Tag Archives: Apollo

Hare-Brained 11

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It didn’t help me get sleep. Maybe it was the lack of endorphins related to killing those particular people, but the tension was still there. Took something a lot stronger than Max’s medicated beer to help ease me out of it. Like some diazepam, and the soothing sounds of a Korean woman saying words in Japanese while moving around. Upon reflection, to people who don’t know about it, that probably looks like some weird fetish stuff instead of a way to relax.

I was quite surprised when I dreamed I was in some room at Master Academy. I looked down to see a pair of boobs I recognized, but only two arms, holding a power suppression collar. I looked up when I heard Venus saying, “This is a lot to ask me to believe.” I looked up and saw we were in an office. She was seated across from myself and… Ares. I thought they found parts of his, but maybe that doesn’t matter so much. The guy had an arm of metal, as natural as if he was just made of the stuff. Perhaps he can regenerate eternal, shiny and chrome. He still looked old, but instead of wearing some old leather vest and sandals, the old man wore bronze hoplite armor, with a bronze helmet sat in his lap. Behind him, at the door, stood several other supers I recognized from around the school, and a few who I have to assume are newer ones based on context.

“After the murder of our peace delegation, I would have no other reason to come before you about this,” Ares said, glowering at her.

“That was Psycho Gecko, not me. He… she’s unreliable and paranoid,” Venus said.

“She should be. Barkiel tried to use my death to justify a measure we cannot take. When I showed myself, he called for the visitors to back him and do it by force. When that failed, he tried coup by robot and tried to destroy us with a small nuclear weapon. Something is very wrong, and I am here to offer our surrender on all your points that are possible while we uncover what has happened over the past months.”

“The god of war asks for peace,” Venus said. She took a moment to look at him. “You said he was trying to call for some measure. What’s going on? Are we about to be hit by some sort of weapon?”

Ares closed his eyes and massaged his nose with a pair of fingers. “There was a god who transgressed against the rest of us and sought to take control over the pantheons. He began consuming healers to absorb their powers and to cow us by keeping our peoples from healing. A group of them allied with the Hindu pantheon to lure him into an ancient prison for gods. The prisoners inside rebelled. It almost failed, but the last of them sealed the way out.”

“You wanted to put us in the prison?” Venus asked.

Ares shook his head, “When we first created our agreement with our human descendants and the visitors to keep our existence a secret and protect Earth, we realized the prisoner, Mot, could be what was needed to cull people with powers.”

Mot. FUUUUUCK.

Ares went on, “The visitors have been more aggressive ever since supervillains started breaking out of prisons all over the world. I think Barkiel’s snapped. Worse, he knows where Naraka is.”

“Where?” I asked as Dame.

Ares looked to me, then to Venus, “I would rather not say.”

“We can help guard it from Barkiel,” Venus said. “Consider it one of the conditions of your surrender.”

“The Hindu prison Naraka is underneath one our shrines in Varanasi, marked by a symbol of three hares chasing each other around in a circle.”

Within Dame’s mind, I got a flash of memory. Barkiel relaying a message on behalf of this Council. “Play along. Give him locations, but warn us first. We want to control where he goes instead of allowing him to pick randomly. Use this map, but not any of the sites I’ve crossed out.”

I remember the map he showed Dame on a monitor. Munich was one of the crossed-out sites. Others included the storage depot I told Venus about. Varanasi, India didn’t have any information about it, even for Dame to see.

“Dame, are you alright?” asked Venus. “Maybe you should put that back on.” She pointed to Dame’s power collar.

I smiled with Dame’s mouth. “Sure thing.” I dropped the collar accidentally on purpose, and reached for Dame’s cell while picking it back up. A ringing in my head helped bring me back to my own body that fought through the drug-induced drowsiness to answer hang up on Dame’s call.

So now I knew where Barkiel was. And, more importantly, I knew this had something to do with Mot. I injected myself with nanites to clear up the sluggishness while I put on my armor, two legs at a time. Because even when I’m a woman, I am a god among men.

I did two things on my way out of the palace. First, I left a note for Qiang, telling her I’ll be back and not to let everyone make a mess. Then I shut off the water to the kitchen sink and pulled it out of the wall. I carried it like a club as I headed to the missile base, where my ordinance technicians were already clearing space out of a missile. The techs all bowed as I helped myself into the rocket, with one ready to shut and seal the hatch of the capsule. But before he did, he asked, “Any further instructions, Empress?” I buzzed him with a pair of drones that I flew in.

“Yes, hand me those two rockets there,” I told him. He dutifully handed me a couple of those rockets a person could stand on that I’d never ended up selling as a means of personal conveyance. “Good, now prepare for trouble, and make it double, once this rocket’s blasting off again.”

He looked puzzled but nodded, “As you wish, Empress.” I fired off a message to his superiors anyway ordering Psycho Flyers deployed to India to pick me up and mop-up whatever was going to go down.

Rockets are fast, that’s for sure. You can get moving much faster than jets in these bad boys, and make all sorts of distance if you’re willing to hit the outer atmosphere. The reason they aren’t that popular a method has more to do with the fact that the human body has trouble going that fast and that high. Bones break, you have trouble breathing, there are pressure concerns. That’s not even touching on the landing. By the time the rocket itself broke off and obliterated itself, the nanites were having to extract my tailbone from my throat and patch me up. And while I could have made a capsule designed for travel given a little bit of time, I was rushing here. Venus, Ares, and the whole lot of people who are supremely pissed at me probably knew I was on my way to Naraka.

I had to beat them there, so I rushed the rocket and had to break my way out of the capsule. Two hands on the kitchen sink, and with a hand each on my rockets, I hopped out and let them slow my fall.

The Naraka Shrine was in another walled-off courtyard with tents and shakes. Folks were milling about, with the tall robots Barkiel used standing guard at the gates and doorway to the shrine. Black but for glowing red accents and a big red oval on their faces, they held up arms ending in plasma cannons as big as some people’s heads. And they were keeping them trained on the people in the courtyard, who had definitely noticed me. Some little kid was there, hopping up and down. “Look, up in the sky! Who is it?”

The robots all turned as one to aim at me, so I let go of the rockets and dropped, letting the blue plasma pass harmlessly overhead. I tried to land standing, with bent knees. The weight of the armor and force of the landing took me down to a knee. Not the best position to be in when eight big-ass robots decide you’d make a good torch.

The closest two got a rocket through their heads and collapsed. From out of my cape flew the drones, a pair of laser drones this time. They carved through the next pair who advanced on me. I used my stance to jump, then flying over a blast to knock the crap out of one of them, then turn and send the next closet smashing into the outer wall. Before it could pull itself out of the indentation it left, I had run forward and impaled it through the midsection.

Behind me, another pair of robots lined up for shots. I turned with the impaled one and caught a pair of blasts with its body, watching him melt away with each shot. The rockets looped around in the sky and came down, tearing through their heads and torsos to pin the wreckage to the ground. I dumped the remains of the impaled robot next to them and quipped, “Vlad to see me?”

I spun when I saw the Hares coming closer, but they didn’t SEEM hostile. One older man raised his hands up. “Thank you! We thought he would kill us before the Council could send help?”

“Who?” I asked.

He pointed into the shrine. “He’s one of the Visitors; said he was the Captain now. He ordered his robots to keep us under guard for what comes next.”

Food for Mot. Yummy. I shared Barkiel’s desire to see them dead, but if any of them had powers, it’d just make Mot stronger, IF he got out. And he wasn’t supposed to get out. I was supposed to have had 30 years to prepare for him, according to the Future Venus from that timeline who spared my life in the hopes it would change the future. So the timeline’s changed… yay.

I headed in and found more robots. Less sarcastic yay! I turned a corner and found myself facing a couple of them guarding a door. I jumped up and hooked my legs around one’s neck, twisting around to wrap a pair of my arms around the second’s neck. I’d hoped to twist the heads off, but I couldn’t bring enough strength to bear for that. Instead, we all tumbled down. They both aimed their cannons at me, so I grabbed them and kindly adjusted their aim just in time to see them put holes in each other.

That room had more captives who were eager to get out of there and I let them. Mot and Barkiel were more important.

Down the hallway, down a staircase, because if they’d imprisoned someone in the air I’d have noticed. Trailing drones, I found myself in a long, dark corridor with a pair of heavy stone doors halfway open on the other end and a couple robots on the other side. They spotted me. Instead of trying to fight, they started pushing the doors closed on me. The drones began to move in a circle, chasing each other in front of me, lasers carving through the door. I charged up the energy sheaths on all four gauntlets as I ran.

When I hit the cut portion of the door, it flew inward, nailing those robots to the opposite wall, which looked to be rough cave wall. To my right was a gentle stone slope that humanity hadn’t built, though it had left skidmarks on. Tread marks, I mean.

I also heard the sound of fighting from up ahead. I started charging the energy sheaths on my upper arms just in case. Around the bend, I saw Apollo hopping around, all nimbly-bimbly, like a cat. He had on a leather outfit with a skirt like something they’d expect me to wear in a fantasy game, but he just jumped around shooting his light arrows from his bow a gleaming blue and nickel machine menace.

It was Barkiel, I saw, in walker armor. Like with power armor, it’s my hands and feet in the boots. His armor was a good twelve feet tall, with his head sticking out of the neck. He probably had his arms and legs down the arms and legs of the armor, but he wouldn’t lose a hand if it did. I thought his exposed head would make him easy pickings until a light arrow sparked and disappeared against a dome that appeared out of nowhere around his head when it got close. Apollo reached out with his spare hand and another field lit up, glowing red, tight around Barkiel’s face.

The alien laughed. “Like my latest apparatus?” A grenade shot up from over his shoulder, bounced against the roof of the cave, and exploded into a thick cloud of black smoke. He jumped to the side, jets igniting on the soles and belt of the armor. When the smoke cleared, Apollo had taken up a new position but was firing nowhere near Barkiel.

The real Barkiel had raised both arms toward Apollo, the ends glowing. Trailing sparks, I skidded between his legs, bouncing my head off the invisible field as I passed too close to him. When he fired, the energy sheaths around my gauntlets absorbed some of the power for the suit’s back-up batteries and deflected the rest at the ceiling. We all looked up for a second to see if this stalactite was going to fall, but nothing. Then Barkiel looked past me to Apollo, who had now turned to focus on the real one. “Is she with you?”

“I thought she was with you,” Apollo said, eyeing me.

“Apparatus. Helping me hunt down you Hares, helping me escape, attacking your own people. You’ve been playing all sides here, haven’t you!” I yelled.

“Ha!” he spat the laugh at me. A quartet of missile tubes rolled over onto his left shoulder from behind his back. “You made such a great enemy, but if you’d like to make up, why not kiss under the missile?” He fired the tubes, but lasers spilled out from one of my flanking drones to detonate them close to him. His shield caught most of it, but I think a little bit was inside it. It looked like we scraped the paint on his ride.

The other drone fired at him from behind, aiming for center mass. The thing wasn’t really agile enough to get us along with it. Apollo leapfrogged me and fired his own arrows at the guy. I stepped out of his path and charged for Barkiel.

A wave of force went out from the walker in all directions, pushing me back enough to halt my run, knocking one of Apollo’s arrows into him, and throwing my drones into the walls of the cavern to their destruction. “I couldn’t have done it without you, Gecko!” I continued my charge and split off a couple holograms, one to dodge to my left, another to stay in place, and then me branching off to the right. Something flew off the chest of Barkiel’s armor and right through the middle Gecko, but I stopped, armor shaking, and flew back until I was suspended over it. I couldn’t reach out without getting pulled back into a huddled bunch.

“You sent the bomb, didn’t you!” I yelled at the extraterrestrial asshole.

“Yeeessss!” He said, sweeping his arms after Apollo. The god tried to outrun it, but then Barkiel just moved his left arm to the side quicker and took him off at the knees. At least Apollo ducked the second beam before it could take off his head. He disappeared in a flash of light then, leaving me alone with Barkiel. “See? He ran and left you to me.”

Barkiel looked at me and winked, then hit the jets on his suit and flew it to a wall I hadn’t been paying particular attention to. “I’ve been on this planet for so long. You have no idea.”

“Why are you letting out Mot? He’ll kill everyone!” I said. Weird to hear me object to something like that.

“I want to go home,” Barkiel said, stepping up to wall with actual stones laid out in around a round center stone, like a sun. He touched the center one, which slowly lit up with a glowing overlay of white light and ancient runes. “I never wanted to be stuck on this backwards planet. We have that in common, don’t we?” He tried to look back at me but couldn’t turn his head all the way.

Whatever this thing was, I had no access. None to his suit or that wall, either. The only machine I could still connect to outside of my suit was a drone that wasn’t getting airborne anytime soon. I tried it anyway, watching it hop around. The laser still seemed usable, though. “I’m trying to remember… this threat that some of the Earthlings believe in if they’re exposed or… Sam said if Earth got too advanced or there were too many supers…”

He cut me off before I could slowly work it out to cover up the sounds of my drone hopping around. “Yes. If Earth is a threat, my people will get off their lazy, aristocrat asses and deal with the upstarts. That is my ride off this rock of ignorant savages. You can leave as well. In fact, do you want to come with?”

“No,” I said. “I left my world, but my world sucked. It sounds like yours does too if they give so few shits about you. This is my home. I have a family here, and friends. How long have you been here stewing instead of doing anything?”

“Fif. Teen. Hundred. Years,” he said. The blocks around the central one lit up. He started tapping on one and the light flew into the center. “Fifteen hundred years with dirty monkey men. I could have had a family. I used to have friends. We could have reported the place as a threat, or advanced you to the point of getting us home. We could have even come forward during other alien attacks and taken their ships. Israkeel didn’t want to risk the stupid barbarians though.

He laughed as he worked on more of those perimeter blocks. A couple more went fast, but he had to stop some to consult a holographic display I couldn’t translate. “You were perfect. One day, you started breaking supers out of prison, and I realized what I could do. The others, they just wanted to use the collars, and I did pass relay orders to make that happen. I eagerly overstepped my bounds. I guided you and made sure you survived. Do you think it’s any accident you’re a woman now? I knew that would rile you up, the big bad supervillain and his fragile male ego, so I put advice in the right ear.”

Well, nice to know he doesn’t know me as well as he thinks. Hippity hoppity, little drone. One of these days you’ll get that laser facing me… “If I didn’t kill Centeotl, he’d have attacked Los Angeles anyway.”

“He agreed with me about the need to assert ourselves over the humans, but he would have been glassed like the rest. I relayed secure orders, always from superiors, to hire assassins. You had me worried when you sent that message back…”

There. I fired the laser of the drone. The drone caught on fire from something not quite being in alignment, but the beam shot out and burned enough that the device crackled and I fell to the ground. I hopped up in a hurry, but Barkiel didn’t pay me any mind. I split off more holograms to try and hide my approach, glad I still had a couple gauntlets ensconced in energy waiting to disperse into him. My free hands took up rocket knives. I jumped as the holograms all ran to catch up. He never turned back to me.

And then he suddenly was turned to me. He caught my in midair, one hand on my waist, the other on my head. The, fuck, the projection he’d left at the wall disappeared. Even the glowing circle on the wall faded. At least he had to stop whatever that was. I punched at his arm, but the attacks did nothing to dislodge his grip. The field stayed, glowing red. I shot a rocket knife into his face, but it bounced off, blade bent. Barkiel gritted his teeth and pulled with the hand on my helmet, aiming to take my head off.

“Fuck, this is good armor,” he said after a minute of straining. He let go of my head and held his arm to the side. A long, round rod of metal flipped out from under his arm and into his hand. A white trail rose out of the far end and formed a curving shape that could have been a one-sided blade. “Make this painless on yourself and hold still.”

That’s not how I roll, so I wiggled and reached up to try and keep his hand away.

“I told you!” he yelled and brought the blade down. Sudden pain shot through my left upper arm, right through the elbow and up near the shoulder. I still felt it even though I looked down and saw two pieces of what used to be that arm rolling to the ground. The uneven flesh of my arm wasn’t bleeding, but I saw smoke and felt a sudden coldness around those nerves. Barkiel tried to bring the blade down on my helmet, but my lower right shot up to grab at it. The blade split that arm and carved it in two. Between that and my shiftng, the blade only took off part of the right side of my helmet, and left that arm hanging useless. When he pulled the blade free of it, I got to see it flop to the ground, severed in the bicep.

“This could have been painless,” He said, raising the blade up to wave it in my face. He thrust it, but I moved my head. After three thrusts, there really wasn’t even a helmet left. “Stop moving!” he said before trying a sweep. I ducked my head under it like a limbo dancer ducking under a green snake in a sugarcane field, but he clipped a bunch of my hair. I could smell it as it burned.

“I don’t normally let this out,” he said, sneering at me, setting the tip of the blade against my breast. “But you things are disgusting to me.”

I flipped my fangs down and opened my mouth to spray hot sauce at him. It didn’t penetrate, but it did cover it for a minute. I threw myself to the side he wasn’t holding my hip from and twisted. It wasn’t the best way to hold a person and I tumbled loose, if not in good position, scrambling away. He stepped toward me, raising the blade. “Yeah, cute. Die now- oh shit!”

A bright light had flared up in the middle of the cavern, headed toward Barkiel. He raised the sword. I didn’t get a good look at what happened, the sword wasn’t there anymore, just as sparking rod and a field that glowed red around edges that weren’t closed around Barkiel. I leaped, but Barkiel kicked me away, into a wall where I could see Apollo, whole again, step out of a beam of light.

I heard footsteps, too. I turned to see Dame running down. “The fuck are you doing here so fast?”

She slid to a stop right by me as I struggled to sit up, probably tearing her skintight black tights. “Once I clued you in, they knew they had to come here right away.”

“Than-” I started to say, but she cut me off with a click of metal around my neck. Everything went black, and my hearing didn’t work right. I couldn’t do much of anything except feel. I felt hands wrap around my throat, squeezing. For some reason the ground was vibrating, but that probably had more to do with the big armor stomping around.

I tried to hit her, but the armor wasn’t working too well. My limbs were sluggish as parts of me didn’t want to function right, and without the armor being a real part of me anymore. When I got an arm up, she pushed it back down with one hand and slammed my head into the ground a couple of times, choking with one hand all the while. Of all the people to kill me, I didn’t expect Dame. And I was wrong.

My head jerked to the side and I could see again. I could punch again! I knocked Dame flat on her ass with a punch and reached for my neck. The collar had been blasted by something. A glow attracted my attention to the light arrow stuck in the cave wall behind me. I tugged the remnants off and threw them aside, then told Dame, “Kill me later. For now, we have to make sure he doesn’t release Mot.”

I scrambled up, but suddenly that shaking from before got a lot more noticeable. I looked and saw Barkiel, with a face full of smile, locking up with Apollo. “It’s too late!” he yelled.

The stones I thought looked like a sun slid inward and the wall slid up into the ceiling. Everything past that was darkness. Apollo backed away from Barkiel and the darkness.

“Quickly!” called a voice from higher up in the cave. I saw Ares running down, helmet on, spear and shield at the ready. He skidded to a halt when he saw the opening. “We’re too late.”

Venus was there as well, and Titan. Venus looked to Dame in particular, my neck, and the wrecked collar on the floor.

“Mot!” Barkiel yelled into the darkness. “It’s supper time!”

“Close the door, Barkiel, while there’s still time!” Ares said.

I crawled until I could get to my feet, running over to Venus and Titan. I had to fight through dizziness to stand there with them. “We have to go.”

“No,” Venus said. “We stop this here and now.”

“Nobody’s getting to this door just yet,” Barkiel said. A tendril of flesh wrapped around Barkiel as he grinned confidently at us. He looked down then and realized too late that he was the closest thing to a very hungry being. He tried to pull it off him, but it whipped back into the darkness, dragging the screaming alien along with him.

“I know what we’re dealing with here, and there is no stopping it. How do I access the door’s controls?” I asked Ares.

He looked to me, then shook his head. “It’s too late. Go, all of you.”

“I’m here,” Titan said.

“That’s a good reason to go,” I said. “Imagine something just as hard to kill as you, but it can absorb anyone it touches and gets their powers.”

He squinted at me, then at the opening. Apollo ran back toward us, and past us. Ares held his shield on guard and told us, “She’s right. Go. I fight in the rearguard.”

“What’s Mot do to people?” Venus asked.

“He’s got a couple thousand years of hunger to make up for. We need to go,” I said.

A burst of lightning flashed out of the darkness and floored Ares. He coughed and stood back up, metal showing through holes in his skin.”Go, now!” A long-haired, bearded figure stepped out of the darkness, tendrils trailing from his back. He wore rags that vaguely resembled Barkiel’s uniform and dropped one of the arms of Barkiel’s walker armor as he stepped out.

“This feels wrong,” Titan said, backing up.

Ares jumped forward and impaled Mot with his spear. Mot raised his arms and blasted Ares with more lightning that threw the old man back. Then his hands became icicles that broke off and flew at Ares. The Olympian got his shield up, but they penetrated, stabbing into his arm.

“Venus, slap him,” I said.

She jumped up and hit Titan across the face, then yelled, “We have to get as many people out as we can.”

I turned to head up the slope as well. I wasn’t as quick getting out of there as I was coming in, especially the way the floor kept spinning. I tried to get some nanites into me, but they flew out of my hand with all the spinning. At least I had time to advise the Psycho Flyers to hurry and take on as many refugees as possible so long as I was one of them. Then there was the rumbling, and I passed the fuck out as things began to collapse around us.

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Arete in Destruction 9, the Grand Finale

The end is nigh and here I am. But that’s getting ahead of myself. I’d better explain how I reached this apocalyptic time on the Empyre State Building staring down a pissed-off bunch of heroes without any way to fight back.

I had been mostly ready for this endgame when I said I would be. I didn’t intend to drag things out even though I wasn’t completely ready for them. For one thing, I hadn’t come up with some unique counter for Forcelight, Honky Tonk Hero, or Mecha Human Sloth. As the heavy hitters of the group, I’d wanted some specific way to take them down that didn’t involve revealing a certain built-in trump card I’ve been saving up. Never did get myself any allies. Just me, Moai, and Carl.

But that comes later. Let’s start at the beginning of the end.

First, I trashed the Museum of Modern Art. Stole a few valuable pieces for Michelangelo to sell through the improper channels, but I kept one or two with me. I figured it would coax Dame out at last.

I figured right. I woke up to her trying to steal my shit again. Yes, it was Marilyn Monroe on my wall, but it was done by Andy Warhol, not Playboy. The Playboy stuff would be worth more. At least she didn’t touch my Starry Night by Van Gogh the Earless Wonder. When she saw me sit upright, she phased and ran for the wall. I ran after her and sent the signal to her device to render her solid again but it didn’t work. “Found a way out of my reach, have you?”

She was running along the dance floor of the former club for the front door when she became solid again just to answer me. “I guess you aren’t the only one with a mind for gadgets. You should have had two contingency plans!”

There was a thud as she passed by a front counter near the coat check. Dame fell back on the ground with a groan. The canvas she was carrying slid along the floor before stopping.

“How about a man swinging a car battery?” I asked as Carl stepped over her and laid the battery down on her chest. Moai jumped out over the bar and rolled upright, wearing a black ninja outfit. I think he was trying to strike a pose.

“Hey, Moai, take that off. It looks ridiculous. Everyone knows ninjas would have worn something like dark blue to blend in at night if they wore that kind of thing. Damn glad to have you on the job, though.”

I gave him a thumbs up. Now, this was not, as some might suspect, an attempt to foster a rivalry. Moai serving as backup was indeed a legitimate necessity. I’m not sure if he has an ego, but that shit gets in the way of what’s necessary often enough. If I’m fighting a hero who knocks me on my ass, puts a pink tutu on me, dips me in horse manure, he can laugh all he wants as long as I’m the person who walks away from the fight without my head ripped off and shoved up the horse’s ass. Laugh it up, deadhead.

I had Dame in my company, though, so I had to keep the horse asses to a minimum with her around. She’s a lady, you know. She’s like a female knight to British people. That doesn’t mean I didn’t take her bracelet or bangle or whatever you call the mirrored doohickey with the phase technology hidden inside it.

I was hoping to get a hold of this.

For her, it’s a defensive measure. That could get…interesting…if I were to use it that way. Possibly suicidal as well. My physiology, which made me so easy to cling to when Dame was trapped in an ethereal state, wouldn’t react well to it, I think. I knew I could weaponize it, especially if I made copies. I just didn’t have time for that. A regrettable casualty of my need to expedite my plans. Still, it was a good idea for handling Forcelight or Honky Tonk Hero.

At least I’d had time to fix up the Heatflasher. Hell, I improved on it and found a nice way to handle my heat problem.

Moai and Carl got Dame chained down to a chair while I slipped into my armor. Good old chains. I like using them because they’re so much more difficult to get away from than ropes. Luckily, as skilled as she was, Dame wasn’t good enough to wiggle loose of these babies. And, since the Chastity5000 was buy one, get one when I tied up Venus, I had a spare for Dame. Still, she struggled, even tearing at her black bodysuit in places.

“Now calm down, Damey wamey,” I told her. “I’m not going to hurt you. In fact, I technically haven’t hurt you so far. That was Carl. Say hi, Carl.”

Carl raised his hand and gave her a small wave, “Hiya.”

“Thanks Carl. So, Dame, time for the explanation about what’s going on. I promised someone, made a deal actually, that I was going to drop my grudge against you, wouldn’t kill you, wouldn’t pursue you at all, even said you’d be untouchable to me. So far, I have not touched you, nor am I doing this because of a grudge. In fact, this wouldn’t have happened if you had decided to not find me once again to steal back stolen artwork once again. Predictability is not a good quality in thieves. There’s a reason for the phrase ‘thick as thieves’ and it doesn’t involve your bodily figure. Don’t worry. No matter what, you’re going to live. Or at least I have no plans on killing you. You’re just going to be my bait to get Venus and her friends to join the field of battle.”

“Why do you think that matters?”

I played a certain audio clip of Venus’s voice: “It was Dame. She told us all where you were hiding. She and I had some common ground and she gave me a picture of your latest face.”

“You really ought to pick better friends,” I told her, then leaned closer. “You know, you and I could be better friends sometime.”

She headbutted me. It hurt her more than it hurt me, but I think she was trying to make a point about my chances being less than or equal to a punitive flaming underworld afterlife reaching freezing point. I pointed my finger at her, “That was entirely on you and does not constitute me touching or hurting you.”

“Why does that matter?” she groaned.

I turned away from her as I spoke. “Because, so long as I make a deal and try to keep it, then I will try to keep it. At least until something more important comes up or the other party reneges on their part. I like the idea. You see it in fairy tales, you know? A neutral or good person makes a deal with a party, usually a darker force. A sea witch or a voodoo bocor…or is that houngan…either way, a voodoo guy. The hero gets stipulations, something he or she wanted or thought they wanted…good reason to read a contract, by the way…and if they dare break their end of it, there is hell to pay. But I feel I’m monologuing again and I should note that Moai may get a tad homicidal if you actually manage to escape.”

Moai hopped closer to Dame. Via my 360 degree view on the helmet, I could see she’d started to move an elbow further than it should go. Moai dropped a heavy gold chain with an old-fashioned ticking clock around her neck.

“Thanks, Moai, that ought to hold her,” I said with a nod. True, I was facing away, but Moai knew what I meant.

“Won’t matter to Venus. You haven’t been listening at the right doors.”

I didn’t turn. Instead, I raised my arm up so I could point a finger at her over my shoulder. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“No one’s seen her ever since that bank was blown up, and the rumor is that she didn’t get out of there before the place was given a volatile redecoration. There’s been no word of her from the heroes and no sightings of her on patrol. Nothing in hospitals about someone matching her description. I think your unrequited love interest is dead.”

That didn’t seem right. It actually gave me pause for a moment.

“I doubt that. Heroes are pesky like that, and she’s peskier than normal. She’s got to be alive. Since when do chains and a bomb kill a superhero?”

“Maybe you should ask someone when you get back from sailing down denial.”

“Sailing up the Nile. Moai, right foot.”

Moai got in the way of my view of Dame as he slid a stiletto heel made of cement onto her foot and closed the iron manacle set into the top of it. She had had something metal gripped between her toes. Such a clingy suit allows greater articulation, like hiding tools in unusual places. In this case, hiding something around the foot, and bringing it to bear with the toes.

“Well, either way my dear Dame, they should be informed that you were their source for that raid on me. That means you still make a wonderful hostage for my plan.”

It was the next day when the plan went into action. The Heatflasher appeared once more in the skies over New York and circumcised the Empyre State Building. I crashed it into the observation deck and melted my way through supports in order to tip it to one side. The elevator dinged, then opened to reveal Carl and Moai carrying Dame, a TV camera, and some very important equipment for the ‘Flasher. They dumped Dame, who was now wearing quite a heavy outfit made up of cement shoes, hammer pants stapled together, balls and chains around her wrists, the heavy gold chain and clock around her neck, and a football helmet that wasn’t for a New York team.

Carl then turned and tossed something into the elevator he left, even as panicked civilians crowded past to escape. The doors closed and then a muffled blast blew up past them. The doors didn’t blow out, but they popped out toward us. The same went for other elevators. Might as well have a captive audience for what was about to happen.

With the floor and Dame secured and the guys setting up in what we figured were safe spots, I took to the air again. It wasn’t easy cutting through the building like that. I had to angle things just right so the upper floors, like 20 or something, slid off to crash on the streets and smaller buildings below.

The observatory level was finally open air. I settled the ‘Flasher at one corner of it and cooled my jets. Well, my rockets. And the barrel, too. I had to shut it down long enough for me to slip a little something onto the end of the barrel and tighten it up. Connect some hoses, that sort of thing. When I lit that mother up again, the new section on the end of the barrel glowed a brilliant yellow-white, like the sun.

An invisible heat ray may be one amazing, powerful thing, but I realized that if I was going to do this from atop a building, I’d need some way to keep it from dissipating to a warm breeze against the smaller buildings around. In fact, if I wanted to threaten the whole city, I’d need something like a miniature sun.

Well, the power source, a design from my own dimension, ought to be able to sustain it. If not, we’ll still see a lot of destruction and possibly a city rendered unlivable.

“For all those in attendance and the millions watching at home,” I spoke aloud and turned toward the assembled hostages, a number of whom had their phones out to record video of the occasion, “I have been hounded day after day, month after month, and this has gone on too long. Just think, without heroes coming after me, you’d have had a blown up Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island, as opposed to that messy spectacle in the city. What a danger they’ve become to you, your saviors. I’m here today for two reasons. Reason one: I want to make it perfectly clear to everyone that if you escalate against the great and devious Psycho Gecko, then I will take you to a land of hurt that you will not enjoy. Ooh yeah, I’ll tear your soul out and cast it down to an Abaddon of anguish that will make the heavens weep blood in heartrending sympathy for your unending abomination of an existence, and you will know what it’s like to drown in my bloodlust, to starve, to thirst, to pray to whatever deities you hold dearest in life…and not die.”

You could hear a pin drop. Burn the city down? Hell, I just chewed half of it up.

I sat down at the Heatflasher.

“What’s the other reason?” said a shaky voice. I turned to him and cranked up the volume on my suit’s speakers.

“To end this feud of ours, once and for all. Ahahahahaha!”

And that’s when the firing began. The Heatflasher took longer to fire this time, with the extended barrel glowing more yellowish in color. Suddenly, a glowing orange-yellow beam shot was just there out the barrel and poking through several office buildings. When I shifted the aim around, it sliced through streets and cars like they weren’t even there. Fires spread and ash flew. Steam rose as well from flash boiled water. Admittedly, it didn’t spread the heat around quite as well, but as the guy sitting on the machine doing all this, I was grateful for the ingenious bit of gadgetry that was pumping plasma into the landscape rather than all around me.

Boom! There went a meth lab. Sizzle! A butcher’s shop. Scramble! A semi full of eggs. Pop! A popcorn packing plant! When you’re lighting up the cops, the fun never stops.

I stopped firing and turned back around. I saw Carl and Moai getting me on camera. There was a very lucky news show in the city who just realized that the camera stolen while reporting on a cockfighting ring was giving them one hell of an exclusive.

“Hello out there in TV land, viewers. A very special hello to our heroes. Without their constant pressure, I doubt I’d have ever found myself in this position,” I said genially. I was having a good time at least. I got up and held my hand out to the area I’d burned in the distance. “This is fun. This is what I do when a team of heroes chases me day in and day out.” I then guided the camera around toward the people, including the bound Dame. “And these are people who are going to die. Including this little lady here, she’s a thief who knows the heroes a little bit. I don’t know why I brought her along now that I realize it was a busy day, but I figured it would add that special touch and really drive it home that air strikes on the observation deck are not a good idea.”

Yeah, Dame’s value was diminished somewhat by the good turnout, but it was still better than having her free and joining up with the heroes who had an ass-whooping in mind. The more the merrier, anyway.

And while it seemed counterintuitive to make sure the heroes were needed elsewhere but had to come here, that was also nice. Tear them in half using their heroic intentions. Plus, other heroes who have no business interfering will probably be down there instead of up here dealing with the guy who keeps defacing landmarks. I took the whole head off; you can’t argue Lady Liberty wasn’t defaced.

Still, I waited for them. And waited. And got impatient. And jumped back onto the ‘Flasher to burn this city like a disco inferno but Forcelight was there in all her glory to try and catch it. See, this is where something invisible works better than something putting off light. But, to my great delight, even she could hold up only briefly under the onslaught. I saw her duck out of the way, unable to hold back the destructive beam of plasma any longer.

Instead, Honky Tonk Hero swooped down at me from the side and tried to give me an el kabong right to the skull. He got me some, but I rolled with it. Could have sworn I felt things shaking, actually.

Honky Tonk lowered himself right in front of me and grabbed me by the neck. “Someone should have put you down long ago. You should have been taken out back as a child and drowned.”

It’s not like I was going to feel bad about this anyway.

I raised a hand slowly and pointed down for him to see the diamond and mirror bangle of Dame stuck in his pocket. He didn’t know what it was, but he grabbed for it with his other hand. I headbutted him in the eye, then threw a classic Elvis pseudo-martial arts punch to his throat. It got me out of his grip long enough for me to remotely activate the phase device. He dropped it a moment later, but it was too late. With Honky Tonk suddenly insubstantial, the wind was quick to push him away from the building. With the device no longer touching his body, I brought it back, nice and solid.

There was that shaking again, though. I looked over the edge of the building and saw Mecha Human Sloth climbing his way up. Where’s a gorilla when you need one? Oh, wait. I realized he had Gorilla Awesome, Troubleshooter, Mechamoto Musashi, Apollo, and Paveman clinging to his back. He must have been on a sugar rush from marshmallow cleanup duty.

“Okay, I need a volunteer…” I said and drifted off as I turned around. Moai and Carl were filming everything, but the crowd of hostages was gone. In their place was Raggedy Man. He knelt beside Dame, trying to help her out of the chains. I didn’t know how the hell he got up there. I’d torn the roof off. Not for him, just for fun, but still. “Yo, dawgs. Seize him and stuff. You know, if it’s convenient.” Moai followed my finger and went after Raggedy Man, who dove behind a column and disappeared into the shadows cast behind it. Huh. A mystery solved.

Still one massive mystery left: how to take out the giant robot superhero boyfriend mutant human-sloth guy whose girlfriend I apparently killed. I was already behind, though. I almost died from adjective poisoning.

My solution was one I didn’t want to use, as I’ve said before. The grey goo protocol. Not completely grey goo, though. They build themselves like crazy, but they still break down fairly quickly and don’t self repair. There’s a limit, in other words. I pulled out syringes of nanites and jabbed them into myself. As many as I could, save for one last one. Just in case.

I sent a signal to the first ones to link to me. It activated a program that involved spreading the activation to the others inside me. They then forced themselves out of me any way they could. Nose, mouth, ears, skin pores. They moved under my suit toward my right hand. I unsealed the glove and slipped it off. Shimmery grey liquid covered my hand and bulked up as more nanites joined those assembled. My hand formed into a liquid metal claw.

I looked for Mecha Human Sloth again. He was right under the edge where the Heatflasher rested. He grabbed it with one claw and pulled himself up with the other, sending my machine of mass destruction plummeting. He jumped and did a forward flip, landing on his feet and letting the ground-based heroes off. Gorilla Awesome and Troubleshooter had separated from him when he was in midair. Awesome hovered, but Troubleshooter lowered herself to the ground.

Couldn’t let them all come after me at once. I gave Human Sloth the “come here” motion with my nanite-covered hand.

“Alright, big fellow, let’s have us a little revenge versus wrath, shall we?”

He roared and charged. I cackled and jumped. My claw dug into him like he wasn’t even there. There was no armor. There was no flesh underneath. Just me hanging onto his collar, elbow deep in his chest. “Wait a minute, spread to the sides, there’s something I want,” I said to myself. The nanites dispersed, eating through Mecha Human Sloth. I grabbed a souvenir. When I pulled my hand out, his giant, inhuman heart came with it.

As he fell, though, I was greeted by a pretty horrible sight. Carl was held above the floor by his pants and underwear by one of Troubleshooter’s backpack waldo arms at an angle that showed his ass. There was no sign of Moai, but Gorilla Awesome was braced against the edge holding something up by his grappling hook.

Oh, and there were more heroes standing there. Black Raptor. Bright Star. Miss Tycism. Venus. Well. Shit.

“Tricky tricky heroes. My compliments on it, but it’s my turn,” I told them all, then vanished. They just stood there, holding their line.

That didn’t seem right. I projected bursts of light and four more of me stepping out of the explosions, laughing and holding swords.

No reaction.

Invisible, I walked right up to Miss Tycism and poked my hand through her. Hologram. Raptor was right next to her, so I tested him too. Turns out Raptor was not right next to her. I looked up and saw Troubleshooter looking harried and trying to program something on a keyboard attached to her multi-purpose backpack that just sat there on its tripod legs, trying to make my own eyes lie to me.

When I reappeared, it was right behind her, tearing at what I thought looked like important cables. I was right. Her backpack’s various tools and arms and gadgets stopped their moving, their whirling, their whizzing, and even their whirring.

Troubleshooter gave me a look full of incredulous shit when she realized I had her figured and helpless within arms reach. I’d have acted on it, but something kicked me from behind and nearly sent me off the building.

The cameras revealed a most unwelcome sight. The holograms were gone alright. All except for Venus. She was too busy trying to axe kick my neck to worry about how someone said she was dead.

I was off balance from her initial surprise, but I blocked that. Vulnerable position to be in, and I don’t just mean her and the axe kick. Mechamoto and Apollo crowded in while Paveman held Carl in a bear hug. I grabbed Venus and held her between myself and Mechamoto. Apollo’s hands gripped me from behind. Rather than start some slashfic material here, they smashed in my visor and reached in. He tore my helmet off me. I instinctively cranked the jumper in my left leg up and drove my foot back at crotch level. My tibia snapped.

I grabbed a fish stink grenade hanging off my belt and swiped aside Mechamoto’s sword as he circled and tried to find a way to more easily strike me without Venus in our way. He was distracted as a hole in the floor opened up under Paveman, causing Carl and Paveman to fall to the next floor down.

While he wasn’t focused on me, I armed the fish and chucked it at his head. He noticed it at the last minute and brought his sword up. It burst just as it touched his blade, enveloping him in a horrible stink.

I dragged Venus by her still-raised leg back toward me and parallel to the edge of the skyscraper to give me room. With my free hand, she and I traded and blocked blows, at least until I charged it up. Then I took a step in her direction and dumped her on the ground.

This felt familiar to me. I stepped forward and released Venus to the ground, but she wasn’t Venus anymore.

She was the woman I’d gotten involved with back on my world. We had argued, and that turned into an actual, physical fight. She didn’t want me to blow up the Dimensional Bomb, of all things. I grabbed her by the throat. A blade came out at me from nowhere, but I backhanded it. The energy built up in my glove released through the impact and snapped the blade. I used that hand to pummel her face again and again. She couldn’t understand either. None of them could. For them, it was a fight to be first if humanity wouldn’t allow them to be equals. I just hated this stupid world for all it had done to me.

“There is no place for me. They made me and refused to take responsibility for me. I tried to get over what I did, but none of them ever let me leave it behind. I was the government’s mistake, the Justice Rangers’ foe, the people’s great fear of us writ large. I’m done with their system and all their pettiness.”

I stood and pointed behind me. “I’d rather have my own system that means using this D-Bomb and taking us all out than see these hypocrites live. It’s on a strict timer, too. As soon as it drops to 0, that’s it.”

She kipped up, jumped, wrapped her legs around my neck, then back flipped. Where the fuck did she learn to do that? I fell to the ground and something cracked in my neck with a great pain. I lost feeling in everything below my neck as I settled in an odd position. Didn’t know my head could turn that far under the rest of my body. Couldn’t see anything though. Where the hell was I?

People talked nearby, a pair of voices, male and female.

“You alright?”

“Yeah.”

“I saw his eyes. It’s like he doesn’t know what’s going on.”

“I know. There is no bomb, so he’s talking about things that aren’t there. He’s talking in a weird accent, too.”

Something rolled me over. A gorilla. It talked. “He’s still alive, but I would be careful of moving him. My initial prognosis, and I’m not a medical doctor mind you, is that he has broken a cervical vertebra,” he said.

“No, we’re not,” one of the voices, a female, said to nobody in particular. “I don’t care, Gunman. Don’t start that Lone Gunman crap with me either. He’s out of the fight. I don’t care how big a rifle it is, I’m not going to let you shoot his heart out and watch him die.”

More people seemed to be showing up as the gorilla examined me. I had some odd urge to tell him to get his paws off me because he was damned and dirty.

One of these strange people climbed out of the floor, “They’re down there somewhere. Waiting to try and save him, I reckon. What, we won this one?”

The gorilla was pushed aside by a man made of marble who hauled on my arm, got underneath it, and lifted me to my feet. I still didn’t have that good of a view because of how my head drooped over. “I’m with Lone Gunman on this one. Take the shot,” said my manhandler.

“No!” ordered a glowing woman in white and black tights as she landed. “We can’t do that.”

“Why, because we’re better than that? He killed your father!” Apollo said with voice raised. Sensitive to that sort of thing?

“Yes, I know there’s nothing most of us would love to do more right now than give him an execution, but we can’t just yet. You hear me, Gunman? Stand down.”

Venus spoke up. “You can’t be serious Aneta.” Right, Forcelight’s civilian name.

“I am.”

“About killing him?” Venus questioned the team’s powerhouse.

“Your boyfriend looks like a flock of vultures ate him for a buffet. He’s goo and bones! You were willing to stand there when that happened to stop him, but you won’t go the rest of the way? Venus, after everything he’s done, why wouldn’t you kill him?” Forcelight made her case for my death.

“Because as bad as this all is, as much as I want to set him on fire and beat his head in with a brick, I’m not going to start acting just like him! You really want to do things his way? If so, then he’s your future.”

There was silence. This was all good and dramatic, but I still couldn’t see shit.

“Moot point at the moment, anyway. Is he unconscious?”

“Paralyzed.”

Marble hands grabbed my head and nodded it for me.

“Good. You know I’ve been meeting with that Good Doctor man. I figured I’d at least hear what he has to claim about me. If it’s a trick, he tricked Gecko there too. He warned me about doing anything rash if we got our hands on him.”

The man holding me up, whose name was just on the tip of my tongue, gave an exasperated sigh. “Why?”

“Because whatever powered that laser, and I don’t know how stable it is, but whatever did that and didn’t show any signs of running low, he’s got one in his chest. The Doctor’s seen it in there. That’s why we never found a reactor or a battery. If Gunman puts holes in him, he might get it too. If we start doing things to him, that thing might go up and take this whole building with it, at least.”

“More like the whole block,” said Troubleshooter.

At least if Doc’s ratting me out, he’s saying things that are keeping these assholes from killing me. Trust me, the great and devious Psycho Gecko makes damn sure his personal reactor isn’t going up the first time I crack my head.

Yeah, I’m back from Lala land, aka the land that time forgot and would prefer to not think about, and activating the transmitter and receivers I’d set up for just this situation once upon a time. We’re up to that point I mentioned earlier, about facing off against heroes with no way to fight back. My present tense. So I can feel again and move again. The question is how do I move out of here?

“Y’all need to shut up already,” says Raggedy Man as he approaches with the phase bangle in his hand. “Someone’s got you on camera right now. Everyone watching the news just heard everything you said about executing a guy!”

Times like these, I love my minions.

Raggedy Man lifts my other arm to take the weight off Apollo. “And for God’s sake, he broke his neck and you’re dancing him around like a puppet? Do you know what people think of you right now?”

My arm shoots out, not quite as naturally as it normally would, and grabs the bangle while I stumble forward out of the grasp of the surprised heroes. “Yeah, they think the camera adds 10 lbs…in the testicles. Especially you, Venus.”

“Another trick,” one of them says accusingly. If only they knew. Hell, I’d rather they didn’t. I’d much rather I knew what I was about to do, because my options for escape look nonexistent. Except if I try the unthinkable. Ah hell, it’s worked for me so far.

I activate the phase mechanism and everything loses its color, its substance. It’s like a drawing that the artist hasn’t colored in. I look down to see what all it had done to my armor and find it warping as my body expands, pushing out against it. Adverse reaction to my current state and the power core in my chest that’s filling me with energy now. Fist-sized holes appear in my armor, but do nothing to hurt me or even move me. I glance back along their trajectories to a lower skyscraper. Lone Gunman, the lost lil Holdout. He finally gets his shot, but I’m immune to bullets when it happens.

Defiant, I tear at the holes, pulling the chest portion of my armor apart. Looking down at my chest, I see the reactor isn’t fully phased. It pumps energy along my bio-technological nerves. My brain, my cybernetic enhancements, my armor. They connect to everything my power works on.

I’m pretty much an energy being. The generator lost containment and is filling my ethereal form with energy, enough that I maintain cohesion and even tear through my own armor with ease. The heroes grow smaller and smaller. Forcelight raises her non-smoking arm, the one that isn’t hanging limp by her side, and starts concentrating light to try and hit me or shoot me. I throw a punch at her and she releases early to try and meet it.

She goes flying.

Cool as fuck.

Hey, that just halted my growth for a moment, but I’m back to expanding now. Anyone else got the image of a balloon filled to bursting in their heads right about now?

I hope Moai and Carl are running like hell by now. I turn and tiptoe to a support beam that I’d sheared off above my head. It’s now significantly below that. No need to pay attention to the puny heroes any more. They are no threat.

There’s a more important threat I have to deal with. I need to lose a lot of energy in a hurry, then deactivate this device. I raise my arm up and bring my fist down with everything I have on the support that runs deeper into the building.

The floor, and my size, fall sharply. So do the next floor and the next after that, and so on. There’s dust everywhere and I’m lost in the middle of the collapse, falling and landing and getting landed on. I can’t see or hear anyone else, but I feel like I’m about the right size.

No way am I changing back right now, but –

***Connection lost. Archiving transmission. Preparing transfer. Transfer complete.***

***Waiting for connection***

 

Next

Previous

Arete in Destruction 5

So, yeah. Things could have gone better lately. I’ve been running back and forth to the hardware stores getting stuff for Moai to patch himself up with. We’ve relocated well away from the warehouses. I’m currently based in this old club that closed up. I think it was some sort of goth club called Heart Failure, but with an image of a heart there in front of the word Failure. I will freely admit to not spending a lot of time in clubs, let alone goth ones, but I don’t expect that a heart is what they want to see if they go to a club. If it was an anatomical heart, then I think they’d still be in business. Regular ole “I heart you” heart, though…that’s not bringing in the daywalkers.

Still, the guy who owns the building needed money more than he needed questions answered, and sales of windows have been pretty high lately. I have enough for what I’m doing, but working for myself just isn’t as profitable as killing individuals that other people dislike a great deal. I hear the Mafia’s got an offer out on the Pope right now, as a matter of fact. Kiddy fucking? They don’t care. But a Pope riding around without the bulletproof glass, embracing the diseased, and suggesting that atheists can be good people? That’s a step too far for the Sicilian murderers.

You know, I should call up Father Poffo, see if he’s willing to make me a counter offer. Maybe later.

Rather than worry about traps at this juncture, I stopped by Rothstein’s Sports Bar to have a nice lunch, lay down some feelers, and fish for people who I could trick into taking a bullet or mystical blast for me. Like, maybe I’ll get lucky and find some skinheads dressed up in tights with swastikas, pretending that being around people with powers makes them some sort of superior men. Those types are great. I hear people talk all the time about how bad it is to kill your own minions, but those people have clearly never sweet-talked wannabe-Nazis into working for them using nothing but code words about keeping the government out of small business matters. The good guys don’t even feel bad when you execute those fuckers.

Unfortunately, I have yet to get those expendable idiots. All these bigots around, but I’ve got no luck finding them to serve as my human shields.

Well, they might have been in there, but no sooner had I tried to make the bouncer live up to his name by using him as a pogo stick than Elita bitchslapped me a few streets away. And by bitchslap, I mean I was the bitch, not her.

So I dusted myself off, set my wrist back in its socket, and gave myself a small injection of nanites to handle all the repair work. I didn’t have my armor on. I make sure to point that out because that fall could have been a lot worse if that bunch of charity-fundraising nuns wasn’t there for me to land on. Not only did they break my fall, they had money just waiting around for the Buy Psycho Gecko Lunch Fund. I’ll have to thank them when they get out of the hospital.

While there was little chance I would meet some new people to rope into my schemes, there was a diner and I was hungry. I went in, I found a booth, I ordered food and drink, and I waited.

It was then, while my chicken sandwich was being cooked, that I found myself facing Apollo. He didn’t look marble, but it was him. He had the same face and the build was about right.

Powers with an on/off switch. They can be a blessing and a curse. A big, bad monster can turn back into a mild-mannered man to hide. Or perhaps forced back into that form. Either way, it provides a great way to hide one’s job as a crimefighter from vicious villains and parasitical paparazzi. I’m glad I have hardly ever had to deal with them, by the way. Last time someone in news tried to get all up in my business, it went very badly for two of them and their boss.

While some powers are inconvenient for people to keep on all the time, like a man made of marble, it also means that someone can be killed when they have a protective power off, like a man made of marble.

Back to this encounter. I saw Apollo. My face was changed, like it tends to be, and it’s cold enough now that the trenchcoat doesn’t look out of place so he didn’t realize it was me at first. He sat down with his back to me in the booth next to mine, but closer to the door, across from a man with Asian features and short blue hair. Mechamoto, perhaps?

Either way, I slid under the table and popped up on the other side. I grabbed a napkin and tapped Apollo on the shoulder. He turned to look at me, curious. “Hello handsome, I think you dropped something.” I folded up the napkin and handed it to him.

“What’s this?” he asked.

“My number,” I told him.

He opened it up. “It’s blank.”

“I dropped my pen. I guess you’ll just have to give me yours.”

“My…pen?” he queried with raised eyebrows.

“I meant your number.”

“Listen, I don’t know you and I’m not-“

“Don’t bother. He’s probably not serious,” spoke a voice I had a tendency to hear only at the worst times. “And if he is, you don’t want him to call you.”

Apollo and I both looked over to see Venus, outside of her costume, standing there at the end of the table.

“Hello Boopsie,” I welcomed her with a grim smile. It’s not the fighting that bothered me so much as the potential loss of my chicken sandwich. I wanted my chicken sandwich.

“Hello Gecko,” she nodded to me. Apollo scooted away from me along the booth.

I looked between the three of them, noting how Mechamoto, or who I thought was Mechamoto, had his hands beneath the table. I looked at him, “Hey, do we have to do this right now? Come on, man, I’m hungry. You’re probably hungry. There are squishy people around who are going to get hurt. Can’t we just sit down and eat some food without me having to cut somebody?” I whipped my butter knife around in front of me. “Besides,” I offered, “If I have to leave here, I’ll be in a bad mood out in public where it’s hard to contain me.” I wiggled the knife helpfully.

“Alright, if you’re serious, we’ll leave you be, for now,” Venus conceded and took a seat next to Mechamoto. She turned to whisper something to him that, according to my reading, could have been either “Call in reinforcements,” or “At least he’s not out killing people.”

I reached over and stroked Apollo’s earlobe. He got goosebumps. “How about you eat without putting your hands on other people?”

“Awww,” I whispered loudly to Apollo, “That’s ok. I’m sure I’ll get my hands on you later.”

Just then the waitress arrived with my chicken sandwich. I turned and commenced to condimenting it. “Thanks.” Then the ambulance sped by with alarms going.

“Ambulances…did you kill someone already today?” Venus asked. I saw the others tense.

“Nah, the nuns will live,” I turned to reassure her. People like being reassured face to face. You can tell. Just ask how many people would be reassured by meeting a faceless person. Not too many, I think.

“Nuns?”

“Wasn’t my fault,” I said with a shrug.

She raised an eyebrow at me.

“It was an act of God. It rained men. Hallelujah, it rained men. Amen!” I raised a hand and pointed at the ceiling.

Mechamoto just stared at me for a good few seconds, then spoke, “He really is like this all the time.”

“Yep,” said Apollo and Venus at the same time.

“Hey, you know your hair?” I asked as I pointed at his blue furry head cover.

“I know of it.”

“It’s blue.”

He and I just stared at each other for about a minute after that as he didn’t answer and I waited. He with his hands still below the table, me with my eyes bugging out and a wide grin on my face.

“You done eating, hon?” asked the waitress as she stopped by to fill up my Coke. The soft drink, not the drug. There are people of a strange mind out there who seem to believe I do a lot of drugs. I have no clue where they get this from, but fear not! Aside from alcohol, I don’t bother with such things. No drugs, no narcotics, no prescribed medication. Remember kids, say no to drugs and you could wind up to be like me.

Maintaining my gaze, I brought my sandwich around in front of me. Staring. The whole time.

And yet, it was still better to them than the thought of me running around doing whatever it is I do with myself. That’s how you out-crazy the people in tight pants right there.

“Fuck!” said my waitress as she looked down at a recently-abandoned table. I slid out of my chair and was behind her in no time, tapping her on the shoulder.

“You called?”

“Huh. No, these people left me this! Look at this!”

She held it up for me to see. The “it” in question looked like a shorter 10 dollar bill from the rear. On the other side was some tract about accepting Jesus and blah blah blah. Ouch. You think you’re getting money that you need because you make like $2 an hour, but it’s all a bait and switch? Harsh.

“It’s the third time I’ve gotten one of these in the last couple of weeks,” she smoldered.

“What’d they look like?” I asked.

The heroes, meanwhile, had stood up and joined us around the fake money.

“It was that old couple. They took a carryout box, the ungrateful shits,” answered the waitress.

“Is there anything we can do to help?” asked Mechamoto.

“Not you,” I said with a grin and a growing chuckle, “But I sure as hell can help.”

He tried to grab me as I ran for the door, tossing money behind me. It was a cold, calculated plot to tip the waitress, pay for me meal, and encourage other diners to obstruct pursuit. Over my laughter, I thought I heard him say, “I’m calling in the team.”

I wasn’t sure which direction they were headed, but randomly running took me to them as they tried to get into their car around the corner.

“Heyheyheyheyhey!” I called out as the old man helped his wife into their car. He looked up as I raised a hand and slapped him hard enough to send his dentures flying. His head bounced off the old towncar and I grabbed hold of it again. His screaming wife tried to crawl across the seat.

“Open wide, honey. I got a tip for you!”

As expected, there was a horrified gasp. Don’t worry, I didn’t touch the old bat. Not even once. No, I threw her husband at her and lodged his head somewhere it wasn’t supposed to go. If you’d like to know more, then congratulations, you get to learn about the word “unbirthing” today!

Images are NSFW, of course. Ah, World Domination in Retrospect. Teaching people all the things they didn’t know they needed to know since January 2013.

I turned to see Mechamoto standing there holding a phone in one hand and a black bladed tanto that didn’t hold a reflection.

“Oh come on, you’re really going to hold this against me?” I asked.

He just stood there, not saying anything, but not raising the weapon. “It doesn’t matter if I think they deserve it. It’s about duty. Doing what’s right isn’t about when it’s just convenient and you like the people you save.”

“And sometimes it’s about doing things that seem wrong and illegal to make sure that assholes get what’s coming to them,” I took a pause as the lady groaned in pain and hit the roof of the car a couple times. “Hey, shut up in there or I’ll remember I was aiming for your other hole!”

Seeing as Mechamoto was inclined to run me through, I had to jump into the old car, sit on the old lady’s head, and fished out the old fellow’s keys to make my getaway.

It was nice to have a breather considering everything I’ve been doing lately. It cheered me up at least. But then, isn’t that what hurting people is for?

 

Next

Previous

Arete in Destruction 4

Life’s hard for a guy trying to share his love of pranks with the city. The love wasn’t the bombs that have gone off in a few places, either. The love, as you might call it, involved me making some changes to the window washer equipment and water system of the Trump International Hotel and Tower right off this bigass park here in the city.

It was by far the biggest order of squirrel and pigeon pheromone concentrate Michelangelo had ever had to fill, even if you include those guys that time with the crappy animal themes.

It also left every squirrel in Empyreal City hanging on to the outside of that over-compensation station called a hotel, jizzing their nutty little brains out. While the squirrels are busy busting their nuts, pigeons keep sexually assaulting the heads of tenants who are trying to mind their own business as they escape.

It was a big laugh all over the internet and late night comedian shows. It didn’t help matters that The Don tried to hire local heroes and Shieldwall to clear off the building. Shieldwall couldn’t do the job. Too busy trying to track me down. The heroes that did take the money didn’t fare very well on their own. You ever disturb a horde of horny squirrels? Furry little humpmongers jumping around, landing on eyes and ears and mouths and noses. Scratches and bites. Thrusts. PETA protestors clung to legs, arms, even backs.

In perhaps the most accurate use of the term ever, it was a clusterfuck.

I only learned after the events of the past day why Shieldwall didn’t feel like making an easy million bucks.

Moai and I were just hanging out back at my crime crib, minding our own business. Not doing anything wrong at all. I was busy working on the Heatflasher. There were melted foci in that thing. Melted foci are a bad thing. Trust me, you don’t want your foci melted on a sensitive machine of mass death. I could have fired the thing without one, maybe two of them, but it had burned through all the primaries and a couple of the redundant ones. The rockets still worked, but the damn thing was out of commission as a weapon until I got it fixed. So I was elbows deep in the ‘Flasher when there was an explosion at the front door of the warehouse.

“Coming!” I shouted. Having solicitors like that sucks, but it’s even worse when they get impatient enough to blow your door to pieces. I scrambled into my armor and grabbed my laser potato peeler. You know, in case someone really needed their potatoes peeled. It happens.

I had time for all that thanks to the traps. “Moai, you make sure nobody sneaks in and destroys the ‘Flasher. Try to take at least one alive if it’s convenient.” I tossed the electrified cage over the heat ray again as I made my way to check on the traps.

All was surprisingly quiet. Too quiet. The Spamocles Sword room was empty. Too empty. No, really, it was too empty. The spam that had been left on the plate had clearly been disturbed, but that’s no surprise. Spam’s very existence has disturbed me for some time. There’s something not right about that food. Still, it had been poked and prodded, I knew that much, as the sword had clearly fired from the crate it had been hidden within. Anyone messes with the mystery meat on the plate, and the pressure plate beneath, and they got a sword to the head. In theory, at least. Blood stains showed someone survived long enough to bleed as they were dragged out. That means more than one enemy, including one without the decency to die for me.

The flashlight room was a different story. I rounded the corner to enter that room from behind the flashing lights and found a large robot with a head in the shape of a furiously roaring sloth standing in the middle of it, completely unperturbed by the razor blade strips laid over the floor, walls, and table of that makeshift room.

The part I didn’t see until it was too late was Miss Tycism summoning up a bolt of lightning that threw me back what I assume was several feet. I didn’t have time to lay down an exact number of foot longs sub sandwiches. I did have time to wish that my strobe light idea hadn’t worked against me that way.

The pair didn’t follow, giving me time to recover. Now, the last thing I should have done was run right back into the room. It’s what a moron would do in this kind of fight. I’d be coming at them from the exact same route. With all my abilities and knowledge of the terrain, there were any number of possible attack paths I could take. I chose to run right back into the room, albeit invisible and with the aid of holographic doubles.

They were on guard and the first doppelganger caught a hot bolt of purple lightning for his troubles. Ah, purple lightning. Must happen during a purple rainstorm. Still better than trying the Batdance in order to pull off some Pussy Control. That’s how Prince scares off the women.

The second hologram was found to not be a threat when the Mecha Human Sloth ran and put its fist through the thing. His bulky body provided me with an excellent opportunity to show Miss Tycism that she’d made a Miss Take invading my base of operations. I grabbed the table with its many blades and held it in front of me as I ran up Sloth’s back. I soared through the air like a fat hungover buzzard and slammed the table into Miss Tycism, puncturing a few minor veins. As an added bonus, they were her veins this time, not mine. What really made her scream was how it pushed into her and then scraped against her as I fell.

Mecha Human Sloth put himself between us as Miss Tycism levitated toward the roof and threw a green energy blast that removed a clean circle in the roof for her to escape.

They were being cautious. That still left me with Sloth to deal with. He charged and I went invisible. I jumped to the side. Despite my stealthy state, he adjusted and slammed into me. I hit the metal container behind me and was pushed against it. I thought I’d go right through it but it slid out of the way with a line of sparks.

Instead, Sloth kept going against the windows of the break room built into the front of the warehouse and threw me through it. I landed hard on a shoddy metal table and felt it collapse around me. I coughed a few times as I stood up then yelled to him, “Hey, I’m the one who throws me through windows, not you! Bad touch. Stranger danger!”

A metal claw dug into the drywall and tore it away with two swipes, opening that side up. It left me exposed in a kitchen area. If I ran, I could go to one side and escape out the room’s door, or to another side and take a bathroom break. I grabbed the coffee pot, pulled a small cord from it, and threw it at Sloth. The cold liquid inside did nothing. The block of C4 hidden in it did significantly more. It stumbled him. Don’t you love fighting someone like that?

I threw open the door to the refrigerator and began to empty the contents at him. He was unperturbed by the stink grenade. The knockwurst was useless. He slipped a little on the sour milk. The year-old birthday cake that had been in there long before I moved in dented his armor a little, I think.

It almost made me proud to see my work stand up to all this, but I was too busy seeing what I could do to get him in a better position. Except just then, the man in the red, white, and blue costume ran up. Bright Star, I think. Generates fireworks explosions. “Remember, you don’t close with him,” instructed Mecha Human Sloth.

“I remember. We won’t need to anyway. Everything’s coming down, Gecko,” spoke the smug patriotic hero. A smug hero is one thing, but one wrapped in a flag is much more grating.

“Let me guess, this is the point where you ask me to surrender and make things easy on you?”

Bright Star shook his head. “No. We don’t trust you enough to let you surrender, but if you want to knock yourself out I promise you’ll wake up in a cell with a toilet lid.”

“Guess I’d better handle that before this goes any further then,” I said and rushed over to the bathroom door. I closed it behind me as explosions blasted apart the kitchen. One of them took the door off the hinges, the toilet paper rolling over it and past Bright Star as he approached. A faint mist glowed in his palms as he got a little too close for comfort to find me on the john. “Eek!” I screamed and tried to cover up.

“Your pants aren’t even down,” he stoically informed me.

“I’m going to have to clean this armor out then. Do me a favor and hand me the TP?” I pointed to the roll of toilet paper.

He started to look and caught himself, so my swing with the toilet lid didn’t catch him completely offguard. It knocked his hand up, where a red explosion brought down pink insulation on me as I swung again. The lid broke as it popped him on the side of his face. He staggered back near the toilet paper with the now-armed Claymore mine within.

I flushed the toilet, triggering the remote.

The blast, which involves some C4 and hundreds of steel balls, didn’t catch him full-on, but it got him enough to rip open the back of his costume and send him into my waiting arms, where I raised him over my head and dropped him headfirst into the toilet bowl.

“We need evac on Bright Star. Man down. No visual on primary target,” I heard in the electronic growl of Sloth.

There was a lot of dust in the air, obscuring the much of the view, but I could see how they trashed the kitchen. They even left the sink hanging half off. Hmm…

“Here’s your visual, Slothy!” I yelled as I flew out of the ruined break room with a pipe in my hands. The porcelain sink it was attached to smacked into the face of the robot and shattered. I landed and spun, avoiding a retaliatory kick. “Too slow, Three-Toe.” I used the pipe to keep him from bringing he leg back down. Unable to compensate, he fell. I circled around to the eyes of the machine with a very important question to ask. “Hey, does this look like a laser to you?”

I fired the potato peeler into Mecha Human Sloth’s mechanical eyes and saw them crack. His flailings failed to find or fling me, so I took the time to run off to the main room and workshop.

A disheveled Forcelight was there. As usual. Of course. She had gotten shocked by the electric cage as she tossed it away. I let out a loud “Oh shit!” and turned to run for the side door. Forcelight pursued. Instead of blasting me out of my pants, she was closing to melee. Works for me and the reverse punji. She caught up to me at the door and I ducked. She flew over the threshold and the welcome mat thrust up into the air. The spring-loaded mechanism threw her up to the spiked awning overhead that clamped around her as she bumped into it. Then the thrusters kicked in. The awning broke away from the building and flew straight off into the distance with its captive.

It was glorious. Too bad it probably didn’t kill her.

When I got back inside, I found a cracked Moai slowly rolling over to the HeatFlasher to guard it. “You’re looking beat up, Moai. I expect you did the best you could?”

He nodded, then tipped his head toward a hole in the wall shaped like a small woman wearing a giant backpack with waldos coming out of it.

“Good. Doesn’t look like they see have us completely surrounded anymore. Bright Star, Sloth, Forcelight, Miss Tycism, and Troubleshooter out of the way for now. I’ll call in the cavalry. You take the scooter. I’ll have to get the ‘Flasher and the car myself. Side door’s clear.”

Moai didn’t move.

“Now, go, go, go! We don’t have all day.”

Moai slowly nodded, then hopped towards the side door. I made my way to the big giant screen in the main room and tried to call up old friends via video call.

“Elita!” I proclaimed happily. Elita the Warrior Woman dropped her loofa and covered her wet body up with her arms, then the shower curtain. “Listen, amigo, I need some help with-“ She punched out her own screen. “Why the hell do you have one in the shower then?!”

Next call went through to a grey room. “Hello? Max, you there?” Holly flopped over into view, waving the smoke out of her face.

“Hey Gex. What’s up?”

“I’m in a pickle here. I need backup in Empyreal City.”

“Mmm..pickle. Pickles sounds good,” she said, then called out into the obscured room, “Hey guys, let’s go get some pickles!” Then she turned to me, “Hey, we’re all feeling kinda hungry here. We’re gonna take a snack brake from working on the bazhookah. You should stop by some time.” She then switched the screen off.

Who else do I have in my contacts…

Captain Flamebeard appeared on screen in a shower cap, steam rising off his beard. With a scream, he dropped his loofah and went to cover up his nipples. Water splashed against the screen as he frantically scrabbled to turn it off. All I got to say before the transmission ended was, “You know waxing is a thing now, right?”

That was more body hair than I hoped to see in one place.

It looked like help wasn’t on the way. There was just one last person left to call.

The next person to appear on screen was Ouroboros. He was taken aback by my appearance on his monitor. “Douche,” I said, and cut the feed.

“He really is,” said a familiar feminine voice from behind me. I turned to find a beauty in pink, gold, and white armored tights.

“Trying to take me on one-on-one again, Venus?” I spoke amiably. We were, after all, old enemies by now.

“Remember, one of us actually has friends. They’ll be here soon. And,” she pulled out one of their old EMP rods, “You’re not going anywhere anyway.” She activated it. Her hair lifted up briefly as the EMP hit.

I saw the lights on the Heatflasher go dark while my own armor went dead for a few moments. It rebooted and I approached the ‘Flasher and set a gloved hand down on it. Venus circled me, but kept her distance. “What’s a matter, your Caddy out of gas?” said a man in greased hair and a tiger-stripped jumpsuit glimmering with rhinestones in the shape of lightning bolts. The Honky Tonk Hero pointed his guitar at me. “Did you forget to remember to forget about me?”

A man trailing red and blue glowing lines dropped down on the other side of the Heatflasher. His armor was black metal and he brandished a high-tech katana. He didn’t say anything, as always. “Huh, you know I’d just about forgotten about you,” I told him.

“Mechamoto has been busy. I missed out on fighting the alien incursion thanks to you, but he got a lot of experience against warriors in power armor from it. By the way, sorry we’re late for the party. Someone blew up our ride,” said a marble teen in gold tights with yellow griffin designs.

“You got some valuable experience too, Apollo. Don’t forget that ass-whoopin’,” I chuckled and noticed a blinking red light on the console of the Heatflasher, “Well, I think we’ve waited long enough, lady and gentlemen.”

They all got in fighting stances. I got in the Heatflasher and fired up the rockets. I heard someone call out, “The fuck?” as I lifted off.

“Ahahahaha, it’s called redundancy, bitches. Ciao!” I called to them and slammed the ‘Flasher into the big giant screen. It crashed to the floor as I ascended and made for the hole in the roof. I caught a view of a white gleaming dot flying towards me and gave it the finger while hitting the stick to get my ass out of the line of fire.

And so I live to fight another day, like for getting my car back or setting this thing on a skyscraper and going to town on the town if I find a scratch on my car when I blow up the impound.

Next

Previous

Get Wrecked 11

Legs are back and working just fine after a little jabbing with needles. I had to sit around, but the Reds didn’t come back. The Greens and Yurples are gone too. The guys in charge have changed up where they’re hiding. The Reds are outright hostile, Big Red having figured out what I did to get the Yurples on my side. I know that because another squad showed up. They opened up on the building with the humvee-mounted minigun.

“Yeah, you gonna fuck over anybody, ain’t you? Well you ain’t fuckin’ over the Reds! Not you or any other power hungry mad dog who thinks we’re nothing but labor to be used up and spat out. We’re the Reds! A family. A Soviet. A revolution.”

It sounded really impressive right up until I flung a headless rubber chicken out. They laughed at it even as it got to its feet and began walking. And walking. And boom. Then I was the one laughing. For the visually impaired, here’s the sound effects: “ratttttttttttta, ha ha ha, flooooong, boink, waka waka waka waka, fwoom!”

The Yurples and the Greens just bugged after all that because nobody wants to fight a heroic colossus. I tried to tell them we could just get some swords and some climbing lessons and take it out with a few well-placed stabs to the weak point, but they hung up. I guess it doesn’t help that none of them, not even the Yurples, fully got over me starting a gang war. Greed and fear of me is one thing. Fear of Paveman has overshadowed that, it seems.

That’s one thing Machiavelli left out of that little satire of his. Fear only works so long as you’re the thing they’re most afraid of. That didn’t mean I was out of cards to play, though. I took some footage out of the ole memory banks. Suddenly, the cops would like to speak to the bosses about their connections to arms dealing, prison breaking, drug trafficking, and not having tags on boat trailers.

As for going after Paveman…well…that had to wait until Halloween. There’s the truce for Halloween, and it’s just an occasion I enjoy.

There’s just something about Halloween. A holiday of costumes and masks. See, a lot of people in the U.S. get dressed up for it, but especially those with simple, childlike minds. So kids and politicians. Either way, you have lots of people running around in costumes and masks. A hero could drop in on his nemesis only to find he’s beating up his next door neighbor. A villain could kidnap some heroine he’s obsessed with and find out it’s just some random woman named Jenny.

So we take the day off. That simple. It’s more of a community thing. You know, there’s villain websites, villain news, even villain parties around. It’s not a huge deal. There are no gigantic team-ups in a legion or anything. They don’t invite me. They have all these unofficial rules, chiefly that you shouldn’t kill heroes. They gave me a shot, once, at a party. Some heroes they invited didn’t like me, though, and murdering a friend of theirs stuck in their craw a lot worse than just killing a hostage. The difference between the Them that don’t have powers or masks, and the Us that do.

I didn’t think it was that big of a deal. I was new. I’d made a grand entrance at the center of an explosion that wiped out a town. I was mysterious and dangerous. Boy was I ever mysterious and dangerous. I was also weak. First responders show up, with heroes among them. I couldn’t speak the language, I didn’t know where I was. I lashed out. Well, technically the guy with the whip lashed out. I just hung him with it. Hanged him with it. To this day, I don’t even know enough English to tell which of those past tense versions of “hang” is correct. But I know now that whippersnapper was the friend of a very annoying person with a shrill voice.

So after I got forcibly ejected by a talking erudite dinosaur, they explained why I’d no longer be on the mailing list. Something about escalation and other reasons. Ooh, I remember now. Because if heroes and villains fight but don’t try to kill each other, then people feel safer about the fact that people with superpowers are fighting each other but not killing each other. I think they were bullshitting me on that one, but I’m just not allowed at parties anymore. I suppose I can see the escalation thing, someone. I don’t need their stinkin’ community, though. With parties. And Blackjack. And hookers. Actually, one of the villains used to be a prostitute. Nice lady. Her name was Minnie the Moocher and I’ll have to tell you a story about her sometime. Ah, but I’m telling a little too much now as it is instead of showing.

I like the Halloween truce, though. It’s based on sound reasoning, and I am obviously a perfectly rational person. Plus, it’s maybe the only day of the year I have fans here. Not many, but they exist. Maybe

You know, the whole killing people all the time thing, that really turns off the costume makers. I get Icelandic death metal guys that like to run around pretending they’re into murder and mayhem while singing loud. They’re not here even on Halloween, though.

So I just kinda mingled. Walked around in costume with Moai by my side, out in the open, for everyone to see. There were no random high fives. Is it too much to ask that someone would just randomly want to high five me? Anyway, walking got boring, so we stopped by Central Park, which is the temporary home of the Statue of Liberty right now. Paveman took the day off from using his power on it. The only problem was finding a pose that worked. There were supports all in the thing, down to the base. He didn’t take the base, though, and the human body isn’t perfectly balanced. Throw in the wind, and there was potential for some real danger or embarrassment there.

The danger was if it fell over. The embarrassment was if he chose a pose like Lady Liberty on all fours. Instead, she’s got her arms out from her sides and a wide stance. Reminds me of Vitruvian Man, actually. I guess we’ll find out if Paveman is as good at balancing copper statues as he is at taking over them

I thought his power involved sucking up nearby rocks and stones and stoney-like things. I never really figured out how that applied to asphalt, but I figured that was just some sort of theme thing. I don’t know exactly how it works, and Paveman’s not talking about it, so I just have to assume he can pull that on metal. He must have tried to pull in almost the entire Statue, future chewing outs be damned!

As a man who uses metal on a suit to help protect myself from bullets, this ability is cause for concern. As a man vulnerable to being squished by something giant, so is what he pulled with the Statue.

I ran into him there, by the way. He and Apollo were posing for the kids, taking photographs, giving autographs.

“Hey,” I said, and gave a little wave.

“Hiya,” said Paveman. Apollo frowned.

“How’s the autographs going?”

“They’re ok. Thinking of joining me for a few? Play up the big fight?” Paveman offered. He may be old school and made of road that’s had roadkill on it…but Paveman’s got class. There are some concerned adults around and the cops are eyeing me funny, but I struck a pose.

“Moai, look threatening,” I said. He didn’t move. I checked the rear display. Nope. No moving, “I can see you didn’t do anything. I said look threatening.” Once again nothing. Then, he slowly began to tip.

“Look out, it’s gonna fall!” someone in the crowd shouted. Moai just held himself there. Itself. Whatever. It’s pretty much interchangeable with the big lug.

“Good job,” I told him. Then, to Paveman, “So, you want to lock up, or have us just about to punch or what?”

“Locking up isn’t very photogenic. Maybe an action pose, where I’m holding your throat and getting ready to hit,” he said.

“Good thinking. I can be kicking you in the stones,” I said.

“I like it. That image really shows how you fight,” he told me as I stood there and let him put his hand around my throat. He raised his hand up as if to swing an ungainly punch at my head.

Moai just tilted ominously near us, as if about to fall.

I grabbed at his wrist with one hand and lifted my leg, resting my shin gently between his legs as I spoke, “Well, I doubt they’d let us get away with me trying to stick my hand up your-“

“Whoa! Dad, you’re cool with this?” Apollo interrupted.

“Son, it’s Halloween. He’s not fighting, we’re not fighting,” Paveman tried to reassure his son.

“Yeah, for all you know I could just be a man in a costume, guy-whose-name-I-don’t-know-because-I’m-just-a-man-in-a-costume,” I said to cover my ass.

“A lot of us think that breaking the rules like you do means you shouldn’t be protected by them. I’m inclined to agree with them with the way you treated Venus and the Human Sloth. I heard you had to kill him because he was beating you in a breakdance fight.”

“Fool! Nobody can outdance me! Except for Stephen Hawking, that is, but I have sworn revenge upon him!” I yelled, throwing my fist to the sky. It stayed attached, in case you were wondering.

Apollo furrowed his brow as contemplated the implications of my outburst, “Definitely Psycho Gecko. You’re really like that all the time?”

I lowered my upthrust hand and answered with a question, “Like what?”

“You are fairly eccentric,” Paveman said.

“Such a statement from Mountain Man and Boulder Boy does not impress me. It wouldn’t even impress your friend the talking gorilla,” I turned away from Paveman to address the crowd, “We’re all different, unique even. Would you pave over those differences and stay a uniform cog in the machine? I hope not. Arete, my friends. Be the best you that you can be. For all your strengths and all your faults, be absolutely fucking awesome!”

I got applause, save for a few people with sour expressions and kids with innocent little ears who never heard the word “fuck” before no matter how many times their parents watched HBO or hit their own thumb with a hammer.

Despite the possibility I’d get to people, the heroes posed with me and we all had a time. Kids brought us candy, which is another good thing about Halloween, and then they left to go to some hero charity Halloween ball or something. Not even an invitation for poor lil Psycho Gecko. But that’s ok. I don’t need their balls! Psycho Gecko doesn’t need any balls at all!

What I needed was to finish work on my special weapon…the Heat Ray! Ok, it needs a better name. I can do this. Think, think, think…lightbulb! Beware, heroes, for soon you shall feel the wrath of my terrible Heatflasher! I’m just glad I didn’t have to give up my ride. I was considering cannibalizing my scooter for parts so I didn’t have to rewire a few things, but luckily I didn’t have to lose the Minstrel cycle.

Lady Liberty will be the first, something to draw their attention as I failed to merely amuse myself with it. Soon, this city will be forced to defend itself with a Shieldwall. Soon, it will be shattered…bwahahahahaha!

The Shieldwall, that is. I don’t care if the city is. Just wanted to clarify the subject there. Good grammar and all that. Oh, and I definitely didn’t mean the State of Liberty would be shattered, just in case you were wondering.

Now back to what I was doing before…Bwahahahahahaha!

Next

Previous

Get Wrecked 10

Yep, we got traitors. And obstructionists. And people who just didn’t want to go along with the plan at the last minute. Well I don’t need them! I didn’t want to pay them anyway!

I knew something was up. I got another email from Dame insisting that I had a leak. At first I didn’t know what gave her such special insight into my bladder, but then I realized she was just confirming what I’d somewhat suspected before. She never did clarify anything for me, though.

I suspect that she counted our little arrangement as over with by now. As far as I can tell, she wasn’t actively opposing me at the time. I hadn’t let her in on the scheme, but who knows how she’d have reacted as an art lover to my desire to update a national monument.

The Yurples did much better under the new management, though. Without their enthusiasm, I’d have never been ready for this at this point. Can you imagine, waiting even longer for this? I was beginning to suspect I’d never get to it before the big Halloween Truce. More on that to come, I’m sure, but for now I’ll just say that people tend to take a break when regular people start running around in costumes pretending to be monsters, sexy monsters, superheroes, supervillains, and sexy supervillains. Sadly, despite that last category, I don’t think anyone’s ever bothered selling a Psycho Gecko costume.

The whole thing actually makes Halloween one of the safest nights of the year, and one of the most fun. Some powers are pretty good for fitting in with the holiday, like pretty much anyone who can ride a horse and survive removing their own head.

But enough about Halloween, when even I won’t be riding dirty. Let’s talk about yesterday. We had gotten everything ready. After a car ride in full armor with some Greens who couldn’t appreciate Gwen Stefani’s “Wind It Up”, I arrived at the departure point. It was an old dock, with Lady Liberty herself standing straight off in the distance. It normally sees a less violent crowd mingling around. Not Yurple, Red, and Green squads all ready to haul ass on motor boats and helicopters. It was a wonderful sight, almost enough to distract me from my list of Greens to suffer accidents due to poor musical taste. Whether that’s poor taste on my part or theirs is probably up to you. Who doesn’t have a guilty pleasure?

All of a sudden, whammo! A car when flying right into one of the parked helicopters, causing the pilot to scramble for safety and a place to change his undies. Care to take a guess who was involved? That’s right, it was Paveman, who must have figured it was “bring your son to fight crime” day. Yeah, great time to deal with it. Even worse, the Reds were conspicuously slow to react. They were so slow, they moved further away and left all the fighting up to the Greens and Yurples, who were still strapped with various salvaged guns. I didn’t have Moai with me, though. Considering what was about to transpire, it was a good thing I’d left him behind to guard the Shithole Inn.

I had my air gun. Poor, nonlethal air gun. I walked calmly over the Green car, popped the trunk, and hauled it out. A couple of Yurples flew through the air past me as I looked it over, brushed off the barrel, and turned to see who would get a face full of my foul wind.

On the one hand, the Reds deserved it, the assholes. On the other hand, the heroes were doing a good job countering the exploding rounds from those futuristic weapons. Trash cans, dumpsters, car doors, cable spools, anything they could use to block the rounds, they tried. Instead of hitting and exploding against rock hard abs, a door would be hit and explode further away from the body, saving the physically tough heroes the full extent of the blow. This helped them get close enough to smack around the gangbangers.

Speaking of blow, I instead jumped for the retreating Reds. Big Red wasn’t among them, not for a betrayal like this, but this one skinny fucker I landed on would have to do. He went down a little too easily, though, and in the attempt to regain my balance, I felt my knee wrench in a way knees aren’t supposed to. I also felt a rib crack, but that was on the skinny man, so no problem there. The rest started running for it as I grabbed their downed friend.

I hauled him to his feet and gave a hard shove with my cannon, embedding the barrel in the unfortunate Red’s colon region.

“Yo,” I yelled, amplifying my voice through the helmet’s speakers, “Dudley Do-Right dirty dermis motherfuckers!” No response. The pair were concentrating on beating up my guys. I grabbed a shipping pallet and spun around, the wee skinny bent over Red man spinning with me. I let fly with the pallet, breaking it over Paveman’s head, who finally noticed me.

“Ah, good, got your attention. Now, face the wrath of super minion, dun dun dun dun!” I squeezed the trigger and held it there, After a long second of sliding and bulging in odd places, the Red took flight. He was propelled toward Paveman but sadly stopped short and slid along the pothole-ridden pavement.

“Well that blows. To the flying machine! And the swimming machines for those assigned to that duty,” I pointed toward the vehicles with the air gun.

“But boss, what about them?”

“These pet rocks will be useless on the water. Just make sure to circle around with the helo for me to jump aboard. They’re merely heroes, my good fellows. Now, get to the choppa!”

The remaining Greens dropped empty weapons and picked up hurt comrades. The remaining pilot hadn’t yet bugged out, but it looked like he was getting the rotors ready for it.

Meanwhile, I had to deal with the rocky hero pugilism show. They muttered between themselves, not sure who to go after. I made the decision for them. I settled the gun on my back with its strap. Then I jumped and flipped in place, activating one of my favorite illusions. I seemed to split in midair as the real me disappeared. The three separate holograms of me landed differently. One began to dance around like capoeira, another stumbled like a drunk man, and the third swayed, one hand emulating the head movements of a snake. One reacted more slowly than the others to charge in time with me toward the heroes.

Helped by Apollo, Paveman hopped on top of a cargo container and drew from it, creating holes and wearing it away as he drew it up into his own body, growing blocky and bulky and grooved in the process. Wait a minute. Metal? He’s done concrete, cement, pavement, asphalt, and rock. Metal is new.

I figured I’d keep an eye on him as I got in close to Apollo. He swung, fist moving right through the fakes. I threw punches to make it seem like they were somewhat real, for better confusion. Can’t exactly dance around with this gun on my back. The drunken boxer swung and I moved my fist with it, knocking Apollo’s head back slightly. The snake fighter went for a blow from one side as the drunken boxer went to strike again. I backed up the snake illusion this time. Then the capoeira fighte jumped in close with a flip. This time, I swept Apollo’s legs rather than pretend to be any of them. Apollo stumbled and managed to stand for a moment before dropping to his ass.

I wondered what his dad was doing and found him no longer on the half-consumed container. I turned and looked to find him having laid down small columns of metal down into the bay. Ok, got to give him credit. Don’t know where the creativity came from, but this time he got around me and was even small enough at the end that he didn’t capsize the boat he landed on. It helped that he tossed out the generators and welders after the Yurples who had abandoned ship.

That’s one plan that’s gone FUBAR. For those not familiar with the term, it means “fucked up beyond all recognition”.

I looked up and found the copter circling around above me. I had to get up there, but Apollo was back on his feet. I needed some space. The final frontier. Dropping the invisibility, I also dropped to my back and hit the jumper in one leg. When I kicked Apollo, it did a couple of things. First and foremost, I delivered Apollo into a Smart Car via air mail. Not the smartest move on my part, though, as it felt like I’d shoved my femur halfway up my dick. Which is also the only way I can explain the woody I had when all this went down.

I unstrapped the gun and settled the barrel against the ground to help me balance on my one good leg. Said good leg had a twisted knee from earlier, so I needed the boost from firing it as I jumped for my ride. It helped greatly that one of them got the idea to throw down a ladder, because I’d have missed. They helped me up too. Good guys, those Greens.

“Go, get out to the statue! Somebody, fetch me those rockets. I didn’t put up with all this shit just to give up after the first plan is fuck balls deep.” I held out my gun for a Green, who took it. Another loyal Green handed me the long metal tube of my rocket launcher. “Good, now somebody scoot me towards the edge.” A pair of Greens pushed me closer to the open door. “How many we got for this thing on here, anyway?”

“Three rockets, plus one in the tube, sir.”

“It’ll have to do. I don’t know what Paveman’s aiming for down there, but let’s sink his battleship,” I turned to find my target, only to find the clever little hero with the newly-revealed powers had gotten to Liberty Island while I was dicking around.

I wasted a shot trying to catch him at the door, but I have worse long range aim with explosives than a black Scottish cyclops. “Huh…oh well, not like hiding inside is going to save him. Circle strafe it for me!” Next shot, I aimed for the crotch. A Brazilian for the Frenchwoman! Not really. Can’t be that precise with these things, which is why this is a backup plan. Doesn’t help that these guys are out of whatever high-ex rounds they had, and their buddies in the boats are turning around for shore now that I’m giving the Statue a taste of my rocket.

We circled the statue. Brazilian, check. No breast implants, though. Had to go with a breast reduction. Oh well, it’ll help the old lady’s back. Blew the right one clean off. I guess we’re going for an Amazon look. Not much to do with the back itself. I was tempted to make that booty nice and flat, but the last one has to count. So clearly I had to go for the cheek lift. Problem is, I opened up a whole.

Well, crap. It’s just like Max told Good Doctor this one time, “Happiness is not a warm scalpel.” Or maybe Doc said that to Max. Maybe I just imagined someone saying it. Oh well.

Either way, I saw a slim and trim Paveman bounding along the walkway and grab some sort of handhold right near the face hold. He swung out along the face and seemed to meld with the copper to help himself up to the top.

What the fuck was he doing there, you ask? Don’t feel bad, I asked it too. But with fewer cusswords, you sick freaks. Now fucking pay attention. He made his way to the top of the crown and it looked like he was pulling in a shitload of that green copper. Then it all changed. He sank into it, like it was too much and it was eating him up. Then I saw the blasted portions and torn metal pull together and reform into an undamaged tarnished. Except the face, boobs, and crotch weren’t fully repairs. Nope. They became male.

“Back up, boys. Shit is going down,” I warned the pilot. He was right there with me and pulled back. The view he left me with showed a State of Paveman. I considered that maybe he wanted to do something like my plan.

Then he stepped forward.

One of the smarter Greens pounded on the back of the pilot’s seat. “Grab your shit, motherfucker, let’s go!” I had no disagreement. We hauled ass back to shore, although the Greens insisted they be let off. I dropped down with them. Good thing Apollo wasn’t still right there.

“Alright, boys, glad to see you’re still willing to put up a fight. I’ll tie up with the right arm and left leg. You guys, see if you can find something to take one of them off while I have it distracted,” I instructed and held up my glowing fists in an old timey boxing stance. I didn’t hear anything back. I turned to look and found they’d all made a run for the city. “Guys? Hey guys, where are you going, the fight’s this way!”

“Screw you!”

“Hey, you work for me!” I tried to point out, but they ignored me and drove off.

I just had to watch as Paveman swatted and kicked at the other boats. He plucked the gangbangers out of the water and held them in one giant, and presumably jolly, green hand. Then he turned to me. As I can’t really drain the charge from my gloves, I unloaded on a dumpster laying on its side. It didn’t reach nearly far enough.

I disappeared and only watched as far as Paveman yanking the escaping chopper out of the air and tearing the blades off.

Looks like someone took my lesson about stepping over the line for once. He got in a lot of trouble, but there’s a limit to how much even I could fight that thing. There’s also a limit to how long Paveman could possibly stay in there. Even by stopping me, he’s annoying Empyreal City to no end.

And, just to be clear, I do give the guy points for style. He’s living it up and doing Halloween parades in that thing, complete with that “Higher and Higher” song and a huge police detail. For right now, though, there’s nothing to do but put on a tan jumpsuit and try to get a picture with the thing, especially because none of the gangs are returning my calls. Like fighting a colossus is really that scary. Not that I’d do it alone right now.

I even found a bunch of beat up Reds around my apartment when I got back. Not only did they chicken out, they tried to come after where I lay my head at night. Once again, glad to have Moai there to stomp mudholes in those Bolshevik bastards. Especially with these legs.

Hope y’all have a Happy Halloween even without the destruction of a national monument. I know I’ll try to with the aid of lots and lots of candy, preferably stolen from humans that are incapable of walking on their own.

 

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Previous

Get Wrecked 9

It’s awfully hard for a guy to get some work done around here, even with these guys on my side now. If it’s not the questions, it’s them refusing to work as hard as I want. If they’re working, it’s the interruptions. If it’s not the interruptions, it’s the disloyalty.

Can’t a guy work on a way to kill a few hundred thousand people in peace?!

I mean, sure, I have those assholes gather up all the stuff we’ll need for the Statue of Libety job, at least when Paveman isn’t ambushing some of them in the line of duty, but my eyes have to stay on the prize. That means I spent a lot of time working on the gun that’s a major part of making that happen. The prize is the destruction of Shieldwall, utterly and totally, and that means I finish building this intricate piece of hardware. I can imagine the headlines now. “Stupid heroes defeated by handsome, dashing, and well-hung rogue!”

“Boss. Boss! Hey, guy in charge, can you hear what I am saying?”

That, for example, is the kind of interruption I had to deal with.

I turned away from where I was lost in my thoughts to look at the Green who’d been sent to inform me of something. What had he been sent to inform me about? Why are you asking me? Ask him instead. “What do you want?” I asked him instead.

“We got a problem. Those two heroes got the Yurple boss in custody. He’s down at the precinct right now.”

I looked up from my screwing. I mean, I had a screwdriver and I was using it. “How’d they know where he was holed up?” The leaders were now in other accommodations. We knew where they were, but the point was that the father and son heroes fighting against us wouldn’t.

Oh yeah, Paveman’s still around, still ok. Whatever the specifics of his power, it’s not limited to rocks. I don’t know if there’s much of the original man under all of it anymore, but it gives him a surprising ability to bounce back from injury.

“I guess that worked out for him, didn’t it? Didn’t want to bother making sure Paveman was finished and now he’s been spanked by him instead. You ever fought a team of superheroes?”

The messenger shook his head.

“Well that’s too bad and is subject to change. Apollo, he of the body of a Greek god sculpture, still has their number and we have a traitor.” That last bit was very possible, but I don’t know for sure. I have to either break out Yurple Nurple or leave him in there. The second option means his gang will become uncooperative. Uncooperative is unhealthy around me, but people have notably thick skulls. I should know, I’ve busted enough of them. Might have to bust Nurple’s head if I leave him, because there are legal benefits to talking about more important criminals.

In the interest of not being defeated quite so easily, it’s time to try and maneuver a loss or a setback into something more useful. Improvisation, if done properly, is how you turn a setback into something helpful or at least not harmful to your goals. It can also impart a psychological advantage to your actions if it appears that anything done to you doesn’t even slow you down. And if everything done to you helps you even more, then you’ll really get people freaking out.

“A traitor? Why do you think that?”

I grabbed the Green by his shirt and slammed him against the wall. Bringing my face closer to his, I growled at him, “Because we are the only ones who knew where he was. In fact, not even all of you guys knew where he was. This was someone in the mid-to-high information group. Middle management and up. The assistant director of Strickland propane is naming names to the heroes! Help me find him! This man won’t be king of the hill while I’m around…unless it was you.” I narrowed my eyes at him and raised the screwdriver in my hand menacingly. Believe me, this screwdriver wasn’t meant for drinking alone on a Saturday night.

“Hey, it’s not me! Geez, you’re paranoid.”

“Paranoid?!” I raised the screwdriver closer to his eye, “Who told you I was paranoid? I want names!”

“Nobody fucking told me you were paranoid! Don’t put my eye out, man. I don’t know anything!”

“Oh yeah? What’s the capital of France?”

His panicked answer was, “Napoleon, D.C.?”

I let him go. “Good answer. Just what I wanted to hear.” He really didn’t know anything. I set him down and tossed the screwdriver behind me. It landed with the sound of broken glass.

“Alright, I think it’s very important I get ole Yurple Nurple out of there. Then we can focus on the traitor.”

Sometime later, I finished explaining my plan to the other two bosses and a couple of their top guys via conference call.

“Why tell us all of this?” asked Mean Green. I still haven’t bothered with their names. Rather than calling one Bob, one Jane, and the last one Slagathor, I’ve nicknamed them Big Red, Mean Green, and Yurple Nurple.

“Just in case any of y’all were willing to help out a comrade in arms or felt threatened if I was to run around killing people at the lockup. I know you don’t have a history of cooperation, but it can be useful to coordinate information like this when working together. Especially when working on my noble mission to help what’s-his-name escape from police custody as he clearly wants me to. And I will answer that call, because I care about him that much. Whoever he is.”

“But he’s got a-,” Big Red started to say, but I interrupted.

“I’ll get with y’all about who owes me the getaway car for him, later, bye!”

I hung up.

Even later than that, I set up on the opposite side of a small park across from the police station. It was in a nicer part of town, not too far from where they busted Yurple Nurple. As far as I could tell from the reports, Nurple was out and menacing a waiter. Well that’s just stupid.

Ladies and gentlemen, a tip: lots of people have attempted to get better service by asking “Don’t you know who I am?” when they were known to be criminals. So long as there’s no proof, it’s not all that bad. Being witnessed in the presence of a supervillain, making a deal with him, and working with him changes the nature of that question. They were in hiding for a reason.

They also had their own lawyers and the benefit of a legal system that takes awhile to get working, so it’s not really urgent that Nurple is released. It just fits into my plan better. If anything, getting broken out by me would just make him look worse.

I was on the other side of the part, as I said, with some gun I’d burglarized from a house while no one was home.

Moai came bouncing around the corner from where he parked the Minstrel and through the doors. From past experience, I knew he had a tendency to crash through a lot of things. Doors. Desks. People. Metal bars in a holding cell. It felt like it took forever. 16.37 minutes, according to my helmet. When Moai emerged, it was bouncing behind the confused-looking Yurple Nurple. He ran for it, across the street, egged on by Moai toward where a car was supposed to be.

I’d told the Yurples that the Reds had a car for them. The Reds thought the Greens provided a car. The Greens figured the Yurples had a car for their own guy. You’ll be much closer to enlightenment when you realize that the car is like a spoon. There is no spoon. There was no car. There was, to all the world, a uniformed police officer who pulled a gun and shot the fleeing criminal dead. He disappeared, and I made my public appearance in full armor then, running to the side of the criminal that had been shot by a cop they’ll never find.

Moai adjusted his course to head for the corner now that his part was finished. He just had to get to the Minstrel cycle and escape.

My part then was to look distraught for the cameras as I cradled the body of Nurple, shouting “Whyyyy?!” up into the air all dramatically.

“Whyyy?! Oh, you took him too soon, Lord!” I yelled as I held him in my arms. Speaking of dramatic stuff, I love doing things all hammy. “This, this death scene…it’s so tragic!” Hammy is good. “Who’ll take care of the children now?! Think of the children!” When I’m having a good time, I might as well show it. “You animals, why must everything I love be shot by police?”

It was around that time that Nurple spoke. It was soft owing to the massive physical trauma. “Help me…get…to…hospital.”

More than a half dozen officers had run outside by this time with their weapons drawn. I grabbed Nurple and lifted him up princess-style in my arms. “I’m going to kill you for shooting this man. You hear me? Each and every one of you has signed your own death warrants!” I called out to them.

Suddenly, Apollo sped onto the scene on a motorcycle. He braked, did a front wheelie, and came to a stop, then held out his hands toward the cops, “Don’t, I’ll handle it!”

I hoped the police would fire on me. They did fire on me. After they were all clicking empty, I glanced down at the man in my arms. Yep, definitely dead now. I tossed him aside. “Well, going to have to give you a rain check on the death warrants. I don’t have my dancing shoes with me and without those I just can’t serve y’all.”

I disappeared and got out of there, leaving the Yurple leader clearly shot dead by cops and Apollo clearly unsatisfied at not having even a chance to bring me in.

Earlier today, the Yurples worked out who their new leader is going to be. I backed a fellow who looked just bright enough to realize he needed to do what I said or he’d wind up dead. It was easy. Sure, they had some infighting over who got to be the boss now, but then I showed up and shook my guy’s hand. Not much reason to differentiate. Same scruffy face, same pasty skin. Only difference is, this one has a fauxhawk and an earring on one ear. I think I’ll call him…Rain. Yurple Rain.

“So happy to see the gang is all united behind you. In the interest of keeping our working relationship smooth, I was all set to eliminate any threats to the unity of the Yurples that might have arisen in these tumultuous times!”

As the other potential leaders got the hint, Rain shook my hand back and responded accordingly, “Yes, you did a great deal for our gang. Even if our old boss’s wish to be freed wasn’t carried out to anyone’s satisfaction, we can all agree that you’ve shown your goodwill to us. It’s only right that we show true goodwill and hospitality to you.”

Just think, some guys earn people’s loyalty with special missions that help them instead. The gang’s got some pep in their step. Big Red and Mean Green have been a little cold toward me, though. I should be able to hit Lady Liberty next week unless they pull something. Maybe point out that they tried to tell me that Yurple guy had a lawyer and wouldn’t need to escape. Maybe realize they’d been lied to about the car.

Good thing I have people thinking that somebody in this bunch ratted them out with all that talk of a traitor. If either of the bosses speaks out against me and we’ll suddenly find they’re our traitor.

Now have a good night you crazy drunken bastards out there reading this.

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Previous

Get Wrecked 8

Mwahaha. Hahahahahahaha! Ahahahahahahahahaha! Cue lightning strike there.

You don’t know how hard it is for me to resist putting a pinky to my mouth when I do that. Luckily, I don’t have that problem when I pull off a real, mad scientist-grade evil laugh. You know, one of those where you just can’t stop laughing at all the destructive power in your hands. For me, it usually involves something where committing a war crime is as easy as pulling a trigger.

Seems like I’ve lost my wonderful laugh lately. So hard to just enjoy the little things, like going for a stroll, flashing back to a time you were ambushed by infantry trying to stop you destroying their world, then coming back to your senses in the middle of somebody’s house with lots of blood and few solid body parts laying around.

Maybe that’s just me, though.

One final coffin nail. One more. No more need to wallow in worry and paranoia over plans not coming together all because I have to have one to take down these heroes. It’s a joke. Heroes aren’t going to do on their own what they can’t do as a team. More on that later, actually.

The update from Dame had some interesting things.

“Paveman was let go as part of financial haggling. The accountants trying to clean up the team of those who seem less effective in battle to mitigate agreements made before the change in corporate leadership. He is bitter, but not disgruntled. His son is visiting him to cheer him up. He tends toward alcoholism and wallowing in memories. Enjoys cheap beer and the movie Red Dawn. Is planning on looking into a gang meet to discuss the hostilities and presence of possible third party interference.

Computer reveals leftover details about you. They aren’t sure what’s wrong with you, but suspect a combination of mental disorders, save for Venus. She suspects your actions are unconventional, but deliberate. They leave enemies unable to react and make you appear more intimidating. Sanely choosing actions to make less imaginative minds think you’re crazy. Lone Gunman supports analysis, is in favor of extreme measures to end the threat. Lone Gunman disciplined by Forcelight.”

Sounds nice. I hope she used something more forceful than a boarding school paddle. Damn, if they put that on video, that’d take care of their funding permanently. Not that I’d buy it, of course.

It was nice knowledge to have, especially in light to a little meet and greet I’d arranged. My armor may not be the fanciest or most powerful out there. Doesn’t give me the most incredible of super strength, just enough to get by. It’s bullet proof, except against big enough guns with armor piercing bullets. There are special sheathes of energy it can create around the gloves, but they have to charge up and are useful for hand to hand only. It provides life support, but I can’t patch it up without easily expended nanites. I can leap tall buildings in a single bound…provided I like the sound of breaking bones in the morning. Which I do, though I prefer if they weren’t my own. The computer helps me a great deal, but when can I pay attention to it in the heat of battle? What it has that other power armor, doesn’t, though? My brain interfacing with it and the numerous small cameras and projectors placed around it to create realistic holograms, some of which disguise me or render me invisible.

As you may have noticed by now, I love to put that to use more than any other aspect of it. In this case, I went to each gang disguised as a member of that gang to report on a new development: the guy who tore the bosses’ houses apart wanted to speak about terms of peace in the city before he had to kill too many more people.

It was raining lightly when Moai and I showed up for the meeting. I know, I know, with my sunny disposition you imagine it’s been nothing but clear skies and sunshine, but that’s just not the way the world works. I appeared to be nothing more than a man in a black suit with sunglasses on. Moai himself was dressed in a large coat and fedora. He was too big to pass as a normal human, but I just wanted his face and body concealed enough. I hid a speaker and receiver around his neck too.

See, it’s entirely possible that these guys will be a little upset at me killing their friends, and those old Space Marine weapons have been known to shoot holes in my body. I’d much rather have Moai there if people go from gun shy to trigger happy. I really need to build me some more of those holodisks. This constant back and forth hasn’t been good for my stockpiles of gadgetry.

As soon as I was done, I stepped around behind Moai and vanished into thin air. I took up a position on a nearby rooftop.

They all showed up. The Greens were punctual, at least, arriving in some Tesla car. I expected it to be full of smoke when it showed, but that wasn’t the case. Instead, the Green guy, whose name I never bothered learning, stepped out. You know, he’s black and that makes it work a little better, but I’ve been wondering lately what is up with these eco-types and dreadlocks? Is it better for the planet to not wash their hair so much, and if so, why not just cut it really short or try baldness?

He had four guys with him. One stayed in the car while the others approached with him. The two in the rear had shotguns. The one alongside him had a pistol’s bulge at the bottom of his shirt.

The Yurples showed then. I didn’t recognize the make of the car. If I’d heard of it, they wouldn’t have thought it was cool enough to drive in. Same kind of set up. One guy stood guard at the car with a handgun and a chainsword. The rest formed an entourage around the white guy with the facial scruff and a business suit. A suit. Huh.

The Reds drove up rather noisily in a hummer that was loud enough without the vibrating bass. The jovial attitude of the Reds ended when they shut off the vehicle and stepped out. This guy was black too, but with the bald head and thick beard of a true revolutionary. Big fellow as well. Unlike the Soviet Union, this guy’s not running out of food.

Reminds me of a real joke I heard they used to have. “How do you know that Adam and Eve were USSR citizens?”

Answer: “They had no clothes, one apple to eat between them, and were told they lived in paradise.”

By the way, if anyone wants to suggest a better term than black in the comments, go ahead. I’m aware of the term African American, but I find it odd in application towards people who have lived here for just as long or longer than the white people. Remember, don’t hate someone for their skin tone. Hate them because, whether black, white, red, brown, yellow, orange, indigo, or periwinkle, people are often assholes.

The head of the Reds had brought two more guys with him, but two stuck with the getaway vehicle this time.

All in all, much more manageable of a group than I anticipated. I was certain they’d bring a lot more. I guess I just don’t know a whole lot about things at that particular level of criminality.

They were all gathered together, clearly distrusting of one another, but they wanted some answers.

So they approached.

“Uh uh!” I said through Moai’s speaker. “Just the head honchos get to honch on over here. Step right up, boys and girls. Or pretty much just guys. Demographically challenged, are we?”

“Who the fuck are you supposed to be?” queried Big Red.

“I’m the guy whose been kicking your asses for a little while now using the power of paranoia and interpretive dance. I’ve been taking it easy, actually. But every casualty of your little war, every dollar lost, each one of your homes blown up…that’s all me.”

“What do you want calling us here like this?” asked the Yurple guy.

“Out of the goodness of my heart, I’m here to give peace a chance. See, I have a scheme coming up that needs some manpower, and y’all have manpower. Working together, we can do even more amazing things in my name than ever before!”

Green spoke up this time, “Uh huh. What’s in it for us, player?”

“A metric assload of money, and a little recognition for helping pull something that makes a real mark. Something that lets people across the nation know you’re no one to fuck with! Also, I’ll stop killing you. Refuse, and I’ll keep killing and find another way. Peace sells, gentlemen. Who’s buying?”

They all chose peace, at least in this matter. Full control of the gangs? No. Working together on a joint project for a respite and money? Yes. Good enough, and it got even better when we had an unexpected visitor show up.

Paveman made his grand appearance by overturning the Greens’ car. The leaders all got out of his way as he shifted to come right at Moai. “This ends tonight!” he yelled. He tore off the coat and hat to reveal…Moai! See, that’s the problem of this being from my perspective. You miss out on some of the surprises.

Moai hopped up and slammed his head down on Paveman’s, knocking him to the ground. Paveman went to one knee, then rose up from it to uppercut Moai. The two exchanged blows until a different sort of precipitation made its way through the air. There’s been a lot of miniguns around lately, but the one mounted on the Humvee and kept hidden below the sun roof was one of the more welcome ones. It knocked Paveman down. When he tried to stand up, a Green bodyguard kneecapped him with a bolt gun and put him down again.

I dropped down and approached the scene as the leaders all wondered what to do about him.

“Gimme some room. I’ll handle him,” I said as I appeared and pushed my way through the group. They gawked. “Might want to have someone see to the guy in the car, and maybe arrange alternate transportation?” I really just wanted a moment alone.

They recognized the voice and gawked a little, then put some distance between themselves, myself, Moai, and Paveman.

“Ouchies. Probably something you can heal by now, but that’s gotta hurt.”

“You.”

“The one and only. The man who keeps on beating that hero ass.”

“What’s gang warfare to you?”

“Just another tool. Just people dying for a cause they know nothing about.”

“You’re a monster. No. You’re a dick.”

“Nice assessment. I’m also unstoppable, and you know why?”

He didn’t say anything. Not the first time a villain just wanted to get something off his chest. Most people have friends with phones or Facebook. We hold people at our mercy. Generally, it works out better to let us talk. It also saves on therapist costs, to hear some guys tell it.

“So, this one night I’m out walking around, years back. I approached a bridge and saw on it a couple: a young man and a young woman. They talked, then held hands, and then went to jump, together, hand in hand. Except the young fellow faked it and let go, letting the female go splatty-thuddy over the road. She died before I even got close. You see, a lot of good people are that little girl. Play by the rules, hold to promises, even when the rules and promises are horrible. Sometimes sticking with the way things are means insuring your own destruction.”

I saw Paveman sitting up and motion to Moai, who pinned him by his hand. “But those of us who aren’t so nice will lie and get away with whatever we want. Like with the girl and boy again. Even if a cop or you yourself had been there, the most you’d have done was arrest the guy. Because the good is ever too fettered by what is right to do what is necessary to defeat those not constrained by the social contract.”

I patted Paveman on the head, unsure if anyone ever got my parables anyway, then began to charge up that glove. “You know, I found that guy and I dropped him out a plane. Don’t worry, I threw him a parachute too. Well, actually, it was a pack for a parachute filled with a bunch of loose feathers.”

I raised the charged glove up, prepared to strike. Even a stone man is a lot less of a problem if he’s just a head. “Goodbye Paveman.”

Before I could take Paveman’s head off, a crash came from behind me. It was Apollo, the marble-statue-looking hero that worked with Venus. He had tilted the Yurples’ unknown car on its side, then jumped on the Humvee and tore the gun off.

He made his way toward Paveman and myself, partially shielding himself with the door he tore off the Humvee. I gave Moai the signal for “let’s get out of here” and cut to stealth. Trap? I didn’t know. But where one member of Shieldwall is, there is a disturbing tendency for more to arrive. It wasn’t a standoff, though. My point was made, even if Paveman survived. The gangs got clear, but had to walk, while Apollo was stuck tending to his father. Yep. Chip off the old block.

Ok, so I wanted to kill them, but these gangbangers were more concerned with injuries and rides. A lot less cowering in fear involved in that than I hoped for. Still, that act of disloyalty telegraphs that they’re most likely going to turn on me later. It’s the guns and the environment. Too many supers around, combined with having guns that can turn people into lifeless fruit salad gelatin.

But for now…more evil laughter. Bwahahahahaha!

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Bananarama 11

And now we continue our story of just what happened that day I confronted Venus. What a story it is. Action! Intrigue! Ballshots! In fact, a kick to the groin is right where we left off. There are times when it doesn’t pay to have a hard-on from verbally tearing down a woman.

Well geez, saying it that way almost makes me come across like a real jerk. I meant that while normally I would hit this woman, this time I just gave her a tongue-lashing. Where the hell was I going with that last sentence? I know, I’ll distract you, readers. Look, down below!

I’d taken my eye off her as I laughed and paid for it. Venus was quick and got her knee in there before I could react. The armor helped weaken the blow, but blunt force trauma is still blunt force trauma. I doubled over instinctively too. Venus went to sweep me off my feet with a blow to the back of my knees. I relaxed with the hit. Instead of falling on my ass, I went forward to my knees.

She grabbed my helmet and rammed her knee into the visor. All she got was a sore knee. She tried to punch me in the throat, which is one of my favorite places to punch too. Don’t we just have so much in common? I ducked my chin before she could hit that vulnerable area and caught her forearm with my left hand. I gave it a hard twist to the right. She cartwheeled in the same direction. It was impressive. I was so impressed I grabbed her hand with my right, held her hand bent down, and headbutted her at the wrist.

Snap! Her response started as a grunt but ended as a pained yelp. Then I twisted her forearm back to the left. No cartwheel this time. Snap! Another yelp of pain. She kept her cool, though. She put her other leg on my right arm, trying to force it away. I let go and grabbed hold of her leg. She didn’t try to get away. Instead, she threw her body at me, wrapping her right around my arm and head while her left, the one I had a hold on, wrapped around her right ankle after it was around me. For all the kiddos reading at home and copying the moves, this is called a Triangle Choke. One way it can be countered is if you happen to be strong enough to overcome your opponent’s weight.

Now, Venus was no twig-thin model that weighs less than your average cheeseburger, and she has muscles. Muscles have weight. But her muscles didn’t beat my armor. I held fast to her as I got my feet under me. She was still trying to choke me out as I dialed for less power to the jump enhancers. I projected an emoticon over the face of my helmet just before I left. A :P. While my head was trapped between her legs. You know, I didn’t think of it that way at the time.

What I was thinking was “Wheeeeeeeee!” as I launched the both of us into the air. She fought me even there. She tried to let go, tried to spin me, tried to flip me. Time was up awfully quickly though. I slammed her into the street’s hard pavement. She let go then. While she was stunned, I grabbed her by the ankle and swung her over me to slam against the sidewalk.

So that’s what it’s like to play the power guy? I could get used to that. I just began to walk away then, calling back to her, “Puny Venus.”

She threw a rock at me. I turned back to her. “Seriously?”

She collapsed back against the ground. She was done, sticks and stones notwithstanding. “Look at you. Out of breath. Outmuscled. Outsmarted. And let’s be honest about the costumes here: outfabuloused!” I did the magic hands when I said that. ”You beat me once, I’ll give you that. Let’s see…I killed your pet dog. Yep. Smooches the Sloth. Ran over him with my mansion. Also, the house got a little scratched in all that…and kind of exploded…so I need your insurance information.” She was struggling to sit up with muffled wincing from under her mask. “I got you beat, hero. Brawn and brains.”

I talk too much. I recognize that when I’m not in the middle of it, but you get to taunting them when they’re down and it just feels so good. I don’t just mean the monologue last time. Monologues are for expressing the enormity of the whoopin’ so vociferously unleashed upon an ass.

Venus had time to catch her breath, among other things. She levered herself up on her elbows and said something I couldn’t hear. ”I have friends.”

“What was that?” I humored her.

”I have friends.” Still couldn’t make it out. Well hell, if she’s saying it twice, it must be important. I walked closer to her. “Come again? I feel I should ignore my plan to get out of town in favor of moving closer while you say something.” If I understood why I said things like that, I feel I’d be a lot closer to understanding the world.

I had to get fairly close, too. By then, she managed to gulp in enough air to speak where I could hear her. She said “I have friends.”

I put my face in my palm, shook my head, and sighed. “Personal distress beacon started at the beginning of the fight, right?” I asked, still not looking up.

She probably nodded. I turned around and kept looking down with my hand shielding my visor. I started walking away like I intended to when I beat her down. “Not looking up, not looking up, not looking up…”

A sudden impact with my helmet threw me to the ground and gave me a headache. I took a moment to look straight up into the sky. “Yep…things are NOT looking up.” I sat up and faced the music.

Heroes. I recognized Paveman, Forcelight, and Gorilla Awesome. The rest were unknown to me at the time. There was a teen made of marble next to Paveman that looked like a chip off the old block if Paveman had the body of a Greek god and a pair of gold tights with yellow griffins on them. Another new one was a young man in blue tights that had white stars running down the sides of the legs, a large white star on the chest, white sleeves. His gloves and sleeves were red and he had a helmet of blue with a white visor in the shape of a beak. The cape joining with his helmet was blue as well, with a feather pattern that featured white along the edges. It was good enough that I don’t feel so bad spending so long describing it. They also had a woman with them in a deep red cloak and a pair of sandals. Her toenails were periwinkle, too, but I doubt that was part of the whole thing. Green flame trailed from her eyes as she looked down at me from where she floated in the air.

In the words of Ron White, “I didn’t know how many of them it was going to take to kick my ass, but I knew how many they were going to use. That’s a handy piece of information to have right there.”

I kipped up to my feet only for Gorilla Awesome’s grappling hook to latch onto me and pull. Out came the Nasty Surprise to chew through the hook and I hit the invisibility. He reached out to grab at where I should be. He miscalculated. I hit the ground and jumped onto Gorilla Awesome’s head and upper back. “Nice catch, banana breath,” I taunted with complete originality. He didn’t take kindly to his new hat. To make matters worse, I saw Forcelight drawing light into her hands. Becoming visible once more, I jumped off Gorilla Awesome and turned to face the rest of the heroes with a crotch chop. Apparently, this was a gesture from the late 90s which indicated a hostile desire for someone to perform fellatio upon the person gesturing.

A few things happened at once. Gorilla Awesome jumped up and clasped his hands upon thin air. Forcelight fired a beam from her hand which snapped Awesome’s head back and sent him sprawling. Lastly, I was struck by a couple streams of sparks coming from that patriotic superhero. One was green, another was red. When they hit me, they redirected me into a streetlight with explosive force that was represented by fireworks. The green had a Peony effect and the red was Dahlia.

Gecko Fact: Peony fireworks effects is a roughly spherical burst of “stars” that lacks a trail. If it leaves a trail in kind of a slow fall, it’s a Chrysanthemum, but if they burst out quickly with a trail and then disappear before falling, that’s a Spider. A Dahlia is a Peony with bigger but fewer stars. Note that if your universe does not follow natural laws to such a degree that fireworks are capable of existing, then you should probably ignore a lot of this story’s action scenes due to the existence of chemistry and gravity.

I hit my three-way illusion, then reminded y’all to get your minds out of the gutter. Two holograms of myself ran out of me with a blue trail. One stayed behind against the pole as I cut to invisibility and rolled to the side and to my feet. I made a break for it while they stayed and taunted the heroes. I was at an alleyway when Foreclight blasted the illusions with enough power that it pushed back the BZ fog and created a clearing. I dropped the holograms when they did so and began to project my image for moments at a time in different places.

The heroes had held it together this long when facing me, but this was where things went wrong for them. The patriot guy started blasting all around himself with fireworks. Gorilla Awesome woke up, beat his chest a few times, and flew at Forcelight with his jetpack. Paveman and the marble boy were trying to help up Venus, but something triggered in Paveman and he started fighting his own hallucinations while shouting “They’re Commie Geckos! Wolveriiiiiiiiines!”

Side note: Paveman’s been doing this too long.

I dialed down the power on my jump enhancers while I headed down the alley and jumped off the wall on one side, which sent me to the other. That way, I was near roof level as I hopped from wall to wall, and to the clear. The party was pooped thanks to the girl in the cloak with the sandals and the enflamed eyes. Remember, use hand sanitizer to avoid a bad case of green flame eye. She struck me down with a bolt of red lightning. I broke through the plastic top of a dumpster as I landed half inside of it, knocking a great deal of air out of myself as well.

Something wrapped around me with a dull humming “vroom” kind of sound. I was being hauled back into the air by that flying mystic with some sort of glowing rope of energy wrapped around me. My arms were held at my side as well. At the time, I wondered if that energy was anywhere near some of the nonlethal wavelengths I had to deal with when fighting the Phenomenal Fighting Justice Rangers back home. If so, I have a little trick up my sleeve. A little trick called my gloves.

The readout in my visor classified her eyes as a magical disturbance. I could have told it that. Even with my visor in the way, she was looking right into my eyes. “Your trickery shall not deceive me, for I have the power to see truly past all your illusions.” She threw the cloak back, revealing a colorful silky outfit that played up the magic thing. I don’t understand why the skirt was done more akin to a loincloth, but I’m guess Master Academy has a male marketing staff.

“I’m glad you’re looking at my eyes right now then. If you were looking lower, things would get embarrassing quick,” I told her, then raised my hands up. My gloves were charged with energy of their own and dispersed the glowing rope as they passed through it, their own glow weakening with every loop destroyed. We were up in the air, however, so I reached out for the nearest thing I could hold. In her case, it was the mystic girl’s loincloth skirt. She kicked at me, which only made matters worse as it ripped and I sank lower. I lifted myself high enough to grab it at her waist, but that didn’t hold very long. The lower half of her outfit tore and I fell, catching myself on her ankle. As she tried to shake me off, I realized that either marketing is more sexist than I thought, or I had also grabbed her underwear when I tried to climb up her waist.

I projected a cellphone into my hand and raised it up as if taking a picture of the bare bottom heroine. “Hey, stop that!” she said, sounding a lot less like a composed master of the mystic arts. I made a bunch of noises like I was taking pictures while she pulled her cloak around herself.

I slipped a throwing knife out of my belt and stuck it through her cloak, then let myself drop. She had to notice, but she threw off the cloak and booked it to avoid becoming the hot new tabloid sensation. That still left me with a problem related to gravity. This is gonna hurt. Despite my best efforts to try and reason with the universe by pointing out that gravity is just a theory, like germs, atoms, and evolution, it has so far not allowed me to fly under my own power. This would have come in handy to keep me from landing on a vent on some store’s roof, staring up at a dark and cloudy sky that began to roar.

Luckily, everybody else was too busy losing their minds. It’s a shame it’s not a permanent effect.

There were no more problems as I got away from them. I met Moai at a big moving truck he’d stolen but we soon found a small, tiny, minor, miniscule, gigantic problem. Turns out there’s a little bit of a perimeter around the city. I’ve got to get through that or I won’t get to keep my stuff. I like my stuff. I have a limited time as well before the city is finished with its hangover. Venus showed the heroes where to get the effects removed and Forcelight’s blast there showed them how to clear enough of the city. The rain soon to come that night didn’t help matters.

I’ve won the battle. Now I just have to win the retreat.

Oh, and readers? Made you look.

 

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