“I’ll have to have you over, Venus. Sometime soon. Just you, me, handcuffs, and some of your close FBI friends.”
Venus looked up from where she sat on the roof of a building. She had been looking down, taking a break, and some of her hair stayed in her face when she turned to look at me. She blew it out of the way, but didn’t bother to stand up.
“Is there a point to this visit, or are you just wasting my time again?” Venus asked. She turned her back on me to look down before I could answer.
“That’s hardly heroic of you. I could be about to kill someone!”
“Gecko, please. You’re always about to murder someone. You killed everyone who died from the pulse. You wrecked everything and you used me to do it, all so you could try and make me kill you. Give me a break.”
She didn’t yell it, just said it. I began to walk toward her. I didn’t appear to be in my armor, but that’s because I wasn’t in my armor. She spoke up before I got too close. “Stop. I’m busy enough dealing with what you made me do to the city. Can you give everyone a break?”
I walked over and sat beside her regardless of her apparent exasperation. “As much as I would love to take that opening to snap your arm, I’m going to choose to interpet that as you being serious. And I suppose I can stand to give you a chance to do a few things. At this point, I’m kinda running up the score in our little game, anyway.”
She shot me a glare. “It’s never a game.”
I rolled my eyes at her. She picked them up off the rooftop and looked at them. Maybe she didn’t realize that was another way to look me right in the eye. “That was gross, Gecko.”
“Hey, you’re the one holding them. And now bouncing them.”
“I should toss them off the building.” She held them out over the side. Then, with a smirk, she pulled them back close. “No, I should keep them. Good luck seeing where you’re going.”
I held up a finger in what seemed the correct direction. “If you did that, I’d go around talking about how much you want my eyes on you.”
“Yep, Venus wanted my eyes all over her body. I didn’t build in any arms or manipulators, so unfortunately I can’t undress you with my eyes. You must be so disappointed right now.”
“That’s me, disappointed.” She leaned in to squint at my cybernetic eyes in the dark of the night.
“Now, don’t let anyone know I was serious for a moment, dear Venus, but you know why it’s hard for me to give anyone a break.”
She glanced my way. “Have you tried getting help?”
I laid back, letting my legs kick against the side of the building. “Yeah, but somebody went and arrested the big bunch of minions I had with me.”
“You know what I meant. Besides, you sent them there and you refused to help them out.”
I shook my finger in Venus’s general direction. “It was a trap. You couldn’t expect me to go into a trap. You’re probably planning to attack me at the end of this conversation, even. You like to do that, you straight-laced bitch. That’s something I can count on with you. You are quite the stickler. Quite the true hero who does what is right, without room for sense. Now that I think about it, I’ve come to you only intending to talk in the past. You still attacked me. Attack, attack, attack. I really ought to kick you off this roof.”
She kicked me in the shin.
“Ow. See? You are a vicious little sociopath, Venus. You should get that looked at before it turns into something you can’t control.” I sat up and rubbed my poor, wounded leg.
Venus took my eyes and waved them around, throwing my vision for a loop. Maybe not throwing, but definitely looping. “Even if that happens, I bet I can come back from it. You’re never too far gone, as long as you want to change.”
I wished I had my eyes back to roll them again. “Sure, sounds nice, I bet. Until you remember that redemption means paying for your crimes. Just what good does it do anybody at all to be locked up 700 years because of your body count? You still die, but you’re bored out of your skull and you have to let the authorities kick your ass whenever they want or they’ll take on more time. You may as well kill someone before sending them through such a slow death.”
“I wouldn’t,” she said. Venus offered me back my eyes. Since she didn’t bother to roll them around to see me, I reached out to feel for her hand. Then I had to figure out which went where and slide them into the correct hole. I looked at once they were in, and she obligingly continued. “I don’t rob people when I’m stopping thieves. Then I’m a thief. Why would I commit a murder while trying to stop a murderer?”
“You gotta think long term, Venus. You kill the right person and you can save hundreds of lives. Maybe even thousands. It’s not even a matter of random chance. If you know what to look for, you can know someone’s going to be murdered because of a butterfly being in the wrong place or time. Or you can keep feeding the system and let nothing change.”
Venus rolled her eyes then. Too bad they didn’t pop out. They’d have looked good on a keychain or something. “I’m thinking more long term than you think, Gecko. If you overthrow what you call the system, you get a lot worse in the short term and possibly a lot worse in the long term.” She peered out over the corner of the roof. “Like them down there.”
I took a look. Not too much of a look. Venus could have gotten the urge to stretch her arm out and accidentally nudge me. Just because I’m suicidal doesn’t mean I want to die, folks.
“And who are they down there?” I asked, zooming in. Several men, mostly of Asian ancestry, forced a bunch of people out of the back of a van. A large bunch of people. They must have packed them in like sardines. “Human traffickers?”
“They’re working like there’s no tomorrow. A lot of records were destroyed and there are going to be so many errors in the system when the crisis is past.” Venus shifted to a crouch, ready to get to work.
I laid on my side in a centerfold-type of pose. “Well, that sucks. Someone might consider doing something about it.”
I don’t know why she did it, but she smiled at me.
“What? What are you doing? You have teeth out. Are you trying to warn me off? Did you get bit by a werewolf?” I reached over and grabbed Venus. “Are you possessed by a demon and trying to let me know? Venus, what’s wrong?”
She pushed my hands away, but giggled. Then she grew more serious. “You let your conscience out for a moment. You almost seemed normal.”
I raised an eyebrow. “That sounds horrible. Being normal. Bleh. Besides, the existence of a conscience doesn’t change much with me. In fact, knowing what you humans do to each other makes it seem like a much better idea to kill y’all. You want to see normal people with consciences? There ya go.” I waved my hand down at the van, the building, and the traffickers. Then I waved to all the other buildings around. “Oh, and here’s all these other people who aren’t doing a damn thing to stop it!”
Venus cocked her head toward the street. “If it’s such a big deal, how about you give me a hand?”
I cupped my hands in front of my mouth. “Venus, if it’s some sort of parasitic invasion, blink twice. If it’s alien molecular control, blink three times. If it’s an involuntary reflex, blink once.” Acting semi-serious for a moment, I then asked. “Since when do you invite me along to your little soirees?”
“Since I realized I could keep an eye on you better this way, and since it’s now past midnight on Halloween, and maybe since I think some part of you wants to change. Come on. If you’re not going to kill me, I could still use you in a fight. Don’t you want to say I used you?” Venus didn’t give me a chance to answer; she grabbed onto the edge and slid down using her boots and the palms of her gloves. Sparks trailed her as she controlled her fall.
Well that was no good. She’s lost some fear of me. That’s it, she’s asking for some torture. I’ll have to bring out the big guns: pliers and pop music. Shit, I forgot to invite her along to my own little party. Ugh. It helped me to help her, then. I looked to see how she’d initiated the fight.
She hadn’t, not yet.
Venus had squared off with whoever these guys were. Yakuza, Triads, other associated Asian mafias. Heck, they could have been some American street gang that just happened to have a lot of Asian-American members. Either way, formed a semi-circle around Venus with a larger guy in the middle who had a sawed-off shotgun in hand. The others had knives or blackjacks.
They weren’t expecting trouble from the law.
I jumped off the roof. I would like to note at this point that I wore no parachute, wielded no grappling line, and benefited from no rockets. All I had was gravity. Gravity and a large man with a sawed-off shotgun. They weren’t expecting trouble from the law of gravity either.
He went down like a sack of potatoes, leaving me standing there surrounded by nervous men with melee weapons. I looked at them, and at Venus. Venus looked at me and them. They looked at me, Venus, and each other.
I broke the stalemate by jumping up and kicking my leg out, “Hello, my baby, hello my honey, hello my ragtime gal!” I addressed Venus as I did so, dancing like a little cartoon frog to the inconvenience of the man under me I kept stepping on. “Send me a kiss by wire, baby my heart’s on fire. If you refuse me, honey you’ll lose me, then you’ll be left alone. Oh baby, telephone, and tell me I’m your ooooooooown!” I finished by dropping to my knee and holding my arms wide for Venus.
Everyone stared. Everyone but Venus, who turned and punched the nearest man to her. She socked him in the gut, then hip tossed him to the ground. The two nearest focused on me, but the other two left standing went after her.
As the saying goes, the person who chases two rabbits catches none. Unless they’re me. Then they’re fucking awesome and they have dead rabbits piled up all over the place. Then the rabbit secret service show up because they/me were last season near the rabbit Texas Schoolbook Depository.
I lost track of the point in all that…but at least I got to rip out a man’s testicles. I always enjoyed that because I could hear the exact moment when the man’s voice changed from baritone to castrato. He fell to the ground as the other tried to brain me with his blackjack. I slipped under his arm and came up behind him, unraveling the testes of the first man. Believe it or not, those little balls contain a lot of tubing in them. I wrapped said testicular tubing around the second guy’s throat and pulled.
Most garrotes made of thin wires killed quickly. So long as the assailant pulled hard enough and the wire was fine enough, it cut through the throat well enough for a non-powered human to nearly decapitate someone. I used an adult male’s epididymis. It worked more slowly.
Unfortunately, I had to let go as reinforcements arrived from inside the building. Venus stood out more in her white, gold, and pink costume.
Typical. I bet they’d have noticed me if I’d been wearing a close-fitting white, pink, and gold outfit.
Venus was a whirlwind. What she lacked in ass-shovery and testicle-rippery, she made up for with grace and seamless skill. Still, there were enough that one managed to get behind her.
I dropped what I was dealing with and draped my arm around the guy’s shoulder, grabbing onto the other side of him. I pointed into the air with my other arm even as I bent his shoulders back and kicked at the back of his knees. “Look up there, a distraction!” I let him drop to the ground. Hard.
Sure, y’all doubt the distance could have hurt, but just try falling from standing position to a street primarily on your head. Huh? Optimal Outer Control just messaged me that I shouldn’t tell y’all to do that. Something about lawsuits. Alright, alright. Nobody out there fall onto streets. Streets are not for fighting.
They’re for playing in.
Now, before too long, Venus and I put these criminal dudes and dudettes on their asses. Yes, there were some dudettes in the gang. Or maybe I punched some random women along the street.
Either way, I ducked out long before sirens showed up, but I pulled Venus aside for one moment as the heat of battle faded around us, looked into her eyes, and said, “I’m going to tear your heart out. You want a break from me murdering random people in the park, then you’ll get it until Tuesday. Only, I want your number first. Your real number. When I call, you’ll come. Then we’ll have ourselves an ending to things, you and me.”
She did, but then I realized two things. First, I failed to incentivize the meeting for her. Why would she come? I didn’t have a hostage or a weapon of mass destruction. Second, I realized she aimed to mess with my head. I noticed the second one when I turned away and she grabbed onto my wrist.
“Why not stay and dress up as a hero for Halloween?”
My jaw clenched. She knew what I wanted and she pulled this shit on me? I turned back and swung for her jaw. She ducked under it, then looked me in the eyes. Maybe she’d been joking before, but steel backed those brown eyes. “Afraid there’s a way out that doesn’t end in death?”
I realized I was on tilt. For those not familiar with poker terminology, that’s when a player loses a hand and allows the negative emotions from the loss to compromise their decision-making in future hands. I took a moment. I took a breath.
Then I realized I had an incentive.
“If you don’t show, I may have to release the video and photos from our little date last month. Dating a supervillain is scandalous, especially so soon after I killed your last boyfriend. Only about a year ago now, right? The way things are online, they’ll eat it up. There are mobs of entitled young bastards just waiting for me to give them an excuse to hate you. The internet mob will suggest you’ve only taken down so many villains by going down on so many of them. They’ll send you death threats. Rape threats. Call you a slut or a whore. They’ll threaten to shoot up that Master Academy of yours just because you’re there. They’ll pass around fake nude photos of you. They’ll get away with it, too. I’ll tell people it’s a movement about ethics in superhero journalism, or some other transparent bullshit. Hell, they’d believe me even if you recorded this conversation and let them hear it, because I’d be the one telling them what they really want to hear. Yeah, I still have empathy. You seem so happy to realize that. As if it’s a good thing that I can understand people’s feelings.”
I backed away and gave her a slight bow of my head. Normally, I’d have thrown in a smile. I resorted to this, though, because Venus clearly realized she had some leverage over me. Worse, the poor fool thought she had some way to fix me. That’s not the mindset I needed her in. “When I call, you’ll pick up the phone. Like I said, I want an ending between us. Or there’ll be a nasty new beginning to the rest of your life.”
Yeah, I hated having to tell her that. Not because I liked her or anything, but because she had the advantage this time.