The Empyreal March 4



You know what else I spy with my little eye? A boot. To be fair, the kick lost something since they sat me back in the chair. “Answer the question!” yelled one of the trio of soldiers in the room.

“Ok! I’ll tell you what you want to know!” I spat a glob of spit and blood onto the floor, then nodded toward the soldier to my right. “His mom was the better lay.” That earned me a punch along the jaw that felt like something popped over there. I think he felt it too. The human head is one tough bunch of bones.

That’s not a lot of comfort when his buddy got me in the gut with a punch from the left and the one in front kicked over the chair again, spilling me to the floor. With my hands tied like that, I couldn’t block myself. That makes a bit of a difference. After a couple of stomps, they righted myself and the chair. This time, I hocked a tooth chip loogie before laughing.

“Yeah, keep laughing. We’ll knock the rest of those teeth down your throat,” said one of them. It didn’t matter which.

“When you’re done with that, break out those sexy spiked heels you look so pretty in and walk on my chest a bit, will ya?” I threw my head back to laugh and caught a fist to my ear that caused me to stop and wince. Fucking ears, man. They just had to turn this torture session uncivilized, didn’t they?

They’ve dragged me in a couple of times, asking me who I am, where I come from, and what my powers are. The only answer I’ve given them so far is that I’m just a citizen who exercised my right to self defense. They didn’t believe me the first, second, nor apparently the third time. This time, instead of taking me back to my tiny cell in the reptile room, they dragged me to a larger holding pen. It had plenty of grass, rocks, and thin little trees that would make a very poor and very obvious ladder if someone attempted to use them to climb the steep sides of the enclosure. Not that any of the other people waiting around in there was aiming to do so given the lack of anything to down the trees with other than their own bodies.

“Shit, they got him good,” said a bearded fellow with tan skin who bent over a pile of branches, bark, leaves, and grass.

“You should see the other guy,” I said. I took a few steps, then flopped right on my face on the dirt.

I had an eye up where it could still look in that direction and saw the man pause and look at an old lady sitting nearby. Her wrinkled old face looked at me over the blanket she bundled up in before she said to the guy, “He’ll wait. I’m freezing.”

I gave them both a thumbs-up. “Don’t worry about me. I’m just gathering my strength. I’m secretly ready to pounce. Any minute now. Any minute.”

Bearded guy’s eyebrows raised and lowered real quick as the only commentary on that statement while he went ahead and started knocking some rocks together, trying to get sparks to catch. “What’s this place they dragged me to?” I asked.

“This is for the normals,” old lady answered. “They beat everyone to make sure we don’t have any powers. They expect someone would try to fight back or break out before now. I was a reporter when Jimmy Carter’s evil twin from another world showed up. Now, his men knew how to put a beating on. If any of my kids tried to beat someone up like this, I’d smack the taste out of their mouths.”

The fellow with the beard tried to one up her even as he worked. “It’s still not as bad as that time when the Chernobot attacked.” The sparks caught and he cupped his hand around the burning grass, feeding leaves to the flames in hopes the fire would grow big and strong.

“That nuclear-powered wimp? My cigarettes are more likely to give me cancer,” responded the old lady.

“What about the Rat Emperor?” a voice called from elsewhere. There were other people sitting a bit higher up, in groups.

“What about the Rat Emperor?” the old lady asked by way of answer.

“Psycho Gecko,” I suggested.

“He destroyed my apartment,” she said.

Meanwhile, our fire was starting to grow. The would-be Prometheus looked up and said, “My daughter’s school, too. He was an asshole drama queen. Good riddance.”

“Ooh,” I winced.

“There, there,” said the guy who just insulted me. “You’ll be back on your feet in no time. I’m afraid we don’t have any medical supplies, but you’re welcome to a room in our swanky hotel.”

I spent a couple days recovering, otherwise my escape would have been much quicker. It wasn’t so much that I couldn’t walk, just that it was really painful. I wasn’t going anywhere, anyway. Just an enclosure with high, thick metal walls all around except for the observation window. I didn’t see anyone back there most of the time. They kept them out of sight.

The lack of food didn’t do much to help that, either. They gave us stuff from military Meals Ready to Eat, just not the heating pads. The entrees are really not fun cold, but our civilization has discovered fire. Just not sure whether we should work on the wheel, pottery, or writing next on the tech tree. It takes a lot of work to get railroads by a time period best known as the early Middle Ages.

Sorry, but I made use of some of my downloaded games while I was infirm. Probably sounded a bit weird to the other around, but a guy’s got to stay entertained. Plus, it helps me practice. There’s nothing quite like being told you’ve ended Russian civilization. Now, if only I can get a rabbit’s foot and ramp up wine production, I’ll be the undisputed agricultural ruler of Stardew Valley!

But y’all didn’t come here to read about me playing games and drinking the little bottles of Tabasco that come with the MREs. Or listen to podcasts, though I’ve found some delightful ones. No, you came here to read about my amazing exploits as a premiere kicker of fine keister.

I soon found myself a night owl again, seeing sights others miss during the day. One night, for instance, I needed a break from Hotline Miami because the game was designed to cause headaches if played too long and found myself coming back to the world looking in the direction of the old lady. She had huddled over the smoldering remnants of her fire, her back and blanket toward the entrance area and its obvious cameras and the big window. She had her hands cupped over the fire and a small floating fireball between them. The old broad has been holding out on them.

A few hours later at dawn, the feeding door opened and a half doze soldiers rushed in, keeping an eye on everybody awake. They spread out, the moonlight glinting off uniforms that seemed unusually shiny and lacking in armor. Heat and fire-resistant material, if I had to guess. A pair approached the old woman, who sat up suddenly.

“You have a choice,” one of the men said to her.

She shook her head slowly. “You’re sworn to uphold Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. I have as much choice as you do. Are you going to defend your people, or murder because someone told you to?”

I could see the man frown down at her. Then he raised his rifle and pointed it right in the old woman’s face. A part of me got some wood from it all. The next few moments, I figured, would be pivotal.

“We have our orders,” said the soldier. The shot echoed through the enclosure and woke a lot of people up. I heard a baby start crying. The soldier looked up at everyone, then lowered his gun to put another couple of shots into the old lady’s chest. The others kept up a defensive posture, ready to respond if anyone tried to react while the pair that had approached the woman dragged her body off toward the feeding enclosure. I just watched and let them go. It’s easy when you’re as coldblooded as myself, especially because they almost certainly had reinforcements nearby in case anyone reacted emotionally.

Most of the group seemed to be in the dumps about it. Nobody, not even the bearded guy who seemed to know her, moved to take their place by her fire. They huddled up and tried to get to sleep under their blankets and next to their fires and all that. Everything was peaceful for about an hour. Then I calmly stood up, did some light stretching to knock the kinks out, and yawned. I turned sideways so I could address the people higher up on the ridge, which I put at about two dozen, and keep the window in my line of sight. “Anyone want to get out of here?” I asked.

“What?” someone asked. I turned and shot a laser from my laser eye, carving a quick circle in the glass of the window. Hurt like hell, the heat starting to cook my eye socket, but that’s the price I pay.

I ran for the hole, giving a Tarzan yell. A pair of soldiers stepped up, aiming their guns. Even if I wasn’t hurtling toward them due to momentum, I wouldn’t have stopped. Instead, zigged to the side until only the one on the left could aim at me through the hole and popped him in the eyes with the laser. He dropped his gun and held his eyes. His friend moved to take his place and got a hole through his forehead instead. I jumped through the opening left, wondering if the folks behind me would follow.

I know, why didn’t I just let them in on the plan? Because there were cameras and ways for the soldiers inside to figure out when people were colluding. The old lady’s death showed that much.

Once I got through the gap, I found it was a curved corridor with some nice plaster walls. I didn’t notice so much last time, what with all the beatings. A pair of soldiers came up around the curve to my right. I swiped my hand, catching one’s eye. He screamed and went down, but his buddy had a good chance for a shot. Would have, anyway, if I didn’t drop down to the ground as fast as I could. I quickly popped my fangs down and forced the venom sacks to squeeze their contents into my mouth. I rolled over and spat a spurt of Tabasco sauce into the second soldier’s face. He screamed as well, leaving one eye between the both of them. I barely even felt it this time as my laser eye shot out and severed the trigger finger of the one still capable of seeing.

That gave me enough time to stand up and slash their throats with my blackened zirconium fingernails, shooting blood into the air.

I heard gasps behind me and turned to see a crowd of the normals standing there, looking at bodies. “Grab a gun if you want to fight,” I said, panting. With a moment to think on it, I felt pretty damn tired. It was the laser. Imagine a sugar crash without the rush. But I didn’t have to do it alone. Some of the normals did step through and grabbed up guns from the soldiers. That’s when I noticed the bullet holes in the glass. “Hand me one, too,” I said.

I only needed it so far as the next enclosure up. The section the others had come from turned out to be another enclosure. Through the glass, I could see a pretty big group of folks, a burnt line in middle of an enclosure that had lots of dead, brown grass along the bottom, still wet from morning dew. On each side of the line stood men and women, a dozen in total. I guess they didn’t want to put too many superpowers together in one spot. Except, it occurred to me, they’d use tougher glass for that. It meant my eye wasn’t likely to do a lot to it.

Though, and this is when I felt kinda stupid, they still had a door that was pretty easy to open from this end. I threw it open and waved out at them. “Hey!”

I ducked as a fireball flew in and splashed against the wall behind me. I jumped out, showing my non-military clothing. “Hey!” I yelled indignantly this time. “Cut that shit out! We’re escaping, after all.”

The line, it turned out, curved over so that it divided up the ground leading to this door as well. On the left side, the supers started to approach. It was the ones on the right side, including one with fire, who were more cautious. “And who are you anyway?” Then he stopped and got a good look at me covered in blood and with weird stains on my face from the Tabasco.

When we opened the door to the next interior section, we found a squad of soldiers for about a second before fire and energy blasts flew. The soldiers quickly decided to regroup elsewhere. While they were at it, I spread out, opening doors and cages. People from a number of different legal situations took one look at the conditions they’d been thrown into, then at the escape attempt, and decided that the saying about the enemy of my enemy sounded pretty damn good. Good Doctor was in one of the low-power enclosures with another eleven folks. “You, with me. We need to find a weaker wall out of here. I have an idea where to look too.”

He looked around at the growing chaos, the sounds of screaming in the air, and nodded. “We’re going to need someone with some punch,” he said in his lovely British accent.

“Anything you can see that’d show us where they’re hiding folks like that?” I asked.

He scanned the area, utilizing his power of what’s commonly called x-ray vision, though that’s an inaccurate description. There appears to be no radiation involved, and it has different parameters than x-rays. “There,” he pointed into the interior of our little curving circle. “Lead blocks and rooms. Lead is often used to contain our stronger fellows.”

I nodded and headed for one of the intersecting corridors. We were finding little resistance, various superhumans spreading throughout the facility. They pushed back the military, which did not want to face them in this initial attack, and helped release their own kind while Good Doctor, the normals, a few other supers, and I all headed inward to find the rooms for the stronger sorts. The ones who could jump free, or fly, or punch their way out. So many handy release buttons on the outside of these rooms, many of which appeared to be custom-built.

One room had Elita the Warrior Woman chained to the floor, which was all one piece with the rest of the room. Lead, too, from the sound of it. I just smiled my fanged smile and hit a little button on the outer wall. The chains snapped open. I had to stand back as she punched through the door. “Hey there, darlin’,” I said. “Some of us can’t fly. Mind opening a door?”

A roar and explosion from what I figured was the front of the facility caused her to sneer.

“I think we should go sooner rather than later. I fear they have some means to contain a full-scale outbreak that will be going into effect soon,” said Good Doctor. “Let’s go back to the area you found myself in. The walls there should present no challenge to Elita here.” He nodded deferentially to Elita. She snorted and cracked her knuckles, but followed along as we all headed right back.

I know, boring trip, except for the rumbling all over the place. Some of those really powerful ones we’d let loose might have come along peacefully, or maybe they’d been contained by special means, but now they were free and angry. It felt like a low-grade earthquake, at least until the sound of extremely rapid-fire gunfire started up. Miniguns. And explosions punctuated everything. Whatever the hell was going on, I was missing it, and I didn’t need to see it yet. I was in no shape to. I just had to hope the adrenaline would keep me upright long enough.

Elita smashed right through the window back to Good Doctor’s holding area and took a running start across a rocky area with a small stream running through it. A series of punches bent a section of the metal exterior wall down and provided us a ramp to freedom, and just in time. I heard helicopters take to the air behind us. They seemed focus on that area, so our exodus, and those of others jumping and flying to freedom, went unmolested. Indeed, the zoo turned out to be at the edge of the military’s staging area, without even a Concertainer wall to hold us in.

I stopped as we got out and looked around. To no one in particular, I said, “Ah, smell that?”

“The smell of freedom?” asked the bearded man, carrying a discarded rifle with him.

I shrugged. “No, I mean I think I crapped myself. No time to stop now though.”

A burst of speed brought forth from our freedom, the freed prisoners got the hell out of Central Park. I barely stepped off the grass when an explosion behind me leveled the Central Park zoo.

Soon, having stolen a car, I made my grand entrance into Master Academy with a crash at the gate. Apparently they’re keeping it firmly closed, even when Psycho Gecko, the Good Doctor, and Elita the Warrior Woman are all carpooling.

I woke up in my cell underneath the school, hooked up to an IV drip. I’m already working on editing everything I saw to the best possible light. The beatings. The heroes chained up. The old lady and her defiance before taking a shot to the head like masochist bukkake.

I spy with my little eye, a turning point. In this conflict.



2 thoughts on “The Empyreal March 4

  1. Pingback: The Empyreal March 3 | World Domination in Retrospect

  2. Pingback: The Empyreal March 5 | World Domination in Retrospect

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