Category Archives: Judgment Day

Citizens of Ricca. The Claw is not the law. I am the law.

Judgment Day: The Vigilante Chronicles

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After getting stood up a couple of times, I decided the time was right to take care of some business that needed doing. It’s summer in the Northern Hemisphere, which means a lot of people are getting pissed off at the heat and needing someone to take it out on.

Such was the case with Mister Toy. He’s an older guy, a throwback who used to specialize in crimes using toys. He’s a second-generation villain. His father made remote control toys. Mister Toy somehow found a way to mentally control toys, but he never used it for anything giant. He’s got a son in the business, too. Doctor Digital or something like that. He does freaky things with videogames and apps.

Now, Mister Toy is mostly retired. He’s old and he’s living on whatever he squirreled away. He either likes supplementing his income or staying busy. I guess he can’t make and sell toy soldiers with working rifles like his dad. So he went and robbed a credit union, like you do. There was some sort of toys for charity thing, and he slipped a bunch of his in there, along with some stuff he left in a safe deposit box. One night, the toys get up, blow the vault, and make off with cash and the contents of a few boxes.

A vigilante mob formed, but there wasn’t much they could do. Mister Toy didn’t live in that community. He didn’t have anybody helping him on the inside, but they insisted on standing around with guns while people went in. I imagine that alone caused a lot of problems for the bank, and there was something of a stand-off with the police.

That seemed to be the end of it, until Doctor Digital, Mister Toy’s son, was ambushed while arriving home one evening. Doctor Digital isn’t really the hand-to-hand type, so he got his ass beat. The people who did it dropped him off at the police station, handcuffed, with a note tied around his neck saying he’s Doctor Digital. That happened the other day. The police have questioned him, even did a search of his house, but turned up no more evidence than the word of a bunch of anonymous assailants. Realistically, they could have beat up anyone and left them there, so it doesn’t do much to him legally.

When he talked with his dad, Doc Digital revealed that they came after him because of what Mister Toy did. It was a small gang of five or six pissed-off guys who just never let it go even though the robbery happened back in December. “They said they were fed up. They said somebody needed to do something about all the filth in their country. They decided they would if no one else would,” Mister Toy had written in his statement about the incident.

VillaiNet’s reaction might have been better if they’d worn masks and pretended to be heroes while doing it. The news about Doctor Digital’s alleged identity wasn’t out at that point, though, so they decided not to engage my services at that time. Instead, some of the oldtimers who had kids in the business got together to make those guys their pet project. Cars were blown up or vandalized, houses were robbed, and at least one vigilante’s place of work was defaced with life-sized replicas of the vigilante’s flaccid penis.

It was a measured response. The vigilantes didn’t know how good they had it. They escalated it by planting evidence about Doctor Digital and kids. They took his wife, too, and said she could go free if he confesses and pleads guilty.

Less than a day later, I get the call. Less than a day after that, I arrived on the edge of their nowhere community in the wasteland that is Utah. I had the benefit of loads of intel on them. The various golden oldies who had been involved knew where these guys lived and worked if they still had jobs. I had the details on where they hung out and where they fucked their mistresses. They looked into it and confirmed there were five of the guys altogether.

Three of them had a side business selling censored DVDs. Utah is Mormon country. These people fought multiple wars with the United States over their religious beliefs, so it’s no surprise they’d pay people to turn Scarface into a short film about a Cuban immigrant who comes to America, gets hooked on sugar, and dies of diabetes one night after snorting an entire pile. One of them was the cock replica guy, so he’s new to the censorship business.

They received a knock on their door and a package on the porch. Inside, they found a DVD case with no artwork on it. I’d written a short note on it, just saying, “This has too much gore. Remove it.” They took it in to watch.

The first segment showed one of their friends sitting on the floor of a mobile home, bloody and beaten. I was there too, holding a metal baseball bat and a gas can. Neither looked necessary with me in my form-fitting armor, but that’s how it goes. “So, tell me about that framejob you pulled on that guy you claim is Doctor Digital.”

“He is Doctor Digital!” the man yelled.

I knelt down in front of him and rubbed his hair with the bat. “Naughty naughty. He most certainly is not the guy who hired me to clear his name.” I’m proud of that line. I don’t mind lying, but it’s also fun to say things in such a way as to tell the truth while still lying. It’s all in the pronouns. I want someone watching to think I mean Doctor Digital hired me to clear his own name, but that’s not what I said. It’s petty, but so am I.

I gave his ear a gentle smack with the bat. “And that whole kid thing? People pay lots of money to avoid having that tied to their name. Save yourself some trouble.”

The man spat at me. I shrugged and popped him in the mouth with the bat. His front incisors came out with the next lob of spittle and blood. I raised the gas can and poured it out in a circle around him, then all over the mobile home. “You know, the lucky way to go when facing death by burning is to die of poisoning from the carbon monoxide. I recently watched Return Of The Living Dead, though, and I thought more about how that chemical works. The body still feels after death, and it keeps doing so until the brain is completely destroyed. And one guy lights himself on fire to end it all.”

I tossed the gas can aside, then bent down and began to undo one of the man’s shoes. He kicked at me, but I brought the baseball bat down. His leg let out a crack as it shattered. He whimpered and tried kicking, but he really couldn’t dislodge me anyway. The reprisal was for my own pleasure. I tugged his shoe off, and his sock, then pulled out a syringe. “Can you imagine what that was like? Flames consuming you, bit by bit, and you unable to die by poisoning? Can’t even die because your body’s burnt to a crisp?”

I jabbed the syringe in between his big toe and the next one, injecting him. Bloody spit flecked his face and sprayed off as he yelled, “Fuck you! He got what he deserved. Nobody should be allowed to disrespect us!”

I pulled the syringe out and patted the man’s foot. “Don’t worry. You’ll have plenty of time to think on what you deserve.” I stood up, dropped the syringe, and pulled out a lighter.

“You’re just as much shit as him and his dad,” said my victim. “You deserve everything coming to you. So does that slut he married who stands by a fucking criminal.”

I shrugged it off. From the way I was playing it up, I didn’t want to indicate the wife meant anything. “And I bet you never went over the speed limit,” I said in the video, flicking the lighter and holding the flame down to the soaking carpet. It lit and the fire spread as I walked out of the mobile home, then shut the door. A camera view from outside showed me nailing it shut, but not doing anything to the window right next to it before walking away.

The man inside managed to get to his feet and hopped to the window. He unlocked it easily, then threw himself out. The fire disappeared, then the whole interior of the mobile home. The outside shot came up again, showing the outside of a large building and the man plummeting. The camera panned down to show him land with a thud, then back up to show me waving at it from inside the building.

“Oh fuck, oh shit, oh fuck,” said one of the three in the business. He ran for the bathroom, not quite making it before he lost his lunch. That made the other two gag, one of them using the sink in the bathroom and the other heading outside. That last one confirmed that there was an outside still.

When the next part started up, the screen was dark. They heard the voice of the other member of their group coming from it. “We made it all up, alright? Are we good? I didn’t think we’d snatch some lady off the street over this. You got her back, now please don’t kill me!”

“The fuck… we left him to guard her,” said the guy who’d been using the sink as he looked back at the screen.

The message played over again. “We made it all up. I didn’t think we’d snatch some lady off the street over this.”

Then I flashed on screen, facing the camera and waving. The man watching it looked around at the others, “Guys, I think we better go.”

The one from the doorway had turned to look inward, but checked outside again. “We’re fine for now. No one’s here.”

“Good,” said the fellow from the toilet. “I need to wash my mouth out. Anyone else want some?” he asked, going over to a small fridge where they had a pitcher of colorful flavored sugar water whose mascot likes to destroy walls.

“Yeah, sure,” said the one who had been watching the video. The two had a cup of Kool-Aid while the one at the door squinted. He seemed ready when they dropped the cups and pitcher and began to keel over. He turned and tried to run for it. Something caught him around the neck and lifted him up. The noose materialized and I moved it over to a better mooring that didn’t require me to hold onto it.

The case against Doctor Digital was dropped a couple of days later, after prosecutors had time to consider the confession from the sole survivor of what had been seen by the news as a weird suicide pact of guilty vigilantes.

I guess it was all a bit dark, but have y’all seen how hot it is outside? I needed the shade.

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Judgment Day: Salvation

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We interrupt your regularly-scheduled broadcast to bring you more of your regularly-scheduled broadcast, only slightly different.

I had an urgent message on VillainNet. With recent events being what they are, I was all too happy to have something suddenly require my complete attention. Shit’s just been too weird, even for me.

It was a rush from Ouroboros. The villain who’d managed to take over and run a city in the United States before the country started shooting itself still maintained his position as one of the villains who adjudicates disputes that require intervention. I am considered the ultimate intervention. If I’m getting called in, they expect someone to die. I have shown leniency before, but I know what they call on me for.

On Valentine’s Day, the civilian wife of a villain had been kidnapped. Cordial fancies himself a gentleman thief in a costume, but he’s yet to pull a heist outside of Kansas City. He’s not big time by any means. The guy can shrink anything he can hold up between his hands, which would be great for a thief. It’s just not the best power for violent confrontations. That’s part of why he came to us.

His wife is a consultant for the U.S. Department of Defense and the Department of Energy in regards to nuclear weapons, specializing in studying the effects of nuclear weapons on disabling countries and as existential threats to civilization. I suspect she looks at more than just “What happens if you hit all the cities with one?” I imagine you could engineer quite the crisis just by setting a couple off in the right states and allow the nuclear fallout to ruin prime farmland. It’s come up as a possible way to deal with enemies.

Speaking of enemies, the wife called her husband in the middle of being abducted and was able to tell him who had done the deed. Asset Protection International, a private security company with ridiculous yellow uniforms. It was obviously their guys she mentioned. When Cordial got home, he even found her discarded phone, left behind with photos of the yellow bellies, but also images going back two weeks of them in various locations around Kansas City. Cordial took the info to VillainNet, who uncovered even more things.

API had steadily been closing out its contracts. The yellowbellies were being seen less and less guarding celebrities, looking after valuables and compounds of the rich and famous, or working with U.S. Soldiers around the world. Then, they lost a major contract with the Department of Energy and got fined by the government. Something big went missing and nobody talked about what it was. After that, API built a plant in North Dakota and announced they were going into the ammunition business. The owner, Chris King, had himself a friggin’ castle built outside the same town and has had a small army of yellow bellies guarding it.

Ouroboros and the others are betting on nukes. Me too. This guy’s got a scheme of some sort going on and that got the judges involved. The lines between super and civilian can get blurred at times. Give a martial artist a mask and let him fight crime, you could consider him a superhero. Have your own mercenary company, build a castle in the middle of nowhere, and stock up on weapons of mass destruction? Yeah, you might just be a supervillain. And VillainNet would have been more than happy to go to town on a civilian, but it’s a different story if the conflict’s between villains. Complicating matters is that Chris King has nothing to do with VillainNet to help settle the dispute. They sent an envoy to meet with him and invite Mr. King into the fold. They lost contact with the envoy six hours before they sent me the message. At the four hour mark, he was officially overdue. Two hours prior to my involvement, they sat down to deliberate and settled on me. Fifteen minutes after I got the message, I left a note putting Qiang in charge until I get back and threw my armor on.

It was the wee hours of the morning when the Psycho Flyer flew in high over North Dakota. It was just me, the pilot, and a small squad of my guys in power armor in case I needed backup. I had a little info on what the outside of the castle looked like, but nobody had gone inside. It got turned into a villain vs. villain matter too quickly for that. It’s possible Cordial’s wife, April, isn’t even in there. But she almost certainly is. If not, someone important is, likely King himself. If I can’t find her, I can find him and convince him to turn her over to us.

The target was the castle in the middle of North Dakota. Once you slap down a castle in the middle of nowhere, subtlety is an afterthought. I opened the deployment trapdoor in the bottom of the Psycho Flyer and hopped out, parachute on my back. As heavy as my armor is these days, I had to pack one hell of a chute. When I pulled the cord, it started deploying, and it just kept on going, slowly revealing ever more of Hieronymus Bosch’s “The Garden of Earthly Delights”. I don’t know if it ever really stopped before I landed and it draped over the entirety of the castle’s courtyard. Guards on the walls and down on ground level were yelling, trying to figure out what was going on. I lost the element of surprise, but I gained fond memories of guards crawling under parachute, trying to find their way to freedom.

I followed one of them into the castle proper. The thick wooden door unlocked using a blue-colored keycard. He opened it and I stepped in behind him. He realized something was up and turned on my, but I shoved his head in the door and slammed the wood against his neck until the door closed. I grabbed his keycard before I left his body jammed there in the door way, telling the corpse, “Don’t mind me cutting ahead here.”

The side rooms had a blue stripe on the card readers. One swipe opened them, and let me check. There was a reading room with paperback novels and magazines stacked up. There was a game room, with bean bag chairs, TVs, and video game consoles set up. There was a bunk room with a lot of corpses in it after I tossed in a handful of chicken grenades, which set off an alarm to inform the corpses there was danger about. And there was the dining hall, where a bunch of other corpses had overturned tables to use as barricades. The .50 cal rifle was a surprise. When he took a shot at me, I ducked beside the door and hid the cloak. I also dropped the drone hidden under my cape and strafed it just under the roof of the doorway. The .50 cal rang out again, followed by a lot of smaller bangs. The drone made it to the other side safely. I pulled out an explosive throwing knife, primed it, and tossed it into the chaos caused by the anti-tank rifle’s magazine being overheated by the drone’s laser.

The drone folded up under my cloak again and we continued on, but the bottom level looked to be low-level stuff. I didn’t find April or King in the bathrooms, though it would have made my job easier if that was the case. Even the stairs required a keycard; the entrance to the second floor had a card reader with a blue stripe on it. Instead, the doors up there had purple stripes and the blue card couldn’t open them. They didn’t even have the decency to label the rooms, possibly for security purposes. There were five rooms on the second level. I peeled off a glove and set to work. The first room I opened was a coed bathroom. The second turned out to be the maintenance closet.

The next one was an arboretum, which I thought was about as useless to me as the maintenance closet until I heard someone call out. “Who’s there?” It was a man’s voice, but I figured not a guard.

“I’m looking for April,” I called out.

“I knew it!” said a woman, who ran out of the bushes. She matched her picture, with her distinctive auburn curls hanging over the standard face humans have. Dimples, eyelashes, eyeballs. Everyone seems to like having a face. She wore a set of coveralls, though, and nobody could have liked being stuck in those ugly things. “I knew my husband would arrange a rescue.”

“Score one for the supervillain,” said a middle-aged man with a slight paunch as he followed her out.

A third person came out rolling his eyes. Taller, older, and with a prominent hook nose. “Shut up, Greg. You didn’t believe her.” They were dressed the same as April.

Oh, this is gonna be neat. “He said you didn’t know.”

She let out a quick laugh. “Of course I know. I didn’t know he had connections though. I thought he’d come for me.”

“Well, dance around naked for him, he’ll come for you all you want, but we’ll settle that after the rescue,” I told her.

“No!” said the guy with the really noticeable hook nose. I think he’s been in a few fist fights. If not fights, then one-sided beatdowns. “We have to stop King’s evil plan!”

I looked to April, “I’m only here for you, ya know.”

She shook her head. “He’s right. He has to be stopped. He’s going to kill millions.”

“I don’t care, as long as they’re not my millions,” I paused. “What kind of millions?”

Greg, the one who had been told to shut up, disobeyed orders and cleared his throat. “He’s going to activate three EMP devices in the upper atmosphere.”

April nodded, “Decades ago, the DOD tested the effect of nuclear devices in the upper atmosphere and found out they widen the area of the electromagnetic effect. He’s going to cause chaos and death. He wants people to die off from the collapse of the digital age to try and halt the spread of climate change.”

“Ok, I’m in,” I said. Something like this was going to mess things up for my people. More importantly, it would hurt me, too. “Where do we need to go?”

“The third floor,” the taller fellow said. “That’s where they’re being calibrated. I know where the stairs are, but we’ll need a keycard.”

“I got a better idea. Where’s an exterior wall?”

They pointed to the rear of the arboretum. I sent a message. The Psycho Flyer blasted a hole in that wall, and a hole in the wall higher up. I headed for the rubble. They followed, coughing their way through smoke. One of my soldiers hopped down onto our level with the cable in hand. Another slid down after him. One stood guard while the other helped the captives onto the cable.Outside, a few shots rang off the outside of the Psycho Flyer. Side guns turned to fire down on the culprit without jeopardizing the rescue.

I jumped to the next floor. It took a little angling, but I landed on a ledge outside the hole we’d made. A yellow-clad guard looked out at me. I grabbed him and tossed him off to the side, where he wouldn’t disturb the people climbing the cable.

It looked like pretty much the entire third floor was taken up by a large lab. Yellow-clad guards stood around while people in coveralls worked, either on a section of what I recognized as a missile, or on the EMPs sitting on wheeled carts off by themselves.

Two of the guards stepped forward while the others gave them space. One pulled out a sword with an edge that glowed bright yellow. The other undid his yellow top, revealing a pair of turbines through his chest. This guy had turbines instead of lungs and they spun up, blowing a computer monitor at me. I swatted it away as the guy with the sword jumped with his foot landing between turbine guy’s chest turbines. He kicked off, the turbines ramping up to blow him at me. I thought for a moment, then ducked.

Sword guy dropped his sword right in front of me, the blade dimming to look like normal metal. Sword guy himself tried to grab the wall I’d come through, but instead was blow off into the night sky, headed for the ground.

“That blows,” I said, pointing back to him with a thumb.

Turbine guy tried sucking again. I pulled out a rubber chicken, tore the head off, and let it get sucked up into the guy’s chest. It actually jammed one of the turbines briefly, before it exploded and sent everyone else running for the door. I didn’t care about them so much. I had to go ahead and completely wreck the EMPs. Since I was out of rubber chickens and the exploding knives weren’t quite going to do it, I picked one up and beat the other two into scrap metal using it.

“You aren’t going to ruin my plans!” yelled a voice over the intercom.

“Get fucked,” I told him. “You can have all the plans you want, just not ones where you hit me with EMPs.”

This guy clearly misjudged me and my intentions. “You think you’re saving the world? Humanity must be culled. And by humanity, I mean everyone not in North America or Europe. All the other parts of the world have to drastically reduce their development and population or we will suffer.”

“Imagine if you spent as much time and money on improving things in ways that don’t involve murder. I mean, I get it. The shortest distance between two points involves shoving your hand through someone’s chest. But you’re targeting my people,” I said.

“You’ll regret this, whoever you are. The whole world will regret this!” he said.

I gave the room the finger as I walked out to where the Flyer’s line dangled for me. By then, even the slowest of the captives had made it inside the aircraft, quickly followed by my soldiers. I gave one last pithy remark to the room before swinging out into the night, my part to save the planet done. “I’m Captain Planet, and the only one around here who gets to fuck Gaia is me.” I jumped out and caught the cable, holding myself there long enough to get a look at the wrecked castle and all the people struggling to find themselves out from under my parachute in the courtyard. Off in the distance, I saw a sports car, some old Aston Martin, come racing up the lone road to the castle. Someone else to investigate or mess with whatever’s going on. None of my business.

I was only here for a love story, after all. Like all good love stories, it involved a shitload of murder. Nothing warms the heart more than tearing out someone else’s.

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Judgment Day 3: Fall Of The Machine

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I’ve been called in on a dispute between partners. A pair of villains worked together and each planned to double cross each other. It happens. The job, a bank heist, went poorly as a result and they both almost got caught. Then they wrecked a safehouse hostel they both turned out to be staying in. Their next meeting caused extensive damage to a private restaurant for villains. They sunk a smuggler’s ship, burned down a villain bar, and were both spotted at a private resort where supervillains and other criminals vacation.

Their feud’s led to the loss of facilities for the whole community due to damage and law enforcement attention, and the guys who have more or less appointed themselves the top judges of VillainNet have decided this needs to end. I don’t know who worded the opinion, but the relevant part to my interests included the line, “Whereas we do not intend to increase similar complaints by taking a side, it has been decided that both offending parties be made examples of by sentence of death, to be carried out by Psychopomp Gecko at the time of his or her choosing, but with expediency prioritized.”

In other words, they figure if they declare one person right and the other wrong for what appears to be a grudge both of the villains are pursuing, people will start coming to them to deal with similar complaints or if they’re just thinking of betraying the other guy. Suddenly, the process goes from a way to keep people from ruining things for everyone else, to people taking bribes to pass death sentences on rivals.

That, or someone doing the judging hates them both and wants to kill their rivals.

The two were still suspected to be on the resort island after making a mess of the place. I checked with the staff and found they were still open for business. A private island in the Mediterranean. “Yes, ma’am. We are still open. We have isolated the damaged sections for repair and removed the smell from the rest of the complex.”

I hope so. I’ve never worked with this Odior guy, but his gimmick is using smells. The reports for the original bank heist say that a horribly noxious smell scared everyone out just before something melted the security camera lenses into uselessness. The island resort experienced some seriously nasty stank until Odior’s rival, Voyager TI, opened a window and a few walls. As a robot, Voyager is immune to Odior’s stench, but not to the desire to use heavy firepower to blast a few walls out.

I’ll have to put aside my attraction to robots with intelligence for this one. If he’s as dumb as I think he is, that should prove easy.

So I get to kill people while staying at a resort that caters to people of the criminal persuasion. Maybe I should fuck the robot. These two got me a sweet little vacation. I brought the family along on the official Imperial private jet, known as Deadly Force One. Anyone who tries to shoot us down will find out why I chose that particular name.

We landed at sunset. I carried out my dear little Qiang, daughter of my loins. Well, adopted daughter. Whose DNA I altered so that I’m genetically one of her parents. Everyone handles parenthood differently. Some wouldn’t bring their kid along to a hit, for instance. It’s not as bad as it sounds. I’m not going to have her do any of the killing.

I brought Citra along as well. I thought she’d like spending time together, just the two of us. I was going to bring servants along for Qiang, but Max, Sam, and Holly volunteered to help look after her when I told them where we were going. I suspect ulterior motives from them.While Holly looked after Qiang and took her to learn what an arcade was, Citra and I stepped out onto a casino floor in a dress so skimpy, even Citra couldn’t keep her eyes off me.

In the wee hours of the morning, I had dealer point out a pit boss to me. He asked if I wanted him called over, but I waved him off and slinked over. Little dress, hair twirling in my fingers. If I’d had bubblegum, it could have gone even better. “Hey there,” I said, setting my hands on my hips once I got close enough. “I heard y’all had a dust-up here recently. A tussle. Maybe even a brouhaha?”

“A pair of villains fought and caused some damage. We have the situation under control.”

“I heard they were still somewhere on the island,” I said. “I’m sure you’re keeping track of them. Making sure none of your events go too close?”

He looked at me. “Ma’am, I don’t know what you’re up to but…” his head cocked slightly as that earpiece he had on relayed information to him. He adjusted his jacket. “I stand corrected, Psycho Gecko. I heard we were reaching out to the criminal underworld, but I didn’t realize we would attract contractors of your caliber.”

“Caliber’s nice, but my eyes are up here.” I pointed with all four arms at my peepers. “I’m here to handle some pest control for y’all, if the price is right. Who’s a gal got to spay and neuter around here to figure out how we’ll Bob Barker this up?”

“From the context it is clear what you mean,” He said. “I would be happy to relay your desire to negotiate to the owners.”

I gave them my number, loaded up on sugar and caffeine via a fresh, new Psycho Cola. Made from sugars not found anywhere but Ricca, Psycho Cola is the full-flavored soft drink that helps people lose weight while revitalizing their sex lives. It can also do your taxes for you, and is biodegradable. Plus, the company’s majority shareholder is immune to prosecution for violating false advertising laws.

I also put my armor on and set out onto the island. The pit boss whispered sweet nothings in my ear about free play, VIP suites whenever I want, parasailing, and yacht parties. “Throw in a balloon ride and a trip to the horse stables for myself and my daughter. Come on here, I don’t work pro bono. I’m a professional bono.”

They agreed to the terms I wanted. It was real generous considering I was supposed to be doing it for free. Glad I didn’t mention that to them beforehand.

It’s not a large island. I hopped out from the resort and over the village surrounding it into the rocky countryside. According to the pit boss, there was a shepherd out this way. After that were the woods, if they can be called that. They were skinny things. And they were mostly dead. By mostly dead, I don’t mean partly alive as if a small miracle could bring them back after a couple of days. Most of them were rotting where they stood, if they even stood any further.

A fierce wind had broken over this forest. That would be Odior. I checked the thermals and found nothing alive there. There was a large hill after that, and on the opposite hill rested a skeleton of columns, old foundations, and broken walls. Something putting out a shitload of body heat darted between the ruins. I landed invisible to the human eye just outside the ruins.

“Where’s the little skunk?” called a voice tinged with reverb. “Where do you hide, Pepe le pew pew?” Shots boomed out that sent a column flying right at me.

I caught it easily, fingers digging into… styrofoam? Huh. Fake ruins. I tossed it to the side and ran toward the noises and the guy creating small explosions. Voyager TI looked like a good-sized man with brown hair and a clean-shaven face. He wore tights that covered most of his body except his neck and head, and his forearms. He crushed styrofoam under black boots as he stepped stiffly around, firing the occasional shot off in a pattern at equal intervals. From his arm. He had his right arm up. The skin was missing off that forearm. It didn’t look like any gun from Earth. More like a collection of metal poles of varying lengths all aimed at the same direction.

He turned in place, pointing that gun all around but never firing at the same spot twice. “I know you are here. I have searched the island and the only place left for you to sleep is on sharp rocks just below the water of the cliffs. There is an 87% chance you would resort to using the water against me, but you lack the gills to sleep in it.”

I snuck closer, planning to detach his metal skull and beat his body into dysfunction. I stopped as I was reaching for his jaw at the sight of smoke rising from below us. He noticed it to, then noticed where the smoke bounced off me. He raised the gun toward me when the ground rumbled, then fell away.

I caught a piece of the wall. It came loose, but it gave me enough time to jam my other fists into the wall. I slid down a bit, but ultimately caught. I like to think the extra arms make me better at sticking to walls, but a recent bit of fun involving Citra and baby oil leads me to believe this is not a hard rule.

The same couldn’t be said for Voyager. He went down like a college freshman who had just been told they were so smart, had everything together, and that their opinion mattered. I had to zoom in to see how badly gravity had robothandled him. He’d splashed and smashed onto rocks and water waiting at the bottom of the hole. His arm sparked and shook as it touched the water. A man moved into my sight down there, clapping. He looked like he had on a yellow and orange outfit with one of those beer hats, except the bottles weren’t beer.

The new person, Odior, blew a yellow cloud onto Voyager that caused his skin to bubble and the exposed metal to rust. “I heard you, Voyager. You were just a little fart-ther than I wanted to go to surrender,” Odior said. I want to hate him for the pun, but it’s not much worse than stuff Ben Franklin has written. “You smelt it, and I dealt it!” He threw his head back and laughter bellowed up the hole toward me. Then he smooshed into the rocks as a few hundred pounds of rocket-powered armor popped his skull out through his sphincter.

I went ahead and decloaked as I looked down on Voyager. “You spent days hunting that guy? Truth be told, I don’t see what the big stink is.”

“Who are you?” asked Voyager. The reverb in his voice was worse.

“I’ve been sent to get rid of a couple of pests ruining things for everybody by fighting all the damn time,” I told him.

“We are not fighting now,” Voyager said. His eyes flicked to the pile of flesh and broken bones I stood in and I noticed his neck was bent at an unnatural angle. Given he’s a robot, that’s to be expected, even more so now that metal and circuitry poked out of the neck skin.

“I wasn’t sent to pick sides,” I told him.

Voyager’s left arm, having lain against the rocks, shot toward me. Where the skin met his tight suit, the forearm pulled away and extended on metal poles. The fingers went stiff and the skin opened up to reveal sharp spikes.

I caught the hand with my upper two and held it in place. My lower arms extended their Nasty Surprise chainsaws. They carved through it in a shower of sparks. I flipped the arm over. Voyager sat up and ended up deepthroating his own limb. I disemboweled him, and disem-legged him while I was at it. Instead of stuffing a turkey, I stuffed a pair of chicken grenades inside him.

He gave me the middle finger just before he exploded. The shaking didn’t stop though. The hole I’d entered into filled in, which fucked over my plan of escape. Without a lot of time to think, I ran in the same direction the water flowed. Worst comes to worst, I figured I could do a little bit of underwater walking in my armor.

The water never got higher than the knees of the my armor, but I powered through it anyway. The alternative was live burial. While I’ve been buried alive before, I didn’t enjoy it, and I look forward to it even less when it’s an entire island instead of six feet of dirt.

When I saw sunlight from a rising sun, I knew I was almost there. I jumped for it, passing through a gradually widening entrance to a stalactite-laden overhang under what turned out to be the cliffs on the opposite side of the island. The rocks and dirt didn’t follow me out, the cowards. “Not so tough,” I took a break to puff some air back into my lungs, “without gravity… on your side… are you?” I gave the cliffs the finger.

Groaning, I stood up and picked my way through the rocky, wet shore to a spot with good footing. I called the pit boss back when I reached more solid land. “The dirty deed’s done. Don’t even need to bury them. Now let’s talk masseuses. There’ll be three of us. I’m going to need someone more on the ‘Greco-Roman wrestler’ side of things to help me with my kinks. No, I have a fetish for strong men digging their elbows into my back to release muscle tension.”

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Judgment Day 2: The Terminating

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“I think I’ve become a lot more comfortable with myself over the past year or so, but I can’t say I’m not questioning it. Is it because I’ve been a woman, or is that just incidental? And isn’t that just really stupid and cliché if I’m suddenly a better person because I’ve become a woman? It’s certainly not how I viewed everything that’s happened lately.” I leaned in, laying my head on the shoulder of the slight man I danced with.

“You’re a man?” he asked.

I rolled my eyes, currently using their camouflage to appear to be normal brown human eyes, and gave his earlobe a tug with my nails. “You’re not a good listener. I’m not sure what I am, I’m just not trying to say it aloud because people get bored by introspection.”

“So between your legs you have a…?” he asked.

“Case in point…” I muttered. “Nope, no penis. I even have a period, which is something most trans women don’t get. If I am one.”

He opened his mouth to say something else, but I pressed a finger to his lips. “Shhh… you don’t have to say anything at all.” I knew what he was going to ask and I didn’t care to hear it. I didn’t pick the guy for any good reasons. He was ok looking, but the real reason I picked him is I stand out all by my lonesome. I’m a stranger in a strange land.

It was Gangnam. Just a few years ago, the district had been the subject of a popular song about wealth inequality and the dangers of trying to live up to that as a standard. It drove people to debt and bankruptcy.

I’m one to talk. I went from apartment to palace. From stolen bank accounts to GDP of a nation. From being the dark mirror image of humanity to a nanite-surgical standard of beauty just as naturally unattainable as the skyscraper we danced around in.

Oh well. At least they had a kickass ice swan. It’s not a fancy party without an ice swan, y’all.

I’d gone in undercover once again, and with the benefit of gloves hiding those little extra arms of mine. Pickpocketing is so much easier like this. I didn’t come here to rob everyone blind or confuse some guy by talking about my particular gender issues. I honestly hope not to talk to anyone about my gender confusion. Everyone’s got a dog in that fight, and you’d think if I was a woman, I wouldn’t have gone THIS long-

Nope, not talking about it. For now, I follow the example of the great Western philosopher Popeye: I yam what I yam and that’s all that I yam. I had, in fact, smuggled in yams in case I needed them. I may need the extra weapons.

The Great and Devious one has been called upon to render judgment. The target: Koko Kokokofa. Yeah, I’d wondered if it was a typo too.

One of the supervillains I’d personally furloughed from the Chinese Hell prisons worked South Korea for a time after he’d gotten free. Alpine, he called himself. Could grow to about fifteen feet tall with a relative increase in strength and density, along with the ability to generate snow. He’d landed in a Chinese prison recently and had a long life ahead of him. Then I got the referral from VillainNet and found myself looking at photos and video of a man in his 80s with Alpine’s costume hanging off his bony frame.

He’d been out trashing a night club to impress people and make his mark. It’s not uncommon for villains to use acts of public destruction as a job application, especially if they’re muscle. It’s not the way I do things, where public destruction is a side perk, but people do different things with their lives.

The hero who responded was… well, hardly a hero, I guess. Koko there is some sort of K-pop diva with telekinetic powers who fights crime sometimes. I looked her up and it’s all so coordinated and PR-heavy, with her in delicate dresses and her hair done just right, that a lot of her stuff could be set up to make her look good. Junk food companies did something similar in the United States decades ago, hiring someone to rob them and tipping off a hero, all to advertise their pastries or candy bars or what-have-you.

Koko had been at the club according to Alpine. They got into a fight, and then she lifted him up with her mind and pulled him toward her. She touched his face and drained something from him. He felt his strength pulled away and saw in a window that he went from his twenties to an old man. When he asked her what she did, he said she looked different. He said she had bags under her eyes beforehand. She laughed at him. When he heard police approach, he turned tail and escaped as fast as his hammering heart would let him. He had his powers still and that helped.

The judges appointed by the other super villains on VillainNet counted this one as mutilation with prejudice. That might sound weird, but even the lawless and anarchic get offended over things. Everyone gets offended over something. Supers tend to hate anything that takes their powers away or gives them to someone else. Identity theft can be bad too when people start messing around with others’ crushes and girlfriends. Going from 20 to 80 years old because of a laughing pop music star? You better believe that’s a paddlin’.

I advised Alpine to visit someone dealing in nanites. Nothing a bit of surgery and some organ replacements can’t fix. I’d see that Koko didn’t get to enjoy those stolen years. Lucky for me, singers are the sorts of people who leave a schedule. The party here was private, but some people don’t think wealth is worth having unless you show it off by telling the little people what they’ll be missing. Koko’s set to perform here this very evening.

I didn’t bring the armor along. It’s just the way I’m doing things this time. Since I’ve got all this money, it’s nice to be able to get an alias on guest lists.

And that should catch everyone up. I came here, checked around for her, and found a guy to latch onto so I didn’t look too out of place. I made a bit of idle chatter while I looked for Koko and thought up ways to improve this sort of thing for the future. The image that sprung to mind was one of my eyes floating. I could put together a simpler version with a good power source. From there I could try to recreate the floating orbs from my home dimension or pick a smaller, more conventional method of flying it up and around.

“Is there someone you’re looking for?” asked the guy I was with, breaking into my thoughts and cluing in on that.

“I heard the singer Koko would be here. I’m a huge fan. Meeting her is a once-in-a-lifetime event.” I smiled up at him.

He scoffed. “She won’t mingle until she performs. She always does that.”

“How long do we have?” I asked.

“Not long,” he answered. “Would you care to get a drink?”

“Sure, lead the way,” I said. At least I got to try some of the finger food before he arrived with a glass of wine. “What, no Manischewitz?”

He furrowed his brows. “Is that a problem?”

“Not really. L’chaim!” I said as I shook my head before sipping on the dry white he brought me. I guess I’m just not much of a wine person.

The guy leaned against the wall next to me. “I feel like you opened up to me because of a real connection-”

“Hold this,” I handed him my wine glass and shushed him as the lights dimmed and security people cleared out a portion of the dance floor. Out came Koko with a pair of backup girls in identical outfits, with identical hair. They were even right about the same height. She looked young, but that’s pop music pretty much anywhere. I scanned the backups for anything unusual real quick as they all went into a song.

I left the guy alone as I walked back over to the food table and that bitchin’ ice swan they had. A shame they had no knives for me to cut into it. Good thing I snuck my own in. I pulled them out, got behind the swan, and stabbed them in. The rockets in the knives shot off and flung the swan against the ceiling over the pop dancers. The festivities all stopped as the swan broke up and started to fall on them. Koko held her hands up from in the lead and stopped them all from coming down on her.

By that time, I was running at her from the front. I pulled another knife and set it off aimed right for her. One of the backup dancers saw me though and stepped in front. She took the knife to the heart and fell down. The other moved in front too, but she started to turn red and grow larger. When that one charged, I turned sharply and headed for the windows on the edges of the floor. I heard her follow with pounding footsteps.

“You have nowhere to go! You’ll pay for hurting Momo!” yelled the behemoth behind me.

Nowhere to go was the point. I grinned and fired my laser eye again, cutting into the window three times. I turned to look back and saw the red K-pop singer looked more like Lou Ferrigno. Unfortunately for her, she interrupted me while I was hungry. She wouldn’t like me when I’m hungry.

I slowed enough so she could catch up, then jumped and landed with a split. Momentum took my torso forward to the floor. It took Lo Lo Ferrigno over me and against the broken glass, smashing it out. She teetered on the edge there until I hopped up, grabbed a nearby table, and smacked it into her backside, sending her plummeting down from 40 stories up.

I got away from the hole in a hurry though. I ran to the side, around columns and interior walls, so I could loop back around to the main area. Best not leave yourself exposed in front of a hole near a telekine.

At this point, much of the crowd decided this wasn’t an evening where everything would be in control and decided to leave. A pair of security guys tried to pull Koko along like they guided the guests, but she shook them off and tossed one into one of the cheese plates. Nearby, an overweight lady shrieked before I pulled her skirt up and scrambled to my feet. Koko turned fast and knocked me to the side with her mind. I rolled, grabbed a waiter’s tray, and tossed it at her. She stopped it in the air. Same for another rocket knife. I kept pitching and she kept catching, but I took out the yams and smashed them into the floor when I thought she couldn’t see. I looked up to find she sent everything back at me all at once. I stayed ducked to let it fly overhead, but I felt her pull my legs and bare arms out like Vitruvian man.

She walked up, smirking, up until she stepped on the yams and slipped. She nearly fell, and clearly had other things to concentrate on, but I didn’t feel Koko’s mental grip fail. Instead, she grabbed onto me to steady herself, then looked me in the eyes. “Did you think that was a good trick?” she asked.

My camouflaged arms, unfolded from around my belly. One hand held onto lower jaw, fingers in her mouth except for the thumb under her chin. The other grabbed her throat and tore it out. “Not as good as that one!” I yelled as the blood spray coated my lower arms along with the rest of me. That dropped her concentration.

I lunged forward and bent her head back, then snapped it off her neck. I rolled and stood up, opening my legs wide and reaching for my cock. With a twist, I pulled the rubber chicken grenade out from between my legs except for the pin in the head. I shoved it into Koko’s mouth, kissed her panicked features goodbye, and tossed the head away to explode.

Slowly, the shocked guy I’d been chatting up walked over, the only living person besides myself still in the place. He held our glasses, both empty. Eyes wide, he stuttered, “That… w-was.. wha? I-I-I-.”

I grabbed him and pressed my bloody lips to his for a kiss. I broke the lip lock with a grin and told him, “Come with me if you want to live,” before turning away to escape.

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Judgment Day

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Perhaps I’ve neglected my self-imposed duties to VillaiNet too long. Perhaps I feel the need to reassure them I’m still down with the agreement we all made despite killing a lot of superhumans lately. Perhaps I just get bored ruling easily. I was called upon to judge people. And I can get very judgy. I sent the White House to another dimension, after all. Still a good call, I believe.

In full armor, I saw a child custody case between a villain and her hero husband. Vertigal had the power to reverse the effects of gravity, temporarily. Her husband, on the other hand… “What, exactly do you do?” I asked him.

“I have a sticky sprayer and sticky grenades. They use a special adhesive that’s almost impossible to remove,” the man said. He wore a crimson and yellow outfit with thick red boots and yellow gloves. He had a big black “R” across his chest. “I’m Resolve, by the way. When my-my wife said we were visiting a Pacific paradise, I thought this would be more about pleasure than coming before a killer supervillain.”

“Pe- Resolve, take a breath. If this was about hurting you, there are better ways to do it.” Vertigal had a costume made up of black and white swirls that swept up from her legs. She resembled a spiral if you saw her from above. The effect didn’t work so well from ground level, but she sought my judgment in relation to child custody, not fashion. A little heavy on the hips, but she is a mother. Her mask had the same black and white spiral pattern over it, with a black-colored eye area over white spiral and a white one over black spiral.

They’d both come before my throne. Sure, I was bored, but I also just got back to my daughter and family. Even my wife had been welcoming despite the political nature of our marriage and her spending all her time on online courses now. So when the whole dispute was sent through to me for whatever reason, I offered to fly them both out here. We’re getting a lot more normal commercial service these days. Unlike some countries, my regime isn’t known for torturing journalists to death or inciting street fighters to attack my political opponents. I murder those myself, then I tell the witnesses I’ll kill them if they talk to the press. Makes me look better in comparison, which has really been the key to my success.

“You didn’t think to warn me you were bringing me here?” he asked.

“You didn’t warn me you were going to tell the cops who I was to keep Sara to yourself,” she said.

Resolve threw up his hands. “You were going to get full custody. She’s my daughter too.”

“You play around with chemicals and make superglue. You don’t have the time or money to take care of her, but I do,” Vertigal responded.

“Stolen money!” he said.

“Your mother didn’t mind my stolen money paying for her new boobs, did she?” Vertigal sniped back.

Resolve didn’t like that one. “Can we get off my mom’s boobs?!”

“About time you wanted to,” Vertigal said.

With them arguing and barely paying me any attention, I waved over one of the Directory servants. There aren’t really too many Directors left aside from those I ask to continue handling their particular duties, so the servants pretty much solely cater to my whims. That meant bringing over a snack for me of some dumplings. “Just leave that there, thank you,” I said to the servant. I picked up chopsticks and began tossing them to see if I could bounce one off the top of someone’s head. One smacked Vertigal’s cheek, getting a laugh from Resolve. Then he tried to catch a dumpling that hit him in the side of the leg. It ended up falling into his boot.

While he pulled it off to dump the dumpling out, I took my turn to speak. “If I wanted to hear all this, I’d put on a daytime talk show. You, Vertigal, you thought he shouldn’t have custody?”

“I’m fine with visits and letting her stay with him some. Resolve goes out every night and has trouble holding down a job because of his crimefighting. That’s no environment for my baby girl. Then he outed me to the cops,” she sounded bitter through that full face mask.

“Who wants their daughter growing up in a house with a career criminal? I found out your friend Fred was another villain. Is that the crowd you want around Sara?” Resolve said.

I raised four hands. “Address me from now on or I’ll find bigger things to throw at you both. So, Vertigal, you’re concerned about Resolve being able to adequately care for your child because of his heroic duties, and him providing monetarily for her needs. Resolve, you’re concerned about your daughter being raised by a supervillain. Going to be honest here, not an argument I’m amenable too.” I stapled both sets of hands. “It’s not helped by the fact that now she’s on the run because you told people her identity. I can see now why this scenario was referred to me. That was a shitty move, Resolve. How would you like it if I put your real name out there for everyone to see, including the villains?”

“I was doing what’s right. I didn’t intend to hurt anybody,” he said.

I stood up. “But you did, didn’t you? If you’d only intended to hurt her, this might have been even easier on you. You two get into a fight, like heroes and villains do. But in the name of doing what’s right without thinking of the consequences, you outed your daughter’s mother to the police. They’ll be after her. She might go on the run, keeping Sara from having a stable life. You might win custody, but the only way she gets to see her daughter is if she keeps her out of your hands or those of the Justice system. Or she gets arrested, and your daughter grows up with a parent in prison.”

He looked to Vertigal, then looked down.

I clapped my hands together. “I got it! An idea to make this nice and fair, Wisdom of Solomon- style.” I beckoned a servant over. “Bring me butcher knife.”

“No!” both supers yelled, rushing toward me. I held my open palms toward them and they stopped. It wasn’t nanites so much as authority.

“I assure you, I have no intentions of cutting your daughter in half.” I let that rest for a moment before adding. “I’m a hero killer after all. I’ll cut her father in half.”

Guards I’d silently summoned marched forth from behind Resolve, holding their microguns to his back. He reached down for his belt before remembering he was disarmed.

“Stop!” Vertigal put herself between myself and Resolve. “Please. Yes, he’s a prick, but he’s still my baby’s daddy. I don’t hate him, I suppose.”

I stepped down the steps toward her. “You would stand in the way of my decision to half him?”

She swallowed. “Please. A-and besides, killing him means the state can take Sara if I’m put in jail.”

I waved off the guards. They bowed, turned, and left. I circled around hero and villain like a shark. “Under an agreement your ex-wife has joined, she has every right to call for your death, Resolve. So you two are going to work this out. Vertigal’s on the run, so I’ll fix her up with disguises. Maybe a wig. Officially you’ve got custody because of your stunt, but she can at least be your babysitter. You can even claim it’s your ex paying for the sitter from on the run. Now shake on it.”

They turned and shook, at which point I came up and clapped them on their nearest shoulders. “Good. Now it’s time for the punishment.”

Resolve was aghast. “I thought you weren’t going to kill me?!”

I shrugged my shoulders even as I held him in place with a lower arm. “I’m not, no, but I was called upon to enact justice. And I will do so… for great justice!” I pointed a finger to the sky.

“You’re a villain! What do you care about justice?” Resolve asked. Vertigal looked at him and rolled her eyes.

I informed him that, “I’ll have you know I have quite the highly-developed sense of justice. That’s precisely why I’m a villain.”

Resolve shared a wordless look with Vertigal, who told him. “I’m in it for the money.”

“Fair enough,” I said. “Personally, the joy of hurting people was also a major part of it for me. You wouldn’t believe it. But yeah. You can’t just expose people’s identities, dude. If I let you get away with it, it sends a signal that it’s ok to do that. We can’t have that.”

That’s how we found ourselves out on the water in a small yacht that fell off the back of a truck somewhere. My wife joined us, bringing along tea and speaking with Vertigal. Citra’s a hell of a lot more diplomatic than myself. And nice to stare at in her two-piece. Vertigal’s not so bad herself, if a bit paler than I expected. Always fun to realize in the middle of eyeing someone’s ass that they’re admiring mine as well. Yep, I too changed into something better for the ocean, though I’ve been favoring one-pieces lately. So while Vertigal hopefully broached the subject of a threesome with my wife, I saw to making sure her husband wouldn’t be unmasking anyone else if he was in a position to do so. I got it on video as well, just so VillainNet could see the consequences.

They’ll probably watch it with sound off, considering I was singing as I rode a robo-shark. “Butterfly in the sky!” I said, arms spread wide. I squeezed the robo-shark’s saddle with my legs, feet hooked in stirrups. The whole shiver of sharks, as a group of such are called, circled Resolve, who tried to balance himself on a teeny-tiny inner tube that would sink if he put all his wait on top of it. Occasionally, one of the other sharks would come and give him a little nip. Just enough to tear some of his costume away. And my mount would leap out of the water, with me singing.

“I can go twice as high!” Chomp. “Take a look!” Chomp. “It’s in a book!” Chomp. “A reading rainbow!”

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