Tag Archives: Penny

Aussiefied 1

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A funny thing happened on the way to Australia. Yeah, Australia. I had a hunch. All good evil geniuses need a hunch, though usually they come separate on their own person.

Unfortunately, neither Penny nor the President could confirm anything, so I said my goodbyes to the Pres and dragged Penny onto airplane. Oh, Moai and Carl came too. I had to ship Moai, but he got full use of my luxury crate this time. I suggested he try something a little light, like “The Importance of Being Earnest” or “John Dies at the End”.

As for the rest of us, a public worked out wonderfully. Penny didn’t understand it, but I like to surround myself by people. I do it not out of any enjoyment of the human condition or anything like that. I’m sure witnesses to my little joke last time around have their own suspicions. But really, no matter how seriously anyone took that, it’s not like I said anything about turning pacifist, now did I? Nope, though I still like to get out in the middle of people in order to better remember why it is I want to slaughter them wholesale. It’s all well and good for philosophers to debate the sublime reasoning of humans, but it’s quite another to see two people’s battle for an armrest set to the soundtrack of a crying baby.

And just like that, my life of killing people seemed perfectly justified. It wasn’t my fault, your honor! The baby was clearly asking for it! After all, the mother gave it milk, a pacifier, a toy, a bedtime story, cooing, singing, and a fresh diaper. Clearly, this baby’s inability to shut the hell up showed it to be dangerously irrational. It may have snapped and killed us all! I mean, who is going to stop a murder baby? People would coo and call it adorable no matter how many heads it bashed in with its rattle, no matter how blood-drenched it got, and no matter how ugly it is. Seriously, I’ve never understood people’s inability to see that. Then again, I don’t always get abstract art. Maybe babies that are so ugly appeal to the same sense of people liking abstract art.

It would certainly explain the significant amounts of poop involved in both areas. That kid was a perpetual-motion machine of bodily sewage. Put in a tiny bit of food, get a tidal wave of crap in return. That little fucker could have solved the world’s power crisis if given enough vegetable paste.

Believe it or not, it’s not me who did anything about it, either. That honor went to Penny. She got my attention by tapping me on the shoulder and directing my view to the window. “I saw something on the wing.”

I patted her condescendingly on the head. “Oh, don’t you fuss. It’s probably just a gremlin or some other sort of creature hoping to bring this thing down. We’re almost to Australia, though, so at most it’ll dump us in the middle of a bunch of sharks or toxic octopi.”

She glared at me. “This is serious!”

Everybody loves to tell me that, but so few of the situations really are. I stuck my tongue at her, but I leaned over her to peer out the window anyway. Typical. She didn’t want to trade me the window seat, but now she wants me looking out it. Wait, typical of what? Darn pop cultural linguistics osmosis!

I didn’t see anything out the window, though I saw something in the window’s reflection. It surprised me. A plane window clean enough to reflect something? It just isn’t done. Next you’ll be telling me Penny was an evil robot sent to assassinate me!

So, anyway, what I saw was Penny’s mouth opening wide and the barrel of a laser poking out. She grabbed for me, but it was too late to hold me still. I wiggled downward and pulled my body away. She activated her oral laser too late and burned a hole in the window.

That sucked. It blew quite a bit too. Cabin pressure problems, you see. Oxygen masks dropped from the overhead compartment. I knew I was supposed to place the mask over my own before assisting anyone else with theirs, but it seemed like a bad time. Besides, Penny turned her face toward the rest of the cabin.

I grabbed her by the throat and angled her head upwards. I didn’t put a lot of thought into then forcing her to carve out a hole I could throw her out of. Looking back, I don’t know if she was a robot from the start, or if Technolutionary replaced her at some point between when I met her and the flight. Hell, I don’t know if she even knew enough to understand what was going on.

I’ll tell you what I did know. I knew she was shooting a laser beam out of her mouth to try and kill me while we were both inside an airplane. Not only that, she managed to get a few last shots in on it while she fell through the air.

On the plus side, at least I didn’t have to put up with any more of her mouth.

So despite a little fire and lots of screaming, we managed to put in a safe little landing in the waters of the Coral Sea off Queensland. It was a big mess. Lots of boats to rescue us, some waiting around, official statements, and then releasing people’s luggage. You’d think it’d be more likely they would have found my armor, but they realized pretty early on they were dealing with a laser mouth. Under those circumstances, they thought a bag check was unnecessary. Free at last, Carl and I made our way to Brisbane to hide out while Moai flew over separately.

The reason we were in town is I wanted to send Venus a few presents so she wouldn’t forget about me. When I thought of what cute and cuddly little critters I wanted to jump out of a box and surprise her, Australia immediately came to mind. I left Carl to prepare for our stay. The usual. Transport, a steady source of decent food, and a list of places of interest. In the short term, the hotel we checked into was more than happy to call us a taxi.

I don’t care if they called us freaky, tentacle-faced motherfuckers. The process helped me acclimate to Aussies driving on the wrong side of the road. Figures. Fill an island with criminals and they all wind up driving in the oncoming lane. On the other hand, it worked out pretty well with all of them doing it.

Anyway, enough about the driving habits of highly alcoholic people. I had to go meet a man about a wombat. I met the fellow at a public bench. He wore a trench coat and a fedora, thereby making my own trenchcoat unfashionable. I sat down next to him and tapped my foot on the ground in a complex code. Then I slid closer and pressed my cheek to his. “Hey, you got the stuff?”

He held up a hand and nodded, looking around with eyes hidden behind dark sunglasses. He opened up his coat, reached past the cheap knockoff watches hanging on the inside, and pulled out a big fuzzy puppy thingy.

He held the wombat out to me as it swung its little legs in the air. I just stared at it. He shook it up and down toward me. “Take it!” he hissed.

I held out my hands. “The fuck is this shit? This is a wombat? I mean, I know I saw the pictures, but I expected hidden claws and fangs…maybe giant poison spines. Are you sure this thing is from this continent?” It was a fat, fuzzy, brown rodent thing the size of a small dog and no tail.

The man sighed, then dropped the wombat in my lap and gave it a hard slap on the back of the head. Angered, the critter snarled with its cute little snout and started clawing at me. I growled too and grabbed for its cute wittle paws. While I worried about that, it bit into the front of my coat. It didn’t get through, but it damn sure bit in and held on. As for me, I stood up, holding its front paws and trying to shake it off.

Next to me, the man quickly glanced around, then stood up and tried to get away from my display. I didn’t let him. Trapping him with an arm on either side, tried to dislodge the wombat by ramming my body against the other man’s. “Get off! Get off! Ah! Ah! Get off, you hairy bastard!”

Passerby stopped to watch as I humped the fellow with the marsupial between us. “It’s ok!” I shouted to curious voyeurs. “This isn’t what it looks like! We’ve got an animal between us!” That drew gasps. In retrospect, we looked really bad with both of us in coats like that. You can hide a lot under a coat, like nudity.

Trying to get away, the broker turned and tried to climb over the bench. I grabbed him by the shoulders and held him as I rubbed my belly and the toothy marsupial against him. The wombat dropped to the ground and started chewing on some grass. I let out a sigh and clapped my broker on the shoulder. “It’s ok. It’s released.”

“Please let me go,” the man said.

I stepped back and picked up the wombat. It had calmed down somewhat. I lifted it up and cuddled the little guy. “You know, these things are some fuzzy little evil attack rats. How much for a box of fifty?”

“Fuck that!” exclaimed the unscrupulous and cowardly broker. “I can’t get you that many.”

He turned around and scooted to the side to get away. I stepped closer, settling the wombat on his shoulder. “Now, now. A fellow like you must know someone who can get me a bunch of these things for a little experiment.”

“Get it off me.”

“I think we’ve gotten it off enough already,” I stole the fedora off the man’s head and set it on the wombat’s. I ruffled his hair. The man’s, not the wombat. “I’m new here. I’m sure I could give you a nice finder’s fee for your trouble. And for this guy.”

“Get it away and I’ll hook you up.”

Grinning, I lifted up the cuddly killer critter and set it on my own shoulder, letting it keep the man’s hat. It turns out wombats are excellent at persuading people to talk. My contact there was all too happy to keep his word and give me a name and a number. He relaxed a bit more with the nasty business of wombat combat out of the way, though he had one last question for me.

“What do you want these things for? Who are you?”

I gritted my teeth and stared at him like some grim, angsty avenger of the night. In a voice like gravel, I answered, “I’m Wombatman.”

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Psychos of the Caribbean 10

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Fee, fi, fo, fum, I smell a serious lack of rum. And food. And toilet paper. Days after slaying Mr. Gold, we were still stranded here. It didn’t really matter that I kidnapped Penny, either, except I had to take care of her. This is why some people shouldn’t have pets. I should never be responsible for another living being. Hell, I neglect Moai a lot of the time and he’s not even technically alive. Usually, I give whatever poor sap who lives with me a chance to forage for themselves. And yes, I’ve cooked for them on occasion. But on occasion isn’t the same as every day straight.

Plus, have y’all ever tried to feed anybody tied up in ropes? It’s horrible, especially if they’re a biter. Then you have to do something to their mouth and blend the food to a liquid. I don’t care how much you love cheeseburgers, nobody wants to eat a liquid burger.

I didn’t cover up Penny’s mouth. I should have, I suppose, but once she got the initial outrage out of her system, she hurl as much invective at me and the guys. That doesn’t mean she didn’t give us some lip. After noting that the place was running low on fresh water, food, and toilet paper, she spoke up to say “This wouldn’t have happened if you didn’t kill a man for no reason.”

I shoved a Burrito Bell mini-Amigo Burrito into her open mouth to shut her up. “I killed him for a perfectly good reason. I wanted to. Works for me. After all, I can’t be too evil if everyone I kill was asking for it.” Actually, I can. I’m just a cynical enough asshole to know everyone is asking for it. There’s a reason I know all the words to “Epiphany” from Sweeney Todd.

But seriously, it would be stupid if I had an excuse for every body I killed. Did Genghis Khan have a good excuse when he nailed Muslim envoys’ turbans to their heads? Did Ahab have a good excuse for hunting that damn white whale to the ends of the Earth? Does your cat have a good excuse for plotting to murder you in your sleep next Tuesday? Stop! Don’t turn around. It mustn’t suspect you know.

But, yeah, this place relied heavily on regular shipments of supplies from the mainland. Something about the giant freezers being torn apart as an unnecessary relic to collectivism and statism or something, to read Gold’s notes on it. Good thing he’s on ice now. As for me, I just wanted to leave, but then the announcement went out. I’m not sure why they waited so long, but the shortage seems reasonable for why that day, of any of them, the old speakers crackled to life.

“Citizens of Libersea.” Ok, so it addressed more than just me. “And our guest, Psycho Gecko.” See? I got my own part of the announcement. Yay! “You’re all going to die on this station.” Not so yay. “Apart from a select few of you, that is.” Yay? “For I need test subjects.” No fucking yay.

My commentary aside, there wasn’t much to the message. “I control the weather keeping you all here on this old sea fortress. I invite any who seeks escape to take the elevator down and try me.”

Interesting. A trap that the prey chooses to walk into. Given the choice between certain death and uncertain death, people often choose the uncertain death. Of course, that’s a matter of perspective. As someone who frequently uses that very tactic, I know that it’s usually just a choice between two different kinds of certain death. The difference is that one version allows a mastermind such as myself to control an enemy through hope.

So after the speakers ceased their crackling, I just plopped on my bed there in the suite and resolved to not bother right then. Maybe I could find a way around it?

“Of course you aren’t going to do something. That would be helping, wouldn’t it?” Penny asked. Carl glanced at her and shook his head, then returned to cleaning his minipistol. Moai didn’t even look up from his whittling.

“He wants people to go down there. He has a trap set up down there. It won’t help if I go down there and get killed.” I snuggled against the mattress and began spooning with a pillow.

“It’s the only choice besides starving,” she said wistfully, lowering her face to stare at the floor or perhaps her tied-up body.

“Don’t be silly. We’ll all die of dehydration before we have time to starve,” I said to comfort her. She started sobbing. “If you want to help, maybe tell me who that was. Gold’s dead, right? That was him up there. So who is downstairs?” I sat up. Hooking my foot around the leg of Penny’s chair, I pulled her closer.

“A scientist. I never found his name. His deal was with my boss. I made out the checks to a corporate account, some generic name. I’ve heard so many they blend together. It was Globodyne or Penetrode or Initech. He only passed through the upper floors for as long as it took him to move his stuff to the elevator. I never saw him up here after that.

This just kept getting interestinger and interestinger. “He upgraded the weather beacons.”

“I think,” Penny said, nodding along.

“Carl,” I said, motioning to the rope. Carl stood up and pulled a knife out of a sheath behind his back. That got Penny panicking. She kicked and screamed up until she felt the ropes loosen up and fall away from around her. I leaned back on the pillow I’d previously been spooning with. “Huh. After seeing this place, I figured your boss’s science team was as overblown as the rest of his little vision here. Before I came here, I actually wanted to meet the person responsible for all the real damage to Isla Tropica. Looks like the feeling’s mutual. Did he look unusual at all? You know, like glowing eyes or extra limbs?”

Penny missed the question at first. Too caught up in massaging where the ropes pressed against her the tightest. When I repeated myself, she answered back. “He looked skinny.”

That’s a no. Unless he had the power of being skinny. It’s a real power. They just have to turn sideways to avoid bullets. On the bad side, they’re pretty much screwed if even one hits them. Or if pretty much anything his them. Or if it gets cold. Speaking of skinniness, it gave me an idea.

“How does he get food down there?” I asked.

Penny’s face shot up as she rubbed at her wrists. “My boss has some of it sent down to him.”

I pulled her out of the chair by her blouse and held her in front of my face. “I need to know this…are there any cameras at all on the main level the guy down there could be watching us through?”

She shook her head. Yay. I threw on my armor and got out into the hall to do some classic taunting.

After a little bit of rooting around in one of the electrical boxes and hunting down the newer wiring that led to the speakers, I decided to send a message of my own with the aid of a handy microphone that some guy wanted to charge me too much for. He found my counteroffer a foot up his asshole. “Dear ladies and gentlemen of Libersea, as well as our basement-dwelling guest who wishes us dead or in test tubes. I have no intention of putting on a test tube top. I don’t have the stomach for it. Belly’s just not concave enough. While this situation may be enough to convex even the sharpest of minds, I have realized something very important. You aren’t going anywhere either. Seaplane, boat, helicopter; the way in is up here. So the people up here are looking at a food shortage…and so are you. So what we’ve got here is one man besieged without an exit by a horde of hungry folks who need to be rid of you to be safe. Isn’t that right?”

The gathering crowd gave a halfhearted cheer. I popped out the Nasty Surprise and turned my head to glance back at them. “I said, is that right?” They got behind me in a hurry that time.

I cleared my throat before going on, picking up a rhythm in my speaking. “Heya guy, it’s Psycho, from the suite up the shaft. Good to see ya buddy, how ya been? Things have been ok for me except that I’m a zombie now. I really wish you’d let us in. I think I speak for all of us- come on everybody, join in – when I say I understand why you folks may hesitate to submit to our demand.” Figuring people just didn’t know the lyrics, I threw the lyrics up in the air via hologram.

“But here’s an FYI, you’re gonna die screaming all we wanna do is eat your brains! We’re not unreasonable, I mean no one’s gonna eat your eyes.” Finally, people started joining in. “All we wanna do is eat your brains. We’re at an impasse here, maybe we should compromise. If you open the door, we’ll all come inside and eat your braaaaaaaaain!”

I walked over to the elevator Carl told me about. Not the same one I went up in, but the one that had stayed locked down. “I don’t want to nitpick, Tom, but is this really your plan? Spend you whole life locked inside a mall? Maybe that’s ok for now, but someday you’ll be out of food and guns, then you’ll have to make the call.”

The rest of my conscripted zombie hoard kept on singing up awhile. I think things started to get awkward, but then the elevator started moving.

It’s also possible that I reminded him that, if people start dropping, I had far more bodies to chew on when the food ran out. But what do I know? I’m just the crazy guy, not a master of psychological warfare or anything.

I expected a confrontation with the man behind the man really behind the attacks on Isla Tropica. Instead, he sent his zombies. His robots, really. I saw the cage rise with a bunch of men and women with shaved, scarred heads. They stood perfectly still as they stared blankly ahead, and I mean perfectly. Most twitch a little or engage in small gestures that they don’t even think about. Nope. These were all still.

They were the robot people. The cyber…dudes, maybe? I’m bad at thinking up names. Needless to say, most of the people backing me up didn’t want any part. When the doors opened, most them ran away from the oncoming mob. At least a few of the guys with guns pointed them in the right direction, though their accuracy was shit. That’s what happens when you take the lowest offer on protection.

I ran into the crowd of robot zombie people, though. I took a head off with the Nasty Surprise, spun, grabbed one in a headlock, and used him to brace myself for a flip that wrenched his head off. I used that head to stave in another head, then jumped. I landed on a pair of the robot people, wrapping my calves around one neck and my forearms around another. Then I flipped them both forward, driving their heads into the hard floor. Getting back to my feet was as simple as a pushup with the muscle enhancers.

Through all of this, I noticed the elevator head down again. Reinforcements? If I could get to it in time to hitch a ride, I could take this guy unawares. He’d likely have his traps or defenses offline to account for sending his robots out.

When the elevator arrived again after a short minute, that proved easier said than done. These weren’t just people with some internal robot parts. These things were cyborgs. Some of the men were all big and ripped, like body builders. Metal broke the skin on their arms, chests, and faces. Some of the others were smaller, with blades instead of hands. I saw a couple had gun barrels sticking out of their mouths and laser sights in place of eyes.

I jumped into the air about twenty feet, or however high the second story ceiling was, and jammed the Nasty Surprise into metal to hold on for a moment. My second jump rocketed me toward the elevator. Dun dun dun dun dun, dun da-dun!

I took the head off one of the mouth gunners as I skidded to a kneeling halt in the elevator. A laser beam shot out of its mouth, taking the head off another of its compatriots. I sliced through another couple of them before the beam stopped and the laser targeting eyes stopped. Stomping it on the floor of the elevator put an end to any chance of resurrection.

The elevator opened after a hasty ride to reveal some treaded robot with two arms carrying a three-foot device toward the elevator. It had a rectangular cuboid head with one giant eye camera in the middle of it. When it saw me, protective shutters around the eye drew back, making it look wider. I rushed forward and took its head off with the Surprise, causing it to drop the gadget with a thud.

The thud prompted movement. Something jumped at the sound. The something turned out to be a thin man in a lab coat. He turned from a computer station to see that he couldn’t see me. I was invisible. The guy saw the beheaded robot and ran for a curtain to the side of the computer station. I ran for it too, once I saw the direction he was headed. I didn’t make it before a purple light blasted the room in a wide angle and a suit of power armor shot into the air.

It was one hell of a suit. Very close light blue and purple plates finished shifting closed over the front of the body. It was all very tight, very much customized to one particular body. The faceplate looked like a purple metal face staring down at me with all the emotion of the robots upstairs, though the eyes were replaced with lenses that themselves resembled eyes. When he spoke, his voice reverberated with a bit of an edge from the speakers boosting the sound. Like a very close echo.

“Psycho Gecko. We meet at last.” He raised one wrist and tapped at buttons or something, not looking around.

“No, we meet at first!” I said, moving well away from where I spoke before throwing myself into the air for to grab hold of him. At the last moment, he turned his face and pointed his fist right at me. A purple beam shot out from a forearm panel and knocked me back. Knocked me back. That’s significant. Plasma, lasers, masers, and spasers wouldn’t have managed that. No significant mass to them.

I fell back onto a railing and then the floor under it, but at least it gave me a view of the jet pack on this guy’s back. Good. He wouldn’t stay up indefinitely. Those things tend to have fuel problems. His armor also looked like it couldn’t carry too much in the way of power…well, except this was probably the guy with the hockey puck nuclear generators.

“I hoped you would listen to me, but I prepared for your usual response,” the man in the armor said. “I should mention I know exactly where you are.” He turned and looked right at me to emphasize the point. I decloaked.

“Ok, so you know a bit more about me than I do about you. But it’s a little hard to expect me to listen when you made a big announcement about putting me in a tube top. Nobody puts baby in a tube top.” I pointed at him, then raised the finger and shook it from side to side as I stood up.

He tilted his head to the side. “Yes, but I didn’t mean that for you. You and I have so much to talk about. So much to collaborate on. That’s why I lured you here.”

I strolled around this little lab casually, making sure not to turn and stare as my 360 display pointed out the weather control interface, the robot brain drives, and the tactical nuclear weapon. That one turned out to be the thing the robot dropped. Ok, that one I stopped to look at. “Yeah, sure. Talk. That’s what you wanted to do with that thing.”

He scoffed. “You could survive it somehow. I’ve watched you. I have every ounce of data possible to dig up on you.”

That’s not strange at all. I put my hands on my hips and looked up at him, wondering when that damn pack would run out of fuel. Or if it ran on fuel. “What did I do to have you comb through my garbage for used underwear? I kill someone you loved? Someone you hated?”

He shook his head, waving hands emphasizing the misunderstanding. “No, no, no, no, no! You are beautiful. You are important to my research. You are the evolution of humanity. I seek what you have…evolution to a higher level of being through integration with advanced technology.”

“Some would argue that I’m not exactly an exemplary model despite being what you think of as more highly evolved.” I stepped a bit closer to the weather machine.

Before I could touch it, the man fired another burst of purple light in my direction. I dodged back. This time, the glow remained as a rounded forcefield formed between myself and the machine. So that’s what he’s doing…an actual forcefield.

“Stop! This is important. Just listen. I understand you. You are right to spit on humanity. Pteh!” He mimicked said spitting, then reached up to rub a hand over the metal mouth on the head of his armor. “Oh dear. I didn’t think that through.” Ha! Too bad it wasn’t a loogie. “Humans are horrible to one another. War, disease, struggles for resources. But I can change it. I must change it, because I can. Evolution guided solely by the environment has reached the end of its usefulness for civilization. It is time mankind took his destiny into his own hands.”

He raised a hand to the air. “I can shape the evolution of mankind. I have the ability to upgrade humanity. For that, I need you and your amazing physiology.” The hand fell so that he held it out toward me.

I shook my head and stepped forward. “Nope. That’s horrible! I know we’re making Star Whores: The Milf Awakens here, but you need to stop acting like a fucking Hamlet reject! Even porn audiences have their limit.” I threw down a holographic script. “Somebody get me Casting, I’m gonna have to ream somebody for this. What do you even call yourself, kid?”

He stared at me. “I’m thirty years old, not some delusional kid who thinks he has all the answers. I am the Technolutionary. I have a dream and we can make this place better. More like your home. More advanced. You must feel like Nikola Tesla surrounded by cavemen! I want to tear down this backwards culture, to build something better from the ashes. Something that will bring the world together and make people right.”

Poor bastard. He’s spent so long wrapped up in his theories that he’s gone cuckoo. Utterly detached from normal reasoning. And if those robots were anything to go by, his priorities are solely about getting what he wants rather than conventional ideas of morality and immorality.

I liked this guy. His idea was stupid, but I liked him. “The people on this planet can’t even handle skin colors after a few thousand years, but you want to give them all a bunch of cybernetics? Assholes can’t drive right and you want to strap them into jet packs like you got there?” I pointed at his torso. “Don’t get me wrong, your vision isn’t completely bad. It’ll kill a lot of people, I guarantee you. Or are those folks you sent upstairs just a little more reserved about how much better they feel?”

“What a jumbled response. Those people are experiments. Prototypes. Cybernetic integration is difficult on normal humans. That’s why I wanted you here.”

“That’s right!” I said, wandering around to nonchalantly reach the edge of the forcefield between me and the weather machine. “You mentioned that already. You brought me here? You convinced Gold to fly me in?” I clenched my fists, powering up the energy sheaths.

“I knew you were on Isla Tropica. I hacked the CIA. They don’t want to pursue you into other countries because then you are not their problem. When you didn’t attack Libersea on your own, I gave Gold the idea to hire you.”

I gotta be honest, I really have no desire to save the world. And even though it may just cause another world war instead, I also have no desire to somehow make a bunch more people with my abilities. I like being unique. I’m like a homicidal snowflake.

Plus, even though I already knew everything revolved around me, this guy was, like, watching me jack it and stuff. And he wasn’t even paying by credit card for the privilege. Fuck it, I’ll just go through the forcefield.

I punched the field. The energy surrounding my fist counteracted the field and dispersed it, opening the way to the weather device. Except another force blast hit in front of me and generated another one. I repowered the sheath and jumped onto a nearby databank. The Technolutionary adjusted his aim and fired again.

For the first time in years, I got to use the sheaths for something like their original purpose. The Justice Rangers didn’t use force blasts or forcefields, though. This time, I brought my fists together and deflected the blast right back at the Technolutionary. It rocked him back in the air and formed a sphere that trapped him. I cartwheeled to the side, landed on the weather controller, and plunged my hand into it. Metal crumpled like Kleenex in the hands of an excited teenage boy as I reached in and wrecked the system.

My display showed the Technolutionary at work with his forearm panel and blaster, reversing some polarity or whatever freaky science he used. While he busied himself with that, I stepped on over to the nuclear bomb. Unsealing a gauntlet freed a hand for me to reach down and use my powers on a panel to arm it.

The Technolutionary almost caught me unawares while I fixated on the bomb. I grabbed my gauntlet and jumped back in time to avoid getting caught in another spherical field that held the bomb. Laughing at him, I waved with my naked hand, then slipped the gauntlet for that hand under my arm. “What are the odds you’re going to be able to contain that, eh?”

He said something as he fired. I didn’t catch it. I threw a punch at the blast, catching it off center and deflecting it off to the side, where it struck a computer station. The lights flickered.

“No, no, no, no, NO!” he said, gliding over to the computer. He kept one eye and the blaster on me as he sifted through the damage. I took the opportunity to try and run for it…except the elevator was up. Did I do that when I hit the computer, or was that something he did in the middle of all this?

Neither. When I saw the elevator lowered into view, it held Moai, Penny, and Carl. Penny stood at the wall where the controls used to be before they got blown open, tablet in hand as she manipulated something inside. As soon as the gates opened, Carl pulled the cap off his flask and swung it. The fluid inside created a thick smoke as it interacted with the air. I dove into the elevator behind the cover. “Up, up, up!”

The Technolutionary shot out of the smoke and upward at us to skim between the elevator and the wall. Tapping something on his arm panel, he stopped it and overrode the gate to open it up. The asshole aimed at me with his blaster. “You will come with me!”

It threw off his aim a bit when a large dildo slapped against the faceplate of his armor and blinded him. It gave me time to duck under and knock him back against the wall with my armored fist. I caught the dildo with the other hand and beat him in the head with it as well. He bounced off the wall once, twice, three times. I grinned as I heard his pack sputter and fail. He caught himself on the bottom edge of the platform with the panel arm, dangling. I stomped on the panel, causing the elevator to shoot down by a few feet, then up by a few feet. Sparks marked the death of that troublesome gizmo.

He swung his other arm up to fire at me, but I slapped it away with the dildo. “Can we get this thing moving soon, people?”

“On it!” said Carl and Penny simultaneously, working on wiring.

“Please,” Technolutionary pleaded, opening up the faceplate. I hit him upside his face with the dildo again. “Aaahmmm?!” he cried out in pain, then confusion as I shoved the dildo into his mouth, forcing it down. I twisted the base, adding the menacing hum of a vibrator to the threat. Unable to hold on, he let himself drop. Serendipitously, the elevator resumed rising.

I sat down on the ground and looked around for my dropped gauntlet. I’d lost it in all the confusion and wanted to get it back on. Carl tapped me on the shoulder as I got dressed again. “Boss, uhhhh, was that a bomb down there?”

“Yes it was, Carl,” I answered as if it was the most natural thing in the world.

“Is it a big bomb?”

“Nuclear, Carl. Tactical nuke, but still nuclear.”

“Oh shit,” Penny said softly.

I checked by HUD clock again. Ten minutes. I didn’t give it much of a timer, but it was better than the two minutes Technolutionary wanted to give me. “I’d prefer us to get off this thing as soon as possible. We’ll get a chance to see if there’s enough in that blast’s way to keep us safe.”

“It’s worse than that,” Penny broke in, “That was the support and power understructure. I don’t know how we would survive, but if we did, this place would sink.”

“So we’re all kinds of screwed,” I said as I stood up. “Except that the weather thingy is down. There are boats here, right?”

“The storm wrecked all of them, Boss,” Carl said with a shake of his head. He buried his face in his palm as the elevator stopped and the gate pulled open.

“My friend, are you in there!” called out a very welcome voice. I raced out to the landing to see the President’s yacht pulling up with an invasion force on deck.

“You son of a camel!” I called out. “What are you doing here?”

The President waved with his bullhorn, then said into it, “I got worried when I didn’t hear from you and decided to bring the cavalry. Did we come at a bad time?”

“Considering a nuclear bomb’s about to end this place, I’d say not!”

We got out of there in the nick of time, actually. Technolutionary was much closer to the deadline, though. We had pulled away when I saw something fly out of the landing and zip into the sky. Then Libersea quaked and shrapnel blew out of the top of a portion of it. A huge roar erupted form Libersea and my armor had to handle the EMP.

The yacht actually had it luckier. Everything to make it go was unaffected. The object in the sky, Technolutionary, didn’t plummet to a watery grave either. I guess he got that jetpack fixed enough to get away after all. He stayed there, watching us depart as Libersea groaned and sank.

I’ll see him again, but not tonight. For tonight I have rum. And tonight- shit, I left my bowler hat back there.

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Psychos of the Caribbean 9

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I’ve taken in the sights here at whatever they call this place. Libersea, I think. Penny mentioned it once when I wasn’t looking. I could only stall for so long because, unlike with the President, I wasn’t here on vacation. I came here to end this little feud between Mr. Gold and the President. Gee, I wonder how I’m going to do that.

They eventually figured out Carl was with me, but they didn’t catch him anywhere sensitive. They didn’t catch him at all; they spotted him heading to my suite. No one stood guard to keep people out of sensitive areas. Apparently I didn’t notice it because Penny brought me straight to my rooms, but Carl informed me there are no public restrooms. He found that out when he really had to go.

The place isn’t exactly overrun with people yet, but they have some shops and restaurants. Even a Burrito Bell. Despite being packed together in places, they each had their own bathrooms. He said it was like a mall that was closing or opening in some places, which made that weird. They all wanted him to buy a minimum before he could use the bathrooms, and almost every place had their own guard. The staff looked pissed, and the food was even pricier, so Carl broke into one of the empty stores and took a whiz there. None of the guards tried to stop him or anything.

They weren’t the mercenaries we’d fought on the cargo ship. I noticed that, too. Those guys had harnesses and better quality of guns. They looked and moved right. It’s something you pick up on when you’ve seen it enough. These guys are using cheaper M4s and AKs, and look like regular guys who are holding guns. Which leads to some dumb situations, like pointing them at people accidentally.

Carl said it didn’t feel right here. I know he didn’t mean the rocking back and forth, because there wasn’t any. “The areas where no one’s at are just dark. No lights. It’s spooky. The workers all look nervous. They tell you anything if you pay. This kid I talked to look like a teenager. He said he came to make his fortune without government regulation and got stuck here. Pawned stuff from his parents to afford the ride out but nothing pays good. There’s no minimum wage and he bought his own cleaning supplies. His rent is too high, too.”

“That hardly explains the nerves,” I mused, sipping on a wineglass full of a good year of Pepsi.

“Sometimes people get mugged by the guards or other workers and there’s no police. You have to hire guards. He’s saving up to get offa here. He said he’s worried about someone mugging him because they do stuff to people who can’t pay rent.”

I raised an eyebrow. I thought I did a nice job. Proper eyebrow-raising has to convey interest, skepticism, and authority. Nonverbal communication can be such a stress sometimes. So I didn’t stay nonverbal. “I bet they throw them overboard.”

Carl shook his head. “He don’t know what they do to them. They disappear. He told me if you really look at the place, it looks bad because a whole bunch of contractors disappeared when they got together to protest. ‘Cept for the ones died when the boss around here told the guards to shoot into the crowd. Anyway, I looked around and he’s right. For an extra hundred, he showed me some of the electrical boxes. Almost everything new leads to closed sections. The stuff underwater, boss.”

“That might be handy to know. You get down there any?” I pulled another case of luggage over and took out my outfit for the big meeting to come.

“Sorry, boss. I found an elevator, but they locked it. You going down there now?” He motioned to the suitcase.

“Nah, gotta get ready. I’ve stalled long enough. It’s about time I go meet Mr. Gold and ease the worries of his life. If you can, see about getting us transport off this high school sociology project.”

Carl raised two fingers. “Two things, boss. The plane’s gone right now.”

“Find us a boat if you have to,” I said with a shrug.

He scowled and lowered one finger. “Second, you wanted to see their science guy.”

I started undressing. “You’ve seen stuff, I’ve seen stuff. This place is dysfunctional. I’ve been in his assistant’s computer system, which means I’ve been up his ass with a magnifying glass. Everything related to his money-making is handled by staff without any day to day input. He had a keen mind in the past, but almost everything he’s done on his own impetus in years is work at this place. You told me how that turned out for him. This is a man who uses money like soldiers use…no, not like soldiers use guns. They can actually be quite thoughtful and find peaceful resolutions. Regardless, it’s hard to imagine anyone signing up with him who could build weapons like what he used on Isla Tropica. He might not even be our guy, but I suspect he just farmed. I don’t know, maybe Hephaestus improved on the old weather controllers.”

As if in perfect timing, Penny knocked on the door. I knew it was her from her tablet’s GPS, which also explains the perfect timing. When I threw open the door, I looked resplendent in a jaguar skin suit. I kept my black bowler hat, showing off a band of tiger fur with a pair of large feline canines attached to the front. I tipped my hat to Penny. “M’lady.”

She gaped at me. Regardless of her stance on conservation, I expect most people would have. I’d say I looked as bad as a Captain Planet villain, but the guy I had in mind only had tiger skin on the trim and lapel of his suit. Plus, the skin looked pink, so I doubt it was real. Regardless, I stepped out and pulled Penny close to me in a hug. “I’m so glad we’ve reached an agreement.”

I felt it’d be funny to loudly sniff her hair and whisper that she smells nice, but I ignored the urge and let go. “Alright, let’s go meet this boss of yours.” I clapped my hands and Moai stepped out, wearing a black suit and shades of his own. “I hope you don’t mind if I bring some protection.”

She blinked, “Whatever you want, Ferdinand.”

She led us to an elevator that looked a bit higher quality than the rest of the spot. “Wow, nicer than the rest of this hunk of junk,” I mentioned as we stepped inside.

“We expect renovations if more people arrive to buy real estate,” she said, not glancing at Moai or myself. Gold’s email, accessible through her tablet, contained an angry email from some militia group at the price of buying a space on Libersea.

“Yeah, good luck with that. What about you, is this where you see yourself ending up?”

That got a laugh. “I’ll never afford to live here. I might die here with all the work I do. Here we are.” She quickly ushered me out to a room that was, by Libersea standards, huge. Mall analogy for the downstairs wasn’t a bad one. The corridors at their widest were maybe eight feet wide. I didn’t get a good look at the layout, but it was big enough to hold a small town’s worth of people and quarters in a couple of stories of old metal. The tower stretched far, but I couldn’t see any magnificent view out the window. Just water and sky.

“This way,” she said, opening a door to the side. Moai and I stepped into the conference room and I took a seat. He made us wait. A power play, supposed to start me off on weak negotiating ground. Maybe it works well in the business world, but we’re not in that world. At least he made it to the meeting five minutes later.

“Hello there! You must be Psycho Gecko. I’m Gold. McIntosh Gold,” he said enthusaistically, holding out his hand for a handshake. “This meeting is a long time coming.”

I stood up and shook his hand. “You’re wanting me to kill the President on Isla Tropica, right?”

He shook his head. “That’s exactly what I want.” He tried to let go of my hand, but I pulled him back.

“And that’s all I needed to know. Now I’m here to take something from you.” I dropped the hologram of my suit, revealing my shiny new armor instead.

The meeting was a long time coming but a short time going. What’d you expect, an epic battle of lasers and explosions? I ended it playing a nice game of golf with him. Sure, I had to smash out the window, but you can’t poison an omelet without breaking a few eggs.

“How’s your eggs feelin’, Goldilocks?” I asked as I swung the severed leg down and hit a ball off Gold’s head. If you’re wondering where I got the ball, you might need to retake human anatomy. Barring certain mistakes in the process of building a human body, humans are born with between two and four balls capable of being hit.

“Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!” Behind me, Penny screamed. She’d been at it awhile. “Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!”

“You didn’t take up anything relaxing, did you? Golf’s not really my sport, personally. Hard to call it a sport, but people did some sort of technicality wrangling and figured it counted. Some people find it relaxing. You gotta control your stress level. Don’t take things too seriously.” Swing!

“Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!”

“I didn’t kill him for no reason. Granted, he probably wasn’t as big a piece of shit as I imagined him, but the good thing about people is that most of them have done something bad enough to kill them for.”

“Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!”

I tried to see where the ball landed, but then I noticed a sort of wall. Rain. “El Presidente happens to be a good fellow. Or, at least he’s a fellow on my good side. We met at an arms gathering in Switzerland. They call it the Geneva Convention. He’s a bit trigger happy, but I think we bonded over mutual contempt for human life. It’s important to have friends, don’t you think?”

“Aaaaah!”

“You have to take a breath sometime. After all, you just got an email about your boss’s investments in that landmine company.” I turned toward her just in time for the ball I hit to smack into the back of my helmet as a strong gust of wind crashed into all of us. Not just rain. Lightning lit up the clouds. “Huh. I’m going down. Moai, elevator.” I walked past the screeching Penny, who turned to watch me as I passed by. Then I stopped, took a step back, and slapped her across the face. That shut her up. Then I threw her over my shoulder and carried her into the elevator. I don’t know why. Sometimes I just do things.

It was on the ride down that she regained her senses. “You can let me down now.”

“Nope,” I said.

“Please?”

“Nope.”

“I don’t want to be close to you when the doors open and they shoot you.” She tried to push at my back, as if that would help her escape.

“Really? Perhaps I’d better have a human shield to protect my bullet-proof armor.”

“Let me go you evil bastard!” She started hitting at me. Just then, the elevator dinged and opened up. Four men with guns stood outside, looking at Moai, Penny in my arms, and me in my armor.

I pointed up. “I killed your boss, so he can’t sign your paychecks anymore. I’d find a new job if I were y’all.”

They grumbled and slumped off.

“That’s it?! Guys, help me out!” Penny whined.

I patted her on the butt. “There, there. It’s not your fault. They were just loyal to the almighty dollar.”

Groaning, she asked, “What are you going to do to me?”

“I don’t know. Thinking about kidnapping you. Not for any more kissing or that stuff, that was an act. I was stalling for time.” I stepped out, headed for the landing. “Moai, see about our bags.”

My pet rock bounded off to see to the luggage.

“Why? You killed who you were here for, right?” She tried to adjust her positioning. It’s not the most comfortable way to be kidnapped. Not nearly the worst, though. Not like I showed up on the shores of this place with an army of angry Greeks.

“I got questions. Questions about bank accounts and scientists. You know more about that than that guy up there, and I like you better. I could live with your survival. Yo, Carl!” The last bit wasn’t directed at her. Carl came jogging up, soaked.

“Boss! We aren’t getting off!” He stopped to bend over with his hands on his knees to catch his breath.

I considered a joke about that directed at Penny, but her earlier bout of screaming indicated a low tolerance jokes about ravishing her. It was a close one, though. I really had to try to hold that in. The setup…

“The boats all crashed,” Carl said when he sucked down some air. “This huge storm came in and it’s wrecking the place. Even if the plane was here, it couldn’t fly in this weather. We’re stranded.”

Dammit. Just my luck, I actually have to tie up my hostage. Of all the inconveniences.

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Psychos of the Caribbean 8

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I received an interesting email through my page. Not this page that y’all are reading this on. The one where people tell me who they want killed. It’s an exclusive group of petitioners made up of people who have found the site and those who offer some serious cash.

So, anyway, I met a guy online, but I’m not sure it’ll work out. I’m a Pisces, and he’s an asshole. I’m just kidding. Even if my personality and fate were exactly the same as everyone else born in a particular time period, I don’t even have a birthday. I don’t mean I was grown in a tube or anything like that. I just wasn’t allowed to know it, and any attempt to celebrate it would have been met with a gunshot to the head. It sounds bad, but it’s a heartwarming tale that made me the man I am today.

And occasionally, I have very vivid dreams of that time period. While already awake. Sometimes I wake from them covered in blood, but that’s ok. I know how to get bloodstains out of fabric: more blood. It hides the original stain, so people suspect no wrongdoing at all! All this useful information floating around in my head, but they give shows to low-ranking criminals like Martha Stewart instead.

Instead, I received a request for my services from a man calling himself Mr. Gold. It’d be a perfectly reasonable alias in my circles. He stood out because he offered to talk over terms for an ongoing campaign after flying me out to his private sea nation.

That part interested me. It interested the President when I let him know. I let myself in with an unscheduled appointment at his office. Specifically, I tied my bed sheets to the balcony rail and swung down, smacking into some very strong glass and sliding down to rest on the office balcony. He swung the window open, knocking me over, and asked, “Problem, friend?”

Believe it or not, there wasn’t. “I think the guy you’ve been fighting wants to hire me to attack you.” I said, holding vodka ice cubes against my forehead in a rag. “He says his name is Mr. Gold. I don’t remember you ever telling me your guy’s name, but this guy wants to invite me out to his place out in the ocean.”

The President puffed away on his cigar, then blew out a trio of circles with the last two later ones small enough to fit inside the circle that came before. I think it formed a bullseye. “I do not believe I ever asked you what you thought about the idea of sacred hospitality,” the President said at last.

Two days later, a sea plane carried Carl, Moai, and me over waters of a different region of the ocean, bringing us to see this majestic seasteader utopia. Carl kept tapping his foot against the floor. “Nervous?” I asked. “I know sea travel hasn’t exactly been kind to you, but I thought you’d handle the air a little better.”

“I wondered what I’m doing here. There hasn’t been a lot I could help you out with lately.”

I nodded. “I get that. But luckily, I have just the thing in mind for you.” I pulled out a bag I brought along. “You’re going to be my spy.” I glanced at the pilot. He was way up at the front and we were way at the back. And if Gold happened to bug his own plane, I’d just have to deal with it. On the plus side, he’s hopefully cowed enough by my reputation to not risk me finding a bug.

It’s a risk, sure, but lots of great plans come with risks. Like barricading one part of a road with a firetruck on fire. Maybe the cops will decide, against all protocol, to take a slower route by heading through the oncoming lane. But they’ll probably just pick a nearby parallel route that won’t slow them down dealing with cars coming the other direction.

“Aren’t you better at that?” he asked.

“Yeah, but they know that, too. That’s part of why this Gold guy invited me along. And Moai’s too conspicuous. I need someone they won’t pay attention to. I don’t know what the scene’s going to be like there, but I figure none of them are likely to pay attention to you as long as I say you’re hired help. Also, I have gadgets for you.” I pulled out a pack of cigarettes.

“I don’t smoke,” Carl said, taking the pack from me and examining them.

“Good, those things will kill ya. Literally. If they have a red line between the filter and the cigarette, they’ll explode two seconds after being lit. It’s enough to kill someone if it’s in their mouth. If it’s in their hand, they won’t be fully disarmed, but they will be dishanded. Or is that unhanded. The President’s people helped me with those. They’re similar to the cigars the CIA tried to use on Castro.”

Carl looked over the Surgeon General’s warning, which mentioned that smoking was deadly and could lead to increased risk of death. “Anything else?”

I handed him a flask. “You don’t want to drink that. It’s not deadly or anything; it’ll dissolve before you can do anything. A few drops of that will react to the air and generate a thick cloud of smoke. That’ll come in handy for keeping people from seeing things or breathing as easily.”

“Wouldn’t this have worked better in the cigarettes?” Carl pocketed the flask.

“Don’t be ridiculous. Cigarettes that create smoke? That’s just what they would have expected.”

“Huh?”

I shook my head and slapped my palm with the back of my other hand’s fingers. “Think it through. If people see an area with a lot of smoke, some of them might get clever and realize a guy with cigarettes may have caused it. What will they find when they test your cigarettes? Explosives, but nothing that gives off smoke. They’ll have to realize you couldn’t have done it.”

Carl raised his hand. “What if I already blew someone’s head off with the cigarettes?”

“Well then you’re fucked. And speaking of fucked,” I reached in and pulled out the item that every one of my dear readers knew would show up in a gadget. I slapped the dildo into Carl’s hand, causing it to jiggle a bit. Carl started to drop it, but I held it in his hand and closed his fingers around it. “It’s ok. This is important for you.”

“Boss, is this another joke?” He looked uncomfortable holding a dildo with another man. See, this is where it’d be easier if I was a woman. I mean sure, men control the vast majority of legislatures, executive offices, judiciaries, corporations, and militaries, but women have it slightly easier around dildos and the opposite sex. That’s where the world’s true power lies, anyway.

“Inside here is a flash drive.” I showed him the base of it, where a USB popped out behind the ball sack. “You can use it to store sensitive information. Better yet, you can hide it up your ass.”

“Hey, I know people might check there,” he said, trying to pull his hand away from mine. I laid my other hand over his to hold it there.

“You’re not understanding yet, just like with the cigarettes. They’ll check your ass for a flash drive or something. If they find a dildo in there, they’ll just think you’re a little kinky.” This is simple logic. I don’t understand how anyone could fail to grasp it.

“Boss, it’s got suction cups on it. Don’t tell me you expect me to climb on the side of a building with this.”

“Don’t be ridiculous, Carl. That’s there to help you keep your grip under pressure.”

“It’s blue.”

“I didn’t realize you had anything against blue people. I thought someone like you could look past a man’s skin color to what’s on the inside.”

“It’s not that boss! Uh, and boss? It’s…uh…vibrating.”

I rolled my eyes. “Carl, they make really lifelike dildos these days. This one’s so good, it almost vibrates as fast as I do.”

“As fast as you…?” He looked down between my legs.

“Hey, my eyes are up here,” I told him, and let go of the dildo. Then I pulled out the last gift for him.

Carl read the name off the bottle. “It’s jelly lubricant. Is it really acid that melts locks or glue to trap people?”

“Well, I didn’t want to assume anything about your sexual habits, so I figured it couldn’t hurt to get you some help for when you’re shoving the data penetrator up your hiney hole.” I handed him the bottle. “Congratulations, you’ve got everything you need to be a secret agent.”

Carl glanced at the flask, lube, and dildo, the cigarettes already away in his pocket. Then he looked back up at me. “I look like I’m going to an orgy.”

I shrugged. “Well it definitely blends in better around a bunch of rich hedonists. Just dig up what you can, and let me know if those tools are inadequate. Except for the data penetrator. If that thing’s inadequate, then your girlfriend’s into bestiality.”

Carl glared at me, then put all his newfound treasures away inside his luggage. I then slipped out a white coat with fuzzy white trim and a pair of stupid-looking shutter shades. If you’re wondering what had to be done to them to make them look stupid, the answer is nothing. Shutter shades always look stupid. Carl sighed. “Is that my secret agent costume?”

“Nope,” I said, putting them on. I then pulled out an eyeliner pencil and started adding some theatrical upward swirls to my eyebrows. “This is my costume. Always come dressed for the war you want, not the war you’re fighting. Wait a second, that motivational phrase sounds like utter bullshit now that I’ve put it into perspective. While you’re slinking about the place, I’ll be stalling this asshole for as long as possible while teasing him along. So if you get caught and tortured, just remember: pain is weakness leaving the body. Damn, did it again.”

“Hey!” the pilot shouted from up front. “We’re about to come on down! Everyone brace yourselves for landing!”

“Brace yourselves.” I looked to Carl and Moai. “Now that’s a phrase that inspires confidence in a pilot. It’s right up there with ‘can somebody hold my beer while I fly the plane?’”

At that, Carl began to frantically buckle his seat belt. I rolled my eyes yet again. “Carl, relax. Believe it or not, the human body can take a hell of a lot of punishment.”

“Tell that to my broken neck if we crash.”

I leaned back and put my feet up on the back of the seat in front of me. “Carl, a few light bumps couldn’t just break your neck. It takes some real effort, like a crash or a few guys working you over in the back of a van or something.”

Despite Carl sinking so far into his seat he could have been cosplaying the Warhammer 40k Emperor, we had a safe but bumpy landing. When we pulled up in front of the landing, I smiled over at my pair of henchmen. “Moai, you’re officially my sane but accommodating personal assistant. I’m sure it’ll be a stretched.” I then whipped out the coupe deville: a bowler hat. Black, with a peacock feather through a hot pink band. Because fezzes are lame and cowboy hats suck, but bowler hats are cool forever.

Then I stepped out onto a rusty paradise and announced my presence. “Did anybody order a slice of ham?!” Ok, not really. That’s just an accurate translation. What I actually said was, “Ah, another part of the world to be enlightened by my presence!” I looked around at the rusty retro-style hotel that Mr. Gold set up in. “Good grief, do they even have lights in this part of the world?”

“Hello! Greetings. Salutations. Hi,” a cheery woman with chin-length hair said as she stepped forward Business skirt, white shirt, sleeves rolled up, flat shoes. Assistant? I expected any secretary of Gold’s would be stuck tripping around in heels. Dangerous in the middle of the ocean. And on land, for that matter. Take it from someone who has danced in them before. The assistant extended her hand, then realized she had a tablet and switched it back so she could hold her hand out in hope of a shake.

I glanced down at it. Instead, I grabbed her by the face and forced a kiss on her. After a strained second, she resigned herself. I let her go then before she could try to appease me by returning it. She wiped her lips, hiding her expression from me. Her eyes flitted over me, narrowing just enough for a hint at what she thought. I may have gone too far with that one, but I’d have to read Gold’s reaction to it.

I looked her up and down. “Yeah, nice to meet you. I think we can work together. But first, the M&Ms.”

“I’m sorry?” she asked, checking the tablet. I caught connected to the local network and got in, making a slight alteration or two to the message where I laid out terms for showing up and hearing Gold’s proposal. If he wanted to fly me out and work on a contract for the utter destruction of an archipelago, then he needed to cover my room and provide a few amenities. Including having M&Ms nearby for me at all times. “I’m sorry, this is only a minor oversight. If you’d like, I can show you to your suite and have them deliver M&Ms for you there.”

“Hmmph! I see you barely respect me enough to feed me, let alone negotiate with me. If this is the hospitality I can expect here, I shall be in my room!” I clapped my hands. “Come, Moai.” I walked past the woman, who hurried to keep up.

“Sir, if that’s what you’re going to do, I’m trying to show you to your rooms. Please, don’t be upset. I hear splendid things about your work, Mr. Gecko.” She reached out and touched me on the shoulder.

I stopped immediately and whipped my head toward her, my shades falling down the brim of my nose to give me a better view of her above them. With my hand on my other side, I motioned for Carl to move past us and go on his way. “Bitch, my work is fabulous!” I threw my head back, whipping my hair around and moving my glasses back up the bridge of my nose. “And you mustn’t call me Gecko. My name is not Gecko. I am not an animal. You must call me Ferdinand! Psycho Gecko is my stage name.” I raised my hand to the sky, but only so far as my head. It’s a drama thing. This little seasteader utopia? Yeah, it’s going to be my own personal drama island. A total drama island.

The assistant maintained her smile, but I noticed her teeth grinding just slightly. “Right, I apologize. This is my mistake. I’m not used to working with someone as renowned and fabulous as yourself, Ferdinand. Please, if you want to report me to my boss, Mr. Gold will send me for you later once you have time to settle in and refresh yourself. I’m Penny, by the way. So you know who to report.”

“Yes, Penny’s,” and here I should note that I pronounced that closer to “penis” “a good name. You might be nice to know after all. Now, get me to my room.”

They gave me such a big suite. I almost felt bad for torturing Penny like that, but that requires having a conscience and not being an insane serial killing mass murderer terrorist with a heart of explosive. Still, it allowed me to stall negotiations as, even when she came back with a large bowl of M&Ms, her tablet now specified that there were to be no blue M&Ms.

“If you keep this up, you can tell your boss he blue,” I emphasized the pun for her, “his best chance at getting the best and most exclusive assassin in the history of the world. You’ve heard of Kurt Cobain, David Carradine, and Sean Connery?”

“Yes, but Cobain and Carradine were suicide,” her muffled voice responded through the door.

“Like I said, the best assassin in the history of the world.” I yelled at the door from the bed. They definitely did that fucking bed right. It felt like laying on jellied geese.

“What does Sean Connery have to do with this? He’s still alive.”

“His acting career isn’t, and this deal won’t be either if you and your boss don’t begin shaping things up around here!” I pointed at Moai, then at the door. He bounced over and opened it to look into the face of the beleaguered woman, then slammed it.

Which didn’t cause nearly as much frustration as a new entry appeared, a notice stating that I never attend to business on Wednesdays because that day I spend purging myself of negative thoughts through meditation, contemplation, and yoga.

Turns out that lady has some anger issues. She really ought to do something about that. Like take up yoga.

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