I’ve had to be creative about my brother’s questions. It helps that I honestly don’t know some of the answers.
When he asked, “What’s your full name?” I don’t know. Same for age, though we’ve figured out I’m a few years older than him. I know Shona, the Red Leader of the bunch, was lurking around somewhere when we talked about this stuff. This time, she’d come in and started to make this drink she likes using a messy orange powder and water.
“Were you part of the Gecko Rebellion?” he asked.
Heh. Now there’s one I can certainly be honest about. “Yeah,” I told him. “I was a part of that. I was very angry and not in a good place mentally. I wanted revenge, and to just lash out at everything. I’m starting to move past it, and not living on this Earth helps.”
I could almost feel Shona staring. I pretended to brush some hair out of my face and found her in the kitchen area near us, sipping on some juice. My brother, though, pulled out that photo again. “What do you remember about our dad?”
I shook my head. “Not much. A few flashes, maybe, now that you’ve shown me that. The main thing I remember is when they came for us. Shot him, shot mom, pointed those guns right at me.” I raised my voice a bit for Shona’s sake. “Yeah, I was an experiment as a child. Might be a reason I’m averse to Justice Rangers, being kidnapped, and then being held in a cell while people run tests!”
I heard her set her cup down loudly. I didn’t turn to look, figuring she’d storm out. Instead, she walked up to me, so I readied myself for a fight.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “You’re entitled to your anger at me and at the ones who wronged you. I’ve been a bitch to you.”
“Oh…” I said. “I didn’t expect you to actually apologize.”
“I lost loved ones in the Rebellion and I’ve held onto deep suspicions. I’m trying to be better, ever since I found out my mentor, Alyss, was one of you and took part in the Rebellion as well.”
“And you’ve got yourself a homo machina gator,” I commented.
My brother laughed. “I didn’t mean to. I didn’t take part in the Rebellion. I kept my head down and attended university. They made a discovery that allowed them to create their own transformer, and the minions of Carriox attacked. I ended up bonded to it and started training as a Ranger.”
“Did you even know how to fight before becoming a Ranger?” I asked.
He shook his head. “They’re training me.”
I rolled my eyes. Shona looked at me. “I take it you know how?” I nodded, then got an odd question from her. “Have you been having any mental problems?”
After the laughter died down, I wiped the laugh tears away. Shona and my brother were sharing a look. Shona continued on, “What I mean is, have you noticed any memory loss? Every time I’m around you two, you never use his name. You call him ‘you’ or ‘my brother.’ Do you remember it?”
“Psh, yeah, of course I do. What kind of a person would I be to forget my own brother’s name after he told me while I was locked up,” I said. They kept staring at me, so I said, “Davilo.”
“See? No problem,” Davilo said.
I held up a finger. “But if I had noticed any memory issues, what would we be talking about.”
Shona sent a glance Davilo’s way. “Homo Machina are recent enough of a subspecies that we are just now finding out about some medical problems unique to your physiology and abilities. They’re still trying to learn more about it, but some Homo Machina who engage with the infonet and digital systems extensively see a loss of memory. The prevailing theory is that their brains can’t handle the workload and dump long-term memory storage to compensate, but they’re still working on it.”
Now there’s a big hot dump taken on my day. Just drop a steaming load of that for me to consider. Trained assassin or not, they could tell something was up with me.
Shona, for her part, tried to pat me on the shoulder and provide comfort. “I have been unlearning my own hate. The only reason I treated you as I did was because Carriox’s lieutenant, Mirator, can mimic the abilities of past enemies. That includes Psycho Gecko.”
That snapped me out of the funk, mostly by giving me something to concentrate other than the extremely bad news. Never underestimate a good distraction; it’s both an excellent way to kill people and great to avoid killing yourself.
“There’s a fake Psycho Gecko running around?” I asked.
I think they recognized I wanted a distraction. They pulled up the photos for me to see on a wall monitor. “You must have snuck through the portal awhile back not to know these guys,” Shona said.
Carriox was an interesting enough guy on his own. His armor looked like a mix of bronze and slick black feathers, with a pair of large vulture’s wings on his back. His helmet was a metallic vulture’s skull, with his face in the open mouth. It was impossible to make out his eyes behind a visor of teeth, but he had two pair of pointy fangs sticking out. In contrast, Mirator didn’t wear any armor. It was a jagged, assymetrical being of reflective glass. Where parts had been shattered or broken off, the next layer down was just as reflective. He had no eyes or nose, just a shiny set of mirrored chompers. They had a list of other forms he’d used and brought up the Psycho Gecko one.
They looked at me when I snorted. I mean, I could see where it was influenced by me and my armor, but the guy took some creative liberties. The “frown” of my visor was much more exaggerated. The shoulder guards were sharpened as if I was going to stab someone with them. I kinda liked the addition of the metallic skulls that covered the knuckles of the gloves. Probably fucks up range of motion, though. Still, Shona and Davilo were questioning my reaction with their looks. “Well, it’s like Gecko.”
“The Rangers know Psycho Gecko is on Earth Prime and has more advanced armor, but Carriox and Mirator don’t. It’s not an exact match, but he can still turn invisible and use the Psycho’s Assassin Punch.”
“I wonder if it’s the same method of invisibility,” I mused aloud.
“We haven’t been able to test,” Shona said. “Do you know anything useful?”
Once again, another alarm. Everything on the monitor was replaced by a disembodied head, until the person on the other end of the line moved back from their camera. “Rangers, Mirator is attacking the Prime Earth Embassy!”
“We’re on it,” Davilo said.
“Are you up for staying by this monitor if we need your help with Mirator?” Shona asked.
I shrugged, then nodded. They ran out of there. I gave them a minute to watch the flashes of light zip away that were the signature of their teleportation, and ran outside.
It was a world I’d left behind long ago, of huge skyscrapers, nights brighter than days, and deckers hiding in every crevice. It was also still pretty easy to find a map program that could direct me to the Embassy and someone’s car left sitting around carelessly.
The Rangers were already there by the time I arrived, fighting Lab Rats and a monster who began to fill the area with noxious smoke. The Rangers were affected regardless of their helmets and armor, but I kept an eye out for this Mirator guy. I found the Fake Me slinking off. I’d never slink like that. I have a very distinctive slink. Fake Gecko hid behind a bush, watching the events of the fight and holding what looked like a bazooka with a long rifle barrel attached to the front of it. The scope was nearly as large as Fake Me’s head. Maybe that’s why he didn’t see the car coming.
I dove out and rolled to a stop until I was laying on my side like one of those French girls, watching the car flip around and the Fake Me, rolling to a stop after getting clocked by the car. I hopped up to my feet and ignored one of the Rangers calling for me to stop. Fake Gecko was on one knee and caught a hard blow to the head that I think shattered some carpals. It may not be my armor, but it still hurts like armor.
Mirator, pretending to be Psycho Gecko, stood up with a laugh that didn’t sound anything like me and drove his knee into my gut. I doubled over and felt his glove on the back of my head, readying me for a knee to the face. I rolled forward and dropped onto my back. Fake Me was thrown off balance by missing so that when I wrapped my legs around his ankle, he was thrown forward onto the ground. I prepared to laser off one of his legs at the knee, the back of the legs being a weak point on my early armor. Just as I fired, Mirator reverted to his mirrored form. The only reason I didn’t shoot my own eyes out was because the angle of his leg was enough to reflect it up into the sky.
I quickly cut the lasers off and he went back to being Fake Me, turning and kicking me in the jaw. He rolled to his feet and turned to me, putting up his dukes. “Don’t you know who I am, little girl?”
“A pretender,” I said. “Because you’re no Gecko.”
“Do I look like him now?” asked Mirator, disappearing. I reached into my pocket with a smile and pulled out a handful of that orange powder Shona the Red Ranger liked to use for her drink. Messy, I said. It likes to stick to things, like flour. I blew it around and watched as it clung to a form walking toward me. Fake Me stopped to look at his own damn self and that’s when I booted him in the gut. He stumbled back a little and reappeared, looking like he’d taken a dive into a bag of Cheeto’s. He caught my next right punch, and my next left punch, leaving us deadlocked.
“You’re strong. Why are you fighting for them?” Mirator asked.
“I’m not. I’m fighting for me,” I answered, then opened my mouth wide. That newly-added prehensile tongue of mine shot out and wrapped around Fake Gecko’s throat. Then I ignited the laser claws in my hands, cutting into his fists. Say “Bye bye” to those knuckle skulls, cheap imposter.
“No, Master! Use the beam on me, your loyal and valuable Mirator!” he said, shifting back into his mirrored form. He tried shifting us around and using footwork to loosen my grip, but I moved with him, keeping on choking him out. He couldn’t just outright let go of my hands, either, because he was trapped within swiping distance of those claws. When we shifted around, I saw the gas monster was down and not moving, but that big red gigantification light from the sky wasn’t flashing. Instead, it captured Mirator. My tongue was feeling weird and he started to grow, so I pulled it back before it either got too big to hold in my mouth or I was attached tongue-first to a giant monster. I withdrew my claws and ran clear of it. I didn’t want to be within stomping distance.
Davilo, the Red Alligator Ranger, jumped over to check on me. “Are you alirght?”
“Better than he was doing. Go tear the fucker a new fuckhole!”
Davilo nodded and summoned his giant robot to join the rest of his team against the giant Mirator, who was sticking with his own appearance at first. I found a nearby First Aid station just outside the Embassy where I got some nanite gel to work on my broken hand while the Rangers faced off with Mirator. The giant mirror monster tried some entirely new mimickry as a giant monster; appearing as some past giant monsters and even a few giant robots. He gave them some trouble at first, but then they split their robot into two robots and the doubleteam put him down in a big shower of sparks that probably wrecked several city blocks.
But, hey, I was at the embassy. I figured I’d scrounge up something that’d let me walk through all the security back to Earth Prime and that’d be it. I didn’t count on my path being blocked by Leah. I didn’t know the former runaway-turned-my ward-turned-Master Academy student was here. I didn’t know she got hot. I didn’t know she was playing tongue twisters with my half brother either, when he came on down.
I don’t know if she realized it was me Davilo introduced as his sister Delilah, but… maybe I oughta keep an eye on this situation. And check into this memory loss thing. I have time.
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