Tag Archives: Killbasa

Holiday Black And Blues 4



I tried to move quickly, though it confused my underlings.

“Why are you keeping her alive if you’re just going to kill her once you have Dead Meat?” asked Tricia. Her questions annoyed me at this point, but it was also part of that job Harlon had her doing. I still didn’t like it, but I figured Harlon might know what he’s doing.

At the very least, he probably remembered how I killed three of his colleagues shortly after we met because they pried into my origins. So he’s probably cool.

I pulled out my eye, steamed it up with my breath, then wiped it off on my shirt. Then I resumed eating my sandwich with my other hand. It was a good sandwich. I assembled the shit out of that sandwich. Salami, chicken with garlic and herbs, and some of the juiciest ham I could find. I hammed it up something fierce, and of course there was plenty of cheese. I like it cheesy.

While eating, I held my eye over the sax, from which my voice issued. “It’s simple. I’m planning to kill her. The plan is ruined if she’s already dead. How can I kill a dead person again? That makes no sense. It’s hard to imagine I know what I’m doing, but you can trust me. After all, I’m Sax-Eye and I know it.” I made my hand bob up and down in a nod.

“Not too much for your shirt,” she answered. Then she left to go write some notes that involved words like “asshole” and “couldn’t plan his way out of a maze on the back of a children’s menu.”

That would be so very, very hurtful…if I cared.

I didn’t even get to finish my sandwich in peace. Carl called me up to tell me it was time. Dead Meat took the bait.

To lure out Dead Meat, Carl, Moai, and Ground Chuck went out in a truck and began distributed food to people. They’d stop in the middle of an intersection and pass out hams, turkeys, prime rib…holiday entrees. Each one came with a note attached. “Dear citizens of Empyreal City. Don’t be fooled by imitators. Killbasa’s going to end this beef with Dead Meat, if he’s man enough to show.”

Carl had called me when Dead Meat interrupted one of their stops. The villain rode in on a bull made of steaks and Carl floored it. If they were smart, Ground Chuck and Moai dumped the remaining food into Dead Meat’s path.

On my end of things, I tossed Tricia in through the passenger side window on my car. I threw myself into the back to wiggle into my armor while remotely cranking it up and driving it out.

Tricia took a moment to complain, yet again. Nag, nag, nag. I didn’t know having a fake wife would fit the cliché. It’s always something. “Why don’t you have any beds in your lair?” or “Why do you eat so much junk food when you need to stay physically fit?” or even “Oh my god, you just slapped that man with a horse dildo until he couldn’t stand!”

I think she meant that last one as a complaint. It can be difficult to tell. But I fear my fake marriage is destined to crash and burn. Whether Tricia’s stuck in there for the crash depends on if Harlon’s faith in her is well-placed.

Still, she sat up and glared at me. “You didn’t have to throw me in. I can work a door.”

I waved off her concerns. “Just be glad I rolled the window down before I tossed you in. What’s really so bad about all this?”

“You’re a murderer, you’re manhandling me, you want to destroy the world, and you’re getting dressed right in front of me! You are not normal.” She turned back around after that and crossed her arms.

Now that made me burst out laughing. “Sorry to have burst your bubble. After all, we met in such a normal way; me in a leftover supervillain’s base repurposed as a supermax prison.”

She stayed huffy for awhile. Once she calmed a little and I slid into the driver’s seat, she told me, “You’re confusing. Sometimes I think you’re just pretending to be crazy, and then there are times like that flashback you had the other day. Carl and that statue are loyal to you for whatever reason, but you’re a jackass toward me. You go from being ridiculously childish and petty to terrifying. I don’t know why I let him talk me into this.”

“Maybe the suits didn’t like you. That’s a possibility, and I am known for killing. You know, it started to bore me. I don’t keep track of everyone’s names or anything, so a lot of people run together when I think of what I’ve done to them. I thought it didn’t do anything for me anymore, ‘til I wound up in the Cube. Then I started suffering withdrawal symptoms. Next thing I knew, killing people gave me a certain rush. Gotta love me some unintended consequences.” I projected a smile with lipstick-drenched lips courtesy of my fond memories of the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

To try and evoke some jolly holiday feelings while also getting in the mood to nab another person on my holiday wish list, I put on that old holiday classic “I Am Santa Claus.” It was quite possibly the best holiday parody of a Black Sabbath song in the last thousand years.

That makes it a classic. Just like “Come On Eileen” remains the best bukkake song ever performed. As for “Beat It,” I’m sure you can guess what kind of song that is. Uh huh. You know what I’m saying: eggs.

Speaking of eggs, you can’t make an omelet without ramming into a few with a van. I followed Carl’s phone GPS signal and caught up to them just as they rammed into someone who mistook the road for a parking lot. He kept on going, but Ground Chuck barely hung on in the back.

By that point, Dead Meat pursued them on his steak bull, backed by a bunch of running turkeys. “Wow, look at the legs on them,” I mentioned to Tricia.

She stopped herself ducking under the console as something exploded. “What was that?”

I sped past the intersection perpendicular to the way they’d headed so I could maneuver around in front of the chase. “If I had to guess, that was a ham mine.” Then I called up Carl. “We just passed behind you. We’re going to loop around to Sycamore here, and I’ll get us set up. Watch your corn hole, man. He’s packing some serious meat behind you.”

I swerved to a stop beside a solid-looking brick building and uploaded my location to Carl’s phone. “Tricia, get the car away. Time for me to play Spider-Gecko.”

My name never derived from being gecko-like in attitude, appearance, or abilities. However, I still picked up one or two tricks that would make a gecko proud. Suction cups, grappling hooks, ropes and anchors…I left it all behind. Instead, I charged and created an energy sheathe around my right arm, then jumped and punched into the wall. It made a nice little hole for me to hang from.

I needed the vertical distance to help me with a little project. In the absence of quick-drying paint, I created a hologram that hid me and instead opened up an alleyway. When Carl pulled up, he hightailed it out of the van and ran into the hologram. Moai followed, carrying Ground Chuck. It appeared they continued on, though they really moved to the side.

They kinda had to with Dead Meat following. He skidded his bull around, the beefy golem snorting bloody mist into the air. Instead of stopping, he justed the skid to drift around and continue his chase.

Right into the fucking wall. First the bull hit it, then the villain atop it smacked into it. He bounced off it and into a pile of steaks from his meat puppet falling apart. The flock of turkeys lost their footing and rolled along, getting quite a lot of distance. Figures. Everyone knows that’s how Butterballs roll.

I let go, dropped it all, and walked over to look at the guy. He had on a firefighter’s outfit, but dark red with black. Firefighter boots, too, though his mask looked like patches of leather sewed together. He had an axe strapped to his back, too. I pulled that out of there. He could hurt someone with that. He might even be able to hurt me. I consider it irresponsible to let a person hold on to something that could hurt me. I tossed it to the side, though. Maybe some lucky kid would find it and use it for all sorts of juvenile hijinks.

That’s important for children. Very educational. Depending on where they swing it, they could learn zoology, biology, and neurology. And if they hit themselves, well, that’s EXTRA educational, isn’t it?

“Is he dead?” Tricia yelled from the car.

“Sax me up good and let’s find out!” I told her, holding out my arm for it. I kept my eyes on Dead Meat, even after Tricia threw my saxophone at me and it bounced off my helmet. I could have caught it, but it seemed funnier that way. Plus, not many people are that good at throwing musical instruments. Heck, even Batman never tossed a bassarang.

It’s just classier to hit someone with an instrument. Even the banging and thudding sounds better.
I bent down, grabbed the sax, and poked the guy to see if he lived up to his namesake literally. “Hey there. Wakey wakey. You alive? I need you alive. I can’t kill you if you’re already dead.”

With that, he awoke and kipped up to his feet. Speaking of feat, most people couldn’t manage that in that kind of outfit.

Didn’t stop me from sweeping his leg out from under him with the sax, then bring it down on his face again and again until he lost consciousness. But still, impressive.

Ground Chuck stepped up behind me and to my right, wringing his hands in front of his immaculately clean smock. “What next?”

I spun around with my arms out wide, knock the Chuckster down and out. “Now, we start the New Year’s fireworks a little early. Alright, let’s tie the villain to the roof. He’s got a flight to catch.” Pointing down to Chuck, I said, “And leave this guy. We don’t need Ground ‘Round anymore. So says me, the big guy, the head cheese of this outfit.”

DM woke up on the ride back, but that’s what ropes, chains, handcuffs, and zip ties are for. That, and BDSM.

Yep, we carried him off to the fireworks warehouse I hid the rockets in. While I settled Dead Meat into his rocket, Carl looked over the other one. “Have you been feedin’ this one, boss?”

“Of course! I left lots of food in there for her.” I slammed the door shut on DM’s rocket and locked it tight. “We had so much tofu left over, I thought it’d be a shame to waste it all.”

Carl and I shared a laugh at that. Moai even pantomimed with us, but remained silent as ever. Silent, but deadly.

Meanwhile, Tricia kept looking around. “Guys, does anyone else feel like we’re not alone in here?”

“I didn’t know you wanted to be alone in here, Trish. Let me just take Carl, Moai, Dead Meat, and Killbasa out so you can be alone like you thought.” I stood between the rockets and adjusted a few settings.

She looked at me unimpressed, holding her tongue between the teeth on the right side of her mouth. “Shut up, you sarcastic ass. I thought I heard something. Are you done?”

“I am now,” I told her. “Now, evacuate to the picnic site!”

The picnic site froze mine and Carl’s nuts off, so instead we were driving back to my place in the car when the rocket’s launched. The nearby fireworks catching on fire made it obvious when Killbasa and Dead Meat lit off and flew into the sky, bound for the North Pole. We got to watch them fly out and knock off a bunch of debris and crap.

It scared a lot of people. Jets even scrambled, but then it got well past the U.S. and Canada, so people around here stopped caring. Oh, I’d make them care…except even though I sent the signal, nothing detonated when the rockets hit land. No big kaboom. How can anyone have fun without an earth-shattering kaboom?

Ok, maybe not that big of a kaboom. I still need to live on this spinning water planet.

Then I got another nasty surprise. Tricia held onto something she definitely shouldn’t have. No, not the Psycho Gecko Theme Park Elevator of Fun, which truly is the most fun place on earth.

“Where did you get that?” I asked her, pulling it out of her grip.

“I found it at the warehouse. I looked around before we left and saw it. Is it some sort of firework mortar or…?” She jumped as I turned and smashed it against my worktable.

“It’s a weapon used by my dear nemesis, Venus.” I said, looking at the broken EMP rod. Then I got to work hunting through it for a tracker. It being there at the warehouse…quickly sent a signal to shut down any detonation sequence. I doubt Venus got any better at disarming things since I last tried to blow stuff up around here, so she probably removed the warheads.

Which meant I nearly blew myself up, too.

Just when I had started to distract myself from dismal holiday tidings, a special delivery of misery landed in my lap like Kathy Bates playing a stripper. Can’t a guy kill people in peace around here?

I didn’t even get to turn the Arctic Circle into a candle in my own personal menorah for the start of this year’s Hanukkah. Maybe that’s for the best. It would have been hard to top that for seven more nights.



Holiday Black And Blues 3



The day before I put my plan into motion, I brought back some more gear. I’d forgotten all about some of the other stuff I stashed. I got my rocket saxophone back and even my pink scooter, the Minstrel. I wheeled both in there as I saw Carl showing Tricia a blood choke.

“You’re not going to choke me to death, are you?” she asked. Apparently Carl wasn’t bothering to apply pressure except to quickly show her the spot to hit.

“No. It shouldn’t keep you from breathing,” he said. Then he let her go.

“He’s right,” I added. “The point of the sleeper hold is to cut off the blood supply to the brain, and you can do it even if you aren’t that strong.”

“I remember they used to teach it to cops…I know some cops…but they stopped because you have to get the timing right. You can kill someone like that.” Tricia mused while turning around. Carl let her try to find the carotid on him for practice.

I tossed my sax on a worktable and then pulled my helmet out of the fabricator. I held up the helmet. “Alas, I knew him well.”

“That’s the new armor, boss?” asked Carl. I nodded, then set it down and kicked over the fabricator module.

“Is he normally this angry?” Tricia leaned over and asked Carl in a whisper.

“He doesn’t take it out on us,” Carl answered.

The door closed on it again, so I reached in and yanked it out. “Unfortunately, nothing works perfectly. Damn thing worked well enough to get most of my armor done, but it needed maintenance. It’ll take more time to fix that thing than it would to just finish the armor by hand. At least the nanite distiller is kinda automatic. Every once in awhile it makes a few that check the machine. Of course, every once in awhile I need to check the programming.”

I laid out my armor and the sax both. Then I had to get to work. While I was at it, Carl had Tricia put him in a sleeper. He tapped out before she could send him off to dreamland. Then she wandered over and watched me work. Despite what I expected, it didn’t completely bore her. Instead, she quietly asked, “It’s a lot of work, isn’t it?”

“Yup. That’s power armor for you. At least with gadgets you can live without them or have multiple copies. Hard to have multiple armors without much better production capabilities.” I zoomed in with my eye while I worked, making sure I got the pseudomuscles attached where they needed to be.

“I don’t see any weapons in it.” It wasn’t a question, but she still led me to an answer.

“Nah, I don’t add missiles and rockets and miniguns to my armor. Can’t even fly. Some people might say it barely qualifies. But, as is pertinent to what I’m doing right now, at least I’ll be able to fix this by hand by tomorrow rather than stay out of commission for a few months while I ship it off to the sweatshop in Indonesia.”

“Why do you think people send their armor off to those Indonesian sweatshops?” She smiled as she questioned my little joke, fishing for information.

“Because the Chinese sweatshops are too busy making sex toys.”

She watched for awhile, watched some news, even typed something out in a laptop of hers. She had to update her notes, which networked with her phone and her tablet. I checked on them. It could have been a code, but she seemed to be legit. I just had to correct her work a little.

I know what you’re thinking, but I’m not a Grammar Nazi. For starters, I killed Hitler’s Clone. That’s kind of a no-no for Nazis.

I opened up the suit’s speakers while I looked over everything. I programmed in some basic reinforcements to the design of the speakers to help them withstand using that nausea and dizziness blast I picked up from the Rubik’s Cube, but then I realized some of the vibrations would have some deleterious effects.

My little guys would go around in circles. My soldiers wouldn’t storm the beaches. The vibrations would screw with the nanites, and that one wasn’t a euphemism.

Luckily, I had an idea or two as far as recycling went.

So then we came to the day in question. The big event. Dead Meat vs. Kilbasa vs. Psycho Gecko. They didn’t know it yet, but I set the perfect trap for meat-themed supervillains.

“How exactly did you organize a tofu festival in less than a week. There’s no way you got the permits for this?” asked Tricia while I lowered breaded tofu and cheese into a deep fryer.

“Simple. I once threatened and then rewarded a guy who works with that sort of paperwork. Then I bought a lot of tofu, a lot of tables, and hired homeless people to run things.”

She leaned back against the counter, ignoring the register. We didn’t have any customers anyway. “Psycho Gecko, supervillain who wants to destroy the world…and nice to the homeless.”

I adjusted my eyepatch, then hauled up fried mozzarella and tofu. “Any customers?”

She shook her head. I turned and tossed the snacks in the trash can we replaced our storage bin with after no one purchased any of the other batches. Then I told her, “They’re homeless. If anyone cared enough to help them, people like myself wouldn’t be able to hire them. Only thing is, we’re going to have to get them all dinner later.”

Tricia held out her arms to take in the whole tofu festival. “They’re surrounded by food.”

I shook my finger. “No, they’re surrounded by tofu. There’s a difference. Just ‘cause they’re starving and mentally ill doesn’t mean they’d eat this crap.” I then pointed at all the tofu that sat around everywhere, unsold and uneaten. Even the rats, roaches, and birds refused to come anywhere near us, which actually made it one of the cleaner outdoor festivals in Empyreal City.

“At least it’s a nice day. I don’t know why you keep frying up a bunch of stuff no one’s going to eat, anyway. Isn’t the definition of insanity to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results?” She pulled out her tablet and tapped away at it, updating her notes.

Then came the disturbance from the eastern edge of the festival. We’d set up along a portion of a street, upsetting a lot of drivers. But the disturbance in question involved a man and woman instead of cars knocking things around. My homeless minions, a disproportionate number of whom were veterans, got to cover or escape routes.

Tricia ducked low. Meanwhile, I punched in a nearby glass box set on the ground and grabbed a hammer from it. Then I turned and use the hammer to break the glass in another box that said, “In case of emergency, have sax.” As y’all have probably guessed by now, I whipped out my instrument and held it in front of me.

As I left the small tent, I spotted Carl heading toward the east, gun drawn. He liked his new mini pistol mark two when I gave it to him. I didn’t make the first one he got, but I made him a new one based on the LaMott revolver. This one featured a wider ring of barrels around a bigger central barrel that fired a few small shotgun shells. I kinda wanted to make it a pump- or lever-action handgun just for the sake of novelty, but it’s semi. And, feeling things perk up in my pants, it wasn’t the only semi around.

Moai hopped from tent to overturned tables, using them as cover. He even jumped over one and did a roll. He still wore the oversized mustache and glasses that served as his disguise. He didn’t need a weapon. He was a statue. “Statue” is just another word for “stone club in disguise” after all.

Don’t quote me on that in anything academic, though.

We spread out to hunt down our special guests and found them. The petite woman in the bloody butcher’s smoke had to be Kilbasa. She whipped around a morning star made of a frozen rump roast on the end of a length of Conecuh sausage, knocking over tables and piles of tofu. Her minion, Ground Chuck, busted open cash boxes with a length of hard salami. Huh. I didn’t know Killbasa made him wear glasses that looked like bacon. She took one look at a sculpture of Venus carved out of tofu and destroyed it as well.

Aww. I liked that one. I had one of the hobos carve that for me. I meant it to look like the goddess as portrayed in that picture with the seashell, but I changed my mind. Instead, it was a tastefully nude version of my superheroine nemesis. Remember, it’s not porn if it’s art.

I lowered my saxophone and opened my hands wide. I walked out and greeted them with a smile, “Howdy, folks! Having fun on this glorious day?”

They looked at me like I was stupid. By they, I don’t just mean Killbasa and Chuck. My armor’s 360 degree view revealed that Tricia facepalmed and Carl couldn’t figure out whether to aim at the other villains or hide his gun.

“Listen, I get it. You don’t like tofu. Who can blame you? So you’re here to destroy the place. Believe it or not, I’m kinda fine with that, because we could use the publicity.” I nodded, trying to project a look of resignation that looked opportunistic, but not gleefully so.

Kilbasa pointed at me with the hand that held the rump star. Or would it be a morning rump? Either way, her rump dangled there, threateningly. “Is there anything valuable here?”

I shrugged. “Well, I suppose there’s the Bronze Tofu. It’s this trophy we’re hoping to make presitigous by giving it out to the winner of our tofu eating contest.”

She shook her rump at me. “Give it!”

I held my hands up at chest level, palms out to her. “Ok, fine, fine, but we’d really prefer it if you won the contest first. It goes to the person who eats the most tofu here today.”

“I suppose I should try it at least once,” she said. Kilbasa picked up a small cube of tofu and took a bite out of half of it. Her face pulled back like she was going through a centrifuge, but she managed to swallow it.

As soon as she did, I started clapping my hands. “Ladies and gentlemen, here is our winner!” Tricia and Carl joined in, Carl having holstered his mini pistol. “Now then!” I pointed up at the sky, then back to a giant, sickeningly pale turkey standing tall over the rest of the grounds. “It’s time for the presentation and the winner’s picture by Boburky the Tofurkey. Me, my, fofurkey. Boburky.”

Humoring me for at least a second longer, Kilbasa graciously stood there in the circle we laid out to make sure the winner would be in the correct position. The correct position for what? Why, the correct position for the rope circle to tighten around her ankles, yank her along the ground, and drag her into the rocket waiting for her inside Boburky the Tofurkey.

Ground Chuck tried to run after her, but I put an arm around his shoulder and Carl put his pistol to his head, and suddenly Chuck stood as still as a stone club in disguise. “Aaaah, Chuck. Can I call you Chuck? Don’t answer that, Chuck. The question you really need to be concerned about is if you want to go from being Ground Chuck to being hamburger?”

Chuck turned white as Boburky as I dropped the hologram and revealed my armor to him. “What do you need me to do?” he asked.

I clapped him on the shoulder. “Good to hear you’re willing to play ball. Are you good at playing ball? No, that’s another question you don’t have to answer. But answer me this: are you a master at baiting?”



Holiday Black And Blues 2



My reign of holiday good cheer has continued. Some of it even started pushing its way up the news stories. This city really went to hell in a handbasket after all I did to it, which severely cut down on my press. It goes to show that it sometimes only takes one bad day to push people over the edge. Well, one bad day, followed by another bad day, followed by yet another bad day; the power’s on now, but it stayed for a good while and killed a number of people.

I’ve heard a rumor online that some Empyreal City funeral directors may have named their yachts after me. I tried to imagine that…

“Hey there, Bob. Is that your yacht?”

“Yes it is, Harry. The Psycho Gecko. You’ll notice that the sail says ‘Kiss my flap ass’ on it.”

“How charming.”

Then again, I should just be glad that someone wrote an exasperated opinion piece celebrating the forced removal of “Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom” from the music charts. Ever since I unleashed that on the city, it got stuck in so many people’s heads that it shot to the top. I had plans for that song, but I never did get to where I could collect royalties.

All Hephaestus had to do was pay up, but they wanted a war instead.

Speaking of wars, what has your old pal Psycho Gecko been up to since blasting the local NAMBLA chapter with my pengun?

For starters, I built the gas station a heater so my parts wouldn’t freeze. Especially my jiggly bits. I kept the food stored on the roof for the time being and slept in a pile of blankets. Somehow, I never remember Empyreal City being cold enough that even the snowmen wear jackets. I guess they didn’t want to freeze their snowballs off.

I’d have figured the weather alone would have quelled a great deal of conflict, but then it turned the city into a perfect battleground for some villains who don’t exactly run in the same circles I do. Then again, I don’t run in circles. I run in ovals.

Dead Meat was a minor villain around here. I looked him up when he made the news the other day. He had been a disabled firefighter with a bad back and a drinking problem until he tried to rush out and rescue people from a fire trap tenement near where he lived. From what’s been released about him, he thought he saw someone burning in the fire. Turned out it was a book with a human face on it. Some sort of magic thing. It bit him and screamed and did all sorts of stuff that caused him to freak out and get out of there. Something stuck, though, because ever since then, he gained the ability to control dead pieces of meat.

Dead Meat soon realized that theft supplemented his disability check incredibly well. He’d never gone so far as to march corpses around, but he’s not above assembling rampaging meat beasts that give vegans the night sweats. I’ve chuckled before when I read a little item somewhere about him sending his hot dogs after PETA activists.

The person who picked a fight with him came in from Kingscrow, actually. Killbasa, the Butcher of Kingscrow. A crazed butcher-turned serial killer, Killbasa didn’t like it when various critics and health inspectors besmirched her cuts. So she cut them. She also made use of her butcher’s gimmick to attack them with meat and gadgets designed to look like meat. Even learned how to use flails and nunchaks to make herself especially dangerous with link sausage. On occasion, she’s had an assistant who inevitably gains the nickname “Ground Chuck”.

Killbasa insists that none of her products contain any human meat, but that kind of reputation inevitably attached itself to her. She must have gotten bored, or just in over her head around Forcelight’s city. Either way, she arrived in Empyreal City while I was in jail and challenged Dead Meat, prepared to meat her match.

I hadn’t heard of this kind of gimmick grudge since the Conducter fought the Conducter over their name. There were train cars and orchestra instruments all over the place after that little incident.

If I continued spreading my brand of good cheer about the city, I needed to deal with these meatheads too. Dead Meat is no picnic for regular folks, and that’s not counting how much Killbasa shanks people.

They were sure to realize that they chose the wrong time to cook off this feud. They were about to jump from out of the frying pan and into the fryer.

But first, I needed to make a long overdue appointment.

Carl could barely believe his eyes when he opened the door. Poor guy. He must have missed my exciting life of crime. Between his own capture and then me being too busy, I hardly had time this year to try and give him heart attacks.

“Who are you?” he asked. He seemed slow at times, but other times he was quite inventive. I hired Carl and a few other thug types to help me rob a bank as part of a trap for Venus. I took a shine to him and kept him around afterward. I found him funny, but he proved to be loyal and mechanically inclined. In addition to maintaining a van that proved useful, he once built a set of walker armor out of kegs.

I thought he’d died earlier this year when Hephaestus captured him. I got him back, but I spent so much time doing other things that by the time I had something to do around Empyreal City again, I’d left him out of it. Seeing as y’all know by now that I planned to agitate Venus to the point of killing me, it should make more sense that I left my minions out of it.

You’d think he’d recognize me after all our adventures. Oh, right, I didn’t have any armor on, or even the same sort of coat. I just stood there with a giant grin, arms held wide, so he couldn’t just guess at my intentions. I let my eye camo fade back to the standard white out eye. “It’s the boss, if you’re still looking for work!”

He hugged me then, “Hey, hey! Boss! Good ta see you. I thought they put you away for good.”

“Well, they wanted to leave me in there for life, but I got out early due to bad behavior,” I said.

“Don’t you mean good behavior? Oh,” Carl said after getting the joke.

“It nearly got to me, I’ll admit. They always say that you need to either kick someone’s ass or become someone’s bitch. I kicked the prison’s ass. Tore it a new one. So here I am back in town. Sounds like things have gone to pot around here, too.”

Carl looked around. “Naw, no pot. I tried it, but it’s too much of a hassle for me to find the time. Things got nuts around the EC. The other day, there was this big pile of meat that spun around and wrecked some cars in the next neighborhood over. It chased these things made of turkeys that ran around on four legs.”

I nodded. “Yes…top sirloin and turkey dogs…It’s good that you’ve survive without me. Well done. I don’t mean to grill you, but I’m going to need you and Moai to help me deal with them. Where is that lovable blockhead, anyway?”

Carl pointed off to the side of the house, which didn’t help me see through the brick walls any better than before he pointed. “He’s off in the kids’ room. He stuck around and helped out, then one day he just stood in the corner and stopped doing anything at all. I had to lie, because they thought he died. Can Moai die?”

“I hope not.” I pushed Carl to the side, against the door frame. “Moai! I’m baaaaaack!”

I heard something heavy bounding over the floor, so I tossed Carl to the side and out of the way. It was for his own protection. Moai skidded out of the hallway along the carpet, leaving part of it bald, then shot for me. I realized suddenly that things were about to get painful. I tried to back up, but that only helped so much when Moai threw himself on me. The mobile Moai statue may not qualify as a “he” in the conventional sense, but I preferred that to calling him an “it”.

Nobody likes to be called “it”. It’s insulting. No wonder people who fix computers have such a bad attitude. Their official job title is IT. And if you ever have family, like a cousin, that you just call “it,” then chances are good things are going to get hairy at gatherings.

Anyway, after Moai got done smothering me with his version of a hug and breaking a few of my ribs, he hopped up off me. He and Carl both peered down at me as I laid there on the ground, wheezing. “Not…in my…armor…now guys.”

“What’s going on out here?” asked a far too familiar voice. Tricia, my fake wife, poked her head out the door. “Oh, you came by. Great timing. What happened to you?”

I reached in my pocket for a nanite syringe and found it shattered. “Carl…kill her…and drive me…back to my base.” You try bending around to lick your pocket with your ribs after getting glomped by an Easter Island statue. Not so easy, is it?

For whatever reason, Carl misinterpreted my order and didn’t murder Tricia. Instead, he and Moai helped me into the back seat of my car, where I laid with my head on Tricia’s lap. They took the front and started driving off. I sent the directions to the computer screen for them to follow, rather than talk.

Meanwhile, Tricia explained her presence. “Harlon stuck me on your story and we’ve helped you out with it. He told me not to delve into your past, but you owe him. He said that, too. We made a lot of people uneasy with the story about how they treated you in the Rubik’s Cube. In return, he wants me embedded with you for awhile. You’ll just have to say you kidnapped me and threatened to kill me, like when we took my car. For now, mister, you owe me an adventure.”

I groaned. Not because of that. I meant to groan because of that, but before I could, we went over a pothole and that gave me a different reason to groan. After that groan, I was too groaned out to groan for the other reason.

They got me back to base for me to heal and to go over the plan that I would reluctantly allow Tricia in on. I rolled on out of my recovery area in a motorized wheelchair, head cocked at an angle. A computer’s disinterested voice spoke for me. “Now then. My glorious plan to improve the holidays. I will spread happy holidays through violence. I will destroy the day to kill it. This is the Vietnam War on Christmas, you could say.”

Tricia goggled at me. “You don’t look like you can make war on anything. Are you going to be able to do any of this yourself?”

Carl patted her on the shoulder. In a panic, Tricia whirled on him and grabbed his arm, hip tossing him to the ground. When she tried to back up, she tripped over Moai, who had dropped to the ground behind her. All at once, the four of us all stood up.

“You’re fine!” Tricia blurted, pointing at me.

Carl patted me on the shoulder then. “That’s what I wanted to tell you. The boss here recovers lickity split.”

I took a bow. “That’s right. You can’t keep a bad man down.”

Carl raised an eyebrow. “I thought you can’t keep a good man down?”

Tricia rolled her eyes. “You can’t keep any man down in my experience.”

Carl and I both turned and stared at her. Belatedly, Moai turned as well. She looked back at the three of us, cheeks reddening like a slapped baby. I gave her a thumbs-up. “Now you’re getting the hang of the group dynamic. Anyway, I’m going to do what other people won’t. I’m down in the dumps. The city has the blues. We’ll cheer everyone up by taking out various problems in the way that only I can. The current number one priority is this meat war we’re dealing with. Dead Meat and Killbasa have to go. We need to handle this before Venus does, too. She has this annoying tendency not to kill people.”

Moai and Carl nodded along. Tricia spoke up. “Isn’t that a good thing? Wouldn’t you be dead if she killed people?”

“Yes,” I told her, looking her in the eyes. Then I turned around whipped the cloth off a worktable. “Now then, I was thinking we could make a special delivery of our two meaty friends to the North Pole. Got to keep them refrigerated, you see. Plus, if anything carnivorous is roaming around, you could say this pair would make a rare treat.”

Carl and Tricia both groaned. I just smiled and looked over the two man-sized remote control rockets that sat there, doors open and harnesses not yet closed.

“Are you going to blow them up, boss?” asked Carl.

I walked over and ran a hand over the warhead on the tip of one of the rockets. “Yeah, I was thinking something incendiary. Get a little ice melting. Have a bit of a barbecue up in the great white north. I still might change it out for something that’ll make radioactive long pork out of the main dish.”

“You can’t use a nuke!” yelled Tricia. I rolled my eye.

Surprisingly, Carl agreed. “Boss, isn’t that really bad for the environment? You’re usually a lot better about that’n people think.”

I smiled at the both of them and walked over to a rolled-up poster on the wall. I pulled it down to reveal a map of the earth within a jester’s motley. The Fool’s Cap map of the world. I had to draw in lines for all the various countries from after the time the map was created, and next to them all were approximate population numbers.

“It works well with my new goals. Lady and gentlemen, I’m expanding my horizons. See, I had an epiphany in the big house. Venus was right. I do want to be a better person than I am. Why should I limit myself to merely killing whoever I’m hired to or whatever poor sap crosses my path? Why should I think merely of my own entertainment? I didn’t lie when I made the excuse that I sometimes killed the people who needed killing. Lots of people need killing. Dictators don’t take power on their own. It takes more than a single man to create a system that treated me like the Cube treated me. And I really should treat the world’s villains as kindly as I do the heroes.”

Carl frowned. Tricia had her mouth open, but then closed it. She crossed her arms and shook her head. “I have to see this.”

Carl turned to her. “You’re not worried? You got scared of everything else and bossman just said he wants to kill everyone.”

“Well, chances are good I won’t wipe out everyone, but at some point, roughly around the three billion mark, we’ll reach a collapse of global civilization. Iranian theocracy, Chinese dictatorship, North Korean totalitarianism, and the various corrupt democracies. Everyone wants change, but no one wants to tip over the glass.”

Tricia giggled. “I’m not normally the type to say the glass is half full, but there’s no way you can manage this. Don’t be offended, but you’re going to be caught before you can do anything like this.”

I leaned over the worktable, steadying my hand on the door of one of the rockets. “Are you going to be the one to stop me?”

She shook her head, but stopped giggling and lost some of that mirth. “I’m here to observe. I’ll observe when you’re caught if you let me stay that long. That’s all.”

I think I got what she meant. She didn’t have to try and stop me because someone else almost assuredly would. She might have been right about that. “Anyway, back to the most pressing part of this entire thing. Folks, let’s figure up how to round up some venison denizens.”