You know, a tropical paradise isn’t half bad to spend some time in if you spend it inside, in the shade, with the air conditioning cranked up, and with a good internet connection. The sunlight, it burns!
The relaxation gave me time to catch up on my news, too. Like checking on the Empyreal City recovery efforts. There’s friction because the Cape Diem supers are actually putting together buildings, while Captain Lightning’s keeping an eye out for criminals. Meanwhile, local contractors keep yammering about unwelcome superheroes doing work that they should be getting paid for.
Because of course that’s what someone’s going to complain about in the middle of that shithole situation.
Oh, and the nanite situation. The military’s jumping onboard that with a contract that means big money for Long Life, and fewer armored vests for the guys on the ground. Or maybe just another deployment of a drone to take out a McDonald’s full of people rather than a team to get the one guy they need alive inside. Or, as the official report stated, “The civilians were OK and last seen enjoying a meal.”
Then there’s the superhero registration bill. In their utmost sincerity, the sponsors decided to hold it up in committee until they can get someone elected with it.
It feels nice being away from Venus and going insane again. This world makes more sense this way.
I think I figured it out. I mean, I think she really was messing with my head, and not that stupid lovey-dovey bullshit. I think that’s just what happens when you spend too much time around someone who you’re physically attracted to. The thing about Venus is that she was a challenge. Sure, most of our encounters have gone my way, but I’ve had to be careful around here. Her tactics evolve, she gets gets better tech, she can pull in other heroes to help act against me, and she’s better than me in a fair fight. She’s a challenge.
I’m beginning to notice that challenges focus my mind, sometimes to the detriment of my creative impulses. So suddenly, instead of going from Point A to Point K through India to get to Point B, I’m making straight lines instead. Or at least they feel like straight lines to me.
Now, if any of y’all remember that little revelation back with the liquid truth that asshole in California sent me, that kind of focus is a bad thing. And that’s not even counting when I’m fully, one-hundred percent committed to something. It’s the difference between before Pink Pixie killed Matatoa, and after Pixie killed Matatoa.
I figured all this out while staring at a naked full moon from the terrace of the Presidential Palace. It was the terrace that faced the local nude beach. Now that I have thought the whole thing through, I know exactly what I need to do. I need to forget about it entirely except for finding some way to kill Venus from afar. I had an idea about mutated Asian carp. I’d just need to modify the ones that are reaching the Great Lakes, and they’ll reach the open water of the Atlantic before too long. They already jump out of the water easily, so maybe something with natural blow darts?
Or, and this is just spitballing, a giant paper mache mecha.
Either way, I didn’t take a lot of time to enjoy the traditional amusements of the island, so I was unaffected by the attack on it. That’s right, an attack. I haven’t seen such a multi-pronged offensive since that time someone insulted Poseidon’s mother.
I first realized someone attacked the island when I saw the casino get struck by lightning a dozen times in less than a minute. The skies darkened overhead like an afterthought. A tornado touched down and gave the city one hell of a swirly, throwing a holding tank from the local margarita mix company into the salt mines and presumably getting the workers there quite drunk.
Off in the distance, the waters receded from the beach in anticipation of a tsunami, and the island’s prominent mountain rumbled. By the time Carl burst into my room, a wave crashed down and dumped a freighter onto the beach. Worst theme restaurant ever. The mountaintop continued to smoke, clearly not at all concerned with the effects of second hand smoke on the rest of us.
“Boss, everything’s going to hell! They’re saying it’s the end times!” He walked over to steady himself on the liquor cabinet’s contents. After a gulp of something to make him stupid and credible, he asked me, “What are we gonna do?”
I shot to my feet. “I’ve got it!”
Twenty minutes later, I marched up the beach from where I’d walked out into the water, scaring off frightened loiterers and approaching the island’s local news anchor, Catrina Calavera. She interrupted her broadcast to rush over and get a better view, only to slump when she saw the paper mache losing out to the waved. “Excuse me, you look like a visitor to the island. Why are you wearing that outfit?”
She motioned to the conceptual model I’d made of my mache mecha. It had seven heads, ten horns, and a crown on each horn. I’m pretty sure the President let too much bong smoke into palace’s air system last night, because I don’t know who designed a seven headed monster with ten horns. Maybe shoulder spikes and an odd number of horns, but not an even number. An even number is just…odd.
“Well, I just thought it was time to give me a try, I mean, why settle for a lesser evil?” I responded to Catrina’s question, throwing my hand up in the traditional devil horns gesture.
“You’re not worried about being a gigantic asshole?” she asked.
I shook my head. “No, I can’t say I am. I think everyone’s attention is really on the natural disasters striking everywhere. You could say they’re practically enraptured by it.”
Once again, it worked better in English than in Spanish. The reporter soon moved on, as did the assault on Isla Tropica. At this point, I received a summons to appear back at the Presidential Palace via the President’s personal communications channel, i.e., these loudspeakers he had up everywhere for when he did personal news broadcasts. But never his cooking show. Uh uh. You just don’t do that on anything but the TV. He’s not completely backwards dictator like you’d see in Peru or Argentina. Hell, the Peruvians once put an enemy of the state in a black and white-striped prison outfit. This isn’t amateur hour, like that Japanese Peruvian bastard.
Back at the palace, the President raged. “He did this! I know he did! Somehow, that stupid bastard attacked my island with bad weather!” He grabbed a wood chair and started beating an old medieval suit of armor with it until both were scattered in pieces on the floor.
I offered him a bottle of whiskey, part of that fine vintage we robbed from the stupid bastard on his mind. He pushed it away. “I don’t need a drink. I need to stop this weather. The cannery just exploded! Fish and pineapples…everywhere! I have turned out satellite dishes to the task, but we don’t know what to look for!” He threw his hands up in frustration.
I tossed the bottle from hand to hand. “Try weather buoys. “
The President looked at me, narrowing his eyes. “You know how he did this?”
I shrugged. “Maybe. I knew a company that used some buoys to manipulate the weather and hit Paradise City with a hurricane. They fell on hard times shortly after. It’s possible they sold some of the technology to people with more money than brains.”
The President walked over and grabbed my cheeks in his pudgy fingers. “If you’re right, I will kiss you!”
“Dude, lay off the Ecstasy.”
He laughed, let go of my cheeks, and clapped me on the shoulders, then turned to enter his office and make order up whatever he needed.
The weather didn’t abate for the entire day. Things just didn’t happen simultaneously anymore. Sometimes there’d be freak storms, sometimes there’d be freak waves, and sometimes the volcano would fart up clouds of ashes again. The President thought that may have been separate, because he and his science adviser didn’t know anyway a buoy could manipulate geological conditions to make a volcanic eruption happen. Plus, there was no evidence of earthquakes in all the troubles heaped upon Isla Tropica.
As for me, I was just happy to have the sun blotted out. More happily, I discovered the local ice cream restaurant abandoned and cracked wide open. I fully intended to go right on not giving a damn about the weather until the President called out for me on the loudspeakers again and told me, “We’ve found it! Psycho Gecko, you have to help. They’ve damaged our reactor.”
I called him for the coordinates while enjoying an inspirational soft serve cone.
A half hour later, I set out on a manmade neapolitan glacier with a sail made of the ice cream shop’s fabric awning pushed forward using the exhaust from he supercharged air conditioner unit I set one raised leg on. Behind me, a pair of generators rumbled. I suppose I could have just taken one of the low-tech fishing boats, but why?
Still wasn’t the most pleasant of rides, though. If anything, it was worse. At least I found the buoy where they said I would. I noticed a speedboat on a course to intercept it as well. They’d want their expensive toy back. Unfortunately, they got a game of chicken with me . Speedboat versus ice creamberg.
“I scream, you scream, we all scream!” I yelled as I headed right for it. Looking at them, I’m pretty sure they really did scream, but I couldn’t hear it over the engine. Finally, right at the end, they tried to turn away. Fun fact: boats don’t turn on a dime. The seas ran red…with melted strawberry ice cream. I cranked up the sound system in my vocal chords and belted out a farewell tune to the sinking men. “And IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII, will always looooove youuuuuuu!”
I don’t think they appreciated it, nor did they much enjoy my deactivation and seizure of the buoy. I almost destroyed the thing, I admit. But just before I went to tear into it, I remembered that there’s still some value in having a weather control device. Especially one that could do all that to Isla Tropica.
If I remember right, it took more of them to create a hurricane that hit Paradise City, where the grass is green and the girls are pretty. Or at least they had more of them. So even though I risked being stranded in the ocean covered in melted dairy for any sharks with rows of sweet teeth, I hauled it back. A mind is a terrible thing to waste, and destroying a free weather control buoy blows.