I remained hard at work at Argentina’s Pink House. “Work, work, work, work, work, work,” I turned toward the Korean girl near me whose boobs tried to fight back against being shoved into a tube top, “Hello boys, did you sleep well? I missed you.” The Korean, whose name I’d never bothered to learn, giggled and patted me on the head. Maybe I should call her Kim? I dunno, I’ll leave that one to the philosophers.
“Emperor Gecko, it is time,” my newest assistant, the Japanese girl, added. Ya know, I’m beginning to suspect that way of referring to people might be a bit degrading and/or dehumanizing. She hasn’t complained, just like she hasn’t said a thing about my inability to find any clothes her size other than Catholic schoolgirl outfits.
I turned to her as she slid into my lap I may have encouraged her to sit there. I mean, Japanese people don’t have the same hang-ups as sitting on the lap of someone the same gender, but they also don’t get along well with Koreans. It’d be as out of place as casting a Caucasian woman as a Japanese character in a setting where a refugee crisis is causing racial tensions to flare up in Asia. “Thank you. And I see you put your hair up in the pigtails like I asked. Good…uh…what’s your name again?
She smiled at me, “Saki.”
I didn’t have anything to do with that one, I swear. She looked all confused, too, as I snorted and sat my head down on my desk for a moment. “Ok, Saki it is. You said it’s time?”
She nodded and handed over a tablet showing Times Square. Where else? Where the fuck else? Always Times Square? I’ve done it too. It’s just one of those places. It’s iconic, like how a spaceship trying to blow shit up will always gravitate over the White House, or how revived Romans somehow always end up learning English with one specific British accent. If Mobian was still around, I’d ask him what they really sound like back then. We’re all going to feel real stupid when it turns out the Romans were some Cockney-sounding bastards. Or, hell, maybe they had a Southern accent like me?
I’d tracked Cercopagis Lysis’s ship as it approached the Earth, but he took his sweet time on showing up, nor did he and I ever work out how this whole thing would start off. Except for the whole “I’ll show up, and if you don’t show up, everyone will think you lost,” thing. Perception is a well-known battlefield.
I had other things to do besides stare at him all day, waiting for him to make a move. He could play that game with people who didn’t have to coordinate shit around the world. Sometimes literaly, given some areas with a lack of plumbing and my attempts to rectify that for the good of people’s rectums. That doesn’t even count time spent kidnapping a team.
Not that it’s all kidnapping. Moai came around when I gave him a direct order, and I left Carl out of it. Then I swung over and told Beetrice, the queen of the bee people Buzzkills, that I’d rock her fucking world if she fought for me or provided a kickass champion for my team. She thought I meant right then, which caused a bit of a problem. The Korean girls got the wrong idea, see, and then Saki had to go out and buy a crowbar.
By the time she got back, I’d been manhandled enough in a literal sense that it was more a matter of avoiding death by sex with a giant bee woman than missing pointy booty call in the first place. Beetrice thought the choking was just my kink, too. She didn’t realize I still have a few issues about that sort of thing going back to when I was a kid.
So that’s Warman, Moai, and Beetrice accounted for. I also called up Mix N’ Max and asked him to be a part of the team, as both a backup and to supervise another project. I wanted him to create a monster for me. Let me briefly go back to before Saki brought me the news so things aren’t a huge surprise to y’all.
“If you want me to revive someone as a strong reanimated being, I can do that. They don’t have a lot of powers and retain their own minds, though. That’s mostly chemical, with some electrical work to pull it all together,” Max said, pointing with a pointer wand to a screen against the wall with sketches projected onto it. His assistants worked the projector and the laptop set up by it. Holly looked all bright and fashionable, like a blonde Valley Girl, in contrast to her friend Sam with the nose stud and the purple hair. Sam looked more like what you’d expect the pale, goth-looking Mix N’Max in his red coat and poofy shirt to keep around. The chemical- and drug-minded super was no stranger to odd people, and had remained something of an ally and friend of mine for years due to the both of us having some history killing other supers. In my case, it tends to solve problems. More often in Max’s case, you can’t make a few omelets without injecting a few eggs.
The Electric Eye I inhabited shook its head. I’d sent the one in Los Angeles to meet up with Max at Salt Lake City, where he’d been working on methods of changing skin tone and sexuality. Wish I could have been there for that one. “I want something with a lot of power.”
Smiling, always smiling, Max nodded toward Holly. She pressed a button and the image of a large, pieced-together human body disappeared. The next screen looked a blank lime green until an imagine flipped into the screen from the side. After a couple of rotations, it stopped to reveal a picture of a large, hulking brute of a man. No, wait, a woman. I think. One of the boobs was big and droopy, and the hair was a bit on the long side, though that technically didn’t rule out being a man. Either way, it was large, and while that size isn’t beyond the realm of humans with gigantism, the wide, heavily muscled chest.
“I present to you the ‘Mutant’ permutation of unsafe super-empowerment. Chemicals are handy, but sometimes we can manage the same results with enough radiation, but those are unstable. Strangely, the most stable variants arise with lower levels of mutation and a few generations of living out in a desert. We don’t know why that is, but if you want power, we can just grab someone, inject them, zap them with a lot of microwaves, and have you a mutant in no time.” As he spoke, bullet points shot out of the bottom of the screen, one character at a time, giving some of the same information.
“Powers?” I asked.
“Generally, strength and toughness. They are not easy to kill once you’ve made them, except they die on their own easily. The stable ones are a little stronger than people despite the radiation poisoning, but the bigger ones surpass your standard ‘Reanimated’ type and can go toe to toe with a flying brick, except for the flying part. If you can hit one with a nuke, sometimes they come out able to shoot radiation or heat vision.”
I considered it for a moment before going, “I need bigger, stronger. Do you have anything that could take out a city?”
Max pointed back to Holly. Getting no response, he threw his pointer at the sleeping assistant. She snapped to attention and pushed a button, moving us onto the next screen where the words “Tokyo-Class” appeared up top.
“If you have a candidate in mind, don’t expect them to survive this,” Max said.
I shrugged. “That’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.”
Max cocked his head to the side, “You?”
I shook my head. “No, I meant someone else’s life is a sacrifice I am fully committed to. Just give me something that’ll work on anybody I happen to grab off the street, alright?”
And that’s how Team Gecko recruited Mystery Monster, aka Albert. Al liked to think of himself as a nice guy with some flaws. Just a normal, average, everyday working stiff. Just someone who drives a little fast from time to time. How could he know that keeping someone from merging onto the freeway would lead, several cars back, to someone hitting a pedestrian?
The butterflies know, of course. I am, I’ve said, an agent of Chaos. And the thing about Chaos is that it has this Theory. In that Theory lays omniscience and the means by which to show that even someone who does nothing more than speed and shag the occasional neighbor’s pet Shiba Inu is still capable of murder through such simple and otherwise accepted forms of injustice. Besides, the Shiba was asking for it, running around with no pants on.
Now, back to the present day. Lysis’s ship sent down a gold and purple colored saucer that landed. Out of which stepped a thin being in golden armor, because Cercopagis buys armor for the look of it. I can’t entirely complain. I do a lot for the look of things. Armor made to look good and armor made to look fortified both come out about the same as armor with any joints big enough to slide a blade. Still didn’t stop me thinking how gaudy the guy looked, with his gold armor and his staff.
He stepped well away from his craft, earning dozens of honks from annoyed drivers, then raised his staff. A minor shockwave pushed all the cars just slightly. If he thought it’d get him fewer honks, he sadly misinterpreted the Empyreal City rush hour traffic.
“I am the Herald of Cercopagis Lysis, the Galactic Conqueror!” he announced, giving Cercopagis a title we couldn’t easily fact check. If someone can conquer anywhere in the galaxy, why go after Earth? At least the Fluidics had a good reason. They needed brainwashed bodies to serve as fodder in their wars. This guy just keeps getting beaten and comes back for second chances. Any similarity to any other supervillians y’all know is clearly unintentional, wrong, and in no way me.
Anyway, that’s not all the guy said. “I am here to announce the first fight of this contest between our respective leaders. My master now gives you his first champion, secured from our daring raid upon the Hiveworld of Sathe during the Eternal Culling: The Mendes Configuration!” He turned to his ship and raised the staff. From the top of his craft, an orb rose.
I began to wonder if we’d have yet another enemy more concerned with being completely alien to humanity when the exterior of the orb broke and shifted around. In the process, it grew. It grew big. The Mendes Configuration, whatever hunk of space junk it seemed to be at first, was clearly a grower, not a shower. It grew in pulses, pushing out evenly at first, then less evenly as it took shape.
In the form of a giant robot with one eye. I frantically sent out my consciousness to the Robot Room, as I wish I officially named where I had people putting together my robot. The PA systems startled everyone as I said, “Please tell me it’s ready, please tell me it’s ready, it’s gotta be fucking ready, come on!”
Unfortunately, the camera showed that what they’d assembled looked more like a stickman with boxing gloves and boobs than a proper giant robot, leaving me thoroughly disappointed.
So I put in a conference call to Team Gecko. Warman started to say he’d take Mendes but I muted him and said, “Max, it’s time.”
“Yeah. I wanted to say that in a dramatic way. And it is time. Send in…dun dun dun!…the Mystery Monster!”
After a second, he asked, “Is that what we’re calling the guy we…?”
“Yeah, him. Stick him in the microwave, give him his shots, do whatever you need to do, preferably on a plane ride over to EC.
In order to fill the time, I brought in Electric Eye. “In the name of the Ruler of Earth, the Emperor of Awesome, the Immaculate Man-Machine, his Lordship the King of Kings, the Master of Disaster…” Now, I know what you’re thinking, but I didn’t just have it rattle off titles the entire time, “while Team Gecko’s champion is arriving, I would like you all to enjoy the musical event of the…week, let’s go with week. Ladies and Gentlemen of Earth, your planetary anthem will now be performed by its original singer, Sir Mix-A-Lot.”
Because Earth enjoys big butts, even if I can lie. It wasn’t just that, I really did bring in various one-hit wonder artists to sing and otherwise earn the first musical paychecks they’ve seen in twenty to thirty years. It was a thing. Got some goodwill going.
And then Max texted me, “Bombs away!” and Electric Eye had to carry Sir Mix-A-Lot to safety as a giant-sized man-thing crashed into Times Square opposite the Mendes Configuration. That was a good enough way to describe it, because longer ways involve words like “bulbous, club-armed, tentacle-headed” and other odd things that normally don’t describe anything derived from a human. Except bulbous, I suppose, but I don’t like to see anything bulbous on people. You wouldn’t call a big, beautiful butt bulbous, now would you?
The Mystery Monster didn’t really have a head, or a neck. More of a lump on top of its torso, with a mouth that opened to roar. At the pincered, one-eyed alien robot made out of round bent pieces of metal. What is it with the lack of eyes? Then again, the monster over there didn’t have any visible eyes. Had a big lump in place of an arm, looked like a club. And the other arm ended in five very wet-looking fingers. I certainly wouldn’t shake it. I wholeheartedly approved of the other weapon it packed, though. It looked like a giant blotchy pink and wet naked humanoid except for the bony drill poking out between its legs. Some men are hung like a horse; this one was hung like it could build a house.
They both stood tall at thirty feet, but I think Mystery Monster had the reach on the robot.
All over the news broadcasts, I interrupted to provide some voiceover work of my own. “Fight Numero Uno: The Mendes Configuration versus Team Gecko’s Mystery Monster. Begin!”
Before I even finished, the Mystery Monster started on its own…by turning around and smashing its club into a car that finally learned to stop honking. I decided to hijack the scroll at the bottom of the broadcast. “Fun Fact: Mystery Monster hates obnoxious drivers. The owners of that building were probably assholes anyway. Technically, there’s nothing in city ordinances against tearing up the road with a drill dick.”
I had to stop due to the call coming in. The Imperial Hotline, aka the phone line for anyone who really, really, really needs to call me but doesn’t know me well enough to get my private number, lit up with a call from an unknown number. “Hello?”
“Greetings, soon-to-be former ruler of Earth!” See what I mean about needing better names for these titles? Cercopagis went on with his gloating and laughing, “Does your champion ever intend to actually fight?”
“Oh, he’ll fight. See? He’s fighting right now.”
“I believe that’s mating, though I believe your species doesn’t typically do that to architecture.”
“Any moment now, he’ll be doing it to your random space robot’s face! Then you’ll see.” I told him all that, but I began to have my doubts. Max warned me that making a monster bigger and more powerful, especially in such a short amount of time, left them rebellious and prone to turn on their masters. Like teenagers. And like a teenager, Mystery Monster had started sticking its parts into strange things not meant to hold it. In public, again like a teenager.
I decided to send in the Electric Eye, setting Sir Mix-A-Lot down in the hopes he could find his way back to his fiefdom without my help. Electric Eye rocketed up onto the building that was a-rockin’ because Mystery Monster came a-knockin’ and called down to it, “You stop humping this and go hump that other thing this instant, or you are ground! You’ll be turned into Mystery Meat when I’m done with you!”
Turns out he’s a lot faster with that club than I anticipated, but still not fast enough to smash Electric Eye. Eye threw it to the side and missed the domestic abuse visited upon the poor building that been drilled by MM. Figuring Eye finally had its attention, I sent the smaller robot zipping around toward the bigger one.
“You cannot have two champions in a single fight! We agreed to one-on-one battles!” Cercopagis yelled at me over the Hotline.
“Don’t worry your golden panties off. Electric Eye won’t fight.” The Mendes Configuration tracked it anyway, a red laser light appearing and growing larger as if considering an attack as the smaller robot approached, then stopped right in front of the single orb that made up its combined eye and head. Except while Mendes paid attention to Electric Eye, Electric Eye paid attention to Mystery Monster and cut its rockets, ending this dance of alliteration.
Fancy souvenir snow globe from a space knickknack store or not, the Mendes Configuration didn’t take that laying down. Unfortunately, it didn’t even take it kneeling down or losing oil control. It unloaded some sort of beam onto Mystery Monster that scorched the flesh of its chest, bring a wail out of the monsterized human. MM responded by bringing its club down on the robot’s head. That forced the robot into a squat. That turned out to be a bad position when facing an opponent with a biological drill in place of its private parts.
Right about then, the news censored the fight with black bars. It didn’t help that I inserted sounds from some porno. Debbie Does Space, anyone? Is that a thing? Wouldn’t be the first time some shit I made up to be funny turned out to be real.
Things seemed to be going well. And, as Sir Mix-A-Lot’s cameo appearance early indicates, that clearly foreshadows a but. But, the Mendes Configuration reached down and grabbed the drill with its pincers. It squeezed. It tore. It simultaneously caused billions of men around the world to reach for their crotches in sympathetic pain. And then it shoved that drill right into the middle of Mystery Monster’s fleshy torso.
Mystery Monster stumbled back, pumping a different sort of troubling fluid onto the street below. At which point, its screaming mouth filled the air with an emasculated cacophony until the Mendes Configuration shut it up with a blast of whatever laser, plasma, or heat vision constituted the red stream coming from its eye.
Between the internal burns and the loss of what may be blood (usually, it’s not green), Mystery Monster collapsed and curled up in the fetal position. From there, the fight was purely academic, if academics often beat each other to death with their own severed cocks. Which, to be honest, would make debates a hell of a lot more interesting. It’s probably the only way I’d pay attention to philosophy. Because, let’s be honest, there’s only so many times people can go around with circle jerks about wondering if the world is nothing but a computer simulation. As a dude who has crossed dimensions, that means either I disproved it, or the entirety of existence is centered on me.
Sounds about right.
Unfortunately, the Matrix fucked me over and left Mystery Monster so smashed up by the alien robot that I could have renamed it Ground Beef. Except I don’t know what you call human meat. Pigs are pork, cattle are beef, but long pork is just a euphemism.
“That is one in my favor. I will let you start the next fight, Psycho Gecko. Consider it an act of mercy,” Cercopagis Lysis said over the Imperial Hotline.
“Go eat a mystery meat dick,” I told him.
Some days, you think you get a chance to use a giant robot. Other days, you see a thirty-foot tall monster get its weaponized penis torn off and then stabbed in the chest with said penis. Unfortunately, today was dick-stabbing day in the worst way.
The first steps of my official government have been laid. I pulled together a team of saps to assist me by filtering out various moonbat applicants for Team Gecko. They are now officially my Department of Labor, and will afterwards work on managing the concerns of workers and managers, particularly in the industrial sector. Coordinating, making sure people get benefits, making sure people don’t abuse benefits. It’s a give-and-take thing, labor. Or at least it is when I’m not the one laboring.
I’m still working on finding someone to help figure out other departments. Gotta sort out the power hungry assholes and privilege seekers from the ones who just want to do what they’re good at. That’s one area where the monetary incentive doesn’t work, because plenty of people will do a job poorly so long as there’s money in it. They don’t care about it anymore than they’re paid to care.
As for the power bit, that’s where we look at Joseph Stalin. The Bolsheviks had their little reunion, but they were revolutionaries. They wanted to fight the government and were unprepared when they became the government. There were all these boring things to do instead. One guy stepped up and was like “Sure, give me everything to do. If I can’t handle it, I’ll find people who can.” Next thing they know, the most powerful man in the entire country is the secretary with a bunch of his friends in positions all over the place. There’s always folks like that, and they love to pop up whenever there’s a power vacuum. A lot of people think that the danger ends with the revolution. Ha!
In my case, I’ve got to find other ways to hunt down people. Tests and such. It’d be nice if I’d bothered with this earlier, but I didn’t. I had a team to build.
I tried the Titan, head of Cape Diem. I’ve left him alone, except for the fact that I’ve made him busier than ever. I found him in the country of Benin. Cape Diem’s people had a small center in the city of Cotonou from which they sent out a traveling medical group to counter some of the countryside’s problems with receiving medical care. In a compound right next door, they had people trying to find cheap ways to expand the country’s agriculture beyond subsistence farming.
Titan was busy helping to repair some cheaper housing that looked to be falling apart. And by that, I mean he took the place of some damaged support columns holding up the building while his team and local contractors worked on replacing them. With his other hand, he checked on other Cape Diem teams around the world and so on.
A dozen feet tall, with dark blue skin and the occasional hint of orange, the man looked up at me with all-white eyes save for where something glowed from underneath that membrane. “I won’t fight for you,” he said.
I came in person because the personal touch is so important. Like when I dropped to my knees. “Pleeeeeeeease? Pretty please with a cherry on top?”
He sighed and raised one leg to scratch at the calf of the other through is blue, grey, and yellow uniform leggings. Standard Cape Diem nonthreatening colors. “Offer me money.”
“Yes,” I said.
“Power too, promise me that.”
“All you want,” I swore I heard some of this before.
“Offer me anything I ask for.”
He didn’t even look up. He was messing with me. “Anything you want.”
He glanced at me again, then shrugged, careful to keep from shrugging the building while he was at it. “I still don’t want to fight for you, and you’ll be lucky to get anyone to.”
Analysis of dialogue complete. He quoted Princess Bride at me. Inconceivable!
“I think I’ll get more than you think,” I answered back.
He smirked. “You can’t even see it, can you? People will work with you when nothing personal is on the line, but no one will ever fight for you, especially not me.” He seemed awfully sure of that.
“So what I’m taking away from this is, there’s not much of anything you can think of to make me change your mind,” I asked. Unlike with Captain Lightning, the innuendo had to stay put away. From what I’d seen of this guy in the past, there’s a reason he was able to tell everyone he wasn’t playing their games. It involved him taking a nuke to the face and not even being knocked unconscious. I did about the equivalent of that to Captain Lightning. It knocked him out and would have killed me.
I didn’t come in armor, to appear less threatening. I even swallowed down the question of how his organization avoided the whole nanite mess. They had a few people with some exposure to them, but they hadn’t been passing them around like I expected.
“Ok,” I said. “Don’t have to fight for me. Anything I can throw your way? We’re still on a money system, so I could toss that at you. Maybe order people to give you a hand?”
He shook his head. “It takes more than just money and outside help to fix things. This isn’t about the White Man’s Burden. One of the stories I make sure they include in training is about this group that came into a country and wanted to help. So they planted a bunch of crops in an fertile area that the natives were just too dumb to use. The plants grew, then migrating hippos came through and ate everything, destroying the entire crop. Cape Diem doesn’t save the day and fly off to ignore the consequences of our actions. We look for what will work. We talk to people. We use local contractors so they get paid and things get built right, instead of giving credit to untrained college students whose houses couldn’t stand up to a loud fart. We need minds, not money.”
His little rant got him a bit agitated. The white membrane covering his eyes had pulled back and flames burned out of the iris hidden underneath. For a moment, he glared at me. Then the moment ended and the nictitating membranes moved back into place. “I don’t care for you. Things have gotten worse since you took over. I just want whoever’s in charge to stop messing things up so I can try and get things fixed around here.”
I can definitely sympathize. And the closest to any good I wanted to so involved me taking over for the same sort of reason. I couldn’t fight some war against the Titan to bring him to my side on top of my conflict with Cercopagis. I had to get a team together, beat the alien, and then I could finally get around to everything I’ve neglected.
“So, if you’re not fighting for me, are you fighting at all? Just as a courtesy, something like that? I can send over enough pizzas for a pizza party. For the entire country.” In the interest of choosing the right expression for the food I offered, I put on a cheesy smile and gave two thumbs up. “Eh? Eh?”
I think he rolled his eyes. The glow shifted around, at least. “If it’ll get you to go away, I’m not taking part in that contest on either side. I don’t like Lysis, but I don’t get involved in politics unless they get involved with me first. I’d better not get involved, either.” He raised an eyebrow.
I shook my head. “Nope. I’ll send over the pizzas later.” I turned to step on back to Helicopter Force Eighteen, the Emperor’s personal helicopter. Helicopters Force One through Seventeen are decoys and took off around me like a flock of mosquitoes. Ooh, except for Helicopter Force Seven. That one stayed on the ground, then exploded. Hence the decoys. Damn hard to find good chopper pilots, too. I had to stab them all with needles and inject the nanites.
Hmm. Maybe what I need to do is add a tail…no, I can see that being used against me. I’d have to alter my armor all the time, change up the car, and I’d probably wind up crapping on myself when I rush to the bathroom and forget about the tail.
He was a notable failure, though I did ship in a lot of pizzas. Maybe not enough for the entire country, since it’s like ten million or so, but a lot anyway. I know y’all wouldn’t expect me to do so, but I didn’t even send him the bill for it. It’s one of those annoying cases where someone tells you “This guy is really, really strong,” instead of letting you see it, but since all this is from my point of view, I’d rather not see it just so y’all do. I like my legs right where they are, thank you.
Good. Bad. Either way, I’m the man with the… uh… blog? Didn’t think that one out.
So I only had Warman at that time. And while I had an office full of people to take applications, most of the applicants didn’t live up to the hype. I could have used Forcelight if I still had her. I sent along a message to The Claw, but someone from his office claimed he was in ill health and needed to recover. I’m not inclined to believe him, though he is a bit on the old side and reclusive. Maybe this is one of those situations where the dictator’s off on a long vacation while his people run things. Wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more.
I found Venus, too. It took more work than it should have, but I found her with the rest of the Master Academy people in Empyreal City, stopping a few pockets of crime I’ve neglected due to being a single person. She stood there in her shiny silver and pink power armor. The person she was talking to stopped when I took over, then smiled. “Heya there, boopsie! Ooh, you know grinding your teeth is bad for them, right?”
“I know,” she said, not stopping the grinding. “What do you want?”
“Fight for me?” I asked.
She crossed her arms. “Why?”
“Because crime is down, you love me, and I’ll murder everyone you care for if you don’t?” That undoubtedly looked odd and drew some looks, considering I’d jumped into a teen girl and we were surrounded by a bunch of people that looked like they’d been beaten up. And handcuffed. I looked around at him. “Did I interrupt you in the middle of something…freaky?”
“No, this is a blood trafficking ring. People pay good money to have their blood swapped out, but not everyone’s ethical about it. This is what people have resorted to thanks to you,” Venus said. Another woman behind her hissed and broke his cuffs, then jumped at her. Venus’s fist caught her in the face. My proxy’s nailed her right in the ovaries. That’s not an expression, either.
“For God’s sake, get your hand out of her parts. There’s so much wrong with that,” Venus said, grabbing the shocked and hurting vamp and dragging her back against the wall. There was an audible pop as the perp released my proxy’s hand.
“At least she doesn’t have fangs everywhere,” I muttered, then watched as Venus grabbed a nearby chair and staked the screaming vampire’s arms to the wall. “Ooh, kinky.”
“This is a very good reason why I absolutely do not and never will love you!” Venus turned and yelled, getting in my face and pointing her finger at me.
“To answer your other points, crime is only down because you took away everyone’s freedom and threatened to kill them. Just like you threatened to kill my friends. You really want me to fight? Really? You think you can trust me not to surrender when I get out there, or will you kill people then? Or how about if I throw the fight? How would you even know? Are you going to murder the loved ones of anyone who loses on your team? How many people do you think will join you if that’s what you’re going to do?”
That…made sense. Worse, I think Titan knew it, too. Did Captain Lightning? I agreed to these fucking rules. Cercopagis Lysis presented them and I agreed. “Son of an emerald whore,” I said quietly.
I blinked, then glared at Venus and brought my finger up close to her face as well.
She screwed up her face. “You got something to say?”
I shook my head. “Nope, just wanted you to smell this finger.” She pulled her head back, bringing a laugh at me. A bitter one, though.
I left her friend there and went on a small detour to commandeer a satellite transmitter. A quick uplink later and I sent Cercopagis a message. “Will need time to collect team. Earthlings intragnizent. You are a female reproductive organ, if your species has them.”
The message came back quickly. He replied the same way. “Will show for first fight Tuesday. Will interrupt the work week. If you don’t show, will declare a victory.”
That dick! Screwing up the week like that! Also, the whole PR victory thing. I get it. He shows up, says it’s fight time, and I don’t even bother? It makes me look bad, and I don’t want to walk into that whole mess with just Warman. For one thing, that stupid idea about not fighting more than once. This is bullshit, I shouldn’t follow the rules anyway! Seriously, who starts shit on a Tuesday? Damn, he is evil.
No, no, no, no, it’s cool. It’s cool. Got a bit too sane there, but I’ve already got some ideas. And Mix N’Max on speed dial.
“Come ooooon!” I pleaded.
“No,” said Captain Lightning, arms crossed. He floated above me, higher up in the woods so as to keep an eye out for anyone needing immediate rescue, or anything else more important than talking to me.
I met him back in the U.S., because who doesn’t like a shitload of jet lag? As a hero, albeit one with what appears to be less crime to fight, he used his considerable powers to help the victims of natural disasters in his beloved America. Figuring it wouldn’t hurt to butter him up a little, I came to him instead of calling him away from Louisiana. Seriously, if I’d known he’d be there, I’d have kept the tsunamis rolling so we could meet up somewhere else.
I mean, at least India had people useful to the U.S. Of A. I suppose I should have some sympathy for their plight, if I cared. Don’t know why I’d start with Louisiana of all places. If nobody made them stop, they’d still be forcing everyone to learn about Creationism and geocentrism in schools. Everyone except for the slaves, of course. They’d be back at the farm, plowing their white stepmothers. Then they all get up on Sunday and sit in church together, learning from a white-knuckled preacher about how Jews killed their savior and how God taught racial purity with the Tower of Babel.
As opposed to now, when the slavery part is illegal. Oh, I wish I wasn’t in Dixie.
But I am, and I decided to play honest with folks rather than be the usual politician. I made no secret of my disdain for the state, though I think I got them all excited when I stepped off the plane and started throwing beads at people. This hanger-on who just kinda started traveling with me suggested that if I were to do that, I should at least toss out Moon Pies, except they were all gone by the time we landed. Because I love Moon Pies.
I once killed for a Moon Pie. This guy had an inheritance coming his way of about half a million dollars, but the will said his older sister would get two million. He offered me $100,000 for the kill, but I played hard to get until, exasperated, he asked me what it would take to murder his sibling in cold blood. “A box of Moon Pies,” I told him.
“That’s all? Don’t you want money?” he asked.
I shrugged. “Two boxes of Moon Pies then.”
“What kind of man murders someone over a Moon Pie?”
“Asks the guy who wants a family member’s life taken for money.”
Long story short, he paid me the Moon Pies, then tried to back out on the deal. I grabbed the sister, told her about the deal without telling her he’d decided not to go through with it, and made an honest man of him. I guess I was something of a prick in that whole affair, but no more than the nature of the incident allowed me to be.
Irrelevant past story aside, I made this trip before announcing the big contest between myself and Cercopagis Lysis specifically to recruit someone.
“You’d be on the side against me! You wouldn’t even have to fight, just walk out and surrender. Boom, automatic victory for Earth, which continues to be ruled by its own people.”
Captain Lightning turned his head to the side. I listened in to transmissions and found a truck carrying FEMA MREs had been beset by armed men in camouflage. I could feel my nanites inside just one of them. Before Captain Lightning could set off to stop the ambush, that one turned his gun on the others of his party, then himself.
“See? I’m not such a bad guy,” I grinned up at him. He didn’t return the expression.
Cap shook his head. “I don’t care about helping you at all. You’re as much an invading outsider as Cercopagis. The difference is, he’s never been human.” He took off, leaving me there in the middle of his campsite in the woods.
To think, people subject themselves to camping voluntarily. Somebody slaved over a hot air conditioner so that you could be cold! At least have the decency to freeze inside like a grateful little bitch!
So I left there and caught up with this bus full of an entourage I seem to have acquired, the sight of which made me miss Moai and Carl. But Carl is safer not being associated with me, so perhaps it’s for the best that I now have a bunch of red shirts around to buffer me against bullets. There’s the North Korean twins, the Japanese girl, this guy who only goes by Daniels who insisted he work on my image, and some people in black suits that seem to be my bodyguards. I don’t remember getting them.
It’s not enough to run a country, except a really small one like Molossia. Yet another reason I agreed to this contest with Cercopagis is a chance to focus on important things like building a ruling government.
I had a few other names on my list, too. I stopped by to see Warman. Another American superhero, this one preferred to live at Fort Rogers in Utah. That’s Fort Rogers, not Camp Rogers. One made Warman, the other trains Army Rangers. I’m sure they both like to claim they make super soldiers.
Once again, access to the deepest, darkest secrets of all countries has its benefits. Fort Rogers hosted the post-World War II super soldier experiments, though their resources were sometimes loaned out to MKNAOMI, an old biological warfare research program. They named this new project WSCLARK. It’s a cryptonym, a code name. All the projects have them. People think they give projects names reminiscent of their goals in some way, and that’s true, but they don’t make it obvious. Some of the letters mean something and others don’t. The CIA isn’t the boogeyman, but they aren’t Encyclopedia fuckin’ Brown either.
At first, it wasn’t any better than some of the crazy mind control stuff, except they eventually figured out how to temporarily grant their own agents superpowers, which is where closer collaboration began to occur with some of the MK series of projects, which were about giving the CIA all kinds of tools to use against Russia. Some of those incidents showed up in other ways. A mixture that didn’t work well leading to an incident at a place called Shag Harbor in Canada. Then one of their guys defected and tried to flee the States. They caught up to him over the Berwyn Mountains in Wales, causing a battle and an earthquake. Another time, the Russians pulled something of their own and scared the crap out of Wurtsmith Air Force Base, in Michigan.
The WSCLARK people preferred to work more quietly until they knew they had something. The CIA created an entire phenomena called Earthquake Lights to keep that part hidden. It wasn’t until the 90s, just before the collapse of the Soviet Union, that they went public with Warman. Warman, the Man of War, destined to defeat the Soviet Union. He was so good at his job, the CCCP collapsed about a year later thanks to social justice issues. Or so the public version goes.
When I walked into the Fort Rogers gym, I found him working a punching bag with my face printed on the outside case. I decided to set my expectations low for this meeting.
He turned to look at me, panting. Sweat glistened from the top of his blonde head as he looked at me with that piercing, blue-eyed gaze. No, this is not turning into a gay romance novel. Even though he did invite me to get pounded by him.
“Here to help me work out?” he held a hand out toward the punching bag.
I waved it off. “Nope, though I have someone who needs hitting you might want to work up to.”
He narrowed his eyes at me, an expression that, if he wore it all the time, would have had women stopping him in the street to tell him how he’s such a special young man and isn’t it delightful he can dress himself?
“Look,” I said. “I’m not all bad. You know you can’t always trust the public record to fully reflect what’s gone on. You spend twenty-five years fighting the good fight behind the scenes, but then nobody takes you seriously after you go public until you start playing baseball Iraqi tanks instead of bats and balls. Been there, done that. Well, not exactly that, but I could have easily done worse if that had been my intention.”
“What are you rambling about?” he asked, stepping over to a bench to put a stop to the flood of sweat coming off his head with a towel, like some sort of Dolph Lundgren Hitchhiker of the Galaxy.
I stepped over, mindful of my lack of armor and gave the bag a hard punch. I didn’t need my helmet’s 360 degree display to realize his amusement when I discovered he’d added a bit of lead to the inside of that bag. I don’t know how much, but my knuckles found out it was there and made sure to tell my brain. My bones and skin might be tougher than normal, my muscles surprisingly strong for my size due to nanites, but this is a guy whose idea of a gun involves mashing two miniguns together. I hate to think what his condoms are like.
Sounds like a nice brand, actually. “Folks, come on down to Richard Richard’s Rubber Room for our brand new Double Dick Special!We’re all pumped up and ready to give you all the deals. It’s a long, hard, dirty job, but we help you get it done!”
I took a few more punches now that I knew what I was hitting, then stopped. “You’ve been fighting for your country for a long time. Now I need your help to defend our planet.”
He snorted. “You can’t kill your way out of it?”
I gave the bag a few kicks, then a headbutt. After that, I leaned on it due to the pain and a need to determine if I’d concussed myself. I shook my head. “You’re a soldier. Your entire job is to kill people. It’s a necessity sometimes, you know that. Sometimes war is unavoidable. Sometimes, necessary change must be baptized in blood, like the promise of liberty after the American Civil War. Where would we be if old bigots didn’t die, eh? I think I know where Germany would be.”
I stepped back and gave the bag a hard pump kick that swung it back. Dropping to my belly, the bag passed right over me as it swung back, and I rose to give it a good elbow where a person’s kidney would be if the bag was a person. But then, a hanging person rarely needs a kidney shot to finish the job. It left me leaning on my elbow against the back as I looked over at the unimpressed supersoldier. “I worked out a deal to end this latest damn threat to the planet. A contest between myself and Cercopagis. Each of us picks representatives for a one-on-one, best three out of five fighting tournament, but neither he nor I can be one of them. I mean, hey, when he’s gone, I can work on making things better instead of being such an asshole to people. I can take time. Talk folks around. I’ve taken some wartime measures here, but the point of that is it only lasts while at war. Like Lincoln’s and habeus corpus, or that time FDR concentrated people of a certain race into camps.”
He glared at me for that one. For particularly patriotic folks like him, the Japanese internment camps are a shameful part of the nation’s history. For me, it’s a sore to pick at. Make people emotional, override their reason, control them. Sometimes I push the buttons. But sometimes…
“I’ll have a list of demands. You do what I want, I’ll fight for you,” he said.
I held my hands out and stepped away from the punching bag. “As long as my death isn’t on the list, I’ll take a look and do what I can do. I can be a reasonable man when people want me to be, Warman.” I grinned.
I hoped to get more on my side, preferably once Captain Lightning had joined up, but I didn’t. Instead, it was time to make the announcement. I did so with my usual tact.
All across the world, television and internet-connected computer screens lit up with an explosion. The radio folks just had to use their imagination of the visual. “There’s a bear in the woods. Some people like to pretend the bear isn’t there. They don’t think the bear is a threat. They don’t realize that the bear came from another planet to steal hard-working Earthicans’ jobs. To fuck hard-sleeping Earthicans’ spouses. To talk some completely alien language around you where you can’t understand it. Preferably right during the good part of a movie. It doesn’t matter how many different words for snow the aliens have, Emperor Gecko of Earth knows a thousand different ways to tell them ‘Fuck You.’ And that’s what he’s going to do at the upcoming Dic-Off. That’s right, he knows he’s a dictator with the world firmly held in his small but powerful hands. But he’s done diccing around with that extraterrestrial arthropod called Cercopagis Lysis. At the Dic-Off, Earth’s five greatest warriors will go one on one with whatever sad sacks of shit the enemy convinced to hate you for your freedom. Earth is going to win, and then, by golly, everyone’s gonna get laid. Support your local Emperor, help build the greatest team this side of the Milky Way to kick those aliens off Earth… or else!”
It was really quite tasteful.
There may have been a miscalculation or two about those volcanoes. Just, ya know, a few problems with that many shockwaves, particularly the ones in the Pacific Ring of Fire. Between the somewhat minor damage to a few countries with coastal cities (who even needs an India anyways?), and the refusal of a few of the volcanoes to shut off properly, some people are starting to grumble and it almost looks like I did the job of my rival conquistador for him. It. Whatever.
I’m surprised the heroes haven’t stopped by to depose me. Or more villains. I’ve been idly wondering where they were. I expected more opposition to my rule at the very least. That’s not to say there haven’t been incidents. I just expected them to involve fights and confrontations. Maybe a bunch of Neo Nazis marching and hailing, hoping to take me out and take the throne. Or maybe some rogue hero, one that’s really pissed off, flying in to tear my head off out of nowhere. I can’t keep track of all of them. Even if I wasn’t so infamously self-centered, I have an entire world to look to and only so much time and attention to give it.
I stopped one little attempt, at least. I caught Lone Gunman trying to snipe me the other day. He had something done to flush himself out, which is probably why he looked so anemic. But even one tiny little nanomachine is enough, when you’ve got access to the entire world’s infrastructure. Rather than use it to kill him via application to certain parts of the brain, I went for a walk. I walked down to a hot dog vendor and leaned out of line just in time for the person in front of me to get hit. I dropped a coin to pay the man, and ducked down to get it. I stood up, and there was no more vendor, so I took my hot dog for free. And so on.
I know, me eat a hot dog? I’m truly a man of the people. And he’s a man with a tendency to kill lots of people while saving them.
That little story brings me to another point, though. The scarcity of nanites. They break down, get used up, or just pass out of a system over time. I’ve been doing my best to replenish the supply and distribute them. After all, people still get hurt, still go to the doctors, still need vaccinations. It’s more a matter of getting them into people at that point. Some physicians are willing to do it, since they are superior medical care. Others refuse. If I don’t my little guys inside them or their families and friends, there’s not a whole lot I can do. I can’t send Electric Eyes around to every single place, and there’s only so far people are willing to go to accommodate my efforts to resist the aliens.
That’s the problem with being an untrustworthy sociopath sometimes; even invoking an external threat is only going so far to help me out. The problem, I think, is that I didn’t enact a lot of purges beyond what I did to some of the political opposition. That, and I barely have a power structure in place, and while that ensures most decisions go through me, it also means that fewer people have a vested interest in their own government. Dammit, yet another thing. See? This is why originally I only meant to kill everyone who got a nanite instead of take over the world. This is the trouble my conscience causes when I let it.
Now, a lot of otherwise-reasonable people are acting with fear at the forefront of their minds. They’re afraid that more of them are infected or infested or whatever. So they go around with that doubt in their heads. Tina scraped her knee and it’s fine already? Must have nanites in her. Johnathon hurt his hand and keeps whining about it? Must be making a big show of it to try and hide that he’s being controlled, because most people don’t act out that much from a simple papercut. I’ve gone and turned most of the world into conspiracy theorists.
It’s tied to evolution, dear readers. Animals at any stage of the food tree need to figure out if they’re facing something that’s a threat. Recognizing patterns, sensing movement, yada yada. People sometimes start to see things that aren’t there due to a problem in the brain specifically; other times, it’s a product of fear. There’s a huge swath of people who operate from a fear-based mindset. It distorts their ability to think straight, causing them to take irrational actions and claim some huge percentage of the world is against them.
These are the types of people who already fear vaccines, think the nanites are in chemtrails, and worry that fluoride in the water is just a euphemism for vaccines. And, because of that fear, they are cowed. They will do what is asked of them for fear that the people around them will make them do it once it’s revealed that they aren’t also part of our happy little club.
Fear is the ultimate control on the human race. Give man fear, and he will police himself.
And sometimes, I have to justify that fear.
I know I’ve rambled on quite a bit, partially to set the mood and partially to gloat over what I’ve done to the people of Earth, but it has all led up to something.
In addition to flight and paralysis, fighting is another reaction to fear. I don’t give a damn if survivalists hole up and take potshots at police inasmuch as it requires me to redirect an entire force of one single solitary stealth bomber. Or someone who shoots at a cop at some big protest. Murder’s already against the law. They’re just hurting themselves acting like that.
But somebody attacked a nondescript factory in Japan. Due to all the recent wave activity, enough people failed to show up to work in that city I’m refusing to name. So it wasn’t just minor damage. They’re so obsessed with work in Japan, you’d think they were as bad as their Chinese neighbors. I actually think it’s pretty funny. In China, those down below are made to work to their deaths by those up above. In Japan, they don’t have to be so tyrannical because they convinced the people to work themselves to death.
And that’s why people from Japan don’t like me. Moving on.
I wouldn’t even care normally. I tried to force people to take vacation days and personal days, so it’s nice so many of them didn’t show. Plus, after a certain number of absences, they couldn’t have gotten any work done anyway. So I’m not angry about the missing workers, nor do I consider it suspicious.
That anyone knew the factory produced medical nanomachines? That part is suspicious. That’s the kind of opposition I didn’t expect, but that worries me. Because that means a hell of a lot fewer people are going to be affected, and that means someone’s thinking. As all dictators have known, people thinking is dangerous. I could get parts anywhere. Knock out one of the factories in China and I can afford to open up another one entirely to take up the slack in time. But all those pieces don’t mean a thing without quite a bit of refinement.
I had my local Electric Eye visit the plant to look at the devastation. A huge chunk of the wall had been cleanly removed. Not cut or blasted through. Not pulled out. There weren’t any scorch marks or bending that indicated that, according to the camera of the local Electric Eye. Turning to look to the interior of the room, it wasn’t difficult to discern the fate of the wall. It reminded me of the story I’ve heard that tornadoes could put a pine needle through a pine tree. But with thousands of shards of metal through conveyor belts, lasers, robotic arms, and other such pieces of the production line.
Not every machine, though. A number had been spared. The management insisted they could still work on the nanites for me. They forced some workers in and proceeded to fire up the machines and even gave me the first of this reduced batch for personal inspection. If they only worried about normal quality control, there wouldn’t have been an issue. But I decided to give them some orders. Being a little angry, I wanted them to jump out and eat the manager. They received the orders and sat there. They didn’t move at all, aside from some gentle sloshing from being carried.
I tried other orders. Nothing. I stuck Electric Eye’s hand inside and ordered them to form armor, a knife, metallic skin. Nada. I could go on. There’s a lot of fucking words for “no,” folks!
They didn’t just trash the place in a way that would make me abandon it and move production to another factory. They wanted me to think it’d been merely slowed down. Instead, they sabotaged the equipment. Programming in some, subtle physical alterations in others.
It wasn’t worth salvaging the place and it also showed that someone knew what the hell they were doing. A superhuman had been involved, but they probably had inside help.
“Has the entire workforce received their complementary nanite injections?” Eye asked the manager.
He bowed repeatedly. “Yes, yes.”
I didn’t have to worry about him lying, either. Such superb medical care that repaired past injuries, healed future ones, and could prevent illness had been seen as an incredible gift to the owners of this facility, who went so make every worker take them when I offered them as an incentive and reward. That frustrating Japanese politeness would insist they lie to me and claim they had used them anyway, but the owner had insisted on recording video of every single injection. I found it in the computer systems as I forced my way in to gain a complete listing of personnel. Sadly, no camera systems could help me find out if any of them were the culprits. Also destroyed. It wouldn’t have changed their fates.
Mindful of the degree of information warfare involved in the sabotage, I terminated the entire payroll.
Some hung themselves or jumped from buildings. A few hurled themselves in front of the high speed trains. I even got two at once when one of them stepped off the sidewalk right in front of another who drove a car. Some died by poison and some died by the bottle, but all of them died as a warning and a punishment. Though, when I saw one guy’s daughter, I also took the opportunity to ship her off to my next residence. She was quite honored to meet the Emperor of Earth at Windsor Palace.
If it comes to anyone’s surprise at this point that I’m evil…well, congratulations. Always nice to have a new reader, but you’d better start earlier.
You know who else was honored to meet the Emperor at Windsor? Our little space crustacean, or spacetacean, Cercopagis Lysis. Or at least round, rolling robot with a holographic projector on top. “Greetings! Behold the glory that is Cercopagis Lysis as I lower myself to speak directly to the presumptive ruler of my planet!” The tiny image of the armored alien reached up with its arms as if to embrace the very ham spewed forth from whatever it used as a mouth. Perhaps its asshole.
See, told y’all “presumptive ruler” felt condescending.
“Look, everyone, it’s the never-been king and all his hopes and dreams, here to visit us from his home planet of Wannabe. Here to whistle your apology like a scalded lobster?” I couldn’t help look over at the giant lobster in its tank that I’d received as a gift from supervillain The Claw.
“I am here to offer you a deal, for the good of all of us.”
“Except the ones who are dead,” I quickly interrupted. “Now, there’s no use crying while there’s science to do to clean up the results of our latest conflict.”
Cercopagis interrupted me again. “When I look outside my ship, it makes me glad I’m not you. You have made it clear the depths to which you will sink.”
I nodded. “Balls deep, man. Balls. Deep.”
“If this goes on much longer, we will destroy that which we both wish to hold within our grasp. Even if you win, you will force your people to the breaking point and they will break. I have seen what people due to a ruler they can no longer tolerate. It is not pretty. So perhaps we can resolve this with less violence. A contest.” He spread his arms, at that. I briefly wondered if his third arm also spread when he did that, or if he didn’t bother using it in the human gesture.
“You want me to give up my superior position to give you something like an even chance at taking over in an agreement that I doubt you’d be willing to uphold if you lose?” I asked, putting it into perspective.
“I have seen the riots broadcast from your satellites. I read about the fears of mankind. They will turn on you. You know this. I can not beat you now, but I can distract you and remain a threat until Earth’s mightiest superhumans rebel. In the ensuing chaos and destruction, your world will be unable to resist me. I merely have to wait until you lose, but then I would receive damaged goods. If you win in this contest, I will leave and you are free from the distraction I pose to consolidate your power.”
I leaned forward in the classic Thinker pose. “Color me intrigued, or perhaps robin’s egg blue. What do you have in mind?”
“A series of five fights. We each choose warriors to represent us. They fight, one at a time, until one of us reaches a majority of victories.”
Interesting idea, but I could see a few problems. “Including supers? That’ll present some balance issues. We’d have to let the other see our rosters as we build them. And I didn’t think you had too many people with you in that ship of yours.”
“I have some of my own, and old allies on your world.” He crossed his arms. “I trust there will be no retaliation against Earthlings who fight for me?”
I shrugged. “Eh, sure. I will not lay my hands upon them, not even a digit.” Might shove my foot up their asses, though. “The balance issue is still a big deal. We might as well throw the biggest hammers at each other.”
“From the information I have gleaned about you, you know that basic ideas of power levels are irrelevant to how well one performs in battle. I have spoken with one ally I would enter into this contest and he imparted an idea on me. Our rosters will be secret until all are gathered, then we can adjust it. One of us picks a fighter and the other team decides who to send to fight after having time to deliberate on it and decide who would be the best for that situation.”
“I’m not sure that does anything at all about the balance issue, and I don’ t like the idea of my team voting on anything. You think I’m going to game the system.” I wagged my finger at the holographic display.
He nodded. “You would. I would. Neither of us will. In this way, our fighters will have motivation to think and fight. I would dislike it if one of my team stepped outside and surrendered against my will because you decided to utilize a far stronger opponent. This gives them an opportunity.”
“But still leaves us picking the most powerful, in all likelihood. I have another idea. The team that votes also gets to decide the venue of the fight.”
Cercopagis thought it over briefly, then said, “Agreed. Any further rule revisions?”
“No, but I’m sure we’ll both come up with things as we pick our teams.”
“So you are agreed.”
I nodded. The spectacle would also help. Competition often brings people together, and the sides are clearly “Earth” via “Alien Invader”. They’ll eat it up. It’ll be like the Olympics. Well, except the Olympics are going on right now. It’ll be like the Olympics mixed with Mortal Kombat and a dash of Marvel’s Civil War. At the risk of comparing it to the Olympics again, though, I’m going to cheat my ass off to make sure I win, because Cercopagis does have a point about people’s willingness to put up with me.
And now my giant lobster has a new round, robotic squeeze toy to play with.
Busy week, busy week. Avoided matchmakers, done more work on the robot, thwarted another plot by Cercopagis, AND had a bit of a party. Things got a bit hot and sweaty, in other words.
First off, I got to get my hands back in the game. It almost makes it seem like I’m not doing anything useful if I’m not hands-on, though I suppose that’s the downside of being Emperor of Earth. That, and The Claw’s taken it on himself to insist, according to his duty, that I need to work on having an heir as soon as possible. He even knows a few likely candidates. The crazy Japanese crime boss who murdered her own parents and holds her own against the Yakuza by sheer ferocity almost sounds like a winner, but something tells me she’s not the domestic type. Then again, I don’t know what I want in a woman beyond not betraying me. I suppose actually caring about her as a person would be nice for a change.
I don’t trust The Claw to arrange me a baby momma anyway. I knock up some woman, and then I die under mysterious or, hell, inevitable circumstances. Claw claims that the baby has a right to rule, and he uses the baby as an excuse to grab onto the power. Ya know, holding onto it until the kid is old enough. If he even let the kid stick around, he or she’d just be a puppet.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, I’m getting enough offers from the public. There’s plenty of people attracted to wealth, power, infamy, and “that hot, evil ass,” to quote someone. I’m half-convinced that was Technolutionary continuing to obsess over me.
Unfortunately, more than a few people have noticed my tendency to bring things back around to Venus. She would not be amused by the lookalikes emailing me their photos, wearing masks and little else. I think I recognized a couple of them. The boobs, I mean. The women had masks on.
That doesn’t mean I’m not getting any male attention. I got dick pics out the wazoo, and a few pictures of male wazoos, too. It’s just that there’s less pressure on me to get involved with them due to the whole “founding a dynasty” thing.
It’s weird, it takes up too much of my time, and they’re all only begging for my baby juice because I saved the world. Believe it or not, most of them don’t care that I upped the ante and almost crashed us into the moon. That’s just one of those crazy people things. Sadly, I’ve received no interest from Andreja Pejic, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Beth Riesgraf or Felicia Day.
Enough about love. I mentioned earlier my hands were busy, then went on a tangent about women sending me dirty pictures. In retrospect, this may have given people the wrong image about me. I meant to talk more about getting my hands dirty assembling pieces of my robot and its armament. This planet isn’t as far along technologically as the one I came from, so it’s been almost impossible getting the factory teams to churn out a good electro-rifle. I had to settle on shoulder-mounted Tesla Coils instead. Aiming them is a simple matter of manipulating ions.
On the plus side, the goo spewer is functioning perfectly. It fires a mixture of gunk that ignites after a couple seconds of contact with the air. The ammunition’s a bit tricky to make and store, but I know a thing or two about chemistry. After all, I’ve got people sending me naked pictures. And again, if anyone over there is considering it, breeding age is important. Even if I was a cougar hunter, post-menopause means no heirs!
Yep, diving in and assembling my giant robot helped to put me at ease, especially once I ignored the cries and pleas of my subjects. All inquiries were to be formally logged with either zone representatives or a member of the Thirteen Electric Eyes.
It’s been so long since I had the joy of throwing a giant foot together. Hell, even my armor is formulaic. Stagnant. I need to upgrade it as well. I’ll never have the time if I have to constantly worry about threats like playing moon chicken or solving global warming.
Ah, yes, that brings me to the other attempt by Cercopagis Lysis. I have, on a whim, looked at plans for reversing climate change. It’s one of those major problems I always thought proved the folly of mankind. Even the ones with enough sense to admit its happening sometimes claim that there’s no proof mankind had a hand in it, then somehow use that to reckon that there’s nothing mankind can do about it.
In fact, I just took a moment to order in a pair of grabber drones. Like a claw machine, the great hand of his new god has moved to pluck him out of the detritus…and they are flying to drop him off on an iceberg. No, wait. I’ll redirect them toward polar bear country. Poor bastards have already lost enough of their land, might as well throw the bears a bone. Or an entire skeleton, why not?
So I have had it in the back of my mind that that’s one of the things I needed to fix, but I’ve avoided doing anything about it with all the other concerns, like expanding Earth’s food resources to accomodate continued population growth or handling Earth’s energy needs.
Here’s what happened. Cercopagis’s moon base fired a large laser that burned brief but intense. It flashboiled part of the ocean north of Russia, but that’s not all it did. According to some people who don’t get paid enough to put up with all this shit, as anyone who looks into research grants would know, that rapidly melted a huge layer of permafrost on the seabed and released a lot of methane.
“However he did it, it’s incredible he didn’t set it all off!” the fellow told me over the phone.
Hmm. Have to file that idea away under “Scorched Earth,” for whenever I get booted off my throne.
Such a rapid escalation in greenhouse gasses was set to have a pretty big effect, but it got worse when additional beams struck from the moon over the course of the next few hours. The calls of the climatologists got frantic until, my last time, they didn’t pick up at all. Surveillance showed they’d degenerated into an orgy. For scientists measuring something that could have a catastrophic effect on humanity, that’s a bad sign. That’s the literal “Fuck It,” level of danger.
I needed a solution, fast. Gradual wouldn’t do it. That idea some people had, to float a hose and pump sulfur into the atmosphere? Too small scale for me. I needed a hell of a lot more than that. I needed…bombs.
You know that quote about a room full of monkeys pounding randomly at typewriters and the works of Shakespeare? I needed a bunch of monkeys to pound away at a series of devices built quickly and to my specifications.
Take an F-Bomb and make it bigger, heat resistant, and louder. A hell of a lot louder. Forget shattering skyscrapers. These things are practically nukes of the sonic bomb world. I built thirty all across the world. Again, this took away from building parts for the giant robot, but I can’t use a giant robot to stop the rapid increase of global warming. Laser-induced permafrost farting got me into this mess, but it’d take more than just breaking wind to get the Earth out of it. To save the world, I needed to break the earth. In a good way. At least, in a survivable way.
I bombed several active volcanoes around the world to open up holes. Then, I flew in the Earth Breakers. Not me, myself, personally. I had lots of helicopters. Some for the Earth Breakers, others were firefighting copters loaded with just water. I dropped in the Earth Breakers next and let them sink away.
Then came a series of blasts that were very much not silent, but still quite deadly. Along with creating an opening, the bombing runs messed with some of the pressure on the magma. The Earth Breakers loosened up a lot more rocks, opened up pathways to more magma, and formed bubbles. Then came the firefighter helicopters that flew in and dumped water into the same holes the Earth Breakers fell through.
The pilots didn’t wait around for my orders to get the hell out of there, not that I blamed them. The timing in how I did things isn’t an exact science, but things paid off quickly enough that they were likely grateful I assigned them brown pants with yellow stripes for mission uniforms.
All around Earth, in almost all of the volcanoes I bombed and watered, wonderful seeds of salvation bloomed. Or should I say, eruptions. Boom, bitch, get out the way!
And that, dear readers, is the recipe for Psycho Gecko’s special, most realistic Volcano Cake. Don’t try it at home, unless you don’t want the home. I don’t recommend eating it unless you need more sulfur in your diet. And all it required was a drastic increase in aerial particulates to absorb or reflect sunlight so it can’t reach ground level and become trapped on Earth.
Sure, a lot of doom-sayers came out of the woodwork over the combination of rapid methane release and then huge volcanic eruptions around the world, but my administration has been a boon for anybody profiting from such things. Gun stores, churches, televangelists, gold sellers, survivalist profiteers, and all that mess. Joel Osteen ought to name his latest private jet after me, if he even bothers naming them anymore. I am the anti-Christ, according to some people. Then again, religion’s full of the kinda people who think the others are evil for taking the wrong day of the week off. It doesn’t particularly scare me to be called such. If anything wants to smite me, it knows where I’m staying: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. It’s a big, white house.
The climatologists got back to me on another phone call, out of breath from their apocalyptic sexual escapades, and confirmed that I did, indeed, save the world again. From both alien-made climate change and man-made climate change. So, having done yet another good deed through an act that otherwise would have been something to ransom the world with, I set about throwing a little ball.
Y’all know me. I like holding balls. And this one wasn’t for charity or for fancy dress. No, this time I held my ball for pleasure. It was a good way to let off steam. Ya know, for people, since the planet just let off a lot of steam. Besides, some people were beginning to catch on to the fact that I’m unlikely to do anything to kill myself, which at least hints at the possibility of their survival.
So I got washed up, tossed some stuff in my armor to work on the smell, and went out to have myself the first get-together in the White House Presidential ballroom that ever featured AC-DC since Nancy Reagan brought all those pot brownies. The things you learn with access to all those confidential files.
At last, the Great and Devious Psycho Gecko has come back to the United Nations! The compound, at least. The organization doesn’t really exist anymore.
It seemed a good public place to answer the challenge from Cercopagis Lysis. It’s part of the nature of men like me and things like him. See, most criminals are in it for money. I’m not talking people who get caught with a few ounces of marijuana or heroin. I get no kick from cocaine. Muggers, identity thieves, con artists, burglars, and so on, they’re in it for money.
You don’t see many people in jail for running a red light. That’s more a matter of convenience, true. Others are crimes of passion. Somebody gets mad, and someone else ends up beaten or killed. Those folks are little better than a dog scratching at a door in a thunderstorm; people whose brains are slaves to animal instinct. Same for the sex criminals. Then they get out of prison and can’t find jobs. They’ve gotten used to an antagonistic relationship with the rest of society. Their friends and even family abandoned them, but at least they bonded with other people in jail. Other people who were in for robbing, burglarizing, and so on.
I am not part of that group. I’m part of a group that cares more about greatness and audacity; inspiring fear and having fun. That’s the sort of criminal who puts on a costume and announces their crime via the United Nations. The kind of criminal who doesn’t want the money. They want the world. Which sounds somewhat romantic until you remember it puts me in the same category as the crazies and the politicians, but that’s being redundant. As a world leader, I count as one of those already. And I’m increasingly beginning to suspect that, despite my earlier firm handle on mental health, I might be a politician too.
I say all this not to justify myself or anything like that, but to explain why it is that I felt in no way phased by a crustacean from another world calling up the entire planet from his hidden moon base. If anything, that’s part of what makes my life so great.
So, this announcement of yet another damn alien?
“People of Earth, I am Cercopagis Lysis, your future ruler.” A bit generic. There needs to be a better way of putting “future ruler.” As someone who has been there before, I know “Presumptive Ruler” sounds condescending. He spoke out from televisions, computers, and radios all over Earth. The radio listeners just couldn’t see him sitting in what looked like the bridge of his ship, a panel of instruments before him. He looked much the same as when his robotic decoy visited: platinum-colored armor plates, a helmet with one horn and one tusk, three arms, all that jazz.
“Your planet has been ravaged by invaders and now by the deranged madman known as Psycho Gecko. I bring you security.” There’s the carrot. THE carrot. Security. You can get anyone to do anything as long as you say it’s about security. Trust me, I know what desperate lengths someone will go to save their own lives. It’s the ultimate way to get people to do what you want. Just highlight all the ways things seem less secure, and abuse it. It’s easy to spot once you know the trick.
“And so it is with a heavy gluback that I must persuade Psycho Gecko to step down…by crashing the moon into your planet. Everything will be fine so long as he steps down and allows me to take his place. He must do what is right for you, or you must do it for him. You have five hours to comply.” He pulled a lever, then pushed a button to end the transmission.
And with that, the moon accelerated. I saw it coming, though the frantic calls of the astronomers made it even clearer. Well, I couldn’t let that shit stand, so I had the folks at Area 51 strap a hell of a lot of helicopters to the anti-gravity engine of the alien spaceship and start flying over to Empyreal City. It couldn’t carry itself in its current state with the changes I made to it. I suppose the human scientists helped a little bit, especially after one of their contracted technicians walked out on his job. Probably thought I was bluffing, not killing him outright with the nanites.
He likely thought different when he got home and took a knife to his husband and son, then himself. I didn’t wait until the next day, with the news. Nope. I let, some might even say “forced,” the rest of the Area 51 team to watch it. Sadly, nobody else wanted popcorn. Can’t say I blame them. Tools kept slipping out of my borrowed fingers for awhile after that.
I brought my own body to Empyreal City to meet it. I didn’t expect Carl to meet me there, though it surprised me when Moai texted back that he was watching after Carl. I tried to get ahold of my old assistant, Crash, but apparently she died in the invasion. There had apparently been quite the lavish funeral. I must have missed my invite.
Oh well, there’s a truckload more where she came from. I’m sure I’ll be invited to some funeral. Maybe an important one next time. Maybe I’ll arrange for Morgan Freeman to have an accident. No, wait…I need him to narrate the hit movie about my life.
The procession from the Imperial plane started with a line of Rio Carnivale women in the bright feather outfits. Sadly, the North Korean twins “forgot” the similar outfits I got for them. Shame. I thought they were more obedient than all that. Still, totally worth it to take that detour down to South America.
My security was handled by a small swarm of Buzzkills, humanoid bee-like people. Their exoskeleton served as black armor for them, and many used giant handheld stingers as swords. Beetrice, their queen, was more than happy to take my calls, especially after finding out I have guy parts again. She’s had a thing for me, keeps wanting me to father the next thousand or so eggs. Something like that. You wouldn’t think insects and mammals could do that, but she’s been pumping this shy guy who used to handle Human Resources for his. I guess you could say he’s now the head of her Human Resources.
The twins and I rode out on a flying Persian rug…or at least a Persian rug being carried by real Persians, chosen for both strength of arm and awesomeness of beard. I’m sure they resented me making them wear the poofy pants and the giant turbans. A Chinese paper dragon ran all around this little parade because I wanted one. I’m Emperor. If I want a paper dragon running around when I walk into a room for an important meeting at the UN with my various zone representatives, I damn well get a paper dragon. Pulling the rear, I had some guys wheel in the giant lobster tank.
I may not have a real dragon for a parade, but at least I have a really big shellfish. And if The Claw thinks his little bribe helped put him in charge of a zone…then he’s right. This thing is cool as polar bear shit.
Well, I went into the big meeting room, which seemed much less full these days. Oh, they wanted to keep up with the meetings of diplomats, despite me telling them the countries no longer existed. Naturally, I used great tact to put a stop to that. I am known for my tact, after all. Such as when the Area 51 folks landed the engine in the courtyard, then blew open the wall of the building so the cameras could get a good view of it as well as me.
“Ladies and gentlemen of Earth!” I started off. “I am your current ruler, not some wannabe who couldn’t even be bothered to save you from the aliens.”
As I went on, the some officers from the Air Force wheeled in a podium with a steering wheel and shifter on it. “And while that asshole up there shouldn’t get Earth because he’s the one who sent the Fluidics here in the first place, I have a much better reason why he’s not going to have it.”
I stepped over to the new podium and turned a set of keys. Outside, the engine groaned a couple of times. “One moment, it’s used…” I tried it again, and it finally turned over. At the same time, other engines positioned around the world also activated. I couldn’t just stick them all in one place and turn them on, not with something as big as the planet. Their geographical distribution worked to my advantage in keeping the planet whole. Wouldn’t want anything to happen to the Earth, after all.
“Now then, I have just activated a series of devices that will accelerate the Earth toward the moon, because I give as many fucks as a panda. Can’t threaten a sociopath like myself into hurting my dear Earthicans that easily, Cercopagis. You now have two and a half hours to surrender and begin moving the moon back into place, or I will move heaven, or at least Earth, to get to that damn moon and kick your ass personally.” I moved the shifter, putting the Earth into drive. I hardly felt a thing, being that close, but I could tell from all the people I possess that those further out from the engines could feel at least an uncomfortable shudder as the Earth began moving.
Behind me, the United Nations’ giant monitor lit up with the alien at his control console. “You fool! You’ll kill yourself and everyone else!”
“Exactly what you wanted. What’s a matter, Cercopagis…chicken?” I flapped my arms. “Bawk bawk bawk, ba-CAW!”
He growled and pushed another lever on his console all the way forward. “Oh yeah? Well you now have one hour and fifteen minutes to surrender, or I’ll go ahead and do it!”
I stomped on the podium’s clutch and shifted again. “Thirty-seven minutes, thirty seconds. The ball’s in your court, alien freak!”
He pushed a third lever. “Eighteen minutes, forty-five seconds! You wouldn’t destroy the world out of such desperation, I know it.”
“Ha! You really don’t know me. I’ve already tried to destroy one world. People need a man of principle like me. They know I won’t take their shit.” I shifted gears, then reached over to push a button. The CD player started up, with the sound of “The End Of The World As We Know It.” I grinned beneath my helmet, not that he could see it, and added, “Nine minutes, twenty-two and-, no just twenty-one seconds now.”
Despite the sound of the music, I heard people all over the world cry out in great pain and anguish as the end began. People prayed and looted. I just stared up into the eyes of the alien conqueror.
Maybe he ran out of levers. Probably I was right about his unwillingness to go all the way. He pulled the levers back with one hand, the other frantically turning a wheel. “Alright! You win this round, Psycho Gecko, but this is not over yet!”
I laughed and joked, “Did the Earth move for you too, baby?” I only downshifted after the astronomers got off their smelly, shit-stained asses to confirm he was reestablishing lunar orbit. Things generally got a bit more orgy-like around Earth once I won the game of stellar chicken. There was a party atmosphere everywhere. I felt like naming it a national holiday even before one particularly dignified and self-controlled astronomer came forward to message me. Due to my little game, it’s now projected to take Earth 366 and one-quarter days for the Earth to orbit the sun.
Happy Emperor Gecko day, Earth!
Still no giant robot. Delays. None of the places are designed to build giant robot parts specifically. Car parts, airplane parts, trains, small robots, but not giant hulking machines of menace. I have to keep overseeing them to get anything produced at anything close to a reasonable speed, and now they’re claiming quality control issues. The way this is going, they’ll have to produce enough for two robots just so I can get one in working order.
All that in the middle of moving, too. I decided to head to a stronger location. Turns out, the Dutch Royal Family has their own bunker. A good, sturdy Cold War bunker built to survive nukes. I had a dream about Cercopagis dropping the moon on me, ya see. I only had a few days to stop it by going around and awakening or empowering four superhumans on Captain Lightning’s power level to stop it, except I kept screwing it up and the moon would hit the Earth. Then I’d wake up and it’d be the start of the three days again.
I know that a lot of the folks where I’m from don’t think much about Cold War bunkers in Europe, but that was one of the most important places to build a stronghold like that. This one had been repurposed as storage. Probably not the strangest thing such a structure has been used for.
I also called up all the zone representatives to inform them of the State of the Tyranny. Or at least to let them know more about the situation. I don’t have to tell them anything, but I couldn’t control the information after my televised destruction of what turned out to be a robotic double.
I used modified holodiscs to work out the whole thing. Mine pretty much showed all the names, zones, and rough geographic areas covered by said zones in some sort of giant chatroom. Their end showed my face. “Greetings from the giant head who controls your world! No, my name is not Richard, before anyone asks. Ok, so we’ve got a bit of a conflict on our hands here. I’m sure y’all have seen it. Cercopagis Lysis had something to do with the Fluidics stopping by so he could show up and rescue Earth from alien conquest and pretend to be a more benevolent ruler. Blah, blah, blah. At least I waited until the crisis was over, but why are we bothering to imagine I have any standards anyway?”
Multiple names lit up to signify that people wanted to address me. I decided future holodiscs used for these purposes would have either text-to-speech capability or attached keyboards. One by one, I opened up more direct communication with them…
“You’re a moron!”
“You don’t know what you’re doing!”
“You’re stupid, nobody loves you, and you deserve to die alone!”
…and, having yelled that at some of them, the others began to withdraw their desire to speak to me. Then I composed myself. “I’m trying to bring you all on board, so help me help you by shutting up. He wants to rule you, and it’s hard to rule over a bunch of corpses. Believe me, I’ve tried.You, he wants alive. Me, he wants dead. Typically, cessation of life is the big political equalizer. And, as the phrase ‘Who died and made you king?’ indicates, it’s a decent method of promotion as well. Still, some of you doubt my qualifications as emperor. No, scratch that. You don’t doubt my qualifications. Not since people I’m unhappy with sometimes drop dead. You doubt my competency to rule. And maybe there’s something to that. But what I want to establish to you all here and now is simply… I don’t give a rat’s pampered ass about any of you.”
I paused to smile, practically hearing the responses die in their would-be speakers’ throats.
“I have eyes and ears everywhere…and I can’t stand y’all. I can’t fix y’all. Taken as a whole, the human race is worse than I could ever be. It killed any desire I had to serve it and justified all my darkest criticisms. But. But, I took over. I am the ruler. You are all mine now. And as much as you may hate me, this big, dark universe has a few problems with y’all existing. So do others like me. They have a point, but you’re mine. So you’re going to get the benefit of being my people. I don’t care if I have to blow up the moon and build a replica in its place to keep the dies under control, I will wipe that asshole off the face of the Earth!”
Suddenly, an alert came up. Panicking astronomers were tracking something very unusual.
“Sorry folks,” I broke up the assembly early. “Looks like Cercopagis is trying to manipulate the moon so as to throw off the tides. This assembly will be reconvened after this has been dealt with, or never. Depends on how successful I am. Just try to keep people in line so I don’t have to kill too many of them. Feel free to crucify people. Ciao.”
After leaving them with official orders to keep the peace, I took a break from spying on everyone and being a bad boss so I could check in with the people who keep their heads in the clouds. I had two, then three, then six observatories reporting in: since Cercopagis had arrived, the moon’s orbit had shifted. Not much, just slightly.
I didn’t know what even a slight shift meant for tides, and the alarmism of some of them made me take over their own hands and give them a slap to pull themselves together. One fellow had been reduced to a ball of tears curled up in the fetal position until I took over his female colleague’s body and gave him five fingers ‘cross the face. It took three times to get him to shut up, at which point I said, “Now call me ‘Daddy’.”
Nice as it was to be a woman again, I can do that anytime now. I can be almost any man, woman, child, or elderly person. I still have to wait for the experts to explain things to me that I don’t know. Like how a minor disruption in orbit can easily snowball into something bigger, since the point of a stable orbit is that something won’t fall to Earth. If Cercopagis kept it up, he could threaten the Earth with it.
I doubt it, but it’d make a great bluff for him. Certain death versus uncertain death, at least in the eyes of the little people. And I know what’s in their eyes.
I’m a part of them. Sometimes, I sneak into them when they need help. They might ask in a prayer, or when exasperated. “Please not today!” isn’t a prayer per se, but it’s still a cry for help. And all they have to do is get my attention. Let me in. Be cured of all their physical ails and potentially share their body with me. I’ve taken final exams, given big speeches. Hell, the other day I even gave birth for this one lady. She wanted to scream and claw. I might have felt like it too in her position. It was certainly an experience, though one I didn’t have to feel. And, after I finally squeezed that kid out of my body and I held it in my arms, I stared the doctor dead in the eye and told him, “Bring me some of the nanites. We’d better inoculate this kid.”
I didn’t release control of the woman until after they’d dropped a few into the kid. She broke down a bit then, finally getting to let out the pain she’d been going through, though it disappointed me the way she stared down at my chubby little cheeks with fear. You’d think every parent would want a baby that didn’t scream its head off. I didn’t stay like that long, but it got me to thinking. I wonder if that baby would ever develop its own personality if I controlled it constantly? Would it even know what to do with its own freedom? Interesting questions, but not ones worth answering.
And, before people start thinking I’m some baby-possessing creep, I’d like to point out that I did normal, selfish things with these abilities. Like sex. All kinds of sex. And foreplay. And romance. Dating. I don’t know, maybe these humans are starting to grow on me. They don’t look half as ugly as I remember, though that still means they don’t look half as good as they think they do.
I’ve been all of them. Mother and father and child. Lover. Criminal and victim. These people are MINE. They may be so messed up that I can’t fix all of them, but I will not give them over to someone else.
I needed to do more than just supervise a robot. I wasn’t too sure about the whole dimension bomb business again, either. A little bit of study while building the last one turned up that it might leave something like a scar and have some sort of cumulative effect. That would be bad, to put it mildly. I don’t know how bad, but somewhere in the range of Elder Gods and Great Old Ones showing up en masse. Or even worse, my ex.
So I figured I’d call up the folks at Area 51. I have their number now. I knew them, and several others, had access to alien ships from our most recently completed invasion. The Fluidic ships that landed on Earth weren’t outright atomized, and they had some very valuable parts.
“Someone’s coming down with a case of psychosis!” I announced as I took over the body of a female air force officer at Area 51. Damn, she had a comfy chair. U.S. Air Force likes to live it large. Big screen TV, kickass chair, and an alienware computer. Not the brand, Alienware, but a computer made partially out of extraterrestrial hardware. I went all tappity tappity tap tap to look up where they kept the captured alien ships.
It struck me on the way down the hallway that there was a great irony in all this now. Area 51 has long been rumored to be a secret area known for messing with aliens, but that’s just the popular rumor. In reality, the place does secret aircraft research. People started seeing lights moving faster than any planes could, or flying around in unusual ways…well, ta da! When they had a choice between putting people’s unfounded fears of extraterrestrial visitation at ease or keeping military hardware secrets from the Soviets, well, they leaked a fake autopsy video and never looked back.
Now, because of that focus on aerial superiority, they actually had become home to the greater part of the United States’ alien ship research, and the most obvious one for me to find out. The Australians just got theirs, and The Claw’s people are tight-lipped, but I’ll find others. I’m going to need a few.
At first, armed guards tried to stop me from entering the hangar hosting the specific ship section I looked up, but I held up my hand and made them choke. “My name is Psycho Gecko, Emperor of Earth, and I will see these vessels.”
It’s important to work on your dictatorial diction. Really adds a little extra oomph when you need authority. Not too many people get away with going, “How y’all doin’? My name’s Empr’er Jed and I welcome ya to the big house. Y’all’s just in time to watch me execute some people. Yeehaw!”
First time I host public executions at a mansion I confiscate, I’m totally doing that anyway.
The guards, once let go, tried to stop me anyway, but I stopped them and made them say, “Yes, Emperor Gecko.” That convinced them, though I gotta give them credit for the attempt to stop me before that. Strong sense of duty.
“Good men. I need folks like y’all in my army. Now, escort me in, announce me, and round up someone in a lab coat. I got some work to do.”
The hangar wasn’t quite the flurry of activity I expected, and the researchers and technicians studying the thing dressed a bit more casual. Fine by me. Pantless Wednesday was coming up, after all.
The guards brought me one fellow in a shirt and tie who looked a bit nervous at being called before me. I tried to set him at ease with a little laughter. Just something to humanize me more. Unfortunately, my cackling at the sight of the alien engines before me had the opposite effect.
“Sir…ma’am, your highness, to what do we owe the pleasure?” He held his hands behind his back to keep from wringing them in front of me.
I gestured toward the engine with a nod. “I’ve got another plan in the works to deal with a new alien troublemaker, but I’ve got a little something else in mind in case that one is delayed for too long. How well does that engine work?”
“How well? That depends on what you’re hoping to do with it.”
I walked toward it, hands held out wide. “I plan to get a few more to help with this, so take into account you’ll be working with more than one. I aim to play chicken, you see. How difficult would it be to use these to move, oh, an entire planet about Earth’s size and mass?”
Now that I’ve got my swagger back, this whole “ruling the Earth” thing has finally become fun. I still have the nightmares and the odd flashback, but it’s easier to deal with again. That’s the difference between me and all those hero types content to make the world by playing cops and robbers: one bad day…followed by a lot of good ones. What the hell was I worried about, that the same dimwits I’ve accused of misruling the world would hate me for how I do it? Worst case scenario, I kill a lot of people. I don’t know how I’d ever live with myself.
Now one thing I couldn’t very well live with is losing the planet to every alien shrimp. Cercopagis Lysis. His ship drifted in, the egg-shaped oval core easily identified from its numerous incursions since the 1970s augmented with various extra modules added over time. He had painted the exterior, but the newest segments obscured it, and exposure to stars and dust had altered it away from the bright yellow and green paintjob. He brought his ship to the moon, where the elongated portion split open to provide a foundation for the rest of the vessel.
In that time, I tried to build a giant robot. It wasn’t hard someone like myself who has thrown a few together in the past. Such a project would hardly stand out on my original Earth, not so much for the frequency of giant robots as the heavy and varied activity of the industrial areas. On this world, I never managed the same giant robot activity. Harder to cover up.
And why, given all the impracticalities, would I or anyone from my planet use giant robots? I believe it originated in the use of some sort of energy field surrounding the planet. Maybe magic, maybe just something standard science doesn’t understand. A few beings of various backgrounds managed to tap into this energy field and use it to construct weaponry that, at first, surpassed those of the time. Technology quickly caught up and emulated the earlier designs, which proved amazingly resilient to tripping, bombing, and artillery.
I didn’t need some mystical energy field. I knew what alloys to use in the proper places. The problem was getting everything on this Earth prepared. I hadn’t given them a lot of lead time on the project, so the factories I’d confiscated were scrambling to alter their production lines to accommodate the new design. It took me a day to free up the proper materials, too. Under the right circumstances, I’m more than capable of building a giant robot out of wood. That doesn’t mean it’ll last very long, even if I used mahogany. Though, without wood, I’ll be unable to charge the “Mah Agony” beam, so that one’s out. A bit of a last ditch weapon anyway.
The plants I communicated with decided to solve the time-sensitive nature of the request by bringing on more people to work day and night. I solved the issue of incentive by telling them successful completion would lead to less necessary time working. I wish I could take credit for that one, but I discovered post-flashback that I’d forgotten a concept to ease people into post-scarcity by easing up on the work hours for less desirable jobs while allowing them to be paid the same as if they worked a normal shift. Not that we’re post-scarcity yet, but at least they listened to me this time. Though if they’re all going to keep using a money system, I should go ahead and throw my face on the bills.
Really, the economic incentive merely provided the carrot. A brilliant man like myself doesn’t believe in ruling by the stick. No, no, no. I believe in shoving the carrot up someone’s ass if they don’t do what I say and quietly informed the managers involved that failure meant termination, usually within the presence of a grabber drone demonstrating its ability to squeeze a cinder block to dust.
That was the military position I found myself in when Cercopagis Lysis paid me a visit. The physical position itself looked different, as I’d expected his visit and redecorated my throne room with a nice rug, more lights, and a trio of North Korean dancing girls. The throne didn’t look very regal either; I forced the producers of the TV show Game of Thrones to lend me the Iron Throne. I added a nice pillow to make it more comfortable, then sent off a request for a new formal throne.
The last one built for me didn’t quite suit my style with the whole “hero torn apart” motif, but this one made to resemble a bunch of swords gave me an idea. Soon, I shall rest my world-dominating buttocks upon a work of art. It shall depict me in my armor fighting and defeating a number of the world’s most well-known superheroes, arranged into a comfy chair. I’ve already ordered the people at Dr. Scholls to study the effects of their gel cushions on the human ass. If they fail, I’ll examine the effects of their gel cushions on the interior of their asses. That’s what we in the tyrant business call motivation.
I counted on Cercopagis wishing to address me conqueror to conqueror, or otherwise being so arrogant as to gloat. I knew he he’d do this because I, the Great and Devious Psycho Gecko, have such an astounding ability to predict my opponents’ actions! Which reminds me, better make sure the contest for control of Earth has nothing to do with chess.
Also, note to self: make sure the statue throne gives me the absolutely correct huge bulge in the crotch region. Unless they decide to have me sit on my own lap.
Indeed, my humble palace at The Hague soon shuddered under the arrival by Cercopagis, who I saw descend in a smooth, golden sphere. Six pieces of the outer sphere peeled away and bent down to serve as legs for the ship to land on. Then one portion of the exterior rippled and reformed into an escalator that carried the conqueror in his warsuit.
It looked like segmented armor made of platinum with a gold tinge most noticeable at the sides where the plates weren’t looked at straight on. It had two larger toes with a third facing backward. The hands copied this three-digit look, all three of them. The third stretched out of the being’s back and stuck out through a solid dark red shell that hun down to resemble a rigid cape. Portions of the shell crossed over the front to resemble thick X-shaped straps. The shell continued and formed the back portion of a helmet. The face appeared the same platinum color as the rest of the armor, in the shape of a scowling visage that looked quite normal for humans save the single tusk and single and single horn that, from the side, made the helmet resemble a weird crescent moon.
Yes, a helmet. Unlike the Fluidics, Cercopagis couldn’t originally breath on Earth. He used to wear a helmet all the time, though the records also say it’s extraneous at this point as he’s incorporated a cybernetic filter into his circulatory system. If only I could crack that little system, this whole situation would be much easier. I checked him over on approach and found nothing giving off any signals except something in an alien system that bounced between him and the moon. I’m not the only one who likes to have a trick lined up just in case.
He stepped into my small, rather plain room and looked around. Whether befuddled by the lack of pomp and ceremony or the dearth of defenses, he took longer than I expected to take on little ol’ me on the throne in my armor, the Koreans sitting next to me on floor cushions.
“Greetings, Cercopagis Lysis!” I held my hand up high like a toast. “Are you perhaps here to play the world’s largest game of pinball?”
The armored alien bastard regarded me silently for a long second, then said, “Who are you?”
Ouch. That hurts. Gonna need some aloe for that burn. “I am the Great and Devious Psychopomp Gecko, Supreme Benevolent Dictator of Earth. If you’ve come to see a parade thrown in my honor, you’re just in time. I’ve been waiting for a reason to throw one.”
He paused again, I guess taking in the turn of events. When he finally spoke this time, he said, “I expected someone else.”
“That made it easier for me to sneak around and pull it off, true. Though, who exactly did you expect to be in control of Earth right now?” I turned to the side so my upper body rested on one armrest and legs on another.
Cercopagis raised his chin, then brought it back down. I didn’t understand the gesture in this context. “I am here to liberate Earth from its evil conquerors and install myself as the better choice of ruler. Where are the Liquoids who installed you?”
“Liquoids? Are you talking about those aliens with slimy black fluid bodies and a nasty habit of using mind control? Ridiculous name for them.” I suddenly decided to televise this meeting with a five minute delay. Fuck censorship, the delay’s there to make me look better. Fill in gaps for comebacks, maybe autotune my voice.
“I made sure they received knowledge of Earth, particularly the one known as Adolf Hitler. They were quite taken with his philosophy and example. He makes a fine ambassador for Earth and convinced them you humans would be a ruthless tool in their desire for revenge. So where are they?!” He raised a foot and slammed it into the floor, cracking tiles that didn’t do anything wrong to him.
I shrugged. “I killed ’em.”
“You and what army?” he asked.
“Not the Nazi army, that’s for sure. I didn’t like the idea of being invaded. Neither did the rest of the planet. Their hearts, my mind, your ruined plans. I got Earth prepared, Earth fought, the Fluidics lost. It sounds like you had quite an idea there: you directed them here, figured we’d bloody each other, then you’d show up at the last minute and take over the place, maybe look like a better option than the Fluidics. Mind control and world domination; I find you despicable.”
I am the kind of guy that gives speechwriters a job, talking all haphazard like that. Though, I told the truth about finding him and the Fluidics despicable. It’s a general principle that anybody trying to control the world who isn’t me is wrong. Tell me if you’ve heard this one: so a crazy guy with a Southern accent and subpar language skills meets with an alien that doesn’t understand English fluently…
“You did the same as I would have. Your many enemies have an option now. Perhaps I shall let them toy with you before your execution.” He raised a hand and pointed at me, then brought it to his chest to pound on the plates there. I think he expected me to be intimidated. He sure didn’t make a very compelling case for handing over the reins of power.
I sat upright in my chair. “I’m sure that speech sounded better when you made it up to deal with other extraterrestrials having taken over. Now, it doesn’t sound nearly as impressive as, say, calling for Eschaton, Warman, and Captain Lightning.”
In a flash, literally in Captain Lightning’s case, the three appeared through a new hole in my roof. Eschaton and his white hot flaming body, very much insists he isn’t gay no matter how many times I ask if he is. Warman, the super soldier dressed like a soldier trapped under a pile of Kevlar, whose idea of concealed carry involves a double minigun. Captain Lightning, the aging red, white, and gold hero of World War II and onwards. My nanites flowed through none of the heroes’ veins, but in enough others to convince them to stand by to take on a wannabe alien conqueror. He didn’t seem to have much of a plan, beyond standing there and getting caught. The heroes took one of his legs off before securing him firmly in their arms, but otherwise made no move to kill the guy for me.
I stood up and began charging my armor’s forearm energy sheaths. They grew brighter as power directed into the array wound around my forearms and projected into a field floating just over the surface of my gauntlets. I punched into Cercopagis’s chest with one hand, the energy carrying my first in to puncture it. Circuitry and fluids came out with that fist. The next punch smashed the helmet open, to reveal the dead body of the alien wannabe-lord…wasn’t in there.
I pulled the helmet wrecked apart, but it appeared mostly hollow except for a voice module and sonar. “I apologize for not meeting you in person, Psychopomp Gecko, but I assure you our business is not yet finished. You give me a lot to think about.”
He chittered something like a laugh. Captain Lightning must have recognized it, because he took the initiative to toss the armor into the sky where it detonated in a green mushroom cloud that lacked any electromagnetic pulse.
“Thank you, heroes,” I complimented the group before dismissing them with a wave of my hand. “I suspect you’ll be less helpful when one of us next makes a move, but I’m sure folks appreciate your willingness to serve for the good of others.”
They all glared at me as I sent them off like servants. I fumed underneath my helmet. My incredible luck at having the enemy walk right up to me turned out to be anything but, and now he’s planning something on the moon while I’m down here waiting.
Sure would be nice to have space-capable giant robot right about now.
Before anyone goes and thinks Venus is back with me for any of the many good reasons I could imagine for someone I forced into a Slave Leia costume that time, she’s been a pain in my ass. Nagging me about stopping and turning myself over to the mercy of the world. Yeah, right. I’m the one who gets to flit about and see that mercy firsthand through various eyes. I’m pretty sure she’s planning something, too. I haven’t seen her use her phone recently, so I stole it and checked it to see who she’d been calling and texting.
I’m already obsessive and I’ve hit her before. Might as well do more stuff to make myself look like an abusive boyfriend, though we’re not dating. She insisted on that, even as she brought me takeout so I didn’t have to suck all my vitamins through an IV tube.
Despite me checking her phone, I found nothing there to help me. She figured out how to go in and delete the records of who she called and for how long, though she couldn’t hide that something had been deleted. I think there was a Sherlock Holmes story where that played a part. One of the things he presented as evidence was “the curious actions of the dog at night,” or something like that. When someone then mentioned that the dog didn’t do anything at night, Holmes said that was precisely the point. Same reason why a parent won’t get worried with kids in the house until it gets too quiet.
Somehow, I doubt siccing Spinetingler on me was the plan that required so many calls, but she tried that. She walked in one day, turned the lights off, said “Spinetingler, Spinetingler, Spinetingler,” three times, and flicked on a lighter to show me a mirror held in front of my face. I could make out the dark, malevolent presence of the supervillain capable of transforming people into horror-themed monsters and slashers. He looked good for a guy I’d injected with nanites following my Grey Goo protocol. There weren’t many beings that could easily survive a mass of nanites tearing them apart at the cellular level and using the materials to create more nanomachines dedicated to doing the same thing. It’s one of those potential dangers with the technology, alongside nanites being able to kill people if they malfunction or are suborned.
“Psycho Gecko,” he growled. He no doubt remembered the incident with the nanites, since it happened a little more than a year ago. He’d engulfed Empyreal City in some sort of Hellish pocket dimension and unleashed monsters. I fought him because I didn’t like the idea of myself or my friends dying or otherwise being trapped in said man-made Hell. Just because I’d be willing to try a xenomorph due to Giger’s paintings doesn’t mean my enjoyment of Bosch would lead me to visit a hell. Still, I remembered what drove him to do that to the city. He was looking for something. Someone.
“Hiya,” I told him, raising a hand to wave at him. “I’m guessing Venus thinks you and I’ll fight and she can capitalize on the confusion to undo my reign of benevolence-”
“Terror,” she interrupted.
“Reign of benevolent terror,” I continued. “But I don’t feel like that. If we fought, I might have to start killing people with nanites, maybe dissolving them so there’d be nothing left to bring back, and that gets messy. Especially if it’s anyone in Empyreal City. Of course, if I were to suddenly die, that kind of thing would kick in anyway, so it looks like there’s really no benefit for you in attacking me.”
Behind the mirror, I saw Venus’s face drop. I couldn’t tell Spinetingler’s expression with all the shadow and the glowing eyes. “Someday, you won’t have your hostages to hide behind. You know what you’ll get then?” His red, glowing eyes narrowed at the question.
I punched the mirror, breaking up the image and leaving nothing but a mirror behind. “Yeah, seven years bad luck.” To Venus I then added, “You disappoint me. On the one hand, I remember you being so much more of a threat to me. Then I remember how much time I spent making this happen, with all the opportunities I took advantage of and all the patience I showed, and I’m really glad you’re not able to foil me at the drop of a hat.”
She dropped the mirror and glared at me. Except then she wasn’t herself. I stood in the ruins of a building, a forcefield providing the backdrop of my field of vision. Bombs exploded, tracing a line of fire over the forcefield. In front of me stood a woman with pale pink hair with conflicted emotions on her face. I laughed. She punched me. Except, this time, it didn’t hurt and I wasn’t frozen like normal. I didn’t get more than a couple of punches in before I realized I wasn’t hitting the woman with the pink hair.
I rolled off her and looked around in spite of my armor’s 360 degree view. “I’m sorry,” I told her. It just slipped out. “Flashback. Wasn’t you.”
Venus grabbed the mirror and swung it down over my head. To her surprise, and probably later relief, I didn’t retaliate. I had to make sure the things happening to me were happening now instead of then. Normally, I don’t worry so much about the flashbacks, but now I’m in charge of billions of lives.
And then I had to struggle with why that mattered at all. I’d sooner kill them all in the past, and every day I have them in my head reinforces that it’s the only correct way to deal with them. Why did I even do that to myself? I wanted to be good, or to pretend I was? Much like the time I used a story I read on a transgender transformation fetish website to justify killing some people, it made sense at the time. That’s why a guy with a computer in his brain has trouble remembering things. It’s not that I can’t remember the events, but I can’t remember the feelings.
I roared and punched the floor, because I wasn’t done being an idiot for the day, then clawed at my ears briefly as I heard people around the world. People hating me, hating each other, wanting things, sad and despairing. For one-point-two seconds, everybody I controlled capable of it attacked anyone nearby. My act of frustration gave me a migraine and once again made me ask the million-dollar question: Why the hell did I do this?
Oh, right. Emotionally vulnerable, I thought of reacting to my archenemy’s numerous attempts to be a righteous hero by staying the villain she tried to redeem as a way to validate her existence out of my love for her and the type of hero she is. That’s easy to follow. That one makes sense. Then that damn lawyer I consigned to Davy Jones’s sweaty, jockstrap-loaded Locker asked me why I’d defend the whole world if I hated it so much. And my answer of “Because I like living,” was a good one, but I also thought about the fact that me living didn’t necessarily have to come with so few casualties among people I hate.
Rolling around on that floor, that’s what started me laughing. That shit right there is why villains shouldn’t have standards! People with principles, honest men, are too dangerous like that. They could do anything at all. Thankfully, I stopped laughing before I could suffocate or have a heart attack. I’d have kept on going if I hadn’t become puzzled by figuring out what the hell my principles were.
As enlightening as the whole thing was, it allowed my dear Venus to run off again. Sadly, she might think I’m holding some grudge against her. It was nice having someone to confide in while it lasted.
That’s not to say that the only thing I did recently was prove my superiority to people and do more boring introspection. There’s been plenty of that, though I’m proud of the fact that I’ve jumped to the top of the power charts due to my machinations. Doctor Doom would be proud, if it was possible to pry any pride for other people out of that self-loving tinpot dictator. Maybe with a can opener? Extra points if someone aims for the ass.
I enacted a few more plans of vile wish-fulfillment, like releasing the contents of college textbooks online for anyone to see, forcing Donald Trump to go without his hairpiece in public, and forcing the Queen of England to wear a dark cloak and act out the scene where he meets Luke Skywalker after the young Jedi’s been captured by Darth Vader. Hopefully they have that movie in y’all’s universe. The guy with the funny ears, Prince Charles made an adequate Vader, but Prince Harry did an excellent job as Luke. They even used authentic antique swords to duel with. I couldn’t manage the lightning thing very well on short notice, so I had Queen Elizabeth shuffle around on some old time rugs in socks and shock the guy a bunch of times before Charles picked her up and chokeslammed her. Sadly, the Royal Family didn’t have any convenient bottomless pits laying around. Smart idea for a ruler, actually. No damn reason for those to be in a throne room. Horrible draft. Then Luke covered her for the pin, as counted by the Prime Minister. Roll credits.
Boom, post-credits teaser for the next movie. I’m thinking Jaws as performed by Australia’s Harold Holt. Maybe work in the other English Prince somehow, since none of his mom’s dresses fit for him to play Leia.
Also, about that time, I gave a bunch of monkeys automatic rifles, trained them to ride ostriches, and set them loose on Westboro Baptist Church. If not for me trying to move the planet away from capitalism, that little snuff film would be the next big hit in movie theaters.
Yep, enforcing my unique brand of justice on Earth got all the more sweet after my little mental revelation. I recreated the Running of the Bulls through the Vatican with cardinals. I made the top brass of the South Korean company NCSoft shove their heads up each other’s asses like the world’s longest human centipede. The population of Yemen broke out into a spontaneous, full-scale dance number to the tune of “Too Sexy For My Shirt.” Inspired by that, I ordered everyone on the planet do The Wave. When I found anyone refusing, I gathered them up and brought them to The Hague so I could force them to wrestle a gorilla in a kiddie pool full of pistachio pudding.
Now, around this time, some news stations were beginning to assert that I had perhaps become mad with power, which is ridiculous. I was mad already. The power just made it easier to make people do things.
And so I laughed and laughed, having my way with the world, until it came to my attention through my link to some astronomers that something approached Earth. It entered the solar system quickly, then slowed down around Jupiter. At my request, they checked the type of ship, and found it to be entirely different from our recent Fluidic invaders but still known to the good people of Earth.
Well, well, well. I’ve got so many of the other most powerful beings on Earth standing down out of fear, I wondered if I’d seen this one coming. The alien conqueror himself, Cercopagis Lysis. Not as much of a threat to the entire world as the Fluidics, since they had the forces for it and he’s just one being, but he is individually powerful beyond my usual ability to kill. On top of that, he has few, if any, meaningful connections to Earth, so I can’t scare him off with my billions of hostages or bluff him with my fictional deadman switch.
Here he is showing up, no doubt to conquer Earth, with my standing in his way whenever he shows up. I have no way to beat him, and pretty much everyone on the planet would prefer if I lost and he won.
Altogether, it brought a twisted little smile to my face as I thought, “This is going to be fun.” Then, to my minions in the more industrialized zones, I spoke right into their ears so they knew my will, “Who does a guy have to kill to get a giant robot around here?”
“If reasonably possible, try to take resistors alive. If they act more like mindless zombies, don’t bother. We could restore their brains, but that’s just the hardware. The software would be gone. And if they’re aliens, kill them. Unless they offer a surrender,” I informed the men in my Australian expedition via Electric Eye Sydney. They didn’t look too happy to be working for me, and it didn’t help that this Electric Eye wore a dark cloak and black leather clothing to hide its appearance.
Elsewhere, a voice asked, “Talking to yourself?” My actual physical head swiveled toward the source of the voice. Someone was actually there in my “throne room” back in The Hague in the Neither World. My eyes found Venus, my longtime archenemy. She’d escaped awhile back, and apparently traded in her Slave Leia costume for something more practical. I ignored her while my mind concentrated on the task of dealing with the situation in Australia.
“We know Technolutionary is using the Sydney Opera House as a forward base. It’s a supervillain thing.” It really is. I wrecked the Statue of Liberty once, and destroyed the Empyre State Building in Empyreal City. It’s about showing off. Rarely does a supervillain gain infamy from blowing up Alberto’s Taco Cart or burning down a Burrito Bell. Depending on the frequency of dysentery in a population, the latter might even make them a hero.
“It doesn’t matter to him if anyone volunteers for any of his experiments. Some of the locals claim that anyone who does volunteer, he turns into the same species of human as Pyscho Gecko. Those who don’t gain a new outlook on life. A computer-in-the-brain outlook on life. Simmons, what are the Fluidics doing?”
Back in the Hague, my translation program worked to solve the problem of military jargon and give me a basic understanding of what the man said. Roughly speaking, there are between a dozen and two dozen aliens in Sydney attacking cell towers, radio towers, satellite uplinks, and anything else that extends my control over the population there. They are scavenging parts and equipment as well. We couldn’t get close enough to see what. On top of that, they’re fighting Technolutionary. They launch attacks every now and then, especially whenever Technolutionary sends a convoy of human-bots off into the wilderness of the Australian interior. If I had to guess, they weren’t onboard with Technolutionary’s little rebellion. It might even be why the shield wasn’t operating at full capacity, though there were too many other factors to tell for sure.
The original briefing involved significantly more acronyms.
“Yes, we’ll try to avoid taking on the aliens. Remember: the enemy of my enemy is my enemy’s enemy. Don’t get me started on enemies who like to keep sea life as pets, because that’s my enemy’s anemones and signficantly more complicated,” I warned them, in part because “enemy’s anemones” is really fun to say. “I suspect following a convoy would lead us to the ship. I won’t tell you the best way to do your jobs, since y’all have your own way of kicking ass and taking names. The Recon Marines have secured transportation, so they’re task is to find the enemy ship, infiltrate it, and damage to the point of failure anything that looks like one of these drawings.”
Electric Eye passed around some drawings I worked hard on, in the sense that I had the robot connect to a printer and create them based on what I managed to pull off the ship I’d commandeered that time, and the shuttle I crashed back to Earth on. They presented the soliders with depictions of the ship’s reactor and capacitor, power transfer nodes and a few important backup fuses, and the shield system itself. Any one set of targets and redundancies should incapacitate the shield.
The marines left, a pretty good bunch. While some would disparage the brains of men and women in the armed forces, recon marines have to be especially tough and bright for their job. Typically, they leave the officers behind and head into hostile territory in smaller groups, to infiltrate, sabotage, and neutralize. A hands-off mission to sneak in and blow shit up is right up their alley. So off they went to slay a dragon and win a fancy-ass sabre while I nailed the kidnapped princess.
“Don’t you ever turn on a light in here?” Venus asked again from where I sat. I preferred the darkness there, actually.
I broke away from Electric Eye to address her. “I’m surprised you came back, but I’m busy.”
“You were busy the other day, too,” she said. Then I remembered her comment on me talking to myself hadn’t been the same day.
“You could say I’ve been distant. Mind elsewhere.” I looked down at her as she approached. Instead of looking directly at me or even sizing up my armor, she focused on the IVs pumping needed nutrients into my body.
She read one of the bags. “What are you doing?”
“Eating takes up time. There are too many problems. One moment, there’s a riot starting in Texas.” I concentrated a moment, going elsewhere. “It’s over with. One riot, no rangers.”
“Step down, please. This is going to end badly for you when it ends. Why is it so important for you to kill yourself?” she asked.
“Killing myself, secondary concern. You got what you wanted. I am putting my talents to better use, helping people. One phone-recorded mass rape in India stopped. Mass transit groping in Japan detected. Terminating. I appear to be one of the few thinking with the correct head on this planet. I- oh come on, you Pakistani bastard, it’s a fucking chicken!”
She turned on a light. “At least something’s ending the robot speak of yours. You can’t control the world. It isn’t right. Someone will kill you. It’s the only way anyone can put up with you now.”
“Didn’t I tell you, under the influence of truth potion, that I was distracting myself before? This is me without distractions. One moment, someone in Kenya is wearing a leisure suit. There, another injustice fixed. This is the greatest good I can do for the world. This is the only way I can protect it.”
“The only way you’ll protect it without admitting you are wrong.”
Keeping track of her peripherally, my eye flitted all over the place as I saw things that weren’t there in the room with me, checking up on the world and keeping a portion of my attention fixed in the fuzzy image of Australia. “What are you trying to solve by talking to me here? This is useless and will not end the threat you perceive of me. Besides, it is within the right and potential responsibility of those gifted above their fellow man to guide the rest, as !Chinin said. Sorry, as one of the Founders of the United States said, too. I can look it up later, but this is why I prefer references your world can understand. Either way, the reasoning to the superiority of representative government over pure democracy is sound.”
Venus slapped me across the helmet. “This isn’t what I wanted from you. This isn’t being a hero!”
“I’m sorry if I defied your expectations, my dear Venus. I am not maintaining a status quo I do not believe in. I am helping billions instead of dozens. I just put out a fire in Irkutsk. I just reticulated a number of splines in Macedonia. Someone attempted and failed to rob a bank in Lima. I-…I wish I could sleep. There are too many problems. I am everywhere. Every cry for help I ever imagined, I now hear. I can’t stop them all. I can’t save them all. I can’t even punish them all. At least I’m trying. How dare you, Venus? How dare you hate me! How dare any of you?! Not one of you ‘heroes’ has even tried.”
Venus folded her arms. “Yes, some of us have. Remember Sexahol? You thought that was wrong, too.”
I remembered. An intoxicant hit the streets. Anyone who took it experienced affection and lust. It all turned out to be a plot by an old, retired hero to fix the world. His name was Breakdown. I resented being drugged and used my armor’s life support and filtering to stay sober. I also resented him trying to make a deal with me by offering me various Sexahol-drugged women, including Venus and Leah, a runaway that I went on to mentor briefly.
“You are seeing why we can’t. Even you can’t save everyone, and you’ve done something no one ever has before. No one wants to move forward with all these things you want to do, and I bet they move slowly in spite of your threats. We had to be drugged to be nice and loving to each other. It made us something we aren’t. You haven’t quite done that yet, but it would be the only way to accomplish what you want, and you don’t like it,” she went on, making a good case. She hadn’t yet gotten used to the fact that she herself was no longer human, it seemed. Thank Technolutionary for that one.
“I hate you so much sometimes, Venus. You’re like the little conscience I never had. I’m trying, ok? Not even that’s good enough for you, I guess. Now, I have to deal with aliens and Technolutionary in Australia.”
She looked disappointed, but told me, “Kick his ass.”
I hate her and love her so much. I sure did pick a good archnemesis.
Over the next few days, the SEALs and Eye struck against Technolutinary. Between the Australian military, the Fluidic aliens, and my guys, he could no longer risk convoys or even hunting parties to obtain more human-bot bodies. It didn’t help him any that the Aussies were evacuating their people as much as possible now they had a clearer understanding of what Technolutionary did to people.
Taking out the other supervillain didn’t even matter so much to me. The primary goal of the expedition was the shield. Once it fell, I’d have a world’s worth of military might to rain down on him. Under siege, Technolutionary could no longer reinforce the ship.
Finally, Eye received an acknowledgment from the marines that they found the ship and were going in. Technolutionary must have had some sort of communication with his minions there as well, because he made a push with all his forces, heading in that direction.
Well, as many of his forces as he could. The humans helping him seemed to peel off and stop in the face of the firepower arrayed against them, having neither the loyalty of the human-bots, nor the flying power armor of Technolutionary himself. Eye saw his form-fitting purple armor fly off, emotionless metal face hiding any panic in his real one.
But Electric Eye had rockets. Eye flew and caught up to Technolutionary, timing it so Eye’d catch him just past the edge of the city. He turned and unleashed a cloud of micro missiles. Eye threw off my cloak, letting them suffer premature detonation as the robot closed the distance. He seemed surprised when Eye reached into the top of my back-mounted aquarium, pulled out an octopus with a bit of blue on it, and tosses it at him. Unfortunately, it hadn’t kept very well. Neither did those really bitey clams. Even worse, there had simply been no way to bring in a shark.
Still, it distracted him enough for me to get close. He could blast those animals all he wanted, so long as it let me close enough to whip out my Koala-chuks. The critters were ornery and more than happy to claw away at the armored man Eye swung them at. Then again, most animals would have that response if they had a stick of wood shoved up their ass with a chain attaching it to another of stick of wood shoved in another koala’s ass.
“Who are you?” he asked, bringing his palms together to fire a burst of white-hot plasma at me that Eye effortlessly deflected with a now-sizzling marsupial. He maneuvered backward, firing to suppress me and keep his distance.
A distorted voice answered, singing. “I’m made of metal! My circuits gleam! I am perpetual, I keep the country clean! I’m electric, Electric Eye. I’m protecting, electric spy.”
With that, Eye switched the Koala-Chuks to my left arm. I fired the rocket on that arm, which disconnected and flew at him, koala’s spinning. While he shot at it, Eye fired my right arm on a course for the other villain’s metal codpiece. Ding, ding, ding! It’s not the sound of game show victory so much as repeated armored groin punches.
Technolutionary punched something into a control panel on his left wrist, then slashed at the groin punching arm. A glowing beam sword erupted just in front of his left hand and cut through the rocket. He swung it up to disarm the other hand of its koalas, leaving one to scream for help as it plummeted back to earth.
Seeing that, Eye fired the legs next. They circled him for a few seconds. Then he jerked around, remembering the ship. His armor carried him off, with Electric Eye following. The robot tried to throw him off while avoiding the blade, doing little more than banging its foot uselessly against an ass ensconced in purple armor. Eye even managed a good headbutt at one point, which I like to think justified the decision to add a robotic butt to this Electric Eye robot.
Before long, Eye saw the ship in the distance. But before either of us could reach it, the transparent shield rippled and faded away. I felt whole again. And angry. And like a man who suddenly controlled a lot of aircraft, anti-air missiles, and drones. Electric Eye stopped and let him continue his useless pursuit of the ship. The missiles launched by those lovely American aircraft under my command convinced him to do the same as he dove into the wilderness avoid them. We lost track of him, last heading so far west, he’s probably at the Hutt River. Well, he’s Jabba’s problem now, and if he ever resurfaces, he’ll be in deep Bantha poodoo.
A helicopter helped get the recon marines out of the area before another set of missiles made sure Technolutionary wouldn’t have any more alien ships or forcefields to cause trouble with.
As for the aliens, if they hadn’t surrendered, I’d have housed them in a smoking crater. The fact that they did…well, I could say that I listened to my conscience, annoying as she is, and let someone live. Or I could focus on preparing this new statement I’ll release in a few days about how, thanks to the treasonous efforts of a resistance leader named Technolutionary, the evil, genocidal, mind controlling Fluidics managed to escape in a pair of shuttles, no doubt to gather reinforcements. If I keep this up, I’ll have people practically salivating to follow my lead every time I ring a bell and claim “Aliens want to attack us for our freedoms!”
Just think, some critics actually claim I can’t control what people think.