Fee, fi, fo, fum, I smell a serious lack of rum. And food. And toilet paper. Days after slaying Mr. Gold, we were still stranded here. It didn’t really matter that I kidnapped Penny, either, except I had to take care of her. This is why some people shouldn’t have pets. I should never be responsible for another living being. Hell, I neglect Moai a lot of the time and he’s not even technically alive. Usually, I give whatever poor sap who lives with me a chance to forage for themselves. And yes, I’ve cooked for them on occasion. But on occasion isn’t the same as every day straight.
Plus, have y’all ever tried to feed anybody tied up in ropes? It’s horrible, especially if they’re a biter. Then you have to do something to their mouth and blend the food to a liquid. I don’t care how much you love cheeseburgers, nobody wants to eat a liquid burger.
I didn’t cover up Penny’s mouth. I should have, I suppose, but once she got the initial outrage out of her system, she hurl as much invective at me and the guys. That doesn’t mean she didn’t give us some lip. After noting that the place was running low on fresh water, food, and toilet paper, she spoke up to say “This wouldn’t have happened if you didn’t kill a man for no reason.”
I shoved a Burrito Bell mini-Amigo Burrito into her open mouth to shut her up. “I killed him for a perfectly good reason. I wanted to. Works for me. After all, I can’t be too evil if everyone I kill was asking for it.” Actually, I can. I’m just a cynical enough asshole to know everyone is asking for it. There’s a reason I know all the words to “Epiphany” from Sweeney Todd.
But seriously, it would be stupid if I had an excuse for every body I killed. Did Genghis Khan have a good excuse when he nailed Muslim envoys’ turbans to their heads? Did Ahab have a good excuse for hunting that damn white whale to the ends of the Earth? Does your cat have a good excuse for plotting to murder you in your sleep next Tuesday? Stop! Don’t turn around. It mustn’t suspect you know.
But, yeah, this place relied heavily on regular shipments of supplies from the mainland. Something about the giant freezers being torn apart as an unnecessary relic to collectivism and statism or something, to read Gold’s notes on it. Good thing he’s on ice now. As for me, I just wanted to leave, but then the announcement went out. I’m not sure why they waited so long, but the shortage seems reasonable for why that day, of any of them, the old speakers crackled to life.
“Citizens of Libersea.” Ok, so it addressed more than just me. “And our guest, Psycho Gecko.” See? I got my own part of the announcement. Yay! “You’re all going to die on this station.” Not so yay. “Apart from a select few of you, that is.” Yay? “For I need test subjects.” No fucking yay.
My commentary aside, there wasn’t much to the message. “I control the weather keeping you all here on this old sea fortress. I invite any who seeks escape to take the elevator down and try me.”
Interesting. A trap that the prey chooses to walk into. Given the choice between certain death and uncertain death, people often choose the uncertain death. Of course, that’s a matter of perspective. As someone who frequently uses that very tactic, I know that it’s usually just a choice between two different kinds of certain death. The difference is that one version allows a mastermind such as myself to control an enemy through hope.
So after the speakers ceased their crackling, I just plopped on my bed there in the suite and resolved to not bother right then. Maybe I could find a way around it?
“Of course you aren’t going to do something. That would be helping, wouldn’t it?” Penny asked. Carl glanced at her and shook his head, then returned to cleaning his minipistol. Moai didn’t even look up from his whittling.
“He wants people to go down there. He has a trap set up down there. It won’t help if I go down there and get killed.” I snuggled against the mattress and began spooning with a pillow.
“It’s the only choice besides starving,” she said wistfully, lowering her face to stare at the floor or perhaps her tied-up body.
“Don’t be silly. We’ll all die of dehydration before we have time to starve,” I said to comfort her. She started sobbing. “If you want to help, maybe tell me who that was. Gold’s dead, right? That was him up there. So who is downstairs?” I sat up. Hooking my foot around the leg of Penny’s chair, I pulled her closer.
“A scientist. I never found his name. His deal was with my boss. I made out the checks to a corporate account, some generic name. I’ve heard so many they blend together. It was Globodyne or Penetrode or Initech. He only passed through the upper floors for as long as it took him to move his stuff to the elevator. I never saw him up here after that.
This just kept getting interestinger and interestinger. “He upgraded the weather beacons.”
“I think,” Penny said, nodding along.
“Carl,” I said, motioning to the rope. Carl stood up and pulled a knife out of a sheath behind his back. That got Penny panicking. She kicked and screamed up until she felt the ropes loosen up and fall away from around her. I leaned back on the pillow I’d previously been spooning with. “Huh. After seeing this place, I figured your boss’s science team was as overblown as the rest of his little vision here. Before I came here, I actually wanted to meet the person responsible for all the real damage to Isla Tropica. Looks like the feeling’s mutual. Did he look unusual at all? You know, like glowing eyes or extra limbs?”
Penny missed the question at first. Too caught up in massaging where the ropes pressed against her the tightest. When I repeated myself, she answered back. “He looked skinny.”
That’s a no. Unless he had the power of being skinny. It’s a real power. They just have to turn sideways to avoid bullets. On the bad side, they’re pretty much screwed if even one hits them. Or if pretty much anything his them. Or if it gets cold. Speaking of skinniness, it gave me an idea.
“How does he get food down there?” I asked.
Penny’s face shot up as she rubbed at her wrists. “My boss has some of it sent down to him.”
I pulled her out of the chair by her blouse and held her in front of my face. “I need to know this…are there any cameras at all on the main level the guy down there could be watching us through?”
She shook her head. Yay. I threw on my armor and got out into the hall to do some classic taunting.
After a little bit of rooting around in one of the electrical boxes and hunting down the newer wiring that led to the speakers, I decided to send a message of my own with the aid of a handy microphone that some guy wanted to charge me too much for. He found my counteroffer a foot up his asshole. “Dear ladies and gentlemen of Libersea, as well as our basement-dwelling guest who wishes us dead or in test tubes. I have no intention of putting on a test tube top. I don’t have the stomach for it. Belly’s just not concave enough. While this situation may be enough to convex even the sharpest of minds, I have realized something very important. You aren’t going anywhere either. Seaplane, boat, helicopter; the way in is up here. So the people up here are looking at a food shortage…and so are you. So what we’ve got here is one man besieged without an exit by a horde of hungry folks who need to be rid of you to be safe. Isn’t that right?”
The gathering crowd gave a halfhearted cheer. I popped out the Nasty Surprise and turned my head to glance back at them. “I said, is that right?” They got behind me in a hurry that time.
I cleared my throat before going on, picking up a rhythm in my speaking. “Heya guy, it’s Psycho, from the suite up the shaft. Good to see ya buddy, how ya been? Things have been ok for me except that I’m a zombie now. I really wish you’d let us in. I think I speak for all of us- come on everybody, join in – when I say I understand why you folks may hesitate to submit to our demand.” Figuring people just didn’t know the lyrics, I threw the lyrics up in the air via hologram.
“But here’s an FYI, you’re gonna die screaming all we wanna do is eat your brains! We’re not unreasonable, I mean no one’s gonna eat your eyes.” Finally, people started joining in. “All we wanna do is eat your brains. We’re at an impasse here, maybe we should compromise. If you open the door, we’ll all come inside and eat your braaaaaaaaain!”
I walked over to the elevator Carl told me about. Not the same one I went up in, but the one that had stayed locked down. “I don’t want to nitpick, Tom, but is this really your plan? Spend you whole life locked inside a mall? Maybe that’s ok for now, but someday you’ll be out of food and guns, then you’ll have to make the call.”
The rest of my conscripted zombie hoard kept on singing up awhile. I think things started to get awkward, but then the elevator started moving.
It’s also possible that I reminded him that, if people start dropping, I had far more bodies to chew on when the food ran out. But what do I know? I’m just the crazy guy, not a master of psychological warfare or anything.
I expected a confrontation with the man behind the man really behind the attacks on Isla Tropica. Instead, he sent his zombies. His robots, really. I saw the cage rise with a bunch of men and women with shaved, scarred heads. They stood perfectly still as they stared blankly ahead, and I mean perfectly. Most twitch a little or engage in small gestures that they don’t even think about. Nope. These were all still.
They were the robot people. The cyber…dudes, maybe? I’m bad at thinking up names. Needless to say, most of the people backing me up didn’t want any part. When the doors opened, most them ran away from the oncoming mob. At least a few of the guys with guns pointed them in the right direction, though their accuracy was shit. That’s what happens when you take the lowest offer on protection.
I ran into the crowd of robot zombie people, though. I took a head off with the Nasty Surprise, spun, grabbed one in a headlock, and used him to brace myself for a flip that wrenched his head off. I used that head to stave in another head, then jumped. I landed on a pair of the robot people, wrapping my calves around one neck and my forearms around another. Then I flipped them both forward, driving their heads into the hard floor. Getting back to my feet was as simple as a pushup with the muscle enhancers.
Through all of this, I noticed the elevator head down again. Reinforcements? If I could get to it in time to hitch a ride, I could take this guy unawares. He’d likely have his traps or defenses offline to account for sending his robots out.
When the elevator arrived again after a short minute, that proved easier said than done. These weren’t just people with some internal robot parts. These things were cyborgs. Some of the men were all big and ripped, like body builders. Metal broke the skin on their arms, chests, and faces. Some of the others were smaller, with blades instead of hands. I saw a couple had gun barrels sticking out of their mouths and laser sights in place of eyes.
I jumped into the air about twenty feet, or however high the second story ceiling was, and jammed the Nasty Surprise into metal to hold on for a moment. My second jump rocketed me toward the elevator. Dun dun dun dun dun, dun da-dun!
I took the head off one of the mouth gunners as I skidded to a kneeling halt in the elevator. A laser beam shot out of its mouth, taking the head off another of its compatriots. I sliced through another couple of them before the beam stopped and the laser targeting eyes stopped. Stomping it on the floor of the elevator put an end to any chance of resurrection.
The elevator opened after a hasty ride to reveal some treaded robot with two arms carrying a three-foot device toward the elevator. It had a rectangular cuboid head with one giant eye camera in the middle of it. When it saw me, protective shutters around the eye drew back, making it look wider. I rushed forward and took its head off with the Surprise, causing it to drop the gadget with a thud.
The thud prompted movement. Something jumped at the sound. The something turned out to be a thin man in a lab coat. He turned from a computer station to see that he couldn’t see me. I was invisible. The guy saw the beheaded robot and ran for a curtain to the side of the computer station. I ran for it too, once I saw the direction he was headed. I didn’t make it before a purple light blasted the room in a wide angle and a suit of power armor shot into the air.
It was one hell of a suit. Very close light blue and purple plates finished shifting closed over the front of the body. It was all very tight, very much customized to one particular body. The faceplate looked like a purple metal face staring down at me with all the emotion of the robots upstairs, though the eyes were replaced with lenses that themselves resembled eyes. When he spoke, his voice reverberated with a bit of an edge from the speakers boosting the sound. Like a very close echo.
“Psycho Gecko. We meet at last.” He raised one wrist and tapped at buttons or something, not looking around.
“No, we meet at first!” I said, moving well away from where I spoke before throwing myself into the air for to grab hold of him. At the last moment, he turned his face and pointed his fist right at me. A purple beam shot out from a forearm panel and knocked me back. Knocked me back. That’s significant. Plasma, lasers, masers, and spasers wouldn’t have managed that. No significant mass to them.
I fell back onto a railing and then the floor under it, but at least it gave me a view of the jet pack on this guy’s back. Good. He wouldn’t stay up indefinitely. Those things tend to have fuel problems. His armor also looked like it couldn’t carry too much in the way of power…well, except this was probably the guy with the hockey puck nuclear generators.
“I hoped you would listen to me, but I prepared for your usual response,” the man in the armor said. “I should mention I know exactly where you are.” He turned and looked right at me to emphasize the point. I decloaked.
“Ok, so you know a bit more about me than I do about you. But it’s a little hard to expect me to listen when you made a big announcement about putting me in a tube top. Nobody puts baby in a tube top.” I pointed at him, then raised the finger and shook it from side to side as I stood up.
He tilted his head to the side. “Yes, but I didn’t mean that for you. You and I have so much to talk about. So much to collaborate on. That’s why I lured you here.”
I strolled around this little lab casually, making sure not to turn and stare as my 360 display pointed out the weather control interface, the robot brain drives, and the tactical nuclear weapon. That one turned out to be the thing the robot dropped. Ok, that one I stopped to look at. “Yeah, sure. Talk. That’s what you wanted to do with that thing.”
He scoffed. “You could survive it somehow. I’ve watched you. I have every ounce of data possible to dig up on you.”
That’s not strange at all. I put my hands on my hips and looked up at him, wondering when that damn pack would run out of fuel. Or if it ran on fuel. “What did I do to have you comb through my garbage for used underwear? I kill someone you loved? Someone you hated?”
He shook his head, waving hands emphasizing the misunderstanding. “No, no, no, no, no! You are beautiful. You are important to my research. You are the evolution of humanity. I seek what you have…evolution to a higher level of being through integration with advanced technology.”
“Some would argue that I’m not exactly an exemplary model despite being what you think of as more highly evolved.” I stepped a bit closer to the weather machine.
Before I could touch it, the man fired another burst of purple light in my direction. I dodged back. This time, the glow remained as a rounded forcefield formed between myself and the machine. So that’s what he’s doing…an actual forcefield.
“Stop! This is important. Just listen. I understand you. You are right to spit on humanity. Pteh!” He mimicked said spitting, then reached up to rub a hand over the metal mouth on the head of his armor. “Oh dear. I didn’t think that through.” Ha! Too bad it wasn’t a loogie. “Humans are horrible to one another. War, disease, struggles for resources. But I can change it. I must change it, because I can. Evolution guided solely by the environment has reached the end of its usefulness for civilization. It is time mankind took his destiny into his own hands.”
He raised a hand to the air. “I can shape the evolution of mankind. I have the ability to upgrade humanity. For that, I need you and your amazing physiology.” The hand fell so that he held it out toward me.
I shook my head and stepped forward. “Nope. That’s horrible! I know we’re making Star Whores: The Milf Awakens here, but you need to stop acting like a fucking Hamlet reject! Even porn audiences have their limit.” I threw down a holographic script. “Somebody get me Casting, I’m gonna have to ream somebody for this. What do you even call yourself, kid?”
He stared at me. “I’m thirty years old, not some delusional kid who thinks he has all the answers. I am the Technolutionary. I have a dream and we can make this place better. More like your home. More advanced. You must feel like Nikola Tesla surrounded by cavemen! I want to tear down this backwards culture, to build something better from the ashes. Something that will bring the world together and make people right.”
Poor bastard. He’s spent so long wrapped up in his theories that he’s gone cuckoo. Utterly detached from normal reasoning. And if those robots were anything to go by, his priorities are solely about getting what he wants rather than conventional ideas of morality and immorality.
I liked this guy. His idea was stupid, but I liked him. “The people on this planet can’t even handle skin colors after a few thousand years, but you want to give them all a bunch of cybernetics? Assholes can’t drive right and you want to strap them into jet packs like you got there?” I pointed at his torso. “Don’t get me wrong, your vision isn’t completely bad. It’ll kill a lot of people, I guarantee you. Or are those folks you sent upstairs just a little more reserved about how much better they feel?”
“What a jumbled response. Those people are experiments. Prototypes. Cybernetic integration is difficult on normal humans. That’s why I wanted you here.”
“That’s right!” I said, wandering around to nonchalantly reach the edge of the forcefield between me and the weather machine. “You mentioned that already. You brought me here? You convinced Gold to fly me in?” I clenched my fists, powering up the energy sheaths.
“I knew you were on Isla Tropica. I hacked the CIA. They don’t want to pursue you into other countries because then you are not their problem. When you didn’t attack Libersea on your own, I gave Gold the idea to hire you.”
I gotta be honest, I really have no desire to save the world. And even though it may just cause another world war instead, I also have no desire to somehow make a bunch more people with my abilities. I like being unique. I’m like a homicidal snowflake.
Plus, even though I already knew everything revolved around me, this guy was, like, watching me jack it and stuff. And he wasn’t even paying by credit card for the privilege. Fuck it, I’ll just go through the forcefield.
I punched the field. The energy surrounding my fist counteracted the field and dispersed it, opening the way to the weather device. Except another force blast hit in front of me and generated another one. I repowered the sheath and jumped onto a nearby databank. The Technolutionary adjusted his aim and fired again.
For the first time in years, I got to use the sheaths for something like their original purpose. The Justice Rangers didn’t use force blasts or forcefields, though. This time, I brought my fists together and deflected the blast right back at the Technolutionary. It rocked him back in the air and formed a sphere that trapped him. I cartwheeled to the side, landed on the weather controller, and plunged my hand into it. Metal crumpled like Kleenex in the hands of an excited teenage boy as I reached in and wrecked the system.
My display showed the Technolutionary at work with his forearm panel and blaster, reversing some polarity or whatever freaky science he used. While he busied himself with that, I stepped on over to the nuclear bomb. Unsealing a gauntlet freed a hand for me to reach down and use my powers on a panel to arm it.
The Technolutionary almost caught me unawares while I fixated on the bomb. I grabbed my gauntlet and jumped back in time to avoid getting caught in another spherical field that held the bomb. Laughing at him, I waved with my naked hand, then slipped the gauntlet for that hand under my arm. “What are the odds you’re going to be able to contain that, eh?”
He said something as he fired. I didn’t catch it. I threw a punch at the blast, catching it off center and deflecting it off to the side, where it struck a computer station. The lights flickered.
“No, no, no, no, NO!” he said, gliding over to the computer. He kept one eye and the blaster on me as he sifted through the damage. I took the opportunity to try and run for it…except the elevator was up. Did I do that when I hit the computer, or was that something he did in the middle of all this?
Neither. When I saw the elevator lowered into view, it held Moai, Penny, and Carl. Penny stood at the wall where the controls used to be before they got blown open, tablet in hand as she manipulated something inside. As soon as the gates opened, Carl pulled the cap off his flask and swung it. The fluid inside created a thick smoke as it interacted with the air. I dove into the elevator behind the cover. “Up, up, up!”
The Technolutionary shot out of the smoke and upward at us to skim between the elevator and the wall. Tapping something on his arm panel, he stopped it and overrode the gate to open it up. The asshole aimed at me with his blaster. “You will come with me!”
It threw off his aim a bit when a large dildo slapped against the faceplate of his armor and blinded him. It gave me time to duck under and knock him back against the wall with my armored fist. I caught the dildo with the other hand and beat him in the head with it as well. He bounced off the wall once, twice, three times. I grinned as I heard his pack sputter and fail. He caught himself on the bottom edge of the platform with the panel arm, dangling. I stomped on the panel, causing the elevator to shoot down by a few feet, then up by a few feet. Sparks marked the death of that troublesome gizmo.
He swung his other arm up to fire at me, but I slapped it away with the dildo. “Can we get this thing moving soon, people?”
“On it!” said Carl and Penny simultaneously, working on wiring.
“Please,” Technolutionary pleaded, opening up the faceplate. I hit him upside his face with the dildo again. “Aaahmmm?!” he cried out in pain, then confusion as I shoved the dildo into his mouth, forcing it down. I twisted the base, adding the menacing hum of a vibrator to the threat. Unable to hold on, he let himself drop. Serendipitously, the elevator resumed rising.
I sat down on the ground and looked around for my dropped gauntlet. I’d lost it in all the confusion and wanted to get it back on. Carl tapped me on the shoulder as I got dressed again. “Boss, uhhhh, was that a bomb down there?”
“Yes it was, Carl,” I answered as if it was the most natural thing in the world.
“Is it a big bomb?”
“Nuclear, Carl. Tactical nuke, but still nuclear.”
“Oh shit,” Penny said softly.
I checked by HUD clock again. Ten minutes. I didn’t give it much of a timer, but it was better than the two minutes Technolutionary wanted to give me. “I’d prefer us to get off this thing as soon as possible. We’ll get a chance to see if there’s enough in that blast’s way to keep us safe.”
“It’s worse than that,” Penny broke in, “That was the support and power understructure. I don’t know how we would survive, but if we did, this place would sink.”
“So we’re all kinds of screwed,” I said as I stood up. “Except that the weather thingy is down. There are boats here, right?”
“The storm wrecked all of them, Boss,” Carl said with a shake of his head. He buried his face in his palm as the elevator stopped and the gate pulled open.
“My friend, are you in there!” called out a very welcome voice. I raced out to the landing to see the President’s yacht pulling up with an invasion force on deck.
“You son of a camel!” I called out. “What are you doing here?”
The President waved with his bullhorn, then said into it, “I got worried when I didn’t hear from you and decided to bring the cavalry. Did we come at a bad time?”
“Considering a nuclear bomb’s about to end this place, I’d say not!”
We got out of there in the nick of time, actually. Technolutionary was much closer to the deadline, though. We had pulled away when I saw something fly out of the landing and zip into the sky. Then Libersea quaked and shrapnel blew out of the top of a portion of it. A huge roar erupted form Libersea and my armor had to handle the EMP.
The yacht actually had it luckier. Everything to make it go was unaffected. The object in the sky, Technolutionary, didn’t plummet to a watery grave either. I guess he got that jetpack fixed enough to get away after all. He stayed there, watching us depart as Libersea groaned and sank.
I’ll see him again, but not tonight. For tonight I have rum. And tonight- shit, I left my bowler hat back there.