The bad news first: Leah didn’t change her mind.
Sam and Holly refused to talk her out of it for me, no matter how much I chased the pair of them around with the leg of one of the club patrons. Said patron will get over it since he was that vampire I’ve noticed around.
Max didn’t intervene one way or the other. Didn’t tell them to help change Leah’s mind, but didn’t stop me from chasing them with the bloody leg. I think he had a sidebet on how long I would keep after them, though. Max also made sure I kept the leg on ice for him. A sample for him to take back to his lab, you know.
I wanted to work on this new costume slowly, but I let myself get goaded into putting some effort into it. It was Holly’s opinion that any attempt I made to create a superhero costume would look like some crappy department store knock off and I’d probably wind up using my armor and a hologram. I’m no expert, but I always look spiffy. Even this old pirate costume I once had was pretty good looking. People had no idea why I had a tattered cape and a pirate hat on over tights, but it still looked good.
Nothing custom as far as boots. Combat boots, but red, with camo laces. The bottoms were tight. Bulletproof, but not on the strong side. Let’s just say I’d be getting welts. Lack of time meant lack of any sort of plating. Most of the standard bulletproofing uses some sort of armor rather that isn’t very flexible. That armor, whether Kevlar or ceramic, would react to a gunshot by absorbing and dispersing some of the blow. This stuff I used prevents penetration, but that’s it.
So that’s what made up the top and bottom. The legs from the boots to the thighs were white. Then it was blue camo for the torso until the biceps, where it went white again until ending in red padded gloves. One of my rockets was attached to each arm, attached to the outside edge of my forearms. The torso’s look didn’t matter much, due to the bulletproof modular body armor vest I had on over it, also with a blue camo design. Over the chest was a design of a diagonal-pointed white and red missile, with the word “Patriot” stenciled beneath it. The same design and word were on my cape too. Yes, I had a cape. It was a big and luxurious thing made of the same material as the rest of my costume.
The helmet is what gave me the most difficulty, though. Fucking helmets. Hard to get them right unless you strap one all the way around your head like power armor. That’s why I was finally like “Fuck it,” and just worked the thing in with a mask. The mask’s fabric is all under and over that thing. I even put little hooks between the inner fabric and the helmet to help hold it into place without having straps. Kinda like Velcro, but bigger. If you’ve seen a military helmet like an ECH, M1, ACH, or MICH, then you have a rough idea what it looked like. Once again, it had blue camo. Oh, I did have one other major piece of armor. A reinforced codpiece that looked like a bright red eagle. On my crotch. Didn’t want the rocket to get too red a glare or have my bombs bursting in air.
I’m sure those of you reading this have a pretty accurate idea of how the gang reacted to seeing it. Just to be on the safe side, I deleted photos and videos from Holly’s and Sam’s phones every time they tried to take them. Max actually laughed hard enough that he had to grab a trash can and walk himself to the bathroom while his last meal came up. And by last meal, I mean I was tempted to make it his last meal. Carl grinned, but I told him “Don’t you have a van to make all patriotic before we go out?”
“Sure, boss. You look good, by the way,” he said as he walked briskly away.
“You dressed to match me?” asked Leah.
“Well, I thought it kinda worked like that, Whatever Your Name Is Girl.”
“I haven’t thought of a name. You make it out like such a big deal that I don’t want to pick something that sticks with you just because of this. This is just a try out.”
“Fine, fine, retain some of your dignity. I’ll just stand here, letting my dignity run down my leg and puddle in my fabulous boots.”
Holly spoke up. “Hey, Gecko, what are you going to go by in that getup?”
“You’ve heard of the Patriot missile? Beware, evildoers, of…Missile Patriot!” I said, flexing with my left arm while pointing up into the sky with my right.
Saying it caused those villainous women to quake, and then collapse onto the floor. Not so much in fear, admittedly. That said, I was close to killing them with laughter when Max came back.
Meanwhile, Leah was busy looking me over. “Does this make me your sidekick?”
“Not exactly. Maybe. Kinda, but not really. We have a third going with us on this little outing and that person might be the sidekick.”
Sam shook her head and pointed at Holly. Holly pointed back at Sam.
“I’m not going, get her to go!”
“You betrayed me first!”
“Hush you two, and prepare to be wowed by the might of…Rushmore!” I said, and waved my arms toward the hole down to the lair. What jumped out appeared to be a stone pillar the color of carved granite. Where Moai’s face would be was instead a likeness of George Washington topped with his own tricorne. Fabric, not another clay fake.
“Well look at that. Guess if anyone wants to laugh at me, they’d better be prepared to laugh at my strong and sometimes-violent friend here, right Rushmore?”
Ah yes, so we set out for adventure that night and we found…absolutely nothing. Just a little bit of complaining.
“Why do supers prefer night so much anyway?” Leah asked me as we cruised around in the repaired and repainted battle van. I missed this thing. Blowing up a giant steam-powered octopus was my idea of a good time. I was looking forward to more such times. Unfortunately, this time I was just dealing with questions. And also unfortunately, this time it had a flag paint job on the sides. The only way it could get more obnoxious looking was if I had flags flapping out the windows and a mural of a bald eagle leading a flight of F-15s. I’m a murderer and a thief drowning in American flags!
Huh. So that’s why Republicans are pissed off all the time.
“A bunch of reasons, I think. Everything works a little better. Night is for people to go out and act crazy and have fun, and it’s when people get scared more. Because night is when the fantastic occurs. That works for heroes and villains. Plus, shadows help to hide people’s faces along with masks and such. Most of all, what works for me, is the anticipation. Don’t you feel it, when the sun’s going down and night is falling?”
Leah took a moment to think about that. “Yeah, I can kind of see that. I’ve been feeling excited all day about us going on patrol. It’s too bad it’s turning out so boring.”
“Not like we can just crash into people’s houses and beat the pants off them like this. We’re supposed to be heroes now. Protectors of the innocent. Righters of wrong. Do-gooders. We’re even supposed to stop hitting people when they stop fighting back.”
Leah rolled her eyes, then sighed and just looked out the window into the cold, cold night.
I told you the bad news, so now you’re probably wondering what the good news is. That’s what the rest of this update is for.
See, the good news, is I got to beat the crap out of some guys the next night.
It all started when we got word over the police scanner that the crumpet factory was being robbed.
“Who robs a crumpet factory? I didn’t know crumpets were made in factories. What’s a crumpet?” Leah asked in rapid succession as we sped along in the Screaming Eagle van, flags flapping away loudly from where they now hung outside the windows.
“All you need to remember, Leah, is that crumpets are crunk. Now, time for some action sequence music.”
“Because I’m dressed like this, that’s why.” I punched a button on the CD player and cranked the volume way up.
I rocked out to the singer yelling “America, fuck yeah!” as I sped there. By the time we rose over the hill in front of the factory and got airborne, Leah had all but set up a baptismal font in the passenger seat. She was discovering faith in gods she didn’t even know she worshipped. One of the thieves scrambled to get out of the security gatehouse before we crashed through it and slid to a stop, blocking the only way out of there. Even for the semi they brought along, it wouldn’t be easy. Leah’s prayer ended with “…and please don’t let anybody die. Amen.”
I saw a large humanoid approaching, flanked by some thugs who looked armed. Maybe seven thugs, and the one weirdly-shaped guy. Too round, with crooked legs. “Alright, kid. Time to follow my lead. Remember, you got that flag nightstick and smoke grenades and your costume is bulletproof. If you need help, call for Moai, or Rushmore. Whichever, though try to stick to our official names for the night.” I looked back and saw my faithful sidekick nod in understanding. I opened the door and swung out to the roof of the van, nearly getting tangled up in a flag in the process.
Rushmore and Leah followed, in their own way. Rushmore slid out the rear door and stood on one side of the van. Leah scooted over to the other, getting into the fighting stance she adopted for herself. I stood there, arms akimbo, and called out to them, “Alright, evildoers. Crumpet? Time to give it up. I, the Missile Patriot, command you to-!”
WANK! The big one with the weird torso and legs had thrown a crowbar at me and it bounced off the van. Others were pulling out guns.
“Oh, that’s it. It’s on now, bitch. Rushmore, time for the Congressional Roll Call.”
Rushmore moved to stand underneath where I stood and flopped onto his side. I jumped and did a front flip, landing on him in a wide stance as opposed to planting my feet on my own cape. I moved my feet backwards as Rushmore rolled toward the group. Like pins, we managed to knock down four who didn’t get out of the way, with one guy jumping out of the way and falling down anyway. That left two for me to confront, except Leah ran up and went after one of them.
I turned to the guy who was left, who was pulling a pistol on me. I spun, grabbing the gun with my right hand, throwing my cape up over the guy’s face, and then turning before it slid off to shoot him right in his cape-draped chest. He collapsed after a couple of shots, taking his broken ribs with him.
I dropped the magazine from it, cleared the round in the chamber, and used it to pistol whip the next guy who stood up across the mouth. He went back down, nursing a few chipped teeth and possibly a fractured jawbone.
I tossed the gun at the next guy, who had more time to prepare. It didn’t do much to him and he came at me in a lower stance like he was going to tackle me. I jumped over him and caught his head between my thighs. I grabbed his hips, too. It would have looked a lot dirtier if it was his crotch instead of his butt in my face, but I kept spinning with the momentum, pulling him off his feet with me until I was spun around to a sitting position on the ground, slamming his head into the dirt.
I pushed him away and stood up, only to catch a shotgun blast to the back. Considering I normally wear heavier power armor, I think I took it fairly well. I faceplanted, but there wasn’t any personal damage at the time. I was hauled to my feet by a pair of thugs holding my arms. The big guy stepped more clearly into my view.
He was a mottled brown color, like a frog, because he was a frog. At least, he was an anthropomorphic frog. With bright red hairs running down from where his sideburns would be, along the sides of his body, and down his thighs.
I knew of the guy. Horror Frog. Some unlucky biologist with the real life name of Harry Robustus got into one hell of an accident in Central Africa involving lots of big sciency terms and was transformed into a man-sized, anthropomorphic horror frog. He grabbed my face in his moist hands and said, “Call off your girl and your pet rock.”
He showed me both in turn. Rushmore plowed through one of the thugs and then into the front of the semi, stranding the heist. Leah had been trying to pull a shotgun away from another guy whose direction was just about right to have shot me. She got him to drop it and twisted his wrist, locking it. Then she drove him head first into the gut of another thug heading for her.
“Why? We’re winning.”
Horror Frog growled at me and removed his hand so he could crack his knuckles, except he did it quickly and violently. He held one hand open where I could see the broken finger bones poking out of his fingertips like claws. “Or else I flay you and feed them your gallbladder.”
“You fiend! Unhand me! My gallbladder would never turn on me. That would take a lot of gall.” And then that’s when I fired the first rocket. It stayed firmly attached to my arm but drove my first right into Horror Frog’s soft face, sending him stumbling back. The backblast dropped the guy who had been holding onto me. The other one let me go in all the fuss and I grabbed his throat with right hand. I knelt and fired off the rocket in my left hand, driving it up in a massive uppercut that was further aided by the right rocket kicking in and flying me up into the air while he fell back to the ground.
With my arms in front of me guiding the rockets, I turned in a circle and came back down for Horror Frog.
He stomped his feet and dug into the ground while working his fingertips down further along his finger bones, producing longer and longer claws. He let out a massive croak of “Brrrrrringit!” I obliged, rocketing toward him.
A few moments before I connected, Leah stepped in behind him and smacked him across the head with a nightstick that proudly waved the American flag from it. He flinched, closing both eyes. Seeing me bearing down on him, she then dropped to all fours behind him. Horror Frog kept one claw ready while the other swiped behind him, but to no avail.
I cut the rockets enough to straighten myself out. When I slammed into his face, it was reinforced armored codpiece first, with a righteous cry of “’Merica!” One strike with my patented Bunker Buster didn’t just make him trip back over Leah and fall. It sent him tripping off his feet and through the air, though not for very far.
I considered calling it the Washington Monument, but I decided Rushmore got to have that one. Good guy, Rushmore. He caught me after I toppled the terrible amphibious crumpet thief.
A mere ten minutes later, I memorialized the momentous occasion of my dick saving the crumpets of Empyreal City with a speech.
“So know this, citizens: wherever freedom is threatened by tyranny, wherever liberty is threatened by hate, wherever crumpets are threatened by frogs, the Missile Patriot, Rushmore, and Miss L will be there to save America’s liberty!”
I stood proud and looked into the sky, arms akimbo once more. An American flag waved behind me and, as the titular lyrics of “God Bless the U.S.A.” blared out, I considered letting a single tear roll down my mask.
“Uh huh. That’s very good and all. Can you guys go ahead and turn that down?” asked one of the officers who was there to take a quick statement from me as they rounded up the crooks.
Down below me, in the van, Leah turned off the radio.
“Thank you, sweetie,” said the officer, waving at her.
I dropped to the ground just in front of him and held my hand up, “Don’t thank me. The freedom-loving dreams of all-American boys and girls is thanks enough for me. Now then, Miss L, to the Missile Silo!”