Paradise City never knew what hit them.
Located as it was in Northwest Florida, the city was in danger of catching hurricanes. The Gulf of Mexico had a nasty habit of strengthening storms, too. None were predicted heading toward it so far. It should have been safe.
That didn’t last. Out of nowhere, a huge front rolled in and formed a distinctive spiral. From Tropical Storm to Category Three in no time flat. Unlike how they normally behave, it stayed there, sitting over Paradise City. Even more unusual, it was gaining strength there. Hurricanes have never gotten stronger over land.
During my discussion with Ouroboros, I mentioned buoys communicating with a Hephaestus weather station. There was a chance some other villain or organization happened to spring some weather control shenanigans right there when Ouroboros found out more Hephaestus people were in his city. I wouldn’t bet on it.
This was horrible! I needed to ask Ouroboros if he had any giant drills I could use up here. I knew some people had those things out there. I looked them up. I found out they were a popular car accessory in the Sixties. Nobody I knew seemed to sell any of the damn things. Maybe Michelangelo knew someone, but he wasn’t taking my calls.
There probably wasn’t anything wrong with him, though. He never liked taking my calls.
I know, you’re probably wondering why I never thought to look online for something big to drill with. The answer is that I never needed an accessory to help me drill. Booyah!
Attacking a place intended to contain deadly amounts of radiation presented a whole host of challenges. I couldn’t name them all without putting y’all at risk of arrest, I think. If you go to jail, devoted readership, who will be left to worship me? I won’t let them take you!
I racked my head coming up with ideas on how to get in. After that, I racked Moai’s head. When we still came up with a case of fighter’s block, we racked other people’s heads. It wasn’t easy. First we had to chase them down, then strap them to the bed, and then we had to run out and grab more grease for the cranks.
Then we had to deal with the bodies, which was nasty business without the requisite preparations. October! That’s the best time of year for randomly killing people. No clean up necessary; just chuck them on someone’s lawn somewhere.
After I was done restocking the local Wal-Mart’s meat section, I still had to think up a way into the base. My little worker ants had done their job, mapping out the power plant and part of the laboratory complex. They scurried around, performing their errands and occupations, and the tracers stored everywhere they were going. I pulled all the data out when they got back outside the thick walls and had myself a three-dimensional map.
To protect y’all, I’ll skip over the specifics of the power station. The lab was interesting. They situated three floors under the old reactor core. The upper level had a large testing around with observation rooms in the four cardinal directions. A corridor ringed those rooms and connected them all to various other rooms. Storage, data entry, medical stations; I couldn’t figure that with what I had.
I didn’t get as good a look at the next floor down. It looked about the same, but there may have been larger rooms connected to the outer ring on the east side. I got barely any of the bottommost floor, but it looked to be copying the same plans as the other two. There could have been more floors, but I had nothing to show them.
For convenience, I’ve labeled the core level as Floor One, and the three testing rooms as Floors Two, Three, and Four going down. I considered making it Floors One, Six, Two, and Eighteen, but my initial sinister glee was dampened by the need for convenience.
I can’t help it. One part of liking people for their minds is that I occasionally want to fuck their minds.
Anyway, that’s where Moai and I found ourselves. Ouroboros was out of touch, though he wouldn’t have helped us much. Michelangelo wasn’t taking my calls to provide me anything handy. Mix N’Max was vacationing in Las Vegas. My brain was being a dipshit.
At first, I thought of going in through the stack, but that wouldn’t put me anywhere nice. Just vented on. I considered hitting up the coolant intake like what happened to Generator One originally, but the most that would ever have done was get me circulated next to an active nuclear core.
I needed a way to open it up so I could open a can of whoop-ass.
Lightbulb! That gave me the idea I needed. Pulling it off required very little in the way of effort and resources, too. That von Hammerstein-Equord guy really knew what he was talking about when he said the lazy smart people were cut out for high leadership.
The next day, local workers from a vending machine company visited Three Mile Island. They were checked at the gate, where their cover of replacing some machines was met with enthusiasm by the guards. The guards patted them down, then allowed the two men to wheel in the machines on dollies. After a stroll and a few turns, they stopped at a break room and, after much grunting and sweating, made the switch. They left unmolested, taking a decades old snack machine and drink machine with them.
I gave them twenty minutes to get away. Twenty minutes of passing drinks through a slot. Oh, didn’t I mention it? Moai and I were in the machines. I guess you could say that brilliant infiltration method was a real Gecko ex Machina, eh? Eh? Anybody?
At the twenty minute mark, someone else stepped up to order a drink.
“Hawaiian Punch…Dr. Wham…Rape Soda. Rape Soda? Hey, Donnie, take a look at this. They screwed up and left off the G. Eh? Rape Soda. Guess I better watch my ass if I order that one.”
Another voice joined in. “Ha! That’s good. Huh, they have Kickin’ Ice? I thought that was a slushy.”
“Maybe it’s new. I think I’ll give it a try.” I braced my feet against the front cover of the machine.
The button lit up indicating that, yes, he had chosen Kickin’ Ice. He got my kicking him in the face, tearing the front of the machine open in the process. I climbed out and found I was in a little room with a round table in the middle and a counter on the opposite wall with a sink and a microwave. I grabbed my customer as he stumbled back against the table and spun him around. “Drink up, icehole,” I told him just before kicking his ass so hard his head went into the microwave.
Out in the hallway, his friend booked it out of there as fast as his legs could carry him.
I stretched a moment to get the feeling back in all my extremities, then turned and slapped the button for Dee’s Nuts on the snack machine. Moai burst out of it wearing a black jumpsuit, a pair of night vision goggles on his forehead. He tossed me the peanuts I ordered. “Alright, time to show them who’s got the power,” I said as I turned on the microwave and walked out of the room.
Alarms began to blare as we stalked the corridors, looking for the access tunnel to the lab. On the way in, I tracked the turns we took and compared them to the 3D map I assembled. Guards we ran across fired the first couple of times with regular handguns, then backed off.
When we rounded the corner to a checkpoint right in our way, we found a lot more of them. Eleven men were assembled there, each one holding a rifle that looked like it had a vent on the front. A few stood ready to intercept, but most were in the process of putting on silver hazmat suits. I activated my armor’s invisibility, left a hologram in my place, and ducked behind Moai to watch what happened.
When the guards fired, the darkened interiors of the guns lit up pale blue. No visible beam was produced, but the spot where I had been standing set my helmet to crackling from the radiation. That explained the suits.
Unfortunately, seeing nothing happen to my hologram caused one of them to smash open a panel on the wall and hit a button. A blast door slammed shut, creating a dead end behind them. That wasn’t very nice.
I slid around in front of Moai and jumped up, kicking off him to send myself into the mob of men. I landed on one man, knocking the air out of him with an “Oomph!” I stood, stomping on the first man’s groin, then threw my bag of peanuts into his face. He was protected by the hazmat mask, but he reflexively raised his hands. I reached down, grabbed his balls, and squeezed. His voice almost had as good a range as the alarms that still echoed through the place.
With me in the midst of them while they were half dressed, security couldn’t fire willy-nilly at me. I used that to my advantage. I picked up the guy whose nuts I had grabbed and tossed him headfirst into another fellow’s crotch. Another swung his rifle at me, but I ducked under it and rose in an uppercut aimed right at his cornhole. I tore his asshole a new asshole and lifted him off the ground.
After rotating him sixty-three degrees on a random access I swung him and let him fly off my arm with a sound like a squelch. He hit that button in the panel again, but nothing happened to the door. Another guard bonked me on the shoulder with a baton. As I turned around, he dropped it and raised his hands. “I’m sorry, man. I won’t do it again, I promise, just let me go.”
“Let you go?” I asked. He nodded quickly, sweat pouring down his face. “If I let you go, why, that’d be…nuts.” I kicked him between the legs, knocking him into the air until his crotch was at face height. Then I punched him in the balls hard enough to send him flying back a few feet where he curled up pathetically on the ground.
Looking around, I decided to ask someone how to get that open, but the problem was finding someone to ask. Moai had laid out five other guards on his own, but there was one right between us. The unlucky bastard recognized he didn’t stand a chance whether he ran for it or stayed.
I picked up a spare rifle from the floor and approached. “Hey there. Easy now. Easy. I take it you’re looking to come out of this with a minimum of pain, correct?”
“Yes!” he practically shouted, eager to say whatever he needed to in order to survive.
“Good, good. Now, my friend and I, we were looking to get past that door.” I pointed to the blast door. ”Open it.”
He shook his head. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. Damn am I ever sorry, my man, but that, what the one guy did, that wasn’t reversible. Well, it is, but not from this side. It was a special emergency button. Even up in the control room, they can’t get it open.”
I examined my map on my HUD. That blocked off corridor was the only way to or from the laboratory. I projected the map for the guard and pointed at the laboratory section as I asked, “Are there any other ways over there?”
He shook his head. “No, that was it. I’m sorry man. It wasn’t me. I didn’t design the place. I think it was an Asian dude. Short guy. One of those short, efficient Japanese guys who works too much and looks like they’re constipated from all the sushi. You gotta believe me, if I built this place, I’d have three or four other corridors, maybe like an elevator that moves sideways.” He moved his hand from side to side to indicate the blast door.
I kinda liked this guy. For one thing, he gave me an idea.
“Which of these rooms is the control room?”
He obediently pointed to it.
It took a few minutes to get there, but the door on the control room wasn’t hard to breach. It was no blast door or vault, and few regular doors stood up to Moai’s bulk once he got going fast enough. I stepped through the control room doorway as he rolled to the side off the door and then to a standing position.
“Congratulations, everyone, you can turn off that fucking alarm. You’ve all got the rest of the day off. If anyone objects, they can have the rest of their life off. Understand?” I hefted the rifle I still carried and pointed it into the air. Resting on and partially around the barrel was the lone guard I chatted with, his neck hanging at an unnatural angle. I squeezed the trigger on the rifle and the guard’s head expanded slightly before exploding outward in a spray of blood, bone, and brain.
Thus began the stampede out of the control room. I really did let them go.
Tossing the rifle aside, I stepped toward the blood-soaked main control panel and unsealed my gloves. “Moai, watch the door,” I ordered while removing my gloves. I sat down and pressed my hands to the control panel. Soon I was in, nerves connecting to circuit boards and wires to link me directly into it. I wiped and replaced the passwords, then activated a speaker system that let me communicate with those trapped on the other side of that blasted blast door.
“Greetings, Hephaestus workers. You will all be happy to know that the emergency is over.” I cut the alarm. “This has merely been a test of your security procedures. You failed. I, Psycho Gecko, am in control. Do not adjust your monitors if you have any. That’s right, go right on watching porn while your boss isn’t looking. Just don’t stay long. I want you to open that door and get your asses out of my new base of operations pronto. Shut up! Did I say you were allowed to object?”
I couldn’t hear anyone objecting, but if anyone did, I probably freaked them out saying that.
“Funny thing is, your secrecy works against you here. You’re not going to call for the cops. They want you too. Then the audits start and the Internal Revenue Service starts looking into every possibly corporate connection to nail down members of your organization. Hephaestus won’t be asking the military to come crashing in and save your asses anytime soon, I think.”
I laughed as I thought out exactly what I wanted to do with the place.
“Don’t mind the outburst. It’s not like there’s any reason to make this all so serious anyway. Just open the door and shuffle your asses out. Go home. Play with your dogs. Play with your kids. Play with yourselves. Or I play with this nuclear reactor and see how big a bang I can make.”
Not one minute later, I got a call on the control room’s landline from the lab’s control room. “Hello, you’re on Radical Radiation Radio with your host, Psycho Gecko. What’s on your mind, caller?”
The voice on the other side sounded harried, like the owner of it had just caught her breath. “I’m the overseer around here. You wouldn’t blow this place up! There’s billions of dollars worth of research here! And you! You’re too close. You’d kill yourself.”
“I suppose I could always start the process, disable the alarms, leave some automated monologues in the speaker system, and skedaddle while you’re all- while you’re all- while you’re all-“ I acted like I was a recording glitching out and stuck in a loop. “Oh, whoops, maybe I’ve already left.” I turned on the alarm that indicated a meltdown for a few seconds, then shut it off.
The overseer wasn’t amused. “You…fuck!”
“Not lately, but most people think I should do so at least once, preferably with myself. It sounds uncomfortable. Not as uncomfortable as you explaining that you lost this place to me, but at least a living person can talk. What’s it going to be?”
In the end, they relented, marching out past Moai. I watched them leave on camera, maybe a hundred people all out of a job.
Once they left, I locked down the whole complex and checked over my new place to make sure no intruders were left.
Hephaestus cost me a night club and a hideout. I got a nuclear power station and a new hideout from them. It almost balanced out.
With all the toys and abominations that were left behind, it’s safe to say the life expectancy of Hephaestus just dropped to a half-life expectancy.