Ah, superheroes. It’s a pity they love the world as is enough to defend it as such. Too many of them take it as it is without truly knowing what it’s like. Can’t say the same about the former Miss Starshine. Way back when, she was a beauty pageant winner. Then she was a superhero. Then she hung up the tights and ran for Congress. She quickly rose to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, then ended her Congressional career to join a lobbying firm.
I hear that happens. Either way, she signed up on this list. Maybe she got some sort of political consideration for it. “Sure, I’ll sign up on your stupid little list if you move something through a committee,” or something like that. Either way, she had a nice place over in a part called West End.
Little Miss Starshine. Well, not so little now. Used to wear a sequined costume with no legs to it. She could sing, she could dance, she could turn into a shadow form indistinguishable from the dark except for gleaming eyes. It’s always a shame when powers like that wind up in the hands of someone who wants to waste them.
Even more of a shame, she didn’t invest in a better alarm system, but that wouldn’t have saved her anyway. I think she had some latent paranoia, though. I heard her come in, talking on her phone. It sounded like she paused, perhaps looking around. I couldn’t tell from where I hid. Maybe she was just on guard after everything that happened? A kidnapping, vandalism, explosions, a submarine, Psycho Gecko on the loose, and then a blizzard? Shit, I’m not even responsible for the weather, but that’s why they couldn’t even bother with a search of the city. Officially, they decided I’d have to be crazy to stick around.
And there I was, still in D.C., in a high rise on the West End, trying to keep myself from laughing as I heard Starshine drop to her knees and check under her bed. Then she opened the closet. One trip to the bathroom and she sighed, telling her conversational partner that, “I felt like someone walked over my grave. It’s nothing I guess, Laura.” Then she flopped on the bed, feeling the unusual mass of something inside the mattress.
I thrust my hand up, through her chest. She screamed, and I felt her body change around my arm. Unfortunately for her, I’d already taken out a lung. In fact, giving them a squeeze shut her up quickly. She tried to pant, but I tore through the bedding with my other hand and pulled her head in with me, covering her mouth. Yes, she had changed to some person of darkness, but that didn’t help her at that point. I watched the lights leave her eyes and caressed her heart while it slowed and stopped.
When I sat up partially out of the mattress, I was surprised to find the phone still on the bed, the voice on the other end frantically asking, “Theresa? What happened? I’ve got Martin calling the cops. Talk to me!”
I looked at it, then got an evil little idea to make up for not scaring Starshine before taking her out. My suit and cyborg voicebox altered my voice to match what I’d briefly heard while lying in wait. “It’s fine, Laura. I’m fine.” I lowered my voice. “I’m fine…forever.” Then, I cranked up the volume and warped my voice to a roar. “DON’T TRY TO RUN!”
Ahahahahaha! I wish I’d seen the look on her face. I wished I could have done something like that to Starshine, but I knew better than to risk it. I wasn’t going to gamble her life on a fun little jump scare. Her death needed to be a sure thing. And it was.
As an added bonus, a better name opened up for Forcelight to use.
I’d sent Technolutionary back to Empyreal City, figuring I’d head back there before too long. I worked my way through a few of the ones I could find around the capital, but they weren’t all in the area and I could blackmail people pretty much anywhere. Heck, I even ran into one of them while trying to grab a bite to eat.
I walked up to the counter of this fast food place to order a burger and noticed a weird scale pattern on this guy’s arms. At first I thought it was a tattoo, but then I saw the fang tattoo on the guy’s face and that made it apparent that the scales were a skin condition. That’s when I remembered a guy named Viper Fang I hadn’t seen a photo of, but whose description mentioned a scaley skin condition and some tattoos. I figured I’d make some conversation while trying to check his most distinctive feature. “Hey there, you look familiar. You been in some trouble?”
He looked around, holding his neck stiff like. “No sir, or ma’am, I’m a productive member of society now. I don’t want any trouble. What can I do for you today?”
See, that’s something I just couldn’t do. Go from a great and feared killer to pushing burgers? And to think, some people imagine me reforming in some way.
I leaned over to look down past the counter. His pants weren’t really pants. They were sewn together in a way that they could pass for pants high up, but were really one solid leg to make room for a snake tail. It must have been a strain, because only a couple feet of tail showed where his shoes would be. I don’t believe most snakes stay up like that all the time.
Viper Fang, a snake-like former villain. Scaley skin, a fang tattoo, and the lower half of his body resembles a snake. I don’t know where he hides his balls and dick. Got himself caught. I suppose he could have gotten out by now for good enough behavior. It’s no secret how they got his identity. Most villains who do time have their identity uncovered, voluntarily or not. The list of powers requires a bit more cooperation, though.
I grabbed a meal tray with someone else’s food and bashed Viper Fang upside his head. Ice Cube once said that a day where he didn’t use his AK is a good day. A day where I get to take something upside someone is a good day.
Fang’s physiology gives him a bit more give to certain blows, so he rode out a hit to the head without quite as many ill effects as would be expected. Since I hit him with a plastic tray, the blow didn’t do too much to him. He tried to dodge subsequent swings, hoping to avoid a fight. Maybe he’s used to it by now.
“Ma’am…sir…whatever you are, I don’t want to fight you. I’m no longer a criminal.” He slowly slithered to my left, trying to head around for the kitchen of the little restaurant. He only moved so fast with most of his tail in his pants.
Now, I didn’t have my armor on, so my lethal options were only limited to anything you could find in a restaurant. So not that many limits. I hopped on the counter and kicked a soda into Viper’s face. He hissed as the frosty beverage hit him and splashed everywhere. I followed it up with a dropkick.
His tail fell out from under him and he went backwards into the main kitchen. Other workers tried to get between us. I grabbed a long-haired guy and a short-haired woman. “Now kiss.” I smacked their heads into each other and let them drop in a huddle. I approached Viper, wondering where on a snake I could shove the spatula from the grill. That’s important. Not everyone thinks through all the various body types a person can encounter in this world. “Come on, you’re about to die here. Stop being such a pussy, snake.”
Like I’m one to talk. After much personal debate, I settled on keeping girl parts between my legs. It was an easy decision as far as protecting the balls. To get away from the topic of a life-and-death battle with a giant snake-man, I am reminded of the science fiction show Farscape, when this one grey-skinned nympho alien approached a big reptilian alien with the ability to project intense heat from his hands. She goes up to him and asks, without any clarification on the terminology, if he has mivoks. Then she kicks him between the legs. She grabs her leg, hurt, and he tells her, “Yes, but they’re not external.”
I’m just trying to protect my mivoks. The jury’s still out on boobs for the same reason, though.
Well, Viper Fang finally got up and showed me what he had going for him. He tore his pants up, whipping his tail around the floor to knock me over. I caught myself against a fryer and almost burned my fingers off when I grabbed hold of the lip of the fryer. Taking advantage of my fall, he flipped back upright and hissed, exposing a pair of fangs so big, they must have flipped out from somewhere.
He lunged for me, face first, and I grabbed the closest thing I could grab. I smacked the hot fryer basket against his face along with a full load of burning fries. He hissed up a storm, or maybe that was how his skin responded to all the heat. Either way, I let go of the handle and stood up while he whipped his head around to lose the basket. He wasn’t free for long, as I’d circled around behind him. As soon as he threw it off, I pushed my weight onto his back and rode his face down to the grill. I ignored all the yelling and thrashing to grab a spatula and start smacking him on the back of the head with it. “Order will be up momentarily! It’s putting up a bit of a fight this time!”
He got his hands under him, burning them on the grill, but it gave him enough leverage to push me off him and stand up. I bounced off some sort of sink and came back at a different angle. This time, I grabbed his head and drove it into the fryer.
Both of us yelled plenty while I held his hand under the boiling oil, feeling myself cooking. My yelling turned into laughing as I tried to handle the intense pain. I assume he felt the same thing, unless his brain went first. When I let go, I fell back on my ass to rest a moment, looking at my hands. They were…well, dinner was ready. Some part of me still wanted to throw them under some water, probably the living nerves right beside the dead ones. I couldn’t feel anything from the hands anymore. They were just fried meat at that point.
And, I’ll admit, they smelled delicious.
Gasping for breath after screaming, I pulled up my phone and called for Moai to pick me up and bring an extra nanite syringe with him. I couldn’t feel around to find out if the one I had on me was still intact, let alone inject it on my own under that condition. It was a long, long wait, made worse by the arrival of the cops, which forced me out into the cold. Yeah, I got to put some cold on it after all, and it also caressed my nerves with the stabbing fingers of pain.
Hmm. There’s an idea. Stabbing fingers. I mean, I’m already putting my genitals in weird places. Might as well modify a few other things. And maybe something like my armor’s quilted, nanite-filled layer, but in my skin. It’d make it easier next time something like this happened.
In the end, I evaded the police long enough for Moai to show up and inject me, and I spent the rest of the day convalescing. It disappointed me to see that no one in the know pointed out a connection between the attacks, so I’m afraid I had to go live. I wore my armor, so they’d know it was the real me. I can have any face and any body shape in the world, because my real one is the armor I wear. There’s probably a psychotherapist flipping out over that last statement, but I’m sure they have enough other problems with stuff I share.
Yep, one minute the local Fox affiliate was discussing the weather, then they announced they had a caller who claimed to have intimate knowledge of the recent slayings. I had to tip my hand to the call screeners, so they probably had police alerted and someone trying to trace my video call. “Good evening, my dear Washington. It is I, the Great and Devious Psycho Gecko. That’s right, I’m so famous, I’m infamous. And I killed them. Viper Fang, Starshine, the others. You wouldn’t necessarily know those names. Those are super aliases, the same ones listed in their registration list.”
“Pardon me, registration list?” asked the newscaster, showing a bit grit.
“That’s right, duderino! You see, just a short while back, Senator Powers tried to talk up some voluntary registration. I’m sure he thought it was clever to put it in the hands of Constellation Consortium. Yes, it was that private company who had the submarine in the Potomac. They’re the group that couldn’t protect themselves. I’m guessing Powers wanted to avoid an Edward Snowden situation, where government data inevitably gets leaked, by going to the private sector. Guess he didn’t remember that incident too well, either. So I got a hold of the list. It was inevitable. If I didn’t do it, someone would have. So now, for everyone who put their trust in the Senator, and who put their trust in the idea that more than one person can keep a secret…well, let’s just say I enthusiastically endorse the Senator’s plan to register the secret identities of people who fight me.”
I giggled at that one and cut the feed.
I turned back to where Moai stood holding a boom mic. “Now, let’s get back to designing me a better body. I’m thinking fangs that can hide and sort of flip out. The question is…,” I held up both hands. Above one, an image appeared of bubbling liquid eating through metal, wood, and people. Above the other, a bunch of hippies were dancing at Woodstock. “…do I inject them with acid or acid?”
Damn it’s fun to be me again.