“You know, Gecko, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about something. I don’t want you to misunderstand this, but it has to do with your ass.”
“Uh huh. Max, I know it can’t be an easy subject to broach for you. And I have to say, old friend, that I think I know what it is you ache to say. The same thought has passed through my own mind.”
“Yes. But I want to hear you say it.”
“Is this really the time for this sort of thing?” someone said, rudely interrupting the conversation Max and I were having. I turned away from the worktable where I was gathering up parts and pieces. Max was busy at a computer nearby, a pair of long boxes at his feet. A short distance from both of us was the guy who spoke, tied up with his colleagues nearby.
I kicked him in the syringe that poked out of his chest. “Quiet, you.” I turned to Max. “Didn’t want to hit them with anything stronger?”
Max shrugged. “He must have had a big lunch.”
I locked together the casing of the assembly I’d been working on and set it in the duffel bag I had with me. “So, about that thing. That deeply personal thing we were discussing. Has the moment passed us by?”
Sam’s voice came through my helmet and Max’s earbud. “Hey you two. You might have to cut your time in the lab short. Just got a call in from Gecko Jr. She says she accidentally took a bunch of hostages over at her friend’s place. She needs someone to come pick her up.”
“Ok, first thing’s first: she is not Gecko Jr. Not even Matatoa was Gecko Jr.”
“Who?” Sam asked.
“Baby New Year. I’ll tell you about it later. Second, send Carl over there with my car.” I turned to Max. “You want in on this?”
He nodded enthusiastically.
“Alright, Sam. You let her know. She calls down the whirlwind and I’ll rape the thunder.”
“Hanging up now, Sam.”
Max and I finished up. He withdrew a flash drive from the computer, and I made sure I had the parts and pieces I came for. The fighting started as soon as I kicked open the door to the lab. A female security guard approached and fired at me with a flechette gun. A cloud of small shards burst from the end of the pistol in her hands only to wind up deflecting harmlessly off my armor.
I lowered my shoulders and bullrushed her, then stood up with her on my shoulder. A second guard came at me from that direction of the hallway, holstering their flechette pistol in favor of an electrified baton. I had a melee weapon of my own, though. I rammed my fist up into sphincter of the guard on my shoulder and swung her to slap the baton away from this other combatant. I chopped him twice across the head with his screaming colleague before bashing down hard. Both guards tumbled to the ground in no shape to put up much of a fight.
In my rear view, I caught a glimpse of Max shooting another guard in the head with his syringe gun, both long boxes carried by straps on each shoulder. The guard collapsed and writhed as his head transformed into a large frog and hopped away. He turned toward me. “Quite the ass-assination.”
“Oh, Max, don’t be so ass-inine.”
“Asinine…maybe asin-eight if I’m being honest.” He then waved me over. “Come on, this way is out.”
I checked my minimap. “No, this way.”
“I’m telling you, you’re wrong.”
“Oh yeah? I got a map.”
Max checked his gun and adjusted something in the cylinder, then walked stomped over to me. Another guard rounded the corner from the left and caught a syringe right in the gut. Max stepped up to him asked him, “Which way out of here? The way you came from, or this other way behind us?” He motioned back in the way he suggested with his head.
The guard’s eyes bugged out and the veins in his throat seemed to pop out as well. He pointed back the way he came, then fell to his knees, starting to foam at the mouth.
“Hmm. You were right, Gecko. Lead on.” Max bowed and let me take the lead on getting us out.
“New truth serum, Max?” I said as I turned a corner and found a pair of guards kneeling on the tile of the sparse hall, taking potshots at us with flechette guns. I stopped Max and leaned against the wall, pulling out a rubber chicken.
“Why yes, thank you for noticing.”
“The thing with the veins was new,” I said as I yanked the head off the rubber chicken. I tossed it around the corner at the two guards who opened fire and shredded it. It still bounced off the tiles and attempted to walk, trying to cross the nearest road for some damn reason, and exploded before the guards could get away.
“It amazes me at times when you pay attention to such details,” Max told me as the dust and pink mist settled.
Our exit three minutes later bumped the entire operation into being roughly twenty minutes long. Didn’t take us long to get to Nicky’s house either, courtesy of those boxes Mix N’Max was carrying. He sat them down and popped them open to reveal our old friends the rockets. We both strapped in, grabbed the controls, and left a very frustrated building full of Infinite Horizon Labs technicians in our dust.
I could see the initial barricade of policemen around Nicky’s house on approach. I hopped off right in front of it as I plowed the rocket into one of them. It flew off a good ways, too many wookie lengths for me to count, and I hit the self destruct. Other officers behind me took cover behind their cars and issued ultimatums. Max interrupted them, falling to land beside me as his rocket flew into the midst of the cars and officers and detonated.
I saw a familiar face framed with long hair brighten up at the sight of us. I jumped the steps and threw open the door to find myself hugged by Leah. “Oh, thank you thank you thank you thank you! What’s that smell?”
“That’s not important. What seems to be the problem?”
She turned and pointed to where other people were grouped up in the living room. There was Nicky, someone I assumed was her mom, a tall wiry teen boy holding his nose with a bloody hand, and a teenage girl with a wig in her hands that she must have really wanted to use to cover up this horrible yellow and pink mass of hair on her head that seemed to be glowing it was so bright. I mean, I’ve seen yellow and pink hair done right before. In dreadlocks, even, with the woman having green eyebrows. Now she did it well. These colors, that brightness, all mixed up? Uh uh, this girl here was a mess. A bitchy pouty mess.
“That’s Nicky’s boyfriend, and that’s his sister, one of the girls who…well…you know. She was here and they started talking about harassing my mom because of me. I couldn’t stand to hear her so I came out of hiding and busted his face and I’m not sorry!” Leah explained, raising her voice so the last four words were almost a shout and directed right at the boy. “So then Nicky’s mom called the cops and said I was here. I just kept them all here and called for you.” She sniffed the air, then turned back to me. “What’s that smell?”
“Figures she’d be hanging out with more trash like herself now,” muttered the girl. I walked over toward her, but the tall boy wanted to be a hero. He stood up and put himself in front of me.
“Wow, she got you good,” I said, looking up at the guy’s face. “Here, let me see that nose.”
He took his hand away, flexing it into a fist as if to threaten me. I grabbed his chin in one hand and raised the other as if to examine his broken nose, but then I balled it up and drove it into the broken nose, knocking him to the floor. He screamed as he fell, his voice breaking, and was soon joined by his sister. I grabbed her by the unkind amalgamation of pink and yellow and slapped her across the face with the dirty hand from the security guard’s ass.
She screamed and tried to flee, but I shoved my boot into her gut. Not into it in the gory way, just enough to knock her down and keep her down. She fell against the couch, where said boot held her. “So, Leah, what do you want to do? Leave some bodies? Bring along with us? You want me to kill her mother with a broken lawn chair? We can make her eat hickory-smoked horse buttholes from a cup. The power is yours.”
I saw Leah’s fingers twitch in my helmet’s 360 degree view. I think she was wrestling with it, but it didn’t take long before she bowed her head and said, “No. Let’s just go.”
“Alright, we’ll have to give it a minute before Carl gets here.” I put my foot back on the carpet and pulled out another rubber chicken. The bully tried to move, but I smacked her across the face with my cock and that made her sit tight. “I got my eye on you,” I warned.
I walked over toward the big living room window behind the TV. I watched through the curtains as the sound of approaching sirens turned into a pair of squad cars that pulled up. “I hear this stuff was easier in this dimension back before cell phones and text messaging.”
Max stepped up beside me long enough to glance out the window and light up something he’d rolled himself.
“Somebody did not do anybody any favors calling the cops,” I mentioned to him.
“Big bad supervillains afraid of a badge and a gun?” The girl I’d slapped was about to get a Darwin award for that statement, but I remembered what Leah said. Maybe she did too and was mocking me just because she could.
“We should probably keep this from escalating until the car gets here,” Max said.
Two of the officers waited out by the cars. Two more approached. They were moving briskly, but weren’t quite taking things seriously yet.
“Why aren’t they busting down the doors with SWAT teams or something?” asked Nicky.
I answered “A SWAT team is a little much for a teen runaway with superpowers that some people wouldn’t think too much of. No offense, Leah.”
The cops knocked on the door.
I grinned under my helmet. “Let’s go make it somebody’s bad day.”
In the brief amount of time it took me to prepare, one of the cops went to check the window. He was drawn back to the door by the screaming. Then I kicked open the door, hard. It threw one officer back and off the steps. The other didn’t know what to do when he saw me walk out carrying a very bitchy bully with her anus impaled on my left hand. My right was easier for him to keep track of since it came rushing up under his chin and snapped his head up. He stumbled back and off the edge of the porch.
Leah spoke from inside the house. “You don’t handle hostage situations well, do you?”
“At least they’ll live this way!”
A call interrupted the exchange and the constant whines of the girl whose intestines I was tickling. The officers down at the street were calling in reinforcements, but nobody was going to risk firing on me so long as I was going Vlad the Impaler on the other girl. “Hello?”
“Hey Boss, almost there. You going to be ready to go in a minute?”
With my right arm, I fetched my rubber chicken, twirled it around, grabbed it between my thighs, and yanked the head off. Then I pulled it out, spun, and tossed it down to street level. “I hope you’re right about it being a minute.”
“Yeah, shouldn’t be- Jesus! That was you wasn’t it? I’m almost there.” Carl was referring, of course, to the explosion that took out one car. The chicken had rolled under it and lifted it up. The officer closest to it was more liquid than solid after that. The other was a little crispy, but probably alive.
“Rides almost here. Let’s pack it up, folks!” I told them all.
Leah and Max stepped out. “Are they going to try anything?” she said, looking between the two closer policemen.
Max shot each of them with a syringe. “No, they’re too busy conquering Marshmallow Mountain now.”
Carl pulled up with a squeal of brakes, bicycle falling off the front grill. He called out to us, “Everybody alright?
I tossed the whimpering bitch unceremoniously onto the lawn then followed after Max and Leah, who filed in. I made the little gesture that means “Call me” with my left hand just before I closed the car door.
On the ride back to the Secret Lair, Leah curled up and hugged her knees. Even though I was right there beside her, there was a very obvious reason why I couldn’t put an arm around her. You know, feces.
“You ok?” I asked.
“I don’t know. People aren’t supposed to be like this.”
None of us in the car there had any clear understanding of what she meant by that, I think. Still, I tried to comfort her as she sniffled. “If it helps, that girl’s going to be in a lot of pain now. And no guy is ever going to want to do her up the ass now.”
Leah laughed at that. Then she went quiet for a couple minutes. “You always hear that bullies have some excuse. They had a bad childhood too, or they’re abused, or whatever. That doesn’t really matter, does it? Like, they’ve been sending death threats to my mom anonymously so why should I care if her dad’s never home? There’s no excuse, but nobody does anything about it.” She looked me over. “’Cept you guys. Thanks.”
“Sure. Can’t hardly train you to be pure evil if you’re arrested. Just disappointed you didn’t want to take any revenge on her.”
“Actually, I think I want to now.”
“Yay, good for you. What do you have planned? We can turn the car around if you need to go back.”
Staring off into the back of Max’s seat, Leah shook her head. “No. I want to go get her another time. It will scare her more if, like, she woke up and saw us in the middle of the night. You and me.”
“Sounds like a plan, little one. Another nice example to everyone about how much worse things can be when people care more about sympathetic bullies than what’s right.”
Leah giggled. “God, this is crazy!”
“The world’s crazy. Normality is an illusion, as is normalcy. It’s about time you joined the madness. Oh, that reminds me. Hey Max, we never did finish our conversation from back at the lab.”
“Oh yeah! I forgot about that,” he said, tossing his rolled up thingy out the window. I couldn’t say if it was a joint with any more accuracy than I could call it a cigarette.
“Yes, you had something very important to tell me. Very intimate. About my ass. Is it ok to bring it up with other people around?”
I noticed Leah holding her breath as she looked between the two of us.
Max just chuckled. “I was just going to ask about your throne, man. It just doesn’t seem like you.”
As Max and I got into a discussion about our mutual misgivings over my throne, Leah let out the breath she held and rolled her eyes.