Tag Archives: Dr. Typhoon

Killing Time 9

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I’ve generally considered extensive plans to be overrated. I’ve barely been keen on simple plans, though they are better than most. Just like with a machine, the fewer moving parts on a plan, the less chance it gets screwed up. The inevitable struggle between order and chaos.

If I had to say one came first, I’d think it was order. A nice orderly pile of all the energy in the universe and then…bang. Since then, chaos has been the great equalizer in any plan. Every independent actor has fed it.

But enough philosophical talk. It was a good enough distraction, but you probably wanted to hear about what predicament I’m in now, which conveniently undermines my point.

It started much the way my puberty began…surrounded by deformed beings while I planned how to get into a place. The place in question was the Foley building. At 725 feet tall, it wasn’t the tallest building in the city. I wouldn’t be climbing it anytime soon, though. Thanks to my own high profile crimes, the only service I knew that offered discreet flights for secretive clientele with lots of money was out of business. I was about as grounded as the mercenary pilots who had helped me.

That meant I needed to improvise a bit, which I’m none too shabby at. I ran into trouble getting the cooperation of my allies around my car. The Rejects, as a semi-official group, were being rather stubborn in their regard for conventional views on physics.

“You’re going to get us all killed.” Zane said as he pounded his fist on the hood of my car.

“Hey, watch it! I’ve got some explosives in there that are tempermental,” I berated the man with the giant version microencephaly.

“You almost killed us already, didn’t you?” Mika asked. She rubbed the bone spikes composing the lower half of her arms together. Her nervous tic irritated the rest of the group, I could tell. It sounded like bone rubbing over bone. But her flesh ended at her elbows and bone alone stuck out in conical points. There just wasn’t much she could do with that, nor could she help the similar spikes under her knees. She kept her balance with the last of her mutations, a pair of skin-colored tentacles that dangled out of her back.

I had been learning their names. Mika, Zane, Larry, Roberta, Steve, and…I glanced at the last of the Rejects, whose group identity warranted treating that as a proper noun now. The last member of the group had been nicknamed Tom by all the others in the group. In contrast to Zane, his head was perfectly normal in size. Yep, there was nothing wrong with it in circumference and so on.

It was just shriveled looking and a dark grey color, with deep, black pits where the eyes and mouth would normally be. We sometimes noticed something moving around inside the holes. He never spoke, but he chose to stick with us.

Tom had no particular objection to me getting him killed. Good man thing, that Tom. He was dependable and loyal. Possibly brainless, but dependable and loyal.

“It’s a very simple plan. Nobody needs to die, except for all the people we kill. They definitely need to die. Think of it this way, every person you scare off is someone I don’t have to mutilate. Y’all can spread out through the downstairs, cause some panic, and save lots of lives. Just leave this Prime guy to me.”

They bought that long enough for us to all get loaded up in the ice cream truck and ready to go. Moai and I sat in front, with the Rejects in back. Yeah, we saved the truck.

From the back, Larry cleared his throat and spoke up. “Psycho Man, why are we doing this in the truck?”

“Because it’s expendable.”

“Why are we riding in something expendable?”

I threw up my hands. “Look, there’s no reason to be worried. This is top of the line rocket technology like what the North Koreans use. You know, they have a very high survivability rate, or so they say through their state-controlled news service. If it’s good enough for their missile program, it’s good enough for my ice cream truck program.”

“That’s not what I asked, but I suddenly feel worse.”

I rolled my eyes inside my helmet. “Oh, you big baby. Just buckle up and grab a puke sack. It’ll all be over soon.”

I heard his belt click as he whined one last time, “That’s what I’m afraid of.”

With that, I gunned the truck and flipped a switch to activate the jury-rigged rockets attached to the sides of it. They added to our acceleration but would never be enough to achieve liftoff. That’s why we were driving into a rubber band. Yep, a bigass rubber band stretched between two taller buildings. It caught us perfectly as we drove into it on top of a parking garage.

I adjusted the rear view on the driver’s side to catch a glimpse of the Foley building. We pushed against the taut rubber. As we drove off the garage, we were embedded in the band enough that it didn’t let us just fall. When I thought we had about the right angle, I killed the rockets.

The rubber band flung us at the building, leaving me feeling like my stomach had turned into a screaming killer frog. My frog stomach got worse as we flipped end over end, but I activated the rockets long enough to slow our rolling. That was hard with me smacking into the windshield like I did. Lucky Larry and his damn seatbelt!

Thinking of Larry reminded me of what he called me, Psycho Man. That put a little song into my head. “Psycho man, psycho man, does whatever a psycho can. Kills a group of any size, he’s got cybernetic eyes. Look out! Here comes the Psycho man.”

Still, I got a front row seat for my moment of triumph, or so I thought. Instead, I saw a figure step out onto the balcony facing us. The person raised a hand, and suddenly we shifted slightly downward. There was no loss of inertia, no glancing blow on a shield or anything. We were moving in one direction, and then it changed suddenly with no loss of speed.

“Cushion with the soft serve!” I called out to everyone. That too was part of the plan, back when it seemed more unpredictable. I didn’t get a chance to see how well they followed it because my head was spinning along with the truck.

We hit just below where we meant to, the truck cracking the glass windows and blasting a crater into the marble floor. I was first slammed back into my seat, then through the windshield. Some of my favorite body parts made wet thudding sounds as I flew end over end along the floor through some sort of aquarium and then into a water bed, which halted my movement but ruined the bed.

I curled up in a ball there for a good minute, nanites flooding into me from the busted quilted layers in my armor. I would have said the pain was excruciating, if I could have made that out. Really, it was like everything hurt so much at once that I couldn’t tell any one individual hurt nerve ending from any other.

Then I heard a voice call out, “You couldn’t direct him down to the street, Pivot? Really, you dropped him into my living space?”

I crawled out of the busted bed frame amongst leaking water tubes. When I felt like enough of my leg bones were solid again, I stood up and pointed a finger in the direction I hoped that voice had come from. “Listen here, Prime! It is I, the Great and Devious Psycho Gecko, here to, to, to, to…” I got caught on that word for no particular reason that I can remember. Then, something stoney bonked me on the head and I realized I had more to say “…to put you on ice cream!”

I turned and high fived my rocky helper, who turned out to be Moai. He just stood there, facing off to the side. My addled brain figured out I should check that direction, but didn’t yet remember the 360 degree view on my helmet.

Pivot stood there, the Annihilation Eight stepping up to form a line in front of her from where they’d been scattered about the place. All eight. Wait, eight?

Yep. Gorilla Badass, Man-Opener, Motley Sue, Terrorjaw, the polka-dotted guy, and Rumble were there. So was a mass of shiny, shifting pieces of something metallic mixed with sand. Quick Sand, or more like Cyber Sand. And Dr. Typhoon, who wore some sort of new collar and helmet within that swirling localized tornado he had created around himself.

That shit just wasn’t right. I killed those guys. They were supposed to stay dead.

“Moai,” I whispered loud enough for everyone to hear, “bring me my red underwear.”

He didn’t respond to the bit of horribly-timed humor. Instead he looked to the second story landing of the penthouse we penetrated. There stood two familiar facies in suits. I recognized Pivot, who had ruined our landing with one wave of her hand.

I knew the other, a young man, as well. He had put on some muscle and height since the first time we crossed paths. Back then, he had been a sidekick who followed me to my hideout and was tortured hysterically for his trouble. I knocked him repeatedly with a frozen bratwurst. Holdout, who had taken the name Lone Gunman after I killed his mentor. I should have used a knockwurst.

“Going to try and run away again, Great and Devious one?” asked Pivot with a smug smirk as she leaned over the railing on the second story. “You didn’t think the heroes were the only ones who could reverse engineer the life-support systems of your armors or that handy surgical nanotech, did you?”

“Is there anybody else who wants to come back from the dead around here?” I asked, looking about. “My day would just about be complete now if Uncle Ben and the Wayne parents showed up looking to kick my ass too. Anybody?”

Shifting metal behind me provided a disappointing answer. Looking back through my helmet’s rear cameras, I saw the Rejects climb free of the totaled ice cream truck. They were each covered in cuts, bruises, and various flavors of ice cream, but they all looked like they would live. Even Larry, who stopped to throw up all over himself.

As I said, they were not a sight for sore eyes. On one side, you had a superhero and nine villains. On the other you had six untrained mutants with powers, my minion Moai, and me.

I didn’t know we were busting into this place while Prime, aka Lone Gunman, had the whole frickin’ team of Pivot’s here. Like I said before, I didn’t want these Rejects to die. I didn’t like the idea of anybody dying for me. I was more sure of that as the group stepped up behind me. They readied sharpened claws. Their powers made the air glow. I joined them, gathering energy in the sheaths surrounding my gloves.

With the tension so thick, the fight would start at any moment in a deadly dance of chaos and blood. I turned to Moai while I had a moment. “Well, Moai, you better promise me that no matter what, you’ll get these guys out of here alive.”

He turned his face toward me, just staring.

“Come on, man. If we’re separated, and if the odds look like they’re against me, you get these guys out, ok?”

Moai nodded reluctantly.

“Good,” I said, then I slammed both my fists into the ground just behind me. With a series of loud cracks, the otherwise ineffectual double punch unleashed too much energy into the marble for the floors to handle. A very confused mob of mutants fell through to the next floor. According to the blueprints I stole, that would put them in the executive offices. They could evacuate in comfort with the VIPs and VPs.

I looked to Moai, who stood dumbfounded beside me. Then I gestured toward the hole. “Well?”

With a slump of his stone shoulders, Moai jumped through after the Rejects.

Even before Pivot shouted “Get him!” Man-Opener rushed at me, with Dr. Typhoon and Quick Sand moving through the air to flank me.

“You dare come at me, bros?! I am the Great and Devious One!” I yelled, disappearing and making three holographic copies of myself. The holograms split up. Quick Sand cut through the one that headed for him and began to spread out as much as he could to find the real me.

Lightning crackled in Dr. Typhoon’s funnel before he struck out with it. It curved away from his ideal path toward my hologram and instead arced through Man-Opener’s armor. The other man’s armor shut down momentarily due to the electromagnetic pulse. I hopped up its knee and then to its shoulder, then leapt high into the air over Dr. Typhoon.

A sonic blast knocked me into the ceiling and against the glass window, but not before I dropped a headless rubber chicken grenade down the eye of Dr. Typhoon’s personal storm. The explosion flung him onto a leather loveseat. I couldn’t see if any bloody bits were sticking out because I had a rock villain to deal with.

Motley Sue rocked a rapid fire solo, shattering the windows behind me and slowly pushing me towards the edge. I gave my gloves a reduced charge and thrust my hand into the floor. It broke part of the way through and gave me a grip. Another punch with the other hand gave me another. I pulled myself along the floor.

Gorilla Badass threw himself in front of Motley Sue’s hair amps and let himself be hurled toward me by the same force pushing me back. I was still invisible, but that hardly mattered with the holes I was leaving behind.

Badass flew at me and instead of making another handhold, I threw my hand into his chest. Bones gave beneath my fist. I brought my helmet close enough to his ugly mug for him to hear me over the notes that pushed against us both. “I am the Prince of Pain.” I tossed him away.

Before I could make any more forward progress, Badass’s chain belt wrapped around my wrist and I was hauled back. I saw the gorilla clinging to the edge of the building. I held on tight as gravity took me down, figuring I could break through lower on the building and make my own escape. As I was swung against the glass, however, a yellow portal appeared and I was pulled through it by the man in the purple tights with the yellow polka dots. Portalmeister.

I was back in the penthouse, but when I threw a punch, another portal appeared in front of my hand and sent it somewhere. It was still attached, but just not occupying the space at the end of my arm. Portalmeister grinned under his headset gadgetry. “You’re the one who denied me a chance to prove my superiority.” He fell back, taking me with him through another portal.

We ended up somewhere dark and huge. I brought my knee up into Portalmeister’s gut. “I don’t know what rivalry you’re even talking about, but I’ll deny you a lot more in a second, for I am the Executioner’s Blade.”

I went to throttle the other man, but my hands warped somewhere else again, followed by the rest of me. This time, the area appeared like a kaleidoscope of bright colors. Reds, yellows, greens, purples. Whatever strange excuse for light suffused the place, it left me visible. I went ahead and shut off my stealth in that case.

Portalmeister followed me into this strange dimension that I hurtled through, falling with no bottom in sight. Portal after portal appeared beside me as he flew out of one and into another to keep me from catching him. “Sixgun was mine to kill! I was going to make him kill a civilian. I was going to make him shoot himself!” He babbled on about Lone Gunman’s mentor. Gunman, back when he went by Holdout, served as a sidekick to a Lone Ranger knockoff named Sixgun.

“So you thought you’d work for his fucking sidekick to get back at me?” I asked, throwing a kick at him as he zipped out of a portal.

The question hit him with more force than the kick had. “What?”

I spun around and caught him by the collar so I could address him face to face. “Lone Gunman is Holdout! You’re being ordered around by his old teenage sidekick with the short shorts. Geez, were you somehow deaf for the big press conference he held?” I projected images of Holdout and Lone Gunman overlaid on one another.

Portalmeister finally found his ability to speak again. “I was in prison when it happened…I didn’t know. The Lone Gunman hid this information from me…” He growled. Hey, if I could be cheesy by calling myself the Prince of Pain, Portalmeister was allowed to growl.

“Drop me off back there,” I proposed. “In all the chaos, I’m sure you’ll get a clear shot at him. Drag him into your freaky kaleidoscope chunks-blowing land here.”

Portalmeister summoned another yellow portal and pushed my grip loose to fly through it. I was lost in that shifting landless dimension for a few seconds until he swooped in from above me and hurled me into another of his portals. Then, I popped back to reality on the floor of the penthouse. I slid along the marble and knocked over a lamp.

Rumble jumped at me, trying to squash me like a bug. In his case, he could squash a Volkswagen Beetle without much effort. The downside was that I rolled forward. His foot broke through the marble and I launched myself into what would normally be a knockout blow. My fist caused a bit of testicular torture to the man, and then I grabbed them to swing between his legs and onto his back.

I put my arms around Rumble’s head and locked in a sleeper hold, putting pressure on the massive man’s massive arteries. “I am your pointless death,” I announced to him.

Rumble tried to grab at me, but his boxing gloves made that difficult. He had trouble gripping me with them on. He threw punches, but I slid from side to side and he beat himself instead.

I was pulled off when Terrorjaw hurtled Rumble, clamped his mouth down over my head, and yanked me off. It was less fun than being yanked off normally sounds. I could see down his gullet all the way to his stomach. I brought my left hand up and activated my Nasty Surprise. The miniature sawblade extended out from under my left wrist and chewed through Terrorjaw’s belly tissue. Terrorjaw’s resistance soon ended entirely. I plucked him off me and threw him into Rumble’s face. “I will bring you to your afterlife.”

I dodged another blow from Rumble that sent him down into the next floor and turned to a reactivated Man-Opener who charged with his blades brought to bear. I pulled out my laser potato peeler and aimed for the exposed helmet of the pilot. The peeler sparked and refused to fire.

Fucking ice cream truck crash.

He swung at me in a ponderous arc, but I was able to jump forward. I wrapped my arms and legs around the massive arm of the machine, too far along for his blade. He brought the other one up to chew me off with its sharp teeth, but I let go with my arms and hung upside down with my legs. The saw on the arm I held onto stopped as the other arm’s blade cut into the armor and wiring underneath.

I saw my opportunity. Man-Opener looked up at me. I chuckled as I looked down at him, then jumped high into the air, pulling energy from the core in my chest into the sheath around my fist. I would bring it down and crack the skull of my enemy. I yelled for all to hear, “I am Psychopomp Gecko!”

High in the air, I saw Portalmeister sneaking up on Lone Gunman. The Gunman whirled and pulled a scoped revolver, executing his mentor’s old rival with a single shot to the head that blew his headset to pieces. All of the yellow dots on the deceased villain’s costume disappeared as he dropped.

While I was focused on them, I wasn’t paying as much attention to Pivot. Right as the gun fired, she redirected my motion with a wave of her hand and conked me against the ceiling. Then the wall, the elevator door, through a hundred and twenty inch television, against the floor, through another wall into the kitchen, up into a light fixture, through the kitchen sink, into the bathroom, through the toilet, and then face down into the floor right in front of Man-Opener.

Before I could get to my feet or roll out of the way, a shot rang out. The Gunman had faced me before. He knew what it took to pierce my armor. I roared with pain as my kneecap burst apart.

Nearby, I heard Motley Sue playing. The notes raced higher and higher, as if trying to run up a sharp cliff. Then they sank downward, bringing with them a sharp stab that cracked the armor on my lower back and embedded some of the shards into my skin.

At least it took my mind off the knee pain.

Gorilla Badass flipped through the air and landed on my left arm before I could make further use of my Nasty Surprise. Quick Sand piled himself onto my right and pressed down hard enough to keep that one down.

“Cut him loose,” ordered Pivot.

“But only loose from his armor,” added Lone Gunman.

Pivot turned toward him, furious. “This again. You gave me this job and you’ve been countermanding my orders every step of the way. At New Orleans over and over again and at Three Mile Island. Now here. If you want him dead, why not kill him now? Why all the games?”

Another shot rang out and Pivot dropped as well from a hole to her head. “Thank you, Pivot, that will be all.” Gunman twirled his gun and then blew on the barrel. With a grin, he holstered the gun, then leaned on what was left of a railing. “You heard me, just his armor. He has a power source hidden in him. Pivot’s orders would have killed us all if you had cut into it.”

Man-Opener nodded and turned his remaining arm to the delicate task of slicing through my armor. Gorilla Badass pulled it loose from me, leaving my skin covered in blood as the connective nerves were torn loose prematurely. Once, on my chest, Man-Opener cut too close and opened me up about a half inch deep.

Soon I was dropped like a sack of potatoes. A naked sack of potatoes covered in blood, with more pouring out a chest wound.

“Gorilla Badass, would you be so kind as to hogtie him? We wouldn’t want him escaping like his friends, now would we?”

I tried to struggle, only to find my mouth filled with sand and what looked like small robots. Not nanites, but sand-sized mini machines. Quick Sand really was Cyber Sand, it seemed.

To add insult to injury, a security team arrived through the elevator. They didn’t even need to stay on alert around me. Hell, one squeeze of the trigger by an excited idiot and I could have died thanks to them.

Naked and bound before a hero who had every reason to want me dead, I didn’t have very high hopes for the situation. Don’t get me wrong, I was ready to try anything. That wasn’t what Lone Gunman had in mind, though. He walked calmly down the stairs and over to me, then knelt. He looked pristine in that damn business suit, with an obnoxiously charming smile to boot.

“I wanted you dead. It was the most pragmatic thing to do, but now I am so glad you could be taken alive. My new people here at Hephaestus can take apart that dangerous power source of yours. They can carve out those cybernetics, like those eyes there, and learn how to build them. Improve on them. Would you like to know we can make you obsolete? Do you want to hear how your dissection will let me build the world I want? That’ll have to wait. I have something more important in the works for you before I grant you the mercy of death.”

He patted me on the head, then stood and buttoned his suit jacket. His security detail parted to allow him access to the elevator. He got in, turned around, and smiled at me. “You once introduced me to your form of torture. I think I’ll show you mine. It is new and improved too. Boys, let’s find the ‘Prince of Pain’ a room of his own, with thick chains to keep his hands from roaming.”

I suppressed a groan. “Hey, you can’t call me the Prince of Pain. That phrase is only allowed if it makes me sound badass. Besides, torture? Oooh, scary. You think there’s a kind of pain I’m not familiar with? Here, have your guys check up my ass for any damns I may have smuggled in. Reach way down in there and see if I have one to give. Don’t worry. My ass won’t bite.”

Lone Gunman shrugged and spoke softly, but got his point across nonetheless. “I’ll go see if our surprise guest is ready for the big reunion.”

Leah.

With the battle over and the adrenaline subsiding, pain that my body was able to ignore was visiting with the latest bunch of it settling all throughout my system. It was hard to force myself to talk loud enough like that, but I managed a glare at him as I said, “You know, Holdout, you used to be a little shithead, but you’ve grown up to be a real bastard.”

“I had a good teacher,” he said as the elevator door closed.

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The Jersey Score 7

The day of the attack, I looked at my costumes, glancing between the Missile Patriot tights and my power armor. Max, as in Mix N’Max, walked up behind me. He patted me on the shoulder and asked, “What are you going to wear? That could have a pretty big impact on things. You can’t use illusions outside your armor.”

“It’s all an illusion. That’s the basic trick of every illusion, especially the more mundane kinds. The key is to make someone trust in a false premise. I could do that with the Patriot suit too.”

“Well, whatever you decide, I hope you choose soon. It’s real hard to squeeze by you here while you’re standing around in the nude.”

He had a point. I was in the trailer and Holly couldn’t get to Sam or the door because I was blocking the little bit of available walking room.

I made my choice.

It was the day after I took down Terrorjaw. I decided that anymore delays would be dangerous. I didn’t know who all had signed on to take me out, but I knew Outlaw X had taken to calling the group the Annihilation Eight. Unfortunately, my old line about knowing how many they were going to use didn’t apply here, because they weren’t all likely to be here so soon.

The more time I took, the greater the chance they’d all be after my ass, minus Terrorjaw. If this group had been assembled due to some sort of willing teamwork or friendship, I could have used him as my toothy canary in the coal mine. They’d have broken him out. However, they were in it for money. As in, they didn’t care if a competitor for my head was in jail. So I didn’t know how many of them were here in all the time I took, though at least they lost one. I also knew that I had a way to cause infighting.

I had other assets as well. My car, Black Sunshine, was useful when I had Holly and Sam in it flipping out. Mix N’Max. Max Muscles and Bulletproof Brian, aka Generation Flex. Gastrolord. Me. That was a bit closer to even, though Max and Brian weren’t exactly in the know about being on my side or working with villains inadvertently.

To say this wasn’t a well-organized attack was not only an understatement, but the point. For years, people have said that no plan survives contact with the enemy. I am that enemy.

Noon. Broad daylight. That was when the Super Snail charged the Hephaestus compound on my orders. It didn’t go in unsupported. It churned its way up the road toward the gate with Black Sunshine trailing behind it. Finally, Gastrolord attacked. You wouldn’t expect the guy who picked a gastropod gimmick would be impatient. Maybe he was overly eager to test out the new guns.

The air crackled with energy like lonely man making himself a bubble wrap condom. When it cracked against the shield, the thunder rolled. The shield appeared briefly as the electrical blast overwhelmed it, the white of the electricity seeming to fill in a bubble around the compound. Where it got past, it struck a light pole. The light blew up, but the electricity was diverted to the ground.

I think he should have listened to my last-minute idea on how to shore up his defenses on the Super Snail, but he didn’t see the strategic value in strapping people to the front and sides of the giant mecha snail. Some people don’t have an eye for strategy, I guess. Sure, Hephaestus haven’t seemed all that morally upstanding beforehand, but everybody has a breaking point. Everyone except your friendly, neighborhood Psycho Gecko, of course.

Plus, it’d make any potential allies of Hephaestus a bit squeamish if they’re spotted on the local news shooting up civilians. Even the police might look past their own gooey filling and discover a nougat-y core of morality.

Gastrolord refused, though, which left me to do everything myself.

While Gastrolord, Max, Sam, and Holly made their way up the road, I had wheeled a few barrels into a few back alleys nearby, my coat covering up my costume. While the slight brigade charged, I fiddled with the detonator. And, when the snail passed through the entrance despite the shield trying to resist the upper parts, I pressed the button.

The effects were not as drastic as they could have been had I spent more time preparing for this. Much like the people strapping idea, this one came to me later than I’d have liked. Why be selfish with my attack? I wanted to share it with the whole neighborhood! You know, really get lots of people involved. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any of that stuff I used back in Memphis, the BZ, laying around. No, this was all about blowing shit up, drawing attention, and possibly making sure that nearby tunnel entrances were hit in the crossfire. I was sure they had at least one tunnel.

That’s the kinda thinking I needed: putting the fun in murder. Er, the fun in kill. The fun in devastation? Oooh, that was close. The fun in fundamental threat to human life. Yeah, that got it. Ignore the linguists reading this disapprovingly over your shoulder. Why the fuck are you reading this in front of linguists?!

After all, linguists are only good when you use their noodle. Linguini, it’s called. I know, that cannibalism was a bit of a stretch, just like long pork.

Concluding our commercial interruption, we were back at the attack. A giant mechanized snail tank broke through the forcefield of Hephaestus and was shooting electro-beams from its stalks at anything that moved, aside from my car. I was on the outside, blowing up a buildings in a trench coat that hid my costume.

Gastrolord knocked on the door to the warehouse very gently. With lightning. While he did that, the laser carved out a human-sized hole in the loading bay’s garage doors.

“Part One of Operation Jehovah’s Witness is good. The door is open,” Sam relayed to me over the comms.

“Good,” I replied, “Let’s get in there and share the good news. Somebody’s about to die for my sins. And somebody save Dr. Typhoon for me.”

The mouth of the Super Snail opened and Gastrolord stepped out, aiming his goo gauntlets around at empty air. Max had his syringe gun in hand, and Sam actually joined him with her sprayer gun that looked like something off a hose.

I got a call from Max Muscles and Bulletproof Brian. “Yo, dudes, ‘sup?” I asked.

“Shit is going down. Repeat, it’s hitting the fan.”

“Max, I thought fans were up in the air, and waving like they just don’t care?”

“Something big is happening.”

“I’m aware of that, good super citizen. I’m over here near our Hephaestus friends. Gastrolord just made his move, and he’s got friends. You had better get over here. I don’t think the regular guards are going to do the trick.”

That part was honest, at least. There weren’t many guards outside at all. I zoomed in with my eyes to watch what happened. Even the mundane resistance didn’t last long once Gastrolord gave them the goo. His gunk stuck to the two guards who tried to nab him, and they stuck to one another in turn. Why did I think it made them slip? Except then he doused them with gunk from just his left gauntlet. That made another pair of guards slip all over the ground and fall. He had slime for every occasion!

My villainous allies advanced cautiously. Sam and Max took up positions by one of the garage door holes. Max splashed something on himself, then offered a little spray bottle to Sam. Sam shook her head no. A lightning bolt struck by the hole from the inside, knocking Max down. Sam hadn’t been pressed against it, but she took a moment to cross herself as she checked on Max. He gave her a thumbs-up, then accepted her help getting to his feet.

Meanwhile, Gastrolord charged in the doorway. I kinda wondered if they even needed me. I couldn’t make things worse, that’s for sure. I found a secluded alleyway, threw off my coat, finished pulling my costume on, then jumped out, arms akimbo and chest up thrust toward the sky. Nearby a woman cried out and put her hands over her young daughters’ eyes. I looked down. Forgot the pants.

I jumped back into the alley, then out once more when I was in my full regalia.

The Missile Patriot was ready to have a blast. I launched into the sky and maneuvered for the guard gate. It was from there that I saw Max take another blast of lightning that sent him flying off the docking bay. Sam jumped down and ducked so she was out of sight from anyone on it. The garage door strained outward, then flew off as the spinning Dr. Typhoon floated through it in a vortex arcing with electricity. Out of the regular doorway came Gastrolord again, being forced back by something. Wind maybe? He covered his face with his hands as he stumbled back. A sort of weird fog came out as well. Another super was around.

As I flew in through the gate, I dipped down and a section of the broken guard gate arm. I tried to ease my landing on my feet, but stumbled. When I had a moment to regain my footing, I threw the gate piece like a javelin at Typhoon. The cyclone deflected it and the piece popped Gastrolord in the head. Gastrolord grabbed his head and yelled “Why?”

There was a weird sound, like if you imagined a snake chuckling. That fog thing came together into a vaguely humanoid shape that looked like sand suspended in the air. A quick search via the eye HUD turned up a villain named Quick Sand. Not much known about him…her…it. It was sand, though a mouth formed out of the head region in a big smile. I think it was laughing.

I wanted to join in, but I was in the bright and shiny costume now. I had to act like a hero. Ugh.

“Give yourselves up, foul fiends, and save yourselves some pain.”

Everybody laughed at that one, including Gastrolord.

“Let’s rocket,” I said. I flew at Dr. Typhoon and he pulled his arms together. As soon as I saw them move, I went low. I dodged lightning more thanks to his reflexes than any super speed. His cyclone churned up the air even stronger than before and I got sucked up into it, but I got sucked in the upward direction. I know what you’re thinking. Innuendo. Well I stuck my fist in Typhoon’s endo.

I spun around with him in the opposite direction he did, electricity crackling around us both. He wasn’t much used to hand-to-hand, though. He was the type to keep people at a distance but he couldn’t do that. That cyclone could try and toss me out all he wanted, but I had rockets pushing me right back in and throwing my fist into his stomach with a very satisfying feeling. He lifted us higher, then lower, trying to shake me that way, but that just threw off a punch. I tossed one across his face and broke his nose just for that.

The rest of the battle was hard to make out for obvious reasons. I caught glimpses. At one point, Max was sinking into a puddle of quicksand. Then Max Muscles was trying to hit on Sam. Then Holly was shooting Max with the car’s Gatling. Brian got stuck to the ground by Gastrolord. It was all a whir and it was beginning to make me nauseous.

I grabbed Dr. Typhoon by the face and blew chunks. Corn didn’t go well with his eyes. I laughed as I saw that, but then he puked on me right back. In the end, he dropped the vortex entirely and I flew right past him. When I turned to catch him again, he was heaving in the middle of a new cyclone.

I was running low on fuel and it occurred to me that my heroic costume didn’t have much in the way of weaponry. I cut the rockets and acted surprised. I screamed as I fell and tried to flap my wings. It was hard to concentrate on falling, too. If I forgot for a moment, I might have ended up flying instead, and that would have ruined everything. Instead, I angled for the Super Snail. I knew this was about to hurt, but not any worse than a lightning strike. I cut the rockets on just a little, as if I slowed my speed only with a last gasp. I still landed hard and bounced off the shiny metal between the stalks. It felt like my ass had tried to devour a rhino from the way my tailbone and other lower spinal bones felt. I think something was jiggling freely inside me. Probably my nuts from the feel of things.

As I knelt there, I checked on the others. Gone except for Holly, who was facing away from my fight along with the car, and Quick Sand, who was trapped in a giant pile of sticky slime. From the sound of things, the rest of the fighting had moved inside. Even with the hole in the wall that looked like Brian’s usual entrance, I couldn’t see anything.

But then, there was only so much I paid attention to that. Dr. Typhoon descended near enough to get a good shot at me. He didn’t drop below the level of the stalks, though. Didn’t want to get too close, I suppose. His loss.

I accessed the car with Holly in there and changed the radio. I had an idea how to tease Dr. Typhoon. Hulk Hogan’s old song, Real American.

“I am a real American, fight for the rights of every man. I am a real American. Fight for what’s right. Fight for your life!”

Dr. Typhoon scoffed. “Is that the song they’re going to play at your funeral, you hokey piece of crap?”

It took Holly a moment to get the hint, but then I saw her looking back at us.

“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants, Dr. Typhoon.”

“I didn’t think they made heroes as cliché as you anymore. Big talk for someone on his knees.”

I forced myself to stand and look up at him defiantly. I wished I had a bald eagle on my shoulder. “Oh, I can stand alright. So long as I have Uncle Sam watching my back, I can stand up to any evildoer.”

Typhoon choked down a laugh and threw a bolt of lightning at me. Well, he threw it in my direction. It split instead and went for the stalks. The Tesla-based equipment there did the rest and protected me from everything but a little static electricity.

“The fuck?!” Typhoon yelled, then tried again. Once again, I was safe between the stalks.

Behind him came a whistle. When Dr. Typhoon turned, he found Holly and Black Sunshine turned around, facing him, with an array of weapons protruding from the car. He didn’t get to react before she flipped a lot of switches. Bullets roared, lasers seared, a duck quacked, rockets burst, and a hunk of smoking meat fell down in front of the Super Snail. I gave Holly a thumbs-up and slid down the side of the gimmick vehicle. I leaned in over the crispy remnants of Dr. Typhoon and said, “You’re grounded.”

I’m glad she figured that out and felt like helping me. I could have done all that on my own, but it meant something more for her to turn and pull my ass out of the fire. For one thing, it made her feel a bit closer to me emotionally and made her think I wasn’t quite such a bad guy when I acted all thankful and gave her a hug. She pushed me off, though. I couldn’t tell if it was her natural disgust for me or all the barf, but it was the thought that counted. I think.

In the end, the villains, or at least our group, won. Gastrolord got out of there with some weapons schematics and a bunch of launcher-fired sticky grenades. Quick Sand was relaxing in that gunk rather than chasing me down. Hephaestus didn’t lose many personnel this time, having decided they were mostly useless for fighting us. Bulletproof Brian and Max Muscles didn’t save the day. In fact, Brian was found running through the city naked save for his mask, under some odd impression that pants and shirts wanted to control humanity by moving people’s limbs. Sam got a good slap on Max Muscles before Mix N’Max shrunk the other Max’s head down to about one third its regular size. And, last but not least, the Great and Devious Psycho Gecko got away with manifest records.

It was later that night, while Mix N’Max was busy dancing around a barrel fire with the man in the underwear and the trapper hat who lived next door and the women munched on s’mores, that I dragged myself out of a regenerative little nap and inserted a certain pointy body part into the servers we stole to check what they had to say about my good buddy Carl.

“Subject status: Liquidated.”

And so I threw open the door, naked but for a server tower hanging off my dick, yelling at the sky with arms outstretched, “Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck!”

And I think that server gave me a virus.

 

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The Jersey Score 4

It’s been a few long, long days. I’ve had days like this before.

I haven’t been abandoned, but I have been isolated. Not usually a problem. See, Max stuck around with Sam and Holly, who were staying armed. By now, it should be obvious that wouldn’t do too much to deter me, but I gave them space and stayed out of my armor for that. Holly’s little peashooter would have been hard pressed to win a shootout with a pigeon, but Sam’s new gun looked like something Max threw together using a hose sprayer. Whether it emitted liquids or gasses, there was a whole range of unfortunate probable effects they could have caused me.

Hopefully I wouldn’t let two macho men get between myself and the women again. With Operation: Anal Assault successful, it was only a matter of time before Hephaestus realized it was the water making them sick. By my reckoning, the worst thing they could do to frustrate me would probably be to pack up the whole operation and leave. They had the money and the experience hushing up.

That was why I was rushing through my preparations as much as I could. There’s a limit to the amount of hurrying you can do when handling explosives, after all. I needed to restock my chickens and throwing knives. I did so after secluding myself in the main bed area, which limited my space even more. Making matters worse, but informative, were the others. Max had Sam put on Outlaw X.

Music is fine and all, but the vast majority of it has always been crap. Then, people pick the diamonds from the dung heaps to cherish as time goes on. They just haven’t separated the good stuff, or even the annoying stuff that’s still fun, from the current crap. Music is the sound of emotion, people, and I do so love people’s emotional noises. Because some men aren’t looking for money. Some men just want to watch the world burp.

Anyway, the horrible pop and rap requested wasn’t quite so bad. I especially disliked them butchering rock with some particularly idiotic recent selections. But enough filler about songs so generic I can’t even remember their names or lyrics. Outlaw X had a little news segment where they mentioned me, and not in a good way like I’d just blown up a skyscraper or decapitated the Statue of Liberty.

The hunt was still on, though nothing was big enough that it involved locking down entire towns. I wasn’t so worried about that. Deception has been my bread and butter for a long time. If the bread was a person’s body and the butter was gasoline, that is. You know what they say: you can’t make toast without cracking a few legs.

No, what I considered a threat was the part where the radio said “And it seems Hephaestus has brought more help onboard to end the threat of Gecko definitively. For the last time, Rhinomancer, they’re picking people, not taking applications! Now it appears Rumble is joining up with the team. That brings them up to six at last count. It might stay at six. That’s a recurring team size for supervillains. Getting back to the music, Gastrolord in Newark has requested ‘Demons’ while he cruises around in his suped-up Super Snail. Good luck, Gastrolord.”

I should have been keeping a better ear out. I have villains coming after me. I must have earned a lot of schadenfreude from people.

Ignoring texts coming in from Generation Flex, I slid out of the little bed with my cocks in my hand. I found them out there munching on cereal. I saw Sam’s hand go to the spray gun.

“Alright, now y’all were right to remind me to keep my eye on the prize. That can be tough for me. If y’all are still with me on this, I ain’t gonna stall too much longer. Let’s get armed and dangerous, then we go in there and catch them with their pants down, which should be easier with all the laxative I gave them. This isn’t a time to try and make friends with some bunch of heroes. They can go blow it out their ass. It’s time to make enemas.”

“Enemies,” Holly corrected.

“Isn’t that what I said?”

They wanted to smile. I could see it. I think.

So over the next few days, we gathered what we needed. That didn’t mean much for Sam and Holly. Max put together something he said would cover our escape and keep the police off our tail. It was a thin brown substance, but it glowed purple, so I didn’t press him for details. Meanwhile, I put together a few more explosive throwing knives, readied some nanite syringes, prepped a couple doses of blood agents, coated a net with thermite, and assembled more chickens. You can’t count your chicken grenades before the plot is hatched, you see, and they’re very flexible in terms of material and uses. The timed explosive throwing knives have never been as useful, but I suck at throwing and they account for that. As for the net and the arsene, I just had a couple of wicked thoughts.

When we hit that shit, we hit it hard and at night. No, really. I hit that guard station so hard, it thought it owed me child support, back rent, and overtime. We barreled through in my dear Black Sunshine, crashing through their ridiculous stick thing that goes up and down, then speeding past. The guard poked his head out, probably thinking he got away without any trouble. Too bad we’d launched a missile as we hit it. It pulled a loop and came the warhead activated, causing a hand on the end to open just one finger. The cloud that rose from the explosion bore a striking resemblance to that particular warhead as well.

There wasn’t a way to get the car in, unfortunately. The door was too tight a squeeze and the loading dock was off the ground a few feet for easier loading. I spun the car to a stop, accompanied by the sound of women’s screams and heavy metal. Actually, women’s and men’s screams. Max started before Sam and Holly, and I joined in because I was having fun. The bullets bouncing off the windshield and hood really added to the effect.

I popped open the door and threw a pair of explosive knives. It was hard to keep track of them as I landed and rolled, but I scattered assembled exterior guards who were dressed in regular rent-a-cop uniforms. One of them put a couple good shots into my back up from the loading dock. A syringe hit him in the neck and doubled over, puking. Max slid onto my trunk and hopped up next to him. “It’s alright. Let it all out.”

I turned back to the car, where I saw Sam getting in on the driver’s side and Holly ready to ride shotgun with an actual shotgun, which is where the term comes from anyway. “Would you kindly hand me my net?” I asked Sam. She tossed it on my head. I turned back to Max, who had pinned down three guards behind the other end of the loading dock. After one lucky shot, only two were firing back.

I pulled a chicken and turned to smack a bitch upside the head who was trying to sneak up on me with a knife. I grabbed him by the neck, slapped him across the face with the rubber chicken a few more times, then tore the head off the chicken and shoved it into the front of his pants. I spun him around and took careful aim past the car to the end of the dock where two of the guards were puking. I kicked him right in the gut, the extra strength from my muscle enhancers sending him into the air and toward the other guards. My aim was a little off, though. He exploded a little high off the ground. Still, nobody was shooting at Max from that direction anymore, so I considered it a win.

The ladies gunned the car and got it away from us and our pesky explosions, spears stabbing out of the tires as Sam experimented with buttons to help keep the other armed guards at bay.

I dusted my hands off and turned to Max. “So I made them crap themselves, and now you’re making them barf?”

“I thought I would kick them while they’re down. Good to see your head is back where it needs to be.” He moved toward the door right near us as I climbed the steps to it.

“Good for you maybe.” I pulled the net off of myself and readied to throw it with my left hand while opening the door with my right.

One, two, three!…It didn’t open at first.

“Must be a magnetic lock. I should have something to eat through it around here…” Max said as he rifled through his pockets. I tried the wall next to it. Concrete, and thick.

I was just about to pile up some knives and chickens when I heard Holly shout “Look out!”

I saw in my side view that the car was facing us, something bright flashing as it fired. I grabbed Max and jumped. It was shallow, but far, and I turned so I was beneath him to keep him safe. I was repaid with a lot of skidding as the rocket Sam fired hit the door, this time leaving behind a cloud shaped like the aloha hand sign before it dissipated.

Max helped me up and we headed back for the door. Once the smoke cleared, someone inside fired on the car, which prompted Holly to stick her head back inside it. I rushed for it and untangled the net from around my arm. I jumped out into the doorway, tossing the net…and watched it land on the floor.

I slumped my shoulders. “That was disappointing. Good thing I didn’t pull the fuse early.”

Max patted me on the back. “Better luck next time.”

We were in an entry hall that opened right into the warehouse. Ahead and to our left, there was a door. Past that at the corner, a guard poked his head out, then slid out on his knee to fire on us. Max hid behind me, at least until I ran forward, grabbed the net, pulled a shiny strip off one corner, and threw it at the guard before he got back behind cover. Starting from the corner the fuse was pulled from, the net burst into flames. The flaming net landed on the guard, who stumbled and fell. The thermite burned quickly, but hot. It can cut through steel in higher quantities. By the time it was done with our stalwart friend over there, he looked like char siu pork. It’s a type of Chinese food.

I turned and gave Max a thumbs-up. “Nothin’ but net.”

As Max and I entered the main warehouse room, we were surprised to find there were surprisingly few guards around. In fact, that idiot back near the door seemed to be the only one inside. That didn’t make a whole lot of sense. It just seemed to be one, big quiet room full of shelves stretching up into the air, all lit by pervasive fluorescent lighting that hung from exposed rafters.

“Hey, Gecko, I’m going to check that door back in the hall. I’ll call you if I need you to crack the computer, but I can do better with my gun in closed spaces.” It was backward to send him for the computer, I couldn’t fault him for caring about his own safety. The resistance to us had vanished utterly. I didn’t begrudge him a chance to miss out on whatever sniper crossfire they were setting up to catch us in a room full of long rows of shelves with limited ability to dodge.

“Yeah, fine. I’ll see whose fire I can draw in here. Just keep an eye out for any surprise parties waiting for us.”

Max nodded and turned to head back thataway.

I hit my little splitter hologram, appearing to break apart into three of myself as I walked into the warehouse proper, being rather noisy as I did so. “Hello? I’m here to scout for the show Storage Whores! We understand you’ve got a bunch of useless junk around here. I can help you get it off your hands! We’re looking for knick-knacks, doohickeys, gizmos, gadgets, whatchamacallits, thingamajigs, thingamabobbers, thingamajiggerbobbers, and any spare humans you got laying around.”

Everything within sight got really bright, then completely dark, along with a sort of burning, exploding feeling. If you or a loved one feel chronic explosions around your body, seek medical help immediately. I didn’t mainly because I was dazed. Seriously, I was out of it. After a moment, my eyes rebooted and I realized I was on my back with pieces of my armor missing. The explosives were all gone too. I stared up as some man in a green and white costume descended, spinning furiously in the middle of a cyclone. I sat up and looked around. My holograms were gone and near where I had been standing was a nasty black mark in the concrete floor. Looking up again, I could see this airhead had electricity flashing across his body as he rotated.

I checked my suit’s holographics system. It was toast. Too many of the cameras and projectors had been destroyed or damaged. I rolled to the side a bit far. I needed to be able to close with that asshole and I’d gotten all discombobulated. I could see a smirk on his spinning face as he landed. A vortex surrounded him still, but not nearly as strong. “Easy money,” he said as more electricity gathered along his arms. I took a step, tripped, rolled, and jumped. I was messed up and not thinking all that clearly, but trying to recover. You try to think clearly when part of your brain got hurt by an EMP.

I never reached him, as something tackled me and big ass teeth chomped down on me. The armor protected me where it could. Where it was missing, I got nommed on by shark teeth. It lifted me up in the air and shook me from side to side, but it was then I was able to recognize my assailant. It was a stout shark man. Terrorjaw. I was on the menu. I hated being on the menu. I couldn’t tell him to eat me.

“This…fucking…bites.” I said, waved from side to side.

I think he laughed a little. It was hard to tell. I know I saw one of his eyes, though. Rolled back. It’s how some sharks protect their eyes when biting.

“Aye…aye…aye…aye…eye!” I said and jammed my fist in there. That caused him to growl, something I didn’t think half-man, half-sharks could do.

“Ahh, fucking hell! Like a fucking burnt tattoo needle in my dickhole!” Terrorjaw yelled, grabbing at his eye.

“Move over, Chinese takeout. I’m finishing him off.”

I reached around for my nanites, but then I realized ones would have already been in my system. Then, still a little off, I realized none of them would work. Lightning strike. EMP. Fuck.

Something flew against the spinning storm guy’s vortex and bounced off to stick into Terrorjaw’s skin. Terrorjaw puked all over me. A Louisiana state license plate, number 007-981, landed on my chest. Lovely. Glass broke near me and purple smoke filled the area. I took my chance to crawl toward the general vicinity of the door, dragging the license plate along with me for some reason.

I would like it emphasized once more, I was a little out of it. After a moment, I felt something tug on my arm. Then I saw a familiar smile on a pale face.

“About time I rescued you, hmm?”

He grabbed me by my arm and helped me back up. We set off for the exit.

“Where’d they go?”

“They backed away once the smoke went up, but I think that tornado man is getting rid of the smoke.”

“Would it have killed him to stay in it?”

“No, but he didn’t know that.”

“What did it do? What’s going to happen to me?”

“Nothing, as long as I get you back to the trailer.”

“Lead the way.”

We got out of there, Max dropping another thing of smoke behind us. Lightning crackled against the top of the door just after we passed through it.

Outside, Sam and Holly had just gone airborne off a wrecked humvee, the car’s flamethrower firing into the air just before it landed on top of a large man in tactical gear holding a bazooka. At least someone was having fun. As I saw it happen, I had this odd urge to install a horn that played the notes to the old song “Dixie”.

The car skidded to a stop near me and Max tossed me in the backseat. I think someone sat on my head as they hauled ass out of there, but I wasn’t complaining too much.

That was fucked up. Just all of it. I’m a little clearer of mind now, though, despite having to recover from my wounds and the growth of some odd flesh-colored tentacles that sprouted from the exposed sections of my skin. Max had the antidote for that, and I had the nanites to cover the rest. Sam even pulled a pair of Terrorjaw’s teeth out of me. Holly made herself a necklace out of them.

Yeah, I should have been paying attention to any sort of news about me. I might have seen this coming ahead of time. Put it together quicker, you know what I mean?

It’s not over yet, though. If Hephaestus thought a squad of supervillains capable of counteracting all my usual tactics would be enough to put me down, they had better think again. It takes more than sharks, lightning, and tornadoes to keep me under the weather.

 

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