~Club Dynamic was Manhattan's hottest party spot. At least for this season. Being in the East Village Inclusion Zone – the most storm vulnerable IZ on the island – made it all the more enticing. The imagined proximity of Death was always erotic. ~*~
It opened at 8pm and closed at 8am, so things usually didn't get going until around Midnight. That is was New Year's Eve made that doubly so....and the countdown had just begun. The place thrummed and droned with Deep Vibe EDM and lots of beautiful bodies. Like most partying these days, it had a sharp edge of hysteria.
One hot brunette at the bar in a super tight black and red mini-dress seemed too calm for the place. Some had tried to chat her up, but she politely rebuffed them. The more insistent got a look from her real self that caused them to scurry away quickly. That glimpse of Death was a little too proximate.
Erika had not been in a psychic shithole like the Dynamic in a few decades. She'd grown out of this type of scene in her early twenties, but had kept coming back because it was a fertile hunting ground for slave boys, though less for recruiting Sisters. The females tended to be too drunk or drugged to properly assess.
Tonight, she was on a different kind of hunt. And she wasn't really wearing a mini-dress. She actually wore a Mark XXVI Combat Suit. Its outer layer was TeleCamo and was only projecting an image of her in that outfit. She did in fact own such a dress. She'd just been scanned wearing it and had that downloaded into the suit. Integrated into the suit on each forearm was an MRG-6, a Mini-Railgun, as Primary Armament.
Her body and skin had needed no editing however. Erika was a fully Enhanced Sister. Her bones and muscles had genetically increased density. Her blood teamed with nanobots that used her regular infusions of raw stem cells to repair and replace every single cell in her body on a moment by moment basis. And her brain, eyes and ears were embedded with millions of nanofibers – Neural Nanonics – all connected to her dozen personal on-board computers, keeping her aware of everything around her as needed.
Because of all that, while she was little more than a month shy of her seventieth birthday, she still looked to be in her late twenties and she had always been a beauty.
Though still a new political entity on the world scene, The Sisterhood had become immensely rich very quickly. Because of its foundational beliefs, it had the most advanced cybernetic and genetic Human Enhancement technologies in the world. All Sisters received whatever level of Enhancement they desired, which was the near maximum in most cases, and steady upgrades were the norm.
Even their infamous male Servitor classes were given various Enhancements and lived far better lives than the major of the world's non-wealthy population. This meant that the best and brightest women from all over the world sought to become Sisters. And no small number of pretty young men sought to become Servitors.
Everyone here at the Dynamic were Enhanced in one fashion or another. Only the wealthy lived in Inclusion Zones. The poor lived outside in The Shit, as Incluz called it. Too hot or too cold or too wet or too dry, Catastrophic Climate Change had showed up with a vengeance about twenty years ago, followed by all the expected horrors; war, pestilence and famine on a grand scale. Over three billion had died off.
The wealthy had built their protected enclaves and left the poor outside. The security personnel who guarded the enclaves lived in their outer rims, though they were well paid. Their children and those of the wealthy only mixed socially in the party scene. That helped provide the wealthy with 'new blood'.
Erika had noted those semi-desperate mating rituals while keeping an eye out for her real prey and monitoring the Hunting Trikona that also moved through this crowd. Her Neural Nanonics fed her visual, auditory and text information from all members of her team in real time. Like her, those three Sisters wore Mark XXVI's projecting 'party clothes'. If the revelers had known there was a Sisterhood kill team in their midst, there would have been a brutal panicked stampede toward the exits.
Normally, Mistress Erika, First High Priestess of The Cult of Mictecacihuatl, would not have been involved on the tactical level. She had done a lot of this kind of work 'back in the old days', but she was Upper Management now and too valuable to risk. But this was a Very Special Mission with Very Special Prey. Besides, she had to admit she did miss the thrill of The Hunt. Calm as she appeared, her blood was coursing hot tonight.
There was a second Hunting Trikona outside in an armored limo acting as the B Team, watching the comings and goings and monitoring the various Comm Nets. Plus they had heavy weapons 'just in case'.
Still, this was a dangerous mission. They were along way from home and deep in unfriendly territory. While the Union of Matrilineal Republics, The Sisterhood's 'political manifestation', was in firm control of all North America west of the Rockies, this was New York City, capital of the 'rump' United States of America; the old Upper Midwest, North East and eastern Canada. Their political relationship was tense. The USA still claimed all of North America.
If things went in the soup, the Sisters would have a hard time getting out and there would probably be an international incident. But the USA did do a steady amount of business with The Sisterhood – and was notoriously corrupt and decadent – so something would be worked out.
No way they'd try anything like this in the Christian States of America, the Old American South. Those fuckers were batshit crazy and proclaimed The Sisterhood to all be Hell Spawn. There was regular bloodshed in the buffer zone between them. Any Sister caught in the CSA, for whatever reason, would be literally be burned in public.
Mistress Eva, Erika's sister and Spiritual Leader of The Sisterhood, had been unhappy about her going on this mission and had made her objections known in no uncertain terms. But she conceded because of the nature of the thing. Sisters had died because of the Greed of Men, therefore Pain and Punishment would be meted out.
The target tonight was named Christof. He had a dozen or more aliases, but was always known by his first name. And reliable intel said he'd spend New Year's Eve at The Dynamic. If he did show up, The Sisterhood would make sure he'd see less than a full day of the coming year.
Christof was a particularly vile breed of vermin; a trafficker of curve goale, literally 'blank whore' in Romanian. These were individuals, of both genders and all ages, who had been brain wiped and reprogrammed as sex slaves. Christof's organization had become the number one player of this game in Europe. They controlled their entire chain of 'product', from abducting victims outside of the Inclusion Zones of the major European cities, through the wiping and implanting, to operating the brothels where the goale 'worked'.
It was well known that Christof's sexual appetites included mutilating and murdering goale, especially young females who were 'rewired' to interpret pain as sexual stimulation. As Europe had become a quite depraved sinkhole, his operations had flourished.
The Sisterhood's General Security Directorate were well aware of this creature. The tech he used had been developed by The Sisterhood itself during The Dissolution Wars. They'd brain-wiped enemy male combatants, reprogrammed them and turned back against their various opponents. The fear of suffering such a fate had caused many of The Sisterhood's enemies to finally let them be.
But even though he was using their tech, Christof and his organization could not be a top priority. Everything worldwide was in flux and while The Sisterhood had become very powerful very quickly, its survival was not yet assured. So numerous horrors like him went unaddressed.
All that changed four months ago in a particularly awful outer zone of Munich.
Erika and Eva had been born and raised in Munich, and though they had lived in SoCal for a half century now, Eva still loved their hometown, even if it had mutated beyond the place of their childhood. Because of that she had requested of The Priestesses of The Cult of Sekhmet, The Sisterhood's primary Medical Cult, that they create a special Sub-Cult to attend to the poor and sick of Munich's outer zones, The Cult of Eir, a Norse Goddess of Healing and Medicine.
A Trikona of The Cult of Eir had been going about its regular rounds when it encountered one of Christof's abduction teams. Once upon a time the team would have backed off. But he and his people had become arrogant and a fight ensued.
Even though these were Healing Sisters, they were still Sisters and were trained and armed. But Christof's men numbered in the dozens and the running fight last nearly an hour. When it ended, two of the Sisters were dead and the last one badly wounded. Christof had lost at least twelve, with more wounded. The locals guarded the wounded Sister and threatened Christof's men, so they withdrew.
This truly had been an International Incident. The EU could not track down Christof. It was simply too corrupt. Its leaders were terrified that The Sisterhood would launch an overt strike against them because of that failure. The Sisterhood's political and spiritual leadership was in an uproar. Even Mistress Eva herself, The Sisterhood's Face of Welcoming Love, had been in a towering rage.. But to everyone's surprise, it was Mistress Erika, The Darkness, the Sharp Blade of The Sisterhood, its terrifying Priestess of Blood, who urged restraint.
Erika was well known for her fierce hatred of men. And her rage at them had never abated because men kept providing new reasons to be raged at. But where it had once burned like fire, her rage was now as cold as the depths of space.
“They expect a hammer. Let us use a scalpel instead,” she had said. Eva calmed as she saw the wisdom in that. The rest followed their lead.
And so nothing seemed to happen for months. Of course, the EU's intelligence apparatus willing opened all its doors to The Sisterhood, which is what Erika really wanted. Unlike her more tender hearted sister, she had little love lost for her old home town. She had landed in Southern California a half century ago and fallen in love with it almost immediately.
Erika took charge of the entire operation herself and bent a significant amount of Mictecacihuatl's assets and resources to tracking her enemy. Because she did have a perverse sense of humor, she titled it Operation Daisy.
And now, on the last day of the Patriarchal year, Daisy was about to bloom.
A few minutes before Midnight, Erika received an info packet from Bryn, the B Team leader outside in the limo. “Target Sighted,” is said, along with all the relevant data. The A Team inside received their own copies. It contained images of Christof and his security team, with a through analysis of their real time positions, bio-readouts, gear carried and projected movements. They were fairly well Enhanced and very heavily armed.
Everyone acknowledged and waited.
In the two hours they had been at The Dynamic, Sula, the B Team's cyberwarfare operative, had whispered through the Enhancements of the five hundred or so club goers looking for systems to jack into. By the time Christof and his crew arrived, she had ghosted over a hundred of them. Everything they saw, heard, felt, tasted and smelled was being monitored and passed on to Erika and the A Team inside.
The club's security system they bypassed and ignored....for now.
Christof had a twelve man security detail. Two proceeded the main group into the club, labeled A and B, and scanned the place. Six closely surrounded Christof himself, labeled Target One and E through J, while two more led, labeled C and D, and two others followed, labeled K and L.
Erika would stand by at the bar while the kill team did its work. They were veteran operators and knew exactly what they were doing. Minka, the team leader, was in the middle of the dance floor. Selene and Artemis were equidistant from her and each other on either side of the main entrance. They'd wait until Target One was in the center of their triangular kill zone until they opened fire.
At two minutes to Midnight, A and B passed through the Kill Zone. They would be Erika's first targets. Her Neural Nanonics had them highlighted in red, club security in yellow, the revelers in a dull green and her team in white.
All four Sisters heard a soft tone in their heads. Christof and his men were entering the Kill Zone. Each Sister pulled the hood of her combat suit over her head, which activated Reflective Mode. They are all now effectively invisible. In the mounting excitement, no one noticed.
Erika raised her arms, her targeting indicators showing a ninety seven percent accuracy ratio. The other Sisters were doing the same at the corners of the triangular Kill Zone. Their indicators showed a near one hundred percent ratio. And at these ranges, only heavy combat armor could stop the weapons being used.
The hard sharp snaps of hyper-sonic ferrodarts pouring from eight MRGs did breakthrough the din, though only a few people recognized the sound. All thirteen of the targets were down within little more than two seconds, shaking and writhing on the floor. The darts were neurotoxin delivery systems. It cause muscles to contract so violently bones broke and it caused neural inflammation that felt like molten metal poured into one's veins. The Sisterhood meant for Christof and his men to suffer before they died.
The sight of a cluster of large dangerous looking men suddenly falling to the ground and spasming violently did get people's attention and the rush for the exits began. Though faster and more orderly than Baselines would have done – these were all Enhanced humans – it was still a panic by any measure.
The Sister's suits shifted image. They now appeared to by NYPD officers in heavy tactical gear. The clue goers worked hard to avoid them.
Erika strode over to Christof, placed her gloved hand upon his face. Microfine tendrils lanced into his flesh, seeking all his on-board cybernetics. They jacked-in and downloaded everything, his entire network configuration and all his data. That took thirty seven seconds. The A Team stood guard while this took place.
Jacking out, Erika looked up at the nearest CCTV cam, pulled her hood back to fully reveal her face and said clearly, “Greetings from The Sisterhood.” She then pulled her hood back and they headed for the back of the club toward the owner's private entrance.
At this point the bodies of Christof and his men began spurting blood from every orifice. That was captured on vid. Sula then totally crashed the club's security system. All that would be left was Erika's 'greeting' and the images of those deaths.
The Sister's exited into an alley behind the club just as a NYPD cruiser pulled up. It was driven by Alita, Erika's personal assistant. They all piled in. A block away from the club the vehicle's exterior shifted to a normal looking luxury sedan. In the meantime, Sula had borked and scrubbed every CCTV cam in a three block radius.
In front of the club, the B Team's limo was moving with the orderly chaos of people fleeing in self driving vehicles. They let the limo's AI do the driving, but Jo was ready to go manual and Bryn was jacked into the weapons suite, prepared to reduce any active opposition to flaming wreckage. But they glided out with the rest of the escaping clubbers without incident.
By the time the authorities had sorted everything out, they would all be well on their way back to SoCal on a diplomatic jump shuttle belonging to the Union of Matrilineal Republics.
Sula had received the data Erika accessed in real time and had uploaded it to a Sisterhood satellite directly overhead. The first operations against Christof's organization would be underway within an hour. And all would be completed within three days. Several hundred people would be violently terminated – The Sisterhood was making public examples here – and a few hundred more would become 'coerced assets' of the GSD.
That would leave over four thousand goale. Most of them were not retrievable and would be euthanized as painlessly as possible. The remainder would be transported back to SoCal for reprogramming.
The next morning there was a VidCon between New York and Los Angeles, capital of the UMR. The vid of Erika's 'greeting' and the gruesome deaths was played. Pixels undulated. Then a man and a woman faced each other.
The man was Frank Hammond, US Secretary of State. The woman, Renatta Sundersen, Minister of External Affairs, his opposite number in the Union of Matrilineal Republics' government.
They looked similar in their different ways, short professional haircuts and expensive business suits. Hammond was more 'masculine' of course. Sundersen's haircut was more 'feminine' and her suit was clearly of The Sisterhood's style, with the Star, V and Wreath pin on her lapel.
She had known Hammond for over four decades from when she herself was a US Foreign Service Officer. That made their conversation familiarly confrontational.
Hammond looked tired and angry. “That is clear evidence of a violation of U.S. Sovereignty and the commission of what is effectively a terrorist act by a high ranking member of The Sisterhood's leadership,” he said. “What in God's name was she thinking, Renatta?”
“More like Goddess' Name, Frank, and you know which one.”
Hammond flinched slightly at that remark. Sundersen knew she had the advantage over him. She was sure he'd been up celebrating until last last night, while she was well rested, the Sisterhood's New Year's celebration, The Festival of The Turning, being five days in the past.
“I Swear by The Goddess' Many Names that I did not know anything about this until a few hours ago.” She was telling the truth about being out of the loop on this and Hammond knew that by her Oath.
“So then how do paint ourselves out of this corner? The president doesn't want a war, cold or hot,” he said. “But half the Congress is on the warpath, mostly The Federalists, but some of our party, as well.”
His party were The Liberals, who were far more realistic about reclaiming the U.S. Former territory. The Federalists were the 'war party' and hated The Sisterhood. But all sides feared and loathed the CSA, which kept all this in check. For now.
“I received a full briefing on this about an hour ago and the GSD gave me some information your president should find useful. We will sit on it, so how you use it will be at your discretion.”
Hammond looked skeptical. “I'm listening."
Sundersen tapped a hologram on the virtual console that illumined her desktop.
“I just sent you a file with the information,” she said.
Hammond paused while checking receipt, then opened the file. Because of his long friendship with Sundersen he didn't engage any of his Neural software to 'pokerface' his expression. He read, his mouth and eyebrows slightly twitching. Then he smiled broadly.
The data revealed that the leading Federalist Senator plus seven Federalist Congressmen – and they were all men – had been clients of Christof's organization and that Federalists in New York's municipal government had been on his pay roll.
“Yes,” he said with satisfaction. “This will do very nicely.”
Sundersen smiled back at him. “I thought you'd like it.”
He turned serious again. “Renatta, I know it is a tall order, but could you please ask Her Grace to be a bit more discreet in these matters in the future?”
Sundersen gave him a rueful smile. “Mistress Erika is a force of nature, Frank. But I will convey your request.”
Erika was still too keyed up to sleep. She'd dozed a while on the shuttle from New York, but that jump lasted barely an hour. At the moment she reclined on a chaise lounge in the ocean view parlor in her rooms in the Cult's Headquarters. She wore a short fine silk robe of a pale floral design Eva had given her.
A male Body Servant massaged her feet. At the other end Seemkoo, her favorite Pleasure Server, a tall slim pretty mulatto, sat on the floor. He passed her a pipe full of hashish, a local Sisterhood blend. She planned to have him ride her hard in a short while, then have a deep well fucked sleep.
Being early winter, the Plexiglas doors were closed, only letting in the still warm Southern California sun. The Mictecacihuatl Cult's Headquarters, a solid mass of tempered steel and smart concrete, sat upon the western end of the Santa Monica Mountains, just north of what was left of Malibu. Two decades of typhoons had washed away most of that old neighborhood. The sliding steel doors just past the Plexiglas ones where a reminder of that reality.
The door chimed, then opened. Renatta Sundersen had been expected. She entered and dropped into a well stuffed chair opposite Erika.
“Your Excellency,” Erika said with a nod.
“Your Grace,” Sundersen replied, returning the nod.
“So, Renatta, how did it go?”
Renatta smiled. “He was quite pleased with what we provided him.” She placed a mini-drive on the side table next to the chair. “The whole thing.”
Erika smiled wolfishly. “I thought as much.” She frowned. “Goddess, where are my manners? Would you like a drink?”
“Yes,” said Renatta. “Some bourbon please.”
“Seemkoo?” said Erika. He moved gracefully to a cabinet, then looked quizzically at Sundersen, who had watched him appreciatively.
“Two fingers, neat,” she said.
She and Erika sat quietly for a moment while she took a few sips of of her drink, then sighed contentedly.
“Are you planning to share this with Saxon Park?” Sundersen said.
Saxon Park was the HQ of the U.S. Unified Intelligence Agency located in central Westchester County north of New York City. Along with the irradiated ruins of Washington, the abandoned CIA and NSA HQ's now lay in the Disputed Territories between the USA and the CSA.
Erika sighed a bit. “I thought it best to leave that to President DeKay. It might ding the relationship with the GSD a bit, but they'll have to understand the security protocols in this situation. The Federalists have their own people in the agency after all.”
Erika gave Sundersen a thoughtful look. “Forgive me for dropping that bomb in your lap,” she said.
“Sundersen smiled, nodded, “No forgiveness necessary, your Grace. That nasty little fucker required a public execution. Besides, that's what y'all pay me for.”
Erika flinched as the Body Servant worked a painful spot. He did not pause at all. Everyone knew she had a high pain tolerance.
Sundersen finished her drink, stood. “I expect you're rather done in by all of this, so I'll leave you be.”
“Thank you for coming by, your Excellency,” said Erika.
Sundersen made a slight bow. “It was my pleasure, your Grace.” She then exited.
Erika sighed deeply, motioned the Body Servant to stop. “Thank you,” she said.
He bowed deeply. “I live to Serve, Mistress.” Then he exited.
“Seemkoo,” she said languidly, pulling her robe open and spreading her legs. “Come here and prepare me.”
He smiled softly, his shorts bulging. “I live to Serve, Mistress,” he said, then brought his tongue and fingers down between her thighs. Erika gasped lightly, arched her back. All would soon be right in her world.