Category Archives: 108. Oh Brother

One-hundred, eight. Oh Brother. Our villain once again finds herself crossing path with her world’s Justice Rangers. It might be time for some chickens to come home to roost, but at least it probably won’t involve her ex.

Oh Brother 6



Still blind. They’ve been real careful about healing me up, taking awhile. Gave me some drugs for pain, so at least I don’t lay around feeling my muscles be red, hot, sore jelly. But they haven’t given me access to tools to repair my cybernetic eyes. Maybe it’s a sign of how far I’ve come that I didn’t jump up and go into a murderous rage over not getting those repair tools. That might have been the wrong impulse, depending on how the whole situation might have gone.

Davilo stopped by at some point to see me and internally wrestle with the realization that he’s the half-brother of a notorious mass-murdering serial killer who tried to destroy the planet. He didn’t say anything, I just spied on him through electronic means. I let him have the space.

Shona did too. All that effort to make sure Mirator didn’t get in using my powerset, only to find out the person who killed Mirator was the OG Psycho Gecko. Might undermine her judgment a bit, and there’s potentially a lot of hell to pay for not turning me over to everybody.

She interrupted the silence to finally ask, “How are you feeling?”

I waved a hand mostly parallel to the ground, “Meh.” I reached around for a cup of water for a sip. “Davilo seems conflicted.”

“Heh, yeah. He’s not the only one. General Lulios is trying to change some minds about what happened to make you the person you are… He didn’t mention you were a woman now.”

“Much of my life hasn’t been conducive to healthy development, so I didn’t put a lot of clues together about this until embarrassingly late. What happened to that doctor?” I asked. Really, my mind was elsewhere. I had equipment to get loaded up onto the Dimension Bombs. Plus there’s a Steam sale on now. That part’s actually kind of annoying, because I didn’t want to spend more money on games. But it would be nice to get that spaceship imposter game…

She shifted around a bit and leaned on the wall. “Dr. Varsia is locked up. He’ll be getting charged with what he did, hopefully with the victim’s name sealed. With any luck, he’ll face justice for what he tried to do.”

“Justice…” I said. “I’m not used to it. I guess I wouldn’t be free either if people were good enough at it. I’ve had to tamp down on my desire to jump up and hunt him down. If y’all are going to try and hold him accountable, maybe it’s time to lay off and let it happen. Like, even my new home isn’t that good at it, but there’s someone there who thinks people can change and I almost feel like I owe her that.”

“You have boobs new,” Shona noted. I laughed a little. “I don’t know what to do with you. You think you deserve to be locked up?”

“No matter what I think, I certainly don’t want it.” I smiled, though that faded. “I hurt a lot of people. There’s a reason that guy felt justified doing what he did to me. Don’t know what it says about y’all that you helped me. Part of me wants to call you a bunch of dumbasses.”

Shona walked closer. “Some of these Earth Prime people talk about ‘rehabilitative justice.’ I don’t know what that’s about. It feels like the world’s breaking down on the axis of all its injustices. We keep hurting each other because we hurt each other in the past, and justify new hurt in the future.”

“Yeah, the cycle,” I said. “Thought awhile back maybe it’d be nice to end that.”

“You should cause a lot of people to hope. You changed,” Shona leaned over the bed. “You’ve changed physically and you’re trying to break the cycle of revenge. You’re willing to trust us Rangers now and fight to help us. You even wore the costume.”

“I oughta kill you for saying that, you goose-licking son of a goat-fucking turkey fister!” I yelled, waving my hand around.

She grabbed my hand and held it to her throat. Am I sensing some sexual tension here, or is that just me being horny? “Go ahead. I’m right here,” she said. She’s a bold one, that’s for sure. No wonder she leads her own team. She wasn’t entirely right about me, either. I built a couple of Dimension Bombs that could get me out of here if they decided to finish the job or hand me over to the law. Justice is a nice concept, but I’d still rather not face it. But I figured there was no harm in indulging this Ranger this time. I lowered my hand from her throat.

“Hmm…”she mused afterward, standing up away from me. “Maybe it’s not too late for you.” Something about those words reminded me of a teacher long ago whose ideas on redemption shook me. Scared me a bit, if I’m being honest. I haven’t always been, dear readers. I’m supposed to be the best badass in the world. To be educational for a moment, the right word in the right place can be way more powerful than a boot to the crotch. And I guess hope is, too.

I think that’s what it is. You get so used to being dragged down and only seeing the worst of things that you get comfortable there. You think you know how the world works. You can do whatever you want to people and know for a fact that you’re right. Even the fact that you’re able to get away with it just proves you’re right. Then someone dangles that fucking hope in front of you. It’s every con artist’s favorite bait, and a powerful weapon in the right hands. Hope can break a fanatic.

Hopefully, that rant is over for now.

Davilo still stopped by some, but we didn’t end up talking before the alarms went off again. Or Leah, which is odd and led me to figure they must have been restricting access to me. Which, I realized, might be why I’d been attended to mostly by machines and computers. Let the robots heal me up and monitor me nice and slow so there’s a reason to keep me isolated from people I might hurt, or who might try to hurt me. Which is another way of saying “who I might hurt,” despite my mercy toward my assailant this once. Not a bad plan while they figure out how to handle me. At least until the alarms hit.

I’d heard plenty of alarms hanging out with this bunch, but it wasn’t until I heard lots of shaking, screaming, and people being rushed into the infirmary that I bothered to investigate this one incident. There were enough cameras and unsecured digital devices to pick my way out past people, but it got a bit chaotic at times and supplemented that with guiding myself with walls. People didn’t seem to bother with me, even as I pulled on some pants. At least they did my laundry.

I found my way to a chaotic command center at one point, where an entire wall aired the ranting visage of Carriox. The winged leader of this bunch of villains declared, “Soon, I will destroy their command center. With the Rangers destroyed, no one can stop me. People of Earth, you have no hope. No savior is coming to save me. I will mine your world, use you for labor, and sell the meat when you fall from overwork. I will pick. Earth. Clean!” And he cut the video, because it’s awkward to stick around after that kind of line and start laying out your 12-point management plan.

There were staff there doing their jobs, including someone who wheeled in a cart full of rifles that they started passing out. I approached, though he declined to offer me one. “Hey, what’s this about destroyed Rangers? What happened?”

“Shit, you’re up. Carriox destroyed the transformers and the keys we used to unlock their powers. They’re trying to find a replacement power, but Carriox is attacking now,” he told me.

“Awfully forthcoming with that,” I noted.

I watched through a corner-mounted camera as he shrugged. “We’re already fucked no matter what you do or know. We’ll never hold him off long enough for them to return, and if he destroys the command center, they can’t port back.”

Hmm. I was having some really disturbing thoughts around that time. Conscience-y thoughts. A bunch of nonsense about second chances and living up to them. Invasive little buggers about these humans having pretty good reasons to want me dead and not doing so.

“They’re outside!” someone called.

The guy I’d been talking to told me, “We’re going to seal off every section, so you better decide where you want to be.”

I nodded and headed out of the main command room and toward the entrance. That room’s entrance closed off and I heard large locks shift into place. The rest of the command center wasn’t built as defensibly and the main entrance was being pried apart. The prying was being done by this quartet of large, bent-over crab guys who looked like they could have been monsters of the week on their own.

“Hello!” I called out. I waved and walked toward the opening.

“I recognize you. You fought two of my men!” Carriox announced. He sat on a throne held aloft by Lab Rats. He had a huge crowd of them packed in around the carrier. There were hundreds of the Lab Rat minions. They were squeaky enough, I didn’t need hijacked cameras. Looked like there was a little bit of an entourage there, including a rotund catfish-man and a bug-man with a long, pointy, tube-like nose like if a mosquito was a coke addict.

I clasped my hands together. “Aww, you remembered me! Nothing personal, just one of them attacked me and the other was pretending to be me. Which… I guess is personal after all.”

“I will feel your bones snap and mount your skull in a pike,” he boasted.

I shrugged. “You could do that, or you could win. It’s really up to you. But I just want to take a moment and offer you a chance to walk away. I get it, humans are terrible and the Rangers can be insufferable. They look ridiculous, they pose like models instead of fighters, and they have bad morning breath.”

“What?” asked the bug-man.

“What, huh?” I asked the questioning monster. “I didn’t say anything that made this weird. You did. That was you. Um. Anyway, I don’t know what they’ve done that’s made you so mad at them, and I’m really not in a place to say you must forgive them for it. But this bunch seem to be decent for Rangers, and some of these humans can surprise you in a good way, if only you give them the chance.”

The monsters all looked at each other. Even the Lab Rats stopped their incessant squeaking to look around and then stare at me. The catfish-man started laughing before explaining. “All they did was stand in the way of us cracking this planet open and selling off the guts.”

“Ah, so y’all aren’t likely to stop,” I said. “That’s unfortunate.” And it turns this into a moral problem for me.

“She’s shaking!” Bug-man yelled, pantomiming shaking knees.

“Unfortunate for you,” I informed them. “I’m retired from genocide.”

The Dimension Bomb appeared in front of the door. The four crab monsters warped and melted in the wake of an oncoming dimensional breach that threw up dust and dirt. I walked out of the cloud, arms behind my back and said, “One last chance.”

“Never!” the fat catfish said, pulling out a bearded axe with catfish whisker engravings on the flat of the blade.

“As you wish,” I said, bending over and holding my hands out in the Freeza stance I’ve taken to using sometimes. A tendril of nanite goo and metal wrapped around my waist and pulled me back into the cloud. And into the armor I brought along with the spare D-Bomb originally intended to be my ride out of here.

My armor looks fairly form-fitting, but there’s a shitload of padding and veins of nanomachines. My heavier armor would be more effective, but I’m going to be plenty effective as is. My cloak, more nanites, reformed briefly into a back pair of jagged metal legs like a centaur, then into a tail, then into a pair of wings.

“Fire!” Carriox ordered. All of the Lab Rats pulled out grungy pipeguns. I formed the nanomachines into an atomic-sized blade that I stabbed into the middle of the crowd as they shot at me. The Rats who happened to be in the way fell. The others shot at me to no effect. Bug-man jumped into the air and stayed there, hovering on two pairs of see-through wings. Catfish guy threw himself onto his belly, bouncing once before hugging the ground. Then a surge of nanites allowed me to split the blade in two and sweep them to either side. All the Lab Rats fell, thrashing before going still. I pulled back my nanites and gave the survivors a chance to rethink their lives and deaths.

Catfish stood up while Bug landed next to him. Carriox growled from atop his throne. “Inconvenient. Gulper, Sucker, remove this speedbump.”

“Uh… you sure you don’t want another army of Lab Rats to do it?” asked the catfish, who I guessed was Gulper. The bug I assumed was Sucker spread his hands, a simple spear appearing in his hands. He held out one pointed end and I saw it was a hollow spear with the points being sharpened edges around the hollow center, like a straw of death. Sucker charged, screaming like a kid on coffee.

I grabbed spearstraw near the end. He slid it back out of my grasp, then quickly thrust it at my belly. My HUD warned of partial penetration, meaning it didn’t go all the way through to me.

Gulper tried to come around me, axe ready overhead for a downward swing. My nanites grabbed the weapon by its handle and held it long enough for me to turn an punch him in the face. I pulled Gulper toward me while Sucker tried for another stabbing. I was hoping Sucker might pop the big fish, but he turned his spear away and the pair crashed together without drawing blood on one another.

The pair turned to me, Gulper roaring. Suddenly fins on his elbows and the top of his head stood up. He threw spines at me, also fucking up the how catfish work. Unlike the pipeguns or even the spearstraw, these went full penetration. Nanomachines already poured into the wounds on my armor and body to close things up and repair damage Sucker jumped forward, aiming his spearstraw at my face. I rolled under it and came up behind him, kicking back with both legs and sending him stumbling. I had to throw myself to the side to avoid an axe and came up with my nanites forming a tail that I stabbed toward Gulper. He held up his axe, eyes going wide as my tail dissolved the metal.

“No!” Carriox roared. Above, five streaks of colored light shot through the sky and toward the command center. Sucker tried sneaking up behind me and wrapped his arms around mine. Gulper dropped the handle of his axe and slashed at my armor with his spines. Carriox called out, “Finish her, then we press the attack.” He might have felt desperate hearing the sudden cheers that went up from inside the building.

Heh. I admit, the thought of what Carriox would next get to deal with amused me a little bit.

See, in all this time, none of them had bothered with the cone-shaped device that had arrived with my armor in what had become a shallow crater a couple inches deep. Sucker at least should have wondered why my tail wasn’t making death sausage out of his intestines. That’s because I figured now was a good time to reach out and grab the small D-Bomb. I pulled it close, knocking Sucker back just a bit. I kicked back Gulper just enough, just to make sure the range was correct, and I activated the D-Bomb.

Traversing universes is more mind-bending than the grid-like patterns of Justice Ranger teleportation. It’s like you’ve expanded out from a galaxy and then every galaxy and everything else to see multiple copies of the universe all reaching out and splitting off. First Earth’s had become entangled with Earth Prime thanks to all my meddling, and soon I spilled out into the workyard behind my shop, along with half of Sucker and an important third of Gulper. I left Carriox behind. Just him, a pile of dead minions, and chunks of his dead subordinates versus a team of Justice Rangers with a new set of powers.

As I understood it when I finally got an answer back from my ex and her group of vigilantes, Carriox ended in an explosion that took out the remains of his fleet. I didn’t get back to her when she texted, “Ur bro wants 2 no if its k 2 visit.”

I left the message unanswered while I had a small feast with my daughter, who was so excited to have me back, she asked if I could make my original self look like a kitty too.




Oh Brother 5



It’s been so long since I’ve been to a real doctor, let alone a First Earth doctor, that I’d forgotten how lovely the experience is. I don’t know what my breathing and orifices had to do with brain stuff, and when I asked the doctor, he responded with, “I don’t have access to their grid or how it scans people, so I prefer to rely on my own examination. You’ve had significant body modifications done. Stick out your tongue for me.” When I only did the normal amount, he added, “The full length please.” He whistled after seeing the full two and a half feet of it.

“I don’t know where you put it,” he noted. He checked my breathing, reflexes, coughing, all that. Only when he was done with that did they wheel me over to the brain doctors. And after all that, I was told I had to wait a couple days for results. Of course.

Well, good, it gave me time to work on Thanksgiving plans. The guest list is myself and my daughter. The fowl are purchased and sufficiently thawing. The good thing about living in a town full of supers is I didn’t cause problems walking around with the body that’s a catgirl with bright pink fur in places. There goes Psycho Gecko, scourge of two dimensions, blindingly pretty neko. So things were fine back home. I wish my main body was back there, but things are the way they are.

I even got the shop reopened. Gotta be ready for Black Friday. I’m selling Mostly Harmless Gas Grenades. Low sting, bad smell, and featuring a special anti-fingerprint coating that makes it harder to pick up forensic evidence. Buy two, get a third free! Fun for the whole family! I’d probably face more pushback from the heroes living in town if not for the pandemic. There are a LOT of people prepping to crowd into stores on Black Friday. If inconsiderate people are going to engage in biological warfare, why not counter with some (mostly) harmless chemical warfare in response?

See, this is why my ex thought it was better to get me living in the middle of nowhere, where I can’t corrupt so may people. Hell, can’t even talk Marianne and Adrian into a threesome.

I’ve also been spying on Leah, my former ward. I didn’t ask too many questions once she disappeared from the Master Academy. The heroes never liked our relationship, and I didn’t care much for her crush on me. It all started when Captain Lightning ended up killing a powerful mage while trying to stop him, fueling a little bit of anti-super backlash at the time that seems quaint now. Leah got outed as having powers and kicked out of her house, only to get nabbed by this “hero” who dreamed of making the world a better place. His plan for this involved a drug called Sexahol that invoked feelings of love and sexual arousal in everyone affected by it. He tried offering Leah as a bribe, one I didn’t take before kicking his ass and clearing up the attempted hippie love fest. In the aftermath, I started looking after Leah until she eventually wound up with the Master Academy, a school for young supers.

I’m a lot of things: a lover, a fighter, a teacher of great philosophical truths. But while I taught her how to fight, I did not embrace her crush on me. I’m a motherfucker, but I’m not a kid fucker. I have issues about that kind of thing thanks to my own upbringing.

I was just heading out to spy on her when the doctor from earlier stopped me. “Hey there, Delilah. I’m glad I caught you before you got too busy. I have something I would like to try on you, to help explore the extent of the condition’s effects on your memory.”

I mean… if Leah’s banging my brother, it’s not like there’s going to be a drastic change in her circumstances that warrants me spying on them tonight. I could stand to see to my own mental health.

So I did. I took the doctor up on his offer and soon found myself strapped onto a table and having a helmet fixed onto my head. “Hey doc, is this supposed to squeeze my brain like this?”

“I took your skull measurements in the earlier exam and adjusted the size as needed. It’s supposed to be snug so it can get a proper read. You didn’t say anything in your medical history about a history of claustrophobia.”

“I’m not afraid of Claus. I’ll fight him anywhere, anytime! Also, I’m cool with tight spaces. I recently spent a bit of time traveling in a coffin,” I informed him.

“Good,” he said messing around with a few things. I couldn’t see much outside the helmet, but it felt like he was touching the helmet, maybe attaching things. “It’s important to have an accurate medical history. The nanomachines are wonderful healing devices, but it can be hard to know a person’s history without scars to tell us.”

“Hey doc, anyone ever tell you how good you are at monologuing?” I asked. Darn thing did something fuzzy to my internet and bluetooth signals. There was something a tiny bit uncomfortable about it, but just because it felt like this guy was beating around the bush about something. I don’t have any room to talk there, but I think that’s what set me ill at ease. I enjoy the joy of knowing more than someone I’m about to doom.

“Thank you, I’ll take that as a compliment. It must seem so unfair, too. Science allows you to live without your body being a living memory, and now science is causing your memory to fail,” Something big got shoved into the top of the helmet, accompanied by a stab of pain. I gritted my teeth and tried to move my head, but my neck was also strapped down. I strained and the straps held tight. He really had adjusted everything based on the earlier exam. I whipped out my tongue, trying to arch it over on top of me onto whatever had stabbed into my head and felt something grab it in a steel grip. While that held it, something else clamped down lower, near my mouth, and kept clamping until pain bit into my tongue and most of that meaty mouth muscle was removed. I tried to scream but something white hot was shoved against my mouth, instantly scorching some of my skin as well as cauterizing the stump of my tongue. I even tried the laser eyes, which instead destroyed my eyes. Mirrors, I figured out later.

The doctor gave me time to come to terms with all of this pain before I heard his voice close to my ear. “You wouldn’t remember me anyway, and the nanomachines long ago removed the scars from that fateful day when you attacked my home and killed my first wife. You can pretend to be a girl all you want, but the DNA tells me who you are. Brace yourself. I’m about to put my pain into your soul.”

Something in the spike of pain running into my head jolted me. My teeth ground together. My muscles tensed and tried to flex themselves apart. My HUD’s clock started flashing 12:00. The electroshock went on so long, I began to wonder if he was trying to turn me straight. At one point, he let off long enough for me to see if I was done frying and I doublechecked my sexuality. David Bowie, hot. Felicia Day, hotter. Yep, still bisexual with a preference for women.

“Still alive, Psycho Gecko?” asked my torturer.

“You realize, of course, that this means war,” I told him, really wishing I hadn’t pissed myself during all that.

“Let’s see how you like this,” he said. There was another jolt, but this one only lasted a moment. Then flames roared up around me. My body lagged behind in appearing and feeling pain, which is how I reckoned this was a simulation of sorts. He’d simulated dumping me in unending fire that crackled and popped as it curled skin that never stopped feeling. I couldn’t die, just feel endless pain as it went on and on.

I admit, it got a bit boring after awhile. It didn’t have the same physical effects as the electricity. My body was fake. It changed soon after realizing I was getting used to it. I went from being on fire to falling through an immense cityscape. The street was perpetually below me. Buildings shifted for me to slam into long enough to feel the impact. They would then disappear and I would continue falling as if nothing had arrested me.

I was burned, slammed, frozen, steamed, shredded, crushed, stabbed, and put into a giant blender. I don’t know how long the torture lasted. I just know when another jolt brought me back to reality and I felt whatever he’s jabbed into my brain pull out.

“You don’t understand who that is!” I heard him cry out. “That bitch is Psycho Gecko!”

“Easy,” someone close by said. Shona, I think. The straps were being undone. As soon as I could move my hands, I reached up to pull the helmet off. Someone was already helping me with that. My arms felt like jelly. I slid off the table I was on, my eyes still messed up from self-inflicted laser damage. Fell right on my ass. Legs didn’t want to work too well. A bit too shredded from the electrical damage or something.

Everyone else was all arguing and I sat there, trying to get a sense for myself and how much time had elapsed. Twenty-one minutes. I searched for anything to see through and found nothing. I searched for a good lie to tell, too, but I was still a little brain-scrambled. Someone started helping me to my feet. I ended up deposited in the infirmary to be checked over very slowly and carefully by these interesting little robots. Cameras in the room revealed robotic beetles crawling over me, assessing my health and injecting me with nanites.

And while I laid there, I was able to hijack someone’s phone and listen in to Shona talking with regular security staff. “I don’t know. If she is, she helped us rather than try to kill us. She’s had every chance.”

“You weren’t like this when she first got here. When did you flip so hard?” the security officer asked.

“That was when I didn’t know who she was and we had Mirator to worry about. She fought for us knowing we could do like what Varsia did.”

Elsewhere, Leah and Davilo were chatting about everything. “No wonder she hates this place!” my former ward yelled. “Don’t tell me you agree with what he did.”

Davilo’s voice was flat. “I don’t know what I think. This is a shitload to take in if it’s even true.”

Trust is a tricky thing. I’m glad I have another pair of Dimension Bombs in the auto-factory back home, ready to extract me. If I can’t trust in them, I’ll trust in weaponry.



Oh Brother 4



I’ve had to be creative about my brother’s questions. It helps that I honestly don’t know some of the answers.

When he asked, “What’s your full name?” I don’t know. Same for age, though we’ve figured out I’m a few years older than him. I know Shona, the Red Leader of the bunch, was lurking around somewhere when we talked about this stuff. This time, she’d come in and started to make this drink she likes using a messy orange powder and water.

“Were you part of the Gecko Rebellion?” he asked.

Heh. Now there’s one I can certainly be honest about. “Yeah,” I told him. “I was a part of that. I was very angry and not in a good place mentally. I wanted revenge, and to just lash out at everything. I’m starting to move past it, and not living on this Earth helps.”

I could almost feel Shona staring. I pretended to brush some hair out of my face and found her in the kitchen area near us, sipping on some juice. My brother, though, pulled out that photo again. “What do you remember about our dad?”

I shook my head. “Not much. A few flashes, maybe, now that you’ve shown me that. The main thing I remember is when they came for us. Shot him, shot mom, pointed those guns right at me.” I raised my voice a bit for Shona’s sake. “Yeah, I was an experiment as a child. Might be a reason I’m averse to Justice Rangers, being kidnapped, and then being held in a cell while people run tests!”

I heard her set her cup down loudly. I didn’t turn to look, figuring she’d storm out. Instead, she walked up to me, so I readied myself for a fight.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “You’re entitled to your anger at me and at the ones who wronged you. I’ve been a bitch to you.”

“Oh…” I said. “I didn’t expect you to actually apologize.”

“I lost loved ones in the Rebellion and I’ve held onto deep suspicions. I’m trying to be better, ever since I found out my mentor, Alyss, was one of you and took part in the Rebellion as well.”

“And you’ve got yourself a homo machina gator,” I commented.

My brother laughed. “I didn’t mean to. I didn’t take part in the Rebellion. I kept my head down and attended university. They made a discovery that allowed them to create their own transformer, and the minions of Carriox attacked. I ended up bonded to it and started training as a Ranger.”

“Did you even know how to fight before becoming a Ranger?” I asked.

He shook his head. “They’re training me.”

I rolled my eyes. Shona looked at me. “I take it you know how?” I nodded, then got an odd question from her. “Have you been having any mental problems?”

After the laughter died down, I wiped the laugh tears away. Shona and my brother were sharing a look. Shona continued on, “What I mean is, have you noticed any memory loss? Every time I’m around you two, you never use his name. You call him ‘you’ or ‘my brother.’ Do you remember it?”

“Psh, yeah, of course I do. What kind of a person would I be to forget my own brother’s name after he told me while I was locked up,” I said. They kept staring at me, so I said, “Davilo.”

“See? No problem,” Davilo said.

I held up a finger. “But if I had noticed any memory issues, what would we be talking about.”

Shona sent a glance Davilo’s way. “Homo Machina are recent enough of a subspecies that we are just now finding out about some medical problems unique to your physiology and abilities. They’re still trying to learn more about it, but some Homo Machina who engage with the infonet and digital systems extensively see a loss of memory. The prevailing theory is that their brains can’t handle the workload and dump long-term memory storage to compensate, but they’re still working on it.”

Now there’s a big hot dump taken on my day. Just drop a steaming load of that for me to consider. Trained assassin or not, they could tell something was up with me.

Shona, for her part, tried to pat me on the shoulder and provide comfort. “I have been unlearning my own hate. The only reason I treated you as I did was because Carriox’s lieutenant, Mirator, can mimic the abilities of past enemies. That includes Psycho Gecko.”

That snapped me out of the funk, mostly by giving me something to concentrate other than the extremely bad news. Never underestimate a good distraction; it’s both an excellent way to kill people and great to avoid killing yourself.

“There’s a fake Psycho Gecko running around?” I asked.

I think they recognized I wanted a distraction. They pulled up the photos for me to see on a wall monitor. “You must have snuck through the portal awhile back not to know these guys,” Shona said.

Carriox was an interesting enough guy on his own. His armor looked like a mix of bronze and slick black feathers, with a pair of large vulture’s wings on his back. His helmet was a metallic vulture’s skull, with his face in the open mouth. It was impossible to make out his eyes behind a visor of teeth, but he had two pair of pointy fangs sticking out. In contrast, Mirator didn’t wear any armor. It was a jagged, assymetrical being of reflective glass. Where parts had been shattered or broken off, the next layer down was just as reflective. He had no eyes or nose, just a shiny set of mirrored chompers. They had a list of other forms he’d used and brought up the Psycho Gecko one.

They looked at me when I snorted. I mean, I could see where it was influenced by me and my armor, but the guy took some creative liberties. The “frown” of my visor was much more exaggerated. The shoulder guards were sharpened as if I was going to stab someone with them. I kinda liked the addition of the metallic skulls that covered the knuckles of the gloves. Probably fucks up range of motion, though. Still, Shona and Davilo were questioning my reaction with their looks. “Well, it’s like Gecko.”

“The Rangers know Psycho Gecko is on Earth Prime and has more advanced armor, but Carriox and Mirator don’t. It’s not an exact match, but he can still turn invisible and use the Psycho’s Assassin Punch.”

Assassin Punch?

“I wonder if it’s the same method of invisibility,” I mused aloud.

“We haven’t been able to test,” Shona said. “Do you know anything useful?”

Once again, another alarm. Everything on the monitor was replaced by a disembodied head, until the person on the other end of the line moved back from their camera. “Rangers, Mirator is attacking the Prime Earth Embassy!”

“We’re on it,” Davilo said.

“Are you up for staying by this monitor if we need your help with Mirator?” Shona asked.

I shrugged, then nodded. They ran out of there. I gave them a minute to watch the flashes of light zip away that were the signature of their teleportation, and ran outside.

It was a world I’d left behind long ago, of huge skyscrapers, nights brighter than days, and deckers hiding in every crevice. It was also still pretty easy to find a map program that could direct me to the Embassy and someone’s car left sitting around carelessly.

The Rangers were already there by the time I arrived, fighting Lab Rats and a monster who began to fill the area with noxious smoke. The Rangers were affected regardless of their helmets and armor, but I kept an eye out for this Mirator guy. I found the Fake Me slinking off. I’d never slink like that. I have a very distinctive slink. Fake Gecko hid behind a bush, watching the events of the fight and holding what looked like a bazooka with a long rifle barrel attached to the front of it. The scope was nearly as large as Fake Me’s head. Maybe that’s why he didn’t see the car coming.

I dove out and rolled to a stop until I was laying on my side like one of those French girls, watching the car flip around and the Fake Me, rolling to a stop after getting clocked by the car. I hopped up to my feet and ignored one of the Rangers calling for me to stop. Fake Gecko was on one knee and caught a hard blow to the head that I think shattered some carpals. It may not be my armor, but it still hurts like armor.

Mirator, pretending to be Psycho Gecko, stood up with a laugh that didn’t sound anything like me and drove his knee into my gut. I doubled over and felt his glove on the back of my head, readying me for a knee to the face. I rolled forward and dropped onto my back. Fake Me was thrown off balance by missing so that when I wrapped my legs around his ankle, he was thrown forward onto the ground. I prepared to laser off one of his legs at the knee, the back of the legs being a weak point on my early armor. Just as I fired, Mirator reverted to his mirrored form. The only reason I didn’t shoot my own eyes out was because the angle of his leg was enough to reflect it up into the sky.

I quickly cut the lasers off and he went back to being Fake Me, turning and kicking me in the jaw. He rolled to his feet and turned to me, putting up his dukes. “Don’t you know who I am, little girl?”

“A pretender,” I said. “Because you’re no Gecko.”

“Do I look like him now?” asked Mirator, disappearing. I reached into my pocket with a smile and pulled out a handful of that orange powder Shona the Red Ranger liked to use for her drink. Messy, I said. It likes to stick to things, like flour. I blew it around and watched as it clung to a form walking toward me. Fake Me stopped to look at his own damn self and that’s when I booted him in the gut. He stumbled back a little and reappeared, looking like he’d taken a dive into a bag of Cheeto’s. He caught my next right punch, and my next left punch, leaving us deadlocked.

“You’re strong. Why are you fighting for them?” Mirator asked.

“I’m not. I’m fighting for me,” I answered, then opened my mouth wide. That newly-added prehensile tongue of mine shot out and wrapped around Fake Gecko’s throat. Then I ignited the laser claws in my hands, cutting into his fists. Say “Bye bye” to those knuckle skulls, cheap imposter.

“No, Master! Use the beam on me, your loyal and valuable Mirator!” he said, shifting back into his mirrored form. He tried shifting us around and using footwork to loosen my grip, but I moved with him, keeping on choking him out. He couldn’t just outright let go of my hands, either, because he was trapped within swiping distance of those claws. When we shifted around, I saw the gas monster was down and not moving, but that big red gigantification light from the sky wasn’t flashing. Instead, it captured Mirator. My tongue was feeling weird and he started to grow, so I pulled it back before it either got too big to hold in my mouth or I was attached tongue-first to a giant monster. I withdrew my claws and ran clear of it. I didn’t want to be within stomping distance.

Davilo, the Red Alligator Ranger, jumped over to check on me. “Are you alirght?”

“Better than he was doing. Go tear the fucker a new fuckhole!”

Davilo nodded and summoned his giant robot to join the rest of his team against the giant Mirator, who was sticking with his own appearance at first. I found a nearby First Aid station just outside the Embassy where I got some nanite gel to work on my broken hand while the Rangers faced off with Mirator. The giant mirror monster tried some entirely new mimickry as a giant monster; appearing as some past giant monsters and even a few giant robots. He gave them some trouble at first, but then they split their robot into two robots and the doubleteam put him down in a big shower of sparks that probably wrecked several city blocks.

But, hey, I was at the embassy. I figured I’d scrounge up something that’d let me walk through all the security back to Earth Prime and that’d be it. I didn’t count on my path being blocked by Leah. I didn’t know the former runaway-turned-my ward-turned-Master Academy student was here. I didn’t know she got hot. I didn’t know she was playing tongue twisters with my half brother either, when he came on down.

I don’t know if she realized it was me Davilo introduced as his sister Delilah, but… maybe I oughta keep an eye on this situation. And check into this memory loss thing. I have time.



Oh Brother 3



I didn’t have to wait long. Shortly after first getting there, even despite the way the Red Leader held things up. I was fed. I wasn’t treated badly. I also couldn’t access anything outside the cell, leaving my spare bodies on their own back home. My daughter’s smart enough to take care of herself, but I’m starting to wonder if this might affect her mental health. She could end up with some issues. I should have a talk with her about that.

Wait, no, I’ve tried to blow up multiple planets and enslave billions thanks in part to my own issues. I better find someone else to have a talk with her about that. And I should do more to see someone about my psychological problems. Probably would if I hadn’t had so many people try to take over that role involuntarily.

Just getting the whole “nothing died” disclaimer out of the way before we go into how I got free. So I’m in my cell, just about to the end of pi, when the alarms go off and I lose my place. Alarms so loud and shrill, I thought my ears were malfunctioning. The flashing red lights cleared that up. Then the lights flickered, the alarm went off, and everything went dark. When the regular lights came on a second later, the clear wall slid away. I stepped out and saw a hallway going left or right with more such cells and a few others leaving theirs. The rest were all a bit unusual looking. Captured Ranger enemies was my guess. At least the place was bright without being overwhelming. Soft white walls and the lights weren’t annoying.

“Who are you?” asked the thing from the next cell over. He was made up of lots of little pieces of things. It took me a moment to realize his body was pieces of plastic trash. Surprised he survived long enough to get captured.

“You can ask me that after we get more than a single step outside this prison. Which side is the exit on?” I asked.

To my right was a thing with a body of sharp crystalline angles of various colors connected by coal. That one was looking off to its right, then back to me. He waved us over his direction. “They say this way!”

“They” were these slimy humanoid rats that ran around hunched over on two legs. I’m guessing those were this bunch’s minions. We soon found ourselves running out and about into the rest of a facility, which at least had some wood walls or different paint. Most of the monsters I was with decided to chase people and destroy things. Whatever, fine, leave them to it. It did occur to me, given my history, that adventures and personal growth has done a hell of a lot to curb my grudge with the Rangers. Really don’t like them, since they’re the kind of dicknozzles to kidnap a person and do a background check for no reason before letting them out of a prison cell.

At the same time, I guess I oughta recognize I’ve given them some reasons to be a bit cautious. Again, the near-destruction of the entire Earth and the deaths of some Rangers at my hands. And that their security precautions still turned out to be too weak to figure out they had me. I move to save anyone. I didn’t move to hurt anyone. I decided just to leave. I’d already woken up my proxies back on Earth Prime

The entrance was big and open, with a whole set of doorways. The Yellow, Red, and White Rangers ran past, looking to deal with the other escapees. More rats ran in after them. Unlike the ones from the cells, these wore tattered lab coats. Oh, lab rats. Showing human-like intelligence, a pair of them decided to attack the random woman walking around. If it isn’t clear, I’m not using that as a compliment.

I held up my hands and tried to give them an out. “Four or five moments. That’s all it takes to be a hero. Everyone thinks it’s a full-time job, but only your lifetime, there are only four or five moments that matter.”

The rats looked at each other, then squeaked loudly and came right at me. The one to my left swiped. I grabbed his arm and used him to lever myself up to dropkick the one on my right. Knocked that one away. The one I was grappled with tried to pull me closer for a bite. I jumped up and headbutted it in its pointy skull. It dropped to a knee. I tossed it up against the secret. It bounced off and landed with a hurt squeak. The other lab rat came at me. I just grabbed it by its lapels and slapped it back and forth a bit. Eight slaps later, I checked on it to see it punch drunk. I pushed it over onto its back and started toward the doors.

I gave it the finger and said, “This is not one of those moments for you.”

The non-brother Red. Red Leader, seeing as she appears to be the actual leader of the group and my half-brother seems to be the newb of the group. He was outside with the Black Ranger, fighting monster whose body looked like rounded plastic except for a trio of electric plug prongs sticking out from its right hand. It raised that arm and shot electricity from its plug hand. The two Rangers flew back, throwing off sparks that briefly became person-shaped and echoed the laughter coming from the monster.

I hesitated. They’re Rangers they always find some way to win, and I don’t know this guy. He kidnapped me, and he did it based on just finding out we’re related. Both are good reasons not to lose my shit over this. My contemplation took a bit of time that my brother and the other Ranger used to recover. The monster, meanwhile, was turned toward me.

“Who do we have here?” it asked. “Pretty, pretty. Why are you hanging out with these losers?”

“Not by choice. The fuck are you and the fuck you doing coming at me?” I asked.

“I feel power in you… I can shut that off…” Creepy bugger. The plug guy came toward me, but I figured I could let him get closer before showing I’m ready for a scrap.

“Looking like a sextoy’s gone to your head, sounds like,” I said. The plug monster held out its non-plug hand and I felt all my cybernetic bits act up. My ears wailed, my spine decided to drop me to my knees, my vocal box started to heat up, my eyes went blind, and I believe my bladder switched over to coffee mode. Yes, I have a prosthetic bladder. No, that wasn’t all of parts listed. Ugh, even worse, the bladder switched to Cuban coffee mode which is even worse. That’s some strong shit, and something I didn’t expect to seriously use when I built a replacement bladder with extra filtration.

It’s a survival thing. At least I didn’t install an icemaker.

It was hard to think at the time. I was busy being shocked by the plug monster’s control over electrical devices outside my natural bioelectric one. I was released from this shocking state and heard the monster yelling out. By the time I shook it off and stood up, my brother was slicing at it with a pair of katars. It’s not like he saved me. But enough sounding like one of those yandere anime girls. Or is it tsundere. John Deere? Might be some residual brain scrambling going on. Regardless, my brother was fighting when the plug monster raised its plug to the sky and let out a burst of electricity.

“You missed,” my brother said. The Black Ranger jumped toward the monster with shield and mace in hand. He struck it from behind, throwing up sparks, and skidded to a stop next to my brother.

“Ha ha ha!” laughed the plug monster.

“You have a funny sense of humor,” Black Ranger said. Just then lightning struck the both of them blasted them in separate directions. The plug monster approached my brother, the thin pair of prongs elongating into jagged blades.

I ran up behind the monster and wrapped my arms around its waist. I jumped, bending backwards, and slammed its head into the sidewalk. I jumped to my feet and turned, catching its head with a kick as it attempted to rise. I smiled as I looked down on it and activated my laser eyes. Twin beams of light, amplified by stimulated emissions of radiation, cut into the monster. I savored its pain after what it did to me. “Gonna roast you like a pig. Squeal, piggy!”

It raised its plug hand to me. I revealed the laser claws, courtesy of some grafted super DNA that actually works to transfer superpowers. Chopped the monster’s hand off at the wrist.

A red circle of light shot from the sky, engulfing the monster. I cut the lasers, which were making my eyes a bit toasty in their sockets, and stepped back. The Rangers ran up and pulled me back too, with me slapping away their hands. “What’s this, the thing where it turns giant?” I asked.


“Uh huh!”

“I’m out then. Have fun!” I said, turning to run away. I didn’t want to try and validate any weird feelings related to knowing that guy, a Justice Ranger, is my brother. I don’t need a brother, especially not one who is an enemy. I briefly felt arms around me again and, before I could elbow the arms’ owner in the crotch, was all fuzz-light-teleported away from where I was.

My brother pointed back to where we’d been. The plug monster grew giant, stomping on the ground and laughing maniacally. “Yeah, yeah, thanks,” I told him.

“See you soon, sis!” he called before teleporting off.

I shifted a lot my attention to the regular world, paying the attention to a pair of giant robots little mind.
The Sheriff had stopped by. I think Qiang had called her when my proxies began to respond to my freedom. The town’s top cop nearly barged on in, but I was there to open the door. “I didn’t do it, and anyone who says I did is a damned liar who’s about to suffer an unfortunate accident!” I declared.

The Sheriff looked at me, then chuckled a little. “Tried too hard that time. What happened?”

I shrugged. “The Justice Rangers don’t know who I am. Kidnapped me without meaning to, then held me captive while they tried to determine if I was dangerous.”

“So how did you get out?” the Sheriff asked, fully aware I’m dangerous.

“Monster attack. I’m on foot, so it’ll take me a bit to get to the portal. The real problem’s getting back on this side of it,” I told her.

The Sheriff sighed. “I had to tell Medusa, you know that? She’s probably headed there now.”

“Ugh… fine, yeah, I get it. I’ll send her a message so she doesn’t blow my cover,” I said. “See you around.”

The fight didn’t last long once the giant robots were brought out. They never do. Less than five minutes later and Pluggy exploded into nothing. Guess he wasn’t going into the cells. It must have been easy to trap the others they’d captured, because a giant robot alligator with a pair of wheels in place of back legs sped along the nearby superhighway and stopped nearby. My brother landed in front of me and pulled off his helmet.

“You don’t have to go. I’ll make sure Shona doesn’t lock you back up,” he said. He’d apologized enough over his short visits that I guess he felt he didn’t need to anymore. I’m glad. It got pretty boring to hear.

“There’s a reason I’m not on this side of the portal,” I informed him. “And a very good reason I don’t like the Justice Rangers. And I don’t know you! You’re not family, you’re just some guy who we just found out is related to me.”

Maybe it’s because he was in the costume, but he seemed a lot less permissive. “Listen, we lost our dad when we were both young. You lost more than that. Something was taken from both of us. There’s no guarantee we’ll get along, but you’re some what was taken from me. We have a chance to recover some family that they stole. And it’s going to be hard to get through the portal now that Shona’s suspicious of you. Maybe you can convince her, or you can hang out while you work out another way through.”

I folded my arms in front of me. “You’re really desperate, aren’t you?”

“Aside from kidnapping you and bringing you back to this dimension and holding you captive, why are you so angry? Nevermind, as I was saying it, it became clear to me. I messed up, but you’re family,” he said.

Meaningless enough to me. “You’re so damn lucky I made arrangements back home, but I can’t stay long, not even two weeks. Fine, but I don’t give a crap about Shona and her questions. She’s got some arrogance. Y’all kidnapped me! I don’t even want to see her again.” Also, as the most suspicious of me, she’s the one most likely to uncover that I’m a person they want to kill or imprison forever. And while it might be justice for them, that would be quite inconvenient for me.

I was, of course, surprised to be led through the door of the building he lived in and found out it housed the whole Ranger team with some spare beds.

“You stayed!” said White, waving at me from a couch. The Red Ranger, Shona, just glared at me from over a cup she was drinking out of.

I turned to my brother real quick. “I’m blaming you when this ends badly.”



Oh Brother 2



I had time to hide a lot of shit and get my bodies in line before I received any special visitors. I got a heads-up from the Sheriff when they arrived in town. Local law enforcement has been scaled back significantly and changed up due to many heroes deciding to make sure the cops weren’t going to be a problem in Radium the same way they were elsewhere. I think the Sheriff had to resign herself to it over the simple fact that if superhumans in the town really wanted to cause trouble, there’s only so much she and her deputies could do about it. Even the fact that they had the firepower to take down a helicopter gunship was just proof that this small-town Sheriff had too high a budget. It seems one of her remaining duties is to be something of a liaison to me when outsiders come looking for me.

“Hey,” she said, walking into my store. She eyed the various cybernetics and weapons out in the open, but didn’t say anything. “You better hide anything that’s going to get you in trouble. A Federal Marshal and a handful of First Earthers checked in at the office. They’re tracking something.”

I nodded to her. “Thanks for the tip-off. I’ll do my best not to blow everything up, so you can consider your duty done.”

The Sheriff tipped her hat and left, not looking particularly relaxed. I looked over the nerdy teens checking out either the merchandise or me and called out, “Y’all better get out of here. Might get a bit dangerous.”

“Are you serious?” asked this one guy who hadn’t yet learned the value of shampoo.

I activated some of the store’s defense systems. A trio of laser cannons descended from the ceiling. The skeptic’s eyes went wide and he followed the rest of his friends running out of the store. I quickly had them withdraw back into the ceiling. About twenty minutes later, a group of people in their early-to-mid 20s walked up. Like every other Ranger team, each one prominently sported a color somewhere on their person. It was a bit different that there were two people in different shades of red, though. One of those was a black-haired woman in a brown top with a red half-jacket over it. The other red was a blonde guy with a face I instinctively wanted to punch in a red v-neck shirt under his coat.

I looked between the pair for a moment before addressing the woman, “Hello there.” I didn’t outwardly pay them any mind, instead wiping down the top of a display case that featured a knifebow. I caught a glimpse of the woman nodding to a girl with white hair and a guy in a black turtleneck. They spread out, checking the transformer bracelets on their right forearms.

“Is that allowed?” blonde-haired Red guy asked in a Southern accent. Is that how I sound? He was pointing to the knifebow, a crossbow specially-designed to shoot knives at people at high speed. There were various knives in the case with it, along with a sign reading “Ask about our explosive ammo!”

“2nd Amendment,” I said. “I have flamethrowers in the back if you want. Cops can’t do anything about it. You looking for weaponry or gadgetry?”

“This is weird town,” the other Red said, stepping up. “Where do you get your products?”

I shrugged. “I have sources. Some of this is artisanal.” Behind this pair, a guy with yellow vertical stripes on his shirt finished talking to the guy in black and walked over to a shelf of gadgets. Laser scopes, rangefinders, grappling hooks launchers, hooks, and a couple of netguns.

Yellow made a show of picking up one of the net launchers and dropped it with a really loud “Whoops!” He bent over to pick it back up, his head knocking the shelf and pushing it over. I sighed, annoyed at both the clumsy distraction and having to pick up all the stuff. I walked around the counter and pretended not to notice the guy in black slipping back there. I smiled when he tried to head into the back and a rope trap lifted him upside down and hung him from the ceiling.

“So annoying,” I said, fixing the shelves back and putting stuff up there. I paid no mind to the Rangers assuming combat stances. I turned to them, hands on my hips. “So, what exactly are y’all looking for?”

The woman in white showed her bracelet. “Something like this. We know it’s here.”

“Yeah, what are you doing with it?” asked the guy in Red. With his fists up, I noticed he didn’t have one of the bracelets. That was the one whose bracelet somehow activated for me.

I held up my hands and walked around the corner, flipping a switch on the wall that dropped Black to the floor. He pulled himself free and stood. I pointed to a box under the counter. “There’s what you’re looking for. Hands up so I can’t touch anything.”

He started for it, then turned to me. “You get it in case there’s another rope or something.”

That got a little giggle from the girl in white, but I went ahead and slowly reached down, pulled the box out, and set it on the counter where they could all see the slightly-dented transformer bracelet within. My brief freakout after having transformed into a Ranger and alerted them to my presence had left it with a little cosmetic damage. I’d debated finishing it off, but ultimately figured the best way to go about this was to pretend to be nobody important.

The Red guy grabbed his bracelet, looking agitated at the minor damage, but slid it back on.

“Free of charge,” I said, lowering my hands and setting the box back under the counter. When I popped my head up above the counter, I saw the Rangers weren’t finished here yet.

“Who has handled it since it’s been here?” she asked.

I shook my head. “I don’t know a lot about the people who stopped in. I’m guessing they tangled with y’all. They just stopped here long enough for gas and some quick medical care, paid for it with that.” I nodded toward the bracelet that was being examined by Red Guy and Yellow.

“Who transformed?” Red Guy asked.

“I don’t know,” I lied. “Put a lock on that thing or something if you don’t want anybody else using it.”

“No one else should be able to use it,” the woman in Red said.

Yellow looked up. “There’s been no tampering with the security. The person who transformed shared enough DNA with you to be family.”

Red Guy went through some emotions. I was trying not to let mine show either, because I don’t have a clue who the fuck this guy is, but I don’t know what family I’d have. I was fairly young, but I didn’t have siblings.

“Family like the son of an aunt?” Red Guy asked.

Yellow pointed to the bracelet. “The way the genetic security functions may not work for them. It would have to be a close family member, such as a child, a parent, or a sibling.”

…this fucker said what now? I’m sure as shit not this guy’s parent or kid unless there’s some weird time travel around here. I think some of my surprise showed through to me face, because Red Woman was watching me closely.

“None of the people we fought were men,” Red woman said in our original language.

“You think it’s her?” my so-called brother said, mistakenly. The sibling relation was the mistaken part. There’s no fucking way. I’d remember a brother. They’d have been in the Psychopomp Project. They’d be DEAD.

White stepped forward, speaking in English. “Why did you come to this Earth?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I said.

“You two are brother and sister,” she said to me, gesturing to the guy who’s definitely NOT my brother.

“No, we aren’t,” I said.

“I know one thing that can help,” Yellow said. He pulled out a device. He threw it at me and I caught it, looking down at it. My homo machina body connected to the wires coming from it on its own volition, which ended up powering a bright light. I threw it away.

“See? She’s definitely homo machina like you!” Yellow said.

Nobody looked all that happy with the guy’s weird flashlight. They were all focused on me. At least their combat stances had stopped. Me, I wanted to attack. I was defensive. They were claiming I had a brother and our genetic similarity is why his transformer worked for me. I took a moment and instead focused on the nice route for the moment. “Leave. Get out of my store.”

“You should come with us,” Red woman said.

“Why?” Black asked, clearly the smartest of the bunch. Her idea was fucking nuts.

Red guy, the fake brother who is definitely not my brother and I don’t care what anybody says, held his hands up and walked toward me. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a digital photograph encased in a thick protective plastic carrying case. He slipped back into our home language to explain. “My father disappeared when I was young. When I was old enough to ask about him and why he wasn’t around, she told me she was his mistress and that he and his family were killed. My father, his wife, and their child.”

And then he showed me a photo triggered my memory. It was a photo of a man, a woman, and a baby. I didn’t recognize the woman at all, but the man’s face triggered some long-sleeping memory.

What the fuck? I sniffled, wondering what happened to the humidity or the water sprinklers in there. Fucking localized rain storm in my store.

“Get out,” I said with a cracked voice.

“This is a lot to process and we can’t stay,” Red woman said to my… to the guy in Red. She stepped closer and whispered something to him, about how, “You’re a Ranger and she’s a victim of the purge.”

“Get out,” I told them all. When my… the person, the guy, the one in Red, when he stepped forward, I called down the laser cannons. They all scattered, the two Reds barely managing to transform before the lasers blasted them. Sparks scattered off the tight uniforms of the Alligator Ranger and some kind of Snake Ranger. The lasers were keeping them pinned down, but then blasts shot out from the guns held by the white Bear Ranger, the black Skunk Ranger, and the yellow Fox Ranger.

I stomped a pedal and the display case opened. The knifebow bounced up into the air for me to grab and turn on those three, already loaded with a standard hunting knife magazine, the under-barrel bayonet gleaming in the bright lights. I cocked the knifebow and fired bursts of knives at the trio. The Badger Ranger pulled Bear Ranger out of the way, but I caught the Fox Ranger on his shoulder.

I stung the knifebow over toward Snake Ranger in mid-flying kick. She blasted it in half, but I raised the barrel with the bayonet I could use. In the moment, in THAT moment, all that shit going through my head, I wasn’t thinking so clearly. I felt I should clarify. That’s why I was still standing there when Alligator Ranger landed behind me with a flip and wrapped his arms around me.

Everything was bright light. Fuzzy whitish-yellowish light, but with some distant feeling of other lights all over the place. A universe of light.

When it ended, I was in a cell. Thick metal on three sides of me and a clear wall on the fourth one. My internal clock figured out I’d lost an hour of time and my GPS systems failed to connect with the usual satellites, or any satellites.

On the other side of the wall, my person who had grabbed me and teleported me stepped up. “I’m sorry. I know you’re confused and hurt and upset. I promise, I don’t hold it against you. I just brought you here so you could calm down and we could connect. That fighting was necessary for either of us.”

“Let me out!” I yelled, stepping up to the see-through wall. I gave it a tap, judging the material. Transparent aluminum. Strong stuff. I might not be able to force my way through.

“Ranger Red’s doing a background check to see if there’s anything she can find. I promise you, I will let you out when you calm down and aren’t so murderous.”

That pretty much confirms they have abso-fucking-lutely no clue who they’re dealing with. Pretty sure when I don’t check in with the store’s security system, it’ll go ahead and unveil the “Closed due to kidnapping sign,” I’ve built into the front door.

“I’m sorry,” the person who isn’t my brother said. He slipped a package into something on the wall and pressed a button. After a second, a portion of the wall opened up and revealed a drop box. The package was a wrapped-up sandwich. I took it and set it aside on the pallet that seemed to be a sleeping area. That person continued, “I really wanted to bring you with me and find out more about you and our father. This is a big deal to me, and I think it’s a big deal to you, too. If you don’t trust them, and maybe you don’t after everything that’s happened to our people and families, then trust me. I’m not going to betray my new sister. I have a sister!”

He yelled that last part out on his own, excited. It actually cut through the anger a bit. This guy reminded me of Reindeer in that they were both such big dorks. And I’m confused, but I should be able to bluff my way through this. If they had enough of my DNA on file to identify me as one of the great nemeses of the Justice Rangers and murderer of multiple Rangers, enough so that their own security systems can get me and this- my brother confused, then they’d already know who I am because they’d have identified him as the brother of Psycho Gecko.

“What’s your name?” he asked. Just then, an alarm sounded. He looked up, then raised his bracelet. “Now? They’re attacking the city now?!” He looked up at me. “I have to go. Monster attack. Please say something?”

I waved him off. “I go by Delilah now,” I told him.

“Delia?” he asked, getting it wrong. I rolled my eyes and waved him off. “We’ll talk soon, Delia! Sorry!”




Oh Brother 1



It’s November, which makes it a great time for schemes to come to fruition. Like harvest season, you could say. I think some of it’s people waiting until after Halloween. In other cases, I’m pretty sure some villains are desperately trying to avoid Thanksgiving with family and the best way to do that is to either conquer the Earth or get sent to prison. Sounds extreme but, in their defense, a lot of people have found out recently that a lot of their relatives are ok with white supremacy. If you’re spending the holidays with a gang of neo-Nazis no matter what you do, might as well try and blow up the state of Utah.

From the news I hear, someone very nearly sent the Earth into a new Ice Age. Except his attempt to freeze everything was slowed down long enough for some superheroes to stop it. That turned out to be because of another villain hanging out in Argentina. That woman found something she took that drastically improved the strength of her powers. Heroes came after her, too. She took a bunch more of whatever she had, turned into a towering inferno, and burned out. Not even enough of her left to figure out what she too, which is going to drive some people batty.

In other news, Herne the Hunter is on the run after his second attempt on the superhero Reindeer. Even the villains like having a night when they can run around in masks and not risk getting caught. It’d kind of like how risky it is if we all just start killing each other. For the longest time, heroes and governments have had no problem throwing aside norms and laws when it comes to me. Most villains wouldn’t be able to handle that kind of onslaught. And even I found it fun and worthwhile to uphold that Halloween truce.

I’m keeping a real close eye on Herne. At the time of writing this, he’s peeing in the woods near his campsite. Didn’t even give it a shake before zipping up, the barbarian. I’ll see him in person soon.

I recovered quickly from my injuries, and even helped some folks with theirs. I still have a store with weird gadgets and prosthetics, after all. People are figuring out I’m a little better than most doctors, if they’re willing to put their lives in my hands for a moment. Like this one girl I finished up with. A teenager, she and her mom stopped by for a quick and easy breast reduction, as they were a tad bit large and causing some back problems.

It was over in no time, and I gave her some news about a bonus. “Ok, so while the machines were in there, they found some issues with a disc in the thoracic spinal column. The disc had worn down some and was starting to give in. They went ahead and repaired that, made sure to top off the others and did a little work reinforce them.” I showed her and her mom on a hologram so they could see where the specific problem had occurred. I also brought up a schematic for a cybernetic spine that retains full range of movement with way better support. “The problem is, the human spine’s a mess. There’s not much to work with there. Now, if you’re willing to undergo a longer procedure and don’t mind the occasional problem with magnets or metal detectors, I have an upgrade that’ll do the trick.”

“I think we’re good, but thank you so much!” the mother said, smiling, moving to guide her daughter out. Figures. It might seem weird to both heal people’s bodies and offer replacements made of metal and circuitry, but a normal human spine is still subject to paralysis and regular eyes have crappy night vision. Humanity didn’t settle for sleeping in trees and scavenging bone marrow from bodies left behind by predators; it doesn’t have to remain fixed to the frailties and failings of the flesh.

The day after that, I got someone into the store who looked new in town. Radium wasn’t a big place before the supers starting flocking to it. There’s probably something deeper to be said about a group of people who abandon apparent responsibility to save people by segregating themselves. Regardless, I’d have remembered a guy with an eyepatch and fresh wounds on his face with a metal arm.

I was eating lunch and trying out something new I’d added to this body, which gave the guy pause. Not often you see a woman with a prehensile tongue eating fries from a foot away. I don’t think showing off the other modifications would have made him feel any better, but at least I hadn’t gone through with doing up my head like Pinhead, with metal sticking out. I was going to go ahead with it, but then I got to thinking about doing a metal spike mohawk, and just got lost in the weeds. Even considered a steel wool afro before tossing that out. So for now, my hair’s a bundle of curls and my tongue is an oil black, extended prehensile limb.

“Can I help you?” I asked the guy. He grunted and walked closer, ignoring a couple of kids oggling some ray guns in a glass case. Those are fakes; I keep the real ones hidden without the batteries in.

The man looked around and leaned forward, invading my personal space with the smell of sweat and whiskey. He was a big guy, with graying hair, a 5 o’clock shadow, and biceps the size of my dainty little head. “Someone told me this was the place to come for the best cybernetic implants on Earth, in this weird little town. Are you pulling my leg, or can you replace an eye and fix my arm.”

I raised an eyebrow. “Someone’s got a big mouth, but they’re right.” I nodded toward the back of the store. “Come around the counter and into the back to the body shop.”

He did a doubletake as another of me appeared in the back. The body shop was both literal and figurative. We passed by a car being swarmed over by some spidery robots, giving it some maintenance. “Is this a joke?” asked my new customer.

“No, it’s someone who wanted to be turned into a car. That was a joke, this is the humanoid section of the body shop,” I told him, pulling aside a curtain to show him my doctor’s office room. “Sit down and let’s take a look at that arm and eyehole.” He set a bad he’d carried back aside and

The arm was pretty nice. Almost entirely mechanical, though it had some loss of strength from something having been jammed through it at the elbow. There was enough left to figure out what he needed, repair it, and patch the hole. He had a computer on his forearm, but that was doing just fine. After that, it was taking a look at where his peeper had gone AWOL.

“Nasty, but fixable. I have a range of cybernetic options, or I can regrow it for you. Any preference?” I asked.

“Are the cyber eyes better than regular ones?” He asked.

“Oh yeah,” I swiveled a monitor out from the wall to show him various features: night vision, thermal vision, zoom vision, flash immunity, etc., etc.

He brought the bag up and opened it, pulling out an arm that looked like it was made of cables. It came down to a set of five fingers that looked like the cables narrowed down like tentacles, evenly spaced all the way around. I leaned in to examine it. “Nice work.” I noticed the top, where it was supposed to connect at the shoulder. Some of the cables extended past to where they’d connect at the back of the shoulder, but there was a molded rubber interface with some snapped-off wires hanging off. A little bit of blood spotted that area. “Who’d you take it off?”

“That’s the kind of question only my lawyer will ever answer,” he said.

I waved away his concerns. “It’ll definitely pay for your whole operation here, don’t worry. I’d be willing to give you some more upgrades in exchange for more resources from over there. First Earth.” I snorted.

“Yeah. We’re Earth Prime to them,” he said. “Next one will call itself Earth A or Alpha or something. Everyone wants to be first.”

“Just stay away from Earth Aleph. Nasty place,” I advised, not that he’d know what I was talking about. He nodded and made his selection for an eye, getting quite a nice package deal if I do say so myself. The nanites cleaned up the socket and put in a direct interface and we popped in a nice new cyber eye that he chose to have glow an unnatural red.

The man stood up and tried everything out, nodding with less of a scowl on his face. “Good work. Call me Raider,” he said, offering a hand.

“Delilah,” I told him. He didn’t pay for my name, so he’s getting my alias. “I’m serious. You find any neat tech next time you’re over there, I’d be willing to buy it. Cash, gold, upgrades, medical services, even gadgets and weapons.”

Imagine my surprise when he stumbled into the workyard out back a few nights later. He and a bunch of his friends landed some helicopter lifted by VTOL-style rotating jets rather than rotors in the back and came out calling for medics. I threw on the yard’s stealth systems to cover up everything back there and got the nanites pumping. Once everyone was stabilized, I went to check on Raider, who was checking back over their jetcopter. “Didn’t think you’d apply my offer in such an unexpected manner. Looks like y’all went through the shit.”

“Yeah,” he said, tossing me a bracelet of sorts. I looked it over, some sort of tech with a crocodile motif. “Took that off a Ranger.”

“Whew… a dead Ranger?” I asked.

Raider let out a pained laugh, reaching up to put a hand on his chest. “I wish. Think I pulled something.”

“I’d say you pulled something alright. A Ranger panty raid.” That got a laugh and some more pain out of him. I jabbed him with a needle of regenerative nanomachines that confirmed some internal bruising on a few organs and set about repairing the damage.

They didn’t even end up staying the night, just long enough to heal, rest, have some snacks, and make sure they’d lost anybody trying to find them. Then they were off and I was examining that Ranger bracelet which I’d come to realize was one of their transformers. They put it on, say some sort of phrase that I’m sure is a voice security measure, and their costumes appear around them. For a long time, homo machina like myself couldn’t even be Rangers due to some weird genetic incompatibility and then prejudice based on their encounters with one particular Homo Machina nemesis. They’ve overcome the incompatibility as far as I know.

While checking it over, I ended up hitting some sort of button disguised in the crocodile design. My arms pulled out away from my body and I felt like I was spinning as a red-colored metal crocodile spun up from below. I couldn’t move my head to look down, and suddenly it didn’t matter because I was wearing a tight costume with a helmet enclosing my head. I don’t even know how it captured all my hair in there. Gloves, boots, a metal icon of a crocodile on my chest.

“What the fuck? How did this thing transform?” I asked.

I heard a voice through the helmet, asking in my own language, “Who is this? How did you transform?”

“How do I not untransform?” I asked them in my home tongue.

“Press the button again and say ‘Power Down.’ Where are you?” a different voice asked in the helmet.

Instead of answering, I tried the button. It worked, leaving me looking normal in my shop and tossing the transformer bracelet hard to the side where it bounced off a wall.

Well, shit. Time to obscure some stuff. I think I just attracted a team of Justice Rangers to where I’m hiding out.