You know that feeling like you’ve been confused for the girlfriend of someone who wants to force you to work for him as a super-cop and imprisoned by his enemies in a big metal Faraday Cage-ensconced casket, and then you get an itch on the bottom of your foot?
No? Must just be a “me” thing. Now, being held captive in a way that messes with my ability to access things outside my own body has come up before. I’ve devised ways around it using the same transdimensional tech that brought me to this universe. That’s why I wasn’t completely helpless. I had proxy bodies and I was currently occupying one. The problem is they caught my real one. Everything I’ve seen so far suggests that if that body dies, I die.
That’s why I had to go to my ex, Medusa, hat in hand and ask for her help. And she contacted Skitwell for me. The Office of Superhuman Resources agent has been courting me to help him out with his army of anti-supervillain robot cops. This time when we met, it wasn’t at my store with him bringing burgers and fries from the Grease Garage. We met in an Exemplar base, with me inhabiting a proxy body grown to look different. Medusa had arranged the meeting, which took place in a hangar that smelled of oil and gasoline. A fitting enough place for me to drop a bag from Grease Garage on the table when Skitwell stepped through the door.
He stopped, and even with those sunglasses on I could tell when he was checking out the bag and when he was looking at the much more fit proxy body with a different face. After a second, he took off his glasses and folded them up. “What brings you to meet with me, Psycho?”
I shrugged. “Your enemies decided to kidnap your girlfriend. You remember her, right? You keep taking breaks to head to a tiny little town and have lunch dates in her shop.”
His jaw dropped, then he let out a single disbelieving laugh. “What?”
“This is what I call a proxy body,” I explained. “I can access these from anywhere in the world, and most places off it. My real body was hit by a really big truck and dumped in a special box that can do a decent job of holding me for now.”
“Oh my god,” he started to laugh. He turned away for a moment, rubbing his mouth and chin. He turned back to me, “Someone left me a note! They warned me to back off or my girlfriend would die. I didn’t have a clue. They meant you?”
I waved off the concern he might have had for the growing urges hidden behind his smile. “If you’re anyone but me, this is pretty funny, so go ahead and get it over with.” While he did that, I opened up the bag and pulled out some food. I was halfway through my burger when the joy petered off and he joined me at the table and the extra food and drink I’d laid out for him. He was nice enough to not poison me, so I returned the favor this time.
I decided to go forward with my proposal as we finished up. “Now, these enemies of yours haven’t indicated who they are to me, but they’ll have to make themselves know to you for their plans. I work with you and we get my main body back with a minimum of homicide. Or I do this without you and give the concept of collateral damage a great new example.”
“Working with you isn’t as good an idea as I once thought it might be. What do I get out of this?” he asked.
I rolled my eyes, “Less loss of life. The destruction of your enemies.”
“You’re already going to kill them, and you’re supposedly redeemed. Or are you working on that still?” He grinned. It’s this self-interested desire to get something out of it that makes me leery still. He thought he had me, so he put the squeeze on me.
I shrugged and finished up my food in silence. “Guess I’m taking my ball and going home then,” I told him, walking away.
“Hey! Wait, I thought we were negotiating!”
Yeah, that’s what he thought. I was offering, not negotiating. I’m sure the kidnappers will pull a phone call, but before they did, I used my multiple proxies and robot bodies and other assets to triangulate and pinpoint the location of my prime body. The suburbs of Chicago were calling me. So was Medusa, but the text messages said it’s because Skitwell wanted to bug me.
He should have taken the offer where he could have had his cameras watching my moves anyway. Now, people have to die in some gated community. Yeah, gated community. Not a bad place for a rogue government agency-turned-terrorists to hide I guess. The walls and guards cut down on scrutiny and those sorts of communities have a long history of favoring only the sort of people the Icers like.
Now, I don’t know for a fact that every single person in this place is my enemy. But I don’t not know that. I parked the Flyer nearby and let the proxy body out in my armor. Recon drones took to the skies, unfortunately scattering a few birds nearby out of their trees.
Hmm. Why haven’t I disguised helpful drones as birds? Clone up some birds or some cats with computers for brains. Maybe bigger animals if I need other bodies… I may be getting too far afield with my ideas, especially because none of those were ready by the time I approached the community, Manchineel Estates. Heh. ICE hiding out behind a name derived from Spanish. The irony wasn’t lost on me. I took a few minutes to spy on the guards at the gate so nothing they carried would get lost on me, too.
Bingo. Those aren’t standard-issue calibers. The heat coming off those powercells marks those as energy weapons of some sort. They also told me some warm objects were hidden in the various decorative plants outside of the fence all the way around. That speaks to the likelihood that the neighborhood is mainly ICE.
I ordered the recon drones to float over and pinpoint the house where I’m being held, and get a good look at the houses nearby. Then, I ordered some pizzas. I wanted to see the guards’ reactions and give them a last meal. It takes a little longer to get a pizza these days, but a pizza guy did arrive. “Who are you? Where’s your ID?” asked the younger of the two guards. He was a little heavier in the belly, but kept a close crew cut.
“Relax,” the delivery guy said. “It’s just pizza. Someone ordered it delivered to you two.”
“What’s this stupid mustache, a disguise?” the young one said, reaching out for the young man’s face.
The older guard, more fit but with a streak of grey in his dark hair, stopped the younger one from grabbing anything. “Relax.” The older one checked the box. “It’s just pizza. Maybe this was a prank. Are the pizzas paid for?”
“Yeah,” the delivery guy nodded. “Take them, throw them away, they’re yours either way.”
With the exit of the delivery guy, who wasn’t me this time, these guards’ time was almost up. The marinara in the personal hourglasses that marked the time they had left slowly drip-drip-dripped to the bottom. Like the drop that landed on my arm just before I grabbed the breadstick headed for the older guard’s mouth and forced it down his throat. The other guard reacted swiftly, reaching with one hand for his gun and another toward the alarm button on the desk. Before he could, I slammed him against the back wall, appearing before him with a big, goofy, curled mustache hologram on the helmet of my armor. I made a show of “tearing” off the hologram.
I opened the pizza box and smooshed pizza into his face to muffle his cries of warning. The hot, greasy mess added some screams of pain to it, and they were cut off by me ripping his throat out. The other guy just about had his breadstick out of his mouth. I kicked him in the balls and shoved it back in, then snapped his neck. That left two bodies, one with his mouth full and the other with an eyeful of pepperonis. Maybe Charon will need a snack while crossing the Styx.
I hid the bodies in a bush behind it, but left the dropped pizza and boxes around. Let people suspect a dinner gone wrong and two embarrassed grown men leaving to get stuff to clean things up. Now, those hot little things they had were these Tesla coils that could extend and zap anyone getting too close. Nifty. I activated them and hopped the gate near me, the night undisturbed except by the sound of some distant plane passing overhead.
I approached invisibly, cloaked by the power of holographic projection. The house wasn’t even that well-guarded. Probably some heavy locks and strategic steel plates. The kind of thing that wouldn’t keep me out. It was all going so well, so of course that’s when a bunch of Enforcer robots parachuted in. One of them landed right on me, a smaller and less-armored variant. I stood back up, snapped it in half, and threw it away. A bigger Enforcer nearby turned and spotted me, showing that I’m not the only one to design ways to give myself sight beyond sight.
I growled under my breath. The Armored Enforcer tried to grab me. I punched it in the gut and it stumbled back, throwing off green sparks. Huh. That’s some stern stuff. Two more came at me from the sides, getting right in the way of the reason all of us would be there. I reached for their heads and activated the laser claws. I snapped the head off one Enforcer, and carved deep into the chest of the second. The second fell, but the headless one continued on until I plunged both sets of claws into its chest and then tore out to the sides. The one I’d punched originally kicked me in the crotch, showing they’ve put some thought into fighting. It didn’t do a lot to me, but with everything happened, I had my Flyer lift off and set it to rendezvous over my head.
Back in my main body, somebody knocked on the big metal casket. “Hey there, girl. Your boyfriend must really like you. I think it’s time we show him this isn’t something simple he can just get rid of.”
I scratched at the walls of my container with those laser claws. I’d never intended to bring that stolen DNA into my own body, but I didn’t have a choice once. Sadly, they were as effective on this tin can as my eye lasers.
“You going to kill me now?” I asked. In another body, I stopped slapping an Enforcer with its own hand and rushed the house. Out there, I could see the ball lightning drifting out of the house, followed by a column of light that surrounded the house. A group of smaller Enforcers shot their extendable arms out; one of them caught me. I grabbed a lawn ornament nearby, and heaved it through the chest of that Enforcer. The robot went down with a flamingo embedded in its stomach area, doubling it over slightly. I slipped free, but it was too late.
The house disappeared in a bright flash. But I wasn’t dead. My real body wasn’t gone. “What happened? Where are we?” I queried my captor.
“You felt that? Very interesting. When we’re done, we should do an intense physical examination of your remains, if there are any. But for now, I’ll tell you. You can’t do anything about it. Welcome to Luna Base Twelve. You’re on the moon.”
The next armored Enforcer I got my hands on, I tripped it, stuck my boot on its chest, and pulled its head off. I scribbled a note on the cheek for Skitwell. “Thanks for fucking things up again.”
The next smaller Enforcer that tried to wrap me up, I evaded and tossed the head at it. Then I jumped up to catch my waiting Flyer.