I didn’t feel like doing Jack Squat, or any of the other squats out there. I know, it’s a bit odd for me to actually try and relax for a bit. Especially while surrounded by all kinds of heroes who would like nothing more than to run punting practice on my face until I looked like a kidney stone with a bad wig. So I decided to take it easier and just do a little shopping. Well, shopping at Michelangelo’s House of Negotiable Stuff, with its new Eastern European staff.
“To what do we owe this pleasure, catboy?” asked the sharp-dressed woman who looked like she could have hidden a stiletto in her heel. Not due to walking, understand, just because she positively radiates a desire to stab people. And not just me. Trust me, there’s a difference. In my case, it makes the ones who want to stab everyone slightly more hospitable. They don’t have anything against me specifically. Yet.
I shrugged. “Just doing a little post-Christmas shopping. You know how it is. You sneak out to try and buy up all the discounted candy and take advantage of deals from desperate salespeople.”
She typed into her computer on her desk. “We do not conduct business in that way. Our merchandise is always at a premium for a number of reasons.”
“Eh, so you say. I’d like to do some browsing anyway. I have a couple of things I need. Some rocket propellant. Chemical, preferably. That Russian electrical stuff doesn’t have the kick I need. Most of the things on my wishlist are little odds and ends like that, stuff I can’t make myself.” I leaned on the desk. “I’m sure you’ve got at least some of that laying around somewhere nearby, right? The previous owner used have at least a little bit of that laid out. Call it bad organization, but I liked going through it.”
She looked at me through her dark sunglasses, her expression not particularly friendly. Like one of Robert Palmer’s models from the music video “Simply Irresistible”. Like a stork with an attitude and a submachine gun. “Michelangelo’s is under the same ownership as before and is open for all the regular customers. However, procedures have changed. We will not allow you to rifle through equipment. Give me a list and we will determine if we have it on-site or nearby. We can bring it to you in a short amount of time if we have it nearby. Special items may require longer travel time. These are the rules. If you do not like them, then get used to not liking them.”
I raised my hands. “Nah, I gotcha. Things have changed now that Michelangelo’s no longer seeing people face to face. Alright, hand me something and I’ll write out a list.”
I know, I know. What’s so interesting about me going shopping? I didn’t even check out their selection of high heels. She was able to give me a confirmation on the pieces they had right from there. She even let me know which one would need to be brought in from further afield. At the end of which, I had one last request. “Oh yeah, one last thing. A friend of mine. Well, more like a friend of a friend… of a cousin.. anyway, he wanted me to check on a weapon for him. A very specific, abnormal gun.”
“How specific and abnormal?” asked the serrated saleswoman/secretary before me.
I held up a picture of the weapon that our prisoner used to shoot me. I don’t know if he’s been talking. I’m not allowed to see him. I tried to tell them that honeyboarding is perfectly legal. Plus, it’s perfectly safe as long as the person talks before too much gets in there.
She had to leave to go see about it, leaving my to my thoughts and how I suspect the Master Academy really doesn’t want me looking into this on my own.
If they weren’t going to let me play any of their reindeer games, I figured I’d get a good look at the weapon itself and hunt it down. So that’s what I was doing, checking at the nearest possible source. It sounds lazy, but I think it makes sense when I think about it, too.
I don’t know where these guys are from. Most people think of these militia types as a product of the Southern United States alone, but there are many from the Midwest, West, and all sorts of rural areas. Guns are easy to find in such areas. If anything, it’s even easier for these guys to do what they did in such areas. Cops aren’t around people’s houses so much to notice someone’s modified a gun to be fully automatic or stockpiling grenades. Out in “the country,” it’s not uncommon for people to just not care about that sort of thing. It’s someone else’s problem, at least until someone shoots up a church or a school or a movie theater. Then it’s all “He never gave us anything to suspect him. Not even that time he bought the military grenade launcher for deer hunting.”
Horrible idea, by the way. Instead of making a trophy out of its head and horns, you’d be lucky to get a wind chime.
I could keep going on that particular tangent, but that’d be shooting a dead horse. My point being, normal guns are easy. Now, it’s possible one of them happened to be some super mad genius sort and put together a sophisticated piece of super tech with some nifty materials. I may not be able to massage may way through a weapon straight outta Star Wars anymore, but I know enough about which end is the dangerous one. Also, if anyone ever presents you with an incredible new rifle that far out-values the job used to pay for it, always ask what the little red button on the side does. And I know that it’s possible to put a gun like that together in their bunch, but odds are against it. And asking some questions will help get it all figured out and eliminate possibilities.
Because with it being more likely that someone purchased such a gun, we have to ask where would someone acquire such a thing. Would a seller of super-tech set up shot in the middle of nowhere, with hardly any potential customers and nowhere to hide if things go south? Possibly, for the same reasons as to why regular guns do so well. BUT. Cities have people. And money. Customers. Plus, the people really don’t care so much about anything that doesn’t threaten themselves personally. In many ways, it’s like the rural areas, but with more people, more jobs, and busier cops.
Ya know, both groups are really a lot alike. The difference, I suspect, is that one has better access to jobs and the latest in innovations, and the other adopts some sort of general rural identity involving camo and the naval jack of attempted treason. It’s the camo that really makes me wonder… but I’m wondering and wandering too much.
Super guns and super other stuff is more likely to happen in a big city. Bottom line. Nobody cares about the Super-Avenger of South Dakota, who probably has to fly an hour each way to chase down someone who passed on the wrong stretch of road. Incidentally, that same lack of anything is why both the U.S. Military and villains with good transportation love those areas. The military liked to build underground bunkers and store nukes there. The supervillains… come to think of it, that’s the same reason they like flyover country. They just add teleporters or jets.
Now that y’all have waited so long, just like me, let’s get some answers to my innocent question about guilty weapons. It took awhile before they got back me, but their answer was definitive.
I sat there in the office, my back to one of the doors. She had one behind the office as well. She stepped back in that one. A couple of large bodies stepped through the door behind me. I’d say men, but one of them put a rather hairless hand with painted fingernails on my shoulder. Lots of tattoos, too. I saw them snake up the wrist and on up under the shirt.
“Why do you want to know about this gun specifically?” asked the sharp lady.
I shrugged. “Somebody shot me with it. I’m running down possibilities. Crossing off names. Because if they bought it from you, I’d wonder how they found you and paid for it, and all that. Information you wouldn’t normally share, which I suspect is why you brought your two associates here. This nice lady here with the pretty fingers,” I nodded back over my shoulder toward the owner of the hand. “And this guy here, who was probably hoping for an easy day and an easy paycheck I bet.”
“He thinks you’re a woman,” said the voice of the person who didn’t put a hand on me in another language my implants translated.
From the other side, the one with the nails, the answer came in that same language. “He thinks you’re a man.”
Geez. The voice wasn’t even a giveaway.
“My point is,” I continued. “I suspect you brought them in because you either think I’m a cop or supercop trying to do their stupid job, or because you have something to do with it. Or some other option where you decided to make a show of force. And I can respect making a show of force, but there are problems with all this. I just want the information I want. No repercussions for you. I’ll be discreet.”
“There are several bodies and a blown-up camp that say otherwise,” the dragon lady said.
I winced. “The fact that you know that in connection to this is not a point in your favor. But if you know that, then you know all that information I’m looking for. You made your show of force, so allow me to make mine. Did you know it’s possible to hit person so hard with a fist to the face that you drive a bone up into their brain?”
I heard chuckling behind me on both sides. I grabbed the hand on my shoulder and slipped up, twisting it around. I grabbed two of the fingers and jammed them into the face of a man with a ZZ Top beard and a Lemmy Kilmister face. I grabbed him by the collar and pushed him back against the wall. I took a running start and thrust my knee up into his elbow. One crunch later and I did, indeed, put a bone into his brain.
The other one, an incredibly muscular woman, pulled a rather large handgun, chose for intimidation value rather than practicality, as such big guns are. Putting it that close to my head, a .22 could have done the job. She fired and the impact cocked my head. Whew. The ringing in my head from that one. Let me tell ya, that actually hurt a tiny bit.
“Making you eat that gun is nowhere near as fun as making you crap it instead,” I said. I reached down to my belt and pressed a button, revealing the power armor underneath. I snatched the gun out of her hand and grabbed her by the throat. I picked her up, choking her, and smashing her onto the desk. “Some say guns are phallic. I think no more than swords or spears. Axeholes are a different matter. Others say guns are for pussies. Now that one, there might be something to. Let’s find out.”
I punched that gun on up there, half curious what steroids do to bajingos. They don’t lube it up, that’s for sure. I reached around in there, too, just in case there were any gerbils in need of liberation. Or maybe her last boyfriend just got sucked up and had never been spat out.
I didn’t want to leave empty-handed, so I reached further. She kicked, and punched, and scratched. She grabbed a letter opener and tried to stab in my direction. Funny thing is, if she’d stopped and just let it happen, I might have had to stop. I felt something and grabbed it. “I got one! It’s in there good, too.” I twisted it to the side with a crunch. Huh. My audience had gone missing. Too bad. I think she realized I was no superhero. Or the superheros in the old country are a bit more vicious than the ones around here. I didn’t have time to ponder that. I had to pull aaaaaaaand, “Ta da! You really shouldn’t stick people’s spines up in there, you know? That’s gotta be unhygenic. Glad I didnt pull out a loaf of bread, though. Yeast is an issue in lady parts. Been there, done that.”
I tossed the spine piece away from me and walked around the desk, looking for any handy information. She didn’t have to go very far for information on most of the inventory. It’s likely she had the info on the gun there. And if not, I left her a way to get in contact with me. I left my number on her desk, next to a spine. If she wants to call me just to set things straight since I’m clearly no cop, great. If not, I now have a computer full of info on inventory and so on. I can make it profitable for them to tell me.
Not to get in there, get in the systems, and probably translate it from Ukrainian if the Cyrillic on the lock screen is any indication. I miss my powers. Almost as much as that one lady misses her spine. Or would, if she was still alive. And had the spine to say it to my life.