At 11:13 am on Monday, November 4th, preparations for a meeting between the gang leaders were laid out. The agenda would be one man, Psycho Gecko, and the mark he’d left on the three gangs. They were weakened from assassinations, a gang war, and a fight against superheroes, all because of the actions of one asshole in armor. Now, he had set them up with the cops, this brave bastard with balls so big they exerted their own gravity. Their association with this villain wouldn’t be forgiven by the police unless they brought him in themselves. But how could they possibly hope to capture or kill a man whose ball hair is as soft and feathered as it is lethal? How do you stop a man who can sneak invisibly amongst your foot soldiers with impunity?
At 2:00 pm the next day, scouts arrived to make sure the location was safe. At 3:30, low-ranking gangmembers arrived from all three groups to oversee preparations in the private room of the hotel’s restaurant. Today the bosses would have a light early dinner together. The restaurant staff performed as admirably for these riff raff clientele as they would have for anybody else. A few might have complaints but for the complaint boxes underneath the shirts of some of the gangsters. Large complaint boxes with triggers and extraneous spikes. Ammunition for those guns is increasingly rare. Waiters who try to tell off the survivors of the city’s three biggest street gangs also became increasingly rare. Instead, they smiled, nodded, and took down the pre-orders so that the bosses wouldn’t have to wait overly long upon arrival. How does he want his steak, sir? Increasingly rare.
All three leaders arrived early to the event that was scheduled for 5:30 pm. The Reds arrived at 5:03 pm. The Greens showed up at 5:03 as well, but spent 9 minutes in their car getting baked before Mean Green got out to join Big Red and Yurple Rain, who arrived at 5:05 on the dot, but got in a smoke break before heading inside. They had a waiter with a pair of sunglasses nabbed and taken outside for a beating to make sure he wasn’t Psycho Gecko. He wasn’t, by the way.
They sat around and talked while the chefs expedited the order for the early arrivals. They cursed, they drank, they flipped off the direction of the private room. Not that the bosses knew or would have cared. They were getting along like pals now. The series of events that led up to this had brought them all closer. Except for Yurple Nurple. The events had shot him to pieces. Still, they joked. They laughed. Peace between the gangs was easily established. It was hard to believe they had anything to worry about, until the food arrived. They checked it over. Unwitting underlings were brought in to try some of the food, in case it had been poisoned. When nobody died, they tucked into their meal.
At precisely 5:20 pm, I smacked the side of the Heatflasher, trying to get it to warm up quicker. It was an unforeseen deficiency in the kickassness of the weapon, one which I preferred to find out at that time, on top of a semi’s tractor trailer down the road from the hotel they were all meeting in. See, they could have invited me along to this. I could have sat there, hashed out who’d need to die, and laughed about all the water and weighted-down bodies under the bridge. But no. I had to find out about this from my new informant, “Lungless” Larry Henry. It’s an odd nickname, but he earned it during our little chat. It works much better than his brother, Harry “Headless” Henry.
Such percussive maintenance on such a dangerous piece of machinery is much less of a problem than you’d think. I built the thing. I know how tough it is and I figure I was hitting the source of the problem. I figured right. From where I was seated in it, merged in it with a cable jammed up under my rib cage, I could see it light up as the circuit was completed. What looked like a mere decorative inlay lit up neon red from the primary barrel. The light traveled up to a node that glowed along the dorsal spine of the barrel. The three nodes after it lit up similarly as those sections came fully online. At the four “corners” of the barrel, as much as cylinders have corners, were four arrays of equipment that appeared to be smaller extra barrels.
I had the targeting system slaved to my helmet, the only piece of my armor I had on, and had eyes on the restaurant I spied on. The waiter wasn’t me, but the invisible man sneaking around had been. Now, I was seated and ready to strike. I took hold of the sticks and squeezed the triggers. Just one trigger will ready the device, so you can get it armed while you’re scrambling to jam the cable into your abdomen. Ok, less of a problem for you, but one I still have to mitigate by finishing this thing’s own power supply, or by tying it into the city’s power.
Boy did it ever fire. The red inlaid glow turned blue, then white, matching the coils inside. There was a shudder as it fired, burning through imperfections in the barrel that hung out in the way. The heat sinks kicked in, circulating a substance you certainly wouldn’t want to drink to help cool the barrel itself. The invisible burst of heat struck the side of the hotel. The wall burst as the materials overheated and the molecules spread too quickly. Carpet caught on fire, as did drywall. Metal luggage carts glowed even when not in directly struck by the beam as it ate its way inward. A gangbanger ran for the wall knocked open by the beam a little too quickly and found himself scorched on the face. He ran away, holding his eyes and mouth, then tried to hold his hot zipper away from his crotch. I tried to adjust the aim to where I’d mapped out the private room to be, then got a better idea. I aimed for the kitchen instead, sweeping the beam along where the ovens should be as I moved to catch the private dining area. The first floor of the hotel went up in a burst of flames as the gas caught. Combined with me giving the private room a good go-over with the Heatflasher, it seemed the leaders of the gangs were no longer increasingly rare. I’d say extra crispy at this point.
It was beautiful, seeing that powerful wave of burning destruction tear through it all. It was too quick to avoid, but slow enough for me to enjoy the moments as everything got worse and worse. The way the clothes of a man caught on fire and he stopped to drop and roll on carpet that likewise caught on fire. The way the entire thing blossomed into a fireball. I’d share that flower with the world. Cleanse them of their injustice in rejecting their true hero. I let out a loud laugh at it, reveling in the awesome power and madness. It also helped to deal with the pain, because it can get kinda hot sitting too close to a giant heat machine.
I pulled my hands off the triggers and let it cycle, trying to vent the heat. I lifted myself up, pulled the cable out of the rather painful hole in my torso, and let myself drop down into the trailer below, where I landed on my ass. Up at the front of it was my armor and my nanites, so I crawled my ass up there. I will have to get that power source ready if I want to be in armor when this thing fires. The nanites were there because of the hole and because my legs smelled like BBQ. I think I even had some fat dribble out of a blister. With that kind of expletive-creating pain, I wanted to keep the nanites closer. With that kind of scrote-burning heat, I knew I couldn’t. A little bit of a vulnerability of nanotechnology, and why I never particularly enjoyed fighting people with fire powers. Correction, it’s why I never liked getting hit by people with fire powers. I could fight them all day long so long as they miss.
I had to suit up and scoot my ass over to the side door and open it up before I was fully ready, though. Out there, I found Moai hanging sideways, the other end of the pulley cable tied around him in a complicated mess that ended with a bow tie knot around his neck. “Good job holding down the fort. We’re done for now, though, and I’ve got another idea for next time we use it where you won’t have to do this. But rather than drive with you like this, I think you need to start getting yourself loose.” I stood up, wobbly, and tried to push him up. I fell to my knees. “Fuck you, gravity!” I said. I got an idea down there, though.
I lay under Moai on my back and set my boots on him, then tried lifting him up. He went up and the Heatflasher dropped, but not enough. So then I tried kicking him up. It didn’t work enough. I began to dial up the jumpers in the legs of my armor, at first just to make up for the lack of strength in my mending legs. It just didn’t lift him enough to get the ‘Flasher set into the trailer in a controlled manner. I sat down there, contemplating this situation, then set the strength of the jump boosters significantly higher. I kicked and Moai rose up and up. I saw the ‘Flasher drop down and then heard it land on the trailer. I stood up and gave a fist pump in triumph.
Moai landed on me as what went up came down. He knocked me to the ground and crushed me as the ‘Flasher was lifted up to the pulley above. Something snapped on it then, one of the cables, and it came crashing down to the bed of the trailer. Moai was lifted even higher into the air and against a pulley on his side, where there was another snapping noise.
“Fuck you, Newton!” I yelled and put up my arms futilely, but it didn’t break his fall. Broke my arms, but not the fall. Free of the whole system, Moai helped me to my shaky legs and guided me to the passenger side of the truck cab while he walked around to the driver’s side. I was lucky I still had the nanites from my legs going, too.
From there, we drove back to an alternate hideout we moved to over in the warehouse district. I know I said the Statue of Liberty was first on my hit list, but I needed a test and the test worked. I planned on taking it out too, but there were some unforeseen problems that came to light during the test. It just showed me I needed a better way to mount this thing and power this thing and maybe to not sit on chocolate pudding when I’m being crushed by an Easter Island statue. Because I’m sure that was chocolate pudding. Couldn’t have been anything else, I assure you wholeheartedly.
According to the news, they found the right number of crunchy bodies in the private dining area. Also according to the news, Paveman’s out patrolling in the Statue that he’s still holding onto. Overconfident in his colossus. How could I ever let myself get caught without a giant robot at my disposal? Oh well, I’ll just have to settle this mano a giant mano.
The test’s over, heroes. Give me a day to get back on my feet and we’ll find out how quickly Liberty runs when it’s been melted.