Tag Archives: Hydroplane

I Got Clubbed 6

They got the whole city. It’s one big howdy neighbor lovefest around here! I don’t mean orgies in the streets, that I could handle. Everyone’s just so fucking…nice. People are holding doors, saying please and thank you. Hugging me. Groping me. Now I know what it’s like to be nothing but a piece of meat to everyone I pass by. It gets old fast when grannies on walkers are asking you to make an old woman happy one last time before they die.

One of them that tried it, I pointed off to the side and said, “Look, Elvis is back!” She got all happy and then I threw her under a bus passing by.

The driver stopped, shocked that the old lady has fallen under there, but I reassured him. “It’s the way she wanted to go,” I said while patting him on the shoulder. Then I felt something touching my ankle. It was the old lady’s hand.

“I don’t know. Ever since Breakdown enlightened the city, it’s been hard to imagine anyone committing suicide.”

I kicked the hand away, then slammed my boot at something soft under the bus. The arm went limp.

“Maybe it was something she thought of doing but couldn’t bring herself to try,” I suggested.

“I better call 911.”

“Good idea, but please, don’t look. It’s such a gruesome sight,” I told him.

The driver turned away as he pulled out his cellphone. “You’re right. Hello, 911…”

While he was on the phone with them, I turned and dropped down to look under the bus. The old lady was regaining consciousness again. I punched her a few more times to put her back out again. “Die you old bat! Things as old as you ought to blow away in the wind.”

“You say something?” asked the driver.

I turned toward him and brushed myself off. “Oh, just seeing to her. She’s definitely a goner. Hey, why don’t you make it easy on the cops and paramedics and back up the bus a little.”

“You think I should? Isn’t this a crime scene?”

“Has anyone been committing any crimes in the city lately? Go ahead. Back it up.”

“Oh, alright.” He jogged over to the door, got in, put the bus in gear, and backed it on up.

The old lady let out a moan as the front tires rolled over here. Damn, this old bitty was tough. What, did Hulk Hogan get a sex change here?

“What was that?” called the driver out the window.

“I said you can’t park back there after all. Something about a fire hydrant. Wouldn’t want to break the law now, would we?”

“No, I’ll pull up.”

He drove forward, bouncing over the old lady twice. That shut her up.

“Great job, that was perfect!” I called to the driver.

I got out of there before the cops arrived though, out of habit. I made it back to the Secret Lair without a problem though.

I closed the club for the duration of this little crisis. I’ve wondered if I should barricade it. It’s like living in a reverse zombie movie. Instead of wanting to eat my brains, people want to hug me or sex me up. That’s a different sort of way for people to spread the virus, I suppose. I’d just rather not catch anything they’d spread that way. Besides, the stuff making them do this isn’t a virus.

Empyreal City belonged to Breakdown now. The announcement had gone out like a press conference. He had all sorts of celebrities, heroes, diplomats, and other VIPs. They all loved him now. He even showed off this old retired superhero, Dr. Unity. He had been a super scientist best known for his research into how to create world peace. It had caused him all sorts of personal drama back in the day to deal with world conqueror’s who wanted to stop people from killing each other, but only because they would all be unified under a dictator’s rule.

The old man expressed his admiration of Breakdown doing what he couldn’t. Big PR victory for Breakdown.

The government had been forced to recognize that the city was temporarily controlled by a supervillain, one who ruled through love instead of fear. Machiavelli, eat your heart out. They kept recon drones flying overhead as best as they could in the weather, but it’s hard to send people in when the guy they’re after would have the entire population of a city on his side as hostages and supporters.

Some other powered people probably survived because of they had a filter or a mask or didn’t need to breathe, but they probably didn’t stick around too long after all this happened. He had also taken recently to airing a local commercial with my face, warning people to try to get me to drink up, but otherwise stay well away from me.

Thing is, Sexahol makes me a cuddly, sexy beast to those same people. I could probably brag about killing that old lady and someone doped on the love juice would want to give me a big snuggle.

I survived, though. Of course. As I once said long ago, even after the heroes have been beaten by some supervillain, there’s always another villain who doesn’t want to live under the other guy’s rule.

Moai stood guard just inside the club wearing one of those bronze Spartan helmets with the Mohawk-looking thing on it. “They’re still all sickeningly sweet out there.”

There wasn’t a lot to guard, really. It was a place for people to dance and work. Fuck ‘em. Not even that gas thing that Moai and I brought back from the warehouse was of much use, at least to them. I had hauled it back in case I needed to do something similar to what Breakdown did.

I’ll admit, even though it paints me in a good light, I worked on altering enough of my nanites to half-fill that gizmo of Breakdown’s. Adapting their programming to general medical use, as well as basic testing, has kept the remnants of Shieldwall from selling nanites for medical use all over the place. I didn’t have either problem. Even got a batch of general purpose nanites in there now set to react to living human and near-human organisms and clear them of this crap.

If I don’t set them to something nonspecific like that, then they do very bad things when encountering organisms that aren’t me or that don’t belong in my body.

I got what I had loaded into that mist mechanism to test it, counting on the extraneous fluid around the nanites to be dissolved into a cloud capable of counteracting what the pink clouds had done. I didn’t get a chance to test it, however.

Just then, there was a call on the giant screen. I climbed up on Moai and he hopped, allowing me to grab the upper floor and pull myself up. Moai went for the stairs while I rushed over to take my seat on the throne and bring the giant screen down.

Breakdown’s visage greeted me, covered with a gray domino mask that hid his eyes and had a large, stylized blue teardrop at the corner of his right eye. “Hello, my dear Psycho Gecko, hello. You’re looking well. Quite trim. Quite fit.”

“Hey Breakdown. You look like you could use a throat lozenge and an anal rapin’.”

“That’s no way to talk to the city’s regent,” he said in reference to an announcement he’d made to the world. Holding onto the United Nations after they’ve been all kinds of lovegassed gives you a lot of bargaining power, it turns out. “You should willingly bow before me and join my cause. You’re all alone in the city now. No friends left outside your toy soldier. No family that you ever speak of. Nobody who cares about you. You don’t have to live such an isolated life.”

“Blah blah blah. You sound just as bad as the people on your little Sexahol, you know that? Love this and care that. Oh no, Mr. Psychology wants to mess with me psychologically. Geez, you’d think a guy like me is used to being alone and friendless by now. Like I haven’t taken on a city before. Or have you forgotten that little stunt where I bitchslapped Lady Liberty and caught the city around the Empyre State Building in my own personal flame war. Don’t even bother, Achy Breaky Heart. You lost from the moment I knew you were trying to screw with my head.”

“I had hoped we could remain civil with one another and share a pleasant meal. Care to dine with me and discuss your place in my society.”

Now, about this time, my inner monologue decided to give me some advice about this. “Trap trap trap trap trap trap trap trap trap trap trap trap, see if he’ll pay.”

“Where did you have in mind? Hopefully somewhere fancy since you’re paying.”

He nodded. “I’ve heard Da Silvano is good. Celebrities eat there often. They will appreciate having the most famous person in the city around.”

“Thanks for the compliment, Breakdown. Also, thanks for paying for the entire meal. You know, I always knew that if I refused to work hard, lacked determination, and never did an honest day’s work in my life, my amateur porn career would make me famous. I do all my own butt bleaching, you know. It’s how I stand out. People get snow blindness staring at my ass long enough.”

“No, Gecko, I meant me, obviously. From what a little bird has told me, you don’t even have an amateur porn career. You’re not that famous, either. You have your exploits, but most people don’t treat terrorists like celebrities.”
I think I was getting to him through that friendly facade.

“Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey! That’s not true at all. Everybody knows that terrorism gets you the cover of Rolling Stone. You know, provided you’re an attractive terrorist with fangirls.”

“Do try to keep the fangirls at bay when we meet for dinner, Gecko. I’ll have them reserve us a table at seven o’clock.”

“Seven’s a good time. Can I bring my own wine?”

“As long as it’s real wine. Don’t bring anything that the hobos drink. I will see you at seven.”

He cut the transmission. The screen raised up to reveal Moai standing behind where it had been. “Good, Moai, did you hear that bit about us having a dinner reservation?”

He nodded.

“Alright, so here’s what we’re going to do. I’m going to fill a wine bottle with something that goes ‘boom’. You should go with me as backup. Go lock the door and do a quick sweep to make sure the traps are ready. I’m going to go see if we have any absinthe and nitroglycerin. Oh, yeah, and let’s see if we can lift this gas thingy way up out of reach of anyone who manages to get past the traps. I don’t need someone else trying to use these nanites to save the world instead of saving me.”

I won’t go into specifics about what I put in there, at least as much for the sake of the bar selling the drink as a secret recipe in the future, but it was at least stable enough for me to gun it and smash my car through the back rolling garage. With one remote, I armed the traps. With another, the replacement garage door began to close. Then we got our rears in gear and headed for the restaurant.

Moai stayed outside with the car until I knew what the situation was like. I was in full armor, too, so the last thing I needed was an actual meal. I’d have to take the helmet off for that, and then I’d have to wash the outside really well if ketchup got on it. At least it didn’t do as much to metal as it would to something tight.

Irrelevant though. As soon as I walked in, I could tell something was off about Breakdown. Same costume and same mask, but differences in body shape and face structure. They’d tried to get a lookalike in there. I pulled on the cork of the wine bottle and armed it. The man in the Breakdown costume figured out something was up as well. The chair he had sat in fell to the floor behind him as he rose to his feet and pulled a detonator of his own.

As I threw the bottle, I could make out something about, “For the one I love!”

Then the whole place went up and I took a small break while my mind tried to figure out how I got across the street and between a tree that had been broken in half.

Moai found me and helped me up and to the car in my dazed state. It was blurry at the time, but my recordings show that the restaurant itself was just gone. It looked like it had always been some sort of firepit surrounded by two buildings that had been mostly blown apart. I was too stunned physiologically to make much sense of the kind of firepower that meant at the time. I didn’t even get pissed at the dings and scratches on my car caused by shrapnel.

Unfortunately, as the shock wore off, it was replaced with pain and an awareness of more fluid in my pants than I remembered having down there. What must have happened, see, is I must have kept some water and some chocolate pudding mix down there, and the explosion broke open the water bottle, tossed it into the mix, and then heated it up enough to form what could only be pudding in that armor down there.

Yep, that sounds like a perfectly reasonable explanation.

I didn’t think too much on it at the time, though, because of the pain. I hadn’t been flash-fried, but blunt force has this nasty habit of doing a number on me despite wearing armor.

I had Moai lay across the front to drive us out of there before the cops closed down the area. They were already in place on the road he took us down, so he had to ram the car through a barricade while I groaned from where I laid in the backseat. The pain was still there, even if the damage was quickly going bye-bye courtesy of nanite packet quilting under some portions of the armor. See? That innovation in this new armor proved to be quite useful after all.

Instead of taking us right in, Moai stopped in the street. Curious, I sat up to find that The Secret Lair was open for business. People were lined up, and my bouncer, Terrance, was at the door, looking over everyone with his glowing blue eyes.

“Huh…well, Moai, let’s not sit out here all night groaning in pain. Looks like I have a bloodbath to tend to.”

I tried to throw up a hologram that I wasn’t in armor, but that was a major systems failure. Too many of the cameras and projectors had suffered damage. I was exposed. I had nothing to protect me but armor, extensive murder training, systems enabling super strength, localized energy projection around my hands and forearms, a massive bodyguard, and chocolate pudding that could be used to blind people.

I had Moai help me in to foster a false sense of “my ass done got blown the fuck up”.

Terrance looked me over and didn’t step out of the way. I thought my own guy was going to start something, but then he moved to the side and let me pass, like I’d met somebody else’s standards.

That somebody else was Breakdown, sitting in MY throne in MY hideout and perusing MY videos of anthropological studies of human mating on MY giant screen, with MY henchman standing by his side.

He stood up and clipped a microphone to his lapel. It carried his voice through the sound system as he spoke. “Well! I see dinner was well done, but not as well done as we’d have liked. You aren’t in any shape to fight. Tsk, tsk. Have a seat, Gecko. Just enjoy yourself. Find yourself a good woman to share the night with. You will find I am more competent at dealing with dissent, but I am more forgiving as well.”

“Not just yet, you tailorless dick!” I projected via my helmet’s speakers. “Get down here and die like a man!” It’s never been confirmed that Breakdown has powers, but he’s always been more of a psychological threat to people than a physical threat. Plus, I only looked injured. Twas merely a flesh wound. I was actually fit as a fluffy carnivorous bunny.

“Why do you insist on this lonely path, Gecko? Is it that abhorrent to find someone who will accept you for who you are and make you a better man? You can not honestly believe in your anarchy as a way to live. Even you want to be accepted. You want fame. Friends. Loved-ones. You want people to think of you as a hero. You want to be a part of the world with everyone else. You can be adored. You can have the irresponsible fling. The high school sweetheart. The dance of your life while staring into a beautiful pair of eyes. You are not too damaged for my society to reject. You are not unworthy of this.” I saw Carl nodding along to all this. I was tempted to kill him too at that, but he wasn’t exactly in full possession of his own mind there.

“I am fixing the world here, Gecko. Every lonely soul will find its other half. There is a thief here. She knows you. She has shown herself capable of keeping up with you. She could help you deal with your personal demons. There is another, a young woman coming into her powers who has been pushed away from her family and friends. You could use your past experiences to guide her and keep her from following the dark path your life has taken. Protect and cherish.”

Under my armor, I was stewing. I’ll confirm nothing, but it’s possible that there was a sliver of a chance that some of what he was saying was annoying a part of me that was sensitive towards these kinds of arguments. I stood there contemplating how badly I was going to kill that son of a bitch as Dame stepped forward, as did the girl from the news the other day.

“Perhaps you need a strong woman who can keep you in line, one you have shown compassion toward.” That was Elite the Warrior Woman, apparently. Super strong, super durable, super definitely not one I want to let get a hold of me with those Kegels. What, this jerk went shopping through all the women around, trying to find me just the right woman to go with my shoes? Or like picking up a compatible dog at a dog shelter? These weren’t people to him. They were tools to convince me.

I focused on that. He was trying to get me on his side. Somehow, that had meaning to me.

“No, that’s right. Carl said you had a thing for men. I shouldn’t have been so judgemental. Surely you can take your pick. Hydroplane would love to show you there are no hard feelings for trying to kill him. Or Nos. Perhaps Paveman, if you like them older.”

What the fuck? Paveman was human enough to be affected by Sexahol? That was useful information.

Wow…he had all those guys there too. That was about when I noticed that there were a lot of superhumans present. I didn’t know how many…but I knew how many of them it would take to kick my ass. Like I said once long ago, that’s a handy piece of information to have.

That was his problem. It was just so pathetic. He made it sound so high and noble, but at the end of the day he was treating them all as pieces of meat. Just throw enough booty at the problem and it would go away. THAT was getting to me?

“Heh…hehehe…hahahahahahaha!” I bent over, caught up in the laughter.

“What’s going on here?” inquired Breakdown. The overhead camera gave me a view of Carl grabbing Breakdown’s arm and telling him something.

As quickly as merriment had set in, I stood straight up.

“Not as hurt as you-“ Breakdown started.

I cut him off. “Can it, you lintlicking hairchewer. You bulldog spittle in human form.”

I glared at him, daring him to speak up. He didn’t, so I continued. “What, you just want to throw someone at me? Some sacrificial lamb you think needs to fuck my brains back to proper working order? You think it’s as simple as saying ‘all you need is love’ or ‘that guy needs to get laid’ and someone like me becomes part of a regular family with a regular job and regular bowel movements? Seems like half the time I can’t express myself without having to use some story about transgender this or suicide that. That shit doesn’t get fixed with a kiss you know!”

I started pacing back and forth, not paying any attention to the crowd. Breakdown’s mist machine was still where I left it, hanging from the ceiling by a heavy duty cable wrapped around supports. I still had a case to make, though. “I’m a little old to have prom night with a sweetheart, too. A guy like me has to accept when they’ll never be the sort to know what that’s like. I’ve been rejected and dejected and even injected, but that’s alright. I can handle that I’m not the type who gets someone to love. Kids. A house with a big family movie sunset just before the credits roll. Society has its reasons to reject me, and they are the same reasons I reject it. So all you have is the hope that I’ll give in willingly to your mass enslavement. You failed to take me by force like all the others. You’re afraid, so you’re trying to throw sex and relationships at me to get what you couldn’t by brainwashing. I don’t want disgusting, weak-willed little humans that can’t solve their own problems but think they can solve mine. And I sure as shit don’t need anyone in my life to make me a full person.”

I stopped and hopped up on top of Moai’s head.

“And I know that you’d only be this desperate if you were afraid. Pay attention to that feeling now. It’s the one that said you should have run as soon as you tried to kill me.”

I pointed up at the gadget hanging from the ceiling, trying the remote access I had installed earlier. Nothing. That’s not good.

It was Breakdown’s turn to laugh. “I wasn’t stupid enough to let you use that old thing against me. Remember, I had that built. My new friend Carl kept me from getting your little robots over me and getting turned to slime, but I knew how to get rid of your trigger. Heroes, villains, assembled citizens. Tear Psycho Gecko apart.”

“Moai, do what you can,” I quickly blurted, then jumped. The enhancers in the legs of the armor were in better working condition than the holographic projectors. They carried me past superhumans that rose into the air and up to the device. Below me, Moai did his best to headbutt anyone trying to gain altitude or take aim, but it wasn’t enough. Most blasts, zaps, and whatever went wide. They didn’t want to risk the nanites out of a belief that they would try to disassemble them.

I had to grab on to this thing with my legs and hang upside down to unseal and discard my right hand glove, but then I pressed my palm to the device. A human can mess with my wireless connection, but there’s little to be done when I can actually molest machinery like it was a part of myself. Kinnari winged her way closer, energy disk ready to circumcise me at the neck when she got a clean shot.

She didn’t get a clean shot. The system spewed nanites out of it like a sprinkler rather than a fog machine. Everyone tried to shield themselves. Breakdown dropped from the catwalk and ran for the back. I swung over so I’d land on the catwalk, rolled with the impact, and then hurdled over side to follow him, completely ignoring Carl’s attempt to grab me in the process.

I found him back there crawling through the shower on all fours, puking. Hey, give the guy credit for sticking to his manners. I kicked him over onto his back, ignoring the pink crap he left on the tiles. I charged up my left glove.

“Wait, stop! I can’t die yet. Not until I kill the son of a bitch who did this to me!” he pleaded, the orange light of the energy sheathe splashing over his face.

“Whassat now?”

“It wasn’t me. It was the Sexahol. I was just the face he used. It was always his plan all along.”

“Sounds like something you’d say.”

“Wait! I never had a gas mask. Back in the warehouse, then around the city, I was exposed to all of it. Do you think if I thought this all out beforehand, I would have kept acting on it like that? For god’s sake man, look what your nanites did to me!”

He…had a point.

Much as I hated to admit it. Switching off the olfactory filters, I could even smell the intense cherry and strawberry flavoring of the Sexahol in his puke. It cleaned a lot of it out of his system to.

I sat down next to him and punched the wall of the shower, blowing tiles off and knocking a hole through the wall.

“Only way I’m letting you live is if you get out of this city, you understand?”

He nodded, wiping at strands of spittle stuck to his mouth and the top of his tights.

“Good. You get out of dodge, and I’ll check out whoever’s supposedly doing this. If you’re wrong, I’ll hunt you down. You know I can. If you’re right, I’m cleaning up this mess. You feel me?”

“Yes I…feel you,” he hesitated. Probably the unusual word choice.

“So, who is the unlucky bastard if you aren’t?” I asked.

“Unity. Dr. Unity. Congratulations. You get to end a superhero trying to end conflict across the world.”

“I hope you’re wrong so I can kill you. Now get the hell out of my club.”

Breakdown skittered to his feet and rushed off.

Just for good measure, I shouted “And stay out!” after him.

Lucky bastard. He wasn’t the one who had to stay behind and clean up the mess Empyreal City had become. Even I have my stupid moments.

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A Head of the Game 6

“…and that is why pants are stupid and a bourgeoisie plot to control people,” I said as my companion and I drove to our next stop.

“What are you even talking about? What does a woman reincarnated as a man using hypnotherapy to try and find out how she died have to do with pants and communism at all?” Alysha asked. Alysha’s the receptionist. Say hi to Alysha! It’s ok if you didn’t say it. She can’t hear you anyway. Why are you still talking?!

We were on our way to another of the offsite housing the rehab clinic had available. The first one or two we visited, Alysha was still fooled by my disguise. We stopped by, I took a good look around to see if the real Dickcheese was there, then claimed it wasn’t a good spot for me for some reason or another. I think the first time, I complained that it didn’t have a big enough Jacuzzi, for example. Or one of them didn’t have enough beef jerky in stock. Basically, I was thinking ridiculous rock star contract reasons for turning things down.

Just like the rock stars and their contracts, this all had a purpose. For the musicians who don’t want brown M&Ms in their dressing room, it’s a way to make sure that someone actually read their contract and didn’t miss the big details. For me, it was a way to keep the search going until I found Dick Dickity Dickdick. Alysha didn’t seem to mind, actually. All things considered, she’d rather get dragged around by me like that in a futile search for a hidey hole than go back to her normal duties, plagued as they were by ten car drive-bys and costumed assassins.

The negative side to that is that I insisted I sleep over at her place when we didn’t find Scrooge McDick. For her sake, I agreed to finally put on some pants. As our discussion indicates, I wasn’t happy about it.

“Because the death is one of traditional capitalist fashion rules that held that trousers, with their pockets designed for holding wallets and money, and the reincarnation is about entering a new world where no one is afraid to let it all hang out in the name of freedom. And there’s no part of this country I believe in more,” and here I began to choke up and projected tears onto my hologram’s head, “than freedom. Freedom to not wear pants. Freedom to be an American.”

The car’s sound system began to play “God Bless the USA” at that point, courtesy of the link between my armor and my car.

“I think that’s bullshit. Besides, you said the hypnotherapist shot him in the end.”

“Eh, people like stories with downer endings for some reason. I don’t get it. Nobody likes a clown being funny, but a clown who drinks himself to death is art,” I told her. I really don’t get that. It’s contrary to basic thought, but not so much contrary to human nature.

Maybe that fellow from 1984 had human nature correct in one regard. “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.” The difference is that guy was a power mad asshole with delusions of grandeur. That happens when you ignore human nature, because human nature, it seems, likes the boot on its face. Hell, get that face stomping on film and you’ve got next year’s Best Picture at the Oscars or whatever movie awards y’all have.

“You can’t give a straight answer to anything, can you?” she asked.

“Effervescently.”

“That’s what I thought. Oh, the next place is up here.”

Ah yes, offsite housing. A way for their clientele to party it up without appearing to be in any programs. At least this one didn’t look all that special from the outside. A pleasant little brick house. In the big city, that kind of room still comes at a premium, though. The ideal parking space right in front of it was taken, though there was a little room ahead of it. I hit a switch on the console and a plow extended out along the front of my car. Parking was as easy as one plow, two seconds of work, and three flat tires on the other car.

Alysha just looked at me disbelieving. I ignored her and nodded to the house. “This doesn’t look like your usual place to board people,” I mentioned to Alysha.

“Believe it or not, some people value restraint and discretion,” she responded as we got out of the car.

“Yes,” I said as I closed the door to Black Sunshine and we made our way up to the house. “Restraint and discretion. Just what I expect from people with drug and alcohol problems.”

“That’s not fair. Some of them have sex addiction.”

“Oh, good job on that discretion stuff.”

She spoke with a hint of laughter in her voice. “Shut up, like it’s any secret.”

She unlocked the door for me, but I made sure I was first inside. Alysha was valuable to me. After all, if she died, I’d have less chance of finding this guy. Instead, I’d have to do something drastic like blow up half the city.

You know, looking back, maybe I should have let her get killed.

Ah well, no use crying over spilt blood. I went in first, finding the place tastefully decorated. “Geez, no wonder AA only has a five percent success rate if some people get a little spot like this while they’re recovering.”

That was some impressive hardwood flooring in the entry, but the living room wasn’t too shabby either with side by side TVs and custom built furniture.

Alysha snorted behind me. “Please. We’re not like those church hacks at Alcoholics Anonymous. Our programs actually work.”

The stairs to the upper floor actually came down just at the end of the entry hall so that you either go left to the upper floor or head on into the living room, with an opening to the kitchen to our right, opposite the TVs. Not a bad setup. I pointed to the TVs that were off to the left from where the hallway entry met the living room. “One big ass screen wasn’t enough, eh? Got to have two to for your programs?”

She crossed her arms. “Actually, that’s for 3D viewing if residents choose. It made more sense than dumb glasses.”

Provided these technological primitives got it to work properly, she had a point. As a big shiny black mirror, though, the screens worked perfectly. I should know. They helped me see the woman in the costume as she came down the stairs behind us. I motioned for Alysha to come forward. “Hey, come tell me what this doohickey does.”

When she walked in front of me, I threw her to the ground and grabbed one of the TVs. I was going to chuck it at the newcomer, but some glowing disc thing chopped right through it as I turned. The pieces nailed me in the face as they fell out of my grasp. TVs may be thin, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t heavy when half of one smacks into where your eye should be.

“You are not him. You are an imposter with superpowers.” She had a smooth voice with a soft accent. It was something Asian, but I simply don’t know enough to narrow it down any more than that. Her costume was dark blue and gold. The top half resembled lamellar armor with its rows of thin armor plates. Not much to it, other than clawed gloves and feathers on the back of the headpiece. I could see the yellow claw symbol on her breast. The location, not the boob, pervs. It wasn’t lit up, though, so it was harder to tell the color. I knew it mainly because I knew the symbol. Below her breast was a round armor plate like you see in Chinese armor. They call it a mirror. It looked gold, with a swan depicted on it.

It was below the belt where things got interesting on this woman. Hey, I said cut the pervy shit. In this case, the armor transitioned to a mechanical bird’s tail that hung above her butt, as well as the boots resembling birds’ feet.

This woman, most likely the Claw minion from that meeting, raised a gloved hand. Another glowing disc materialized an inch from her palm.

“Do not make me hurt you in this hunt,” she said. I don’t think English was her first language. Rather than try to chop off my chimichanga, she glared at me through her mask as if to warn me, then turned and threw the disk down the entry hall to the sound of splintering wood. Then she threw another, and then another. She caught my eyes just before she stepped into the entry hall to leave. I followed and got to the door in time to see her flying away, the tail feathers having extended into wings that were somehow capable of lifting her off.

I did a quick search for any specific type of Claw minions as I turned to see how Alysha was doing. She was gone from sight in the living room.

“Alysha, honey, where are you?”

“I’m calling the cops, whoever you are. She’s right. I’ve had my doubt, but whoever that was, she confirmed them.”

“Alright, alright, so I’m not your idiot friend the drunk driving druggy.” I figured Alysha was hiding behind one of the couches. I still counted on needing her, though.

“What do you want?”

“You may have noticed I’m not exactly in solidarity with these killers. I look like the guy they want to put on ice for a reason. I’m here to help him, courtesy of his parents. I don’t like it, I’m not proud of it, but there it is. Problem is, he’s in hiding and he’s not exactly trusting anyone with powers now.”

“I can’t trust you either, you know.”

“True. When it comes down to it, you can’t really know a whole lot about me and my motivations. You can know I did a number on those guys back at the clinic. You can know that my method of getting information from you doesn’t involve introducing a baseball bat to your body. You can even know that I’m not that bad of a guy and you had no problems from me sleeping on your couch last night. I’m not that much of an ass. That’s more than you can say for this dick whose face I’m wearing. I needed your help to find him, and I still do, but listen. I’m gonna go. Whether you come with me or not, I advise you to leave too, before any more assassins show up looking for him.”

I turned and walked out after giving my speech about why she should trust that I’m not a bad guy. It was flimsy but it seemed to work. Just as I opened the car door, there she was at the doorway, calling out to me. “Wait!”

She jogged over to the other side. “Ok. I know I can’t really trust you completely, but I think maybe I can a little. So…shotgun?”

I projected a smile like this was some buddy buddy movie and told her to get in.

“So who was that weird lady anyway? She was another supervillain, right?” she asked as we got under way.

“Yeah. She’s called Kinnari. She’s a minion of the Claw, that warlord out in the Pacific, but his symbol wasn’t lit up on her costume.”

“Does that mean something?”

“It means she’s not here on the Claw’s official business. This is a side job for her. She’s also not as…” I got caught up looking in the rear view as we left the house behind. I saw water splashing into the air as a man in a light blue and white costume skated closer on the surface of it faster than most cars could get up to. Hydroplane. Not normally the killer type, but money brings out the all kinds of people. He must have been watching for whenever I left. He wanted to catch Dick Dickington out in the open, where his own powers worked better. I reached over for one of the rear weapons and hit a button. Just one of them, randomly. Whatever.

“…not as…not as, oh, right. Not as much of a dick as some of them. All she did was warn us off rather than try to kill us right then and there.” I returned my attention to the road as my trunk popped open.

“Cool. What was that you just did?”

“Hell if I know. I wasn’t really paying attention,” I told her as World War Two-era mines as big as basketballs dropped out of the trunk and into the path of the superfast hydro-powered speedster. I got us out of there faster than the speed limit would have legally allowed, smiling to myself as the mines went off about the time he would have caught up to them.

“No, really, what was that?” Alysha asked as she turned around to look at the wreckage, explosions, and water that splashed all over everything or boiled up in places.

“Can’t say, but it looks to me like a water main blew.”

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A Head of the Game 1

Ah, 2014.

I was just outside walking around this new year. The air was crisp. The sun was high. My balls were freezing off even in my armor. This planet needs some serious climate control. My old planet did that well enough, but nooooo, this place has to completely ignore mastery of the environment in favor of treating it like a bunch of barbarians. Not that I’m green or a vegan or anything. After all, if you’re going to avoid munching on animals because they have faces and feelings, how are you going to feel finding out that plants communicate through scent and sound and do advanced mathematics each day to survive the night? That’s what I thought, vegans. When you munch on a salad, I hear the lettuce’s screams of terror. When you cut a tomato, does it not look vaguely like it bleeds? Fur may be murder, but leaf is grief.

Of course, the walking turned to running when I realized what all the pretty flashing lights around were. Then I remembered the severed head in my hands. Ooooh, right…why did I grab this thing? There was a reason. I tossed it up, caught it, spun it around, even dribbled it a couple of times.

Who cared about the police trying to find me in this snowy mess? I had to get to the bottom of this. It’s like it was on the tip of my tongue. The mystery, not the head. I know, charming guy like me doesn’t get his mouth on some head all that often. It’s criminal, that’s what it is.

Ah well, I couldn’t remember what I had the head for at the time, but I figured I’d keep it. My thinking was that it might be important, if only I could remember why. I swear, I’d forget my own head if it wasn’t attached to my body. And no, it turned out it wasn’t my own head either, so that wasn’t it.

I’d just been seeing to a few things. See, I’d accepted a contract fairly anonymously, or at least as anonymously as you can when someone thinks you’re pranking them because you’re dead. Which is a self-defeating concept. How could they possibly think I was both dead and someone else? Maybe they assumed I was John F. Kennedy.

I wish. If Christians were actually correct that doing something in your mind equates to doing it in real life, then JFK still gets more ass than I could ever hope for courtesy of perverted women and the power of internet videos.

It’s like he got powers from being bitten by a radioactive pussy magnet. Awesome band name, by the way. “Up next, we have the top-charting single from Radioactive Pussy Magnet. It’s called ‘More Ass Than a Donkey Orgy’.”

Anyway, the contract. Simple, actually. Some rich asshole teenager stole beer, took some valium, piled his friends into a truck, and ran into a bunch of people: a mother and daughter who were stopped on the side of the road due to car trouble, and two people who were trying to give them a hand. For those of you who it matters to, one of the victims was a pastor. A whole bunch of other people were hurt, with one of his friends even having been paralyzed.

Most people are too willing to play by the rules to get someone like me involved even if they hold a grudge against the moron who pulled this, but it gets better.

You know how I said he was rich. Doubtless, by now people think I tend to have it out for wealthy people. Well, said drunk, drugged-up driver’s parents shelled out a lot of cash and got a psychologist to explain to the judge that the driver was unable to determine right or wrong because he’d been raised to be too privileged to know what he was doing.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. That’d still be a pretty good reason to want to go after the kid. The audacity. The cajones. The dirty huevos. The sheer motherfuckin’ balls.
So this kid that was easily looking at twenty years in jail got ten years probation at a rehab clinic that includes classes about nutrition and horseback-riding therapy.

Some people claim that evil wins when good men do nothing. I prefer to think of it that evil wins when good men are forced to turn to evil men to do what the good men should have done from the very start.

Plus, evil is more fun, and we have donuts. Some of them even have sprinkles.

So that’s the target. Even Carl, nice guy as he is, jumped up and wanted to put holes in everything when I briefed him. He’s still a little upset about Matatoa having to leave us. Of course, after he destroyed a perfectly good television set, he had to lie back down and rest up. Of the three of us, he was hurt most in his fight with Father Time, but he’s healing up just fine.

“I thought you knew all that already, boss?” he asked once his hacking had subsided.

“True, but the purpose of the meeting today was to go over some changes that have occurred since I accepted.” I reached over and grabbed a metal vase we had and dumped the head on its lid. “Don’t forget to put some water in this thing. We want it to last.”

“Hey, that’s Moai’s vase. He made it out of scrap from the fighting.”

I looked it over, then looked to Moai, who had a notepad in the seat next to where he stood. “Oh? Not a bad job. Mind if I keep my head on your vase?”

Moai shook his head no.

“Thanks. Always got to be careful where you stick your head, you know? Don’t want to upset someone or catch something.”

“So, what’d they do at the meeting? They drop your pay?”

“No, if anything they’ve increased it. Problem is, the whole arrangement is changed.”

Now we get to the meat of things. The important stuff.

There had been a guy talking to the other assassins over a TV screen that was protected by a couple of guys in black suits. I got a bit of a Pinkerton vibe from them. The Pinkerton Detective Agency, prestigious as it is, is still around. They don’t do a lot of private eye stuff. Instead, they focus on cyber security and on providing VIP security with superpowered detectives. They generally don’t like me.

Whether by death or humiliation, they don’t keep many operatives who have a run in with me.
The crowd being addressed by their protected talking TV head was a diverse crowd of lowlifes.

I saw heavily-armed remnants of the Reds in riot gear with pieces of Space Marine armor attached. A group of Space Marines had traveled to the past some time last year to protect their future. They were afraid that people using the trope of the space marine would somehow dilute and ruin the concept for people in the future who had founded their force. Rather than summon a black-hearted fiend from the pit of a hell dimension and pay his attorney’s fees, they opted to invade the past and somehow protect themselves. They were kinda dumb.

I played a part in destroying a large chunk of their forces, but it crashed their main ship into the city. An enterprising gang like the socialist Reds was able to stock up on a lot of it. Of course, the Reds are also a lot fewer in number these days thanks to a conflict with me last year as well.

There were some costumed people around the table. Some were hitters, some weren’t. I recognized Hydroplane in a metallic blue on blue outfit, a speedster with some water control abilities, as one of the ones who didn’t kill. There was an Asian woman present as well, in a Chinese business suit with a yellow stripe circling the collar. That meant she was somebody from the Claw’s organization. Probably not as high up as his champion, who was always named Reach, but I guess everyone was taking advantage of the opportunity.

A glimpse at the ordinary-looking men from Chicago showed that. Organized crime. I prefer disorganized crime, but the more orderly varieties still exist. They were sitting well away from the various costumed people, like Hanged Man, in his green, grey, and brown costume that looked like some shitty Renaissance Faire scraps done up to look like a masked executioner with a noose around his neck. I’d say something about that being dumb, but I’ve worn a tie before. Same difference.

Next to him at the tables was a well-known operator, Curtain Call. He was certainly not the original, who gained notoriety for assassinating President Lincoln in the mid-1800s. That had baffled most people here, though some of us with extradimensional information know perfectly well who the original really was. His costume was a simple blank white mask over white robes with a few medals and decorations to distinguish him from the Klansmen seated on his other side. They were part of his retinue, a tradition going back to that original assassin.

Yay, Mat came through for me. I found racists in the New year! Not just found, I fucked them up.

See, I was an odd duck even around them. I hadn’t identified myself, like some of the less important people that hung around the back of the room, but I had taken a seat at the table like a big shot.

“What makes you think you get to sit there?” asked one of the Mafia goons.

“I belong here.”

“Looks like we got a clown here. Look around. You see anyone else like you at this table?”

I did look around. I even looked directly behind me thanks to my stealthed helmet. In fact, I was in my armor and holographically projecting an unarmored, uncostumed self with a properly inflated crotch bulge.

“I have more right than any of y’all to be here.”

“Tell me why we should let you stand out above people with costumes?” asked the leader of the Red delegation. He and his buddies were already on edge thanks to the Klansmen.

“Entertainment, maybe. How about a magic trick?” I produced a pack of cards and set them down on the table. “I can make these cards disappear.”

Curtain Call elbowed one of his Klansmen who stood up and walked over to yank me out of my seat. I stood, caught him by the elbow and back of the head, and slammed his face into the table. Then I grabbed the deck of cards, wiped them off on his robe, turned them sideways, and shoved them up his ass. Thanks to his robe and underwear in the way, I didn’t even get my gloves dirty this time.

I sat back in my seat as the Klansman slumped to the ground, whimpering high-pitched whimpers, his robes taut from where they were stuck with the cards somewhere in his bowels. I opened my arms wide to take in the table. “Ta da!”

I got a clap from the guys I pegged as Mafiosos. Red Leader nodded his approval. “I like him. He can stay.”

“Less of a clown and more of a joker? We’ll let you stay, but try not to blow things out of proportion, alright? Just ‘cause it’s a long drive to Chicago doesn’t mean I want to get blown there by a grenade, eh?” said the Mafia hitter. Chicago’s known for that stuff. It meant he was probably one of Johnny Butterfly’s guys. Don’t let the name fool you into thinking he’s a wimp.

“So…what are we all gathered here for? I was under the impression this was to be a more private meeting.”

The TV answered me, “If you’re here, then you’re aware of the target. Ladies and gentlemen, we are taking advantage of an opportunity here. The target is not going to rehab where the news says he is. In order to protect his privacy, they have sent him to Empyreal City anonymously.”

“Bourgeoisie bastard got sent right to our doorstep,” said one of the Reds. There was a general murmur of agreement throughout the crowd, save for Curtain Call, who was helping his other Klansman with their downed colleague play 52 pull-out. It’s like 52 Pickup, but with cards up your ass.

“I thought I’d take advantage of the opportunity this presented. Why send just a few hired guns after him when I could put a ten million dollar bounty on his head? I mean that. Whoever can bring me his head gets the money. Just reply to the email I contacted you all with and set up a meeting, but don’t waste my time.”

I reached over and scratched the head on the vase while I yawned.

“Zat it?” asked Carl.

“This? No, I don’t know who this is.”

“Why do you have it, then?”

“I dunno. Seemed like something to keep around until I figured out- That’s right!” I slapped my head with my hand and the other head with my other hand. “This is the other Klansman. Yeah, when the meeting broke up, this guy hung around out back of the place listening to his iPod. He was singing ‘You’re So Vain’ but he went ‘Jew probably think this song is about Jew’. Huh, no wonder I couldn’t place the face. Just drape a pillow cover over him and I’d have got it. Oh well.”

I tossed it back behind me where it landed with a crash on some leftover junk from the post-fight cleanup.

“Whew, hurting the KKK made me hungry. Anyone want some pigs in a blanket?”

 

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Get in Line, Oppenheimer 3

It was while enjoying a bottle of Bailey’s in the bar that the purpose of the space marine invasion was made known to us. The marines butted in on every broadcast around to make a statement.

“Profligate peoples of the past. The Adepticus Pugilisticus are here in your time to make a statement. For too long have you casually cheapened our legacy. Even though we come from years in the future and are not the first to take the name Space Marines, we are the peak, the definition of that title. We will not tolerate others helping themselves to it. Only we the truly righteous, are worthy of this. Know this. Today we make the statement that all the worms who dare claim our title for themselves shall be eradicated as insolent pests. For the Emperor!”

Yep. They were willing to attack and destroy lives just to control a term that has been in use since the 1930s. My first thought was to make sure John Glenn and other astronauts who had been marines were protected. They had been literal marines in space. My second was that it was a good day to support piracy and other ways to get around trademark and copyright.

That’s right, I will outright say I support piracy. I am also anti-gun because the sword and axe lobby bought me. Why bother carrying a pissant 9mm when you could be packing a broadsword? I’m also not pro-choice. The only true way to prevent the biblical apocalypse on the off chance it would come true is to abort all the babies whether the parents want them or not. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not pro-life either. In fact, I’m anti-life. Darkseid for President!

So anyway, I got myself back to the lair after they made that announcement, figuring I’d do my part in keeping the world safe and the ability to use a basic term. Also, it’s just fun take the fight to self-righteous religious assholes who are willing to kill for their beliefs. Hell, I took one out on the way back to base. Guy pulled out a pistol that fired exploding bullets. I covered him in pantyhose, drove his head through a mailbox, drew a smiley face on his ass, broke his wrist, and fired it up his rectum. Rectum? Darn near killed ‘em!

I do love my armor. As good as I am outside it, I am better inside it. Except for eating and pooping. I wear special armor for pooping.

I strap on the rocket launcher and head out to find myself a space marine ship. On the way, I spot a giant walker spewing flames and flying the bright green of enemy Adepticus. Lasers lanced out, attempting to hit a villain I knew of. He was dressed in a wetsuit and took gliding, almost skating steps through water that he generated with every step. The mech never even saw me coming. Literally. It saw nothing thanks to my armor’s advanced ability to project nothing while hiding the real view of me. There are all kinds of protection. Get your mind out of the gutter. My armor does technically protect against pregnancy and transfer of STDs, but I was talking damage resistance.

So this big mech walker was burning everything up and getting smacked with bursts of water from Hydroplane when it met with an unfortunate end. I charged up my gloves with energy and busted in the cockpit window. A surprised pilot looked back. He continued looking surprised as I tore out the wiring of the controls and strangled him with it. All the futuristic cybernetics in the world can’t save someone who needs to breathe.

That’s one of those simple truths of life. When life gets you down, remember that and it’s bound to help you out of your troubles.

It was then that I caught sight of Adepticus ship flying over head. Hydroplane caught my gaze and shook his head disapprovingly as I set up the launcher and mounted the rocket. Then I flung myself at the battleship of a group of crusading high tech power armor knights using a weapon known for exploding.

The ship was trying to catch me with rapid-fire lasers, so I had to twist and dodge. More Adepticus marines were whizzing around on their jetpacks. Some were taking potshots at me. Others that were close took swings at me with chainsaw swords, chainsaw axes, and even a chainsaw mace, which seemed to defeat the purpose. Not just the lime green marines, either. Some were in pearl, others in a color my HUD told me was kumquat, and one fellow in periwinkle nearly took my head off. He chased me, but got too close. I was able to yank the chainsaw whip out of his hand because we were both moving through the air at high speeds and it would take a moment to start the whip.

They must have a lot of gasoline in the future to run all these chainsaw weapons.

Oh, and I wrapped the whip around the marine’s neck and guided him into a dropship of theirs that was making its descent. Last I saw of him, he was getting chewed up in a rotor. Took the whip with him.

I miss you, whippy.

The dropship gave me a hint of where they were offloading from and I zipped in while the door was open. I aimed for a doorway to the interior, and then lower. The rocket crashed into the floor as I launched myself off and towards the door, just in time for it to automatically slide open for me or some marine that was walking in. Actually, it didn’t. I crashed into it with my rocket about to go off and no way to disarm it.

I was saved by the door having an easily accessible handle. Saved is a relative term, however. I barely got in when the door blew in on me and left me splayed out on my belly, just in time for a squad of space marines to shove their guns into my face.

I checked, but they had them on the rest of me as well.

“Who are you and what are you doing here?” one of them asked me.

Another said, “Doesn’t matter, just shoot him.”

I told them that I was “Psychopomp Gecko, the world’s superest copyright lawyer. I heard you might have a lawsuit on your hands?”

 

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