Ah yes, the great horn heist. Everything’s a great heist when I’m involved. The great shoe heist. The great chocolate heist. The great ketchup packet heist. That time I heisted the last of the Frosted Flakes when Carl was looking forward to a bowl? Grrrrrreat!
I suppose I should call it the great shell heist.
First, finding the shell. Not that tough, actually. I just had to narrow down the search online. Students from some university were the people to find it, so the university publicized the shit out of it. It’s how colleges make themselves look like good investments. Turns out they dug it up a couple weeks back and were just now heading back to the main island of Japan to put it in a collection. They had a boat and everything. Not a big cargo ship. No detachment of mercenaries. Just a bunch of college students who were ending their archeological field study.
What confused me was why this Underworld group needed me for this. I resolved to go into the extraction with the maximum amount of care, in case it was a trap.
So Sunday, I flew out to intercept the incoming vessel. The sun glinted off my nude, silver-painted body. Behind me, my wake threw water in the air as my rocket surfboard carried me to my destination. My eyes zoomed in to show the befuddled faces of the students and their teachers as I approached. Good eyes. Who deserves a treat? You do, eyes. You do. Except you’re cybernetic and you don’t eat, so you’re not getting one.
I landed in the middle of them and directed the surfboard to circle. I stood up slowly and glanced over as one of the teachers held something up in his hand. An improvised weapon? A…tire iron.
I guess they were worried the boat would break down and they’d need a spare. Innertubing is a handy way to travel by water, though it makes you look like a donut to aquatic predators. That’s you as in the general “you,” not my eyes.
I lunged for the tool holding the tool and wrapped my arms around him, picking him up in a hug that rubbed silver spray paint off on his face and clothing. I heard muttering and whispering from all around me as I squeezed the older Japanese man in my naked embrace. That included me whispering him all the things I planned to do to him and his students if he didn’t give me the magic shell horn thing. Because I had an Asian fetish and the power cosmic in my dick.
When I let him go, he braced himself on the side of the boat and took a deep breath. Then he motioned everyone aside and led me to the cargo.
“Greetings, humans of Earth. I am the Silver Squeezer. I have come for your valuable old stuff. Does anyone want a hug from a naked alien man?”
I held my arms out wide. This guy with a pink skunk stripe through the middle of his hair winked at me, but otherwise the pickings looked awfully slim. Seriously, those kids needed more junk food in their diets. All those students and not a single fat one? They’ve got a serious deficiency of vitamin chocolate.
Though, from my view, it looked like some of the girls could use some vitamin D. And by D, I mean my dick.
Before I could supplement some diets orally or anally, the teacher dragged a plastic bin out of the back and ripped off the top. “I like your style,” I told him, and tore the shirt off a nearby student. Turns out the quiet guy with a bowl cut had rings through his nipples. I gave him a golf clap as he tried to cover his skinny upper body. “Nice. I think we all learned something special today.”
The teacher waved that off and rifled through the contents of the bin, then pulled out my objective. I don’t believe I described it to y’all last time. Most people would expect it to be a conch shell or something similar. Nope. It resembled a nautilus shell, like a scoop that went overboard. Overboard as in it over did things, not that it fell in the water. It had these spikes sticking out of it ever few inches.
On paper, it just had some unusual spikes. Seeing it in person gave a clearer view of how someone could recognize it as special. It was white with gold stripes. Metal gold, not just gold-colored shell. The spikes were gold as well, maybe closer to spines. On the side of the shell, part of it had been deformed into a piece to blow into. I say deformed because that seemed unusual for this kind of shell, and it didn’t appear to have been damaged to conform to that shape.
“Please do not kill us for taking it. I thought it was a fake!” The man pleaded. He should have saved his breath. It wouldn’t have mattered because…this thing looked awesome. I called up the board, jumped overboard onto it, and waved goodbye to the perplexed coeds I left behind.
Pretty simple, clean job. Sure, I noticed some grouchy men with tattoos waiting for the boat back on shore, but fighting them was optional. When you’ve found a place that does teriyaki chicken nuggets as well as the spot I found, you sometimes let optional fights go. That’s you as in both you the readers and my cybernetic eyes.
And you did read me correctly. The chicken was so good, it did what a drug engineered to make me docile and loving couldn’t: choose not to kill people for no reason.
Well, perhaps that’s not entirely accurate. I didn’t fight them, but only from a technical point of view. While being technically correct is the best kind of correct, it’s not always actually correct.
In this instance, stopped near the dock and watched as the tattooed men hurried to a car, pointing me out to the driver. I tooted my own horn to get a tune informally known as the “March of the Dragon” for its use calling a giant dragon robot from the sea in a TV show. I couldn’t help but watch the series; it reminded me so much of home.
I remembering hoping it wasn’t magic, because magic is iffy with me. I seem to be able to do the ritual stuff ok, but anything that has to channel through me or with my mystical…I dunno…mystical magic stuff, then it doesn’t work. The downside of being a homo machina. That’s why I blew on that horn and just hoped a whale would jump out and smash these guys. A killer whale leaping from the sea to crush the now-full car of men surprised me, obviously. Hell, it probably surprised the whale. I was under the impression killer whales weren’t from anywhere around there.
Figuring I wouldn’t be rude for this mysterious turn of events, I thanked whoever was watching in the language of the whales. “Tttttthhhhhhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaannnnnk yooooooooouuuuu!”
I didn’t have it programmed into the translator. Animal languages don’t have the clear-cut rules that human languages do. My least favorite has to be the Columbidae language; it’s a type of pidgin. It’s so hard to pronounce, no wonder it has bidet in the name. Makes me want to wash my ass out and talk through that.
Ok, so most animals don’t have languages that was all for the sake of a bidet joke. I missed my chance in Australia. Bidet, mate!
So I had my shell. Yay! And it was handy. I could make whales throw themselves at people and bring Japan’s whaling industry to its knees. But…it’s not robots. And I made a deal with this Underworld group, despite being drunk on chicken. I mostly try to keep to such agreements. Mostly. I’ve felt somewhat flexible on that point lately, but I still don’t want the whales.
I headed for that Yomi Iza-place, figuring they’d probably meet me there in little time. Except someone had eyes on me. Someone who looked suspiciously like the guy who first gave me the job. And by suspiciously, I mean exactly. I rocketed toward the Yomi place until a giant metal mallet knocked me off the board and to the ground. It wasn’t the easiest landing.
I called the rocket board back down, but a fireball intercepted it and blew up the rockets. Looking around for the horn, I saw the man in the tights. He held the metal mallet in his hands, but it didn’t look big enough to knock me out of the air. Then he stretched it out toward the horn. It grew, but the hammer head became a scoop that pulled the horn away from me. I gave chase until a gust of wind knocked me flat against the roof.
I wished I had my armor with me. Fucking wind. Knocked over by moving air. I got lungs that normally handle wind. The wind seemed to come from another of that doppelganger maker. And then one appeared in view with flames ringing his hands. So that’s three. I knew he had one that used water, too.
“Not exactly a subtle betrayal, is it?” I asked over the howl of wind.
“A test,” they all said at once.
“How’d I do?”
They didn’t answer. If it was a test, I don’t know what he accomplished by ambushing me on my way to turn the horn back over to them. All they told me was, “We will meet at the Yomi Izakaya once more if you wish to work within the system.”
They threw up a wall of metal that curved around and almost formed a sphere around me. By the time I got out of it, they were gone. I had to call Moai up for a ride and my suit. Once again, I didn’t trust my hotel room. The actions of these Underworlders seemed inscrutable. Instead of wasting time scruting them, I intended to go about my goals without their help or say-so.
I made a quick stop while temporarily homeless, though.
I showed up at the Yomi prepared for any more testing, in full armor with a pair of foot long novelty pencils in hand. Well, probably not exactly a foot, given I was in Japan. I burst in the door, pushed aside the fake boulder on the door, and threw a sharp No. 2 at the first person I saw.
One person down. One jump and stab later, another person went down. I saw my tight-wearing elementalist peek out of the side room. The pencil stuck into the frame next to his head as he ducked inside. Damn. I missed that nice white lens target. The lights flickered and I heard something like static. By the time I got to the room, he’d disappeared.
I didn’t massacre a whole bar full of people. For starters, the Yomi wasn’t quite a bar. Plus, most of the people evacuated quickly while I tried to find the elemental doppelganger fellow. Still, I believe I made my message quite clear. I carved it into the bar in amateurish kanji.
“Have I passed yet?” it asked.
Though it’s possible that I contributed to the grand tradition of humorous Western mistakes by instead writing, “Free necktie orange juice beautiful.”
On the plus side, at least I didn’t get a tattoo of “Ass” on my chest thinking it was the symbol for “Power”.