Stories

Letters to the Rogue Isles


October 27, 2005

Dear Yoshito,

They're saying you broke out while Arachnos was busting up the Zig. I told them it couldn't be true, that you'd never do that. You ain't a super villain, I told them. You're a husband and corporate mogul and a former pro-wrestler, but not a villain. They showed me security tapes, though, and sure enough you're there getting on that barmy heliplane thing and flying out of there.

I told them it was absolute bilge. You didn't have any weapons! You were just following along with that guy in the fatigues and helmet. Who was he? Some other prisoner you bribed? Did Arachnos send him to bust you out or something? I guess it doesn't matter that much, though. They tried to tell me you were giving him orders, but I said there was no sound on the tape so we don't know what you were saying.

I'm saying you were kidnapped. That's gonna be the official story too. “Arachnos kidnaps AoD Corp owner from prison.” I've already got Mr. Laham working on the papers and news outlets. There's no way they're gonna paint you in a bad light!

Oh, why did you have to try to kill Holy? Why couldn't you have just stayed in jail? We'd have gotten you off eventually. Barry's the cat's pyjamas, Yosh! You know it, I know it. You'd have been back working in no time. God dammit.

I had to stop writing for a minute there. I got so choked up. I don't even know if this letter will even get to you. You know there's an embargo on the Rogue Isles. Nothing in or out. Mail too. I wish I could have e-mailed this to you, but I'm sure they're tapping our lines and can read anything I'd send. They've probably got keyloggers on our computers too. Arsenic says they don't, but I can't trust that tosser. So that's why I'm writing it out by hand too, since you were probably wondering.

I guess I'm going to have to pay someone to smuggle it in. But I ain't got a dab hand at this sort of stuff. The cloak and dagger was always your work. You left me out of it, which I was always chuffed about, but now I wish you hadn't. But I'll find someone to take this letter to you. I swear to god I will. You always said I was smarter than I looked or sounded, and I hope I am, because that's the only way I'm gonna be able to do this without getting caught.

Be safe. I'll keep the company warm for you until we can get this whole thing cleared up.

Love,

Your little “Miss Rude Girl” Kate


December 25, 2005

Dear Yoshito,

Merry Christmas! I know you don't celebrate it and all, at least not like the rest of us do, but I still love it. I hope you like the pictures I'm sending. They're your present this year. It's all I can manage right now. Hope they keep you warm at night, love. There's ten of them, so make sure the bloke didn't pinch any. And don't worry, I had Roboman take them and he was swearing he was going to delete his memory as soon as he finished because it made him “robo-sick.”

I hope you got my last letter. Will you write back? I hope you do. It won't be the same as talking to you, hearing your voice, holding your hand, smelling your cologne. I always hated that cologne, you know? I must have complained about it all the time, I'm sure. I'd give you a whole big bottle if I could.

Longbow's been bringing me reports on you, love. They're saying you're doing Arachnos's dirty work. Slotting people, things like that. They've got pictures of you with a bunch of mercs. How'd you hire them? I've been watching our secret accounts and you haven't touched any of them. Do you have some you kept on the QT even from me? I won't be mad if you do. All things considered, it's probably smart.

Barry's doing his best to keep the news from being published, though. Threatening to sue for slander and libel and all that if Longbow lets it get out there. I've also been pretty generous with the donations and help with them. Plus, there's always the threat of pulling the AoDoJ off the streets if things get too heavy.

I don't think they'd like that too much. They could handle it, of course, but Holy and the crew do bare good out there. It'd be a sticky wicket to replace them.

And yeah, you've probably heard, but Holy's still working for us. He's in charge of the AoDoJ, officially anyroad. It gives us an ace rep and keeps the heat off the corp for all the things you did. Makes it look like you acted alone, love.

But he's such a tosser. God, I just... I don't even know why I hate him so much. He's just like you, you know? He's got all your memories and looks almost exactly like you. The other day he surprised me when he mentioned something we did on our honeymoon. I tried to smile and be canny, but I think he must have seen through me. He knows me too well, just like you did.

I felt a little guilty. After all, he's your clone and you tried to kill him and I played his trouble and strife for a whole year. But still, he ain't you, Yosh. There's just something... off about him. Even when he does something exactly like you'd have done, I'm just always thinking...

I hope you're doing alright over there in the Isles. I can't imagine what it's like. It must be smeggy. Arsenic told me one of his “friends” is there with you, someone called Selenium. I wish I could ask Arsenic to give you this letter, but I know I can't. He likes taunting me about you too much. I'd kick his arse but he's too valuable to the company, even if he's a big girl's blouse sometimes. I know you wouldn't want him gone anyroad.

Love,

Your little “Miss Rude Girl” Kate


March 17, 2006

Dear Yoshito,

Have my letters been getting to you? Give me a sign! I just want to know that you know I still love you and wish you were here! Oh, I wish you were here so much! The last time I've wanted you with me so badly was back when I got my powers? Remember that? I know I told you about it a little bit, but with all the things going on at the time between you and Holy and then you getting arrested and all that mess...

I know you've heard the official story. We cooked up a good one and it was half true too. We were supposed to be giving a demo for the military of our Nictus Extraction device. I'm sure you remember, right? We were so happy when we got it to work without killing the host. Think of all the people we could save with it! And all the captured Galaxy soldiers we could split up, so their poor hosts could be tried without the alien inside them?

We were standing there, in front of the glass tube. We'd put one of the high ranking Council Galaxies inside. Archon Baumgardner. He was a nasty piece of work. He was struggling to get free from the restraints, yelling at us, threatening what the Center would do to us.

The tube was partly opaque. You couldn't see through it that well. Not at first, anyway. Vague shapes outside. I couldn't see them that well, but there were a lot of them. Watching to see what would happen. Then the light started to stream down from the emitters and the glass grew clearer. I'm not sure why it was doing that. Some weird effect of the particles on the properties of the glass, maybe.

I'm sure Arsenic could explain it to me, if I wanted him to. I wish he'd been there that day, but he wasn't. We had Dr. Roshi working on that project, not Arsenic. Arsenic probably would have stolen me for himself. It looked like it was going so well at first! The glass cleared up and we could see the tendrils of energy seeping out of Baumgardner's eyes and mouth and skin.

The military brass was impressed and said so. Wait and see, I said, wait and see. But something went all to cock; I still don't know what it was! Dr. Roshi only had a chance to yell out a warning before the whole thing exploded.

Oh, it was such a horrible explosion. Things went flying everywhere. Glass shards in every direction. Almost everyone was killed. I tried to get out of there, but I was too weak. I couldn't move that far. Baumgardner was dead. Maybe it was because the Nictus was too powerful. We'd never tried with an Archon-ranked one before. Just the pansy-arse ones. In too deep for it to work like we thought, but we wanted to impress the military so badly! It was almost comical that we thought it would work. They got what they deserved, really.

That's when I felt it, that little flutter of life. It's a strange thing to feel, the last gasps of the dying. Glass was in my chest and guts. Something heavy was laying across my legs, crushing them. I was cold, really cold, but conscious still. And I touched me and offered to get us out of there and I said yes! I was only thinking of seeing you again, love! But I said yes, god help me, I said yes.

I was able to teleport out from under the rubble after that. I was still hurt bad, but I wasn't dying any more. But I was still too weak. I couldn't take over, I couldn't control things. That damn device had done something too terrible to me. Scrambled my thoughts and tarnished my will.

If the military hadn't canceled their contract with us after that, I think I might have done it myself! Or begged you to get out of such a dirty business. I think you would have too, once I explained things. We weren't just freeing people from parasitic aliens, we were tearing out parts of them. That's why most of them died, Yosh. Imagine me ripping out half your hopes and dreams and strengths and then try to imagine surviving?

I never really thought about it much before now. But that's what it was. But you know what happened next. Holy found me wandering the halls of the lab, almost bled out. I told him to go back for the others, to find any survivors, to make sure that Baumgardner hadn't escaped. But he threw me over his shoulder and tanked it out of there with that super speed of his. Got me to the hospital too.

I didn't really figure out what had happened for a few days after. The Nictus inside Baumgardner was named Crepusculum. We couldn't very much reveal the truth to everyone. People don't care for human experimentation, even if it is for a good cause. The military wanted it hush-hush too. So the lie about the Warshade looking for Holy. I think even Holy bought it.

Oh, but this letter is getting so long! I had so much more to tell you too, but that can wait. Please write back! Someone can get the letter to me, I know it. It's so lonely without you.

Love,

Your little “Miss Rude Girl” Kate


July 16, 2006

Dear Yoshito,

I saw it! Lt. Tendaji brought me the reports. Thank god, I know you're getting my letters now, even if you can't get anything back to me. I tried to keep a straight face when he showed me what you've been up to and I think I fooled him too! “No idea,” I said! I think he bought it too, he's a bit sweet on me. Bleh, manky. I can use it though, he's pretty important in Longbow, so I can use him to keep the heat off you.

I really needed to see it too. It brightened my week, for sure. I've missed you so much. You've been gone for so long now. It's right chuffer, you know. Not just being without you, but everything else too. When you were here, you always did the negotiating with other businesses and all that. You let me just stand next to you, looking pretty.

Oh, I know what you'd say! I was much more than a pretty face with a low-cut top and my boobicles pushed up to make them look bigger so the old men you were dealing with would drool and stare. But I never had to say more than a few words and when I did, they were so distracted by my baps that they didn't notice. I always thought that was kinda funny, since if they looked out the window, they could see a dozen hero-girls dressed like slags flying by with zeppelins.

But now I've gotta wear a suit and try to look them face-to-face and do all the negotiating myself. And god, I know they can't take me seriously with that ridiculous accent. I can barely stand listening to it as it is. I've tried to change it a few times, but it never sticks... You always took the piss about it, but it wasn't bad when you did it, cause you told me how much you loved it too. But them, they don't say nothing to my face, but behind my back I know they're in bulk. I can't negotiate half as well as you could because of it.

I thought about asking Holy to come up and do it for me. He could, you know. He's got all your memories and acts just like you most of the time. And he's still got feelings for me, even though it skeeves me out. That's probably why I haven't done it. It'd be too much like me trying to replace you and I don't want to do that.

Everyone's telling me we should bin off. I'm telling them it's biz.

I heard you've opened up a “branch” of the company over in the Isles. Maybe one day we can make it official, love. I'm sure you're doing a much better job of it than I am here. You've probably already got half the villains in the Isles using AoD Corp merch for their crime sprees! Can't say I disapprove, since we can sell the shut-off codes to the heroes for a nice packet.

I also heard you got the Praetorian Count Justice and Virtue Knight working for you? I can barely imagine. If I couldn't blast them both through a wall, I wouldn't let myself be alone with them. But they keep saying I'm “Lord Sanders' wench” so they leave me alone anyroad. What other barmy stuff are you up to over there? I wish I could be with you.

I love you so much. Don't forget that, ever.

Love,

Your little “Miss Rude Girl” Kate


July 25, 2006

Dear Yoshito,

I know it hasn't been long since the last time I wrote you. You probably haven't even got the other letter yet! But something's happened.

You know, I've been doing hero work as part of the AoDoJ. You've had to have heard about it on the news at some point. Wait, I was doing it before you were arrested, so of course you know. You kept trying to get me to give it up. I wanted to, but you know I ain't gonna listen. Besides, it's more good publicity for the company! The CEO herself is out there fighting crime! AoD Corp can't be bad.

I know a lot of Warshades do the whole squid-thing. You might like that, you sick Japanese perve! But I've never done it. I feel like I'd be given too much of myself up to the Nictus to do it. A few others I've met said it doesn't work like that and gave me some funny looks when I said it, but they've only got those pathetic traitor Warshades inside them instead of real Nictii. The Warshades simply don't want to admit to themselves or others that it works exactly like that. It works exactly like that with the “Peacebringers” too. Why do you think splitting Kheldian from Host is so dangerous? Because we've become intertwined.

But I guess it doesn't matter too much anyroad, cause some of the power has started leaking out from me. You know how when I'd normally use my powers, I got those glowy eye bits? Looked like the dark energy was just leaking out of me. Well, now it's doing that all the time. And not just around my eyes, either. My entire head's like that. One big purple flame almost. You'd say it looks fetching, I know. You always loved me in black and purple.

It just freaks out most people though. They think I'm some sort of monster or something. I know AoD Corp lost at least one big pharmaceutical client because of it. The poor guy looked like he'd pap himself at any moment.

Arsenic's made me some special glasses though. They hold the power in, he says. When I put them on, I look like a total neek. Plus, whatever they're made out of is tinted pink too! Pink! It looks so goofy, but I gotta put them on.

He thinks that it's the Nictus trying to escape me. Yes, he knows! I don't know how he figured out the story wasn't the truth, but he knows I'm a Nictus and not a Warshade. And escape? That's idiotic. What's there to escape from? I'm the CEO of one of the largest companies in the world. I've got more power than those idiots Requiem and Arakhan have put together and I can use it all out in the open. He who dreams of conquering the world and has nothing is the joke to he who has actually claimed a part.

It looks like my poetic declarations of ego are a little rusty. Well, you don't get much chance to use them when you're playing hero.

As always, my love, I hope this letter gets to you safely. I love you, forever and always.

Love,

Your little “Miss Rude Girl” Kate


August 23, 2006

Dear Yoshito,

Things have been getting better here. Barry says he's close to getting you off for all your crimes. It all depends on Holy, really. If Holy changes his story, you might win an appeal. I think he might. You know how he feels about me. I've been telling him no, no, no, but he keeps reminding me of the night you were arrested. I tell him that was a huge mistake, but he won't listen. He's as stubborn as you, you know? Still, I think maybe I can get him to change things, just maybe.

And the public still thinks you were kidnapped by Arachnos. You're smart to use those mercs instead of grabbing a gun and trying to do things yourself. Plausible deniability, even if you are using AoD Corp force field tech to help you out.

I know I was sick as a parrot the last couple of letters, but not any more.

I had a weird dream the other night. I was out patrolling and I found an old Council base. I went in to investigate, but it looked like it'd been abandoned. There was no power, the computers were all busted up, files littered the floors. But for some reason I just kept going in deeper.

It felt so familiar to me. Like I'd been there before. I know, a lot of Council bases look the same. We used several generic layouts to make transfers between stations easier. But this one wasn't just “look the same.” It was like I had been there dozens of times. Hundreds of times.

After a while, I recognized it as the base Holy where caught Archon Baumgardner. It used to be his base, the one the Council put him in charge of. After Holy cleared it out, I guess the Council came in, recovered what they could, and trashed the rest. The toby jugs never did know how to properly reuse damaged assets.

I found an old locker full of uniforms. None of them will fit me now, of course. They're made for men. I took a few anyway. I'll send you one, just for laughs. I always used to wonder why Arakhn would choose to inhabit the body of a woman. Women are so much weaker, physically, than me. Less body mass, less musculature, hormones that aren't well suited for encouraging rage and power. Plus, jam week every month. It always seemed a silly thing and I suppose most other Nictii think the same as I did, since the majority take male hosts.

But there are advantages to it, I've found out. They're subtle and, really, most of the strength of Kheldians doesn't come from physical brute force.

I hope I can see you soon. Forever and always.

Love,

Your little “Miss Rude Girl” Kate


September 8, 2006

Dear Yoshito,

I'm sure you've had this happen, where you wake up with bruises and cuts all over. Hell, I've had it before too! Back when we were wrestlers. Remember that? Back before either of us ever thought about being super heroes, back before the Rikti came, back before we were stinking? Just you and me on the road every night, banging our bodies in the ring.

It was rough but damn, it was good times. We were closer then than we've ever been, I think. Even when we weren't tonking each other. Who was that barmy yo-yo knickers you were dating before me? Wonder what happened to her? Oh well, not important, really!

But like I said, I woke up with cuts and bruises. Not bleeding cuts, but ones that had healed up some. I normally don't get that too bad, since I can drain the bad guys and heal myself. But still, after a few knock down, drag outs, I've looked like this. You'd spit tacks to see me! I know Holy was, worried all to hell about it. He kept thinking it was his fault, but it wasn't, the silly tosser. I told him it was from a patrol.

Thing is, I didn't go out patrolling last night. Or the night before, or before that. Too much business work. Things are picking up with the corp. I've got my accent under control when I'm negotiating, at least some. Just enough to still sound like they can take advantage of me without sounding like I'm some Leeds chav.

Sorry, got off topic again. See, I must have fought someone, but I don't remember. A blow to the head, maybe? I had the docs check me out and they said except for the boo-boos, I was fine. My loaf isn't cracked or anything. I didn't tell them I couldn't remember fighting anything, just that I was having some headaches.

And I sure didn't tell them I found a torn up Council uniform next to my bed. It had rips all over. You know those crazy pin-ups that comic artists do with a sex on a stick with only shreds of clothes left? It was like that. And it was made for a woman. One my size too. I asked around the group but no one seemed to have any clue about it. I didn't tell them where I found it. I think Arsenic might know something, but you can't read him behind that damn gasmask.

I put the hurt out on some Council too. Tried to find out if any of them knew anything. But none were talking. I put bare hurt on some, but they didn't crack. I don't think they know anything. I tried a bunch of my old connections too, but nothing. A few even looked into restricted Council files for me, but I was still listed as “deceased” in their records.

I guess they might have something up their sleeve. Who knows with Requiem and Arakhn? Could even be the Center with his fingers in something. I don't want any part of it and if I can figure out what they're up to, I'll put a stop to it.

If you pick up anything in the Isles that might help me, please let me know. I will appreciate it.

As always, I love you dearly. I miss you every day. Soon you might be able to come back to me! Oh, how I hope you will.

Love,

Your little “Miss Rude Girl” Kate


September 17, 2006

Dear Yoshito,

I have to get out of Paragon City. I don't know what's happening to me, but... I have to get out! I woke up in a Council base last night. There were Council soldiers all around me and they didn't pay me a second thought! I was bricking it, I thought I'd been captured by them.

Who knew what they might have been planning on doing? But I was able to walk out and leave. I was in a deserted part of Paragon. I walked until I found a road with cars going down it. I could have teleported back, but I didn't think of it. Why didn't I think of it? I don't know.

I tried to flag some people down, but even if they started to stop, once they got close they sped off. It was because I was wearing a Council uniform, of course, but I hadn't noticed it. I didn't notice until a group of young heroes showed up to stop me from... whatever it was they thought I was doing.

I had to hurt them, which I am sorry for.

I'm not leaving because I am afraid of the law. Mr. Laham says his efforts to get an appeal for you are being stonewalled. Apparently Longbow and the Freedom Phalanx are taking a hard line against it. They say you fought with some of the Vindicators? That's crazy! What are you doing, having arms with people like that? You belong in your office again, not out on the streets rucking those tossers.

But they're starting to lean on me, heavy. I'm sure this will be the last letter I'll be able to write to you in a while. Longbow is spying on me, I just know it. I've been telling them I don't have any contact with you. Which is true, to a point, but I've been writing. They'll probably put pressure on the courier I've been using, once they find out who he is. I've no doubt he's read the letters before he delivers them. He's never said anything about it, but I know the type. You've met him, I'm sure. You feel the same way I do, surely.

I'm going to pull AoD Corp out of Paragon City for now. I know how much you must hate that! But I have to! People will say we're giving up to Crey. But we're not, I promise! I have to get somewhere Longbow is less ubiquitous. Somewhere the Council isn't so entrenched.

I'm thinking it will be New York. You'll probably hear the announcement on the news before you get this letter. I hope you're not too angry with me. I'm not doing it to ruin your company. I know it's selfish of me, but I am going crazy here. Every step I take I feel like I'm going to crack.

There's always been a voice in my head, but it was always my own. Now it's still mine but it's not any more. I don't know what that means but I will as soon as I can get some time to sort things out. This isn't how it normally works. I was so weak when I merged. Everything is all ballsed-up.

The AoDoJ will go too. There's plenty of crime in New York. Super powered crime too. We can clean it up there, where they have a lot less heroes than Paragon. I bet we can even spin the publicity positively! Imagine, the AoDoJ heads to clean up New York with no expectation of compensation! We'll all be big damn heroes.

Once I find someone in NY I can trust, I'll write again. I promise! I love you, Yosh, from the bottom of my heart. A decade ago, I never thought I'd be saying that sort of thing. But that was before I found me. Please never forget how much I love you and how much I miss you so badly. I wish you were back.

Love,

Your little “Miss Rude Girl” Kate


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