I remained hard at work at Argentina’s Pink House. “Work, work, work, work, work, work,” I turned toward the Korean girl near me whose boobs tried to fight back against being shoved into a tube top, “Hello boys, did you sleep well? I missed you.” The Korean, whose name I’d never bothered to learn, giggled and patted me on the head. Maybe I should call her Kim? I dunno, I’ll leave that one to the philosophers.
“Emperor Gecko, it is time,” my newest assistant, the Japanese girl, added. Ya know, I’m beginning to suspect that way of referring to people might be a bit degrading and/or dehumanizing. She hasn’t complained, just like she hasn’t said a thing about my inability to find any clothes her size other than Catholic schoolgirl outfits.
I turned to her as she slid into my lap I may have encouraged her to sit there. I mean, Japanese people don’t have the same hang-ups as sitting on the lap of someone the same gender, but they also don’t get along well with Koreans. It’d be as out of place as casting a Caucasian woman as a Japanese character in a setting where a refugee crisis is causing racial tensions to flare up in Asia. “Thank you. And I see you put your hair up in the pigtails like I asked. Good…uh…what’s your name again?
She smiled at me, “Saki.”
I didn’t have anything to do with that one, I swear. She looked all confused, too, as I snorted and sat my head down on my desk for a moment. “Ok, Saki it is. You said it’s time?”
She nodded and handed over a tablet showing Times Square. Where else? Where the fuck else? Always Times Square? I’ve done it too. It’s just one of those places. It’s iconic, like how a spaceship trying to blow shit up will always gravitate over the White House, or how revived Romans somehow always end up learning English with one specific British accent. If Mobian was still around, I’d ask him what they really sound like back then. We’re all going to feel real stupid when it turns out the Romans were some Cockney-sounding bastards. Or, hell, maybe they had a Southern accent like me?
I’d tracked Cercopagis Lysis’s ship as it approached the Earth, but he took his sweet time on showing up, nor did he and I ever work out how this whole thing would start off. Except for the whole “I’ll show up, and if you don’t show up, everyone will think you lost,” thing. Perception is a well-known battlefield.
I had other things to do besides stare at him all day, waiting for him to make a move. He could play that game with people who didn’t have to coordinate shit around the world. Sometimes literaly, given some areas with a lack of plumbing and my attempts to rectify that for the good of people’s rectums. That doesn’t even count time spent kidnapping a team.
Not that it’s all kidnapping. Moai came around when I gave him a direct order, and I left Carl out of it. Then I swung over and told Beetrice, the queen of the bee people Buzzkills, that I’d rock her fucking world if she fought for me or provided a kickass champion for my team. She thought I meant right then, which caused a bit of a problem. The Korean girls got the wrong idea, see, and then Saki had to go out and buy a crowbar.
By the time she got back, I’d been manhandled enough in a literal sense that it was more a matter of avoiding death by sex with a giant bee woman than missing pointy booty call in the first place. Beetrice thought the choking was just my kink, too. She didn’t realize I still have a few issues about that sort of thing going back to when I was a kid.
So that’s Warman, Moai, and Beetrice accounted for. I also called up Mix N’ Max and asked him to be a part of the team, as both a backup and to supervise another project. I wanted him to create a monster for me. Let me briefly go back to before Saki brought me the news so things aren’t a huge surprise to y’all.
“If you want me to revive someone as a strong reanimated being, I can do that. They don’t have a lot of powers and retain their own minds, though. That’s mostly chemical, with some electrical work to pull it all together,” Max said, pointing with a pointer wand to a screen against the wall with sketches projected onto it. His assistants worked the projector and the laptop set up by it. Holly looked all bright and fashionable, like a blonde Valley Girl, in contrast to her friend Sam with the nose stud and the purple hair. Sam looked more like what you’d expect the pale, goth-looking Mix N’Max in his red coat and poofy shirt to keep around. The chemical- and drug-minded super was no stranger to odd people, and had remained something of an ally and friend of mine for years due to the both of us having some history killing other supers. In my case, it tends to solve problems. More often in Max’s case, you can’t make a few omelets without injecting a few eggs.
The Electric Eye I inhabited shook its head. I’d sent the one in Los Angeles to meet up with Max at Salt Lake City, where he’d been working on methods of changing skin tone and sexuality. Wish I could have been there for that one. “I want something with a lot of power.”
Smiling, always smiling, Max nodded toward Holly. She pressed a button and the image of a large, pieced-together human body disappeared. The next screen looked a blank lime green until an imagine flipped into the screen from the side. After a couple of rotations, it stopped to reveal a picture of a large, hulking brute of a man. No, wait, a woman. I think. One of the boobs was big and droopy, and the hair was a bit on the long side, though that technically didn’t rule out being a man. Either way, it was large, and while that size isn’t beyond the realm of humans with gigantism, the wide, heavily muscled chest.
“I present to you the ‘Mutant’ permutation of unsafe super-empowerment. Chemicals are handy, but sometimes we can manage the same results with enough radiation, but those are unstable. Strangely, the most stable variants arise with lower levels of mutation and a few generations of living out in a desert. We don’t know why that is, but if you want power, we can just grab someone, inject them, zap them with a lot of microwaves, and have you a mutant in no time.” As he spoke, bullet points shot out of the bottom of the screen, one character at a time, giving some of the same information.
“Powers?” I asked.
“Generally, strength and toughness. They are not easy to kill once you’ve made them, except they die on their own easily. The stable ones are a little stronger than people despite the radiation poisoning, but the bigger ones surpass your standard ‘Reanimated’ type and can go toe to toe with a flying brick, except for the flying part. If you can hit one with a nuke, sometimes they come out able to shoot radiation or heat vision.”
I considered it for a moment before going, “I need bigger, stronger. Do you have anything that could take out a city?”
Max pointed back to Holly. Getting no response, he threw his pointer at the sleeping assistant. She snapped to attention and pushed a button, moving us onto the next screen where the words “Tokyo-Class” appeared up top.
“If you have a candidate in mind, don’t expect them to survive this,” Max said.
I shrugged. “That’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.”
Max cocked his head to the side, “You?”
I shook my head. “No, I meant someone else’s life is a sacrifice I am fully committed to. Just give me something that’ll work on anybody I happen to grab off the street, alright?”
And that’s how Team Gecko recruited Mystery Monster, aka Albert. Al liked to think of himself as a nice guy with some flaws. Just a normal, average, everyday working stiff. Just someone who drives a little fast from time to time. How could he know that keeping someone from merging onto the freeway would lead, several cars back, to someone hitting a pedestrian?
The butterflies know, of course. I am, I’ve said, an agent of Chaos. And the thing about Chaos is that it has this Theory. In that Theory lays omniscience and the means by which to show that even someone who does nothing more than speed and shag the occasional neighbor’s pet Shiba Inu is still capable of murder through such simple and otherwise accepted forms of injustice. Besides, the Shiba was asking for it, running around with no pants on.
Now, back to the present day. Lysis’s ship sent down a gold and purple colored saucer that landed. Out of which stepped a thin being in golden armor, because Cercopagis buys armor for the look of it. I can’t entirely complain. I do a lot for the look of things. Armor made to look good and armor made to look fortified both come out about the same as armor with any joints big enough to slide a blade. Still didn’t stop me thinking how gaudy the guy looked, with his gold armor and his staff.
He stepped well away from his craft, earning dozens of honks from annoyed drivers, then raised his staff. A minor shockwave pushed all the cars just slightly. If he thought it’d get him fewer honks, he sadly misinterpreted the Empyreal City rush hour traffic.
“I am the Herald of Cercopagis Lysis, the Galactic Conqueror!” he announced, giving Cercopagis a title we couldn’t easily fact check. If someone can conquer anywhere in the galaxy, why go after Earth? At least the Fluidics had a good reason. They needed brainwashed bodies to serve as fodder in their wars. This guy just keeps getting beaten and comes back for second chances. Any similarity to any other supervillians y’all know is clearly unintentional, wrong, and in no way me.
Anyway, that’s not all the guy said. “I am here to announce the first fight of this contest between our respective leaders. My master now gives you his first champion, secured from our daring raid upon the Hiveworld of Sathe during the Eternal Culling: The Mendes Configuration!” He turned to his ship and raised the staff. From the top of his craft, an orb rose.
I began to wonder if we’d have yet another enemy more concerned with being completely alien to humanity when the exterior of the orb broke and shifted around. In the process, it grew. It grew big. The Mendes Configuration, whatever hunk of space junk it seemed to be at first, was clearly a grower, not a shower. It grew in pulses, pushing out evenly at first, then less evenly as it took shape.
In the form of a giant robot with one eye. I frantically sent out my consciousness to the Robot Room, as I wish I officially named where I had people putting together my robot. The PA systems startled everyone as I said, “Please tell me it’s ready, please tell me it’s ready, it’s gotta be fucking ready, come on!”
Unfortunately, the camera showed that what they’d assembled looked more like a stickman with boxing gloves and boobs than a proper giant robot, leaving me thoroughly disappointed.
So I put in a conference call to Team Gecko. Warman started to say he’d take Mendes but I muted him and said, “Max, it’s time.”
“Yeah. I wanted to say that in a dramatic way. And it is time. Send in…dun dun dun!…the Mystery Monster!”
After a second, he asked, “Is that what we’re calling the guy we…?”
“Yeah, him. Stick him in the microwave, give him his shots, do whatever you need to do, preferably on a plane ride over to EC.
In order to fill the time, I brought in Electric Eye. “In the name of the Ruler of Earth, the Emperor of Awesome, the Immaculate Man-Machine, his Lordship the King of Kings, the Master of Disaster…” Now, I know what you’re thinking, but I didn’t just have it rattle off titles the entire time, “while Team Gecko’s champion is arriving, I would like you all to enjoy the musical event of the…week, let’s go with week. Ladies and Gentlemen of Earth, your planetary anthem will now be performed by its original singer, Sir Mix-A-Lot.”
Because Earth enjoys big butts, even if I can lie. It wasn’t just that, I really did bring in various one-hit wonder artists to sing and otherwise earn the first musical paychecks they’ve seen in twenty to thirty years. It was a thing. Got some goodwill going.
And then Max texted me, “Bombs away!” and Electric Eye had to carry Sir Mix-A-Lot to safety as a giant-sized man-thing crashed into Times Square opposite the Mendes Configuration. That was a good enough way to describe it, because longer ways involve words like “bulbous, club-armed, tentacle-headed” and other odd things that normally don’t describe anything derived from a human. Except bulbous, I suppose, but I don’t like to see anything bulbous on people. You wouldn’t call a big, beautiful butt bulbous, now would you?
The Mystery Monster didn’t really have a head, or a neck. More of a lump on top of its torso, with a mouth that opened to roar. At the pincered, one-eyed alien robot made out of round bent pieces of metal. What is it with the lack of eyes? Then again, the monster over there didn’t have any visible eyes. Had a big lump in place of an arm, looked like a club. And the other arm ended in five very wet-looking fingers. I certainly wouldn’t shake it. I wholeheartedly approved of the other weapon it packed, though. It looked like a giant blotchy pink and wet naked humanoid except for the bony drill poking out between its legs. Some men are hung like a horse; this one was hung like it could build a house.
They both stood tall at thirty feet, but I think Mystery Monster had the reach on the robot.
All over the news broadcasts, I interrupted to provide some voiceover work of my own. “Fight Numero Uno: The Mendes Configuration versus Team Gecko’s Mystery Monster. Begin!”
Before I even finished, the Mystery Monster started on its own…by turning around and smashing its club into a car that finally learned to stop honking. I decided to hijack the scroll at the bottom of the broadcast. “Fun Fact: Mystery Monster hates obnoxious drivers. The owners of that building were probably assholes anyway. Technically, there’s nothing in city ordinances against tearing up the road with a drill dick.”
I had to stop due to the call coming in. The Imperial Hotline, aka the phone line for anyone who really, really, really needs to call me but doesn’t know me well enough to get my private number, lit up with a call from an unknown number. “Hello?”
“Greetings, soon-to-be former ruler of Earth!” See what I mean about needing better names for these titles? Cercopagis went on with his gloating and laughing, “Does your champion ever intend to actually fight?”
“Oh, he’ll fight. See? He’s fighting right now.”
“I believe that’s mating, though I believe your species doesn’t typically do that to architecture.”
“Any moment now, he’ll be doing it to your random space robot’s face! Then you’ll see.” I told him all that, but I began to have my doubts. Max warned me that making a monster bigger and more powerful, especially in such a short amount of time, left them rebellious and prone to turn on their masters. Like teenagers. And like a teenager, Mystery Monster had started sticking its parts into strange things not meant to hold it. In public, again like a teenager.
I decided to send in the Electric Eye, setting Sir Mix-A-Lot down in the hopes he could find his way back to his fiefdom without my help. Electric Eye rocketed up onto the building that was a-rockin’ because Mystery Monster came a-knockin’ and called down to it, “You stop humping this and go hump that other thing this instant, or you are ground! You’ll be turned into Mystery Meat when I’m done with you!”
Turns out he’s a lot faster with that club than I anticipated, but still not fast enough to smash Electric Eye. Eye threw it to the side and missed the domestic abuse visited upon the poor building that been drilled by MM. Figuring Eye finally had its attention, I sent the smaller robot zipping around toward the bigger one.
“You cannot have two champions in a single fight! We agreed to one-on-one battles!” Cercopagis yelled at me over the Hotline.
“Don’t worry your golden panties off. Electric Eye won’t fight.” The Mendes Configuration tracked it anyway, a red laser light appearing and growing larger as if considering an attack as the smaller robot approached, then stopped right in front of the single orb that made up its combined eye and head. Except while Mendes paid attention to Electric Eye, Electric Eye paid attention to Mystery Monster and cut its rockets, ending this dance of alliteration.
Fancy souvenir snow globe from a space knickknack store or not, the Mendes Configuration didn’t take that laying down. Unfortunately, it didn’t even take it kneeling down or losing oil control. It unloaded some sort of beam onto Mystery Monster that scorched the flesh of its chest, bring a wail out of the monsterized human. MM responded by bringing its club down on the robot’s head. That forced the robot into a squat. That turned out to be a bad position when facing an opponent with a biological drill in place of its private parts.
Right about then, the news censored the fight with black bars. It didn’t help that I inserted sounds from some porno. Debbie Does Space, anyone? Is that a thing? Wouldn’t be the first time some shit I made up to be funny turned out to be real.
Things seemed to be going well. And, as Sir Mix-A-Lot’s cameo appearance early indicates, that clearly foreshadows a but. But, the Mendes Configuration reached down and grabbed the drill with its pincers. It squeezed. It tore. It simultaneously caused billions of men around the world to reach for their crotches in sympathetic pain. And then it shoved that drill right into the middle of Mystery Monster’s fleshy torso.
Mystery Monster stumbled back, pumping a different sort of troubling fluid onto the street below. At which point, its screaming mouth filled the air with an emasculated cacophony until the Mendes Configuration shut it up with a blast of whatever laser, plasma, or heat vision constituted the red stream coming from its eye.
Between the internal burns and the loss of what may be blood (usually, it’s not green), Mystery Monster collapsed and curled up in the fetal position. From there, the fight was purely academic, if academics often beat each other to death with their own severed cocks. Which, to be honest, would make debates a hell of a lot more interesting. It’s probably the only way I’d pay attention to philosophy. Because, let’s be honest, there’s only so many times people can go around with circle jerks about wondering if the world is nothing but a computer simulation. As a dude who has crossed dimensions, that means either I disproved it, or the entirety of existence is centered on me.
Sounds about right.
Unfortunately, the Matrix fucked me over and left Mystery Monster so smashed up by the alien robot that I could have renamed it Ground Beef. Except I don’t know what you call human meat. Pigs are pork, cattle are beef, but long pork is just a euphemism.
“That is one in my favor. I will let you start the next fight, Psycho Gecko. Consider it an act of mercy,” Cercopagis Lysis said over the Imperial Hotline.
“Go eat a mystery meat dick,” I told him.
Some days, you think you get a chance to use a giant robot. Other days, you see a thirty-foot tall monster get its weaponized penis torn off and then stabbed in the chest with said penis. Unfortunately, today was dick-stabbing day in the worst way.
“If reasonably possible, try to take resistors alive. If they act more like mindless zombies, don’t bother. We could restore their brains, but that’s just the hardware. The software would be gone. And if they’re aliens, kill them. Unless they offer a surrender,” I informed the men in my Australian expedition via Electric Eye Sydney. They didn’t look too happy to be working for me, and it didn’t help that this Electric Eye wore a dark cloak and black leather clothing to hide its appearance.
Elsewhere, a voice asked, “Talking to yourself?” My actual physical head swiveled toward the source of the voice. Someone was actually there in my “throne room” back in The Hague in the Neither World. My eyes found Venus, my longtime archenemy. She’d escaped awhile back, and apparently traded in her Slave Leia costume for something more practical. I ignored her while my mind concentrated on the task of dealing with the situation in Australia.
“We know Technolutionary is using the Sydney Opera House as a forward base. It’s a supervillain thing.” It really is. I wrecked the Statue of Liberty once, and destroyed the Empyre State Building in Empyreal City. It’s about showing off. Rarely does a supervillain gain infamy from blowing up Alberto’s Taco Cart or burning down a Burrito Bell. Depending on the frequency of dysentery in a population, the latter might even make them a hero.
“It doesn’t matter to him if anyone volunteers for any of his experiments. Some of the locals claim that anyone who does volunteer, he turns into the same species of human as Pyscho Gecko. Those who don’t gain a new outlook on life. A computer-in-the-brain outlook on life. Simmons, what are the Fluidics doing?”
Back in the Hague, my translation program worked to solve the problem of military jargon and give me a basic understanding of what the man said. Roughly speaking, there are between a dozen and two dozen aliens in Sydney attacking cell towers, radio towers, satellite uplinks, and anything else that extends my control over the population there. They are scavenging parts and equipment as well. We couldn’t get close enough to see what. On top of that, they’re fighting Technolutionary. They launch attacks every now and then, especially whenever Technolutionary sends a convoy of human-bots off into the wilderness of the Australian interior. If I had to guess, they weren’t onboard with Technolutionary’s little rebellion. It might even be why the shield wasn’t operating at full capacity, though there were too many other factors to tell for sure.
The original briefing involved significantly more acronyms.
“Yes, we’ll try to avoid taking on the aliens. Remember: the enemy of my enemy is my enemy’s enemy. Don’t get me started on enemies who like to keep sea life as pets, because that’s my enemy’s anemones and signficantly more complicated,” I warned them, in part because “enemy’s anemones” is really fun to say. “I suspect following a convoy would lead us to the ship. I won’t tell you the best way to do your jobs, since y’all have your own way of kicking ass and taking names. The Recon Marines have secured transportation, so they’re task is to find the enemy ship, infiltrate it, and damage to the point of failure anything that looks like one of these drawings.”
Electric Eye passed around some drawings I worked hard on, in the sense that I had the robot connect to a printer and create them based on what I managed to pull off the ship I’d commandeered that time, and the shuttle I crashed back to Earth on. They presented the soliders with depictions of the ship’s reactor and capacitor, power transfer nodes and a few important backup fuses, and the shield system itself. Any one set of targets and redundancies should incapacitate the shield.
The marines left, a pretty good bunch. While some would disparage the brains of men and women in the armed forces, recon marines have to be especially tough and bright for their job. Typically, they leave the officers behind and head into hostile territory in smaller groups, to infiltrate, sabotage, and neutralize. A hands-off mission to sneak in and blow shit up is right up their alley. So off they went to slay a dragon and win a fancy-ass sabre while I nailed the kidnapped princess.
“Don’t you ever turn on a light in here?” Venus asked again from where I sat. I preferred the darkness there, actually.
I broke away from Electric Eye to address her. “I’m surprised you came back, but I’m busy.”
“You were busy the other day, too,” she said. Then I remembered her comment on me talking to myself hadn’t been the same day.
“You could say I’ve been distant. Mind elsewhere.” I looked down at her as she approached. Instead of looking directly at me or even sizing up my armor, she focused on the IVs pumping needed nutrients into my body.
She read one of the bags. “What are you doing?”
“Eating takes up time. There are too many problems. One moment, there’s a riot starting in Texas.” I concentrated a moment, going elsewhere. “It’s over with. One riot, no rangers.”
“Step down, please. This is going to end badly for you when it ends. Why is it so important for you to kill yourself?” she asked.
“Killing myself, secondary concern. You got what you wanted. I am putting my talents to better use, helping people. One phone-recorded mass rape in India stopped. Mass transit groping in Japan detected. Terminating. I appear to be one of the few thinking with the correct head on this planet. I- oh come on, you Pakistani bastard, it’s a fucking chicken!”
She turned on a light. “At least something’s ending the robot speak of yours. You can’t control the world. It isn’t right. Someone will kill you. It’s the only way anyone can put up with you now.”
“Didn’t I tell you, under the influence of truth potion, that I was distracting myself before? This is me without distractions. One moment, someone in Kenya is wearing a leisure suit. There, another injustice fixed. This is the greatest good I can do for the world. This is the only way I can protect it.”
“The only way you’ll protect it without admitting you are wrong.”
Keeping track of her peripherally, my eye flitted all over the place as I saw things that weren’t there in the room with me, checking up on the world and keeping a portion of my attention fixed in the fuzzy image of Australia. “What are you trying to solve by talking to me here? This is useless and will not end the threat you perceive of me. Besides, it is within the right and potential responsibility of those gifted above their fellow man to guide the rest, as !Chinin said. Sorry, as one of the Founders of the United States said, too. I can look it up later, but this is why I prefer references your world can understand. Either way, the reasoning to the superiority of representative government over pure democracy is sound.”
Venus slapped me across the helmet. “This isn’t what I wanted from you. This isn’t being a hero!”
“I’m sorry if I defied your expectations, my dear Venus. I am not maintaining a status quo I do not believe in. I am helping billions instead of dozens. I just put out a fire in Irkutsk. I just reticulated a number of splines in Macedonia. Someone attempted and failed to rob a bank in Lima. I-…I wish I could sleep. There are too many problems. I am everywhere. Every cry for help I ever imagined, I now hear. I can’t stop them all. I can’t save them all. I can’t even punish them all. At least I’m trying. How dare you, Venus? How dare you hate me! How dare any of you?! Not one of you ‘heroes’ has even tried.”
Venus folded her arms. “Yes, some of us have. Remember Sexahol? You thought that was wrong, too.”
I remembered. An intoxicant hit the streets. Anyone who took it experienced affection and lust. It all turned out to be a plot by an old, retired hero to fix the world. His name was Breakdown. I resented being drugged and used my armor’s life support and filtering to stay sober. I also resented him trying to make a deal with me by offering me various Sexahol-drugged women, including Venus and Leah, a runaway that I went on to mentor briefly.
“You are seeing why we can’t. Even you can’t save everyone, and you’ve done something no one ever has before. No one wants to move forward with all these things you want to do, and I bet they move slowly in spite of your threats. We had to be drugged to be nice and loving to each other. It made us something we aren’t. You haven’t quite done that yet, but it would be the only way to accomplish what you want, and you don’t like it,” she went on, making a good case. She hadn’t yet gotten used to the fact that she herself was no longer human, it seemed. Thank Technolutionary for that one.
“I hate you so much sometimes, Venus. You’re like the little conscience I never had. I’m trying, ok? Not even that’s good enough for you, I guess. Now, I have to deal with aliens and Technolutionary in Australia.”
She looked disappointed, but told me, “Kick his ass.”
I hate her and love her so much. I sure did pick a good archnemesis.
Over the next few days, the SEALs and Eye struck against Technolutinary. Between the Australian military, the Fluidic aliens, and my guys, he could no longer risk convoys or even hunting parties to obtain more human-bot bodies. It didn’t help him any that the Aussies were evacuating their people as much as possible now they had a clearer understanding of what Technolutionary did to people.
Taking out the other supervillain didn’t even matter so much to me. The primary goal of the expedition was the shield. Once it fell, I’d have a world’s worth of military might to rain down on him. Under siege, Technolutionary could no longer reinforce the ship.
Finally, Eye received an acknowledgment from the marines that they found the ship and were going in. Technolutionary must have had some sort of communication with his minions there as well, because he made a push with all his forces, heading in that direction.
Well, as many of his forces as he could. The humans helping him seemed to peel off and stop in the face of the firepower arrayed against them, having neither the loyalty of the human-bots, nor the flying power armor of Technolutionary himself. Eye saw his form-fitting purple armor fly off, emotionless metal face hiding any panic in his real one.
But Electric Eye had rockets. Eye flew and caught up to Technolutionary, timing it so Eye’d catch him just past the edge of the city. He turned and unleashed a cloud of micro missiles. Eye threw off my cloak, letting them suffer premature detonation as the robot closed the distance. He seemed surprised when Eye reached into the top of my back-mounted aquarium, pulled out an octopus with a bit of blue on it, and tosses it at him. Unfortunately, it hadn’t kept very well. Neither did those really bitey clams. Even worse, there had simply been no way to bring in a shark.
Still, it distracted him enough for me to get close. He could blast those animals all he wanted, so long as it let me close enough to whip out my Koala-chuks. The critters were ornery and more than happy to claw away at the armored man Eye swung them at. Then again, most animals would have that response if they had a stick of wood shoved up their ass with a chain attaching it to another of stick of wood shoved in another koala’s ass.
“Who are you?” he asked, bringing his palms together to fire a burst of white-hot plasma at me that Eye effortlessly deflected with a now-sizzling marsupial. He maneuvered backward, firing to suppress me and keep his distance.
A distorted voice answered, singing. “I’m made of metal! My circuits gleam! I am perpetual, I keep the country clean! I’m electric, Electric Eye. I’m protecting, electric spy.”
With that, Eye switched the Koala-Chuks to my left arm. I fired the rocket on that arm, which disconnected and flew at him, koala’s spinning. While he shot at it, Eye fired my right arm on a course for the other villain’s metal codpiece. Ding, ding, ding! It’s not the sound of game show victory so much as repeated armored groin punches.
Technolutionary punched something into a control panel on his left wrist, then slashed at the groin punching arm. A glowing beam sword erupted just in front of his left hand and cut through the rocket. He swung it up to disarm the other hand of its koalas, leaving one to scream for help as it plummeted back to earth.
Seeing that, Eye fired the legs next. They circled him for a few seconds. Then he jerked around, remembering the ship. His armor carried him off, with Electric Eye following. The robot tried to throw him off while avoiding the blade, doing little more than banging its foot uselessly against an ass ensconced in purple armor. Eye even managed a good headbutt at one point, which I like to think justified the decision to add a robotic butt to this Electric Eye robot.
Before long, Eye saw the ship in the distance. But before either of us could reach it, the transparent shield rippled and faded away. I felt whole again. And angry. And like a man who suddenly controlled a lot of aircraft, anti-air missiles, and drones. Electric Eye stopped and let him continue his useless pursuit of the ship. The missiles launched by those lovely American aircraft under my command convinced him to do the same as he dove into the wilderness avoid them. We lost track of him, last heading so far west, he’s probably at the Hutt River. Well, he’s Jabba’s problem now, and if he ever resurfaces, he’ll be in deep Bantha poodoo.
A helicopter helped get the recon marines out of the area before another set of missiles made sure Technolutionary wouldn’t have any more alien ships or forcefields to cause trouble with.
As for the aliens, if they hadn’t surrendered, I’d have housed them in a smoking crater. The fact that they did…well, I could say that I listened to my conscience, annoying as she is, and let someone live. Or I could focus on preparing this new statement I’ll release in a few days about how, thanks to the treasonous efforts of a resistance leader named Technolutionary, the evil, genocidal, mind controlling Fluidics managed to escape in a pair of shuttles, no doubt to gather reinforcements. If I keep this up, I’ll have people practically salivating to follow my lead every time I ring a bell and claim “Aliens want to attack us for our freedoms!”
Just think, some critics actually claim I can’t control what people think.
Things aren’t going so well. Enough beating around that bush, right? I’m sure I inspired a lot of confidence in my dear readers last time with all my talk of the economy and so on. I even figured out another way to better motivate my naked religious dancers in the Middle East: threaten to kill the worst-performers. I think it’s bringing people together.
But that’s not all that’s going on. Let’s start with the nightmares. Everyone gets them, even me. Ya know, a handful of times a month, more often in certain conditions. Stuff that reminds me of now and back in the old world. Like this one I had, I was leading an army of zombies, but then they all turned on me, except they had superpowers and I couldn’t stop them all, even with the motorcycle I had in the dream. It had a chrome battering ram built in to the front instead of a light, and the head of the ram was a hand giving the middle finger.
Now, normally this kind of thing isn’t so much of a problem, even with the increased frequency, but the method of maintaining my power complicates things. It’s not just me waking up punching. Plus, it’s way more confusing when you actually wake up in someone else’s body and have to remember to get back to your own. Or waking up as multiple people. Which can be dangerous for other people in bed with that person. I swear, some people shouldn’t be seen naked. And sometimes I’m those people.
For those times when I’m not, my imagination is tempted to run wild like Hulkamania did back before Hogan got caught on tape being racist in bed with another man’s wife. Sadly, I’m a lot less fun right now. It’s one of the reasons why I resent Venus even as I force her into boobtastic outfits and chain her up close to me. When I have to concentrate, I can be as perfectly warped as any normal person, regular people often being inherently circumspect in desires.
Regular folks will say “I swear I’m going to be rich someday” or “It’s a sure-thing investment!” or “I pray God will bless me financially,” but think it’s absolutely crazy if someone goes, “I hope I get lucky and become rich somehow.” It’s all in how you word things to them, which is a bit upsetting to the mentally ill. They probably don’t like their problems compared to people who speak their mind or to folks like myself, which the regular folks would know if they hadn’t decided to clamp car batteries to crazy patients’ nipples and call it therapy.
In that way, I’m disappointed to see that people don’t know a good thing when it takes over the world. I’d probably try to rub the point in Venus’s face just because I can, but she ran off. Yep. Woke up and the chain was cut through. Where does she hide those wonderful toys? Eh, I can think of a couple of spots where a woman can hide things of variable size, especially if they’re in some sort of elongated shape.
And people keep resisting. I get that some folks feel you can’t force people to change, and they think that progress just means bad shit happens faster, but I’ve seen otherwise. I could spout off some conquerors and empires from my world, but I understand that one to be quite a bit different from this one. And anywhere this little blog of mine goes, it’s probably to a nearby universe with a great deal of similarity up to a certain point. Plus, I’ve become a fan of my adoptive home. Don’t tell anyone.
So, sure, you can’t force people to change their beliefs, unless it’s Hellenism. You can’t mandate fairness, Hammurabi. You cannot radically change the future of the world with nothing but a tiny bit of conquest, Mongol Khans. Traditional destructive religious practices can’t be forever ended, even by someone as bad as Spanish Conquistadors.
And so I am opposed. In Japan, they put down last year’s insect-based monsters who wished to take over, but now they’ve got another batch popping up who want to destroy everything. Something about being the Oni of Discordant Melodies or something. I saw one the other day, through the eyes of someone over there. The monsters look like musical instruments, except for the minions. They thin, either all white or all black, and have limbs that look like they’re made of lots of wires in the shape of arms and legs. They’ve already got someone opposing them, the Ongaku Rangers, but I have to support them to make sure. Anyone whose goal is the utter destruction of all other life on earth is stupid, but they only have to succeed once. Ya know, because then everyone will be dead. That’s a tough one to come back from, barring time travel. And that’s awkward, because then you might just be going to an alternate reality, full of copies of the real people you saw die. And I’d like to say that’s none of my business, but as the King of Earth, my duty is as clear as my need to dress up as Elvis for Halloween.
See the sacrifices I’ve made? People question whether or not I’m just some madman who wants to control everything, but I’m willing to help out a group of Rangers. It actually makes me feel a little disgusting, like right down around my balls. Still, they ought to be grateful for that artillery strike. That shamisen didn’t fuck around when it came to stringing them up.
Other bad guys have also tried to be a problem, but most of them tried to get their hands on the nanites, too. Hephaestus/Faustus used them to bring some villains back from the dead back when they were sending others of the superpowered criminal persuasion after me, so some very jealous folks have been exposed. Plenty of others just wanted the protection and security of pumping tiny machines they don’t understand into their bodies. Eh, I shouldn’t sound so smug about that, or people will confuse me for an anti-vaxxer.
But there’s always some people. Someone tried to mail me a toy bomb. As soon as I figure out who it was, and I have one or two ideas, then I’m going to break some bones and have them sealed inside a hippopotamus sex doll. Then, while they’re getting some, I’m going to fuck their spouse. Or their mother if they aren’t married. Or their kid. Hopefully a teen or adult kid, too, or this is going to get some people other than me in a hell of a lot of trouble.
This is all starting to sound a little dark and dramatic. Let me start over.
Things are going great. I received a very respectful diplomat from The Claw today, who insisted on giving me lots of stuff I might like, including my very own giant lobster in a tank. I’d heard those things exist, but nobody in the rest of the world ever found proof outside of unusually big claws inside the stomachs of scarred sperm whales. I have decided to call him Huggy. The ambassador, who wore a more regal, robed version of the Claw minion outfit, asked to please speak with his master and consider the use of his knowledge and experience for my administrative needs. Angling to be put in control of more than just his own country, I reckon. Fishing for favoritism, you might say. I’ll consider it. I like Huggy. He reminds me I need to bring Moai over.
I also spent awhile dealing with some wannabe-separatists. North Korea, for example. I have a bit of a grudge with the Kim family, and that didn’t help things. They claimed to have a nuke and said that if they weren’t given better position, I’d face the wrath of mighty missile!
Electric Eye Seoul strolled right past the DMZ, indulging in the time-honored tradition of blasting subversive music for all the North Koreans to enjoy. The Northerners hate that part. I started with “Dance Magic,” when crossing the border, but by the time I dragged little Kim out of his private roller coaster in Pyongyang, I’d gotten all the way to “Party in the CIA” in my North Korean Invasion Playlist. It didn’t even matter that Electric Eye Seoul had less violent adaptations to his environment. It had four arms for better competitive esports, which I justified by giving it different weapons. A laser here, a napalm squirter there, a cylindrical mass of rotating sawblades, and a high-velocity ice cream launcher. Why settle for a freeze ray when I can soft-serve some vengeance?
All of that, unnecessary. High command didn’t do anything, in part because the leaders of the country made sure they had all the best medical care. Their underlings were almost entirely out of my control, but the rule of fear had done such wonderful things to their initiative. They would give their lives out of fear for what the Kim family would do to them if they didn’t obey, but they weren’t about to do something that, for all they knew, would be the opposite of what their ruler wanted.
I’m sure there’s a lesson in mistreating the people responsible for your success somewhere there, but hell if I know. I’m just the guy who stripped down Kim Jong-un to his underwear, made him dance like a ballerina in front of North Korean television, then killed him via ice cream hypothermia.
I don’t know where the ice cream gun has been my entire life. I’d say my dreams, but that night is when I had one where a hero turned on me, beat me up, broke my armor, and tossed me off to some foreign country where I couldn’t speak the language or understand any of the customs. I don’t remember if she looked like Leah or Venus, but it got weird when she had my old friend Good Doctor’s face for awhile. He doesn’t make a pretty woman.
Now, hopefully all this national boundaries shit will go away once people have to divide up along different lines.
Ah, but I’m forgetting about the Quebec people. The bane of Canada for so long, only for me to inherit the problem. They blew up a tv station as a way to stick it to the man. I love sticking it to men as much as the next bisexual person, but this time the man is me. And I do not look like the sort of person I would stick it to. So now I’ve got the Electric Eye from Los Angeles up there in Montreal, cyclopean eye laser read to carve through my enemies.
Unfortunately, they’re not rushing out to fight, and it’s a little difficult to burn down the frozen north until they’re forced out of hiding. On top of that, I’ll bet I’ve got plenty of similar groups who decided that separatist causes are still all the rage. I’ll have to watch out for the Irish, Basques, and the entire Middle East.
No, that wouldn’t do, so I contacted the great factories of India, Japan, and China, and put together a plan. Little flying drones with the ability to carry quite a bit of weight. When some elderly ex-IRA took out a cell phone tower with the non-alcoholic version of an Irish Car Bomb, these little clamp-happy robots swarmed in from where they’d been waiting. It wasn’t that hard to find them. What were they going to do, bomb a police station or church to get to me?
Well, they dug their dirty paws into my personal cereal box for the first and last time! What did they win? A visit to Canada, where they’ll no doubt get along well with people of similar goals as themselves. Or would have, if the Quebec separatists hadn’t assumed I was bringing in my own private army and ambushed them.
I like it when two problems take care of themselves all at once. It made me so happy, I ordered my North Korean army to dance for joy. It wasn’t a pretty sight. Might have to have them practice with the Jerusalem folks. I know this one Sunni cleric who is always trying to be the odd man out, which sometimes happens. After all, it takes two to naked tango.
Too many fucking people. I think I’m pretty much living with a headache now, but it’s necessary. I’m stopping them, and by them I mean several of the other assholes around the world. What world leader didn’t get the nanites? I sure as shit got the North Koreans to play ball easily. China, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, and on and on.
It’s widely believed that mind control, or body control to be more accurate, is wrong. You shouldn’t control another person because it’s wrong. For some reason. I guess they assume too much that it’s a matter of taking a good person’s autonomy away. And then they apply a bit of politically expedient cultural relativism. Sure, every time someone else interferes in the Middle East, it inevitably causes more problems. Except I control the people who would make the problems. Not just the leaders, the clerics, but the people. I didn’t drop bombs, I showered nanites.
Then again, why bother defending myself on that? I’m not a hero. I’m the bad guy, and I happen to be making the world a better place because I’m crossing boundaries that the good guys never would. If I wanted to, I could have the religious council in charge of Iran lining up to blow the Israeli prime minister, or vice versa. Instead, I’m just making them stop with the bombs. And having them dismantle all the nuclear weapons they already have, but that’s entirely incidental and in no way limited to the Middle East.
Officially, it’s a policy of beating swords into plowshares. Unofficially, nuclear bombs can have a devastating electromagnetic affect on a wide area if detonated in the upper atmosphere, something that this entire Earth could figure out with just a couple seconds on Wikipedia.
On top of that, I have asserted my will in other ways that have a dual meaning. For example, the internet. It’s a necessity for most people anyway, and a nice thing to have for those who don’t use it, so who doesn’t love the idea of a massive public works project to spread worldwide internet coverage? Plus, it widens my area of control. There have been a few problems as far as motivating workers there, especially since I’ve been doing my best to stay away from the prior stick-heavy system. “Don’t want to work, eh? Well I’ll just withhold the way you obtain food, medicine, and shelter for your family!”
Oddly enough, giving people food, shelter, and medicine makes some of them less motivated. On the plus side, at least it gave me an opportunity to trim some fat and get rid of the lazy ones like that. The grateful ones and the ones who actually like the work still do it. And I have a plan to get some of the lazy ones involved again: education.
It’s not easy. I’m trying to get rid of currency, after all, and it’s a system people are used to. It’s the system they’re used to as far as distribution of goods and services. Some of the food won’t be a problem there, since people are sometimes paid to destroy crops so the market price of food doesn’t dip too low to make a living off selling the food. In other words, there’s lots of some of it.
Then there’s the whole mess trying to get things repaired. Shit still whack, and I’m trying to motivate without breaking out the whips and firing squads.
In the words of Rodney Dangerfield, I feel like I just gave birth…to an accountant!
But seriously, there’s a reason why post-capitalist societies are supposed to evolve naturally rather than being forced into it all of a sudden. Advancements in technology and industry are necessary. Like how robotics and computers cut down on the work load until people don’t need to work so much. At least I wasn’t crazy enough to try in rural areas that are almost entirely agricultural, like some idiots did in the past.
And I’m sick of hearing about Marx already, as if nobody else had any economic imagination! The guy wasn’t even the only type of communist, and his stuff on history was atrocious.
Suffice it to say, if there was any communist I felt like taking cues from at the whole mess I foresee, it’s Stalin. I just can’t decide if it’s the bit where he purged the country, military included, or months later when the Nazis invaded and he holed up in his room with several bottles of vodka for a few days.
But it’s ok. I can control this. I just have to maintain enough control that various argumentative elements learn they can’t resist. When they stop, I can relax and progress will move quicker. It’s still early is all. They’ll thank me when things are better.
Hell, who am I kidding? I could create a literal heaven on Earth and people will still bitch.
Just like these bastards protesting me. There are groups everywhere. Outside capital buildings, presidential palaces, and Prime Minister residences. On the plus side, as far as unity is concerned, the ones in Jerusalem have truly brought people together. Muslims, Jews, and Christians all united to call me a big fat poopy head. I’m paraphrasing, of course.
That whole mess started when I had the Electric Eye there make an announcement for me: universal freedom of religion. Because I’m trying to show people the right way, whether they like it or not. Well, they didn’t. All three groups there started pointing to each other and saying their languages’ equivalent of “They will ruin our way of life!” and “You can not make us all atheists!”
I didn’t even say that, but they still ended up chanting “Let my people go!” over and over at me without any irony. And unlike that pharaoh, I’m not going to try and let them go after only the second time they curse at me. My reaction may not have won me any friends by forcing them all to quote a relevant bit of scripture to put things into perspective: “And then the Lord hardened pharaoh’s heart and he did not let them go.”
When I let them all go, they tried to get violent. They did not grasp the lesson about free will I tried to teach them. So I made them strip naked and dance with each other until they shut their mouths, then I danced them all back home. Good thing I had an Electric Eye there, too. That took a lot of fine control. Without that thing taking some of the load off, I would have resorted to murder. It’s a lot easier and convenient to obtain peace in the short term by just killing people.
A hand wiping at my face brought me out of my post-despotism reverie. I focused back on my actual body and realized I left my eyes open. There I saw Venus who, despite now being allowed to wear different clothes, still stuck close to me thanks to a chain. I told her she could wear normal clothes, then strongly hinted that the gold slave outfit was normal. She didn’t buy it and had me send for jeans and a t-shirt.
Now, for some reason, she had decided to clean up my face. “What’s all that about?” I asked.
She raised the rag up in front of my face, showing off a familiar red stain. I gasped. “Just because it’s your time of the month doesn’t mean you have to rub it in!”
“You’re bleeding,” she said, then continued to clean up a trickle of bodily fluid out of my nose.
“That shouldn’t be happening. I haven’t been spelunking in there, nor have my nostrils been exposed to excessively cold, dry air.”
She looked close at my nose, nodded, then looked me in the eye. “What were you straining yourself doing? Am I going to hear about it on the news, if you let me see any?”
I rolled my eyes, glad to have the laser one back. “You might, but any idea of a strain nosebleed is preposterous. Besides, if I’d killed them, there’d be a lot less strain.”
“You’re hurting yourself, but not killing them?” she asked, frowning. That wasn’t the complete truth. Soon after eliminating the International Court of Justice judges and asserting my rule over the planet, I brought up Electric Eye Rome and some nice Italians. Sicilians, to be specific. Cobblers. They fitted Mrs. Pretorious, the legal counselor so dedicated to protecting me that she had me dugged, with a nice pair of shoes. A bit on the heavy side, but that’s the fault of the material. So light, you’d swear they could walk on water, just like Jesus himself.
Mrs. Pretorious sleeps with Cthulhu.
“I’m not trying to kill everyone. I’m trying to help them, whether they realize it or not. They can be better, but I don’t have to be like other dictators. I don’t have to restrict them all or kill off everyone. I don’t need to get them on my side by invoking bigotry. The motivation issue’s a problem, though. Don’t want this screwed up by loyalty to money.”
She held my gaze. “What are you trying to prove to me?”
“I’m not trying to prove anything, except that they can be better. And if I’m going to spend so much of my time wanting to kill them, I might as well put my money where my mouth is. It beats whining all the time.” My eyes started to flicker from side to side as I felt another trouble spot tug at the edge of my attention.
Attempted rape. The man stopped in the middle of undressing the tied-up older lady and stood up, zipped up. He hadn’t been flaccid. Luckily, I didn’t have to feel the pain. I made him speak aloud to himself, “You could have just paid for a prostitute, you know. That’s legal now. Go to a BDSM club if that doesn’t do it for you. Safe, sane, consensual.”
He took a knife off the floor nearby that he’d used to threaten his older victim who, to the disdain of my own tastes, looked more like a granny than a cougar. I made him cut the woman loose of the zip ties around her wrists and ankles, then led him outside. Things were easier to clean up outside.
“Justice, like lightning,” I forced him to speak. “Ever should appear, to few men’s ruin, but all men’s fear.” I gave that a second to sink in, before adding, “Now, let’s go down to the local zoo, find the wombat enclosure, and see how they like to play with Mr. Winky down there, eh?”
I’m not that bad of a guy, see? Turned over a new leaf after all. I mean, I didn’t kill him. I didn’t even let him get mauled enough by wombats to lead to his death. He has no one to blame but himself for falling into one of the pens and interrupting the giraffe mating going on there. Apparently, giraffes get real ornery when you interrupt them having sex. The same could be said of humans. But still, I technically didn’t kill him.
It’s hard to be the king. It’s even harder when you’re maybe-sorta-kinda trying to be a nicer person in the process. Perhaps I’ll hold off on declaring myself “God-Emperor” until I’m less confused.
It surprised the hell out of me to be dragged out for more court proceedings after only a couple days. Regular trials can drag on for a hell of a long time, and it’s surprising enough that I even had a hearing already. To be pulled back in so soon smelled fishier than Denmark. That country needs some serious deodorant, I tell y’all. Something’s rotten there.
I’d been a little less well-informed of worldly going-ons lately, and that’s without any of the back channels to determine diplomatic pressure by various countries. All I knew is that the United Nations is a pretty useless organization. Coupled with how long trials tend to take, I naturally expected to be waiting here awhile, trying to think up things to send to y’all’s dimension. Like about this time I walked into a brothel with a donkey and a honeycomb. Ah well, I’m sure I’ll get to tell that story another time.
So let me break it down why I didn’t expect things to move so quickly, aside from the simple “trials move slow” kind of thing. Attorneys have to get some witnesses and figure out what they’re going to say. They have to access evidence and experts that can help their sides, sometimes then making time to share those with the other side. There’s jury selection, too, though I didn’t know how much that mattered to the World Court. To be fair, the last thing I’d want is to be judged by a group of regular folks off the street. They tend to be inherently evil.
Like a town full of ignorant folks who never met a gay guy but make jokes all the time until, when someone comes out, they ostracize them and bully them. The town grew up with that kid and loved him, but let their inherited prejudice mess with their judgment. So the churches keep on preaching that homosexuals are wicked, sinful things that should not be permitted to live. Next thing you know, the boy’s beaten to death or something and some of the town are all like “How could this tragedy have happened?”
Aside from my Polonius-inspired long-windedness, regular folks have a tendency to fail epicly at realizing the full consequences of their beliefs and actions. I just admit what I do, and yet I am not the single worst killer in this or any Earth’s history. Same analogy as above, just different adjective. I’ve met folks who said “I don’t hate black people, I think everyone should own at least one.” I’ve seen atheists decry Catholic child molestation, then turn around and threaten women who accused a prominent skeptic of rape. Police mock domestic abuse victims, PETA executes animals, . And that’s just in a “civilized” country.
You know, I’m starting to think it’s incredibly accurate when I tell people it isn’t hypocrisy when I do it. Or maybe I just seem like a self-righteous dick.
Moving past all that talking, I had to prepare for more talking. To that end, I let my face slacken and composed myself goofily, not so much in my usual sense, but to pass as if they had sedated me. Mrs. Pretorious, the esteemed counselor who acted as both my defense and the prescriber of my sedation, entered and assumed her accomplices had already worked their magic on me. Subsequently, the image of her leading my docile ass in convinced the others that I must have been needled already. That, or they all decided I was calm enough to let it slide.
Everything came to order. And then it didn’t.
“Before my attorney says a word, I would like to speak on my own behalf.”
“This is highly irregular,” said the UK representative.
“I am unfamiliar with the practices and regulations of this court. Perhaps as an opening statement? My attorney may object, but she is here to do my bidding,” I suggested, not having a clue.
“I would hear what he says,” said the Chinese judge. Apparently my inadvertent flirting the previous time paid dividends.
The judges began a whispered argument that I didn’t quite hear, mostly because I didn’t care that much. In the end, they addressed me with their most wise judgment of “You may not address this court at this time. Allow your counsel to advise you on our etiquette here, Psycho Gecko.”
I stayed standing. “With all due respect, this was not a request.”
A lot of things happened at once. Their civilian, i.e. Nonpowered, bailiffs took a step toward me, but stopped. The superpowered ones, or other heroes in attendance, also reacted. Captain Lightning hovered, but stayed right there. Lone Gunman went so far as to draw his gun, which I doubt he was supposed to have, but didn’t do anything else with it either.
“Right now, many of you are wondering what’s going on. You’re frozen in place. Good for you. Is there a camera in the house?” I looked around. “Camera man? Nothing? I know someone’s got to have a phone or a webcam or something.”
Captain Lightning, the most powerful being in the room who didn’t obey, nonetheless floated there to assess the situation.
Everyone in the room with a phone pulled it out and pointed them at me, turning on their cameras and allowing me to start streaming and recording. “Thank you. I want this recorded for posterity, now that I have made sure there will be posterity on this planet. If you’re watching this, you probably know me and hate me as Psychopomp Gecko, the guy who saved Earth. The guy who conspired and made deals, who suppressed his own instincts in order to gain the cooperation of governments, heroes, and villains alike. The person left absolutely hanging by all of them because of my actions in the past.”
I smiled, then thought of a nice little lyric. I swept my hands around to encompass everyone, “You’re so nice. You’re not good, you’re not bad, you’re just…nice.” I motioned to myself, “I’m not good, I’m not nice, I’m just right. I’m the witch. You’re the world.” Going back to speaking normally, I said, “So how about I stop lying for a bit. I am indeed a bad person. I kill people. Killing’s wrong, right? Unless someone attacked you. Or they’re the wrong religion, or country. Or if they might attack you. Potentially. Or if you just thought they might attack you. Or if you think they harmed you. If you’re a soldier, if you’re a peace officer, if you’re a jury. Someone murdered, so kill them. Someone’s been drafted, kill them. Someone’s politically inconvenient, kill them. Someone preaches the wrong thing. Someone loves the wrong person. Someone hates the wrong one. Kill, kill, kill. Just remember that you’re not like those heartless folks who kill in cold blood. Those dispassionate sociopaths. When you think of the people you killed, or had killed on your behalf, you do so with moral contemplation and an understanding of the value of human life. Right?”
Satellites around the world responded to my commands. It wasn’t as difficult as it might have once been to control so many at once. The world’s attention focused on me. To quote those of y’all reading this and rolling your eyes, “Yeah, that sounds about right.”
“But not me. I lie. I steal and scheme, poorly as to that second point. I kill people. Regular people. Innocent people. That is, people who haven’t been arrested or caught committing crimes. People that other folks want dead, but not you yourself, who ever you are. As far as those other people are concerned, I was right that one time. Right to work for your governments and pontiffs. A man hired me to end his life rather than wither away in pain. Really pissed off his son, who cared more about the inheritance paid to me than his father’s life. Funny how that works out. Killing’s wrong, and I’ve done so much of it. Then I committed what may have been genocide on a bunch of alien invaders who were doing a pretty good job of taking over your world because you all let them. They talked pretty and had everyone so scared of what they would do that you let them do it.”
Billions of people watched. Some of them did so of their own free will. Some found themselves in the same grip as the ones around me at the World Court, except they began to repeat my words in their own native languages.
I waxed lyrical once again, “Nothing we can do…not exactly true. No, of course what really matters is the blame. Somebody to blame. Fine, if that’s the thing you enjoy, placing the blame, if that’s the aim, give me the blame.”
I looked down and shook my head. “After all, I’m a killer, and a narcissist, and I probably think I’m a hell of a lot smarter than I really am. I am a bad person, and someone dear to me has attempted to make me see that I could be a good person. Oh, how I have debated it. In the past, I never would have even thought about turning over a new leaf, and I’ve gone through so many changes recently. Perhaps I might have changed enough to make it possible? Changed enough that my only inevitable end is no longer so inevitable. If anyone was to check David Hume’s grave, they might find him having an epic boner right now.”
Oblivious to the announcement, the thirteen Electric Eyes made sure to drop off their latest shipments of food and medical equipment. Going further than before, they began administering shots of nanites into folks themselves. They have so many uses. They heal diseases, restore damaged limbs, close wounds, and destroy those nasty alien mind control organs, among other things.
“I considered abandoning all such progress and devoting myself to that person in our own personal eternal struggle. I could be the villain that gives her the opportunity to be that grand hero she yearns to be. For mine own good, all causes shall give way. I am in blood stepped in so far that, should I wade no more, returning were as tedious as go o’er. Or at least that’s what the Scottish might say on it. But, alas, doing the right thing still nagged at me. And I have decided that I can no longer distract myself from my responsibilities. To claim to hate the world so much, yet do nothing but let people deliver themselves into my hatred.”
I turned toward the judges, who sat under my sway. The cameras focused on them as well. As one, they shook and fell over, their bodies already being seemingly eaten apart from the inside. “To be fair,” I said, jumping up there next to the dead body of one of the inferiors who would have passed judgment up on me, “I originally meant to do nothing with this ability but kill a lot of people at once. It seems I truly have changed over this past year.”
Captain Lightning’s eyes glowed before several of the bystanders stood up and got into his way. He’s a smart man. He began to understand the depth of what I’d done.
Ah, those regenerative nanites; they do so many things. It’s been quite some time since Long Life took some and began to build their own copies, complete with the old programming. When I found out, I made it a point to infiltrate one of their facilities and mess with the programming. Just a nice little backdoor to make sure I had access. As I’ve mentioned before, the nanites communicate with each other and reinforce their programming so as to better coordinate, further allowing them to pass on updates and orders to each other.
“Believe it or not, I do care about people and I have a strong sense of justice. Stronger than many people’s, I think. I like certain things about this world. I have friends here. I have stuff. There are some really hot Eastern European women I like staring at online, that kinda thing. I have decided that I will protect this world and look after it. Nurture it, help it to grow into a better place. But to do so, it’s only natural that I not leave it under the supervision of people who have so little vision that they’d treat their savior to a trial and so little competence that they couldn’t even unify against an incredibly well-organized threat to the entire planet. Which, I suppose, also helps to justify my ascension here today.”
In such an interesting coincidence, such nanites turned out to be effective in destroying growths that our recent alien invaders induced in people that allowed said extraterrestrials to use to control their minds, though they ran into some troubles when a superhero controlled by me messed with their ability to convert entire cities at once. Though, to be fair, that wasn’t the first clue an observant person might have picked up on. Especially not world leaders and other important figures who rushed to be first in line to avoid alien control.
I wish I had a bitchin’ chair to recline in at this point, but I had to settle for sitting on the corpse of some judge from the United States. “This will be a big change, but I will make this world better. Don’t try to stop progress and the transcendence of your species because you cling to the past like a monkey refusing to leave his safe tree and learn to walk on two legs. After all, Thomas Jefferson once said that, while he doesn’t advocate frequent changes in laws and constitutions, they must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. ‘As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.’”
I shrugged and patted the gooey body next to me. “Resistance is also ill-advised due to the billions of people I have under my control, whether direct or potential. Or under the control of certain infiltrators around the world who will direct people away from doing anything to stand in the way of progrss. Plus,” I waved a hand at the dead judges, not bothering to state the threat. Aside from being able to see through anyone’s eyes and bring their hands to my task, anybody recently exposed to the nanites could now be killed by the tiny machines. “I’d hate for my death to trigger some sort of killswitch.”
I eyed Captain Lightning as I said that, just in case his patience ran out. A man like him could afford lots of patience, being downright invincible as he is. Unfortunately, people tend to think that invincibility means a person can’t be hurt or can’t lose. They are so very wrong.
I folded my hands up neatly in front of me, knowing already that I wouldn’t even need to ask. My trial was over. They would open those doors for me and let me leave unmolested. More than that, this world is mine. “And for those who simply don’t like me…remember that I am the Psychopomp. I am the flail of god. If you had not committed great sins, god would not have sent a punishment like me upon you.”
They let me wear a suit. Or made me wear a suit, depending on your interpretation. I’d have preferred something to show off my legs, but that’s generally frowned upon for someone with balls. There are times I regret not being a woman anymore. It may be expensive as hell to keep up with fashion, but the clothes look fabulous. Much better than the fact that men’s formal wear is essentially the same thing we get buried in, aside from guys named Scott, who make Catholic schoolgirl skirts look horrible.
Mrs. Pretorius, the unfortunate person assigned to try and get me off in the least fun way, insisted I look presentable. She brought a suit and even a personal grooming kit. I don’t need a straight razor to cut someone else while shaving, so it was a gutsy move. I don’t know who she had to piss off to end up as a literal devil’s advocate to get stuck with me, but I decided to play nice this once. Plus, she gave me a somewhat convincing argument, in private. To do that, she insisted on actually talking to me on my level, which meant dropping to the floor.
“Please do not sabotage this. You have been an uncooperative twat the rest of this time, but please let me do my job. Do not make your jokes in there,” she pleaded with me.
Puzzled, I asked, “What does it matter? If they bothered to have me brought in over all this after what I’ve done for everyone, then I’m not going to be found Not Guilty. Hell, it’s precisely for what I’ve done before. If, of all the impossible things, I actually did decide to reform, they wouldn’t let me. So I will make jokes. What am I missing out on?”
She crossed her arms. “You could go free.”
The resulting laughter was mostly fake, because that kind of talk annoyed me by this point, even as she added, “They do not want you to be free.” The part that shut me up, though, was when she said, “They wanted me to sabotage your defense.”
She took a step back as I quieted down on a dime. “They?”
Pretorious nodded and looked me straight in the eye. “They refused to inform me of their official allegiances, but I believe the first group was American. The second, I do not know. The North Koreans were clumsy and obvious when they asked me, without an adequate bribe. People want me to fail so that you are at their mercy.”
“I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to be telling me all this. That said, thanks for letting me know people want to screw me over. By the way, I hear that fire can burn stuff. I am curious, though, why you even want to defend me from all that.” I cocked my head to the side.
“Justice must be for everyone, otherwise it is not justice,” she said, sounding all the more wise from her accent.
I held my hands over my heart, “Ooh, now my own attorney thinks I’m guilty.”
She nodded. “Yes. Guilty of saving the world. If you had not done the things you did, we would not be here to charge you. My husband and my son would not be here. It saddens me you wish to ignore this. Why save the world when you hate it so?”
What’s with people shutting me up lately? Dammit, I’m detaching from all this bullshit, or trying to. I have in it in mind to treat the world as my plaything, but people keep fucking talking. And I keep listening now. I’ve changed. Never would have paid it this much mind in the past. Maybe that means I-
Argh, enough of that epiphany. I don’t have to tell y’all everything. I don’t have to tell y’all anything! Especially on this damn precipice! And how can I take myself seriously using words like precipice?
It sat me down in contemplation, which Pretorious probably thought rude except that she knocked me on my ass with words. Easy for her to say, she wasn’t the one who blinked his eyes and would have sworn I saw dirty, huddled masses of cyborgs all around me. But then I bounced back up and happily declared, “To save myself. Everything else is, of course, secondary.”
Her eyebrow rose skeptically. “Maybe that is it, and maybe you enjoy lying.”
I raised my right hand up, palm out, in what I think might be the Boy Scout salute. “On my honor as a Scout.” I’ve never been a scout.
Still, I cleaned myself up respectably, having been thrust into so much more uncertainty after I just made up my mind to do horrible things. The absolute worst time to grow a damn conscience is when you’re on trial, folks! Well, maybe not when you are, but definitely when I am.
As for my hearing, I actually paid attention enough to find out it had to do with various objections and all that. Kinda like the part in Law and Order where someone pleads “Not Guilty, Your Honor,” and then the prosecutors ask that the defendant not be allowed out on bail. Every fucking episode with a case in it, even that one where Rocky’s brother-in-law is a rapist out on parole.
I’d been boning up on the legal process some so I could put maximum effort into theatricality and deception, which are powerful tools. I didn’t yet have a rare blue flower with the ability to make people see their worst fears, but I still have a few things in reserve that can cure constipation in a jiffy.
In the end, that didn’t matter. Not one fucking bit. They led me in, all nice and fancy to where the men in the powdered wigs were sitting around, but something happened just before I got in there. People had been passing by, with plenty of security and supers and all that. I just barely noticed an odd moment of what looked like privacy in the hallway ahead of me when something stung me from behind. I turned, slapping the bitch out of a miscellaneous man in black. I felt something fall off the back of my neck, which briefly confused me, but I figured I’d worry more about the member of Earth’s immigration office.
Except then the security piled on, appearing out of nowhere. Some very strong people grabbed my arms. I’d have fought, but I suddenly felt ok not doing that. Just really mellow. You know, like maybe they had a point and I should just chill. Wouldn’t want to fuck things up for myself, even if I didn’t like the smile on the face of Zed’s personal ball scrubber. I let myself be led away, though I did turn to keep an eye on the guy. He bent down and grabbed a small, seemingly empty syringe off the floor. But that was cool. It was aaaaaaall cool by then.
Looking back, Pretorious didn’t seem that surprised to see me sitting around all mellow, though she did have a little trouble at one point when I groped her. She brushed my hand away, at which point mellow-me grabbed a pen and almost stabbed her. She snatched it out of my hand the same time she stood up to address the judges. I remember getting real sad at that. It was a good pen, and it looked pointy.
Despite Pretorious waving it around in her hand, I took a moment to shoot the pen finger guns and say “Lookin’ sharp.” That momentarily stopped the proceedings. Due to line of sight, I’d inadvertently flirted with the judge from China. I don’t think it’s a bad thing. From the footage off my eye and brain memory, he seemed interested. I might have this trial in the bag already.
Yeah, weird thing about it, at least that tiny part of me wasn’t doped up on happy juice, or whatever they stuck me with. Though, given that it’s not the entire brain, there isn’t a lot I could have done anyway. At least my lawyer didn’t take advantage of my drugged state to sneak in a Guilty plea. Truth be told, I’m not sure how much I’d have paid attention to their court proceedings even if I wasn’t high enough to hang out on Pluto. Also, a bit of a tip if anyone ever visits Pluto: it’s a dog-eat-dog world. Not bad for such a trip; I certainly didn’t planet, and neither is Pluto.
Your groans of pain fill me with joy, and a tiny bit of wood.
Ah, but I am sorry I didn’t get to play my trump card. Sometimes, it seems I drag y’all along, dear readers, drawing things out. Whatever happened to numerous people dying in gruesome ways?
Then again, I do believe the Electric Eye bodies had a few moments when my mind wandered through the initial hearing. The one in Beijing needed one hell of a tune-up and upgrade. I might come to reget some of the additional autonomy, but my attitude at the time was like “Woah, you know what’d be cool? Not only can this thing do martial arts in a robe, but, like, what if it used folds of the robe as a weapon?” It’s got these little weighted sashes, too. These guys with matching Chinese lion masks found out the hard way that it will fuck a brother up. I assume they’re brothers, but I really have nothing to go off there. Still, we got one of them.
So, for being drugged up and pleading Not Guilty against my will, it turned into a productive day. I even had a nice lunch with my attorney in a semi-private room. I didn’t see anybody, but I’m also not stupid. There had to be some sorts of bugs all over the place. I know my corn had an ear.
Maybe it’s because of time passing, or getting food in me, or maybe I’d ask it anyway, but I did stop to ask Pretorious if she knew someone drugged me.
She politely patted at her lips with her napkin. “A friend of yours believes psychiatric treatment would do you a world of good. Without a better understanding of your various issues, the best I could arrange for was a sedative. What are you doing with your food?”
“Trying to identify it. Is this blood or some sort of gelatin? You know who I’d like to fight? A guy who can make gelatin. Just shoot it out of his hands. He’d be cool. You know, I have the power to make pudding. It’s usually chocolate, but you wouldn’t want to eat it.” I tried something experimentally. “Can’t I get something fried? With gravy? Like maybe some fried veal and gravy? With grits and stuff?”
She smiled. “It sounds like you enjoy putting harmful substances into your body. Perhaps we should continue this treatment until you are acquitted, yes?”
At this point, sobered up, I’m impressed. Also suspicious, but that just comes with it. I came down after being escorted back to my cell. Of all the times Venus had to team-up with a being of pure evil, it had to be a lawyer. And they’re conspiring to sedate me.
I’ve got a doomsday clock.
When will it ring?
I’ve yet to decide
if I’ll do good
Ah, but lame attempts at poetry aside, it’s so very tempting to take these actions as something to make my decision for me. But perhaps that would be a cop-out. I still have my ace in the hole. Will I tear it out of someone’s hide, or give in to peer pressure, tone it down, and try to be…ew…good?
It’s making me antsy thinking about it, but then I’m the one who lets them keep me in a hole like some mindless subterranean insect. But unlike the endless struggle between order and chaos, good and evil, Venus and Psycho Gecko, paper or plastic, this decision is one I must make, lest the world bend me over and impose its own…ideas…upon me.
No matter what, I am going to kill my lawyer at some point, too.
“Yeah, this is actually a bad time for me to do therapy today. I’ve been infiltrated by seals.”
“Do you mean soldiers or animals?” asked Venus.
I looked out over the bar countertop where a troop of seals were wrecking the rec room. “You’re going to hate me for saying this. Then again, you hate me anyway. The answer to your question is yes.”
“Will it take you long to get rid of them?” she asked.
I counted the number of seals, then took a photo of one with my eye and did some photoshopping magic. “Maybe. This one looks like a badass.”
Venus laughed as she saw the photo of a seal posing on the sofa. It had an eye patch, a beret, and a beard on its face. It smoked a cigar and wore a t-shirt with its own face on it, a bazooka strapped to its back and Captain America’s shield held in one flipper. “I’ll call you back,” I told her.
As for anyone wondering why I huddled behind a counter, that had less to do with the seals and more to do with a night of drinking and light debauchery. I’d have done some heavy debauchery, but the ritual I found off that porn bulletin board website turned out to be bogus. Sometimes a guy gets tired of looking at Slavic women and decides to see what the Whore of Babylon looks like in a cheerleader outfit. It’s probably for the best that the ritual was fake, though. As drunk as I was, I might have gone to bed with a succubus and woken up next to something with a literal goat face.
Which, come to think of it, is making me curious in ways I didn’t think I’d like. But enough about human bodies with animal parts; I had to tear some body parts off some animals. Strictly for non-sexual purposes, of course.
Actually, I didn’t go slaughtering them willy-nilly, nor even Willy Wonka (who had all sorts of interesting ways for dealing with children). Instead, I herded the bunch outside my icy fortress of doom and shored up the walls. I had to put extra work into that, with as much spare metal as I could spare from the building itself. The seals stuck around for awhile, trying to get in, then I convinced them to stay by throwing some scraps over the side of the wall. Maybe I can convince a couple to stay and guard my moat, which is otherwise unimpressive. What could I fill it in with? I got water, snow, and ice. If I use the snow and ice, I might as well not have a moat; this isn’t just an opinion, but an actual definition. And what would the water stop? Seals and penguins both swim in that stuff. If not for the fact I’ve seen them do it, I’d think someone was fucking with me on that point. I hope their ball sacks are internal. I suppose I could have checked, but no. Not taking time out of my busy day to check a seal’s testicles.
I had to pull kittens out of trees in new, exciting countries. Well, if kittens were Lenin’s preserved body, and if the tree was a fleeing nuclear submarine. He’d absconded with the cadaver early in the morning, but Electric Eye’s rockets allowed me rapidly close the distance. It helps that Russia doesn’t have too many ports on the European side of things. He still got out to sea and submerged before I could stop him, though.
I couldn’t just send Electric Eye after him. Underwater is possibly the most difficult frontier left for mankind. I would sooner send one of the Thirteen to space. Space is easy; it’s not a matter of how to survive, but just how to make survival last long enough. But hitting the water? That’s a hell of a lot more dangerous than hitting the ionosphere. That alone could do serious damage, not counting anything caused by what the water gets into. I didn’t build these things to fall apart in the rain, but it’s a bit different under the sea. The water can try to get everywhere, which reminds me that the pressure could seriously fuck up the robot too. That’s another difference: in space, the pressure problem is because you want to keep a relative few square inches of atmosphere in. Underwater, you have to deal with every single square inch of water around wanting in.
I set that Electric Eye to work while it tried to follow. The good news is, I had a rough idea of its destination. Old submarine captains don’t just hijack Lenin’s body to stop off at an English Dairy Queen. For starters, they don’t have that franchise over there. No, if someone goes Cold War crazy, there are only two major targets they’re thinking about. And one of them no longer exists. One is an allegedly secular empire where the citizens all keep a careful eye on each other for signs of disloyalty and where the state is more than happy let their own people starve in the streets so they can build up a huge military to push their ideology onto Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. And the other dissolved in the early 90s.
Still, a rogue Russian captain would almost certainly head after the United States. Just like how would-be world conquerors target the States, or how wannabe supreme beings go there to fight American heroes. Being the top of the food chain means a great deal of prestige goes to the one to take them down.
Electric Eye would be about useless staying in the air, and it would be difficult to wait for the damn sub to surface and launch its payload. I had to get underwater and take it out. I immediately set the Berlin, Rome, and London Electric Eye robots to work on the primary equipment and add-ons. Over in Empyreal City, the superspeed robot went to work on a backup in case it became necessary.
The Moscow met each along the way, though Rome was a bit of a side trip. That one, by the way, I’ve outfitted with a large cross it carries on its back, the long portion of which is just a sheath for the sword that the upper portion serves as a handle and guard for. That Electric Eye received a sword less out of necessity and more because that looks awesome.
I wouldn’t have had EE Rome lug that sword up to meet EE Moscow in the first place, but Europe’s small like that. I think I’ve mentioned, that’s why they are so much better about languages than Americans. They have entirely different countries all over the place, and each one just has to have its own language. The American continents have two major languages that can get people anything they need, but every country in Europe wanted to be their own kingdom with their own way of talking.
Naturally, I blame the Thracians. They’ve had an easy ride for too long, so I’m putting this on them. I swear, just think about the Gaul of those Thracians!
EE Moscow, as I’m calling it because that works better than numbers, received armor from the other three. Smoother and more streamlined, I cut down on the time to build it by acquiring pieces from elsewhere, though I wouldn’t say I acquired them in a single knight. A few different ones, maybe. The craftsmanship was downright medieval, but time necessitated making due and making it watertight.
Along with the armor, it also received fuel for its rockets and modifications for other systems. Had to make the rockets a little better for underwater operations, add better sonar capabilities, and do this thing for the top of its new helmet that would allow it to pull a neat trick to move faster underwater. The formal words fail me, something about cavitation, but air is less dense than water and it has been found that creating an air bubble underwater allows torpedoes and submarines to move faster.
If only it had been the Berlin robot, the names I had to pick from would have been more appropriate. I couldn’t settle on calling it Das Bot or U-Bot before it took off over the London channel and aimed for the water. I had a rough idea of the capabilities of the modern-day craft as well as the quickest route it could take, and set the bot to search and destroy.
See, depending on the route, it takes between five days and a week to cross the Atlantic ocean in most civilian boats. Civilian boats. A military ship can go faster, with some submarines capable of making the trip twice as quickly. Depending on how they’re built, some subs are faster submerged, others are faster on the surface. And that’s not even counting all the information about their capabilities that stays hidden due to the fact that militaries frequently don’t like letting potential enemies know what limits their ships operate under. Same reason the U.S. Air Force was more than happy to let people mistake the Blackbird and U-2 spy planes as aliens back in the day.
I didn’t underestimate the speed of the enemy. No, I just underestimated their ability to stay quiet. I shouldn’t have, but I did. Numerous incidents have been reported, and some have almost certainly not been reported, of submarine collisions. Some are with ships that couldn’t detect a silent sub, and some were between submarines who couldn’t detect each other. They see the world through sound, interpreted by computers, and to that end they’ve become very good by design at hiding from such a view.
So good that my submersible, despite all the preparations, didn’t spot it until three days on, when it emerged behind the robot. It was a bit off the route I figured, but the amount of chatter it generated helped confirm that it was the one I was looking for. I didn’t have time to break through U.S. Navy and Air Force codes, but that didn’t stop me from hearing them talking back and forth a lot over the sudden appearance of a large, previously-undetected vessel.
I didn’t have time in part because the Russian sub wouldn’t have shown up unless it was ready. Indeed, EE Moscow reached it just as a pair of hatches swung open and two missiles lifted off. Electric Eye latched onto one and pulled its helmet off. It had come with a visor originally, but I didn’t take too many chances on the cavitation thing working perfectly. A sweep of its laser vision cut the other missile in half, causing an explosion of fuel but leaving the warhead to tumble back into the cold Atlantic where, perhaps in a thousand years, it would fuel an industrial revolution among the Lobster People.
Clinging to the remaining missile, Electric Eye grabbed it and hit its rockets. Fuel became a precious commodity for this thing over the course of the trip, but nuclear power still takes precedence. It helped that the missile itself turned toward the United States, and Electric Eye was able to add to that and swing it around back in a U. Not knowing how good their tracking systems were, I can’t say definitively if the Russians knew what hit them, except that it wasn’t a robot in any way.
Therapy is nice and all, but sometimes hurting people is its own reward. And by sometimes, I mean frequently. Or it leads to its own rewards, like hastily dropped wallets or pulled-out gold teeth. Technically I saved the day, this time, but if anyone asks, I’m just keeping the world together until I conquer it.
Laugh all you want at that excuse, but I’m the one who shall have the last laugh.
That wasn’t the last one, by the one, though I suspect I’ll have another big one coming soon. I can’t cool my heels down here forever. When it comes to my time to return to the world, y’all can bet I’m staying frosty.
Well, my villainous takeover of the recovery efforts hit a small snag today over in California. Most people know of a couple cities there, but a good chunk of the state is still rural. Two had been left without any rockets, but could still work tirelessly all the time without a need to eat or use the bathroom. The same couldn’t be said of me, and though I’ve found a local bunch of penguins, I have not yet managed to catch them and train them as waiters.
All of the Electric Eye bots are working and slowly gaining people’s trust, and Two is a good example of that. A bit of search and rescue, a little bit of stopping people from stealing television sets, and maybe a few compromising photos of celebrities while going door-to-door asking them to give up a little bit of food and living space. Russel Crowe didn’t need all those Twinkies anyway, and Bill Murray’s treating the displaced to free showings of Ghostbusters in his private theater. After that, this one disaster relief coordinator decided to ask for Two’s help looking into a communications blackout from a smaller town a couple hours away.
Manpower was limited, after all. That’s why the villainous schemes of the future will rely more and more on robotpower. That, and robots are more trustworthy, up until you make them too smart. Then, they’re like people. I know most people suspect that inevitably leads to a malevolent AI attempting to kill lots of people and take over the world, but how’s that any different from what I pull? I know I’m taking pity on the folks of this Earth, giving them some breathing space, but what’s it say about them that their first instinct on hearing something has become like a human is to suspect it wants to kill them? Then out comes the torches and pitchforks to kill it before it can kill them.
There I go again, off on a tangent. So while stranded in the Antarctic, I used some of my spare time to send a robot I built on a whim off to go see what’s up in some town out in California’s asscrack country. I did arm him first: grenades, retractable metal claws, and this neat laser idea using a clear visor. It didn’t look any more armed before, either, especially once I fixed some of the Kevlar to it.
According to the sign leading into the place, what I’m calling Asscrack, California had a population of at least 6,000 the last time anyone made that sign. I don’t know about interior decorators, but the exterior decorator clearly went through a brown and tan phase. This was the sort of place the army designed desert camo from. And, from the look of some sign they had up commemorating one of those some guy who died trying to take over a Federal wildlife reserve, quite possibly the kind of place the army designs that camo for.
Aside from looking like desert, it appeared to be deserted. Two drove the only car on the street, which just doesn’t happen. There may be places where people walk, ride bikes, and even get around on tractors, but it’s pretty damn hard to find a town where nobody’s driving. Even in an emergency; especially in an emergency. Emergencies affect food, water, media, all of which drives people out and about. Plus, with gas prices jumping up, it always leads to people driving around looking for gas.
I’ve been in the middle of my fair share of disasters, sometimes not as the cause.
Two stopped outside a sheriff’s station with a parking lot full of patrol cars. An impact registered almost immediately and knocked Two off its feet. Another one knocked a hole through the front of the car and the radio. A quick diagnostic turned up that the damage was livable, insofar as anything Two did counted as living. I let it lay there and pretend to have been put out of commission in order to draw someone out.
The someone in question appeared to be a young man with a beard carrying a gun a bit outside the civilian range of sizes. At least a .50 caliber. He took one look at Two and pulled out a walky-talky. “Call Vernon. Tell him the great enemy has sent a scout without the light. I don’t think it’s a person, but I have shot it dead. Hallelujah.”
Oh, wonderful. Religious fanatics. Mentally, I spun the Wheel of Cults to guess what kind of group was causing trouble. I hoped for one of the underdogs this time. I could see the Buddhists shooting up a hospital because all existence is suffering, or maybe crazy Hindus blowing up some slaughterhouses and stampeding cattle through a town or two. Maybe some Shinto or Native Americans pissed about the Black Hills.
Way too many religions to think about aside from that. Ancestor worship, Kim family worship, all sorts of pantheons. I know I’m controlling several robots, but thinking up potential terrorist actions of fundamentalist Pastafarians almost cooked my noodle.
It took about forty-five minutes for a small crowd of men to gather around, all of them bearded. Then they parted to reveal a man with the longest beard of the group: clearly their leader. The facial hair was a dead giveaway. That, and the crowd of females he brought with him. I’d normally use either the word “girls” or “women” but he had a bit of Column A and a bit of Column B with him, all of them wearing wedding rings. I checked. The Bearded One stepped away from his brides and approached. “Behold, the Great Enemy has sent a false man to be his messenger. The time of Tribulation is upon us!”
The group as a whole gave an “Amen.”
I spoke up through Two, “Have you killed the entire town?”
That made ’em all jump. The Bearded One recovered quickest, though. “I did not kill anyone. The Lord has passed judgment upon them through me, his most faithful of servants.”
“I suppose you’re also the most humble son of a bitch anyone’s ever met in their life, right?”
“Who are but a servant of the greatest evil?” asked Beardy. Damn, how’d he know that’s what Two was? Oh, right, lucky guess.
“My designation is Two. After completing my latest rounds of food deliveries for the hungry and helping provide medical attention to the sick, I was asked by Jesus Christ to look in on this town. He told me a darkness from the pit of hell obscured this place and kept him from seeing innocent men, women, and children who lived here, and bade me beware of false prophets. How are you doing today?”
“Lies from the mouth of the Great Enemy!” said the Bearded One, whirling on his crowd. “He is the servant of evil, whereas we are destined to bring the Lord’s love and mercy. We will shine His light upon the world.”
Right. Sure ya are, buddy. For all my faults, at least I’m not going around pretending to be a lovey dovey religious type who can just make the world a better place if the people I personally hate aren’t in it? I own up to my personal hate.
“Oh? You do not believe the Day of Judgment is upon us then?” I asked, making sure my chuckling didn’t go through the connection.
“Of course they do,” Beardo answered. “But they will never believe you, consorter!”
“How dare you suggest that Jesus is an evil power! I’m beginning to think you don’t know anything about him or his good news.”
I thought I was getting to them, but then one of them raised a gun and took a potshot at the downed Two. Quicker than the shooter could shit his pants, I jumped Two up and drove its hand through the man’s chest, removing the heart. Two jammed it into into the barrel of another rifle hard enough to stuff some of the organ in there, then took the gun and threw it at others, knocking a couple weapons free. It stared at another armed man and the eyes fired their individual lasers. They reflected off mirrored sections of the robot’s visor until the beams combined into one that shot forth from the center of the visor to burn a neat hole in the man’s forehead. One shake of the robot’s neck sent the top of the man’s head splatting to the walkway. “When will people learn to stop killing each other so senselessly?” Two spoke, even as it tried fry them with its eye lasers.
The cultists fled. Two followed, absorbing shots and firing back, taking down the odd cultist and following them back to wherever they meant to go in a panic. That turned out to be a town records office, which looked to be full of even more of this bunch. The building didn’t look like it could hold off a determined paperboy, let alone an unstoppable killing machine. Bright yellow stucco with white-painted wood.
The Bearded one called out from where he hid in the shadows of the entryway. “Don’t come any closer, spawn of Satan! We have inundated our new home with lamp gas! You step in here and I will burn us all alive.”
A voice spoke up from inside, presumably one of the cultists. “What, if you’re threatening to kill us and he’s the one that’s concerned for our well-being, who is the evil one here?”
Me, unfortunately for them. Two fired its laser into the entryway, sparking a fire that soon spread throughout the records office. Two made sure none survived, then reported back about the cult that killed everyone and and then suicided by fire.
In other news, I’ve stuck Three with Empyreal City and am shipping off the other ten robots to other countries, ready to provide medical aid, including taking loads of Long Life nanites to needy folks who are sick, injured, worried about leftover alien infiltration efforts, or just plain worried.
Meanwhile, I’ve taken advantage of some of the mixes in the liquor cabinet at my private Antarctic weather station resort to mix some adult snow cones. Brain freeze takes the edge off the controlling headache, but I’m getting better. Between being Electric Eye and trying to hold non-antagonistic conversations with Venus, I’ve been unable to embark as a diplomat to meet with the penguin clans. I don’t have much to offer them, anyway.
“What would you offer penguins for an alliance anyway?” asked Venus in one of our calls.
I shrugged. “Fish would be one possibility. Or maybe a network of slide-style roads created through careful grading of the ice. Perhaps an offer to help combat climate change, even reverse it. Hmm. Perhaps some sort of self-repairing heat shield set to orbit the sun at the same rate as the earth in such a way as to constantly cause an eclipse…” I began thinking over the problem, but Venus didn’t let me go too far before snapping me out of it.
“Hey, stop trying to think up ways to destroy the world over there. And thanks again for agreeing to at least start talking things through. It’s not about punishment, it’s about redemption and letting out that good person you hide inside.”
“Oh you poor, sweet, naive girl. Hey, shouldn’t I qualify for some sort of pardon? I just bring it up because it’ll get out sometime that I’m still alive, and there aren’t a whole lot of places if enough folks and/or missiles come looking for me. Which is the point. Keeping me here is about safety, I understand. But, and I say this out of the most frustrated part of my heart, I’m really tired of y’all screwing me over just because I’m evil, genocidal, and capable of destroying the world. Am I not human? If you cut me, do I not make you bleed?” I reached for my bowl of food. Ramen noodles, strained, no seasoning packet, but with a little soy sauce poured in once it was dry. Also, a sliced-up chicken thigh and some mushrooms mixed in. Cheap, yummy, and available even in the middle of Antarctica thanks to modern preservation. Hell, I might as well keep the food outside. It’s warmer in the fridge.
“I’m going to clear something up now, and I know you think I’m stupid. What we discussed that day when I used that truth serum on you…you wouldn’t have said that if you didn’t think it was true. You are aware of what you’ve done and that you think you need to die for it. That person is still inside you. I am not a hero to only fight criminals, but to save people. You can be saved. It won’t be easy, but I believe we can do it if you want. I know you are capable of stopping the killing and even of saving lives. In spite of everything, I believe in you.”
Stupid, in spite of everything. It’s like the cape cuts off the blood flow to their brains, even if they don’t wear one.
Just stupid, that’s all she is. I mean, hell, I only recently cleaned out the bodies of the people I killed here. They were good material for the snowmen guarding my ice fortress, especially this really big one with two skulls for eyes and a severed arm for a nose. I’m thinking of naming that one “Holocausty the Snowman”.
“What’s it going to take to make you give that shit up?” I asked her. “You left me out in the snow tonight, not a person to be seen. A kingdom of isolation, and it looks like I’m the king. The wind is howling like this villainous intent inside. Can barely keep it in, heaven knows I’ve tried.”
“Are you singing?” she asked.
Ignoring her, I continued. “Don’t let them in, don’t let them see. Be the killer you always have to be. Don’t feel, just kill. Don’t let them gooooo. Well, now they know! Let it go! Let it go! Can’t hold me back anymore! Let it go! Let it go! Turn away and slam the door! I don’t care what they’re going to say. Let the storm rage on, I’ll put a boot in dumbasses anyway.”
On top of being a wonderful villain song, it’s not a half bad way to end a phonecall.
“I think we need to begin by focusing on your difficulty allowing someone in, dropping your guard, and just being vulnerable with another human being,” said Dr. Madigan over the phone who, according to Venus, is a respected therapist. “I think you should try being passive and submissive with Venus a little bit each day. Not for long, but give her a chance.” A couples’ therapist.
“Are you kidding me? Is this happening right now?” I asked.
“I’m going to put you on hold Dr. Madigan. Alright, Gecko, I can’t force you to see a therapist on your own, but I could get you to talk to one this way,” Venus said.
“I’m pretty sure this is nowhere near the kind of therapy you think I need to have.”
“Is there any other way you would agree to therapy?”
Well, she had me there. “Ok, but I don’t see why you’re bothering in the first place. What you said the other day made it clear that you don’t really care about me. You just treat me nice as the means to an end. You just want to be nice to me long enough to make me less dangerous. Then out comes the handcuffs.”
Dr. Madigan spoke up, “In my experience, couples don’t seek therapy unless they want to save the relationship.”
“Venus, why didn’t you tell me you were bringing her back on?”
“Mr. Gecko, this is something we would need to confront at some point. Please don’t hold back or see me as antagonistic. In fact, why don’t we discuss this idea that Venus is only involved with you because she wants a submissive.”
“It’s not like that at all, Doctor. No, not at all. No.” Venus sounded like someone in a horror movie finding out they’d been the killer all along. “Gecko has done a lot of things wrong, and he knows it. I just don’t want to see him die. I think he can change and be a better person, even if he has to go to jail for awhile because of that.”
The therapist tsked. “Oh dear, Venus, is there anything that brought you and Gecko together that isn’t about your desire to change him?”
“Very good question, Doctor,” I added.
“Stop sucking up. He hurt me, Doctor. I hurt him too, in all fairness. I didn’t want the worst for him on general principle. He has done so much to deserve it. Then I found out the truth about how he sees himself and I recognize a lot of pain and loss in him that I used to have. I could have walked down his path in life.”
I spoke up, “I wish I could kill you for that, Venus. I wanted to so bad when you found that out. You know things about me that shouldn’t be known. I had plans to do something about it, before this whole invasion mess, but even then I had trouble staying focused because it’s somehow so hard for me to want to completely end you.”
Dr. Madigon said, “Do not worry about the hyperbole, Venus. It is unpleasant language, but it is constructive to hear Gecko express himself. Communication and expectations are important between you both. Mr. Gecko, Venus has hurt you and knows more than you are comfortable with. She wishes to change you, but you do not want to end it with her. Is this in spite of what she wants from you in the relationship, either because of the physicality or emotional bond you have developed? Or, and please take a moment of introspection, do you agree with her in spite of your personal hangups?”
I didn’t much care for Venus trying to throw me on a red couch metaphorically, though it tickled me a great deal that she’d pretended to be part of a couple with me all for the sake of trying to coax me into a headshrinking. Still, Madigan was getting on my nerves. And who has time to see patients over the phone these days?
“Well, even though the relationship started with and many days is still maintained by a combination of rough sex, cucumbers, and plenty of soundproofing, I feel that…wait, hold on, I think I have another call coming in.” I decided to get out of this, even though I felt a little bad. Venus pretended to be dating me for this, which couldn’t have been an easy thing for her to claim to someone. Hell, she’s put a lot of effort into trying to reform me for so long.
“Gecko, wait, hold o-” I’m afraid the gist of Venus’s sentence just didn’t get through to me. And you’d never believe that the phone has a silent mode that completely stopped me from hearing any attempt by her to call back.
Good. I had other things to do with my time. At the risk of sounding like a Marvel franchise, I’d created a small robot army after the attempted alien invasion of Earth. Really small. I’d significantly altered the template and made them stronger than the toy-like ones the Japanese were making. In the end, I had lucky number thirteen. Not a swarm, but enough, I think, to serve as a small tactical operations unit. Besides, controlling too many bodies at one time is a daunting task. I need to work up to it.
They could have been tougher, but that Japanese robot factory cared more about plastics and making short, friendly little robots. I built these taller, minimized the plastic, and had them spend much of the plane ride affixing armor plates to each other, except for one I left behind in Japan to get to work.
Yeah, plane ride. A lot of people were taking relief deliveries without looking too closely at them. That had the added bonus of allowing the occasional crate of emergency supplies to fall off the back of the plane, possibly into a pair of hands padded in cash. I’m not sure if that fell under Ferengi Rule of Acquisition Thirty-Four or Thirty-Five. The former states that war is good for business, the latter that peace is good for business. Either way, I still haven’t run out of references to sci fi aliens. Besides, despite their utter devotion to capitalism, I liked the Ferengi. I think it goes back to the unscrupulous ones always being the most honest in their own way, or perhaps I just really enjoy Rule of Acquisition Thirty-One: Never make fun of a Ferengi’s mother; insult something he cares about instead.
But enough about ugly alien mothers; I had to get my remote-control robot bodies better equipped so they could beat the ugly out of some alien mothers. I even needed more armor, but I felt ok enough about the one I dropped off on the West Coast when it stopped over. The others landed safely in Empyreal City, where they disembarked and made for my old bunker and its stockpile of spare parts, including the rockets.
I was just thinking how best to distribute them when I stopped to listen out for any crises in the area needing attention. Let’s see…escaped zoo animals? Run free! Let the humans keep you caged no longer! Besides, if people really want to see wild animals without leaving the city, they should have no problem with a polar bear breaking in to sleep in their refrigerator. Problem solved.
Next problem, trash pickups. Well, shit. The waste started building up once the garbage truck drivers took one look at what was going on and realized they needed to look after themselves and their own families, and that alone could keep the entire group occupied until things straightened up.
Hmm. I designated the one left behind in Japan as One, the robot on the other side of the U.S. As Two, and this bunch as Three through Thirteen. The team grabbed Three and went to work. Soon, a new face started cleaning up the dirty streets of Empyreal City. A robot with the torso of a man and the lower body of a Batmobile. That is, I gave it wheels and rockets, stuck some extra cooling units in its head, and ran its CPU a bit faster. Soon, it raced through the city to clean up humanity’s messes. For added measure, I had it stop by a store to buy itself a pine-scented air freshener to wear about its neck.
The others headed for a church that started taking on the new homeless. Saint More-Characters-Than-Marvel-Comics or something like that. Seriously, at least DC and Marvel can clear out some room by killing their characters, something that just doesn’t work in Christian canon. It must have looked intimidating when the church’s doors were forced open by a small group of armored robots. It certainly looked like a few people pissed themselves, but that also could have been related to the lack of available bathrooms.
“What in the name of God?” asked someone.
I stepped Four out in front of the others. When it vocalized, the voice sounded nothing like me. “I am Electric Eye.” It knelt in front of a child laying on one of the pews and offered its gleaming hand. “Come with me if you want to live.”
“What is this all about?” asked the priest, running down the aisle to put himself in between the robots and his flock.
Four stood up and looked the priest in the eyes with its forward-facing pair of cameras. Based on the man’s flinch reaction, the robot’s face needed some work. I didn’t build them to look particularly canny. “I am Electric Eye. I am here to help. I have found suitable living space for these people and will reroute food delivery orders to ensure they are kept fed.”
“I haven’t heard anything about this. Are you sure you can help them?” he asked.
The doors behind the robots opened and a pair of cops walked in carrying boxes. They looked at the robots and froze. “Ummm, FEMA wanted us to bring this by expressly? Is everything alright here?”
The priest looked at Four, then at the cops. “These, uh, gentlemen say they’re here to help. You said you had an express delivery for us?”
One of the police nodded. “FEMA said it was last-minute. Everything’s last minute these days. We have some more boxes outside.”
The priest turned to look at Four, which nodded at him and said, “I believe many organizations will find their efforts streamlined.”
The move didn’t take long, but I had to automate the Thirteen to finish the move into Double Cross Towers and take a break. It’s not like my employees were objecting. The aliens blew up the top floors of the building, their boss was exposed as a notorious (dare I say infamous?) supervillain, and the city is wrecked; they’re probably taking some personal time.
Controlling a single robot isn’t that hard compared to controlling another living person’s body, but the distance and number of robots involved was giving me a major headache. It felt like my brain was a spoonful of peanut butter spread over too many pairs of boobs, or whatever the closest analogy would be. That’s how I get a P & BJ at least.
And I know all of this sounds awfully nice for a guy like me, but that’s because it’s probably part of my plan, if I had one. Look everyone needs a break sometime. If I’m going to judge them so harshly for being assholes, I might as well throw them a bone when they aren’t so bad. Besides, it gives me even more options if (ok, when) someone goes to screw me over. Maybe I’ll get one to cozy up to Lone Gunman, the hero with a murderous grudge against me?
Now, to finish the crenelations on my snow fortress. I also have to keep some vegetable oil on the boil in case I get any invaders. And perhaps I can train up some penguins to serve as guards. I like penguins. I like them better when they know how to fix bayonets and charge.
Beware my sophisticated, high-tech plans!