Ah, my wonderful Empyreal City. In the days following my capture of the premier heroines around, a wonderful change occurred. In its own way, the city accepted me back. Sure, people publicly condemned me every which way they could. However, a few people on the street expressed a bit of dark humor: according to one guy stopped on the street by a news crew, “Shit, uh, yeah, them heroes better watch who they be wantin’ to kill now. They might get him instead, know what I’m sayin’?”
A few other people on the news made similar comments, as did some letters to the editor of the newspapers.
At the end of the day, it’s not because they liked me for me. It’s just that most people are jerks. And if they have to choose between some goody two shoes breaking your arm over parking in the wrong spot, or an evil motherfucker who doesn’t care, they’ll pick me. Commit any crime in front of a Knight Templar and they’re screwed no matter what.
Plus, I hate everyone equally. No racial profiling!
That’s why I had no problem taking in the sights. Up in the sky, twenty stories high, I stood on a rooftop and peered down at the city that loved me like a battered woman. Somewhere down there was a girl I wanted to kill. But first…
I held my hand out to the side. “Oh girls…umbrella drink time.” I grinned and removed my helmet off, showing off an astounding case of helmet hair. I felt my two escorts grudgingly step forward.
“It’s your turn,” Venus told Forcelight. The taller woman continued on with my multi-colored, fruity-tasting tropical drink and pressed the glass into my fingers.
“Thank you, my dear. Oh, and I keep meaning to ask: how’s your dad doing? About gotten tired of prison food and dodging shanks, I hope.” I turned to look at her as I sipped on the drink.
Forcelight glared down at me with open contempt. And after the way I’ve treated her. Sure, she’s been my prisoner, but I’ve hardly been that mean of a captor. The two heroines ate just as well as the rest of us. I even showed off my own version of chicken under a brick for dinner, and this time I picked a clean brick. I even gave them privacy to change, and only rarely asked them to put on the harem girl outfits or the Princess Leia golden bikini.
Heck, I’d have loved to wear a golden bikini during my most recent captivity. Chicken under a brick is a hell of a lot better than drugged chunks of food. And while the nanites gave me the ability to tell where they were and stop them from acting against me, at least I didn’t take advantage of the situation by drugging them or pulling furniture away just when they were about to use it.
Ah well, I shouldn’t waste so much anger on them. After all, there are starving kids in Africa. They need to be killed too.
Maybe that’s what I’ll do after I’m done with Pixie, I thought. Take a nice vacation over to some sub-saharan region full of ethnic cleansing, drink nothing but lighter fluid for three days straight, and light my piss on fire as I swing it all over starving African children. Preferably while enjoying a greasy McDonald’s Double Quarter Pounder with cheese.
Then I can work on crashing an iceberg into Saudi Arabia…
“The Doctor’s fine. He’s staying on his best behavior to atone for what he did,” Forcelight answered me, shaking me from my reverie.
“Good to hear,” I said with a nod. “I never hear back from him when I write him.”
“You send strippers with messages written all over their bodies. If they weren’t guys, if he could read all of it, and if he could get past the glass to write on them, he still wouldn’t like you enough to write. He said you were a human black hole of compassion. You’re where hope goes to die.” She crossed her arms as she finished speaking to me.
I raised an eyebrow. “He said all that, eh? Well whenever we would play cards, he’d cheat, so there.” I stuck out my tongue, then helped myself to more of my drink. Say what you will about my inability to keep straight whether a flush is higher than three of a kind, but at least I took losing like a man. A blubbering, murderous man who threatened to gut the dealer like prostitute in Whitechapel.
“As if you’re playing fair. You’ve always got something up your sleeve,” Venus mentioned.
“Totally unfair,” I told her. “I merely create opportunities that I, as someone who acts outside the status quo, can take advantage of. There’s really less of a plan than you’d think.” I smiled at her, then took another sip.
“Like the nanites,” growled Forcelight. It’s times like that that remind me a lot of women hate me.
“Hey, y’all are doing it to. You stole my nanite design. Come to think of it, you stole my suit’s life support systems, too. Though I guess it makes sense. Crime is in your blood.” I chuckled. When Forcelight tried to hit me, I redirected it into her own face. “Why are you hittin’ yourself, huh?”
What Forcelight didn’t know about her own nanites…it’ll be my own little private joke, up until it isn’t.
“Some good will come of you being here, in spite of yourself,” Venus said. She walked up beside me with a smirk on her face. She wore a pair of cat ears with her civilian clothes, and a motorized tail flicked behind her. I smiled wide and scritched at her ear.
“Nyaaaaan!” I said, batting at her ears and erasing that smirk.Then I grabbed them and stopped, looking her in the eyes. “You know, I’m of two very different minds about so many things, such as the Long Life nanites. What do you suppose I’m like when something gets my complete attention?” I left her there and stepped to the side of the building to check.
Shortly after taking the heroines hostage and reiterating my demands on TV, I stopped by Times Square with the Whambulance and performed some creative redecorating on the side of a row of buildings. “Pink Pixie, Here,” is all it said. For, as Polonius said, I will use no art.
Venus followed, but never stepped up beside me. “She’s scared. She’s still grieving. She doesn’t know where her head is at, and you already made her sick. I know you lost someone, but so did she. Please, Gecko, call this off. Please.”
“No. I get to do what everyone wants in this situation. A loved one is murdered, so the family wants payback.” I turned and smiled at Venus, then slapped her across the face. She didn’t try to dodge it. Instead, she stood there as a red mark spread over her face from the impact. A hint of admiration escaped from within the crushing confines of my hate.
Two minds about most things; unfortunately that group still included Venus.
Down below, I noticed people turning their gaze to the air. I checked for what had captured their attention, then reached back and pulled Venus close to the edge. She whirled her left arm to maintain her balance, as if I’d let her fall.
Like I’d let her fall. I’d prefer to push her. Why didn’t I push her? I think because I was focused on the task at hand.
I pointed so Venus could follow along with the crowd and me. “Look, up in the sky!” There, dodging a flock of birds as a plane soared by high in the air, was Pixie. She still had a breathing mask, and she drifted from side to side as she flew. She didn’t fly a straight line. I noticed a little extra bulk on her backside, and I don’t mean her ass. She carried an oxygen tank.
I tossed my drink over the side of the building and settled my helmet onto my head. Then I walked back to grab my saxophone.
Forcelight didn’t say anything, but Venus spoke to me quietly. “Please, be the bigger man this time.”
I cocked my head to the side. “Ya know, Venus, it occurs to me that I’m going to be pretty focused on our disgraced heroine there. I wouldn’t be able to pay as much attention to you and Forcelight even if I wanted to. Especially not with all these innocent bystanders running around. There might be time yet today for heroes.”
Then came the important part. Setting the mood. I nabbed every passing unsecured cell phone in the area and made them join in playing a little something to put me in the mood. “Home,” by Dream Theater, skipped ahead two minutes and twenty-seven seconds. I rocked my head along to the music
“Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiine, make a fire!” I sang along. I held out the sax by the buttons so that the bell curved roughly in my direction and pressed on the rocket key. Flames roared out of the bell and I rocketed off the building to meet the Pink Pixie in the air. “Liiiiiiiiiiiiiines, take me higher!”
I headed right for her, already feeling Venus rush over to Forcelight and then depart the roof for the streets below. Meanwhile, Pixie halted in midair and put up her dukes. I timed it so that I hit the smoke bomb key just as we met. Smoke obscured the saxophone momentarily and I directed the bell upward. By the time the cloud dissipated enough to show clearly I wasn’t there, the bell clanged into Pixie’s head from above. Then I set my feet down on Pixie’s shoulders.
She grabbed for me and I jumped, landing on her head and trying to balance. The rocket helped. “Psycho Gecko steps up to tee. Will he be able to make the green?” I swung the rocket around and jumped, bonking Pixie hard from behind. The momentum carried her forward. Damage was unlikely, given her abilities.
Unfortunately, I no longer had a leg, or Pixie’s head, to stand on. I latched onto the oxygen tank with my free hand instead. It bought me a couple seconds as she whirled around to try and grab me. I sank lower, but not from losing my grip. The tank slipped off, pulling Pixie’s breathing mask free with it.
I had an idea about the oxygen tank from the moment I saw it, and that seemed the best moment to put it into action. I gripped it in my thighs and activated my Nasty Surprise. I cut off the end of the valve, then withdrew the small chainsaw. It spewed oxygen as I aimed it up at the pink and black-clad heroine who dove down at me now.
“Flame on!” I yelled, then brought my saxophone around and hit the rocket key again. The flames caught the oxygen on fire. It pretty much blew apart in such a way as blast up toward Pixie. The fireball-propelled hunk of metal bounced off her face, but stunned her momentarily.
I didn’t get the best look. I flew off and angled around to get above Pixie. She had trouble finding me; score one for my three-sixty heads-up display. Sax held in my right hand, I diverted a charge to my left. I flew high as the charge built. Then I let off the key and swept the sax down to rocket again toward Pixie.
Marvin the Martian would have been proud. While not as loud as an earth-shattering kaboom, the power concentrated in the energy sheathe around my fist focused outward. It hammered the Pink Pixie with far more force than the blow would have normally had, exciting molecules and burning a hole in her costume as I smashed her toward the street below.
No cars were harmed. Venus and Forcelight cleared the street sometime during my aerial struggle. Funny how that worked out.
Pixie bounced off the street and gasped for breathe. I cut the sax rocket on approach and landed on her windpipe with my knee. Any ordinary person’s throat would have been crushed. Quite a few extraordinary people, too. Pixie wheezed, but survived.
She grabbed me by the torso. I felt her fingers bend the armor plates and dig into my body as she squeezed. I tried the disorientation note from the sax, but it made no difference. All she needed to do was pull away with her hands and she’d have taken flesh off me. I bashed at her face, again and again, until I’d reduced the instrument to twisted bronze.
When she pinched, it wasn’t just a little skin and a little pain. She squeezed organs. I always meant this to get brutal, but I hoped to avoid feeling it. Sadly, feeling it is precisely what I did. In the famous last words of Rasputin, “Ouch, that kinda hurts.”
I tried wrapping my legs around her chest just under her arms in case she decided to try throwing me away. That would be bad, because littering is a crime and she’s supposed to be a role model.
I jammed the mangled saxophone into Pixie’s mouth. It stopped there, but I put as much of my weight as possible on it. I felt Forcelight and Venus on the edge of the battle then. I left the nanites one command on repeat: stop.
I felt the sax slide in far enough to be down Pink Pixie’s throat. Unfortunately, her breathing whistled out through the mouthpiece. I hadn’t thought of that. But, as my own personal history shows, any problem can be solved through the insertion of a fist. Unfortunately, this was no time to apply it rectally. Only oral would save me now; a sentence most guys would love to use in the presence of a woman. I crammed my left fist into her mouth. It didn’t fit well with all the rough metal and superstrong muscles, but I made enough headway into the back of her mouth to cut off the air supply. Laughing at an idea that flitted across my brain, I began charging the energy sheath again. Her mouth began to glow as the energy accumulated in the sheath inside her head.
It wasn’t so funny that I split my sides. Pixie did that for me.With a wet ripping sound, Pixie tore handfuls of armor and gore away. Then she grabbed at my left arm with both hands. She pulled, but I got a handhold on the back of her tongue. Caught between the single strongest muscle in her superpowered body and the combined strength of her arms, I knew my weak flesh stood the best chance of failing first.
And it would have, if the Pink Pixie’s hadn’t exploded in a moist and brainy mess. I looked down at her for a moment, feeling I needed to be sure of her death. Then my eye kindly reminded my brain that checking for a pulse is unnecessary when the head has been removed. Loudly, for as many to hear as possible, I said, “One’s own mortality is a difficult subject to swallow.”
Then I jumped to my feet and pumped my arms in the air, cheering. I quickly doubled over, holding my arms over the holes in my sides. The nanites from the broken edges of the quilted layer spread over the wounds, working to close them up, but the act itself reminded me of the incredible pain in my left arm. I went to take a look at it and discovered it missing about halfway down the forearm.
This time when I jumped, it involved a lot more cussing and holding my arm.
So that’s how the Pink Pixie died. I didn’t stick around for any parades or celebrations. I rescinded my order and left Forcelight and Venus to their own devices while I got the hell out of there. I had a lot of patching up to do. I wish I felt like mourning more. I also sent off a message to the minor supers who first contacted me about the entire job.
They sure got their money’s worth, that’s for sure. It could have been messy if I added on some of my costs to their bill. I suppose I got off easy as well, considering the forces arrayed against me.
It only cost me an arm, not the leg too.