Category Archives: 38. Aliens Eunt Domus

Aliens they go to the house.

Aliens Eunt Domus 8

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Just bear with me here, folks. See, sometimes a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do. Ignore my boobs for the purposes of this lesson. Just keep that in mind as I recount what happened.

See, there was the usual ranting, raving, and distrust in the Master Academy Camp, so much so that I began to hope the invaders would just zap the place like they did the broadcast station. No luck. I actually watched as they tried, and somehow failed. Something the supers here did, good to keep in mind. There wasn’t much else to do for entertainment in between working on the D-bomb. The broad strokes of it are done, it’s more a matter of adjusting it to only affect a certain radius. After all, if you think of spacetime as a sheet on which massive objects sit and distort, then you have to be careful how big of a whole you punch through the sheet…

Ah, hell, that’s getting too technical. But anyway, I didn’t have too much to do. There’s been little to no TV ever since the field went up around the city, and the internet has abandoned us as well. Oh internet, we are but worms without you! Come back to us! Bring the porn!

At least I had a few games stored in my head to alleviate it, though I almost missed having teammates in Payday 2, except for the part where they bitch about how the people who make their game keep wanting to be paid. It’s one thing to steal porn off the internet; it’s another to insist all the porn should be free.

But enough about various sorts of pussies.

So, between building a better bomb and listening to Elmore James perform “The Sky is Crying,” I also got the skinny from the scouts. I almost said hero scouts, but at least some of the ones around the campus were villains who resisted assimilation after a couple of misty downpours. With the sheer numbers on the aliens’ side, it was looking futile. I put out the call to Beetrice and the Buzzkills in the bunker under Double Cross Tower, but phone lines were iffy and I didn’t quite know if bee people were immune to everything. They’re not human, but neither am I or many other supers, strictly speaking.

One fine morning, I hopped up to the wall to take a look out and saw people. Just people. A sea of human beings, unpowered and powered alike. There was no earth visible ringing the school. Further on, I mechanical tendrils reached down from the sky, and presumably a vessel rivaling Empyreal City in size. Kind of a bad sign when you can’t tell the size of a craft even when it’s right next to a city.

I dropped down just inside the wall and didn’t quite catch myself, landing on my ass. I took a minute to sit against the wall. Ya know, just for a minute. Or five. Or thirty.

I had to think. I let so many pieces get away from me. So many things I couldn’t keep track of. I even vaguely wondered how Crash and the others at the company were doing. Probably trying to kill me. Just for good measure, probably have to kill Crash with her own car. I’ve kept on wrecking them anyway. And a few other things. But at least I had an idea or two to go with it.

To my surprise, Venus walked out to retrieve me. She had her armor on, too. Kinda risky to go outside without it, even though it’d been a day since the last light misting. “Why didn’t you just send Wildflower? I’m tired of this stupid fantasy you have about reforming me, and you hate dealing with me anyway.”

She turned around and plopped in the mud next to me. “Yeah. It looks bad out there. You know it isn’t your fault, right?”

I rolled my eyes. “Yeah, not so much I could have done to just plain stop them, but that doesn’t mean nothing was my fault. Even I can’t stop an army, and now I am fated to die. I did…every damn thing I did…to live. You can stomach almost anything if it’s to save your own ass, ya know? Lots of dead people. Hurt. Wounded. Taken apart. Things. Except I’ve almost certainly failed, so all that was meaningless.”

I pushed my hands against my helmet, wishing I could shove them in my mouth to hide the noises that began to burst forth. I couldn’t. I wound up holding my head, uncontrollable laughter issuing forth. I just couldn’t stop.

Venus reached out and put a hand on my shoulder, as much to try and stop me as comfort me. It took a minute of effort to force myself to stop long enough to hear the worthless words, like so many others that she employed to deter me from actions that, in the end, didn’t matter one way or another. “I failed too. I thought I could save you. We aren’t so different, you and I. I wanted to save you in spite of yourself. You wanted to make me kill you.”

“Didn’t matter anyway,” I responded. “None of it does. I think, somehow, I fooled myself about that. Or forgot it. Its very freeing, though, to realize that everything is permitted, that there isn’t guilt, just responsibility. I have always had an end coming for me, whether I made it happen or not. Maybe what I did pushed it back. Maybe not. It was always there regardless. In thinking I was so smart for knowing life was absurd, and yet I still was the victim, controlled by my past and my fear. Those bozos out there better hope they kill me. Because I feel like fetters are off that I didn’t even realize weighed me down.”

I jumped to my feet. Venus rose beside me and stepped in front of me. “We give the world meaning, Gecko. We live for a short time and use it to make the world a better place for all who come before. If they enslave me, they will know I resisted. It matters if it slows them down one second. And if I die, I died fighting. Maybe humanity will die fighting. These bastards will look down on a dead world full of dead people who would rather fight with everything they have than submit. We are not puppets.”

I gave her a golf clap, but was interrupted by something a little worse.

Someone yelling for us on the outside over a completely silent crowd. “Dear friends! Come out! Let us have a talk!”

I thought about it a moment. “I know that voice. This guy’s a jackass!”

I poked my head up first, then turned visible, then hauled up Venus when it seemed no one was in a sniping mood. I saw the alien ambassador again, who had looked so Nazi just a short while ago. Since then, he’d undergone a few changes. For starters, there was the way his skin looked a bit rotten, and how his eyes were all black with black goo dripping from them in lines down his cheeks. And how his mouth looked to be filled with nothing but more black slime, even covering his teeth. He wore one of those rough encounter suits his bodyguards had, but with round plugs or holes on the sides.

It wasn’t just him backing up the army of enslaved people around us, either. He brought friends. Most of them looked robotic. I saw spheres that waved some sort of barrels at us, usually with a smaller secondary sphere attached by a metal shaft. Balls and shaft aside, they also had a few of these things that looked like an orgy of octopi all pointed tentacles full of black slime toward the air above us. Some sort of artillery, then? I couldn’t see their bases very well.

There were definitely more of those bodyguard types, but with mechanical tendrils hanging off their suits. And giant discs with four big tentacles that ended in gleaming metal tips.

I suddenly understood why the Japanese so hated to see an invasion by tentacle monsters: no matter whether hostile or peaceful, you’re still getting fucked.

I nodded toward Venus. “You want to take this one, or do you want me to talk smack about his momma?” To the diplomat, I yelled, “Hey, your momma sucks so hard, they called her a whirlpool!”

Venus pointed toward the huge army with her chin. “I would tell you this isn’t helping, but I don’t think they stopped by for enrollment.”

“That’s right, this is a school. Maybe you ought to get the kids out here to learn some important lessons. See how many of them can name all the different types of word that ‘fuck’ counts as. Tell ya what, I’ll even spot them prepositions in light of these fuckers right fucking here.”

While she dropped down and made for the school, the voice of the aliens spoke up again, the slimy bastard. “It is time you joined us. The city is against you. Soon, the world!”

“Yeah, I’ve heard that before. You don’t frighten us, English pig dogs! Go and butter your bottom, sons of a silly person! I blow my nose at your ambassador, you and your sssssshitheads!” I started blowing him raspberries and patting the top of my helmet, the put my thumbs where my ears would be to make a funny gesture.

“This-!” started the ambassador, before I interrupted.

“I don’t wanna talk to you no more you empty-headed urinal cake licker. I would fart in your general direction if it didn’t make you horny. Your mother was a hamster, and your father did time for bestiality!”

With what amounted to wit on their planet, the alien asked, “Is there an adult at home I could talk to?!”

“No! Now go away, or I’ll taunt you a second time!” I gave him the V sign with one hand and the middle finger with the other.

That was when the slime-filled tentacle whipped up over the wall, wrapped around my waist, and tossed me into the middle of a huge crowd of people. They got all handsy, too. It was like being in the middle of a zombie movie, which would normally be a bad thing if I was a horror movie character. The mean, foul-mouthed lesbian who drinks and has lots of sex?

Then again, the joke’s on them. A regular person would be restrained. A regular person wouldn’t have Gecko’s patented fists of fuckin’ fury, motherfucker! Wham! Bam! Pow, right in the kisser! It’s not like the city would really miss a person or twelve. They have reinforcements, and busting a few skulls gave me room to get my feet under me and jump, narrowly avoiding an explosion from one of the tenta-mortars. Not exactly watching where I was going, I missed a large burst of blue laser from one of those floating orbs and shafts. It missed me because I clanged into it and spun off before I could even wreck its shit.

I landed ass first on someone’s head, snapping something on them in the process. Good thing, too. Helped me land on my feet, like a cat of death or a buttery piece of toasted destruction.

I landed, snapping elbows to faces and throats. Headbutt a nose, kick a ball. When the surging crowd gave me some room, I popped the Nasty Surprise out and used it to skewer some poor idiot in front of me, and the person behind him. I withdrew the mini chainsaw and and grabbed hold of the second person’s intestines. I drew them out through his friend and wrapped them around the throat of another attacker, tightening it into choking and tying it off in a knot.

My efforts to make a pretty bow went surprisingly undisturbed by other expendable slaves, but then one of those human-shaped suits stepped over the crowd using the tendrils that stuck out of its back and sides. It tried to put one through my neck, but I ducked and he impaled his friend’s face. I turned and deflected the next few blows aimed at me with my fists, though he backed me up. Despite the wild thrashing of that part of his body, he settled on the humanoid legs and slowly crumpled forward like some sort of folding-up puppet. I didn’t have all the room in the world, unfortunately, so I resorted to dodging in place until I could grab one. Before he could follow up or wiggle free, I slid under the legs of the encounter-suited liquid alien thingy, then jammed the end of the tendril right where the poop chute would be.

The tendrils flailed for a moment, so maybe that still hurt. I grabbed the base of a pair of them, set my boot on the one I shoved up his ass, and used the leverage to really ream it in there, spurting black goo all over him. To be fair, dark-colored fluid often gets on my boot when I stick it up there on a human.

Before I could dig my hand in to grab hold of its core, a mortar blast threw me onto it and tossed us both forward in a heap. Then a follow up blast reverberated the entire world around me. Felt like my teeth were going to shake out and left me unable to breath from the pressure of the blast. A third shot didn’t come in as quick succession, giving me a moment to roll to my feet and desperately try to jump for freedom. That one hit just after I left the ground.

The resulting mess of a jump spun me around enough that I almost lost my lunch and didn’t quite comprehend when I stopped flying. When I gained the ability to think again, i turned out I’d been caught by someone. I almost put my elbow through the jaw of the person who grabbed me before I noticed its yellow and black exoskeleton, antenna, and its compound eyes. You know, it’s not until you’re face to face with a half-bee, half-human monstrosity that you appreciate the beauty of its five eyes. He, or more likely she, soared above the crowd on wings that really shouldn’t have been able to lift it, let alone me.

But this is the battle where aliens are fighting superheroes, so perhaps it’s the wrong time to analyze things. And as it set me down in front of a small army of Buzzkills, it seemed like a pretty good time to give the analysis a second look.

I heard Beetrice a split second before I felt the giant, multi-armed bee person squeeze me against her yellow exoskeleton in a hug. “Weeeee! So happy to see you!” It had been an exclamation point sort of day by then.

“You’re here. Great. I mean, great! But maybe ease up on the lovin’? It’s time to do some seriously hating…”

Beetrice let me slip out of her arms to the ground while bee-people and slave-people fought before the earthen wall in the distance. “Sure thing, most important drone! But who do you want us to hate?”

“There’s not a lot of options here, but not the heroes. For once. Odd to say it, I know,” I pointed over at the wall where Master Academy capes had mounted it to blast the attackers.

“What about them?” she asked.

“Huh?”

She picked me up again, but this time to show me another force, approaching to flank both the Buzzkills and slaves.

This time, it was a bunch of people with all sorts of mechanical add-ons marching in lockstep toward the fight, but stopping short of engaging anyone. Above them floated Technolutionary, floating in form-fitting purple armor. I hopped over in front of him and the metal monstrosities he’d built. They looked like more of his human-robots, but their bodies had various gadgets built into him. This guy watched too many Borg episodes of Star Trek.

Technolutionary laughed as he floated over. “How do you like my creations?” He held his hands out to encompass the mass of mechanized abominations. “The proud merger of my work and your natural gifts. You should be proud of our children.”

“I got ya, you’re back to the weird semi-romantic thoughts. Ya know what really turns me on, though? Killin’ aliens. Come on. You, me, a bunch of expendable idiots. Let’s make this massacre happen, right?”

Technolutionary stared down at me. “I’m afraid I can’t let you do that.”

I pointed toward the battle, where all other forces were hard at work beating the crap out of each other in an orgy of violence and explosions that would bring Michael Bay to tears. “Come on, man. Expendable stuff was made to be expended. This IS why we did all that collaboration, ya know. Saving my ass from the aliens.”

Technolutionary floated down and pressed a button on one of his forearms. A panel on his belt opened and some glowing thing floated out. He raised his hands and it floated over them before forming into a perfectly symmetrical crystalline structure about the size of his forearm. “I have saved you. This is the key.”

I looked it over. “Looks like a rock. Most people at least stick it in a ring first. What is it?”

He cupped it close. “This is a transponder from the aliens themselves. A sign of my willing cooperation.” He turned his head and spoke to his human bots. “Move on the heroes. Capture them all for our allies.”

“Willing cooperation?”

He looked toward me, then pressed another button on his forearm, causing the metal face that covered his real one to fold up. He smiled at me with that freaky look in his eye, like he wanted to get freaky. “I did this for you and I. You will be safe, and I will usher in the next evolution of mankind.”

“What does it do?” I asked, probing for information.

A voice echoed forth from the crystal thing, a rough digitized voice. “This is a sign of your cooperation. Join us willingly and become a great asset, Psycho Gecko. Your ingenuity is welcome and your willingness to serve your best interests appears infamous by our understanding of Earth’s superhumans.”

The crystal glowed, then split into two identical smaller versions. Technolutionary added his last bit to the pitch. “Come on, Gecko. Join me. Save yourself. We can watch the world evolve together.” He raised his eyebrows. “You don’t even have to fight here. Let’s just leave this city and watch the fight from afar.”

“Kind of a shield up right now.” Off to my left, humans swarmed a crack in the wall while aliens worked to pull it apart.

“It lets you out.” Technolutionary smiled. “They will know where you are, but also not to attack you.”

It took a second of thought, but I stepped close and reached out with my left hand.

Technolutionary set down on the ground. “Yes. Smart girl.”

“And if I don’t want to help, but just have a truce here?”

That provoked a response from the crystal. “Parameters acceptable.”

A puzzled Technolutionary looked between me and the crystal, then at the inside of his eyelids after I tried to fist his eye hole. On the off chance it’d negate the transponder thingy, I left him alive. I shouldn’t have, but I did. It was more than he deserved. Then I took one of those damn floating crystals, which folded in on itself until it became small enough to fit in a pouch on my armor.

“Helping you isn’t exactly on my agenda. But if this gets me out of here and doesn’t get me killed…ok then.” I muttered to myself.

Like I said, don’t judge. A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do. It’s not like I’m going to help them. I’m just ensuring my survival. I mean, fucking alien invasion, dudes. What am I supposed to do?

I mean, I did call Beetrice up again and tell her to get her people and hide. Lock themselves in the bunker. All that. Gave her a fighting chance. I still never found Crash or Carl since all the rain and assimilation stuff. But I did get Moai out. He helped me haul out the Dimension Bomb. And me. I rode out on his head, the energy barrier around the edge of the city opening up to accommodate everything around me as we approached.

I didn’t look back while the others fought for their lives. I’d saved mine, after all.

That was the most important thing. Sure, right. The most important thing.

But it’s not my fight anymore.

Nope. Not my fight.

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Aliens Eunt Domus 7

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Now, as I’m so famous for the good of everyone, there’s a limit how much I could do in a non-combat capacity. Especially as far as controlling the media. The internet seemed a good proposition, but one problem with the internet is the widespread use of misinformation. One accurate voice can easily be lost among the multitudes.

It’s just the way the world works. People want to hear what they want to hear. It’d be hard to lie to people if they didn’t. Some people see hope as the last good thing in Pandora’s Box, but did they ever stop to think about why anyone would lock it up with the rest of them? Because the best evils are things you like. Lust, greed, gluttony, wrath, pride, envy, sloth, hope. All that crap. And some of them intersect. Like lust, greed, envy, gluttony, and hope. And all of them are pretty good for conning people, except maybe gluttony. Not that many cons involve intense desire for food, except for the old classic, the Chinese buffet that also serves pizza, macaroni and cheese, and chicken nuggets.

I don’t think the aliens are quite in on the usefulness of hope, though. There are armed rioters surrounding the Master Academy’s earthen wall. Just all over, with no chance of escape. I got a good enough look at it when I slipped out. Officially, they asked me to find Master Academy students who had been stranded outside and get them back. Out of the goodness of my heart, that sort of thing. That’s what they think. Now, I have some gadgets, parts, pieces, and tools in my little prefab that I dragged onto campus, so I put together something in a hurry. But a good something. A capable something.

A signal interceptor. It’s been awhile since I used this, but I’m desperate. My signal interceptor is a device that, when installed in a broadcast center, allows me to take over TV broadcasts over a wide area. Like all of Memphis. On top of that, it can have some destructive side effects on actual TV sets, overheating certain elements until they die.

Not the worst thing to have when you’ve got more truth than the internet will let you spew. Sure, give homeopaths more respectability than me. They’re the ones arguing that lead poisoning should be treated with more lead, and fixing bullet wounds with another shot. At least back during American Civil War times, they made it a shot of whiskey. That actually worked as a painkiller.

I mentally nicknamed this “mission” Operation Flaming Star as I hopped on top of the earthen wall and then over the crowd of people around the place. It didn’t occur to me until I got past them that the only ones shouting and throwing things were the ones right in front. The others past that made a few motions and occasionally added a bit of chorus to the shouts, but were otherwise faces in the crowd.

Well, they didn’t have any sort of super secret psychic sense to see me. My armor hid me easily and allowed me to slip the picket line to head south into the city. Once there, I had a few options. There were a couple of locations where friendly heroes and villains had holed up, though I suspected they were just as likely to be double agents at this point. The other option, fuck off and leave, would have been nice…but somehow I doubt the aliens want to play ball and just let me go. I mean, they want the entire world. This one city, the most populous city in the most powerful single nation on Earth, is just one piece. Not the most important one. Just the one they had to do something about because we spoke up, or so I’m thinking. Lastly, we could go for broke and make damn sure the people here know what’s going on.

I think I’ll go with that one. With that many people believing in all this and running, along with eyewitness testimony, it’ll be damn near impossible for all this to stay under wraps. So maybe we got a shot.

Life seemed surprisingly unchanged through much of the city. Not everyone ran to get medical care. Ironically, their stock of potential victims in their “clinics” had already been depleted by Technolutionary.

Crap!

I called him up. No answer. I reached out to the general number for Sigma Labs. Nothing else. A check with my head of the science division showed she didn’t have a clue about his whereabouts, whatever her name was. I suppose I should try to remember more underlings’ names, or at least assign them numbers. But I can’t really blame her for not knowing what went on at Sigma. It just means Technolutionary and I were much better at keeping secrets. So that was another thing to take care of in this excursion.

I tackled my problem head-on by waltzing into ABC’s local flagship station. One of the good thing about Empyreal City is its importance in the media, or so says the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. I mean, it’s not like breaking into a prison, Congress, or the United Nations. We’re talking the bare minimum of security. I probably could have done it visible.

I don’t think many of them were controlled, or they were better at passing if they were. Which also provides more evidence for few of them being controlled, come to think of it. If they were in the majority, they wouldn’t bother pretending.

Yep, just walked in, dropped my invisibility, snapped the producer’s neck, and began to attach the signal interceptor while everyone was busy screaming and running for their lives. I suppose it could have done things nonlethally, but…why? I mean, especially with the one that stopped just outside the production booth’s door to keep an eye on me. Didn’t even reach for his phone. That’s why I stood up and closed the door. Then punched my hand through the door and into his gut. Twenty feet later, I finished pulling out the spy’s small intestine and tried to squeeze his head through the door as well.

Then it was back to the interceptor, knowing I was on borrowed time, so I helped myself to their handy studio, which had also swiftly been evacuated. Except, once again, for an enslaved human. “Hey, glad to see you’re here, why don’t you come over here…”

He tried to run, but I grabbed him by the leg and the rest followed. Good rule of thumb to remember when leading people around. “Ok there, folks. I have something to say here. This should be going out to a hell of a lot of televisions right now. Nice to see y’all out there in TV Land. Some of you may know me as Psycho Gecko, notorious serial killer, mass murderer, and chocolate bunny aficionado. And you’ve also heard that I’m behind the resistance to these oh-so-benevolent aliens. You know, the aliens who want to put stuff in your heads that makes you walk around talking about how great they are and how they can build a utopia on Earth. Every last one of them. Including folks like Senator Powers.”

I used my armor to project that same damn language from him, as well as my memory of him on TV pushing for superheroes to be registered, his rampage with that FBI empowering tech, and Captain Lightning delivering his communicator organ. This would be an excellent spot for a clip show if this was a TV show.

“And when I toss out evidence, Youtube cockblocks me. So now I have that in common with Channel Awesome and Team Four Star. Oh, and people go around saying I’m provoking heroes. Yeah, sure, heroes are just jumping to do what I say.“

Cue the clip of a very surprised Venus holding my severed arm while I tried to clap.

I shrugged, smearing my captured slave’s panicky face against my armor.

“But let’s not just take it for granted, folks.” I ruffled the hair of the guy I held onto. “After all, this individual here was nice enough to stick around, trying to spy on me here in this studio. Let’s see what he has to say.”

He sputtered, “I, I, I, don’t know, please let me go. I have family! A kid, my girlfriend’s, but I had parents, too.”

I slammed his face onto the desk and held it down there while slipping off a glove. My exposed blackened zirconium nails gleamed in the studio lights. “Now, when vigorously asking people things, you never start with the head. The victim gets all fuzzy. He can’t feel the next…” I dug in with my fingernails, ignoring the screams and jerky flailing of the victim under me. One quick second later and I was hauling out another communicator organ, one I seriously needed a better name for by now. Then I pulled him up so he could address the camera. “See?”

I slipped my glove back on and sealed it as he kept babbling. “Ah! Oh god, it hurts. Fuck! He’s right! He’s right! They made me stay. At first, it was just talking-”

The building shook and the power flickered.

“What’s going on?” my new sidekick asked.

I looked around. “Well, we’re probably not on the air anymore, for starters. One moment…no, we’re done here. You’ll want to run now.”

A deep rumbling made that suggestion sound just dandy to me as well. Nice guy that I am, I even let my bleeding surgery patient run out ahead of me. When nothing grabbed or zapped or disemboweled him, I figured it was safe to run. I hit the invisibility, though, just in case the would-be conquistadors were simply more discriminate about killing than I am.

Crazy guy ran for the stairs. Me, I took the window. My flying leap carried myself and some glass well away from the building in a moment full of action, drama, and a little bit of romance when I landed on a flagpole sticking out from a building across the street. In a major letdown for special effects artists everywhere, no giant beam of light burst forth from the heavens. The outside windows gleamed for a moment, like something flashed by. Then the whole thing blew apart.

Just, apart. Like everything was sliced down to a fine thin shard and it all started flying away from where it had been in every direction. Including the people, unless they had a lot of red and white shit I didn’t see while passing through.

So at first, I figured it was a successful mission, until the sky went dark out of nowhere. No precipitation in the cards today, but it became a dark and stormy day, with rain pouring out of nowhere.

Sure, fine, let the aliens rain on my parade. But the damage was already done, I figured. They realized it pretty quickly if the length of the rainfall was any indication. It stopped after a few minutes and then everything got all foggy and misty. Eh, so what? I stopped by some old Jewish deli to pick up some of the stragglers I’d been sent out for.

I texted Venus to let them know I was close. She started to say the usual shit. Ya know: “Oh my god, what did you do, you doomed us all, you madman? Have my baby!”

In retrospect, maybe she had a point. See, as I approached the deli, I was stopped in my tracks. And not by some fine Jamaican booty, either. Nope, it was by hands made of asphalt which grabbed onto my legs, knees, thighs, and even ass. Held me tight. I amped up the muscle enhancers in my suit to break free. Didn’t budge, so I set it to the level where it starts breaking bones. Good news is, broke my bones, so the pseudomuscles worked correctly. Bad news, another giant hand reached up to hold me still when I started to budge the others.

A wall blew out on the diner, showing a super kneeling there with his hands on the ground. Looked a lot like the one back at Master Academy who built the wall, so maybe an older brother. Well, I’ll have to head back and let him know he’ll be an only child from now on. It’s not all bad. Now his parents can afford to give him twice the presents at Christmas. He just better hope they better not give him that crappy light brown costume they gave his older brother.

The hand guy wasn’t alone, though. The blowing out was done by another one who who had mechanical flamethrowers for hands. He had a flame-pattern red unitard on, because fire supers don’t have a lot of creativity. The flaming wall was scattered further by another teen in an outflit that used Persian blue, Caroline blue, and Prussian blue in repeating columns to create a costume amazingly blue in appearance. I mean, what else do you call that kind of costume?

Facing off against Earth, Wind, and Fire like this, I seriously wanted to smack a bitch. The feeling was mutual. Little boy blue held his hands in front of his torso, where a bunch of winds blew and swirled, carrying little bits of debris with them. The fabulous flamer grinned and spurted a few flames in the air before a constant stream of fire formed into a pair of hands that wiggled their fingers in anticipation of grabbing me.

Trapped as I was, with a couple chicken grenades on me, I knew this was going to be bad. Dammit… a trapped villain being threatened by color-coded heroes with elemental powersets. Death by Saturday Morning Cartoon.

Aha! Saturday morning cartoons! I just needed the power of cheesiness on my side to prevail. And I knew just the way.

While the Battlin’ Blower busied himself with sucking, I reached over and unsealed my gloves. “Hey there, boys. I know y’all are lookin’ for a nice foursome here, and I appreciate the thought, but it’s a bad time of month for me. So how about a handjob instead?”

I fired the rockets on my gloves that I’d added to give them extra oomph in punching. They flew out, empty but still heavy and rocket-powered, to follow in their master’s wish to smack bitches. The first caught the firey one in the cheek just as he lowered his arms and tried to blast me. In a move that showed my amazing long-term thinking instead of luck, flames reached out to lick the one gathering all that air, who instinctively reacted by trying to push the flames away. He let all of his gathered winds loose at once threw off the glove I’d aimed for the crap-colored-costumed one with his hands in the dirty and his dirt hands on my ass. In the plus column, the winds blasted a bunch of grit into his face and pushed him back, causing him to try and shield his face.

I felt the hands’ grip soften on me at once and jumped again, aiming for a building away.

The trio didn’t try to pursue, which worked out great for me. Probably had something to do with still being invisible. The earth guy must have felt my footsteps and got me that way. Well, I wasn’t stepping too easily aside from that, but I did need to stop and give myself a hot nanite injection to get back up to snuff. I don’t kid about my own suit breaking my bones. That’s why I didn’t use these pseudomuscles as much for awhile there.

A weird buzzing on my way back to the Master Academy alerted me to a slight problem, though. The nanites found something extremely unusual since the last time I’d used them, which I swear was pretty damn recently. Y’all know how I live; I always have to worry about hurting myself. So it was kinda odd that they detected some weird new organ trying to grow and displace a device I had in my neck. My gadget is what allows me to control my limbs if my spine is broken. Theirs was an alien plot to take over my brain. I ordered its breakdown. Then I had to order it again as I skipped over a bunch of people to land on the campus wall and one of them informed me that it had tried to regrow itself. I decided to keep myself swimming in nanites for the near future. First a virus, now weird growths.

Walking in the door of my prefab unit, I dropped my invisibility and grabbed another couple of gloves to replace my lost ones. But, hey, the rocket punch was awesome. Just need to cut my hands off next time to make it more awesome. While contemplating ways to work that into my conversation on why I wasn’t going to escort more stupid heroes, I realized the campus looked a bit more…I don’t know…damaged than when I left. Burn marks, craters, fissures in the dirt.

Oh, and there was the tackling when I walked in the door, too. Venus, in full power armor, held my face to the ground. “Hey, you can’t just throw me on the ground of nowhere! Do I look black to you?”

“Are you one of them?” She asked through a filtered voice. Her full power armor was a lot bulkier than mine, but she’d sealed it up tight too.

I decided to stop struggling. I know what to do when Venus jumps on me in a school while wearing power armor people. I’ve had this wet dream before! “Nope. You mean one of the alien puppets, right? They tried a couple times and…hey, this time it’s not trying to grow back.”

Venus didn’t let me up immediately. “Do you want peace on earth and goodwill toward man?”

I shook my head. “Wouldn’t mind a chocolate shake right now, but if you insist on holding this position any longer, I’m gonna have to ask for some body oil and handcuffs, too.”

“We need to test you, asshole.” She hauled me to my feet.

I almost kicked her and ran out of spite and general disagreeability, but…shit, I did still need her help. I didn’t want it, and didn’t want to need it, but I did need it. She carried me down into the basement, down past my special room, to an area that looked rough and carved out of rock. They must have thrown it together. Heavy door, though. Like mine, but one that didn’t pretend to be normal. She cranked something on it where a lock would be and tugged hard. Air blew past us before she hauled me into a sparse room furnished with only a few surgical instruments and one of those rolling beds like they pack in ambulances.

She threw me on there and swung the door closed behind her. “Strip,” she ordered. I thought this was going somewhere fun, and felt like playing along, so I apologized for my lack of tassels and started showing off as best as I could in a pole-less room. She tolerated it long enough for me to free my head from my helmet, then slapped my face into the bedding and held me there.

When she finished, and confirmed there was no evil alien influence on my biology, I jammed another syringe of nanites into my cheek to take care of the bleeding. I swear, no common courtesy from some people. “Satisfied?”

The way she punched me and knocked those teeth loose, I don’t think she was.

“Get suited back up. We’ve got some rooms sealed, but the whole building isn’t protected yet. Don’t ask about the rest of the campus.”

Up in the common room, we entered through another pressurized door. Venus moved to stand watch through the windows. And this couldn’t be all of the heroes. Wildflower jumped into my arms, though, so they didn’t all share that look like I just set their grannies on fire and used the ashes as a litter box.

Holding my purring pretty pussycat, I nodded to Moai, then asked. “So, what’s up with the campus?”

“We were just watching TV,” said one of that weird little trio of identical siblings of different sexes.

The androgynous one of the three picked up the thought and ran with it. “You came on, then when the guy started screaming, you turned off.”

“It started raining, then everyone started fighting,” added the little boy of the triad.

I facepalmed. Wildflower helped me by adding her palm to the blow. “Biological weapon. Screw it, why go after people little by little when no one wants to volunteer?”

“It’s ok,” Wildflower wrapped her tail around my waist. “Some of us weren’t infected and managed to help the others. The Long Life nanites helped long enough to seal up some of the buildings, but we’re trapped in different areas until the effect stops completely or we find a way to prevent the growth in the first place.”

“Oh, sure, yeah, fine and dandy,” I said, shaking my head. I had some bad ideas about what that rain from earlier meant for the rest of the city.

One of the teens, this goth boy, tossed his two cents in, “Someone had to go and decide to play hero. God, we should have sent you to jail. You don’t do anything good. You can’t.”

I turned and pointed at him, “Hey there little hero-wannabe, not all of us can defeat armies with an intensive letter-writing campaign to their daddies. But I’m sure if we all join forces and learn an important lesson about tolerance and teamwork, these vile aliens will be defeated in no time, just like in the movies,” I suggested.

All the external light went dark, then turned blue. My three-sixty display showed the earth’s sky replaced with some neon techno version like I just got sucked into Tron. It looked like a cage went up around the campus. Nah, scratch that. As I approached the window, I could distant skyscrapers backlit by it. This thing had surrounded the city.

I didn’t get a good look before Venus socked me one in the jaw and laid me out. “Happy now?” she asked.

Oh, yeah, like I wanted the aliens to do this. I’m just the one who actually cares about cutting their balls off. “Yeah, I’m pretty happy right now. Real content. Wish you could join me.”

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Aliens Eunt Domus 6

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In which the intrepid heroes march on the United Nations. Oh, don’t get me wrong, it was meant to be a peaceful protest. Well, the optimistic version of the plan called for peaceful protest. Plan B, far more realistic as it was, involved hostility. I can’t recall if we went through the entire alphabet, but there were a few of them in which I A-Plus died, and even one where I got a cool scar on my face.

But let’s back that thang up a bit, like fine Jamaican booty. The heroes opted to handle this situation like heroes who believed, and someone actually said this, that daylight was the best disinfectant. Which is why people just hold scalpels under sunlight to sterilize them, I’m sure.

Now, they weren’t all idiots. Victor Mender’s one of their better minds, since he proposed that a bunch of villains be ready as backup in case things turned hostile. Yeah, right. “in case”. Still, I have to commend both the craftiness and audacity of him choosing to recruit the Order villains by having me advertise an epic party at the Master Academy East Campus address. They showed up for a rave, and instead got a half-built school full of heroes. I wish I could have seen their faces, but the Master Academics figured I’d be more likely to ruin the meeting.

That’s right, the horde of heroes thought I would spook the villains too much. What’s worse, I agreed and let them shut Moai and I up in my room with my armor. If I’d known they were going to do that, I’d have held off on the prefab base. The Buzzkills locked it down and stayed inside while everything happened.

There must have been so many blowjobs to make that teamup happen. So damn many. I imagine they just had one unfortunate school scapegoat. The class loser, without the power or prestige to get out of it. “Shut up, Francis! Now get down on your knees for the bad guys.” Whatever they resorted to, I sat it out with Moai and Wildflower. Found her sitting on my bed with a copy of Frankenstein. I snuggled up to her. She let me.

“Hmm.” I hmmed.

“Hmm?” she hmmed questioningly.

I set my head on her shoulder, the top of my head rubbing against the side of her neck. “Some parallels occur to me.”

“Are you going to hold what I did against me as long as the creature does?”

“Give me a reason not to.”

“You couldn’t protect me like that, and I helped you.”

“I suppose it evens out. I broke your neck and cut you open. You chloroformed me and threw me to the superpowered wolves. Aren’t we a pair?” I let the question linger in the air.

She turned and kissed the top of my head. “A pair of animals.”

But enough of that personal drama. That’s been boring me, too. This whole thing is about aliens, after all. But speaking of good segways…

“I hope they make everything Captain Lightning and I found sound good. Would hate to screw the whole thing up with presentation.” I twirled a finger through her tail, careful of the thorns.

“Mhm. That’s why Venus pulled some strings and got Man-Opener out.”

Yep. A big part of keeping me under wraps was the release of Man-Opener to talk to the other villains. It was an act of goodwill, and he went on a rampage declaring aliens were coming. It kicks two nuts with one shoe.

After a time, Wildflower set her book aside to go check on the outside world. The first time, she shook her head when she came back. “They’re still here.” The second time she poked her head in the door, she told me, “News from the outside, stranger. They’re gone. You want to watch the fireworks on TV?”

So we found ourselves in the common room. There were a couple of other adults there, teens, kids, somebody in a full-body cast. “I see we aren’t the only ones missing the party.”

“Alas not all of us are combat-ready,” said the digitized voice of Victor Mender, who rolled in to change the channel to the news.

“Aren’t you a bad guy?” asked a trio of toddlers who all looked, sounded, and dressed the exact same, except that one was a boy, one was a girl, and I couldn’t tell what the third one was. Hairless.

I shook my head. “Nuh uh. I’m a girl.”

The TV interrupted us. “Breaking news: we go live to alien free clinic where it has currently set up in the Lower East Side. A group of heroes have marched on the clinic in protest, claiming to have evidence that they are performing medical procedures that mind control the patients. These are wild accusations; I’d like to see proof of this before people risk an international incident. Strike that, an interplanetary incident.”

They didn’t even cover the accusations themselves, I noticed. They just showed a few scenes, repeating, with random yelling and noise that I’m fairly certain didn’t come from the Masters. It didn’t matter what proof they presented there, the only quotes being shown were accusations. Ignoring their remotes, I flipped through the news channels, watching it all being handled similarly.

Then they had more breaking news: a second front at the Harlem free clinic, right near the Long Life one that had been healing people with nanites. The aliens were getting a lot more visitors than that company. Human technologies are suspect like that, especially to the crowd that thinks organic is a sign of quality while still flushing their crap down indoor plumbing. The aliens, though, that was a novelty. An event. You had to be there, and they were. So were some more of the Masters. And suddenly, the news wasn’t reporting on protests. They were claiming riots.

It was hard to tell what was going on for sure. There were gunshots, smoke, and someone throwing up a forcefield. “The heroes have turned violent. For anyone watching, please get the children out of the room. This is disturbing imagery they shouldn’t have to see. And now reports are coming in that a mass of villains have taken advantage of the protests to attack the First Nation’s Bank.” This newscaster held his hand up to his ear. “And they are fighting with each other in the streets. It is a melee among villains, heroes, and law enforcement. Ladies and gentlemen of Empyreal City, please stay indoors.”

“Well, this went wonderfully,” I commented. “Maybe we should blow something up to make the whole thing look even better.” I looked for Victor, but a squeal of tires marked his chair speeding out of there. A couple of the other chaperones ran after him. “Great. Let me see if I can call someone who can put a better spin on this.”

I sat down on the couch all meditation-style and pointed at my forehead. “Don’t bother me. This is the international sign for using mental problems.”

While kids start crying and rioting around me, I muted my ears and gave Harlon a call. Harlon is this news executive I met when I killed some friends of his. He helps me out sometimes, and once in a blue moon I return the favor. I think he just likes having a friend.

“Psycho Gecko, as I live and breath. God, how long has it been, buddy?”

“Too long, Harlon. How you doin’? Things still working out for you, or do you need a business rival moved out of your way? You know you always do right by me.” I may not always be charming, but at least I can turn it on for short periods of time.

“Oh, I’m fine. Just fine. I don’t need any help. The aliens are a goldmine.”

“Yeah, they are, aren’t they? Hey, I noticed that nobody’s actually putting out what the protesters were saying. How about you get some of that out there.”

“You know something I don’t?”

“I have it on very good authority that they’re right.”

“Do they have real evidence?”

I scoffed to myself in the real world. “Trust me, they have evidence. I’ve been the one putting most of it together. Hell, I have a recording of their ambassador killing the Secretary General.”

“Send it to me and I’ll see what I can do.”

“You’ll make a fortune, too. Another exclusive. Oh, and you’ll be helping to save the earth from invasion of the organ transplanters.”

I woke up and unmuted my ears to the sound of giggling and the smell of marker. A lot of the younger students were looking at me, with that one triad particularly close. I grabbed one of my eyes and pulled it out to see if they’d done something. Yep, they drew on my face. I was now a pretty kittycat.

“Gross,” said this one teen.

I shrugged. “You’ve never heard of keeping an eye out?” I popped it back in, then turned to find Wildflower, who was just coming back into the room with a bunch of sodas. “You’re just in time. I’m gonna murder some children.”

“No you’re not.” She set them down on a little table in the middle of the room, then swatted me gently on the shoulder. Just before she sat down, I noticed her shaking a little.

“Nervous? Hey, I just put in a call to someone who should be able to turn this around for us. I have a media conspiracy of my own, too.”

Harlon was prompt, that’s for sure. Fifteen minutes after I sent the video footage, the network he worked for had another piece of breaking news. “Related to the bizarre actions of the Master Academy and Empyreal City’s own superheroes, we have more breaking news. This just in: we have received an exclusive report from a trusted source that notorious killer supervillain Psycho Gecko is somehow involved with the rioting in Empyreal City, as some sort of ringleader or perhaps the fabricator of this ‘evidence’ that the heroes claim to have.”

I sat there in silence, then burned through the TV with my laser eye. “That’s it, I’ll settle this the old-fashioned way.”

“What are you doing? Don’t do anything you’ll regret,” Wildflower said, jumping up to stand next to me.

I brushed her bangs out of her face. “Honey, please. When have I ever regretted killing anybody?”

She put her hands on my shoulders. “I thought you were going to work on that. If you go out there and kill someone, it will make everything worse. People will see.”

“That’s why I’m going to kill them.”

“Who?”

“People. ALL the people.”

“You have done quite enough Psycho Gecko,” said a computerized voice as Mender rolled back in. “For everyone’s sake you will stay on the campus.”

I shot him a look. It almost included the laser. Almost. “Like it’ll hurt anything at this point? We need something a little tougher than stupid protests. Nobody cares about protests! They’re useless even when nobody’s taken over the news. I just need to take over some airways myself and I’ll expose it all. You tried, but your stooges aren’t getting the evidence out. At least this way if we’re exposing ourselves, we’re exposing all of ourselves.” I noticed a pair of guys in the room nodding along as they looked at me. “Hell, let me spread the word online. I got video and everything I-”

I blinked, having lost my train of thought because I was suddenly back in my room. My HUD clock blinked 12:00 annoyingly until it resynced and showed that I’d lost an hour. The same room with thick enough walls to keep me from accessing anything outside it. And a big heavy door meant to be locked if someone lost control of their powers. And an angry pair of heroines, who grabbed me and pulled me out.

“Ok, ok, who’s ready for the waterboarding?!”

“Shut up, Gecko,” Venus said, then shook her head. “I’m sorry, it’s a habit, and sorry they put you in there. Victor was under pressure to manage that crisis and you make us nervous.”

“Well, I’ve lost time and woken up in the wrong place before.” Turning to Wildflower, I asked, “Remember the chloroform?”

“Sorry, but I agree in principle. You know what’s at stake.” She booped me on the nose.

Oh right. The dying. But this new insistence on keeping me safe? It’s kinda creepy.

Venus stepped in front of me and stopped. “Listen, this is a confusing time. Superheroes haven’t operated at a tactical level like this since World War II, and neither have villains. You were right about staying quiet. We were infiltrated, too. We took a lot of hits, but you are still welcome among us.” She looked me in the eyes as she said it. Holy crap, she was sincere!

“The enemy’s winning, but you’re still thinking of helping me?” She left me stupefied by that stupidity.

“Yeah. Come on. Tonight they’ve got tacos.” She turned and jogged off.

Wildflower put her arm around me as we followed. “I know. She believes in what she preaches. It’s a good community, and they’re protective of their own. Right now, that includes you.”

Which explains the twelve year old boy we saw in the courtyard who raised his hands and and brought forth a huge rock wall around the perimeter of the school grounds to block the view of, oh, only a few hundred angry anti-super protesters. And the full-body shiver at the unwelcome concept of me being a part of their community now.

One thing’s clear. I can’t let this turn into some blue-ball Cold War. Open violence is the solution. Unfortunately, Youtube keeps taking down my videos and accounts under near-instantaneous copyright notices. Geez, I guess people can just file a copyright claim and get anything taken down. Without Youtube, I might as well be selling fuzzy Bigfoot photos to the National Enquirer.

The truth is out there. On Vimeo. Where nobody’s fucking looking.

Whether my hosts like it or not, I gotta get out there in the game. Their incompetence is going to get me killed sooner than me trying to hug the entire enemy fleet to death.

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Aliens Eunt Domus 5

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The rest of the world held its collective breath. The alien delegation to the United Nations had been attacked by Psycho Gecko, who murdered the Secretary General, one of the aliens, and a lot of security personnel before disappearing. In the aftermath, the planet Earth scrambled to salvage the situation in the hopes of averting a diplomatic disaster. Luckily, it seemed the extraterrestrials were grudgingly willing to negotiate.

Considering how little of the first part of that was true, the last part might have just been a comforting lie. From what I remember, the xenomorphs liked the idea of war. Regardless, they hadn’t actually engaged in it openly. Remarkable, that.

I didn’t have too much time to worry about that at first. I had to reach deep inside myself, find the tainted portions of my psyche, and exorcise my demons. My virtual demons, in the tainted parts of my cybernetic brain implants, that is. They’ve been dropping subtle hints here at Master Academy about seeing a psychiatrist and a therapist, but no one’s forced me. Hints decorating my room with a red couch, or dropping off some books to read that included Freud and Jung, or an anonymous gift of an inkblot poster to decorate the wall.

Not a bad room, for being buried in the basement, behind thick concrete and lead. Something about rooms for students with unstable powers. They didn’t have many of them ready, since they were rushing. Accelerating, I think, because of the recent otherworldly shenanigans. That explains the presence of a window in my room, unless they figured I liked to watch worms.

They’re just scared of me. I’m the one they’re sticking in a lead coffin surrounded by a few dozen people enemies, but they’re scared of me. At least they let me eat in the cafeteria. One of the alumni is a decent cook and has some of the students helping out fixing meals for their fellows. Odd thing to teach for a school churning out heroes, but not everyone wants to live on restaurant food.

It was kinda fun to sit there alone at a table and watch students actively ignoring me. Turning their faces away, glancing and then quickly looking away. The ones closest kept their voices low and finished lunch in a hurry. If I sat in the middle of the room, it probably would have been one of the most orderly meal services in the world.

That all ended when a loud batch of voices burst in, which wasn’t unusual itself. It’s a school, with young adults, teens, and children. The worrisome part came when an oddly familiar voice asked, “So he’s in here now?”

Where had I heard that voice before? And more importantly, was my inability to perfectly remember the answer a symptom of alien brainwashing? The answer to them, I recognized perfectly. “He is no longer the correct pronoun, and she’s over there.”

I looked over to find Venus pointing me out to one of the older teens. She looked tan, with hair all the colors of the rainbow. The full set: Roy G. Biv. It took seeing her eyes to recognize her. “Leah?” Her body looked different, more grownup, but that was the runaway I’d once mentored back when I owned a nightclub. She was dumped on me because she had nowhere else to go and nobody else wanted to deal with her. I taught her important lessons that all young ladies need to know, from powdering noses to breaking noses. Actually, I focused on the breaking noses part. Pretty much entirely the breaking noses part. But as the saying goes, “Powder a man’s nose, and you make him look funny for a day. Break a man’s nose, and you make him look funny for a lifetime, or until the next time you break it.” Venus eventually sunk her claws into the girl and sent her over to the Master Academy main campus in California, where she was probably their best student in ass-kicking class.

She smiled and ran over, whereupon I slipped away from her hug, grabbed her arm, and slammed her face down onto the table next to my food. I was still eating, dammit. She took the hit, but grabbed my right arm by the one that held her right, and twisted around to try and put me in a hammerlock, which goes around the back of a person. “Stop! It’s not hammerlock time!” I jumped up on the table, did a backflip, hooked her under the arm, and used the momentum as I dropped to my back to drag her over me and drop her on top of the next table over. I kipped up after that, then looked around. “Get me a knife. We have to check her for infiltration.” I glanced around. Plastic, plastic, plastic. Plastic knives are very much not ideal for surgery on a hostile wriggling person.

“She’s safe, Gecko. We already checked her!” Venus called out.

About that time, Leah sat up and tried to clock me with a plate full of mashed potatoes and gravy. I ducked under it and caught her in a hug as the brown and white goop plopped onto my table. “Ah, c’mere you!”

“Next time ask if I’ve been checked before fighting me!” she yelled, but then hugged back.

“Not my fault you forgot how to fight since joining these people.” I looked over at the various staring students. “Yeah, I said it. I’m ethicist. Stupid good people, coming to my side of the country to take away hard-working villains’ jobs. There oughta be a wall.”

“Relax, you.” Leah said, slipping out of the hug this time. “I came here with the shipment of the MasterFrame and our super cracker, A-Plus.”

I shook my head. “Leah, what have I told you about racial insults. If you’re going to use them, make them mean something. Nobody in the world is bothered by being called a ‘Cracker’. Hell, there’s a white rapper out there who called himself Uncle Kracker. First time I heard of him, I thought it was a joke.”

She pushed me away. “Um, let me down. I’d stay and chat, but I have to change my clothes now, Gex.” I gave her some space so she could leave and attend to her precious fashion sense. Then again, I also know the difficulty of walking around in public with a mess of delicious chocolate pudding on the back of my ass.

She and the rest of Master Academy were apparently as good as their word. From what they explained to me, the MasterFrame was a project created by IT and other early brilliant supers around Silicon Valley, and upgraded over the years by similarly great computer minds. They think it’s one of the most powerful computers in the world. The one they brought is the smallest one they have.

Their cracker also looked tiny. For those who are curious why a side item for soups came with a computer mainframe, “cracker” is the proper term for a White Hat hacker. A “good guy” hacker. Most people just know the other term due to the actions of Black Hats. Personally, I think 1950s representations of fictional cowboys’ clothing doesn’t make a very good classification system for computer users, but that’s why I’m the strange one here.

We all went over to the administration building, which hadn’t yet been finished, and they installed the three of us in what they hoped to be the server room. First they got the MasterFrame into place, then A-Plus and his computer station, then a comfy chair for me, then my ass in the comfy chair. Then A-Plus awkwardly held a Thunderbolt 3 cable and looked me over. I raised an eyebrow. “Where do you think you’re plugging that in at, Weird Al?”

He blushed so much, I thought he’d shoot blood out of his nose like an anime protagonist around women. “Better get ready, because my head is no place for the meek.” I snatched the cable away from him and stuck it in my ear. “Shake my hand. Come on, boys, won’t you shake a poor sinner’s hand? Are ya ready? Are ya ready? Transformation central, reformation central, transmogrification central! Can ya feel it?”

“Worst. Disney. Princess. Ever.” A-Plus mentioned as he settled in on his screen.

I’d like to say that the resulting battle in cyberspace involved people in skintight suits with glowing neon lines and chakrams that doubled as driver’s licenses. Or maybe something where A-Plus tried to look cool in a black coat and shades while hiding a small armory in guns on his body. However, cyberspace just isn’t quite that cool, even with someone else joining in. It’s all code. Even the sexy bits. Especially the sexy bits.

We had to go deep. Real deep. The Master Boot Record. Most cyber infections are eliminated by reformatting, and I assumed I got it because there were no more symptoms of infection, but it looks like that rascally piece of malware just hid deeper. Fucking Master Booter. Instead of acting overtly malicious, it provided access for commands from afar.

Heh. Wow. I’d been worried about people running around with those communication organs growing inside them, but it turns out the real traitor was in me the entire time. That’s entirely the wrong sort of Aesop to take from all this, though I’d say it fits my life story perfectly.

It was dirty, boring work to deal with the partition, partially because that part of my brain doesn’t run on anything like a normal operating system. He had to leave me alone a few times, too, but I had too much data to sift through to call him out on it.

I know, anticlimactic. There should have been something epic, like throwing a frisbee at a giant face in a tube, or fighting a personification of a virus with a personification of me. The best I could do was imagine I was stomping around a battlefield in huge power armor, burning through malicious code while shouting, “Die, xeno scum! You will be purged in the name of the Gex-Emperor of Mankind!”

It felt very liberating to give myself one last reboot, blink my eyes, and remember I had a physical body. I sat up suddenly, quoting the first thing to come to mind, “’He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man.’ Huh. Wonder where I heard that. Johnson?” I cocked my head, checking my memory and spotting some things I didn’t quite remember, then looked to where A-Plus sat at his computer, a couple days’ stubble on his face and a nearly-spent two liter of orange soda at his side. “You didn’t download some new stuff into me, did you? That sounded like something you goody-goodies would want me to have read.”

A-Plus held his hands up. “Uh uh. I didn’t have any time between helping you and building the backup.”

I blinked, then jumped up. I yanked the cable out of my ear with a grimace, then stepped over to his computer. “Destroy it. Delete it. Kill it now, and then probably burn wherever it’s saved. And the MasterFrame, too. Get rid of it.”

He jumped in his seat and leaned away from me. “Alright! Jesus! I’ll get rid of it!”

I bent down and looked him in the eyes. Didn’t say a thing. Just growled. Then I stood up and started stretching. “Why’d you ditch me in there, anyway? You left a few times.”

“Um, to eat and sleep? I haven’t done much else these days.”

I ordered up the date on my HUD-based clock. I’d spent almost two days in the chair. Well that took longer than I thought. On the plus side, that should have given Crash enough time to make the arrangements I asked of her.

Stumbling upstairs and feeling rather unclean, I pushed open the door to the outside and immediately regretted it. Gah, the sunlight! It burned! Not literally, but it burned like a giant light in the sky that I hadn’t seen for two days. Perhaps that simile can express why I hated the sight of it so much, though the mobile, prefabricated building with the bee people guarding the front was much better to look at. About time the Buzzkills got out and about. I’d almost felt like I was letting down my anthropomorphic bee minions by using them for so little.

Moai slammed the door open, giving Leah a piggyback ride that ended with the both of them rushing over to me. Moai stopped short and leaned over, throwing Leah off onto me. She knocked me to the ground. “You’re back! Did it work?”

I nodded. “That’s right. I’m officially free of viruses.”

A pair of pretty bare feet with pointed toenails stepped up on either side of my head. “I could have told you that,” spoke the owner of those body parts. I looked up to see Wildflower there, hands on her hips. She didn’t look happy, but then I hadn’t been talking to her since she dragged me here.

“Have you two met?” I asked, pointing between my probable ex and the teen I mentored who had at one point apparently had a crush on me.

“We’ve met,” they said at once, with differing tones. Wildflower gave Leah a hand up, but slapped mine away when I tried to get some help.

Before I could come up with a witty remark, Victor Mender’s computer-generated voice called out, “You should not be laying around at a time like this young man. Events are unfolding beyond our ability to control. We need your expertise.”

“Oh? You need me for something? I feel like we’re missing someone in whose face I should rub this. Awkward sentence, that. Possible cybernetic brain damage?

Brain damaged or not, I still felt smarter than the people that Mender showed me saved on his DVR. They reopened negotiations. Not only reopened, but this time they expected the Earth delegation to undergo a process that would grow them a translator. The first one to get the procedure done himself smiled and pointed out that it was a painless procedure that left him feeling great. “I hear that the process enables me to use some of our new friends’ amazing technologies. Don’t be afraid of this step for peace. They are our friends, and they have much to share with us. This is the dawning of a new golden age for Earth. A utopia, in our lifetimes.”

As a show of goodwill, the aliens were even landed a medic team of those suited, flowing guys who toured a hospital and started treating patients from the Emergency Room.

I have a pretty good idea what these “translators” are that they’re getting stuck in them, and what some of this medical stuff is. It makes sense, too. The guy at the UN mentioned war, but it’s a different sort of war. A war that saves the maximum number of usable bodies for their interstellar feud.

“Their idea of war is a lot more subtle than I figured, but effective enough for what they seem to need,” I mused. “Unless this is the other side that won out. The ones who don’t want war.”

“You may enjoy our protection and sanctuary young man. I ask you to let us speak with The Order of Villains to add allies. The battle for humanity requires Yin and Yang. Do I have your aid?”

“Oh yeah, I can put you in touch with them. Huge group of Yangs, but they won’t deal with me very well. So if you got the balls, I can get my hands on some Yangs.”

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Aliens Eunt Domus 4

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In contrast to my confident kicking of several asses in my escape from the United Nations, I’m driving people nuts at Double Cross Towers. It’s the paranoia. Someone will just be walking along, trying to deliver papers before heading to lunch break, maybe wondering when they put a new trashcan in the hallway. Bam! Out jumps some crazy lady with a rag that smells like sleepytime. And I don’t mean the tea.

Then they wake up with stitches on the back of their neck, confused. If I really wanted to freak someone out, I’d stick them in a bathtub full of ice and stitch up their side like I stole a kidney or something.

That would have been a lot more fun than rocking back and forth on the couch with two screens pulled up in front of me so I could fast forward through everything I’ve done since that day I fought off the alien virus in Romania while checking through every single bit of code in my cybernetics. Because that’s most of what I did after the personnel checks, even ignoring all the alien-related news. Blahdy blah, something about people on both sides desperate to come to an understanding after the confusing and murderous events that took place at the United Nations.

I didn’t have time to worry about that. I had to get my brain back. This was no time to lose my mind, after all. It was taking awhile to check, complicated by the fact that I couldn’t trust my own eyes. Or brain.

I wasn’t about to trust Technolutionary, either. He already got to do things with my DNA. I don’t want him literally picking my brain. Wildflower doesn’t know enough about all this, either. Neither would Venus, or Carl, or Crash, or Beetrice, or Captain Lightning. There’s nobody but me, and I can’t trust myself. Because I realized that I’ve made a lot of mistakes lately. It seems like it’s been more than usual. Things I’ve forgotten or obvious ways of doing things that just didn’t occur to me. The thing where I got spotted bugging the alien shuttle, for instance. Or whatever other missteps I’ve made. Maybe. I don’t know, and that’s the problem.

My dedication to couchsurfing my own brain has worried…everyone. Crash still brings by reports, then takes them away and tries to manage them with the department heads and Carl. Moai occasionally nudges me aside to watch stupid TV shows. No matter where I sit, he always goes out of his way to push me around a little. Wildflower got worried after the first night, until I explained the problem with the alien virus making me some sort of hidden agent.

Hell, forget about just my mistakes. I didn’t kill all the villains, but now I know why Oligarch and I weren’t entirely at cross purposes. I mean, if I want to mistrust my own judgment, I’ll do it because I’m crazy, not because someone’s making me do stuff without me knowing it.

So she left. I was a bit numb to it, but it seemed reasonable. Was more surprisingly when she came back. When she got back, she revealed she’d gone shopping. Then she tried to do a striptease for me. When I didn’t look up, she checked my pulse, then ran off.

Not surprisingly, she managed to get Carl’s attention and convince him to follow her, since she hadn’t bothered to put on any better clothes than the stripper clothes she’d bought to impress me. I could understand it, both that she’d forget she was dressed like that given her usual costume, and that Carl would gladly follow her to a place with a bed upon seeing her.

I just had other, more important things to do. When Carl saw me and heard from Wildflower, with Moai nodding along, he took a deep breath. Then he walked up and knocked over the screens I’d been staring at for two days straight. I jumped up, grabbed him by his collar and waistband, and threw him over the couch. Then I sat back down on the couch and went back to binge-watching myself. In the back of my mind, I head Wildflower padding up quietly. Probably thought she was being quiet.

In my weak and sleep-deprived state, it wasn’t difficult for her to knock me out with the chloroform. See what I mean about making mistakes lately?

I was sorta surprised not to find myself locked up somewhere when I awoke. The Great and Devious Psycho Gecko brought down by a heroic girlfriend. I guess whenever Wildflower and I get tired of each other, I can tease Venus by telling her she has a better chance of catching me with some vigorous humping.

So where was I? Good question. It looked like a doctor’s office. Not a hospital, an office. You know, with the solid, oddly-padded bed and its uncomfortable tilt, along with a small medicine cabinet, sink, rolling stool, and that sort of stuff. I tossed off the blanket covering me to find myself in one of those gowns, but with workout shorts and a tank top underneath. So somebody undressed and redressed me while I was out, but at least they weren’t letting every passerby sneak a peek.

Still didn’t tell me where I am, though the GPS took care of that. I was north of Empyreal City a bit. I’d actually been here before, turns out. According to the playback from that day, I’d been here the day Wildflower showed me around her dorm.

That damn fucking hero…I…couldn’t think up enough special cuss words. Something about giraffes and deepthroating…gah! I knew there was no time for cussing. I had to get the hell out of there, if it wasn’t too late already. No one with half a brain would leave me unguarded, even unconscious. And considering some of my dreams, especially unconscious. Like that time where I was a vampire fighting ghosts who summoned the Ghostbusters to fight me, but I managed to kill one with a magic ritual knife and chased after the others while singing the song “Hellfire” from Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame.

A weapon would be a good idea. I grabbed a couple of those wooden sticks. The ones from lollipops that doctors like to test gag reflexes with. Too bad they didn’t have an old Female Hysteria remedy, or I could have really unloaded on someone. Believe it or not, those are also good for testing gag reflexes.

I tore off the gown, then grinned to myself and hid it under the blanket on the bed. They can look for a woman in a gown all they want while I jogged my way right out the door. Or I could have, but no sports bra. Ah, hell, it just means most students of this Master Academy East Branch wouldn’t be able to identify my face in a lineup.

No one guarded the door. The hallway looked empty. Good, maybe they’re still low on students. I slipped the mouth sticks into the back of my shorts for safekeeping until I needed to use them for a lethal tonsil examination. Since I only had two directions to pick from, it was pretty easy to figure on heading left. One corner later and I came to a door, which I pressed my ear to. Couldn’t hear anything through it, so I figured that was a good sign. I figured I’d go ahead and poke my head in.

Speaking of those bad decisions I’ve been making lately, that was one of them. Not the worst decision. Not even as bad as if I just barged on through the doors. But, yeah, it gets to be pretty bad when you stick your head through a door at a superhero academy only to find yourself at a gymnasium with a couple of bleachers worth of students sitting around. And costumed heroes standing in front of the bleachers. And the doctor who presumably new me looking up from where she tended to a downed person in the middle of the room. Why was that person knocked down? Oh, it probably had something to do with Venus standing there, maskless, resting her head on a Bo staff.

Sometimes, the hand life deals you is a Royal Fuck. It’s like a Full House…of pain.

As if taunting me, huge windows let in plenty of sunlight. That’s like, I don’t know, someone on death row finding out they won the lottery just before being marched to the needle room. Or discovering that a woman you met online is incredibly sexy, but is only interested in seeing you get reamed by her ex-Marine husband nicknamed “The Hammer.” And the fists aren’t the Hammer. The Hammer is his penis.

And while we’re at it, plenty of aliens around wanting to conquer the Earth.

See, it’s shit like this that drove me insane in the first place.

Well, the sight of all those heroes gave me a headache from instantly-supplied data from the ID program, so I cut that off. And while I’d been feeling the insistent fullness of my bladder since waking up, it wasn’t until then that it got really obnoxious. “Woops, this isn’t the bathroom,” I said with a fake laugh before pulling my head back and running back around the corner. I thought I heard someone calling for me to wait, but why would that ever be a good idea?

I heard the door slam open behind me as I passed by the doctor’s office. “Don’t come near me,” I hollered back, “or I’ll pee on you!” Wouldn’t you know it? They didn’t listen. I got to the other side of the hall, which would have given me another pair of directions to run, but for the heroes who appeared. A young man in a bright yellow outfit with black and white racing checkmarks up and down the side skidded to a halt, having left behind a man of shadows and some sort of toilet paper dude. Guy looked like a mummy, but with just the wraps.

Between Ricky Bobby, Noob Saibot, and the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, I didn’t like my chances. Nor did it look too good when Venus, Wildflower, and a man with a bunch of snakes coming out of various parts of his chest blocked the rear area. Time seemed to slow as I faced folks on both side of me. Which, by the way, did not help my bladder situation.

“Et tu, Tigerlily?” I asked Wildflower, hoping to at least make her feel bad for all this. Might as well get some words in before the sticks and stones land on me.

“You need help,” she said, gritting her teeth.

I rolled my eyes. Bad time to take the off people, but what did it matter if I saw them coming to kick my ass anyway? Then a thought occurred to me and forced me to shake my head. “You’ve been listening too much to Venus, huh? That’s how it happens. Always thinking you can make a relationship work if only you can change someone. Funny thing is, at least the aliens sort of got me figured out. I’m merely a weapon; a loaded gun. Just another machine. I thought you knew it, too.”

Venus put a hand on Wildflower’s shoulder. “You’re just a victim. You told me about it. Something bad happened to you, just like it happened to a lot of people. Except you didn’t get over it. It’s your excuse to do whatever you like, because people made you this way. They made you, so you do what you do to them.”

I pointed at her. “I’m a bit more than a victim by now. I’m the Great and Devious Psycho Gecko!”

Infuriatingly enough, Venus kept her voice calm and level. “You don’t even have a name. Whatever anyone did to you in the past, however much you hate it, it still controls your life. You are doing the same with the future. They’re going to kill you, so the only thing you want to do is kill them first.” I wish she’d at least raised her voice. And make less sense. The connections she was making didn’t sit well with me. But I never told Venus the aliens were going to have killed me.

I swept my gaze from Venus to Wildflower. “Well? You got anything to say? Certainly not helping my trust issues here, ya know.”

“I didn’t want to stand by and let you create a self-fulfilling prophecy,” Wildflower said, refusing to meet my eyes.

“See? It’s the honest ones you can’t trust. They always do the stupid and irrational thing. Like saving my life by getting my beat up and locked up. Well, gentlemen? Who wants to be the first to beat the pinata, eh? Just no punching below the belt. Your hand might get stuck.”

A monotone, computerized voice spoke up. “One of my dearest pupils believes that you need a hero you can trust in your life.” The crowd on Venus and Wildflower’s end made way, reluctantly, for a badly crippled man in a motorized chair, who apparently used a hand and his eyes to control both the chair and his ability to talk. I think I’d seen something about this guy before. Victor Mender, aka IT. Researcher who built an armored suit with lasers and rocket launchers for extreme mining jobs, until someone tried to steal it and make a weapon out of it. I know, make a weapon out of the laser-armed power armor? Who would have thought? Dangerous business, mining. Had several designs stolen by Oligarch back before anyone knew what Ollie was really like. Retired after the battle for Master Academy left him crippled. Really surprised they haven’t given this guy a batch of their knockoff regenerative nanites.

“I see everyone’s been making ample use of the designs stolen from me,” I muttered. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t be able to hear his voice raise unless someone turned up his volume knob. Got several angry murmurs from the crowd, though.

“Relax friends. It is his response to being frightened. If we attack he has no choice but to fight back. We are only talking so he must think.”

He might have been correct on that, though I could have made a big deal out of the incorrect pronouns. I know some people don’t like what they see as extreme sensitivity and PC culture of people who don’t like being called the wrong pronoun. But most of the anti-PC types I’ve seen are exactly the sort of guys to get offended if you start calling them “ma’am,” and “girl”. Hilarity ensues.

“Between getting a beatdown from my biggest fanclub here, then getting tossed in a jail cell to await impending execution by alien invaders who killed me once in a future that hasn’t happened yet…yeah, I may be showing a bit more caution lately.”

“You do not need to be the enemy. You are free to go anytime you want to leave. You may use the bathroom before you go.” He smiled at that one. “However if you stay we have a gifted young metahuman who can help cleanse your virus.”

“Not doing much to hide the offer of a brainwashing.” I snorted, checking behind me to see if anyone had gotten bored and left a hole. The speed freak was tapping away on a phone like crazy, but kept looking up periodically.

“I have been convinced to offer you sanctuary. We hope to make you safe.”

The meanings of those sentences didn’t go over my head. My reflexes were too fast. I caught them.

Really put me in a bad spot there. If I took their offer, I get locked up. Yeah, sanctuary. Right. If I didn’t, I’d just get locked up when they found an excuse to not let me go. Sun Tzu 101 there. Give a cornered enemy an escape route; otherwise, they’ll fight like their life depends on it. If they did let me go, I’d walk around as a potential Trojan Horse for the aliens.

I reached back with both hands to the small of my back and grabbed the popsicle sticks, one in each hand. I brought them around, ready, in both hands. Some of the heroes around Mender stepped up just in case, so obviously my reputation with improvised weaponry preceded me.

I closed my eyes, breathing, trying not to think. Thinking would cloud my judgment, by bringing to mind the fact that I’d rather be surrounded by an army of superhumans than an army of non-super criminals. Or by wondering if some of what Venus and Wildflower said might possibly have a hint of truth to it, maybe. But I also thought of my first instinct: don’t trust them. Don’t trust ’em, don’t like ’em, just try to survive the fight with ’em. Except that could be another version of “Serve, obey, pave the way.” It was my first instinct…but I could no longer trust my instincts. Or my mind.

With a sneer that was just as much about grinding my teeth in frustration, I held out my arms and dropped the sticks.

“Ok,” I told them through gritted teeth. “I don’t trust y’all, but I don’t have a choice. Let’s purge some malware up in this bitch.” Fucking hell, I wish I had my armor at that time. I felt so damn naked in front of all of them. Psycho Gecko, needing help. Psycho Gecko, surrendering. Psycho Gecko, some beaten thing. I tilted my head downward, maybe intentionally getting some hair in front of my face, wondering when the attack would come.

It came in the form of a pouncing animal-plant-woman hybrid who purred way more than she should have as she wrapped me in a hug right there for everyone to see. Hurt and embarrassed, I interrupted her little cuddle puddle purr session by telling her, “You don’t have to pretend anymore. Protect you, my ass. Congratulations on fooling me. You’re an excellent spy.”

She pulled away from the hug, suddenly losing much of her enthusiasm and smile.

“Come on, let’s show our new guest to some quarters. We should have one to spare after all the work the tanks have been doing since they got here.” Venus said, seemingly breaking up the entire meeting there.

There’s been a certain order of priority seen in many of the greats. Tony Montana once said that you get the money, then the power, then the woman. Vegeta, the Prince of all three and a half Saiyans, believed in immortality first, then the bitches. First I conquer my brain, then the aliens, and then maybe I’ll worry about getting laid again.

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Aliens Eunt Domus 3

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Stupid, stupid, stupid.

I counted too much on people being bored and forgot something really simple. See, this was something of an event, but you have to remember that by now it’s been more than a week that the aliens have been around. Not a lot of time, but there’s a limit to how many days most news crews want to sit around and point a camera at a fuzzy-looking spaceship.

And that’s not even counting government assets. Pick a government, any government, so long as they have satellites. I’d say I allowed my mortality-driven expediency to push me into acting irrationally. I’d say it, but there’s so much wrong with that sentence, starting with the assumption that my actions are normally rational. The only way I can explain it is that I acted stupid because…shit…because I’m afraid. They already killed me once in the future. That’s the way things are supposed to go. And now that I think about it, the late Fortune Cookie’s advice that I just be myself kinda sucks. I was probably being myself in the future where I died, after all. I probably wouldn’t have been Norma or this sneaky cloak-and-dagger fucker I’ve been. I’m naturally a different sort of sneaky. It’s the difference between knifing someone in the back undetected, and smuggling a nuclear bomb into the middle of a city.

I’m the nuke, preferably sent from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure. Or at least that’s what I am today, along with royally fucked.

I could talk a lot about having planned things to happen this way, or point out that no one can focus on security camera footage for anywhere near the length of time to catch everything, but there’s still viral footage out there. It doesn’t show Psycho Gecko doing anything. It doesn’t show my cover at the UN. But it shows Mr. Old Chinese Dude walking around, kneeling by the shuttles goo skirt, putting something on the sides, and tossing something up top.

Maybe the various governments with spy satellites would have stayed quiet, just to see what was going on, except everything got exposed to the public. The fucking public. The ignorant bunch of jackasses that distrusts every jackass they themselves put into office. The sort that thinks governments can’t be trusted to regulate food safety, but have no problem if they want to spend money on building lots of nukes.

Back to nukes again. Aren’t I in a glowing mood today?

So, anyway, the bomb’s still not done, but everyone knows something’s up. The immediate likely response? Temporary recall of the ambassador and a tightening of security, with future meetings set in a different locale, one that favors the aggrieved party. But just because one has to dip one’s toe into the waters of conventional sanity doesn’t mean I should let it sweep me away.

As quickly as possible, I set Moai up with a plane trip out of town and a nice big bag of luggage, then some very strict instructions for what to do with his life after he got off. It was important. I had to look after the most important person in my life, after all.

I also advised Crash to let everyone in the company know things may get difficult for awhile, except for Carl. I took him aside and let him know that, “Carl, my man, it’s about time you used up as much of your paid time off as you can. In fact, take extra. It’s just a good time to get away.”

He fidgeted in the fancy suit he now wore, which may well have been his source of discomfort if not for the fact that I was warning him to run. “Boss, what’s going to happen?”

I just chuckled and pulled him into a hug before whispering. “Hell is empty, and all the demons are here.”

He was too shocked to even try a grope like Juanito from Isla Tropica did. I drew the line at licking his ear, though. I don’t know where that ear’s been.

As for Technolutionary, my partner in crime hellbent on turning people into my species…well, fuck him. He can wait. Same for Venus. Same for Beetrice. Much as I hate to say it, same for Wildflower, too. Now, as much as I know that the key to a good relationship is communication, I also knew she was still at least a little bit of a hero. So all I did was tease her on my way out.

“Have fun on patrol, puttytat?” I asked, showing off how good I looked in a nice women’s business outfit.

After collecting her jaw off the floor, my heavily-hybridized honey answered with. “I stopped a mugger.”

I rolled my eyes. “Psh, stopping some poor mugger who’s just trying to put dinner on the table. Why can’t you go after some big threat, like a bank robber or something?” I stuck out my tongue at her playfully. I’d go into more depth about our goodbye, but I much prefer to discuss how the world screws me.

That implies quite a bit of finality to my leaving Double Cross Tower, doesn’t it? I suppose it all does. But, really, I hoped to survive my latest trip to the United Nations. I had to leave behind any weapons with the advanced screening procedures, but I managed to keep all my body parts and a pen. And the pen is mightier than the sword, or so says a bunch of people moping around without any swords, staring at their pens instead. Sigh. Do I have a sword yet? Nope, still just a fucking pen. At least the pen is mightier than the sword. Damn sword probably would have been too heavy anyway. Sigh.

But I got through perfectly fine, as I said. It all depends on where you position various pieces of metal. Just like homicide. Or sex.

Once in, I knew I needed to find the alien diplomatic dude with haste, a feat I thought I pulled off when I found an inordinately-sized crowd of newspeople running through the halls. I guess I could have gotten in that way instead of playing on El Presidente’s favors. Cameras are great for bludgeoning things to death. Especially, as I found out the one time I tried camping, witches. Bitch witch should have laid off the creepy stick figures.

Back in the UN’s main building, I strolled casually as if I had a purpose. And that purpose was simple: find the alien ambassador. The job, if I had to call it anything, was a Lee Harvey Oswald, aka a John Wilkes Booth. To translate that from hitman lingo, that’s a kill with significant risk to the killer. They’re expected to be arrested and/or killed in the process, due to the target’s high profile and the inability to completely subvert their security measures. Because I knew there were security suits around, and they were good enough not to look like suits. And it wasn’t that easy just finding things anymore. My recon mission should have involved some useful recon. They’d remodeled since the last time I stopped in. My visits tend to do that.

So y’all are probably wondering: why kill this guy after I made such a big deal about being sneaky before? Because it would start a war. It’s going to happen anyway, but at least I can make it happen on my terms. If you can’t completely stop an enemy’s plan, you can at least attempt to throw it off.

I had to reach out mentally and sense for open connections. They can have all the security they want, but an unsecured cell phone is still a sneaky way in. And after wandering all over the place, I finally heard something promising. Korean being spoken back and forth, with one voice sounding like an electronic crackle. Like it landed on one of those snowy channels years back. So either one of North Korea’s guys was playing with his videogame girlfriend, or someone inhuman was talking to someone Korean. Did y’all know the Secretary General of the United Nations is Korean?

Now you know, and knowing is half the battle. Yoooooo, Cobra!

Listening in like that, I had their location. It sounded like a small room, something my translator program confirmed when it caught up with giving me Korean. Entirely different lineage of languages compared to pretty much anything Western.

“What are you doing to us?” cried the Korean human.

The crackly voice answered, “I was ordered. ‘Induce communication cortex.’ They spoke openly of this. Many of my people are tired of fighting. They accept our loss in our civil war. I must lead them to the true way. I am one of the many who knows this. You die here and by your deception force a war we will swiftly win.”

I overheard a sudden gasp that was cut off, followed by sounds of a struggle.

The Korean must not have been the one getting choked out. Maybe he’d live long enough for me to kill him. “What would war achieve for you, besides useless death?”

“Useful lives. Our victory will be easy. Few will die, most will live. We gain an army seven billion strong. Your people will be sacrificed for our utopia.”

That sounded familiar, on several levels. I rounded a corner and found one of the fluid guards standing at the door. I stopped and looked it in its black, featureless face. It looked like it had ridges, whatever the being was encased in. I smiled and reached up to mess around with the pen holding up my hair. “Hey, you’re one of those aliens, aren’t you? I was just curious about something.” I made a show of looking down over the thing’s body, which looked neither muscular nor boobtastic.

It didn’t react to me at all, so I clicked the pen and jabbed its point into the thing’s throat. Its neck seemingly deflated as a black liquid spurted out. Pushing with both hands, I tore it through the material, which seemed a little tougher than skin. No bones in it, either. Just lots of that black gunk. Its entire head flattened out.

Didn’t seem to be that tough, at first. Then the goo stopped pouring out. Instead, it twisted in midair and wrapped around my head, slamming me back against the opposite wall hard enough to drive the air out of me. While some of it got into my mouth and nose, it didn’t push in. It just knocked me back against the wall again. I tried swiping a hand through the goop, then an arm, then both arms. I couldn’t see very well, but flailing was better than doing nothing. The goo fell away momentarily as I felt more force against my arms. I ducked then and stopped blocking, then threw myself against its body where it still stood, looking a little emptier than before. I stabbed away, again and again, while hacking up black gunk. That is, while spitting and vomitting. Not easy to stab someone while puking. It’s an acquired skill.

I didn’t think I was getting anywhere, except in the middle of a mess of more goo as it wrapped around my chest and began to squeeze. “Not gonna lie..” I squeezed out, using precious air. “You’re being a real dick right now. And a lot harder to kill than I thought.” You can kill everything living, but they didn’t seem to have anything living in the suits. Like fighting water. Worse, water with a mind, like fucking nanites. Nanites in a humanoid suit. Rage filled me at not having considered it, coupling with the mounting fear and pain to create a threesome simultaneous orgasm of adrenaline. My pen hand moved like a blur and I swiped through the suit with the blackened zirconium nails of my free hand. I just hoped I could somehow destabilize the entire thing.

And then I did. It happened when I thought I’d torn through the back of the suit because my pen hit something a little tougher. When it didn’t go through, I brought my claws to meet what I figured was the wall. Instead of hitting the wall, my hand closed on some rounded thing. I squeezed, digging my nails in. Squeezing this thing as bad as this thing as squeezing me. Now serving: heavily tenderized ribs. Probably broken.

One good squeeze later and I could breath a little more easily while standing in a puddle of the same goop that drained out of the collapsing encounter suit. Feeling like it still had a grip on me, I slunk back against the opposite wall and tried to suck down some glorious air. Ah, nitrogen. The lifeblood of the human body. The other gases might disagree, but that level of pettiness is a good example of the sort of antics you can expect among low-class gases. The noble gases never act that way. ‘Tis an elemental form of aristocracy.

I’d gotten lucky with that control sphere thing. Dumb luck can be an incredible asset when your ass is on the line, but it’s nothing to rely on. At least I now knew these things had some sort of thing in them I could break to defeat them. Now to hope I don’t have to rely on dumb luck any more.

As if in answer to my desire to no longer be lucky, the door chose that time to open, propelled as it was by the hand of the other bodyguard as it led the way for the exiting diplomat himself.

He looked between the rapidly-spreading black puddle, shredded bodysuit, and gunk-covered me, and asked me, “What has happened here?” in Korean.

“I’m Japanese,” I answered in Spanish.

His bright blue eyes bored into me, like something dull that penetrates stuff. A Great Gatsby dildo, maybe. Sorry, book lovers, but I don’t read it aloud and the opening paragraph still gives me dry mouth.

“You,” the human-looking alien began, this time in English, “Obey. You serve. You pave the way.”

“Fuck you,” I told him, wondering why what he said sounded so damn familiar.

“Stand up.”

I stood.

Fuck.

“Walk with us while we depart. My guard and I are leaving, but you stay. Thank you for killing this one. It lacked commitment to our cause. Kill anyone who attempts to stop me leaving.” He and the other guard turned and began to walk. Without meaning to, I followed, and followed quickly despite my injuries.

“I never came here to help you out.”

He didn’t respond.

“I only came to spread the word. Have you heard the Good News? You can go fuck yourself!” I tried to jump at him and bury something sharp in his neck. And by tried, I mean I gave the order and my legs wobbled. I fell against the wall.

He glanced back. “A shame you haven’t fully embraced cybernetics. You are lacking.” And with that, they walked off and left me. I still followed, hoping I did so more out of a desire to kill him than save him.

Staggering on like that, I figured out where I heard his words before. I’d have figured it out sooner, but it wasn’t the entire phrase. “Obey. Serve. Give in. Surrender. Pave the way. “ Not even a year ago, I fought my way up the side of a Romanian mountain, working my way through vampires, werewolves, and temporal fluctuations, and heard that message embedded in a virus that attacked me when I temporarily appeared in the future. A future I was almost up to, possibly. Maybe. I hope not.

I thought I’d purged it. Woops.

So I followed, my biological parts wanting to kill that guy, while my artificial ones (excepting the boobs, which are completely natural), wanted to serve, obey, and pave the way. After five of the longest minutes on earth, I hit sunlight. Ugh, just what I needed. I was already hurt, but the daytime demonstone of light assaulted my eyes as well. At least until I spotted some general or something jogging toward the diplomat and guard as they walked across the marble walkway and grassy lawn toward the helipad, ignoring both the VIP entrance and the lobby area I’d screwed around with last time.

“Wait! Please stay, we can work this argh!” he fell with a scream, a laser hole burnt through the back of his skull. I know. I saw it happen. It was my eye that shot the laser. I could almost imagine the alien bastard smirking at that, too.

“She killed General Wilhelm!” someone yelled. Wonderful. I saw guns appearing in hands all over the place. Even a janitor, whose presence mopping outside spoke wonders for my powers of deduction on my way in earlier. A pair of dress-uniform officers stopped by the fallen general to check his vital signs, but a laser-cut hole through the skull and brain doesn’t generally have a favorable prognosis.

In the process of fulfilling the literal order given to me, I’d managed to not only draw attention away from the escaping alien invaders, but had attracted a wide caliber of pissed-off people with guns. And I still felt compelled to follow.

To think, me without my armor. I made that big deal about dumb luck earlier, but there I was, surrounded by enough guns and government agents to make an NRA member wet their pants with piss and jizz. Sure would be a good time not to rely on dumb luck.

I looked up, ignoring the sight of the aliens casually jumping the helipad’s protective wall, looking. Then I smiled, because while I clearly wasn’t lucky, I also wasn’t about to be dumb.

I held up my hands, dropping my goo-stained pen. “Everyone, wait! I have something I need to get out before we go any further, but I promise I’ll go without a fight.”

I squeezed my fists shut and bent over. “Hnnnnng! Ung! Hnn!” Over the sounds of my straining, I heard someone cough and someone else stifle a chuckle. I spared a glance to see some of them had lowered their guns, but fewer than I’d have hoped for. Some people really need a sense of humor. I mean, if I looked as stupid as they did, I’d have had to learn to laugh by then in my life.

“Lay flat on the ground and put your hands on your head!” a voice boomed. No thanks. I’ve followed enough orders today. The alien ship’s loud liftoff and quick flight just made me less inclined to follow anymore, including the one given to me by the ambassador.

I held up a finger. “Ooooooooooone second, I’m trying to…hold on, I think I got a good one.” I waggled the finger. “Someone come pull this! Ah, hell, nevermind.” I grabbed my finger and gave it a tug. Then Moai and his luggage hit the lawn and threw up a dust storm.

That bought time. The guards refused to open up on anything for fear of hitting the wrong anything, so the dust and the remains of Moai’s parachute provided great cover. They probably wished they hadn’t been so cautious when I stepped out a little straighter, regenerative nanites flooring it to my ribs to give them a clean bill of health. I rubbed my wrists, glad to be in the armor I’d sent with Moai as his luggage. “Thank you, Moai,” I told the magically-animate statue minion who hauled himself out of a small crater to stand beside me facing the numerous guards who blocked my escape. A few of them had tossed aside their guns in favor of various glowing body parts. Their own, sadly. I looked them over and laughed. “Gentlemen, I promised I’d leave without a fight. I don’t think this will be much of one at all.”

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Aliens Eunt Domus 2

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I have a new look. Wildflower approves. Venus probably wouldn’t, but I didn’t tell her. Fuck her. To quote a horrible movie, “Everybody betrayed me; I’m fed up with this world! Oh hi Mark.” That last sentence isn’t relevant, unless I count all the people I’m fooling as marks.

It’d be difficult for most people to connect “Psycho Gecko” with “Woman.” As hard as such a thought must be for all of y’all, dear readers, they’re completely unlikely to peg me as some Japanese Peruvian assistant to the ambassador of Isla Tropica. Quick bit of international knowledge, our version of Peru has had a lot of Japanese immigrants. Probably confuses the hell out of people who don’t understand much about South America. So, now I look Japanese and speak Spanish. You won’t believe how many American politicians want to put me in a camp.

With my translator program working for every language except Australian, I should be able to blend in. Especially after El Presidente forced the ambassador, Juanito Perez. All it took was a letter from El Presidente himself and the sycophantic former radio DJ welcomed me with open arms. Literally. Might have been the part where I look like a Japanese woman. “I am so happy El Presidente sent you to me!” he yelled while squeezing my ass. “We should talk over dinner. Do you exercise?”

If I’d thought of it, just namedropping El Presidente would have gotten my foot in the door. I’d forgotten about this guy. Caught his program a few times back in the day. Major ass-kisser, but the funny kind. El Presidente must not have shared my fondness for the program. I’m betting it was either getting sent to Empyreal City, or getting a special delivery from the secret police detail hidden in the back of Isla Pizza. Could have done without his hand on my ass. I dropped my hand in our little hug, seemingly getting my fingers right up between his cheeks. “I work very hard on my body, but the plastic surgeons did so much more. Mmm, nice ass. You like chicks with dicks?”

Juanito started coughing and backed off. “Sorry, I am not well right now. You should eat without me until I feel better. Please collect your credentials from the front desk. Welcome to the Isla Tropica United Nations Embassy.”

Aha! Credentials! All you need trespass legitimately. After that, I just had to sneak past metal detectors and patdowns to get into the UN compound itself. Easy enough for me. The extra patting had more to do with me smuggling in extra ass.

Even though I was in, I couldn’t just kill the teenaged tattooed alien ambassador from Beverly Hills. The D-Bomb isn’t ready yet, and they’d lock everything down tight if I gut him like a horny coed. Plus, I didn’t want to get up close and personal with his bodyguards without my armor. Nah, this time I snuck in for recon. Last time I’d been by, I was stopping a hero’s attempt to save the world using a love- and lust-inducing drug called Sexahol. Looking back, I’m jealous I didn’t think of doing something similar to this place. I imagine things were real awkward around here afterward, what with everyone “laying the foundation for peace in the Middle East” or however they wanted to phrase it. I think that phrase usually referred to them all jerking off before that day, anyway.

I wandered around, though it’s unfair to call it that. I strode with a purpose. That’s the secret to being somewhere you’re not supposed to be when people have to see you: act like you belong there. Just like one of the best ways to lie is to believe the lie, and the best way to cook a whole chicken involves shoving a lemon up its ass. But you better remember to use the oil. It gets pretty rough without the oil, but the same can be said of most dealings with other organisms.

Like this guard who tried to stop me heading out to the helipad where the alien shuttle parked. Since landing, construction crews had added to the wall that protected the landing pad from ground fire. There wasn’t much they could do to protect the entire thing in a city full of skyscrapers, though. Still, I wanted to get close enough to touch it, and that meant getting past a guard stationed in a building that combined a waiting area with a refueling station. “Ma’am, I’m afraid I can’t let you through here,” said the ceremonially-dressed…something. Marine? Army? He had one of those bolt-action rifles they like to use for ceremonial duty, too.

I batted my eyes at him and told him in my new Spanish accent, “I can not squeeze through? If only I’d brought my oil.” I leaned in close to him. “It gets rough without the oil.”

If I’d been standing any closer, I’d probably have felt him stand at full attention, wink wink. As close as I was, I could popped out the fangs I’d added and maybe torn into his throat. Unfortunately, that’d ruin my cover and my dressy little suit. A Gecko’s got to keep any skirt I look good in, n’awmean? So instead, I whispered, “Meet me in the storage closet by the bathrooms in two, big boy?” I winked as I departed, heading down to the section where a storage closet door stood across from the pair of men’s and women’s bathrooms. I guess they didn’t expect to host too many aliens from the binary choice of bathrooms. Like those all-black bodyguards that look like they got water sloshing around in them. The thought of taking a leak might be offensive to fluid-based lifeforms. They might take paper towels and toilet paper as a threat. Not to mention the damn hand dryers.

The eager soldier marched smartly along right on schedule, driven by either duty to investigate or dick to wet. I heard him turning the lock on the door and then throw it open. That’s when I stepped out of the women’s room behind him and kicked him in. He fell face first into some shelves. I grabbed the door and swung it closed behind me as I jumped in on his back and went for the sleeper hold.

A few seconds later, I stepped out of the closet and quickly shut the door behind me, then set about straightening my blouse. “Whew, good thing he wasn’t gay…” I muttered to myself, then noticed a man in a suit exiting the bathroom. I raised an eyebrow and glared at him. He smiled to himself and headed toward the lobby. I had a helipad to inspect, and fast. Since I’d neglected to bring anything like cocaine or liquor with me, I couldn’t sprinkle that around to discredit the guy. I don’t just carry random drugs on me. Weapons, sure. Other people’s stolen wallets, definitely. But not drugs.

Just say no to drugs, kids. Then knife the dealer and steal his cash. What’s he going to do, call the cops on you?

And since I didn’t want to draw the kind of heat that a murder investigation can bring up when aliens suddenly show up, I had to look at it really, really quickly. I slipped into the bathroom long enough to pull what I’d swear to anyone who saw was a paperweight, but what was really one of the mobile projection disks just like I put on a belt for Moai. And just like I used to use for distractions before I started destroying all my stuff for like three years straight. So I threw together another of the disks just for this occasion, as well as a couple of bugs.

Suddenly, I looked like an older, dignified Chinese man. It’d be pretty hard for anyone watching the cameras to justify mistaking a woman of Japanese descent with a Chinese man, no matter how difficult they find it to tell Asians apart. Looking like that, I headed out to get a glimpse of the alien shuttle.

Whether the distortion was added in the broadcast or due to some device inside the ship, it no longer looked all fuzzy around the edges. Before, colors and lines sort of blended together, like how things look when someone is near-sighted. Now, I could see it looked like, how do I put it, a brick or an iron. Kind of a Twinkie shape, I just realized. Oblong, with a smooth, rounded top, perhaps the only concession to aerodynamics. It wasn’t all, smooth, though.There were portions sticking off the sides, like people just kept building a tiny portion out here and there. Its base looked as uniformly flat as an iron, which is what led me to my initial description of it, except for a tiny bit of it bulged out, like it had flattened something. It was examining that that led me to realize the base was more like some sort of goo or fluid that conformed to whatever surface it landed on.

I could work with that kind of exterior. I went around to one of the ends of the thing and dropped down, pulling out one of my little spies. Working on short notice, these things had some serious flaws. First, they used some old-fashioned radio to communicate. For what I needed and how small I needed it, that was the best I could do in a hurry. Of course, it might be better that way. Something more sophisticated, like interdimensional transmissions, might be more readily detected by an advanced species. Radio’s probably so obsolete to them as to be ignored.

Another problem was that I went with magnets to attach them. It might be absolutely useless with how they composed the ship, but I couldn’t drill them in or bring a hammer and start nailing them. Not unless my cover on being discovered was to basically recreate some sort of ET porn scenario. “Oh, hey there Mr. Alien. Me? I’m here to do some nailing.” Yeah, so that wasn’t happening.

When it came to data storage, I actually had to go more modern than I initially wanted. Believe it or not, tapes can store a shitload of data in a relatively compact form. You’d be surprised. But magnets were the problem there, especially with everything else they could be exposed to in space. Not that sending a tiny compact disk into space without the protection of atmosphere is any better, but it’ll have to do with what I put it in. Which is essentially a clear sleave of nanomaterials meant to regulate temperatures and blend in about as well as something clear can.

No wonder my first hiding spot involved shoving one into the landing goo. It took a bit of effort, but it slowly deformed around the tiny disk, accepted it, and then mostly filled back out. Next, I slipped a couple against one of those extra things on the outside. There was one portion where something stuck out to form three parallel extensions of about half a foot. That got one. Another looked like someone stuck a block lower down on one side as an afterthought. I stuck one on the underside of that. The last one, I tossed up on top of the ship, where it hopefully landed out of most people’s sight.

I had a couple more with me, but I wasn’t sure on taking the last gamble. See, the door was still open, if you could call it a door. It looked like a hole in the exterior of one side, meant for a short person. I didn’t realize that on the news, but then I couldn’t see the clear lines of the thing then. It was very tempting to run in there, spy around, and drop some more bugs.

But. Yeah, I like big Buts, and I cannot lie.

But, they’d left the door open. Which would make it absurdly easy to go in. And this is the middle of Empyreal City, around some of the least scrupulous people on earth. I mean the politicians, of course, but I wouldn’t put it past a carjacker to try either. And I have trouble believing that any spacefaring civilization would be so naive as to leave the door of their ride unlocked and open. Unless someone stuck their head in and got eaten by a pet Shoggoth or Mi-Go or some crap like that.

I’m a sexually active, mean, drinking asshole in the body of a woman. I’m staying away from the alien-equivalent of building an Elm Street at Camp Crystal Lake, solving an ancient puzzle box, saying “Candyman” five times in front of a mirror, then taking a nap after a tiring day of following a really tall old guy who steals bodies from the local cemetery.

Fate doesn’t like to be tempted. I should know. I’m usually the one who goes in and does Fate’s dirty work. So I got out of there that time and decided to see what Fate would feed my bugs, if anything, before I got my bomb up and working.

I took it as a good sign when Beetrice, the giant bee woman who lives in my basement, called me down to have a milkshake party with her and the rest of the hive, which was briefly interrupted when a number of young graffiti artists were chased off by security while trying to paint on the front of my building.

So at least our milkshakes brought all the boys to the yard.

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Aliens Eunt Domus 1

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Gotta build. Gotta build. Such invasion. Much build. Wow.

After a few days working with barely any sleep, I realized I couldn’t remember the date or what I’d put together so far. I tried to check over what I’d assembled, but I couldn’t go through that before my brain got kinda numb. And since I need brain for smart making, I threw myself into bed. Pretty easy to tell I’ve been out of it when I didn’t realize there was another person in there. Wildflower ran her nails over my back and kissed the back of my head, but otherwise didn’t try to disturb me. See? That’s how you know you have a relationship based on being a strong alpha male protector. It’d be enough to make me scratch my balls, if I still had them.

I actually muttered something about that while I was fading. “Mfup wimmy.”

She patted me on the head and left, not even answering my real question, “Why the fuck are you with me?”

Ah well. She’s got amnesia. How would she be able to remember what a good girlfriend is like? Besides, she gets to spend time in a penthouse with someone who throws money around like it didn’t make her dinner well enough, who will murder anyone who wrongs you. I suppose there are advantages to this scenario. But I only thought about those after a good rest and the shoving of much food into my meal hole. Just a tip, dear readers, never confuse your meal hole with any of your other holes. While the meal hole does have some uses that cross over with other bodily holes, this is not to be relied on. Misuse of the meal hole can lead to symptoms such as: dry mouth, oral herpes, drool-covered telephones, and a tendency to talk a lot of shit. For further hole-related knowledge, refer to the classic 1950s educational film “Your Body Holes And You”.

After that, I began to feel a bit more, well, fuck it; can’t say “sane.”

So, let’s recap: while causing mischief around the world, a clairvoyant named Fortune Cookie recruited me to help her on a mission to save the world from being frozen in time, which caused various temporal distortions the closer someone got to the area it was all mean to happen in. In one of these distortions, I saw the earth was dealing with an alien invasion and that I was reported to have been killed in it. So after saving the world, I determined I needed to prepare for the alien invasion to protect my ass. I tried to steal the world’s biggest telescope, but failed and blew it up. I did steal the building capable of freezing time, but failed to get it fixed and then was nearly blown up. I worked as part of a team of villains, but blew up the leader and used it to create a villain social network to, theoretically, help organize and fight off an invasion. I also prevented the blowing up of the heroes, too. I created a company, but that has yet to explode. Fingers crossed, there’s still time!

All that was so last year, though. This year, I attack Washington D.C., impersonated a sitting U.S. Senator, impersonated the President of the United States, broke someone out of prison, defaced various monuments, partially blew up a submarine, blackmailed some Congressmen, bribed some bureaucrats, kidnapped someone, performed illegal human experiments, and burned down a house. This last month’s been mostly a blur, but I may be an accessory to tampering with evidence, and a bit of light treason. Not a very productive time for me.

And I did it all to prepare for the shit storm that now hangs over the earth. Well, hangs would be a strong word. More like chilling. They’re chilling near earth. I can still see the image in my head, clear as day, thanks to my brain’s wifi connection. Not that clear, actually. They’re using something to disrupt any clear views of their flotilla. Or maybe it’s a fleet. To me, a flotilla indicates a lot of floating things. Either way, the exact numbers and conditions are unknown. Could be a bunch of miniature Death Stars, could be space winnebagos. They stopped near the moon, though.

Everyone’s supposed to avoid spying on them until the diplomats have their say. After previous First Contacts led to all sorts of shenanigans, including a Star Trek movie, it was decided that alien diplomats should probably head to the United Nations first. From what I gather, they didn’t bother trying to inform the small ship that detached from the fleet until it spent a day in near Earth orbit. Probably infighting. They’re all nice and polite about that sort of thing in public. Deliberations on how to proceed, they call it. In reality, it’s the American President saying “Fuck you, the UN is in our territory, so get them down here!” But with more tact. That’s one of the great thing about having to speak through interpreters: you can cuss up a storm and let the translators work it out. So, in the end, broadcast a bunch of radio messages up at the ship telling them where to land in various languages, only stopping once the ship began to descend. Good thing. They might have to resort to the universal languages of math and interpretive dance.

That’s one way to force First Contact. Annoy the aliens until they show up and have to speak to you. Oh my science. That explains so much about the existence of reality TV.

The news has been obsessed. It’s not every day that Earth deals with aliens. It’s like a royal wedding or something, though I’m sure the other aliens around are busy snorting derisively at the newbies getting all the attention. But I don’t think many of those types brought a fleet with them, especially not one that looks like a blurry photo of Bigfoot. Completely fictional, by the way. I felt I needed to point that out.

If anything, the caution exhibited by the aliens led to some in the news deride Man-Opener for his alarmism. Even if he knew they were really there, they reasoned, he clearly used it for an excuse to do whatever he wanted. Plenty of others did the same thing. Some people quit their jobs to party. Others fled to survivalist communes. There’s even a few preachers advising their followers to give up their worldly possessions in anticipation of the coming Rapture. Then again, they say that about any major event. That’s what happens when you decide everything is a prophetic sign the same way other people decide any toy is a sex toy.

I tried to watch the ship’s first descent on the news, along with everybody else, but the distortion effect held and kept me from making out any hard edges. It was about the size of a doubledecker bus, I could tell that much. I couldn’t give an estimate on the speed, but it sounded pretty loud. That, or the boom operators got right up its ass. Like that was going to happen. They practically locked down all traffic in the city to keep absolutely everyone away from the United Nations.

I should have been there. If I had been, maybe I could have gotten a good look at what was going on.

While I thought this, Wildflower pounced on the bed next to me. I caught it out of the corner of my eye, so I didn’t really startle at the surprise. I just blinked and shut off the feed in my head. She grinned as she watched me turn to look at her. “You’re weird like that.”

I raised an eyebrow.

“Nothing surprises you. It’s like you have eyes in the back of your head.”

I shrugged. “That’s not too fair to say. People catch me with my pants down all the time, sometimes metaphorically.”

She laughed at that, showing a lot of teeth before bringing her hand up in front of her mouth to hide her unusual teeth.

“Don’t you ever spend any time at that school you’re supposed to be going to?” I asked. Then I started checking for any urgent notices. “Don’t tell me they decided to relocate to my building. I wouldn’t put it past someone to try…” Nope, nothing there. Lots of people asking for time off work all of a sudden, though our looting and theft revenues are spiking like vampire dick at a blood bank. It got so bad, my car had to activate its antitheft measures. The bad thing about those things is the cleanup. Most car washes are ill-equipped to remove all the blood and viscera from the deepest nooks and crannies. You know how annoying it is to turn on the windshield wipers and spot a tooth still lodged in them months after you last ran someone down? Ugh.

Back with Wildflower, she shook her head. “Venus had to go back to meet with the main Academy. We’ve been wondering if they’ll send more alumni here now that this is all going on. Hey, want to watch it with me?”

I jumped up. “To the viewing machine!”

Wildflower grabbed the remote off the nightstand and pushed it, causing a TV to lower from the ceiling on a mechanical arm that angled it down at us. It didn’t matter what channel we went to. Most found some excuse or another to cut into their regularly-scheduled programming to show this little happening. We were on ESPN, for some reason, and this bar down at the bottom read, “Alien Arrival: Have The Harlem Globetrotters Come Home?”

We got out first glimpse of the diplomat. He stepped out wearing a robe that hung loosely around him. It appeared to be a he, anyway, because it appeared to be human teenager. He was pale, with a slightly sheen to his skin, like he’d been coated with something mostly transparent. His severely short hair was so blond that his eyebrows looked funny above his bright blue eyes. Somehow, they had a human, or something that looked very close to a human. Perhaps it was the best surgery possible to transform one of their own into a humanoid on the fly. The better to address us.

A pair of bodyguards moved out behind this kid they picked to represent them. They weren’t in robes, but in suits that would be skintight on most people. They were a little taller and thinner than the average person, though. While I first assumed they were robots, there was something about the way they moved. It’s like they were full of fluid that made their movements flow. It’s hard to describe, but clearly unnatural. It’s like the leg became less full in order to lift up, then grew slightly bulkier on its way down. Maybe I read too much into it. Maybe I need to perform a little alien autopsy.

Blondie looked out over the crowd and, as if it was an afterthought, smiled a wide, toothy grin. Like he just remembered he needed to smile and put it on all at once, instead of going into it gradually. After that, someone stepped up to lead him and his guards into the United Nations itself.

“Gecko, have you ever read about Oedipus?” Wildflower asked me as we watched. ESPN’s headline bar changed to “Aliens: Do They Ball?”

“A little bit. Didn’t have an Oedipal Complex, I know that one.”

“Maybe what you saw could lead you to create a self-fulfilling prophecy. You’re thinking of doing something. You do this thing with your eyes when you’re looking at things you want to fight. In the future you saw, do you know if you did something that caused them to kill you?”

“I don’t. But I seriously doubt they’re here for peaceful reasons. It’s always just a matter of time.”

I knew what she was worried about. But at the same time, I suspected that Technolutionary, Moai, and I could get in there, disable that trio, smuggle the Dimension Bomb aboard that craft, and blow the entire fleet out of the sky before anyone was the wiser.

I even had an idea on how to get in. I fired off an email to the secure address of El Presidente, the “democratically elected” leader of the Caribbean archipelago island nation of Isla Tropica. He’s not afraid to work with someone like myself, and the islands are a fun place to hang out. To him, the email read as coming from Axolotl Xolotl, which is what Spanish-speakers often call me. “Does your ambassador to the United Nations have any openings on his staff? I have a perfect candidate for any job. Wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more, say no more.”

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