Tag Archives: Miss Tycism

Arete in Destruction 7

It looks like I have a new minion and this one fits in a lot better than Moai. Admittedly, Moai gets a lot fewer looks than you’d think for a giant bouncing Moai, but he has weight and size problems.

So I have Carl now. You may remember him as the robber who called me “Psycho” and threatened the tellers. Moai seemed cool to hear about it. He’s finally feeling better, I think. The cracks are all closed up on him. A little thick, I’ll admit, but I’ve got the brains and Moai has the stones. All we’d need is some beauty and we might have a full-fledged team.

Speaking of beauty, next time I see Dame, I’m going to show her a nice recording of Venus giving up her name to me, the marvelously maligned Psycho Gecko.

Eh…that’s kinda iffy. Maybe I can get away with calling myself great and devious, but marvelously maligned is a bit of a stretch unless I start carrying around a staff. On the plus side, I could rock a bitchin’ visor…hmmm. Nah, not worth it. Those types always wind up surrounded by incompetent subordinates who do nothing but screw up their otherwise-great plans to conquer the world.

Ah yes, speaking of plans, I put some in action to deal with my own rogue’s gallery of heroes. Or would you call that a Robin’s gallery?

Nonetheless, I set out to do some damage to the heroes assembled against me. Or should I say, disassembled. With the jet down, travel time has greatly increased for the heroes. Sure, Forcelight and Honky Tonk Hero can zip anywhere they want, but even the more mobile Gorilla Awesome, Black Raptor, and Troubleshooter can’t make other states in any sort of timely matter.

That was the point, after all. It reminds me of a story, though it’ll probably make about as much sense to you as any of the others. See, these Mongols were facing a numerically superior force, so they fled. And fled. And fled. The enemy went after them, exhausting themselves and separating their force as some lagged behind others. So the Mongols turned around and killed them piece by piece.

From my reconnaissance, I can also tell they’re not all in the same spot. With Long Life no longer so friendly to the team, they can’t just go around commandeering labs and office buildings. Maybe they could scrounge up enough money to rent such a space, but who knows what bills are piling up. At the very least, they need some cool cars for transportation until they get a new jet, if they’re going to get a new jet.

This is a big city, too. With my base gone and my new headquarters unknown, I was betting on them splitting up some to handle patrols and any Gecko-related incidents. My petty crimes helped confirm that one.

Now, at the end of the day, finding out where a hero lays his head is as simple as following them home. That’s made incredibly easy if you can turn invisible and zoom in with your helmet. So I have a few boltholes down.

First one up to bat: the lovely Miss Tycism. I love picking on her. It’s not even about tearing her loincloth off yet again. It’s the magic. Magic sucks. There are some theories out there by psychiatrists who believe that there are four different conceptions of the universe for each of the various power classifications. They’re trying to find out if it all has to do with viewpoints so fundamentally different in thinking that it provokes an instinctive opposition to it. Mystical, like Miss Tycism or Captain Flamebeard, opposes technological, like Troubleshooter or Miss Communication. Biological, like Venus or Breakdown, in opposition to scientific, like Forcelight or Ouroboros. As a bit of an odd quirk, Scientific was originally going to be just Chemical instead, but then there was all the radiation that started causing stuff.

They like to do it up like a + or an X so that each opposing source of power is across from its nemesis. Magic and technology are well known for opposition between each side, but neither of them seem to oppose natural or scientific. Biological and scientific also dislike each other like a jock on a beach kicking sand in a 1950s nerd’s face, but once again, there’s crossover with the perpendicular axes. There is, after all, a strong link between science and technology, but there was also stuff like alchemy for a long time. As for the biological types, who are naturally so good, there’s nothing stopping them from using a magic sword or power armor that they didn’t create and don’t understand.

And then, what muddies the whole thing up is that you just don’t always know. How can Good Doctor see inside people or through things? I don’t know. Could be a strange genetic mutation that would give evolutionary scientists a hard-on, or it could be exposure to strange environmental factors like a chemical spill. What exactly is Max’s power from? Hell if I know. His concoctions seem like magic to me, but he seems to think he’s being scientific about it in his own way.

That’s why I prefer to suggest that any psychiatrists who spend too long theorizing about all this instead go get a nice set of happy pills from the psychiatrists who actually see patients. Especially when they start trying to figure out where psychic powers fit in all this. Nothing gives a psychiatrist a headache like a psychic.

Now that long explanation that was quite out of the way of this little tale is why I snuck into Miss Tycism’s friend’s house with some dogs from that dog-fighting ring I set up and let them go to town. It’s been awhile since those mutts have had something as soft as a pillow between their legs. What? I’m letting them roam free, aren’t I?

It’s not like I did this to get caught anyway. I had this little doohickey attached to the living room TV that blocked the frequencies that Venus’s communicator used. I guess they didn’t change them since the bank job. Miss Tycism’s friend was nice and quiet for me thanks to the gag in her mouth and Tycism, as I like to call her when I get tired of saying the whole thing, was scheduled to be returning from her normal patrol hours. Right on time, she stepped over that threshold and onto the offwhite carpet to find me there, sitting on the red leather couch with a pack of scarred dogs surrounding me.

“Sup, dawg?” I said. Then I pointed at her and activated the pre-programmed whistle because I never learned, ok? There, are you happy?! There’s at least one more thing I, the great and devious Psycho Gecko, am not an expert at.

So the dogs charged her. There was Zeus and Thor and Butch and Mack. Her hands pulsed briefly with purple energy and knocked the dogs back. No harm was done to them, but they kept coming. They were dodging some of the blasts too. I had to roll off the couch as a stray one knocked it through the door into the kitchen. Tsk tsk. You’re not supposed to bake a sofa in the oven like that, but she gets points for trying to make it fit.

She was keeping the jaws from clamping on her when she finally realized she could back up. She threw two blasts at once, flinging Zeus and Mack into Butch and Thor, then moved out of view from the door. They bunched up at the door and she pulled together some sort of purple sphere she’d created in that span of time, trapping them all and lifting them off the ground. She touched the sphere and pulled forth a purple line of the same energy and tied it to the railing outside. The dogs floated outside like some sort of vicious purple balloon.

I figured she’d take her time knowing I was in the house. Even with her friend inside, she’d probably do some chanting and whip up a big spell that would cause my testicles to suddenly be pulled out of a hat in Las Vegas. I don’t wanna have to throw those things over my shoulder like a continental soldier because they hang so low!

I threw myself out a side window and circled around. Another thing I wasn’t doing, I wasn’t running out that front door into some sort of magic missile even with invisibility on. Except she thought to run inside. Huh. Maybe I should have gone with my other idea to wait inside for her. At least I knew where she was headed.

I leapt up and grabbed on to the window sill and siding outside the bedroom I stuffed her friend in. Took her a few seconds to run in with some scroll thing in her hands. She must have paid a visit to her bedroom. I was losing containment big time on this one. I slammed my head and shoulders into the window, rolled through, and got to my feet with a fist headed right for her head.

And then I was dead. Somehow, the certainty of my death was just there, in my thoughts.

It was all just nothingness. No sights, no sounds, no feeling of a body. Not even numbness to let me know I had a body there. Time dragged on in utter oblivion with only my own thoughts to keep me company.

Luckily I didn’t have a bladder or bowels to empty at the time. Or a body to shake. And if any of y’all spread around that I said that, I’ll fucking cut you! I’ll do it! I’ll cut you with a damn squirrel.

So I was left alone with just my thoughts, and that’s how I figured out something was wrong.

I sent off commands to a part of me I couldn’t even feel. I told the computerized portion of my brain to look for nearby video sources. It’s possible to hijack a phone’s camera, but the real dirty secret involves all the webcams left unsecured. If you’ve got one, you’d better make damn sure it’s off and secured from wireless intrusion. Suddenly, audio and visual broke through from the friend’s laptop. With it came the sudden realization that I could feel my cybernetic parts and the suit.

The friend was freed and waving her hand back and forth in front of my helmet while I stood stock still. “Wow, that spell froze him?”

“Not unless his worst fear was being frozen. I would try and read his mind, but he’s got some sort of psychic interference. Come on, get out of here. I’ve got to alert the rest of the team, and even that won’t slow him down,” explained Miss Tycism to her friend. She rolled the scroll she held back up even as it darkened and smoked. She tossed it out the door of the room and away from my view.

“Hey take my picture!” she said and stood right in front of my left fist. She brought hers up like it would uppercut me in the chin.

“Don’t disturb him. That spell is very sensitive to outside forces. You don’t want to set him loose.” She checked her belt. “It might be quicker for me to use your phone…aha!”

I tested those receivers I had installed in my spine. They were designed to allow me to circumvent having my neck or back broken, so I hoped they’d be of use this time. No such luck. They still had to send signals along nerves that were technically organic.

There was still one part of my suit I could activate, though. I sent a command and a Nasty Surprise turned the posing pal’s throat into a blood fountain.

I was forced out of my mystical imprisonment by a distraught Miss Tycism trying to throw me out the window with one of those purple repulsion blasts while she knelt by her friend. I ducked into an illusion of invisibility and slid to the side. I ran at her at an angle. As I got close, I set one foot on her knee and brought the other up into her face. She fell back with a broken and bloody nose. I didn’t let her go down, though. I grabbed her by the hair and leaned out of the way of various blasts she sent into the ceiling. Dust from smashed drywall drifted down over us as I took her chin in my other hand and… “Oh snap! You just got served.”

I checked the downed communicator. It had an error message… “Lost connection.”
I grabbed the jammer before I left. Someone was bound to find the place before long and report it. I could still deal with another good guy before they called in a warning.

Next was Black Raptor. The guy was only able to commute to work with the team thanks to the jet. Sure, he’s got wings on that exoskeleton, but he’s from Florida and here we are in Empyreal City, New York. That’s a long migration.

And it’ll be even longer now.

Raptor was busy chatting away on his cell phone with his kids when I arrived. He was in civilian garb. The exoskeleton hung in his bedroom closet and the molded protective armor and tights were strewn over the bed.

“Don’t worry, babies. Daddy has lots of days to save. I’ll be back soon.”

That’s when I jumped through the window, grabbed him by the throat, and slammed him against the wall. The phone dropped from his hands in his struggles to get loose. “I don’t think so, bird boy.”

I couldn’t help myself. A malevolent cackle escaped me. I was taking my time with him. Oh yeah, I put him through the wringer. I tossed him onto the nightstand, breaking a wall light on his backside. I threw the motel TV at him and embedded it in the yellow drywall. I chased him, slammed the door on him when he tried to open it and escape, then followed him into the bathroom where I broke his boxer shorts off with a wedgie. When they broke, he went down face first into the toilet for a swirly. Good thing he flushed last time. When I yanked him out of the water, I spun him around and threw him into the wall by the shower. He broke through and landed in the closet. I stepped through after him as he tried to crawl out and dropped the little safe on his back.

I picked it up again and held it over my head. Raptor turned over on his back to look up at me, begging me through the defeat cocktail of water, tears, snot, and blood that drenched his face.

I don’t know why I stopped. I just know that I saw a face from really long ago. The oldest memory I have of a different father begging. Probably just some leftover mind whammy from Miss Tycism’s headgame. I tossed the safe aside and reached down. His shirt tore as I pulled him up a little. “You love those kids so much, maybe you ought to be there for them instead of off playing hero. One of us will leave town here in the next day, you hear? If I go, you’ll find me in Paradise City, playing villain.” To add emphasis to this threat, I turned and brought out the Nasty Surprise to cut through the joints of his exoskeleton. When I’d left him with nothing but pieces of it, I went over and cut his tights in half.

That’s not to say I lost my will to kill someone. With my mind fucked over like that, though, the person I most desired to kill was unfortunately beyond my reach thanks to me snapping her neck.

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Arete in Destruction 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I flushed the toilet, triggering the remote.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moai didn’t move.

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

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

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

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

“Hey Gex. What’s up?”

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

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

Who else do I have in my contacts…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Two Tickets to Paradise 11

I’m going to try and relay what happened after my capture to you and it’s going to take awhile. Asses were kicked and feelings were hurt, but keep calm and read on. And for now, we’ll put Polonius and his art behind a tapestry. I swear I use no art at all.

I spent a great deal of that night unwell. That I am mad, ‘tis true: ‘tis true ‘tis pity; and pity ‘tis ‘tis true. I am a foolish figure. Mad let us grant me then. The cell reminded me too much of my childhood. It was not a good childhood. There were whips and chains, but not the good kind. It had too many rooms like the one I was in, full of too many men like the ones keeping me in that cell. I was mad, and when I say mad, do not mistake me for being angry. Indeed, I was happy. Why wouldn’t I be? I knew the cause of this effect, or rather say, the cause of this defect, for this effect defective comes by cause. I had been worried when my enemies were the shadows of everyone around me. Knowing that the world was against me made things easier. I could deal with that. Thus it remains, and the remainder thus.

I knew who my enemies were and I knew a lot about what they could do. I realized in that moment that to break the Shieldwall, I would need to know not what they could do but who they were. Seeing as I was bound, that revelation would have to go on the backburner.

First is first, to put it my accustomed way. Escape. I was never a good hacker. Give me the physical touch of a computer and I can make it bend and stretch in ways its designer never meant, but programming language does not come so easily to me. That’s not how I handle things. If Ouroboros left everything as unsecured as your average criminal then that wouldn’t be an issue, but he’s smart and he’s been dealing with Yakuza and their otaku. End result, I couldn’t get out ahead of time.

I wanted to. I felt like a tiger in a cage, except with more imbeciles walking by to taunt me. At least tigers have a chance to get back at whatever drunk guy jumps into the enclosure.

Shokushu and Suishou stopped by when the Yakuza showed up. They looked tipsy. Shokushu had his tie around his head and pressed his ass against the door/window. I was able to figure that out from the files I could access.

No one bothered to pay a visit from the Columbians except for Terribilis, who chatted with a young man in tactical gear that I realized was the man Ouroboros had been talking to. I made the job easy on him. He didn’t have to hunt me down at all. I couldn’t match the guy up in the database. I checked for villains or mercenaries with the sort of wide-brimmed hat he tipped my way, but I had no luck. He had a bandana pulled up over the bottom half of his face.

All that and he didn’t realize the man next to him in the bright yellow power armor wasn’t the real Terribilis. I saw the heroes take him down. That armor put up a decent fight before Troubleshooter got the power drain net on him and Forcelight cracked it open at the entry seam.

When they were done whispering between themselves, the shooter knocked on the door and said, “You behave in that cage now or I’ll have to put you down,” he made a motion with his hand and suddenly his rifle appeared, like a prestidigitator’s trick, “I’d put you down for free, but I’d rather get paid for you.” He backed up a step, then pointed it through the glass at me.

He wouldn’t, unless he wanted to die. If the heroes walk in and see me dead, they know automatically they’ve been set up. That’s why they have all tolerated me to the degree that they have so far, save for the Cartel’s attempt to take me out when I was thought to be a turncoat. Or maybe that was part of a plan of theirs.

Either way, the shooter stowed his gun nowhere and they left me alone, leaving me with nothing to do but stare at the exceptional rear of the man who shot me as he walked away. In all seriousness, dat ass.

That was my night, being gawked at people who should have felt nothing but gratitude at surviving my presence. It took a long time to bring us to night. A long time that I spent worming my way through whatever I could find. Casino security was right out. Ouroboros had actually invested in decent network security. Damn Yakuza otakus. Or is it otaku for plural as well? It may be one of those words that doesn’t change between the singular and plural form, like The Last Samurai, that movie where that white guy rode into battle with the last of the samurai.

At 8 o’clock, a crowd of O-sec gathered outside my window which retracted into the ceiling. Two of them trained flamethrowers on me while more stepped forward to latch chains onto my restraints. Someone pulled ahead too far as we stepped onto the floor, causing me to fall. Real original, guys.

As soon as I saw the heroes assembled, I gave Venus a call and muted my exterior speakers. I saw her turn away before answering with a whisper that only the heroes and I could hear. “Not now, Gecko, we’re in the middle of capturing you.”

“Where are you, by the Burger King?”

“We’re at the casino.”

“This is no time for slot machines, hero. Wait a sec, the casino? There’s not some version of me in a crappy knockoff costume around, is there?”

“Yesss,” she drew the word out, glancing first at a wall where wind blew the leaves of a rubber plant as passed, then back to me.

“You know that’s a trap, right? They found out about our deal and I was forced to beat a hasty retreat. I-…hold up. Ok, cops are here, got to go, bye.”

I hung up, having been led to the middle of the casino’s floor. Table games and ropes had been cleared all around me.

“If it isn’t too much trouble, we’re taking your new fountain ornamentation as well,” said Forcelight as she stepped forward. “How do we know this,” she pointed at me, “is the real deal.”

Venus in particular looked expectant of the answer. Torrent stepped up behind me and kicked me in the back of the knee. I didn’t go down the first time. “Say something, Gecko.” The second time, I fell to my knees.

I turned around partially to look at him, then back to the heroes, then to the Cartel’s members specifically, then to Forcelight, and spoke, “Lo siento, pero no soy el hombre que busca. ¿Dónde estoy?”

“What is this, Ouroboros?”

“It’s a lie, that’s what it is!” said that pockmarked face man from the Columbians. “That’s Psycho Gecko, I know it.” He stuck one finger out and it began to glow purple. He thrust it toward me and the purple glow flew threw the air toward me to be stopped by Forcelight, who had taken to floating. The others in the Cartel didn’t take kindly to this. They drew their guns, prompting everybody else with guns or powers to get them ready to go.

“Shieldwall together!” Venus called as they began to move toward me. My heroes.

Forcelight and Ouroboros approached me ahead of everyone for an emergency negotiation. “¿Quiénes son estas personas?” I cut them off. I’m no expert in Spanish, but it was one of the languages I considered adopting when I landed in this universe. Learning new languages is somewhat like learning a new way to think. My trip to the South may be somewhat less stereotypical than I expected, but most people draw the line at speaking common language of the country.

What gave me away was a ringing noise coming out over the comms, the source of which was a cluster of Troubleshooter, Gorilla Awesome, and Venus, with the trio focusing on Venus’s earpiece.

You ever get that feeling like you created all your own demons and they’re about to tear you to pieces? Me neither. At the time, I hoped I wouldn’t die there because of what I’ve mentioned before, about awesome tombstones. I didn’t want mine to read “Psycho Gecko, in hell he’ll dine, thanks to *69”. Or to exist, really. This may come as a surprise, but I don’t want to die.

Forcelight put her hand on my shoulder, “We’ll take him. And the rest of you. Lay down your weapons and put your hands on your heads.”

Ouroboros was back in the midst of his men one enhanced strength backflip later. “I think not, Forcelight.” He began to speak into an earpiece when that gunman in tactical gear held a gun to his head.

“I think so,” he pulled off the mask, revealing the former Holdout, now the Lone Gunman. Ah ha! The ass never lies. Pockmark of the Columbians began to laugh and even that nameless guy from the Yakuza cracked a smile, at least until Terribilis trained his rifle and minigun on them, respectively. Those smiles died a quick death. One of them had to go: the smiles or their owners.

I had a chance to smile as the effects of Ouroboros’s few commands were followed by men in the security office. I broke the little standoff going on with my words, “By the way, whoever sets me free gets to survive.” I think everybody laughed at that.

The casino floor itself had little in the way of static defenses by its very design. Customers don’t want to see sentry turrets and mines and such defenses shouldn’t be within the range of stumbling drunks. Funny thing is, those networks stayed off most of the time. I felt them come online below me and found out they weren’t as well protected because of their rare use. It was that surprise Ouroboros mentioned if the fight came into the casino proper. Let this be a lesson to those who cross a man improper.

The floor shook beneath me, both indicating incoming firepower and sending pleasant vibrations through my crotch. The floor opened. Shieldwall was scattered around the room as the strongroom emerged. I fell right on top of it. The vault, complete with automated guns. They were set to recognize the security badges of casino staff and higher ups like Torrent and Ouroboros. I didn’t want to play favorites.

In control of their IFF, I closed my eyes and targeted anyone not me. When I fired, the fighting started. Heroes versus villains. Gangs versus gangs. Like a police raid on a NAMBLA meeting, this was where you separate the men from the boys.

They were leaving me alone in all the chaos, too. Everyone had better things to do than worry about me. I was all chained up and on my knees. I wasn’t eager to remain that way, though. Machine guns and lasers turned inward and took aim. While I don’t have a motif or a theme, which would be awesome you know, I felt this epic battle deserved some epic tunes. Trust me, you ever have a huge fight with four large groups of people who hate your guts, you’re going to want to have an awesome soundtrack too. Forget the imprisonment, it was more agonizing to pick out the song. I went with “The Show Must Go On” by Three Dog Night.

Not as hard hitting as what I normally go for in battle, but a song I felt very fitting for my emergence into the fray. It sounded from the sound system and over the Shieldwall frequency, leaving my enemies barely able to hear their teammates or potential dangers in combat.

I threw off the blasted shackles and chains, then stood up, proclaiming, “Now it’s time to tear off your own asses and BEAT YOU TO DEATH WITH THEM!” Yep, it sounded much better with that emphasis on it. Right after that, a strong explosion hit the door of the vault, causing the forcefield over it to blink out for a moment before it was restored. I nearly fell on my ass but recovered my balance and figured I’d watch some of the festivities until somebody stepped up to get stepped on.

Shokushu’s tentacles whipped at the Honky Tonk Hero while Suishou threw his body in chunks at Paveman, knocking off pieces of the craggy bastard. The villainous pair fought well together. One would occasionally lend a tentacle or a few shards to keep their respective opponent off-balance. The Street Artist left swipes of paint in the air that he used to deflect bullets and knock enemies away. He spotted Troubleshooter and built up a large cloud, but she realized she was in danger and fired that kinetic weapon she introduced me to the other day. It dispersed the paint and left the Artist skidding along the floor on his back. With lights destroyed, Raggedy Man appeared in the shadows near the roof with an Ouroboros security officer in his hands. He disappeared again, leaving the guard to fall with a scream from on high. Torrent threw rival gang members at the giant Shieldwall robot, his body absorbing kinetic energy and increasing his strength. Forcelight flew into him and the pair stumbled into the empty all-you-can-eat buffet, trading blows beyond the ability of mortal men. Scythe-Skater and Gorilla Awesome traded blows. Her weapon of choice was her scythe. His was a slot machine. Pockmark dueled with Lone Gunman. He took his own men as human shields, but they were shot out from in front of him. Raggedy Man disappeared and reappeared throughout the scene. He drove steel-toed boots into the nameless Yakuza guy. The man with no name deflected the kick and drove his open palm into where Raggedy Man’s face was before he disappeared. Bright Star was bleeding out from a gunshot wound to the eye. Miss Tycism’s green shield deflected Cartel gunshots as she knelt beside him. Venus hurried over and jabbed Bright Star with something. A syringe full of familiar fluid. Seconds later, his bleeding had stopped and his eye was regrown.

My nanites. I was about to jump down and engage Venus for her supply of nanites, but checking my rear revealed the reappearance of the armor thief. He looked down at his hands. Must be power issues. I left an illusion behind that I was still watching the battle over the side. He approached, thinking he had the element of surprise. I circled around behind him. I jumped, locked my legs around his neck, and flipped backward to introduce him to the elements iron and carbon. The helmet rang as it hit the steel on top of the vault. I took advantage of his stunned state and unlocked the helmet. I pulled it off to reveal that the faker was… Old Man Wilkins?!

That’s right, and he’d have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for this meddling supervillain and his Moai.

Actually, it was a teenager with lightning flashing in his eyes. Red White Blue Kid. I hit him in the head with the helmet. After a smack, he raised his hands, slowly charged the gloves and creating a sheathe of energy around them. I tossed the helmet into a melee below that was set ablaze by an O-Sec flamethrower guard. I charged my gloves all the way. I caught the Kid’s laughable attempts to strike back, overpowering his sheathe and causing to backfire. The bones of his hands and wrist snapped and burned, though much of the energy was dissipated into the steel around the vault as I pinned his wrists to it in the same move.

Before I could take advantage of that state, Ouroboros joined us on the vault. Bloodstained ivory daggers whirled through the air. I kicked at him, but he drove one into my leg. Normally a knife wouldn’t penetrate. Normally, I’m not being stabbed by a guy with twice human strength. I backed away and put pressure on my leg while hoping the last guy he stabbed with that didn’t have herpes. Come on, baby, I got it fighting a supervillain, I swear!

He approached over the Kid, who moaned and shifted. Ouroboros looked down and seemed shocked by the teen in my armor. It gave me an opening and time to start charging my gloves again. I grabbed for his wrist but he spun smoothly out of the way with his blades gliding over the metal of my torso armor impotently. So much for my opening. I raised an illusion of myself still standing there as I dropped to my knees. He learned it was fake when his blade found the illusion’s throat but I had opened up my hand like I was going for a karate chop. Except I drove it fingers first into his belly with all the strength of myself and my armor. His armor and skin gave way. I stood, reaching up inside his body until I found that traitorous heart and tore it out. Ouroboros gawked at me and his little knives fell from his hands. I wrapped my fingers around it and punched him in the mouth with that hand. I left his heart in among the broken teeth, grabbed the top of his head and under his chin, and mashed his mouth open and shut a few times. Finally, I activated the jump enhancers, bent my legs, and gave him a tremendous uppercut to the jaw knocked him over the crowd.

Undying dragon my ass.

I looked over to see the Kid crawling over the side of the vault to escape. Uh uh uh. I dragged him back by the foot and flipped him over. He leaned up. I popped him in the nose. “Now then, let’s have none of that nanite bullshit from you too. The lesson needs to be learned that I kill heroes dead. D-E-Eye of Horus-Squiggly line-Norse Rune-D. Dead!” I grabbed his tongue and his leg and tossed him high into the air. At least a Wookie in height. I jumped after him and, thanks to my closer proximity, got a good view of a rogue RPG blowing a hole in the roof. I caught the Kid with my feet on his armpits and rode his inverted body down on top of the vault. When he landed, it was on his head with all of his and my weight.

But hey, they can always put his brain back together once they’re finished scouring his colon for all the pieces.

I felt it was about time to get this baby opened and get myself some sweet immortality now that I had proven myself King of the Hill. I dropped my flat, propane-selling ass to the ground in front of the door to the thing. A computer panel nearby was active. Ahah! It only took a few minutes of contact to get at this thing. Hacking? No no no. This thing was part of my nervous system. The door’s forcefield deactivated, internal alarms turned off, and the door swung open, revealing the contents to me. Gold bars. Bricks of cash. Gadgets. It was all brightly lit by the fluorescent lighting making up the entirety of the ceiling.

I ran in and found my way to a glass case with what appeared to be an ordinary stick. I busted the case and snatched it up eagerly. “Ok, I wish that gold was chocolate milk. I wish the White House was pained pink. I wish to be…immortal!”

I expected something dramatic to happen, but I had nothing. “I wish this thing would give me a sign it is working.”

No such sign. I hit it. I tried looking for an On switch. I was holding it in the same hand I ungloved to get in the vault, so it wasn’t the skin contact. I tried magic words after that. Hocus Pocus. Aveda Kedavra. Magical source, mystic force! Klaatu barada nikto. Magic missile. Shazam! The door slamming shut interrupted my attempts. I couldn’t maintain the connection to anything outside the vault after that, not even whatever system controlled the vault itself.

And a half hour later, I still hadn’t gotten it open. I couldn’t wish it open. There was no interior panel to bond with. Even the weapons laying around were useless. They were broken or had no power cells. There was a missile launcher that could have done the job, but it was missing vital parts of ordinance and firing mechanisms. Also, I was in an enclosed space with it. I even tried throwing gold bars at it because why not? They broke apart. Fakes. At least I had time to dress the stab wound to my thigh from the fight where I’d killed Ouroboros.

“Well, well, it looks like you got in my vault after all, Gecko,” said Ouroboros over an intercom.

“Great, now I’m hearing voices again.”

“Not at all. I enjoyed watching your fights from my panic room. My double provided a lot of insight into how I should fight you. It shouldn’t come to that, Gecko. Not with the heroes having just wiped the floor with the Yakuza and Columbians. My men withdrew and it seems my contingency plan worked after all. I still have something the heroes want thanks to your blatant interest in my vault. Here, let me get them on the line. Heroes! Over here! I need you to find the intercom on the vault to speak to me. Actually, I don’t, Gecko, I just want you to hear us talk.”

“When I’m through with you, there won’t be a Paradise City to rule,” I yelled. I admit, it sounded ineffectual to say.

“What’s your angle, Ouroboros? How did you survive?” said Forcelight.

“I survived in the luxury of my panic room. Inside this particular room is someone else you are looking for. You’ve done me a good turn by putting my rivals down, but I still need an agreement. If you agree to leave tonight, you’ll get Psycho Gecko, who is conveniently trapped beyond this door.”

“Deal. We’ll get him to Marscow Prison in Kingscrow as soon as we get him out of here.”

“Hey! You can’t do that! I’m too important to myself to be sent to prison!”

“They can’t hear you, Gecko. Try your intercom.”

“Thank you, motherfucker,” I said, feeling all Samuel L. Jackson up in this beast. I pressed the button, “You can’t send me to jail! I’m too homicidal. There’ll be no survivors! Besides, don’t I get a trial?”

“The prison is better suited to hold you until we get to that trial.”

“Yeah, you’re right. Just drop me in jail with Max and Doc. By the way, do you visit your dad in prison any?”

“My dad is dead. It’s- stop. Just stop.”

“What? I hit a touchy subject.”

“Just shut up. There are no mind games left to play. We’re taking you in as soon as Ouroboros opens up.”

The O-man cut in himself now, “The system has been corrupted. I can’t control he door remotely anymore. I’m afraid you will have to find a way in on your own, heroes. Pardon me if I do not wish to come down there in person and provide assistance.”

“The panel has an axe embedded in it. We’ll find a way to get in. You just sit tight in your hidey hole and play nice,” Forcelight spoke with a note of irritation in her voice.

My plan was to get some of these weapons laying around to work right. Mix and match them to shoot my way out if needed. I started gathering up piles of the junk.

“You alright, Gecko? You’re not running out of air in there, are you?” said Venus over the intercom.

I considered not even answering her. “I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams, but it’s nice to hear you still care, Boopsie. What do you think, are you going to stop by and visit me in jail? Maybe we could arrange a conjugal visit.”

She responded with laughter that went on so long that she stopped holding down the button. When she next spoke to me, she had taken time to get herself under control, “Gecko, you are as appealing to me sexually as your name, and twice as slimy. I don’t care about being kind. Not to you and not after all you’ve done. I just want to see you locked up with nowhere to go for the rest of your natural life. I would actually prefer to see you bound in a nutshell, you nut, but you can find a way to be annoying while folding the prison laundry for all I care.”

These damn intercoms won’t let me interrupt, but eventually I get to have my say to play with her brain matter, “Then our monarchs and outstretched heroes are the beggars’ shadows. In court, I don’t expect you’ll look good having hunted me so maliciously. Your team either, but especially you, though. Is it justice when you hunt me just because of your boyfriend? How many greater threats have gone unattended to because of this obsession?”

It was Forcelight who spoke, “Venus has no conflict of interest. It’s not like you killed her boyfriend. Thanks to wonderful new life support and body repair technology that is soon to be patented by Long Life, he’s still alive and can’t wait till he’s put together completely and we can make him look less like a robot.”

“I held his shattered skull.”

A distorted electronic voice answered me next, “You had a few pieces. There was enough left of me to save. Thank you for the nanomachine technology, by the way. We adapted it to work on everyone if need be. Stealing from you is going to make the world a much better place when we begin mass production.” The giant robot, aka The Human Sloth. No. He’s Mecha Human Sloth now. He’s half the half-man he used to be.

“That’s not…well oh yeah? I thought your ass already had enough mass,” I wasn’t going to finish that sentence saying it wasn’t right.

Next up was Troubleshooter, “And your armor will provide great protection and strength enhancement for us and law enforcement as soon as I reverse engineer it.”

“Don’t come in here! I have a magical wishing stick! I’ll zap you to pieces if you try and get me!”

Raggedy Man responded, “I may have neglected to mention that only certain types of people can use that. I neglected it because it’s obvious you are a bad penny and no way would it allow you to wish for so much as a good penny. Thanks for getting it back for us, though.”

“I’m afraid he’s right on that one, Gecko. That thing was useless to me. That’s why I left it in the vault when I moved the rest of my valuables out. Thank you for making it obvious you wanted in there and then taking so long to come back,” said Ouroboros.

Next up was Black Raptor, “You’ve brought all your enemies together against you. You didn’t break us. You just made us even more committed to fighting people like you as a team. Even your plans here backfired on you. You can’t beat us. You can’t escape us. Your capekiller allies are in prison and your pet statue is on his way to Kingscrow now. We have your equipment. We ruined your reputation. You deserve everything you’re about to get. No, you deserve more. But you’ll settle for facing justice. When we swing this thing open, though, I hope you try to fight. We’ll try not to kill you, Psycho Gecko, but no matter what, you don’t walk away today.”

I really needed to get to work anyway so I didn’t respond. I didn’t know how long they’d be pounding away at the door and my full concentration was required on the broken pieces of scraps I’d been left with, that’s all. I could have had a brilliant response if I’d wanted to. Honestly.

It took them quite a long time, in fact. Despite all the pounding and tearing, I was able to accomplish about what I needed. I had to get this monstrosity into firing shape and scour the remains of broken gear for a power source, but I got it. I was not giving up the one I use for my suit. I need that one.

“Yo, anybody out there. Y’all almost in?” I questioned the intercom.

“Very nearly in, Gecko,” Forcelight said, “Are you going to make us this difficult on yourself?”

“I just had a few words to say,” spoke softly. It was at this point that I began to plagiarize a song called “If I Burn” because “I don’t care. Maybe I’m afraid, but still I swear. You could take my life with conscience clear, but you should still hear that if I burn, you will see the fire in your mind when you sleep and if I rise up in smoke around your eyes, you’ll know it’s mean. And the rain won’t wash away the ashes underneath your nails today. It doesn’t matter where you go or what you do, because if I burn, so will you.”

If I failed, I figured they’d be a badass note to go out on. If I succeeded, they’d be an integral part of the plan.

I took my position as they picked up the pace outside. I had a plan to go out in a blaze of glory, they’d think. After ten minutes, I heard the door give one last groan. Then it was yanked loose and tossed to the side by Forcelight and the robot that I realized was Mecha Human Sloth. The pair barely knew what almost hit them. It was, specifically, an old missile from the old missile launcher.

My rideable rocket lived again, just without any sorts of controls. I got up to speed quickly, zipping past heroes prepared for a fight or an escape on foot. Even Forcelight couldn’t keep up and losing track of me at that point meant escape. They would also find that their tricky little Wishing Stick was nothing but a pair of broken Wishing Twigs tossed in a corner at this point.

It was all a close call, but I was finally free.

I was so ecstatic that I shook a little on my scooter ride out of the city. I had to find where they towed my SUV to and raid it, but I got the blogging device back and my Minstrel Cycle. Let them search Paradise City a few more days. I have a new destination in mind.

Kingscrow, home of Marscow Prison, currently occupied by the Good Doctor, Mix N’ Max, and soon to have Moai in it as well. I think I’ll stop by, break out my acquaintances, and work on a more solid plan for tearing Shieldwall apart.

Don’t think that this is the last I’ve seen of Ouroboros, either. On my drive out, I noticed him calling in to the villain pirate radio station, Outlaw X. They played a request from him to me. Care to take a guess what he wanted in my honor? “The Show Must Go On,” by Three Dog Night.

Douche.

Next

Previous

Two Tickets to Paradise 6

Let me just say that these past few days hit me like a ton of bricks. Just wham!

By now you’ve already read about the seeds of this whole mess that were planted. I left Moai to guard Raggedy Man in his new room and figured I’d water them a bit. Or plant more. I was never into gardening, so the plant metaphor stretches kind of thin for me, like a rubber band that has to fit around the entire scope of an event. Metaphorical simile aside, I escalated things.

Say what you will, but I think the car bomb was perfectly justified. The target left the restaurant nice and sauced. I just turned desert into a flambé. I don’t know who the Yakuza guy was, what he did in the organization, or if he was any higher than some sort of middle manager. I don’t know much…but I know his car blew. And that may be all I need to know. Great tipper though, even if his guys were a bit paranoid and kept a close eye on me.

Obviously it’s the Cartel they have to watch out for. That’s who is meant when people mention the Columbians around here. They’re really not all Columbian once you get to the states. Still, they’re known for their car bombs.

Don’t think they got off easy though. Why, on the same night as their cowardly attack on some random Yakuza guy, several of their men who supplied drugs at the street level were gunned down by someone with a lot of those spare dinky Mini Uzis the extraction team tried to use. They’re like toys, I swear. It’s hard to take these little things seriously. I felt like the trigger was going to break off in my hand while it farted bullets into the guys.

I made it real easy for everyone to put the pieces together, too. I left all the clues out really obvious so anyone examining things would be like “Wow, this was pretty clearly a Yakuza hit and this was clearly a Cartel hit. It might as well be written all over the place.” Then they’ll laugh and laugh.

The next day, I visited our old friend Torrent. He was annoyed to say the least. I bet it’s because somebody painted the windows and windshield black and was sitting on the hood in full armor. I didn’t get a chance to deny the paint job, though. He was more concerned about the bomb I had in my hands that was spot on for what the Cartel straps to a car. “What are you doing here with that?” he spat at me.

“Oh, nothing. Had some time while I was blindfolding your car, figured I’d chain it to your toilet. Nice house by the way,” It was too. It was by the bay on Scenic Highway, very good land, even if the slopes make driving awkward. There aren’t beaches there, but it’s a fantastic spot if you have a boat. “Anyway, before I could send your pooper on parade, I found this sucker hanging on. Don’t worry, it’s disarmed. I wouldn’t want to hurt you. Here, catch!” I chucked it underhanded at Torrent. He caught it quickly and I saw his hand and forearm slightly bulge at the impact before it dissipated through his body.

“Did you stop by just to vandalize my humvee?”

“No, I’m afraid I’m here on official unofficial business. I know I’m not here officially, meaning you don’t have to act like you give a damn, but I’m here unofficially, meaning the other guys act like they give a damn. Just figured I’d point out that if I’m attacked by these guys again, with no allies of my own officially around, then I may be force to do some very violent things. There could be collateral damage. Have you ever seen a man ripped apart by an exploding port-a-potty rocket? Unofficially, between you and me, that may happen.”

Torrent was stoic in the face of extortion. “They attacked you? Do they know what you’re after?” he queried.

“They knew what room I was in on what floor I was on of what building I was keeping someone in. He’s a very important someone for this project. If you guys are antagonizing both sides, that’s fine, but a crossfire is a dangerous place for me to be for everyone concerned. All alone, lost in a strange city, looking for water to put my back against. Can you dig it?”

He dug it.

Thanks to another anonymous tip from the same source that had good information on where the out-of-towner was keeping someone hidden, one or two people with an eye out also caught a glimpse of said out-of-towner tossing a Cartel-style car bomb to Ouroboros’s #2 man. The #2 is about to hit the fan, man.

From there, I headed back to the hotel. The same one they raided. They obviously wouldn’t expect me to stay in the exact same hotel. I went right back to the first floor. Yes, the same floor too. Even if they thought I had the audacity to stay in the same hotel, they’d assume I would change floors. They’d be wrong. And I went to the same room door…and passed it up, heading two doors down. If anyone thought to check the same hotel and floor, they’re savvy enough to check the same room. Uh uh. Not gonna find me that easy.

Time for the video. I let myself into the room and handed a phone to Moai. Just something I picked up real quick. It and the axe. Some people looked at me funny when I was carrying that around, but I yelled something about Second Amendment Rights and that got them to back off.

I took the axe with me into the circle of floodlights. Raggedy wasn’t looking good. He was scraped up, with dried blood on his arms and legs where he’d tried to wriggle free. He had a cut on his head as well, probably from the lamp.

Making sure not to bridge the gap with a shadow, I stood close to him and tapped him on the head with the axe. “Wake up, sleeping beauty. I really don’t feel like true love’s kiss needs to be brought into this.”

He stirred, slowly getting his bearings. Then he saw the axe, his eyes going wide. He trembled a tiny bit. To his credit, he restored his composure after a few seconds. I patted him on the head. “Fear not, Raggedy Man. You and I are just going to make a video…something tasteful. Ok, Moai, roll it!”

I waved at the camera, axe in hand. “Hi there Raptor! Say hi, Raggedy Man.”

I waited. And waited. No response from Raggedy. I grabbed his hand with mine and began yanking it. “Now come on Raggedy, at least wave to the man.” With a crack, I was able to raise Raggedy’s hand up for a wave. His forearm remained firmly secured to his chair with a cuff having been forced high up along his arm. He screamed. I waited until he was finished before I spoke out the side of my mouth in a higher pitch than normal, “Hullo there Raptor, it’s me, Raggedy, practicing my ventriloquism.”

“Neat skill there, Raggedy Man. Anyway, Raptor, nice to finally talk to you. I’m Psycho Gecko and I’ve been spying on you. You’ve come out to your wife about your secret identity. The late nights, the costume with muscles molded into it, looking for strange men in dark alleyways. You’re a superhero. You probably think now you’re out that things get better. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but they won’t. It gets worse.”

I set down my hostage’s hand and continued, “I have him at that crappy hotel by the civic center. First floor. You’ll want to get here and rescue him while you can. I know it’s the middle of the day, but you can drop the girls off at an aunt’s house or something and throw on the costume. Your wife won’t have to know because she’s working. Actually working at the bank this time. No stakeout. Raaaaptor, come out to plaaaaaay.”

I brought the axe more prominently into frame and gave it a couple partial spins. “Just you, me, and a new axehole. Ok, cut it there and let’s send it to him. Good job Raggedy, you’ll make it in showbiz yet. You should really show me how you do the trick with the broken arm sometime, I’d love to know how you fake that.”

“What are you going to do if he doesn’t show up?” wondered my prisoner.

“I’m going to leave you in the chair, that’s all. He’ll come.”

Moai sent Raptor the video to his phone and I left the disposable plugged in to charge and provide a handy bug for when Raptor came crashing in. The axe I left in the plastic ashtray outside the door of the hotel. Meanwhile, I headed to the bank. I had an important withdrawal to make.

When I walked into the bank, I appeared to be a civilian in a business suit, briefcase in hand. I’m glad I don’t have to wear an actual suit. Too morbid. Think about it. What do they dress dead bodies in for a funeral? Suits. And then there’s the noose people men tie around their own throats when they put them on. Not only are they dressing like they’re going to die, they’re wearing a means to kill them.

I bluffed my way through to the offices with various nonsense about loan originators and debt reconsolidation and so on. A badge and nametag appeared to match what I saw worn around me in the office, the title shifting as I weaved in and out of lies and higher up the corporate ladder. You can get more places with nonsense, a prop, and confidence than you can with just nonsense. Acting like you don’t belong somewhere is a sure sign that you don’t. Social engineering, I’ve heard it called. The weakest links in any security measure are the people themselves.

I found our Mrs. Robinson looking much more professional in the women’s version of a suit on her slender frame and hair done up. There were dark circles around her eyes. Knowing what hubby’s up to wasn’t helping her peace of mind. I just had to idle for a bit, so I stopped by the water cooler. Mmm, refreshing water. I don’t think anyone caught that it just ran off what seemed like my face and suit.

I made my move when I heard doors crashing in back at the hotel via my phone. The missus was chatting with a balding coworker when I stopped by her desk casually, apologized that I needed to pause and get something from my case, and pulled out my coffee blaster and a small board. Some people call their coffee makers a name like Mr. Coffee. I think I’ll call mine Mr. 2nd Degree Burns. Excellent.

I scalded the man with the thinning hair right on his exposed head. Mrs. Robinson had an inkling of my purpose and stumbled upright, knocking over her chair. I wrapped my arm around her as she turned to run, catching her around the midsection. I set Mr. 2nd Degree Burns aside then hit her at waist-height with the board. It let out a snap as it hit her and on my signal it curled around her waist. I got the idea from a wristband I saw once.

She struggled and threw her elbows against me. She tried to stomp on my foot with her heel. She stopped that once I whispered to her, “Mrs. Robinson, you can try and seduce me later. Right now, that’s a bomb I put on you. I have the detonator in my helmet and can set it off at any moment, so you might want to stop. Just saying.”

She did as I gently suggested and stood there, huffing, trying to catch her breath. Taking Mr. 2nd Degree Burns back in hand, the two of us made our way to the elevator. She got a confused look on her face as the door closed and turned to me. “Helmet?” she inquired. She got a good look at my armor as I dropped the businessman illusion and let out a piercing scream.

I tried muting her, but I was forced to do so without the aid of a remote by holding my hand over her mouth while I listened in on Raptor’s progress. He broke down the correct door this time. “Help is here, man. We got you. I don’t care what they said, I knew you’d turn up alive. You’re too tough a bastard to die.”

She screamed her pretty little face off up on the roof. I held her by the updo she had her long black hair in, holding her at arms length so that she leaned off the side of the building. I dialed up the phone I left back in the hotel room and interrupted the reunion of mentor and hero with a call carrying the shrill sound of Raptor’s wife in danger.

“Hey, pick up the phone already! I don’t have all day. My arm’s getting tired.”

“What do you want?” came a voice over the phone. There was rage, desperation, and hurt in his voice.

“It’s funny that nobody knows the answer to that, because I’m sure it would make a lot of things in the immediate future much clearer. I digress. Now, I wasn’t lying when I said your wife was at work. I’m with her now! Let me tell you, she knows how to work a business skirt, know what I mean? You’ve got two kids, so I guess you do. So here’s the deal, I’m going to drop her here in a few minutes. I don’t know, maybe five? I suppose I could try and make this a sadistic choice, but we both know you’ll grab her instead of trying to grab me. All you have to do is flap your little wings over here and keep your wife from falling to her doom.” I hung up.

I actually waited 7 minutes, but nothing beats having a loved one die in a hero’s arms. When it looked like he was close enough, I dropped Mrs. Robinson off the side of the building and adjusted my visor for binocular vision.

Black Raptor dove like a peregrine for the woman he loved. He came in dangerously close to the ground to catch her and the extra weight threw him down low enough that his wings struck something and the pair began to roll. When I caught up to them and got it focused enough I was disappointed by the sight that everyone lived. Raptor laid there on the ground, mechanical wings ruined, wife on top of him, the bomb strap in its board shape again nearby. The wife was going to make it, it seems. It put enough into it that it’ll blow through bones and organs where it’s wrapped, but with no real chance of collateral damage. It’s designed to do enough to kill just the one it’s wrapped around. Remember, if I kill Raptor, he won’t learn nuthin’.

But that didn’t mean I couldn’t give the guy a hand for all his luck and determination. I sent the signal telling the strap to curl up. It wrapped around Raptor’s right arm at the bicep. From where I stood, it sounded more like a loud pop as it took his arm off.

I cut back to the visor’s normal vision mode as I turned and found myself face-to-face with a giant hammer that hit me out of nowhere. I fell to my right, more than a little dazed. “Hey Gecko!” Venus shouted as she got control of the beefed up sledgehammer she just bitchslapped me with.

“You did it out of order,” I said haltingly. I had to relearn how to speak as my teeth felt like they’d just been rearranged.

“Stay down, Psycho Gecko. The team has this building surrounded and our people inside. There’s only one way you get off this building and that’s in our custody. Don’t make us have to hurt you.”

I held up a finger, “Hold on a minute. I don’t know where you came from or how you and your identical triplet sisters learned to spin around in circles that way, but I think we’ve established by now that there are two ways off this building.”

With that, I threw myself off the side, hoping I was still facing good people.

I was. It was Forcelight who first tried to catch me, but she was too powerful for what I was trying to do. If she caught me, that would be it. I directed a blank white holographic image into her face as she got close. She pulled it away with her powers but had missed me. She couldn’t stop on a dime.

The next hero to interrupt my fall was Gorilla Awesome who swung through the air to catch me in one meaty paw. Too bad he can’t fly. I swung my fists into one of his eyes and kicked off his body.

I continued my descent until Troubleshooter floated by. She piloted a car-sized vehicle that looked like she got out of control while adding stuff to her backpack. Two large waldoes, shaped like squared-off “U”s, grabbed me from either side, pinning my arms to my waist as the ends of each side met at my front and back. A mechanical scorpion tail rose out of the back of her flying machine and aimed right at my head. “Go ahead, make a move. I dare you.”

I hooked my right foot against a sort of cuff that was part of the right waldo and pushed, activating the jump enhancer. A system designed to throw me into the air exerted pressure against it. The right waldo yielded, leaving me in only the left, which tried to close more and hold me. It tried, but I slipped out the bottom. Hey, at least it got me closer to the ground and slowed me down some.

I was beginning to think I should have stayed with her when the heroes made one last attempt at saving my life. Or they almost did. Miss Tycism stopped before she got close enough to grab me and just let me fall.

I bounced off an SUV when I landed, denting it before landing hard on the ground. I was in bad shape. Bones broken, head concussed, warm fluids in my helmet and crotch area. I couldn’t feel much below the neck. I heard the door of the SUV open. The armor and I were both a little messed up but I wrangled enough projectors working together to throw up the illusion that I wasn’t there. Nanites flooded my body, emptying the suit’s stores as they worked to mend me. That was the plan. Disappear, get well enough to walk, and find Moai if he was still close enough in the escape vehicle.

Except the driver that walked over to look at me happened to be a statue from Easter Island. He loaded me in the back of the crushed former Yabloo City Sheriff’s K9 unit SUV and took off with me before the heroes could track us.

Like I said, good to have someone dependable around.

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Bananarama 11

And now we continue our story of just what happened that day I confronted Venus. What a story it is. Action! Intrigue! Ballshots! In fact, a kick to the groin is right where we left off. There are times when it doesn’t pay to have a hard-on from verbally tearing down a woman.

Well geez, saying it that way almost makes me come across like a real jerk. I meant that while normally I would hit this woman, this time I just gave her a tongue-lashing. Where the hell was I going with that last sentence? I know, I’ll distract you, readers. Look, down below!

I’d taken my eye off her as I laughed and paid for it. Venus was quick and got her knee in there before I could react. The armor helped weaken the blow, but blunt force trauma is still blunt force trauma. I doubled over instinctively too. Venus went to sweep me off my feet with a blow to the back of my knees. I relaxed with the hit. Instead of falling on my ass, I went forward to my knees.

She grabbed my helmet and rammed her knee into the visor. All she got was a sore knee. She tried to punch me in the throat, which is one of my favorite places to punch too. Don’t we just have so much in common? I ducked my chin before she could hit that vulnerable area and caught her forearm with my left hand. I gave it a hard twist to the right. She cartwheeled in the same direction. It was impressive. I was so impressed I grabbed her hand with my right, held her hand bent down, and headbutted her at the wrist.

Snap! Her response started as a grunt but ended as a pained yelp. Then I twisted her forearm back to the left. No cartwheel this time. Snap! Another yelp of pain. She kept her cool, though. She put her other leg on my right arm, trying to force it away. I let go and grabbed hold of her leg. She didn’t try to get away. Instead, she threw her body at me, wrapping her right around my arm and head while her left, the one I had a hold on, wrapped around her right ankle after it was around me. For all the kiddos reading at home and copying the moves, this is called a Triangle Choke. One way it can be countered is if you happen to be strong enough to overcome your opponent’s weight.

Now, Venus was no twig-thin model that weighs less than your average cheeseburger, and she has muscles. Muscles have weight. But her muscles didn’t beat my armor. I held fast to her as I got my feet under me. She was still trying to choke me out as I dialed for less power to the jump enhancers. I projected an emoticon over the face of my helmet just before I left. A :P. While my head was trapped between her legs. You know, I didn’t think of it that way at the time.

What I was thinking was “Wheeeeeeeee!” as I launched the both of us into the air. She fought me even there. She tried to let go, tried to spin me, tried to flip me. Time was up awfully quickly though. I slammed her into the street’s hard pavement. She let go then. While she was stunned, I grabbed her by the ankle and swung her over me to slam against the sidewalk.

So that’s what it’s like to play the power guy? I could get used to that. I just began to walk away then, calling back to her, “Puny Venus.”

She threw a rock at me. I turned back to her. “Seriously?”

She collapsed back against the ground. She was done, sticks and stones notwithstanding. “Look at you. Out of breath. Outmuscled. Outsmarted. And let’s be honest about the costumes here: outfabuloused!” I did the magic hands when I said that. ”You beat me once, I’ll give you that. Let’s see…I killed your pet dog. Yep. Smooches the Sloth. Ran over him with my mansion. Also, the house got a little scratched in all that…and kind of exploded…so I need your insurance information.” She was struggling to sit up with muffled wincing from under her mask. “I got you beat, hero. Brawn and brains.”

I talk too much. I recognize that when I’m not in the middle of it, but you get to taunting them when they’re down and it just feels so good. I don’t just mean the monologue last time. Monologues are for expressing the enormity of the whoopin’ so vociferously unleashed upon an ass.

Venus had time to catch her breath, among other things. She levered herself up on her elbows and said something I couldn’t hear. ”I have friends.”

“What was that?” I humored her.

”I have friends.” Still couldn’t make it out. Well hell, if she’s saying it twice, it must be important. I walked closer to her. “Come again? I feel I should ignore my plan to get out of town in favor of moving closer while you say something.” If I understood why I said things like that, I feel I’d be a lot closer to understanding the world.

I had to get fairly close, too. By then, she managed to gulp in enough air to speak where I could hear her. She said “I have friends.”

I put my face in my palm, shook my head, and sighed. “Personal distress beacon started at the beginning of the fight, right?” I asked, still not looking up.

She probably nodded. I turned around and kept looking down with my hand shielding my visor. I started walking away like I intended to when I beat her down. “Not looking up, not looking up, not looking up…”

A sudden impact with my helmet threw me to the ground and gave me a headache. I took a moment to look straight up into the sky. “Yep…things are NOT looking up.” I sat up and faced the music.

Heroes. I recognized Paveman, Forcelight, and Gorilla Awesome. The rest were unknown to me at the time. There was a teen made of marble next to Paveman that looked like a chip off the old block if Paveman had the body of a Greek god and a pair of gold tights with yellow griffins on them. Another new one was a young man in blue tights that had white stars running down the sides of the legs, a large white star on the chest, white sleeves. His gloves and sleeves were red and he had a helmet of blue with a white visor in the shape of a beak. The cape joining with his helmet was blue as well, with a feather pattern that featured white along the edges. It was good enough that I don’t feel so bad spending so long describing it. They also had a woman with them in a deep red cloak and a pair of sandals. Her toenails were periwinkle, too, but I doubt that was part of the whole thing. Green flame trailed from her eyes as she looked down at me from where she floated in the air.

In the words of Ron White, “I didn’t know how many of them it was going to take to kick my ass, but I knew how many they were going to use. That’s a handy piece of information to have right there.”

I kipped up to my feet only for Gorilla Awesome’s grappling hook to latch onto me and pull. Out came the Nasty Surprise to chew through the hook and I hit the invisibility. He reached out to grab at where I should be. He miscalculated. I hit the ground and jumped onto Gorilla Awesome’s head and upper back. “Nice catch, banana breath,” I taunted with complete originality. He didn’t take kindly to his new hat. To make matters worse, I saw Forcelight drawing light into her hands. Becoming visible once more, I jumped off Gorilla Awesome and turned to face the rest of the heroes with a crotch chop. Apparently, this was a gesture from the late 90s which indicated a hostile desire for someone to perform fellatio upon the person gesturing.

A few things happened at once. Gorilla Awesome jumped up and clasped his hands upon thin air. Forcelight fired a beam from her hand which snapped Awesome’s head back and sent him sprawling. Lastly, I was struck by a couple streams of sparks coming from that patriotic superhero. One was green, another was red. When they hit me, they redirected me into a streetlight with explosive force that was represented by fireworks. The green had a Peony effect and the red was Dahlia.

Gecko Fact: Peony fireworks effects is a roughly spherical burst of “stars” that lacks a trail. If it leaves a trail in kind of a slow fall, it’s a Chrysanthemum, but if they burst out quickly with a trail and then disappear before falling, that’s a Spider. A Dahlia is a Peony with bigger but fewer stars. Note that if your universe does not follow natural laws to such a degree that fireworks are capable of existing, then you should probably ignore a lot of this story’s action scenes due to the existence of chemistry and gravity.

I hit my three-way illusion, then reminded y’all to get your minds out of the gutter. Two holograms of myself ran out of me with a blue trail. One stayed behind against the pole as I cut to invisibility and rolled to the side and to my feet. I made a break for it while they stayed and taunted the heroes. I was at an alleyway when Foreclight blasted the illusions with enough power that it pushed back the BZ fog and created a clearing. I dropped the holograms when they did so and began to project my image for moments at a time in different places.

The heroes had held it together this long when facing me, but this was where things went wrong for them. The patriot guy started blasting all around himself with fireworks. Gorilla Awesome woke up, beat his chest a few times, and flew at Forcelight with his jetpack. Paveman and the marble boy were trying to help up Venus, but something triggered in Paveman and he started fighting his own hallucinations while shouting “They’re Commie Geckos! Wolveriiiiiiiiines!”

Side note: Paveman’s been doing this too long.

I dialed down the power on my jump enhancers while I headed down the alley and jumped off the wall on one side, which sent me to the other. That way, I was near roof level as I hopped from wall to wall, and to the clear. The party was pooped thanks to the girl in the cloak with the sandals and the enflamed eyes. Remember, use hand sanitizer to avoid a bad case of green flame eye. She struck me down with a bolt of red lightning. I broke through the plastic top of a dumpster as I landed half inside of it, knocking a great deal of air out of myself as well.

Something wrapped around me with a dull humming “vroom” kind of sound. I was being hauled back into the air by that flying mystic with some sort of glowing rope of energy wrapped around me. My arms were held at my side as well. At the time, I wondered if that energy was anywhere near some of the nonlethal wavelengths I had to deal with when fighting the Phenomenal Fighting Justice Rangers back home. If so, I have a little trick up my sleeve. A little trick called my gloves.

The readout in my visor classified her eyes as a magical disturbance. I could have told it that. Even with my visor in the way, she was looking right into my eyes. “Your trickery shall not deceive me, for I have the power to see truly past all your illusions.” She threw the cloak back, revealing a colorful silky outfit that played up the magic thing. I don’t understand why the skirt was done more akin to a loincloth, but I’m guess Master Academy has a male marketing staff.

“I’m glad you’re looking at my eyes right now then. If you were looking lower, things would get embarrassing quick,” I told her, then raised my hands up. My gloves were charged with energy of their own and dispersed the glowing rope as they passed through it, their own glow weakening with every loop destroyed. We were up in the air, however, so I reached out for the nearest thing I could hold. In her case, it was the mystic girl’s loincloth skirt. She kicked at me, which only made matters worse as it ripped and I sank lower. I lifted myself high enough to grab it at her waist, but that didn’t hold very long. The lower half of her outfit tore and I fell, catching myself on her ankle. As she tried to shake me off, I realized that either marketing is more sexist than I thought, or I had also grabbed her underwear when I tried to climb up her waist.

I projected a cellphone into my hand and raised it up as if taking a picture of the bare bottom heroine. “Hey, stop that!” she said, sounding a lot less like a composed master of the mystic arts. I made a bunch of noises like I was taking pictures while she pulled her cloak around herself.

I slipped a throwing knife out of my belt and stuck it through her cloak, then let myself drop. She had to notice, but she threw off the cloak and booked it to avoid becoming the hot new tabloid sensation. That still left me with a problem related to gravity. This is gonna hurt. Despite my best efforts to try and reason with the universe by pointing out that gravity is just a theory, like germs, atoms, and evolution, it has so far not allowed me to fly under my own power. This would have come in handy to keep me from landing on a vent on some store’s roof, staring up at a dark and cloudy sky that began to roar.

Luckily, everybody else was too busy losing their minds. It’s a shame it’s not a permanent effect.

There were no more problems as I got away from them. I met Moai at a big moving truck he’d stolen but we soon found a small, tiny, minor, miniscule, gigantic problem. Turns out there’s a little bit of a perimeter around the city. I’ve got to get through that or I won’t get to keep my stuff. I like my stuff. I have a limited time as well before the city is finished with its hangover. Venus showed the heroes where to get the effects removed and Forcelight’s blast there showed them how to clear enough of the city. The rain soon to come that night didn’t help matters.

I’ve won the battle. Now I just have to win the retreat.

Oh, and readers? Made you look.

 

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