How NOT to Save the World (S2, E5)

Season Content notes: fictional bigotry

Ho’neheso frowned as she listened to the transmission. Her ‘games’ with Wu had taught her to break security from the inside. No one in her father’s organization was better. But from the outside, she was a lot weaker. So there were a lot of reasons her bug might have gone silent just then.

The calling card she had given Joan all those months ago didn’t have any bugs or trackers on it. Ho’neheso had known better than to try. But she hadn’t needed to. Even before Wu had collected Ho’neheso from the park, the first night she’d met Joan, hir teams had been tracking her. It hadn’t taken them long to find her public information. Nothing in it had tripped any red flags, though. Ho’neheso had done a deeper scan herself but hadn’t had any hint of Joan’s involvement with her Dad’s enemies until Joan herself admitted it.

Still, knowing who Joan was had made it possible — not easy, but possible — to eventually track her down. Arranging the bugs in their hideout had been harder — especially without Wu finding out.

Ho’neheso hadn’t wanted Wu or her Dad knowing that Joan was an enemy. When her conscience started bugging her, she reminded herself that it was traditional for the Evil Overlord’s daughter to have a crush on the Hero. (There were several notes about it on her Dad’s Evil Overlord List.)

And if her Dad insisted on being the Evil Overlord, that made Joan the Hero, right?

Her conscience hadn’t given her much trouble, though. For over six months, Joan and her friends hadn’t said anything about the rebellion. There’d been nothing Ho’neheso could have reported except that Joan and her friends didn’t like Ma’evoto. Which made them no different than the majority of the world. (Ho’neheso thought. According to Wu, her Dad’s approval numbers were going up. But not by that much.)

Except now she had heard something. She’d heard them plotting to attack General Cheung and blame it on her Dad. Right before the transmission cut out.

If Joan and her friends had found the bugs, they would have shut the bugs down before talking about killing General Cheung. Right?

And if they hadn’t shut down the bugs something else had. Or someone.

Someone like one of Wu’s strike teams. Or Gene’s action teams. Which meant Wu already knew everything, and Joan and her friends were… Ho’neheso swallowed and rubbed at the blue triangle in the center of her shirt. It had been Joan who’d helped her be okay with being a girl. She owed Joan.

And if it wasn’t her Dad’s people? If it was someone else?

Then Joan might be in real trouble.

Ho’neheso swallowed again and picked up her comm. She wanted check on her friend, but she couldn’t. She wouldn’t make it even halfway through Wu’s security without time to prepare. But Wu and her Dad had told her she could come to them with anything. No matter what.

And if they could, they would make it right.

They hadn’t let her down yet.

“Wu? I need you to help a friend.”


Lerato was pissed. Over 20 days trying to track down this rebel team, and every lead came up dead. She’d known better than to think it would be easy, especially with the sparse information higher had been able to pass on to them. But she was pissed. Jolene had pinned her down and was rubbing her shoulders, trying to get her to relax, but it wasn’t helping.

“We know they are in this city–”


“Just how hard can it be to find a group of people with a technomage and a skeletal cyborg in a city of 1 billion people? They can’t be that–”

The phone rang.

Ani jumped to check the number. “Unknown.” She shrugged and answered it, activating a tracking app as she did. “Hello?”

“This is The Dragon. The code is braid, Chicago, 1400, Donagh was framed.”

Ani’s eyes got wider and wider as the voice spoke. When it finished, she choked out, “Acknowledged.”

“The team you were supposed to track has been found. You are receiving an anonymous SMS message with their address now. Something is happening. Your team needs to get down there, see what is going on, make sure that team is safe, and, if necessary, keep them out of police custody or the hospital.

“We need that team alive and as well as possible. I am taking a personal interest in this matter and will call later for an update.”

“Yes, mx. We’re moving now!”

The phone clicked, but already Jolene and Lerato were on their feet. “What’s going on?”

“I’ll explain on the way,” Ani said. “That was The Dragon.”

“Fuck.” The Dragon did not make direct calls to the cell-based action teams. The breach of security alone…

The team was up and running in under ten minutes. They didn’t know what was going on, but it had to be important.


In hir office in the World Government building, Wu sighed and turned to Ho’neheso. “I’ve done what I can. I wish you had come to your Dad or me before this, but… I understand why you didn’t.”

Ho’neheso glomped on hir and squeezed. “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

Wu shook hir head. “Don’t thank me yet, daughter-of-my-heart. I’ve trained you better than that.”

Ho’neheso stared at hir a moment, then looked away. “You already knew about them, just not where to find them. You had a team assigned to them.” She swallowed. “What are you going to do to them?”

“Nothing yet.”

The door opened, Ma’evoto stuck his head in. “Wu, I got your alert. Everything okay?”

“For now, my friend. But it seems your daughter has much to tell us about a friend of hers. This one has a team investigating now.”

“Alright,” Ma’evoto said with a sigh. “Can it at least wait until dinner?”

“This one believes so. And Ho’neheso? You will get the answer to your question — or as much as we can give you — then.”

She did not like that answer, but there wasn’t much she could do about it.


When the lights went out, the team all reached for weapons. Or, in Joan’s case, her tablet. Ahnold took the lead, heading for the stairs. “The door is stuck,” he said. “I can break it. I don’t hear anyone.”

Joan finished sketching her spell into the tablet, then cursed as it fizzled before her eyes. “Someone’s got a mage ward on this place. A good one.”

“We’re under attack,” Amal said. “Get to the escape tunnel.”

As a group, they turned and moved to the back of the basement. The escape tunnel was an actual tunnel leading to their neighbor’s basement laundry room. The tunnel exit was hidden behind the washer machine and a light illusion. They’d never expected to need it, but Amal insisted — just in case.

With Ahnold bringing up the rear, they started moving through the tunnel — just as the explosion brought their house down

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How NOT to Save the World (S2 Finale)

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How NOT to Save the World (S2, E1)
How NOT to Save the World (S2, E4)

How NOT to Save the World (S2, E2)

Season Content notes: fictional bigotry

T-minus 1 year 85 days

Lerato Schlender squeezed her partner Johlene’s hand and looked around the room. Officially, the cell network that supported the coup was dismantled. The message boards were made semi-public so most anyone could join.

Unofficially, Lerato and a few others had pulled together a new, tighter, cell network of trusted comrades. Lerato’s team, though, was the same one she had fought with throughout the coup. They’d nearly died (or killed each other) more than once. But now they were the tightest team at Ma’evoto’s disposal and the reason Lerato had been invited onto the council.

Like most members of the team, Lerato looked human but wasn’t. They dressed and acted to blend in, and their IDs said human, which pre-coup had given them access to places many magical people were cut off from.

They hadn’t thought the coup would magically fix everything, but they had thought they would be done with their human aliases. They might have been wrong.

“We have two jobs.” Lerato told her team. “We need to take one ourselves and pass the other one on.

“The first is the most dangerous. Higher wants to get some our of folks recruited by ‘the good guys’.”

Like many magical creatures, especially among Ma’evoto’s people, they had owned the labels ‘monster’ and ‘evil’. They were the bad guys, the villain protagonists of the story who were going to kick ‘the heroes’ ass because fuck so-called heroes anyway.

“Higher thinks that at least a few of the old so-called ‘elected’ leaders are running the resistance. They’ve got the start of a cell structure, but it’s tinker toys compared to what we’re used to. Ideally, two of us would be recruited, with the rest running support and backup.

“The other job is less risky, but may be more critical. Like I said, the other side is running a tinker-toy cell structure, and some of their cells have been identified. A few of those cells haven’t been broken up, because higher has further use for them.

“One of those cells has been given to us to shadow. The cell we’re looking for has gone to ground, so we’ll need to find it, then keep it from disappearing again.

“We are not to interfere with it unless we get orders from higher or they are doing something that will kill civilians.”

“Good,” Ani muttered from the back. Ani was a rarity even in their magical world — and an actual vampire: died and reborn with a hunger for blood. Most of those rare vampires were truly monstrous, reflecting the pre-Stoker folktales. But a few of them, such as Ani, realized that they could fight against their instincts; could be something other than a monster. Though it was a near thing, Ani had controlled herself long enough to reach her town’s wise woman. After the return of magic, they had appeared in Eastern Europe like dandelions in spring and were just as tenacious. Ani more than any of them understood how easy it was to let laziness or lack of care create innocent victims.

She (since her rebirth Ani literally covered herself in triangles — including a few tattoos) looked at each of her fellows in turn, waiting for a nod or agreement. They gave it, of course.

“Any word from Mama Stoica?” Johlene murmured.

“Two,” Ani said with a smile, “she managed to save both of them. She promised to introduce us next time ‘work’ gives me a month off.”

Lerato cleared her throat, “Back to business, folks,” but she smiled at Ani as she said it. Two more vampires saved since Ma’evoto took power was very good news as far as the team was concerned.

Johlene shook her head, “I’m surprised we even got that first job. I know most of you can blend, but I’m the only actual human, and the ‘good guys’ can’t be foolish enough to let recruits in without testing them.

“The rebellion is doubling down on their bigotry. I’ve been approached three times in the last month by folks wanting to ‘commiserate’ on how rough it is to be human these days. Nothing overt but… I think some rumor of Mama Stoica’s work is getting out because the last one was talking about humans being locked up in blood brothels.”

“What the hell?” “Fuck!” “How dare they!” “Oy ve…”

Johlene nodded. “I know. And they’re the good guys, right?”

“Only in their delusions.”

“Hey, I’ll have you know I am 100% villain. I even have a membership card!”

“Yes, you got it out of a cereal box.”

This time Lerato whistled.

“Johlene’s right,” Benjy said. He was a leprechaun, and you asked him about pots of gold at your peril. You asked him why a creature of Irish folklore had an English name at even greater peril. “But I think she’s trying not to mention that we had our own traitor two years ago. I know we think that… that…,” failing to find a strong enough insult, he growled and moved on, “didn’t get much information out, but it’s still possible they identified some of us.”

“I doubt it,” Lerato said, “We accomplished a lot since ditching that asshole, I can’t imagine they wouldn’t have targetted us before now if they could have. Still, better safe. On both counts.

“Kay-kay, we’ll pass the infiltration on to… Pan’s team, you think?”

“They usually know what they’re about.”

“And they’ve got at least two humans, right?”

Ani shook her head — Pan’s team was hers. “You know I can’t confirm that. But they’ll do well with it.”

“Right, right, sorry.”

“That leaves us the shadowing.” Lerato pulled up a grainy security image on her PDD and projected it onto the wall. “This is our first view of them. They were involved in an attack on a warehouse right after the coup. We think there’s five of them, including one technomage, but only two showed up on the security cam.

“As you can see, one is an android, unusual design. You’d think he’d be easy to track, and the security teams did back-track him and identify some of the people he spent time with. He disappeared right after this. Someone in the nerd branch back-tracked his design to a 200-year-old movie and suggested that he might have a ‘skin suit’ he can wear when he wants to blend in and look human…

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How NOT to Save the World (S2, E3)

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How NOT to Save the World (S2, E1)