Thursday, July 10th, 2014, the Missile Patriot saved Memphis from the evil machinations of a Hephaestus pee tester!
Alright, so it wouldn’t have made the most exciting of headlines, but that was part of how Hephaestus does things. Evil organizations aren’t made of disposable soldiers and military bases, you know. Behind the unassuming façade of Uri-Ka Testing was a devious intent.
It was easy enough to figure out once I knew they had a lab under the place. Prisoners released on probation would be subject to all sorts of conditions. Urinary screening has generally been part of that to make sure released convicts don’t take up drug use. Hephaestus set up a lab to provide this service using a shell company and found a way to dose the people who showed up to be tested. Maybe they pumped something into the waiting room’s air. Maybe they smeared something on the seats or door handles to act on contact. Hell, maybe they conked them on the head while peeing and gave them a nice little shot. If I had to guess, I bet they put something in the waiting room’s water cooler.
When I walked through that door in my red, white, and blue superhero costume, the prune-faced old receptionist took one look at me and stiffened up like a pedophile at Disney Land. Maybe it was the combat helmet and body armor. Maybe it was the armored codpiece that had “Bunker buster” written on it. Maybe it was even the rich red cape and the rockets attached to my forearms. Whatever it was, I made her nervous. Hopefully not too nervous, but if there was ever an ideal place to pee your pants, we were there.
“Do you have an appointment, sir?” she asked, her hand moving surreptitiously to press a button on the phone.
“Yes,” I responded as I walked swiftly to the window. “I’m down as Ignacio Pendejo Freely.”
She raised her clipboard up to better focus on that than me or my costume. “I’m afraid I don’t see that name on here. Would we have you down under another name?” She set the clipboard down, careful not to glance at the phone in front of her and its urgent blinking lights.
“I suppose I may have used my initials…I. P. Freely!” I yelled the last part as I threw a punch. Briefly firing the rocket attached to my right arm, I swung a punch at the woman right through the hole in the plastic guard. I modified the tips of the rockets when I had a chance, adding a bit of weight and rounding out the ends to deliver a better, but hopefully nonlethal, punch.
I caught her in the nose with the rocket and knocked her on her back. Her chair went down too. I wanted to do more, but alas, it’s frowned upon for heroes to shove a balloon up a woman’s vagina, then inflate it and make balloon animals. Hell, heroes got in trouble for trying to kill me when I burnt down a few neighborhoods, and the folks back in New Orleans considered me around Hitler’s level in terms of likeability.
I settled for knocking her lights out.
“The fuck?” asked a loud individual sitting down in one of the plastic chairs around the waiting room. I turned to see they had a few real patients that day. A fellow with dreadlocks had his arms up, a newspaper in one hand.
“What seems to be the problem, citizen? Not reading any seditious materials, are we?” I asked, layering on the cheese.
“You can’t just come up in here, beating people up. Yo, you need a warrant. This a fucking piss test place, man. I got to have this for my probation.” He stood up and walked over, getting in my face.
“This is the United States of America, citizen. The greatest nation on this or any other planet. You certainly have the right to free speech, as well as free press, freedom of religion, free assembly, and to petition your government for a redress of grievances, all wrapped up in one convenient amendment. But tell me, citizen, do you know what the Fifth Amendment guarantees you?”
Dreadlocks shook his head from side to side, confused. “Means I don’t have to say shit in court.”
“That’s correct, you have the right to shut your mouth. Let me help exercise this most sacred of Constitutional rights.” That led to another restriction on my ability to express myself with violence. I wanted to knock him the fuck out. I settled for making him eat his newspaper.
“Everybody out, I’m here to kick ass in the name of freedom and democracy. Oorah!”
The waiting patients ran out, with me personally sending dreadlocks out with a kick to the rear. I pointed after him. “Remember that, citizen. Unless you want to fully digest the news, you’d better not have a cross word with me.”
I headed back inside where the nurse was staggering to her feet. “You don’t know who the fuck you’re messing with!” She glared at me and pointed one wrinkly old finger my way.
“I’m messing with a secret conspiratorial corporate oligarchy poised to do a great injustice to proud, correctionally-challenged American citizens. Does your evil know no bounds? You’re nearly as bad as…the communists!” I pointed at her. She stood too far out from the guard for me to punch her again. I kicked her in the face this time instead. You know what they say: act like a biddy, get kicked with my eleven point fitty. Maybe it lost something in the translation from the original Japanese.
I didn’t have time to wait for the nurse to recover and call me into the back. Plus, I doubted she felt like it, so I went back on my own. The receptionist, tough old bat that she was, stumbled out of her little room just in time for me to shove her against the wall and tie her up with some plastic ties. I never bothered with learning police procedure, so maybe I shouldn’t have tied her hands to her ankles.
She survived. If humans couldn’t survive a lot, I would have had a short stint as a hero.
From there, I hunted down the back rooms for any doctors. It would have embarrassing if anyone saw me. I broke in doors, pointed into empty rooms, and started to say “You’re in-!” Even the spacious bathroom, with its mirrors and wide open spaces, failed to hold any other wrongdoers than myself.
Where did they hide? More importantly, why did I ask y’all?
Bah, it’s a good thing I paid attention to the noises coming out of the janitorial closet. I slid that squeaky little door open curiously and found one of the walls slid back and a balding man in a labcoat. I clapped my hands together excitedly. “You a doctor?” I asked.
“Uh, what…yes? What are you doing back here?”
“Yes, yes yes!” I then pointed at him. “Urine trouble!” I thought I’d never get to use that one.
He didn’t know what to make of that. He stood there with his blinking and his gaping mouth, looking like a caught fish. His wits returned to him about the time I stepped inside the room and he realized things weren’t right. I jumped up and gave him a dropkick where I put most of my weight on him. He fell to the stairs underneath me, but I maintained my footing on his chest and abdomen. I surfed the spiral staircase downward, grateful to whoever kept the place nice and waxed.
When we reached the base of the stairs, I found myself in a short hallway that formed a crossroads with another hall. Large windows showed three offices and a laboratory were the main rooms.
I held up a hand, palm outward. “Stop!…in the name of nuts!” I kicked with my rear foot, popping the balding doctor in the nuts. He gasped and grabbed between his legs, indicating he was alive and not a eunuch. Good people, eunuchs. Somebody had to guard harems, run the ancient Chinese bureaucracy, and sing castrato. It was like some scissor-happy man went into a bar and ordered up some men, but not on the rocks.
The doors to the closest offices on either side of me opened up to reveal a confused woman and a sweaty, worried man in nurse’s scrubs. They were just in time for the rest of my musical number. I ducked and threw elbows to either side as I passed. “Before you break my nuts!”
It was a risk, rhyming nuts with nuts, but it was hard to lyrically kick butts. While I wanted the place with little fuss, it was still fun to hear Dr. Woman cuss. The last person thought surrendering was a must, only she too had a bust. Worry not lest you get the angina, for I showed her the pain of a punched vagina.
I mused on the deviousness of the whole setup as I tied them all up and hauled them outside for the cops. Testing chemicals on prisoners. It was all spelled out there in black and white because everybody’s boring about their text color. They made sure the filler and control substances wouldn’t screw with people. At the same time, they tried out doses of whatever experimental formulas they were using to inseminate people with powers. If anyone had a bad reaction and was found to have unusual drugs floating around in them, it got blamed on the already-untrustworthy folks whose drug testing was mandated by a court of law. If they actually got powers, it was no big deal.
The hilarious part is, if a released convict got superpowers and wound up back in jail, only to get released again, you know what Hephaestus got out of it? They got to test him again when he had to go back for more urinalysis. Or at least they would have, if the public exposure of a drug screening company as a Hephaestus front hadn’t royally screwed up their plans.
I didn’t like letting the authorities have all that information about how to induce powers. Unless I wanted to break my cover, though, I just had to trust in the incompetence of people. As a matter of fact, that mostly set my mind at ease.
Friday, I meant to hit the other major center of Hephaestus activity in Memphis, a tractor company off the northeast side of the city. Yeah, right. I saw the light off the flames all the way from the Martin Luther King Jr. Expressway. Damn Honky Tonk Hero, taking down my marks. He probably didn’t practice any police brutality, the softy. Sick, compassionate bastard probably didn’t hit any of them in the balls. That could have been because the guy flying around shooting lasers at him was in some sort of power armor/hovercycle amalgamation. As cool as it looked, it wasn’t quite ready for prime time, not the way Honky Tonk tore through it like tissue paper, guitar shining in the sky like another star. A country music star.
I watched long enough to see the armored cycle spiral down and hit the pavement like gravity’s abused girlfriend, then got out of there.
I couldn’t even head over to the Beale Street Back Alley Voodoo Bar. The disguise kept anyone from knowing that the Great and Devious Psycho Gecko was in the neighborhood, but that also meant they would spot me at the usual hangout spots. Despite his original disguise as Rushmore, my sidekick, Moai’s ability to disguise itself was too limited to trust with all these assholes gunning for me.
I needed to nibble away at Hephaestus. I needed to break their kneecaps and thumbs. I needed to disperse their team and pick them off one by one, slasher style. Most immediately pressing of all, I needed two dozen bananas to deal with this asshole in the truck who ruined his engine so he could spew smoke back on anybody following him.
I put a lot of work into my car. A lot of work and a lot of weapons. And adaptive camouflage. And an advanced computer system. And leather seats. And a bitching stereo. Also, heated seats. No way would I ever let some fucker get away with blowing smoke on my car just because he wanted to “roll coal” or whatever those ignorant reactionary assholes are doing who hate cars with slightly better gas mileage.
Let’s see how much coal he rolls with enough bananas in his tailpipe to satisfy a potassium-deprived gay pride parade.