After wrecking a casino and killing a bunch of people, it’s amazing how word spreads about you. It probably had to do with the city have a few important centers, like the casino. The places that kept the lights on at night. It made them easy to find when the lights were out, which was a good thing for any looking to attract customers. It kinda worked against them when a hostile new power arrived. That’d be me!
The next place I stopped off at turned out to be the Pleasure Palace. That’s my name for it. At the ground level, it offered decent restaurants, booths in which to rest and shoot up, and cheap hookers. So cheap you don’t have to call them call girls while they’re still alive. Plus, equal opportunity as it was, they offered men, too.
I walked into that one, dragging a heavy gold axe along to scrape over the rugs they’d thrown down over cracked tile floor. This entrance attracted attention. “Ok, you sons of whores, I’m here to kill ya!”
That statement sent various men running for cover, but not all. There were even some youngsters who halted their pickpocketing in order to run.
“That’s not what I meant!” I yelled. “Whoever’s in charge here, I’m lookin’ for a man…”
I’d barely gotten the words out when a line of men jogged out wearing little more than loincloths. While surprisingly diverse in skin color and ethnicity, the oldest was probably in his late twenties. The youngest stoked my desire to murder and maim someone. Funny thing was, most people didn’t seem to give a crap about murderous intent so long as it wasn’t directed at them. My glare hidden under my helmet, I stepped over to the nearest employee and pulled her head off a fellow’s cock.
“’Scuse me, ladycakes, you look real busy here.” The man in question yelled at me in a language my translator hadn’t yet figured out until I kicked him through a wall. I sat down in his place, the woman moving to try and find a way into my pants. “I was just looking for someone important to talk toooOO… in a few minutes at least. Or however long. Take your time.”
Ok, I may have given her a hand getting in my pants.
After all that, she led me upstairs, past a fine dining restaurant, hotel, and to an elegant brothel. She led me past rooms that weren’t quite soundproof enough to an office in the rear, not even knocking before opening the door for me. “Madame Moth, the stranger is here.”
The woman behind the desk looked young except for her white hair. She rose with an enchanting and modest smile on her lips. Her modest gown covered a lot more than what her employees went about in below, save for a hint of neckline. “Take a seat,” she cooed between glossy pink plump lips. No, seriously. Normally, when something says a person cooed, I don’t understand it at all. Was it supposed to be done like baby talk? Well, kinda. Soft, gentle, and sweet. It wasn’t just the voice, though. Fatigue hit me like a ton of dildoes. Also like a ton of dildoes, my legs felt weak and I had trouble standing afterward. My eyes wanted to close, and everything relaxed on me. I damn near pissed myself, and I definitely dropped the golden axe.
I had to steady myself with all four arms on a chair in front of me. Madame Moth walked around and pulled out the chair next to it, then guided me down into it. She put her hands on my neck and stroked her fingertips lightly across my neck and shoulders. I kept blinking, trying to keep my eyes open while she lowered her face next to my head. “Good. Relax. Stop fighting, four-armed stranger.”
I rolled my head around a bit. “Mmm, won’t stop as much as you think.”
She kissed the side of my helmet and whispered to me, “You don’t want to hurt me.”
I shrugged. “Not at first, but I’m getting there. I just came here looking for a drug runner named Feng.”
She ran her nails along the back of my neck and helmet, really digging in them so I could feel anything at all through the material and my hair. “What do you want with him?”
“That’s really between the two of us. Depends on how willing he is to talk.” I stopped talking to yawn. “I’m really just here for information and have enough spare gold to carry around an axe of the stuff. Make of that what you will.”
“What is it worth to you to meet him?” she asked me.
“I have a golden axe,” I reiterated.
“Is it pure gold?” she asked.
I slumped down to grab it, feeling like I didn’t have a lot of bone left to help me do much. If I didn’t have the armor, there’s no way I’d have been able to plop it into my lap. “Feels like it to me.”
Madame Moth ran hand down my side and over my thighs to rest on the axe’s handle.
“You want it?” I asked. She moved to look me in my eyes through the helmet, grinning. “Just tell me where he is.”
“I can arrange a meeting for the two of you. But who will I say has called on him?” She kissed my forehead. She stayed with me while some of her men came and took the axe, thwarting my sudden but inevitable murder of her with the axe. It was going to be so perfect. At least she didn’t try anything more than that. Her relaxation superpower let me vulnerable, but I was sure I could overcome it in a pinch to start killing. And if I needed backup, I had my guys waiting for me just outside the city. Hu sent over a flyer to relive the pilots I’d had and ensuring I was better equipped for life in this city.
I called up the pilots without speaking on my end. “Hey dudes, they got a lady who makes people sleepy here, so I’m gonna start checking in like every five minutes. If I miss a check in, I need y’all to fly to my beacon and light it the fuck up.”
“Right on,” I signed off. Then, and only then, did I give her her answer. “Psycho Gecko of Ricca. How we doin’ this, princess?”
Madame Moth said something to the girl who was still with us. That one finally left to go do whatever she needed to do. Madame Moth instead decided to sit at her desk in front of me, looking me over. “We get someone making this claim from time to time, but the message I passed along indicates my belief you are telling the truth.”
“That’s convenient. Or you just want me to believe you believe it while you enact your nefarious plan.”
She sat her chin on the back of one hand while the other dangled in front of her, moving in a circular motion. “Those I have seen make the claim typically do so to avoid fighting a dozen men. They do not slaughter them effortlessly for entertainment.”
“You’re welcome,” I said, giving her a little wave.
She looked at me for a bit before pulling a laptop over and typing away on it. Tsk, tsk. Not as secure as she hoped, that one. But what she was doing looked to nonsense. Pretending to type while playing Minesweeper. Once again, I contacted my team. “Launch drones and bring the flyer up to support me, firing on targets I designate.”
I pushed myself up to my feet with titanic effort. Madame Moth swept her hand gently downward. “Please, sit.”
I almost passed out, which screwed up my alternative idea of using my implants to control my limbs directly. I just wanted to take a nap, and so I slid back into the chair. Even the point when Madame Moth’s fingers touched my helmet and found the trick to sliding it down my head only caused me to push weakly with my chin. “Our cameras can’t be controlled the way you control nanites and machines from afar. Let me help you out of your armor for the meeting. He will be down shortly.”
Damn prostitutes, always showing off how to get in my pants. I struggled to open one eye and saw Madame Moth looking me right in the face. She had pretty eyes. Shame she had to lose one. Helmet out of the way, I activated the laser hidden in my eye, stopping short of killing her. I’m technically not supposed to be killing supers now, or even maiming. And I did just put her eye out. Guess I’ll just have to kill her to cover up having maimed her.
I jumped to my feet as she collapsed in pain, crying curses. Both of us, I mean. She was cussing me out for her eye, I was fucking glad to shed my exhaustion and relaxation.
Before I could finish Moth off, though, the door was opened by a man in a white, Chinese-style jacket, tangzhuang. Past the man who opened it was a whole crowd of men dressed similarly, with Feng in the middle with a Mandarin Nehru-style suit to show he was no plebe. He looked a lot like his picture, except he’d decided to grow a mustache and longer sideburns. In the augmented reality view, he was designated as a priority one capture target. I designated the others as target practice. The one at the door’s head exploded like a melon when I gave him the laser full force right in the middle of his skull. The next one raised a gun to aim for my head, but I jumped and took the shot to the boob instead. If they wanted to keep me docile, that wasn’t the way to do it. The pain cut through the remaining tiredness and energized me.
I landed and grabbed the wood chair I’d been sitting in by the legs, pulling it apart. I pounced on him, knocking him down, and jammed pointy wood into his chest and face over and over. I looked up in time to see four shotguns leveled in my direction with Feng beating a hasty retreat down the hallway. “Don’t move. We have you!” shouted the closest. I pulled the guy I was on in front of me and tried to turn my unprotected head away. The roar of guns went off and didn’t stop for five seconds, after which I dropped the dead body to look at the shredded hallway. A pair of drones burst in front my right, the direction the Psycho Flyer fired from.
While I ran to catch him, the drones quickly caught up to our fleeing friend, Mr. Feng. One hovered around in front of him, my voice speaking through it. “Go ahead and try it.” Feng put his hands up and backed away from the drone in front of him before tripping over the drone I’d directed down to his knees.
I knelt down and smiled at him. “It was nice of you to offer me a meeting on your terms. Your Madame here made quite the impression. That’s why we’ll talk on my terms.” I grabbed him and hauled him up and over to the torn-up wall. A cry of rage alerted me to Madame Moth’s continued presence. I actually chuckled seeing her standing there in the doorway, hand over her eyes. The exhaustion hit me again and a drone hit her in the gut at ramming speed. I jumped for the open hatch of the Psycho Flyer in front of me with Mr. Feng snoring along, leaving her and her whores to tire out anyone else they want but me.
Unless she plans to come after me, drawn like a moth to the pain.