I’ve got my base, hidden under my shop. Technolutionary has his own, hidden somewhere else. We agreed to compromise on a shared space, which we’re working on. He wants something flying. Too many bells and whistles, too many moving parts for me. But not the worst idea. And it helped me come up with an interesting idea myself that I’m going to work on. Why not modify the dimensional bomb technology to hold a breach open? Maybe meld multiple places together. Not the sort of thing you really need if you’re a small business owning retired villain mom.
My girlfriend’s not happy. I told Sam what I was doing, trying to be more open to a romantic partner. She told me straight up, “This is probably a bad idea. That guy’s creepy and he never has good intentions.”
So for now, I’ve got a body up in a flying lab of Technolutionary’s powered by a stolen alien generator. Seeing as I keep spares, of some of my tech, I’ve got a nanite pool, armor auto repair, and the auto-foundry. I’ve also got some computers back in my own personal base running on traps and other ways to apply various stolen sciences to keep what we take safe from Technolutionary and others.
But first, we had to get it. Technolutionary has a few locations mapped out. Some people who get these Omega Pearls aren’t shy about letting folks know they have them. But first, we have a time sensitive matter in the hell dimensions.
As I understand it, there isn’t a literal Biblical Hell. There are a lot of places people think up where they go when they die to be tortured, usually meant to be the worst places imaginable and inhabited by demonic beings that plague humanity. And the various beings lumped together under the label “demon” seem real enough, but being real doesn’t mean every story about them is real. I’ve read about a French cavalry officer who was so strong, others at the military academy claimed he could do a pull up and bring his horse with him. Doesn’t make him fake, but also doesn’t mean he could really do that pull-up. For one thing, he’d couldn’t skip leg day.
Anyway, I figure the hell dimensions might be one inhuman planet with a variety of biomes that gave humans different ideas of Hell. Otherwise, they might just be a bunch of different dimensions each matching a different Hell. No matter the interpretation, I had a bug telling me the box containing an Omega Pearl was somewhere. I armored up and activated the armor’s chameleon protocols, then made a dimensional breach to land about 200 feet away.
It was daytime, lit by an orange star. The ground was rocky, with veins of rust running through it. Near me lapped water, clear but brown. I took a good look around, noticing both a the large, dark blue egg of a structure, and a crowd where the bug’s signal came from. The crowd stared my way. They were humans, two of them being Captain Lightning and his apprentice, Captain Lightning II. Those two were looking at me despite my armor projecting a holographic cloak of invisibility over me. Miss Tycism stood nearby, wearing purple robes and hood. She looked my way, but not at me. The others, I couldn’t make out who they were.
Well, I think I was busted. Not nearly as busted as the bodies on the ground near the bunch. I dropped the cloak and took a long leap to land near them. “Hey there Captain, Captain,” I said, offering a hand out for Captain Lightning to shake. Despite the magic giving him a buff body, he looked like age was catching up to him. He showed a lot more wrinkles and grey hair than I remembered. Then again, the guy was old enough to have fought the Nazis in World War II. I think he’s tired.
He smiled a thin smile and clasped my forearm in that sort of shake. “Gecko.”
Lightning II didn’t offer one of his own. He and Miss Tycism both glared at me. The others in the bunch looked well out of their depth. There was a fellow in a trench coat, another done up like a stage magician, and a woman in a gothic Lolita-style dress and a half-dozen belts wrapped around her waist. The magician carried the case I’d been tracking, the one the Omega Pearl had been sent off inside.
“What are you doing here?” Miss Tycism asked.
I shrugged. “Was going to steal back that Omega Pearl from these folks.” I nodded toward the case that the magician was carrying. “I guess y’all got it first?” The magician opened the case to show it was empty.
Captain Lightning let go of my arm. “We’re all late to intercept it.”
The man in the trenchcoat held up his hand where he held a coin. He flipped it and opened his palm to catch it. It bounced once, then started spinning on its edge. It was slower at first, then sped up when he pointed it to the big dark egg-thing. It slowed as he moved it past the structure, then sped up again when he brought it back.
“So it’s in that big-ass thing?” I looked to the rest of the bunch. “Room for one- look out!”
I pointed up toward the egg thing and the large ball of fire coming at us from it.
The Apprentice Lightning and Miss Tycism acted before the rest of them. Miss Tycism raised a wall of ice that curved overhead, throwing off a little mist from its sudden appearance in a land that my suit said was at what y’all would call 93 Fahrenheit. The second Lightning added his own barrier to it, a half-sphere that crackled with electricity. The fireball hit the ice wall and flash boiled it, throwing steam into the air with a piercing hiss that my ears filtered out. The twin shields held. I even got to see one of the bodies left outside the shield, a pale, horned thing with out of proportion limbs and odd numbers of clawed digits, burn to a crisp. Curious, I glimpsed at some of them around inside the shield and sent my nanites down to do an examination.
“I had it,” Miss Tycism said.
“Extra doesn’t hurt,” Lightning II said.
Captain Lightning floated up off the ground six inches. “Speaking of which, I suppose it couldn’t hurt to have someone along who can help distract them. Gecko?”
“Mind if I bring some of these along for study?” I asked. I raised a hand and a couple of the dead humanoids stood up. Looked like one was masculine and the other feminine, with mouths full of fangs and long, thin tongues.
“If you want to, I suppose. They’re dead, right?” he asked.
“Ew,” noted the woman with the belts.
“Their bodies have ceased life function. The nanites have restored enough to keep bioelectricity flowing and are piloting the bodies for me,” I explained via the one that might have been a female.
“That’s fucking creepy,” Apprentice Lightning said.
“Language,” Captain Lightning admonished. “Fine, bring them. Those are little more than half-feral guard dogs anyways.”
I threw down a holodisc. Yes, I have some of these again. Little portable hologram generators with a link to my armor. I’ve spent years of disposing of stuff almost as soon as I build it up, and I now have more of these. I plan on my vault for the Omega Pearl being a mindfuck, and that prompted me to order up my machines to produce a bunch of these. My armor cloaked us as Captain Lightning raised a clear, circular plane for us to stand on and zipped toward the Egg. The holodisc stayed behind and projected our group continuing out discussion. We were well clear when the next fireball was launched from the fortress ahead of us. Our doubles looked up, made whatever gestures I thought looked magical enough, and then disappeared while running in different directions.
Captain Lightning’s flying disc got us there in a hurry, before they could get a good lock on us again. And up close, the egg wasn’t as big as it looked from afar. I think it loomed because the landscape was so flat, mostly that rusty ground with little pools of water around. “What’s this hell called?” I asked.
“The Blasted Place,” Captain Lightning answered. “The races of demons like to test weapons here. It is the perfect spot to lay a trap, and the place to assemble a dangerous new weapon.” That would also explain the floating islands of jagged rock at various levels in the sky.
“No offense to your companions,” the Magician said.
“They’re dead puppet bodies,” the Belted Woman told him. “I think that one’s bleeding again. I don’t know how it’s standing.”
“I don’t know much about demon bodies, or whatever gets called a demon. Hoping to learn more about these by bringing them along. Believe it or not, I don’t do much business with the Hell Dimensions.”
“Neither do I, this is crazy. Now we’ve got a supervillain along?” the Magician freaked out a bit.
“Hey, here, look at me,” Trenchcoat said. These are just nicknames since I’m clueless who these people actually are, I hope y’all know. Magician turned to Trenchcoat, who put a hand on the side of the Magician’s face tenderly and stared into his eyes. “You’re going to be calm now, do you know why?”
“Why?” the Magician asked, voice shaky. Trenchcoat got a little reared back before slapping the Magician’s face with the open palm not holding a spinning coin in it.
“Or else I’ll have to slap you again,” said Trenchcoat. I like Trenchcoat.
“We need a way in,” Captain Lightning said. “Three, two…”
Miss Tycism held her hand up. Apprentice Lightning started chanting. The gothic lolita woman with all the belts pulled a couple of small glass vials out from her belts.
“One,” Captain Lightning finished. Miss Tycism unleashed a blue beam that she held on the side of the egg, slowly unfolding the material like it had been cut and was being tugged apart layer by layer. The Second Lightning shot electricity that I don’t think did anything before switching to gouts of intense flame that might have sped up the process of cracking this egg. The woman with the belt threw her bottles that exploded violently and unleashed a dark haze. Trenchcoat waved his hand and a wind pushed the smoke away, then pulled out a small wooden wand from his coat. It unleashed a spray of black bolts that flew into the widened gap until.
With their forces combined, the egg cracked. I am Captain Trans! What seems to be the problem, Transeteers?
But seriously, I and my humanoid demon puppets jumped the gap and landed in a nice little forge. Nearby was a what looked like a horned human without the twisted features, his skin a mess of scars. He turned to me and raised a forge hammer overhead. I impaled him with an arm and held his body up, letting my nanomachines crawl in. “Interesting.”
Behind us, the “feral dog” demons clawed and bit at another. I’m not the best at controlling three different bodies at once, but I was able to tear another of these demons apart. Then they were blasted into pieces by another one who held the Omega Pearl in tongs. The tool he used on them appeared to be an ornate hammer, the flat edge perpetually engulfed in flames. I threw the body I’d picked up at him; it held him down while he caught it alight. While he did that, I walked over and looked for the tongs. It was now holding a rubber ball with a star on it.
“Presto!” I heard over at the opening. The Magician held the Omega Pearl in his white-gloved hands, then palmed it.
“I’d really like to have that,” I said.
“I’m sorry,” Captain Lightning apologized. “I’ll make sure you get out.”
A blue, shimmery portal appeared overhead and swooped down, encompassing the whole bunch before disappearing, and taking that Omega Pearl with it. Behind me, the forgemaster tossed his burning underling aside and stood up.
I disappeared. I could take him easily, but what’s the point now? Instead, I decided to head around, see if I could find a good place to cause some last minute destruction with my exit. I found out we were merely in the outer layer of the egg.
Deeper inside was the core. There floated an oblate sphereoid made of pewter or a metal very much like it, carved to a scale model of Earth. Around that floated dozens of these Omega Pearls, all held in a weave of flames that traced through the air between each one. There were many gaps; this grid was nowhere near complete. Even this one wouldn’t have done it. But the Hell Dimensions are planning something.
I programmed the second dimension bomb I was going to use to escape to have a wider area of effect on this end. It would bring more along with me, in case I wanted more of these lovely samples. I found a spot where two of these were close enough to let me nab them and wreck part of that model of Earth they wanted to do something with. Perhaps I could take some samples before that?
I looked around. There was some sort of being in a white robe speaking into an orb on a desk nearby. I couldn’t understand the language, but my translator program was working on it. I stepped closer, unseen, to get a better look. She was yellow-skinned, a couple of holes on the side of her head where ears would be. A half dozen thick, fleshy tendrils sprouted from her back, measuring maybe a foot each. In place of hair were much finer tendrils. She had five fingers, with nails that curved over the fingertips. I let my nanites swarm over her. She screamed while they found their way into her. I’d have knocked her out first, but I didn’t know just how close she was anatomically to human. Surprisingly close for the exterior details, it turned out. Everything was a little off inside, too, further so than that one I scanned in the forge.
Unlike that one, I left this one alive and withdrew my nanites once someone burst through the door. These were larger, more muscular, and biceps bulging with scales next to bulging breastplates.
They couldn’t see a thing, of course, and I decided to get out of there before they would. I checked the Earth model, finding it had rotated slightly in those minutes, and got myself lined up. Then bam!
I reappeared in the floating lab with a chunk of pewter depicting part of South America, and a couple of Omega Pearls.
They tried to reorient themselves, but whatever magic was at play went wonky. The two Pearls went flying off, smashing into things. Technolutionary, thinking quick, raised a gauntlet on his suit and emitting a pulse that stopped one in midair. The other crashed into a bunch of stuff before getting stopped by a wall. The thing was bending it like Jason Voorhees pushing a college girl’s face through the side of an RV.
As I got closer to grab it, I felt weird again. That intense heat. And ideas resurfaced. Going back and abducting exotic demons. Dissolving the other dimensions until there were none left. Making most of the world forget my existence. It bothered me. Yeah, I have the thoughts, but I still know when I’m doing something wrong. I’ve always known.
I opted to grab some breach sealant nearby. Technolutionary had sprayers all over the place in case we accidentally put a hole in the outside of the lab. I sprayed the Pearl down in a yellow goo that quickly solidified.
“Our first success!” Technolutionary exclaimed while we each set ours into the safe meant to be temporary housing.
“Yes, but also no,” I told him.
Despite that, my conscience’s problems with some of the ideas I was having, it felt good to be back. To taste mad creativity again. Only this time, I’m helping the world along with helping myself. Just not helping myself to everything I can think of.
Sam let me have it, too. When she heard what all happened, she decided she’s going to be a part of this and she wants to hide the Pearls. It’s not a bad idea, with what I’m feeling about them.
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