Establish dominance then dictate terms. It’s a negotiating tactic. That’s why I stuck around.
They didn’t send the Freedom Legion after me at first, because I was in California. Master Academy didn’t really respond, either. They were busy seeing to the death and destruction I’d caused already. So I began to wonder who would be the first to accept the open invitation I presented. I made no effort to hide who I am.
Shockley wasn’t so fond of that idea. He had it in his head that we should just rush Ricca and finish the Telechamber. That, or I could use my power and knowledge to create it myself. The problem there is that I don’t know how to build it myself. The joys of handing off things to subordinates, especially subordinates who understand the physics behind breaching the universe. Even the part of me outside it knew more about brute forcing my way through, and that was only possible when the veil had been weakened.
Oddly, though, I feel like I’m forgetting something. I’m not even drawing a blank, oddly enough. It’s like whenever I feel I’m close, I start remembering a recipe for peanut butter no-bake cookies.
There was time enough. There weren’t many who could banish this partial amalgamation if they even knew how. That family, the Trust, are such gigantic screw-ups that even their benefactors won’t be able to stop me. Legba and Samedi have the competence, but I believe they’ve taken a liking to the Earthly part of me. They would have to banish all of me.
So it was that I didn’t feel threatened when I was shot out of the sky while flying along over the California countryside. The disadvantage of leaving my armor behind didn’t matter so much if I can get hit by an exploding shell and suffer nothing worse than a little tumble through the air. I saw a streak of fire pass over the farm fields below me before I righted myself. The fires spread around me as the man inside buned his way around the sky to encase me inside a flaming whirlwind in the sky.
I created a protective aura, then pushed the outer layer of the aura out to leave a void and make it even harder for the heat to reach me. A shot from Warman barely missed Eschaton and exploded against the aura surrounding me. Eschaton, meanwhile, spiraled around down below me and fired up, blasting white hot flames up at me.
I created a hole on the underside of my protective shield. The flames went in one end, and came out in the fields below me. I used another such hole to pull myself out a short distance away, letting me spot where Warman stood on the nearby highway. The guy held a gun that usually requires a tank underneath it. Eschaton stopped when he saw the fire down below, then turned and flew at me. This time, when Warman fired, a hole in the universe carried the round outside of everything to come out and explode against Warman. The fiery superhero fell, stunned by the concussion wave of the explosion even if the flames wouldn’t do anything to a being of his abilities.
Down on the ground, Warman soon found the cannon yanked out of his hands by one of mine reaching through another such hole. When he jumped and grabbed onto it to pull it back, another couple of fists of mine appeared just in front of him and used his nutsack for a speedbag. When he tried to cup them protectively, I pulled back and opened another pair of holes. One grabbed him by the back of the head and pulled his head back. The other popped him on the underside of the jaw, sending him flying. I decided to open one last portal for him, to dump him in the Potomac as an example.
Eschaton came for me again, all fire and hatred. I created a new aura, to absorb the heat. All the heat. Soon, it was me in a ball of icy mist that grew and stretched down along the flames coming from his outstretched hands. He broke and tried to flee before it could ensconce him.
I gathered the ice up and, with but a wave of my hand, broke it into sharpened shards that launched themselves after him like spears. He took evasive maneuvers while blasting those closest to where he was heading. He missed one, that got him in the back of his left thigh. He fell, clutching at the hole that his own heat opened up to the world. I dropped him on Warman as well.
Then, just because I felt like it, I laughed and created a hailstorm.
Shockley thought it was stupid thanks to his jealousy, but it was all in good fun for me. That, and all in the name of showing that I can’t be beaten. The sooner Earth gets that through their heads, the sooner they can give the fuck up.
Those two weren’t the only major heroes to gun for me. I stopped off in this one little town to enjoy the fruits of the local farmer’s market. The Gecko side of me had plenty of time to enjoy apples and other delights, but the part of me from the void, Omega, felt a great yawning hunger. Aside from an urge to devour the planet whole, it also urged me to devour some juicy, delicious produce.
I wasn’t even committing any crimes when, out of nowhere, this guy in a red and white outfit flies at me. Darker brown skin, a Latino fellow by my estimation, with a long, brown beard and long hair. I’d seen a suit like that before, with a white cape like that as well. This time, it golden runes covered every inch of the cape, and the suit seemed just slightly different, with golden lightning bolts along the forearm sleeves and the thighs. He had a lightning bolt buckle, I would say, but no belt for it.
I raised an eyebrow and caught the man’s left handed punch. The way the building next to us shuddered and baskets blew off the shelves, I realized that had all taken place in an incredibly short span of time. There might have been a sonic boom involved. I smiled and looked to this newcomer, holding him tight in my grip. “Who are you supposed to be?”
“I’m Captain Lightning, new and improved,” he said. Twin bolts of electricity arced from his eyes. I raised a hand, creating an iron pole to catch and ground them in the dirt. He tried to pull his hand away then, but couldn ‘t, so he resorted to punching me with his right. I grabbed that as well, then pulled him forward to bonk his head on the iron pole. It wouldn’t do much to him, other than make him look silly. So did my lower hands reaching forward to tickle just underneath the sides of his ribs.
“Stop that!” he yelled. “Unhand me, villain!”
“So many ways I could take that,” I said. I raised my lower hands, the fingers folding together as if to karate chop. Red crystal formed around them, forming blades as thin as an atom at their edges. I was just about to unhand him when some real lightning hit me in a huge blast out of nowhere. It numbed me momentarily and let the pretender get away. When I looked up, the sky was dark and rumbled with the anger of the man who descended, his more subdued cape flowing behind him in the breeze.
Even knowing the man behind that facade was an oldtimer who had fought in World War II, the original Captain Lightning’s superpowered form looked as young and as strong as ever. “I sense Psycho Gecko in you… and an incredible corruption of power that doesn’t belong here.”
“I have graduated from psychopomp to god. You’re outmatched now, Lightning,” I told him. I liked the guy, though I could feel a part of me getting pumped at the idea of going up against this guy.
“You face not one, but the many gods who empower myself and my apprentice,” Captain Lightning said. “But I saw that, for your faults and your outrages in days past, you sought no quarrel here. Can we avoid further destruction this day?”
“You can’t be serious!” Captain Lightning II yelled. I wondered vaguely how old this one was. He didn’t strike me as particularly mature, but it’s easy to see lots of guys running into a fight if they had those abilities at his disposal.
“Trust me, there’s no fight to be had here. Just a beating, if you want it,” I said, turning my back to them so I could look around for some more fresh fruit from the market. I grinned to myself, wondering if Lightning would be able to control Junior there enough to stop the inevitable attempt at a sneak attack.
“No,” I heard over the wind as the older original addressed what I assumed was his trainee. “This is a time for wisdom, not force.”
“Yes, run along before you soil those tights,” I called back, bending down to grab a peach. I waved a hand, magically knocking all dust and dirt off the thing and leaving it completely clean. I put it up to my mouth when a blow hit me from behind, knocking it clear. I whirled to find the new Lightning nowhere around, with the original standing back some. Quicker than lightning, I turned and found him as a speeding blur trying to get behind me for another punch. Faster even than him, I caught the peach I dropped and pitched it at his face. It hung in the air as soon as I released it, right in the path of Lightning II.
I returned to normal time and watched as Lightning II accelerated into the peach that exploded against his face as a flaming ball of fruit and knocked him off his feet. I bent down next to him and gestured. “Yeeeeeeer out!”
Then, I leaned down close to his face. “Hey, kid, just wondering. How’s your mom these days? She still hot? The boobs hanging in there? She got some MILF going on? I only ask because I’m newly single, and I think she’s the only person in your family who stands a chance getting her hands on this.”
He growled and headbutted me. Knocked me back slightly, but left him shaking his head, dazed.
“Are you done, Gecko?” asked the real Captain Lightning, watching close.
“Not going to intervene, Cap?” I asked.
“He’s learning a lesson about one of our powers: wisdom. And I hope watching you tells me what happened to you? Why did you give in to whatever did this to you?” he asked.
I looked at him, feeling my teeth grow sharper as I sized him up. “Like I need an excuse?”
“Venus, or Medusa, vouched for you being more than a mindless animal obsessed with killing and destroying. Was she wrong?” he asked.
“Maybe she doesn’t know me as well as she thinks. A friend like Mix N’Max would know I wouldn’t take that kind of treatment well. A person like me is betrayed, I’d go to all sorts of ends to bring down the people who thought they trapped me.” I nodded toward him, then reached down and patted his trainee on the cheek. “Come get your successor. I think he needs a bit more time on training wheels.”
Captain Lightning stepped forward and helped his apprentice up. “He’ll be ready soon. He has to be. But it won’t be you or whatever is attached to you that forces him to step up quite yet.”
They sped off, leaving me triumphant in front of a bunch of people who, if they hoped the pair of world-class heroes would defeat me, had to realize the day wasn’t saved just yet. Not as long as I was still on Earth.