I had a heck of a day, readers. Any day you take part in a high speed chase through the desert is a good one. The team of superheroes I deign to work with were called out on a tip about illegally-imported goods. That meant flying over the desert, tailing a couple of 18 wheelers. Drillbit had some sort of bottom-facing visual camo activated.
“We could stop them before now,” Advocate explained, “But then we wouldn’t know who the buyer is.”
“Rabbit,” said Rabbit.
Advocate nodded to her. “We think they’re carrying arms. We’ll swoop in and catch both parties in the act.”
In an arms deal, one side is guaranteed to be bringing weapons and the other side is guaranteed to have something valuable and an interest in acquiring weapons. This usually amounts to both sides being armed and cautious because they’re worried about being fucked over. That’s one reason why a trustworthy arms dealer is so valuable to most criminals. Added trust is also a point in the dealer’s favor worthy of raising prices over. It’s either that, or trust a guy’s selling you something worth so little they aren’t concerned it’ll be stolen.
“There’ll be plenty of them there, that’s for sure,” I said, then commenced to coughing. School full of kids and somehow it’s me, the woman without medical nanites to assist my immune system, whose head became a hacking snot pinata. I took a napkin offered by Rabbit and blew my nose, growling when my ear decided to creak. My ears are sophisticated technology and they’re creaking. They don’t have things with which to creak!
Once I’d properly disposed of the napkin in the increasingly-full trashbag I’d brought with me, I thanked Rabbit, who responded in her usual manner.
“Eminence?” Advocate asked.
I waved off his concern. “I told you, I’m good to go. Me on my death bed would be better than Mike Tyson at his prime. When the Boogieman goes to bed, he checks under-,” and that’s when my cough interrupted my completely accurate portrayal of my abilities. Advocate just nodded while Rabbit patted me on the shoulder.
“Rest on the way there,” Advocate advised.
I leaned back in my seat and let myself be talked to sleep by an ASMR person on Youtube who likes Reiki and jellybeans. Despite that, my mind kept wanting to wander to a song that felt appropriate. Between both of those, I was pretty much knocked out when I heard Drilbit yell back,” We’re here!”
I unbuckled and stood, in an odd frame of mind. Advocate and Drillbit were up at the cockpit. Rabbit stood next to the door, which was still closed. I closed one eye and checked through spy satellites. Normally, the United States is way more focused on foreign targets. They had a shitload aimed at their own land instead, and it’s like they weren’t even bothering with encryption in this timeline. Anyone could get in there. I actually had to wipe out a Chinese worm in there to take full control before zooming in.
The semis were stopped at an abandoned shopping center just off the highway. I hummed, hands swaying to the music. Had to divert one to cover a cough as I looked over eight guys standing by the semis and group of four vans with nine guys deployed around there. “Eight guys with the big trucks, nine with the vans. All armed. You know, a cherry bomb would fix this entire problem for us.”
“We’re not here to kill them. We’re here to bring them to justice,” Advocate said. “Drillbit, bring it down, block off escape routes. Everyone else, disable the vehicles first, then move on to the people.” He opened the door, showing we still weren’t all that close to the ground. He turned and held out his hand for Rabbit and myself.
“I don’t seem to have packed a chute,” I said.
“I’ll take care of that,” Advocate said. Rabbit had already taken his hand.
I took the other, “Don’t make me regret this, or I’ll make you regret this.”
He smiled. “Last one down buys drinks!” Then he jumped, taking Rabbit and myself with him.
I heard Drillbit yell, “No fair!” before we began our skydiving without a parachute. I couldn’t help but feel a thrill, even as the Earth rose rapidly for its deadly smooch. Advocate actually let go of me at one point. When I looked over, he’d also released Rabbit, but my attention was soon drawn to a white-yellow aura surrounding her and I. I looked down to see I was coming right at the front hood of a van and-
Even though I slammed into the engine block of a van at something close to terminal velocity, the velocity didn’t prove terminal. It didn’t even hurt. I didn’t feel anything as I embedded in the hood. After a second’s contemplation, that faded and I could feel the metal wrapped around me. Pushing my way out was harder to do, and necessitated a bit of wiggling. By the time I pulled myself out, the others were already busy being shot at.
Rabbit jumped one guy in a shirt and suspenders, smashing the back of his head with an axehandle blow, landing with a dropkick on another fellow. She disappeared from the ground in a cloud of smoke as one of the other guards ran over to shoot where she’d have been. He turned around and spotted me, but clenched his teeth in surprise. Rabbit’s hands appeared from behind him, stretching a band reading “Tommy Hilfiger” over his eyes. He turned around to swipe at Rabbit, showing off his boxers stretched from crack to brow. Rabbit dove between his legs and kicked his knees out from under him.
Advocate tanked being shot like it didn’t even matter. He pulled out a toy gun, the sort that shoots plastic balls, and shot the nearest soldier. The ball lit up with the white-yellow aura as well, and smacked the guy around like a good punch. Another pulled a knife and lunged for Advocate’s throat. It refused to dig in and clattered out of the man’s grasp. Advocate’s shield aura appeared around his own head when he headbutted the man.
By now, I’d gotten free enough that I could see we’d all taken out a van upon landing, but the one to my left was still around. A trio of guys ran for that one. I hopped on top of the hood and looked straight down, hitting the laser eye before backflipping off it. Steam whistled out of the radiator and the guys pulling on the car doors ended up pinned under the sides as they fell out from the middle thanks to their pulling.
I heard a semi’s engine roar to life and ran for that one. The driver ran right over the leg of someone in a suit. The second one turned over and started to follow it, both of them heading for the lanes not blocked off by a hovering shuttle.
Rabbit was running as well, so swerved to grab her and throw her in an arc to toward the top of the first semi. She landed ok. Then I took aim and cut out the rear wheels of the one closer to me. The trailer dropped and skidded along the road. I jumped on and managed not to go through the top. I started climbing to try and get to the cab.
By the time I reached it, one of the suited arms dealers was hanging from the open passenger door, trying to aim a rifle at Rabbit, who was fighting someone on the roof of the next semi. I pulled him up to the roof and slammed him into it, sending the rifle falling safely behind us. Hand tangled in his shirt, I kept smashing him onto the top of the cab until it gave way and we dropped in. A pistol clattered to the floorboard under us and the driver reached for his rear waistband. I grabbed his arm and diverted the gun’s barrel to his head. “Don’t do it! You have so much to live for!”
He stomped the brakes, sending me flying against the windshield. Unfortunately for him, I hadn’t let go of his hand and his wrist had a lot more give than my muscles. I held onto that gun with two hands, grabbed his head with the other two, and rammed him into the horn.
Honk! Whoosh! The air bag deployed, pinning him against the seat. I disarmed him and used the passenger seatbelt to hog tie his compatriot, who didn’t take it too well. Then I went to check on the other semi, which I saw had also stopped before getting too far. One of the doors popped off with an arms dealer against it. Rabbit leaned out and gave me a thumbs up. “Rabbit!”
“Gecko!” I said, waving back at her. Looking back, I saw Advocate jogging toward us. He found me, palms together, bobbing back and forth on the hood of the semi like a hula ornament.
“Everything good?” He asked me.
I nodded, “Yeah. Rabbit says ‘Rabbit’ by the way, so I’m assuming that’s what that means. You get the others?”
He pointed back the way he came. “Drillbit’s got them in a hole. State troopers are on their way. FBI and ATF time is hard to come by right now, with our government shut down.”
It was a decent enough wrap-up, and we did indeed go for drinks after we got back. Out of costume, but at a bar with more than a signs about superheroes and people in superhero t-shirts. We did a pretty poor job hiding identities. Drillbit had spiral markings over his arms that matched the ones from his costume, and Rabbit, while looking nothing more than a pretty Native American woman, didn’t widen her vocabulary outside of costume. I could only hide my extra arms so well.
A funny thing happened on the way out of the bathroom, though. I went to push the door open and noticed it didn’t open into the same hallway as before. I stepped back as Blackstone stepped through. The time mage went back to the unshaven look, and smelled like he’d actually slept in the bed I covered with boiled vinegar and hot sauce.
“You’re late,” I said.
“My wife better not be,” he responded.
I rolled my eyes, “Like I said, wasn’t me.”
“I know,” he said, just as accusingly as if I said it was. “I was able to see it. I saw you and your friend steal the book. Who was that?”
“Mobian, the heroic time traveler. You really screwed things up with your little trick. You didn’t think you could fuck with such an important part of the universe and not pay a cost, did you?” I asked, hands on my hips.
“What do you want for the book?” he asked.
“You know what I want,” I said, raising a hand to examine my nails. “Nasty situation you’re in, isn’t it? You can’t beat Claw. You don’t even know enough to sneak in there and steal away your Marivel. If only you knew someone with access to a craft that can infiltrate the island easily, or a sneaky person who knows the island like the back of her sexy, sexy hand.” I flipped my hand around so he could see the back, which had a little rabbit sketch on it I’m still pondering the meaning of. I know what I hope it means, just not what it means. I looked away for a minute and she’d drawn a little rabbit.
“I’m not giving her up,” he said.
“Damned if you do, damned if you don’t…” I said, then started humming again, a song I hadn’t much associated with my shenanigans since that time I tried to steal the Wishing Stick in Paradise City. My last word to him on the matter was from it. “Doesn’t matter where you go or what you do… ’cause if I burn, so will you.” I giggled, looking at him. I pulled out some lipstick and wrote my number down on paper towel for him. I walked over and stuck it in his coat pocket.
He glared at me and stepped back into the doorway, which swirled with purple light. After a second, the door slammed shut. I opened it and saw the correct hallway outside, where a sign urged me to drink Bud Light instead of beer. I grabbed another paper towel, balled it up, and tossed it out. I followed it when it didn’t disappear.
I think he’ll come around. At the very least, Blackstone will figure out why so many have to turn to murder to try and stop me permanently. Time will tell.