Gecko here. Got my car out of storage for the road trip. Big black beauty of a car sold as the 1951 Hudson Hornet. A very deep black, with my favorite orange coloring running in lines on the grill, the edge of the windows and windshield, and the bumper. I call it Black Sunshine. There’s a very basic unit in the trunk for replicating my nanites, so I’m ok for now. Goodbye Empyreal City.
I thought I had a job lined up in New Hampshire. Some tropical dictator’s son was messed with by a girl with powers. Something about involuntary sex change, so I can see why he’d be upset. Instead, he told me he was going to go another route, something that involved less revenge and more abusing his only son by disowning him unless he marries and bangs whoever the dad picks out for him.
New Hampshire, man. What a fucked up place.
So now I’m in Kingscrow. I’ve got people here. Not friends, not exactly. I think the only reason we hang out with each other is because we are fairly safe around each other. Oh, and we’re somewhat social outcasts on our side of the law.
I pull up some ways from a spot I remember as catering to my ilk. That’s right, I have ilk. Ilk that are catered to. There’s always at least one establishment like that in any major city. In Empyreal, it’s Rothstein’s Sports Bar. In Memphis, it’s the Back Alley Beale Street Voodoo Bar. In Paradise City, there’s the Saenger Café. Here, we have the Low Earthy Bar.
Despite the rain plopping on my windshield, I drove around the corner by the bar. I am not good at parallel parking, and this looked like a tight squeeze. Pulled up next to the forward car, adjusted my side view mirror, and flipped a switch to turn on a rear monitor, and got my rear lined. Then I settled my grip at the standard ten and two and pressed a different button with each hand. The front of my side-view opens and a blue blast blazed at the car in front of the spot I wanted. The car rocked forward as the chassis was dented and scorched. Behind me, the license plate, “CTUL US16”, dropped down and the barrels of a minigun popped out and rotated. The rounds peppered the rear car with holes likewise pushed it back.
In the end, I had plenty of room after all. I did readjust the side-view mirror to the correct spot as I left. It gave me the helpful warning, “Objects in mirror are behind you.”
Tell me if you’ve heard this one. Psycho Gecko walks into bar. The Low Earthy Bar is downstairs below a hippy pottery place. Sister Moonflower Rockefeller was tending the bar when I walked in.
I sidled up to the bar. Which is totally a form of movement I know how to do. Sidling. All the cool kids are doing it these days. “Hey there, Sister. Is Doc or Max in?”
She pulled a dread out of the way and gazed at me from over her glasses for a second before telling me, “Distractions lay between you and your goal. You may yet find what you seek once you learn to look past them all.”
“Thanks, Sissy Poo,” I told her, then slid a gold knick-knack from some Vatican drapery into the clay tip jar nearby. Turning towards the rear of the bar, past the dance floor, I saw Mix N’ Max. A pale goth with long brown hair and a burgundy coat and a ruffled white shirt on. He shared his booth with a pair of girls. One was dressed more his style with purple hair and black clothes on, but the other was more conventionally casual.
As I got close, I heard her insistently ask, “When are you going to get out of this place and go have some fun, Max?”
“You can check out any time you want, but you can never leave,” I said, pulling out the chair on the unboothed part of the table. She looked alarmed and pouty at the same time. The goth girl tensed.
Max just kept on grinning that black lipstick grin of his and leaned forward, “Why Gecko, the Doctor is going to be so happy to see you. What brings you to our dismal playground?”
“Change of scenery. I love dark and stormy nights. Perfect time to put on a hockey mask and go for a jog,” I replied. A doctor’s bag dropped onto the table in front of me with a soft glopping sound. I looked over my shoulder to see a man dressed in black leather surgeon’s scrubs and a helmet in the shape of the whole surgical mask and cap and a clear visor over the eyes, “I see a thunderstorm a day doesn’t keep the Doctor away.”
“Bollocks,” he said, and sat on the very end of the booth on the goth girl’s side.
“Spleen?” asked Max.
“Kidneys,” said Good Doctor, pulling out some cash and passing it over to Max.
“He bet he’d guess wrong?” I queried, poking the Doctor’s bag.
“He bet you died.”
“No, I took your bet that he didn’t.”
“Are we going soon?” That was from the casual girl to the goth girl.
“I think so,” the goth said, staring past us. It was growing kind of loud in that direction.
A furry hand with long claws slammed onto the table next to me. I looked up to see Starnose the Mole. Catching something in my peripheral vision, I turned to see a dusk colored lizard man with frilled ears and a mouth of fangs, dressed in a leather loincloth and chest straps, standing on the other side of me. They were both looking at Max. The Doctor stared up at the lizard man and I noticed him slide one of his surgical knives from his sleeve. The lizard man was too busy calling out Max, “The stuff you sold us stopped working after the first hit! You cheated us.”
Max leaned back without losing his smile and put his arms around the two girls on either side of him, “You changed the deal and only paid me half. Ladies, don’t be afraid, that’s just Rupt.”
Starnose’s claw slammed into the table again as a much a fist as he could make it. He spoke in a nasally voice, “You screwed up, Max. Your little junkie hos are going to have to carry you to the hospital after we break your legs.” The Doctor was quick to his feet, so I made my move as well. I grabbed the furry wrist on the table as I stood and yanked the arm behind Starnose, twisting it around into the middle of his back and upward in a standing hammerlock. He tried to spin to the side, but I hooked my other arm around his throat. Then he went to lift me up by ducking forward. I released the hook and punched him where the spine met the skull. While he was reeling from that, I hooked his throat again and straightened him up.
On the other side of my former seat, the Good Doctor struck quickly with his knife, finding weak points in Rupt’s scaled hide using his X-ray vision. Rupt had dropped down to his knees in pain, even though the wounds looked superficial. Max had reached into his coat at this point and pulled out a small clear packet of a powdery substance that was indigo in color. He asked us, “Doc, Gex, you two good?”
“Yes, these loathsome riff raff deserve it.”
Max poured the indigo powder into his hand and blew it over Starnose and Rupt. A coughing fit hit them as I let Starnose go, stepping back and dropping the holographic illusion I had projected from my armor of being out of my armor. “You don’t use the armor that hides on you and then comes together anymore?” asked the Good Doctor.
“Nah, this is just easier,” I said. That’s when Starnose and Rupt stood again.
“Aww man,” Starnose said as he looked over Rupt, “You’re a rubber duck!”
“I’m a rubber duck? You’re a rubber duck!” Rupt told Starnose.
“Come on, man, let’s go find a bath tub,” Starnose said as he and Rupt waddled out of the room.
“Behold the Dark Triad!” hammed up Mix N’ Max, arms outstretched to indicate the Doc and I in the little informal group someone had named us. “No one messes people up like we do!”