Ah, Antarctica, the continent I haven’t yet visited. Well, on this version of Earth. On mine, it’s a big place in the computing industry. Here, it’s nothing. Nada. Zip. El Zilcho. Hmm…El Zilcho…I wonder if it’s too late to change my supervillain name. Eh, probably is.
So I landed here and did my damnedest to get a signal out. Considering how many different deities I must have offended by now, my damnedest is guaranteed to be some of the damnedest damnedesting out there. Just like that time Ben Franklin beat Zeus’s ass and stole lightning from the gods. That’s right, I said it! Whatcha gonna do, Zeus, zap me? Zap with a thunderstorm in Antarctica? That’s what I fucking thought, you cow-fucking, swan-dicked asshole. Not many gods have myths about giving a woman a golden shower.
Just wait’ll I get started on Buddha, too. Epitome of laziness, that one.
Oh, alright, I guess I should talk about how I’m surviving down here. I mean, I sent out some SOSes to friends and allies, but hearing back from them is pretty much impossible. Making it worse, when I tried El Presidente over in Isla Tropica, his cell phone and computer still suffered the effects of the alien virus.
But I managed to hang on, using the crashed shuttle as shelter. I tried to use it as transport, but the engines aren’t having it. Much of the shuttle isn’t having it, actually. Except for the damn anti-gravity. I studied up on that to the best of my ability while trying to figure out how to get back to civilization, and while attempting to determine if the ship used any organic and/or edible components. In the end, I did find some food from a source I preferred not to eat from, but this slowed me down a great deal.
The sound of dogs further distracted me on Friday. I ran out and grabbed one under my right arm, only for the rest of the ones on the sleigh to try and mob me. How uncouth. Food is not supposed to fight back like that! Before I could dig in or even finish properly murdering them, I heard a human voice. It was a man on the back of the sled, looking out at me from ever-so-puffy clothes, sporting a beard of wonderful thickness and warmth. “Oh my god, guys, it’s an alien. It’s killing the dogs! I’m about 4 miles west-southwest of the base.”
He didn’t get to tell them what else, if anything, he intended to do before I beat him upside his head with a dead dog.
It wasn’t long before a helicopter swept in from overhead to find the dead dogs scattered all around some unearthly-looking meat thing. It had three arms, legs that split off into two lower legs, and no skin. The pilot landed the chopper down far enough that there’d be no risk when a passenger hopped out of it, switched on his flamethrower, and lit that sucker up. “Watkins! Watkins, where are you?!” the flamer called out. Then he spotted a pair of bloody legs sticking out from around the back end of the shuttle. When he spotted the wounded, bearded man, he knelt. “Jesus, Watkins!” He turned to the pilot, “Mac, get over here! We need to get Watkins back to the Doc!”
The two carried their surprisingly heavy friend into the rear of the chopper. Or who they thought was their friend.
That’s why, when Captain Lightning found me on Saturday, I was sitting in the commissary of an old Antarctic weather research station, alone, enjoying a plate of some of the best ribs I ever had. Their quality was due more to my lack of food than to any secret recipe of herbs and spices. I don’t even care for ribs. I usually prefer chicken.
“Good God, Gecko, what have you done?” Captain Lightning said, looking around at the mess I’d made of the place. “This is the last place I looked and everywhere else looks like a horror movie. What did you do?”
I burped, then tried to look offended. “Me? What makes you think I did anything?”
He just looked back at me.
I rolled my eyes. “Granted, that’s a compelling argument, everything here was done in self defense. They brought me in and dropped me off at the clinic, first of all.”
“The doctor’s dead and there’s blood everywhere. That’s a lot more than any human body carries. I know,” the red, white, and gold WW2-era superhero glared at me.
I shook the rib at him in my right hand. “Stop jumping to conclusions. I got in by pretending to be a friend of theirs who was hurt. At least one of them had a flamethrower, too, so they were likely going to burn first and ask questions later if the doctor called out and told them I was actually a guy in a suit. And they did all that with the blood later.”
“Pull the other one,” he said. I glanced down at his tights, wondering to which side he let his dangle angle, then shook my head.
“It’s true. See, after getting rid of the doctor, I pretended to look like him. Then, one of them stopped in to check on the two of us and saw a dead one and a live one. Well, he ran off to tell the others, so I knew I didn’t have too long and went to go round up some sled dogs. They were being completely unreasonable. I guess they could tell they didn’t know me, and it occurred to me they could use the dogs to sniff me out, so of course I had to kill all of them.”
“Of course.” The sarcasm dripped off the Captain’s words like grease off freshly cooked ribs. Mmm.
I took another bite before continuing. “Well, by then they were starting to get entirely the wrong idea. One of them came running to check on the dogs with a fire ax in hand, so I had to kill him, hide the body, and pretend to be him. Then the flamethrower guy came in with the rest of the bunch and decided to burn all the bodies. I only found out why when we were all having some downtime, too. Somehow, they got it into their heads that they were being attacked by some sort of crashed alien shapeshifter that was consuming their bodies in order to mimic them. I swear, that’s what they said.”
Captain Lightning had lowered his head and rubbed at the bridge of his nose with his fingers. “Jesus. I know you had to be the one to disable the communications equipment.”
I shook my head. “We were sitting around talking about all this when an old guy left to go smoke a cigarette, and I was about to head after him so I could slip find something with the coordinates, or maybe a radio to civilization. Too late, we all came running to find the old fart had smashed up the radios and computer. He got outside and destroyed their little cell tower, too, at which point flamethrower guy burned him under the mistaken belief he was the alien. Or an alien. At that point, Mac the helicopter pilot suspected they had more than one.”
“I tried to spend the rest of that night fixing something up with the radio, but didn’t get far before everyone got called in to the clinic. This white guy with the curlyfro hair, he had some sort of mental break and thought he might have been one. That’s where all the blood came from. They had a bunch of it in storage there for transfusions and stuff, and he just went to town busting it up and smearing it all over the place. Mac tried to hold him and sedate him, but flamethrower dude burned them both. Then some Bob Ross-looking motherfucker thought the flamer was getting too flamethrower-happy and tried to hit him when his back was turned. So flamethrower dude flamethrowered him.”
“How many were left at that point?”
“Me, flamethrower dude, and this other guy with a great voice. Flamethrower dude was white, voice guy was black, if you need help keeping up with the corpses. Flamethrower dude got this crazy idea in his head that since we couldn’t trust each other and had some duty to make sure this infectious alien didn’t reach civilization. He wanted to blow everything up.”
“That’s why the helicopter is an exploded mess outside?” Lightning asked.
I nodded. “Black guy said ‘screw this’ and tried to leave. Flamethrower dude thought he was an alien.”
“And then it was just you two. I know how that ended. I saw the body outside. Is there a reason you shoved the flamethrower up where you shoved it?”
I shot finger guns at the Captain. “It’s just kinda my trademark at this point. Not like the guy didn’t deserve it.”
“Uh huh.” Lightning pulled a chair out from the table in front of me and sat down. “Jesus, Gecko.”
“You may also call me Psycho Christ, but it doesn’t have much of a ring to it,” I winked at him over another bite of ribs.
Another voice called out from the hallway, “Hey, I got a signal! Your friends couldn’t tell me much. It’s just a weather station that’s isolated most of the year. He said people get cuckoo in situations like this, but no one reported seeing…oh, hi Gecko.” Venus stepped around the corner, having foregone her power armor so she could load up on a nice, warm coat.
I set my food down to wave at her with my right. “Heya, Venus. He found me, and I just got done explaining that it’s totally not what it looks like out here.”
“That’s probably a lie,” she said, stepping through the doorway, then holding out a bloody appendage. “By the way, I think you dropped this at the crash site.” She set a skinless severed arm on the table. Even as burnt as it looked, it had clearly been gnawed on to the point that little meat clung to the bones. The blackened zirconium fingernails were a dead giveaway, though.
“Aww, how thoughtful,” I said and unsealed my left glove to expose the empty space therein. I grabbed the arm and shoved it up into that sleeve, then struggled to keep it in while I stuck the glove back onto the arm. “The guy who investigated the crash mistook me for an alien, see, and I had this thing laying around. As soon as I get some thawed-out nanites, I’ll see about getting it reattached. Still, ol’ Lefty’s a lifesaver. I almost starved waiting on help to show.”
That led to an uncomfortable silence.
“So, when do we go?” I asked, hoping to break it.
“Well…” Venus started, then moved to take a seat next to the Captain and opposite me.
“We came as soon as we could to try and make sure you were safe,” Captain Lightning spoke. “It’s clear you found someplace warm and have food to eat now.”
I looked between the two, wondering if this was going where I hoped it wasn’t going. “Yeah, and…?”
Venus answered. “We’ve got a lot to clean up and it would still be questionable to bring you in. We would be expected to detain you.”
“I saved the world!”
“You apparently spent most of the past year quietly building up a network of alliances, secretly constructing weapons, and figuring out how to give all sorts of people the same superpowers, then used a weapon of mass destruction capable of global catastrophe to commit what might be genocide.” Venus summed up everything in a way that almost made me look like the bad guy. But at least she reached out to place her hand over mine. Then she moved it over to the other hand, because she realized Lefty couldn’t feel much these days. “People are scared of you, but we know what you did. Please, for me and for you, wait here just a little longer. Captain Lightning would be told to drop you off in prison if he flies you in now.”
Yeah, that’s about par for the fucking course with me. “Fine. Geez. I only saved everyone on Earth. I swear, I’m starting to think you humans are all masochists.”
Venus almost let herself grin at that one before unzipping her coat. She pulled out two things from within: a Long Life nanite syringe and a satellite cell phone. “We’re not all human anymore, Gecko. Here, stay safe and stay in touch. I mean it, call me in awhile. This has excellent reception out here.”
And with that, they left me, poor Gecko. Damn Captain Lightning and his speed. I’m definitely glad to have my arm reattached as well, though I think that sums up this new situation nicely: the heroes didn’t just give me the finger, they gave me the whole limb.
At least neither of them stopped to ask how a bunch of guys at an isolated weather station still had any ribs in the freezer after being so long away from the rest of the world.