Category Archives: One Shots

Not necessarily the stories with the firmest connection, but not stories from elsewhere. These tales can theoretically be taken on their own.

Summer Sunnin’

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You’d think a gal could take a vacation without problems cropping up. I don’t just mean various day to day issues of running a dictatorship. Unlike a democracy, I actually have to be responsible to my people. If I screw up, I can’t blame another party that then has to fix my mess.

I mean just trying to relax. Have a good time. Like swimming. My family hung out at the beach a bit. It’s real popular. We have all these little boats that can go out there and set up awnings for shade or grills for cooking. I was out there, swimming with this big fruity drink in my hand that glowed bright green. Pretty sure that wasn’t a healthy radioactive glow, but it failed to set off either my internal Geiger counter or my Giger counter. The former measures radioactivity, the latter measures whether a substance contains an alien parasite that will try to mate with my mouth. I mean, aliens mating with my mouth aren’t a dealbreaker normally, but I’m still trying to make monogamy work.

Where were we? Swimming, right. I was out there with my nemesis-turned-girlfriend, my bribe-turned-daughter, and my ex-turned-bodyguard. At the moment, Medusa and Qiang were playing chicken with some other swimmers. Silver Shark was off doing something. Not sure. I saw her jumping onto a pad at one point to launch people into the air, but that had been before I picked up the bowl of liquor. I took a sip of my ridiculously large drink and felt a bump.

I looked down and saw a fin pass by under the shining water. Ah, that’s where Silver Shark went. She’s one of the ones who had a problem with my lack of monogamy after I blew a bunch of North Korean military officials to gain their loyalty. It bumped me again and I reached down to try and run my hand over the metal of her cybernetics. “Easy there, Shark. We aren’t that close anymore.”

A squeal of delight drew my attention to that big pad thing, where a kid splashed in the water and Silver Shark hopped off the pad.

Oh. Shark attack. I took a drink because I was gonna need it.

I turned to try and find the shark that had been bumping into me. A big fucking shark came right for my chest, eyes black, before it dived. Sharp teeth stabbed into my leg as I was dragged down. My ears caught screams before I was pulled under.

Bastard probably thought I’d just let the leg go. Someone bit into the wrong bitch. I grabbed the plastic cup my drink came in and broke it so that it was jagged. It wasn’t easy to keep track of what was going on with the water rushing around, but we seemed to be heading into deeper water. I went a-jabbin’ into that sleek undersea predator. I felt its jaws let up, but the fact that I was in front of it meant I didn’t get away. This time, it chomped down on the side of my belly. It hurt, but my body’s a tough piece of meat and metal. I stabbed into it for a handhold then bent toward it to bite it.

We must have taken a downward turn at some point, because I smacked into the bottom and threw up a bunch of sand. The shark let go and shook the front part of its body to get loose from me. It tried to swim away, but it found the steely grip of three of my arms holding onto its tail. Now it was my turn to smile and roll my eyes.

I can only imagine how it looked when that shark burst out of the water and flew through the air toward the shore. I know I didn’t look the best when I walked out of the water and toward the crowds. My leg and belly were bleeding. Medusa and Qiang ran up, my former nemesis now asking, “Are you ok?”

Qiang hugged onto me and I gave her a quick hug in return, saying, “Yeah, I’m fine. You should see the other guy. In fact, let’s go see the other guy.”

I walked past the concerned citizens gathered on the shore and grabbed someone’s folding beach chair. I folded it up while pushing past the crowd that gathered around the shark itself. I looked down on the floundering finned fiend and started whacking it over and over again with the side of the chair. When that broke apart, I tossed it down and looked around for something else. Someone held a bottle of sake out for me, so I grabbed that, sipped some, then started beating the shark with the bottle.

It died eventually. I like to think it wasn’t entirely from being on land. Someone offered to make me a special dinner of shark fin soup, but I declined and threw the shark over my shoulder. “Hey, Qiang, wanna go with me to the taxidermist?”

“What’s a taxidermist?” my daughter asked.

“It’s where grown-ups go to make stuffed animals out of things they hit with their car. Only they don’t cuddle them or hug them or play with them. They just stick them on a wall.”

“Mama, are you going to be ok?” she asked.

I patted her on the head. “I’m just fine. You can stay here and play with Medusa and the others if you want.”

Reassured, she ran over and grabbed Medusa’s hand to lead her back to the water. Medusa looked at me concerned, but ultimately decided I knew what I was talking about. So I dragged the shark off with me.

“Yep,” I told Mix N’Max later, in my bathroom. We were in my hot tub, soaking. I pointed up at the shark mounted on the wall overhead. “I caught one that big once.”

“Stop it, you’re making that up,” he told me.

“Ah!” said Holly, one of his assistants, as she stepped into the room and saw the shark on the wall. “Oh my god. You put a shark in your bathroom.”

“Let me see!” called Sam, his other assistant, who ran into the room and seemed disappointed. “Oh, a dead one.”

That wasn’t the only interruption either. I was out on a date with Medusa, which was a raincheck after she missed our last one to go wreck a concentration camp over in the States. She was treating me all gentle and all after the shark attack. Normally, and quite predictably, I don’t tend to like people babying me, but I liked it in this context. The way she held me in her strong, muscular arms.

Then she got a call from one of her hero buddies. I listened in from the other side of the dinner table as she asked for details about something. She gave me a sheepish look when she hung up. “I’m sorry, but I have to go.”

“You do? There aren’t any other heroes in places that speak English?” I asked, wagging a piece of steak at her.

“It’s one of those grey areas that known heroes can’t mess around with. It’s that Deputy Program they implemented. Portland PD’s got an arms deal set up with another group like the one that got into that shoot-out at the mall last week. I want to put the fear of God into cops selling off evidence and armories while claiming they’re deputizing white supremacists.”

I folded my lower pair of arms across my chest while continuing to eat with my upper arms. That’s another great thing about having extra arms. I can show my disapproval while still shoving food into my mouth. “Fine. Arachnoid might want to help out, while you’re at it.” She clapped her hands and stood up. I sighed, but felt a little better when she bent down to give me a quick kiss.

“I’ll be back as soon as possible, don’t worry. Besides, we had half a dinner,” she said, before rushing off to go help people or whatever nonsense she was up to these days. It’d gotten a lot easier for her ever since we got the tele-chambers set up. The scientists used the data I stole from that other dimension to figure out a way to create an intradimensional portal. It was a hell of a strain on the island’s power supply, but we put a hell of a lot of work into that system having its own separate power supply. We’re really growing all the way around over here, and the ability to teleport people anywhere in the world or call them back has helped tremendously. So have the Deep Ones. Without them and other refugees, we’d be terribly understaffed.

So with her off, I was left to finish my meal with the prospect of having both dessert and “dessert” alone. As it was, I took my time with the first and ended up trying to survive overeating by catching up on the island’s news. That was interrupted by an alert on my internal HUD that started just as the ground started shaking. I thought it was an earthquake at first, until a big white mass of fur slammed through the ceiling of the restaurant nearby, knocking my table over and me out of my booth.

I looked up at the thing, which quickly raised up. More of the ceiling fell in under an even bigger and longer white-furred thing the size of a car. I connected to the city’s drones and cameras to see what the hell was attacking the restaurant. I beheld a giant bunny, thirty feet long if you didn’t count the head. I was going to give its height, but it sat up on its haunches and looked around, which made the length the same as the height in my book. It hopped, crushing another building under its weight. People ran, screaming in terror as it leaned down to nibble at the top of a tree.

I answered the alert from the Institute of Science and Dr. Creeper, its head. “Creeper, why is there a giant bunny running amok in my city?”

“I have here the scientist to blame for it, ja,” he said in his faux-German accent. “He has been a naughty boy, experimenting with a food additive meant to increase the size of animals who eat it. It is meant for livestock, but this is too far!”

“Huh. That’s actually kind of impressive. While I’m unhappy with the immediate result, I think he’s on to something. We’ll discuss this more once I’ve killed Thumper here,” I said, calling a Dudebot to carry my armor to me and putting the military on red alert. They always knew, being so close to Japan, they might have to deal with a giant monster. I doubt they expected it to be a rabbit. Someone lost the betting pool, I’m certain.

“You can’t do that!” Creeper yelled.

“What? Why? Is it important for the experiments? The only survivng sample of whatever caused this? Will it explode into a pair of rabbits half as big over and over again?” I asked.

“It’s so cute,” he answered.

I took a moment to think about the reason my Science head was giving for not killing a giant rabbit causing hare-raising terror in my city. As if on cue, it jumped a few more times, tearing a swath of destruction and flipping a bus that landed with an explosion. I told Dr. Creeper, “That’s not a good enough reason,” and clambered my way out of the restaurant.

The Dudebot met me, having jumped from the palace with my armor that I pulled closed around me. The robot doppelganger of mine wouldn’t fool anyone up on how my latest armor looked, but it had two arms and all the usefulness of my prior suit, so it was still worth keeping around. I jumped onto Big Bunny’s head and grabbed its ear. At the same time, the Dudebot made for its front paw and tried to pull it out of the way so we could topple this lagomorph. The bunny shook its head, jerking me around, then turned and kicked the Dudebot halfway to China.

I grabbed onto its fur and gave it a mighty punch that knocked its head down. It responded by rolling over and trying to crush me into a car. I let go and it rolled back over, exposing its belly to me. I flew up with a punch that caused it to jump and kick at the air, barely missing me while I fell. I landed on the front of the car and rolled backward off it, a little winded. The bunny recovered as well, but its fur stuck out when it landed and a portion of the city went dark. It hopped forward again, off whatever power lines it had been on, and started trying to shake that out. I threw a car at it. It bounced off, but the bunny began to flee. It made for one of the island’s skyscrapers and actually began to scramble up the thing, its fluffy paws smashing through glass as it lifted itself up straining steel. If that thing tipped over, it would do a lot of damage. I jumped after it, the sight of Psycho Flyers in the air making me grin.

They’d named the VTOL aircraft after me. The heavily-armed transports opened up on the bunny, firing machine guns and unleashing rockets into the white body of the rabbit, that began to turn black from the attacks.

At the base of the tower, I felt pretty useless until I found a pretty young woman frozen in terror. I grabbed her, and also that guy she was with, and gave them a push in the right direction, which was away. “The first rule of giant monster attacks is not to stand still near the thing and stare at the giant monster!” I yelled after them. Then I noticed it was getting darker. I looked up to see a burnt white mass descending upon me, filling the entire sky from my perspective.

When I did manage to crawl out, it was next to some amateur reporter streaming from his phone. “I think it crushed the evil dictator here to death. It wasn’t the Flyers’ fault. It was bunny that killed the beast.”

“Who are you calling a beast, asshole?” I grunted, prompting him to flee.

Fucking tourists.

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Attack On Titan Labs

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The helicopter hovered over an otherwise-unimpressive building in the southern burrough of Empyreal City. I looked down on it, briefly wondering if they’d renamed the neighborhood recently. Blow it up, rebuild it, blow it up, rebuild it. So much of the city’s been replaced recently, it seems pretty meaningless to keep the same name.

I jumped out of the helicopter. The cape didn’t do much to break my fall, though the glass skylight and vinyl floor helped. I landed in an upstairs hallway of the fifth-story. Five above ground, two below. My target would be aboveground. As I looked around to figure out which way to go, I caught a glimpse of the place’s logo: a giant handing fire to really tiny people. They’d taken the size connotations of the name “titan” quite literally when depicting Prometheus. It’s a good thing for them I don’t keep eagles, otherwise I’d be tempted to emulate more of that legend.

No alarms went off as I headed down the hallway. My sudden approach may have been surprising and destructive, but this wasn’t like a lab developing chemical weapons or advanced AI. Everything I’d read about Titan Labs showed it to be the kind of place trying to revolutionize life in less violent ways. Food production, non-toxic lubricants and cleaners, and better water purification. I hear ya on that last point. I don’t like seafood anyway, let alone when they’re loaded full of anti-depressants and birth control pills.

A place like this probably had security that would look into the helicopter and my sudden arrival, but I didn’t expect anything too tough to handle. I’d landed on the cleaning level. The worst challenge ahead of me was the testing they did in the hallway. I came around a corner to the elevator and spotted a pair of people in coveralls, with hoods, surgical masks, and bags covering their shoes. They ran for it away from me, then dove and slid along the floor. Vinyl floor is a little conducive to sliding, but these people just went on and on and on. Further along the hallway, two groups of people in similar outfits cheered the slider on their side as they approached. A quick check of the rangefinder showed the finish lines were a hundred and fifty yards from where they started. It wasn’t a question of if they’d make it, but which one first?

I’ll have to raid this place again if I give myself a truly massive wang. In the meantime, I had a scientist to kidnap. I put on some music, an older song called “Old Time Rock & Roll” and ran for the elevators. They were along the corridor that had been slid along. I found out how that worked as I got close and felt my feet try to fly out from under me just as the piano was starting up. I maintained control long enough to stay on my feet, but skidded right past the elevator. I had to punch into the wall and stop myself, then flying myself back that way. The second pass of the piano and the elevators worked out.

Truth is, that kind of lubricant would make an astounding area denial weapon. It’d make an attempt to sneak up or charge into risky business.

The people were puzzled by my appearance, but the approach of the racers proved more important. Before I could hit the call button for the elevator, it lit up with an arrival. I stepped to the side and projected invisibility. It’s not so much invisibility as an extremely accurate projection of the environment around me on different sides to the extent that it doesn’t look like I’m there. It worked wonderfully on the two guards who stepped briskly out of the elevator and onto the floor, then landed hard on their asses.

I didn’t have to hide from them, but then I’d have missed moments like this. I stepped in and pushed the door close button until it finally closed on me. Once that was done, I scanned the corners of it for a camera. Found the little son of a gun and pulled out a spray can. The monitor watching it would have gone dark almost instantaneously, followed by a little bit of additional white letters that read “Out Of Order”. Once I’d finished that little masterpiece, I dipped the brush in some odorless paint thinner and beat it off against the corner of the elevator, ending the invisibility projection in the process.

They’d installed one of those security keycard readers to restrict people’s movements to whichever floor they were headed to. I slipped off a glove and fingered the slot until my body worked its magic. “When I get that feelin’, I need sexual healin’,” I said, cutting the music in my head. But only after I’d already done some singing, for safety’s sake. I didn’t have the external speakers on, or else the infrasound of my voice may have caused vomiting, headaches, and anal leakage. It was a tight fit, getting my fingers in there, but the biological merge worked and let me worm into the system.

They didn’t make it as simple as labeling the floors, but I had time to fight my way through if need be. And I hoped no one would be stupid enough to work on water purification on the upper stories of a building with unrelated labs underneath it. You’re asking for a flood.

Next floor had some special restrictions in place to keep people out. Seemed as good a place as any to start. It turned out to be amazingly white and clean. The place looked new, except for the polished bones of a skeleton laying on the floor. Maybe it’s some sort of statement about effectiveness? I didn’t have to guess long. I tossed a sphere the size of a baseball out that bounced off the wall and landed on the floor. The clear plastic rolled along, an internal pair of cameras staying parallel with the floor. If I can take an eyeball out and use it to scout a room, I could afford to make a cheap scout capable of moving on its own.

It moved along, rear and fore cameras giving me a remote view. Before I could even really get that far along, though, a siren approached it. One of those thick disc robots, like a giant Roomba, came around the corner in front of it. The thing shot my scout with a hard stream of some gunk that began to dissolve the plastic around it. Then it moved forward to finish the job with scrubbing brushes.

It appears I’d wandered into some sort of testing zone for cleaners. I think they’d made the stuff a bit too strong if it can eat through plastic. A mite indiscriminate too, if the skeleton’s any indication. While a fun diversion, though, these were not the droids I was looking for.

The next floor was more my style. My armor detected high levels of methane and shit almost immediately. Fertilizer. Could cause a lot of chaos if I grabbed that cleaner bot… but nah, I still needed to make sure this was the right place. Just in case this floor had patrolling robotic cows that destroy scout drones, I tossed a few of them out. They spread out along a few corridors, but I soon found the place was primarily centered around a few large rooms where all the action happened. It was a little bit like the farming cult back on my island of Ricca.

I stepped out to see what plants they were messing with in these indoor fields.

On one side of me bloomed a gigantic cocoon, or so I took it for at first. As my gaze traveled up it and I saw the cocoon had split, I found myself staring at a corn cob. A humongous corn cob. And despite the size of the cob and the leaves, the kernels were all of normal size. On the other side of the hallway, cocoa pods hung from trees growing beside sugarcane plants, but it wasn’t a greenhouse. There were no heaters, no stronger lights. I slid a window open and my armor registered a decent 74 Fahrenheit.

“Cool beans,” I said while poking a cocoa pod.

Suddenly, a door at the end of this corridor opened and a man stepped out. “What’s this?” he asked. At the same time, he pulled out an eggplant and threw it at me. Not threatened by eggplants, I didn’t try to do anything in particular other than swat it aside. It burst and poured thick purple smoke around. I ran on through and caught a tangerine that exploded, presumably with flavor as well as concussive force. It knocked me back a step, I must admit, but then I ducked low and kept on going. I could see the fruit chucker pulling back to toss a watermelon at me, so I went to go re-invisible and found the projectors had been stained and unable to function.

He didn’t have enough oomph to get the watermelon very far. It fell and broke apart into a mass of vines. The reached up and grabbed me as I jumped over. Part of the melon grew up and opened into halves, showing off rows of dark seeds that gleamed wet. That was a surprise, so I used one of my own. A cable shot out from under my left forearm. It lit up with electricity as I whipped it from side to side, slicing through the watermelonster. I retracted it, then pulled the vines off.

The fellow assaulting me with plants tried to run past, but I shot out the cable again, sans electricity, to knock him off his feet.

“Please don’t hurt me!” he shouted as I pulled him up to his feet.

“Hurt you?” I brushed him off. “This was pretty fun, actually.” I looked him straight in the face, getting a positive ID. “Dr. Quincy, I see. Just the man I was looking for. Nice to meet you.”

“Are you here to kill me?” he asked.

I shook my head. “Don’t be ridiculous. I’m here to offer you a job.” I punched him in the gut just enough to double him over, then whipped out the zip ties. With him secure, I had time enough to break into his computer and steal as many files as possible. He even had a refrigerator there with important-looking samples. I laid Dr. Quincy against it,

I saw the elevators ding open and a large force of security guards take up position. I distracted them with the scout bots rolling under foot to trip them up. Then I radioed the helicopter. “I’m ready. Set depth for floor three and then drop.”

Above me, the crew of the chopper punched in the setting on the barrel of a rocket tube and fixed a cable from a spool to a hook on the rear of it. The lackey aimed down at where an augmented reality site showed I’d set a target. They fired, launching a tapered rocket at the building that fixed onto the target. It punched through two floors, creating a larger hole in its wake. Then it bounced against the floor there in front of me. I dragged Dr. Quincy and his sample fridge out, attached both to the metal end, and gave it a tug.

The device had been designed to hold the weight of my armor plus another person, so a small refrigerator didn’t hurt it. I just didn’t go up with it. I jumped through after it, landed on the roof, then made the leap up to the chopper on my own to help load the wriggling, panic scientist in.

“Trust me, Doc. You’ll love your new country,” I assured him. “Plenty of room to grow all these nifty plants, and you’ll live well. Yep, you’ll be shitting in high cotton. Just not in the cotton you design to smother people when they least expect it, alright?”

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