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The Collectibles 6

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“We are now on day three of Richard Avast’s reign of terror. The once-billionaire’s assets have been attacked and seized all over the globe by supervillains. The eccentric Avast threatened retaliation with, quote, ‘every super weapon in my collection,’ prompting governments to open investigations into his and his company’s holdings,” the news went on and on. Nobody’s talking about what kind of superweapons Avast has, which would actually be useful. I’m guessing nobody wants to cause a panic, which is itself causing panic. No concrete monster can match the uncertainty of the human imagination.

But since he buys stuff up from famous sci fi franchises, that limits the pool of potential weapons. Or it would, but until recently he’d been kidnapping supervillains and stealing their technology. We’re not sure what he’s doing on that. Some of the other villains on VillaiNet swear people are still disappearing, but I wouldn’t put it past a few of those to lie for some sort of advantage.

For the next couple of days, anytime all hell broke loose, it was blamed on him. I can’t say for sure if he had anything to do with that zombie attack in Indonesia. Guatemala’s an odd choice for a bunch of gemstone monsters to appear. I do think the weird sentient cellphone robots of Portugal might have been him, but these were old and the only ones that gave anyone any trouble were the night-indestructible Nokias. I’ve fought some like that before, so it sounds about right.

And yeah, I may have been part of Exemplar operations to try and stop shit from going down. I want to get in on the space mission, and one of them actually gave me a way in.

Medusa called me into a special mission along with some of her higher-up Exemplar, along with Decimal, Darklight, and a pair that were Feds. They looked like FBI desk jockeys, but they identified themselves as “Office of Superhuman Resources, Paranormal/Superhuman Crimes Division. It’s a new division created to handle investigations without being an armed assault team if you will.”

I looked to Medusa. “They’re cool,” she assured me. “The PSCD is new, but they have established people. Some of them used to work in the FBI and still have access to leaked information. Would you care to explain, Agent Fi?”

The skinny guy who’d introduced them nodded. “I’m Agent Marcus Fi, this is Agent Nita Clark. Agent Clark used to monitor the military for disloyal white supremacist activity. There are several who admire Mr. Avast in the circles they talk in. He has reached out to them. They think the apps are secure, but we have him scheming. Some soldiers at one of the bases are going to leave a silo open and let Avast teleport a nuclear missile out.”

I shook my head. “Boring. Super technology, zombies, self-aware cell phones… and he settles for nukes. Ask Japan, it’s been done.”

Fi kept speaking. “The theft is scheduled to take place during an inspection and drill. Slowing down the closing process won’t raise alarms until missiles start disappearing.”

“This is where I step in,” Agent Clark said. Pretty young, but then that can be hard to guess with some people. At least government killjoys are diverse. “We could go in and break things up. However, doing that loses us an opportunity to get to Mr. Avast. We can work together to infiltrate his space station, but we don’t know what the situation will be like up there. We need someone who can sneak in, analyze and adjust to the changing situation, with the ability to handle exotic technology so we don’t wreck everything.”

She looked me right in the eyes as she stepped forward and I had a sudden realization that more cleavage of hers was showing than most Federal agents would normally show. She ended up close to kissing distance.

“Wow,” I told her, “I know what you’re doing and, for the record, you’re doing a great job at it.”

She smiled at me. Red lipstick. She wants me thinking of those lip. “Thank you. See, redemption is a process. You can’t do something once and promise to-”

I held up a hand. “I’ll do it. No need for the emotional gut punch and inspiration. My question is how do you want Dicky boy cooked: well-done, deep-fried, scrambled, or rare?”

That’s how I ended up pretending to be some sort of military brasshole in a military convoy that didn’t actually have to go far. Flyover country is loaded with nukes if you look in the right spot, a relic of the Cold War. I was piled into the back of an SUV with Decimal, Clark, and Fi. At least I didn’t have to wear these stuffy uniforms like the rest of them did. And one benefit of having government aid on this was all our credentials were in order. Darklight was the driver in case things didn’t hold up. She would stay ready outside in case the team inside needed muscle. That wasn’t my role this time. My part was as simple as slipping off to the restroom with Agent Clark.

“You don’t have to babysit me,” I told her.

“I know,” she crossed her arms and headed to the stall. She reached into her pocket and pulled out a keycard. “This is a fail safe key for this base. I’ll need that back after this is done.”

I snorted and took it. “That it?”

“Yeah.”

I shrugged. “Whenever you’re ready. I head out after you and I’m gone.”

She nodded. “Give me a minute.” She took her time using the bathroom, washing her hands, fixing her makeup and all. She had a nervous energy about her.

“You don’t normally do this, eh? What, they have you spying on BLM protesters somewhere?”

Agent Clark gave me a sharp look. “I want to help people. I did this job to protect protesters from bootlicker dick weasels like we’re dealing with. You’ve probably tried to kill all of those BLM protesters when you tried to take over the world, so don’t act like you’re righteous here.” She even pointed a finger at me.

“There you go. Been wanting to say that since you pretended to flirt with me?”

“Flirting’s part of the job,” she said, stepping past me and running a finger along the chin of my helmet. Her mood had shifted like that. “But someone who decided to grow a conscience yesterday does not get to pretend they’re better than me because of the job I do to protect people. You ready?”

I nodded and disappeared. She went her way, the anger at least curing her of some of her nervousness. I could say that was the intention all along, but it wasn’t. I feel much better knowing where I stand with her instead of sussing it out. We stayed together only part of the way until she branched off. I headed a different direction, the failsafe key making it the easiest damn thing in the world to get into the silo. They could have done this without someone so skilled at remaining invisible.

I ran into a teensy bit of trouble in the corridor leading to the nuke itself. They had some guards there, both in a booth and beside the door. Ordinarily, they’d be a lot more casual, but this was inspection day. That’s the kind of day when you notice the door in front of you opened and closed on its own. The two next to the door pulled firearms: they were packing recent upgrades, the MHP220. Based on a Mac-10, they built it for heavier wear and tear, a higher caliber, and better accuracy. It was still big, but it could penetrate my older armors in between giving these guys sore hands.

The guy in the booth looked at them and the direction I came from. I already had drones deploying to sit in front of the cameras and show them nothing much happening. I gave a short little banshee’s screech, paralyzing the guards. The guards all fell over, the one in the booth failing to hit the alarm. Nanomachine tendrils reached out and jabbed through thin air and bulletproof glass alike to plant themselves in their chests. They were dead the moment their hearts were shredded, but a small group of the nanites were left behind to keep them standing and pretend to be alive, while the ones that pulled out fixed the holes they’d left in the first place. The drones followed after me and settled onto my shoulders.

Despite my giddiness at the thought of taking on more Nazis, I didn’t really intend to do a lot of killing at this stage. For this part of the plan, I was more into masking myself with holograms while I cut into the nuke.

Part of my job was to get transported with the nuke. Another part was to disable it. This one was thermonuclear, which means it involves fission and fusion. More powerful, but still ultimately depending on the fission bomb detonating in order to power the fusion reaction. The implosion-method fission device itself requires the explosives ringing it to work. Bing bang boom. Or no boom, in this case. A distinct lack of an earth-shattering kaboom. The nuke would be a dud. The really difficult part was hiding in the fuel tank. They didn’t keep it topped off, but I was glad my armor was sealed and capable of some self-sufficiency for awhile.

Decimal’s voice broke in as if he was talking to someone else. “Good, it’s about time we’re starting. This is going to take long enough as is.” Then he was gone again.

I played some pong with myself. A bit of Forager. A few hands of Poker Night 2. So it ended up taking almost an hour for them sirens to sound and another update from Decimal. “They open just fine, good. How do they close?”

I hadn’t been sure, see, if the sirens were over the opening or over something happening. Though I guess if the base’s alarms went off, I’d know I wasn’t there anymore by their absence. Which… had just happened. Things were quiet. I checked my global positioning system and it told me I wasn’t on the globe. I slipped out of the nuke and found myself in a large storage room full of so many damn weapons and armors and costumes and gadgets.

“Gecko, do you read?” Medusa asked. Unlike the people back down in the silo who were now pretending to be bewildered, the Exemplar base Medusa was at had the ability to make contact with outer space.

“I read. I am in a fucking treasure trove and I really want to go hog wild up here.”

Unfortunately, there weren’t any convenient windows. “Uh, scratch that Medusa. First, I have to find a door. If they have one.” I grabbed a nearby magneto-gun. Neat little tool someone came up with for bank robberies that never caught on because of its size and power requirements. And I guess the need to catch a chunk of steel on the magnet and hold it up, or turn off the magnet and duck the metal flying at you while holding a hefty device. “And if I can’t find one, I can damn sure make one. After a proper amount of time to arm up.”

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The Collectibles 4

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Here we have to take a short break from the ass-kickery to address the reindeer in the room. There was that big-ass orange moon in the sky on Saturday. The Massachusetts Exemplar base is getting full, from rescues being treated and debriefed over their experiences. That means a lot of medical and therapy staff, backed up by more field teams. And one of them is a face I didn’t expect to see in the field: Darklight.

The heroine walked in while I was making last-minute adjustments to the Reindeer costume and gear, back from the dead and still quite hateful of myself. I looked up at her and tried not to let out a sigh she could hear.

Darklight put her hands on her hips, her casual clothes much different from the black costume she’d been wearing when serving under an evil AI. Perhaps the difference was that the horrible burns she’d suffered from when I left her to fall out of orbit were all healed up. I checked and there were no nanomachines left in her system that could respond, just as I’d planned. “What kind of organization would stoop to using you?”

“Mine.” Medusa walked in and tossed a bag to Darklight, who caught it one-handed. “I can’t make you like Gecko, but keep the sniping to a minimum.”

I nodded to Medusa. “What are you doing here, anyway?”

Medusa smiled. “I’m here to personally oversee what’s going on and to handle the Benfrike-Fawk meeting.”

“Uh, I thought I was handling that,” I said.

Medusa shrugged. “He got back with us after your call and wants to meet up tonight.”

I groaned and rolled my eyes, looking up. “Ugh!”

Darklight smiled. “I want to hear this.”

I gestured to Darklight. “Is she muscle to help y’all instead?” I asked.

“Yep. They brought me on because you can’t get the job done,” Darklight was beaming, and not in the way where she hurls light that somehow has physical mass at people.

Medusa looked to Darklight, but winked at me. “You’re off official duty for the night. We’ll have Darklight and Reindeer on duty if needed.”

I nodded. I’m so glad Medusa respects me enough to not reveal the open secret of my weredeer alter ego to someone who hates me. She’ll probably find out before long, but I feel slightly better that she’ll find out when I’m not around. I started beeping though. “That’s my alarm. I need to go.” I brought the costume along with me, but left the box with the hammer in it, the Bell Ringer I think Reindeer settled on.

My first choice of room was a storage closet that ended up having a couple in it enjoying some personal time. In my annoyance, I very nearly stayed completely ruined both of their libidos, but instead I ran out and headed to the nearest restroom. I got set up in a stall, hung the costume on a hangar on the inside of the door, and locked up. Then, I zipped my mind right off to the Bell Ringer.

I rose out of the box, a mighty hammer of vengeance and piss-offery. The room I’d been in wasn’t empty, as there were still some people hanging out in the armory cleaning and readying stuff, but Medusa and Darklight had gone. Oh well. I flew the hammer toward the door. Rather than burst through the thing, I activated a small arm in the handle that pulled it open and shut behind me, announcing, “I am a hammer, not a boorish rude jerkass!”

I went around a corner and there was Medusa right outside the restroom. “Coming through, pretty lady!” I popped through the door, starting to announce, “Whosoever holds this hammer, if they be worthy, shall wield the power of- shit!”

Darklight stood in the restroom, the broken stall door in her hands, watching the tail end of a grotesque transformation that saw bones warp, muscles bulge, and antlers stretch out from my head. She got an eyeful of all of it and declared. “Oh shit, you’re a werewolf deer thing. A lycanthrope. Why aren’t you a guycanthrope?”

Medusa chose that moment to storm in. “She’s a weredeer, and the magic behind that knows something you don’t.”

“I’m also not the Gecko you know,” Reindeer said upon standing. She grabbed her costume where it had fallen on the floor in front of her.

“I hear that a lot. Now you just have fur and horns,” Darklight responded.

“She’s not just whistling Dixie,” I told her, flying over to get between Darklight and Reindeer. “I’m the actual Gecko.”

Darklight grabbed me. I tried pulling out using the antigravs, but she was strong. “You downloaded your brain into a hammer? So all I need to do is break you…”

“I’ve connected my consciousness to a computer system in this hammer I designed to assist Reindeer. Destroying this won’t hurt me.”

Reindeer grabbed me too and tugged me away from Darklight. “It’s a unique and nonsensical situation involving ancient magic and cutting edge technology. And I’d rather not work with you if it’s all the same.”

They give me a lot of leeway, but Reindeer was still part of the Fawk thing. We got ready and deployed, all with her being judgy. I don’t know how to describe it other than that. We kept our distance from each other. That was possible by the plan for this meeting allowing for reinforcements to be nearby but not in the room or even in the building. We had to be inconspicuous so as to not frighten our prey. The assumption made by the Exemplars and agreed with by me is that a transporter makes for an awesome escape plan.

Once the voice thing was handled, that all went off without a hitch. Just a simple deal for enslaved superhumans. Bankrupting the late Migton Benfrike, we managed to buy back a good half-dozen supers. Fawk even threw in a free suit of power armor from Dr. Doldrum, who had a gun that made people lethargic and sad. He always struck on Mondays for maximum effect, but he died a couple years back. It was ruled self-inflicted, but the video evidence showed him skydiving naked while holding Roman candles and accidentally hitting a goose. They built a statue to that cool son of a bitch.

When I brought that up to Reindeer, she had the same idea as me. “Shouldn’t that still be with his family? Check to see if they struck.”

I ran a bit of a search. There were no reported sightings of Dr. Doldrum since the funeral, which required a pair of skateboard ramps built on either side of the grave site for skateboarders to jump the casket through a ring of fire. It’s what he would have wanted, along with the free bar. Glorious goddamn bastard.

Ten minutes later, I had a report for Reindeer. “This is potentially pretty bad. She disappeared two weeks back, with her boyfriend filing a police report. I don’t know it’s connected, but I’m paranoid and think it’s connected. I’m running through the inventory we have access to for anything that could be her.”

“I have movement,” came a report from an Exemplar.

Someone whispered. “They know someone’s been targeting clients. Activate the shield.”

“Activating. Hope this works,” someone said.

I projected a hologram so that Reindeer could see the forcefield panel in the sky above us. She didn’t need a hologram to see when a pair of giant robots rose out of the water. There were large, rounded bodies on pairs of legs, with arms that consisted of rocket pods and chainguns. One had that racing checkers design running up the sides of the torso; the other was painted blue with shark teeth on the front of it.

“Reindeer, Darklight!” Medusa called.

“On it.” Darklight announced herself with a burst of the titular dark light she now wields smacking into one of the big robots. They both concentrated their firepower on Darklight. The bullets did nothing, but rockets knocked her out of the sky. Reindeer caught her in one hand, carrying me in the other. I created a forcefield to block another pair of rockets. Reindeer and Darklight used the cover to fly low and head to between the pair of robots.

Reindeer reached a hand out for Darklight, who took it. My alter ego spun Darklight around to get more momentum before throwing the heroine at the other. That gave the other one an opening to fire at Reindeer and I. I put up another forcefield while telling her, “I can create an opening for you.”

Reindeer’s antlers lit up a brilliant white. Beams of light came together from the tips of her tallest antlers to join into one beam that cut through the air. I gave it an opening to jab right into the center of our robot’s rocket pod and cook off the ammo. Reindeer then took me and started spinning me around in the hammer, over and over again.

“Catch!” Reindeer declared, throwing me. I was glad I didn’t have a stomach. Instead, I had antigravity devices to negate the pull of gravity and to propel me even more rapidly toward the robot. I smashed through the chassis and embedded deep inside it. I stopped in all the internals of the machine and unleashed the lasers and flamethrowers. The smoking robot crashed into the waves from whence it came, with me flying off back toward Reindeer. She was now assisting Darklight with the other robot, the two of them punching the dented machine between the two of them. Finally, Darklight went for where its leg attached to the body and wrenched it off. The robot toppled into the water, but hadn’t sunk yet when Darklight smashed in the chassis even further with the purloined leg. It threw up a shitload of water when it went.

“Darklight here. The big guns are down.” I heard.

“We have Fawk,” Medusa reported.

And I got a ding as the analysis finished. “And I think I have a match. Unidentified female power armor user. No video of usage, missing the date Dr. Doldrum’s daughter disappeared.”

“What’s that?” Medusa asked.

Reindeer spoke up. “They had Dr. Doldrum’s armor but his daughter isn’t a supervillain. They figured out who she was and kidnapped her anyway so they could sell it and her.

I added, “We have a lot of responders on the way. I don’t know if we’re going public with this yet…”

“Let’s clear out. I’ll arrange something for them. We have more than enough to go public. It’s time to move on to the next phase,” Medusa ordered. Privately, she connected to the private channel between Reindeer and me. “Now we have to figure out what Dick Avast is doing all this for. After that, I think we should send him on a one-way trip to Mars with no transporter.”

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Days of Future Tense 6

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My victory was short-lived, or so it felt. It’s kind of hard to understand time in this context. Things feel shorter and longer, and my HUD clock reads “Fuck it, IDK”. I was working in the lab late one night when my eyes beheld an eerie sight. It wasn’t a creature or an experiment I made, though I wanted to. Alexander claims he doesn’t need any subdermal protective mesh or musculo-skeletal material enhancement.

Nor was it the result of this interesting fungal bread the whole bunch seems to like. Apparently you’re not supposed to eat as much as I did this once.

No, this was my basement window warping and growing. I figured this was the house’s doing, so while it drew my attention and concern, I settled for throwing on my fully-repaired armor and calling out to those above, “Hey! We have a situation down here!” I didn’t hear a response, but I set up this nifty new weapon I’d built with some of the concepts and technology laying around here.

The window grew wider and stretched down to the floor. Then it shattered and through it jumped that oversized suit of power armor that looked like an iron maiden with arms and legs made of girders. I was actually standing with my back to the window when that happened, but I’d set up the big void gun. I didn’t have a good name yet, since this bunch already took “void cannon” for the smaller version. Void Launcher, maybe.

I thought I’d already killed this Iron Maiden thing before now, but no big deal. I smacked the Void Launcher’s firing button and dropped down under the barrel. It gathered energy and spewed a mobile extradimensional wormhole encased in a forcefield that shattered upon impact with the Iron Maiden. The wormhole was small and localized, in the sense that it tossed everything within a nine-foot sphere to the void between universes.

I have no idea how accurate the jargon and nomenclature is on the sciency-sounding shit I’m saying, but I know it fired a contained ball of “hole in universe”. That wasn’t enough to get rid of all of Iron Maiden, but the body that I get its name from is gone, leaving parts of the arms and legs behind.

I was ducking around it to try a second shot but something struck it right down the barrel, and then electricity jumped off it to shock me.

From behind the meat shield that had been the Iron Maiden came a veritable “Who’s Who?” of people I’ve pissed off before. Leading the charge was Lone Gunman, who was dead in my timeline. I had attempted to kill him several times when he was the sidekick of another super, Six Shooter. He then turned murderous vigilante when I succeeded in killing Shooter. That lasted until I killed him.

Next was a woman in flowing purple robes. The HUD had to recognize her: Miss Tycism, a magical heroine I offed years ago. Next was a woman in a shiny suit of pink and gold armor that looked a lot like an advanced version of Medusa’s suit when she was Venus. She was standing next to a hulking man with an artificial body that was as smooth in form and movement as if it was organic. His head was furry and resembled a sloth. That’d be Human Sloth, Venus’s super boyfriend I killed.

“Ok, I think we need to have a talk-” I started, but that’s when the lightning impaled me from through that portal. The last one to float on in was Captain Lightning, the magical superhero. Unlike the others, I never killed this one. The costume was the same as I was used to, but he was darker skinned; probably the apprentice and successor that Captain Lightning took on. Some future version pissed off at me about something I have yet to do, unlike all the dead people. Yes, even Venus. I killed a future version of her once.

What’s sad is that these are just some of vengeful dead they could have brought back from recent history to kick my ass.

I was weak after the lightning, so I activated a drone to the side, meant to attach to my power armor and supplement its strengths with a rotating sawblade and flamethrower. I flew it at the bunch instead. Neo Human Sloth grabbed it in his claws and tore it apart.

“Hold on, guys, don’t tell me you’re working for the guy who wants to wipe out most of existence and all superheroes too,” I said, hands up. With a moment to breath, I left an illusion in my place and crawled to the side. I came up to the side of Captain Lightning, trying to keep my suit where it could maintain the lie.

“We’re here to stop the person who beat and kidnapped Forcelight, and killed most of us,” Venus said.

All of you, dear, except Captain Lightning II. He’s the one who whirled around to face me and went to punch me. I raised my hands, activating the systems I’d replaced my energy sheaths with. After that failure with Darklight, I decided implement more of that Void Cannon technology. From my forearms down became engulfed in the pure lack of existence. And then the gauntlets crapped out and left me without all-powerful invincibility. Every version of Captain Lightning punches hard. And then mystical rings of runes wrapped around my arms and pulled them around my body. I let loose a paralyzing banshee’s shriek but more runes surrounded my face. Nobody fell, but Miss Tycism did a bunch of hand gestures that were probably responsible.

Venus raised an arm and used a flamethrower of her own, torching my nanomachines. Human Sloth grabbed me and lifted me up. And our buddy Lone Gunman stepped up to point a gun at my head from pretty close by.

“So… this it?” I asked the bunch.

Miss Tycism raised a hand, her voice echoing, “Sleep.”

I woke up in a clear cube in a room of white walls, floor, and ceiling. Just pure white. It was painful, and might have been where the glow of light came from. Venus stood on the other side of the clear enclosure. “Well, if this is meant to be an afterlife, I’d like to speak to a manager,” I said, standing up and looking around. My armor, which I’d been left in, was getting nothing from this whole room except acknowledgment that Venus was there. “So, when are you from? The big fight between me and the copy of my mind y’all downloaded?”

She nodded. “That’s the one. Forcelight came to me before I could dig you up. Offered to show me how much worse the world would be because of you.”

“You should really have a chat with the version of you from when I left,” I said.

Venus shook her head. “You’re here because most of us wanted to take you alive. It was important to Forcelight.”

“Yeah, she’s getting paid to help destroy the universe with the opportunity to kill me. You’re not in with a good bunch. But you and the others being tempted is my fault, too. What about my friends?”

She shrugged. “Lightning, Forcelight, and the others wrecked the place, but time pirates stopped by to loot the fight. Maybe they survived.” A column of light appeared around her. “Looks like I’m off. I hear Jaguar Slayer’s got a better world in mind for me and my friends.”

Venus disappeared and was replaced by Darklight. Formerly Forcelight, until she got burned in my murder of her. Jaguar Slayer nabbed her just before her death. “Ah, here to kill me!” I greeted the person I’d so recently beaten and captured.

“Here to gloat,” She pulled her mask off so I could see her laughing at me.

“So, how is this going to happen?” I asked.

“I’m going to drag it out and let you see as your whole life is destroyed. You’re at my mercy now, and that prison there is completely immune to anything you are capable of, and several things you aren’t,” she says. “You exist at my leisure here. I want to see you crying and begging.”

She paused as if to let me respond. “What about my life? Going to wipe out more of me?”

“You’ve got a kid, loved ones, friends. Even a reputation. I can take it all out. I’ll turn your family against you. You want to see your friends broken and betrayed. Or your reputation. Time travel to every moment that fueled your reputation and undercutting it. You’re going to be a joke. Psycho Gecko is going to be the joke it always should have been.”

“All of that to have me cry and beg?” I asked. “I can give you tears without you hurting other people and going down that path. If it’ll make you feel better and save others, yes, I’ll cry.”

My captor shook her head. “No. You don’t get to pretend to take the high ground after everything you did to me. You get to sit there and watch. Hunger and thirst won’t touch you. You won’t age. You won’t get sick. You’ll be there, my captive.”

I walked up to the wall of the cube and gave it a few hits while Darklight talked, finishing up with the whole of my strength. The Nasty Surprise did nothing. Same for the whip. Nothing I had on me did a thing to the walls, and I tried everything. Except the nanites. Those were no longer answering. Nothing was. I didn’t have a connection to anything else.

“You don’t have to be the villain,” I said.

“I’m the victim!” she yelled, stepping close to the wall between us.

“Yes, you are. It’s my fault. If I could go back and not do it, I would. But as far as you and I are concerned, this is what happened. All you can do is make it go differently for someone else before the person you’re helping wipes them all out anyway.”

Darklight and raised a hand and the middle finger on it before she was columned on out of there. Leaving me, now her prisoner, now beaten by my past victims, now to have my life unraveled.

I got a call. Unknown number. What the hell, even a robocall couldn’t make that day worse. I picked up and heard, “Hey Gecko!”

“Who’s this?” I asked.

“It’s Wattson, dear. Everyone, she’s alive!”

I heard cheering in the background. “Only because the person I thought I beat wants to burn my life to a ruin and hurt everyone positive in it.” I said. “How’d they get in the House anyway?”

“They had smuggled a device onboard that allowed them to find us even when not in a firm time,” Wattson explained.

“Shit, this was because I captured her.” There we go, the universe penalizing me for not murdering someone again.

“Er, no. According to Captain Codburn, the signal was present before that. It started when we brought you onboard.”

Oh. There we go, the universe penalizing me for not murdering someone again. “Shit.”

“It’s not entirely bad. We can find you and the base of their operations outside of time. You’ll be avenged upon them soon enough.”

“Good, I don’t like being the damsel in distress. But try not to kill any of these types if possible. I mean, protect yourselves, of course, but…”

“I understand, this is some deeply philosophical lesson you’ve learned while confronting the demons of your past. It happens a lot to time travelers,” Wattson answered.

“Thank you for understanding,” I told him.

“Hang tight. Wattson out!”

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