Ah, lovely Missouri. The trees! Ok, so the trees suck. The weather! It’s too cold. The mountains! I don’t like walking uphill. I was lying about the lovely part, too. About the only good thing you can say about Missouri is that it loves company. If the stories from the fountain drunk, whose name I found out was Seawalker after a gift of a bottle of scotch, are any indication, they really love company. Company brings in new kids to kidnap. Company brings business. There could have been quite a conundrum there, whether to wear armor or dress. I solved it by remembering I didn’t like these people and had other shit to do other than leave the country just for their sake.
I gotta watch out for that, ya know. I’ve still got the reverse of diplomatic immunity going on. Ricca is at peace and no one will try to drag me before any courts for my numerous crimes against everybody and everything, including that time I took the world hostage and declared myself Emperor. The trade-off is that I am not supposed to leave the island. Luckily, I have all these nice little robots, the Dudebots, so named because they represent the most awesome dude around and let me chill. Plus, they give me plausible deniability for when I do leave. Everything can just be dismissed as one of these robots.
I still had the Dudebot hiding out in Florida. I’d locked it in a storage locker along with the robot horse I built for wrecking a prison transport. I kept it, and I didn’t’ even have to feed it or clean up after it. I really should market robots as the ideal pets. Hypoallergenic and probably not part of anybody’s plan to conquer humanity. I’ll have to remember that one.
I stayed behind to put the finishing touches on a venue for the big meeting. I know, it keeps getting drawn out, but most people put more planning into a thing before they announce it and start kidnapping guests. While I stayed behind bodily to do my part and keep a tight rein on the Directors also working on this, I activated the Dudebot in Florida to handle lovely little Missouri. It was the robot, and its horse, that arrived to deal with this little problem presented to me. And why focus so much on it? Because helping people is its own reward, and so is murder.
The target was a little town off in the mountains, a ways from anything resembling civilization. It looked pretty crappy, honestly. They didn’t have shit. No farms, no paper mills, not even a call center. You know you’re in bad shape as a township when a call center would be a godsend. I’d expected some of that, though. The story as told to me involved the place having no other income after the mining stopped. That’s often the problem with small towns. The jobs are all elsewhere, but they’re too stubborn to go there.
Speaking of mining, I paid that old area a visit next. I had looked over the town from its borders at sunset, but now had to contend with the darkening of the forest. The horse made the trek easily enough, crashing on through the woods and leaping downed logs in a single bound. I came out of the woods not far from where a dirt road entered the clearing around the mine and its sign with fading letters. There was a building nearby, old and rusty. A refinery where they keep victims alive and dispose of those they no longer want. Of course I’d check it out. It’d be like going to the moon and not visiting the set Kubrick used to film the moon landing.
So I went in there. I disabled a pretty obvious sensor on the place, broke the lock, and stepped inside. Back in Ricca, the Directors around me got quiet and backed away when they saw the look on my face. I called in to the military base that I was going to need some medical teams to deploy. Then I had to arrange for some flights with any local pilots looking to make some money from their side hustle. And when those choppers arrived, I had to convince the pilots the best thing they could do was fly them to certain airports for extraction. All three of the ones I got in were ready to jump out and kill someone, even the guy who didn’t have anything but a rusty chain for the job.
It shows how backwoods the place was that I didn’t even get any visitors until then. I had just helped carry a kid out who had been strapped to a bed for several months when an SUV and a truck painted up as Sheriff’s vehicles arrived, lights flashing. I calmly walked over as a deputy exited each vehicle. “What the hell is going on here?” asked the one closest to me, raising a shotgun through the open window on the door he used for cover“Those aren’t yours!”
I didn’t stop walking as he fired a warning shot, which was his first mistake. The second one was firing an actual shot at me, which did nothing to slow me down. The pellets bounced right off me without breaking my stride. The deputy pumped the gun again and waited to fire until it was right up against me, as if that’d make it any more of a threat to me. I grabbed his head and pulled him forward while poking my fingers into his eyes. I dragged him halfway through his truck’s window before snatching the shotgun from his hands and smashing it over the back of his neck. His struggles stopped along with the snapping of his spine.
His friend was calling in for reinforcements over the radio when the device went exploded courtesy of the boomstick I held in my hands. He turned to me only to get a mouthful of hot barrel. I held him like that for a moment, trying to think if there was anything I needed from him, like information. I shook my head as I realized that wasn’t the case, then grabbed the man’s head and quickly jerked him down against the gun, the stock of which slammed into the ground. A couple seconds later, so did the second deputy’s head, the entire rest of the gun sticking out the back of it and dripping with grey matter and blood.
I got an ovation from the choppers, pilots and rescuees both. Refugees, I should say. Ricca is going to become quite the melting pot.
The unshot radio from the other vehicle squawked. “Hawkins, what’s going on out there? Why’d you go quiet?!”
I yanked the door open and leaned in. Plucking the microphone off its cradle, I held down the button and told them, “Hawkins can’t come to the radio right now.”
“Who is this? What happened to Hawkins?!” asked the thoroughly perplexed voice on the other end.
“He ate his gun. Send more cops,” I said, glancing back using the armor’s 360 display. It’s much easier to keep track of in the Dudebots than in my personal armor. I think if I rework it to be more digital and less visual, that’ll fix the issue. I could also adjust my eyes to make them better integrate with the display. Ideas for later.
“Hawkins, what’s going on? Who is this?” asked the dispatcher or whoever it was on repeat. Sounds like this town doesn’t see a lot of action. Well, considering the rescued young’uns, perhaps they’re too used to seeing the wrong sort.
I gave the radio one law little squawk of my own in response to them asking my identity. “The end.”
The robo-horse galloped up behind me and I hopped onto it as it passed. One of the good things about both being phenotypically female and doing all this by robot is not fucking up my balls trying stunts like that. I miss the wang, though, and I’m not just calling it that because I gave myself Asian features. I took off down the road, cape billowing behind me because that’s cool looking even in the dark.
I found a makeshift barrier at the end of that road and dropped a pair of chicken grenades on the head of the deputy who had just finished putting down a spike trap the horse jumped. I watched as the guy tried to catch one of them and tripped over his own shoes, falling onto the spike trap. He scrambled to get off it, but was caught on top of a chicken grenade when they went off.
I slowed down as I reached down. It seemed appropriate I brought the horse, as it was truly a one horse town. I regretted not painting it white. Shots and ricochets rang out as someone fired on me from the cover of a nearby gas station. I charged up the Dudebot’s optic lasers and set off the gas pumps. Things got bright and loud, but the would-be assassin learned the value of picking the right cover and concealment.
I rode over to check out the house catching fire next to it. A good start. I turned and swept the optic lasers across every building in my path, aiming more for trees, bushes, and anything wood. This proved disastrous for the lumber store and the antique store that sold rocking chairs. From further down this main street, I spotted another sheriff’s truck swerve around the corner, lights on. I heard the engine rev as it spotted me silhouetted against the flames. I cranked up the energy sheath in the Dudebot’s left fist and charged.
It felt like it took way too long for us to play that game of chicken. I could almost see the whites of the driver’s eyes through the windshield, seemed like. Then he dove out the door and rolled along the edge of the rode while a speeding truck came at me, bro. I turned the horse, sparks flying up from skidding metal hooves. A hard punch with my left unleashed all the gathered kinetic energy. It crumbled the grill of the truck and the hood, momentum trying to keep the metal and plastic moving forward in spite of the resistance. The back end of the truck rose and continued, the vehicle flipping over me and my horse to scrape the top along the road behind me.
Before I could take in too much of that lovely accomplishment, I felt, heard, and saw more bullets ineffectually trying to penetrate the nanomaterial cape over the Dudebot’s back. I turned and hopped off the horse to see the Sheriff himself there emptying a nice, heavy revolver into me and doing fuck-all.
“Who the fuck are you?” he asked.
The gun clicked and didn’t fire, so then he tried to whip the barrel at my helmet. I caught it and yanked him forward by it. I grabbed him by the throat and lifted him. “I’d say I’m Death, because that’s normally what I do best. I kill people. With you, I think I’ll take my time. How many was it in that refinery?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about!” he lied.
“You’re not talking to a rube civilian or an out of town cop here. You know many superheroes who kill cops? No, better question…” I tossed him down. He backed away on his ass “And it’s not the one I’ve recently obsessed over. Who are you? I already know. What I want to ask you is… how many bones are there in the adult human body?” I stomped on his foot and ankle to stop him moving any further from me. “One-hundred and eighty to go.”
Before I left town later that night, I made one last change to the sign with its hokey old population count. I burned that part off and left the remnant’s of the Sheriff’s skull hanging as a large zero.