Tag Archives: Elita the Warrior Woman

The Empyreal March 7



And I thought this was going to be hard. No, I really thought it’d take more to get the military to back the fuck off. Thing was, it wasn’t the reporter showing that the soldiers were rescued and being taken care of, nor that innocent people were hurt or killed in the attack. It wasn’t the illegality of the soldiers being in the city in the first place. It wasn’t the lack of reinforcements. It wasn’t all sorts of things that were so easy to predict.

Nope, it was the incompetency of the Commander-in-Chief. It’s amazing. I’m not meaning to make all this political, but he’s the one inserting himself into everything and failing. Apparently the idiot went and watched the clip of the video in the middle of some hotel restaurant and it leaked out. I’m beginning to understand what people mean when they can’t even. They chose this over me. They fucking chose THIS over me.

Worse, it totally stopped me from being able to hold out. I just… seriously? I had it all planned out. I’d let things deteriorate, push to get my connectivity restored, and push for having my recovery improved with nanites. Maybe have something dramatic happen, wake up to an attack so I can singlehandedly save the day. It would have made a great music video.

Seriously, though, this just seems like stupid way for things that to end. I mean, the military’s still around. When the school’s scouts came back, they just burst into the cafeteria talking about how the military’s pulled back to Central Park. A cheer went up among everyone.

Well, almost everyone. I caught a distinct glare from Good Doctor, who sat beside Elita the Warrior Woman. She didn’t look too friendly either at that moment. I checked my food, a plate of some of the worst meat loaf I’ve ever stuffed into any hole on my body. It probably wasn’t poisoned, but just because neither Elita nor Good Doctor tend to use it.

Good Doctor’s power makes him deviously competent at finding weak points. Armor, both natural and artificial, as well as all the various weaknesses of a human body. Got an old knee injury that acts up? He’s your guy.

Elita’s the muscle. Big, strong, and with the ability to level a building if she’s mad. Unlike me, that’s without using explosives. There are ways to work around that, but it’d be a very bad thing to let her get her hands on you. There are multiple parts of her body she could use to snap me like a twig, some of them more fun than the rest. Then again, no body part’s that fun if it’s breaking you in half. I’ve never had my spine snapped in an amusing and entertaining way. That’ll have to go on the bucket list.

It’s entirely possible they’ve decided my usefulness is at an end. The same thought crossed my mind when I passed by Psychsaur walking with Victor Mender. Minotaur stepped behind them, holding a clipboard and chewing on the eraser of a pencil.

This was a bad time to have things so readily on my mind. I walked away briskly, wondering if it made any difference at this point. But am I just paranoid and schizophrenic, or did Psychsaur watch me leave?

Down in my little prison cell room, I started packing what I could carry. I slid into my armor and wished the place had a few more exits. They might kill me. It’s really the only option left. If they try and hold me, I’ll keep trying to escape. Things will get worse. That, or they’ll have to stick me in a situation that’ll cause a major deterioration of my mental state. And considering my brain at the moment, that also means they’ll never let me go. Or if they do, I’ll be some shambling old Alzheimer’s victim threatening people while pissing myself.

So I put on my armor. I strapped my chickens onto my belt. I packed my half-rebuilt laser potato peeler, its single blade with a gap in the middle still not sharpened enough to my liking. I wrecked my armor-printing machine. I loaded up spare materials and tools in a handy little bag and opened the door.

“Going somewhere?” asked Good Doctor from behind Elita the Warrior Woman, who did a great job of blocking off the hall.

“Ah, my old buddy. Now, I know what you’re thinking: should I kill Gecko? I can point you to a website with several answers to that question that may surprise you.”

“Why do you persist, even now, in claiming I am your friend?” He shook his head, glaring at me from under slicked-back hair. He liked to do that before “operating,” if he had a choice. In one hand, he held one of his scalpels. In the other, his mask, a sort of leather helmet that encompassed a visor area and a lower face covering.

I sighed. “It’s how I’ve thought of you. A wayward friend. You were ashamed of what you were, but you were still a friend.”

“You know why I did it. She meant the world to me. Then you…” He looked down, then lifted his mask over his face.

I nodded. “Yeah, I did. Maybe someone else would have eventually. You knew what she was. There are many risks, and you used to be one of them. I did what I chose to do, but so did she. She could have walked away at any point.”

“Could you?” he asked, his voice somewhat muffled now.

I pondered the question for a moment. “Huh. Point to you then. But it shouldn’t have been a surprise how it all ended. I hate that I did that to you, but I have to think about my life. I don’t have the luxury of imagining that my death serves some greater purpose to the world than long-overdue justice.”

“That works for me,” Elita finally spoke up. “You did so much to the world, I don’t know why the Academy left you alive.”

I shrugged. “I owe them a debt for saving me, I guess. A debt they intend to call in. But yeah, bad things goes down when I start believing in higher causes. That’s part of why I miss just going around doing my own random shit.”

She clenched a very painful-looking fist. “Got any fancy websites for me before I pound you?”

Under my helmet, my eyebrow rose. So many things I could do with that one. I just had to settle with. “Yeah. Www.gofuckyourself.com.” I opened my mouth and let loose a piercing banshee scream in a tony designed to paralyze the human body upon being heard. A gift from my time in the Cube. They used it to keep inmates under control when being handled or moved. I replicated it.

Both former villains went down, allowing my to hop over them and head up into the school itself.

There, I actually found another group headed by my way. Minotaur, Mender, Venus, and Psychsaur. Venus was even in her power armor, all shiny with its heavy plates. I didn’t know how many of them it would take to whoop my ass, but I knew how many they were gonna use.

“Please,” I thought. I turned to head down the opposite direction of the hallway but felt my body lock up

“Sorry,” I felt in my mind. “Why?”

“I must be made whole,” I thought back. I tried speaking and told the approaching heroes. “I’ll go. I’ll leave.”

“I am afraid I cannot let you do that,” said Mender’s computerized voice. “You brought an attack down on my children. You have been a menace to us despite our leniency. Remove your armor now. It is not as though you can leave.”

Someone must not have found out Psychsaur cozied up to me.

I screamed again. Psychsaur tried to cut me off, and it stopped me for a moment, but that was a moment when her own body became like jelly. It actually worked. I could move again, while Minotaur and Psychsaur crumbled. That just left Venus and Mender. Easy.

A pair of cannons rose from the back of Mender’s wheelchair even as Venus stepped forward. “You can’t win.”

“Ya know, I didn’t even want to fight right now. Can’t you just let me go? Are your morals that set in stone?” I asked.

“Some things can’t be compromised,” she responded. She jumped forward, over the downed bodies of her colleagues. She punched with enough force to break bones. I caught it easily. The left hand came forward in another punch, and I caught it as well. A metal spike shot forward but didn’t penetrate my gauntlet. My HUD reported a power surge. My gauntlets fed incoming excess energy to my suit’s batteries. “Lets get you out of that armor and back in your cell.”

“Oh, look, that ECM trick.” I jumped up kicked her in the chest, letting go of her fists to send her stumbling back to fall over her stirring friends. I turned and ran, dodging a lightning bolt and catching another with my gauntlet.

This time, there was no telekinetic force catching me, and the rest of the students didn’t get involved as I fled the school and into the city. I found a building that’s unoccupied above the first floor due to damage. Hell, I escaped at all! I guess I should have realized it when Psychsaur had to lock me down on her own. Or maybe I should have realized sooner that I even could make myself escape. It’s confusing. What did I know and when did I know it? It must have been when she gave me the ability to cuss and hurt people again.

That’s it, Psychsaur doesn’t die even if she was the one behind Mecha Gecko!

So now I rebuild. Get myself a proper lab going again, build up my own supply of nanites. Maybe take over the city. The Ukrainians had to run and hide, so that probably put a damper on their big money-makers. The military’s going to be on its way out. The Master Academy is a bit defensive, and I already know these newbie heroes couldn’t fight their way out of a wet paper bag.

And I do have an agenda. I was serious about owing the Master Academy a debt. Despite my actions, I still hold to that. So first, I make Empyreal City great again. That includes making it a bit safer for them. And I kinda like this place. I think I’ll keep it around, and that means finding a way to encourage people to not completely abandon this city, blown up and disaster-prone as it is. I mean, it’s really been hammered a lot lately.

I’m not quite sure how to do that as a villain. I’m sure as shit not doing it as a hero. But I have a feeling I’m going to have one hell of a fun time figuring it out. I mean, that’s just a given when one of your first decisions is whether or not to assassinate multiple world leaders. I guess it depends on how big a bounty they’ll put on my head when I expose myself to the world.

Now, do I shave the pubes completely, or maybe leave it in some sort of heart shape?




The Empyreal March 4



You know what else I spy with my little eye? A boot. To be fair, the kick lost something since they sat me back in the chair. “Answer the question!” yelled one of the trio of soldiers in the room.

“Ok! I’ll tell you what you want to know!” I spat a glob of spit and blood onto the floor, then nodded toward the soldier to my right. “His mom was the better lay.” That earned me a punch along the jaw that felt like something popped over there. I think he felt it too. The human head is one tough bunch of bones.

That’s not a lot of comfort when his buddy got me in the gut with a punch from the left and the one in front kicked over the chair again, spilling me to the floor. With my hands tied like that, I couldn’t block myself. That makes a bit of a difference. After a couple of stomps, they righted myself and the chair. This time, I hocked a tooth chip loogie before laughing.

“Yeah, keep laughing. We’ll knock the rest of those teeth down your throat,” said one of them. It didn’t matter which.

“When you’re done with that, break out those sexy spiked heels you look so pretty in and walk on my chest a bit, will ya?” I threw my head back to laugh and caught a fist to my ear that caused me to stop and wince. Fucking ears, man. They just had to turn this torture session uncivilized, didn’t they?

They’ve dragged me in a couple of times, asking me who I am, where I come from, and what my powers are. The only answer I’ve given them so far is that I’m just a citizen who exercised my right to self defense. They didn’t believe me the first, second, nor apparently the third time. This time, instead of taking me back to my tiny cell in the reptile room, they dragged me to a larger holding pen. It had plenty of grass, rocks, and thin little trees that would make a very poor and very obvious ladder if someone attempted to use them to climb the steep sides of the enclosure. Not that any of the other people waiting around in there was aiming to do so given the lack of anything to down the trees with other than their own bodies.

“Shit, they got him good,” said a bearded fellow with tan skin who bent over a pile of branches, bark, leaves, and grass.

“You should see the other guy,” I said. I took a few steps, then flopped right on my face on the dirt.

I had an eye up where it could still look in that direction and saw the man pause and look at an old lady sitting nearby. Her wrinkled old face looked at me over the blanket she bundled up in before she said to the guy, “He’ll wait. I’m freezing.”

I gave them both a thumbs-up. “Don’t worry about me. I’m just gathering my strength. I’m secretly ready to pounce. Any minute now. Any minute.”

Bearded guy’s eyebrows raised and lowered real quick as the only commentary on that statement while he went ahead and started knocking some rocks together, trying to get sparks to catch. “What’s this place they dragged me to?” I asked.

“This is for the normals,” old lady answered. “They beat everyone to make sure we don’t have any powers. They expect someone would try to fight back or break out before now. I was a reporter when Jimmy Carter’s evil twin from another world showed up. Now, his men knew how to put a beating on. If any of my kids tried to beat someone up like this, I’d smack the taste out of their mouths.”

The fellow with the beard tried to one up her even as he worked. “It’s still not as bad as that time when the Chernobot attacked.” The sparks caught and he cupped his hand around the burning grass, feeding leaves to the flames in hopes the fire would grow big and strong.

“That nuclear-powered wimp? My cigarettes are more likely to give me cancer,” responded the old lady.

“What about the Rat Emperor?” a voice called from elsewhere. There were other people sitting a bit higher up, in groups.

“What about the Rat Emperor?” the old lady asked by way of answer.

“Psycho Gecko,” I suggested.

“He destroyed my apartment,” she said.

Meanwhile, our fire was starting to grow. The would-be Prometheus looked up and said, “My daughter’s school, too. He was an asshole drama queen. Good riddance.”

“Ooh,” I winced.

“There, there,” said the guy who just insulted me. “You’ll be back on your feet in no time. I’m afraid we don’t have any medical supplies, but you’re welcome to a room in our swanky hotel.”

I spent a couple days recovering, otherwise my escape would have been much quicker. It wasn’t so much that I couldn’t walk, just that it was really painful. I wasn’t going anywhere, anyway. Just an enclosure with high, thick metal walls all around except for the observation window. I didn’t see anyone back there most of the time. They kept them out of sight.

The lack of food didn’t do much to help that, either. They gave us stuff from military Meals Ready to Eat, just not the heating pads. The entrees are really not fun cold, but our civilization has discovered fire. Just not sure whether we should work on the wheel, pottery, or writing next on the tech tree. It takes a lot of work to get railroads by a time period best known as the early Middle Ages.

Sorry, but I made use of some of my downloaded games while I was infirm. Probably sounded a bit weird to the other around, but a guy’s got to stay entertained. Plus, it helps me practice. There’s nothing quite like being told you’ve ended Russian civilization. Now, if only I can get a rabbit’s foot and ramp up wine production, I’ll be the undisputed agricultural ruler of Stardew Valley!

But y’all didn’t come here to read about me playing games and drinking the little bottles of Tabasco that come with the MREs. Or listen to podcasts, though I’ve found some delightful ones. No, you came here to read about my amazing exploits as a premiere kicker of fine keister.

I soon found myself a night owl again, seeing sights others miss during the day. One night, for instance, I needed a break from Hotline Miami because the game was designed to cause headaches if played too long and found myself coming back to the world looking in the direction of the old lady. She had huddled over the smoldering remnants of her fire, her back and blanket toward the entrance area and its obvious cameras and the big window. She had her hands cupped over the fire and a small floating fireball between them. The old broad has been holding out on them.

A few hours later at dawn, the feeding door opened and a half doze soldiers rushed in, keeping an eye on everybody awake. They spread out, the moonlight glinting off uniforms that seemed unusually shiny and lacking in armor. Heat and fire-resistant material, if I had to guess. A pair approached the old woman, who sat up suddenly.

“You have a choice,” one of the men said to her.

She shook her head slowly. “You’re sworn to uphold Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. I have as much choice as you do. Are you going to defend your people, or murder because someone told you to?”

I could see the man frown down at her. Then he raised his rifle and pointed it right in the old woman’s face. A part of me got some wood from it all. The next few moments, I figured, would be pivotal.

“We have our orders,” said the soldier. The shot echoed through the enclosure and woke a lot of people up. I heard a baby start crying. The soldier looked up at everyone, then lowered his gun to put another couple of shots into the old lady’s chest. The others kept up a defensive posture, ready to respond if anyone tried to react while the pair that had approached the woman dragged her body off toward the feeding enclosure. I just watched and let them go. It’s easy when you’re as coldblooded as myself, especially because they almost certainly had reinforcements nearby in case anyone reacted emotionally.

Most of the group seemed to be in the dumps about it. Nobody, not even the bearded guy who seemed to know her, moved to take their place by her fire. They huddled up and tried to get to sleep under their blankets and next to their fires and all that. Everything was peaceful for about an hour. Then I calmly stood up, did some light stretching to knock the kinks out, and yawned. I turned sideways so I could address the people higher up on the ridge, which I put at about two dozen, and keep the window in my line of sight. “Anyone want to get out of here?” I asked.

“What?” someone asked. I turned and shot a laser from my laser eye, carving a quick circle in the glass of the window. Hurt like hell, the heat starting to cook my eye socket, but that’s the price I pay.

I ran for the hole, giving a Tarzan yell. A pair of soldiers stepped up, aiming their guns. Even if I wasn’t hurtling toward them due to momentum, I wouldn’t have stopped. Instead, zigged to the side until only the one on the left could aim at me through the hole and popped him in the eyes with the laser. He dropped his gun and held his eyes. His friend moved to take his place and got a hole through his forehead instead. I jumped through the opening left, wondering if the folks behind me would follow.

I know, why didn’t I just let them in on the plan? Because there were cameras and ways for the soldiers inside to figure out when people were colluding. The old lady’s death showed that much.

Once I got through the gap, I found it was a curved corridor with some nice plaster walls. I didn’t notice so much last time, what with all the beatings. A pair of soldiers came up around the curve to my right. I swiped my hand, catching one’s eye. He screamed and went down, but his buddy had a good chance for a shot. Would have, anyway, if I didn’t drop down to the ground as fast as I could. I quickly popped my fangs down and forced the venom sacks to squeeze their contents into my mouth. I rolled over and spat a spurt of Tabasco sauce into the second soldier’s face. He screamed as well, leaving one eye between the both of them. I barely even felt it this time as my laser eye shot out and severed the trigger finger of the one still capable of seeing.

That gave me enough time to stand up and slash their throats with my blackened zirconium fingernails, shooting blood into the air.

I heard gasps behind me and turned to see a crowd of the normals standing there, looking at bodies. “Grab a gun if you want to fight,” I said, panting. With a moment to think on it, I felt pretty damn tired. It was the laser. Imagine a sugar crash without the rush. But I didn’t have to do it alone. Some of the normals did step through and grabbed up guns from the soldiers. That’s when I noticed the bullet holes in the glass. “Hand me one, too,” I said.

I only needed it so far as the next enclosure up. The section the others had come from turned out to be another enclosure. Through the glass, I could see a pretty big group of folks, a burnt line in middle of an enclosure that had lots of dead, brown grass along the bottom, still wet from morning dew. On each side of the line stood men and women, a dozen in total. I guess they didn’t want to put too many superpowers together in one spot. Except, it occurred to me, they’d use tougher glass for that. It meant my eye wasn’t likely to do a lot to it.

Though, and this is when I felt kinda stupid, they still had a door that was pretty easy to open from this end. I threw it open and waved out at them. “Hey!”

I ducked as a fireball flew in and splashed against the wall behind me. I jumped out, showing my non-military clothing. “Hey!” I yelled indignantly this time. “Cut that shit out! We’re escaping, after all.”

The line, it turned out, curved over so that it divided up the ground leading to this door as well. On the left side, the supers started to approach. It was the ones on the right side, including one with fire, who were more cautious. “And who are you anyway?” Then he stopped and got a good look at me covered in blood and with weird stains on my face from the Tabasco.

When we opened the door to the next interior section, we found a squad of soldiers for about a second before fire and energy blasts flew. The soldiers quickly decided to regroup elsewhere. While they were at it, I spread out, opening doors and cages. People from a number of different legal situations took one look at the conditions they’d been thrown into, then at the escape attempt, and decided that the saying about the enemy of my enemy sounded pretty damn good. Good Doctor was in one of the low-power enclosures with another eleven folks. “You, with me. We need to find a weaker wall out of here. I have an idea where to look too.”

He looked around at the growing chaos, the sounds of screaming in the air, and nodded. “We’re going to need someone with some punch,” he said in his lovely British accent.

“Anything you can see that’d show us where they’re hiding folks like that?” I asked.

He scanned the area, utilizing his power of what’s commonly called x-ray vision, though that’s an inaccurate description. There appears to be no radiation involved, and it has different parameters than x-rays. “There,” he pointed into the interior of our little curving circle. “Lead blocks and rooms. Lead is often used to contain our stronger fellows.”

I nodded and headed for one of the intersecting corridors. We were finding little resistance, various superhumans spreading throughout the facility. They pushed back the military, which did not want to face them in this initial attack, and helped release their own kind while Good Doctor, the normals, a few other supers, and I all headed inward to find the rooms for the stronger sorts. The ones who could jump free, or fly, or punch their way out. So many handy release buttons on the outside of these rooms, many of which appeared to be custom-built.

One room had Elita the Warrior Woman chained to the floor, which was all one piece with the rest of the room. Lead, too, from the sound of it. I just smiled my fanged smile and hit a little button on the outer wall. The chains snapped open. I had to stand back as she punched through the door. “Hey there, darlin’,” I said. “Some of us can’t fly. Mind opening a door?”

A roar and explosion from what I figured was the front of the facility caused her to sneer.

“I think we should go sooner rather than later. I fear they have some means to contain a full-scale outbreak that will be going into effect soon,” said Good Doctor. “Let’s go back to the area you found myself in. The walls there should present no challenge to Elita here.” He nodded deferentially to Elita. She snorted and cracked her knuckles, but followed along as we all headed right back.

I know, boring trip, except for the rumbling all over the place. Some of those really powerful ones we’d let loose might have come along peacefully, or maybe they’d been contained by special means, but now they were free and angry. It felt like a low-grade earthquake, at least until the sound of extremely rapid-fire gunfire started up. Miniguns. And explosions punctuated everything. Whatever the hell was going on, I was missing it, and I didn’t need to see it yet. I was in no shape to. I just had to hope the adrenaline would keep me upright long enough.

Elita smashed right through the window back to Good Doctor’s holding area and took a running start across a rocky area with a small stream running through it. A series of punches bent a section of the metal exterior wall down and provided us a ramp to freedom, and just in time. I heard helicopters take to the air behind us. They seemed focus on that area, so our exodus, and those of others jumping and flying to freedom, went unmolested. Indeed, the zoo turned out to be at the edge of the military’s staging area, without even a Concertainer wall to hold us in.

I stopped as we got out and looked around. To no one in particular, I said, “Ah, smell that?”

“The smell of freedom?” asked the bearded man, carrying a discarded rifle with him.

I shrugged. “No, I mean I think I crapped myself. No time to stop now though.”

A burst of speed brought forth from our freedom, the freed prisoners got the hell out of Central Park. I barely stepped off the grass when an explosion behind me leveled the Central Park zoo.

Soon, having stolen a car, I made my grand entrance into Master Academy with a crash at the gate. Apparently they’re keeping it firmly closed, even when Psycho Gecko, the Good Doctor, and Elita the Warrior Woman are all carpooling.

I woke up in my cell underneath the school, hooked up to an IV drip. I’m already working on editing everything I saw to the best possible light. The beatings. The heroes chained up. The old lady and her defiance before taking a shot to the head like masochist bukkake.

I spy with my little eye, a turning point. In this conflict.






Another exciting day in the city. At first, the aliens made some big announcement about surrendering all the superhumans to them for processing, then they started sweeping through neighborhood after neighborhood. It went well for them, briefly. What they lack in raw numbers, they make up for with mechanization, what appear to be drones, and some squads of Technolutionary’s robozombies. Upgraded ones.

Where before Technolutionary fitted human bodies with cybernetic enhancements and shoved a computer into the brain to control them, the process looks much more refined. It undoubtedly has to do with better integration of the biological and artificial components. He’s giving my species’ abilities to his robozombies now, and they’ve become a sturdier and more graceful as a result. I got a good look at them, too, thanks to hopping onto a patrol of them and tearing off an arm.

Like I said, it worked the for the aliens until we started putting up organized resistance. Or as organized as any resistance becomes when I’m part of it. Wanting to keep hurting the fuckers, I headed out on my own after some squads of the robozombies seen terrorizing the eastern side of the city.

The first sign they had that things weren’t going as planned was when one of their transports blew up in midair. The things still have something to throw off sensors and any eyeballing of their exact features from afar, but the good thing about cannons is that sight is a perfectly viable option. And I do have cannons. The confrontation with Venus was just over before I ever needed to use any of them, but I didn’t just build some of those things on buildings around the city for no reason. Case in point, one transport went down before it could land and offload anybody or pick anyone back up. Shortly thereafter, I landed and on the bunch sent to investigate it and took them apart to examine their quality.

Ah, Technolutionary used to think I was so great, a true evolutionary leap forward for mankind. Now he’s making people like me just to use them as mindless foot soldiers. Good response times, though. Less than five minutes after I tore them to pieces, I looked up to find three more shuttles coming in. I pointed my fingers at them like guns and gave a little “Pew pew!” One took a hit and slammed into a building. A second tried to dodge before I caught it from another direction with another cannon. The third tried to stomp on me like an Italian plumber who hates mushrooms.

It missed, thanks to my cunning strategy of getting the hell out of the way, but then it just sat there. I expected doors to slide open, shots fired, all that. It took a couple seconds, but when they did finally open, it was at the hands of a pair of wounded robozombies surrounded by dead ones.

“This is why they invented seatbelts, ya know,” I told them. Before they could raise their gun arms, two shots rang out and did some decidedly permanent damage to their computers.

I turned to focus on where the shots came from and saw Lone Gunman on the side of a building. He hung there from a hook embedded in the side and aimed a gun at me. He stopped and gave a little salute, allowing me to see a huge revolver with extended barrel and a stock. “Just a weapons test, for now.” Then he rappelled down the side of the building and went his own way.

Wish I could have seen his face when a fiery stream lanced out of the ship overhead and burned through the top of Double Cross Tower, taking my favorite cannon along with it. Shit, and probably my penthouse, the bastards! And my closet, too. Damn. I got the dong back, but I really like some of those dresses on me.

But at least that was the only one of the cannons they disabled. They probably needed a couple shots to track them back. And it’d no doubt do a lot to convince people they need to sit down and be ruled if they could do that. Which made me realize that if they weren’t using whatever thing they did to turn buildings into tiny pieces like before I was on the run from them, then that meant they probably couldn’t do so here. That’s a handy bit of information to have.

Another thing that’s handy to have? One slightly used alien shuttlecraft. Needs a small patch where someone shot through its armor, and needs a few bodies cleaned out of it, but ultimately good to go. It’ll be no different than buying someone’s used car.

Of course, first I had to send someone to go fetch it. That’s what minions are for. In this case, a bunch of Buzzkills and Moonbats. The Moonbats like to help like that. Apparently, it’s really cathartic for them to actually shoot at some aliens, and I find their revenge fantasies about anal probing the aliens to be particularly interesting. Plus, it gave them something to do besides whine about the food situation.

Good thing for those MREs, I guess. I grabbed one left behind by a Moonie too disgusted with the food to take it with him or finish it before leaving. Ooh, Charms.

I also needed to be there at the bunker for a pow wow. With power being what it is and the possibility of attack, the bunker has become a prominent spot in resisting alien invasion. There wasn’t a lot of organization, but we had some folks who could get people to follow them by force of personality. Man-Opener, for instance.

“Though what Man-Opener lacks in an actual preassembled retinue to take with him, I feel he makes up for with being royally pissed off. So I think he needs to be part of the strikeforce.” I argued to a few folding tables worth of assembled supers.

“I second the motion!” Man-Opener said, raising one of his suit’s limbs.

“You don’t want him on the ground with you?” Venus asked, not quite so mindful of proper phrasing.

I shook my head. “They hate me enough that I need to stay, but I think it’d need to be more of a mixed effort on both fronts. Besides, you might need someone who can make a hard choice.” Like that time in Transylvania, for instance. A guy wanted to freeze the world in time because of the death of his son. The Mobian wanted to talk him down. Didn’t work. I killed him. Problem solved.

The plan is simple, though. Venus will take a force into the enemy ship, consisting of a few people of her choosing, but definitely Man-Opener and Lone Gunman. Instead of shooting blindly into the ship, hoping to hit something important, he could go in there content in the knowledge that he can shoot through their stuff anyway.

Meanwhile, I’d stay down and be a prominent target for the aliens, drawing forces down from the ship to make things easier for them. The shuttle could make a good way in. If it doesn’t work as well, there’s also the remaining cannons. I think I could open a hole. Especially now that I have a penis again. The assignment to help me out was completely voluntary, though. People still hate me. I should have Moai and Mix N’Max on my side, at least.

So when we were ready, I took a more prominent stand. Instead of hitting and running, I’d have to be there to take the heat. It’d be downright suicidal. Odd how few people tried to talk me out of this course of action.

We got our opportunity before too much longer. A sizable force, more than I could take on myself, were taking over a neighborhood. The strike team went up in the shuttle and joined the ones returning from offloading that bunch.

Down on the ground, I scouted out the victims. Where the road was bigger, an armored vehicle sat in the road, turned sideways. Another one blocked it off at the opposite end, where the street had narrowed. Scouting it out, I saw they had other resources patrolling alleys. Small, cube-shaped drones, or these machines with an upside-down pyramid base with a single wheel on the bottom and a single rotating limb. Significantly less elegant than their other designs. The aliens seemed to prefer round shapes. Even their armored vehicles.

Whatever the case, I needed to see how sturdy they were. So I dropped down on one of the cube drones from above, bringing my rocket sax down onto it. The instrument dented a little as the blow sent the hovering cube bouncing off the ground. When it came back up, I swiped it with one hand and sent it into the brick wall next to us. It bounced off that, rebounding into the air and spinning around to gain its bearings.

“Eat hot, sexy passion, alien scumdroid!” I yelled out, then brought the sax to my lips and pressed a key. A line of flame shot out, engulfing the alien artifice. I kept bringing the heat until it finally dropped, glowing red hot, sides starting to crack and warp.

One down, a small army to go. Man-made thunder erupted over the city, all aimed at the same point. A ragged hole opened up in the ship overhead, whether the strike team needed it or not. Thanks to them running silent, they couldn’t complain about it to me. The ship responded with that fiery beam of its own, cutting through another of the cannons just before the remaining ones began shelling it. It took hit after hit, and returned them until I could no longer feel any remaining cannons. But maybe it did something after all. At least it heavily smoked where the flaming lance had issued from.

I couldn’t spend all day contemplating that, though. One of the unicycle bots rolled around the corner and swiveled that single limb around. It was a bit far for the sax, so I slung that onto my back. I nodded toward the unidrone and started charging the energy sheath around my right hand while going for a rubber chicken on my belt with my left. “Sup?” I asked it. It shot first, trying to put a hole in my chest. I was a bit worried it might overpower the sheath, especially since it tracked me when I tried to dodge.

I dropped the chicken, stepped on its neck, and kicked the body closer to the unidrone. After it stopped skidding, it stood up and began walking in the direction of the nearest street, which was behind the drone. Why did the chicken try to cross the road? I don’t know, but the rubber chicken grenade didn’t make it that far before exploding and wrecking the robot.

When I stepped out of the alley, I swung another rubber chicken around by its neck gently enough to keep it from pulling off. I haven’t been a guy in awhile, so it’s important I be careful how hard I swing my cock around, after all.

“Do you ever wanna catch me? Right now I’m feeling ignored! So can you try a little harder? I’m really getting bored!” I called out. Rounded saucers swiveled towards me on black fluid-filled tentacles. The sideways hover armor rotated a trio of barrels in my direction. The whole group stopped and paid attention. That’s probably how the hover armor got taken by surprise. Rockets crashed into it, bullets bounced off it, and an energy beam sheared through the turret portion.

I jumped on top of it long enough to pantomime blowing the rest of them a kiss. “Come on, shoot faster, just a little bit of energy! I wanna try something fun right now, I guess some people call it anarchy!” I hopped off the back of the armor and waited for any takers.

A pair of them followed. One was in a big, black, humanoid suit with a device attached to its hand that emitted a barely-visible length of…something. The other was one of those saucers turned on its side with nine tentacles carrying it over. That one tried to jump on me immediately. I backflipped out of the way before it landed for a couple of reasons. First, I didn’t feel like a hug. Second, I wanted to get out of the way of my car. Black Sunshine, my lovely, pimped-out car. It charged forward, firing rockets and a minigun like it had against the hover armor. What did the most damage was actually hitting the thing and smacking it into the disabled armor it had just passed over.

The humanoid raised that thing on its hand toward me. Instinctively, I threw myself to the side. A shimmery wave, like heat rising off the blacktop, flew from the alien suit to cut into the road. Suddenly, some little glass flask crashed against the armor it stood upon. It looked down at it, where a green gas cloud spread briefly, before lighting up and then collapsing in on itself, where it exploded. It gutted the Fluidic encounter suit and tore its legs open, spilling the alien’s liquid body out. The rounded crystal core that seemed to make up the alien’s brain rolled out onto the street. A motorcycle pulled up next to it, and Herne the Hunter’s spear impaled the thing. Mix N’ Max got off the back of the bike and patted Herne’s leather-clad shoulder. The helmeted and horned biker super nodded and drove off down an alley, barely escaping the swarm of cube drones that descended on the area to surround us. The buildings became host to more of the Fluidics, who took higher positions.

Max looked up at them as he stepped over to me, then pulled out another flask. This one looked like he bottled it in an airport smoker’s lounge. “Need some cover?” I nodded, then noticed a twitch of movement out the back of my view. The laser limb of one of the unicycles snapped back, a large scalpel embedded in the firing optics.

“Much as I hate to be here, gentlemen, I don’t want to leave early because we let you die. Not yet, anyway,” said The Good Doctor like a true gentleman, stepping out of another alley and kicking a carved-up cube drone with him. “Please, Max.”

Max nodded and unbottled the flask, instantly throwing us into the middle of a fog so dense, it has to figure out if it’s going to work at an AT&T store or just buy something from one and call in to complain about it later. With the sky covered in either alien starship or glowing blue forcefield, it gave the field a really cool rave vibe. We all walked a few feet back before taking a different angle, dividing up the area around us into three zones. Back to back, Doc raised a set of thick scalpels, Max pulled out his syringe gun, and I punched one of my palms.

“Come on if you think you’re hard enough!” I shouted into the fog. Then, to the others, I asked, “They aren’t going to be hard enough, right?”

“We brought help,” Max answered.

“Huh, maybe I should have been singing ‘Lean On Me’ instead.” A black tentacle swiped out of the fog. I caught it and activated the Nasty Surprise, the blade cutting into it and beginning to spew black fluid. I pulled at it and brought in another encounter suit that had the tentacle and three others coming out of its back. I jumped on its face and shoved my blade right where its mouth would be. Opening up its head, I crawled my way down inside and burst from its chest, core in hand.

Back to back, the reunited Dark Triad fought swarming, blinded aliens. Around us, the sounds of battled rose up, indicating others had joined the fight. We moved as we fought, keeping each other at our backs as the fighting moved us. An encounter suit, a cube, a unidrone, some weird saucer. We maintained this formation pretty well until one of the saucer mages appeared, with the its multitude of wire-thin tentacles drawing numerous runes into the air and hurling subzero cold and volcanic heat at us at once, carried by winds that pressed down. Doc grabbed Max and got him out of the way, but a force like a tornado overpowered the pseudomuscles in my armor’s legs. They broke as I attempted to stay on my feet. Ice covered my armor before hissing away thanks to heat that felt like my organs were frying. Then freezing. I didn’t know if the cracking was my armor or me.

Just before my helmet completely iced over and left me blinded, I saw Terrorjaw the shark man leap up and chomp through several of the tentacles with his toothy maw.

I kept trying to punch at my helmet to see if I could knock something loose. Aside from feeling the vibrations, it was hard to feel I’d even been hitting it. That really didn’t say anything good about how cold I was, and my nanites weren’t likely to help. Nanotechnology is infamously sensitive to temperature, especially temperatures that can harm the human body.

I tried the view from my car. Can’t remotely drive it without some way of seeing where I’m going after all. It showed a battlefield shifting as more and more on both sides joined in. I saw Girl Robot clawing at a cube, then getting caught by a garrote from e cube behind her. She opened her mouth and spewed some glowing breath attack that shot her back at the cube and smashing it against the building behind her before her tail angled up and speared through it.

I saw Leah there, too. The teen girl I had to take in after getting powers and running away has come far. Three unidrones aimed at her as she waved her hand. When they fired, nothing happened except the lenses of their lasers caught fire, followed by the entire laser array. Who said color changing isn’t handy?

I even saw this one guy I recognized from the insane asylum when we captured all the heroes. He had some goblin mask on and sliced through a normal-sized encounter suit that had a pair of those almost-invisible blades for hands. When it tried to retaliate, the goblin guy disappeared and reappeared behind it, finishing cutting it in half. Flying about rooftop level, Honky Tonk Hero smashed through a descending shuttle, magical guitar first. When a saucer tried to reach out for him, the saucer found its arms seared off courtesy Gorilla Awesome, the talking gorilla, who hovered nearby with his own jetpack. Nearby, I noticed Elita the Warrior Woman raise a damaged alien tank above her head and bring it down on her Amazonian knee, breaking it in half.

Ethan Basford even got in on things. He knelt there, holding open that metal chest he’d brought with him from Los Angeles, hand bleeding as he held it over the open coffin. From within flew a massive colony of bats that. Nice magic trick. An even better one came when they began to take human shape. Well, vampire shape from the way their eyes glowed and their fangs glistened, protected from the sun by Max’s chemical fog. I saw one of them in particular fly into a saucer and carve through it with claws.

Unable to do much myself, it made for a fun watch. Still wish I could have felt my balls. Oooh, they’re going to hurt so much when they thaw out, if they don’t break off first.

I backed my car up and brought it over so I could get a better view of myself and get a hand up. Maybe I could hit the flamethrower? No, that’s crazy talk. Wait, where’d my saxophone go?

I pulled it up beside myself and popped the door open enough to drag myself in across the front seats. It almost made me wish the car could transform into even bigger armor, but it wasn’t happening. I did have a very good A/C and heating system, though.

Blocking the way out, I saw another floating mass of armor and laser barrels coming my way. I may not know why the chicken crossed the road, but I know a thing or two about playing chicken. Let’s get squawking, bitch. I revved the engine and gunned it right for the alien armor, unleashing the miniguns, the rockets, even the flamethrower, energy beam, and a trebuchet out of the trunk. What? When I say I’m going medieval on someone’s ass, I mean it.

It shot back, turning my car into a convertible without an engine. On the plus side, the Fluidic armored vehicle’s front side dipped down and scraped against the road as at least that portion lost the ability to stay in the air. In the end, my half-melted, slowing car ramped up the damaged alien tank. I swear, I got like three feet of air that time. If the horn still worked, and if I’d hat it set to play Dixie, it could have been even better.

I landed past it, just in time for The Saurus, the intelligent T-Rex, to bob his head down and give the tank a chomping. His clone, looking like a younger version of himself, roared and helped himself to an encounter suit. I wondered, briefly, if the clone was now The Saurus Jr., Kid The Saurus, or maybe even Children’s The Saurus. Alas, they moved on before I could even ask, probably for the best. Like most of the combatants, they didn’t like me.

Laying there in my destroyed car, I popped my helmet as best as I could with my numb arms and find one of the nanite syringes I’d stashed in there. Ah, the sweet sting of health flowing through my veins. Or wherever I stabbed them in. Doesn’t much matter. At that point, I just needed to be able to feel my skin again.

When I finally felt less like a popsicle, I slid out of the wreck to put some more extraterrestrials on ice.

I found Max and Doc cornered a street over, backs to a station wagon while what looked like a roiling mass of cables tore through the air. Tentacles here, tentacles there, tentacles everywhere; what horrors hath Japanese porn wrought?! Well, if someone wanted to shove those tentacles in a box, I’d be happy to oblige. I jumped on top of the station wagon and tossed a four yard dumpster at the whizzing and whirling mass of barely-visible tentacles. The open end caught the center mass of the being and pinned it to the van.

“Hey guys!” I called out, leaping over to the other side, popping the head off a chicken grenade. “Listen, alien fellow, we’re going to go on a magical adventure. And here’s the magic candy, like I promised you at school.” I tossed the grenade in the window and got a step or two backs before it went off.

Easy as blowing up fish in a barrel.

“Did ya miss me, ya wankers?” I asked the rest of the Dark Triad as I rounded the van.

“You came through it alright?” asked Doc, perhaps hoping I wouldn’t have.

I shrugged. “Don’t sound too disappointed, Doc. Friends don’t hold those kinds of grudges.”

His hand tightened around his scalpel again. “When I became a monster, no company could abide me but the company of monsters.”

I held my hands up. “Hey, easy there. The past is set, and we can’t change who we are. You have to accept what you are or you’ll never be able to live with yourself. Now remember: I’m bad, and that’s good. I will never be good, and that’s not bad. There’s no one I’d rather be than me. That’s why I shouldn’t have even let it get to me that they pinned saving everyone on someone else. Too many people through my life have made it clear what I am. Change? Not while some asshole king’s hired a knight to come after me because I hoped for a princess. Metaphorically speaking, of course.”

Doc twirled the scalpel in his hands, looking at me. “It’ll never happen if you don’t even try.”

Inside my helmet, I rolled my eyes. “Bad guy ’til death, I guess. Which shouldn’t be long, since I’m fated to die in this damn invasion, and I came back and fought in it any-fucking-way!”

Suddenly, the sky lightened up. It lost its blue. “Get your suntan lotion ready, people. The barrier is down. Repeat, the barrier is down,” Venus said over the comms. Cue a LOT of cheering on the comms and in real life. It’d be a pants dampening sound if I was an alien right about then.

Doc stepped over and gave me a little punch to the chest, no blade included. “If the future can change, who says we can’t?” He turned back to the rest of the fight and began walking in there to help finish up.

“Ugh, you keep this up, I’m going to wish for someone to kill me,” I said as I joined him.

Max, done giving us our little conversation, joined in and put his hands around both our shoulders. “They’re certainly lining up. By the way, why don’t you ask Lone Gunman how much he enjoys my little fog?”

“Ha! See? I laugh at paltry change, whether it be this ridiculous ‘redemption’ nonsense, or an attempt to cease my biological functions. Now drink hearty, my fellows of the Dark Triad, and let loose the dongs of war!” I raised my hand, holographically making a hand and a half sword appear in my grip. When I brought it down, I charged, leading the other two villains back into the fray.

The invasion’s not over yet, so I don’t have my hopes up. But I think a lot of these Fluidics are going to pay for what they haven’t done yet.



Enlightening Strikes 7



Manners are a tricky thing in formal events. I’ve been to a few of them, though I don’t always make it to the actual meal. Generally, it’s all about being extremely polite. Like, fixing a fake smile on your face while talking to people you hate, kind of polite. That’s part of how I get through it. The dancing is also strictly uniform, because wild moving is difficult in some of those suits. This also makes them easier targets. At the dinner table, there’s stuff about folding napkins and using the correct fork on the correct food, perhaps so that snooty people could show off all the forks they had compared to those forkless plebians. So using the wrong silverware, or not kissing the right hand, or impugning someone’s pedigree is all rude. It’s like telling someone to go fork themselves.

Back in the land of the forkless plebians, on the other hand, it’s generally considered rude to, I don’t know, drug everyone in the place. It all had to do with me stopping by Rothstein’s again with a pair of large fruit baskets. Since I had my armor on, they didn’t quite get the joke when I slid in the door and yelled, “Who wants to grab my melons?”

“You’ve got some balls coming back in here,” said the stick figure guy I bullied last time.

“And here they are!” I tossed him a thing of grapes. I don’t know what it’s called for real, but most people could guess what a thing of grapes means.

I set one of the baskets down and noticed the barkeep reaching for something under the bar. Figuring it to be the alarm button again, I walked over and tickled his cheek with a banana. “Hey there. Open wide, I have some yummy for your tummy. Just don’t choke on the seed.”

“Nobody touch the fruit!” yelled the bartender, mostly preaching to the choir. A few, unlikely to look a gift horse in the mouth, had helped themselves to my goodies. Good for them. I even noticed Elita the Warrior Woman there, enjoying my fuzzy peach, the juices dripping down her chin. At least they were enjoying themselves while they could, unlike Chicken Little the bartender.

“Nobody touch the fruit? Gettin’ a bit homophobic around here, isn’t it?” I pointed to a man dressed in bright purple and white. “You gonna take that?”

“Actually, I’m straight, and I hate faggots.”

I swiveled to point at the stick man. “You gonna take that?”

“Why would I be offended?” He cocked his head, puzzled.

I pointed at the purple guy with my left arm, which crossed over my right. “He hates bundles of sticks. Probably thinks they’re gay or something.”

“There’s nothing wrong with being gay,” Stick man responded.

“Oh yes there is!” yelled the purple guy. “It’s not natural!”

“So’s arsenic and cyanide. Why don’t you try those!” countered ol’ Sticky.

Behind me, the bartender pulled a large, sleek handgun of unusual make. He pushed a button on the side and sights flipped up in the shape of a crosshair. I held my hands up. “What? I’m not doing anything. I brought fruit, and then these two got into an argument over homosexuality. Throw them out. I’m just here to enjoy alcohol. And maybe music. Can you play Misty for me?”

“Play Misty?” The puzzled bartender squinted, aiming the gun at my head. I didn’t flinch from it, just double checking the seals of my suit. Right on time, a yellowish, oily mist seeped from the ventilation system. Droplets settled on skin and tights, or were inhaled. After all, who goes into a bar with environmentally sealed power armor on? Me, but not many others. That’s why I was in perfect shape to stop the bartender from pulling the fire alarm and setting off some sort of alert. Maybe they have sprinklers for that, but I wonder if they are serviced by the fire department? Is there a secret super villain fire service instead? Usually, we’re more likely to be firestarters than firefighters.

Note to self: look into making villainous firefighters. And not the type of firefighters who goa round tossing cats into trees, either. Lots of damage happens when someone is doing something illegal, like cooking drugs or dissecting classmates. Double Cross: where discreet meets dangerous.

“You played it for her and you can play it for me!” I told the bartender, who held the gun on me. He tried to hold that gun in one hand while slipping what looked like a biohazard hood over his face. Like that’d do him a lot of good. In the hustle to do that, his ability to multitask took a hit and he accidentally squeezed the trigger. I wasn’t worried, since I’d stepped to the side and he hadn’t done a good job following me, but he still got it close enough to ding off the side of my helmet and deflect off to the side, hitting someone else. They probably would have complained, but they were all too busy trying to get out the door.

Plus, I took the gun away from the bartender and pistol-whipped him with it just as soon as he got his hoodie on. I pressed the gun against my helmet in a mock salute. “Here’s looking at you, kid,” then stopped myself from bending the barrel. Might better look at the design and find out if it would penetrate my armor or not.

While I sat at the bar and made sure I wasn’t getting exposed to the chemical, the situation in the bar escalated. The bar’s patrons were attempting to make a break for it, but the door stubbornly refused to open because Moai stayed outside and probably pushed a dumpster against it. Amused, I watched their attempted escape and poured drinks against the front of my helmet. When the fleeing drinkers decided to put some power to it, I had to chuckle to myself. Someone tried to burst the door with a fireball, but hit a couple guys trying to push it open. One of them turned and stretched his arm back in a badly-aimed punch that hit someone who shot thorns all around himself. Panic, anger, bad decisions, and a helping of synthetic THC had an orgy in their brains and produced the sad, abandoned baby of a bar brawl.

I grabbed a last glass and the gun, then headed upstairs. The upstairs locks were probably pretty difficult for just anyone to lockpick, and the doors were thick, but I had the power. The power of Greyskull, or at least the power of my energy sheaths. I didn’t want to screw up my joints by trying to kick through that heavy son of a bitch. I haven’t replaced those with anything better so far. I’m still trying to design better skin, or maybe more efficient muscles. Maybe put lasers in my boobs. Suckle stimulated light, suckers!

Upstairs, I faced my worst enemy yet…disappointment!

Man-Opener did not, in fact, eat there that day. Well, poo. At least a snooty butler-looking guy attempted to take me out with some sort of fancy spinning hurricane kick. I broke my glass over his head, then countered his moves with my favorite martial arts style: Dildo Style. I shoved the pistol up wannabe-Alfred’s ass and held on, then picked him up by the back of his collar with the other hand. “Window, window, window, where’s a window?”

Huh, I guess I never noticed there weren’t windows around. It works as a privacy issue, I guess, but I wasn’t thinking about it too hard since I had to keep hold of a squealing, wiggling butler. “But butler, you’ve got a gun butt up your butt-ler!” His screams showed a clear lack of appreciation for both the wordplay and the buttplay. “Shut up! Where’s a window?”


Wow, it’s amazing how enthusiastic people can be when you use their intestines as a holster. I carried him to the door. “You mind getting this for me?” He couldn’t yank that door open quickly enough. Inside, a bathroom attendant sat by the door and a basket of towels, wearing a gas mask.

I paused, staring at this guy. “Hi, how ya doing?”

He shrugged.

“You going to try and stop me?”

He held up a towel and mumbled something I couldn’t understand through the mask.

“No thanks. Now…window…ah, there.” It was high up on the other wall. I shifted the butler up. “Hey, stay steady. This isn’t easy, and I’m a bad enough shot as is.” The first shot popped the buttler’s skull cap, but missed the window. What I lacked in aim, I made up in ammunition and decreasing distance. The window didn’t shatter, but several holes weakened its integrity enough that tossing the butler’s body through it knocked open the window.

Disappointing, but at least it reasserted my dominance all over their faces, like a brisk teabagging.

Before going straight to the penthouse, I stopped off at the roof and worked on my guns a bit more. No, there’s still no gym up there; adding a guided missile emplacement in case I need it. I don’t have it disguised since the heroes most likely to spy on me are also the ones working with me, though I considered a giant foam gargoyle. It’s the foam part that takes away from the awesome factor of having a gargoyle. Seriously, that’s an architectural thing we need to do more of. We need a lot more menacing stone figures on our buildings.

Eventually, Wildflower found me up there. I spotted her coming around a corner from the roof access in the 360-display and let her pad closer. I’ve been keeping an ear out to better listen to her, and it was easy to see she was taking her time, so I called out to talk to her first. “Hey there, pretty petals. Have a nice patrol?”

She walked over, getting those pretty bare feet all dirty on the rooftop. I’m not necessarily watching foot crushing videos, but that doesn’t mean I like seeing dirty, nasty feet. That’s one of the areas Wildflower could improve. She knows what I think after a discussion we had while shoe shopping. That’s why she reached over and nudged the back of my helmet with the ball of her foot.

“I broke up a scheme by Wilderment to rob a bank. He hypnotized a bank manager into letting him and some minions in.” A quick online search pulled up info on Wilderment that I went ahead and saved into a short dossier. Willis DeMott, amateur stage hypnotist-turned professional criminal after his first professional show went poorly and the venue stiffed him. A good hypnotist, but even a good one can’t force everyone to listen or do things they never would do normally. Convincing someone to rob a bank is easy; persuading them to hand the money to someone else is quite a bit harder. Wilderment is always on the lookout for some magical or technological improvements, but has never quite gotten his hands on anything useful. Seen as having too little potential. On the plus side, he’s served as his own attorney six times and never been convicted. Credit where credit’s due.

I smiled to myself as I next spoke. “Sure, sure, save the greedy banks. Wonder how much money they stole while you were protecting them.”

Wildflower nudged my helmet some with her foot. “Uh huh.” Her tail gave this extra little swish to the side. “I wanted to see you.”

“Aww, that’s sweet.”

“No. I wanted to see you about something. They tried to arrest Captain Lightning.”Ah yes. They. While there isn’t yet an organization, private or public, with a name forming the acronym THEY, the name itself lends itself to easy contextual understanding.

“Aww, fuck me with a cotton candy candlestick.” I set down the tools and turned back to her. “Oh yeah? Oh ho! Oh no! This ale ain’t no cocktail, but life is candy, cherry brandy, ain’t that dandy, sweetie-pie?”

Wildflower jumped, landing expertly on my shoulders without trowing me too far off balance to the rear. She squatted like that, wrapping her arms around my head and nuzzling her cheek against my helmet. “That’s not how I thought you would react. The news said he is wanted for allegations of espionage after blowing a hole in the Pentagon earlier today.”

Venus walked around the corner, too, ruining my nice little moment with my Weird Science girlfriend. “He was asking questions about a medical examiner who worked with the FBI who disappeared. The Feds wanted to know about the alien organ. They said he stole it and tried to bring him in. He’s fled the country now. It would look bad to come running here. Oh, and he said to tell you ‘thanks’ for the coffee trick. It paid off.”

“Looking bad? Looking for me?” Another person joined us on that rooftop in a smooth, expressionless shiny white helmet. He wore a bright white skintight suit with black at the joints and the palms of his hands. “You need my help, don’t you?”

I stood up, Wildflower digging her claws in to hold on despite the shift. “Man-Opener. How’s the armor? Guess you found out it isn’t so easy fighting Venus, huh?” I’ve rarely seen him without his armor, but that suit of his provides easy access. Probably wouldn’t save him if I tossed him off the building. Disappointingly, Venus and Wildflower probably would.

“She’s got balls. More than you.” He crossed his arms. There’s only so much you can emote when you’re in a helmet.

“I got balls enough not to run arou-”

“No, stop it, this isn’t going to turn into an insult fight!” Venus held her hands out to cut off any conversation between myself and Man-Opener. “Gecko, I told Man-Opener what’s going on. He’s here to see the proof, then we can agree on something that helps all of us, correct?”

She looked between myself and the other villain. “Good. I think we can all agree there are worse people to work with to save the world. But first, you owe him proof that we have a problem.”

I sent out a message to my assistant asking her to bring a few things up to the penthouse, including some of the drugs to ease telepathic headache. “Sure thing. Time to show y’all the coffee trick.”



I Got Clubbed 7

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He nodded and wiped his mouth.

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

“Are you sure about that, boss?”

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

“Are you absolutely sure?”

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

“That’s alright, boss.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dame picked up. “Hello?”

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

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

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

“This is Gecko, isn’t it?”

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

“I’m hanging up now, Gecko.”

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

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

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

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

“I found Unity.”

“You make it sound like a cult.”

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

“I wonder if any oysters have cults?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“It’s kinda my thing.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Hiya. Distracted enough yet?” asked Carl.

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

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

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

Unity slipped loose and began to head for the door.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Why Victoria’s Secret?”

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

And so we walked off into a nanite rainbow.



I Got Clubbed 6

They got the whole city. It’s one big howdy neighbor lovefest around here! I don’t mean orgies in the streets, that I could handle. Everyone’s just so fucking…nice. People are holding doors, saying please and thank you. Hugging me. Groping me. Now I know what it’s like to be nothing but a piece of meat to everyone I pass by. It gets old fast when grannies on walkers are asking you to make an old woman happy one last time before they die.

One of them that tried it, I pointed off to the side and said, “Look, Elvis is back!” She got all happy and then I threw her under a bus passing by.

The driver stopped, shocked that the old lady has fallen under there, but I reassured him. “It’s the way she wanted to go,” I said while patting him on the shoulder. Then I felt something touching my ankle. It was the old lady’s hand.

“I don’t know. Ever since Breakdown enlightened the city, it’s been hard to imagine anyone committing suicide.”

I kicked the hand away, then slammed my boot at something soft under the bus. The arm went limp.

“Maybe it was something she thought of doing but couldn’t bring herself to try,” I suggested.

“I better call 911.”

“Good idea, but please, don’t look. It’s such a gruesome sight,” I told him.

The driver turned away as he pulled out his cellphone. “You’re right. Hello, 911…”

While he was on the phone with them, I turned and dropped down to look under the bus. The old lady was regaining consciousness again. I punched her a few more times to put her back out again. “Die you old bat! Things as old as you ought to blow away in the wind.”

“You say something?” asked the driver.

I turned toward him and brushed myself off. “Oh, just seeing to her. She’s definitely a goner. Hey, why don’t you make it easy on the cops and paramedics and back up the bus a little.”

“You think I should? Isn’t this a crime scene?”

“Has anyone been committing any crimes in the city lately? Go ahead. Back it up.”

“Oh, alright.” He jogged over to the door, got in, put the bus in gear, and backed it on up.

The old lady let out a moan as the front tires rolled over here. Damn, this old bitty was tough. What, did Hulk Hogan get a sex change here?

“What was that?” called the driver out the window.

“I said you can’t park back there after all. Something about a fire hydrant. Wouldn’t want to break the law now, would we?”

“No, I’ll pull up.”

He drove forward, bouncing over the old lady twice. That shut her up.

“Great job, that was perfect!” I called to the driver.

I got out of there before the cops arrived though, out of habit. I made it back to the Secret Lair without a problem though.

I closed the club for the duration of this little crisis. I’ve wondered if I should barricade it. It’s like living in a reverse zombie movie. Instead of wanting to eat my brains, people want to hug me or sex me up. That’s a different sort of way for people to spread the virus, I suppose. I’d just rather not catch anything they’d spread that way. Besides, the stuff making them do this isn’t a virus.

Empyreal City belonged to Breakdown now. The announcement had gone out like a press conference. He had all sorts of celebrities, heroes, diplomats, and other VIPs. They all loved him now. He even showed off this old retired superhero, Dr. Unity. He had been a super scientist best known for his research into how to create world peace. It had caused him all sorts of personal drama back in the day to deal with world conqueror’s who wanted to stop people from killing each other, but only because they would all be unified under a dictator’s rule.

The old man expressed his admiration of Breakdown doing what he couldn’t. Big PR victory for Breakdown.

The government had been forced to recognize that the city was temporarily controlled by a supervillain, one who ruled through love instead of fear. Machiavelli, eat your heart out. They kept recon drones flying overhead as best as they could in the weather, but it’s hard to send people in when the guy they’re after would have the entire population of a city on his side as hostages and supporters.

Some other powered people probably survived because of they had a filter or a mask or didn’t need to breathe, but they probably didn’t stick around too long after all this happened. He had also taken recently to airing a local commercial with my face, warning people to try to get me to drink up, but otherwise stay well away from me.

Thing is, Sexahol makes me a cuddly, sexy beast to those same people. I could probably brag about killing that old lady and someone doped on the love juice would want to give me a big snuggle.

I survived, though. Of course. As I once said long ago, even after the heroes have been beaten by some supervillain, there’s always another villain who doesn’t want to live under the other guy’s rule.

Moai stood guard just inside the club wearing one of those bronze Spartan helmets with the Mohawk-looking thing on it. “They’re still all sickeningly sweet out there.”

There wasn’t a lot to guard, really. It was a place for people to dance and work. Fuck ‘em. Not even that gas thing that Moai and I brought back from the warehouse was of much use, at least to them. I had hauled it back in case I needed to do something similar to what Breakdown did.

I’ll admit, even though it paints me in a good light, I worked on altering enough of my nanites to half-fill that gizmo of Breakdown’s. Adapting their programming to general medical use, as well as basic testing, has kept the remnants of Shieldwall from selling nanites for medical use all over the place. I didn’t have either problem. Even got a batch of general purpose nanites in there now set to react to living human and near-human organisms and clear them of this crap.

If I don’t set them to something nonspecific like that, then they do very bad things when encountering organisms that aren’t me or that don’t belong in my body.

I got what I had loaded into that mist mechanism to test it, counting on the extraneous fluid around the nanites to be dissolved into a cloud capable of counteracting what the pink clouds had done. I didn’t get a chance to test it, however.

Just then, there was a call on the giant screen. I climbed up on Moai and he hopped, allowing me to grab the upper floor and pull myself up. Moai went for the stairs while I rushed over to take my seat on the throne and bring the giant screen down.

Breakdown’s visage greeted me, covered with a gray domino mask that hid his eyes and had a large, stylized blue teardrop at the corner of his right eye. “Hello, my dear Psycho Gecko, hello. You’re looking well. Quite trim. Quite fit.”

“Hey Breakdown. You look like you could use a throat lozenge and an anal rapin’.”

“That’s no way to talk to the city’s regent,” he said in reference to an announcement he’d made to the world. Holding onto the United Nations after they’ve been all kinds of lovegassed gives you a lot of bargaining power, it turns out. “You should willingly bow before me and join my cause. You’re all alone in the city now. No friends left outside your toy soldier. No family that you ever speak of. Nobody who cares about you. You don’t have to live such an isolated life.”

“Blah blah blah. You sound just as bad as the people on your little Sexahol, you know that? Love this and care that. Oh no, Mr. Psychology wants to mess with me psychologically. Geez, you’d think a guy like me is used to being alone and friendless by now. Like I haven’t taken on a city before. Or have you forgotten that little stunt where I bitchslapped Lady Liberty and caught the city around the Empyre State Building in my own personal flame war. Don’t even bother, Achy Breaky Heart. You lost from the moment I knew you were trying to screw with my head.”

“I had hoped we could remain civil with one another and share a pleasant meal. Care to dine with me and discuss your place in my society.”

Now, about this time, my inner monologue decided to give me some advice about this. “Trap trap trap trap trap trap trap trap trap trap trap trap, see if he’ll pay.”

“Where did you have in mind? Hopefully somewhere fancy since you’re paying.”

He nodded. “I’ve heard Da Silvano is good. Celebrities eat there often. They will appreciate having the most famous person in the city around.”

“Thanks for the compliment, Breakdown. Also, thanks for paying for the entire meal. You know, I always knew that if I refused to work hard, lacked determination, and never did an honest day’s work in my life, my amateur porn career would make me famous. I do all my own butt bleaching, you know. It’s how I stand out. People get snow blindness staring at my ass long enough.”

“No, Gecko, I meant me, obviously. From what a little bird has told me, you don’t even have an amateur porn career. You’re not that famous, either. You have your exploits, but most people don’t treat terrorists like celebrities.”
I think I was getting to him through that friendly facade.

“Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey! That’s not true at all. Everybody knows that terrorism gets you the cover of Rolling Stone. You know, provided you’re an attractive terrorist with fangirls.”

“Do try to keep the fangirls at bay when we meet for dinner, Gecko. I’ll have them reserve us a table at seven o’clock.”

“Seven’s a good time. Can I bring my own wine?”

“As long as it’s real wine. Don’t bring anything that the hobos drink. I will see you at seven.”

He cut the transmission. The screen raised up to reveal Moai standing behind where it had been. “Good, Moai, did you hear that bit about us having a dinner reservation?”

He nodded.

“Alright, so here’s what we’re going to do. I’m going to fill a wine bottle with something that goes ‘boom’. You should go with me as backup. Go lock the door and do a quick sweep to make sure the traps are ready. I’m going to go see if we have any absinthe and nitroglycerin. Oh, yeah, and let’s see if we can lift this gas thingy way up out of reach of anyone who manages to get past the traps. I don’t need someone else trying to use these nanites to save the world instead of saving me.”

I won’t go into specifics about what I put in there, at least as much for the sake of the bar selling the drink as a secret recipe in the future, but it was at least stable enough for me to gun it and smash my car through the back rolling garage. With one remote, I armed the traps. With another, the replacement garage door began to close. Then we got our rears in gear and headed for the restaurant.

Moai stayed outside with the car until I knew what the situation was like. I was in full armor, too, so the last thing I needed was an actual meal. I’d have to take the helmet off for that, and then I’d have to wash the outside really well if ketchup got on it. At least it didn’t do as much to metal as it would to something tight.

Irrelevant though. As soon as I walked in, I could tell something was off about Breakdown. Same costume and same mask, but differences in body shape and face structure. They’d tried to get a lookalike in there. I pulled on the cork of the wine bottle and armed it. The man in the Breakdown costume figured out something was up as well. The chair he had sat in fell to the floor behind him as he rose to his feet and pulled a detonator of his own.

As I threw the bottle, I could make out something about, “For the one I love!”

Then the whole place went up and I took a small break while my mind tried to figure out how I got across the street and between a tree that had been broken in half.

Moai found me and helped me up and to the car in my dazed state. It was blurry at the time, but my recordings show that the restaurant itself was just gone. It looked like it had always been some sort of firepit surrounded by two buildings that had been mostly blown apart. I was too stunned physiologically to make much sense of the kind of firepower that meant at the time. I didn’t even get pissed at the dings and scratches on my car caused by shrapnel.

Unfortunately, as the shock wore off, it was replaced with pain and an awareness of more fluid in my pants than I remembered having down there. What must have happened, see, is I must have kept some water and some chocolate pudding mix down there, and the explosion broke open the water bottle, tossed it into the mix, and then heated it up enough to form what could only be pudding in that armor down there.

Yep, that sounds like a perfectly reasonable explanation.

I didn’t think too much on it at the time, though, because of the pain. I hadn’t been flash-fried, but blunt force has this nasty habit of doing a number on me despite wearing armor.

I had Moai lay across the front to drive us out of there before the cops closed down the area. They were already in place on the road he took us down, so he had to ram the car through a barricade while I groaned from where I laid in the backseat. The pain was still there, even if the damage was quickly going bye-bye courtesy of nanite packet quilting under some portions of the armor. See? That innovation in this new armor proved to be quite useful after all.

Instead of taking us right in, Moai stopped in the street. Curious, I sat up to find that The Secret Lair was open for business. People were lined up, and my bouncer, Terrance, was at the door, looking over everyone with his glowing blue eyes.

“Huh…well, Moai, let’s not sit out here all night groaning in pain. Looks like I have a bloodbath to tend to.”

I tried to throw up a hologram that I wasn’t in armor, but that was a major systems failure. Too many of the cameras and projectors had suffered damage. I was exposed. I had nothing to protect me but armor, extensive murder training, systems enabling super strength, localized energy projection around my hands and forearms, a massive bodyguard, and chocolate pudding that could be used to blind people.

I had Moai help me in to foster a false sense of “my ass done got blown the fuck up”.

Terrance looked me over and didn’t step out of the way. I thought my own guy was going to start something, but then he moved to the side and let me pass, like I’d met somebody else’s standards.

That somebody else was Breakdown, sitting in MY throne in MY hideout and perusing MY videos of anthropological studies of human mating on MY giant screen, with MY henchman standing by his side.

He stood up and clipped a microphone to his lapel. It carried his voice through the sound system as he spoke. “Well! I see dinner was well done, but not as well done as we’d have liked. You aren’t in any shape to fight. Tsk, tsk. Have a seat, Gecko. Just enjoy yourself. Find yourself a good woman to share the night with. You will find I am more competent at dealing with dissent, but I am more forgiving as well.”

“Not just yet, you tailorless dick!” I projected via my helmet’s speakers. “Get down here and die like a man!” It’s never been confirmed that Breakdown has powers, but he’s always been more of a psychological threat to people than a physical threat. Plus, I only looked injured. Twas merely a flesh wound. I was actually fit as a fluffy carnivorous bunny.

“Why do you insist on this lonely path, Gecko? Is it that abhorrent to find someone who will accept you for who you are and make you a better man? You can not honestly believe in your anarchy as a way to live. Even you want to be accepted. You want fame. Friends. Loved-ones. You want people to think of you as a hero. You want to be a part of the world with everyone else. You can be adored. You can have the irresponsible fling. The high school sweetheart. The dance of your life while staring into a beautiful pair of eyes. You are not too damaged for my society to reject. You are not unworthy of this.” I saw Carl nodding along to all this. I was tempted to kill him too at that, but he wasn’t exactly in full possession of his own mind there.

“I am fixing the world here, Gecko. Every lonely soul will find its other half. There is a thief here. She knows you. She has shown herself capable of keeping up with you. She could help you deal with your personal demons. There is another, a young woman coming into her powers who has been pushed away from her family and friends. You could use your past experiences to guide her and keep her from following the dark path your life has taken. Protect and cherish.”

Under my armor, I was stewing. I’ll confirm nothing, but it’s possible that there was a sliver of a chance that some of what he was saying was annoying a part of me that was sensitive towards these kinds of arguments. I stood there contemplating how badly I was going to kill that son of a bitch as Dame stepped forward, as did the girl from the news the other day.

“Perhaps you need a strong woman who can keep you in line, one you have shown compassion toward.” That was Elite the Warrior Woman, apparently. Super strong, super durable, super definitely not one I want to let get a hold of me with those Kegels. What, this jerk went shopping through all the women around, trying to find me just the right woman to go with my shoes? Or like picking up a compatible dog at a dog shelter? These weren’t people to him. They were tools to convince me.

I focused on that. He was trying to get me on his side. Somehow, that had meaning to me.

“No, that’s right. Carl said you had a thing for men. I shouldn’t have been so judgemental. Surely you can take your pick. Hydroplane would love to show you there are no hard feelings for trying to kill him. Or Nos. Perhaps Paveman, if you like them older.”

What the fuck? Paveman was human enough to be affected by Sexahol? That was useful information.

Wow…he had all those guys there too. That was about when I noticed that there were a lot of superhumans present. I didn’t know how many…but I knew how many of them it would take to kick my ass. Like I said once long ago, that’s a handy piece of information to have.

That was his problem. It was just so pathetic. He made it sound so high and noble, but at the end of the day he was treating them all as pieces of meat. Just throw enough booty at the problem and it would go away. THAT was getting to me?

“Heh…hehehe…hahahahahahaha!” I bent over, caught up in the laughter.

“What’s going on here?” inquired Breakdown. The overhead camera gave me a view of Carl grabbing Breakdown’s arm and telling him something.

As quickly as merriment had set in, I stood straight up.

“Not as hurt as you-“ Breakdown started.

I cut him off. “Can it, you lintlicking hairchewer. You bulldog spittle in human form.”

I glared at him, daring him to speak up. He didn’t, so I continued. “What, you just want to throw someone at me? Some sacrificial lamb you think needs to fuck my brains back to proper working order? You think it’s as simple as saying ‘all you need is love’ or ‘that guy needs to get laid’ and someone like me becomes part of a regular family with a regular job and regular bowel movements? Seems like half the time I can’t express myself without having to use some story about transgender this or suicide that. That shit doesn’t get fixed with a kiss you know!”

I started pacing back and forth, not paying any attention to the crowd. Breakdown’s mist machine was still where I left it, hanging from the ceiling by a heavy duty cable wrapped around supports. I still had a case to make, though. “I’m a little old to have prom night with a sweetheart, too. A guy like me has to accept when they’ll never be the sort to know what that’s like. I’ve been rejected and dejected and even injected, but that’s alright. I can handle that I’m not the type who gets someone to love. Kids. A house with a big family movie sunset just before the credits roll. Society has its reasons to reject me, and they are the same reasons I reject it. So all you have is the hope that I’ll give in willingly to your mass enslavement. You failed to take me by force like all the others. You’re afraid, so you’re trying to throw sex and relationships at me to get what you couldn’t by brainwashing. I don’t want disgusting, weak-willed little humans that can’t solve their own problems but think they can solve mine. And I sure as shit don’t need anyone in my life to make me a full person.”

I stopped and hopped up on top of Moai’s head.

“And I know that you’d only be this desperate if you were afraid. Pay attention to that feeling now. It’s the one that said you should have run as soon as you tried to kill me.”

I pointed up at the gadget hanging from the ceiling, trying the remote access I had installed earlier. Nothing. That’s not good.

It was Breakdown’s turn to laugh. “I wasn’t stupid enough to let you use that old thing against me. Remember, I had that built. My new friend Carl kept me from getting your little robots over me and getting turned to slime, but I knew how to get rid of your trigger. Heroes, villains, assembled citizens. Tear Psycho Gecko apart.”

“Moai, do what you can,” I quickly blurted, then jumped. The enhancers in the legs of the armor were in better working condition than the holographic projectors. They carried me past superhumans that rose into the air and up to the device. Below me, Moai did his best to headbutt anyone trying to gain altitude or take aim, but it wasn’t enough. Most blasts, zaps, and whatever went wide. They didn’t want to risk the nanites out of a belief that they would try to disassemble them.

I had to grab on to this thing with my legs and hang upside down to unseal and discard my right hand glove, but then I pressed my palm to the device. A human can mess with my wireless connection, but there’s little to be done when I can actually molest machinery like it was a part of myself. Kinnari winged her way closer, energy disk ready to circumcise me at the neck when she got a clean shot.

She didn’t get a clean shot. The system spewed nanites out of it like a sprinkler rather than a fog machine. Everyone tried to shield themselves. Breakdown dropped from the catwalk and ran for the back. I swung over so I’d land on the catwalk, rolled with the impact, and then hurdled over side to follow him, completely ignoring Carl’s attempt to grab me in the process.

I found him back there crawling through the shower on all fours, puking. Hey, give the guy credit for sticking to his manners. I kicked him over onto his back, ignoring the pink crap he left on the tiles. I charged up my left glove.

“Wait, stop! I can’t die yet. Not until I kill the son of a bitch who did this to me!” he pleaded, the orange light of the energy sheathe splashing over his face.

“Whassat now?”

“It wasn’t me. It was the Sexahol. I was just the face he used. It was always his plan all along.”

“Sounds like something you’d say.”

“Wait! I never had a gas mask. Back in the warehouse, then around the city, I was exposed to all of it. Do you think if I thought this all out beforehand, I would have kept acting on it like that? For god’s sake man, look what your nanites did to me!”

He…had a point.

Much as I hated to admit it. Switching off the olfactory filters, I could even smell the intense cherry and strawberry flavoring of the Sexahol in his puke. It cleaned a lot of it out of his system to.

I sat down next to him and punched the wall of the shower, blowing tiles off and knocking a hole through the wall.

“Only way I’m letting you live is if you get out of this city, you understand?”

He nodded, wiping at strands of spittle stuck to his mouth and the top of his tights.

“Good. You get out of dodge, and I’ll check out whoever’s supposedly doing this. If you’re wrong, I’ll hunt you down. You know I can. If you’re right, I’m cleaning up this mess. You feel me?”

“Yes I…feel you,” he hesitated. Probably the unusual word choice.

“So, who is the unlucky bastard if you aren’t?” I asked.

“Unity. Dr. Unity. Congratulations. You get to end a superhero trying to end conflict across the world.”

“I hope you’re wrong so I can kill you. Now get the hell out of my club.”

Breakdown skittered to his feet and rushed off.

Just for good measure, I shouted “And stay out!” after him.

Lucky bastard. He wasn’t the one who had to stay behind and clean up the mess Empyreal City had become. Even I have my stupid moments.



Arete in Destruction 5

So, yeah. Things could have gone better lately. I’ve been running back and forth to the hardware stores getting stuff for Moai to patch himself up with. We’ve relocated well away from the warehouses. I’m currently based in this old club that closed up. I think it was some sort of goth club called Heart Failure, but with an image of a heart there in front of the word Failure. I will freely admit to not spending a lot of time in clubs, let alone goth ones, but I don’t expect that a heart is what they want to see if they go to a club. If it was an anatomical heart, then I think they’d still be in business. Regular ole “I heart you” heart, though…that’s not bringing in the daywalkers.

Still, the guy who owns the building needed money more than he needed questions answered, and sales of windows have been pretty high lately. I have enough for what I’m doing, but working for myself just isn’t as profitable as killing individuals that other people dislike a great deal. I hear the Mafia’s got an offer out on the Pope right now, as a matter of fact. Kiddy fucking? They don’t care. But a Pope riding around without the bulletproof glass, embracing the diseased, and suggesting that atheists can be good people? That’s a step too far for the Sicilian murderers.

You know, I should call up Father Poffo, see if he’s willing to make me a counter offer. Maybe later.

Rather than worry about traps at this juncture, I stopped by Rothstein’s Sports Bar to have a nice lunch, lay down some feelers, and fish for people who I could trick into taking a bullet or mystical blast for me. Like, maybe I’ll get lucky and find some skinheads dressed up in tights with swastikas, pretending that being around people with powers makes them some sort of superior men. Those types are great. I hear people talk all the time about how bad it is to kill your own minions, but those people have clearly never sweet-talked wannabe-Nazis into working for them using nothing but code words about keeping the government out of small business matters. The good guys don’t even feel bad when you execute those fuckers.

Unfortunately, I have yet to get those expendable idiots. All these bigots around, but I’ve got no luck finding them to serve as my human shields.

Well, they might have been in there, but no sooner had I tried to make the bouncer live up to his name by using him as a pogo stick than Elita bitchslapped me a few streets away. And by bitchslap, I mean I was the bitch, not her.

So I dusted myself off, set my wrist back in its socket, and gave myself a small injection of nanites to handle all the repair work. I didn’t have my armor on. I make sure to point that out because that fall could have been a lot worse if that bunch of charity-fundraising nuns wasn’t there for me to land on. Not only did they break my fall, they had money just waiting around for the Buy Psycho Gecko Lunch Fund. I’ll have to thank them when they get out of the hospital.

While there was little chance I would meet some new people to rope into my schemes, there was a diner and I was hungry. I went in, I found a booth, I ordered food and drink, and I waited.

It was then, while my chicken sandwich was being cooked, that I found myself facing Apollo. He didn’t look marble, but it was him. He had the same face and the build was about right.

Powers with an on/off switch. They can be a blessing and a curse. A big, bad monster can turn back into a mild-mannered man to hide. Or perhaps forced back into that form. Either way, it provides a great way to hide one’s job as a crimefighter from vicious villains and parasitical paparazzi. I’m glad I have hardly ever had to deal with them, by the way. Last time someone in news tried to get all up in my business, it went very badly for two of them and their boss.

While some powers are inconvenient for people to keep on all the time, like a man made of marble, it also means that someone can be killed when they have a protective power off, like a man made of marble.

Back to this encounter. I saw Apollo. My face was changed, like it tends to be, and it’s cold enough now that the trenchcoat doesn’t look out of place so he didn’t realize it was me at first. He sat down with his back to me in the booth next to mine, but closer to the door, across from a man with Asian features and short blue hair. Mechamoto, perhaps?

Either way, I slid under the table and popped up on the other side. I grabbed a napkin and tapped Apollo on the shoulder. He turned to look at me, curious. “Hello handsome, I think you dropped something.” I folded up the napkin and handed it to him.

“What’s this?” he asked.

“My number,” I told him.

He opened it up. “It’s blank.”

“I dropped my pen. I guess you’ll just have to give me yours.”

“My…pen?” he queried with raised eyebrows.

“I meant your number.”

“Listen, I don’t know you and I’m not-“

“Don’t bother. He’s probably not serious,” spoke a voice I had a tendency to hear only at the worst times. “And if he is, you don’t want him to call you.”

Apollo and I both looked over to see Venus, outside of her costume, standing there at the end of the table.

“Hello Boopsie,” I welcomed her with a grim smile. It’s not the fighting that bothered me so much as the potential loss of my chicken sandwich. I wanted my chicken sandwich.

“Hello Gecko,” she nodded to me. Apollo scooted away from me along the booth.

I looked between the three of them, noting how Mechamoto, or who I thought was Mechamoto, had his hands beneath the table. I looked at him, “Hey, do we have to do this right now? Come on, man, I’m hungry. You’re probably hungry. There are squishy people around who are going to get hurt. Can’t we just sit down and eat some food without me having to cut somebody?” I whipped my butter knife around in front of me. “Besides,” I offered, “If I have to leave here, I’ll be in a bad mood out in public where it’s hard to contain me.” I wiggled the knife helpfully.

“Alright, if you’re serious, we’ll leave you be, for now,” Venus conceded and took a seat next to Mechamoto. She turned to whisper something to him that, according to my reading, could have been either “Call in reinforcements,” or “At least he’s not out killing people.”

I reached over and stroked Apollo’s earlobe. He got goosebumps. “How about you eat without putting your hands on other people?”

“Awww,” I whispered loudly to Apollo, “That’s ok. I’m sure I’ll get my hands on you later.”

Just then the waitress arrived with my chicken sandwich. I turned and commenced to condimenting it. “Thanks.” Then the ambulance sped by with alarms going.

“Ambulances…did you kill someone already today?” Venus asked. I saw the others tense.

“Nah, the nuns will live,” I turned to reassure her. People like being reassured face to face. You can tell. Just ask how many people would be reassured by meeting a faceless person. Not too many, I think.


“Wasn’t my fault,” I said with a shrug.

She raised an eyebrow at me.

“It was an act of God. It rained men. Hallelujah, it rained men. Amen!” I raised a hand and pointed at the ceiling.

Mechamoto just stared at me for a good few seconds, then spoke, “He really is like this all the time.”

“Yep,” said Apollo and Venus at the same time.

“Hey, you know your hair?” I asked as I pointed at his blue furry head cover.

“I know of it.”

“It’s blue.”

He and I just stared at each other for about a minute after that as he didn’t answer and I waited. He with his hands still below the table, me with my eyes bugging out and a wide grin on my face.

“You done eating, hon?” asked the waitress as she stopped by to fill up my Coke. The soft drink, not the drug. There are people of a strange mind out there who seem to believe I do a lot of drugs. I have no clue where they get this from, but fear not! Aside from alcohol, I don’t bother with such things. No drugs, no narcotics, no prescribed medication. Remember kids, say no to drugs and you could wind up to be like me.

Maintaining my gaze, I brought my sandwich around in front of me. Staring. The whole time.

And yet, it was still better to them than the thought of me running around doing whatever it is I do with myself. That’s how you out-crazy the people in tight pants right there.

“Fuck!” said my waitress as she looked down at a recently-abandoned table. I slid out of my chair and was behind her in no time, tapping her on the shoulder.

“You called?”

“Huh. No, these people left me this! Look at this!”

She held it up for me to see. The “it” in question looked like a shorter 10 dollar bill from the rear. On the other side was some tract about accepting Jesus and blah blah blah. Ouch. You think you’re getting money that you need because you make like $2 an hour, but it’s all a bait and switch? Harsh.

“It’s the third time I’ve gotten one of these in the last couple of weeks,” she smoldered.

“What’d they look like?” I asked.

The heroes, meanwhile, had stood up and joined us around the fake money.

“It was that old couple. They took a carryout box, the ungrateful shits,” answered the waitress.

“Is there anything we can do to help?” asked Mechamoto.

“Not you,” I said with a grin and a growing chuckle, “But I sure as hell can help.”

He tried to grab me as I ran for the door, tossing money behind me. It was a cold, calculated plot to tip the waitress, pay for me meal, and encourage other diners to obstruct pursuit. Over my laughter, I thought I heard him say, “I’m calling in the team.”

I wasn’t sure which direction they were headed, but randomly running took me to them as they tried to get into their car around the corner.

“Heyheyheyheyhey!” I called out as the old man helped his wife into their car. He looked up as I raised a hand and slapped him hard enough to send his dentures flying. His head bounced off the old towncar and I grabbed hold of it again. His screaming wife tried to crawl across the seat.

“Open wide, honey. I got a tip for you!”

As expected, there was a horrified gasp. Don’t worry, I didn’t touch the old bat. Not even once. No, I threw her husband at her and lodged his head somewhere it wasn’t supposed to go. If you’d like to know more, then congratulations, you get to learn about the word “unbirthing” today!

Images are NSFW, of course. Ah, World Domination in Retrospect. Teaching people all the things they didn’t know they needed to know since January 2013.

I turned to see Mechamoto standing there holding a phone in one hand and a black bladed tanto that didn’t hold a reflection.

“Oh come on, you’re really going to hold this against me?” I asked.

He just stood there, not saying anything, but not raising the weapon. “It doesn’t matter if I think they deserve it. It’s about duty. Doing what’s right isn’t about when it’s just convenient and you like the people you save.”

“And sometimes it’s about doing things that seem wrong and illegal to make sure that assholes get what’s coming to them,” I took a pause as the lady groaned in pain and hit the roof of the car a couple times. “Hey, shut up in there or I’ll remember I was aiming for your other hole!”

Seeing as Mechamoto was inclined to run me through, I had to jump into the old car, sit on the old lady’s head, and fished out the old fellow’s keys to make my getaway.

It was nice to have a breather considering everything I’ve been doing lately. It cheered me up at least. But then, isn’t that what hurting people is for?




Arete in Destruction 4

Life’s hard for a guy trying to share his love of pranks with the city. The love wasn’t the bombs that have gone off in a few places, either. The love, as you might call it, involved me making some changes to the window washer equipment and water system of the Trump International Hotel and Tower right off this bigass park here in the city.

It was by far the biggest order of squirrel and pigeon pheromone concentrate Michelangelo had ever had to fill, even if you include those guys that time with the crappy animal themes.

It also left every squirrel in Empyreal City hanging on to the outside of that over-compensation station called a hotel, jizzing their nutty little brains out. While the squirrels are busy busting their nuts, pigeons keep sexually assaulting the heads of tenants who are trying to mind their own business as they escape.

It was a big laugh all over the internet and late night comedian shows. It didn’t help matters that The Don tried to hire local heroes and Shieldwall to clear off the building. Shieldwall couldn’t do the job. Too busy trying to track me down. The heroes that did take the money didn’t fare very well on their own. You ever disturb a horde of horny squirrels? Furry little humpmongers jumping around, landing on eyes and ears and mouths and noses. Scratches and bites. Thrusts. PETA protestors clung to legs, arms, even backs.

In perhaps the most accurate use of the term ever, it was a clusterfuck.

I only learned after the events of the past day why Shieldwall didn’t feel like making an easy million bucks.

Moai and I were just hanging out back at my crime crib, minding our own business. Not doing anything wrong at all. I was busy working on the Heatflasher. There were melted foci in that thing. Melted foci are a bad thing. Trust me, you don’t want your foci melted on a sensitive machine of mass death. I could have fired the thing without one, maybe two of them, but it had burned through all the primaries and a couple of the redundant ones. The rockets still worked, but the damn thing was out of commission as a weapon until I got it fixed. So I was elbows deep in the ‘Flasher when there was an explosion at the front door of the warehouse.

“Coming!” I shouted. Having solicitors like that sucks, but it’s even worse when they get impatient enough to blow your door to pieces. I scrambled into my armor and grabbed my laser potato peeler. You know, in case someone really needed their potatoes peeled. It happens.

I had time for all that thanks to the traps. “Moai, you make sure nobody sneaks in and destroys the ‘Flasher. Try to take at least one alive if it’s convenient.” I tossed the electrified cage over the heat ray again as I made my way to check on the traps.

All was surprisingly quiet. Too quiet. The Spamocles Sword room was empty. Too empty. No, really, it was too empty. The spam that had been left on the plate had clearly been disturbed, but that’s no surprise. Spam’s very existence has disturbed me for some time. There’s something not right about that food. Still, it had been poked and prodded, I knew that much, as the sword had clearly fired from the crate it had been hidden within. Anyone messes with the mystery meat on the plate, and the pressure plate beneath, and they got a sword to the head. In theory, at least. Blood stains showed someone survived long enough to bleed as they were dragged out. That means more than one enemy, including one without the decency to die for me.

The flashlight room was a different story. I rounded the corner to enter that room from behind the flashing lights and found a large robot with a head in the shape of a furiously roaring sloth standing in the middle of it, completely unperturbed by the razor blade strips laid over the floor, walls, and table of that makeshift room.

The part I didn’t see until it was too late was Miss Tycism summoning up a bolt of lightning that threw me back what I assume was several feet. I didn’t have time to lay down an exact number of foot longs sub sandwiches. I did have time to wish that my strobe light idea hadn’t worked against me that way.

The pair didn’t follow, giving me time to recover. Now, the last thing I should have done was run right back into the room. It’s what a moron would do in this kind of fight. I’d be coming at them from the exact same route. With all my abilities and knowledge of the terrain, there were any number of possible attack paths I could take. I chose to run right back into the room, albeit invisible and with the aid of holographic doubles.

They were on guard and the first doppelganger caught a hot bolt of purple lightning for his troubles. Ah, purple lightning. Must happen during a purple rainstorm. Still better than trying the Batdance in order to pull off some Pussy Control. That’s how Prince scares off the women.

The second hologram was found to not be a threat when the Mecha Human Sloth ran and put its fist through the thing. His bulky body provided me with an excellent opportunity to show Miss Tycism that she’d made a Miss Take invading my base of operations. I grabbed the table with its many blades and held it in front of me as I ran up Sloth’s back. I soared through the air like a fat hungover buzzard and slammed the table into Miss Tycism, puncturing a few minor veins. As an added bonus, they were her veins this time, not mine. What really made her scream was how it pushed into her and then scraped against her as I fell.

Mecha Human Sloth put himself between us as Miss Tycism levitated toward the roof and threw a green energy blast that removed a clean circle in the roof for her to escape.

They were being cautious. That still left me with Sloth to deal with. He charged and I went invisible. I jumped to the side. Despite my stealthy state, he adjusted and slammed into me. I hit the metal container behind me and was pushed against it. I thought I’d go right through it but it slid out of the way with a line of sparks.

Instead, Sloth kept going against the windows of the break room built into the front of the warehouse and threw me through it. I landed hard on a shoddy metal table and felt it collapse around me. I coughed a few times as I stood up then yelled to him, “Hey, I’m the one who throws me through windows, not you! Bad touch. Stranger danger!”

A metal claw dug into the drywall and tore it away with two swipes, opening that side up. It left me exposed in a kitchen area. If I ran, I could go to one side and escape out the room’s door, or to another side and take a bathroom break. I grabbed the coffee pot, pulled a small cord from it, and threw it at Sloth. The cold liquid inside did nothing. The block of C4 hidden in it did significantly more. It stumbled him. Don’t you love fighting someone like that?

I threw open the door to the refrigerator and began to empty the contents at him. He was unperturbed by the stink grenade. The knockwurst was useless. He slipped a little on the sour milk. The year-old birthday cake that had been in there long before I moved in dented his armor a little, I think.

It almost made me proud to see my work stand up to all this, but I was too busy seeing what I could do to get him in a better position. Except just then, the man in the red, white, and blue costume ran up. Bright Star, I think. Generates fireworks explosions. “Remember, you don’t close with him,” instructed Mecha Human Sloth.

“I remember. We won’t need to anyway. Everything’s coming down, Gecko,” spoke the smug patriotic hero. A smug hero is one thing, but one wrapped in a flag is much more grating.

“Let me guess, this is the point where you ask me to surrender and make things easy on you?”

Bright Star shook his head. “No. We don’t trust you enough to let you surrender, but if you want to knock yourself out I promise you’ll wake up in a cell with a toilet lid.”

“Guess I’d better handle that before this goes any further then,” I said and rushed over to the bathroom door. I closed it behind me as explosions blasted apart the kitchen. One of them took the door off the hinges, the toilet paper rolling over it and past Bright Star as he approached. A faint mist glowed in his palms as he got a little too close for comfort to find me on the john. “Eek!” I screamed and tried to cover up.

“Your pants aren’t even down,” he stoically informed me.

“I’m going to have to clean this armor out then. Do me a favor and hand me the TP?” I pointed to the roll of toilet paper.

He started to look and caught himself, so my swing with the toilet lid didn’t catch him completely offguard. It knocked his hand up, where a red explosion brought down pink insulation on me as I swung again. The lid broke as it popped him on the side of his face. He staggered back near the toilet paper with the now-armed Claymore mine within.

I flushed the toilet, triggering the remote.

The blast, which involves some C4 and hundreds of steel balls, didn’t catch him full-on, but it got him enough to rip open the back of his costume and send him into my waiting arms, where I raised him over my head and dropped him headfirst into the toilet bowl.

“We need evac on Bright Star. Man down. No visual on primary target,” I heard in the electronic growl of Sloth.

There was a lot of dust in the air, obscuring the much of the view, but I could see how they trashed the kitchen. They even left the sink hanging half off. Hmm…

“Here’s your visual, Slothy!” I yelled as I flew out of the ruined break room with a pipe in my hands. The porcelain sink it was attached to smacked into the face of the robot and shattered. I landed and spun, avoiding a retaliatory kick. “Too slow, Three-Toe.” I used the pipe to keep him from bringing he leg back down. Unable to compensate, he fell. I circled around to the eyes of the machine with a very important question to ask. “Hey, does this look like a laser to you?”

I fired the potato peeler into Mecha Human Sloth’s mechanical eyes and saw them crack. His flailings failed to find or fling me, so I took the time to run off to the main room and workshop.

A disheveled Forcelight was there. As usual. Of course. She had gotten shocked by the electric cage as she tossed it away. I let out a loud “Oh shit!” and turned to run for the side door. Forcelight pursued. Instead of blasting me out of my pants, she was closing to melee. Works for me and the reverse punji. She caught up to me at the door and I ducked. She flew over the threshold and the welcome mat thrust up into the air. The spring-loaded mechanism threw her up to the spiked awning overhead that clamped around her as she bumped into it. Then the thrusters kicked in. The awning broke away from the building and flew straight off into the distance with its captive.

It was glorious. Too bad it probably didn’t kill her.

When I got back inside, I found a cracked Moai slowly rolling over to the HeatFlasher to guard it. “You’re looking beat up, Moai. I expect you did the best you could?”

He nodded, then tipped his head toward a hole in the wall shaped like a small woman wearing a giant backpack with waldos coming out of it.

“Good. Doesn’t look like they see have us completely surrounded anymore. Bright Star, Sloth, Forcelight, Miss Tycism, and Troubleshooter out of the way for now. I’ll call in the cavalry. You take the scooter. I’ll have to get the ‘Flasher and the car myself. Side door’s clear.”

Moai didn’t move.

“Now, go, go, go! We don’t have all day.”

Moai slowly nodded, then hopped towards the side door. I made my way to the big giant screen in the main room and tried to call up old friends via video call.

“Elita!” I proclaimed happily. Elita the Warrior Woman dropped her loofa and covered her wet body up with her arms, then the shower curtain. “Listen, amigo, I need some help with-“ She punched out her own screen. “Why the hell do you have one in the shower then?!”

Next call went through to a grey room. “Hello? Max, you there?” Holly flopped over into view, waving the smoke out of her face.

“Hey Gex. What’s up?”

“I’m in a pickle here. I need backup in Empyreal City.”

“Mmm..pickle. Pickles sounds good,” she said, then called out into the obscured room, “Hey guys, let’s go get some pickles!” Then she turned to me, “Hey, we’re all feeling kinda hungry here. We’re gonna take a snack brake from working on the bazhookah. You should stop by some time.” She then switched the screen off.

Who else do I have in my contacts…

Captain Flamebeard appeared on screen in a shower cap, steam rising off his beard. With a scream, he dropped his loofah and went to cover up his nipples. Water splashed against the screen as he frantically scrabbled to turn it off. All I got to say before the transmission ended was, “You know waxing is a thing now, right?”

That was more body hair than I hoped to see in one place.

It looked like help wasn’t on the way. There was just one last person left to call.

The next person to appear on screen was Ouroboros. He was taken aback by my appearance on his monitor. “Douche,” I said, and cut the feed.

“He really is,” said a familiar feminine voice from behind me. I turned to find a beauty in pink, gold, and white armored tights.

“Trying to take me on one-on-one again, Venus?” I spoke amiably. We were, after all, old enemies by now.

“Remember, one of us actually has friends. They’ll be here soon. And,” she pulled out one of their old EMP rods, “You’re not going anywhere anyway.” She activated it. Her hair lifted up briefly as the EMP hit.

I saw the lights on the Heatflasher go dark while my own armor went dead for a few moments. It rebooted and I approached the ‘Flasher and set a gloved hand down on it. Venus circled me, but kept her distance. “What’s a matter, your Caddy out of gas?” said a man in greased hair and a tiger-stripped jumpsuit glimmering with rhinestones in the shape of lightning bolts. The Honky Tonk Hero pointed his guitar at me. “Did you forget to remember to forget about me?”

A man trailing red and blue glowing lines dropped down on the other side of the Heatflasher. His armor was black metal and he brandished a high-tech katana. He didn’t say anything, as always. “Huh, you know I’d just about forgotten about you,” I told him.

“Mechamoto has been busy. I missed out on fighting the alien incursion thanks to you, but he got a lot of experience against warriors in power armor from it. By the way, sorry we’re late for the party. Someone blew up our ride,” said a marble teen in gold tights with yellow griffin designs.

“You got some valuable experience too, Apollo. Don’t forget that ass-whoopin’,” I chuckled and noticed a blinking red light on the console of the Heatflasher, “Well, I think we’ve waited long enough, lady and gentlemen.”

They all got in fighting stances. I got in the Heatflasher and fired up the rockets. I heard someone call out, “The fuck?” as I lifted off.

“Ahahahaha, it’s called redundancy, bitches. Ciao!” I called to them and slammed the ‘Flasher into the big giant screen. It crashed to the floor as I ascended and made for the hole in the roof. I caught a view of a white gleaming dot flying towards me and gave it the finger while hitting the stick to get my ass out of the line of fire.

And so I live to fight another day, like for getting my car back or setting this thing on a skyscraper and going to town on the town if I find a scratch on my car when I blow up the impound.



The Death(s) of Holdout

Fuuuuuuck fucking piece of fucking fuck fucker fuck fuckity fuck poop fuck!

I didn’t care about killing that kid. You know that assuming you were paying attention last time. That’s one thing that made it hard for me. Properly motivated, I could kill someone with a tomato. A motherfucking tomato.

I’m motivated now.

Holdout survived. Barely dressed piece of shit with that those big, needy eyes.

Last time was about convention. You capture the hero’s sidekick, you tie them up, you rough them up a little bit, and then you try to kill them. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have the time to spend on overly elaborate deathtraps. If I throw a refrigerator on your head, you damn well better stay on ice. Even if I don’t care about killing someone, they stay dead. That goes double for any necromancers out there thinking of raising some zombies. You summon up their bodies to do your earthly bidding, you and I are going to have words. Words with fists attached to them.

That’s right, motherfucker, I’ll fist your earholes until your brains pop out. And then everyone will know to beware Psycho Gecko, Fister of Teen Boys.

There needs to be more cusswords.

I found out just recently. Got moved into the new base, a former icecream place this time. Headed out to celebrate out at the bar. There was a big guy just inside the door this time. Looked like he had a crocodile head. I think. Possibly an alligator head. Not that I’m going to voice either one near the guy. Not like I want to offend the guy, you know?

Anyway, Crocofucker actually tried to stop me. Something about me not wearing a mask. I like my armor. In fact, I love my armor. It’s just hard to drink in it. Crocofucker was just trying to enforce the bar’s mask policy.

“It’s alright, just check with the bartender,” I told him as I turned and pointed to him. The barkeep’s eyes went wide as Crocofucker looked. Probably because he also saw my other fist driving up into the bouncer’s stomach. He doubled over and grabbed on to me. On top of the desire for retaliation, he probably wanted some support. He of course turned to look back at me, so he didn’t see the hand I pointed with coming back around to punch him in the throat.

Basic lesson about various enemies. They need to breath. Even giant crocodile men. I slipped out of his grasp while he focused on drawing air, gave him a pat on the shoulder, and told him, “Walk it off, biggun.”

The bartender held up his hands to ward off my wrath. I just told him to get me some hot wings. Also, that the new bouncer better watch his ass. “I guarantee you he’s going to wind up through a table.”

It didn’t take long for him to bring me some. Not that I was going to hurt him for the slight with the bouncer. If that guy wants to keep up that whole “mask rule” business, I’ll simply keep beating him up. I’ve got tenure at the university of ass kicking. Mess with me and I’ll start handing out degrees.

So it was time to check the news. I have got to hand it to the civilians. They really don’t care. I’ve seen huge hulking masses of muscle on so much pot they have a Mexican cartel named after them give more of a fuck than people out there making a national crisis out of a singer lip syncing to her own song at an inauguration. We work so hard to get respect at times and instead Joe Schmo out there is too busy watching a con artist on Oprah try to tell people they can quantum heal their cancer with the power of positive thinking as taught in this one specific $49.99 book he sells.

Which, frankly, is insulting considering all the money he makes off it. At least I’m upfront and honest about robbing people blind. I don’t even trick them into thinking it is for their own good, except for this one time. I had a really good reason though. Really.

The major networks don’t have too much to interest me though. Figures. You want good information about technological advances or rare artwork coming to town, you’ve got to go with NPR or BBC. I switch to the local news, though. Never know when they’ll have something.

This time, it was talking about how Sixgun and Holdout took down a drug ring. I was surprised Holdout was back on his feet so quick, but it was him. The bruises were distinctive, especially the one from the spoon on his nose. Plus, as much as I don’t care to acknowledge it, I recognized his ass.

If I cared about you judging me maybe I wouldn’t be killing people all over the place.
Like I’m going to do to Holdout.

I ordered a beer real quick, something crappy. The bartender asked me to narrow it down among domestic beers, but I glared at him until he brought me something. Then I turned and threw it at the far wall with a cry of “MotherFUCKER!”

The bouncer started to move, then started to stop, then reluctantly started to move toward me again. He looked relieved when Elita the Warrior Woman walked into the bar. He had to stop her since she wasn’t wearing a mask. She put him through a table with a backhand. How does a crocodile reset its jaw? Do they ever need to?

It was entertaining but I just wanted to stew and plot. A different story was on when I turned back. Advances in asteroid tracking technology at a local research lab. I made a note of it as Elita stepped up to the bar. “Anything interesting?”

“Holdout is alive.”

“Oh yeah? Thought you’d be happy about that?”

“The fuck’s that mean?”

“I heard all about you oiling him up and choking him out from the ScrewHaul.”

I hopped off that stool and onto the bar, and then backflipped over Elita. I grabbed her by the collar and waistline, pulled her onto my shoulders while ducking, then threw her over me where she broke through the table next to Crocofucker.

First, I rekill Holdout. Then I kill those movers.




Get in Line, Oppenheimer 2

I admit I didn’t really have a plan behind this. I wanted to ride a rocket. It would be cool.

I suppose it’s like those people who think it is cool to ride a fancy motorcycle. A crotch rocket, if you will. Which is dangerous to think of in another way. Can you imagine firing a rocket off a crotch-mounted launcher?

I suppose it is more honest of a weapon. Phallic connotations.

But I’m back to not being sure what to do. I am not going to use it as a standard vehicle. Black Sunshine, my car, is much better. I also keep my scooter, the Minstrel, in reserve. I also don’t have henchmen, so it’s not like I’m going to keep those at the ready for when they go off to raid other places. Could be useful to keep the rocket in reserve for a special assignment.

So those were my thoughts on things before today, when I think I found something I can use them against.

Goddamn motherfucking space marines.

I should have stated that the city’s been invaded. These guys, calling themselves the Adepticus Pugilisticuses, landed all over the place. I was out getting ice cream at the time. One of these guys, dressed in bright green power armor, lands near me spouting some vaguely Latin crap. I don’t know what a bunch of space soldiers are doing taking in Latin. There are much easier languages that are better adapted to handling space vocabulary. English. Esperanto. Swahili, possibly. Give it a chance is all I’m saying.

So he landed near me with a rifle. The rifle has a chainsaw going all the way around the barrel. He also had it along the knuckles of his gauntlets, the toes of his boots, and his codpiece. He waved it around at everyone around, including me. The rifle, not the codpiece.

Normally I’m a pretty mellow guy, but threatening to attack my chocolate and Nutter Butter cone is not a smart idea. Even worse was that it was a space marine. I tossed my damn cone right in the eyes of his stupid little helmet. This elite warrior was utterly blinded by the sweet sticky treat and fired wildly. Nice trigger discipline.

He hit a few civilians nearby, but missed me due to my inerring ability to duck. Being 7 feet tall and properly holding a gun does make it somewhat more difficult to aim low at close range. Unfortunately the chainsaw codpiece made it difficult for me to practice my standard method of attack. What’s worse, it was one of the cleaner streets, so I didn’t have access to trash, which can prove surprisingly useful in a fight.

I didn’t even have my armor on me. Oh well, just have to make do.

I ran under his aim, grabbed under his arm, lifted it, and gave him a Nasty Surprise in the underarm gap of his armor. The Nasty Surprise is my own little chainsaw weapon mounted on my forearm and used at unexpected times to provide its namesake.

I could hear his muffled scream from under his helmet. I was giggling as he swung around, trying to knock me away while swinging his chainsaw rifle at me. I slipped under the attack and around him. I jumped onto his jump pack and rammed the nasty surprise into his throat, letting it dig its teeth in to another weak point in his armor. Blood spewed forth.

Some faux-Latin brought my attention to another space marine that had just landed behind me. The one whose neck I slit must have activated his pack in a panic because I felt it power on and prepare for a jump. I hopped off and dragged him down with me so that when he shot off towards his buddy.

The second marine showed amazing loyalty and chivalry by firing on his friend. That’s when I found out their ammo was explosive in nature. The marine must have forgotten, because his target was too close to him when he fired. First he was caught in his own ammo’s explosions. Then the first marine’s jump pack went up and took the both of them with it.

I did my best R. Lee Ermey impression then and called out after them, “Why don’t you pansy-ass space marines grow some balls and do some pushups until you can stomach fighting one single enemy in regular atmo! You want to run around with chainsaws, you head on up to Canada, jack off a moose, and cut down trees for a living, do you understand me?!”

Naturally, I didn’t get a response.

Twenty minutes later, I was getting close to the bar. Yeah yeah, the bar or the lair. I was closer to the bar and it had some very valuable vodka. Trust the Russians on that one. Vodka is a powerful ally in warfare.

My approach to the bar took me through a pawn shop. A group of marines were outside, fighting. Probably fighting whoever was caught at the bar. One of them was taking cover from energy blasts behind a mailbox. United States Postal Service, man. Fucking hardcore.

Being in my pawn shop, I had my choice of guns and light construction tools. I entered the fray by kicking open the door, albeit after unlocking it first, and tossing a TV at the startled marine. It knocked the rifle out of his hand and instead he was forced to rely on his chainsaw chainsaw. It was a chainsaw sword with a second set of chainsaw teeth rotating in the opposite direction. If you’re having trouble imagine how that works, you’re not alone. I think it was all for show.

So there he was, chainsaw chainsaw in hand. I had an golf club. He charged and I back somersaulted once, twice, then stopped and jumped forward and high. If I’d had any damn reason to be fancy and lose what little icecream I had in me, I’d have added a spin to it. I landed behind the very confused marine, ripped his butt plate off with a swipe of my Nasty Surprise (doesn’t that sound suggestive?) and shoved the club in there. Just way, way up in there. I think I actually heard something crack when I managed to just barely lever him off the ground.

He fell to the ground, handle still sticking out of his rear end. I gave it a wrench and a tug, breaking it off, then headed over to the bar entrance where some very pissed-off patrons were heading inside, including Elita the Warrior Woman who I helped pull space marine helmet off her boot.

I called out to the bartender as we got inside, “Fancy a pint while this whole thing blows over?”