My actions to rile up Medusa worked wonderfully. She’s pissed, and went public with accusations against former President Asshat. With a little more push, she’ll cross that line, and I have just the push lined up. But I wanted to let that one marinate. Some things can’t be rushed. Asshat hasn’t released a taunting statement yet. He will.
So first, I had an appointment. I remember my old friend Mix N’Max as setting up pop-up pharmacies to serve the disadvantaged, but he got shut down shortly after Venus’s change to reality. It’s one thing to give him those pharmacies as a backstory, but he doesn’t actually have any licensing or degrees. Not letting anyone give people any weird bottle of liquid and telling them it’s medicine is actually one of those things I agree with, so I can’t entirely fault them. The exception is that Max can feed someone a shit sandwich and make it somehow give them perfect health. He’s been working his pharmaceutical magic on the run from the law. Half the job’s done for me. I took the Flyer to Los Angeles, where he’s been staying one step ahead of everything along with the help of Sporea.
I looked her up. Pestilentia was an incredibly-powerful super, on the level of a god, trapped in the Madstone. She held power over fungi, bacteria, and viruses. We eventually came to an understanding when I made her incapable of harming me in exchange for not killing her. That might have been wiped away by Venus changing reality. I put that risk out of mind on my way to see her in this reality, where she’s known as Sporea. She helps Max, she helps regrow forests, and she’s done some work in agriculture. She sounded like a Green before the remains of the gang attempted a massive attack on Empyreal City.
I figured my knowledge of Max would give me some sort of edge over the cops in finding him. Plus, he probably wanted me to find him more than he wanted them to. It’s too bad the villain bars were all wiped out in the Big Change.
When I got close, I tapped into the police band. They didn’t have anything on him. Too busy dealing with some climate protesters. I was going to put in a call and withdraw the cops back to the precinct, but then I realized an easy way to find someone offering illegal medical care. I didn’t even have to tell them to get beat-y on the protesters; they did that on their own.
I watched it all happen from behind the ship’s cloak, scraping social media related to the protest and some of the groups involved, then getting into the Discords. A throwaway account got promoted in a bunch of them, giving a location and a time for “doctor care”. The address wasn’t a doctor’s office. The feds could infiltrate easily, but by the time they get to it, everyone will be gone.
It was a homeless encampment. I set the Flyer to hover over it and checked for any presents, like MREs or anything. The most I could bring to the party was the Flyer’s First Aid kit. I deployed down the trapdoor using the rope and held up the kit. “Hey, where I can drop this off?”
“You a cop?” the guy asked, looking up at the nothing I appeared out of.
I gestured to the power armor I wore. “I’m a supervillain. Heard a friend might be here, but didn’t want to arrive empty-handed.
“Hey Johnny, show this weirdo to Max,” the homeless guy said to a teenager. The young boy nodded and waved me over as he started leading me. We ended up at a pavilion made of tarp and tent that was crowded. I saw it, and then I saw the woman pointing a bow and arrow right at me.
“What are you doing here?” she asked.
“Easy, Sporea. I mean no harm to you. I need to speak with you and your boyfriend. I have some crazy shit to say,” I told her.
“Why should I trust you?” she asked. She looked at my hands. “That’s cute.”
I set it down and kicked it over to her. “If I’d realized what I was walking into, I’d have stopped for a bunch of burgers, first.”
Max stepped out of the pavilion and looked at me. “Hey Gecko!”
“Hey Max… wait, you know it’s me?!” I cocked my head to the side.
“Yeah dude,” he jogged up. “I was hoping you’d know what’s going on.”
We hugged. “I’ll explain. How do you know something’s up?”
Max shrugged. “We took a dose of truth serum, meant to show us the truth. It showed me that the world wasn’t right. It had been changed. My darling Clara isn’t a hero named Sporea. Other villains had been changed and altered. Some people were back from the dead. Things weren’t right. It also said George R. R. Martin’s never going to get off his ass and finish A Song of Ice and Fire.”
I nodded. “It’s true. It’ll probably only get released posthumously. Holy crap, I’m glad you guys figured this shit up.”
“Hey, you got any of those nanomachines of yours?” he asked. I called them out of my armor in a shimmery wave. “Awesome, let’s hurry up before the cops arrive.”
“I got a getaway vehicle for us,” I said.
Now that was easy recruiting. After we saw to a bunch of the homeless and injured protesters, we packed it in and I brought them back to my place. I wish Radium wasn’t so far from everything worth doing. It gave me plenty of time to explain what happened and the changes I know Venus had made to reality. She didn’t change that the base under my store is a good hideaway.
Meanwhile, the stain on humanity of a former President had made a speech instead of laying down in a grave and rotting somewhere. I preferred him dead. He “denied” doing anything to the Exemplars by claiming it was a Deep State conspiracy cooked up by “Slutty Medusa” and that he thinks very fine people should stop what the Exemplars do.
The next part of my plan called for killing him. It wasn’t necessary now that I knew Max had some truth serum, but I would feel a lot better. Besides, “I need to make some. It takes a couple days to cook all the lysergic acid diethylamide for it. A gallon goes into each does of serum.” I groaned and pointed him to the fabricators and nanomachines. “Also, don’t forget there’s fast food not far, just try not to draw too much attention, ok?”
I stopped Pestilentia as she was headed into the base. “Also, you take care. I know we haven’t seen eye to eye, but right now you’re the most powerful person that can fix what’s going on.
So I had to wait long enough for Max to cook plenty of truth serum until, at last, the day arrived. It was like another day after I got Max to my base, but I’m impatient. I was forgetting stuff more and more. The bad times, sure, but also some fun times back in the other reality. When I thought back to my childhood, I was a bitchy cheerleader. I studied veterinary science and engineering in college and developed a Ritalin addiction until my girlfriend helped me out of it. I had time to ponder the changes while building something to aerosolize the serum.
I flew in from Radium, and boy were my arms tired. I spoofed a burner number and sent Medusa a warning that someone was going to assassinate the skidmark on humanity’s underwear of an ex-President. I knew she’d get there quick. I was counting on it. I didn’t even drop down until I saw the Exemplar Flyers pull up and drop a couple squads on the property. Then I joined them, landing in the valet parking section without a rope. I turned to a young valet who fell back and started running down the drive.
“Smart kid, he’s got a future,” I said. I wasn’t cloaked, just my Flyer. I went in. I wanted them to find me. And, as if President Shitstain felt the same about me, I saw a big sign saying he was speaking in the ballroom.
The crowd was anemic. There were few of them, and they looked blood-deprivedly pale. The Ex-President was on stage, arguing with the Exemplars, yelling, “Put this on Twitter! Let everyone see, they can’t do this!”
“Listen, Hitler Two: Electric Boogaloo,” Medusa said, pointing a finger at him. “There’s been a credible threat made about your life, and I should stop it.”
“That’d be me,” I said, raising a hand. A bunch of guns turned on me at once, including one guy in the crowd who tried to pull a concealed peace out from under the folds of his stomach. I grabbed it and kept it pointed down at his abdominal holster. “Nobody move, or someone’s gaining a higher pitch.”
“What?” asked my hostage.
“Shush, thinking isn’t your strong suit,” I told him. I turned to the crowd and checked out all the smartphones up getting video. “Good, glad we’re all gathered here. Max, now, please.”
Max responded from the Flyer radio, “It’s done. It’s dropping really slow.”
“That’s unfortunate,” I said, not letting on that I could see the trio of Exemplar soldiers easing up on me with rifles drawn. One almost got the barrel right up to my head when I ducked under it and dove past him. I stopped low and kicked back at his knee. His friends turned to me and tried to fire on the holographic double of mine that ran for the door. It disappeared after a few steps, but my fist appearing in one’s face appeared and cracked his visor when I sent him to the floor. I grabbed the rifle and smacked another of the tree across the head. Loosing my grip on that gun, I grabbed his and broke it over my knee. By now, the first one I’d kicked recovered and turned to me. I deflected the barrel in time for him to miss and punch a fist-sized hole through the wall and a marble statue of the ex-President that pretended the guy had a Greek hero’s bodytype. I pulled the gun out of that guy’s grip and tossed it over my shoulder before kicking the guy hard enough to cause a crater in the wall nearby.
That trio dealt with, I just had another seven soldiers and Medusa to deal with. She came charging up first, wearing black and yellow power armor. The helmet was fitting for her namesake, with a mask that resembled an angry woman and a trio of metal snakes along each side. I caught a punch of hers, then took a knee to the body. I deflected the next punch and hooked her knee. The snake heads glowed and I ducked under six small ruby lances of coherent energy, having to let her go.
“Nice,” I said, rolling to the side. She was there, nearly kicking me in the head, when I arose. Seeing her helmet, I thought to radio up to Max, “Hey, does this stuff penetrate armor?”
“It can get into anything with air circulation,” he answered.
I dodged one way and a hologram dodged another. Medusa happened to guess right, nearly stomping on my ankle. She was really going after me here. Time to go on the offensive. I overlaid a hologram on myself. She tried to block a punch that didn’t happen when I booted her in the belly. She rolled up to her feet, smacking a metal chair over. She grabbed it, and I remembered a sparring session before the change and before my godhood where she stuck one of those through me.
Above and around us, flesh-colored fog drifted out of the vents. It was then or never.
I directed energy into the gauntlets of the armor, forming a glowing projection of potential energy around the gloves. She raised the chair to shield the left I threw and it was bent and thrown away easily. She rolled into a capoeira kick that caught me upside the helmet and came up, giving me a power armor double axe handle to the chest. She kicked the back of my knee.
“Wait!” I yelled. I raised my left hand slowly to unlock my helmet and pull it off.
“Delilah?” Medusa asked, lowering her guard. She took my right to the helmet, cracking that face mask. I quickly pulled my helmet on and went invisible, sealing the suit to the environment once more before the truth serum could engulf me. I totally wasn’t worried what truths I might see.
I don’t know what I was worried about, other than maybe that Medusa did a lot better against me than I preferred. But then, I’m only human.
“What are you doing?” Medusa asked, coming up to me and putting her hands on my shoulders. “Baby, what is this?” She coughed as the gas seeped in.
“Don’t worry,” I told her. “You’ll see the truth soon enough.”
I sounded like a fucking cult leader or religious terrorist.
“Oh god, I’m a narcissistic sociopath who drifted through life on fortune and accolades handed to me by people invested in the lie that being rich made me special! And I really hate Black people and Jews!” yelled ex-President. “Nobody should listen to. In any room I walk into, I know the least. My election was entirely because I was a racist elected after a Black man!”
Even if I hadn’t gotten it all on video, his fans did as well. I stuck around to get plenty of footage to upload, then helped carry out Medusa, whispering to her, “What is reality? Who are you? Who am I?”
“You’re Delilah Gecko…” she said. “You’re… a reformed villain.”
I heard Max snicker and asked, “Uh, is this channel still open?”
“Yeah,” he answered.
“Stop laughing, you clearly fucked up.”
“I see the truth. Isabella shouldn’t be a goddess. She took the powers from you and she messed up, didn’t she?” Medusa looked back at the guy on the stage. “I can’t believe she brought him back. You know I’m not like that anymore, right?”
“Of course I do,” I told her. “Seems everything but that reformed villain part came through nice and clear.”
“Ass,” Medusa said.
“Also, cool costume,” I complimented her.
“Thanks, I kicked your ass with it,” she said.
Max laughed again.
“That’s two lies, Max. Might have to go back to formula,” I told him.
And that’s how I brought Medusa, Pestilentia, and Max into the anti-Venus conspiracy. I don’t even think I need the others at this point. The squads Medusa took with her are also in on it, but I doubt they’ll help much. And as for the ex-President, his credibility’s shot to hell and back now that he got caught telling the truth about himself. I managed to drive a wedge between Medusa and the devotion to the law that Venus forced on her without killing him and framing it on Medusa, who happened to be present.
Doesn’t mean I’m some sort of former villain at all. I could murder him if I want to. It just didn’t serve a purpose like that.
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