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RCM Fanfic - Agents of ARACHNOS, Ep. 19
Episode 19: Danger

You can't logic your way through emotion. –Unknown

*****

"PUT. ME. DOWN!!!"

During his time in Fallujah, Varyar had a fair amount of experience with the deafening shriek of mortar bombs flying through the air as they were fired at the enemy. He hadn't thought it possible, but in the enclosed metal box of the elevator, the angry shrillness of Baroness's voice just inches from his ear was just as loud and only slightly less terrifying. He sighed. Her temper was very much like his own, and over the years they'd taken turns being the other's voice of reason when those tempers hit critical levels. Though to be fair, while he may have taken swings at people in the past, he'd never been so enraged as to deck someone he knew to be a secret agent with a license to kill. The fact that Baroness did know, and was so far past the point of even pretending to care, disturbed him greatly.

Mingled with the reverberation of her voice was the sound of DeedeDee laughing harder than he ever had in his life.

"That was priceless!" he gasped between guffaws. "The look on that guy's face...oh, my body. Oh..."

"Dee! You're supposed to be helping me!" Varyar shifted his weight, holding Baroness fast against his shoulder while trying hard not to bump her head. "And seriously, Baroness, this will go a lot easier if you stop wiggling around."

"Put me down, then," she growled.

Her friend sighed again. "Not a chance, sweetheart. I have half a mind to dump you in a cold shower to chill the fuck out. You are going to your room, you are going to stay there, and you are going to rest. Killer will stay up with you for a while, and Vampy and Bio will take turns later, but you are done tonight. I understand you're tired, I understand you're upset that Baron ran off with some floozy, but you can't punch James Bond in the middle of RivalCon and not expect to get put in the time out box."

Dee, who to this point had been holding his sides with laughter, suddenly stopped. "Wait, what?"

"And goddamn it," Varyar snapped at the Baroness, "I said stop wiggling! You're going to make me drop you!" He felt her tense, and then she surprised him and stopped fighting.

The bell chimed as they reached their floor, and Varyar let out a sigh of relief at the thought that they were almost to the room. A silence overtook the elevator as they waited for the doors to open: Dee was quietly thinking over Varyar's last statement, Varyar was trying to shake the hum out of his ear where Baroness had been yelling, and Baroness was trying hard not to fall apart. The night she'd waited for for so long was turning into a disaster, and now she wouldn't even get to see it out.

"Stupid asshole spies," she mumbled quietly as she brushed a tear off onto Varyar's shirt.

*****

"Un-bloody-believable!" Bennett was fuming as he splashed cold water on his face, washing the trickle of blood that had jagged its way down his cheek. "These Americans and their damnable..."

Leaning casually against the wall with arms crossed, Hax grinned like the Cheshire Cat as he tried to contain his glee. "I warned you to leave her alone."

His colleague spat another mouthful of red water out in the sink as he tried to both staunch the flow and rinse the taste of iron out of his mouth. "You didn't tell me she was a nutter! She struck without warning!"

"Actually," Hax chuckled, "she gave you all the warning you needed in the form of a titanium band on her left ring finger. I can't pretend I feel badly for you."
Bennett glared at him in the mirror, but said nothing as he splashed his face one last time before shutting the faucets off. He dabbed the water off his face with a paper towel and started scrubbing at a few errant red drops on his shirt cuffs. "So why is Lucia here?"

Hax took a deep breath. It was bad enough that Bennett was at RivalCon, but his heart had stopped a moment when Lucia walked through the door earlier that evening. He'd fancied her once, a long time ago, but she had been the first to teach him that spies were deceitful by necessity – a deceitfulness which was difficult to switch off when the job was over, even with the ones they professed to care for. It was a lesson learned hard, but learned well, and ultimately a key factor in his decision not to join the SIS – even if they hadn't seemed to understand that decision. Hax didn't want to live a life filled with second guessing and figuring out ulterior motives, which is why running into acquaintances whose jobs were exactly to plant falsehoods and secretly manipulate events caused him much vexation. "She thinks she knows what happened to Baron von Gosu."

As he filled Bennett in on the details of his conversation with Bennett's counterpart, the spy's expression went from outrage to puzzled. "So they think von Gosu somehow got involved with foiling a number of spider attacks in the United States, and was kidnapped by a member of the terror organisation responsible for those attacks. Well, that confirms my theory from before about the Americans keeping things mum."

"Indeed. And apparently, the woman seen with Baron in the surveillance video matches a photo in the Americans' known terrorist database, which lends credence to the idea that his flight to Australia was not planned. Well, not by him, anyway."

Bennett thought on this some more. "Have you seen this video yet? We'll need to have our own team analyse it as well, as it appears that von Gosu's suspicious behaviour and the profusion of worldwide arachnid attacks are related."

Hax sighed. "No, not yet. Varyar has seen it, because Baroness showed it to him, and Lucia obviously saw as well as she pulled from her own sources. She said she would forward the clip down to us, but I swear this building has RF blocking. I've had shit for signal since we arrived."

"I'll text her." Bennett pulled out his mobile, scowling as the screen flashed something he'd never seen on any of the technical devices Q had signed out to him: an exclamation inside of a triangle, indicating no service. "Bugger all."

"I've got a few bars."

The third voice startled the two Brits as the door to the far stall slowly opened, and Hax's jaw dropped in astonishment as B. appeared. "I thought you checked your surroundings before chatting up international secrets?" B. asked.

"Erm..."

"How long have you been in there?" Bennett demanded, silently chiding himself for having been so careless.

B. shrugged. "Long enough to know you need some help and that you, Mr. Bennett, got what you deserved." He grinned. "Although you're lucky. Baroness hits hard, but my girl would've plugged you."

"Indeed." Bennett shook his head, trying to figure out how this man was able to slip past his attention, then got back to the task at hand. "You say your mobile does, in fact, get a bit of signal?"

"Yeah, we got that new Bippy Mobile plan. Works pretty well, so far," B. handed the phone over. "I don't know if you need a secret password or anything to let your friend know if it's you, but if what you said before was accurate, chances are good she has the number anyway."

"Very likely," Hax muttered with annoyance. "It seems anymore like more spies watching Rivalcast than they are terrorist organisations."

Just then, something clicked in Bennett's mind.

*****

Baron had been escorted to a windowless cell containing nothing save a chair. He couldn't be sure of how much time had passed – maybe a few minutes, but it felt like hours. At the beginning, it felt almost as if he were moving. He could hear faint noises on the other side of the wall, but nothing distinct – a bit of yelling here, an explosive grumble there, occasionally what sounded like a scream. What bothered him is that there seemed to be a pattern to it – a recording, perhaps? He couldn't tell without some benchmark for time. He tried counting off the seconds between the different sounds in the sequence, but the lack of clocks and windows was disorienting and eventually he gave up.

After some time – he'd lost count of how many times the pattern continued, and he was sure it was a pattern by this point – Baron's ears perked up as a change broke into the flow. A grinding sound inserted itself into the established sequence, and just as he turned his head toward the new sound, Baron was suddenly blinded by bright sunlight as the entire back wall of his cell dropped off.

The scene before him was surreal. There was a great expanse of beach, pristine white sands stretching off into the horizon. To his right, exquisite blue waters crashed onto the shore; to his left, a dense tree line bordered the sand like a dark fence. Dark, he noticed, except for a blob of white dangling in the breeze about fifty yards away. The scream sounded again, only this time it was clear, and close. Baron felt his stomach plummet as he realized where it was coming from.

"Aw, shit..." he grumbled as he broke into a run.

As he neared the blob, his suspicions were confirmed. Strands of red hair and bits of her skirt stuck to the thick webbing as the girl thrashed about, screaming as the giant spider inched ever closer. A spray of white goo shot from its jowls, adding to the cocoon that held the girl stuck fast. Searching frantically about, Baron saw a large branch on the ground and slowed just enough to scoop it up. Wielding it like a bat, Baron had barely enough time to adjust his grip before shouting "BATTER UP, SPIDER BITCH!" and swinging the branch with all his might.

His blow was dead-on, and the force with which he hit the arachnid was sufficient to keep him spinning for a moment after impact. It took a second for it to register in Baron's mind how odd it was to have heard a distinct metal clang when his weapon made contact, and out of the corner of his eye he saw what looked like a blue electric arc. But before he could think to turn around, a familiar voice he'd heard only in the movies reached his ear, cooing "Oh, Baron von Gosu! Thank God! You've saved me!"

Their eyes met, and for a moment, Baron's mind emptied itself of all thought. He could see now that she was tied up with spider web, her arms and legs spread out from her lithe body just barely covered in a dark green fabric. A small piece of almost strategically placed webbing kept her skirt from blowing up, but it was loose enough for the fabric to ripple in the ocean breeze. That, along with the red of her hair, stood out starkly from the gossamer backdrop on which she was ensnared. Her eyes wide, her lips pouty in that way that only movie stars can pull off, Baron was transported back to his college days when her face had graced the wall of his dorm room. His mouth felt dry, his mind blank, and in spite of it all Baron heard his voice coolly replying, "Miss Johansson."

Before she could reply, Baron heard another familiar voice coming from behind him, accompanied by a slow, patronizing clap.

*****

The small creature had been happy. For hours, it had scuttled about the soft ground in search of prey, climbing soft fabrics and jumping gently from furniture, its descent slowed by the silky strands it projected. Earlier it had snared a moth that had fallen, stunned by the small sun and dropped directly into the creature's web. The creature felt it was as if the spider heavens had opened, and Arachnos himself presented the small creature with a feast. Its appetite sated, the creature decided to clamber up the soft flat-topped mountain to rest among the puffy white clouds. It was a long walk for the creature, but thankfully the way was smooth.

Just as the creature reached the ridge before the cloud pile, two suns suddenly blasted their light into the creature's eyes. Startled, it ran under the ridge, taking cover just as a large earthquake bounced the creature off of the soft ground and smacked it off the top of the ridge pocket. It could hear some large creatures making sounds at one another. The creature dug its eight legs into the ground for a moment while it waited for any other shaking, then cautiously moved to peek out from under the ridge.

What it saw was beautiful.

The large creature that had landed on the soft flat-topped mountain was mainly a dazzling red color that shimmered a little in the soft light. It had a dark head and a large pink spot on its back that didn't shimmer like the red part, and it smelled faintly of daisies and lemons. Even from its hiding place under the ridge, the small creature could feel its warmth and vitality. Hypnotized, the small creature started to move forward.

The red creature sat up, and the small creature saw two more large creatures. One was a little beyond the small creature's range of vision, but the other one looked like what the small creature understood to be a bear. It was dark in color, and like the red creature had pink arms, but its head was fuzzier and its face covered with fur. The bear was saying something to the red creature, who waived it off and flopped back onto the cloud pile. Then the bear and the other creature left, the two suns went dark, and the room was quiet.

The small creature waited a few moments more, then crawled out of its hiding place to look at the red creature. Now turned around and bathed in moonlight, it could see the large creature also had pink spots on its front and face. It looked so peaceful resting there, its chest gently rising and falling in a hypnotic rhythm, the bluish glow of the moon giving the light parts of its skin a sort of eerie luminescence. Surely this creature was a gift from Arachnos.

In spite of its earlier feast, the small creature suddenly felt an overwhelming hunger.

Crap, what happened last time?
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