I’ve been called in on a dispute between partners. A pair of villains worked together and each planned to double cross each other. It happens. The job, a bank heist, went poorly as a result and they both almost got caught. Then they wrecked a safehouse hostel they both turned out to be staying in. Their next meeting caused extensive damage to a private restaurant for villains. They sunk a smuggler’s ship, burned down a villain bar, and were both spotted at a private resort where supervillains and other criminals vacation.
Their feud’s led to the loss of facilities for the whole community due to damage and law enforcement attention, and the guys who have more or less appointed themselves the top judges of VillainNet have decided this needs to end. I don’t know who worded the opinion, but the relevant part to my interests included the line, “Whereas we do not intend to increase similar complaints by taking a side, it has been decided that both offending parties be made examples of by sentence of death, to be carried out by Psychopomp Gecko at the time of his or her choosing, but with expediency prioritized.”
In other words, they figure if they declare one person right and the other wrong for what appears to be a grudge both of the villains are pursuing, people will start coming to them to deal with similar complaints or if they’re just thinking of betraying the other guy. Suddenly, the process goes from a way to keep people from ruining things for everyone else, to people taking bribes to pass death sentences on rivals.
That, or someone doing the judging hates them both and wants to kill their rivals.
The two were still suspected to be on the resort island after making a mess of the place. I checked with the staff and found they were still open for business. A private island in the Mediterranean. “Yes, ma’am. We are still open. We have isolated the damaged sections for repair and removed the smell from the rest of the complex.”
I hope so. I’ve never worked with this Odior guy, but his gimmick is using smells. The reports for the original bank heist say that a horribly noxious smell scared everyone out just before something melted the security camera lenses into uselessness. The island resort experienced some seriously nasty stank until Odior’s rival, Voyager TI, opened a window and a few walls. As a robot, Voyager is immune to Odior’s stench, but not to the desire to use heavy firepower to blast a few walls out.
I’ll have to put aside my attraction to robots with intelligence for this one. If he’s as dumb as I think he is, that should prove easy.
So I get to kill people while staying at a resort that caters to people of the criminal persuasion. Maybe I should fuck the robot. These two got me a sweet little vacation. I brought the family along on the official Imperial private jet, known as Deadly Force One. Anyone who tries to shoot us down will find out why I chose that particular name.
We landed at sunset. I carried out my dear little Qiang, daughter of my loins. Well, adopted daughter. Whose DNA I altered so that I’m genetically one of her parents. Everyone handles parenthood differently. Some wouldn’t bring their kid along to a hit, for instance. It’s not as bad as it sounds. I’m not going to have her do any of the killing.
I brought Citra along as well. I thought she’d like spending time together, just the two of us. I was going to bring servants along for Qiang, but Max, Sam, and Holly volunteered to help look after her when I told them where we were going. I suspect ulterior motives from them.While Holly looked after Qiang and took her to learn what an arcade was, Citra and I stepped out onto a casino floor in a dress so skimpy, even Citra couldn’t keep her eyes off me.
In the wee hours of the morning, I had dealer point out a pit boss to me. He asked if I wanted him called over, but I waved him off and slinked over. Little dress, hair twirling in my fingers. If I’d had bubblegum, it could have gone even better. “Hey there,” I said, setting my hands on my hips once I got close enough. “I heard y’all had a dust-up here recently. A tussle. Maybe even a brouhaha?”
“A pair of villains fought and caused some damage. We have the situation under control.”
“I heard they were still somewhere on the island,” I said. “I’m sure you’re keeping track of them. Making sure none of your events go too close?”
He looked at me. “Ma’am, I don’t know what you’re up to but…” his head cocked slightly as that earpiece he had on relayed information to him. He adjusted his jacket. “I stand corrected, Psycho Gecko. I heard we were reaching out to the criminal underworld, but I didn’t realize we would attract contractors of your caliber.”
“Caliber’s nice, but my eyes are up here.” I pointed with all four arms at my peepers. “I’m here to handle some pest control for y’all, if the price is right. Who’s a gal got to spay and neuter around here to figure out how we’ll Bob Barker this up?”
“From the context it is clear what you mean,” He said. “I would be happy to relay your desire to negotiate to the owners.”
I gave them my number, loaded up on sugar and caffeine via a fresh, new Psycho Cola. Made from sugars not found anywhere but Ricca, Psycho Cola is the full-flavored soft drink that helps people lose weight while revitalizing their sex lives. It can also do your taxes for you, and is biodegradable. Plus, the company’s majority shareholder is immune to prosecution for violating false advertising laws.
I also put my armor on and set out onto the island. The pit boss whispered sweet nothings in my ear about free play, VIP suites whenever I want, parasailing, and yacht parties. “Throw in a balloon ride and a trip to the horse stables for myself and my daughter. Come on here, I don’t work pro bono. I’m a professional bono.”
They agreed to the terms I wanted. It was real generous considering I was supposed to be doing it for free. Glad I didn’t mention that to them beforehand.
It’s not a large island. I hopped out from the resort and over the village surrounding it into the rocky countryside. According to the pit boss, there was a shepherd out this way. After that were the woods, if they can be called that. They were skinny things. And they were mostly dead. By mostly dead, I don’t mean partly alive as if a small miracle could bring them back after a couple of days. Most of them were rotting where they stood, if they even stood any further.
A fierce wind had broken over this forest. That would be Odior. I checked the thermals and found nothing alive there. There was a large hill after that, and on the opposite hill rested a skeleton of columns, old foundations, and broken walls. Something putting out a shitload of body heat darted between the ruins. I landed invisible to the human eye just outside the ruins.
“Where’s the little skunk?” called a voice tinged with reverb. “Where do you hide, Pepe le pew pew?” Shots boomed out that sent a column flying right at me.
I caught it easily, fingers digging into… styrofoam? Huh. Fake ruins. I tossed it to the side and ran toward the noises and the guy creating small explosions. Voyager TI looked like a good-sized man with brown hair and a clean-shaven face. He wore tights that covered most of his body except his neck and head, and his forearms. He crushed styrofoam under black boots as he stepped stiffly around, firing the occasional shot off in a pattern at equal intervals. From his arm. He had his right arm up. The skin was missing off that forearm. It didn’t look like any gun from Earth. More like a collection of metal poles of varying lengths all aimed at the same direction.
He turned in place, pointing that gun all around but never firing at the same spot twice. “I know you are here. I have searched the island and the only place left for you to sleep is on sharp rocks just below the water of the cliffs. There is an 87% chance you would resort to using the water against me, but you lack the gills to sleep in it.”
I snuck closer, planning to detach his metal skull and beat his body into dysfunction. I stopped as I was reaching for his jaw at the sight of smoke rising from below us. He noticed it to, then noticed where the smoke bounced off me. He raised the gun toward me when the ground rumbled, then fell away.
I caught a piece of the wall. It came loose, but it gave me enough time to jam my other fists into the wall. I slid down a bit, but ultimately caught. I like to think the extra arms make me better at sticking to walls, but a recent bit of fun involving Citra and baby oil leads me to believe this is not a hard rule.
The same couldn’t be said for Voyager. He went down like a college freshman who had just been told they were so smart, had everything together, and that their opinion mattered. I had to zoom in to see how badly gravity had robothandled him. He’d splashed and smashed onto rocks and water waiting at the bottom of the hole. His arm sparked and shook as it touched the water. A man moved into my sight down there, clapping. He looked like he had on a yellow and orange outfit with one of those beer hats, except the bottles weren’t beer.
The new person, Odior, blew a yellow cloud onto Voyager that caused his skin to bubble and the exposed metal to rust. “I heard you, Voyager. You were just a little fart-ther than I wanted to go to surrender,” Odior said. I want to hate him for the pun, but it’s not much worse than stuff Ben Franklin has written. “You smelt it, and I dealt it!” He threw his head back and laughter bellowed up the hole toward me. Then he smooshed into the rocks as a few hundred pounds of rocket-powered armor popped his skull out through his sphincter.
I went ahead and decloaked as I looked down on Voyager. “You spent days hunting that guy? Truth be told, I don’t see what the big stink is.”
“Who are you?” asked Voyager. The reverb in his voice was worse.
“I’ve been sent to get rid of a couple of pests ruining things for everybody by fighting all the damn time,” I told him.
“We are not fighting now,” Voyager said. His eyes flicked to the pile of flesh and broken bones I stood in and I noticed his neck was bent at an unnatural angle. Given he’s a robot, that’s to be expected, even more so now that metal and circuitry poked out of the neck skin.
“I wasn’t sent to pick sides,” I told him.
Voyager’s left arm, having lain against the rocks, shot toward me. Where the skin met his tight suit, the forearm pulled away and extended on metal poles. The fingers went stiff and the skin opened up to reveal sharp spikes.
I caught the hand with my upper two and held it in place. My lower arms extended their Nasty Surprise chainsaws. They carved through it in a shower of sparks. I flipped the arm over. Voyager sat up and ended up deepthroating his own limb. I disemboweled him, and disem-legged him while I was at it. Instead of stuffing a turkey, I stuffed a pair of chicken grenades inside him.
He gave me the middle finger just before he exploded. The shaking didn’t stop though. The hole I’d entered into filled in, which fucked over my plan of escape. Without a lot of time to think, I ran in the same direction the water flowed. Worst comes to worst, I figured I could do a little bit of underwater walking in my armor.
The water never got higher than the knees of the my armor, but I powered through it anyway. The alternative was live burial. While I’ve been buried alive before, I didn’t enjoy it, and I look forward to it even less when it’s an entire island instead of six feet of dirt.
When I saw sunlight from a rising sun, I knew I was almost there. I jumped for it, passing through a gradually widening entrance to a stalactite-laden overhang under what turned out to be the cliffs on the opposite side of the island. The rocks and dirt didn’t follow me out, the cowards. “Not so tough,” I took a break to puff some air back into my lungs, “without gravity… on your side… are you?” I gave the cliffs the finger.
Groaning, I stood up and picked my way through the rocky, wet shore to a spot with good footing. I called the pit boss back when I reached more solid land. “The dirty deed’s done. Don’t even need to bury them. Now let’s talk masseuses. There’ll be three of us. I’m going to need someone more on the ‘Greco-Roman wrestler’ side of things to help me with my kinks. No, I have a fetish for strong men digging their elbows into my back to release muscle tension.”