Outlaw X Presents: Enter The Goldfish

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Cue the monthly break from my boring, over-powered ass to hearing about the lives of other villains. At this point, I’m wondering if I should even bother with my own stuff anymore. I mean, I’m glad nothing’s beating me, but it’s got to be boring.

Anyway, here’s the Outlaw X bunch. Maybe they’ll have something worth paying attention to.

**

“Hey there folks. Been awhile. Outlaw X, cuttin’ through the air again at long last. It was a hell of a time getting things settled here. I don’t want to go into details, but it’s important for us to remain independent and, more importantly, out of prison. Maybe we’ll give everyone the full story someday, but until then, we’ll be on the air to offer you hot tips, cool tunes, and stories by supervillaiins. Folks, at the end of the hour, we’ve got a special by a fellow from Hephaestus to talk about underground agriculture and tips for improving crop yields on your illicit pot and coca farms. What he has to say about the future of illegal farms may surprise you.

We would have had him in here now, but he’s been held up on his way here. He called us to let us know he was calling in a Hephaestus Acquisition Squad to get his wallet back. Some mugger picked the wrong son of a bitch to pull a gun on. We can shuffle things around. We’ve all had plans go wrong before. So we’re going to bring up one of our stories.

Some people choose to be villains for injustice or greed or infamy. There are more good reasons than there are villains. Some of us don’t get a choice. This is a story about one of those, a fellow I’d heard a thing or two about recently. There are plenty of new people with powers every day. There’s been plenty of misfortune to spawn plenty of us these past few years and the same names can’t grab headlines forever. I look forward to the fresh faces and fresh challenges of the future.”

**

I was born the child of white, middle-class parents, so of course I never thought Id’ see the day I was hated just for who I am. Just to be clear, I don’t mean that mythical “reverse racism” bullcrap. My parents actually used to mock the idea that I thought MLK was a good guy. They probably love the way things turned out.

I grew up lonely with the closest sibling in age to me being eight years older. It didn’t help that we lived out in the country in a house built by my stepdad with his barns and his horses right there with us. I didn’t like the outdoors and I didn’t like horses. They’re assholes. So once again, there’s irony there.

Being that far out, we didn’t have water lines. We got our water from a well, which meant we didn’t have any utilities if the water went out. There were filters and things to soften the water, but it was good, delicious water from underground. I used to drink it all the time. Hell, I’d drink pool water while swimming. I didn’t mean to do that, and I’ve thrown up from swimming more than once. Been blind more than once from all the chlorine, too. I liked to swim. When I was little, I’d swim in creeks, ponds, wherever. I had a very friendly relationship with water.

There was a prison out there in the country, too. Nobody wanted them in their city. And like a lot of prisons, this one needed to turn a profit and put the prisoners to work. They mixed and bottled chemicals for a petrochemical company that went overseas a few years ago. This is a lot more than I knew at the time. The community had time to learn.

Somehow, the chemicals got into the water table and kids got sick. That was all some of us dealt with. Others grew deformed limbs or had a strange skin condition, but a few died. I thought I got out of it fine until high school. First came the weird rash, then the scales. Then my eyes, my legs, and my arms. I was a warped monster. I had fins and gold scales. It was painful and itchy. I only felt better when I was in the water. That meant baths and swimming. I did so much swimming, and I quickly realized I was faster and could see better.

The doctors got more and more desperate to figure out what was going on with me. One of them, Katchadourian, got my parents to agree to let him study me while I was swimming. We set out for the Gulf of Mexico. I’d gotten a little afraid of the ocean as I got older. It was full of all sorts of strange, scary animals. It even got harder for me to play Subnautica. I was worried stepping out onto the beach. There were stares.

“It’s alright, he just has a medication condition but you can’t catch it!” my mom announced. She fanned herself while calling from the window of the Caddy truck, air conditioner going full blast. Dr. Katchadourian and I trudged across the sandy beach toward the water, him holding a beach towel around my shoulders.

“Do you just want me to swim around here?” I asked, nodding toward the closer water.

He reached over and tapped one of the devices fixed to my wrists. “These, all of these, will allow me to monitor your vitals in the water. Exert yourself, but don’t get into any danger.”

I shrugged off the towel and walked into the water. I felt so weightless. I hadn’t swam in the ocean in years. I remember thinking I’d be worried about those clear jellyfish, or weird fish brushing against me, but I could see incredibly well. So I thought to myself, why not see how far I can go?

I cheered in my head as I picked up speed. The feeling of the water flowing over me was amazing. I really can’t describe it. Cold and exciting. I think that’s what they mean when they call something exhilarating. I read a lot growing up, but I’d never been in a situation where I that word applied before. And I could see through water that had always been too murky. I dove and chased the fish. It wasn’t until I weaved between seaweed that I realized I’d been down for some time and my lungs didn’t burn or hurt or feel strained. That freaked me out, so I surfaced.

I was…. way the fuck out there. There was no way a person swims that far underwater. Not unless you’re a magician that trains for it. I started swimming back to shore on the surface. That’s how I realized how fast I was swimming. I could have been in the Olympics. I wouldn’t, though.

As I got closer, I saw people on the shore noticed me. None of them were my mom or Dr. Katchadourian. Instead, I saw little kids screaming and running around. A man with too much body hair jogged over to a truck parked close to the beach and grabbed a shotgun out of the back. When I could get my feet under me, I waved my hands in the air and called out. “Are you okay? What’s wrong?”

The man raised the shotgun and pointed it at me. I stopped. “What are you doing? I don’t want any trouble.” I started to back off, but he started running forward. He shot at me! I dove into the water, but I could see he kept coming. It was lucky he missed me. I tried to get away, but he kept coming and kept firing, so instead I circled around real quick and grabbed his leg. I only meant to get the gun away from him and hold him under enough to make him stop. I pulled him up onto the beach, but then I realized he wasn’t breathing. I called for help but no one was around.

I tried CPR for, I don’t know. It felt like minutes. Then Dr. Katchadourian was there and he took over. By that point, the cops were showing up, pointing guns, pushing me down. I didn’t understand what was going on, but I thought it would be fine if I went along with it. They didn’t believe me. They kept saying I was a monster. I didn’t know what they meant until they put me in the interrogation room.

My eyes were larger somehow, like the skin had pulled back from around them. Mouth was bigger. The webbing between my fingers was more consistent and my feet were kind of flippers. I had gold… well, I had yellow and orange scales everywhere, but some were pushed up a little. I ran my hand over them and buckshot fell down onto the floor. The guy hadn’t missed, but I was some shotgun-proof gold fish monster.

I freaked out again. I tore the handcuff chain off the table and started banging on the door. I tried pulling, straining, pressing my foot against the wall, and the door opened. I ran down the hallway and jumped out of the first window I came to, landing on a sheriff’s truck. I pulled myself out of the dent in the windshield and ran for it. I didn’t realize I was running to the ocean until I was headed down a hill and saw it in the distance. Gulf of Mexico in front of me, wailing sirens behind, I sprinted for the water. I’d played football and was pretty fast in a sprint, but I never would have had the lung capacity.

Cop cars came around the corner. One of them tried to hit me and missed, plowing into a woman and her daughter coming out of a gas station. A deputy shot out of the other. I don’t know if it hit me or missed. He pulled up beside me and kept trying. I bodychecked his door and dented it in. The driver’s side window shattered and he swerved off, hitting a parked car. After that, I didn’t see much of them until I got to the water. Some of them were there already, trying to put up tape. Dr. Katchadourian was with them. I slowed to a stop, puffing at the air. “Doctor…”

He raised his hands. “Son, you’re going to be alright. This is all a big misunderstanding, but I need you to calm down.”

“Tell them to calm down, they’re shooting up the town trying to get me!” I said, motioning to the nearby deputies. They had shotguns and rifles aimed at me.

“I know, but you have to calm down. If you calm down, I can get them to put the guns away and we can try to figure things out from here.”

He took a step toward me. A radio crackled. The cops fired. I screamed, because I could feel it when the slugs bounced off my scales. I ran for it, knocking Dr. Katchadourian over, and bounded onto the cruiser he’d been in front of. I jumped forty, fifty feet into the ocean.

I’ve been home before, but they still want me for murder. They want me for a lot more now. I stole clothes, stole money, stole boats and stuff to have a place to live. I tried to sink a house once, but it didn’t hold together.

Dr. Katchadourian got weird. I didn’t have the devices on me anymore. The cops took those off when they first got me into custody, but somehow the guy keeps finding me. He always figures out where I am before long. Last time I spoke with him, there’s no way he should have figured it out. I was just about to sink cargo ship full of sealed containers from the company that made the fishman I am today, when he stepped out of the shadows.

“It’s not too late to stop this, Goldfish,” he said, using my alias.

“Undercuts the point when you bring those along,” I said to the others who stepped out. One super wore a white and purple costume that had an arrow pointing down. Another was in green and silver, with bulging armor pads under the tights. He had three green pyramids that rose poking out of his chest.

“You’ve become an infamous pirate. I don’t know if you’ve gotten to like what you’ve become,” he said.

I shook my head. “Doesn’t matter, does it? I’ve been treated like a monster from the moment I changed. You can’t fix people once you break them, doctor.”

“And I weep for the boy you were and the monster you’ve become, but you need to be stopped,” he said. Claws dug into my shoulder as I was yanked up. I looked up at a guy in a blue an gold costume with wings and the metal claws he was using to lift me up off the boat. I grabbed the claws, which were some sort of boots he wore, and pulled them apart enough to make him do the splits. He let go with me way up in the air. I had survived higher falls by that point.

I almost didn’t sink the boat because the doctor was there. I know he made it off because he showed up a month later in Ricca when I was enjoying some noodles with some of the money I made robbing the wrecked ship. I didn’t have to get onto it to sink it, and I didn’t have to steal from it while it was above water. I suppose with what I’ve found down there, I don’t really need to steal anymore, but then how would I go around calling myself a pirate?

It’s better than when I was a powerless monster.

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2 thoughts on “Outlaw X Presents: Enter The Goldfish

  1. Pingback: New Normal 6 | World Domination in Retrospect

  2. Pingback: Deals And Breakers 1 | World Domination in Retrospect

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