I jumped out the back of the obstacle course, untouched, singing a nice little tune to myself. “Shovel and Bone,” from a musical about Hell invading Heaven, not that that’s relevant to any of this. Though it did time up perfectly for when I smacked my hand on the floor and yelled out, “Again!” Then I got up and headed right back into it from the rear.
If only my armor was finished by the time I’d gotten through there. If not for the fact that I’d like to keep some secrets from the heroes, this new little quest of mine offers a fine opportunity to test it out. Of course, the best opportunity I’ve been given is the opportunity to crack some skulls, break some necks, and bust me some arms and legs. Preferably not my own, though I’ve got an idea or two about if I get hurt.
At least this time they didn’t stick me with some crew of unmentionables. Sadly, it doesn’t look like there’s a lot to deal with. A member of a crime syndicate might have a front of some sort. Maybe a surreptitiously-fortified compound or penthouse. Supervillain would have a lair; a hero a hideout or home. My point is that different groups set up in different places, partially due to means and partially because they’re all drawn to different things. Those can each present unique challenges. One of the depressing things about militias, aside from their tendency to want to save their country by destroying the government and citizens that make up said country, is that they don’t have an awesome base location. It’s a camp out in the wilderness northwest of the city. A stretch of woods with tents and a cheap chain link fence. The chain link is how you know they’re in for the long haul. Odd how improving their country never involves building things.
Ah, but that’s just my particular way of turning the knife. I hate all people equally, but according to their unique quirks. If I had one of those animal liberation people in front of me, I’d probably shove the impossibility of applying a vague concept like humanity to non-sapient animals in their face, just before slathering them in jelly and tossing them into a pit of starving raccoons. Which is something I technically could use in court. Oh, wait. Not inhuman anymore. Oh the humanity!
This bunch is equipped for raccoons, though. They have plenty of rifles, even if their beer supplies threatening any marksmanship that wormed its way into their brains by now. Hell, they’re probably hoping to take a shot at the racial meaning of that term, the way they fly the Confederate flag. And before anyone gets started, Cornerstone Speech.
They’re only showing small arms, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they have a few big guns stores away. Something that goes boom. Well-documented history of that, especially in their fetishization of that Waco bunch. This cult leader got it into his head that his god told him to build a religious army and prepare to wage war on the unrighteous of the United States, so the guy started prepping in his compound. The kids of the cult didn’t know what warm food was, but the group had more than 2,000,000 rounds of ammunition, grenades, and automatic weapons. Priorities. This bunch here doesn’t have a proper toilet, unless they’re hiding something in those big toilets or that prefabicated shed, but I bet someone’s got an RPG laying around.
I could always recon the place more, but it’s so limited I might as well just kill them all when I’m there. Assuming I can kill them. Psychsaur’s skirting around that. I decided to stop somewhere and test things out on my way back. If they’re hoping my own personal definition of “the wrong people” are my only allowable targets, they’re going to quickly find out how low an opinion I have of people. Hint: they are like unto ants, and I am their destroyer, mwahaha!
So I headed back into the city proper, riding around in my new Geckomobile! Sadly, I lost track of my lovely car, Black Sunshine, in everything. Instead, one of those Uber driver guys brought me back and graciously allowed me to pay him to take me around to certain neighborhoods.
“Are you supposed to be a superhero, or do you really like wearing those cat ears?” the driver asked.
“Just call me Behemoth. I’m no hero. Just a guy who likes kicking evil in the crotch. Save your thanks, citizen. I need to make a call.”
Sadly, the reduction in my networking capabilities left me unable to hear all the voices in my head that I needed to. I had to dial up Master Academy on this number I had. I’m sure Psychsaur just loves the thought of me having her number, but that’s what she gets for being stuck as my handler. “Hello Gecko.”
She wasn’t supposed to be calling me that, though I’m pretty sure the driver couldn’t hear. I could be lots of people with a name like that. I could be that Gordon guy who believes greed is good, or an insurance salesman, or even a videogame character whose levels were TV channels he entered. “Y’all are pretty crappy about keeping identities secret for a bunch of superheroes. This is a cellphone. They keep records. They won’t let you see the records, but they keep them. Also, they’re probably lying to you about any deal where you get a free device, so keep that in mind. I imagine y’all buy in bulk.”
“What do you want, Puss?”
“I’m looking for any crimes coming over the police radios. I don’t have one with me. I just need a heads up,” I looked out the window. Gun store, liquor store, pawn shop, liquor store. This looked like a decent spot. “Especially if they’re anywhere near… let’s see… looks like we’re on… seriously, Rotten Road? They’re not even trying with these street names anymore. Must have been destroyed a lot of times.”
“I hear they’re trying to rename this area after a kid’s show,” my driver volunteered.
“Right, kid’s show name. While we’re at it, maybe I can get a section of the city renamed ‘Angel Grove,’ but until then, I need some crime to fight.”
“Oh, are you talking to me again?” Psychsaur asked.
“Yes, sugar lumps, I most certainly am. Before I go through with Operation Fire Cobra Claw, I need to know all my bits and pieces function just fine.” I adjusted the crotch of my pants at that. I needed to do that anyway. My boxers were trying to turn into a reverse thong on me. Don’t split the wishbone.
“You want to make sure we’re not sending you in to get beat up,” she said.
“You know me so well. It’s like you can read my thoughts. Now find me someone I’m allowed to beat up.”
“Sure. Hold please.”
“Son of a Biz Markie!” I yelled, almost throwing the phone. When the driver looked at me, I told him, “She put me on hold. And she said he’s just a friend. She says he’s just a friend.”
“She your sidekick?” he asked, no doubt hoping to preempt my singing.
I nodded. “Yeah. She’s like my Robin the Boy Wonder, except with shorter shorts, and slightly less sexual tension. Probably because we’re banging. Hard. It’s part of her endurance training.”
“I’ll make you completely asexual if you keep this up. Worse, how would you like to puke every time you had a sexual thought?” Psychsaur spoke, having apparently taken me off hold.
“There are hookers who specialize in that sort of thing, I assume. If not, I can corner the market. But before we put you to work making people puke for a living, do you have a crime for me to stop yet?”
“Sure thing, I’ll send you the address now in text.”
And so I got my chance to once again inflict violence upon the hapless citizens of Empyreal City, starting with… Busy Bee Bookkeepers. I’d gotten out, paid the driver, and sent him on his way before checking in on the specifics of the place. I expected a robbery, a trespassing, or even beating the snot out of a jaywalker. Instead, I got a relatively peaceful-looking accountant’s office.
I called up Psychsaur again. “What, exactly, is the problem at this place now?”
“Embezzlement and fraud,” she answered. “The cops got the call to bring in Mr. Rick Faircloth. I thought you would like to start off easy as a superhero.”
“Not a hero.”
She kept up her teasing. “Were you wanting your own individual spandex, or can we stick you in a Master Academy uniform? Those are usually reserved for graduates. You might be able to get into a remedial course.”
“I’ll die first,” I said. I probably wouldn’t. I have to leave myself open to possibly infiltrating the place in the future, but why tell her that? “Is there a magic word I need to use or some special dance? Or can I just go in there and start busting heads?”
“You can just go on in, but there are some conditions to your ability to fight people now.” I kept listening, waiting for her to go on as I entered the place.
“Can I help you sir?” asked the secretary behind a window. Middle-aged, but not bad looking. A bit on the pale side, with a brunette bob.
“I’m here to see Rick Faircloth… and bring him to injustice!” I pointed my hand up in the sky. With my other hand, I held my phone to my ear.
Through the phone, Psychsaur mentioned, “Good luck. You can only use violence in response to violence right now, and deadly violence only if you are threatened at that moment by lethal force. Try not to chip a nail with the beancounter.”
The secretary ignored the dramatic pose and my conversation, looking down instead. “I’ll let him know someone’s here to speak to him. Do you have an account with us?”
“I’m here to bring in your boss on charges of embezzlement and fraud. I suspect your boss won’t go easy. I might have to punch him a few dozen times. Does he have any handy facial hair? I only ask because you never know when you’re going to need to swing someone around by the mustache and-”
I was cut off by the sound of a shotgun firing and blasting the air between myself and the secretary. I dove through the window on top of her. She turned out to have at least a little curve to her, enough that me landing on her probably didn’t break anything. My hands on her chest, I looked down at her. “Are you ok?”
“Let me up!” she said, trying to knock my hands off her boobs while sitting up.
I pushed her back down. “No, I can’t. It’s too dangerous. You stay here and, uh…” I raised one hand up to my chin as if to think, then put it back down, running my thumb over her shirt to feel her bra status. “Wait for safety. And to keep from fainting due to the trauma, take off your bra. I’ll be back to check on you momentarily.”
“You’ll never take me alive!” yelled Faircloth from down the hall.
“Fine by me!” I yelled back. Another shot rang out, then I heard the gun opening up. Figuring it was a two-shotter, I stood up and launched myself feet-first back through the window. Back in the reception area, a look down the hall showed Faircloth reloading an over-under shotgun. He must not have been well-practiced since it took him so long. I was more than happy to take advantage of the time it took and ran for him. By the time he raised the shotgun up, it was almost in my face, except for the part where I ducked under it and threw myself forward with my fist held out in front of me like Superman.
I aimed a bit lower than Superman, though. The big blue boy scout doesn’t normally use a flying punch on his opponents’ balls and grab onto one of their nuts while they both fall in the same direction. I did, though. I think I got Mr. Faircloth’s lefty in hand, too. He didn’t enjoy it. Unfortunately, he dropped the shotgun. Even though I had him down and moved up to straddle and pin him down, I couldn’t bring myself to punch the unarmed man.
Until he reached inside his suit coat and pulled out a papier-mâché knife. He sliced downward, opening me up on my left brow and cheek. Probably gave me an awesome scar. I grabbed his wrist in one hand and his nose in the other, twisting it hard. His head tried to twist with it, but in the end he laid there, screaming. What finally shut him up was when I yanked his head forward by the twisted nose and then slammed the back of it into the floor, albeit weaker than I think I’d have normally done. It just dazed him, not killed him, so that’s why I think Psychsaur’s work had me pull my punches. Same goes for my hesitation in jumping up and landing knee first between his legs.
A SWAT team burst through the door a moment later. They took one look at me over the downed and pacified accountant before the one in the lead held up his fist. “It’s clear! Good job, citizen. You’re a real hero. These accountants are always a feisty bunch.” I got an ovation from the SWAT team, which surprised me. There’s usually an entirely different situation going on when there’s me, a SWAT team, and the sound of hands hitting flesh.
They lead him out in cuffs, while patting me on the back. Psychsaur hung up on me sometime in the middle of all that to call in and advise them all that I was to be called Puss in Boots. The leader of the SWAT team thanked me again, especially since I’d come so lightly armed and armored. “That’s crazy. These accountants are the quiet ones. You always have to beware the quiet ones. They get caught, they try to take people with them. It’s a mess ever time. A major headache to deal with.”
“Really?” I asked. “Didn’t seem that tough to me. But then again, it takes a little more to beat me than strength in numbers.”
At least we know my ability to inflict pun damage is unrestricted. I think I’m ready.