“Not even the tip?” I asked.
Rouge rapidly shook his head from his position handcuffed to the bed of his cell. “I was just playing with you. I’m not into guys.”
“Not even when you could fake some Stockholm Syndrome to try and get free?” I asked. I pretended to drop the keys between his legs. “Whoops. I seem to have dropped the keys to those cuffs. I think they fell in your asshole. I better try to fish them out.”
“No, no, no, no, no, no!” he said. “I can feel them against my balls. You don’t have to touch anything to get them back. Or even leave, I don’t care. But I don’t like this kind of thing.”
I rolled my eyes. “Tease. Next time, don’t start flirting in the middle of a fight unless you want to go down when you go down.” I grabbed my keys back and left the room. There goes getting laid on this trip. He might realize I left him handcuffed in there before long. I might have some of the minion team let him loose later.
From there, I went to find Creeper. He’d been overseeing the loading of the weather formula containers into the airship when I ducked out to try and convince Rouge to join me for a little friendly swordplay. Imagine my surprise when I found him almost taking off without me. I had to run to make it aboard along with the last of the mad lab assistants.
“All aboard who’s coming aboard!” yelled one of them, who wore a pirate hat and a lab coat with a skull and crossbones on the back.
“And just who might you be?” I asked as we pulled up the ladders and ropes to begin our ascent.
I gave me a mock salute. “I’m the first mate, on account of my experience on my dad’s boat and my research into aeronautics. I used to work at the lab.”
“Well then, matey, make sure your poopdeck’s prepared for some action. I have trouble believing there’s only one superhero in such a large city, and I somehow doubt this is going to go smoothly. Things never go smoothly. People don’t like being frozen for some reason. I blame Florida’s immigration campaign. ‘Florida… because you’re so old, you only want to pay for air conditioning.’”
“…Right, sir, or whatever I call you,” he responded.
“I’m the Hussar, so that’s what you call me. You know, that, or, uh, His Hussarness, or uh, or El Hussarino if you’re not into the whole brevity thing. Either way, I’m the man with the sword.”
“Sure. Fine. I just wouldn’t go back for it if I were you. We’re a bit high up.”
I looked down to where I should have had my jian sword hanging at my hip and found nothing. That’s not good. And he was right. Most people think of airships as being fairly slow, but we’d gotten high enough off the ground that my survival would be painful and involve rehab.
I tried to think where I left it. I had it at lunch, I remember, because I stabbed it into the sliced chicken sandwich to call “dibs” on it before someone else could grab it. And then I used it to help spread some of that Japanese mayonnaise on the sandwich. Oh, and to pick some chicken out of my teeth after that. Then there was trying to get this one really annoying clinger out of my nose while sitting on the toilet, followed by washing it off in the sink and waiting under the damn hand dryer way too long. I even had it when I went in to try and seduce our prisoner with handcuffs and coercion. Ya know, if I had just slipped him a roofie, that would have worked out. Can’t say ‘no’ if you’re too incapacitated by drugs to say anything at all. Can’t say ‘yes,’ either, but that’s just how intoxication goes.
And after trying to make some hot gay rice pudding with that cocktease, I came straight here. Straight here. No stops. No bumping into pickpockets.
Well, crap. He must have footsied it right out of its sheath while he was giving me those pouty “don’t rape me,” puppydog eyes. I hate when people’s pets look at me like they don’t want me stuffing and mounting them. And I’m no taxidermist.
So that’s a hero back in our base with access to a sword. I’m sure it’ll be fine. Yeah, right. “Hey, first mate person!” I called out. He’d been walking away during all my pondering.
“Where’s the radio on this thing? I need to call back down to base.”
“We piled it all into the bridge.”
I burst into the bridge. “Number 1, report!”
From back behind me down the deck, he said, “You ran to the door of the bridge! Should be a radio in there!”
“Right. Hey everyone. Hey Doc. There’s a radio in here, right?” I asked, looking around at the people all standing up at tables and shelves with equipment set up.
Creeper pointed back down the airship. “Oh, there you are, Hussar. The radio was making too much noise and taking up too much space, so we moved it to the maintenance closet.”
“Right, thanks. By the way, you didn’t leave anything that could fly back at the lab, did you?”
Dr. Creeper shook his head.
I ran back, almost bowling over the first mate trying to find the maintenance room. They cleverly hid it in the room marked “Broom Closet”. I threw open the door and found myself inundated with smoke and noise. The radio operator had techno music blasting while he smoked a cigarillo.
“Turn down the music ya friggin’ bass head! It sounds like a strip club in here.” I yelled. The operator scrambled to turn the music off. “Just get some dancing girls in cages, why don’t you?”
“Sorry, my man. What do you need?”
“Whenever you get done practicing for your DJ gig, I need to call down to the base and tell them that our prisoner is armed and presumed escaping.”
“Got it.” He turned and fiddled around with the dials, then pulled up a microphone. “This is Creeper One to Ground Control. Someone pick up.”
There was a sound like a bunch of scrabbling, a thud, and a screaming.
I leaned down over the mic. “What’s going on down there? Come in!”
“Uh, everything is under control. Situation normal,” the base responded.
“What happened?” I asked.
“Uh, had a slight weapon malfunction, but, uh, everything’s perfectly alright now. We’re fine. We’re all fine here, now, thank you. How are you?”
That didn’t sound suspicious at all. “I’m doing good. A bit tired. That Rouge really took it out of me. And I mean that sentence in all kinds of ways. He took it like a champ. I was definitely not his first. And the mouth on him, geez. The guy could suck a golf ball through a garden hose, and swallow cold molasses. Feel free to stop by his cell, unless you’re a woman. He is strictly dickly.”
“Like hell!” the radio person on the other side yelled. “Um, I mean…”
I waited a second for a continuation of that sentence before I asked, “Rouge?”
“Don’t lie now.”
“Crap. Expletive meaning only, Rouge. I know you can’t. You’re pretty well backed up now, I’m sure, after the ramming up in there. Ya know, from the sex.”
“We didn’t have sex!”
“Lovemaking then, whatever. Listen, you need to go back to your cell and think about what you’ve done. And whatever you do, do not, I repeat, do not try to stop this evil scheme.”
“Uh, negative.” Then there was a loud sound and the operator started wiggling some knobs.
“I think he hung up on us,” I said.
“At least there’s nothing down there he can fly up here, right?” asked the radio operator.
I shrugged. “We didn’t buy a spare airship. Bank vaults aren’t just packed full of cash. So it’s just some cars, some vans. A few extra parachutes, but those aren’t so good at getting up here. Oh, and my motorcycle with the rockets.” I paused a second. “Do we have any anti-air weapons on this boat?”
He frowned. “The doctor said they were saw blade harpoons, whatever that means.”
“Get ’em ready and pointed down,” I said.
I headed outside to find the bridge again. Just before I opened the door, someone called out, “Holy crap!” I checked over the side of the airship.
Rouge, asshole, flew through the air, holding tight to my motorcycle as the rocket engines shot him toward us at a sharp angle. It was awesome, but that was the kind of awesome thing I should have been doing, not him. Not only is he a cockblocker, but he’s a crotch rocket cuckold. On the plus side, there wasn’t a whole lot he could do to take down the airship with a sword, or even his pistol.
He didn’t do either of those. Instead, he sat up and let go of the handlebars. He let go with is legs, too, pulling a back flip as the motorcycle flew out from under him and revealing a pack on his back. As he straightened up and began to fall, fabric opened up and spread out, revealing the purpose of the pack on his back.
And the motorcycle just kept coming. I mean, damn. Did he jam the handlebars or something? There’s wind up here, but it flew right at the balloon.
“Quick!” I yelled out impotently, “Pull a sharp right!”
The motorcycle crashed into the balloon and rammed right through, which is survivable. Even at our height, balloons don’t have very fast crashes. Then the cycle hit an internal support and exploded. Most cars don’t explode when they crash, but most cars aren’t loaded with rocket fuel.
A groaning preceded a loud snap. The airship tilted over sharply, throwing me against the side of the bridge. I laid there for a few seconds to get my bearings and figure out if we were going to roll even more. From the open door of the radio room further toward the rear, I heard the radio blasting “Nearer, My God, to Thee”. It contrasted nicely with the screams from falling henchmen, who would hopefully remember their parachutes. I mean, if they’d only gotten on at the last minute like me, maybe they wouldn’t.
But now wasn’t the time to lament lost chutes. I had a doctor to save. Dammit, readers, I’m a villain, not an emergency worker!
I crawled over to the door of the bridge and looked in. I saw Dr. Creeper holding on to the door on the opposite side, Vancouver far below. I could see the fear in his goggles as he looked up at me. His gloves slipped and he fell prey to gravity’s mentally-disabled kid squeezy hug of affection.
I pulled myself over into the door way and dove for the other, following after him. He had spread his body out to try and slow down. Good for him, because I didn’t have to rely on mere physics to catch up. I clicked my heels together and felt rocket science add to the power of gravity.
I kicked them off briefly as I tackled Creeper. “You ok?” he asked.
The way he clutched at his chest, I thought he might be having a heart attack. After a moment, he spoke up, “You knocked the air out of me!”
“There are worse fluids to lose,” I said. “Now hold on. It’s time to give gravity the finger.”
I swung my legs down underneath me and clicked my heels together. “There’s no place like ground, there’s no place like ground, there’s no place like ground,” I said as the rockets kicked on and fought against gravity. I didn’t add any kind of power dial, and fuel was limited, so I made my careful descent by turning them off, then slowing my fall with the rockets. When we landed, I fell down with Dr. Creeper over me in the middle of a street. Some people noticed us, but most were busy gawking at the airship crashing at a glacial pace.
“Thank you for flying Air Jordan, we’re now landing in Vancouver, the local time is 2:34 PM, and the weather is clear.” One of our henchmen came screaming out of the sky to splat nearby. “Correction, it’s raining men.”
“Holy shit!” said Creeper as he stood up, still gasping for breath as he looked at the ship, then felt all over himself as if to make sure he was really there.
I shrugged. “Any crash you walk away from, right Doc?”
“Yes, I suppose. That was certainly grand, I suppose.”
That’s when the cavalry arrived for the other side. Dozens of men on horses flooded the street, all of them armed with SMGs pointed right at myself and Dr. Creeper. “Royal Canadian Mounted Police!” one of them yelled.
Dr. Creeper raised his hands to the sky. When he saw me reaching for the butterfly sword hidden on my back, he tugged at my hand. “Discretion and valor, Hussar. We can’t break out of a morgue.”
I hesitated, then raised my hands as well. If it had just been me, I suppose I’d have tried fighting my way through the Canadian kilted yaksmen. “Fine, doc. But you’re wrong. There are ways to get those little doors open.”
“Let’s not find out, alright?” asked Creeper just before the Mounties dogpiled us.