Week 38.3 – Coup

Previously: Yi Fan attacked the Cobalt Czar to keep him from entering the cave until Cole could return with the mask. And now…

Digger emerged blinking into sunlight and stumbled up beside Twain. He heard a growl of frustration and saw the Ghost, gigantic and distorted, pressing the Czar face down into the ground.

Digger glanced at Twain and saw something perhaps even more bizarre. Twain was bigger, slightly taller and broader than Digger remembered, with his veins distended and pressing out blue against the white of his skin. But even his skin had a faintly blue cast, though it was fading away.

“What’s the deal?” he asked Twain, staring at the man’s hands.

Twain looked down and noted the blue, now almost faded to utter memory. “I told you I could feel it now.”

Digger heard another roar of frustration, tore his eyes away from Twain to see a beam of blue radiance carve its way across the ground like a creek bed being formed by a flash flood. The Ghost danced out of the way, and the Czar used the distraction to get up again.

“Yi Fan!” Twain yelled.

The Ghost and Yi Fan both turned their heads in unison to gape at Twain, then said in both their voices, “What are you doing out here, you idiot? Take cover in the cave! RUN!”


Cole floated into the Czar’s chambers and settled lightly to Earth. He’d found the room more quickly than he had expected. He heard the trip-trap of the woman’s heels as she hurried to catch up. He’d navigated here by following her squeals and scoffs of outrage, like a sort of backwards GPS.

[blockquote type=”blockquote_quotes” align=”right”]The Ghost and Yi Fan both turned their heads in unison to gape at Twain, then said in both their voices, “What are you doing out here, you idiot? Take cover in the cave! RUN!”[/blockquote]He scanned the room, looking for the mask, and spotted it on a side table. The secretary clopped into the room as he was picking it up. “Don’t touch that,” she gasped.

Cole didn’t reply. He considered the mask in his hands, with its odd face-within-a-face design. It was hard to believe that he and Digger had chased halfway around the world for something so small and ordinary-looking. It should at least glow or hum or something.

“Thanks,” he told the woman as he slipped the mask into the bag that Yi Fan had given him. “I’ll be going now.”

He lifted off the ground again and wobbled. He still didn’t feel entirely like his old self, and his mouth was dry. “Hey, do you have a kitchen in here someplace? I could use a drink before I head back.”

“You can’t…” the woman began, still panting, but Cole cut her off.

“Yeah, duly noted, but you might as well just give me directions,” he said. “I’m afraid I’ll kill you if I make you chase me there.”


“You! You’re in this together?” the Czar said when he saw Twain standing next to Digger. Then he looked back to Yi Fan. “All of you?”

“Don’t act surprised,” said the Ghost. “Our arrangement was one of convenience only. There was never any loyalty between us.”

“No,” the Czar agreed. He cracked his knuckles with a sound like gunshots. “So now let’s end our arrangement permanently.”

Cole had better hurry up with that mask, I’m thinking. Don’t miss the next exciting episode!

To read from the beginning, click here

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One Response to Week 38.3 – Coup

  1. Tony Frazier says:

    I’ve tried hard not to do this, but I had to make a retroactive change to episode 37.3 where Yi Fan tells Cole where to find the mask. She originally told him to get the bag, also, because I had forgotten that in episode 34.5, the Czar had told her to take it with her. I have left the other errors in earlier chapters to be fixed in the final book, if I decide to publish the entire thing as a single story.

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