Tag Archives: Dr. Unity

I Got Clubbed 8

I think I mentioned to Breakdown, and I’m sure you readers have noticed, I state things in a manner other people are not used to. My metaphorical stories, for instance. Well folks, let’s just say it’s my way of talking about how I feel before I have to go all obvious. “You can’t just have your characters announce how they feel! That makes me feel angry!” to quote the Robot Devil. Problem is, I doubt y’all deal that well with the confusing mess of being in my head. And sometimes plainly getting your point across is more important than trying to be coy and intelligent. Look how many times people died in horror movies because some idiot wanted to play charades with all the pointing and shaking when he could have just said “There’s a man with a machete behind you. Run bitch, run!”

So let me start off saying that I’ve been somewhat contemplative about things.

It’s kinda like a maze.

When people talk about something being difficult to find a way through, it’s not uncommon to hear it being referred to as a maze. So many branches, so many possibilities, that someone is stunned by the possible reactions they can take. Of course, some paths have to be taken for a person to be who they are. A doctor needing to figure out what he wants to do with his career, for instance. There are so many paths to take, but his own past influences him and urges him toward one corridor or another. Sadly, this all too often leads to dead ends.

Is it any wonder that mazes are used as philosophical symbols in some pretentious way? It works about like how I’m doing now, where someone takes it and uses it as a simplistic metaphor of life.

If you want to look at things that way, then I do something special. I change the maze. Usually, it’s something dickish, like tossing a few extra dead ends into the mix, but I mess with lives. You could probably say the walls are relationships and society’s rules or the limits of nature, whatever it is that serves as a restriction on you in life.

I am, in fact, amazing. That is, if you take amazing as what the dictionary says, where it means something is stupefying or stunning. It comes from the word “maze” too, probably because of how people react to mazes that are hard. They freeze up and go “I don’t even…”.

What about mazes for people like myself? Good question. Bet you thought I was wishing someone didn’t ask that. Ha! See, Sun Tzu said all that crap about knowing thyself. Rather than a reference to masturbation, I think a lot of it meant knowing your own nature and living according to it. Even though I don’t know what I’m going to do, what tiny course I’m going to take toward my goal, I know who I am each step of the way. I know what I can do. I know that the walls between paths won’t stand in my way.

Cheaters are just going pull out bombs and blow open walls to get to the ends of the while the more noble people have to follow the maze around or use grappling hooks.

I just need to make sure that whatever makes up the walls for me doesn’t suddenly become solid. Part of the reason you all love me and would probably wear steel underwear if you ever got to meet me is that you know I will do all sorts of things other people wouldn’t. For one thing, I’d carry a welder if I met any of y’all. That’s not what I mean. A great deal of strength comes from people not having a clue what you’re going to say or do.

I like macaroni and cheese.

Now a maze is different form a labyrinth. Most people get them confused, but a labyrinth only has one path to and from its center. It’s made for meditation and art and crap. There’s supposed to be something meaningful about the journey in, where you let go of everything, and the time in the center, and then on the trip back out.

This section on the labyrinth was just a way to segue between the important topics of mac and cheese and having infiltrated the compound where the heroes were keeping Dr. Unity. They couldn’t just drop him in a normal lockup or prison population, after all. They were keeping him nice and separate at Empyreal City’s Special Detention Center. It was built with a modular design so they could quickly swap things out to meet different circumstances with people who couldn’t just be restrained, like Marscow Prison in Kingscrow. Where Marscow grew up out of a prison that had already been built, the SDF was built after the older Metropolitan Correctional Center was leveled during the attack on Empyreal City by a rogue Soviet telepath in 1981 where a modified aircraft carrier was used to fire giant squids into the city. Truly, that man had vision. It only holds superhumans for a short amount of time before they get sent somewhere permanent, like Supermax, but it’s got a good track record amongst law enforcement. The brilliant thing is that it’s an ode to ignorance. Most people would hate the idea of living so close to such a facility, but they’re ignorant of it so it’s fine to them.

Making security a little better in this case is that Forcelight and her crew were waiting around there at the time. Call it a hunch, but I think they were expecting me to visit. Now, I didn’t go in and visit Good Doctor or Mix N’Max at Marscow Prison because it’s pretty easy to detect me with a metal detector and because it was a hell of a lot more fun to bounce a truck up into the yard.

The truck idea wouldn’t work quite as well for what I’m planning this time. Besides, why should I only stick to something I’ve done before?

Nope, this time I came in the way a guard does. I figured they have some sort of scanner set up in there. Metal detector, full body scanner, something. That’s why I waited outside, invisibly, until a guard showed up. One did, a burly fellow with a mustache and curly hair. He had thick eyebrows from a lack of shaving, and the inside corner of one eyebrow turned up for some reason. He also had a scar running diagonally from the middle of his nose to his left cheek. That was important to note when I jumped him in the parking lot. It was necessary to steal his keys. It wasn’t necessary for when I shoved the peanut butter in his ears, but it did help for getting him in the purple bunny suit.

I could have skipped it all entirely if not for the keys. I could handle electronic locks, sneak past visuals, and I had an idea for how to fool the scanner to get in, but dammit if primitive key locks are tougher to fool. Break, sure, but hack? It isn’t happening.

When I rushed in the same door that guard left, I was confronted with a manned booth and a full body scanner. Made me smile under my armor.

“You forget something, Pete?” asked the man in the booth.

I nodded, then pointed to the scanner, “Do I have to?”

My voice must not have given the game away because he just told me, “Naw, man, go on through.”

That’s how I fooled equipment that would have shown I wasn’t who I said I was. Social engineering, the most useful sort of hacking. Every system has a weak point and it’s usually the people. You know, like a bunch of guards who have to go through a full body scanner every singly day. Either they get tired of it, or they resent their comrades getting a look at their junk. What a bunch of dicks. It’s even worse than if they didn’t have the scanner. At least then they’d realize there was a chance someone was getting through with something. This way, the people in charge probably don’t expect it.

First stop after that, the restroom. A quick check confirmed that my experiences in other situations were still applicable in this one. Staff bathrooms are like that. Cameras all over this place, little black half-spheres along the white ceiling. It’s like walking around a casino, but with fewer one-armed bandits.

I dropped the holographic disguise of being “Pete the Security Guard” and did my impression of The Invisible Man.

After that, finding Administration was as easy as sneaking into a guard station and peeking at a map hidden behind plastic. The guard was confused about the door, but not so confused after I snapped his neck and laid him down like he fell asleep.

Sacrifices, sacrifices. Butt slaughter was too conspicuous.

They compartmentalized their networks so a simple guard station computer couldn’t even find everyone. Those computers were better for little more than checking computers and catching up with people’s favorite shows. The dead guard’s favorite show? Survivor.

Administration, on the other hand, had information galore. And superheroes. Forcelight, Mechamoto Musashi, and Troubleshooter were hanging out there getting chewed out by some guy in a suit with a briefcase.

“I don’t care what you did before with the Master Academy kids. The truth will come out at trial and not a second before. You can present your testimony there. Did you think about what happens if you taint my trial? I’ll tell you what I told those “Catch a Predator” morons when that entrapment ruling came down and everyone they caught got off: you catch them the wrong way and it doesn’t matter if you have a pile of evidence.”

“Sir,” said Forcelight, speaking respectfully, but forcefully, “with all due respect, I’ve met individuals before who you do not want to pressure this way. I don’t know if Breakdown is that sort of person, but if he is, he will go out of his way to come after Dr. Unity and set the record straight. He might set the entire facility loose in the process. Besides, there may not be a trial.”

“You really think I’d let him go?”

“I don’t know, how many times have you struck deals? We know you have an election coming up. You need money, and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that people will pay to have Dr. Unity released just in time to take a quiet job in a research facility in a country without an extradition treaty.”

They continued bickering on and on like kids. I padded by them silently and knelt down under a desk to slip a glove off and merge with the tower. That got me the information, shut down the cameras on that floor, and caused a loop in the elevator cameras. I also scheduled a special email from the facility to the local and national news companies. Harlon got it first, of course, for a brief time period of exclusivity. Harlon’s this guy I once crossed paths with in the news. I kept him to help me keep my ear to the ground, and occasionally let me shove something in his ear to put on the news for me.

“And what’s this I heard about some supervillain in the UN besides Dr. Unity? Are you protecting someone else who was involved in this?”

Forcelight fixed him with a stare and told him firmly, “No.”

This guy, a District Attorney I think, turned to Troubleshooter. She wilted under his glare until one of her waldos accidentally fired a net all over her and caused her to struggle with it instead of answering. He tried Mechamoto next, who was propped up against the wall next to a water cooler with his arms crossed. The heroe’s voice was distorted as he snored.

The trip up to the floor they held Unity on was mostly uneventful. I did practice my singing though. Schizofrantic, a supervillain more by default than intent, was being hauled up in the same car accompanied by a trio of guards in riot gear when I began to belt out “Grim Grinning Ghosts” from that Disney ride. ‘Frantic ignored it as if he was in on it, but the guards got nervous, especially when I didn’t stop. They checked and rechecked these grey cylinders attached to their helmets. Finally one of them elbowed the dirty-looking telepathic homeless vet. “Hey, are you doing that? Make it stop.”

“Doing what?” he asked.

“That noise. The singing.”

“You mean the muzak? They don’t sing in elevator music. I should know, I used to write songs.”

“Cut it out. We can hear something.”

“I’m not doing anything. Maybe it’s the other person.”

“Other person?”

“You don’t see that man?”

“What man?”

“Oooooh. Just remember. It will only hurt for a second.”

The guard grabbed hold of Schizofrantic and shook him by the shoulders. “What are you talking about?! Stop doing this! Stop it!”

Since ‘Frantic was being such a good sport and playing along, I made it fun too.

I projected a molten landscape with islands of obsidian for land. I covered myself in the image of man in a bloodstained straightjacket with long black hair. My eyes were covered in a bandana that had spikes jammed through it at the eyes. My lower face was torn apart in an unnatural grin made up of torn skin, blood, and bones shaped into loose approximations of pointed teeth. A twisted version of a face.

“Don’t worry,” I gurgled, “this will only hurt…for an eternity.”

All three guards shit their pants all at once. I jammed my hand up one guy’s ass all the way so I could punch out of his mouth and grab his friend’s gun. I turned it on that second guard and shot him in the foot. I then dropped the gun, grabbed his head, and pulled it into the first guard’s mouth and down his throat. The third guard huddled up in the fetal position and cried, trying to hide from the horror. When he looked up he found me…in the form of a giant marshmallow peep.

He clutched at his chest then and fell to the side, struggling with his breathing. I think he had a heart attack. Oh well. Everything looked normal except for the dead bodies when it was time for my stop.

“Bye ‘Frantic. Have a nice time.” I told him, giving an invisible wave.

“Bye elevator demon. Say ‘hello’ to my mom for me next time you’re in hell.”

“Sure thing. It’ll make her head spin to hear from you.”

I found another pair of guards at the cell I wanted, right on the end of the hallway. Those were the easiest to isolate in this place.

They were standing at the door, holding a slot at eye level open, and one of them was taking potshots inside with his gun. His buddy tried to give him pointers, before smacking him on the ear and declaring, “That’s useless! It only works if you try to kill him with it. A flesh wound isn’t going to make him drop anybody. Here, let me show you how.”

They swapped positions and the guard giving the tips fired off a shot. I heard the familiar sound of Unity expelling someone immediately afterward. Got a running start, skidded on my knees, and stood up as I double uppercutting, punching through pants and puckers alike to raise them into the air, squirming like maniacs with barbed wire up their asses. Considering that they were maniacs with barbed wire up their asses, it was a highly appropriate response.

Dr. Unity ended their suffering before I could, however. They disappeared, leaving behind Unity’s hands reaching through the bars on that door opening.

I appeared, dressed as an unarmored Playboy bunny, chomping on a holographic carrot. “Eeeeeeh. What’s up doc?”

He grabbed my chin then and concentrated. Nothing happened. He needed skin contact, not armor contact. With a frustrated yell, he let me go.

“There, there. Not everyone wants to join your little Unity love fest in there.”

“You’re here to taunt me?”

“Yes.”

“Ha! I am the world’s preeminent chemist. I am the true peacemaker, not people like you and your violence. Lock me up and I will be freed in no time by people with more vision than you. Kill me, and I become a martyr for future generations to follow the lead of.”

“Right. It would look bad no matter what if either a villain or hero killed you while you’re all locked up.”

He smiled at me. You know, I don’t think that guy was all there. “You can’t stop my escape. I’ll tell everyone about it and they can’t stop it. My knowledge and abilities are too valuable. People will be lining up to set me loose.”

“No, I think not. Not in another few minutes when the videos I sent go public.”

He lost his crazed grin in an awful hurry at that.

“What video?”

“My helmet, my dear moron. Same one that got Breakdown’s very sincere admission that you were calling the shots and you at the UN actually calling the shots and explaining your motivations.”

“They’ll never convict me. You know how the system works for someone like me. I’m one of the greatest heroes the world ever saw. Generations have grown up looking up to me. I can be the smartest man in the world. I’ll be free in no time.

“No, actually it is perfectly allowable. If a cop or a hero had done that, then you’d have your chance to get out of jail free, but I’m neither. I’m the guy who screwed your little ‘system’ in the ass. Isn’t it convenient when someone like you actually has to face some consequences for his actions and has his dirty secrets dragged out for all to see in court? The hero to millions becomes the monster, and your little hero buddies in the know will realize who you are. When it comes to me and you, I’m the hero all your old friends will be thankful to. Why kill you when I can bend your legend over and fuck it in the ear?”

“You can’t do that. I’ll die a martyr. I was trying to save the world. I’m the hero. I’m not like you. This isn’t what people like you do to people like me. This isn’t what people like you do! Get back here and kill me you son of a bitch! I’m the hero. I’m the hero!”

I walked away laughing over his berserker screams.

That little bit taken care of, it was time to repeat my journey back to the outside and figure out the next adventure. I did so, visible for all to see, and encountered no further resistance until the first floor. I caught a figure in black with a shiny mask and bangle slinking after me. When I turned to confront her, Dame crossed her arms and shifted her weight most of the way to her left leg.

“I’m proud of you, Gecko. I don’t understand it, but I think it’s encouraging to see you using society to your benefit for once.”

“Hello Dame, you saucy spy. I’m just neatly undoing everyone’s expectations about what’s meant to happen. Shit’s going down that’s not supposed to happen if you know a damn thing about how your precious society works.”

I paused as the DA’s voice reached me us down the halls. “WHO THE FUCK SENT THAT OUT?!”

I chuckled at that, then continued. “How do you always know where to find me?”

“Skill. Oh, and you aren’t the first invisible person they have had to deal with here. Lucky for you I’m the only one who bothered to check those sensors.”

“Huh. Good point. ” Oops. It made sense and there I went forgetting about it. Yes. Forgetting. Or part of my master plan? Have some chocolate pudding and think that over. “What, do they have you spying on Unity, or just me? Going to alert the guards now, give me a fun time getting out of here?”

“Not at this point, no. The guards have gotten sleepy all of a sudden, so they won’t be responding to you on your way out,” she said, smiling, and stepped around me in a circle.

I didn’t know what the point of her little visit was. I also didn’t care. “Dame, I just gotta know. Who was it, you think, who alerted Forcelight, and told them to bring along those nanites, and who suggested they deliver it similar to how I did at the club? Who called the heroes to ‘help’ me for once?”

She stopped in front of me with a sly little smile on her pink lips. We both already knew the answer. The local thief that Forcelight had keeping tabs on me, that’s who. The one who had a direct line to her and a few other heroes. In other words, Dame. Did she think I’d be happy?

I threw my hand up as I walked out, giving her the finger. “Right there, bitch. Suck it hard, suck it long.”

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I Got Clubbed 7

I should have kept Breakdown around and made him deal with this mess.

Everything did eventually get settled once the puking was done. Getting that worked out took well into the morning, and there was almost an epic brawl over it.

Here is the brief rundown: everyone at the club was unhappy. The prevailing emotion was anger-based in some way, with scattered showers from the less angry people. Gave me a damn headache. Then there was the puke. It was all over my floor. Sadly, murder was an inconvenient option this time.

I didn’t so much calm things down as much as stand there as and threaten them into not fighting, not while I was the guy who saved their sorry asses. For people who are used to exercising more power than most people, having them stand off was quite an accomplishment. Unfortunately, I think they did it more because those who knew my name were passing it along. I was mainly concerned about being unable to pull off insurance fraud.

After laying down the law, a phrase which should never be used in relation to me, I let them work things out amongst themselves. The important points were that they didn’t fight amongst themselves, I was taking down Unity, and some people would be spending a lot of time at The Secret Lair. Some of the folks expressed concerns about being around a bunch of brainwashed friends and loved ones back home and around their jobs. I bet some of them were also afraid of what they’d do knowing that just about anyone in the city they were ever attracted to would be easily talked into bed.

Perhaps that’s why the heroes and villains that Breakdown tried to throw at me made it a point to stop by the throne and thank me. I just wanted them to leave and take the carpet with them at that point, but nope. The guys shuffled up embarrassed and quickly left. Even Paveman, despite our history. Seriously, the guy absorbs material from surfaces he stands on and it becomes part of his body. I didn’t think this Sexahol crap could affect him.

At least Nos and Hydroplane rushed through it. I don’t mind that bit of speedster rudeness. Elita gave me a bearhug. In her case, it’s a hug that could kill a bear. Dame was next and helped me pop my arm back into my shoulder. I asked her to find out where Dr. Unity was hiding and call me on the screen when she found out. The last one, teen girl, was a shy little thing. Same one who tried to sneak in with the fake ID and, after looking her up for info, I found out she was the same one from that school incident. The one with the color manipulation power. She said I smelled like shit.

All the cherry and strawberry smelling vomit around, I’m surprised anyone could tell.

I told them to get the hell out of there. Not in a particularly mean way. Just “Go on, get the hell out of here.” That kind of thing. I’m not a guy who spends a lot of time on a throne dealing with courtiers, as you may have noticed by now.

I had work to do. Starting with getting the suit cleaned out of what was clearly chocolate pudding. I mean, obviously that stuff was no good to eat with me sweating and all that, so it had to go.

The repairs took awhile too. The damage was a bit more extensive than just the cameras and projectors. I had a crack problem once I removed it. The armor, I mean, not me personally. I’d never do crack. Takes time away from my meth habit.

It took longer to get the armor fixed, though. My previous armor design didn’t have nearly the defensive or offensive capabilities of this one, and neither of them are the absolute best I could do. There’s a problem. As the armor gets higher in quality, everything about it becomes more complicated and harder to repair. A good example is the nanite quilt layer. Once I use a syringe, I can do whatever I want with it. Keep it, throw it away, stab it into someone’s eye, whatever. As long as I have more syringes and nanites, I can still use them to heal myself. The quilted portions are useless if they aren’t repaired and refilled before going into a fight. That problem would become worse in a hurry if I added flight boots, missile launchers, flak, drones with guns, and a fog machine. I would need my own logistics.

It took me a little bit of time, made worse by Carl moping around. He’d stop by occasionally to make sure I knew how sorry he was. I told him each time that I didn’t care about all the stuff he told Breakdown.

Finally, after he had taken yet another break from steam cleaning the carpet, I grabbed him by the shoulders. I then shook him repeatedly, yelling “Get a hold of yourself, man! If you keep coming around here like this, I’ll kill you out of annoyance!”

He grabbed hold of the catwalk rail to control himself, then bent over it and threw up.

“Damn, you know you’re cleaning that up too, right?”

He nodded and wiped his mouth.

“Good. Now stop being all sorry. If you want me to put it in certain words I’d rather not use, than fine, I forgive you. No need to crucify yourself looking for my approval.”

“Are you sure about that, boss?”

“Of course. When you forgive someone, you forgive them. No need to get sadistic about it or ask for a human sacrifice or something.”

“Are you absolutely sure?”

“I don’t know, let me go get my whoop-ass stick and we’ll discuss it over a funeral.”

“That’s alright, boss.”

“Good,” I said, patting him on the back. “Keep your head in the game. I want you ready to pilot the keg armor into battle. We’ve got a superhero to kill.”

“Sir, yes boss!” he said, giving a lighthearted salute.

“You call that a salute, maggot!” I stood up all stiff and held my face right in front of his. “That’s no proper salute. That’s the kind of salute I get from a company of prostitutes after I’ve put their brothel out of business armed with nothing but my dick and a six pack!”

Carl began to snicker and I joined him for a moment.

“Alright, alright, go get the rest of the puke up and we’ll see what we can yank out of Dr. Unity’s insides instead, you got it?”

“Oorah!” he exclaimed as he turned to jog back down to work.

I noticed a message on there from Dame wanting me to call her back, so I returned it and got a black screen as it rang. That kind of screen usually means a phone. It only occupied half the screen, though. The rest was reserved for my research on Dr. Unity. Quotations from a biography in the eighties. A wikiPowers page. His entry on a website called The Unofficial Superhuman Database. He didn’t have a TV Tropes page, though. He had one consistent power, too, but his other schemes and inventions always augmented his ability.

Dame picked up. “Hello?”

“Hey there 900 girl. My five free minutes started already? You’ve got a sexy voice. Mmmm, what are you wearing?”

“A gun. Why don’t you tell me your name so I can carve it on a bullet?”

“Oooh, sounds like somebody’s naughty. Just let me know when I start paying for the call you dirty, dirty girl.”

“This is Gecko, isn’t it?”

“That’s right, say my name. Jump on it, girl, let me take that thing through the car wash. I want to wax it down, rub down the leather interior, take out the floor mats, vacuum the sand off them, then leave a crappy pine tree air freshener behind.”

“I’m hanging up now, Gecko.”

There was a click. When I called her back, I got her almost immediately.

“Was it as good for you as it was for me, honeysuckle?” I asked with a groan.

“Figures. You’re out of gas leaving me unsatisfied and wishing you would put that mouth to better use.”

“Wow, my compliments on the comeback. Do I detect a hint of indifference blossoming?”

“I found Unity.”

“You make it sound like a cult.”

“You know what I mean. He’s actually using the UN complex as a base. He’s living there and keeps the diplomats coming back there even though their governments have all acknowledged that any agreements they make are not representative of their wishes.”

“I wonder if any oysters have cults?”

“Gecko, stop trying to lead into a Blue Oyster Cult joke. You’re supposed to be stopping the bad guy and saving the city.”

“Hey! That was uncalled for. I’m not saving anyone. I just got into a personal disagreement with Breakdown that turned into a personal disagreement with a superhero. A hero who believes in saving the world by spreading his own personal date rape drug, if you remember. I wouldn’t save anything. I am the pit stain under the world’s sleeve. I am the lint rabbit clogging society’s vacuum cleaner. I am the cold shower when you were expecting hot water.”

“Easy now. You megalomaniac types really love to monologue, don’t you?”

“Madam, I have not yet begun to monologue!”

“Don’t, not for too long. This city was just the beginning. He’s working out of the General Assembly Hall to arrange teams of people and superhumans to spread this stuff to other cities.”

“I’m cleaning my smiting codpiece as we speak.”

“By the way, I was wondering…” she just trailed off.

After she didn’t follow up on that, I said, “Ok. Good to know. Keep up the good wondering.”

“Oh, uh, alright. Yeah. You know, you surprise me, Gecko.”

“It’s kinda my thing.”

“I just wanted to say that you didn’t have to-“

I broke in while she was talking and yelled, “Surprise!” Then I hung up.

She was getting a little mushy for me. I meant too mushy. I doubt she was getting, you know, mushy anywhere that mush occurs. Not for me.

But enough of that shit. You’re probably wondering about the fight. Duh.

I snuck my way into the General Assembly Hall of the aptly named General Assembly building as soon as my armor was ready. It was easy to slip through a door into that famous room while hidden behind a holographic cloak of invisibility. He was training people to safely move and operate machines like the one I stole from him. The chemical distributors. Those who smelt it were being taught to dealt it. The joke only works phrased that way. He was growing frustrated though. All too often the trainees and diplomats tried some monkey business instead of what he wanted. You know, monkey business. They wanted to play with their bananas.

I saw the looks the Saudi and Israeli representatives were giving each other. The effects of the Sexahol made them want to feel each other up, not feel how to connect this hose or that hose.

Dr. Unity himself was a smaller man now that time had taken its toll. He had to be in his seventies, with all sorts of aches from his past fights, especially with giants and radiation and space aliens involved. Despite that, he moved easily around the room and didn’t show any sign of pain. He didn’t even use a cane.

I got in position behind the dais where Dr. Unity stood demonstrating the distributor. I charged up my fists, and then swung for his head. There was a flash of light and a blurring, then two people fell from where he had stood. The assembled trainees gawked at what happened before rushing over to check on the pair. Both were alive and unharmed. One was Dr. Unity, and the other was the Secretary General of the UN.

It must have been linked to that power of his. Dr. Unity didn’t just pick the name to go with his goals. As he demonstrated then, the ability that made him stand apart from regular humanity was to merge with people whose skin he touched. He sought out the faces and hands of people in the crowd which refused to listen as I yelled at them to “Get back!” They disappeared in twos, joining with Dr. Unity.

I called out over the comms, “Moai, Carl, get in here!” Then, I jumped up above the crowd and went to slam my boots into Dr. Unity where he laid, but he rolled out of the way and continued to take more people as I missed him.

He stood then, and did his best to dodge me. His movements were fluid and smart. As much as he knew and as good as he had been, merging with someone made him better. He gained each person’s strength, each person’s intelligence, and each person’s talents, even though his body looked as old as ever. The payoff, as was found out when I did manage to catch him across the face, was that people could also be expelled from him if he was hurt enough at one time. I caught his jaw with a glowing fist. He fell, as did three others. None of them were hurt, not even Unity, but he was at least weaker. Unity couldn’t reabsorb someone very quickly after having them expelled from his body.

In all my time mopping the floors with heroes, I have often noticed that they aren’t very absorbent.

Still, all but those four were quickly abducted and made a part of him for now. That left him with twenty people still inside. Dr. Unity stood there, looking around the room for me. I’d gone back into stealth mode by then. “You won’t ruin this. I’ve worked too hard. This is the right way, don’t you see?” he pleaded.

After a pregnant pause, I jumped up, wrapped my legs around his head, threw my weight toward the ground, and carried him over me in a flip that landed him right on the top of his head as I released him. Another person fell from Unity, dazed and possibly unconscious.

“You know where that’s falling? Deaf motherfucking ears, doc. With little motherfucking dicks of their own to fuck your motherfucking mother. I don’t exactly like your goal or your methods,” I said as I lunged for his throat. I figured he would lose even more of his human shields as I choked the life from his body. It didn’t happen. Instead, his kick sent me flying to where I crashed against the podium. He dusted himself off, but couldn’t advance to finish me off.

Why? Oh, just because Moai and Carl crashed through the door. Moai wore one of those hats with a pair of beer and hoses up top. Carl was seated safely behind the armor plating I’d added on to the cockpit of the keg armor. He looked over at them. Carl raised one arm of the keg armor, showing off the newly-installed spike.

“Hiya. Distracted enough yet?” asked Carl.

Unity took that as a cue and turned to look for my invisible ass, instinctively raising his arms to guard against an attack that wasn’t coming in a way he could stop. A rubber chicken’s head bounced off his arms. He caught it and looked it over, which is how he discovered the rest of the rubber chicken at his feet, laying on the floor but trying to push itself toward the nearest road.

It went off. He lost six people in the explosion.

“Bad hero, bad bad!” I taunted him. He took a moment to get up from that one. I connected with a blow that would have crushed his windpipe, but someone fell from his body instead. He traded me, sending me flying with the strength of what I think was around thirteen people at that point. Moai and Carl made him an asshole sandwich, though. They were the bread and he was the asshole. It cost him two people but the whole vibrating glowy thing he did kept him from being trapped between them.

Unity slipped loose and began to head for the door.

“Don’t go just yet, Dr. Daterape. The fun’s just begun.” I went to grab him but he flipped me overhead and into a desk.

He grabbed my armored head, trying to get a good hold. “How dare you ruin this? The world, man! My life’s dream! The world my baby girl should have grown up in! I was going to do it. I was going to save them all even if I had to do it by dishonest means. Don’t you try to turn that into something so dirty sounding as ‘Dr. Daterape.’”

“Think about the world you made instead. So disgusting that superheroes were willing to let me have you because of what you did to them, your old colleagues and friends.” I think he gasped even before I kneed him in the balls. Then a beam of light struck him. He fell right in front of me, losing two people.

Moai helped me up and I turned to Carl. “Good shot, Carl. Didn’t think I put a laser on there.”

“Wasn’t me boss. It was them.” He pointed with the arm of his walker.

There, at the entrance to the room, was a set of old friends. A floating young woman who glowed white light from whatever skin her simple white costume didn’t cover lowered her hand from where she had fired at Unity. A tech samurai whose armor glowed red and blue. Another young woman carrying a backpack that was a mess of various devices and gadgets larger than she was. Forcelight, Mechamoto Musashi, and Troubleshooter.

“Gecko,” said Forcelight without a hint of emotion.

“Forcelight! Didn’t expect to see you here. You know they said I could kill him, right?”

“That was a hasty decision made soon after you saved them,” she responded. Somebody had tattled to Forcelight. Maybe I pissed Dame off with that last little surprise.

“Yeah, they were upset after the Sexahol and you used that to rile them up,” added Troubleshooter.

I looked to Musashi for his two cents. He shrugged.

“Nothing from you? Huh. Ok. Well come on, guys. He deserves it, even more than a bad guy. Look at the asshole. You’d expect a villain doing this. We’re not nice people. Some of us aren’t even in control of our own actions. But this guy, a hero, one of you? This guy who always held himself up to higher morals than us just helped do some despicable stuff in this city, and he had more cities on his little list.”

“Our agreement is in jeopardy here, Gecko. I think it’s best if you leave the building,” said Forcelight. The deal she meant was where she and her buddies didn’t mess with me so long as I didn’t mess with them. As long as I didn’t do too much to show off I was still alive, they wouldn’t reveal that they knew for sure that I survived the destruction of the Empyre State Building. Considering recent events, that last point was already pretty iffy, unless people were going to just ignore the name that got passed around as their savior at the club.

I stared into her eyes even as I heard Dr. Unity stand behind me. A dish on Troubleshooter’s backpack whirled around and aimed right for him. I heard more bodies hit the ground. Forcelight wasn’t blinking. I had a visor on. She couldn’t see my eyes. I was considering getting into it, but I was also realizing, in a rare event, that some other people would lose out of all this even if I won. People I shouldn’t have been thinking about, especially because thinking of other people really sucks. It wasn’t a moment of weakness. It was just some chocolate pudding or something.

Finally, I turned toward my minions. Carl in his walker, Moai in his helmet, headbutting Dr. Unity to knock someone else free. “Let’s go. Leave this moron here for them, guys. He’s not worth having a turf war over.”

Outside, I saw the flyer that Forcelight’s team used to use rebuilt. Similar to the distributor back at the club, it was spraying down the city. Probably my stolen nanites that Forcelight’s company, Long Life, had figured out how reprogram and make more of.

“Damn. They are really using my shit against me today.”

“What was that, boss?” asked Carl as he exited the building with Moai.

“Nothing. Ah well. Let’s go rob a Victoria’s Secret on our way back to base, shall we?”

“Why Victoria’s Secret?”

“I’ll tell you why, boys. I’ve heard jokes about something called ‘edible underwear’ and they might be a good item to serve at the club.”

And so we walked off into a nanite rainbow.

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