Ok, so some Ukrainians have died. A lot of Ukrainians. I missed a lot of people in my initial sweep. Suspiciously large amounts of pre-corpses, enough that I could be mistaken for having been sent to handle some business for Johnny Butterfly that he didn’t want to dirty his own hands with.
Or so I would have thought before I found myself raiding a moving company. I didn’t expect a lot of resistance after heralding my arrival with explosives. Kabooms have a way of lubricating the murder process. That stayed true for about a second before some big blue blast of something hit me and knocked me through a wall next to the loading bay I’d just walked in through. I didn’t exactly have time to pull out a tricorder and do a full scan. And, no, my armor isn’t set up for that kind of analysis. My eyes do a decent job, but even they have their limits.
When I dusted myself off and kipped up to my feet, I man holding a large, vaguely-gunlike object with a blue glow coming from a smoking barrel. A woman stepped forward in an eight foot tall mass of hydraulic pistons with an operator cage in the middle. A half-seat, areas for arms and legs to be strapped in to work the thing. It had three-fingered hands meant for basic grabbing and lifting. The woman in it raised one hand toward me, the middle finger closing between the other two to improvise a middle finger.
“Avon calling!” I yelled. I dove behind the wall again, then jumped onto the metal roof. Another jump took me away just in time for another blue blast to knock a new entrance into the roof where I’d initially landed. I tugged the head off a chicken grenade and tossed it to a different spot on the roof. It banged around and began to walk, until another blast hit it and blew the place up.
I didn’t want to get hit too many times. It didn’t bust through initially, and seems to be mainly imparting kinetic energy, but temperatures were rising.
Between the angle of those two shots and my own memory, the shooter hadn’t moved. One more jump straight up and I came down through the roof. It crumpled under a combination of my weight and the speed of the fall, taking me through down onto the shooter. He crumpled too, but survived long enough for me to punch into his throat, pull out a chunk of his spine, and then force it back into his throat via his mouth.
I’m sure it’s all very poetic. Just think about the direction from yonder which wind breaks, and all that crap.
All this took very little time, time during which the other participant in this little rendezvous hadn’t managed to join in the fun. She solved that problem with a backhand that sent me rolling over the floor. First thing I did when I managed to stop is check the batteries. They were holding steady in their reinforced pack. I think the cape helps that as well.
The armor was impressive… for moving shit. Based on that hit, it didn’t have the joints to allow it to impart enough force to fight me with blows. Under my helmet, I smiled. Then I began laughing at it all.
“What’s so funny?” asked the woman, moving toward me in the walker.
I reached up to unhook my cape and spun around, ending it by throwing the cape against the operator cage so she couldn’t see. It hung there despite her wiggling. She turned in circles, sweeping the air in the hopes of hitting little ol’ me. She finally got one arm loose from controlling one of the walker’s limbs to pull the cape off, unveiling a headless rubber chicken walking toward her.
Hard to control robotic arms and legs when your own are no longer attached to you. Then again, there wasn’t much left for them to be attached to after that. I stood up from where I crouched in the corner, chuckling in my own amusement over the situation, before snatching my falling cape out of the air and reattaching it.
The building turned out to be a small treasure trove. Drugs, sure, but also lab equipment, weaponry, gadgets, and so on. They used the movers as a cover for a delivery service. I should have passed right over it and gone straight to the manager’s office. By the time I made it there, I had to bust my way through a small barricade. I found a desk with an empty gallon-sized plastic bag on it coated with pink powder on the inside. Some of that powder remained on the desk itself, underneath the face of a man who appeared unconscious and possibly even dead. I didn’t stop to examine his breathing because a trashcan nearby threatened to burn the whole place down, and behind that was an empty floor safe that I suspected held important paper documents now in the trashcan.
I grabbed the trash can and dashed its contents over the desk, knocking the man’s head hard enough to send his body to the floor with a bong noise. I heard him groan as I patted down the ashes, looking for a solid fragment. When nothing looked usable, I turned to the guy on the floor and picked him up. “Ok, crotch sweat. Time to talk to Uncle Gecko about where you ship the money to, or who keeps ordering jets and super legs to put on the Justice Bumpkins of America.”
He opened red eyes to look at me. No, actually glowing red. Then he reached up with hands that seemed a little large for a human to grab my wrists. He swung me and tossed me through a wall. Brick, in this instance. Felt like part of my spine got smashed through my pelvis, a sensation I normally associate with cheap Mexican food working its way out into the toilet. I skidded a bit, as metal does, and looked up to find the man bursting out of his clothing, his skin growing pale pink. Muscles bulged everywhere on him, and made it seem as though they squeezed the hair off his head as they rippled and grew.
This left me with the unfortunate realization that he likely wouldn’t talk to me. I’m also ill-equipped to hold someone prisoner right now in my secret lair over a strip club. That only left me with killing the guy, and… well, I could. But why? I don’t mean that as some philosophical thought experiment. Just why should I be bothered to kill a rampaging giant naked guy who won’t give me the information I want when I could leave and let the people I hate have to deal with him?
That’s just what I did. I passed over an APC followed by a truck holding a trio of militia heroes with a pair of red, white, and blue truck nuts. Let those asshats deal with the big guy. I can’t call him a colossus, and I never liked the thought of calling someone a living obelisk. On the other hand some sort of building terminology would be appropriate. Plus, he’s distinctly angry. I got it! The military and militia versus… The Raging Erection!
So… super drugs. Well, apparently it takes a bit of an overdose, if that plastic bag was any indication. But I don’t need coked-up managers. I need, eventually, to find myself the higher up who can negotiate. Sure, I could have tried that with the bear woman I killed the other day, but I brutally maimed her son. And I didn’t think about it at the time. What? It’s fun killing like this again.
But I still have good reasons for figuring out what the Ukrainian mafia’s doing. Unfortunately, the lines of communication just aren’t so great. Which gave me an idea. I circled back around to the ruins of the moving company, which marked the beginning of a swath of destruction leading elsewhere. It involved a wrecked APC, though, so good call on my part.
After a bit of searching, I found the manager’s cell phone. I wasn’t sure it would be intact at this point, but the only casualty was the screen. A bit of fixing up back at my evil lair, Mt. Doomboobs, and it would work perfectly, but it looked like a normal phone. That would not do. No, a little more rifling through his possessions and I found a crappy old phone, one of the ones that could still be used to give someone a concussion. THAT was the phone I was looking for. Any organized criminals know you don’t just go around making phone calls about criminal activity on your own normal phone. It could be hacked or wiretapped.
The messages were all in Ukrainian, but in the Latin alphabet as opposed to Cyrillic. The last one said, “The enemy is here. I will destroy the information.”
He received a message in the meantime. “Who is he?”
My answer was simple. “The Deathless. The Basilisk of Peklenc. Psycho Gecko. If you are willing to negotiate, we can meet for milkshakes. Send sharp woman from Michelangelo’s.”
I set up a meeting for a local place, The Yard. A large sign of their mascot, a curvy cowgirl holding a milking bucket in one hand and a stool in the other, stood guard over me and was rigged to fall down on my picnic table if I gave the signal. Yeah, I drank mine outside. Between my armor and the cape, I’m doing ok for heat out here. I even kept the helmet on thanks to a small opening I built in that allowed me to drink through a straw. Naturally, I brought my own crazy straw.
The stiletto woman, with her crisp coat and pulled-back hair, approached me from behind. I made it easy by sitting with my back to the street. “Are you here in the hopes for peace?”
“I give out peace all the time. The final peace, often enough. But you and yours have my attention only because of your connection to another group. I would like information. Once I have it, I have no reason to mess with you. Simple, right?” I turned and held up my chocolate shake with chopped up Nutter Butter pieces in it. “You want a milkshake? Their milkshakes are what bring all the boys to The Yard.”
I waited, sipping on my own drink, while she got herself a hot fudge shake. “How about this weather?” I asked at first, making small talk with all the patience of the winning side.
“This weather is shit. It is too warm. I remember you came to me asking how someone obtained a gun.”
I nodded and kept working on my shake.
“I have been advised to tell you that an interested party outside the United States paid us a lot of money to supply weapons and equipment to a group of people who would disrupt superhero activity in the country.”
I nodded. “A win-win.”
“Yes,” she said, adjusting the shades covering her eyes. “They also threatened that if we did not help, our homeland would be annexed by the Russian Federation.”
“So they’re Russian?”
She shook her head. “We do not know who, but they provided the location of a ship the Russians were sending to intercept one of our smugglers. I am told they were shown this person calling the ship and in five minutes it changed course. They assured me this person had no affiliation with the Russians.”
I found it a bit interesting that the only thing they’d tell me is the person wasn’t Russian. “So you provided weapons and equipment. Did your people create these new cyborgs?”
She shook her head. “I can tell you that we sent a lot of the parts to a scientist. His name is Darron Creeper. I think he changed these men. Is there anything else?”
I took a moment to think it over. Ok, so these Ukrainians are the middle men, threatened by stick and tempted by carrot. I can buy that. And whoever this is has somebody in with the Russian military. That’s interesting. I might get a chance to steal Lenin’s body if I have to head over there.
I shrugged. “I don’t think so. But if I find this Dr. Creeper’s lab and this is wrong, I’m coming for your ass. Like, seriously. You’re going to spread, and nine months later, you’ll pop out a fucking switchblade with googly eyes that look like mine. And you’ll do it because everybody else you know in this world is going to die so quickly, the obituaries won’t even need to bother adding a part about them being survived by any friends, family, or pets. That’s right, I’ll strangle your bunny and punish your pussy, all in one night. So you better pray y’all don’t need all that extra money to pay the ferryman a wholesale rate, ya dig?”