The continuing epic story featuring the characters of the Ruby Nation. Jiro and his team attempt a surgical precision move against Beagle Labs. Which side will the M9 Girls choose?

Story by Rulopótamo, art by Neil Kapit.

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The M9 State

3. Double cross.

Double Cross

We are a good six miles away from the Beagle Labs complex. Duncan is doing a quick reckon. I look at the M9 Girls. Pato is purposely avoiding looking into the complex. She can teleport as long as she gets bearings to her destination, and she is avoiding getting those for the moment being.

“I don’t like this”, says Jiro. “I don’t like going blind in there.”

“The bigger the threat, the larger the chances are of Any foreseeing it, even at this distance”, says Pato, still looking at the ground. “I’ll teleport us into the main lab, once there I’ll give you extra info.”

“You’re asking a lot of trust from us, Pato”, I say, quietly.

“As we trust you won’t use lethal force on my friends, Ruby”, says Pato. “If you’ll be so kind of reminding your boyfriend there.”

Jiro scuffs, but he makes sure Pato sees the settings on the electro-guns.

Duncan comes back from his vantage point, and gives us the all-clear.

We follow him onto a rooftop and finally we can see the Beagle complex at the distance. Pato stands tall and extends her hand. We all touch it. I have to crouch to be able to reach her hand. There is this puffing sound, and I feel air rushing into my ears. I feel queasy. I’m completely disoriented for a second, as we are no more under an open sky on the top of a building: we are now indoors under fluorescent lights. This must be the main lab. We scramble to get our bearings and fall in a defensive pattern.

“She is not here”, mutters Pato.

A noise in the corner makes us all turn in that direction.

The girl standing there is short, with a strangely vacuous look on her green eyes.

“Karla”, says Pato.

“Surrender now, post-humans”, says Karla in a monotone voice.

“Move!” yells Jiro, a second before the bright light floods the lab. We all cover our eyes. Whatever that was is coming from the green-eyed girl. We have been covered by a force field emanating from Clau.

“You heard the man!”, says Pato, running along Jiro towards the exit.

Clau is still standing defensively between Karla and our group.

“Don’t waste time!” says Clau. “I deal with Karla.”

I signal Jiro to move on and he acknowledges with a nod. I stand next to Clau.

“Karla. It’s me!” she says.

“You must report to the containment area”, says Karla with a dull voice.

I escaped this horrid place once. I am too much aware of what the Doctor can do to people.

“She is not herself, Clau”, I say, channeling my electromagnetic charges.

Clau looks at my hands and is alarmed.

“Please, don’t!” She asks me, and then she turns to Karla. “Karla, it’s me, Clau! You have to listen to me.”

Karla extends her hands and a new flood of light forces me to close my eyes. The room heats around us and I can see a ball of plasma surrounding us. Clau has created a new force field that encloses us both.


She gives me an imploring look and addresses Karla once again.

“C’mon, Karla! Shake it off! You know this is wrong!”

Karla extends her hands and Clau is quick to react. She looks around and a heavy piece of furniture flies around, just in time to intercept the heated ray of light that Karla fires at us. The furniture falls with a thud, smoking. Clau has taken a couple of steps back.

“Please, Karla. It’s me.”

Karla eyes flash. She looks directly into the girl’s eyes.

“I know who you are”, she says with no hint of emotion.

Clau is aghast, her eyes wide, her arms limp by her sides.

“Look out!”

I act on pure reflexes and throw myself towards Clau. I turn on my heels and crouch and cover Clau with my massive body. I take the blunt of Karla’s attack and I scream in pain as I feel the searing heat on my back. A new barrage of light falls on us and all we can do is roll on the cracked floor. I grunt and try to get up. Clau is on her knees next to me.

“Karla, STOP!” screams Clau, to the top of her lungs, and raises her hands to her sides.

I feel the surge of energy going over my head. Debris flies, and the energy wave hits Karla squarely in her chest. The girl is projected towards the wall, where she falls to the ground.

“Oh no oh no oh no…”

Clau runs towards her fallen friend and kneels next to her.

“Oh Karla I’m sorry I’m sorry…”

Clau is crying now. I am by her side now, checking on the unconscious girl.

“She is fine”, I declare, feeling her vitals.

Clau cradles her friend, still crying.

“It’s not your fault, Clau”, I say, touching her shoulder.

A puffing sound and suddenly Jiro, Pato, Duncan and Opal appear out of thin air. Duncan is carrying an unconscious woman.

“Any!” Clau is once again agitated.

“I stunned her”, says Jiro. “We must leave now, before the place is crawling with post-humans.”

I look at Clau and pick up Karla. Once again we congregate around Pato.

Double Cross Ruby

I feel sick when we appear on our vantage point.

“A quick breather, then we make to headquarters”, orders Jiro.

He looks at me with concern.

“Are you OK, Ruby?”

I look over my shoulder at my burnt vest.

“I’ll live.”

Jiro scowls as he looks at the M9 Girls. Clau is in Pato’s arms as Duncan and Opal secure the captured girls in our transport.

“This was a terrible plan”, he says, getting the first aid kit.

I look at the girls. I’m sure they are thinking the same.

Continue to Part 4