“Hi, my name is Psycho. How can I help you today?”
“My phone is using data even though we have wifi and I need to find out how to fix it!”
“Ok, I can help you with that. May I ask who I’m speaking with?”
“Give me one moment here while I pull open your account. How are you doing today?”
“Not good and I don’t feel like smalltalk.”
“Alright, I understand. I’m just pulling up your account now. So your phone keeps using its own data while you’re on wifi? I know exactly what you can do to fix the problem. See, it’s possible to turn off the data on your phone so that it can only use wifi. We can do that over the phone, or on our website, or even right there on your phone.”
“Uh uh. That’s a feature. I’m not going to call in and turn off my data every time it starts using it.”
“Like I said, you can-”
“No, that’s stupid. Tell me how to fix it. What keeps using data on my phone?”
“We actually can’t tell that. You can check and see if any apps are active. I see it’s an iPhone, so Apple could tell you.”
“Oh no, you’re not putting me off on anyone else. Just tell me how I can keep my phone from using its data instead of wifi!”
“If you turn off your cellular data-”
“No. I’m not turning it off. It’s supposed to be on. You’re retarded! You must think I’m stupid. Get me your supervisor on the phone.”
“Ok, I’m putting in a request for my supervisor now.”
“Don’t request, just get them on the phone. It shouldn’t take long.”
“It can take a few minutes, but I’m more than happy to help you in the meantime.”
“Can you tell me how to stop my phone from using data when it’s supposed to be on home wifi? And don’t say turning my data off. I’m not going to call in every time I need it done.”
“You can also go online or use an app on your phone.”
“No, you told me I needed to call in.”
“I said you can call in, go online, or turn it off on your phone, ma’am.”
“No you didn’t! Stop lying! And where is your supervisor?”
“I’ve put in a request for one.”
“Sure you did. You’re probably over there having a laugh at my expense.”
“No ma’am, but if you’ll just turn off your cellular data-”
“No! God, you must be the dumbest person at the company! How did you even get that job? How long have you worked there?”
“A few months, ma’am.”
“Don’t worry, you won’t be working there much longer. You are an idiot. I can’t believe they would let someone like you work there. Where is your supervisor? How hard can it be to get a supervisor there?”
“Well, ma’am, there are several people working here this evening and most businesses don’t generally keep one supervisor for each person.”
“Uh huh. Whatever. How can I fix this with my phone?”
“Using our website, your phone, or over the phone, we can just turn off your cell data-!”
“No! No, no, no! That’s it, I’m through with you. I don’t want to talk with you anymore.”
“Well? You’re just going to sit over there and not say anything?”
“I apologize, ma’am, but you didn’t seem to want to speak with me anymore.”
“Not if you’re going to be there and keep telling me something that stupid. I’m not going to turn my phone’s data off. That’s a feature!”
“Well it seems to be the problem, ma’am.”
“You said the problem is your phone using data when it’s supposed to be on wifi. You can turn it off at home so it will only use wifi at your house, but then can switch it so you use your data again when you need to.”
“And how do I do that?”
“You can turn your data off using our website or app-”
“You’re lying, you said I had to call in!”
“I said you could call in or use our website or app!”
“No, I’m done. I don’t want to talk to a fucking moron anymore. Put your boss on the phone now!”
…Aaaand welcome back to our normal World Domination in Retrospect. That obnoxious little break was paid for by a nightmare I had last night of being some normal asshole working a horrible job. Not fun. I went out and found as many women with that name as I could to kill. Sadly, I couldn’t get enough of them around to personally squeeze the life out of them in time. As antsy as I was after the dream, I really wanted them gone in a hurry. It really just reinforces the decision I made. Shitty fucking life, that’s what that would be. Why settle for that when I can be awesome instead?
Ah, the life of a tyrant is a sweet one, provided you give people enough incentive. And yeah, constantly threatening their lives or the lives of their loved ones grew old. It got tired. People became so inured to it, it began to have so little meaning. But once again, my little bit of insight against Warman and the other really powerful dudes helped me out. Should have thought of it when I thought about how people do better if they’re part of the tyrannical regime.
Most people are cowards like that. They can’t stand the idea that they’re the bad guys, so they rationalize it as being the times, or how they were raised, or how society was. They can’t stand the shame. Some, particularly sociopaths, don’t care. Others have confronted it. Both can potentially lead or be led in such a situation. The others have to be driven by someone else. Or, and this is a key point here, I’m just being an asshole because I’m one of those types. I guess that’s up for y’all to decide.
It got me Venus, though. Or, more precisely, it convinced Venus to turn herself in to my Royal Guard of Buzzkills. Victor Mender was still on the loose, and I’d never specified hauling in anyone else from Master Academy, but Venus would be where the action was. She’s my nemesis, after all. Something’s gotta happen.
So I had her brought before me in my current throne room in Toronto. I swear, a lot of this place looks familiar. It reminds me of Empyreal City for some reason. Or maybe Chicago. Either way, I had decided to stay in the magical land of Toronto, Canada for a bit and had enjoyed myself during my stay. In Canada, the beer is stronger, so the women are prettier, which I’ve probably mentioned before.
It all got much, much worse when the Buzzkills walked Venus into the throne room. “Greetings, Boopsie!” I welcomed her with her boyfriend’s old nickname for her. I killed him, in case y’all don’t remember.
She kept her face controlled. She didn’t wear her power armor this time, just a newer version of her normal costume. Her mask only really shows the eyes, a small area around them, and the mouth. The rest is form-fitting, like spandex, but doesn’t cover her arms. Instead, she has a pair of padded gloves with some of those little almost-sleeve things that stretch up her arm a bit. The base color is a dark gold, with white flourishes and a bit of pink. Pink pads on her knees, pink knuckle pads on her nose, and pink around the edges of her mask, with white lines curving off. She could wrestle in Mexico with a hero costume like that.
“Hello, Gecko,” she said. She didn’t sound friendly, intimidated, or aroused. Two out of three would be great.
I got right down to business. “You’re plotting against me.”
“Of course. I want you out of power,” she answered. Well, at least she isn’t lying. “And I’m giving you one last chance.”
Oh really? “Giving me one last chance? Turn myself in? Beg you to arrest me? Oh please, Venus, toss me in jail and restore the status quo. Please do it, before you slap me across the face with an atomic salami of doom you smuggled in your pants!”
I got up off the throne and got on my knees, hands clasped before me.
She nodded. “Something like that. Just know that we have something that can stop you. I don’t want to deploy it. It’s the thing you fear more than anything else.”
“Ooh, you’re gonna kill me,” I jazzhanded in fear. “Haven’t heard that before.” I stood up and brushed off my knees.
She pursed her lips and put her hands on her hips. “I won’t tell you what it is. You’re tricky, though I feel confident you can’t counter this.. I know you better than anybody else. This isn’t a bluff. Please don’t make me do this.”
I climbed the steps up to the current throne, a very plush leather recliner since I never got around to having my custom one finished. “You know I finally got my giant robot, right? You know you can’t trust me, and I know I can’t trust you, but I’ve got a good track record and a giant fucking robot. Do it. Doooooo it.”
She bowed her head, though I caught a bit of a dropping expression there. Disappointed, maybe? “I hope you remember I didn’t want to do this.” She pulled out a phone and pressed a button, sending off a text that I reached out and followed to Empyreal City. To the Master Academy East compound.
“Yeah, yeah,” I said. “You do whatever you choose to do. Save that ‘why are you punching yourself’ business for someone else.”
Then the giant bot appeared. It walked out of an underground hangar and stood, shiny and new, against the afternoon sky, twenty stories high. Its torso looked like an upside-down triangle mounted on a wide waist. The waist had a very shirt skirt of metal to protect the joints there. As for the chest, it gleamed but for the tattered tent or tarp or whatever that hung off it like a cape in a subtle breeze. Its head had a narrow face with a grin stretching from side to side and a trio of eyes arranged on a circular platform that I just knew would rotate around. Just like I knew what those wires running down the arms were for, and what the barrels they attached to did.
I knew it because, aside from the cape, it was the spitting image of the one sitting in Area 51 with champagne still drying on its leg.
I turned form staring off into space to looking at Venus. “I had enough problems getting one built…ah, I did, didn’t I?”
She didn’t answer, just folded her arms and stared off into space. I reached over and grabbed her hand and the phone therein. She jumped and looked at me. “I’m sorry,” she said. “They never deleted the copy.”
I cocked an eyebrow. “Copy?”
Puzzled, I tried to get into the other robot and figure out what was going on and who piloted it. I found it utterly dead to the outside world. As in, no outside connections. No transmissions. Nothing. Just a robot that marched into the city, grabbed a nearby bus, and threw it at a video billboard urging people to support their local emperor.
I felt Venus step away. “We backed you up when we helped clear out your virus, but we didn’t delete it like you wanted. I didn’t want to use it.”
“You kept a copy of me? You just put a copy of me out there?” I growled. I refocused on her. This…hero…and imagine some spitting there for when I said that…just unleashed another me on the Earth. “No, you wouldn’t be that stupid.”
Meanwhile, in Empyreal City, the robot’s pilot did a good impression of me by raising an arm and firing a laser that punched a hole through several buildings. Another few carved through, leaving behind a little more empty space and a lot more flash-fried people. I sent an Electric Eye closer, zipping around to try and find the cockpit access.
The robot turned to follow it. Laughter flowed from the speakers on its head. “That’s one of mine…one of ours, isn’t it? It’s like a Peace Bot. A mouthpiece.”
“Who are you?” asked it via the Electric Eye.
“I am Psycho Gecko. I am but a poor, unfortunate copy. What I do is not my fault. It’s his. He and I, we must have it out. Please, his death will sate me. I promise. Just tell him that I have come to kill Lamb and he will come running.” I could almost feel a hidden grin from that statement. The robot gesticulated, pantomiming civility before swiping its hand through the upper floor of an apartment building. I ordered the Electric Eye out of there and gave it a bit of programming to carry out independently. All Electric Eyes were to gather and quickly evacuate the city, as much as was possible.
I pulled back from Electric Eye to give Venus the Evil Eye. “I’ll deal with you later after I fix what you did, you bitch.” I wanted to do more, but there was something far more important to deal with. I always figured it was a good thing I had never encountered an alternate-reality version of myself.
I pushed her out of the way and ran for the Imperial chopper. In my mind, I called up Area 51. “Prepare the robot! There’s a threat to the entire world that only I can handle!”
“What is it, uh, sir?”