When your superhero nemesis thinks you’re a businesswoman and minor villain of the opposite sex than she knows you to be, and then claims to need your help, you might expect she’d be Johnny on the Spot. Apparently, that’s how things work in your world. In this one, Venus took her sweet time getting around to me. Then again, that probably means my disguise is holding. She tends to give me top priority in our normal encounters, so it’s actually a good thing for her to ignore my womanly charms. My bosomy manners. My hiptastic entreaties, some might say.
I may not be IN lesbians with her, but I wouldn’t mind being lesbians with her. Wink, wink, nudge, nude, say no more, say no more. Actually, not sure there’s much else to say there unless I turn this into an erotic story. Then again, maybe it’d get me more of an audience.
So there I was, bosoms heaving, hair wild and untamed. I glanced at Venus from behind my apron, holding a full bottle of oil in one hand. “How do you like your…eggs?” I asked her.
She squinted. “I’m not hungry. Why did you ask me that way? Nevermind. I’m not staying for breakfast. I wanted to speak with you about what I mentioned the other night. Do you remember?”
I nodded and went back to fixing myself breakfast. A nice, balanced meal of eggs, grits, and country fried steak. My appetite’s been winding down a little bit without quite so much action going on, but I still like to pack it on. I burn a few more calories than most humans due to the cyborg parts, and it’s nice to build up a reserve anyway for the inevitable nanite regeneration. You wanna keep that mass, you better build up an ass.
“First, let me apologize for the delay. The Oligarch has a large group of villains at his beck and call, capturing my colleagues. They haven’t gotten me, not yet. So there’s a crime wave I have to handle without much help. Someone murdered a circus last night. We found six corpses this morning.” She hook her head as if to banish the thought.
I hoped she didn’t notice my snort. Six. They must not have looked in the clown car. I wanted to see how many clowns would fit.
Hey, I said I didn’t have as much action going on. Besides, they barely put up a fight. Ya know, if you call the snake lady trying to bite you a fight. Or something other than “kinda hot.” Too bad the dissection revealed her to be fake. Wish I could have seen the look on the face of whatever cop tried to use the restroom there at the crime scene. Once he looked up, I’m sure he didn’t have any trouble peeing, except stopping.
But enough reminiscing about fond times. “Sounds terrible,” I told Venus, checking on my gravy.
Venus paused a bit and I wondered if it was something I’d said. Then again, I hadn’t said anything that bad. After another couple seconds, I prompted her with, “You were saying you needed my help?”
“I should apologize for that. I shouldn’t frame it like I did. Oligarch, he threw me for a loop. Let’s drop the coercion. This isn’t about what I think I have on you. This is me sincerely asking for help from someone I hope and pray is unaffiliated. Plus turn around and look at me.”
I rolled my eyes, stopped stirring the gravy, and turned the heat down on it. When I did look, I found Venus down on her knees. Hey, maybe it’s not too late to turn this into an x-rated serial after all!
She actually got down and begged me. I mean, she didn’t know she was begging who she thought she was begging, but she was begging me. I took a picture and saved it. That one’s going on a Christmas card. Or into Photoshop.
“Please,” she said. “I’ll need help to stop whatever he’s doing.”
Huh. So it turns out I’m the undoing of The Order after all. Ok, yeah, I agreed. I think I have a weakness for Venus on her knees. Funny, I don’t usually give in when men or women are on their knees asking for stuff. Mercy. A little more time. A chance to make it right. Maybe Venus is just a special case like that. Or maybe it’s because I envisioned killing her and Oligarch off in one fell swoop.
I guess I’d somehow slipped into one of my little “Kill Venus” phases. I never can tell, day to day, what I feel about her. I’ve built her up in my mind, and a part of me knows that. She’s a hero; she’s my hero. But my hero can’t save me. Hell, now that I think about it, I know for a fact my hero fails to save me. Well, maybe the future invasion will go just fine with one fewer hero. Then again, that might also be why she doesn’t save me.
That’s it, I decided I’d go over to Fortune Cookie’s in person to ask her about that one. But first, I had to continue my mummer’s farce.
I turned back to my food, flipping eggs and breaded cube steak over. “Ok, ok…get up. You’re giving me too many ideas. First, no costuming. No being a hero.”
“But I might have safe houses, and few business ventures that could be useful for rearming. Maybe a communication network, unless Oligarch has randomly decided to intercept Double Cross emails.” I smiled to myself. I actually did have people at work building a bunker underneath Double Cross Headquarters, as well as a couple other sites. I’d say that you never know when you’re going to need a bunker that can withstand an alien invasion, but I actually do know. “You’re asking me to risk my life and livelihood. I have a lot of people to think of here. You go out and fight, you risk your life. If I go out and fight, I risk the life of every Double Cross employee, including their families.”
I glanced back at Venus, who now stood, arms crossed. She nodded. “That’s fair. I respect your dedication to your people’s safety. That’s not something I normally have to take into account with allies.”
I shrugged. “The mask isn’t my identity like it is with y’all. I wore it to get what I wanted.” I stopped, catching my tone. For a moment, I realized I sounded a bit like my usual self when talking to her. Not the voice, of course, but a certain condescension. I tried to cover it up. “That’s…sorry, I think I let these cook a little long..” I busied myself with the food some more. “I’ll talk to my assistant and arrange for what we talked about. Care for breakfast?”
I heard the terrace door open. “No thanks. I had a biscuit on the way here. There’s lots to be done.”
With her on her way gone, I couldn’t help but sing softly to myself, “You’re a tough little tadpole to love. Naughty lilies and lures; oh I was knocked to the floor. Never tasted as sweet a poison as you have. You’re an urge that can never be cured. You’re a bad little love and I’m yours. So trust me, trust me, darling dear. I’m so sincere; there’s no need to tear. Trust me, trust me, honeydew. Just like I trust you.”
I hummed the same tune when I attended the latest meeting of The Order. We’d graduated from a rundown community center to a hotel conference room. Lucky us! They even provided coffee for our band of nocturnal costumed criminals.
As for me, I scored major points with a few boxes of donuts. Well, except with a couple of villains. A tall, thin woman without a mask, in a barely-there tube top and short shorts said she couldn’t have any because of her diabetes. The razor blades dangling from earrings helped me identify her as Powder. Well, at least she’s not paranoid about “toxins” or “chemicals” being her food. I liked this little vein tattoo she had on the bend of her elbow.
The other guy, Roadkill, had plenty of tattoos of his own. I could only make out the ends of his sleeves under his jacket and the tattoos that climbed his neck. I pictured him as the sort to have them all over his head, too, but that was covered up by a metal mask that didn’t leave a clue about if he even had hair. He was a little husky, though, and his objection wasn’t diabetes so much as dieting. Good for him. Not easy to handle all that temptation in this day and age.
I distributed all but one box, which I kept to myself. Oh, come on, like that’s anywhere near the most evil thing I or anyone in the group had done.
Now, since I don’t like listening to Oligarch, I’ll skip past the boring stuff and just say that he wants to go public soon. According to him, Captain Lightning hasn’t been checking in as much lately. He’s had stuff to juggle in Syria. Oligarch wants The Saurus next, which is difficult because of how big the T-rex is. After that, he insisted Venus needs to go and we’ll be all set. The broad strokes are ready.
Two major heroes left to beat and imprison, and he wants to make a big announcement and declare the city his. I’m sorry, declare the city ours. I’m sure that little bit was just a Freudian slip.
Yeah, like I said, I had a whole lot of good reasons to barge in on Fortune Cookie, who had a nice little apartment above some New Age crystal shop. Fitting, I suppose. I knocked on the door for a solid twenty seconds with no answer. Maybe she wanted her privacy. Too bad for her, I climbed up the fire escape and crashed in through the kitchen window. She moved her bowl and kept on munching on cereal as I stood on the table and shouted. “Ta daaaaa!”
Fortune put down her spoon long enough to give me a polite golf clap. “Very good, Gecko.”
“Were you watching? Not easy to go through a window without getting hurt.”
“Very nice flip, Gecko.”
“Awww, you didn’t watch at all.” I hopped down and pulled out a chair, brushing off the glass. Sharp glass on a chair is a real pain in my ass. “Now, I haven’t been all up in your face this whole time. I know you don’t like me, what I do, how I do things, my body count, my company, and the people I’m working with. That’s obviously a bit of a barrier between us. But things are happening again. I need a bit of guidance, specifically about Venus. There are events happening, and I have to know the answer…does Venus die before the invasion? Or during it? Or, when I die, if I still die, is she alive?
Holy shit, now that I actually phrased it, I think I understand why Fortune Cookie’s clairvoyance powers are so complicated. Because, if I did things right, I no longer die. Or if I’m doing things right. And the answer to the question I’m asking Fortune depends entirely on the answer she gives.
Fortune put down her spoon and sighed. “There are so many reasons I can’t answer that.” She rubbed her forehead. “You are altering the future because you already know part of it. When everyone else acts, they act according to how they would have always acted. I can see them easily. Even you. Knowing the future upsets that. If I give you one answer, the future turns one way. If I give you another, it turns another. I can’t answer that question for you. I want to help you, but it’s hard to do that with you interfering.”
I picked up a piece of glass and tapped it around on the table. “Well that’s great. Everything I’m doing to keep that future from happening means I can’t keep tabs on it to find out how it’s going. I appreciate what you’ve tried to do, but is there actually anything else you can help me with?” After a second, I dropped the glass, trying to avoid any implied threats.
“Act like yourself, like you normally do. I will see clearly. But aside from that, there are still things I can tell you from time to time.” Fortune actually put her hand over mine.
“Broad strokes, then? Things I can know that won’t necessarily change?” I shook her hand off. “And you don’t have to worry about this false sympathy. What do you have for me?”
“I keep seeing an old insane asylum being blown up on Friday the 13th. Does this sound important?” She narrowed her eyes. Why do they call them almond eyes, anyway? It’s just nuts. Then again, terms like chocolate, mocha, coffee, and cocoa often get thrown around when describing non-Caucasians, so maybe it just goes back to the odd intersection of food and sex that some people have. Like sticking a cucumber inside an orifice somewhere. Yet another thing I don’t get about humans. I invented the dimensional bomb, but you sick sons of bitches invented analingus.
“When you say explode, do you mean a little bit, like survivable, or is this-?” I started, but she interrupted me.
“It’s big. Very big. Hard to survive.”
Great, so it looks like I have to save some damn heroes. Fortune Cookie is really right about me not acting like me. But it’d still help me to get those prisoners out of there. Speaking of analingus, what do you want to bet this asshole’s going to get a tongue-lashing?