I was minding my own business this time. Everything was nice and quiet at my house and my shop. My brother and his girlfriend left to their dimension to go fight whatever it is Justice Rangers are fighting nowadays. My daughter was trying to stay up too late to play games with her friends and I kept catching her and sending her to bed. Some people were spending Christmas money on gadgets and prosthetics. I didn’t even have as many check-ups by law enforcement after the town voted to curtail the local sheriffs, and supposedly the mayor and town council were looking into attracting more high-end mental health professionals to the place. A bunch of them could actually see the point of having better mental health infrastructure when dealing with superhumans. I think they realized I’m not longer the town crazy, just a town crazy.
No, I was minding my own business, texting back and forth with Max and Medusa about different things. I figured, after recent lessons, I’d reopen channels of communication with Medusa. I’d also realized I wasn’t being too good a friend to Max, so wanted to keep an eye on him. It was good timing; he was about to hit a chemical company’s storage facility for some supplies. Meanwhile, Medusa was tracking down a conspiracy of walking enemas who were going around trying to sabotage the vaccination efforts. I’m sure she had more things going down with the Exemplars, but that’s the one she told me about.
But I figure most people are probably way too tired of hearing about drama between me and Medusa. The relationship may have gotten exciting when we were fucking, but it was way easier to sell to people when we were punching each other. And we didn’t do that at the same time we were fucking. Much. There was this one time with some choking- nevermind. I didn’t end up enjoying it. Live, learn, and get laid.
That’s where I was at when Medusa decided to call me up instead. “Hey, this is going to sound weird, but you’re not working for the government any, are you?”
“Uh, no. I’m assumed dead and not taking contracts right now,” I told her. I didn’t even try to hid what I was saying from a group of kids who were looking at a collection of swords I had on the wall. I’m a big fan of scaring annoying children. It’s a character-building exercise.
“Some of my people got arrested. We have an informant who tells us the President has been pushing to find some way to execute my people before he’s out of office. Legally, it’s impossible. They haven’t even been put on trial yet. But now, we’re hearing he’s hiring the best assassin on Earth to deal with them extrajudicially.”
“Aww, and you naturally thought of me, that’s sweet. But no, no one’s approached me about that kind of work. I get the occasional email to some old contact addresses I set up, but nobody with my number has come calling. Not even the Holy Inquisition, and they’ve got a lot of witnesses they’d want disappeared nowadays.”
“What?” Medusa asked.
“Relax, I’d be more likely to kill the pedo priests than the victims. Almost makes me wish I’d stayed Pope…”
“You’ve got to tell me the story behind that once, but we’re getting off-track,” she said, swinging us back to the point of her call. “Actually, nevermind. I think I need to find someone for a jailbreak.”
“Where are they at?” I asked. “I’m good at getting people out of jail. I practically have my own J.D.”
“No, jail destruction. It’s a much less well-known degree. But I can stop by on my way home from work and break them all out. It’d be easier if you could let me borrow a Flyer, though. I’ve got something here, but it only seats four, maybe five at the max.” Old Mrs. Johnson got her Chevy Impala back with the flight modifications removed. She wasn’t happy it took so long to get her car back to her. I, however, am happy it yielded so much useful data. Still, my current model of flying car, built out of spare parts both new and from wrecked cars, isn’t quite up to the high standards set by the Psycho Flyers I designed.
“Be careful. Cops and the military are gearing up. Higher calibers, plasma, laser weapons, along with new body armors and gadgets. They’re adopting tech from your world and others. The jail you’ll be breaking into is run by federal marshals.”
“Oh yeah? What jail am I hitting?”
“It’s called the Colonel Clink, in Kentucky. One of the last things the Turtle ever pushed through before you took care of him. He held up relief money and other legislation for months, but he had time to create a Federal-controlled jail. Get this, they even put Arpaio in charge.”
I could hear the loathing in her voice and matched it with my own. “The guy who bragged about building a concentration camp gets put in charge of a jail that holds supers? I’m surprised you didn’t come to me about wrecking this place sooner.”
“I know this won’t matter much, but try to keep the casualties to a minimum. Some people are just doing a job,” Medusa insisted.
“Right, sure, don’t hurt the people who are just following orders. We’ll see. Now, about that Psycho Flyer?”
Which isn’t what stopped to pick me up. “What the hell is this?”
The Exemplars had parked something in my shop’s year workyard that looked related to my design, but slicked back and a little larger.
“What the hell is this?” I asked, armored hands on my armored hips.
“Flyer 2.0,” said one of the Exemplar pilots. Looked like he was in updated armor as well. “The old design had flaws. The Riccans updated it and made improvements. This one’s a good eight percent faster and more efficient. Guns are in different positions. Handles better than the original. I’m Peterson, co-pilot. Marks is the pilot. We here you’re going to help us pick up some friends?”
“That I will,” I told him and walked up. I brought an armored duffel with me. I had a few party favors in there, gadgets to give me some versatility. I’m the unexpected nobody truly expects, but even I can be surprised.
They were right about how well it handled. Harumph, I say! Actually, what I said was that I still obviously have plenty to learn. Was a bit more cozy inside, I think. My original design was meant to have spare space. A supervillain’s flying machine must have room for hostages, stolen goods, or superweapons. That’s just basic stuff. This one even changed up the rapid entry/exit portal and made it a bigger, rectangular trapdoor with multiple cables hanging overhead someone can latch onto.
We made good time to Kentucky’s Clink, but as we paused overhead, the pilot called me from up front. “Psycho Gecko, odd question… you didn’t bring friends along, did you?”
“No!” I called up, not sure how well the intercoms worked here.
“You’re going in hot, then. The place is already under attack and we’re hearing chatter from below that it’s Psycho Gecko and a gang of henchmen.”
Someone’s trading on my name. And the conspiratorially-minded part of myself is pretty sure it’s related to the President wanting the Exemplars dead before he leaves office. I headed back to the trapdoor and hit the controls, tossing myself out into the whirly, windy sky. With the Flyer’s cloaking systems still active, it looked like I fell out of nowhere, just a form-fitting advanced power armor parachuting with a pair of liquid-metal wings. Someone figured out I was there was I got close. The guard towers were a bit occupied by orange and grey-clad henchmen in body armor with some chunky rifles. I saw a few of the minions point to one tower that had a guard barricaded in it. They raised their chunky rifles and barraged it with shot after shot of projectiles that cracked sonic booms and the metal of the tower alike. The tower collapsed in on itself.
I collapsed onto one, my nanomachine cloak covering the five of us for a few moments. By the time it settled, that was four henchmen down and me examining one of their rifles. It used a batter to power an electromagnet that flung an iron slug at supersonic speeds. A railgun, or Gauss rifle. I’ve played around with the technology before, but I have reservations about working too closely with powerful electromagnets. Even ones strong enough to nudge another rifle away if it got too closer.
A few other henchmen noticed me, I saw. Another group of four who had been focused on firing into the crumbling side of the jail facility. They raised their rifles. I raised my nanomachine cloak to hide where I was. They fired at my last location, well below where I was then. I tossed one of the rifles up and swung another at it like a batter playing baseball, the magnets helping power a swing that sent a rifle flying hard enough to embed itself in one of my assailants’ chests. I flew at another from a few feet up and grabbed him.
One of his colleagues opened fire. I seemingly ducked behind the man I’d captured, avoiding shots until the henchmen shot into his friend and splattered him into red good. He approached, looking for me, and that’s when I dropped my own cloak, did a split, and uppercutted him in the sphincter. I arose as a human puppeteer. I left him on my fist as I jumped at the terrified final henchmen before me and bitchslapped a motherfucker with another motherfucker. I left those last two piled on top of each other while I headed deeper into the facility toward a group of Exemplar homing beacons embedded in the prisoners.
This was one area where the President’s special attention made my job easier. A normal facility would have spread prisoners out, maybe sent them to different places. Concentrating them all in one place was bad for any other reason than killing them all off. I launched myself onto the roof, “accidentally” tearing off sections of roof and any walls underneath with the nanomachines that I used to help push myself along. Sure would be a shame if lots of people escaped custody. Some were already making their way out through walls wrecked by the “Gecko” attack.
“Marks, Peterson, go down on me,” I ordered.
“Sluttiest jailbreak ever,” Marks responded, bringing the Flyer down low to meet me just above me and following along. I slid to a halt above the beacons and formed an atomic-thick blade to carve my way through the roof. One good thing about the place being run by a fascist dipshit is I didn’t have to go through an insulation area to land in the middle of the cell.
“I looked around at the startled bunch all in one penned-in holding area. I heard screams further off. A guard outside the pen turned and raised a bulky pistol. He fired six shots rapid, and he’d have put a serious dent into armor plates. This armor was more about absorbing the blow and pissing me off as it drove the breath out of my body. I’d be feeling that bruising in the morning.
“See? That didn’t do shit. You’ll want to work on your cardio now,” I said. The guard took the hint and ran for it. I looked around to the others. “Go up on me if you want to live.” Right then, the Flyer dropped cables from its trapdoor.
The Exemplars got busy climbing up while I kept an eye out. I tried the fence, got shocked a little bit, and tried to connect to the prison network. Huh, it was a closed network with no outside access, like a wired LAN.
But just before I left that LAN party on the last remaining cable, I got a glimpse of the ultimate party pooper. Some stupid fucker wearing some old mark whatever armor of mine. Enough of my old stuff is in custody to help someone make reproductions. And note to self: see a less hostile doctor back on my world of origin about homo machina mental degradation.
I cocked my head to the side seeing this imposter, who also cocked their head to the side. Exit cable in one hand, I raised the middle finger on the other. “First, who are you really?” I raised my index finger. “Second, how badly do you want to die?”
“I’m-” the fake Gecko started to say, but the cable reeled me back up to meet the rest of the team before I could hear the rest.
“All accounted for and aboard. We’re done here, aren’t we?” Marks asked back over the intercom.
I closed the trapdoor. “Yep. Confirmed. All that. We’re done here.” No need to risk the mission over a personal grudge. I’m the best at what I do, and sometimes that means personal sacrifices.
And there’s no sacrifice quite so personal as ripping out the heart of someone pretending to be me.