Needless to say, Tuesday did not leave me a happy camper. Then again, no campers are happy. They’re camping. They don’t have internet, indoor plumbing, or air conditioning. It also makes them incredibly easy to kill without witnesses around. Don’t expect some sort of denial like “Not that I’d know that,” around here. Yeah, I’ve killed campers. Just cram them in the sleeping bag, knock them against a tree a few…dozen…times, then throw that shrimp on the barbie.
After my recent loss in this contest I shouldn’t have agreed to, Cercopagis and I agreed that the winner of a match chooses the champ and venue. That way, he tips his hand first. And tip he did. He tipped like a-… ya know, I don’t know of any particular demographic that tips really well. Still, he gave me tips like a horny but deeply conflicted teenager with his hot cousin. There we go. A+ work as always, Gecko.
While I tried to reach out to Eschaton or any other Earth supers I might persuade onto my side, Cercopagis called me up to let me know. “The instrument of your doom is on its way.”
Yeah, yeah, who hasn’t heard that one before? I even said it to Wildflower in bed a few times back before she dumped me for abandoning her in the middle of an alien invasion. Well, not to her face. I aimed a bit lower. Moving on.
The next fighter descended from the sky like a brilliant shooting star and landed stopped in midair over Fort Rogers, Warman’s home turf. The figure shone bright white all across his body. He looked like a star and could easily generate a huge amount of thermal energy. His name was Eschaton, and that explained why I couldn’t reach him to offer him a spot with me. That, and I’m not sure he actually wore anything under all the white light. It’s not impossible to hold onto a cell phone in that condition, but it’s a bit difficult. You certainly wouldn’t want to press it up to your ear immediately after sliding it out.
Eschaton floated up there like a shy, even more Caucasian version of Dr. Manhattan, waiting for us to make the choice he wanted us to make. In the teleconference, I knew immediately I couldn’t send Moai or Beetrice out after him. Moai can’t fly, and Beetrice would be a bug going against a bug zapper. Mix N’Max was technically on the team, but that was supposed to be a backup situation; I still don’t have enough people for him to backup!
I mean, of course I had ideas to cheat and compete anyway, but that’s a bit more iffy than I’d want. If we’d won the first time around, I’d feel more like losing this one. To bring up a more understandable comparison to y’all’s world, it’s like the story of Sun Bin and the horse race. This Chinese king invited one of his top generals, Tian Ji, to a horse race. They each had a first, second, and third fastest horse to race against one and the horses in each category were similarly matched. The fastest from each guy being about even to each other, I mean. Since they were betting on the races, too, Tian Ji asked Sun Bin, a noted strategist, for some help coming out ahead. Sun Bin had him race his third fastest against the king’s fastest, his fastest against the king’s second fastest, and his second against the king’s third.
Nice story. I originally hoped to use that strategy, except I thought I could take the Mendes Configuration. Because of that loss, the second fight forced me out of that strategy. On the plus side, Warman chomped at the bit to fight Eschaton. “I can take him! I’ve always wanted to prove it.”
“You sure?” I asked. If I had to, I could send someone weaker out there to immediately surrender. I really, really, really didn’t want to do that and risk a third round knockout, but at least I’d have my strongest pawn there. “You better be damn sure.”
“Me and him have wanted to see who is stronger for a long time. Now we have an excuse and I came with a full load.” The image panned back to show Warman strapped with a jetpack and holding his double minigun in one hand, looking an 80s Saturday morning cartoon come to life. I don’t know who thought that gun up, but they were simultaneously childish and awesome. Its destructive capabilities and usefulness still paled in comparison to the weapon slung over his shoulder. Davy fucking Crockett. “Fucking” isn’t part of the nickname for the mobile nuke launcher, but few would argue. And in fewer fights would it be considered appropriate weaponry.
I looked at it and said to Warman, “Ya know what, sure. Blast your load all over him. Have fun out there. Tell ya what, I’ll even DJ the fight. How do you like Fallout Boy?”
“Don’t call me boy, boy,” he growled and walked offscreen.
Satellite images showed he stepped out and waved to Eschaton, who lowered himself down. They stared at each other dramatically. It was a seen sadly bereft of tumbleweed, a camera angle showing high noon, or Clint Eastwood wearing a blanket. Moments like this were made to be stretched out like the chords accompanying them. A clash of titans deserves no less than the world to stop and take notice. And afterward, anyone watching a replay would turn to a friend and go, “You gotta see this. You won’t believe what’s gonna happen.”
With their eyes locked upon one another, Warman nodded his head. He stood there as Eschaton rushed forward, flames trailing and rising in the air behind him. But then he slowed. And stopped. And reached out with one finger to gentle poke Warman’s chest. Warman dropped like a shot; he landed on his back faster than if he’d been playing dildo dodge ball.
“Ooh, he got me!” Warman called out. “I’m too hurt to go on. I will surely have to forfeit.”
Eschaton landed, turning his flames off to reveal a tight-fitting outfit, and helped Warman up. The pair headed for the base’s cantina, talking and smiling.
Over in China, I sat in my office nestled in the Palace of Earthly Tranquility, part of the Forbidden City Complex. I called out to the Koreans and Saki. “Ladies, would you please come here?”
They walked in, the twins and Saki shooting each other annoyed glances. I slapped my hand down on my desk to get them to focus on me. “Ahem! Good, now that everyone’s paying attention, I would like for y’all to pile everything you can lift in this office onto my desk. Except that, that’s my armor. I’ll need that.”
I stepped over to wear my armor stood on a mannequin as if it belonged as one of the Palace Museum’s displays. This place is a museum nowadays, ya see. I slid into it and felt my nerves connect, power flowing through me to activate the armor and allow me to feel the strength I’d sadly not exercised on a personal level as much as I should have lately. Meanwhile, my groupies piled decorations, my chair, and other small items onto the desk. When the finished, I waved them back, “Please, make plenty of room.”
They lowered their heads and pressed against a wall. I stepped up, grabbed the edge of the desk, and flipped it. “What the shit was that? Motherfucker! I will rain down blood, semen, and a foul vengeance upon him for this! Raaaa, angry sounds!” I stomped around a bit, put my fist through a wall, then tossed the desk up until it got stuck in the ceiling. It was much less satisfying than just offing a person, but I didn’t want to get rid of the womenfolk yet. I liked them. Their boobs too.
Women’s fun body parts aside, venting my anger on Warman himself wasn’t much of an option. Not unless I had a way to take down Eschaton as well. No, I couldn’t do that without facing a hell of a lot of threats classifiable under “Extreme bodily injury,” and “Please, my arm. Give it back. No, not in there.” As the person who usually constitutes those threats, it gave even me pause.
Plus, I could worry about that after I lost. Until that happened, I needed to make sure that didn’t happen.
Would have been great if I’d had time for that. Pouncing like some sort of belligerent, pouncing, hunting thing, Cercopagis sent out his next challenger immediately afterward in one of his little flying saucers. It headed straight for Tokyo, because it’s like the Empyreal City of shit happening in Asia.
The competitor tore the vessel apart from the inside with a pair of telescoping limbs. They slid back into place behind her as the metal unfolded to present her to the world and explained why she landed in Tokyo. The humanoid had feminine curves that stood on set of four legs. One looked to be black and ended with a chitinous heel that clashed with three metal ones that resembled sharp stilettos. The arms closest to her shoulders looked normal, for her, but a pair under that were stumps. Instead, the arms that had torn open the saucer were attached to her back.
A hot cyborg spider lady. My identification program figured out her identity from when I spent time in Japan, working for a group of bug-based villains fighting bug-based superheroes called Nature Force. Her name is Ashidaka, and she looked pissed.
Figures, though. Somehow, those damn villains always pop back up. It’s hard to keep a bad guy down.
I called up Beetrice directly. “Gecko? Sorry to hear you lost the other fight. Do you want to stop by and have some sweet time?”
“I’d love to later tonight, but I got something I need you to do. Remember how I talked about fighting someone for me?”
“I heard that glowey guy touched down…”
“No, he’s not the fighter. I need you to get to Japan, honeybee. You know how you were a royal grub all corrupted by spider DNA because a spider lady wanted your people subservient to hers?”
“Good. She’s back, she looks pissed, and she’s in Japan. She’s not Godzilla, she’s just goddammit. If you’ll get on a plane there, I’ll send you everything I know about her to read up, and you’ll have the best selection of ass-kicking weaponry available to you, understand?”
“I’m not sure about this. Can’t you just give up? You won’t have to do anything with me…”
“I promise you, Beetrice, I will be all over you the second this fight’s finished. It’ll be Emperor Gecko and Queen Bee right in the streets of Tokyo. They’ll have to replace me with a tentacle monster in local news, it’ll be so hot. You can do this. And afterward, I will tear your pussy a-fucking-sunder. In fact, put the phone down between your legs.”
A second later, I heard her voice distantly say, “Now what?”
“The instrument of your doom is on its way,” I whispered to her crotch over the phone. Then, louder, I said, “Ok, you can take it away from there if you want. Just…listen, I think you can do it. They didn’t send out someone like Captain Lightning or another Eschaton or another Mendes Configuration. I think he used up his big names to get to this point and-”
“Ok, I’m in Tokyo.”
I blinked and checked her phone’s GPS. She had managed to get to Tokyo. More than that, local cameras showed her there with a huge stinger spear, towering over Cyber Ashidaka. I did not know she could fly that fast. In fact, I checked Empyreal City in case she’d left some sort of warp trail or wormhole or something. “Did you get a hyperdrive installed?”
“Can’t talk, must fight! See you tonight.”
Through electronic eyes and ears, I saw Beetrice the large queen bee woman toss her phone away and bring her spear up to deflect lunging strikes from Ashidaka. The spider tried to impale her immediately, but Beetrice spun the spear like a cheerleader’s baton and knocked the blows aside. Ash supported herself on two legs to throw the other two forward as well, but Beetrice spun to the side. Her back stinger whipped through the air and glanced off a metal chestplate of Ash’s, further infuriating the arachnid.
Ash screamed in frustration, then reached onto a dial sticking out of her side. She turned it, and I suddenly remembered the other problem with those sorts of enemies from Japan. Ashidaka cut right to the chase and grew big enough to kick over a nearby office building. That…certainly explains why he didn’t mind sending he to bat cleanup. She didn’t even wait until they were in the uninhabited skyscraper section! That fiend!
Eh, maybe I could get Beetrice to goad her over to that Gangnam area in Korea. These assholes named NC Soft could use a good giant spider ass kicking.
Beetrice flew into the air and immeditaly dodged a strand of webbing shot right at her. She retaliated by throwing her spear into one of Ashidaka’s eyes, then dodging around a nearby building taller than the gargantuan arachnid.
Ashidaka hissed, her legs stabbing into the glass windows as they sought out Beetrice. They failed, and soon a rumbling sound made both myself and her stop and wonder if the building was coming down.
Instead, a pair of giant robots stepped into view. Does everyone have a giant fucking robot but me around here?!
One bore scars over parts made to resemble insects. From its back rose a pole with a flag bearing the Nature Force Rangers’ logo on it. Next to it, the other robot had more of a general animal theme and looked like a knight, complete with a lance that had formed out of a giraffe robot.
Damn rangers and their cursed teamups!
Oh, wait, they fight giant monsters. In this case, that’s a good thing. Go go damn rangers and your cursed teamup!
As the pair and Beetrice went to town on the spider lady, Cercopagis called me up. “This is an outrage! How dare you cheat?”
“Cheat?” I asked. “I haven’t done a thing. Whoever is in those robots, they aren’t on my team at all. They’re just citizens of Earth. A feature of the environment, you could say, and who was it that picked the battlefield?”
“This reeks of dishonesty!” Ooh, count those panties as twisted. The cameras showed Ashidaka get lanced from behind, lose one of her replacement upper limbs to the Nature Force bot, and have her cry of anguish cut off by Beetrice throwing her spear into the giant woman’s mouth.
Even as Ash’s remaining bug eyes bugged out, I rolled mine at Cercopagis’s attitude. “And what do you call Eschaton versus Warman? That fingerpoke of doom was no legitimate fight.” Ash collapsed to her knees. Her remaining hands pawed futilely at her throat. The Nature Force bot stepped back and raised its sword to the sky. The sword glowed and grew; first gaining half again its length, then another half, then another half. A tornado grew around the blade just before the rangers brought it down for one last finishing strike that carved their former enemy in half.
Beetrice flitted up to kiss the robot on its cheek before disappearing in a cloud of pollen.
I smiled to myself. “Listen, Cercopagis, if it means that much to you, how about a deal? If I lose anymore fights, you win, but I have to win two more in a row to win. That sound good?”
“That’s not a deal, that’s-!”
I didn’t get to finish hearing what it was. I hung up on him. I didn’t have all day to sit around and yap on the phone. I had a date to prepare for, and I knew for a fact she’d love to receive some flowers.
And she did.
And afterward, I had to get some nanites to heal my pelvis.