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This story arc has been published as a novel!

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---

Maybe It's the Beer

"I think the reason they call us 'lost' civilizations is because they have to get terrifically lost to find us," Tizemt-not-Zenobia said over her beer. "We're not lost; we know exactly where we are."

"True, true," Megan said, thumping her fist on the table.

The two of them were amusing the customers and edifying the bartender at the Great Caesar's Ghost Bar and Lounge, the closest place of intoxication they could find to the Copperhead's lair, by putting away a truly enormous quantity of alcohol.

Tizemt had insisted on stopping at the office so she could get rid of the idiotic costume and pick up her regular clothes, which did not consist of grass skirts, animal skins, beads, or bones of any sort, but rather denim and jersey knit cotton.

"And we know exactly why we're there," Tizemt added, draining her glass.

"So this explorer brought you back to 'civilization'?" Megan made the appropriate airquotes.

"As you do," Tizemt said solemnly. "He wanted to bring back a 'young man' who he could play 'Enry 'Iggins with or some such rot. I was tall for my age, and flat-chested to boot, so I passed nicely."

"So what'd he do?"

"Sent me to Cambridge, and then to MIT."

"What'd he do when he found out you weren't a young man?"

"He didn't even bother with the outraged guilt trip," Tizemt said, signaling the waiter for the bill. "His solicitor sent me a stiff little letter, accusing me of wilful misrepresentation and fraud. Cut off my allowance, tried to get me thrown out of school, and I'm still untangling the mess with my visa."

"What did the school do?"

"Well, he'd paid, so I was allowed to stay out the term and take my degree."

Megan managed to grab the bill before Tizemt, who shrugged and gave in with good grace.

"How is the visa crap going?"

"Going?" Tizemt stood up. "How d'you think I ended up dressing like a King Kong extra?"

"Copperhead's supposed to deal with your visa crap?" Megan frowned, rising as well. "He doesn't seem like he'd have, you know, the right contacts."

"Nah, his bosses are supposed to take care of it. My former patron stranded me in the States, so the UK doesn't even enter into it much." Tizemt held the door for Megan. "He claims he doesn't remember where he 'found' me, whether it was in Algeria or Mali or Niger, or maybe it wasn't there at all, but in Chad or the Sudan."

"Where was it?" Megan said, turning right at random.

"I'm pretty certain it was Algeria," Tizemt said, following her. "Though I don't know for sure, since the whole city's under some mountains. We might spill into another country for all I know."

"Ah," Megan said. "And, of course, none of the countries recognize you."

"Nope," Tizemt said, sticking her hands in her pockets. "I'm well and truly screwed. Affording airfare, much less the customs crap, on what I could make as a... well, what could I get hired to do? My degree is in mechanical engineering, but what company would hire me? I'm not exactly employable by Smar-t-Mart either."

They walked along in silence for several minutes, turning at random down another street.

"What is it you want to do?" Megan asked suddenly. "I mean, I can't imagine that you want to keep working for Cowboy Billybob."

Tizemt laughed. "I dunno, really. I haven't given it much thought. I'd like to go home but I really haven't gotten much to bring back, y'see. A degree's nothing, what's really called for is some practical experience."

"Building bridges and such?" Megan said.

"Nah," Tizemt said. "What I really need t'do is work for a mad para scientist. You know, the type that does really innovative stuff. Like Dr. Mecko, or The Atrocious Doctor Milquetoast, or Professor Canis, or someone like that."

Megan opened her mouth to say something, but was cut off by the wailing of hundreds of sirens around the city. "What the hell?" she exclaimed.

"D'you think that's the Kosmic Klaxon?" Tizemt shouted, covering her ears.

Megan's mouth made an "O" shape, and she nodded.

Night fell with a dull rumbling roar. Looking up, they saw a massive spacecraft looming over the town.

"Shit," they said simultaneously, though neither could hear the other.

"Shelter!" Tizemt shouted. "We need! to find! a shelter!"

They looked around, but there were no friendly flashing orange lights, per the city website, in the warehouse district they'd wandered into. It was about an hour past 5, and the streets were empty of the local workers, so there was no one to ask.

"Bloody HELL," Tizemt said, loudly enough that Megan could hear her. "Let's get inside, at least!"

Megan paused to look up. There were tiny spandex specks flying up from north of town to confront the massive ship and whatever was in it.

That was when the plasma beams started raining down.

"Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck!" Megan bellowed, starting to run along the sidewalk and catching Tizemt by the elbow. "No buildings! Just run!"

Tizemt ran alongside her, then abruptly dodged aside into the street. A split-second later, Megan heard the incoming blast and tried to dive forward away from it.

She was just a little too slow, and there was a second incoming bolt ahead of her anyway.

Megan thought it was really just salt in the wound for a building to fall on her too.

Date: 2011-10-05 10:38 pm (UTC)
pheyne: Cat (Default)
From: [personal profile] pheyne
I really loved Tizemt's characterization! And plasma beams, of course.

Date: 2011-10-06 01:21 pm (UTC)
heavenscalyx: (Default)
From: [personal profile] heavenscalyx
I need to do more with Tizemt. She's fun. :)

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