Tag Archives: Dame

Arete in Epilogue

***Connection established***

Gooooood morning!

Look on my words, ye mighty, and drink a shot of bourbon!

I’m not responsible for the effects of my advice on those under twenty-one, by the way. You’re on your own there. Besides, you shouldn’t go becoming an alcoholic. Pick up a better addiction, like glue, or paint, or masturbating to a female anthropomorphic fox being stuck alive and conscious as she’s embalmed. Rule Thirty-Four, are there no depths to which you won’t sink?

Who am I to talk, anyway?

I did some sinking, mostly through the collapsing Empyre State Building and into the dark underbelly of the city. The sewer, that is. Lots of piss coming out the underbelly. It stank very much bad down there. That could have been the destruction of the building and loss of life, though. I know I certainly added my own share of piss on the way down, and I suspect some others did.

But as you may have gathered, it’s hard to keep a bad man down.

I am hilarity. I am the fright!

I! Am! A badman!

Just imagine some lightning right then. This blog operates on a budget on that side of things.

So yes, I survived. Like a little horde of heroes, a collapsing building, incompatible technology, and some Cherenkov radiation-induced heartburn are going to end me.

Amazingly, so did Carl and Moai. I mean, I figured Moai had a better shot at it than most people, but Carl got lucky. As far as I can tell, those crazy heroic sons of bitches actually tried to protect them!

Granted, Carl still wound up injured, but all he had to do was lose the balaclava and he passed for a regular Joe Schmo survivor of that clash of titans. I paid him a visit in the hospital while he was laid up. Surprisingly easy to get where you need to go in a hospital full of busy people. Dirty place, though. Not that he could leave with casts on an arm and a leg, his ribs wrapped up, but at least they got that stapler out from where it got embedded.

I brought him some food, messed with the computers to make sure his treatment would be covered, and double checked his chart to make sure he hadn’t been accidentally scheduled for a testicular cancer check with tissue samples or something. Let that be a lesson to all of y’all: friends don’t let friends accidentally lose their balls.

What’s that, you want to defend the competency of doctors and surgeons to me? Yeah right. Next you’ll be claiming that all those grown adults with years of training that stick their hands inside people also remember to wash their hands and count their tools afterwards.

What’s that? “But Gecko, you shove your hands into people’s bodies all the time without washing up immediately afterward.” Hey, I’m not trying to keep people alive when I do it.

People make dumb mistakes, even the smart ones.

Like me, I make mistakes all the time. I even messed up a few things this time around. Sometimes winning means making sure the other side messes up more than you do.

“In light of the stunning and candid look into the heroes we trust to defend us and our values, the hero group Shieldwall has decided to disband. It is for the best that they did.”

Ah yes, the opening lines to another article about my triumph. An opinion piece, I think. The title is “Armies Are Unwelcome.”

“Evidence mounted that the heroes had begun a self-perpetuating feud with the supervillain that drove each side to escalate the conflict with every encounter. This war drove both sides further than they should have gone. A supervillain is hardly expected to hold to laws or self-restraint, but a group of heroes as numerous and powerful and with as much backing as Shieldwall should have been able to defeat him without resorting to the unthinkable. In almost full agreement, they talked of executing the supervillain without even the benefit of a trial. Nobody in their right mind condones the actions of Psycho Gecko, but the thought of self-appointed vigilantes serving as judge, jury, and executioner is abhorrent to the hearts of Americans everywhere.

Superheroes have been a long and proud tradition in the United States since well before World War II. They’ve worked for the people without the interference of the government, and sometimes with government complicity or even at the beck and call of the government. But the American people will not sit idly by and allow our streets to be patrolled by the unaccountable. They protect the peace and serve the public trust against extraordinary circumstances with amazing abilities. Some are virtually tanks, but our streets were not meant to be patrolled by tanks. We the people, under the Posse Comitatus Act, don’t allow the government to patrol the country with machines of war. Yes, we can stomach vigilantes, but armies are unwelcome here.”

It goes on a bit, usually trying to make that point about armies. I would have settled for hammering home that point that the continuing attacks forced me to find creative, and destructive ways to defend myself, but then they caught me. Victory defeated them.

You know, I can actually sympathize with them wanting to kill me. It was probably the best thing they could have done. It’s what they really wanted to do, after all. That’s not to say Venus was wrong. That was very much her own response.

Let me elaborate. When you’ve lived your life with a mindset molded by what your parents taught you, which they learned from their parents, only thinking of things in the way you were raised to think them…then I don’t care about you. You aren’t a real person. You’re your grandparents in a younger body. Start thinking for yourself and you can start living for yourself.

“Our prayers go out to the victims of that day when the fatal feud reached its boiling point. We wish it hadn’t taken such stunning revelations and the death, assumed or real, of a supervillain to finally bring our city a little closer to peace.”

“They think you’re dead?”

I folded up the newspaper and looked up at Carl. “Yep. They assume I’m dead. The smart ones are holding out until a body’s found, but they’ll give in before long. Some of the heroes check in around the hospitals just in case I show up here in a bed. I’m glad to have a break from all that attention for now.”

“Don’t forget you won’t have to worry about the heroes now. Hey, you don’t think that’s another trick, do you?”

“Nah, I got a guy who’s good with the news. He helped confirm it for me. The Master Academy heroes are heading back east. Bright Star, Miss Tycism, the Human Sloth; they took the worst of the fighting. There’s no word about Honky Tonk Hero. People speculate Gorilla Awesome might help the Kingscrow capes, whatever their team name was, but no one’s certain about him. Forcelight’s going to head back and keep an eye on Kingscrow. Keep getting reacquainted with her dad. He’s not such a Good Doctor after all, telling stories about me to his daughter. Raggedy Man’s going with them. He’s been training the private cops over there anyway. Troubleshooter and Mechamoto are kinda wobbly. They might go their own ways. Finally, last I heard of Black Raptor, he was back home taking care of his kids.”

“Wow, they put all that in the newspaper?”

“Of course not, but I said I knew a guy who was into the news. What is the point of having your own news organization by the balls if you aren’t going to wiretap anyone who might possibly be a threat or critic?”

“Huh. So we won?”

“We won.”

“Wow, and it sounds like everything’s calming down,” said Carl.

“Benefit of temporary death. Good tax dodge too.” I thought about things quieting down. Then I couldn’t help but grin.

“Something funny, boss?” asked this prince of plaster casts.

“Yeah, a delivery I arranged before we did everything on the Empyre State Building. I owed somebody a little present before making things dangerous.”

Carl glanced at the TV, which was turned to the news but left muted. “Hey, something else is going on. Can I hear that?”

I switched on the volume as a blonde addressed the camera in the studio, “-ene of a large attack seemingly perpetuated by a dead man or at least arranged before his death. Ladies and gentlemen, if you’re just joining us, then you should know a sonic bomb similar to that used in Kingscrow has been detonated within Paradise City, damaging every piece of glass in the city, destroying equipment vulnerable to sensitive vibrations, and exposing old people and little kids to a curse word. Let’s go to Dwight Bryan in the field to see how the survivors are coping.”

They cut to a man with lightish darkish skin. I suppose I’ll have to learn more about coffee to describe skin tones. “Thank you, Danielle. I’m here with a local business owner, Mr. Soreston of Soreston Appliances.” The camera panned over to show an older man with a craggy face and light brown hair. “Mr. Soreston, can you tell us about how this event impacted your store?”

The old man held his hand to his ear. “Huh?!”

“How has this affected you?!”

“Something, something shoe?!”

“You know, I think we’ll ask Mrs. Anderson here.” Dwight stepped across in front of Mr. Soreston. The cameraman followed him to a thin woman with grey hair down past her shoulders and a denim skirt on. “She’s been a Sunday School teacher for 40 years, isn’t that right?”

Like the man, she strained to hear. “What?”

“Wonderful. Ma’am, were the children traumatized in any way by the event and the word they heard?”

“The fuck you sayin’?”

Dwight pushed her out of sight of the camera quickly and plastered an artificial smile on his blushing face “Now to Danielle in the studio. Danielle?”

“Thank you Dwight.”

I muted it again. “Well, I’m glad that worked out. That Ouroboros asshole had it coming.”

I excused myself soon after as I had a meeting to get to. As instructed, I approached the Marriott World Trade Center looking for an expensive car. Needle in a haystack much? My attention was drawn to one in particular when the door opened for me, courtesy of a female hand. Mercedes-Benz by the look of it. Not too ostentatious. There was more to it, though. That little part under the headlights wasn’t standard. It was closed off. I couldn’t see inside due to the window tint, but at least the hand saved me the trouble of checking it over for bombs.

I slid in next to Dame and shut the door behind me. I saw there wasn’t a driver. “Fancy car.”

“Thank you,” she said. She had her mask on.

“Surprised you want to see me, but I guess you were their next best choice after Venus. Always that annoying tendency to find me,” I said.

Dame looked at me with light, clear blue eyes. Deep. Like I could fall into them. Those are pretty eyes. I’d love to be able to look down and see them on a keychain or something. “After all you and the team have been through, they felt it best to discover if rumors of your death were premature. You and her don’t cross paths unless you absolutely have to, that’s a condition right from the start.”

“They worried I’ll break her?”

“You should be worried that she’ll break you. You’ve taken a lot from her and she’s got what it takes to beat you, I think. More than that, you owe her. Her argument held her teammates up long enough not to kill you when they could.” I nodded and opened my mouth to speak, but she cut me off, “Not that they will try to kill you. Everyone walks away. There’s no more Shieldwall, and your grudge against them is done. They won’t try to come after you particularly, but that doesn’t mean you can pull stuff right in front of them and expect them to ignore you. The longer you draw out this death of yours, the better for everyone involved.”

“What stick are they using to keep me in line?” I asked, rubbing my butt against the cushiony seat.

“They’ll reveal you’re alive if you try something before you out yourself. I imagine the sooner that is to all of this mess you’ve caused, the more likely that vengeful heroes and an unhappy government are going to come knocking at your door. You’ve blown up a national icon and a major building in a short amount of time. Wars have started for less. But the main consequence, once everyone knows you aren’t dead, is this starts up again. You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t want to avoid that too.”

“Unless y’all get lucky and take me out by trying something, of course.”

“It is the heroes’ understanding that such an attempt would be unsuccessful and lead to more death and destruction than if you were left to yourself. Do we have a deal?”

“Maybe. This is the second time lately I’ve been offered a deal by Shieldwall. Why do they expect me to keep to it?”

She ran a fingertip along a seam between gems on her mask, “I imagine because you kept to your deal concerning me. You expect me to know what the heroes are thinking?”

I pointed at her nose, “I hear you tend to listen at doors. Think of it as a condition of my acceptance if it’s such a problem.”

She reached out her hand for a handshake.

“Enchanté, mademoiselle,” I said while taking her hand and kissing the back of it. I then turned it into a handshake.

“Forcelight’s learned things from her alleged father. A deal’s a deal, Psycho Gecko.”

“Please, Dame, Psycho Gecko is what everyone calls me. Feel free to call me…Psycho Gecko.”

She snorted and pulled her hand away. “Charming, truly, but I have places to be. We wouldn’t want Forcelight to think you’ve done something to me and rejected the arrangement.”

I got the impression she wanted me gone, so I popped the door and stepped out. She reached over to close it and the car took off as soon as it shut. A driverless car that doesn’t have the roof setup? That’s a fancy car. There better not be another company opening up a “steal Psycho Gecko’s stuff” division.

In the waning light of the day, I looked out over the unsuspecting city full of the vulnerable and forgotten. Whatever a post-Shieldwall life holds in store for me, I will never forget that with great power comes great superiority over mortal man. This is my curse, no, my gift. Ha, only those unimaginative masses could see such power as a curse, but I deserve it. I’m different. Who am I? I’m Psycho Gecko, man.

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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 3

I am the master of your fucking universe, baby! No, I have not had crack!

I caught a thief. She’s far too good at finding me. She made it past a number of defenses. The reverse punji pit above the side door. The Spamocles Sword. She even made her way through the flashlight area. Took me awhile to set that one up. Setting up enough boxes and heavy metal crates to form rooms. That’s the problem, I guess. All that trouble to build something up, only to have someone come along and wreck all your hard work. Reminds me of a story…well, best to save that for another time.

Dame was back, my beautiful, black-suited thieving acquaintance with the shiny mask and armband. We don’t have a good track record as far as our encounters go. This time, Moai and I saw her sneak up to the Heatflasher. It looked like this was another of those bad encounters.

“Not so fast, you thieving, conniving, deceptive, traitorous, glamorous, agile, lithe woman in a skin-tight suit!” I said, then caught my breath. It was a mouthful.

Dame turned to face us. Her response didn’t indicate surprise. Then she saw that both Moai and I were in police uniforms. I was armed with a banana and a mustache, though Moai had on a fake mustache of his own that was large enough to fit his face. “Well, well, well, looks like it’s the rabbit here to try and steal all our Trix. Book em’, Moe,” I told my stony servant. I kept the banana trained on her.

“What’s in that?” Dame asked, “Another laser? Acid?”

“Not at all, Dame. Arms behind your back,” I said as Moai made his way behind her. She complied and he cuffed her out of my sight. “This sucker’s loaded with potassium. As you know, potassium has a hostile reaction in water.”

“You’re going to blow up the water supply?”

“No, my dear, I have something much more delicious in mind…” I grabbed the end of the banana…and peeled it. Then I was eating a banana.

Dame relaxed at that. She even laughed as the tension left her body. Bad move. While the simple banana is merely a delicious source of nutrition and dong jokes to everybody else, it’s also incredibly deadly in the wrong hands or orifice.

Moai hopped over to my side again. “Good job, partner. Now, then, little lady, just what were you doing sneaking in here. I don’t have any pictures for you to steal any more. The fire ate my birdy.”
She shook her head. “Actually, I already stole that from you just before you did all that. It’s safe and sound, just like we’ll all be when I disable this thing,” she revealed.

I turned to Moai, “I get in one colossal fight and Dame gets scared. She should move in with her aunty and uncle in Bel Air.”

She groaned.

I turned back to her, “See, that’s the problem with the non-violent ones. Weak stomachs. Too willing to join the side of the angels when you start destroying national monuments. Get the fuck out of here and don’t come back or I’ll be forced to do something I enjoy.”

Dame bent her legs just a bit and backflipped over the Heatflasher. Without any sign of the handcuffs anywhere, she knelt and opened a panel. Before she could grab any potentially valuable piece, she found herself incorporeal once again. She flailed, panicking, and looked around for anything she could latch on to. She dove for the light switch. Her mass suddenly increased when she became solid again and she dropped to the floor like a sack of potatoes with a fine ass. Mmmm, dat spud.

“Ah, the dangers of ourtsourcing your IT and then ever getting into a conflict with that person,” I gloated. I walked over and knelt beside her. “I recognize that you’re very skilled at what you do, but conflict with other superhumans is what I do. So what you’re going to do now is get your ass out of here and don’t come back.” I jumped up and ran to the fridge, then pulled out a frozen bass. I rushed back and shoved it in her face. “Do you see this? Do you know what this is?”

Dame tried to get away from the slimy little stink critter, but I grabbed her head and held it close. “I will find a fun place to shove this fish if you come back here. Understand?”

She nodded through some nasty coughs.

Moai and I gently escorted her out, each of us grabbing a side and tossing her out the door. Then I pressed a button on the fish and tossed it out. It exploded just above her into a pink mist of disgusting fish smell. She wasn’t hurt, except in the smellular way.

I went back inside and set an electrified cage up around the Heatflasher. I needed to get out and deal with something. A certain target among the heroes that has been exceedingly helpful to them. The Heatflasher would be great to drag along for this, but drag would be the operative term. The fight and landing didn’t do it any favors, so I have some parts to replace. I plugged the cage right into it, though. That way, if Dame comes back then she won’t be snipping the power.

That doesn’t mean the Heatflasher had no influence on my next course of action. I called in a Psycho Gecko threat at Wall Street. “You better hurry. He’s talking about bolsheviking Mensheviks in the Kolyma.”

Time to get the armor on. And some more fish out of the fridge. And that air cannon.
Minutes later I soared through the air on a rocket, a heavy pack on my back. Replacements. I saw the Shieldwall jet ahead as the heroes deployed. They were searching, with the jet lagging behind to help coordinate things. And, of course, to help provide transport for those left on the ground.

When I saw it, I activated my payload. Five rockets activated and flew off my back. It was going to be iffy controlling them like this, all through the helmet, but worse comes to worse and they’ll just crash. No big deal. It’s not my city.

I overtook the jet easily and took my rocket upward. Black Raptor broke off from circling over a block to ascend after me. I armed my fish stink grenade and turned, firing it into Raptor’s chest. It slapped him right in the chest and caught him by surprise. The subsequent pink mist got him full on. Hacking and vomiting, he dropped. I directed a rocket into his chest on the way down and bopped him on the top of the jet before circling around.

Another smacked into a rudder. The rest were closer. All at once, my rocket and the other four nearby began a flip, cut engines, aimed downward, and hit the engines, with me jumping off my rocket. I loaded another fish into the air cannon as best as I could given all the wind while coordinating the attack on the jet. One by one the rockets smacked into the canopy glass. Bam, bam, bam, bam, bam. I saw it as I fell past. It was cracking.

The jet opened fire on them with lasers and scored a hit on one. The rest of its fuel went up at once and it exploded.

The same rocket that assaulted Raptor flew down and maneuvered underneath me. I landed with it between my legs, remembering very quickly how bad of an idea that was around the same time I gained a lovely high-pitched singing voice.

The other rockets cut their engines and dropped to join me. I leaned on another to the side of me as I got a better seat and pulled my sack out from under my taint.

Ok, one rocket down, one hero down, one jet not down. Of course I hadn’t thought this through. You’ve seen how my plans go. They bore people. I saw the side door open on the jet. Somebody’s about to join the party. Somebody also created a way in. I sent a rocket towards the door to try and catch whoever tried to rain on my parade. It poured gorilla instead.

Gorilla Awesome, the intelligent, talking, jet pack-wearing, laser using, grappling hooking gorilla himself jumped out, caught the rocket, and fired his own jetpack, directing it away.

I sent more after him, including my own. His moved horizontally in a circle as he messed with it between dodging my attacks. The others I directed into a vertical circle each time one missed. I even tried to slap fight him as I passed, but he drove one foot into my chest and nearly knocked me off the rocket. I grabbed onto it instead and dropped the air cannon in the process. There goes leaving my own special scent on the inside of the thing. I circled back around to slam my boots into Awesome’s midsection. He grabbed my calf with one foot and pulled me free. Content with me rather than a lowly rocket, he let go and began to fly us back to the jet with his own pack.

Raptor joined us. He looked a little worse for the wear, but he grabbed hold of my other leg. “If it’s not too much to ask, can we not do the wishbone thing?” I pleaded.

I could tell Raptor thought it was a good idea. He didn’t have too much time to enjoy the idea as a rocket got him in the flat of his back, and then another skimmed between his legs and probably did some quality manscaping close to the skin. The third one to hit him in this little barrage was playing holey war. Propelled by a rocket in his ass, Raptor bothered me no more.

Gorilla Awesome still had me in one foot and I got into a weak little kick fight against him, my boot to his prehensile foot. “Monkey see, monkey don’t!” I called out as I hit the jump enhancer for my leg. The subsequent blow would have been below the belt if apes wore belts. Or even tophats, I suppose. I don’t know where the line is drawn at including other primates into fair fights.

I got to see what a gorilla with bulging eyes looked like at least, but he still didn’t let go and I was getting closer and closer to the jet.

“Arrest moi? Not if I can make an ape escape!” I bantered again and called up my rockets. One of them didn’t respond. Probably the one Monsieur Mallah here was messing with.

That left me with three. I guess I should have done this at the start, when I had more, but that’s the way the bowling ball bounces. I aimed for the VTOL jets on the aircraft itself. The first rocket exploded as it flew within, but it wasn’t going down. Just wobbling. Damn their craftsmanship!

So rocket number dos had to go in and dosey-do. This time, there was a hoedown. No word on if any non-hos went down with the plane. It lost that jet and was falling in a spiral. That’s when Wannabe-Grodd let go and tried to stabilize the fall. I caught myself on my last free rocket before letting go. It slammed into Awesome’s jetpack and blew it. The burning gorilla fell, but I saw him fire off the grappling hook before too long. He lived. Damn.

That left only one way to save myself from a rather nasty-looking fall. I landed on a screaming Black Raptor as he flew beneath me and grabbed onto the rear half of the rocket. We went into a spin as I tried to shake Raptor loose a little, then went for the jump enhancers again as we sank closer to the ground. I planted my boots on Raptor’s buns and kicked off.

He went down in a tangle on a nearby rooftop, leaving me to fly back. Looks like poor little Shieldwall’s taking the bus from here on out.

No, don’t save Black Raptor a seat. I think he’d rather stand.

Suck it, Shieldwall, right in your jet engine.

 

Next

Previous

Get Wrecked 7

Free at last, free at last. When it comes to having a ghost lady hanging on to me, I am free at last. I got the phase device thingy working right. A little bit of guesswork, some experience with slightly similar devices, a little bit of putting it back together the way it was, and a little bit of becoming one with it all paid off.

The first thing my unwelcome guest did was help herself to the food. Enough of her was removed from reality to keep her from being immediately harmed by lack of water or food, but that doesn’t mean she wasn’t incredible hungry when she got back.

Technically, that shouldn’t have worked either unless she came to my place on an empty stomach. Maybe she did. Ignoring extraneous details like that comes in useful. When a cell phone turns into a robot or aliens that look like utahraptors invade, it doesn’t do to stand around all day going “Gee, I wonder how this happened.”

Nope, much better to find an intestine and start tearing. Just try to avoid using your own unless you’re good with choking or whipping someone. Also, kinda difficult to shove those back in. Bring a staple gun.

So here was this art thief, pickpocket, and minor pain in my ass sitting on my couch, tucking in to my bowl of cereal and half gallon of pineapple-orange-banana juice.

I just sat down on the floor and turned up the TV. Damn, looks like the U.S. avoided an economic catastrophe and the shutdown’s ended. Well that’s just great. I never did get to raid the Smithsonian in D.C. I was really looking forward to owning a T-Rex skull.

Oh, and the Yurples carved up some members of the Reds and Greens, cutting off chunks of skin in the shape of those protective casings you see around phones. No clue why they want them, to be honest. They’re not even knifeproof, obviously.

“In response, there’s been evidence that the Greens have broken out their stockpiles of space marine weaponry. This footage, shot earlier today, shows the devastating violence they’ve already unleashed,” said an overly-dramatic news anchor. His hair may be perfect, but his vision stunk. It was just an electric car full of militant hippies unloaded on a coffee shop with full-auto handguns with exploding bullets. Geez, don’t bother calling my attention to it until they take out the buildings behind it t- well helloooooooooo nurse!

I watched as they showed the replay. A Green with a surprising amount of muscle mass stepped out at the end of the barrage while holding a large rectangular weapon on his shoulder. It had two openings, not so much barrels as holes in the rectangle. The Green fired just the top. The weapon flew back as a glowing projectile flew through the air. And the coffee shop. And the book store next door. And the corner restaurant after that. There was a loud crack and then a roar.

The next scene, the lightly injured members of the Greens rolled their car back onto the wheels. The one who fired the weapon was left behind, but they did try to retrieve the thing. The hyper-advanced blowy uppey thingy, I’m calling it at this point. They got it, but they had to pull the gunner’s arms off it. The palms were melted to it, and the recoil threw the weapon back so far it ripped entire limbs off.

Looks like some strong weapons survived the parody paradox, or parodyox as I like to call it.

“A horrible scene. I wish we warned you beforehand about having kids in the room. Truly a scene of bowel-loosening terror. One good thing to come of it is that Shieldwall has established a presence in that corner of the city, or at least a former member of Shieldwall.

Paveman, the Concrete Crusader, isn’t letting a little thing like downsizing take him out of action. With their primary antagonist, Psycho Gecko, in hiding after his sonic attack on Kingscrow, Shieldwall has been busy fighting a collection of animal-themed villains in Canada. Paveman, though, has been sighted here in Empyreal City with ever increasing frequency.”

And then we come to another clip. This time it shows drunk Reds beating down someone while yelling that he owes them money. Suddenly, a manhole cover is thrown high into the air and Paveman leaps up, pulling the sidewalk into himself to grow too large to fit back in the hole. Not that he tried to, anyway. He landed with his feet on either side and gave the Reds a wallopin’. Near as I can tell, walloping originates from someone trying to come up with a term to describe smacking someone across the face repeatedly with a wallaby.

This may be a lie, however, or it may be true only in different dimensions. Can you really take that risk?

The anchor broke in right when Paveman sent a Red flying into a car that happened to be driving by, causing it to hit a car going the other direction and stop suddenly, with a car then plowing into the first car from behind, “Needless to say, while the city dislikes the collateral damage done to infrastructure, that’s a minor issue compared to hooligans blowing everything up.

Let’s go over to Francis with the weather for this weekend. Francis?”

But enough about weather.

I’ll give the Greens points for viciousness. Not sure if they’re going to survive the final cut, though. I won’t need three gangs under me. Barely got room under me with this magnificently large pair of balls bouncing around down there.

I shut off the TV and turned to my guest. “Hey there hungry sleepy woman. What about you? You got any news? Juicy tidbits? Stay away from the gossip section, but give me things to know.”

“M’ name’s Dame,” she answered, her words distorted as she shoved a spoon into her mouth.

“Hello Dame. Anything useful? Hey, here’s something. Stop trying to take my stuff! You got that?”

Dame nodded as she chewed on frosted flakes of corn.

“No argument? Well, that’s good I suppose. By the way, saw you at that party. Don’t know why you were snatching wallets from people when you can sneak around through security and take fancy things.”

“Sh ish mf,” she started to answer before stopping to get more of her food down, “It is because of you. The upper crust likes to wear their fancy jewels for occasions like that. I was there to shop and didn’t want anybody thinking they had a thief in their midst, even if it was just you.”

“Just me?”

She stammered out a response, “A mad killer who sometimes steals things. That’s what I meant.”

“Ah, ok. So, I’m mad am I?”

“Um…maybe?”

“You think I have anger issues?”

“That’s not what I meant, but yes.”

“Why?”

“Because you shoved a frozen swan up someone’s ass and hit him so hard with the head that it burst.”

“Perhaps that was coldly calculated to throw my enemies off balance?”

“You shoved your hand up his butt.”

“All part of my diabolical plan, I assure you.”

“What plan was that?”

“Killing that man after shoving my hand up his butt, of course. Try to keep up.”

Dame rolled her eyes. She then cleared her throat and stood up. “By the way, am I free to go?”

I smiled at her. “Oh yes. I just think there’s one thing you owe me first.”

A few minutes later I stood watching as her hands moved in circular motions, the water flowing over them and splashing against the round…bowl. She ate from my bowl, she’s at least going to wash the darn thing before she leaves. Manners, people!

“By the way,” I told her, “your phase thingy should work ok now. There’s just one thing I might ask you to do as payment. No dishes involved, I don’t think.”

Dame looked up from drying her hands, “Nothing violent. I don’t do violence.”

“I noticed. I just want you to spy on someone for me.”

She cocked her head to the side as she considered it, but I think it was obvious she owed me a little. “Ok, I’ll watch the guy for you.”

“And see if you can find anything I can use against him. Missed child support payments, an unhealthy love of women in Nazi uniforms, daddy issues, mommy issues, NAMBLA magazine issues. I want something I can use against him to apply psychological pressure.”

She nodded. “You got it,” she said as she looked around. “Wow, this place is a piece of shit. Do you have an email address I can send reports through to?”

I gave her the one that I use for receiving jobs and saw her off, through the door this time.

Then I turned to find Moai where he was propped up on the couch, having switched the channel to a horror movie.

“Alright, Moai, I think it’s time. Let’s get the plot moving along.”

He looked at me at that.

“The plot to mess with the Statue of Liberty, of course. What did you think I was talking about? This is the part where we put pressure on the gangs. Then I’ll twist their arms. After that, it’s smooth sailing. Just helicopters and lots of equipment after that. Now, you get the rocket launcher. I’ll get the car.”

The guys who run the gangs are known. Where they live, their jobs, their families, all that is common enough knowledge and all of it is irrelevant. The families are protected, the jobs are fronts, and their homes are so well guarded that any other gang is going to be hesitant in the extreme when it comes to attacking there.

So I blew those same homes up.

Moai handled the Yurples’ leader’s house with the Ikea rocket launcher. A couple of shots, badda bing badda boom, and the Macbook daddy is homeless. He was putting up the illusion of being at work when Moai wrecked the place.

I handled the Greens’ compound. It was all about showing that someone could live in a city without having a huge carbon footprint. It had a large garden with trees in the yard. I tore through on my car. A minigun chewed through trees. Lasers burned bushes and vines. I crashed through the front door and into the large living room of the place. Men jumped out of where they’d taken cover to shoot up my car, but the armoring held. I flipped a switch on the dash and a pair of car nuts underneath my “CTUL US16” plate extended out and fell off, bouncing and then rolling in different directions. I gunned it and drove straight through to the backyard as they detonated.

I watched the flames tear through the house and blow the windows out for a moment, wishing I had some marshmallows. Then I drove out, flipping a switch that caused an oil to squirt out of the tailpipe of my car and create a slick all over the yard.

As for the Reds, Moai and I both took out their place. We showed up, again and again, as simple delivery men. Somebody, the Greens or Yurples, was resorting to the old prank of ordering up lots of pizza. Well, the joke was on the enemy gangs. The Red guards loved pizza.

Maybe not so much when one large stack of pizza boxes that no one had ever unstacked opened up to start pumping a gaseous substance into the dwelling. The pizzas emitted a little bit of it as well, soon causing the guards to collapse with blooded mouths and reddened skin. After another twenty minutes like this, the section of the house immediately surrounding emitter collapsed, the wood having been eaten away.

I’ve made sure the leaders weren’t there at the time I attacked for a good reason though. They’re going to be the ones to submit to my brilliant scheme soon enough. For now, though, the Reds get to enjoy some conspicuous consumption.

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