“What do you mean she’s not around?” I asked.
Psychsaur stopped to shoot me a glare. “She’s got better things to do than be at your beck and call. Not everything revolves around you, you know!”
I faked a gasp. “You take that back right now!”
She did not. How uncouth. All I’d wanted to know was where Venus was so I could hide my equipment accordingly. Well, maybe not hide. I’m just assembling it in the library, but I’ve made no effort to put it in a particularly shadowy alcove or cover it with a sheet or anything. The most I did was tape a sign to it that says, “Out Of Order.”
Near the exposed bits, I even added another sign that says, “Touch. Go ahead. I dare you.” It worked perfectly. Which is good, because building this thing has been tiresome. A lot goes into a good suit of armor. Not a decent suit of armor, not generic, but good. If someone opens the wrong book in that library, they’ll find pages of stuff I wrote out just to get it somewhere other than my head. A plan. Certain materials formed certain ways, for instance, all so I can put together a machine that will assemble on me armor to make me an agent of death and chaos once more.
There’s more to it than that, to the point of utilizing some smelting in place of nanomanufacturing of it. I’m trying slightly different techniques this time. They’ll increase the bulk of the armor while making it more roomy. Going to need the extra space for computer systems, ECM countermeasures, and the new power source I’m throwing together. I’ll also have to put more time and effort into repairing the armor myself due to my lack of easy access to nanites. Building one or two by hand isn’t going to do much, after all. I’ll have to build this suit to last a bit longer and be repairable through easier means.
Yeah, things are changing. Did I call my last armor “Emperor Gecko”? I ask because that’s what I’m calling this one. We’re not yet to Mark One status yet. And it hasn’t been helped by all the shenanigans getting in my way. Venus is gone, sure, but I still get people bothering me around the library. Not sure they even have a proper librarian. It’s up to me to shut up these dumb asses, braying as they do like donkeys.
Like this pair of twenty-somethings who stopped in. They went toward the back, somewhere around the art history section. Interesting stuff there, since a lot of early art was basically propaganda on behalf of whatever murderous warlord took over a place lately.
One of these guys was selling Ritalin to the other because of tests coming up, but the buyer also asked about depression. “This new guy got elected, and like, everyone’s depressed. It’s horrible, man. God, I wish Jon Stewart still had his show. Where was he when we needed him, right?”
“Hold the frell up!”I burst through a stack of books behind them.
They jumped back. “Jesus!” shouted one.
“Not nearly, but I have been known to send a person to Hell every now and then! Been known to do it for a moron like yourselves, even.” I grinned at them.
The seller tried to hide his bag of prescription pill bottles, but dropped it. He pretended not to see it. The seller didn’t get the memo. “Whoa, someone must have left their pills. We better get those back to them.”
“Really? And here it looked like one of you was selling to the other. This is Capitalist America, boys. Sell anything to anybody and all that. No, that’s not why I’m paying y’all a visit here today, though I should also mention y’all might wanna shush around here. People could possibly be studying somewhere. Hell if I know where they’d be, especially with those girls off banging in the private study room.” I grabbed their shoulders through the bookshelf before they could run off and watch. Doing them a favor, actually. What red-blooded male wants to sit around watching a pair of school-age Asian girls enjoy a rousing game of find the g-spot? Probably none, I’m sure. Especially not a busy guy like me who isn’t allowed to detach one of his eyes that could record the whole thing. And if I couldn’t, no way would I sit around and let someone else do so.
“No,” I said, going back to thoughts of Margaret Thatcher playing baseball naked on a cold day. “I just felt it necessary to address that whole thing about the comedian, because I’ve been hearing it a bit.”
And by a bit, I mean it’s spread across the internet like porn of barely-legal Asian schoolgirls… gorram it!
“Just correct me if I’m wrong, but some sort of election happened that y’all perceive went the wrong way, right?”
“Presidential election,” said the seller, nodding.
“Right, so millions of people aged 18 or older across the nation came together to cast their vote in the largest regular democratic input of the United States’s political system after what I have to assume was almost wall-to-wall coverage of the season while it lasted. I mean, they had to start kinda late this year due to world conquest, but still. Anyway, you believe millions of people did not vote the right way as far as policy, morality, and intelligence goes because a comedian was no longer running his cable show, am I correct?”
“Um, yeah?” the buyer kinda-sorta answered.
“A comedian didn’t tell people to vote for the right candidate, so the people weren’t able to see they were the right one. Forget news and debates if there were any, the people weren’t informed because of the lack of one comedian. I’m just having some trouble following the thought process there and I once justified raping a manatee to myself.”
The sea cow was totally asking for it, swimming around all naked like that. I mean, it never said “no.”
“You make it sound stupid, man,” The buyer threw up his hands.
I shrugged, then gave them a clap on the shoulders. “There might be a reason something sounds stupid when you say it out loud. And I’m not agreeing or disagreeing with whether or not you’re right about your side, but I think a democracy’s got worse problems if that’s what messed things up. So, as a concerned citizen and possibly the only sane person around, I just want you to know, both of you,” I looked between them, “That if I hear either of you two being so mind-blowingly moronic in here again, I’ll scalp you and turn your bloody hairpieces into nipple-wigs to impress the ladies with my chest-borne virility. I’ll be Leatherface meets Austin Powers.”
I tore open my shirt, grabbed their heads, and pulled them against my nipples. “Just imagine it. The two of you, plus my chest, united at last. It’ll be so wonderful. What do y’all think? Is the view growing on you?”
They haven’t been back. I really should check on that Presidential election nonsense, see who succeeded me in the White House. I just really wanted to address those types while I was at it. They weren’t nearly as disruptive as the attack.
I heard a bunch of gunfire, with some yelling and other stuff. At first, I didn’t even care, except then I remembered I was supposed to. That’s right, something something a debt because the school as an organization took me in, kept me from dying, and is protecting me. But then I remembered the part where they decided to put some mind mojo on me that prevents me from hurting anyone, and I suddenly got happy. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.
Then a couple of men burst in. One tossed his pack on the table and gave me a very clear look at a soldier in urban camo with a rifle and ballistic armor all over. His friend stayed by the door and fired off a burst from a rather large gun in his arms. Light machine gun, that is. Generally speaking, the not-so-light ones are more for vehicular usage.
Not an ideal situation to be in if you’ve been mentally compelled not to hurt anyone, though I’m unsure how common a problem that is. “Warning, if your homicidal tendencies don’t appear after four hours around a six-year-old, consult your doctor and/or mortician.”
I threw the top book of the stack I’d been carrying, Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” at the light pad by the door. The entire library went dark. I added a little laughter before gunfire zeroed in on my location and nearly gave me a really bad case of terminal acne.
Figuring I’d probably miss, I decided to toss a few more books at them, starting with The Grapes of Wrath. “My nuts!” One of the soldiers called. That worked better than expected. I tossed out another one, Sense and Sensibility.
“My nose!” cried the other, who started firing on the room at waist level. I threw a book of just Hamlet up in the air. It wasn’t quite as big as the others. It must have bounced when it came down, because that guy turned, cussing, and yelled something about his hamstring.
I think the next was A Farewell To Arms. I keep meaning to figure out what classical lit nerd keeps checking out all this stuff. I missed this time. According to the closer one, with just the rifle, it got him on the toes. Must have been one of those Chinese knock-offs, like Harry Potter And Fun Time With Arthur Knight King. And I was out of books, aside from all the rows beside me. I crawled quiet and low instead until a book got kicked into my face and I found myself face to toe with his boots.
“Where’d he go? Where are the lights? Get your flashlight out!” the one above me called.
The one further away indeed found a flashlight and swept it around briefly, his nearer partner following it as well. Then he brought shone it right on the partner. “He’s right behind you,” he said.
The friend went to turn around and tripped over his tied-together shoe laces. In a showing of poor trigger discipline, he shot at his friend. Correction, he shot his friend. It just took a moment to see. “Ooh,” I said, crouching over the fallen soldier, but addressing the shot one. “You gonna stand there and take that?”
“Back away,” he said, motioning to the side with his gun.
I frowned. “Back away from your friend so you can shoot me more easily? That doesn’t make any sense.”
We were at a momentary impasse. After that moment, he opened up with his LMG on myself and his friend. I think he emptied the whole belt chasing me as I ran off into the stacks and dove for cover behind the reference books. They’re incredble armor, so thick and dense they can stop a human mind cold at the first page. I heard more gunfire as pages and other debris stopped flying near me. I saw the LMG guy dropped from gunfire from his shot-up friend.
When the heroes came around, they weren’t impressed I’d only killed to guys without being able to take direct physically violent actions directed at their persons. “Just send Psychsaur around, tell her she can remove a little something and I’ll help out more,” I said to an irritated bull-headed hero.
He snorted. “Fat chance, pussy.”
“Oh, pussy, sure, that’s original. By the way, heard your mom cheated on your dad with a goat. Left him wearing a cuckold’s horns. Must have made him see red. Hit her probably, made her wear enough makeup, people thought she was a clown. Then he’d take her home and chase her around until he pulled a calf. I can go at this all night, and your mom will back me up on that, too.” I grabbed a blood-stained portion of the uniform of one of the troopers. I’d suspended them from wires in the library so that they moved if I tugged on the right strings. They wore placards around their necks that said, “I didn’t return my book on time.”
I think that helped it sink into the bull-man’s brain that I am not a man with which to frell. Still didn’t send Psychsaur my way. Nobody really stopped by to tell me what was going on, but I figured up a few things. Love ’em or hate ’em, there’s rarely a military that’s willing to shoot their own fellow soldiers as a matter of convenience during battle, and pretty much none so vicious that speak English primarily. As far as patches, they didn’t have any rank, just some nonsense collection. Liberty or Death: Don’t Tread On Me. Something about Three Percent. A revolutionary war Minuteman. Things no soldier in the United States wears because they swore an oath specifically to protect their Constitution. Combined with the incredibly low casualties and FUBAR tactics, it’s my expert opinion that these guys were a pair of jackass militia types. It didn’t help their matter that at least the official channels know about the holiday truces, so it’d take a particularly stupid or ruthless person to try and attack heroes on holiday.
So, yay, now we gotta worry about people like that shooting up a school full of supers. The news tried to write it off at first as yet another normal mass shooting, the perusal of which is what revealed to me the wave of attacks going on around the country. Supers, sure, but almost anyone who isn’t a certain rather homogeneous mold fitting one side of the political spectrum, all by supporters of this new President whose election I missed. And who was probably making people miss me at this point. People were much more united against me when I took over than they appear to be now they elected a dictator of their own.
Regardless, after that little period when the whole “anti-super” movement had been shown to be an alien plot to take over the world, I’d have thought they’d moved past this. Apparently not. It’s gone international. The UK has votes about it, even, and they’re normally so much more mild than the U.S. All over the world, people are starting to get the idea that life was better before all these super people were allowed to exist. And part of it’s because of The Claw and his advance into Asia.
He took North Korea with Beetrice, my royal queen bee-person who finally fulfilled her dream of popping out a royal grub by me, standing in as my successor after I killed the country’s previous dictator. Now, he’s making inroads elsewhere. Something went down in Sri Lanka with some revolution they’re blaming on him, even though that’s pretty far. I suppose it’s safer than Singapore, with its Claw-related terrorist attacks, which is right there by the Philippines, but he managed to take North Korea just fine despite it being right above South Korea. And while he’s doing that, the President-Elect’s going on and on about the need to pull out of Japan and South Korea while dealing more harshly with China.
I smell The Claw’s claws all over this, and not just groping the obvious spots. He’s fingering the taint on backroom deals right now. And it’s hilarious, because as long as people are pushing this idea of supers being a global threat, no supers can move against his operations without him using that to justify further crackdowns through his puppets.
It’s glorious. And possibly a complete load. I have nothing but internet-fueled speculation, and that’s about as useful as a chiropractor for about the same reasons.
Will I find more? Will Master Academy’s roll in my continued life be exposed? Will I ever be freed of my psychic leash to go on a fun-filled murder spree? Will I kill Venus?
All these and more will be answered… eventually. Probably. Maybe? Anyway, it’d have to be after Thanksgiving break at the minimum, and I doubt it’ll be that fast.
But I do want to take a moment here because Optimal Outer Control wanted a couple things said on his behalf. He hasn’t had a whole lot to be grateful for this year, or many years lately, but he’s tickled pink to know he can help at least a few people out there enjoy their lives a little more. It doesn’t pay the bills, but it makes him feel a tiny bit better. Helped him through his depression quite a bit. From time to time, he even feels like some sort of internet celebrity of extremely minor fame, but those moments don’t last long enough to lead to yelling at people asking them if they know who he is. So Optimal Outer Control wanted to take a brief amount of time when I was done talking about murder and mayhem to say thanks to the readers that help to make his day, and whose days he hopefully helps make a little better.
Don’t know why he’s acting like that, though. I’m the one doing all the work here. Eh, it’d probably be too much trouble to find a new patsy on that world anyway. I’ll let him go ahead and take the credit this time. Now go out there and stuff yourself with food as autumn ends and the Christmas wights prepare to march upon us, engulfing the entire year in snow and jingley bells, led by their blood-red king.
For after this Thanksgiving… winter is coming.