Breed Book 4, Part 04

Four

They were on their fourth speaker, each taking turns standing on a bench, passing the same tinny bullhorn around. Mayumi subtly adjusted the shape of her ear to better filter out the feedback from it, and was hearing about every third word.

She was feeling more zen than she had thought, standing in a cage made of men holding riot shields. She hated them, but not because she’d been brutalized by a cop, not because she’d fought men dressed just like them in a dozen countries or more, but because of the way they glared at her, at all of them, unable to take the criticism implicit in their presence at this protest. She had seen often enough that fragility like that never dissipated like you’d assume; it festered, growing resentment and anger as byproducts. She hated knowing she could solve the problem of overpolicing this afternoon by echoing their violence, but that it would only make everything worse.

And she hated all of the little tweaks she could make to her body, because it meant that she was always on alert. So she saw it, the twitch in the officer as he received new instructions over his earpiece, the itch he scratched as he flicked the clasp off his pepper spray and started advancing. But he didn’t walk straight, which would have put him directly in contention with the speaker, who was being filmed from a dozen different angles. No, he singled out a black man, and his daughter, not even paying attention to his approach, too enraptured in the speaker and their soaring, peaceful rhetoric. Mayumi stepped between them, and tried to put her sweetest, most innocent smile on her face. “Is there a problem, officer?” she asked, fighting every instinct she had to end the problem herself.

“You need to get back behind the line,” he said, his finger tapping on the button at the top of his pepper spray canister as he slid it out of his belt.

“How about you return to your line, I’ll return to mine.”

“Bitch, I’m not negotiating.” He was moving through molasses, so sluggish and predictable she saw a dozen openings in the first second to kill him, but instead, she put up her hands, and went limp as he kicked her knees out from under her. He pepper sprayed her directly in the eyes; she told her pain receptors to disconnect, but it wasn’t instantaneous, which meant all of her enhanced senses hit her at the same time. It was disorienting, but not enough to make her fall. She was done falling down for men like him. He sprayed her a second time, and knew the smart play was to crumple, to ball up, because there was no way this pig wasn’t going to start kicking her next. But she was done falling on her hands and knees for people like him, too.

“I’m done fucking with you,” he said. Mayumi couldn’t see, but she’d heard enough button catches on leather gun holsters to know he released it, could probably even have guessed the make of the gun from the sound of it sliding free. She knew she could take it, while the people behind her couldn’t, so she forced herself to her full height, took in a deep breath and puffed out her chest, to give the asshole as big a target as she could.

He fired, and she felt the bullet impact her in the face, though it was a moment before her pain receptors could break through the haze of it all to tell her where. She felt blood rushing from a wound, no, not blood, wrong viscosity, though there was definitely blood mixing into it, replacing it even as all of the aqueous humor left her deflating eye. The cop grabbed her arm and twisted until it should have broken, and forced her to the ground, with his knee to the back of her neck. Mayumi could make out the sound of more boots coming from the police line. Someone shoved her attacker off her neck. “Jesus, man, that’s how- you can’t do that, not today.” He keyed his radio, and began to talking into it. “Dispatch, we’re going to need an ambo at-” he stopped. “Christ, her eye. It’s growing back. She’s one of those, those animals.” He zip-tied her hands together, then the two of them lifted her up off the ground, and carried her towards the police line.

Breed Book 4, Part 03

Three

“I feel like the Lone Ranger in this thing,” Iago said, fiddling with his mask as the followed they flow of marchers. “But not, you know, from the crappy movie. Want to be my Trigger?” he asked, slapping Drake on the shoulder.

“Dude,” Drake said, “we are both too white for you to say anything like that right now. And we just got done having a conversation about how you were uncomfortable being treated like a bike. Why would you want me to be your horse?”

“It wasn’t like I was going to ride you, or anything.”

“That wasn’t very convincing,” Demi said over his shoulder.

Mikaela took a breath to center herself, fighting the urge to tell them to be quiet. They were all anxious, hers just manifested in an overwhelming urge to mother her friends. “Hard not to rain on their parade,” Tucker said, smiling at her. “I’m not prying, you’re just very predictable. And fairly stiff. But a protest doesn’t have to be a wake, even one protesting a wrongful death. It’s also a celebration, of our friends, of our lives, of the fact that we’ve found so many other people who think and feel like we do, of the justice we’re all willing to risk ourselves to bring about. There’s beauty in today, even if we’re here for the ugliest of reasons. It’s okay to find some joy in it, too. And to let go. They look up to you, us, I suppose; but you don’t have to be on all the time, and you don’t have to be more than who you are, either. It’s okay just to be you, today. That’s already a lot of weight to carry.” Mikaela gave her a side eye. “I didn’t mean it like that. I am not a body-shamer- not that I’m saying there’s anything to shame you about.”

“Okay, you’re starting to make it weird.”

“Yeah. Sorry. We’re kind of a mine field, which is funny, today; I’m way more worried about the emotional mine field of our relationship than the potential battlefield we’re marching into.”

“Well, yeah. I can be everywhere at once. I think Mayumi could survive a nuclear bomb, you can make people unconscious just by being cross at them, and Demi could fry, well, everyone, so far as I know.”

“And Iago’s got that ice dick thing he’s so oddly proud of.”

“Which I’m sure we’ll find a use for, some day. And Drake can teleport, which… means he could run away really well.”

“I heard that,” Drake said.

“I wasn’t trying to talk so you couldn’t,” Mikaela said. “But you have a point: we can handle ourselves pretty well, out here. But,” she gave an exaggerated glance to a woman walking to the side of her.

“Yeah, just because we can, doesn’t mean we should. The last thing the world needs is to see a gang of Breed drop a sixty foot ice dick on some cop.”

“I mentioned that precisely once,” Iago groaned, “while a little drunk. One time. Are you ever going to lay off?” 

“Absolutely,” Tucker said. “The very second any one of us says or does something at least as stupid.”

“Though the smart money is that will be you again,” Mikaela said, “so we’ll just be bagging on you for something different.”

“Oh, man. How did I become this group’s butt monkey?”

“It’s because you can handle it,” Drake said, patting his shoulder. “And bagging on you makes the rest of us feel closer.”

“And because you grew up as my little brother,” Tucker said, “you don’t feel accepted until you’ve had someone talk crap about you.”

“Okay, therapy’s over,” Iago said, putting up his hands. “I want all of you quacks out of my head.”

“I like it when he’s bossy,” Demi said. 

“So do we know where this thing is headed?” Drake asked.

“There’s a kind of method to the madness, I think,” Mikaela said, turning her phone in her hand to better understand the map on it. “But yeah; one of the groups organizers suggested the route we’re on. Good visibility without getting too close to hospitals where you might clog up emergency services, that kind of thing.”

“I thought the whole point was to be disruptive,” Iago said.

“That explains so much about the last twenty years,” Tucker said.

“You kind of spent an entire afternoon crafting the perfect crème pie, only to sit in it;” Demi said, wincing for emphasis. “That was like 90% self-inflicted.”

“But Santiago’s not wrong, either,” Mikaela said. “We are here to be disruptive. To make noise. To be heard. To show that there are real people effected, communities hurt, not just bodies they can bury and move on from. But there’s a balance, too. You don’t want to disrupt hospitals- especially children’s hospitals, cause that disrupts care and freaks the kids out- even if we weren’t in the middle of a pandemic.”

“And there’s the other thing,” Demi said.

“The other thing?” Mikaela asked.

“Fuck. I was hoping I could prompt you, so I wouldn’t have to say it.”

“I’m not saying this to relish your anguish- though I am totally relishing your anguish- but I have no earthly idea what you’re talking about.”

“Okay, then, as your apparent ambassador to whiteness, because I know I’m more privileged than two white-passing dudes or even a totally passing white trans man, a protest can’t fuck things up for the residents too much. White people, as a rule, want to be nice, good, and on the right side of history. But if you inconvenience them any more than a tiny little bit, you risk the whole angry Karen army mobilizing to call the city’s manager. And I’m not saying that because I think we should be beholden to them, but every aspect of this is way easier if we can get them and keep them on our side. What was that MLK quote?” “His greatest obstacle wasn’t the racists,” Mayumi said, “but the moderates who sat on their hands.”

Breed Book 4, Part 02

Caveat Two: These novels usually bounce back and forth between the Breed at the school and Rox’s runaways, but I don’t have an outline, or even a solid idea of what their B story is; right now, this is the immediate story I feel compelled to tell, so I’m going to stick with it. Probably means the final draft will be wildly different.         

Two

“This roadtrip felt right,” Demi said through her hand-sewn cloth mask. “Obviously, not the reason we’re on it, but being back together again, all of us, not just hanging out on web cam or face time; I was actually starting to pine for classes, I’ve been getting so stir-crazy.”

“We missed you, too,” Mayumi said. “Though I still feel ridiculous in this mask,” she adjusted it over her nose.

“Oh, hush, I sewed it for you, and it looks adorable. Besides, it’s more a solidarity thing. We can’t all just tell our bodies to karate chop the coronavirus. It shows other people, especially vulnerable people, that you’re safe, that you care about their safety even if you’re not worried about your own.”

“You might be the first person to ever accuse me of being ‘safe.’”

“Well, sure, you’re still the deadly murder pixie you were trained to be, but now with more empathy, free will, and a superior fashion sense.”

“I still would have preferred to wear my underwear mask,” Iago muttered, futzing with his own mask. “Not that I don’t appreciate the gesture.”

“One, those were not your underwear,” Tucker started, counting on his fingers. “Two, I’m pretty sure them being lacy would make them a lot less useful at filtering out disease.”

“Please tell me they weren’t yours,” Drake said.

“Ew,” Tucker said, wrinkling his nose. “No. For one, depraved as my brother is, I hope he wouldn’t put my underthings on his face, even fresh from the wash. And when I became a man, I put away lacy underthings.”

Became a man?”

“I was paraphrasing.”

“Corinthians?”

“That where that’s from? You know what I meant. And I’m surprised you of all people recognized Corinthians.”

“You don’t become that militant an atheist without getting personally burnt by religion,” Demi said. “Though on the other hand, who amongst us hasn’t been personally burned by religion?”

“Fair,” Tucker said. “And  I mean, I can still rock a lace thong, it’s just… it’s not the me I want to be.”

“Hmm,” Drake said, and frowned.

“You’re picturing me rocking a lace thong.”

“No poking around in my upstairs.”

“I wasn’t, I just recognize the look on a straight-ish guy’s face when he’s mentally poking around in my downstairs- and wondering if that’s ‘okay.’”

“And is it?”

“It’s a free country,” Tucker shrugged.

“Unlike your brother, I bet you would pull them off.”

“There’s a story there I’m not going to want to hear, isn’t there?”

“Ironically, he also had trouble pulling them off once he got them on- not that anyone asked for him to do that in the first place. Either ‘that.’”

“My butt cheeks clenched around them like a vice,” Iago said, a little too loudly. “Like when you’re flossing and there’s two teeth extra close together and you kind of fray the floss even getting it between them-“

“I may never floss again,” Mikaela said.

“You can probably just get by with your waterpick,” Tucker replied. 

“I could feel my testicles atrophying from lack of circulation. I thought for a moment they were going to have to cut me out of them with the jaws of life.”

“Or a pair of scissors. Really any moderately sharp knife would probably do it, too.”

“We really needed this,” Demi said.

“A walk in the brisk Seattle air?” Mikaela asked, trying to stifle a shiver.

“No. For our pack of gross weirdos to get a chance to get most of our gross weirdness out of our systems. Cause this is going to be a mostly somber affair, and probably most people wouldn’t have the same, um, appreciation of a discussion of Iago’s choice of lingerie, or his atrophying balls.”

“Had the devil of a time getting everything in them in the first place, then the atomicest of wedgies happened… I know there’s two in there, but I usually still kind of think of them as one unit, but in that thong, they were very separate.”

“Well, from the sounds of it they were women’s underwear, literally designed to accommodate neither twig nor berries.”

“There’s a fruit of the loom joke in there, but this conversation’s already spent too long rooting around in my underwear.”

New Blog, New Book: Breed 4, part 01

Okay, so parts of the world are literally on fire right now, and apparently, that has not been an environment in which I creatively thrive. So I’m a book behind in all this madness on Breed, and the fourth book is essentially happening right now- and I feel like I need to be working on it right now. I don’t have much to give, but what I can do is try to keep up on this, now, maybe entertain some of you, maybe just make some of you feel less alone with this moment than you do now. Daily chapters is the goal, in solidarity with those doing the hard and necessary work of protesting, until my spirit or my fingers break. And I’m going to make sure we catch up on any remaining posting, here, too.

I guess, the important thing you need to know is the missing third book is all about kids in cages (seriously, fuck Trump and every asshole who’s enabled/ling this quagmire). If you’re new to the series, or me, hi, the Breed are an attempt at a modern, relatively real-world, representative X-Men, where the kids are also dealing with all of the non-metaphorical real-world bigotries while trying to learn how to use their fantastic abilities to craft a better world. Quick caveat: the school is in the Pacific Northwest, so the events take place in Seattle, even if they’re more of a composite of issues nationwide.  

One

“This time feels different,” Drake said, scrolling through his phone in the back seat. “I mean, there’s brands who’ve never shared any political opinions more controversial than about killing off Mr. Peanut sharing the BreedLivesMatter tag, BlackLivesMatter, the whole Magilla.”

“And I sense a butt, besides your boney one digging into my thighs,” Demi said.

“Don’t be a sore loser just because I won the coin toss.”

“Who says I lost? Maybe I like a sharp butt.”

“To answer the question, it feels… good. Like maybe things could change, and for the better. And that’s just waving a big red flag in front of the raging bull that is our chaotic universe.”  

“Last time we were here in Seattle, the cops marched in solidarity with us,” Mikaela said from the passenger seat in the front.

“They also got shot at, for that solidarity,” Tucker said from behind the wheel. “And I think Drake’s right. This time is different. And I don’t think all those differences will fall in our favor.”

“This a psychic thing?” Iago asked, grinning wide.

“Telepaths aren’t- we read thoughts, not the future.”

“He knows, Tuck,” Demi said, rolling her eyes. “Your brother’s fucking with you. Carful of eligible ladies, and he only wants to Luke your Leia.”

“I hate you,” Iago said.

“We all hate her for that, a little,” Mikaela said. “Though I’d hardly call you and Mayumi back there a carful.”

“I thought you batted for both teams.”

“I wouldn’t pinch-hit him with somebody else’s wood.”

“Cause you and Tuck used to, ahem.”

“Oh, my God, I’m going to drive us off the next cliff I see,” Tucker muttered.

“Partially, yes. It would be a lot like stealing someone else’s bike that was the same model as your lost one… similar enough to feel weird, but still not quite right. either.”

“I’m getting a little uncomfortable with the discussion of ‘riding me like a bike,’” Iago said.

“I don’t know, you look like you could handle some rough back roads to me,” Demi said.  

“But to encourage you to dismount, I think it has way more to do with the fact that Mikaela was into Tucker when my brother was still my sister. I mean, I can’t tell you how many movies I had to try to just ignore the awkward lesbian pawing through.”

“You could have just not watched movies with them,” Demi offered.

“You have no idea how many times we suggested that,” Tuck said.

“Yeah, but my parents wouldn’t let me watch PG-13 movies on my own, and I was already spending what in retrospect was probably a little too much time masturbating as it was. Besides, it prepared me for a couple years down the road when all of my friends were doing the same. Puberty might be necessary, and whatever, but it is gross and sticky, and I still can’t account for all of the stains.”

“I feel like I probably deserve this comeuppance,” Demi said, “but I still don’t have to like it.”

“You should just be thankful you’re on that side of the car. This side, one of the stains never seems to actually dry. It’s not so moist it’ll leave a spot on my jeans, but to the touch?”

“I don’t want to know what you did in my backseat, do I?”

“Please,” Drake put up his hands, “nobody touch that with a ten foot pole.”

“I mean, ten feet is generous, but I appreciate the vote of confidence,” Iago said with a laugh.

“I hate to bring anybody down, but, what’s the plan?” Mayumi asked. “Because trouble has a history of finding us, and I don’t like the idea of improvising on the spot.”

“Oh, shit,” Mikaela said. “I guess it hasn’t been that long since you got attacked at the school. I didn’t even… sorry.”

“It’s okay. And, that feels like a lifetime ago. I’m not the same person. But that’s why I want to know what to do. If things happen. What’s our plan?”

“Our plan is peaceful protest. There’s a lot of people just waiting for an excuse, to call us animals, to call us inhuman, or worse. So we don’t give them a reason- we use force in the only circumstances it should be okay for cops to: to save our lives or someone else’s. And even then, minimum necessary force to get the job done. Just because Iago can instantly build a sixty-story ice phallus and drop it on someone’s head, doesn’t mean he needs to to subdue them.”

“I didn’t say I could, just that I thought I’d figured out a theoretical way to. And it doesn’t have to be a penis.”

“You said ice dick. And it is way past too late for any of us to unlearn that you’re a jackass. Just embrace who you really are. But does that clear things up, Mai?”

“It does. But, if anything does happen, I’d still suggest you get behind me.”

“I’m not sure how I feel about using you as a four foot tall meat shield.”

“We all have our strengths. Maybe someday we’ll really need a giant ice dick.”

“We’re here,” Tucker said, putting the car into park and then removing the keys from the ignition.

“Before we get out,” Mikaela started, “we could be walking into a firestorm. This could be the last quiet, contemplative moment we get and, I’d like to just spend a moment remembering Greg Lloyd. I think we all felt that officer’s knee in our necks, watching the video. He was one of us, and he didn’t deserve to die like that in the street.”