As Shoggoth dealt with Kilika, I was to find and deal with Ojau. He was one of the few men on the whole continent who was actually respected by the Queens. Most, apparently, were kept out of the cities to manage smaller settlements or told to keep watch over the Doorways. A precedent had been set that any male superhuman who even hinted at displeasure with his position was cut down viciously by his female cohorts. When the female supers who supported the Queendom system outnumbered the males five hundred to one, there was little a man could do other than die or know their place.
When he heard how it was here, Shoggoth made a crack that I would have probably fit right in, using and abusing the male population at my leisure. I smirked knowingly in response, but the truth was, I didn’t have anything against men. I just tended to constantly deal with the bad ones as part of my job, and as such I felt no particular guilt over weaponizing and killing them. Your average guy on the street I might make use of, but only if I had to. Even then, I wasn’t the sort to just use an innocent body until it was broken, then leave them for dead.
If I could possess women, I would do so just as readily. In fact, it would have made some of my missions far easier, not to mention would have allowed me to participate in far more battles. If I could have possessed Glorifica, even for just a few seconds…
Well. All things considered, it might have been for the best that I couldn’t. I doubted my power could have held her for long anyway, and there was no point in dwelling on “what if’s.”
Still, I suppose if I had been in South America when New Gondwana formed, I might have easily slipped into the role of the misandrist sadist. Some of the Queens made use of humanity’s innate tribalism to keep the underclass weak and divided. One Queen took her matriarchy all the way, enforcing the abject slavery of men to the women. Another made use of bitter racial conflict, and enacted a purge against all non-black Africans in her nation.
I like to think I would never have done anything like that, but no one really knows what they’re capable of until they’re put in such a situation. It had almost happened, too. I had been in Brazil just two weeks before the continents were shifted. Certainly, if I had ended up becoming a Queen, I would have made sure to horde all the males supers to myself.
But that was another timeline that I was glad to have not partaken in.
I snapped out of my musings on the subject as Strider teleported us into the basement of another apartment complex, leaving Shoggoth in the other one. She had also snatched up a local male. The lanky man’s eyes widened as he glanced about at his sudden change of scenery. I didn’t give him time to wonder why he was spontaneously surrounded by three women in a dark room.
There had been some migration between the two continents, so a Hispanic woman in the middle of Nairobi wouldn’t have been totally unusual, but it was better to be safe than sorry. Besides, I wanted whatever boost I could manage. I touched the man’s arm and possessed him.
Hmm, not the best pick, double durability and the ability to generate a cloaking mist from my body. I doubted any normal human I possessed would have anything useful against the likes of Ojau. His matter-erasure power worked against even Class 5’s and elementals, and he himself was a Class 4 in durability. Fortunately, I didn’t need to attack him, I just needed to get close to him.
Ojau was apparently the highest ranking male in the nation, if not the entire continent. No other male served as the right hand man to any Queen. Apparently, even a male who could depose a Queen would not be allowed to take her place, so he had settled for the next best thing. Considering his power was a natural compliment to Kilika’s, it made sense he would work under her as her General, of sorts. According to Strider, he liked to spend his time gambling, drinking, and fucking. His favorite facility for such things was right here in the city, a block from Kilika’s quarters. Kenyatta University’s main building had been converted into a brothel-casino, to better educate the citizenry on life’s basest pleasures.
I asked Strider if she used to be friends with the two, to know their habits and their city so well. She said she’d visited a few times. The first time had been out of curiosity; she’d traveled to every Queendom to see what the others had been like. The second and third time, she’d come to see Kilika to reluctantly make an alliance against the machinations of a rival Queen. Kilika had thought her cute. So had Ojau. All they asked for in exchange for help was a long night with her in Kilika’s tower.
I didn’t press for further details.
I exited a building directly across the street from the facility. People came and went, some of them obviously superhumans from the way they swaggered. A few made sure to demonstrate their power through some obvious effect, such as constantly hovering a foot off the ground or giving themselves fire for hair. Each of these were followed by a posse a human sycophants.
Others were normal humans hurrying to do some business or another, using the four lane street for pedestrian traffic. I saw no vehicles. Perhaps they were too difficult to maintain, or acquire fuel for, even in places where the water and power were functioning. Strider had said superhuman power kept the utilities running. Mostly this was due to special devices created by a man named Klok the Builder, but sometimes supers with elemental abilities assisted in the maintenance of the power and water grids. I guess they didn’t spare any of that for vehicles. Maybe they purposefully left them to rot so even the humans living in comparative urban luxury still had some of modern life’s conveniences denied them.
I blended in with the crowd. It was early morning, and one would think that people would be asleep, and the casino shut down, but the light of the Great Shield apparently threw people off track, and superhumans just operated on their own schedules. The casino-brothel was always open, with men and women available for the client’s choosing, and a number of gambling tables set up on the second floor.
Of course, Ojau had to be at the tables, so Strider couldn’t have just teleported him right to us. We could only be so lucky.
I made my way up through the entrance. The humans attending the doors asked for my entrance fee in English. I felt my pocket and pulled out a coin. I put my hand on the guy’s open palm and jumped into his body.
Oooh, now this was more like it. Triple strength, durability, and speed, plus the ability to extend my fingernails into razor sharp talons. Still useless against Ojau, but possessing one of his guards was better than a random pedestrian.
The man I had been possessing stayed stunned for a bit, then blinked. He looked around wildly. “W-what the hell?” he said. “How the hell did I get here?”
It was good that English was still an official language in former Kenya, but I hesitated to say anything, knowing my accent might give me away.
“You drunk or something?” said the guard to my left.
“What, no, I… uh… there were these women…” the man’s brow furrowed.
“One o’ the nobles messin’ with ya? Man, you’re lucky you’re still walkin’!”
The other guys at the door laughed, and I joined them.
“Well, you comin’ in or not?” said the guy to my left again.
I held up the coin I had effectively handed to myself. A 1-shilling piece. A guy to my left snorted. “That ain’t enough, man.”
I flipped the coin in the air towards the confused man and smirked. He caught it on instinct, looked at it as if even more confused, then turned and wandered off.
That had gone well. I turned around, shaking my head in amusement. I then grunted, and said, “Gotta piss.”
“Again? You just went five minutes ago.”
“Too much drink,” I grumbled, and kept going further inside. I heard the other guard mutter something, but ignored him.
I went towards where the signs indicated the bathrooms were, but once I took a glance back to make sure the other guards weren’t looking, I changed direction, and went up a large staircase. There wasn’t much of a crowd, just a few people coming and going. However, I could hear some rough laughter and some jeering towards the back.
A line of slot machines, powered down, formed a short hallway that led to an area with blackjack and craps tables. A crowd of about thirty were gathered around the backmost table. One man in particular, a huge, muscular, bearded man was rolling dice in his hand, and grinning. I had known already that he was a white man, but he was unusually pale even by Caucasian standards, which made him stand out quite starkly from the throng around him. He dressed in a well-kept, but old military uniform, Russian by the look of it.
He rolled his dice, and everyone watched attentively, even as eyes kept glancing over to watch his reaction. Everyone looked like they were ready to start running at any moment, or at least duck, save for a couple of women on either side of the table. Their relaxed postures and amused smiles told me they were likely also superhumans.
The dice rolled. Breaths were held. I saw the corner of Ojau’s mouth twitch down. The two women laughed, and their followers laughed nervously with them. The men behind Ojau gulped nervously. For a moment, the Annihilator looked like he had just smelled something vile, but the woman to his right gave him a punch on the arm.
“Ah, don’t look so sour,” she said. “You vaporize another table, were not playing with you no more.”
Ojau grunted, and waved. “Bah. Just not my morning.” Despite this realization, he put down some more chips.
“You say so,” said the other woman, picking up the dice.
I made my move. Coming up to the table, I leaned in to see the action. None of the supers paid me any mind, and the humans kept all their attention on the bosses. I came up slowly, nervously. If any of them looked up and noticed me, I would just say I had a message to deliver. I was one of the door men, after all.
I was almost at the table, when Ojau spoke up. Without looking at me, he spoke. “Is there a problem, Barasa?”
Having enhanced speed helped a bit, gave me an extra second to calculate that he was taking to me. I bowed a bit, and did my level best to mimic the local accent. “S-sorry, sir. There was an incident at the front door. Probably nothing, but I felt you should be informed.”
“I have my cell on me,” he said, tapping his uniform’s left breast pocket.
“Ah, of course, but—” I took a step forward and pretended to stumble. “Ah!” I uttered at my own feigned clumsiness.
I landed on the nearest man and jumped into him. In rapid succession, I had his hand touch the man next to him, and jumped, and touched the man next to him, and jumped, etc. In the space of a few seconds, I skipped through a dozen men, fast enough that my possessions barely even registered.
Barasa, the guard, stumbled back up to his feet as the man he’d landed on shoved him back. Ojau finally looked up and scowled at him. “What the hell is it?”
The two super women were staring as well, the one now on the left of me holding the dice poised in her hand.
“Uh…” said Barasa, shaking his head as he snapped out of his daze. “What? What?”
His eyes focused and went wide as he realized where he was.
Ojau glared at him. “I said what the hell is it?”
“Wh-what is… wh-what, sir?” said Barasa, genuinely confused.
I was now in the man right behind Ojau’s left shoulder. I reached out to touch his back, a split second too late to spare the poor guard. Ojau’s eyes suddenly flashed and Barasa was vaporized in an instant. The effect was almost too fast to follow. For a quarter second, the man’s body turned an ash grey, and then over the next second, it dissolved like smoke. There was a small wooshing sound as the air filled in the space left behind.
“Always was an idiot,” Ojau grumbled. Grimly, I knew the man’s sacrifice bought me an extra second, and probably stalled the discovery of something amiss happening. I touched Ojau’s back then and jumped into him.
God, why did I keep having to possess such powerful people? Ojau’s face grimaced as I strained to contain him. Doing a dozen jumps in a row to reach him probably hadn’t helped.
The man behind me shook his head, probably thinking he had just felt dizzy for a moment. He might have wondered why suddenly everyone, even the two women, were sweating bullets, and where the guard Barasa had suddenly gone off to, but he wasn’t about to open his mouth and risk his master’s attention.
I made a scowl, looked towards the large room’s entrance, and made an exasperated sigh. “I suppose I should go see what he was blathering about,” I said.
“Hey, you leavin’ the game?” said the woman with the dice.
“Like I said, not my morning.” I fought to make sure my movements weren’t too jerky as I struggled to maintain the possession. My entourage followed me out, nervous at first, but interested to see if some action was about to happen. Everyone else I passed by gave me a wide berth. When I went to the front door, the guards all stood at attention. I glowered at them.
“Pffft,” I said. “There’s nothing here.” I turned and waved my followers off. “I’m calling it quits for today. Go do whatever.” They all looked at me confused for a moment. “Need I repeat myself?”
They all sort of hesitantly parted, at once confused but also looking a bit relieved.
“Um, sir, where’s Barasa?” said one of the other guards.
I glowered at him and grumbled, “Taken care of.” They all flinched. I turned and strode confidently out the door.