Because of course it was, readers. What’s a little bullet to the head compared to the pure, unadulterated badassness of knowing I survive long enough to die in an alien invasion? To be fair, even I had my doubts there in the coma. Or I probably did. Hard to keep track of that. Good thing I loaded up on nanites while dealing with my little viral invader.
Seriously, good thing. Dying isn’t really on my itinerary if I have any say in the matter, now or in the future. Y’all know why. So after reviving from the dark nothingness of being kinda sorta maybe almost possibly dead, I took a bit of a break to make good and sure I was over it. It was a lot like that time Miss Tycism hexed me, except hers made me experience conscience thought, which allowed me to figure out I was dead. This was just being nothing. Not having thoughts. Not existing, at least as far as my consciousness was concerned.
Then I got angry. I’d certainly say I have a reason or two, though I can find plenty of other excuses. To start with, the bastards didn’t even bury me. Oh, and they looted my armor. Those role-playing bastards! Well, it’s time for the obligatory recurring boss battle, bitches.
Of course, keep in mind that I’ve had some time to reflect on these events, and my mindset at the time wasn’t quite so lighthearted.
Naked, freezing my ass off, hungry, and wielding a whip, I set foot outside the door of the hut they left me in and found a large wolf. It licked its chops. “Come at me, Lon Chaney, and I’ll make you look like the Phantom of the Opera.”
When I approached the door to the infamous clock tower a few minutes later, it was with a few new scratches but a warm pelt to cover up partially. A little torn, and split in some places, but better than going naked. They certainly hadn’t left anything better on the snowmobiles and their sled trailers. Whatever problem they’d had getting in, the doors stood wide open now. Why would they lock up? They captured or killed the perceived threats. Unless the various monsters broke in. That’d be a shame. We wouldn’t want any monsters in the clock tower, now would we?
Actually, yes we would.
I entered with great care and caution: I charged up the steps, waving my fetish store weapon in the air, accompanied by the song “Bad Clown is Back”. I took stairs two at a time, wondering if they had anybody guarding that low down. Up one set of stairs, up another to the left, and then a third one to that left noting the occasional drop of bird crap every once in awhile. After traveling clockwise up a clock tower like that, I found a landing with a dull brown skeleton laying on it.
I went to kick it and hurt my toe on old metal. Seems the old clock used to be guarded by clockwork of a sort. Or someone got intimately acquainted with the bronze age in a whole new way thanks to time shenanigans. Time…shenanigans! Shenanigans in time! Sorry, for a moment there, I imagined an 80s tune in my head.
Besides, the next person to say shenanigans deserved to get…well, I didn’t have a pistol to whip them with, but at least I had a whip. I suppose that could be useful for whipping of some sort.
Back at the time, I figured I’d do more than just whip whoever I ran into, and made a valiant effort to keep that anger going as I continued up the clock counterclockwise. I steadily rose into the belly of a mass of old machinery. None of it moved, so I didn’t miss anything. I guess you could say I was worried I’d be late.
Ba dum tish.
Turns out I’d been closer than I expected. Squeaking and creaking began from higher up, descending to meet me. Human voices called out as well, but I don’t think they knew about me at that time. That changed after three more sets of stairs, where a guard stood on the fourth landing, calling up in a language I couldn’t understand.
I figured my translation program got fried in all the excitement, or I lost it with the reformat.
The guard spotted me out of the corner of his eye and turned. He shouted some more to whoever listened up above and went to raise his hunting rifle. I had already swung the whip, knocking it to the side. A loud crack and muzzle flash accompanied a shot that hit nowhere near me. He didn’t get off any more shots. The next time he tried, the whip wrapped around the gun and I snatched it away, reaching the top of the stairs.
He tried to dodge away from me, but I pushed him over to the edge of the landing. He twirled his arms, trying to reverse his balance. I grabbed one of his arms. Perhaps not knowing me or just not caring, he let me and then tried to throw his weight forward. I pulled when he did so and launched him face first into the wall. He staggered back, probably a bit fuzzy. Figuring he couldn’t understand me anyway, I put my arm around his shoulder and said, “There there. This way to the medical tent, comrade.” Then I showed him a shortcut to the doctor’s that involved him walking off the edge of the landing anyway.
I guess they shouldn’t have called it a landing then. A departing, maybe, but not a landing. That’s what he did on the floor instead.
About that time, the squeaking had reached me and I noticed the cogs beginning to turn in the middle of the shaft. I also heard shouting from higher up, and looked up to see the faces of other guards, including the bastard who shot me, all looking down. I raised my whip to the sky. “You’re all going to die in here!” I promised them loudly. That drew more shouts
I looked for a shortcut, too, figuring I needed to get my ass in gear. Or, more specifically, on gears. I wrapped my whip around my waist like a belt and jumped for a cog hanging close to me in the middle of the shaft. Unlikely that pansy Batman, I have no trouble jumping small gaps out of costume.
I scrambled up the gears, careful not to lose fingers or toes. Ever been mountain climbing? Try mountain climbing where the mountain is constantly moving and can crush you if you stay in one place too long. I pretty much immediately regretted my decision to take that route, instead hoping the next contestants on Romania’s Next Top Corpses would meet me halfway.
Three of them waited on the fifth landing up from where I jumped. There they were, sitting around, training guns on the only way I could get up there while I tortured my arms and legs sneaking up to their level. Hunting rifles instead of anything military grade.
I meant to land behind them as silently as possibly, but I skidded on the stairs and bounced off the wall. The thud alerted them, but they didn’t react well to the whip flying toward their faces. I didn’t whip them, I just tossed it. Anything vaguely snakelike being thrown at a person’s face tends to make them flinch, unless you’re a porn star.
I kicked the middle guy in the balls hard enough to knock him on his ass. I poked the one on the right in his eyes and grabbed the other one by the balls. Treat your enemies like you would treat life. When I pulled back my hands, I had a pair of eyeballs shishkebabbed in one hand and a pair of nuts in the other. But at least I put them back. The guy on the right dropped to the ground with a gonads in his sockets, while the one on the left held his crotch as he tried to get used to the new additions in his scrotum area.
The third guy took one look at his buddies and decided that getting the hell out of there was the better part of valor. I grabbed my whip and tried to crack it overhead to speed him on his way. Still not that good at cracking a whip.
Nobody obstructed the remainder of my ascension to the top room until one of the corner landings ended at a door. You know, I really expeced a lot more guards there, but that turned out to be the height of their resistance. Like the body back at their trucks, maybe they’d been killed off by others. I couldn’t recall the face of the guy who shot me enough to tell then if I’d encountered him already.
I banged a fist on the door to “Shave and a Haircut”. “Alright, you assholes! Turn off your clock before I have to clean it for you!”
The door opened and I then I found the guy who shot me, pistol leveled at me. I dove over the edge and this time he missed. I know I probably seem like a badass with a whip, but I’d been getting by on hope, luck, and the weapon’s simplistic design. Then again, a whip isn’t much of a weapon.
So even though I didn’t have time to aim for any particular piece of machinery, I did a hell of a lot of flailing. I suppose I also thought I had inevitability on my side. Either way, when my arms failed to catch hold of anything, the whip wrapped around a gear rotating parallel to the ground.
Ideally, he’d have thought I fell. From the bullets whizzing by and ricocheting everywhere, I got the distinct impression he knew where I was. I’m just glad the gear wasn’t too slow. Though, from the way he shot me in the ass and leg, it clearly didn’t rotate fast enough. Gritting my teeth and growling to myself, I realized I needed a way to surprise the guy. Or at least something else I could throw at him. If everything went well, I’d probably get one shot while he had one shot.
When I came around again, he saw the whip dangling from the gear, then quickly adjusted his gear as I limp-ran along the top. Even hunched over like I was, I had enough momentum to give the balled-up wolf pelt a good throw. It soared through the air only a short ways before opening and obstructing his view of me. That covered up my further run and another dive. I skidded off the floor of the landing, skidding and partially converting to Judaism. On the plus side, the results of that skid also gave me a higher range on my singing voice. Or is that higher pitch?
Either way, at least I got on there and got close while he blew a hole in the pelt. When I came up, I grabbed his hand and twisted the wrist sharply, forcing him to drop the weapon. My open palm came up and caught him under the chin. He would have stumbled back, but I kept a firm hold on his wrist and pulled him toward the edge. One good throw sent him a little too far into the inner workings of whatever device had been set in motion.
It ground his bones, and itself to a halt.
Limping, bleeding, scraped, naked, and pissed off, I stepped into the room.
The Mobian was just removing the handcuffs around his wrist and helping Fortune Cookie with hers. “You were right it seems.” Looking to me, he said, “Jolly good distraction. They put your stuff over there.” He pointed over to a dais holding a panel with a wheel holding a series of circles. Astronomy, perhaps? Behind it, a gyroscope with dozens of rings vibrated, but otherwise stayed still. The rotor in the middle looked spherical and glowed a faint green. It made quite the grinding noise to the chagrin of an older man who stood nearby, trying various switches on the panel.
Beside all of that sat my armor in a pile and a set of tools.
“Cool, just what I need.” I walked over, ignoring the panicking man, and checked for my syringes. None in the pouches. But I did spot them behind the pile, not too far away from a cot. On it sat an empty syringe and the dried remnants of pink goo. The nanites are programmed to break down and expel organic matter that isn’t me or any part of my implants.
I injected myself and pulled on my armor, ignoring Cookie and Mobian’s attempts to talk the old man out of his course of action. I couldn’t understand Cookie or the man, but Mobian had some sort of universal translator thing going on because I could hear him. You know the drill. “Blah blah blah, think of what you’ll do to the world, blah blah blah, Nothing justifies this, blah blah blah.”
I tested out my gauntlets, and smiled to myself as the energy sheath appeared with no problems. Then I walked over and smashed my fist into gyroscope’s rotor. The grinding noise stopped as the sphere itself blew apart in the direction I’d punched. I turned to the now-silent trio. “I’m sorry, did I interrupt your talk?”
The old man looked at me with sunken, reddened eyes. Whatever he said, he spoke softly and in a language I couldn’t understand. I looked to Cookie. “Can I get a translation? Had a bit of a data loss recently. Also, good to see you again.”
“It’s good to see you too, Gecko. Sorry for not saying so earlier, but it was more important to stop what was happening. Besides, I knew you would show up.” She smiled at me. I waved my hand forward, urging her to get on with it. “He said that this is his life’s work, and it doesn’t matter if you destroyed it. He will rebuild.”
The Mobian put his hand on the old man’s shoulder. “This isn’t you. You were never like this and you don’t have to be.” The old guy shook Mobian’s hand off his shoulder and muttered to himself.
Cookie stepped over and translated more quietly for me. “He said that Mobian doesn’t know everything. He doesn’t know what it’s like to lose a son and grandson in a simple, stupid car accident.”
Mobian shook his head. “No, I don’t, but I have lost many friends and companions over thousands of years. Everyone mortal faces death, and I can’t be there to save everyone. I shouldn’t be there to save everyone.”
The man whirled on him, holding a finger up right in Mobian’s face. The gangly time traveler swallowed heard as he heard out the verbal assault. “I trusted you. You saved me from the camp, and I saw you other times saving the world. You were a god to me. A false god.” She declined to translate what the old man spitting on Mobian meant, but I picked that one up by context. “You can’t save everyone, but I can. I can prevent anyone from ever dying again.”
“You would prevent anyone from ever living again, too.” Mobian said. I could tell that even though the old man’s scheme had flaws, his accusations stung.
“Translate for me?” I asked Cookie. She nodded. “Who was responsible for your son’s and grandson’s deaths?”
The old man glanced my way. Cookie dutifully translating between us. “A Parliament Member. He didn’t go to jail. The police determined my son was in the wrong. But I know Marius would never be so reckless. Mihai was in the car.”
I nodded. “I can see to it that he does get punished for what he did to you. I understand how you feel. Something bad like that happens and your world ends. Your world stops, but everyone else’s keeps moving on. Everything moves too fast and before long you feel like you’re in another world entirely. You want to keep a hand on it. Am I in the ballpark?”
The old man heard me out, then nodded.
I shook my head. “I can’t let you stop the world. That’s why I did what I did.”
“You can’t take my knowledge away from me. Send me to prison. I will find a way to do this thing if I have to tell everyone how. Somebody will follow through for me.”
Mobian spoke up again. “Don’t. You can move on from this.”
“The world can move on, but I am too old,” said the man.
I stepped closer to the old guy. “Moving on is not required, but I can end your suffering.”
Mobian shouted “No!” but was too late as I grabbed the man’s neck and snapped it like a brittle twig. I let the man drop as Mobian continued his hysterics. After a few seconds of that, he began pounding on my chest. It became difficult to believe this guy ever worried anybody. “You didn’t have to do that! I could have saved him.”
“You can’t save everyone,” I reminded him. I glanced back at Cookie and the device. I made sure to get a real good look at the device in case I missed anything earlier. The design on that part could come in handy if anyone could scale it way, way down. I held out my arm for Cookie, who slipped hers into it, her head downcast. We left Mobian there to sob beside the dead man.
“Could you have killed him?” I asked her as we made a much slower and safer descent.
She shook her head and whipped a tear away. What’s with all the waterworks around here?
“Then that is why you needed someone like me.”
Halfway down the tower, we came across the blinded man crawling slowly to what he hoped was safety, whimpering to himself with each step. His friends had left him behind. I kicked the side of his head and sent him off the edge to a screaming death.
Cookie stopped to gawk at me. “Was that necessary too?”
“No, that one was fun.” I held up a hologram of a ticket with holes punches out under all but one skull. “And now that I’ve got that one, I’ve won a free food gift card from the Targu Secuiesc funeral parlor. He died so that I may enjoy a sub sandwich. Truly, that soldier was quite the giver.”
Cookie took my arm again on our descent, but muttered to herself. “He gave ’til it hurt.”
Now she’s getting into the spirit of things.