Tag Archives: Flamethrower

Psycho City 5

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So I’m slightly closer to figuring things out. Out on my own, I’ve gone through the Ukrainian connection and don’t have to worry about fighting them unless I want to avenge Michelangelo. I’ll pencil that in for later. I also found Dr. Creeper and his old-fashioned laboratory of mad science. Nice guy. The soup wasn’t much, but I can hardly criticize him for not preparing a grand feast when he didn’t even know I’d be sneaking in. And that covers who the equipment went to and how it got onto the militia assholes.

That leaves me looking for a man with a golden eyeball. That’s a bit tougher, especially without the benefit of something like a gold detector. He’s got to be around here somewhere.

As far as here goes, the city’s not dead yet. Maybe I’m worrying more than I needed to, but construction is just pounding away. There are still tensions. The police don’t like the military being around or the militant heroes. Master Academy, older heroes, and the reformed villains don’t much care for the militant heroes or military. Then again, the reformed villains don’t necessarily get along with all the older heroes, Master Academy, or the police, either. Either way, folks are learning to live and work together, Little by little, they’re blending and merging, until one day they’re all going to be one united people; living and working and dancing together like the news, or Ally McBeal, or the people that work at Saturn! I should stop it before it’s too late.

That’s not a major goal. Really, I just want to interrogate me some militant heroes. Those three who beat me when my battery was less armored should do it. If I can’t get them, then it’ll be time to track down their friends, who I already injured. Like that guy who was moved from the hospital just before the city was bombed!

Hmm. I never found that out. I wonder if that was the Ukrainians? It doesn’t strike me as Creeper’s style. I don’t know. The fact that the President talked as if there were explosions already before they happened makes it seem like it could have been related to the military. I mean, looking back, I don’t know if the Ukrainians just have that good of coordination with the White House, or if it’s exceptionally poor. Chances are good I can stab the answer to that out of the man with the golden eyeball.

Besides, the President has other things to deal with. Investigations, unpopular policies, and his former National Security Advisor turned out to be a foreign agent for Turkey. Out of the frying pan and into the fryer for that guy.

He’s not the only source of instability. While villain attacks are down in Empyreal City, they’re starting to pop up in other places. There’s a lot more social upheaval across the nation than I’d been seeing day to day, and that makes it easier. Agitates people with powers. Making someone with laser eyes feel powerless can be very good in the short term, but it tends to backfire.

Over in Australia, they’ve started fielding soldiers with alien-derived weapons and armor, courtesy of the downed ship there. Here in the United States, they’re still taking bids on which corporation gets to study the pieces and come up with its own private products instead. Meanwhile, the United States has declared it isn’t getting involved with its foreign defense obligations, meaning Europe and Japan are rearming like crazy. Russia’s circumvented most of the Ukraine to launch annexations of Eastern European countries, while Japan has The Claw to worry about in Korea and the Pacific. Poor Estonia’s getting fucked over now. Have some sympathy for all the Estoners out there.

Yep, there’s a lot going on in the world. That’s just what the news has to say on the wider political perspective. That’s not counting specific legislation in the U.S., or scandals, or in-depth economics. Nothing in there about state-level politics. I have enough to keep up with in my own life without focusing on everybody else’s ins-and-outs.

That stuff doesn’t necessarily affect me. I mean, sure, it’s good to know that the President’s businesses keep getting robbed, but that doesn’t do much to help me figure out the things I’m focusing on.

At the moment, that’s these militant heroes. I got bored calling them militia heroes, especially because I haven’t seen the actual militia guys around so much. Which makes me curious. I didn’t kill them all when I hit their camp, nor did the cops round them all up. Hell, the cops probably didn’t hold any of them.

I needed to draw out the militant heroes. And so I did. I just took a few days to work on a special project to welcome them, first.

I made my move by crashing a dump truck into the side of a building on Wall Street. I knew it’d attract attention. The place didn’t look all that impressive on the ground floor, though. A bunch of people in businesswear who had been sitting around at computers began diving and running around. I stepped out in my armor, walked over to one such computer, and stuck a USB drive in it. Behind me, I saw someone huddled under his desk pull out a phone and start recording me.

“There once was a dog with a bone,” I said to the man, without turning around. The computer hadn’t been left quite so open, but basic passwords could be broken into. Then I just had to get into the trading program. “He trotted along, so proud of it. So big and delicious. The best bone in the world. Then, one day, he’s walking along the river and looks down. There he sees another dog with another big, beautiful bone.” And in.

I began scrolling through. Very basic access to only a few accounts. Most stock trading is automated anyway. I didn’t need to do a thing to them. I just needed to access them, and then send an email to everyone in the company with a worm on it. “The dog got jealous and wanted this new bone for itself, too. So it attacked the dog in the water. In the process, it dropped the bone into the water and lost it forever.”

I turned to look right at the cowering person with their forthcoming viral video. “Or perhaps we should discuss the Wendigo. A spirit of greed and hunger that drives man to consume other men, making a man a monster in the process. I know, I sound like a bit of a hippie right now, but have you ever stopped to consider that this is a warning about very practical weaknesses? If a person is obsessed with money, you know they value it and don’t have enough to satisfy themselves, so they’re weaker at obtaining it than they’d like. If a person is obsessed with image, they value it but are bad at maintaining one. That’s why those most secure in something don’t have to worry about it.”

“What do you want?” asked the person.

I smiled. “Overall? To be free, I guess.”

“Does that mean you aren’t?” he asked.

“You’re catching on.” I smiled. “But I’m not here to worry myself over questions of philosophy overly much. Worry y’all, perhaps, but not myself. And free both of us. Also, there may be something about a giant chicken and a hidden agenda, but that’s just to be expected at this point.”

“Giant chickens are to be expected?” he asked.

“Of course. It’s unexpected chocolate that’s embarrassing. You don’t want that to happen to you.”

“Unexpected chocolate?” he asked.

I said nothing more as I went around, calmly pretending to do stuff on the computers. I’d already done all I actually needed to do, so instead I waited for a certain sort of attention to come my way.

The police showing up wasn’t an issue until they made a move for my dump truck. I sent those packing with bruises so bad, they were going to move in with their mothers and file for a restraining order against me.

I didn’t do much as hostage rescue teams cleared out other floors and otherwise got people to safety. Hell, I doubt very many of the higher-ups in the place wanted to leave me with their precious undefended computers. I wasn’t interested in the usual preachiness toward stockbrokers today, though. I just knew this was a target that would be defended.

Thirty minutes after I first careened down the road, cars onto the sidewalk, and then smashed through the wall, I heard the red, white, and blue chrome monstrosity they call a truck roar up to the place and come to a screeching stop. I’d been worried someone else would show up and attempt to stop me beforehand, actually. Maybe Master Academy peeked in somehow. All I know is, I got the number one thing on my Christmas list delivered. Now, it was time to get naughty.

I stepped out through the hole. “Greetings and salutations, jerkwads!”

They flashy-thingied me again. My eyes were compensating, but it was all part of the plan. While I pretended to be unable to see, I knew they’d advance. I grabbed a remote off my belt and pushed a button. The dump truck’s rear opened its door and lifted up, dropping the largest chicken grenade I’ve ever made into the street.

I heard the fire shoot out and scrambled around to hide in front of the truck. I overheard someone yell ,”Is that thing glowing?” “Hit it again!”

I made it just before the explosion. Not the biggest explosion, and it sounded rather wet. My vision cleared by the time I looked out and saw hot liquid chocolate covering the three heroes and a portion of the street out there.

Flamethrower was trying to pick himself up from the scorching hot chocolate that gunked up the arm that prompted me to give him that name. The one with a helmet and a pair of eyes that shot lasers wasn’t doing so hot either, also knocked down. The gooey gunk covered the eye lenses. As he stood up, a device rose from his spine, covered in more deliciously evil sweetness and unable to flash me again. Hit-Man stood, still. His giant piston fists had protected his face, and something rose from the ground behind his ankles as he started walking forward.

“You’re gonna pay for that, boy!”

I gently punched my own fist as I walked toward him. “Geez, asshole, loosen up. It’ll make this next part go easier.”

I think someone got a picture as we approached all Rocky 3 style, about to lay a beatdown on each other. Except this ending wasn’t going to be ambiguous. I telegraphed a punch, then spun my upper body and ducked, throwing my cape onto him. I detached it as I continued spinning. I jumped at the end of it, launching a kick against his head that sent him against the side of the dump truck. I slid a little trying to get my balance, but so did he. And he had to do it with a cape on his head after smacking against a truck.

Flamethrower stood there, trying to clear his arm. I smirked under my helmet as I approached. He took a few steps back, but I was on him in an instant, lifting him up and throwing him back against Hit-Man.

These guys weren’t so tough with their teamwork negated, let alone something to screw up their abilities. While Hit-Man turned and punched Flamethrower, I tore the flashbanger off Laser Eye’s spine and batted him in the head with it a few times. The first blows broke his lenses; the third knocked him down.

“Geez, and to think, you call yourselves superheroes. Then again, I suppose y’all are the only ones to do so, right?”

“Shut up, criminal!” Flamethrower yelled at me.

“Actually, talking is why I called this little meeting today. I’d been hoping to have a little chat with you. But first, let’s have some privacy.” I threw Laser Eye at them both and took off running. They caught their friend, but were unprepared for my jumping drop kick that took all of us into the building. I kipped up even as they had to stand back up. Dusting myself off, I put a little distance between myself and them.

“Okily dokily. Now that we’re in here, let’s fill in some blanks in the story. Ukrainian mob, Russian military, man with golden eyeball, a militia, and Dr. Creeper.”

“Fuck,” said Laser Eye. He stood up, trying to look around with his damaged and dirty cybernetic eyes.

“Language, language.” I sat down on one of the cushy office chairs. I rolled close to Hit-Man, who had removed my cape from his head. “I’ll take that.” When he raised a fist, I rolled back over to Laser Eye, who tripped into my lap. I held him like a baby, except with more neck support that could easily turn into neck damage if my hands twisted the wrong way.

“Let him go,” said Hit Man. He glared at me through a mask that was mainly white and red this time. His fists clenched, pistons shooting out and then easing back in along each knuckle.

“First, I want to know about your friend with the golden eyeball. Who he is, who he works for, and his goals are.”

“We can’t tell you that,” Hit-Man said. I noticed his eyes checking around to see if any cops or news crews had followed us in. He actually wasn’t paying attention to the correct direction. He missed the staffer with the phone hiding under his desk. The guy had stuck around to get more footage of everything and was busy recording again.

I shrugged. “Ok, you could refuse to tell me. But then I go out there and let everyone know all about the stuff I do know and how to check it. Some fellow with a golden eye hires y’all to come up here and pays the Ukrainian mob to give y’all special weapons to fight supers. Y’all managed to get a teen boy super hostage at some point, too. Then, when that base gets broken up, Goldy buys parts from the Ukrainians and hires Dr. Creeper to turn some of you into a little boy band of wannabe supers who are conveniently placed for when the city is bombed and the President sends in the military to force supers to register. Here y’all are, just ready to be his shining example of good, loyal heroes. So, ya see, there’s not much left I need to know, but I can always kill or cripple y’all to find out, which will likely raise some questions from your employer as to why he ever should have invested money into you in the first place.”

“Ha! We’re all prepared to die as patriots to this great nation,” Flamethrower said defiantly.

“Can I get a say in that?” asked Laser Eye with a trembling voice.

I leaned close to himand whispered in his year. “Shh. Let’s just both pretend that’s chocolate down there, ok?”

Hit-Man looked at Laser Eye, then turned to Flamethrower. He hit the other militant on the arm. “Keep a look out. We don’t want cameras following us in.”

Flamethrower huffed, but went to stand a bit closer to the hole in the wall, keeping an eye on the exterior.

Hit-Man looked to me and Laser Eye. “You’re not a real good hero, are you?”

I shook my head. “I’m not a hero. That’s why I don’t have to go to the police. I can drop off severed heads as easily as I can evidence. It also means I don’t care one bit about sending y’all to prison. I’m just quite curious, because I’ve gotten caught in the middle of all this. I want to understand it, determine if it’s a threat to me and my interests, and deal with it accordingly.”

“So this isn’t some anti-hero bullshit?” Hit-Man asked.

I shook my head in the negative again. “If you think the real superheroes would be here threatening to snap your friend’s neck after wrecking this place, you haven’t been paying attention. Just tell me, and I leave. Peacefully. No one’s here to say you didn’t fight me off only for me to escape through trickery. People will believe it. You’re stupid.”

“Hey!” called Flamethrower from the wall.

Hit-Man waved off his buddy’s complaint. “Fine. The man’s name is Arthur Union. He said he was part of a group trying to restore America to its rightful place in the world. I mean, at first the guys didn’t trust him, but he had so much money. Plus, he got us a meeting with someone important. He knew big people in politics. Someone would actually pay attention to what we wanted for once.”

Ah yes, for once the rich white men would in control. I let him go on. “Nobody said anything about Russians and Ukrainians. We just had to take some money and work with the President. We were going to be a big help. We’d be patriots. We didn’t know anything about the bombings.”

“Now here’s where I correct your memory, because it’s changing slightly to make you feel better. I know for a fact that one of your colleagues I’d hospitalized was removed from the building shortly before one of the bombs blew that place up.” I started stroking Laser Eye’s hair. He jerked at first, then tried to settle down.

“We didn’t know there would be a bomb. Union called up and said we needed to get our friend out of there. He would be in danger. We were supposed to get him and get out of the city, because something big was going to happen.”

I nodded. It could fit. He could still be lying to me, but it could fit, too. “So, Arthur Union. You know if that’s his real name?”

“Not for sure. He used a different one around us once. Arthur Urum. The guy’s connected. He knows people all over the world. Ukraine and Russia, true, but I once heard the guy speaking Japanese into his phone. That help any?”

I shrugged. “Maybe. Maybe not. How do I find him?”

He sighed. “You trying to get a guy killed?”

“I don’t care necessarily, but I also don’t care to tell him how I heard of him. Sound nice?” I crossed my arms.

He took a second to chew that over in his head before looking around. He grabbed a pen and a stack of sticky notes and jotted down an address. He held out it out for me. I took it and dropped Laser Eye, telling them, “If this is wrong, I’ll be back. There’s always further to fall, you know. I’m sure your friends know that personally.”

“Just get out of here,” he said.

I looked over the address and saved it to my hard drive before stuffing it into a pouch on my belt. As the ’90s proved, you can never have enough pouches. I stood up and gave them a mock bow. “Y’all head out the hole. I’ll disappear my way.”

“What’s your way?” he asked. I ignored it and cranked up my gauntlets. After a second of charging, I had bright blue glowing around my fists. I took a good look around the room, then stepped over to the spot I’d looked up. One good punch collapsed the floor and sent me into the sewer. Good thing I couldn’t smell it.

No, in my helmet, I smelled the sweet smell of victory. Victory, and unexpected chocolate in an explosive chicken package.

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Bananarama 10

It was a great day. I walked down the middle of Beale Street, singing to myself, armor sealed to the fog that drifted through the city. A bar to my right had its doors closed and secured. Frightened faces stared out from behind the glass. I stepped over to a metal chair from one of their outside tables, grabbed it, and swung. It flew through the air and smashed through the doorway, sending people scattering back from the door. They were somewhat less paranoid when a headless rubber chicken bounced off their floor and helped itself to its feet to try and walk back out the door.

Then, of course, came fire and screams. I added my laugh to the cacophony and continued singing, “So let’s sink another drink, ’cause it’ll give me time to think, if I had the chance I’d ask the world to dance, and I’ll be dancing with myself.”

I stopped at a bar where a pair of men stood, bloody, scratched and scraped. They were back to back, bodies on the floor. One held a broken two by four. The other had a hammer in his hand. They turned to me and the hammer guy said something about “Look, another one.”

His buddy told him, “No, everyone else has gone insane now. We can’t trust anybody.”

The hammer guy shook his head, “We should at least try. You never know. He’s wearing something, after all.”

I removed one of my lever grenades from my belt, set it, and pitched it in. “Oh dancing with myself, dancing with myself,” Their quandary was solved by shrapnel. The explosion was matched and even superseded by more explosions from over by Main street. I saw a National Guard helicopter lose control and crash to the ground. Even with it down, more rockets were fired into the air, only to turn and look for more targets of sufficient heat. A quick listen in on the radio chatter told the tale. The soldiers thought they were fighting Godzilla.

Amazing, the things you can do with regular old chemicals. Mix N’ Max wants to use his special mixtures. You can’t recreate the stuff he pulls off, no matter what you try. His power makes it work when it shouldn’t. But in my training, I learned about other things I could just toss out into a city to cause a big mess. There’s nothing to lose and there’s nothing prove, I’ll be dancing with myself.

3-Quinuclidinyl benzilate. A handy little chemical if you want to get a whole bunch of people fucked up. In this instance, fucked up includes: acting stupid, confusion, memory distortion, memory loss, difficulty urinating, dry mouth, slurred speech, difficulty sweating, loss of coordination, illusions, hallucinations, group hallucinations, mumbling, overuse of clichés, paranoia, getting naked, and a desire to crawl. To be fair, some of these are pretty much how I act all the time. If you’re lucky, symptoms only last for a day. There weren’t a lot of lucky people in Memphis right about now.

What a very unfortunate time for a few groups of heroes, some marauding villains, and a lot of people armed with guns and military vehicles to all be within the area of exposure. Why should I have all the fun blowing things up and maiming everyone? I invited all our favorite heroes over to play too. From the sound of things, a Kaiju enthusiast is helping to clear the skies near here.

Good idea. I’d better see what I can do to give Venus and I a little privacy. “Hey everyone!” I called out to whatever passerby and bystanders were on the street and bars and stores, “Better watch out for that zombie virus going around!” I’d get people to fight imaginary vampires, but that clueless hack had to go and pussify vampires in her masturbatory crackfic. Oooh, shiny skin, how terrifying. I’m not going to be seduced by any creature of the night that feels no urge to impale their enemies and are so stupid they don’t know the difference between animal and vegetable. Even a modern major general knows the difference.

I wanted this next moment to be between myself and Venus. I had Moai out grabbing me a van and loading up my junk. I feel like moving, and a whole lot of people are about to feel the same way once they get done murdering their neighbors who just got zombified according to their fragile little minds.

Listen to them, screaming. Someone they knew just turned. A loved one or a friend. Or maybe their asshole boss that they always wanted to drive a steak into. But they’ll realize when they wake up that “Oh no…I just slew another person…with a T-bone. What a waste of a perfectly good steak. Why couldn’t it have been you, sirloin?!” and then a knight made of meat will threaten them with his lance. But in the end, they’ll despair. They’ll want to make things right again. Embrace this change, kiddoes. Were your lives so absolutely perfect before this?

Bunch of scaredy cats. Sometimes you have to run as fast as you can just to stay where you are when you should be running in a different direction. That’s what this is for, in a way. People think they become a different person when they’re drunk or high. They actually show their real selves then.

I wonder if it says anything that so many people think I’m high all the time?

Anyway, got a call from Flamethrower. He said something about being chased by a giant hamburger man, but somewhere in there was that Venus was trying the Voodoo shop here for a cure. I’ll bet that store does have a ward up to prevent just this kind of thing affecting the people there, which means there’s a chance they could actually do something about this.

I barely touched the door to the Voodoo shop when somebody dropped down behind me. Ambush, of course! Yay! More casualties! I whirled on my new playmate and found Flamethrower. Holding a rather familiar looking rod. I have my suspicions about him and Snowblower, but it wasn’t that kind of rod. He pressed a button and a painful crackling hit me. My armor shut down. The rod shocked him though and he dropped it. Venus must have some shock resistance in that armor.

“Remember this?” Flamethrower asked, getting up in my face. He looked surprisingly sober, and yet he was terrible at personal dental care. I just held still, waiting for the restart. “You just play around and don’t pay attention. You didn’t even ask about this after we caught your girlfriend. Now, you and me, we’re going to settle up about my arm you broke.” He turned then toward the street and raised his arms, which caught flame, “Hey everyone, watch me kill Psycho Gecko! It’s me who did it once and for all!”

Armor back online. Aren’t upgrades great? I slipped my laser potato peeler out of my belt and gripped it in a fist as I rammed it up Flamethrower’s puckered Tunnel of Love while yelling, “Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh!”

He joined me in a duet.

“Now this turkey’s good and stuffed, so it’s time to get rid of the giblets!” I said, giving the worst cooking lesson ever. I fired the laser potato peeler inside of him. It was hard to aim, but I didn’t care about that anyway. I lifted Flamethrower off his feet that way, grasped him by the shoulder with the other hand, spun him around a couple of times, then dropped him head first onto a mailbox, smashing his head into the interior. After wiping my laser and my gloves hand off on his tight costume pants, I pointed at him with both hands and said, “Your ass just got the full package.” Then I sprayed the laser down with air freshener so it smelled like fresh laundry done on a pleasantly warm summer’s day. It took the whole bottle.

Betrayal. Not a bad thing to try as long as you succeed. Success is often the measure of whether something was good or bad, right or wrong. For example, to quote Richard Dawkins on how he can be sure that the scientific approach is correct, “It works, bitches.” Same reason why I assault people in the ass in order to kill them.

Getting back on track, I grabbed the door to the Voodoo shop and stepped in accompanied by the pleasant dinging of bells on the door. I glimpsed Venus, kneeling, with a bocor chanting over her. Shadow suddenly filled my vision and took shape. A familiar shape. The barkeep. “There will be no fighting in here, Psycho Gecko.” It sounded odd, like she said it twice in a row, but the second time was catching up to the first. It was when I tried to push her aside and wave to Boopsie that I realized how sluggish I now felt. The barkeep pushed my hand away like she was brushing off a fly. “No, you stay here right now. We’ll be with you in a minute.”

“You’re helping heroes now?” I asked, feeling my center of weight shift. I stumbled back a step before catching myself.

There was amusement to her words, but no smile to match, “We help ourselves. We also help the balance when it is asked of us. Otherwise, we’re happy to see you do so well for yourself.”

“Whatever. Hey Venus!” I yelled to her. She didn’t respond, but nothing stopped me from goading her so far. “You want to set up some arrangements now, while you still have time? Just be warned, I don’t really do ‘closed casket’ stuff. When I kick an ass, it tends to affect the whole body.” I emphasized that last point by pantomiming a circle with my hands. “Tsk. Not even paying attention. You don’t appreciate anything I do for you!”

The chant stopped and Venus stirred. She stood and turned to look at me. I could see her eyes were red and puffy, until she fitted the gas mask on, that is. She reached down and unhooked another EMP rod from her hip. The barkeep moved out of the way and a windstorm accompanied that movement, moving past her to blow me off my feet and through the door.

I bounced off the street outside and rolled back. I stood up brushed off my chest and shoulders. There, about ten sub sandwiches away from me, stood Venus, also recovering. I hadn’t seen her pass me, but I was too busy thinking of ways to tell the guys at the bar that the barkeep had blown me. I reached for my pleasant-smelling potato peeler and took aim. Venus noticed my aggressive movement and readied the rod. My laser cut into it and left a gash. Venus pressed the button to make it work but it crackled and electricity arced down her body. She went rigid. That made two of us.

I sent a charge through my gloves and swatted the rod away, then gave it a zap. Venus stumbled back, trying to keep from slumping over in my presence. “You look like crap,” I told her, smooth ladies man that I am. I walked around behind her and she swiveled to keep me within sight. “Must have been a lot of work, but I figured you had it in you. I hope you enjoyed the death trap, by the way. I had to improvise because you only brought the cops along. You’re a smart girl, but it took awhile for you to rally everyone here to help me barbecue Memphis.”

I stopped once I had walked a full circle around here. “You wanted us all here?” she asked, perhaps not quite believing it.

“Yepperdy depperdy. I let you clean up the others while I laid low. I seemingly killed them but actually broke them out, securing their temporary loyalty. Then I gave you the puzzle pieces to fit together. ‘How do I find this guy? I don’t know, let’s look into that hot dog assault and the Moai sightings.’ I’m glad you were that clever, at least. I’ve noticed you and the Honky Tonk Hero liaise with the cops really well. How is he, anyway?” You better believe I monologued. I rarely put myself in that kind of position. I find it inconvenient for actually getting things done. In this case, what I wanted done was to echo a sentiment she expressed in an earlier conversation.

She straightened up, her fingers clenching along the sides of her tights. Let me talk or take me down now? Which is her better option? “Recovering,” was her muffled response.

My casual tone was quickly turning to jovial. I have to hold in the laughter, “Ah, alive. You heroes have an odd survival rate lately. But you’ve been a big help to each other as well. How is anyone supposed to get any decent killing done with all of y’all running around trying to punch me in the face and give me a swirly? Police forces, even armies I can deal with,” I raised my hands up just over my head and swirled them around, “All well and good to send an army in, but at the end of the day, you’d be surprised what just a few guys with superpowers can do. Case in point, your army becomes my army. You got an ear on the feed?” Must hold in the laughter.

I linked in my monitoring of the Guard’s comms with my suit’s speakers. The Guard had send in unexposed units in MOPP gear to bail their own people out. “Our own people are firing on us!” “Push back the Commie bastards!” “WAAAAGH!” A myriad of voices told the tale as confused and delusional soldiers fought their own.

I cut the speakers. Venus looked around, fully taking in just what I had done to the self-proclaimed protectors of the innocent. I couldn’t read her expression behind that mask. Pain, maybe? If I remember correctly, it can be quite a heartrending experience to realize you’ve become the villain, unless you decide not to care.

“So now, thanks to your failure to catch me, your failure to predict me, and your reasonable response to bring in help, all your little friends, all your little army men, and a lot of people in this city are all fighting, squabbling, shooting away at each other,” I chucked, putting my hand on my forehead. I pulled it away quickly to check. Clean glove. I put it back on my helmet’s forehead and resumed chuckling as if nothing had happened. It lasted a little too long before I stopped myself. “Attacking each other and bystanders and little imaginary butt trolls that are stealing the world’s peaches. You must feel like such the heroes. I bet you beat up a lot of people on the way here, thinking they were something hostile. Zombies. Aliens. Ninjas. Me. A lot of good you’re doing for the world Boopsie. Teach them not to be afraid, Boopsie.”

“Don’t you call me that,” she shot back quickly. Was that pain in her voice? Nommy nommy pain? Om nom nom. I hit a nerve.

I tried to speak in a lazy, dismissive tone to calm her down. Oh, wait, it was actually to help twist the knife riding my next words, “Someone sounds pained. Reminds me of that conversation awhile back. How did it go…’You can’t hurt me. I’m going to make sure you can’t hurt anyone anymore.’ That sounds about right,” I savored the moment, smiling to myself. I continued in that dismissive tone, tempering my next question with spite in the last two words, “Have I hurt you yet?”

I couldn’t help it. I burst out laughing. Making it worse, I was so fucking hard in the crotch right then.

 

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Bananarama 9

Staying in Graceland was not a good idea. I’m not talking strategically. It was bad enough once again bringing up Elvis while I was in Memphis. I’m personally beginning to hate the name. I’m a hair away from going Biblical and murdering everybody named Elvis in Egypt. Go ahead, call me on it. It doesn’t sound like much of a threat now, but just wait until you get a phone call from poor Elvis Bin Zayd begging you because he’s got a wife and kids. “Please,” he’ll beg you through tears, “Kill my parents instead. They’re the ones who named me!” Then you’re going to be in the middle of an ethical dilemma. Do you kill this man’s parents who named, or do you let me kill him for being named Elvis?

Aha! It was a trick question. His parents were the ones to name him Elvis, thus they are clearly the ideal candidates to be painfully eradicated.

Let me tell you, I’ve stayed in some skeezy, scuzzbucket places. War zones. Dumpsters. New Jersey. I’ve sat on a lot of crappers. Toilets, to use another term. The porcelain god. The one true throne. The thinker’s pedestal. The stinker’s pedestal. The facilities. The john. New Jersey. In none of those places, and in none of those bathrooms, did I have to put up with some wide-eyed tourists taking my picture as I used the toilet. The toilet. The one the King died on. I tell you, finding out those perverts were watching me put me off the pills I was trying to shovel into my mouth.

They’re not mine, by the way. I found them up there in his bedroom. Along with a few dirty magazines. By the way, about those magazines? I enjoy a nice foot as much as the next guy, but I was about ready to tell any woman in an open-toed shoe to cover herself like a decent person.

So, let’s see…what did I do next? Oh yeah, I took the tourist guy, squeezed his head into a peanut butter jar, bonked him with a couple of hard old bread loves, smooshed a banana on his head, and held his head in the fryer like that. Apparently fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches were good enough for his idol but he wants no part of them. I then dragged him outside to either eject him from my property or let him choose where he would be buried. I always get those two mixed up.

That was when I saw the motherfucking tank in the street. It wasn’t aiming at me, but the floating Elvis impersonator clearly was. Honky Tonk Hero dropped down low and flew right at me, his gleaming guitar outstretched before him. I made a run for it. I leapfrogged the family graves and he followed. I made good on one of my threats and gave the signal via my ocular implants. The bombs weren’t particularly big as far as explosive devices go, but they were channeled downward and into the last resting places of the Presley family.

I know you’re all worried and gasping and going “Oh the humanity!” but I’m perfectly fine. The majority of the blast was directed into the graves and the earth, but it threw up a layer of dirt and other particulates that may have once been part bone. That layer was what caught Honky Tonk Hero. He started to cough, and choke, and give a giant “No” like some punk ass Dark Lord of the Sith. I used his distraction to run to the racquetball building and start gathering up weapons.

A painful howl of rage from a good distance outside prompted me to stick my head back out the door and see where my enemy was at. Honky Tonk was kneeling over the destroyed gravesite in anguish. I yelled, “Elvis has left the building!” Didn’t cause him to fly after me. Instead, he slumped, then seemed to notice something and start digging into the dirt.

Alas, poor Honky Tonk’s sanity. I knew it well. He was a superhero who dressed as Elvis and flew around bashing people over the head with a guitar. Everyone had an idea about his sanity. Perhaps, like many people, he was right on the precipice due to his worship of a good singer. All he needed was a little push. He even began to laugh at the situation, which some people take as a sign of madness when I do it, but I like to think of it as good sportsmanship. After all, thanks to me, Elvis’s body was destroyed, but at least now all the conspiracy theorists get to run around saying that there is no body to prove he is dead.

Or so it seemed, until the Honky Tonk Hero pulled up a metallic case of smooth, flowing, otherworldly design. I couldn’t tell what it was made from at that distance, but it was shiny, big enough to hold a coffin, and intact.

Just my luck. Fucking alien Elvis fans. You know what? Egyptian Elvis is gonna get his head blown off now. Too many people have been surviving my fights lately. Now I even failed to destroy Elvis’s dead body? That’s the last straw!

Which will have to be put away right now, because I have a glorious plan to bring to fruition. “Yoohoo, oh Honky! I wonder if I can fit Elvis’s gold record up my ass!”

It takes a special man to come running when you say a thing like that. Honky Tonk Hero didn’t just run. He flew, careening through the doorway with an outstretched guitar so fast that I wouldn’t have known what hit me. However, I had pushed one of the display cases with some black and gold jumpsuit in it in the way. Honky Tonk put on the brakes too late as he crashed into it. He was all tangled in the jumpsuit as well. I dropped one of the silver records I was holding and grabbed hold of a sleeve so I could keep him within easy reach as I bashed him over the head with a gold record. I threw him into another case then and broke open the case to the silver record I set down. I jammed one of my spikey explosives, the one that looks like it has the three cans on it, and through the middle and flung it at him. I proceeded to haul ass out of there before it went off, shattering a hell of a lot of glass in the process. That much glass in just a racquetball court, you ask? Jumpsuits and records? They redid the racquetball court as his trophy room.

I heard a roar from the house. Whatever that was, it sounded like it had a lot of saliva and not enough stuff to spray it on. I ran for the house. Normally I wouldn’t, but my armor was in there. As I entered, I headed for the basement stares but found Moai in the Jungle room, which has kind of a jungle motif and shag carpet on the ceiling. You can take the hillbilly out of the trailer park, but you can’t take the trailer park out of the hillbilly. Moai was going head to head, via headbutts, with a giant, hairy monster. It was tall enough to play in the NBA. Its thickness and musculature were hidden beneath a carpet of light brown and blonde fur, though its claws, eyes, and fanged mouth were easy enough to see. Rather than punch Moai, he grabbed at things nearby to hit my durable minion with. A chair cracked over Moai’s head, but the houseplant just thudded off and rolled over by me. I grabbed it and held it in front of me as I crossed in front of the doorway. I set it down near the top of the stairs and at the halfway point I just raised my legs up and jumped to the bottom. My armor was on the couch in the TV room. I’d modified two of the three old-fashioned things to switch between a view of cameras I’d mounted to keep me informed of when the cavalry arrived. I took a look as I pulled on my power armor.

National Guard helicopters and trucks relieved police and evacuating civilians. The Pompeii’s Revenge was downed on top of a building, a transport helicopter trapped in a burning net pulled close to the wreckage. The building next door was on fire from the Pompeii’s flaming sails. There was no sign of the Captain or his crew, but Gorilla Awesome was carrying people out of the upper floors to the street below. One of the bridges that crossed the Mississippi river that I could see was frozen over. Ice in the middle of summer. Forcelight crashed through walls that left between the supports that prevented travel along the length of the bridge. Meanwhile, Snowblower and Flamethrower were on the roof of the Peabody Hotel, enjoying a fine lunch made from the hotel’s ducks that march to the interior fountain in a ceremony every day. There was even a group of heroes I didn’t know at the time fighting some villains who looked familiar from the bar. I didn’t bring the magic villains in on this, but it figured they’d get caught up in all this too. And that big white and neon jet was floating over things again.

The cavalry had arrived, alright. Memphis heroes, Kingscrow heroes, heroes from out of town, the Tennessee National Guard. With my helmet latched and the breathing seals secured, I was ready to turn the tide. I sent out a signal to my little surprises hidden in the city’s sewers. Oh yes, the cavalry had arrived.

I was stopped as I made my way upstairs by Moai crashing through a wall in the hall. “Come on, Moai, we’ve rocked this joint. Now it’s time to roll.” That was the moment when the big blonde monster thing stepped through the wall between myself and my way out and fallen minion. He caught me in his peripheral vision and turned to look.

“You,” he said, flinging spittle.

“Me,” I responded. Hell if I know what he wants.

“I’m going to put an end to this. I won’t let you be another risk to her life,” he said, closing his mouth finally as he took a step for me and grabbed me. I’ll give him credit for his speed. I need to go that way anyway, though. I wriggled free and grabbed onto his fur, quickly swinging under his armpit and wrapping my arms around his neck in a sleeper hold. His long, dark claws scraped at my gloves and forearms. He got a hold and tried to pull me overhead by one arm. I latched onto his other arm from behind with my legs and tried to pull back on both arms as I fought that furry and furious fellow. It didn’t work. He easily powered through and went to pull me around to his front. I latched on to his hips with my legs.

There I was, parallel to the ground, when I got an idea. I charged my gloves, causing him to let go with a yelp as I singed the fur of the claw grabbing my arm. Then I swung my body down between his legs as I struck at his shins and released the energy. He toppled forward and I came out of it behind him, scrambling out between his legs.

Moai was up and looking to me. “Find an exterior wall and make us a doorway,” I told him. He turned and crashed back the way he came. I followed. So too did that mongrel thing as he got up. Moai made it out via the next hole he made in a wall. I grabbed both sides as I picked my way over the wreckage and baseboard at the bottom of the hole, but was caught from behind in that creature’s meaty mitts. He had me by both biceps in an instant and turned me to face him.

“You’ll make an excellent gift for Boopsie,” he said. I didn’t have a lot of options, but the pet name for Venus reminded me that I did have armor with a handy older feature on board. I set a leg against the ground and activated the jumping muscle enhancers. When I pushed off, it was with enough strength to leap across a football field. I am fairly certain that when my knee connected with his balls, I hit him hard enough that he could taste his own ball sweat. He dropped me and flew back to the interior of the house. I next jumped out of the house as I hit the detonator, sending the entire mess up in a blast that hit me like a hammer and flung myself and Moai a good distance.

Laying there, I looked up at the smoldering ruins of the house Moai and I had just been thrown from and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has left the building.” I dropped my head back to the grass below. After Holdout, I’d like to look for a body, but there was some very chunky goo nearby that used to be a skull. I know it’s not salsa because I looked all over that kitchen and didn’t find it. Elvis may have stolen music from other races, but his food was all cracker.

I figured that was a good time to catch the breath that escaped me when the force of the explosion practiced some CPR. The chest armor had held enough, though. The sirens were approaching and there were guardsmen likely about to fall on my ass, but there’s nothing they can do now that will stick for very long and that was one hell of a tiring start to my day.

I got what I wanted, you know. They’ll think it’s just smoke, at first. Or maybe it’s so hot a day that they’re getting a bit of smog. Maybe even water that’s boiled off the roads if they aren’t sure when it rained last. All across the city, a rather innocuous fog is drifting out of the sewers thanks to my signal.

I get movement from what would be the top of my head if I were standing. White, gold, and pink tights. Venus had me. She had to know that, but she was hesitant. Unsure. Put that together with the rather personal way that behemoth talked and I think I know who was just so caring toward her over the telephone.

Moai rolled to a standing position as my fair Venus raised her hand to her mouth. I raised a hand and waved him off, “Not right now, Moai. She and I have one last fight, and it’s not going to be today. For now, we let our dear Boopsie-” and at that point a tormented growl issued from her. She had been crying. My systems are so out of whack after the explosion I couldn’t hear it and there’s not enough detail in the 360 cameras for the top of my head. I continued, “We let our dear Boopsie bury her dead and make her vows of vengeance. Also, it’s possible that I had an involuntary reflex and I’d like to go change my lower armor.”

Moai rolled closer and I closed my eyes as I winced and tried to sit up. I reached for Moai, got a hold of him, and pulled myself to my feet and my broken leg. I told you those jump muscle enhancers were changed out for a reason. As we limped off into the onset of fog, I checked back behind me. Venus wasn’t pressing the fight right now either. And it turned out I had landed on and crushed a jar of peanut butter, so there was less urgency about changing my armor.

And it’s less a mercy for Venus. The breathing seals all check out on my helmet, but something tells me she’s one of the heroes, villains, guardsmen, and regular civilians who won’t know what’s wrong until it’s too late. As a great man once said, “Have a little whiff of my posy.”

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Bananarama 7

From deep in my underground lair below the offices of Herman Shalhoub, C.P.A., about as deep as the basement is, I sent out a signal. Using improvements of the signal interceptor, I blanketed Memphis in PGTV! Bwahahahahahaha!

I don’t mean I stuck them all with Disney shows or Justin Bieber concerts, though. There’s evil and then there’s unforgivable.

Nope, I cut in to city’s TV time to make a bold proclamation. I was standing there, shirtless, my upper body oiled up, eyes bulging out, and with a gold belt around my waist. “Ooooh yeah, let me tell you something brother. Brother, I know the Geckomaniacs are just itching to see a rematch, brother. Can I get a hell yeah?” The pirates, off camera, gave me a hell yeah. “Oooh yeah, see I don’t think one fight was just enough for us. The people weren’t satisfied. I wasn’t satisfied. I know you weren’t satisfied. And if there’s anything I’m good at, it’s satisfying people. And myself! So this is going to be best of three. You’ve already got one win. Now comes the greatest challenge ever…two wins. And you better know, if you even have the testicular fortitude to come after me, that I’m going to take this championship belt,” I held it up close to the camera, showing off that it was for the 2010 hog wrasslin’ contest at some county fair, “shine it up real nice, turn it side ways, shove it straight up your candy ass, and then out your mouth so I can have it back after I detail it a little bit.”

I dropped the belt and motioned to the crewman behind the camera. “Alright, that’s a cut.” I turned around and pulled at my crotch. “The oil must be reacting to the armor.” Then I reached down the back of my pants and gave a good scratch in the crack. I even started shaking one of my legs, like a dog.

“Hey, is that thing still on?” I asked, as I turned around.

“No, it isn’t,” came the reply from the cameraman.

“It is?”

“It isn’t. We turned it off when you waved. Good thing, too, all that stuff you just did would have been embarrassing.”

See, that’s why I hate having seamen at my base.

Another of Flamebeard’s crew chimed in, “The whole thing was pretty embarrassing, actually. I thought you killed people for a living? You came across like an idiot.”

See the kind of morons I have to put up with when I don’t work alone?

Nothing really happened that first night. No fights broke out, though we came close to it. I had the guys stay inside my somewhat cramped little hole in the ground and tossed a couple of bear traps out in the hallway leading to it. I also unscrewed the lightbulb. Those are some high tech deathtraps right there. Mhm, that’s quality.

The next day, we were all just sitting around, me playing cards with the crew, Flamethrower cooking smores, Flamebeard sleeping off the last of my vodka, and Snowblower watching some Mexican soap opera when we heard it.

“So how do you think they’ll find this place? You think they’ll track the signal or look through financial records or something?” asked Flamethrower.

“Moai there. Went out, did a bunch of loud things to get attention with Moai by my side, dropped a subtle hint about his presence on a phone call to her, and I also dumped hot dogs on that woman not that far from here. Eventually, you can narrow down a place where you see a man act like that with a Moai sometimes seen moving around on its own.”

“Huh, sounds- what the fuck?”

We were cut off by a clank and a howl of pain from the corridor to the stares.

“Who is it?” I called out to the door.

“It’s Steve! Steve the pirate! Fuck, I went out drinking and you put down a bear trap?!”

Mistakes happen.

I pointed to the cameraman and the guy who insulted my excellent promo work. “You two, go out and get him.”

Flamebeard had woken and pulled himself to his feet. He held his sword out, the flat of the blade against my chest, “No one gives orders to my crew but me. I hear you try it again, and we’ll keelhaul you once our deal is done.”

“Geez. Fine, you take the formalities, Cap’N Crunch.” I bowed sarcastically.

He pointed at the same guys I ordered. “You two, go out and get him.” This time, they hopped right to it, opening up the door and heading out into the darkness beyond. They were barely out there before I heard two metal clanking sounds and two more screams.

I looked to Flamebeard, eyes were close to matching the flickering of his beard, “Hey, I have a twisted sense of humor. What was your excuse for sending them out there with the traps?”

He growled, not having known about the traps, but just then, we heard fighting from the hallway. I reached out and closed the door, just in case. Then I put the little chain on the door. Nobody’s invading my secret base without a good, hard shove, I’ll tell you that much.

I barely got it on there when the door was knocked in. A note here, it doesn’t really happen like in the movies or comics. The door doesn’t swing open really fast with splinter flying or anything like that. The door frame cracked and the thing came loose. THEN it swung hard, slamming against the wall, smacking into a crewman who had run to the door to try and brace it. I rushed the door before our intruder could get a clear view and was rewarded with Venus kicking me in the balls. Wait a minute, that’s a terrible reward. Someone ought to say something to her about that!

The initial pain wasn’t so bad, but by the time she leapt on my and forced me to the ground with her knees against my shoulders, the reverberations were really going to town on my boys.

As Venus found out when Magic Moai, the crew, Flamebeard, Snowblower, and Flamethrower surrounded her, my other boys were prepared to go to town on her.

After that point, she was a model prisoner. We had her tied up. And handcuffed. Zip-tied. Gagged. Blindfolded. Fingers duct-taped together. Sound-canceling headphones were put on her head. It almost got me a little hot. If only we’d had some latex to go with it.

“What next?” asked Snowblower.

Flamethrower stopped scratching with a plastic straw down his arm cast long enough to add, “Yeah, you’re going to kill her, right?”

“Of course I am, but I’m going to do this the old fashioned way. We need a deathtrap.”

The big crewman with the harpoon just looked around, “Uh, I don’t see anything for a death trap. No sharks, no mutated sea bass, no mechanical octopus.”

“Well I didn’t originally plan for this, I just didn’t think this was going to go over so well,” I told them. Then I spotted more lights at the end of the corridor. Then a can of tear gas came flying through the doorway and began to expel its contents.

“Gentlemen,” I said as I grabbed my coffee blaster and fired hot latte at the advancing SWAT team, “I have no problem massacring cops, but at this time I really feel a proper deathtrap is more important than the potential of her going loose because we’re all busy brawling with the popo. Now is the time we show our true colors, gentlemen!” I threw Venus over my shoulder and headed for the back of the basement to the escape hatch built into a wall-hanging flatscreen TV. Functions perfectly well, but press a latch and it swings out. Ta da! Instant hole to freedom.

At first, some guys wanted to go after their buddies. It was Flamebeard who shut them up, “We can lose three people or we can risk losing the rest of us. We’ll do this the Gecko’s way this time.”

So all the seamen packed into my freedom hole and we liberated ourselves from the Man.

I gave them orders to find me a few useful items, then stay out of sight and meet me when the heat was off. After a day of hiding out in various places that no one would find us at, like the stadium during a Tennessee Titans game, we all made our way to a YMCA. A Y-M-C-A-a!

“So what is all this for, again?” said harpoon guy, who was dragging along a shopvac. Someone else had spaghetti and meatballs. Another guy was blowing up whoopee cushions.

“It serves a very important purpose. Hey, I need someone to dive into the pool here and loosen up the lightbulb. It needs to barely flicker on every few minutes. Someone want to do that?”

Snowblower raised his hand, then began to strip down to his underwear. He was a tighty whitey guy.

“Ok, good. Now, where’s that motor I wanted?” I looked around. A crewman helping to carry a box took a hand off it to wave. “Alright, set that down, fix it into place real well, and I’ve got the rope here. Harpoon fellow, think you can get this rope over those rafters?” I pointed to the metal rafters above the pool. He nodded.

Flamebeard came marching in then with a bulk case of ketchup, growling, “What is the meaning of this?”

“It’s a pronoun or adjective to indicate someone or something close at hand, or an adverb implying an extra degree or extent of something. But that’s not important right now. We have to dump that ketchup in the pool.”

“What is this ridiculous thing you’re having us do!” he roared, causing everyone but Snowblower to turn and look at us.

“Fine, fine,” I put an arm around Flamebeard’s shoulder. He was not amused by this. “I didn’t put any work whatsoever into a deathtrap. Last minute addition to the plan. I had that stuff I got from Max, I had the way they’d find us figured out, all that, but no deathtrap. So here’s what we’re gonna do. The pool is going to be dark. The lights in the room will be off. Venus will be suspended and slowly lowered toward the water, still bound and gagged, but no longer blindfolded or deaf. She’s upside down. She can’t get a clear view. All of a sudden, a single pool light flickers. Red ooze is in the water. Mysterous dark tentacles and odd masses and round things are barely seen. She craps her pants and as we all know, shit flows downhill, obscuring her vision even more. And she’s being lowered into that…and she drowns, probably thinking some genetically engineered alien squid thing is about to eat her. The panic will make it all go quicker.”

Flamebeard shook his head. “I can’t believe it. It’s not half bad.” He nodded to his guys and told them, “Back to work, do what he wants.”

I turned with him to watch as harpoon guy got the rope over the rafters and people began to tie up Venus. Snowblower climbed out of the darkened pool, distractingly wet in those tight white underwear. The shopvac with its hose was dumped in the water and sank. Someone began emptying ketchup bottles into the water. The spaghetti and meatballs were tossed in. For good measure, Flamethrower even began unwrapping Snickers bars and throwing them in.

Flamebeard stepped well away to the side as I squeed. “Oooh, this is great. You think she’ll like the deathtrap?”

Flamebeard patted me on the shoulder, “It’s the thought that counts, and you put a lot more into this than you otherwise seem capable of.”

I turned to him, “Well, I decided I needed to do something very special for her. You think I should propose something?”

He raised an eyebrow, “Like ‘We’re not so different, you and I?’ or that she join the dark side? You’ve only been feuding less than a month. Give it some time. You two need to feel each other out more as arch nemeses before you ask something like that. Just relax.”

“I kind of wish I could be here to see her face when she finds out there’s no monster, but she’s going to be upside down and underwater when that happens anyway.”

“You can still keep her in your thoughts while we’re all ransacking the city. Oh, shush,” he said as the lights went off and they took her blindfold and headphones off.

I walked right up to her, took a bow with a flourish, and told her, “1-1, princess. Try and make it to our third fight, if you can.” I turned and walked away, joined by Moai hopping after me, Venus’s muffled response somewhat harder to hear as the crew began to hoist her into the air over the pool.

The only way I’d have looked cooler was if I was in slow motion and something exploded behind me.

 

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Bananarama 6

A couple of days ago, I went on a small crime spree. Just me and Moai. The other villains don’t need anymore exposure right now. I do. See, I’m about to leave this town, and I’m going to leave it in pieces. I can see how you might think I’ve settled here. That maybe Memphis is my place. That Memphis ought to like me.

After all, I’ve helped put Memphis on the map. My visits are part of the reason it’s known so much for murders. I’ve supplied more alcohol to the homeless in this city than teens arranging to get beer. Let’s face it, I’m a lot more fun than those villains who just want to wipe everyone out or trash everything because that’s their version of making a name for themselves.

That doesn’t seem to be the case. Venus has been turning her fights into a big PR push. She’s determined to push this idea of cleaning up the city, as if people really know what that means. Just the supercrime? The violent crime? Corruption? Muggings, vandalism, theft, how about people cheating on their taxes and speeding a little? They just don’t think these things through, I tell you. It’s a slippery slope that I don’t think they’re prepared for.

Just like they didn’t think it through when they put up posters of my armor and my trenchcoat. Or when they started up with the commercials about seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and the darkness passing. You’d think I was fucking Sauron the way they talk. Interpret that last sentence however you prefer. Well, if they really want to make me out to be the devil, I shall oblige them.

It’s about time I paid a visit to a Memphis landmark. I left the other guys back at the base. It’s hard to keep a bunch of guys like that from blowing up a location if they’re all there, but I threw them some porn DVDs, a copy of one of those rock n’ roll band games, and a couple kegs. They’ll be fine. Just like babysitting kids.

They all deserve some time off, the way I had them running around the sewers. It felt very strange to be able to stand back and not have to get my hands dirty. It was the shit. I mean, the shit is what would have gotten my hands dirty. It was the motivation, not the feeling. I will stick my hand in shit if it means surviving, or beating up someone I don’t like, or if it seems like a good idea at the time. This fit none of those fluid categories.

I took the car this time, with the trunk open so Moai had a place to sit. I’d be worried Moai was feeling left out, but my understanding is that his particular type of statue is used to loneliness.

First stop was to pick up a very small trailer that stank very badly. That’s a really good way to keep people away from something you want to hide, by the way. It can backfire, though. Like that story about that aristocratic woman who slept next to a dead guy, or something. This, however, was not something that would appear all that dangerous to anyone on its own. Just my new chickens.

I popped a pill bottle and dumped them in. Don’t worry, nothing all that harmful. Just some antidepressants I took from someone. You see, antidepressants sometimes cause suicide. Such an odd thing that I knew I had to go see it for myself the other night.

As overused as they are I just busted down a random guy’s door and walked in with something I made from a blender, only on overdrive and with a flamethrower coming out of the middle. I chased him with it, yelling, trying to ask him if he was on antidepressants. He must have been on them right then, because he didn’t do anything but run and shoot at me and toss his wife in my way before he jumped out a window. That’s right, he jumped. He got a running start, hooked his leg on a loveseat for style points, and went right out to the pavement below. Tried to tell his wife she was better off without a guy who would throw her at me, but unfortunately she failed to respond to my charms. Too soon for her, the Hamlet wannabe. I marched my poor, poor blue balls into the bathroom to check and beheld the antidepressants the poor, suicidal bastard took.

That misfortunate son of a bitch. According to his prescription bottle, his name was Molly.

Now you know what makes a chicken feel like blowing itself up in the name of Admiral Allahu Akbar of the Rebel Alliance.

Our target was Gus’s Fried Chicken, a famous restaurant around here. Actors, former presidents, people with heart disease, all of them have tasted the amazing chicken here. Except me, of course. I got the door for Moai as he pushed the cage in. Then I gave a very theatrical bow and announced, “Ladies and gentlemen, I have in this box the ugliest creatures in the world and I say that because these chickens are revolting!” I threw open the box.

Real live chickens ran out. You expected exploding chickens? That’s the problem, you expected, and so would they. And if you have to ask who “They” are, then you’re not paranoid enough to be talking about such secrets with me!

These hen-pecked fowls of the world flooded out of the cage they’d been so tightly packed into. Fueled by Molly’s medication, they hopped onto tables and began to peck the shit out of the customers of Gus’s Fried Chicken. The clucked and pecked and latched onto and flapped wings at people. Food was flying, chairs were knocked over, a man in a business suit tried to fight off his assailant with his own toupee, and I watched from the doorway, egging the chickens on, telling them, “Fly free, my feathered minions! Take vengeance for your slaughtered family! Remember, my brethren, today is a good day to fry!”

It was awesome. I don’t know why I waited so long to try that restaurant.

I blocked one woman who attempted to flee past me. “Hey there, you’re cute, want to go for some coffee?”

Her answer consisted of some panicked grunting. She actually tried to squeeze out between me and the cinderblock wall. I tell you, I have the worst luck with women. They actually try to run away when I ask them out. I don’t know if it’s my breath, or if I’m just not rich enough, or maybe I need to start stuffing the codpiece of my armor. Hard to believe I’d even need to. She has to know I have enough cock to fill a restaurant.

As the old PSA campaign tells us, “Just say ‘No’.” I said no to her refusing me and threw her over my shoulder. Predictably, she hit and kicked at me. You know, this is how a broken home starts. Reminded me of what this world calls the good old days, when men beat women over the head, leaving them brain damaged and unable to consent or refuse while they dragged them back to the cave for child-rearing. Then everything got all PC and people started considering that perhaps women were of the same species as men and deserved basic human rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Bizarre, isn’t it?

It’d be just like if a guy wanted the right to say “No” when a bigger, meaner drunk guy came up, beat them over the head, tore their skimpy, seductive pants off, and just cornholed the fuck out of them with the news later saying the smaller guy deserved it and was a total manwhore. And really, we can’t have people making the ultimate determination of who possibly impregnates them, whether said impregnation is in the ass or the bajingo.

I couldn’t just toss her in the trunk with that being Moai’s seat, so I had to tie her up in the passenger seat’s seatbelt. I don’t really drink coffee, though. Crack is cheaper. But I had a tied up woman in the car with me and most people could see she didn’t want to go anywhere with me, so that restricted my choice of dates to anywhere college fraternity guys would go.

Naturally enough, that led me to a nearby Starbucks. Starbucks, home of the $13 cup of caffeine. Equivalent amounts available in better tasting form for cheaper at your nearest soda machine, with less support for South American drug kingpins just looking to important their product. Why does no one think of Pablo the Machete and all the hungry murderers he has to feed?

For whats-her-name’s own good, I had to leave her tied up in the car. Seriously, I didn’t get her name. I think she had curly black or dark brown hair, and she was Caucasian, but I honestly couldn’t tell you what she looked like. Dishonestly, I could say I was going to have coffee with Angelina Jolie.

I projected myself in civilian clothes as I walked in purposefully to find the line was incredibly long. Damn. It was going to take forever. Then I remembered I’m a bad motherfucker. I cut right to the front. Well, the people behind me didn’t take too kindly to that. This big guy in a Polo shirt put his hand on my shoulder and asked me in his deep voice to get to the back of the line. I turned around and grabbed him in the sensitive parts. You know what I did then? I SQUEEZED! Suddenly, the Barry White look- and soundalike’s screams were threatening to break glass.

Vocal correction made, I threw him onto a table. I had no idea who the next person in line was. Suit, tie, cellphone in head, suitcase. I uppercutted him under the chin. He was lifted up briefly, toothchips flying, then went limp and dropped to the ground. Third guy, dark skinned, balding, overweight fellow in a striped orange and green shirt. I honked his nose. “Honk honk!”

That was when Moai threw itself through the window and smashed a table where a man with shaggy blonde hair and untrimmed brown eyebrows had been typing something on his laptop.

At this point, people are getting the idea that they should leave. I can’t really blame them. I will anyway. It was all your fault, random people on laptops! Especially that asshole with the ponytail. That 13 year old girl scout had no business being in a Starbucks and the cookies she was selling…were actually pretty good. I liked the peanut butter ones the best.

I hopped the counter that was abandoned by fleeing baristas. The manager approached with a damp crotch, hands open, trying to say something about not hurting anyone.

“Trust me,” I told him, “I’m just here to really get these people moving fast.’

I couldn’t give it very long, with cops on their way, so I let my date loose using the easy seatbelt ejector. I installed it in case I ever had someone riding along with me that I wanted to see bash their face on the dashboard.

She stumbled through the door, confused, not paying attention to me. She was looking down, trying to get the knotted mess of a strap off her leg. “Help, I was kidnapped by a crazy person!” she cried out, then looked up to see Moai and I, both of us in aprons, working on a jumbled mass of coffeemakers and espresso machines.

I reached back to Moai, “I need a wrench.” He placed something with the consistency of a coffee stirrer in my hand and started using the jury-rigged tool to turn a nut. “Hey there beautiful. Care for a taste of my cappuccino?” I tweaked my work-in-progress, causing it to spray foam onto the woman, who looked down at her outfit. “Sorry, baby, I swear it never goes off that quick.”

She screamed and ran for it.

Like I said, terrible luck with women.

Ah well. I remote guided the car around to the next street behind the shop where Moai and I would make our escape. I didn’t want to risk running into Venus before it was the proper time. Besides, I had all I needed from this little outing, as disappointing as it was for my love life.

Yep, all I needed. The coffee blaster was just a bonus.

This is the part where you imagine me grinning in the shadows and folding my fingers while cryptically saying, “Yes, all part of the plan.”

 

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Bananarama 5

As much as I hate to say it, there are some things even I can’t do alone. The plan I am planning, with all its plannedness, is one such plan. Even Moai, with his many skills and talents, is unsuited for the tasks ahead of me.

I guess I’m getting ahead of myself some. You probably have questions about how things went with Venus versus Snowblower, Flamethrower, Captain Flamebeard, and crew. As expected, Snowblower and Flamethrower didn’t put up too much resistance. Flamethrower especially, what with the broken arm and all. I couldn’t see all of it, but then all I had to go on was the news coverage of that fight. Details tended to get left out of the news version of events. I was reviewing it again to see how I would twist a knife in Venus, metaphorically.

At least Flamethrower could walk out of there, but they were extra cautious. They had two guys with fire extinguishers nearby at all times with him. They couldn’t put the power neutralizer cuffs on. They work in a pair, you see, or at least they tend to. Really depends what model you’re working with.

They’re technology, see, and a big mix and match. They’re difficult to mass produce because of the different designs and different methods they try. Most frequently, they pair them up so they can run a current through the person’s body. It’s distracting, numbs the hands, short circuits some powers, and the cuffs can be fitted with a cable. If someone tries to wander too far, the cable provides easy tracking, a way to haul them back or keep them from escaping, and an electrical line to provide a much stronger shock.

Superhumans come in all shapes, sizes, and powersets, though, so there are lots of variations. Some better suited for reptiles or furry superhumans. Others drug the subjects. Some are made of special materials to resist superstrength. Superstrength being what it is, those tend to come with a lot of chemicals to keep the person in question conked out.

Like most law enforcement tools these days, they are proudly computerized, can synch up with computers and satellites, and are overused. Take me for instance. You hear that, Mary Elizabeth Winstead? Take me, take me!

Naw, seriously, they aren’t all that clued in about my abilities. They’ve figured out I have some form of regeneration, but don’t know how it functions. Or they didn’t, at least. If they’re sharing information, then the arm I lost and my gear back in Kingscrow is going to enlighten them. They know I come up with unusual gadgets, but they aren’t sure if there’s any sort of superior intelligence power with me or if I’m a ditzy genius. They’ve seen the eyes. Don’t know if they know it means I’m cybernetically enhanced. Either way, they don’t know enough about me and they slip cuffs on me anyway. That’s why they come off so easily.

There’s no magic way to just neutralize all superpowers, or at least I hope there isn’t. If everyone I fought was as weak as a baseline human, no offense to you readers, then the only threat to me would be if one pulled out some boredom and tried to kill me with it. I know, big words from a guy who got his ass handed to his torn off arm by an unpowered woman just a little while back, but she’s the exception. Even an exceptional human is still only human. That showed when Venus left the house on North McClean. She looked a bit harried. Parts of her costume were torn and scorched. It looked like she had frost along her right arm. I’d count her hair looking like a mess in with that, but she looked better with it like that.

They didn’t have cuffs on Snowblower when he was carried out because he was on a stretcher and they were more focused on checking him over.

Not that it seemed to matter. The van the supers were transported in was found burning down a side street along the route back to the lockup. All the bodies were accounted for, extra crispy and beat up as they were. I even left them a message for whoever found it, all spelled out in a gasoline-styrofoam mix.

It was a little rushed, but it reads, “Set a fire for a man, keep him warm for a night. Set a man on fire, keep him warm for the rest of his life.” See, I couldn’t do that quickly without some help.

So then the hunt was on for the location they traced from the phone call. This time, Memphis PD were there from the start of the confrontation, but held far back to let Venus go in first. I had it recorded so I could see how it all went down. A deficient record to study, but better than nothing. Venus was making her way through the yard of this former auto shop when she was spotted by a drunken member of Flamebeard’s crew. She had cutlasses and boarding axes to dodge this time. I think somebody had a blunderbuss, and there was even a big husky fellow with a harpoon. Just when she thought she had finished, the walls of the store blew open and Flamebeard’s ship, the Pompeii’s Revenge, began to ascend into the air with sails of fire.

The crew tried to make it back aboard, but the police moved in then. The only person who made it onto that ship was Venus, who had an epic one-on-one confrontation with Flamebeard, who has a neat trick where he imbues objects with flames. In this case, the object was his sword. Not what I would have chosen, as it cauterized the cut on her leg, the slash on her arm, and even the shallow wound along her belly. Didn’t stop her from tying his wrists with a rope and hanging him off the side of the ship, in full view of the cops and their helicopters and their guns.

A funny thing happened when they were being taken away, too. That van was on an overpass when the street blew and tilted downward. The police van couldn’t arrest, pun intended, its motion in time and drove right down to the freeway below. It was then crushed as a section further along the overpass was caught in an explosion, dropping a lot of road on the van.

All part of the plan.

As I finished my perusal of Venus’s well-toned ass kicking its villainous brethren and my own reminiscences of what I did afterwards, I grabbed my phone and gave my old pal Mix N’ Max a call.

“Wrapper’s Delight Plastic Wrap Shop, how may I help you?” came the answer.

“Yo, what up wrappers, this is your boy Vanilla Geck in the hizzie fo shizzie!”

A cuss was cut short by the sound of a face entering a palm. I waited patiently. She didn’t even come back to the conversation. Instead, Max took over on that end, “Won any good fights lately, Gecko?”

“I wouldn’t call them good fights. Bad fights, maybe, in the name of badness! By the way, make sure Sam knows she’s a horrible secretary and she needs to be moved down to janitorial duty.”

“Gecko, if you and Sam really want to fight then we’ll all get together one day, give you two a pair of purses, and let you fight it out over the last pair of heels at Sachs.”

“Wow, I may be over here, but that doesn’t mean Sam can’t kick your ass for that one.”

“She knows it’s better to let me recover. Broke my collar fighting Paveman. Things are a little wild here, but a little Mouth-B-Gone freaked him out enough to for me to escape.”

“Well, Max, I need something a little more mundane than your potent potions.”

I named what I wanted, he named a price, I named a lower price, he named my ass “Cheap” and things went from there. That’ll be my little secret for now. Don’t worry, you’ll get a different secret revealed soon enough.

I took a walk then. I was hungry and the base was getting a bit crowded, what with Flamebeard, Flamebeard’s crew, Flamethrower, and Snowblower all hiding out there and playing nice after I’d broke them out and faked their deaths. I’d taken care of the other players in this drama and I’d arranged for more props. Not a whole lot left to influence in this upcoming comedy.

I made my way up to the street, then pulled out an earpiece and a smartphone. Unfortunately, can’t do this trick with a disposable, but by virtue of disposing of a smartphone, it can become the smartest phone you’ve ever disposed of. I was walking along the sidewalk as I did all this. There was a hot dog vendor nearby and there’s nothing like a good wiener in your mouth.

I got a hold of Venus’s phone easily enough. You pick up a few tricks about spying on private phone calls here or there. I HAVE worked for the government before, after all.

“…just hate hearing you’re out there getting hurt,” came a male voice. Looks like I picked up while she was in the middle of a call.

“Baby, it’s fine. I’ve patched myself up from a lot worse. The only one of them that I’m worried about isn’t even trying to jump out and punch me in the face anymore,” said Venus.

“You just have to wonder what a loud guy like that is doing being so quiet. So does the academy. The stuff they’re making you say is going to provoke him out.”

I remember that. Looked shoehorned in when reporters caught up to Venus afterwards. Out of breath, she was still pumping out some talking point about how her victories were further proof that “Memphis doesn’t have to sleep afraid as long as people are willing to stand up to bullies like this, who abuse people like they do because they think they have more power. We are one people, united, all of us, and no one can truly harm us as long as we hold to our ideals and principles.”

Such powerful, meaningful words. I think I’ll have them printed on my toilet paper.

“If anything happens, they’ll have backup for me. It’s good publicity. People give people like him places to hide. I just don’t like giving someone the idea to be a hero during a robbery.”

“Yeah, leave the heroics to my pretty Boopsie.”

“Hush,” she said, a light-hearted whine.

“Boopsie the magnificent. Boopsie the great and powerful. Whatcha gonna do when Boopsiemania runs wild on you?”

Someone knocked at the door and said something that didn’t quite make it to the phone.

“I gotta go, babe,” said Venus.

I gave her a couple of minutes then. Say her goodbye, get herself ready, get her mind on wherever she’s going at the time. Also I had made it to the street vendor and was buying a tasty piece of meat from the guy. Then I crossed the street to Overton Park and called Venus up to make her day just a little bit better.

This time she answered me the first time, “Hello?”

“Hey there Boopsikins. Remember me?”

“Fuck!”

“Yes, I go by many names, but you may call me Psycho Gecko.”

“What do you want?”

“I just wanted to call and taunt you a little bit. Let you know that I haven’t forgotten about you.”

“Anymore wild goose chases to lead me on?”

Great, some old lady and her froo froo dog was walking by. Guess I’ll have to watch my language. I am a master wordsmith, you know. I have my way with words.

“Nope, not from here on out. If I lead you anywhere, it’ll be down a dark alley where I will straight up murder your fine ass!”

The old lady stopped and, I swear, she and her dog both went wide-eyed as I said that. Then she muttered, “Sodomite!” and began to walk her froo froo dog away at a little faster pace. I stuck out my tongue after her.

“You were there for the fight, Psycho. You can’t hurt me. I’m going to make sure you can’t hurt anyone anymore.”

Time to drop a hint, “Hey, do I come to your town and try to keep you out of the BDSM clubs? Nope. Though I do appreciate you helping me kill the other guys. And the cops with them. You know, you’re not so bad at hurting innocent people yourself. Maybe we can put all this behind us and I can trade up from my current sidekick? He’s a little stiff and formal, except on Hawaiian shirt day.”

She hung up. Argh! My poor damaged phone conversation feelings. How ever shall they recover from such a vicious hanging up?

I know how! I ran across the street, grabbed the hot dog cart from the guy manning it, and ran along the sidewalk with it until I caught up to the snooty old lady with the froo froo dog. I had to dodge a car and stopped another with a well-timed squirt of mustard, but I made it across. Then I began pelting the old woman with handful after handful of hot dogs. She cried out, sinking to the ground. “Oh the humanity! Think of the children!” that kind of thing.

I just kept hitting her with those crappy little meat byproducts and yelled at her, “Come on, you old bitch, who doesn’t like to be buried under wieners! It’s raining meat! Hallelujah, it’s raining meat! Amen!”

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Bananarama 2

In a way, it’s a good thing there was so much time between the events I’m about to recount and now. My typing has been a bit slower, along with anything else I do that requires both hands. How am I feeling? I’m feeling just peachy keen and why don’t you eat a snowcone off my ass?

I was back at the bar again, suit on, awaiting word of Venus’s arrival. I wasn’t bringing Moai with me this time, because he’s guarding the hideout. I don’t want another situation where I would come back from a fight to find someone waiting to shoot me or have 1,000 of his closest uniformed friends do that job for him. And I worked hard to get that equipment back that I use.

The TVs were on, but supposedly there was a runner who would tell us when they were all set up. After all, the big announcement was going down almost right outside, but she wasn’t going to just hang around out there all day. She always made a damn announcement like that. If I showed early, who knew what amazing things might have transpired? Someone gets lucky, someone recognizes me, whatever, and Venus knows exactly who she’s dealing with and this turns into a boring game of cat and mouse.

I know, cat and mouse is supposed to be exciting, but it’s a giant cat playing with a mouse. Of course you know who is going to win, just as soon as the cat gets bored. You want some real fun, you give the mice guns and send them after each other. The deadliest prey. At least until the cat learns kung fu and goes in after them.

So I waited there until word came that she was actually present. The guys doing the scouting were probably too busy shaking in their tights over her. Not like my job here is a big deal. Walk up behind her, snap her neck, bada bing bada boom. I know, not very impressive next to ramming a fist sheathed in energy up her ass, but it would send a message all its own: No matter how trained and skilled, she was still only human. You know, get some condescension in there, probably lace it with a little misogyny.

I’m down with the womenfolk, but murdering a hero isn’t about being down with the womenfolk. It’s about a demoralizing final victory over a heroine who has made it a point to go around and hand indecent members of society demoralizing losses. It’s all about throwing enough crap that it sticks and draws some heat. Makes me look better, makes her look worse, makes people feel bad. It’s possible superhumans have their own smart marks here, now that I think over the implications of that line of thinking in a world with the internet.

Two supervillains walk into a bar. Don’t stop me even if you’ve heard this one. They walk over, one in a costume with flames on and his buddy in a costume with snowflakes. “She’s here,” the fire-based villain said, and poked me in the chest with one finger. “Don’t screw this up. You just get out there and lose and get her out of town or I’ll have to come out there and fix you myself.”

“You don’t really understand why they picked me, do you?” I asked, looking over at the barkeep. She suddenly had to go refill her stock out of the back. I love it when that kind of convenient timing happens, though it’s not like her presence would stop me.

“You’re a sacrificial lamb who runs around blowing up TVs and acting like some idiot’s version of a crazy guy. You go out there and you lose to her and she leaves. Done and done.” He punctuated the last three words with a poke at my chest. Now obviously I didn’t feel it. I’ve taken a lot of shots to this armor before. Chances are this guy’s finger isn’t going to make my chest feel sore when I lay down in a few hours. And it isn’t like I cultivate a lot of respect for me. After all, if they respect me then they may learn to estimate me correctly.

As someone who is underestimated and who didn’t like this guy poking me in the chest with his finger, I felt it was only right to make him look like a total moron. I grabbed his finger and twisted it sharply to one side. Snap! Then I took his hand with my other hand and twisted it sharply in the other direction. Snap! His hand burst into flame then, but I left all my fucks at the hideout and so had none to give. So I twisted his forearm in the same direction as the finger. Snap! Then I grabbed his upper arm and launched myself out of my seat, kicking the chair back in the process. I didn’t let him go even after that snap. Instead, as his buddy tried to get around him, fog drifting from his hands, I grabbed the fire guy’s wrist and slapped ice guy across the face with it. I swapped fire guy’s fist into my other hand and punched ice guy with my knuckle just above the eye, drawing blood that began to obscure his vision but mostly just making it harder for him to keep his eye open, then I took his hand and commenced to knocking each of them in the face with the other’s hand while saying, “Why you hitting yourselves? Why you hitting yourselves? Why you hitting yourselves? Why you hitting yourselves?”

Yeah I beat their asses and I’m happy I did it. I’d do it again for a dollar!

A poofing noise and a smokey hand laid on my shoulder broke up the party. “Don’t bother with them. You have someone more high profile to play with, don’t you?” said the bartender, a gentle reminder. She, or it, is pretty good about violence in the bar so long as it is self-inflicted due to stupidity. That, or maybe she likes my particular brand of violence. Still, I found myself facing out from the door behind the Voodoo store with traces of smoke lingering in the air.

“Well, Baron,” I told the chalk drawing of a man in a tophat that controlled the entrance to the bar, “wish me dark magical forces beyond the reckoning of mortal man, and luck.”

Which reminds me, next time I’m only bringing him something crappy. Something so nasty to drink that it is an insult to the concept of alcohol. Bud Light maybe.

I disguised myself as some small random crowd of people. If anyone was a huge fan of store catalogs, they may have been able to pick me out, but since those people are so boringly normal in appearance, I blended in better than if I went with a big tattooed guy with a purple Mohawk. I approached the amphitheater where everyone was getting set up and could see Venus on stage in her white, gold, and pink tights.

You know, most people see the tights and they think it’s kind of weird. I mean, where else do you see such tight clothing? Gymnasts, wrestlers, acrobats, people who need to run fast. It’s either that or skimpier clothing. Short shorts with tiny or no shirts. Like what you see on boxers, wrestlers, bicyclers, and people who need to run fast. Notice a pattern? People will make fun of superhumans all day long for wearing clothing that is pretty good for the actions they undertake.

That said, some of the designs are the dumbest things you’ll ever see at face value. If you’re in the know, however, it was actually pretty smart.

Venus’s could have been better, but a big part of her thing was flash. Not like that. Underlying pink spandex that covered her body up to her neck. There was flexible padding hidden in the white and gold designs along her pants and in the tube-top looking part around the boobal region. You know, if the body was a river, it would have been located somewhere around the breastuary, though in her case the geographical formations weren’t big enough to drastically change the flow. Nothing wrong with that at all.

The mask over her face was an interesting one. Her light brown hair was loose over the top of it and it showed a small patch of skin around each eye and enough skin around the mouth to let her smile shine out. Still, it wrapped around the rest of her head, hid her nose, and rose up above her face in a kind of pink and white crown motif. It sounds like a poor way to hide your face, but it drew enough away from the face and stood out in enough places that it was much more effective than the tighter ones.

She was just starting a very energetic speech. Basic info about who she was, who she represented, and that she was here to make sure the people of Memphis knew they didn’t have to fear anyone. Sing along with me here folks. Seasons don’t fear the reaper. Nor do the sun and the wind and the rain. We can be like they are. Come on baby. Don’t fear the reaper. Baby I’m your maaaaaaaan.

Best to get that out of my system now, because I didn’t then. Instead I worked my way through the crowd, slipping into new illusionary disguises as I went. I could have been invisible, but in a crowd of people, the invisible man is far more noticeable. I think that’s part of the reason this one invisible super is dead. Can’t remember if he was hero or villain, I just remember he died in a freak nude woman stampede. That makes him a hero to me. I gave him a 21 shot salute too. Vodka, naturally, since it’s see-through.

She was remarkably cheery, the smug motherfucker, but a lot of what she said was pretty much canned and then unsealed at every stop with a few new toppings added to it. I made my way to the back of the stage. There was police presence there, but I slipped out of a disguise and into invisibility before slipping between them. I charged my gloves as I stepped onstage while she was still at the podium, but this guy in a suit got in my way. Mayor’s aid or something. Must not have been a very good aid because all he did was get in my way as he stood behind Venus while she introduced him. Then they got into some patter, ha ha, yak it up, and I got impatient. The glow from the energy sheaths has been known to escape the illusion in some of my suits of armor.

So finally I got so fed up, I slammed my right fist into the side of his head, the energy unleashed with the kinetic energy of the blow to reduce his head into a mess of blood, globs of fatty brain, and chunks of bone that sprayed over some very formal looking people of a council or committee or organized crowd of people with blood and brain on them.

“Salsa, stage right!” I exclaimed, as the exclamation point would indicate loudly and exclamatorily.

In no time flat, Venus had the podium up and spun around. The side that hit me shattered as it did so, but I stumbled back. I was off balance and before I could react, she followed it up with a jumping spinning kick that, on playback, I have to admit is real fucking impressive. I fell on my ass far to the side on the stage.

“Exit, stage left!” she answered my previous statement. Then she pulled out this rod that had been hanging on the back of her belt and pushed a button. With a uncomfortable crackle, my armor went dead.

This fight will be continued next update after a few words from out sponsors: the ass-sucking son of a motherfucker called the Multiverse Divide.

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