Tag Archives: Kinnari

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 7

Despite the worried phone call from Carl, I had to spend yet another night with Alysha at her place. It wasn’t planned that way, at least by Alysha. She insisted I stay at a motel for the night and pick her up to continue our search of the last couple of residences. Her trust in me is somewhat limited. Oh well. I snuck her phone away when she wasn’t looking and put my own personal tap on it so that it functioned as a bug for me. She’s got a home phone, too, so it seemed possible she’d try to warn someone on that one.

I wanted to keep on going, hopefully nail that stinking son of a koala’s afterbirth in the night, but it seemed like the kind of thing to upset my guide.

As I left Alysha’s, though, I spotted some guy walking up. Magnificent dome on him. I wanted to use his head in an overly elaborate laser trap.

He gave me a look. Wide eyes at first, then he narrowed them. Followed me with his eyes. Immediately, the most polite response to come to mind was to pick him up and drive his head into the floor repeatedly while making barnyard animal noises. It would have been grand, but nooooooooo, I had to behave. Because apparently regular people aren’t allowed to trust people just because they like to murder a little bit.

I was checking my future victim’s Twitter account and email again, making sure he hadn’t skipped town. He tried to, actually. After finding out local chopper pilots were too busy being investigated due to recent attacks on the Statue of Liberty and Empyre State Building, he figured it was easier to take a jet. Unfortunately for him, someone else was reading up on that, because strange events began occurring at private air strips around the city soon after he claimed he would be “Flyyng out of here. Kiss my ass goodby EC!”

Horrible spelling. At least he now has more time in the city to practice grammar. I even have a few practice words he could have been working on. Disembowel. Decapitate. Dental drill. Demolition. Dehydration. Detonate. Deez nuts. Defenestrate. That last one is my personal favorite of the bunch.

Taking a yacht out from clinic’s off-site marina wouldn’t have worked either after the mysterious fire that occurred there a couple days ago. Police suspect arson, but that’s ridiculous. Their suspects are a man in a balaclava and a statue in a balaclava. Utterly ridiculous. Poppycock. A poppy’s cock, I say!

We, and I use that here to refer to the entire bunch of us killing sons of bitches, were all just waiting for him to try and drive out. He wouldn’t get far, I’m sure. Just let him get pulled over once. With his legal trouble, driving history, and a bunch of people out to kill him who probably all monitor police radios, he would be announcing where he was to all of us.

I was dragged from future murderous thoughts to present, at that time, thoughts of slaughter by the sounds from my bug in Alysha’s place. Baldy back there had a raised voice and was demanding to know if I was the reason she told him not to come over lately.

I saw a good way to look heroic in front of the fair damsel, or at least keep my informant from winding up in the hospital. I did what any hero would do: I threw the door open, ran at the man, and gave him a flying dropkick that sent him out the window. We were only five stories up, so yeah… he survived. I know, I’m bummed about it too. Alysha was more shocked than anything else. She wanted to ride along with the guy in the ambulance, who had at most grabbed her a little harder than usual, but I convinced her to stay. Just like I convinced the paramedics in the ambulance that Alysha’s boy toy had slipped and fell down the stairs in such a way that he also dropped out a window. A large wad of cash can make physics do wonderful things.

Stephen Hawking may say different, but I still want a rematch to settle that question in another dance battle.

So it turns out I needed to stay at Alysha’s after all to keep her safe. I don’t think she cared for that so much, but nevertheless, we set out refreshed the next day to bag me a bastard.

Of course, I began to suspect that she had begun to suspect I wasn’t quite a hero. Maybe it was how she’d glance nervously at me, or the way she’d start to type 911, then stop. It could have been the way she texted some friends that she thought she was in trouble, or perhaps it had something to do with her looking up villains who could look like someone else. Nice to see I’m still listed as “Most Likely Dead”. That’s not fair. I’d give myself at least fifty-fifty odds of being alive. What’s Schrodinger’s Cat got that I don’t? Besides a mad Austrian scientist trying to put me in a death trap, of course.

I figured a nice conversation would distract her. “So, just how did a smart person like yourself wind up catering to the lifestyles of the rich and irresponsible?”

“It was good money.”

“Isn’t it? Yep, that’s how it works. A dollar extra an hour for you means a better life to you. To them, it just means having to pretend they’ve sobered up so it’ll get the news and victims’ families off their backs. So it’s either make decent money and enable that, or be poor and slightly more clean.”

“I wanted to help people originally, but everybody has a degree nowadays. It was this or cook fries for McDonald’s,” she said defensively.

“Oh, I get it. I wouldn’t want to work that sort of job either.”

“I was raised by parents who said they wanted me to go to college so I don’t have to have a job flipping burgers, then when they’ve wrecked the economy they wonder why I’m too proud to flip burgers. So instead, I work at the clinic. I’m not a therapist, but some of them honestly want to change, you know. People like you shouldn’t criticize me for something that genuinely does help people who have problems and money,” she raised her voice at me. The conversation had struck a nerve. In the heat of the moment, my propriety was forgotten.

“Hey now, I don’t blame you, or the clinic. It’s not your fault that some people see your life’s value as a dollar sign. Y’all are just one part of an exclusive special society set apart from everyone else. Just think about what the world would be like without such special fancy clinics. Why, people playing bumper cars with the pedestrians might actually have to serve some jail time like a poor person would. More likely, whether they exist or not, judges out there would find some way to let people off who have the power of gratuitous cash. So it’s not like you’re actually doing anything to affect if someone with money thoughtlessly kills people and gets away with it. All the money comes from letting them get away with it, and it’s the money that’s important. Not your fellow man.”

Ouch. Told off by a mass murdering serial killer. But hey, I value people’s lives for reasons other than money. To me, their value is in how fun their death is, or if it’s a little more convenient, or if they’re one of these boy band moron trying to bring back 80s hair. And in the future.

Think of everyone you meet on a daily basis. A kind word here that make someone feel good about themselves. A lover that leads to kids and a family tree. An inspiration that, while not nationally known, still leads to regular people being just a little bit better. And everybody I kill destroys that. Your dream lover never meets you and instead hooks up with some abusive jerk with a tattoo made from playing Connect The Dots with his track marks. The person you would have helped has a miserable day, gets depressed, and decided to fellate a shotgun. The people you would have inspired instead aren’t shown how important that value you instilled was and go on to exemplify the kind of person you hate.

Psh, a dollar value. When I do something to someone, I control an entire multiverse.

Alysha, not privy to my thoughts, glared at me. She even opened her mouth, once, then caught herself. She tried it again, but this time her words were stifled by fear that now replaced her anger. She remembered I probably wasn’t a good person.

“I’m not going to hurt you, or kill you, or anything,” I went ahead and told her. It didn’t reassure her as much as I would have liked. We were not far from reaching diminishing hostage returns, which is the point where the chance of a hostage returning diminishes.

Lucky for her, we found the place. It was easy to make out because of all the wounded and dead people around. I even saw some of the Butterfly gangsters huddled up out by a tree, bench, and trash can. They occasionally fired into the house whenever they saw someone stick a head out. I dropped the illusion of being Cunthead X-treme and took on the guise of my unarmored self as I stepped out of the car. Alysha reached for her door as well, but I locked it all of a sudden.

“Hey, fairy wings gang, is it him?” I nodded toward the two story house. It was fairly similar to the one where I’d encountered Kinnari, actually.

One of the Butterfly gang, who had been one of their guys at the table way back at the meeting, heard me. “Yeah, it’s him. He’s got traps all in there, though. We lost a few guys to it, so we thought we’d just shoot it enough.”

“Might as well be shooting blanks for all the good you’re doing,” I said, to his irritation. Then I ducked my head back into the car.

“So, Alysha, it was nice to meet you and nice to hang out with you. Tell your boyfriend something. I don’t know. Make something up to smooth this over with him. Maybe go with ‘He was just a friend with a magnificent penis. I think I’ll be able to love again, but it’s going to be difficult to ever feel the same way about another man, vaginacly speaking’.”

I stepped out of the car, unlocked her side, then leapt over the car to open it for her. She was not very responsive to my act of kindness. I did help her one last time even as she fled in terror. As I turned to walk away, I saw one of the Butterflies aiming her way. Whatever happened to the old fashioned days of taking a woman out and buying her a nice pair of cement high heels?

I stepped in his way and he got the picture. “Aim somewhere else.” He lowered his gun, then directed the muzzle back towards the building that lay before me like a treasure chest waiting for me to shove my key in its hole. A treasure chest with a fire on the second story. Crap.

For all my talk of guns, you might think I have ulterior motives. That maybe I say all that so no one will have one any time there’s a chance to pop me in the back when I’m out of my suit. Let this next part exemplify why regular people having guns around supervillains is a bad thing.

That Mafioso I mentioned? As I walked toward the house, he shot me. I didn’t take it well. I mean, my armor protected me and I was completely unhurt, but psychologically I didn’t take it well. And then there’s the matter of his gun and his ass. He didn’t take it well either.

His shocked buddies were about to do something, I’m sure, so I grabbed the fellow I knew and a chicken grenade off my belt and I introduced the two. I tore the head off one and tied it to the other’s cock. For clarity’s sake, my rubber chickens aren’t anatomically correct.

Sadly, it seems that in this instance the homophobes were correct in insisting that two cocks touching could wipe out a group of people, though the causality of that statement is fucked over worse than the homophobes themselves in a sauna with a parishioner while their wives are out of town.

Ever refreshed in the blood of mere mortals, I set out for the safehouse that had become much less safe. The place was indeed a death trap. With the cold weather lately, it was a clever move coating the front steps with water to freeze into ice, then tossing on industrial-strength sexual lubricant. Sometimes, you feel like letting your factory sodomize someone, you know?

Piston? No thanks, I’m not into water sports.

I could see where someone was stuck in the doggy door too. Upon closer inspection, the Butterfly pin laying nearby was suggestive of his identity. He was either a mobster who dreamed he was a butterfly, or he was a butterfly who dreamed he was a mobster. I tried to kick him out of the way, but the metal on his coat, and probably his zipper too come to think about it, had frozen to the ice.

No one was getting out that way, so I figured I’d try for a side or rear entrance.

The back door was booby trapped as well, complete with a flaming booby in a white robe laying at the bottom of the stairwell. The backdoor went into the basement, so there were stairs leading down to it. Those stairs were glistening with ice. The booby I mentioned, a Klansman, was down at the bottom and made a convenient step to get over the ice down there. I got a little surprise when I opened the door, too. A string had been rigged up to trigger a makeshift flamethrower at about head height. That explained the dead secessionist in the doorway. Ding dong, the dumbass was dead.

It left me feeling a little hot under, or over, the collar, but I didn’t exactly stand still when it went off. Some of us respond to seeing a dead man on fire by leaping directly into things.

I didn’t know at the time where the little nutsack had gotten his trap ideas from, but I liked it even then. I stopped liking it around the time a paint can almost got me on the stairs up to the second story. Despite the smoke and possibility that fire had weakened the floor, I jumped the rest of the way up. I found another Klansman waiting for me, his robe marred with soot. He held out his hands and tried to plead for mercy while coughing. I punched down, splattering his head like a ripe watermelon and dropping him halfway through the floor. Float like a butterfly, sting like King Ghidorah.

“What’s going on back there?” called a voice from a nearby room. As I found out, it was our old pal Curtain Call. His outfit wasn’t as spiffy as it usually was. That smoke was getting everywhere. I think the fire was off in the rear of the house, but even distant flames can be a problem. Smoke poured out of the house’s ductwork. Ventilation is very handy when you have smoke in one location and need to get it everywhere in a dwelling. The fire was isolated, but the confusion was shared with everybody.

Curtain Call had the target at gunpoint. A gun was his signature weapon ever since that first fateful assassination by the originator of his gimmick. I set my hand on his head and twisted it around. “Soliloquy’s over, like your acting.” Then I reached in, grabbed his tongue, and gave it a hard pull for good measure. His head flopped toward me a bit, so I actually had to hold onto him with one hand and pull with the other, but I snapped it out of him after a second in time to look down at the cowering, sniveling little idiot in front of me.

I wish I could say there was some epic fight here. That he could make himself grow, or a cool car for the remaining killers and I to get into a big chase, or even some sort of chemical he could inject to become an insectoid monster.

But no. He was just a man who could have been dealt with by anybody long before then. I wouldn’t say I pitied him. I just didn’t like him. He was shit. Full-on feces. He had been sitting on his ass, tear stains and snot running down his face, but then he inexplicably tried to duck around me. It didn’t work and I put him back in his place with a boot.

“I should never have had to deal with you, you piece of crap. Every life you’ve destroyed and you’re just a little worm. No, the pillow doesn’t make you invisible to me. See, ya never learned. Power is a means, and only as strong the person wielding it. Just die and stop using valuable air.”

I gave him the ole 63: I shoved my right hand up his asshole, grabbed on real tight, and rotated him 63 degrees. This time, I finished it by extending the Nasty Surprise miniature chainsaw under my left arm and taking his head off while I held him up. Unfortunately, it didn’t pop off like a cork. Oh well. It’s tough to get all the red wine up anyway.

Seconds later, Kinnari herself showed up and split the body from neck hole to groin in her frustration. She’s cute when she’s just a little too late and doesn’t see me watching her invisibly while slipping around behind her. Courtesy of approaching flames and the resulting melting effect that tends to have on a lot of electronics, she got out of there on my heels. My invisible heels, though a little smoke was threatening to expose me with every step. The dripping blood from the severed head wasn’t helping matters either.

I considered giving her a Nasty Surprise too, but then she made herself useful. She handled the crowd of police officers while I hightailed it for the car, my suit straining to hide gaps in coverage caused by soot and my brief run-ins with fire. Energy discs halved cars and cops alike. Bullets bounced off her armor and her extended tail wings. In the end, our escapes were serendipitously synchronized, albeit with me hidden behind tinted glass. Everyone was a little too busy with the entire mess to worry about one car escaping.

Next will be to meet up with the boys and go set up a rendezvous with whoever wants this thing on a silver platter. In the end, though, I’m the one who has made it out with the head, and sometimes a little head is all you need to get ahead.

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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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