Tag Archives: Psycho Gecko

New Normal 3

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I hate being nice. I could have fixed so many problems by now just jumping in and not giving a shit about consequences. Maybe paint an M on my head and call myself Majin Gecko, then whine and blow myself up when I remember I like getting laid and having feelings. Then maybe beat up some kids who point out my references are as dated as the beginning of Naruto was to the end.

Enough being a cranky old woman. I was a cranky pregnant bitch who had to deal with a bunch of shitbags stuffed into suits. Like Senator Robson, a replacement for one of the many people I culled when I had the power to make life just blink out. He’s not as bad as the guy he replaced, but that’s a low bar. He got me a place on a diplomatic shuttle to the alien fleet. Sam, Holly, and the interns were excited, with Sam squeezing her eyes shut. She doesn’t like flying, and the lack of windows in this cricket-shaped vessel didn’t soothe her any. The interns and Holly strained looking for somewhere to watch the ascent into space from, but the aliens didn’t put windows in their spacecraft for some reason.

I played the theme to Star Trek: The Next Generation to calm us all down. Meanwhile, a blue woman with cloudy skin you could see into just a little bit walked along and set out drinks and little bags of snacks. I popped off my helmet long enough to try the small carbonated liquid and the bag of some small starchy snack covered in tiny mineral crystals. As far as potentially-dangerious alien foods go, they were fine. They just weren’t enough. When no one was looking, I portaled in a fresh foot long corndog and a plate with some fun sauces like marinara, ranch, yum yum sauce, and mustard. Mmm.

One of the aliens looked at me like I did something weird, like eat them all at once. I hadn’t even finished by the time a calming noise reverberated through the vessel. “Welcome to the diplomatic battleship Odo, where peace happens or else.”

“That’s calming,” Sam muttered, opening her eyes at last. She leaned against me. “You better get rid of that.”

I winked at her and slid the remaining half-foot of wiener and breading down my throat, pulling the stick back out without the meat. I tossed the stick and plate through a small portal to the auto-kitchen. I added some robot arms to the kitchen. They’re very handy, and they double as an anti-intrusion measure.

As the restraints released, Sam and I both groaned on standing up. She had her dislike of flying and I had a belly that was messing with me even though the armor made sure I wasn’t sick. Uh, I swear my nanites are working overtime in my aching ankles. Who am I kidding? I think I graduated to cankles. I just wanted to be pretty and have the child I always wanted with Medusa and Venus, and now it’s made me a hungry horror with fucked-up hormones and time travel shit where I have to do it to complete loops.

I sniffled. Sam patted me on the helmet. “Aww, you crying again?”

The others were all filing off, leaving Holly, Sam, and I behind along with the blue alien woman who stepped up. “I must ask you to leave all of your weapons behind on the transport pod.”

“You let us get all the way up here with weapons?” Holly faked a gasp. “What if we need to defend ourselves against others you let come with guns?”

The alien didn’t catch the sarcasm. When she spoke, her mouth didn’t match the words we heard either. “We are aware of cultural differences regarding personal armament or the medical necessity of power armor for some species, but at this point you must comply with the ship captain’s non-aggression policies. For the good of everyone, except the ones who are dead.”

“Weird way to phrase it,” Sam said. “Hey, what’s your species called?”

“I don’t have a species,” she answered. “The Consortium created me to serve them.” I couldn’t read her expression to see if she was enthusiastic about that. She gestured with a slow wave. “Please disarm, or you will not see your loved one. We detect several weapons, primitive and otherwise.”

“I’m getting tired of putting this thing just to take it back off again,” Sam muttered. She and Holly looked to me.

I sighed and began pulling off the gauntlets of my power armor. “We’re being nice.” That got a triumphant hmph from the servant, so I figured she supported her masters after all. The energy sheathes don’t function without them. I set down the exploding knives as well. I didn’t keep a lot of extra weapons on me, and that meant I wasn’t that much disarmed. And they didn’t seem to understand my eyes had lasers built in. Hell, I barely remember I kept some other abilities when I gave away my god-like powers. Meanwhile, the girls had to get rid of shoe knives and so on. After a few minutes of that, they all let us go in.

Some of the Grau were waiting for us, a designation I use for lack of a better idea what to call them. They’re the main species in any position of power in the Consortium of Grau, so that’s what I call them. We got right out of this transport pod where the rest of the delegation was finished going through a customs check involving a scanner arch and a pair of bushes with eye stalks. I spotted that one silver-haired agent again having made his way through it. I know he noticed me, but a group of Grau were waiting for us.

“Greetings, Psychopomp Gecko. You can travel with us to the prison ship,” one of the Grau said. He was dressed in the nice, clean uniform. Two more behind him had darker outfits with clear armor padding. With them was a tripedal reptilian with these little flaps that moves on his head, who was paying close attention to a pale alien that looked like a giant maggot with eight little arms all tied up in cuffs. That thing had a metal disc covering what would be the chest area.

“This is a prisoner transport, not a tour,” the reptilian said. He pointed at my belly. “I do not need a pregnant mammalian on my prison ship.” Unlike the French accent of the Grau and their servant, this guy had a Spanish accent, complete with sounding like he had a lisp on some words.

“This is a matter of diplomacy. You do your job as you are paid to,” the Grau who was in charge told me, stroking his quills. I’m just assuming when I use “his” here. For all I know, none of these things even have different sexes. Or they have twelve. But the reptilian dude backed down and we got back on the transport pod with all of our weapons hidden on it. The weird maggot prisoner actually snuck away one of the boot knives. I winked at it, then went back to not paying attention to anything. Hey, a prisoner escape could be handy to me.

“So, it’s your ship?” I asked the reptilian.

“I am Skarzu, Commander of the Lethac, my ship. My living ship. A dedicated ship for prisoners so they are not kept with the soft ones who talk.”

And the grand prize for this test of blather and patience? Holly, Sam, and I finally got escorted down a hallway past solid doors with small windows for food until the Grau stopped and indicated a door. I stepped up and tested it with a shave and a haircut knock. I received two bits in return. “Boopsie?”

“Jesus, Gecko, you’re here?”

“I’m here, I’m queer, get over it,” I responded.

“We’ve been so sad without you,” Holly told her.

“Yeah, and none of these aliens are fuckable,” Sam said. Holly and I nodded along while Medusa laughed.

“I came to see what’s going on. I heard they’re looking for your sister, too. I guess they’re all pretty sure the person looks like you,” I mentioned.

“Well, I didn’t. I don’t know what’s going on, unless this is someone who doesn’t like me handing me over as a scapegoat. I walked over to the food slot and reached a hand through.

The Grau guards stepped forward. “Hands away from the prisoner!”

I rolled my eye, the other one slipped into Medusa’s palm. The suit provided me a holographic copy to fool these guys. I put my hands up. “Easy, just trying to touch her again for the first time in I don’t know when.”

The ship jolted. “What was that?” Sam asked.

Holly steadied herself on a wall. “Why did this thing do that? Shouldn’t the thing creating artificial gravity keep us from experiencing that?”

“What?” I asked, looking at her.

She shrugged. “I went to college, remember?”

“No!” I declared. Another jolt.

The guards looked at us, and one ran off. The other called out, “Stay here. Don’t touch anything!” then ran off.

A door nearby slid open and curly mess of tendrils grabbed the guard, pulling him in. Another door opened as well and some jiggly pink thing crab-walked out quickly, heading down the corridor. I looked to Medusa’s. No such luck. “Point the eye at the door, Maia.”

“Ok!” she called out. “Pointing!”

I created two portals back to back. Medusa stepped through one on the inside of her door and stepped out outside of the door. She jumped into a hug and asked, “I love you. What did you do?”

“Nothing this time, I think.” Alarms went off. They sounded a lot like human alarms. Makes me glad that the sound some other species uses for an alarm wasn’t the sound of, like, sex noises. “Prisoner escape! Harder daddy, harder, harder! All hands to battle stations. Pull my hair!”

I reached out and… did not see the fleet. The satellites around Earth no longer showed it present. Instead, it showed the massive maggot thing and the ship we were on. It rumbled all around us. “Lethac crew and prisoners. I, Prowbst the Grand, have broken free and altered the core of this ship to power my size-shifting technology to its full potential. I have stolen the rest of the Grau fleet and will hold them hostage. I will free all prisoners, who have a chance to serve me and go free. Together, we will take revenge on those who would lock us away.”

“Alright, let’s get out of here,” I said. “Huddle up, team!” Holly, Sam, and Medusa all joined the huddle.

“How do we get out of here?” Sam asked.

“Ready, break!” I clapped my hands together and stood up. The four of us were back in my basement.

“That was easy. We’re getting good at this,” Holly noted. She was shut up by Maia grabbing her and kissing. Sam too. Maia nearly knocked me down when it was my turn.

Of course, I got an incoming message on the public line from Senator Robson, the guy who did the favor of speaking up and ask for me to go on that little journey. Medusa popped my eye back into its socket while I reluctantly answered that.

After the first five straight seconds of screaming cut out, there was just that old guy yelling, “Ah, save me, save me, save me!”

“You probably should save them all,” Medusa said with a groan. “I hate saying it as much as you hate hearing it.”

“Fuck those guys,” Sam said. “Those French aliens were stuck up.”

“Yeah, but you think maybe that big worm is going to be a jerk?” Holly wondered.

I didn’t have an answer to that question until about an hour later, when the alarms started. Of course it was in the middle of fun time. “Pull my hair!” I yelled at Maia.

“Wait, you hear something?” she asked.

The computer switched from playing Fatal Attraction by Midnight Danger to the sound of that giant maggot. “People of this planet. I am your new ruler. All who disobey will be shrunk to the size of a small creature and squashed! Mwahaha!”

“Fuck!” I yelled, lowering my head where I could look back at my knees on the bedspread.

To my surprise, Maia reached her fingers into my hair and gave it a tug. The world could wait.

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New Normal 2

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Maia, aka Medusa, has been arrested by someone in connection to an attempted bombing on the U.S. Capitol when an alien envoy was present. There are dozens of different ways she could have been framed. I don’t know why the aliens are here, but they’ve got a fleet parked in orbit and I think we all want to avoid yet another alien war. It’s getting old at this point, and there are more aliens than there are people on Earth, so the numbers are against us.

Sam and Holly, other girlfriends of mine, took the news well. Sam pulled out her bronze knuckles and Holly grabbed a morning star off the wall. I held up my hands. “Let’s not go off half-cocked here.”

“Really?” Sam asked.

“Yeah, I’m still putting together armor. Also, I don’t know who actually has her right now. I figured I’d try diplomatic channels. First thing’s first, I’m trying to talk to Isabella.” I thought Venus would be getting back to me in no time, so but she told me she needed to talk later. Meanwhile, I’ve got whole villainous base mobilizing. “Creating clones, assembling nanomachines, and manufacturing drones, too. But mainly, I’m trying to get the armor right.”

Sam patted my shoulder. “Baby, you don’t need armor. You’re not fighting in person.” She reached out and touched my belly. Ever since I got this damn belly, people just touch it without asking. Holly set the morning star down and reached out to rub my belly, too.

“I am the most dangerous person on Earth. I’ve got a loaded pregger hole and I’m not afraid to use it!” I declared. I got a ring back. My eye HUD told me I had a call incoming. “I gotta take this, it’s Venus.” I backed away to try and escape their hands. I turned and headed downstairs to my basement lair. “Isabella, my baby daddy, what’s the situation?”

“I am at the Master Academy. I cannot believe I have to hide here. Alright, Maia, right; they think it might have been me instead and they want me arrested by the government and turned over to them. I think that means it’s the aliens who have her.”

“Any idea what they are? They don’t look like Fluidics or Trobogorians. Or Cercopagus Lysis. Or those guys with the space opera-”

“I don’t recognize them either, but they call themselves the Consortium of Grau. That may not be their species. This is all my fault.” I had never seen Venus so uncertain of herself as she’s been since we resolved the issue where she stole godlike power from me and tried to fix the world.

“Did you blow up the capitol? I mean, you know I’m not snitching,” I said.

“No,” she said.

“Then it’s not your fault. Duh.”

“They’re here because of what I did. They detected it through fancy high tech alien whatchamacallits and came to make sure Earth wasn’t going to fuck everything up. That I wasn’t going to fuck everything up.”

“You’re not, so there. Issue resolved. Moving on,” I said. She stayed quiet. I sighed. “Ugh… ok… as much as I don’t get rehabilitation, you’re generally a force for good. You even… ya know… me. And I did a lot worse than you ever did. I’m proof that not only are you not terrible and the worst person in the world, but that people can change for the better. And it was thanks to you. Oh my god, kid! Your baby won’t get off my damn bladder.”

She laughed. “Ok, the Grau took her up to a ship, but you can talk to them at the Capitol. They’ve landed delegations in major nations’ capitols around the world. That’s if you want to talk. I’m reaching out to the Exemplars for when that fails and we have to beat my sis out of them. I think they have a spaceship in case of complications.”

“Smart. I’ll talk since the aliens don’t want me dead as far as I know. Plus I have that bit of space celebrity from that opera. I doubt I’ll get anywhere, but maybe I can arrange a visit so we can pin down her location.”

“You might need to put a tracker on us,” Isabella suggested. “Something other people can’t track like a phone.”

“Funny how I’m the violent option on Earth, and the diplomat to the stars,” I mentioned in parting.

Sam and Holly insisted on coming with me, so we had to get a babysitter for Qiang. I trust Qiang… within reason. She’s getting up there. The stuff with the altered reality interrupted her latest birthday party, but she’s getting to the age where I can tell she doesn’t want to spend time with me and might even be embarrassed by me. I guess that goes double now that I’m puttering around all aching, fat, and gassy. We figured she wouldn’t need a sitter for long. For the sake of the sitter, I hoped she was prepared for a challenge.

The pair even donned a pair of costumes. I saw them when gathering up my gear at the store and prepping the Flyer in case I needed it for a diplomatic mission-turned-fight with aliens. Scattered around were boxes, containers, a few drones, and snacks. Lots of snacks. Snacks were absolutely essential. I’d already gone through half a bag of Dove chocolate and a package of smoked gouda pretzel sticks by the time my other girlfriends showed up. And also a few pickles. Some nutella. I ordered a Hawaiian pizza because I wasn’t sure how long they would take and it actually sounded delicious to me right now.

Sam wore a shiny red corset, white jacket with red studs over that, and pants trimmed in white. She protected the short mohawk she was going for with a red armored helmet and tinted white visor. She had on reinforced biker boots. Holly’s outfit was looser, with a shorter maxi skirt over the pants that had red leopard print spots in places. The back of her top turned into a hood with stiff supports to hold it up or retract it when she needed to. And her shoes were practical as well; modified Under Armor Ubers that The outfits looked like they were all about fashion because of the subtlety of the armoring and some of the gadgetry built into it, like electric stun pads in the gloves, hidden boot knives, and radios.

Sam was Rose Red and Holly was Snow White.

“Wow,” I said, seeing them in that in person rather than memory.

“Yeah. We liked the costumes from memory,” Holly said, twirling and making skirt go spinny.

Sam walked over, working those lovely curves. She put a hand on my chubby mommy belly, because of course she did. “You’re just wearing this outfit?”

I was in a loose boho skirt and tank top. I pointed behind me to the small treaded vehicle the size of a small car headed up the ramp from the extensive underground base under my store. “I got more clothes in there.” It settled in next to where some body doubles of me were seated on chairs. Unlike me, these weren’t pregnant.

“Good, you’re not going into a fight yourself,” Sam said. She took my hand. Holly took the other one. A moment later, we appeared in my portal lair. When I got my hands on wormhole technology, I exploited it to create a base that combined pieces of various dimensions and locations within the universe. We appeared in a cave with air portaled in from over a section of ocean higher than the tallest ships and lower than any plane that would be traveling that far from civilization. I activated a giant monitor and a hologram station to give me a complete view of the alien fleet over Earth.

I had a moment of viciousness. “I could just… wipe them all out. Every single one. Crack them in half, douse them in the heart of a star, suck them all into black holes, vent atmosphere, flood them with deadly creatures. Drowning, electrocution, throwing a planet at them. I am death incarnate… except I need Maia and I don’t know where she is. And if I kill them, maybe they send another fleet. Or they send someone with the ability to negate wormhole technology. Or they just destroy Earth from afar before we even realize we’re under attack, doing to us what I do to them.”

Sam squeezed my hand. Holly booped my nose. “Boop. Why so serious?”

I shook my head. “Heh. Guess it’s a good thing I had so many mental problems before. I was mad without power, so I already know to be careful. Ok, enough with the boring-ass introspection. Everyone ready to go deep into Congress’s tightwad?”

They nodded. A door opened in front of us, with me humming the Twilight Zone theme. We stepped through and out into Congress near to various people in suits. I tapped one of them on the shoulder. “’Scuse me, I need to see an alien.”

“Who the hell are you?!” asked a startled man somewhere around his thirties with a bit too much forehead and chin.

“I am the Psychopomp and I request a meeting with the envoys. Take me to them.”

“You look like some fat woman with two cosplay chi- oh my God,” he backed away when I warped my body away and replaced it with a spare body wearing a set of my armor. I had armor for myself, but it looked better without the rounded belly. Someone ran up, Capitol Police. Holly and Sam were ready, but the guy I’d scared held up his hand. “Officer, this group needs to be shown to the alien envoys. Take them there immediately.”

The officer took his hand off the very large gun and held them up to show he wasn’t going to do anything, then waved us toward him. “Sorry, right away.”

We walked through what they call the halls of power. There, the slimiest and most craven of power-grubbers oozed around looking for ways to collect checks and prestige without doing anything. And that’s after I’d killed all the malicious ones through accidents when I was a god. Finally, we were shown through a cordon of guards, including aliens in power suits that hid everything but their body shape and number of limbs. To play nice, I stepped back out with my real body and my sore cankles to look less threatening.

“This is cool!” Holly said.

“It’s lame,” Sam countered.

“I could really go for Korean fried chicken,” I said.

The cop presented us to some guy in a suit, who presented us to a room with a big table where Americans in suits sat with teal aliens who had lion-lake manes made of quills or feathers depending on the alien. “Psychopomp Gecko, and guests.”

“Thank you,” I said to the cop. I handed him a fiver. “Tell you what, go buy yourself some really cheap love.”

He stepped away, and my group stepped up to the table where some confused Senators, ambassadors, and aliens all stood up at my presence. One of the feathered ones turned to me and said in French-accented English. “You are the opera star. This is an uncommon delight.”

“Hon, hon, hon, now you send celebrities?” a petite quilled alien asked, directing the question to the politicians.

“I am not here as a celebrity, though I will sign autographs after the meeting,” I announced. Holly pulled a black marker out of her utility belt for emphasis. “I am here because you have arrested my wife under suspicion of trying to blow you all up and would like to negotiate for her release.”

In one back corner, I saw a silver-haired agent in a much cheaper suit whispering into the ear of a man from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. The small alien gestured to another in its group. This one was larger, and had a couple of rings gathering up quills on opposite sides of its face. “That is not possible. What she did was a violation of the sanctions of safe harbor and diplomacy of the Consortium.”

“Let me visit her then,” I said.

The Senator from the SSCI spoke up, “We would consider it a personal favor of goodwill if you honored the request of Psychopomp Gecko to see her wife.” I glanced at him and nodded my appreciation. That’s Torian and now this guy I’m going to owe favors to.

“You have a child from the prisoner?” asked the alien who recognized me from the space opera I’d been in a little bit. That feathered alien reached out across the table for my belly, then actually climbed across it to place her hand on my belly. Holly and Sam both snickered.

I sighed. “Yeah. And if you let me up to see her, I’ll let anyone in the room who wants to touch my belly do so, on top of the good will incentive.”

I’ve never had so many hands on my stomach. “It is agreed!” the quilled alien with the slight build declared. “We will provide you with what you Earthlings call a conjugal visit, eh?”

“That’s not,” the one Senator who helped me out started to say.

I held up a hand. “Speak for yourself. I fully intend to get up there and conjugate her brains out.”

“We will have you on the next diplomatic shuttle,” the petite envoy declared. Meanwhile, the one who recognized me pulled out a plush doll of me for an autograph.

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New Normal 1

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Welcome back, dear readers. After the restoration of reality, there were loose ends to clear up. As much as I liked having a cult, I had to get them to close up shop. I saved some commemorative merchandise from it for myself, but I don’t want these guys selling the worship of me now that I’m back down to normal. From what I gathered, the memories of the other world changed people a bit. Lots of introspection. Not so much with my family, since they knew what happened. Medusa and Venus also took a lot of time to get reacquainted with their parents and to help Venus deal with her mental issues. She’s taking her failure as a goddess hard, even after I reassured her she didn’t even have to drown everyone on Earth.

And without the god-like power, I’ve had to get used to gravity and biology again. Science sucks. Morning sickness caught up to me and I’m showing my preggerness. I’m fat with little Alexander and obsessed with dipping tacos in ranch with a side of chocolate chip cookies. Cooked garlic in chow mein. Carrots in Cool Whip. I feel like the floor shakes whenever I walk into the kitchen. I’m fat and gassy and I look terrible. And I can’t stop crying!

“How do you feel, babe?” Sam asked cautiously, watching me eat strawberry jam out of the jar while watching an episode of Farscape on TV. I sniffled and wiped my face with a napkin. “I’m great. This is a funny episode. Crackers don’t matter!”

On screen, a Floridian astronaut was beating up aliens. An alien in leather bondage gear and a Hawaiian shirt suggested he murder one of them and have pizza with margarita shooters. Ugh, I can’t have alcohol. I never felt more like drinking than now.

“You going to get around any?” she asked.

I sniffed. “I’m a blob. An ugly, ugly blob.”

“You’re beautiful, you would just be more beautiful if you had a shower and stopped eating everything,’ Sam said. She reached out to rub my belly. “Here, let me help you up.” She helped me get to my fat feet with my fat ankles and fat calves and helped walk me into the bathroom. I went for a bath in the tub I’d designed to be big enough to let me lay down. I floated there, singing whale songs to match how I felt.

“Hon, I left a dress out here for you!” Sam said. “You’re a beautiful, beautiful butterfly!”

“I just farted and it smelled like cheap salisbury steaks! I haven’t had those in a month,” I answered. Aside from that, I enjoyed the hot water relaxing my skin. I could have fallen asleep, but it was one in the afternoon.

My relaxation was ruined by Holly shouting through the door. “Hey hot chunk, your sister wives are fighting a giant turkey!”

“Thank you, Holly!” I did not feel like thanking her. I think she calls me hot chunk for the angry sex. Except lately, it’s been hangry sex. There was mixed reception to me keeping a spicy turkey sandwich on the nightstand while we fucked. I groaned and pulled myself out of the water.

I wasn’t impressed. It was a turkey. Venus’s head came up to its shoulder. It breathed flames that nearly engulfed my depressed baby daddy-momma. Father of my kid, without sperm or penis being involved. I reached out my consciousness. When I returned things to normal, I also gave myself back all of my implants and resources I had in the past. That includes a base with dimensional portal technology, swarms of nanites, and the ability to connect to both remotely.

“Need a hand?” I asked Venus.

She sighed in her power armor’s earpiece. “Yeah, if you don’t think I’m chicken.”

“Assisting you would be a poultry challenge,” I said. I created a portal and sent out a mass of nanites that fluttered through the air like a flight of butterflies. The turkey turned and flamebroiled some of them, which was smart of it. Due to their smaller surface area, nanotech is susceptible to temperature extremes. I had more metal than it had fire; they formed into a hand that wrapped around the turkey and pulled it into the portal. I opened a portal to a cave deep underground with a bit of air and dumped the turkey there until I could see what the heroes want done with it.

“Thanks dear,” Venus said. “We need a good codename for when you’re all heroic like this. What did you do with it?”

I explained to her. I avoided exasperation over her calling me a hero. I’m not a hero. “And now I’m running back into the moral conundrum of what to do with it. Either turn it over to an immoral, corrupt justice system, or send it into an unaccountable system of secret prisons. Or just kill the thing, I guess.”

She sighed.

Everything seemed fine. We’re just moving toward a new normal after the recent fuckery. Like, now that I’m subject to biology. “Anyway, I need to go see this doctor in town about my coochie passenger.”

“Ew. Fine, go make sure our baby’s going to be fine.”

I hung up. Sam was going to go pick up Qiang, while Holly accompanied me to the obstetrician. She was down to help me with all the extra paperwork of getting five months pregnant without having seen a doctor yet. Since it’s the town of Radium, the older guy just sighed, looked at my cybernetic eyes, and said, “This is superhero-related, isn’t it?”

I shrugged. “Well, a hero knocked me up. And then I didn’t have to deal with any health matters for other reasons having to do with power and all.”

“Alright. Let’s open up the hood and take a look. Why don’t you tell me about your diet?”

“This is going to be interesting,” Holly said, holding my hand. I wasn’t in any danger, I just wanted to hold her hand. Her skin is soft.

Everything’s fine. I’m just a fat, hormonal woman forming a human up my vajay-jay.

Of course, just as things are getting into some sort of normal rhythm, that’s when the aliens appeared. Huge swarm of ships covered the sky, that whole deal. I didn’t get a call about it. Elsewhere, some weird multi-limbed thing out of Lovecraft’s wet dreams. Also, somebody with superpowers tried to blow up Capital building. All shit that nobody called me about or attacked me over.

I even got to talk it over with the god squad on game night. I used portal tech to get there this time. Baron Samedi greeted me, “Gecko, you’re glowing!”

“It’s about time,” said voice both familiar to me and unfamiliar to the setting. The Torian, an evil version of the time hero The Mobian, more likely to use time travel for his own benefit.

“Hello Mobian. Looking to use up one of your extra lives?” I grunted. Folks wouldn’t describe someone with a big belly like mine as threatening. “Or just here to check on the aftermath of everything?”

“The latter,” the old man said. Considering he was like hundreds of years old, he looked good for his age.

Tom Waits stood up and pulled out a chair for me. Argu the Observer, an alien god, scooted its chair away from Torian. I thanked Tom and took a seat with a graceful “Ugh. This pregnancy shit…”

“Now you know why I don’t like being a woman,” Torian said. “You really got rid of the power this time.”

“Yeah,” I said. “I’m regretting that decision already. What’s the game tonight? I’ve had to miss recently for reasons.”

“We know!” Argu argued. “My people found out what’s going on in this planet and it alarmed them.”

“Oh yeah?” I asked.

Samedi nodded gravely while Tom Waits dropped the game Pandemic on the table. I groaned from the game choice. Samedi ignored it and filled me in, “Argu was telling us how Earth is like a cosmic dumping ground for discarded energies and technology that promote superpowers.”

Torian scoffed. “Different civilizations tell different stories for why humans get so many superpowers, and they’re all lies. None of them know. They pick on Earth because they can and because they don’t see it as an equal and they don’t like superpowers let humans fight back. You called out their ineffectual peacekeepers and made friends with their former slaves.”

Argu folded some of its starfish body in on itself. “You threatened all of reality.”

“I put it back together,” I said.

“The aliens are concerned, and the humans must tread carefully,” the Baron added.

I shrugged. “They’ll call me if they need me.”

We played Pandemic, aiming to stop a disease I nicknamed Disco Fever. In the end, Disco Fever overran the planet and spelled the doom of humanity. “Maybe they need doctors more than gods,” I noted.

Torian stopped me. “I need to warn you about something, because I know if I do, you will survive and can help me in my future. And I have some fondness for this planet that you are a lethal guardian of. Also, you’re going to kill Mobian at some point and bring him closer to being me.”

“Huh. Sounds like the right calculus,” I mentioned. He might have some game in mind, or he might just be that selfish. I yawned and looked at the old geezer. He was in Victorian casual, I’d say. A nice embroidered vest, slacks, pinstripe shirt. He normally went with a suit jacket and top hat, but this time he had on a tweed cap. “What’s up?”

He held up a color-shifting crystal attached to a small chunk of porous rock. “You’re going to need this. You’ll figure out when, and you could make it without it, but it would cost you time and someone important to you. This will save her life.” He held it out for me.

I took the crystal, which felt warm in my hands. The rock was room temperature, but the crystal felt like it generated its own heat. I looked back to the Torian. It was a biological-crystalline growth, a fact that popped into my head somehow. Likely a residual memory of omniscience. It’s not like I lost all the knowledge I’d actively looked for or browsed out of boredom. I still know “Fine. Deal, I guess, unless I find out something later.”

I wiped my palm on my dress and reached out to shake on it. Torian removed his cap and kissed the back of my hand. “Charmed to have helped you.”

Back at my house, I had a message waiting from Medusa, the version of Venus who didn’t get sucked out of time and who grew to care for me and lose a lot of her uptight, strict adherence to the law in favor of vigilantism and social justice. “Hey, Gecko. I wanted you to hear it from me. I was on security when someone tried to blow up the Capitol with the alien envoy present, and they claim it was me. I guess I should tell you to stay out of this and let justice prevail, but I don’t trust any of this. Clear my name and come get me, please. Try not to hurt too many of them.”

Well, well, well. Looks like some aliens need stabbing with a crystal.

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Topsy Turf 6

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“Would you call this a tribunal?” I asked Medusa.

“Maybe. I guess. If we had to call it something,” she said. We’d all gathered in the rear of my veterinary clinic, where the mobile slime molds had removed the truth serum and brought us a bunch of tables and chairs. I gave one some cash and sent it on a fast food run, making sure it knew to touch the bags but not the food itself. I think it understood. It nodded like it did.

Spinetingler had turned into a much more normal shape, this time a floating black mass inside a cloak dark enough to look like a hole in reality. Mindgame looked much healthier than when I first captured her for Spinetingler. The non-aggression pact between myself and the other major villain had been forged when I agreed to help reunite them. My homo machina physiology, that I now lack, is highly resistant to mind control. That was important, because Mindgame, as she goes by now, essentially blanks people’s minds and controls their bodies like her own puppets. When I found her, she had control over a whole apartment building. Neither it, nor her, were in the best shape physically.

She caught me looking and winked. “Nice to see they’re feeding you,” I said. “Last time we met in-person, you had missed a few meals.”

“You’re that girl who kidnapped me.” She tapped her temple. “But something’s wrong. You can’t keep me out anymore.”

Spinetingler leaned forward to block her view of me. I nodded appreciatively to him. He nodded back, then whispered something to her.

“Can we get on with this?” Venus asked. “We need to figure out what comes next. No one seems to like my world.”

“If your world is permanent, my life doesn’t go right,” the white and blue-clad speedster said.

“Who are you, again?” Medusa asked.

“Uh, I’m the Cobalt Racer, from the future. I’m Qiang’s husband, so you’re my mother-in-law. Uh, you and Venus both are,” he pointed between the pair of them. “And I guess you too,” he pointed to me. “I came back because of temporal reverberations that were erasing things in my future. When I came back, the past wasn’t right.

Mix N’Max, my old frined, was with us, as was the goddess and Max’s snu-snu buddy, Pestilentia.

Joining the familiar faces were two others, including the representative of the alien machines. It was a flying, coffin-shaped device with a mechanical humanoid torso hanging from it. I hadn’t had time to catch up on where the machines were in this reality, but I’d helped arrange for them to set up a homeland on the inhospitable outer planets of the solar system in the real one. This one had been sent to fight Venus, but I don’t think they trusted sending one of their negotiators. Being less connected now, I can’t just spy and see if Venus left them alone in the solar system or if she fucked around with them.

Torian was the other extra person, and the time traveling old man looked extra cranky. “I need to stop all of this right now. I already heard how this meeting goes. It takes too long, with too many arguments, so I came back to do this right.” He started pointing around, first to Pestilentia and Max, “You two don’t give a shit. In fact, you’re high,” he directed that to Max.

Max chuckled. “I can tell you I’m high, too. Doesn’t take a time machine to know that.”

“I was never sure if he could get high,” Medusa whispered.

I shrugged. “He can if he wants to.”

“That aside, she wants someone hurt,” Torian pointed a finger at Mindgame. At Spinetingler, he explained, “You want someone punished for controlling you like you control others.” Next was Medusa and Venus, “They don’t want their parents to be dead again and that’s a sticking point.” He pointed to me. “You want to go back to the way things were and you’re willing to give up the power and make some changes, but you don’t like that you had sex with your twin sister.” He was right, but she wasn’t my twin when I had sex with her. Now there’s something not everyone gets a chance to say.

That got me some looks from everyone. Torian moved onto the speedster, “You want reality to go back to normal because you hit the jackpot marrying Qiang and you don’t want anything to endanger that future.”

He brushed off his suit jacket and sat down again, then cocked a thumb toward the machine representative. “The two of us don’t want any humans to have that sort of power. That sort of thing is why folks don’t like gods existing, the meddlers.”

“This doesn’t sound like that big of an impasse,” I said.

“I think you should fight each other to figure out who gets to decide how the power gets used,” Torian said.

“That idea is shitty,” Max answered. He pointed toward Venus with a blunt he hadn’t been hiding or anything. “She still has the power.”

Torian had been removing the crystal ball from an inner pocket on his coat that it shouldn’t have fit into. “This will remove and contain the power.” Oh yeah, sure. That’s all it’ll do. “That way it won’t be an unfair fight.”

“Even I can detect that falsehood,” the alien machine said. It examined the device closely, then raised its arms. “I believe I have a solution.” With only that warning, it zapped Venus.

I dove on instinct. Cobalt Racer and Venus were faster, probably fast enough that they could actually see the purple blur pulled out of Venus by the alien machine. I landed hard, feeling the power race through me. I felt incredible, again. For one thing, gravity was once again a suggestion instead of a rule. I stood up, taking in a frozen scene. A trail of light showed Cobalt Racer had pushed the alien machine away and then got tackled by Spinetingler. Torian reached toward the middle of our gathering in vain. Venus dusted herself off, not frozen. I looked to her, cocking my head. “Wait, I got the power.”

“So did I,” my wife said. “I can feel it.”

She was right. I pulled up my omniscience and gave it a go, replaying the scene. I dove before anyone and happened to get in the way. Venus had enough chance to speed up and try to intercept what was going to be pulled out of her body. We both touched it, with Venus diving overhead and me hitting the ground. And we both contained it, becoming roughly equal in power.

“So what’s this mean?” she asked.

“Hon,” I approached, hands raised. Just in case, I sought out the knowledge needed created a copy of the device the machine had used. The clever thing had done an astoundingly quick visual analysis of Torian’s device and quickly recreated it using its own transformable internal structure. No wonder the thing was meant to deal with reality warpers. “I really think it’s time for our honeymoon to be over. That’s all this was, right? I told you one change. You changed the world. It’s time to go home.”

“You sure you don’t want to fight?” Venus asked. “We get up to some fun stuff if we fight.”

“Oh yeah?” I snapped my fingers and we appeared in a dark void. I didn’t unmake reality or anything, I just took us away from everything.

“How’d you do that?” she asked. “I don’t think I can affect you that way.”

“I’ve picked up a few tricks. You’re saying you want to fight?” I had to wonder a bit about that.

She snapped her fingers and part of the darkness opened up like a monitor. One showed me dressed in a black leather costume that had to be terrible to sweat in, catching Venus on a rooftop with a giant stolen diamond in hand. One tussle later and the clothes were off. Another monitor appeared, with me in my armor getting beaten by Venus, who handcuffed me and proceeded to feel me up. More were out there, different versions of ourselves all created when we try to change reality to give each other an edge.

I walked up and wrapped my arms around her. “Feels like you can do anything, so why shouldn’t you? It’s a little tough for me to be the one arguing against it, except maybe people need to save themselves rather than having it saved for them.”

Venus scoffed. “Are you saying you’re more responsible with this power than I am?”

I shook my head. “I’m saying that superheroes aren’t going to save them. As long as people are people, there’ll be a Klan or Nazis or a bunch of creepy British guys thinking trans people are bad. Heroes can fight them and villains can kill them, but people have to change to stop them from being a thing in the first place.” I paused to see if I was getting through to her. The way her eyes teared up, I figured I was getting close. “I’ve been thinking I should find some way to get rid of it.”

Venus stepped in close, shutting down the monitors. “How? You can’t trust the Torian.”

“Of course not. But I want to get the world sorted out real quick. And by that I mean go back to our version of things… mostly. I did say I’d let you change one thing, right?” I held my hand out and created an image of her parents.

Venus nodded, and turned into an intangible, ghostly form that flowed into me. I felt the power, all of it, once again. I also briefly felt the temptation to go back on what I said. Instead, I snapped my fingers and the dark void fell away.

We were back at the shop. My electronics shop, not veterinary clinic. The rest of this whole bunch were all frozen still, but I pushed them all back into their seats and restarted time. They had a moment to finish shouts or try to lunge before their memories updated. “You did it,” Cobalt Racer said, smiling. He had such a nice, genuine smile. He better not hurt Qiang.

I nodded, then let Venus step out of me.

“What about punishment?” Mindgame asked. I waved. She and Spinetingler went back to their abandoned theme park home.

Torian stood up, holding his crystal ball. “You have to give it up!” I whisked him away to his timecraft and sent him off to Betelgeuse a million years ago. While Cobalt Racer was watching all this, I sent him back to the future.

I looked to the machine that had come. It was strong. No much for even half my power. “I’ll give it up. Your people know me.”

“Really?” Max asked “That’s a lot of power to give up. You sure you don’t want me to hold onto it for safekeeping?”

“I’m sure.” I was also sure I had gotten my body to my liking, like being just thick enough in the right places, with hair a mixture of a beautiful red that becomes blond. It made me happy to no longer be a twin of Dame. I also kind of phased out the relationship she had with an alternate body I controlled. The experience in the other reality soured me on that stuff. It didn’t put me off being able to change forms, so of course I took advantage of things in a way I didn’t tell anyone. Of course I left myself a few advantages like flight.

“There we go… a few nice changes… everyone’s got themselves a weird dream to remember the other reality by,” I muttered aloud.

Venus… Isabella, walked a few steps to get her feet under her again. Maia, aka Medusa, walked up and hugged her. Their parents appeared in the yard from the other reality without any gift-wrapped memories of this version. I added, “Some people get a little more to remember things by.”

Medusa and Venus both looked to the resurrected mom and dad and walked over. I raised my fingers for one last snap. “Just one thing left to deal with, I guess.” Two if you count the copies of Torian’s power-extraction machine that appeared in my basement lair.

Snap.

Energy cannot be created or destroyed.

“I thank you,” the machine said. It shot off into space.

That left my family, and Pestilentia, to head on over to the house for a big reunion with the real Sam and Holly. It took a long time before everyone got to sleep. I couldn’t help smirking to myself as I hugged my pillow.

It was the perfect pillow. It stayed cold when it needed to, would stay worm when it needed to. It couldn’t get dirty or mashed out of place. I might even say it’s a god among pillows.

There, back to normal.

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Great Power 5

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I was once imprisoned in a complex underground prison called the Cube, like a Rubik’s Cube. Been thinking about that now that I’ve actually managed to put together the control for my own base. I need a name for the base itself but for now it goes everywhere. One little cube lets me connect to every seam in the place and change it up. A self-sufficient, transdimensional hideout with access to energy and resources beyond the reach of anyone else. I gave Sam a key that I can turn off from a distance, in case Technolutionary doublecrosses me.

I consider it more of a “when” instead of an “if” situation. My goals and his sometimes cross over enough for us to put aside past betrayals and work together, but it never lasts long. In this case, I don’t know how long he expected me to think we’d work together. There are so many of these Omega Pearls around. They’re just little bits and pieces of this overwhelmingly powerful being that had been trapped between all universes for a long time. He got into our world through a situation that involved possessing my body, and getting kicked out seemed to have left bits of his power around.

The situation’s ripe for shit going wrong. That’s why I have a base that transcends space and the universe, accessible from a control cube floating in the main cave. It was a wonder of technology that could revolutionize the world. I kept it to myself and used it to steal some computer parts real quick. I hefted the box, adjusted the exit to send me to the Skylab.

The Skylab, our cooperative lab, gets its name from the fact that it’s flying. Maintenance robots keep it functioning while, on the inside, we were working on a way to find out the enormity of our task and make it much easier.

We don’t know how much, but Technolutionary and I have come up with an idea. We’ve figured out enough about how people can access the pearls that we believe we can plug it into a computer with a mapping system. We’re going to use the power of satellite technology to try and track down the rest. Worst case scenario, instead of some inherent connection, we analyze its unique energy signature and try to find that around the world minus any hidden deep underground or in lead. Or in other dimensions, like in the Hell Dimensions.

With nothing but hard work, determination, old-fashioned grit, sayings people have heard a thousand times, and an army of robot minions, we assembled our new supercomputer. We threw the code in there, and Technolutionary slapped one of the pearls we had in the “Omega chamber” as he called coffeepot-sized container.

“I thought there’d be more electricity shooting out. You mad scientists love that,” Sam said, sipping on coffee.

Technolutionary cleared his throat, then pressed a button. The entire wall behind our supercomputer revealed itself to be a monitor that flashed lightning across it, thunder echoing throughout the lab. “Does that meet your approval?”

Sam gave him the thumbs-up.

“Good,” I said. “Let’s get this bad boy scanning.” I walked over to the side of the supercomputer tower, packed full of computing goodness, and flipped a switch. The computer’s fan started and the light turned on. A holographic projector in front of the tower turned on, showing a hologram of Earth. Overlaid on top of it was the word “Scanning…”

And it kept on floating there like that. After a couple of minutes, Technolutionary went over to open the tower and look into it. “It’s working, right?”

I brought up the holographic keyboard and the task menu. “Yep. Taking up the entire CPU, too. I think it’s just taking a long time to work.”

Five minutes after we activated the seeker program, a red blip appeared. “We got one!” Sam declared. “And at this rate, you guys can go collect one every time it pops up!”

Technolutionary grumbled to himself. “I’ll grab it if you want.”

I shrugged. “If you want. Looks like this is going to take awhile. I might duck out, go for some I know of in another dimension.”

“Might as well,” Technolutionary agreed.

“What about me?” Sam said, leaning on me.

“I’m going to Hell, and I don’t want to take you with me,” I said.

“Like, a sexy hell, or lake of fire hell?” Sam asked.

I waggled my hand. “I mean, I thought some of the demons were hot, but the place was a floating crag of rust and metal used for target practice, so…”

Sam nodded, took a sip of coffee, and pulled a chair out from the wall. “Looks like I’ll be watching the hologram. You have fun, babe. But if you find a sexy demon…”

I nodded. Just like with how I tried a couple dates with Medusa again, Sam and mine’s relationship is polyamorous. It’s kind of like being polygamous, but without the marriage or the pedophilia.

I barely even needed to get ready. I mean, the power of these portals was at my fingertips via a wireless electronic link. I could drown them in lava, or an ocean. I could drop a blue whale on my enemies, or cast them into the heart of a collapsing star.

Recognizing the signs of a power trip in myself, I decided to slap myself a few times and armor up. I’ve killed too many people who thought the exact same things. I hadn’t even set up a forcefield generator that could project one through a portal to cover me. I checked and rechecked the armor, and made sure all the equipment was doing ok. I even upgraded winrar from the demo to an actual purchase just to make sure something wouldn’t go wrong in the heat of battle. And I expected heat in Hell.

I reappeared, armor computer racing to analyze the situation and project a cloak of invisibility around me. I was back in the big egg-shaped building where I’d disappeared. The damaged globe was gone, as were the pearls around it. There were a few lights left on, but it all looked abandoned and dusty. I hopped outside for a better look, appearing on top of the egg.

A large number of vehicles were parked a ways away, around a set of clear cubes with metal along the edges and corners. Inside, I could see people. Outside, I saw demons. Some more of the ones with all the tendrils, and even a pack of the feral ones that looked humanoid with odd proportions and claws. There were also more conventional demons, with different skintones, spade tails, and a pair of horns up top. They wore suits and labcoats as one of them, a demon with a pair of welder’s goggles on, stepped forward to one of the cubes with a huge batch of Omega pearls.

They were all forced together, a basketball-sized bunch levitating out of reach of his hands. That they moved where he wanted suggested they were under his power in some way. He forced them through the clear portion of the cube somehow, and then they flew at the human. While they glowed red, he made a gesture that left an imprint of azure in the air in front of him, around the pearls, and on the prisoner’s chest. The pearls flew into the human.

So I guess they got impatient with whatever they had planned and tried another weaponization. It was the eyes of the person in the cell that were subsumed into crimson first, then their skin. The clothes they had on were rough with clawmarks, but they burned off as the floated… and then the cube was just gone, prisoner and all. An explosion off in the distance helped me track it again. I looked over there and zoomed in, finding nothing left but a floating mass of pearls and scraps of the cell the person had been in. A child-sized demon in a biohazard suit appeared, scooped them into a plastic container, and then teleported back to the demons at the cubes. I did the same, staying hidden so I could figure out what was going on.

The demon who had done the insertion was babbling to the others in a language that my translator program hadn’t yet figured out. I didn’t have a complete enough sample last time. Then, he approached the other cube and spoke English. “Greetings, mortal. Don’t be afraid. Soon, I will give you more power than you can possibly imagine. You can become a god unto yourself, in the service of elevating us. We are finetuning the spells we use for this, so we will be with you momentarily. And know that if you die, your death will not be in vain. You will have given us the greatest gift of all: knowledge.”

The prisoner in the cell stayed on his knees, praying, trying to drown out the demon. When the demon stopped talking, I could hear he was speaking Spanish. A demon walked up to the head scientist demon and said something to him, who sighed. “It worked in the movies, where all humans speak the same language. Fine. Are we ready? I’m not explaining it to any test subject twice.” He turned around to look at the imp carrying the container, which I was sneaking up on.

The demon scientist raised a finger, pointing one long nail at me. He spat something in his language, then moved his finger around in a circle, leaving yellow symbols in the air. I kicked the biohazard demon out of the way, who disappeared with the container. Its body reappeared nearby, in a crowd of more of the little ones in protective gear. Meanwhile, all the demons around me looked my way, noticing me at once.

“Who are you?” asked the scientist. “Get her!”

Two larger, bony-plated demons with no horns stood nearby in black suits. Flames engulfed their outfits and left them in spiky armor, holding swords. With a wave of my hand, I created a portal from the tips of the swords to the inside of their skulls. The demons guards fell. I turned and opened another portal, bringing me the container of pearls.

Suddenly, I noticed the blue glow on my chest and the container. The pearls flew into me.

Everything went red hot. My awareness exploded. Like instead of having your consciousness focused in your head, through your eyes, everything expanded outward. Past that land mass, past the other islands of the Blasted Place, out from the cluster of dimensional flotsam that is collectively called Hell. I’d been there before. When Omega possessed me, there was far more power than this safely ensconced in my body. I willed myself back to myself, finding myself naked with scarlet skin. I was also in one of the other islands. Doubtless, the demons expected an explosion.

And to think, I hesitated? I feared the power. It felt so good. Familiar. Like sliding back into a bodysuit of godmode. Just for fun, I decided to add a spade tail, pair of horns, and a couple tiny wings. Just a bit to mock them. I realized I could no longer feel my dimensional network, but that’s ok. I took a step from a barren floating island of rust and reappeared in the middle of the demons.

“What did you think the good result was going to be if you turned someone you hated into a god?” I asked. They understood. I had put understanding into the words, regardless of their language.

The head scientist’s lab coat fluttered like a cape as fire and electricity built up in his hands. I raised a hand and dissipated the energy. Then I spread his atoms out until he fell apart like ash.

All the demons lost their shit. I took a look at a few, wondering if I ought to grab one… no… no. That’s not who I am, not even with this power. And I don’t mean because there was a female guard demon and I was wondering how those bony plates work in mating.

I let them go. They couldn’t do anything to me, even use me as a suicide bomb. Instead, I turned to the cubes, and the people within. I thought to myself that I’d like to find out where they came from. Lines appeared in the air, probably only to me. I sent them all back home. I was going to go back myself, but then I got a fitting little idea. I flew far above the whole area. Yes, flew. It’s different even than with the antigravity. The control and the feeling of physics being my bitch… it’s my way of telling the world it doesn’t own me anymore.

A lot of the demons were still fleeing. I shrugged and sent them to other islands. Then I imploded the one they all had been on, smirking. The Blasted Place… I wasn’t done with it yet. I gathered up all the remaining demons. All the little imps were gone, leaving guards and scientists. I brought the entire crowd to me in a protective bubble and let them watch from above this pocket dimension. I intended to wipe out the rest of the land here.

Then I hesitated, thinking of Sam and Medusa and Qiang, and everyone else I care about. “Go home,” I told them. “Leave us alone.” I sent them away. Then I left the Blasted Place. I meant to go home, but something else drew me in. I’d seen it before, a red blemish in the divide between universes. I recognized it now as the remains of Mr. Omega from when he was drawn out of ours. There was another pocket dimension there, a vast expanse of land. I appeared there in front of Mr. Omega himself. No, my newfound awareness told me this wasn’t just a smaller Mr. Omega. This was a piece of him, in the same way the pearls were pieces of him.

“Hello sister,” the Lesser Omega said.

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Great Power 4

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Teleportation is an amazing power with many forms. The version I have lets me walk through a door in my basement and step out into a cave with no entrance to the surface, deep beneath the Earth, with weird stalactites in part of it that look like snow hanging from the ceiling. A corridor from there leads to an old, abandoned military base on a Pacific island near the returned continent of Mu. I’m building more doors. There’s one that leads to the inside of an asteroid where busy automatons of mine chip away at heavy metals and bring them back to be used. Another takes me to the base hidden underneath my shop; it serves as a refuge for criminals and supervillains who need to lie low. Finally, there’s the door that I open to get to the Skylab I share with Technolutionary.

I don’t even need the doors. They make it easier recognize where one place ends and another begins. It’s incredibly powerful, even if it doesn’t sound like it. Sadly, it was used for something like saving people. I mean, it was technically what I was trying to do. It just interrupted me in the middle of stealing really valuable shit.

“Hey!” Sam said, coming up behind me. My girlfriend/minion wore some nice short black jeans with fishnets for me. Well, she wears them because she likes them and I just go along appreciating how they make her look. “What have you been doing?”

I stood at an arch, looking into a bunch of cubbies. I whirled around, holding bonds in one hand, a brick of cocaine in the other, and a pearl necklace of the nonsexual kind around my neck. “What?!”

“First, don’t what me. Second, I’ve been trying to reach you. Technolutionary has an alarm on a big monitor and he says he needs your help.”

I had to be the saddest woman anyone had ever seen in a pearl necklace with a brick of coke and a fistful of one million dollars in someone else’s money. I reset the arch to a more neutral destination: the inside of a space station my robot builders were putting together. The arch has five different sensors that will turn it off in case of hull breach, solar flair, or other dangers.

Sam and I took the door to the SkyLab where Technolutionary was adjusting the view on his Big Monitor. It was divided up, different camera angles focused on a fight going on. He wore his close-fitting power armor, the armor plates adjusting subtly to account for weight distribution. His face was far more recessed in the helmet he had, his faceplate still in his hands.

“What is it, where is it, and why do we care?” I asked.

“Tuscaloosa, Alabama is the where.”

“Now I don’t care,” Sam responded.

Technolutionary brought up one divided window and ran it back. “I was running tests on how to utilize the Pearls. I’ve made advancements, and so have others.” That window framed a still shot of someone in brassy armor with a softball-sized Omega pearl in a backpack firing crimson energy blasts at another super. That one had a trio of smaller pearls, one in a necklace and the other two on leather gloves he wore. He was dressed like some sort of wizard, flying through the air, hurtling fireballs and red lightning at the other one.

I got facial recognition on both, but Technolutionary had already run it and put it on screen. “Brash is the man in the armor. The wizard is Lord Shadeheart.”

Sam gave a golf clap. “Not bad.”

I glanced her way. She shrugged. “Better than your evil villain name being Gecko without a lizard gimmick.”

I squinted in an exaggerated look of hurt and betrayal. She stuck out her tongue at me.

“They’ve been in the local Tuscaloosa news for some time. Shadeheart is a nobody former archeologist who got arrested for stealing and selling minor magical artifacts before he appeared one day with his three magic stones and started hurling thunderbolts. No one had the context when he first appeared to realize what the stones were. Then there’s Brash, who was known for his engineering and exoskeletons in high school that he tried to turn into a superhero career. He managed to rig some good power sources in recent years thanks to recent advances, but then a few months ago he shows up with that red backpack, using it as a source of energy. He probably tapped the core and is lucky he found a way to contain it for now.”

“So one hero, one villain,” I noted.

“Both are walking time bombs,” Technolutionary said. “They’re fighting and this time they both have that Omega energy. Look what’s happening.”

He showed video real quick of Brash firing a beam that hit a squiggly red line of false lightning from Lord Shadeheart. It unleashed a hell of an explosion. The two seemed to be protected by the pearls they used, but cars were blown away and buildings, or what few Tuscaloosa has, shifted and fell. Shadeheart focused his magic on keeping one from smacking into him, while Brash tried to lower one down.

“I suppose we oughta steal those from them,” I said.

“This looks like a job for Supergirl!” Sam said, clapping me on the back. “One hero for the villain, one villain for the hero.”

“What hero?” I asked.

“She means Lady Guardian. Yes, I know it’s you,” Technolutionary said.

“I’m no hero,” I declared.

“Babe, you can be anything you want to be,” Sam whispered in my ear.

I blushed and decided it was still a good time to wear some armor. The Lady Guardian armor zipped over to me and encased by body, hiding any expressions from the world. “So I’ll take Shadeheart?”

Technolutionary sighed and pushed his faceplate into place. “I would prefer to face off against Shadeheart for the challenge and study, but this works better. Let’s get our channels tuned.”

“Same bat channel, same bat time?” I asked. It was really him making sure our encrypted communications were on the same wavelength.

“I’ll stay here and monitor the monitor,” Sam said. It was better than having her out there near falling buildings and massive energy blasts.

I turned to the doorway I used to walk in. “Time to… ugh… save Tuscaloosa.” The door shifted destinations I dove out first, coming out of the sky overhead. Technolutionary ran out and took flight, catching up to me briefly during my free fall before peeling off to find where Brash ended up.

The vaguely-angelic, semi-organic Lady Guardian armor’s shimmery wings were more nanomachines, but I had built in the same antigrav tech I’d stolen for use in the other armor. I adjusted course, aiming to come down right on top of Shadeheart’s head. He surveyed the mess around there and fired off a few scarlet magic bolts that tried to collapse more buildings on Brash. He didn’t notice the growing shade until just before I got there, turning his head to look up.

I crashed into him, feeling one of his shoulders make a snapping noise. We both spun out of control for a moment. He reached at me with one gloved hand that glowed carmine. My “wings” slipped underneath it and yanked the glove off. A burst of red pushed us apart, throwing us in different directions as he used his remaining glove to separate us.

I oriented myself upright and saw he’d encased himself in a maroon orb, naked hand now holding the shoulder of the arm that had a glove left. I unleashed a blinding flash with the suit’s holoprojectors and swooped down below, avoiding a burst of what looked like blaster fire from his glove and necklace.

I came up below, my wings forming tendrals that spread over his orb and guided him upward, rapidly. I opened another gateway just for us and passed through it, releasing the orb into space, the final frontier. Lord Shadeheart didn’t react well. Lots of people don’t under those circumstances. He looked at me, then began to fly toward Earth. He ended up slowing before that, the orb faltering. I caught up to him as soon as it went down, my nanomachines crawling over him to both see to his health and separate him from the sources of his power. We passed through the gate again, coming to rest in the woods near Tuscaloosa.

I’m not fond of what he used that power for, but I’ve done worse. “You’ll live. You’ll be sore for a bit, but you’ll live,” I told him. Gave him a little slap on the cheek. He groaned and stirred. “I’m keeping your gloves, though. Gonna find out how you’re tapping onto these things.”

I changed the destination of the gateway nearby and tossed the gloves and necklace through. “Ow!” Sam said over the radio.

“Sorry!” I called out. “Didn’t realize you were that close.”

“It’s cool.”

Technolutionary broke in. “Watch out! There’s a chopper around, with guns. They’re taking shots at me.”

I took to the air and scanned the disaster area. There were a couple of helicopters, one black and one with the Tuscaloosa Police Department decal on the side, right next to the open door and the rifle barrel. The black copter had something similar going on, but the rifle looked to be much heavier caliber. I flew into the air above the whole chaos. The police sniper trained the rifle on me and let a shot go. The bullet bounced off my tit with an annoying pain, but better than it going into the middle of that. I opened another gateway, appearing immediately in front of that open door and grabbing the rifle from the deputy. I handed him back just the scope. “You can have the rest when you can prove you’ve grown up.”

Then I did the same quick two-step on over to the black chopper. I immediately had an OSR badge thrust into my face. “Lady Guardian, we’re not here for you!” yelled one of the agents inside. I had to read it more than hear it under the circumstances.

“There are better ways to handle the disaster down below than adding bullets to it!” I warned them, pointing down at stunned bystanders in dust and debris. Nearby, I noticed Technolutionary, straddling the back of Brash’s armor and carving off a support strut for the larger pearl. It fell off, Brash’s armor stumbling and jerking. Technolutionary encased it in more of that goop from the Skylab and stuck it under his arm. I opened a gateway behind him that he dove through back to safety. I dropped down below the helicopter, through another one that left me in the Skylab well. I closed up all those ways to get back to us.

Sam stood in front of us, oversized gloves and necklace on. “Mwahahaha! Now I shall be the mistress, foolish mortals!”

Behind her, the monitor declared “Bum bum bum!” and let out old time dramatic thunder.

“Actually, these things aren’t working for me,” Sam said, pulling the stuff off. “Don’t know why, but I’ll go put them in one of the new scrambled cells.” She walked off to go delivery them to safe holding in these small randomized caves all over the world that this one particular portal accesses randomly.

“You didn’t kill Shadeheart, did you?” Technolutionary asked, popping out his faceplate.

I shook my head. “Might be worth one of us visiting, finding out how he could make those work.”

The other villain nodded, then tossed me the ball of goop. “Yeah. This thing looks like it was drilled into. We might learn something from it, but it’s clear we’ve run out of time. That’s three small-timers who figured this out and ended up with the ability to level a city by accident. Imagine if it was someone else like us. Or someone who wanted to do more.”

I nodded, remembering the scale model of Earth in that one Hell dimension weapons testing area. “Yeah. We’ve got a lot more ass to kick on our hands.”

“You want to rethink your phrasing there?” Technolutionary asked.

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Great Power 3

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“Why do you need to do this?” Sam asked me. She was helping me assemble this thing, a dimensional breach device like the island of Ricca uses to harvest infinite power from the stars. They’re doing some great research there, and I tap into all of it. I could go back if I wanted, but I respect the will of the people who deposed me in a coup. It’s not an election, but it was a pretty good indication that they did not want me in power anymore. I figure me stealing their research for my own nefarious ends is just a decent retirement package from the position of Empress.

As long as you have a big enough power source to open the initial gateway, you can then access the very core of a star and harvest the radiation for more power output without anything messy like radioactive waste material. And at that point, you can just open more portals as needed. I’ve already got an idea on how to use M.C. Escher and alien antigrav to design a demo room. That demo room is not the answer to Sam’s question.

“Everyone seems really complacent with this idea that someone else will fix the problem when it comes up. Mr. Omega’s powers are broken. I think everyone really underestimates not only these powers, but the ways they can be harvested. It’s a lot the same with the full grasp of portal technology and transdimensional technology. Power, as in energy and electricity, opens up so many things. People make too many assumptions about saving the world. The things I could do with this in its current form, if I was trying to really raise some hell…”

Just like with thoughts of bases and traps, my mind wandered to building perfection in armor. Infinite energy. A middle layer laced with portals that divert projectiles and such. Filling any space I’m in with whatever toxic gasses exist out there, or firing a solar corona.

Sam jiggled my hand. “Wake up.”

I blinked. “I’m awake.”

“The lights were on, but you were elsewhere. Busy? You had a thing, right?”

I shook my head. “I have a little while before I need to be in Lightning Crack. My consciousness was here, I was just daydreaming about things I could do with this if I was more inclined. Maybe I should, to be prepared. Same reason I’m doing all this.”

“Well I don’t think it’s complacency. It’s just knowing that one person can’t solve all the world’s problems alone. That’s not your problem. You have problems letting anything be someone else’s problem. The rest of us poor humans have to sit around and know that the fate of the world is being decided by gods like you.” She bumped my hips with hers. I bumped right back.

Sam decided to get under my skin by getting her hands all on top of my skin. There’s something nice about just being touched by someone sometimes. It’s not the same touching myself. She wasn’t doing that, dear readers. Not with Technolutionary doing his creepy thing where he pretends not to be focusing on us.

Technolutionary had just brought in one of the Omega Pearls in a transparent aluminum cube and set it into a device with a bunch of little arms. Sam was distracting enough, especially when she put her mouth close to my ear and blew. The pearl made things worse, drawing my attention. I felt the heat off it when it came in. The other villain tapped a few buttons on the side of the cradle he set the cube in and a set of four robot arms began to fire small lasers through the cube and over the surface of the pearl.

“If we can do nothing else with them, at least they make good heaters, right?” I asked.

“How would you do that?” Technolutionary asked.

“I can feel the heat this far away,” I said.

Sam stopped messing around with me as Technolutionary straightened up. Sam told me, “I can’t feel it and I’m here with you.”

“It’s giving off no heat,” Technotutionary said.

“Y’all kidding me right now?” I asked. “How does it look to y’all?”

“Red and glowing,” Technolutionary answered.

Sam patted me on the head. “Yeah. What do you see?”

“The same, but it’s hard to look away,” I said.

Technolutionary looked to her, then to me. “Sorry to interrupt, but we need to test this.” So I ended up sitting in the corner, letting them know every time I felt them approach with one of the pearls. This was then followed by Technolutionary having me pick out the pearls from a bunch of gimmicked minerals or crystals. I could pick. Every time, I was drawn to the pearls.

“So you have some special connection with these, and it’s not just your eyes, or your race,” Technolutionary concluded.

Sam folded her arms. “It’s probably because you were possessed by Mr. Omega.”

“Makes the most sense so far,” I said. “And one other way we can test it and get more insight into all this is something I need to run do.”

“Lightning Crack?” Sam asked. I nodded.

“Do you need my help?” Technolutionary offered.

I laughed it off but brought Sam along in my Flyer that my won personal maintenance bots checked and rechecked for sabotage first. Assistant robots and more recon bugs stayed behind to make sure Technolutionary didn’t get up to no good and start making trouble in the neighborhood.

Lightning Crack was a small town I visited not far from Radium. Through sheer happenstance, the night myself, my family, and the weredeer I turn into went bowling there was when some local villains decided to rob the bowling alley. One of them blasted things apart and was wearing a suit with the same coloring and properties as these pearls. I didn’t know what it was then, but now I do. And more importantly, it looks like someone figured out a way to do something with the pearls that gave him some access to their power.

We brought the Flyer high over the Lightning Crack Sheriff’s Department building. Dead pine needle brown, it had one story aboveground and maybe a basement. I’d find that out once I went in.

“You’re not going to turn this into a big massacre, are you?” Sam asked.

I shook my head. “Figured I’d cause some panic and mayhem, but not particularly try to kill anyone.”

“hat’s more you wanting fun. What about your new leaf? Come on, I’ll help you fake credentials.” She led me over to one of the storage lockers and pulled out some bags of clothes and wigs that I had not stashed there.

“Just make yourself at home,” I quipped.

“Thanks, I will.” She blew me a kiss. With the help of a wig, suit, and briefcase, she went from Sam Hain, amusingly-named minion and girlfriend, to Samantha Hainsworth, single female lawyer.

It wasn’t hard to whip up some official-looking law firm letter and use my armor to appear as her partner in law. We walked in there, Sam taking the lead and slamming the letter down. “This is ridiculous! I’ve been trying to see the evidence against my client for weeks!”

“Ma’am, calm down” the night desk officer said. “Who are you and who are you here to see?”

“Not who, what,” I said.

“What are you?” the officer asked this time.

“I’m pissed is what I am,” I said, exaggerating my accent to sound even more Southern. “It’s all there in black and white from the judge. If you don’t show us that evidence, the prosecutor’s case is getting thrown out onto its hind end!”

“Wait a moment, let me call the Sheriff,” the deputy said.

“You do that, and while he’s on the phone, we’ll walk right on out, call up the judge, and get this whole case thrown out,” Sam said. The officer looked at us, then at the phone, then sighed. “Fine, I’ll let you in.”

He led us into the back, near the evidence lock-up. “What, exactly, are you here for?” he had the letter with him, which didn’t specify anything.

“A red suit, from the incident at the bowling alley,” I responded.

“That thing, yeah. I heard… nevermind. We still have it.” He stopped off at the door to the evidence room. “Stay here, alright?”

I nodded and he left Sam and I there while he went in. Sam stole a kiss from my helmet real quick. And I whined. “I can do this stuff on my own, you know.”

“Yeah, but this way I got to go with you.” She winked at me. She separated from me before long, making sure the officer wouldn’t catch us canoodling. Not that it would affect things, but we want him paying as little attention as possible. In retrospect, both of us being pretty worked against that.

He re-emerged after a couple of minutes with a box. “This is that costume the fellow was wearing. Weird red suit. It’s in a protective, lead-lined cover we got from Department of Homeland Security, in case it might be radioactive. Anything else I can do for y’all?”

I took the box from him. “That’ll be it.” Sam smiled, shaking his hand. “Thank you, officer.”

“Oh, just sign for me please,” he said, grabbing a clipboard off a plastic shelf on the wall. Sam went ahead and put her Jane Hancock down.

Once we got out of there, I called the Flyer closer. “And that, my dear, is what we call Social Engineering. Because the most vulnerable aspect of any system is usually the people.”

“All you do is talk about work. You’re probably going to put your hot minion to work instead of having any fun once we get up into the air.” She pretended to pout, pulling off her wig.

“Darn right,” I told her. I grabbed her around the waist and hefted her over my shoulder, carrying the evidence box under my arm with the other. “I’m not going to let you rest until we explore what’s in this box together.”

“Promise?” she asked. Then she let out a nice, “Ooh hoo!” when I patted her ass. She screamed pretty good when I jumped up into the Flyer, too. My favorite screams of the night came after that.

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Great Power 2

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I’ve got my base, hidden under my shop. Technolutionary has his own, hidden somewhere else. We agreed to compromise on a shared space, which we’re working on. He wants something flying. Too many bells and whistles, too many moving parts for me. But not the worst idea. And it helped me come up with an interesting idea myself that I’m going to work on. Why not modify the dimensional bomb technology to hold a breach open? Maybe meld multiple places together. Not the sort of thing you really need if you’re a small business owning retired villain mom.

My girlfriend’s not happy. I told Sam what I was doing, trying to be more open to a romantic partner. She told me straight up, “This is probably a bad idea. That guy’s creepy and he never has good intentions.”

So for now, I’ve got a body up in a flying lab of Technolutionary’s powered by a stolen alien generator. Seeing as I keep spares, of some of my tech, I’ve got a nanite pool, armor auto repair, and the auto-foundry. I’ve also got some computers back in my own personal base running on traps and other ways to apply various stolen sciences to keep what we take safe from Technolutionary and others.

But first, we had to get it. Technolutionary has a few locations mapped out. Some people who get these Omega Pearls aren’t shy about letting folks know they have them. But first, we have a time sensitive matter in the hell dimensions.

As I understand it, there isn’t a literal Biblical Hell. There are a lot of places people think up where they go when they die to be tortured, usually meant to be the worst places imaginable and inhabited by demonic beings that plague humanity. And the various beings lumped together under the label “demon” seem real enough, but being real doesn’t mean every story about them is real. I’ve read about a French cavalry officer who was so strong, others at the military academy claimed he could do a pull up and bring his horse with him. Doesn’t make him fake, but also doesn’t mean he could really do that pull-up. For one thing, he’d couldn’t skip leg day.

Anyway, I figure the hell dimensions might be one inhuman planet with a variety of biomes that gave humans different ideas of Hell. Otherwise, they might just be a bunch of different dimensions each matching a different Hell. No matter the interpretation, I had a bug telling me the box containing an Omega Pearl was somewhere. I armored up and activated the armor’s chameleon protocols, then made a dimensional breach to land about 200 feet away.

It was daytime, lit by an orange star. The ground was rocky, with veins of rust running through it. Near me lapped water, clear but brown. I took a good look around, noticing both a the large, dark blue egg of a structure, and a crowd where the bug’s signal came from. The crowd stared my way. They were humans, two of them being Captain Lightning and his apprentice, Captain Lightning II. Those two were looking at me despite my armor projecting a holographic cloak of invisibility over me. Miss Tycism stood nearby, wearing purple robes and hood. She looked my way, but not at me. The others, I couldn’t make out who they were.

Well, I think I was busted. Not nearly as busted as the bodies on the ground near the bunch. I dropped the cloak and took a long leap to land near them. “Hey there Captain, Captain,” I said, offering a hand out for Captain Lightning to shake. Despite the magic giving him a buff body, he looked like age was catching up to him. He showed a lot more wrinkles and grey hair than I remembered. Then again, the guy was old enough to have fought the Nazis in World War II. I think he’s tired.

He smiled a thin smile and clasped my forearm in that sort of shake. “Gecko.”

Lightning II didn’t offer one of his own. He and Miss Tycism both glared at me. The others in the bunch looked well out of their depth. There was a fellow in a trench coat, another done up like a stage magician, and a woman in a gothic Lolita-style dress and a half-dozen belts wrapped around her waist. The magician carried the case I’d been tracking, the one the Omega Pearl had been sent off inside.

“What are you doing here?” Miss Tycism asked.

I shrugged. “Was going to steal back that Omega Pearl from these folks.” I nodded toward the case that the magician was carrying. “I guess y’all got it first?” The magician opened the case to show it was empty.

Captain Lightning let go of my arm. “We’re all late to intercept it.”

The man in the trenchcoat held up his hand where he held a coin. He flipped it and opened his palm to catch it. It bounced once, then started spinning on its edge. It was slower at first, then sped up when he pointed it to the big dark egg-thing. It slowed as he moved it past the structure, then sped up again when he brought it back.

“So it’s in that big-ass thing?” I looked to the rest of the bunch. “Room for one- look out!”

I pointed up toward the egg thing and the large ball of fire coming at us from it.

The Apprentice Lightning and Miss Tycism acted before the rest of them. Miss Tycism raised a wall of ice that curved overhead, throwing off a little mist from its sudden appearance in a land that my suit said was at what y’all would call 93 Fahrenheit. The second Lightning added his own barrier to it, a half-sphere that crackled with electricity. The fireball hit the ice wall and flash boiled it, throwing steam into the air with a piercing hiss that my ears filtered out. The twin shields held. I even got to see one of the bodies left outside the shield, a pale, horned thing with out of proportion limbs and odd numbers of clawed digits, burn to a crisp. Curious, I glimpsed at some of them around inside the shield and sent my nanites down to do an examination.

“I had it,” Miss Tycism said.

“Extra doesn’t hurt,” Lightning II said.

Captain Lightning floated up off the ground six inches. “Speaking of which, I suppose it couldn’t hurt to have someone along who can help distract them. Gecko?”

“Mind if I bring some of these along for study?” I asked. I raised a hand and a couple of the dead humanoids stood up. Looked like one was masculine and the other feminine, with mouths full of fangs and long, thin tongues.

“If you want to, I suppose. They’re dead, right?” he asked.

“Ew,” noted the woman with the belts.

“Their bodies have ceased life function. The nanites have restored enough to keep bioelectricity flowing and are piloting the bodies for me,” I explained via the one that might have been a female.

“That’s fucking creepy,” Apprentice Lightning said.

“Language,” Captain Lightning admonished. “Fine, bring them. Those are little more than half-feral guard dogs anyways.”

I threw down a holodisc. Yes, I have some of these again. Little portable hologram generators with a link to my armor. I’ve spent years of disposing of stuff almost as soon as I build it up, and I now have more of these. I plan on my vault for the Omega Pearl being a mindfuck, and that prompted me to order up my machines to produce a bunch of these. My armor cloaked us as Captain Lightning raised a clear, circular plane for us to stand on and zipped toward the Egg. The holodisc stayed behind and projected our group continuing out discussion. We were well clear when the next fireball was launched from the fortress ahead of us. Our doubles looked up, made whatever gestures I thought looked magical enough, and then disappeared while running in different directions.

Captain Lightning’s flying disc got us there in a hurry, before they could get a good lock on us again. And up close, the egg wasn’t as big as it looked from afar. I think it loomed because the landscape was so flat, mostly that rusty ground with little pools of water around. “What’s this hell called?” I asked.

“The Blasted Place,” Captain Lightning answered. “The races of demons like to test weapons here. It is the perfect spot to lay a trap, and the place to assemble a dangerous new weapon.” That would also explain the floating islands of jagged rock at various levels in the sky.

“No offense to your companions,” the Magician said.

“They’re dead puppet bodies,” the Belted Woman told him. “I think that one’s bleeding again. I don’t know how it’s standing.”

“I don’t know much about demon bodies, or whatever gets called a demon. Hoping to learn more about these by bringing them along. Believe it or not, I don’t do much business with the Hell Dimensions.”

“Neither do I, this is crazy. Now we’ve got a supervillain along?” the Magician freaked out a bit.

“Hey, here, look at me,” Trenchcoat said. These are just nicknames since I’m clueless who these people actually are, I hope y’all know. Magician turned to Trenchcoat, who put a hand on the side of the Magician’s face tenderly and stared into his eyes. “You’re going to be calm now, do you know why?”

“Why?” the Magician asked, voice shaky. Trenchcoat got a little reared back before slapping the Magician’s face with the open palm not holding a spinning coin in it.

“Or else I’ll have to slap you again,” said Trenchcoat. I like Trenchcoat.

“We need a way in,” Captain Lightning said. “Three, two…”

Miss Tycism held her hand up. Apprentice Lightning started chanting. The gothic lolita woman with all the belts pulled a couple of small glass vials out from her belts.

“One,” Captain Lightning finished. Miss Tycism unleashed a blue beam that she held on the side of the egg, slowly unfolding the material like it had been cut and was being tugged apart layer by layer. The Second Lightning shot electricity that I don’t think did anything before switching to gouts of intense flame that might have sped up the process of cracking this egg. The woman with the belt threw her bottles that exploded violently and unleashed a dark haze. Trenchcoat waved his hand and a wind pushed the smoke away, then pulled out a small wooden wand from his coat. It unleashed a spray of black bolts that flew into the widened gap until.

With their forces combined, the egg cracked. I am Captain Trans! What seems to be the problem, Transeteers?

But seriously, I and my humanoid demon puppets jumped the gap and landed in a nice little forge. Nearby was a what looked like a horned human without the twisted features, his skin a mess of scars. He turned to me and raised a forge hammer overhead. I impaled him with an arm and held his body up, letting my nanomachines crawl in. “Interesting.”

Behind us, the “feral dog” demons clawed and bit at another. I’m not the best at controlling three different bodies at once, but I was able to tear another of these demons apart. Then they were blasted into pieces by another one who held the Omega Pearl in tongs. The tool he used on them appeared to be an ornate hammer, the flat edge perpetually engulfed in flames. I threw the body I’d picked up at him; it held him down while he caught it alight. While he did that, I walked over and looked for the tongs. It was now holding a rubber ball with a star on it.

“Presto!” I heard over at the opening. The Magician held the Omega Pearl in his white-gloved hands, then palmed it.

“I’d really like to have that,” I said.

“I’m sorry,” Captain Lightning apologized. “I’ll make sure you get out.”

A blue, shimmery portal appeared overhead and swooped down, encompassing the whole bunch before disappearing, and taking that Omega Pearl with it. Behind me, the forgemaster tossed his burning underling aside and stood up.

I disappeared. I could take him easily, but what’s the point now? Instead, I decided to head around, see if I could find a good place to cause some last minute destruction with my exit. I found out we were merely in the outer layer of the egg.

Deeper inside was the core. There floated an oblate sphereoid made of pewter or a metal very much like it, carved to a scale model of Earth. Around that floated dozens of these Omega Pearls, all held in a weave of flames that traced through the air between each one. There were many gaps; this grid was nowhere near complete. Even this one wouldn’t have done it. But the Hell Dimensions are planning something.

I programmed the second dimension bomb I was going to use to escape to have a wider area of effect on this end. It would bring more along with me, in case I wanted more of these lovely samples. I found a spot where two of these were close enough to let me nab them and wreck part of that model of Earth they wanted to do something with. Perhaps I could take some samples before that?

I looked around. There was some sort of being in a white robe speaking into an orb on a desk nearby. I couldn’t understand the language, but my translator program was working on it. I stepped closer, unseen, to get a better look. She was yellow-skinned, a couple of holes on the side of her head where ears would be. A half dozen thick, fleshy tendrils sprouted from her back, measuring maybe a foot each. In place of hair were much finer tendrils. She had five fingers, with nails that curved over the fingertips. I let my nanites swarm over her. She screamed while they found their way into her. I’d have knocked her out first, but I didn’t know just how close she was anatomically to human. Surprisingly close for the exterior details, it turned out. Everything was a little off inside, too, further so than that one I scanned in the forge.

Unlike that one, I left this one alive and withdrew my nanites once someone burst through the door. These were larger, more muscular, and biceps bulging with scales next to bulging breastplates.

They couldn’t see a thing, of course, and I decided to get out of there before they would. I checked the Earth model, finding it had rotated slightly in those minutes, and got myself lined up. Then bam!

I reappeared in the floating lab with a chunk of pewter depicting part of South America, and a couple of Omega Pearls.

They tried to reorient themselves, but whatever magic was at play went wonky. The two Pearls went flying off, smashing into things. Technolutionary, thinking quick, raised a gauntlet on his suit and emitting a pulse that stopped one in midair. The other crashed into a bunch of stuff before getting stopped by a wall. The thing was bending it like Jason Voorhees pushing a college girl’s face through the side of an RV.

As I got closer to grab it, I felt weird again. That intense heat. And ideas resurfaced. Going back and abducting exotic demons. Dissolving the other dimensions until there were none left. Making most of the world forget my existence. It bothered me. Yeah, I have the thoughts, but I still know when I’m doing something wrong. I’ve always known.

I opted to grab some breach sealant nearby. Technolutionary had sprayers all over the place in case we accidentally put a hole in the outside of the lab. I sprayed the Pearl down in a yellow goo that quickly solidified.

“Our first success!” Technolutionary exclaimed while we each set ours into the safe meant to be temporary housing.

“Yes, but also no,” I told him.

Despite that, my conscience’s problems with some of the ideas I was having, it felt good to be back. To taste mad creativity again. Only this time, I’m helping the world along with helping myself. Just not helping myself to everything I can think of.

Sam let me have it, too. When she heard what all happened, she decided she’s going to be a part of this and she wants to hide the Pearls. It’s not a bad idea, with what I’m feeling about them.

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Great Power 1

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There we were, in the high school gym, just my ex, myself, and various improvised weapons. They had to use the gym to store some textbooks, chairs, and broken desks that were already wearing out or out of date. What had started as Medusa asking me to attack her while she ran an obstacle course turned into me breaking a small school desk on her back and her stabbing me through the gut with the metal leg. Worse, it simultaneously knocked the wind out of me and gave me a new hole to breathe through.

She paused long enough for me to rip the leg out, but kept going, jumping a final set of hurdles to reach the finish line before circling back around to me and asking, “You ok?”

I nodded. The nanomachines were already dissolving the metal in my hand and using it to temporarily patch up the hole in my belly. “You got stronger.”

Medusa, sweaty, nodded. She still looked sexy wet, even if I knew the smell wouldn’t be the best. And even if it was a little more mature of a look than when I first met her. Not like she’s super old, but I don’t have that hero worship I used to have where I got creepy obsessed with her. “We have our own upgrades.”

I stood up, all good to go except for a hole in my workout shirt. “I was worried I’d gotten too far ahead of you for you to catch up. Guess that isn’t true.”

“Neither of us are in armor,” she said, trying to soothe my ego.

I chuckled. “Yeah. Plus I have the extra bodies. And the extra powers.”

“Come on. We gotta get this place picked up,” she said. Our meeting there was an after-school thing. Just a personal favor for her, since she wants to keep herself sharp. “Unless you need to run off for anything?”

I shook my head. “Nah, dinner’s in the oven for awhile still.”

I could tell she wanted to say something. Just something about her body language was off. Luckily, we were saved by a threat to the world. Her highly-modified phone beeped with a shrill tone. “That’s my world threat alarm,” Medusa said. She pointed at the phone and it went to speakerphone. “Shoot!”

“Uh, yeah, there’s a message here from the President. He wanted to bring us in on a situation where he says an alien attorney showed up claiming to have a signed contract from someone on Earth to buy all of Earth’s oceans and transport them off-world.”

I shrugged. “Looks like you’ve got to go find an ace attorney or something.”

“Yeah. You want to be part of it or…?”

I shook my head. “I’m a lot better at TV law than intergalactic law. If I turn out to have any files on anything, I’ll send them over. And you can call on me if you need my particular set of skills.” I actually did have some documents still saved from one of the times I’d been abducted by aliens. And I imagine the cattle rustlers are going to be annoyed at losing their source of prime beef if these others succeed. I threw in what little I had on the alien peacekeepers and a few contact numbers that might play a part and dropped that off in an Exemplar digital document stash.

I ended up rushing through the cleanup once my ex had to go. Then it was back home, to the girlfriend and kid and the white picket fence. And the augmented reality ghost standing there near my front gate wearing the Technolutionary’s armor. “Hello Gecko.”

“Technolutionary,” I said. “You found this place?”

His armor was still pretty tight against his body, with a metal face over his own. Owing to the digital nature of our exchange, the helmet’s lips moved when he spoke. Or he’s really cyberizing himself. “They don’t hide it as well as you think. I don’t intend to retire, but I thought I would keep tabs on you.” He raised his hands. “Don’t worry. Your family’s safe. I can’t think of any situation where a threat against them actually aids me in the long term.” He finished that sentence quickly. “I don’t know if you noticed, but there’s another situation going on.”

“Aliens want to steal the oceans,” I said.

The Technolutionary nodded. He seemed to have mellowed out a bit since the last times I interacted with him. He’d always been a creepy fanboy of mine, obsessed with using my anatomy to help humanity progress into a new era of technological supremacy. “If it’s not that, it’s ecoterrorists, crossdimensional invaders, time travel; the bullshit never stops. We need to do better.”

“This is another scheme of yours,” I said.

“Yes, I admit it. I have a plan instead of waiting around for the next big threat to try and wipe us all out. My dream of humanity’s advancement ends if that happens. I’ve studied you. It was your dream, too, in your own unique way. “

See? Creepy stalker. Maybe a bit too ideological and incapable of recognizing my hypocrisy and selfishness.

“You can’t fix people,” I told him. “Not without a good knife and a sewing kit. But as silly, and ignorant, and frustrating as humanity is, you have to work with the fact that they’re individuals. And I guess with the fact that you can’t prevent the next big threat ahead of time.”

“What if you could?” Technolutionary asked.

I took a breath to help bite back my knee-jerk assumption. “This better not be about time travel, because the rules are just straight-up incoherent at this point.”

“No, oh no, god no,” Technolutionary insisted. “It’s not artificial intelligence either. I thought about it, but a computer capable of predicting the future with any true success is smart enough to try and take over itself.”

I didn’t point out that an AI trying to take over was way more likely if its entire way of thinking came from someone who himself wanted to rule the world. He may hide it behind all his talk of improving thing, but Technolutionary’s got that itch. I’ve seen the signs.

The digital ghost held up an grape-sized orb. “It’s this.”

I shrugged.

“It’s one of those Omega Pearls. They’re pieces of Mr. Omega’s power, the power you once wielded, orphaned after he’s been banished again. People are realizing they’re out there. Before long, they’re going to figure out how to tap these powers.”

I thought back to the last time I turned into a were-reindeer. We went bowling and a guy showed up with a red suit that, now I think about it, reminds me a bit of the coloring that was such a big part of Mr. Omega. The being really loved red.

“That actually could be the next big thing, yes,” I admitted. “So you want to gather them all up, for safekeeping and allowing you to tap into that power.”

“Wha-? Really? Like I would do tha- yes, you got me. I was going to appeal to you by suggesting we gather them all and hide them, but you got me. The potential is enormous. But if it gets you to work with me again, I’m willing to let you do the hiding. We could stop someone worse, someone who wants to destroy everything, from getting them. And maybe, just maybe, we can use them to stop other threats. We work so good together. Remember what we did with the Homo Machina? This could be the next leap forward, a way to make everyone back off and leave Earth alone.”

Between his know-how and mine, we figured out a procedure to transform a human into a homo machina, my type of human. We’re the latest evolution in humanity on my Earth of origin, and greatly resented because of our abilities that allow us to physically connect to technology like computers and control them as extensions of our own bodies. But aside from that, he had a point. It makes sense that people would try and grab that power and tap into it. That alone sounds like the beginning of a crisis. And being able to use it… well, I don’t know if we can safely do that. Mr. Omega was partially in control, and the worst instincts it brought out of me was mindless destruction.

“Tell you what,” I told him. “You’ve tempted me. Let me think it over a few days.”

The next couple of days saw some super scrambling to handle the alien ocean crisis. Since I wasn’t a direct part of it, I only know so much of what went on. There are rumors that a glowing sphere was seen having something to do with it. And then they brought me in.

“How would you feel about working security?” Medusa offered. “Takes an assassin to stop an assassin kind of thing?”

That gave me a front row seat… well, more like a back alley seat… to the signing of a contract. Nothing major. They ended up setting down on the same island where I worked things out with the alien robots. Maybe it’s becoming a thing, but the tourist industry’s going to really pick up there over an island that’s been home to two intergalactic agreements.

I slunk around the trees, moving all over the place, tapping into NATO drones and directing a few of my own around to help me keep an eye on everything. I still took the time to record it as some demonic entity in a couture suit sat down and scribbled out a contract that left the alien’s encounter suit leaking a thin saline solution. All pretty standard stuff, and I didn’t get the go ahead until the shuttle craft was out of the atmosphere. I swung by where Medusa stood in her dress costume. “All clear?”

“Mostly,” she said. “Earth’s oceans are saved, except for all the pollution and dying species. Now, we just have to pay off the infernal forces of the hell dimensions. They asked for a really big retainer this time.” She nodded toward the demonic lawyer.

“I presume a really large crate of Dr. Scholl’s won’t do the trick?” I offered.

Medusa grinned. “No souls or soles this time, not exactly. This is supposed to be something pretty valuable.”

“Yeah it is, it’s got an effect,” I said, eyes drawn to the armored box brought out. It looked like a really secure pistol case, but the demon insisted on it being opened, showing a red orb the size of a baseball. It felt warm out of nowhere, but maybe that was the hell dimension thing. “What is it?”

“I think it’s an Omega Pearl,” she whispered back.

“Just giving that thing away to demons now?” I asked.

“It wasn’t my decision. Besides, if they try to use it, we’ll stop them. We always stop them,” she turned to wink at me, but her smile lacked sincerity. It’d be hypocrisy to not understand that, given I’m a whole ‘nother deal with the devil she made. So I’ll understand. But I sure as shit won’t trust where this is going. That’s why I tapped into the tracking beacon the UN left on the case. It’ll be found in no time, but at least it’ll give me a headstart.

I waited until I got back home and swept myself for bugs before posting to VillaiNet.

“Technolutionary. Agreed.”

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Lightning Strikes

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It’s been a little bit since my brother Davilo stopped by for a visit. The Justice Rangers of my home dimension can get busy. But he decided to stop in, timing his visit for right around the time things typically wrap up for me, which is also just before the full moon.

“Never want to visit me when it’s just me, eh?” I asked as we pulled back from our hugs. Yeah, he’s Justice Ranger, but he’s also the only surviving family I know of from back there. And he is Qiang’s uncle. I have to go by things I see and hear, mostly from entertainment, on how these familial relationships work. We’re figuring it out.

“This way, I get to see both my sisters. You’re twins of a kind,” Davilo said.

I rolled my eyes. Leah came up and gave me a hug, too. My former ward and protege is dating my half-brother. I’m sure that Freud guy would have some stuff to say about all that, but he’s busy being dead.

Qiang, meanwhile, was hopping up into an embrace with Davilo. “Little lizard!” he called her while hefting her up. “You’re getting so big!”

My daughter giggled. Leah looked over at them. I whispered to her, “Qiang’s got more than flesh and bone to her, too. It affects her weight a little.”

“Looks like your weight is affected, too,” Leah joked and poked me in the belly. I made a Pillsbury Doughboy sound and gently pushed her away.

“Careful, that’s my battle fat, for when I lose my arms and legs, and have to smack someone around with my gut,” I grabbed it and gave it a little wiggle. “Plus, they’ll never suspect I’m a superhuman because, supers are never gorgeous women who are down with a thiccness.”

“Hey-,” Leah started to say. She narrowed her eyes, pretending to take offense. “Thank you for the compliment.”

Sam came up behind me and wrapped her arms around me. I felt stress melt away that wasn’t even there. Maybe it was the smell of pineapple from her body lotion. “Hey, Leah, Davilo.”

“Do I know you?” my brother asked, looking at the girl with the mohawk from purple in the front, green in the middle, and dark red in the back.

She offered a hand. “I’m Sam. I’m Gecko’s girlfriend and minion right now.”

“You have a minion?” Leah asked.

I shrugged. Sam kissed the back of my hair, then answered. “I’ve offered, but she prefers to work on her own. Starting next week, I’m going to hog-tie one of her clone bodies and take over at the store. Isn’t that right?”

She had to scratch my head right there. I melted. “That’s a yes,” she said. “She doesn’t like to admit defeat. Or when she’s in love.”

“I’m not-” Sam put her finger over my lips.

“If I don’t talk about myself, she’ll try not to mention me,” Sam kept going.

So we had a pretty nice night catching up. Nothing wild happening in Radium, apart from the beginnings of special mayoral election ramping up along with talk of integrating the super and non-super schools.

“It’s so quiet,” Davilo mentioned at one point. “The cities feel different and aren’t as loud, you know? But out here especially, how do you keep up with everything?”

“I knooooow,” Sam said, leaning on me. I kissed her head where she had a little bit of fuzz growing back after her latest mohawk look.

“Quiet isn’t bad. Keeps me out of trouble, helps me curate stuff. Not so good for when Reindeer has to come out or I need to actually go to an important place. I think that’s part of why Medusa picked it. World-changing plots don’t generally happen in the middle of nowhere like this. Or if they do, a band of plucky young adults or angsty teenagers save the day before it draws in anyone too capable.”

“Gecko watches lots of TV,” Leah warned Davilo.

“It’s how I became an expert on this Earth,” I nodded, deadpan.

“Anything exciting planned for tonight?” Davilo asked.

I shrugged. “Everything’s ready if we have to do some throwing down. I guess it just depends on what Reindeer wants.” My internal alarm went off letting me know we were close to the change. “And I better go on down to the basement.”

This time, I swapped into a spare body, one that looked a lot like the semi-chubby look I’d gone for, but I threw on some fake glasses, a pink top, and some dark blue jeans. I focused on that until the screaming stopped, then turned around and held up a dress and a costume. “Work or play, which is the Reindeer doing today?”

The tall Reindeer woman snorted and picked the dress. She comes out every full moon after I ended up with a case of reindeer-thrope, or whatever you want to call it. I’m a were-Reindeer, only my alter ego is driven to stop crime. We share a body, so I keep her safe when she does all that. “I don’t lots of time to relax. Come on, let’s go bowling.”

“Bowling?!” I asked.

“Bowling?!” asked the crowd once we got upstairs and Reindeer told them the plan.

“Is that a form of ritualized combat?” My brother asked.

“Not really. It’s a game where the humans throw a heavy balls around,” I said.

“Pretend combat,” Davilo nodded. “Where do we find bowling?”

“I don’t think there’s even a bowling alley around Radium,” I mentioned. “Maybe someone ought to put one in.”

We ended up running across one at a nearby small city that I had never heard of. To be fair, I haven’t heard of most of Minnesota. I hear they do weird things to fish here. Lighting Crack, Minnesota seems like one of those towns, but it was the closest bowling alley to Radium.

“Welcome to Lightning Lanes,” said one of the workers who greeted our part as we walked in. He gaped at Reindeer, who wore a dress, then looked down at her hooves. “You may not be able to bowl, ma’am.”

“Relax, I brought my own,” she said, holding up these rubber booties I’d thrown together real quick at Reindeer’s request. She’d anticipated the problem. The rest of us had no problem renting shoes, though we had to explain the concept to Davilo.

“My Earth does not have your primitive bowling!” Davilo declared playfully.

“Did you have to do that?” Leah asked, swatting him gently on the arm.

“I wanted to take some of the attention away from the rest of the group,” Davilo declared. He wasn’t wrong. I think my cybernetic eyes were some of the least outlandish things to those folks. We grabbed our shoes, lane, and snacks, and set about having a fun time, interrupted at one point by a few kids wanting to say hi to Reindeer. Davilo, Reindeer, and I all got showed up by Sam, Leah, and even Qiang getting some strikes. These lightning bolts would light up above the lane, with an animation of a lightning strike on our monitor each time. Then I’d drag myself out of Sam’s comfy lap and her sweet humming to go make three of those ten pins sorry they ever met me.

I sometimes wonder if my life was curse, but this particular night, with Sam doing her absolute best to embarrass me in public, had a bright point. Because that night was when Lightning Crack’s local criminal element made a hilarious mistake.

In walked a man with a green metal helmet, holding a pair of hammers in his hands. I’d say he was in his twenties, as was the guy in the red suit who walked in alongside him in a red suit that pulsed. I could feel the power in the suit somehow, like a wave of heat getting closer, but not actually affecting the temperature of anything. The others who stormed in along with them looked to be a bunch of regular folks with store-bought Halloween masks over their faces, carrying things like chains, bats, and claw hammers.

“Give us your money!” shouted the hammer guy.

The guy in the suit waved his hand toward a laser light ball hanging from the ceiling. Crimson crevices spread across the device an instant before it blew apart. The shards ended up hurting some people in there.

A bunch of people screamed and hit the floor, or started emptying pockets. Our group didn’t. Reindeer cracked her knuckles. Davilo got his transforming device ready. Leah took a fighting stance I taught her. Sam aimed a plasma crossbow at the nearest chain-carrying mook. And behind me, the ball I’d loosed just before they walked in hit the pins and knocked some of them over.

“Who are you?” asked the red-suited guy. I grabbed a bowling ball and hurled it at his head. He exploded it just before it hit him, but one of the shards grazed his head and drew blood. The guy with the hammers screamed and ran at us. I think I saw his eyes go white just before he tripped over a raised platform.

“That’s what happens when you change the color of the eye’s lens,” Leah said. I am so glad I taught her creative uses for the super power of changing things’ colors.

Davilo morphed, with Reindeer and him meeting the charging minions to get to the guy in red who was using whatever powers that suit conveyed to close the wound on his head. Sam stuck by me while I knelt next to the ball return, pulling open an access panel and doing some creative rewiring. She raised the plasma crossbow and blasted a baseball bat into burning wood splinters.

The berserker guy with the hammers rose and swung wildly around. By then, Leah had closed. She kicked him in the shin, the balls, and stomach. When he doubled over, she pulled the green helmet off his head and watched him get pulled to the floors by his hammers. Leah figured out there was thunderbolt iron at play, that weird alloy from a destroyed meteor that has telepathic and telekinetic properties. When the hammer guy tried one last time to let go of the hammers and do something, Leah grabbed a pair of bowling shoes nearby and smacked him upside his bearded face.

The guy’s minions weren’t doing well, but most of them were at least doing a good job getting in the way of Davilo and Reindeer for long enough. Red turned, the wound on his face now a raw scar, and raised his hands. Davilo and Reindeer were lifted into the air, then screamed when the villain began to squeeze his hands into fists.

My ball made its way up the ball return with me kicking the mouth of the return over to the side. The supercharged machine emitted a burst of sparks and caught fire. The ball shot out of there with the speed of a professional baseball pitching machine. Redsuit guy had time to widen his eyes and try to bring his hands together. It knocked Davilo and Reindeer into each other, but the ball had already passed by them and gave the guy in the red suit a splitting headache. A seven-ten split, I’d say.

“I guess you’d call that a hole-in-one,” I said.

“My girlfriend, the Earth expert,” Sam said. “Hey, who’s a lady gotta kill to get some cheese sticks around here?”

But seriously, the whole family event was kind of ruined with that. We didn’t get our cheese sticks. They didn’t let me strip that guy’s suit off so I could figure out what was going on there. “It’d sure be a lot easier to loot the corpses if y’all listened to me and we came in the Flyer,” I said, pouting, while the cops held us off to the side for some questioning.

“Who won, anyway?” Sam asked.

“I did,” I whispered to her. “Gave myself a score of 69. A perfect bowling score.”

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