Myself and my personal squad of troopers deployed to Empyreal City. Unfortunately, the rest couldn’t come. When I ordered people shifted over to help defend Empyreal City, what’s left of my military command gave me the bad news. “We can’t. We increased the number of Flyers, but constant deployments eroded maintenance standards and problems piled up, and most of our pilots are either on dangerous amounts of narcotics to remain awake, or suffering sleep deprivation.”
Both the machines and the people were falling apart without rest. “For future reference, factor in the need for rest and maintenance of both when interpreting my orders unless I say otherwise,” I ordered. “Allow them rest and refit. I need a military capable of fighting, not just dying. We’ll leave the dying to the other side.”
It hampered my efforts, but I have Buzzkills on the way to make up the difference. They have to cross the Pacific on ships, but they’ll be there.
It’s a good thing the domeship they have takes forever to move, but not so good for everyone along the way. With the modern proliferation of cameras, there are plenty of ways to keep track of the domeship, but also plenty of people being killed as spies for doing so. More of their jet infantry have been going back and forth, but the bottom eight-pointed star has opened up in places. A bunch of vehicles dropped out, usually some variation on being triangular. They fell, but slowed as they approached the surface and came to hover just over the ground. Air-cushion vehicles, or hovercraft. But then wheels and treads unfolded from the bottom and they got to fighting the military. As usual, the best course of action was to ignore the assholes in Washington and fight the enemy. It’s not the first time the enemies foreign and domestic have included members of their own government.
A pair of large armored vehicles with a trio of cannons turned toward the source of the video and fired. The video went dead, probably like the person taking it.
My bunch made it to the American West Coast just as one of the engines failed, which was doable, but the pilot recommended we land and fix it. Good pilot. The second engine went on our way down, and he managed to turn it from a crash to a landing. Really good pilot. We ended up just outside some little town with a sign that, frankly, insulted the crap out of me. Murder capital of the world?
Everyone knows the murder capital of the world is a circle of land surrounding me equal to the length of my largest limb. Which, admittedly, is a bit smaller now that I got rid of the dong. They’ve had this sign up here for what looks like years without it applying, the liars.
A sheriff in an old beater pulled up and got out. Nervous fellow, looking at a serial killing, mass murderer supervillain in power armor and eight bodyguards with more firepower than his entire county. Instead of raising his gun like far too many people have done toward me, he asked, “Are you with those alien sumbitches trying to take over?”
I shrugged. “No. We’re here to kill ’em.”
While I found it unusual he didn’t try to attack me despite having no chance, I put it off on him being smarter than the average person I seem to run into. I was forced to reevaluate him when he ran around and hugged me, crying. And sniffling. “Ew… human, you’re leaking on my armor. Get away.”
The two closest of my guys grabbed him and pulled him off me. One put his microgun to the man’s head, but I held up a hand. “No, don’t kill him.”
“Why not?” asked one of them.
“I don’t know,” I admitted.
The pilot ran up, wiping his hands on a rag. “Hold up. We need parts. Plane parts, car parts, anything like that?”
It took a few seconds for him to end his crying and get enough mucus off his face to answer. “Bob’s garage has a lot of car parts. Does those little quadcopter drones for the kids, too. It’s right next to the hardware store. But we’re in a pickle. The hardware store’s got a whole nest of giant spiders from the aliens. You’re a godsend if you can get rid of ’em.”
“A lot of people would say I’m closer to the other guy there,” I told him. I turned to the pilot. “Can we fix this without solving every sidequest along the way?”
He looked back at the Flyer, then to me. “I can rig something to get us there, but it could fall apart at any moment. I may not be able to rig something next time.”
I turned to the sheriff. “It’s your lucky day. We’re gonna have us an arachno-whack.”
The town was a bit bigger than I expected for a place bragging about how many people there are dead. They even had an old rollercoaster and Ferris wheel on a wharf. Bob’s garage turned out to be Bob’s Garage, next to Bob’s Hardware, Bob’s Bait & Tackle, and Bob’s Mani/Pedi. Bob gets around.
Bob’s Hardware was covered in spider webs, some of which caught birds with noticeable claws and scaly tails. I think this little war’s going to fuck over Earth’s ecology for a long time to come. “Alright, boys. Time to shop and pop.”
Cue the clash, and The Clash singing “I Fought The Law” in my armor. I jumped through the clouded window and found out it was clear glass with a giant spider web on the other side strong enough to catch me momentarily. I tore it down as I came down and stood up looking like a mummy. A spider the size of a bulldog hopped on my back and tried to bite down on my skull from behind. I reached around for something to hit it with and found a mallet. A couple hits later, I realized it was one of those stupid rubber mallets. Takes forever to kill something with those things.
A second one of the eight-legged freaks came at me from the ground. Instead of being covered in fuzz like a tarantula, it was a black, thin-looking thing with yellow markings on it. It bit down on one foot, so I hopped and stomped it under the other.
I kept banging away at the spider on my head, which finally knocked it off, then tossed the mallet at it. That broke one of its legs. I looked over and found a bin with all these long nails in it. I grabbed two fistfuls and punched them into the spider’s head before it could get away. Picking it up, I remarked. “I have such sights to show you,” before punting it outside where a woman with a voice like my pilot screamed.
I’m not normally a gun person, but I did arm myself with a nailgun. The next spider that lunged for me got nailed right in the eye. I held it against the wall and kept nailing the creepy crawler until it stopped moving. When I stepped back, I noticed I’d stuck it just underneath a “No Trespassing” sign. I like it better my way.
I was tackled by another spider, a bigger one. It knocked me into an aisle that had been full of preserves, jellies, and marinades up until my entry into it. Lots of broken glass after myself and the horse-sized arthropod made our way into it. This one bit down on my armor, but couldn’t get in. I managed to kick it a few times and knock it off, then stood up and looked around. The next time it came at me, I grabbed it and shifted its weight into the shelf. It fell and we crashed into an aisle full of paint and paint products. I grabbed some wooden stirrers and jabbed them into four of the thing’s eyes. It backed off, giving me a moment to look around and come up with a can of primer. I swung it in front of me, smacking the arachnid in the head with it as I sang, “Spider can, spider can, does whatever a spider, oh, hey man.”
We had gotten to the end of the aisle and one of my bodyguards unleashed a torrent of copper-jacketed lead. The spider flinched away and tried to jump up to the ceiling, but I grabbed its legs and pulled it down into the line of fire. I had nothing to worry about with my armor, but what ol’ Shelob made up for in ugliness, it lacked in bulletproofing. Still, to conserve ammo, I pulled the thing’s face apart in half before the soldier could blow his entire wadcutter.
We didn’t run into any bother big ones after that, and it was fairly easy to finish off the rest of the place so our pilot could check off his shopping list. He needed the car parts more than the hardware store, but it was something of a package deal. I had time to hit up the nail place and find some nail polish while he pimped our ride.
Once we were done and back in the air, I called up Venus to let her know we’d be over there shortly.
“Wonderful! We could use your help. The villains don’t want to coordinate with us and you’re something of a leader to them.”
“Wow, that’s shitty,” I said.
She laughed over the line. “You’re getting better at it.”
“What am I doing over here anyway, Venus? I have Dudebots I can use. As important as Empyreal City is, it’s just the one city. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, ya know.”
Her voice took on a less-than-amused tone. “If I believed that, I’d have let them kill you to make the world a better place. I look back sometimes and I think that would have been a mistake. I am not a hero to only the many and screw the few. I want to be a hero who can help everyone. I will not abandon them. I will not write them off. I will fight like hell for everyone because they deserve it.”
“And bringing me along on the suicide mission, eh?” I asked, chuckling.
“It gets all the Justice Rangers in the fight. More importantly, I know by now you have a plan. Kill another few million people,” she said, clearly underestimating me. “You and I both don’t trust Mr. Omega and his plan. But my friends have a plan. We’re taking that ship to show we can, and then we’re going back to the other world. We’re going to find a way, diplomatically or otherwise, to stop this. We’ll make the case directly to their people if we have to. Your friends will probably make a good case for peace in their own way. I choose to believe we can bring an end to this without superweapons and strange rites, but first we need to win. For that, I want Earth’s most homicidal defender by my side.”
Awww… “Venus, I can’t wait to hug you sometime in the murder capital of the world.”