Well, now that everyone’s got off their asses, looks like we actually got some stuff down around here.
Let’s start at the beginning. Not my preferred way, but past experience shows that it just confuses all of y’all if I talk about stuff out of order. Shit like that made me not want to be a prophet. Don’t believe me that I could have been a prophet? That just shows my natural prophecy talent. I predict that now, some of you are going to go, “Ha! I believe you are a prophet, therefore you’re not really one!”
Yeah? Well, I just made that prediction that you’d say that. Time to go pay a neurophysicist prostitute, because your minds have been blown.
But enough joking around.
So there I was dressed up in a tiny monkey costume on the sidewalk Thursday afternoon, dancing around while Leah stood behind me holding a hat out for some change. We didn’t need the money, but I just felt like dancing while we waited outside the police station for Venus to get done talking with Forcelight and Troubleshooter. Dancing seemed a good idea, mainly because Leah had this look in her eye like she wanted to cuddle the little psychotic monkey man.
I’m beginning to suspect she likes me as more than just the serial killer who took her in and trained her in the art of punching people in the right spot. Every time I thought about dissuading her of any of those sorts of feelings, it kept coming back to chasing after her with a meat cleaver, or her chasing me. I didn’t want either outcome to occur, at least not now. Maybe if I need to lose weight someday.
While I danced, I quizzed Leah on the subject of really, really, ridiculously powerful superbeings.
“Villains first. Name five of the big ones, guys nobody messes with. Individual villains, I mean.”
“The Claw, Polydeus, Spinetingler, the Oligarch, and Cercopagis Lysis. I know the Claw can change size and has super strength. Polydeus is immortal, along with unknown other powers. Spinetingler can shapeshift and knows people’s fears. Oligarch is a super genius with high tech weaponry. Cercopagis is some sort of alien conqueror who keeps threatening the planet every few years.”
“Pretty good, but the Claw is also immune to conventional weaponry and he he runs his own nation in the Pacific. That might as well count as a power. Oligarch seems to have some serious cash and that pretty much counts as a superpower as well. How about heroes?”
“Captain Lightning: Super strength, flying, lightning powers. He can do magic. Eschaton: flight, fire powers, energy manipulation. The Mobian: a regenerating genius with a ship that travels through other dimensions and time. Warman, the Man of War, who is a super strong soldier who can use any weapon ever created. For my last answer, I’ll go with Forcelight. Flight, light manipulation, and super strength.”
“Appropriate,” I said, finishing up doing the Worm.
“What kind of name is Forcelight anyway? Sounds like someone chose random nouns.”
It was a good question.
“Mommy, look at that fuzzy caterpillar!” said a boy in the single digits of age who walked by, pointing.
I stood up and chased after him, “No, I have now transformed from caterpillar to Killthra! Rawr!”
Leah held me back. A voice behind us said, “Easy now, you walking Napoleon complex. Go pick on something your size instead, like a rat.”
Leah and I both turned to find Forcelight holding Venus in the palm of her hand, with Troubleshooter standing behind her.
“You don’t have anything that works?” Leah asked.
Troubleshooter shook her head, her goggles drooping at an angle. One of the waldos attached to her omnipresent backpack/mobile lab reached forward and straightened it up. Then it sprayed them with some foam that was wiped off by another waldo. ”I needed to scan her for information, but I don’t have the materials here to build what I think will do the trick. If he promises to be good, I can scan Psycho Gecko.”
Troubleshooter leaned forward, one waldo raising a magnifying glass so she could see me better. “More points of data would allow me to work on something with more confidence of a positive result. I could make you big again too.”
“Uh uh. Not giving y’all a look inside my chassis.”
“It would help Venus,” Forcelight spoke up. Venus glowered at that. Trouble between ex-teammates?
“I think not. Would you let me do a full body scan on you to let me uncover all your physiological secrets?”
Forcelight looked like she just ate some shit. It’s a distinctive facial expression. I’ve gotten used to seeing it. “No way in hell, but there’s a big difference between us and you. We’re the good guys.”
“Yes, yes. I distinctly remember the good guys having an argument over whether or not to kill me. Or maybe it was all a dream? I know you were there, and you were there, and you were there…” I pointed to the three heroines in turn. All three had that eat-shit expression on then. That’s how I’ve gotten used to seeing the expression.
So, after Troubleshooter and Forcelight left, it was time to get down to some serious business. But first, sleep. Zzzzzzzzz…go away…come back tomorrow…fine, ok, the next day we got down to some serious business. I had some things to take care of before said serious business could commence. Some calls to make, some people to pay off, that sort of thing. Then we made our move looking for the latest possible informants.
F-Uhaul. When Screwhaul got on my bad side and became a bunch of corpses, it was F-Uhaul who moved in to take over their business: supervillain movers. Hephaestus probably used them; if not, then F-Uhaul probably kept an eye out for where they set up out of spite and the possibility such information could make them look like a better service.
Only, when I called them up, a voice hastily answered, “Busy here. Try again later,” before hanging up on me.
I was tired of dead ends and I was running out of patience for people not giving me any damn help, so I back and made sure to trace the connection.
“We’re busy getting shot at right now. If you would like us to see to your moving needs, please call back at a better time, like when our asses aren’t on fire. Now get off the line.”
I didn’t even get a word in. I should have left them to their fate, but something needed to go my way for once in all this. If I had to drag them out of the fire just to hold them over it myself, I would do so.
The F-Uhaul workers were on the move. As soon as Leah, Venus, and I got our asses planted in the car, we were too. I uploaded our moving goal to the GPS in the car. A GPS is a perfectly legitimate tool when no one knew it was my car but that will have to change. Leah was too cautious a driver, though. “Lift me up so I can see!” I yelled, frustrated, as she stopped at a light.
I’ve been frustrated a lot lately. Everything’s been kicking my ass. If I don’t kill something soon, I might start to go nuts. Yeah. Just imagine what I would be like if I was mentally ill.
Leah picked me up…and then tied my little monkey suit’s tail to the rear view mirror to hold me up. I crossed my arms and glared at her smiling face while Venus guffawed from the passenger seat.
“Ha. Ha. Get your laughs out of the way, but there are people out there dying just because they handle deadly chemicals and torture equipment without a license or any knowledge about what they’re doing. And an America where a man can be killed for that is an America I don’t want to live in.” I flicked an imaginary tear away from my cheek.
“The light’s red and there’s a car in front of me. What do you expect me to do?”
“Ok, down below the radio is a series of buttons and toggles. I want you to push the one with some tiny writing above it that says ‘Traffic Jam’.”
“Leah, that might be a weapon,” said Venus from under the seat belt.
“Is it?” Leah looked to me as she asked the question.
“Nah. It’s not lethal at all. I promise.” I held a hand up like that “scout’s honor” salute, which is not a salute to trust from me.
Leah pushed the button. The front of the hood opened up and a nozzle with a clear hose attached to the end rose up out of the car. It gave a quick squirt of a thick purple fluid that dented the rear of the car ahead of us and sent it into traffic.
“Fuck! You said that wasn’t lethal! What was that?” Leah said with wild gesticulations of her hand.
“Traffic jam, exactly what it says it is. It’s a good, thick fluid people can use to push cars out of the way when fired at high pressure. It is nonlethal, and it’s made from one hundred percent pulped traffic, which means recycled, which means eco-friendly. If anybody was killed here, it was from the reckless driving of these other assholes. By the way, everyone’s stopped due to the accident, so do you mind going?”
Still cursing to herself, Leah drove on through the accident scene. She did her best to avoid stopping the rest of the way. Wanted to avoid more traffic jams, I guess. I could feel Venus’s glare on my ass the whole rest of the way. I gave it a little wiggle just for her. Almost made me wish I was in a baboon costume.
When we caught up to the F-Uhaul van after a tense nineteen minutes, they were being chased by an old, dusty muscle car. It had metal sawblades attached to the side, with a gnashing metal bear trap mouth in front that had a bumper stuck in one tooth. The van smoked and a softball-sized hole was blown out of the passenger door.
“Are those them?” Leah asked. One of the passengers of that muscle car pulled himself out of the window and worked his way onto the roof despite a sharp turn. He was a big man in a shredded leather jacket with a green Mohawk. His left sleeve was completely gone, and his arm on that side replaced with a rusty metal prosthetic. Once he got situated up there, he reached down by the window where one of the other passengers passed him a double barrel shotgun that had not one, but two ammo cylinders jury-rigged to feed it shells.
“Something tells me that might just be them, Leah.”
“Do you know those guys?”
“No. The minor leagues can be a real freakshow. It’s great.”
“Metal Heads,” I heard from higher up on the passenger side. I glanced underneath me and saw Venus had climbed up the seat belt so she could get a better view of things. “But what could movers have done to get on their bad side?”
“My guess, they dropped these guys’ favorite Michael Bolton album,” I suggested.
The big Mohawk guy fired at the van, knocking chunks out of it. He even attempted a shot at the back tires, but a direct hit didn’t deflate them.
Leah divided her time between the road and the panel of buttons and toggles. “Uh, what do I do? Do I ram them? What about the traffic jam?”
“You want to knock their car into the van? Not a good way to save them.”
Without asking what she should use, she tried a few switches. I swung around like the world’s worst air freshener, taking note of what she was doing. “That was the wheel spears. Looks like you tagged the minivan behind us with the license plate minigun. Poetic. Good thing you missed with the grappling hook or we’d have driven right into that playground. Don’t worry about that snap, that’s just the giant flyswatter on the roof of the car. Oh, and I just had to remote override the ejection seats, so you think you’re ready to listen to me yet?”
Leah looked like she was about ready to hyperventilate. After all she’d done, these punks that Venus called “Metal heads” had taken notice of us dogging them. The big guy had yelled something to the guys in the car. One of them, a skinnier man with screws piercing his eyebrows and shaved head, pulled out a bottle with a rag in it and light the thing. He threw it against the car. Leah jumped as it broke open and covered the windshield with flames. I compensated by switching to digital view and having the system filter out the flames.
With the road looking clear, I cleared my throat.
“Gecko, what do I push?”
“Leah…” Venus said, wanting to warn her off.
“I have to do something or they’ll kill them eventually.”
“Exactly, Leah, good choice. Now, toggle the thing that says ‘missile’.”
“Sometimes it’s kill or be killed.”
Leah gulped and did something very stupid under the circumstances. She closed her eyes as she pushed the toggle. A crosshair came up in the digital view that I had locked on to the muscle car.
“Leah, cancel it,” said Venus.
She reached out, but the car shuddered from missile launch before she could do so.
“Oh no, oh no, I killed someone…” Leah said, tears streaming down her face.
“You didn’t kill anything yet. Damn thing went up for some reason instead of straight forward. Oh, wait, is there a letter next to the word ‘missile’ down there?”
“Yeah,” Leah said with a nod, “There’s a ‘D’.”
“Ah, that explains it.” I folded my arms just in time to watch the missile that looked like a crash test mannequin streak out of the sky and bounce off the street and embed itself in the front windshield of the car. Reacting to its sudden stop, Leah swerved around, a hopeful smile playing at her lips.
“They didn’t blow up!”
“Yeah, turns out you fired a dummy missile. I was hoping for an incendiary one myself, but you seem happy with the result.”
Everybody went home happy that day. And alive. F-Uhaul thanked us profusely and gave us the location of a local Hephaestus office: the sort of place where they do paperwork and take calls. Venus and Leah were happy that they got to save the day without anyone dying. I was happy something finally went my way. And the Metal Heads were happy I paid them so much to flush F-Uhaul out of hiding so we’d look good in their eyes and get what we were there for.
Much like when a man gets to enjoy a donkey show in the company of a stripper and a sexy circus clown, that’s what we call a win-win-win-win-win.