Tag Archives: Paveman

I Got Clubbed 7

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He nodded and wiped his mouth.

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

“Are you sure about that, boss?”

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

“Are you absolutely sure?”

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

“That’s alright, boss.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dame picked up. “Hello?”

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

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

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

“This is Gecko, isn’t it?”

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

“I’m hanging up now, Gecko.”

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

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

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

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

“I found Unity.”

“You make it sound like a cult.”

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

“I wonder if any oysters have cults?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“It’s kinda my thing.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Hiya. Distracted enough yet?” asked Carl.

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

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

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

Unity slipped loose and began to head for the door.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Why Victoria’s Secret?”

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

And so we walked off into a nanite rainbow.

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I Got Clubbed 6

They got the whole city. It’s one big howdy neighbor lovefest around here! I don’t mean orgies in the streets, that I could handle. Everyone’s just so fucking…nice. People are holding doors, saying please and thank you. Hugging me. Groping me. Now I know what it’s like to be nothing but a piece of meat to everyone I pass by. It gets old fast when grannies on walkers are asking you to make an old woman happy one last time before they die.

One of them that tried it, I pointed off to the side and said, “Look, Elvis is back!” She got all happy and then I threw her under a bus passing by.

The driver stopped, shocked that the old lady has fallen under there, but I reassured him. “It’s the way she wanted to go,” I said while patting him on the shoulder. Then I felt something touching my ankle. It was the old lady’s hand.

“I don’t know. Ever since Breakdown enlightened the city, it’s been hard to imagine anyone committing suicide.”

I kicked the hand away, then slammed my boot at something soft under the bus. The arm went limp.

“Maybe it was something she thought of doing but couldn’t bring herself to try,” I suggested.

“I better call 911.”

“Good idea, but please, don’t look. It’s such a gruesome sight,” I told him.

The driver turned away as he pulled out his cellphone. “You’re right. Hello, 911…”

While he was on the phone with them, I turned and dropped down to look under the bus. The old lady was regaining consciousness again. I punched her a few more times to put her back out again. “Die you old bat! Things as old as you ought to blow away in the wind.”

“You say something?” asked the driver.

I turned toward him and brushed myself off. “Oh, just seeing to her. She’s definitely a goner. Hey, why don’t you make it easy on the cops and paramedics and back up the bus a little.”

“You think I should? Isn’t this a crime scene?”

“Has anyone been committing any crimes in the city lately? Go ahead. Back it up.”

“Oh, alright.” He jogged over to the door, got in, put the bus in gear, and backed it on up.

The old lady let out a moan as the front tires rolled over here. Damn, this old bitty was tough. What, did Hulk Hogan get a sex change here?

“What was that?” called the driver out the window.

“I said you can’t park back there after all. Something about a fire hydrant. Wouldn’t want to break the law now, would we?”

“No, I’ll pull up.”

He drove forward, bouncing over the old lady twice. That shut her up.

“Great job, that was perfect!” I called to the driver.

I got out of there before the cops arrived though, out of habit. I made it back to the Secret Lair without a problem though.

I closed the club for the duration of this little crisis. I’ve wondered if I should barricade it. It’s like living in a reverse zombie movie. Instead of wanting to eat my brains, people want to hug me or sex me up. That’s a different sort of way for people to spread the virus, I suppose. I’d just rather not catch anything they’d spread that way. Besides, the stuff making them do this isn’t a virus.

Empyreal City belonged to Breakdown now. The announcement had gone out like a press conference. He had all sorts of celebrities, heroes, diplomats, and other VIPs. They all loved him now. He even showed off this old retired superhero, Dr. Unity. He had been a super scientist best known for his research into how to create world peace. It had caused him all sorts of personal drama back in the day to deal with world conqueror’s who wanted to stop people from killing each other, but only because they would all be unified under a dictator’s rule.

The old man expressed his admiration of Breakdown doing what he couldn’t. Big PR victory for Breakdown.

The government had been forced to recognize that the city was temporarily controlled by a supervillain, one who ruled through love instead of fear. Machiavelli, eat your heart out. They kept recon drones flying overhead as best as they could in the weather, but it’s hard to send people in when the guy they’re after would have the entire population of a city on his side as hostages and supporters.

Some other powered people probably survived because of they had a filter or a mask or didn’t need to breathe, but they probably didn’t stick around too long after all this happened. He had also taken recently to airing a local commercial with my face, warning people to try to get me to drink up, but otherwise stay well away from me.

Thing is, Sexahol makes me a cuddly, sexy beast to those same people. I could probably brag about killing that old lady and someone doped on the love juice would want to give me a big snuggle.

I survived, though. Of course. As I once said long ago, even after the heroes have been beaten by some supervillain, there’s always another villain who doesn’t want to live under the other guy’s rule.

Moai stood guard just inside the club wearing one of those bronze Spartan helmets with the Mohawk-looking thing on it. “They’re still all sickeningly sweet out there.”

There wasn’t a lot to guard, really. It was a place for people to dance and work. Fuck ‘em. Not even that gas thing that Moai and I brought back from the warehouse was of much use, at least to them. I had hauled it back in case I needed to do something similar to what Breakdown did.

I’ll admit, even though it paints me in a good light, I worked on altering enough of my nanites to half-fill that gizmo of Breakdown’s. Adapting their programming to general medical use, as well as basic testing, has kept the remnants of Shieldwall from selling nanites for medical use all over the place. I didn’t have either problem. Even got a batch of general purpose nanites in there now set to react to living human and near-human organisms and clear them of this crap.

If I don’t set them to something nonspecific like that, then they do very bad things when encountering organisms that aren’t me or that don’t belong in my body.

I got what I had loaded into that mist mechanism to test it, counting on the extraneous fluid around the nanites to be dissolved into a cloud capable of counteracting what the pink clouds had done. I didn’t get a chance to test it, however.

Just then, there was a call on the giant screen. I climbed up on Moai and he hopped, allowing me to grab the upper floor and pull myself up. Moai went for the stairs while I rushed over to take my seat on the throne and bring the giant screen down.

Breakdown’s visage greeted me, covered with a gray domino mask that hid his eyes and had a large, stylized blue teardrop at the corner of his right eye. “Hello, my dear Psycho Gecko, hello. You’re looking well. Quite trim. Quite fit.”

“Hey Breakdown. You look like you could use a throat lozenge and an anal rapin’.”

“That’s no way to talk to the city’s regent,” he said in reference to an announcement he’d made to the world. Holding onto the United Nations after they’ve been all kinds of lovegassed gives you a lot of bargaining power, it turns out. “You should willingly bow before me and join my cause. You’re all alone in the city now. No friends left outside your toy soldier. No family that you ever speak of. Nobody who cares about you. You don’t have to live such an isolated life.”

“Blah blah blah. You sound just as bad as the people on your little Sexahol, you know that? Love this and care that. Oh no, Mr. Psychology wants to mess with me psychologically. Geez, you’d think a guy like me is used to being alone and friendless by now. Like I haven’t taken on a city before. Or have you forgotten that little stunt where I bitchslapped Lady Liberty and caught the city around the Empyre State Building in my own personal flame war. Don’t even bother, Achy Breaky Heart. You lost from the moment I knew you were trying to screw with my head.”

“I had hoped we could remain civil with one another and share a pleasant meal. Care to dine with me and discuss your place in my society.”

Now, about this time, my inner monologue decided to give me some advice about this. “Trap trap trap trap trap trap trap trap trap trap trap trap, see if he’ll pay.”

“Where did you have in mind? Hopefully somewhere fancy since you’re paying.”

He nodded. “I’ve heard Da Silvano is good. Celebrities eat there often. They will appreciate having the most famous person in the city around.”

“Thanks for the compliment, Breakdown. Also, thanks for paying for the entire meal. You know, I always knew that if I refused to work hard, lacked determination, and never did an honest day’s work in my life, my amateur porn career would make me famous. I do all my own butt bleaching, you know. It’s how I stand out. People get snow blindness staring at my ass long enough.”

“No, Gecko, I meant me, obviously. From what a little bird has told me, you don’t even have an amateur porn career. You’re not that famous, either. You have your exploits, but most people don’t treat terrorists like celebrities.”
I think I was getting to him through that friendly facade.

“Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey! That’s not true at all. Everybody knows that terrorism gets you the cover of Rolling Stone. You know, provided you’re an attractive terrorist with fangirls.”

“Do try to keep the fangirls at bay when we meet for dinner, Gecko. I’ll have them reserve us a table at seven o’clock.”

“Seven’s a good time. Can I bring my own wine?”

“As long as it’s real wine. Don’t bring anything that the hobos drink. I will see you at seven.”

He cut the transmission. The screen raised up to reveal Moai standing behind where it had been. “Good, Moai, did you hear that bit about us having a dinner reservation?”

He nodded.

“Alright, so here’s what we’re going to do. I’m going to fill a wine bottle with something that goes ‘boom’. You should go with me as backup. Go lock the door and do a quick sweep to make sure the traps are ready. I’m going to go see if we have any absinthe and nitroglycerin. Oh, yeah, and let’s see if we can lift this gas thingy way up out of reach of anyone who manages to get past the traps. I don’t need someone else trying to use these nanites to save the world instead of saving me.”

I won’t go into specifics about what I put in there, at least as much for the sake of the bar selling the drink as a secret recipe in the future, but it was at least stable enough for me to gun it and smash my car through the back rolling garage. With one remote, I armed the traps. With another, the replacement garage door began to close. Then we got our rears in gear and headed for the restaurant.

Moai stayed outside with the car until I knew what the situation was like. I was in full armor, too, so the last thing I needed was an actual meal. I’d have to take the helmet off for that, and then I’d have to wash the outside really well if ketchup got on it. At least it didn’t do as much to metal as it would to something tight.

Irrelevant though. As soon as I walked in, I could tell something was off about Breakdown. Same costume and same mask, but differences in body shape and face structure. They’d tried to get a lookalike in there. I pulled on the cork of the wine bottle and armed it. The man in the Breakdown costume figured out something was up as well. The chair he had sat in fell to the floor behind him as he rose to his feet and pulled a detonator of his own.

As I threw the bottle, I could make out something about, “For the one I love!”

Then the whole place went up and I took a small break while my mind tried to figure out how I got across the street and between a tree that had been broken in half.

Moai found me and helped me up and to the car in my dazed state. It was blurry at the time, but my recordings show that the restaurant itself was just gone. It looked like it had always been some sort of firepit surrounded by two buildings that had been mostly blown apart. I was too stunned physiologically to make much sense of the kind of firepower that meant at the time. I didn’t even get pissed at the dings and scratches on my car caused by shrapnel.

Unfortunately, as the shock wore off, it was replaced with pain and an awareness of more fluid in my pants than I remembered having down there. What must have happened, see, is I must have kept some water and some chocolate pudding mix down there, and the explosion broke open the water bottle, tossed it into the mix, and then heated it up enough to form what could only be pudding in that armor down there.

Yep, that sounds like a perfectly reasonable explanation.

I didn’t think too much on it at the time, though, because of the pain. I hadn’t been flash-fried, but blunt force has this nasty habit of doing a number on me despite wearing armor.

I had Moai lay across the front to drive us out of there before the cops closed down the area. They were already in place on the road he took us down, so he had to ram the car through a barricade while I groaned from where I laid in the backseat. The pain was still there, even if the damage was quickly going bye-bye courtesy of nanite packet quilting under some portions of the armor. See? That innovation in this new armor proved to be quite useful after all.

Instead of taking us right in, Moai stopped in the street. Curious, I sat up to find that The Secret Lair was open for business. People were lined up, and my bouncer, Terrance, was at the door, looking over everyone with his glowing blue eyes.

“Huh…well, Moai, let’s not sit out here all night groaning in pain. Looks like I have a bloodbath to tend to.”

I tried to throw up a hologram that I wasn’t in armor, but that was a major systems failure. Too many of the cameras and projectors had suffered damage. I was exposed. I had nothing to protect me but armor, extensive murder training, systems enabling super strength, localized energy projection around my hands and forearms, a massive bodyguard, and chocolate pudding that could be used to blind people.

I had Moai help me in to foster a false sense of “my ass done got blown the fuck up”.

Terrance looked me over and didn’t step out of the way. I thought my own guy was going to start something, but then he moved to the side and let me pass, like I’d met somebody else’s standards.

That somebody else was Breakdown, sitting in MY throne in MY hideout and perusing MY videos of anthropological studies of human mating on MY giant screen, with MY henchman standing by his side.

He stood up and clipped a microphone to his lapel. It carried his voice through the sound system as he spoke. “Well! I see dinner was well done, but not as well done as we’d have liked. You aren’t in any shape to fight. Tsk, tsk. Have a seat, Gecko. Just enjoy yourself. Find yourself a good woman to share the night with. You will find I am more competent at dealing with dissent, but I am more forgiving as well.”

“Not just yet, you tailorless dick!” I projected via my helmet’s speakers. “Get down here and die like a man!” It’s never been confirmed that Breakdown has powers, but he’s always been more of a psychological threat to people than a physical threat. Plus, I only looked injured. Twas merely a flesh wound. I was actually fit as a fluffy carnivorous bunny.

“Why do you insist on this lonely path, Gecko? Is it that abhorrent to find someone who will accept you for who you are and make you a better man? You can not honestly believe in your anarchy as a way to live. Even you want to be accepted. You want fame. Friends. Loved-ones. You want people to think of you as a hero. You want to be a part of the world with everyone else. You can be adored. You can have the irresponsible fling. The high school sweetheart. The dance of your life while staring into a beautiful pair of eyes. You are not too damaged for my society to reject. You are not unworthy of this.” I saw Carl nodding along to all this. I was tempted to kill him too at that, but he wasn’t exactly in full possession of his own mind there.

“I am fixing the world here, Gecko. Every lonely soul will find its other half. There is a thief here. She knows you. She has shown herself capable of keeping up with you. She could help you deal with your personal demons. There is another, a young woman coming into her powers who has been pushed away from her family and friends. You could use your past experiences to guide her and keep her from following the dark path your life has taken. Protect and cherish.”

Under my armor, I was stewing. I’ll confirm nothing, but it’s possible that there was a sliver of a chance that some of what he was saying was annoying a part of me that was sensitive towards these kinds of arguments. I stood there contemplating how badly I was going to kill that son of a bitch as Dame stepped forward, as did the girl from the news the other day.

“Perhaps you need a strong woman who can keep you in line, one you have shown compassion toward.” That was Elite the Warrior Woman, apparently. Super strong, super durable, super definitely not one I want to let get a hold of me with those Kegels. What, this jerk went shopping through all the women around, trying to find me just the right woman to go with my shoes? Or like picking up a compatible dog at a dog shelter? These weren’t people to him. They were tools to convince me.

I focused on that. He was trying to get me on his side. Somehow, that had meaning to me.

“No, that’s right. Carl said you had a thing for men. I shouldn’t have been so judgemental. Surely you can take your pick. Hydroplane would love to show you there are no hard feelings for trying to kill him. Or Nos. Perhaps Paveman, if you like them older.”

What the fuck? Paveman was human enough to be affected by Sexahol? That was useful information.

Wow…he had all those guys there too. That was about when I noticed that there were a lot of superhumans present. I didn’t know how many…but I knew how many of them it would take to kick my ass. Like I said once long ago, that’s a handy piece of information to have.

That was his problem. It was just so pathetic. He made it sound so high and noble, but at the end of the day he was treating them all as pieces of meat. Just throw enough booty at the problem and it would go away. THAT was getting to me?

“Heh…hehehe…hahahahahahaha!” I bent over, caught up in the laughter.

“What’s going on here?” inquired Breakdown. The overhead camera gave me a view of Carl grabbing Breakdown’s arm and telling him something.

As quickly as merriment had set in, I stood straight up.

“Not as hurt as you-“ Breakdown started.

I cut him off. “Can it, you lintlicking hairchewer. You bulldog spittle in human form.”

I glared at him, daring him to speak up. He didn’t, so I continued. “What, you just want to throw someone at me? Some sacrificial lamb you think needs to fuck my brains back to proper working order? You think it’s as simple as saying ‘all you need is love’ or ‘that guy needs to get laid’ and someone like me becomes part of a regular family with a regular job and regular bowel movements? Seems like half the time I can’t express myself without having to use some story about transgender this or suicide that. That shit doesn’t get fixed with a kiss you know!”

I started pacing back and forth, not paying any attention to the crowd. Breakdown’s mist machine was still where I left it, hanging from the ceiling by a heavy duty cable wrapped around supports. I still had a case to make, though. “I’m a little old to have prom night with a sweetheart, too. A guy like me has to accept when they’ll never be the sort to know what that’s like. I’ve been rejected and dejected and even injected, but that’s alright. I can handle that I’m not the type who gets someone to love. Kids. A house with a big family movie sunset just before the credits roll. Society has its reasons to reject me, and they are the same reasons I reject it. So all you have is the hope that I’ll give in willingly to your mass enslavement. You failed to take me by force like all the others. You’re afraid, so you’re trying to throw sex and relationships at me to get what you couldn’t by brainwashing. I don’t want disgusting, weak-willed little humans that can’t solve their own problems but think they can solve mine. And I sure as shit don’t need anyone in my life to make me a full person.”

I stopped and hopped up on top of Moai’s head.

“And I know that you’d only be this desperate if you were afraid. Pay attention to that feeling now. It’s the one that said you should have run as soon as you tried to kill me.”

I pointed up at the gadget hanging from the ceiling, trying the remote access I had installed earlier. Nothing. That’s not good.

It was Breakdown’s turn to laugh. “I wasn’t stupid enough to let you use that old thing against me. Remember, I had that built. My new friend Carl kept me from getting your little robots over me and getting turned to slime, but I knew how to get rid of your trigger. Heroes, villains, assembled citizens. Tear Psycho Gecko apart.”

“Moai, do what you can,” I quickly blurted, then jumped. The enhancers in the legs of the armor were in better working condition than the holographic projectors. They carried me past superhumans that rose into the air and up to the device. Below me, Moai did his best to headbutt anyone trying to gain altitude or take aim, but it wasn’t enough. Most blasts, zaps, and whatever went wide. They didn’t want to risk the nanites out of a belief that they would try to disassemble them.

I had to grab on to this thing with my legs and hang upside down to unseal and discard my right hand glove, but then I pressed my palm to the device. A human can mess with my wireless connection, but there’s little to be done when I can actually molest machinery like it was a part of myself. Kinnari winged her way closer, energy disk ready to circumcise me at the neck when she got a clean shot.

She didn’t get a clean shot. The system spewed nanites out of it like a sprinkler rather than a fog machine. Everyone tried to shield themselves. Breakdown dropped from the catwalk and ran for the back. I swung over so I’d land on the catwalk, rolled with the impact, and then hurdled over side to follow him, completely ignoring Carl’s attempt to grab me in the process.

I found him back there crawling through the shower on all fours, puking. Hey, give the guy credit for sticking to his manners. I kicked him over onto his back, ignoring the pink crap he left on the tiles. I charged up my left glove.

“Wait, stop! I can’t die yet. Not until I kill the son of a bitch who did this to me!” he pleaded, the orange light of the energy sheathe splashing over his face.

“Whassat now?”

“It wasn’t me. It was the Sexahol. I was just the face he used. It was always his plan all along.”

“Sounds like something you’d say.”

“Wait! I never had a gas mask. Back in the warehouse, then around the city, I was exposed to all of it. Do you think if I thought this all out beforehand, I would have kept acting on it like that? For god’s sake man, look what your nanites did to me!”

He…had a point.

Much as I hated to admit it. Switching off the olfactory filters, I could even smell the intense cherry and strawberry flavoring of the Sexahol in his puke. It cleaned a lot of it out of his system to.

I sat down next to him and punched the wall of the shower, blowing tiles off and knocking a hole through the wall.

“Only way I’m letting you live is if you get out of this city, you understand?”

He nodded, wiping at strands of spittle stuck to his mouth and the top of his tights.

“Good. You get out of dodge, and I’ll check out whoever’s supposedly doing this. If you’re wrong, I’ll hunt you down. You know I can. If you’re right, I’m cleaning up this mess. You feel me?”

“Yes I…feel you,” he hesitated. Probably the unusual word choice.

“So, who is the unlucky bastard if you aren’t?” I asked.

“Unity. Dr. Unity. Congratulations. You get to end a superhero trying to end conflict across the world.”

“I hope you’re wrong so I can kill you. Now get the hell out of my club.”

Breakdown skittered to his feet and rushed off.

Just for good measure, I shouted “And stay out!” after him.

Lucky bastard. He wasn’t the one who had to stay behind and clean up the mess Empyreal City had become. Even I have my stupid moments.

Next

Previous

Arete in Destruction 9, the Grand Finale

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I was hoping to get a hold of this.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Why do you think that matters?”

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

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

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

“Why does that matter?” she groaned.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I sat down at the Heatflasher.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No reaction.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You alright?”

“Yeah.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I am.”

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

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

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

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

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

“Paralyzed.”

Marble hands grabbed my head and nodded it for me.

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

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

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

“More like the whole block,” said Troubleshooter.

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

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

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

Times like these, I love my minions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

She goes flying.

Cool as fuck.

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

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

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

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

No way am I changing back right now, but –

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

***Waiting for connection***

 

Next

Previous

Arete in Destruction 2

The confrontation started innocently enough. I set fire to the shithole I’d been staying in for a long time. I’ve been sleeping and eating over at the warehouse I rented to work on the Heatflasher anyway, so this place was now more of a convenient way to draw one hell of a fly into my web. It’s an awesome web. A web…of DOOM!

“Doomy doomy doomy, doomy doomy doomy, doom,” I sang to myself as I opened up the side door to the semi and readied the ‘Flasher. I had already sent off Moai to get me a hot dog. Nothing like a tube of unidentifiable animal meat byproduct covered in sugar and tomato to brighten your mood and fill your stomach. I slid into a seat that sat further back from the machine, with cushions full of coolant. I had managed enough of a swivel that I turned it toward the low rent apartment complex from across the parking lot and aimed via helmet. Then I lit that motherfucker up. The heat tore through that old crappy drywall like a hot knife through old crappy drywall, only bigger. It caught and the blaze spread like wildfire, which seemed only natural to me. The whole place was going up and I barely got to use my heat ray. That’s when I spotted a familiar car from some guy with a little gang that tried to harass me. He was smart enough to leave me alone after I shot his dick and his friends, but he was too dumb to move. Tsk tsk.

The car started to glow after I hit it with the heat beam. That didn’t last long as it exploded pretty quickly as well. “Hey, that’s my car!” screamed someone with a high-pitched voice from the building in front of the car. I looked up and found that same asshole who tried to give me a hard time amongst all the people at their windows watching everything happen. I saw recognition strike him and he turned to run with an “Oh shit!”

“Sounding a little high-pitched there, I must have nailed a ball too. Better even that out. Hold still, let me see if I can get the other one!” I called out. No way he’d hear that, but I swept the beam along that floor, likewise sending it up in flames as rooms collapsed in on themselves. I think I got the other one this time. I don’t expect any complaints if I missed.

It took me back. Pulling my head back from spotting oculars and grabbing a light miner. The heft of the weapon, the feel of activating a continuous green beam that cuts through everything in front of it. Tearing through superheated metal that crumples, bends, smashes the target. Not caring about the target even, whoever he is, and just shooting, shooting, shooting, more buildings falling, cackling, supposed friends at my shoulder, trying to pull me away. Not caring as I destroy a world I can never fit into.

Except the thing at my shoulder was Moai hitting me over and over to get my attention. I looked around at a significantly clearer landscape. In my remembrance of the past, I’d annihilated every building around in the present. They just stood there, more in flames than in cheap brick veneer. I saw incandescent remains of fire trucks and police cruisers from misguided attempts to reign me in that I still have no recollection of. I was in the middle of a blaze.

“Damn, and I missed all that. Well, the helmet cam probably caught it. We did get everything important out of the apartment first, didn’t we?” I turned to Moai. As usual, he didn’t feel like answering verbally. Then I remembered. “Oh shit, the Cthulhu birdy! The Great Yith Avian! Well, I shall cherish what little time together we had, my chirpy little fluffy huggy snugga wuggawy-“

I was cut off as a tiny tremor I’d felt in the ground grew more powerful. Something was getting close. So close that a giant green foot stomped on the cab of the truck. That’s pretty damn close, actually.

By the way, thanks for ruining my truck, jackass! True, I didn’t pay for it, but I had the roof opening and the side doors and I had plans to install armor. Hell, the way things were going today, I had plans to include spiked wheels even. You know, for good skull traction. Don’t you hate it when your evil vehicle of doom and death slips on one too many skulls while cutting a swath through the innocent? For just one easy payment, you can be the proud owner of the Skull Shoes! Engineered to gain traction over even the slipperiest of head bones, Skull Shoes can save you the hassle and embarrassment of leaving home and having no way to run people down. Order now, only on the Home Slaughter Network!

Paveman, inhabiting the Statue of Liberty once again, dug his fingers in around the trailer, denting it inward. I held on tight as I was lifted up. Then started to lower again before something, then jostled side to side a bunch of times. You know, it’s possible this hero doesn’t like me very much. The Heatflasher skidded slightly, but the damage was negligible compared to when it dropped last time.

Suddenly, I was tipped up and the rear door was slid open. The giant face of Paveman, with power over materials he steps on, was frowning down at me. “What do you have to be upset about, I’m the one fighting a giant!” I yelled. Then I followed it up with, “Let’s put a smile on that face.”

I fired, moving it from right to left and back again. It melted out a smile, with orangish-yellowish liquid glowing as it splashed out onto the interior of the trailer. More dribbled over its own chin. The metal around the smile where it had been touched also glowed, though it was a darker reddish-orange.

You know how you sometimes can’t help but smile when you see someone else smile? That was me. That goofy grin made my day and soon had me laughing.

I heard something drop and crash, then the Statue’s other hand came up to block the rear door. I aimed for where the proximal phalanges met the metacarpals if this were a human body. I cut through the lowest of the fingers, in my sight, the index, and it dropped. I almost completely severed the middle finger, but before I could make the bird fly off, I was the one that needed wings. He dropped me, and not out of necessity either.

I mentioned last time that I needed a better way to lift this thing. Something involving fewer ropes and broken arms on my part. I reached down to a newly-installed secondary joystick made possible by being able to sit further away from the body of the weapon, which was made possible by the machine having its own power supply and not needing to tap into mine. I flipped two switches simultaneously next to the joystick and gave the upper trigger on the stick a good squeeze.

The switches initiated the launch. Eight of my riding rockets, four of them on the corners of the machine and the other four larger and under the machine, came online and lifted the Heatflasher and me barrel first out through the open rear of the machine.

Paveman recoiled in surprise as I floated before him in my flying heat ray. Of doom! Can’t forget the 20% more doom. “That’s right. Who’s saying ‘Up, up, and away’ now, motherfucker?”

With all that extra mass, the punch he tried to throw was telegraphed like the assassination of William McKinley. The four larger rockets were devoted to keeping me airborne and adjusting altitude, but the other four at the corners turned to match the direction I took the stick. I made a big show of laughing as I easily dodged the punch.

“Alright, we got ourselves an epic battle on our hands. Let’s get some epic battle music going!”

I activated the playlist in my helmet’s speaker system. It started with a drumroll. Then birds chirping. Then “Hiya Barbie!”

“Hi Ken!”

“Wanna go for a ride?”

“Sure Ken!”

“Jump in.”

There’s little more demeaning than getting your butt whooped to the tune of Barbie Girl.

The second punch he threw, I fired along that sucker and dropped half of the Statue’s left hand. I flitted, at least compared to him, down and around to his rear, where I sculpted out a pair of big, round butt cheeks. When he managed to turn around, I was waiting at the chest, trying to add breasts onto a Statue that was considerably more male-looking with Paveman in charge. He swiped at me with both hands, but I shot up to face level with him. It was there I discovered that he was no longer smiling. Not even a trace lingered. It puzzled me for a moment before I remembered how he restored the statue from my initial adjustments to it with a rocket launcher.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw his right arm shoulder shifting the arm upward and shot past Paveman’s huge face just in time to avoid the slap. I floated over by his ear. “What did the…hold on,” I stopped to count the fingers. Five, with a smaller index finger, “What did the five fingers say to the face?” I swooped in and gave him some new eyebrows. “Zap!”

A huge copper blade speared out of his chest at an angle to slice through me, but I took it up higher, then around his body. I had to avoid more such thrusting blades, but I got an idea what I needed to do.

The limbs were smaller as they regrew, to the extent that a copper statue can regrow. He likely had to draw from elsewhere in his body to restore them, so enough damage, like a limb cut off, would put a big dent in him.

My next point of attack was the armpit. Standing up there all those years, salty ocean air all over the place, and no deodorant? I’m surprised the smell wasn’t so bad. It took longer than expected, dodging the blows of Paveman as he danced around and minded the buildings and cars below us. I saw the spikes on his crown bend to try and track me and then fire. They were almost a problem, but my wild aiming nicked a couple and threw them off course enough. I took the party behind Paveman after that and finished from there, with him just having to reach behind him as he turned to face me.

I took a moment to look over how my machine was doing. It was venting heat as much as it could with all my improvements, and it could stand plenty on its own. There were redundancies in place if some parts failed. Even so, I couldn’t keep up this game of flying evil cat and colossal mouse forever. If the ‘Flasher didn’t fail on me, the rockets would go before long. Those babies can only hold so much in the gas tank. Even my music could run out. I was on “A Little Respect” by Erasure now. If I reach “Hey Mickey” then I know I’m in trouble. I can’t fight Mickey. He’s too fine. He’s so fine he blows my mind.

Fighting Mickey wasn’t a problem, though. The arm fell off! Paveman had to catch himself and stepped on a bus to do so. It fell on a street and settled there, elbow pointed upward. I fired into the backs of the still-recovering Paveman’s knees and calves. He didn’t catch himself so easily this time. He stumbled back and I adjusted my aim to light up that jolly green buttocks. I hauled my own ass out of the way as he fell on his. Except his ass was rather soft and melty, with his fallen arm under it.

Lady Liberty is too big to 63, but why should that stop me from a creative use of a hand up an ass?

I took the Heatflasher in close while Paveman was busy standing and went for the most obvious point of weakness. The neck. I saw Paveman growl at me with features crossed with the Statue. He tried one last time to grab me, punch me, swipe me, anything, but it was the only arm he had to grab anything with and he fell back, missing me. I didn’t miss him, though, and the Statue went still once more as the head finally came off.

The head rolled off, then reformed into Paveman. He was larger than average, but down for the count. I fired an invisible burst or two at him and he fled.

I needed to get out of there myself, but first thing’s first. I drew “Psycho Gecko wuz X” along the Stomach of Liberty. The mighty Stomach of Liberty, below the Boobs of Liberty that were still shaped like the Manboobs of Liberty. That is where Psycho Gecko wuz, for all the world to see. Eat it, America. Eat it like candy.

“It was self defense! You all saw it!” I called out to whatever people were within earshot of the massive wreckage of a fallen Statue of Liberty on crumbling buildings near several others that were on fire that was still burning strong. Water shot fountained into the streets from destroyed hydrants. The image didn’t fit well with “Venus” by Bananarama. One song to go until “Hey Mickey”.

Ah hell. I sang along with it. It was my victory, after all. “Venus on the mountain top. Shining like a silver flame. A vision of beauty and love. And Venus was her na-.”

Three guesses who was behind me when I rotated around in the middle of all that. Well, Venus and the rest of Shieldwall, courtesy of the jet and their ability to fly. They floated there behind me. We just stared at each other. I was on one side. Forcelight and Black Raptor kept their altitude outside the jet, which had Gorilla Awesome and Venus in the cockpit. Then the fuel light came on.

Forcelight and Raptor dove after me as I took it down to the streets to evade and escape. The jet just wasn’t agile enough. I lost Forcelight when I blasted the water from a hydrant, throwing steam into the air. As a light manipulator, she can get rid of my holograms easily enough. Still can’t see through steam for shit. Raptor was more persistent, so I took us over the burning buildings. Nearly grilled my ass off again, but he blinked first and pulled away.

And so the day was mine. All mine! That day, I just couldn’t lose.

Except Moai dropped my hotdog on the way back to the warehouse. There was that. But otherwise, there’s no stopping me!

…and it was really good timing on Moai’s part. I needed a hand putting in the new door after the first one was destroyed by a skidding rocket heat ray.

You hear that, heroes? Not even door installation can slow me down!

Next

Previous

Get Wrecked 11

Legs are back and working just fine after a little jabbing with needles. I had to sit around, but the Reds didn’t come back. The Greens and Yurples are gone too. The guys in charge have changed up where they’re hiding. The Reds are outright hostile, Big Red having figured out what I did to get the Yurples on my side. I know that because another squad showed up. They opened up on the building with the humvee-mounted minigun.

“Yeah, you gonna fuck over anybody, ain’t you? Well you ain’t fuckin’ over the Reds! Not you or any other power hungry mad dog who thinks we’re nothing but labor to be used up and spat out. We’re the Reds! A family. A Soviet. A revolution.”

It sounded really impressive right up until I flung a headless rubber chicken out. They laughed at it even as it got to its feet and began walking. And walking. And boom. Then I was the one laughing. For the visually impaired, here’s the sound effects: “ratttttttttttta, ha ha ha, flooooong, boink, waka waka waka waka, fwoom!”

The Yurples and the Greens just bugged after all that because nobody wants to fight a heroic colossus. I tried to tell them we could just get some swords and some climbing lessons and take it out with a few well-placed stabs to the weak point, but they hung up. I guess it doesn’t help that none of them, not even the Yurples, fully got over me starting a gang war. Greed and fear of me is one thing. Fear of Paveman has overshadowed that, it seems.

That’s one thing Machiavelli left out of that little satire of his. Fear only works so long as you’re the thing they’re most afraid of. That didn’t mean I was out of cards to play, though. I took some footage out of the ole memory banks. Suddenly, the cops would like to speak to the bosses about their connections to arms dealing, prison breaking, drug trafficking, and not having tags on boat trailers.

As for going after Paveman…well…that had to wait until Halloween. There’s the truce for Halloween, and it’s just an occasion I enjoy.

There’s just something about Halloween. A holiday of costumes and masks. See, a lot of people in the U.S. get dressed up for it, but especially those with simple, childlike minds. So kids and politicians. Either way, you have lots of people running around in costumes and masks. A hero could drop in on his nemesis only to find he’s beating up his next door neighbor. A villain could kidnap some heroine he’s obsessed with and find out it’s just some random woman named Jenny.

So we take the day off. That simple. It’s more of a community thing. You know, there’s villain websites, villain news, even villain parties around. It’s not a huge deal. There are no gigantic team-ups in a legion or anything. They don’t invite me. They have all these unofficial rules, chiefly that you shouldn’t kill heroes. They gave me a shot, once, at a party. Some heroes they invited didn’t like me, though, and murdering a friend of theirs stuck in their craw a lot worse than just killing a hostage. The difference between the Them that don’t have powers or masks, and the Us that do.

I didn’t think it was that big of a deal. I was new. I’d made a grand entrance at the center of an explosion that wiped out a town. I was mysterious and dangerous. Boy was I ever mysterious and dangerous. I was also weak. First responders show up, with heroes among them. I couldn’t speak the language, I didn’t know where I was. I lashed out. Well, technically the guy with the whip lashed out. I just hung him with it. Hanged him with it. To this day, I don’t even know enough English to tell which of those past tense versions of “hang” is correct. But I know now that whippersnapper was the friend of a very annoying person with a shrill voice.

So after I got forcibly ejected by a talking erudite dinosaur, they explained why I’d no longer be on the mailing list. Something about escalation and other reasons. Ooh, I remember now. Because if heroes and villains fight but don’t try to kill each other, then people feel safer about the fact that people with superpowers are fighting each other but not killing each other. I think they were bullshitting me on that one, but I’m just not allowed at parties anymore. I suppose I can see the escalation thing, someone. I don’t need their stinkin’ community, though. With parties. And Blackjack. And hookers. Actually, one of the villains used to be a prostitute. Nice lady. Her name was Minnie the Moocher and I’ll have to tell you a story about her sometime. Ah, but I’m telling a little too much now as it is instead of showing.

I like the Halloween truce, though. It’s based on sound reasoning, and I am obviously a perfectly rational person. Plus, it’s maybe the only day of the year I have fans here. Not many, but they exist. Maybe

You know, the whole killing people all the time thing, that really turns off the costume makers. I get Icelandic death metal guys that like to run around pretending they’re into murder and mayhem while singing loud. They’re not here even on Halloween, though.

So I just kinda mingled. Walked around in costume with Moai by my side, out in the open, for everyone to see. There were no random high fives. Is it too much to ask that someone would just randomly want to high five me? Anyway, walking got boring, so we stopped by Central Park, which is the temporary home of the Statue of Liberty right now. Paveman took the day off from using his power on it. The only problem was finding a pose that worked. There were supports all in the thing, down to the base. He didn’t take the base, though, and the human body isn’t perfectly balanced. Throw in the wind, and there was potential for some real danger or embarrassment there.

The danger was if it fell over. The embarrassment was if he chose a pose like Lady Liberty on all fours. Instead, she’s got her arms out from her sides and a wide stance. Reminds me of Vitruvian Man, actually. I guess we’ll find out if Paveman is as good at balancing copper statues as he is at taking over them

I thought his power involved sucking up nearby rocks and stones and stoney-like things. I never really figured out how that applied to asphalt, but I figured that was just some sort of theme thing. I don’t know exactly how it works, and Paveman’s not talking about it, so I just have to assume he can pull that on metal. He must have tried to pull in almost the entire Statue, future chewing outs be damned!

As a man who uses metal on a suit to help protect myself from bullets, this ability is cause for concern. As a man vulnerable to being squished by something giant, so is what he pulled with the Statue.

I ran into him there, by the way. He and Apollo were posing for the kids, taking photographs, giving autographs.

“Hey,” I said, and gave a little wave.

“Hiya,” said Paveman. Apollo frowned.

“How’s the autographs going?”

“They’re ok. Thinking of joining me for a few? Play up the big fight?” Paveman offered. He may be old school and made of road that’s had roadkill on it…but Paveman’s got class. There are some concerned adults around and the cops are eyeing me funny, but I struck a pose.

“Moai, look threatening,” I said. He didn’t move. I checked the rear display. Nope. No moving, “I can see you didn’t do anything. I said look threatening.” Once again nothing. Then, he slowly began to tip.

“Look out, it’s gonna fall!” someone in the crowd shouted. Moai just held himself there. Itself. Whatever. It’s pretty much interchangeable with the big lug.

“Good job,” I told him. Then, to Paveman, “So, you want to lock up, or have us just about to punch or what?”

“Locking up isn’t very photogenic. Maybe an action pose, where I’m holding your throat and getting ready to hit,” he said.

“Good thinking. I can be kicking you in the stones,” I said.

“I like it. That image really shows how you fight,” he told me as I stood there and let him put his hand around my throat. He raised his hand up as if to swing an ungainly punch at my head.

Moai just tilted ominously near us, as if about to fall.

I grabbed at his wrist with one hand and lifted my leg, resting my shin gently between his legs as I spoke, “Well, I doubt they’d let us get away with me trying to stick my hand up your-“

“Whoa! Dad, you’re cool with this?” Apollo interrupted.

“Son, it’s Halloween. He’s not fighting, we’re not fighting,” Paveman tried to reassure his son.

“Yeah, for all you know I could just be a man in a costume, guy-whose-name-I-don’t-know-because-I’m-just-a-man-in-a-costume,” I said to cover my ass.

“A lot of us think that breaking the rules like you do means you shouldn’t be protected by them. I’m inclined to agree with them with the way you treated Venus and the Human Sloth. I heard you had to kill him because he was beating you in a breakdance fight.”

“Fool! Nobody can outdance me! Except for Stephen Hawking, that is, but I have sworn revenge upon him!” I yelled, throwing my fist to the sky. It stayed attached, in case you were wondering.

Apollo furrowed his brow as contemplated the implications of my outburst, “Definitely Psycho Gecko. You’re really like that all the time?”

I lowered my upthrust hand and answered with a question, “Like what?”

“You are fairly eccentric,” Paveman said.

“Such a statement from Mountain Man and Boulder Boy does not impress me. It wouldn’t even impress your friend the talking gorilla,” I turned away from Paveman to address the crowd, “We’re all different, unique even. Would you pave over those differences and stay a uniform cog in the machine? I hope not. Arete, my friends. Be the best you that you can be. For all your strengths and all your faults, be absolutely fucking awesome!”

I got applause, save for a few people with sour expressions and kids with innocent little ears who never heard the word “fuck” before no matter how many times their parents watched HBO or hit their own thumb with a hammer.

Despite the possibility I’d get to people, the heroes posed with me and we all had a time. Kids brought us candy, which is another good thing about Halloween, and then they left to go to some hero charity Halloween ball or something. Not even an invitation for poor lil Psycho Gecko. But that’s ok. I don’t need their balls! Psycho Gecko doesn’t need any balls at all!

What I needed was to finish work on my special weapon…the Heat Ray! Ok, it needs a better name. I can do this. Think, think, think…lightbulb! Beware, heroes, for soon you shall feel the wrath of my terrible Heatflasher! I’m just glad I didn’t have to give up my ride. I was considering cannibalizing my scooter for parts so I didn’t have to rewire a few things, but luckily I didn’t have to lose the Minstrel cycle.

Lady Liberty will be the first, something to draw their attention as I failed to merely amuse myself with it. Soon, this city will be forced to defend itself with a Shieldwall. Soon, it will be shattered…bwahahahahaha!

The Shieldwall, that is. I don’t care if the city is. Just wanted to clarify the subject there. Good grammar and all that. Oh, and I definitely didn’t mean the State of Liberty would be shattered, just in case you were wondering.

Now back to what I was doing before…Bwahahahahahaha!

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Previous

Get Wrecked 10

Yep, we got traitors. And obstructionists. And people who just didn’t want to go along with the plan at the last minute. Well I don’t need them! I didn’t want to pay them anyway!

I knew something was up. I got another email from Dame insisting that I had a leak. At first I didn’t know what gave her such special insight into my bladder, but then I realized she was just confirming what I’d somewhat suspected before. She never did clarify anything for me, though.

I suspect that she counted our little arrangement as over with by now. As far as I can tell, she wasn’t actively opposing me at the time. I hadn’t let her in on the scheme, but who knows how she’d have reacted as an art lover to my desire to update a national monument.

The Yurples did much better under the new management, though. Without their enthusiasm, I’d have never been ready for this at this point. Can you imagine, waiting even longer for this? I was beginning to suspect I’d never get to it before the big Halloween Truce. More on that to come, I’m sure, but for now I’ll just say that people tend to take a break when regular people start running around in costumes pretending to be monsters, sexy monsters, superheroes, supervillains, and sexy supervillains. Sadly, despite that last category, I don’t think anyone’s ever bothered selling a Psycho Gecko costume.

The whole thing actually makes Halloween one of the safest nights of the year, and one of the most fun. Some powers are pretty good for fitting in with the holiday, like pretty much anyone who can ride a horse and survive removing their own head.

But enough about Halloween, when even I won’t be riding dirty. Let’s talk about yesterday. We had gotten everything ready. After a car ride in full armor with some Greens who couldn’t appreciate Gwen Stefani’s “Wind It Up”, I arrived at the departure point. It was an old dock, with Lady Liberty herself standing straight off in the distance. It normally sees a less violent crowd mingling around. Not Yurple, Red, and Green squads all ready to haul ass on motor boats and helicopters. It was a wonderful sight, almost enough to distract me from my list of Greens to suffer accidents due to poor musical taste. Whether that’s poor taste on my part or theirs is probably up to you. Who doesn’t have a guilty pleasure?

All of a sudden, whammo! A car when flying right into one of the parked helicopters, causing the pilot to scramble for safety and a place to change his undies. Care to take a guess who was involved? That’s right, it was Paveman, who must have figured it was “bring your son to fight crime” day. Yeah, great time to deal with it. Even worse, the Reds were conspicuously slow to react. They were so slow, they moved further away and left all the fighting up to the Greens and Yurples, who were still strapped with various salvaged guns. I didn’t have Moai with me, though. Considering what was about to transpire, it was a good thing I’d left him behind to guard the Shithole Inn.

I had my air gun. Poor, nonlethal air gun. I walked calmly over the Green car, popped the trunk, and hauled it out. A couple of Yurples flew through the air past me as I looked it over, brushed off the barrel, and turned to see who would get a face full of my foul wind.

On the one hand, the Reds deserved it, the assholes. On the other hand, the heroes were doing a good job countering the exploding rounds from those futuristic weapons. Trash cans, dumpsters, car doors, cable spools, anything they could use to block the rounds, they tried. Instead of hitting and exploding against rock hard abs, a door would be hit and explode further away from the body, saving the physically tough heroes the full extent of the blow. This helped them get close enough to smack around the gangbangers.

Speaking of blow, I instead jumped for the retreating Reds. Big Red wasn’t among them, not for a betrayal like this, but this one skinny fucker I landed on would have to do. He went down a little too easily, though, and in the attempt to regain my balance, I felt my knee wrench in a way knees aren’t supposed to. I also felt a rib crack, but that was on the skinny man, so no problem there. The rest started running for it as I grabbed their downed friend.

I hauled him to his feet and gave a hard shove with my cannon, embedding the barrel in the unfortunate Red’s colon region.

“Yo,” I yelled, amplifying my voice through the helmet’s speakers, “Dudley Do-Right dirty dermis motherfuckers!” No response. The pair were concentrating on beating up my guys. I grabbed a shipping pallet and spun around, the wee skinny bent over Red man spinning with me. I let fly with the pallet, breaking it over Paveman’s head, who finally noticed me.

“Ah, good, got your attention. Now, face the wrath of super minion, dun dun dun dun!” I squeezed the trigger and held it there, After a long second of sliding and bulging in odd places, the Red took flight. He was propelled toward Paveman but sadly stopped short and slid along the pothole-ridden pavement.

“Well that blows. To the flying machine! And the swimming machines for those assigned to that duty,” I pointed toward the vehicles with the air gun.

“But boss, what about them?”

“These pet rocks will be useless on the water. Just make sure to circle around with the helo for me to jump aboard. They’re merely heroes, my good fellows. Now, get to the choppa!”

The remaining Greens dropped empty weapons and picked up hurt comrades. The remaining pilot hadn’t yet bugged out, but it looked like he was getting the rotors ready for it.

Meanwhile, I had to deal with the rocky hero pugilism show. They muttered between themselves, not sure who to go after. I made the decision for them. I settled the gun on my back with its strap. Then I jumped and flipped in place, activating one of my favorite illusions. I seemed to split in midair as the real me disappeared. The three separate holograms of me landed differently. One began to dance around like capoeira, another stumbled like a drunk man, and the third swayed, one hand emulating the head movements of a snake. One reacted more slowly than the others to charge in time with me toward the heroes.

Helped by Apollo, Paveman hopped on top of a cargo container and drew from it, creating holes and wearing it away as he drew it up into his own body, growing blocky and bulky and grooved in the process. Wait a minute. Metal? He’s done concrete, cement, pavement, asphalt, and rock. Metal is new.

I figured I’d keep an eye on him as I got in close to Apollo. He swung, fist moving right through the fakes. I threw punches to make it seem like they were somewhat real, for better confusion. Can’t exactly dance around with this gun on my back. The drunken boxer swung and I moved my fist with it, knocking Apollo’s head back slightly. The snake fighter went for a blow from one side as the drunken boxer went to strike again. I backed up the snake illusion this time. Then the capoeira fighte jumped in close with a flip. This time, I swept Apollo’s legs rather than pretend to be any of them. Apollo stumbled and managed to stand for a moment before dropping to his ass.

I wondered what his dad was doing and found him no longer on the half-consumed container. I turned and looked to find him having laid down small columns of metal down into the bay. Ok, got to give him credit. Don’t know where the creativity came from, but this time he got around me and was even small enough at the end that he didn’t capsize the boat he landed on. It helped that he tossed out the generators and welders after the Yurples who had abandoned ship.

That’s one plan that’s gone FUBAR. For those not familiar with the term, it means “fucked up beyond all recognition”.

I looked up and found the copter circling around above me. I had to get up there, but Apollo was back on his feet. I needed some space. The final frontier. Dropping the invisibility, I also dropped to my back and hit the jumper in one leg. When I kicked Apollo, it did a couple of things. First and foremost, I delivered Apollo into a Smart Car via air mail. Not the smartest move on my part, though, as it felt like I’d shoved my femur halfway up my dick. Which is also the only way I can explain the woody I had when all this went down.

I unstrapped the gun and settled the barrel against the ground to help me balance on my one good leg. Said good leg had a twisted knee from earlier, so I needed the boost from firing it as I jumped for my ride. It helped greatly that one of them got the idea to throw down a ladder, because I’d have missed. They helped me up too. Good guys, those Greens.

“Go, get out to the statue! Somebody, fetch me those rockets. I didn’t put up with all this shit just to give up after the first plan is fuck balls deep.” I held out my gun for a Green, who took it. Another loyal Green handed me the long metal tube of my rocket launcher. “Good, now somebody scoot me towards the edge.” A pair of Greens pushed me closer to the open door. “How many we got for this thing on here, anyway?”

“Three rockets, plus one in the tube, sir.”

“It’ll have to do. I don’t know what Paveman’s aiming for down there, but let’s sink his battleship,” I turned to find my target, only to find the clever little hero with the newly-revealed powers had gotten to Liberty Island while I was dicking around.

I wasted a shot trying to catch him at the door, but I have worse long range aim with explosives than a black Scottish cyclops. “Huh…oh well, not like hiding inside is going to save him. Circle strafe it for me!” Next shot, I aimed for the crotch. A Brazilian for the Frenchwoman! Not really. Can’t be that precise with these things, which is why this is a backup plan. Doesn’t help that these guys are out of whatever high-ex rounds they had, and their buddies in the boats are turning around for shore now that I’m giving the Statue a taste of my rocket.

We circled the statue. Brazilian, check. No breast implants, though. Had to go with a breast reduction. Oh well, it’ll help the old lady’s back. Blew the right one clean off. I guess we’re going for an Amazon look. Not much to do with the back itself. I was tempted to make that booty nice and flat, but the last one has to count. So clearly I had to go for the cheek lift. Problem is, I opened up a whole.

Well, crap. It’s just like Max told Good Doctor this one time, “Happiness is not a warm scalpel.” Or maybe Doc said that to Max. Maybe I just imagined someone saying it. Oh well.

Either way, I saw a slim and trim Paveman bounding along the walkway and grab some sort of handhold right near the face hold. He swung out along the face and seemed to meld with the copper to help himself up to the top.

What the fuck was he doing there, you ask? Don’t feel bad, I asked it too. But with fewer cusswords, you sick freaks. Now fucking pay attention. He made his way to the top of the crown and it looked like he was pulling in a shitload of that green copper. Then it all changed. He sank into it, like it was too much and it was eating him up. Then I saw the blasted portions and torn metal pull together and reform into an undamaged tarnished. Except the face, boobs, and crotch weren’t fully repairs. Nope. They became male.

“Back up, boys. Shit is going down,” I warned the pilot. He was right there with me and pulled back. The view he left me with showed a State of Paveman. I considered that maybe he wanted to do something like my plan.

Then he stepped forward.

One of the smarter Greens pounded on the back of the pilot’s seat. “Grab your shit, motherfucker, let’s go!” I had no disagreement. We hauled ass back to shore, although the Greens insisted they be let off. I dropped down with them. Good thing Apollo wasn’t still right there.

“Alright, boys, glad to see you’re still willing to put up a fight. I’ll tie up with the right arm and left leg. You guys, see if you can find something to take one of them off while I have it distracted,” I instructed and held up my glowing fists in an old timey boxing stance. I didn’t hear anything back. I turned to look and found they’d all made a run for the city. “Guys? Hey guys, where are you going, the fight’s this way!”

“Screw you!”

“Hey, you work for me!” I tried to point out, but they ignored me and drove off.

I just had to watch as Paveman swatted and kicked at the other boats. He plucked the gangbangers out of the water and held them in one giant, and presumably jolly, green hand. Then he turned to me. As I can’t really drain the charge from my gloves, I unloaded on a dumpster laying on its side. It didn’t reach nearly far enough.

I disappeared and only watched as far as Paveman yanking the escaping chopper out of the air and tearing the blades off.

Looks like someone took my lesson about stepping over the line for once. He got in a lot of trouble, but there’s a limit to how much even I could fight that thing. There’s also a limit to how long Paveman could possibly stay in there. Even by stopping me, he’s annoying Empyreal City to no end.

And, just to be clear, I do give the guy points for style. He’s living it up and doing Halloween parades in that thing, complete with that “Higher and Higher” song and a huge police detail. For right now, though, there’s nothing to do but put on a tan jumpsuit and try to get a picture with the thing, especially because none of the gangs are returning my calls. Like fighting a colossus is really that scary. Not that I’d do it alone right now.

I even found a bunch of beat up Reds around my apartment when I got back. Not only did they chicken out, they tried to come after where I lay my head at night. Once again, glad to have Moai there to stomp mudholes in those Bolshevik bastards. Especially with these legs.

Hope y’all have a Happy Halloween even without the destruction of a national monument. I know I’ll try to with the aid of lots and lots of candy, preferably stolen from humans that are incapable of walking on their own.

 

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Get Wrecked 8

Mwahaha. Hahahahahahaha! Ahahahahahahahahaha! Cue lightning strike there.

You don’t know how hard it is for me to resist putting a pinky to my mouth when I do that. Luckily, I don’t have that problem when I pull off a real, mad scientist-grade evil laugh. You know, one of those where you just can’t stop laughing at all the destructive power in your hands. For me, it usually involves something where committing a war crime is as easy as pulling a trigger.

Seems like I’ve lost my wonderful laugh lately. So hard to just enjoy the little things, like going for a stroll, flashing back to a time you were ambushed by infantry trying to stop you destroying their world, then coming back to your senses in the middle of somebody’s house with lots of blood and few solid body parts laying around.

Maybe that’s just me, though.

One final coffin nail. One more. No more need to wallow in worry and paranoia over plans not coming together all because I have to have one to take down these heroes. It’s a joke. Heroes aren’t going to do on their own what they can’t do as a team. More on that later, actually.

The update from Dame had some interesting things.

“Paveman was let go as part of financial haggling. The accountants trying to clean up the team of those who seem less effective in battle to mitigate agreements made before the change in corporate leadership. He is bitter, but not disgruntled. His son is visiting him to cheer him up. He tends toward alcoholism and wallowing in memories. Enjoys cheap beer and the movie Red Dawn. Is planning on looking into a gang meet to discuss the hostilities and presence of possible third party interference.

Computer reveals leftover details about you. They aren’t sure what’s wrong with you, but suspect a combination of mental disorders, save for Venus. She suspects your actions are unconventional, but deliberate. They leave enemies unable to react and make you appear more intimidating. Sanely choosing actions to make less imaginative minds think you’re crazy. Lone Gunman supports analysis, is in favor of extreme measures to end the threat. Lone Gunman disciplined by Forcelight.”

Sounds nice. I hope she used something more forceful than a boarding school paddle. Damn, if they put that on video, that’d take care of their funding permanently. Not that I’d buy it, of course.

It was nice knowledge to have, especially in light to a little meet and greet I’d arranged. My armor may not be the fanciest or most powerful out there. Doesn’t give me the most incredible of super strength, just enough to get by. It’s bullet proof, except against big enough guns with armor piercing bullets. There are special sheathes of energy it can create around the gloves, but they have to charge up and are useful for hand to hand only. It provides life support, but I can’t patch it up without easily expended nanites. I can leap tall buildings in a single bound…provided I like the sound of breaking bones in the morning. Which I do, though I prefer if they weren’t my own. The computer helps me a great deal, but when can I pay attention to it in the heat of battle? What it has that other power armor, doesn’t, though? My brain interfacing with it and the numerous small cameras and projectors placed around it to create realistic holograms, some of which disguise me or render me invisible.

As you may have noticed by now, I love to put that to use more than any other aspect of it. In this case, I went to each gang disguised as a member of that gang to report on a new development: the guy who tore the bosses’ houses apart wanted to speak about terms of peace in the city before he had to kill too many more people.

It was raining lightly when Moai and I showed up for the meeting. I know, I know, with my sunny disposition you imagine it’s been nothing but clear skies and sunshine, but that’s just not the way the world works. I appeared to be nothing more than a man in a black suit with sunglasses on. Moai himself was dressed in a large coat and fedora. He was too big to pass as a normal human, but I just wanted his face and body concealed enough. I hid a speaker and receiver around his neck too.

See, it’s entirely possible that these guys will be a little upset at me killing their friends, and those old Space Marine weapons have been known to shoot holes in my body. I’d much rather have Moai there if people go from gun shy to trigger happy. I really need to build me some more of those holodisks. This constant back and forth hasn’t been good for my stockpiles of gadgetry.

As soon as I was done, I stepped around behind Moai and vanished into thin air. I took up a position on a nearby rooftop.

They all showed up. The Greens were punctual, at least, arriving in some Tesla car. I expected it to be full of smoke when it showed, but that wasn’t the case. Instead, the Green guy, whose name I never bothered learning, stepped out. You know, he’s black and that makes it work a little better, but I’ve been wondering lately what is up with these eco-types and dreadlocks? Is it better for the planet to not wash their hair so much, and if so, why not just cut it really short or try baldness?

He had four guys with him. One stayed in the car while the others approached with him. The two in the rear had shotguns. The one alongside him had a pistol’s bulge at the bottom of his shirt.

The Yurples showed then. I didn’t recognize the make of the car. If I’d heard of it, they wouldn’t have thought it was cool enough to drive in. Same kind of set up. One guy stood guard at the car with a handgun and a chainsword. The rest formed an entourage around the white guy with the facial scruff and a business suit. A suit. Huh.

The Reds drove up rather noisily in a hummer that was loud enough without the vibrating bass. The jovial attitude of the Reds ended when they shut off the vehicle and stepped out. This guy was black too, but with the bald head and thick beard of a true revolutionary. Big fellow as well. Unlike the Soviet Union, this guy’s not running out of food.

Reminds me of a real joke I heard they used to have. “How do you know that Adam and Eve were USSR citizens?”

Answer: “They had no clothes, one apple to eat between them, and were told they lived in paradise.”

By the way, if anyone wants to suggest a better term than black in the comments, go ahead. I’m aware of the term African American, but I find it odd in application towards people who have lived here for just as long or longer than the white people. Remember, don’t hate someone for their skin tone. Hate them because, whether black, white, red, brown, yellow, orange, indigo, or periwinkle, people are often assholes.

The head of the Reds had brought two more guys with him, but two stuck with the getaway vehicle this time.

All in all, much more manageable of a group than I anticipated. I was certain they’d bring a lot more. I guess I just don’t know a whole lot about things at that particular level of criminality.

They were all gathered together, clearly distrusting of one another, but they wanted some answers.

So they approached.

“Uh uh!” I said through Moai’s speaker. “Just the head honchos get to honch on over here. Step right up, boys and girls. Or pretty much just guys. Demographically challenged, are we?”

“Who the fuck are you supposed to be?” queried Big Red.

“I’m the guy whose been kicking your asses for a little while now using the power of paranoia and interpretive dance. I’ve been taking it easy, actually. But every casualty of your little war, every dollar lost, each one of your homes blown up…that’s all me.”

“What do you want calling us here like this?” asked the Yurple guy.

“Out of the goodness of my heart, I’m here to give peace a chance. See, I have a scheme coming up that needs some manpower, and y’all have manpower. Working together, we can do even more amazing things in my name than ever before!”

Green spoke up this time, “Uh huh. What’s in it for us, player?”

“A metric assload of money, and a little recognition for helping pull something that makes a real mark. Something that lets people across the nation know you’re no one to fuck with! Also, I’ll stop killing you. Refuse, and I’ll keep killing and find another way. Peace sells, gentlemen. Who’s buying?”

They all chose peace, at least in this matter. Full control of the gangs? No. Working together on a joint project for a respite and money? Yes. Good enough, and it got even better when we had an unexpected visitor show up.

Paveman made his grand appearance by overturning the Greens’ car. The leaders all got out of his way as he shifted to come right at Moai. “This ends tonight!” he yelled. He tore off the coat and hat to reveal…Moai! See, that’s the problem of this being from my perspective. You miss out on some of the surprises.

Moai hopped up and slammed his head down on Paveman’s, knocking him to the ground. Paveman went to one knee, then rose up from it to uppercut Moai. The two exchanged blows until a different sort of precipitation made its way through the air. There’s been a lot of miniguns around lately, but the one mounted on the Humvee and kept hidden below the sun roof was one of the more welcome ones. It knocked Paveman down. When he tried to stand up, a Green bodyguard kneecapped him with a bolt gun and put him down again.

I dropped down and approached the scene as the leaders all wondered what to do about him.

“Gimme some room. I’ll handle him,” I said as I appeared and pushed my way through the group. They gawked. “Might want to have someone see to the guy in the car, and maybe arrange alternate transportation?” I really just wanted a moment alone.

They recognized the voice and gawked a little, then put some distance between themselves, myself, Moai, and Paveman.

“Ouchies. Probably something you can heal by now, but that’s gotta hurt.”

“You.”

“The one and only. The man who keeps on beating that hero ass.”

“What’s gang warfare to you?”

“Just another tool. Just people dying for a cause they know nothing about.”

“You’re a monster. No. You’re a dick.”

“Nice assessment. I’m also unstoppable, and you know why?”

He didn’t say anything. Not the first time a villain just wanted to get something off his chest. Most people have friends with phones or Facebook. We hold people at our mercy. Generally, it works out better to let us talk. It also saves on therapist costs, to hear some guys tell it.

“So, this one night I’m out walking around, years back. I approached a bridge and saw on it a couple: a young man and a young woman. They talked, then held hands, and then went to jump, together, hand in hand. Except the young fellow faked it and let go, letting the female go splatty-thuddy over the road. She died before I even got close. You see, a lot of good people are that little girl. Play by the rules, hold to promises, even when the rules and promises are horrible. Sometimes sticking with the way things are means insuring your own destruction.”

I saw Paveman sitting up and motion to Moai, who pinned him by his hand. “But those of us who aren’t so nice will lie and get away with whatever we want. Like with the girl and boy again. Even if a cop or you yourself had been there, the most you’d have done was arrest the guy. Because the good is ever too fettered by what is right to do what is necessary to defeat those not constrained by the social contract.”

I patted Paveman on the head, unsure if anyone ever got my parables anyway, then began to charge up that glove. “You know, I found that guy and I dropped him out a plane. Don’t worry, I threw him a parachute too. Well, actually, it was a pack for a parachute filled with a bunch of loose feathers.”

I raised the charged glove up, prepared to strike. Even a stone man is a lot less of a problem if he’s just a head. “Goodbye Paveman.”

Before I could take Paveman’s head off, a crash came from behind me. It was Apollo, the marble-statue-looking hero that worked with Venus. He had tilted the Yurples’ unknown car on its side, then jumped on the Humvee and tore the gun off.

He made his way toward Paveman and myself, partially shielding himself with the door he tore off the Humvee. I gave Moai the signal for “let’s get out of here” and cut to stealth. Trap? I didn’t know. But where one member of Shieldwall is, there is a disturbing tendency for more to arrive. It wasn’t a standoff, though. My point was made, even if Paveman survived. The gangs got clear, but had to walk, while Apollo was stuck tending to his father. Yep. Chip off the old block.

Ok, so I wanted to kill them, but these gangbangers were more concerned with injuries and rides. A lot less cowering in fear involved in that than I hoped for. Still, that act of disloyalty telegraphs that they’re most likely going to turn on me later. It’s the guns and the environment. Too many supers around, combined with having guns that can turn people into lifeless fruit salad gelatin.

But for now…more evil laughter. Bwahahahahaha!

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Two Tickets to Paradise 11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Where are you, by the Burger King?”

“We’re at the casino.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What is this, Ouroboros?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Undying dragon my ass.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What? I hit a touchy subject.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I held his shattered skull.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Douche.

Next

Previous

Bananarama 11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What was that?” I humored her.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh, and readers? Made you look.

 

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A New Boss in Kingscrow 8

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Except the DAs,” added Max.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Will you people stop that already!”

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

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

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

“You would know!”

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

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

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

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

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