The Intel people have been working on a way for us to strike back, but it’s not turning out to be as easy as they hoped. This Earth lags behind in getting the hang of interdimensional travel; it’s pretty much just been me controlling it. The rift to my home Earth wasn’t intentional. I didn’t even know about the one in Empyreal City until the darn lab blew up. Those guys were trying to build such an interdimensional rift. They succeeded and probably wish the thing had an off switch. Unfortunately, the same thing that destroyed the lab did a pretty good job taking out their lab materials and the servers they stored data on.
The people at the company have gone to ground. If it wasn’t the shitstorm over the dimensional breach they created, it was the evil versions of our heroes, the paramilitary group hunting them, the cops, or whatever federal response was mustered to look into it. Oh, and the invasion. Lots of stuff they could be hiding from when fuckers with swords could appear out of nowhere.
As nonsensical as this war is, we really ought to figure out a way to end it beyond killing whoever they send at us. That’s something I should have done something about during that waiting period we had. This guy can keep sending stuff at us, probably more wild animals from various other dimensions like the weird dinos, and it’ll wear us down over time. Whoever’s doing this doesn’t have to worry about retaliation or losing infrastructure. They can tear up our fields, destroying trees, poison the waters… admittedly, all things the humans have done here anyway… and we can’t even touch them.
Venus might have contacts in the hero community, but she was away from the island when I went to look for her. Her phone put her in Egypt, around that prison we’d discussed her breaking political prisoners out of.
She wasn’t there to see the Dudebot I threw together to help me out with all this. I gave this one four arms and a couple of power cores. That’s more than enough to power the robot body wearing the armor and the bomb built into its back. It’s like a Dimension Bomb, specially made to encompass an area on a much greater scale than its size would allow. The main restriction on the area of effect has to do with how much space the device can transition through whatever puncture it makes in the fabric of universe. Try any more than that and things get dangerous.
I never could get my hands on the research notes from my home universe on exactly what happens in that case. The first few times that occurred were deleted entirely from the notes, with accompanying emails warning the research administrators that any release of the information would get them all executed. The only other ones to address it were hidden behind probably the strongest encryption I ever saw, in the servers of the same military ingelligence type of folks who made me the woman I am today.
This would lead me to believe that such an interaction would be dangerous for anyone around it, especially if the field it was encompassing was roughly planet-sized, but the device couldn’t manage all of that. I don’t expect it’ll be the same effect as when it successfully pulls half a planet through. This lack of knowledge could be a bad thing… but I think I’ll let the people on the other side of the portal deal with the consequences of this decision.
For my next trick, I needed a country still fighting these guys where we could easily turn the tide. That’s one reason not to go after China, for instance. They’ve flooded the countryside with these little machines. Fragile, rolling things, asymmetric things, they roll over animals and tear them apart. Some in the more isolated areas have been observed tearing up grasses and cutting down trees. Which is going to fucking blow for China given their desertification issues.
Vietnam’s still got a fight going on. They might have been overpowered in a straight-up fight, but they’re holding on and making the invaders pay. Our ambassador went into hiding with one of their cells and is a point of contact, collecting information for us and giving the Intel folks an idea of where to drop off arms, ammo, and food. Our military’s busy assisting in Japan at the moment, with a lot of help from the Buzzkills. They don’t need as much of our help there, though.
The armored raiders in Vietnam were taking heavy casualties on their own, so they called in more of those Praetor things to assist. There’s at least three of them running around and wrecking the place. The most noticeable is the one that grows 50 feet tall and makes things explode.
It’d be easier if we could just unleash a disease or some sort of chemical meant to only kill those things. The scientists analyzed the DNA of the one I captured and a few more of their wounded friends, and found that they’re basically human. Hell, each one’s about fifteen different humans in one. The oddities of their phenotype arise from some freaky things done to make the hodgepodge work and some weird chemical markers that indicate they might be getting drug treatments to bring out superpowers as well.
Anything that kills them en masse would also kill humans en masse. Not that I care so much about humanity, of course, but some of them belong to me and my own daughter is half human. There are even some friendly humans. While some folks have been converted to homo machina here, it would still be a rather lonely and boring world with only them for company. The humans stay… for now.
So, we can’t unleash a disease on the grey guys without also affecting humans. The reverse of that is true as well. Any diseases that, say, spread aggressively throughout all of homo sapiens are also spreadng among them. We confirmed that with our prisoners, too. All of them have that little disease the Three Hares gave all of us. The false gods sent it out to make allow us supers to be depower us if someone put the right collar around our neck. It messes with the brain, keeps it from accessing anything beyond standard human abilities.
Creeper showed me where they asked my prisoner to put one on and try to do his little weak blasts. Poor guy broke down crying when it rendered him impotent. We have a few of these collars around, salvaged or stolen, but functional. I had a few shipped off to Vietnam with the new Dudebot. That thing could handle them as much as I liked without risking accidental loss of power.
First thing’s first… a shot at the big guy.
The Psycho Flyer flew in over a haze of rising smoke from the jungle. In the cockpit, the pilot and co-pilot turned down rock music to comment on the co-pilot shooting down at something with the Flyer’s guns. “How can you shoot someone who can’t fight back?” asked the pilot.
“Happily.” The co-pilot laughed. “They would kill you if they could.”
The Flyer lurched to the side. The pilot called out, “2 o’clock, thunder rifle!” The co-pilot fired, then launched a missile to be sure.
“Thunder rifles neutralized,” the co-pilot said. That would be the term for those flintlocks that hit like an anti-tank rifle. “Oh my exclamation,” he added after a moment. “Empress, do you read?”
“I’m listening,” I assured him.
“The big one just grew at 11 o’clock. Ready to drop the crate on your mark.” He pushed a button, opening the loading ramp on the rear of the Flyer, below its third engine.
“Drop me, boys.” The crew in back did as they were told and pushed the crate out the rear of the Flyer. It burst open when the Dudebot flew out, riding a board with a rocket engine on the back of it, calling out “G-L-O-R-I-A, Gloria!” along to a song I was listening. It was better than putting on Particle Man and reminding myself of the odds. The robot double carried a power collar in each of its four hands.
The giant guy, who would be more like Universe Man from that song, turned his head to track the Psycho Flyer that began to throw off chaff and smoke and everything else it could to distract the guy and block any attack. Universe Man’s forehead glowed and the Flyer exploded on its own.
I dove for the jungle below before he could look at me. That probably would have fucked me up. They don’t call them jungles because they’re full of wide-open spaces. I didn’t have to stay under long and I brought the board above the treeline close to him, practically right up under him. It was still close enough that he snapped his head down when he sensed movement. That’s why I angled to fly right between his legs and move in a spiral up so that when he turned, I was behind him.
I jumped the Dudebot off to land on Universe Man’s head. I controlled the board separately and flipped it around to head downward. It missed myself, Universe Man’s head, and the hand that wrapped around me. Universe Man, Universe Man, size of the entire universe, man. He lowered me in front of his grey face and grey eyes and grey smirk. What I’m trying to convey is he’s grey, da ba dee, da ba di. I tried to slip one of the collars around his finger. It did nothing.
And before he could squish me in his grey hand, I rammed my rocket board into the grey nuts of Universe Man. The smirk turned into a much funnier expression when the fuel exploded and Universe Man singed all the little grey hairs on his universe balls and his universe can. His grip loosened and he grimaced, shutting his eyes.
Laughing, I pulled free of his hand and hopped from his wrist to his shoulder. I’d left the one collar on his finger, but I still had three more. I held them up, trying to form as much of a collar against his neck as was possible in the situation. His body started shaking and I noticed we were moving lower to the ground. His neck grew smaller and smaller, and when it got low enough, I tossed one collar into my hand and closed one around his neck.
The momentum caused me to fall back when we hit ground level. Universe Man held his balls but looked at me really hard. After a moment, he reached up to feel his forehead, then the collar around his neck. By then, I was on my feet and I didn’t feel like exploding. I ran up and punched him in his grey jaw. He grabbed for me, but my doppelganger locked up with its lower arms. The top two grabbed Universe Man’s ears and pulled them out, then yanked his head down to drive his face into the copy’s knee.
I slipped those hands into the grey guy’s mouth and pulled it wide open. “You were big enough to swallow me whole a minute ago. Let’s see if how far I can get this time.”
I pushed the upper arms into his mouth and pulled it to the side, then tried putting the Dudeboth’s helmet in there. His head separated before I could. When I stood the Dudebot up straight, it wore Universe Man’s body as a grey hat, the collar forming the base of the whole thing. On the ground, Universe Man’s eyes began to glow until I stomped it into mush.
Around me, a bunch of soldiers in old-timey wool uniforms ran up, raising thunder rifles. They surrounded me in a circle, so I thought I’d just jump up when someone looked like they were firing. The scene went from tense to intense as gunfire and explosions started. I jumped up and tried to catch a branch from one of the trees that moved back into place overhead after Universe Man had shrunk. It snapped from the Dudebot’s weight and I fell, landing in a clearing that now houses the dead bodies of the thunder riflers and a bunch of paranoid men in camouflage with Riccan-made rifles.
I raised the Dudebot’s arms. “I come in peace so that I may kill these fuckers,” I said in Vietnamese, nudging a loose head on the ground. “See? I’m good at it.”
One of the men held his hands up and stepped out, turning to the others. “This is Empress Psycho Gecko, here to assist us. See, my empress has already slain the large one.” He turned to me and bowed.
I returned it.
Well, that’s one of these guys down. Shouldn’t take long to eliminate the others in the country and destabilize the whole offensive so that they send either a gunship or reinforcements. I guess if my timing’s off, I’ll have plenty of opportunities. Besides, how long could it possibly take to win in Vietnam?