In which the intrepid heroes march on the United Nations. Oh, don’t get me wrong, it was meant to be a peaceful protest. Well, the optimistic version of the plan called for peaceful protest. Plan B, far more realistic as it was, involved hostility. I can’t recall if we went through the entire alphabet, but there were a few of them in which I A-Plus died, and even one where I got a cool scar on my face.
But let’s back that thang up a bit, like fine Jamaican booty. The heroes opted to handle this situation like heroes who believed, and someone actually said this, that daylight was the best disinfectant. Which is why people just hold scalpels under sunlight to sterilize them, I’m sure.
Now, they weren’t all idiots. Victor Mender’s one of their better minds, since he proposed that a bunch of villains be ready as backup in case things turned hostile. Yeah, right. “in case”. Still, I have to commend both the craftiness and audacity of him choosing to recruit the Order villains by having me advertise an epic party at the Master Academy East Campus address. They showed up for a rave, and instead got a half-built school full of heroes. I wish I could have seen their faces, but the Master Academics figured I’d be more likely to ruin the meeting.
That’s right, the horde of heroes thought I would spook the villains too much. What’s worse, I agreed and let them shut Moai and I up in my room with my armor. If I’d known they were going to do that, I’d have held off on the prefab base. The Buzzkills locked it down and stayed inside while everything happened.
There must have been so many blowjobs to make that teamup happen. So damn many. I imagine they just had one unfortunate school scapegoat. The class loser, without the power or prestige to get out of it. “Shut up, Francis! Now get down on your knees for the bad guys.” Whatever they resorted to, I sat it out with Moai and Wildflower. Found her sitting on my bed with a copy of Frankenstein. I snuggled up to her. She let me.
“Hmm.” I hmmed.
“Hmm?” she hmmed questioningly.
I set my head on her shoulder, the top of my head rubbing against the side of her neck. “Some parallels occur to me.”
“Are you going to hold what I did against me as long as the creature does?”
“Give me a reason not to.”
“You couldn’t protect me like that, and I helped you.”
“I suppose it evens out. I broke your neck and cut you open. You chloroformed me and threw me to the superpowered wolves. Aren’t we a pair?” I let the question linger in the air.
She turned and kissed the top of my head. “A pair of animals.”
But enough of that personal drama. That’s been boring me, too. This whole thing is about aliens, after all. But speaking of good segways…
“I hope they make everything Captain Lightning and I found sound good. Would hate to screw the whole thing up with presentation.” I twirled a finger through her tail, careful of the thorns.
“Mhm. That’s why Venus pulled some strings and got Man-Opener out.”
Yep. A big part of keeping me under wraps was the release of Man-Opener to talk to the other villains. It was an act of goodwill, and he went on a rampage declaring aliens were coming. It kicks two nuts with one shoe.
After a time, Wildflower set her book aside to go check on the outside world. The first time, she shook her head when she came back. “They’re still here.” The second time she poked her head in the door, she told me, “News from the outside, stranger. They’re gone. You want to watch the fireworks on TV?”
So we found ourselves in the common room. There were a couple of other adults there, teens, kids, somebody in a full-body cast. “I see we aren’t the only ones missing the party.”
“Alas not all of us are combat-ready,” said the digitized voice of Victor Mender, who rolled in to change the channel to the news.
“Aren’t you a bad guy?” asked a trio of toddlers who all looked, sounded, and dressed the exact same, except that one was a boy, one was a girl, and I couldn’t tell what the third one was. Hairless.
I shook my head. “Nuh uh. I’m a girl.”
The TV interrupted us. “Breaking news: we go live to alien free clinic where it has currently set up in the Lower East Side. A group of heroes have marched on the clinic in protest, claiming to have evidence that they are performing medical procedures that mind control the patients. These are wild accusations; I’d like to see proof of this before people risk an international incident. Strike that, an interplanetary incident.”
They didn’t even cover the accusations themselves, I noticed. They just showed a few scenes, repeating, with random yelling and noise that I’m fairly certain didn’t come from the Masters. It didn’t matter what proof they presented there, the only quotes being shown were accusations. Ignoring their remotes, I flipped through the news channels, watching it all being handled similarly.
Then they had more breaking news: a second front at the Harlem free clinic, right near the Long Life one that had been healing people with nanites. The aliens were getting a lot more visitors than that company. Human technologies are suspect like that, especially to the crowd that thinks organic is a sign of quality while still flushing their crap down indoor plumbing. The aliens, though, that was a novelty. An event. You had to be there, and they were. So were some more of the Masters. And suddenly, the news wasn’t reporting on protests. They were claiming riots.
It was hard to tell what was going on for sure. There were gunshots, smoke, and someone throwing up a forcefield. “The heroes have turned violent. For anyone watching, please get the children out of the room. This is disturbing imagery they shouldn’t have to see. And now reports are coming in that a mass of villains have taken advantage of the protests to attack the First Nation’s Bank.” This newscaster held his hand up to his ear. “And they are fighting with each other in the streets. It is a melee among villains, heroes, and law enforcement. Ladies and gentlemen of Empyreal City, please stay indoors.”
“Well, this went wonderfully,” I commented. “Maybe we should blow something up to make the whole thing look even better.” I looked for Victor, but a squeal of tires marked his chair speeding out of there. A couple of the other chaperones ran after him. “Great. Let me see if I can call someone who can put a better spin on this.”
I sat down on the couch all meditation-style and pointed at my forehead. “Don’t bother me. This is the international sign for using mental problems.”
While kids start crying and rioting around me, I muted my ears and gave Harlon a call. Harlon is this news executive I met when I killed some friends of his. He helps me out sometimes, and once in a blue moon I return the favor. I think he just likes having a friend.
“Psycho Gecko, as I live and breath. God, how long has it been, buddy?”
“Too long, Harlon. How you doin’? Things still working out for you, or do you need a business rival moved out of your way? You know you always do right by me.” I may not always be charming, but at least I can turn it on for short periods of time.
“Oh, I’m fine. Just fine. I don’t need any help. The aliens are a goldmine.”
“Yeah, they are, aren’t they? Hey, I noticed that nobody’s actually putting out what the protesters were saying. How about you get some of that out there.”
“You know something I don’t?”
“I have it on very good authority that they’re right.”
“Do they have real evidence?”
I scoffed to myself in the real world. “Trust me, they have evidence. I’ve been the one putting most of it together. Hell, I have a recording of their ambassador killing the Secretary General.”
“Send it to me and I’ll see what I can do.”
“You’ll make a fortune, too. Another exclusive. Oh, and you’ll be helping to save the earth from invasion of the organ transplanters.”
I woke up and unmuted my ears to the sound of giggling and the smell of marker. A lot of the younger students were looking at me, with that one triad particularly close. I grabbed one of my eyes and pulled it out to see if they’d done something. Yep, they drew on my face. I was now a pretty kittycat.
“Gross,” said this one teen.
I shrugged. “You’ve never heard of keeping an eye out?” I popped it back in, then turned to find Wildflower, who was just coming back into the room with a bunch of sodas. “You’re just in time. I’m gonna murder some children.”
“No you’re not.” She set them down on a little table in the middle of the room, then swatted me gently on the shoulder. Just before she sat down, I noticed her shaking a little.
“Nervous? Hey, I just put in a call to someone who should be able to turn this around for us. I have a media conspiracy of my own, too.”
Harlon was prompt, that’s for sure. Fifteen minutes after I sent the video footage, the network he worked for had another piece of breaking news. “Related to the bizarre actions of the Master Academy and Empyreal City’s own superheroes, we have more breaking news. This just in: we have received an exclusive report from a trusted source that notorious killer supervillain Psycho Gecko is somehow involved with the rioting in Empyreal City, as some sort of ringleader or perhaps the fabricator of this ‘evidence’ that the heroes claim to have.”
I sat there in silence, then burned through the TV with my laser eye. “That’s it, I’ll settle this the old-fashioned way.”
“What are you doing? Don’t do anything you’ll regret,” Wildflower said, jumping up to stand next to me.
I brushed her bangs out of her face. “Honey, please. When have I ever regretted killing anybody?”
She put her hands on my shoulders. “I thought you were going to work on that. If you go out there and kill someone, it will make everything worse. People will see.”
“That’s why I’m going to kill them.”
“People. ALL the people.”
“You have done quite enough Psycho Gecko,” said a computerized voice as Mender rolled back in. “For everyone’s sake you will stay on the campus.”
I shot him a look. It almost included the laser. Almost. “Like it’ll hurt anything at this point? We need something a little tougher than stupid protests. Nobody cares about protests! They’re useless even when nobody’s taken over the news. I just need to take over some airways myself and I’ll expose it all. You tried, but your stooges aren’t getting the evidence out. At least this way if we’re exposing ourselves, we’re exposing all of ourselves.” I noticed a pair of guys in the room nodding along as they looked at me. “Hell, let me spread the word online. I got video and everything I-”
I blinked, having lost my train of thought because I was suddenly back in my room. My HUD clock blinked 12:00 annoyingly until it resynced and showed that I’d lost an hour. The same room with thick enough walls to keep me from accessing anything outside it. And a big heavy door meant to be locked if someone lost control of their powers. And an angry pair of heroines, who grabbed me and pulled me out.
“Ok, ok, who’s ready for the waterboarding?!”
“Shut up, Gecko,” Venus said, then shook her head. “I’m sorry, it’s a habit, and sorry they put you in there. Victor was under pressure to manage that crisis and you make us nervous.”
“Well, I’ve lost time and woken up in the wrong place before.” Turning to Wildflower, I asked, “Remember the chloroform?”
“Sorry, but I agree in principle. You know what’s at stake.” She booped me on the nose.
Oh right. The dying. But this new insistence on keeping me safe? It’s kinda creepy.
Venus stepped in front of me and stopped. “Listen, this is a confusing time. Superheroes haven’t operated at a tactical level like this since World War II, and neither have villains. You were right about staying quiet. We were infiltrated, too. We took a lot of hits, but you are still welcome among us.” She looked me in the eyes as she said it. Holy crap, she was sincere!
“The enemy’s winning, but you’re still thinking of helping me?” She left me stupefied by that stupidity.
“Yeah. Come on. Tonight they’ve got tacos.” She turned and jogged off.
Wildflower put her arm around me as we followed. “I know. She believes in what she preaches. It’s a good community, and they’re protective of their own. Right now, that includes you.”
Which explains the twelve year old boy we saw in the courtyard who raised his hands and and brought forth a huge rock wall around the perimeter of the school grounds to block the view of, oh, only a few hundred angry anti-super protesters. And the full-body shiver at the unwelcome concept of me being a part of their community now.
One thing’s clear. I can’t let this turn into some blue-ball Cold War. Open violence is the solution. Unfortunately, Youtube keeps taking down my videos and accounts under near-instantaneous copyright notices. Geez, I guess people can just file a copyright claim and get anything taken down. Without Youtube, I might as well be selling fuzzy Bigfoot photos to the National Enquirer.
The truth is out there. On Vimeo. Where nobody’s fucking looking.
Whether my hosts like it or not, I gotta get out there in the game. Their incompetence is going to get me killed sooner than me trying to hug the entire enemy fleet to death.