It wasn’t easy, readers, but if anyone could escape from the might arrayed against me, it would be me. I assure you, I never lacked confidence in my own ability. I always sweat heavily and cuss when I’m doing intensive thinking. I may have beat my head against a brick walls a couple of times in what was obviously an attempt to become inspired, but I wasn’t worried one bit. If the mythological being called Zeus could get a beautiful virgin goddess to pop out of his head by cracking it open, why can’t I make a magical escape hole appear the same way?
I did, however, lack allies. The city’s villains, including the ones I had worked with in all this, were none too happy about dosing them along with everyone else. I wasn’t even welcome back at the Back Alley Voodoo Bar. I tried to get in but the Baron drawing slammed the door in my face. The shop itself was closed. After helping the heroes get the BZ out of their systems, they shut down temporarily to avoid doing the same for anybody else the heroes wanted on their feet again, like a SWAT team.
No allies…no plan…a situation where killing everyone was not an option…an unfriendly population…and I didn’t even have a virgin goddess to alleviate my headache.
As things cleared up, the heroes finally got their act together. They rounded up Snowblower and got Flamebeard when he tried to make a break for it across the river. Those were more incidental than anything else because public enemy number 1 in this town was me. I even saw those Master Academy heroes, minus Venus of course, let this one terrified woman in a costume go. Sounded confrontational, so I’m guessing she was one of ours, except she agreed to alert them if she saw me. That’s not very smart. Girl please, neither is that fashion sense of hers. Must have been someone real minor or just starting, because the outfit looked like something you’d grab from a store.
Some people can make that work, but most of the time people just look stupid unless they get creative. You’d think it would be tough to find someone to handle those sorts of things, but there has always been a pretty good costume industry. Cosplayers, furries, movie and TV wardrobe departments, wrestlers, ren faire players, and superhumans are all in vaguely the same market.
That’s just for the small potatoes, though. For the big potato heads, like these teams I’m facing, they have the means for better costumes, armor, and equipment. Gorilla Awesome and Honky Tonk Hero are exceptions there. Awesome doesn’t need a costume and Honky Tonk just buys from the suppliers of all the Elvis impersonators. But for teams like the Masters, the better funding is an incentive to join up all its own. Aside from that, heroes need endorsement deals or a wealthy secret identity.
That’s where villains have an advantage. We have to work more in the back alleys, but a big part of what we do is stealing money. As long as the little potatoes take enough, they can look like a big potato in no time flat. Then they lose their gear when the heroes mash them and reuse what the villains had. I know, those thieving heroes. Good thing there’s someone like me out here to hunt down a hero and make some French fries.
They cleared the city that day, while I scouted for a way out. Bridges were easily covered. The shipping lanes that the semis took were also being checked. Nearly got caught there. Ran into this one bunch of guys patrolling through the loading docks. I couldn’t get out that way, so it would have to be one of the many civilian routes out. It took a lot of guesswork to find a gap. The Guard was stretched too thin. They couldn’t discount the possibility of a submarine or a car that turned into a submersible, so they had to cover not just the bridges over the Mississippi, but the shoreline as well. The route south to Mississippi was especially clogged. I also saw they had a pretty good watch going on the shipping lanes east out of Memphis. That left a whole hell of a lot of suburbs and lonely roads to rural Tennessee for them to cover.
I decided I would take one of the lonely roads where I spotted what looked like a team that wasn’t exactly set up like a fortress. These guys were weren’t the brightest bulbs in the bunch. They didn’t even keep most of their unit at the checkpoint. They just played around in this parking lot and closed down BP gas station. It was around 2 am when I called up Moai and told him to get in the van and drive it my way. Now for a surgical strike, right in the taint of the enemy.
They were a colorful bunch, but they weren’t keeping on their toes. This one skinny little guy wasn’t even paying attention. He just kept practicing hitting a ball with a baseball bat at a chainlink fence still standing. I took that bat and turned him into a popsicle. A quiet popsicle. It was difficult, but I had to gag him all the way from the ass. Warriors, come out to plaaaaaaaaay.
I used his radio to figure out what channel to keep an ear on. Best to do this quietly for now.
Next was a big bald guy who kept faking a Russian accent sitting next to a fire they’d made with a bunch of gathered sticks inside an old tire. I didn’t like the look of that SAW he had next to him. I took five to mess around with one of my last chicken grenades. Had to reduce the size and power. I slipped a smaller and less detectable charge into his sandwich as I snuck by invisibly. He took a bite of that “sandvich” as he called it and pop went his weasel. Looked like he was zoned out at first. The guy next to him by the campfire just kept staring into it like he was mesmerized. Total pyro. Didn’t notice a thing. My gloves are fireproof. His face wasn’t. He definitely reacted to that, his cries for help muffled by ash and wood. I suppose his tongue and mouth being on fire did nothing to help him speak.
As much as I wanted to leave him like that, it had been awhile since I’d eaten and I didn’t want to put up with the smell making me hungry. I left him looking sound asleep, face buried in his arms.
I quietly snuck through the darkness, looking for any outliers. Off by the far corner of the parking lot was a makeshift guard tower made out of an old sign. There was the fire where they’d left their gear. Past the guard tower were bushes and a drainage ditch, then the road where the actual checkpoint was. They only had one man checking the cars, but they had someone up there in the tower to cover him.
Another of them had a balaclava on and kept practicing with a butterfly knife where the gas pumps used to be. I scalded his face with hot coffee from the coffee blaster. When he went to scream, I shoved the barrel in there and drowned him. It’s possible he won’t stay dead. If there’s any form of murder that would cause the victim to spring back to life before long, coffee drowning is it. I copied his image and projected it around myself while I handled the others.
His butterfly knife came in handy when I heard something on the radio. Someone thought something might be wrong with the big guy. I headed back around to the fire to find the medic, who was apparently playing a mad scientist with a German accent, checking on the heavy gunner. Muffled him and did a passable version of a Mime performing an Aztec sacrifice. I’m telling you, those Mime’s are planning something and you’ll never hear them coming. Tried to interrogate one of them once with a blowtorch, 10 snow cones, and an anal plug. Not a peep. Someone with a Scottish accent spoke up wondering what was up. I answered him that the “Nothing, he was just being an asshole. It was all a stupid prank.”
Yes, nothing to worry about over here at all.
There was one trying to be all gung ho, like some wannabe Patton with a firm grip on his entrenching tool, who was hanging out with, get this, a one-eyed black Scottish guy. I have no clue when the Tennessee National Guard became the fucking UN. I mean geez, they got more [censored] than they got guys like him. As the balaclava guy, I got them each aside for a private word about some things I’d been told behind their backs. The soldier didn’t like his helmet supposedly being made fun off behind his back by the one-eyed guy who had all the grenades strapped on. The grenade man didn’t like the soldier mocking his missing eye.
I wanted to pull the pin on one of the grenades, but alas, this was stealth. Instead, I headed up the guard tower. Continuing the strange multinational trend, this guy had on one of those Australian hats that’s clipped up on one side. He also had several jars full of pee. There were places all around to go drain the gecko, but this guy was collecting it in jars. The argument down below was so loud, they didn’t even notice when I smashed the sniper in the head with his own piss jar and got the shards good and in there. Even if it’s with a jar, you should have a plan to kill everyone you meet. Nice to meet you, sniper.
Hopped down then, I saw that in all the pushing, the wannabe Patton dropped his shovel. They hate it when you call it that, too. With the balisong, aka butterfly knife, in my left hand, I got Patton Jr. through the throat. With my right, I conked the Cyclops man on the head. That’s what happens when you take your eye off the ball.
Finally, I just had to relieve the guy manning the checkpoint. He wasn’t going to feel so relieved when I was done, but that’s why you don’t do that alone if you are competent. He also wasn’t supposed to be playing guitar while he did it. Still, they had some sort of weird turret thing with a gun mounted on it to keep him company. He probably had a laser on him to paint the target the gun was supposed to fire on. Most cars don’t have IFFs and motion or heat sensors are a bad idea when trying to avoid civilian casualties.
I waited alongside as he strummed a tune on his guitar. “Howdy there. You here to keep my company on this lonely vigil, or was all that arguing over yonder too much of a break in our camaraderie for you to stand?”
“Just bored,” I answered. Readers, you’d be so proud of me. I barely reacted when he started playing “Hound Dog”. That’s right, I didn’t garrote him with his own guitar strings. I got antsy as I saw the moving van approach and finally it was up there. This folksy sentry stood up and spotted the unusual head of the driver. He set his guitar down and reached for his radio. I took up his guitar and drove it down on his head. He crumpled in a heap of splinters.
Guitars make excellent weapons. You wouldn’t think it to look at them, but a nice solid wood one can break a person’s neck if you hit them in the head. I waved Moai up, dropped the disguise, and hopped in the cab.
Moai and I got away with my equipment, my scooter, and my field gear. Nobody is looking for the car. I’ll send for it later.
There were more soldiers up ahead. They weren’t stopping cars but it wouldn’t do for a Moai and a man in power armor to be spotted. I covered myself in a hologram of an old man version of James Gandolfini. Great, I’m hiding from the authorities by disguising myself as someone so gangster even nature had him whacked. I had prepared for Moai to cover up too. I reached back behind the seat and pulled out a big wooden mask in a growl.
“Here, put this on and sit still,” I told my minion as I handed it to him.
As I passed close to one of the Guardsmen leaning against the side of a jeep, I nodded to him, “Howdy son,”
Slipped by no problem. We were in the all clear then. I turned to Moai. “We did it. You know what that means right? Grab the mojitos, buddy, and keep that mask on. It’s tiki time!”
I cranked the radio. The hosts were talking about how Memphis finally recovering after the horrific events that had shocked the country. They were just so happy to all the heroes who had joined forces to stop the evil plan of Psycho Gecko.
Yes, my plan was totally stopped. My plan to expose people to that gas so they’d fight and kill each other. The plan to do the same to police and other authorities who showed up to help. My plan to beat the crap out of Venus but leave her alive to know how thoroughly she’d been beat, what she’d helped cause, and what she’d done under the effects of the gas. Yes, it’s a good thing the heroes were there, or I’m sure I wouldn’t have been able to do any of that.
Special mention to the National Guard. Some people have been saying that the military would be able to take out superhumans in a fair fight. Better luck in a Rock-Paper-Scissors competition, camo clowns. I won’t fight fair unless I get a chance to use a Ferris wheel as a weapon.
And after that, by sheer coincidence, the station played a familiar little tune, “On the floor of Tokyo, or down in London town to go, go, with the record selection and the mirror’s reflection, I’m dancing with myself.”
What can I say? If I had the chance, I’d ask the world to dance and I’d be dancing with myself.