Team, 102

Apocalypses Tend to Come with A Lot of Unexpected Additional Baggage

Ao3 Link

“Okay, I think here’s good,” Cal said, looking around the square. There were six city guards just in his range of vision on a quick scan. He might have thought it was an awful lot, if it weren’t for that huge Imperial ship in the harbour flying the empress’s flag. Apparently one of her sons was on his way to town.

To pick up the Map of Amker, no doubt.

“Okay,” Sully said, sighing. He started taking off his clothes. “This is the stupidest idea you’ve ever had.”

“The only stupid ideas are the ones that don’t work,” Cal reminded him. “Hurry up, I had eight glasses of water this morning and I need to go.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Sully muttered, kneeling nude in front of Cal. People around them were muttering, and two guards were already coming to intercept them. Cal unlaced his pants, took out his cock.

Sully looked up at him with a halfway pleading face, already hard. “You can jerk off if it’ll make you happy, you weird little freak,” Cal told him, affectionately. And then he started to piss on Sully’s face.

He really did need to pee, so it was a relief just to be able to start. Sully whimpered and started jerking off as hard as he could, eyes shut. Cal let his pants fall down to his knees as he worked, making sure all of Sully was wet.

He was about halfway done when a strong arm took his. “That’s enough,” said a man not much older than him, in Eesk. “Come with us.”

“Hey!” Cal said in his best Nathnjek, as another guard pulled Sully to his feet. “Don’t touch him, he’s my privy. You can piss on him when I’m done! What are you doing? Where are you taking us?”

The guards were hauling them towards Ogwen’s tower, where the city guard was headquartered, and where their dungeons were. And where, according to Mads, the little boy who was going to become the Map of Amker was being held. “Public indecency is a crime,” the guard was saying, bored. He hadn’t switched to match Cal’s Nathnjek.

“So is imperialism, but that doesn’t stop your bitch empress from committing it across the world,” Sully snapped, in tone-perfect Gronnde. Three of the guards went stiff at that, and one of them hit him in the face. “What’s the matter? Don’t like me calling her what she is? You’re all nothing but a pack of dogs in heat, but none of you can fuck because Ekaterina Demna is holding all your balls in a bag in case she wants them for lunch!”

“You can’t take us away,” Cal continued to protest, loudly, making sure everyone in the square could hear him. “We know what happens to people who get thrown in Imperial jails! I thought Enjon was a land of freedom! What about my freedom? Can’t a guy piss without being hauled away like a pig? You Eagles deserve what’s coming to you!”

The display got them pulled right through the guardhouse and down a steep set of dark stairs, where both of them got hit a few times. The dungeons were a long row of doors, and the guards opened the third one on the left and tossed Cal in, then hauled Sully farther away.

“Ugh,” said Cal, wiping his face. “Not the most pleasant way I’ve ever been arrested.”

“Yeah, the Eagles are like that. You must have pissed them off for them to be so obvious about hitting you on the way in,” said a guy sitting near the door. There were half a dozen other people in the cell too.

Cal stood up, lacing up his pants. He had piss all over them now, which sucked. “I sure hope so. Is there a deeper dungeon than this?”

The guy raised his eyebrows. “There are some solitary cells downstairs. You want to pick a fight? You can probably get tossed in one.”

“Nah, I think I need to go deeper than that,” Cal muttered, stretching, and wincing at the bruise that was forming on his side. Okay, maybe he’d oversold it a little. “Solitary cells downstairs, which means one more floor under that at least. This tower sucks.”

“Yeah. Been thinking about blowing it up lately,” said the guy, leaning back against the wall. At Cal’s alarmed look, he smiled. “Not today or anything.”

“No wonder you’re in jail,” Cal muttered, taking a look at the door. He couldn’t get to the lock from inside. Of course.

“Well, I’m in jail to break a friend out,” said the guy.

“Same,” Cal said, as Sully appeared behind him, a black eye forming. “Took you long enough.”

“Sorry. You’re hurt.”

“So are you.”

“Yeah, but you’re fixable. Well, parts of you are, anyway. There’s no accounting for your personality.” Sully put his hand on Cal’s, and Cal started to feel a lot better. Everyone was staring at him.

“What?” Cal asked. “You guys never seen a jailbreak before?” To the guy he’d been talking with, he said, “How would you feel about breaking everyone out, not just your friend?”

The guy shrugged, standing up. The chains that had been on his legs just sort of fell off. “Not everyone in here is a prostitute or a petty thief. Some of them are rapists and murderers. And not just the guys in uniforms upstairs.”

“Up to you,” Cal said, shaking out his arms. He nodded at Sully, and the door opened. “I can’t promise the tower’s still going to be standing at the end of the day. But I can promise that the torture cult that’s using it as a headquarters isn’t going to be.”

As he said that, the tower shook. The guy looked up. “Everyone out,” he said, waving them to the door. “I hope I can assume you handled the guards.”

“They’re sleeping,” Sully promised. “Try not to go on too many murder sprees, okay? Most of these guys are just dumbass kids who needed jobs.”

“Yeah, I know.” The guy smiled, shook Cal’s hand. “Thanks for the help. I’m Drake.”


“Maybe I’ll see you again. Nice to meet you.” Drake wandered out of the cells, and as he did, he changed. Got a little shorter, his hair got longer, changed colour. His skin tone changed too.

Cal looked at Sully. “A wizard?”

Sully shook his head. “No, that was…something different. It wasn’t magic.”

“You sure, because…”

“Werewolves aren’t the only shapeshifters in the world,” Sully told Cal, as they went outside. The other cell doors were open, and people were slowly, nervously, coming out. Drake was waving people up the stairs. There was another door at the far end of the hall, and Cal and Sully headed there. “There are others that hide a lot better. People keep declaring them extinct, because they’re so good at it.”

“Better revise those estimates again,” Cal said. He sighed. “Okay well, we’re going to categorize him as someone else’s issue, because we don’t have time for another variable.” He pulled the door open, headed down the stairs. “Bob, we’re inside.”

“Yeah, I see you,” said Bob, in Cal’s ear. “Wes and Lillian are already down there. Mick and Travis are upstairs looking for information. Beatrice, Ray and Joey just got in upstairs, and it looks like they’re helping your prisoners get out of the tower.”

“Should have left a magic user with them,” Cal sighed. “Okay. Thanks.”

“Cal, a bunch of Sunwood wolves are coming to the tower too.”

Cal frowned. “Why?” He’d told them all to hang back until this was done. There was no need to start a racially motivated civil war in Narwhal Junction when Cal could piss the Imperials off just fine on his own.

“I just finished talking to Dusk Fang. Apparently the Clan of Kozna kidnapped Mads and Juniper last night, and now they can’t find Nuka or Dream Fox either.”

Shit. “Why would they do that?” What value did a random soothsayer and a time-travelling drug addict have for them?

He didn’t ask himself what the child-raping torture cult wanted with two little boys.

“Ask them. Something’s really wrong. I did a scan for temporal divergences.”


“The results were inconclusive, which means there are temporal divergences and my equipment can’t measure them. The readings are all over the place, but they’re very similar to what we associate with the Involuted Clock.”

Hadn’t Cal just thought that he didn’t need more variables? “Okay,” he said, coming out at the bottom of the steps into an even darker, narrower dungeon. “Arky, find me a way down to the next level.”

“If I die, it’s your fault,” Arky told him, pinching his shoulder before disappearing.

The tower shook again. A hand fell on Cal’s shoulder. “Hey,” said Wes. “Nothing down here but some solitary cells. No sign of the kid.”

“I took the liberty of teleporting the prisoners upstairs,” Lillian told him. “Even if they’re murderers, it’s not fair to let a building fall on them. Something’s wrong. There’s a big magical shit in the air.”

“Yeah, Bob says there’s big time shit too. This is going to be bad. Bob, I want everyone to come down here.”

“I’ll let them know.”

“Including you.”

“Got it, Boss.”

“There are two more floors,” Arky said, appearing on Cal’s head. “There should be a trapdoor somewhere up there. Cal, I couldn’t get to the bottom floor. Something stopped me coming in.”

Cal took a breath, touching the collar that would hide him from the Map of Amker. “And I bet I know what,” he muttered.

A few minutes of searching turned up the trapdoor in one of the solitary cells. “It’s warded,” Sully muttered. “Hard wards, too. It’ll take me a minute to get through them.”

“I could take us through the floor,” Wes said.

“Seems like a bad call.” That was Beatrice, joining them with Joey and Ray. “Everyone we care about is outside now. Except for the fucking werewolves, who are trying to get in. You can’t just go down to a space we don’t know anything about with no way for us to escape.”

“She’s right,” Lillian said. “These wards prevent teleportation. Sully and I won’t be able to pull us out.”

“It must be so fucking dark down there,” Ray muttered. His tail was all puffed out.

Cal patted his head. “It must be, but don’t worry. We’re going to rescue him and we’re going to be fine.”

“Dammit, what is this ward structure?” Sully asked. “This doesn’t make any sense—I don’t recognize this magic source.”

Appearing in the room with Mick and Travis, Bob crouched beside the trapdoor, holding the measuring device he called a unireader over it. “Aether,” he muttered.

“Fucking.” Sully put his hand through his hair. “Elves?”


“I fucking hate elves.” He looked at Cal. “I promise it’s not racist to say that. Elves are the worst.”

“Elves are real?” Mick asked. “They’re supposed to be extinct.”

“Wishful fucking thinking.”

“They inhabit the forests of Enjon,” Bob told Mick. “Mostly. There are a few other small enclaves elsewhere in the world as well. They hide on account of they think they’re better than everyone else, and also everybody hates them.”

The tower shook again.

“Let’s do this later,” Cal said, tapping a spot on his wrist. A present Bob had given him a lifetime ago appeared in his hand. A small projectile launcher called a gun. He aimed it at the trapdoor and fired. In a burst of light, the trapdoor exploded.

“Can I have one of those?” Ray asked.

“Can I have two?” Joey asked.

“Cal,” Mick said, hand on Cal’s arm. “We found some letters upstairs. The Clan is planning to assassinate the Imperial prince. Their Joining ritual is supposed to be happening…”

The tower shook again, this time accompanied by a massive scream that tore the air around them.

“Today,” Mick finished.

Cal sighed. “Okay. Well, I’m the expert on apocalypses, and I say we’re not fucking having one today. Let’s go.”

He climbed down into the hole, his team at his back.

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2 thoughts on “Team, 102

  1. I might have known that the fucking knife-ears would ally themselves with a torture cult. Just the sort of morally bankruptcy one expects from a species that doesn’t see anyone else as people.

    ‘“I fucking hate elves.” He looked at Cal. “I promise it’s not racist to say that. Elves are the worst.”’

    Sully has excellent taste.

    ‘“Elves are real?” Mick asked. “They’re supposed to be extinct.”

    “Wishful fucking thinking.”’

    Someone will have to correct that at some point.

    So whatever Aether is, it’s characteristic of elven magic?

    ‘The Clan is planning to assassinate the Imperial prince.’

    …Could we maybe let the Clan of Kozna get away with this one nefarious deed? Obviously not the rest of it, but the world could always use fewer Imperial princes.


    1. Yeah, I personally think the elves’ involvement in this mess was one of those “unexpected but not surprising” moments that characterize the existence of elves, ahaha. Sully’s taste is right on the money here. Maybe someone will get around to making all their wishful thinking reality.

      Aether is what the elves call their magic, which is a source different from anything humans use. It’s a collective pool of power that all elves have available to them. Obviously we don’t know much about it yet but as we see more elves we’ll learn more. 😀

      And yes, in this case arguably the world would have been a slightly better place if everyone had just agreed to let the clan get away with just this one act of child murder. They are a torture cult but I mean, so is the Empire if you think about it. 🙂

      Thank you!


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