Ok, so let’s recap where we stand here. Because the present is the product of a chain of causality, and that shit gets confusing.
After taking over the world, and being declared Supreme Leader of North Korea, I had the support of a few people, major supervillain The Claw included. Didn’t really talk much to the guy, but he knows a thing or two about administration, since he runs his own country over in the Pacific. After punching myself so hard I exploded, The Master Academy teamed up with The Technolutionary, a former stalker of mine with an affinity for technology and biology who likes spreading part of my genes around to other people. They turned me into human, even as a giant half-bee henchwoman of mine turned out to be pregnant. The Claw propped up my insect baby momma in North Korea to serve as an ally.
And he needs those allies, because he’s going around taking over less prominent countries in Asia. Now, as near as I can tell, he’s also got something going with Russia, and that let him extort help from the Ukrainian mafiya, and somehow he has pull with the new President of the United States. And they all helped bomb an American city while attempting to force superheroes to register and take a loyalty oath with the American government.
I’ll be honest, I don’t know what endgame the guy’s going for unless it’s the stock “world domination,” but he must have laid a hell of a lot of groundwork. I’m serious about that. I had the world held hostage with nanomachines that would turn everyone’s loved ones into goo if people rebelled against me, and I still got beat. This guy decided afterward to go ahead and be like, “Yeah, I can top that.”
Maybe that’s it. Maybe it’s a dick-measuring thing. Or he’s just offended that I managed to take over the world for awhile. Like the same indignation I had over this new POTUS who somehow managed to get the United States without putting in any of the work. Regardless, it puts me in a position of trying to figure out if I really care enough to head over there and get involved. I don’t think there’s much more I can do here other than assassinate the President. Which, at this point, would probably be a mercy. Turns out he was the weak link. Not the mafiya, not the Russians, not the militia, but the President of the United States.
So I could have done that. But first, I got a call from Dr. Creeper on my super secret hotline: free for the first five minutes, $9.99 a minute after that. “Hello Mr. Psycho Gecko. How are you?”
“Eh, mas o menos, Doc. Got what I was looking for in the end, just pondering where to go from now. On the one hand, I could assassinate a world leader. On the other hand, I could start a ground war in Asia. It’s a little up in the air at the moment. How about you?” Now, in most places I would have gotten a few looks. When you’re at a table in a nice restaurant that thinks they specialize in authentic fried chicken, it clears out a lot of space around you. If they knew what real fried chicken tasted like, they’d have run much faster. Empyreal City is good for many things. That isn’t one of them. They call that breading? Grind up some Saltines, bitches! If you’re going to be both a fancy restaurant and one known for fried chicken, you gotta bring your A-game.
“I am doing well. My daughter told me she made a nemesis. I told her it’s only a matter of time until she hears the pitter-patter of child sidekick feet running around her lair.”
“Cool. I hope it works out with her and her nemesis. It’s hard to keep a nemesis these days. There’s just so many people who want to explore their options. I mean, I have a nemesis, but she’s been too busy for me lately ever since I got hurt. I think she’s fighting other villains.”
“I’m sorry to hear that. Perhaps you should monologue to her more? Communication is important.”
“It’s tough. She’s always hanging around with her teammates, and they hate me. Except for one or two who I think tried to fight me behind her back. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one putting any work into the relationship.”
“I don’t want to insert myself somewhere inappropriate, but…” he started.
I tossed my plate of half-eaten chicken at the wall to indicate I was done in a safe and friendly manner. “No, no, go on. I’m open to advice.”
“What you do to get her attention, is it all about you, or is it about her?”
Huh. Good question.
He went on. “Maybe if you do something that is truly about her, it will help remind her why she has devoted herself to stopping you. If you are the focus, anyone could fight you. She doesn’t need to be there.”
The waiter that passed by plastered on a smile that I made real as I dropped a $100 tip onto the table. It’s not like the waiter cooked it. She was just passing by, though, and didn’t stop to clear anything away on either the table or the floor. “It’s possible I’ve gotten a bit too caught up in my own thing lately. I have been mopey, and this other thing I’ve been pursuing has been keeping me from something I really wanted to do to her ever since she had me fixed up.”
I’m referring, of course, to my intention to nail down for sure who kept the copy of me around in the Master Academy’s supercomputer and then decided to help it build a giant robot to go out and kill me. I’m pretty sure it’s Venus, but her boss keeps covering for her. Once I know for sure, then it’s time to kill her. And I mean it this time. I know, it’s been something I’ve been wanting to get back to for years now. I get distracted and just don’t find the time. But the Creeper’s right, and I need to finally do it.
“I hope I have not overstepped my bounds. I merely called about that favor you said you owed me.”
Fine, I’ll do it later.
“Yeah? Got something in mind? What are we after? Diamonds? Bonds? Bodysnatching a dead saint, maybe?”
“Good lord, none of those. I will keep the saint proposal in mind. I was going to travel to Vancouver and try something there. This city is too militarized. I think Canada is a good place to make a mark.”
I mean, that depended. I probably have more run-ins with Canadian special forces than most villains do with my homicidal tendencies. It might work out pretty well for him. “Well, if you finished your robot, I imagine you’ll make quite a few. So what’s my end of this?”
“I hoped you might help protect me as the muscle for my scheme. I am not a young man. I can’t fight or run and I am a newcomer to this life. It doesn’t exceed the, uh, amount of the favor, does it?”
“You caught me at a time when I was figuring out what to do and why to do it… so this is a pretty nice distraction. Sure, I’ll help out. You just better not mind if I take on a disguise or two in all this. My reputation could bring down a lot more heat than you’re ready for.” I heard a bit of a ruckus near the door and looked up to see an old friend in a black leather costume standing there, the visor all lit up. “Hey, listen, I’m going to have to call you back. We can settle more of the specifics in a little bit. I look forward to road-trippin’ with you.”
I ended the call pretty quickly because the Good Doctor was headed my way with his little black leather mask/hat thing and a good grip on his scalpel. I believe I had him perturbed. “You didn’t slip a tracker into my food, did you?”
He threw a scalpel at my chest. I ducked to the side as it thunked into the back of the chair. I reached a hand up to grab something to use as a weapon and briefly considered hiding under the table and tablecloth. The thought only lasted a moment before I rejected it because of Doc’s power to see through most things of relatively thin thickness. I crawled to the other side of the chair before standing and raising the first thing to come to my hand.
He’d seen me coming and almost rewarded me with a scalpel in my throat. I instinctively raised my own weapon to intercept. My fork caught the blade in its tines and deflected the deadly blade to the side. He punched me in the gut and reached down to slide another scalpel out of his belt. I grabbed his wrist, twisted, and yanked. That scalpel went flying into a nearby wall over my plate of chicken.
I backhanded Doc across the face, then grabbed his helmet and twisted it so he couldn’t see. Which actually didn’t do anything because that’s his power. I spun around, twisting free of his other scalpel to snatch up a left-hand weapon off the table. I came up with a spoon.
Doc stood off from me a few feet and fixed his helmet, then pulled out a fan-shaped bonesaw for his offhand. It looked a lot better in a fight than my spoon. Don’t get me wrong, it’s handy for cutting a person’s heart out because it hurts more than a knife. But it really distracted me from the conflict. I mean, this place served fried chicken. Why the fuck is there a spoon in this restaurant?!
“Is this because I didn’t oblige you by getting captured by the other heroes during our handling of Aurum? Because the heroes’ tendency toward betrayal is starting to get a wee bit predictable.” I twirled the fork and spoon around in my hands. There isn’t even soup on the menu. Nobody does fried chicken au jus. Why is it here? Why does a fried chicken spoon exist?
He swiped at me with his scalpel a few times, then tried a diagonal downward slice with he bonesaw. I avoided it, then kicked at his arm on the downward arc in the hopes of throwing him off his balance. I got a scalpel to my calf instead, so I got that going for me. I jammed my inexplicable spoon through his visor and into what seemed to be some flesh with some give. He yelled and backed off to grab at his helmet and the spoon.
He sure did struggle with it a bit. I mean, you have to sort out order there, because you can jam things into really bad places and make the damage worse if you pull off the helmet. But that’s also the first instinct.
I got cyborg eyes. Been there, done that.
“Listen, buddy, don’t forget to put pressure on the wound,” I told him, a little less-than-helpfully. I may not want to kill my old friend, but I still enjoy laughing at the expense of someone who tried to kill me.
With Doc incapacitated and myself not quite ready to create my own personal version of Old Yeller, I saw to my leg. A strip off the tablecloth made an ok tourniquet for the short term. Had to glue and stitch myself shut while Funsize yelled that I should warn her next time I’m on my period.
But it’s all cool, because I’m heading to a place where there’s plenty of healthcare to go around. A place where the beer is stronger, so the women are prettier. Land of golden opportunity, until you get so old they send you off an ice flow.
I got back up with Dr. Creeper and we made arrangements to head to a magical frozen ice kingdom with a partially-disassembled giant Nazi robot in tow. And I love that sentence. Psycho Gecko and Dr. Creeper are going to Canada!