Arete in Epilogue

***Connection established***

Gooooood morning!

Look on my words, ye mighty, and drink a shot of bourbon!

I’m not responsible for the effects of my advice on those under twenty-one, by the way. You’re on your own there. Besides, you shouldn’t go becoming an alcoholic. Pick up a better addiction, like glue, or paint, or masturbating to a female anthropomorphic fox being stuck alive and conscious as she’s embalmed. Rule Thirty-Four, are there no depths to which you won’t sink?

Who am I to talk, anyway?

I did some sinking, mostly through the collapsing Empyre State Building and into the dark underbelly of the city. The sewer, that is. Lots of piss coming out the underbelly. It stank very much bad down there. That could have been the destruction of the building and loss of life, though. I know I certainly added my own share of piss on the way down, and I suspect some others did.

But as you may have gathered, it’s hard to keep a bad man down.

I am hilarity. I am the fright!

I! Am! A badman!

Just imagine some lightning right then. This blog operates on a budget on that side of things.

So yes, I survived. Like a little horde of heroes, a collapsing building, incompatible technology, and some Cherenkov radiation-induced heartburn are going to end me.

Amazingly, so did Carl and Moai. I mean, I figured Moai had a better shot at it than most people, but Carl got lucky. As far as I can tell, those crazy heroic sons of bitches actually tried to protect them!

Granted, Carl still wound up injured, but all he had to do was lose the balaclava and he passed for a regular Joe Schmo survivor of that clash of titans. I paid him a visit in the hospital while he was laid up. Surprisingly easy to get where you need to go in a hospital full of busy people. Dirty place, though. Not that he could leave with casts on an arm and a leg, his ribs wrapped up, but at least they got that stapler out from where it got embedded.

I brought him some food, messed with the computers to make sure his treatment would be covered, and double checked his chart to make sure he hadn’t been accidentally scheduled for a testicular cancer check with tissue samples or something. Let that be a lesson to all of y’all: friends don’t let friends accidentally lose their balls.

What’s that, you want to defend the competency of doctors and surgeons to me? Yeah right. Next you’ll be claiming that all those grown adults with years of training that stick their hands inside people also remember to wash their hands and count their tools afterwards.

What’s that? “But Gecko, you shove your hands into people’s bodies all the time without washing up immediately afterward.” Hey, I’m not trying to keep people alive when I do it.

People make dumb mistakes, even the smart ones.

Like me, I make mistakes all the time. I even messed up a few things this time around. Sometimes winning means making sure the other side messes up more than you do.

“In light of the stunning and candid look into the heroes we trust to defend us and our values, the hero group Shieldwall has decided to disband. It is for the best that they did.”

Ah yes, the opening lines to another article about my triumph. An opinion piece, I think. The title is “Armies Are Unwelcome.”

“Evidence mounted that the heroes had begun a self-perpetuating feud with the supervillain that drove each side to escalate the conflict with every encounter. This war drove both sides further than they should have gone. A supervillain is hardly expected to hold to laws or self-restraint, but a group of heroes as numerous and powerful and with as much backing as Shieldwall should have been able to defeat him without resorting to the unthinkable. In almost full agreement, they talked of executing the supervillain without even the benefit of a trial. Nobody in their right mind condones the actions of Psycho Gecko, but the thought of self-appointed vigilantes serving as judge, jury, and executioner is abhorrent to the hearts of Americans everywhere.

Superheroes have been a long and proud tradition in the United States since well before World War II. They’ve worked for the people without the interference of the government, and sometimes with government complicity or even at the beck and call of the government. But the American people will not sit idly by and allow our streets to be patrolled by the unaccountable. They protect the peace and serve the public trust against extraordinary circumstances with amazing abilities. Some are virtually tanks, but our streets were not meant to be patrolled by tanks. We the people, under the Posse Comitatus Act, don’t allow the government to patrol the country with machines of war. Yes, we can stomach vigilantes, but armies are unwelcome here.”

It goes on a bit, usually trying to make that point about armies. I would have settled for hammering home that point that the continuing attacks forced me to find creative, and destructive ways to defend myself, but then they caught me. Victory defeated them.

You know, I can actually sympathize with them wanting to kill me. It was probably the best thing they could have done. It’s what they really wanted to do, after all. That’s not to say Venus was wrong. That was very much her own response.

Let me elaborate. When you’ve lived your life with a mindset molded by what your parents taught you, which they learned from their parents, only thinking of things in the way you were raised to think them…then I don’t care about you. You aren’t a real person. You’re your grandparents in a younger body. Start thinking for yourself and you can start living for yourself.

“Our prayers go out to the victims of that day when the fatal feud reached its boiling point. We wish it hadn’t taken such stunning revelations and the death, assumed or real, of a supervillain to finally bring our city a little closer to peace.”

“They think you’re dead?”

I folded up the newspaper and looked up at Carl. “Yep. They assume I’m dead. The smart ones are holding out until a body’s found, but they’ll give in before long. Some of the heroes check in around the hospitals just in case I show up here in a bed. I’m glad to have a break from all that attention for now.”

“Don’t forget you won’t have to worry about the heroes now. Hey, you don’t think that’s another trick, do you?”

“Nah, I got a guy who’s good with the news. He helped confirm it for me. The Master Academy heroes are heading back east. Bright Star, Miss Tycism, the Human Sloth; they took the worst of the fighting. There’s no word about Honky Tonk Hero. People speculate Gorilla Awesome might help the Kingscrow capes, whatever their team name was, but no one’s certain about him. Forcelight’s going to head back and keep an eye on Kingscrow. Keep getting reacquainted with her dad. He’s not such a Good Doctor after all, telling stories about me to his daughter. Raggedy Man’s going with them. He’s been training the private cops over there anyway. Troubleshooter and Mechamoto are kinda wobbly. They might go their own ways. Finally, last I heard of Black Raptor, he was back home taking care of his kids.”

“Wow, they put all that in the newspaper?”

“Of course not, but I said I knew a guy who was into the news. What is the point of having your own news organization by the balls if you aren’t going to wiretap anyone who might possibly be a threat or critic?”

“Huh. So we won?”

“We won.”

“Wow, and it sounds like everything’s calming down,” said Carl.

“Benefit of temporary death. Good tax dodge too.” I thought about things quieting down. Then I couldn’t help but grin.

“Something funny, boss?” asked this prince of plaster casts.

“Yeah, a delivery I arranged before we did everything on the Empyre State Building. I owed somebody a little present before making things dangerous.”

Carl glanced at the TV, which was turned to the news but left muted. “Hey, something else is going on. Can I hear that?”

I switched on the volume as a blonde addressed the camera in the studio, “-ene of a large attack seemingly perpetuated by a dead man or at least arranged before his death. Ladies and gentlemen, if you’re just joining us, then you should know a sonic bomb similar to that used in Kingscrow has been detonated within Paradise City, damaging every piece of glass in the city, destroying equipment vulnerable to sensitive vibrations, and exposing old people and little kids to a curse word. Let’s go to Dwight Bryan in the field to see how the survivors are coping.”

They cut to a man with lightish darkish skin. I suppose I’ll have to learn more about coffee to describe skin tones. “Thank you, Danielle. I’m here with a local business owner, Mr. Soreston of Soreston Appliances.” The camera panned over to show an older man with a craggy face and light brown hair. “Mr. Soreston, can you tell us about how this event impacted your store?”

The old man held his hand to his ear. “Huh?!”

“How has this affected you?!”

“Something, something shoe?!”

“You know, I think we’ll ask Mrs. Anderson here.” Dwight stepped across in front of Mr. Soreston. The cameraman followed him to a thin woman with grey hair down past her shoulders and a denim skirt on. “She’s been a Sunday School teacher for 40 years, isn’t that right?”

Like the man, she strained to hear. “What?”

“Wonderful. Ma’am, were the children traumatized in any way by the event and the word they heard?”

“The fuck you sayin’?”

Dwight pushed her out of sight of the camera quickly and plastered an artificial smile on his blushing face “Now to Danielle in the studio. Danielle?”

“Thank you Dwight.”

I muted it again. “Well, I’m glad that worked out. That Ouroboros asshole had it coming.”

I excused myself soon after as I had a meeting to get to. As instructed, I approached the Marriott World Trade Center looking for an expensive car. Needle in a haystack much? My attention was drawn to one in particular when the door opened for me, courtesy of a female hand. Mercedes-Benz by the look of it. Not too ostentatious. There was more to it, though. That little part under the headlights wasn’t standard. It was closed off. I couldn’t see inside due to the window tint, but at least the hand saved me the trouble of checking it over for bombs.

I slid in next to Dame and shut the door behind me. I saw there wasn’t a driver. “Fancy car.”

“Thank you,” she said. She had her mask on.

“Surprised you want to see me, but I guess you were their next best choice after Venus. Always that annoying tendency to find me,” I said.

Dame looked at me with light, clear blue eyes. Deep. Like I could fall into them. Those are pretty eyes. I’d love to be able to look down and see them on a keychain or something. “After all you and the team have been through, they felt it best to discover if rumors of your death were premature. You and her don’t cross paths unless you absolutely have to, that’s a condition right from the start.”

“They worried I’ll break her?”

“You should be worried that she’ll break you. You’ve taken a lot from her and she’s got what it takes to beat you, I think. More than that, you owe her. Her argument held her teammates up long enough not to kill you when they could.” I nodded and opened my mouth to speak, but she cut me off, “Not that they will try to kill you. Everyone walks away. There’s no more Shieldwall, and your grudge against them is done. They won’t try to come after you particularly, but that doesn’t mean you can pull stuff right in front of them and expect them to ignore you. The longer you draw out this death of yours, the better for everyone involved.”

“What stick are they using to keep me in line?” I asked, rubbing my butt against the cushiony seat.

“They’ll reveal you’re alive if you try something before you out yourself. I imagine the sooner that is to all of this mess you’ve caused, the more likely that vengeful heroes and an unhappy government are going to come knocking at your door. You’ve blown up a national icon and a major building in a short amount of time. Wars have started for less. But the main consequence, once everyone knows you aren’t dead, is this starts up again. You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t want to avoid that too.”

“Unless y’all get lucky and take me out by trying something, of course.”

“It is the heroes’ understanding that such an attempt would be unsuccessful and lead to more death and destruction than if you were left to yourself. Do we have a deal?”

“Maybe. This is the second time lately I’ve been offered a deal by Shieldwall. Why do they expect me to keep to it?”

She ran a fingertip along a seam between gems on her mask, “I imagine because you kept to your deal concerning me. You expect me to know what the heroes are thinking?”

I pointed at her nose, “I hear you tend to listen at doors. Think of it as a condition of my acceptance if it’s such a problem.”

She reached out her hand for a handshake.

“Enchanté, mademoiselle,” I said while taking her hand and kissing the back of it. I then turned it into a handshake.

“Forcelight’s learned things from her alleged father. A deal’s a deal, Psycho Gecko.”

“Please, Dame, Psycho Gecko is what everyone calls me. Feel free to call me…Psycho Gecko.”

She snorted and pulled her hand away. “Charming, truly, but I have places to be. We wouldn’t want Forcelight to think you’ve done something to me and rejected the arrangement.”

I got the impression she wanted me gone, so I popped the door and stepped out. She reached over to close it and the car took off as soon as it shut. A driverless car that doesn’t have the roof setup? That’s a fancy car. There better not be another company opening up a “steal Psycho Gecko’s stuff” division.

In the waning light of the day, I looked out over the unsuspecting city full of the vulnerable and forgotten. Whatever a post-Shieldwall life holds in store for me, I will never forget that with great power comes great superiority over mortal man. This is my curse, no, my gift. Ha, only those unimaginative masses could see such power as a curse, but I deserve it. I’m different. Who am I? I’m Psycho Gecko, man.




9 thoughts on “Arete in Epilogue

  1. BetaFasta

    Typos, getcha typos here! Get ’em while they’re not “accepted into common usage!”

    *are there no depths to which you won’t seek?
    Not sure if you meant “sink” which is the usual phrase, or just changed it for fun, it sorta makes sense, seeking out the depths, but if if so I’d take out “to”. The next few lines imply it should be “sink”: “Who am I to talk, anyway? I did some sinking, mostly through the collapsing Empyre State Building and into the dark underbelly of the city.” I’d reword it a little to make the comparison a little more direct, something along the lines of “I was sinking quite a bit myself,”
    *I! Am! A badman!
    Not sure if “badman” should be “bad man” like in “it’s hard to keep a bad man down.” or if it’s a pun on “Batman” going off of “I am the fright (night)”, or something like that.
    *So yes, I survived. Like a little horde of heroes, a collapsing building, incompatible technology, and some Cherenkov radiation-induced heartburn.
    I’d put a comma after “Like”, makes it more clear that it’s a list of what he survived, rather than a list of what also survived / similar things.
    *a regular Joe Schmo
    I’ve always seen it spelled “Schmoe”, but Wikipedia says both versions (and others) are used. Huh, and my browser spellchecker likes Schmo but not Schmoe, so no big deal either way. I think it should be Schmoe, myself, because it comes from replacing the first letter of “Joe” with “Schm”, just like “Fancy Schmancy”.
    *the thought of self-imposed vigilantes
    Maybe should be “self-appointed”, but imposed kinda works too, as they’re imposing themselves on society.
    *Some are virtual tanks,
    Probably perfectly acceptable common usage, but “virtually” is technically a less ambiguous word to use here. If Forcelight or another light manipulator could create a virtual tank out of solid light constructs, that would be pretty cool, though.
    * to finally bring about our city a little closer to peace.”
    I’d take out “about” or add something after “city”, like “moving” or “returning”.
    * if you aren’t going wiretap anyone who
    Needs a “to” after “going”.
    *a large attack seeming perpetuated by a dead man
    Maybe “seemingly”.
    *shut the door being me.
    *only those unit masses
    Not sure about this phrase. Masses made up of units of ordinary people?

    A fine day to you, and may your plots never end with you occupying one!

    1. Psycho Gecko Post author

      I don’t entirely remember what I had instead of unit there, but it wasn’t supposed to be that word. From how some of them went, it’s almost as if some sort of auto-correct was at work. Some day, they’re going to have to make autocorrect 3 laws compatible to avoid nearly nuking a country.

      1. BetaFasta

        “Sadly, the near extinction of mankind beginning in late spring of 2026 AD was caused not by such weighty matters as dwindling resources, belligerent national pride, or even one of the thousands of secret societies and individuals plotting to take over the world, or at least a good chunk of it. No, as far as we can tell with what limited records remain, it was caused by President Hewitt of America, whose last words, before the rain of destruction began, are recorded as such: “Damn it, Siri, I said ‘Start my car, please,’ not ‘Start World War Three!'”

        – Excerpt from “A Short History of the 21st Century: Cars, Cellphones, and the Apocalypse, 3rd edition.”

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  4. farmerbob1

    under 21
    Rule 34
    Numbers less than 100 rule

    “It stank very much bad down there.”
    Did you intend this arrangement of words? It feels like a parody of a little kid holding his nose and complaining about some sort of stink. If not, it needs work. If so, it’s fine 🙂


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