“Busy bees, Gecko. Beijing, Empyreal City, Tokyo, Johannesburg, and almost Washington D.C. Captain Lightning earned his pardon.” Max punctuated each of the cities that suffered the alien chemical control rain by passing around drinks that had purple, blue, and green yellows with floating pineapples on top. I had no clue what they were, like much of what Max throws together, but I was willing to risk these. All things considered, what’s the worst they could do? The aliens are the ones supposed to kill me, so I’ll just worry about accepting fruity colored drinks from them. So Sam, Holly, Max, and I enjoyed our drinks toasting the loss of some fairly big cities, while Moai finished his almost-Washington drink. It wasn’t the same as the others. For one thing, it was on the rocks.
“Anybody else giving a damn and fighting back?” I asked, sipping on my fruity drink. I suppose I tend to focus on my own problems to the exclusion of the rest of the world, but I’m hardly unique there.
Max settled in across the table, between Holly and Sam, then nodded to me. “Yes, my dear.”
I raised an eyebrow, as did Holly and Sam. And Max, too, who said, “You wouldn’t react that way if I said it to a man Gecko.”
“He has a point,” I responded, shrugging. “And it’s good that I’m not the only sane person on earth.”
Max grinned. “The rioters in Russia would disagree with you taking that title for yourself.”
“Everyone would disagree with you calling yourself the only sane person,” muttered Holly.
She had a point. “It’s not my fault they keep handing it to me. But, as I’ve often thought, I’m not insane so much as just reacting to an insane world. Now, bottoms up. We’ve got some more reacting to do.” I took a big sip before setting my glass down on the table, right next to five signal interceptors.
I had a message I wanted heard, and for that I needed a lot of help all over the place. Like Forcelight. She hasn’t been taking her captivity well, though you’d never know it to look at her. It’s very distracting having to control her, too, but at least her company’s access to nanites kept her from breaking away. All I had to do was keep administering them to her while the old ones’ orders superseded the general reparative programming they’d been given to work on anyone. It all comes down to reading the DNA, which is likely going to cause a hell of a lot of trouble with some folks.
I know, I know. Tiny machines that read DNA? How is that even possible? What’s next, tiny machines that can take half a strand of DNA and use chemicals to create the complementary opposite side? Madness! Madness, sorcery, and biology.
Imperfect analogy aside, I’ve had to fly a fine line as Forcelight to keep The Good Doctor from suspecting I had taken over his daughter’s body. Well, ok, it was pretty easy to keep him from thinking that. All I had to do was not suggest that to him. Even if I acted strange, I could blame it on any number of things but that. Like when Forcelight flew back in after visiting a couple of local TV stations, then immediately turned on the TV in her living room. Good Doctor thought it odd, but he had enough to deal with between getting caught up on news, asking old friends for help, and riposting Lone Gunman’s barbs.
That trio in Kingscrow saw the same thing that could have been seen anywhere else in the country, from L.A. to D.C., from Empyreal City to Paradise City, from Kingscrow to Memphis, though those last two aren’t as far away as the others I mentioned.
And what they all saw was, apparently, a cheap motel bathroom as viewed from a small, round camera balanced on a towel rack. At least until I dropped the invisibility. “Hello out there, TV land. It’s time for Uncle Gecko’s Molestation Minute again. Ah, but that’s the sort of attitude that makes y’all try to turn the channels. Go ahead. Aha! See? Still here.”
Yeah, I kinda didn’t want anyone covering anything else.
“Now, right about now there’s a bunch of buildings spontaneously combusting all over the country because those Fluidic aliens up above are trying to take me out. They’re kinda scared of me like that, probably because I’m one of the few people who is actually doing anything about them. Though that probably explains any other mysterious explosions y’all might have noticed that got rid of xenophobic elements. Don’t try too hard, Fluidics.” I showed them why. The bathroom shifted and transformed into a view in front of Mt. Rushmore. Then in front of the White House. Then in front of a bunch of rampaging movie Indians from a Western, a stripping cop, Colin Mochrie of Whos Line Is It Anyway making funny faces, and finally settling on Times Square in Empyreal City.
They could attack wherever they wanted, but they’d destroy an awful lot of places before getting me.
“Listen, everybody knows what the aliens are doing. It’s mind control. Forget the crazy chemtrail stuff some people have been preaching, this is actual mind control. They stimulate the growth of an organ in the neck that gives them control over the human body. And they did that to the entirety of Empyreal City, which I know because I had been there. I got out of there, but I had been there. Saw it happen with my own two eyes.”
A familiar voice interrupted my feed, which I could see since I was both recording and watching at the same time. “Where’d they dig this copy up?” asked another Psycho Gecko, this one standing in front of a black and white atom bomb test. The world may not revolve around me, but I was starting to wish the Fluidics knew that. “I don’t know much about all this alien mess, but I know I wasn’t anywhere near Empyreal City after those jackass Starfleet wannabes almost tossed me in a hole and threw away the hole. Now stop cramping my style, copy.”
With that, my doppelganger pulled a screaming woman close, put one arm around her shoulders, and tore her head off with the other.
I let him keep broadcasting, instead doing a sort of side-by-side editing job that put us both on the air at once. “See? They’ve even been trying to copy me. Just ask the Master Academy about that one. But they used a suit full of one of the slimy black aliens to do so. Hey, fake Psycho Gecko, let’s see you do this!” I pulled off my helmet, revealing the face of Norma Mortenson, my secret identity, to the world.
“…you win this round,” grumbled the copy, before walking offscreen to the side. I cut off his interruption, all while reaching over and grabbing my camera off the towel rack. The view shifted as I set my cybernetic eye back in my socket.
“Here’s the rundown, folks: aliens are bad. I’m bad, too, but at least I don’t want to enslave everyone and destroy the Earth. And since all the heroes, all the alleged ‘good guys,’” and here I used finger quotes, “Aren’t doing shit, that just leaves me. And anyone who will help me. I may be a monster, but I’m a monster pointed in their direction. And someone’s got to do the right thing. Since everyone else on the list has shirked their responsibilities, it falls to me. So I’m announcing now that I’m about to leave the City of Angels and head straight for Empyreal City. When I get there, I’m taking back that city, the ship, everyone they’ve captured, and I’m going to destroy their fleet. I’m going to do it whether you’re on my side or not, but somebody’s got to do it. Now on to the announcement I have to direct at the aliens themselves: I’m coming for you.”
I cut it off there and donned my helmet again, strolling out of the motel where everyone waited. Max and his girls were taking their own car. Ethan Basford had brought along a vintage green Jaguar he would be riding in. Moai and I had a bright yellow convertible, the better for Moai to feel the wind on his face.
It was not exactly an impressive caravan.
It must have impressed someone, though. After a day on the road in which I’d swear we were being followed by human-sized flyers from afar, we stopped at a gas station in the middle of nowhere and saw my little message had gotten a response. The barrier came down. A figure approached suddenly to look into the cameras.
She’d changed quite a bit. Seemed like her cheeks were a bit thinner. Oh, and there was the way her eyes glowed through her visor and a metal implant showed through her cheek. It was Venus in her power armor, but it was her new overlords who spoke. “We will bring you peace, starting with this threat from the supervillain Psycho Gecko. Everyone, you are safe with our friends from the stars. They have done wonderful things here in Empyreal City. No crime, no pollution. It is the beginnings of a paradise.”
They forced her to smile. Those assholes. Made me so mad, even Forcelight frowned where she and her group were packing their things to head out to Empyreal City. The Kingscrow group got the idea from my broadcast and decided it would be better to head there first and see what they could do to take down the barrier. It was better than letting me get there and start deploying weapons of mass destruction. Or so Good Doctor and Lone Gunman thought.
“If Psycho Gecko hates us, it must be for good reason. We welcome his hatred. Let him come,” Venus finished before leaving the startled news team behind and leaping back over to the city.
“Shit’s crazy, right?” asked a man of indeterminate brownness who spent most of our time in the store eyeing the screen instead of us. Too bad for him we robbed the shit out of it. We even sent Basford around to suck the gas out of the clerk’s car with a hose. We could have paid for anything, but…why?
I brushed aside a Slim Jim that slightly obstructed the view on the tiny TV set, glaring at the screen as the station replayed images of Venus and long-distance shots of Empyreal City as it looked now. The people and cars didn’t move right. It was too organized.
I reached out and touched the flat image of Venus as she talked. I thought back to the odd bodies of the extraterrestrials: black goo surrounding a brittle core. I didn’t know much about them, even the basics of how they sense things or eat. “Do they defecate, Venus?”
I narrowed my eyes as she leaped away in replay, then growled, “They will.”