So…one last look at New Jersey. There I was, standing on an office building, cape blowing in the wind, listening to The Megas. Do they have them on that side of the universal divide? Over here, they’re this band of people who played a videogame about fighting robots a lot and decided to make music out of the various level songs. Good stuff. For some reason, songs from the point of view of robots built to enslave or destroy humanity just really mesh well with me. They also made a good point for why I needed disappearing blocks over open pits in my next lair.
Oh, you may have noticed I mentioned a cape up there. Your eyes did not deceive you! That’s my job. I was up there in my hero costume, so I was present as the Missile Patriot. I also had a nice little cooler with me because, hey, waiting is thirsty business. I may have been a hero, but I was also unaware of any laws about drinking and rocketing. It’s not like drinking ever made the situation around me even more dangerous. Not if I was drinking anyway. I heard it loosens people up and helps them survive. If my general way of operating has indicated anything to y’all, it’s that being really loose might help someone survive me.
But enough about innuendo intended for females. This time, I had men on my mind. Macho men. Men who liked to party hard. Generation Flex. Bulletproof Brian got there first, soaring upward past the roof at a steep angle that brought him down hard on a vent near me.
I clapped for him as he stood up and brushed himself off. “Smooth landing. You ever thought of trying out for the Olympics? You would do well in the shot put, at least as the shot.”
“Max is super strong and I can’t be hurt. It works out.”
I reached down, popped open the cooler, and tossed him a beer. It bounced off his head and fell through his hands as he tried to catch it. It didn’t shatter, though. You’d be surprised how hard it is to break a beer bottle. Don’t believe me? Take a beer bottle and start beating your own head with it until it breaks. See? That’ll teach you to question what I tell you.
“You did that on purpose, didn’t you?” he asked. He wasn’t mad, though.
“Hitting me in the head.”
“Don’t be ridiculous.” I picked up another beer and threw it at him. It hit him in the forehead. This time when he went to catch it, he knocked it over to the side, where it busted open.
Brian put his hands on his hips. “Really?” He walked over to get a beer himself, but I had try for one last attempt. I let it slip at too high an angle, but he caught it on its way up. “Gotcha!”
“You know how the beer is, man. The condensation makes the bottle all slippery and who knows where it goes? After all, look how good a job you did catching it.”
The truth is, I was aiming for his head.
It didn’t take long before I heard a grunt from the side of the building. A hand reached up and over the edge. Then another. Max Muscles, the man those hands belonged to, pulled himself up to the top of the roof. He laid there, breathing hard.
I looked down at him, beer in hand, and just asked, “Bro, do you even lift?”
“Shut…up!” he said between sucking down oxygen.
Brian had a shit eating grin on his face. “Dude, leave him alone. He doesn’t care about endurance is all. At least, that’s what I heard from Jennifer.”
“Kick me…while I’m down…why don’t you?” he asked. Then he sat up. “Low blow, brah. Bringing up Jennifer.”
I reached down into the cooler and pulled out another couple of things. “Well, I brought these in case y’all were partying tonight, but it looks like you might need some help with your energy level there.” I had a Red Bull and a 5 Hour Energy. I proceeded to open both and pour the 5 Hour Energy into the Red Bull. I’ve seen it served at a few villain bars when someone was going into a big job or a big fight.
“I guess that’ll work, but you couldn’t make it a double?” Max asked as he held out his hand for it. I was tempted to throw it at his head, but no. After I handed it to him, I sipped my own nasty beer again. Shitty stuff. I’ve found that beer tastes worse every time I take a sip. That’s why most of the time I just chug it down if I have to drink it. But, hey, I was being nice.
I started what I really came to do. “You’re probably wondering why I called you both up here today.”
“Not really, you’re leaving, aren’t you, bromeister?” Max asked, having chugged half the horrible energy concoction. I guess I shouldn’t judge, having a dangerously powerful power core in my own chest, but at least I can manage to sleep at night knowing that I could still possibly start an explosion. Two if you count what’s in my pants.
It’s ok. No one ever counts what’s in my pants.
“Yep. I have accomplished what I set out to do in your state. Hephaestus has been vanquished here. We failed to put a stop to your Gastrolord friend, but I’m sure there’s very little he can do with a bunch of random stolen super weapons.”
“That sounds bad,” Brian said.
“I’m sure it’ll all work itself out,” I said with a wave of my hand.
“I’m kind of worried about it,” Max said.
“Don’t be ridiculous, citizen. Everyone knows that inverse gravity bombs and dubstep launchers don’t kill people. They just cause them to not be alive anymore. Besides, isn’t horrible death at the hands of a madman who can attack at any random moment a small price to pay for the freedom to live in a country where a madman can attack at any moment?”
“Isn’t that…bad?” Brian asked.
“Not if you pay enough Congressmen, it isn’t.”
Max nodded along to my reasoning. Brian must have been the brains of their team.
Max stood up and offered me his hand. “Well, bro, it was nice hanging with you.”
“Yeah, you should come back sometime, maybe when we’re not all getting our asses kicked.”
“Sometimes you win, sometimes you get covered by another man’s sticky goo. It all shook out in the end, right?”
Brian wasn’t quite letting it go. The topic of conversation, I mean. He shook my hand too, but he didn’t hold it for an awkward length of time. “We don’t know if it worked out yet. I guess we’ll find out.”
“I’m sure we will, but my job here is done. It’s time for me to fly off into the sunset. To right the wrongs of America. Wherever a flag waves, I’ll be there. Wherever people reminisce about apple pie, I’ll be there. Wherever a man can purchase a donut with a giant greasy cheeseburger inside it, I’ll be there. Missile Patriot away, for great justice!”
I turned and jumped off the roof. I was halfway back to the trailer park before I remembered I left them the cooler full of beer.
As for why I was confident Gastrolord wouldn’t be a problem, it was more because I knew he wouldn’t be a problem for me. I changed at the trailer park and went over to his lair to meet him. I kicked open his door, tossed in a gas grenade that started spewing white fog, ran in waving glow sticks over my head, and had my armor play techno music while throwing lights of all colors all over the room.
“Hands up, this is a rave!” I announced.
Gastrolord sat over at a desk in front of his computer, but was turned toward me. He was stock still, with wide eyes, like a deer in the headlights. To be fair, he was in the presence of a raving lunatic. I started hopping up in down in place as the wub wub started pounding.
Finally he spoke, “What are you doing here?”
“Just checking on you, man. Letting you know I’m out of here! You were real helpful. Figured I’d be nice and say bye. I was going to bring beer, but I forgot it somewhere. That’s ok though. Beer tastes like fresh dumpster.”
“Wha, how do you know that?” He reached over and pressed a few buttons, then had to pay attention to his screen long enough to minimize the browser. I guess he had an email he didn’t want me to see.
“Because every dumpster I’ve ever sniffed smelled like old beer.”
“Well…I…wasn’t expecting you. I thought you were gone already. In fact, maybe you should go. I have lots of repairs left on the Super Snail. The Tesla stalks alone…whatever you did out there, you burned up a lot of circuits. Maybe come back in a few days?”
“Nonsense, Gastrolord. I’ll be leaving soon and you’ll probably never see me again. I’ve got lots more Hephaestus to blow up. Big organization, you know.”
“Oh. Well, in that case, I did have a little something I put together for you…just as a way of saying thanks. I was going to give it to you when I had it finished, but it looks like it’s now or never.” He smiled wide under his mustache. That’s what it was! This guy reminded me of an evil Tron guy. If y’all don’t know, he’s a Tron cosplayer who started the whole “Net Neutrality Protection” movement over here that played a part in enshrining those protections over here. Good thing, too. It would suck if either Hephaestus or Long Life were in the business of buying up internet service providers.
Gastrolord stood up and waved me into the big room where he had the Super Snail opened up. “Now you wait out here. I’ll be out in a jiffy.”
I hoped not. The last thing I wanted to see was him dressed in peanut butter. Instead, the Tesla stalks sparked and then crapped out. “No, no, no, I thought they were at least good enough for this…” came Gastrolord’s voice from over the Snail’s speakers.
I just bounced there, dancing along to my heavily-distorted electronic music. “What happened, Gastro? Hephaestus made you a deal? Or was this some lingering hatred from my perfectly valid criticisms of your tabletop game?”
“If you had just stayed away, I wouldn’t have had to try! If you hadn’t gotten me involved, I wouldn’t be getting angry calls late at night promising me a cell with a big, hairy man named Wyatt who has been in jail for a decade and likes chubby women! And shut up about my game! I don’t have to sit here and take that mocking from you.”
The laser on top of the shell swiveled around and took aim at me. “Wait, Gastrolord, before you shoot me, I have something I need to tell you.”
“That’s right, grovel, worm! I am Gastrolord! I’ve been kicked around long enough and now everyone will feel my wrath.”
“Yeah, yeah, everyone except Hephaestus because they scared you the other night, I get it. You know, I’ve been in some communication with your two nemeses as well…nemeses…nemesises? Nemesi? No, nemeses. Anyway, you know why I didn’t kill them last time I talked to them?”
“Because you don’t care about me. You just wanted to use me and laugh at me behind my back. Now it’s my turn to show you what I can do. I have the power. I have-!”
I sent off the code and there was a sound like a pumpkin suddenly smashed on concrete floor. Turned out I had a reason to use that ejection seat of his against him after all. I guess he shouldn’t have been a dick to someone who had done nothing but help him. Can’t say it surprised me, though. Mostly because I had the foresight to put in the killswitch ahead of time.
“You had to be a dick. Could have just let me go on my merry way, distracting the authorities, killing heroes, and generally making things easier for everyone else. But no, it was more important that you were offended by a few valid criticisms. Though I suspect if I go back to that email correspondence you were reading, I’ll find that Hephaestus lured you in with the promise of money with a lot of zeroes in it. But why am I telling you about all that? You’re smooshed.”
Yep, it worked out for Generation Flex after all. They just didn’t know it. What saved them wasn’t being heroic, smart, or good-looking. What has always mattered a lot more to people isn’t how someone looks but instead how someone acts. Gastrolord’s problem wasn’t how he looked, and it probably wasn’t because people just wanted to snub him. He was just too much of a dick. The problem with being a dick, dear readers, is that he picked the wrong person to get into a measuring contest with.
Because let me tell you, dear readers, nobody wants to get into a dick measuring contest with the Great and Devious Psycho Gecko. As a dick, I tower head and boulders, I mean shoulders, over all the rest.
Next time, we’ll be heading to New Orleans to get my favorite fluffer back. Moai, I’m coming for ya!
Ok, considering the prior paragraphs, bad choice of words.