You know, I needed that time away from all my problems. Really helped me think about what I want.
Sure, the world’s going to shit. The United States deported some supers. Nationalists in France attacked a superhero who had a Mid-Eastern tan. Some retired super in Canada was gunned down by a Canadian white supremacist. Even the British are expelling superheroes from other parts of Europe, essentially allowing criminals to escape by crossing national borders. And in Europe, you can reach a new country just by going down the block.
But that’s not all. Just today, the Ricca Imperium, aka Claw’s nation, had itself a big ceremony today, all nice and televised. They were showing off what they claimed were assassins. I didn’t recognize everyone in that little assembly offhand, but I saved the names my HUD pulled up for future reference. There were supers from a number of interested countries kneeling on that stage, looking at the camera with hands bound behind their backs. France, China, Russia, South Korea, Japan, the United Kingdom, Germany, India, and Australia were all represented by at least one. One of them, I even pulled up as wearing the costume of some old North Korean legacy superhero, which hinted at holdout loyalist elements in that country. They even had some villains in there.
The United States was hardly left out, too, and that’s where things got wild. I recognized Dame there, kneeling next to all the others in her skintight black outfit and glittery mirrored mask. She wasn’t the crazy part, but she’s important for context. Because I know she works with American heroes from time to time, and it’s unlikely she was an assassin. A thief, unquestionably. Great at finding people, too. But not an assassin.
So how does this get so interesting to me? Well, a gleaming cyber-lizard of a man walked up and down the long row of kneeling supers in front of a line of Riccan footsoldiers holding shiny, aerodynamic-looking guns. He’s the one that announces how the glorious Ricca Imperium had collected all the infiltrating assassins sent by other nations and brought them out to show that violation of their sovereign will is impossible. Once he got to he middle, he gestured with his right claw for someone else to step out. Out from his left stepped Eschaton, beautiful flames crackling upward. From the lizard-man’s right came Warman in full military costumed regalia with what looked like a .50 caliber submachine gun in hand. The things people can use when they have super strength.
“These superior men represent the ally of the Imperium, the United States of America. To our duty.” On that cue, his metal tail rose up, revealing a drill on the end. It hovered over the head of a super in front of him, a Japanese… cyborg of indeterminate gender. My HUD showed a name, The Style, and that he was a super related to the Japanese visual kei movement, hence the ambiguity. Some of those Japanese men make sexy women. The Style didn’t look so pretty with his makeup running, though. Warman put his gun to the back of a French super’s head, while Eschaton raised his hand behind the head of a Chinese captive. They all struck in unison, at which point everybody who showed the video censored it. No uncensored versions available anywhere, but enough was shown of lizard guy’s tail drilling into Style’s head that, well, it’s pretty obvious they sent the ol’ boy to a nice farm upstate to play with Rouge, Lone Gunman, and the Pink Pixie. He’ll be happier there. The fresh air will do that hole in his skull some good.
When the video resumed, it had a closeup of lizard dude’s face with some droplets of blood on his gilded extended jaw. A long tongue reached out and licked the droplets off before he said, “This is a warning. Oppose us at your own risk.”
The United States denied any cooperation with the Claw’s forces, and handed out printed maps showing the latest numbers of all the votes he received and states he won. It had nothing to do with the discussion and didn’t instill any confidence in his assurances about not being allied with the dictator. Or his intelligence. There’s a lot of concern about his intelligence nowadays. Like, a lot of concern. A lot of concern. A lot.
That said, it’s probably best he’s not getting too involved in things. With the recent pogroms against colleges going on, his take on it would probably be to tear gas another college or send in the national guard to shoot more unarmed protesters. It’s open season on liberal protesters again, apparently because a college was attacked by some liberal radicals. Then, to protest the existence of the group that attacked the college, as well as to protest the protesting of the liberal speaker before the attack, a bunch of people showed up armed to hold their own rally and got into a fight with the people who protested them. So now that they’ve shown they want to attack unarmed protesters, they’ve made other protesters more accepting of having the violent radical ones around to protect them from the violent ones who are going around attacking unarmed protesters.
Times like these make me really glad I’m insane, because then I don’t have to expect it to make sense. I just have to be willing to murder anyone. And everyone.
Meanwhile, the United States is pissing off Canada now. How much of a dick do you have to be to piss off Canada? It’s gotten so bad, some voters responded that they’d vote for me if the election was held today and I was alive.
So in the middle of this clusterfuck of a world, what’s a guy to do? Well, I still think I kinda owe it to Master Academy. I can’t exactly keep them safe forever, and it’d hurt them. The guy in charge doesn’t seem to care for The Claw, so perhaps I can settle that mess and call it square. But that’s not what I want.
I want my body back. I want to not be human and share a damn species with so many idiots. I want my powers back. I want to know why I have holes in my thinking. Holes like all the implications behind Technoloutionary, the only other person who knows how to transform someone to and from my species, having worked with Master Academy and where he might be now. Holes like realizing that even though my brain can’t form wireless connections, I built that into my eyes and THEY can be modified for that kind of connectivity. I’d like very much to know if someone made me a bit slower mentally, and I’d love to be nigh-impossible to manipulate that way again.
I want to set the world ablaze. That was the mission of the OSS back during World War II. “Set Europe ablaze.” Sabotage and misdirection to aid a war effort. Except I don’t have a dog in what’s gearing up to be World War III. And there are so many people who want it to happen. Empire builders, religious fanatics, nincompoops, fascists, warhawks. Lots of people want to bring everything to the brink of war because they think they can control the situation. Just like how high tensions got way back in the early 1900s with everyone perhaps not caring since they had their own system of alliances making sure they would come out ahead. All it took was one extremist in the wrong place to light a small fire that grew out of control.
Ambitious, I know. And it’s not like I really need a reason to light that fire.
I think I know just how to do it, too.
Lucky for me, Vancouver is having a bit of a problem with chaos. It has been continually storming ever since Dr. Creeper’s attack. If it isn’t snowing, it’s sleeting, and it’s almost always thundering, whether lightning is trying to kiss the ground or not. Everyone’s more upset about that than they are wondering about a mysterious stranger buying space in an office building. The night of Dr. Creeper’s assault, a bank had gotten all shot up by one of the Thunder Machine’s guns and money ended up missing.
It’s easier than trying to get money transferred from so-and-so hidden bank account in the States, and I don’t have to hold people hostage for something like office space. It’s a cheap floor, with cheap carpet and a few lingering cubicles the last tenants didn’t bother to take with them. Way too many fluorescent lights.
The perfect place to build a bomb or two. Or three. That’s right, Psycho Gecko’s getting reestablished, and I like this place for it. I have some cash. I have a destabilized city. I got my armor. But enough about talk.
I took my armor out for a spin toward a tech university in the area, Kwantlen Polytechnic. I don’t know what the purpose of an awning with a giant hole in it is, but they had one right there next to a building that was pretty much wall-to-wall windows. This place didn’t need to be teaching anyone how to build a catapult.
It’s a bit boring to hear about me raiding a center for higher learning, but it’s easier than long periods of waiting while stuff ships in. The equipment and tools at this place will expedite my rebuilding. So I broke in, busting my way in through the roof. I tried to slide in through an air vent, but I got clogged up in it. When I dropped down, the inside vent broke under me and dumped me in an upstairs hall.
Like I was never even here.
I stood up and brushed myself off, then traipsed my merry self on through the campus. It wasn’t long before I encountered a guard in a crisp white shirt and red tie. He took one look at a skipping man in power armor illuminated by the lightning and froze.
“Frank, is something there? You stopped talking, buddy,” his radio said.
Eyes wide, he pressed the transmit button on the mouthpiece attached to his collar. “Everything’s fine. Nothing wrong here. Just thought I saw something, but I didn’t.” He put his hands up and backed around the corner. After he got out of my sight, I heard him run.
This must be a really good college. Even their security guards are smart.
They weren’t the only ones wandering around. I found a wing with the lights on and somebody home. I peeked around the corner to find a group of three people all surrounding a large 3D printer, like a door frame on a snake terrarium. Interesting design to it. There were parts and wires scattered all over the place. One of them held up a pale yellow helmet. “The last piece of the armor.”
“You still need a battery to make it work,” said a girl standing with her back to me.
“It’s cool though,” said another with his back to the door. Ugh, a flat top? I know college is a time for experimentation, but some things go too far. What’s next, rat tails?
I stepped out. “Neat. Armor printer. Trying to make some power armor there?”
They all jumped, the one dropping his helmet. “Who are you?” The other two whirled around.
“Are you some superhero?” asked flat top.
“I don’t think so. He’s here after dark,” said the girl.
Flat top rolled his eyes and lightly smacked her arm. “We’re here after dark and my man here’s not a bad guy.”
“Guys, shut up,” said the one who previously held the helmet before repeating his prior question. “Who are you?”
“I’m impressed unless that’s just the printing plastic,” I stepped forward to take a closer look at what he held in his hand.
“It’s proof of concept. I designed this printer to use steel or even titanium. It can handle all the little details and joints, but that’s harder to see from just this helmet.” He held it out for me to examine. I’d say it looked like a Gothic barbute, a metal helmet that expands a little at the top, with the holes for eyes and breathing all connected. Despite the name, the helmet doesn’t come with black makeup. About where the ears would be, it had these ear thingies, like small fans that swept back. It was very medieval fantasy-ish. Dungeons and 3D printed dragons.
“Huh. Well, I’ll have to see about that. Yoink!” I pushed that guy out of the way and began unplugging the printer itself.
“Hey, man, you can’t do that!” Flat top threw himself at me and tried to punch me in the head. He stepped back holding his hand and some knuckles that couldn’t have felt good. The girl of the group wound up and gave me the hit with a chair that reverberated in her hands. I turned and grabbed the top with both hands. I pulled the topmost bar apart. She decided to back off.
“I think he’s a bad guy,” she said.
“You can’t take that! That’s my grade, man,” said the guy I’d tossed away.
I waved him off. “There are things more important than grades. Besides, this isn’t the hill you want to die on. Is there an access door? And if not, which way is the outside?” I looked around and found a window with lightning flashing across the sky. “Nevermind. I got this. Now watch closely, children.” I walked over and cranked up my energy gauntlets. A couple of punches opened up a hole wide enough. I turned to look at the group. They all huddled in one corner of the room, well away from any more chairs or anything.
That’s the good thing about having super strong armor, being able to carry useful stuff all over the place. It did get old, but it paid off. Now I have myself a 3D printer that can handle a number of complex builds, including armor if I need a spare set. Or even to repair my current armor. And who says it has to be all about armor?
I’m going to build myself another Dimension Bomb, after all. One with the capability to travel into another dimension and then back into this one to hit anywhere in the universe.
And, believe it or not, it will save the world from destruction.
What’s the worst that could happen with a planet-destroying bomb in the hands of homicidal madman? Ok, so last time it went badly, but that’s because I had a nasty bit of altruism. This time, forget that. It’s spite and selfishness and a desire to make everyone see the folly of their ways. I’m going to save the world in the way only a villain can. I hold no illusions that this will end all war from here on out like Dr. Gatling.
After all, I actually would push the big red button to end the world. Because I liked this place for a long time, but I’m not so sure I like it anymore after the way it has treated me. And there are many other Earths in the multiverse. So let’s see how many angels can dance on the blade of a razor before it slices.