Tag Archives: Mechamoto Musashi

Not The Size That Counts 8

The next few days went by quickly. Too quickly. No, don’t worry. I doubt there was any time alteration going on. Sometimes things just seem to happen too fast.

First and most unfortunate, the public nudity is over. We managed to get clothes that fit, though I once again need to get a new coat and shades. That was something that Holly insisted on. Between her and Sam, she generally hasn’t been the assertive one. Either she was particularly upset over this whole ordeal, or she just didn’t care to see jiggly bits longer than necessary.

We all wound up in cheap t-shirts, pants, and sneakers as a result. Max rocked a kind of fancy floofy shirt burgundy jacket goth look. Sam preferred black clothing. I like shades and a long coat. Holly was more for polo shirts and capris. It was a quick fix only. Sam in particular was miffed that she couldn’t find a black t-shirt. She got stuck in periwinkle. At least I got an old wrestling shirt. Give it up for the Blue World Order.

That occupied us with the first night. The next day, we needed to figure out what we had to fight with. That meant checking the trunk to see if the heroes robbed me blind again. Which brings me to one of the great philosophical questions of life: if robbing is said to leave a person blind, and so is rubbing one out, then does that mean that shooting a load of manfluid is the equivalent of someone stealing from you? I mean, considering all the people who tried to get athletes and students to avoid masturbation or sex for fear it would take some of the manliness out of them, I have to wonder if the two ideas are really linked. Also, why has this world worried so much about penises causing eye damage?

The gear I had Leah load up originally was still in the trunk of my car. Troubleshooter may have gone through and messed with parts of my lovely Black Sunshine, but she didn’t get to that stuff. There was a funny moment though when we checked my costume and found more than one packed in there. That’s right, Leah grabbed the Missile Patriot costume too.

I saw it and started laughing. And didn’t stop. That worried Sam, who came over to check. Then she started laughing. Max followed, and then Holly. We had this long giggle fit there in the parking lot of the motel we were at, staring at that costume in there and remembering my brief stint as a hero. It was cathartic, I think. Things were back to normal. We weren’t trapped and the world no longer loomed over us menacingly.

We were free and clear. For the moment. I finished laughing ahead of the others though, as the costume reminded me of Leah. I missed Leah. What’s that, Robot Devil? People can’t just say how they feel? That makes you angry? Is it any wonder that people not being clear like that has been both a tool to create drama and the opposite of what marriage counselors advise?

“Well, who wants to go make the bastards pay?” I asked after we were all chuckled out.

Max raised his hand and hopped up and down like an excited schoolboy. Sam looked over at Holly, who nodded enthusiastically, before giving a nod and a grin of her own in approval.

“Good. From time to time, a person should reinforce for their enemies why they are not to be fucked with, especially when the enemy proceeds to fuck preemptively. My counter fucking shall serve two purposes. We need to get my minions back. I don’t know where either of them are, not really. Carl was shipped off to a distribution center, so he could be anywhere in the States, and possibly a few places in Canada and Mexico. In other words, this fight could go international. Similarly, I’m almost certain they’d have handed Moai over to Faustus. I’ll need to hunt them down too, but that should be a piece of cake. My goal is to inflict grievous harm on Hephaestus until they submit like a little bitch. We shall go on to the end. We shall fuck them in France, we shall fuck on the seas and oceans, we shall fuck them with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, whatever the cost may be. We shall fuck them on the beaches, we shall fuck them on the landing grounds, we shall fuck in the fields and in the streets, we shall fuck in the hills; we shall never fucking surrender. Now, are you with me?”

“Question: you’re using fuck metaphorically, right?” asked Sam.

“Fucking A,” I answered.

“Yeah!” said my pumped-up friend-ish people.

“Alright, now first I need to get to Amplitude. He was going to tell me Moai was with Faustus before we were interrupted. Or at least I think I know that. I’ll talk to him, confirm that, and see if he feels like telling me where they are. Considering I’ll be in the same room with him while he’s on life support, I feel like he’ll want to cooperate with me.”

“Actually, I have a better idea,” Sam spoke up. She leaned against the shiny black body of the car.

“Shoot.”

“Not that. I think Amplitude will be more comfortable if you aren’t in the room. You can send a go-between with a phone. That way anybody watching the hospital won’t clue in on you right away.”

“Not bad. Careful, now you’re getting involved in my schemes, Sam.”

“Pfft, yeah right. This isn’t all about you, you hear? I want this bastard hurt too. I just want a front row seat to whatever you dish out.”

“Sometimes I destroy the first few rows.”

“A metaphorical front row.”

“Gotcha. I’m getting a perfect idea. My mind is a raging torrent, flooded with rivulets of thought cascading into a waterfall of creative alternatives.”

“Gecko,” said Max, “You use your tongue prettier than a twenty dollar whore.”

“That may be, but this twenty dollar whore is going to need a dump truck, lots of sugar, a singing greeting card, and a crane. Hmmm…no, a crane and a pair of giant rubber bands, like the surplus that gets sold to North Korea for its rocket program. Get me all that, people, and I think we’ve got ourselves a plan.”

They got me all that. The details would be mostly boring, as the trio were quite happy to see this whole thing happen. It just took a couple days.

I worried about finding the target in the meantime. Luckily, I still had my guy in the know. Harlon. The pudgy news executive was doing well for himself, especially when I dropped some juicy tidbits of information. I even gave him a tip about coming attractions, though it was contingent upon getting the scoop about Amplitude. Good fellow, Harlon. He had been part of a trio of guys trying to produce this series that would have involved delving into the pasts of supervillains. It was inevitable they’d run into someone who wasn’t happy about that kind of attention. I killed the other two and gave Harlon a run down of why I am the way I am. I also killed some other high-falootin’ asshole over there. I kept Harlon alive, though. Good guy to have owe me his life. It worked out for him too. He’s been on the fast track to success ever since those obstacles were removed from his path and he grew a backbone.

My past wasn’t fun, but then neither are a lot of people’s. It’s not uncommon for someone who wants to be all-powerful to have come from a life where they had no power and only ate when others had mercy. If they bothered to look around in the cracks of their society, with its millions of debtors, its hungry, its disenfranchised masses yearning to have a say in the world, then they’d have seen the problem. Any one of them would be rightly resentful of the kind of life Forcelight has had.

That got me the “where” and I gave him the “when”. “The Who” was a British band from the 1960s. The “who” was Sam Hain, loyal henchwoman to Mix N’Max. She went in pretending to belong there, carrying a card and flowers. Once she got into a bathroom, she changed into some store bought scrubs. She still had to get through the police guard detail and the silent, judging stare of Mechamoto Musashi. She said she snuck in by stealing a bag of IV fluid and claiming Amplitude’s needed to be switched out.

Once she was in, she pulled the card out of the scrubs and set it in on this tray table that she moved so Amplitude would have to look right at it. According to the camera inside the card, he was in bad shape. They had him all hooked up to machines for everything from breathing to crapping. They may have been a lot of hypocrisy in my dislike of him, but there was a fair bit of it at his own depression over being left in such a powerless position.

At least the card was encouraging. It featured yours truly on the front in a lab coat, holding a bloody bonesaw and a grin that I suppose some people might have interpreted as “malicious”. It said, “Sorry to hear about your spine.” The inside featured me again, nude, miniature in comparison to my surroundings in a lab, with blood all around and a laser gun in one hand. The camera lens was in the gun barrel. “But you fucked up when you went after me and mine. Get well soon.”

Amplitude’s heart rate increased at that.

“Hey, calm down, calm down. I’m not in the room, nor do I have any intention of stepping foot in that building. My associates have talked me out of that, figuring it would be beneficial. After all, you don’t have to worry I’ll kill you if you say the wrong thing. So speak to me, man. Where’s Moai? Do you have any more information about where the other people were taken?”

His voice was gravelly when he spoke. He hadn’t put it to much use. “Why should I talk?”

“That’s a very good question for you to ask a guy with regenerative nanotechnology. Sam, do you have the package with you?”

She didn’t know what I was talking about, but Amplitude couldn’t turn his head anyway. She glanced down at the IV bag and answered, “Yeah. I have it.”

“Good. See, Ass Man, you can answer and get yourself healed all without me being present? Isn’t that the best deal ever?”

“You hate me. Why would you heal me?”

“I’m eccentric. I’m allowed to randomly forgive people.”

“I don’t trust you. That could be poison.”

“I don’t trust you either. You might lie to me and escape.”

He looked at me. I looked back at him.

“Sam, put the bag full of a mysterious substance in there so that Amplitude’s hungry hungry veins drink it allllll up.”

“Wait, whoever you are, that’s not poison is it?”

Sam smirked where Amplitude couldn’t see. “I don’t know. He’s the one who made it. I was just supposed to come here and hook it up to you know matter what you said.”

“I won’t let you get played for a fool. Let me see it. I’m a doctor. I know what I’m talking about.”

Sam pulled out a marker and wrote on the bag. Then she held it out in front of Amplitude’s face, blocking my view. When she pulled it away, there was triumph in his eyes. Sam showed me the writing on it as well. It read “Good stuff. I promise,” with a smiley face underneath it.

“Aha! I knew it was too good to be true. That’s what separates the- Wait, don’t put it in.”

“Put it in, Sam.”

“Do not put that in. I-..alright, I’ll tell you what you want to know.”

“You heard him, Sam. Let’s hold off on giving him our little bag of Super Secret Tofu-Rectal Thermoganglia Arrestus after all.” It wasn’t the bluff I was originally going for, but it worked out.

“Your rock man is with Faustus. They found him fascinating. They’re separate from Hephaestus, but I was a company man and I did some crossover acquisitions work with them. Your best bet is New Orleans. They have another major set up in California, but they do not like to keep all their eggs in one basket. Magical artifacts can interfere with each other and do some horrid things.”

“So, New Orleans. N’awlins. Okily dokily, looks like Faustus is in hot jambalaya now. What about the distribution center for the other people? Anything at all you can tell me? Guards, security procedures, obvious holes?”

“They rely on appearing to be a normal distributor. You need the right identity badge to get in, but their guards are from in house. They keep backup in the area, out of sight. They are as lax as anyone about their trucks as long as drivers have their credentials.”

Naturally, I didn’t trust him to have told me the whole story, and I couldn’t confirm a thing he said, but he backed up my hypothesis that Faustus had Moai. The rest of this info I could hold on to and see how it worked later.

“I think you can go now, Sam. Don’t forget to take your bag of perfectly harmless fluid with. Might as well leave this card here. I’m sure nothing will convince Ass Master there to get well enough to go to jail quite like this encouraging card. Isn’t that right, Ass Master?”

“I thought I was Ass Man?”

“Silence, Ass Hole! See you later, Sam.”

Sam waved and got out of there.

Meanwhile, back where I was, I was getting honked at by some frustrated behind me who wished I’d go already. I was in a ground floor parking lot near the hospital, driving a dump truck. It was time for me to do my thing, so the driver behind me got their wish. I stopped holding up navigation as I put the truck into gear and accelerated. I didn’t stop. I gained speed as parked cars blurred on either side of me as I aimed for the edge of the lot. I hit the side of the lot and hopped it, tires bouncing over the divider. It was then that my truck caught the rubber bands hanging down from the crane.

They strained against the cab of the truck as I kept going, speeding into an intersection past my car Black Sunshine. Holly gave me a thumbs up as cars honked angrily at her where she’d stopped the car to bring traffic to a halt. I stopped getting anywhere as Max moved the crane’s arm back toward the hospital. The front of the truck and the cab’s windshield both made unfriendly noises from where the bands strained against them.

I took a moment to crawl my ass out the window and just over one of the bands, then held on to the cab and the edge of the rear dumpy holdy place. Not sure what the technical name is for where all the sugar was. Or all the ants. There were a lot of them in there an they were pissed, probably because I grabbed so many different hives of them.

Then the truck, the ants, and I were all yanked back as the bands snapped back and the crane lifted us into the air. The truck’s rear dipped lower than the rest of it so that when it crashed into the side of the hospital, it spilled a massive pile of sugar covered in warring ants into the hospital room where it crashed. Completely by coincidence, wink wink, that happened to be Amplitude’s room. Funny how that worked out.

The flaw in my plan was that I had gotten used to not being hurt by running into things and wasn’t wearing my armor, so things weren’t quite so coincidentally advantageous where I splatted into the wall. I didn’t completely fall down as I did manage to slow myself down through wild scrabblings at the wall and windows. When my concussion cleared up, I was actually really impressed with how I did there. Still didn’t stop me from landing hard on the sidewalk.

I wasn’t much looking forward to standing up and walking, but I had a hand from Sam. She helped me up and let me lean on her as we went to meet Holly at the car.

“You’re probably going to ruin your seats, you know?” Sam said.

“That’s just from the rain. I didn’t bring a jacket,” I told her.

“It’s not raining and it’s only your pants that are wet.”

“Right, I didn’t bring my leg jacket. It’s a thing in Australia.”

“Sure it is. What about the back of your pants? That’s definitely not-“

“It’s delicious chocolate pudding. I brought it along as a snack and then landed on it.”

“Uh huh. Then let me be the first to thank you for your sacrifice. As long as it got rid of that bastard, I don’t care if you lost your pudding or your pants jacket.”

“Why thank you, Sam. Please inject me with tiny robots and wake me when I’m dry.”

And with that I was out.

 

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Not The Size That Counts 7

My time as a pet Gecko wasn’t well spent.

You folks out there, you want to know why I’d rather make heroes choose between killing me and letting me go? This shit right here. Being locked in a dark little box, day after day. Shrunken. Powerless. Stuck in a tiny box at the mercy of a man who saw me as less than a person because that’s what made him feel good morally.

Some of you may see some hypocrisy there. I guess it’s important to understand that I didn’t say people weren’t people. I said they were babies. You should understand as well that I don’t actually care about people’s lives.

Well, perhaps I did have some exceptions to that caring thing, but Leah and Venus stuck me in this can and handed me over without so much as some whiskey in the jar-o.

I had tried to get out in some way, but Amplitude was smart. His phone was disabled when not being used. No battery power. He didn’t have a giant screen, but he did have computers that were secured, to my frustration. There was nothing in my immediate vicinity that I could worm my way into. Alone in the dark, laying on the floor of the giftbox I was handed over in, I did the only thing I could.

I sang. That, and I researched some fun ways to off people. I had no intention of staying stuck. I had Hephaestus to destroy. After that, it might be time to pay Kingscrow another visit, followed by a nice vacation on the west coast, I think.

Unfortunately, he must have found some way to resist the destructiveness of my singing. It’s not a special power, it’s just me sucking hard. It didn’t even phase him when he dropped off scraps of food for me. That part wasn’t quite so inhumane, though. At this size, scraps gave me leftovers.

Today was different. Today, my world got turned upside down. That’s not much of an accomplishment once you remember that I live in a small metal box. It got a bit messy though. Troubleshooter didn’t leave me with a toilet, or an outhouse, or even a hole in the floor. It didn’t help my mood to be lifted up in this thing and realize I was sliding toward my poop corner while getting tipped out. I pressed off from the wall and dove out instead.

I rolled as I hit the wood surface I had been tipped out on, but didn’t get far. Amplitude, now much smaller than a human, got me in one hand and tossed aside my box with the other. Being as small as I was made me nimble as a mouse. Problem was, Amplitude was more like a cat in size when he grabbed me. I almost got free before he grabbed one of my arms and pulled it out straight. He pulled out a black gadget, stuck my hand under one part of it, and then closed another part of it on me. Clever.

I hadn’t been able to see it at the time, but this blocky black device must have been what Leah handed over. Forcelight had explained that it was capable of making me compliant. You’d think they would have been wrong since other cuffs meant to neutralize supers had failed against me. This time, they were right. A shame they had to alter something so elegant. I calmed down even as Amplitude locked my other hand into the device.

There I was, a prisoner in old, stinky doll clothes facing a superpowered enemy in a fresh costume.

Amplitude kept an eye on me for any odd behavior as he grew back to his normal size. He carried me over toward a small table with metal cuffs on it. He must have interrogated small people regularly to have that built. He even had one of those rolling office chairs right in front of it as if torture was an everyday occurrence. “That relaxed you nicely. I can’t imagine what all this trouble was about, seeing you like this. You’re not even capable of shouting insults at me. Just standing there with that smartass smile on your face. Psycho Gecko, I hope you take it as compliment when I say I am completely disappointed in you.”

“Don’t be disappointed yet. It’s kinda hard to stop me.” I felt my nerves connect to the doohickey my hands were stuck in.

He shook me in his hand like I was an annoyance. “Hush. It was easy. Even someone like you can not take on the world alone.”

He didn’t have much of a grip on me, though. He was just about to put me in his tiny torture rack. He was so damn cool and collected, up until the moment I activated the anti-grav device stuck to my hands. Rather than render the person using it immune to the effects of gravity, it temporarily negated it for something else. This time the something else in question was Amplitude as he took a step.

Instead of merely moving forward, he went up into the air. I used his panicked confusion to slip free and fall to the ground. I landed safely on the ground while he banged into a truss, spun out, and slammed into the ceiling.

He grabbed hold of the rafters and got himself oriented, looking down at me. “Some trick you have here, Gecko. The heroes set this up?”

“Heroes? Set up a villain? Get used to it, Ass Man.”

He grit his teeth. “That is not my name.” Using the rafters, he flung himself at me. His size distorted in midair. His hand alone grew to be at least a couple feet from base to fingertips. Still, the agility provided by my size proved useful. I was Muhammad Ali dodging him there. A four inch Caucasian Muhammad Ali with blond hair and cybernetic eyes. Perfect metaphor. As he crumpled harmless against the cold concrete floor, I ran at him from the side. I swung both of my arms in a mighty double uppercut that, along with him bouncing off the floor, knocked him up to the ceiling again.

I immediately turned the uppercut into me spinning around and reaching for the sky in a dance move that would have been seductive if performed by a woman in a cat costume. “Oh, Macavity, Macavity, there’s no one like Macavity, he’s a fiend in feline shape; he breaks the law of gravity.”

“Shut up and fight me like a man!” replied Amplitude. He was such a newbie.

He came for me again, but this time I knew what I needed to do. I turned to the table where he intended to torture me, and more specifically to the chair. I zapped it with the anti-gravity thingamabobber, grabbed it, and beat the shit out of Amplitude’s face with it in a blow that sent him through a door and into a showroom full of unusually large pants. That was the way out. The front to his hideout.

Obviously, I wasn’t there to look for a new way to escape. I was looking for Mix N’Max. I turned to survey the room I was in. There wasn’t much to it. A computer system, the table with the torture rack, another table with my box on it next to a TV and coffee maker. It didn’t look overly out of place as the breakroom of a clothing store. There was another door, though.

I slipped through the bottom of the door to survey the new room. It was more like what I expected. Black carpeting, black walls with the occasional white “A” around. Another computer on its own special desk in the middle of the room. It faced a wall that of various cages that had been screwed or nailed up. Rodent cages, I mean. The kind of things you stuck rats or hamsters in. Some were connected by the sorts of tubes those cages had, and I could make out some crowds in those cages. I only noticed ones or twos in the isolated cages. Escape didn’t appear to be much of an option, though. A long, open-top terrarium sat underneath the rodent cages. I couldn’t make out what was in that terrarium.

I approached the cages and yelled to them, “It is I, the Great and Devious Psycho Gecko, here to save you!”

The people in the cages began to yell for me. I held up my hands. “Shut up you crazy, desperate fuckers! Before I can save everyone, I need to know where I can find someone who can reverse my size problem. Where is Mix N’Max?”

I thought it was a waste of time at first. They babbled and pounded on the side of their cage. Then I realized the pounding was an answer. I checked the other side of the room and saw a cart next to a set of shelves full of small devices meant to hold shrunken people. Only one of them was active: a cylinder that rotated end over end that sat next to a small pot.

Maybe it tested puke resistance.

I didn’t have long, I figured. I knew the anti-gravity effect was temporary, but not how temporary. Temporary is one of those phrases that’s more like a creepy uncle who likes to play “Fun Touchy Time” with you in the basement. It’s relative.

Firing on this cylinder wouldn’t do squat, except make it harder to work with Max. I really wish I had explosives. That wasn’t necessarily relevant to the situation, it’s just something I’ve often thought about lately. I figured that if Amplitude put Max in that thing, though, he probably had a means to get him out.

I was right. I made the anti-grav manacles let me go and dropped them so I could climb. I scrambled my ass up the cart and hopped on a shelf, then stacked some equipment up until I could jump to the next one. Just because I’m a supervillain doesn’t mean I’m not also a Super Mario.

So, how was I to free Mix N’Max? How was I to surmount such an insurmountable obstacle? Turns out, the thing was plugged in to make it rotate. Once that was out of the way, there was a release on the side. Max came tumbling out. I stopped him from rolling off the edge of the shelf, and I held his hair out of his face as he threw up over the side.

“There you go, Max. Let it all out. Remember, puke is just hunger leaving the body.”

“Wha?” he asked, then heaved some clear fluids up. He had run out of food at that point.

“Just going by the same logic as that ‘Pain is weakness leaving the body’ phrase. Makes perfect sense like that.”

“It’s so good to see you, man,” Max said without even looking at me. He kept dealing with false starts on another heave.

“Yeah. I’m here to bust y’all out. I don’t suppose you know a way to make me grow so I can take out Amplitude, do you?”

He stood up and turned toward me. He didn’t look quite as pale, for some reason, which was odd on several levels. His hair was a mess, he was naked, and he had vomit in the corner of his lips and hanging down from his nostrils. Still, it’s not like there was any reason for me to push him away when he went to hug me.

“Not to rush you, man, but Amplitude could get back here any minute, and you need to find someway to make me big again. Preferably some way that also works on my inorganic components. You got something?”

It was a regrettable question. Max did indeed have a solution for my problem. The solution wound up involving some of what he’d just expelled and I was beginning to think his power was to give any fluid around any effect he wanted.

See, he had hopped onto the cart. There were some things there he could use. Chemicals mainly, but also some small bowls that he said were kept around in case a prisoner of Amplitude’s couldn’t eat solid food anymore. Max even made use of some of the cleaning supplies on there, using a bleach wipe as a filter.

I did not want to drink what he handed me in a bowl five minutes later.

“You have to drink some, then pour the rest on yourself,” Max explained.

“I don’t want to do either of those.”

“It’s as safe as anything else I make.”

“If I was worried about that, that still wouldn’t be comforting. More concerned about how gross it is.”

“You’ve done gross things before.”

“I don’t generally consume gross things.”

“Yeah right. Just because you don’t know what they do to your fast food…”

I heard a crash from the other room. A crash that sounded like a chair hitting the ground. Time was up.

“Ok, ok, I got this,” I said. I dropped to my knees and bashed my head against the metal cart, then swallowed some of the stuff before I could think. Then I splattered the rest all over myself.

“I feel…dirty, like I just poured baked beans on myself.” I shivered, then asked Max, “Hey, by the way, is this going to be uneven in any way? Like am I going to be big again but still have the same size dick or something? Because I’d like to go the other way on that if we could.”

Then I noticed I was looking down on my smiling friend-like person and hopped off the shopping cart.

The landing was a bit rougher.

“Don’t worry, you’ll be regular-sized in a minutes.”

I heard footsteps in the other room. By the time I was as tall as the cart, he was coming closer. I waited next to the door as I grew. Amplitude burst in, eyes glowing, having to duck to get inside the room. I was maybe half his height, so I ducked and rammed into the side of his left leg with my shoulder. He tried to catch himself and might have succeeded if didn’t try that on the other leg too. He spun his arms and tried to catch onto something, but it didn’t help. He fell slowly. Staying out of eyesight, I grabbed the metal cart. Max abandoned ship as I swung it overhand and caught Amplitude in the head. He slumped back with a sigh, but I didn’t stop until I’d gotten a few more swings in. I’m sure y’all would think that was reasonable, right? Just one or two…dozen…more hits to the man’s head.

Finally, when I was finished, I turned to look down at the miniscule smiling figure of Max, who walked over and gave Amplitude a kick in the side. “Hey, Max. Any idea where he keeps the sharp objects around here?”

He woke up, by the way. He wasn’t dead yet. Oh, no no no. It took some slapping, even Max throwing water on him, before Amplitude woke up.

“Huwha? What’s going on? Agh! My head! What’s going on?”

“Well, look who decided to join us. Wakey wakey, sleepyhead.”

He turned his head to try and look at me, but there were all sorts of problems with that. First was the blindfold. The second was the paralysis.

“I can’t move. I can’t see. What’s going on?”

“Relax, puppet. Here, let Uncle Gecko tell everyone the story.”

“Everyone? What’s going on? Help!”

I shifted in my chair, being real careful in how the giant Amplitude was seated on me. Had to keep my hand up his ass, you see. My other hand was too busy moving this wooden stick that had a length of rope fixed to it. The rope formed a loop that let me move Amplitude’s hand.

I ignored Amplitude’s desperate pleading and addressed the others I’d released who were slowly being treated by Max. He was still small. I saw some of the clubgoers in the crowd, as well as people I had never seen before. Maybe other prisoners of Amplitudes. Sam and Holly were there as well. People had kinda gotten over the lack of modesty seeing as nobody had any regular-sized clothes.

I started using a stupid, high pitched voice as I spoke to them as Amplitude, using the stick to help him gesture as I told the tale, “Howdy there folks! I’m Ass Man, the Human Ass! I work for Hephaestus. They hired me to pick on Psycho Gecko because he wanted to be paid with all the rights to a song. Why? None of your business! But he got mean with us. Yessiree, the mass murdering serial killer with the exploding chickens didn’t want to be treated like a simple car thief. That made Hephaestus angry, so we decided to waste lots of money attacking him!”

“Who are you talking to?” asked Amplitude. Sounded like he was crying. If I could have gotten around there easily, I’d have lapped up some of his tears.

“Shut up!” I told him in the same high pitched voice. Then I continued. “So I pretended I was better scum than Gecko by kidnapping a lot of people whose only crime was going to the wrong club. What does this make me, class?”

“A jerk!”

“Bullshit!”

“Asshole!”

“Dickbutt!”

“Wow, the class really thinks Ass Man is a jerk, huh? That’s good, because then I ran into Psycho Gecko again. He had been shrunk but got away. A hero was helping him to fight back, but then they decided they would turn on Gecko. Sure, they gave him a way to escape, but they didn’t bother to tell him. They just talked him into calming down long enough to turn him over to Amplitude. Why should they care if Amplitude dies? Why care if Gecko dies either? Nevermind that he’s in the right here and they are supposed to help people. Fuck people, they get to be heroes. Whiny little bitches whining about their own drama rather than getting out there and stopping the real assholes. So they shit on Psycho Gecko because he’s a mean, friendless, unloved, attention-grabbing asshole!”

“Why you-?” I said as I dropped the arm stick and punched him in the side. There was no reaction. “Right, forgot you couldn’t feel that.”

“Feel what?” he asked.

“Feel what?” I asked in the high-pitched voice.

“That’s right, Ass Man. After they handed me over, I got loose, broke Max out, and you got knocked the fuck out. That was fun by the way. So then I was standing there, thinking about how best to violate your sphincter with my fist, when I realized I needed to make sure you wouldn’t try anything. Step one was the blindfold.” I made him smack himself in the face.

“Step two, and maybe you’ll respect this one given all your little toys around here…well, getting technical would be difficult, but it turns out that a sharp, pointy object near the right cervical vertebra can let you do things like turn an asshole into a quadriplegic. Sure, you lost bladder control, but that’s not your biggest concern at this point. So you could, in theory, make yourself grow big. Problem is, you’re still not going to be able to walk…or crawl…hell, you may notice some difficult with your breathing right now, and that’s even with my help moving your diaphragm. By the way, you may be suffering some internal bleeding. Oh, stop your whining, you big baby. Did you really think this was going to end like it does with heroes? That we’d have some fifty foot tall fight in the middle of the city? Awesome as that would be, you’re in the wrong story if you think I’d give you a fair fight.”

“You did- fuck. HEEEEELP! Help me! Somebody help!”

“Shut up!” I said and clamped his hand down over his mouth. It muffled him until he figured out I wanted him quiet.

“I’ll do anything, I mean it. I’m sorry, you were just a job. Nothing personal.”

“That’s the problem with you types. It’s always personal. But I’m not so bad a guy. I’ll help you out a bit, ease some of that suffering of yours, provided you tell me a few things. Like what happened to everyone else? There’s a lot of people missing here, so I’m guessing some of them got turned over. Test subjects? Where’s Carl? Where’s Moai?” I growled at him, feeling the world react outside. Calls had been made from all the disturbances.

He thought it over while he caught his breath. “Yeah, test subjects. I didn’t hand over everyone because I wanted to study some, like your friend Mix N’Max. I don’t know where they all ended up by now, but they created me in house. I know they have these big distribution warehouses. Ship everything there, figure out where they need it, then send it off. They’ll have one near here, since it’s such an important area. I’m new to the city. I mostly worked in California. If you can get to their records, they’ll call it something innocuous. Some place no sane person would attack.”

I checked my memory for the list we obtained from the accounting office. There it was. It was so obvious, looking back on it now. They had a location in New Jersey listed as “Piñata Factory for Sick Children with Cleft Palates and Puppies with Amputated Legs.” It was my next target before the heroes found me.

“Yeah, I got it.”

“But that’s not where your statue is. You promise you’ll help me?”

A voice broke in behind us all. “You’ll get medical help, don’t worry.”

I turned see an unwelcome sight. Forcelight, Mechamoto Musashi, Troubleshooter, Venus, and Leah.

“Still with them, L?”

She looked away. “No. I just helped them with that plan.”

Venus shifted, moving part of the way between myself and Leah. “We figured it was only a matter of time before you got out. We had a sensor on the container we put you in.”

Troubleshooter jumped in, “Yeah, it uses magnets, just like some home alarms. It didn’t keep it closed, but it sent a signal every time it was opened. We just had to check whenever it opened, but most of the time nothing seemed to happen. If I had more time, I would have put in a temperature sensor, but we didn’t have a lot of time and we needed to worry about space, battery power, conspicuousness-.”

Forcelight cut her off. “We knew that if you got out, you would give us an opening. Now, put your hands in the air and step away from that man’s butt.”

“Seems bad for my health. I have no assurances you’ll just let me and my fellows here go. They’ve been hoping I’d kill this man. They’re right, you know. He deserves it for what he’s done to them.” I looked to Leah about that. It was a lesson, one which she should sympathize with. “Isn’t that right, people?”

“You guys suck.”

“Bullshit.”

“Assholes!”

“Dick butt!”

The goody-goodies weren’t used to public disapproval. I even heard Mechamoto’s digitally distorted voice as he muttered, “Dick butt?”

Forcelight, ever the person to be a leader making hard decisions, told them what’s what. “Too bad. For all of you.” She looked at the crowd of naked people whose stares bored into her. I saw her unable to keep looking at them, breaking that stoicism of hers.

“Alright, so here is how it’s going to go,” I dictated to the heroes. “We’ll go. All of us. Fuck you and your procedure. We go. You really want Amplitude here? Fine, you get him. I don’t recommend taking the blindfold off. And we all walk out of here, our righteous desire for revenge abated…so long as you don’t try to take anyone but Amplitude into custody.”

I slid my hand out of my puppet and dropped him to the floor, then wiped my hand off on the leg of his costume. I smiled then as I stood up and walked right over. I motioned for people to file out, but Forcelight grabbed me by my clean arm.

“Why do you think we should just let you go? We’re not your personal enforcers, Gecko.” Forcelight glared at me.

A few people gave me grateful pats on the shoulder as they left. No one tried to stop any other villains in the crowd. Max, Sam, and Holly waited for me, though.

“Because, my dear hero, you care about the life of that piece of shit on the floor over there. The one named Amplitude, not the drippings from my hand here. Do you think I, the Great and Devious Psycho Gecko, would shove his hand up a man’s ass just to humiliate him? You’ll let me go because there’s a bomb in there waiting to go off if I give the signal.”

Forcelight took her hand off me. I’d just gotten on the heroes’ bad side again. I could even feel Mechamoto glaring at me, silent as always.

“This isn’t over,” Venus said to me.

I chuckled in her face. “No, it isn’t.” I looked her right in the eye. Looked Leah in the eye too, but I couldn’t stay mad at her.

Then I walked out, finally the right size. I snagged some clothes out of the store that fronted Amplitude’s hideout. They didn’t fit because it was a big and tall store, but it was enough to be my own size, clothed, and have my car back. It was waiting right where the heroes had parked it, if a little worse for the wear.

Holly, Max, and Sam were all waiting by it. Sam spoke up as they looked it over, “You do something with your car, Gecko?”

“Nah, but they did. I just took out their tracker, but they disabled my network access to it, so I didn’t even see it coming.” I grabbed the door’s handle, letting it recognize my DNA. “Doesn’t mean I can’t get in. Come on, let’s go.”

Don’t worry, readers. It’s definitely not over. Amplitude owes me, you see. He owes me Moai’s location. He owes me a death. That’s right, I didn’t turn around and blow him up just as soon as I left. That’s because I lied to Forcelight. I did indeed shove various objects up his ass, but none of them were bombs.

That should teach them never to underestimate my desire to shove my hand up a man’s ass.

 

Next

Previous

Not The Size That Counts 6

You know, I could have gone to any ole dimension. I could have even visited you readers out there. Instead, I wound up in this one. Let me tell you, they don’t treat me well. No parades in my honor, no people falling at my feet willing to serve. It’s enough to make a guy feel unwelcome.

Locking me up behind bars was a bad way for them to start. I arrived in this dimension originally at the epicenter of an explosion that destroyed some buildings and killed some people. Next thing I knew, they yanked my armor off me and had me all locked up. Can you believe that? Horrible way to treat some disoriented person who didn’t even know the language. Unlike most illegal aliens, though, they couldn’t exactly deport me. Instead, they were going to settle on leaving me in jail while they tried to bring in a linguist, a lawyer, and a psychiatrist to evaluate me.

I wish I could have thought up a bar joke about that back when it was happening, but I didn’t even know what a bar joke was.

I mention all this because this dimension has never let up on treating me bad, even regularly failing to comprehend my thought processes.

First off, they didn’t let me keep the robots. Not Venus, not Leah, not Forcelight or Troubleshooter or Mechamoto Musashi. I thought Mechamoto would at least have the stomach for the dead bodies, but no. When they caught up to me in the basement of a chemical plant, wrecking Hephaestus experiments, they wanted me to freeze as much as they wanted the Hephaestus scientists to. Ingrates.

That goes back to that whole “other people as a weakness” thing I’ve been recognizing. If I’d treated them like they deserved to be treated, as enemies, I wouldn’t have had this problem. This problem that started with Troubleshooter holding me up by the back of my kilt.

“Aww, who’s a cute evil little Mel Gibson?”

“Nae Mel Gibson! I’m Nac Mac Gecko! I willnae be handled by ye, boggin bigjob!”

“He’s like a real live Smurf…with a bodycount!” She poked me with a waldo. I tried to grab on and pull, but it backed out of my grasp.

“What were you doing here dressed like that, Gecko?” asked Forcelight as she stepped up. I glanced over my shoulder to see she’d covered her eyes to avoid looking down up my kilt. Fun fact: It’s called a kilt because that’s the fate of anyone who makes fun of the guy wearing one.

I answered her question by pointing to animal cages in the corner. “Ta’ coo beasties!”

She looked over at the cows, some of which had an unusual number of limbs and tiger-striped fur, but didn’t get the significance. “Crivens! Ta’ Hephaestus bigjobs cannae ha’ a lab for bogling ta’ coo beasties wi’ yon science, ye daftie.”

“And the blue body paint and kilt help because…?” she asked.

“Ach, ahm a wee free man. Nac Mac Gecko! Gimme back mah antigravity doohickey!” I worked hard on that antigravity doohickey. I had to pull the schematics from when Max and I stole it for Hephaestus.

It wasn’t easy building it in miniature, which was why I didn’t take it with me to the robot lab. As usual, killing people helped me figure out how to handle the problem of making such a small version, so I went back to the hotel room and grabbed it while they were out trying to track me down at the robot lab. Once I got it the hang of what I was doing and completed it, I found it was great for removing the effects of gravity from an object. Little as I was, I’d been able to throw mutated cows around at this place.

“Can I dress him up in something else? A little tux, maybe?” Troubleshooter asked Forcelight with a grin. At first I thought she knew where I was coming from, but something about her eyes when she smiled and the camera on her goggles made me think she wanted to embarrass me more than join in on the fun.

“No, but we’ll probably get better answers out of him if you clean him up,” suggested Venus from Leah’s shoulder. They were in costume alongside the heroes.

“Agreed. Now, into the box,” said Forcelight with a nod. It was returned by Troubleshooter, Mechamoto Musashi, and probably my other two companions if I wanted to be honest about their opinions of me.

I don’t want to be honest about that, though. They wept like babies as Troubleshooter’s waldo dropped me. It quickly reformed into a funnel that sucked me up like a vacuum and deposited me into a metal containers with air holes that decreased in frequency the lower down they went. I could still access networks outside the box. There wasn’t much I could do inside it. I had enough room to lie down and stand up, but I wouldn’t be pulling off any gymnastics routines in there.

While in there, I felt my robots getting destroyed. I pieced them together from the Hephaestus robotics lab I’d raided. I still had some of the little Roomba-looking disc bots, and I even got some of the torsos on wheels to work, but I couldn’t bring the big robot with me. I disconnected its line from the wall, figuring I could take it on battery power or on the power from my internal core. In no time flat, the battery screwed up and blew up, taking out half the robot.

That’s why the place I got them from was a lab and not a factory.

Anyway, after that, I was alone in my box for a good long time, listening in as they chatted away. None of it was about me, and it wasn’t much like a lot of conversations I have. Where were the insults, the lack of comprehension, the implied threats? Where were the fun and games with survivors of my little attack?

It’s stuff like that that fills me with the confusing combination of hatred and longing. Then that causes hatred of longing and longing for hatred, and before too long I’m humping the skull of a dead giraffe because necrophiliac bestiality is easier to deal with than thinking too much about those people and their friendships. Back me up, I can’t be the only one who is like that.

It was Venus who slid down and spoke to me from outside one of the air holes. “Hey, Gecko. We’ve come up with a plan and for some reason they think you’ll be more receptive to hearing it from me.”

As if I hadn’t overheard. They were all crowded into my car, after all. Heroes were driving around in my car while I was stuck in a box. Longing stopped being a contender for my emotional focus at that point.

I threw my kilt at the air hole.

I was supposed to be a building-jumping, dog-humping, donkey-punching, Cheetoes-munching, wheeling, dealing, plane-flying, supercar-riding son of a gun. Whooo! I beat on the box I wasn’t supposed to be locked in.

“Hey, hey, calm down! You’ll hurt yourself,” Venus said. Then she muttered something to herself. She probably wanted me to hurt myself.

Fuming, I sat down.

“You good?” she asked.

“I’m listening. Ready to tell me about how you’re going to Amplitude to give him me in exchange for making you big again.” That was as far as they got. Give me to Amplitude and let him re-biggerize Venus.

“How are you psychic now?”

I put the brakes on for the car. “This is my car. Even now. Even reduced to this. You should have made this plan with me, not made this plan about me.”

I heard Leah through cell phones. “It stopped on its own. The gas isn’t doing anything. I can’t move the wheel. The windows won’t even go down. What’s going on?”

The Alice in Chains song “Man In The Box” began to play to provide a hint and because I thought it was clever at the time. That’s how you’ll know if I ever become a god somehow, by the way. Any world I rule will come with its own soundtrack.

Somewhat chastened, Venus spoke to me through the holes. “Even if you wanted to trap us in here, Forcelight could tear her way out. Mechamoto’s can cut his way out. Troubleshooter could force the doors to unlock. I understand you want to be included in the process, but you need people like us if you want to be big again. We don’t need you. Besides, I think you might like this one?”

“Oh yeah?”

“You don’t think we’re going to just leave you in there and expect you to play nice for Amplitude, do you?”

That made a difference. It still didn’t excuse the hose. They took me to a house, possibly even a safehouse, and started prepping for the deal. Troubleshooter got me clean while Forcelight used a number from the Hephaestus paperwork to call Amplitude. They still didn’t bother letting me out of the box.

In between sprayings, I shouted out to them, “Whew, I’ve never spend so much time in a box as when I’m hanging out with Venus and Forcelight, eh?”

Troubleshooter sprayed me with the bubbles.

“Did I offend you, Troubleshooter? I’m really having fun in your wet box, you know.”

She hosed me again. “Pig.”

“Ok, I get it, I get it. It cleans the blue gunk off its skin or else it gets the hose again. Anyone ever tell you you have all the fuzzy sweetness of John Wayne Gacy?”

I got the hose again. She didn’t have to take that one as an insult, though. The guy was known for dressing up as a clown and entertaining children. You might say he put the fun in “functioning sociopath.” Or not, whatever floats your boat.

When my time playing a ship’s anchor was at an end and I was all prettied up according to the standards of four women and a cyber samurai, they took me to Amplitude. According to their plan, Troubleshooter broke off to set up something nasty to keep Amplitude honest in his dealings.

I was carried in a box, but I could still listen in on the phones and computer mics of the place.

“You are the superheroes who called? I’ve seen you bunch. You were Shieldwall.” That was Amplitude.

“That’s right.” That was Forcelight. The ever stoic asskicker. Strong. Flight capable. Durable. Never liked me much. I killed her adopted dad. She had me and my box in her hands. She continued, “I hope we won’t have a problem dealing with you. Psycho Gecko is erratic. He’d stab you as soon as look at you. I hope you’re more reasonable.”

“I am. It was the unreasonable threats of your little nemesis that forced my employers to send me after him. It’s a shame that those like him expect to be treated like kings. Me, I just hope to get by.”

“By stealing.”

“I do what I must. There is no chaos in what I do. No needless death.”

Venus spoke up and she sounded even angrier than most of the times we talked, “Medicine like what you stole in Seattle that time was meant for sick people. Those deaths were needless. That was chaotic enough for their families. ”

“You heroes are nitpicky, aren’t you? No, I think you are just mad because you’ve been shrunk. I am sorry for that. I was aiming for Psycho Gecko, not you. You have my gratitude for bringing him to me. I am at your service.”

“You took more people, too. Are you at their service?”

“They were bad people too. I have his friend, Mix N’Max. He is even worse than Psycho Gecko in some ways. He creates addicts and enslaves people to his drugs. They both have killed heroes, remember? We don’t owe this scum anything. I owe you, though.”

I have to assume that he kept his word. No fighting broke out. Troubleshooter didn’t blow up the building with a flaming ass-cannon. Instead, Venus sounded louder and happier when she asked, “How do I look?”

“About right. Maybe even taller than you were before,” said a digitally-altered voice. Mechamoto Musashi. I doubt he liked me, but he had always been so quiet. I wondered, and still wonder, if anyone ever told him he didn’t have to live up to the stereotype of being a silent samurai.

The box shifted and I lost my footing. The bottom was still slick. “Here you go, one boxed Gecko,” said Forcelight. The box changed hands. That part wasn’t according to plan. The top of my container opened and a masked face peeked in at me.

“Hello Psycho Gecko. You are mine now.”

I gave him the finger. He laughed and closed the top again.

According to the plan they told me, they would take down Amplitude after finding out if he had Max. That he bragged about it was even better, but they were changing things up.

“Don’t forget this,” Leah said. She never did pick out a name. A pretty teen who had gained confidence and learned to fight back against bullies under my tutelage. I had taken a non-romantic liking to her, though I suspected her of taking a more romantic liking to me.

I was wrong on that point.

“What’s this?” Amplitude wondered.

“It’s a power dampener,” answered Forcelight sternly. “It’s hard to shut him down, but that will make him compliant if you feel the need to take him out of the box. Trust me, we’ve put a lot of work into that.”

The top of my cell opened again. There was mirth in the eye of Amplitude as he looked in, but he didn’t address me. “I think it will be awhile before I need to take him out, but thank you, heroes. I don’t believe he is going to trouble you for a long time. He will be interesting to study before I turn him over.”

Like I said, this dimension has treated me badly. Now the heroes and the ungrateful Leah have delivered me to Amplitude like the world’s most foul-mouthed fucking collectable. At least he’s close enough that I bounced a signal to my laptop and got it to send up an update.

There’s no one else to call in to help me out of here. As the heroes have been so kind enough to remind me, all I have is myself.

Too bad for Amplitude and too bad for the heroes. Other people would ask me to be merciful when I get out of here. On my own? I don’t feel like it.

 

Next

Previous

I Got Clubbed 8

I think I mentioned to Breakdown, and I’m sure you readers have noticed, I state things in a manner other people are not used to. My metaphorical stories, for instance. Well folks, let’s just say it’s my way of talking about how I feel before I have to go all obvious. “You can’t just have your characters announce how they feel! That makes me feel angry!” to quote the Robot Devil. Problem is, I doubt y’all deal that well with the confusing mess of being in my head. And sometimes plainly getting your point across is more important than trying to be coy and intelligent. Look how many times people died in horror movies because some idiot wanted to play charades with all the pointing and shaking when he could have just said “There’s a man with a machete behind you. Run bitch, run!”

So let me start off saying that I’ve been somewhat contemplative about things.

It’s kinda like a maze.

When people talk about something being difficult to find a way through, it’s not uncommon to hear it being referred to as a maze. So many branches, so many possibilities, that someone is stunned by the possible reactions they can take. Of course, some paths have to be taken for a person to be who they are. A doctor needing to figure out what he wants to do with his career, for instance. There are so many paths to take, but his own past influences him and urges him toward one corridor or another. Sadly, this all too often leads to dead ends.

Is it any wonder that mazes are used as philosophical symbols in some pretentious way? It works about like how I’m doing now, where someone takes it and uses it as a simplistic metaphor of life.

If you want to look at things that way, then I do something special. I change the maze. Usually, it’s something dickish, like tossing a few extra dead ends into the mix, but I mess with lives. You could probably say the walls are relationships and society’s rules or the limits of nature, whatever it is that serves as a restriction on you in life.

I am, in fact, amazing. That is, if you take amazing as what the dictionary says, where it means something is stupefying or stunning. It comes from the word “maze” too, probably because of how people react to mazes that are hard. They freeze up and go “I don’t even…”.

What about mazes for people like myself? Good question. Bet you thought I was wishing someone didn’t ask that. Ha! See, Sun Tzu said all that crap about knowing thyself. Rather than a reference to masturbation, I think a lot of it meant knowing your own nature and living according to it. Even though I don’t know what I’m going to do, what tiny course I’m going to take toward my goal, I know who I am each step of the way. I know what I can do. I know that the walls between paths won’t stand in my way.

Cheaters are just going pull out bombs and blow open walls to get to the ends of the while the more noble people have to follow the maze around or use grappling hooks.

I just need to make sure that whatever makes up the walls for me doesn’t suddenly become solid. Part of the reason you all love me and would probably wear steel underwear if you ever got to meet me is that you know I will do all sorts of things other people wouldn’t. For one thing, I’d carry a welder if I met any of y’all. That’s not what I mean. A great deal of strength comes from people not having a clue what you’re going to say or do.

I like macaroni and cheese.

Now a maze is different form a labyrinth. Most people get them confused, but a labyrinth only has one path to and from its center. It’s made for meditation and art and crap. There’s supposed to be something meaningful about the journey in, where you let go of everything, and the time in the center, and then on the trip back out.

This section on the labyrinth was just a way to segue between the important topics of mac and cheese and having infiltrated the compound where the heroes were keeping Dr. Unity. They couldn’t just drop him in a normal lockup or prison population, after all. They were keeping him nice and separate at Empyreal City’s Special Detention Center. It was built with a modular design so they could quickly swap things out to meet different circumstances with people who couldn’t just be restrained, like Marscow Prison in Kingscrow. Where Marscow grew up out of a prison that had already been built, the SDF was built after the older Metropolitan Correctional Center was leveled during the attack on Empyreal City by a rogue Soviet telepath in 1981 where a modified aircraft carrier was used to fire giant squids into the city. Truly, that man had vision. It only holds superhumans for a short amount of time before they get sent somewhere permanent, like Supermax, but it’s got a good track record amongst law enforcement. The brilliant thing is that it’s an ode to ignorance. Most people would hate the idea of living so close to such a facility, but they’re ignorant of it so it’s fine to them.

Making security a little better in this case is that Forcelight and her crew were waiting around there at the time. Call it a hunch, but I think they were expecting me to visit. Now, I didn’t go in and visit Good Doctor or Mix N’Max at Marscow Prison because it’s pretty easy to detect me with a metal detector and because it was a hell of a lot more fun to bounce a truck up into the yard.

The truck idea wouldn’t work quite as well for what I’m planning this time. Besides, why should I only stick to something I’ve done before?

Nope, this time I came in the way a guard does. I figured they have some sort of scanner set up in there. Metal detector, full body scanner, something. That’s why I waited outside, invisibly, until a guard showed up. One did, a burly fellow with a mustache and curly hair. He had thick eyebrows from a lack of shaving, and the inside corner of one eyebrow turned up for some reason. He also had a scar running diagonally from the middle of his nose to his left cheek. That was important to note when I jumped him in the parking lot. It was necessary to steal his keys. It wasn’t necessary for when I shoved the peanut butter in his ears, but it did help for getting him in the purple bunny suit.

I could have skipped it all entirely if not for the keys. I could handle electronic locks, sneak past visuals, and I had an idea for how to fool the scanner to get in, but dammit if primitive key locks are tougher to fool. Break, sure, but hack? It isn’t happening.

When I rushed in the same door that guard left, I was confronted with a manned booth and a full body scanner. Made me smile under my armor.

“You forget something, Pete?” asked the man in the booth.

I nodded, then pointed to the scanner, “Do I have to?”

My voice must not have given the game away because he just told me, “Naw, man, go on through.”

That’s how I fooled equipment that would have shown I wasn’t who I said I was. Social engineering, the most useful sort of hacking. Every system has a weak point and it’s usually the people. You know, like a bunch of guards who have to go through a full body scanner every singly day. Either they get tired of it, or they resent their comrades getting a look at their junk. What a bunch of dicks. It’s even worse than if they didn’t have the scanner. At least then they’d realize there was a chance someone was getting through with something. This way, the people in charge probably don’t expect it.

First stop after that, the restroom. A quick check confirmed that my experiences in other situations were still applicable in this one. Staff bathrooms are like that. Cameras all over this place, little black half-spheres along the white ceiling. It’s like walking around a casino, but with fewer one-armed bandits.

I dropped the holographic disguise of being “Pete the Security Guard” and did my impression of The Invisible Man.

After that, finding Administration was as easy as sneaking into a guard station and peeking at a map hidden behind plastic. The guard was confused about the door, but not so confused after I snapped his neck and laid him down like he fell asleep.

Sacrifices, sacrifices. Butt slaughter was too conspicuous.

They compartmentalized their networks so a simple guard station computer couldn’t even find everyone. Those computers were better for little more than checking computers and catching up with people’s favorite shows. The dead guard’s favorite show? Survivor.

Administration, on the other hand, had information galore. And superheroes. Forcelight, Mechamoto Musashi, and Troubleshooter were hanging out there getting chewed out by some guy in a suit with a briefcase.

“I don’t care what you did before with the Master Academy kids. The truth will come out at trial and not a second before. You can present your testimony there. Did you think about what happens if you taint my trial? I’ll tell you what I told those “Catch a Predator” morons when that entrapment ruling came down and everyone they caught got off: you catch them the wrong way and it doesn’t matter if you have a pile of evidence.”

“Sir,” said Forcelight, speaking respectfully, but forcefully, “with all due respect, I’ve met individuals before who you do not want to pressure this way. I don’t know if Breakdown is that sort of person, but if he is, he will go out of his way to come after Dr. Unity and set the record straight. He might set the entire facility loose in the process. Besides, there may not be a trial.”

“You really think I’d let him go?”

“I don’t know, how many times have you struck deals? We know you have an election coming up. You need money, and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that people will pay to have Dr. Unity released just in time to take a quiet job in a research facility in a country without an extradition treaty.”

They continued bickering on and on like kids. I padded by them silently and knelt down under a desk to slip a glove off and merge with the tower. That got me the information, shut down the cameras on that floor, and caused a loop in the elevator cameras. I also scheduled a special email from the facility to the local and national news companies. Harlon got it first, of course, for a brief time period of exclusivity. Harlon’s this guy I once crossed paths with in the news. I kept him to help me keep my ear to the ground, and occasionally let me shove something in his ear to put on the news for me.

“And what’s this I heard about some supervillain in the UN besides Dr. Unity? Are you protecting someone else who was involved in this?”

Forcelight fixed him with a stare and told him firmly, “No.”

This guy, a District Attorney I think, turned to Troubleshooter. She wilted under his glare until one of her waldos accidentally fired a net all over her and caused her to struggle with it instead of answering. He tried Mechamoto next, who was propped up against the wall next to a water cooler with his arms crossed. The heroe’s voice was distorted as he snored.

The trip up to the floor they held Unity on was mostly uneventful. I did practice my singing though. Schizofrantic, a supervillain more by default than intent, was being hauled up in the same car accompanied by a trio of guards in riot gear when I began to belt out “Grim Grinning Ghosts” from that Disney ride. ‘Frantic ignored it as if he was in on it, but the guards got nervous, especially when I didn’t stop. They checked and rechecked these grey cylinders attached to their helmets. Finally one of them elbowed the dirty-looking telepathic homeless vet. “Hey, are you doing that? Make it stop.”

“Doing what?” he asked.

“That noise. The singing.”

“You mean the muzak? They don’t sing in elevator music. I should know, I used to write songs.”

“Cut it out. We can hear something.”

“I’m not doing anything. Maybe it’s the other person.”

“Other person?”

“You don’t see that man?”

“What man?”

“Oooooh. Just remember. It will only hurt for a second.”

The guard grabbed hold of Schizofrantic and shook him by the shoulders. “What are you talking about?! Stop doing this! Stop it!”

Since ‘Frantic was being such a good sport and playing along, I made it fun too.

I projected a molten landscape with islands of obsidian for land. I covered myself in the image of man in a bloodstained straightjacket with long black hair. My eyes were covered in a bandana that had spikes jammed through it at the eyes. My lower face was torn apart in an unnatural grin made up of torn skin, blood, and bones shaped into loose approximations of pointed teeth. A twisted version of a face.

“Don’t worry,” I gurgled, “this will only hurt…for an eternity.”

All three guards shit their pants all at once. I jammed my hand up one guy’s ass all the way so I could punch out of his mouth and grab his friend’s gun. I turned it on that second guard and shot him in the foot. I then dropped the gun, grabbed his head, and pulled it into the first guard’s mouth and down his throat. The third guard huddled up in the fetal position and cried, trying to hide from the horror. When he looked up he found me…in the form of a giant marshmallow peep.

He clutched at his chest then and fell to the side, struggling with his breathing. I think he had a heart attack. Oh well. Everything looked normal except for the dead bodies when it was time for my stop.

“Bye ‘Frantic. Have a nice time.” I told him, giving an invisible wave.

“Bye elevator demon. Say ‘hello’ to my mom for me next time you’re in hell.”

“Sure thing. It’ll make her head spin to hear from you.”

I found another pair of guards at the cell I wanted, right on the end of the hallway. Those were the easiest to isolate in this place.

They were standing at the door, holding a slot at eye level open, and one of them was taking potshots inside with his gun. His buddy tried to give him pointers, before smacking him on the ear and declaring, “That’s useless! It only works if you try to kill him with it. A flesh wound isn’t going to make him drop anybody. Here, let me show you how.”

They swapped positions and the guard giving the tips fired off a shot. I heard the familiar sound of Unity expelling someone immediately afterward. Got a running start, skidded on my knees, and stood up as I double uppercutting, punching through pants and puckers alike to raise them into the air, squirming like maniacs with barbed wire up their asses. Considering that they were maniacs with barbed wire up their asses, it was a highly appropriate response.

Dr. Unity ended their suffering before I could, however. They disappeared, leaving behind Unity’s hands reaching through the bars on that door opening.

I appeared, dressed as an unarmored Playboy bunny, chomping on a holographic carrot. “Eeeeeeh. What’s up doc?”

He grabbed my chin then and concentrated. Nothing happened. He needed skin contact, not armor contact. With a frustrated yell, he let me go.

“There, there. Not everyone wants to join your little Unity love fest in there.”

“You’re here to taunt me?”

“Yes.”

“Ha! I am the world’s preeminent chemist. I am the true peacemaker, not people like you and your violence. Lock me up and I will be freed in no time by people with more vision than you. Kill me, and I become a martyr for future generations to follow the lead of.”

“Right. It would look bad no matter what if either a villain or hero killed you while you’re all locked up.”

He smiled at me. You know, I don’t think that guy was all there. “You can’t stop my escape. I’ll tell everyone about it and they can’t stop it. My knowledge and abilities are too valuable. People will be lining up to set me loose.”

“No, I think not. Not in another few minutes when the videos I sent go public.”

He lost his crazed grin in an awful hurry at that.

“What video?”

“My helmet, my dear moron. Same one that got Breakdown’s very sincere admission that you were calling the shots and you at the UN actually calling the shots and explaining your motivations.”

“They’ll never convict me. You know how the system works for someone like me. I’m one of the greatest heroes the world ever saw. Generations have grown up looking up to me. I can be the smartest man in the world. I’ll be free in no time.

“No, actually it is perfectly allowable. If a cop or a hero had done that, then you’d have your chance to get out of jail free, but I’m neither. I’m the guy who screwed your little ‘system’ in the ass. Isn’t it convenient when someone like you actually has to face some consequences for his actions and has his dirty secrets dragged out for all to see in court? The hero to millions becomes the monster, and your little hero buddies in the know will realize who you are. When it comes to me and you, I’m the hero all your old friends will be thankful to. Why kill you when I can bend your legend over and fuck it in the ear?”

“You can’t do that. I’ll die a martyr. I was trying to save the world. I’m the hero. I’m not like you. This isn’t what people like you do to people like me. This isn’t what people like you do! Get back here and kill me you son of a bitch! I’m the hero. I’m the hero!”

I walked away laughing over his berserker screams.

That little bit taken care of, it was time to repeat my journey back to the outside and figure out the next adventure. I did so, visible for all to see, and encountered no further resistance until the first floor. I caught a figure in black with a shiny mask and bangle slinking after me. When I turned to confront her, Dame crossed her arms and shifted her weight most of the way to her left leg.

“I’m proud of you, Gecko. I don’t understand it, but I think it’s encouraging to see you using society to your benefit for once.”

“Hello Dame, you saucy spy. I’m just neatly undoing everyone’s expectations about what’s meant to happen. Shit’s going down that’s not supposed to happen if you know a damn thing about how your precious society works.”

I paused as the DA’s voice reached me us down the halls. “WHO THE FUCK SENT THAT OUT?!”

I chuckled at that, then continued. “How do you always know where to find me?”

“Skill. Oh, and you aren’t the first invisible person they have had to deal with here. Lucky for you I’m the only one who bothered to check those sensors.”

“Huh. Good point. ” Oops. It made sense and there I went forgetting about it. Yes. Forgetting. Or part of my master plan? Have some chocolate pudding and think that over. “What, do they have you spying on Unity, or just me? Going to alert the guards now, give me a fun time getting out of here?”

“Not at this point, no. The guards have gotten sleepy all of a sudden, so they won’t be responding to you on your way out,” she said, smiling, and stepped around me in a circle.

I didn’t know what the point of her little visit was. I also didn’t care. “Dame, I just gotta know. Who was it, you think, who alerted Forcelight, and told them to bring along those nanites, and who suggested they deliver it similar to how I did at the club? Who called the heroes to ‘help’ me for once?”

She stopped in front of me with a sly little smile on her pink lips. We both already knew the answer. The local thief that Forcelight had keeping tabs on me, that’s who. The one who had a direct line to her and a few other heroes. In other words, Dame. Did she think I’d be happy?

I threw my hand up as I walked out, giving her the finger. “Right there, bitch. Suck it hard, suck it long.”

Next

Previous

I Got Clubbed 7

I should have kept Breakdown around and made him deal with this mess.

Everything did eventually get settled once the puking was done. Getting that worked out took well into the morning, and there was almost an epic brawl over it.

Here is the brief rundown: everyone at the club was unhappy. The prevailing emotion was anger-based in some way, with scattered showers from the less angry people. Gave me a damn headache. Then there was the puke. It was all over my floor. Sadly, murder was an inconvenient option this time.

I didn’t so much calm things down as much as stand there as and threaten them into not fighting, not while I was the guy who saved their sorry asses. For people who are used to exercising more power than most people, having them stand off was quite an accomplishment. Unfortunately, I think they did it more because those who knew my name were passing it along. I was mainly concerned about being unable to pull off insurance fraud.

After laying down the law, a phrase which should never be used in relation to me, I let them work things out amongst themselves. The important points were that they didn’t fight amongst themselves, I was taking down Unity, and some people would be spending a lot of time at The Secret Lair. Some of the folks expressed concerns about being around a bunch of brainwashed friends and loved ones back home and around their jobs. I bet some of them were also afraid of what they’d do knowing that just about anyone in the city they were ever attracted to would be easily talked into bed.

Perhaps that’s why the heroes and villains that Breakdown tried to throw at me made it a point to stop by the throne and thank me. I just wanted them to leave and take the carpet with them at that point, but nope. The guys shuffled up embarrassed and quickly left. Even Paveman, despite our history. Seriously, the guy absorbs material from surfaces he stands on and it becomes part of his body. I didn’t think this Sexahol crap could affect him.

At least Nos and Hydroplane rushed through it. I don’t mind that bit of speedster rudeness. Elita gave me a bearhug. In her case, it’s a hug that could kill a bear. Dame was next and helped me pop my arm back into my shoulder. I asked her to find out where Dr. Unity was hiding and call me on the screen when she found out. The last one, teen girl, was a shy little thing. Same one who tried to sneak in with the fake ID and, after looking her up for info, I found out she was the same one from that school incident. The one with the color manipulation power. She said I smelled like shit.

All the cherry and strawberry smelling vomit around, I’m surprised anyone could tell.

I told them to get the hell out of there. Not in a particularly mean way. Just “Go on, get the hell out of here.” That kind of thing. I’m not a guy who spends a lot of time on a throne dealing with courtiers, as you may have noticed by now.

I had work to do. Starting with getting the suit cleaned out of what was clearly chocolate pudding. I mean, obviously that stuff was no good to eat with me sweating and all that, so it had to go.

The repairs took awhile too. The damage was a bit more extensive than just the cameras and projectors. I had a crack problem once I removed it. The armor, I mean, not me personally. I’d never do crack. Takes time away from my meth habit.

It took longer to get the armor fixed, though. My previous armor design didn’t have nearly the defensive or offensive capabilities of this one, and neither of them are the absolute best I could do. There’s a problem. As the armor gets higher in quality, everything about it becomes more complicated and harder to repair. A good example is the nanite quilt layer. Once I use a syringe, I can do whatever I want with it. Keep it, throw it away, stab it into someone’s eye, whatever. As long as I have more syringes and nanites, I can still use them to heal myself. The quilted portions are useless if they aren’t repaired and refilled before going into a fight. That problem would become worse in a hurry if I added flight boots, missile launchers, flak, drones with guns, and a fog machine. I would need my own logistics.

It took me a little bit of time, made worse by Carl moping around. He’d stop by occasionally to make sure I knew how sorry he was. I told him each time that I didn’t care about all the stuff he told Breakdown.

Finally, after he had taken yet another break from steam cleaning the carpet, I grabbed him by the shoulders. I then shook him repeatedly, yelling “Get a hold of yourself, man! If you keep coming around here like this, I’ll kill you out of annoyance!”

He grabbed hold of the catwalk rail to control himself, then bent over it and threw up.

“Damn, you know you’re cleaning that up too, right?”

He nodded and wiped his mouth.

“Good. Now stop being all sorry. If you want me to put it in certain words I’d rather not use, than fine, I forgive you. No need to crucify yourself looking for my approval.”

“Are you sure about that, boss?”

“Of course. When you forgive someone, you forgive them. No need to get sadistic about it or ask for a human sacrifice or something.”

“Are you absolutely sure?”

“I don’t know, let me go get my whoop-ass stick and we’ll discuss it over a funeral.”

“That’s alright, boss.”

“Good,” I said, patting him on the back. “Keep your head in the game. I want you ready to pilot the keg armor into battle. We’ve got a superhero to kill.”

“Sir, yes boss!” he said, giving a lighthearted salute.

“You call that a salute, maggot!” I stood up all stiff and held my face right in front of his. “That’s no proper salute. That’s the kind of salute I get from a company of prostitutes after I’ve put their brothel out of business armed with nothing but my dick and a six pack!”

Carl began to snicker and I joined him for a moment.

“Alright, alright, go get the rest of the puke up and we’ll see what we can yank out of Dr. Unity’s insides instead, you got it?”

“Oorah!” he exclaimed as he turned to jog back down to work.

I noticed a message on there from Dame wanting me to call her back, so I returned it and got a black screen as it rang. That kind of screen usually means a phone. It only occupied half the screen, though. The rest was reserved for my research on Dr. Unity. Quotations from a biography in the eighties. A wikiPowers page. His entry on a website called The Unofficial Superhuman Database. He didn’t have a TV Tropes page, though. He had one consistent power, too, but his other schemes and inventions always augmented his ability.

Dame picked up. “Hello?”

“Hey there 900 girl. My five free minutes started already? You’ve got a sexy voice. Mmmm, what are you wearing?”

“A gun. Why don’t you tell me your name so I can carve it on a bullet?”

“Oooh, sounds like somebody’s naughty. Just let me know when I start paying for the call you dirty, dirty girl.”

“This is Gecko, isn’t it?”

“That’s right, say my name. Jump on it, girl, let me take that thing through the car wash. I want to wax it down, rub down the leather interior, take out the floor mats, vacuum the sand off them, then leave a crappy pine tree air freshener behind.”

“I’m hanging up now, Gecko.”

There was a click. When I called her back, I got her almost immediately.

“Was it as good for you as it was for me, honeysuckle?” I asked with a groan.

“Figures. You’re out of gas leaving me unsatisfied and wishing you would put that mouth to better use.”

“Wow, my compliments on the comeback. Do I detect a hint of indifference blossoming?”

“I found Unity.”

“You make it sound like a cult.”

“You know what I mean. He’s actually using the UN complex as a base. He’s living there and keeps the diplomats coming back there even though their governments have all acknowledged that any agreements they make are not representative of their wishes.”

“I wonder if any oysters have cults?”

“Gecko, stop trying to lead into a Blue Oyster Cult joke. You’re supposed to be stopping the bad guy and saving the city.”

“Hey! That was uncalled for. I’m not saving anyone. I just got into a personal disagreement with Breakdown that turned into a personal disagreement with a superhero. A hero who believes in saving the world by spreading his own personal date rape drug, if you remember. I wouldn’t save anything. I am the pit stain under the world’s sleeve. I am the lint rabbit clogging society’s vacuum cleaner. I am the cold shower when you were expecting hot water.”

“Easy now. You megalomaniac types really love to monologue, don’t you?”

“Madam, I have not yet begun to monologue!”

“Don’t, not for too long. This city was just the beginning. He’s working out of the General Assembly Hall to arrange teams of people and superhumans to spread this stuff to other cities.”

“I’m cleaning my smiting codpiece as we speak.”

“By the way, I was wondering…” she just trailed off.

After she didn’t follow up on that, I said, “Ok. Good to know. Keep up the good wondering.”

“Oh, uh, alright. Yeah. You know, you surprise me, Gecko.”

“It’s kinda my thing.”

“I just wanted to say that you didn’t have to-“

I broke in while she was talking and yelled, “Surprise!” Then I hung up.

She was getting a little mushy for me. I meant too mushy. I doubt she was getting, you know, mushy anywhere that mush occurs. Not for me.

But enough of that shit. You’re probably wondering about the fight. Duh.

I snuck my way into the General Assembly Hall of the aptly named General Assembly building as soon as my armor was ready. It was easy to slip through a door into that famous room while hidden behind a holographic cloak of invisibility. He was training people to safely move and operate machines like the one I stole from him. The chemical distributors. Those who smelt it were being taught to dealt it. The joke only works phrased that way. He was growing frustrated though. All too often the trainees and diplomats tried some monkey business instead of what he wanted. You know, monkey business. They wanted to play with their bananas.

I saw the looks the Saudi and Israeli representatives were giving each other. The effects of the Sexahol made them want to feel each other up, not feel how to connect this hose or that hose.

Dr. Unity himself was a smaller man now that time had taken its toll. He had to be in his seventies, with all sorts of aches from his past fights, especially with giants and radiation and space aliens involved. Despite that, he moved easily around the room and didn’t show any sign of pain. He didn’t even use a cane.

I got in position behind the dais where Dr. Unity stood demonstrating the distributor. I charged up my fists, and then swung for his head. There was a flash of light and a blurring, then two people fell from where he had stood. The assembled trainees gawked at what happened before rushing over to check on the pair. Both were alive and unharmed. One was Dr. Unity, and the other was the Secretary General of the UN.

It must have been linked to that power of his. Dr. Unity didn’t just pick the name to go with his goals. As he demonstrated then, the ability that made him stand apart from regular humanity was to merge with people whose skin he touched. He sought out the faces and hands of people in the crowd which refused to listen as I yelled at them to “Get back!” They disappeared in twos, joining with Dr. Unity.

I called out over the comms, “Moai, Carl, get in here!” Then, I jumped up above the crowd and went to slam my boots into Dr. Unity where he laid, but he rolled out of the way and continued to take more people as I missed him.

He stood then, and did his best to dodge me. His movements were fluid and smart. As much as he knew and as good as he had been, merging with someone made him better. He gained each person’s strength, each person’s intelligence, and each person’s talents, even though his body looked as old as ever. The payoff, as was found out when I did manage to catch him across the face, was that people could also be expelled from him if he was hurt enough at one time. I caught his jaw with a glowing fist. He fell, as did three others. None of them were hurt, not even Unity, but he was at least weaker. Unity couldn’t reabsorb someone very quickly after having them expelled from his body.

In all my time mopping the floors with heroes, I have often noticed that they aren’t very absorbent.

Still, all but those four were quickly abducted and made a part of him for now. That left him with twenty people still inside. Dr. Unity stood there, looking around the room for me. I’d gone back into stealth mode by then. “You won’t ruin this. I’ve worked too hard. This is the right way, don’t you see?” he pleaded.

After a pregnant pause, I jumped up, wrapped my legs around his head, threw my weight toward the ground, and carried him over me in a flip that landed him right on the top of his head as I released him. Another person fell from Unity, dazed and possibly unconscious.

“You know where that’s falling? Deaf motherfucking ears, doc. With little motherfucking dicks of their own to fuck your motherfucking mother. I don’t exactly like your goal or your methods,” I said as I lunged for his throat. I figured he would lose even more of his human shields as I choked the life from his body. It didn’t happen. Instead, his kick sent me flying to where I crashed against the podium. He dusted himself off, but couldn’t advance to finish me off.

Why? Oh, just because Moai and Carl crashed through the door. Moai wore one of those hats with a pair of beer and hoses up top. Carl was seated safely behind the armor plating I’d added on to the cockpit of the keg armor. He looked over at them. Carl raised one arm of the keg armor, showing off the newly-installed spike.

“Hiya. Distracted enough yet?” asked Carl.

Unity took that as a cue and turned to look for my invisible ass, instinctively raising his arms to guard against an attack that wasn’t coming in a way he could stop. A rubber chicken’s head bounced off his arms. He caught it and looked it over, which is how he discovered the rest of the rubber chicken at his feet, laying on the floor but trying to push itself toward the nearest road.

It went off. He lost six people in the explosion.

“Bad hero, bad bad!” I taunted him. He took a moment to get up from that one. I connected with a blow that would have crushed his windpipe, but someone fell from his body instead. He traded me, sending me flying with the strength of what I think was around thirteen people at that point. Moai and Carl made him an asshole sandwich, though. They were the bread and he was the asshole. It cost him two people but the whole vibrating glowy thing he did kept him from being trapped between them.

Unity slipped loose and began to head for the door.

“Don’t go just yet, Dr. Daterape. The fun’s just begun.” I went to grab him but he flipped me overhead and into a desk.

He grabbed my armored head, trying to get a good hold. “How dare you ruin this? The world, man! My life’s dream! The world my baby girl should have grown up in! I was going to do it. I was going to save them all even if I had to do it by dishonest means. Don’t you try to turn that into something so dirty sounding as ‘Dr. Daterape.’”

“Think about the world you made instead. So disgusting that superheroes were willing to let me have you because of what you did to them, your old colleagues and friends.” I think he gasped even before I kneed him in the balls. Then a beam of light struck him. He fell right in front of me, losing two people.

Moai helped me up and I turned to Carl. “Good shot, Carl. Didn’t think I put a laser on there.”

“Wasn’t me boss. It was them.” He pointed with the arm of his walker.

There, at the entrance to the room, was a set of old friends. A floating young woman who glowed white light from whatever skin her simple white costume didn’t cover lowered her hand from where she had fired at Unity. A tech samurai whose armor glowed red and blue. Another young woman carrying a backpack that was a mess of various devices and gadgets larger than she was. Forcelight, Mechamoto Musashi, and Troubleshooter.

“Gecko,” said Forcelight without a hint of emotion.

“Forcelight! Didn’t expect to see you here. You know they said I could kill him, right?”

“That was a hasty decision made soon after you saved them,” she responded. Somebody had tattled to Forcelight. Maybe I pissed Dame off with that last little surprise.

“Yeah, they were upset after the Sexahol and you used that to rile them up,” added Troubleshooter.

I looked to Musashi for his two cents. He shrugged.

“Nothing from you? Huh. Ok. Well come on, guys. He deserves it, even more than a bad guy. Look at the asshole. You’d expect a villain doing this. We’re not nice people. Some of us aren’t even in control of our own actions. But this guy, a hero, one of you? This guy who always held himself up to higher morals than us just helped do some despicable stuff in this city, and he had more cities on his little list.”

“Our agreement is in jeopardy here, Gecko. I think it’s best if you leave the building,” said Forcelight. The deal she meant was where she and her buddies didn’t mess with me so long as I didn’t mess with them. As long as I didn’t do too much to show off I was still alive, they wouldn’t reveal that they knew for sure that I survived the destruction of the Empyre State Building. Considering recent events, that last point was already pretty iffy, unless people were going to just ignore the name that got passed around as their savior at the club.

I stared into her eyes even as I heard Dr. Unity stand behind me. A dish on Troubleshooter’s backpack whirled around and aimed right for him. I heard more bodies hit the ground. Forcelight wasn’t blinking. I had a visor on. She couldn’t see my eyes. I was considering getting into it, but I was also realizing, in a rare event, that some other people would lose out of all this even if I won. People I shouldn’t have been thinking about, especially because thinking of other people really sucks. It wasn’t a moment of weakness. It was just some chocolate pudding or something.

Finally, I turned toward my minions. Carl in his walker, Moai in his helmet, headbutting Dr. Unity to knock someone else free. “Let’s go. Leave this moron here for them, guys. He’s not worth having a turf war over.”

Outside, I saw the flyer that Forcelight’s team used to use rebuilt. Similar to the distributor back at the club, it was spraying down the city. Probably my stolen nanites that Forcelight’s company, Long Life, had figured out how reprogram and make more of.

“Damn. They are really using my shit against me today.”

“What was that, boss?” asked Carl as he exited the building with Moai.

“Nothing. Ah well. Let’s go rob a Victoria’s Secret on our way back to base, shall we?”

“Why Victoria’s Secret?”

“I’ll tell you why, boys. I’ve heard jokes about something called ‘edible underwear’ and they might be a good item to serve at the club.”

And so we walked off into a nanite rainbow.

Next

Previous

Arete in Destruction 9, the Grand Finale

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I was hoping to get a hold of this.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Why do you think that matters?”

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

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

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

“Why does that matter?” she groaned.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I sat down at the Heatflasher.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No reaction.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You alright?”

“Yeah.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I am.”

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

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

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

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

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

“Paralyzed.”

Marble hands grabbed my head and nodded it for me.

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

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

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

“More like the whole block,” said Troubleshooter.

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

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

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

Times like these, I love my minions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

She goes flying.

Cool as fuck.

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

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

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

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

No way am I changing back right now, but –

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

***Waiting for connection***

 

Next

Previous

Arete in Destruction 5

So, yeah. Things could have gone better lately. I’ve been running back and forth to the hardware stores getting stuff for Moai to patch himself up with. We’ve relocated well away from the warehouses. I’m currently based in this old club that closed up. I think it was some sort of goth club called Heart Failure, but with an image of a heart there in front of the word Failure. I will freely admit to not spending a lot of time in clubs, let alone goth ones, but I don’t expect that a heart is what they want to see if they go to a club. If it was an anatomical heart, then I think they’d still be in business. Regular ole “I heart you” heart, though…that’s not bringing in the daywalkers.

Still, the guy who owns the building needed money more than he needed questions answered, and sales of windows have been pretty high lately. I have enough for what I’m doing, but working for myself just isn’t as profitable as killing individuals that other people dislike a great deal. I hear the Mafia’s got an offer out on the Pope right now, as a matter of fact. Kiddy fucking? They don’t care. But a Pope riding around without the bulletproof glass, embracing the diseased, and suggesting that atheists can be good people? That’s a step too far for the Sicilian murderers.

You know, I should call up Father Poffo, see if he’s willing to make me a counter offer. Maybe later.

Rather than worry about traps at this juncture, I stopped by Rothstein’s Sports Bar to have a nice lunch, lay down some feelers, and fish for people who I could trick into taking a bullet or mystical blast for me. Like, maybe I’ll get lucky and find some skinheads dressed up in tights with swastikas, pretending that being around people with powers makes them some sort of superior men. Those types are great. I hear people talk all the time about how bad it is to kill your own minions, but those people have clearly never sweet-talked wannabe-Nazis into working for them using nothing but code words about keeping the government out of small business matters. The good guys don’t even feel bad when you execute those fuckers.

Unfortunately, I have yet to get those expendable idiots. All these bigots around, but I’ve got no luck finding them to serve as my human shields.

Well, they might have been in there, but no sooner had I tried to make the bouncer live up to his name by using him as a pogo stick than Elita bitchslapped me a few streets away. And by bitchslap, I mean I was the bitch, not her.

So I dusted myself off, set my wrist back in its socket, and gave myself a small injection of nanites to handle all the repair work. I didn’t have my armor on. I make sure to point that out because that fall could have been a lot worse if that bunch of charity-fundraising nuns wasn’t there for me to land on. Not only did they break my fall, they had money just waiting around for the Buy Psycho Gecko Lunch Fund. I’ll have to thank them when they get out of the hospital.

While there was little chance I would meet some new people to rope into my schemes, there was a diner and I was hungry. I went in, I found a booth, I ordered food and drink, and I waited.

It was then, while my chicken sandwich was being cooked, that I found myself facing Apollo. He didn’t look marble, but it was him. He had the same face and the build was about right.

Powers with an on/off switch. They can be a blessing and a curse. A big, bad monster can turn back into a mild-mannered man to hide. Or perhaps forced back into that form. Either way, it provides a great way to hide one’s job as a crimefighter from vicious villains and parasitical paparazzi. I’m glad I have hardly ever had to deal with them, by the way. Last time someone in news tried to get all up in my business, it went very badly for two of them and their boss.

While some powers are inconvenient for people to keep on all the time, like a man made of marble, it also means that someone can be killed when they have a protective power off, like a man made of marble.

Back to this encounter. I saw Apollo. My face was changed, like it tends to be, and it’s cold enough now that the trenchcoat doesn’t look out of place so he didn’t realize it was me at first. He sat down with his back to me in the booth next to mine, but closer to the door, across from a man with Asian features and short blue hair. Mechamoto, perhaps?

Either way, I slid under the table and popped up on the other side. I grabbed a napkin and tapped Apollo on the shoulder. He turned to look at me, curious. “Hello handsome, I think you dropped something.” I folded up the napkin and handed it to him.

“What’s this?” he asked.

“My number,” I told him.

He opened it up. “It’s blank.”

“I dropped my pen. I guess you’ll just have to give me yours.”

“My…pen?” he queried with raised eyebrows.

“I meant your number.”

“Listen, I don’t know you and I’m not-“

“Don’t bother. He’s probably not serious,” spoke a voice I had a tendency to hear only at the worst times. “And if he is, you don’t want him to call you.”

Apollo and I both looked over to see Venus, outside of her costume, standing there at the end of the table.

“Hello Boopsie,” I welcomed her with a grim smile. It’s not the fighting that bothered me so much as the potential loss of my chicken sandwich. I wanted my chicken sandwich.

“Hello Gecko,” she nodded to me. Apollo scooted away from me along the booth.

I looked between the three of them, noting how Mechamoto, or who I thought was Mechamoto, had his hands beneath the table. I looked at him, “Hey, do we have to do this right now? Come on, man, I’m hungry. You’re probably hungry. There are squishy people around who are going to get hurt. Can’t we just sit down and eat some food without me having to cut somebody?” I whipped my butter knife around in front of me. “Besides,” I offered, “If I have to leave here, I’ll be in a bad mood out in public where it’s hard to contain me.” I wiggled the knife helpfully.

“Alright, if you’re serious, we’ll leave you be, for now,” Venus conceded and took a seat next to Mechamoto. She turned to whisper something to him that, according to my reading, could have been either “Call in reinforcements,” or “At least he’s not out killing people.”

I reached over and stroked Apollo’s earlobe. He got goosebumps. “How about you eat without putting your hands on other people?”

“Awww,” I whispered loudly to Apollo, “That’s ok. I’m sure I’ll get my hands on you later.”

Just then the waitress arrived with my chicken sandwich. I turned and commenced to condimenting it. “Thanks.” Then the ambulance sped by with alarms going.

“Ambulances…did you kill someone already today?” Venus asked. I saw the others tense.

“Nah, the nuns will live,” I turned to reassure her. People like being reassured face to face. You can tell. Just ask how many people would be reassured by meeting a faceless person. Not too many, I think.

“Nuns?”

“Wasn’t my fault,” I said with a shrug.

She raised an eyebrow at me.

“It was an act of God. It rained men. Hallelujah, it rained men. Amen!” I raised a hand and pointed at the ceiling.

Mechamoto just stared at me for a good few seconds, then spoke, “He really is like this all the time.”

“Yep,” said Apollo and Venus at the same time.

“Hey, you know your hair?” I asked as I pointed at his blue furry head cover.

“I know of it.”

“It’s blue.”

He and I just stared at each other for about a minute after that as he didn’t answer and I waited. He with his hands still below the table, me with my eyes bugging out and a wide grin on my face.

“You done eating, hon?” asked the waitress as she stopped by to fill up my Coke. The soft drink, not the drug. There are people of a strange mind out there who seem to believe I do a lot of drugs. I have no clue where they get this from, but fear not! Aside from alcohol, I don’t bother with such things. No drugs, no narcotics, no prescribed medication. Remember kids, say no to drugs and you could wind up to be like me.

Maintaining my gaze, I brought my sandwich around in front of me. Staring. The whole time.

And yet, it was still better to them than the thought of me running around doing whatever it is I do with myself. That’s how you out-crazy the people in tight pants right there.

“Fuck!” said my waitress as she looked down at a recently-abandoned table. I slid out of my chair and was behind her in no time, tapping her on the shoulder.

“You called?”

“Huh. No, these people left me this! Look at this!”

She held it up for me to see. The “it” in question looked like a shorter 10 dollar bill from the rear. On the other side was some tract about accepting Jesus and blah blah blah. Ouch. You think you’re getting money that you need because you make like $2 an hour, but it’s all a bait and switch? Harsh.

“It’s the third time I’ve gotten one of these in the last couple of weeks,” she smoldered.

“What’d they look like?” I asked.

The heroes, meanwhile, had stood up and joined us around the fake money.

“It was that old couple. They took a carryout box, the ungrateful shits,” answered the waitress.

“Is there anything we can do to help?” asked Mechamoto.

“Not you,” I said with a grin and a growing chuckle, “But I sure as hell can help.”

He tried to grab me as I ran for the door, tossing money behind me. It was a cold, calculated plot to tip the waitress, pay for me meal, and encourage other diners to obstruct pursuit. Over my laughter, I thought I heard him say, “I’m calling in the team.”

I wasn’t sure which direction they were headed, but randomly running took me to them as they tried to get into their car around the corner.

“Heyheyheyheyhey!” I called out as the old man helped his wife into their car. He looked up as I raised a hand and slapped him hard enough to send his dentures flying. His head bounced off the old towncar and I grabbed hold of it again. His screaming wife tried to crawl across the seat.

“Open wide, honey. I got a tip for you!”

As expected, there was a horrified gasp. Don’t worry, I didn’t touch the old bat. Not even once. No, I threw her husband at her and lodged his head somewhere it wasn’t supposed to go. If you’d like to know more, then congratulations, you get to learn about the word “unbirthing” today!

Images are NSFW, of course. Ah, World Domination in Retrospect. Teaching people all the things they didn’t know they needed to know since January 2013.

I turned to see Mechamoto standing there holding a phone in one hand and a black bladed tanto that didn’t hold a reflection.

“Oh come on, you’re really going to hold this against me?” I asked.

He just stood there, not saying anything, but not raising the weapon. “It doesn’t matter if I think they deserve it. It’s about duty. Doing what’s right isn’t about when it’s just convenient and you like the people you save.”

“And sometimes it’s about doing things that seem wrong and illegal to make sure that assholes get what’s coming to them,” I took a pause as the lady groaned in pain and hit the roof of the car a couple times. “Hey, shut up in there or I’ll remember I was aiming for your other hole!”

Seeing as Mechamoto was inclined to run me through, I had to jump into the old car, sit on the old lady’s head, and fished out the old fellow’s keys to make my getaway.

It was nice to have a breather considering everything I’ve been doing lately. It cheered me up at least. But then, isn’t that what hurting people is for?

 

Next

Previous

Arete in Destruction 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I flushed the toilet, triggering the remote.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moai didn’t move.

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

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

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

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

“Hey Gex. What’s up?”

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

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

Who else do I have in my contacts…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next

Previous

A New Boss in Kingscrow 10

There was no more trouble on my stopover and then second elevator ride. That changed, obviously, as I exited to Long’s office. I had to take my hands off my singed rocket package because the secretary, Mechamoto Musashi, was ready for me. No one is ready for a bushbaby to the face, as I can also attest to. The subsequent upward swinging rubber plant and pot to the balls is also difficult to brace for. He got some air on that one, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he needed to have one of them popped back out of his body.

He may be a samurai, but I am the master of the 5 Knuckle Reverberating Testes technique.

Mechamoto was barely slumped over when some sort of glowing blue net wrapped around me courtesy of Troubleshooter. I tried to tear at it, but it was draining the power from my suit. There was no risk of leaving me on empty, but it kept the muscular enhancements from working. I didn’t even have time to try my Nasty Surprise. Metal clamps wrapped around me. My arms were mashed against me, but I could maneuver them to my sides a little as the clamps loosened just slightly to better adjust their grip. Troubleshooter stood near the door to Long’s office proper. Her backpack extended a trio of thick shafts to brace against the ground and the clamp arm running from her backpack lifted me off the ground. Another arm with a circular saw extended forward.

“Stay still. I am just going to get that helmet and armor off you,” she told me. She had a smug smile on her face, like she had just caught me or some nonsense like that.

It got less smug when I got to the fireball capsules. I really don’t show those things enough love, but they’re not much my style. They just seemed like a good idea once for this guy with webbing, and I’ve taken to keeping a few on me for the odd situation when it becomes useful to have something on fire. Ok, so even though very few situations aren’t made better by things on fire, I still don’t show them enough love.

Speaking of things on fire, my suit, the net, and the clamps weren’t either. Heat can do wonderful things to wiring, though. The net failed. I tried the Nasty Surprise and wiggled it around until I found a joint opening. It was taking too long, but then any amount of time is too long with a circular saw coming at your head. A solution to this problem required me to use my head. I headbutted the circular saw. It was knocked down and back somewhat while leaving a gash in the armor of my helmet. With a sound like a sigh, the left clamp failed and dropped me to the ground. With a smug smile on my face now, I ran for her and went for a front dropkick.

I hit her, expended my forward momentum, and dropped flat on my back. Damn tripod on her backpack kept her in place, but it was so beautifully executed a dropkick that it took her breath away. Or maybe that was the actual kick connecting. Either way, she sucked at the air like a lifetime member of McDonald’s Anonymous. That had to run down the side of an erupting volcano. And also, it was cannibals being tossed from the volcano.

I pulled off a kip up for probably the 3rd time in my entire life and gave her an uppercut. Then I pulled her forward where none of the tripod legs was bracing.

Mechamoto was back on his feet, however, and his blade stopped by my shoulder’s house to say “Hi, we’re in the neighborhood now. Would you care for some cold cuts?” Stuck me right into the wall. I would have tried that badass “Pull yourself up along the blade and snarl in their face” thing, but it was in the bone and I don’t like getting spittle all over the inside of my helmet. I fell back on my old favorite, but got no reaction as I kicked him between the legs. It was worse than I’d thought. They were actually knocked inside.

Facing a man with no weak points, I realized something important for the first time. I never recovered my potato peeler from the apartment in Empyreal City. Twisting blade interrupted those thoughts.

It would take some careful footwork to put him down and-. Nevermind, Max got him with a red Swingline stapler to the back of the head. Talk about shitty samurai armor. It’s a good thing Japanese Samurai never had to face down a horde of disgruntled office workers.

I guess modern day Japan really would kick its ancestor’s asses.

“Max, sup?” I said, pulling the katana out of my arm shoulder and walking over to Troubleshooter. I stabbed it through a portion of her costume and into the floor. Then I made for the rocket case I left by the elevator.

“Not much, Gex. Just that Benny boy is getting away while Forcelight is seeing him away, and Forcelight is actually his adoptive daughter, and that means she’s Doc’s daughter.”

“Well what the hell, man, you just dump all that on me suddenly? That’s not even dramatic.”

“Hey, you could have listened to the monologue too, but you had to win and come bursting in here like a big damn hero. You should have seen it too. Lighting was perfect, he had a cigar, everything.”

“Where is Forcelight?”

“She’s with Long. Seeing him off while he escapes.”

“Where’s he go?” I asked, dragging the case along.

“Look out the windows,” I heard from Doc, who was slipping free of his bonds. Bennett Long’s helicopter was leaving again.

“Doc, it’s not important to actually see his face when he goes, is it?” I called out to the man with the leather scrubs and the exposed face.

“I think we’re all ready for you to just end this, Gecko.”

“Righto, my good chap, let me just set up us the rocket,” I said. Max grabbed the comfy-looking solid wood chair behind Long’s desk and hurled it out the window to give me an opportunity. I pulled out the glove, got the box opened, and launched it without me. It didn’t have an explosive warhead in it because I’m not stupid. Instead, I directed it right into the cockpit. The helicopter went down in a death spiral and crashed into Life portion of the Long Life logo.

There was a Ding! from behind me. “Turkey’s done,” I said and turned to find Forcelight stepping out of the elevator. Judging from the fury that came over her face, I think she put 2 and 2 together for 4. Escaping helicopter missing, explosion against the side of the building, same case left behind when we last escaped on rockets.

The light surrounding her glowed all the more brightly. I don’t know if I was just adjusting, but all the other lights seemed to dim. It seemed as though she was the sole, excruciatingly bright light in a dark area. I could barely make out Troubleshooter helping Mechamoto to the elevator beyond Forcelight. Doc moved slowly and pleaded with his daughter but she swept him aside and into the wall, cracking it and something in Doc. I grabbed Max, swung him out of the window before he knew what was happening, and threw him at the window a floor down. I knew he made it to safety from the crash. Unless the glass nicked him in the wrong place, I suppose.

Ah well, he’s probably got so much stuff in his bloodstream, bleeding out will just sober him up. Wait a second, being sober is horrible! I’m a monster!

The light flowed at me, throwing me off balance. She was trying to throw me out the window, but the desk was blocking her somewhat. I threw myself to my right and braced myself against the window and the framing, then sank to the ground. I dug my fingers into the expensive carpet, throwing them into it one hand over the other, crawling my way towards her as office furniture flew past or overhead.

It was harder and harder to move towards her and I had to wonder why she wasn’t giving it her all. She tossed Doc around like a berserk diabetic manhandling a bag of sugar. I focused on that lovely face of hers, contorted in a wrathful expression. Trust me, when I use the term contorted for a woman and I’m not being a sexist pig, you know that’s some serious wrath. Course, no sooner had I thought those thoughts than she suddenly increased the intensity and blew the inner office’s walls in on me and I was falling.

When I got a clear enough view, I could see I was nowhere near a handy landing zone, but at least the do gooder was coming to give me a hand-

-she punched me! I mean, I just woke up so I’m a little late for outrage, but she farggin’ punched me! And now I’m even higher in the air-

-ok, I’m lower now, she hit me again. Girl’s got an arm like a-

-the surgeries and superhero organs, that’s it! Somehow he got it to-

-Geck Want Smash!-

-Enough! She is, every single one of her, beneath me! I am a god, you dull creature, and I will not be bullied by-

Ok, so good news and bad news. The bad news is I lost and am suffering some slight memory loss. Also, I’ve been stripped of my armor and due to some repeated brain trauma through the air, they needed to strip me of my underwear. The smell was too much. Don’t worry, I can still take notes and get this out whenever I get within range of my car. Doc and I are locked up pretty well, and the shackles are even attached to the wall of this van. I’ve told him I have an out, but he’s not listening. He’s insisting I let him do his time. What kind of crap is that? I’m sure he could get out if he really wanted to, but he doesn’t seem like he wants to. I tried telling him how bizarre this is, but he’s saying it’s over now. No more need to wear that awesome leather outfit and slice people up so artfully.

Thinks maybe, with thyme, he can reconnect to his daughter. I told him that it wouldn’t matter if he had parsley, sage, and rosemary as well, that she’s kind of pissed off. And a hero! Can’t reason with those types.

He just looked at me and said, “I hired you and there are two things left before the deal is done. First, you are not to harm her, ever. Second, you leave Kingscrow and don’t come back.” Don’t you hate it when a deal comes back to bite someone in the ass? Happening to the hero of whatever little story about mermaid princesses or frog princes, I understand, but not to the villain of the piece.

But he’s right. He hired me, and a deal is a deal.

The van doesn’t get too far before having to stop. The rear door is being unlocked. Nothing like a dozen SWAT officers with automatic weapons staring at you in the buff with your hands fixed to the wall to make you feel like a menace to society. The driver of the truck’s busy arguing with one of the officers. The man who opened the door and another nearby man hop in the back with me and Doc. One arm at a time, they unlock me, with them making sure to hold my wrists and slip on the latest and greatest in power dampening cuffs. When they get them on me, they lock the cuffs together. All of it was done by random digit passcode on the cuffs themselves. I wish I had some boots to mock shaking in.

“What seems to be the officer, problems?” I ask pleasantly as they led me out and to a nearby SWAT van.

“Quiet you,” says the one behind me with the gun.

“But what if you want to hold something against me in a court of law?”

“Close your mouth or I will close it for you,” he says, backing it up with a gun barrel poke to my spine.

“You know, your wife said completely the opposite last night,” is what I get out before he conked me in the back with the gun.

Turns out, spare restraints are somewhat adjustable and can fit over a human head.

***

There is a boring drive, getting out, being led somewhere, and then being pushed into a seat. When they remove the adjusted cuff from my head, I am sitting in an office in front of a man in a nice suit who looks self-important and slightly familiar. “Do I know you?”

“Psycho Gecko.”

“Wait, I’m not the pope, am I?”

“No, you’re Psycho Gecko.”

“Oh, ok. Cool. But damn, now I can’t call down the wrath of Yahweh upon you.”

“My name is Joseph Adontes Jr.”

“Hey, I’ve met your dad!”

“I’m aware.”

“I thought you said your name was Joe Adontes?”

“I want the money back.”

“I don’t really watch football.”

“The money I was supposed to inherit from dear old Dad before you paid him a visit.”

“Ah, well, that. It’s a little bit of a secret,” I look around conspiratorially. I’d never heard the doors close again. I see a couple of guards and Joe Jr., motions for them to leave. They shut the doors behind them as they exit. I leans forward and Joe Jr. does the same. “Ok, here’s how I get to the money. First, I break out and I shove your head into your own ass, then I waltz out of here.”

He leans back with an irritated scowl curling upon his face, “I’d like to see you try.”

At which point, having long since melded with the systems on the cuffs, I simply open them up.

***

Ok, another time skip here. I’m a day out of Kingscrow at the time I’m noting this. Fully-dressed, for all of those wondering at home. My armor is still back there, possibly. I hit the detonation signal, but I can’t be sure they didn’t separate the belt from the armor. I’ve got something in mind to deal with any of it they have left though. So, I’m making this one last note to this because it seems the title I gave this particular sequence of events has proven somewhat fortuitous. Forcelight, aka Aneta Long, is the sole heir to Long Life. The press conference she held was picked up by Outlaw X on the radio so I got to hear her announcement that she was going to continue what her father started and clean up Kingscrow. The Good Doctor is in jail, and I have no word on his outreach efforts, but Mix N’ Max and his accomplices are still loose. Good for Sam and Holly. Max might relocate again with this pressure on, so I might get a chance to see him while she’s busy cleaning up the rainiest city in the U.S.

I guess in her story, she’s the big heroine who can’t follow all the moves the villains are making and gets overwhelmed but finally gets a chance to put them down after they’ve pulled off their most heinous act, all the while her new team comes together handling the myriad of problems in the city. Probably makes for a better read from her side, or even from Doc’s side, the reformed villain who was a supposedly-good man suffering his redemption.

You’ve read my side. Only side I can present of it. I love a good revenge story. In the end, what did we really get from all this? Cash. Fear. Respect. Yet another photo of me being taken into custody nude. And yet, I somehow feel like we lost a little too.

Oh, before I forget, ahem… Next time, Forcelight. I’ll get you next time! You couldn’t see it, but I was doing some awesome fist-shaking when I said that.

I’ll be seeing y’all. I got an idea where I’ll head next, an old stomping grounds where I have a spare suit, and a nice place to visit if you’ve got the blues, so I’ll see y’all around next update.

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A New Boss in Kingscrow 8

Another day, another building destroyed. With the data from the Mayor’s office, I found a few of those enforcer stations. Some thrown together quickly, some put in buildings designed for something else, and some were still being built. I found a pair of fun targets. One was closer to the lab than I’d prefer. The other was on the opposite side of the city, right near the bridge.

I put a distress call out along some of my contacts, groveling for someone to get me out of that station’s lockup. As a completely unrelated aside, it’d be a shame if anyone put a bounty out on me to unscrupulous supervillains who might attack the place looking to turn me over themselves.

As for the other base, I admit, my approach could have been better. It was near the base of the bridge, along a road that went just under it. You’d be able to see it on your right until you got too close, as near to the bridge as it was. If I had some sort of boat, or a scooter, or a cargo helicopter, this might have turned out differently. As it was, the way I went about it required careful timing. And a truck. And a lot of money. Also, some paper, ink, an envelope, and shipping. These are the details that make it difficult to fill out the “Illegal Income” portion of the tax form. I had to hijack the truck, which wasn’t all that difficult. An old coot swung a bat at me. I guess he had one to spare in his belfry. I threw a joker card in his face.

Then there was clearing out some of the cargo and removing the roof of the trailer. I’ve got a LOT of mayonnaise I have to get rid of now. Max doesn’t have enough freezer space for all of it, what with the zombies in there.

Then there was loading up the bowling balls. Always with the loading up the bowling balls, right? It IS the obvious next step, but it’s work intensive and I don’t have minions. I asked Holly to help, but she beat me with a stick. It hurt my feelings. And my phalanges.

So then, starting across the bridge and all the way across the bay, I accelerated. Got that sucker moving, I know that much. Was a little bit of an issue with other cars in the way, but that’s why I added the cow catcher and the giant grinning clown head with bulging eyes and long fangs. Looking back, I almost feel like calling it Psycho Gecko’s Happy Express.

Right there, close enough and fast enough, I jackknifed on purpose and slid over. I know, dangerous to do in the middle of traffic, but I had my power armor and seatbelt on.

The bowling balls went flying through the air, hundreds of them raining down on the LL enforcers and their station. It was solid brick construction, but these were bowling balls accelerated to 115 mph and flying from way up in the air. It was like a hail of bowling balls banging through the windows and roof, smacking a guy in a powered exoskeleton. I even saw one hit the sidewalk and bounce up between an enforcer’s legs. 7-10 split, know what I mean?

Of course, just when they thought it couldn’t get any worse, the rest of the mayonnaise finally landed. Even worse, weather report says we’re looking at a hot and humid day tomorrow.

Not everyone has been a fan of my initiative, however. I walked in the base later that night and Max sprayed me right in the face with some ice cold liquid. It was like it was freezing every pore on my face. “Ah! What the hell was that?” I asked, covering up.

“Water,” he said, and sprayed me again, this time on the back of the neck, “Bad Gecko, bad bad!”

“Whaaaaat?” I cried out as I tried to escape the onslaught of his cold spray bottle. Alas, the bathroom with its towels did nothing to save me. It was occupied by Holly. When I turned around, I got another faceful of water. “Argh, I’m melting in freezing ice water! What a world, what a world.” I curled up in a ball, holding my coat around me to try and protect myself. “What did I do to deserve such cruelty? Holly, Sam, help me out here!”

“It’s not about the girls this time. You just brought down a hell of a lot of heat on us,” I heard him say over me as he grabbed me by the collar. I sandbagged so he couldn’t yank me up or anything.

“Chill out. Smoke something and calm down. I’m sure you have some Fucital around here somewhere.”

That’s when the door slammed and the Good Doctor stomped in. “Where…” he muttered to himself before seeing me on the ground. When I tried to sandbag him, he stomped on my head. I held the back of it as I raised myself up on my knees, but before I could even get an Ow out, he grabbed my throat and started choking.

I nearly killed him. It happens. When I felt his hands around my throat, for a moment I lost all recognition of who this person was and my mind raced with deadly thoughts. The top of his mask was still on, but the bottom part was open. I could see his sneer, and somehow realized he wasn’t giving me his full strength. Realizing who he was again, my reluctant ally, I did the only reasonable thing I could do to snap him out of this. I reached into my pocket, pulled out my banana, peeled it, and shoved it into his mouth.

It is common knowledge that in the UK military, they train soldiers to deal with an attacker wielding a banana. This is because a man with a banana is a versatile foe who you should never turn your back on. Actually, turning your back on them is one of the safer ways to confront them, unless you slip on the banana.

With banana smooshed in his mouth, Doc was forced to relent. I had to cough a bit, but luckily there wasn’t a lot of damage. At least, there wasn’t until Max sprayed me right on the hair with his arctic spray bottle of doom.

“Ah! Stop that you two. What is the big dealio?”

Doc grabbed the sprayer from Max and threatened me with it. Truly, he has a heart of cold ice water. “Unless you’re in the middle of some plot to take over or destroy the entire city, you stay away from the elected officials,” he said, like it was a rule or something. I saw Sam come out of the den area with a big bucket of water. Her ambush was unnecessary now.

“Except the DAs,” added Max.

“Right, except the District Attorneys,” he reiterated all formal and whatnot.

“What, it’s a problem to assassinate him, unless I had anti-grav devices in the sewer and tried to float us all away?”

“Yes,” they all agreed. Doc, Max, Sam, even Holly from inside the bathroom. Followed by what sounded like a Muck Monster being born. Max raised his arm towards the door and let out a couple of sprays that gave everything a flowery scent.

“Shouldn’t matter,” I told them,” I have stymied his political ambitions. Ended. Finished. Arivaderci. Rubbed out. Maybe even killed.”

“It’s not too hard to see through that. Our feud is a rather public affair,” said Max.

“It’ll get a lot harder to see through when we get that Long Life rep who tried to sick the rest of the guys on us to come forward and testify. Then everyone will be too busy looking at the conspiracy and imagining coverups. I was just going to stop in, order some Chinese for y’all, then put the armor on, but noooooo, you had to drag that devilish bottle and your water freezing concoction into things,” I explained. The word of a villain is, unfortunately, not always trusted in court. Good thing I’m not trying to tell them the truth.

“We will handle the representative. You will be too busy drying off,” Doc said. Max gave Sam a nod. She threw the bucket of water on me.

“Will you people stop that already!”

Doc leaned down, looking me in the eyes. Or he would have, but my hair was draped over them like I was Cousin It cosplaying as Revolver Ocelot. Which, if it wasn’t me, would be a kinda hot image. Of course, Doc’s X-ray vision. He was probably looking into my eyes anyway. He spoke quietly to me, “You changed our conflict from dark villains taking on a corrupt businessman to murderous villains taking on the entire city. If you just attack a city like this then retaliation will come forthwith. You may be suicidal, but the rest of us don’t want to fight the National Guard.”

“Then we must make use of the ancient wisdom of a boy who has been snuck into his girlfriend’s room. Get in, finish quickly, and escape before someone shoots us with a shotgun,” I said. It elicited groans from the group, including Holly in the bathroom.

“That was crap, Gecko,” she yelled out.

“You would know!”

Max was looking over at the TV in his lab. Guy likes his cooking shows when he’s cooking up the devil dust. “If we go that way, and it appears we have been forced into this course of action, then we can avoid fighting them with appropriate foreknowledge.”

The news was talking about the attacks on the enforcers. First it had the station I mentioned that earlier as too close for comfort. The side of the building accessing the holding cells was torn open. The culprits, Rupt and Starnose, were in custody. The former had a light pole wrapped around his hands and neck, while the latter was laying knocked out with his head in a mail drop box. The heroes were there and mostly unharmed. General wear and tear, some marks gouged out of Paveman’s rocky form and Troubleshooter’s sonic dish was half bitten off.

Then it cut to the station I attacked. The station was wrecked and soldiers were walking around. They slipped on Mayo that was beginning to clear. One guy kneeled and cried over a meatball sub, obviously his lunch, which had been absolutely covered in mayo. That Colonel Mortimer was there and looking very unhappy around his black eye, holding a printed off picture of bowling pins I had couriered over in one hand and giving the camera crew a blurred out middle finger with the other.

I looked up at my comrades in arms, “I’ve got the balls if you two do.”

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