The first step toward assaulting a target is knowing where to find the target. This step can be skipped if using a weapon with a wide enough range of destruction.
I’m not that sort of weapon, so I had to hunt down the knockoffs who attacked my wholesome little gathering. So that’s what I did. I patrolled the city, tapping into local camera feeds to spot wannabe-ninjas running around.
And, for reasons relating only to her own irrational paranoia, Venus kept checking in on me. “Earth to Gecko. Have you found anything? Don’t engage if you do.”
“Yeah, yeah. Dvum smertyam ne byvat, odnoy ne minovat.” I rolled my eye and powered into a long jump as if I could escape the radio transmission that way. Unfortunately, I landed atop an office supply company that proved a bit shorter than I first guesstimated. Instead of making a crack about Venus and broken records, I made a different sort of crack. Well, more of a snap than a crack. I suppose it depends on which word better describes the sound of a bone breaking.
Anyway, you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few legs.
“What was that?” I heard Venus ask in my ear while I collapsed. I slipped into visibility again since few people would be watching that roof. Patrolling went a lot smoother without people pointing and crying in terror.
I quickly fumbled for a nanite syringe to stick myself with. “A Russian proverb.”
“It sounded like you got hurt. And then whatever language you cussed in, it wasn’t Russian.” She almost sounded concerned.
“Don’t keep pretending you care, Venus.” I stuck myself and let the little guys go to work while I laid there and checked for any unsecured cameras to do my bidding.
“What if I do care?” she asked.
“P’nɐⱱ̟ʝ.” I said, letting more of my native tongue slip.
“What did you just call me?” Venus asked, showing more of that annoying ability to sometimes match wits with me. “That wasn’t Russian that time.”
“Just a bit of the old tongue. Nice to know I can still talk to myself privately.” I closed my eye to take in the images lining up in my head of various cameras, trying to make sense of the order and locations once again.
“I’m sure you’re used to doing a lot to yourself privately,” Venus replied. Oooh. Not bad, even if she dropped her nice act to land it on me. “Even when you’re talking in a language from your world, you still sound Southern.”
“Lots of dimensions have a south,” I said, then focused on a pair of people clad in dark clothing from head to toe in sight of one of the cameras. “And here’s our pitiful play-ninjas now.”
“Where are you?”
“Pipe Place. Looks like they’re headed toward Crepe Circle. Time to follow these chicks back to the nest.” I stretched my leg. Good as new. Then I went into stealth mode again. The holographic system in my armor smoothly projected everything around me in such a way that anyone looking would seemingly see right through me.
More carefully, so as to not waste more time getting my bones knitted together by tiny machines, I walked alongside them on the rooftops. “I should kill them, though. They and everyone like them disgraces the very concept of a ninja.”
“Are you a ninja fanboy?” Venus asked.
“I feel a kinship for the tradition. Pyrotechnics, infiltration, disguises, tactics, espionage, concealment, meterology; it took a hell of a lot of training to be a shinobi. You can’t just throw on a kabuki theaterhand disguise or a bright orange jumpsuit and expect to be a Japanese assassin-spy. Funny, the earliest people to do all that stuff were called ‘non-humans.'”
After a pregnant pause, Venus birthed a question I knew she wanted to address. “It’s just us on the line. Do you want to talk about why you want to-”
“Uh uh uh, would you look at the ass on that guy. No wonder he’s in those clingy workout pants. Normally you only see that on women, but with an ass like that. Hey Carl!” I called Carl, too. “You should see the ass on this guy.”
“I don’t swing that way, boss,” Carl said. “Thanks for the body armor, by the way. What’d you get Moai?”
“Well, I wanted to get him some plastic surgery, so I was thinking of some grinders and sanders, but then he reminded me about that music player I used to have strapped to his back, so I got him something smaller and louder that can fit into one of his many disguises, or even under the pukao I got him last year.” I hopped from rooftop to rooftop, watching the fake ninjas stalk their prey.
Venus butted into the conversation then. “A music player? That’s all?”
“Music is…” I trailed off as the wannabes finally grabbed this woman’s purse and tried to make off with it. She twisted out of the grip of one of them. The other couldn’t get the purse from her. Then, a bystander pulled out a concealed handgun and fired, hitting the woman and allowing the two thiefs to make off with the purse.
While the shooter stood there, confused at the thought that firing at people might hit one of them, I pursued the ninjas. A crew as clueless as this, they would head straight to their hideout.
When I saw them hailing a taxi, that’s when I collapsed in laughter. I called up Venus again, “I’m not even sure we have to hunt these guys down. They’re just as likely to blow themselves up without our interference.”
“That’s not good either. You know I don’t kill people.”
I activated the lo-jack on the taxi. Y’all have heard of hijacking, I presume? That’s when someone takes control of a vehicle. There’s also lo-jack, a device put into some cars that can be remotely activated to track the stolen vehicle. Cops love them. They use them to track a car all the way to the chop shop. Then there’s a lot few car thefts since the thieves can’t sell the car as reliably.
“Nobody’s perfect. Like me. I got that whole ‘addicted to killing’ thing. And then you don’t want me killing. Do you know how many puppies I have to strangle to get the same thrill from killing a human?”
“Gecko!” She cried out.
“So many dead puppies. Chihuahua puppies…poodle puppies…labrador puppies. They make really good bobbleheads, if you’re into that sort of thing. Maybe I should make some slippers out of them. Instead of crocks, I could market them as pups. Market them to kids. ‘Hey there boys and girls, want a pup for Christmas?'”
“I know you’re just doing this to shock me, but cut it out! Stop killing puppies, too. Did you find their hideout?”
“One moment. They stopped, so let me confirm. I don’t see why you’re so against killing puppies, anyway, but alright. I’ll stop.” I leapt closer over the rooftops, then dropped on my ass as one of them turned out to be slick with ice. I skidded, but the hard brick lip of the roof broke my fall and one of my fingers. My tailbone didn’t feel too good either. Figures. Fucking vestigial organs.
Humanity should have stopped monkeying around with tailbones long ago, if you ask me. But no, my world refused to mettle in genetic affairs like that after the Gerbil Uprising. To be fair, the gerbil king was reportedly quite reasonable until they gave him access to the infonet. You’d think they would have realized how dangerous it was to show a gerbil what people sometimes did with them.
Of course, all that predated me on my world, so I guess that’s hindsight for y’all.
After healing up yet again and pulling the local unsecured camera feeds, I confirmed a ninja sighting on an old plant that had long since gone out of business. It could have been a place just to pass through if my prey were clever. But they weren’t . As an added bonus, the spot just screamed “gimmicky supervillain lives here!”.
Not literally, you understand, because that’s a level of stupidity that would warp the fabric of reality. But it’s hard to imagine that they picked an egg-packaging factory for no particular reason.
“You got any chicken-related enemies or anything?” I asked Venus.
“Hey, don’t you insult my bravery. I’ll have you know I suffered a broken asshole out here tracking them to the site of the old ‘Eggers Can’t Be Choosers’ factory. If you’re ready, I think we can go ahead and get crackin’.”
I cut off the signal before she could object.
I dropped to the ground and ran into a shipping dock door they’d left open. Without snow to give me away, I stayed in stealth mode. The equipment looked rusty in places, but I noticed plenty of marks in the dust. There weren’t any spiderwebs, either. Following the old sign, I soon found my way to the main egg packing room, with its loop-de-loop of conveyer belts all over the place.
I saw the ninjas joining a group of their friends below a dais. On it sat a very round man in a very round chair. The guy was fat. His shoulders slumped. His legs curved inward the lower they got. He didn’t have any hair on his head, even. I saw that through the gold crown he wore.
As fashion goes, crowns are hit and miss. I didn’t do well with throne, so I doubt I’d wear a crown very well. As ridiculous as this guy looked, though, he pulled it off. Even the inlaid peals shaped into ovals worked with the theme this guy went for.
“You did WHAT?!” He didn’t sound happy with the vile purse snatchers in his employ. “I hired you for an assassination, not petty theft!”
“I-it was j-j-just to pay the b-bills, sir,” stammered one minion. Or maybe he had a stutter. That’s why it’s important to evaluate your minion’ strengths and weaknesses. Never have the guy with the stutter stand up to list your demands, and never grab the skinny guy with no meat on his bones to use as your human shield. Ideally, you should even use a guy in a wheelchair for your errands so the heroes look like a dick in public when they try to shake them down. Which reminds me, I should figure out someway to hire a baby to run errands for me.
I know, that joke was so dark, a cop just shot it in self defense as it ran away.
“You will address me as ‘Your Eggcellency!'”
“EGGcellency! With a G, you cretin. Why bother? You’ve been nothing but a failure for me, and I have no need of you now. I didn’t keep all my eggs in one basket. Behold the doom of Empyreal City!” His Eggcellency swept his arms open wide, eyes bulging. This guy had plenty of ham and eggs for sure.
The dim area behind him lit up, revealing hundreds of…I don’t even know for sure. They looked like chickens or turkeys or something, but they had curved fangs in their beaks. Beaks which connected to scales, not to feathers. The feathers ran down the spines and along the legs and wins. The legs and talons were scaled, too. The tail was a little long for a chicken but still feathered.
“Chickensaurs, attack!” His Eggcellency pointed at the group of cheap ninjas. With a mass of roaring squawks, a nearby mass of feathery predatory yard birds descended on the poor minions.
It got a bit ugly after that. It was an eggxecution that fed more than His Eggcellency’s eggo.
That took care of the ninjas, though. And even if that hadn’t, the giant chicken would have too. This giant fucking chicken, with legs as tall as me, came plodding out and stared down at the feasting chickensaurs and dead or dying men. Some of the chickensaurs noticed and hopped out of the way. They couldn’t really fly, got away with little jumps and flaps.
The giant chicken then drew in a deep breath and unleashed a beakful of fire on the remaining chickensaurs and knockoffs, frying all of them equally. Then it started pecking at the charred remains of its brethren and their meal.
I left them to their dinner, showing far more courtesy than they extended to me. Outside, I called up Venus again. “Yeah, this guy’s some sort of royalty-themed guy with an egg gimmick and lots of weird critters he made by messing with chickens. And possibly dinosaurs. Good news is, the ninjas aren’t a problem anymore. So that’s handled. But I wouldn’t want to be the guy going into that mess without any powers. Well, good luck.”
Venus wasn’t impressed. “I thought you were going to help.”
“With the ninjas, not that you’ve really been wanting my help. Besides, I don’t like you.” I wanted her dead, actually. While I preferred killing her myself, I could stand giving the credit to the egg man in there. Which gave me an idea… “Though you could always hire me if you can’t handle this place on your own.”
Yeah. It wouldn’t be too hard to make a mistake while teaming with Venus. She took the bait. “What’s your rates? It better not be another date. You wouldn’t want to cheat on Tricia, would you?”
I chuckled. My fake wife/embedded reporter liked me a lot more after I violated that guy who attacked us at the dinner. “It just so happens I’ve got a sale going on. A little something I call ‘Fitty for a Fight.’ Got fifty bucks?”
“I think I can swing that.”
I walked along toward the street and started my car remotely. All the bones I’d been breaking, I preferred driving back. Because I hadn’t counted all His Eggcellency’s chickens, but I know I need to hatch a scheme to handle this situation.