Over the next few days, Venus and I were able to put enough of our differences aside to try and set up a plan.
First, I was able call in to the Master Academy for Venus, though she had to use me as a phone. It just involved her speaking into my ear while I played what they said through my mouth. You thought the eighties had bulky phones?
The official team of the Master Academy was busy some other problems. I’m not the only one causing trouble out there, after all. The Oligarch was causing problems again. One of those powerful “I want to rule the world” types. Sometimes that means blatant plots with robots, and sometimes that means drugging the President and Vice President of the United States to make them seem paranoid and delusional while replacing the President pro tempore of the Senate with an evil clone who takes orders from the Oligarch.
He and the Master Academy had a long history for some reason, so they were busy dealing with something related to him. They wanted Venus back to help with it, actually.
“I can’t do that,” she told them, via speaking into my ear. “I’ve got a supervillain here willing to risk death or incarceration to get his friends back. What kind of hero am I if I run out on them?”
“Hell yeah,” I said and raised my hand for a high five. Venus didn’t oblige.
“Who’s that?” asked the voice coming out of my throat and mouth.
This wasn’t nearly the first time I talked to myself, or even argued with myself, so it didn’t faze me. “Nobody, now shut up and go back to talking with Venus.” I forgot that I wasn’t actually talking to myself. I don’t have to worry about a language barrier or confusing propositions when I talk to myself, but that other person on the line just got all confused until Venus ended the call by telling him that she was going to be busy in Empyreal City taking down Amplitude and getting some people restored to size.
I thought it was cool of her, up until she told me she had to call on Forcelight and the other members of her Kingscrow team. That was totally not-excellent, dudes and dudettes. Some might even go so far as to accuse it of being bogus.
“We tried your guys first. I want to try someone else second. Then, if that doesn’t work out, we go for Forcelight,” I told her, pointing my finger at her fast.
Venus grabbed it and twisted, causing what we in the supervillain business like to call “Pain.”
“We’re compromising. Playing nice. Do you understand that, Gecko?”
“Not entirely. Perhaps you could be so kind as to break out the spiked paddle and the ballgag?” I said with a smile and a quick chuckle to hide my more honest pained reaction.
She let go. “You don’t want to see Forcelight again while you’re so small.”
“Funny you should mention that. Sounds like something I had rolling around in my head just recently.”
She sat up and looked down at me. “Are you scared, Gecko?”
“No. There’s only one thing that scares me. It’s not her.”
“Hey, are you two done trying to come up with a plan? And why are you leaving me out of things? I’m in this too,” said the booming Leah, who was carrying us around in a purse. It was convenient for her, if somewhat awkward. She’d never been much of a purse person.
Also, I was half convinced that it would magically turn into a portal to some sort of storage dimension so I could pick up supplies.
I climbed up and poked my head out the top of the purse. “Sorry, Leah. She kinda had to turn me upside down in relation to her in order to use me as a phone. You could have listened in, but you’d have had to tape me to your shoulder.”
She picked me up between two fingers and dropped me on her shoulder. Then, when Venus, poked her head out, she dropped the hero on the other shoulder. “Well, since you’re going ahead and getting heroes involved, any good news?”
Venus shook her tiny little head. “Afraid not. Gecko thinks he knows someone who can help, though.”
So it was that Leah walked in through the front door of Michelangelo’s House of Negotiable Stuff, the pawn shop front of a Mafia fence for us super evildoers. There were a couple of mooks standing around to provide security in case we tried anything, but one of the people behind the counter stuck their head in a back room to say something about us to Michelangelo.
Leah held me out on her palm. “Yo! Mikey, you here? Come on, there’s a little Gecko out here to see you! I just need to talk to you for fifteen minutes and save you fifteen percent on your car insurance!” I turned back toward Leah and a facepalming Venus. Leah looked like she wanted to facepalm, but I was in her palm so it was a bad idea. “What? You had to know that joke was coming.”
“Geez, Gecko…you’re not even half the man you used to be,” said a voice behind me. I turned to find Michelangelo looking at me.
“Heya. Figured I’d enter this way rather than have my friend here loosen your guards’ teeth. She can do it, too. She’s a mean one. I’ve seen her rip a man’s dick off telekinetically.”
To emphasize my point, Leah put her other hand to her forehead in the universal sign of “I’m pretending to be psychic right now.”
He led us to his back office, where Leah set me down on the table and went to examining all the various doohickies and gizmos laying around. Some were broken, some were refurbished, and all could do at least a little something unusual. “What’s this? A small nuclear reactor for use in robots?”
“That’s a coffeemaker, sweetheart,” answered Michelangelo. He’d gained weight since I saw him last.
“That’s all it does?”
“It makes it really fast.”
“What good is that?”
“You ever staked out a place for a few nights in a row?”
“Oooh, yeah, I see now. That would have come in handy.”
“Anyway, what can I do you for, Psycho Gecko? Clothes? New shoes? A remote control car?” He relaxed in his chair and looked down at me, but the smile on his face suggested he was just having fun and getting his jokes in while he could.
“I’m going to need some condoms, Mike. Magnums, if you got them.”
That got a chuckle out of him. I’m not sure how much my readers know about condoms, but Magnums are well known among the community that has a droopy Y chromosome that sometimes perks up at the site of a woman’s two voluptuous Xs, or when looking at another guy’s Y.
“You make a lot of people unhappy each time you have one of these death scares, Gecko. I got some guys who lost money on you turning up alive again.”
“Let’s hope it’s not a bad time for wishful thinking. Mike, you may have noticed my ego is a little bit deflated at the moment. I used to be on top of the world; now I’m staring up at it from the gutters. I need to know if you have anything that can grow one person back to their regular size again.”
A small voice “Ahem”ed from Leah’s hoodie.
“Oh, alright. It needs to be able to grow at least two people.”
“Wish I had good news for you, Gecko. You and your Thumbelina over there are out of luck. We don’t get a lot of that stuff. Too messy, you know. A lot of people die trying to make that happen. I saw a guy try to test out his own invention and got turned inside out. You’re a good customer, so I’ll tell you what, my uncle’s selling people these homeopathic pills just for men that can make them bigger in other ways, you know what I mean?”
“It’s a good way to cheat the ignorant of their money, Mike, but my other reason for being here is to shed some ignorance, not gain even more. The other thing I wanted to ask about here is if you know any Hephaestus properties in the city, or maybe where I can find this new guy named Amplitude.”
“Fuck, this again. You always come to me wanting to know where this guy is, where that guy is, you’re not supposed to do that, Gecko!”
“You’re not going to tell me? I have money.”
“I can’t keep telling you or you’ll be my only customer. I’m sorry.”
“Uh huh. I see what’s going on here…they got to you first, eh? Paid for your silence. Leah, quick, attack!” I pointed accusingly at the apologetic-looking Mike who sat back and looked up at Leah.
Leah just shrugged. “Is that going to help anything, Gecko?”
“Yes, yes it will. Quickly, use your radiation powers to make him impotent and give him breast cancer!”
Mike raised an eyebrow. “I thought you said she was psychic. You know, I think you guys need to get out of here.”
“Sure, I spend a little time small and all the respect you need to show me goes out the door?”
“Along with you. Hey, Big Ben, Little Ben, come escort our friends out. Always a pleasure to deal with someone as refined and well-mannered as yourself, Gecko. Girl, Lee, whatever your name is, maybe you can come back and do some shopping if you got money and don’t have this asshole with you.”
Big Ben and Little Ben turned out to be a tall guy with lots of muscles and a short guy with lots of muscles. Ya know, I think those names might be related to their size. Leah didn’t bother putting up a fight even as I kicked at Mike’s hand. He knocked me down with a swift flick of his finger, then picked me up by my leg and dumped me on Leah’s shoulder. Venus crawled out on Leah’s other shoulder as we stepped out into the front of the shop, escorted by the Bens.
Suddenly, Leah jumped a little and whirled, nearly causing me to fall.
“You like that?” asked one of the Bens.
That would have been a good day to have a larger foot or hand. “He touched you didn’t he? He grabbed some booty? Strike him down! Cry ‘havoc’ and let loose the dogs of asskickery.”
From the other side, Venus was looked down at them. “I’m almost inclined to agree, but there’s only so much we can help you with.”
“Do iiiiiiit! Rip his dick off. Rip it off, rip it off, rip it off.”
“Keep on walking, honey. Your toy villain is going to get you hurt if you listen to him,” Big Ben said, moving a toothpick around his mouth and crossing his arms across his chest. Beside him, red-faced Little Ben stood smirking, bald pate reflecting the light up into my eyes. I was already calculating my plan of attack.
Slowly, glaring at the pair, Leah turned to walk away. I kept an eye on Little Ben, so I saw him whistle at her. She stopped. “Nice view, honey.” Big Ben gave him a disapproving swat on the arm for that.
“Gecko’s plan wasn’t so bad after all, Leah,” I heard from the other shoulder.
Leah’s gaze swept the store as she turned around, blackening the covers of all the fluorescent lights. It was daytime, so all it did was make the place a bit shadier, but still.
Big Ben called out, “Hey Mickey- fuck my eyes!” As you may have guessed, he was interrupted by his eyes going completely blood red. He covered them with his hands. Little Ben’s attention was drawn to him for a moment before he raised his hands to try and block Leah’s kick. Dammit, she hadn’t been listening to me.
I jumped off Leah and landed on Little Ben’s bald head. I avoided Little Ben’s hands by jumping onto Big Ben’s shirt. He started patting down his chest, realizing I was on him, but he couldn’t get away, because I seized him by the short hairs. The nose hairs, that is. I gave those bad boys a good tug, making him cry. He tried to punch at me and hit himself in the process. I let go and jumped back onto Little Ben’s head. He was busy holding his throat and trying to catch his breath while nursing a broken trigger finger on his other hand, so Big Ben chasing after me and knocking him over came as something of a surprise. I saw Venus on the floor, pushing a handgun well away from the pile, then running back to disarm Big Ben as well.
I crawled out from under the heap and looked at the pile. “Hey, Leah, quick, step on them like Captain Morgan. It’ll be good.”
When Michelangelo opened the door, he found Leah standing with a foot on the back of the bawling and red-eyed Big Ben whose weight held down a struggling and somewhat hurt Little Ben.
I took a bow from Leah’s shoulder. “That’s why you should always appreciate the little things,” I told him. Leah giggled at that.
As we left, Venus and I kept an eye back there to make sure no one would chase after us. She called across the back of Leah’s neck to me, “That went great. Maybe next you can have Leah throw herself into the wolf pen at the zoo to ask for help there.”
“Alright, that didn’t go very well. I still have a lead I can try, but it is your turn. I hate to say this, but I’ll help you give Forcelight a call.”
Dun dun duuuuuuun!
“Maybe after some lunch, Gecko,” Venus said.
“Yeah, lunch sounds good,” Leah agreed.
“Hey, I know a good hibachi place, so long as a certain hero doesn’t try and push me out onto the grill…again.”
“I swear, that wasn’t me.”
“Why would I trust a disreputable woman like you, swearing around pliable young girls like Leah?”
Leah cracked a smile and even Venus couldn’t help snickering at that.
Leah patted us both on our opposite shoulders. “Easy there, you two. Lunch first, then we call in those other heroes.”
Dun dun duuuuuuun 2: Electric Boogaloo.