Category Archives: 36. Capital Chaos

Psycho Gecko in a city known for crime, corruption, and sleaze? This is gonna be fun.

Capital Chaos 10



Oh, the devil went down to Georgia, he was lookin’ for a soul to steal. He had time to kill, it was no big deal, but someone was gonna eat boot heel.

Or “she” I should still say for now. And Ohio. I think the point here is that I’m not much for song writing, no matter what the occasional group of story commentators might suggest.

I took a small private jet out there rather than driving, because I thought it’d be nice to get somewhere fast for once. I tend to set off a few metal detectors at regular airports, what with all the metal in me. Let me tell you, security really gets suspicious when you take your own eyes out and roll them through the scanner. Don’t even get me started on what happens when you take out someone else’s eyes.

So I flew in with Moai. The flight was mostly uneventful, except for this part where some super kid almost hit us. In no time flat, we got out in Ohio and set about looking for the Powers Mansion.

The main portion of the Powers mansion sustained a bit of damage from a villain called Mary Malady, who normally doesn’t go for property damage. Her powers aren’t well suited to it, but wood still presents a weakness to that germomancer. I don’t think she’s magic, but I really wanted a shorter way to say that. Regardless of the odd choice to have her attack, the Powers estate wasn’t limited to just one house. They live out away from most people on a large plot of land. I scouted it out with Moai, the both of us pulling some hot ninja action to sneak around.

We used the trees and shrubbery to get close. Someone, probably the kid, had one of those little personal drones flying around, but I shimmied up a tree and stuck a stick in its rotors when it tried to fly below. Even when they’re flying around, people still don’t look up as much as they should. I mean, you’d think there’d at least be some sort of primate instinct.

Then again, maybe the only worthwhile primate instinct was destroying the flying drone with a stick while in a tree.

I figured his publicly-available address was the best place to look first, even if it had already been attacked. I didn’t get a good look at the damages, but they could always have another house or two on the property. Rich people do that shit.

Going commando like I did, I discovered that the main house stood in front of a small complex of guest houses. None were as big as the main house, but careful observation and wiretapping showed that the Powers family was still home, they had a shitload of phones, and that at least one person in the house likes watersports.

Ya know, now I’m going to feel bad if I don’t point out to the innocent and naive reading this that the term “watersports” takes on an entirely different meaning when it comes sexuality. And, personally, it’s not for me. Seems like it would take the piss out of a sexy situation and drain it all over someone’s chest.

So they were there, and then I spotted Mrs. Powers strutting her stuff out to the pool, Stacy’s Mom-style, for a tan. She didn’t notice the pool boy ignoring her, though. If I recall correctly, he’s the one handling the Senator’s pool noodle.

And my dear Priscilla was around, too. I don’t know if she was the one looking up naughty things, but I spotted her heading out to the huge lawn and walking around for a bit. She tried a cartwheel, but fudged the end of it. Still working on her leg strength and coordination.

I noticed more movement when I zoomed out from her gymnastics. A muscular man in a button-down and slacks walked out, hand to his ear, and nodded to himself. He stepped over to Priscilla and had a word with her. Security? I checked some of those phones more carefully while spying on the place. It wasn’t just that the Powers had an obsession with electronic devices; I counted a six-person security team staying up there with them, including the pool boy if that glock is anything to go by. That, or he’s got a really dark-colored dick that stretches all the way around and up the back of his pants.

With a lot more knowledge in mind, and having not yet acquired everything I wanted to truly make this memorable, I figured I’d come back later that night.

My timing worked out, too. On the way out, Moai and I had to sneak around a pair of guys dressed more casually than the security guys at the house. Zooming in, their shirts read “CC EW” so it looks like the guards are Constellation Consortium and the drone was part of their surveillance. I followed them to the road, where they sent out a replacement drone and then dragged the one they had inside to repair it.

I’d parked up the road from it, but before the personal street that counted as the Powers family’s driveway. As far as I found on the drive out, they were the only ones.

When Moai and I came back that night, we were better dressed for the occasion, save for me lacking my armor, for reasons I’ll make apparent. We had waited until four AM to come back with a couple of full gas cans. But first, we stopped by the drone surveillance van, where one of the techs stood outside having a smoke and downing an energy drink. I tossed a rock over his head and into the opposite direction. Hearing it land, he jumped and turned toward the bushes it had fallen through. “Is anyone there?”

In my head, I heard the opening notes of “Breath of Death, Jacket Edit” as I silently approached. I waited just behind him, looking for a chance.

“Must have been an animal,” he muttered to himself just before my hand snaked around and grabbed his tongue. His mouth reverberated with muffled yelling, especially once I dragged the nails of my other hand across his throat. The black zirconium cut through and sprayed blood. I stepped around in front of him, some of the warm blood landing on me. I pulled my hand out just before he snapped his teeth shut. Then, when he tried to scream, I held his mouth shut.

I leaned close and asked him through a bloody, smiling visage, “Do you know what time it is?” Heh, private joke. It got more private once he finished bleeding out.

When I knocked on the van door, I heard a voice call out, “Done jerking off out there?”

I wiped my face off, then opened the door enough to peek in. The guy inside widened his eyes, “Hey, whoa, sorry. I thought you were someone else.”

I held up a finger and beckoned him closer. “Hey,” I said, fluttering my eyelashes. “Want to see a dead body?”


I threw open the door and Moai tossed the dead body of his comrade on him. I jumped in and Moai closed it behind me while I, ahem, disabled the drones. They also had a radio tuned in to the same frequency the other Constellation Consortium guys were using. And this neat little reminder that the drones needed to stay above the motion sensors’ range at night.

Huh. I turned to the back of the van, wondering if I needed any more repairs to get these suckers working. “Hey Moai,” I called out to him, “you any good with a joystick?”

With Moai behind the joystick, I soon soared through the air like the world’s most homicidal fairy princess. Damn drones almost acted like I was heavy, but I had a pair of gas cans with me. At any rate, I didn’t see people scrambling into alert mode or setting off alarms. Then again, the motion sensors might not set off a full blown alarm, in case a wild animal wandered onto the property. Something to test, I guess.

The drones set me down on top of one of the guest houses. I’d have preferred staying on the main house, but it looked a bit flimsy. “Ok, take the others up high except for one. Drop that one in the pool.” I hugged the roof and tried to keep the gas cans where few people could see them.

Ten seconds after it dropped below roof level, someone called up on the radio. “Fitch, Hernandez, you drop a drone in the pool again, I’ll drop you on your neckbeard heads. You hear me?”

Moai lowered a drone down in the pool area, then flew it away low.

“That’s it, I’m turning the sensors off and coming down to kick your asses.” A man in a military sweater stepped out of one of the smaller side buildings and headed around to the front of the house. He cranked up a car and left. Boy, he’s going to get one hell of a shock when he gets to that van. Soon after he left, another man stepped out of that house, trying to whisper loudly in irritation at the first guy for leaving his post.

“Moai, send me a drone,” I whispered, then slipped to the ground, dropping the gas once I’d gotten down. The guard turned when he heard me running. When a drone dipped low, I jumped up, grabbed it, and brought it down on his head, again and again. Then I walked back over to pick up the gas. “When you’re done playing with the one coming down there, head up here and take care of any other mercs you see wandering around.”

Five minutes later, I sat in a chair in the corner of Robert Powers’s bedroom. Just his bedroom. Turns out he and his wife didn’t sleep together anymore. I sat in the darkness, the smell of gas all over the place. “Hello Senator.”

Powers jolted upright. “Who the fuck’s there?”

I lit a match in the darkness, showing him the visage of a smiling, bloodstained woman with black nails. “I am the one who ushers the souls of the dead to the afterlife. I am the Psychopomp, designation Gecko. Do you know where your soul is going?”

I tossed the match onto a very nice Persian rug soaked in gasoline. It lit and ignited a line of flames that raced out of the room, blocked the doorway, and encircled the entire house. Fire alarms started to wail, waking everyone but the dead.

“Tell you what I’m gonna do. You and I are going to play a little game, let’s call it Fried Chicken. First one out of the house loses. Here, I didn’t even come all dressed up, just to give you a sporting chance.”

I stood up and showed off my attire. Dark, camouflaged, but not armored.

Powers threw off his covers and went for his nightstand.

“A gun, Senator? You should know that I’m practically invulnerable to bullets. Unless you were to hit me. Then I’d bleed and cuss a lot.”

He glanced back at me. “Pinkerton told me you’d find a way to survive that bomb, and I didn’t believe them. They said you’d come for me too.”

Whatever he grabbed, he squeezed down on, then turned around. In each hand, he had crushed a metal orb. Some sort of red energy glowed in one hand, and blue energy in the other. Both weaved their way up his body.

I recognized them. The FBI uses something like that to temporarily empower their agents, though I think that was just the one that looked red. A blue one? Don’t know what it does, but I figured I’d go ahead and stop it.

I jumped onto the bed, instantly seeing why kids enjoy that, and dove for his head. He cried in the midst of a transformation that saw him bulking up and turning darker. I jammed my thumbs into his eyes, getting goo under my nails. Don’t you just hate that?

He swung and knocked me back. And by back, I mean halfway into a chest of drawers. I should note he wasn’t done transforming yet, but at least he didn’t have eyes to see how hard he hit me. Good. He didn’t need to see how slow I was getting up or popping my shoulder back into socket. Or the blood.

Gonna be honest, this “Fried Chicken” gag wasn’t working out how I intended. This is what happens when you wait to rub it in before killing someone.

“You call that a hit, you pansy? I’ve had periods leave me bloodier than that!” I yelled after I finally caught my breath.

He unleashed a roar of pain and anger and totally not having any eyes because I stabbed them out and finally slid out of bed. I finally left my comfy chair made out of broken drawers and ducked into the next room, the living room, hearing the comforter rip behind me without it breaking his stride. His underwear, yes, but not his stride. Yippy, I get to face Flappy Dong.

Just a tip, readers. If you ever do fight someone named Flappy Dong, or Super Dong, or Giant Dong, or even King Dong, don’t try to scream. Don’t even open your mouth. It’s just common sense.

In the next room, I saw Priscilla, her mother, and her brother all fleeing the house, the guards holding the door for them. One of them raised a gun at me, then brought it up to fire at the giant Senator behind me. Before he could fire, his eyes glowed blue and he brought it back down toward me. I ducked, but he fired anyway. Like, really slow reflexes. Then again, wouldn’t make sense if someone was a master of their powers just after getting them.

Still, blue. Something psychic, maybe? The red ones seem to involve physical transformation. Like how Senator Powers now stood nine feet tall, bulged with what could be muscle, and had a serious problem with body hair. Dude looked like a sasquatch, except for this curled horn sprouting from the middle of his forehead above the eyes. He growled, but I heard words anyway, just in my ears, or maybe in my head. “I’ll rip you limb from limb, or die a martyr trying!”

“Now now, Senator, let’s not be cockwads in front of the children. Do you think they should see you being so hypocritical?” I rolled out of the way of a downward blow that cracked the hardwood floor and sent him off balance. Another shot rang out, but it missed again.

“Why can’t I see inside you?” the voice in my head asked.

I dove over a burning couch and grabbed a bar stool where the living room became a bar and kitchen area. “Because no man has blinded you. Polyphemus want a cracker?” I swung up and for the fences as he charged and tripped over the couch. Lucky me, it gave the hit a little more oomph. Didn’t seem to break his skin, though. Crap.

It did give me time to duck in case the guard got an itchy trigger finger, but I looked over and noticed him shaking his head, then running. Can’t blame him. Shit’s on fire, yo. That’s why I tried to stay low, below the smoke and the really hot air. Which also gave me a way to beat the Senator in his new and improved form.

I couldn’t hold back a cough anyway as he fought back to his feet, but that wasn’t entirely a bad thing. Mostly a bad thing, but not entirely a bad one. He perked up, then looked down at the couch he’d failed to step over. It levitated off the ground without him touching it. Telekinesis, too, but he wasn’t using it to feel out the place.

When he threw the couch, I hopped up and jumped on it, rolling over the back to rest on the cushions by the time it slammed into the refrigerator I’d stood in front of. “Ooh, ya got me! Ya got me right in my pelvic splanchnic ganglia!”

“Shut up!” he tele-told me.

“Oh come on, you can’t say you didn’t expect some annoyance like this when you started all this mess.”

I saw him lean his head and horn forward, so I jumped up and hopped over the bar. He charged straight forward, to the right of the bar, and embedded his horn into the refrigerator. I sunk down on the other side of the bar, still trying to handle all this smoke better. Should have grabbed a rag and wet it in the kitchen.

“I was going to make this world perfect!” A roar reverberated alongside the telepathic voice.

“You and everyone else. What, your god tell you to make a utopia?” I hurried up the last of the sentence when I felt a cough coming on. I had a smudge on one of my eyes, too. I crawled, then hopped over a line of flames on the floor, getting clear of the bar I’d been hiding by. Good thing, too. The Senator waded into it, punching and kicking and tearing it all up.

“They showed me…” he trailed off in my head as he calmed down. He wobbled a little. Crap, the smoke inhalation starts getting to him just when he could be telling me all about someone’s evil plan that involves all its pawns thinking they’re building a utopia of some sort.

He never got to finish. Senator Powers fell unconscious onto the debris.

Well, that was an anticlimactic end for people fighting in a burning house, but one I counted on after it became clear I couldn’t get under his skin physically. He probably had some sort of super modifications to his lungs in that form, which is why he lasted that long with nothing but smoke, but even he couldn’t stand it forever. And from my coughing, it was time for me to skedaddle as well.

But first, I had something important to grab from the kitchen.

Moai stood sentry near the rest of the Powers family, all of them watching the house. Clobbered and unmoving guards rested nearby, some with sweet dreams and probably a couple in piece. They all gasped as I stepped out, my clothes sooty and burned, my left hand a little crispy for the second time in recent memory, and grasping something of importance. I hopped over the flames blocking the doorway and took in a lungful of fresh air. After hacking up ashy phlegm, I raised my left hand to my mouth and started chomping.

“Sorry I’m late,” I said between mouthfuls. I showed off the graham cracker, chocolate, and blackened marshmallow I’d brought with me, lest they thought I’d developed a taste for autocannibalism. “But that fight left me wanting s’more.”



Capital Chaos 9



“We need to talk,” Venus had said. She arrived in Washington shortly after my little message. The news heard about it and caught up to her. She looked right in the camera and said those four short words, addressing me alone out of the world, I’m sure.

I smiled and turned to Moai, “Thsee? The doeth think of me.” Damn fangs. I haven’t mastered talking around them yet. I felt a twinge above my mouth as I contracted the muscles holding them out and they slid up to hide behind my canines. I ran my tongue over the hidden tips. No acid of either sort. I tried first with LSD, but then I spent awhile staring at the sun, nude, singing about how great it was to be an Oscar Meyer weiner, and dreaming about sliding between people’s buns. Moai was relieved when I finally came down, because he had to keep people out of that park the entire time I was around, for fear of what I’d do. Justified fear, if he remembered the incident with Sexahol.

It was a drug intended to make people feel love, affection, and lust for everyone around. I loved people to death. This time, it was actually a little less graphic than what that phrase entails.

So I figured out I couldn’t pack anything into the fangs unless I was immune to it myself. Perhaps I’ll just have to build up a tolerance to some poisons, starting with Chinese century eggs. Oh, who am I kidding, I don’t hate myself THAT much. I’ll leave century eggs out of this.

So the fangs were kind of a wash, but I love my cute new fingernails, all black and shiny and made of black zirconium. Not cubic zirconium, either. It’s not diamond, but it’s damn sharp and damn hard. I haven’t made any more changes, though now I’m thinking them through. My use of armor is a relic of the people who made me the lovely, well-balanced person I am today. They were happy to pick kids from the emerging homo machina race, since they didn’t like us. They didn’t actually want us modified that much, though. My modifications mostly occurred of my own volition. The Psychopomp Project valued the traditional human form a lot more than I do.

So I’m considering the possibility of hidden pockets of nanites, internal padding or light armor plating, and replacing my bones with lighter, but stronger, alloys. Perhaps find a way to alter the makeup of my muscles to gain enhanced strength. There’s so much more I could be. Just hopefully not too heavy or pulled apart by magnets. Electromagnetism is already a weakness for me with my eyes and brain. I don’t need someone tossing me into the exosphere with a big electromagnet. And while I’ve kept the boobs so far, I’m still on the fence about them. They’re vulnerable, but they go with my nails.

Anyway, back to Venus. She wanted to talk, and I am well-known for my cooperation with authority figures. Alright, enough laughing. Venus made no secret of her whereabouts, nor did she surround herself by a lot of guards. She went around wearing a cold weather variant of her costume. A regular fight might keep you hot enough not to get through the cold, but there are plenty of occasions where people need to stay out for a lot longer than a fight. It looked like a drysuit or speedskating outfit, covering her body in lines of gold and white with pink accents that didn’t leave a lot to the imagination for most people. In my imagination, of course, I wondered if she had sexy bones, but that’s just me. Some paparazzi hung around her, but stupid is as stupid does. She wanted to minimize casualties if I stopped by to chat, and they wanted to be the casualties. In some places, they’d consider that a form of suicide.

I came for her when she was at her most vulnerable: eating a hot dog.

I left Moai with my armor nearby, but I needed something heavier than my classic trench coat look for this one. I arrived in a puffy, bright pink jacket with the fur around the hood. I hid my eyes behind sunglasses, too. I shouldn’t even bother at this point, with their ability to look normal, but it’s part of who I am.

I came out of an alleyway behind Venus as someone hounded her, looking for a picture they could photoshop into porn, when I called out, “Boopsie!” That got them a good photo as Venus started coughing up wiener in response to hearing her old pet name again. Her boyfriend used to call her that, before I killed him a couple times. They snapped away at her reaction, and at me as I approached with arms held out. Ignoring them for the moment, I added, “If you keep showing up every time someone needs to wrangle me, people are going to get ideas about us.”

Very few law-abiding citizens would have the balls to willingly and knowingly meet with me. Venus is the hero with the best survival rate.

“Psycho Gecko,” she said on turning around. She looked me over without a hint of surprise at my femininity. “You look different.”

I put my hands on my head. “Uh oh, I thought I was here to meet Venus. I didn’t realize you were Captain Obvious. Excuse me.” Though I did note her lack of surprise to find me female. Fascinating, I might add alliteratively as well.

“There is no excuse for you, Gecko,” Venus quipped back.

I pretended to be grabbing my heart. “Ya cut me, Venus. You cut me real deep. Right in the cockles of the heart, you cockle-tease.”

The whole time this is going on, these idiots with the cameras are just clicking away. I looked at one of them, but spoke to Venus, “You sure you don’t want me to kill these idiots? At this point, it’s just improving your gene pool.”

“Not my gene pool,” she responded, eyeing one of them nearby. She tossed the rest of her hot dog in a nearby trash can. “Please don’t kill them.”

“Wow, a please. It always amazes me how you can be so nice and polite to someone like me. Especially to someone who is me.” Addressing the paparazzo I’d looked at and pulled down my shades, “Hey, my eyes are up here.” My laser eye took out his camera. I glanced at another and blasted theirs, too. Then Venus decided to jump in the way and I stopped. Looking back on it, I wish I didn’t. I didn’t realize just how much stronger I’ve gotten than her. Just one good shot in the throat, ya know. Then again, as much as I want to kill her, I keep finding excuses not to. Some part of me likes her. Some really, really stupid part of me.

I kept looking at her throat, though my laser eye cooled off. I heard someone yell, “You destroyed my camera! I’ll sue your ass! You can’t shut me down.”

“Bitch, I break men of steel.” I turned and fixed him with a stare and a grin. He and the rest of the paparazzi gave us a respectful distance after that.

Venus motioned for me to join her. “Come on, walk with me.” When I stepped up beside me, she whispered, “And thanks. They were really annoying.”

“So, you wanted to talk.”

She nodded. “I need you to stop killing people on the list.”

“Aww, but mooooom,” I whined.

“And get rid of it, even if you have to delete it and everything you know about it.”


“I’m calling in my favor. You do remember you owe me, right? It’s been almost a year.”

I remember. Captain Lightning owed me for the Spinetingler incident, and I owed Venus for it. Near the end, she saved my life for some damn reason. So I owe her. I actually meant to kill her before she could call in the favor, but I got caught up in international affairs and then learned about the aliens who are going to kill me. Or die trying, if I have my way.

“Okily dokily. I will get rid of and/or delete the list.” I rolled my eyes.


“And I will stop going out of my way to kill people on the list.”

“That wasn’t what I said.”

I threw my hands up. “Well, what do you want? If they come after me, I’m not allowed to defend myself? Someone already tried to blow me up, ya know. Or if I’m just strolling along, snapping necks, are you going to punish me for killing someone randoml-” I stopped when Venus cold-cocked me across the jaw.

“Yes, I would. Stop that.” She actually turned and pointed her finger at me. What did she think I was, a puppy?

Still, not a bad punch. One of those that popped my jaw a little. I wiggled it and made sure it was in its proper place before shaking a finger right under her nose. “Venus, I swear, do you always have to resort to violence as your first response? We were having a peaceful conversation about murdering people.” I kept wiggling my finger. She brushed it away and kept on walking. “What, no ancient kung fu finger hold? No knuckle lock?”

She pointed back over her shoulder without looking back or breaking stride. “That’s bait. Besides, I don’t think your girlfriend would appreciate me holding your hand.”

I caught up to her. “Well, ya know, Taiwanese strippers are often noted for jealousy and being quick to unleash their wrath on the wicked.”

“You know who I mean.”

“That marriage was purely online, and I got it annulled anyway. Clicked the wrong button at a Ukrainian mail order bride site.”


“Venus, it’s the middle of winter. There aren’t any flowers growing around here. Wait, isn’t there some sort of botanical garden in this town?” I looked around even as my eye HUD started looking that up for me. Wow, a botanical garden and an arboretum. Counting the monuments and Congress, this might be the highest concentration of boring in the world.

“You know what I mean, Norma. That was mean what you did, but you wouldn’t have done it if you didn’t care about her a little bit. Your note showed that.”

I faked puzzlement, instead wondering when she worked out my other identity as Norma Mortenson, owner of Double Cross Incorporated. And I’m not sure I actually sent Wildflower that note. Nope, upon video review of my memory, I crossed it out and got caught up in this whole registration mess.

“How could I care for whoever this is about? I don’t know them. Or, if I do, I hardly know them.” Oooh, we were passing an ice cream place. I could branch out into ice cream, maybe use it to smuggle drugs. Plus, ice cream parties on demand.

“You dated her. She told me about your trip to Broadway, and how you arranged a private dinner at the aquarium late at night. She told me all about the origins of Norma’s powers, which sounded a lot like the book The Master and Margarita. You remember that, right? You mentioned it when you forced me to go on a date with you.”

If only the coffee shop we now stood in front of was one of my Mastermind Cafe franchises. It would be easier to arrange for a quick escape with one of them. I stopped there to let Venus continue talking, ignoring a couple leaving the coffee shop. “She even told me how you stayed with her all night to watch over her in the asylum, you big softy.”

I glanced at the couple gawking at Venus and had an idea, an idea I loudly put into words right when they went to sip on their drinks. “Ooooh, you mean that night I pounded her in the ass?!”

The resulting spit-take from the couple distracted Venus for just a second, and while it takes longer than that for me to come, I can go quite easily in that amount of time.

Perhaps it was wrong of me to honor that favor. Maybe I am going soft. I did get rid of the list. I don’t have it in my possession at all. Nope. Instead, I posted it online for everyone to see.

Yep, I’m just a big softy. I may not even have to kill anyone on the list now that it’s public. Sad.

Of course, that does leave me with one last tiny loose end to tie up. Senator Powers tried to blow me up. Technolutionary, Moai, and his own daughter, Priscilla Powers, too; but I’m the most important person he tried to blow up. Sure, I didn’t want to kill him at the height of his popularity in case he was a martyr. Now, regardless of his ability to deflect scandal, his cause is dead and I have dirt on a few of his political allies.

And he is most certainly not on that registration list.



Capital Chaos 8



Ah, superheroes. It’s a pity they love the world as is enough to defend it as such. Too many of them take it as it is without truly knowing what it’s like. Can’t say the same about the former Miss Starshine. Way back when, she was a beauty pageant winner. Then she was a superhero. Then she hung up the tights and ran for Congress. She quickly rose to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, then ended her Congressional career to join a lobbying firm.

I hear that happens. Either way, she signed up on this list. Maybe she got some sort of political consideration for it. “Sure, I’ll sign up on your stupid little list if you move something through a committee,” or something like that. Either way, she had a nice place over in a part called West End.

Little Miss Starshine. Well, not so little now. Used to wear a sequined costume with no legs to it. She could sing, she could dance, she could turn into a shadow form indistinguishable from the dark except for gleaming eyes. It’s always a shame when powers like that wind up in the hands of someone who wants to waste them.

Even more of a shame, she didn’t invest in a better alarm system, but that wouldn’t have saved her anyway. I think she had some latent paranoia, though. I heard her come in, talking on her phone. It sounded like she paused, perhaps looking around. I couldn’t tell from where I hid. Maybe she was just on guard after everything that happened? A kidnapping, vandalism, explosions, a submarine, Psycho Gecko on the loose, and then a blizzard? Shit, I’m not even responsible for the weather, but that’s why they couldn’t even bother with a search of the city. Officially, they decided I’d have to be crazy to stick around.

And there I was, still in D.C., in a high rise on the West End, trying to keep myself from laughing as I heard Starshine drop to her knees and check under her bed. Then she opened the closet. One trip to the bathroom and she sighed, telling her conversational partner that, “I felt like someone walked over my grave. It’s nothing I guess, Laura.” Then she flopped on the bed, feeling the unusual mass of something inside the mattress.

I thrust my hand up, through her chest. She screamed, and I felt her body change around my arm. Unfortunately for her, I’d already taken out a lung. In fact, giving them a squeeze shut her up quickly. She tried to pant, but I tore through the bedding with my other hand and pulled her head in with me, covering her mouth. Yes, she had changed to some person of darkness, but that didn’t help her at that point. I watched the lights leave her eyes and caressed her heart while it slowed and stopped.

When I sat up partially out of the mattress, I was surprised to find the phone still on the bed, the voice on the other end frantically asking, “Theresa? What happened? I’ve got Martin calling the cops. Talk to me!”

I looked at it, then got an evil little idea to make up for not scaring Starshine before taking her out. My suit and cyborg voicebox altered my voice to match what I’d briefly heard while lying in wait. “It’s fine, Laura. I’m fine.” I lowered my voice. “I’m fine…forever.” Then, I cranked up the volume and warped my voice to a roar. “DON’T TRY TO RUN!”

Ahahahahaha! I wish I’d seen the look on her face. I wished I could have done something like that to Starshine, but I knew better than to risk it. I wasn’t going to gamble her life on a fun little jump scare. Her death needed to be a sure thing. And it was.

As an added bonus, a better name opened up for Forcelight to use.

I’d sent Technolutionary back to Empyreal City, figuring I’d head back there before too long. I worked my way through a few of the ones I could find around the capital, but they weren’t all in the area and I could blackmail people pretty much anywhere. Heck, I even ran into one of them while trying to grab a bite to eat.

I walked up to the counter of this fast food place to order a burger and noticed a weird scale pattern on this guy’s arms. At first I thought it was a tattoo, but then I saw the fang tattoo on the guy’s face and that made it apparent that the scales were a skin condition. That’s when I remembered a guy named Viper Fang I hadn’t seen a photo of, but whose description mentioned a scaley skin condition and some tattoos. I figured I’d make some conversation while trying to check his most distinctive feature. “Hey there, you look familiar. You been in some trouble?”

He looked around, holding his neck stiff like. “No sir, or ma’am, I’m a productive member of society now. I don’t want any trouble. What can I do for you today?”

See, that’s something I just couldn’t do. Go from a great and feared killer to pushing burgers? And to think, some people imagine me reforming in some way.

I leaned over to look down past the counter. His pants weren’t really pants. They were sewn together in a way that they could pass for pants high up, but were really one solid leg to make room for a snake tail. It must have been a strain, because only a couple feet of tail showed where his shoes would be. I don’t believe most snakes stay up like that all the time.

Viper Fang, a snake-like former villain. Scaley skin, a fang tattoo, and the lower half of his body resembles a snake. I don’t know where he hides his balls and dick. Got himself caught. I suppose he could have gotten out by now for good enough behavior. It’s no secret how they got his identity. Most villains who do time have their identity uncovered, voluntarily or not. The list of powers requires a bit more cooperation, though.

I grabbed a meal tray with someone else’s food and bashed Viper Fang upside his head. Ice Cube once said that a day where he didn’t use his AK is a good day. A day where I get to take something upside someone is a good day.

Fang’s physiology gives him a bit more give to certain blows, so he rode out a hit to the head without quite as many ill effects as would be expected. Since I hit him with a plastic tray, the blow didn’t do too much to him. He tried to dodge subsequent swings, hoping to avoid a fight. Maybe he’s used to it by now.

“Ma’am…sir…whatever you are, I don’t want to fight you. I’m no longer a criminal.” He slowly slithered to my left, trying to head around for the kitchen of the little restaurant. He only moved so fast with most of his tail in his pants.

Now, I didn’t have my armor on, so my lethal options were only limited to anything you could find in a restaurant. So not that many limits. I hopped on the counter and kicked a soda into Viper’s face. He hissed as the frosty beverage hit him and splashed everywhere. I followed it up with a dropkick.

His tail fell out from under him and he went backwards into the main kitchen. Other workers tried to get between us. I grabbed a long-haired guy and a short-haired woman. “Now kiss.” I smacked their heads into each other and let them drop in a huddle. I approached Viper, wondering where on a snake I could shove the spatula from the grill. That’s important. Not everyone thinks through all the various body types a person can encounter in this world. “Come on, you’re about to die here. Stop being such a pussy, snake.”

Like I’m one to talk. After much personal debate, I settled on keeping girl parts between my legs. It was an easy decision as far as protecting the balls. To get away from the topic of a life-and-death battle with a giant snake-man, I am reminded of the science fiction show Farscape, when this one grey-skinned nympho alien approached a big reptilian alien with the ability to project intense heat from his hands. She goes up to him and asks, without any clarification on the terminology, if he has mivoks. Then she kicks him between the legs. She grabs her leg, hurt, and he tells her, “Yes, but they’re not external.”

I’m just trying to protect my mivoks. The jury’s still out on boobs for the same reason, though.

Well, Viper Fang finally got up and showed me what he had going for him. He tore his pants up, whipping his tail around the floor to knock me over. I caught myself against a fryer and almost burned my fingers off when I grabbed hold of the lip of the fryer. Taking advantage of my fall, he flipped back upright and hissed, exposing a pair of fangs so big, they must have flipped out from somewhere.

He lunged for me, face first, and I grabbed the closest thing I could grab. I smacked the hot fryer basket against his face along with a full load of burning fries. He hissed up a storm, or maybe that was how his skin responded to all the heat. Either way, I let go of the handle and stood up while he whipped his head around to lose the basket. He wasn’t free for long, as I’d circled around behind him. As soon as he threw it off, I pushed my weight onto his back and rode his face down to the grill. I ignored all the yelling and thrashing to grab a spatula and start smacking him on the back of the head with it. “Order will be up momentarily! It’s putting up a bit of a fight this time!”

He got his hands under him, burning them on the grill, but it gave him enough leverage to push me off him and stand up. I bounced off some sort of sink and came back at a different angle. This time, I grabbed his head and drove it into the fryer.

Both of us yelled plenty while I held his hand under the boiling oil, feeling myself cooking. My yelling turned into laughing as I tried to handle the intense pain. I assume he felt the same thing, unless his brain went first. When I let go, I fell back on my ass to rest a moment, looking at my hands. They were…well, dinner was ready. Some part of me still wanted to throw them under some water, probably the living nerves right beside the dead ones. I couldn’t feel anything from the hands anymore. They were just fried meat at that point.

And, I’ll admit, they smelled delicious.

Gasping for breath after screaming, I pulled up my phone and called for Moai to pick me up and bring an extra nanite syringe with him. I couldn’t feel around to find out if the one I had on me was still intact, let alone inject it on my own under that condition. It was a long, long wait, made worse by the arrival of the cops, which forced me out into the cold. Yeah, I got to put some cold on it after all, and it also caressed my nerves with the stabbing fingers of pain.

Hmm. There’s an idea. Stabbing fingers. I mean, I’m already putting my genitals in weird places. Might as well modify a few other things. And maybe something like my armor’s quilted, nanite-filled layer, but in my skin. It’d make it easier next time something like this happened.

In the end, I evaded the police long enough for Moai to show up and inject me, and I spent the rest of the day convalescing. It disappointed me to see that no one in the know pointed out a connection between the attacks, so I’m afraid I had to go live. I wore my armor, so they’d know it was the real me. I can have any face and any body shape in the world, because my real one is the armor I wear. There’s probably a psychotherapist flipping out over that last statement, but I’m sure they have enough other problems with stuff I share.

Yep, one minute the local Fox affiliate was discussing the weather, then they announced they had a caller who claimed to have intimate knowledge of the recent slayings. I had to tip my hand to the call screeners, so they probably had police alerted and someone trying to trace my video call. “Good evening, my dear Washington. It is I, the Great and Devious Psycho Gecko. That’s right, I’m so famous, I’m infamous. And I killed them. Viper Fang, Starshine, the others. You wouldn’t necessarily know those names. Those are super aliases, the same ones listed in their registration list.”

“Pardon me, registration list?” asked the newscaster, showing a bit grit.

“That’s right, duderino! You see, just a short while back, Senator Powers tried to talk up some voluntary registration. I’m sure he thought it was clever to put it in the hands of Constellation Consortium. Yes, it was that private company who had the submarine in the Potomac. They’re the group that couldn’t protect themselves. I’m guessing Powers wanted to avoid an Edward Snowden situation, where government data inevitably gets leaked, by going to the private sector. Guess he didn’t remember that incident too well, either. So I got a hold of the list. It was inevitable. If I didn’t do it, someone would have. So now, for everyone who put their trust in the Senator, and who put their trust in the idea that more than one person can keep a secret…well, let’s just say I enthusiastically endorse the Senator’s plan to register the secret identities of people who fight me.”

I giggled at that one and cut the feed.

I turned back to where Moai stood holding a boom mic. “Now, let’s get back to designing me a better body. I’m thinking fangs that can hide and sort of flip out. The question is…,” I held up both hands. Above one, an image appeared of bubbling liquid eating through metal, wood, and people. Above the other, a bunch of hippies were dancing at Woodstock. “…do I inject them with acid or acid?”

Damn it’s fun to be me again.



Capital Chaos 7



Of all things, the miracles just keep on piling up around here. I use that in a comedic sense. I don’t believe in any of these heathen religions around this dimension. They’re all obviously untrue when compared to the heathen religions of my dimension.

No, I use miracle in the inaccurate sense of a thing someone considered unlikely happening.

First, we have the FDA jumping Long Life’s medical nanites to the front of their queue and approving their use on humans. I know I said you could bribe the FDA with McDonald’s, but I figured I’d still have to make some effort. I planned to visit them, I just hadn’t done it already. It’ll piss off pretty much everyone else in my company, but we’re running low on time and my life is worth more to me than all the money in the world. It’s worth more than anyone else’s life in the world, too, and once you realize that, you have a pretty good idea why I do some of the things I do.

Also miraculous is the way Senator Powers is coming out of this whole mess stronger than ever, like a man with a tai chi tongue. That sounded better in my head. The idea, not the tongue. Ew.

And a third miraculous event occurred just the other day, on the Potomac river. Wearing a robe, holding a gnarled wooden staff, face bedecked in a long white wig and beard, I approached the Potomac near the Kennedy Center. Ignoring confused and curious stares, I stood there until the proximity alarm went off, signalling the imminent arrival of the Constellation Consortium’s submarine. I heard a scrape as Moai sidled up behind me

If I’d known any better when Captain Lightning first said something, I’d have assumed he was lying. Turns out the Potomac is shallow as shit. It didn’t really occur to me from what I saw of it, but then I started scouting it out to find out that the Potomac is oftentimes less of a river and more like a big drainage ditch. There have been some years where the Mississippi has lost more depth than the Potomac has in some of its deeper spots. The good news is that really narrowed down the areas where I could find a submarine near Washington D.C. At first, I worried about having to walk along the river floor, knock on some hatches, and say I had mail to deliver to Constellation.

Instead, all I had to do was stand there on the bank of the Potomac, raise my staff, and signal for detonation. With one massive boom, the river’s waters split to form a momentary land bridge to Theodore Roosevelt Island and reveal a small submarine getting knocked every which way. The parting of the waters didn’t last, but the disorientation of the sub undoubtedly would.

I threw off the robe, beard, and wig, then jumped out toward the approximate location of the vessel. I landed feet first in water, then slid into more of a split as the sub attempted to surface. Curved, smooth hulls plus lots of waters. It’s a good thing I left my nuts on the inside. It still hurt, don’t get me wrong, but it hurt a hell of a lot less than if I’d attacked a submarine sack-first. In front of me, I saw its sail break the surface of the water.

Yeah, the sail. Apparently that’s what they call that big tower part that sticks out above the rest of the submarine. On older subs, that used to be a conning tower for observation and sensors and stuff. Nowadays, it’s for stability and entering the sub itself. I pulled myself up and stood next to the door. When I heard something on it shift, I reached down and grabbed a rubber chicken off my belt. The man who poked his head out got whipped across the back of the neck with my cock. He retreated inside, holding his neck instead of the door. I grabbed it with my left hand to keep anyone from sealing me out, then whipped the chicken in my right hand at him. This time, he caught the body of it. I twisted its neck and tore the head off, causing him to go falling down some hatch with a ladder. I quickly shut the door most of the way and counted off the seconds until another explosion boomed from inside.

I followed as soon as the chicken grenade went of and dropped down that hatch. Not having looked before I leapt, I found myself having to spread my legs again to keep from falling through to another level. It was the control room I wanted, not the bunks. While many subs nowadays don’t put the control room directly under the sail anymore, almost no subs are small enough to crawl up the ass of the Potomac.

Surrounded by a stunned control room crew, I cracked my knuckles and asked them, “Gentlemen, shall we begin?”

I punted one’s head into his fancy schmancy steering wheel before two others began to begin. But I caught them at the beginning of beginning to begin. The first one, I gave him a purple nurple. The other tried to pull me off, but I kicked him in the shin. Heard something snap. He fell down, screaming. It’s just a broken tibia. Walk it off!

Still engaged in hand-to-nipple combat, I started spinning around. My victim grabbed at my hands, trying to hang on as the whirling motion lifted him off his feet. Seveal of the other bridge crew were knocked down before he finally slipped free. Well, that’s not completely accurate. Most of him flew clear of me and hit a work station. A couple patches of his shirt and two nipples stayed behind in my hands.

I looked around at the downed crew and noted that some of them were just pretending to be knocked out. I tossed a nipple at one’s face and he whimpered, but kept squeezing his eyes shut.

Huh. Well I suppose most submarine crews just aren’t prepared for a good, hard boarding. Then again, it said something that Constellation could afford their own submarine and somehow got it up the Potomac this far. Navies require more expensive vessels, more expensive maintence, more expensive logistics, and personnel with specialized training. Well, maybe logistics isn’t that big of a problem. Shallow as the Potomac is, they could have popped the hatch and gone for some Burrito Bell. Not that they’d want to. Locked in a cramped metal can with twenty or so people and a bad case of gas? Sounds like something I should have done to them.

I looked up, trying to reorient myself. When I thought I had my directions down pat, I moved forward over the spilled seamen that there was no use crying over. The next room up was the radio room where a woman sat calling out an SOS. Hmm, asking for help from anyone, or just from their company? I took care of her and the radio gear by delicately shoving one inside the other. The woman didn’t get to be the insides this time, either.

Crossing back into the control room, I knew I needed to work quickly. That close to the White House, in the middle of the nation’s capital, with explosions and a submarine? I knew the long cock of the law could jump down my throat any minute. I grabbed one mess of snot and fear off the ground and hauled him to his feet. “Up and at’em, chief. You know who I am? I’m Captain Don’t Fuck With Me. I’m here for information. If I don’t get it, I’ll just pull you brain out and take it along with me so I can examine it later, see if you were holding back on me.” I pulled lifted him off his feet and held his face close to my helmet. “Now calm down, finish whatever you’re doing in your pants, and say ‘Yes, sir.’”

He closed his eyes, took a few deep breaths to find his inner calm, then shouted, “Sir, yes sir!”

“Good. Where would Constellation keep information it didn’t want getting out? Like secret files that it needed to squirrel away in a safe place.”

“Cancer Base,” he answered, keeping his eyes shut. “It’s a military island base in the Pacific leftover from World War II.”

“Good,” I said. More like good grief. Now back to the Pacific ocean for some island? I wish I could just nuke the site from orbit, but then I couldn’t be sure. Fuck. But since I was in the sub anyway, I figured I’d ask it something I’d been wondering myself. “Now, what the hell are y’all doing floating around here?”

“Don’t!” another one of these pilots said as he jumped to his feet.

I calmly set down the fellow I was interrogating and turned to the new participant in our friendly conversation. I grabbed his head firmly with both hands and kicked him in the chest. With squelchy, cracking, ripping sound, his body flew back into a chair. I turned back to the one I’d been talking to and handed him the head. “Sorry for that rude interruption. Do go on.”

He threw the head to the side. “Fuck!”

I ahemed to remind him time was of the essence.

“Alright. We’re here…shit, they’re gonna kill me…”

Inside my armor, I rolled my eyes, “It’s ok. I can protect you. I mean, look at me.”

He nodded. “We provide a special protection service for important political figures in the District of Columbia. There’s a vault in the submarine where we store important documents and data.”


“Data?” I asked. “Why not show me this room?”

He pointed toward the radio room. “It’s accessible from there.”

“Bullshit. Been there, seen it. It’s a dead end.”

He moved past me to one of the dead bodies on the floor. “Let me get the key.”

Well, he showed me that room, and I didn’t see shit again until he took out this weird cylinder out that had square and rectangular notches missing along the sides in twisting pattern. He went up to a bolt on the bulkhead toward the front and pressed the key into it. The optical illusion was shattered as it slid in and showed that the bolt was really a concave section of the wall designed in such a way as to look convex. Then the cylinder slid in. He when it reached the end, he rotated it, slid it in further, and so on. By the end, the entire cylinder was inserted and the wall popped open.

I stepped in, looking over two shelves (and the floor, courtesy of my remote mines) worth of hot blackmail material. Paternity tests, cocaine, pictures of people buying cocaine, an entire box labeled “Dead Hooker Panties,” a maternity test, a few small computer servers, assorted evidence bags, and small filing cabinets. Just a wealth of valuable stuff. I started stuffing as much of it as I could in my pockets, especially those servers, starting with small and working my way up to the biggest, which I had to pack under my arm.

Turning, I noticed the guy who showed me the door standing there, hand on it. I left an illusion of myself in place and disappeared from view, only reappearing and letting the hologram drop until I got out there by him. “Boo!”

Heh, made him jump.

But, I did try to make good on what I told him. I hopped up to the sail and waited for him to scramble up after me. I kicked the door open and we rushed out at once.

The submarine was ringed by a lot of boats with recoilless rifles and armed people. In the air, we had helicopters. Some were attack choppers, others had snipers. I think I heard a Warthog flying somewhere overhead. That’s that big plane with the anti-tank Gatling gun and precision anti-tank missiles. Those armaments might hint at why I’ve bothered to learn what it sounds like flying in the distance. Oh, and over on the shore were SWAT vans, APCs, a couple tanks, and a pair of those trucks that shoot surface-to-air missiles.

Off in the distance, I noticed Moai looking nonchalant in the rental escape car.

“It’s ok,” I whispered to the guy I’d interrogated. “I have a special protective shield.”

“Really?” he asked, turning to me.

I grabbed him up by the waist and held him in front of me. “Come and get me, coppers!”

The initial volley indeed took out my human shield, who I dropped as the holographic projectors worked to hide me from the world. I skipped out of there along the police boats, careful not to get too high lest I get an anti-air rocket in my poop chute.

And guess what, folks! My magic hands and I penetrated the secrets of these little servers and found lots more juicy stuff to use against an awful lot of folks around this town. No wonder Constellation had the money and influence to get their own sub up the river. And, the best secret of all, was the list. The volunteer superhuman registration list. The one that contains the names of various superheroes, some civilian, some military. And a few involuntary ones, if the number of incarcerated supervillains is any indication. Even better, I got enough dead hooker panties to have some REAL fun in this town!



Capital Chaos 6



I’m glad I was here in Washington for the latest and greatest in Presidential speeches.

“My fellow Americans, I’m here to address a few points I didn’t cover in my recent State of the Union Address. First, I’d like to address the friendly rivals of the opposing party: kiss my ass, you ignorant butt monkey fuckers. I hate every one of you cumsucking scum nuts, drag-assing around for no other reason than to make me look bad. Furthermore, I have proposed some executive actions to several of your wives, and gave their pussies one hell of a filibuster. By the way, if my daughters are watching this right now, babies, you’ll want to change the channel. It’s about to get nasty. Now lets move on to a sackless bunch of so-called allies I’ve seen since Italy joined the Triple Alliance. Once again, for members of the opposing party, getting that joke involves knowing a little something about history. It’s that thing you’ve been repeating since you don’t know shit from shiitake. But you got nothing on these two-faced sons of bitches that couldn’t pass a bill if I filled it with corn and shoved it down their throats. Now, I’d like to thank God for providing an example here of the biggest room of pale, soulless dicks since the gay ginger porn awards.” The President started to point around the room. “I hate you, I hate you, I don’t even know you, but I hate your guts. I hope all the bad things in life happen to you and nobody else. You’re cool. And I would just like to say to all of you: kiss my ass, you rotten motherfuckers.”

Of course, then they ruin the whole thing by showing me getting chased out by the Secret Service and the real President who hasn’t gotten through his wrist ties yet while going “Whoopwhoopwhoopwhoopwhoop!” I had to. You can’t put me around so many important people trying to maintain imagined dignity and not get something like that.

As for temporarily incapacitating the POTUS, that was also a fun little achievement to pull off. It almost messed up my performance, since I had to wait in that mini fridge for more than an hour before he decided to wet his whistle on the way to his Martin Luther King Jr. Day speech.

It certainly turned out to be worth it. I think. It’s debatable, since it was another instance of prominent supervillain crime affecting a politician. But it was funny and didn’t actually hurt anyone, so that looks better. And it served to forward another part of what I’m doing around here.

Technolutionary couldn’t stand the crack house, so he tried renting his own motel by the interstate. To be fair, cheap motels often serve as amateur laboratories to the methamphetamine-inclined. I’m fairly sure he’s not going to cook up any of that. He’s too uptight. Like, maybe he’s a cocaine guy? But even though he wanted to stare at all that, he told me he’d stay in town until we were finished so he could lend a hand if needed. With him out, I redecorated the crack house to mark it as my property and prevent stray people from strolling on in. You’d be amazed what you can use as a nice lamp cover when your only raw materials are a bunch of drug addicts.

He said he’d keep an eye out about Constellation, too. Decent of him, though he didn’t have the sort of information-gathering resources at his disposal as Harlon, Fortune Cookie, or Double Cross. I’d gotten them in on the act of hunting down the Voluntary Super Registration List and/or Captain Lightning so I could call in a favor.

While Gecko’s Amazing Spy Squad ran down the possible locations of Constellation Consortium bases and/or got a message through to Captain Lightning, I decided to look into a hunch I had and pay a visit to the Booth Busters. That’s the informal name of the District of Columbia Anti-Superhuman Enforcement. While the Secret Service handles superhuman threats to the President, Washington itself gets DCASE and their containment facility.

They kept the few supers they captured in a rounded, three-story tower erected next to Fort Washington in Maryland. It’d be pretty damn tough to get someone out of there without a lot of heavy firepower. Or a presidential pardon.

Sorry to disappoint, folks, but I released Max Muscles the legal way: impersonating the president.

The New Jerseyite strongman looked dazed as they let him go. I mean, they didn’t know what was going on any more than he did, but mine was the only car around. I stopped right by Max and the pair of guards with him. “Gentlemen!” I exclaimed on exiting the car. To them, I looked like any other man who happened to be wearing a red, white, and blue costume with my cape, ballistic vest, and eagle-themed helmet.

Max Muscles, who I’d met in one of my aliases back in New Jersey, kindly provided exposition for the guards. “Missile Patriot!”

“That’s right! I have been sent to retrieve you on the orders of the President of these United States, by the power vested in me by the grand ole flag, the grand old party, and the grand ol’ opry! By the way, here’s a little something for you boys, the President said to go out, find some strippers with really big cans, and start making some regrets.” I handed the nearest guard a briefcase full of ones.

She held out a clipboard in return. “You’re going to need to sign for the prisoner.”

Eh, fine, whatever. Makes no difference to me. I gave her my John Hancock and she undid the useless restrains on Max’s wrists. “Thank you, Mr. Hancock.”

“Don’t mention it. And you go have fun with those strippers, now!”

I looked Max over as he got in the car. A bit leaner than last time. Unshaven. No slick hair this time around. “How have you been, Max?”

“I don’t know, bro. Things got crazy. Brian is schoolin’ it up in college, just totally crushin’ the coed pussy. Oh, but right after you left, Gastrolord disappeared. Cops found his stuff, though. So I been able to party and lay down the law on my own since then. Matter fact, Gastrolord being gone’s why Brian figured he’d be fine gettin’ his college on.”

Bulletproof Brian is Max Muscles’s friend. Together, they were known as Generation Flex. I killed Gastrolord. I was hanging around in Jersey, fighting an organization called Hephaestus that maintained a warehouse there because Hephaestus refused to pay me on a job. Gastrolord was a snail-themed villain who tried to collect on a bounty they put on my head. Unfortunately for him, I upgraded his ejector seat in the cockpit of this giant snail vehicle he drove around. Extra power and the ability for me to engage it remotely. It was very messy. No wonder they never identified the body.

“So, that’s it? Gastrolord disappeared, Brian went to college, you were on your own; one thing led to another and you attack the Capital.” My visor precluded me showing off a raised eyebrow of incredulity.

He looked ahead. “Can we get away from here, first?”

I nodded and took us away. Not a fan of discussing it in the parking lot, I guess. “Why’d you do it? Someone pay you? It’s just not anything like what you’d pull. I mean, maybe party around the place, but not throwing cars around and all.”

“I think I drank too much, or it was too much ex. I started losing time. Blackout, man. Not cool, bro. I got out of control, just too much fun. One of my bros recommended AA, so I went there. It was like one of those things where you realize somethin’. I mean, they tell you to put your life in God’s hands, pray to him, confess your sins to him, and try to spread his message ‘n all. I started talkin’ to God, and he gave me this feeling. He guided me. He told me I could make the world a better place. Like, a heaven on earth. He brought me here, and then he said I needed to make a sacrifice for the good of everyone. See, everything’s better now. You’re here, and you got me out!”

I digested that mentally at a stoplight. “So no bribe? Nothing?”

“No, nobody paid me.”

“Ever heard of Constellation or Senator Powers?”


“Let’s have a bite somewhere and I’ll set you up to head back to Jersey, how’s that?”

“You’re a bro, bro.”

Another meal, another bit of cash tossed away, but at least a little information. I believe someone spoke to Max Muscles, but I doubt it was any deity. A super with telepathy, maybe? It’s a great power to pull off a scam like that. “Tina? This is Jesus. I need you to make out a check and send it to this P.O. Box, and you’ll get your eternal rewards in the afterlife.” If anything, it’s more surprising none of them have gone for a bigger prize. Then again, how would I know they haven’t?

Now there’s a question, but not one I have to answer. I’m not the hero of this story.

But I did get a visit from one. It was shortly after that, while trying to figure out which sex to go with. I was male, due to Fortune Cookie sending me a text message to call a number that in no way resembled a phone number for the United States. Celebration! I’ll have to bring her back a souvenir…the Washington Memorial, maybe? Hmm, knowing her, she wouldn’t want any phallic symbol I’d been carrying around with me. I’ll think of something. Maybe I can get her the Constitution.

At first, I wondered if dialing this number would send me backwards in time to go meet Socrates and ask him why I was kicking his ass. I used a burner phone because it’s easier to ditch a phone than my head. One call later, a man picked up and asked, “Hello?”

“Hello?” I echoed.

Him. “Who is this?”

Me. “Who is THIS?”

“My name is Captain Lightning.”

“Oh, hey dude, it’s Psycho Gecko. Remember me? I fought you to the death inside a nightmarish hellscape that time. How ya been?”

“How are you calling me on this number? This is an abandoned hospital in…a country I’m not allowed to identify.”

“To be honest, I don’t entirely know how I’m doing this either, but I’m probably going to put someone’s face on Mt. Rushmore because of this. Oh, and I need to call in one of those favors you owe me.”

He sighed. “I don’t think I can help you put a new face on Rushmore.”

“That’s not what I called for. I’m trying to find information on a PMC,” that’s private military company, or contractor, or concerto, “called Constellation.”

“Stay where you are. Where are you?”

I looked around at the crack house and its visceral aesthetic. I’m not sure if dead druggies is in style for entertaining guests. “If you’re wanting to meet me, you’ll want to meet me somewhere else than here.” I glanced at a pair of legs sticking out from a hole in the wall. The pants were stained with blood, urine, and what I could only assume is a large quantity of chocolate pudding. I could assume that, but I won’t. “Plus, I’ve got nothing to eat to offer you for hospitality.” Which was true. Some people can tie a cherry stem with their tongue, but I challenge you to find anyone else who can stick a whole coconut up someone’s nose. Not their own nose, but someone’s.

“Fine. Jefferson Memorial. Meet me there as soon as possible. I’ll be there in ten.” He hung up.

Huh. Well, I made there just about on time with the help of my armor. We met in the shadow of Thomas Jefferson’s statue. He had some good ideas, and some bad. They mostly stuck the good ones in the building, since it wouldn’t do to have uncomfortable mentions of slave-fucking.

Nice quotes though. “I have sworn upon the altar of god eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.” Almost sounds like my kinda guy, though my favorite was a bit longer: “I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.”

The little attention I pay to politics makes that one hilarious. The assumption that people move away from barbarism just because they know better, especially. Makes me want to knock out half the wall and build an encroaching Nixon Memorial, because my experience shows that people will still kill, suppress, threaten, steal, and rape no matter how advanced they are. Civilization just means you wear nicer clothes while you do it.

Though some people do dream about a place where being a dick to someone isn’t the default. Bleh, now I’m starting to sound like Max Muscles, or Senator Powers, or even Oligarch.

“You never struck me as a tourist,” said someone behind me. The 360 display showed Captain Lightning floating down from roof level, having flown in real quick from spreading democracy to countries the United States isn’t supposed to have forces in. He wore a bright red costume with a white and gold lightning bold on his chest. He didn’t have a cape this time. Despite having fought in World War II, he looked to be in his early forties, maybe. No grey in his hair. Overall, he looked better than when he was in thrall to Spinetingler, the horror villain.

“Let us remember the past so we can better destroy the future, that sort of thing.” I shrugged and turned around. “You didn’t want to discuss Constellation over the phone?”

A nod. “The government loves private contractors in everything from wet works to intelligence gathering. I remember when we trusted the country’s protection and management to those with higher ideals.”

“Or people who were at least better about hiding it, which shows more competence and discernment. Anyway, I need to know where Constellation might have any secure servers that require a physical presence to get into. They have some data I need. I mean, I don’t expect you to know all that, so I’ll settle on a base of theirs and hopefully pry out the location from there. Or from other people.”

“Can you tell me a little more about why?” he asked, raising an eyebrow.

A holographic ring of crazy brown hair appeared on the back of my helmet as I told him, “Aliens.”

He shook his head.

“No, I’m serious. Aliens. They’re up to something. We’re going to need all hands on deck to stop them. I’m not even killing as many heroes as I normally do because of this.”

“You think Constellation is part of it?” He floated down to touch the ground. Off in the distance, I think I noticed some snapshots. I threw up a hologram of me looking like an anonymous man in black.

“No, but I think they’re involved in something that’s going to weaken the superpowered community. Like it or not, I’m kind of a murderous referee.”

Captain Lightning mulled it over for half a minute. “Officially, I’m not helping you, because Constellation’s affiliates are not involved in the theft of foreign artwork and gold or the smuggling of illegal narcotics into the country, are we clear?” He smirked as he said it.

I cocked my head to the side like a confused dog or a man with a broken neck or a man hit upside the head with a dog with a broken neck. “…no?”

“Good. So whatever you do, do not attack the nearest Constellation base, which is a mobile headquarters stationed in the Potomac.” He pointed behind him, to the west where the Potomac river flowed.

“Really? Can you clarify where it is, so I won’t get too close by accident? Because I don’t see any boats or islands or anything.”

“It should be easy to avoid a submarine, but you wouldn’t believe how many times they run into things.” He shook his head. “That’s a discussion for another time, unless you want me to help you. That would be another favor.”

I shook my head. “Nope, I got this.”

“You’ve got a submarine?”

“Not yet, but I’m about to.”

He shook his head this time. “I hope I’m doing the right thing.”

I pointed back to the statue of Thomas Jefferson. “As a famous president once said when discussing a possible war with Napoleon, ‘I’m gonna fuck them so hard, they’re gonna call me ‘Master’.”

“That’s not-” he looked behind me where someone had etched that very line onto a wall. “Gecko!”

“Whoopwhoopwhoopwhoopwhoopwhoop!” I turned invisible and scuttled out of there.


Capital Chaos 5



I wore my Norma Mortenson identity again. It’s a false assumption for many people that someone who changes their outward identity as much as I do can’t easily keep track of who they really are. The Barbellian, Missile Patriot, Banshee, Norma Mortenson, the Lord of Misrule, any others I’ve missed by now: how can I possibly maintain who I really am? But that’s easy. I know who I am. I’m not my boobs or my penis, but I am the sort who will use both for any advantage they can give me.

Once you know who you are inside, the outside is only icing on the cake.

So I once again became Norma and used my assets against Senator Powers. I may have enhanced the mammary glands a bit, because me and him, baby, weren’t nothin’ but mammals. I didn’t actively flirt, though. He’s not my type. I prefer the innocent and naive, I think.

We stopped at a barbecue place, the Senator having an odd taste for the messy food. Perhaps he just wanted to see fluids smeared all over my face. Eh, probably a power play.

“Good day, Miss Mortenson,” he stood up and offered a handshake.

I smiled as I shook, “Good day to you too, Senator. Thank you for meeting with me.”

“I always have time for prominent citizens like yourself. Please, let’s order first. I’m known for my love affair with the ribs here.”

Not to mention his love affair with Latino masseuse, though I think baby oil factored into it more than love ever did.

I had the salisbury steak myself, filling up. All the physical activity of supervillainy burns a lot of calories and increases the appetite. Then there’s the physical cost of restructuing myself with regenerative nanites. If I use them enough without restoring my chemical energy reserves, I’ll shrink. Priscilla Powers will also be chowing down more than ever, but that’s because she’s got to power her hand and feet. I don’t have that issue. I have a power core embedded in my chest that can wipe out a city if cracked.

That’s a good way to make sure people don’t want to kill you, along with always keeping at least one syringe of nanites on me, though I did compromise a core once to beat Captain Lightning. Temporarily. Still managed to knock some sense into the guy. He thanked me, since he was being controlled by the horror-villain Spinetingler at the time. He even told me he owed me a couple after we managed to save the entire city from being ruled by a villain other than me.

So we enjoyed a filling meal and made small talk about a few topics, like the craziness in Empyreal City, the weather in Paradise City, and how cleaned up Kingscrow had become recently. I guess Mix N’Max liked Vegas, but I realized I hadn’t kept up with him very well. My former druggy partner-in-crime might be surprised to see me now. Then again, I met his brother that time, who I’m pretty sure is his sister now. He may not be that surprised.

Wiping dabbing at my mouth all gentle and ladylike after inhaling the last of my food, I asked, “Now, Senator, how about we get down to business?”

He wiped his hands on his napkin and left it crumpled up in his plate, “Yes, Hero.Net, right? There are rumors that heroes are organizing on it.”

I shrugged. “That’s a strong word for it. It’s like a social network. It makes it easier to share clues, team up, and manage patrols. Plus, it gives them a forum for discussions. This reaches a lot of heroes at once.” I showed him a few screenshots

He glanced over the papers. “You could have made these, but it doesn’t say much about their competence that they’ve organized so well but can’t stop crime.”

“I could say the same about every branch of law enforcement in the U.S., but no one’s trying to abolish the police and FBI. It does seem daunting that the villains aren’t out yet after all that, but that’s easy to explain.” I showed some printouts of The Order. “The villains’ version came first as a remnant of that alliance that briefly took over the entire city.”

“How do you have these?” he asked, apparently convinced of the villainous version.

I held up two tablets, each one logged into one of the networks. “I get access to both. Not only could I help you find heroes and villains for your registration gag, but my servers are trusted by them. Both groups willingly help to keep them more secure. What better place for a registration list, right?”

He gaped. “This sounds like quite the confession.”

I shook my head. “I didn’t hear a confession, but I did hear an opportunity.”

Powers looked around, “I refuse to be a party like yourself. I do what I do for the good of everyone. To make the world a better place. You’re the worst sort of corpora-.”

“Look at your phone.” I told him, smirking. He did, then looked around again, more closely this time. Lots of puzzled people with phones. A frantic hostess at the register, trying to get the machine to process a credit card. For some reason, communications in and out just weren’t working. Except for those tablets of mine. I winked at him.

The Senator settled down, showing no more reluctance to work with a criminal. “You’ve made a very good point about security, but I’ve already made that deal. Constellation has the contract to maintain the security of the list.”

Constellation Consortium. Mercenaries.

I grinned. “Senator, you’re counting on the patriotism of mercenaries? They fight for money. I have plenty of that on my own.”

The Senator pointed at me. “They’re soldiers from the U.S. Of A. that fight for their country, and they use better equipment and receive better pay for their sacrifice.”

I rolled my eyes, “And they run off and let real patriots die in pitched firefights so they can collect their checks.”

The Senator didn’t take kindly to that. “Say what you want, they’re still a security firm and your company is some silly little medical supply company that owns coffee shops.”

“Hey, everyone needs medical treatment from time to time, including mercenaries. Speaking of which, I understand your daughter has recently been given some illicit treatment of her own. It’s why you’re in town.”

“Yes, the doctors are amazed, excited at the quality of the wo-, the limbs. You indicated before you can do better?”

I put up all the tablets and everything, released my little embargo on communications, and pulled out a small flash drive. “Easily. Take a look at these demonstrations. I can give her skin on them, and you won’t have to choose between denying your daughter the ability to walk, or benefiting from superhumans even as you seek to corral them.”

The main points of the meeting dealt with, we quickly got out of there.

Shame about Senator Powers, though. Accidentally emailed some very nasty stuff to people from his office computer and tried to pin it all on a virus of some sort. Real nasty stuff that really let a lot of people down. I guess I’m the only one who found the clowns and their “cream” pies funny, but even the normal ones terrify a lot of people somehow.

Poor fellow. What a political downfall. Thoroughly discredited, even moreso with another email released from Psycho Gecko, and some funny business coming out about his Powers PAC bank accounts transferring money to a non-extradition country.

The next part of the plan, getting a copy of the list, probably won’t be as easy as all that. For starters, I’m dealing with Constellation Consortium. They’re one of those corporations that owns a bunch of smaller corporations. They’re private military contractors made up of ex-military. Mercenaries, in other words, though they mainly do work for the United States Military. They’ve helped with disaster relief, which helps make them look better considering they also bought out Universitas. Universitas used to be Darkwater until they massacred a few civilians and had to change their name. Name brand is important, after all.

I mentioned before Senator Powers dealt with a lot of security folks, so that explains their involvement. I guess I expected the Pinkerton Detective Agency would be involved instead, especially since they employ superpowered operatives. Of course, knowing who I’m messing with doesn’t make it any easier to find out where they’d store a list like that.

And, as much as I’d like to fire off one of Chekhov’s guns and cash in a favor with Captain Lightning, I don’t have his number. Whoops.

And it’s not like Constellation’s mercenaries are easily identifiable. This would be so much easier if they ran around in yellow and green shouting, “Hail Hydra!” But don’t count me out yet. I might have been able to use the stolen phones… if they hadn’t been blown up in my hotel room. I could pretend to be a hero willing to register, but why? With Senators Powers having a really bad day, how would anyone know to contact them about it?

Shot myself in the foot there, I guess.

Luckily, I have ways of getting what I want. Ways like Harlon. He’s a high-up executive of a news organization I’d rather keep secret. A few years back, he had what could have been a bad encounter with me. After killing some of his coworkers, I took pity on him. Every now and then, he and I scratch each others’ backs for information. While a lot of the pundits on news channels are pretty much useless, like that fake CIA agent who got outed recently, their sources are usually legit. I left him a message on my way back to our crack den hideaway.

I saw all the druggies were lying still when I got there. I shrugged and headed upstairs. “Tech, did you kill all the crackheads? I’m proud of you, man.”

I found him upstairs, poring over data on holographic screen projected by his gauntlet. “No, it’s merely a sedative.”

I shook my head. “Someday, you’ll have to learn that drugs won’t solve all your problems. Just look at the people downstairs, for instance.”

“Oh?” he asked, paying the conversation little attention. “What does solve problems?”

“Violence of course. And sometimes blackmail, but always violence.”

I had time to ponder my predicament as I changed out of his sight, having excused my appearance as Norma as just another trick to Technolutionary. Then I stopped my precious nanites in their not-quite-tracks. I had a brilliant idea. It should have been so obvious to me before. I paused the nanites long enough to do some shopping, no doubt shocking people with an my asymmetric appearance. But it worked for me. I just needed a close enough outfit and a car for Moai to drive toward the Capital Complex while my nanites finished setting me up again. I know, why not the armor? Because when I walked past security looking and sounding like Senator Powers, I didn’t need to give them any special reason to stop me. And while it might be hard on an aide or page who forgets their identification, it’s much easier as a known Senator. Same for a Senator needing help to find his own office.

At least I’d gotten the building right. There’s like three of them for the use of Senators. I found the staff packing up in a hurry, the sound of a shredder chewing through documents in the background. “What’s the happy hap, people?” I asked cheerfully, trying my best to maintain his accent instead of mine.

“Senator!” a young man rushed over. “What are you doing here? You said you were going back home after you made bail.”

I raised a finger, “I did say that, my good lad, but I have to wrap up one last thing.”

“Sir?” He almost dropped the file folders he was carrying.

I put my hands on his shoulders. “You are my number one guy on this. I need you to talk to Constellations. You hear me? For God’s sake, you better hear me. I need the list. They’ll know what I’m talking about. I need a copy. It’s my salvation. My own personal Jesus. I need someone to be my friend, someone who cares. Are you that someone?”

Emboldened, the staffer nodded and walked off as fast as his energetic little legs could take him. Meanwhile, I adjusted my phoney bologna tie to keep from choking. That’s when I noticed a group of men and women huddled around a TV, some of them wearing worried expressions. “What’s upizzle in the hizzle? Why so glum? Don’t you have work to do?” I said, putting my arms around a pair of them. One short, plump woman of Asian ancestry turned to me and jumped like she’d seen a ghost. Others looked surprised to see me as well.

That’s when I paid attention to the news coverage, “…if you’re just joining us, Robert Powers, the Senator leading the charge on superhuman registration, was attacked by the supervillain Mary Malady at his home less than an hour ago. The Senator is fine. We go now live to where he is commenting on this turn of events.”

The image then changed to Senator Powers walking away from a house that looked like it’d been eaten by giant termites or something. “This is more evidence of what I’ve been saying in the recent days. There is a superpowered conspiracy aimed at my red, white, and blue American heart because they’re afraid I’ll expose them and their treachery to the world. They’re false friends who seek to stab us in the back. The superpowers are afraid of letting America be the superpower it deserves to be.”

Big talk, saying I’m afraid of being exposed after I jumped out of a cake wearing post-its. But I have to appreciate the brilliant damage control. He must have some way to get people to attack him. Well, aside from being an ass.

I looked around at the people who had seen “me” elsewhere on live TV. I shrugged. “You know they include a delay with live television. What if I’d given everyone the bird?”

Still, good time to leave before my treachery and false face is exposed to the world. And make a note for later: Maybe if I check with the guy who tore up D.C., I’ll find the Senator behind him, too. I headed after the aide I stopped originally. “Yo, yo, guy. Man. Fellow. Buddy.”

I found him in an office down the hall with a big desk and family pictures of the Powers family on the desk. He had set aside his folders and rifled through one of those rolling index card holders. He looked up when I entered. “Senator, I haven’t called them yet. I’m sorry, if you’ll just give me a minute.”

I waved my hand in the air like wiping away something. A grin, maybe. “That’s ok. I need to run, so if you’ll just give me the number now, I’ll handle it on my own.”

“It’s in here somewhere, Senator,” he told me, pleadingly. I glanced down at the index and noticed a picture of Priscilla set on top of the folders. I reached over and grabbed it. “Oh, that! I was just grabbing that to pack up for you, Senator.”

A ringing phone stopped him. He glanced down, then back up at me, then stopped to answer the phone. “Hello?”

I looked over the photo while he took his call. Priscilla looked happy, grinning and showing off her chair with a set of fake spinner hubcaps on the wheels. Word. “Come to daddy,” I said, then giggled to myself.

“Sir? Is this some sort of prank?” asked the unfortunate aide. He held up the phone, showing that Senator Powers was calling. The Senator’s voice asked, “Hello? Kent? Are you there?”

“Just a private joke. In here, you said?” I told him, pointing to the index. He nodded. I nodded too. “Good. I’ll go ahead and relieve you, then. I’m sure you have a splitting headache.”

“Actually-” he started, but didn’t get to finish as I embedded the corner of the picture frame into the middle of his forehead.

“Here’s blood in your eye, kiddo.” I winked at him, then pushed him over and wiped off my face where a spray had gotten me. The phone dropped to the floor, the Senator left talking to no one. I pocketed the index, then slipped out my survival syringe of nanites for a quickie. At least the ill-fitting suit looked appropriate on a random fleeing aide, who had good reason to get out of a haunted Senate office building before Capital police locked it down.

The bad news, I still don’t have the list, and Senator Powers might just recover from this. The good news, I can find what I need with a little more time, and the Senator still has a lot more to lose. If I want to get really mean, I could even knock up his daughter. I mean, I’ve already spent enough time giving her my DNA.




Capital Chaos 4



“Dearest Senator,

I am elated our work proved satisfactory to you in spite of your attempt to renege and elminate your daughter. I don’t know what you have planned for her as an asset, but I assure you our work will easily stand up to the wear and tear of everyday life, such as walking, running, cake decorating, and feasting on the hearts of your daughter’s enemies. Preferably with a well-decorated heart cake. We still await the funds you promised us. Also, I know you have hired a few other villains like myself before, but make sure you remember to thoroughly destroy this email. Just a friendly reminder considering all the leaks and investigations that have gone on lately.

Hugs and kisses,
Psychopomp Gecko”

Ah, such a lovely way to implicate daddy dearest in everything. I figured out I could get more mileage out of this entire thing by framing him as being a party to the kidnapping, which helps to create a good narrative for why he tried to blow us up. I mean, he went on TV and assured everyone he had nothing to do with that, but we had already said our piece first. It’s hard to play catch up on TV and the internet.

The past few days haven’t been kind to the Senator, but I’d rank it as more of a shitshower than a shitstorm. For starters, Priscilla has been talking in front of the cameras. She used to be a nice little set piece, the daughter in the wheelchair thanks to a super fight. She was a supporting character in his narrative. Now, she’s got a story all her own. An exclusive story of being kidnapped, experimented on, cut apart, and put back together with parts and pieces she doesn’t yet fully understand. I noticed she didn’t mention anything about her powers, so she’s probably talked to her dad. Unfortunately, I didn’t think about the fact that she could identify me as currently being a woman. When I saw that, I doubled back to the hotel and wiped their records. I hope I got to it in time, but I’m not yet sure. For starters, I don’t even know how someone found us there at the hotel in the first place.

So let’s see where our goals stand. In order to continue pressuring the Senator and screwing up his career, I need to transfer some money out of an account connected to him so that it looks like he paid for something. A less important goal is making sure the email I sent him leaks out to the press. To help kill the Registration movement aside from the Senator’s efforts, I need to find out more about that list the Senator mentioned awhile back. The voluntary one. I have some ideas on that. And another minor goal would be to determine how someone found me at the hotel and if they’ve linked me back to my Norma Mortenson alias.

Yay, some other bunch of complications, like people finding out where I am. Is it too much to ask to mutilate someone in peace? Seriously, there’s always gotta be some secret conspiracy trying to outdo me for evil in everything nowadays.

Don’t laugh. Sometimes, a guy just feels like he isn’t stacking up in the evil department anymore. It was horrible. I had to go give a bunch of orphans food poisoning to feel better about myself. You know, if you set them to music, you could make a show of it like the Belaggio Casino in Vegas.

The account transfer went smoothly enough. The First Capital Bank here in Washington is home to at least one account from most of Congress, making the entire thing much easier than trying to get to the Cayman Islands. I snuck in with my usual pizazz: being delivered right into their clutches. Technolutionary didn’t want to do the undercover work, so I let him stay at the crack house we are borrowing from the tenants and look over the data from Priscilla. Instead, I just had a delivery service take me into the belly of the beast, where the workers took over carting me around.

That belly part is barely an exaggeration. I traveled by cake. A giant birthday cake for the manager working on the ground level. A VP would have more authority, but it’s still the little guys who move the money. And everyone loves a birthday cake. They all gathered around. I heard someone mention, “Wow, this is a big cake. You don’t think there’s a stripper in there, do you?”

When I was pretty sure everyone was around, which was right after someone yelled out, “There’s the birthday boy!” I pressed the release on the gas tanks I’d hid in the cake with me. Now, one of the tricky things about gas meant to render someone unconscious is that it’s hard to handle all the factors without risking death. There’s stuff to factor in like fat content, body size, whether someone has eaten recently, whether someone has had alcohol recently. But all of that only matters if the person with the gas cares about human life. I do not.

I waited two seconds after the gas shot out into the room, then burst out, my personal music player set to “Let The Bodies Hit The Floor.” I popped out of the top of that cake wearing a gas mask, nipples covered with a Post-it note each that read “This is a stickup!” I found myself in a break room.

It didn’t occur to me until I was climbing out of the cake that it probably would have been funnier if I was still a dude. And that Technolutionary probably would have agreed if he’d known my plans, being a dude who likes to oggle my dudettes. Ah well, more fun for me. And more cake. Er, almost. It occurred to me after I scooped up a handful that all the gas would make it dangerous to eat.

Darn. I smeared it all over the wall as I skipped along, looking for the manager’s office. Cheap drywall down here. A bank like this, you’d think they’d spend more money on walls. Maybe they only cared about the external ones. A woman rounded the corner and stopped abruptly, still holding a bunch of files out in front of her. “Hey sugar,” I told her. I grabbed the files with one hand and grabbed her hand with my other, getting icing all in it. Then I slammed her head into the wall. Imagine my surprise when it only dented it the first time around. A little better drywall than I thought. “Huh. Stud, maybe?” While she tried to scream, I rammed her head against the opposite wall, which didn’t dent so much and sounded a bit different. It also shut her up. “No, THAT was a stud.” I sent her into the first wall again, embedding her face this time. I heard her slump down to the floor after I passed.

Unfortunately, I didn’t run into anyone else on my way to the office, no matter how long I took. No, please, if everyone wants to poke their heads into my business, poke away. I like a little extra head. Except I found the computer without incident. The manager was still logged in and everything. I’d say it was insultingly easy, but that probably would have led to me discovering a bomb stuck under my chair or mysteriously shoved up my ass.

Now there’d be a twist ending. A bunch of FBI agents trapped in a building looking for activity from a terrorist or something are given a clue that one of their own is involved in the plot. It soon turns into a psychological thriller when they all suspect each other. The numbers dwindle as paranoia takes hold, only for the final survivor to realize at the last minute that he has a Trojan Ass. Dun dun duuuun! Then the title comes up: One Nation Under Ass-ault.

Now we just need to convince Danny Trejo he’s perfect as the lead.

At that point, escape was as easy as I looked. I just walked out and caught a cab. Hell, when I called out for one, I had two cabs, a limo, a bike courier, and a bus all stop for me. Pretending to fan myself in my gas mask, I said, “Wow, anyone care to give a lady a ride?”

Must have been the legs. I made them long this time.

After that, I figured I’d work on the mystery of this voluntary superhero list. I figured it probably wasn’t in government hands for a few reasons. One, there’s never been one to public knowledge, and recent Congresses have been so screwed up that they couldn’t pass a bong. Two, any really secret list would defeat the purpose of letting people voluntarily sign up for it, but it also would have leaked by now. Three, this guy’s major contributors are private security firms specializing in everything from investigations and forensics to small-scale military operations.

That just goes back to one of those basic lessons about the power of money. One of the few people to have a political say in the world’s most powerful nation, and all it takes to make him drop to his knees and whore out that purty little mouth is waving money around. Making money to finance reelection to stay in office to make money to finance reelection…

Which actually presented me with a way to get information from the Senator that I didn’t figure out at first. One little spoofed phone call later and… “Hello, this is Norma Mortenson of Double Cross Incorporated, calling for Senator Powers. I have a proposition for him.”

“Uh huh. Are you a contributor, ma’am?”

“I’ll go you one better. I’ll pay you personally a thousand dollars to put me through to him, but the offer’s only food until the count of five. One…two…three-”

The phone clicked and started ringing again as the aide on the other end transferred me, apparently without realizing I didn’t know who they were. And I’d have paid, too.

“Hello, this is Robert Powers. Who is speaking?” He’s probably going to kill that aide now. Maybe I can contribute the thousand towards the coffin fund, or maybe booze for the wake.

“My name is Norma Mortenson, owner of Double Cross Incorporated out of Empyreal City.”

“Yes, Mrs. Mortenson.”

“Miss Mortenson.”

“Miss Mortenson, what can I do for you this day?”

“I caught your interview the other day, the one about a voluntary list of superhumans, and it interested me a great deal. There’s money in that sort of business.”

“I suppose it can be, Miss Mortenson, but I only care for helping my constituency, who are tired of living in fear from the superhuman menace.”

“I understand. I too am devoted to making the world a better place.” A less populated place. “And I believe we can help each other. I have many contacts with the Empyreal City superhero community that I believe would be willing to hear you out if I asked them to. Oh, and perhaps your daughter would be interested in some of our premium custom limbs. She’s become something of a celebrity as of late, and Double Cross has been looking for famous endorsements. Strangely, current sports stars aren’t accommodating.”

“Miss Mortenson, I’ve been hearing tall tales from everyone about the superheroes they know. This is the first we’ve talked, and I don’t know you from Adam or Eve. Why should I believe you?”

“Because I can get you into the actual secret network for Empyreal City’s heroes. Namedrop Hero.Net to one of them and see if that makes a dent.”

He must have already heard of something to that effect, because he turned right around and said, “Miss Mortenson, I’d like to meet you. I am in D.C. for the week. I think we should meet and have lunch. I would be very interested to hear what someone in your position thinks of my bill. Do you mind if I transfer you back to my aide to get everything scheduled?”

“Not at all, Senator.”

So there. I feel like I have all the subtlety of James Bond during the last thirty minutes of a movie, but it works. I suppose I could just kill him, but that’d be that whole “martyr” thing. Perhaps instead I can drive him to suicide. Hmm. I think I have an idea on that, but I’m going to keep that under wraps until I can make it happen.



Capital Chaos 3



It’s been such a BORING few days since we started the treatment. Ya know, aside from fighting to keep Priscilla alive. Technolutionary knows his robotics and genetics, but sometimes he gets too caught up in watching stuff happen to stop it. Like this nasty infection in Priscilla’s fingers. I poked and prodded at the darkened flesh, flinching at the smell.

“What are you doing down there? My hand hurts like hell. Is something wrong?” Priscilla asked, weakly.

I got up in her face. Well, a few inches from her face. I then reached down and pulled up a can of silver spray paint. “Well, I gotta tell ya, you could look better. If you’re really determined to go, I could give you a shot of this to get you pumped while you pull some big stunt. Or, if you’re too big a baby for that sort of thing, I can do something about this infection to your hand.”

Priscilla squeezed her blue eyes shut.Yeah, she could be better. I walked over to Technolutionary, who watched something on a tablet instead. It looked like cells infecting other cells, over and over again.

“Hey, what’s that?” I asked. When he looked up, I sprayed him in the face with the paint. He sputtered and fell over.

“You’re making me miss the best part!” he said, jumping to his feet. “What are you doing with paint in here, anyway? This is a delicate medical area.”

“I ran out to improve one of the monuments. I was thinking about Abraham Lincoln recently and thought I’d give him a cool reboot.” The news, meanwhile, speculated on the vandal who painted the Lincoln Memorial statue’s face silver, gave him a mohawk and upside-down skull for a mask, stuck giant spiky football pads on him, and left giant spears embedded with points sticking up all around the place. There’s also the fire hazard of someone leaving all those burning coals to form a barrier around the base. Unfortunately, I didn’t get leave a customized Lincoln town car nearby. Moai suggested it too late into the project, but there’s still a chance to pimp out Thomas Jefferson’s memorial.

“Aaand,” I continued, “you sound like you’re missing the forest for the trees in your delicate medical area. She’s got an infection in her hand. Smells gangrenous.” I pointed over to the offending hand with my can.

As much as Technolutionary liked staring at my ass, it helped draw his eyes to the area in question. That got him in motion. He walked over, tapping the tablet. It switched to different cells, showing a very different picture. They didn’t look healthy, and were being swarmed by bacteria. “Yes, gangrene. That shouldn’t have happened.”

“What are you doing to me?” Priscilla asked.

“Hush, we’re fixing you,” Technolutionary answered.

“Is this happening in the other cells being converted?” I asked him.

He swiped through a few images, then brought up about a dozen more onscreen at once. “No. I think we have an isolated case. The immunosuppresants left her vulnerable. She’s infected, and it’s attempting to spread to her blood. She’s at risk of sepsis and septic shock. That is not good.”

“No, no, no, no, no…” continued Priscilla.

“Normally, there’s nothing more I’d do than listen to you say ‘No’ in just that tone, but this is no time to flirt,” I told her. Then I walked out of the room. We’d used a guest room of the private suite to hold her, not far from a fully-furnished kitchen. It helped that kitchens often have interchangeable tools with operating rooms. I walked back in with a big bottle of vodka in one hand.

Technolutionary took one look at it while hooking up a new IV line and shook his head. “That’s no good. Alcohol will not sterilize this. In fact, it can cause this very infection if used on surgical instruments!”

“Shut up,” I told him, then took a long pull of vodka. Then I held it out toward Priscilla. “Want some?”

“Germs,” she answered, looking at the mouth of the bottle.

I rolled my eyes, then set it down. “If not that, then do you want something, anything for the pain in your arm?”


“There’s the magic word, starshine.” I nodded, pulling a kitchen knife from my pocket. There’s a trick to keeping sharp knives there safely, folks. I recommend you learn it before trying any of this at home. I knelt down underneath the table we had her on. One quick stab later, she jerked against her restraints and I had to lay a cereal bowl down to catch a small drip.

“What did you do? I can’t feel my arms. WHAT DID YOU DO?!” she screamed over and over.

“Geez, the thanks I get. Just trying to be nice. ‘Hey, Psycho Gecko, save my life please.’ ‘Oh, sure I will. I’m awesomesauce at that.’ It’s almost like you wanted to be able to feel this.” I brought the knife down hard, getting a spurt of nasty blood all over me. “Moai, we need suction over here!” Priscilla watched, mouth agape, as I hacked a second time. Right about the first time I heard the knife stick into bone, her mouth bulged then released a fountain of spew onto herself and some onto us.

“Wonderful job, Gecko. Have you ever heard of tourniquets? We only have so much blood!” Technolutionary wiped the puke off his face. Not like it was all that gross. Slightly-yellow stomach bile, mostly, though not something you want to leave on you or your clothes. He grabbed a strap he over on his cart and started tying off the arm while I wiped my own forehead.

Impatient, I yelled for my chief minion. “Moai, where’s that suction?”

He rushed with the vacuum cleaner, trailing the cord. “Ah, good. Get her face. She can’t be puking all over herself, not in this position.” Moai pulled off the hose attachment and used it on Priscilla’s pretty and pale physiognomy. When it looked like she had another big vomit incoming, he raised the entire vacuum and held it up against her mouth for it.

Most of the blood problems stopped once Technolutionary got the strap hitched up nice and tight. I had the hand mostly off, too, but this one last section of bone refused to give. I even dropped the knife and tried muscling it off with my hand in hers, really trying to get some leverage with my elbow on the table. With a snap, I fell forward and took the disconnected hand with me.

I jumped to my feet. “And the new Extreme Arm Wrestling Champ is…Psycho Gecko! High five, everyone!” Technolutionary and Moai ignored me, so I high fived the severed hand instead. Then I pointed at it, “This guy knows what I’m talkin’ about.”

“Your methods were not ideal, but I believe she can be stabilized until the transformation is complete. We planned to fix her legs then. Do you want to make her new hand, or should I?”

“You work on keeping her alive, I’ll handle the cosmetics.” I answered. “Does she have any other trouble spots?”

“Good question.” He raised the tablet and scanned her with the camera. It took a couple minutes, time I spent helping Moai clean up the table.

“There, there,” I said, brushing Priscilla’s curly hair out of her freckled face with her own hand held in my right.

She stared up at her former digits. “ that…?”

“Nope,” I tossed the hand away.

“Hmm,” hummed Technolutionary. “Her appendix doesn’t look good.”

I raised the knife I still held in my left hand.

He frowned and turned so he couldn’t catch me in his peripheral vision. “I believe the antibiotics will prevent appendicitis. I’m more interested in what you did to numb the pain of your impromptu surgery.”

“Oh, right, I’ll have to fix that my own way. Just gave her a little nick in the spine. Nothing much. Just can’t move her arms now.”

“You paralyzed me?” Priscilla broke down into tears.

Technolutionary didn’t bother looking up from the screen. “We can fix that.”

“My hand!” she yelled.

I shrugged. “We can fix that.”

“You can’t treat me like this. I’m a human being.”

“We can fix that,” Tech and I said simultaneously, then glanced at each other.

She started sobbing again after that, mouthing words like “Dad” and “Mom” to herself.

I turned to Technolutionary. “Would it hurt anything to sedate her?”

He still didn’t look up from his tablet. “Why? I doubt she can feel much now that you damaged her spine.”

I walked over and gave Priscilla a good, long sip of the vodka.

There’s a cliche that the night is always darkest before the dawn, which is bullshit. The sky lightens gradually, since the light is provided by the Earth rotating toward a star. It’s not like flipping a switch. But in this case, that was Priscilla’s lowest moment. Her condition improved considerably that night, and the next day.

I kept a close eye on her, too. I stayed in the room with her, watching over her, assembling a new hand out of materials I sent Moai out for. To better help me, and to get Technolutionary out of the room part of the time, I stole the med tablet and hung it over her to allow a constant scan, then steamed the feed to the television in the living room. When she got well enough, I even fixed her spine with a few of my nanites.

And when she had moments calm and lucid enough to ask, I answered her questions about what we did to her. And why. And even why we didn’t take her wheelchair. “Eh, he probably had some sort of tracer on there. Ever heard of a lo-jack? Hijacking is taking a vehicle, lo-jacking is planting something on it to track its location. Why did you even ride in that thing? I’m sure you could have gotten some good legs, like those ones you can run races in.”

“My dad didn’t think fake feet were necessary. Um, it’s more convincing than that when he says it.” She sniffled. “God, you only did this to me to get to him.”

“A lesson well-associated with superheroes. Not to say he is one. He just has a daughter who lost part of her legs to a superhuman fight, then convinced you to stay in a nice, wieldy wheelchair so he could start campaigning on superhuman control and registration. I know heroes can be dicks, but I’m not sure of many who would stoop that low. Ooh, speak of the devil.”

On TV, a reporter with a weird name like Major, or Wolf, or Brit stated that Senator Powers would be addressing the press about his daughter’s disappearance in thirty minutes. “Hey, look at that. Your dad’s going to betray his own bill, all to protect his darling daughter.”

When that press conference started, amazingly, Powers was back in his home state, with his wife and son. He got out of here in a hurry. Then again, the Senate only stayed in session like one day this entire month. The man looked ill, looking more thin in the face. He must have had some really bad bags under his eyes for them to look that visible after makeup. “Ladies and gentlemen of this great nation, I stand before you a battered man. As you all will have heard, my daughter was taken from us on New Year’s Eve. A madman named Psycho Gecko, a superhuman who has been left unchecked for far too long, kidnapped her. Recently, he contacted me. I expected a list of demands. Instead he showed me…he showed…he murdered my little girl.”

Speaking over the speech, I muttered, “Wow. He REALLY wants to be THAT much of an asshole on this.” I shook my head, thinking what this means. He’d probably spin Priscilla as, I don’t know, a cyborg under my thrall? A clone? A surgically-altered lookalike? Otherwise, he’d pretty much have to kill her.

Hairs on the back of my neck stood up. I called up Moai and Tech. “Moai, check the halls, see if we’ve been made. Technolutionary, en garde. The Senator is saying I killed his daughter. I think we’re in the crosshairs.”

I grabbed Priscilla’s table and IV hook and wheeled them both out to the living room. I stopped when Moai tossed me my armor on his way out to check the hallway. While I slipped into it, I expanded my mind and tried to sense anything unusual. Nothing, really. Except, wait…a single cell phone for the entire floor below us. A maid?

Taking a risk, I stepped over to an out of the way portion of the floor and punched my way down. I landed in a heap of dust, drywall, and insulation, with wiring trying to hold onto me.

The suite below looked smaller, but the biggest difference was the stack of C4 sitting on a cable. At first, I couldn’t see the detonator. Then I figured out they actually rigged a manual detonator up to it. The cable. I started following it, stepping past the dead body of a maid. At first, I thought I’d find a guy with one of those plunger boxes from cartoons. Instead, it stopped at the ceiling just above the elevator. I stopped to puzzle that out, then called up to the others. “The elevator’s rigged. The next time someone on our floor calls it, a bomb down here goes off and blows us the fuck up. Technolutionary, let’s take our guest down the stairs.”

“She won’t go on this table,” he told me.

“Unstrap her and lower her down with her medicine. Moai, make sure to grab the feet and hand.”

Technolutionary chimed in. “And the tablet. It has all the relevant medical data we need to recreate the process.”

Technolutionary carried Priscilla down, having suited up in his own armor in the meantime. I let the girl ride me piggbyback as we headed downstairs, Moai taking point in case whoever planted the explosives thought to watch the stairs as well. About halfway down this tedious exercise, I had a flash of a magnificently evil idea. In my head, I called down to Room Service and requested more towels.

We were easily clear of the explosion when ripped through the building high above us like a constipated dragon. Funny thing is, I jumped without meaning to. I don’t mean I was startled. I was expecting the blast, but then I jumped forward and had to catch myself, then my helmet started flipping through its vision modes like crazy. I hadn’t been paying attention, otherwise I should have noticed it. It had been years since I’d been on the same planet as anyone who could do that. “Our little butterfly has emerged from her cocoon,” I sent out as message along the circuits.

“What’s going on?” Priscilla asked out loud behind me. “I can feel your armor like it’s a part of me.”

“That it is,” I told her, also out loud. “Moai should carry you from here.”

The rest of our descent even gave time for emergency services to arrive. They spotted my little entourage as we exited in full gasping fanfare, but stayed back. Priscilla, the doll that she was, looked into the nearest camera she could find in the crowd. Big Brother doesn’t need to watch anyone when they’re all willing to record their own lives, but this time it helped me. “My name is Priscilla Powers. I’m not dead. Psycho Gecko kidnapped me, but I’m alive, see?” she waved her handless stump for people. “My little brother’s middle name is Juneaux, but he hates it. My mom’s best dish is her spinach shells. I wanted to call my first dog Sparkles, but Dad put Zeus on the tag. It’s me! I’m alive! It’s me!”

I walked over and slid the replacement hand onto her stump, then turned to that same camera. “Trying to assassinate me AND your daughter at the same time while claiming I killed her? That’s low, even for a politician. Now, everyone, let’s get some room so Cinderella can try on her glass slippers.”

Priscilla’s face lit up as her body made the connections and the hand came to life. I made a small improvement on the fingers. They were boneless, more like finger-shaped tentacles. Those things had lots of nifty little tricks. While she played around with her new range of motion, Technolutionary handed me one of the prosthetic feet. We both knelt and slipped the three-toed feet onto the ends of her legs, then stood back. In a matter of seconds, they flexed and curled then moved about.

“I can walk!” Priscilla declared just before Moai eased her to her feet. Then, of course, she fell down and we had to help her up.

“The muscles in your legs have atrophied. You need physical therapy to regain your ability to walk,” Technolutionary told her.

“Get away from the girl!” called out a pair of DCPD officers. Behind them, I noticed a reporter and cameraman rushing to the scene, who stopped to get a view of the cops with more sack than brains. Moai, Priscilla, Tech, and I all turned to these officers at once. They sheepishly removed their hands from their holstered guns and stepped back.

“What do we do with them?” asked Technolutionary, stepping toward them. The crowd and officers took a step back in response.

“Nothing for now. This part is done. More publicly than I hoped, but her own father blew up my original plans the same time when he tried to blow up his own daughter.” I threw my hands up to the sky. “What sort of man tries to kill his own daughter?! What foul agenda was he willing to advance through such a murder plot? Oh, may the Furies pick the flesh from his bones!”

“If you do not wish to engage in a fight with the police, we ought to leave before we have no choice in the matter,” Technolutionary interrupted.

I lowered my arms. “Good call. You’ve been a wonderful crowd, folks. I’m available for parties, Bar Mitzvahs, even the occasional adult diaper commercial.” Feigning a sniff, I pointed at one of the cops. “This guy knows what I mean.”

And with that, we disappeared, leaving our metaphorical butterfly Cinderella behind as we fled to one of the bad neighborhoods of D.C. where crime is rampant and police fear to tread.

Truly, it’s a tale fit for Disney.



Capital Chaos 2



Okily dokily, folks. I had Priscilla Powers, daughter of Senator Powers, both of whom exhibited an odd trait of being appropriately named for their involvement in all this. And despite kidnapping the daughter of a Senator, I didn’t even make the biggest splash in news.

Nah, that was the big battle between Terrorjaw, the human-shark of the seven seas, versus Kelly Kaiju, the growing man. The official story is that Kaiju went fishing for Terrorjaw to put an end to his evil, ship-interdicting ways. Terrorjaw’s a bit of a pirate, you see. I asked him about it once, but he said he preferred torrents to raiding boats.

The unofficial story, as spread in The Order Forums and on Outlaw X, the underworld pirate radio show, is that fans of Kaiju got together to make him a giant bologna sandwich. He dropped it in the water, tried to get it out real quick, and found Terrorjaw clamped down on the other end. As sometimes happens when someone steals a lunch, war were declared.

On the one hand, Terrorjaw was punching a little out of his weight-class, but Kaiju is a one-trick pony. Terrorjaw has one hell of a bite, but Kaiju can lay some major brute-force smackdown if he hits someone. Kaiju lost a finger or two, but ended up skipping Terrorjaw like a stone. Authorities in the UK have been put on alert.

The report of a kidnapping seemed small potatoes next to two people running into each other and randomly getting into a fight. That’s what sells newspapers, though, and it’s guaranteed that the press are going to give this matter a huge amount of attention any day now.

She is a missing white woman. I’m half surprised that twat Nancy Grace hasn’t deafened half the nation yelling at them through their TV sets to find Priscilla.

I mentioned a speech last time, and that’s because I wanted to chat with our friend Senator Powers. But first, I think I owe y’all an explanation. See, this whole superhuman registration thing, it’s just stupid. Accident of birth, or just accident around radiation, and someone now has to register with the government? At least gun owners gave others a reason to be worried, namely the desire to own a weapon.

Aside from that, it’s also just stupid as hell to trust that some government database of superheroes can remain a secret. That’s the sort of thing that separates real conspiracies, like the coup planned against Franklin Delano Roosevelt, from the fake ones, like the moon landing. The former was broken up when the business executives planning the entire thing trusted the wrong person, who turned them all over. The latter has never been proven, despite requiring the silence of hundreds of people in NASA, the rest of the executive branch, the astronomy community, the Soviet Union, independent observers, and anyone who fires a laser at the lunar laser ranging array left up there.

Two can keep a secret, so long as one of them is dead. Which means harassed or dead heroes when the list gets out, and possibly people kidnapping supers for their own diabolical purposes. I don’t want that. I want supers for MY diabolical purposes. And I don’t want some alien invasion to get a heads-up on where to find all the superhumans that could potentially oppose them.

As Abraham Lincoln once said, “If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it, and if I could save it by smacking peanut butter on my genitals and running around backwards I would do that,” or something. Truly, he was a man after my own heart. Lincoln, gimme five!

Speaking of five dollar bills, I had to make it very clear to Senator Powers that money couldn’t buy back his daughter. Only one thing could do that: the reversal of his support for this idiotic law.

I sent Moai to drop off a tablet I gutted and modified to allow a single video call. Then I called up the Senator and ignored his questions and other attempts to draw out the conversation. I know the average time for police and the FBI to trace a phone call, but now we’re talking the full might of the Senate Subcommittee on Homeland Security and whatever else they oversee. Homeland Security and Sandwich Standards. They might have a trick or two to trace calls more quickly.

I’m sure they wanted to take their time, examine it, look for prints and all that. Funny thing about fingerprints, you can lift them off all sorts of things. Like stolen watches and phones. That’d be a dead end, but I also called five minutes after they took it from the drop site.

“Hello, hello!” I said into the camera held by Technolutionary, remotely monitoring it myself to see how he framed me. “Make sure you’re getting my bad side.”

I let them get a good look at me in my grey and orange armor. Strips of armor curved in like a V to meet a central chest and spine piece. A helmet with a visor dipped in the middle to look like it glared, with the visor continuing to a pair of horns like a jester’s cap. The third such horn stuck out from my the front, over the visor. The helmet was grey, with the throat and visor orange. The vertical plates were orange as well, going into an orange starburst around the neck. I know I still call them gloves, but my handware is more like grey with orange barbed wiring used to project the energy sheath.

The pants were made of an orange nanomaterial that can’t easily be penetrated by blade or bullet, with grey armor plates, braces, and pseudomuscles held in it. Boots were orange and grey, not particularly armored except the usual stab and shot resistance. I painted eyes and teeth onto the front of them as if I had skulls up there, but they didn’t look too special from the outside.

In short, while I can look like anybody, the armor was distinctly Psycho Gecko. And then I added a wide-brimmed straw hat, a pair of swim trunks, a Hawaiian shirt, and hung a camera around my neck. I’m a tourist in this town, after all. “Good morning, TV land. This is the one, the only, the Great and Devious Psycho Gecko here to show you our dear Priscilla.” I stepped out of the way to show where Priscilla sat in a wood chair, tied down.

“You monster, if you-!” the Senator started from his end.

I waved my hand. “Mute!” The tablet on his end obeyed and he shut up. “This is merely to let you know we have your daughter. Your lovely little daughter.” I knelt beside her and ran a few fingers over her cheek. She flinched away, then turned and tried to bite my fingers. I grabbed one of the offending incisors and yanked it out, causing her to sit back and yell in pain. I walked over to the tablet and held it up so everyone could get a good look at the tooth and its root. “See that? Not easy to get the whole thing out like that. Takes a bit of practice, though she has plenty if I needed more. Truth is, it’s not like it’s important to have her in one piece.” I tilted the tablet down so it focused on her missing lower legs, then tilted it back up to me.

“Asshole! Tore out my toof!” she yelled behind me.

“The tooth hurts!” I called back to her, then added, “You want the tooth? Well you can’t handle the tooth!” And I tossed the incisor away. Stepping over to the side, I retrieved a limb I’d put together just for her. A three-clawed lower leg. “But you might be able to handle this little baby. Don’t worry, daddy dearest, she’ll get top of the line prosthetics. Superhuman, even. I’ll even throw in a little bonus, give her some extra oomph so she’s guaranteed to be on your little list. Just to keep you honest, just to make sure that you’re not advocating anything you wouldn’t do to your own daughter. Supposing she survives, that’s when you’ll get her back.”

“From my heart and from my hand, why don’t people understand my intention? Heh. This message will self destruct in ten seconds.” I cut the feed, activating the five second self destruct on the tablet I sent them. Why not lie? Besides, whoever’s holding that thing probably won’t die. They might lose their hands, but they’ve got pretty good healthcare. Probably. Eh, not my concern.

“Go fuck yourself!” Priscilla spouted at me and Technolutionary.

“Temper!” Technolutionary told her.

I grabbed the chair I stuck her in and carried it over to the table Technolutionary prepared for the procedure. I lifted her up high, then slammed her down back-first, breaking the chair and stunning her momentarily. I strapped her down and pulled the pieces out of the way.

“Everything is in readiness, Gecko, we merely await your command.” Technolutionary said, pulling over a cart with his equipment on it. The main thing seemed to be a trio of intravenous bags. They didn’t look all that remarkable. No strange colors. No glowing.

“So you’re going the chemical route?” I asked.

He nodded. “Cybernetic integration is rough on human physiology. The immune system rejects the foreign bodies and attacks them. Rather than suppress the entire immune system, I have developed a virus that suppresses it only where the implants work. I believe I found a way to utilize the virus for converting all her cells with a slight gene modification.”

“You’re going to do something to my DNA?” Priscilla asked.

I reached over and patted her on the forehead. “We’re going to make you better. Better than this, better than human.”

She shook her head. “You don’t have to do this! We have money! We’ll give you whatever you want.”

I covered her mouth with my hand. “I want silence right now. And I want you to survive this. You’re not helping either right now, and I can assure you that your cries for help mean nothing to us. Now, would you care for a ball gag?” I held up one I planned to use for muffling her slightly. Eyes wide, she shook her head. “Your loss,” I said, tossing it away. Instead, she just whimpered as Technolutionary swabbed her arm and inserted an IV line.

I had Moai bring over a TV and hang it on the wall at her feet, while I brought her a pillow. I unsealed my helmet and pulled it off so I could look her in the eyes and tell her, “It’s ok. You’re scared, but we aren’t going to kill you. Hell, a change like this, you’d have to be crazy not to be scared…which may explain something about my species. Well, your species too before long. And we won’t let you down. We’re villains, remember? We know a few tricks for staying alive when everyone wants us dead. I’m Psycho Gecko, after all. If there’s anyone who could fight off Death, it might just be me.”

So began the transformation.



Capital Chaos 1



As much as Empyreal City loves to celebrate the New Year, with the giant dropping discoball, I didn’t stick around for the festivities. I had a good excuse, too. See, New Year’s parties are a great time for people to go out in public and enjoy themselves with lots of drinking and stuff. Technolutionary was mildly disappointed, too, but I don’t think he really had a lot in mind. If I recall, I did have to stop the guy from ventilating his cranium during the holidays.

He came with me, as did Moai. I also changed up my appearance so Technolutionary didn’t connect me to Norma. Unfortunately, it led him to try and put the moves on me. He insisted, and still insists, that he and I would obviously make a good couple. He even hinted about populating my species once he’s sure the process works on himself.

Sure, sure, repopulation. Let’s take sex, and instead of the pleasure, we make it all about duty, obligation, and squirtin’ out babies. That’s a recipe for a good time. Given his usual level of enthusiasm, I decided to make sure he didn’t have anything to do with my meal and drink preparation. Most people wouldn’t dare try that on me, but this guy is just delusional enough to try something because he assumes he deserves sex with me.

Anyway, I left Empyreal City ahead of 2016 because, much like using the female body as a disguise, I wanted to take advantage of the transition. Washington parties it up on New Year’s all the more for being full of wealthy, powerful people. So after getting myself and my associates moved into a floor of a lovely and discreet hotel. Crash chose well, though I suspect Fortune Cookie helped her. Not sure how I feel about my personal assistant getting help from her. Then again, it’s probably not that hard to find a hotel in this city that’s willing to keep secrets. That goes hand in hand with being the home to some of the wealthiest and most powerful men in the United States.

I’m talking hookers. I’m talking cocaine. No matter what’s going on, I’ll guarantee you the word “blow” comes up. And that’s the best case scenario. If a politician isn’t fucking someone, they’re probably fucking their country instead. Though that leaves out the various aides, lobbyists, and dignitaries who also like pushing Little Willie down the slip ‘n slide.

But enough about the seedy underbelly of people you don’t want to imagine the underbellies of. I had to go find a way to worm my way into the private life of a Senator.

Hey, I know what y’all are thinking, but it’s more innocent than that. I got into the email of his staff and found out they were preparing for a New Year’s Eve party on a boat called the Spirit of Washington. It wasn’t technically Senator Powers’s party. Instead, a private security firm was having a party and named him the Guest of Honor. Contributors, aides, supporters, and family; many of them were asked to attend as a gesture of gratitude. I needed a way to get in, and I needed a nice dress. That’s one area where having Technolutionary came in handy. I sent him out to shop for me and it turned out as well as I expected.

I knew the easiest way to insert myself into the situation, and it involved exactly the sort of outfit Technolutionary wanted to see me wear. Then I camped out the dock where the partygoers embarked the Spirit of Washington. I thought I had a mark when this chubby guy with curly hair and an untrimmed mustache showed up, but then this smoking blonde ran over to him and gave him one of the grossest kisses I’ve ever seen. I don’t mean gross because of his physical appearance. I mean a raunchy, over-the-top kiss with tongues and hands flying everywhere.

Well, good for him. Made my job harder, until I ran across a really skinny guy hauled along as the third wheel with a couple. The woman in the first couple glanced at her phone and they then stood around, waiting. The third wheel drifted off a little to give them some space, at which point I approached him.

“Hey there. Kinda sucks, getting pulled along in all this. By the way, my name’s Candy.” I held out my hand. He looked at it, then shook.

“Terrence. You’re with the party?” he asked, looking over my slit dress and high heels.

I shrugged. “You could say I’m working. Don’t worry, I’m not assuming you’re buying. But you look like you could use a reason to get away from…” I flopped a hand in the direction of the couple.

He looked between me and his friends. “Pretend I hired a pros-…call…escort? What would they think?”

“Lucky Terrence, probably. You could even pretend you don’t realize it, so that when I slip away to do what I’m here to do, you can act all heartbroken. ‘Oh, poor Terrence. He’s too good for this sinful life.’ And you use their sympathy and be like, ‘I think I’m going to go home early. Somebody, fetch me a lifeboat.’ Problem solved. I won’t even charge you.”

So, in the end, I got onto the boat…on the arm of some sleazy asshole with gropey hands that approached me after Terrence turned me down. Darn human dignity.

I had trouble getting away from Hanz Assengroper, so I invited him to a bathroom on the yacht and left him there with his own hand sticking out of his throat. Out of common courtesy, I left an “Out of Order” sign on the door. He made quite a smell when his bowels dropped, and it’d be rude to let someone just waltz into that mess.

Not that waltzing was the dance of choice at this party. More a matter of a few young people hopping around while the older money exchanged pats on the back and crinkly handshakes.

Actually, that’s not completely accurate. I shouldn’t sell them short. They didn’t need to hide the money like some common drug dealer. They just exchanged checks made out to Super PACS. After all, he got this nice yacht party, with catering and a DJ, and didn’t have to pay a cent. One guy even invited him to see the new private airport screening methods his company used in Hawaii. Of course, it’d be rude not to comp the Senator a brief hotel stay while he was down there doing his job. But don’t dare bribe the Senator; that would be illegal. Oh look, more than $100,000 in door prizes to be handed out at the party. I’m sure the Senator will be no luckier than any other man when the cash prizes come up.

Free of the ass I rode in on, I wandered around and tried to spot Powers’ daughter. She was supposed to have been dragged along to this event, which got me to wondering if people in wheelchairs like going on boats. Might be something to explore sometime if I use that as a disguise sometime. At the very least, it gave me another point of identification to find her. Or it would have, but I couldn’t find the damn girl.

I checked the place over for the third time when I stopped to ask a suited security guard, “Excuse me, sir, but I’m looking for Priscilla Powers?” I held up a cell phone. “She dropped this, and I’m just trying to get it back to her.”

“Ma’am, any lost items should be turned over to security,” The man held out his hand for the phone. I didn’t oblige.

“I’m sorry, but I don’t see the problem in giving it back myself. It’ll get there quicker.” I smiled, fluttering my lashes.

The guard grabbed the phone from my hand, “You’re not my type and Miss Powers never came aboard for the party. Is there anything else I can do for you?”

I shook my head. “Nope. Thanks, hon.” I turned and walked away.

As I did, a woman stopped me, “Excuse me, do you have the time? I can’t find my phone.”

I held out a watch, “Here, take this, I have plenty of spares.”

She glanced down at the Rolex. “It’s not my style.”

I shrugged and pulled out a collection of watches from my purse, “That’s fine, I have a selection. Say, is it true the Senator’s daughter is a no-show?”

The woman selected a pretty little platinum number, “Yeah, watching him hide how pissed he got is so funny. She’s been trying to get out of this all week.”

I held my hands out, “Where could she possibly want to go more than this little get-together?”

“Ten to one, the Young Boys Club,” she said, admiring her new watch. “Thanks a lot. It’s beautiful.”

“You’re very welcome, but I think I hear my date calling for me.” I extricated myself from that situation to prematurely activate my escape. It wouldn’t pay to stick around with all the watches, wallets, and phones I carried in my purse. There’s just so much more room to fit stolen loot in these things. I rifled through it as I walked, securing them all in a waterproof bag for good measure. When I reached my destination, I reached under the railing and gave the hull of the yacht a couple of knocks. “Anchors away!”

When I jumped over the side, Moai caught me in a large sack insulated sack. He sealed it closed and dropped off the anchor chain. Inside, I slipped one of the diving masks, almost fumbling it when we hit the water and began to sink. It’s not as fast as a boat or helicopter, but it got me where I was going. To shore, at least.

I still had to try this “Young Boys Club” for the Powers kid. Now, prior to what y’all might be thinking, it had nothing to do with child molestation. It turned out to be a play on the term “Old Boys Club” and seemed to be the hip and/or groovy spot for the kids of the D.C. Upper middle class.

Moai and I both got carded, but we had no shortage of cash and expensive watches. We found Priscilla out on the dance floor, dancing. Yes, dancing. She spun her wheelchair around, then grabbed a pair of glowsticks out of her lap and started waving them around in the air like she just didn’t care, blowing a whistle to the music.

I tried to whisper to Moai, but I had to yell to make myself heard. “Leave the chair.” He nodded, then broke out a comfy burlap sack. He bounced out onto the dance floor, wrecking it with his hardcore moves. The nearest dancers started a ruckus of some sort when he threw the bag over Priscilla. Once he had her upper body in the bag, he didn’t even have to put up with her kicking.

I dealt with the phone once we got in the car we rented after getting out of the river. Now, to finish Technolutionary’s makeshift lab and work on some sort of speech toward the Senator. To quote Shakespeare or not to quote Shakespeare, that is the question.