Tag Archives: El Presidente

Psychos of the Caribbean 11

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“You think you got what it takes to bring me down? Let me tell you somethin’, brother, I’m the champ for a reason: I am the cream of the crop!” I yelled in the middle of the intersection, pointing to a very confused woman in a banana yellow car. It got even more confusing when I ran for the car and jumped up to dropkick it in the grill. Scared, the woman shifted into reverse and backed into the truck behind her with a crunch.

I stood up and threw my hands up. “Yes! Once again, fear the mighty of dropkick of Cat of the Night!” I posed, flexing.

The angry horns were nearly overwhelming as the onlookers taunted me, but refused to try and take the intersection from me. I was king of this hill.

Then I heard a ringing in my ear. The horns didn’t mess with my hearing; it was my ring tone. I picked up. “Hello?”

“Boss, do you have to play that boom boom song whenever someone calls you? I’m still sick of it.”

“I use it to assert my dominance over other people’s ear holes. What’s up?”

“The President just sent someone up with a bottle of rum to congratulate you. They finished doing whatever they did for you in the lab.” I heard a woman’s voice, probably Penny, say something in the background. “Penny wants to know if we’re letting her go yet.”

I hung up on him, more to be rude to Penny, and decided to go see about getting my core back. But first, I needed a ride. A nearby motorcyclist sped through the intersection. How thoughtful. I jumped up and wrapped his neck in a leg scissors, swinging around his body with my arms out. Whee! At the end of the rotation, I threw him off and grabbed the handlebars, settling my ass in the seat and taking the through a construction site, a llama farm, a playground, and a cabaret in order to get to the power plant. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line, even if that means you make a burlesque dancer forget her lines.

At the lab, they practically threw the doors open for me. Probably because I was still on the bike. I let go and hopped off next to the president as the speeding machine tipped over and skidded along the floor to knock down a gaggle of Tropican grad students. The President gave me a polite golf clap for me efforts, then pulled his cigar out of he looked me up and down. “You have been wrestling with cars again.”

“A man’s got to do what a man’s got to do,” I said, posing.

“A man does not have to do it in a lime green thong and mask.” He puffed away at his cigar and turned away, avoiding any more glances down there. “The pink feather boa is new.”

I shrugged and wrapped it around my neck again. “I cut through the cabaret.” Switching to English, I then added. “I guess you could say I gave them the whole thong and dance.”

He groaned. “May God have mercy on your soul when he smites your tongue,” he said.

I snorted. “Oh yeah? Him and what army?”

The President looked upward and crossed himself, then edged away from me.

I ignored him and walked over where the various researchers and techs huddled around a pair of boxes. Just ordinary metal boxes. But not just any boxes! Boxes I needed to get to. I picked up the closest lab technician and slammed him down on my knee. “Out of the way, folks, nothing to see here.” I tossed another one off to the side. When they cleared out enough, I saw that the containers held several pieces of metal in different shapes. I’d specified a certain pattern, but they had to be in separate pieces with certain ones separated.

“I thought something would glow.” The Pres stepped up beside me.

I rolled my eyes. “Yeah right. Then anyone could tell I’m sneaking up on them, especially in the dark. If you take that away from me, I won’t ever have a shot at having kids.”

I spent the next day buried in my work. I wouldn’t normally care about Carl or Moai being around, but we still have Penny with us. I find comfort in her squeaky, fear-laden voice as it wonders what new depravities I’m going to sink to next. I surprised her with plans for a kitten cannon, baffled her by staring blankly at wall for an hour, and distracted her with a trip to the island’s amusement park.

Most captives don’t get treated that well, but then this whole business with the Technolutionary suggested she could be even more useful to me. I just didn’t want her seeing what I did to make my little power core.

Most pieces I requested were extraneous. Even with the other stuff I needed to do in order to create something functional, I didn’t want to leave anyone with an exact blueprint on this technology.

It reminded me of Technolutionary, Forcelight, and Venus. Forcelight’s company figured out how to make more of my nanites for their own benefit. They also put together an inferior set of power armor for Venus. Now the Technolutionary wants to save the world with cybernetics, most likely whether the world wants saving or not. Unless he’s also some sort of super biologist, I don’t think there’s a whole lot he can accomplish by poking around inside me, but I’m still at least emotionally opposed to being vivisected.

It would hurt.

But I’m sensing a pattern, here. This world is taking on traces of me. That’d be scary enough for most people, but this headlong rush is potentially dangerous. I bet that sounds hypocritical coming from me, but there’s a difference between isolated superbeings having access to these technologies and the mainstream marketing of such. The difference is the global impact. I believe people use the term “watershed moment” for what seems to be approaching. I don’t know what a watershed is or why people use them for momentous occasions, but I think this Earth is closing in on a disaster with the potential to turn extinction-level. And that’d be a stinker. That’d be an ex-stinker.

While y’all were busy seeing what I did there, nobody saw what I did in the safety of my own room. Even if the President had cameras in there, I made a pillow fort. Laugh all you want, but it worked, didn’t it? Yeah, I guess the joke’s on any spies right now. “I’m sorry, sir. Our cameras were unable to penetrate Fort Fluffenstuff. The cameras, the drones, the satellites, nothing could look through it. This shouldn’t have happened! Our equipment is foolproof!”

Of course, the problem with claiming anything is foolproof is that fools are often much more creative than whatever is supposed to stop them.

At last, it was ready. The moment of truth. That’s not to say it was a moment to tell the truth. This was a moment for me to find a secluded spot with a few syringes of nanites and sharp knife. As a handy way to power all my electronic parts as well as my armor, this particular power core is near and dear to my heart. Which is about where I put it. Luckily, it’s not the sort to generate enough heat to fry me from the inside out.

Still, holding that knife like that, I just had to stop and think. A year ago, I wouldn’t have mentioned this to y’all, but the cat’s out of the bag. The veil has been lifted. Y’all know the truth about me. With that comes a certain degree of… not truth. More like “fuck it all”. I mean, what are y’all going to do at this point, huh?

So I had the knife in my hand near slightly discolored patch on my chest from the last time I was opened up, when a part of me wondered if I should maybe accidentally do this without the syringes nearby. Completely accidentally on purpose. The thought flickered through my mind at first, like many thoughts do, but then another one floated to the surface that made me stop and think on this more seriously. “Do you have worth?”

Good question. I mean, it was pretty clear that one or two worlds would be better off without me. Moai doesn’t seem to have any goals of his own. Carl’s not even useful to me most of the time. He saved my ass recently, but that’s a bad thing for lots of people. Even my value as a source of scientific information has been greatly diminished by the proliferation of technology that I use.

That’s not even getting into the part where I constantly lash out because of my complete inability to properly fit into it. To be fair, that’s partially because it’s flawed and partially because I’ve been trained in the art of assholery for a long time. And that led, quite naturally, to a toilet drain spiral of delusion as I distract myself from both murderous impulses and these same thoughts with mindless debauchery like car wrestling.

I know I said some time back that a person shouldn’t give their enemies the satisfaction of seeing said person end his or her self, but I neglected to explain what to do if you are your own worst enemy. Sometimes, you tally up the score and find it a bit lopsided. I honestly don’t see a lot of good points. I can remember a few exciting times when I thought I had a real handle on the world. Believe it or not, I think there are times I was really happy. But what could anyone say now makes them proud of me?

Except that pretty much anyone I’ve ever known wouldn’t want to spend time with me unless I paid them. Probably because most of them have goals and ideals, and here I am fixated on my next diversion. And even if that could hurt me, I’ve become adept at hiding behind a smile. No one would ever know. Who thinks to look any deeper? Who cares?

Am I just going to wake up someday and find out I’m some homeless crazy who fled into an imaginary world of superheroes and villains to escape a life I couldn’t handle? Or is that what I already am?

Wait, wait. Obviously, I must be kidding about this, about all this. Who looks up Psycho Gecko and counts on seeing a villain weighing his self loathing, huh? This would be a horrible thing to read. Not funny in the least. So obviously that was all a joke. A big, bad joke. Ha ha.

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

Now that that the unfunny joke is out of the way, there was something very important I needed to get off my chest. Skin. It was time to take the plunge. Not a bad follow-up joke, eh? It was a real gut buster as I slid the blade into the flesh below my rib cage. I didn’t want to waste time going through ribs. Under the ribs and then up past them has been a great spot to aim for so many people throughout the years.

And the rib bone’s connected to the lung bone. The lung bone’s connected to the spinal bone. The spinal bone’s a little too far, let’s back up to the heart bone. And the wheels on the bus go squish, squish, squish. And Bingo was his name-o.

I stopped laughing in the middle of all that. Not easy to make air noises with your face hole while your chest cavity is opened. Or when your chest cavity gets closed by reconstructive nanites but you’ve been left in an incredible amount of pain. I closed my eyes and just tried to sleep off the mending process. Just shut down the conscious mind and wake up when the pain left town.

Then, I felt the nerves light up when they made the connection. Power began to flow through my body. It wasn’t much at first, as the core had to build up to what amounted to a  table supply, but I felt different all the same. Like being hooked up to an intravenous energy drink drip again after an absence away from that jiggle juice.

And I began thinking back over another fleeting thought of my wandering mind when it wanted to sleep off the pain.

This world tour’s not over yet. Feel free to come along with me if you don’t mind the occasional glimpse into my mind. And just because my life’s a joke doesn’t mean we can’t laugh.

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Psychos of the Caribbean 10

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Fee, fi, fo, fum, I smell a serious lack of rum. And food. And toilet paper. Days after slaying Mr. Gold, we were still stranded here. It didn’t really matter that I kidnapped Penny, either, except I had to take care of her. This is why some people shouldn’t have pets. I should never be responsible for another living being. Hell, I neglect Moai a lot of the time and he’s not even technically alive. Usually, I give whatever poor sap who lives with me a chance to forage for themselves. And yes, I’ve cooked for them on occasion. But on occasion isn’t the same as every day straight.

Plus, have y’all ever tried to feed anybody tied up in ropes? It’s horrible, especially if they’re a biter. Then you have to do something to their mouth and blend the food to a liquid. I don’t care how much you love cheeseburgers, nobody wants to eat a liquid burger.

I didn’t cover up Penny’s mouth. I should have, I suppose, but once she got the initial outrage out of her system, she hurl as much invective at me and the guys. That doesn’t mean she didn’t give us some lip. After noting that the place was running low on fresh water, food, and toilet paper, she spoke up to say “This wouldn’t have happened if you didn’t kill a man for no reason.”

I shoved a Burrito Bell mini-Amigo Burrito into her open mouth to shut her up. “I killed him for a perfectly good reason. I wanted to. Works for me. After all, I can’t be too evil if everyone I kill was asking for it.” Actually, I can. I’m just a cynical enough asshole to know everyone is asking for it. There’s a reason I know all the words to “Epiphany” from Sweeney Todd.

But seriously, it would be stupid if I had an excuse for every body I killed. Did Genghis Khan have a good excuse when he nailed Muslim envoys’ turbans to their heads? Did Ahab have a good excuse for hunting that damn white whale to the ends of the Earth? Does your cat have a good excuse for plotting to murder you in your sleep next Tuesday? Stop! Don’t turn around. It mustn’t suspect you know.

But, yeah, this place relied heavily on regular shipments of supplies from the mainland. Something about the giant freezers being torn apart as an unnecessary relic to collectivism and statism or something, to read Gold’s notes on it. Good thing he’s on ice now. As for me, I just wanted to leave, but then the announcement went out. I’m not sure why they waited so long, but the shortage seems reasonable for why that day, of any of them, the old speakers crackled to life.

“Citizens of Libersea.” Ok, so it addressed more than just me. “And our guest, Psycho Gecko.” See? I got my own part of the announcement. Yay! “You’re all going to die on this station.” Not so yay. “Apart from a select few of you, that is.” Yay? “For I need test subjects.” No fucking yay.

My commentary aside, there wasn’t much to the message. “I control the weather keeping you all here on this old sea fortress. I invite any who seeks escape to take the elevator down and try me.”

Interesting. A trap that the prey chooses to walk into. Given the choice between certain death and uncertain death, people often choose the uncertain death. Of course, that’s a matter of perspective. As someone who frequently uses that very tactic, I know that it’s usually just a choice between two different kinds of certain death. The difference is that one version allows a mastermind such as myself to control an enemy through hope.

So after the speakers ceased their crackling, I just plopped on my bed there in the suite and resolved to not bother right then. Maybe I could find a way around it?

“Of course you aren’t going to do something. That would be helping, wouldn’t it?” Penny asked. Carl glanced at her and shook his head, then returned to cleaning his minipistol. Moai didn’t even look up from his whittling.

“He wants people to go down there. He has a trap set up down there. It won’t help if I go down there and get killed.” I snuggled against the mattress and began spooning with a pillow.

“It’s the only choice besides starving,” she said wistfully, lowering her face to stare at the floor or perhaps her tied-up body.

“Don’t be silly. We’ll all die of dehydration before we have time to starve,” I said to comfort her. She started sobbing. “If you want to help, maybe tell me who that was. Gold’s dead, right? That was him up there. So who is downstairs?” I sat up. Hooking my foot around the leg of Penny’s chair, I pulled her closer.

“A scientist. I never found his name. His deal was with my boss. I made out the checks to a corporate account, some generic name. I’ve heard so many they blend together. It was Globodyne or Penetrode or Initech. He only passed through the upper floors for as long as it took him to move his stuff to the elevator. I never saw him up here after that.

This just kept getting interestinger and interestinger. “He upgraded the weather beacons.”

“I think,” Penny said, nodding along.

“Carl,” I said, motioning to the rope. Carl stood up and pulled a knife out of a sheath behind his back. That got Penny panicking. She kicked and screamed up until she felt the ropes loosen up and fall away from around her. I leaned back on the pillow I’d previously been spooning with. “Huh. After seeing this place, I figured your boss’s science team was as overblown as the rest of his little vision here. Before I came here, I actually wanted to meet the person responsible for all the real damage to Isla Tropica. Looks like the feeling’s mutual. Did he look unusual at all? You know, like glowing eyes or extra limbs?”

Penny missed the question at first. Too caught up in massaging where the ropes pressed against her the tightest. When I repeated myself, she answered back. “He looked skinny.”

That’s a no. Unless he had the power of being skinny. It’s a real power. They just have to turn sideways to avoid bullets. On the bad side, they’re pretty much screwed if even one hits them. Or if pretty much anything his them. Or if it gets cold. Speaking of skinniness, it gave me an idea.

“How does he get food down there?” I asked.

Penny’s face shot up as she rubbed at her wrists. “My boss has some of it sent down to him.”

I pulled her out of the chair by her blouse and held her in front of my face. “I need to know this…are there any cameras at all on the main level the guy down there could be watching us through?”

She shook her head. Yay. I threw on my armor and got out into the hall to do some classic taunting.

After a little bit of rooting around in one of the electrical boxes and hunting down the newer wiring that led to the speakers, I decided to send a message of my own with the aid of a handy microphone that some guy wanted to charge me too much for. He found my counteroffer a foot up his asshole. “Dear ladies and gentlemen of Libersea, as well as our basement-dwelling guest who wishes us dead or in test tubes. I have no intention of putting on a test tube top. I don’t have the stomach for it. Belly’s just not concave enough. While this situation may be enough to convex even the sharpest of minds, I have realized something very important. You aren’t going anywhere either. Seaplane, boat, helicopter; the way in is up here. So the people up here are looking at a food shortage…and so are you. So what we’ve got here is one man besieged without an exit by a horde of hungry folks who need to be rid of you to be safe. Isn’t that right?”

The gathering crowd gave a halfhearted cheer. I popped out the Nasty Surprise and turned my head to glance back at them. “I said, is that right?” They got behind me in a hurry that time.

I cleared my throat before going on, picking up a rhythm in my speaking. “Heya guy, it’s Psycho, from the suite up the shaft. Good to see ya buddy, how ya been? Things have been ok for me except that I’m a zombie now. I really wish you’d let us in. I think I speak for all of us- come on everybody, join in – when I say I understand why you folks may hesitate to submit to our demand.” Figuring people just didn’t know the lyrics, I threw the lyrics up in the air via hologram.

“But here’s an FYI, you’re gonna die screaming all we wanna do is eat your brains! We’re not unreasonable, I mean no one’s gonna eat your eyes.” Finally, people started joining in. “All we wanna do is eat your brains. We’re at an impasse here, maybe we should compromise. If you open the door, we’ll all come inside and eat your braaaaaaaaain!”

I walked over to the elevator Carl told me about. Not the same one I went up in, but the one that had stayed locked down. “I don’t want to nitpick, Tom, but is this really your plan? Spend you whole life locked inside a mall? Maybe that’s ok for now, but someday you’ll be out of food and guns, then you’ll have to make the call.”

The rest of my conscripted zombie hoard kept on singing up awhile. I think things started to get awkward, but then the elevator started moving.

It’s also possible that I reminded him that, if people start dropping, I had far more bodies to chew on when the food ran out. But what do I know? I’m just the crazy guy, not a master of psychological warfare or anything.

I expected a confrontation with the man behind the man really behind the attacks on Isla Tropica. Instead, he sent his zombies. His robots, really. I saw the cage rise with a bunch of men and women with shaved, scarred heads. They stood perfectly still as they stared blankly ahead, and I mean perfectly. Most twitch a little or engage in small gestures that they don’t even think about. Nope. These were all still.

They were the robot people. The cyber…dudes, maybe? I’m bad at thinking up names. Needless to say, most of the people backing me up didn’t want any part. When the doors opened, most them ran away from the oncoming mob. At least a few of the guys with guns pointed them in the right direction, though their accuracy was shit. That’s what happens when you take the lowest offer on protection.

I ran into the crowd of robot zombie people, though. I took a head off with the Nasty Surprise, spun, grabbed one in a headlock, and used him to brace myself for a flip that wrenched his head off. I used that head to stave in another head, then jumped. I landed on a pair of the robot people, wrapping my calves around one neck and my forearms around another. Then I flipped them both forward, driving their heads into the hard floor. Getting back to my feet was as simple as a pushup with the muscle enhancers.

Through all of this, I noticed the elevator head down again. Reinforcements? If I could get to it in time to hitch a ride, I could take this guy unawares. He’d likely have his traps or defenses offline to account for sending his robots out.

When the elevator arrived again after a short minute, that proved easier said than done. These weren’t just people with some internal robot parts. These things were cyborgs. Some of the men were all big and ripped, like body builders. Metal broke the skin on their arms, chests, and faces. Some of the others were smaller, with blades instead of hands. I saw a couple had gun barrels sticking out of their mouths and laser sights in place of eyes.

I jumped into the air about twenty feet, or however high the second story ceiling was, and jammed the Nasty Surprise into metal to hold on for a moment. My second jump rocketed me toward the elevator. Dun dun dun dun dun, dun da-dun!

I took the head off one of the mouth gunners as I skidded to a kneeling halt in the elevator. A laser beam shot out of its mouth, taking the head off another of its compatriots. I sliced through another couple of them before the beam stopped and the laser targeting eyes stopped. Stomping it on the floor of the elevator put an end to any chance of resurrection.

The elevator opened after a hasty ride to reveal some treaded robot with two arms carrying a three-foot device toward the elevator. It had a rectangular cuboid head with one giant eye camera in the middle of it. When it saw me, protective shutters around the eye drew back, making it look wider. I rushed forward and took its head off with the Surprise, causing it to drop the gadget with a thud.

The thud prompted movement. Something jumped at the sound. The something turned out to be a thin man in a lab coat. He turned from a computer station to see that he couldn’t see me. I was invisible. The guy saw the beheaded robot and ran for a curtain to the side of the computer station. I ran for it too, once I saw the direction he was headed. I didn’t make it before a purple light blasted the room in a wide angle and a suit of power armor shot into the air.

It was one hell of a suit. Very close light blue and purple plates finished shifting closed over the front of the body. It was all very tight, very much customized to one particular body. The faceplate looked like a purple metal face staring down at me with all the emotion of the robots upstairs, though the eyes were replaced with lenses that themselves resembled eyes. When he spoke, his voice reverberated with a bit of an edge from the speakers boosting the sound. Like a very close echo.

“Psycho Gecko. We meet at last.” He raised one wrist and tapped at buttons or something, not looking around.

“No, we meet at first!” I said, moving well away from where I spoke before throwing myself into the air for to grab hold of him. At the last moment, he turned his face and pointed his fist right at me. A purple beam shot out from a forearm panel and knocked me back. Knocked me back. That’s significant. Plasma, lasers, masers, and spasers wouldn’t have managed that. No significant mass to them.

I fell back onto a railing and then the floor under it, but at least it gave me a view of the jet pack on this guy’s back. Good. He wouldn’t stay up indefinitely. Those things tend to have fuel problems. His armor also looked like it couldn’t carry too much in the way of power…well, except this was probably the guy with the hockey puck nuclear generators.

“I hoped you would listen to me, but I prepared for your usual response,” the man in the armor said. “I should mention I know exactly where you are.” He turned and looked right at me to emphasize the point. I decloaked.

“Ok, so you know a bit more about me than I do about you. But it’s a little hard to expect me to listen when you made a big announcement about putting me in a tube top. Nobody puts baby in a tube top.” I pointed at him, then raised the finger and shook it from side to side as I stood up.

He tilted his head to the side. “Yes, but I didn’t mean that for you. You and I have so much to talk about. So much to collaborate on. That’s why I lured you here.”

I strolled around this little lab casually, making sure not to turn and stare as my 360 display pointed out the weather control interface, the robot brain drives, and the tactical nuclear weapon. That one turned out to be the thing the robot dropped. Ok, that one I stopped to look at. “Yeah, sure. Talk. That’s what you wanted to do with that thing.”

He scoffed. “You could survive it somehow. I’ve watched you. I have every ounce of data possible to dig up on you.”

That’s not strange at all. I put my hands on my hips and looked up at him, wondering when that damn pack would run out of fuel. Or if it ran on fuel. “What did I do to have you comb through my garbage for used underwear? I kill someone you loved? Someone you hated?”

He shook his head, waving hands emphasizing the misunderstanding. “No, no, no, no, no! You are beautiful. You are important to my research. You are the evolution of humanity. I seek what you have…evolution to a higher level of being through integration with advanced technology.”

“Some would argue that I’m not exactly an exemplary model despite being what you think of as more highly evolved.” I stepped a bit closer to the weather machine.

Before I could touch it, the man fired another burst of purple light in my direction. I dodged back. This time, the glow remained as a rounded forcefield formed between myself and the machine. So that’s what he’s doing…an actual forcefield.

“Stop! This is important. Just listen. I understand you. You are right to spit on humanity. Pteh!” He mimicked said spitting, then reached up to rub a hand over the metal mouth on the head of his armor. “Oh dear. I didn’t think that through.” Ha! Too bad it wasn’t a loogie. “Humans are horrible to one another. War, disease, struggles for resources. But I can change it. I must change it, because I can. Evolution guided solely by the environment has reached the end of its usefulness for civilization. It is time mankind took his destiny into his own hands.”

He raised a hand to the air. “I can shape the evolution of mankind. I have the ability to upgrade humanity. For that, I need you and your amazing physiology.” The hand fell so that he held it out toward me.

I shook my head and stepped forward. “Nope. That’s horrible! I know we’re making Star Whores: The Milf Awakens here, but you need to stop acting like a fucking Hamlet reject! Even porn audiences have their limit.” I threw down a holographic script. “Somebody get me Casting, I’m gonna have to ream somebody for this. What do you even call yourself, kid?”

He stared at me. “I’m thirty years old, not some delusional kid who thinks he has all the answers. I am the Technolutionary. I have a dream and we can make this place better. More like your home. More advanced. You must feel like Nikola Tesla surrounded by cavemen! I want to tear down this backwards culture, to build something better from the ashes. Something that will bring the world together and make people right.”

Poor bastard. He’s spent so long wrapped up in his theories that he’s gone cuckoo. Utterly detached from normal reasoning. And if those robots were anything to go by, his priorities are solely about getting what he wants rather than conventional ideas of morality and immorality.

I liked this guy. His idea was stupid, but I liked him. “The people on this planet can’t even handle skin colors after a few thousand years, but you want to give them all a bunch of cybernetics? Assholes can’t drive right and you want to strap them into jet packs like you got there?” I pointed at his torso. “Don’t get me wrong, your vision isn’t completely bad. It’ll kill a lot of people, I guarantee you. Or are those folks you sent upstairs just a little more reserved about how much better they feel?”

“What a jumbled response. Those people are experiments. Prototypes. Cybernetic integration is difficult on normal humans. That’s why I wanted you here.”

“That’s right!” I said, wandering around to nonchalantly reach the edge of the forcefield between me and the weather machine. “You mentioned that already. You brought me here? You convinced Gold to fly me in?” I clenched my fists, powering up the energy sheaths.

“I knew you were on Isla Tropica. I hacked the CIA. They don’t want to pursue you into other countries because then you are not their problem. When you didn’t attack Libersea on your own, I gave Gold the idea to hire you.”

I gotta be honest, I really have no desire to save the world. And even though it may just cause another world war instead, I also have no desire to somehow make a bunch more people with my abilities. I like being unique. I’m like a homicidal snowflake.

Plus, even though I already knew everything revolved around me, this guy was, like, watching me jack it and stuff. And he wasn’t even paying by credit card for the privilege. Fuck it, I’ll just go through the forcefield.

I punched the field. The energy surrounding my fist counteracted the field and dispersed it, opening the way to the weather device. Except another force blast hit in front of me and generated another one. I repowered the sheath and jumped onto a nearby databank. The Technolutionary adjusted his aim and fired again.

For the first time in years, I got to use the sheaths for something like their original purpose. The Justice Rangers didn’t use force blasts or forcefields, though. This time, I brought my fists together and deflected the blast right back at the Technolutionary. It rocked him back in the air and formed a sphere that trapped him. I cartwheeled to the side, landed on the weather controller, and plunged my hand into it. Metal crumpled like Kleenex in the hands of an excited teenage boy as I reached in and wrecked the system.

My display showed the Technolutionary at work with his forearm panel and blaster, reversing some polarity or whatever freaky science he used. While he busied himself with that, I stepped on over to the nuclear bomb. Unsealing a gauntlet freed a hand for me to reach down and use my powers on a panel to arm it.

The Technolutionary almost caught me unawares while I fixated on the bomb. I grabbed my gauntlet and jumped back in time to avoid getting caught in another spherical field that held the bomb. Laughing at him, I waved with my naked hand, then slipped the gauntlet for that hand under my arm. “What are the odds you’re going to be able to contain that, eh?”

He said something as he fired. I didn’t catch it. I threw a punch at the blast, catching it off center and deflecting it off to the side, where it struck a computer station. The lights flickered.

“No, no, no, no, NO!” he said, gliding over to the computer. He kept one eye and the blaster on me as he sifted through the damage. I took the opportunity to try and run for it…except the elevator was up. Did I do that when I hit the computer, or was that something he did in the middle of all this?

Neither. When I saw the elevator lowered into view, it held Moai, Penny, and Carl. Penny stood at the wall where the controls used to be before they got blown open, tablet in hand as she manipulated something inside. As soon as the gates opened, Carl pulled the cap off his flask and swung it. The fluid inside created a thick smoke as it interacted with the air. I dove into the elevator behind the cover. “Up, up, up!”

The Technolutionary shot out of the smoke and upward at us to skim between the elevator and the wall. Tapping something on his arm panel, he stopped it and overrode the gate to open it up. The asshole aimed at me with his blaster. “You will come with me!”

It threw off his aim a bit when a large dildo slapped against the faceplate of his armor and blinded him. It gave me time to duck under and knock him back against the wall with my armored fist. I caught the dildo with the other hand and beat him in the head with it as well. He bounced off the wall once, twice, three times. I grinned as I heard his pack sputter and fail. He caught himself on the bottom edge of the platform with the panel arm, dangling. I stomped on the panel, causing the elevator to shoot down by a few feet, then up by a few feet. Sparks marked the death of that troublesome gizmo.

He swung his other arm up to fire at me, but I slapped it away with the dildo. “Can we get this thing moving soon, people?”

“On it!” said Carl and Penny simultaneously, working on wiring.

“Please,” Technolutionary pleaded, opening up the faceplate. I hit him upside his face with the dildo again. “Aaahmmm?!” he cried out in pain, then confusion as I shoved the dildo into his mouth, forcing it down. I twisted the base, adding the menacing hum of a vibrator to the threat. Unable to hold on, he let himself drop. Serendipitously, the elevator resumed rising.

I sat down on the ground and looked around for my dropped gauntlet. I’d lost it in all the confusion and wanted to get it back on. Carl tapped me on the shoulder as I got dressed again. “Boss, uhhhh, was that a bomb down there?”

“Yes it was, Carl,” I answered as if it was the most natural thing in the world.

“Is it a big bomb?”

“Nuclear, Carl. Tactical nuke, but still nuclear.”

“Oh shit,” Penny said softly.

I checked by HUD clock again. Ten minutes. I didn’t give it much of a timer, but it was better than the two minutes Technolutionary wanted to give me. “I’d prefer us to get off this thing as soon as possible. We’ll get a chance to see if there’s enough in that blast’s way to keep us safe.”

“It’s worse than that,” Penny broke in, “That was the support and power understructure. I don’t know how we would survive, but if we did, this place would sink.”

“So we’re all kinds of screwed,” I said as I stood up. “Except that the weather thingy is down. There are boats here, right?”

“The storm wrecked all of them, Boss,” Carl said with a shake of his head. He buried his face in his palm as the elevator stopped and the gate pulled open.

“My friend, are you in there!” called out a very welcome voice. I raced out to the landing to see the President’s yacht pulling up with an invasion force on deck.

“You son of a camel!” I called out. “What are you doing here?”

The President waved with his bullhorn, then said into it, “I got worried when I didn’t hear from you and decided to bring the cavalry. Did we come at a bad time?”

“Considering a nuclear bomb’s about to end this place, I’d say not!”

We got out of there in the nick of time, actually. Technolutionary was much closer to the deadline, though. We had pulled away when I saw something fly out of the landing and zip into the sky. Then Libersea quaked and shrapnel blew out of the top of a portion of it. A huge roar erupted form Libersea and my armor had to handle the EMP.

The yacht actually had it luckier. Everything to make it go was unaffected. The object in the sky, Technolutionary, didn’t plummet to a watery grave either. I guess he got that jetpack fixed enough to get away after all. He stayed there, watching us depart as Libersea groaned and sank.

I’ll see him again, but not tonight. For tonight I have rum. And tonight- shit, I left my bowler hat back there.

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Psychos of the Caribbean 8

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I received an interesting email through my page. Not this page that y’all are reading this on. The one where people tell me who they want killed. It’s an exclusive group of petitioners made up of people who have found the site and those who offer some serious cash.

So, anyway, I met a guy online, but I’m not sure it’ll work out. I’m a Pisces, and he’s an asshole. I’m just kidding. Even if my personality and fate were exactly the same as everyone else born in a particular time period, I don’t even have a birthday. I don’t mean I was grown in a tube or anything like that. I just wasn’t allowed to know it, and any attempt to celebrate it would have been met with a gunshot to the head. It sounds bad, but it’s a heartwarming tale that made me the man I am today.

And occasionally, I have very vivid dreams of that time period. While already awake. Sometimes I wake from them covered in blood, but that’s ok. I know how to get bloodstains out of fabric: more blood. It hides the original stain, so people suspect no wrongdoing at all! All this useful information floating around in my head, but they give shows to low-ranking criminals like Martha Stewart instead.

Instead, I received a request for my services from a man calling himself Mr. Gold. It’d be a perfectly reasonable alias in my circles. He stood out because he offered to talk over terms for an ongoing campaign after flying me out to his private sea nation.

That part interested me. It interested the President when I let him know. I let myself in with an unscheduled appointment at his office. Specifically, I tied my bed sheets to the balcony rail and swung down, smacking into some very strong glass and sliding down to rest on the office balcony. He swung the window open, knocking me over, and asked, “Problem, friend?”

Believe it or not, there wasn’t. “I think the guy you’ve been fighting wants to hire me to attack you.” I said, holding vodka ice cubes against my forehead in a rag. “He says his name is Mr. Gold. I don’t remember you ever telling me your guy’s name, but this guy wants to invite me out to his place out in the ocean.”

The President puffed away on his cigar, then blew out a trio of circles with the last two later ones small enough to fit inside the circle that came before. I think it formed a bullseye. “I do not believe I ever asked you what you thought about the idea of sacred hospitality,” the President said at last.

Two days later, a sea plane carried Carl, Moai, and me over waters of a different region of the ocean, bringing us to see this majestic seasteader utopia. Carl kept tapping his foot against the floor. “Nervous?” I asked. “I know sea travel hasn’t exactly been kind to you, but I thought you’d handle the air a little better.”

“I wondered what I’m doing here. There hasn’t been a lot I could help you out with lately.”

I nodded. “I get that. But luckily, I have just the thing in mind for you.” I pulled out a bag I brought along. “You’re going to be my spy.” I glanced at the pilot. He was way up at the front and we were way at the back. And if Gold happened to bug his own plane, I’d just have to deal with it. On the plus side, he’s hopefully cowed enough by my reputation to not risk me finding a bug.

It’s a risk, sure, but lots of great plans come with risks. Like barricading one part of a road with a firetruck on fire. Maybe the cops will decide, against all protocol, to take a slower route by heading through the oncoming lane. But they’ll probably just pick a nearby parallel route that won’t slow them down dealing with cars coming the other direction.

“Aren’t you better at that?” he asked.

“Yeah, but they know that, too. That’s part of why this Gold guy invited me along. And Moai’s too conspicuous. I need someone they won’t pay attention to. I don’t know what the scene’s going to be like there, but I figure none of them are likely to pay attention to you as long as I say you’re hired help. Also, I have gadgets for you.” I pulled out a pack of cigarettes.

“I don’t smoke,” Carl said, taking the pack from me and examining them.

“Good, those things will kill ya. Literally. If they have a red line between the filter and the cigarette, they’ll explode two seconds after being lit. It’s enough to kill someone if it’s in their mouth. If it’s in their hand, they won’t be fully disarmed, but they will be dishanded. Or is that unhanded. The President’s people helped me with those. They’re similar to the cigars the CIA tried to use on Castro.”

Carl looked over the Surgeon General’s warning, which mentioned that smoking was deadly and could lead to increased risk of death. “Anything else?”

I handed him a flask. “You don’t want to drink that. It’s not deadly or anything; it’ll dissolve before you can do anything. A few drops of that will react to the air and generate a thick cloud of smoke. That’ll come in handy for keeping people from seeing things or breathing as easily.”

“Wouldn’t this have worked better in the cigarettes?” Carl pocketed the flask.

“Don’t be ridiculous. Cigarettes that create smoke? That’s just what they would have expected.”

“Huh?”

I shook my head and slapped my palm with the back of my other hand’s fingers. “Think it through. If people see an area with a lot of smoke, some of them might get clever and realize a guy with cigarettes may have caused it. What will they find when they test your cigarettes? Explosives, but nothing that gives off smoke. They’ll have to realize you couldn’t have done it.”

Carl raised his hand. “What if I already blew someone’s head off with the cigarettes?”

“Well then you’re fucked. And speaking of fucked,” I reached in and pulled out the item that every one of my dear readers knew would show up in a gadget. I slapped the dildo into Carl’s hand, causing it to jiggle a bit. Carl started to drop it, but I held it in his hand and closed his fingers around it. “It’s ok. This is important for you.”

“Boss, is this another joke?” He looked uncomfortable holding a dildo with another man. See, this is where it’d be easier if I was a woman. I mean sure, men control the vast majority of legislatures, executive offices, judiciaries, corporations, and militaries, but women have it slightly easier around dildos and the opposite sex. That’s where the world’s true power lies, anyway.

“Inside here is a flash drive.” I showed him the base of it, where a USB popped out behind the ball sack. “You can use it to store sensitive information. Better yet, you can hide it up your ass.”

“Hey, I know people might check there,” he said, trying to pull his hand away from mine. I laid my other hand over his to hold it there.

“You’re not understanding yet, just like with the cigarettes. They’ll check your ass for a flash drive or something. If they find a dildo in there, they’ll just think you’re a little kinky.” This is simple logic. I don’t understand how anyone could fail to grasp it.

“Boss, it’s got suction cups on it. Don’t tell me you expect me to climb on the side of a building with this.”

“Don’t be ridiculous, Carl. That’s there to help you keep your grip under pressure.”

“It’s blue.”

“I didn’t realize you had anything against blue people. I thought someone like you could look past a man’s skin color to what’s on the inside.”

“It’s not that boss! Uh, and boss? It’s…uh…vibrating.”

I rolled my eyes. “Carl, they make really lifelike dildos these days. This one’s so good, it almost vibrates as fast as I do.”

“As fast as you…?” He looked down between my legs.

“Hey, my eyes are up here,” I told him, and let go of the dildo. Then I pulled out the last gift for him.

Carl read the name off the bottle. “It’s jelly lubricant. Is it really acid that melts locks or glue to trap people?”

“Well, I didn’t want to assume anything about your sexual habits, so I figured it couldn’t hurt to get you some help for when you’re shoving the data penetrator up your hiney hole.” I handed him the bottle. “Congratulations, you’ve got everything you need to be a secret agent.”

Carl glanced at the flask, lube, and dildo, the cigarettes already away in his pocket. Then he looked back up at me. “I look like I’m going to an orgy.”

I shrugged. “Well it definitely blends in better around a bunch of rich hedonists. Just dig up what you can, and let me know if those tools are inadequate. Except for the data penetrator. If that thing’s inadequate, then your girlfriend’s into bestiality.”

Carl glared at me, then put all his newfound treasures away inside his luggage. I then slipped out a white coat with fuzzy white trim and a pair of stupid-looking shutter shades. If you’re wondering what had to be done to them to make them look stupid, the answer is nothing. Shutter shades always look stupid. Carl sighed. “Is that my secret agent costume?”

“Nope,” I said, putting them on. I then pulled out an eyeliner pencil and started adding some theatrical upward swirls to my eyebrows. “This is my costume. Always come dressed for the war you want, not the war you’re fighting. Wait a second, that motivational phrase sounds like utter bullshit now that I’ve put it into perspective. While you’re slinking about the place, I’ll be stalling this asshole for as long as possible while teasing him along. So if you get caught and tortured, just remember: pain is weakness leaving the body. Damn, did it again.”

“Hey!” the pilot shouted from up front. “We’re about to come on down! Everyone brace yourselves for landing!”

“Brace yourselves.” I looked to Carl and Moai. “Now that’s a phrase that inspires confidence in a pilot. It’s right up there with ‘can somebody hold my beer while I fly the plane?’”

At that, Carl began to frantically buckle his seat belt. I rolled my eyes yet again. “Carl, relax. Believe it or not, the human body can take a hell of a lot of punishment.”

“Tell that to my broken neck if we crash.”

I leaned back and put my feet up on the back of the seat in front of me. “Carl, a few light bumps couldn’t just break your neck. It takes some real effort, like a crash or a few guys working you over in the back of a van or something.”

Despite Carl sinking so far into his seat he could have been cosplaying the Warhammer 40k Emperor, we had a safe but bumpy landing. When we pulled up in front of the landing, I smiled over at my pair of henchmen. “Moai, you’re officially my sane but accommodating personal assistant. I’m sure it’ll be a stretched.” I then whipped out the coupe deville: a bowler hat. Black, with a peacock feather through a hot pink band. Because fezzes are lame and cowboy hats suck, but bowler hats are cool forever.

Then I stepped out onto a rusty paradise and announced my presence. “Did anybody order a slice of ham?!” Ok, not really. That’s just an accurate translation. What I actually said was, “Ah, another part of the world to be enlightened by my presence!” I looked around at the rusty retro-style hotel that Mr. Gold set up in. “Good grief, do they even have lights in this part of the world?”

“Hello! Greetings. Salutations. Hi,” a cheery woman with chin-length hair said as she stepped forward Business skirt, white shirt, sleeves rolled up, flat shoes. Assistant? I expected any secretary of Gold’s would be stuck tripping around in heels. Dangerous in the middle of the ocean. And on land, for that matter. Take it from someone who has danced in them before. The assistant extended her hand, then realized she had a tablet and switched it back so she could hold her hand out in hope of a shake.

I glanced down at it. Instead, I grabbed her by the face and forced a kiss on her. After a strained second, she resigned herself. I let her go then before she could try to appease me by returning it. She wiped her lips, hiding her expression from me. Her eyes flitted over me, narrowing just enough for a hint at what she thought. I may have gone too far with that one, but I’d have to read Gold’s reaction to it.

I looked her up and down. “Yeah, nice to meet you. I think we can work together. But first, the M&Ms.”

“I’m sorry?” she asked, checking the tablet. I caught connected to the local network and got in, making a slight alteration or two to the message where I laid out terms for showing up and hearing Gold’s proposal. If he wanted to fly me out and work on a contract for the utter destruction of an archipelago, then he needed to cover my room and provide a few amenities. Including having M&Ms nearby for me at all times. “I’m sorry, this is only a minor oversight. If you’d like, I can show you to your suite and have them deliver M&Ms for you there.”

“Hmmph! I see you barely respect me enough to feed me, let alone negotiate with me. If this is the hospitality I can expect here, I shall be in my room!” I clapped my hands. “Come, Moai.” I walked past the woman, who hurried to keep up.

“Sir, if that’s what you’re going to do, I’m trying to show you to your rooms. Please, don’t be upset. I hear splendid things about your work, Mr. Gecko.” She reached out and touched me on the shoulder.

I stopped immediately and whipped my head toward her, my shades falling down the brim of my nose to give me a better view of her above them. With my hand on my other side, I motioned for Carl to move past us and go on his way. “Bitch, my work is fabulous!” I threw my head back, whipping my hair around and moving my glasses back up the bridge of my nose. “And you mustn’t call me Gecko. My name is not Gecko. I am not an animal. You must call me Ferdinand! Psycho Gecko is my stage name.” I raised my hand to the sky, but only so far as my head. It’s a drama thing. This little seasteader utopia? Yeah, it’s going to be my own personal drama island. A total drama island.

The assistant maintained her smile, but I noticed her teeth grinding just slightly. “Right, I apologize. This is my mistake. I’m not used to working with someone as renowned and fabulous as yourself, Ferdinand. Please, if you want to report me to my boss, Mr. Gold will send me for you later once you have time to settle in and refresh yourself. I’m Penny, by the way. So you know who to report.”

“Yes, Penny’s,” and here I should note that I pronounced that closer to “penis” “a good name. You might be nice to know after all. Now, get me to my room.”

They gave me such a big suite. I almost felt bad for torturing Penny like that, but that requires having a conscience and not being an insane serial killing mass murderer terrorist with a heart of explosive. Still, it allowed me to stall negotiations as, even when she came back with a large bowl of M&Ms, her tablet now specified that there were to be no blue M&Ms.

“If you keep this up, you can tell your boss he blue,” I emphasized the pun for her, “his best chance at getting the best and most exclusive assassin in the history of the world. You’ve heard of Kurt Cobain, David Carradine, and Sean Connery?”

“Yes, but Cobain and Carradine were suicide,” her muffled voice responded through the door.

“Like I said, the best assassin in the history of the world.” I yelled at the door from the bed. They definitely did that fucking bed right. It felt like laying on jellied geese.

“What does Sean Connery have to do with this? He’s still alive.”

“His acting career isn’t, and this deal won’t be either if you and your boss don’t begin shaping things up around here!” I pointed at Moai, then at the door. He bounced over and opened it to look into the face of the beleaguered woman, then slammed it.

Which didn’t cause nearly as much frustration as a new entry appeared, a notice stating that I never attend to business on Wednesdays because that day I spend purging myself of negative thoughts through meditation, contemplation, and yoga.

Turns out that lady has some anger issues. She really ought to do something about that. Like take up yoga.

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Psychos of the Caribbean 7

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I’m getting good at boarding enemy ships. I traveled by crate again, but this time I squeezed into a smaller one than my luxury crate with the study. I looked innocent enough in my little crate, though. Innocent like a fox! A killer fox with a leather jacket and an eyepatch and a motorcycle. And his girlfriend is an otter whore with a heart of gold. Together, they travel around and solve crimes in all sorts of locations. This summer, coming to a TV screen near you, it’s…Foxxed Up.

Eh, it’ll never work. Executives will insist that the cute talking animals are for kids no matter how much you depict them cussing in the pilot. As if hollowing out a pilot’s body wasn’t an indicator enough.

But enough picking the next big hit show. It passed the time adequately enough while stuck in a box, but soon it was time to think outside the box. Luckily, I had a handy tool to bust my way out. I stabbed through the side of the wood crate with a small length of metal pole. I knocked enough holes to force myself out, then stood up, petting the taxidermied bird. Acting in my capacity as a pirate, I decided I needed a bird when heading out on this venture.

But I considered black to be a better color, so I stuck a crow on the end of it.

I glanced down to see what they’d labeled me as. “Nuts, 100% Completamente”. Somebody had fun imagining the guards reading that. I got a slight chuckle. I used my crowbar to pop the lock off a pair of crates next to me. The tall one’s side read “Life-size Rocky statue” with a stencil of Sylvester Stallone before it fell away to show Moai. They didn’t even try for the last one. “Man Eating Shark.”

When I cracked that one open, Carl smiled at me and chewed on some sushi. “Hey boss, they packed me a lunch before we left.” He held up the bag from Serafina’s Shark Sushi Shack. You’d be amazed what people in other countries can trick gullible tourists into eating. I think the President told me the Shark Shack was trying to develop their own version of the fortune cookie. I predict a lot of people are going to be…disappointed! Behold my phenomenal powers of clairvoyancy!

Technically, I had another crate I could have opened up for some help, but I planned to use the contents of that for the big finale.

Together, we set out to right wrongs and save a small island nation from starvation. Possibly while wearing leather jackets, riding motorcycles, and being foxes that are into female otters. Ok, ok, we didn’t! But I’m telling you, it’ll be a hit, especially once we introduce the series-long story arc of dealing with the world’s banana population gaining sentience like a slippery Skynet.

I kept Moai in back in case someone opened up, and I stayed in front. I had the benefit of my armor, powered by a nifty backpack setup I made out of the hockey puck-like nuclear power cell I stole out of the weather control buoy. Some day, I’ll have to find the motherpucker that made it. Between Moai and I, Carl kept his pistol and a Tropican knockoff AK ready to provide ranged firepower.

While guns are a tool for the unimaginative to use when they’re out of ideas, I do like being able to reach out and touch someone in bad places from a distance. Sadly, it’s unlikely I’ll find some method of stretching out my arms to molest my foes from afar. Besides, I’m sure I’d find better things to do if I figured out how to make parts of my body stretch.

It was a moot point. I didn’t find anything but a few members of the crew. I smacked them into line with a few well-placed hits from the crowbar and forced them all into the bridge. These fruit people didn’t give a shit about their boat, either. This was one old-fashioned piece of shit. I couldn’t pilot it. Neither could Carl or Moai. So I turned to the crew, glaring at them through my visor and pointing to the For good measure, I altered my voice to sound deeper. “Does anyone want to live?”

One man rushed forward, but another put his arm in front of him. “He can’t go anywhere unless we help him. He can’t kill us.” The others murmured agreement.

I hooked the man’s head with the crow and tugged him toward me. “Good point,” I told him. Then, to the others I said, “What if I sweeten the pot with a balloon animal?”

I tossed the bar to Carl for safekeeping while I set to work on the man who objected. I’m not gonna lie; it wasn’t my best work. I’m not actually trained in balloon animals or any formal clown warfare, like ladders and seltzer water. I think I’ve learned enough about pies, though.

“Ta da! How do you like your new…” I looked at what I held in my arms “…Portuguese Man O’War?”

They quickly set to work turning that ship around. I looked down at the bundle in my arms. “The thing about someone like you with their head up their own ass is that they should appreciate just how much it hurts. Betcha didn’t even think it was literally possible, did you?” I laughed. “Ha! Who needs ribs anyway?” I walked over to the side of the ship and tossed him overboard. “Fly free!”

“Boss,” Carl said. Glancing in the 360 display, I saw someone reaching for the radio.

“Get ’em,” I said. Carl pulled his minipistol, the barrels spinning briefly before lighting up with a burst of fire. The crewman dropped the transmitter as the radio burst apart. Then Carl ran over to it and beat it over and over again with the crowbar before tossing the tool to the side. I turned and walked over to the one who tried to call for help.

He held up his hands. “Please,” he pleaded. “Y-you can’t even call our destination now.”

I held up a hand. Thanks to the power of holograms, a telephone appeared within. I stepped out of the way to show off the illusionary payphone booth behind me. “I have my ways.” I stepped inside it, closed the door, and punched in some numbers. Then an antenna popped out of the top of it and lit up with electricity that soon flowed down over the booth as it disappeared into a portal along the floor.

The crew stared at the spot, amazed. Then the one who tried for the radio looked at Moai and Carl, doing some mental calculations. Most likely deciding if he could take them.

I didn’t know how many of them it would have taken to dislodge my minions from the ship, but I knew how many they were gonna lose.

The phone booth shot out of the floor behind that guy, opening up. I shoved my hand through the man’s pants and up his ass as I rose. His head bounced off the ceiling of the bridge compartment as I stood up all the way. I stepped all the way out of the booth, which then faded away with a wheezing, groaning, cranking noise. “I think, eventually, y’all are going to understand how little patience I have. Even though I’m really hands on with colonoscopies, as you can all see, people don’t trust me as a doctor. Do you trust me as a doctor?”

The man on my arm groaned and cried in pain. I rolled my head to get across that I was rolling my eyes, “Oh, stop whining.” I rotated the man sixty-three degrees diagonally left and forward, but not in a forty-five degree angle or anything. I pushed him off my forearm and fist with a schloopy sound. I raised my fist, which now appeared to have a pair of googly eyes attached to the knuckles. I made it look me in the helmet and said, in gentle, high-pitched voice. “Let me tell you, man, I have seen some shit!”

As the asshole lay on the ground, clutching at his distended anus, I walked around him and gently kicked him in the head. Losing the googly eyes, I told him in a more normal voice, “And I think you got a medical problem. I’m pretty sure I felt a cavity in one of your molars while I was up there.”

I stepped up behind our pilot and put my arm around his shoulders. The dirty arm. “How’s our course?”

“It’s going to take us awhile to turn around. This isn’t a jet ski. Uh, I mean sir. It isn’t a jet ski, sir. Or…uh…Captain.”

I nodded and patted him on the shoulder. “The name’s Crunch.”

“Right, Captain Crunch.” He turned back to the controls. After a moment of thinking about it, I saw him get it.

“Good boy.” I rustled his hair as I turned away, then called up the President. “What’s up, pumpkin?”

“Nothing, nothing, lemonade. Everything is well?”

“More or less. I can use some hand sanitizer. We’re turning the boat around.” I noticed the crew watching me as I talked and even gestured to myself. They couldn’t hear the other side of the conversation.

“Don’t turn around. We will come to you.”

“Problem?” The question made one hostage cringe and back away. The only one who knew a bit of Spanish.

“I realized we can not bring it back to the islands or there would be too many witnesses. We need to destroy it elsewhere. I am coming by in my boat.”

“Hold on a second,” I told him. The mention of witnesses gave me an idea. Something I forgot to check for. I turned to the one who knew the Spanish. “Where’s that satellite signal coming from?” He pointed to a station at the rear of the bridge. Unsealing my dirty gauntlet, I slipped it off and pressed my hand to that. The controls to change the directions were too old, but this thing likely had a satellite transponder. No need to try and trace a satellite signal so long as the crew thinks I already know about one and believes they’ll die if they don’t tell me. I sent up a helpful burst of irrational gibberish to screw with the satellite. It’ll be lucky if it knows the moon from Uranus.

“Ok, I’m back,” I told the President. “And I think you were right about your best friend in the whole world being involved with this order. They didn’t have any guards at all. That’s not the appropriate level of stupid.”

“What is the appropriate level of stupid?” he asked.

“You warned them of trouble and about weather controlling. They seemed dumb enough to post guards, which would have been dumb because it’s weather. But not putting any armed guards suggests they’re either clever enough to know that, and they aren’t, or are too stupid to know that, and even they aren’t.” It’s true, by the way. Even if they were smart enough to figure out guards were useless, protocol would almost certainly have required the stupidity of posting guards. It’s a good answer for most times a bureaucracy does dumb things: somebody requires them to do something dumb.

“You forget a very important thing. They are arrogant because they have the United States on their side and we are nothing to them.” He made a disgusted spitting sound at that, prompting someone on his end to call out that he got that in their hair.

“Either way, they won’t be tracking us for awhile. How are you going to get this stuff off? The plan was turn it around because your freighters are elsewhere.”

“Let me worry about that. Let us know where you stop and start working on a method to sink the ship.”

They caught up to us about an hour later. As it turned out, the President’s plan involved his personal yacht, which had its own crane and was almost as big as the freighter itself. I asked him as I stepped on board, “This is too much, even for you. You could never afford this.”

The President lounged on the deck in a captain’s hat and Tropican flag swim trunks, his arms around two younger women. The one on his left kept wiping at something in her hair. “You would not believe the price of Fakecoins earlier today before someone sold a lot of them, Salamander.”

Have I mentioned before that I’m sometimes known in Spanish as Axolotl Xolotl? It rolls off the tongue better, and Spanish-speakers are all about rolling those tongues. One’s a Mexican salamander with unusual regenerative abilities; the other’s a Mexican psychopomp god associated with what some people call the evening star, which is actually the planet Venus. Otherwise, the Spanish word for gecko is just geco, but that’s not as fun as being a Mexican murder god of the salamanders.

“Why so sad, President?” I asked as the crane got to work unloading ridged metal containers onto the pristine wood flooring of the yacht.

He sighed and pointed at the floor where the first of the containers settled. “This floor is mahogany. It is not easy to get mahogany floors on a yacht!”

He was like that the entire time, sighing as each new container was offloaded. I had to wave them off my big surprise, which was the last one they would have grabbed. As we finished, I called over the side of the ship to the remaining crew on the freighter. “Ho there!” You’re free to go now! Better see how far you can get before I change my mind!”

It may have been meant to carry food, but that’s when it began hauling ass. The President watched, nervously. Finally, as they made good their escape to the horizon, he could stand it no longer. “You can not let them get away! They know too much. This is idiotic!”

“You’re right. It is. Never once did anybody question why someone would ship a container of chickens. Nothing but chickens.” I sent out a signal. Off in the distance, the container detonated, taking the ship with it. “Cocka-doodle-fuckin’-doo, fuckers.”

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Psychos of the Caribbean 6

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You know, the President claimed things were quieter than this usually. Tell that to the men in diving suits that attacked El Hierro. That’s the island in the archipelago that has all the mining. These tall, bulky divers marched out of the surf and started wrecking shit.

The resulting fight took awhile. They didn’t bring any explosives, so there was only so much they could do to the mining equipment. They ran out of ammunition for what they did have. In the end, they only did so much damage before the army showed up.

I had better things to do, like working at the nuclear reactor and fixing it back up. Not in the nuclear reactor because I prefer the healthy glow of my skin to refer to something other than Cherenkov blue. I worked in this lab the President had set up under there for the development of…things. You know, sometimes a guy just has to have a secret place to sit and think of things. Important things. Like “What if I really want to kill some people far away, but don’t want to pay for an airline ticket?” This lab possessed the equipment I needed to build myself a new core.

Not some nuclear core, either. Nothing like that. Those things run a little too hot to fit inside my body. Plus, while power plants are safe enough when done right, those plants aren’t running around getting into fistfights with people who can a wedgie to a planet. That’s what I meant about this hockey-puck core being unstable. It put out enough energy for my purposes, but I still needed to figure out how where to put it, how to armor it, how to cool it, and how to plug it in without using my own body as a medium.

So I dealt with that while the scuba men ran amuck over El Hierro. The first I bothered with any of it was when the army brought in some of the remains for the lab to study. They did their thing, and I did mine. The Science adviser didn’t like my presence on the island at all, let alone in her most sensitive facility. And while I am known for penetrating sensitive facilities, I also like to think the facilities enjoy my presence whether coming or going.

That’s why it surprised me when one of the techs came running over to my room there and said I should take a look at what they got. He led me to where the main team stood around, hard at work gaping at the attempted autopsy.

The divers were human, at least at some point in their lifetime. “You guys act live you’ve never seen a cyborg before,” I told the techs and scientists around me. Like me, the dead bodies once had some work done. The eyes were cruder, and the person who put them together replaced entire spines and joints. I got my hands dirty and pulled one fellow almost completely out of the diving suit he wore only to find he wore a feed bag on his chest that connected to an implanted feeding tube. I didn’t see the need for it until I pulled one shot-up helmet off another one.

As a guy with my particular enthusiasms, I’ve seen my fair share of brains. I’ve touched brains, I’ve tossed them around, I may have even shoved them up some orifices from time to time. Always their brains, usually their orifices.

Instead of a brain, I got a broken computer. RAM and CPUs tumbled out. After a moment’s more time poking around, I turned to the remaining conscious people in the room and gave them my professional opinion. “Well, I’d say they died of gunshots wounds. Looks like it’s probably time for lunch now, what do you think?” I glanced at the maimed corpse with its popped watermelon of a head and used a finger to move its lips while speaking in a high pitch voice. “That’s right. You should fill up on chimichangas.”

“What about the bodies?” asked an older, balding gentleman.

“Well, I don’t know about all of them, but this guy really shouldn’t have a chimichanga. The doctor told him he needed to watch his cholesterol or he might develop health problems.” I propped up the body and moved its lips to laugh along heartily to my joke.

“Don’t you want to know how they replaced heir brains to computers?” asked a younger tech who reminded me of guacamole. Probably the mole on the cheek and the other two on her neck.

“You can’t replace a brain with a computer,” I told her, pulling the body against me for a hug. “That’s silly. The brain is the equivalent of the RAM and CPU all on its own, with other functions too. It stores all the data that determines future action, as well as all the influences the personality based on its own quirks. You take a brain out and put computer parts in, you lose whoever you had before.”

“You mean-?” asked the balding scientist, providing just the right amount of drama while not stepping all over my lines.

I dropped the dead man back on the table and instead pulled the scientist close, putting my finger to his lips and shushing him. Yes, the same finger that moved the body’s lips. “That’s right. This man was a robot…with the vast majority of its structure comprised of a human body, which solved various construction issues. So, chimichangas then? I’m thinking pulled pork today.”

Because of it being a new design and because I had to recently repair my little armory station, I’ve been taking it slow assembling the armor. I also had to work on the nanite quilt layer. I decided that’s going to be separate from the armor.

So the whole thing isn’t ready yet, safe to say. Which is no biggie. I’ve worked around it before. Even while working on that stuff.

The President has cameras everywhere, though I didn’t know he had a direct feed from his office to the lab. He turned it on and had me specifically watch as he got some visitors from the CFA: the Central Fruit Association.

One of the walked in with a dapper blue suit on, but the trio backing him up wore black suits and shades. The blue man shook the President’s hand heartily, like an old friend, while the blue man’s group hung back and watched over things from the door.

“Let’s not beat around the bush,” the businessman said. “We need more food.”

“More? You have a monopoly on our agricultural exports. We are expanding our pineapple fields, but they will not be ready for six months.” The President opened a box on his desk and pulled out a native Tropican cigar, offering one to the man across from him.

The man took the cigar and pocketed it. “You might as well plow that under. We need more corn.”

The man continued while the President cut, lit, and began to puff on his Freudian phallic symbol. “Somebody convinced Congress to pass a new ethanol bill. As usual, Congress wants a free lunch. They didn’t allocate any more subsidies to us to make up the difference by growing more. I don’t want to lose more money or liquor to those cunts in Tequila, Mexico. I know it’s all complicated for a man like yourself, but we need more.”

The President took all this in with a large draw of the cigar, then took it out and tapped it on an ashtray carved out of a gold-plated skull with diamond eyes and silver teeth. Because he wanted to say “Don’t fuck with me, but I’m stylish if you do.”

“How much more are you willing to pay for my people to go without?”

I noticed the shifting of one of the suits behind him. The man in blue leaned closer. “This is just part of the current deal.”

After a moment of silence, the man clarified. “We pay you the same for as we already agreed to pay. That’s the price of inflation for you.” He took out the cigar and examined it. Then, noticing the dirty looks coming at him from over the President’s mustache, added, “It’s a bad time to piss off our business interests. We know you want the bomb, but you don’t have one yet.” He pulled out a photograph of the nuclear reactor. “It’s dangerous to get caught trying to make one. Very dangerous. Be a shame if my friends,” here he nodded back to the people in black suits, “moved your little island chain to the top of POTUS’s security briefing.”

I didn’t like those guys. Partially, it’s because I liked the President. He’s a dick in his own way, but he’s also a friendly dick, and he’s my dick. I didn’t like this smug bastard trying to squeeze my dick like this.

The President didn’t say anything for a long moment, pursing his lips. He looked around the office, thinking, then looked right at the camera showing us this view. Finally, he picked up his cigar and held it in his teeth to help himself grin. “There is no other choice. I will send it on your next freighter. We have been attacked recently. I tell you this so you know what you cost my people. Someone used the weather against us. I won’t be held responsible for your freighter if the man I know is responsible attacks again.”

The blue man flashed a grin and stood, buttoning his jacket. “That won’t be a problem. Our people don’t make enemies of someone we can’t handle. Pleasure as always. Have I told you I love this office? Your staff does a good job keeping it spic and span.” He and his detail showed themselves out without even a parting handshake.

I called up the President. “Be a shame if he had a terrible accident on the way back to the airport, wouldn’t it?”

“Yes, it would,” he huffed into the mouthpiece, pointing his cigar toward the camera. “You must not attack them on the island. They will know that you could not hide so close to the capital and my military bases without me knowing about it. However, the seas are not safe. I fear for the ACF’s ship once it leaves out port.” That’s not a mistake, by the way. Sometimes, acronyms change in other languages. Central Fruit Association becomes Association Central of Fruit, for instance. Or there’s a different first letter involved, like how the U.S. or United States becomes the E.U. or Los Estados Unidos.

This language lesson brought to you courtesy of the Central Fruit Association. CFA: nobody fucks up like we just fucked up.

“Let me know when that’s happening and I’ll deal with it,” I told him. Then I got an idea. A couple of ideas, actually. One of them was about why he decided to show us, and me specifically, that scene. “You knew something like this was going to happen, didn’t you?”

“One does not live at the whim of a nuclear superpower without listening carefully. I knew they found the laboratory and I knew about the vote. I have lobbyists, too. They tell me my grand enemy made this happen. He hates his government, but he does not hesitate to use it to his benefit.”

I pulled up the memory of the briefing we had before hunting down the whiskey and the Fakecoin server. “He’s got someone building some very advanced stuff for him that I’d like to get my hands on. I don’t like the idea of someone that petty with such a huge technological edge over almost everyone on earth.”

“Yes, this would be bad, but you are with me. When the freighter arrives this week, you can sneak aboard and hijack it. Then, my people quietly take back our food. If the President of the United States wants to boss my people around, he can come down here and live with the stupid donkeys himself!” I stood up from his seat. Caught up in the dramatic moment, the researchers and technicians around me started to cheer. It quickly petered out into confusion and then offense.

Now to break it to Carl that we’re going on another boat ride.

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Psychos of the Caribbean 5

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Acting in my capacity as the resident expert in supervillain technology, I’ve spent the past few days inspecting the weather control buoy. Which isn’t to say I know a damn thing what I’m doing. Most of my admittedly-limited expertise is in the area of optics. Still, I gave the President a run down on the devious device.

“I never saw the original, but I know they had a lot of them and access to a nearby weather station. You might check on any weather center on this or any of your other islands, but this thing has all kinds of stuff inside it. Most people try to stimulate rain by increasing moisture and particulates, but that doesn’t necessarily mean wind and lightning go with it. Near as I can tell, this thing has to do with stimulating ions, causing changes in pressure, lightning, and that kind of thing. Normally, I’d doubt it could make tsunami-like waves, but it’s more likely than this thing being able to make a volcano happen, which you said happened by dumb luck anyway.” I took a bow and slipped off my sock puppets that stood for the buoy and the island.

The President clapped. “Again! Again!”

Next to him, a beautiful woman with a large forehead laid a hand on his shoulder. “Mr. President, please control yourself. My people don’t understand the technology involved at all. Dozens died and worst of all that thing destroyed the library.” She pointed at the sock puppet in my hand.

Speaking slowly, I told her, “This is a sock puppet.”

“Yes, do not be ridiculous. How could a sock puppet kill someone? You are a grown woman.” The President clapped his hand on her shoulder and shook her gently back and forth. He pulled his hand away and gestured to the rest of his cabinet. “Does anyone have anything to add to the Education adviser’s assessment?” He winked at said big-headed adviser and turned to a hippie-looking adviser in particular. “What do you think of all this?”

“I think it was wonderful!” The head of the Environmental Department practically squeed. “Mother Nature needs to cleanse and this device allows us to help her do it instead of contributing to the problem as mankind has always done.” I liked this one. It’s pretty much entirely because of our mutual appreciation for massacres. At first, I suspected she and I disagreed on a lot of issues, because of her flower-patterned hemp clothing, headband, sandals, and the flower tucked behind her ear. However, she had quite an enthusiastic gleam in her eye as she gushed over the destruction wrought by the device deployed against the island. “Are there any more around the rest of the archipelago?”

“Under orders from the President, my men destroyed every buoy in the vicinity of our home islands,” answered the top general of the nation, General Rodriguez. I remembered hearing an announcement about that. They have a funny arrangement where one DJ is a toady for the President and the other opposes every little thing he does. According to her, a celebration where he released white doves was just a plot to bombard her motorcycle with bird crap, which is why she called on dissenting citizens to shoot every bird they can find. Local chicken producers weren’t amused.

Heedless of my reminiscences, the General continued. “We have freedom from the terror of that weapon. How soon can we use it for ourselves?”

“We can’t,” I announced. “In disabling it, I was forced to destroy the power source. There is nothing on the island compact enough to power it, save my little project. If you help me complete it quickly, I could provide another to power this device.”

I lied. I removed the power source, true, but the thing interested me too much to hand over. It resembled a purple glowing hockey puck, so all I had to do was paint it black to hide it. They only care about soccer around here, so I’ll be safe as long as it doesn’t say insulting things about the Llamas. The soccer team, not the animals, though some of the ranchers here are quite proud of their critters.

The hockey puck should be fine, as long as it doesn’t explode. No hurry. Not while I’m still assembling my latest armor.

I mixed my original design with the newer one. Thin armor strips once again gave it a vaguely reptilian look on the chest, though I included a central strip of armor straight up the middle of them on the front and back. The helmet had a visor with a dip in the middle as if glaring, and the outer edges of them continued back into the ears or horns of a jester’s cap, only without bells on the end. They ended in points that arched back, with a third one arching forward from my forehead three inches.

The bottoms were thinner looking material with armor plates held in it, leaving me with maneuverability and room for the jump-enhancing pseudomuscle boosters. The boots weren’t anything special. I considered it, but spinners would have just gotten in the way of walking. Don’t even get me started on the stripper pole. Bitches love stripper poles, almost as much as they hate being called bitches.

The gloves are now gauntlets. I almost replaced the barbed wire look with an oval dome for the same effect, but settled on a pair of spirals that cross going back and forth on each gauntlet. The more things change, the more they brutally stay the same, eh? Same reason why the primary colors are still orange and a lighter shade of black.

By the time I got that well underway, the President had pretty much given up on inviting me out to go party with him. It doesn’t help that I’m trying to avoid unnecessary casualties to his people. That severely limits the fun I can have. Even visiting the prison doesn’t interest me. For starters, every time I’ve tried to say torture doesn’t work, I get accurate information in no time flat. And anytime I mention racism, I run into less than I expected. It’s bizarre. Gee, I sure hope no big-tittied strippers want me to judge a blowjob contest.

Still, the balcony of the Presidential Palace gave me a great view of him giving speeches to adoring crowds. Well, they became adoring crowds. They started as protestors in favor of more housing and another cathedral on the island.

I don’t get what they’re complaining about. They already have one cathedral. I’ve seen it in my tour of the island. Seems to have staffing problem though. Probably because they built it next to a grade school. Hey, don’t be worried for the kids. To give the President credit, he thought of how to deal with that. There’s a gun factory across the street from both, and the school regularly sends classes on field trips to it. Suffer the little children at your own risk.

Suddenly, the President stopped speaking and spun to the floor. A gunshot rang out. Sniper. I picked up on the glare from the lens on the roof of a nearby parking garage. Finally, someone to kill! I ran out onto my balcony and hopped the edge, grabbing at a banner of the President’s face and sliding to the ground on that. I noticed someone jump from the parking garage and open a parachute.

I never paid attention to what was under my balcony, it seems, as I landed in the middle of an bunch of pens full of camels. The President wasn’t kidding about getting them all the time. I looked at the nearest one and nodded. It could work.

I hopped atop the nearest one, causing it to rear up on its rear legs like some ridiculous beast I never knew was able to rear. Its front hooves kicked open the gate to its pen and I raced out, balls bouncing painfully as I rode the desert beast of burden bareback into the streets, following the chute through the air.

Damn assassin rode the thermals over the road to extend the length of his gliding.He didn’t head anywhere near the docks area, either. I needed to get him down. Unfortunately, I first had to find a way to jump the hardware store right in my path. I gave the traditional war cry associated with such a joust, “Aaaaaaaaaah!”

By the time I made it through the window, the displays, the shelves, the stock room, and the back door, I’d lost everything below the waist of my coat, which had turned black due to spray paint, and a length of chain around my throat almost choked me. I slipped the chain off and whirled it around over my head as I checked the sky to find my target again.

I saw him, oblivious to my pursuit, opening a bottle of wine and pulling out a cup to enjoy a celebratory drink. Methinks he’s popped his cork a mite too early! I flung the chain at the tuxedo-clad man, trying to wrap it around his leg. I missed, but he noticed me alright. He started fiddling for something in his pocket while I urged my ball buster of a mount onward. “Hi-ho, Al-Silvah, away!”

The fucker dropped a Molotov on me. Whatever he opened in the air was high enough proof, and I wasn’t fireproof. The bottle broke on my head and splattered me with dry, sweet wine tasting of just a hint of vanilla. And dare I say, a certain spicy aftertaste that burned the tongue? Or was that just my face on fire?

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!

It kicked my camel into high gear, though. Fire worked wonders on the animal’s ability to push it to the limit.

The situation got even better. In front of us, there’d been a big accident in the road. A truck emblazoned with the logo of the President’s personal petting zoo had crashed and the alligators in the back got loose in the middle of the street, causing a car hauler to crash and drop its load when the back dropped.

This is what happens in a world without school prayer to the Aztec deities. Every school shooting to ever take place occurred only after kids stopped cutting out human hearts and offering them to Huitzilopochtli. And look at the massive increase in car accidents after those beings got neglected. This day was no exception.

So there I was. I rode toward a massive car accident backed by a congregation of gators, with my head on fire, my coat cut short and turned black, swinging a chain overhead, trying to catch a parachuting assassin in a tuxedo who sipped on wine as he tried to escape.

It was awesome. Not that I appreciated it at the time, with the horrible burning sensation on my scalp, but those are the risks you take not using Head and Shoulders. It got more awesome as my camel expertly dodged cars and took the path of least resistance up the car hauler’s ramp and jumped. We sailed through the air like a majestic squid, the chompers of the President’s cuddly gators snapping shut beneath us.

With the benefit of having cybernetic eyes as opposed to easily-cooked flesh and blood ones, I could still see. And I noticed a lovely sight: we were in range. I swung for the assassin and caught him about the shin with my chain. He pulled me off the camel and into the air, briefly. Then the extra weight dropped us both to the street. Dropping and rolling to protect myself put the flames out, incidentally.

As I rose, the hitman pulled a small handgun. I dove behind a food cart as he opened fire. He went through seven shots quickly. He began changing magazines, but I rose from behind the cart, wielding a fried fruit-filled corn wrap in each hand. Isla Tropica’s favorite snacks smacked into his face, blinding him with deep-fried pineapple and banana. All it took to put him down then was a gentle tap with the cart’s metal umbrella pole to the head, and another ten hits to make sure once he was down.

To my great surprise, the President himself rolled up in his white Presidential limo and stuck his Desert Eagle out the window to hold it on the assassin. “You are under arrest. Do not move. I did not like you shooting my body double and interrupting my Swedish massage. I took night classes for six months and the Swedish woman almost asked me for a happy ending. And I worked very hard pre-recording that speech!”

After yelling at the downed assassin, he collected himself and smiled at the gathering crowd before continuing, “It focused on my tireless efforts to fight crime, including the crime of trying to kill political leaders. What smells like barbecue?”

He sniffed around, then seemed to notice me standing there. “You do not look good, my friend, but you smell great. I hope you do not mind I want my men to speak to this dick sucker.”

I waved it off, feeling part of my scalp blow away in a gust of wind. “Go ahead. It never goes how I want it to. Every time I try to make a point about torture not working, they go and give me accurate information.”

“You should cool down, friend.” He looked at someone inside his limo. “Bartender, a drink for my friend.”

“I think I’ll have a Long, Slow, Comfortable Screw Against a Wall,” I told him. “Shaken, not stirred. And my face on the rocks.”

Ba dum tish, folks. Ba dum tish.

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Psychos of the Caribbean 4

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You know, a tropical paradise isn’t half bad to spend some time in if you spend it inside, in the shade, with the air conditioning cranked up, and with a good internet connection. The sunlight, it burns!

The relaxation gave me time to catch up on my news, too. Like checking on the Empyreal City recovery efforts. There’s friction because the Cape Diem supers are actually putting together buildings, while Captain Lightning’s keeping an eye out for criminals. Meanwhile, local contractors keep yammering about unwelcome superheroes doing work that they should be getting paid for.

Because of course that’s what someone’s going to complain about in the middle of that shithole situation.

Oh, and the nanite situation. The military’s jumping onboard that with a contract that means big money for Long Life, and fewer armored vests for the guys on the ground. Or maybe just another deployment of a drone to take out a McDonald’s full of people rather than a team to get the one guy they need alive inside. Or, as the official report stated, “The civilians were OK and last seen enjoying a meal.”

Then there’s the superhero registration bill. In their utmost sincerity, the sponsors decided to hold it up in committee until they can get someone elected with it.

It feels nice being away from Venus and going insane again. This world makes more sense this way.

I think I figured it out. I mean, I think she really was messing with my head, and not that stupid lovey-dovey bullshit. I think that’s just what happens when you spend too much time around someone who you’re physically attracted to. The thing about Venus is that she was a challenge. Sure, most of our encounters have gone my way, but I’ve had to be careful around here. Her tactics evolve, she gets gets better tech, she can pull in other heroes to help act against me, and she’s better than me in a fair fight. She’s a challenge.

I’m beginning to notice that challenges focus my mind, sometimes to the detriment of my creative impulses. So suddenly, instead of going from Point A to Point K through India to get to Point B, I’m making straight lines instead. Or at least they feel like straight lines to me.

Now, if any of y’all remember that little revelation back with the liquid truth that asshole in California sent me, that kind of focus is a bad thing. And that’s not even counting when I’m fully, one-hundred percent committed to something. It’s the difference between before Pink Pixie killed Matatoa, and after Pixie killed Matatoa.

I figured all this out while staring at a naked full moon from the terrace of the Presidential Palace. It was the terrace that faced the local nude beach. Now that I have thought the whole thing through, I know exactly what I need to do. I need to forget about it entirely except for finding some way to kill Venus from afar. I had an idea about mutated Asian carp. I’d just need to modify the ones that are reaching the Great Lakes, and they’ll reach the open water of the Atlantic before too long. They already jump out of the water easily, so maybe something with natural blow darts?

Or, and this is just spitballing, a giant paper mache mecha.

Either way, I didn’t take a lot of time to enjoy the traditional amusements of the island, so I was unaffected by the attack on it. That’s right, an attack. I haven’t seen such a multi-pronged offensive since that time someone insulted Poseidon’s mother.

I first realized someone attacked the island when I saw the casino get struck by lightning a dozen times in less than a minute. The skies darkened overhead like an afterthought. A tornado touched down and gave the city one hell of a swirly, throwing a holding tank from the local margarita mix company into the salt mines and presumably getting the workers there quite drunk.

Off in the distance, the waters receded from the beach in anticipation of a tsunami, and the island’s prominent mountain rumbled. By the time Carl burst into my room, a wave crashed down and dumped a freighter onto the beach. Worst theme restaurant ever. The mountaintop continued to smoke, clearly not at all concerned with the effects of second hand smoke on the rest of us.

“Boss, everything’s going to hell! They’re saying it’s the end times!” He walked over to steady himself on the liquor cabinet’s contents. After a gulp of something to make him stupid and credible, he asked me, “What are we gonna do?”

I shot to my feet. “I’ve got it!”

Twenty minutes later, I marched up the beach from where I’d walked out into the water, scaring off frightened loiterers and approaching the island’s local news anchor, Catrina Calavera. She interrupted her broadcast to rush over and get a better view, only to slump when she saw the paper mache losing out to the waved. “Excuse me, you look like a visitor to the island. Why are you wearing that outfit?”

She motioned to the conceptual model I’d made of my mache mecha. It had seven heads, ten horns, and a crown on each horn. I’m pretty sure the President let too much bong smoke into palace’s air system last night, because I don’t know who designed a seven headed monster with ten horns. Maybe shoulder spikes and an odd number of horns, but not an even number. An even number is just…odd.

“Well, I just thought it was time to give me a try, I mean, why settle for a lesser evil?” I responded to Catrina’s question, throwing my hand up in the traditional devil horns gesture.

“You’re not worried about being a gigantic asshole?” she asked.

I shook my head. “No, I can’t say I am. I think everyone’s attention is really on the natural disasters striking everywhere. You could say they’re practically enraptured by it.”

Once again, it worked better in English than in Spanish. The reporter soon moved on, as did the assault on Isla Tropica. At this point, I received a summons to appear back at the Presidential Palace via the President’s personal communications channel, i.e., these loudspeakers he had up everywhere for when he did personal news broadcasts. But never his cooking show. Uh uh. You just don’t do that on anything but the TV. He’s not completely backwards dictator like you’d see in Peru or Argentina. Hell, the Peruvians once put an enemy of the state in a black and white-striped prison outfit. This isn’t amateur hour, like that Japanese Peruvian bastard.

Back at the palace, the President raged. “He did this! I know he did! Somehow, that stupid bastard attacked my island with bad weather!” He grabbed a wood chair and started beating an old medieval suit of armor with it until both were scattered in pieces on the floor.

I offered him a bottle of whiskey, part of that fine vintage we robbed from the stupid bastard on his mind. He pushed it away. “I don’t need a drink. I need to stop this weather. The cannery just exploded! Fish and pineapples…everywhere! I have turned out satellite dishes to the task, but we don’t know what to look for!” He threw his hands up in frustration.

I tossed the bottle from hand to hand. “Try weather buoys. “

The President looked at me, narrowing his eyes. “You know how he did this?”

I shrugged. “Maybe. I knew a company that used some buoys to manipulate the weather and hit Paradise City with a hurricane. They fell on hard times shortly after. It’s possible they sold some of the technology to people with more money than brains.”

The President walked over and grabbed my cheeks in his pudgy fingers. “If you’re right, I will kiss you!”

“Dude, lay off the Ecstasy.”

He laughed, let go of my cheeks, and clapped me on the shoulders, then turned to enter his office and make order up whatever he needed.

The weather didn’t abate for the entire day. Things just didn’t happen simultaneously anymore. Sometimes there’d be freak storms, sometimes there’d be freak waves, and sometimes the volcano would fart up clouds of ashes again. The President thought that may have been separate, because he and his science adviser didn’t know anyway a buoy could manipulate geological conditions to make a volcanic eruption happen. Plus, there was no evidence of earthquakes in all the troubles heaped upon Isla Tropica.

As for me, I was just happy to have the sun blotted out. More happily, I discovered the local ice cream restaurant abandoned and cracked wide open. I fully intended to go right on not giving a damn about the weather until the President called out for me on the loudspeakers again and told me, “We’ve found it! Psycho Gecko, you have to help. They’ve damaged our reactor.”

I called him for the coordinates while enjoying an inspirational soft serve cone.

A half hour later, I set out on a manmade neapolitan glacier with a sail made of the ice cream shop’s fabric awning pushed forward using the exhaust from he supercharged air conditioner unit I set one raised leg on. Behind me, a pair of generators rumbled. I suppose I could have just taken one of the low-tech fishing boats, but why?

Still wasn’t the most pleasant of rides, though. If anything, it was worse. At least I found the buoy where they said I would. I noticed a speedboat on a course to intercept it as well. They’d want their expensive toy back. Unfortunately, they got a game of chicken with me . Speedboat versus ice creamberg.

“I scream, you scream, we all scream!” I yelled as I headed right for it. Looking at them, I’m pretty sure they really did scream, but I couldn’t hear it over the engine. Finally, right at the end, they tried to turn away. Fun fact: boats don’t turn on a dime. The seas ran red…with melted strawberry ice cream. I cranked up the sound system in my vocal chords and belted out a farewell tune to the sinking men. “And IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII, will always looooove youuuuuuu!”

I don’t think they appreciated it, nor did they much enjoy my deactivation and seizure of the buoy. I almost destroyed the thing, I admit. But just before I went to tear into it, I remembered that there’s still some value in having a weather control device. Especially one that could do all that to Isla Tropica.

If I remember right, it took more of them to create a hurricane that hit Paradise City, where the grass is green and the girls are pretty. Or at least they had more of them. So even though I risked being stranded in the ocean covered in melted dairy for any sharks with rows of sweet teeth, I hauled it back. A mind is a terrible thing to waste, and destroying a free weather control buoy blows.

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Psychos of the Caribbean 2

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It occurs to me, readers, that I may have left y’all somewhat confused there at the end, though that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. While it’s true I haven’t used a good Sixty-Three recently, I am still known for doing confusing things to people’s ends. To be more specific, I meant to reference the statement by the President that I needed to pull off a heist. I didn’t argue with him at the time though I later wondered what he would say to the obscene amounts of money I had stolen in my escape from Empyreal City.

It may not matter, and that’s fine. I suppose y’all have gathered that the President is an interesting fellow with a low tolerance for tension and a high tolerance for alcohol. It just so happens that he’s the sort of person I understand. To say I like him would be a bit of a stretch, but then I don’t pass judgment on people that often.

Well, that sort of judgment. If you think in terms of death sentences, I pass judgment on people all the time, and isn’t that the most important judgment I can make about a person anyway? So, suffice to say my view of the man’s state of mind is neither here nor precisely there. Maybe a step to your left, readers. And lean back. Throw your hand in the air. Now shout “Ole!”

See? Look at you, acting strange like that. You’re in no position to call him crazy. I can suggest a good one for that, if you’re feeling gullible.

Hey, don’t feel bad. They’re just words. No doubt you’ve all heard the cliche: sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you. Quite a phrase, and one usually spoken by the same sort who believes money can’t buy happiness and guns don’t kill people. Nevertheless, the wrong words to someone rich enough to rent the services of a man with a fondness for guns that do kill people can, in fact, hurt you.

Which brings us back the President, who needed my services. I clarified that when he met me yesterday. I suppose I’d gotten his attention when he walked in and found me reclining naked on a table, bawling, with a book in my hand. He walked in, flanked by a pair of women with dark suits and light rifles.

While stereotypical female bodyguards are frowned upon in the U.S., dictators are often fond of surrounding themselves by women trained in murder and obedience. The Athena Academy makes a tidy profit providing them. Right then, they put that training to good use by pointing their guns at me.

Proper gun usage dictates that you never point a gun at anyone unless you’re going to shoot them. Also, don’t shoot someone unless you’re prepared to kill them. So, basically, they announced to me that they were going to kill me. I did what any reasonable person would do when confronted with that knowledge and threw a severed head at each of them, then jumped at them. I can’t speak to the quality of their training, but most instructors don’t teach confrontation with naked people who just threw heads at you.

They reacted poorly in that they missed me before the President grabbed their guns and yelled “Stop!”

I did too, mainly because I didn’t plan to kill anyone. I skidded to a halt as well. “Heya there, President.”

“You are fine now?” he asked, motioning to my naked body and the dead soldiers throughout the rest of the barracks.

“Yeah, yeah…just one thing led to another,” I looked back. The man who handed me the bottle had been killed by the drink when I beat his head in with a whiskey bottle.

“You are nude,” the President said.

“You need better air conditioning in these barracks. It’s hard to live in this heat.”

“Why do you cry?” He sounded genuinely concerned about that.

I pointed back to where I left the book on the table. “One of my favorite authors died recently and it didn’t really sink in until I read one of his books.”

“The tea set?” he asked, indicating the little pink and white set off to the side.

I shrugged. “Who said that was mine?”

The President walked over and picked up one of the cups, then showed it to me. “It has your name on it.”

“How rude of me. Would you care for a cup?” I smiled.

He set it down like it had something gross on it. “Now that I have dealt with more pressing matters, we will discuss the job you will do for me. I can wait until you put on clothes.”

“More pressing matters? What kept you, a trip to the dry cleaners?” I asked as I fetched up my pants.

“I received another camel from one of my trade partners and it broke loose. It ran wild for days.” He shook his head, chuckling to himself.

“You had to attend to that personally? Is anyone who works for you capable of doing things by themselves?”

The President reached inside his coat for a cigar, but one of his bodyguards took it from him. He glanced at her, indignant, but let it slide. “It ran into the rum distillery.”

“Ah, that explains many things.” I nodded knowingly, throwing open soldiers’ footlockers to check for anything nice to wear for a top.

“That is why my doctor says I shouldn’t smoke now. It was very strong rum and a lot of it is still on my breath. Where is your shirt?”

“Right…” I threw open the footlocker belonging to the big burly guy I’d killed who had a light machine gun tattooed on his arm. Reaching inside, I drew out the first thing I could see. “Here!” It was a pink shoulderless shirt with the word Princess across the front of it.

“I won’t ask,” the Pres said.

“He won’t tell,” I responded, tossing it aside and checking the next locker. Bingo! I slipped on a purple velvet jacket with tiger fur on the collar and trim. Somebody had one hell of a second job. I pulled out a cane as well and checked out the chrome skull topper with the diamond eyes. “Alright, I can give you awhile to talk, but I’m gonna need to take payment in cash.”

We took a stroll along the nearby beach. “How are the assassins doing?” I asked him, enjoying a sunset surrounded by women in bikinis and open sightlines for snipers.

“If they were good assassins, they would have shot me by now. I won’t be controlled by fear.” He stopped to admire he beautiful, artworthy sight in front of him. The drying swimmer started to cover up until one of the bodyguards twitched her gun.

The beach made an invigorating scene, with people playing volleyball. Others were getting anxious. The sun was setting. “Good philosophy. It seems money still has value to you. I actually can pay for your expenses getting that stuff for me, and the enrichment process. So if this is about money, a heist is unnecessary.”

The President finally dismissed his eye candy and we kept walking along the sand, kicking up sand I’ll probably still be finding next year. It’s a form of teleportation, I tell ya. Granular particulate nonlinear transportation, which functions according to convenience. When disturbed from its most convenient location on a beach, sand attempts to balance out the equation by transporting to the least convenient location on the person who did the disturbing.

“Here.” The Pres waved up one of his guards. She brought him a tablet. After tapping on it a few times, he brought up several pictures, including of a specific man. “This man is an former associate of mine. We went to school together. He visited me once and wished to start his own personal utopia. He wanted a land where no government would restrict him and his peers from enjoying the fruits of labor. He sabotaged the mines on one of my islands and incited the people, arguing that private ownership of the mines would take better care of them. This created problems for me, until my men uncovered his hand. For good measure, I had men investigate his interests in South America. As it happens, my miners did not approve of private ownership after this.”

I looked over a picture of the guy. “He got away though. Revenge time?”

“Yes, but I do not want him dead. I want him hurt.” He tapped the screen, bringing up what looked like a stock market graph. “He did not give up on his dream, so he opened a market for Fakecoins.”

Ah, Fakecoins. Some time back, some people on the internet didn’t trust money issued by governments, so they decided to make their own currency. It isn’t legal tender anywhere, has no backing, and doesn’t physically exist, but you could pay for it with other valuable legal tender and say you owned these Fakecoins.

“A Fakecoin exchange, huh? How much did he scam people out of?” Before the uninformed get to bitchin’, that wasn’t meant to be insulting. It’s just that ‘scam’ is the future tense of ‘Fakecoin exchange’.

“More than $200,000,000 American.”

“Wow, he is an overachiever, isn’t he? What’s this leading up to?”

“They can’t follow the money electronically. I believe he transferred the Fakecoins to a private server off the network and is transporting it to his new base of operations.” Here he brought up images of what looked like a hotel sitting on the ocean. Then the image changed to a cargo ship. “I have people who can research things, too. This is his personal freighter. He sends whiskey around the world to age it, and this way no one asks questions about anything else he ships. It is on the way to his new utopia and must pass close by. You will hijack the server and let him know it was me. Oh. Bring me his whiskey, too.”

“Doesn’t sound too difficult. I’m going to need a boat, though.” I stopped, watching as something light up the increasingly dark sky. Something other than all the lights of civilization. The night is very bright anywhere near human habitation.

“I have arranged for a ship to carry you.” He waved his hand toward the growing light created by a flaming sail on an old-fashioned pirate ship.

“I think I know the guy. So you got me and Captain Flamebeard for a simple cargo ship, huh? Anything else you want to tell me?” Ok, so a simple speed boat probably wouldn’t have carried back all the whiskey, but that’s why you get a bigger boat. That, and they come in handy when dealing with uncharacteristically persistent sharks that enjoy the taste of license plates.

“I do not know what the defenses will be. Some armament is needed to avoid pirates of lawless Somalia, but he is one of the men who buy tanks and cannons in case they need to fight their own countrymen. I can not narrow down what he will have, but I will not send too few men and complain later. I am sending overkill and will complain about the cost later. That is why I have also contacted these men.”

We turned toward the interior of the island and the President clapped his hands. Out of the sand and beach fauna popped a dozen men in bright yellow pajamas with Chinese lettering on their belts. They resembled ninjas, kinda. “That’s one hell of a clapper you got there,” I told the Pres.

“These ninjas will assist you in the ship raid,” he said.

The ninjas gave a cry, some in Mandarin and some in Cantonese. The President leaned in and whispered to me, “I could not afford Japanese ninjas. These Chinese knockoffs should do the job. They will not expose my secrets. I have been assured by the man I bought them from that they have suicide pills full of lead.”

So it looks like I’ll be working with cheap Chinese-produced knockoffs full of lead.

“Speaking of expendable minions, you seen Moai and Carl lately?” I asked the President.

“According to my secret police, they are enjoying the casino. You should relax as well. It will be some days before the cargo ship passes close enough to strike. Get your nose out of books. Enjoy the sunlight.” He swept his hand toward the retreating orb of hot gas as it dipped below the Earth’s horizon.

“As a supervillain, I do my best work at night, in the dark, wearing a costume.” I stepped over and put my arm around one of the bodyguards. “Sound like your kinda fun? What time do you get off tonight? Or should I ask, what time do you want to get off?”

She poked the barrel of her gun under my chin and responded. “I work the graveyard shift.”

“Really? If you ever feel like slipping out of that shift and feeling less dead, I can give you a good wake.”

She stared at me through her sunglasses.

I shrugged. “It sounds better in English,” I told her. Actually, it doesn’t.

The President threw his arm around my shoulder and guided me away from her. “Please do not rile up my guards. I do not want you to use up all my harassment hours. They have a strict contract with a fearsome lawyer. I once saw him tear the head off a man from Interpol over a cigarette butt. He freed a sex trafficking ring in the process.”

That’s pretty good. Considering all the women and boys sex traffickers deal with, it can take some effort to get them off.

He clapped me on the shoulder. “If you don’t mind a woman with a lot of forehead, I could set you up with my education adviser instead.”

It’s worth a shot. After all, who doesn’t love a woman with a lot of head to give?

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Psychos of the Caribbean 1

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At last, I have arrived at Isla Tropica. They had a ceremony and everything. Carl very much enjoyed it when he got off the plane. The archipelago nation loves its tourist industry, so they treated their all their guests to a special welcome.

I got one of my own a little while later when they unloaded my crate from the cargo plane and pulled the side open. I wished they chose a different side. That was the bookshelf side. They knocked a few of them out of place when they lowered it to the ground and found me sitting there in my recliner and smoking jacket. I lowered my copy of “Letters From The Earth” by Mark Twain and looked out at Carl, the dockworkers, the teamsters, and a dozen armed members of Isla Tropica’s military.

I shifted slipper-clad legs around so I’d be able to stand in a hurry and addressed the men with the guns, albeit in the native Spanish of the nation. I expect I’ll do that a lot, so it has been automatically translated for your reading pleasure. Your dirty, ribbed reading pleasure. Who’s a naughty bibliophile? Say it!

Anyway, I told them, “We’re here already? Are you sure you can’t close the wall up and let me find a stopping point?”

Along with violating a basic rule of gun safety by pointing weapons at me, they also fired a warning shot. All at once. Completely wrecked the paneling, but at least it missed my self-portrait on one of the other walls. I memorized my spot and set the book down, then stood up. “Ok. Seeing as I’m technically an alien by a couple definitions of the word, I just want to say that I come in peace and fast-moving vehicles. Lay down plastic on the seats and take me to your leader.”

They marched Carl and me to a nearby technical, our wrists restrained by plastic zip ties. During the short trip, Carl asked me, “Boss, how did you read in there, anyway? The air holes didn’t look big enough.”

“It’s fine, I had Moai hold a lamp.” I nodded back toward the crate. He glanced back, no doubt seeing Moai standing in the corner holding a lamp.

“That cord isn’t plugged in to anything,” Carl said, his tone suggesting it was more of a question.

“Ok,” is all I said.

“Are you going to tell them about Moai?” he asked.

“No, he’ll follow us in case we need it,” I told him.

The soldiers ushered the two of us into the back of the pickup truck with a 50 MM cannon mounted on the back. To the soldiers, I asked, “I hate bring this up, but I didn’t have to use the bathroom until just now.” One of them handed me a beer bottle. I shrugged and grabbed hold of it as we set off on our trip.

Despite the presence of traffic lights, they refused to stop until we got to the presidential palace. I think it had more to do with security concerns than crazy driving habits. Every few minutes, I checked and found Moai riding in the back of various cars behind us.

When we pulled up in front of the palace, the soldier in back knocked the bottle out of my hand with the butt of his rifle, shooting me a look instead of bullets. “I don’t know what the problem is, I told you I had to go. Just be amazed that I managed to crap into a beer bottle. You guys didn’t make it easy. And that’ll wash out of your pant leg.”

They weren’t amused, but they were happy to hand me over to the palace sentries. They took me the rest of the way through the place to a room with a long wooden table and a few extra guards. Only a couple dozen or so. Nothing too big. Oh wait, I didn’t have armor on. I suppose that should have changed my perspective at the time if I’d thought about it.

At the center of the group, a large leatherbound chair swiveled around to reveal… “Friend!” I held out my arms wide as I saw the President sitting there, grinning behind a large cigar.

“Aha, my friend! I had you worried, I know.” He stood up and clapped his hands. The guards lowered their weapons and began filing out of the room. “You have a new friend of your own, eh?”

“Carl, this is the President. President, this is Carl.” I gestured between the two, speaking in English.

“Nice to meet you…uh…President. Sir. Can you translate for me, boss?”

“He understands English. Don’t worry about the name. He’s President for life.”

Carl looked between the President and I. “Why were you worried about the soldiers?”

I pulled a chair out of the table and took a seat. “There could have been a revolution.”

In English, the President added, “Being President For Life is not easy. I am president during vacation and I can never retire. This is not easy on me.”

I pointed over at him, “See? It’s hard out there for a dic- President For Life. Poor guy can’t catch a break. Think about the constant judgment. This man is running for election all the time, and this is an office for life. He can’t afford to lose that election. That’s serious pressure. You know what pressure causes?”

Carl sat as well while venturing a guess. “Hemorrhoids?”

“Impotency, Carl.” I pointed at him, then turned my finger toward the President, “That’s why this man keeps at least a half dozen specialists on retainer to make sure he’s not going impotent.”

“Only five. Lupe fell for an American and went back with him. My foreign policy adviser is a loyalist. He thought I should send men to kill her. I told him, ‘No’ because I knew the United States better. Lupe calls me from the store she works at every week and begs me to come back. Death is too good for her. She and her husband live with his parents. Bahahahaha!” The President laughed heartily. The sound carried me away and I joined in. For lack of anything better to do, Carl shrugged and laughed as well.

We were interrupted by a crashing sound from a window all along the wall to my left. Moai swung through with a line, a large black balaclava on his giant head. I hopped to my feet and pantomimed lowering my hands. “Yo, Moai, it’s ok. The President here is on our side. His opponents can’t afford to change that.”

Though it drew the attention of the guards, there wasn’t a big fuss over the window. If anything, the President told me it would help the local glassblowing economy. He enjoyed meeting Moai as well. He kept asking if he could get samples taken, or if Moai could reproduce somehow. I don’t know if he’s thinking in terms of labor or tourism, but I informed the President that Moai would have to decide on that issue, and Moai’s decision would be backed up by me.

Rather than ask right away, the Pres showed us to a spare suite and gave us a few minutes to freshen up. After all, I still hadn’t changed out of my smoking jacket. He wanted to meet me out back, in the Presidential Gardens, for a walk. That’s when we’d discuss why I showed up and any business I might do while I was around. Most people would have handled that right away, but the President liked to take his time and see to his guests. Even if that involves kidnapping them first.

“Ah, my friend! I have been waiting!” he told me upon my arrival while drinking a multi-colored drink out of a glass that more closely resembled a bowl. He swung his other hand around as he continued his exaggerated gesturing. I noticed his bodyguards calmly duck out of the way every time. As for me, I just didn’t much like to see that gold-gripped, pearl white Desert Eagle pointed at me. It somehow reminded me of fighting the original Gecko. Both times.

The bodyguards spread out and gave us the illusion of privacy as we walked along. The President was curious about what he’d heard happened in the U.S. Most importantly… “Why have you paid me a visit after so long?”

I grinned at him as we walked along, then turned my attention to the bright blooming flowers as I answered. “Things got a bit too serious for me, amigo. I’ve been having some bad encounters lately and I’m worried they might be driving me sane. I need a vacation to find myself again.”

Without missing a beat, the President said, “I know exactly how you feel,” and tossed the glass away.

It shattered as it landed in a bush, accompanied by a yelp of surprise. In a kung fu drunken haze of badassery, the President spun around and fired into the bush three times. The third time, he fell over on his back but was stopped by one of his bodyguards catching him and helping him back to his feet. Others advanced on the bush and pulled out a dead man wearing camouflage and a little listening device.

“Who were you reporting to? Huh? The donkey knows more than you, you son of an ugly, fat mother!” It sounded better in the original Spanish. I walked up and pulled the President away from the man, who had taken three to various parts of the chest, including one nice hole to and through the heart.

“Easy, there, easy. He’s dead. You can’t interrogate him anymore. Not unless we bring him back. The brain’s not damaged, is it? Somebody get me a ladder, some jumper cables, and a lemon!” I started to take the corpse onto my shoulders, but then the President grabbed me.

“No, no. Do not do this. I am drunk and I am tired of assassins.” He pushed the body off my shoulders and waved his guards toward it. While they took care of it, he put his arms around my shoulders and led me off. “By the way, what would the lemon be for?”

I shrugged. “He might’ve needed first aid, and the first ade I ever heard of was lemonade.”

The President shook his head and clucked, showing far more concern at the bad joke than the dead man in his bush. “That was bad. We will both have many opportunities to try better. They are after me every day now. You can not throw a stone without hitting an assassin. That is another reason why I worried about you.”

We stopped under a tree as the moon lazily rose above us. “Now, isn’t that a bit of an exaggeration? Who would want to kill a charming fella like you?”

He raised both hands as if to say “I don’t know,” and squeezed the trigger. The bodyguard in the way had ducked, but the guerrilla sneaking up on the gathering hadn’t. The shot caught him in the collar and he dropped. Bodyguards fell on him to make sure that was all he did in the presence of their boss.

“Huh. Ok, that is an unusual population density of assassins. But that may not mean anything unusual,” I mused. The President shot into the palm tree above us. A man dressed in a fuzzy brown suit fell to the ground next to us. “Hmm. Alright, so maybe you’re not overstating things. Can I see something?”

I reached over and grabbed the President’s wrist. I noticed a woman bodyguard scowl underneath her shades. I stuck my tongue out at her, then moved the President’s wrist so it pointed at the moon. “Alright, fire.”

He did at which point, the moon fell down on us. Or, more precisely, a man off a scaffold and through an awning designed to look like the night sky from the ground. “I concede the point,” I told the President.

We moved on to a quieter are of the Gardens. We were pretty confident in our safety, though. I figured that all the other assassins ran off when they noticed the first four get killed. Any remaining were too dumb to be capable of killing us.

“Now that it’s no longer raining men, let me tell you the other reason I’m here. I need this.” I passed the President a note. Instead of telling him to meet me after school or wondering if he thought the scowling bodyguard had a crush on me, it featured a short list of materials I needed to rebuilt my power core.

“This is going to cost you, especially outside the United States.” He gulped, almost appearing sober. Actually, that’s not quite accurate. I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen this guy sober.

“Well there was definitely no way I could get a hold of that stuff inside the U.S., was there?”

The President folded the note up and stuck it in his inner coat pocket. “This is going to cost me.”

We began walking again. “I’m sure you could just issue another one of your famous building permits or have someone at your bank move the numbers around.”

“It will cost you a lot, more than money alone,” he told me, glancing at me, his face breaking out into a wide smile. “I have just the heist in mind. But first, let’s do some shots!”

Shots were fun, or at least that’s what we thought. The prisoners weren’t so fond of it. You know what they say: when you swallow the tequila, someone else has to swallow the worm. Or I said that, at least. That’s life for you. Or death, rather.

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