We made record time reaching Pennsylvania. The “Most Cop Cars Cut Through With A Giant Buzzsaw Strapped To A Car” record, to be exact.
The trip gave Moai and I time to feel out the situation with Hephaestus. The Annihilation Eight was still intact. Pivot’s little anti-me task force still had its superpowered muscle, and they were flexing it. In an extremely transparent attempt to goad me, they were pulling jobs in different cities.
Days after I left Memphis, Motley Sue showed up there and tore up the Memphis Rock N Soul Museum. Over in Kingscrow, where Mix N’Max usually hung out, Terrorjaw was seen swimming the rivers. He chomped his way through boats and used the remains to block off the sewers. Then he blew up one of the bridges that were crowded with traffic. Rumble was also out and about. I hadn’t run into him yet in my battles with Hephaestus, but he was leaping around Empyreal City in his boxing shorts, knocking over banks. Literally. He was something like ten or eleven feet tall and gave tanks penis envy.
Hmm. I meant that in terms of strength and durability, but I hadn’t thought of how the man’s erection might factor into a fight until just this second. I made a note to make sure I didn’t fight him while horny. While he was horny, at least. I didn’t need an extra limb to dodge. I could be as horny as I liked if I wanted to.
Anyway, he would give his battle cry of “Let’s get ready to Rumble!” Then, he just walked up to a bank and punched his way through. The boxing gloves he wore didn’t protect the vaults any better than they did the exterior walls.
They weren’t content to just show up and make scenes in three major cities I’ve caused havoc in lately. They also left insults directed at me at the scenes of their crimes. The usual juvenile stuff was included, like “Psycho Gecko’s so stupid, he can’t even read this,” but also some more sophisticated insults like “We declare Psycho Gecko obsolete.” How obsolete could I be if they’re using three teams of two people to take me on? That’s right, teams of two. I had my suspicions about that, but it was Motley Sue who confirmed them. She tried to go after the Stax Museum. That time, she got into a fight with Honky Tonk Hero, who brought Gorilla Awesome along. That’s when Gorilla Badass revealed himself and helped Sue out. The two villains got away, but revealed that their antics were part of a trap.
I haven’t figured out who they teamed up with Rumble and Terrorjaw yet. Maybe other heroes will respond and clear that up for me. Forcelight’s company, Long Life, was still in Kingscrow. Empyreal City had…uh…I don’t know…Lone Gunman, maybe?
Terrorjaw and Rumble probably teamed up with the last two members of the Annihilation Eight. The ones who hadn’t been revealed yet. That, or they were still lugging the dead bodies of Quick Sand or Dr. Typhoon around. That sounded like a great briefing. “Go out and hunt this asshole. Your only backup on this mission is this dead dude that he already killed. Have a ball. Make jerky or something.”
That’s what Pivot’s team was up to in order to draw me out. While they were busy with that, I would strike somewhere that would cost them.
“There it is, Moai. Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station.” I filled in Moai as I held up a pair of binoculars to the visor of my armor. I didn’t need them with my visor’s zoom, but that wasn’t the point. It was part of how I wanted to reconnoiter this place.
“Located on Three Mile Island, on the Susquehanna River three miles down from Middletown, Pennsylvania. So, you can see where they got the name.” I tossed Moai the binoculars as if they were big enough for him to use. I zoomed in with my visor and pointed out the defenses to him. It was as much an exercise for myself as it was for him. But not so much for y’all, so the specifics on what you need to circumvent to break into a nuclear power plant are left up to y’all’s imaginations.
“Good spot for an evil lair. Few visitors, thick walls, sinister overtones. See, in 1979, they had a partial meltdown around here. Generator One was shut down and Two was workin’ it instead. It was shakin’ its nuclear booty and making it rain delicious energy on people around here. Cooling system screwed up. That’s why nuclear plants are on the water, to cool them down. Radiation is like an old man in a strip club. It takes more than thinking about baseball to end any dangerous spikes. In this case, the line of cold beers to old man radiation was interrupted when crap piled up on the strip club floor and the normal systems failed to clear it away.”
Pointing to the tower that didn’t have smoke wafting from it, I told him, “That’s Generator Two, where the meltdown happened. Anyway, the steam generators stopped working. Yeah, nuclear power is basically steam power with nuclear materials heating things up as opposed to coal or gas or whatever. So it was sort of like there was a cork in old man nuclear power plant’s sphincter. Or maybe the plant wasn’t eating enough fiber and it got constipated. Technically, in this case, it was too much fiber that clogged it up, but no analogy is perfect. Can’t spell analogy without anal. As happens in those cases, pressure and heat built up inside in a dangerous way. This triggered a shutdown.”
I stopped pointing and began to gesticulate. I wished I had sock puppets. Wait, why didn’t I have sock puppets? I used my suit’s holographic systems to display sock puppets on my hands. One wore a nuclear stack as a hat and had a long grey beard on its face. The other was blue and had a hydrogen atom drawn on its head. “Despite the shutdown, there was still an erection growing bigger and bigger in the pants, and since the steam generator wasn’t working, it was building up and building up.” I bulked up the blue sock.” They were supposed to have some secondary stuff start up and help cool the thing down, but all this happened during some maintenance and they didn’t, which was where they violated the rules. You’ll notice that point in any nuclear disaster. ‘And this is the point where they weren’t doing what they were supposed to.’”
“So Generator Two here,” I waved the stack-hatted puppet, “He was still constipated with nuclear decay heat and getting one hell of a radioactive boner. This caused him to open his mouth, or as they call it in power plant terms, his relief valve.” The stack sock began to move its mouth like it was talking. I created a pair of holographic socks with gigantic hooters and thongs drawn on them. “Like most people who open their mouths, it didn’t stop when it was supposed to. This marks like the hundredth coincidental failure or so to happen, by the way. The little bit of beer he had to keep him in check spilled out. The control panel falsely claimed the old man’s mouth was closed.”
Moai nodded, having turned the binoculars so he could see through one of the lenses. He was looking through it at my sock puppets. “This caused drooling.” The stack puppet began to bounce a basketball up and down. “Not dribble, drool.” The hologram changed to water dripping out the sock’s mouth. “Steam pockets were created that misled the people looking at the old man, who thought all the drool was spilled beer. There’s no use crying over spilled beer. The old man began hooting and hollering as one of the girls did this pole dance with an upside down flip from a pole hanging above the stage, but this warning sign was ignored at first.”
“His handlers thought he’d cool off on his own with all the beer already in his system, but instead the beer just fueled his raging hard on. A zipper malfunction later, and the head was exposed. One hydrogen gas explosion later, the radiation had been released.”
I swapped out the sock puppet strippers with a new pair. “Anyway, at 6 am they brought in new people who noticed something was wrong. Then they declared an emergency around the guy’s table.”
I turned off the holograms. “Luckily for everyone involved, no one got any radioactive ejaculate on them. Heck, no one even got cancer from it.”
I then pointed at the active stack with smoke puffing out, “That’s Generator One. That puppy’s still active. I’m not sure what that means for us taking this place apart, but it may mean something. It provides the power and the space where Generator Two was provides the hideout for Hephaestus. Come Moai. Bad choice of words. Walk this way. We have more recon to do.”
Sitting there, putting things in perspective with sock puppets, I had an idea. We were there in time to see a shift change. It reminded me of the phrase I’ve used before about when I’m outnumbered by powerful people. “I didn’t know how many of them it would have taken to kick my ass, but I knew how many they were going to use.” In this case, I didn’t know how many of them it took to run the one active generator unit, but I knew how many they had.
That led to a hectic little situation where I hunted down the various plant workers over the next couple of days. Like a fellow I approached in the grocery store. He was minding his own business, looking over the cheeses in the dairy aisle. I came up behind him and slapped him on the butt.
“Mmm, that’s nice,” I said. He jumped and stiffened up, then turned around to look at me. He didn’t see me, as I had climbed into the bin with the cheese while I planted a tracker on him. I dove off onto the floor as he whirled around again. He was going to spin again, but I was done. This time when he twirled around, he tried to flail and hit at whoever was touching him. He found no one, lost his balance, and collapsed against the shelves. He slid to the ground covered in packs of singles.
I pretended to help him up. “You alright? With all that sharp cheddar, you’re lucky you didn’t cut yourself.” He stumbled on a pack of cheese, ripping it open. Singles spread out and he nearly tripped. “Easy there, man. Just because you’re intolerant of lactose is no reason to try and cut the cheese.” He pulled away from me, looking confused and hurt. Maybe a little bit embarrassed, too.
I left the store with one more shift worker checked off my list and headed east. Along the way, I noticed another person from my list. She was walking along with a dog. I reached out and gave her a boobs a grope. “Hey there, these are just boobtastic.”
Ha! I’ve fought girl scouts who knew how to punch better than she did. Still, straightening out my nose gave me something to do until I ran into the next person at a Middletown bus stop.
He was a rotund fellow, big enough that I could have parachuted with his pants. I walked right up to him and gave his boobs a grope. “Boob-fucking-tastic.”
He flushed with embarrassment and started to thank me before trying to push me away. That’s when I moved my hands down his sides and tickled. He squirmed and giggled, then threw a chunky ham hock of an arm at me. I let him go ahead and hit me. I sold the hit too much and stumbled out into traffic, where I caught a ride from a passing motorist. The driver soon realized I was holding onto the back, and I saw a cell phone come up to dial the cops.
I didn’t stay on long. Just long enough to reach my stop, a tiki-themed stand that sold shaved ice. There was a prop statue next to it wearing a grass skirt and a tribal mask that had a blow dart pipe sticking out of the mouth. I leaned against it. “How are you doing, Moai?”
In response, the pipe fired. Across the street, a jogging woman’s head snapped to the side and she bonked it against a tree. She stumbled a few steps, then fell down, a large dart sticking out of her cheek.
I patted my disguised henchrock on what passed for a shoulder. “Good job. I’ll go get this one.”
One tracer later, I pulled the dart out of her and hid it. “Nasty spill there, ma’am. You bang your head?”
She shook her head and pulled the hair out of her face with her pinky. “Ungh, I, yeah, I guess I did.”
I offered her a hand up, “Need some help?”
“Sure, thanks,” she said as she took my hand and got to her feet. As she walked off, I gave the tracers a check. All twenty-three we planted were still working.
Instead of charging in blind, like the Greek Tiresias, I’d handle this smart, like Daedalus. Thinking of old horny guys reminded me of the Greeks, but I felt no urge to join the local NAMBLA chapter. I was going to get balls deep inside a nuclear generating station and whatever lab was hidden beneath it.
Yep, I wasn’t coming at them from the front. I was going to nail them from beyond and reach around to give them the shaft. I’d have to avoid the taint of radiation, but I was confident I could toss them around like so much salad.
Like a jogger sedated by a tiki statue, Hephaestus is never going to know what hit them.