Just bear with me here, folks. See, sometimes a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do. Ignore my boobs for the purposes of this lesson. Just keep that in mind as I recount what happened.
See, there was the usual ranting, raving, and distrust in the Master Academy Camp, so much so that I began to hope the invaders would just zap the place like they did the broadcast station. No luck. I actually watched as they tried, and somehow failed. Something the supers here did, good to keep in mind. There wasn’t much else to do for entertainment in between working on the D-bomb. The broad strokes of it are done, it’s more a matter of adjusting it to only affect a certain radius. After all, if you think of spacetime as a sheet on which massive objects sit and distort, then you have to be careful how big of a whole you punch through the sheet…
Ah, hell, that’s getting too technical. But anyway, I didn’t have too much to do. There’s been little to no TV ever since the field went up around the city, and the internet has abandoned us as well. Oh internet, we are but worms without you! Come back to us! Bring the porn!
At least I had a few games stored in my head to alleviate it, though I almost missed having teammates in Payday 2, except for the part where they bitch about how the people who make their game keep wanting to be paid. It’s one thing to steal porn off the internet; it’s another to insist all the porn should be free.
But enough about various sorts of pussies.
So, between building a better bomb and listening to Elmore James perform “The Sky is Crying,” I also got the skinny from the scouts. I almost said hero scouts, but at least some of the ones around the campus were villains who resisted assimilation after a couple of misty downpours. With the sheer numbers on the aliens’ side, it was looking futile. I put out the call to Beetrice and the Buzzkills in the bunker under Double Cross Tower, but phone lines were iffy and I didn’t quite know if bee people were immune to everything. They’re not human, but neither am I or many other supers, strictly speaking.
One fine morning, I hopped up to the wall to take a look out and saw people. Just people. A sea of human beings, unpowered and powered alike. There was no earth visible ringing the school. Further on, I mechanical tendrils reached down from the sky, and presumably a vessel rivaling Empyreal City in size. Kind of a bad sign when you can’t tell the size of a craft even when it’s right next to a city.
I dropped down just inside the wall and didn’t quite catch myself, landing on my ass. I took a minute to sit against the wall. Ya know, just for a minute. Or five. Or thirty.
I had to think. I let so many pieces get away from me. So many things I couldn’t keep track of. I even vaguely wondered how Crash and the others at the company were doing. Probably trying to kill me. Just for good measure, probably have to kill Crash with her own car. I’ve kept on wrecking them anyway. And a few other things. But at least I had an idea or two to go with it.
To my surprise, Venus walked out to retrieve me. She had her armor on, too. Kinda risky to go outside without it, even though it’d been a day since the last light misting. “Why didn’t you just send Wildflower? I’m tired of this stupid fantasy you have about reforming me, and you hate dealing with me anyway.”
She turned around and plopped in the mud next to me. “Yeah. It looks bad out there. You know it isn’t your fault, right?”
I rolled my eyes. “Yeah, not so much I could have done to just plain stop them, but that doesn’t mean nothing was my fault. Even I can’t stop an army, and now I am fated to die. I did…every damn thing I did…to live. You can stomach almost anything if it’s to save your own ass, ya know? Lots of dead people. Hurt. Wounded. Taken apart. Things. Except I’ve almost certainly failed, so all that was meaningless.”
I pushed my hands against my helmet, wishing I could shove them in my mouth to hide the noises that began to burst forth. I couldn’t. I wound up holding my head, uncontrollable laughter issuing forth. I just couldn’t stop.
Venus reached out and put a hand on my shoulder, as much to try and stop me as comfort me. It took a minute of effort to force myself to stop long enough to hear the worthless words, like so many others that she employed to deter me from actions that, in the end, didn’t matter one way or another. “I failed too. I thought I could save you. We aren’t so different, you and I. I wanted to save you in spite of yourself. You wanted to make me kill you.”
“Didn’t matter anyway,” I responded. “None of it does. I think, somehow, I fooled myself about that. Or forgot it. Its very freeing, though, to realize that everything is permitted, that there isn’t guilt, just responsibility. I have always had an end coming for me, whether I made it happen or not. Maybe what I did pushed it back. Maybe not. It was always there regardless. In thinking I was so smart for knowing life was absurd, and yet I still was the victim, controlled by my past and my fear. Those bozos out there better hope they kill me. Because I feel like fetters are off that I didn’t even realize weighed me down.”
I jumped to my feet. Venus rose beside me and stepped in front of me. “We give the world meaning, Gecko. We live for a short time and use it to make the world a better place for all who come before. If they enslave me, they will know I resisted. It matters if it slows them down one second. And if I die, I died fighting. Maybe humanity will die fighting. These bastards will look down on a dead world full of dead people who would rather fight with everything they have than submit. We are not puppets.”
I gave her a golf clap, but was interrupted by something a little worse.
Someone yelling for us on the outside over a completely silent crowd. “Dear friends! Come out! Let us have a talk!”
I thought about it a moment. “I know that voice. This guy’s a jackass!”
I poked my head up first, then turned visible, then hauled up Venus when it seemed no one was in a sniping mood. I saw the alien ambassador again, who had looked so Nazi just a short while ago. Since then, he’d undergone a few changes. For starters, there was the way his skin looked a bit rotten, and how his eyes were all black with black goo dripping from them in lines down his cheeks. And how his mouth looked to be filled with nothing but more black slime, even covering his teeth. He wore one of those rough encounter suits his bodyguards had, but with round plugs or holes on the sides.
It wasn’t just him backing up the army of enslaved people around us, either. He brought friends. Most of them looked robotic. I saw spheres that waved some sort of barrels at us, usually with a smaller secondary sphere attached by a metal shaft. Balls and shaft aside, they also had a few of these things that looked like an orgy of octopi all pointed tentacles full of black slime toward the air above us. Some sort of artillery, then? I couldn’t see their bases very well.
There were definitely more of those bodyguard types, but with mechanical tendrils hanging off their suits. And giant discs with four big tentacles that ended in gleaming metal tips.
I suddenly understood why the Japanese so hated to see an invasion by tentacle monsters: no matter whether hostile or peaceful, you’re still getting fucked.
I nodded toward Venus. “You want to take this one, or do you want me to talk smack about his momma?” To the diplomat, I yelled, “Hey, your momma sucks so hard, they called her a whirlpool!”
Venus pointed toward the huge army with her chin. “I would tell you this isn’t helping, but I don’t think they stopped by for enrollment.”
“That’s right, this is a school. Maybe you ought to get the kids out here to learn some important lessons. See how many of them can name all the different types of word that ‘fuck’ counts as. Tell ya what, I’ll even spot them prepositions in light of these fuckers right fucking here.”
While she dropped down and made for the school, the voice of the aliens spoke up again, the slimy bastard. “It is time you joined us. The city is against you. Soon, the world!”
“Yeah, I’ve heard that before. You don’t frighten us, English pig dogs! Go and butter your bottom, sons of a silly person! I blow my nose at your ambassador, you and your sssssshitheads!” I started blowing him raspberries and patting the top of my helmet, the put my thumbs where my ears would be to make a funny gesture.
“This-!” started the ambassador, before I interrupted.
“I don’t wanna talk to you no more you empty-headed urinal cake licker. I would fart in your general direction if it didn’t make you horny. Your mother was a hamster, and your father did time for bestiality!”
With what amounted to wit on their planet, the alien asked, “Is there an adult at home I could talk to?!”
“No! Now go away, or I’ll taunt you a second time!” I gave him the V sign with one hand and the middle finger with the other.
That was when the slime-filled tentacle whipped up over the wall, wrapped around my waist, and tossed me into the middle of a huge crowd of people. They got all handsy, too. It was like being in the middle of a zombie movie, which would normally be a bad thing if I was a horror movie character. The mean, foul-mouthed lesbian who drinks and has lots of sex?
Then again, the joke’s on them. A regular person would be restrained. A regular person wouldn’t have Gecko’s patented fists of fuckin’ fury, motherfucker! Wham! Bam! Pow, right in the kisser! It’s not like the city would really miss a person or twelve. They have reinforcements, and busting a few skulls gave me room to get my feet under me and jump, narrowly avoiding an explosion from one of the tenta-mortars. Not exactly watching where I was going, I missed a large burst of blue laser from one of those floating orbs and shafts. It missed me because I clanged into it and spun off before I could even wreck its shit.
I landed ass first on someone’s head, snapping something on them in the process. Good thing, too. Helped me land on my feet, like a cat of death or a buttery piece of toasted destruction.
I landed, snapping elbows to faces and throats. Headbutt a nose, kick a ball. When the surging crowd gave me some room, I popped the Nasty Surprise out and used it to skewer some poor idiot in front of me, and the person behind him. I withdrew the mini chainsaw and and grabbed hold of the second person’s intestines. I drew them out through his friend and wrapped them around the throat of another attacker, tightening it into choking and tying it off in a knot.
My efforts to make a pretty bow went surprisingly undisturbed by other expendable slaves, but then one of those human-shaped suits stepped over the crowd using the tendrils that stuck out of its back and sides. It tried to put one through my neck, but I ducked and he impaled his friend’s face. I turned and deflected the next few blows aimed at me with my fists, though he backed me up. Despite the wild thrashing of that part of his body, he settled on the humanoid legs and slowly crumpled forward like some sort of folding-up puppet. I didn’t have all the room in the world, unfortunately, so I resorted to dodging in place until I could grab one. Before he could follow up or wiggle free, I slid under the legs of the encounter-suited liquid alien thingy, then jammed the end of the tendril right where the poop chute would be.
The tendrils flailed for a moment, so maybe that still hurt. I grabbed the base of a pair of them, set my boot on the one I shoved up his ass, and used the leverage to really ream it in there, spurting black goo all over him. To be fair, dark-colored fluid often gets on my boot when I stick it up there on a human.
Before I could dig my hand in to grab hold of its core, a mortar blast threw me onto it and tossed us both forward in a heap. Then a follow up blast reverberated the entire world around me. Felt like my teeth were going to shake out and left me unable to breath from the pressure of the blast. A third shot didn’t come in as quick succession, giving me a moment to roll to my feet and desperately try to jump for freedom. That one hit just after I left the ground.
The resulting mess of a jump spun me around enough that I almost lost my lunch and didn’t quite comprehend when I stopped flying. When I gained the ability to think again, i turned out I’d been caught by someone. I almost put my elbow through the jaw of the person who grabbed me before I noticed its yellow and black exoskeleton, antenna, and its compound eyes. You know, it’s not until you’re face to face with a half-bee, half-human monstrosity that you appreciate the beauty of its five eyes. He, or more likely she, soared above the crowd on wings that really shouldn’t have been able to lift it, let alone me.
But this is the battle where aliens are fighting superheroes, so perhaps it’s the wrong time to analyze things. And as it set me down in front of a small army of Buzzkills, it seemed like a pretty good time to give the analysis a second look.
I heard Beetrice a split second before I felt the giant, multi-armed bee person squeeze me against her yellow exoskeleton in a hug. “Weeeee! So happy to see you!” It had been an exclamation point sort of day by then.
“You’re here. Great. I mean, great! But maybe ease up on the lovin’? It’s time to do some seriously hating…”
Beetrice let me slip out of her arms to the ground while bee-people and slave-people fought before the earthen wall in the distance. “Sure thing, most important drone! But who do you want us to hate?”
“There’s not a lot of options here, but not the heroes. For once. Odd to say it, I know,” I pointed over at the wall where Master Academy capes had mounted it to blast the attackers.
“What about them?” she asked.
She picked me up again, but this time to show me another force, approaching to flank both the Buzzkills and slaves.
This time, it was a bunch of people with all sorts of mechanical add-ons marching in lockstep toward the fight, but stopping short of engaging anyone. Above them floated Technolutionary, floating in form-fitting purple armor. I hopped over in front of him and the metal monstrosities he’d built. They looked like more of his human-robots, but their bodies had various gadgets built into him. This guy watched too many Borg episodes of Star Trek.
Technolutionary laughed as he floated over. “How do you like my creations?” He held his hands out to encompass the mass of mechanized abominations. “The proud merger of my work and your natural gifts. You should be proud of our children.”
“I got ya, you’re back to the weird semi-romantic thoughts. Ya know what really turns me on, though? Killin’ aliens. Come on. You, me, a bunch of expendable idiots. Let’s make this massacre happen, right?”
Technolutionary stared down at me. “I’m afraid I can’t let you do that.”
I pointed toward the battle, where all other forces were hard at work beating the crap out of each other in an orgy of violence and explosions that would bring Michael Bay to tears. “Come on, man. Expendable stuff was made to be expended. This IS why we did all that collaboration, ya know. Saving my ass from the aliens.”
Technolutionary floated down and pressed a button on one of his forearms. A panel on his belt opened and some glowing thing floated out. He raised his hands and it floated over them before forming into a perfectly symmetrical crystalline structure about the size of his forearm. “I have saved you. This is the key.”
I looked it over. “Looks like a rock. Most people at least stick it in a ring first. What is it?”
He cupped it close. “This is a transponder from the aliens themselves. A sign of my willing cooperation.” He turned his head and spoke to his human bots. “Move on the heroes. Capture them all for our allies.”
He looked toward me, then pressed another button on his forearm, causing the metal face that covered his real one to fold up. He smiled at me with that freaky look in his eye, like he wanted to get freaky. “I did this for you and I. You will be safe, and I will usher in the next evolution of mankind.”
“What does it do?” I asked, probing for information.
A voice echoed forth from the crystal thing, a rough digitized voice. “This is a sign of your cooperation. Join us willingly and become a great asset, Psycho Gecko. Your ingenuity is welcome and your willingness to serve your best interests appears infamous by our understanding of Earth’s superhumans.”
The crystal glowed, then split into two identical smaller versions. Technolutionary added his last bit to the pitch. “Come on, Gecko. Join me. Save yourself. We can watch the world evolve together.” He raised his eyebrows. “You don’t even have to fight here. Let’s just leave this city and watch the fight from afar.”
“Kind of a shield up right now.” Off to my left, humans swarmed a crack in the wall while aliens worked to pull it apart.
“It lets you out.” Technolutionary smiled. “They will know where you are, but also not to attack you.”
It took a second of thought, but I stepped close and reached out with my left hand.
Technolutionary set down on the ground. “Yes. Smart girl.”
“And if I don’t want to help, but just have a truce here?”
That provoked a response from the crystal. “Parameters acceptable.”
A puzzled Technolutionary looked between me and the crystal, then at the inside of his eyelids after I tried to fist his eye hole. On the off chance it’d negate the transponder thingy, I left him alive. I shouldn’t have, but I did. It was more than he deserved. Then I took one of those damn floating crystals, which folded in on itself until it became small enough to fit in a pouch on my armor.
“Helping you isn’t exactly on my agenda. But if this gets me out of here and doesn’t get me killed…ok then.” I muttered to myself.
Like I said, don’t judge. A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do. It’s not like I’m going to help them. I’m just ensuring my survival. I mean, fucking alien invasion, dudes. What am I supposed to do?
I mean, I did call Beetrice up again and tell her to get her people and hide. Lock themselves in the bunker. All that. Gave her a fighting chance. I still never found Crash or Carl since all the rain and assimilation stuff. But I did get Moai out. He helped me haul out the Dimension Bomb. And me. I rode out on his head, the energy barrier around the edge of the city opening up to accommodate everything around me as we approached.
I didn’t look back while the others fought for their lives. I’d saved mine, after all.
That was the most important thing. Sure, right. The most important thing.
But it’s not my fight anymore.
Nope. Not my fight.