Good news everyone! No, don’t assume crash position, this is legitimate good news. I remembered to call Captain Lightning. Well, he called me, wondering what took me so long to remember him, but he’s still around. And he didn’t mind Isla Tropica that much. He said it reminded him of the old days. I didn’t ask which old days. He lived through a lot, including disco. The continued existence of the island suggests he didn’t mean the disco days.
He also informed me that his friends in the Secret Service had reached out to him. “I met some old friends at a neutral location they both trusted. The Bureau has egg on their face and the President is purging it.”
Ooh, a political purge. Good times. “I’m sure that’ll look good on the news. Then again, it’s literally now controlled by inhuman beings who struggle to maintain human form and just want to use people as fodder in their meaningless wars, and will manufacture any news they want to fit their agenda. So I guess nothing’s changed over at Fox News. But at least anybody who ever thought one group controlled the entire media has a basis for comparison so they’ll realize how dumb they sounded.”
“Has anyone ever told you that you become an asshole when you’re nervous? You might be like that commercial. Have a Snickers.” Cap pondered.
“Good to see you’re in such a good mood. And good to see that whole thing worked out for you. I had a bunch of organizations waiting to debrief me, too. Problem is, I know exactly what those coordinates the CIA gave me were for. Maybe if I hadn’t ever been invited to their little Latin American torture school before, I would have gone. They picked the wrong time to understimate me, that’s for sure.
“You aren’t trustworthy,” said Captain Obvious.
“Actually, I am quite trustworthy…when you want someone dead. I’m trying to use that, I think. Yeah, that’s giving me an idea. But I do need your help.”
“Get me the President. I don’t mean literally. He’s probably useless in a fight. Just get him on my side.”
“He isn’t cruisin’ for a bruisin’. He has to cut the gas while they’re in control. Make a weakpoint and we will be here for you.”
“Gotcha. In the meantime, I hope he’s finding ways to keep people from those clinics of theirs. And watch for assassins. The Fluidics have been gunning for me, when they aren’t blowing up entire buildings to take me out.”
“I don’t fear them in an open fight, but we need to win an open fight to get the world on our side.”
“True, the world does like a winner. I can blood them, though. I know I can.”
“You’re sure, Gecko? You’re punching above your weightclass.”
“Skill can divert clumsy raw power, and precisely applied force can solve many problems. That’s one of my specialties. I have room to maneuver now, room to ambush them, even to hide in plain sight. I can do this.”
“We’re counting on it.”
Of course, after such a badass boast from me, there was some awkward silence while until I was like, “Well, ok then. See ya later.”
But it wasn’t just empty words. I could get in, especially with the Dark Triad reassambled, Forcelight doing my bidding, Lone Gunman pointed in the right direction, and a little magical oomph from the Basford wing of The Trust. But that wasn’t the only organization I could get my hands on around here. There’s still Master Academy, which I don’t want to approach for obvious reasons. But while I work up a plan of attack to get them on my side, I have a darker group to recruit.
Hephaestus/Faustus. A dual criminal organization operating out of several fronts around the nation. The Hephaestus side handles scientific and technological enhancements to give people powers; Faustus prefers magical rituals and artifacts. I kinda copycatted them when I agreed to try and give people my powers with Technolutionary. But I had that under control, as opposed to trusting an organization I once fought. Then again, I fought Technolutionary before working with him, so I guess I was fucked any way I went.
Still, Hephaestus/Faustus probably held more of a grudge. Sure, they were being unknowingly led by Gunman to provoke me into a fight with them, but I did wreck a lot of their shit until the big confrontation that exposed him. I haven’t gotten any more work offers from them since that nasty business, but they haven’t attacked me anymore. An unofficial truce, I guess y’all could say.
I made things tough on them and haven’t been back to their Los Angeles front since then. I wore my armor. It seemed prudent, and I figured it would easily get me access given my ability to hide. But I’ve been wrong a bit lately. Like when I walked through the doors like any regular person, doors like any regular doors, and everything stopped for just a moment. It was like running into lag in real life. Then everything got caught up. I watched everyone in the lobby hurry into elevators while red lights flashed and a translucent net of energy stretched across every door, every window, and presumably through any wall.
I looked around at the situation, then walked over to one of the elevators and pressed the up button. I tapped my foot and pretended to glance at a watch, despite having a clock in my HUD that showed the whole lag thing was a result of temporaly shenanigans.
That’s right. I call temporal shenanigans!
A squeak of an intercom preceded a conversation instead of an attempted execution. “Psycho Gecko. You grace us with your presence. You shouldn’t be here. Why are you?”
“I am because I think. Or is it the other way around? Listen, I know we have our differences, bodiless Hephaestus voice.”
“Faustus. There has been a change in leadership.”
I walked around the lobby“Right. Fine. Hey, at least it had some benefit for you guys. I’m not here to start any more fights. Well, I suppose that’s not entirely true. I want to fight the Fluidic aliens and I could use a hand.” I grabbed a metal ashtray off the floor and tossed it at the door. It broke through, then ricocheted off the energy barrier right back at me.
“What do you have to offer Faustus?”
“How about not getting wiped out by Fluidics? They’re here for everyone. They might use your research and equipment, but you’re nothing but a warm body to them.” I held my hands out to indicate the whole building. “Nice place you have here. Lots of people. Be a shame if they took all of you over just to settle some grudge on another planet. Come on, this should be fuckin’ easy to figure out! They want to take you over, I’m fighting them, this shit writes itself!”
I emphasized it with a kick to the elevator door that should have dented it. “Damn, good construction here. My compliments. You know they can destroy entire buildings? You better make sure the ones in your ranks don’t get the word out. I’ve still seen them blast a building apart. Shredded wheat. And for some reason, they’re willing to do that just to get to me.”
“Not just you. The world doesn’t revolve around you. Since Empyreal City was shut off, several buildings have suffered those attacks. We cleaned up the attempts to inflitrate us, but suffered setbacks. We can handle them.”
“Bullshit!” I hopped up next to the elevators to swipe a camera off the wall, then slid down to the floor. Friction slowed me a bit. “They have spaceships that can cut off entire cities! They have an army eight million strong! Damn, if you’re this stupid, why even bother?”
I turned and started heading for the energy barrier. I examined it for a moment, ignoring the “magical anomaly” warning and instead making an estimate based on the color light it threw off and started charging my gauntlets. “Energy. Matter in a non-matter form. You can’t truely trap me with this field. All you can do is waste my time.”
Before I could gather sufficient charge and make a new exit, all the light disappeared except from the barrier and the energy sheaths around my gloves. Then holes appeared in the net, like it was rotting, the strings dying off.
When it tore open, a fireball hurled me back across the lobby. Before I could stand, lightning zapped me. It didn’t affect me the same way, but then most lightning isn’t lime green. No need for a quick reset, but that didn’t stop me from getting hit upside the head with a hunk of ice. Fire, lightning, ice. I rolled to the side, not able to think too well after the blow except to wish I could summon Ifrit and Shiva to this fight.
It gave me enough time to at least see what hit me. It floated through the windows, not breaking it. Just kinda phasing through it. It was another of those saucers, but all black. Arranged long the outer rim equidistantly were twenty U-shaped extensions. It took me a moment to realize that there were forty thin black whips, each from an end of a U. One of the lights above exploded and threw a purple ball at this thing, but a pair of whips did something, formed some sort of runes or something. When the purple ball hit it, it dissolved.
Sweet zombie Jesus, we got magic aliens.
Lest y’all think the distraction gave me a break, think different. While it handled all that and I tried to stand, more of its magical machinations left me mystically manacled, the malicious motherfucker. I was stuck to the ground, then taunted and teased by a blue torrent of flames that threatened to melt my armor and cook me like bacon. And I really wanted to save my bacon.
I totally would have, too, but Faustus beat me to the punch. The elevators opened and were immediately under attack when more of the thin lines threw attacks at him. Some were answered with counterattacks. Some weren’t. Yet more odd-colored lightning heralded the arrival of men in robes, at least one wearing a soft-meat crown. A dark purple glow grew between that one’s hands, in time to a purple whirlpool that appeared underneath the magic saucer.
As it grew, the saucer was drawn down, then struggling to rise. The magic manacles holding me weakened, then broke entirely about the time the dessicated arms rose from the whirlpool. Like beef jerky on bone. Long fingernails on exposed bones reached for the Fluidic assassin. It tried to strike at the arms, but that did nothing except take away from its ability to fight off the others. Up until the arms grabbed hold of it, dragged it into the whirlpool. It turned over on its side, half of it staying up. Then the whirlpool exploded into mist, taking half of the saucer with it.
One of the robed mages walked over and grabbed half of the core. Others gathered around that one, then they all disappeared except for the one who wore a crown of upside-down organs strung around it. That one approached, a shadow hiding its face absolutely, even from my view. It spoke with the same voice of the speakers, though I wouldn’t be surprised if it was just a middleman. “The enemy of my enemy is my enemy’s enemy. We will oppose the aliens in our own way and time.” It gestured to the door. “Get the fuck out.”
“Fine, be that way you ignorant fuckers. But you better show up when the big battle happens, because there’s going to be one.” I gave it a middle finger out of thanks, then left, once again wishing I could do to everyone what I did to Forcelight.
But I have no choice but to hope for the generosity of people so devoted to their own petty individual concerns that they would never go after a threat to everyone. Now who is the truly untrustworthy person here?