I get up. Send my daughter off to school. Sell or repair things at my store. Maybe Check out some of the new businesses in town. I help my kid with homework and we have dinner. It’s routine and boring and I think I’m actually at the point in my life where I can accept this. I should probably see someone about my mental health, but I’m starting to appreciate boredom. At this rate, there won’t be too much of a reason for anyone to read this. I bet some unaware people like a gang could come to town and try to take over if we were part of a major city, but not out here where we are. You come to Radium because you need something from Radium.
There are some ignorant hooligans, with there being something of a divide between powered and unpowered. Plus, some of the teens know my history and occasionally try to come after me. Like at the bookstore, some of them thought they’d try to bully me. I overheard some snickering teenagers saying something about “Evil old bitch” and “tranny serial killer” while sneaking glances at me. They quieted down as I got closer to check out a history book. I know what everyone thinks of my temper, but I handled this the easy way. “Now what scares y’all more? That I’ve almost certainly recorded what you said and what you look like and could go to your parents? Or what I could get away with that doesn’t involve them?”
I smiled at them. They bravely shot me the finger while scurrying out. “Eager to get out,” I heard Medusa say. I looked over to see my ex-nemesis and ex-girlfriend walking in out of uniform.
“If they’d like to stay and keep being little shits, they’re entitled to that. And I’d be entitled to a little bit of revenge. Don’t worry, just a little bit.” I raised a hand to cut off her objections. “What brings you here?”
“This is where they said I’d probably find you this time of day. You want to get a coffee and let’s talk? This is about business, I mean, but we can address personal stuff if you’d like.” Maybe it’s the time spent apart or my own shifting views of her, but she looked older. Not old, and you wouldn’t confuse her for someone in their 40s, but there was more maturity there than my mental image of her had for so long.
I set the book aside for now. I can learn about The Medieval Ass another time. Medusa was impressed by the state of the town, though she probably knew it better than I did. We both stay gone for whatever messes we get into, but she gets regular reports back about it. I just end up kidnapped by redneck aliens. “Radium’s looking nice. Like one of those idyllic hipster Hallmark towns.”
“Yeah, but there’s some dark looks around,” I mentioned, leaning over my cappuccino. “The townies who’ve been here aren’t too fond of any of us, not just me. Kinda wonder what gentrifying superheroes moving in and starting coffee shops and building new homes are doing to their taxes and rents, ya know?”
Medusa thought it over through a drink of her coffee, then said, “Thanks. I’ll check on that and help them out if I can. We don’t want to drive everyone else out, which is ironic because I’m here to talk to you about getting rid of some bad people.”
“Starting with those shits back at the book store?” I asked hopefully. I’ll hurt ’em if I want to, but it’s more fun with official approval.
“No,” she slid a USB drive over to me. I grabbed it and started connecting. “A whistleblower is about to leak that the concentration camps are performing mass sterilizations. It’s the final straw I needed to give the go-ahead to Dr. Monroe. No fancy codename because he isn’t a super. He came to me with a list of targets for what he calls Project Accountability. We mostly try to help through direct action instead of assassinate, and I didn’t want to assume your cooperation.”
“Thank you for that,” I said, scrolling through. Some real winners in this bunch of guys to be held “accountable.” Wink wink, nudge nudge. The team she’s listed so far as helping isn’t too bad. Some Sgt. Slam guy to help coordinate with her Exemplar resources for anything that doesn’t strictly require me as a killer. Two-for-one deals in some of these: take out some asshole target while rescuing someone, or stripping resources, or stealing information.
“I understand if you don’t want to do it. You don’t have to explain if you have your reasons. But I’d have to be a fool not to come to you about this and I know you’ll get the job done.”
“Not a whole Psycho Flyer for payment?” I asked. They couldn’t offer me much money as far as operating expenses, but I’d have the right to steal valuables I run across that weren’t mission-sensitive and I’d get some spare Psycho Flyer spare parts for reassembling my own.
“You’d have to kill Godzilla to get a whole one of those,” Medusa said. “They’re still making them, but Ricca’s not prioritizing arms sales as much now that you’re gone. North Korea’s doing a few though. Part of them finding new sources of income to help modernize.”
“Good for them. So, Project Accountability… sounds like a noble goal. You know how I like consequences for one’s actions,” I said. “Not your usual style.”
Medusa sighed. “I don’t like it, but we can’t trust the justice system. We couldn’t about so many things, but now it’s not even doing the bare minimum. I’m not going to create a secret prison like Master Academy. Everything’s breaking down. I don’t need you because these guys are powerful. I want you because you’re the best. The better you are, the less risk on my guys.”
“I wasn’t objecting when I said it wasn’t your usual,” I sighed. “We both know something’s gone wrong when you need my help. I’m in. When’s the first go?”
The Exemplars had another ICE raid coming. Too many elements in position to call it off now without a real good reason, so they’d have to hurry up Project Accountability. First on the list is a doctor who gets moved around every time the Exemplars have hit a camp, and Monroe was the one who linked him to the whistleblower. This guy is one of them sterilizing refugee and immigrant women. That makes him of interest both for the files he’ll have referencing victims and other locations, and because Project Accountability wants to stop him from causing any more harm. I can pull off good work with little time, so I’m perfect here.
I met Monroe at the Exemplar base when they gave he and I a ride to Rio Rancho. That was a little area meant to be a staging ground for us to go after this first target. Rather than take up space on a Psycho Flyer and risk something going wrong if one’s shot down, our group was going to be placed ahead of time and head out by land.
Dr. Monroe was a middle-aged medical doctor. His skin’s dark enough he might get rounded up by ICE squads. He seemed nervous to meet me when we all stood around in the base, preparing to head out. He couldn’t even see my armor, wrapped as it was in an illusion of myself in normal clothes. “Hello.”
“Ease up, doc. We got this.” He didn’t ease much. First time murder jitters, I guess.
The Flyer barely let us off behind a gas station before it zoomed out of there. A stern-faced white soldier with tats and a buzzcut approached, eyeing me especially. He wasn’t in the usual Exemplar gear based on the power armor I had Ricca sell under my leadership, but he was a soldier. I could tell just as easily as I could tell he didn’t like me. That’d be Sgt. Slam. He didn’t wear a name patch, but after a moment, he pointed to himself. “I’m Sgt. Slam.”
“Hero name, or your last name really Slam?” I asked.
“Fuck you, that’s what,” he answered. Probably his surname then.
“Hey, I’m willing to play nice if you are. We’re all here for the same thing: killing some motherfuckers who aren’t getting what’s coming to them any other way.”
“I have guys who can do this,” Slam said.
I shrugged. “I can do it better.”
“I’m Doctor Isaac Monroe,” my companion introduced himself. Slam was a little friendlier toward him.
“Come along. I got us transport.” He led us to a plain little car and had me slip into the back, definitely noticing when the suspension had to compensate more than it should have for my size. He didn’t talk anymore about what was going on until we got in and on the way to whatever safehouse he’s temporarily rented. “We have your Neo-Mengele and his office under surveillance. He’s met with some ICE people the past few days but it seems pretty routine. Comes to work- hold up.”
He reached down for his phone. “My guys know not to call unless important.” He picked up. “Hello?” After a couple seconds. “When? Home and office? Where is the doctor himself? Slam out.” He turned to us, pulling over. “ICE showed up in a hurry. They’re moving him early. He’s at his house with ICE soldiers on guard while he grabs clothes. ICE is cleaning out his office, too. Gecko, you’re our assassin. You flatline the doctor. Monroe, you and I are going to meet my squad at the office.”
I hopped out as an answer and leaped into the air, cloaking myself in invisibility. My armor couldn’t fly properly, but with the malleable “tail” section forming into wings with jet turbines, it could glide with some style. I took the time along the way to shoot a private message to Medusa letting her know what was up. Seems a bit weird they knew to move him before the raid on the camp was going down.
Motherfucker had a lawn here in New Mexico. Nice lawn, bushes, armed black-armored guards and walkers marching around tearing it up, with a couple armored vans with gun turrets up top. The guns looked a bit different. I snuck in closer because violence may be the answer, but assassination’s the goal.
This fucking doctor walked out in a dark purple labcoat and black gloves like this was some Cobra shit. Behind him came several ICE soldiers in death’s head masks, one of them with an exoskeleton to help him carry this safe they were bringing along.
“I don’t care what the President says, we have every right to defend the fatherland from these atrocious attacks by the degenerate peoples,” the doctor in question said, just to make it clear to me I should kill him.
He stopped as a hole appeared in his chest courtesy of a vicious metal point that hooked around his heart and yanked it out. “Oh lordy,” I muttered toward him. “That’s a degen move, ain’t it?”
Well, he coughed up blood instead of giving me a straight answer, and that’s when the bright lights started flying. I pulled my tail back, flicking the blood into the face of one of the soldiers, and hopped behind one of the vans. I was trying to get a look at what they were using. Didn’t quite look like plasma, but wasn’t a laser as far as being held. Damage reports show it causes thermal damage like either one would. Could be a laser with a cut off so that, to everyone else, it looks like a laser bolt while saving on the amount of energy used up.
Regardless, they shot up all over the place, starting fires in this nice lawn and bushes, even hitting some of the cars in the street. The guy in the exoskeleton hurried up, trying to run the safe into the safety of the van. The only other sight they got of me was when I appeared behind him, tail wrapping around the safe while my armored claw wrapped around his face. I disappeared, his neck snapping hard and the safe tugged out of his grasp. Someone tossed a grenade at him, which I kicked his corpse on top of before heading off. I hid it as well as I hurried it out of there, letting them blast every which way
I got a message back from Medusa. “thot ther mite B a mole. Slam said u ran off. When u finish, meet at where we drop u off.”
I don’t miss Medusa’s texting grammar, though.
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Apologies for the late update. OOC had to deal with unruly hurricane. The weather system has been properly chastised and won’t do it again.
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