That’s another one down. But now I’ve got another problem. I’ve got a baby, and a little kid, and too many people visiting my house.
Medusa tattled on me. She warned me real quick, too. She called me up, “Hey hon. I wouldn’t do this if it wasn’t important. You know how you keep playing a role in stopping these things that keep attacking?”
“Last I heard, they’re being called Ancient Horrors. Not exactly horrors in the conventional sense after the Perverse, though,” I told her.
She cut me off before I could go off on a tangent. As if I’d just do that. “I talked to that Liaison. She knew other people were fighting back. She still has the Dark with her, and she knew someone had to have trapped the others. I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t think this was important, but you made it sound like they’re gunning for you.”
“None have used guns so far, but I may have wedgied my fair share of Ancient Horror dorks. Maybe gave one a swirly.” This is called bravado. It looks real funny to people if you have it and then can’t back it up.
“We’re on our way to meet you. We’re going to be there in a couple of hours.”
“Are you cleaning up the living room?” I asked. I looked out at a floor scattered with some clothes from everyone but Venus and Medusa. I had Alexander with me, ready for a diaper change. Little stinker’s got a lot to learn, but he picked up shitting early.
“I don’t think they’re gong to worry about the house being clean. I’m sorry, I know you’re supposed to rest, but this is important.”
“Well, I guess I don’t have a choice,” I told her. “Just make sure we’re not going to do the whole thing where someone threatens me or tries to fight me, will you? I don’t have time for that shit. I had to deal with Alexander’s.
I was a bit down, so things weren’t that bad. Sam and Holly woke up and helped out. They’ve been adjusting as well, with thick ear muffs. I’ve been letting Qiang stay with friends more. She’s happy to see the cute little baby, but her other senses don’t care for it. Senses like smell and hearing. And Sam’s been great. She even watched Alex while I took a shower and washed my hair and cried about what my life’s come to and how I wanted this but I hate it and what kind of a person am I really?
I needed that shower. Left it feeling refreshed and put on some disposable clothes. It’s easy to go out looking nice when you don’t have to risk getting puke all over yourself on a regular basis. But the family’s helping. I knocked them for not doing so, but they’re helping a lot with cooking and cleaning until I can get in tune with the automatons again. Which reminded me, I rushed downstairs to the basement to shut down the automated defenses on the house. Would be a shame if these aliens who were bothering me got shot down by a lawn gnome packing a bajillia-watt laser and a flamingo with atomic-bladed talons.
When they arrived, I was at least nice enough to have some snacks ready. I opted for an outfit that would allow me to subtly intimidate the newcomers, too. But, I mean, I just dropped a baby out from between my legs. It’s still sweatpants and a loose shirt, but the shirt says, “Bad Mother.”
I made quite a sight sitting on the porch, sipping tea and eating a dill pickle spear, bouncing a flip flop-clad foot on the porch. They hovered overhead in an alien shuttle. I grabbed a remote and activated the landing strip on the driveway that I never really use. Usually, people just parallel park next to the yard without daring cross the picket fence. It can open to let someone in or out of the driveway, but I think only I know that.
I think I killed the vibe they were going for when they all stepped out in costume. There was Miss Tycism, the resurrected magical heroine I once killed, in kind of an indigo robe number. Captain Lightning II was wearing his usual getup. I briefly wondered if he needed to stop and pee in that or if his superpowers just did something with it. Medusa was there as well, along with a blue-skinned Grau with feathers on his head and a jumpsuit on. There were others with them in various costumes or even just regular clothing, but there were two others who stood out to me. One was Axinomancer, a young but legal non-binary mage who used axinomancy, with an ax as a focus of their magic. And the other was a meaty, muscular guy in a muscle shirt with slicked-back hair.
“Max Muscles?” I asked.
“Yo yo yo, who that is?” he asked.
“We met before, but you wouldn’t remember me,” I told him.
Medusa, in a casual Exemplar outfit, hopped out past them. “Hey babe.”
“Hey boopsie,” I told her. After a second, I stood up. “Welcome to the Gecko Household everyone. Y’all are the ones trying to fight the Ancient Horrors?”
“Is that what they settled on?” the Grau asked. He stepped forward. “I’m Mystic Teneceroni.”
“Bonjourno,” I said.
He approached and offered the standard human handshake, which I accepted. Meanwhile, the rest of this field trip of magic superheroes and Max Muscles approached. I nodded toward the house. “There are drinks and snacks inside. Pizza.”
“I’m glad to talk to you,” Mysic Teneceroni said. “I’ve heard you played an important role in dealing with Earth’s problem.”
“Seems that way.” Despite the look of clear suspicion from Captain Lightning, and the way Axinomancer eyed me, everyone else shuffled into the house. “Whoa, pizza!” Max Muscles called out.
So, in the tradition of many of Earth’s peoples, we broke bread together. It was the beginning of them attempting to woo me into an alliance, I thought. But Medusa pulled me aside at one point to tell me, “They’re here to protect you.”
“Really? You told Captain Lightning about that?” I was skeptical.
“I think he’s hoping they fail, but he’s well aware how much is at stake. Guess it’s about time for another generation to be infuriated at you.” She put her arms around my neck and kissed me. “Now, I’m going to get more of that pizza. What is that black stuff?”
“Tuscan herbs. It coated the outside of this cheese I sliced up and put on there.” She left me there.
As for me, I needed a little break from all the people for the moment, except I turned and saw yet another one. I didn’t remember ever meeting this guy in my life. It was like the black of his pupils glowed just a little, or like a strong light reflected off them right in the center. White guy, pretty generic looking, brown suit, glasses, comb over, mustache. Geeky-looking fellow, which would fit for some of the mages.
“Hey,” I said, nodding toward him.
“Hi there,” he said. “Nice place.”
“Thanks, I guess.”
“You’re one of the biggest and baddest villains ever. Is this,” he gestured to the home around us. “really what you wanted out of life?”
“Bold question,” I said. I thought about it a bit. Good food, good shelter, a loving family, and the ability to destroy the world with a wave of my hand. I nodded. “Yeah, I guess so.”
“Really? You don’t need, I don’t know, money?”
I shook my head. “Psssh. Just don’t ask about my revenue stream. Money’s fine. There’s always more of it out there.”
“Don’t you ever miss being Empress?” he asked.
These questions felt a bit weird at this point. “It was nice, but I don’t need it.”
“You were a goddess!” he said.
“I mean, some of the kinky shit was nice,” I said. I shook my head. “I guess, once the trauma’s gone, I’m just not that complicated. I don’t want to, like, be an Olympic gymnast or star in movies. I just want a good life. Right now, the only real threat to that are these Horrors. You got a way to get rid of them?”
A hand spun me around and pushed me against the wall. Axinomancer’s mouth found mine. I enjoyed myself for a second, then pushed her away. “Right here and now?” I asked. I looked over to the guy, but he was gone.
“I want you,” Axinomancer said. Morgan, I should call them. They’re a bit young for me and I didn’t see anything in the relationship. We had some enjoyable times with me possessing their body as a goddess, but I didn’t want to make it an ongoing, long-term thing. They’ve got her whole life ahead of them, too.
Morgan turned my face back toward them. “I want you in me.”
“I don’t have those powers,” I told her.
“I know a way. Your brains, my body. We’d be perfect,” they said.
“What’s gotten into you?” I asked. I’d pretty clearly ended it and thought I made it fine with her. There were some nice perks to being a goddess.
“You, I hope,” Morgan said.
I looked around for a little delicate diplomatic help. Max Muscles was scarfing down pizza like it was nobody’s business. Mystic Teneceroni was discussing something with Miss Tycism, both of them creating little magical lightshows as they shows off to each other. I didn’t see where Medusa was at, but Captain Lightning was chatting with the geeky guy. Then Lightning turned to look at me and started over. The dork disappeared quickly when Lighting’s stride hid him briefly from view.
Oooooh. Yeah, I gotcha. Dorky guy’s doing this.
“Hey, Pepperoni!” I called out. Max looked up, but so did Miss Tycism and Mystic Teneceroni. “Is there one of these things that offers you whatever you want?”
“Enough talk and enough lies. The world doesn’t need you!” Captain Lightning II said. He reached for me.
Axinomancer turned, summoning an ax into their hands. “Yeah it does.”
Medusa came out of nowhere to stand in front of me. “Damn right.”
“You asked a great question,” Teneceroni said, oblivious. He created more of a light show, this one more of a turquoise laced with violet. “One of the Ancient Horrors is the Desire. It finds what people want most and amplifies their desire, feeding on the chaos and death.”
Captain Lightning grabbed Medusa and pushed her into a wall. She grunted in pain. And Desire got to me a bit. I wanted my family to be safe. My mind did its calculation. I stood up to Captain Lightning. I looked him right in his angry eye and said, “Margaret Thatcher naked on a cold day!”
He winced and held up his hands. “It’s in my mind’s eye. It burns!”
I pulled out the phone I’ve got to use while my powers aren’t working and pulled up an image. I showed it to Morgan, which backed them off, too. Soon, the image of that evil woman had shaken everyone out of their desire. As for me, I then found the dorky guy chatting up Sam, dragged him into the restroom, and started giving him a swirly. He disappeared on me before I could drown him on it, but it gave me enough time to think on how we were going to catch this walking armadillo turd.
“Computer,” I called down to the basement. “One small talking statue of Thatcher.”
“We can catch Desire and bind it,” Mystic Teneceroni informed me.
Morgan shrugged. “It’s kind of what I had in mind for you.”
“I mean, what you said is what I was going to go with,” I told my admirer. “But I want to make sure nobody goes searching for the Desire.”
Luckily, this whole ritual didn’t take long with such trained mages around. I mean, sure, the world was going to hell while we did this, but that’s common now. Just weeks now of everything going bad out of nowhere in a world where people superpowers and guns. Perfectly fine for someone to whisper in your ear and go, “Hey, live out your secret desires.”
Meanwhile, we were all crowded around in my basement, me in black robes like this was the Neighborhood Watch Alliance, chanting. They did most of the work, which was a mixture of various languages’ magical chants to the effect of ‘Come on if you think you’re hard enough.”
Axinomancer had regained their memory some time back and, eventually, found a broader way to channel other beings. I was no longer a goddess, so I couldn’t be called upon the standard way, but this other method, while dangerous if it wasn’t specific enough, was still possible. And with this many skilled practitioners and Max Muscles, it worked. They drew the Desire out and to store it in the last place anyone would go looking for Desire: a statuette of Margaret Thatcher that plays “Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead” whenever anyone pressed the button.
A bit dated, I suppose.
I found out Max’s role in all this when the dorky guy appeared in the circle and Max flexed. Mystic runes glowed on his arms and chest as he ran into the circle, grabbed Desire, and threw him into the Thatcher statuette. “Boom! That’s how Max and his Magic Mind Muscle crew do it!”
“So, is that it then?” I asked when Desire seemed to be safely tucked away.
“We’ll put it somewhere safe,” Mystic Teneceroni said. “Thank you for allowing us to stay here. We would like to stay longer, if we can.”
“I mean, at least one of you wants me dead,” I said.
“Yes,” the alien mystic said. “However, while these Ancients are attacking everyone, they’ve focused on you specifically. Allowing them to manifest against you and then catching them gives us a way to prevent this crisis while my people work to repair the dimensional barrier. Do you have room for all of us?”
Oh boy. I sighed. “I’ll see what I can do. Unless anyone wants to stay in a house with a screaming newborn?”
Of course Axinomancer volunteered. Too bad for them that after the trauma my fun parts just went through, I’ve gone temporarily celibate. And, ya know, the news certainly got interesting when people leaked that basically every country with nuclear weapons had a guy guarding them who really, really, really wanted to fire the things.
And as smoothly as Desire went down, unlike the others, his effects seemed to be permanent. People recovered from the Dark and the Unwelcome. The Fate’s and the Perverse’s changes reverted once they were sealed away. But it was humans who shot places up or rioted this time. Which means that dork has the highest bodycount of any of these guys so far.
I know it can take days to squirt out a baby. That’s not what’s happening here. I needed to get caught up is all. It’s been harder to write under the circumstance I found myself in and in the period immediately afterward. Tl;dr, you try keeping up with a blog while giving birth. Miracle of life my ass.
Now, after dealing with The Unwelcome, things were starting to fall into place. Isabella and Maia had been delayed by dealing with the aftermath of The Dark and the invasion of The Unwelcome. Holly had been out getting a signal to Mix N’Max, my old friend, letting him know about the momentous occasion. She’s also trying to hide from me a bunch of presents she’s been buying in secret since I never held a baby shower.
A hulking nurse with cybernetic implants poking out of his facial skin stopped in. “I don’t normally work here, so I’m not sure I have the right place. There are visitors for you. Is this the room of Psychopomp Gecko?”
Ah. Sam had forgotten to give them my alias. That’s an unfortunate oversight.
The nurse shook his head. “That’s Psycho Gecko…”
“Yeah,” I said, curious. My legs were still up in the birthing stirrups, but I reached over and grabbed for one of the panic bags.
The guy had a neck that wasn’t so much a column as it was a slope. Muscles on top of muscles. He could be the main character in a first person shooter. He shook his head. “You fought the space marine invasion, didn’t you?”
The former space marine ran at me. I whipped something out of the panic bag. Instead of my machete, I whipped a stuffed dog into his face. I then lowered my head and the sharp unicorn horn sticking out of it. When the former space marine pulled himself off it, he spurted blood all over me from the hole in his chest and one of his hearts. He got it all over the dog plushie, too. He turned and ran for it, dripping blood the whole way.
Other nurses found me like that, soon after followed by the whole family. “Uh…” I tried to come up with something snarky to say. Holly had me covered, blowing a noisemaker and waving around a couple of sparklers as she ran in, dragging around balloons tied to her arms. She ran over and hugged me.
“Watch the sparklers!” I said, careful of my hair catching fire. There was a lot of unwashed oil in those locks.
“Ew, bloody… so is the baby out yet?” Holly asked.
“RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH!” I said.
Some strange guy poked his head into the room. “Hi there, I’m with Nuclear Blast Records, and I’d love to sign whoever unleashed that phenomenal scream”
“Out!” Isabella said, closing the door in the heavy metal producer’s face.
Meanwhile, I hit the call button. “Get in here!”
I think I’m due a bit of privacy about what happened next. Which is new. Usually when a situation involves a bunch of screaming, crying, drugs, and pain, I’m all too eager to share it. But permit a blood-soaked babymaker to keep something to myself. And after all that was said and done, they even let me hold the little pain in my ass.
“Hello, Alexander. You’re going to have a hell of a life,” I said to my tired, crying baby. Then I passed him over to Isabella and Maia. Sam and Holly were out of the room, with Sam helping Holly recover from watching what happens when someone gives birth. I’d have warned her to gird her loins if I’d had time beforehand, but there was a lot of screaming.
They did have to take Alexander away from me and almost everyone filtered out to let me rest. The thing about your body being in pain every few minutes for like a day is you don’t get a lot of rest. I woke up to a thin, zombie version of myself sitting in a chair next to an abandoned balloon. Her hair was white save for the barest of my rainbow colors at the bottom. My split horn was longer, with the smaller rear portion twisting around a longer main horn until it came back behind the main one. I couldn’t tell where her hands ended and nails began. She was thin, deathly pale, with cloudy white eyes that stared at me.
“So who are you?” I asked this dead reflection.
“I am your Fate,” it said.
“Is that what you call yourself? Fate?” I asked.
It stood up.
“Since this is a joyous day for me,” I warned it. “I’m going to advise you not to do anything that causes me to have to stand up. So, what, are you here with the failed space marine, or is this another yahoo from beyond the veil of existence?”
“I am the Fate. The path of all living things is set in stone and beset by suffering.”
I flashed back, even moreso than my stress disorder caused once upon a time. I was a kid again, being beaten by others in the Psychopomp Program. I was being held in an armlock by Medusa, tearing my arm out to free myself. I was screaming as something the size of a baby forced its way out of something the size of my pussy. And then I was back there in bed, with that zombie of myself standing in the room. I pulled the blanket aside and swung my feet over the edge of the bed, sitting on the side of the bed.
When I stood up, I stumbled back behind a shield. When I lowered it, I was in a burning building, facing off against a pissed-off Venus. Her armor was slimmer. She retracted a double-headed ax attached to one of her arms and raised the double double barrels on each forearm. I raised the shield. Bullets pinged off, pushing me back as I tried to dig my orange boots into the ash. I was in a black and orange version of Captain America’s costume, but without the belly stripes and with a large G where the star would be.
Venus’s fire abarted. “What’s all this about?!” I asked.
“Don’t pretend you didn’t kill my son, you bitch!” she screamed at me. I looked over the shield. She was heading right for me with that ax. I threw my field at the floor, which it bounced off of to come at her face from below. She swatted it away and took my knee in her visor, diverting her to the side. I landed and shook my leg. Fucking hurt doing that to my knee.
When I looked up again, Venus was gone and I was looking at Qiang, just a little older. We were standing on the torn-open side of a building, like the windows had been blown out. She looked at me, then jumped out. I ran over and dove after her. She was splayed out, her tears splashing me in the face as she watched me bring my arms in close. I flapped my wings but the ground was so close. I didn’t have time to catch her. Instead, a glowing light pulled me up into it.
I stood up in the Mobian’s time vessel. “I have you. That wasn’t real. She’s messing with you.” He wore the same face as when I saw him replace the Torian, his evil counterpart, but was dressed differently. He wore a boring brown suit jacket with elbow patches, but a bright red scarf and a brown trilby.
“Oh, someone finally came to see what’s going on,” I mentioned.
“Everyone’s seeing it. Their own personal confrontation with every bit of suffering they’ve ever faced, sometimes changing their present to twist the knife. You have its attention. Good job with the Unwelcome.”
“Changing the present, but Qiang’s not dead?” I asked.
“Not where you came from,” the Mobian said.
“You can’t evade me,” zombie-me said. She now blocked the glowing white doorway. Her feet didn’t move so much as slide along the floor. I stood up, realizing I had gone from Captain Gecko to Unicorn Goddess as far as my costume.
“Who said I’m evading?” I asked. “I’m standing up now.”
“Your fate has been sealed.”
“Yeah, but I’ve still got a destiny to seize,” I said.
“I stand beside her,” the Mobian said. “Gecko, the time will soon come when I will disappear.”
“You kinda did already,” I said.
“Oh. Well, that’s wonderful news,” he said. He rushed up the dais toward a console and pressed a button. I fell out of the doorway and back into the hospital room. A bright light flashed by the window. I stood up, my costume fading away to a hospital gown now. Outside floated the Mobian’s time vessel. Nearby, my laptop crackled.
“The truth about time travel is this, Gecko. From the point of view of the future and of timeless, infinite beings, the past is set in stone. It has to be that way for us. It’s our present that can change. It’s your present that can change, and the universe has to reconcile that. I’ve devoted myself to helping stop people from changing it enough to bring the Fate into reality, but it’s found a way. So now I have to trap it, maybe even destroy it, but I need my vessel. You may doubt this, but I hope I see you again.”
The Mobian’s vessel flashed and disappeared. Trapping someone who wants to change reality to hurt everyone using a vessel that can travel through time. It’s like rain on your wedding day. Isn’t that ironic?
The gown wasn’t the only thing restored. My body went from a keyed-up Captain Gecko with an adrenaline rush to falling-down tired. I grabbed the wall and eased down into a chair. After a few minutes, I recovered enough to get back to the bed, trying to avoid laying on my deflated belly.
Wait, everyone had to be freaking the fuck out, too. I pulled myself up and stumbled out into the hallway, confirming that everyone else had had a hearty round of being fucked with. I found Qiang down near the cafeteria and hugged her, then carried her with me to go check on Alexander. The rest of the family, mostly hanging out around the cafeteria as well, caught up to us around then, in the middle of a bunch of babies cradling my newborn and my firstborn.
Unique Problems 7
Every doctor in Radium was spending a lot of time in what had been, until recently, a secret underground lair beneath my store. Other places had the space, but the Exemplars wanted to err on the side of more solid construction, in case of attack or breakout. It counted towards my community service, too. And I know for a fact every doctor was there because my OB-GYN had pulled me aside.
“I don’t care how prolific a killer you are, you are not supposed to run around fighting anything right now. You’re about to have a baby. You understand that, right? I don’t know how many superhero pregnancies you’ve overseen, but I’ve dealt with a dozen and this is a critical time. I’m grounding you.”
“You’re serious?” I asked. “Like, you think you can just ground me like a kid?”
“You’re acting like one. You’re over-confident in your knowledge and technology. If you knew what you were doing, you wouldn’t be running around like everything’s normal. Do you even know what you’re doing to your child every time you transform.” He indicated the Unicorn goddess form I was currently in. I didn’t even have a belly showing like this.
“I’m fine,” I said. I summoned a large meatball sandwich with fried cheese sticks inside it. “Hungry. Very hungry. Fine, though. Any preggo villains there need your help instead?”
He shook his head. “No. You get me all to yourself.”
I teleported over to Medusa. “How’s it going?”
She was overseeing a rehab therapist working with one of the released prisoners. Months of not moving left him weak. He couldn’t even stand on his own, so was being helped with a harness. The therapist was cheerleading him on. “You’re doing good. We’ll have those muscles back in no time. Nothing good ever comes easy, right?”
“Bullshit!” he yelled. The villain grunted at the exertion of just standing.
“The main thing is making them trust us,” Medusa told me. My girlfriend and former nemesis had been behind the rejuvenation of Radium as a town full of superheroes and villains living in secret and in peace. A way for those with powers to be able to rest and get out of the fight. It probably sounds weird, and it’s definitely privileged. After all, regular criminals don’t usually get a chance at something like this. But it’s easy, when you have superpowers, to get caught up in stuff. Someone wants your power. Other criminals, governments, monsters.
“You know, if we don’t give them the option to go out and keep doing their thing, we’re just as bad as what we stopped, right?” I asked.
Medusa sighed. “Yeah, but you have to give people a chance.” She smiled, looking at me. “When it works, it’s amazing. How’s Unique?”
I raised a hand and projected a bunch of images. “So far, it’s still here.” I had a still in there from Bill Of Rights being arrested. It was done in Unique to be all official and signal that the town was independent of him. It would survive even if one of the big funders and personalities behind it. Dr. Snugglesworth was also stepping down, divesting stuff, handing over patents, etc. He handed over Bill and he was turning himself in for his own role in what happened. There were opinion pieces and people ranting online about never trusting Unique, but at the same time the gap was being filled, quietly, by more heroes showing up. The internet was once again proving to not entirely be real life. I illustrated this with various texts and copies of leases, receipts, etc. They were renting and buying properties.
I finished another bite of my meatball and cheese stick sandwich before admitting, “Looks like people who are supposed to be all about justice and accountability are actually ok with a place submitting to both.”
“It’s a sign we’re right,” Medusa smiled, patting me on the shoulder. “Both of us, miss hero.”
“No, don’t deny it, Unicorn Woman,” Medusa teased. “You want to know what one of my first clues was that you were better than you thought you were?”
“My ability to shame y’all for trying to murder me?” I asked, remembering the time Shieldwall had a difference of opinion over executing me.
“Because when there’s a major threat to the world that you know about, you try to fight it. That’s your problem too, miss,” she poked me very gently in the belly. “The doctor’s right. Rest and relax. You’re not just taking care of yourself.”
“It’s a conspiracy,” I accused her. “Everyone wants me laid up.”
“Everyone wants you to get out of their business and take care of your own,” she answered. “You should listen. The world doesn’t always need Psychopomp Gecko to save it. But you’re about to have a baby that will need a mother.”
“I’m pretty sure there’s a conversation to be had here about the cost of having babies and how it keeps women at home,” I said. “I mean, I chose this, but not everyone does, and it takes a pretty heavy toll on your life when you don’t have superpowers and magical miniature machines. Or illegal revenue streams. You won’t believe what a bunch of the people I.. who died mysteriously had that they wanted to do. Lots of rapists and forced birthers and just monsters.”
Medusa leaned over and kissed me on the cheek, then whispered, “Nice save.” Then she pulled out receipt of her own. “Unique’s going to have an Exemplar station, too. If you’re bored, we could use you consulting with a liason from that space Consortium of Grau to help us with portals. They think they can refine the technology we currently have to be less damaging to the universe. Something you can help us with from home.”
“You’re really trying to sell me on staying home,” I said with a grin.
There was a beep from her waist. Even though she’s homo machina, she still uses separate devices for communication and internet access and porn. She grabbed a thing that once might have been a smartphone.
“Ma’am, we’ve got an alien crustacean here who says he has an army of doppelgangers from other universes. He’s at the UN and says we should all surrender or he’s taking over.”
Medusa rolled her eyes. “I’m on it.” She turned to me. “Time for me to go to work. You stay here. I heard the doctor say you were grounded, miss. We’ve got this.”
I felt a little queasy at the moment, despite the delicious splendor of my fried cheese and meatball sandwich. “Fine. I think I need to go break a toilet between my thighs anyway.”
My girlfriend snorted and jogged off, already calling for a team to meet her with a Flyer and a suit of her power armor. Meanwhile, I started off toward the bathroom. I didn’t need to throw up, nor was I dizzy. At first. I became dizzy after a little bit, with a sudden migraine that felt like someone had driven a sword into my brain, except more painful because the brain doesn’t actually have its own pain nerves. I got myself out of the way and over to a wall. It felt like I was seeing things through two sets of eyes. I breathed through two noses, tastes two mouths. And then it felt like my body had been snapped together with a rubber band. I dropped the sandwich, which was a different sort of pain.
I stumbled and fell against a wall, careful not to hit my belly against it. I had a belly again. It was stretching my shiny Unicorn goddess outfit. I grabbed the wall, hooves scrabbling against the floor for a second. I needed to take stock of myself. I knew I had a belly and hooves. My hair was still bright-colored. A quick nanomachine self-diagnostic showed there were changes, though. I went to the bathroom just to make sure. My face, my eyes, and the body I’d made for myself merged with the one I used for my Unicorn alias. The biggest problem was probably the penis, which is a rare phrase from me. I mean, I don’t want to brag about the size, given how much I can change it, but I had just gotten rid of it in anticipation of how close things are getting.
I tried that again. And I couldn’t. I couldn’t reach the remains of the godlike power I’d one had. I’d kept a little with me, like a hot core within me full of reality-warping energy. I could feel it like a distant heat source, but that was it. All I had left were all the superpowers I’d built into these two bodies that were, now, merged into one. I put my hands on my head, careful of the horn that, now, I’d have to surgically remove if I wanted to get rid of it. And then, feeling two bodies worth of digestive track having merged, I rushed to the toilet. Tip for regular humans out there: no toilet on Earth is built to accommodate a large pair of wings.
Just for good measure, I had the double-whammy: shitting and puking. And so much peeing, so a triple whammy. I couldn’t stop. Why wouldn’t it stop?!
I crawled out of there a ways, before hefting my way up off the floor and marching right out to see the OB-GYN, who was helping with some more basic medical checks on the rehabbing former prisoners. It took some work because I was weak. Even my flight, which didn’t rely on the wings, was acting up. The guy still knew how to do a physical, after all.
When he got the time to see me, that’s when I got the diagnosis: pregnancy-induced power incontinence. “It’s common when someone with superpowers gets pregnant. That’s one of the reasons you’re supposed to take it easy as things go along. Some people keep their powers the entire time, which can cause complications. Others lose them, which also causes complications.”
“So I’m grounded,” I admitted.
New Normal 6
The crew of Lethac the living ship has left the Earth. Despite the fear I’d created in them of Earthlings with my brutal use of technology, they stayed long enough to stock up on a shitload of food. I paid. I didn’t know much about their crimes or what sort of people they are, but I’m giving them a chance. It’s likely my trust won’t be rewarded, but that’s the trust of being scary.
They got their second chance. And I got to walk into the United Nations with a present for the whole world. Maybe not the few remaining alien diplomatic parts who hadn’t been shrunk, but the humans, at least. And just to make a point, I was flanked by a guard of Exemplar soldiers with Medusa and Venus in power armor. In my hands, I held the orb. That sounded ominous. I held the crystal ball with a tiny fleet of ships holding steady in it.
“I demand you us our people back, barbarian!” one of the quill Grau said. He or it or whatever was taller, thinner, and dressed in a dark jumpsuit. I think the cape was for intimidation factor.
“That’s not really my decision,” I pointed out. “What, exactly brought your people here anyway?” I held up the crystal ball. “What was so important for your people about this speck of dust, suspended in a sunbeam, that we call home?”
“That is for your betters to discuss,” the caped alien said. I didn’t need to guess at his fury. I think the idea of a primitive holding his people’s welfare over him and being in a position to demand answers got to him.
I was, of course, quite angry at the whole thing.
“I think you’d better answer the woman,” said a blue and orange-skinned figure in a nice suit. Hey, Titan’s here. Not as a delegate, of course,
“Were we addressing the wrong people? I spoke with the political leaders of Earth when you are all the slaves of those aberrations who threaten your lives every day because of the powers they stole from the universe?” That outburst from this guy also brought murmurs among the UN delegates, many of whom had direct lines to their leaders in a situation like this. This alien knew a thing or two about playing us, or maybe people just weren’t that different across the universe. The fact that this guy’s such a supreme asshole seems to prove it.
That’s when a Black delegate stood up. “You have come here full of yourself and your demands in the manner of someone who holds himself our superior based on your own perception of privilege as more advanced than us. Even your selection of who to speak with betrays your belief not in the equality of peoples but in the superiority of some to decide the fate of others. This body was created to give all of us a say in the affairs of our world. Humanity, in its entirety, deserves to know why you have come to us.”
“Fine! Fine,” he declared. Ooh, arrogance and anger were easy to detect in these Grau, too. “Just give me a few seconds.” He, because I keep slipping into it mentally, turned his back and gestured to one of his underlings who had feathers around its head and carried a small black case. That one brought it over and opened it. Several nearby people strained to see it, most of them looking back and forth at each other and talking as they tried to figure it out. Some reached for guns when the assistant pulled out a device like a gun that glowed on the end, but then it hooked the device up to something. There was a gurgling sound, and then a bunch of smoke rose into the air. The Grau in charge turned back to face me, giving me the barest glimpse of some sort of glass tube back there.
The Grau delegate opened his mouth… and started coughing. He stopped after a moment and shook his head, then began speaking, the French accent fading away. “Alright, the truth is, y’all got to stop all the crazy shit up in here! You got gods doing crazy shit, changing timelines. Time travel on top of that, and we don’t even know what to keep track of out there. You done raided other planets, and sometimes we catch y’all hiding in ships or space stations like pests. People are out here afraid they’re going to have a human infestation. How many holes in the universe do you have on this one planet alone? You know how many we have in the entire Consortium? None, because we span twenty solar systems and we got there by not fucking with the fabric of the universe. You broke the universe. You have permanent holes, and that didn’t teach y’all anything?! There are people who throw black holes around and one of y’all ate a star. Who eats a damn star?”
…Ok, I expected this whole thing to play out differently. I got a lot of stares from a lot of people, too. I might have had something to do with some of those situations. But in fairness, there might have been other people doing stuff like that.
“Setting aside that you broke existence… you broke it, that’s just how it is now. None of us know how to fix it so get used to it. But there are worse things out there than Trobogorians. We know you encountered one of them already, but the more times you break reality, the more you let in powerful monsters that wanna fuck shit up even further. We’re here because you are like children, and we’re not really your parents, but you’re screaming and breaking things and that’s bad. And now imagine if you keep it up and your planet gets invaded by unstoppable monsters you can’t contain or kill, beings from outside all context of existence with their own warped morality. That’s happened before.”
Well that’s just passive aggressive there. Or maybe not so passive.
The Grau calmed down some. “Look, I know I came here throwing stuff around, but that’s just who we are. We don’t know who you are, except you’re messing everything up, being assholes, and one of y’all tried to blow some of us up. Now, ma’am, I thank you for saving those people, but we all know you’re going to use their lives as a bargaining chip. I can’t think that’s nice. I just can’t.”
“You’re right,” I said, holding up the crystal ball. I handed the crystal ball to Medusa. “Here you go. I’m no longer holding this bargaining chip. Let me know when you want them restored to their proper size.”
I turned and portaled out, leaving the person they wanted for attempted assassination in charge of the orb. She knew I was going to do this ahead of time, and I was ready to intervene if necessary. Until then, I was seeing to the size-shifter gizmo. Oh yeah, I had that thing ready to go and everything. I built a command console in the base, connected the cooling hose, and had the power hooked up. Venus called to join me so I portaled her in as well. “What’s on the menu?” she asked. She looked around. We were on an asteroid with a thick, clear crystal wall that gave us a view of outer space.
I pointed to a very small copy of myself nearby. “Figured I’d restore the fun-size version of me.”
“Cool. I like the proportions,” my wife said. Unlike the body at the UN, I was here outside of my armor. It was really thick crystal in the asteroid. She walked up behind me and wrapped her arms around me. Mmm, she felt so strong in her power armor. And, of course, she touched my belly. I didn’t mind it so much this time. “I don’t mind your other proportions.”
I fired up the size-changer. The lights lit up in a sequence for some reason. “So the weird thing about this is it isn’t computerized. No connection. Mechanical and chemical, though.”
Since Isabella hadn’t seen it hooked up, she didn’t notice the unusual whine. And this was just it being on like back at the ship.
“Oh, does this go to anything?” Venus asked, picking up this weird crystal I’d left laying around. It was the one that had been given to me by Torian as a favor to be repaid later. Lots of those debts accumulating lately. Venus grabbed the crystal and slotted it in near the base. The device went back to normal and instead, I got that other body restored. No giant explosion that would have grievously wounded someone or something. Torian never actually told me what the crystal was for, so I left it all over the place in case I needed it, and I guess this was the time. I imagined explosions occurring if it hadn’t been there, but I don’t know for certain.
“Hey, babe, the aliens want their fleet back,” Medusa radioed in.
“I’m ready,” I responded.
“Wait… ok, first they’re looking to see if there’s a hole or opening in this orb they’re in. Orb sounds too ominous, doesn’t it?”
“I think so, yeah,” I told her.
“Do you know anyone who builds ships in bottles?” she asked.
“Why would that matter? They’re spaceships, they can just fly out if there’s a hole.”
“Yeah, and they’re pretty sure there’s no hole. They said they’re just going to put it where it needs to go and then break it.”
“I’ll handle that, don’t worry,” I told her.
I portaled the orb away from her and into my hand. “Everyone in there, I’m about to start resizing you, so when you notice you’re growing, you all need to pick a different direction and fly that way so you don’t crash into each other, ok?” Then I portaled a little typewriter hammer in, because some guy once invented hammers for people to type with, and I broke it. All the little ships tried to flee instead, but I dumped them off past the moon. There, I embiggened them!
They followed my advice. They all picked directions and flew.
There were some crashes. 99% of the fleet made it out just fine. Meanwhile, Venus was on comms with me, “If you want to come back, this guy’s really pretty chill once he smokes whatever he smoke. He let some of the rest of us try it. One of their aides agreed to drop everything against Maia and I, and we were all invited to a celebration tonight if you want to go. Maybe you shouldn’t be partying, though.”
I turned to Maia and told her the good news and the party news. Then I turned to the more buff, taller body. And it said, “Oh fuck yeah, let’s do it again!”
One party worthy of an Electric Callboy song later, I can report that it’s the quilled Grau are males and feathered Grau are females. I tested both at the same time just to be sure, one of whom was the fangirl who knew me from the space opera.
New Normal 3
I hate being nice. I could have fixed so many problems by now just jumping in and not giving a shit about consequences. Maybe paint an M on my head and call myself Majin Gecko, then whine and blow myself up when I remember I like getting laid and having feelings. Then maybe beat up some kids who point out my references are as dated as the beginning of Naruto was to the end.
Enough being a cranky old woman. I was a cranky pregnant bitch who had to deal with a bunch of shitbags stuffed into suits. Like Senator Robson, a replacement for one of the many people I culled when I had the power to make life just blink out. He’s not as bad as the guy he replaced, but that’s a low bar. He got me a place on a diplomatic shuttle to the alien fleet. Sam, Holly, and the interns were excited, with Sam squeezing her eyes shut. She doesn’t like flying, and the lack of windows in this cricket-shaped vessel didn’t soothe her any. The interns and Holly strained looking for somewhere to watch the ascent into space from, but the aliens didn’t put windows in their spacecraft for some reason.
I played the theme to Star Trek: The Next Generation to calm us all down. Meanwhile, a blue woman with cloudy skin you could see into just a little bit walked along and set out drinks and little bags of snacks. I popped off my helmet long enough to try the small carbonated liquid and the bag of some small starchy snack covered in tiny mineral crystals. As far as potentially-dangerious alien foods go, they were fine. They just weren’t enough. When no one was looking, I portaled in a fresh foot long corndog and a plate with some fun sauces like marinara, ranch, yum yum sauce, and mustard. Mmm.
One of the aliens looked at me like I did something weird, like eat them all at once. I hadn’t even finished by the time a calming noise reverberated through the vessel. “Welcome to the diplomatic battleship Odo, where peace happens or else.”
“That’s calming,” Sam muttered, opening her eyes at last. She leaned against me. “You better get rid of that.”
I winked at her and slid the remaining half-foot of wiener and breading down my throat, pulling the stick back out without the meat. I tossed the stick and plate through a small portal to the auto-kitchen. I added some robot arms to the kitchen. They’re very handy, and they double as an anti-intrusion measure.
As the restraints released, Sam and I both groaned on standing up. She had her dislike of flying and I had a belly that was messing with me even though the armor made sure I wasn’t sick. Uh, I swear my nanites are working overtime in my aching ankles. Who am I kidding? I think I graduated to cankles. I just wanted to be pretty and have the child I always wanted with Medusa and Venus, and now it’s made me a hungry horror with fucked-up hormones and time travel shit where I have to do it to complete loops.
I sniffled. Sam patted me on the helmet. “Aww, you crying again?”
The others were all filing off, leaving Holly, Sam, and I behind along with the blue alien woman who stepped up. “I must ask you to leave all of your weapons behind on the transport pod.”
“You let us get all the way up here with weapons?” Holly faked a gasp. “What if we need to defend ourselves against others you let come with guns?”
The alien didn’t catch the sarcasm. When she spoke, her mouth didn’t match the words we heard either. “We are aware of cultural differences regarding personal armament or the medical necessity of power armor for some species, but at this point you must comply with the ship captain’s non-aggression policies. For the good of everyone, except the ones who are dead.”
“Weird way to phrase it,” Sam said. “Hey, what’s your species called?”
“I don’t have a species,” she answered. “The Consortium created me to serve them.” I couldn’t read her expression to see if she was enthusiastic about that. She gestured with a slow wave. “Please disarm, or you will not see your loved one. We detect several weapons, primitive and otherwise.”
“I’m getting tired of putting this thing just to take it back off again,” Sam muttered. She and Holly looked to me.
I sighed and began pulling off the gauntlets of my power armor. “We’re being nice.” That got a triumphant hmph from the servant, so I figured she supported her masters after all. The energy sheathes don’t function without them. I set down the exploding knives as well. I didn’t keep a lot of extra weapons on me, and that meant I wasn’t that much disarmed. And they didn’t seem to understand my eyes had lasers built in. Hell, I barely remember I kept some other abilities when I gave away my god-like powers. Meanwhile, the girls had to get rid of shoe knives and so on. After a few minutes of that, they all let us go in.
Some of the Grau were waiting for us, a designation I use for lack of a better idea what to call them. They’re the main species in any position of power in the Consortium of Grau, so that’s what I call them. We got right out of this transport pod where the rest of the delegation was finished going through a customs check involving a scanner arch and a pair of bushes with eye stalks. I spotted that one silver-haired agent again having made his way through it. I know he noticed me, but a group of Grau were waiting for us.
“Greetings, Psychopomp Gecko. You can travel with us to the prison ship,” one of the Grau said. He was dressed in the nice, clean uniform. Two more behind him had darker outfits with clear armor padding. With them was a tripedal reptilian with these little flaps that moves on his head, who was paying close attention to a pale alien that looked like a giant maggot with eight little arms all tied up in cuffs. That thing had a metal disc covering what would be the chest area.
“This is a prisoner transport, not a tour,” the reptilian said. He pointed at my belly. “I do not need a pregnant mammalian on my prison ship.” Unlike the French accent of the Grau and their servant, this guy had a Spanish accent, complete with sounding like he had a lisp on some words.
“This is a matter of diplomacy. You do your job as you are paid to,” the Grau who was in charge told me, stroking his quills. I’m just assuming when I use “his” here. For all I know, none of these things even have different sexes. Or they have twelve. But the reptilian dude backed down and we got back on the transport pod with all of our weapons hidden on it. The weird maggot prisoner actually snuck away one of the boot knives. I winked at it, then went back to not paying attention to anything. Hey, a prisoner escape could be handy to me.
“So, it’s your ship?” I asked the reptilian.
“I am Skarzu, Commander of the Lethac, my ship. My living ship. A dedicated ship for prisoners so they are not kept with the soft ones who talk.”
And the grand prize for this test of blather and patience? Holly, Sam, and I finally got escorted down a hallway past solid doors with small windows for food until the Grau stopped and indicated a door. I stepped up and tested it with a shave and a haircut knock. I received two bits in return. “Boopsie?”
“Jesus, Gecko, you’re here?”
“I’m here, I’m queer, get over it,” I responded.
“We’ve been so sad without you,” Holly told her.
“Yeah, and none of these aliens are fuckable,” Sam said. Holly and I nodded along while Medusa laughed.
“I came to see what’s going on. I heard they’re looking for your sister, too. I guess they’re all pretty sure the person looks like you,” I mentioned.
“Well, I didn’t. I don’t know what’s going on, unless this is someone who doesn’t like me handing me over as a scapegoat. I walked over to the food slot and reached a hand through.
The Grau guards stepped forward. “Hands away from the prisoner!”
I rolled my eye, the other one slipped into Medusa’s palm. The suit provided me a holographic copy to fool these guys. I put my hands up. “Easy, just trying to touch her again for the first time in I don’t know when.”
The ship jolted. “What was that?” Sam asked.
Holly steadied herself on a wall. “Why did this thing do that? Shouldn’t the thing creating artificial gravity keep us from experiencing that?”
“What?” I asked, looking at her.
She shrugged. “I went to college, remember?”
“No!” I declared. Another jolt.
The guards looked at us, and one ran off. The other called out, “Stay here. Don’t touch anything!” then ran off.
A door nearby slid open and curly mess of tendrils grabbed the guard, pulling him in. Another door opened as well and some jiggly pink thing crab-walked out quickly, heading down the corridor. I looked to Medusa’s. No such luck. “Point the eye at the door, Maia.”
“Ok!” she called out. “Pointing!”
I created two portals back to back. Medusa stepped through one on the inside of her door and stepped out outside of the door. She jumped into a hug and asked, “I love you. What did you do?”
“Nothing this time, I think.” Alarms went off. They sounded a lot like human alarms. Makes me glad that the sound some other species uses for an alarm wasn’t the sound of, like, sex noises. “Prisoner escape! Harder daddy, harder, harder! All hands to battle stations. Pull my hair!”
I reached out and… did not see the fleet. The satellites around Earth no longer showed it present. Instead, it showed the massive maggot thing and the ship we were on. It rumbled all around us. “Lethac crew and prisoners. I, Prowbst the Grand, have broken free and altered the core of this ship to power my size-shifting technology to its full potential. I have stolen the rest of the Grau fleet and will hold them hostage. I will free all prisoners, who have a chance to serve me and go free. Together, we will take revenge on those who would lock us away.”
“Alright, let’s get out of here,” I said. “Huddle up, team!” Holly, Sam, and Medusa all joined the huddle.
“How do we get out of here?” Sam asked.
“Ready, break!” I clapped my hands together and stood up. The four of us were back in my basement.
“That was easy. We’re getting good at this,” Holly noted. She was shut up by Maia grabbing her and kissing. Sam too. Maia nearly knocked me down when it was my turn.
Of course, I got an incoming message on the public line from Senator Robson, the guy who did the favor of speaking up and ask for me to go on that little journey. Medusa popped my eye back into its socket while I reluctantly answered that.
After the first five straight seconds of screaming cut out, there was just that old guy yelling, “Ah, save me, save me, save me!”
“You probably should save them all,” Medusa said with a groan. “I hate saying it as much as you hate hearing it.”
“Fuck those guys,” Sam said. “Those French aliens were stuck up.”
“Yeah, but you think maybe that big worm is going to be a jerk?” Holly wondered.
I didn’t have an answer to that question until about an hour later, when the alarms started. Of course it was in the middle of fun time. “Pull my hair!” I yelled at Maia.
“Wait, you hear something?” she asked.
The computer switched from playing Fatal Attraction by Midnight Danger to the sound of that giant maggot. “People of this planet. I am your new ruler. All who disobey will be shrunk to the size of a small creature and squashed! Mwahaha!”
“Fuck!” I yelled, lowering my head where I could look back at my knees on the bedspread.
To my surprise, Maia reached her fingers into my hair and gave it a tug. The world could wait.
New Normal 2
Maia, aka Medusa, has been arrested by someone in connection to an attempted bombing on the U.S. Capitol when an alien envoy was present. There are dozens of different ways she could have been framed. I don’t know why the aliens are here, but they’ve got a fleet parked in orbit and I think we all want to avoid yet another alien war. It’s getting old at this point, and there are more aliens than there are people on Earth, so the numbers are against us.
Sam and Holly, other girlfriends of mine, took the news well. Sam pulled out her bronze knuckles and Holly grabbed a morning star off the wall. I held up my hands. “Let’s not go off half-cocked here.”
“Really?” Sam asked.
“Yeah, I’m still putting together armor. Also, I don’t know who actually has her right now. I figured I’d try diplomatic channels. First thing’s first, I’m trying to talk to Isabella.” I thought Venus would be getting back to me in no time, so but she told me she needed to talk later. Meanwhile, I’ve got whole villainous base mobilizing. “Creating clones, assembling nanomachines, and manufacturing drones, too. But mainly, I’m trying to get the armor right.”
Sam patted my shoulder. “Baby, you don’t need armor. You’re not fighting in person.” She reached out and touched my belly. Ever since I got this damn belly, people just touch it without asking. Holly set the morning star down and reached out to rub my belly, too.
“I am the most dangerous person on Earth. I’ve got a loaded pregger hole and I’m not afraid to use it!” I declared. I got a ring back. My eye HUD told me I had a call incoming. “I gotta take this, it’s Venus.” I backed away to try and escape their hands. I turned and headed downstairs to my basement lair. “Isabella, my baby daddy, what’s the situation?”
“I am at the Master Academy. I cannot believe I have to hide here. Alright, Maia, right; they think it might have been me instead and they want me arrested by the government and turned over to them. I think that means it’s the aliens who have her.”
“Any idea what they are? They don’t look like Fluidics or Trobogorians. Or Cercopagus Lysis. Or those guys with the space opera-”
“I don’t recognize them either, but they call themselves the Consortium of Grau. That may not be their species. This is all my fault.” I had never seen Venus so uncertain of herself as she’s been since we resolved the issue where she stole godlike power from me and tried to fix the world.
“Did you blow up the capitol? I mean, you know I’m not snitching,” I said.
“No,” she said.
“Then it’s not your fault. Duh.”
“They’re here because of what I did. They detected it through fancy high tech alien whatchamacallits and came to make sure Earth wasn’t going to fuck everything up. That I wasn’t going to fuck everything up.”
“You’re not, so there. Issue resolved. Moving on,” I said. She stayed quiet. I sighed. “Ugh… ok… as much as I don’t get rehabilitation, you’re generally a force for good. You even… ya know… me. And I did a lot worse than you ever did. I’m proof that not only are you not terrible and the worst person in the world, but that people can change for the better. And it was thanks to you. Oh my god, kid! Your baby won’t get off my damn bladder.”
She laughed. “Ok, the Grau took her up to a ship, but you can talk to them at the Capitol. They’ve landed delegations in major nations’ capitols around the world. That’s if you want to talk. I’m reaching out to the Exemplars for when that fails and we have to beat my sis out of them. I think they have a spaceship in case of complications.”
“Smart. I’ll talk since the aliens don’t want me dead as far as I know. Plus I have that bit of space celebrity from that opera. I doubt I’ll get anywhere, but maybe I can arrange a visit so we can pin down her location.”
“You might need to put a tracker on us,” Isabella suggested. “Something other people can’t track like a phone.”
“Funny how I’m the violent option on Earth, and the diplomat to the stars,” I mentioned in parting.
Sam and Holly insisted on coming with me, so we had to get a babysitter for Qiang. I trust Qiang… within reason. She’s getting up there. The stuff with the altered reality interrupted her latest birthday party, but she’s getting to the age where I can tell she doesn’t want to spend time with me and might even be embarrassed by me. I guess that goes double now that I’m puttering around all aching, fat, and gassy. We figured she wouldn’t need a sitter for long. For the sake of the sitter, I hoped she was prepared for a challenge.
The pair even donned a pair of costumes. I saw them when gathering up my gear at the store and prepping the Flyer in case I needed it for a diplomatic mission-turned-fight with aliens. Scattered around were boxes, containers, a few drones, and snacks. Lots of snacks. Snacks were absolutely essential. I’d already gone through half a bag of Dove chocolate and a package of smoked gouda pretzel sticks by the time my other girlfriends showed up. And also a few pickles. Some nutella. I ordered a Hawaiian pizza because I wasn’t sure how long they would take and it actually sounded delicious to me right now.
Sam wore a shiny red corset, white jacket with red studs over that, and pants trimmed in white. She protected the short mohawk she was going for with a red armored helmet and tinted white visor. She had on reinforced biker boots. Holly’s outfit was looser, with a shorter maxi skirt over the pants that had red leopard print spots in places. The back of her top turned into a hood with stiff supports to hold it up or retract it when she needed to. And her shoes were practical as well; modified Under Armor Ubers that The outfits looked like they were all about fashion because of the subtlety of the armoring and some of the gadgetry built into it, like electric stun pads in the gloves, hidden boot knives, and radios.
Sam was Rose Red and Holly was Snow White.
“Wow,” I said, seeing them in that in person rather than memory.
“Yeah. We liked the costumes from memory,” Holly said, twirling and making skirt go spinny.
Sam walked over, working those lovely curves. She put a hand on my chubby mommy belly, because of course she did. “You’re just wearing this outfit?”
I was in a loose boho skirt and tank top. I pointed behind me to the small treaded vehicle the size of a small car headed up the ramp from the extensive underground base under my store. “I got more clothes in there.” It settled in next to where some body doubles of me were seated on chairs. Unlike me, these weren’t pregnant.
“Good, you’re not going into a fight yourself,” Sam said. She took my hand. Holly took the other one. A moment later, we appeared in my portal lair. When I got my hands on wormhole technology, I exploited it to create a base that combined pieces of various dimensions and locations within the universe. We appeared in a cave with air portaled in from over a section of ocean higher than the tallest ships and lower than any plane that would be traveling that far from civilization. I activated a giant monitor and a hologram station to give me a complete view of the alien fleet over Earth.
I had a moment of viciousness. “I could just… wipe them all out. Every single one. Crack them in half, douse them in the heart of a star, suck them all into black holes, vent atmosphere, flood them with deadly creatures. Drowning, electrocution, throwing a planet at them. I am death incarnate… except I need Maia and I don’t know where she is. And if I kill them, maybe they send another fleet. Or they send someone with the ability to negate wormhole technology. Or they just destroy Earth from afar before we even realize we’re under attack, doing to us what I do to them.”
Sam squeezed my hand. Holly booped my nose. “Boop. Why so serious?”
I shook my head. “Heh. Guess it’s a good thing I had so many mental problems before. I was mad without power, so I already know to be careful. Ok, enough with the boring-ass introspection. Everyone ready to go deep into Congress’s tightwad?”
They nodded. A door opened in front of us, with me humming the Twilight Zone theme. We stepped through and out into Congress near to various people in suits. I tapped one of them on the shoulder. “’Scuse me, I need to see an alien.”
“Who the hell are you?!” asked a startled man somewhere around his thirties with a bit too much forehead and chin.
“I am the Psychopomp and I request a meeting with the envoys. Take me to them.”
“You look like some fat woman with two cosplay chi- oh my God,” he backed away when I warped my body away and replaced it with a spare body wearing a set of my armor. I had armor for myself, but it looked better without the rounded belly. Someone ran up, Capitol Police. Holly and Sam were ready, but the guy I’d scared held up his hand. “Officer, this group needs to be shown to the alien envoys. Take them there immediately.”
The officer took his hand off the very large gun and held them up to show he wasn’t going to do anything, then waved us toward him. “Sorry, right away.”
We walked through what they call the halls of power. There, the slimiest and most craven of power-grubbers oozed around looking for ways to collect checks and prestige without doing anything. And that’s after I’d killed all the malicious ones through accidents when I was a god. Finally, we were shown through a cordon of guards, including aliens in power suits that hid everything but their body shape and number of limbs. To play nice, I stepped back out with my real body and my sore cankles to look less threatening.
“This is cool!” Holly said.
“It’s lame,” Sam countered.
“I could really go for Korean fried chicken,” I said.
The cop presented us to some guy in a suit, who presented us to a room with a big table where Americans in suits sat with teal aliens who had lion-lake manes made of quills or feathers depending on the alien. “Psychopomp Gecko, and guests.”
“Thank you,” I said to the cop. I handed him a fiver. “Tell you what, go buy yourself some really cheap love.”
He stepped away, and my group stepped up to the table where some confused Senators, ambassadors, and aliens all stood up at my presence. One of the feathered ones turned to me and said in French-accented English. “You are the opera star. This is an uncommon delight.”
“Hon, hon, hon, now you send celebrities?” a petite quilled alien asked, directing the question to the politicians.
“I am not here as a celebrity, though I will sign autographs after the meeting,” I announced. Holly pulled a black marker out of her utility belt for emphasis. “I am here because you have arrested my wife under suspicion of trying to blow you all up and would like to negotiate for her release.”
In one back corner, I saw a silver-haired agent in a much cheaper suit whispering into the ear of a man from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. The small alien gestured to another in its group. This one was larger, and had a couple of rings gathering up quills on opposite sides of its face. “That is not possible. What she did was a violation of the sanctions of safe harbor and diplomacy of the Consortium.”
“Let me visit her then,” I said.
The Senator from the SSCI spoke up, “We would consider it a personal favor of goodwill if you honored the request of Psychopomp Gecko to see her wife.” I glanced at him and nodded my appreciation. That’s Torian and now this guy I’m going to owe favors to.
“You have a child from the prisoner?” asked the alien who recognized me from the space opera I’d been in a little bit. That feathered alien reached out across the table for my belly, then actually climbed across it to place her hand on my belly. Holly and Sam both snickered.
I sighed. “Yeah. And if you let me up to see her, I’ll let anyone in the room who wants to touch my belly do so, on top of the good will incentive.”
I’ve never had so many hands on my stomach. “It is agreed!” the quilled alien with the slight build declared. “We will provide you with what you Earthlings call a conjugal visit, eh?”
“That’s not,” the one Senator who helped me out started to say.
I held up a hand. “Speak for yourself. I fully intend to get up there and conjugate her brains out.”
“We will have you on the next diplomatic shuttle,” the petite envoy declared. Meanwhile, the one who recognized me pulled out a plush doll of me for an autograph.
New Normal 1
Welcome back, dear readers. After the restoration of reality, there were loose ends to clear up. As much as I liked having a cult, I had to get them to close up shop. I saved some commemorative merchandise from it for myself, but I don’t want these guys selling the worship of me now that I’m back down to normal. From what I gathered, the memories of the other world changed people a bit. Lots of introspection. Not so much with my family, since they knew what happened. Medusa and Venus also took a lot of time to get reacquainted with their parents and to help Venus deal with her mental issues. She’s taking her failure as a goddess hard, even after I reassured her she didn’t even have to drown everyone on Earth.
And without the god-like power, I’ve had to get used to gravity and biology again. Science sucks. Morning sickness caught up to me and I’m showing my preggerness. I’m fat with little Alexander and obsessed with dipping tacos in ranch with a side of chocolate chip cookies. Cooked garlic in chow mein. Carrots in Cool Whip. I feel like the floor shakes whenever I walk into the kitchen. I’m fat and gassy and I look terrible. And I can’t stop crying!
“How do you feel, babe?” Sam asked cautiously, watching me eat strawberry jam out of the jar while watching an episode of Farscape on TV. I sniffled and wiped my face with a napkin. “I’m great. This is a funny episode. Crackers don’t matter!”
On screen, a Floridian astronaut was beating up aliens. An alien in leather bondage gear and a Hawaiian shirt suggested he murder one of them and have pizza with margarita shooters. Ugh, I can’t have alcohol. I never felt more like drinking than now.
“You going to get around any?” she asked.
I sniffed. “I’m a blob. An ugly, ugly blob.”
“You’re beautiful, you would just be more beautiful if you had a shower and stopped eating everything,’ Sam said. She reached out to rub my belly. “Here, let me help you up.” She helped me get to my fat feet with my fat ankles and fat calves and helped walk me into the bathroom. I went for a bath in the tub I’d designed to be big enough to let me lay down. I floated there, singing whale songs to match how I felt.
“Hon, I left a dress out here for you!” Sam said. “You’re a beautiful, beautiful butterfly!”
“I just farted and it smelled like cheap salisbury steaks! I haven’t had those in a month,” I answered. Aside from that, I enjoyed the hot water relaxing my skin. I could have fallen asleep, but it was one in the afternoon.
My relaxation was ruined by Holly shouting through the door. “Hey hot chunk, your sister wives are fighting a giant turkey!”
“Thank you, Holly!” I did not feel like thanking her. I think she calls me hot chunk for the angry sex. Except lately, it’s been hangry sex. There was mixed reception to me keeping a spicy turkey sandwich on the nightstand while we fucked. I groaned and pulled myself out of the water.
I wasn’t impressed. It was a turkey. Venus’s head came up to its shoulder. It breathed flames that nearly engulfed my depressed baby daddy-momma. Father of my kid, without sperm or penis being involved. I reached out my consciousness. When I returned things to normal, I also gave myself back all of my implants and resources I had in the past. That includes a base with dimensional portal technology, swarms of nanites, and the ability to connect to both remotely.
“Need a hand?” I asked Venus.
She sighed in her power armor’s earpiece. “Yeah, if you don’t think I’m chicken.”
“Assisting you would be a poultry challenge,” I said. I created a portal and sent out a mass of nanites that fluttered through the air like a flight of butterflies. The turkey turned and flamebroiled some of them, which was smart of it. Due to their smaller surface area, nanotech is susceptible to temperature extremes. I had more metal than it had fire; they formed into a hand that wrapped around the turkey and pulled it into the portal. I opened a portal to a cave deep underground with a bit of air and dumped the turkey there until I could see what the heroes want done with it.
“Thanks dear,” Venus said. “We need a good codename for when you’re all heroic like this. What did you do with it?”
I explained to her. I avoided exasperation over her calling me a hero. I’m not a hero. “And now I’m running back into the moral conundrum of what to do with it. Either turn it over to an immoral, corrupt justice system, or send it into an unaccountable system of secret prisons. Or just kill the thing, I guess.”
Everything seemed fine. We’re just moving toward a new normal after the recent fuckery. Like, now that I’m subject to biology. “Anyway, I need to go see this doctor in town about my coochie passenger.”
“Ew. Fine, go make sure our baby’s going to be fine.”
I hung up. Sam was going to go pick up Qiang, while Holly accompanied me to the obstetrician. She was down to help me with all the extra paperwork of getting five months pregnant without having seen a doctor yet. Since it’s the town of Radium, the older guy just sighed, looked at my cybernetic eyes, and said, “This is superhero-related, isn’t it?”
I shrugged. “Well, a hero knocked me up. And then I didn’t have to deal with any health matters for other reasons having to do with power and all.”
“Alright. Let’s open up the hood and take a look. Why don’t you tell me about your diet?”
“This is going to be interesting,” Holly said, holding my hand. I wasn’t in any danger, I just wanted to hold her hand. Her skin is soft.
Everything’s fine. I’m just a fat, hormonal woman forming a human up my vajay-jay.
Of course, just as things are getting into some sort of normal rhythm, that’s when the aliens appeared. Huge swarm of ships covered the sky, that whole deal. I didn’t get a call about it. Elsewhere, some weird multi-limbed thing out of Lovecraft’s wet dreams. Also, somebody with superpowers tried to blow up Capital building. All shit that nobody called me about or attacked me over.
I even got to talk it over with the god squad on game night. I used portal tech to get there this time. Baron Samedi greeted me, “Gecko, you’re glowing!”
“It’s about time,” said voice both familiar to me and unfamiliar to the setting. The Torian, an evil version of the time hero The Mobian, more likely to use time travel for his own benefit.
“Hello Mobian. Looking to use up one of your extra lives?” I grunted. Folks wouldn’t describe someone with a big belly like mine as threatening. “Or just here to check on the aftermath of everything?”
“The latter,” the old man said. Considering he was like hundreds of years old, he looked good for his age.
Tom Waits stood up and pulled out a chair for me. Argu the Observer, an alien god, scooted its chair away from Torian. I thanked Tom and took a seat with a graceful “Ugh. This pregnancy shit…”
“Now you know why I don’t like being a woman,” Torian said. “You really got rid of the power this time.”
“Yeah,” I said. “I’m regretting that decision already. What’s the game tonight? I’ve had to miss recently for reasons.”
“We know!” Argu argued. “My people found out what’s going on in this planet and it alarmed them.”
“Oh yeah?” I asked.
Samedi nodded gravely while Tom Waits dropped the game Pandemic on the table. I groaned from the game choice. Samedi ignored it and filled me in, “Argu was telling us how Earth is like a cosmic dumping ground for discarded energies and technology that promote superpowers.”
Torian scoffed. “Different civilizations tell different stories for why humans get so many superpowers, and they’re all lies. None of them know. They pick on Earth because they can and because they don’t see it as an equal and they don’t like superpowers let humans fight back. You called out their ineffectual peacekeepers and made friends with their former slaves.”
Argu folded some of its starfish body in on itself. “You threatened all of reality.”
“I put it back together,” I said.
“The aliens are concerned, and the humans must tread carefully,” the Baron added.
I shrugged. “They’ll call me if they need me.”
We played Pandemic, aiming to stop a disease I nicknamed Disco Fever. In the end, Disco Fever overran the planet and spelled the doom of humanity. “Maybe they need doctors more than gods,” I noted.
Torian stopped me. “I need to warn you about something, because I know if I do, you will survive and can help me in my future. And I have some fondness for this planet that you are a lethal guardian of. Also, you’re going to kill Mobian at some point and bring him closer to being me.”
“Huh. Sounds like the right calculus,” I mentioned. He might have some game in mind, or he might just be that selfish. I yawned and looked at the old geezer. He was in Victorian casual, I’d say. A nice embroidered vest, slacks, pinstripe shirt. He normally went with a suit jacket and top hat, but this time he had on a tweed cap. “What’s up?”
He held up a color-shifting crystal attached to a small chunk of porous rock. “You’re going to need this. You’ll figure out when, and you could make it without it, but it would cost you time and someone important to you. This will save her life.” He held it out for me.
I took the crystal, which felt warm in my hands. The rock was room temperature, but the crystal felt like it generated its own heat. I looked back to the Torian. It was a biological-crystalline growth, a fact that popped into my head somehow. Likely a residual memory of omniscience. It’s not like I lost all the knowledge I’d actively looked for or browsed out of boredom. I still know “Fine. Deal, I guess, unless I find out something later.”
I wiped my palm on my dress and reached out to shake on it. Torian removed his cap and kissed the back of my hand. “Charmed to have helped you.”
Back at my house, I had a message waiting from Medusa, the version of Venus who didn’t get sucked out of time and who grew to care for me and lose a lot of her uptight, strict adherence to the law in favor of vigilantism and social justice. “Hey, Gecko. I wanted you to hear it from me. I was on security when someone tried to blow up the Capitol with the alien envoy present, and they claim it was me. I guess I should tell you to stay out of this and let justice prevail, but I don’t trust any of this. Clear my name and come get me, please. Try not to hurt too many of them.”
Well, well, well. Looks like some aliens need stabbing with a crystal.
Topsy Turf 6
“Would you call this a tribunal?” I asked Medusa.
“Maybe. I guess. If we had to call it something,” she said. We’d all gathered in the rear of my veterinary clinic, where the mobile slime molds had removed the truth serum and brought us a bunch of tables and chairs. I gave one some cash and sent it on a fast food run, making sure it knew to touch the bags but not the food itself. I think it understood. It nodded like it did.
Spinetingler had turned into a much more normal shape, this time a floating black mass inside a cloak dark enough to look like a hole in reality. Mindgame looked much healthier than when I first captured her for Spinetingler. The non-aggression pact between myself and the other major villain had been forged when I agreed to help reunite them. My homo machina physiology, that I now lack, is highly resistant to mind control. That was important, because Mindgame, as she goes by now, essentially blanks people’s minds and controls their bodies like her own puppets. When I found her, she had control over a whole apartment building. Neither it, nor her, were in the best shape physically.
She caught me looking and winked. “Nice to see they’re feeding you,” I said. “Last time we met in-person, you had missed a few meals.”
“You’re that girl who kidnapped me.” She tapped her temple. “But something’s wrong. You can’t keep me out anymore.”
Spinetingler leaned forward to block her view of me. I nodded appreciatively to him. He nodded back, then whispered something to her.
“Can we get on with this?” Venus asked. “We need to figure out what comes next. No one seems to like my world.”
“If your world is permanent, my life doesn’t go right,” the white and blue-clad speedster said.
“Who are you, again?” Medusa asked.
“Uh, I’m the Cobalt Racer, from the future. I’m Qiang’s husband, so you’re my mother-in-law. Uh, you and Venus both are,” he pointed between the pair of them. “And I guess you too,” he pointed to me. “I came back because of temporal reverberations that were erasing things in my future. When I came back, the past wasn’t right.
Mix N’Max, my old frined, was with us, as was the goddess and Max’s snu-snu buddy, Pestilentia.
Joining the familiar faces were two others, including the representative of the alien machines. It was a flying, coffin-shaped device with a mechanical humanoid torso hanging from it. I hadn’t had time to catch up on where the machines were in this reality, but I’d helped arrange for them to set up a homeland on the inhospitable outer planets of the solar system in the real one. This one had been sent to fight Venus, but I don’t think they trusted sending one of their negotiators. Being less connected now, I can’t just spy and see if Venus left them alone in the solar system or if she fucked around with them.
Torian was the other extra person, and the time traveling old man looked extra cranky. “I need to stop all of this right now. I already heard how this meeting goes. It takes too long, with too many arguments, so I came back to do this right.” He started pointing around, first to Pestilentia and Max, “You two don’t give a shit. In fact, you’re high,” he directed that to Max.
Max chuckled. “I can tell you I’m high, too. Doesn’t take a time machine to know that.”
“I was never sure if he could get high,” Medusa whispered.
I shrugged. “He can if he wants to.”
“That aside, she wants someone hurt,” Torian pointed a finger at Mindgame. At Spinetingler, he explained, “You want someone punished for controlling you like you control others.” Next was Medusa and Venus, “They don’t want their parents to be dead again and that’s a sticking point.” He pointed to me. “You want to go back to the way things were and you’re willing to give up the power and make some changes, but you don’t like that you had sex with your twin sister.” He was right, but she wasn’t my twin when I had sex with her. Now there’s something not everyone gets a chance to say.
That got me some looks from everyone. Torian moved onto the speedster, “You want reality to go back to normal because you hit the jackpot marrying Qiang and you don’t want anything to endanger that future.”
He brushed off his suit jacket and sat down again, then cocked a thumb toward the machine representative. “The two of us don’t want any humans to have that sort of power. That sort of thing is why folks don’t like gods existing, the meddlers.”
“This doesn’t sound like that big of an impasse,” I said.
“I think you should fight each other to figure out who gets to decide how the power gets used,” Torian said.
“That idea is shitty,” Max answered. He pointed toward Venus with a blunt he hadn’t been hiding or anything. “She still has the power.”
Torian had been removing the crystal ball from an inner pocket on his coat that it shouldn’t have fit into. “This will remove and contain the power.” Oh yeah, sure. That’s all it’ll do. “That way it won’t be an unfair fight.”
“Even I can detect that falsehood,” the alien machine said. It examined the device closely, then raised its arms. “I believe I have a solution.” With only that warning, it zapped Venus.
I dove on instinct. Cobalt Racer and Venus were faster, probably fast enough that they could actually see the purple blur pulled out of Venus by the alien machine. I landed hard, feeling the power race through me. I felt incredible, again. For one thing, gravity was once again a suggestion instead of a rule. I stood up, taking in a frozen scene. A trail of light showed Cobalt Racer had pushed the alien machine away and then got tackled by Spinetingler. Torian reached toward the middle of our gathering in vain. Venus dusted herself off, not frozen. I looked to her, cocking my head. “Wait, I got the power.”
“So did I,” my wife said. “I can feel it.”
She was right. I pulled up my omniscience and gave it a go, replaying the scene. I dove before anyone and happened to get in the way. Venus had enough chance to speed up and try to intercept what was going to be pulled out of her body. We both touched it, with Venus diving overhead and me hitting the ground. And we both contained it, becoming roughly equal in power.
“So what’s this mean?” she asked.
“Hon,” I approached, hands raised. Just in case, I sought out the knowledge needed created a copy of the device the machine had used. The clever thing had done an astoundingly quick visual analysis of Torian’s device and quickly recreated it using its own transformable internal structure. No wonder the thing was meant to deal with reality warpers. “I really think it’s time for our honeymoon to be over. That’s all this was, right? I told you one change. You changed the world. It’s time to go home.”
“You sure you don’t want to fight?” Venus asked. “We get up to some fun stuff if we fight.”
“Oh yeah?” I snapped my fingers and we appeared in a dark void. I didn’t unmake reality or anything, I just took us away from everything.
“How’d you do that?” she asked. “I don’t think I can affect you that way.”
“I’ve picked up a few tricks. You’re saying you want to fight?” I had to wonder a bit about that.
She snapped her fingers and part of the darkness opened up like a monitor. One showed me dressed in a black leather costume that had to be terrible to sweat in, catching Venus on a rooftop with a giant stolen diamond in hand. One tussle later and the clothes were off. Another monitor appeared, with me in my armor getting beaten by Venus, who handcuffed me and proceeded to feel me up. More were out there, different versions of ourselves all created when we try to change reality to give each other an edge.
I walked up and wrapped my arms around her. “Feels like you can do anything, so why shouldn’t you? It’s a little tough for me to be the one arguing against it, except maybe people need to save themselves rather than having it saved for them.”
Venus scoffed. “Are you saying you’re more responsible with this power than I am?”
I shook my head. “I’m saying that superheroes aren’t going to save them. As long as people are people, there’ll be a Klan or Nazis or a bunch of creepy British guys thinking trans people are bad. Heroes can fight them and villains can kill them, but people have to change to stop them from being a thing in the first place.” I paused to see if I was getting through to her. The way her eyes teared up, I figured I was getting close. “I’ve been thinking I should find some way to get rid of it.”
Venus stepped in close, shutting down the monitors. “How? You can’t trust the Torian.”
“Of course not. But I want to get the world sorted out real quick. And by that I mean go back to our version of things… mostly. I did say I’d let you change one thing, right?” I held my hand out and created an image of her parents.
Venus nodded, and turned into an intangible, ghostly form that flowed into me. I felt the power, all of it, once again. I also briefly felt the temptation to go back on what I said. Instead, I snapped my fingers and the dark void fell away.
We were back at the shop. My electronics shop, not veterinary clinic. The rest of this whole bunch were all frozen still, but I pushed them all back into their seats and restarted time. They had a moment to finish shouts or try to lunge before their memories updated. “You did it,” Cobalt Racer said, smiling. He had such a nice, genuine smile. He better not hurt Qiang.
I nodded, then let Venus step out of me.
“What about punishment?” Mindgame asked. I waved. She and Spinetingler went back to their abandoned theme park home.
Torian stood up, holding his crystal ball. “You have to give it up!” I whisked him away to his timecraft and sent him off to Betelgeuse a million years ago. While Cobalt Racer was watching all this, I sent him back to the future.
I looked to the machine that had come. It was strong. No much for even half my power. “I’ll give it up. Your people know me.”
“Really?” Max asked “That’s a lot of power to give up. You sure you don’t want me to hold onto it for safekeeping?”
“I’m sure.” I was also sure I had gotten my body to my liking, like being just thick enough in the right places, with hair a mixture of a beautiful red that becomes blond. It made me happy to no longer be a twin of Dame. I also kind of phased out the relationship she had with an alternate body I controlled. The experience in the other reality soured me on that stuff. It didn’t put me off being able to change forms, so of course I took advantage of things in a way I didn’t tell anyone. Of course I left myself a few advantages like flight.
“There we go… a few nice changes… everyone’s got themselves a weird dream to remember the other reality by,” I muttered aloud.
Venus… Isabella, walked a few steps to get her feet under her again. Maia, aka Medusa, walked up and hugged her. Their parents appeared in the yard from the other reality without any gift-wrapped memories of this version. I added, “Some people get a little more to remember things by.”
Medusa and Venus both looked to the resurrected mom and dad and walked over. I raised my fingers for one last snap. “Just one thing left to deal with, I guess.” Two if you count the copies of Torian’s power-extraction machine that appeared in my basement lair.
Energy cannot be created or destroyed.
“I thank you,” the machine said. It shot off into space.
That left my family, and Pestilentia, to head on over to the house for a big reunion with the real Sam and Holly. It took a long time before everyone got to sleep. I couldn’t help smirking to myself as I hugged my pillow.
It was the perfect pillow. It stayed cold when it needed to, would stay worm when it needed to. It couldn’t get dirty or mashed out of place. I might even say it’s a god among pillows.
There, back to normal.
Topsy Turf 4
My actions to rile up Medusa worked wonderfully. She’s pissed, and went public with accusations against former President Asshat. With a little more push, she’ll cross that line, and I have just the push lined up. But I wanted to let that one marinate. Some things can’t be rushed. Asshat hasn’t released a taunting statement yet. He will.
So first, I had an appointment. I remember my old friend Mix N’Max as setting up pop-up pharmacies to serve the disadvantaged, but he got shut down shortly after Venus’s change to reality. It’s one thing to give him those pharmacies as a backstory, but he doesn’t actually have any licensing or degrees. Not letting anyone give people any weird bottle of liquid and telling them it’s medicine is actually one of those things I agree with, so I can’t entirely fault them. The exception is that Max can feed someone a shit sandwich and make it somehow give them perfect health. He’s been working his pharmaceutical magic on the run from the law. Half the job’s done for me. I took the Flyer to Los Angeles, where he’s been staying one step ahead of everything along with the help of Sporea.
I looked her up. Pestilentia was an incredibly-powerful super, on the level of a god, trapped in the Madstone. She held power over fungi, bacteria, and viruses. We eventually came to an understanding when I made her incapable of harming me in exchange for not killing her. That might have been wiped away by Venus changing reality. I put that risk out of mind on my way to see her in this reality, where she’s known as Sporea. She helps Max, she helps regrow forests, and she’s done some work in agriculture. She sounded like a Green before the remains of the gang attempted a massive attack on Empyreal City.
I figured my knowledge of Max would give me some sort of edge over the cops in finding him. Plus, he probably wanted me to find him more than he wanted them to. It’s too bad the villain bars were all wiped out in the Big Change.
When I got close, I tapped into the police band. They didn’t have anything on him. Too busy dealing with some climate protesters. I was going to put in a call and withdraw the cops back to the precinct, but then I realized an easy way to find someone offering illegal medical care. I didn’t even have to tell them to get beat-y on the protesters; they did that on their own.
I watched it all happen from behind the ship’s cloak, scraping social media related to the protest and some of the groups involved, then getting into the Discords. A throwaway account got promoted in a bunch of them, giving a location and a time for “doctor care”. The address wasn’t a doctor’s office. The feds could infiltrate easily, but by the time they get to it, everyone will be gone.
It was a homeless encampment. I set the Flyer to hover over it and checked for any presents, like MREs or anything. The most I could bring to the party was the Flyer’s First Aid kit. I deployed down the trapdoor using the rope and held up the kit. “Hey, where I can drop this off?”
“You a cop?” the guy asked, looking up at the nothing I appeared out of.
I gestured to the power armor I wore. “I’m a supervillain. Heard a friend might be here, but didn’t want to arrive empty-handed.
“Hey Johnny, show this weirdo to Max,” the homeless guy said to a teenager. The young boy nodded and waved me over as he started leading me. We ended up at a pavilion made of tarp and tent that was crowded. I saw it, and then I saw the woman pointing a bow and arrow right at me.
“What are you doing here?” she asked.
“Easy, Sporea. I mean no harm to you. I need to speak with you and your boyfriend. I have some crazy shit to say,” I told her.
“Why should I trust you?” she asked. She looked at my hands. “That’s cute.”
I set it down and kicked it over to her. “If I’d realized what I was walking into, I’d have stopped for a bunch of burgers, first.”
Max stepped out of the pavilion and looked at me. “Hey Gecko!”
“Hey Max… wait, you know it’s me?!” I cocked my head to the side.
“Yeah dude,” he jogged up. “I was hoping you’d know what’s going on.”
We hugged. “I’ll explain. How do you know something’s up?”
Max shrugged. “We took a dose of truth serum, meant to show us the truth. It showed me that the world wasn’t right. It had been changed. My darling Clara isn’t a hero named Sporea. Other villains had been changed and altered. Some people were back from the dead. Things weren’t right. It also said George R. R. Martin’s never going to get off his ass and finish A Song of Ice and Fire.”
I nodded. “It’s true. It’ll probably only get released posthumously. Holy crap, I’m glad you guys figured this shit up.”
“Hey, you got any of those nanomachines of yours?” he asked. I called them out of my armor in a shimmery wave. “Awesome, let’s hurry up before the cops arrive.”
“I got a getaway vehicle for us,” I said.
Now that was easy recruiting. After we saw to a bunch of the homeless and injured protesters, we packed it in and I brought them back to my place. I wish Radium wasn’t so far from everything worth doing. It gave me plenty of time to explain what happened and the changes I know Venus had made to reality. She didn’t change that the base under my store is a good hideaway.
Meanwhile, the stain on humanity of a former President had made a speech instead of laying down in a grave and rotting somewhere. I preferred him dead. He “denied” doing anything to the Exemplars by claiming it was a Deep State conspiracy cooked up by “Slutty Medusa” and that he thinks very fine people should stop what the Exemplars do.
The next part of my plan called for killing him. It wasn’t necessary now that I knew Max had some truth serum, but I would feel a lot better. Besides, “I need to make some. It takes a couple days to cook all the lysergic acid diethylamide for it. A gallon goes into each does of serum.” I groaned and pointed him to the fabricators and nanomachines. “Also, don’t forget there’s fast food not far, just try not to draw too much attention, ok?”
I stopped Pestilentia as she was headed into the base. “Also, you take care. I know we haven’t seen eye to eye, but right now you’re the most powerful person that can fix what’s going on.
So I had to wait long enough for Max to cook plenty of truth serum until, at last, the day arrived. It was like another day after I got Max to my base, but I’m impatient. I was forgetting stuff more and more. The bad times, sure, but also some fun times back in the other reality. When I thought back to my childhood, I was a bitchy cheerleader. I studied veterinary science and engineering in college and developed a Ritalin addiction until my girlfriend helped me out of it. I had time to ponder the changes while building something to aerosolize the serum.
I flew in from Radium, and boy were my arms tired. I spoofed a burner number and sent Medusa a warning that someone was going to assassinate the skidmark on humanity’s underwear of an ex-President. I knew she’d get there quick. I was counting on it. I didn’t even drop down until I saw the Exemplar Flyers pull up and drop a couple squads on the property. Then I joined them, landing in the valet parking section without a rope. I turned to a young valet who fell back and started running down the drive.
“Smart kid, he’s got a future,” I said. I wasn’t cloaked, just my Flyer. I went in. I wanted them to find me. And, as if President Shitstain felt the same about me, I saw a big sign saying he was speaking in the ballroom.
The crowd was anemic. There were few of them, and they looked blood-deprivedly pale. The Ex-President was on stage, arguing with the Exemplars, yelling, “Put this on Twitter! Let everyone see, they can’t do this!”
“Listen, Hitler Two: Electric Boogaloo,” Medusa said, pointing a finger at him. “There’s been a credible threat made about your life, and I should stop it.”
“That’d be me,” I said, raising a hand. A bunch of guns turned on me at once, including one guy in the crowd who tried to pull a concealed peace out from under the folds of his stomach. I grabbed it and kept it pointed down at his abdominal holster. “Nobody move, or someone’s gaining a higher pitch.”
“What?” asked my hostage.
“Shush, thinking isn’t your strong suit,” I told him. I turned to the crowd and checked out all the smartphones up getting video. “Good, glad we’re all gathered here. Max, now, please.”
Max responded from the Flyer radio, “It’s done. It’s dropping really slow.”
“That’s unfortunate,” I said, not letting on that I could see the trio of Exemplar soldiers easing up on me with rifles drawn. One almost got the barrel right up to my head when I ducked under it and dove past him. I stopped low and kicked back at his knee. His friends turned to me and tried to fire on the holographic double of mine that ran for the door. It disappeared after a few steps, but my fist appearing in one’s face appeared and cracked his visor when I sent him to the floor. I grabbed the rifle and smacked another of the tree across the head. Loosing my grip on that gun, I grabbed his and broke it over my knee. By now, the first one I’d kicked recovered and turned to me. I deflected the barrel in time for him to miss and punch a fist-sized hole through the wall and a marble statue of the ex-President that pretended the guy had a Greek hero’s bodytype. I pulled the gun out of that guy’s grip and tossed it over my shoulder before kicking the guy hard enough to cause a crater in the wall nearby.
That trio dealt with, I just had another seven soldiers and Medusa to deal with. She came charging up first, wearing black and yellow power armor. The helmet was fitting for her namesake, with a mask that resembled an angry woman and a trio of metal snakes along each side. I caught a punch of hers, then took a knee to the body. I deflected the next punch and hooked her knee. The snake heads glowed and I ducked under six small ruby lances of coherent energy, having to let her go.
“Nice,” I said, rolling to the side. She was there, nearly kicking me in the head, when I arose. Seeing her helmet, I thought to radio up to Max, “Hey, does this stuff penetrate armor?”
“It can get into anything with air circulation,” he answered.
I dodged one way and a hologram dodged another. Medusa happened to guess right, nearly stomping on my ankle. She was really going after me here. Time to go on the offensive. I overlaid a hologram on myself. She tried to block a punch that didn’t happen when I booted her in the belly. She rolled up to her feet, smacking a metal chair over. She grabbed it, and I remembered a sparring session before the change and before my godhood where she stuck one of those through me.
Above and around us, flesh-colored fog drifted out of the vents. It was then or never.
I directed energy into the gauntlets of the armor, forming a glowing projection of potential energy around the gloves. She raised the chair to shield the left I threw and it was bent and thrown away easily. She rolled into a capoeira kick that caught me upside the helmet and came up, giving me a power armor double axe handle to the chest. She kicked the back of my knee.
“Wait!” I yelled. I raised my left hand slowly to unlock my helmet and pull it off.
“Delilah?” Medusa asked, lowering her guard. She took my right to the helmet, cracking that face mask. I quickly pulled my helmet on and went invisible, sealing the suit to the environment once more before the truth serum could engulf me. I totally wasn’t worried what truths I might see.
I don’t know what I was worried about, other than maybe that Medusa did a lot better against me than I preferred. But then, I’m only human.
“What are you doing?” Medusa asked, coming up to me and putting her hands on my shoulders. “Baby, what is this?” She coughed as the gas seeped in.
“Don’t worry,” I told her. “You’ll see the truth soon enough.”
I sounded like a fucking cult leader or religious terrorist.
“Oh god, I’m a narcissistic sociopath who drifted through life on fortune and accolades handed to me by people invested in the lie that being rich made me special! And I really hate Black people and Jews!” yelled ex-President. “Nobody should listen to. In any room I walk into, I know the least. My election was entirely because I was a racist elected after a Black man!”
Even if I hadn’t gotten it all on video, his fans did as well. I stuck around to get plenty of footage to upload, then helped carry out Medusa, whispering to her, “What is reality? Who are you? Who am I?”
“You’re Delilah Gecko…” she said. “You’re… a reformed villain.”
I heard Max snicker and asked, “Uh, is this channel still open?”
“Yeah,” he answered.
“Stop laughing, you clearly fucked up.”
“I see the truth. Isabella shouldn’t be a goddess. She took the powers from you and she messed up, didn’t she?” Medusa looked back at the guy on the stage. “I can’t believe she brought him back. You know I’m not like that anymore, right?”
“Of course I do,” I told her. “Seems everything but that reformed villain part came through nice and clear.”
“Ass,” Medusa said.
“Also, cool costume,” I complimented her.
“Thanks, I kicked your ass with it,” she said.
Max laughed again.
“That’s two lies, Max. Might have to go back to formula,” I told him.
And that’s how I brought Medusa, Pestilentia, and Max into the anti-Venus conspiracy. I don’t even think I need the others at this point. The squads Medusa took with her are also in on it, but I doubt they’ll help much. And as for the ex-President, his credibility’s shot to hell and back now that he got caught telling the truth about himself. I managed to drive a wedge between Medusa and the devotion to the law that Venus forced on her without killing him and framing it on Medusa, who happened to be present.
Doesn’t mean I’m some sort of former villain at all. I could murder him if I want to. It just didn’t serve a purpose like that.
Sickeningly Sweet 7, Epilogue
“Psycho Gecko killed Captain Lightning,” Lightning’s successor announced to onlookers. The video was all over Youtube. Amazingly, that was all there was to the video. Somehow, the part where he told everyone I am the Unicorn Goddess didn’t record, didn’t upload, and was instantly forgotten by everyone, including the new Captain Lightning.
“Looks like he’s got a lot to learn still,” Sam said, leaning on my shoulder on the couch. Holly had me move my arms so she could slide onto my lap.
“That’s your fault, though,” Holly added.
Sam patted her friend’s head. “She’s right, you know.”
I rolled my eyes. “I know. Just like I know he’s got a good reason to hate me, even though I had a good reason to kill him.”
We were at this martial arts tournament being held at the local high school. The town of Radium had settled on integrating the super and non-super schools together, and one of many events they were trying to build a community spirit was stuff like this. With the rise of the show Cobra Kai, it was pretty popular, and Qiang had some competition out there. We were all trying to avoid this stage mom yelling for her son. They segregated the competition by sex, so Qiang wasn’t going to get a chance to whoop her kid’s ass. Instead, we tried to ignore her.
“You ever find out where the non-binary kids are competing?” Holly asked.
“Ugh. They’re making them play pretend,” I explained. “Don’t even see why they have to segregate this stuff anyway. When someone comes at you in a dark alley, are you going to be able to ask to segregate that fight? No, you kick ’em upside the spleen.”
“Cut their dick off,” Sam said.
“Poke their eyes out with your nails!” Holly added. We made for an intimidating cheering section. Qiang waved, all smiles, while she waited for her next fight. She raised up a box of popcorn. “Anyone want some?”
I reached out with a prehensile tongue to grab a couple pieces off the top.
“Pass one here,” Sam requested. I slipped one to her using the tongue before chowing down on the other piece. Holly giggled and waved at an older guy who’d been staring. The staring didn’t stop when two more women joined our little crowd. Medusa brought the wings, and Venus brought tacos.
“Boopsies,” I acknowledged them.
“Isabella,” Venus said.
“Maia, at least when we’re dressed like regular people,” Medusa said.
Sam laughed. “So you split up your names?”
Medusa smiled at her. “I let her have the first name, because I’m going to be a good big sis.”
Sam shook her head. “How do you get used to that? She’s you!”
I raised a hand. “Ooh!”
“No!” the whole quartet said at once. I hadn’t even made the suggestion.
I turned my nose up. “Fine. It was just an idea of an offer.”
“Don’t you have a big enough harem?” Venus asked.
“I don’t know. Last time I checked, my alleged fiances were having second thoughts,” I noted. Now, omniscience doesn’t mean omniwisdom, and I could tell I’d hit a sore spot. “I’m sorry. We’ll talk about that later. We’re here now and let’s enjoy watching Qiang rearrange some faces.”
“Up next, Kim Hart versus Qiang Lamb,” the announcer announced. We all started cheering. Venus started a wave that Holly continued, dropping popcorn on me. Through odd chance, all of the popcorn fell into my mouth.
I noticed Medusa watching and gave a little, “Ta da! And for my next act of god…”
“Shh, our kid’s beating people up,” Sam said.
“Our daughter,” Holly said. Medusa and Venus repeated it. I shook my head, thinking about how we are most definitely not a normal family. Qiang and Alexander are going to have some interesting lives, but I hope they have it only as interesting as they want.
Meanwhile on the mat, this Kim girl showed a lot of acrobatic skill dodging Qiang, and the confusion Qiang had about it left her open to get a point scored against her. Qiang came back the next go-round and blocked a kick before giving the girl a punch to the chest.
An older woman with a red dye job she hoped looked natural leaned down and tapped me on the shoulder aggressively, “Excuse me. Do you have to do that?”
I turned toward her. “Do what?”
“That!” she waved her hands at my little lesbian cuddle fest, with Sam on one side of me, Holly in my lap, my arm having slipped around Venus, and Medusa holding my hand that ended up on the other side of Venus’s shoulders.
“We’re just here existing,” I said.
“What’s your problem?” Sam asked.
“She doesn’t like lesbians existing,” Holly answered.
“No, you can exist, just don’t do that here,” the woman said.
“Do what?” Medusa asked, giving her a glare.
“You know, touch each other,” the woman said. She had her fingers entwined with her husband’s next to her.
“We can touch in public same as you,” Medusa said, nodding toward the woman’s hand.
“She thinks we’re unnatural though,” I pointed out.
“I didn’t say that,” she said. I snapped my fingers. “You are unnatural! It’s not right that children can see you exist. Little girls are too impressionable and should be thinking about having sex with men!” She held her hand up to her mouth. “I didn’t say that!”
“Sounded like you did, ma’am,” Holly pitched in.
Venus cleared her throat. “Talking about little girls having sex at this sort of event might count as public obscenity or whatever this state has.”
Medusa took the layup. “Maybe I should get my friend the sheriff in here.”
“Hey, you have no right,” the husband chimed in, pointing his finger at us. “We paid good money to come here and think about sex while staring at little girls!”
“Funny how that keeps slipping out,” I said.
Red-faced the couple ended up leaving, muttering to themselves. The wife said something about the doctor giving her the wrong pills.
We finally got to concentrate on my girl’s match. While we’d been chatting with that annoying couple, Qiang and Kim had themselves a longer bout where Kim used her acrobatics skill to dodge, mostly jumping or throwing herself out of the way. Qiang stayed on her and Kim never had time to full regain her feet, so my daughter was able to get her eventually. Qiang wasn’t nearly as winded as Kim was from all that jumping going into the fourth round, and started off feinting a sweep. Kim jumped, but was slower dodging and realizing the feint, so she caught a food to the chest about the time she landed, giving my daughter the win.
We had a little break then before the finals.
“So, we’ve been thinking,” Medusa said. “It’s not legal for you to marry two people in this country.”
I snapped my fingers. “Drat. Guess the wedding’s off, especially because I’m already married to someone else technically.” One of them is even roaming around somewhere. She came from a Bronze Age-level society on a lost continent that came back. We were married for political reasons. As soon as the ceremony was over, I drugged her to keep her in a coma while I stayed with this other woman I was seeing for political reasons. To make it up for her, I eventually brought her out of it with various enhancements, and let her lead the life of an adventurer.
“Delilah Lamb is not legally married to anyone,” Medusa said. “And neither is Psychopomp Gecko, who exists as a legal entity who has been pardoned before. The Unicorn Goddess is in even weirder legal space. You don’t have to pay taxes since you’re the head of your own religion.”
I shrugged. “After everything, y’all still want to marry me? Attaching your name to mine?”
“We’ve done a lot of thinking about it. It was a big consideration, to add to it. That’s why I’m going to sully my bad reputation with it,” Medusa said. “How’d you like my last name? Psychopomp Gecko-”
“And Delilah can take mine or we can hyphenate. Either way, we decided not to do two weddings in one day, so we’re splitting it up and I’m going first,” Venus added.
“She’s become a real brat now that she’s a younger sister,” Sam said.
Holly gave her a playful swat on the shoulder. “Either be nice or marry our girlfriend yourself.”
“By the way,” Venus said, “I appreciate you keeping the omniscience off right now.”
I shrugged. “It’s not as interesting if I spoil the competition.”
Venus just smiled at me. Someone else tapped me on the shoulder. I turned to see a Catholic priest. “Excuse me, Delilah Lamb?” He opened a Bible he had with him that had a cheat sheet tucked within it.
I went to turn to Venus, who was right next to me, and ask her what she did, but I noticed Medusa revealed a veil she put on Venus. Sam was pulling on a tuxedo sweatshirt and a clip-on tie. Holly got off my lap and pulled a small bouquet of flowers out of the bottom of the trick popcorn box. She whipped her phone out and started playing the wedding march at a subdued tone.
“Elaborate deception,” I noted as Sam put a veil on my head.
Qiang came running up, stopping to grab a pillow with a couple rings on it from her backpack.
We left the gym with Holly jumping around tossing popcorn at us. Sam stuck a sticker to my back reading “Just Married.” I refused to let Qiang be outdone. She skipped along with her trophy and a sign behind her reading, “Just kicked ass.”
Of course, that’s when alarms sounded. Worldwide news alerts went up as gigantic spaceships blotted out the sky. “People of Earth,” they announced on all channels and frequencies “Fear not. The Trobogorian Directorate promises not to kill anyone.”
“Which ones are these?” Sam asked.
Venus raised my hand and kissed it while Medusa answered. “They’re the pacifists, technically. They prefer weapons that keep people alive in excruciating pain.”
“Yay, kicking aliens to the dark side of the honeymoon,” I said, smiling over at Venus. I don’t know why I couldn’t stop smiling. It shouldn’t have meant so much, but it did. And I knew it’d be fun to go beat up some invading aliens, too. The last time a Trobogorian expedition hit Earth, it didn’t go their way. Now, they’ve got me to deal with, and about a bajillion angry alien machines mobilizing around the outer planets to help protect the people who gave them a home.
Heck, I bet this’ll all be cleared up before Outlaw X gets done entertaining y’all instead. Cut me some slack, I’m on my honeymoon.
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