I wish drunk Gecko could handle the problems he created here. Well, inconveniences. I had enough sense while drunk not to really give out my phone number, so I have that going for me. It’s my email inbox blowing up instead. Yay, now I’m organizing an event.
First thing’s first, a little bit of basic body modification. I ate a big meal, hung one of my batteries around my neck, put on a snug armored undersuit, hugged a butchered pig, slipped on a suit covered in all sorts of material, and took a dip in a pool of nanites.
I’d put a lot of planning into what I wanted to change. Adding a little lift to my butt is one thing; adding a new pair of limbs is quite another. I thought about just having it grow a new pair of organic arms in line with whatever I had, but then I remembered I could be more awesome than the humanoid standard. So I pivoted to purely cybernetic prosthetics. Robot arms. Laser fingers, man. Maybe the hand turns into a minigun.
When I first thought about melding flesh and metal, that’s when decided to take a look at Beetrice’s arm. The human form is quite inefficient in many ways, and I thought I’d look at an alternative version. I could have gone for tentacles, I suppose, but then women would just launch the pussy at me 24/7. Think the London Blitz, but unrelenting bombardment by lady parts. And, sure, some guys with nice asses.
Eh, like I care that much, but people like to think I’m interested in finding one particular pussy to settle down with and fuck. Or, if we’re being fair, one particular dick to slide into my ass until it gapes alone for it the rest of my life. I mean, let’s be fair. I can take some serious dick. The secret is to not think so much about it while it’s going in.
I’ll have to go into all this another time. I’m getting sidetracked from the changes I made to myself. I grabbed the side of the tank with four hands. It took some getting used to the new appendages sticking out from where my arm pits used to be. Don’t get me wrong, I still have arm pits. I have double the arm pits. That’s why I had the stink glands removed. Boom, problem solved.
First stop, the kitchen. “Baba’s a spider man!” called Qiang as she saw me walking around the extra arms. I practiced waving at her with each hand in turn, then grabbed knives.
“Spiders are eight legged freaks, my dear. Insects have six legs. So I’m a bug now.” I made a cutesy voice and drew my arms in close. “Dun squish me, Qiang! Nuuuuu!”
She fell over herself giggling and I began to juggle the knives, trying to get the hang of my new arms. It was rough at first. The blades fell against my skin plenty of times, but the nano material I’d incorporated has rendered my bare skin stab proof and mostly bullet proof. I mean, there’s only so much you can say anything’s bulletproof in a world where the .50 cal exists, but I can handle most things you’d see at a shooting range outside of California.
Well, Qiang saw me juggling knives and ran up with her own knife to try. One failed juggle later, I dunked Qiang into the nanite dip. Now she has stabproof skin. She’s a growing girl, though, so I don’t know how that’ll play into things.
I couldn’t sit around juggling knives and loaded firearms with my daughter all day, and not just because we ran out of ammo. The emails kept piling up and I knew I had to go before the Directory. My plan was simple. Go up there and ask, “Hey, remember that time I saved y’all’s asses?” And hide the extra arms under my dress. It’d be easier if I put them lower down on my torso, but it worked out better mechanically to stick them right under the main ones. I picked out something with a little slack in the sides so I could hold them down there in case of a surprise attack by rebellious fiends whose first attack cuts off my arms.
When I ascended to the stage and announced my intention to hold a large conference with every supervillain in the world, they were surprisingly supportive. There were no official objections to me throwing a giant shindig with all those villains. I even got some applause. Always nice to have people confident in my success, no matter the audacious plan. So after the applause calmed down from my announcement, the first thing I needed help with was the venue. “Anyone know of a place, like a big stadium or anything, where we can fit everyone?”
“The Imperial Hippodrome, Empress Regnant,” said the Secretary Pro-Tem. It was a different guy from the other day, however they decide it, but these Pro-Tem guys seem to have preference for answering back to me among all these guys. “It was originally built for the 1940 Olympics, but the games were canceled. We were permitted to use it for football. With your permission, Imperial Eminence, may we authorize the resumption of our league after the convention is finished?”
“Hey, that’s a great idea!” I said, sitting up in my recliner. If I’m going to oversee this thing from time to time, I want to be comfy. “In fact, you might see if some of the visitors we have might want to participate. I’d emphasize that no powers would be allowed on the field, but this is great.” I really do. Sports is a pretty good way to get a lot of petty frustrations out of the way. Good distraction, builds a community, and it can be quite profitable. Especially, soccer, if you think about it. All you need is a ball and some simple goals. Much less startup cost than American football, or even baseball. Plus, you’re not training your peasantry to beat people up while wearing armor or how to properly use a club.
The fact that I’m utterly bored by it shouldn’t detract from the soccer idea.
As I walked out of there, a number of men met with the Directors. I spotted bank folks, people from our burgeoning arms industry, and some drug representatives. And when Ricca says drug reps, we’re not talking Sudafed and Viagra. These are the kinds of guys who make the cocaine Sudafed pushers snort at their fancy decongestant parties in Vegas with all the hookers. Most didn’t pay me any mind, perhaps due to a sign Qiang held up for me. It read, “Solicitors will be disemboweled, then fed their bowels.” I’m so proud of how she did on that assignment. Her spelling is good and her penmanship is a lot better than mine.
“Empress, a moment of your time!” said someone in a suit who couldn’t read. Qiang turned toward him as he rushed forward, knife appearing in her little hand. D’aww, who’s mommy’s little stabber?
“My name is Hu,” he said. “I worked for the old Special Intelligence Service. I desperately need to speak with you.” Despite that, he didn’t try to disarm or harm my daughter, so smart move on his part. Since he was the only one to approach, I decided I’d hear him out.
I nodded, and he moved past Qiang, only for me to grab him and flip him onto his back on the pavement. I had to hold Qiang back, and didn’t realize until I’d done so that I’d used one of my lower arms for the task. Nobody could see the arm, just a bulge under my dress. I let it flop down in front of me and pretended to scratch balls I didn’t currently have. Give ’em something to guess about. Then I picked up our very Special intelligence agent and guided him into the Palace Residence for a talk.
As soon as I walked, I called out for Citra. “Dear, we have a guest.” She’d been hinting about trying to be romantic, so I didn’t want us all walking in to find her reclining somewhere wearing nothing but cherry blossom petals.
“I’m thirsty, Baba. I want a drink,” Qiang said as I walked with the intelligence guy to a side room that had been intended to be the study of the apartment. I motioned toward the kitchen. “Go on and get yourself something. Bring me back something as well, please. And you, Hu?”
Hu bowed his head. “The Empress honors me, but I would not impose on her gloriousness or the heir to the throne.”
Qiang had run off anyway, so I gestured for Hu to sit. He refused up until I lost patience with him and sat anyway. “So, Special Intelligence Service. It makes sense the Claw had spies, but I’m surprised I hadn’t heard from them.”
He adjusted the glasses on his face and reached into his coat to remove a disc small enough to fit inside the palm of his hand with room left over and held it up for me. “If you do not have the augmented vision glasses, I have a spare pair, as it is important to see through them for our discussion.”
I smiled and tapped my head beside my eyes, shifting to the Riccan government’s augmented reality frequency. “I have that capability built in. Go on.”
He pressed a button on the disc and a screen appeared for only us to see. “The Service has been devastated by the events that led to your coronation, Empress. This is not a criticism, merely statement fact.” He looked uncomfortable stating uncomfortable facts.
I shrugged. “Facts have the ultimate authority. It is we who must bow to them. I value the truth from subordinates. Go on.”
He brought up a roster. “This is a list of our Non-Official Cover agents. They serve under the guise of civilians. As you can see, the status of many is unknown.” He scrolled down the list, showing that very thing listed under the heading of status. “We lost contact with them. Due to their cover identities around the world, it may be difficult for them to check in. If there are dead drops or secret back channels, many of those who oversaw them either died or abandoned their duty. Some defected, bringing the identities of other agents to their new masters.”
He stopped on one of the agents listed as KIA. It showed CCTV footage of a Chinese takeout restaurant in Dublin suddenly being raided by a special operations team of some sort. One of the cooks tossed hot noodles at them from the grill while the delivery boy pulled a gun out of a paper box with dragons on the side. As small as a one of those tiny Walther guns James Bond used, the shot penetrated three men in body armor before piercing the engine block of a black SUV pulling up outside, and seemed to continue onward. He didn’t too many more shots in, going down under a hail of gunfire. The cook in the back turned and fled out the back. The spec ops team thought they had the old lady at the register, but she whipped out a pair of chopsticks and soon had a group of highly trained specialists down on the floor.
It was then the wall became see-through and someone shot her from the outside. A man stepped in wearing a dark blue suit with gold necktie, his eyes hidden behind glasses. I still recognized him as the Riccan agent who brought me in when I’d offered the secret of my dimensional bombs for sale to the highest bidding nation. Looks like he offered himself up to another country.
“Those are not the only threats,” Hu said. Off from the kitchen, I heard something shatter. “Do you need to see to that?” He asked. I shook my head in the negative. Good thing I gave Qiang that stabproof skin. I didn’t kidproof the house, I houseproofed the kid.
When he seemed satisfied I cared more about what he had to say, Hu scrolled down to another name, listed as Incarcerated. This one brought up a pair of video screens side by side. He played the one on my right first, showing an Egyptian hero swinging a khopesh sword, curved forward rather than backward. Every swing, sand burst up and and swiped at a group of what I at first took to be ninjas. It wasn’t he stabbed it into the ground and hands of sand grabbed them that enough of one’s face mask came loose for me to see it was a mummy.
Before you could yell “Curses!” someone ran up. It looked like a man praising the hero and thanking him profusely, until the needle came out. Whatever it was in the hero’s veins, it knocked him out quickly. The thankful man then pulled the sword out of the sand and motioned for the mummies to help him carry off the hero.
When that finished, Hu put on the next video, showing inside a home with the same kidnapper from before. He hears something, and goes to open the door. Sand floods in, moving in and knocking over his wall. The ceiling collapses. The camera gets rolled around quite a bit before it settles on a view of the Riccan agent kneeling, pleading to the same hero from before accompanied by a few faces I remember. They were some of the heroes and villains kidnapped and brainwashed by The Claw, former Emperor of Ricca, with a drug that could block access to memory. I’d arranged for them to be healed by nanites and get the drug out of their systems. They were vindictive enough to end The Claw right when he was about to kill me. Looks like some of them kept on being vindictive.
“It sounds like we need to figure out what’s become of our people and resources,” I said.
He sat up straighter. “Yes, Empress. I was a desk agent, but I am one of the Service who remains loyal to the Empire. Please allow me and my confederates to reform the Service. I can promise you there is much to be salvaged. Agents are making contact. Some will link up and return. Others will hold their cover or maneuver into new areas. Others will need our help.”
He gave me a glimpse of the file of one of our agents in Alabama of all places. He was requesting aid due to the meddling of troublesome teenagers with superpowers. His last query had been asking if it would be appropriate to break cover and seek asylum with Ouroboros, the supervillain ruler of nearby Paradise City, Florida.
Hmm. Ouroboros would be a good place to start. He’s got some pull among villains himself for being canny enough to take over and hold a city without being one of the really scary powers.
I smiled. “I think I would like to see to this one. It may play well into my own plans.”
He nodded respectfully, then looked up as Qiang ran in, soaking wet somehow. She handed me a juice box, then turned and shoved a Yoohoo into Hu’s hand. She sprinted out while yelling an apology, “Sorry for the big water thing in the kitchen, Baba!”
Tsk, tsk. That daughter of mine. We really need to work on her escape artistry. I’ll have to pick up some straightjackets for her in America. If anyone will have them to spare, it’ll be Alabama.