Johnny Faa – River City

“A situation, huh?” David said, standing up and kicking what was left of his meal away, “Let me guess, the brilliant strategy of putting the immortal rage machine under the supervision of people he absolutely despises didn’t go so well?”
“I’m afraid it’s a lot more than that,” Tate shoved his hands in his pockets and heaved a sigh, “We’re in a bit of trouble, here.”
David knew he could trust the General on this one. The way he said “trouble” and his disheveled state was enough to convince him.
“What kind of trouble, Professor Hill?”
“We can’t control him,” Tate continued running a hand through his uncharacteristic patch of hair, “Not even with the guns anymore. He just… he just keeps coming at us. We tried, we really did… but he won’t listen to anyone.”
“Except me, right?”
“Yes… in a way.”
“Pardon?” David gave a stretch, trying to get the blood flowing to his limbs again.
“We need Johnny, and we’re sure you can probably get through to him… but that’s not what the real threat is. He’s destructive, obnoxious, the whole nine yards… but we can always control that. He’s locked up, and we won’t run out of bullets, even if he won’t give up running at us like he used to. It’s the strangest thing, he used to get bored so easy, I’ve never seen him focused like this…”
“That’s because he has a friend…” David began, then remembered that he was still angry at the General and added, “dumbass.”
“Yes, I believe that may be why we’re having so much trouble.”
“Enough with the ‘trouble,’ already,” David groaned, “just tell me what’s going on!”
General Tate leaned against a wall, looking quite distraught.
“We tried sending a few into the rift, in hopes of proving Mr. Faa to be… obsolete. Their minds… they couldn’t take it. It seems Johnny has a unique… perspective on the way he perceives the world, and that had served as a buffer when he entered the fifth dimension. At least, that’s what the bean counters told me.”
“So a couple of your mooks went nuts,” David took a step forward, challenging the General, “why is that my problem?”
“It wasn’t that they were lost, David… it was who we lost. Agents Poulmore, Jackson, Bairstow…”
“I’m gonna need first names,” David shot back, “We didn’t use last names in the office. It was considered bad for morale or some goose-shit.”
“Caden, Ashlynn, Aubrianna, and Xanderius. Poulmore, Jackson, Bairstow, and Clark. Some of our youngest–”
“And some of your biggest burnouts, frankly,” David sniffed, “no wonder they broke.”
“David, please, some decorum–”
“Why?!” he shouted back, “Why should I have to be nice to those pricks? They looked down on me from the day I got here, and they treated Johnny like he was a freak. They were all so wrapped up in themselves and their little scientist clubhouse that their Mommies and Daddies bought for them, and it’s no surprise that their heads were so far up their own asses that they couldn’t handle the new dimension. They probably couldn’t handle anything that made them seem insignificant, small, not special. It’s a hard fucking lesson to learn, but we all have to do it sometime… I just hope the rest of them learned from their ‘friends’ mistakes.”
“And that’s why I’m here.”
Tate stood back up to his full height, imposing and impressive.
“They took it out on Johnny. All of them. They didn’t like the idea that this person got to live forever, got to have everything and appeared to be wasting it. I’ve got their psych files in my office if you need to look at them.”
“I bet I can sum it up real fuckin’ fast: wah wah wah, he’s special and we’re not, wah wah we deserve the shiny toy instead.”
Despite everything, Tate found himself fighting a smile at the corner of his lips.
“And that’s why we need you, David. Without Johnny, we won’t be able to… well… to mount a defense.”
“A defense? What the hell do you mean?”
“Those that are left: Adorra, Melissa, Braden, Madison, Jalen and Brogan,” he counted them off on his fingers from memory, “They’ve staged a coup.”
“In the middle of a top secret government lab? Bullshit.”
“I’m telling the truth, David. They’ve locked themselves in the room with the rift. They’re threatening to turn it in on itself and cause a dimensional paradox if we don’t hand Johnny over to them.”
“Hold up, hold up… you’re the government, why don’t you just nuke the whole place?” David asked.
“My superiors don’t think the situation is that dire. They would like to preserve what gains we have made, as it would be considered financially more feasible to wait them out. They don’t take their threat as legitimate…” the General paused a bit before asking, a little worriedly, “is it?”
“Yeah,” David nodded, “It’s not that hard to break shit. It’s a lot harder to put it together. Figures those mental midgets would have just enough in them to figure out how to fuck it all up.”
“So we need Johnny,” Tate began to tuck in his shirt, feeling more General-ish, “And you’re the one who can make it happen.”
“I suppose I’ve got no choice,” David shrugged. He moved to the exit, but stopped a few steps before.
“Or… maybe I do.”
“David… what are you saying…”
“I dunno,” David scratched at a patchy stubble on his chin, “Maybe I’d rather the universe be destroyed. Maybe, if dicks like your superiors are in charge, morons who can’t see five feet in front of their face when they’re looking down a fucking gun barrel… maybe it’s best if the whole thing just goes up in metaphorical flames. Just whoosh, blinked out of existence, absorbed into another dimension, a cute little relic on a shelf somewhere… maybe that’s not so bad. This place is so god damned fucked up… maybe I’d like to see it gone.”
“David, you can’t mean that…”
“And you’re just as bad as the rest of them, Tate!” David turned on the General, lambasting him, “I really did think you had a brain in your head, but you just follow orders to do whatever, even if it includes arresting me, then UN-arresting me if it fits your fucking needs. That’s pathetic, I mean–”
“I wasn’t ordered to release you!”
David stopped then, because he saw General Tate sweating. Sweating and visibly angry, his teeth bared, his shoulders hunched. He looked primitive, wrathful, and downright terrifying.
“I released you because you were right about me. I was just being a tool, I never should have gone through with this and jeopardized our entire mission… but there’s one part where you were wrong.”
David stood stock still, as if he would get mauled if he moved.
“You said I had no idea what it was like to be like you, or Johnny. You said I had no idea what it was like to hate myself, but I do…”
He started to relax then, straightening back up into his usual composed self.
“I do.”
He took a step forward and placed a hand on David’s left shoulder. He spoke without embellishment, plainly and quickly.
“David Berg, you are hereby relieved of your responsibilities and obligations under code 43-A of the Secret Code regarding dismissal of personnel from Top Secret Government facilities.”
“What?” David blinked hard, “You… you’re firing me? What the fuck does that even mean? Why would you come in here and say all that jus–!”
General Tate’s hand tightened on David’s shoulder and brought him forward in a powerful, yet tender kiss. After a few pregnant seconds, he released David, and set about re-buttoning his shirt, dusting off his pants, and trying to slap out the wrinkles in both.
“You are…” his voice cracked a little. The General cleared his throat quickly and continued.
“You are officially re-instated. Now go… fix… this.”
“Uhhhh…” David was still standing stock still, but for a different reason, now, “Yeah. Right. OK. Um… you and I are going to have a talk when this is all over, yeah?”
Tate nodded, smiling.
“Yeah. Good. OK. Gonna go… save the universe now. Right. Yeah.”
He stumbled out of the solitary room into a brightly lit hallway, eyes squinting under the fluorescent fixtures.
“Uh… where do I go?”
General Tate gave him a reassuring pat on the behind and sent him off to the left, smiling as shaking his head at the lanky form as it retreated down the hallway, remarking softly to himself:
“Always the crazy ones.”

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