“I wouldn’t get too close. He’s a little…” Max warned someone off approaching me. He didn’t mean to offend me, I’m sure, especially because he was down in the bunker and I hunkered down in the top floor of my building. It didn’t used to be the top floor until the aliens carved it up. And with power back on in the city, I could listen in down in the bunker from up there. Good thing I was up there. Max was right.
It started with a few bad dreams. In this one, I had an eye looking right at me from the middle of a massive nest of tentacles and mouths that stretched for miles in all directions, more of which I saw as my viewpoint zoomed out. The ground around it swarmed with millions of things moving around, roaring, swinging claws around. I pulled out far enough to see larger tentacles waving out into space, a star in the background. Instead of a moon, a bloody skeleton in the fetal position orbited. Before I went any further, it reached out to grab me.
I awoke lunging and swinging my fist, knocking a gun out of Lone Gunman’s grasp. It took way more people to pull me off him than should have been trying, and apparently I’m the bad guy for pulling out the shiv and holding someone hostage until they turned over Lone Gunman to me. Then the electricity-powered supers interrupted the whole shebang and I didn’t even get to kill anyone.
I’d have done so anyway, but Beetrice got all independent being on her own with her own friends and acquaintances. But no, apparently I’m the one being unreasonable for wanting to execute all of them. When someone walked by, when someone said hello, when someone looked at me too long. They’re all really lucky I wasn’t having flashbacks, though.
Just when I thought it was safe to sleep outside my armor. Took a bit of Febreze, but I pulled it on again and went up high to evaluate the situation. The aliens have suffered defeat after defeat in the field. They lost their barrier, their ability to easily brainwash us, and any semblance of being peaceful. In the meantime, they’ve started open warfare across the face of the planet, with other cities now being cut off by alien ships. Yep, it looks like they have little reason to come back to Empyreal City. So far, so good. I might actually survive this.
No way. No how. It’s not going to be that easy. There’s always someone, somewhere, who is trying to murder me, and these guys are fated to do so. It’s all just a ruse, it has to be. They decided to lose here to lull me into a false sense of security, then started fighting other countries. So while they tried to live and let die, I tried to think up ways to get the D-Bomb to their fleet.
Just like with taking out the satellites, it’s important to understand the distances involved. Space is big. Like really, really big. I’d say you could take my word on there being large distances involved, but that doesn’t take into account the fact that it’s fucking big. My dick, my ego, your momma; all pale in comparison to the size of outer space.
No matter my thoughts, I had plenty of time to think them. Whatever happened to Lone Gunman, he didn’t try again that day. Probably went out to whet his murderous appetite with more of the alien hunting squads. There were still stragglers and raiders, but the number of armed ETs in the streets had diminished rapidly. The game of cat and mouse had reversed itself. The aliens had the technological advantage, but they had wanted Earth’s numbers for a reason.
I didn’t join them, though, because something about the entire situation still wasn’t right. I couldn’t figure it out, but I did know that the answer to all of it was the bomb I’d been putting together, calibrating, maintaining, but which I hadn’t armed or even made capable of remote arming. I mean, having a bomb ready that some tech-savvy enemy could turn on right beside me? Yeah, sure, right after I shove a pistol into the waistband of my sweatpants with the safety off and try to scratch my balls with a hatchet.
There was no getting around it. I needed an alien ship. A shuttle would probably do, as long as the Fluidics didn’t bother to question what one lone ship of theirs was doing flying back to the main fleet. And I really didn’t want to be the lone idiot on that shuttle trying to do that one. Uh uh.
I looked up at the ship over Empyreal City, pondering this problem, when I sensed something amiss. Like millions of lives crying out in terror and suddenly ending. I reached out with my personal wifi to figure out what happened and realized I couldn’t see or hear or feel anything. Everything had gone dead. Thirty seconds later, it all came on again, but everything I touched with my mind felt painful. Like my brain scraped against rough wood. It reminded me of that time I tried the Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster, but with less lemon and gold.
I recognized massive viral infection when I saw it. I’ve caused enough of it before, that’s for sure. You sweet talk a computer or two, just trying to find out which superhero has a thing for mouth-fucking fresh carp, and you sell that information off to a rival hero or villain to throw them off their game. Bada bing, bada boom, carpe diem. Perhaps that’s a poor choice of words.
At least I was fine. Whatever they had going on, my anti-virus systems had already adapted and kicked out any attempts. I could still communicate with Earth’s cute little proto-Skynet, but not as well as before, so I took the express elevator down to find chaos breaking out in the bunker.
“Dammit, what did you heroes do now?” I asked, stepping out of the elevator to find people crowded around televisions, radios, and my giant screen.
“Breaking News!” the monitor promised, except that the head of the anchor immediately went all fuzzy and snowy. Words appeared over anything on screen, a sentence at a time in multiple languages.
“We wanted a peaceful transition. You have made this impossible. We will rule you. You have twenty-four hours to formalize your submission. Until then, lights out.”
Then everything that received a signal or that connected to something with a signal shut down. TV, radio, the internet, computers, printers, fax machines, phones, cars with GPS. Anything that could have been infected by this virus just stopped, the power included.
“Again?! Can’t a guy enjoy a cold one in peace?” I asked, throwing my hands up.
Wildflower turned to look at me from next to the computer. “Gecko? Are you ok?”
I nodded. “Yeah, Apparently I’ve dealt with this before, though I don’t know…” I trailed off, thinking back. Way back. I thought back so far, I thought back to the future. In Transylvania, when I first stumbled into the future because a man’s attempt to freeze the world in time created localized spacetime ripples into the past and future, I had been severely debilitated by a virus I contracted in the same ripple set during this invasion.
Huh. Well, that makes a hell of a lot more sense than if I was doing ok and realized it was because I later on I time traveled to the past to give myself the cure I’d received from my time traveling self at this point. Suck it, Bill and Ted.
I shook my head. “Ok, so I’m fine. For me, software anti-virus is a little bit like the immune system at times.”
“Great! All we need to do is let the government dissect Gecko’s brain and we’ll be home free!” yelled Lone Gunman from behind me. I instinctively created a hologram of myself, turned my real body invisible, and stepped to the side.
Venus whirled from the monitor, gritting her teeth and pulling off the last bits of her power armor. Underneath that, she wore a minimalist version of her normal white, gold, and pink costume. “Nobody’s dissecting his brain, but perhaps he can hook into everything and undo this? Master Academy has a hacker who can help fight this virus, but there’s a chance others can get into your head while this is happening.”
My hologram shook its head.
“I know it’s a lot to ask for, but without computers, it’s only a matter of time before Earth surrenders…”
I let her keep talking while I snuck through the crowd until my armor could no longer maintain the projection. That riled people up. Ha! Another crowd of people angry at me. It gets old. No, they made it clear enough by now that I wasn’t their friend or even ally. Just another tool to get the job done even when they preferred in-fighting. Just another machine. A weapon.
What doesn’t get old? Strapping a mostly-built weapon of mass destruction to my back and sneaking out back to find the shot up old piece of junk shuttle that we’d stolen, then used to infiltrate the alien ship, then got shot up even more on its way back.
Because I knew what I needed to do, and it didn’t involve letting people into my brain either way. That would only fight a symptom, and I’m done trusting anyone to handle that. Everyone decided they didn’t want my help, need my help, or didn’t need to give me help, and everyone from Good Doctor to Lone Gunman is aiming for my death in a time when there are clearly bigger fish to fry.
It wasn’t that hard to fly the shuttle up, and docking was as easy as the big ship taking control of the shuttle’s systems to guide it into a docking bay full of enough stuff to kick my ass. Clearly, they’d learned a thing or two about boarding parties, and made sure to stand clear when they forced open the door, then went in with a hell of a lot of force. They had clearly learned a lesson some stormtroopers could have used in Star Wars.
Too bad I clinged to the top of the shuttle for the last part of the journey. Even with the extra weight of the Dimension Bomb on my back, it was child’s play to slide down to the floor and make my way past unobserved and through a door. Oh yeah, they’d learned from Star Wars. Unfortunately for them, they hadn’t paid as much attention to movies like Alien, Predator, or even Alien Versus Predator.
Because when it comes to Psycho Gecko, karma’s not just a bitch. It’s also one ugly motherfucker.
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“Even with the extra weight of the Dimension Bomb on my back, it was child’s play to slide down to the floor and make my way past observed and through a door.”
This is looking disturbingly like a suicide attack. On the other hand, if he does end up martyring himself to kill all the otherworldly hentai generators, Lone Gunman will probably hate him even more, and that would be funny.
I finish my archive binge and it ends here? I suppose there are worse cliffhangers to end on, but still.
I guess I’ll just have to keep coming back.
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