The mission is slowly getting accomplished. Surveillance is all set up, for one thing. On the villain side of things, Holly and I headed out to drop off the cameras. We drove a little scooter she had gotten, which reminded me to check on the Minstrel Cycle. Turns out my little tricked-out pink scooter had been stolen by Hephaestus as well. They really scattered my stuff all over the place.
At least I rebuilt my laser potato peeler. It was originally conceived as an elegant weapon for a more refined age. Why? Because in the land of the invading potato aliens, the man with the laser peeler is king. Remember that, readers. That’s sound advice.
Anyway, Holly waited by the scooter just up the road from the turnoff to get to the Hephaestus Distribution Site. I left her there and carried the camera to set it up in the perfect position to catch anyone driving in or out. Along with the others planted on buildings nearby, we had a good overall view to watch guards and keep track of major happenings. This one was in the perfect spot to nab us license plate numbers to anonymously drop to any law enforcement agencies that we wished to use for the tools they are. I also had a concentrated batch of a nice little chemical. Hey, I figured I could still pull that off. Maybe. Unlikely. For all I knew, it had already delivered. Still, I figured that even if I was disappointed, I could still find something to do with a bottle of strong laxative.
When I got back to her, Holly idled on the scooter next to the road.
That’s when I got lucky with her. Not that sort of lucky, no. Geez. I’m not that sort of person. No, I saw a water truck coming, grabbed her by the arm, said “I’ve got to borrow you for a moment,” then pushed her out just into the road. Hey, I pulled her back, but only after a part of her thumped against it. So it hit her, she screamed, and the whole mess spooked the driver. The truck braked hard and pulled over to allow an older gentleman with a back support on to hop out of it.
“I’m sorry. Is everyone okay? What happened? I didn’t see you there,” he said, rapid-fire.
Holly pushed away from me and cradled her broken arm with her unbroken one. She backed away from me with gritted teeth, pained screams strangled and warped in her throat to sound off with a hateful growl.
“Hey, are you alright? Let me help,” said the driver, oblivious to me at the moment. That part disappointed me. I was going to throw his head into the side of the truck a couple times and knock him out. That wasn’t necessary and would only make things more difficult, but I wanted to do it anyway. Instead, I had to remain content with altering his deliveries in the truck.
Like I said, he was too concerned with Holly who was more upset than people usually are when you push them into the road so they get hit by a truck. Why couldn’t she just drive over it, er, I mean get over it?
So while she provided a distraction, I grabbed the backpack I made Holly carry on this trip and brought it with me into the truck. I proceeded to puncture the caps of the cooler bottles with my peeler, then took a small chug straight from the bottle, and finally poured a little something in from the gallon. It went in clear. That was good. If it had been within a certain range of pH, it would have turned fuchsia. I made sure to empty all of the jug into them and covered it up by closing off the plastic caps with the aid of the potato peeler’s laser.
Simple. Clean. Elegant. Hephaestus was going to miss those adjectives once they got a swallow of that stuff. So would anyone else those bottles were intended for, but sometimes there are civilian casualties in love and war. Civilian casualties and torture. And unknown bodily fluids flung every which way. But mostly in love and war, what you get is a bunch of shit.
I caught a little of my own in payback for what I had done. After I snuck out of the truck, I noticed Holly taking off on her scooter and leaving a confused and worried driver behind. When he looked around, perhaps to confirm that there had been another person there at some point, he didn’t find me. I was invisible and bounding through the air in the direction of the Skid Mark.
When I got there I dropped the stealth in favor of a hologram of my current civilian self. Holly’s scooter was already there, but she wasn’t in sight. Neither was Sam. Instead, I was approached by a scowl-wearing Mix N’Max. I wasn’t sure that I had ever seen him do anything but smile before.
He threw a punch at me and knocked my head to the side. “Why did you do that to Holly? She’s one of us. She’s your friend.” He took a moment to shake off the pain in his fist and punched me again heedless of the helmet he now knew I was wearing.
“I’ve had a lot of time to think about people who want to kick me when I’m down, like Venus and Forcelight. When it comes to how Holly acts, what’s the difference between her and everyone else who wants to treat me like shit? How often has she hoped I was really dead so she could win a little money from Sam?”
He grabbed me by my head. “She helps you, that’s what! And I care about her. She’s my friend. I won’t let you hurt either of them. I vouch for you to them and for them to you. It took a lot to convince them you wouldn’t hurt them. This kind of shit is exactly what you don’t do to your friends.”
“She’s your henchwoman. Not my friend. Considering how things have been lately, I’m quite ready to take advantage of everyone deciding I’m a joke.”
He pointed his finger at me and stuck it right in my face. “Never hurt Holly or Sam again.”
I rolled my eyes under the armor, then wrapped my pinky around his finger. “Alright, pinky swear.”
“I mean it. You always hated people who were assholes just to be assholes.”
“Why did you do throw her into traffic?”
“I gently pushed her out into traffic, then reeled her back in. It’s just a broken arm.”
“A broken shoulder and sprained ankle. I fixed her up, but that’s not the point.”
“I had a perfectly good reason. I may have managed to give everyone of them at Hephaestus some diarrhea.”
“That’s a good reason to hurt a lot of people, but not Holly and Sam. They’re not just henchwomen. I respect them.”
It went on and on and and on and oooooon. I felt like I was sitting at a desk as boss after boss came up to remind me to use the right cover letter on my reports, each constantly asking if I had gotten the memo.
I just tried to ignore him as I switched costumes. I could have kept the same armor and employed a hologram, but I suppose it’s better for me to not spend all my time in the armor. Reduces the funk I have on me at any given time. Too much funk and I might end up in a leisure suit with an afro, a porn stache riding elegantly just over my upper lip. That level of funk could cause a man to attract boogeymen. Also, I can’t fly in my normal armor.
Let’s skip ahead. Later that night, about eight o’clock, I rode in the backseat of a pickup truck. It was big. It was red. It had a set of those chrome lights on top that also featured a pair of buff chrome arms flexing.
Inside rode myself, Max Muscles, and Bulletproof Brian, singing. “…Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me, for me, for meeeeeeeeee!”
It was that sort of night. I’d told them I had a tipoff on a place and we were driving over there, singing horribly all the while.
When we finished up, Max Muscles got curious. “Sweet Brohemian Rhapsody, dudes. Hey, Missile, what kind of a place is this we’re checking out?”
“Hephaestus. Dudes that steal inventions and junk to give people superpowers. They’ve been in the news lately, but I knew about them long before that.”
Brian turned around to look at me. “So what kind of a place is it? We’re kind of new to this. Is it a full-on secret lair, or what?”
“Storage and distribution, I heard. We should get in there and own their asses. Like, if they’re too much for you guys, I think we can probably find the records room or their computer, some shit like that, and we’ll be home free.”
“Whoa, you put a lot of thought into this,” said Max. We pulled up at a T-shaped intersection behind the compound.
“That’s it, but aren’t we a little close? Someone could look in and see us in costume, bros,” I warned, ducking.
“Yo dawg, check this out. The windows are tinted. I got the hook up with this friend of mine from Pittsburgh and made it where we can see out but they can’t see in,” Max explained confidently. That was a redundant adverb. They were confident about almost everything, at least that I noticed. Easy way to bite off more than they could chew.
“Hella tight, right?” Brian asked, sticking his tongue out for no apparent reason as he looked all around.
I gave Max a thumbs-up. “Cool story, bro.”
“This place is big,” he said as we drove around. “I wonder how many guards there are?”
“Oh, I don’t know…” I checked the cameras placed around it and did a quick headcount. “…maybe only twenty outside. I doubt that’d be too much for you, eh?”
“Might be if they got some sorta super guns. I’m super strong, but not invincible. Brian’s invincible, but not any stronger. What do you got?”
“I’m super smart. I got these cool rockets so I can fly in and be all like ‘Rocket Punch, Bitch!’ KA POW! Also, the suit’s bulletproof and I’m a good fighter.”
“So you don’t have any superpowers?”
“Not unless you count my Piledriving Super Penetrator. That normally puts someone out for the night.”
This time, Brian “What’s that, like a punch or a ki attack?”
“That’s how I have sex, bro.”
After a round of “Ooooohing” with their hands over their mouths, I looked out and noticed several of the guards rushing towards the building. The guy in the lead was dripping something. One of them didn’t make it and fell over, some sort of fluid soaking and spraying out of his pants.
Shit was going down. The others saw it as well. The timing was perfect. Max turned the truck down a side road away from the site.
“Hey, why are we leaving?”
“I don’t know about you, broseph-“
“Actually, it’s Jacob.”
“Cool, man, but we don’t know what’s happening in there. It could be bad. It could be something got loose.”
“Yeah, but isn’t this a good time to run in, guns blazing? I know heroes that love to intrude like that.” I neglected to mention I fought heroes who loved to pull that kind of thing.
“Yo, Brian, man, tell him why we don’t run in blind.”
“We can’t just run up in that crib and wreck their shit like this. There’s probably sweet high tech equipment in there, brah. Like, we could hit something that creates gravity singularity that would fuck this shit up. So tonight, we’re going to look for crime, go party, have a few drinks, and get wild up in there. Then, tomorrow, we start the stakeout.”
See, New Jersey? This is why nobody likes you. This right here.
“Bro, wait up a minute bro, wait up. I got a better idea. We call that hot chick from Kingscrow and see if they want to help us.”
“Awww, yeah, that’s what I’m talking about, bro. She’s fine, too.”
It was up to me to be the voice of reason, so of course we were fucked. “Why would you want to do that? We got this, guys. We got this shit. They probably don’t want you calling them over every little thing.”
Brian cranked up the radio and started dancing in his seat. “Naw, it’s okay. I heard they were mixed up with Hephaestus and that lizard man up in EC. You think they’d believe us if we lied and said the lizard dude was sneaking around?”
“Sounds far fetched to me,” I said.
“Time for Generation Flex to do our nightly club raid! Let’s go get our drink on so we can go meet some hot super bitches!”
I disappeared during the night, thoroughly disappointed. It was a crappy night for Hephaestus and me both. Worse, I wasn’t sure if this whole mess was caused by Generation Flex being too stupid or too smart.
Fucking New Jersey, man.