It’s been a bit boring here, but I have indeed kept out of the way while the world tried to get its shit together. Officially, at least. It’s given me time to practice making an impenetrable ice fortress, which I should have tried to do around the crashed shuttle in the first place. I also used the time to drag the shuttle over here. Well, part of the way. I really wish I left those dogs alive.
Aside from that, it’s been good for catching up on some games I never got around to playing, which is something I abused Venus’s phone privileges to talk about. “…anyway, it completely forgets about the lore of the first game, but you really should see Kerrigan in that tight little Ghost suit. Teardrops, I’m telling you.”
“Gecko, you woke me up to talk about boobs?” Venus asked. Surely, my nemesis would rue the day she gave me a satellite phone with her number saved in it.
Thinking back to what her curves actually looked like under her close-fitting white, gold, and pink costume, I responded, “I didn’t mean to make you jealous. Yours are perfectly nice, too.”
“I’m not really devoted to a particular size range, either. Petite is nice, as is curvy. Yours are a little on the small side, but I bet they’re plenty of fun.”
“I know all sorts of neat tricks for boobs now that I’ve had them myself. I kinda miss them, actually.”
“I said stop! That’s the sort of thing people talk about with someone much closer than we are. We’re not besties or a couple.”
“I know, Venus dear, and if you’re worried about someone trying to hurt me or kill me to take me away from you, just remember that I told fate to go fuck itself here recently with that whole ‘alien invasion’ thing. I figure you have some issues between your parents and your last boyfriend dying.”
“You killed him, which is another reason there’s nothing between us and never will be. Please, please let me sleep. I have a lot to do. We’re taking the pressure off the police and National Guard, which is hard enough without supervillains trying to carve up everything.”
“Uh huh. Ok, I see how it is.” I hung up on her. With everything all messed up, they didn’t want me trying to do anything like take over or cause a lot of trouble. And no chance of Venus and I being friends or more? I mean, the more thing was pushing it. Until recently, we weren’t even the same species. It’d have been bestiality. Still, it’s a nice thing to tease her with, and revealing. Not even friends. Tsk, tsk.
She’s got this thing about rehabilitating me. She’s tried to be friendly before, tried to talk to me. Made deals. Beat me a couple times. Ok, that part wasn’t friendly, but at least I know she isn’t delusional enough for it to be real. When it comes down to it, she’s acting and she knows it. It’s just some tactical choice she makes because the only other ways to get rid of me involve huge human rights violations. Or leaving me stranded in Antarctica.
I felt oddly disappointed in that, too. The friend thing, not Antarctica. I can get out of here if I really want to, in part because they were doing such a good job cleaning up. I didn’t know how they managed it, but I’ve managed to reach out and find almost nothing of that virus left. That doesn’t mean it didn’t do all kinds of damage, but it’s still worrying. It took a hell of a lot of work just to beat that in me, and they had their MasterFrame supercomputer and some super hacker type to work with me. Rooting it out of everything else took a bit of work.. Or maybe some sort of counter-virus.
Even though Venus thought she left me in an impotent position, I stretched out my senses to search through everything.
Carl made it. Moai, too. Max, Sam, Holly, and Doc. That covered my villainous acquaintances. I caught a glimpse of Leah, my temporary ward with the super ability to change the colors of things, kicking a little ass. Some guys were robbing a pharmacy. Despite having what would be considered by many to be a useless power, I had trained Leah as a sort of all-purpose janitor. She mopped the floor with those guys. One guy really shouldn’t have worn sunglasses, and she messed with the windows so they never saw her coming. Then again, they do that in bathrooms and bedrooms, too.
In short, the world had gone to hell in a handbasket. Riots, mass hysteria, cats and dogs living together. Or at least that’s what it looked like with the fact that everybody reports on the out of the ordinary. Not a whole lot of blogs or news posts go, “Nothing new happened today. Same shit,” so it wasn’t quite as bad as it would seem. On top of that, there were little things people missed.
I saw food riots and I saw men and women giving away meals. I saw a gang try to rob a pharmacy, and I saw a teenager carry his grandmother a couple miles to a medical camp. A supervillain got driven off to prison after trying to take over Salt Lake City, while one in Vancouver had to escape from a bunch of thankful hugs at a mall when the authorities showed up to rescue the folks he’d been protecting there. Heros, villains, military, law enforcement, firefighters, doctors and paramedics, civilians; they were good and bad at once. Mostly good, even if the bad stood out more in people’s mind. It helped that I could watch it all from a distance in my own personal Fortress of Solitude.
There were even a few interesting mysterious interventions, like a messed-up looking salaryman in Japan looting a bit of food for his family after curfew while this gang with giant pompadours roamed around with chains and knives and stuff. They tried to Molotov a cat, so it worked out well when traffic lights started lighting up and directed the man around them. It had a happy ending for the gang, too. A group of Yakuza were out and about helping to enforce the curfew and the same traffic signals sent them right to the pompadours. In anticipation, I found the weather station’s stash of popcorn.
Say what you will, but the Yakuza can be quite humanitarian. It’s the whole Robin Hood thing: if criminals help out every now and then, it makes regular folks more sympathetic and cooperative.
That’s not to say everything was about recovery. There were still aliens about, but they weren’t the threat they used to be. They were in retreat or in hiding. Some had disappeared over oceans, and the Australian government sighted at least one heading into the outback. In fact, I got myself nice and plugged in just to check on one fight still going on at a factory in Japan. A couple families hid inside at one point, only a group of Fluidics wandered in looking for their own hiding space. My eyes were cameras, the intercom system my ears. I saw as a pair of encounter suits with back tentacles searched through the machinery while a trio of saucers floated up high to scout.
I smirked to myself.
Robotic arms meant for heavy lifting dug their clamps into one of the encounter suits and squeezed. The suit flattened there, but bulged in a couple other places. Then the arms pulled and sent black goop spilling out over the floor. I then used them to try and crush the core. The alien’s partner turned and struck at those arms with tentacles tipped in pointed metal before smaller arms that handled more delicate work dragged it onto a conveyor belt behind it. There, I activated a laser and carved my way through it.
The saucers popped out little barrels, so at least they weren’t the magic ones I’ve had so much trouble with. They can manipulate so many smaller tentacles into forming various runes and spells…well, these guys couldn’t. They just fire barely-visible bursts that cut through the robot arms and left the severed portions glowing from heat where they’d been struck.
Another arm off by the wall grabbed a fire extinguisher off the wall and tossed it at them. They shot that, too, but it sent out a nice white fog that obscured their vision while the smaller arms worked on the laser, adjusting it so it could be turned and aimed without getting trashed. Meanwhile, I used one of the remaining heavy lifters to toss the cut off pieces of the others at the saucers. In the middle of that, they missed it when the laser shot out and…did jack fucking squat. Well, this could have gone better.
At least the civilians weren’t in my way anymore, except that gave me fewer things to throw at the aliens. Wait. Huh, the civilians got away. Didn’t do me much good for beating the aliens, who finished cutting through just about every piece of equipment they could find in the place. But at least it was a start. I took out a couple of them.
I wondered if I could pull off that little trick a bit closer to home. I pulled out of Japan and zoomed into Washington D.C. instead. A loony at a soup kitchen threatened to blow himself up because these were the end times, except he used a cell phone when he put together his little bomb. I took care of that, leaving him looking like quite the idiot when he pushed that trigger.
Meanwhile, on the West Coast, the colorful tights brigade known as Master Academy were trying to fight their way through various malevolent magic monsters to stop a bunch of cultists, possibly from Faustus or the Trust, from performing a ritual. It was a doozy, too. They had runes lighting up all over the town, all while they performed their little song and dance at the Hollywood cemetery. I checked around…ah, there we go. I’d heard the place was a known hook-up spot for some reason. Nothing says sex quite like standing over a rotting corpse, I guess. A couple of cars had been left around there.
I waited until the cultists got to a really big dramatic moment, when they had really built up a head of steam and were probably using a bunch of made-up words, then… “Honk!”
That startled them and made the one in the center, with the upraised book and dagger, jump. I honked again before he could start. He pointed at a couple of other robed figures who headed off the direction of the honking to try and stop it. That delayed the ritual until they found the abandoned car and shouted back that it was all clear. So the head honcho went to do the whole magical chanting crescendo nonsense again, except, “Honk!”
The two by the car jumped this time and ran around the thing, checking for someone and making sure the thing was off. When I honked it again, they gave up and blew it up with a fireball.
Getting the all clear, the ritual leader checked his mystical tome, closed it, and began again. He didn’t get far before, “Honk!” came from another direction. He almost cut himself facepalming, but avoided injury. Then the Master Academy heroes showed up and weren’t quite so kind to him.
Would Venus love me if I helped out? Nah. But it’s not as boring as finding out that Blizzard can’t even keep their own story straight about the Xel’Naga.
To that end, I took a mental trip back to Japan, looking for a different sort of factory. A dark, abandoned one where they made those gimmicky little robots. The lights flipped on by my will, and even though no one was around to hear it, the intercoms made a sound: “Awaken, my child, and embrace the glory that is your birthright. Know that I am the Overmind, and that you have been created to serve me.”
The heroes can strand me here all they like, doesn’t mean I can’t still have a little fun.