“If reasonably possible, try to take resistors alive. If they act more like mindless zombies, don’t bother. We could restore their brains, but that’s just the hardware. The software would be gone. And if they’re aliens, kill them. Unless they offer a surrender,” I informed the men in my Australian expedition via Electric Eye Sydney. They didn’t look too happy to be working for me, and it didn’t help that this Electric Eye wore a dark cloak and black leather clothing to hide its appearance.
Elsewhere, a voice asked, “Talking to yourself?” My actual physical head swiveled toward the source of the voice. Someone was actually there in my “throne room” back in The Hague in the Neither World. My eyes found Venus, my longtime archenemy. She’d escaped awhile back, and apparently traded in her Slave Leia costume for something more practical. I ignored her while my mind concentrated on the task of dealing with the situation in Australia.
“We know Technolutionary is using the Sydney Opera House as a forward base. It’s a supervillain thing.” It really is. I wrecked the Statue of Liberty once, and destroyed the Empyre State Building in Empyreal City. It’s about showing off. Rarely does a supervillain gain infamy from blowing up Alberto’s Taco Cart or burning down a Burrito Bell. Depending on the frequency of dysentery in a population, the latter might even make them a hero.
“It doesn’t matter to him if anyone volunteers for any of his experiments. Some of the locals claim that anyone who does volunteer, he turns into the same species of human as Pyscho Gecko. Those who don’t gain a new outlook on life. A computer-in-the-brain outlook on life. Simmons, what are the Fluidics doing?”
Back in the Hague, my translation program worked to solve the problem of military jargon and give me a basic understanding of what the man said. Roughly speaking, there are between a dozen and two dozen aliens in Sydney attacking cell towers, radio towers, satellite uplinks, and anything else that extends my control over the population there. They are scavenging parts and equipment as well. We couldn’t get close enough to see what. On top of that, they’re fighting Technolutionary. They launch attacks every now and then, especially whenever Technolutionary sends a convoy of human-bots off into the wilderness of the Australian interior. If I had to guess, they weren’t onboard with Technolutionary’s little rebellion. It might even be why the shield wasn’t operating at full capacity, though there were too many other factors to tell for sure.
The original briefing involved significantly more acronyms.
“Yes, we’ll try to avoid taking on the aliens. Remember: the enemy of my enemy is my enemy’s enemy. Don’t get me started on enemies who like to keep sea life as pets, because that’s my enemy’s anemones and signficantly more complicated,” I warned them, in part because “enemy’s anemones” is really fun to say. “I suspect following a convoy would lead us to the ship. I won’t tell you the best way to do your jobs, since y’all have your own way of kicking ass and taking names. The Recon Marines have secured transportation, so they’re task is to find the enemy ship, infiltrate it, and damage to the point of failure anything that looks like one of these drawings.”
Electric Eye passed around some drawings I worked hard on, in the sense that I had the robot connect to a printer and create them based on what I managed to pull off the ship I’d commandeered that time, and the shuttle I crashed back to Earth on. They presented the soliders with depictions of the ship’s reactor and capacitor, power transfer nodes and a few important backup fuses, and the shield system itself. Any one set of targets and redundancies should incapacitate the shield.
The marines left, a pretty good bunch. While some would disparage the brains of men and women in the armed forces, recon marines have to be especially tough and bright for their job. Typically, they leave the officers behind and head into hostile territory in smaller groups, to infiltrate, sabotage, and neutralize. A hands-off mission to sneak in and blow shit up is right up their alley. So off they went to slay a dragon and win a fancy-ass sabre while I nailed the kidnapped princess.
“Don’t you ever turn on a light in here?” Venus asked again from where I sat. I preferred the darkness there, actually.
I broke away from Electric Eye to address her. “I’m surprised you came back, but I’m busy.”
“You were busy the other day, too,” she said. Then I remembered her comment on me talking to myself hadn’t been the same day.
“You could say I’ve been distant. Mind elsewhere.” I looked down at her as she approached. Instead of looking directly at me or even sizing up my armor, she focused on the IVs pumping needed nutrients into my body.
She read one of the bags. “What are you doing?”
“Eating takes up time. There are too many problems. One moment, there’s a riot starting in Texas.” I concentrated a moment, going elsewhere. “It’s over with. One riot, no rangers.”
“Step down, please. This is going to end badly for you when it ends. Why is it so important for you to kill yourself?” she asked.
“Killing myself, secondary concern. You got what you wanted. I am putting my talents to better use, helping people. One phone-recorded mass rape in India stopped. Mass transit groping in Japan detected. Terminating. I appear to be one of the few thinking with the correct head on this planet. I- oh come on, you Pakistani bastard, it’s a fucking chicken!”
She turned on a light. “At least something’s ending the robot speak of yours. You can’t control the world. It isn’t right. Someone will kill you. It’s the only way anyone can put up with you now.”
“Didn’t I tell you, under the influence of truth potion, that I was distracting myself before? This is me without distractions. One moment, someone in Kenya is wearing a leisure suit. There, another injustice fixed. This is the greatest good I can do for the world. This is the only way I can protect it.”
“The only way you’ll protect it without admitting you are wrong.”
Keeping track of her peripherally, my eye flitted all over the place as I saw things that weren’t there in the room with me, checking up on the world and keeping a portion of my attention fixed in the fuzzy image of Australia. “What are you trying to solve by talking to me here? This is useless and will not end the threat you perceive of me. Besides, it is within the right and potential responsibility of those gifted above their fellow man to guide the rest, as !Chinin said. Sorry, as one of the Founders of the United States said, too. I can look it up later, but this is why I prefer references your world can understand. Either way, the reasoning to the superiority of representative government over pure democracy is sound.”
Venus slapped me across the helmet. “This isn’t what I wanted from you. This isn’t being a hero!”
“I’m sorry if I defied your expectations, my dear Venus. I am not maintaining a status quo I do not believe in. I am helping billions instead of dozens. I just put out a fire in Irkutsk. I just reticulated a number of splines in Macedonia. Someone attempted and failed to rob a bank in Lima. I-…I wish I could sleep. There are too many problems. I am everywhere. Every cry for help I ever imagined, I now hear. I can’t stop them all. I can’t save them all. I can’t even punish them all. At least I’m trying. How dare you, Venus? How dare you hate me! How dare any of you?! Not one of you ‘heroes’ has even tried.”
Venus folded her arms. “Yes, some of us have. Remember Sexahol? You thought that was wrong, too.”
I remembered. An intoxicant hit the streets. Anyone who took it experienced affection and lust. It all turned out to be a plot by an old, retired hero to fix the world. His name was Breakdown. I resented being drugged and used my armor’s life support and filtering to stay sober. I also resented him trying to make a deal with me by offering me various Sexahol-drugged women, including Venus and Leah, a runaway that I went on to mentor briefly.
“You are seeing why we can’t. Even you can’t save everyone, and you’ve done something no one ever has before. No one wants to move forward with all these things you want to do, and I bet they move slowly in spite of your threats. We had to be drugged to be nice and loving to each other. It made us something we aren’t. You haven’t quite done that yet, but it would be the only way to accomplish what you want, and you don’t like it,” she went on, making a good case. She hadn’t yet gotten used to the fact that she herself was no longer human, it seemed. Thank Technolutionary for that one.
“I hate you so much sometimes, Venus. You’re like the little conscience I never had. I’m trying, ok? Not even that’s good enough for you, I guess. Now, I have to deal with aliens and Technolutionary in Australia.”
She looked disappointed, but told me, “Kick his ass.”
I hate her and love her so much. I sure did pick a good archnemesis.
Over the next few days, the SEALs and Eye struck against Technolutinary. Between the Australian military, the Fluidic aliens, and my guys, he could no longer risk convoys or even hunting parties to obtain more human-bot bodies. It didn’t help him any that the Aussies were evacuating their people as much as possible now they had a clearer understanding of what Technolutionary did to people.
Taking out the other supervillain didn’t even matter so much to me. The primary goal of the expedition was the shield. Once it fell, I’d have a world’s worth of military might to rain down on him. Under siege, Technolutionary could no longer reinforce the ship.
Finally, Eye received an acknowledgment from the marines that they found the ship and were going in. Technolutionary must have had some sort of communication with his minions there as well, because he made a push with all his forces, heading in that direction.
Well, as many of his forces as he could. The humans helping him seemed to peel off and stop in the face of the firepower arrayed against them, having neither the loyalty of the human-bots, nor the flying power armor of Technolutionary himself. Eye saw his form-fitting purple armor fly off, emotionless metal face hiding any panic in his real one.
But Electric Eye had rockets. Eye flew and caught up to Technolutionary, timing it so Eye’d catch him just past the edge of the city. He turned and unleashed a cloud of micro missiles. Eye threw off my cloak, letting them suffer premature detonation as the robot closed the distance. He seemed surprised when Eye reached into the top of my back-mounted aquarium, pulled out an octopus with a bit of blue on it, and tosses it at him. Unfortunately, it hadn’t kept very well. Neither did those really bitey clams. Even worse, there had simply been no way to bring in a shark.
Still, it distracted him enough for me to get close. He could blast those animals all he wanted, so long as it let me close enough to whip out my Koala-chuks. The critters were ornery and more than happy to claw away at the armored man Eye swung them at. Then again, most animals would have that response if they had a stick of wood shoved up their ass with a chain attaching it to another of stick of wood shoved in another koala’s ass.
“Who are you?” he asked, bringing his palms together to fire a burst of white-hot plasma at me that Eye effortlessly deflected with a now-sizzling marsupial. He maneuvered backward, firing to suppress me and keep his distance.
A distorted voice answered, singing. “I’m made of metal! My circuits gleam! I am perpetual, I keep the country clean! I’m electric, Electric Eye. I’m protecting, electric spy.”
With that, Eye switched the Koala-Chuks to my left arm. I fired the rocket on that arm, which disconnected and flew at him, koala’s spinning. While he shot at it, Eye fired my right arm on a course for the other villain’s metal codpiece. Ding, ding, ding! It’s not the sound of game show victory so much as repeated armored groin punches.
Technolutionary punched something into a control panel on his left wrist, then slashed at the groin punching arm. A glowing beam sword erupted just in front of his left hand and cut through the rocket. He swung it up to disarm the other hand of its koalas, leaving one to scream for help as it plummeted back to earth.
Seeing that, Eye fired the legs next. They circled him for a few seconds. Then he jerked around, remembering the ship. His armor carried him off, with Electric Eye following. The robot tried to throw him off while avoiding the blade, doing little more than banging its foot uselessly against an ass ensconced in purple armor. Eye even managed a good headbutt at one point, which I like to think justified the decision to add a robotic butt to this Electric Eye robot.
Before long, Eye saw the ship in the distance. But before either of us could reach it, the transparent shield rippled and faded away. I felt whole again. And angry. And like a man who suddenly controlled a lot of aircraft, anti-air missiles, and drones. Electric Eye stopped and let him continue his useless pursuit of the ship. The missiles launched by those lovely American aircraft under my command convinced him to do the same as he dove into the wilderness avoid them. We lost track of him, last heading so far west, he’s probably at the Hutt River. Well, he’s Jabba’s problem now, and if he ever resurfaces, he’ll be in deep Bantha poodoo.
A helicopter helped get the recon marines out of the area before another set of missiles made sure Technolutionary wouldn’t have any more alien ships or forcefields to cause trouble with.
As for the aliens, if they hadn’t surrendered, I’d have housed them in a smoking crater. The fact that they did…well, I could say that I listened to my conscience, annoying as she is, and let someone live. Or I could focus on preparing this new statement I’ll release in a few days about how, thanks to the treasonous efforts of a resistance leader named Technolutionary, the evil, genocidal, mind controlling Fluidics managed to escape in a pair of shuttles, no doubt to gather reinforcements. If I keep this up, I’ll have people practically salivating to follow my lead every time I ring a bell and claim “Aliens want to attack us for our freedoms!”
Just think, some critics actually claim I can’t control what people think.