With my civilian form being wined and dined on a train with Dame, I felt it was appropriate for the Divine Gaming Club to play Ticket to Ride this time around. In deference to pretty much no one else knowing the rules beforehand, we settled on the simple American edition. Next time we rotate through it, we can try Pennsylvania.
In this case, the group was myself, Baron Samedi, Argu the Observer, and another being who told us to call him “Reed”. He was woven out of the things, with grain for hair, so I’m guessing an old, forgotten being associated with agriculture. He could also be related to one of the seasons, though the grain suggests Fall and the reeds make me think of Summer. The Baron vouched for him, so he joined us for the game.
“The Unicorn Goddess was regaling us with a scheme she enacted to deal with an old enemy of hers whose treatment she regrets,” Argu summarized for Reed.
“In the old days, people would water the fields with the blood of their adversaries,” Reed said. Yep, old-fashioned. I don’t use my omnipotence while playing, because it would spoil every move my opponents make. The games would get boring. This just told me about Reed being an old thing, sleeping for long stretches, that managed to receive new purpose when it was decided to fit itself in to various advertising campaigns in modern times. It did a stint as the Jolly Green Giant at one point, taking that form instead of the one it wore with us. This was its original form.
Samedi waved a hand at me. ‘Not cool.”
“Yeah, that’s just rude. We agreed no powers,” Argu added.
“Sorry, I was curious about our friend here. I apologize and will keep my powers in line,” I said. They got a little huffy, but we went back to all trying to grab red train cars for our various needs.
Reed broke the silence. “What was your story again? I would like to hear it.”
Right, so now Dame and Delilah, my civilian form, were on a train. Blacklight had last been spotted taking in the guys who crashed Dame’s hotel room to try and kill her on behalf of the Monacan mob. That’s Monaco the country, not the Native American tribe. With the hotel room exposed, Dame figured we’d go mobile. She was trying to figure out a next step besides running and hiding, especially dragging me along so I wouldn’t get hurt by the people hunting her. Now that the mob’s commissioned killers were captured, they’d opened the contract up. $12 for anyone to kill Dame and recover the Monegasque Shag, a gold bird statue with inlaid gems and a big sapphire egg.
The complication is that Dame wants the egg because she claims it has the power to function as a prison that can hold Psycho Gecko. She wants revenge. And Psycho Gecko is me. She’s got a good reason for disliking me. I sent Blacklight after her originally as part of a deal to help Blacklight’s legal problems if she recovered the Shag, which is stolen property. Blacklight knew her from a few years back, when they were both fighting me, so she agreed to wait until Dame was finished with it.
“What’s our plan?” I asked Dame.
She laughed and shook her head. She’d fancied herself up. She was still an accomplished thief with connections, so she didn’t need to stay in street clothes that blended. Now she was in jeans that cost like $200. She was checking and rechecking her costume, too. Skintight black tights, with mirrored armbands and mask designed to look like diamonds. It’s a mark of skill that she can rob a museum wearing shiny stuff on her.
“You’re sweet, but your plan is for me to find a nice, quiet place to hide you until everything’s settled. You don’t need to be a part of any confrontation I have with the people coming after me.” She winced as she stood back up. Without my intervention Dame would have been killed by a bullet that turned to seek her out. And she’s got better reason than most to avoid medical nanomachines after all I’ve done to her. “Help me get undressed?”
I raised an eyebrow and started to help her, but we didn’t go any further than a little making out. “Not right now.”
We’d gotten close in her adrenaline-filled adventures since she doesn’t know it’s me. Besides, it’s only an action-movie relationship. I’m some random person she found who’s attractive and willing to sleep with her during an adventure. Once things normalize, this wouldn’t last. And unless I brainwashed her, nothing about this was going to last.
But like I said, the contract was open. I have every reason to intercede as Psycho Gecko. And I had a plan for everyone to get what they want in a decent enough way.
It so happened that in my search for some meaning in my life, I ran across an alternate or two of myself. One of them had turned himself into a lizard person in power armor and was trying to conquer his world. I didn’t intercede there, but I’m not without judgment. I can judge the crap out of things. Like, it’s much easier to figure out you’re a woman than to decide to be a lizard. I don’t need a reptile theme just because I’m called Gecko.
That guy suddenly found himself thrust through a dimensional breach ahead of us, at Spokane. I had brought some of his lizard people minions with him. It caused quite a stir. The conductor slowed us down and was trying to work on an alternative route but, for some reason, the radio failed. The brakes decided not to work then, either. Instead, they came over the intercom to warn everyone. “Ladies and gentlemen, we have a problem…”
Of course, once the story about “We’re hurtling toward a train station full of Psycho Gecko and a lizard army, unable to stop or divert our course,”got out, it didn’t make Dame feel any worse. She wanted this fight. She grabbed her phone, though, and called up Blacklight’s number. “Hey, I’m not done with it yet, but I’m about to be. You want to punch Gecko?”
Blacklight had been ok with setting aside her colossal grudge against me a bit, but this set of circumstances gave her an opportunity to get a little bit of revenge. A Freudian fist slip. She agreed to meet us at Spokane.
We rolled up to an empty station, unable to keep going because the tracks weren’t clear ahead of us. It was the end of the line for us. Now, it looked quiet, but it didn’t smell or sound quiet. There were sirens and helicopter rotor sounds coming from outside, since police, SWAT, and local National Guard had been called up. There were some superheroes, but they were hanging around the train station since before it was popular, so they figured it was cringe and left. Well, not really, the cops just pushed the out of the way to take over shooting lizard people. They weren’t getting a lot of opportunity yet. The lizards were mainly there to secure the perimeter. That Psycho Gecko was still trying to figure out where he was and what he was doing. Oh, and it stank out there.
“You wait here. Hide. Run away if you need to,” Dame advised me. She had her costume on and her phase gauntlet ready. She wore an exoskeleton sleeve over the arm, a new development, that covered the whole arm. There was a shoulder covering of mail that it ran up to. That arm let her carry the Shag, because gold’s heavy. Lately, I’ve been forgetting things have weight. It’s a good thing Dame hasn’t noticed me playing around with some stuff.
Gecko jumped the front of the train before it stopped, tearing open the metal and climbing inside. He roared at the conductor and pilot, spittle flying through the air. Dame came running through the door, staying phased to avoid this one big glob that came right for her. She became solid again when she was on the upswing with the Shag, knocking Lizard Gecko upside his jaw. Then she held up the Shag and pressed a switch hidden in its tail feathers. Nothing happened. “Stupid artifact bitch!” she yelled at it, then phased again to avoid a swipe from Gecko’s tail.
Gecko spun around after the tail swipe and lunged for her with its mouth. Dame jammed the Shag into his mouth to prop it open. Gecko’s head dipped and he tipped it out, but it gave Dame a moment to run to the side, out of the car. This being another version of me, Gecko didn’t just chase her out. Instead, he bit off the arm of one of the guys who hadn’t yet fled the car because I guess he felt more entertained than frightened by events so far.
Dame cussed and went back, coming through a wall and grabbing Gecko Lizard’s tail with the exoskeleton arm. She phased him through the wall, even his armor. Weight doesn’t work the same way like that, so she had enough strength to toss him, turning him solid just before letting go. He didn’t go as far that way, scraping against the ground a little and rolling to his feet. Thing was, Dame didn’t have her secret weapon with her.
She had another one with her instead. Blacklight crashed through the roof and cratered Lizard Gecko. Just bodied a bitch. She stood over Lizard Gecko, who was missing an arm, leg, and tail. He looked down for the count. Blacklight turned to Dame, smiling. “Oops, didn’t realize it was her.”
Lizard Gecko woke up and clamped his jaws down on her chest, picking her up and shaking her around before tossing her. She recovered, a couple of large bite marks in her chest that gushed a bit of blood in between puffing up from the injection of venom. So I wasn’t the only one of me to like having venomous fangs despite it not fitting. He’s not Snake Gecko, after all.
“Where’s your fuckin’ bird?!” Blacklight called to Dame.
That seemed like a good time for some divine intervention. I appeared at the door to the pilot cabin, dragging the Shag along with me. “Here!” I called out.
Dame ran over, “I told you to run, you moron!” Well that was uncalled-for. She grabbed the bird statue from me. “I can’t get this to work, anyway!”
“It’s a gem, maybe-” Blacklight didn’t finish that. She was breathing more heavily.
Lizard Gecko was taking the time to rapidly regrow his lost limbs, including the tail that he used to help wiggle away from where he’d been fighting them.
Blacklight floated around so she was on the opposite side of the sapphire egg from Lizard Gecko and raised a hand to it. Her super names have been derived from her ability to generate unusual light that she uses as a weapon. She conjured a bright white light that passed through the sapphire, revealing writing inside it.
“What is that?” Blacklight asked.
“It’s Scytho-Sarmatian,” Dame said. Then she started reading it aloud.
I felt a pull toward it. They didn’t see it because I was so far away out of their line of sight, but I had to concentrate my powers to not be drawn toward the sapphire. That thing was designed more to catch something like myself, not Lizard Gecko. At Dame’s direction, indicated by her hand pointing at Lizard Gecko, the gem shattered into glistening mist that flowed toward Lizard Gecko. The pull got stronger for me, but it pulled at that version of me as well. He tried to leap away, but the gem mist flowed around him, engulfing him and hiding him from view until the mist got smaller and settled into the sapphire egg again. There was no sign of the alternate me inside it.
Blacklight started toward it, but lowered to the ground and then to her knees.
I brought the Unicorn Goddess form to her, appearing with a warm glow and laying a hand on her shoulder. “Good girl.”
Ok, so a tiny bit of kink in here. Dame watched, unaware that the goddess healing Blacklight was the person she had been protecting and smooching and trying to banish for the past weeks. When she was better, with holes closed and venom dispersed, Blacklight looked up at me and received a warm kiss on the forehead. “You could have had my lips, you know,” she said with a smirk.
I patted her cheek. “This worked better for me. I think you’ll find some folks are going to have a change of heart soon. Especially since you are now one of the people who banished Psycho Gecko.”
I turned to look at Dame and the statue she held. She seemed in shock that she’d done it. Or seemingly did it. I waved a hand. The statue didn’t want me to grab it telekinetically, so instead I created a telekinetic platform underneath it that I used to carry it toward me. “I’ll take this and safeguard it from others.”
“So I got him?” Dame asked.
Dame smiled, then seemingly collapsed to her butt. “I don’t believe it.”
She had a couple of options: accept it and heal, or don’t and realize the hollowness of her revenge. Either way worked for me.
It was awkward for Blacklight, though. “I’m going to go if that’s alright with you.”
Dame nodded, telling her, “Yeah.”
I let her leave and made sure no one would notice then as I walked over and hugged her with both bodies.
And then, for a treat, I appeared back home to see my family. Qiang took it in stride when I had a different face and body between my horn and my hooves, but Sam commented on the rest of my treat to myself. “So, you took that thief’s body after all?”
I’ll give it back. Probably. No, I will. Besides, as long as she’s me, none of her pursuers will know she’s me. As far as they’re concerned, she disappeared from that train station. They could look right at me and never recognize her.
“What have you been up to?” I asked Sam. I’ve kept a body around the house, seeing to stuff, but she had a secret meeting she didn’t want to tell me about, which I respected.
My girlfriend crossed her arms and smirked. “I was talking with Venus and Medusa, planning your wedding to them.”
New Me Who Dis? 5
If, if, if. If a god wants something done, and it’s within their power to do so, then it’s done. That’s what causes some with power to just go nuts with all sorts of wacky things. Needs and goals are more easily taken care of. But it’s possible to try a more convoluted way to get what someone wants. One, it’s neat to see the plan play out, but it also can help disguise how you’re getting things done.
Just some things for me to muse on while at game night with Baron Samedi again, who paused for a moment. “I play Inevitable Betrayal. Hand me your gold.”
We were playing Lords of Waterdeep. Baron Samedi and someone he called “Argu the Observer.”. Looked like a six-legged starfish with a ring of eyes around a central mouth. “He’s not from around here,” Samedi told me, which I took to mean he’s an alien god or similar entity. Argu had a small army of warriors and rogues, constantly hogging those buildings and forcing Samedi to keep using the buildings I was buying up if he wanted to complete any quests.
In response, Samedi was concentrating his Intrigues on Argu, and hopefully not ending a friendship in the process. If this had been Monopoly or Mario Party, I think we’d have had a real problem on our hands:
“How’d the Intergalactic Holy War start?”
“Well, this Loa built a hotel on Baltic Avenue…”
I laughed at the thought, and at another that popped into my head.
“What joke tickled your funny bone?” the Baron asked.
I shook my head. “Nothing. Just thinking how one of the few beings that lived up to its supernatural reputation was one who doesn’t claim to be a god.” I nodded toward him.
“None of us here need to lie about what we are to be what we are,” Samedi said.
“Lying is still fun, though,” Argu said.
That got agreement from Samedi and I. Lying to people can be fun, but that’s not something everyone agrees with. Just to make sure, I used my powers to make sure none of us were cheating. All good.
“So what is going on with your people you are tricking?” Argu asked. “One of them wants to kill you and the other wants to mate with you, and you set the latter against the former.”
“Yes. I sent Blacklight, who offered herself to me if it would solve her legal problems, to take this mysterious bird statue from the thief Dame who believed it was capable of imprisoning my human form. I had made sure nobody hostile to me was aware I was the Unicorn Goddess, but I also couldn’t read the statue enough to figure out if it was a threat to myself as a god.”
“You know, you remind me of this musical theater that was recently imported to my planet,” Argu noted. “They say it contains footage of real aliens being murdered.”
I remembered that time I killed some fascist aliens defending that performance and getting recorded in the process. “Sounds like a once-in-a-lifetime performance.”
Anyway, let’s cut away from that to the events with Blacklight and Dame.
Dame was laid up in the hotel, recovering from getting shot by a bullet with her name on it that curved through the air to get to her. With some of that mysterious ways bullshit, I’d made sure it didn’t kill her when she was struck and made sure the guy’s partner didn’t blow her up. Then, I subtly fixed it so she’d make it until the doctor got her stabilized. She was in no shape to fight, so I was tending to her in my civilian form, known to her as Delilah.
Dame was stumbling back to bed after using the bathroom, wincing at the pain of laying herself back down. “Lilah, make sure there’s lots of fiber and yogurt for dinner. I can’t deal with a shit like that again.”
There was a kitchen that I doubt Dame ever used, in addition to a delectable room service options, including bringing groceries up if guests decide to cook. It gave me some time to prepare a meal or two, including country fried steak. I put a little too much of the drippings and oil in with the gravy. That made it less white, but not less delicious. Shame we wouldn’t get to enjoy much of it.
“Plenty of corn!” I told her, bringing her a nice plate of it first so she’d have more time to eat and get her strength up. For all the antagonism between us, I want to see better for Dame, and not just by making her forget what happened. Maybe I should. Like, maybe that’s a wound that will never fully heal and provides no future beneficial lesson. In that case, what benefit is there to it other than giving her vengeful ambitions? I watched as she ate.
“Aren’t you going to have some?” Dame asked. She clearly enjoyed it, but then she saw me looking at her. “What?”
“Just seeing you hurt like this… why do you do all this? The fighting and all that. You’re rich. You could just not be here. Why kill yourself?”
Dame laughed, going from amused to crazy sounding over the course of a few seconds before clutching at her chest. I caught her plate so she wouldn’t drop it. “Ow, fuck… ow… not worth it…”
“Nevermind, just eat,” I said. I let her get back to it once she was over some of the pain.
She took a break from inhaling the mashed potatoes and gravy to answer me. “Someone hurt me in ways you can’t imagine. I don’t… I can’t. I have to do this. I have to. You’ll never understand what she did to me and how little it makes me. The heroes won’t do anything about it because one of them has had a crush on her forever. So she gets away with it.”
I understand that feeling. I’ve been on the other end. I wish I could help her, but I’m the person who wronged her, so the best I can do is make her feel better.
She didn’t get much further before we heard the door swing open. Someone shushed someone else, and we heard footsteps. It was Blacklight, walking in and heading right toward the the Monegasque Shag, a golden statue inlaid with gems, next to a sapphire egg. Not being able to get a read on the statue, I worried about what it could do to me. Blacklight was just walking up to it.
Dame kept her plate in hand and didn’t spill it while rolling out of bed. Wincing, she set it down on a dresser and slid her phasing gauntlet on. I tried to stay quiet and hid behind the bed while Dame padded quietly to the door. “Forcelight?”
“Hey Dame,” Blacklight responded to her former superhero name. In her defense, Blacklight was way better than forcelight.
“What are you doing here? I thought you were that jerk trying to kill me,” she said.
“Sorry, but someone wanted me to come get this. Don’t worry, not the jerk coming to kill me,” Blacklight answered. I snuck toward the door. I looked enough different from my Unicorn Goddess guise like this that Blacklight couldn’t recognize me, but I still had a role to play.
“I can’t let you do that,” Dame said. I saw her fist clench. “I need that.”
Things went quiet and tense for a minute. Blacklight stood in the middle of the living room, right next to the Shag, then sighed and shook her head. “Relax. Why’s this thing so important and what’s it do?”
So Dame told her about it and about her intention to use it to lure out and trap Psycho Gecko. Which wasn’t the worst plan. Over on VillaiNet, the Monaco mob were fishing for people who would be willing to kill Dame and regain the artifact. Some had put feelers out for me. Money wasn’t that big of a deal, and they’d consider allowing me to use the hotel and casino. That was my pretend sticking point while all this played out.
I focused on Dame and Blacklight again when Dame discussed the guy who’d shot at her. “Some hunter god I knew from the Three Hares. I found out the hard way he controls projectiles. I guess he didn’t want to leave civilization behind like the main group with their hiding dogma.”
I shook my head. “Hmm?”
“Nothing, Lilah,” Dame said.
“And who is she?” Blacklight asked. “You have a helper?”
“Umm,” I said, blushing.
Dame smiled. “That’s Delilah. She rides the subway with me. She got caught in the middle of their first attempt to kill me, and then she saw my safehouse, so I’ve been keeping her safe in case they tried to go after her.”
“Hi,” I said, reaching out and shaking Blacklight’s hand. The mischievous side of me wanted to fuck with her sexuality at the time and maybe get some jealousy going between her and Dame, but I contained myself. As bad as all this looks, it’s not about just pursuing my wants. Believe it or not, I’m doing this to help people and enjoying myself lying to them.
The door opened just then and one of the hotel staff’s housekeepers was thrown to the floor inside. The man from the intersection entered, raising his gun. Forcelight threw me to the ground and stood up, while Dame phased and dropped through the floor. The hunter’s sidekick raised the lit barrel of a flamethrower.
It was Blacklight who fired first, destroying the revolver with her blast and catching the sidekick on fire when she burst his fuel tank. The hunter was knocked through the wall behind him and into someone else’s suite, with the sidekick rolling around screaming and inadvertently trapping the other guy. Blacklight floated over to the door in time for Dame to poke her head up through the hallway. She pulled herself up, then went solid again. “You got them?”
“I got them. Listen, I’m going to need that bird statue for a deal, but I can wait a little bit if you want to use it first, alright?” Blacklight offered.
Dame nodded, then leaned against a wall. “Yeah. Thanks. Just give me a bit to recover.” I rushed over to help her walk back into the room, past a fleeing, screaming housekeeper.
A few hours after that, once word got out to the mob that the people they hired so far had failed, they decided to stop courting me and just made it an open contract. $12 million for the death of Dame and the return of the Shag to the Monacan mob. It’s showtime!
At least we were gone by the time they followed the clues from the other guys to the hotel, Dame and I were settled into a private train car heading west to Buffalo.
New Me Who Dis? 4
Over in the adventure with Dame, we’d been kept together through circumstances. We managed to sneak out of her hidden safehouse, when the French-speaking people after her sent a team to trash the place for good. We outran a fireball and everything.
Figuring people would hunt for the person I appeared to be so they could find out where Dame went, and to keep me from blabbing if I was opportunistic, Dame decided to stash me in this nice hotel room while she headed out to figure out who was after her for what reason.
It was a Monaco crime family, not French. She followed the guy in charge of scoping out her apartment back to where they were operating. There was long-established mom and pop ceramics business in Boston that was a front for the Monegasque mob. That’s the adjective for them, but I prefer to call them Monacan. If this van’s a’rockin’, don’t come Monacan. Wait, I’m being informed by my omniscience that Monacan is also a demonym for them. Or maybe I made it their demonym when I preferred it.
Dame was pretty good. I had shaken her confidence there, but she went in with her costume under regular street clothes. She didn’t go in directly; she had her choice of either an Italian olive shop on one side, or an Irish bakery on the other. Oddly enough, the Monacan place was the only mob front in that bunch. Dame went for the bakery and picked up some fresh bread, paying for it before heading to the bathroom.
Rather than pinching a loaf, she left the one she bought on a pile of her street clothes and phased through the wall. The gadget she uses for that has been refined. Technology advanced to the point where, with a good understanding of how the phasing works, she was able to make it more inconspicuous.
She appeared in a back office where the guy who had been hunting for her sat around laughing with a couple older guys. That’s where Dame came in, rushing in, grabbing a lamp, bashing that guy upside the head, and the phasing out through a wall. One of the older guys pulled a gun, a small colt without a hammer. She came up from underneath him, twisting his arm around and grabbing the gun out of his grip, leaving it embedded inside a nearby wall. She dropped back with all her weight, but let go. The momentum slammed that guy down onto the floor while she phased through it. That left the guy in charge, who was busy calling out while dialing his phone. She pulled it out of his hand and, when he turned to her, socked him in the belly.
To the old Monacan’s credit, he didn’t go down. Some of his gut absorbed the blow, but he stayed up and got into a boxing stance, throwing a straight right at her head. Dame didn’t dodge; the fist went through her jaw and disappeared. She wound up for an uppercut that was perfectly solid as soon as he pulled his hand back where it wouldn’t fuse with her head. He grabbed a nearby ceramic figurine of a boxer and swung it at her chest. She phased again and grabbed another figurine, a boot, tossing it at the old guy’s crotch. He flinched but didn’t double over, but Dame swept the legs and dropped him flat back onto his desk.
Not bad. I’d been considering a quick possession to help her out, but I’m also aware I have ulterior motives for an idea like that. I don’t know what my deal with stealing her body has been for so long, though, so I guess omniscience doesn’t include self-psychotherapy as a part of the deal.
“You blew up my apartment! Why?” Dame asked, grabbing a knife that was actually an Award for Excellence in Ceramic Knives and holding it to the old man’s crotch. As far as threats go, one of the few that affects hardened criminals more than the throat.
“It’s business, not personal!” the man said in a French accent. “You stole something important from the Monte Hall Casino vault. We want it back.” The man pointed to a ceramic figurine nearby. He really had a lot in this back office area. Problem was, he’d gotten a bit disoriented, or something had been moved, so he ended up pointing to a ceramic dildo. “Not that one, the thing behind it.” There was a figurine of a bird, a European Shag.
Dame brought the knife just a little closer. “The Monegasque Shag. In your dreams, you’re never getting that back.”
Yeah, I wouldn’t want to give that guy a shag either. And I’ve b lown the entire North Korean high command. Hmm, I should look up Silver Shark sometime.
Meanwhile, at her hotel room, I realized one of the decorations was that same figurine, but cast in silver and gold. A European shag bird sitting on a sapphire egg. Worth a hefty chunk of change form the look of it.
Back at the business, Dame’s interrogation was interrupted by a couple Monacan mob guys kicking in the back office door and pulling out guns.
“No!” the mob boss called, too late. Rounds from his underlings passed right through Dame and caught the old boss as he tried to climb over his desk, just absolutely wreaking havoc on him ass-cheek first. The only thing missing from the poetic death was dramatic opera music, but I didn’t want to let on that anything too supernatural was going on.
Dame fled through the wall, to the bathroom nearby, grabbing bread and tossing clothes on over her costume. She left, spraying air freshener right near the door and warning the old lady waiting on her, “Sorry, you wouldn’t believe what I just passed.”
Back in the office, the mob boss, badly-wounded but still alive, was dialing 911 on his phone. Funny thing happened then. A shelf on the wall above his desk came unsecured just a little bit. The ceramic trophy for Best Not Giving A Fuck slid off, a hand giving a middle finger falling smack dab on the guy’s face and finishing him off.
He leaves behind an ex-wife, a hotter, younger wife, a 10 year old she squeezed out for him, a 16 year old daughter, and a son who just turned 18 two weeks ago and is considering experimenting with a prettyboy at school who crossdresses some but says he’s one-hundred percent man. Also, an unclaimed son from a seedy stripper in France and a son who is a seedy stripper in Empyreal City. Wow. Curious, I traced back this Monacan mob boss’s lineage. He came from a long line of strippers. He even had an ancestor who once impressed the mayor of her village by cutting her clothes revealingly and dancing for the farmers while they threw her food, named Chastete.
I had to pretend not to know all that and instead ordered down for some room service. Dame wasn’t that far away, but she was about to have more trouble than she bargained for. She was in a rental car this time, stopped at a light. The car behind her didn’t slow down, plowing into her and knocking her into traffic coming from her right. Among them, a semi truck. The rental was t-boned harder than the boner of the rental place that realized that night they would get to charge the fuck out of Dame’s card for all the damage. The truck, no trailer attached, was a lot better off when it came to a stop. And Dame appeared to be, too, rolling along the street after ditching her doomed car.
The doors of the car that first pushed her out opened. A big, tall guy with an epic chin stepped out of the front, suit jacket blowing in the breeze as he pulled out a shiny, polished revolver. The guy who got out of the rear had a rocket launcher with him but then this little dog being walked nearby had gotten loose and tried to maul that guy’s pantleg. When the tall guy saw the heavy ordinance was occupied, he held up his revolver and whispered, “Dame” against the side of it, then pointed it and fired.
The bullet passed through her when she phased, then twisted and turned in midair to come right at her. It was a magic bullet, with the word “Dame” etched into it. Just like with that dog going after the pantleg, I made just a tiny change, making the magic bullet take a wider arc on a turn so that it merely nicked Dame’s heart rather than hitting it full on. Grasping her chest, she saw the bullet make a turn this time. It had lost some momentum, but had enough to hurt her. She phased through the street, stumbling off toward the hotel. By the time the guy with the rocket launcher got free of the dog and blew up the middle of the intersection, she was free and clear.
I finished my meal and waited around a bit, looking over that Shag statue. It had some lovely gems in it, but the sapphire was really the best part. No idea why they went for a shag instead of something more famous, like a falcon.
Dame stumbled into the room, bleeding, holding her chest. I saw her, grabbed the phone, and told the Desk, “She’s been hurt! Send up a doctor, quick!” Then I ran over to Dame, grabbing her as she fell. She lost a lot of blood and might have bit it without my intervention, but I wanted her to live. I healed the nick of the heart and gave her a little more blood to keep her stable. By the time a doctor arrived, she looked bad but was bound to live. I even had time to hide her costume and the new phase gauntlet she used.
After that, it was a matter of pretending to be concerned, at least until Dame woke up.
“Are you ok? What’s all this about?” I asked.
She laughed. “I’ve felt better, but I can’t let them get their hands on it.”
“On what?” I asked.
Wincing, Dame raised a hand out of bed to point to the statue of the shag. “That.”
“It has to be worth a fortune, but it’s just money, right?” I asked. Then I shrugged. “Ok, so more money than I would ever see in my life…”
“No,” Dame said, putting her hand on my cheek and guiding my gaze back to her. “It’s the secret to helping me defeat Psycho Gecko once and for all. It’s a prison. A prison for demons.”
Curious, I tried to read its past with my omniscience and got a nasty little surprise. I couldn’t. So while I didn’t know if it had the power to trap me, especially with Dame not knowing I’m a goddess now, I knew that it was a known unknown.
Elsewhere, I appeared in the form of the Unicorn Goddess to Blacklight as she was flying away from an interview about a bank robbery she stopped. I trailed a rainbow, because I wanted to. “Hey!” she yelled over through the air. “Thought about that offer?”
“It’s tempting,” I told her, honestly. There’s something about the idea of dating a superhero who hates me that gets me hot, which certainly explains a LOT about my entire relationship with Venus and Medusa. But even voluntarily, it still feels creepy to make brainwash her into that situation. So instead, I did something way more ethical. “But I have a different idea for you. I’ll help you, but I need you to get something for me.”
“I’m not a thief,” the dark hero told me.
I smiled. “Good, because it’s a statue stolen by a super thief named Dame. It’s called the Monegasque Shag. I just want you to recover stolen property.”
Blacklight thought it over a bit. “Too bad. I’m not into women, but I was looking forward to the date. Alright, deal.”
New Me Who Dis? 2
I think I enjoy my little meetings with the Baron. I’m still shit at chess, but that’s partially because we agreed not to use powers. There would just be so much cheating if we used them. I’m not sure if he’s on my level, what with how mysterious he plays. Still, he seems to be something above the Three Hares, a conspiracy of supers, some immortal, who claimed to be gods. Maybe even some were, just that gods back then were supers. I suppose I would fit that definition, just having surpassed every other super on Earth now, and hitting a tier of existence where I had a trio of god-murderers hunting me down recently.
This time, the Baron and I moved onto cards. We were playing HORSE, which is really five poker games in one that alternate. We chose to alternate every hand to a different game, from Texas Hold’em for the H, Omaha Hold’em for the O, Razz for the R, Seven Card Stud for the S, and Seven Card Stud Hi-Low Eight or Better for the E. It seemed like a good compromise because he wanted to play Seven Card, I wanted to play Hold ‘Em, I offered Razz, and he countered with HORSE. I’m a lot more competitive in it than chess, though I still have problems with a couple of the games.
Samedi knew it, too. That’s why he put the pressure on during Omaha so much, dropping down some lost Spanish gold doubloons we were playing with. Still, I thought I had a chance, and heads-up play allows for a much looser playstyle in Hold’em, so I called with some Deep One coinage, which were more like triangles with holes through the middle.
“What troubles you this time, Lady Unicorn,” the Baron asked. Much like me, he seems fond of nicknames. But then gods collect nicknames like some people collect stamps. Philately aside, I did have something bothering me, but when don’t I? I could probably go a good eight or nine years doing nothing but talking about shit happening to me. “You and the thief Dame have more adventures?”
“Yes, and I can get to that, but right now I’ve also got this thing going on with Blacklight,” I muttered. The dealer, a zombie on loan from someone the Baron knew, flipped over the final card, which might be good for me. I raised. Samedi called.
“Your cards,” the zombie asked in an emotionless voice. I’m not a fan of the idea of turning someone into a monster to attack their own loved ones in the abstract. Enslaving someone with poison or magic is potentially worse once you take away the possibility of a zombie apocalypse. But he made for an unimaginative card dealer without the agility to perform card tricks.
We turned them over, leaving my three of a kind at the mercy of a flush. I tossed my cards in. “Good hand.”
“Now, Razz,” the zombie dealer said. He began to gather up the cards and stuck them in a automatic shuffler
“Now you’re seeing Blacklight? I remember having a libido like that,” Samedi teased.
I shook my head. “That’s not exactly how it was meant to go. I was juggling this Dame stuff, but I also thought, maybe, I would get on Backlight’s good side. Not that kind of good side.”
And so I began to explain that story to him and y’all.
Blacklight, along with everyone else on Earth at one point, had found out the infamous Psychopomp Gecko was also the Unicorn Goddess. It caused a lot of hard feelings in people who couldn’t square that the goddess who fixed pollution and disease, the savior of every genocide in history who created plopped everyone down on another Earth, could be Psycho Gecko. All that good done by a mass murdering serial killer just doesn’t compute. And power like that in the hands of a mass murdering serial killer really freaked people out. That’s part of why I wiped it all clean, so that the only people who remembered were the ones ok with it. Blacklight, obviously, was not ok with it.
But, hey, she’s flying around with her looks restored, fighting crime and all that. Worse, she was fighting to deal with having been legally dead. She was the heir to a major medical conglomerate, Long Life. That meant a lot of money was arrayed against her, and I imagine she had to hide how she returned to life. I think lawyers could make a pretty good case that she isn’t so much back from the dead as a temporarily-displaced time traveler. If she heads back to her original time, she dies and the timeline goes forward as it has been. There would also be plenty of people who see it as their duty to return her to the time of her death, even though that doesn’t matter anymore. I don’t think it ever mattered anyway.
So anyway, I thought I’d spy on her. She was flying around, fighting a giant Nazi robot. They’d built it with a death’s head face, adorned with lighting bolts, swastikas, and Pepe frogs. Out of everything bad about them, which is basically their entire existence, their symbols weren’t as bad as the current generation.
The robot was stomping through this suburb of Empyreal City when Blacklight came out of nowhere and cut one of its arms off with a blast of life. The robot turned to her in time for her to smack into it, but she didn’t push it too far because that caused a little more damage. She tried instead to ease underneath its center of gravity, starting to lift it into the air. The robot tried smacking its metal fist into her but that did nothing, so instead it opened the fingers and fired a palm cannon at the buildings around it. Blacklight responded with more blasts of her black lights that tore holes through its torso that didn’t disable it.
I created a shield at the barrel and blocked the shots, causing the barrel to explode, which I also contained. I flew in on my extraneous wings, horn glimmering in the light of day, and joined Blacklight. I put my hands next to hers and pushed, throwing the Nazi robot high into the sky.
“Thanks,” Blacklight said with a thin, grim smile on her face. “But what comes up is going to come down. Help me finish it off?” She nodded up toward it.
I nodded along and smiled. “Sure.”
We flew up, me holding back to stay with her, swooping around her. We made good time, with the robot barely reaching its apex when we hit it. Blacklight encased herself in an aura of her light and gathered speed, smacking into the upper chest of the robot and tearing it off from the collar up. I stopped and fired a beam of plasma from my horn that engulfed the rest of it and melted it down.
Blacklight came down with that topmost bit of the robot in hand, carrying that part pretty easily. “Thanks. You’re that goddess, aren’t you?”
“Yeah, that’s me,” I said. “You’re Blacklight.”
“Nice to meet you. I bet these guys aren’t,” Blacklight said, indicating the robot.
“That reminds me, one moment,” I said. I turned back to the neighborhood and snapped my fingers. The buildings came together, and the dead returned to life without a craving for human flesh. I couldn’t say the same about all the pets I returned to life, but some of those just come with a natural craving for humans. So many of them, in fact. It’s a good thing I brought the people back first.
“That’s handy. A giant undo button. I could use something like that,” Blacklight commented.
“You have something you’d like to fix?” I asked.
“So many things,” she shook her head. “Let me dump this off with someone.” She swooped down and dropped off the robot head with a uniformed cop with a squad car, then came up to join me.
“You’re going to leave that with… him?” I asked pointing to the inadequate publicly-owned security guard.
“Gotta look good while I’m fighting for my life in court. I have a new name, new costume, new fucking anger issues. One of them, I swear to God, um…”
I waved it off. “I am that I am.” I snapped my fingers again, dropping us off at a food truck serving gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, Gouda Vibrations. I floated us a big variety tray.
Blacklight grabbed a half of a sandwich and inhaled it pretty much. “Fine. One of these slimy little bastards tried to put in a motion arguing I’m an evil twin. Someone opened a portal to another dimension where the heroes are villains and villains are heroes, so now they’re trying to say that’s who I am. It’s fucking deranged.”
“I’d leave out the deranged language, but go on. What do you want?” I leaned forward, to halves of a sandwich flying toward my mouth like a butterfly. I plucked one out of the air and nibbled on it. Smoked cheddar with mozzarella. “Delicious.”
“Yeah, it’s good… no, but see, I don’t know what I want, I guess,” Blacklight continued. “You could make it all go away, couldn’t you? If you wanted, you could change their minds, or make everyone thing I hadn’t died.”
I nodded. “Yes, but do you really want me to? There’s all that moral stuff.”
“You’re supposed to be a goddess, right?” Blacklight pointed out.
“Yeah, but I’ll freely admit I’m not a source of morality. I can do all kinds of things that aren’t really moral. I can make them give up and judge in your favor. I can make them never have had an issue with it. I could them love you. I could make you love me.”
Blacklight chewed on her sandwich, leaning forward. I caught a grin through the mask of hers. It was all black, with the openings looking like burns, made to resemble some of the damages that originally killed her. “I’m straight, but I can think of a worse exchange. You said that for a reason.
I raised an eyebrow, busying myself with another sandwich. “You want to offer yourself as, what, my girlfriend? And in return, you want to be legally declared alive and in charge of your company. But what if I know you’d have hated me?”
“How bad could you be?” Blacklight asked. “I know what you’ve done. Heard about what you might have done.” She bent down over the tray to have herself another half of a sandwich. “You should see what I’d do to have my dad back. Or take me up on this and see.” She winked at me.
“Uuuuuh,” I said.
“Don’t beat around the bush. You have the power to stop this. If you have better offer to do this for me, let me hear it,” Blacklight said.
“What did you do?” Baron Samedi asked, gesturing for me to take my earnings from the latest hand.
“I left. Teleported out. I didn’t take her up on it, but I wanted to.”
“Why not then? She offered a deal that appeals to you,” the Baron said. He accepted the new cards dealt to him.
“I’m uncomfortable with her selling herself to me, basically,” I responded.
“I think you are uncomfortable with who you are and what you want. Dame wanted something, Blacklight wanted something. Morgan, Venus, Medusa, all want something. You let them do the things they do because you want the fantasy and companionship, but you fear the judgment of others and yourself. You should figure out who you are, embrace it. Or don’t, and stay a puny guard.”
I was quiet for awhile after that, up until we reached the end of the E again. “I think I’ll just go on my merry way. Nice playing with you, Baron.” I reached for a bottle of rum I made appear, pouring both of us a shot and leaving him the bottle.
“We should do this again, but bringing others we know won’t cheat.” Baron said, puffing on his cigar and snatching up the glass. I nodded and threw back a shot of rum before leaving.
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