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.
“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.