It’s been a few long, long days. I’ve had days like this before.
I haven’t been abandoned, but I have been isolated. Not usually a problem. See, Max stuck around with Sam and Holly, who were staying armed. By now, it should be obvious that wouldn’t do too much to deter me, but I gave them space and stayed out of my armor for that. Holly’s little peashooter would have been hard pressed to win a shootout with a pigeon, but Sam’s new gun looked like something Max threw together using a hose sprayer. Whether it emitted liquids or gasses, there was a whole range of unfortunate probable effects they could have caused me.
Hopefully I wouldn’t let two macho men get between myself and the women again. With Operation: Anal Assault successful, it was only a matter of time before Hephaestus realized it was the water making them sick. By my reckoning, the worst thing they could do to frustrate me would probably be to pack up the whole operation and leave. They had the money and the experience hushing up.
That was why I was rushing through my preparations as much as I could. There’s a limit to the amount of hurrying you can do when handling explosives, after all. I needed to restock my chickens and throwing knives. I did so after secluding myself in the main bed area, which limited my space even more. Making matters worse, but informative, were the others. Max had Sam put on Outlaw X.
Music is fine and all, but the vast majority of it has always been crap. Then, people pick the diamonds from the dung heaps to cherish as time goes on. They just haven’t separated the good stuff, or even the annoying stuff that’s still fun, from the current crap. Music is the sound of emotion, people, and I do so love people’s emotional noises. Because some men aren’t looking for money. Some men just want to watch the world burp.
Anyway, the horrible pop and rap requested wasn’t quite so bad. I especially disliked them butchering rock with some particularly idiotic recent selections. But enough filler about songs so generic I can’t even remember their names or lyrics. Outlaw X had a little news segment where they mentioned me, and not in a good way like I’d just blown up a skyscraper or decapitated the Statue of Liberty.
The hunt was still on, though nothing was big enough that it involved locking down entire towns. I wasn’t so worried about that. Deception has been my bread and butter for a long time. If the bread was a person’s body and the butter was gasoline, that is. You know what they say: you can’t make toast without cracking a few legs.
No, what I considered a threat was the part where the radio said “And it seems Hephaestus has brought more help onboard to end the threat of Gecko definitively. For the last time, Rhinomancer, they’re picking people, not taking applications! Now it appears Rumble is joining up with the team. That brings them up to six at last count. It might stay at six. That’s a recurring team size for supervillains. Getting back to the music, Gastrolord in Newark has requested ‘Demons’ while he cruises around in his suped-up Super Snail. Good luck, Gastrolord.”
I should have been keeping a better ear out. I have villains coming after me. I must have earned a lot of schadenfreude from people.
Ignoring texts coming in from Generation Flex, I slid out of the little bed with my cocks in my hand. I found them out there munching on cereal. I saw Sam’s hand go to the spray gun.
“Alright, now y’all were right to remind me to keep my eye on the prize. That can be tough for me. If y’all are still with me on this, I ain’t gonna stall too much longer. Let’s get armed and dangerous, then we go in there and catch them with their pants down, which should be easier with all the laxative I gave them. This isn’t a time to try and make friends with some bunch of heroes. They can go blow it out their ass. It’s time to make enemas.”
“Enemies,” Holly corrected.
“Isn’t that what I said?”
They wanted to smile. I could see it. I think.
So over the next few days, we gathered what we needed. That didn’t mean much for Sam and Holly. Max put together something he said would cover our escape and keep the police off our tail. It was a thin brown substance, but it glowed purple, so I didn’t press him for details. Meanwhile, I put together a few more explosive throwing knives, readied some nanite syringes, prepped a couple doses of blood agents, coated a net with thermite, and assembled more chickens. You can’t count your chicken grenades before the plot is hatched, you see, and they’re very flexible in terms of material and uses. The timed explosive throwing knives have never been as useful, but I suck at throwing and they account for that. As for the net and the arsene, I just had a couple of wicked thoughts.
When we hit that shit, we hit it hard and at night. No, really. I hit that guard station so hard, it thought it owed me child support, back rent, and overtime. We barreled through in my dear Black Sunshine, crashing through their ridiculous stick thing that goes up and down, then speeding past. The guard poked his head out, probably thinking he got away without any trouble. Too bad we’d launched a missile as we hit it. It pulled a loop and came the warhead activated, causing a hand on the end to open just one finger. The cloud that rose from the explosion bore a striking resemblance to that particular warhead as well.
There wasn’t a way to get the car in, unfortunately. The door was too tight a squeeze and the loading dock was off the ground a few feet for easier loading. I spun the car to a stop, accompanied by the sound of women’s screams and heavy metal. Actually, women’s and men’s screams. Max started before Sam and Holly, and I joined in because I was having fun. The bullets bouncing off the windshield and hood really added to the effect.
I popped open the door and threw a pair of explosive knives. It was hard to keep track of them as I landed and rolled, but I scattered assembled exterior guards who were dressed in regular rent-a-cop uniforms. One of them put a couple good shots into my back up from the loading dock. A syringe hit him in the neck and doubled over, puking. Max slid onto my trunk and hopped up next to him. “It’s alright. Let it all out.”
I turned back to the car, where I saw Sam getting in on the driver’s side and Holly ready to ride shotgun with an actual shotgun, which is where the term comes from anyway. “Would you kindly hand me my net?” I asked Sam. She tossed it on my head. I turned back to Max, who had pinned down three guards behind the other end of the loading dock. After one lucky shot, only two were firing back.
I pulled a chicken and turned to smack a bitch upside the head who was trying to sneak up on me with a knife. I grabbed him by the neck, slapped him across the face with the rubber chicken a few more times, then tore the head off the chicken and shoved it into the front of his pants. I spun him around and took careful aim past the car to the end of the dock where two of the guards were puking. I kicked him right in the gut, the extra strength from my muscle enhancers sending him into the air and toward the other guards. My aim was a little off, though. He exploded a little high off the ground. Still, nobody was shooting at Max from that direction anymore, so I considered it a win.
The ladies gunned the car and got it away from us and our pesky explosions, spears stabbing out of the tires as Sam experimented with buttons to help keep the other armed guards at bay.
I dusted my hands off and turned to Max. “So I made them crap themselves, and now you’re making them barf?”
“I thought I would kick them while they’re down. Good to see your head is back where it needs to be.” He moved toward the door right near us as I climbed the steps to it.
“Good for you maybe.” I pulled the net off of myself and readied to throw it with my left hand while opening the door with my right.
One, two, three!…It didn’t open at first.
“Must be a magnetic lock. I should have something to eat through it around here…” Max said as he rifled through his pockets. I tried the wall next to it. Concrete, and thick.
I was just about to pile up some knives and chickens when I heard Holly shout “Look out!”
I saw in my side view that the car was facing us, something bright flashing as it fired. I grabbed Max and jumped. It was shallow, but far, and I turned so I was beneath him to keep him safe. I was repaid with a lot of skidding as the rocket Sam fired hit the door, this time leaving behind a cloud shaped like the aloha hand sign before it dissipated.
Max helped me up and we headed back for the door. Once the smoke cleared, someone inside fired on the car, which prompted Holly to stick her head back inside it. I rushed for it and untangled the net from around my arm. I jumped out into the doorway, tossing the net…and watched it land on the floor.
I slumped my shoulders. “That was disappointing. Good thing I didn’t pull the fuse early.”
Max patted me on the back. “Better luck next time.”
We were in an entry hall that opened right into the warehouse. Ahead and to our left, there was a door. Past that at the corner, a guard poked his head out, then slid out on his knee to fire on us. Max hid behind me, at least until I ran forward, grabbed the net, pulled a shiny strip off one corner, and threw it at the guard before he got back behind cover. Starting from the corner the fuse was pulled from, the net burst into flames. The flaming net landed on the guard, who stumbled and fell. The thermite burned quickly, but hot. It can cut through steel in higher quantities. By the time it was done with our stalwart friend over there, he looked like char siu pork. It’s a type of Chinese food.
I turned and gave Max a thumbs-up. “Nothin’ but net.”
As Max and I entered the main warehouse room, we were surprised to find there were surprisingly few guards around. In fact, that idiot back near the door seemed to be the only one inside. That didn’t make a whole lot of sense. It just seemed to be one, big quiet room full of shelves stretching up into the air, all lit by pervasive fluorescent lighting that hung from exposed rafters.
“Hey, Gecko, I’m going to check that door back in the hall. I’ll call you if I need you to crack the computer, but I can do better with my gun in closed spaces.” It was backward to send him for the computer, I couldn’t fault him for caring about his own safety. The resistance to us had vanished utterly. I didn’t begrudge him a chance to miss out on whatever sniper crossfire they were setting up to catch us in a room full of long rows of shelves with limited ability to dodge.
“Yeah, fine. I’ll see whose fire I can draw in here. Just keep an eye out for any surprise parties waiting for us.”
Max nodded and turned to head back thataway.
I hit my little splitter hologram, appearing to break apart into three of myself as I walked into the warehouse proper, being rather noisy as I did so. “Hello? I’m here to scout for the show Storage Whores! We understand you’ve got a bunch of useless junk around here. I can help you get it off your hands! We’re looking for knick-knacks, doohickeys, gizmos, gadgets, whatchamacallits, thingamajigs, thingamabobbers, thingamajiggerbobbers, and any spare humans you got laying around.”
Everything within sight got really bright, then completely dark, along with a sort of burning, exploding feeling. If you or a loved one feel chronic explosions around your body, seek medical help immediately. I didn’t mainly because I was dazed. Seriously, I was out of it. After a moment, my eyes rebooted and I realized I was on my back with pieces of my armor missing. The explosives were all gone too. I stared up as some man in a green and white costume descended, spinning furiously in the middle of a cyclone. I sat up and looked around. My holograms were gone and near where I had been standing was a nasty black mark in the concrete floor. Looking up again, I could see this airhead had electricity flashing across his body as he rotated.
I checked my suit’s holographics system. It was toast. Too many of the cameras and projectors had been destroyed or damaged. I rolled to the side a bit far. I needed to be able to close with that asshole and I’d gotten all discombobulated. I could see a smirk on his spinning face as he landed. A vortex surrounded him still, but not nearly as strong. “Easy money,” he said as more electricity gathered along his arms. I took a step, tripped, rolled, and jumped. I was messed up and not thinking all that clearly, but trying to recover. You try to think clearly when part of your brain got hurt by an EMP.
I never reached him, as something tackled me and big ass teeth chomped down on me. The armor protected me where it could. Where it was missing, I got nommed on by shark teeth. It lifted me up in the air and shook me from side to side, but it was then I was able to recognize my assailant. It was a stout shark man. Terrorjaw. I was on the menu. I hated being on the menu. I couldn’t tell him to eat me.
“This…fucking…bites.” I said, waved from side to side.
I think he laughed a little. It was hard to tell. I know I saw one of his eyes, though. Rolled back. It’s how some sharks protect their eyes when biting.
“Aye…aye…aye…aye…eye!” I said and jammed my fist in there. That caused him to growl, something I didn’t think half-man, half-sharks could do.
“Ahh, fucking hell! Like a fucking burnt tattoo needle in my dickhole!” Terrorjaw yelled, grabbing at his eye.
“Move over, Chinese takeout. I’m finishing him off.”
I reached around for my nanites, but then I realized ones would have already been in my system. Then, still a little off, I realized none of them would work. Lightning strike. EMP. Fuck.
Something flew against the spinning storm guy’s vortex and bounced off to stick into Terrorjaw’s skin. Terrorjaw puked all over me. A Louisiana state license plate, number 007-981, landed on my chest. Lovely. Glass broke near me and purple smoke filled the area. I took my chance to crawl toward the general vicinity of the door, dragging the license plate along with me for some reason.
I would like it emphasized once more, I was a little out of it. After a moment, I felt something tug on my arm. Then I saw a familiar smile on a pale face.
“About time I rescued you, hmm?”
He grabbed me by my arm and helped me back up. We set off for the exit.
“Where’d they go?”
“They backed away once the smoke went up, but I think that tornado man is getting rid of the smoke.”
“Would it have killed him to stay in it?”
“No, but he didn’t know that.”
“What did it do? What’s going to happen to me?”
“Nothing, as long as I get you back to the trailer.”
“Lead the way.”
We got out of there, Max dropping another thing of smoke behind us. Lightning crackled against the top of the door just after we passed through it.
Outside, Sam and Holly had just gone airborne off a wrecked humvee, the car’s flamethrower firing into the air just before it landed on top of a large man in tactical gear holding a bazooka. At least someone was having fun. As I saw it happen, I had this odd urge to install a horn that played the notes to the old song “Dixie”.
The car skidded to a stop near me and Max tossed me in the backseat. I think someone sat on my head as they hauled ass out of there, but I wasn’t complaining too much.
That was fucked up. Just all of it. I’m a little clearer of mind now, though, despite having to recover from my wounds and the growth of some odd flesh-colored tentacles that sprouted from the exposed sections of my skin. Max had the antidote for that, and I had the nanites to cover the rest. Sam even pulled a pair of Terrorjaw’s teeth out of me. Holly made herself a necklace out of them.
Yeah, I should have been paying attention to any sort of news about me. I might have seen this coming ahead of time. Put it together quicker, you know what I mean?
It’s not over yet, though. If Hephaestus thought a squad of supervillains capable of counteracting all my usual tactics would be enough to put me down, they had better think again. It takes more than sharks, lightning, and tornadoes to keep me under the weather.