“On behalf of the President of the United States, I am proud to present the new official metahuman protectors of the greatest nation on God’s green Earth, the Freedom Legion.”
Cue polite applause from party officials, staffers, and a few members of the press as a men and women in red and white uniforms walked out on stage. The outfits were padded with body armor, red with groups of four white stars forming a cross on the chest, hips, and thighs. Their gloves and boots are white, but their helmets, which don’t appear to have any openings for breathing or seeing, are red with a white panel from the top of the head to the chin. Reporters hands went up, but the Secretary of Defense, or at least the one belonging to that administration, told them, “Direct all questions to the proper channels.”
There are two different people claiming to be the rightful President of the United States. One is the guy who took over after I tossed the nincompoop-in-chief to another dimension the first time around. The second is the nincompoop’s VP. The cabinet’s divided on which one is right, and that’s complicated by some of the ignoramus’s cabinet having been in the White House and just recently returning to find someone else claiming to the same title they have. It’s a real Pope and Anti-Pope situation. Just like with those crises in history, I expect legitimacy will be retroactively determined by whichever one wins the conflict.
Still, even Congress agreed that the government needed its own team of domestic law enforcement supers instead of relying on the private market and regular vigilantes. One of the presidents rushed through his own version of it, this Freedom Legion. The other one’s probably working on something similar, and he better work fast. I expect one of the first threats the Freedom Legion is going to deal with is the rival administration.
I don’t really feel threatened by these guys. I can deal with regular ol’ supers. It’s things like Mr. Omega I worry about. And as an assassin, even one so good I usually kill for myself instead, it’s my business to have a plan to kill everyone I meet. Even my new buddy Chu. The guy’s allergic to peanuts, so I’ve already made a knife out of peanut brittle. Well, I’ve made a couple dozen because I keep munching on the things. But anyway, these Freedom Legionaries are a good thing for me.They give me an excuse.
I can claim the Legion is all about trying to destabilize Ricca. Plenty of people will believe it even if they never do get used for any of the U.S.’s overseas adventures as their military so often has. And I’ve had a reputation of being insane, so plenty of people can excuse my focus on them as an extension of that. That gives me all the cover I might need to justify my weapons programs in the eyes of any prying extradimensional entities. Why do I need the ability to shoot a star at my enemies? Freedom Legion. Why do I need something to help me fight giant robots? Freedom Legion. It’s perfect.
All in all, the flaunting of American power in a time of internal conflict makes it incredibly easy to strengthen my own power using them as a scapegoat.
I went ahead and let Intel Chief Pagan in on the masquerade, even if I didn’t tell him why. His lack of any real response to me wanting to build superweapons has been noted personally. While having someone antagonistic heading up my intelligence service would be dangerous, I also don’t need a yes-man there. I need the truth. I’ll keep an eye on my interactions with Pagan from here on out.
Chu, the guy working on other applications of teleportation for energy and firepower, has been given high priority. He’s getting his own team, way more lab space, and all the funding he could need. If that works out, it’ll take my armor to another level. Or it’ll fuck things up even worse than the Telechamber did. I’ll scorch the Earth permanently by losing control of the power of a star. Or there’ll be some kind of creature hiding in the heart of a black hole I let loose who empowers people that want to kill me. Or something. I’ll have to kill that bridge when I come to it. Be nice to have another break from crises at some point.
For now, there’s no rest for the wicked. You know, aside from sleeping in bed with my hot superhero girlfriend who likes me for some reason I haven’t yet figured out. Ever since our little connection via electronic medium the other day, I’ve had a desire to randomly throw my hands up and squeal, “She really loves me!” Was real embarrassing when she caught me doing so alone in my room.
The strict “Do Not Disturb” status I put out in the aftermath of her catching me is why I was late to hearing some news from our neighbors across the pacific. The non-Freedom Legion president had fled to Canada, which was refusing to extradite him and the remaining cabinet-in-exile back. I considered it a hell of a victory.
Then, the next day, we got news that a nuclear submarine identified by sonar as one of the U.S. Navy’s high-priced toys had gotten awfully close to the island. It wasn’t violating our sovereignty, but it was close enough to know they were up to something. Pagan had the alert level of the Security and Military raised in case of attack or infiltration, and the island’s shield was on standby. Just as he was starting to hear reports about power surges from the shield people, which he summarized and set aside for me to see, he also got reports of an attack at the nuclear power plant. That put us on full alert and immediately jumped to the top of my priority list.
I ran out of the Institute of Science in my armor and ran to a long case I left sitting on the ground outside. A button press blew the sides off and shows a rocket with straps on top. I slid my boots into them and they tightened automatically before blasting off. That’s right, in order to help me cross the island more quickly, I’ve got the personal rockets going on again. It got me to the power plant in no time, where I found my guards firing on a black-clad individual who was trying to get into it.
The super had these energy tendrils emanating from their belly that formed a shield from gunfire, but a grenade exploded behind the individual and knocked them over. That one was standing up again when he or she took a rocket to the chest that pounded them back onto their back. I had flipped off of it and landed over their chest. Before I could go for the kill, a bloom of tendrils wrapped around all of my arms and held them. I stomped the person in their masked and goggled face. The tendrils didn’t weaken, but a new one grabbed my legs and held them splayed out.
Next to me, another black-clad person of indeterminate sex stepped through the wall, twirling a sword in hand. I turned my head and fired off my helmet’s laser at the ghostly swordsperson. It passed through his head without making it explode into steamed chunks of brain, but he fell back and through the ground. His sword, meanwhile, spun through my neck, through the head of a nearby guard, and disappeared into the ground as well as gravity somehow took hold of a thing that appeared no more substantial than light.
But then, lasers are light too. And the guard who was hit ended up falling, his armor unscathed. I knew right away what got him, as blood filled my throat from where my flesh had been sliced under my untouched armor. The tendrils tossed me high into the sky, quite likely expecting me to be too busy dying from decapitation to do anything to save myself.
Tendril person also threw him or herself out of the place, trying to flee while most of my guys fired after them. Another couple of them looked after the downed soldier, while a trio stared up and tried to guess where I’d land.
I concentrated more on the landing, which I figured I could take easily enough. The fall wasn’t high enough to splatter me, especially not while regenerative nanites flooded my neck, absorbing stray blood while knitting blood vessels, flesh, and bone together again. By the time I landed, I was in shape to chase our friend. I only had to follow the sounds of gunfire and flash of laser rifles. And the big explosion that took out a furniture store.
“Report,” I ordered as I landed near the place, finding soldiers picking themselves up off the ground and sweeping the area for survivors.
An officer came up and bowed. “Empress, we cornered the intruder in the store as he tried to escape. We managed to wound him with laser rifles and were closing in to capture him, but he detonated an explosive device. We’re searching for casualties and remains.”
“Thank you,” I said, checking around. Reports came in that the sub was heading out of the area, so I doubted they’d find them, but the real report came in that there had been another incident, this one at the children’s school.
I hugged Qiang tight when I got there. She cried as she squeezed me as tight as she could. “Shh. It’s ok.”
Nearby, one of her protective agents was talking with Pagan, who came personally to oversea what the hell went wrong here. Seeing me with my daughter, he opted instead to text it to me. “It was another individual dressed like the intruders at the plant. He used claws to quietly kill members of her hidden detail, then captured Qiang. Your daughter stabbed him in the neck, without effect. Agents pursued until a large red finger appeared and flattened the intruder. We’re checking the crater for explosives and any evidence we can gather before one may go off.”
A large red finger. Sounds like Mr. Omega actually did me a solid this time. It also sounds like the threat I thought would give me all the excuse I needed to fight Omega turned out to be a real threat to me and mine. It’s almost enough to make me wonder if I might reevaluate this relationship with Omega. Either way, I’m not stopping the weapons development program. Someone’s about to get their ass kicked, and it’s either a godlike being from outside this dimension or a superpower.