G. Gordon Gordon -- Mercenery of Mercy


>Chapter 2

Gordon realized as soon as they got into the cab that Stang wasn't merely nervous, he was terrified. All the way out of the airport, well into the mainstream of expressway traffic, he kept peering nervously through the back window. The cab was one of the new armored ones, Gordon noted, and the driver was a capable and very large black man with hands like standing rib roasts. He was wearing a com-rig with spring-loaded throat mikes, and was in constant contact with Central. Well, Gordon decided, ever since Purolator and Brinks went into the taxi business you could at least relax in the back seat. Accordingly, he turned his scattershield down to low and disarmed all of his autodefense systems. As far as the manual systems went, he had two knives -- one a powered model -- as well as a sixpack of sonic shurikans, a Benelli Gyrojet/12 guage Autopistol, and, of course, his good old stainless steel Mini-Uzi. Not really a lot of gear, but this wasn't supposed to be a heavy situation.

"All right, Ivan." he said.

The smaller man whipped around to face Gordon.

"What?" Stang half-whispered.

"That's exactly the pronoun I was planning to use next. As in, 'What the hell is going on??'"

Stang licked his lips in an oddly reptilian gesture, not that there was anything especially lizard-like in his physical appearance. He looked like the wiseass kid you'd always harassed in high school because he was smarter and a lot smaller than you were.

"I mean," Gordon rumbled on, "you spike into every piece of hardware I've got, screaming for help. I've had at least twenty-five very vague telexes from your office, and after I do finally get through that cordon of yesbobs and deenies that surrounds your most sacred personage, you claim you can't even tell me about it until I come up here to Dallas, for Dobbsake!" He gestured to the brightly lit skyline as if he were pointing out a dog turd on a foot path to the dog's owner.

"You don't understand, Gordon," Stang said. "We cannot discuss it at all until we're in a safe zone. It's that serious."

"Well, it certainly has you pissing your pants, old man, doesn't it?" Gordon grinned malevolently. Wasn't often you saw old Stang like this, not our Ivan the Terrible. If someone as tough as Stang, who operated on his lizard brain most of the time, was shaken, then there was a good chance of very nasty business just around the corner.

Stang lit his fifth Marlboro off his half-smoked fourth and then seemed undecided as to which he should discard. Gordon relieved him of the shorter cigarette and disposed of it. He dug out a large fropstick and fired it up, much to the obvious disapproval of the driver, who was watching in the mirror. Gordon opaqued the virtually unbreakable partition and turned back to Stang.

"Well, Ivan," he said with only slightly forced geniality, "how's Missus Stang?"


Jaysus, he's really out there somewhere, thought Gordon. "Miz Stang," he tried again. "How is she?"

"Oh." Stang waved one hand and wrinkled up his forehead. "Okay, yeah, she's fine. Doing a hell of a lot better than me," he finished up with a shaky laugh.

"And the little Stangettes," pursued Gordon, "they are, I trust, still growing and thriving?" He liked Stang's kids a lot; perhaps because they were just like Stang except that they still retained their innocence -- unlike their dad. But of course, he thought, that's exactly what Ivan really is. He's a fallen Child. A child who never really grew up, but who nevertheless lost his innocence, his positive naivete.

"The child units are also very well," said Stang, venturing a little further into the present. "I've sent them all away until this blows over. Too much chance of violence." He looked out the window. "Thank God," he said. "We're here." The cab pulled up to a smooth stop in front of the armored glass and reinforced concrete cube that was the new Foundation headquarters. Stang read their meter, slid a card into the machine, and entered payment and a tip.

"Thank you, sir." The driver's voice came tinnily through the external speaker. There was a whine of turbos and he slipped away as they turned up the steps. At the door they stopped while Stang punched in a code and gave a glowing nozzle his retina print. After a pause, the door slid open in two directions.

The moment they stepped inside, all hell broke loose in sirens, buzzers and horns; out of nowhere appeared a Slaksquad, all pointing automatic shotguns right at Gordon, who'd already turned his shields up full, armed both missile launchers and the needler, and had the Uzi in one hand and the Beneli in the other and Stang never even saw him move. Stang acted quickly, cutting off all audioalarms with his wrist-remote and screaming, "Don't shoot" in a voice whose force impressed even Gordon. Nobody shot.

"It's okay. This man is with me."

"That man is a walking arsenal," said the squadleader, who had lowered the muzzle of his weapon maybe two whole centimeters.

"This man is getting pretty fucking tired of looking down all these gunbarrels," snarled Gordon, who was fully pumped with adrenaline at the moment. "And if you don't point them somewhere else, it's gonna be your arse, Sergeant. Now." His voice became that of a sergeant major on parade. "I bloody well recognize you, Sergeant, and you'd bloody well better recognize me, or you're out on your ear. Now do you know me, Sergeant?" The last line cracked out like a shot.

The sergeant swallowed; now he did recognize the big man with Stang, and oh, shit, it was...

"Bashar Gordon," he said weakly.

"Right." roared Gordon, "Now tell your men to point those fucking guns somewhere else."

"Yes, sah... put 'em away, men. It's all right. Sorry, Gordon, you tripped the autodefenses and I didn't recognize you with that hair cut." He coughed to hide his embarrasment. He realized how close he and his squad had come to death. "It's a new computer, sir. Your weapons profile hasn't been updated, so the computer didn't know you either. Sir!"

Gordon appeared weaponless again and had already calmed down.

"That's all right, Sergeant. It has my profile now, doesn't it? Just make sure my name gets stuck in the right blank."

"Yes sir!"

"And Sergeant." Have to do this.


"If I ever again see you lower your aim before you recognize your target as friendly, as you just did with me, I'll send you back to Greenhelle for regrooving, understand?"

"Yes! Sir!"

"Right you are. Dismissed, Sergeant." The sergeant and his squad were gone as swiftly as they had appeared.

"Sloppy, sloppy," muttered Gordon, as he and Stang walked down the hall.

"Well now, you're to be here for a while! I'm sure you'll get them whipped into shape." Stang was punching in a combination that opened the armored door to his office suite.

"So that's about it, Gordon." It was fifteen minutes since they'd entered the office; Gordon was on his third neat vodka, and Stang had just lit his eleventh cancer stick.

"Jaysus," groaned Gordon, unable to believe what he'd just heard. "You mean they've got Janor and the money and the plans and the fucking antidote, as well as ALL the Pils?"

"You got it."

"And Palmer and G'broagfram are still MIA somewhere in St. Louis?"

"Last we heard... and that was three days -- no, make that four days ago."

"And Uberguy?"

"He and Glassmadness are both compromised, circuits open, hanging out like Pee Dog's dick. No way to move without they get zapped."

"Mmmm... I would've thought the UberBrow more resourceful than that. So, shit. Stang, another Vodka pleeze. Where does this all leave us? What the hell have we got? Conventional weapons only count about thirty percent now."

"Well," said Stang, refilling Gordon's glass. "There's you and me and Sterno...."

"And that's sweet fuck all, Stang," sneered Gordon. "We can get up the weaponry level, but when They start coming at us with the Janor Device, Green Energy Demons and Dobbs knows what else, we won't have a chance of a snowball in a blast furnice."

"Well, we do have one other thing."

"Like wot, Mate?"

"Like... the Head." Stang said it quietly.

Gordon's eyebrows crawled all the way up his substantial forehead and his eyes widened considerably.

"The Head," he said in quieter tones than Stang. "You don't mean the real Head, the Bleeding Head of..."

"The world cup golfer, yes, Gordon, I mean exactly that Head. That one and only Head. The very same Head that you and Philo rescued from the Schoolbook Depository, the same one that Sterno tracked all over Arkansas' top golfing courses as it killed off Treviñistas right and left. That selfsame, hideous, bleeding, putrified, stinking, glowing Head." He peered up at Gordon, who was looking increasingly tense. "I know how you feel about taking that thing out of the Inert Lead Isomer container again, but it's our only chance. You see that, don't you? Sterno agrees with me. And he said this time he'll be HeadControl. You won't have to actually communicate with it again."

"I suppose you're right." He drained his glass. "I appreciate what Sterno is offering to do, and he's welcome to the task, but even that doesn't make me feel much better. You know about the Head, Stang, but you don't know the Head. And believe me, you don't want to. I just thought we'd never have to pull that bloody thing out until the Yacatisma arrived, or something like that."

"That's what we'd all hoped," said Stang, stubbing out his cigarette and searching the empty packet for another, before digging a full packet out of his desk drawer. "But things didn't work out that way. Of course, if the goddamned Pope of Nova Iorque hadn't sold us out, They wouldn't have Philo and Janor. And everybody else."

"Yeah. And if the dog hadn't stopped to shit, he would have caught the rabbit. Where is Sterno, by the way?"

"He's waiting for us at a topless bar a few blocks from here."


Chapter 3

The topless bar was an establishment of the sleazoid sort that Sterno seemed to prefer. The music was loud, the atmosphere was thick enough to cut with a knife, and the girls were the usual jaded group of impossibly pneumatic tarts, strategically located on a level that put their crotches right in the patron's faces.

The Pope of Arkansas was hunched up to the bar, nursing his sixth vodka and water and occasionally stuffing money into the G-strings of one or another of the three girls dancing on the bar in front of him.

Stang and Gordon sat down one on either side of the Pope.

"'Bout time you buttholes got here," drawled Sterno, without taking his eyes off the pelvic region of the girl gyrating less than a foot from the end of his nose. "Hell," he went on, barely audible over the music, "I've had to sit here and drink a lot of vodka just waiting, and it's cost me nearly two hundred dollars just to keep these girls here."

"So what the hell you need all these girls dancing up here right in front of you for?" shouted Stang over the music.

"Part of my cover, man. Hey, bartender, two more double vodkas and a diet Pepsi over here, please!" He turned, then, to smile at Gordon.

"Hey G.G.! Long time no see! Where you been lately?" A big grin.

"Been trying to take it easy, stay slack and 'fropped up, you know... just soaking up the sun and the NP. Until King Stang here burns up the relay lines getting me up here, gives me all the bad news and tells me that our only chance is to launch the goddamned Head again." Gordon reached for his drink disgustedly.

"That's about the size of it," Sterno said with a nod. "The situation is, to say the very least, extremely volatile right now. " He picked up his glass, gulped half his drink down, and once again centered his attention on the ecsydiast immediately before him. His head bobbed up and down in rhythmn with her pelvic thrusts.

Stang spluttered through his Pepsi. "Volatile," he gasped. "They've got the formula, the antidote and the Yacatisma link, "Bob" is inactivated and in cold storage, Unibrow's cover is completely blown, Dr. Drummond is undercover because they've almost terminated him half a dozen times... and you call it volatile? How about, 'totally fucked?'"

Sterno ignored Stang and turned again to Gordon. He leaned over and lowered his voice. "Listen, I can get all three of these girls to party with us as soon as they get off work in about an hour. Interested?"

"Never mind about the tartlets," snapped Gordon. "What's this crap about launching the Bleeding Head?"

"No sweat, man," rejoined Sterno. "The Hypercleats is in good shape, we've got some new Launching Irons and I've volunteered to be the main Headlink. If you'll just act as my Control, hell, I don"t see how we can lose." He finished up his drink, flagged down the bartender, stuffed twenty dollar bills in the G-strings of all three dancers, and asked for the bill.

"Give the bill to him," said Sterno, pointing to Stang. Gordon finished his drink and walked outside without looking to see if the other two were following him. He hadn't been in the best of moods when he'd arrived in Dallas, and now, with what Stang had told him, coupled with Sterno's breezy insouciance concerning the Headlaunching, he was plenty aggravated.

It had rained again briefly while they were inside the topless club, and Dallas was even muggier than before. Gordon walked quickly down the damp sidewalk, cutting a swath through the winos and street rats. Sterno was alongside in half dozen strides while Stang hustled to catch up with the two much taller men.

"So what's the big problem?" asked the Pope of Arkansas. "Great Dobbs, Gordon, you act like somebody just shit in your mess kit! What's the matter with you?"

"What's the matter?" snarled the Mercenary of Mercy. "What's the fucking matter? Listen, you swollen, bearded whoremonger. You recall what happened the last time we opened that Inert Lead Isomer safe and took out that ...that thing?"

"So, there was a little psychoactive fallout."

"A little psychoactive fallout...! What a touch you have for understatement, Sterno. I would remind you that over a thousand people were institutionalized, seventeen people in the immediate area committed suicide in very original and grotesque ways, and I had to spend a week in the Blank Tank in Dobbstown to get my neural channels purged. A little psychoactive fallout!" He shook his head. "I just can't believe you're willing to risk that sort of thing happening all over again. Not to mention the fact that that goddamned Head gets more powerful every time we Launch it...." He stopped abruptly and turned to Stang.

"What do you think about this, Ivan?"

"I don't think we have a choice," said the Sacred Scribe, grimacing. "Neither does Philo."

"And neither do I," said Sterno. "We've reached a point of no return, Gordon -- it's either Launch the Head, or complete destruction of the SubGenius movement. Our only consolation is that in the long run, it'll save millions of lives."

"And billions of dollars," added Stang."You do see that, don't you, Gordon?"

"Yeah," said Gordon unhappily. "Kind of like the same arguments they gave Harry Truman for dropping the big one on Japan... twice."

(c)1986 by Guy "PudKiller" Deuel