“We need to talk,” Venus had said. She arrived in Washington shortly after my little message. The news heard about it and caught up to her. She looked right in the camera and said those four short words, addressing me alone out of the world, I’m sure.
I smiled and turned to Moai, “Thsee? The doeth think of me.” Damn fangs. I haven’t mastered talking around them yet. I felt a twinge above my mouth as I contracted the muscles holding them out and they slid up to hide behind my canines. I ran my tongue over the hidden tips. No acid of either sort. I tried first with LSD, but then I spent awhile staring at the sun, nude, singing about how great it was to be an Oscar Meyer weiner, and dreaming about sliding between people’s buns. Moai was relieved when I finally came down, because he had to keep people out of that park the entire time I was around, for fear of what I’d do. Justified fear, if he remembered the incident with Sexahol.
It was a drug intended to make people feel love, affection, and lust for everyone around. I loved people to death. This time, it was actually a little less graphic than what that phrase entails.
So I figured out I couldn’t pack anything into the fangs unless I was immune to it myself. Perhaps I’ll just have to build up a tolerance to some poisons, starting with Chinese century eggs. Oh, who am I kidding, I don’t hate myself THAT much. I’ll leave century eggs out of this.
So the fangs were kind of a wash, but I love my cute new fingernails, all black and shiny and made of black zirconium. Not cubic zirconium, either. It’s not diamond, but it’s damn sharp and damn hard. I haven’t made any more changes, though now I’m thinking them through. My use of armor is a relic of the people who made me the lovely, well-balanced person I am today. They were happy to pick kids from the emerging homo machina race, since they didn’t like us. They didn’t actually want us modified that much, though. My modifications mostly occurred of my own volition. The Psychopomp Project valued the traditional human form a lot more than I do.
So I’m considering the possibility of hidden pockets of nanites, internal padding or light armor plating, and replacing my bones with lighter, but stronger, alloys. Perhaps find a way to alter the makeup of my muscles to gain enhanced strength. There’s so much more I could be. Just hopefully not too heavy or pulled apart by magnets. Electromagnetism is already a weakness for me with my eyes and brain. I don’t need someone tossing me into the exosphere with a big electromagnet. And while I’ve kept the boobs so far, I’m still on the fence about them. They’re vulnerable, but they go with my nails.
Anyway, back to Venus. She wanted to talk, and I am well-known for my cooperation with authority figures. Alright, enough laughing. Venus made no secret of her whereabouts, nor did she surround herself by a lot of guards. She went around wearing a cold weather variant of her costume. A regular fight might keep you hot enough not to get through the cold, but there are plenty of occasions where people need to stay out for a lot longer than a fight. It looked like a drysuit or speedskating outfit, covering her body in lines of gold and white with pink accents that didn’t leave a lot to the imagination for most people. In my imagination, of course, I wondered if she had sexy bones, but that’s just me. Some paparazzi hung around her, but stupid is as stupid does. She wanted to minimize casualties if I stopped by to chat, and they wanted to be the casualties. In some places, they’d consider that a form of suicide.
I came for her when she was at her most vulnerable: eating a hot dog.
I left Moai with my armor nearby, but I needed something heavier than my classic trench coat look for this one. I arrived in a puffy, bright pink jacket with the fur around the hood. I hid my eyes behind sunglasses, too. I shouldn’t even bother at this point, with their ability to look normal, but it’s part of who I am.
I came out of an alleyway behind Venus as someone hounded her, looking for a picture they could photoshop into porn, when I called out, “Boopsie!” That got them a good photo as Venus started coughing up wiener in response to hearing her old pet name again. Her boyfriend used to call her that, before I killed him a couple times. They snapped away at her reaction, and at me as I approached with arms held out. Ignoring them for the moment, I added, “If you keep showing up every time someone needs to wrangle me, people are going to get ideas about us.”
Very few law-abiding citizens would have the balls to willingly and knowingly meet with me. Venus is the hero with the best survival rate.
“Psycho Gecko,” she said on turning around. She looked me over without a hint of surprise at my femininity. “You look different.”
I put my hands on my head. “Uh oh, I thought I was here to meet Venus. I didn’t realize you were Captain Obvious. Excuse me.” Though I did note her lack of surprise to find me female. Fascinating, I might add alliteratively as well.
“There is no excuse for you, Gecko,” Venus quipped back.
I pretended to be grabbing my heart. “Ya cut me, Venus. You cut me real deep. Right in the cockles of the heart, you cockle-tease.”
The whole time this is going on, these idiots with the cameras are just clicking away. I looked at one of them, but spoke to Venus, “You sure you don’t want me to kill these idiots? At this point, it’s just improving your gene pool.”
“Not my gene pool,” she responded, eyeing one of them nearby. She tossed the rest of her hot dog in a nearby trash can. “Please don’t kill them.”
“Wow, a please. It always amazes me how you can be so nice and polite to someone like me. Especially to someone who is me.” Addressing the paparazzo I’d looked at and pulled down my shades, “Hey, my eyes are up here.” My laser eye took out his camera. I glanced at another and blasted theirs, too. Then Venus decided to jump in the way and I stopped. Looking back on it, I wish I didn’t. I didn’t realize just how much stronger I’ve gotten than her. Just one good shot in the throat, ya know. Then again, as much as I want to kill her, I keep finding excuses not to. Some part of me likes her. Some really, really stupid part of me.
I kept looking at her throat, though my laser eye cooled off. I heard someone yell, “You destroyed my camera! I’ll sue your ass! You can’t shut me down.”
“Bitch, I break men of steel.” I turned and fixed him with a stare and a grin. He and the rest of the paparazzi gave us a respectful distance after that.
Venus motioned for me to join her. “Come on, walk with me.” When I stepped up beside me, she whispered, “And thanks. They were really annoying.”
“So, you wanted to talk.”
She nodded. “I need you to stop killing people on the list.”
“Aww, but mooooom,” I whined.
“And get rid of it, even if you have to delete it and everything you know about it.”
“I’m calling in my favor. You do remember you owe me, right? It’s been almost a year.”
I remember. Captain Lightning owed me for the Spinetingler incident, and I owed Venus for it. Near the end, she saved my life for some damn reason. So I owe her. I actually meant to kill her before she could call in the favor, but I got caught up in international affairs and then learned about the aliens who are going to kill me. Or die trying, if I have my way.
“Okily dokily. I will get rid of and/or delete the list.” I rolled my eyes.
“And I will stop going out of my way to kill people on the list.”
“That wasn’t what I said.”
I threw my hands up. “Well, what do you want? If they come after me, I’m not allowed to defend myself? Someone already tried to blow me up, ya know. Or if I’m just strolling along, snapping necks, are you going to punish me for killing someone randoml-” I stopped when Venus cold-cocked me across the jaw.
“Yes, I would. Stop that.” She actually turned and pointed her finger at me. What did she think I was, a puppy?
Still, not a bad punch. One of those that popped my jaw a little. I wiggled it and made sure it was in its proper place before shaking a finger right under her nose. “Venus, I swear, do you always have to resort to violence as your first response? We were having a peaceful conversation about murdering people.” I kept wiggling my finger. She brushed it away and kept on walking. “What, no ancient kung fu finger hold? No knuckle lock?”
She pointed back over her shoulder without looking back or breaking stride. “That’s bait. Besides, I don’t think your girlfriend would appreciate me holding your hand.”
I caught up to her. “Well, ya know, Taiwanese strippers are often noted for jealousy and being quick to unleash their wrath on the wicked.”
“You know who I mean.”
“That marriage was purely online, and I got it annulled anyway. Clicked the wrong button at a Ukrainian mail order bride site.”
“Venus, it’s the middle of winter. There aren’t any flowers growing around here. Wait, isn’t there some sort of botanical garden in this town?” I looked around even as my eye HUD started looking that up for me. Wow, a botanical garden and an arboretum. Counting the monuments and Congress, this might be the highest concentration of boring in the world.
“You know what I mean, Norma. That was mean what you did, but you wouldn’t have done it if you didn’t care about her a little bit. Your note showed that.”
I faked puzzlement, instead wondering when she worked out my other identity as Norma Mortenson, owner of Double Cross Incorporated. And I’m not sure I actually sent Wildflower that note. Nope, upon video review of my memory, I crossed it out and got caught up in this whole registration mess.
“How could I care for whoever this is about? I don’t know them. Or, if I do, I hardly know them.” Oooh, we were passing an ice cream place. I could branch out into ice cream, maybe use it to smuggle drugs. Plus, ice cream parties on demand.
“You dated her. She told me about your trip to Broadway, and how you arranged a private dinner at the aquarium late at night. She told me all about the origins of Norma’s powers, which sounded a lot like the book The Master and Margarita. You remember that, right? You mentioned it when you forced me to go on a date with you.”
If only the coffee shop we now stood in front of was one of my Mastermind Cafe franchises. It would be easier to arrange for a quick escape with one of them. I stopped there to let Venus continue talking, ignoring a couple leaving the coffee shop. “She even told me how you stayed with her all night to watch over her in the asylum, you big softy.”
I glanced at the couple gawking at Venus and had an idea, an idea I loudly put into words right when they went to sip on their drinks. “Ooooh, you mean that night I pounded her in the ass?!”
The resulting spit-take from the couple distracted Venus for just a second, and while it takes longer than that for me to come, I can go quite easily in that amount of time.
Perhaps it was wrong of me to honor that favor. Maybe I am going soft. I did get rid of the list. I don’t have it in my possession at all. Nope. Instead, I posted it online for everyone to see.
Yep, I’m just a big softy. I may not even have to kill anyone on the list now that it’s public. Sad.
Of course, that does leave me with one last tiny loose end to tie up. Senator Powers tried to blow me up. Technolutionary, Moai, and his own daughter, Priscilla Powers, too; but I’m the most important person he tried to blow up. Sure, I didn’t want to kill him at the height of his popularity in case he was a martyr. Now, regardless of his ability to deflect scandal, his cause is dead and I have dirt on a few of his political allies.
And he is most certainly not on that registration list.