Tag Archives: General Lulios

Reckoning 8

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My target: General Lulios, the prime asshole. The guy who started me on this path in life, as I’ve done nothing but blather about for the past month. That confrontation in Nunuvat was the last time Medusa and I spoke in all this and I got more detail about the situation when she dropped him off. I assume he’ll have protection.

I really should speak to Medusa again. No, I shouldn’t. She’s the one who kept going when I said not to. And she’s the one who didn’t seem to understand the importance of justice for what that bastard did to me. I want to speak with her again because she means something to me and because I’m in desperate need of a companion to pour my heart out too. But damn, I should have dated a friend instead of an enemy.

Max is still a friend, we’re just not like that. Even if… nah, still a friend. “I’m thankful you saved me, and I value our friendship,” he told me when I started planning the invasion of an alternate Earth, “But I can’t join you in this.”

I stopped and looked up at him. Sam and Holly flanked him and looked just as certain in the decision as he did. I sighed and got to a stopping point before responding. “Fine. Can’t force you. I hope we can still work together going forward.”

He shrugged. “You could just hang sometime. I’m still your friend, but this is a suicide mission.”

“Don’t know what you mean. It’s me, after all. Not the first time I’ve taken on the world.”

Sam decided to join in, “Technically it’s two worlds who oppose you killing this dude.”

“I can’t let him get away with what he did just because people like him now. It’s not right for folks to dismiss all the bad shit he did.”

Holly surprised me next. “But then you’d have to justify a need to punish yourself for all the bad things you did that weren’t his fault, and it almost comes across like this is an elaborate suicide-by-cop like you used to want.”

Max stepped forward and put a hand on my shoulder to draw my attention back up and toward him. My gaze had drifted down as I pondered Holly’s words, not tried to hide from them and any inconvenient tinge of truth in them. “You don’t have to do this. We can help. You can do more of the therapy you quit or take the medication you stopped.”

I turned back to my work. “Y’all might want to get out of here before I finish this D-Bomb and zip on over there.”

They left, looking all sad at the thought that I wasn’t giving up on this vendetta. The gall, bringing up my mental problems. They should know my brain is ok now. I have a computer in there, a psychic superhero did stuff to it, and then aliens played around with it. My brain is perfectly fine! And so what if I die? They think it’s a matter of suicide. I buried hatchets and ended feuds because my daughter was worth living for. This vengeance is worth dying for. The world would still martyr him, but he would be dead. He belongs to the dead. Every future of everyone he had tortured and murdered in his sick Psychopomp program, every “what if” that could have been, they all cry out for a reckoning.

I am the Psychopomp. I am his final reckoning.

And by my reckoning, they have way too big a shitload of firepower at the portal to the other Earth for my liking. My drone shouldn’t have gotten through in the first place. Maybe they still could. Maybe I’m being overly paranoid. Maybe I’m a lot of things. Maybe I’m suicidal and crazy and alone without a community and friends after a lifetime of being the monster to everybody around me. I can’t fix it. No one can fix it, not without time travel. All that’s left is revenge.

Nobody left to miss me but Qiang and Max. And after that little bit earlier, why skimp on the brutal honesty? They’d get over it.

So, back at the house, I told Qiang I had something real important to do and I might be late getting back to Firecat for supper. I took her down to the basement for a laydown. Just before I pulled back, I heard Medusa calling a greeting. She called me while I was checking things over. Operating so closely out of two bodies was going to be hard enough. I didn’t need to forget stuff, too. Not a lot to forget though. It’s Li and my main body in its armor in a Psycho Flyer, with a big o’ bomb in the transport hold that’ll tear a hole in reality. I didn’t have time to bring Firecat, and the other body I put together died from where I left it. Whoops. At least it didn’t have a consciousness in it, but it just goes to show the importance of feeding and watering your spare bodies. Remember that down, kiddos.

And after all that, I get a call from her. I didn’t pick up, so I get a text. “Please, let’s talk.” I’d sooner celebrate that day’s Independence Day.

I was going to do the mean thing and tell her we could talk if I survived, but it was time to be professional again. Professionalism: be polite, be efficient, have a plan to kill everyone you meet. I blocked her, closed and sealed the Psycho Flyer, activated stealth mode, and detonated the Dimension Bomb.

Every damn time I do one of these with just myself, it tosses me through the Universe Divide into my original universe and this time was no different. And it always dumps me at the site of my original exit from the world, which my would-be victims at first turned into a memorial of my cruelty and victims. Upon my return and their realization I’m not dead, they fortified it. Then it became the site of the permanent portal connection these two universes. Meaning even though I bypassed the defenses on one side of this, I still appeared only a little off the ground in an area full of sensors and guns meant to keep me out.

Alarms went off immediately upon reappearing in reality. I gunned the Flyer and dropped chaff, then almost immediately had to bank upward to escape the wall around the area portal zone. I felt impacts and the panel showed damaged armor plating falling off from where something got me before I got clear of the wall. After that, I was free and clear. They didn’t seem to have so many guns and cannons pointed outward, and stealth mode seemed to protect me so long as I stayed low enough.

I parked on a hill overlooking the nearby city to reach out and see what I could see. Not literally; the morning light was as unwelcome to my cybernetic eyes as it had always been. I went digital.

The news was abuzz with recent revelations. The Justice Rangers had kidnapped General Lulios to use as bait to kill Psycho Gecko. Hey, I’ve heard of that person. And while many of the people seemed outraged, others sided with the Rangers all the more after Lulios told them why. He actually told them about Psychopomp. About kidnapping me and other kids to torture and abuse into the government’s expendable and deniable pet killers. About how the bigotry of he and his fellow soldiers caused the project to degenerate into sadism. He even told them about the scientists trying to break some of us out and dying when we were all caught. He was currently locked in public stockade in the middle of a memorial park to fallen Justice Rangers. That would mean Justice Ranger guards, but they’re mainly there to keep him in.

It was late afternoon when I snuck the Flyer in close and dropped out of there with my main body. I recalled some of the clothing I used to wear and my holographic illusion made me appear to be no different than another person there to look at the great general brought low. Most people maintained a good distance, but nobody minded when I stepped up closer to Lulios. “Why’d you come clean?”

“It was the right thing to do. I truly wish to make amends for what I did to Gecko and my responsibility for everyone he terrorized since,” he said. He coughed. Dude’s head was dirty, with some dried plant matter and seeds in his hair.

Be efficient. That’s what I was supposed to do. Move in and kill, then worry about talking. It was a great plan, and seeing him overrode it. I stepped closer to the stockade. A blackguard stepped up to put a hand on my shoulder. I grabbed him by the arm and threw him into his comrade on the other side of the stocks. Then I took hold of the metal stock and pulled, my armor amplifying the force applied by my muscles. After a long moment of strain, something let out a wiry snap and the stock opened. Lulios tried to stand up but fell on his ass while I approached, dropping the illusion and letting them all see my armor.

“You had to know this was coming,” I told him. Behind me, most of the gathered crowd decided it was a good day for a run in any direction but toward me.

Except one young woman. She started toward us until Lulios raised a hand and yelled, “Stay back!” He lowered his voice as he looked up at my helmet. “It doesn’t make it any less scary.”

“Any last words?” I asked. Behind me, the two blackguards had gotten to their feet. One called in backup while the other advanced on me from behind with a rifle aimed squarely at my head. I snapped my armor’s tail, knocking the rifle free, then wrapped it around his waist and threw him at the other man. They both crashed into an old statue nearby of the first yellow ranger. The woman from before was still there and pulled out a stunrod. Think baton that electrocutes someone.

“Please don’t harm my daughter,” Lulios said, nodding toward that woman.

I cocked my head to the side. “You really think I’d do that? That I’d take out my vengeance both on you and your child? What do you think I am, some kind of monster?” He almost looked relieved before I added, “Well I am, thanks to you.”

I was about to put my fist through his chest when I felt weird. Tingly. I looked around for what was causing my hair to rise on end and saw a moon in the afternoon sky. A full moon. I thought that was supposed to be for the 5th, but…

Quickly, hoping this would work, I jumped into the Li body in the Flyer. It’s still basically transmitted from my brain, but I was able to fall asleep in on ebody and keep going in another, so maybe whatever freaky neuroscience was going on would save me from the transformation. I opened the door to the Flyer to see my main body cry out in pain and pull itself free of my armor. Lulios backed away, his daughter rushing to his side to help him escape. They jumped at the sight of antlers spurting out of my head and my face elongating.

I jumped down in Li and raced for the group. If I’d just been efficient, this wouldn’t be a cluster in the fuckening. The pair got a little ways away from my transforming body before I caught up to them in the other one. I pounced… and stopped in midair before swinging around in a circle a few times and getting thrown down a grassy aisle between rows of statues. I gouged divots in the grass where I dug claws in to stop myself and snapped my jaws at Reindeer standing between me and my targets.

“Play 911 by Lady Gaga,” Reindeer said. My armor, laying mostly in one piece, began to blast it out. Reindeer launched herself toward me, then dug her heels in and skid while grabbing a statue of some beetle-armored person off its pedestal and throwing it at me. I ducked under it and wrapped my tail around it, swing it down low. I hopped up and released, throwing it right back. Even if Reindeer dodged it, Lulios wouldn’t have.

Reindeer jumped up over the statue and kicked down, knocking it into the dirt. It rolled, but stopped short of Lulios and his daughter.

“How’d I know we’d end up fighting?” I asked Reindeer.

“We don’t have to, but I’m you and you hate yourself still. Look, justice is being done. Lulios’s crimes are public. He was in a stockade. You won.”

“Not until he has his final punishment,” I growled at Reindeer.

“You can’t live in a world without mercy and forgiveness,” Reindeer said. “I know you don’t care for your own sake, but the reason you hate me and him and yourself is because you think a person can’t change and move past their earlier mistakes, because you don’t think you deserve that.”

As fun as it was to talk to myself, and it wasn’t, I scampered forward and swiped at Reindeer’s calves. She backed up, lifting her legs high, then caught my tail when it came around to pop her in the face. She landed and used my tail to swing me overhead, smacking me into a marble fresco depicting some Queen of Magic person. I grabbed onto it and dug in, then used my tail to fling Reindeer into the air. I activated the natural camoflouge of this form and rolled back, bringing my tail’s point up to impale Reindeer. I remembered at the last minute who Reindeer was, though, and instead batted her to the side, cracking a depiction of a little robot with an oversized head.

Reindeeer jumped to her hooves quickly enough, but was coughing thanks to the impact and some dust from pulverized stone. It gave me enough of an opening to remember why I was there. Reindeer had me seeing red, when I should be making someone see black.

“Do you want your daughter to grow up knowing if she wrongs you once, you’ll kill her?!” Reindeer called.

That stopped me from advancing on Lulios. I whirled on the weredeer that takes over my body once a month. “How dare you?”

“I’m you, you fuckbrain,” Reindeer said. “I’ve always been you, just the side that finally tried to do what we always wanted. You have a shot at a new identity and a new life, everything you claim to want, if only you can find a way. He took that away from you, but you don’t have to be the monster he made anymore. You are responsible for your own actions now, and nobody deserves to live in a world where one mistake means death. That’s not what we want for our child.”

I was silently brooding on all this, awash in emotions. Many of them involved anger. “I’m scared,” I told myself.

Reindeer approached, wrapping her arms around me. “I know. We’ll find a way to do the right thing. You’re smart and you’re strong. For all that she’s messed up, Medusa was right that you’re a person worth forgiveness and love. If you want it, and I know you do. All you’ve ever wanted was to be the good gal.” Her voice raised as she called out to Lulios, “I’m not going to be the creature you saw when you justified killing my parents and abducting me. I’m not your child soldier anymore, you husk of an old man!”

Reindeer kept her arm around me as she gathered up my armor. More blackguards were approaching, but so was the current Ranger team. “Stop!”

“The fight’s over… we’ll leave in peace,” Reindeer said.

“Get on the ground!” called the same Blue Ranger I’d beaten back on my Earth.

“Well, if you’re going to be dipshits about this, we’ll just leave!” Reindeer called out. We both jumped for it. They fired at us, but the only blast that got close, I intercepted with my tail before it got Reindeer. With Reindeer leaping and me climbing straight up the side, we managed our way up the building I’d landed on and scrambled into the Psycho Flyer.

“I wish you’d been less suicidal when you came here,” she said. “Would have been nice to have another bomb to get us back.”

“Looks like we’re taking this right up the portal’s poop shoot, then” I said. “Hey, you’re not going to insist I have to forgive Medusa next, are you?”

“I’m lost on that, too. I’m you, remember? She lost our trust and we’ll have to figure out what’s up going forward, but we weren’t going to kill her over it at least,” she said. “We both tried to hop into the pilot’s seat for a moment, causing a chuckle and me swapping into the co-pilot’s chair while Reindeer zipped off for the portal “I think they know we’re here and where we’re going, so let’s speed this up, shall we?” Reindeer said.

I used hands and tail to man battlestations “All tails on deck. We’re a little short on countermeasures from getting here.”

One of the first signs of resistance we encountered was a pair of missiles that blasted apart easily when shot. But the wreckage didn’t fall. Instead, little robots flew out of the wreckage. Some latched on as we passed through and began to cut and dig their way into the metal. One got onto the cockpit windshield, so I activated a different countermeasure. The windshield wipers slid out. The robot tried to duel with one, but it moved back and the one behind it swept its feet. Then the one it tried to fight knocked it around a bit before the robot dropped off the Flyer. Others were taking down more armor plates and putting enough dents in the adaptive skin and projectors to expose us in patches. I unstrapped and ran to the back, tying a cable around my waist and opening the rear hatch.

I swung out and around, grabbing for a handhold on the side of the Flyer. It was not fun, but I had some divots premade by those robots. One with the misfortune to be near where I grabbed one got sent off. I stabbed another with my tail. Really liking this thing. A hell of a learning curve, but humanity made a mistake when it got rid of this appendage. Another of the robots tried hopping onto me and bringing its sawblade down on the armor over my spine. I twisted one arm completely around and flicked it off. Ball joints. Another thing humans got wrong when evolving.

I spent the entire rest of the flight to the portal zone on the outside, trying not to get blown off while destroying saboteur bots. I didn’t end up having time to clamber back in, and Reindeer had to mostly shut the rear entry. “Hold on tight!” she called out through the external comms and took us right for the portal we shouldn’t have been trying with that big of a vehicle. We crashed through the awning, ions and all sorts of energy projectiles sizzling through the air. One popped me right in the chest, destroying one of my hearts. Good thing I had a spare. Except in all the crashing through the awning, we had shit flying everywhere. The Flyer was just sliding through the portal when a hunk of jagged metal jammed down and-

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Reckoning 6

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Qiang’s fine. I look after her as Firecat. Still haven’t gotten the hang of cooking scrambled eggs by hand. Power control issues. But the most important thing of keeping her there is that Qiang’s looked after. She gets that I’m doing it through Firecat, accepting that body as just another one belonging to her mother. It helps that if she gets startled and pulls a knife on me, I can still disarm her pretty easily. I’ve taught her a lot, but I haven’t held back just to keep winning. Some counters are just too advanced or require more strength from her.

Firecat’s not just there to look pretty and keep house. I’m closely monitoring the grown body for signs of problems. I don’t know what kind of issues occur when you mash too many people’s DNA together in one body and hope it all takes. I doubt I got all the issues worked out on this already. It’s the same reason I didn’t shove all the powers into my real, main body. Just my luck I’d do that and somehow melt into a pile of goo.

I have other experiments going as well. Seeing how far I can push biology in anticipation of doing likewise with technology. The one in the basement is one of my experiments in extreme biology. Black exoskeleton, hidden nostrils with filters, amphibious lungs capable of breathing air and water, a prehensile tail and tongue. A black, shiny, hard mess without any apparent eyes to even look into. If I can handle it and it holds up, the next step is to marrying it to technology. Like, nanites in it systems that can help aid in the digestive process and can replicate if I chomp on the right stuff. Instead of just having a freaky body, the body could have the same ability to shift armor plates around, add new limbs, fly. Or even growing flesh in battle. Wings. Then think if I can add powers to it. Super speed, super strength

One of many lovely distractions from the greater crisis. Ha! And my personal crisis is a distraction from all the other crises going on. A mess wrapped in a disaster wrapped in a flaming dumpster. Take all that and stick it inside a paper bag full of shit, set that on fire, and you might approach whatever the fuck’s going on with the year 2020.

But, hey, my daughter’s fed and looked after. So am I. I just had to put on a skimpy dress and pretend to be another woman working for Max. It’s a tiny bit of cover, the best I can do to keep my identity secret again, for now. Besides, Psycho Gecko wears armor, after all. The face underneath changes. Only the armor remains, protecting me from the outside world. Aggressively protecting.

That doesn’t mean I hated the nice Italian dinner at the casino. It was genuinely nice to catch up with Max and learn the story of his recent power play. “They stacked the deck against me because the knew I was a threat,” he said.

“What did you have to do?” I asked.

“They wanted me to create water from the desert,” Max said. “I was close.” He nodded.

“Water’s a bring problem here. Sometimes they go on water robberies,” Holly volunteered.

I raised an eyebrow. Sam patted me on the shoulder and told me, “Holly flirts information out of some of the low levels.”

“So they steal water, and they wanted y’all to somehow create water out of the desert?” I asked.

“The person who could do that has the right to own Vegas,” Max said. “It’s a good thing they didn’t know who you were when you challenged for us.”

“Well, hopefully what comes up won’t require turning a desert into a sea… whatever it is,” I said. “Whatever nasty tricks you have up your sleeve, you can whip them up a lot faster than what I’m trying to pull.”

“You’re on the defensive, reacting,” Max said. He shrugged. “Why haven’t you hunted them down yet?”

I shook my head. “All this shook me. It was a pretty big betrayal, against competent enemies who know how to hurt me.” I could try to justify it with other things, like these guys being good at digital security or having Venus and the Justice Rangers on their side. Wasn’t even thinking that. I needed to escape, I needed a friend, and I need to figure out how to handle a very raw situation.

I hit the alcohol a little hard, but I was so full of noodle and sauce that I handled myself well. I was able to crawl back into my armor. Max insisted Vegas honored the results of games and challenges. I wanted my armor. That way, it wouldn’t get all over the room or bed if I pissed myself.

Woke up in the wrong body. All the more confusing, it was the one in the basement. I had to process a tail and very weird visuals. The unique eye situation required a moment to get used to before I zipped over to Firecat instead. I didn’t mean to jump into either of these bodies. Then I got the buzz of a text message, but that was back in my main body. I jumped back there and had to deal with both a text communication and my own full bladder. And since the text was from Medusa, my bladder was least full of shit. Plus, shit goes through the intestines. But does Gecko ever get credit for free anatomy lessons? No! I just get molested by my girlfriend while I’m trying to murder people and I don’t think I slept off that alcohol that much.

Unlike the usual messages from Medusa, this one was as grammatically correct as a time could be and the phrase “Watch The News.” A little before noon. That gave me a little time to be hungover first before going serious. At least I couldn’t get any more miserable. And I didn’t when the time came around. Instead, all the news channels and Fox ran a brief announcement about the diplomat from another Earth, that fuckface, holding a press junket of sorts at a Toronto hotel. He wanted to allow reporters to have time to ask all of their questions after he made his announcement earlier that day.

An announcement of an announcement. Looks like I know when and where they want to meet me. The junket format is a decent way to get me one on one without risking me killing a whole crowd while going after Lulios. He could truthfully claim it has to do with security concerns. I groggily went and found someone to wake up in Max’s bunch and found Holly having a bowl of cereal. “We need to get to Toronto and pretend to be the press for a junket. If Max wants less bloodshed, he can come up with something to knock folks out. Otherwise, we need to get a move on. I got transport for us already.”

Between all of this, it hardly feels like I have a body. Once we had everything loaded up, I set the Psycho Flyer to autopilot to get us to Toronto pronto. I was fine, so I left my body in the armor and jumped over to Firecat to see to Qiang. We had some time to watch a movie together and for me to just be with her. Can’t fault her for wanting to go hang out with friends. I should get her a new knife.

Up in Toronto, we found the place easily enough. All the major news networks of the Americas were there, as well as the pretenders. We had stowed the Psycho Flyer and rented a van for this, with Max and the girls lying in wait. My armor flickered into invisibility and the deception of a normal woman when I stepped out toward one group of the pretenders with OANN marked on their stuff.

“Hi, oh my god, you’re One America News Network!” I said as if I knew them.

They nodded politely, except for the reporter who was having his makeup done. I leaned in close and whispered, “Hey, y’all wanna hear how the Jews are behind this whole thing?”

Well, that set the reporter’s undies on fire. That’s a metaphor, means he got moving. He led the whole crew over to the open rear doors of my van. As soon as they got over to it, Max sprayed them with puffs of red smoke that caused them all to start coughing, then followed it up with another watergun that sprayed a white smoke at them. They collapsed, and I made sure to grab the cameraman’s camera before it hit the ground. When we all left the van minutes later, the four of us blended in.

“Conspiracy theorists,” Sam said, shaking her head.

“How’d you know they’d fall for that?” asked Holly

I laughed. “Some people are so brainwashed by the people running things that if you tell them Jewish folks are to blame, they’ll believe anything you tell them. They’re so scrambled, they can’t see who’s really pulling the strings.”

“Who?” Holly asked

Sam, real quick, let out an “Oh god,” hearing her question.

“Assholes,” I said. “We’re surrounded by ’em.”

“Perhaps they’ll be more appreciative after their nap,” Max said.

“In that sleep of Max, what dreams may come when they haven’t yet shuffled off that mortal coil?” I asked Max in a roundabout butchering of Shakespeare.

“Near Death Experiences often feature visions as a a traumatized and anesthetized brain tries to cope with the chemicals running through its body. I found a way to tap into that and tweak it in a negative direction.”

“Dude!” Sam said, “You gave them a Near Death Experience of Hell?”

“Only while they’re asleep,” Max said. “If they were awake, it would be a vivid hallucination. I’m eager to see people react to that part.”

We were pretty low on the pecking order when they let us through with our press credentials. They immediately brought us to a room with Lulios sitting in a comfy padded chair with refreshment nearby. My own chair had a folder on the table in front of it. “Hello. You are?”

“One American News,” I informed him.

General Lulios nodded. “If you’ll have a seat, the folder in front of you has details about an initiative whereby my government offers support to your world in this trying time.”

I picked it up and glanced at it. Just a system to provide enough nanites to function as a stopgap measure until a vaccine for the virus is produced. “Oh, I’m sorry,” Lulios said, “That’s my folder from earlier. Please set it aside and check the next primer beneath it.”

I did so and found a file with the same information, but in English. As opposed to the language from my world that the other one had been in and I’d been caught reading.

Lulios shifted in his chair. “I wanted to give your people a chance to ask questions, because this is a matter of importance and you have been terrorized by someone using these medical nanomachines before. I hold some guilt for that. For many years, I held onto a hate that did nothing for me but give me someone to treat as less than human. It’s freeing, in a way. It freed the worst aspects of myself. I didn’t have to apologize for my temper or restrain negative thoughts. So long as I targeted the homo machina, I could indulge myself without feeling bad. They weren’t human, after all.” He almost looked happy at that. Despite that, he didn’t feel right. Maybe it was all the time spent as a kid being terrorized by this guy, but he didn’t have the same presence.

He went on. “I was wrong, and it took the enormity of my mistake to make me see it. To see that by treating these people as if they were monsters and a threat to everything, I made a monster. I tortured a poor soul until it became the monster I thought it always had been. I realized after he almost destroyed the world that his people weren’t monsters. Where we demonized them, they defended each other selflessly. Where I taught someone how to destroy a world, they stopped him. They stopped someone who learned hatred and terror from me. I can’t absolve myself of that. But I wanted to meet with you and tell you that I was wrong to do what I did.”

Y’all might think I was boiling with anger, but this was one of those times where I felt like ice. I was beyond simple anger. One coiling mass of nanites formed a tendril with a spike on the end and plunged through Lulios’s chest. It went right through as if punching a hole in air, but it obstructed the image of Lulios seated in his chair. The hologram appeared to be coming from below.

“I’m sorry for the deception as well, but I thought you would kill me before I could ever speak to you, and I needed to talk to you. For your sake and mine,” the illusion of Lulios went on. “I hope you can find a way to let go of the hate toward humanity and the world. I don’t expect you to let go of it toward me.”

I dropped my own hologram and swept the floor. There was no chair in the room over there, just a pentagonal box. I shifted the tendril and stuck the spike into it, piercing the casing. Cables flowed out of the tendril now, carried by questing nanites looking to fuse them into the wiring of the device. It was a way to recreate my natural homo machina abilities while staying armored.

“Gecko…” Max warned. There were noises outside. “I have to step out for a moment.” He took the camera and the squirt gun full of his Hell hallucinogen with him out the door. Meanwhile, I traced back the signal coming from the device.

Above it, Lulios looked on, sizing me up. “I twisted you into this. It must feel like a knife to the gut to find out I’m still alive. Those on my staff who know the truth wanted desperately to keep you from finding out I’m alive, but I knew it was impossible. You were always going to find me. Please be merciful if you can find it in you to be. They are clouded by hate and throwing themselves into a duty to protect me.”

“I’m tired of your perfidious charcuterie, old man,” I growled.

He was shut up by a blast from an energy weapon that soared over his head. “Shut up, for your own good.” The Blue Justice Ranger walked over and held Lulios at gunpoint. He turned toward me. “No one is being released. You are the key to ending this threat-” The Justice Ranger gasped suddenly as arms wrapped around his neck from behind. The hands hit the external release on his helmet and pulled it off, but kept up the pressure on his throat. He turned his gun toward his attacker, but a familiar leg wrapped around it and squeezed, keeping it aimed away.

I’d gotten the trace done by now, but I kept watching as the Blue Ranger fell back and Medusa stepped into frame, in costume but not in armor. She helped up Lulios and turned to me. “They’re going to use him as bait now they know you will come for him no matter what. I did wrong by you, but listen to me now and stay away.” Then, turning to Lulios, she said, “Come on, let’s go.”

It occurred to me once they were done that I had heard a little bit of the sounds of struggle from outside. Holly and Sam must have gone out to help Max at some point. I followed after, finding Canadian police, Mounties, and Lulios’s Blackguard. They hadn’t been knocked out first like the others. The red gas that still lingered in the air had them scratching at walls and the floor, crying, even fighting each other. I liked it. It felt fitting with the mood I was in.

I caught up to Max, Sam, and Holly in the lobby. There were a pair of police helicopters out there, snipers keeping my friends at bay with shots that tore head-sized chunks of the flooring out. “Not enough range on your squirt guns?” I asked Max.

Max gave me a friendly middle finger, then called out, “They’re loaded up for shooting through armor!”

I gave him a thumbs up, then turned and ran for the lobby doors. A nanite and armor tendril tore the front of the lobby open, the nanomachines taking some of the metal to digest and replicate. The one metal tendril split into two tentacles that pushed me off the ground, then became a single limb with a pair of jet engines inside. The engines pulled me through the air toward the first helicopter and wrapped around the landing struts. It grew shorter as I grew another arm that formed a blade to cur through the base of rotor. The rotor went up for a moment as the chopper’s body fell. I threw that off and launched myself toward the other helicopter that was maneuvering for distance. The nanites encased me, reinforcing armor plates moving over my body to form a wedge while two short arms with jet engines threw me through the cockpit and into the hold with the sniper. He tried to smack me with the butt of the gun but the nanomachines caught it and ate the gun. The man dove for it. I let him and decided to escape the falling copter too.

Seeing police vans around, I threw that wreck of a chopper at them with nanite tentacles. Gunfire rang out, and proved to be useless. The cops saw what I’d done so far and wisely ran for it, driving toward escape. The rest of my group walked out behind me, Sam whistling. Holly walked right up to me and asked, “Why did you need us again?”

“I needed my friends,” I said.

Max gave me a hug before Sam elbowed him. “Excuse me, battleground full of dead bodies and terrified people. Can we hug later?”

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Reckoning 3

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Whatever this is about, my window’s… fucking dammit… my window’s shrinking. I need more words. There aren’t words for this kind of angry. Sounds, aaaargh!

They did a thing. With people asking questions and shit. Shit.

Ok, now that I’ve got some rum in me, and I detest rum, I think I can force this out. Fuck it, I’m leaving in the first attempt. He did a thing with the Canadians, talking about a scientific partnership with the other dimension. They’re saving face. This world doesn’t have a lot to offer the people of my Earth outside of vastly different media. I enjoy good porn like anybody else, but it’s not “future technology bargaining chip” good here, alright?

The thing that pissed me the fuck off initially was the way both my world and the Canadians talked about General Lulios as a respected and beloved statesman. It nearly fucked up me walking one of my bodies down to install a holodisc on the wall opposite the door, capable of letting me tap in and see if someone’s going in or out. Hearing that introduction on the news, I nearly lashed out at the door with a body that didn’t even have good powers for that sort of thing. I walked him back to his room next to Firecat’s, the occasional raven outside being unusually aggressive.

That fucking monster, beloved? Yeah, so I went and checked. It… I… It meant a lot to me to know this. This guy ruined my life. There was innocent little Gecko before, a kid with parents, a birthday, and a name. I didn’t have to be what I became. This guy might be the only living person left I hate more than myself, and I thought I killed him. I thought my world of origin knew what he was. He had just been a general I killed back when it happened.

I had to alter a drone on short notice, give it a holodisc and a stronger transceiver, one with a transdimensional broadcast capability as a backup, similar to the technology I use for this blog. Flew that baby right through the portal. They don’t have a way to shut the portal down just yet, which is part of the reason this has forced either cooperation or conflict. I delivered the drone most of the way by rocket, low to the ground but off the radar. This time, I noticed more emergency measures that could be put in place to block access, but the place was still relatively open. I think it was meant to foster that cooperation, trust, and a degree of transparency. Made it easier for me to violate that trust and sneak through in the interest of murdering someone important to their cooperation.

The other side was more militarized. Like on the Canadian side, they had it mostly open except for an awning overhead, but the area was walled off instead of fenced off, with several round blisters on the wall that housed discreet gun emplacements. The memorial had been cleared away. That made sense. On this ground had sat a memorial to the defeat of their world’s worst villain, to remember the victims and make sure people knew what the original looked like in case the fiend ever returned. They never liked that I actually did return, and the tear in reality that stayed in place probably left them paranoid about infiltration by me. Or maybe I’m giving myself too much credit just because they were so happy to see me gone that they built a monument to my defeat.

I flew the drone out to clearer ground, careful of potential lag. There’s already some reason I can’t access their infonet from this end normally. I brought the drone out and hovered it on up to the top of the wall, settling it there while I concentrated on the more overwhelming task of immersing myself once again in an entire other world’s interconnected information network. It wouldn’t tell me anything, but it could tell me a lot, unless they were going for a Great Firewall situation. That kind of separation is tricky and relies on collaboration from those who provide such a service.

General Lulios. He reappeared shortly after my defeat, at first hesitant to trust homo machina. He was seen with the folks speaking out against leniency and amnesty toward my followers, most of whom had been left in the dark about my attempt to destroy the world. They turned on me and helped stop it, which argued in favor of reconciliation. Along with that, the sheer number of them who had been an abused minority fighting for equality made it a delicate situation. Maybe don’t remind people who were capable of threatening the entire world that you don’t want to treat them like people. Better leaders emerged in the aftermath of my apparent death. Not much of a challenge if you compare them to me. I wasn’t so much a leader as an opportunist. Finally, the Justice Ranger team at the time came out publicly in favor of reconciliation, with General Lulios in the background of the Red Justice Ranger’s speech. After that, he spoke publicly in favor of the idea.

Articles about him make it sound like it was a journey for the General. They didn’t seem to know about what he’d really been doing in the military with the Psychopomp Project. Geez, I don’t think they really know about it outside of stuff I said. And that kind of stuff gets lumped together with some conspiracy theorist nonsense, trotted out by the kind of asshats who believe a shadowy cabal of a certain ethnic group rules the world in secret.

Lulios didn’t reveal his part in my origin. Instead, biographies painted a picture of a guy who has learned he was wrong about past prejudices and who was learning to be better. Naturally, they propped him up as one of the good oppressors, especially since he brought a lot of institutional legitimacy to reconciliation efforts.

I still didn’t see signs of what his grift was at this point. There’s always something. People like him don’t become public figures unless there’s some motivation, usually money. It’s true in both of these worlds. Maybe he was getting donations. Maybe sex was involved. All I know is, he got a lot of people very interested in him and his injuries, all the more so when it was revealed I caused it. The anti-me bias was so strong, nobody stopped to think about if he deserved it.

It all seems pretty simple. The whole time I was here, he was there, being held up as some icon of changing one’s mind. Someone who moved past prejudice, he claims. A humanitarian. A hero who cares about homo machina. Bullshit. Pure bullshit, with little bits of corn floating around in it. Yeah, they were right. The guy’s reputation is great. It’s a lie, but it’s great.

I lifted the drone off and spun it around to find some sort of cover. There was a little bit of a wooded area to the east. Nothing so big as a forest, but something that can provide cover. I rested it on some branches on top of a tree and had the holodisc stay on to mask its presence while the drone itself went into hibernation. I left a timer on to remind me when I needed to do something before pulling back to the real world. The world where General Lulios, the man who tortured and abused me, turned me into a murderer, is beloved by everyone who hated me for what he made me.

I “woke up” to find my arm had gone numb because I was laying on it on my sofa. Medusa brushed my hair. “Hey, sleepy.”

I sat up, rubbing my arm and moving it around. “You’re back early.”

“Yeah,” she said, looking a little sad. “We need to talk.”

I decided to treat this like a traffic stop. “About what?”

“Have you watched the news today?” she asked.

“Should I have?”

She sighed. “Ok, so you know. That makes this easier in some ways, harder in others. Listen, I was informed that general was going to visit as part of negotiations. His staff wasn’t specific, but they had concerns about you. I’m going to be clear here, I can’t let you attack him.”

I laughed and laid my head on her shoulder. “What are you going to do, fight me?”

She kissed the top of my head and put her arm around me. “I’d rather not. I want to cuddle you.” She reached over and took my hand in hers. I think she felt the same thing in those muscles as I saw in the hotel clerk’s face: control. Which meant I was only pretending to be fine. “He’s just some general, right?”

I forced a smile she saw through. “Yeah, sure.”

“Where’s Qiang?” she asked.

“Spending the night with a friend.”

My opportunity came a short while later. While I remained in Medusa’s arms, with her silently reassuring me, I saw confirmation of Lulios returning and a trio of bodyguards taking up stations outside his room. My body went limp as I shot out to more firmly inhabit Firecat.

I blinked, finding myself in bed in a pitch black room. I clicked on the light to the side and let my eyes get adjusted while standing up and stretching. The body, nice as it was, might be an acceptable loss, but it’d be unacceptable to lose it before I kill that fucker. I walked it over closer to the hallway and looked up at the ceiling. Right up there was his room. I set up a chair, which is all I needed to comfortably reach the ceiling. I grinned and extended her glowing energy claws. It was like a burning pressure in my fingers, begging to be released. And I released them, swiping through the orange peel texture and drywall. I paused to listen for movement, signs of awareness. I heard quick shuffling, heading toward the door. Fuck subtlety then.

Flames burst through the floor, stopping escape through the door. The floor of the General’s room crumbled against my claws as I rose, fire alarms wailing, propelled up by a pillar of flame under my feet. Such a grand entrance, I could have smirked any other time. But it was General Lulios. It was the man who made the monster. The man who made me. I don’t even know how the room caught on fire. It was like the heat and anger radiated out from me without my control.

“Gecko sent you,” he said to me. I don’t know when the last time was I heard that voice.

I was distracted a spank. Who the fuck’s spanking me when I’m trying to take my revenge?! It came again, along with the feeling of my skirt being pulled down. Except Firecat was in pants. I blinked and felt my consciousness pulled back to my house in Radium.

“What?” I asked, looking at Medusa.

“Where’d you go?” she asked. “And why did my phone start blowing up with an alarm saying Lulios is being attacked.”

It was difficult to concentrate on the question, or my assassination attempt, with her fingers running along my the front of my panties. “What are you doing?” I whined and wiggled.

“I’m not going to fight you,” she said with a mischievous smile on her face. Something pushed me to the side. No, that was Firecat, up in Canada. I whirled her around toward General Lulios, growling and trying not to pay attention what Medusa was groping with her hands. I swiped with a claw, but stumbled off balance when, back at home, Medusa decided to fold my legs up against my torso. The door burst open. One of the guards grabbed Lulios and pulled him to safety while the others opened up with pistols that burned holes through my chest. The pain didn’t last long, which meant I fucking failed.

I pushed Medusa away and stomped off to my basement lair, panties and skirt left behind on the couch.
This-
I-

So fucked up!

End transmission.

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