.”
Lugh’s dead-panned right back. “Bandridge. Doctor Ryan Bandridge. PhD. Reassigned? You don’t say, Brit. Double Oh agents are old news. It’s the Twenty-First century, SEALs are the badasses now.”
“We also serve. Yank.” Caverol’s tone was light, a tad jaunty even.
Dante threw a piece of ice at Mad Kat. “Like I always say, testosterone is a hell of a drug. Good enough for bullet stoppers.” The elder FX turned her attention towards Mako. The android still showed no emotion, only an attentive expression.
Mad Kat snorted. She slid close to Lugh and purred, “So’s estrogen.” She kept one eye on Dante. “I thought bullet stopping was my… Our job.”
Keeping her own eyes on the Director, Dante snapped at her clone, “It was, but you’re getting on my nerves. As usual. So, stay with the boat and drone controls. Pretend to be a victim. Like the Ramirez kids might have. If I wasn’t afraid of Mommy and Auntie.”
“You’re not afraid of nothing. Me, a victim? Never happen! What am I supposed to do, sit around and look stupid? Suck my thumb? Not gonna!”
“No, we’ve already established you’re too stupid to be afraid and way too stupid to look stupid. You’ve got more talents towards ‘slut’. Go with what works.”
“Fuck you, old bat.”
“You’re not my type. You can act slut, I have faith in you. Channel the Evil clones. Let your boobs hang out and your mouth hang open. Look bored. Lounge. Drink. Rub on oil until you shine. Act horny. Drunk. Cheap.” Dante stepped over and yanked Mad Kat’s zipper down. Under her wet-suit, a tiny sheer black bra with skulls clasped pert breasts.
Mad Kat moved closer to Lugh, not quite touching his muscular form. She stretched her body like a bow,“Yeah? Those are official Human Legion orders, Senior World Warrior Old Hag? Then it’s a damn shame Brick’s camera isn’t around when the real one and true FX’s boobs are ready to party. My boobs could hit the Tabloids like my favorite bombs. Dudes and dyke's scope me, dreaming of blazing hot sweaty gun-bunny action.”
Dante turned red. Kat had bad ideas from the Evil Clones. “I was right. Talent, tramp.”
“Orders! Your orders!” Mad Kat cupped her chest and wiggled her tits at Lugh. Her ass sashayed as she danced to music only she could hear. “I don’t sag like ‘an’ Old Lady! You like, Doctor Bandridge? Mista Stud? Don’t you and the world yearn for FX superwoman super tits? Shouldn’t they be in Playboy? The SI Swimsuit issue? Or maybe a Vogue feature, I’m a cee-fucking celebrity. Classy! I can see the headline now, “Big Bang in Sea Shells!’”
Lugh sighed. “If it’s not one thing it’s another. Doctor Alexander, curb your clone.”
“She’s a cat, a crazy cat, they don’t train well. And has an inflated idea of her chest appeal. Next time we let her out, she’s going with Amber and Psike. See how she likes guys ignoring her for the team sexpots.”
“You got some kind of inferiority complex, Old Lady. Gotta work for what you get in this world. You’re too shy.”
Aaron joined the doubles banter. “You'll feature in the Journal of Criminal Forensics before a lad’s magazine.”
Dante scratched her head, seemed puzzled. “Criminal? You have mistaken me for my evil clone or my crooked mother. Or your even more crooked mother. What’s ‘The Woman’ up to these days?”
Caverol’s mother was once called Irene Adler. Family, of course. “Mums’s in Russia, acting on behalf of unnamed international interests. Whats up with your crooked mother?”
Lugh perked up. Their family gossip might be real intelligence.
Dante and Mad Kat chanted in unison. “We have no personal knowledge Belladonna is in Washington or Moscow. She preys on wise-guys, hustlers, and carpetbaggers. She is no doubt, working, as always, towards the downfall of Western Civilization. Or what passes for it.”
“Stop that!” Aaron exclaimed. “I had a rather unpleasant encounter with a clone hit-squad. Several copies of me came after me. Their babble interrupted me in a most annoying manner. Until I shot them.”
“The only good evil clones…” Dante continued, in a normal tone of voice and without Kat in harmony. "I have no idea about Mother’s whereabouts or what she’s up to. She left her new male spawn with Daddy and took off to parts unknown. Out of my sight, and still out of her mind.”
Mad Kat snorted again, “Protective Services should investigate Mom! Daddy too. Baby Brother will be lucky to survive. Dad’s cooking stinks. Without Aunts Tiger and Denice I’d have starved.”
“Shut up, Clone. *I* would have starved. CPS might place the kid with me, I mean you.”
“You mean, with the mother of the year, Cathy D Alexander, Beta Eleven.”
“What an insane idea. Don’t you love my brother?”
“No. I was happy as an only child. Sisters are bad. Evil Clones are horrors, and whatever the hell you are is the worst. Don’t need mommy and daddies new baby with a dick around too.”
“OK, I agree. Whiny ass clones are like broken clocks. Right twice a day. Me? Only Child forever.”
Aaron smirked again, “And how is that working out for you, Catherine?”
“Shut up,” both FX’ screeched in unison. Even before the baby boy, and not including the clones, they’d met a dozen siblings. Half-siblings, by both parents. “Immortals are assholes.”
Aaron laughed dryly, “Why, so they are. But they’ll die another day.” He turned to the android Mako. “Now, this is important. How do you swim, love?
“I swim very well. Fop. You will suffocate on that mustache!”
“I’m beginning to think you don’t love me. No more foreplay.”
Mad Kat rolled her eyes. “It has air-bladder buoyancy compensator's incorporated into it’s skeletal muscular system, Doctor Caverol.”
“Clever.” He grasped Mako by her arm, lifted her to her feet. His slightly soft, pudgy form was surprisingly powerful. “Time for a swim.”
With Dante covering her, he marched the android to the rear diving deck. He sat Mako on the back seat of a submarine bike. “Mind your hands.” Under the watchful eyes and guns of the FX’, he cuffed her to the frame, then put on her mask and air supply. He sat in the front seat and donned his own scuba. His airflow was not affected at all by his proud mustache. One never forgets Secret Service training.
Mad Kat ran to the bridge to relive Lugh. While he and Dante prepared to launch, Kat took the conn. Lugh and Dante took individual vehicles. They left a fourth sub-bike just forward on the deck. The dive deck lowered them into the water. The sea bikes spun up, the sea churned, and Lugh led them down into the depths. Finally, he’d heard too much blather. Time for confrontation and the truth. Even if FX played with explosives.
Kat adjusted her glasses. She popped open a bottle and poured herself a drink. She stood and peeled off her armored wet-suit. Showing a tiny bikini on a healthy superhuman. She leaned over to double-check the Smart-System instruments on the flying bridge. Her hands flew over the touchscreens. She stood, stretched and muttered “Shit. I want to blow shit up. The old lady’s such a greedy, selfish -”
Across the water, a heavy .408 sniper rifle aimed dead center of her lithe figure. 11,000 joules muzzle energy. The supersonic bullet cracked. Without a word, Kat dropped to the deck. A seeming lifeless, limp, bloody mess.