Tag Archives: Gorilla Awesome

Two Tickets to Paradise 11

I’m going to try and relay what happened after my capture to you and it’s going to take awhile. Asses were kicked and feelings were hurt, but keep calm and read on. And for now, we’ll put Polonius and his art behind a tapestry. I swear I use no art at all.

I spent a great deal of that night unwell. That I am mad, ‘tis true: ‘tis true ‘tis pity; and pity ‘tis ‘tis true. I am a foolish figure. Mad let us grant me then. The cell reminded me too much of my childhood. It was not a good childhood. There were whips and chains, but not the good kind. It had too many rooms like the one I was in, full of too many men like the ones keeping me in that cell. I was mad, and when I say mad, do not mistake me for being angry. Indeed, I was happy. Why wouldn’t I be? I knew the cause of this effect, or rather say, the cause of this defect, for this effect defective comes by cause. I had been worried when my enemies were the shadows of everyone around me. Knowing that the world was against me made things easier. I could deal with that. Thus it remains, and the remainder thus.

I knew who my enemies were and I knew a lot about what they could do. I realized in that moment that to break the Shieldwall, I would need to know not what they could do but who they were. Seeing as I was bound, that revelation would have to go on the backburner.

First is first, to put it my accustomed way. Escape. I was never a good hacker. Give me the physical touch of a computer and I can make it bend and stretch in ways its designer never meant, but programming language does not come so easily to me. That’s not how I handle things. If Ouroboros left everything as unsecured as your average criminal then that wouldn’t be an issue, but he’s smart and he’s been dealing with Yakuza and their otaku. End result, I couldn’t get out ahead of time.

I wanted to. I felt like a tiger in a cage, except with more imbeciles walking by to taunt me. At least tigers have a chance to get back at whatever drunk guy jumps into the enclosure.

Shokushu and Suishou stopped by when the Yakuza showed up. They looked tipsy. Shokushu had his tie around his head and pressed his ass against the door/window. I was able to figure that out from the files I could access.

No one bothered to pay a visit from the Columbians except for Terribilis, who chatted with a young man in tactical gear that I realized was the man Ouroboros had been talking to. I made the job easy on him. He didn’t have to hunt me down at all. I couldn’t match the guy up in the database. I checked for villains or mercenaries with the sort of wide-brimmed hat he tipped my way, but I had no luck. He had a bandana pulled up over the bottom half of his face.

All that and he didn’t realize the man next to him in the bright yellow power armor wasn’t the real Terribilis. I saw the heroes take him down. That armor put up a decent fight before Troubleshooter got the power drain net on him and Forcelight cracked it open at the entry seam.

When they were done whispering between themselves, the shooter knocked on the door and said, “You behave in that cage now or I’ll have to put you down,” he made a motion with his hand and suddenly his rifle appeared, like a prestidigitator’s trick, “I’d put you down for free, but I’d rather get paid for you.” He backed up a step, then pointed it through the glass at me.

He wouldn’t, unless he wanted to die. If the heroes walk in and see me dead, they know automatically they’ve been set up. That’s why they have all tolerated me to the degree that they have so far, save for the Cartel’s attempt to take me out when I was thought to be a turncoat. Or maybe that was part of a plan of theirs.

Either way, the shooter stowed his gun nowhere and they left me alone, leaving me with nothing to do but stare at the exceptional rear of the man who shot me as he walked away. In all seriousness, dat ass.

That was my night, being gawked at people who should have felt nothing but gratitude at surviving my presence. It took a long time to bring us to night. A long time that I spent worming my way through whatever I could find. Casino security was right out. Ouroboros had actually invested in decent network security. Damn Yakuza otakus. Or is it otaku for plural as well? It may be one of those words that doesn’t change between the singular and plural form, like The Last Samurai, that movie where that white guy rode into battle with the last of the samurai.

At 8 o’clock, a crowd of O-sec gathered outside my window which retracted into the ceiling. Two of them trained flamethrowers on me while more stepped forward to latch chains onto my restraints. Someone pulled ahead too far as we stepped onto the floor, causing me to fall. Real original, guys.

As soon as I saw the heroes assembled, I gave Venus a call and muted my exterior speakers. I saw her turn away before answering with a whisper that only the heroes and I could hear. “Not now, Gecko, we’re in the middle of capturing you.”

“Where are you, by the Burger King?”

“We’re at the casino.”

“This is no time for slot machines, hero. Wait a sec, the casino? There’s not some version of me in a crappy knockoff costume around, is there?”

“Yesss,” she drew the word out, glancing first at a wall where wind blew the leaves of a rubber plant as passed, then back to me.

“You know that’s a trap, right? They found out about our deal and I was forced to beat a hasty retreat. I-…hold up. Ok, cops are here, got to go, bye.”

I hung up, having been led to the middle of the casino’s floor. Table games and ropes had been cleared all around me.

“If it isn’t too much trouble, we’re taking your new fountain ornamentation as well,” said Forcelight as she stepped forward. “How do we know this,” she pointed at me, “is the real deal.”

Venus in particular looked expectant of the answer. Torrent stepped up behind me and kicked me in the back of the knee. I didn’t go down the first time. “Say something, Gecko.” The second time, I fell to my knees.

I turned around partially to look at him, then back to the heroes, then to the Cartel’s members specifically, then to Forcelight, and spoke, “Lo siento, pero no soy el hombre que busca. ¿Dónde estoy?”

“What is this, Ouroboros?”

“It’s a lie, that’s what it is!” said that pockmarked face man from the Columbians. “That’s Psycho Gecko, I know it.” He stuck one finger out and it began to glow purple. He thrust it toward me and the purple glow flew threw the air toward me to be stopped by Forcelight, who had taken to floating. The others in the Cartel didn’t take kindly to this. They drew their guns, prompting everybody else with guns or powers to get them ready to go.

“Shieldwall together!” Venus called as they began to move toward me. My heroes.

Forcelight and Ouroboros approached me ahead of everyone for an emergency negotiation. “¿Quiénes son estas personas?” I cut them off. I’m no expert in Spanish, but it was one of the languages I considered adopting when I landed in this universe. Learning new languages is somewhat like learning a new way to think. My trip to the South may be somewhat less stereotypical than I expected, but most people draw the line at speaking common language of the country.

What gave me away was a ringing noise coming out over the comms, the source of which was a cluster of Troubleshooter, Gorilla Awesome, and Venus, with the trio focusing on Venus’s earpiece.

You ever get that feeling like you created all your own demons and they’re about to tear you to pieces? Me neither. At the time, I hoped I wouldn’t die there because of what I’ve mentioned before, about awesome tombstones. I didn’t want mine to read “Psycho Gecko, in hell he’ll dine, thanks to *69”. Or to exist, really. This may come as a surprise, but I don’t want to die.

Forcelight put her hand on my shoulder, “We’ll take him. And the rest of you. Lay down your weapons and put your hands on your heads.”

Ouroboros was back in the midst of his men one enhanced strength backflip later. “I think not, Forcelight.” He began to speak into an earpiece when that gunman in tactical gear held a gun to his head.

“I think so,” he pulled off the mask, revealing the former Holdout, now the Lone Gunman. Ah ha! The ass never lies. Pockmark of the Columbians began to laugh and even that nameless guy from the Yakuza cracked a smile, at least until Terribilis trained his rifle and minigun on them, respectively. Those smiles died a quick death. One of them had to go: the smiles or their owners.

I had a chance to smile as the effects of Ouroboros’s few commands were followed by men in the security office. I broke the little standoff going on with my words, “By the way, whoever sets me free gets to survive.” I think everybody laughed at that.

The casino floor itself had little in the way of static defenses by its very design. Customers don’t want to see sentry turrets and mines and such defenses shouldn’t be within the range of stumbling drunks. Funny thing is, those networks stayed off most of the time. I felt them come online below me and found out they weren’t as well protected because of their rare use. It was that surprise Ouroboros mentioned if the fight came into the casino proper. Let this be a lesson to those who cross a man improper.

The floor shook beneath me, both indicating incoming firepower and sending pleasant vibrations through my crotch. The floor opened. Shieldwall was scattered around the room as the strongroom emerged. I fell right on top of it. The vault, complete with automated guns. They were set to recognize the security badges of casino staff and higher ups like Torrent and Ouroboros. I didn’t want to play favorites.

In control of their IFF, I closed my eyes and targeted anyone not me. When I fired, the fighting started. Heroes versus villains. Gangs versus gangs. Like a police raid on a NAMBLA meeting, this was where you separate the men from the boys.

They were leaving me alone in all the chaos, too. Everyone had better things to do than worry about me. I was all chained up and on my knees. I wasn’t eager to remain that way, though. Machine guns and lasers turned inward and took aim. While I don’t have a motif or a theme, which would be awesome you know, I felt this epic battle deserved some epic tunes. Trust me, you ever have a huge fight with four large groups of people who hate your guts, you’re going to want to have an awesome soundtrack too. Forget the imprisonment, it was more agonizing to pick out the song. I went with “The Show Must Go On” by Three Dog Night.

Not as hard hitting as what I normally go for in battle, but a song I felt very fitting for my emergence into the fray. It sounded from the sound system and over the Shieldwall frequency, leaving my enemies barely able to hear their teammates or potential dangers in combat.

I threw off the blasted shackles and chains, then stood up, proclaiming, “Now it’s time to tear off your own asses and BEAT YOU TO DEATH WITH THEM!” Yep, it sounded much better with that emphasis on it. Right after that, a strong explosion hit the door of the vault, causing the forcefield over it to blink out for a moment before it was restored. I nearly fell on my ass but recovered my balance and figured I’d watch some of the festivities until somebody stepped up to get stepped on.

Shokushu’s tentacles whipped at the Honky Tonk Hero while Suishou threw his body in chunks at Paveman, knocking off pieces of the craggy bastard. The villainous pair fought well together. One would occasionally lend a tentacle or a few shards to keep their respective opponent off-balance. The Street Artist left swipes of paint in the air that he used to deflect bullets and knock enemies away. He spotted Troubleshooter and built up a large cloud, but she realized she was in danger and fired that kinetic weapon she introduced me to the other day. It dispersed the paint and left the Artist skidding along the floor on his back. With lights destroyed, Raggedy Man appeared in the shadows near the roof with an Ouroboros security officer in his hands. He disappeared again, leaving the guard to fall with a scream from on high. Torrent threw rival gang members at the giant Shieldwall robot, his body absorbing kinetic energy and increasing his strength. Forcelight flew into him and the pair stumbled into the empty all-you-can-eat buffet, trading blows beyond the ability of mortal men. Scythe-Skater and Gorilla Awesome traded blows. Her weapon of choice was her scythe. His was a slot machine. Pockmark dueled with Lone Gunman. He took his own men as human shields, but they were shot out from in front of him. Raggedy Man disappeared and reappeared throughout the scene. He drove steel-toed boots into the nameless Yakuza guy. The man with no name deflected the kick and drove his open palm into where Raggedy Man’s face was before he disappeared. Bright Star was bleeding out from a gunshot wound to the eye. Miss Tycism’s green shield deflected Cartel gunshots as she knelt beside him. Venus hurried over and jabbed Bright Star with something. A syringe full of familiar fluid. Seconds later, his bleeding had stopped and his eye was regrown.

My nanites. I was about to jump down and engage Venus for her supply of nanites, but checking my rear revealed the reappearance of the armor thief. He looked down at his hands. Must be power issues. I left an illusion behind that I was still watching the battle over the side. He approached, thinking he had the element of surprise. I circled around behind him. I jumped, locked my legs around his neck, and flipped backward to introduce him to the elements iron and carbon. The helmet rang as it hit the steel on top of the vault. I took advantage of his stunned state and unlocked the helmet. I pulled it off to reveal that the faker was… Old Man Wilkins?!

That’s right, and he’d have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for this meddling supervillain and his Moai.

Actually, it was a teenager with lightning flashing in his eyes. Red White Blue Kid. I hit him in the head with the helmet. After a smack, he raised his hands, slowly charged the gloves and creating a sheathe of energy around them. I tossed the helmet into a melee below that was set ablaze by an O-Sec flamethrower guard. I charged my gloves all the way. I caught the Kid’s laughable attempts to strike back, overpowering his sheathe and causing to backfire. The bones of his hands and wrist snapped and burned, though much of the energy was dissipated into the steel around the vault as I pinned his wrists to it in the same move.

Before I could take advantage of that state, Ouroboros joined us on the vault. Bloodstained ivory daggers whirled through the air. I kicked at him, but he drove one into my leg. Normally a knife wouldn’t penetrate. Normally, I’m not being stabbed by a guy with twice human strength. I backed away and put pressure on my leg while hoping the last guy he stabbed with that didn’t have herpes. Come on, baby, I got it fighting a supervillain, I swear!

He approached over the Kid, who moaned and shifted. Ouroboros looked down and seemed shocked by the teen in my armor. It gave me an opening and time to start charging my gloves again. I grabbed for his wrist but he spun smoothly out of the way with his blades gliding over the metal of my torso armor impotently. So much for my opening. I raised an illusion of myself still standing there as I dropped to my knees. He learned it was fake when his blade found the illusion’s throat but I had opened up my hand like I was going for a karate chop. Except I drove it fingers first into his belly with all the strength of myself and my armor. His armor and skin gave way. I stood, reaching up inside his body until I found that traitorous heart and tore it out. Ouroboros gawked at me and his little knives fell from his hands. I wrapped my fingers around it and punched him in the mouth with that hand. I left his heart in among the broken teeth, grabbed the top of his head and under his chin, and mashed his mouth open and shut a few times. Finally, I activated the jump enhancers, bent my legs, and gave him a tremendous uppercut to the jaw knocked him over the crowd.

Undying dragon my ass.

I looked over to see the Kid crawling over the side of the vault to escape. Uh uh uh. I dragged him back by the foot and flipped him over. He leaned up. I popped him in the nose. “Now then, let’s have none of that nanite bullshit from you too. The lesson needs to be learned that I kill heroes dead. D-E-Eye of Horus-Squiggly line-Norse Rune-D. Dead!” I grabbed his tongue and his leg and tossed him high into the air. At least a Wookie in height. I jumped after him and, thanks to my closer proximity, got a good view of a rogue RPG blowing a hole in the roof. I caught the Kid with my feet on his armpits and rode his inverted body down on top of the vault. When he landed, it was on his head with all of his and my weight.

But hey, they can always put his brain back together once they’re finished scouring his colon for all the pieces.

I felt it was about time to get this baby opened and get myself some sweet immortality now that I had proven myself King of the Hill. I dropped my flat, propane-selling ass to the ground in front of the door to the thing. A computer panel nearby was active. Ahah! It only took a few minutes of contact to get at this thing. Hacking? No no no. This thing was part of my nervous system. The door’s forcefield deactivated, internal alarms turned off, and the door swung open, revealing the contents to me. Gold bars. Bricks of cash. Gadgets. It was all brightly lit by the fluorescent lighting making up the entirety of the ceiling.

I ran in and found my way to a glass case with what appeared to be an ordinary stick. I busted the case and snatched it up eagerly. “Ok, I wish that gold was chocolate milk. I wish the White House was pained pink. I wish to be…immortal!”

I expected something dramatic to happen, but I had nothing. “I wish this thing would give me a sign it is working.”

No such sign. I hit it. I tried looking for an On switch. I was holding it in the same hand I ungloved to get in the vault, so it wasn’t the skin contact. I tried magic words after that. Hocus Pocus. Aveda Kedavra. Magical source, mystic force! Klaatu barada nikto. Magic missile. Shazam! The door slamming shut interrupted my attempts. I couldn’t maintain the connection to anything outside the vault after that, not even whatever system controlled the vault itself.

And a half hour later, I still hadn’t gotten it open. I couldn’t wish it open. There was no interior panel to bond with. Even the weapons laying around were useless. They were broken or had no power cells. There was a missile launcher that could have done the job, but it was missing vital parts of ordinance and firing mechanisms. Also, I was in an enclosed space with it. I even tried throwing gold bars at it because why not? They broke apart. Fakes. At least I had time to dress the stab wound to my thigh from the fight where I’d killed Ouroboros.

“Well, well, it looks like you got in my vault after all, Gecko,” said Ouroboros over an intercom.

“Great, now I’m hearing voices again.”

“Not at all. I enjoyed watching your fights from my panic room. My double provided a lot of insight into how I should fight you. It shouldn’t come to that, Gecko. Not with the heroes having just wiped the floor with the Yakuza and Columbians. My men withdrew and it seems my contingency plan worked after all. I still have something the heroes want thanks to your blatant interest in my vault. Here, let me get them on the line. Heroes! Over here! I need you to find the intercom on the vault to speak to me. Actually, I don’t, Gecko, I just want you to hear us talk.”

“When I’m through with you, there won’t be a Paradise City to rule,” I yelled. I admit, it sounded ineffectual to say.

“What’s your angle, Ouroboros? How did you survive?” said Forcelight.

“I survived in the luxury of my panic room. Inside this particular room is someone else you are looking for. You’ve done me a good turn by putting my rivals down, but I still need an agreement. If you agree to leave tonight, you’ll get Psycho Gecko, who is conveniently trapped beyond this door.”

“Deal. We’ll get him to Marscow Prison in Kingscrow as soon as we get him out of here.”

“Hey! You can’t do that! I’m too important to myself to be sent to prison!”

“They can’t hear you, Gecko. Try your intercom.”

“Thank you, motherfucker,” I said, feeling all Samuel L. Jackson up in this beast. I pressed the button, “You can’t send me to jail! I’m too homicidal. There’ll be no survivors! Besides, don’t I get a trial?”

“The prison is better suited to hold you until we get to that trial.”

“Yeah, you’re right. Just drop me in jail with Max and Doc. By the way, do you visit your dad in prison any?”

“My dad is dead. It’s- stop. Just stop.”

“What? I hit a touchy subject.”

“Just shut up. There are no mind games left to play. We’re taking you in as soon as Ouroboros opens up.”

The O-man cut in himself now, “The system has been corrupted. I can’t control he door remotely anymore. I’m afraid you will have to find a way in on your own, heroes. Pardon me if I do not wish to come down there in person and provide assistance.”

“The panel has an axe embedded in it. We’ll find a way to get in. You just sit tight in your hidey hole and play nice,” Forcelight spoke with a note of irritation in her voice.

My plan was to get some of these weapons laying around to work right. Mix and match them to shoot my way out if needed. I started gathering up piles of the junk.

“You alright, Gecko? You’re not running out of air in there, are you?” said Venus over the intercom.

I considered not even answering her. “I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams, but it’s nice to hear you still care, Boopsie. What do you think, are you going to stop by and visit me in jail? Maybe we could arrange a conjugal visit.”

She responded with laughter that went on so long that she stopped holding down the button. When she next spoke to me, she had taken time to get herself under control, “Gecko, you are as appealing to me sexually as your name, and twice as slimy. I don’t care about being kind. Not to you and not after all you’ve done. I just want to see you locked up with nowhere to go for the rest of your natural life. I would actually prefer to see you bound in a nutshell, you nut, but you can find a way to be annoying while folding the prison laundry for all I care.”

These damn intercoms won’t let me interrupt, but eventually I get to have my say to play with her brain matter, “Then our monarchs and outstretched heroes are the beggars’ shadows. In court, I don’t expect you’ll look good having hunted me so maliciously. Your team either, but especially you, though. Is it justice when you hunt me just because of your boyfriend? How many greater threats have gone unattended to because of this obsession?”

It was Forcelight who spoke, “Venus has no conflict of interest. It’s not like you killed her boyfriend. Thanks to wonderful new life support and body repair technology that is soon to be patented by Long Life, he’s still alive and can’t wait till he’s put together completely and we can make him look less like a robot.”

“I held his shattered skull.”

A distorted electronic voice answered me next, “You had a few pieces. There was enough left of me to save. Thank you for the nanomachine technology, by the way. We adapted it to work on everyone if need be. Stealing from you is going to make the world a much better place when we begin mass production.” The giant robot, aka The Human Sloth. No. He’s Mecha Human Sloth now. He’s half the half-man he used to be.

“That’s not…well oh yeah? I thought your ass already had enough mass,” I wasn’t going to finish that sentence saying it wasn’t right.

Next up was Troubleshooter, “And your armor will provide great protection and strength enhancement for us and law enforcement as soon as I reverse engineer it.”

“Don’t come in here! I have a magical wishing stick! I’ll zap you to pieces if you try and get me!”

Raggedy Man responded, “I may have neglected to mention that only certain types of people can use that. I neglected it because it’s obvious you are a bad penny and no way would it allow you to wish for so much as a good penny. Thanks for getting it back for us, though.”

“I’m afraid he’s right on that one, Gecko. That thing was useless to me. That’s why I left it in the vault when I moved the rest of my valuables out. Thank you for making it obvious you wanted in there and then taking so long to come back,” said Ouroboros.

Next up was Black Raptor, “You’ve brought all your enemies together against you. You didn’t break us. You just made us even more committed to fighting people like you as a team. Even your plans here backfired on you. You can’t beat us. You can’t escape us. Your capekiller allies are in prison and your pet statue is on his way to Kingscrow now. We have your equipment. We ruined your reputation. You deserve everything you’re about to get. No, you deserve more. But you’ll settle for facing justice. When we swing this thing open, though, I hope you try to fight. We’ll try not to kill you, Psycho Gecko, but no matter what, you don’t walk away today.”

I really needed to get to work anyway so I didn’t respond. I didn’t know how long they’d be pounding away at the door and my full concentration was required on the broken pieces of scraps I’d been left with, that’s all. I could have had a brilliant response if I’d wanted to. Honestly.

It took them quite a long time, in fact. Despite all the pounding and tearing, I was able to accomplish about what I needed. I had to get this monstrosity into firing shape and scour the remains of broken gear for a power source, but I got it. I was not giving up the one I use for my suit. I need that one.

“Yo, anybody out there. Y’all almost in?” I questioned the intercom.

“Very nearly in, Gecko,” Forcelight said, “Are you going to make us this difficult on yourself?”

“I just had a few words to say,” spoke softly. It was at this point that I began to plagiarize a song called “If I Burn” because “I don’t care. Maybe I’m afraid, but still I swear. You could take my life with conscience clear, but you should still hear that if I burn, you will see the fire in your mind when you sleep and if I rise up in smoke around your eyes, you’ll know it’s mean. And the rain won’t wash away the ashes underneath your nails today. It doesn’t matter where you go or what you do, because if I burn, so will you.”

If I failed, I figured they’d be a badass note to go out on. If I succeeded, they’d be an integral part of the plan.

I took my position as they picked up the pace outside. I had a plan to go out in a blaze of glory, they’d think. After ten minutes, I heard the door give one last groan. Then it was yanked loose and tossed to the side by Forcelight and the robot that I realized was Mecha Human Sloth. The pair barely knew what almost hit them. It was, specifically, an old missile from the old missile launcher.

My rideable rocket lived again, just without any sorts of controls. I got up to speed quickly, zipping past heroes prepared for a fight or an escape on foot. Even Forcelight couldn’t keep up and losing track of me at that point meant escape. They would also find that their tricky little Wishing Stick was nothing but a pair of broken Wishing Twigs tossed in a corner at this point.

It was all a close call, but I was finally free.

I was so ecstatic that I shook a little on my scooter ride out of the city. I had to find where they towed my SUV to and raid it, but I got the blogging device back and my Minstrel Cycle. Let them search Paradise City a few more days. I have a new destination in mind.

Kingscrow, home of Marscow Prison, currently occupied by the Good Doctor, Mix N’ Max, and soon to have Moai in it as well. I think I’ll stop by, break out my acquaintances, and work on a more solid plan for tearing Shieldwall apart.

Don’t think that this is the last I’ve seen of Ouroboros, either. On my drive out, I noticed him calling in to the villain pirate radio station, Outlaw X. They played a request from him to me. Care to take a guess what he wanted in my honor? “The Show Must Go On,” by Three Dog Night.

Douche.

Next

Previous

Two Tickets to Paradise 6

Let me just say that these past few days hit me like a ton of bricks. Just wham!

By now you’ve already read about the seeds of this whole mess that were planted. I left Moai to guard Raggedy Man in his new room and figured I’d water them a bit. Or plant more. I was never into gardening, so the plant metaphor stretches kind of thin for me, like a rubber band that has to fit around the entire scope of an event. Metaphorical simile aside, I escalated things.

Say what you will, but I think the car bomb was perfectly justified. The target left the restaurant nice and sauced. I just turned desert into a flambé. I don’t know who the Yakuza guy was, what he did in the organization, or if he was any higher than some sort of middle manager. I don’t know much…but I know his car blew. And that may be all I need to know. Great tipper though, even if his guys were a bit paranoid and kept a close eye on me.

Obviously it’s the Cartel they have to watch out for. That’s who is meant when people mention the Columbians around here. They’re really not all Columbian once you get to the states. Still, they’re known for their car bombs.

Don’t think they got off easy though. Why, on the same night as their cowardly attack on some random Yakuza guy, several of their men who supplied drugs at the street level were gunned down by someone with a lot of those spare dinky Mini Uzis the extraction team tried to use. They’re like toys, I swear. It’s hard to take these little things seriously. I felt like the trigger was going to break off in my hand while it farted bullets into the guys.

I made it real easy for everyone to put the pieces together, too. I left all the clues out really obvious so anyone examining things would be like “Wow, this was pretty clearly a Yakuza hit and this was clearly a Cartel hit. It might as well be written all over the place.” Then they’ll laugh and laugh.

The next day, I visited our old friend Torrent. He was annoyed to say the least. I bet it’s because somebody painted the windows and windshield black and was sitting on the hood in full armor. I didn’t get a chance to deny the paint job, though. He was more concerned about the bomb I had in my hands that was spot on for what the Cartel straps to a car. “What are you doing here with that?” he spat at me.

“Oh, nothing. Had some time while I was blindfolding your car, figured I’d chain it to your toilet. Nice house by the way,” It was too. It was by the bay on Scenic Highway, very good land, even if the slopes make driving awkward. There aren’t beaches there, but it’s a fantastic spot if you have a boat. “Anyway, before I could send your pooper on parade, I found this sucker hanging on. Don’t worry, it’s disarmed. I wouldn’t want to hurt you. Here, catch!” I chucked it underhanded at Torrent. He caught it quickly and I saw his hand and forearm slightly bulge at the impact before it dissipated through his body.

“Did you stop by just to vandalize my humvee?”

“No, I’m afraid I’m here on official unofficial business. I know I’m not here officially, meaning you don’t have to act like you give a damn, but I’m here unofficially, meaning the other guys act like they give a damn. Just figured I’d point out that if I’m attacked by these guys again, with no allies of my own officially around, then I may be force to do some very violent things. There could be collateral damage. Have you ever seen a man ripped apart by an exploding port-a-potty rocket? Unofficially, between you and me, that may happen.”

Torrent was stoic in the face of extortion. “They attacked you? Do they know what you’re after?” he queried.

“They knew what room I was in on what floor I was on of what building I was keeping someone in. He’s a very important someone for this project. If you guys are antagonizing both sides, that’s fine, but a crossfire is a dangerous place for me to be for everyone concerned. All alone, lost in a strange city, looking for water to put my back against. Can you dig it?”

He dug it.

Thanks to another anonymous tip from the same source that had good information on where the out-of-towner was keeping someone hidden, one or two people with an eye out also caught a glimpse of said out-of-towner tossing a Cartel-style car bomb to Ouroboros’s #2 man. The #2 is about to hit the fan, man.

From there, I headed back to the hotel. The same one they raided. They obviously wouldn’t expect me to stay in the exact same hotel. I went right back to the first floor. Yes, the same floor too. Even if they thought I had the audacity to stay in the same hotel, they’d assume I would change floors. They’d be wrong. And I went to the same room door…and passed it up, heading two doors down. If anyone thought to check the same hotel and floor, they’re savvy enough to check the same room. Uh uh. Not gonna find me that easy.

Time for the video. I let myself into the room and handed a phone to Moai. Just something I picked up real quick. It and the axe. Some people looked at me funny when I was carrying that around, but I yelled something about Second Amendment Rights and that got them to back off.

I took the axe with me into the circle of floodlights. Raggedy wasn’t looking good. He was scraped up, with dried blood on his arms and legs where he’d tried to wriggle free. He had a cut on his head as well, probably from the lamp.

Making sure not to bridge the gap with a shadow, I stood close to him and tapped him on the head with the axe. “Wake up, sleeping beauty. I really don’t feel like true love’s kiss needs to be brought into this.”

He stirred, slowly getting his bearings. Then he saw the axe, his eyes going wide. He trembled a tiny bit. To his credit, he restored his composure after a few seconds. I patted him on the head. “Fear not, Raggedy Man. You and I are just going to make a video…something tasteful. Ok, Moai, roll it!”

I waved at the camera, axe in hand. “Hi there Raptor! Say hi, Raggedy Man.”

I waited. And waited. No response from Raggedy. I grabbed his hand with mine and began yanking it. “Now come on Raggedy, at least wave to the man.” With a crack, I was able to raise Raggedy’s hand up for a wave. His forearm remained firmly secured to his chair with a cuff having been forced high up along his arm. He screamed. I waited until he was finished before I spoke out the side of my mouth in a higher pitch than normal, “Hullo there Raptor, it’s me, Raggedy, practicing my ventriloquism.”

“Neat skill there, Raggedy Man. Anyway, Raptor, nice to finally talk to you. I’m Psycho Gecko and I’ve been spying on you. You’ve come out to your wife about your secret identity. The late nights, the costume with muscles molded into it, looking for strange men in dark alleyways. You’re a superhero. You probably think now you’re out that things get better. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but they won’t. It gets worse.”

I set down my hostage’s hand and continued, “I have him at that crappy hotel by the civic center. First floor. You’ll want to get here and rescue him while you can. I know it’s the middle of the day, but you can drop the girls off at an aunt’s house or something and throw on the costume. Your wife won’t have to know because she’s working. Actually working at the bank this time. No stakeout. Raaaaptor, come out to plaaaaaay.”

I brought the axe more prominently into frame and gave it a couple partial spins. “Just you, me, and a new axehole. Ok, cut it there and let’s send it to him. Good job Raggedy, you’ll make it in showbiz yet. You should really show me how you do the trick with the broken arm sometime, I’d love to know how you fake that.”

“What are you going to do if he doesn’t show up?” wondered my prisoner.

“I’m going to leave you in the chair, that’s all. He’ll come.”

Moai sent Raptor the video to his phone and I left the disposable plugged in to charge and provide a handy bug for when Raptor came crashing in. The axe I left in the plastic ashtray outside the door of the hotel. Meanwhile, I headed to the bank. I had an important withdrawal to make.

When I walked into the bank, I appeared to be a civilian in a business suit, briefcase in hand. I’m glad I don’t have to wear an actual suit. Too morbid. Think about it. What do they dress dead bodies in for a funeral? Suits. And then there’s the noose people men tie around their own throats when they put them on. Not only are they dressing like they’re going to die, they’re wearing a means to kill them.

I bluffed my way through to the offices with various nonsense about loan originators and debt reconsolidation and so on. A badge and nametag appeared to match what I saw worn around me in the office, the title shifting as I weaved in and out of lies and higher up the corporate ladder. You can get more places with nonsense, a prop, and confidence than you can with just nonsense. Acting like you don’t belong somewhere is a sure sign that you don’t. Social engineering, I’ve heard it called. The weakest links in any security measure are the people themselves.

I found our Mrs. Robinson looking much more professional in the women’s version of a suit on her slender frame and hair done up. There were dark circles around her eyes. Knowing what hubby’s up to wasn’t helping her peace of mind. I just had to idle for a bit, so I stopped by the water cooler. Mmm, refreshing water. I don’t think anyone caught that it just ran off what seemed like my face and suit.

I made my move when I heard doors crashing in back at the hotel via my phone. The missus was chatting with a balding coworker when I stopped by her desk casually, apologized that I needed to pause and get something from my case, and pulled out my coffee blaster and a small board. Some people call their coffee makers a name like Mr. Coffee. I think I’ll call mine Mr. 2nd Degree Burns. Excellent.

I scalded the man with the thinning hair right on his exposed head. Mrs. Robinson had an inkling of my purpose and stumbled upright, knocking over her chair. I wrapped my arm around her as she turned to run, catching her around the midsection. I set Mr. 2nd Degree Burns aside then hit her at waist-height with the board. It let out a snap as it hit her and on my signal it curled around her waist. I got the idea from a wristband I saw once.

She struggled and threw her elbows against me. She tried to stomp on my foot with her heel. She stopped that once I whispered to her, “Mrs. Robinson, you can try and seduce me later. Right now, that’s a bomb I put on you. I have the detonator in my helmet and can set it off at any moment, so you might want to stop. Just saying.”

She did as I gently suggested and stood there, huffing, trying to catch her breath. Taking Mr. 2nd Degree Burns back in hand, the two of us made our way to the elevator. She got a confused look on her face as the door closed and turned to me. “Helmet?” she inquired. She got a good look at my armor as I dropped the businessman illusion and let out a piercing scream.

I tried muting her, but I was forced to do so without the aid of a remote by holding my hand over her mouth while I listened in on Raptor’s progress. He broke down the correct door this time. “Help is here, man. We got you. I don’t care what they said, I knew you’d turn up alive. You’re too tough a bastard to die.”

She screamed her pretty little face off up on the roof. I held her by the updo she had her long black hair in, holding her at arms length so that she leaned off the side of the building. I dialed up the phone I left back in the hotel room and interrupted the reunion of mentor and hero with a call carrying the shrill sound of Raptor’s wife in danger.

“Hey, pick up the phone already! I don’t have all day. My arm’s getting tired.”

“What do you want?” came a voice over the phone. There was rage, desperation, and hurt in his voice.

“It’s funny that nobody knows the answer to that, because I’m sure it would make a lot of things in the immediate future much clearer. I digress. Now, I wasn’t lying when I said your wife was at work. I’m with her now! Let me tell you, she knows how to work a business skirt, know what I mean? You’ve got two kids, so I guess you do. So here’s the deal, I’m going to drop her here in a few minutes. I don’t know, maybe five? I suppose I could try and make this a sadistic choice, but we both know you’ll grab her instead of trying to grab me. All you have to do is flap your little wings over here and keep your wife from falling to her doom.” I hung up.

I actually waited 7 minutes, but nothing beats having a loved one die in a hero’s arms. When it looked like he was close enough, I dropped Mrs. Robinson off the side of the building and adjusted my visor for binocular vision.

Black Raptor dove like a peregrine for the woman he loved. He came in dangerously close to the ground to catch her and the extra weight threw him down low enough that his wings struck something and the pair began to roll. When I caught up to them and got it focused enough I was disappointed by the sight that everyone lived. Raptor laid there on the ground, mechanical wings ruined, wife on top of him, the bomb strap in its board shape again nearby. The wife was going to make it, it seems. It put enough into it that it’ll blow through bones and organs where it’s wrapped, but with no real chance of collateral damage. It’s designed to do enough to kill just the one it’s wrapped around. Remember, if I kill Raptor, he won’t learn nuthin’.

But that didn’t mean I couldn’t give the guy a hand for all his luck and determination. I sent the signal telling the strap to curl up. It wrapped around Raptor’s right arm at the bicep. From where I stood, it sounded more like a loud pop as it took his arm off.

I cut back to the visor’s normal vision mode as I turned and found myself face-to-face with a giant hammer that hit me out of nowhere. I fell to my right, more than a little dazed. “Hey Gecko!” Venus shouted as she got control of the beefed up sledgehammer she just bitchslapped me with.

“You did it out of order,” I said haltingly. I had to relearn how to speak as my teeth felt like they’d just been rearranged.

“Stay down, Psycho Gecko. The team has this building surrounded and our people inside. There’s only one way you get off this building and that’s in our custody. Don’t make us have to hurt you.”

I held up a finger, “Hold on a minute. I don’t know where you came from or how you and your identical triplet sisters learned to spin around in circles that way, but I think we’ve established by now that there are two ways off this building.”

With that, I threw myself off the side, hoping I was still facing good people.

I was. It was Forcelight who first tried to catch me, but she was too powerful for what I was trying to do. If she caught me, that would be it. I directed a blank white holographic image into her face as she got close. She pulled it away with her powers but had missed me. She couldn’t stop on a dime.

The next hero to interrupt my fall was Gorilla Awesome who swung through the air to catch me in one meaty paw. Too bad he can’t fly. I swung my fists into one of his eyes and kicked off his body.

I continued my descent until Troubleshooter floated by. She piloted a car-sized vehicle that looked like she got out of control while adding stuff to her backpack. Two large waldoes, shaped like squared-off “U”s, grabbed me from either side, pinning my arms to my waist as the ends of each side met at my front and back. A mechanical scorpion tail rose out of the back of her flying machine and aimed right at my head. “Go ahead, make a move. I dare you.”

I hooked my right foot against a sort of cuff that was part of the right waldo and pushed, activating the jump enhancer. A system designed to throw me into the air exerted pressure against it. The right waldo yielded, leaving me in only the left, which tried to close more and hold me. It tried, but I slipped out the bottom. Hey, at least it got me closer to the ground and slowed me down some.

I was beginning to think I should have stayed with her when the heroes made one last attempt at saving my life. Or they almost did. Miss Tycism stopped before she got close enough to grab me and just let me fall.

I bounced off an SUV when I landed, denting it before landing hard on the ground. I was in bad shape. Bones broken, head concussed, warm fluids in my helmet and crotch area. I couldn’t feel much below the neck. I heard the door of the SUV open. The armor and I were both a little messed up but I wrangled enough projectors working together to throw up the illusion that I wasn’t there. Nanites flooded my body, emptying the suit’s stores as they worked to mend me. That was the plan. Disappear, get well enough to walk, and find Moai if he was still close enough in the escape vehicle.

Except the driver that walked over to look at me happened to be a statue from Easter Island. He loaded me in the back of the crushed former Yabloo City Sheriff’s K9 unit SUV and took off with me before the heroes could track us.

Like I said, good to have someone dependable around.

Next

Previous

Bananarama 11

And now we continue our story of just what happened that day I confronted Venus. What a story it is. Action! Intrigue! Ballshots! In fact, a kick to the groin is right where we left off. There are times when it doesn’t pay to have a hard-on from verbally tearing down a woman.

Well geez, saying it that way almost makes me come across like a real jerk. I meant that while normally I would hit this woman, this time I just gave her a tongue-lashing. Where the hell was I going with that last sentence? I know, I’ll distract you, readers. Look, down below!

I’d taken my eye off her as I laughed and paid for it. Venus was quick and got her knee in there before I could react. The armor helped weaken the blow, but blunt force trauma is still blunt force trauma. I doubled over instinctively too. Venus went to sweep me off my feet with a blow to the back of my knees. I relaxed with the hit. Instead of falling on my ass, I went forward to my knees.

She grabbed my helmet and rammed her knee into the visor. All she got was a sore knee. She tried to punch me in the throat, which is one of my favorite places to punch too. Don’t we just have so much in common? I ducked my chin before she could hit that vulnerable area and caught her forearm with my left hand. I gave it a hard twist to the right. She cartwheeled in the same direction. It was impressive. I was so impressed I grabbed her hand with my right, held her hand bent down, and headbutted her at the wrist.

Snap! Her response started as a grunt but ended as a pained yelp. Then I twisted her forearm back to the left. No cartwheel this time. Snap! Another yelp of pain. She kept her cool, though. She put her other leg on my right arm, trying to force it away. I let go and grabbed hold of her leg. She didn’t try to get away. Instead, she threw her body at me, wrapping her right around my arm and head while her left, the one I had a hold on, wrapped around her right ankle after it was around me. For all the kiddos reading at home and copying the moves, this is called a Triangle Choke. One way it can be countered is if you happen to be strong enough to overcome your opponent’s weight.

Now, Venus was no twig-thin model that weighs less than your average cheeseburger, and she has muscles. Muscles have weight. But her muscles didn’t beat my armor. I held fast to her as I got my feet under me. She was still trying to choke me out as I dialed for less power to the jump enhancers. I projected an emoticon over the face of my helmet just before I left. A :P. While my head was trapped between her legs. You know, I didn’t think of it that way at the time.

What I was thinking was “Wheeeeeeeee!” as I launched the both of us into the air. She fought me even there. She tried to let go, tried to spin me, tried to flip me. Time was up awfully quickly though. I slammed her into the street’s hard pavement. She let go then. While she was stunned, I grabbed her by the ankle and swung her over me to slam against the sidewalk.

So that’s what it’s like to play the power guy? I could get used to that. I just began to walk away then, calling back to her, “Puny Venus.”

She threw a rock at me. I turned back to her. “Seriously?”

She collapsed back against the ground. She was done, sticks and stones notwithstanding. “Look at you. Out of breath. Outmuscled. Outsmarted. And let’s be honest about the costumes here: outfabuloused!” I did the magic hands when I said that. ”You beat me once, I’ll give you that. Let’s see…I killed your pet dog. Yep. Smooches the Sloth. Ran over him with my mansion. Also, the house got a little scratched in all that…and kind of exploded…so I need your insurance information.” She was struggling to sit up with muffled wincing from under her mask. “I got you beat, hero. Brawn and brains.”

I talk too much. I recognize that when I’m not in the middle of it, but you get to taunting them when they’re down and it just feels so good. I don’t just mean the monologue last time. Monologues are for expressing the enormity of the whoopin’ so vociferously unleashed upon an ass.

Venus had time to catch her breath, among other things. She levered herself up on her elbows and said something I couldn’t hear. ”I have friends.”

“What was that?” I humored her.

”I have friends.” Still couldn’t make it out. Well hell, if she’s saying it twice, it must be important. I walked closer to her. “Come again? I feel I should ignore my plan to get out of town in favor of moving closer while you say something.” If I understood why I said things like that, I feel I’d be a lot closer to understanding the world.

I had to get fairly close, too. By then, she managed to gulp in enough air to speak where I could hear her. She said “I have friends.”

I put my face in my palm, shook my head, and sighed. “Personal distress beacon started at the beginning of the fight, right?” I asked, still not looking up.

She probably nodded. I turned around and kept looking down with my hand shielding my visor. I started walking away like I intended to when I beat her down. “Not looking up, not looking up, not looking up…”

A sudden impact with my helmet threw me to the ground and gave me a headache. I took a moment to look straight up into the sky. “Yep…things are NOT looking up.” I sat up and faced the music.

Heroes. I recognized Paveman, Forcelight, and Gorilla Awesome. The rest were unknown to me at the time. There was a teen made of marble next to Paveman that looked like a chip off the old block if Paveman had the body of a Greek god and a pair of gold tights with yellow griffins on them. Another new one was a young man in blue tights that had white stars running down the sides of the legs, a large white star on the chest, white sleeves. His gloves and sleeves were red and he had a helmet of blue with a white visor in the shape of a beak. The cape joining with his helmet was blue as well, with a feather pattern that featured white along the edges. It was good enough that I don’t feel so bad spending so long describing it. They also had a woman with them in a deep red cloak and a pair of sandals. Her toenails were periwinkle, too, but I doubt that was part of the whole thing. Green flame trailed from her eyes as she looked down at me from where she floated in the air.

In the words of Ron White, “I didn’t know how many of them it was going to take to kick my ass, but I knew how many they were going to use. That’s a handy piece of information to have right there.”

I kipped up to my feet only for Gorilla Awesome’s grappling hook to latch onto me and pull. Out came the Nasty Surprise to chew through the hook and I hit the invisibility. He reached out to grab at where I should be. He miscalculated. I hit the ground and jumped onto Gorilla Awesome’s head and upper back. “Nice catch, banana breath,” I taunted with complete originality. He didn’t take kindly to his new hat. To make matters worse, I saw Forcelight drawing light into her hands. Becoming visible once more, I jumped off Gorilla Awesome and turned to face the rest of the heroes with a crotch chop. Apparently, this was a gesture from the late 90s which indicated a hostile desire for someone to perform fellatio upon the person gesturing.

A few things happened at once. Gorilla Awesome jumped up and clasped his hands upon thin air. Forcelight fired a beam from her hand which snapped Awesome’s head back and sent him sprawling. Lastly, I was struck by a couple streams of sparks coming from that patriotic superhero. One was green, another was red. When they hit me, they redirected me into a streetlight with explosive force that was represented by fireworks. The green had a Peony effect and the red was Dahlia.

Gecko Fact: Peony fireworks effects is a roughly spherical burst of “stars” that lacks a trail. If it leaves a trail in kind of a slow fall, it’s a Chrysanthemum, but if they burst out quickly with a trail and then disappear before falling, that’s a Spider. A Dahlia is a Peony with bigger but fewer stars. Note that if your universe does not follow natural laws to such a degree that fireworks are capable of existing, then you should probably ignore a lot of this story’s action scenes due to the existence of chemistry and gravity.

I hit my three-way illusion, then reminded y’all to get your minds out of the gutter. Two holograms of myself ran out of me with a blue trail. One stayed behind against the pole as I cut to invisibility and rolled to the side and to my feet. I made a break for it while they stayed and taunted the heroes. I was at an alleyway when Foreclight blasted the illusions with enough power that it pushed back the BZ fog and created a clearing. I dropped the holograms when they did so and began to project my image for moments at a time in different places.

The heroes had held it together this long when facing me, but this was where things went wrong for them. The patriot guy started blasting all around himself with fireworks. Gorilla Awesome woke up, beat his chest a few times, and flew at Forcelight with his jetpack. Paveman and the marble boy were trying to help up Venus, but something triggered in Paveman and he started fighting his own hallucinations while shouting “They’re Commie Geckos! Wolveriiiiiiiiines!”

Side note: Paveman’s been doing this too long.

I dialed down the power on my jump enhancers while I headed down the alley and jumped off the wall on one side, which sent me to the other. That way, I was near roof level as I hopped from wall to wall, and to the clear. The party was pooped thanks to the girl in the cloak with the sandals and the enflamed eyes. Remember, use hand sanitizer to avoid a bad case of green flame eye. She struck me down with a bolt of red lightning. I broke through the plastic top of a dumpster as I landed half inside of it, knocking a great deal of air out of myself as well.

Something wrapped around me with a dull humming “vroom” kind of sound. I was being hauled back into the air by that flying mystic with some sort of glowing rope of energy wrapped around me. My arms were held at my side as well. At the time, I wondered if that energy was anywhere near some of the nonlethal wavelengths I had to deal with when fighting the Phenomenal Fighting Justice Rangers back home. If so, I have a little trick up my sleeve. A little trick called my gloves.

The readout in my visor classified her eyes as a magical disturbance. I could have told it that. Even with my visor in the way, she was looking right into my eyes. “Your trickery shall not deceive me, for I have the power to see truly past all your illusions.” She threw the cloak back, revealing a colorful silky outfit that played up the magic thing. I don’t understand why the skirt was done more akin to a loincloth, but I’m guess Master Academy has a male marketing staff.

“I’m glad you’re looking at my eyes right now then. If you were looking lower, things would get embarrassing quick,” I told her, then raised my hands up. My gloves were charged with energy of their own and dispersed the glowing rope as they passed through it, their own glow weakening with every loop destroyed. We were up in the air, however, so I reached out for the nearest thing I could hold. In her case, it was the mystic girl’s loincloth skirt. She kicked at me, which only made matters worse as it ripped and I sank lower. I lifted myself high enough to grab it at her waist, but that didn’t hold very long. The lower half of her outfit tore and I fell, catching myself on her ankle. As she tried to shake me off, I realized that either marketing is more sexist than I thought, or I had also grabbed her underwear when I tried to climb up her waist.

I projected a cellphone into my hand and raised it up as if taking a picture of the bare bottom heroine. “Hey, stop that!” she said, sounding a lot less like a composed master of the mystic arts. I made a bunch of noises like I was taking pictures while she pulled her cloak around herself.

I slipped a throwing knife out of my belt and stuck it through her cloak, then let myself drop. She had to notice, but she threw off the cloak and booked it to avoid becoming the hot new tabloid sensation. That still left me with a problem related to gravity. This is gonna hurt. Despite my best efforts to try and reason with the universe by pointing out that gravity is just a theory, like germs, atoms, and evolution, it has so far not allowed me to fly under my own power. This would have come in handy to keep me from landing on a vent on some store’s roof, staring up at a dark and cloudy sky that began to roar.

Luckily, everybody else was too busy losing their minds. It’s a shame it’s not a permanent effect.

There were no more problems as I got away from them. I met Moai at a big moving truck he’d stolen but we soon found a small, tiny, minor, miniscule, gigantic problem. Turns out there’s a little bit of a perimeter around the city. I’ve got to get through that or I won’t get to keep my stuff. I like my stuff. I have a limited time as well before the city is finished with its hangover. Venus showed the heroes where to get the effects removed and Forcelight’s blast there showed them how to clear enough of the city. The rain soon to come that night didn’t help matters.

I’ve won the battle. Now I just have to win the retreat.

Oh, and readers? Made you look.

 

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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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Reality Check 8

The stage was set for my attack. Actually, it was all set for Honky Tonk and Gorilla Awesome to go into their rendition of “Hound Dog”. Someone actually threw their panties onstage at Honky Tonk Hero. I kept a photo of the guy pulling them off himself for future blackmail purposes.

That’s when Tupac walked out on stage. The music stopped dead, the whole crowd stopping and staring at what looked to real to be a hologram. “It’s got to be him,” said Honky Tonk, who gripped his guitar by the neck and swung the base around to point at me. Roughly 64.3921554% of the crowd pulled out guns of various shapes and sizes. Ensconced as I was in not only the Tupac hologram, but my armor, I just spread my arms and yelled out indignantly in the voice of the dead rapper, “It’s ‘cause I’m black, isn’t it!”

My armor is bulletproof, but it turns out that if enough cops fire at exactly the same time with good enough aim, the force can actually lift me off my feet and fling me back about a wookie’s length. Look, I don’t do measurements the same way other people do. You can tell me the numbers. I know the numbers mean something. And if you try really hard and give me something to compare them to, I can even get a rough enough idea of something to give you numbers back. As you may have noticed, my ability to put together weapons of mass destruction in no way relies upon imagining exactly what the length of a foot looks like without the aid of a sub sandwich.

Speaking of weapons of mass destruction, I landed on Gorilla Awesome’s drumset, the blow only slightly softened by the bag I had across my back that contained a number of objects that were not fun to land on. “And I bet there still won’t be a single damn witness,” I told him with a cough. He brought a drumstick down to smack me in the face once, but I dodged the second one, and as I rolled out of the way of a third hit, the drumstick smacked a cymbal. Rimshot! The stick snapped on my helmet as the rimshot rang out. Whatever you do out there, don’t try to get a job doing rimshots. It..it just doesn’t work out. Trust me on this. You don’t have the tongue for that kind of work.

Before Gorilla Awesome could use more sticks and stones to try and break my bones, Moai leapt to my rescue, landing directly on the ape and driving him through the stage, but rolling to safety on it without going down with him. When we both stood, it was to the bell ringing in the song “Hail Mary” with me Tupacced out and Moai wearing low-hanging jeans, the gun from the fanny pack now tucked in the waistband, and a bandana tied around its head.

“That blow was like a twelve gauge shotty, uhh.. ya feel me?” I said as I approached Honky Tonk Hero, making a big show of dancing, boxing style, and raising my fists. “I am a killer, so don’t push me. Revenge is the sweetest joy next to gettin’ pussy. And this here is my boy, Rapper Nui.” I motioned towards the Moai.

The gorilla, recovering quickly as always, climbed up onto the stage and advanced at the same time Honky Tonk did. Moai and I were backed up against each other soon enough, back to back. I called back to him, “Don’t worry. I’ll take the ugly one.” The Moai turned partly, almost as if to ask which one that was, but then I felt him whip me around. I flew through the air, my legs smacking into the side of Gorilla Awesome’s face and sending saliva flying. I landed on my own feet and grabbed Moai’s head. I went to lift him in a similar spin toward Honky Tonk, but the most I managed to do was roll his body towards the hero, who tried to jump over and got caught in the balls when Moai stood up. A growl from behind me reminded me of the giant primate ready to tear me limb from limb.

I guess Moai considered Gorilla Awesome to be the uglier one. Good time for the goodie bag, though. Just as he lunged for me, I whipped out a bedpan and brought it across his face with a loud, resonating bong! I dropped it in the swing and reached in with my other hand to pull out a different loud bong, this one with a tie dye paint job on it. He caught it, along with my hand, and squeezed. His unforgiving muscles were more dangerous than the glass, at least until swung the next random item out of the bag. It was a horsehoe. I avoided being caught by Gorilla Awesome’s other hand or either of his feet long enough for my blows to finally force the release of my hand. I dropped the horsehoe, which now resembled a metal ampersand. He settled for jumping on top of me and pinning my lower body to the ground.

Normally that’s the kind of time when you have to go coyote and chew your way out, but my hands went to the bag again. Out came an iron. Perfect! I wrapped the cord the stiff wires on one glove and charged it up. It was somewhat imperfect of a connection, but it did enough to rapidly heat the iron, which I pressed into gorilla’s chest. Smelling of burnt hair, the primate put a little distance between us.

Behind us, all this time, raged the epic battle between the Moai and the Honky Tonk Hero, out of sight to me at least until I was grabbed again and spun around, the arm holding the iron still out. I was brought around so that my outstretched arm held the iron to Honky Tonk Hero’s hair, setting it ablaze. “Will you stop fucking forgetting who the minion is here!” I called back to my ensorcelled partner in crime. He dropped me on my feet.

Honky Tonk raised his guitar for a devastating overhead blow, his hair going out as the oil was used up though it still maintained that perfect Elvis do. I remembered I had brought a shield to battle that would deflect even his super strong attacks. I retrieved it from the bag and held it in front of me to block the blow. He stopped on a dime, unable to risk harming the vintage vinyl Elvis debut album I held before me. “Mother of God,” he muttered, dropped the arm holding the guitar to his side, then called out to the police officers who had gotten the crowd out of the way and set up a perimeter on the ground during our melee, “Stand down, everyone. We can’t risk destroying it!”

“Now you see, white Honky, that not you AND Gorilla Awesome AND a huge crowd of Memphis’s finest stands a chance of taking me down!”

At that, sharpshooters and SWAT teams on the roofs stood up and made their presence known, effectively doubling the police presence in the area. “Wooooooooooo! I’m going to have to kill twice as many people than I planned. You all want to form a nice, orderly line facing away from me?” I looked back to Honky Tonk then, “I normally take pride in my asskickery, but this looks like it’ll be a doozy of a rush job.” I shook the album in front of me to reiterate the fact that he didn’t want it damaged.

“Alright, I understand. Everyone, I said stand down! What are your demands? Do you want the city?” he asked, the air tense. I could almost hear the building up of what was essentially a Mexican standoff involving an Elvis album.

“I hadn’t much thought of it. I practically control everything already. I mean, if I ruled the city, what would I do, delegate the day to day responsibilities to experienced people like the mayor and city council? And if I needed money, I suppose I’d just walk into a bank and take it. And if I wanted to do something drastic, like shut down all the TVs, I’d just go ahead and do it without anyone’s input. You know, it’s almost like I’m already dominating your world. No, what I want…is…to know what the hell that noise is.” I said, looking around. What I thought was the sound of a Mexican standoff had turned out to be a real noise, approaching. Jets fly over Memphis all the time, but generally not this low over Beale Street.

The jet was all white, with neon lights running along it with sharp, precise angles. It was bulky, but moved slowly as it flew overhead and in the direction of the station I’d attacked the day before, thrusters rotating to slow it and allow it to hover. A gleaming white figure flew out of the top of it.

Ok, so Honky Tonk Hero and Gorilla Awesome and a gaggle of undercover cops and rooftop snipers and SWAT teams and the Kingscrow hero team (The Whatever-They’re-Calleds) AND Forcelight. Ok, that oughta do it.

I watched Forcelight as she flew closer, her otherwise delicate-featured face holding onto a look of determination that marred the beauty of her thick lips and eyes that drew your gaze enough to make you feel they are too wide for her pretty little face. It’s amazing how much you pay attention to someone after they’ve shown they are capable of taking your head off with a punch. She almost looked terrible and threatening to me, except she had her chance and used it to try and put me in cuffs. I dropped the record, whipped out more salmon than you could shake a bear at, and armed the stink grenades. The front row cops, Gorilla Awesome, and Honky Tonk were all engulfed in pink clouds of stinky exploded fish mist, which obscured the view of those on the roof tops. From out of the mist, I chucked one final fish right into that pretty face of Forcelight. I like to imagine it got close enough to smooch its little fishy lips against hers before it poofed into rotten fluid.

Moai and I made our escape then, with him rolling out of there. I jumped on top and ran backwards, feeling that despite all my rage I am still, in some ways, a rat in a cage.

Later on, back at my hideout, I was hosing down my suit and my Moai. Still had my helmet on, though, as I had to make a call.

“Kavorkian Pharmaceuticals, this is Elmira speaking,” said the voice on the other end.

“Hey, Holly, it’s everyone’s favorite homicidal maniac,” I said and heard a click. Yep, sounds like I called the right place. I was going to redial, but it turned out I was only transferred.

“Gecko, it’s not been long enough, how are you?” came the voice of Mix N’ Max.

“I’m doing just fine for a guy in Memphis facing down a load of heroes out of Kingscrow. Figured I’d call you up and let you know they were out of town. You know, just in case you ever went to a bar full of criminals with superhuman abilities who were looking for an excuse to run wild on the place.”

“I’ll pass along the message for you. Oh, Sam wanted me to tell you, and I quote, ‘If I ever get my hands on you, I will wring your neck until your brain pops out, then shove it up your dick.’”

“She watches Idol, doesn’t she?”

“She did until you started blowing up satellites and TVs.”

“Oooh, that reminds me,” I opened up a connection to the device I’d planted. I didn’t know where it was at, or if it had been disconnected. So I guess, to be more accurate, the connection was just to the bomb I’d planted. There, in 10 seconds that loose end will be tied up. “Alright, got that taken care of.”

So after a brief conversation in which Max teased that my next big terrifying act would be to destroy all deodorant in the country, I settled down while people lost their shit outside. TVs were being imported and bought as fast as anyone could grab them, like Black Friday horribly wrong. The police were even less effective at stopping crimes because the precincts had to either go on break while they cleaned themselves and their gear, or go out while the criminals could smell them coming a mile away. Forcelight was looking all over for me, but she didn’t know a thing about the city or its hiding spots, or about the people in this ratty old building that were more than willing to hide Tupac in their basement. All in all, not a bad round of violence. I have a bag of valuable loot from the pawn shop, a bit more publicity, and one tiny regret: I didn’t buy any stock in consumer electronics companies before I started knocking televisions out of commission. And I settled in, catching the news, entertaining myself, and doing a lot of reading on the nice, wholesome world wide web.

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Reality Check 7

When we last left off, I was eagerly awaiting my foes while stringing up traps in a TV station. They would attack, I would smite them, so on and so forth.

That’s what you’d expect, but we were all wrong. I began to suspect as much as the hours passed without even a siren. At the very least the police would be legally obligated to storm the place.

Nope.

Moai, Ricky, and I just sat there all night long. That was not real fun. Moai, my companion of late, is not real talkative. Ricky, some guy I don’t know and don’t care to know, is.

There were computers, though, but that’s not so fun with this guy insisting that you HAVE to play one of his favorite games. Some piece of shit browser game that screws your graphics up and can’t be won unless you’re dropping real money into it. It was bad enough it was called Legacy of Heroes, but apparently they’ve created a game so horribly balanced, players have gotten used to opponents being able to play 5 to 12 times as many cards as they are allowed to. To each his own, I guess. Some people play games because they have no sense of quality and want something to throw their money at futilely. I play a few because they are fun and there is a sense of accomplishment. You know, if you spend days on end working to become a big enough badass, the game doesn’t squash you by giving a regular street punk an unfair advantage.

Ah well, just something to pencil in the next time I go after scum sucking asswipes.

No games and fun that night. Next day, we all wake about noon. It’s then that I forced Ricky to find me a radio. There had to be some sort of news out there. Oh boy was there.

Blackoutfest.

Due to a certain handsome and devious supervillain’s plan, the city didn’t have their TV or their dancing with washed up famous people or their watching of that show “Shitting on Musicians Who Actually Pay Dues” so the Honky Tonk Hero and Gorilla Awesome were inviting everyone to Beale Street to have a good time with an impromptu music festival.

If I didn’t know better, I’d think these guys had some intelligence. They were luring me out. It’s obvious they didn’t want to take a chance walking into a spot that I had time to fortify when they have no clue what to expect. Too bad for them that as long as I’m involved, they’ll never know what to expect.

So Moai and I left in order to go deal with a couple of smartass heroes and their smartass plan. We didn’t go straight to where my enemies waited. No, instead I made my way to that pawn shop, the one from whatever that show was called. Assholes Ripping You Off With Sex Name To Catch Dumb Pervs. Something like that. Yes, I returned to the scene of the crime. The classic “first mistake you make” as a criminal, except everyone already knows I wrecked the place the first time. That time I wasn’t in a bad mood, though.

Didn’t bother with the door this time. Threw myself through the window. Tripped up a mannequin showing off an old white Zoot suit. A security guy in their dark, semi-button up shirt, drew a gun, but I grabbed the mannequin I landed on and smacked him with it. He dropped the gun, then he held up his arms to shield himself. Then he fell back down as I continued. Eventually he stopped moving at all. Took longer to beat him to death with a mannequin than I thought it would. Must be the suit. That’s a lot of fabric. Next time I hit someone with a fake person, I’ll make sure they’re naked first. That’s sound advice for living. Go ahead, try that sentence out next time you’re asked a profound question like “What is the meaning of life?” or “Why do good things happen to bad people?”

The suit looked better with a little blood on it too.

The place was good as new. Shelves with gleaming appliances. The katana hanging back on the wall behind the counter. Same old security guards for the most part, but just a little bit smarter from the way they were cowering with everyone else around.

There was that girl behind the counter, some one as before. Same screaming as before. Grabbed her by the back of the head and shoved her face into the cash register. “You are a three dollar moron dealing with a hundred dollar badass. Let’s make some change,” I told her as I punched in the transaction using her head. Just for good measure, the drawer shot out, smacked her in the throat, and shut her up.

Don’t think too hard on that three dollar moron and making change bit. I don’t know why I said that, but it sounded great.

Somebody tapped me on the shoulder and I turned around to find a husky Indian woman with red, white, and blue hair. “Excuse me sir, can I get my money from the register? The man there bought my priceless gold thong of the god Shiva made for a Rajput king.”

I don’t believe she understood the full meaning of the actions I had just performed to another human being. “How much do you need?”

She shook her head, “I made $400. It is good, a lot of American dollars.”

I looked for the man she had talked about, pretty sure I’d seen something out of my peripheral vision. Scrammed through the door to the back already, most likely. He unscrammed in a hurry, backed up through that door again by Moai, who had stealthily snuck in the rear of the dwelling with a giant hockey mask on. I just looked at the rotund fellow skeptically and tilted my head towards the Indian woman who was happily collecting her pittance. He shrugged, then moved the fingers of his right hand closer to me, palm up. I rolled my eyes, shook my head, cracked my fingers, looked at him, and raised my eyebrow. He sighed, resignedly, and punched himself in the balls. He sank to the floor, holding his painfully vibrating sack.

They say that what goes around comes around. Whenever the day comes that I’m faced with the penance for all my ball shots, I may have to consider castration.

Done putting up with any resistance, I looked around at the store and held out a hand toward Moai, who had brought the duffle bags. “Alright, Mo, let’s fill our sacks.”

I bring up Beale Street a lot as if it’s the center of Memphis. Some people wonder about the pyramid, other people figure there’s got to be a good business district. There are some good places near Beale Street, but at the end of the day, it’s the fixture people care about. It has bars and stages and shops for tourists. It’s not too far from that fancy hotel with the ducks that walk to the fountain and I think the Orpheum is a bit further along the place. Parts of it are closed off from driving as well, so that the acrobats that do flips don’t have to worry about dodging cars. I think that would add to their tips, but that’s me.

And yes, given all the stages set up along it and the Beale Street Music Fest held every year, it is the ideal choice for a huge crowd of people to get drunk and have fun without television. A guy like me can sneak up on it easy. Even easier if I’m “delivering” a Moai statue to the local voodoo store. It’s one of those tourist places as far as most people are concerned. It doesn’t work as a hideaway, though. The thing that opens the doors to it is very much against letting people in who are the subject of hot pursuit.

It was late afternoon when I got there and was making my move. Honky Tonk Hero was on stage, starting on “An American Trilogy” with Gorilla Awesome sitting behind the drums, useless during the song’s opening. People crowded around, watching, or buying merchandise from tables, or just swigging beer out of red plastic cups. There were a lot fewer drinking than I’d have thought, actually.

I can get that they’d want to lure me out, but what I can’t understand is why they think they can take me, and why they’d risk this crowd of people. I had a hunch though. I mean, part of my disguise was a big hump on my back. I also had a suspicion. It was a sneaking suspicion, but I caught it because I know a little more than most people about deceiving people.

I saw an overly enthusiastic fan break away from deeper in the crowd around the stage and calm down a little before heading into a bar, looking around, and heading off to a dark and smelly corner of the place.

I feigned stopping to enjoy the music to wait on the person to get back. When he did so, I maneuvered myself into his path as he stepped out the door so that he knocked into me. “Woopth, thorry thir,” I thaid.

He raised his hands up in a placative gesture and continued on. I did as well, pushing my Moai along with one hand while flipping open the man’s wallet in the other. Yep, a badge. Distracted, I didn’t avoid a woman in a sundress that went from pink to a soft blue down the length of it. She spilled her purse and I stopped to help her, “Tho thorry, madam. Let me help with that.”

She smiled at, “Thank you, it was just an accident though, so don’t feel bad.”

Too nice of a response. I felt around a little as I helped her put stuff back into her purse and found another badge. After I finished helping the undercover police officer, I took my Moai down a back alley next to the voodoo shop. There, I loosened up the bungee cords that tied him to the dolly and stripped off the jacket I was wearing so I could undo the straps under my shirt. My hump, my hump, my lovely lethal lump fell out the back, a duffle bag full of whatever I wanted to hit the heroes with. Moai and I were in position and ready to go. Just a few dozen extra enemies in my way, but I’ve never had a problem handling more sweaty men than I can shake my stick at.

 

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Reality Check 5

Friday was National Rob a Trucker Day. I declared it this morning, seeing as I got everything back but my tricky little belt. I guess I can see why they’d buy it for protection, though I’m offended at the notion that someone might try to use my stuff for anything other than offense.

I put a lot of work into being offensive. I assure you, the chicken grenade was meant to be a weapon of great terror and offensive capability, unleashed on my enemies and leaving them quacking in fear! Woops, I meant quaking in fear. Quacking in fear has more to do with this amphibious version I’ve been working up, duck grenades. I’m even considering a holiday version with a chicken grenade inside a duck grenade inside a turkey grenade. Best part is, I could just put some lipstick on them and sell them to the Russians as Matryoshka grenades.

Well, that may not work. If the internet is any indication, they certainly know what women look like in Eastern Europe. Ooh! I got it! The Middle East! The way the women are covered up over there, they’ll never notice the difference. Then again, they won’t notice much difference if things explode too. You know, I wonder if those are linked in some way. Has anyone ever tested the explosive possibilities of blue balls? I need to get up with Max about that.

I’ll admit, I’m not entirely sure how effective chicken grenades are in the middle of the road. I just realized I haven’t studied the effects of releasing them into the wilds of traffic like that.

And traffic was indeed wild today. I sped in and out of it, even oncoming traffic, to get to where I was going. Just me and my Moai on my scooter, with a sidecar attached. It took me a couple of tries to adjust to that sidecar, by the way. It ramped up a minivan and then had a head-on collision with a Smart Car. The sidecar’s fine, by the way. Smart Car looks like it needs to be reinflated though.
I guess I should make the point a bit more clear that things do happen in between these incidents I write about. I just didn’t think you wanted a whole big wall of text about having some remote homing program drive my Minstrel cycle to me. I also had to hunt down which truck driver the morons had given my belt to, which became surprisingly easy when they made it really clear to any random fan calling in. They’ve been watching the other shows I’ve made my “guest spots” on and the ratings were up.

It was always only a matter of time before the reality TV people got into the snuff business, I suppose.

Either way, I caught up to the semi and load in question. It was an all-white trailer with a cab that was blue with red flames. Original. I zipped up on the passenger side and used my armor to project myself as a clown. With the scooter on autopilot, I stood up and punched through the window, unlocked the door, and let myself.

I just sat there, quiet, staring ahead like nothing had happened. The driver had cussed but afterward kept quiet, just watching me. Couldn’t get the sense of his height, but he was older, a bit of a potbelly. He had a baseball cap on and a big brown beard with a little white running through it. He had my belt on around his waist. Stiffly, he turned to his driving, perhaps hoping nothing bad would happen as long as he didn’t acknowledge me. I was getting to him though. I could feel it. You don’t just have a silent clown break into your truck in the middle of driving and not get gotten to.

It seemed like a lot longer time, but finally, shaking, he turned to me and began to say something. I immediately interrupted him by shoving my face right in his and going, “Who you callin’ a psycho?!”

At which point he jumped and swerved us too far to the left, crashing into a mailbox and into the front of a car parked on the curb.

That went well. With the driver out and us stopped, I had the cycle stop and come back around to us. If you’re wondering how, I do actually have a network set up. That’s right, when I say I have connections, I mean I have stuff built in to the synthetic memory I have shoved in there. Remember, only actual power involves integrating with technology I can touch. Might as well use it to give me mental internet access should I desire.

All the assholes out there poisoning your worldwide information network, I don’t often desire to connect that way except for very special purposes. Except maybe the porn.

I dumped the driver in some old lady’s petunia garden in front of her house and took my belt back. I heard Moai get the back door of the thing so I stepped out there too to see what we had just hijacked. The trailer wasn’t nearly fully. Just a few boxes marked “Munitions” and “Property of the U.S. Government”. I looked over at Moai.

“Alright, might have ourselves a little bit of a payday. Here, catch,” I said, and tossed a few boxes back at him. I didn’t hear any of them hit the ground. Then I got out and closed the door as best as I could with the lock smashed in.

When I turned around, there was the Moai, the boxes stacked neatly on his head. I rolled my eyes, not like he could see, then wondered if I should create something that shows my eyes rolling on my visor whenever I did so. Not a good time for that, I thought. “Stow those in the cycle. I’m going to take the whole truck, but more than likely I’m gonna wind up blowing the whole mess up.” The Moai nodded and hopped over to the cycle.

I made for the cab, but there was that darn wrecked car in the way. Nothing one of my exploding throwing knives can’t move out of the way. Except in the belt was not one of my more recent standardized knives. Nope. Instead there was a switchblade with a grenade duct taped to the handle. Huh. I mostly used machetes with grenades on them, but I DID experiment with other types. The ballistic knife with the grenade attached to the handle was particularly disastrous.

I walked over to the car’s rear right tire, jabbed the blade into it, and pulled the pin. Then the running started. A rude driver in the right lane slowed down just to honk and give me the middle finger. The explosion shut her up. Also, it threw a car on her.

Sometimes I wish I could throw cars at people. Sigh.

Well, everything was all clear for me to make a getaway with the truck. As usual, though, my clean getaway was halted by a gorilla.

I was heading for a building in a bad part of town where I could unload the stuff when I saw Gorilla Awesome in the rear view a ways back but roaring up from behind on his jetpack. Damn that awesome gorilla and his awesome jetpack!

“Moai,” I spoke over the combination radio/communications suite on the scooter, “I need you to drive this thing.” No sooner had I said it than he crashed through the passenger side door. That left me to remote pilot the scooter as well, but I could do that with both arms tied behind my back. I know that from experience. Either way, I want it around for the weapons I’ve built into the thing. “Good, take the wheel, and buckle up for safety,” I said as I threw open the door and crawled up on the cab.

Wish I’d done a more thorough inventory of this belt now. Let’s see. Nanite injector. Giant ceramic cherry with a fuse for a stem. Jar of dead hornets. Um, woops? What about where I keep the knives…Swiss army knife with frag grenade marked as property of Swiss army and ah HA! Yes, an older model of my laser potato peeler! Probably crappier on the energy use, but it doesn’t matter now. Some people swear by the versatility of the sonic screwdriver, but most people fail to note the offensive capabilities of your average potato peeler. And then I put a laser in it!

Ah shit, just took a laser to my eye. They always say you’ll go blind if you play with them, but wait a minute, that came from Gorilla Awesome! Yep, he was firing his wrist mounted laser, trying to be mindful of hitting anything other than me. See, that’s why heroes just can’t have fun. I rolled forward for no good reason, dropped the clown disguise that I’d forgotten all about, and let loose. Trees on the opposite side of the road were seared through and even caught fire as I adjusted my aim and brought the beam to Gorilla Awesome’s wrist laser just as he took steady aim and fired. In two bright flashes, both of our lasers were gone. That silverbacked bastard!

I stuck the broken remains of my potato peeler back in my belt and reached for the Swiss army knife, intending to make good use of the can opener, but he fired the grappling hook at me. It caught me on the chest, so I figured I was about to open his can after all, but instead it stayed taut and lit up along the length of it. I tried to peel it off, but the lit portion reached me and electricity ran through my armor.

Let me tell you, being electrocuted is not fun. I suppose it’s better than being immolated, but even getting devoured, hung, or tarred and feathered feels more comfortable. No word yet on being drawn and quartered. Everything tenses up and you taste everything all coppery in your mouth and your teeth feel like they’re rattling and your pubic hair stands straight up on end for a whole day afterward. I’m serious, looks like I’m having 70s night at the party in my pants.

It all stopped when I directed my scooter to hit the nitrous, pop a wheelie, ramp off the rear of a mini, and smash the sidecar into Gorilla Awesome’s awesome jetpack. Gorilla Awesome had to let it go as he fell and grabbed onto the side of the trailer with one hand. The scooter landed and skid on its side toward me, the mangled wreckage of the sidecar hanging over it. I stepped over and pulled out the jar of dead hornets as he grasped at the smooth metal of the trailer. “And now I unleash the bees! Bees what? Bees nuts!” screamed out over the rushing wind, horns, and sirens, then brought the glass jar down on his hand. The breaking glass stabbed into his hands, but he also went to flap at what he was sure would be an insect assault. To his credit, a Beetle did slam into him when he hit the ground.

I crawled up to the cab and hung out over the driver’s side window, “Take us home, Moai.” The Moai nodded, the trucker’s baseball cap stretched over its head now, and rubbed its back against the seat, causing the music player to start up on the song “Convoy”.

And that’s how you get away with robbing a semi while being chased by a hyper intelligent talking gorilla with a jetpack. Simple.

 

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Reality Check 2

It’s been busy the past few days. Sunday, I paid a visit to the Back Alley Beale Street Voodoo Bar. Good place. To get there, you have to go to the Voodoo store on Beale Street and head around back. Make sure you’ve brought some good liquor for the doorman. I brought him rum, as I always do. Hopped down the steps and left the bottle next to a man-sized chalk drawing of a guy with a tophat. I turned away for a second so neither was in view and heard the ordinary metal door’s lock click for me. Me being me, I couldn’t resist turning around to see the chalk drawing now sitting in a chair, bottle raised to its mouth, with the rum missing from where I set it. I egged him on for a second with “Chug, chug, chug, chug!” but he didn’t move while I was watching. As I opened the door and walked in, I heard laughter echo from thin air.

The bar was bathed in dark blue light. At times, the walls shimmered, like crystals, with occasional white lights flashing into place randomly or chasing each other through the walls and ceiling. Masks of various cultures decorated the walls. Don’t ask me to explain the lights. These eyes of mine aren’t just whited out. They provide me with what you call augmented reality and a nifty little HUD. I’m thinking about adding a picture of the front of my face in one area that looks around constantly and gets bloodier as more things hit me. Anyway, this nifty system is helpful for identifying people, but it has a huge problem here. Can’t identify very much if I ask it to, and especially not those lights. Magic, man.

The bartender looked like a woman. I say looked because I’ve seen all types stand behind that bar and each one had the same tics and habits. That and you can’t see her eyes or the eyes of any other bartender. They always seem to be just a little too shadowed in this lighting, though something gleams from back there. I told her I needed a man who could find some people for me. She directed me to a booth where man sat, looking around at the place and sipping a beer. As I approached, he snapped his fingers and a small glowing orb of light appeared to better light his booth.

“Not used to the lighting?” I asked as I neared.

He shook his head. “Not a problem is it?“

I slid into the opposite seat, “Probably not. Say, I needed someone to find me some people and the barkeep seems to think you are some guy for that.”

“That I am. Name’s Harry Kiri. Now who are you looking for, stranger?”

“None stranger than me. Call me Psycho Gecko. I’m looking for the crew of the TV show Storage Genocide. Apparently these people worth hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars go around buying the stuff from poor people who can’t afford to keep the storage unit paid up. I can’t wait for them to make a show about people who snatch candy from babies. Anyway, you find me those guys and you’ll also find yourself with some more money.”

While I had been talking, he pulled out a scrap of paper and began to draw something. A magical incantation, ritual symbols, I couldn’t tell. When he held it up, it turned out to be the name and address of another self storage place in town, “They’ll be editing on Monday, but Tuesday you can find them here.”

“Oh, you’re good. And fast. I expected you to do some fancy hand gestures at least,” I told him as I took the scrap of paper.

“I actually watch the show. That’s why I want one last episode before you do whatever you do to them,” he said.

“Oh. Ok then. That was easy,” I said.

“And the money? I don’t see a briefcase or a sack or anything on you?”

“It’s rude to look for a man’s sack. But here,” I tossed a prepaid credit card to him. “Ta da, the wonders of technology.” That’s no measly $25 or $50 either.

“Ah, that was also easy.”

I left then, intent on killing some time. First, however, I decided to ask around to see if there was anybody who could give me a fun little surprise for my reality TV debut. I found a conjurer, or perhaps it was a sorcerer or shaman. Anyway, she helped me put together a little something on short notice.

I wasted the rest of the day hanging around Beale Street, listening to the musicians, watching the street performers, and making sure I wasn’t recognized when the Honky Tonk Hero flew by overhead in his rhinestone-studded white jumpsuit, pulled along by his glowing guitar.

On Tuesday, I got to the place early. The staff was a teeny bit uncooperative about which lockers were being bid on, but the guy came around after the 14th swirly in the toilet. I personally think my clever and frustrated use of the plunger is what brought him around. I also made him fully aware I’d drag him to a portapotty for another round of swirlies if he warned anyone I was there.

He promptly quit his job.

I got my surprise magical guest into position and made sure he knew the code phrase. When the crew finally got there, I was coming around to walk up from the same direction they had come.

“Greetings, y’all! You’ll all be happy to know that stealing a supervillain’s stuff is about to get you higher ratings! Now, anyone want to tell me what happened to my gear before I have to get my boots covered in ass?”

This one bald guy who was a little thick didn’t take me seriously. He and some of the other guys who wanted to seem hard stood up to me, “You think you can take us on? You don’t even have your power costume, idiot.”

“I don’t need one. I take care of all of you without even getting my hands dirty.”

“Oh yeah?” asked baldy.

“Oh yeaaaaaah!” I said, prompting a crashing noise from the unit we were all in front of. They turned to look as a Moai burst through the door to the unit. It rocked from side to side to move forward, scattering them. I hit the button on a music player strapped to its back, so it chased them to the tune of Peter Tosh’s “Walking Razor,” because I could only come up with reggae as appropriate Moai chasing music. I don’t know, maybe Spanish would have been better?

Anyway, the Moai chased off the buyers while I grabbed hold of a man and woman who seemed to be the hosts. A panicky and loud lot, I’ll give them that. “Alright, folks, come here. You had your chance to be nice and civilized about this, but like someone eating fast food tacos, you’ve made a decision that will obliterate your anus.” I threw the guy against the warped door of the unit and reached in for whatever was close at hand.

“Wait, they sold it!” The guy shouted at me as he saw me pull out a kayak.

“You don’t have to do this!” The woman joined in the conversation. I began to hum that little la la, lalala la Smurf song because there was nothing good on TV last night and that happened to be on. I hate when that happens. A real pet peeve, you know. Not the end of the world, by any means, but I should never be tempted to watch History Channel’s “Secrets of the Nazi Alien Sex Experiments” just because movie channels can’t play good movies. Ah well, back to the matter at hand. I brushed off my hands and let the grunting man sink to the ground as best as he could. He couldn’t really bend so much at that point.

I looked over to the woman who so helpfully volunteered information before. She blurted out, “They took it to Triple X Dirty Pawn!”

“Hmm. Odd name for a shop,” I said, grabbing hold of her shoulder with one hand and reaching into the locker with the other. “Let’s see…nope, can’t use that. Too skinny. Too slick. Woops, whatever that was was alive. Ah, here we go.” I pulled out a vase full of plastic petunias.

“It’s a pawn shop reality show,” said the woman in my grip, then added in a smaller voice, “Please don’t hurt me.”

I was about to tell her it goes a little easier if you’re going commando, but a roar cut me off.

I let her go and ran to the nearest lane between the rows so I could work my way around to the source of the roar. What I found was a gorilla in a jet pack fighting my Moai. The gorilla just full on bitchslapped the Moai, but my Moai came right back at him with headbutt. Considering that he is just part of a torso and a giant head, the Moai’s options for attack are limited. The gorilla had to brace himself against the ground after the blow, and thus I was spotted.

“You!” he said. Or just grunted to sound enough like “you” for me to interpret it as such. Nope, my mind wasn’t messing with me. He followed up with “You defiled my home, you cad!”

“Is this about the zoo?” I asked as I threw the vase at him.

“Yes. I had put my life of violence behind me, but now I, Gorilla Awesome, will avenge your despicable intrusion into my peaceful existence!” He raised his left hand, which was covered in a metal gauntlet. A grappling hook fire from on top of it, no doubt to grapple with me. I kicked that shit to the side. He then raised his other hand, a thick metal armband on his forearm. A barrel rose out of the top and fired a laser at me. It singed my shoulder pretty bad, but I threw myself back out of the way.

Before Gorilla Awesome could correct his aim, the Moai dropped on top of him. Awesome’s head smacked the pavement and he was so out cold so bad, you’d think he was a gay eskimo.

“Good boy, Moai. Come, let’s away!” I said and ran over to my magically animated minion, hopping on top of his large stone head to be carried off, rocking back and forth to the sounds of Peter Tosh. Now I just have to hunt down a pawn shop in another reality show.

On the plus side, there’s bound to be power tools and someone who could use a Three-Speed Adjustable Craftsman Enema.

 

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