In a world brimming with tech all over, like where I’m from, the true superweapon is not the nuclear bomb. It’s the electromagnetic pulse. To use one uncontrolled in public for even a short amount of time would do immense damage. It was possible to install some interference, grounding, antennas, or coupling crap to protect things, sure, but there’s a limit to how far companies will go without being coerced. Especially since any EMP that knocked out consumer electronics would result in people just going out and buying replacements. I have some experience unleashing them myself on orders from the General back before I used power armor.
Just about the only ones who would have used those things in an urban conflict against me would have been the Phenomenal Fighting Justice Rangers, since somehow a lot of magic was tied in to their machines and lasers. While they weren’t very smart, they were at least smart enough not to shut down hospitals just to try and destroy my giant mechs.
Harder to make them here. People notice those huge numbers of materials going missing or being bought up, and this Earth is so quiet, so much more rural, that it’s harder to find space to build one in peace. You either have to get a government or corporation on your side, or you need your own island. It’s easier to build one under a city, where people don’t give a crap about noise, where there’s easy access to living quarters and materials, where it’s less reasonable to drop large ordinance on you while you’re working.
So my armor, through most of its iterations, didn’t really have anything to shield it from EMP.
My suits that have been built in this world range from the Version 20 to the Version 25. V.22 through V25 have EMP hardening and systems in place to shut down when EMP is detected, then restart the whole mess after I’ve determined the interference is over with. V.24 also had the ability to come apart in pieces that hid under clothes and then reassemble on me as a way to hide the armor, but it provided less protection in the process. Through the V.23, they even had supercharged muscle enhancers in the legs that could be used for long range jumps, but I took those out because I mostly just broke my own legs on landing.
The suit I had stockpiled in Memphis and was wearing when Venus set off a pulse from that rod she had was a Version 21, so it just fucking died on me. All the work I did to get a hold of the damn thing, I was just a little bit upset.
“Fucking lucha libre looking motherfucker!” I yelled at her as my eyes restarted, showing things less clearly with my only way of seeing out the helmet reduced to a visor. My words didn’t even making it past my helmet with the communications systems down. She approached swiftly, moving around out of my field of vision. That’s another thing. The cameras I use as part of the stealth system also give me a little bit of a heads up when facing threats from directions outside my line of sight. I still don’t always notice them due to information overload, but now I can’t notice her because they are down. I couldn’t even turn to keep track of her all that well because the torso is rather bulky without the systems that make it function so well attached to my nervous system.
I reached up for the latch on my helmet and started to pull it off. I was helped at the last moment by Venus, who tossed it down the back steps and slapped me across the face so hard, you’d think I owed her money. She hopped to my side, swinging her foot around at my face. I dropped back against the stage, the sole of her boot passing by over me. Then she raised her foot for an axe kick. I rolled to the stage as it thunked against the spot my head was just at.
“You’ll never kick my ass if you can’t even hit my head!” I spit at her.
“Your head? I thought I was aiming for your ass!” She threw right back, getting a laugh from the crowd.
I rolled over my back and head and up to my feet. She closed the gap quickly. I swung for her body. Missed. Tried to turn quickly enough for a rabbit punch. Too slow and I felt her knuckles and the protective pads worked into the glove dig into my cheek. I spun with it, kicking low at her knee but not connecting. I didn’t see her as I came around. Then I felt something on my back. She wrapped her legs around my head and neck from behind, like she was sitting on my shoulders, then she shifted her weight. I flew back as she flipped herself between my legs. My head scraped the wood of the stage and left me bleeding with splinters dug into my skin.
“Oooh, I hurt that pretty little face? Looks like you’ll need to put on a new one. Put in more time training and less time on plastic surgery and we can have a real fight.”
Psychology. Don’t bother me any.
“One of us needed to be pretty and do the bleeding. From how you look, I suspect they work you till you don’t have a period. Your boyfriend’s not out getting picked up by that Catch A Pedophile show, is he?” I can do psychology too.
It was also good having a break for just long enough to twist things around. I needed the torso armor off. I took a second to recover, putting on a little bit of a show for the crowd as well. She let it happen too. Half of what she does is showmanship. Not that I’m against that. Theatricality is a powerful tool. It can force people into tropes, clichéd ways of perceiving the world and acting.
What, the hammy supervillain and his over-the-top zany schemes knows that? Gee, doesn’t THAT shed a new light on things.
I even pulled up my belt, like I meant business. What I really meant was to hit a release switch. This time when I came at her, it was with a slower, weaker punch that she caught easily, then another with the other hand that she caught. She pulled my arms in and jumped up, throwing her knee into where my chin would be…if I hadn’t ducked out my torso armor the other direction.
I went to my ass once again, but this time as a matter of speed, and rolled over backwards to my feet again. She had my armor and her own momentum to recover from and get around. I came at her, right arm raised, hand open and pointing at her, left hand similarly open but lower down. It was meant to evoke a snake.
She tried to duck and I ducked, hand striking out at her eye, then followed by a strike from my left at her throat. She stumbled back and I leapt out of that stance to kick at her, knocking her on her ass this time.
I stopped then. Can’t let people think I actually know what the hell I’m doing, now can I? So instead, I raised my arms and celebrated a moment, “Woohoo, bet you don’t like it when someone drops that kung fu shit on you.” I wish I had a jellyfish right then to smack her in the cheek with.
She laid back and then did a kip up, then ran for me. She jumped into another kick. I moved out of the way and caught her. I was going to throw her but she had her arms and legs wrapped around me. I thought I had her. She had me. She held my left arm out, legs wrapped around it with her calves and ankles locked around my head. With the spinning motion from all this, we spun and fell. Difference is, I landed on my face again, and she landed in a good position to lock my shoulder painfully back in the socket and sit on my back.
“Say uncle!” She said, wrenching my arm back in ways it wasn’t meant to go. I just laughed. I laughed at her. I laughed at the pain. I laughed at realizing I was getting my ass kicked pretty soundly. I laughed because it was pretty damn funny. And I laughed because if I didn’t, I might have screamed.
But mostly, it was funny. It was funny that a bunch of morons elected me to do their dirty work. Not even any money involved, just them throwing a bitchfit. And even if I do lose, break out, and find Flamebeard, I’ll pull his kidneys out through his nose! That’ll be a fucking kneeslapper right there!
So my only response to that little woman using my arm as the world’s smallest stand up comedy mic stand was to laugh and try to grab at her with that wrist. Did no good, of course. It was a distraction, aided by my cackling laughter. Because I sure as hell wasn’t having a bad time. I was having the time of my life. Even sang to myself, my other hand’s fingers tapping out the tune, oh hoofbeats go a-trotting, trotting, up to heaven bold, at the gates a-knocking, knocking, sheep in wolfish clothes, holy jaws are dropping, up in heaven’s hold. Plant my hooves, my hooks, my books.
I thought I heard her quietly tell me to stop laughing. What, me stop? I’m the guy on the ground, honey. You’re the one in control with me arm, aren’t you? Those thoughts were making it awfully hard to breathe.
Nah, I didn’t stop. I pulled with my arm. Her tightened grip restrained my elbow and insisted on keeping my shoulder in pain, so I just had to keep on. And on. And…snap!
The laughter got even louder then. Oh my, I think I scared the kiddies. The break wasn’t clean though, not at all, which is just what I hoped for. Got to cut through the skin, ha ha! She was still trying to keep a hold of me and her grip was excellent. If my arm mattered anymore, I wouldn’t have been able to get away. I tore away and left her with the arm.
People were staring and for some reason they didn’t find me losing so funny anymore. There was an awkward silence when I stood up, armless. I broke it.
“Look, it’s not my first fight. You don’t have to hold my hand,” I said, breaking up a little at the end. Venus was wide-eyed as she stared at me, then glanced at my arm and dropped it.
“Little miss USA superhero, I thought I had the right to bear arms?” I told her, a smirk on my face as I indicated my missing arm with the one present.
“Fuck me,” came from a cop near the steps to the stage.
“How about a handjob?” I said. “Better yet, how about a hand? Come on folks, a round of applause for that wonderful performance!” I turned to the gawking people and tried to clap with just the one hand. Aside from an Asian guy in the back having a moment of enlightenment, there was no reaction.
I turned to Venus, “Now stand aside, worthy adversary.”
“What the hell?” she said loudly, annoyed that I just wasn’t getting what the big deal was.
“Tis but a scratch.”
“Scratch? Your arm’s off!”
“No it isn’t. I’m just using it to grab your little EMP thing.”
She turned quickly to look, only to see my arm laying there, not doing a damn thing.
She didn’t quite turn around before I punched her in the back of the neck. She moved with the blow, absorbing much of the kinetic energy, and threw herself forward. For her that meant off the stage into a crowd of people. This left me unarmored on an elevated position with armed people around. And as you may have already noticed, I was not as fully armed as I would have liked to be. I dove for the torso armor, gloves still attached to it. The police dropped the stupid shocked expressions and tried to come up the stairs after me. The first one I bullrushed with the torso armor. It deflected a shot before I smacked into him and knocked him into his partner, who had tripped on my helmet as he tried to run up the steps. I fell with them, but I managed to toss my helmet into the lower opening of my torso opening and run off with it like a bag.
They got a copter up in the air. I heard it as I rested in the backseat of my car some streets away. The blood loss started to get to me, but I dug around in my belt and found an injector ready to go. I also found the laser potato peeler I’d rebuilt. Geez, great timing, wish I’d thought of that when I was on the ground. Could have saved Lefty over there. Still, wound cauterized by laser and my wonderful machines hard at work, I made it back to the hideout with no problems.
That’s why it’s been slow to type things up. Still healing here. A hand is much less of a problem than a whole arm and I’ve had to pack on the steaks and the milk since the fight. But I’ve also been plotting. Don’t worry, I’ll get Venus. Nothing personal. I’m not mad. Well, we all go a little bit mad sometimes, but this is a matter of professional pride.