Category Archives: 04. A New Boss in Kingscrow

Road trip!

I dunno, maybe I’ll visit some old acquaintances?

A New Boss in Kingscrow 10

There was no more trouble on my stopover and then second elevator ride. That changed, obviously, as I exited to Long’s office. I had to take my hands off my singed rocket package because the secretary, Mechamoto Musashi, was ready for me. No one is ready for a bushbaby to the face, as I can also attest to. The subsequent upward swinging rubber plant and pot to the balls is also difficult to brace for. He got some air on that one, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he needed to have one of them popped back out of his body.

He may be a samurai, but I am the master of the 5 Knuckle Reverberating Testes technique.

Mechamoto was barely slumped over when some sort of glowing blue net wrapped around me courtesy of Troubleshooter. I tried to tear at it, but it was draining the power from my suit. There was no risk of leaving me on empty, but it kept the muscular enhancements from working. I didn’t even have time to try my Nasty Surprise. Metal clamps wrapped around me. My arms were mashed against me, but I could maneuver them to my sides a little as the clamps loosened just slightly to better adjust their grip. Troubleshooter stood near the door to Long’s office proper. Her backpack extended a trio of thick shafts to brace against the ground and the clamp arm running from her backpack lifted me off the ground. Another arm with a circular saw extended forward.

“Stay still. I am just going to get that helmet and armor off you,” she told me. She had a smug smile on her face, like she had just caught me or some nonsense like that.

It got less smug when I got to the fireball capsules. I really don’t show those things enough love, but they’re not much my style. They just seemed like a good idea once for this guy with webbing, and I’ve taken to keeping a few on me for the odd situation when it becomes useful to have something on fire. Ok, so even though very few situations aren’t made better by things on fire, I still don’t show them enough love.

Speaking of things on fire, my suit, the net, and the clamps weren’t either. Heat can do wonderful things to wiring, though. The net failed. I tried the Nasty Surprise and wiggled it around until I found a joint opening. It was taking too long, but then any amount of time is too long with a circular saw coming at your head. A solution to this problem required me to use my head. I headbutted the circular saw. It was knocked down and back somewhat while leaving a gash in the armor of my helmet. With a sound like a sigh, the left clamp failed and dropped me to the ground. With a smug smile on my face now, I ran for her and went for a front dropkick.

I hit her, expended my forward momentum, and dropped flat on my back. Damn tripod on her backpack kept her in place, but it was so beautifully executed a dropkick that it took her breath away. Or maybe that was the actual kick connecting. Either way, she sucked at the air like a lifetime member of McDonald’s Anonymous. That had to run down the side of an erupting volcano. And also, it was cannibals being tossed from the volcano.

I pulled off a kip up for probably the 3rd time in my entire life and gave her an uppercut. Then I pulled her forward where none of the tripod legs was bracing.

Mechamoto was back on his feet, however, and his blade stopped by my shoulder’s house to say “Hi, we’re in the neighborhood now. Would you care for some cold cuts?” Stuck me right into the wall. I would have tried that badass “Pull yourself up along the blade and snarl in their face” thing, but it was in the bone and I don’t like getting spittle all over the inside of my helmet. I fell back on my old favorite, but got no reaction as I kicked him between the legs. It was worse than I’d thought. They were actually knocked inside.

Facing a man with no weak points, I realized something important for the first time. I never recovered my potato peeler from the apartment in Empyreal City. Twisting blade interrupted those thoughts.

It would take some careful footwork to put him down and-. Nevermind, Max got him with a red Swingline stapler to the back of the head. Talk about shitty samurai armor. It’s a good thing Japanese Samurai never had to face down a horde of disgruntled office workers.

I guess modern day Japan really would kick its ancestor’s asses.

“Max, sup?” I said, pulling the katana out of my arm shoulder and walking over to Troubleshooter. I stabbed it through a portion of her costume and into the floor. Then I made for the rocket case I left by the elevator.

“Not much, Gex. Just that Benny boy is getting away while Forcelight is seeing him away, and Forcelight is actually his adoptive daughter, and that means she’s Doc’s daughter.”

“Well what the hell, man, you just dump all that on me suddenly? That’s not even dramatic.”

“Hey, you could have listened to the monologue too, but you had to win and come bursting in here like a big damn hero. You should have seen it too. Lighting was perfect, he had a cigar, everything.”

“Where is Forcelight?”

“She’s with Long. Seeing him off while he escapes.”

“Where’s he go?” I asked, dragging the case along.

“Look out the windows,” I heard from Doc, who was slipping free of his bonds. Bennett Long’s helicopter was leaving again.

“Doc, it’s not important to actually see his face when he goes, is it?” I called out to the man with the leather scrubs and the exposed face.

“I think we’re all ready for you to just end this, Gecko.”

“Righto, my good chap, let me just set up us the rocket,” I said. Max grabbed the comfy-looking solid wood chair behind Long’s desk and hurled it out the window to give me an opportunity. I pulled out the glove, got the box opened, and launched it without me. It didn’t have an explosive warhead in it because I’m not stupid. Instead, I directed it right into the cockpit. The helicopter went down in a death spiral and crashed into Life portion of the Long Life logo.

There was a Ding! from behind me. “Turkey’s done,” I said and turned to find Forcelight stepping out of the elevator. Judging from the fury that came over her face, I think she put 2 and 2 together for 4. Escaping helicopter missing, explosion against the side of the building, same case left behind when we last escaped on rockets.

The light surrounding her glowed all the more brightly. I don’t know if I was just adjusting, but all the other lights seemed to dim. It seemed as though she was the sole, excruciatingly bright light in a dark area. I could barely make out Troubleshooter helping Mechamoto to the elevator beyond Forcelight. Doc moved slowly and pleaded with his daughter but she swept him aside and into the wall, cracking it and something in Doc. I grabbed Max, swung him out of the window before he knew what was happening, and threw him at the window a floor down. I knew he made it to safety from the crash. Unless the glass nicked him in the wrong place, I suppose.

Ah well, he’s probably got so much stuff in his bloodstream, bleeding out will just sober him up. Wait a second, being sober is horrible! I’m a monster!

The light flowed at me, throwing me off balance. She was trying to throw me out the window, but the desk was blocking her somewhat. I threw myself to my right and braced myself against the window and the framing, then sank to the ground. I dug my fingers into the expensive carpet, throwing them into it one hand over the other, crawling my way towards her as office furniture flew past or overhead.

It was harder and harder to move towards her and I had to wonder why she wasn’t giving it her all. She tossed Doc around like a berserk diabetic manhandling a bag of sugar. I focused on that lovely face of hers, contorted in a wrathful expression. Trust me, when I use the term contorted for a woman and I’m not being a sexist pig, you know that’s some serious wrath. Course, no sooner had I thought those thoughts than she suddenly increased the intensity and blew the inner office’s walls in on me and I was falling.

When I got a clear enough view, I could see I was nowhere near a handy landing zone, but at least the do gooder was coming to give me a hand-

-she punched me! I mean, I just woke up so I’m a little late for outrage, but she farggin’ punched me! And now I’m even higher in the air-

-ok, I’m lower now, she hit me again. Girl’s got an arm like a-

-the surgeries and superhero organs, that’s it! Somehow he got it to-

-Geck Want Smash!-

-Enough! She is, every single one of her, beneath me! I am a god, you dull creature, and I will not be bullied by-

Ok, so good news and bad news. The bad news is I lost and am suffering some slight memory loss. Also, I’ve been stripped of my armor and due to some repeated brain trauma through the air, they needed to strip me of my underwear. The smell was too much. Don’t worry, I can still take notes and get this out whenever I get within range of my car. Doc and I are locked up pretty well, and the shackles are even attached to the wall of this van. I’ve told him I have an out, but he’s not listening. He’s insisting I let him do his time. What kind of crap is that? I’m sure he could get out if he really wanted to, but he doesn’t seem like he wants to. I tried telling him how bizarre this is, but he’s saying it’s over now. No more need to wear that awesome leather outfit and slice people up so artfully.

Thinks maybe, with thyme, he can reconnect to his daughter. I told him that it wouldn’t matter if he had parsley, sage, and rosemary as well, that she’s kind of pissed off. And a hero! Can’t reason with those types.

He just looked at me and said, “I hired you and there are two things left before the deal is done. First, you are not to harm her, ever. Second, you leave Kingscrow and don’t come back.” Don’t you hate it when a deal comes back to bite someone in the ass? Happening to the hero of whatever little story about mermaid princesses or frog princes, I understand, but not to the villain of the piece.

But he’s right. He hired me, and a deal is a deal.

The van doesn’t get too far before having to stop. The rear door is being unlocked. Nothing like a dozen SWAT officers with automatic weapons staring at you in the buff with your hands fixed to the wall to make you feel like a menace to society. The driver of the truck’s busy arguing with one of the officers. The man who opened the door and another nearby man hop in the back with me and Doc. One arm at a time, they unlock me, with them making sure to hold my wrists and slip on the latest and greatest in power dampening cuffs. When they get them on me, they lock the cuffs together. All of it was done by random digit passcode on the cuffs themselves. I wish I had some boots to mock shaking in.

“What seems to be the officer, problems?” I ask pleasantly as they led me out and to a nearby SWAT van.

“Quiet you,” says the one behind me with the gun.

“But what if you want to hold something against me in a court of law?”

“Close your mouth or I will close it for you,” he says, backing it up with a gun barrel poke to my spine.

“You know, your wife said completely the opposite last night,” is what I get out before he conked me in the back with the gun.

Turns out, spare restraints are somewhat adjustable and can fit over a human head.


There is a boring drive, getting out, being led somewhere, and then being pushed into a seat. When they remove the adjusted cuff from my head, I am sitting in an office in front of a man in a nice suit who looks self-important and slightly familiar. “Do I know you?”

“Psycho Gecko.”

“Wait, I’m not the pope, am I?”

“No, you’re Psycho Gecko.”

“Oh, ok. Cool. But damn, now I can’t call down the wrath of Yahweh upon you.”

“My name is Joseph Adontes Jr.”

“Hey, I’ve met your dad!”

“I’m aware.”

“I thought you said your name was Joe Adontes?”

“I want the money back.”

“I don’t really watch football.”

“The money I was supposed to inherit from dear old Dad before you paid him a visit.”

“Ah, well, that. It’s a little bit of a secret,” I look around conspiratorially. I’d never heard the doors close again. I see a couple of guards and Joe Jr., motions for them to leave. They shut the doors behind them as they exit. I leans forward and Joe Jr. does the same. “Ok, here’s how I get to the money. First, I break out and I shove your head into your own ass, then I waltz out of here.”

He leans back with an irritated scowl curling upon his face, “I’d like to see you try.”

At which point, having long since melded with the systems on the cuffs, I simply open them up.


Ok, another time skip here. I’m a day out of Kingscrow at the time I’m noting this. Fully-dressed, for all of those wondering at home. My armor is still back there, possibly. I hit the detonation signal, but I can’t be sure they didn’t separate the belt from the armor. I’ve got something in mind to deal with any of it they have left though. So, I’m making this one last note to this because it seems the title I gave this particular sequence of events has proven somewhat fortuitous. Forcelight, aka Aneta Long, is the sole heir to Long Life. The press conference she held was picked up by Outlaw X on the radio so I got to hear her announcement that she was going to continue what her father started and clean up Kingscrow. The Good Doctor is in jail, and I have no word on his outreach efforts, but Mix N’ Max and his accomplices are still loose. Good for Sam and Holly. Max might relocate again with this pressure on, so I might get a chance to see him while she’s busy cleaning up the rainiest city in the U.S.

I guess in her story, she’s the big heroine who can’t follow all the moves the villains are making and gets overwhelmed but finally gets a chance to put them down after they’ve pulled off their most heinous act, all the while her new team comes together handling the myriad of problems in the city. Probably makes for a better read from her side, or even from Doc’s side, the reformed villain who was a supposedly-good man suffering his redemption.

You’ve read my side. Only side I can present of it. I love a good revenge story. In the end, what did we really get from all this? Cash. Fear. Respect. Yet another photo of me being taken into custody nude. And yet, I somehow feel like we lost a little too.

Oh, before I forget, ahem… Next time, Forcelight. I’ll get you next time! You couldn’t see it, but I was doing some awesome fist-shaking when I said that.

I’ll be seeing y’all. I got an idea where I’ll head next, an old stomping grounds where I have a spare suit, and a nice place to visit if you’ve got the blues, so I’ll see y’all around next update.



A New Boss in Kingscrow 9

They got Doc and Max. Captured them. They were paying a visit to that rep. Doesn’t matter if they got to him now. Superheroes aren’t exactly spec ops. The whole mess isn’t quiet. Even if he doesn’t talk about it, the news is swarming all over the place. It was an odd choice, but I’m guessing they don’t have much choice now, what with the investigations.

Turns out Max has been messing with some drug testing results. Ridiculous stuff, of course. Horse steroids, deer hormone supplements, recombinant bovine growth hormone, and the usual pregnancy false positives. At the very least, they have to spend time looking over the guys, keeping them in doctor’s offices. The public scrutiny is great.

I wasn’t at the lab at the time this went down, either, doing the very important job of bringing back supplies from the grocery store. The usual. Snacks, drinks, cleaning stuff…tampons for the girls. Probably why I wasn’t in the building when they dragged the girls out and torched it. There would have been more casualties had it been me, but looks like Sam and Holly did ok on their own. Some of the enforcers had to be lifted out in a helicopter. From the looks of things, Sam went a little crazy with her piercing gun. The guy with the microwave connected to his tongue by a chain was easy to diagnose. I’m not sure what happened to the guy holding his crotch. Possibly an involuntary Prince Albert.

Despite the water and hitting me with various things and the jokes behind my back and the taunting, I admit I’ve grown rather fond of them. That’s why the guards with guns to their back wound up with 2 liter bottles breaking across their faces. Holly and Sam took the hint and made a run for safety. I don’t blame them one bit. I have been known to lower the life expectancy of people in my immediate surroundings. A merc in an exoskeleton turned toward them, but I blinded him with a pudding cup to the face. I tried to stop him from raising any more of an alarm by shoving a tampon in his mouth, but word got out anyway. For that, I relocated his nuts a few inches up his body.

The enforcers were forming up, weapons aimed at me, including more PKM soldiers. They were stopped as Col. Mortimer called out, “I want this one personally.” Past the soldiers, I saw bulky machinery rise up, then turn toward me. Mortimer’s face looked out from a bubble cockpit, his lower half protected by armor plating, like a medieval bevor. Fancy term for the part under the visor that protects the mouth and sometimes throat as well. Regardless of what I know about helmets, Mortimer stepped forward in this large piece of machinery and raised the sculpted fist, letting out a burst from the flamethrower on its forearm. “You’re not the only man in a power suit that can take down someone’s base.”

I threw the rest of the box of tampons at his cockpit and hit the stealth.

“You don’t want to show yourself. That’s fine. Let’s just hunt down those girls and throw them on top of the barbecue. There are no rewards for them. We can do whatever we want. Naw, that’s not going to do anything for you. We could level the whole block and it won’t move you. No girlfriend that we’ve ever turned up. No boyfriend either. We’ve already caught the closest things you have to friends. You are a man who leaves nothing but death behind you. The world will be happy when you go.”

Projections of me appeared charging him. He turned, punching, firing the flamethrowers on both arms. I even put one projection on one of his men with the misfortune of standing too close. I didn’t give him very long to play before I dropped them all and hung down where he could see me, looking at him upside down.

He couldn’t see it through my helmet, but I smiled at him as I waved the chicken heads around. I wish he could have looked between the mech’s legs to see all of them running around like explosive chickens with their heads torn off.

I laughed in his face as they went off sending us flying up with the mech’s legs traveling in different directions. At least, I laughed until the mech flipped over, falling head first, my too, too squishable flesh underneath it. I scrambled to climb up the thing and managed to get so far that my boots were under its arms when I landed. As we crashed and the cockpit bubble shattered, I was shaken off and greatly hurt my ass, to use the technical term. I jumped up quickly though and put on a show for the assembled soldiers around despite my aching tailbone.

“Oh yeeeeaaaah, brother, that’s what you call the Super Exploding Fisherman’s Burning Mech Piledriver 95. Who’s next, if you smell what I’m cookin’?”

They turned and ran.

“Hey you cowards, come back here and get your heads ripped off like real men!” I yelled after them. Then I heard a squawking from the downed mech. Sliding down beside the cracked cockpit, I could see the aptly named Mortie had a radio headset on. I slid it on out of there off his head and wiped some of the blood off before tuning in.

“Yeah bossman?”

“Mortimer? This isn’t Mortimer. Who is this? What’s happening?”

“Mortimer is currently indisposed. He’s playing Squash.”

“Put me on with him now or you can find a new job.”

“Please tell me this is Mr. Long.”

“It is. Your ass is in a sling now.”

“Mr. Long, it’s your ass in a slingshot if you don’t give me back my friends. I’d bring up Mortie here to testify to that, but he’s a rather grave man and I think he’d like to rest in peace.”

“Who is this?”

“It’s Psycho Gecko. Your enforcers are no longer an issue in our dealings, so I guess all you’ve got left to defend yourself with are those heroes of yours. Your choice, I guess. Can guard the Good Doctor and Mix N’Max, or you can guard yourself. You don’t have the manpower for both at the same time.”

“They’ll be in my office in 30 minutes. I won’t be.”

I tossed aside the headset and went diving into the fire real quick, looking for any of my gear I could savage out of this. I did find one thing.

It was less easy making it to the zoo on time. Because I still don’t trust Bennett Long and because even if the place is empty, I want to wreck it a little bit. I had to run around pretty quick in there blowing locks off the gates. Luckily, I could ride for the next part. I hopped up on a giraffe’s back and wrapped my arms around its neck to steer. The motivation for giraffes, ostriches, and so on to run came from the lions, tigers, bears, and other predators I’d released second. A bushbaby hopped up on me, covering my face for a moment. I slid it around and it held on to my neck in much the same way I was holding the giraffe, except it got to sit to a big black case I’d strapped to me. Storks, starlings, even a kookaburra and a woodhoopoe all flew out ahead of me as I led the rush of animals down the street to the Long Life building.

If you’re worried about the slower animals, I didn’t take everything in the zoo. The penguins have to sit out until I can figure out some sort of ice gun.

As I approached, I realized it was good to have been skeptical. Paveman was waiting by the door, drawing from the asphalt and concrete to increase his bulk. He threw some chunks of it high and managed to startle the giraffe which threw me onto my shoulder, to the panic of the bushbaby riding me. Still, I knew how to deal with a man made of rock.

“Stop!” I said, pointing at him. “Hamerkop!”

Not just the Hamerkops, but a lot of birds landed on Paveman all at once, blinding him and allowing me to grab hold of an ostrich. It didn’t care for that, but it wasn’t going to sit around and argue with me with that tiger right there, so it used that bill to break the glass door and hop inside. I saw the birds scatter off the flailing Paveman as the tiger pounced him instead, probably breaking fangs in the process. Ah well, no accounting for taste.

The ostrich bucked me off when I tried to take it in the elevator, leaving me upside down propped up against the wall. Fucking ostrich. The bushbaby had crawled back on my face, protecting it but giving me an idea what ZZ Top sees when they’re upside down.

I moved it so it was behind me again as the ostrich tried to assault me. I was forced to pimp slap the bird before forcing the doors closed.

I was surprised the elevator was even moving, but I guess a trap is no good if you don’t get someone into it. My best guess is Paveman was panicked by the sight of a zoo coming down on his head. To be fair, that was kind of the point. I felt good though. Plenty of adrenaline. Even felt lighter, which I checked on and found the rocket case had broken free of my back on the elevator.

Well, there goes my big surprise to y’all about how the hell we’re getting out. That charred case is the only one I had left.



A New Boss in Kingscrow 8

Another day, another building destroyed. With the data from the Mayor’s office, I found a few of those enforcer stations. Some thrown together quickly, some put in buildings designed for something else, and some were still being built. I found a pair of fun targets. One was closer to the lab than I’d prefer. The other was on the opposite side of the city, right near the bridge.

I put a distress call out along some of my contacts, groveling for someone to get me out of that station’s lockup. As a completely unrelated aside, it’d be a shame if anyone put a bounty out on me to unscrupulous supervillains who might attack the place looking to turn me over themselves.

As for the other base, I admit, my approach could have been better. It was near the base of the bridge, along a road that went just under it. You’d be able to see it on your right until you got too close, as near to the bridge as it was. If I had some sort of boat, or a scooter, or a cargo helicopter, this might have turned out differently. As it was, the way I went about it required careful timing. And a truck. And a lot of money. Also, some paper, ink, an envelope, and shipping. These are the details that make it difficult to fill out the “Illegal Income” portion of the tax form. I had to hijack the truck, which wasn’t all that difficult. An old coot swung a bat at me. I guess he had one to spare in his belfry. I threw a joker card in his face.

Then there was clearing out some of the cargo and removing the roof of the trailer. I’ve got a LOT of mayonnaise I have to get rid of now. Max doesn’t have enough freezer space for all of it, what with the zombies in there.

Then there was loading up the bowling balls. Always with the loading up the bowling balls, right? It IS the obvious next step, but it’s work intensive and I don’t have minions. I asked Holly to help, but she beat me with a stick. It hurt my feelings. And my phalanges.

So then, starting across the bridge and all the way across the bay, I accelerated. Got that sucker moving, I know that much. Was a little bit of an issue with other cars in the way, but that’s why I added the cow catcher and the giant grinning clown head with bulging eyes and long fangs. Looking back, I almost feel like calling it Psycho Gecko’s Happy Express.

Right there, close enough and fast enough, I jackknifed on purpose and slid over. I know, dangerous to do in the middle of traffic, but I had my power armor and seatbelt on.

The bowling balls went flying through the air, hundreds of them raining down on the LL enforcers and their station. It was solid brick construction, but these were bowling balls accelerated to 115 mph and flying from way up in the air. It was like a hail of bowling balls banging through the windows and roof, smacking a guy in a powered exoskeleton. I even saw one hit the sidewalk and bounce up between an enforcer’s legs. 7-10 split, know what I mean?

Of course, just when they thought it couldn’t get any worse, the rest of the mayonnaise finally landed. Even worse, weather report says we’re looking at a hot and humid day tomorrow.

Not everyone has been a fan of my initiative, however. I walked in the base later that night and Max sprayed me right in the face with some ice cold liquid. It was like it was freezing every pore on my face. “Ah! What the hell was that?” I asked, covering up.

“Water,” he said, and sprayed me again, this time on the back of the neck, “Bad Gecko, bad bad!”

“Whaaaaat?” I cried out as I tried to escape the onslaught of his cold spray bottle. Alas, the bathroom with its towels did nothing to save me. It was occupied by Holly. When I turned around, I got another faceful of water. “Argh, I’m melting in freezing ice water! What a world, what a world.” I curled up in a ball, holding my coat around me to try and protect myself. “What did I do to deserve such cruelty? Holly, Sam, help me out here!”

“It’s not about the girls this time. You just brought down a hell of a lot of heat on us,” I heard him say over me as he grabbed me by the collar. I sandbagged so he couldn’t yank me up or anything.

“Chill out. Smoke something and calm down. I’m sure you have some Fucital around here somewhere.”

That’s when the door slammed and the Good Doctor stomped in. “Where…” he muttered to himself before seeing me on the ground. When I tried to sandbag him, he stomped on my head. I held the back of it as I raised myself up on my knees, but before I could even get an Ow out, he grabbed my throat and started choking.

I nearly killed him. It happens. When I felt his hands around my throat, for a moment I lost all recognition of who this person was and my mind raced with deadly thoughts. The top of his mask was still on, but the bottom part was open. I could see his sneer, and somehow realized he wasn’t giving me his full strength. Realizing who he was again, my reluctant ally, I did the only reasonable thing I could do to snap him out of this. I reached into my pocket, pulled out my banana, peeled it, and shoved it into his mouth.

It is common knowledge that in the UK military, they train soldiers to deal with an attacker wielding a banana. This is because a man with a banana is a versatile foe who you should never turn your back on. Actually, turning your back on them is one of the safer ways to confront them, unless you slip on the banana.

With banana smooshed in his mouth, Doc was forced to relent. I had to cough a bit, but luckily there wasn’t a lot of damage. At least, there wasn’t until Max sprayed me right on the hair with his arctic spray bottle of doom.

“Ah! Stop that you two. What is the big dealio?”

Doc grabbed the sprayer from Max and threatened me with it. Truly, he has a heart of cold ice water. “Unless you’re in the middle of some plot to take over or destroy the entire city, you stay away from the elected officials,” he said, like it was a rule or something. I saw Sam come out of the den area with a big bucket of water. Her ambush was unnecessary now.

“Except the DAs,” added Max.

“Right, except the District Attorneys,” he reiterated all formal and whatnot.

“What, it’s a problem to assassinate him, unless I had anti-grav devices in the sewer and tried to float us all away?”

“Yes,” they all agreed. Doc, Max, Sam, even Holly from inside the bathroom. Followed by what sounded like a Muck Monster being born. Max raised his arm towards the door and let out a couple of sprays that gave everything a flowery scent.

“Shouldn’t matter,” I told them,” I have stymied his political ambitions. Ended. Finished. Arivaderci. Rubbed out. Maybe even killed.”

“It’s not too hard to see through that. Our feud is a rather public affair,” said Max.

“It’ll get a lot harder to see through when we get that Long Life rep who tried to sick the rest of the guys on us to come forward and testify. Then everyone will be too busy looking at the conspiracy and imagining coverups. I was just going to stop in, order some Chinese for y’all, then put the armor on, but noooooo, you had to drag that devilish bottle and your water freezing concoction into things,” I explained. The word of a villain is, unfortunately, not always trusted in court. Good thing I’m not trying to tell them the truth.

“We will handle the representative. You will be too busy drying off,” Doc said. Max gave Sam a nod. She threw the bucket of water on me.

“Will you people stop that already!”

Doc leaned down, looking me in the eyes. Or he would have, but my hair was draped over them like I was Cousin It cosplaying as Revolver Ocelot. Which, if it wasn’t me, would be a kinda hot image. Of course, Doc’s X-ray vision. He was probably looking into my eyes anyway. He spoke quietly to me, “You changed our conflict from dark villains taking on a corrupt businessman to murderous villains taking on the entire city. If you just attack a city like this then retaliation will come forthwith. You may be suicidal, but the rest of us don’t want to fight the National Guard.”

“Then we must make use of the ancient wisdom of a boy who has been snuck into his girlfriend’s room. Get in, finish quickly, and escape before someone shoots us with a shotgun,” I said. It elicited groans from the group, including Holly in the bathroom.

“That was crap, Gecko,” she yelled out.

“You would know!”

Max was looking over at the TV in his lab. Guy likes his cooking shows when he’s cooking up the devil dust. “If we go that way, and it appears we have been forced into this course of action, then we can avoid fighting them with appropriate foreknowledge.”

The news was talking about the attacks on the enforcers. First it had the station I mentioned that earlier as too close for comfort. The side of the building accessing the holding cells was torn open. The culprits, Rupt and Starnose, were in custody. The former had a light pole wrapped around his hands and neck, while the latter was laying knocked out with his head in a mail drop box. The heroes were there and mostly unharmed. General wear and tear, some marks gouged out of Paveman’s rocky form and Troubleshooter’s sonic dish was half bitten off.

Then it cut to the station I attacked. The station was wrecked and soldiers were walking around. They slipped on Mayo that was beginning to clear. One guy kneeled and cried over a meatball sub, obviously his lunch, which had been absolutely covered in mayo. That Colonel Mortimer was there and looking very unhappy around his black eye, holding a printed off picture of bowling pins I had couriered over in one hand and giving the camera crew a blurred out middle finger with the other.

I looked up at my comrades in arms, “I’ve got the balls if you two do.”



A New Boss In Kingscrow 7

Operation “Wake up, cause chaos, have a beer,” has been working out pretty well, except it has been incredibly boring on my end. If this was just me on my own, that wouldn’t have gone over well, but I am a consummate professional on the job, as y’all can no doubt tell. I’ve had some time to heal up, rebuild, and restock, so I’ll just bring y’all up to date on everything.

In the time it took to relay what happened, we’ve been making life pretty hard on ole Benny Long. I won’t go into excruciating detail though.

Let’s start with The Good Doctor. He’s been hunting down some of Long’s doctors, focusing on the disreputable ones since he doesn’t care if we know that he doesn’t like to be like us. At the time, I was sitting around in my boxers only, on a bean bag, eating Cheetos and patching up my armor, so no offense taken. He’s got vision, though. He’s been using it to paralyze these doctors. He knows right where to hit them to keep them alive but unable to show it.

It’s not a perfect plan. After the first few were taken in for autopsy, they picked up on his trick. I suggested he find other uses for them and helped him dress a few up as gnomes to stand them in the botanical gardens. It was all fun and games until the bees came after us, but we were able to swat them away with this other doctor we were carrying.

He still wouldn’t let me use the guy as a butt scratcher though.

Still, there are only so many doctors out there who are complete bastards. For some reason, Doc doesn’t want to go after the ones who just write “recto-cranial inversion,” “faecal encephalopathy,” or “chronic biscuit toxicity” on the charts of difficult or stupid patients. Or obese patients, which is what that last one’s for. I suppose just this once I can understand his restraint. After all, if I was a doctor having to deal with those people, I’d probably be prone to a diagnosis of AMYOYO Syndrome, which was named after Dr. Alright Motherfucker You’re On Your Own.

He’s now resorted to hunting down past recipients of the organs he donated using the information Max has gathered for us.

Max has infiltrated some Long Life interests and given some administrators something to make them much more cooperative. He used that access to peek into Long Life’s database and to play with the legal drugs in those locations. You know, the ones that are deadly and addictive even when not made in a trailer park. The things that you take for pain that can actually cause an overdose.

If I seem biased, it’s because I’m pretty sure marijuana doesn’t cause anal leakage.

Max is funny like that. One hospital, he got real funny. For an entire day, every IV they gave caused an erection to the patient that lasted more than four hours. It was pretty amusing at first, but Max took it a step further and, to make a short story long, the women got them too. The surgery to correct that is pretty well known, but there were some who kept them. In a few cases, the women loved having their own. In others, a couple of women are suing because the hospital staff mistook them for men.

I wish I could say we planned to tie up the legal department too, but it’s just a hilarious coincidence, and I can say that because they’re not suing me.

Please don’t sue me.

Of course, that wasn’t nearly as destructive as when Max hit up one of the private clinics. Went in for a boob job? A few days later, the pair spontaneously lit up like fireworks and then deflated. He even took my advice and made them sound like whoopee cushions when they went flat. Went in to get looked at for an STD? Max’s truth serum will make sure you tell everyone all about how you got it. Botox injections? Maybe if you want the injection sites to turn bright blue, red, or green.

In light of this, and with high society being what it is, the Kingscrow Theatre Society’s Charity Ball was THE place to be this year.

As for me, not much interesting has happened. The guys just wanted me to sit around and work on my equipment. Get better prepared to take on the Long arm of the law. I suspect they knew about my plan with the zoo. Give me a large group of animals in the middle of a city, I’ll give you a show. Not the kind you’ll see in Tijuana, either.

The news has had a field day with Max and Doc, and even wild speculation about where I am.

Why would I agree to sit nice and quiet in the lab and get prepared? Because the media know that I sneak around and kill people in creative, loud, explosive ways. They get nervous when they don’t know where I am. I like it. I can be lazy, sit around, change up my cheeks, brows, chin cleft, and hair color, and work on a couple of plans to kick Benny in the nuts without taking depleted uranium to the cranium.

Also, all the speculation is messing with people and I’m totally shorting Long Life stock.

Like I said with the explosive chicken, reputation means a lot. Bennett Long wanted to swoop in and import a bunch of mercenaries under the guise of finally putting the supervillains down and earning himself political clout. Not everyone’s plot to take over the United States is quick and involves satellites with lasers. He’s off to a bad start. The only good part to the mess was his personal team of superheroes showing up to make their first public appearance. That and the Youtube hits from all the employees on their first floor dancing to Thriller while the police zombie unit runs around thinking it was a serious call at first. But back to the heroes. Troubleshooter, Mechamoto Musashi, Forcelight, and Paveman, who I didn’t see at the building. Everyone’s been crawling all over the new heroes. Paveman’s old news and Troubleshooter has been around a bit, but the real story is Mechamoto and Forcelight. A mysterious superhuman cyber samurai and a flyer with what they called “kinetic light” powers. I suspect they were cobbled together by Long Life.

Ah, and here’s the Mayor.

I said they wanted me to sit it out and I said I did enjoy getting to work some in the lab, but where I am currently is the Mayor’s office.

“Yo, what up, Mr…Addison is it?”

“Mayor Addison. Who are you and what are you doing at my desk?” asks the bald, somewhat overweight man in front of me.

“Just sending dirty emails to your secretary. Good to see you the ones I sent you got you here fast enough this time of night. Also glad to see you have information on the locations of those new Long Life enforcer stations. In light of that, I’m willing to offer you a proposition,” I say as I pull the maps up. My hand is on top of the tower under the desk, melded with it. Chatting with y’all was something to do while I downloaded the data.

“You still haven’t told me who the hell you are. I can have the police here in 5 minutes,” he looks indignant at that and turns to the door.

“My name’s Psycho Gecko, so calling them is just gonna get people killed. I’d rather keep the death toll down this time around, so sit and talk,” I said with a grin, motioning to the chair in front of his desk.

His face is getting red, but he restrains himself from speaking and sits down.

“Good, I’ve come here because a friend has told me your political opponent Bennett Long is trying to work with members of the criminal underworld to take control of the city.”

It’s true. Max’s goth girl walked into the lab earlier today while I was working on some things.

“Hey Thing 1,” I told her.

“The objectification is cute, but my name is Sam Hain. Max wants you to learn it or he’ll turn you into a cod fish. I bet you haven’t even given me or Holly any tags in that blog of yours,” she said.

“Completely untrue,” I told her, knowing she can’t read it in this dimension.

“Uh huh,” she said, then sat down on the nearby couch, “You’ve got Cheetos stains on your chest.”

“Dangit, woman, I’m trying to put a chicken together!” I told her. Blatant lies about the stains, by the way.

I leave all that out here and now as I talk to Mayor Addison. “She told me a representative of Long Life met with various gangs to get some support. The bounty thing isn’t working out since we tore up the towers, so he’s promising cybernetics and jobs as enforcers when he’s mayor. Claims to have higher ambitions.”

“Do you have a recording that would prove this?”

“Nope, but I can get a hold of one that will do a nice job of incriminating him and ending his campaign.”

“Officially we never had this talk, but I think you and I have the same goal in this instance,” he says. He looks much more agreeable. That’s when I get a message I have been waiting for from Max in my helmet. I just nod, hold up the controller and give it a push. The pad under the Mayor’s current seat launches him and the chair into the air with amazing force. And into the ceiling. And the next ceiling up. The one after that as well. Through the roof. And there he is falling onto a war memorial outside dedicated to brave WW2 paratroopers.

Nope, no recording. I had asked Sam about that earlier. She threw a pillow at my face. It was horrible. I nearly suffocated.

Ah well. If you’ll excuse me, I have to make a phone call to Bennett Long’s office letting him know in no uncertain terms that the Mayor has been eliminated for him. No uncertain terms, but very easily recorded ones that are about to get leaked out to the press.



A New Boss in Kingscrow 6

The elevator reaches the floor it is headed to and stops. Waiting mercenaries calling themselves peace enforcers take aim at the door and fire. Holes are torn in the door as automatic and burst weapons fire tears through the metal and into the interior. Anything at waist and chest level would be shredded. A few who fire in bursts just finish as the doors open. A couple of the soldiers who readied grenades ease off.

A headless rubber chicken walks out of the elevator towards the incredulous soldiers and explodes.

I told you, it’s about style.

The Good Doctor dropped down from the ceiling of the elevator car while I decloaked. I reached out a hand so he could help me up, but instead he grabbed a severed limb that had landed nearby and began whapping me over the head with it again and again.

“Dangit, Doc, do no harm, do no harm! You’re becoming a Hippocrate!”

“You nearly got me killed for that!”

“But it looked awesome.”

He stopped hitting me with the wet end and instead turned it around to slap at the front of my helmet. “It would look a lot more awesome if you didn’t have holes in you. I thought you said you were fine.” He dropped the arm and reached down to give me a hand as I stood, feeling metal rolling around in my tender internal organs as a few holes began to bleed again. We limped over past the dead and dying men.

“The adrenaline wore off.”

“Yes, one more reason for you to not sing in the elevator.”

“You just don’t like Gwen Stefani.”

The Doc opened the other elevator down and stepped inside. He reached inside his jacket and produced a key, unlocking the elevator. He hit the ground floor button and stepped out again before the doors close. “Gwen Stefani is fine by me when it is her singing. You, on the other hand, sound like a goat being mounted by a minotaur.”

“I’m curious how you know what that sounds like.”

“Guys, this sounds like a bonding moment with you two killers having some fun back and forth, but you had better get over here,” Max spoke up over the comms.

“What is upizzle, Max?”

“A lot’s upizzle, Gecko. Heroes inbound.”

“Plural. Hobble faster.”

I did so. We worked our way to the further side of the building, towards the windows. “You’d think you two have never killed heroes before.”

“That is our notoriety, my dear deadly associate, but your hobby and our accidents.”

“I supply the red, Doc’s blue, and you are the purple prose of our posse. Ah well, I’ll be glad to get out of here. I never meant to take this much time,” I said as I reached the window. Max already had the window open for us to step out onto the suspended scaffold he confiscated from some unfortunate window washer. Then again, given the crazy hallucinogens Max cooks up in his concoctions, that window washer might be staring at a pigeon in a gutter somewhere with drool hanging from his lip to the ground and think he’s having sex with the sacred pimp-god of the buffaloes. It was just the three of us and three black cases. “You didn’t bring the girls along on this one?”

“They have names, Gecko.”

“Right, Magenta and Columbia or somesuch. Where are the heroes?”

Max rolled his eyes and pointed down, to his distraction. The lockdown mostly affected the bottom floors and my pal Mix N’Max knew how to make it look like the threat was coming from down there. He dosed the area with one of the many impossible concoctions his power lets him think up that causes people to think they are zombies. “You set something on fire?” I asked, seeing smoke roll out of the doorway far below us. Max joined me in looking down. Doc stiffly avoided looking down at any minute angle.

“No, I changed the plan. I brought along dry ice and a sound system to play Thriller. The drug they’ve been exposed to has a fun reaction to that combination.”

The Good Doctor, party pooper that he is, cleared his throat then. When Max and I looked up, he pointed right back down to the boxes. “Our getaway, gentlemen?”

“Yes, just how do we make use of your ingenious vehicular weapons?” asked Max, setting himself over the box in the middle of the three.

“Take the remote off the side,” I explained as I grabbed the one off the closest box. The remote had a handy glove on it so that you could put it on and have the remote portion in your palm. I slipped it on over my left hand.“Joystick controls the angle. Left to start turning left, right to start turning right, and then forward for down and back for up. Depending on how we do, I’ll consider swapping up and down. Once you’ve got this thing on, step on those grooves on top and let it fasten you to it, like so,” I said, and thusly hopped on top of my box. Straps extended out and looped around my boots to secure me against it. “Now, that I’m on it, you may notice a few buttons on the remote above the joystick. Run your finger over them one at a time from left to right and you’re good to rocket away like Captain Kirk from a paternity suit. Simple. Or as simple as flying a rocket with an entirely new control system could be your first times.”

Doc looked sick through his suit, and Max might have been a tad paler as well. “What’s the matter?”

“I wasn’t aware you had planned…this for our escape,” Doc spoke up.

“I was,” said Max, grabbing his remote off the side. With both of us remoted, Doc reached down and took his. “But I think we’ll have a problem launching off of here.”

“Then we’ll go ins-“ I was cut off as the elevator dinged. Out stepped a man dressed as a samurai with glowing blue and red markings over his black armor and sword and a woman in a thin-shelled armor sporting goggles and a backpack with a dish and waldos hanging off it.

“You three, surrender now. Don’t make us come after you in that position,” Said the woman in the armor. My helmet ran her face and description and gave me her name. Troubleshooter. Doc and Max stepped onto their respective boxes.

“Oh please, I’ve fought better heroes than you in far more compromising positions. You ever kicked ass while in the reverse cowboy?” I asked her. The samurai charged Doc, leaving a dual trail of red and blue light. He swung for Doc’s back as he approached.

He was stopped when Max sprayed a small amount of a fluid into the air. Hardly anything, really. Automatic air fresheners shoot more than that. As Mechamoto Musashi, as my HUD named him, swung his sword through the area the spray had been shot into, the blade snapped off. It didn’t stop or bounce off some forcefield, it just snapped all on its own. Mechamoto was understandably confused.

Doc caught the falling blade of the sword, elbowed Mechamoto in the face guard, and shoved the blade into Mechamoto’s foot. Then a banshee’s scream ripped through the air, deafening all of us. I found the cause to be the dish on Troubleshooter’s backpack, aimed at us and inducing a sonic attack. Sonic attacks just do not go with rockets, I swear. I muted the sound from outside my helmet. “Max. MAX! Do you have any more of that dissolving stuff left?!”

He mouthed the words, “A little. Was almost all,” to me and threw his hands up in the air as if he was perplexed why I’d ask.

I held up the remote in my hand so he could see, palm up, and brought my arm around to the front cable. I then activated the Nasty Surprise. The blade shot out and began eating through the cable. Max got the idea in a hurry and waited until it looked like the cable would snap, then he fired off the last of that dissolving mist on the cable in front of Doc.

I leaned back and raised my front foot, landing on the front rail of the scaffold. I had to bend over to avoid smacking my back on the back rail, but that became a moot point as I hit the startup sequence. The box burst apart as the rocket inside launched, the grooves on top the only remaining connected part of the box.

Max hopped out, falling a short ways before hitting the sequence and following after. The Doctor tumbled, spinning through the air. I came around, aiming right towards the hanging scaffold, and shot Troubleshooter the bird before pushing down, aiming for Doc. Before I could reach him, though, he finally hit the buttons and shot off, parallel to the building as opposed to Max and mine’s perpendicular launch. After a half-minute’s aerial acrobatics which were viewed at the very end by a woman in a white costume with a red cross that centered just below her ribs, we got our act together enough to make a badly synchronized exit.

Still fucking awesome, though.

And boy oh boy was I glad to be finally out of that building. That meant we could focus on the rest of our plan, or as I called it, “Wake up, cause chaos, have a beer.”



A New Boss in Kingscrow 5

Just because I am a homicidal maniac who kills people at the drop of the hat doesn’t mean I fly off the handle every time someone hits me with my own pineapple. Mostly, that’s because it has only happened once. I snatched my fruit away from Good Doctor, though.

“Fine, no more calling Dick dick. You think it’s worth a trip up the tower? I’m in a nut-crushing mood now.” I turned to him.

“You are so juvenile at times.”

“Your mom’s juvenile.”

Doc sighed and walked over to the broken window, carefully stepping around the bodies and staying well away from the edge. “I believe the odds are worse for us if we try that. We should leave now with him bloodied,” he said, sweeping his hand across the carnage we’d made of the room.

“Heeeeeey there Max, where are you at?”

“I’m set up, but they’re locking down the building,” he said over the earpiece.

“It wouldn’t matter anyway,” Doc broke in, hanging out the window somewhat with both hands firmly on the frame, “It looks like we’re high enough up that you can’t meet us with the scaffolding. Gecko, let’s look for the keys.”

The building wasn’t just straight up to the top. As I don’t know architectural terms, the best I can describe it is that it’s like it stops abruptly with a narrower portion extending upward from that point. We needed to get back down. With the building on lockdown, we’d need those nifty keys the security detail brought us up with. I began checking the belts of the guards, not even bothering with Dick.

I hoped they weren’t on the one I threw out the building.

“I’ll see you as high up as I can go then,” said Max, the transmission cutting off as he began to hum a little tune.

“Ah, here they are. Oh, and here he is,” I could practically hear the loathing in Doc’s voice. He was standing up from a soldier and looking off into the distance at a private helicopter flying away. Over the sounds of the city, we hadn’t noticed the big guy fleeing. Sounded a lot closer too, or that was just the city again.

Which is when the Apache dropped down into view and made my day worse. Doc ran for cover with me running so fast behind him I risked tasting his colon if he stopped suddenly. The attack helicopter saved me from that fate, however. He made it out the door in time. I made it through the glass panel next to the door with the help of a Hydra 70 rocket. The Apache continued strafing over us with its 30mm, letting up as it neared the elevator.

The smoke detectors and sprinklers went off right on time, putting a further damper on my mood.

Doc uses knives, garrotes, and scalpels. I use my fists, the occasional explosive throwing knife, and other assorted gadgets like my chicken grenades. I’m out of the knives, but I did have a chicken. I planned to use it to get past whatever guards were going to be waiting for us when we made our way down the elevator. Of course, kinda hard to ride the elevator down when you’re blown up or shredded by a hail of bullets.

It was circling around the building, letting off bursts of 30mm rounds and Hydras where it could get away with it. Doc and I kept our heads down and stayed away from the outer rooms while we came up with something. We didn’t hear the elevator ding, but the opening of its door signaled an end to our planning session as more of the enforcers arrived. Six men, two of them with PKMs. Yep, a 7.62 machine gun. That’s gonna fucking hurt.

“You want to take these guys and slip down before that chopper knows we’re gone?” I asked the Doctor.

“No. It’s a threat to the escape route. It will spot Max before we’re there or before we can get away. We have to take it out. Doctor’s orders.”

“Not even get the warning of a latex glove snapping? We’ll take down these guys but try not to blow any up. I have a plan,” I said, wagging the pineapple in my hand. The Good Doctor probably cursed at that, but either way, this could save my chicken grenade for the right dramatic moment. Don’t judge me. A reputation is a huge deal for a supervillain.

There’s no shame in running at certain points, but do it with a bit of style if you have the chance. You know, a cunning remark, a cutting remark, or even just an “I’ll get you next time!” type of phrase. Maybe fireworks that form a giant middle finger. If you pull it off perfectly, you can become a legend while salvaging the fact that you just ran like a dirty coward.

In order to run away, I charged the enemy. They fired, and I seemingly split into three, all slightly unique. One crawled along the wall, another dashed upside down on the ceiling, and the last ran along the left side of the hall. They split enemy fire before the soldiers concentrated on the more conventionally running one, which I split again. With the hall filling up with Geckos, they fired wildly, ultimately hitting me a few times, but with a lot less consistency than if I wasn’t invisible with several holograms to distract them.

I’ll be honest, it hurt. Luckily, after the fact, I can edit out the exact words I used to describe it. If you’re really interested, just tape yourself yelling “Fuck!” and put it on repeat for the rest of this fight. I mean, I survived. Armor piercing doesn’t fragment or expand like hollow point, so it does less damage inside a person if you get shot in a less vital area. Remember, kids, don’t test that at home while you have this page open. They might stop letting people read it.

When I reappeared, it was too late for the lead PKM enforcer to avoid my knee in his nuts. I grabbed his gun off the desk he set it up on and blinked away. Normally that’s another name for teleportation, but I use it for when I disappear for only as long as a second at the max. I reappeared knocking another enforcer in the neck with the first one’s PKM. I noticed the first soldier go down too, with Doc sneaking around to our fight. He was always better at throwing them than I was.

I blinked again, appeared between two of them, poked the one facing me in the eyes. I disappeared and got out of the way just in time. The guy behind me tried to shoot me in the head. It wasn’t pretty for the first guy, but at least he didn’t have to see it himself. Meanwhile, Doc wrapped his garrote around the throat of the man I’d hit with the machine gun, slicing through easily with a spray of blood. I knocked the gun to the side and pulled off my most painful move yet. I did a split.

Oh, and I punched him as hard as I could in the balls. Then I tore them out. But seriously, at least he didn’t have to do a split. At this point, one of the soldiers bugged out and tried to run for it. He wandered off too far and was mowed down by the Apache still circling the floor. The other one actually had a shot at me, but I distracted him with a pair of balls to the face. It was long enough for Doc to stab him in the face. To death. Good thing too, it took me way too long to walk right after I pulled myself up.

“Thanks Doc,” I told him, while brushing myself off. “Now, gather up the grenades.”

I found the Apache holding position probably trying to contact the mop-up squad. They obviously weren’t trained in anti-pineapple tactics. They began to fire again as it hit the blades and was torn apart, scattering the garrote, grenade pins, and grenades. I hit the ground right there so they wouldn’t bother strafing again. Explosions surrounded it, tearing into the metal like a playboy through hot women and sending it smoking to a nearby rooftop for an improvised landing.

I limped back to the Elevator, holier than I ever should be. Doc looked around at the fires being fought by the sprinklers, “Are we in any danger of collapse, Gecko?”

“Depends how hot it gets, Doc. Steel can lose up to 90% of its strength before it reaches melting point, but I think that takes airplane fuel. No more rockets being launched anyway, so I think we’re fine.”

“Do you require medical attention?”

“Nanites are on the job. I’m really considering killing whoever thought it was a good idea for a health services company to employ mercenaries.”

“I hear the Iraqi Green Zone is nice this time of year.”



A New Boss in Kingscrow 4

Despite what I said to you and to them, Tuesday afternoon I did walk the Good Doctor into the Long Life building, looking to all the world like a man in a trench coat turning in my former leather-clad ally. You could actually see the color drain from their skin. Naturally, they had armed guards there in a second with guns trained on us both.

Their uniforms were in urban camouflage, with bulky pads on the chest, thighs, and back. Military-standard for handling superior powered beings, which meant vests under the pads as well. Probably packing armor-piercing rounds as well. A decent setup in force against any supers without adequate armor or defensive abilities.

“Your rent-a-cops here can stand down. I have the situation completely under control and I will be keeping it under control until I get paid,” I told the receptionist nearest me, projecting a wide smile that could have been disarming. Hell if I know. Like I care.

“They’re just here to make sure absolutely nothing could possibly go wrong. Think of them as insurance to make sure you get paid,” she told me, fixing a grin on her face. Now, due to events entirely outside her control that culminated in the unsettling discovery that not only could pizza pockets burn, they could become too hard to eat, I was already in a bad mood. I was tempted to grab that pen she held and jam it straight up into her palette, then move it up and down to make her talk like a puppet. Then I figured maybe I should go the old-fashioned route and shove my arm full-on up her poop-chute. Not like I’m afraid of them adding another charge of Aggravated Anal and Fisting in the 2nd Degree. Before I could complete that thought, she told me to follow the guards and motioned to the nearby elevator.

What none of them knew as I dragged Doc into the elevator with me, four armed guards settling in around us, was that I was wearing my full set of armor. One of them inserted a key into the panel on the elevator and turned it, no doubt to give us all a private and stop-free journey. “I see you stopped wearing the armor that assembles onto you,” Doc said quietly into the comms hidden in his own mask.

“It is just easier to project a hologram that I was unarmored and unarmed,” I told him, my voice completely cut off from the outside at the time except through the link in Doc’s mask. “Speaking of clothing choices, they have vests under those big pads with all the knife room between them, don’t they?”

The Good Doctor’s X-ray vision is not named literally. He can see through various layers of material, but thick enough substances can stop him. A good, thick concrete wall is best if you don’t want him to know where you forgot to armor up at today or just which bones you broke for his own exploitation. He looked them over for a couple of seconds as our elevator climbed the building. “Yes, but standard Kevlar with all its many weaknesses.”

Doc was a kind man like that. I mean, sure he thought all the rest of us were immoral scum-suckers, but it fits with the story of how he joined us at the bottom. But I call him kind because some villains would have referred to Kevlar by its nickname amongst the villain community: TP. It means either tissue paper or toilet paper depending on the whims of the speaker.

The DINGing of the elevator alerted us to a temporary stop. Our little cohort exited the elevator with an extra detail of guards waiting for us before leading us to another elevator that required a key just to call. Another short ride way above the ground later and they sent us to a meeting room along. Nice room too. Thick, red carpeting that matched the cushions of the wood chairs that sat around a mahogany tableIn total, we had eight gun-toting mercenary “peace enforcers” standing around, thinking they’re hard, complete with “I wanna shoot me supervillain” boners.

“I wish you weren’t giving them this chance, Doc. There’s nothing else for us to learn before we crush them before us and hear the lamentations of their women.”

“My daughter is one of those women, Gecko.”

“…ALWAYS the lamentation of their women. Lament, lament, lament. It gives me a headache.”

“Ah, gentlemen, nice to see you. I’m Richard Terryson, and this is Colonel Mortimer,” said some executive patsy across the table from me with glasses and hair that shouldn’t be brushed back like that. So, the big man himself didn’t come down. This meant that not only were we dealing with a double-crossing backstabbing Benedict Arnold of a traitor, but now we knew he couldn’t be trusted either. Ok, what it really meant was he was at least smart enough to not meet us in person.

“Time to cause chaos yet, Doc?”

“We might as well.”

“Nice to meet you, Dick,” I said, where they could hear. I emphasized the Dick part. “Say Dick, I hope you don’t mind if I call you Dick, Dick, but let me ask you, Dick, is it ok, Dick, if you pay me in cash, Dick?”

“Uh, sure, if you’d just finally hand over the Doctor.”

I shoved Doc into a couple of the guards nearby and he fell awkwardly. They bent down to pick him up.

“Dick, that’s fantabulous, Dick. And Dick, by the way? This is gonna hurt.”

The Good Doctor stood up, freed, as the guards picking him up fell down, blood spurting out onto the carpeting. I grabbed a pineapple off my belt and bashed the guard on my left on the head with it hard enough that it flew out of my grip. Now, some of you may be wondering why I used a pineapple. Just go to your nearest grocery store one day and look at the pineapples for a couple of minutes. If the thought “I wonder what it’s like to bash someone over the head with that,” doesn’t cross your mind, then you’re not thinking about fruit right. Anyway, I pineappled one guard. Then I grabbed the chair in front of me and broke it over the head of the man to my right. Then I threw it at Dick, who was scrambling for the door. It hit him in the legs and he tripped. Mortimer drew a gun and fired, the bullet knocking my head to the side as I dropped the illusion that I was my civvies.

I’d have lunged over the table at him, but then the other two soldiers who I hadn’t hit and who weren’t being cut or garroted by the Doctor opened fire on me with submachine guns. I grabbed the staggered soldier nearest me on that side, his armor absorbing shots for me as I advanced. I peeked out over his right shoulder, “Yoohoo, assholes!” Then on the left side of his stomach, “You guys suck at whack-a-mole!” Finally I bent over, calling out from between his legs before I lifted the guard up and threw him over my back.

“Oh shit, you’re in trouble now, aren’t you?” I told the guard closet to me before grabbing his throat, charging up my other glove with energy, and give him a jumping uppercut to the chin. I ended the punch facing away from him, but I could tell by the whimpering of his buddy and the rain of blood and bone that I had just blown his mind. The other guard turned to run through the same door Dick had tried to get to, and the same one Mortimer had retreated through as well. I grabbed this guard by the belt and pulled him towards me.

His whimpering stopped just about the time I began the 63 on his ass. This time, I rotated along the Z axis, I think, then spun around behind me and launched him at the window. Normally, skyscraper windows are resistant to a person’s body weight. In my time, I’ve come to understand that they do not resist tanks, rockets, huge swords, chicken grenades, tank-sized superheroes covered in salsa, a casket full of bikinis, or a mercenary in full gear being thrown by a man in power armor. That last one I discovered just at that time, actually.

Doc snapped the neck of the man he had tied up with a garrote and stepped over to Dick, who had crawled back against the wall, terrified and probably dripping with the unpleasant variety of bodily fluids. The last living soldier in the room, the one I had broken a chair over, grabbed a grenade in his hand because he was a moron, so I pushed him back against the open air where the window used to be. He dropped that grenade in a hurry as he swung his arms out to try and catch his balance. I grabbed him by the collar and helped him back in by swinging him overhead and bringing him down on the center of the solid wood table.

I was hoping to put him through the table, but the cracking noise seemed to come from his neck, so that was a miserable failure.

I joined the Doc by the Dick, who had fainted. I bent down and slapped him on the face. Then I figured I’d try to wake up him. The second time, I slapped him with the hand that was used in the 63. He began to stir. “Dick! Hey, Dick. Dick, listen Dick, how many fists am I going to hit you with?” I asked as I stood up in front of him, both hands balled up in front of me. His eyes went wide. I kicked him in the side of the head, knocking him out again against the floor.

“If you said zero, Dick, then you were right…Dick.”

“Dick Dick Dick Dick Dick Dick Dick Dick Dick Dick Dick Dick Dick-!”

I was stopped by Doc bashing me on the head with the pineapple. He just looked at me, shaking his head. “Are you quite done yet?”



A New Boss in Kingscrow 3

Good Doctor didn’t let me in on what was up right then and there. Instead, we rode over to Mix N’ Max’s lab. He was persistently silent throughout the drive. When we walked in, we found Max looking at some brain matter under a telescope. The TV in the next room was on and loud enough for us to hear.

They were reporting on Chief Assistant District Attorney Joseph Adontes Jr., whose father was kidnapped and forced to abet a bank robber. Looks like Joe’s grandkids are going to be more pissed than I thought.

“Heya Max,” I said.

“We need to talk privately. Make sure the girls don’t interrupt us,” Doctor said curtly, indicating the room the TV’s noises emanated from.

Max looked up, one eyebrow raised curiously, then called out, “This can wait if it’s so important, just let me get to a stopping point first. Hey girls. If you will, turn that TV up and don’t come in the lab until I say otherwise!” A stopping point? Must be an important matter.

I walked around and messed with some of the equipment as Max’s current helpers turned the TV up. “Meanwhile in Empyreal City, the absence of Sixgun was revealed by his successor, the Lone Gunman, who has vowed to take up his mentor’s guns and charge…” That was so surprising, I nearly knocked over a large bag of baking soda sitting right there in Max’s hidden lab.

Luckily I didn’t. It could have mixed in with the big bag of cocaine right next to it and then how would we heat soft drinks in the oven?

When Max went to put something in his centrifuge, I snuck a peek at the piece of brain he was messing with. Nothing all that interesting. I poked it and it jumped. Curious, I poked it again and it opened a mouth, baring fangs at me. Obviously, I was perplexed. I had to know more, but before I could poke it a third time, it jumped at me and began to chew my collar. Stumbling back and swiping at it, I hit the latch on the freezer. Out stumbled a zombie.

Whew, never have I been so glad to see a zombie. If anyone could help me fend off an attacking brain, it would be a zombie. The carnivorous brain stopped and sniffed at the air, which I consider quite the accomplishment for a cortex. The zombie shambled for me, releasing a moan, but was cut off as the brain practically flew at it, biting into the pale flesh of the zombie.

Relieved, I kicked the zombie back into the freezer and shut the door. When I turned around, I found Doc and Max just looking at me, arms crossed. “You done screwing around?” Max asked me.

Before I could answer, the news caught all of our attention, “Bennett Long, owner of the Long Life Corporation, has expanded on his statement about working to clean up Kingscrow of supercrime with a $500,000 bounty on noted supervillain The Good Doctor, who reportedly attacked him in his office before being fended off by Long Life’s new Peace Enforcement Teams.”

I looked at the Doctor, who knew what I was thinking if the knife he palmed was any indication. Max stepped between us, hands up. I noted the wrist sprayers under his sleeves. “Knock it off, Gecko.”

“Good idea.”

“It would be imprudent to try, Gecko,” came from Doc.

“Cut it out, Doctor,” said Max, still trying to keep the peace.

“Lungs, liver, or lymph nodes?”

“None of the above. If you, EITHER of you, start anything in here, I’ll dose you. The moment you take off those masks, you’ll be paralyzed or worse. So here is what we are going to do. We’re going to sit down and I would like to hear why the richest man in the city wants our Good Doctor. Then, you two leave through separate doors.”

Reluctantly, we backed off, Doc and I standing on opposite sides of the room. “Sit,” commanded Max. Keeping our eyes on each other, we sank into chairs.

The Good Doctor spoke: “You know I kill people for their organs and sell them, but what you didn’t know is that I had an employer. Bennett Long, the city’s benefactor, has been paying me to provide organs for research and transplant purposes. If you were wealthy, secretive, and well-connected, Ben could get you what you needed to live. For more, he could even get you the organ of someone with powers. That an organ transplant was incapable of transferring special abilities meant nothing. It was something of a status symbol, in their sick way. There are heiresses and aristocrats walking around with organs stolen from men and women who risked their lives or notorious crime figures. They were stolen by me for a man who used to be my friend. At least until he turned on me last night and attempted to liquidate me.”

“Ben and I knew each other from college and medical school, my aspirations aided by the gift I discovered in those days. At that time, he was unaware of my abilities. He dropped out of medical school, but found a way to get into the medical profession with Long Life and offered me a job at one of his private clinics. I chose to work in a hospital he sponsored instead. “

“I met the love of my life due to that friendship. She had secrets in her past that she never let me in on, but her relationship with Ben was not one of them. Ben had moved on and gotten married, so it didn’t appear to affect our friendship. It is unfortunate that Alice proved to be the impetus of so many unfortunate events as well. Her pregnancy was troubled from the start, but I didn’t expect anything would put her into labor prematurely. I acted then and there at home, but I lost her. Our daughter, Aneta, was saved, but needed more time to develop.”

“The police found drugs in Alice’s system. I never knew her to be an addict. They were hospital-grade pharmaceuticals and sedatives, so I came under suspicion and they were going to take my daughter from me, but Ben stepped in for me. He hushed things up and supposedly his company’s testing threw their results into question. He even covered Aneta’s care at no immediate cost to me. I later found out his price was to help him in this new endeavor, organ acquisition from those who were doomed to those who could help fund more hospitals and outreach clinics. I thought he was taking a risk by covering up Alice’s test results. Later, he held them over my head to force me to continue. He made a killer of me. I tried to balance this with caring for Aneta, but she found one of my scalpels and began to notice things. I thought that if I sent her off early enough, she would never even suspect what I had become. I sent her to my best friend, that damn traitor!”

“Last night, he told me he was planning to take a more active role in the city’s and state’s politics. He needed to clear skeletons out of closets and then he called in his men. I had to fight my way out. He’s got everything to make it look like I was drugging my wife, he knows all about my role as his damn assassin, and he’s been raising my daughter for 13 years. I have money saved, but not what he’s offering. Is there anything I can say to convince you two to help me fight him rather than turn me in?”

“You had me at ‘turned on me last night and tried to liquidate me,’” I told him. Let’s be smart about this. The guy already broke his deal with his former friend, the Doc. What are the odds he’ll pay me that kind of money?



A New Boss in Kingscrow 2

Imagine, if you will, a visitor enters the Pyramid of Geezer Retirement Community, heels clicking on the linoleum. The staff is notified and look with some disapproval as the visitor is shown to the room of one of their guests, Mr. Adontes.

This visitor slouches in the chair, legs wide, and slips his hand into the waistband of his skirt. “Ahhh,” I said, kicking off my shoes, “Feels good to get out of those damn heels. You know they were invented by a legless cobbler who hated women, don’t you Mr. Adontes?”

Mr. Adontes, a wrinkly man in his 80s, looked me over from blonde hair bun to the hose on my legs, “Call me Joe. Nice disguise.”

“Thanks,” I said, adjusting the thick black-framed sunglasses on my face, “I’ve always been good at incognito. So, have you thought more about what you’d like to do?”

“I don’t care. I just want some excitement here. I’m 85 and my kids don’t visit. I don’t know anything about my grandkids now. If it kills me, it kills me. I’d rather go out swinging,” he said, putting his fists up at the end like a boxer.

I grinned, “I had an idea ready if that was the case. The Make a Deathwish Foundation prides itself on improvisational ability. The car’s waiting outside. Not my normal one, a disposable one. If anyone asks, I’m kidnapping you.”

He got up and grabbed his cane, “Alright, but I hope you put on some underwear first. I’m not going to die in a car with a transvestite whose balls are showing.”

It was 45 minutes later when we pulled up to the bank. I was once again dressed normally, complete with my trench coat. To the rest of the world, I was just a man helping his elderly grandfather into the bank. Inside the bank, I had to go get some water while Joe stood in the short line.

He passed a note to the teller, who gave the security guards a look. She hit the silent alarm as she began to fill a bag with cash in an attempt to comply in the short term. I let the guards get more bunched up before pulling the double barrel AK from beneath my coat. I hear the designer got dead drunk when he came up with the schematics. Then again, that was probably true of every AK-model gun designer and most users.

“Back off, fellas. Grandpa’s got a brand new bag. Full of cash,” I told them. Joe nodded and smiled as he grabbed the bag, making a very slow run for the door. I met him at the door and took the bag from him, dumping the gun into his hands, “Here, hold this, I should count-“ The gun dropped to the floor and began to fire wildly. The tellers, guards, and civilians all dropped to the ground as it mostly fired into the air.

I grabbed Joe and ran for it. “Why’d you do that?” he asked.

“Needed to cover our escape. Don’t worry, it’s on autopilot,” I said as I dropped him off in the Crown Victoria with a flame paint job. I slid into the driver’s seat and gunned it as a cop car sped to the bank just behind me.

They followed as I accelerated, Joe fumbling for his seatbelt beside me. I held back just enough for us to get more police after us. I also lit up a joint in my mouth, gave it a couple puffs, then passed it over to Joe, “Anyone asks, it’s for glaucoma.”

Just when I went to escalate our little chase, I got stuck behind a little old lady, with a semi in the lane to our right. “Joe, drop your pants.” Old guy was fast on the draw. I grabbed one of my homemade grenades out of the cup holder and rolled the passenger window down before swerving into oncoming traffic. When granny looked over, she saw Joe’s wrinkly old ass staring back at her. Then he sat down and she got a grenade tossed in her window by yours truly. When it exploded, it was with brown smoke and the smell of methane and sulfur. Granny hit the curb with a screwed up look on her face.

Joe shot the old bird the bird.

I stayed in the oncoming lanes, holding my hand out the window to flip off every driver passing on my side. “Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you, motherfuck you, you’re cool, fuck you…”

On the passenger side, Joe was getting in on the act, waving his cane at the people and calling them maniacs, at least until we were beside this one convertible momentarily. He turned and smiled at the pretty blonde driving and I could make out something to the extent of “Hey pretty mama, want to be the last thing I see before I die?”

As we hit the cathedral roundabout, with its big, stupid modern art of fries all slumping around in the middle the sidewalk island, I turned to Joe, “You hungry?”

“Yeah, a little,” he said, buckling his belt. I swerved off the side in the wrong direction and knocked a hot dog stand with the car, snatching a dog out of it. I held it out for Joe.

“You got any mustard?” I skidded around, a cop car missing me on either side, and made for the stand again. The owner had just picked it up when I snatched the mustard squeezy out of his hand. He ran after me but I shot some into his face, then handed it over to Joe.

I took a turn off the roundabout and swerved to face the roundabout again.

“Joe, how do you feel about abstract art?”

“I’m not a fan.”

“I generally take it case by case. It’s almost time for us to part ways, but let’s end this with a bang.”

I put the pedal to the metal and aimed right for the French fry art. A trio of police cars barred the road at the roundabout. “You see the little round button, Joe?”

“Uh huh,” he said, looking at the stick with the red button on the end between us.

“Push the little red button.”

He did, causing the trunk to burst off and revealing a pair of oversized versions of my rockets welded to the rear of the car, with a sack of dynamite strung up between them. I turned on the hydraulics and we had liftoff. I saw Joe grip the dashboard, yelling like an excited kid. I was almost disappointed to punch the center of the steering wheel, which blew the top off and then shot us both out and away from the other on separate ejection seats.

Joe had wanted an exciting day where he might die. At 85, it’s not like they can lock him up. I don’t think he was altogether disappointed though as the explosion lifted us both up and away from each other. He shot me a thumbs up, the money bag held in his lap, laughing.

His kids are going to be so pissed when they find out where their inheritance money went.

Imagine, if you will, later that night at a strip club called Tit & Tat. I sit down at my table and begin to munch on some food that only arrived while I was up at the stage. Three large men approach, each with varying fat-to-muscle ratios. The head one, a black guy with closely shaved hair, folds his arms and tells me, “Sir, I’m going to have to ask you to leave. We’re here to escort you out.”

“I know I got a bit rowdy up there, but I didn’t think it was that bad,” I said between picking the spicy meat off my snack.

“Sir, the stage is not a dance floor for you to join the women.”

“Momentary lapse in judgment.”

“We say you enter the bathroom and then leave it dressed in assless chaps and a g-string.”

“How do you guys dress for a club?”

“Not in the women’s restroom, for one thing.”

“Oh come on, I just got my buffalo wings, guys. At least let me get something to pick the bones out of my teeth.”

“Sir, those are cheese fries.”

“…You know, in that case, I feel like going anyway. First, I would like to meet your chef and hit him on the head with a pan.”

So it was that three spoilsports carried me to the door and dumped me out on the parking lot. I stood up and faced down the bouncers, who covered the entrance well. Fists the size of small hams be damned, I just realized I’d left my baby oil in there!

“Ahem,” came a voice from the side. There stood a man in a black leather surgeon’s outfit. Good Doctor.

“One moment, business meeting,” I said, and turned to jog over to the Doctor. Behind me, the bouncers bugged out and ran inside. The door’s lock clicked soon after.

“What’s up, Doc?” I asked Good Doctor.

“I would normally shudder to think such a thing was possible, Psycho, but I need your help.”




A New Boss in Kingscrow 1

Gecko here. Got my car out of storage for the road trip. Big black beauty of a car sold as the 1951 Hudson Hornet. A very deep black, with my favorite orange coloring running in lines on the grill, the edge of the windows and windshield, and the bumper. I call it Black Sunshine. There’s a very basic unit in the trunk for replicating my nanites, so I’m ok for now. Goodbye Empyreal City.

I thought I had a job lined up in New Hampshire. Some tropical dictator’s son was messed with by a girl with powers. Something about involuntary sex change, so I can see why he’d be upset. Instead, he told me he was going to go another route, something that involved less revenge and more abusing his only son by disowning him unless he marries and bangs whoever the dad picks out for him.

New Hampshire, man. What a fucked up place.

So now I’m in Kingscrow. I’ve got people here. Not friends, not exactly. I think the only reason we hang out with each other is because we are fairly safe around each other. Oh, and we’re somewhat social outcasts on our side of the law.

I pull up some ways from a spot I remember as catering to my ilk. That’s right, I have ilk. Ilk that are catered to. There’s always at least one establishment like that in any major city. In Empyreal, it’s Rothstein’s Sports Bar. In Memphis, it’s the Back Alley Beale Street Voodoo Bar. In Paradise City, there’s the Saenger Café. Here, we have the Low Earthy Bar.

Despite the rain plopping on my windshield, I drove around the corner by the bar. I am not good at parallel parking, and this looked like a tight squeeze. Pulled up next to the forward car, adjusted my side view mirror, and flipped a switch to turn on a rear monitor, and got my rear lined. Then I settled my grip at the standard ten and two and pressed a different button with each hand. The front of my side-view opens and a blue blast blazed at the car in front of the spot I wanted. The car rocked forward as the chassis was dented and scorched. Behind me, the license plate, “CTUL US16”, dropped down and the barrels of a minigun popped out and rotated. The rounds peppered the rear car with holes likewise pushed it back.

In the end, I had plenty of room after all. I did readjust the side-view mirror to the correct spot as I left. It gave me the helpful warning, “Objects in mirror are behind you.”

Tell me if you’ve heard this one. Psycho Gecko walks into bar. The Low Earthy Bar is downstairs below a hippy pottery place. Sister Moonflower Rockefeller was tending the bar when I walked in.

I sidled up to the bar. Which is totally a form of movement I know how to do. Sidling. All the cool kids are doing it these days. “Hey there, Sister. Is Doc or Max in?”

She pulled a dread out of the way and gazed at me from over her glasses for a second before telling me, “Distractions lay between you and your goal. You may yet find what you seek once you learn to look past them all.”

“Thanks, Sissy Poo,” I told her, then slid a gold knick-knack from some Vatican drapery into the clay tip jar nearby. Turning towards the rear of the bar, past the dance floor, I saw Mix N’ Max. A pale goth with long brown hair and a burgundy coat and a ruffled white shirt on. He shared his booth with a pair of girls. One was dressed more his style with purple hair and black clothes on, but the other was more conventionally casual.

As I got close, I heard her insistently ask, “When are you going to get out of this place and go have some fun, Max?”

“You can check out any time you want, but you can never leave,” I said, pulling out the chair on the unboothed part of the table. She looked alarmed and pouty at the same time. The goth girl tensed.

Max just kept on grinning that black lipstick grin of his and leaned forward, “Why Gecko, the Doctor is going to be so happy to see you. What brings you to our dismal playground?”

“Change of scenery. I love dark and stormy nights. Perfect time to put on a hockey mask and go for a jog,” I replied. A doctor’s bag dropped onto the table in front of me with a soft glopping sound. I looked over my shoulder to see a man dressed in black leather surgeon’s scrubs and a helmet in the shape of the whole surgical mask and cap and a clear visor over the eyes, “I see a thunderstorm a day doesn’t keep the Doctor away.”

“Bollocks,” he said, and sat on the very end of the booth on the goth girl’s side.

“Spleen?” asked Max.

“Kidneys,” said Good Doctor, pulling out some cash and passing it over to Max.

“He bet he’d guess wrong?” I queried, poking the Doctor’s bag.

“He bet you died.”

“No, I took your bet that he didn’t.”

“Are we going soon?” That was from the casual girl to the goth girl.

“I think so,” the goth said, staring past us. It was growing kind of loud in that direction.

A furry hand with long claws slammed onto the table next to me. I looked up to see Starnose the Mole. Catching something in my peripheral vision, I turned to see a dusk colored lizard man with frilled ears and a mouth of fangs, dressed in a leather loincloth and chest straps, standing on the other side of me. They were both looking at Max. The Doctor stared up at the lizard man and I noticed him slide one of his surgical knives from his sleeve. The lizard man was too busy calling out Max, “The stuff you sold us stopped working after the first hit! You cheated us.”

Max leaned back without losing his smile and put his arms around the two girls on either side of him, “You changed the deal and only paid me half. Ladies, don’t be afraid, that’s just Rupt.”

Starnose’s claw slammed into the table again as a much a fist as he could make it. He spoke in a nasally voice, “You screwed up, Max. Your little junkie hos are going to have to carry you to the hospital after we break your legs.” The Doctor was quick to his feet, so I made my move as well. I grabbed the furry wrist on the table as I stood and yanked the arm behind Starnose, twisting it around into the middle of his back and upward in a standing hammerlock. He tried to spin to the side, but I hooked my other arm around his throat. Then he went to lift me up by ducking forward. I released the hook and punched him where the spine met the skull. While he was reeling from that, I hooked his throat again and straightened him up.

On the other side of my former seat, the Good Doctor struck quickly with his knife, finding weak points in Rupt’s scaled hide using his X-ray vision. Rupt had dropped down to his knees in pain, even though the wounds looked superficial. Max had reached into his coat at this point and pulled out a small clear packet of a powdery substance that was indigo in color. He asked us, “Doc, Gex, you two good?”

“Yes, these loathsome riff raff deserve it.”

“Yepperdy depperdy.”

Max poured the indigo powder into his hand and blew it over Starnose and Rupt. A coughing fit hit them as I let Starnose go, stepping back and dropping the holographic illusion I had projected from my armor of being out of my armor. “You don’t use the armor that hides on you and then comes together anymore?” asked the Good Doctor.

“Nah, this is just easier,” I said. That’s when Starnose and Rupt stood again.

“Aww man,” Starnose said as he looked over Rupt, “You’re a rubber duck!”

“I’m a rubber duck? You’re a rubber duck!” Rupt told Starnose.
“Come on, man, let’s go find a bath tub,” Starnose said as he and Rupt waddled out of the room.

“Behold the Dark Triad!” hammed up Mix N’ Max, arms outstretched to indicate the Doc and I in the little informal group someone had named us. “No one messes people up like we do!”