Manners are a tricky thing in formal events. I’ve been to a few of them, though I don’t always make it to the actual meal. Generally, it’s all about being extremely polite. Like, fixing a fake smile on your face while talking to people you hate, kind of polite. That’s part of how I get through it. The dancing is also strictly uniform, because wild moving is difficult in some of those suits. This also makes them easier targets. At the dinner table, there’s stuff about folding napkins and using the correct fork on the correct food, perhaps so that snooty people could show off all the forks they had compared to those forkless plebians. So using the wrong silverware, or not kissing the right hand, or impugning someone’s pedigree is all rude. It’s like telling someone to go fork themselves.
Back in the land of the forkless plebians, on the other hand, it’s generally considered rude to, I don’t know, drug everyone in the place. It all had to do with me stopping by Rothstein’s again with a pair of large fruit baskets. Since I had my armor on, they didn’t quite get the joke when I slid in the door and yelled, “Who wants to grab my melons?”
“You’ve got some balls coming back in here,” said the stick figure guy I bullied last time.
“And here they are!” I tossed him a thing of grapes. I don’t know what it’s called for real, but most people could guess what a thing of grapes means.
I set one of the baskets down and noticed the barkeep reaching for something under the bar. Figuring it to be the alarm button again, I walked over and tickled his cheek with a banana. “Hey there. Open wide, I have some yummy for your tummy. Just don’t choke on the seed.”
“Nobody touch the fruit!” yelled the bartender, mostly preaching to the choir. A few, unlikely to look a gift horse in the mouth, had helped themselves to my goodies. Good for them. I even noticed Elita the Warrior Woman there, enjoying my fuzzy peach, the juices dripping down her chin. At least they were enjoying themselves while they could, unlike Chicken Little the bartender.
“Nobody touch the fruit? Gettin’ a bit homophobic around here, isn’t it?” I pointed to a man dressed in bright purple and white. “You gonna take that?”
“Actually, I’m straight, and I hate faggots.”
I swiveled to point at the stick man. “You gonna take that?”
“Why would I be offended?” He cocked his head, puzzled.
I pointed at the purple guy with my left arm, which crossed over my right. “He hates bundles of sticks. Probably thinks they’re gay or something.”
“There’s nothing wrong with being gay,” Stick man responded.
“Oh yes there is!” yelled the purple guy. “It’s not natural!”
“So’s arsenic and cyanide. Why don’t you try those!” countered ol’ Sticky.
Behind me, the bartender pulled a large, sleek handgun of unusual make. He pushed a button on the side and sights flipped up in the shape of a crosshair. I held my hands up. “What? I’m not doing anything. I brought fruit, and then these two got into an argument over homosexuality. Throw them out. I’m just here to enjoy alcohol. And maybe music. Can you play Misty for me?”
“Play Misty?” The puzzled bartender squinted, aiming the gun at my head. I didn’t flinch from it, just double checking the seals of my suit. Right on time, a yellowish, oily mist seeped from the ventilation system. Droplets settled on skin and tights, or were inhaled. After all, who goes into a bar with environmentally sealed power armor on? Me, but not many others. That’s why I was in perfect shape to stop the bartender from pulling the fire alarm and setting off some sort of alert. Maybe they have sprinklers for that, but I wonder if they are serviced by the fire department? Is there a secret super villain fire service instead? Usually, we’re more likely to be firestarters than firefighters.
Note to self: look into making villainous firefighters. And not the type of firefighters who goa round tossing cats into trees, either. Lots of damage happens when someone is doing something illegal, like cooking drugs or dissecting classmates. Double Cross: where discreet meets dangerous.
“You played it for her and you can play it for me!” I told the bartender, who held the gun on me. He tried to hold that gun in one hand while slipping what looked like a biohazard hood over his face. Like that’d do him a lot of good. In the hustle to do that, his ability to multitask took a hit and he accidentally squeezed the trigger. I wasn’t worried, since I’d stepped to the side and he hadn’t done a good job following me, but he still got it close enough to ding off the side of my helmet and deflect off to the side, hitting someone else. They probably would have complained, but they were all too busy trying to get out the door.
Plus, I took the gun away from the bartender and pistol-whipped him with it just as soon as he got his hoodie on. I pressed the gun against my helmet in a mock salute. “Here’s looking at you, kid,” then stopped myself from bending the barrel. Might better look at the design and find out if it would penetrate my armor or not.
While I sat at the bar and made sure I wasn’t getting exposed to the chemical, the situation in the bar escalated. The bar’s patrons were attempting to make a break for it, but the door stubbornly refused to open because Moai stayed outside and probably pushed a dumpster against it. Amused, I watched their attempted escape and poured drinks against the front of my helmet. When the fleeing drinkers decided to put some power to it, I had to chuckle to myself. Someone tried to burst the door with a fireball, but hit a couple guys trying to push it open. One of them turned and stretched his arm back in a badly-aimed punch that hit someone who shot thorns all around himself. Panic, anger, bad decisions, and a helping of synthetic THC had an orgy in their brains and produced the sad, abandoned baby of a bar brawl.
I grabbed a last glass and the gun, then headed upstairs. The upstairs locks were probably pretty difficult for just anyone to lockpick, and the doors were thick, but I had the power. The power of Greyskull, or at least the power of my energy sheaths. I didn’t want to screw up my joints by trying to kick through that heavy son of a bitch. I haven’t replaced those with anything better so far. I’m still trying to design better skin, or maybe more efficient muscles. Maybe put lasers in my boobs. Suckle stimulated light, suckers!
Upstairs, I faced my worst enemy yet…disappointment!
Man-Opener did not, in fact, eat there that day. Well, poo. At least a snooty butler-looking guy attempted to take me out with some sort of fancy spinning hurricane kick. I broke my glass over his head, then countered his moves with my favorite martial arts style: Dildo Style. I shoved the pistol up wannabe-Alfred’s ass and held on, then picked him up by the back of his collar with the other hand. “Window, window, window, where’s a window?”
Huh, I guess I never noticed there weren’t windows around. It works as a privacy issue, I guess, but I wasn’t thinking about it too hard since I had to keep hold of a squealing, wiggling butler. “But butler, you’ve got a gun butt up your butt-ler!” His screams showed a clear lack of appreciation for both the wordplay and the buttplay. “Shut up! Where’s a window?”
Wow, it’s amazing how enthusiastic people can be when you use their intestines as a holster. I carried him to the door. “You mind getting this for me?” He couldn’t yank that door open quickly enough. Inside, a bathroom attendant sat by the door and a basket of towels, wearing a gas mask.
I paused, staring at this guy. “Hi, how ya doing?”
“You going to try and stop me?”
He held up a towel and mumbled something I couldn’t understand through the mask.
“No thanks. Now…window…ah, there.” It was high up on the other wall. I shifted the butler up. “Hey, stay steady. This isn’t easy, and I’m a bad enough shot as is.” The first shot popped the buttler’s skull cap, but missed the window. What I lacked in aim, I made up in ammunition and decreasing distance. The window didn’t shatter, but several holes weakened its integrity enough that tossing the butler’s body through it knocked open the window.
Disappointing, but at least it reasserted my dominance all over their faces, like a brisk teabagging.
Before going straight to the penthouse, I stopped off at the roof and worked on my guns a bit more. No, there’s still no gym up there; adding a guided missile emplacement in case I need it. I don’t have it disguised since the heroes most likely to spy on me are also the ones working with me, though I considered a giant foam gargoyle. It’s the foam part that takes away from the awesome factor of having a gargoyle. Seriously, that’s an architectural thing we need to do more of. We need a lot more menacing stone figures on our buildings.
Eventually, Wildflower found me up there. I spotted her coming around a corner from the roof access in the 360-display and let her pad closer. I’ve been keeping an ear out to better listen to her, and it was easy to see she was taking her time, so I called out to talk to her first. “Hey there, pretty petals. Have a nice patrol?”
She walked over, getting those pretty bare feet all dirty on the rooftop. I’m not necessarily watching foot crushing videos, but that doesn’t mean I like seeing dirty, nasty feet. That’s one of the areas Wildflower could improve. She knows what I think after a discussion we had while shoe shopping. That’s why she reached over and nudged the back of my helmet with the ball of her foot.
“I broke up a scheme by Wilderment to rob a bank. He hypnotized a bank manager into letting him and some minions in.” A quick online search pulled up info on Wilderment that I went ahead and saved into a short dossier. Willis DeMott, amateur stage hypnotist-turned professional criminal after his first professional show went poorly and the venue stiffed him. A good hypnotist, but even a good one can’t force everyone to listen or do things they never would do normally. Convincing someone to rob a bank is easy; persuading them to hand the money to someone else is quite a bit harder. Wilderment is always on the lookout for some magical or technological improvements, but has never quite gotten his hands on anything useful. Seen as having too little potential. On the plus side, he’s served as his own attorney six times and never been convicted. Credit where credit’s due.
I smiled to myself as I next spoke. “Sure, sure, save the greedy banks. Wonder how much money they stole while you were protecting them.”
Wildflower nudged my helmet some with her foot. “Uh huh.” Her tail gave this extra little swish to the side. “I wanted to see you.”
“Aww, that’s sweet.”
“No. I wanted to see you about something. They tried to arrest Captain Lightning.”Ah yes. They. While there isn’t yet an organization, private or public, with a name forming the acronym THEY, the name itself lends itself to easy contextual understanding.
“Aww, fuck me with a cotton candy candlestick.” I set down the tools and turned back to her. “Oh yeah? Oh ho! Oh no! This ale ain’t no cocktail, but life is candy, cherry brandy, ain’t that dandy, sweetie-pie?”
Wildflower jumped, landing expertly on my shoulders without trowing me too far off balance to the rear. She squatted like that, wrapping her arms around my head and nuzzling her cheek against my helmet. “That’s not how I thought you would react. The news said he is wanted for allegations of espionage after blowing a hole in the Pentagon earlier today.”
Venus walked around the corner, too, ruining my nice little moment with my Weird Science girlfriend. “He was asking questions about a medical examiner who worked with the FBI who disappeared. The Feds wanted to know about the alien organ. They said he stole it and tried to bring him in. He’s fled the country now. It would look bad to come running here. Oh, and he said to tell you ‘thanks’ for the coffee trick. It paid off.”
“Looking bad? Looking for me?” Another person joined us on that rooftop in a smooth, expressionless shiny white helmet. He wore a bright white skintight suit with black at the joints and the palms of his hands. “You need my help, don’t you?”
I stood up, Wildflower digging her claws in to hold on despite the shift. “Man-Opener. How’s the armor? Guess you found out it isn’t so easy fighting Venus, huh?” I’ve rarely seen him without his armor, but that suit of his provides easy access. Probably wouldn’t save him if I tossed him off the building. Disappointingly, Venus and Wildflower probably would.
“She’s got balls. More than you.” He crossed his arms. There’s only so much you can emote when you’re in a helmet.
“I got balls enough not to run arou-”
“No, stop it, this isn’t going to turn into an insult fight!” Venus held her hands out to cut off any conversation between myself and Man-Opener. “Gecko, I told Man-Opener what’s going on. He’s here to see the proof, then we can agree on something that helps all of us, correct?”
She looked between myself and the other villain. “Good. I think we can all agree there are worse people to work with to save the world. But first, you owe him proof that we have a problem.”
I sent out a message to my assistant asking her to bring a few things up to the penthouse, including some of the drugs to ease telepathic headache. “Sure thing. Time to show y’all the coffee trick.”