The Rabbit Household
To say that the Plasma Bunny was quite a bit pissed over the fact that that Butthead Ulysses was using her Older and Rounder Sister as a pair of remote speakers for his bad Riddler impression would have been an understatement as Mercy chucked herself onto Tessa's bad, sitting up straight as she considered how to combat the Human Hoover Vac's intrusions on what would have been nice days.
"God I hate him as much as a Death Claw hates scratching its own butt!" Mer-Mer exclaimed as she hopped off the bed to start pacing, deciding that she couldn't think properly while sitting still.
"I wish I knew more about how it was that jerky-jerk was hijacking your systems! But I'm sure that whatever allows him to do it is erasing the logs as soon as he completes his transmissions!" the Analytical Rabbit muttered as she continued pacing before sitting back down.
"Sissy V? Is there anything that you can tell me about how you feel just prior to the hijacking? Do you notice anything wrong? Do you feel light headed or woozy or anything?" The Youngest Rabbit sister asked, perhaps not remembering who it was she was talking to.
"Umm..." the iBunny began a bit apprehensive, as if she didn't quite know how to answer her little sister's question... or still wasn't used to people worrying about her more than they would say, a spanner, "I know exactly how he does it. There are a set of command phrases hardwired into... whatever that device is inside me. I... wouldn't recommend trying to remove it. The repair drones in The Divide attached it to my databanks and my core processor... my brain in other words."
Vera hovered closer to her little sister, then 'sat' down next to the Brilliant Bunny before going on.
"I umm..." she stammered, "I still know what's going on but... it's like I'm locked in a room several miles away, and I'm just running through a maze trying to get out again. Its... like whatever I want is irrelevant, and I just become a puppet for that man to twist around. The only lucky break I've had so far is that he only seems to know how to use me as his personal two-way radio, or well... how to make me set off nukes in The Divide. Well... that's what its like when he's taken me over."
The little eyebot shook in her spot on the bed, as though shivering; the old mattress squeaked and bounced loudly before settling down again.
"Sorry," Vera said, her voice sounding more like the Brilliant Beautiful Bunny sitting next to her, "I... didn't mean to rock the boat there. Umm... as for how it feels while the hacking is going on. I... don't know if there's a good human analogue for it. But I do feel it, with every single circuit, wire, and transistor; starting with the most... sensitive ones and working its way through the rest of me in the space of a second... for you. For me... it feels like its going on for hours. My... 'heartbeat' is a lot faster than yours so... everything feels like it goes on a lot longer for me if I think about it too much. Anyway, the closest human experience I can think of that sounds similar to what it feels like when that man hacks me... well... its like when someone forces you to do something with them that... well... you really, really don't want to do. Something that you might freely give away to someone else... someone you cared about... and then some asshole comes along and takes it from you without any thought to what you wanted. But, that's probably wrong too. The experiences are probably still too different to be called true analogues of each other. I just have no idea how to really describe it."
Vera slowly flew out of the bed, and turned around to project her chosen image sitting on the bed next to Mercy. The hologram's bottom and legs clipped through the mattress at first, at least until Vera adjusted the projection's height a little. She had the hologram look Mercy directly in the eye. Vera experimented with the settings a little, and seemed to find one that made the hologram solid without it scorching anything. At least... the mattress didn't appear to be heating up any. Vera decided to risk it and had her projected mirage cup Mercy's left cheek.
"I'm sorry," she said, keeping the hologram's lips in sync as she spoke, "I wish I knew how to explain it better. But... I just know that simply blocking the transmission won't be enough."
The Plasma Bunny nodded in agreement as she toying with a screw driver that she kept in her dirty overalls. Whatever was allowing that dreadlocked sucker fish to take control of her Beloved Ball Bunny Sister needed to be taken out of commission, which was well nigh impossible since he would never just hand it over.
Hopping off the bed once more, the Bomber Bunny walked over to the scrap pile that she had been building ever since she had arrived in Cheyton and started shifting through parts rather aggressively, Vera having to dodge the occasional piece of scrap or sensor module as the Harried Hare tossed each crappy piece of crap to the side muttering why each piece was useless to her.
"The only way I'll know how it works is to monitor your systems before it happens and we can't just ask the piece of Brahmin leavings to take you over." Mercy said as she picked up a red and yellow pre-war device with alpha numeric keys and a small screen that she had only seen a few times previously.
"Speak and Spell?" The Ingenious Little Rabbit said to herself as she suddenly got an idea.
"Sissy V? How would you feel if I could read your mind?" The
Dirty Dirt and Greese Covered Little Bunny asked cryptically.
Vera had the hologram walk over to Mercy and hug her close. Then, projecting her voice a little so that it sounded as though the hologram itself were whispering into Mercy's ear, she said, "If its you, Mer-Mer... sure. I trust you. You're... just... amazing. I love that look you get when you get a brilliant idea. Its so cute. But umm... I'd rather no one else know about this. I mean... I trust Tessa and Vicky as well. But I can't stand the thought of Markus or his minions finding out about this. They're Legion, and the first thing any Legionary does when he finds something like this... is to exploit it. So... yeah... just between us, yeah?"
And though the hologram could harmlessly interact with objects and people... Vera found herself wishing that Mercy's mad little dream of her being able to feel through the hologram were possible.
"Of course it'll be our little secret V." Mer-Mer said with an anxious grin as she started looking around the room to his her suddenly reddening face as she realized that she would be able to know what Vera was thinking and decided that the arrangement needed to be a bit more fair.
Opening the Speak and Spell, the Rapid Little Builder Bunny pulled out the text to vocalization board, giving the circuit board a cursory glance to ensure that it wasn't flawed in any way, shape or form as the last thing she wanted to do was give her Beloved PewPew Bunny sister the equivalent of a lobotomy.
Satisfied that the board was good, Mercy discarded the remainder of the old Speak and Spell and started collecting some other parts: two 2 way micro-transmitters, a set of headphones, a micro FMRI head band and a few electrical leads and laid them on the bed, speaking while she worked.
"Cross my heart and hope to die, stick a plasma bolt in my eye, V. I'll never let anyone know. Besides, I think that, well, I think that they'll be hesitant to abuse it anyways if anyone found out. I'm making it so that you can also read my thoughts, kind of. You won't be able to exactly know what I'm thinking but you should be able to know what I'm feeling." The Blathering Bunny said as she attached the FRMI head band to the headphones and the electrical leads, making sure that they fit snugly over her head and made contact with the correct positions where the emotional centers of her brain would be.
"It's only fair right?" The Blushing Bunny muttered as she continued her work, suddenly feeling self conscious about the fact that V would be able to know exactly what she was feeling when she was feeling it.
The little eyebot was quiet for several moments, as if having trouble processing that level of... commitment and, more to the point, caring from someone else.
"I guess... heh," Vera tried to make the seriousness of what was about to happen dissipate somewhat with a little nervous laughter, "This makes us... thought-sisters? Er... probably a better term to use. But... I... I don't know what to say Mer-Mer. No one has ever offered to help me as much as you have. I mean, do you know what you are risking here? If this goes wrong, and he hacks me... there's a chance the feedback could loop back to you and... I don't know what would happen really. At best, you'd experience severe, but temporary pain. At worst... could be just about anything... he might be able to 'hack' you through me, if that's even physically possible... or... when I get shoved aside... I might end up in your head... I mean... my personality matrix is just software... and I think I just went through just about every campy pulp sci-fi cliche in the book there. I'm sorry, I don't know what I was thinking there. A lot of that was pretty ridiculous, wasn't it?"
Vera tried to laugh a little, but it seemed to come out wrong somehow.
"Sorry," she said, "I'm just... this is just so new to me. Having someone like you Mercy. Someone as smart and beautiful and all-around wonderful as you... caring like you do. Its... incredible. Thank you. I promise to find some way to return the favor... somehow. I love you, Mer-Mer. You're the best thing that has ever happened to me. Hell, you're the best thing that's happened to this frame since The Courier fixed it all those years ago."
The Beaming Bunny continued to work diligently but not before she paused to give her sister a room brightening smile before pausing even longer as something in her brain snapped her towards the trail end of what her Vera had said.
"I - I love you too, Vera." Mercy said with a now awkward smile as her fingers started fumbling a bit, not noticeable to the human eye but to Vera's ever sharp optical sensors, the fumbling was highly noticeable. Clearing her throat for a moment, Mercy could only work in silence as her brain tried to digest its own emotions.
"V, besides Tessa, you've been the only one out here that's truly shown me any kindness but really I think that you're the only one that understands me." Mercy said sheepishly as she tried to get the damned 2 way micro transmitter mounted to the headband.
"You don't have to worry about the Jackhole hacking into my brain. It's perfectly safe for us to use, all it will do it tell me what's going on in your mind. It'll be especially important when he tunes in since it'll give me the conditions that I need to work out a counter measure." Mer-Mer said as she finally got the transmitter mounted.
"Besides, it wouldn't be so bad being stuck in my brain would it?" the Humorous Hare said with a slight giggle.
Vera joined in with the giggle, shitting off the hologram projector as it was starting to bug out (it was starting to shimmer a bit more than it should, and occasionally jumped into odd positions). The little eyebot floated close and gave Mercy a long and slow nuzzle.
"No it wouldn't," she said softly, "Being in your head would be a wonderful place to be... even if I were locked in there. You Brilliant little Bunny you!"
Vera nuzzled her little sister for another couple of moments before gently breaking it off.
"So... ummm," she began, "How does this work exactly? Anything I can do to help?"
The Build-a-Bunny grinned for a moment as she warmed up the Nerd Centers of her brain, the portion of her brain that was pretty much the dominant force in Mercy's mind. Looking at the short-in-stature-sister, one could almost envision her rubbing her hands together like an old man getting ready to tell a story about the mirelurk that got away.
"Welllllllll, it's simple really. The module that I'm going to install in you is going to analyze all the subroutines that you're running at a given moment and run it through a series of filters. The filters are going to strip away the unnecessary data, like your navigation data, flight data, sensor data, vocalization commands, thrust and vectoring commands. What's left should be left is the logical data that helps you make yoir decisions - erm - I mean what's left are your thoughts, I think. I mean that's all that should be left in theory. *INHALE* Your thoughts are then translated from its raw form by the text to speech board and then transmitted to these headphones and VOIL09! I know what you're thinking, I -um- think." The Hopeful Hare though aloud as much as she explained befire she shook her head, clearing the thoughts and theories from her mind.
"On my end, I have this FMRI headband that measures my brain activity through the use of mini electro magnets. What should happen is that the headband transmits pictures of my brain activity to you and you should be able, through the use of your sensory data, to correllate my brain activity with whatever emotion I'm feeling at the moment. I mean there'll be other brain activity that's sent, BUT, the longer I wear the band, the more and more you'll be able to filter out the unnecessary data and just focus on what my emotions look like in my brain!" The Brain-Busting-Bunny said as she exhaled the rest of her unused breath.
She was still fumbling around with the two way transmtter as she explained all of this.
"Hopefully I'll get it to work without frying my brain!" Mercy said with a grin and a wink and another grin.
"If this makes you uncomfortable, I'll make sure to make a shutoff command for you but it would be best not to use it until we understand how Assius Maximus is controlling you."
"Frying your brain?" Vera repeated, "That's not going to happen. Its more likely that my 'brain' would melt being in that close proximity with the sheer awesomeness that is your genius!"
Meanwhile... in another room in the Rabbit Hole
...Probably pass on my dads coat to some youngster I like enough, speaking of can I put that back on? I'm cold." The Legionnaire shrugged, and put his glasses back on.
Tessa bit her lip and squeezed the Black Swan's hand as she tried to find the right words.
Squeezing Tessa's hand reassuringly and smiling at the Rabbit Thief, the Black Swathed Bunny simply regarded the Legionnaire coldly and tossed him a blanket.
"How about you take a moment to explain the history of that Coat that you wear. It's not like we're running short on time since I have a plan to decapitate the remaining leadership of the Knuckleheads. Without someone to control the brutes, their organization will implode upon itself." Victoria said as she turned to Tessa to explain the plan that the Undertaker had decided upon.
"There are only a little more than a half dozen members of the Knucklehead leadership based on the numbers we've killed so far versus that number that you got from the Followers. Every night, without exception, these Knuckle draggers meet at one of their brothels for a little business discussion and nocturnal activities afterwards. My plan is to sneak into the brothel disguised as the girls there and take them out when they least expect it." Vicky said coolly, her 'off the books' training taking over as she discussed the plan.
Looking over at the Legionnaire, she eyed him critically for a moment.
"I believe we'll have some attire that will fit this one since he's to take Markus' place."
The Bladed Bunny grinned at the thought of seeing Vicky in something a bit more... revealing than her black dress. The dress was nice, but variety was always good... right?
"I like the sound of that," Tessa said, practically purring with excitement, "And it just so happens that I found three perfect disguises for us. You, me, and my little sister."
Tessa got up for a moment to rummage through the pile of clothes she'd been accumulating over the past couple of days to find a set of lingerie with a bunny tail still attached to it, and two dresses that were likely ball-gowns before the wear and tear of centuries got to them and turned them into a post-apocalyptic fetishist's wet dream. Lot of... 'convenient' cuts everywhere on those two. Tessa brought the clothes over to the Black Swan.
"So which one do you think is your size?" she asked before realizing something that might come up, "Well... normally I'd think of letting Mercy stay here while we go and take care of this but... I don't think she'd ever forgive me, so... yeah. She's coming along. And if she's coming, then Vera's probably coming too. I haven't a clue how we're going to get away with that bouncing ball of awesome with us."
Tessa really thought this plan sounded fun, and while it would be a lot easier (and a lot safer for Vera and Mercy) to just have it be a... 'Bladed Bunny/Black Swan affair', she knew her sisters would never want to be kept out of this so... yeah... this was going to be tricky.
"Any ideas?" Tessa said, her hand unconsciously sliding onto Vicky's leg.
Smiling a bit as she felt the soft skin of her Appropriating Bunny's hand on her thigh, the Friendly (more so with Tessa than others) Neighborhood Undertaker, intertwined her fingers with the dexterous Tessa Rabbit, her mind absently day dreaming about what a miracle the nimble fingers could be. The sensation so intense that the Tall and Pale woman had to shaker her head to clear away the fog.
"I'm sure that I can think up something." The Black Hair Beauty said softy as she got up, heading off behind a silk screen with a bag in hand.
----------A moment later----------
Walking out from behind the screen, the now Black Leather Clad Mistress of the Dead revealed herself and a rather serious looking riding crop.
"I think that Ball of Bunny is about to become my Ball of Bondage." Vicky said as she pulled out what appeared to be some sort of Vinyl Mask, one large enough to fit over the EyeBunny.
Tessa did a spit-take and proceeded to laugh her ass off, nearly falling out of her seat in the process. Eventually, she calmed down, almost breathless.
"Oh... god..." she said in between pants, "I'm sorry but... I couldn't help it. That is just too much there... love it."
Tessa got up, snorting one last time before walking over to her Tall, Pale, and Beautiful Black Swan and gave her a peck on the cheek.
"That's just... too perfect," she said, "Vera is going to flip when she sees that. Speaking of which... we should probably check on them."
Tessa grabbed Vicky's hand and led her towards her bedroom, where, apparently, everyone liked to have their private meetings. Before opening the door, Tessa slipped into an old habit and stopped to listen. She heard a mattress bouncing.
"Did you hear that?" she whispered, "What are they doing in there?"
She stopped to listen a bit more. She couldn't pick out the exact words, but Tessa could hear the excited tones in her sisters' voices. Umm... what... what the hell?
"That's not going to happen. Its more likely that my 'brain' would melt being in that close proximity with the sheer awesomeness that is your genius!"
"No no no! My brain would break from the raw awesomeness of YOUR personality and brightness and shininess and lovingness and stupendousness and exquisiteness and perkiness and shininess - wait I already said shininess-" Mercy was overheard saying as the curtain the separated the rooms was parted and the Black Swan of S&M and the Concerned Rabbit sister looked at the two "sisters," bringing the plethora of "nesses" to a stop.
Amused at what she saw, the Undertaker could on cover up the smile on her face and shake her head in amusement as she turned to Tessa, whispering, "Perhaps you and Mercy need to have a talk about the Birds and the Robo-Bees."
"If you want, I can take the Legionnaire and my new Ball of Butt Spanking to get fitted for their outfits for tonight."
Vera fell out of the air and rolled around on the floor for a moment from the shock. The Black Swan's plan made sense but...
"What?!??!" she yipped nervously, shooting straight back into the air, "What... what the hell?!!"
Then, Vera did a one-eighty, and started giggling evilly.
"Does this mean I get to inflict pain on Markus and he can't complain?"
Before Vicky could answer, however, another voice interrupted. One that the Undertaker in Black hadn't heard for many years.
"Quite the fun little family you have here," The Editor said, adjusting his tie before placing a hand on Vicky's shoulder to get her attention, "I would advise against alarming your... friends here. For the moment, you see... I am allowing you and you alone to be aware of my presence. There's no need to spoil the surprise so soon, is there?"
The Leather Clad Lady Undertaker stiffened, almost imperceptibly, as she mentally shook her head, her mind shocked by the voice that hadn't heard for quite some time.
"If you'll excuse me, I'm going to go patrol the rooftops for a moment since no one's doing that at the moment. Who knows if the Knuckleheads are going to attack before our plan bears fruit." Vicky said as she started towards the door without waiting for a response from anyone. As she walked towards the exit to the Rabbit Home, she started whispering.
"Why? Why are you here? We had an agreement you and I. If I got you away from Dad, if I became an Undertaker, you'd find someone else to bother." She whispered, the horrid realization that the voice had in fact found someone else to bother: Victoria McGee, Undertaker of Wyoming.
The skies outside the Rabbit Hovel were starting to dim as the sun started sinking below the faraway horizon, the sounds of the Cheyton's night life assailing the Black Veiled Beauty's ears as she started climbing to the top of the Rabbit Shack, her mind trying to figure out what she could do to get the horrid creature away from her.
"Alright. We're alone. What do you want?"
Her voice was confident, defiant and utterly filled with terror as Victoria addressed the thing that had traumatized her Father for much of his lifetime. The voice that had started talking to her when she was younger and her Father had thought that the thing was gone from him. The voice that seemed to whisper to her when she slept. The voice, a viper that had just chosen its time to strike.
"Well," The Editor began, futilely attempting to brush some dust off of his ruined suit, "Is it entirely out of the question for a simple man to check up on his friend's adopted daughter? I see you're doing quite well for yourself. You've gained a new family. Incidentally, Mr. Truant is doing quite well at the moment, though he does miss you dearly."
The Editor noticed the death-glare that Vicky was throwing his way.
"Ah-ah! Don't fret, my dear Undertaker-Assassin," he went on, "I have kept our bargain, but... I still keep tabs on Mr. Truant from time to time. I won't bore you with the details but, I can say with confidence that he does miss you terribly. You are his pride and joy. Hmmph. To hear him talk, you are a legend in the making. Given your current company, perhaps he's right. I simply cannot imagine a more... eclectic group here. A failed Legate with his army on the way? You're right to be suspicious."
The Editor started pacing around the Undertaker in a circle.
"Then there's the eyebot. Curious little thing, isn't she?" The Editor stopped pacing and folded his arms, then altered his voice to sound more like Ulysses, "You know that she made The Divide what it is today. You know that machine has caused untold suffering, yet you have not tried to end its pitiful existence. Why not? Its just a machine, and it is still capable of waking 'giants', as he would put it."
If there was one thing that the thing that stood in front of her could do, it was pull at her heart strings, especially when it mentioned her Father, even though she knew that Johnny Truant wasn't her real father, the real one never having been in her life at all.
"I'd appreciate it if you stopped referring him to my Adopted Father, he's done more for me than the bastard who left my mom and myself alone and still has yet to show up in my life." The Deathly Pale Undertaker said without an ounce of emotion in her voice. She wouldn't give that thing the satisfaction that she believe that it craved.
"If you do talk to My Father, and I'm sure that you'll go out of your way to see him, tell him that I miss him dearly as well. I think of him and Mom every day." Vicky said before moving on to the next subject.
It was bothering Undertaker McGee that the thing had taken the time to review the circumstances of her life, yet interesting at the same time.
"In regards to the Legion, the proper thing to do would be to observe how they react after the removal of the Knuckleheads from Cheyton. Markus has earned that little bit of consideration. However, we both know that I'm not one to make assumptions on the motives of others. Should he seek to take over Cheyton the same way that his Caesar would have, I suspect that he will not find the annexing of this town very easy." The Black Bunny said as looked into the distance, noticing a cloud of dust on the horizon.
"As for VERA, we both know that she's not just the key to bringing about our destruction. That Rat Bastard Ulysses said that she's also the key to unlocking the greatest treasure the world has ever known. Understanding what I know about him and his disinterest in material possessions, I can only suspect something far more valuable to humanity as a whole."
"As for you, why are you here? Shouldn't you be looking for a new host or something?"
The Editor's only response to Vicky's question was a smirk followed by a derisive chuckle. While staring directly at her. Pausing, as if trying to let it sink in for a moment, he went on as if she hadn't said anything.
"And what of the littlest tinkerer down there?" he said, kicking the roof, "Do you really think she'll accomplish anything aside from her own horrible death? She keeps going, she'll find a newer better way to end this world. Not her fault of course, she's only human, and that's all humans have proven to be good for over the centuries."
There was a long and extended sigh as The Tall and Pale Undertaker sat down on the deck chair that she had left on the roof from earlier. The young engineer reminded Vicky of her mother so very much that it was hard to think of anything other than protecting the girl.
"You know what my answer is to that. Everyone deserves a chance to prove themselves, I thought that you would have learned this by now." Victoria said as she continued to track the dust cloud in the distance.
"I would have thought that over the span of your existence, you've seen thing created by us, not just destroyed. But if she becomes too dangerous, I know what to do." Victoria said resolutely, hoping that there would never come a day where she had to kill Mercy Rabbit.
"Anything else? Perhaps you want to ask me about Tessa now?"
"In a moment perhaps. First though, I thought I'd ask you about your boyfriend."
The question caused Victoria to physically flinch as the thing got the better of her, something that she didn't like at all. Standing there, she thought about punching him but knew that her fist was just pass harmlessly through his cocky visage. What did he even mean by the question? Didn't he know what was going on between Victoria and Tessa or did he just simply not understand gender? Did he mean Treb, whom she had a large amount of disdain for or Markus, of whom she believed to be somewhat okay in her books for a Legionnaire. Regardless of what he mean it was -
"None of your business creep."
"Oh come now, my dear," The Editor said, placing a hand on her shoulder, "Don't pretend you don't know who I'm talking about. After all, its not every day a girl like you meets a former Frumentari like him. He... reminded you of me, didn't he? The way he knew so much about you, more than you'd like anyone to know... and the way he tossed you about. I had no idea you were that kinky. I suppose Tessa will like that later on. But at any rate... your Dreaded Boyfriend... well, I don't need to tell you that he's got a few screws loose. Then again, I suppose that's what draws you to him, given your obvious mental stability."
Deciding not to give her a chance to retaliate, The Editor went on. "And your dear Tessa. You've already seen the anger, the fear that truly drives her. When the pressure kicks in, she only really watches out for one person. The only trick with her is... figuring out who that's going to be next time. And... time will tell, I suppose. Oh, by the way... your mother also does not approve of your chosen profession. She's less... understanding of it than dear old dad is. Rather hypocritical of her, don't you think? Still, she might have a point, considering the company you keep. Legion against you; working with another sect of the Legion. Tsk Tsk. Naughty girl."
Forgetting for a moment just who it was she was talking to, the anger inside burning like an inferno, the Black Dressed Undertaker lashed out with her gleaming silver straight razor, unsurpised that it passed through the thing before her.
"(Fool!)" She cursed herself as she found herself off balance before ungracefully landing back on the deck chair. Sitting there, the Tall and Pale Young Woman remained where she had landed, dropping the straight razor onto the metal roof as the stress of the thing's appearance in her life took over.
"Why can't you just leave me alone? Why? Why can't you?"
"You already know why." And with that The Editor vanished for the time being.
Unnoticed by the Undertaker, a pair of ears was listening to her and the thing's conversation, though to be quite truthful, Tessa only heard one voice carrying on a conversation with itself.
Still laying there, on the deck chair as the sun finally finished its slow decent behind the horizon, Victoria McGee stared at the light that reflected off of the dropped straight razor before picking it up and heading into the house.