Just to make it clear, I’m not going hero. Not white hat. Currently, my interests and those of some heroes align.
My war against the Ukrainian mob has stalled. They relocated their big operations. The info on the computer’s worthless for hunting them down.
That said, I used stolen materials to upgrade my armor. With better materials, the exoskeleton I wear underneath can handle more stress and impact without as many problems. My bones can still break, but the suit should hold up.
The new cape looks good, too. I have a way to release it quickly. Bulletproof, stab proof, and properly scotchguarded. That last one should come in real handy if I fight a Scot. It hides the battery in the rear of the suit pretty well, too. The pack still needs plating to properly absorb all the kinetic energy, though. I mean, just because a bullet won’t penetrate doesn’t mean it can’t do damage. For those who don’t know, the bullet still carries a lot of kinetic energy concentrated into a small area. A material that simply doesn’t get penetrated by it helps, but some sort of armor needs to absorb the blow and disperse the kinetic energy to prevent any further harm. That’s why my little cape trick as The Missile Patriot still knocked a guy out. I swung my cape so it covered him, then shot him. No penetration, but enough trauma to put him out of the fight.
Another tool I’ve stuck up my arsenal is a handy new chicken grenade. Half rubber chicken, half grenade, all awesome. Why did it cross the road? Who knows? Just hope you never see it jay walkin’ your way.
And, last but not least, my most loyal of weapons: the laser potato peeler. The kitchens here could do without one. From there, I just had to build a special handle with a laser inside. Almost got something mixed up with the chicken grenades. That would have been messy if I hadn’t caught it in time, but it gave me an idea that I want to explore in the future. Can a bomb power lasers? No, I’m thinking of this the wrong way. Can a power source for a bunch of lasers be set to overload and explode? Save that idea for later. I have to use my brainpower in other ways.
I sat around in the library, where I arranged printouts and computers to try and show me a bunch of information on the situation at once. I talked to myself, as I do sometimes. “Ok, so if I headed up this plot, why would I be doing it? Ok, we got a militia. Imported, and yet also domestic. And I’m backing them through a Ukrainian mob, somehow. Weapons? But most of them brought their own. One gun. One gun. Why only one gun? The hell did they get so jumpy over that one gun? What was the point of that?”
I tapped my chin as I spun around upside down. “Ok, so maybe they got jumpy. But give them credit. These are Eastern Europeans. You get them on dash cam dodging crashing satellites while driving and they don’t give a fuck. They did this deliberately.”
I hung around and spun on kit, seeing if moving my brain around in a circle would stimulate different areas by confusing the neurons into creativity. That’s nonsense, by the way, but it’s useful nonsense. But were they pulling useful nonsense like I might? I doubt it. It’s confuses the issue, true, but it hurts both sides of the equation. It de-legitimizes the protesters and militia’s grassroots pretense. And it exposes the Ukrainians’ operations, makes them look like foreigners influencing right wing domestic movements. I can’t help but think they’re doing that for a good reason. The main one I’m coming up with that they’d risk this exposure is that there’s more to it.
So, a distraction? From what? There’s an assload of rebuilding going on, because real buildings have curves. Other than that, there’s just not too much around the city worth this level of conspiracy. It’d have to be the score of a century to justify this for a mob, and this doesn’t feel like it. Too much effort for mere theft.
I grabbed a monitor and lifted up a keyboard to type in there manually, trying to make an external log of my thought processes. “Ok, so keep an eye out for major possible scheme goals. A huge load of priceless things that a good enough fence could put a price on. I dunno. Museums have to have moved or secured their best stuff by now, but I’ll check into that.
If I find something like that, maybe I can mess with the whole thing. Heck, I can even steal it before they get to it if I have to. In the meantime, I need access to police and patrol reports, to see if any suspicious people have been spotted around the sorts of places that file reports about suspicious people being around. I mean, it’s not like anyone’s every reported a suspicious person near a 7/11. It’d like reporting a snowflake in a blizzard.
Another idea I had, because I’m me, is that it wouldn’t matter so much because I’d be forcing people against superheroes in a conflict I’d make sure was violent. Nothing can convince some people they’re wrong, and it’s be all the worse for heroes to know they’re having to fight against such people with no way to make them stop nonviolently.
It’s pretty obvious what my favored solution to that one will be: kill them until they die from it. It’s an old-fashioned way of doing things, but I like to bring a newer, high-tech boot to the table. Not much I can do for that. Not like I can keep an eye on everywhere outside the city. The kind of people that’d sell them the kind of guns they want aren’t likely to file too much paperwork, and I’m not sure I’d be able to squeak in there anyway. My government clearances are something of a limited time deal.
The other thing that occurs to me is that the Ukrainians who replaced Michelangelo might have done so because there were more weapons to uncover. The problem there is that we’re not dealing with particularly subtle folks. They dress up in camo to go to the store and dress up as George Washington to do the sorts of things George Washington would have ridden out to shoot them for doing.
Whiskey Rebellion, folks. A bunch of rural farmers didn’t want to pay taxes on the whiskey they brewed up, started an armed rebellion. The only time a U.S. President has personally led an army in the field. They got to personally experience what happens when Washington shoves those teeth up someone’s ass and boots them in for good measure. Just another useless fact from your friend, Psycho Gecko.
So we’re not dealing with folks who would attack a school, then set up an armed camp, but hide all their really fancy guns elsewhere. Or I don’t think we are. It doesn’t add up to me, but that’s another thing I should try to keep an eye on. Or, since I only have two, maybe see about Triclops keeping an eye on something. Either way, I’ve got more ideas than I got body parts to deal with.
Short of being some suspicious newcomer who somehow knows where to find sympathetic people, it’s going to be hard to be more subtle than they are. Then again, they might fall for it. These are not exactly the smart of the people. Y’all gotta remember that these are just simple people. People of the land. The common clay of flyover country. You know… morons.
To complicate matters, there’s a new Sheriff in town. I found that one out while sneaking out of a local precinct after pretending to be an IT guy. I pulled the cable going to the building’s router from the outside, then came in pretending to be the guy meant to fix the internet. In no time, I had my own backdoor to their archives and filed reports. That’ll keep me up on things. Except, as I walked out, there was a disturbance at the door.
“Jesus!” someone yelled. There stood a man in jumpsuit. He looked a bit older, with some wrinkles on his face, a bigger nose than I’d prefer, and curly hair stuffed under a ball cap turned around backward. I couldn’t see his eye color through these goggles he wore. For a costume, he wore a white jumpsuit with a single black stripe down the outside of each leg and arm, with a black horizontal stripe across the belly between a smaller white stripe and red stripe above and below. His legs had some sort of pistols on his calves, and his boots were heavy rubber and metal. Those weren’t casual boots.
The man held a fellow of a different complexion over his shoulder. He dumped the guy down in front of the cops, a couple of whom knelt to examine the man. “Got here someone you should lock up. Walked out a store without paying over by Jumbos.”
“This man’s been shot!” said one of the cops down beside him.
“So?” asked the man in the jumpsuit. “He was a criminal. He didn’t want to get shot, shouldn’t have committed a crime?”
“We need to see your permit and weapon,” said another who crossed his arms over his chest.
“No you don’t. Second Amendment says I have every right to have a gun. Why are you acting like I’m the criminal here? I stopped a crime!” He moved, fast as a blur, to stand on a desk. He had a pistol out then, some big chrome .44 he had trouble holding straight. As he spun around up there, I could see the number three on the back of his jumpsuit.
“We have to keep track of every shot we fire, and right now you’re just a civilian who decided to shoot a nonviolent criminal,” said the one who spoke about the gun before.
“I don’t feel a pulse. Someone get the paramedics here!” called one of the ones kneeling on the floor.
“Sir, I need you to put the gun down and put your hands-” the cop standing up didn’t get to finish. He was knocked on his ass as the speedster ran out of there in a blur.
The dispatcher’s voice came through on the intercom system, “I need someone to get over to the corner store by a strip club called Jumbos. There was a shooting. Witnesses say a speedster shot a man and a teen boy standing behind him, then carried the man away.”
“Christ, this city’s going through the ass end of hell,” said the officer who had tried to get the speedster to stand down. Another cop came over to give him a hand up.
I didn’t wait around. My Gecko sense is tingling. It’s saying that there’s probably going to be more than just that new hero showing up in this city, and that it’s suddenly going to be very handy for Master Academy to have a herokiller around. I still need to keep an eye out on the rest of that stuff I mentioned, since I have to play this particular game defensively and there’s still plenty of room for the Ukrainians to knock over some big bank or museum of fine art, but I have a good feeling about this. Or at least a homicidal one. Same difference.