Category Archives: 11. Arete in Destruction

Crush! Kill! Destroy! DESTROY!

Arete in Epilogue

***Connection established***

Gooooood morning!

Look on my words, ye mighty, and drink a shot of bourbon!

I’m not responsible for the effects of my advice on those under twenty-one, by the way. You’re on your own there. Besides, you shouldn’t go becoming an alcoholic. Pick up a better addiction, like glue, or paint, or masturbating to a female anthropomorphic fox being stuck alive and conscious as she’s embalmed. Rule Thirty-Four, are there no depths to which you won’t sink?

Who am I to talk, anyway?

I did some sinking, mostly through the collapsing Empyre State Building and into the dark underbelly of the city. The sewer, that is. Lots of piss coming out the underbelly. It stank very much bad down there. That could have been the destruction of the building and loss of life, though. I know I certainly added my own share of piss on the way down, and I suspect some others did.

But as you may have gathered, it’s hard to keep a bad man down.

I am hilarity. I am the fright!

I! Am! A badman!

Just imagine some lightning right then. This blog operates on a budget on that side of things.

So yes, I survived. Like a little horde of heroes, a collapsing building, incompatible technology, and some Cherenkov radiation-induced heartburn are going to end me.

Amazingly, so did Carl and Moai. I mean, I figured Moai had a better shot at it than most people, but Carl got lucky. As far as I can tell, those crazy heroic sons of bitches actually tried to protect them!

Granted, Carl still wound up injured, but all he had to do was lose the balaclava and he passed for a regular Joe Schmo survivor of that clash of titans. I paid him a visit in the hospital while he was laid up. Surprisingly easy to get where you need to go in a hospital full of busy people. Dirty place, though. Not that he could leave with casts on an arm and a leg, his ribs wrapped up, but at least they got that stapler out from where it got embedded.

I brought him some food, messed with the computers to make sure his treatment would be covered, and double checked his chart to make sure he hadn’t been accidentally scheduled for a testicular cancer check with tissue samples or something. Let that be a lesson to all of y’all: friends don’t let friends accidentally lose their balls.

What’s that, you want to defend the competency of doctors and surgeons to me? Yeah right. Next you’ll be claiming that all those grown adults with years of training that stick their hands inside people also remember to wash their hands and count their tools afterwards.

What’s that? “But Gecko, you shove your hands into people’s bodies all the time without washing up immediately afterward.” Hey, I’m not trying to keep people alive when I do it.

People make dumb mistakes, even the smart ones.

Like me, I make mistakes all the time. I even messed up a few things this time around. Sometimes winning means making sure the other side messes up more than you do.

“In light of the stunning and candid look into the heroes we trust to defend us and our values, the hero group Shieldwall has decided to disband. It is for the best that they did.”

Ah yes, the opening lines to another article about my triumph. An opinion piece, I think. The title is “Armies Are Unwelcome.”

“Evidence mounted that the heroes had begun a self-perpetuating feud with the supervillain that drove each side to escalate the conflict with every encounter. This war drove both sides further than they should have gone. A supervillain is hardly expected to hold to laws or self-restraint, but a group of heroes as numerous and powerful and with as much backing as Shieldwall should have been able to defeat him without resorting to the unthinkable. In almost full agreement, they talked of executing the supervillain without even the benefit of a trial. Nobody in their right mind condones the actions of Psycho Gecko, but the thought of self-appointed vigilantes serving as judge, jury, and executioner is abhorrent to the hearts of Americans everywhere.

Superheroes have been a long and proud tradition in the United States since well before World War II. They’ve worked for the people without the interference of the government, and sometimes with government complicity or even at the beck and call of the government. But the American people will not sit idly by and allow our streets to be patrolled by the unaccountable. They protect the peace and serve the public trust against extraordinary circumstances with amazing abilities. Some are virtually tanks, but our streets were not meant to be patrolled by tanks. We the people, under the Posse Comitatus Act, don’t allow the government to patrol the country with machines of war. Yes, we can stomach vigilantes, but armies are unwelcome here.”

It goes on a bit, usually trying to make that point about armies. I would have settled for hammering home that point that the continuing attacks forced me to find creative, and destructive ways to defend myself, but then they caught me. Victory defeated them.

You know, I can actually sympathize with them wanting to kill me. It was probably the best thing they could have done. It’s what they really wanted to do, after all. That’s not to say Venus was wrong. That was very much her own response.

Let me elaborate. When you’ve lived your life with a mindset molded by what your parents taught you, which they learned from their parents, only thinking of things in the way you were raised to think them…then I don’t care about you. You aren’t a real person. You’re your grandparents in a younger body. Start thinking for yourself and you can start living for yourself.

“Our prayers go out to the victims of that day when the fatal feud reached its boiling point. We wish it hadn’t taken such stunning revelations and the death, assumed or real, of a supervillain to finally bring our city a little closer to peace.”

“They think you’re dead?”

I folded up the newspaper and looked up at Carl. “Yep. They assume I’m dead. The smart ones are holding out until a body’s found, but they’ll give in before long. Some of the heroes check in around the hospitals just in case I show up here in a bed. I’m glad to have a break from all that attention for now.”

“Don’t forget you won’t have to worry about the heroes now. Hey, you don’t think that’s another trick, do you?”

“Nah, I got a guy who’s good with the news. He helped confirm it for me. The Master Academy heroes are heading back east. Bright Star, Miss Tycism, the Human Sloth; they took the worst of the fighting. There’s no word about Honky Tonk Hero. People speculate Gorilla Awesome might help the Kingscrow capes, whatever their team name was, but no one’s certain about him. Forcelight’s going to head back and keep an eye on Kingscrow. Keep getting reacquainted with her dad. He’s not such a Good Doctor after all, telling stories about me to his daughter. Raggedy Man’s going with them. He’s been training the private cops over there anyway. Troubleshooter and Mechamoto are kinda wobbly. They might go their own ways. Finally, last I heard of Black Raptor, he was back home taking care of his kids.”

“Wow, they put all that in the newspaper?”

“Of course not, but I said I knew a guy who was into the news. What is the point of having your own news organization by the balls if you aren’t going to wiretap anyone who might possibly be a threat or critic?”

“Huh. So we won?”

“We won.”

“Wow, and it sounds like everything’s calming down,” said Carl.

“Benefit of temporary death. Good tax dodge too.” I thought about things quieting down. Then I couldn’t help but grin.

“Something funny, boss?” asked this prince of plaster casts.

“Yeah, a delivery I arranged before we did everything on the Empyre State Building. I owed somebody a little present before making things dangerous.”

Carl glanced at the TV, which was turned to the news but left muted. “Hey, something else is going on. Can I hear that?”

I switched on the volume as a blonde addressed the camera in the studio, “-ene of a large attack seemingly perpetuated by a dead man or at least arranged before his death. Ladies and gentlemen, if you’re just joining us, then you should know a sonic bomb similar to that used in Kingscrow has been detonated within Paradise City, damaging every piece of glass in the city, destroying equipment vulnerable to sensitive vibrations, and exposing old people and little kids to a curse word. Let’s go to Dwight Bryan in the field to see how the survivors are coping.”

They cut to a man with lightish darkish skin. I suppose I’ll have to learn more about coffee to describe skin tones. “Thank you, Danielle. I’m here with a local business owner, Mr. Soreston of Soreston Appliances.” The camera panned over to show an older man with a craggy face and light brown hair. “Mr. Soreston, can you tell us about how this event impacted your store?”

The old man held his hand to his ear. “Huh?!”

“How has this affected you?!”

“Something, something shoe?!”

“You know, I think we’ll ask Mrs. Anderson here.” Dwight stepped across in front of Mr. Soreston. The cameraman followed him to a thin woman with grey hair down past her shoulders and a denim skirt on. “She’s been a Sunday School teacher for 40 years, isn’t that right?”

Like the man, she strained to hear. “What?”

“Wonderful. Ma’am, were the children traumatized in any way by the event and the word they heard?”

“The fuck you sayin’?”

Dwight pushed her out of sight of the camera quickly and plastered an artificial smile on his blushing face “Now to Danielle in the studio. Danielle?”

“Thank you Dwight.”

I muted it again. “Well, I’m glad that worked out. That Ouroboros asshole had it coming.”

I excused myself soon after as I had a meeting to get to. As instructed, I approached the Marriott World Trade Center looking for an expensive car. Needle in a haystack much? My attention was drawn to one in particular when the door opened for me, courtesy of a female hand. Mercedes-Benz by the look of it. Not too ostentatious. There was more to it, though. That little part under the headlights wasn’t standard. It was closed off. I couldn’t see inside due to the window tint, but at least the hand saved me the trouble of checking it over for bombs.

I slid in next to Dame and shut the door behind me. I saw there wasn’t a driver. “Fancy car.”

“Thank you,” she said. She had her mask on.

“Surprised you want to see me, but I guess you were their next best choice after Venus. Always that annoying tendency to find me,” I said.

Dame looked at me with light, clear blue eyes. Deep. Like I could fall into them. Those are pretty eyes. I’d love to be able to look down and see them on a keychain or something. “After all you and the team have been through, they felt it best to discover if rumors of your death were premature. You and her don’t cross paths unless you absolutely have to, that’s a condition right from the start.”

“They worried I’ll break her?”

“You should be worried that she’ll break you. You’ve taken a lot from her and she’s got what it takes to beat you, I think. More than that, you owe her. Her argument held her teammates up long enough not to kill you when they could.” I nodded and opened my mouth to speak, but she cut me off, “Not that they will try to kill you. Everyone walks away. There’s no more Shieldwall, and your grudge against them is done. They won’t try to come after you particularly, but that doesn’t mean you can pull stuff right in front of them and expect them to ignore you. The longer you draw out this death of yours, the better for everyone involved.”

“What stick are they using to keep me in line?” I asked, rubbing my butt against the cushiony seat.

“They’ll reveal you’re alive if you try something before you out yourself. I imagine the sooner that is to all of this mess you’ve caused, the more likely that vengeful heroes and an unhappy government are going to come knocking at your door. You’ve blown up a national icon and a major building in a short amount of time. Wars have started for less. But the main consequence, once everyone knows you aren’t dead, is this starts up again. You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t want to avoid that too.”

“Unless y’all get lucky and take me out by trying something, of course.”

“It is the heroes’ understanding that such an attempt would be unsuccessful and lead to more death and destruction than if you were left to yourself. Do we have a deal?”

“Maybe. This is the second time lately I’ve been offered a deal by Shieldwall. Why do they expect me to keep to it?”

She ran a fingertip along a seam between gems on her mask, “I imagine because you kept to your deal concerning me. You expect me to know what the heroes are thinking?”

I pointed at her nose, “I hear you tend to listen at doors. Think of it as a condition of my acceptance if it’s such a problem.”

She reached out her hand for a handshake.

“Enchanté, mademoiselle,” I said while taking her hand and kissing the back of it. I then turned it into a handshake.

“Forcelight’s learned things from her alleged father. A deal’s a deal, Psycho Gecko.”

“Please, Dame, Psycho Gecko is what everyone calls me. Feel free to call me…Psycho Gecko.”

She snorted and pulled her hand away. “Charming, truly, but I have places to be. We wouldn’t want Forcelight to think you’ve done something to me and rejected the arrangement.”

I got the impression she wanted me gone, so I popped the door and stepped out. She reached over to close it and the car took off as soon as it shut. A driverless car that doesn’t have the roof setup? That’s a fancy car. There better not be another company opening up a “steal Psycho Gecko’s stuff” division.

In the waning light of the day, I looked out over the unsuspecting city full of the vulnerable and forgotten. Whatever a post-Shieldwall life holds in store for me, I will never forget that with great power comes great superiority over mortal man. This is my curse, no, my gift. Ha, only those unimaginative masses could see such power as a curse, but I deserve it. I’m different. Who am I? I’m Psycho Gecko, man.



Arete in Destruction 9, the Grand Finale

The end is nigh and here I am. But that’s getting ahead of myself. I’d better explain how I reached this apocalyptic time on the Empyre State Building staring down a pissed-off bunch of heroes without any way to fight back.

I had been mostly ready for this endgame when I said I would be. I didn’t intend to drag things out even though I wasn’t completely ready for them. For one thing, I hadn’t come up with some unique counter for Forcelight, Honky Tonk Hero, or Mecha Human Sloth. As the heavy hitters of the group, I’d wanted some specific way to take them down that didn’t involve revealing a certain built-in trump card I’ve been saving up. Never did get myself any allies. Just me, Moai, and Carl.

But that comes later. Let’s start at the beginning of the end.

First, I trashed the Museum of Modern Art. Stole a few valuable pieces for Michelangelo to sell through the improper channels, but I kept one or two with me. I figured it would coax Dame out at last.

I figured right. I woke up to her trying to steal my shit again. Yes, it was Marilyn Monroe on my wall, but it was done by Andy Warhol, not Playboy. The Playboy stuff would be worth more. At least she didn’t touch my Starry Night by Van Gogh the Earless Wonder. When she saw me sit upright, she phased and ran for the wall. I ran after her and sent the signal to her device to render her solid again but it didn’t work. “Found a way out of my reach, have you?”

She was running along the dance floor of the former club for the front door when she became solid again just to answer me. “I guess you aren’t the only one with a mind for gadgets. You should have had two contingency plans!”

There was a thud as she passed by a front counter near the coat check. Dame fell back on the ground with a groan. The canvas she was carrying slid along the floor before stopping.

“How about a man swinging a car battery?” I asked as Carl stepped over her and laid the battery down on her chest. Moai jumped out over the bar and rolled upright, wearing a black ninja outfit. I think he was trying to strike a pose.

“Hey, Moai, take that off. It looks ridiculous. Everyone knows ninjas would have worn something like dark blue to blend in at night if they wore that kind of thing. Damn glad to have you on the job, though.”

I gave him a thumbs up. Now, this was not, as some might suspect, an attempt to foster a rivalry. Moai serving as backup was indeed a legitimate necessity. I’m not sure if he has an ego, but that shit gets in the way of what’s necessary often enough. If I’m fighting a hero who knocks me on my ass, puts a pink tutu on me, dips me in horse manure, he can laugh all he wants as long as I’m the person who walks away from the fight without my head ripped off and shoved up the horse’s ass. Laugh it up, deadhead.

I had Dame in my company, though, so I had to keep the horse asses to a minimum with her around. She’s a lady, you know. She’s like a female knight to British people. That doesn’t mean I didn’t take her bracelet or bangle or whatever you call the mirrored doohickey with the phase technology hidden inside it.

I was hoping to get a hold of this.

For her, it’s a defensive measure. That could get…interesting…if I were to use it that way. Possibly suicidal as well. My physiology, which made me so easy to cling to when Dame was trapped in an ethereal state, wouldn’t react well to it, I think. I knew I could weaponize it, especially if I made copies. I just didn’t have time for that. A regrettable casualty of my need to expedite my plans. Still, it was a good idea for handling Forcelight or Honky Tonk Hero.

At least I’d had time to fix up the Heatflasher. Hell, I improved on it and found a nice way to handle my heat problem.

Moai and Carl got Dame chained down to a chair while I slipped into my armor. Good old chains. I like using them because they’re so much more difficult to get away from than ropes. Luckily, as skilled as she was, Dame wasn’t good enough to wiggle loose of these babies. And, since the Chastity5000 was buy one, get one when I tied up Venus, I had a spare for Dame. Still, she struggled, even tearing at her black bodysuit in places.

“Now calm down, Damey wamey,” I told her. “I’m not going to hurt you. In fact, I technically haven’t hurt you so far. That was Carl. Say hi, Carl.”

Carl raised his hand and gave her a small wave, “Hiya.”

“Thanks Carl. So, Dame, time for the explanation about what’s going on. I promised someone, made a deal actually, that I was going to drop my grudge against you, wouldn’t kill you, wouldn’t pursue you at all, even said you’d be untouchable to me. So far, I have not touched you, nor am I doing this because of a grudge. In fact, this wouldn’t have happened if you had decided to not find me once again to steal back stolen artwork once again. Predictability is not a good quality in thieves. There’s a reason for the phrase ‘thick as thieves’ and it doesn’t involve your bodily figure. Don’t worry. No matter what, you’re going to live. Or at least I have no plans on killing you. You’re just going to be my bait to get Venus and her friends to join the field of battle.”

“Why do you think that matters?”

I played a certain audio clip of Venus’s voice: “It was Dame. She told us all where you were hiding. She and I had some common ground and she gave me a picture of your latest face.”

“You really ought to pick better friends,” I told her, then leaned closer. “You know, you and I could be better friends sometime.”

She headbutted me. It hurt her more than it hurt me, but I think she was trying to make a point about my chances being less than or equal to a punitive flaming underworld afterlife reaching freezing point. I pointed my finger at her, “That was entirely on you and does not constitute me touching or hurting you.”

“Why does that matter?” she groaned.

I turned away from her as I spoke. “Because, so long as I make a deal and try to keep it, then I will try to keep it. At least until something more important comes up or the other party reneges on their part. I like the idea. You see it in fairy tales, you know? A neutral or good person makes a deal with a party, usually a darker force. A sea witch or a voodoo bocor…or is that houngan…either way, a voodoo guy. The hero gets stipulations, something he or she wanted or thought they wanted…good reason to read a contract, by the way…and if they dare break their end of it, there is hell to pay. But I feel I’m monologuing again and I should note that Moai may get a tad homicidal if you actually manage to escape.”

Moai hopped closer to Dame. Via my 360 degree view on the helmet, I could see she’d started to move an elbow further than it should go. Moai dropped a heavy gold chain with an old-fashioned ticking clock around her neck.

“Thanks, Moai, that ought to hold her,” I said with a nod. True, I was facing away, but Moai knew what I meant.

“Won’t matter to Venus. You haven’t been listening at the right doors.”

I didn’t turn. Instead, I raised my arm up so I could point a finger at her over my shoulder. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“No one’s seen her ever since that bank was blown up, and the rumor is that she didn’t get out of there before the place was given a volatile redecoration. There’s been no word of her from the heroes and no sightings of her on patrol. Nothing in hospitals about someone matching her description. I think your unrequited love interest is dead.”

That didn’t seem right. It actually gave me pause for a moment.

“I doubt that. Heroes are pesky like that, and she’s peskier than normal. She’s got to be alive. Since when do chains and a bomb kill a superhero?”

“Maybe you should ask someone when you get back from sailing down denial.”

“Sailing up the Nile. Moai, right foot.”

Moai got in the way of my view of Dame as he slid a stiletto heel made of cement onto her foot and closed the iron manacle set into the top of it. She had had something metal gripped between her toes. Such a clingy suit allows greater articulation, like hiding tools in unusual places. In this case, hiding something around the foot, and bringing it to bear with the toes.

“Well, either way my dear Dame, they should be informed that you were their source for that raid on me. That means you still make a wonderful hostage for my plan.”

It was the next day when the plan went into action. The Heatflasher appeared once more in the skies over New York and circumcised the Empyre State Building. I crashed it into the observation deck and melted my way through supports in order to tip it to one side. The elevator dinged, then opened to reveal Carl and Moai carrying Dame, a TV camera, and some very important equipment for the ‘Flasher. They dumped Dame, who was now wearing quite a heavy outfit made up of cement shoes, hammer pants stapled together, balls and chains around her wrists, the heavy gold chain and clock around her neck, and a football helmet that wasn’t for a New York team.

Carl then turned and tossed something into the elevator he left, even as panicked civilians crowded past to escape. The doors closed and then a muffled blast blew up past them. The doors didn’t blow out, but they popped out toward us. The same went for other elevators. Might as well have a captive audience for what was about to happen.

With the floor and Dame secured and the guys setting up in what we figured were safe spots, I took to the air again. It wasn’t easy cutting through the building like that. I had to angle things just right so the upper floors, like 20 or something, slid off to crash on the streets and smaller buildings below.

The observatory level was finally open air. I settled the ‘Flasher at one corner of it and cooled my jets. Well, my rockets. And the barrel, too. I had to shut it down long enough for me to slip a little something onto the end of the barrel and tighten it up. Connect some hoses, that sort of thing. When I lit that mother up again, the new section on the end of the barrel glowed a brilliant yellow-white, like the sun.

An invisible heat ray may be one amazing, powerful thing, but I realized that if I was going to do this from atop a building, I’d need some way to keep it from dissipating to a warm breeze against the smaller buildings around. In fact, if I wanted to threaten the whole city, I’d need something like a miniature sun.

Well, the power source, a design from my own dimension, ought to be able to sustain it. If not, we’ll still see a lot of destruction and possibly a city rendered unlivable.

“For all those in attendance and the millions watching at home,” I spoke aloud and turned toward the assembled hostages, a number of whom had their phones out to record video of the occasion, “I have been hounded day after day, month after month, and this has gone on too long. Just think, without heroes coming after me, you’d have had a blown up Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island, as opposed to that messy spectacle in the city. What a danger they’ve become to you, your saviors. I’m here today for two reasons. Reason one: I want to make it perfectly clear to everyone that if you escalate against the great and devious Psycho Gecko, then I will take you to a land of hurt that you will not enjoy. Ooh yeah, I’ll tear your soul out and cast it down to an Abaddon of anguish that will make the heavens weep blood in heartrending sympathy for your unending abomination of an existence, and you will know what it’s like to drown in my bloodlust, to starve, to thirst, to pray to whatever deities you hold dearest in life…and not die.”

You could hear a pin drop. Burn the city down? Hell, I just chewed half of it up.

I sat down at the Heatflasher.

“What’s the other reason?” said a shaky voice. I turned to him and cranked up the volume on my suit’s speakers.

“To end this feud of ours, once and for all. Ahahahahaha!”

And that’s when the firing began. The Heatflasher took longer to fire this time, with the extended barrel glowing more yellowish in color. Suddenly, a glowing orange-yellow beam shot was just there out the barrel and poking through several office buildings. When I shifted the aim around, it sliced through streets and cars like they weren’t even there. Fires spread and ash flew. Steam rose as well from flash boiled water. Admittedly, it didn’t spread the heat around quite as well, but as the guy sitting on the machine doing all this, I was grateful for the ingenious bit of gadgetry that was pumping plasma into the landscape rather than all around me.

Boom! There went a meth lab. Sizzle! A butcher’s shop. Scramble! A semi full of eggs. Pop! A popcorn packing plant! When you’re lighting up the cops, the fun never stops.

I stopped firing and turned back around. I saw Carl and Moai getting me on camera. There was a very lucky news show in the city who just realized that the camera stolen while reporting on a cockfighting ring was giving them one hell of an exclusive.

“Hello out there in TV land, viewers. A very special hello to our heroes. Without their constant pressure, I doubt I’d have ever found myself in this position,” I said genially. I was having a good time at least. I got up and held my hand out to the area I’d burned in the distance. “This is fun. This is what I do when a team of heroes chases me day in and day out.” I then guided the camera around toward the people, including the bound Dame. “And these are people who are going to die. Including this little lady here, she’s a thief who knows the heroes a little bit. I don’t know why I brought her along now that I realize it was a busy day, but I figured it would add that special touch and really drive it home that air strikes on the observation deck are not a good idea.”

Yeah, Dame’s value was diminished somewhat by the good turnout, but it was still better than having her free and joining up with the heroes who had an ass-whooping in mind. The more the merrier, anyway.

And while it seemed counterintuitive to make sure the heroes were needed elsewhere but had to come here, that was also nice. Tear them in half using their heroic intentions. Plus, other heroes who have no business interfering will probably be down there instead of up here dealing with the guy who keeps defacing landmarks. I took the whole head off; you can’t argue Lady Liberty wasn’t defaced.

Still, I waited for them. And waited. And got impatient. And jumped back onto the ‘Flasher to burn this city like a disco inferno but Forcelight was there in all her glory to try and catch it. See, this is where something invisible works better than something putting off light. But, to my great delight, even she could hold up only briefly under the onslaught. I saw her duck out of the way, unable to hold back the destructive beam of plasma any longer.

Instead, Honky Tonk Hero swooped down at me from the side and tried to give me an el kabong right to the skull. He got me some, but I rolled with it. Could have sworn I felt things shaking, actually.

Honky Tonk lowered himself right in front of me and grabbed me by the neck. “Someone should have put you down long ago. You should have been taken out back as a child and drowned.”

It’s not like I was going to feel bad about this anyway.

I raised a hand slowly and pointed down for him to see the diamond and mirror bangle of Dame stuck in his pocket. He didn’t know what it was, but he grabbed for it with his other hand. I headbutted him in the eye, then threw a classic Elvis pseudo-martial arts punch to his throat. It got me out of his grip long enough for me to remotely activate the phase device. He dropped it a moment later, but it was too late. With Honky Tonk suddenly insubstantial, the wind was quick to push him away from the building. With the device no longer touching his body, I brought it back, nice and solid.

There was that shaking again, though. I looked over the edge of the building and saw Mecha Human Sloth climbing his way up. Where’s a gorilla when you need one? Oh, wait. I realized he had Gorilla Awesome, Troubleshooter, Mechamoto Musashi, Apollo, and Paveman clinging to his back. He must have been on a sugar rush from marshmallow cleanup duty.

“Okay, I need a volunteer…” I said and drifted off as I turned around. Moai and Carl were filming everything, but the crowd of hostages was gone. In their place was Raggedy Man. He knelt beside Dame, trying to help her out of the chains. I didn’t know how the hell he got up there. I’d torn the roof off. Not for him, just for fun, but still. “Yo, dawgs. Seize him and stuff. You know, if it’s convenient.” Moai followed my finger and went after Raggedy Man, who dove behind a column and disappeared into the shadows cast behind it. Huh. A mystery solved.

Still one massive mystery left: how to take out the giant robot superhero boyfriend mutant human-sloth guy whose girlfriend I apparently killed. I was already behind, though. I almost died from adjective poisoning.

My solution was one I didn’t want to use, as I’ve said before. The grey goo protocol. Not completely grey goo, though. They build themselves like crazy, but they still break down fairly quickly and don’t self repair. There’s a limit, in other words. I pulled out syringes of nanites and jabbed them into myself. As many as I could, save for one last one. Just in case.

I sent a signal to the first ones to link to me. It activated a program that involved spreading the activation to the others inside me. They then forced themselves out of me any way they could. Nose, mouth, ears, skin pores. They moved under my suit toward my right hand. I unsealed the glove and slipped it off. Shimmery grey liquid covered my hand and bulked up as more nanites joined those assembled. My hand formed into a liquid metal claw.

I looked for Mecha Human Sloth again. He was right under the edge where the Heatflasher rested. He grabbed it with one claw and pulled himself up with the other, sending my machine of mass destruction plummeting. He jumped and did a forward flip, landing on his feet and letting the ground-based heroes off. Gorilla Awesome and Troubleshooter had separated from him when he was in midair. Awesome hovered, but Troubleshooter lowered herself to the ground.

Couldn’t let them all come after me at once. I gave Human Sloth the “come here” motion with my nanite-covered hand.

“Alright, big fellow, let’s have us a little revenge versus wrath, shall we?”

He roared and charged. I cackled and jumped. My claw dug into him like he wasn’t even there. There was no armor. There was no flesh underneath. Just me hanging onto his collar, elbow deep in his chest. “Wait a minute, spread to the sides, there’s something I want,” I said to myself. The nanites dispersed, eating through Mecha Human Sloth. I grabbed a souvenir. When I pulled my hand out, his giant, inhuman heart came with it.

As he fell, though, I was greeted by a pretty horrible sight. Carl was held above the floor by his pants and underwear by one of Troubleshooter’s backpack waldo arms at an angle that showed his ass. There was no sign of Moai, but Gorilla Awesome was braced against the edge holding something up by his grappling hook.

Oh, and there were more heroes standing there. Black Raptor. Bright Star. Miss Tycism. Venus. Well. Shit.

“Tricky tricky heroes. My compliments on it, but it’s my turn,” I told them all, then vanished. They just stood there, holding their line.

That didn’t seem right. I projected bursts of light and four more of me stepping out of the explosions, laughing and holding swords.

No reaction.

Invisible, I walked right up to Miss Tycism and poked my hand through her. Hologram. Raptor was right next to her, so I tested him too. Turns out Raptor was not right next to her. I looked up and saw Troubleshooter looking harried and trying to program something on a keyboard attached to her multi-purpose backpack that just sat there on its tripod legs, trying to make my own eyes lie to me.

When I reappeared, it was right behind her, tearing at what I thought looked like important cables. I was right. Her backpack’s various tools and arms and gadgets stopped their moving, their whirling, their whizzing, and even their whirring.

Troubleshooter gave me a look full of incredulous shit when she realized I had her figured and helpless within arms reach. I’d have acted on it, but something kicked me from behind and nearly sent me off the building.

The cameras revealed a most unwelcome sight. The holograms were gone alright. All except for Venus. She was too busy trying to axe kick my neck to worry about how someone said she was dead.

I was off balance from her initial surprise, but I blocked that. Vulnerable position to be in, and I don’t just mean her and the axe kick. Mechamoto and Apollo crowded in while Paveman held Carl in a bear hug. I grabbed Venus and held her between myself and Mechamoto. Apollo’s hands gripped me from behind. Rather than start some slashfic material here, they smashed in my visor and reached in. He tore my helmet off me. I instinctively cranked the jumper in my left leg up and drove my foot back at crotch level. My tibia snapped.

I grabbed a fish stink grenade hanging off my belt and swiped aside Mechamoto’s sword as he circled and tried to find a way to more easily strike me without Venus in our way. He was distracted as a hole in the floor opened up under Paveman, causing Carl and Paveman to fall to the next floor down.

While he wasn’t focused on me, I armed the fish and chucked it at his head. He noticed it at the last minute and brought his sword up. It burst just as it touched his blade, enveloping him in a horrible stink.

I dragged Venus by her still-raised leg back toward me and parallel to the edge of the skyscraper to give me room. With my free hand, she and I traded and blocked blows, at least until I charged it up. Then I took a step in her direction and dumped her on the ground.

This felt familiar to me. I stepped forward and released Venus to the ground, but she wasn’t Venus anymore.

She was the woman I’d gotten involved with back on my world. We had argued, and that turned into an actual, physical fight. She didn’t want me to blow up the Dimensional Bomb, of all things. I grabbed her by the throat. A blade came out at me from nowhere, but I backhanded it. The energy built up in my glove released through the impact and snapped the blade. I used that hand to pummel her face again and again. She couldn’t understand either. None of them could. For them, it was a fight to be first if humanity wouldn’t allow them to be equals. I just hated this stupid world for all it had done to me.

“There is no place for me. They made me and refused to take responsibility for me. I tried to get over what I did, but none of them ever let me leave it behind. I was the government’s mistake, the Justice Rangers’ foe, the people’s great fear of us writ large. I’m done with their system and all their pettiness.”

I stood and pointed behind me. “I’d rather have my own system that means using this D-Bomb and taking us all out than see these hypocrites live. It’s on a strict timer, too. As soon as it drops to 0, that’s it.”

She kipped up, jumped, wrapped her legs around my neck, then back flipped. Where the fuck did she learn to do that? I fell to the ground and something cracked in my neck with a great pain. I lost feeling in everything below my neck as I settled in an odd position. Didn’t know my head could turn that far under the rest of my body. Couldn’t see anything though. Where the hell was I?

People talked nearby, a pair of voices, male and female.

“You alright?”


“I saw his eyes. It’s like he doesn’t know what’s going on.”

“I know. There is no bomb, so he’s talking about things that aren’t there. He’s talking in a weird accent, too.”

Something rolled me over. A gorilla. It talked. “He’s still alive, but I would be careful of moving him. My initial prognosis, and I’m not a medical doctor mind you, is that he has broken a cervical vertebra,” he said.

“No, we’re not,” one of the voices, a female, said to nobody in particular. “I don’t care, Gunman. Don’t start that Lone Gunman crap with me either. He’s out of the fight. I don’t care how big a rifle it is, I’m not going to let you shoot his heart out and watch him die.”

More people seemed to be showing up as the gorilla examined me. I had some odd urge to tell him to get his paws off me because he was damned and dirty.

One of these strange people climbed out of the floor, “They’re down there somewhere. Waiting to try and save him, I reckon. What, we won this one?”

The gorilla was pushed aside by a man made of marble who hauled on my arm, got underneath it, and lifted me to my feet. I still didn’t have that good of a view because of how my head drooped over. “I’m with Lone Gunman on this one. Take the shot,” said my manhandler.

“No!” ordered a glowing woman in white and black tights as she landed. “We can’t do that.”

“Why, because we’re better than that? He killed your father!” Apollo said with voice raised. Sensitive to that sort of thing?

“Yes, I know there’s nothing most of us would love to do more right now than give him an execution, but we can’t just yet. You hear me, Gunman? Stand down.”

Venus spoke up. “You can’t be serious Aneta.” Right, Forcelight’s civilian name.

“I am.”

“About killing him?” Venus questioned the team’s powerhouse.

“Your boyfriend looks like a flock of vultures ate him for a buffet. He’s goo and bones! You were willing to stand there when that happened to stop him, but you won’t go the rest of the way? Venus, after everything he’s done, why wouldn’t you kill him?” Forcelight made her case for my death.

“Because as bad as this all is, as much as I want to set him on fire and beat his head in with a brick, I’m not going to start acting just like him! You really want to do things his way? If so, then he’s your future.”

There was silence. This was all good and dramatic, but I still couldn’t see shit.

“Moot point at the moment, anyway. Is he unconscious?”


Marble hands grabbed my head and nodded it for me.

“Good. You know I’ve been meeting with that Good Doctor man. I figured I’d at least hear what he has to claim about me. If it’s a trick, he tricked Gecko there too. He warned me about doing anything rash if we got our hands on him.”

The man holding me up, whose name was just on the tip of my tongue, gave an exasperated sigh. “Why?”

“Because whatever powered that laser, and I don’t know how stable it is, but whatever did that and didn’t show any signs of running low, he’s got one in his chest. The Doctor’s seen it in there. That’s why we never found a reactor or a battery. If Gunman puts holes in him, he might get it too. If we start doing things to him, that thing might go up and take this whole building with it, at least.”

“More like the whole block,” said Troubleshooter.

At least if Doc’s ratting me out, he’s saying things that are keeping these assholes from killing me. Trust me, the great and devious Psycho Gecko makes damn sure his personal reactor isn’t going up the first time I crack my head.

Yeah, I’m back from Lala land, aka the land that time forgot and would prefer to not think about, and activating the transmitter and receivers I’d set up for just this situation once upon a time. We’re up to that point I mentioned earlier, about facing off against heroes with no way to fight back. My present tense. So I can feel again and move again. The question is how do I move out of here?

“Y’all need to shut up already,” says Raggedy Man as he approaches with the phase bangle in his hand. “Someone’s got you on camera right now. Everyone watching the news just heard everything you said about executing a guy!”

Times like these, I love my minions.

Raggedy Man lifts my other arm to take the weight off Apollo. “And for God’s sake, he broke his neck and you’re dancing him around like a puppet? Do you know what people think of you right now?”

My arm shoots out, not quite as naturally as it normally would, and grabs the bangle while I stumble forward out of the grasp of the surprised heroes. “Yeah, they think the camera adds 10 lbs…in the testicles. Especially you, Venus.”

“Another trick,” one of them says accusingly. If only they knew. Hell, I’d rather they didn’t. I’d much rather I knew what I was about to do, because my options for escape look nonexistent. Except if I try the unthinkable. Ah hell, it’s worked for me so far.

I activate the phase mechanism and everything loses its color, its substance. It’s like a drawing that the artist hasn’t colored in. I look down to see what all it had done to my armor and find it warping as my body expands, pushing out against it. Adverse reaction to my current state and the power core in my chest that’s filling me with energy now. Fist-sized holes appear in my armor, but do nothing to hurt me or even move me. I glance back along their trajectories to a lower skyscraper. Lone Gunman, the lost lil Holdout. He finally gets his shot, but I’m immune to bullets when it happens.

Defiant, I tear at the holes, pulling the chest portion of my armor apart. Looking down at my chest, I see the reactor isn’t fully phased. It pumps energy along my bio-technological nerves. My brain, my cybernetic enhancements, my armor. They connect to everything my power works on.

I’m pretty much an energy being. The generator lost containment and is filling my ethereal form with energy, enough that I maintain cohesion and even tear through my own armor with ease. The heroes grow smaller and smaller. Forcelight raises her non-smoking arm, the one that isn’t hanging limp by her side, and starts concentrating light to try and hit me or shoot me. I throw a punch at her and she releases early to try and meet it.

She goes flying.

Cool as fuck.

Hey, that just halted my growth for a moment, but I’m back to expanding now. Anyone else got the image of a balloon filled to bursting in their heads right about now?

I hope Moai and Carl are running like hell by now. I turn and tiptoe to a support beam that I’d sheared off above my head. It’s now significantly below that. No need to pay attention to the puny heroes any more. They are no threat.

There’s a more important threat I have to deal with. I need to lose a lot of energy in a hurry, then deactivate this device. I raise my arm up and bring my fist down with everything I have on the support that runs deeper into the building.

The floor, and my size, fall sharply. So do the next floor and the next after that, and so on. There’s dust everywhere and I’m lost in the middle of the collapse, falling and landing and getting landed on. I can’t see or hear anyone else, but I feel like I’m about the right size.

No way am I changing back right now, but –

***Connection lost. Archiving transmission. Preparing transfer. Transfer complete.***

***Waiting for connection***




Arete in Destruction 8

Ah, Thanksgiving. Carl had it with his own family, I heard. Thanks to the bank job, he actually got to have one this year. A Thanksgiving dinner, I mean, not a family. I hear there are hookers you can pay for that sort of thing, though. Can you believe that guy had to make due with a ham sandwich a couple years back? Something about having his kids for the meal on a year when he didn’t have money for a big dinner. The kids got taken to dinner. Carl got a ham sandwich back at his apartment.

It’s a good thing crime pays. Compared to the regular economy, there’s a greater chance to climb the financial ladder and move into a new class.

So, yeah, he was off taking that break so soon after he decided he was working for me. I don’t mind, though. I like to keep things casual. The only thing more surprising about the attack on my prior base was that they didn’t catch me wearing nothing but boxer shorts.

Oh, while we’re on the subject of some recent history, I’ve got a few updates to make on people’s conditions. It’s been hard to get good information, especially with Shieldwall turtling after the attacks on Black Raptor and Miss Tycism. There’s been no sign of Venus, Raptor, Bright Star, or Miss Tycism. Even with the others coming out in groups and watching their hidey holes better than ever, those are out of the spotlight completely. I certainly hope I don’t see Miss Tycism floating around again after killing her.

I was sure they’d turtled when I tried going after the Honky Tonk Hero on Wednesday, but he had already high-tailed it to safer grounds. They’d been alerted by that time. I knew it was a possibility, but I was hesitant to go out immediately after that mindfuckeroonie by the late Miss Tycism. I was real close to calling up by buddy Max on the big video screen and asking him to prescribe me something to put me in my proper state of mind, like some LSD.

I didn’t do it. I decided the best way to confront a hero’s attempted disruption of my neurological makeup, or whatever she did, was to jump back on the horse before it was finished throwing me off. Like, maybe I grabbed the saddle, slid under its belly, hooked the stirrup, and then jumped up onto the saddle using impressive kung fu movie wire work. It’d have to be a horse not capable of having an erection, though.

So that is why I ran off to try and hunt down the singing superman, Honky Tonk Hero to my eventual disappointment. I considered blowing up the rooms he rented above a bar with a country music karaoke night, but instead I settled for ruining karaoke night. It was horrible. There was wailing and gnashing of teeth. And that was just my attempt to sing “Friends in Low Places”. You should have heard what the poor bar patrons sounded like. The whole place got shut down after there was enough puke for authorities to claim the food was tainted. Perhaps I’ll go there again when they reopen it. Do a nice soliloquy. I hear that you can’t truly enjoy Hamlet until you’ve heard it in the original Klingon.

I took the day off from going out and blowing shit up and focused on the important things in life. Like the rocket-powered heat ray.

I had a dinner as well. Before the day itself I’d had Carl order, pick up, and refrigerate a turkey and ham from some place that prepares them for people. Reheating it all to eat was as easy as a low-power test of the Heatflasher. I had my share of it, then wheeled it on a cart with some whiskey to a group of homeless guys hanging around these barrel fires nearby.

Oh, and to those who think this story you’re reading is one of redemption just because I’m a bad guy who helps a few people, not only are you wrong, but you’re deliberately missing the point.

A good example of this would have to be the assault on the Shieldwall workshop on Black Friday. Black, for the color of mourning. Or the color of businesses turning a major profit instead of a loss.

In a manner quite unlike how I normally start such an attack, I brought nature’s fury to bear against this big zoo right there by the big park in the middle of Empyreal City. It all started innocently enough, with me using helpful brochure provided by the zoo to help me in my nefarious plan. Originally it was just a plan to attack the primate enclosure. The nefariousness of it came from the C4 being used to fire trees at the building and fences from outside the zoo. More nefariousness came from my use of the brochure’s map to aim.

Plus, you know, the kilt. I was in the kilt with the beret. I’d gotten golf shoes for the occasion. Moai held the golf bag full of C4 while Carl sat bundled up behind the wheel of the cart.

It wasn’t all fun and games.

I remember watching as the tree I’d just blown into the sky flew at a bad angle.

“Come on, turn, turn, turn…I think the wind got that one, boys,” I said and grabbed a hefty branch left behind near the crater. I tried to snap it over my knee, but all I managed was an intense ache in my leg. Instead, I had to settle for throwing my club.

Then I whipped out the brochure map and perused it to figure out where it might have gone. The camel pen. I turned toward my caddy and driver and informed them of the bad news, “It’s in the sand trap. I’m going to have to go for a mulligan.”

I got better. A couple tries later, I got a birdie! Probably a lot of birdies, actually, seeing as the tree was reported by the news as plowing into the penguin exhibit. It looked like some of the birds were going to make a break for it, but in the end they all got cold feet.

From there, the three of us made our way to the nearest Best Buy. We had abandoned the golf cart for Carl’s crappy car. Mine was still impounded as the police who still weren’t sure it was mine. Looking back, I guess I could have driven it out remotely, but that’s easier said than done when you’re being pursued.

Once there around back by a side entrance directly to the Geek Squad work area in the back of the store, I got out and popped the trunk. I tossed the clothes to Carl and Moai. Carl held up the shirt. “Boss, do I need to wear this?”

“Of course. It’s a disguise. They may think you’re some sort of thug if you just walk in there dressed as you are. This will confuse them. They would never expect an attack by these people. They’re normally such a gentle folk.”

So we were all suited up. Carl, who was about 6 foot and a thick combination of fat and muscle, was wearing a shirt with some My Little Pony on it. A purple one with a horn and streaks in her hair. He had a beard strapped to his neck as well.

Moai wore a white button-down shirt with a pocket protector, and an oversize pair of thick glasses.

I sported an orange shirt with the symbol of the Orange Lantern Corps. emphasized in the middle of a lineup of the various Lantern Corps. symbols. I also wore a fedora.

I rushed in with a sledgehammer and threw it into a monitor on the floor near a work table. Carl ran in behind me and knelt down by the door, wielding a supersoaker. He aimed at some towers lined up on shelves. Moai jumped burst in through the wall and tackled the work table.

After the high-pitched screaming was finished, the Nerd Squad techs we gathered up cowered before us as was only right and proper to ones dressed such as us. “What do you want?” asked one of them. I didn’t bother to remember which one. The one who looked like a Mormon.

“You have wiped and reset our systems instead of fixing the viruses for the last time, you code-crapping keyboard honkies!”

“Please, show mercy!”

At their pleading, I nodded to Carl. He fired the squirt gun at the towers, drenching them in Mountain Dew Code Red. The drink of Type 2 Diabetic champions. “Y’all look backed up around here. Can’t run a regular virus scan and then give up fast enough, eh?” I walked over to the monitor I’d destroyed earlier. It had skidded some when Moai crashed the place. I picked it up and faced the prisoners. “You know what’s good for helping you when you’re too backed up?” Carl began to laugh as I rubbed the head of the hammer on my shirt, shining it up. “An enema,” I told them with a wicked grin.

As I said before, those were clues. Clues about who I wanted to hit and clues to give me an idea where they were. To my surprise, the two I’d wanted were holed up together in their own little workshop.

Monkeywrench Mechanics. Nice touch for the building that Troubleshooter and Gorilla Awesome were working out of. I drove up on my pink scooter, the Minstrel, and scouted it out. Motion sensors, laser sensors, tripwires, pressure plates, and banana peels. Actually, the peels might have been because Gorilla Awesome was hungry.

I considered a plan of attack, then called Carl. “Yo, Carl.”

“Hey boss.”

“Can you fly a helicopter?”

“Uh, no.”

“Well then, this is about to get interesting.”

I had no idea what countermeasures those fiendishly clever hero minds were coming up with down there, but I knew one way to foil them. It involved Moai driving a truck full of marshmallows while Carl enjoyed a scenic tour of the city that passed right overhead. The pilot was paid not to ask why someone wanted an aerial tour in such a big chopper with so many marshmallows crammed in. From how Carl put it, even if you added a horse in there, it wasn’t the strangest request he’d ever gotten.

As for me, I got back to Monkeywrench Mechanics just after them. I had to get back to the base and grab the Heatflasher. Let’s get field testin’.

Moai’s presence drew Gorilla Awesome out to investigate, but a quick blast of invisible heat scoured him of fur and left him scrambling to get inside. Moai hopped out of the cab of the truck and around to the back and began to toss marshmallows to the roof of the building. I focused on opening a hole in the roof with the heat ray. The roof exploded outward and downward in flaming chunks as I overheated it to dangerous levels. Flaming, melted marshmallow goop from the few Moai had tossed up there fell in as well. I called Carl for the signal.

He dumped all the marshmallows over the building. I reduced the power to the Heatflasher so the test itself wouldn’t wreck it and fired away, liquefying and lighting aflame the falling gooey goodness.

Gorilla Awesome roared in pain as my hot white goo clung to him and burned him. Troubleshooter tried to light into the air, but something clogged in her backpack and she tumbled down into the building.

With my weapon working again and so many of the heroes off their game, it’s time to move into the endgame.

Next time, this city and Shieldwall all burn. Season’s greetings, motherfuckers.



Arete in Destruction 7

It looks like I have a new minion and this one fits in a lot better than Moai. Admittedly, Moai gets a lot fewer looks than you’d think for a giant bouncing Moai, but he has weight and size problems.

So I have Carl now. You may remember him as the robber who called me “Psycho” and threatened the tellers. Moai seemed cool to hear about it. He’s finally feeling better, I think. The cracks are all closed up on him. A little thick, I’ll admit, but I’ve got the brains and Moai has the stones. All we’d need is some beauty and we might have a full-fledged team.

Speaking of beauty, next time I see Dame, I’m going to show her a nice recording of Venus giving up her name to me, the marvelously maligned Psycho Gecko.

Eh…that’s kinda iffy. Maybe I can get away with calling myself great and devious, but marvelously maligned is a bit of a stretch unless I start carrying around a staff. On the plus side, I could rock a bitchin’ visor…hmmm. Nah, not worth it. Those types always wind up surrounded by incompetent subordinates who do nothing but screw up their otherwise-great plans to conquer the world.

Ah yes, speaking of plans, I put some in action to deal with my own rogue’s gallery of heroes. Or would you call that a Robin’s gallery?

Nonetheless, I set out to do some damage to the heroes assembled against me. Or should I say, disassembled. With the jet down, travel time has greatly increased for the heroes. Sure, Forcelight and Honky Tonk Hero can zip anywhere they want, but even the more mobile Gorilla Awesome, Black Raptor, and Troubleshooter can’t make other states in any sort of timely matter.

That was the point, after all. It reminds me of a story, though it’ll probably make about as much sense to you as any of the others. See, these Mongols were facing a numerically superior force, so they fled. And fled. And fled. The enemy went after them, exhausting themselves and separating their force as some lagged behind others. So the Mongols turned around and killed them piece by piece.

From my reconnaissance, I can also tell they’re not all in the same spot. With Long Life no longer so friendly to the team, they can’t just go around commandeering labs and office buildings. Maybe they could scrounge up enough money to rent such a space, but who knows what bills are piling up. At the very least, they need some cool cars for transportation until they get a new jet, if they’re going to get a new jet.

This is a big city, too. With my base gone and my new headquarters unknown, I was betting on them splitting up some to handle patrols and any Gecko-related incidents. My petty crimes helped confirm that one.

Now, at the end of the day, finding out where a hero lays his head is as simple as following them home. That’s made incredibly easy if you can turn invisible and zoom in with your helmet. So I have a few boltholes down.

First one up to bat: the lovely Miss Tycism. I love picking on her. It’s not even about tearing her loincloth off yet again. It’s the magic. Magic sucks. There are some theories out there by psychiatrists who believe that there are four different conceptions of the universe for each of the various power classifications. They’re trying to find out if it all has to do with viewpoints so fundamentally different in thinking that it provokes an instinctive opposition to it. Mystical, like Miss Tycism or Captain Flamebeard, opposes technological, like Troubleshooter or Miss Communication. Biological, like Venus or Breakdown, in opposition to scientific, like Forcelight or Ouroboros. As a bit of an odd quirk, Scientific was originally going to be just Chemical instead, but then there was all the radiation that started causing stuff.

They like to do it up like a + or an X so that each opposing source of power is across from its nemesis. Magic and technology are well known for opposition between each side, but neither of them seem to oppose natural or scientific. Biological and scientific also dislike each other like a jock on a beach kicking sand in a 1950s nerd’s face, but once again, there’s crossover with the perpendicular axes. There is, after all, a strong link between science and technology, but there was also stuff like alchemy for a long time. As for the biological types, who are naturally so good, there’s nothing stopping them from using a magic sword or power armor that they didn’t create and don’t understand.

And then, what muddies the whole thing up is that you just don’t always know. How can Good Doctor see inside people or through things? I don’t know. Could be a strange genetic mutation that would give evolutionary scientists a hard-on, or it could be exposure to strange environmental factors like a chemical spill. What exactly is Max’s power from? Hell if I know. His concoctions seem like magic to me, but he seems to think he’s being scientific about it in his own way.

That’s why I prefer to suggest that any psychiatrists who spend too long theorizing about all this instead go get a nice set of happy pills from the psychiatrists who actually see patients. Especially when they start trying to figure out where psychic powers fit in all this. Nothing gives a psychiatrist a headache like a psychic.

Now that long explanation that was quite out of the way of this little tale is why I snuck into Miss Tycism’s friend’s house with some dogs from that dog-fighting ring I set up and let them go to town. It’s been awhile since those mutts have had something as soft as a pillow between their legs. What? I’m letting them roam free, aren’t I?

It’s not like I did this to get caught anyway. I had this little doohickey attached to the living room TV that blocked the frequencies that Venus’s communicator used. I guess they didn’t change them since the bank job. Miss Tycism’s friend was nice and quiet for me thanks to the gag in her mouth and Tycism, as I like to call her when I get tired of saying the whole thing, was scheduled to be returning from her normal patrol hours. Right on time, she stepped over that threshold and onto the offwhite carpet to find me there, sitting on the red leather couch with a pack of scarred dogs surrounding me.

“Sup, dawg?” I said. Then I pointed at her and activated the pre-programmed whistle because I never learned, ok? There, are you happy?! There’s at least one more thing I, the great and devious Psycho Gecko, am not an expert at.

So the dogs charged her. There was Zeus and Thor and Butch and Mack. Her hands pulsed briefly with purple energy and knocked the dogs back. No harm was done to them, but they kept coming. They were dodging some of the blasts too. I had to roll off the couch as a stray one knocked it through the door into the kitchen. Tsk tsk. You’re not supposed to bake a sofa in the oven like that, but she gets points for trying to make it fit.

She was keeping the jaws from clamping on her when she finally realized she could back up. She threw two blasts at once, flinging Zeus and Mack into Butch and Thor, then moved out of view from the door. They bunched up at the door and she pulled together some sort of purple sphere she’d created in that span of time, trapping them all and lifting them off the ground. She touched the sphere and pulled forth a purple line of the same energy and tied it to the railing outside. The dogs floated outside like some sort of vicious purple balloon.

I figured she’d take her time knowing I was in the house. Even with her friend inside, she’d probably do some chanting and whip up a big spell that would cause my testicles to suddenly be pulled out of a hat in Las Vegas. I don’t wanna have to throw those things over my shoulder like a continental soldier because they hang so low!

I threw myself out a side window and circled around. Another thing I wasn’t doing, I wasn’t running out that front door into some sort of magic missile even with invisibility on. Except she thought to run inside. Huh. Maybe I should have gone with my other idea to wait inside for her. At least I knew where she was headed.

I leapt up and grabbed on to the window sill and siding outside the bedroom I stuffed her friend in. Took her a few seconds to run in with some scroll thing in her hands. She must have paid a visit to her bedroom. I was losing containment big time on this one. I slammed my head and shoulders into the window, rolled through, and got to my feet with a fist headed right for her head.

And then I was dead. Somehow, the certainty of my death was just there, in my thoughts.

It was all just nothingness. No sights, no sounds, no feeling of a body. Not even numbness to let me know I had a body there. Time dragged on in utter oblivion with only my own thoughts to keep me company.

Luckily I didn’t have a bladder or bowels to empty at the time. Or a body to shake. And if any of y’all spread around that I said that, I’ll fucking cut you! I’ll do it! I’ll cut you with a damn squirrel.

So I was left alone with just my thoughts, and that’s how I figured out something was wrong.

I sent off commands to a part of me I couldn’t even feel. I told the computerized portion of my brain to look for nearby video sources. It’s possible to hijack a phone’s camera, but the real dirty secret involves all the webcams left unsecured. If you’ve got one, you’d better make damn sure it’s off and secured from wireless intrusion. Suddenly, audio and visual broke through from the friend’s laptop. With it came the sudden realization that I could feel my cybernetic parts and the suit.

The friend was freed and waving her hand back and forth in front of my helmet while I stood stock still. “Wow, that spell froze him?”

“Not unless his worst fear was being frozen. I would try and read his mind, but he’s got some sort of psychic interference. Come on, get out of here. I’ve got to alert the rest of the team, and even that won’t slow him down,” explained Miss Tycism to her friend. She rolled the scroll she held back up even as it darkened and smoked. She tossed it out the door of the room and away from my view.

“Hey take my picture!” she said and stood right in front of my left fist. She brought hers up like it would uppercut me in the chin.

“Don’t disturb him. That spell is very sensitive to outside forces. You don’t want to set him loose.” She checked her belt. “It might be quicker for me to use your phone…aha!”

I tested those receivers I had installed in my spine. They were designed to allow me to circumvent having my neck or back broken, so I hoped they’d be of use this time. No such luck. They still had to send signals along nerves that were technically organic.

There was still one part of my suit I could activate, though. I sent a command and a Nasty Surprise turned the posing pal’s throat into a blood fountain.

I was forced out of my mystical imprisonment by a distraught Miss Tycism trying to throw me out the window with one of those purple repulsion blasts while she knelt by her friend. I ducked into an illusion of invisibility and slid to the side. I ran at her at an angle. As I got close, I set one foot on her knee and brought the other up into her face. She fell back with a broken and bloody nose. I didn’t let her go down, though. I grabbed her by the hair and leaned out of the way of various blasts she sent into the ceiling. Dust from smashed drywall drifted down over us as I took her chin in my other hand and… “Oh snap! You just got served.”

I checked the downed communicator. It had an error message… “Lost connection.”
I grabbed the jammer before I left. Someone was bound to find the place before long and report it. I could still deal with another good guy before they called in a warning.

Next was Black Raptor. The guy was only able to commute to work with the team thanks to the jet. Sure, he’s got wings on that exoskeleton, but he’s from Florida and here we are in Empyreal City, New York. That’s a long migration.

And it’ll be even longer now.

Raptor was busy chatting away on his cell phone with his kids when I arrived. He was in civilian garb. The exoskeleton hung in his bedroom closet and the molded protective armor and tights were strewn over the bed.

“Don’t worry, babies. Daddy has lots of days to save. I’ll be back soon.”

That’s when I jumped through the window, grabbed him by the throat, and slammed him against the wall. The phone dropped from his hands in his struggles to get loose. “I don’t think so, bird boy.”

I couldn’t help myself. A malevolent cackle escaped me. I was taking my time with him. Oh yeah, I put him through the wringer. I tossed him onto the nightstand, breaking a wall light on his backside. I threw the motel TV at him and embedded it in the yellow drywall. I chased him, slammed the door on him when he tried to open it and escape, then followed him into the bathroom where I broke his boxer shorts off with a wedgie. When they broke, he went down face first into the toilet for a swirly. Good thing he flushed last time. When I yanked him out of the water, I spun him around and threw him into the wall by the shower. He broke through and landed in the closet. I stepped through after him as he tried to crawl out and dropped the little safe on his back.

I picked it up again and held it over my head. Raptor turned over on his back to look up at me, begging me through the defeat cocktail of water, tears, snot, and blood that drenched his face.

I don’t know why I stopped. I just know that I saw a face from really long ago. The oldest memory I have of a different father begging. Probably just some leftover mind whammy from Miss Tycism’s headgame. I tossed the safe aside and reached down. His shirt tore as I pulled him up a little. “You love those kids so much, maybe you ought to be there for them instead of off playing hero. One of us will leave town here in the next day, you hear? If I go, you’ll find me in Paradise City, playing villain.” To add emphasis to this threat, I turned and brought out the Nasty Surprise to cut through the joints of his exoskeleton. When I’d left him with nothing but pieces of it, I went over and cut his tights in half.

That’s not to say I lost my will to kill someone. With my mind fucked over like that, though, the person I most desired to kill was unfortunately beyond my reach thanks to me snapping her neck.



Arete in Destruction 6

Readers, I know how much you enjoy having your faces stuck in horrified positions, so allow me to start off this update by revealing that yes, I have been quite naughty these past couple of days.

“Ha ha ha ha, HA!”

“What is it with you and all the laughter?” asked Venus from where she was chained to a good, solid column.

“Spoilsport. It’s not every day that the great and devious Psycho Gecko takes a hero hostage with such an ingenious plan as this! Oh, you’d swarm me as a team if I showed up, but a mundane criminal in a mundane bank robbery? A lone hero ought to do it. At least until I go upside your head when you’re not looking. Ahahaha!”

“I wish you hit me hard enough to make me deaf you squealing cliché factory. Shouldn’t you be in a Saturday morning cartoon somewhere?” Oh that Venus. She’s a rambunctious little ball buster, isn’t she?

“For being the only one who will talk to me, the one to try and show up and thwart me the most, why do you not like me? Is it my teeth? I work very hard keeping these things top notch,” I said and unlocked my helmet. I lifted it off and reached up into my mouth, gave a twist, and yanked out a tooth. “Look at this! What’s not to like about these pearly whites?” I smiled at her, blood dripping down my chin.

Aww, snap, that’s right. We’re starting en media res here. Getting fancy around here. Fancy pants. So fancy, I ought to get them their own monocle. Curly mustache. A top hat! I even know how I can keep the top hat up using nothing but a rubber band, blood pressure, and my own natural –

“You disgust me, but I know you can be reasoned with. It’s unusual reason, but it’s there,” she said, sounding bored. Not even worried.

“Like in the diner?”

“It was better that we knew where you were than let you run loose. We were setting up an ambush by text besides.”

I nodded and stood, then paced back and forth, tossing the tooth over my shoulder where it bounced against a thug in a mask. “Hey, uh, boss. Psycho. Can we take the money yet?” He waved his submachine gun, some black thing with lots of ammo and horrible aim. The gun, I mean.

“Not yet, not yet. Sh sh sh sh sh. Go stand over there near the tellers. Threaten them about something. Use your imagination.”

He walked over toward the teller windows in front of which one of his buddies had lined them up. He raised his gun into the air and fired a short burst, then yelled, “Alright, I want those free pens! Lots of them! I want them to write red, too!”

I turned toward Venus, “He makes me so proud. I don’t normally have minions, but I was able to recruit pretty well since they figured I was a regular criminal mastermind and I wasn’t going through the supervillain channels.”

“Smart,” she said, squirming against the chains, “by the way, what kind of lock did you use on this again?”

“The Chastity5000. Certified by the Vatican, Answers in Genesis, and Southern Baptist Convention to be nigh impregnable. Perfect for keeping daughters impregnable when used on doors, windows, and special metal underpants. Speaking of things being clamped shut, how about you do some jaw flapping and tell me how you knew it was me in the diner? I’ve been just a-wondering about it.”

“That’s what this robbery’s about, isn’t it? You pretended to be some regular criminal and set up a bank job hoping I’d show up to stop it?” she answered, countering my question with another question. Or did she? Yes, she really did.

“Don’t sell me short. I set up a dogfighting ring and kidnapped a reality star too. Nice to see Raptor’s hips are back in their proper position after the rocket. I was considering sending him a fruit basket. Pineapple. Bananas. Oranges. The most evil of tropical fruits, that is. Then I remembered I hated him and wanted him to die.”

“Petty, aren’t we? Think you could hand me my communicator? I dropped it over by the rope post you whacked me with.”

“Oh, this one over here?” I asked as I walked over to the red carpet and grabbed the cellphone sized-communicator. I grabbed the post too and swung it over my shoulder as I stepped over the grey and white checked floor toward the column with my prisoner. “Here you go, my dear,” I held it out in front of her face. She leaned out and opened her mouth to speak. I brought the post down and caught her in the cheek, her brown hair looked so beautiful as it swayed through the air. Her teeth skidded along the floor toward that same thug from earlier. She looked so cute with blood on her face.

The robber glanced down at the teeth, then whipped a young teller with the butt of his gun. The young man sprawled on the floor as the thug yelled at the rest, “What kinda place are you running here, can’t even keep the floor clean?” I like that man. He’s going to get a raise when this is all over, unless I kill him. And if I kill him, I’m paying for him to have a special box, with packing tape and shit, maybe draw on it with a marker. A red marker.

I knelt by the hurt heroine. “Now, let me level with you. This time, it’s not coincidence or your own impetus that caused this little chat. See, your buddy said something the other day, a statement about motivations. Thing is, he’s rather uncompromising regarding me. And he didn’t know it was me at first. You, though, you did, AND,” I reached out and softly tapped the end of where her nose would be under the mask, “you’re smart. Unfortunately, unlike most people I like to interrogate, you have very little I can exploit. What am I going to do, stab your parents’ corpses? So no one I can hurt except your boyfriend. Last time I killed him, y’all just brought him back. Stole my tech to do it, by the way, you bastard. But you have a duty. You have to protect people.”

“You’ll never-” she started before I shut her up with a boot to the head.

“I know you’re better than this in any sort of fair fight, but this isn’t a situation you can kick ass to escape from. Anyway, I don’t actually know for sure that Dame is who told you, but I know she knew where my base is. I also know where she is. I have a deal for you. Maybe you know how I am about deals, maybe you don’t. Here it is: if I leave here without an answer about who gave you my face, then you’ll be able to find her location, too, though it’ll be six feet lower. Give me the name and she’ll live.” I made sure to record from this point on.

She considered me, hair hanging down over her face and sticking to the blood under her mouth. That look was almost perfect on her but for the chains. She deserves to be free. Fly free, little Venus.

“No matter what happens, you won’t go after her?” she asked.

“No matter what. Untouchable for the whole rest of this year at least. Won’t hold any grudges against her over this little misunderstanding, in fact.”

Her eyes drilled into me and she made her decision, “It’s a deal.”

I reached toward her and pretended to shake someone’s hand in front of her. “That name?”

“It was Dame. She told us all where you were hiding. She and I had some common ground and she gave me a picture of your latest face.”

That’s that. I put my helmet back on. “Alright, boys, pack up your money! Now where’s my bag from when I was disguised as the rest of y’all? Apologies for the deception, by the way, but not even y’all could be allowed to know it was me in on this. Oh, thank you, thugperson,” I announced as my favorite of these henchpeople brought the duffel bag out for me. I opened it just enough to flip a few switches on the device inside, a nasty little thing with a penchant for exploding in 4 minutes and 57 seconds. It has a fancy digital clock on it, too, that will count down from 12 minutes. It’s got some nice wires on it as well. There’s a bright red wire going right to the clock. Clip that and it’ll defuse it. The clock, I mean. The bomb will still go off on time.

I dropped it on the ground and raised my hands in the air. “Now folks, inside this bag is a little something special from me to all of you. See, right about now, there are a lot of cops out there. Probably a few more heroes, not that that’s a problem,” I turned and gave Venus a look at that last sentence, to the laughter from some of the muscle I hired and pretended to be like. “You’ve all been well-behaved, which is good. After all, none of you are losing money unless you’re rich enough to afford it. The government automatically insures your money up to a couple hundred thousand dollars. Trust me when I say that I don’t care enough about your lives to bother with ending them, but I will need one of you to come with me and the boys long enough to verify for the police that I have both a bomb and detonator!”

There were screams as soon as I said bomb, followed by loud gasps as I whipped out an old handheld game that I’d spraypainted to look genuinely mind- and bomb-blowing.

“Now, any volunte- whoa, not everyone at once,” I said as I was swarmed by people wanting to get out of there. I tried to pick out the person dressed the nicest, overlooking lots of regular folks and even a woman holding a toddler in her arms. I found myself grabbing a middle-aged man with a large bald spot on his pate. I motioned to the nearest robbers and then to this man. They grabbed him by the arms and dragged him in front of me. “Hey there, little fella. What’s your name?”

“Theophile Zebulon Ylgnampozqook.”

“The fuck? You want to run that by me again, but in an Earth language this time?”

“Theophile Zebulon Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.”

“Wow, that sounded like summoning an Old One. I have no clue,” I looked up at my henchmen. “Any of y’all get that? Anyone?” Then I looked down at the guy in the suit and said with a shrug, “Alright, you’re my hostage now since you’re a white guy with money. Your name is Bob now for convenience.” I pointed over to the woman with the baby. “That kid’s coming with us, and you will hold it with its mouth pointed toward you. You even think of running, that baby will spew like a can of beer. Let go of him, boys.”

They released Bob and, to his credit, he followed orders. He went over to the woman and said something reassuring. She handed over the kid.

I grabbed him by the back of the neck and led him to the doors while the crap-making machine began to cry. I activated my regular bankrobber disguise. “You know, the problem with this is that they might shoot if we’re all spread out,” I mused to myself. Then I turned back to the thugs. “Line up behind Bob and me, guys. Don’t dawdle, boys. She’ll be out of there in seconds and she punches like a drunken football player.”

“Regular football or American football?” asked one of my robbers that had a British accent.

“Hell if I know. Whichever one punches in the balls more often. Wait a minute, speaking of balls…lightbulb! I have an idea!”

“Dun dun dun dun dun, hey! Dun dun dun dun dun, hey!” The robbers and I danced in a conga line with Bob and the kiddo heading us up. There were indeed many cops and one or two local heroes. I ignored all but a police sergeant who approached ahead of the barricades. I jumped out from behind Bob as we got close. “Hey!”

He was startled, but not enough to escape from me shaking his hand and briefly shoving the handheld in his face. “Now, before you can say anything, just to be clear, we have a bomb. It’s in the bank. This is the remote. Bob here was just for getting us out here to make this very important point before you let us go, because this thing’s on a deadman’s switch. You don’t want to make us dead men.”

“You really expect me to just let you go?”

I didn’t even acknowledge what he said. ”You also don’t want to make us nervous enough to accidentally drop this thing by doing anything stupid like sending cars or helicopters or superheroes to follow us. You agree?”

Resigned, he nodded.

I addressed my minions next, “Good. I hate long negotiations. Alright, boys, let’s blow this joint.” I turned back to the sergeant, “Not that way. Oh, and by the way, officer, I need to report a kidnapping. Arrest that man. That is NOT his baby.”

We left Bob and the cops to get things sorted out. We didn’t have time to worry about false charges. We were too busy being delicious and sauntering out past a bunch of people who wanted to take us down. Yeah, suck it, coppers. You been hit by, you been struck by, a smooth criminal.

And I must say, the whole thing’s given me an idea. Sure, Venus probably survived when that building went up, but she’s pissed. I want her to be pissed. I want the heroes mad enough to tear me to pieces when I bring this city down on their heads. Oh, there’s more heat ray to come, my dear readers. In the meantime, we’re going to lay the smackdown on some individual heroes in whatever weak spots I can find.

It’s all part of the plan. A plan to turn hero against hero and friend against friend. And that spells the Shieldwall’s end.



Arete in Destruction 5

So, yeah. Things could have gone better lately. I’ve been running back and forth to the hardware stores getting stuff for Moai to patch himself up with. We’ve relocated well away from the warehouses. I’m currently based in this old club that closed up. I think it was some sort of goth club called Heart Failure, but with an image of a heart there in front of the word Failure. I will freely admit to not spending a lot of time in clubs, let alone goth ones, but I don’t expect that a heart is what they want to see if they go to a club. If it was an anatomical heart, then I think they’d still be in business. Regular ole “I heart you” heart, though…that’s not bringing in the daywalkers.

Still, the guy who owns the building needed money more than he needed questions answered, and sales of windows have been pretty high lately. I have enough for what I’m doing, but working for myself just isn’t as profitable as killing individuals that other people dislike a great deal. I hear the Mafia’s got an offer out on the Pope right now, as a matter of fact. Kiddy fucking? They don’t care. But a Pope riding around without the bulletproof glass, embracing the diseased, and suggesting that atheists can be good people? That’s a step too far for the Sicilian murderers.

You know, I should call up Father Poffo, see if he’s willing to make me a counter offer. Maybe later.

Rather than worry about traps at this juncture, I stopped by Rothstein’s Sports Bar to have a nice lunch, lay down some feelers, and fish for people who I could trick into taking a bullet or mystical blast for me. Like, maybe I’ll get lucky and find some skinheads dressed up in tights with swastikas, pretending that being around people with powers makes them some sort of superior men. Those types are great. I hear people talk all the time about how bad it is to kill your own minions, but those people have clearly never sweet-talked wannabe-Nazis into working for them using nothing but code words about keeping the government out of small business matters. The good guys don’t even feel bad when you execute those fuckers.

Unfortunately, I have yet to get those expendable idiots. All these bigots around, but I’ve got no luck finding them to serve as my human shields.

Well, they might have been in there, but no sooner had I tried to make the bouncer live up to his name by using him as a pogo stick than Elita bitchslapped me a few streets away. And by bitchslap, I mean I was the bitch, not her.

So I dusted myself off, set my wrist back in its socket, and gave myself a small injection of nanites to handle all the repair work. I didn’t have my armor on. I make sure to point that out because that fall could have been a lot worse if that bunch of charity-fundraising nuns wasn’t there for me to land on. Not only did they break my fall, they had money just waiting around for the Buy Psycho Gecko Lunch Fund. I’ll have to thank them when they get out of the hospital.

While there was little chance I would meet some new people to rope into my schemes, there was a diner and I was hungry. I went in, I found a booth, I ordered food and drink, and I waited.

It was then, while my chicken sandwich was being cooked, that I found myself facing Apollo. He didn’t look marble, but it was him. He had the same face and the build was about right.

Powers with an on/off switch. They can be a blessing and a curse. A big, bad monster can turn back into a mild-mannered man to hide. Or perhaps forced back into that form. Either way, it provides a great way to hide one’s job as a crimefighter from vicious villains and parasitical paparazzi. I’m glad I have hardly ever had to deal with them, by the way. Last time someone in news tried to get all up in my business, it went very badly for two of them and their boss.

While some powers are inconvenient for people to keep on all the time, like a man made of marble, it also means that someone can be killed when they have a protective power off, like a man made of marble.

Back to this encounter. I saw Apollo. My face was changed, like it tends to be, and it’s cold enough now that the trenchcoat doesn’t look out of place so he didn’t realize it was me at first. He sat down with his back to me in the booth next to mine, but closer to the door, across from a man with Asian features and short blue hair. Mechamoto, perhaps?

Either way, I slid under the table and popped up on the other side. I grabbed a napkin and tapped Apollo on the shoulder. He turned to look at me, curious. “Hello handsome, I think you dropped something.” I folded up the napkin and handed it to him.

“What’s this?” he asked.

“My number,” I told him.

He opened it up. “It’s blank.”

“I dropped my pen. I guess you’ll just have to give me yours.”

“My…pen?” he queried with raised eyebrows.

“I meant your number.”

“Listen, I don’t know you and I’m not-“

“Don’t bother. He’s probably not serious,” spoke a voice I had a tendency to hear only at the worst times. “And if he is, you don’t want him to call you.”

Apollo and I both looked over to see Venus, outside of her costume, standing there at the end of the table.

“Hello Boopsie,” I welcomed her with a grim smile. It’s not the fighting that bothered me so much as the potential loss of my chicken sandwich. I wanted my chicken sandwich.

“Hello Gecko,” she nodded to me. Apollo scooted away from me along the booth.

I looked between the three of them, noting how Mechamoto, or who I thought was Mechamoto, had his hands beneath the table. I looked at him, “Hey, do we have to do this right now? Come on, man, I’m hungry. You’re probably hungry. There are squishy people around who are going to get hurt. Can’t we just sit down and eat some food without me having to cut somebody?” I whipped my butter knife around in front of me. “Besides,” I offered, “If I have to leave here, I’ll be in a bad mood out in public where it’s hard to contain me.” I wiggled the knife helpfully.

“Alright, if you’re serious, we’ll leave you be, for now,” Venus conceded and took a seat next to Mechamoto. She turned to whisper something to him that, according to my reading, could have been either “Call in reinforcements,” or “At least he’s not out killing people.”

I reached over and stroked Apollo’s earlobe. He got goosebumps. “How about you eat without putting your hands on other people?”

“Awww,” I whispered loudly to Apollo, “That’s ok. I’m sure I’ll get my hands on you later.”

Just then the waitress arrived with my chicken sandwich. I turned and commenced to condimenting it. “Thanks.” Then the ambulance sped by with alarms going.

“Ambulances…did you kill someone already today?” Venus asked. I saw the others tense.

“Nah, the nuns will live,” I turned to reassure her. People like being reassured face to face. You can tell. Just ask how many people would be reassured by meeting a faceless person. Not too many, I think.


“Wasn’t my fault,” I said with a shrug.

She raised an eyebrow at me.

“It was an act of God. It rained men. Hallelujah, it rained men. Amen!” I raised a hand and pointed at the ceiling.

Mechamoto just stared at me for a good few seconds, then spoke, “He really is like this all the time.”

“Yep,” said Apollo and Venus at the same time.

“Hey, you know your hair?” I asked as I pointed at his blue furry head cover.

“I know of it.”

“It’s blue.”

He and I just stared at each other for about a minute after that as he didn’t answer and I waited. He with his hands still below the table, me with my eyes bugging out and a wide grin on my face.

“You done eating, hon?” asked the waitress as she stopped by to fill up my Coke. The soft drink, not the drug. There are people of a strange mind out there who seem to believe I do a lot of drugs. I have no clue where they get this from, but fear not! Aside from alcohol, I don’t bother with such things. No drugs, no narcotics, no prescribed medication. Remember kids, say no to drugs and you could wind up to be like me.

Maintaining my gaze, I brought my sandwich around in front of me. Staring. The whole time.

And yet, it was still better to them than the thought of me running around doing whatever it is I do with myself. That’s how you out-crazy the people in tight pants right there.

“Fuck!” said my waitress as she looked down at a recently-abandoned table. I slid out of my chair and was behind her in no time, tapping her on the shoulder.

“You called?”

“Huh. No, these people left me this! Look at this!”

She held it up for me to see. The “it” in question looked like a shorter 10 dollar bill from the rear. On the other side was some tract about accepting Jesus and blah blah blah. Ouch. You think you’re getting money that you need because you make like $2 an hour, but it’s all a bait and switch? Harsh.

“It’s the third time I’ve gotten one of these in the last couple of weeks,” she smoldered.

“What’d they look like?” I asked.

The heroes, meanwhile, had stood up and joined us around the fake money.

“It was that old couple. They took a carryout box, the ungrateful shits,” answered the waitress.

“Is there anything we can do to help?” asked Mechamoto.

“Not you,” I said with a grin and a growing chuckle, “But I sure as hell can help.”

He tried to grab me as I ran for the door, tossing money behind me. It was a cold, calculated plot to tip the waitress, pay for me meal, and encourage other diners to obstruct pursuit. Over my laughter, I thought I heard him say, “I’m calling in the team.”

I wasn’t sure which direction they were headed, but randomly running took me to them as they tried to get into their car around the corner.

“Heyheyheyheyhey!” I called out as the old man helped his wife into their car. He looked up as I raised a hand and slapped him hard enough to send his dentures flying. His head bounced off the old towncar and I grabbed hold of it again. His screaming wife tried to crawl across the seat.

“Open wide, honey. I got a tip for you!”

As expected, there was a horrified gasp. Don’t worry, I didn’t touch the old bat. Not even once. No, I threw her husband at her and lodged his head somewhere it wasn’t supposed to go. If you’d like to know more, then congratulations, you get to learn about the word “unbirthing” today!

Images are NSFW, of course. Ah, World Domination in Retrospect. Teaching people all the things they didn’t know they needed to know since January 2013.

I turned to see Mechamoto standing there holding a phone in one hand and a black bladed tanto that didn’t hold a reflection.

“Oh come on, you’re really going to hold this against me?” I asked.

He just stood there, not saying anything, but not raising the weapon. “It doesn’t matter if I think they deserve it. It’s about duty. Doing what’s right isn’t about when it’s just convenient and you like the people you save.”

“And sometimes it’s about doing things that seem wrong and illegal to make sure that assholes get what’s coming to them,” I took a pause as the lady groaned in pain and hit the roof of the car a couple times. “Hey, shut up in there or I’ll remember I was aiming for your other hole!”

Seeing as Mechamoto was inclined to run me through, I had to jump into the old car, sit on the old lady’s head, and fished out the old fellow’s keys to make my getaway.

It was nice to have a breather considering everything I’ve been doing lately. It cheered me up at least. But then, isn’t that what hurting people is for?




Arete in Destruction 4

Life’s hard for a guy trying to share his love of pranks with the city. The love wasn’t the bombs that have gone off in a few places, either. The love, as you might call it, involved me making some changes to the window washer equipment and water system of the Trump International Hotel and Tower right off this bigass park here in the city.

It was by far the biggest order of squirrel and pigeon pheromone concentrate Michelangelo had ever had to fill, even if you include those guys that time with the crappy animal themes.

It also left every squirrel in Empyreal City hanging on to the outside of that over-compensation station called a hotel, jizzing their nutty little brains out. While the squirrels are busy busting their nuts, pigeons keep sexually assaulting the heads of tenants who are trying to mind their own business as they escape.

It was a big laugh all over the internet and late night comedian shows. It didn’t help matters that The Don tried to hire local heroes and Shieldwall to clear off the building. Shieldwall couldn’t do the job. Too busy trying to track me down. The heroes that did take the money didn’t fare very well on their own. You ever disturb a horde of horny squirrels? Furry little humpmongers jumping around, landing on eyes and ears and mouths and noses. Scratches and bites. Thrusts. PETA protestors clung to legs, arms, even backs.

In perhaps the most accurate use of the term ever, it was a clusterfuck.

I only learned after the events of the past day why Shieldwall didn’t feel like making an easy million bucks.

Moai and I were just hanging out back at my crime crib, minding our own business. Not doing anything wrong at all. I was busy working on the Heatflasher. There were melted foci in that thing. Melted foci are a bad thing. Trust me, you don’t want your foci melted on a sensitive machine of mass death. I could have fired the thing without one, maybe two of them, but it had burned through all the primaries and a couple of the redundant ones. The rockets still worked, but the damn thing was out of commission as a weapon until I got it fixed. So I was elbows deep in the ‘Flasher when there was an explosion at the front door of the warehouse.

“Coming!” I shouted. Having solicitors like that sucks, but it’s even worse when they get impatient enough to blow your door to pieces. I scrambled into my armor and grabbed my laser potato peeler. You know, in case someone really needed their potatoes peeled. It happens.

I had time for all that thanks to the traps. “Moai, you make sure nobody sneaks in and destroys the ‘Flasher. Try to take at least one alive if it’s convenient.” I tossed the electrified cage over the heat ray again as I made my way to check on the traps.

All was surprisingly quiet. Too quiet. The Spamocles Sword room was empty. Too empty. No, really, it was too empty. The spam that had been left on the plate had clearly been disturbed, but that’s no surprise. Spam’s very existence has disturbed me for some time. There’s something not right about that food. Still, it had been poked and prodded, I knew that much, as the sword had clearly fired from the crate it had been hidden within. Anyone messes with the mystery meat on the plate, and the pressure plate beneath, and they got a sword to the head. In theory, at least. Blood stains showed someone survived long enough to bleed as they were dragged out. That means more than one enemy, including one without the decency to die for me.

The flashlight room was a different story. I rounded the corner to enter that room from behind the flashing lights and found a large robot with a head in the shape of a furiously roaring sloth standing in the middle of it, completely unperturbed by the razor blade strips laid over the floor, walls, and table of that makeshift room.

The part I didn’t see until it was too late was Miss Tycism summoning up a bolt of lightning that threw me back what I assume was several feet. I didn’t have time to lay down an exact number of foot longs sub sandwiches. I did have time to wish that my strobe light idea hadn’t worked against me that way.

The pair didn’t follow, giving me time to recover. Now, the last thing I should have done was run right back into the room. It’s what a moron would do in this kind of fight. I’d be coming at them from the exact same route. With all my abilities and knowledge of the terrain, there were any number of possible attack paths I could take. I chose to run right back into the room, albeit invisible and with the aid of holographic doubles.

They were on guard and the first doppelganger caught a hot bolt of purple lightning for his troubles. Ah, purple lightning. Must happen during a purple rainstorm. Still better than trying the Batdance in order to pull off some Pussy Control. That’s how Prince scares off the women.

The second hologram was found to not be a threat when the Mecha Human Sloth ran and put its fist through the thing. His bulky body provided me with an excellent opportunity to show Miss Tycism that she’d made a Miss Take invading my base of operations. I grabbed the table with its many blades and held it in front of me as I ran up Sloth’s back. I soared through the air like a fat hungover buzzard and slammed the table into Miss Tycism, puncturing a few minor veins. As an added bonus, they were her veins this time, not mine. What really made her scream was how it pushed into her and then scraped against her as I fell.

Mecha Human Sloth put himself between us as Miss Tycism levitated toward the roof and threw a green energy blast that removed a clean circle in the roof for her to escape.

They were being cautious. That still left me with Sloth to deal with. He charged and I went invisible. I jumped to the side. Despite my stealthy state, he adjusted and slammed into me. I hit the metal container behind me and was pushed against it. I thought I’d go right through it but it slid out of the way with a line of sparks.

Instead, Sloth kept going against the windows of the break room built into the front of the warehouse and threw me through it. I landed hard on a shoddy metal table and felt it collapse around me. I coughed a few times as I stood up then yelled to him, “Hey, I’m the one who throws me through windows, not you! Bad touch. Stranger danger!”

A metal claw dug into the drywall and tore it away with two swipes, opening that side up. It left me exposed in a kitchen area. If I ran, I could go to one side and escape out the room’s door, or to another side and take a bathroom break. I grabbed the coffee pot, pulled a small cord from it, and threw it at Sloth. The cold liquid inside did nothing. The block of C4 hidden in it did significantly more. It stumbled him. Don’t you love fighting someone like that?

I threw open the door to the refrigerator and began to empty the contents at him. He was unperturbed by the stink grenade. The knockwurst was useless. He slipped a little on the sour milk. The year-old birthday cake that had been in there long before I moved in dented his armor a little, I think.

It almost made me proud to see my work stand up to all this, but I was too busy seeing what I could do to get him in a better position. Except just then, the man in the red, white, and blue costume ran up. Bright Star, I think. Generates fireworks explosions. “Remember, you don’t close with him,” instructed Mecha Human Sloth.

“I remember. We won’t need to anyway. Everything’s coming down, Gecko,” spoke the smug patriotic hero. A smug hero is one thing, but one wrapped in a flag is much more grating.

“Let me guess, this is the point where you ask me to surrender and make things easy on you?”

Bright Star shook his head. “No. We don’t trust you enough to let you surrender, but if you want to knock yourself out I promise you’ll wake up in a cell with a toilet lid.”

“Guess I’d better handle that before this goes any further then,” I said and rushed over to the bathroom door. I closed it behind me as explosions blasted apart the kitchen. One of them took the door off the hinges, the toilet paper rolling over it and past Bright Star as he approached. A faint mist glowed in his palms as he got a little too close for comfort to find me on the john. “Eek!” I screamed and tried to cover up.

“Your pants aren’t even down,” he stoically informed me.

“I’m going to have to clean this armor out then. Do me a favor and hand me the TP?” I pointed to the roll of toilet paper.

He started to look and caught himself, so my swing with the toilet lid didn’t catch him completely offguard. It knocked his hand up, where a red explosion brought down pink insulation on me as I swung again. The lid broke as it popped him on the side of his face. He staggered back near the toilet paper with the now-armed Claymore mine within.

I flushed the toilet, triggering the remote.

The blast, which involves some C4 and hundreds of steel balls, didn’t catch him full-on, but it got him enough to rip open the back of his costume and send him into my waiting arms, where I raised him over my head and dropped him headfirst into the toilet bowl.

“We need evac on Bright Star. Man down. No visual on primary target,” I heard in the electronic growl of Sloth.

There was a lot of dust in the air, obscuring the much of the view, but I could see how they trashed the kitchen. They even left the sink hanging half off. Hmm…

“Here’s your visual, Slothy!” I yelled as I flew out of the ruined break room with a pipe in my hands. The porcelain sink it was attached to smacked into the face of the robot and shattered. I landed and spun, avoiding a retaliatory kick. “Too slow, Three-Toe.” I used the pipe to keep him from bringing he leg back down. Unable to compensate, he fell. I circled around to the eyes of the machine with a very important question to ask. “Hey, does this look like a laser to you?”

I fired the potato peeler into Mecha Human Sloth’s mechanical eyes and saw them crack. His flailings failed to find or fling me, so I took the time to run off to the main room and workshop.

A disheveled Forcelight was there. As usual. Of course. She had gotten shocked by the electric cage as she tossed it away. I let out a loud “Oh shit!” and turned to run for the side door. Forcelight pursued. Instead of blasting me out of my pants, she was closing to melee. Works for me and the reverse punji. She caught up to me at the door and I ducked. She flew over the threshold and the welcome mat thrust up into the air. The spring-loaded mechanism threw her up to the spiked awning overhead that clamped around her as she bumped into it. Then the thrusters kicked in. The awning broke away from the building and flew straight off into the distance with its captive.

It was glorious. Too bad it probably didn’t kill her.

When I got back inside, I found a cracked Moai slowly rolling over to the HeatFlasher to guard it. “You’re looking beat up, Moai. I expect you did the best you could?”

He nodded, then tipped his head toward a hole in the wall shaped like a small woman wearing a giant backpack with waldos coming out of it.

“Good. Doesn’t look like they see have us completely surrounded anymore. Bright Star, Sloth, Forcelight, Miss Tycism, and Troubleshooter out of the way for now. I’ll call in the cavalry. You take the scooter. I’ll have to get the ‘Flasher and the car myself. Side door’s clear.”

Moai didn’t move.

“Now, go, go, go! We don’t have all day.”

Moai slowly nodded, then hopped towards the side door. I made my way to the big giant screen in the main room and tried to call up old friends via video call.

“Elita!” I proclaimed happily. Elita the Warrior Woman dropped her loofa and covered her wet body up with her arms, then the shower curtain. “Listen, amigo, I need some help with-“ She punched out her own screen. “Why the hell do you have one in the shower then?!”

Next call went through to a grey room. “Hello? Max, you there?” Holly flopped over into view, waving the smoke out of her face.

“Hey Gex. What’s up?”

“I’m in a pickle here. I need backup in Empyreal City.”

“Mmm..pickle. Pickles sounds good,” she said, then called out into the obscured room, “Hey guys, let’s go get some pickles!” Then she turned to me, “Hey, we’re all feeling kinda hungry here. We’re gonna take a snack brake from working on the bazhookah. You should stop by some time.” She then switched the screen off.

Who else do I have in my contacts…

Captain Flamebeard appeared on screen in a shower cap, steam rising off his beard. With a scream, he dropped his loofah and went to cover up his nipples. Water splashed against the screen as he frantically scrabbled to turn it off. All I got to say before the transmission ended was, “You know waxing is a thing now, right?”

That was more body hair than I hoped to see in one place.

It looked like help wasn’t on the way. There was just one last person left to call.

The next person to appear on screen was Ouroboros. He was taken aback by my appearance on his monitor. “Douche,” I said, and cut the feed.

“He really is,” said a familiar feminine voice from behind me. I turned to find a beauty in pink, gold, and white armored tights.

“Trying to take me on one-on-one again, Venus?” I spoke amiably. We were, after all, old enemies by now.

“Remember, one of us actually has friends. They’ll be here soon. And,” she pulled out one of their old EMP rods, “You’re not going anywhere anyway.” She activated it. Her hair lifted up briefly as the EMP hit.

I saw the lights on the Heatflasher go dark while my own armor went dead for a few moments. It rebooted and I approached the ‘Flasher and set a gloved hand down on it. Venus circled me, but kept her distance. “What’s a matter, your Caddy out of gas?” said a man in greased hair and a tiger-stripped jumpsuit glimmering with rhinestones in the shape of lightning bolts. The Honky Tonk Hero pointed his guitar at me. “Did you forget to remember to forget about me?”

A man trailing red and blue glowing lines dropped down on the other side of the Heatflasher. His armor was black metal and he brandished a high-tech katana. He didn’t say anything, as always. “Huh, you know I’d just about forgotten about you,” I told him.

“Mechamoto has been busy. I missed out on fighting the alien incursion thanks to you, but he got a lot of experience against warriors in power armor from it. By the way, sorry we’re late for the party. Someone blew up our ride,” said a marble teen in gold tights with yellow griffin designs.

“You got some valuable experience too, Apollo. Don’t forget that ass-whoopin’,” I chuckled and noticed a blinking red light on the console of the Heatflasher, “Well, I think we’ve waited long enough, lady and gentlemen.”

They all got in fighting stances. I got in the Heatflasher and fired up the rockets. I heard someone call out, “The fuck?” as I lifted off.

“Ahahahaha, it’s called redundancy, bitches. Ciao!” I called to them and slammed the ‘Flasher into the big giant screen. It crashed to the floor as I ascended and made for the hole in the roof. I caught a view of a white gleaming dot flying towards me and gave it the finger while hitting the stick to get my ass out of the line of fire.

And so I live to fight another day, like for getting my car back or setting this thing on a skyscraper and going to town on the town if I find a scratch on my car when I blow up the impound.



Arete in Destruction 3

I am the master of your fucking universe, baby! No, I have not had crack!

I caught a thief. She’s far too good at finding me. She made it past a number of defenses. The reverse punji pit above the side door. The Spamocles Sword. She even made her way through the flashlight area. Took me awhile to set that one up. Setting up enough boxes and heavy metal crates to form rooms. That’s the problem, I guess. All that trouble to build something up, only to have someone come along and wreck all your hard work. Reminds me of a story…well, best to save that for another time.

Dame was back, my beautiful, black-suited thieving acquaintance with the shiny mask and armband. We don’t have a good track record as far as our encounters go. This time, Moai and I saw her sneak up to the Heatflasher. It looked like this was another of those bad encounters.

“Not so fast, you thieving, conniving, deceptive, traitorous, glamorous, agile, lithe woman in a skin-tight suit!” I said, then caught my breath. It was a mouthful.

Dame turned to face us. Her response didn’t indicate surprise. Then she saw that both Moai and I were in police uniforms. I was armed with a banana and a mustache, though Moai had on a fake mustache of his own that was large enough to fit his face. “Well, well, well, looks like it’s the rabbit here to try and steal all our Trix. Book em’, Moe,” I told my stony servant. I kept the banana trained on her.

“What’s in that?” Dame asked, “Another laser? Acid?”

“Not at all, Dame. Arms behind your back,” I said as Moai made his way behind her. She complied and he cuffed her out of my sight. “This sucker’s loaded with potassium. As you know, potassium has a hostile reaction in water.”

“You’re going to blow up the water supply?”

“No, my dear, I have something much more delicious in mind…” I grabbed the end of the banana…and peeled it. Then I was eating a banana.

Dame relaxed at that. She even laughed as the tension left her body. Bad move. While the simple banana is merely a delicious source of nutrition and dong jokes to everybody else, it’s also incredibly deadly in the wrong hands or orifice.

Moai hopped over to my side again. “Good job, partner. Now, then, little lady, just what were you doing sneaking in here. I don’t have any pictures for you to steal any more. The fire ate my birdy.”
She shook her head. “Actually, I already stole that from you just before you did all that. It’s safe and sound, just like we’ll all be when I disable this thing,” she revealed.

I turned to Moai, “I get in one colossal fight and Dame gets scared. She should move in with her aunty and uncle in Bel Air.”

She groaned.

I turned back to her, “See, that’s the problem with the non-violent ones. Weak stomachs. Too willing to join the side of the angels when you start destroying national monuments. Get the fuck out of here and don’t come back or I’ll be forced to do something I enjoy.”

Dame bent her legs just a bit and backflipped over the Heatflasher. Without any sign of the handcuffs anywhere, she knelt and opened a panel. Before she could grab any potentially valuable piece, she found herself incorporeal once again. She flailed, panicking, and looked around for anything she could latch on to. She dove for the light switch. Her mass suddenly increased when she became solid again and she dropped to the floor like a sack of potatoes with a fine ass. Mmmm, dat spud.

“Ah, the dangers of ourtsourcing your IT and then ever getting into a conflict with that person,” I gloated. I walked over and knelt beside her. “I recognize that you’re very skilled at what you do, but conflict with other superhumans is what I do. So what you’re going to do now is get your ass out of here and don’t come back.” I jumped up and ran to the fridge, then pulled out a frozen bass. I rushed back and shoved it in her face. “Do you see this? Do you know what this is?”

Dame tried to get away from the slimy little stink critter, but I grabbed her head and held it close. “I will find a fun place to shove this fish if you come back here. Understand?”

She nodded through some nasty coughs.

Moai and I gently escorted her out, each of us grabbing a side and tossing her out the door. Then I pressed a button on the fish and tossed it out. It exploded just above her into a pink mist of disgusting fish smell. She wasn’t hurt, except in the smellular way.

I went back inside and set an electrified cage up around the Heatflasher. I needed to get out and deal with something. A certain target among the heroes that has been exceedingly helpful to them. The Heatflasher would be great to drag along for this, but drag would be the operative term. The fight and landing didn’t do it any favors, so I have some parts to replace. I plugged the cage right into it, though. That way, if Dame comes back then she won’t be snipping the power.

That doesn’t mean the Heatflasher had no influence on my next course of action. I called in a Psycho Gecko threat at Wall Street. “You better hurry. He’s talking about bolsheviking Mensheviks in the Kolyma.”

Time to get the armor on. And some more fish out of the fridge. And that air cannon.
Minutes later I soared through the air on a rocket, a heavy pack on my back. Replacements. I saw the Shieldwall jet ahead as the heroes deployed. They were searching, with the jet lagging behind to help coordinate things. And, of course, to help provide transport for those left on the ground.

When I saw it, I activated my payload. Five rockets activated and flew off my back. It was going to be iffy controlling them like this, all through the helmet, but worse comes to worse and they’ll just crash. No big deal. It’s not my city.

I overtook the jet easily and took my rocket upward. Black Raptor broke off from circling over a block to ascend after me. I armed my fish stink grenade and turned, firing it into Raptor’s chest. It slapped him right in the chest and caught him by surprise. The subsequent pink mist got him full on. Hacking and vomiting, he dropped. I directed a rocket into his chest on the way down and bopped him on the top of the jet before circling around.

Another smacked into a rudder. The rest were closer. All at once, my rocket and the other four nearby began a flip, cut engines, aimed downward, and hit the engines, with me jumping off my rocket. I loaded another fish into the air cannon as best as I could given all the wind while coordinating the attack on the jet. One by one the rockets smacked into the canopy glass. Bam, bam, bam, bam, bam. I saw it as I fell past. It was cracking.

The jet opened fire on them with lasers and scored a hit on one. The rest of its fuel went up at once and it exploded.

The same rocket that assaulted Raptor flew down and maneuvered underneath me. I landed with it between my legs, remembering very quickly how bad of an idea that was around the same time I gained a lovely high-pitched singing voice.

The other rockets cut their engines and dropped to join me. I leaned on another to the side of me as I got a better seat and pulled my sack out from under my taint.

Ok, one rocket down, one hero down, one jet not down. Of course I hadn’t thought this through. You’ve seen how my plans go. They bore people. I saw the side door open on the jet. Somebody’s about to join the party. Somebody also created a way in. I sent a rocket towards the door to try and catch whoever tried to rain on my parade. It poured gorilla instead.

Gorilla Awesome, the intelligent, talking, jet pack-wearing, laser using, grappling hooking gorilla himself jumped out, caught the rocket, and fired his own jetpack, directing it away.

I sent more after him, including my own. His moved horizontally in a circle as he messed with it between dodging my attacks. The others I directed into a vertical circle each time one missed. I even tried to slap fight him as I passed, but he drove one foot into my chest and nearly knocked me off the rocket. I grabbed onto it instead and dropped the air cannon in the process. There goes leaving my own special scent on the inside of the thing. I circled back around to slam my boots into Awesome’s midsection. He grabbed my calf with one foot and pulled me free. Content with me rather than a lowly rocket, he let go and began to fly us back to the jet with his own pack.

Raptor joined us. He looked a little worse for the wear, but he grabbed hold of my other leg. “If it’s not too much to ask, can we not do the wishbone thing?” I pleaded.

I could tell Raptor thought it was a good idea. He didn’t have too much time to enjoy the idea as a rocket got him in the flat of his back, and then another skimmed between his legs and probably did some quality manscaping close to the skin. The third one to hit him in this little barrage was playing holey war. Propelled by a rocket in his ass, Raptor bothered me no more.

Gorilla Awesome still had me in one foot and I got into a weak little kick fight against him, my boot to his prehensile foot. “Monkey see, monkey don’t!” I called out as I hit the jump enhancer for my leg. The subsequent blow would have been below the belt if apes wore belts. Or even tophats, I suppose. I don’t know where the line is drawn at including other primates into fair fights.

I got to see what a gorilla with bulging eyes looked like at least, but he still didn’t let go and I was getting closer and closer to the jet.

“Arrest moi? Not if I can make an ape escape!” I bantered again and called up my rockets. One of them didn’t respond. Probably the one Monsieur Mallah here was messing with.

That left me with three. I guess I should have done this at the start, when I had more, but that’s the way the bowling ball bounces. I aimed for the VTOL jets on the aircraft itself. The first rocket exploded as it flew within, but it wasn’t going down. Just wobbling. Damn their craftsmanship!

So rocket number dos had to go in and dosey-do. This time, there was a hoedown. No word on if any non-hos went down with the plane. It lost that jet and was falling in a spiral. That’s when Wannabe-Grodd let go and tried to stabilize the fall. I caught myself on my last free rocket before letting go. It slammed into Awesome’s jetpack and blew it. The burning gorilla fell, but I saw him fire off the grappling hook before too long. He lived. Damn.

That left only one way to save myself from a rather nasty-looking fall. I landed on a screaming Black Raptor as he flew beneath me and grabbed onto the rear half of the rocket. We went into a spin as I tried to shake Raptor loose a little, then went for the jump enhancers again as we sank closer to the ground. I planted my boots on Raptor’s buns and kicked off.

He went down in a tangle on a nearby rooftop, leaving me to fly back. Looks like poor little Shieldwall’s taking the bus from here on out.

No, don’t save Black Raptor a seat. I think he’d rather stand.

Suck it, Shieldwall, right in your jet engine.




Arete in Destruction 2

The confrontation started innocently enough. I set fire to the shithole I’d been staying in for a long time. I’ve been sleeping and eating over at the warehouse I rented to work on the Heatflasher anyway, so this place was now more of a convenient way to draw one hell of a fly into my web. It’s an awesome web. A web…of DOOM!

“Doomy doomy doomy, doomy doomy doomy, doom,” I sang to myself as I opened up the side door to the semi and readied the ‘Flasher. I had already sent off Moai to get me a hot dog. Nothing like a tube of unidentifiable animal meat byproduct covered in sugar and tomato to brighten your mood and fill your stomach. I slid into a seat that sat further back from the machine, with cushions full of coolant. I had managed enough of a swivel that I turned it toward the low rent apartment complex from across the parking lot and aimed via helmet. Then I lit that motherfucker up. The heat tore through that old crappy drywall like a hot knife through old crappy drywall, only bigger. It caught and the blaze spread like wildfire, which seemed only natural to me. The whole place was going up and I barely got to use my heat ray. That’s when I spotted a familiar car from some guy with a little gang that tried to harass me. He was smart enough to leave me alone after I shot his dick and his friends, but he was too dumb to move. Tsk tsk.

The car started to glow after I hit it with the heat beam. That didn’t last long as it exploded pretty quickly as well. “Hey, that’s my car!” screamed someone with a high-pitched voice from the building in front of the car. I looked up and found that same asshole who tried to give me a hard time amongst all the people at their windows watching everything happen. I saw recognition strike him and he turned to run with an “Oh shit!”

“Sounding a little high-pitched there, I must have nailed a ball too. Better even that out. Hold still, let me see if I can get the other one!” I called out. No way he’d hear that, but I swept the beam along that floor, likewise sending it up in flames as rooms collapsed in on themselves. I think I got the other one this time. I don’t expect any complaints if I missed.

It took me back. Pulling my head back from spotting oculars and grabbing a light miner. The heft of the weapon, the feel of activating a continuous green beam that cuts through everything in front of it. Tearing through superheated metal that crumples, bends, smashes the target. Not caring about the target even, whoever he is, and just shooting, shooting, shooting, more buildings falling, cackling, supposed friends at my shoulder, trying to pull me away. Not caring as I destroy a world I can never fit into.

Except the thing at my shoulder was Moai hitting me over and over to get my attention. I looked around at a significantly clearer landscape. In my remembrance of the past, I’d annihilated every building around in the present. They just stood there, more in flames than in cheap brick veneer. I saw incandescent remains of fire trucks and police cruisers from misguided attempts to reign me in that I still have no recollection of. I was in the middle of a blaze.

“Damn, and I missed all that. Well, the helmet cam probably caught it. We did get everything important out of the apartment first, didn’t we?” I turned to Moai. As usual, he didn’t feel like answering verbally. Then I remembered. “Oh shit, the Cthulhu birdy! The Great Yith Avian! Well, I shall cherish what little time together we had, my chirpy little fluffy huggy snugga wuggawy-“

I was cut off as a tiny tremor I’d felt in the ground grew more powerful. Something was getting close. So close that a giant green foot stomped on the cab of the truck. That’s pretty damn close, actually.

By the way, thanks for ruining my truck, jackass! True, I didn’t pay for it, but I had the roof opening and the side doors and I had plans to install armor. Hell, the way things were going today, I had plans to include spiked wheels even. You know, for good skull traction. Don’t you hate it when your evil vehicle of doom and death slips on one too many skulls while cutting a swath through the innocent? For just one easy payment, you can be the proud owner of the Skull Shoes! Engineered to gain traction over even the slipperiest of head bones, Skull Shoes can save you the hassle and embarrassment of leaving home and having no way to run people down. Order now, only on the Home Slaughter Network!

Paveman, inhabiting the Statue of Liberty once again, dug his fingers in around the trailer, denting it inward. I held on tight as I was lifted up. Then started to lower again before something, then jostled side to side a bunch of times. You know, it’s possible this hero doesn’t like me very much. The Heatflasher skidded slightly, but the damage was negligible compared to when it dropped last time.

Suddenly, I was tipped up and the rear door was slid open. The giant face of Paveman, with power over materials he steps on, was frowning down at me. “What do you have to be upset about, I’m the one fighting a giant!” I yelled. Then I followed it up with, “Let’s put a smile on that face.”

I fired, moving it from right to left and back again. It melted out a smile, with orangish-yellowish liquid glowing as it splashed out onto the interior of the trailer. More dribbled over its own chin. The metal around the smile where it had been touched also glowed, though it was a darker reddish-orange.

You know how you sometimes can’t help but smile when you see someone else smile? That was me. That goofy grin made my day and soon had me laughing.

I heard something drop and crash, then the Statue’s other hand came up to block the rear door. I aimed for where the proximal phalanges met the metacarpals if this were a human body. I cut through the lowest of the fingers, in my sight, the index, and it dropped. I almost completely severed the middle finger, but before I could make the bird fly off, I was the one that needed wings. He dropped me, and not out of necessity either.

I mentioned last time that I needed a better way to lift this thing. Something involving fewer ropes and broken arms on my part. I reached down to a newly-installed secondary joystick made possible by being able to sit further away from the body of the weapon, which was made possible by the machine having its own power supply and not needing to tap into mine. I flipped two switches simultaneously next to the joystick and gave the upper trigger on the stick a good squeeze.

The switches initiated the launch. Eight of my riding rockets, four of them on the corners of the machine and the other four larger and under the machine, came online and lifted the Heatflasher and me barrel first out through the open rear of the machine.

Paveman recoiled in surprise as I floated before him in my flying heat ray. Of doom! Can’t forget the 20% more doom. “That’s right. Who’s saying ‘Up, up, and away’ now, motherfucker?”

With all that extra mass, the punch he tried to throw was telegraphed like the assassination of William McKinley. The four larger rockets were devoted to keeping me airborne and adjusting altitude, but the other four at the corners turned to match the direction I took the stick. I made a big show of laughing as I easily dodged the punch.

“Alright, we got ourselves an epic battle on our hands. Let’s get some epic battle music going!”

I activated the playlist in my helmet’s speaker system. It started with a drumroll. Then birds chirping. Then “Hiya Barbie!”

“Hi Ken!”

“Wanna go for a ride?”

“Sure Ken!”

“Jump in.”

There’s little more demeaning than getting your butt whooped to the tune of Barbie Girl.

The second punch he threw, I fired along that sucker and dropped half of the Statue’s left hand. I flitted, at least compared to him, down and around to his rear, where I sculpted out a pair of big, round butt cheeks. When he managed to turn around, I was waiting at the chest, trying to add breasts onto a Statue that was considerably more male-looking with Paveman in charge. He swiped at me with both hands, but I shot up to face level with him. It was there I discovered that he was no longer smiling. Not even a trace lingered. It puzzled me for a moment before I remembered how he restored the statue from my initial adjustments to it with a rocket launcher.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw his right arm shoulder shifting the arm upward and shot past Paveman’s huge face just in time to avoid the slap. I floated over by his ear. “What did the…hold on,” I stopped to count the fingers. Five, with a smaller index finger, “What did the five fingers say to the face?” I swooped in and gave him some new eyebrows. “Zap!”

A huge copper blade speared out of his chest at an angle to slice through me, but I took it up higher, then around his body. I had to avoid more such thrusting blades, but I got an idea what I needed to do.

The limbs were smaller as they regrew, to the extent that a copper statue can regrow. He likely had to draw from elsewhere in his body to restore them, so enough damage, like a limb cut off, would put a big dent in him.

My next point of attack was the armpit. Standing up there all those years, salty ocean air all over the place, and no deodorant? I’m surprised the smell wasn’t so bad. It took longer than expected, dodging the blows of Paveman as he danced around and minded the buildings and cars below us. I saw the spikes on his crown bend to try and track me and then fire. They were almost a problem, but my wild aiming nicked a couple and threw them off course enough. I took the party behind Paveman after that and finished from there, with him just having to reach behind him as he turned to face me.

I took a moment to look over how my machine was doing. It was venting heat as much as it could with all my improvements, and it could stand plenty on its own. There were redundancies in place if some parts failed. Even so, I couldn’t keep up this game of flying evil cat and colossal mouse forever. If the ‘Flasher didn’t fail on me, the rockets would go before long. Those babies can only hold so much in the gas tank. Even my music could run out. I was on “A Little Respect” by Erasure now. If I reach “Hey Mickey” then I know I’m in trouble. I can’t fight Mickey. He’s too fine. He’s so fine he blows my mind.

Fighting Mickey wasn’t a problem, though. The arm fell off! Paveman had to catch himself and stepped on a bus to do so. It fell on a street and settled there, elbow pointed upward. I fired into the backs of the still-recovering Paveman’s knees and calves. He didn’t catch himself so easily this time. He stumbled back and I adjusted my aim to light up that jolly green buttocks. I hauled my own ass out of the way as he fell on his. Except his ass was rather soft and melty, with his fallen arm under it.

Lady Liberty is too big to 63, but why should that stop me from a creative use of a hand up an ass?

I took the Heatflasher in close while Paveman was busy standing and went for the most obvious point of weakness. The neck. I saw Paveman growl at me with features crossed with the Statue. He tried one last time to grab me, punch me, swipe me, anything, but it was the only arm he had to grab anything with and he fell back, missing me. I didn’t miss him, though, and the Statue went still once more as the head finally came off.

The head rolled off, then reformed into Paveman. He was larger than average, but down for the count. I fired an invisible burst or two at him and he fled.

I needed to get out of there myself, but first thing’s first. I drew “Psycho Gecko wuz X” along the Stomach of Liberty. The mighty Stomach of Liberty, below the Boobs of Liberty that were still shaped like the Manboobs of Liberty. That is where Psycho Gecko wuz, for all the world to see. Eat it, America. Eat it like candy.

“It was self defense! You all saw it!” I called out to whatever people were within earshot of the massive wreckage of a fallen Statue of Liberty on crumbling buildings near several others that were on fire that was still burning strong. Water shot fountained into the streets from destroyed hydrants. The image didn’t fit well with “Venus” by Bananarama. One song to go until “Hey Mickey”.

Ah hell. I sang along with it. It was my victory, after all. “Venus on the mountain top. Shining like a silver flame. A vision of beauty and love. And Venus was her na-.”

Three guesses who was behind me when I rotated around in the middle of all that. Well, Venus and the rest of Shieldwall, courtesy of the jet and their ability to fly. They floated there behind me. We just stared at each other. I was on one side. Forcelight and Black Raptor kept their altitude outside the jet, which had Gorilla Awesome and Venus in the cockpit. Then the fuel light came on.

Forcelight and Raptor dove after me as I took it down to the streets to evade and escape. The jet just wasn’t agile enough. I lost Forcelight when I blasted the water from a hydrant, throwing steam into the air. As a light manipulator, she can get rid of my holograms easily enough. Still can’t see through steam for shit. Raptor was more persistent, so I took us over the burning buildings. Nearly grilled my ass off again, but he blinked first and pulled away.

And so the day was mine. All mine! That day, I just couldn’t lose.

Except Moai dropped my hotdog on the way back to the warehouse. There was that. But otherwise, there’s no stopping me!

…and it was really good timing on Moai’s part. I needed a hand putting in the new door after the first one was destroyed by a skidding rocket heat ray.

You hear that, heroes? Not even door installation can slow me down!



Arete in Destruction 1

At 11:13 am on Monday, November 4th, preparations for a meeting between the gang leaders were laid out. The agenda would be one man, Psycho Gecko, and the mark he’d left on the three gangs. They were weakened from assassinations, a gang war, and a fight against superheroes, all because of the actions of one asshole in armor. Now, he had set them up with the cops, this brave bastard with balls so big they exerted their own gravity. Their association with this villain wouldn’t be forgiven by the police unless they brought him in themselves. But how could they possibly hope to capture or kill a man whose ball hair is as soft and feathered as it is lethal? How do you stop a man who can sneak invisibly amongst your foot soldiers with impunity?

At 2:00 pm the next day, scouts arrived to make sure the location was safe. At 3:30, low-ranking gangmembers arrived from all three groups to oversee preparations in the private room of the hotel’s restaurant. Today the bosses would have a light early dinner together. The restaurant staff performed as admirably for these riff raff clientele as they would have for anybody else. A few might have complaints but for the complaint boxes underneath the shirts of some of the gangsters. Large complaint boxes with triggers and extraneous spikes. Ammunition for those guns is increasingly rare. Waiters who try to tell off the survivors of the city’s three biggest street gangs also became increasingly rare. Instead, they smiled, nodded, and took down the pre-orders so that the bosses wouldn’t have to wait overly long upon arrival. How does he want his steak, sir? Increasingly rare.

All three leaders arrived early to the event that was scheduled for 5:30 pm. The Reds arrived at 5:03 pm. The Greens showed up at 5:03 as well, but spent 9 minutes in their car getting baked before Mean Green got out to join Big Red and Yurple Rain, who arrived at 5:05 on the dot, but got in a smoke break before heading inside. They had a waiter with a pair of sunglasses nabbed and taken outside for a beating to make sure he wasn’t Psycho Gecko. He wasn’t, by the way.

They sat around and talked while the chefs expedited the order for the early arrivals. They cursed, they drank, they flipped off the direction of the private room. Not that the bosses knew or would have cared. They were getting along like pals now. The series of events that led up to this had brought them all closer. Except for Yurple Nurple. The events had shot him to pieces. Still, they joked. They laughed. Peace between the gangs was easily established. It was hard to believe they had anything to worry about, until the food arrived. They checked it over. Unwitting underlings were brought in to try some of the food, in case it had been poisoned. When nobody died, they tucked into their meal.

At precisely 5:20 pm, I smacked the side of the Heatflasher, trying to get it to warm up quicker. It was an unforeseen deficiency in the kickassness of the weapon, one which I preferred to find out at that time, on top of a semi’s tractor trailer down the road from the hotel they were all meeting in. See, they could have invited me along to this. I could have sat there, hashed out who’d need to die, and laughed about all the water and weighted-down bodies under the bridge. But no. I had to find out about this from my new informant, “Lungless” Larry Henry. It’s an odd nickname, but he earned it during our little chat. It works much better than his brother, Harry “Headless” Henry.

Such percussive maintenance on such a dangerous piece of machinery is much less of a problem than you’d think. I built the thing. I know how tough it is and I figure I was hitting the source of the problem. I figured right. From where I was seated in it, merged in it with a cable jammed up under my rib cage, I could see it light up as the circuit was completed. What looked like a mere decorative inlay lit up neon red from the primary barrel. The light traveled up to a node that glowed along the dorsal spine of the barrel. The three nodes after it lit up similarly as those sections came fully online. At the four “corners” of the barrel, as much as cylinders have corners, were four arrays of equipment that appeared to be smaller extra barrels.

I had the targeting system slaved to my helmet, the only piece of my armor I had on, and had eyes on the restaurant I spied on. The waiter wasn’t me, but the invisible man sneaking around had been. Now, I was seated and ready to strike. I took hold of the sticks and squeezed the triggers. Just one trigger will ready the device, so you can get it armed while you’re scrambling to jam the cable into your abdomen. Ok, less of a problem for you, but one I still have to mitigate by finishing this thing’s own power supply, or by tying it into the city’s power.

Boy did it ever fire. The red inlaid glow turned blue, then white, matching the coils inside. There was a shudder as it fired, burning through imperfections in the barrel that hung out in the way. The heat sinks kicked in, circulating a substance you certainly wouldn’t want to drink to help cool the barrel itself. The invisible burst of heat struck the side of the hotel. The wall burst as the materials overheated and the molecules spread too quickly. Carpet caught on fire, as did drywall. Metal luggage carts glowed even when not in directly struck by the beam as it ate its way inward. A gangbanger ran for the wall knocked open by the beam a little too quickly and found himself scorched on the face. He ran away, holding his eyes and mouth, then tried to hold his hot zipper away from his crotch. I tried to adjust the aim to where I’d mapped out the private room to be, then got a better idea. I aimed for the kitchen instead, sweeping the beam along where the ovens should be as I moved to catch the private dining area. The first floor of the hotel went up in a burst of flames as the gas caught. Combined with me giving the private room a good go-over with the Heatflasher, it seemed the leaders of the gangs were no longer increasingly rare. I’d say extra crispy at this point.

It was beautiful, seeing that powerful wave of burning destruction tear through it all. It was too quick to avoid, but slow enough for me to enjoy the moments as everything got worse and worse. The way the clothes of a man caught on fire and he stopped to drop and roll on carpet that likewise caught on fire. The way the entire thing blossomed into a fireball. I’d share that flower with the world. Cleanse them of their injustice in rejecting their true hero. I let out a loud laugh at it, reveling in the awesome power and madness. It also helped to deal with the pain, because it can get kinda hot sitting too close to a giant heat machine.

I pulled my hands off the triggers and let it cycle, trying to vent the heat. I lifted myself up, pulled the cable out of the rather painful hole in my torso, and let myself drop down into the trailer below, where I landed on my ass. Up at the front of it was my armor and my nanites, so I crawled my ass up there. I will have to get that power source ready if I want to be in armor when this thing fires. The nanites were there because of the hole and because my legs smelled like BBQ. I think I even had some fat dribble out of a blister. With that kind of expletive-creating pain, I wanted to keep the nanites closer. With that kind of scrote-burning heat, I knew I couldn’t. A little bit of a vulnerability of nanotechnology, and why I never particularly enjoyed fighting people with fire powers. Correction, it’s why I never liked getting hit by people with fire powers. I could fight them all day long so long as they miss.

I had to suit up and scoot my ass over to the side door and open it up before I was fully ready, though. Out there, I found Moai hanging sideways, the other end of the pulley cable tied around him in a complicated mess that ended with a bow tie knot around his neck. “Good job holding down the fort. We’re done for now, though, and I’ve got another idea for next time we use it where you won’t have to do this. But rather than drive with you like this, I think you need to start getting yourself loose.” I stood up, wobbly, and tried to push him up. I fell to my knees. “Fuck you, gravity!” I said. I got an idea down there, though.

I lay under Moai on my back and set my boots on him, then tried lifting him up. He went up and the Heatflasher dropped, but not enough. So then I tried kicking him up. It didn’t work enough. I began to dial up the jumpers in the legs of my armor, at first just to make up for the lack of strength in my mending legs. It just didn’t lift him enough to get the ‘Flasher set into the trailer in a controlled manner. I sat down there, contemplating this situation, then set the strength of the jump boosters significantly higher. I kicked and Moai rose up and up. I saw the ‘Flasher drop down and then heard it land on the trailer. I stood up and gave a fist pump in triumph.

Moai landed on me as what went up came down. He knocked me to the ground and crushed me as the ‘Flasher was lifted up to the pulley above. Something snapped on it then, one of the cables, and it came crashing down to the bed of the trailer. Moai was lifted even higher into the air and against a pulley on his side, where there was another snapping noise.

“Fuck you, Newton!” I yelled and put up my arms futilely, but it didn’t break his fall. Broke my arms, but not the fall. Free of the whole system, Moai helped me to my shaky legs and guided me to the passenger side of the truck cab while he walked around to the driver’s side. I was lucky I still had the nanites from my legs going, too.

From there, we drove back to an alternate hideout we moved to over in the warehouse district. I know I said the Statue of Liberty was first on my hit list, but I needed a test and the test worked. I planned on taking it out too, but there were some unforeseen problems that came to light during the test. It just showed me I needed a better way to mount this thing and power this thing and maybe to not sit on chocolate pudding when I’m being crushed by an Easter Island statue. Because I’m sure that was chocolate pudding. Couldn’t have been anything else, I assure you wholeheartedly.

According to the news, they found the right number of crunchy bodies in the private dining area. Also according to the news, Paveman’s out patrolling in the Statue that he’s still holding onto. Overconfident in his colossus. How could I ever let myself get caught without a giant robot at my disposal? Oh well, I’ll just have to settle this mano a giant mano.

The test’s over, heroes. Give me a day to get back on my feet and we’ll find out how quickly Liberty runs when it’s been melted.