I wasn’t even causing any trouble. I know that’s hard to believe, but it was the night before Mr. Rogers Day. Yes, I’m planning to be a good neighbor on Mr. Rogers Day. Or I would have, if I was going to have neighbors anymore. I’ll get to that.
I was watching Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, a fun documentary, when I dropped my remote. I bent over to pick it up and missed the bullet that shattered my big screen. I dove for the side, my popcorn spilling into the air. More shots tracked me, probably near misses, and I landed behind the workbench with my latest rocket assembled on it.
“I appreciate bringing me lead to eat, but I ordered Italian take out!” I called out to my attacker. If you can multitask, I suggest talking to someone while you face them. Some people can get mixed up if they have to do something while listening to someone else.
A gruff voice with a Southern drawl answered back, “From now on you’re gonna take your meals in the pokey or not at all.”
I reached for a plastic sack full of white capsules hanging on the wall. “In the pokey? Listen buddy, I’m as wild as the next guy, but I really don’t care for food to be shoved up my-“
“In the hoosegow!”
“…right, I hope you brought lube along.”
With that, I leapt across to the other side of my workshop. This time, no mere bullets were fired my way. Instead, flames licked at me as fireballs barely missed me. As I settled against the tough metal cabinet and counter, I yelled to my assailant, “That’s one hell of a gun, Quickdraw McGraw!”
“It’s not Quickdraw, it’s Sixgun!” That explained it. The man with the empathic gun of interchangeable ammo, even ammunition like fireballs that shouldn’t exist. I wondered if he had anything like what that big fucking gun shot back on the space marine ship.
“Shouldn’t you be promoting mass shootings to impressionable middle schoolers?” I asked. Regardless of my stance on the issues I bring up, a good verbal kick in the balls always helps. Mwahaha, that’s right, fear what my mouth will do to your balls!
Wait a tick, that’s not right. Also, the wall is on fire. See THIS is why people go for metal or concrete construction right here.
I reached up without looking and found my utility belt on the countertop and dragged it down. I slipped it on and clicked the buckle when I heard him respond, “Guns are perfectly safe when used by properly trained individuals with no mental problems!”
Not sure where he got the idea most people who had them count as properly trained AND sane. “I’m sure that comforts a lot of grieving parents. ‘Oh, geez, sorry your kid got shot with a legal killmachine, but it’s ok because most of the rest of us probably aren’t going to do that. Now if you’ll excuse me, there was an incident at an elementary school today and I need to go reassure more people they won’t be limited to just 5 killmachines.’”
“You’re a real bastard, Psycho. You don’t have the right to lecture anybody about weaponry. Besides, I’m here to deal with your continuous assassination attempts on my sidekick.”
I tore open the bag, pressed on the caps of a few white capsules, and threw them towards the doorway Sixgun appeared to be taking cover behind. They burst into flames in midair not too far away, prompting him to pop out of cover long enough to fire back in response while holding his white cowboy hat onto his head. Lightning flashed out of the end of his gun’s barrel and cracked against the TV. One line went wide and wrecked the top of the workbench I hid behind earlier, blasting my rocket apart.
See, this is why I can’t have good things. And where are my knives?
“Took you long enough. I wonder how long he kept begging for a chance to not have his life put in danger before he kicked the bucket!” I said, changing tracks.
“He might ask me the same thing when I’m finished with you.”
Ah, in all the lightning and fire and bullets, somehow my explosive throwing knife belt wound up on the ground right in the middle of the room. “Now that was a stupid thing to say for someone trying to protect him. You know he started this, right?”
“You captured him! You tried to kill him!”
“He’s a teenager whose first instinct upon seeing a murdering psychopath was to follow him and try to sneak up on him!”
“You poured vegetable oil on him and beat him over the head with a salami. Don’t you know how wrong that was?”
“Yes, I know. I should have used knockwurst!” I heard the sound of metal smacking against flesh. Facepalm. I took the opportunity to slide out on the floor and grab a knife. I armed it and threw it towards the doorway with no particular aim. It was hard to hear anything over the explosion and the spreading flames, so I just had to risk it and rush the door.
On the other side, I saw Sixgun, laying there, staring up at nothing through a pair of holes cut out in a tied strip around his face. I slipped another knife off the belt as I stood over him. I dropped to my knees, pinning his arms down under them, grabbed the back of his head, and raised the blade in the air.
“Hehehe, gunslinger. Not with a bang, but with a whimper.”
Unfortunately, I lost the base. My next step, with all the smoke going everywhere, was to change into my armor and get out of there. Was grabbing as many remote hologram discs when I saw the flames had reached the box of rubber chickens. Fire trucks arrived in time to see me fleeing a clutch of chicken grenades all walking towards the street before exploding, sending my latest lair and me flying.
It wasn’t too much better at the apartment. I was learning here. What I was learning was I was being followed. I had an idea who as well. I also had the advantage of keeping some nifty explosives in my apartment for intruders.
But I couldn’t do that.
See, now I’m at my apartment, staring down a wounded Holdout. He walked in, one arm in a sling, to find me standing there in the dark.
“Still at it? Can’t get enough pain, or are you just suicidal?” I say to him.
He pulls a gun out of thin air. Literally, empty air, then a gun, and his sleeves aren’t that long. Guess that’s why he’s called Holdout.
“You killed my-…you killed Sixgun. You have been trying to kill me. You’re not walking out of here alive.”
“Then I’ll walk out dead.” He cocks the hammer. “Oh come on, you think that’s going to hurt me?”
“It’s built like Sixgun’s. Yeah, I can shoot through that armor.”
“How’d you find me, by the way?” I’m curious. Best to correct for that next time.
“The truck. I memorized the license plate number when you had me tied up and covered in oil. I followed it on the day you tried to crash into me and that confirmed who it was. Sixgun was able to pull together trips it had made from examining the minions you killed and that led us to your new base. And after…you did what you did, I followed you here.”
“I guess you CAN do a little more than pull a trigger, huh? Are you good for anything useful aside from that? I bet you can’t feed a hungry orphan or remove a lump of cancer. Just track down and try to shoot lil ole me, the evil molester of pandas and weapon master of the deli section.”
“Shut up! I don’t have any real power, but at least I can do a little good in all this. Even if it is just a little, it’s better than nothing.” Whoa. He looks shaky. Looking closer, I can see scars and burns. My handiwork by now. “You can’t talk your way out of this. I have to do this and even if I fail, I’ve led the cops right to you.”
“Crap. With all these bombs I keep in here, that’s going to get real messy, real quick.” He stiffens at that. “Or I let you evacuate the good people of this building before folks charge in here after me.”
“You’re going to kill me if I turn around to do that.”
“I take pity on you.” He nearly shoots me right there. I stand there, stoic as a guy can be in armor that doesn’t show his face. After a minute, hearing sirens approach, he eases out the doorway and speaks into something at his shoulder, alerting the cops to a bomb in the building, in my apartment. I just close the door, catching a glimpse of my neighbors and their little girl being helped out of there by the wounded sidekick.
They manage to get them all out in 20 minutes. I’ve fortified the doorway pretty well in that time and there I am, standing at the window as helicopters illuminate me with the floodlight. It doesn’t shine off my armor but it does off the window, making it a little harder for sharpshooters to take a whack at me. I know the SWAT are getting close, so I press a button.
The apartment explodes outward as the bombs go off, raining burning debris over the assembled cops and a few onlookers too close to the scene. More of the blast was directed away from the interior than I figured.
Me? Oh, I’m watching from a couple of buildings over. Wish I had a drink with me. Yep, I barricaded the door and the interior walls, set one of the hologram discs down with an image of myself, and hightailed it out of there. Before you start with the “Oh Mr. Gecko, you’re so handsome but sooo cowardly,” let me just add that I was trying to avoid blowing up the little girl next door. That’s why I couldn’t just lead Holdout in and blow it all up right then and there.
She’s a former client. That sounds really wrong, but it’s the truth. Looks like the fire trucks will get most of the damage since they were called along as well.
Holdout? Maybe I’ll kill him, maybe I won’t. Let’s just say the kid showed some balls and some good decision-making skills. He gets a part in taking me down as far as anyone knows, I killed his boss. And almost killed him a lot of times. And murdered supervillain support staff. And I struck out with Dave’s wife. I suppose we’re roughly even if I go easy on NEEDING him dead.
Well, my apartment’s kablooey, my lair got blown up, most of my equipment is destroyed or seized, a hero is dead, I appear to be dead too, it was all done rather publicly, and it is now Mr. Rogers Day, when I shall do no harm. I’m not a really good neighbor to have, though. Would you be mine? Could you be mine?
Hmm…now there’s an idea.