Tag Archives: Honky Tonk Hero

AvPG: FUBAR FTW 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“We brought help,” Max answered.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Easy as blowing up fish in a barrel.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Arete in Destruction 9, the Grand Finale

The end is nigh and here I am. But that’s getting ahead of myself. I’d better explain how I reached this apocalyptic time on the Empyre State Building staring down a pissed-off bunch of heroes without any way to fight back.

I had been mostly ready for this endgame when I said I would be. I didn’t intend to drag things out even though I wasn’t completely ready for them. For one thing, I hadn’t come up with some unique counter for Forcelight, Honky Tonk Hero, or Mecha Human Sloth. As the heavy hitters of the group, I’d wanted some specific way to take them down that didn’t involve revealing a certain built-in trump card I’ve been saving up. Never did get myself any allies. Just me, Moai, and Carl.

But that comes later. Let’s start at the beginning of the end.

First, I trashed the Museum of Modern Art. Stole a few valuable pieces for Michelangelo to sell through the improper channels, but I kept one or two with me. I figured it would coax Dame out at last.

I figured right. I woke up to her trying to steal my shit again. Yes, it was Marilyn Monroe on my wall, but it was done by Andy Warhol, not Playboy. The Playboy stuff would be worth more. At least she didn’t touch my Starry Night by Van Gogh the Earless Wonder. When she saw me sit upright, she phased and ran for the wall. I ran after her and sent the signal to her device to render her solid again but it didn’t work. “Found a way out of my reach, have you?”

She was running along the dance floor of the former club for the front door when she became solid again just to answer me. “I guess you aren’t the only one with a mind for gadgets. You should have had two contingency plans!”

There was a thud as she passed by a front counter near the coat check. Dame fell back on the ground with a groan. The canvas she was carrying slid along the floor before stopping.

“How about a man swinging a car battery?” I asked as Carl stepped over her and laid the battery down on her chest. Moai jumped out over the bar and rolled upright, wearing a black ninja outfit. I think he was trying to strike a pose.

“Hey, Moai, take that off. It looks ridiculous. Everyone knows ninjas would have worn something like dark blue to blend in at night if they wore that kind of thing. Damn glad to have you on the job, though.”

I gave him a thumbs up. Now, this was not, as some might suspect, an attempt to foster a rivalry. Moai serving as backup was indeed a legitimate necessity. I’m not sure if he has an ego, but that shit gets in the way of what’s necessary often enough. If I’m fighting a hero who knocks me on my ass, puts a pink tutu on me, dips me in horse manure, he can laugh all he wants as long as I’m the person who walks away from the fight without my head ripped off and shoved up the horse’s ass. Laugh it up, deadhead.

I had Dame in my company, though, so I had to keep the horse asses to a minimum with her around. She’s a lady, you know. She’s like a female knight to British people. That doesn’t mean I didn’t take her bracelet or bangle or whatever you call the mirrored doohickey with the phase technology hidden inside it.

I was hoping to get a hold of this.

For her, it’s a defensive measure. That could get…interesting…if I were to use it that way. Possibly suicidal as well. My physiology, which made me so easy to cling to when Dame was trapped in an ethereal state, wouldn’t react well to it, I think. I knew I could weaponize it, especially if I made copies. I just didn’t have time for that. A regrettable casualty of my need to expedite my plans. Still, it was a good idea for handling Forcelight or Honky Tonk Hero.

At least I’d had time to fix up the Heatflasher. Hell, I improved on it and found a nice way to handle my heat problem.

Moai and Carl got Dame chained down to a chair while I slipped into my armor. Good old chains. I like using them because they’re so much more difficult to get away from than ropes. Luckily, as skilled as she was, Dame wasn’t good enough to wiggle loose of these babies. And, since the Chastity5000 was buy one, get one when I tied up Venus, I had a spare for Dame. Still, she struggled, even tearing at her black bodysuit in places.

“Now calm down, Damey wamey,” I told her. “I’m not going to hurt you. In fact, I technically haven’t hurt you so far. That was Carl. Say hi, Carl.”

Carl raised his hand and gave her a small wave, “Hiya.”

“Thanks Carl. So, Dame, time for the explanation about what’s going on. I promised someone, made a deal actually, that I was going to drop my grudge against you, wouldn’t kill you, wouldn’t pursue you at all, even said you’d be untouchable to me. So far, I have not touched you, nor am I doing this because of a grudge. In fact, this wouldn’t have happened if you had decided to not find me once again to steal back stolen artwork once again. Predictability is not a good quality in thieves. There’s a reason for the phrase ‘thick as thieves’ and it doesn’t involve your bodily figure. Don’t worry. No matter what, you’re going to live. Or at least I have no plans on killing you. You’re just going to be my bait to get Venus and her friends to join the field of battle.”

“Why do you think that matters?”

I played a certain audio clip of Venus’s voice: “It was Dame. She told us all where you were hiding. She and I had some common ground and she gave me a picture of your latest face.”

“You really ought to pick better friends,” I told her, then leaned closer. “You know, you and I could be better friends sometime.”

She headbutted me. It hurt her more than it hurt me, but I think she was trying to make a point about my chances being less than or equal to a punitive flaming underworld afterlife reaching freezing point. I pointed my finger at her, “That was entirely on you and does not constitute me touching or hurting you.”

“Why does that matter?” she groaned.

I turned away from her as I spoke. “Because, so long as I make a deal and try to keep it, then I will try to keep it. At least until something more important comes up or the other party reneges on their part. I like the idea. You see it in fairy tales, you know? A neutral or good person makes a deal with a party, usually a darker force. A sea witch or a voodoo bocor…or is that houngan…either way, a voodoo guy. The hero gets stipulations, something he or she wanted or thought they wanted…good reason to read a contract, by the way…and if they dare break their end of it, there is hell to pay. But I feel I’m monologuing again and I should note that Moai may get a tad homicidal if you actually manage to escape.”

Moai hopped closer to Dame. Via my 360 degree view on the helmet, I could see she’d started to move an elbow further than it should go. Moai dropped a heavy gold chain with an old-fashioned ticking clock around her neck.

“Thanks, Moai, that ought to hold her,” I said with a nod. True, I was facing away, but Moai knew what I meant.

“Won’t matter to Venus. You haven’t been listening at the right doors.”

I didn’t turn. Instead, I raised my arm up so I could point a finger at her over my shoulder. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“No one’s seen her ever since that bank was blown up, and the rumor is that she didn’t get out of there before the place was given a volatile redecoration. There’s been no word of her from the heroes and no sightings of her on patrol. Nothing in hospitals about someone matching her description. I think your unrequited love interest is dead.”

That didn’t seem right. It actually gave me pause for a moment.

“I doubt that. Heroes are pesky like that, and she’s peskier than normal. She’s got to be alive. Since when do chains and a bomb kill a superhero?”

“Maybe you should ask someone when you get back from sailing down denial.”

“Sailing up the Nile. Moai, right foot.”

Moai got in the way of my view of Dame as he slid a stiletto heel made of cement onto her foot and closed the iron manacle set into the top of it. She had had something metal gripped between her toes. Such a clingy suit allows greater articulation, like hiding tools in unusual places. In this case, hiding something around the foot, and bringing it to bear with the toes.

“Well, either way my dear Dame, they should be informed that you were their source for that raid on me. That means you still make a wonderful hostage for my plan.”

It was the next day when the plan went into action. The Heatflasher appeared once more in the skies over New York and circumcised the Empyre State Building. I crashed it into the observation deck and melted my way through supports in order to tip it to one side. The elevator dinged, then opened to reveal Carl and Moai carrying Dame, a TV camera, and some very important equipment for the ‘Flasher. They dumped Dame, who was now wearing quite a heavy outfit made up of cement shoes, hammer pants stapled together, balls and chains around her wrists, the heavy gold chain and clock around her neck, and a football helmet that wasn’t for a New York team.

Carl then turned and tossed something into the elevator he left, even as panicked civilians crowded past to escape. The doors closed and then a muffled blast blew up past them. The doors didn’t blow out, but they popped out toward us. The same went for other elevators. Might as well have a captive audience for what was about to happen.

With the floor and Dame secured and the guys setting up in what we figured were safe spots, I took to the air again. It wasn’t easy cutting through the building like that. I had to angle things just right so the upper floors, like 20 or something, slid off to crash on the streets and smaller buildings below.

The observatory level was finally open air. I settled the ‘Flasher at one corner of it and cooled my jets. Well, my rockets. And the barrel, too. I had to shut it down long enough for me to slip a little something onto the end of the barrel and tighten it up. Connect some hoses, that sort of thing. When I lit that mother up again, the new section on the end of the barrel glowed a brilliant yellow-white, like the sun.

An invisible heat ray may be one amazing, powerful thing, but I realized that if I was going to do this from atop a building, I’d need some way to keep it from dissipating to a warm breeze against the smaller buildings around. In fact, if I wanted to threaten the whole city, I’d need something like a miniature sun.

Well, the power source, a design from my own dimension, ought to be able to sustain it. If not, we’ll still see a lot of destruction and possibly a city rendered unlivable.

“For all those in attendance and the millions watching at home,” I spoke aloud and turned toward the assembled hostages, a number of whom had their phones out to record video of the occasion, “I have been hounded day after day, month after month, and this has gone on too long. Just think, without heroes coming after me, you’d have had a blown up Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island, as opposed to that messy spectacle in the city. What a danger they’ve become to you, your saviors. I’m here today for two reasons. Reason one: I want to make it perfectly clear to everyone that if you escalate against the great and devious Psycho Gecko, then I will take you to a land of hurt that you will not enjoy. Ooh yeah, I’ll tear your soul out and cast it down to an Abaddon of anguish that will make the heavens weep blood in heartrending sympathy for your unending abomination of an existence, and you will know what it’s like to drown in my bloodlust, to starve, to thirst, to pray to whatever deities you hold dearest in life…and not die.”

You could hear a pin drop. Burn the city down? Hell, I just chewed half of it up.

I sat down at the Heatflasher.

“What’s the other reason?” said a shaky voice. I turned to him and cranked up the volume on my suit’s speakers.

“To end this feud of ours, once and for all. Ahahahahaha!”

And that’s when the firing began. The Heatflasher took longer to fire this time, with the extended barrel glowing more yellowish in color. Suddenly, a glowing orange-yellow beam shot was just there out the barrel and poking through several office buildings. When I shifted the aim around, it sliced through streets and cars like they weren’t even there. Fires spread and ash flew. Steam rose as well from flash boiled water. Admittedly, it didn’t spread the heat around quite as well, but as the guy sitting on the machine doing all this, I was grateful for the ingenious bit of gadgetry that was pumping plasma into the landscape rather than all around me.

Boom! There went a meth lab. Sizzle! A butcher’s shop. Scramble! A semi full of eggs. Pop! A popcorn packing plant! When you’re lighting up the cops, the fun never stops.

I stopped firing and turned back around. I saw Carl and Moai getting me on camera. There was a very lucky news show in the city who just realized that the camera stolen while reporting on a cockfighting ring was giving them one hell of an exclusive.

“Hello out there in TV land, viewers. A very special hello to our heroes. Without their constant pressure, I doubt I’d have ever found myself in this position,” I said genially. I was having a good time at least. I got up and held my hand out to the area I’d burned in the distance. “This is fun. This is what I do when a team of heroes chases me day in and day out.” I then guided the camera around toward the people, including the bound Dame. “And these are people who are going to die. Including this little lady here, she’s a thief who knows the heroes a little bit. I don’t know why I brought her along now that I realize it was a busy day, but I figured it would add that special touch and really drive it home that air strikes on the observation deck are not a good idea.”

Yeah, Dame’s value was diminished somewhat by the good turnout, but it was still better than having her free and joining up with the heroes who had an ass-whooping in mind. The more the merrier, anyway.

And while it seemed counterintuitive to make sure the heroes were needed elsewhere but had to come here, that was also nice. Tear them in half using their heroic intentions. Plus, other heroes who have no business interfering will probably be down there instead of up here dealing with the guy who keeps defacing landmarks. I took the whole head off; you can’t argue Lady Liberty wasn’t defaced.

Still, I waited for them. And waited. And got impatient. And jumped back onto the ‘Flasher to burn this city like a disco inferno but Forcelight was there in all her glory to try and catch it. See, this is where something invisible works better than something putting off light. But, to my great delight, even she could hold up only briefly under the onslaught. I saw her duck out of the way, unable to hold back the destructive beam of plasma any longer.

Instead, Honky Tonk Hero swooped down at me from the side and tried to give me an el kabong right to the skull. He got me some, but I rolled with it. Could have sworn I felt things shaking, actually.

Honky Tonk lowered himself right in front of me and grabbed me by the neck. “Someone should have put you down long ago. You should have been taken out back as a child and drowned.”

It’s not like I was going to feel bad about this anyway.

I raised a hand slowly and pointed down for him to see the diamond and mirror bangle of Dame stuck in his pocket. He didn’t know what it was, but he grabbed for it with his other hand. I headbutted him in the eye, then threw a classic Elvis pseudo-martial arts punch to his throat. It got me out of his grip long enough for me to remotely activate the phase device. He dropped it a moment later, but it was too late. With Honky Tonk suddenly insubstantial, the wind was quick to push him away from the building. With the device no longer touching his body, I brought it back, nice and solid.

There was that shaking again, though. I looked over the edge of the building and saw Mecha Human Sloth climbing his way up. Where’s a gorilla when you need one? Oh, wait. I realized he had Gorilla Awesome, Troubleshooter, Mechamoto Musashi, Apollo, and Paveman clinging to his back. He must have been on a sugar rush from marshmallow cleanup duty.

“Okay, I need a volunteer…” I said and drifted off as I turned around. Moai and Carl were filming everything, but the crowd of hostages was gone. In their place was Raggedy Man. He knelt beside Dame, trying to help her out of the chains. I didn’t know how the hell he got up there. I’d torn the roof off. Not for him, just for fun, but still. “Yo, dawgs. Seize him and stuff. You know, if it’s convenient.” Moai followed my finger and went after Raggedy Man, who dove behind a column and disappeared into the shadows cast behind it. Huh. A mystery solved.

Still one massive mystery left: how to take out the giant robot superhero boyfriend mutant human-sloth guy whose girlfriend I apparently killed. I was already behind, though. I almost died from adjective poisoning.

My solution was one I didn’t want to use, as I’ve said before. The grey goo protocol. Not completely grey goo, though. They build themselves like crazy, but they still break down fairly quickly and don’t self repair. There’s a limit, in other words. I pulled out syringes of nanites and jabbed them into myself. As many as I could, save for one last one. Just in case.

I sent a signal to the first ones to link to me. It activated a program that involved spreading the activation to the others inside me. They then forced themselves out of me any way they could. Nose, mouth, ears, skin pores. They moved under my suit toward my right hand. I unsealed the glove and slipped it off. Shimmery grey liquid covered my hand and bulked up as more nanites joined those assembled. My hand formed into a liquid metal claw.

I looked for Mecha Human Sloth again. He was right under the edge where the Heatflasher rested. He grabbed it with one claw and pulled himself up with the other, sending my machine of mass destruction plummeting. He jumped and did a forward flip, landing on his feet and letting the ground-based heroes off. Gorilla Awesome and Troubleshooter had separated from him when he was in midair. Awesome hovered, but Troubleshooter lowered herself to the ground.

Couldn’t let them all come after me at once. I gave Human Sloth the “come here” motion with my nanite-covered hand.

“Alright, big fellow, let’s have us a little revenge versus wrath, shall we?”

He roared and charged. I cackled and jumped. My claw dug into him like he wasn’t even there. There was no armor. There was no flesh underneath. Just me hanging onto his collar, elbow deep in his chest. “Wait a minute, spread to the sides, there’s something I want,” I said to myself. The nanites dispersed, eating through Mecha Human Sloth. I grabbed a souvenir. When I pulled my hand out, his giant, inhuman heart came with it.

As he fell, though, I was greeted by a pretty horrible sight. Carl was held above the floor by his pants and underwear by one of Troubleshooter’s backpack waldo arms at an angle that showed his ass. There was no sign of Moai, but Gorilla Awesome was braced against the edge holding something up by his grappling hook.

Oh, and there were more heroes standing there. Black Raptor. Bright Star. Miss Tycism. Venus. Well. Shit.

“Tricky tricky heroes. My compliments on it, but it’s my turn,” I told them all, then vanished. They just stood there, holding their line.

That didn’t seem right. I projected bursts of light and four more of me stepping out of the explosions, laughing and holding swords.

No reaction.

Invisible, I walked right up to Miss Tycism and poked my hand through her. Hologram. Raptor was right next to her, so I tested him too. Turns out Raptor was not right next to her. I looked up and saw Troubleshooter looking harried and trying to program something on a keyboard attached to her multi-purpose backpack that just sat there on its tripod legs, trying to make my own eyes lie to me.

When I reappeared, it was right behind her, tearing at what I thought looked like important cables. I was right. Her backpack’s various tools and arms and gadgets stopped their moving, their whirling, their whizzing, and even their whirring.

Troubleshooter gave me a look full of incredulous shit when she realized I had her figured and helpless within arms reach. I’d have acted on it, but something kicked me from behind and nearly sent me off the building.

The cameras revealed a most unwelcome sight. The holograms were gone alright. All except for Venus. She was too busy trying to axe kick my neck to worry about how someone said she was dead.

I was off balance from her initial surprise, but I blocked that. Vulnerable position to be in, and I don’t just mean her and the axe kick. Mechamoto and Apollo crowded in while Paveman held Carl in a bear hug. I grabbed Venus and held her between myself and Mechamoto. Apollo’s hands gripped me from behind. Rather than start some slashfic material here, they smashed in my visor and reached in. He tore my helmet off me. I instinctively cranked the jumper in my left leg up and drove my foot back at crotch level. My tibia snapped.

I grabbed a fish stink grenade hanging off my belt and swiped aside Mechamoto’s sword as he circled and tried to find a way to more easily strike me without Venus in our way. He was distracted as a hole in the floor opened up under Paveman, causing Carl and Paveman to fall to the next floor down.

While he wasn’t focused on me, I armed the fish and chucked it at his head. He noticed it at the last minute and brought his sword up. It burst just as it touched his blade, enveloping him in a horrible stink.

I dragged Venus by her still-raised leg back toward me and parallel to the edge of the skyscraper to give me room. With my free hand, she and I traded and blocked blows, at least until I charged it up. Then I took a step in her direction and dumped her on the ground.

This felt familiar to me. I stepped forward and released Venus to the ground, but she wasn’t Venus anymore.

She was the woman I’d gotten involved with back on my world. We had argued, and that turned into an actual, physical fight. She didn’t want me to blow up the Dimensional Bomb, of all things. I grabbed her by the throat. A blade came out at me from nowhere, but I backhanded it. The energy built up in my glove released through the impact and snapped the blade. I used that hand to pummel her face again and again. She couldn’t understand either. None of them could. For them, it was a fight to be first if humanity wouldn’t allow them to be equals. I just hated this stupid world for all it had done to me.

“There is no place for me. They made me and refused to take responsibility for me. I tried to get over what I did, but none of them ever let me leave it behind. I was the government’s mistake, the Justice Rangers’ foe, the people’s great fear of us writ large. I’m done with their system and all their pettiness.”

I stood and pointed behind me. “I’d rather have my own system that means using this D-Bomb and taking us all out than see these hypocrites live. It’s on a strict timer, too. As soon as it drops to 0, that’s it.”

She kipped up, jumped, wrapped her legs around my neck, then back flipped. Where the fuck did she learn to do that? I fell to the ground and something cracked in my neck with a great pain. I lost feeling in everything below my neck as I settled in an odd position. Didn’t know my head could turn that far under the rest of my body. Couldn’t see anything though. Where the hell was I?

People talked nearby, a pair of voices, male and female.

“You alright?”

“Yeah.”

“I saw his eyes. It’s like he doesn’t know what’s going on.”

“I know. There is no bomb, so he’s talking about things that aren’t there. He’s talking in a weird accent, too.”

Something rolled me over. A gorilla. It talked. “He’s still alive, but I would be careful of moving him. My initial prognosis, and I’m not a medical doctor mind you, is that he has broken a cervical vertebra,” he said.

“No, we’re not,” one of the voices, a female, said to nobody in particular. “I don’t care, Gunman. Don’t start that Lone Gunman crap with me either. He’s out of the fight. I don’t care how big a rifle it is, I’m not going to let you shoot his heart out and watch him die.”

More people seemed to be showing up as the gorilla examined me. I had some odd urge to tell him to get his paws off me because he was damned and dirty.

One of these strange people climbed out of the floor, “They’re down there somewhere. Waiting to try and save him, I reckon. What, we won this one?”

The gorilla was pushed aside by a man made of marble who hauled on my arm, got underneath it, and lifted me to my feet. I still didn’t have that good of a view because of how my head drooped over. “I’m with Lone Gunman on this one. Take the shot,” said my manhandler.

“No!” ordered a glowing woman in white and black tights as she landed. “We can’t do that.”

“Why, because we’re better than that? He killed your father!” Apollo said with voice raised. Sensitive to that sort of thing?

“Yes, I know there’s nothing most of us would love to do more right now than give him an execution, but we can’t just yet. You hear me, Gunman? Stand down.”

Venus spoke up. “You can’t be serious Aneta.” Right, Forcelight’s civilian name.

“I am.”

“About killing him?” Venus questioned the team’s powerhouse.

“Your boyfriend looks like a flock of vultures ate him for a buffet. He’s goo and bones! You were willing to stand there when that happened to stop him, but you won’t go the rest of the way? Venus, after everything he’s done, why wouldn’t you kill him?” Forcelight made her case for my death.

“Because as bad as this all is, as much as I want to set him on fire and beat his head in with a brick, I’m not going to start acting just like him! You really want to do things his way? If so, then he’s your future.”

There was silence. This was all good and dramatic, but I still couldn’t see shit.

“Moot point at the moment, anyway. Is he unconscious?”

“Paralyzed.”

Marble hands grabbed my head and nodded it for me.

“Good. You know I’ve been meeting with that Good Doctor man. I figured I’d at least hear what he has to claim about me. If it’s a trick, he tricked Gecko there too. He warned me about doing anything rash if we got our hands on him.”

The man holding me up, whose name was just on the tip of my tongue, gave an exasperated sigh. “Why?”

“Because whatever powered that laser, and I don’t know how stable it is, but whatever did that and didn’t show any signs of running low, he’s got one in his chest. The Doctor’s seen it in there. That’s why we never found a reactor or a battery. If Gunman puts holes in him, he might get it too. If we start doing things to him, that thing might go up and take this whole building with it, at least.”

“More like the whole block,” said Troubleshooter.

At least if Doc’s ratting me out, he’s saying things that are keeping these assholes from killing me. Trust me, the great and devious Psycho Gecko makes damn sure his personal reactor isn’t going up the first time I crack my head.

Yeah, I’m back from Lala land, aka the land that time forgot and would prefer to not think about, and activating the transmitter and receivers I’d set up for just this situation once upon a time. We’re up to that point I mentioned earlier, about facing off against heroes with no way to fight back. My present tense. So I can feel again and move again. The question is how do I move out of here?

“Y’all need to shut up already,” says Raggedy Man as he approaches with the phase bangle in his hand. “Someone’s got you on camera right now. Everyone watching the news just heard everything you said about executing a guy!”

Times like these, I love my minions.

Raggedy Man lifts my other arm to take the weight off Apollo. “And for God’s sake, he broke his neck and you’re dancing him around like a puppet? Do you know what people think of you right now?”

My arm shoots out, not quite as naturally as it normally would, and grabs the bangle while I stumble forward out of the grasp of the surprised heroes. “Yeah, they think the camera adds 10 lbs…in the testicles. Especially you, Venus.”

“Another trick,” one of them says accusingly. If only they knew. Hell, I’d rather they didn’t. I’d much rather I knew what I was about to do, because my options for escape look nonexistent. Except if I try the unthinkable. Ah hell, it’s worked for me so far.

I activate the phase mechanism and everything loses its color, its substance. It’s like a drawing that the artist hasn’t colored in. I look down to see what all it had done to my armor and find it warping as my body expands, pushing out against it. Adverse reaction to my current state and the power core in my chest that’s filling me with energy now. Fist-sized holes appear in my armor, but do nothing to hurt me or even move me. I glance back along their trajectories to a lower skyscraper. Lone Gunman, the lost lil Holdout. He finally gets his shot, but I’m immune to bullets when it happens.

Defiant, I tear at the holes, pulling the chest portion of my armor apart. Looking down at my chest, I see the reactor isn’t fully phased. It pumps energy along my bio-technological nerves. My brain, my cybernetic enhancements, my armor. They connect to everything my power works on.

I’m pretty much an energy being. The generator lost containment and is filling my ethereal form with energy, enough that I maintain cohesion and even tear through my own armor with ease. The heroes grow smaller and smaller. Forcelight raises her non-smoking arm, the one that isn’t hanging limp by her side, and starts concentrating light to try and hit me or shoot me. I throw a punch at her and she releases early to try and meet it.

She goes flying.

Cool as fuck.

Hey, that just halted my growth for a moment, but I’m back to expanding now. Anyone else got the image of a balloon filled to bursting in their heads right about now?

I hope Moai and Carl are running like hell by now. I turn and tiptoe to a support beam that I’d sheared off above my head. It’s now significantly below that. No need to pay attention to the puny heroes any more. They are no threat.

There’s a more important threat I have to deal with. I need to lose a lot of energy in a hurry, then deactivate this device. I raise my arm up and bring my fist down with everything I have on the support that runs deeper into the building.

The floor, and my size, fall sharply. So do the next floor and the next after that, and so on. There’s dust everywhere and I’m lost in the middle of the collapse, falling and landing and getting landed on. I can’t see or hear anyone else, but I feel like I’m about the right size.

No way am I changing back right now, but –

***Connection lost. Archiving transmission. Preparing transfer. Transfer complete.***

***Waiting for connection***

 

Next

Previous

Arete in Destruction 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I flushed the toilet, triggering the remote.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moai didn’t move.

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

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

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

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

“Hey Gex. What’s up?”

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

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

Who else do I have in my contacts…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next

Previous

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.

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Previous

Two Tickets to Paradise 7

When we left off last, there had been a sudden knock at my door. I answered the door to find that there was a package for me. It was my ass! Then it was handed to me.

Ok, so it was more like I got hit with a big hammer, was surrounded by a group of powerful heroes, and had to escape the quick way down the side of a building, but you see how good you feel after your ass is hammered.

Thanks to Miss Tycism, I spent quite awhile in bad shape. Which reminds me, while I was being driven around, I had an idea. Receivers linked to nerves lower in my spine. That way, if I break a neck, I can just use a network to control my body. That’ll be perfect, once I get my stuff back.

Yeah…that’s another thing. Moai kept me on the move for about a day afterward while I mended. We tried checking the motel, but they were already there. Moai had to prop a door open so I could watch as those Peace agents crawled over it with a squad of Shieldwall capes nearby. They carried out my tools, my nanites, all of it. It was such a horrible sight and I just couldn’t stand it. I had to lay down because of the paralysis and broken spine.

I had more broken bones in me than the winner of the Miss Kegel Bodybuilding Competition.

I found a place to hide, though. Somewhere a man can lay down near a giant Moai with the lights too dim to make out his face. That place was the champagne room of a bar named Babes where the women are really friendly and like to dance on stage for money. It was win/win. I got a safe place to stay, and who doesn’t want to put young women through college?

Like Miranda here. She grew up in a state without a good education system, without clean water, and with too much fast food to eat. Sometimes she doesn’t even have enough clothes to keep herself covered. For just $80 a day, you can help Miranda pursue a college degree and make something of herself. Won’t you give to a needy stripper today?

Besides, the more women go into stripping, the less chance one of them will put on a costume and punch me in the face.

Thanks to Moai’s skills at breaking into electronics stores and the help of a couple of dancers’ nimble hands, I was able to get my suit in good enough working order. It helps that I get a better sense of its how its doing when I slip it on and get all melded to it. I lost some gear in the fall too. I still have some chicken grenades, my potato peeler, and my ballistic knife. We lost Mr. 2nd Degree Burns though. I sent Moai out to raid a seafood restaurant so I could put together some more stink bombs. I’ve made one out of catfish before, but that was my first time working with mullet. Yes, I said mullet. It’s not just the name of a hairstyle.

From there, Moai and I needed to get a sense of what was going on. The radio in the SUV provided a little context to our situation. Shieldwall arrived out of nowhere and began busting heads. They hammered away at illegal enterprises and even the police were starting to come around and assist. The city’s villains had gone silent and the few heroes had been emboldened, fighting alongside Shieldwall. Hell, it was daytime. That alone would make most people stop fighting around here.

I almost feel like somehow I created the monster that is Shieldwall. They’ve taken stalking to a new level. Now, like anyone who created a monster, the steps to go through are running from them, cockblocking them, becoming depressed, then chasing them around to kill them after they murder my wife who was also my sister. It’s a basic plan as laid out in that Frankenstein book by that guy, what’s his name, the scientist. Victor.

The radio didn’t have a whole lot to tell me and I was flying blind, so I went to pay Torrent a visit.

Had I been anyone other than myself, that would have been a bad idea. There were cars there, but no one to greet me. I let myself and Moai in to find the place unresponsive as well, up until we turned a corner into the kitchen. There I found a squad of Asian men in suits, except for one squat fellow without the shirt and jacket on. He and the taller, thinner man next to him were the only unarmed ones out of the bunch.

See, this is why you don’t leave old sake laying out. You forget about and go somewhere, next thing you know you’ve got a Yakuza infestation skittering around your kitchen.

The ones with the guns, Uzis this time as opposed to the mini versions, spread out behind cover to get firing arcs without their friends in them. Of the other two, the thinner guy raised his hands. The middle of his palms had what looked like giant blisters. They opened and a tentacle speared out of each. Moai threw himself in front of me. There was a fleshy twang as they impacted the hard stone and found no give at all.

A crystal flew at Moai and chipped a piece off him. It held itself there in midair, then flew back to join with the shoulder of the shirtless Yakuza. He launched another from his cheek. It broke off like he was a porcelain figure or something. The flesh-covered crystal was aimed right at Moai’s head, but I swatted it aside with a minimal charge to my glove. Instead of shatter, it curved and flew back to the Yakuza.

While I was busy with that, the tentacle guy had wrapped those fleshy lengths around my legs. The Yakuza guy broke into nothing but shards and flew at me, one at a time. I dodged some. Hitting them away didn’t work. They stuck there, jagged edges stabbing into the air or into my armor, then shifted slightly and reformed into the Yakuza. He smiled down at me as I was in a bent over position from trying to dodge.

I wiped that smile off his face by uppercutting him in the balls. He let out a groan. “Looks like those shatter.” Moai jumped and bellyflopped onto the tentacles against the ground. The tall gangster began to shriek. I didn’t think he could get louder but he proved me wrong as Moai began to roll along the length of the tentacles like rolling up a toothpaste tube. The tentacles’ grip around my calves and ankles let up and I drove my knee into this shard guy’s nut sack. I then threw him onto the countertop and slammed my elbow into his crotch. There was a nice chrome toaster nearby. Grabbed it, threw it into the guy’s nuts. I heard them open fire on Moai, but didn’t worry about it as I turned the Yakuza toward me, spread his legs, jumped, and landed a giant headbutt between them with a giant crack as the countertop underneath the Japanese gangster cracked. After that, all I heard was the gurgle of the man. When I looked up, tentacle dude was pulling himself and a broken leg over the sink to get away, dragging flattened tentacles behind him. A few of the Yakuza had bloody foreheads and scrambled to stand back up as others moved to help tentacle guy or just get out of the way.

“Whoa now, hold up guys,” I said, holding out my hands, “Before anyone gets too beat up to speak, I just want to ask something. Where can we find Torrent? If y’all don’t know the answer to that one, would any of you mind telling me where Ouroboros’s casino is?”

The unpowered gangsters glanced at their fallen members with superpowers and exchanged a look.

Twenty minutes later, Moai and I pulled up outside the casino, which was in the middle of some remodeling. Torrent drove up from another direction and stepped out of his hummer to look at the site before us. One of Shieldwall’s jets hovered overhead with a cable and hook which they must have used to transport the giant robot that tore the place apart. That show “This Old House” has gone hardcore. It was taller than the doors would permit, so at least 9 feet. It had the reverse-style legs to it, like a bird, and arms that ended in three-digit claws. Clumsy, hydraulic-based stuff, like a skeleton or an unarmored exoskeleton. Except for the torso, that is. The torso could have been something I had thrown together if all I cared about was size. Armor plates with bands of armor to help deflect and funnel attacks fitted to a torso shape with a little bend allowed in how the upper and lower torso fitted together. The head of the thing had eyes that glowed red and a fanged mouth open in a roar.

It was busy throwing things at Ouroboros’s security, who were abandoning rifles and pulling out the light machine guns. I saw a man run out with two RPGs, dodge a slot machine thrown at him, and toss one launcher to a friend. They both fired. One blew apart a slot machine and an explosion sent coins flying everywhere. The other hit underneath the thing’s left shoulder. When the smoke cleared, the armor was scorched, but still solid. The arm above it was locked.

“Hey Torrent, think your guys are going to need a hand?” I called to the guy I was planning on setting up later.

“You think you’ll get paid for Raptor if the boss is arrested?”

“I think you and your guys will stop him in anyway, but it’ll take longer.”

“I’ll talk to the boss about a bonus if you help kick them out. The heroes are 10 minutes out hitting the Cartel. Our reinforcements will be here in 10.”

Moai and I shut our doors at the same time and began to walk across the street toward the robot. It had good range of vision too. It picked us up about halfway across and turned to look right at me.

Then it charged, throwing plants and chairs all over the place. A doorframe crumpled underfoot as it ran for me. I hit the stealth and left a hologram in my place as I got out of its path. It threw a punch that Moai leapt in front of, but Torrent jumped even in front of Moai. The punch connected with Torrent’s chest and Torrent bulged. It was like a massive wave of excess mass ran over his body before concentrating in his fist. He didn’t go flying or land on his ass or anything. The only way he budged after taking something full-power from the robot was when he took a step forward and slammed his huge fist into its midsection. As he did so, it became normal size again. It was the robot’s turn to stumble back, which worked for me. I got behind its legs, grabbed one, and threw it up even higher as it attempted to catch its balance. It fell on its back.

I revealed myself then. The robot sat upright suddenly. They must have programmed me as a priority target. It reached for me. If it wanted me, then the robot got what it wanted. Moai had come up right behind me. I grabbed him and swung, knocking its arm away with the bottom of the statue. As he, or maybe she as I never bothered to ask, landed, I was then picked up and swung the same way. My boots knocked its head to the side.

Torrent stepped in front of us once again, ready for another round. That was good, because when Moai set me down, I was too busy stumbling and rubbing at my poor achy shins. Before we could break off another piece of the robot, the jet maneuvered closer. Aside from showing off the size of the pilot’s sack, it brought the hook just over the robot. It grabbed the hook and the jet lifted, pulling it off the ground and away from us.

Torrent immediately began ordering the security staff around.

When another jet flew in with Shieldwall’s heroes sliding on a cable to the ground or taking aerial positions, they found the casino’s entrance fortified with trashed games. Behind that were security staff in riot gear with machine guns and RPGs. Behind them were Torrent, Moai, Ouroboros, and myself. They may have risked it, but more people began to arrive. A woman in a white cloak and hood held a white scythe in one hand and skated along the street on ice she generated from her other hand. A man in sweatshirt and baggy jeans holding a pair of spray cans walked up from another street. His mask was a bandana with holes cut in it. As he came across a car blocking his path, he sprayed at the hood. The paint condensed into a cloud and flew at the car, knocking it around and out of his way.

We all waited, the heroes eyeing us. It was the mother of all staring contests, except I didn’t know whose glare to return. I killed Forcelight’s adopted father, I blew Venus’s boyfriend into chunky bits, I gassed Honky Tonk Hero’s city, and I pantsed Miss Tycism. I hurt the other heroes there, but those were the ones keeping their eyes on me.

After an intense few minutes, they began to withdraw down a street where the jet could drop a ladder to the non-flyers it was picking up.

I climbed up the barricade and hollered after them, “Yeah, that’s what I thought! Now you fucked up! You have fucked up now! You brought an awful lot of ugly people out here to do nothing but sit around looking pretty! You know what the difference between you and your momma is? When she sucks this hard, she expects me to pay her afterward. That’s right, all your mommas!”

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Previous

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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Previous

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 4

I got all prepared for that cake show. Seems like it’s just a bakery having to make an assload of cakes. Nothing where people eagerly watch to see themselves get ripped off. They just aren’t as important as my stuff. It’s like Carlin said, your shit is stuff and their stuff is shit. Which, if you think about it, gives an interesting new meaning to the food called stuffing. I’ll make sure to remind y’all all about that one come Thanksgiving or Christmas. Those are good holidays for eating stuffing until you’re stuffed and then stuffing up the toilet bowl. Which isn’t the same thing as what’s on TV with the football players nailing each other, bringing each other down to the ground. You know, full body contact with other sweaty men, televised, just in time for some guy on a news channel somewhere to act baffled that some of these men, who are checking out the man upfield to see if he’s open, might prefer the unfairer sex.

Needless to say, I always keep a loaded weapon close at hand at large meals. In some cases, said weapon was someone else’s hand. That damn mac and cheese is MINE!

Where were we? Oh yes, the cake show. Can’t have a cake show without cakes. Me, I wheeled up with my own supply of cakes. Yep, a variety of little cake robots. Buzzsaw cakes, exploding cakes, flamethrower candle cakes.

I was all set up to unleash my glorious cake rebellion upon the frosted heretics of whatever ridiculous reality show they had with a name reminiscent of sex. I found the place ok. Brick building. There was a sign for Caking Orgasms, the show, but a smaller one than I expected.

This time, my assault began from behind. I parked in the oddly-popular rear loading area. I knocked on the door, fully suited up, but with the illusion of normalcy upon me. Just, less metaphorically than most people.

You Freudian bastards.

My invasion of the autonomous baked goods was halted, however, by the guy at the door who declared that “I’m to tell everyone this, but we’ve been watching what’s going on. If you’re actually the supervillain, we’d ask that you please come in and get your stuff. But please, until you prove you’re the right guy, we’re not letting you in.” He pointed over to a few groups of loitering people that I hadn’t looked closely at before. Some were in civilian clothes, some were in makeshift costumes. There was even what looked like a midget dressed as a duck. I say midget because it’s the term I’m most used to. Dwarf doesn’t sound right. Too much like a fantasy critter, though I expect most of them would like that. Well, not the women. You know how dwarven women are about their beards, so that’s some unpleasant implications there.

So I’m there in a bit of a dilemma, unsure what to call midgets, when I dropped the illusion and unleashed the robots upon the unsuspecting masses, mwahahahaha! It was great. This guy in a bull costume was smoking, but those blackened lungs were exercised at a bad time as a cake with candles all over the top spewed fire at him. He really shouldn’t smoke around all those people, but you can’t help it so much when your face is on fire. A guy dressed up in some weird uniform that said “Black Mesa” was set upon by a cake that hopped 8 feet into the air and landed on his head. He’s not going to be happy about the woodchipper in that one. Whew, glad he didn’t have a boner. That wood would not take a chipping kindly. How much wood would a woodchipper chip if a woodchipper chipped your woody?

The Moai hopped out of the back of the truck when they were done, Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar On Me” blasting from it. I adjusted the giant poofy chef’s hat on its head, then turned to the guy at the door.

“Come on in,” he said, and held the door open. Finally, about time I get some respect around here. I walked in and the Moai ducked its head to follow. The doorman actually showed me to a table with my machines set beside it. One was a large, gunmetal grey elliptical container with a panel on the front portion, which is where it swings open at. I ran my hands over it, checking it for damage, then popped it open. Everything seemed ok. There was where I put the suit, and the multitude of small, tool-equipped arms capable of repairing damaged portions of my armor. Incredibly useful for upgrades and it can throw together a new suit entirely given enough time.

The other was a shorter cylinder, about big enough to shove a human head in, as I know from practice. By the way, it might be inferred that I like large cylindrical objects based on how much I use them. All I can tell you on that front is that sometimes a cigar is just a penis. I mean a cigar! That was just a Freudian tongue slip over my cylinder. That line of conversation is over! Gah, this talking is hard, too long, and just gives me a throbbing headache. Anyway, that’s the nanite generator, in that it generates my regenerative nanites. I need more word variety.

Needless to say, such delicate tasks take some time and nom materials like it’s nobody’s business.

A pair of men approached with carts, “Is it ok if we get this loaded up for you?”

“Sure, go ahead. I’m not really used to someone being reasonable. While we’re at it, anyone know why they wanted this stuff?” I pulled a chair out at the table and sat. And motioned to my Moai to take one too. I turned back to the workers. They looked bug-eyed past me to the Moai as wood scraped over the cement floor. Civilians, you know? They act like they’d never seen a limbless magic Moai pull out a chair before.

“Uh, one of them got this crazy idea using the little tank to make a cake with real small layers of frosting or something,” Said the chunkier of the two, a fellow with a soul patch.

His buddy was taller and thinner and spoke up then, “Yeah, get this? The pawn shop guy made them buy these as a package deal. He heard some nutjo- I mean you were going after some stolen supervillain stuff. Guess no one was crazy enough to buy the suit.”

“Yes, you must be this crazy to wear this suit,” I said, trying to sound ominous and failing hard from the looks of the guys. Tell the truth, my mind was busy at the time. I was aglow with whirling, transient nodes of thought careening through a cosmic vapor of inventions. Sometimes I just get lost like that and a blender suddenly becomes a pressurized liquid food spewer. It’s kind of like when people forget birth control and 9 months later out pops a pressurized liquid food spewer.

The fat man dressed up with a top hat got my attention though. I guess they were serious with that blurb about trying to be a rock and roll cake experience. Behind him were some women carrying a cake replica of my helmet on it in grey and orange frosting. They set it down on the table in front of me along with a small plate and some utensils.

“Mr. Gecko,” the man said “or Psycho Gecko, whatever you prefer. I’m the owner here. Allow me to offer my apologies and this token of our good intentions in returning your property.” The bakers set the cake on the table and carved me out a large slice. “We hope this will prevent any unfortunate violence from breaking out and destroying the place,” he said. I think. I had unclasped my helmet and was uvula deep in my slice of cake, so I might have misheard a word.

I was as caught off guard as any of them when Honky Tonk Hero, this time in a powder blue jumpsuit with a fringed minicape, blasted in the wall and marched in, a mess of destroyed cakebots left behind him outside the building. “In the name of the King, I demand to know what travesty has been wrought here!”

Dammit, doesn’t that guy know how much I…scuse me, this cake is good. Mmm. Oh yeah, baby, that’s the frosting I like. What was I even…oh yeah, robots. Actually, I just grabbed a bunch of those little fighting robots they build, like from Battle Bots and Robot Wars, and stuck frosting and decorations on them.

That’s when the host walked right over, yanked his guitar away, and pointed to a chair at the table, “You, sit! You guys aren’t destroying my bakery today.” Would have been a good time to play AC/DC’s song about big balls.

So, our truce enforced by bakery’s rockin’ boss, Honky Tonk and I sat and had a bite of cake.

“So…how’s the family? Wife and kids or something?” I asked, making awkward small talk. He stiffened though. Guess there’s something offputting about a guy like me asking after your loved ones.

“…Good,” came his reluctant response. “While I have you here, I just wanna know, man, why you kill people left and right like you do?”

I shrugged, “Shit happens when you like to party with a loaded madman. Why’s that such a big deal, anyway? Don’t other villains kill plenty?”

“No, you horrendous hound dog. No one makes it a point as much as you do, and almost no one kills other supers.”

“That’s ridiculous. People blow up banks and skyscrapers and try to carve up the White House with space lasers but I’m the one killing too many people?”

“There aren’t many unnecessary civilian deaths at the White House and few actually succeed at that sort of thing,” he answered, glaring at me through his sunglasses.

“White House tour groups with old people and kids don’t count, eh? Whatever. So this is really because even after all that I pull, I still succeed? That’s got to suck. Ridiculous, cheesy guy like me. Fanboyish delight as I shout ‘This time the world will be mine!’ No matter how little you want to fear me, I’m the one filling the morgues and even if you capture me, it just looks like you stopped some old snack cake villain.” Lightbulb! I looked up at Honky Tonk, excited, “Hey, I got a great idea, work with me on this.”

45 minutes later, I flew though the wall into the parking lot, brick scattering all around me. I engaged in epic hand shaking at Honky Tonk and declared, “Curse you and your amazing cake, hero! We’ll meet again!”

Honky Tonk stepped out over the rubble, rubbing his fists, “And I’ll be there to stop you with the delicious might of Caking Orgasm’s next amazing creation. Only on Channel 3 after the 5 o’clock news.”

“Cut, that’s a wrap!”

I stood up and brushed myself off as Honky Tonk shot the cameraman a winning smile.

“Now!” I called out to the guys on the second story. More cakes, the show’s stale leftovers, rained down upon him. He was buried under all the cakes when I ran to the truck that roared to life. Good old Moai covering my escape. He was waiting for me in the back with the loaded up fabrication machines, so I hauled ass out of there while Honky Tonk was held up shooting another light-hearted commercial that I and the crew set up.

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Previous

Reality Check 3

Alright, lots of fun, had myself a good couple of days. First up, Gorilla Awesome didn’t manage to track me down again. Don’t know how he found me the first time, as I know little about gorilla physiology. I also don’t know a whole lot about advanced gorilla technology. I suppose I should take a more proactive role in discovering the secrets of this world. After all, if there is some sort of, I don’t know, hidden advanced society of talking gorilla geniuses, I owe it to myself to find it and steal their most vaunted of knowledge. They must have truly kickass shampoo.

You won’t believe how hard it is to keep a moving Moai hidden in the middle of a city, but you’d also not believe how little people want to see when it could be dangerous to them. There was this one time a cop asked about it, but I played dumb and slipped some money to a beggar. Did such a good job, the cop went on psychological leave and the beggar got a tip. I know he wanted a full cup, but something tells me a bottle works just as well when it’s Mad Dog 20/20.

But you didn’t show up here to read about me bribing a war veteran with liquor, now did you? You wanted to read about that, you could have looked in your own newspaper to find out how your royalty, your monarchy, those kings and queens elected and hereditary, were treating you sad sacks in real life.

You can probably tell by now I’m a little pumped. It was good times.

The good times started rolling when I had stepped through the door of the forgettable pawn shop that only got famous because someone put a TV show on them. Triple X Dirty Pawn or something like that. Tile floors, a counter on the far wall with display cases running alongside it and a door to the back nearby. Shelves of merchandise and furniture forming aisles. Right from the start, people sensed trouble. Maybe it was the smile. Do you ever smile when you’re about to really hurt someone? I do sometimes.

First up was the security guard near the door. Not your standard uniformed rental either, this guy was more like a bouncer. I didn’t have anything fancy on me to hit him with so instead I whipped a chain across his face and caught the end in my fingers, then give him a second taste with a punch. Why the chain? As you can tell from the way I chained the door closed with his throat caught in the chain, it was to prevent people getting away easily. Customers started to get all screamy like “Oh my god, I want to live!” You hear one mob of terrified people, you’ve heard them all, know what I mean?

Another guard bullrushed me as I got to the end of the aisle, slamming me into a bunch of shelves. I grabbed the nearest thing at hand, a DVD of Mary Poppins. Poppins, you fool, you were no help whatsoever! Neither was the DVD of The Man with the Golden Gun when I tried to chop the guy across the neck with it. A punch from him sent me to a little better area where I grabbed a blender and beat him across the face with it. I took advantage of the moment to plug in the blender and set it to mulch some vegetables which meant the guard’s following punch was an ill-timed maneuver on his part.

The guys behind the counter tried to make a break for it through the back. They found their way blocked by my magic Moai, who was sporting a giant balaclava over its head. Due to a slight spelling error, I nearly had a hell of a time at a bakery trying to find him a pasty that fit. This time I had him accompanied by the song “Bad Boys”.

Bad boys, bad boys, whatchu gonna do, whatchu gonna do when we come for you?

If you’re this one thicker dude with a leather jacket and receding hair, you apparently pull out some old katana hanging on the wall and come after me with it. I was hit or miss on the improvised weapons so far, so I slammed the blender into a darkened glass case near me. The man with his hand stopping up the blade screamed as it was also put through the glass. With all that whine, you’d think I hadn’t paid off the homeless man yet. I found something with a grip inside and whipped it out.

In my hand was a vibrator. I could work with that. Ladies.

I slapped the blade out of the way as he charged and threw the humming piece of metal and rubber straight into his eye. I grabbed the sword’s hilt with both hands, put my leg behind his, and threw him over, taking the sword away. He crawled back, trying to get away, but wound up right by “Fingers Mahoney” or whatever that guy was going to go by now.

Still, I maybe needed him. I only ran the sword through his jacket sleeve to pin him to the base of the display. Unfortunately for Fingers Mahoney, he was between the sleeve and the display. Congratulations, red shirt, you’ve been rendered Jewish. Lehaim!

The woman behind the counter was screaming her head off, so I tried to snap my fingers and failed but pointed to the woman anyway. A relatively gentle headbutt from my main man the Moai sent her sprawling over the counter.

“Who in the fuck are you and what the fuck do you want?” asked the guy with the receding hair below me.

“Me? I’m just someone looking for my stolen property. Power armor, some odd machinery, I doubt you have the scraps that were with it all though. Aside from that, I don’t give a fuck about your store…or the people in it,” I said, feeling a roll coming on, “I don’t give a fuck about you. I don’t give a fuck about this toaster here,” I grabbed a toaster off a shelf, “I don’t give a fuck about these gems,” I tossed the toaster through the glass of another display case. “I don’t give a fuck about your couch,” I jumped onto a couch for sale and stepped all over, “Seriously, fuck your couch!” I scraped my boots off on it then hopped down. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw someone approach, something in hand, so I stared intently at a microwave on a nearby shelf. “See this lovely piece of electronics? I could turn this into a weapon. It could be a heat ray or a death ray or a guy named T-Ray, but you know what?” I grabbed it and whirled around, smashing it on the head of the guy sneaking up on me. He was down, the gun falling out of his hand, “I don’t give a fuck! Hey buddy, the only way to stop an idiot with a gun is a competent guy with an appliance. Now, where was I?” I raised my hand up as if to read off the palm, “Oh right, speech about not presenting intercourse…”

“I don’t give a fuck about your employees,” I turned and slapped the waking woman laying on the counter across the face. She was out again, “Don’t give a fuck about your security,” I ran over and gave a particularly loud slap to the struggling guard chained to the door. Then I pointed at a shocked old woman nearby who was holding a yap dog in her hands, “I don’t even give a fuck about this old granny!” I stepped over to her and grabbed the Chihuahua out of her hands, “Hey granny!” Then I did my best impression of my favorite natural wonder, Slap Granny Falls. Well, it was more like Yip! Granny Falls with the dog in my hand. And just for good measure I threw the dog in the trash. “That dog? Don’t give a fuck.”

“What I do give a fuck about is my armor. I am death with a smile, I am the retroactive cause of your mother’s migraines, I am the puta punter,” I am a huge ham with lots of cheese, “I make nightmares wet the bed, and I will shatter your world with this leafblower if your will doesn’t get bent to my desires right now!”

“Jesus fucking Christ, already. The armor is in the safe in back. I can get you the keys.”

“No need. Moai, you know what to do!” I said to my faithful companion. It dipped forward and back to nod at me, then rotated and hopped into the back.

“What about the rest of it?”

“Ok, we sold the belt separate to these guys looking for a prop for their trucking show. Truck Your Mother. The rest of it, the machines that were like little factories, some cooking show, Christ, they bought those since they’re in town. They’re called Caking Orgasms.”

“You ever think that if you had a show that was really interesting, you guys on reality TV wouldn’t have to use porn names to get people to watch?”

Just then, a wail that could induce vomiting shattered the glass on the door, then the windows next to it, then everything made of glass in the shop in a line toward and past me. I didn’t care about covering up. Shards of glass bit into my face and drew blood, but I saw my enemy clearly as he stepped through a window with his blue suede shoes and the green jumpsuit with a sequin tiger on the back.

The Honky Tonk Hero had arrived, magic guitar in hand.

“You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog. Now it’s time to give it up. You can’t beat me, baby. The Honky Tonk Hero is here to take care of business, in a flash!” And he sounded exactly like you’re imagining. Well, not whichever one of you is thinking Scottish for some strange reason. Come on, man, have some dignity!

I threw the leafblower I was holding at him and then I grabbed the trashcan nearby and tossed that as well. He knocked the blower aside lazily with his guitar, then tipped his shades down to light the trashcan with heat vision. It caught fire with a yipping sound. The can itself fell away, leaving the burning yap dog to fall into Honky’s hands. The old lady woke up right around that time as well. Seeing the burning dog, she teared up and clutched at him. I made a run for the back, sliding over the counter and smacking the reawakening woman across the face again and causing her to remember to scream.

My suit and helmet came flying at me from the side. I caught both, turned, and saw Moai hopping towards me, a crushed and warped safe in the corner of the room. “Good going! Now let’s get before he puts out that spicy taco dog!”

And now, for my next impression, Jesse Owens.

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