Ah, to be riding across the crisp Canadian wilderness in a semi-truck. Eh, it’s ok. I just haven’t been on too many road trips with another person lately. And it’s fun to get away from all the drama and Master Academy heroes.
It wasn’t tough to get across the border either. We headed through the ol’ checkpoint only to be stopped by a man in a uniform wondering what we were aboot to get up to. I let Creeper handle this one, because my automatic response to authority involves teaching them the difference between choking and strangulation. Plus, he was the one in charge of this whole operation.
“We’re bringing my daughter’s stuff to her. She married herself a nice Canadian boy. So polite. All this is too big to fly.” He nodded toward the semi trailer behind us.
“Maybe we should take a look at it, eh?” inquired the Canadian guy. He took a couple steps over toward the
“You can, but could we do it in private?” Creeper asked. “They like to do what she said is called ‘Pony play,’ and my new son-in-law would be embarrassed if everyone saw his horse tail.”
“Is that a type of whip?” asked the officer.
I broke in here. “I believe it’s a bit more literal of a tail. Like, one that you stick inside of a person around the tail area.”
The Canadian stopped and peered in at us, then looked along the trailer. “On the other hand, you two have honest faces. Go on through.”
I shot him one of those stupid two-finger salutes that involved the pointer and middle finger at the same time. “Thank you, sir. Don’t worry. We don’t intend to cause any trouble. We’re not criminals. Just wholesome Caucasians from America. The real one, that is.”
He narrowed his eyes at me before he waved me on. I thought I did a pretty good job of of pretending to be a regular person, all things considered. That border’s a bit of a joke. I mean, they do an awesome job catching 18 year-old beer smugglers. Most of the times. Well, some of the time. Look, they’re working on it, dammit!
Creeper’s not too comfortable with driving, old man that he is, so I handled a lot of that, staying entertained by listening to music and podcasts. Back on the first day, I had to take a break from a lovely little sci fi story to address him staring at me. “You seem to be fascinated by my head. What’s up? Some phrenological musings?”
He set down the novel he’d been reading in between peering over it at my head. “I happened to notice something odd about your features. You have a number of scars on your head. Are they from your fight with the giant robot that everyone thinks killed you?”
“Yeah, they would be. My nanites didn’t leave scars unless I told them to. I should have been making some of them, too. Time intensive without the equipment, and I feel like I’ve been rushing from crisis to crisis lately. It’s a bad way to go. Let the heroes do that. But that’s beside the point. I was in pretty bad shape. Some of those same heroes thought they might better keep me around. Thought they could use me in the event another big-name villain capitalizes on the chaos I left behind. And I kinda suspect one of them felt guilty, but that might be asking too much.”
“You don’t think very much of them. I’m sure many of them are good people trying to do good things. Haven’t you ever felt the need to help the helpless?”
I rolled my eyes. “That’s what I was doing when I took over the world. They’re not helping the helpless. They’re helping people who won’t help themselves or can’t because of other people. And people don’t know what kind of help they need anyway. I forgot that, too. It’s a lesson I very much learned when I first became aware I was a villain.”
“Please, on this adventure, I hope you do not seriously hurt anyone. Consider that a favor for me?”
I wanted to give him a funny look, but I didn’t want this series to end with me turning my head back around to look in the whites of another semi driver’s eyes coming from the other direction. I settled for a derisive snort. “I’m not promising anything if it comes down to self defense, but I’ll try not to go out of my way.”
That matter settled, I decided to chase away my thoughts with the continuation of the sci fi story about a small crew in a space station around the star Wolf 359. I thought it was a Star Trek thing at first, but no.
That occupied the more think-heavy portion of my brain until Creeper tugged on my sleeve. “I need to use the restroom,” he said once I’d popped out an earphone.
So we took a brief break to top off the gas tank and empty out the bladders at this little stop. It didn’t look to be in the best of shape, though it must have been near some small town or something. But we got a look at some sort of confrontation. There was a man in a hat and a leather vest. The hat stood out because it had moose antlers on it. Like big, actual moose antlers. Maybe they were. But it was just one of him and three of these other people who all wore jerseys and hockey helmets. He was having some sort of argument with one of them while the other two just glowered nearby.
I turned to the cashier. “Some sorta sports thing?”
I turned as one of the hockey people pulled the moose guy’s vest, tugging it up until it caught on his hat’s horns and hung over his face. Then the trio really laid into him. And while he may or may not have known how many of them it would have taken to whoop his ass, they certainly used enough. They left him a sobbing, pants-pissing wreck in the parking lot. He didn’t put up too good of a fight. Just before they left, the one he’d been arguing with bent down and searched through the guy’s pockets until he found whatever he expected and left.
The cashier whispered to me, “You want to stay out of that, don’t you know. Them there’s the Canucks.”
I frowned. “I thought you were all Canucks up here in Canuckistan.”
He shook his head. “They’re a gang. They dress up and some of ’em have powers. That’s how they fend off the superheroes. Don’t know what they’re doin’ ’round these parts.
“Moose guy a gangmember too, or just really horny?” I asked.
“He’s part of a biker gang. Those Canucks will get out of here before his buddies show. Knuckles never travel alone.”
“They’re called the Moose Knuckles. That one got beat, but you don’t want to face a whole bunch of Moose Knuckles at once.” He shook his head, his face a portrait of somber warning.
I restrained a snicker. “Yeah, sure. I gotcha. I know I certainly wouldn’t like to find myself face to face with that many Moose Knuckles.”
“That your truck?” he asked, pointing to the rented semi. I nodded. He went on to say, “You want to be careful with that. They sometimes hit truckers.”
“I’ll keep that in mind. Ah, there you are!” Dr. Creeper had finally found his way out of the bathroom. I filled him in on the beating and local gang situation while we shopped for snacks, subtly picking up what I thought I’d need to prepare in case those Moose Knuckles snuck up on us. Orange juice, a couple of energy drinks, a jar of ketchup, a jar of hot sauce, a pack of coffee, and a two liter of diet Dr. Pepper; they’d be in for quite a treat if they thought us easy pickings.
Well, we got on the road again and soon after my fears turned out to be justified. A dozen Moose Knuckles roared up behind us on motorcycles. They made identification all the easier by not wearing helmets but all sporting moose antlers somehow or another. Hats, bandanas, all of that, and all of which stayed on very well considering they were on motorcycles. The lead one had a pair of chrome horns on the front of his bike. I got a good look at it as he pulled up and aimed a double barrel in my face. “Pull over!” he yelled.
I cupped my hand to my ear. “Huh?”
He angled closer to yell it again. Before he could, I pushed the door open and knocked his arm. He wobbled, but didn’t go down until I grabbed a bottle of what started as orange juice, shook it up, popped off the cap, and flung it in his face. I know, I know. It’s expected that I made some kind of inexplicable bomb or acid. Maybe you thought flames would spew out like a makeshift flamethrower. But have you ever had orange juice and hot sauce thrown into your face? Sure, he had goggles on for his eyes, but he still had to breathe.
So down he went, probably wishing he had that helmet. There goes another organ donor. I didn’t bother to close the door the way they were taking shots at me.
“What’s going on out there?!” asked Dr. Creeper. I turned to see him curled up in the floor of the cab.
“Moose Knuckles. They’re all over us. You think you can take the wheel while I try to fend them off?”
He pulled out his ray gun. “You keep us on the road. I’ll handle these cads!”
He scrambled over and pushed me back against the seat. He poked his head and arm out, firing the ray gun with a zapping sound. I caught a glimpse of a motorcycle becoming a fireball.
“Throw the two liter!” I yelled at him. He ducked pulled back in, staring at me right in the face, before realizing he blocked my view. Good thing, too. A bullet went through the windshield behind where his head had been. He turned to look at it, his face going pale.
He gritted his teeth and grabbed the bottle of what used to be diet Dr. Pepper. It swirled with colors that weren’t normal, even for soft drinks. “What does it do?” he asked.
“Well, some people are probably going to die. That’s a bomb, so hopefully it won’t be us.”
Then we heard the yelling. He turned to look out the passenger window while I checked the driver’s side to figure out what was going on. Behind us, our attackers had been set upon by a group of men dressed as hockey players with sticks who raced along the road on rocket skates.
“We just got caught between a gang war here. It’s the Canucks. Quick, I think we better use the Pepper bomb before they get to fighting on us as well as over us. You better buckle up.” I grabbed the Pepper bomb from him as he strapped in.
There came a thunk from the side of the truck. I turned to see a Canuck had checked a Moose Knuckle into the side of it and sent him skidding along. Another Knuckle drove faster to try and pin the Canuck against the truck, pulling out a chain and whipping the guy. The Canuck caught it with his stick and the two glared at each other.
Into the middle of this mix, I dropped the Pepper bomb. Unfortunately, the Canuck got his hockey stick free of the chain by swinging it low and knocking the bomb toward us and under the truck. I decided to go limp.
The bomb must have gone under the wheels and cracked open, letting in enough oxygen for it to detonate. The explosion blew the trailer into the air, and even angled the front cab a little for half a second.
Once the noise and heat died down, I pulled us off to the side of the road and got out to take a look. On the plus side, we lost our pursuers from both gangs. They made quite a lovely splotch on the road in the middle of a patch of flaming wreckage.
Dr. Creeper stepped around the front of the truck and walked up to stand beside me.
I started to apologize, but something in the wreckage moved. One of the Canucks stood up, seemingly unscathed by the explosion. His jersey hung off him in burnt shreds and his helmet was cracked. A blue, arcing bolt struck him with a zap. He fell back into the pile back there.
“Well… any crash we can walk away from is a good one, yeah?” asked Dr. Creeper as he slipped his raygun back into his belt.
“Yeah, but your robot’s a bit wrecked, and I don’t think we can haul the rest like this.”
He looked at the trailer for several seconds, then sighed. “Yes, you’re right. That is most unfortunate. Can you disconnect the trailer?”
“Yup. Question is, do you want me to?”
“I don’t want you to, but I need you to. Please do so. I refuse to allow my first major crime spree as a supervillain be derailed by not having a giant robot. We might even find something to use against these Canucks and Moose Knuckles for doing this. We’ll show them, just you wait and see. Ungh, and please hurry with the truck. I’m going to need some Bengay and ibuprofen.”