Tag Archives: Ouroboros

Killing Time 3



There’s a phrase that’s been attributed to Al Capone, a rather famous gangster, that is incredibly illustrative about how easily villains like myself can do things. “You can get much farther with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone.”

I was also surprised to find out the man possessed a wonderful sense of humor like when he said, in reference to the suburbs of Chicago, “This is virgin territory out here for whorehouses.”

But back to the kind word and a gun, and I didn’t bring this up to knock guns yet again. Guns were an example. Force. Fists with sheaths of energy, knives, extortion, blackmail, political influence, huge wads of cash, gritty cigar-smoking llamas with katanas strapped to their hooves; all of it makes your goals happen more easily.

I think by now you’ve seen that I don’t like Hephaestus and I’ve been working against them. I’ve built up an arsenal of dirty tricks, some of which can be wielded with all the power and authority of a man with a shotgun informing a younger man that he will be doing right by a knocked up daughter. Like the virus. I meant a virus was a dirty trick, not that daughters are viruses. Well, maybe Rhea from King Lear, but only because she was such a goner.

Joking aside, it was more like a Trojan in that it left me a backdoor into the communications network. I dived in with a computer that wasn’t part of my brain and pinged the whole thing. It took a bit of time, but I expected they will eventually catch on to how their businesses got exposed.

The chatter was interesting as well once I spent some time listening. After that, I set up a program to identify various words of interest in different languages, including my name. The computer archives a transcript for me to review later.

“Comms unit” has been established as a catch all term for various methods of wireless communications, but I lucked out stealing this thing from Gorilla Badass. The radios I ran across had too short a range to be useful for this, and the computers sent stuff via the internet. I never would have been able to handle a check of the entire world wide web including the deep and dark webs. Hell, even cell phones were too widespread to be useful, but their network and encryption has been cracked before. This lovely little belt-mounted receiver and earbud setup made things much easier.

If I’d thought about it, I could have done all this sooner and much more effectively.

Monday provided an opportunity to put my speaking and threatening skills to work. Monday, I gave Ouroboros a call. For those who don’t remember, Ouroboros was the guy I briefly worked for back in Paradise City, a party and tourism city on the gulf coast of northwest Florida. Everything went fairly well until a hero I attacked dropped hints about the Wishing Stick. It was a stick that granted wishes, a fairly easy concept to grasp, and Ouroboros kept it in the vault under his casino with other valuable prizes.

Bullshit. After a pitiful attempt to ignite a gang war between the others vying for a piece of Paradise City, I was captured by Ouroboros to be handed over to a super group of heroes called Shieldwall who were up my ass like a condom full of cocaine. A big fight broke out and I escaped, but I broke the Wishing Stick when it turned out that it refused to grant wishes for morally reprehensible people. For his efforts, Ouroboros got an F-bomb dropped on his city in one of the last jobs before those illegal flyers got arrested and convicted of their general flight hooliganry.

Ouroboros and I didn’t have much to talk about, but Hephaestus got on both of our bad sides. I thought that was enough. One problem: I lacked a giant screen. It has been awhile, so I’ll remind y’all that a giant screen is a big monitor that allows two-way visual and audio communication in an impressive and intimidating way. Handy for making demands. Many established villains have been known to make use of them. I heard the UN keeps a few handy as well. I haven’t nailed down whether they have them to just receive demands or if it’s because some of their members like to make the demands. Except North Korea. It was well established, after the latest Kim took power and he tried to threaten the South Koreans, that they don’t let North Korea access their screen. On the plus side, I heard that the Starcraft II multiplayer map the South Koreans painstakingly crafted in his likeness was real popular for a couple of months.

I was too far away to steal a screen from the United Nations in Empyreal City, so I had to improvise. I had to use the tiny little television set set into the wall cabinets of the trailer. I gave it a camera and a receiver to make it useable for my purposes.

I dressed in my armor to actually make the call. It was a formal thing. People like Ouroboros were way too into protocols for my taste, but I wanted him to do what I wanted him to do. Ouroboros didn’t pick up when I called. Instead, there was a woman of Asian ancestry in a black dress that covered her cleavage filing her nails. She didn’t seem to notice the screen at first. She gave her nails a few more good rakes of the file while calling out to someone in Japanese.

“Yo, Tokyo Rose. Yoo hoo. Hi there.” I waved. Her lack of response had me worried that something was up with the camera. My concerns were allayed by a response, finally, as the woman set her file down, crossed her arms, and looked squarely at me.

In English touched by boredom and a hint of an accent, she asked, “How can I help you?”

“I’m calling for Ouroboros if he’s still alive. Tell him it’s Psycho Gecko and we have something to discuss.”

That got a little bit of urgency out of her. Muttering something with the vitriol of a cuss word under her breath, she stood and walked out of view. I didn’t see her again, but it wasn’t long before Ouroboros appeared. His black-scaled bodysuit looked untouched by the brawl that occurred last time I was in his city. I couldn’t see his eyes behind the portion that covered them and much of his face before curving down into two large fang portions on either side of his mouth. He had his curved ivory knives looped through his belt on either side of his hips. He didn’t bother taking them out as he sat in front of the screen.

“Oury! How good to see you again. New secretary?”

“My organization had room for growth and advancement. She dislikes you enough without you calling her a secretary. You didn’t call to discuss my job openings. We left each other on too bad of terms to go into that again. Does this call pertain to recent news of you going to war with the people who made me what I am today?”

I couldn’t read much emotion off him with only the mouth to go by, and he kept that stoic. I thought he was amused, but he could have been annoyed at the same time.

“It does, in fact. I’m sure you’re aware that I’ve done more than kick them out of just one city. It’s their own fault, really. Even with you trying to turn me over to a gang of heroes that probably would have stuck me in a hole deep underground, you still paid me for my work. As well you should have, considering how Black Raptor, your errant do-gooder, flew off to go help my enemies. Well, Hephaestus didn’t pay, so now they’re gonna pay.”

Ouroboros held up a finger on one hand. “Well said. What does this have to do with me and my business ventures?”

I clasped my hands together under my chin. “Weeeeeeeeeell, I don’t know how much it affects your business at this point, but it may affect your diet if the presence of Hephaestus facilities in Paradise City leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth.”

He leaned forward, lip twitching. “You can confirm this?”

“Hey, Anaconda Part Infinite, I’m nowhere near your city. I can’t go up and do the recon, but what is it going to cost you to have some people check into a couple of businesses?”

He leaned back. “I’m not chasing wild geese because you want to be a jackass.”

“You will, my good man, you certainly will. I know that they have something on the grounds of the Paradise City Aviation Airport, which appears to be a private airfield. I would guess they were testing planes there or teaching some flying, but oddly enough that appears to be it as far as bases go. What’s stranger are the transmissions off a number of buoys in the water that get routed through some sort of local weather station. Aside from that, it’s mostly just individual chatter from a few well-placed individuals, including some pain in the ass called Shryer who has been monitoring you.”

Ouroboros steepled his fingers. “That is a lot of specific information that can be checked. If they are here, they are mine to deal with.”

I maintained a jovial tone as I spoke. “They’d better be, or I’ll pay you a visit and wipe them out. It’ll be a surgical strike, like when someone removes an entire limb to get rid of gangrene. Really, all I want is Hephaestus to get their teeth kicked in wherever possible. I think we’re of like mind about that.”

That was the gun to my “kind word and a gun” approach. Ouroboros definitely didn’t want me visiting again.

He nodded slowly. “For now, at this time, yes. I will have my people look into this. You stay away and do whatever else you do. Go bother them elsewhere?”

“Any recommendations?” I asked, projecting eyelashes and torn-out puppydog eyes over my visor. I blinked them a few times.

“You are so good at tracking them, I doubt you need my help. Make sure you visit Three Mile Island soon, though I hear they’ve gone Hollywood to bilk celebrities out of their money. I can not imagine what they do out there unless they found a way to provide inconspicuous abilities to people with more money than sense. It suits the style of the head of Hephaestus, anyway. He had a lot of ambition and a desire to know important people.”

I shot finger guns his way. “Bang bang! That’s what happened to the old boss, I hear. Don’t know if that’s who you meant, but they have some new guy in charge who likes to pick on poor, defenseless supervillains like myself. Oh well, think of me as karma’s bitch-whippin’ stick on this one.”

“Hmm,” was all Ouroboros said about that.

“Anyway, y’all have your fun down there and I’ll find my own fun up here. And remember: put your boot on, then insert it into a rectum. Unless you like having dirty feet. Not my fetish.”

I cut the feed. That went surprisingly well. I needed to inform Moai of our new destination. It, though I often think of it as a he, was outside, trying to rustle up some grub and grilling. I kicked the door open to find him by the cheap grill that Holly had picked up for the trailer way back near the beginning of this roguish road trip. He grabbed a plate and threw it at me like a frisbee. The burger on it flew apart but I caught the patty. Slipping off my helmet with my other hand, I began to chow down on the cheese-covered meat disk. “Thanks, Moai. So, how’s the grilling going?”

He turned back toward the grill, over which an Indian man was tied to a rotating spit. No one was likely to complain about the sight as we were parked inside this old building that had never been completed. It was a solid, imposing edifice of concrete and rebar. It was also mostly private, save for kids and the occasional graffiti artist.

The man on the spit mumbled for attention through the whoopee cushion covering his mouth. I stepped over to him and looked him over. He was a new arrival to the city that had been transferred to work at the urinalysis clinic’s lab at a bad time. Upon arriving in Memphis and driving by his new place of work, he found it cordoned off by the police. It was his call in to ask for further instructions that tipped me off to him. Nobody else could have known he was around.

Now, he spun around, picking up a nice tan as the heat from the flames streamed over his body. I set my helmet down and pulled a cooler over. I took a bottle of water from it and poured it out over the prisoner’s face to help keep him awake, then sat back on the cooler. “Well, look at you. You’re certainly a rare find in captives. Don’t worry, you’ll be well done before long. Maybe even buffalo style. Moai, remove the gag.”

Moai shuffled by between me and the unfortunate scientist. When I next saw the other man’s face, his mouth was free of the whoopee cushion. “What do you want?” he groaned.

“My own pet Tyrannosaurus Rex and world peace. I’ll settle for information about Hephaestus.”

“I don’t…” he started to say, then trailed off. “Fuck. You-you already know. I’m just a research technician, but I’ll tell you as much as I can.”

“They have a base in California?”

He dropped his head as if to nod, but he was at the lower part of his rotation and didn’t bother to raise it again. “Yeah, they have a huge operation in Hollywood providing powers on the down low. Things that won’t be noticed like great bodies or high drug tolerances. They even stopped some movie stars from aging.”

I had been enjoying the hot beef in my hand, but I stopped to question him. “Got an address for me?”

His head dipped from side to side. “No. Never worked there.”

I splashed some more water on him in thanks.“How about this Three Mile Island place I heard about?”

He closed his eyes as he was turned with his face toward the sky. “You’re good. The complex under that nuclear plant is secret, with some of the highest protocols to keep people from finding out. People stay away on their own after the meltdown in Generator Two back in ‘79, but the other is still functional. It provides energy and a spot where nobody wants to wander around.”

I walked over to the grill and turned the heat down. “What’s the place studying? If I walk in there, what will try and bite my head off?”

“Radiation and how it’s used in combination with catalysts to create mutations and superpowers in people and animals. I don’t know about security. They have the test subjects, I guess, but they’re inconsistent. Sometimes they turn out bad. Real bad. I can’t get you in. I’m not cleared for it anymore and they change passwords all the time!”

I patted him on the head, then lifted up the spit and set him on the ground. “I believe you. Moai, help our friend here out of those handcuffs and help him stand up.”

“Thank you, thank you, oh thank you. I won’t tell anyone about this. God bless you.” He was real chatty as Moai released him, but then he stood there, eyeing both of us and rubbing at his wrists. “Can I go?”

I waved him off. “Yeah, go ahead. Enjoy the rest of your life.”

His eyes grew wide and he almost skipped as he ran away.

“Alright, Moai, let’s get this stuff packed up. We’re heading to the site of a nuclear meltdown.”

He helped me toss the ice and water from the cooler out onto the grill to put it out, then we picked it into the trailer. He took the back as I slid into the driver’s seat. With a flick of a switch and the selection of a program, the car shifted in appearance thanks to the its own adaptive camouflage.

Before, it looked like a black ‘51 Hudson Hornet with orange trim. Now, I appeared to be driving my own pimptastic, gold 1967 Cadillac Coupe de Ville with a single deep purple stripe down the center of the vehicle. The trailer looked the same, but that couldn’t be helped.

I drove out of there, checked around, and found what I was looking for. The released technician, running to freedom. I turned and sped for him. He never even knew what hit him. Just made a thumping noise, rolled along the hood and up the windshield. Then he smacked against the trailer, fell under it, and acted as a minor speed bump for the trailer’s right side tires.

I turned to Moai and shrugged. “That didn’t take long. He probably enjoyed it.”

Three Mile Island, here we come; out of the grill and into the nuclear reactor.




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.



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.




Two Tickets to Paradise 10

Fuck me.

Before you get any ideas, readers, that’s not an invitation.

I’m supposed to be a bad guy. I’m supposed to be kicking asses and carving names onto tombstones. Problem is, my plans are getting their metaphorical asses kicked.

I put all this work into trying to kill these people, and you think they appreciate it? No! They hate it. This lack of gratitude is almost enough to make me go be a pacifist.

It’s not just been a bad few days. It’s been an entire bad trip. Is it me, do you think? Plans failing, people living. It’s hard to claim this is just a few unfortunate events.

The fuck am I talking about? This crap doesn’t belong here. Is this called “Saddy McSadpants in Retrospect?” I didn’t think so. You want to see me sit around and moan to myself about how awful it is that people hate me and try to make superpowers into some sort of curse? Power? Sounds good. Responsibility? I’ll wait for the other people to take it first.

I don’t go there. There’s a huge number of places you can go to if you want to see heroes moping about having the ability to save lives and make a difference in the world. If you want your tortured, brooding villains just trying to get by and do what they think is best for everyone, that’s not me either.

I’m here because some of you have recognized that it’s not just awesome to have superpowers, it’s fucking awesome! That’s right, it’s awesome on a level normally reserved for the stimulation of your genitalia by another human being. Or animal. I’m not judging, though I do suggest you at least use condoms. I hear there’s a chance diseases could jump across the genetic gap there. Congratulations, Billy and Mrs. Goat. You had a bouncing baby virus. It causes babies to bounce.

Now, where were we…oh, yeah, I was covering myself in awesome sauce and posing seductively on a polar bear fur rug, because icy you can’t help but stare.
What you would have been staring at over the past few days was my attempt to get my wits about me and finalize some deals. Now after awesoming myself back up, I have to go talk about everything that makes me sound like some pitiful depressed worm. I had to talk in person with the Yakuza and the Cartel. Problem was, the heroes made a big damn announcement.

I don’t get what’s with all the press conferences, but they sure know how to use them to screw me over. Their original plan to replace me was thwarted by my impressive ability to talk while someone drives a car into them. They figured out a different way to screw me over. Right there by the podium, Shieldwall welcomed their undercover villain into the fold.

Psycho Gecko had apparently had some big change of heart after Memphis and was trying to repay his debt to society, blah, blah, blahdiddly blah there neighboroony, something something probation and alert the cops if you see him walking around without a hero. They got my attention when they mentioned his aid in the capture of the notorious Mix N’Max before they arrived in Paradise City. “You didn’t think we just sat around doing nothing, did you?” Venus said into the camera and gave a wink.

I was minutes away from meeting with the Cartel. I saw the heroes, their pet robot, and the wannabe me on a TV screen of an electronics store and had Moai let me out to watch this. Chop my knees out from under me, why don’t you? Here, you want a butter knife to shove up the stumps?

I still went to meet the Cartel. They’re used to being a part of undercover operations and politics, I thought. Of course they wouldn’t be confused by some idiot like that in a stolen suit. They could clearly see I didn’t have my suit with me.

They welcomed me to the warehouse of their “cooking supply company.” Oh yeah, they’ll help you cook. Baking soda, sugar, flour, even that sugared powder for donuts, they have it all there. They showed me up some ramps to an office overlooking the place. The fellow who led me in was all smiles, motioned for me to sit, then offered to go look for that pockmarked guy I was supposed to be talking to.

Someday, I’d really like to learn more about all these people I run into. Guys like this, I’ll see a few times and that’s it. I haven’t even delved a whole lot into the lives of the people in Shieldwall. Then again, they haven’t delved too much into me either. Even when Venus and I chat, we can’t get too far into a conversation. I guess it’s like dealing with everybody else. You run into people every day. You even work with people every day. How many of them do you actually know, though?

I guess you could say I was trying to understand the stupidity of the man who shot me in the head.

I was just sitting back, maxing, relaxing all cool, thinking of playing the Cartel for a fool, when some armored guy who wants to be dead, started firing rounds at my head. I got right back up off the floor and the guy got scared and said, “Today Terribilis takes you out for the betrayal that you dared.”

Sadly, the resulting fight did not end in my becoming Prince of Bel-Air. I stood up, dropping the illusion that I was unarmored. Like I was really going to show up to another meeting without it. This man in a bulky suit of power armor dropped from the rafters from where he’d pumped a few rounds my way. There being a perfectly good window between myself and a drop to the floor, I took the obvious route down. I crashed through the window he’d shot holes in and I hit the stealth.

I know, you’re thinking this is all leading up to yet another fight. Once more into the breach.

It did, just not for me. It turns out that when you have an enormous crowd of people out for your blood, you also have some control over them. The heroes didn’t want to negotiate. That’s fine. They just wanted to catch me and they couldn’t just ignore me when I called up Venus, who really needs to change her number by now, and told Boopsie that I was in the middle of a Cartel warehouse full of cocaine. If I wasn’t stopped soon, I might grab a whole bunch of that powder and fumigate the city.

She hated me and she knew that I was using them. She also knew she had to bring the hammer down on that warehouse.

“We’ll see how fast we can zip in to save the day, but you’ll understand if we don’t hurry into a trap. Where are you?” her voice came over the phone, followed by a grunt of exertion. I was hiding against the wall, watching Terribilis march around firing off magnetic weights. They’d occasionally hit on something metal, like a knife or a colander, and smack it down good, but he had a way to draw it back in. He also had a rifle attachment and at least one minigun. Except a small minigun. A mini-minigun. Isn’t the name minigun one of the worst attempts at naming ever?

It must be one of those ironic nicknames, like if you called a basketball player “Shorty”.

“I’m over in the warehouse district. Big warehouse-looking building. I think Sunshine Baking is the front company. Oh how I so want to be captured and brought to justice so I can do good things for people. You busy?”

“We’re raiding a warehouse full of consumer electronics. Yakuza knock-offs and stolen merchandise.”

“Huh. It’s not at Binary Entertainment Distributors is it?” I asked while reviewing the footage of my approach to the place. A stray round, fired at random, punched through the wall next to me.

“What if it is?” queried Venus. I could almost imagine her piledriving some hapless thug with one hand while holding up her phone with the other. Isn’t she lovely?

“If it is, then you’re right across the street. See you in a few minutes,” I said and then hung up. I threw the frog-named power armor a bone to keep him interested before I got out of there. And by bone, I mean a pair of stink bombs. I hear they have catfish tosses around here, only without the exploding into a foul smelling cloud at the end.

Of course they didn’t catch the place with me in it. They barely caught Terribilis. I only stuck around at all to risk capture because I was hoping the thief would be in attendance. Sadly, he was tardy. The Red White Blue Kid-Boy-Guy-Dude-Whatever was with them though. Nice to see my enemies’ recruiting efforts are going much better than my own.

The twist that made this all the worse for me, though, was that they leaked edited portions of the call and praised me for helping them take down two such important criminal enterprises in one day.

That’s why I got some very dirty looks walking into the casino with Moai. Security was there, supers were there. There were even beat-up members of other gangs hanging around. Torrent stepped in front of me and tried to stop me. He started to say something about not being welcome. I was in no mood to not be welcome. One illusionary me ran around his left, one around his right. A third slid between his legs and one stood still in front of him. I jumped over him and headed for the bar. Moai went around him and wasn’t stopped because I was Torrent’s focus.

The security guy shot me a dirty look as I ordered a White Russian. I kept an eye on him as I turned my head away. I saw him in my 360 view as he mixed in some rat poison. Torrent gathered a squad of men and approached. I turned and went to grab my drink, then threw it back like I was drinking it, only I threw it behind me. Poison and all, it landed on Torrent’s face. While he was busy coughing, I grabbed the two nearest guards and brought them in close with my arms around their shoulders.

“I’m so glad to have friends like y’all, who are so kind and understanding when I get slandered by evil untrustworthy servants of public justice. I suppose if I didn’t have friends like you, I’d have to TEAR OFF YOUR OWN ASSES AND BEAT YOU TO DEATH WITH THEM!”

That reminds me, I like the move Warriors of Virtue. Komodo especially. Good role model if you like cheese. I do. It treats me well. I don’t know if it adds to my reputation, but it just feels right to me. Looking at it now, though, perhaps I should enunciate it a little differently. It loses something how that is. Something to work on next time I’m yelling at people, I guess.

I saw Ouroboros step out of the VIP section with some man in black with too many pouches who packed an unusual rife of unusual size. He whispered something to the man, reinforcements probably, and this new guy went back into the VIP room.

“You’ve betrayed us,” Torrent said, wiping his face with his sleeve.

“I’ve betrayed no one. The heroes are lying. You people deal with intrigue all the time and now you start believing your enemies are telling the truth?”

“Gecko, calm down. Everyone, calm down,” Ouroboros said, trying to defuse the situation, “I believe you. The heroes I’ve dealt with were little better than thugs in costumes, but you,” he smiled. A hole appeared in the wall of the VIP room. Something stung my neck through the costume.

As I fell, everything growing darker, I saw Moai began to kick ass.  Torrent threw off his coat and approached my faithful minion. Damn Ouroboros. Didn’t even drink and he roofied me.

I awoke to find myself in a very solid cell with one clear wall on it. I had a headache and cottonmouth and my costume still on, oddly enough. I sat up and began to get my strength under me to stand up. That’s when I found out I had steel gauntlets that enclosed my hands on, joined by heavy chains to shoulder pads and a thing around my waist, down to ones around my thighs and to some around the calves of my boots. My range of movement was severely restricted. I could still get up and walk around though, thanks to my armor. I paced the room, getting a sense of what I was dealing with as far as escaping. Maybe 5 minutes after I stood up, I had Ouroboros paying me a visit.

“Well, well, well, if it isn’t my bargaining chip. You started to worry us. That sometimes happens. Powers can warp a person’s body and change their reactions to certain chemicals. You’re welcome for the armor. I took your toys, but you strike me as the kind of man to leave a surprise for anyone who would drag you out of that getup.”

I shook my head, still knocking away some fogginess. “Moai?”

“We have him in a pair of cement shoes. He’ll make a good fountain ornament.”

“Betraying me doesn’t end well for you, you know.”

“You betrayed me first. It was ok for a novice at this sort of game. I knew about the heroes and Columbians and Japanese. It wasn’t entirely a bad plan, though. You’re still the star. You’re just not cut out to handle wheeling and dealing with the rest of us.”

“When’s the ambush?”

“Tomorrow night, I think. We prefer the night around here and I need time to get my temporary allies prepared for battle.”

“This worked out well for you as far as the other gangs, didn’t it?”

“Oh yes, quite.”

“What if I survive that little battle?”

“Then we’ll dump you outside of town. I’m not a barbarian. I don’t hold any ill will toward you despite your laughable attempt to undermine me. I just want the heroes and my rivals gone. It would behoove you to aid those efforts in your current state lest the heroes get you after all. Though I suppose you could run for the city limits instead when all hell breaks loose.”

I raised my hands and brought them closer to my face. He tilted his head, “What?”

“You got a little something. Right there,”

He reached up to his face and rubbed at his mask. I shook my head and lifted my hands again, “A little higher.”

He rubbed again, then looked down at his palm. “Did I get it?”

“No, it’s sticky, I think. I think you got a booger. Here,” I raised my arms, “I can get it for you.”

He smiled a thin smile, “Of all the nuisances I’ve dealt with you’re one of the more amusing ones, Psycho Gecko. If you survive, don’t return. You will no longer be so amusing.”

He left then, leaving me to try and come up with new cuss words and figure out how to work some of those transmitters that were part of my brain, spine, and armor. I wanted to add the blogging device to my body as well, but the lack of nanites nixed that idea. Instead, I’ll just have to make do with having it set up in the ole SUV and connecting remotely.

In the meantime, I just have to fight my way past three criminal organizations, a group of heroes with military contractor support, all of whom do not like me at all right now, and free Moai from a horrible life of being a gaudy casino decoration. If you don’t hear from me again, then I want you to go bug some stories I read in my honor.

See you next time, folks.



Two Tickets to Paradise 8

After the 5th time that I asked Torrent if they were done yet, I could tell he was ready to have me thrown out of the casino. “C’mon, man, if they aren’t going to let me in there, they at least can have the courtesy to talk less. I don’t see what all the negotiating has to be about. Heroes are here, they must be driven out. If not, they get to settle their differences in the prison showers for the rest of their lives.”

Torrent just shook his head.

I don’t feel bad about betraying him or the others. I know perfectly well what they’re doing behind closed doors. Ouroboros called a meeting of the gangs. Together, they’ve got the forces to drive the heroes out, but it will require cooperation. Problem is, they didn’t want to include me.

I’m something of an independent category as a hired killer from outside the city, but for some reason I wasn’t allowed a seat at the table. That’s because they’re going to debate throwing me at the enemy for a deal. With this crowd, if any of them are considering it, one of them is going to try it.

It’s inevitable. They think they’re so clever, but hiding and lying can be so predictable. At least the heroes are honest about things. They want us all beat, and any deal where I get traded is going to end with the villains betrayed and rounded up, I’m sure.

I stepped away to make my own deal. Even though the casino wasn’t doing any business right now, I cut the external comms so none of the gangsters or security guys would hear.

“Hello?” came a tired female voice.



“I always bring out the best in you, don’t I?

She hung up.

How rude. I called her back. “Boopserina! Wait a second, don’t hang up on me. I have something very important to talk to you about.”

“I don’t see what that could possibly be.”

“Paradise City cleared of gangs.”

“That doesn’t sound like your kind of offer,” she paused, “Why?”

“Not asking after the price first?”

“I think the ‘why’ is more important where you’re concerned.”

“Aww, that’s sweet. Trying to get in my head,” I wasn’t going to say a thing about them almost certainly planning to betray me later, “I don’t really like them. All this drama. Villainy in suits. They have built this society of lies hoping to be the victors. The path to victory is easy to see and manipulate but the difficulty is in competing with others in the same shadowy battles. It’s like this story, about a girl and a boy and a medallion. Nevermind, you weren’t there for that. It would probably weird you out too. All these little societies seem to exist to keep those who are being wronged from taking the vengeance they are allowed.”

“They are a joke,” I continued, a part of me realizing I was venting, “and the punch line is when I rip them apart, those fragile little lies. I could tell you that I do it primarily to give everyone a better chance or to free the trod-upon masses, but it’s nothing so virtuous. I hate them. I destroy them. Piece by piece, if need be, with every superhuman killed and every time I get away. Every time I murder someone with a joke, I throw everything just a little more out of whack and give people a glimpse of a world that is, if not better, at least more fun.”

That was awkward. I went a little far there. I don’t get a chance to actually talk to people much, save for y’all, and I can’t exactly turn this into one big rant and expect you to stick around, can I? “You didn’t put this on speakerphone, did you?” I said to prompt a response from Venus.

“No. I don’t suppose you’ve ever had professional help, have you Gecko?”

I rolled my eyes. “Listen, I can help throw mess with these bozos, you guys swoop in, and all I ask is a chance to raid Ouroboros’s vault. If not a vault, then wherever he keeps all his stuff.”

“We’ll…consider it. No one’s going to want to take your word for anything, especially a deal like this.”

“As a show of good faith, I’ll point out that the Yakuza and Cartel leaders are in Ouroboros’s territory, along with some of their supers for bodyguards. Now would be the perfect time to start hitting condos and penthouses.”

“If it checks out, we’ll consider it. Keep in touch, Gecko.”

“Keep in touch? What’s that supposed to mean?” I waited a few seconds. “Hello? Did you hang up? Testing, one, two?”

Venus wants me calling her. Something’s going on. An alien invasion or dimensional doppelgangers. Clones, maybe? Pod people from outer space? What were you trying to tell me, Boopsie? What is going OOOONNNN?!

I was considering joining some of the Ouroboros Security guys for a few hands of poker, but the doors to the poker room opened up. The gangs hadn’t liked the suggestion of meeting in any formal meeting room prepared ahead of time by Ouroboros. Something about this time with a bear trap on a rope and a pet alligator.

I’d tell you the names of the leaders who stepped out, but I’d butcher them at best and at worst I’d arrive at something stereotypically wrong like “Jose Matsumoto” and as far as I know, neither guy is Peruvian. I gave a little wave as Shokushu and Suishou stepped out of the room. The names are apparently Japanese for Tentacle and Crystal, respectively. Because what I really needed was Japanese people finding this blog while looking for things involving tentacles. It was bad enough that “Domination” is in the name and I tie people up.

So the two Yakuza guys ignored me, as did a few other of their suits. One older man quietly said something to one of his guys who stepped over to me and told me that my presence was requested the next day.

Same sort of thing happened when the Cartel passed by, except I had no beaten supers to wave to. That’s just sad. I really ought to change that.

I approached Ouroboros after they had left, “Alright, how much did you get for my head on a platter?”

“You think I’d throw you under the bus?”

“I don’t know how Shieldwall found out I was here, but it’s screwing up everything for y’all. I wasn’t even let into this planning meeting. They don’t want to just throw me under the bus. They want to throw me under an exploding bus full of sharks. Giant sharks with huge balls and they’re going to teabag my corpse. I think Torrent already tried to, actually.”

It was hard to get a read on him with his eyes hidden behind that mask but I imagined an eyebrow was raised as he asked, “Why do you think that?”

“Somebody sent Yakuza after me while I was prepping for all that stuff at the bank. I even complained to Torrent about it. I show up at his house when I found out everything’s going down and I find a bunch of Yakuza in there, including two of the guys at this meeting. Torrent’s a threat, and the MPAA will back me up on that.”

“I’m in no hurry to have you handed to the heroes. You’ve done good work for me. I don’t think I congratulated you on a job well done against Black Raptor, by the way. I’m not in the mood for someone going over my head to superheroes when they don’t like what’s going on in my city, so don’t worry. But, incidentally, the plan we initially came up with was to offer you to them and then attack them at the exchange in one massive showdown.”

My first thoughts were that he was out to get me. He wants to hand me over. I know it. I know it! See why I hate all these conspiracies? See?! They’re out to get me. They’re all out to get me!

“Don’t you have any sorts of super weapons…anything at all you could commit a few war crimes with? I think something like that would be much better. Less risk of me finding a knife in my back,” I steered O away from the idea of giving me up.

“Anything like that, I keep here, in the basement vault.”

“I suppose you could part with one and still be feared. What do you have?”

“There’s the Nausea Transmitter, the Guardian of Gold, the Hunter-Spiders, this plasma cannon the size of a spot light from when those space marines attacked Empyreal City. I would even take the vault itself into battle against them if I could,” he grinned at that. That’s the grin of a proud owner of an AK-BFG right there.

“Always fun to smash someone over the head with an entire room.”

“I didn’t mean it that way. Let’s just say that if they ever break through to the floor here, they’ll be in for a surprise.”

“Yes, like a Rabbi finding out the prostitute he hired is a man who hasn’t been circumcised. It gives me an idea about your rivals, the other gangs. Bring them back here for a nice little celebration after the fight. That way, you can get them all drunk and then whip out some of those things real quick to cut off the heads,” I said. It’s off the cuff, like a lot of my work, but chances are good that this vault is the place he’s storing the Wish Stick. Some people want immortality by becoming legends. Screw that. I want to live forever. All I hear are people complaining about how it would suck, but no one who has said that was an immortal themselves. They’re rare group of people. Some have suggested there can be only one.

“They’ll never go for it.”

“I don’t suppose this could be where you hand me over, then? It was considered safe enough for the other gangs to show up.”

“I’ll take that under advisement. You’d be wise to prepare for everything. We’re all calling in markers and getting prepared. Each of the interests here has enough manpower that we could fight off the heroes together. Everyone’s main concern is to beat the others afterward. All of this hinges on having you as bait, though, so if it’s not too much trouble, try to force their hands. You have a reputation for being uncooperative with schedules, so it won’t be out of character for you. After all, they’re going to go behind my back and meet with you. We might as well use that to our advantage.”

Needless to say, Moai and I didn’t sleep at the casino’s hotel portion. I’d say something about it having a hotel, but at this point I don’t care as much about making fun of a secret casino that has an attached hotel. No, I’m more impressed by the balls it took to build the hotel too. That’s style. This guy really could get away with murder here. Well, yeah, he definitely could. He brought me in.

But seriously, he’s out to get me and I will feast on his traitorous entrails.

Over the next couple of days, I had all these damn meetings to juggle. First was the Yakuzas who actually had some nice things to say about me. We hung out in the VIP section of a bar they owned. Nice guys. Might do a little tech thievery work for them in the future if I don’t have to gut them like pigs. Forgive me for skipping over all that was said and done, but the business part was pretty much about helping them angle for supremacy. Yes, it would be a shame if something happened to Ouroboros during this crisis. I also may have namedropped some exceedingly powerful doohickeys in Ouroboros’s possession.

“We do not know of these, but if it is as you say, then it will be vital to secure this in order to maintain control of the city,” the lieutenant told me. Once again, his name slips my mind, but this guy was coordinating Yakuza activities with other groups in the city, so they had him entertaining me.

“The thrust of it is that you and I working together, we can get in there and we can get in there deep. There are enough toys in there to keep the city on its knees. Working together, we can get our hands on Ouroboros’s junk!”

“Our plan should reflect this change in priorities.”

“Yes, I think the handoff should occur in the casino itself. That’s the most likely place for the vault. Have people in reserve to move on it, that way we don’t have to split up and come at it from two different sides. The anticipation is great, but let’s not go off prematurely. I have some more groundwork I need to lay on my end.”

I had a hell of a time talking it up with them, and with the Cartel at dinner earlier tonight.

“The short and long of it is the stick is the only thing I care about. It may be hard, but I think we can penetrate his vault during all the fighting. If we can lead the whole group there, I think we can even bust in through the front. It’s the most difficult to get to open up for you, but there’s nothing like seeing it spread out, all inviting, right through the entrance. Now, let’s not go off half-cocked. I know y’all want to lay them out for the count, but I still need to ensure I have all the toys I need to bring this to a satisfying conclusion.”

Great. Now I just need to get the heroes on board.

Whole plot gave me a headache too. I asked the waitress to bring by a bottle of Vodka. She started to ask about being carded, but the pony-tailed man with the pock-marked face next to me glared at her and she brought it by without any trouble. Nothing relieves your headache and keeps a bunch of jovial drug dealers on your side quite like smashing a bottle into your own face and falling unconscious at the dinner table.

Sure, I woke up a few minutes later while they were tossing me in a dumpster behind the place wrapped in the tablecloth, but I felt more like myself than I had since the heroes showed up.




Two Tickets to Paradise 7

When we left off last, there had been a sudden knock at my door. I answered the door to find that there was a package for me. It was my ass! Then it was handed to me.

Ok, so it was more like I got hit with a big hammer, was surrounded by a group of powerful heroes, and had to escape the quick way down the side of a building, but you see how good you feel after your ass is hammered.

Thanks to Miss Tycism, I spent quite awhile in bad shape. Which reminds me, while I was being driven around, I had an idea. Receivers linked to nerves lower in my spine. That way, if I break a neck, I can just use a network to control my body. That’ll be perfect, once I get my stuff back.

Yeah…that’s another thing. Moai kept me on the move for about a day afterward while I mended. We tried checking the motel, but they were already there. Moai had to prop a door open so I could watch as those Peace agents crawled over it with a squad of Shieldwall capes nearby. They carried out my tools, my nanites, all of it. It was such a horrible sight and I just couldn’t stand it. I had to lay down because of the paralysis and broken spine.

I had more broken bones in me than the winner of the Miss Kegel Bodybuilding Competition.

I found a place to hide, though. Somewhere a man can lay down near a giant Moai with the lights too dim to make out his face. That place was the champagne room of a bar named Babes where the women are really friendly and like to dance on stage for money. It was win/win. I got a safe place to stay, and who doesn’t want to put young women through college?

Like Miranda here. She grew up in a state without a good education system, without clean water, and with too much fast food to eat. Sometimes she doesn’t even have enough clothes to keep herself covered. For just $80 a day, you can help Miranda pursue a college degree and make something of herself. Won’t you give to a needy stripper today?

Besides, the more women go into stripping, the less chance one of them will put on a costume and punch me in the face.

Thanks to Moai’s skills at breaking into electronics stores and the help of a couple of dancers’ nimble hands, I was able to get my suit in good enough working order. It helps that I get a better sense of its how its doing when I slip it on and get all melded to it. I lost some gear in the fall too. I still have some chicken grenades, my potato peeler, and my ballistic knife. We lost Mr. 2nd Degree Burns though. I sent Moai out to raid a seafood restaurant so I could put together some more stink bombs. I’ve made one out of catfish before, but that was my first time working with mullet. Yes, I said mullet. It’s not just the name of a hairstyle.

From there, Moai and I needed to get a sense of what was going on. The radio in the SUV provided a little context to our situation. Shieldwall arrived out of nowhere and began busting heads. They hammered away at illegal enterprises and even the police were starting to come around and assist. The city’s villains had gone silent and the few heroes had been emboldened, fighting alongside Shieldwall. Hell, it was daytime. That alone would make most people stop fighting around here.

I almost feel like somehow I created the monster that is Shieldwall. They’ve taken stalking to a new level. Now, like anyone who created a monster, the steps to go through are running from them, cockblocking them, becoming depressed, then chasing them around to kill them after they murder my wife who was also my sister. It’s a basic plan as laid out in that Frankenstein book by that guy, what’s his name, the scientist. Victor.

The radio didn’t have a whole lot to tell me and I was flying blind, so I went to pay Torrent a visit.

Had I been anyone other than myself, that would have been a bad idea. There were cars there, but no one to greet me. I let myself and Moai in to find the place unresponsive as well, up until we turned a corner into the kitchen. There I found a squad of Asian men in suits, except for one squat fellow without the shirt and jacket on. He and the taller, thinner man next to him were the only unarmed ones out of the bunch.

See, this is why you don’t leave old sake laying out. You forget about and go somewhere, next thing you know you’ve got a Yakuza infestation skittering around your kitchen.

The ones with the guns, Uzis this time as opposed to the mini versions, spread out behind cover to get firing arcs without their friends in them. Of the other two, the thinner guy raised his hands. The middle of his palms had what looked like giant blisters. They opened and a tentacle speared out of each. Moai threw himself in front of me. There was a fleshy twang as they impacted the hard stone and found no give at all.

A crystal flew at Moai and chipped a piece off him. It held itself there in midair, then flew back to join with the shoulder of the shirtless Yakuza. He launched another from his cheek. It broke off like he was a porcelain figure or something. The flesh-covered crystal was aimed right at Moai’s head, but I swatted it aside with a minimal charge to my glove. Instead of shatter, it curved and flew back to the Yakuza.

While I was busy with that, the tentacle guy had wrapped those fleshy lengths around my legs. The Yakuza guy broke into nothing but shards and flew at me, one at a time. I dodged some. Hitting them away didn’t work. They stuck there, jagged edges stabbing into the air or into my armor, then shifted slightly and reformed into the Yakuza. He smiled down at me as I was in a bent over position from trying to dodge.

I wiped that smile off his face by uppercutting him in the balls. He let out a groan. “Looks like those shatter.” Moai jumped and bellyflopped onto the tentacles against the ground. The tall gangster began to shriek. I didn’t think he could get louder but he proved me wrong as Moai began to roll along the length of the tentacles like rolling up a toothpaste tube. The tentacles’ grip around my calves and ankles let up and I drove my knee into this shard guy’s nut sack. I then threw him onto the countertop and slammed my elbow into his crotch. There was a nice chrome toaster nearby. Grabbed it, threw it into the guy’s nuts. I heard them open fire on Moai, but didn’t worry about it as I turned the Yakuza toward me, spread his legs, jumped, and landed a giant headbutt between them with a giant crack as the countertop underneath the Japanese gangster cracked. After that, all I heard was the gurgle of the man. When I looked up, tentacle dude was pulling himself and a broken leg over the sink to get away, dragging flattened tentacles behind him. A few of the Yakuza had bloody foreheads and scrambled to stand back up as others moved to help tentacle guy or just get out of the way.

“Whoa now, hold up guys,” I said, holding out my hands, “Before anyone gets too beat up to speak, I just want to ask something. Where can we find Torrent? If y’all don’t know the answer to that one, would any of you mind telling me where Ouroboros’s casino is?”

The unpowered gangsters glanced at their fallen members with superpowers and exchanged a look.

Twenty minutes later, Moai and I pulled up outside the casino, which was in the middle of some remodeling. Torrent drove up from another direction and stepped out of his hummer to look at the site before us. One of Shieldwall’s jets hovered overhead with a cable and hook which they must have used to transport the giant robot that tore the place apart. That show “This Old House” has gone hardcore. It was taller than the doors would permit, so at least 9 feet. It had the reverse-style legs to it, like a bird, and arms that ended in three-digit claws. Clumsy, hydraulic-based stuff, like a skeleton or an unarmored exoskeleton. Except for the torso, that is. The torso could have been something I had thrown together if all I cared about was size. Armor plates with bands of armor to help deflect and funnel attacks fitted to a torso shape with a little bend allowed in how the upper and lower torso fitted together. The head of the thing had eyes that glowed red and a fanged mouth open in a roar.

It was busy throwing things at Ouroboros’s security, who were abandoning rifles and pulling out the light machine guns. I saw a man run out with two RPGs, dodge a slot machine thrown at him, and toss one launcher to a friend. They both fired. One blew apart a slot machine and an explosion sent coins flying everywhere. The other hit underneath the thing’s left shoulder. When the smoke cleared, the armor was scorched, but still solid. The arm above it was locked.

“Hey Torrent, think your guys are going to need a hand?” I called to the guy I was planning on setting up later.

“You think you’ll get paid for Raptor if the boss is arrested?”

“I think you and your guys will stop him in anyway, but it’ll take longer.”

“I’ll talk to the boss about a bonus if you help kick them out. The heroes are 10 minutes out hitting the Cartel. Our reinforcements will be here in 10.”

Moai and I shut our doors at the same time and began to walk across the street toward the robot. It had good range of vision too. It picked us up about halfway across and turned to look right at me.

Then it charged, throwing plants and chairs all over the place. A doorframe crumpled underfoot as it ran for me. I hit the stealth and left a hologram in my place as I got out of its path. It threw a punch that Moai leapt in front of, but Torrent jumped even in front of Moai. The punch connected with Torrent’s chest and Torrent bulged. It was like a massive wave of excess mass ran over his body before concentrating in his fist. He didn’t go flying or land on his ass or anything. The only way he budged after taking something full-power from the robot was when he took a step forward and slammed his huge fist into its midsection. As he did so, it became normal size again. It was the robot’s turn to stumble back, which worked for me. I got behind its legs, grabbed one, and threw it up even higher as it attempted to catch its balance. It fell on its back.

I revealed myself then. The robot sat upright suddenly. They must have programmed me as a priority target. It reached for me. If it wanted me, then the robot got what it wanted. Moai had come up right behind me. I grabbed him and swung, knocking its arm away with the bottom of the statue. As he, or maybe she as I never bothered to ask, landed, I was then picked up and swung the same way. My boots knocked its head to the side.

Torrent stepped in front of us once again, ready for another round. That was good, because when Moai set me down, I was too busy stumbling and rubbing at my poor achy shins. Before we could break off another piece of the robot, the jet maneuvered closer. Aside from showing off the size of the pilot’s sack, it brought the hook just over the robot. It grabbed the hook and the jet lifted, pulling it off the ground and away from us.

Torrent immediately began ordering the security staff around.

When another jet flew in with Shieldwall’s heroes sliding on a cable to the ground or taking aerial positions, they found the casino’s entrance fortified with trashed games. Behind that were security staff in riot gear with machine guns and RPGs. Behind them were Torrent, Moai, Ouroboros, and myself. They may have risked it, but more people began to arrive. A woman in a white cloak and hood held a white scythe in one hand and skated along the street on ice she generated from her other hand. A man in sweatshirt and baggy jeans holding a pair of spray cans walked up from another street. His mask was a bandana with holes cut in it. As he came across a car blocking his path, he sprayed at the hood. The paint condensed into a cloud and flew at the car, knocking it around and out of his way.

We all waited, the heroes eyeing us. It was the mother of all staring contests, except I didn’t know whose glare to return. I killed Forcelight’s adopted father, I blew Venus’s boyfriend into chunky bits, I gassed Honky Tonk Hero’s city, and I pantsed Miss Tycism. I hurt the other heroes there, but those were the ones keeping their eyes on me.

After an intense few minutes, they began to withdraw down a street where the jet could drop a ladder to the non-flyers it was picking up.

I climbed up the barricade and hollered after them, “Yeah, that’s what I thought! Now you fucked up! You have fucked up now! You brought an awful lot of ugly people out here to do nothing but sit around looking pretty! You know what the difference between you and your momma is? When she sucks this hard, she expects me to pay her afterward. That’s right, all your mommas!”



Two Tickets to Paradise 2

I take it back. This town doesn’t know how to treat a bad guy. Know how I know? Because there was a very large guy of Asian ancestry waiting for me and Moai at our room. We walked in, Moai leading the way, when this guy came out of nowhere and hit Moai. His fist, forearm, and bicep all bulged impossibly large on impact and the went back to their normal size as Moai crashed through the wall. After Moai made a swift egress through the drywall, I pulled out the chair of the small folding table I’d brought into our motel room and seated myself. Of course I invited my guest to do so as well. There’s no reason we couldn’t be civilized for two people probably about to get into a fight.

After all, I had breakfast. Do you know how rarely that happens? Not only did I wake up in time to go get breakfast, but there’s another super up at the same time? This is a rare event. I was expecting a rainbow to burst out of my room there at any second. It would fly across the city and some guy who has been down on his luck would follow it to see this miracle occur.

Then he’d probably die a horrible death.

And my guest is superhuman, obviously. Moai is too tough of a sparring partner as I well know, but this is you, the reader, that has to be informed. Not me. At least I don’t think. Maybe?

The guy’s big. Weightlifter big. He’s not in a costume, but he’s cultivated a mean glare that lets you know he’s not here to save the day. Also, he’s got a mullet. Something about superhumans draws out the individuality of people. Costumes are a well-known side effect, but sometimes you get choices that other people don’t agree with. Like the mullet hairstyle. Now, before you go assuming it’s a racial thing that I don’t think he could just be a local redneck, you have to remember that he’s not wearing camo. Instead, he had a tight black shirt on that was tucked into black pants.

Another clear sign he’s not a baseline human. It’s summer outside, we’re in Florida, and this guy’s wearing all black?

So I munched on my biscuit and offered him one of the others I had with me. For those of you reading from the UK or from a world ruled by it, this is not your type of biscuit. This is like bread. It has cheap sausage and a thin, folded up grilled egg on it with something orange that can only legally be referred to as a “cheese product” on top. To add insult to injury, it still tastes better than your breakfast food.

You guys will probably like that he swatted my hand away. The offered biscuit splattered against the hole in the wall, flakes of drywall rendering it unsalvageable. Why, damn you? Why does my food keep getting destroyed by thoughtless meany poopyheads?!

I chewed and swallowed the piece of biscuit I had in my mouth and began to ask him, “To what do I owe this-?”

He was on me quickly for his size. I’m still not sure what happened to the table exactly. One moment was there, the next it was gone. I was more concerned with the man in black pinning me to the wall. I sensed some hostility there. When he spoke, I had trouble placing his accent, but his words were still clear, “Who do you think you are attacking my men?”

“Psycho Gecko,” I told him, “But sometimes I go by The Pitcher and dispense merciless bloody justice with my ability to throw things at people and sometimes hit them while pouring refreshing beverages for people. I have a meeting with Ouroboros later who will help me hunt down my dastardly nemesis, the Belly Itcher.”

Past him, I saw Moai at the hole in the wall, prepared to lend assistance should it become necessary. I saw his eyes twitch a little when I said my name, but he finally set me down when I mentioned the meeting with Ouroboros. I held out my hand, “And you are?”

He looked me in the eye, then took my hand in a firm shake. “You will call me Torrent. I work for Ouroboros. He sent me to bring you to him.” He tried to squeeze my hand in his grip but he was frustrated by what I’d held out with my hand. He squeezed my sausage, egg, and cheese biscuit in that meaty hand of his, getting all slick and greasy and once again ruining my food. He looked down at our hands and let go, finding himself holding the smooshed food as I stepped past him to hunt down some napkins or a papertowel or something.

“Well, Torrent, I was going to suggest we go have that meeting with your boss right after I finish breakfast, but I’m done early. Let’s go ahead now and meet him.” I gave Moai a thumbs up and a smile, then headed to the bathroom to wipe my hands off on a towel.

It wasn’t how I meant to let Ouroboros know I was in town, but I was more glad that talking it out kept this from escalating into more violence. That’s good. I didn’t feel like having two biscuits and my oh-so-expendable face ruined that day.

That doesn’t mean I disapproved when we left through the hole in the wall and Torrent stumbled over Moai, who was waiting for us to pass before following.

He tried to blindfold us as we were getting into his hummer for the drive, but he ran into a problem with Moai. Moai has a little bit larger head than most other magically-animated statues. I don’t try to point it out. It might hurt his feelings. Torrent didn’t have a blindfold big enough for Moai and was getting frustrated. “If he can’t be blindfolded, then we leave him behind,” he said.

“Don’t worry, we can just tie my shirt around that fat noggin of his. It’s like blindfolding a watermelon,” I said. Moai wrote that my ass was fat back when the cops stopped us at Yabloo City.

Shirtless and blindfolded, I sat in the back on the passenger side against Moai as we were driven to meet Ouroboros. Not the first paranoid client I’ve met. Unfortunately, my eyes don’t have an X-ray feature. They can’t swap to thermal imaging either, seeing as they’re positioned in my head, but that would have been useless anyway. Moai, however, is one sneaky devil with balls of stone. I haven’t had them carved on yet, but he’s got them. He can probably draw me a map if I need it.

“So, I thought you didn’t really have heroes to speak of around? That guy I fought didn’t look like one of us.”

“He’s a young hero. High school kid just starting out. That’s why he was dumb enough to be out during the day. He doesn’t matter.”

“So he’s not who I was asked to attend to?”


I waited.

And waited.

“So, who was I called in for?”

“I’m not to say. The boss will tell you.”

“Are we there yet?”

“No, we’re not there yet.”

“I have to pee.”

“You should have used the bathroom before we left.”

“Can we stop and get icecream?”

“Don’t make me have to throw this truck at you.”

After that little exchange, I sat back and tried to enjoy the ride without fidgeting too much. That changed when we stopped and I heard someone on a megaphone preaching about hell and turning your life around. I think they were over right beside me, so I mashed my chest against the window and began to play with my nipples.

“They can’t see you. I have the windows tinted”

“Crap. Should I stop then?”

“Yes, you’re getting my window dirty and I don’t want to see that anyway.”

“Like these windows weren’t dirty and perverted before now,” I said, and sat back down.

Finally, after far too long, we stopped and Torrent got out. I got out as well, which prompted Moai to get out too. From the sound of things, he caught Torrent in the face with the door as he did so. I snickered as Torrent said something in another language under his breath.

“You’re going to look suspicious leading around a man and a walking Moai with blindfolds on, you know. Just how far away are we from where we’re going?”

“You can take them off. We’re in the right building,” I heard in response.

Moai and I slipped our blindfolds off. My shirt flew over the top of the hummer to land on my head, obscuring my vision of the rest of the garage we were in. I slipped it back on as I admired the gaudy cars around. They were a shiny bunch. There was a red Ferrari with “Schwing” on the license plate. There was one that was gold-colored, with a spoiler and spinner rims. There was even a plain black Cadillac town car. Clearly, every variety of wealthy person was well-represented here.

Well, not every variety…or so I thought. The sound of a helicopter landing on the roof proved me wrong on that count. “Lots of visitors to meet me?”

“No, this is our casino.”

“Ah, good show, blindfolding someone just to take them to a place lots of people are expected to find. I’m sure that had a purpose. While we’re at it, let’s have a Mexican standoff and I’ll drop my pants about halfway down my ass. Moai, think you can get a gold tooth and a fake scar over one eye?”

Torrent looked at me. He was in the right place, because he had one hell of a poker face. He walked to the door and opened it to reveal a well-dressed bouncer in a suit. They shared a few whispered words before he waved me over. Together, Torrent, Moai, and I walked in through the VIP section, which was a little apart from the rest of the casino thanks to ropes. And it was one hell of a casino. Slot machines, tables, bright lights, even a buffet off to the side. “Wow, nice secret location. Wouldn’t want anyone to find this place easily, would we?”

Torrent shot me a look. A look that said “My eyes are this close to pulling out a gun and shooting more than a look.” Cute. He’s upset because he realized he made a dumb mistake.

Up in the private box, we were led to Ouroboros, who was seated, in-costume, on a leather couch. It was a black bodysuit that hid everything under it. You couldn’t see if he was built, you couldn’t see if he needed a girdle. It looked scaled, with a black sheen. On the chest, that sheen went against the texture and formed an infinity sign. It hid his eyes, with no openings or different-colored spot to indicate that they were behind the two depressions in the mask at that point. On his face, a portion of the costume opened up to look like a mouth with fangs arching down, his real nose and mouth exposed in that opening. The corners of the costume mouth were pulled back and wrinkled like a real mouth. A pair of curved ivory daggers that more closely resembled claws hung on loops at his waist where a belt would be.

A small smile came to his face as he saw Torrent, Moai, and I. He nodded to us, “Ah, good job, you brought our guests. Did you blindfold them as I asked?”

Torrent nodded. I just looked at him, “Seriously, dude, I’ve been giving you a hard time about it and you did it because of orders? You couldn’t say something?”

“Torrent is a quiet guy most of the time, in deference to the people he used to work for. So you are Psycho Gecko? Have a seat,” Ouroboros indicated a seat nearby. I sat and Torrent left to go do whatever it is he does.

“Nice to meet you and all, but why blindfold me to bring me to a casino? It’s illegal, but you don’t seem too concerned about people finding it.”

He shrugged. “It’s intrigue, what can I say. I’ve got other interests trying to move in and take what I’ve got with back alley deals and turning people against me. It’s pretty much required I act like this. So after tonight, as far as anyone knows, I’ve never met you and I have nothing to do with why you’re here. You’ll be in my territory acting a certain way without my approval.”

“Like that’ll fool anyone. What’s the point of pretending to hide something that everyone’s going to find out about anyway?”

“That’s intrigue and politics for you. By the way, I’m going to need you to act angry when you leave this room. Make a big show of it, ok?”

I nodded.

“Now let’s talk business. Have you heard of Black Raptor?”

I ran back through my files, including this archive. There he was, back when I was going over some news. “Yeah, he’s a new hero around here. Problem?”

Ouroboros shook his head, “Not a big one. I want something done that will be symbolic more than anything else. That’s why I brought you in. You’re overkill for the situation. I could easily have someone kidnap his family, beat him to a pulp, or leak his name to every superpowered menace out there, but I’ve seen what you’ve done to that Holdout kid and to Venus. You didn’t kill them, but you did a great job of making their lives hell for awhile.”

“Hell, you say? Me, you say? I guess I didn’t notice that part,” I said. I did, actually. That was the point of that mess with Venus, but I was legitimately trying to kill Holdout.

“I want him humiliated and beaten. I want his personal life in shambles, but he will get to live knowing what his heroism cost him. I want to send a message about what happens when heroes try to get serious in my town. Think you can do it?”

“Yeah, sounds good. What about the boring details? Pay, information on him, account numbers, that stuff?”

Ouroboros motioned behind us to where Torrent stood, now with a folder in his hands, “Torrent will go over that with you on your way out.”

“Why can’t we just talk about it here?”

“I told you. Intrigue. Spy stuff. I have to at least pretend, otherwise the whole game I play with the organizations trying to take me on will fall apart.”

“You just said you were sending a message. Is all that transparent secrecy really that fucking important?”

“Oh, sure, totally. Right now, they’re predictable. They’re playing hide and seek like it matters that they’re trying to keep a secret. As long as I play along, they will keep acting like that. But if I blow the masquerade for them, I don’t know how they’ll react. My house might get stormed by a bunch of Colombians while the Triads or Yakuza sneak in a back window with a shotgun.”

I stood up and stretched my arms and legs a little. “Alright, alright, I’ll play along.

And that’s how I got dragged out of Ouroboros’s casino by security while yelling “I’m really angry now! You hear me?! I’m angry and loud! Next time I see you, I’ll kill you so dead, you’ll need a funeral!”