It was all wrapped up. Myself and my wife who couldn’t be evil if she tried made it back to our cruise. The captain yelled at us awhile, but we tuned it out. We were still merged symbiotically, which was fun. It was more fun when we got back to our cabin. I mean, sure, there’s sex and all that. That’s fun. Makes me cum and everything. Great for a workout. Decent for reproduction, but that’s not why we did it.
I’d have been fine just being with her. Isabella. The woman trained to beat up supers and given the name Venus by people who know sex sells. There was something intimate about the way we’d bonded. I don’t mean having an adventure together. We’d had those in our own twisted way. This was just a lot more intimate bonding. I don’t think anyone’s truly been in my head before, outside of Psychsaur, the telepath. Always thought it was weird she did a 180 on me immediately after getting up inside my head, but I had something in me that got her on my side. And I experienced that with Venus while she got to try that with me.
It wasn’t a matter of feeling normal, or feeling completely right.
Anyway, we kept up the merger for the rest of our trip was solved pretty quickly after the wormhole spat us right back out onto the correct route where it got us. It then disappeared like some sort of miracle or act of Gecko. The ship decided that its first stop after returning was going to be an extended one to better evaluate and repair the ship and mental damage associated with the ordeal. That mostly meant lots of relief for the crew, who had to deal with angry, hungry, anxious guests. One of the blob crewmembers was nearly eaten. It wasn’t because the guests started to turn to cannibalism; it fell asleep in a bowl and was mistaken for gelatin.
The Captain and several of his best blobs were ready when Isabella and I were ready to depart, still sharing one body. He oozed forward to meet us. “Would it matter if I said I wanted to hold you until I find out what games you played with my ship?”
“Not one bit,” we said. Nearby, some of the passengers ran out into the street of the city in a group aimed at the closest bar. The screams started soon after they entered, along with the fighting and the Jimmy Buffetf music. He was probably pissed that aliens stole copies of his recordings and… wait, I checked on it with my omniscience. He was nabbed accidentally by some passing aliens in 2001 and signed a music deal that included opening a restaurant chain. Dude’s loaded with alien currency.
“At least tell me who you are. Cleopatra and Mona Lisa can’t be your real names. They two of the most common aliases in the universe.”
“That can’t be true,” Isabella laughed internally.
I did a quick scan with my omniscience and found a weird coincident. “So it turns out that a lot of species have common names that sound similar to some Earth names, including…”
“No,” Isabella said out loud, laughing.
“You treated our lives like a game!” the Captain accused. “I’ve met many beings who feel entitled to harm my crew because of money and power, but space is deep and it doesn’t care who you think you are. You best kill me first if you play games with our lives ever again, because I would move stars to see the universe rid of you.”
“Don’t you know?” we said. Our eyes went pure black. “We eat stars.”
I don’t know where he kept them, but the Captain had balls to keep staring us down as we left. Isabella felt bad, but I reminded her, “See? You managed to play the villain a little bit. But don’t worry. There’s a difference between bad and evil. You were just a little bad.”
“I’ll stick to sometimes taking the bad karma option in games,” she told me. “Can we go home now?”
With a snap of my fingers and an unnecessary burst of light, we indeed were home. Well, a brief stopover on a rooftop overlooking Empyreal City on a stormy wintry night. With my powers, the cold didn’t bother our shared body anyway. Lightning streaked through the sky, illuminating a city and the dancing raindrops that pelted it. “To everyone else, it’s a horrible night,” Isabella said.
I took awhile before responding, waiting on a beautiful lightning strike I knew was coming. It’s nature, like a raging river. You can shift the tide over time, but you can’t stand up to it. Not unless you’re something beyond human. “It doesn’t have to be,” I suggested. “But how you’ll use my power goes beyond just one night. I’ve been avoiding spoilers, giving you privacy. Tell me what you want.”
“I want to do it myself,” she told me.
I eased her into the omniscience. My experience controlling multiple bodies helped me compartmentalize things. If it didn’t matter, I didn’t care. And plenty of times, I left it partially or entirely off, which has inconvenienced me before. So I thought it best to ease her into it.
“I can see eternity,” Isabella said.
“Oh, that would be the omniscience about psychedelic mushrooms,” I guided her. That helped take some of the edge off other knowledge she could access. People think omniscience, they assume it means knowing all sorts of good or neutral things, like how to build Dyson Spheres or how gravity actually works. The lab coats are going to kick themselves when they realize the second one. But it also means knowing all the bad. When and how everyone will die. What went through the minds of a planet of sentient beings when a massive asteroid wiped them out. What it felt like to be every victim, and every victimizer.
I wasn’t surprised when Isabella needed awhile to adjust.
“It took me awhile to relearn sleeping after all this hit,” I mentioned to her.
“I know…” she dwelled on the thought for awhile. “…what I want.”
The began to change things, reaching out with her power, racing along a lightning bolt. It became a fractal that struck the Green Zone of Empyreal City, the neighborhoods taken over by the Green gang whose tainted drugs have made them animalistic and allowed plants to retake the urban environment. The growth became less intrusive, more like an unusually gentrified, environmentally-friendly neighborhood.
The worrying part was the changes made to the Greens themselves. The unmutated gang members changed, mentally. They were all going to give up crime. She’d changed their minds. And the bestial ones were different now. Still changed, still willing to protect their territory, but they were getting uniforms and badges.
“Isabella,” I warned.
“Listen, I did so much to give you a chance to be good and to be a heroine. You’re better than you were, right?” She had that edge of conviction and begging in her voice. Right there where belief meets going out on a limb. I needed to talk her back away before something happened.
“Yes, but the journey taught the lesson. It was my choice. You can’t just make people how you want them to.”
“I’m cutting the ‘journey’ out the way you cut out disease and disability,” she responded.
“That’s not the same. It’s not that simple with people’s minds. Different points of views and circumstances aren’t a disease.”
“No, you’ll see.”
I sped up, but she already had. Lightning struck us.
I woke up sick to my stomach and with a bladder that wanted to explode. I rolled over out of what turned out to be a bed and nearly fell. For the first time in awhile, gravity actually meant something to me. And I really had to pee. And throw up. I stumbled to my room’s bathroom to empty both ends. Only then could I really take stock.
I couldn’t fly anymore. No laser claws. I thought I had omniscience, but it turns out I’m a smart-ass know-it-all. Still hot, though. I tried popping my eyes out; had to put THAT back in in a hurry. Why is it when other people mess with my body, they fix my eyes?
Ok, I realized it, too, but I think that’s different because I want to think it. As near as I could tell, I was human. And not just human as a shorthand. Since I didn’t have any other powers, even the ones I copied off people I studied, I tried connecting to the internet through the devices I integrated into myself. When that failed, I hugged the TV. Then I grabbed a phone off the charger in the living room. And I didn’t have an external phone. Plus, what the fuck was up with all this sunlight? Ugh, it was morning and everything.
Ok, so I was human. That’s not a good way to start things off. Seemed to be my own house. I rushed to Qiang’s room and stopped myself before I burst in. She was asleep. Then I realized there might have been someone in the bed with me back in the bedroom. I snuck back over there to spot Holly Wayne and Sam Hain in their nightclothes, Holly drooling on Sam’s hair. Sam gave a rough snore. Beautiful.
Then I remembered that thing with the Greens. I checked the closet, worried there would be a police uniform. My heart caught in my throat when I saw the blue outfit hanging up, but then I realized it had a skimpy skirt and fuzzy handcuffs. Whew, it was just a sexy Halloween costume. It hung next to my Sexy Karen outfit from the night I demanded to see Sam’s manager.
But then I saw the other costume. It looked like Reindeer’s costume, but small enough to fit my frame. I checked my head just in case but didn’t feel any antlers. No, wait, that’s because I only had antlers when I transformed. The costume even had a the ability to shift and grow.
I realized I knew that because I had extra memories. Memories of being Delilah Gecko, a human from this Earth who somehow had the power to turn into a reindeer woman who can fly and shoot light beams from my antlers. I also tend to react to trouble by saying “Oh deer.” Sam and Holly were my girlfriends and sidekicks. We met through my friendship with the superhero Mix N’Max, who was currently dating Sporea, the goddess of renewal. I had been a hero, before retiring to pursue a quiet domestic life with my family.
I stumbled down to the basement hideout, and to the computer that was still connected to the outdated extradimensional blog. It had a link to the hero messenger, HeroNet, where my fiance Medusa asking what I thought about this old cathedral as a wedding destination. But there was also one there from the goddess Venus, my other wife. She asked, “Do you see yet?”
Alien Villainess 4
To get us up to speed, in case anyone’s forgetting, I took Venus off on a honeymoon and stranded a space cruise to give her a shot at playing out a fantasy of hers. Don’t tell her I said this, but she’s shit at it. I bonded to her symbiotically to help her deal with the alien planet and give her a convenient power boost. But her attempt to steal an experiment was disrupted by someone else stealing it first. Some heroes fought her, but then ended up recruiting us to go along and help them steal it back. Also, being bonded to her right now, there’s a lot of plural pronouns and I tend to refer to her by her first name.
And as an example of how our thoughts converge, we were in sight of Dr. Malevolent’s icy fortress when she thought, “We haven’t been that villainous, have we?”
“No, but think of it as laying a foundation,” I answered. “We’ve given them reasons to be suspicious. We had sex with them. Soon, we betray them and they probably try to fight us.”
I could sense the doubt in her. Perhaps I’ll never corrupt my waifu. That’s not a bad thing.
The Flicker and I were racing along, keeping pace, pulling a sleigh carrying Reservoirman, Florxman, and the Amazing Twins. Kinda wish I could take the twins with me when we left. Flicker’s not too bad, either.
We smiled when Isabella shared my thoughts. Humans coming to an alien planet to abduct aliens for some sexual probing.
The thought was interrupted by some omniscience warning me of immediate danger. Mines. They were Dr. Malevolent’s. We fired eye beams that were nothing but colored light and a bit of warmth to uncover that mine in the way. Flicker saw it and went the opposite way as we wanted to go. We went with her and used heat vision to uncover more mines in our path. Dr. Malevolent had plenty, but his minecraft left something to be desired. The minefield had a lot of mines left in straight lines. With me pointing them out, and both of us having superspeed, we navigated it all safely.
Soon, we were right there, across a treacherous pass of ice that also couldn’t hold us back. Neither rain, nor sleet, nor dark of night will stay these boring, uptight do-gooders about their business.
Florxman’s teeth were chattering as he dismounted. “W-watch for bolos,” he warned.
Bolos. This world’s word for robots. These are not automatons. They were very simple mechanical beings, incapable of their own thought.
We floated above the ice, carrying Flicker and Reservoirman. Florxman used his grappling hook to get to the giant metal door, a dozen feet tall. The Amazing Twins took the shape of a cloud and a penguin-like creature to get close to the door.
“I’ll knock,” We said. The thing was some heavy-ass lead, which meant nothing to us. One blow dented it and revealed the bolo hiding in wait on the other side. It tried to push the door open from that side to get to us, but the door jammed from the dent. We used the heat vision again, melting through a portion of the door and igniting the punchcard computer in the bolo’s brain, deactivating it. We pulled the door off and hurled it off back into the minefield.
“We are we even along?” said Thod of the Amazing Twins. That was the guy. Florxman looked at them. He’s still suspicious because, really, why slow myself down and work for them for ultimately no reason? What is my ulterior motive?
I stopped. Not from the question or his suspicion. I held a finger to my ear to emphasize I was hearing something else. “You go on without me.”
“Is something wrong?” Reservoirman asked. Finally, a chance for him to be the strong one. That was the only real role he had left and I’d stolen it from him.
The shuttle we’d taken was contacting me. The captain of the space cruise we’d been on let us have it, the shields modified to deflect the early radar systems of this planet, along with a pilot and co-pilot. They’ve been sitting around bored for this whole trip while we took forever, but a god was their passenger.
“I knew it. She’s crazy,” Reservoirman commented. “I shouldn’t have put my dick in her.
“You too?!” asked everyone else.
Reservoirman singled out Florxman. “You warned me to keep an eye on her. I did. It looks like you did too.”
I waved at them to shut the hell up. The blob aliens in the shuttle were talking. “Listen, the Captain’s really freaked you are taking so long. He just asked us to scan the city for you, and we had to tell him you weren’t in the city. With all due respect, what the hell’s going on out there?”
“We’re not in the city. Someone else stole it first and fled toward the planet’s northern pole.”
“Fine, but our scans also showed you were mating with the locals. We covered for you on that one, but we can’t wait around much longer for you to finish this intergalactic booty call. The Captain said if you don’t step it up, we’ll just take what we want from somewhere else and damn the interference. The buffet ran dry and the retirees are getting restless. The rest of the buffet’s currently stocked, but passengers are talking about eating the crew. They already threatened to shove fruit into one crewmember and eat him out of a bowl.”
“Message received. We’ll speed this up a bit. Be there soon,” We turned to the confused and defensive alien heroes. Or local heroes. We were the aliens. “We’re going to speed this up to get ahead of whatever else is coming this way.”
I blinked out of there before they could express their confusion, appearing in midair in the lab of Dr. Malevolent. The confused mad scientist looked up from a bank of rough, super low-res green monitors. “What are you doing here?”
“I gotta take your nuclear bomb. It’s a thing. For the record, atomic explosions don’t ignite the whole atmosphere, but it does a bunch of nasty shit, so you’re better off not using one near yourself,” we told him.
“You sure we should give him that much?” Isabella asked.
“May not matter if we’re skipping out and letting something happen,” I responded, landing next to the bomb and tearing it free of the devices holding it in place.
Flicker raced up next to us, grabbing our arm. “What are you doing?”
We reached out and caressed her face. “We wish we knew you better, so we could justify taking you with us. This was just supposed to be a game. I guess I don’t play a bad guy very well.” That last bit was Isabella, not me.
“Speak for yourself, love. I can play the bad guy just fine. But I’m sure you’re a nice person, Flicker,” I added. As if I’m suddenly against having a harem with an alien in it. I fucked a deep one.
“Ew,” Isabella said. She looked to Flicker. “Not you, something she said.”
“There are two people in there?” Flicker asked.
“Got it, princess,” I told her.
Flicker let go of me and we both sped up to normal time. “What are you?”
“We are wives. Just married, off on an adventure, one without powers and the other a reality-warping goddess,” we answered.
Dr. Malevolent went for a death ray. We raised our hand and stopped the beam in midair, then dispersed it.
“You really didn’t need us,” Flicker said. Nearby, Dr. Malevolent, an alien wearing a doctor’s gown, was sneaking toward a console and began to ease a bunch of levers down
“As we said, this was about fun,” We tossed the circular shell of Malevolent’s nuclear bomb in the air. Flicker tried to catch it, but we held it away from her. “Relax, it takes more than that to set these things off, especially this style.” We pulled the beryllium off telekinetically. That’s what we were there for. We went ahead and disassembled the rest of the nuclear weapon, transforming the plutonium core into a much less harmful substance, copper. “See? We’re a big softy in the end.”
“I’m glad the goddess is the nice one,” Flicker said. She watched us toss aside everything but the beryllium.
“Ok, ship, come meet us. Transmitting coordinates now,” we informed the shuttle. Then we winked at Flicker. We balled up our fist and… turned to punch a shockwave that blew a large bolo through a wall. Another four rose off the walls. We smiled at Flicker. “How many of these do you think the team can take without me?”
“Uh… two?” She guessed.
We nodded. Why bother pretending we’re native? I opened and then closed a hand. In turn, one of the remaining four bolos fell apart and the other squeezed in on itself, leaving two active ones. The rest of the team came running around the corner of the hallway in time to see the display of power.
“You could have had all this, you know,” we said, gesturing to our shared body, which was Isabella with me pretending to be a costume that rode up in inconvenient places when I found it convenient. We raised a hand blasted the ceiling of this icy fortress apart, exposing everyone to the wintry night sky. A glowing light enveloped us from the shuttle floating overhead.
“We must go now. Our planet needs us,” we told Flicker.
“What’s that music?” Florxman asked, referring to the Superman theme that appeared out of nowhere while we began to float upward. We landed in the shuttle and strapped in while they shut the door.
“Have fun?” asked the co-pilot.
“Not as much as we intended, but… it was a bonding experience,” Isabella said. “You couldn’t betray them either,” she thought to me.
“You corrupt me with your damn niceness,” I told her in our head.
“You’ve been ignoring those calls for days. You knew,” she teased.
“Stop it. The other wives are going to make fun of me if you keep this up,” I responded.
“I’ll pretend you corrupted me, but you have to let me do some stuff with your powers,” Isabella offered.
I mean… she’s so good.
Together we conjured up an image of the planet we left behind. It was quaint and nostalgic… but it was a really shallow vacation. Without the emotional connection to the people there, it’s just shallow theme park voyeurism. And my wife is terrible at being evil. No way she’s going to do something too messed-up with my powers.
Alien Villainess 3
After that night at the Wherever of Justice, having boldly gone where no humans had gone before, Isabel and I rode along in a plane headed further north. It wasn’t as fun as flying under our own power, but we appreciated the view. The awkwardness from some of the team provided further entertainment. None of them had shared that they all got a piece of Isabella, known on Earth as the superhero Venus, and myself, known on Earth as not normally some symbiote merged with the body of Venus. That’s made possible by the Great and Devious Psychopomp Gecko pretending to be dead and using my recently-acquired godlike power to become… the Unicorn Goddess! Anyway, the horn and wings are optional.
Teasing Isabella wasn’t optional. “Oh no, good girl gone wild. What are we going to do about the paparazzi? First you marry a supervillain, and a woman, but then you two are all polyamorous?”
“People will know what I want them to know, especially now,” she said. The smile that crossed her face was from both of us. I liked the answer, even if it was arrogant. “The Academy thought about restricting who I was known to date back when they worried about my boyfriend turning into a large monster sloth. First time I ever put my foot down with them, it was to say they would never dictate who I dated or loved. I knew a little bit about liking women then, too. They turned me into their PR project and I was going to fight for as much of my soul as I could get away with.”
Being basically one person and one mind for such a long trip gave us time to think on the similarities between us. She’d noticed them sooner, since she was less self-absorbed and I was constantly pissed about my past. I’m still pissed, I just put off further suffering. I don’t know a healthier way to deal with it. I’ve avoided healthier ways to deal with it, save for some therapy that other people are proud of me doing.
I think even a good Earth jet would have reached that fortress in the frozen far north by the time we set down in a small town for refueling. “We don’t get superheroes,” the airport’s owner and operator told us. “Normally just research and rescue flights.” He leaned in to whisper to Florxman, “I don’t suppose I can have your autograph for my son, could I? He loves all the costumes and masks and bip pop pow fighs.”
Being an unknown on the planet, Hyperwoman, as Isabella and I were going by like this, was nearly forgotten. We gave a pretty basic one, with my taking control of her hand so we could handle the alien characters. Then we, meaning Isabella and I, asked, “Is there anything fun to do in town while we wait?”
The old man scratched his temple. “Now let me think. There’s a mahg show going on down at the rec center, with a silent auction.”
I projected an image of a domesticated animal with four legs, a protective ramming dome of bone on its head, and a pair of swollen udders hanging from its belly. It was maybe the size of a large dog on Earth, or a medium gerbil on a really small moon.
I could have gone with a joke about Uranus there, but I decided not to take that. Unlike Uranus.
“Pass,” we told the old man. “What else do you have?”
“The local schoolchildren were going to have a field trip to the city, but it got canceled. Seeing you guys would surely brighten their day?” he answered.
We looked over at the heroes briefly. They were liking that idea. “Anything else you got? Something really fun?”
The old man gave a high-pitched, whistle-sigh. “There’s the casino.”
So anyway, we walked into the casino. Much like an Earth casino, it was filled with cheap plastic and metal, weak inebriations, and machinery engineered to extract the optimal amount of money from anyone who dared to sit down. People still won sometimes, because of how the odds worked, but they money they won had to come from somewhere. That’s just how houses of chance work. But as long as you recognize you’re in an adult arcade where the games involve possibly winning money instead of winning a side-scrolling beat-em-up, you’ll be fine.
I brought the team with me, but those sticks in the mud kept talking about lectures and moral turpitude. Instead, I walked in and called for a Swanecool, a drink I knew I’d enjoy. The bartender got the wrong idea, though. He pushed some button that set alarms off. What dealers there were reached under their tables and pulled out weapons, like firearms, clubs, and knives.
“Gambling is illegal here,” Florxman said.
Isabella thought to me, “Is he really that scary to people?”
I showed her an image of a Florx, a winged sea predator that is capable of leaving the water, flying through the air to attack people, and settles in bodies of water surprisingly far from the oceans, including pools. “He likes to use terror and intimidation, along with the association with an animal that creeps people out and sometimes is a legitimate threat.”
“I guess it loses something without the context,” Isabella responded.
“Listen, why can’t we all just have some fun-” we started to say aloud. Unfortunately, the casino staff made the first move. The patrons ducked, dipped, dived, and dodged as the ones with guns opened fire. Florxman threw down a smoke bomb and disappeared behind cover. The Flicker appeared to stand still while dodging shots. Reservoirman twirled his spear, deflecting bullets. We stood there and let ourselves get shot.
“I guess we have to fight,” we muttered to ourself. We sped up and rushed to the nearest person with a firearm, taking it out of that guy’s hands. We did the same to the woman after that, and the man after that, and so on, until we’d relieved them of their guns. Then we moved back to where we started, set the pile down in front of us, and came back to normal speed. A lot of confused casino minions looked at their hands, then at us. “You’ll want to run along now,” we told them.
The Flicker appeared next to me, dropping all the bullets and pellets that had been fired. She’s pretty fast. Makes me wonder if she might be faster. She could be a God of Speed… but that really makes it feel like the “god” title isn’t that meaningful. I guess you get to pick what constitutes a god if you’re a powerful reality warper. Anyone who disagrees, you just wipe the out of existence.
Florxman jumped to the top of one gaming machine and swooped down onto one of the dealers who grabbed a hand-sized die from the table and was about to throw it. The fight proper kicked off there, with Flicker doing most of the work. We hung back because as much as we both enjoy fighting, we had come there to do some gambling. Party-pooping heroes.
I grabbed some coins that went flying when Reservoirman threw someone onto a table and tried one of these machines. “Ok, those things are Wild, getting these three starts one game, and having some of these symbols in a row starts a different game. You know, this is a lot less fun when we know all this.” They were pre-computers on this planet, so this thing had physical controls that meant it wouldn’t hit for me for fifteen more turns. We gave it a few goes before we got bored, picked up the machine, and hurled it at the boss. He just stepped out of a back room with an automatic gun in each hand up until the gambling machine hit the side of the door, which killed most of its momentum before it could kill him. He’d survive, but he’d need to let some ribs heal for awhile.
Our heart wasn’t really in any more fight, but neither were the various minions. Some tried to run only to get rounded up by Flicker or by Florxman’s grapple gun. The town’s constabulary of like a dozen guys had twice their number of belligerent dealers and pit bosses to take into custody. About the only good thing is the Amazing Twins decided to let the patrons go.
The heroes seemed pretty happy with themselves up until the explosion from the airfield. Flicker and I were the first ones there to see the robot stomping around, smashing the rear of the plane with the front of the plane. “I’ll get the legs, you take it down,” Flicker suggested.
“Agreed,” we said.
Flicker left friction-heat I the air that ignited grass as she ran. She went behind it and rammed into the knees of the blocky, claw-handed robot. One thing people don’t get about speedsters is that they have to be physically tougher and stronger to deal with the speeds they handle. The robot wobbled. We rose into the air and shot into its chest, creating a crater in the grass that it fell into with us standing in the hole we’d left in its chest. We reached down and tugged its head off as well, using my powers to examine it. It was an interesting piece of early technology, a melding of steampunk and extremely early computing technology. It has a small punchcard brain, more efficient than it should have been for that level of technology.
The rest of the team finally arrived riding on the back of the male Amazing Twin who had taken the form of some sort of extinct flying creature. When he landed, he reverted to the same humanoid shape as the rest who stood there. The scowl Florxman wore looked like he had to take a truly enormous dump. He walked up to us. “Have you had your fun yet?” He pulled a blocky device off his belt, an advanced radio for this age, and started pushing buttons on it.
“No, actually. This was all pretty boring to me.”
“I can speed rebuild it!” Flicker offered.
Reservoirman scoffed. “No. I hate flying, and I’m not going to do it in something you put together in seconds.”
“Fine, we’ll run you there,” we said.
“We will?” Flicker said.
Florxman thought it over. Reseroirman slapped him on the shoulder. “Come on, rich boy. You’re springing for a coat and sleigh.”
“Quiet!” Florxman said. The crackling of the radio grew more distinct.
A man was speaking, “And if I do not receive this ransom, I will detonate this atomic fission device and turn the entire atmosphere into a fiery conflagration!”
Florxman growled to himself and shut the radio down. “We don’t have time. Let’s do it.”
So, despite having been a werereindeer for awhile, it took going to an alien planet on the other side of the galaxy for me to get lashed to a sleigh with four people sitting in it, bundled up against the cold, and a speedster next to me.
I looked over to Flicker. “You and I should race sometime.”
“Not now though, right?” she asked nervously.
We looked back at the rest of the team. I let her have a moment of doubt. “No, not yet.”
Alien Villainess 2
We took one of the transport ship’s small craft to the planet, Isabella and I. That’s Venus’s name, and one I felt more compelled to refer to her as when we were joined in a symbiotic relationship. The Captain blob wanted to send one or two of his blobs with to fly the craft and keep it ready for our swift departure, which we were going to refuse until Isabella pointed out it looks suspicious that the ship had such an accident with my powers. So we came down in a cramped craft that was stripped of everything but the bare minimum supplies. The crew themselves didn’t take up a lot of space. The blobs can compress themselves really well.
“This craft isn’t designed for combat. Will it be easily detected?” we asked the blobs.
One of them flicked a few switches. “The tech boys reconfigured the basic shields to give off a small profile for early radar. There aren’t a lot of aerial craft to see us. We need to set down outside of the urban center. You can travel quickly?”
“Yes,” we told them. The craft set down in the woods outside of town, though the trees were a little unusual to us. They looked like oversized brown broccoli with green tips. We were barely out of the craft before we took to the sky, letting out a “Woohoo!”
“It’s beautiful,” Isabella said, looking down at the world. “And small.”
“Mhm. Frail,” that thought had a couple of connotations.
If this seems a tad bit confusing, it was for us, too. We were sort of one and the same person. We knew each other’s thoughts and feelings. Our body was one and the same. That was something fun to explore with that avian alien. It was very different from me exploring what it means to possess another person. And the fact that I didn’t just create a copy of her to do whatever I want gave it more meaning to me, even if I could create a duplicate of her that was perfect in every way. Because a perfect copy is still a copy. Which might come across as some grand revelation if it hadn’t already been thought up by some stoner in the parking lot of a 7/11 eating the cheapest burrito on Earth.
In a way, she felt the same. Sharing myself with her like this, she could reach back in time to an earlier me and make me come around quicker. She could make me seek help or stop killing. Give me epiphanies it took years to reach. But it’s not the same. She wanted to know I could change.
I’d never been that open with anyone before. Fears, doubts… and all my wicked temptations. That’s one of the toughest things you can expose to someone. She knew what I want, what I really, really want, and not just to quote Spice Girls. In turn, I knew what she wanted. There’s the usual heroic stuff, like justice and helping people. But also a family. Someone who loves her as a person and not for a mask and costume. A few real friends instead of a bunch of distant teammates and people who put her on a pedestal. Also, to spend a lot of time laying around, eating junk food, and playing video games. It’s a humble goal, but its hers instead of one given to her by the Master Academy. And then here I came, all creepy-flirty and suggestive of her shirking her duties.
We flew into the city, hours left before dawn would break on this planet. The moons brightened up the sky considerably, a string of three pearls in line on the black night sky. I acted as a HUD for her, highlighting the target building, translating street signs and advertisements as we passed by them, and providing the local time. “Quiet or loud?” Isabella thought.
“Go loud or go home. Or go loud to go home, I should say,” I responded. “Hmm.”
The building was lit up and surrounded by a crowd of people, as well as the local peace officers. We stopped and landed on a much taller building nearby, zooming in and enhancing the sound for us. There was one in a fancier outfit than the others, holding some bars that had been bent a good 90 degrees. “It was Dr. Malevolent and his Mighty Robot,” the fancier officer told another who had just arrived. “He broke in and stole the beryllium. We need to find him. I don’t know what he has planned, but it can’t be good for the world.”
I noticed the glint of moonlight off a nearby building and drew Isabella’s attention to it. Someone else was hiding out on rooftops, holding a bulky listening device. He wore a darker outfit to blend in, like a dark vigilante who relies on darkness and deception to stalk criminals. “Another factor, but not important. We just need to find this Dr. Malevolent,” we said to ourselves.
I reached out with my omniscience. “He’s fled to the icy northern reaches of the planet, in a fortress of permafrost, ice crystals, and solitude.”
“I’d like to fly there,” Isabella said.
I smiled using her face. “Sure,” I told her.
I sped it up some, because Dr. Malevolent really was a long ways away, but I gave Isabella a chance to fly. “It’s amazing, isn’t it? Flying under your own power?”
“It’s like…” she started.
“…transcendent,” we finished.
And of course we got shot at by the other person on a rooftop. He swung through the air using a grapple gun, but he’d shot at us with an elongated silver handgun that matched the eyes on his long black mask that resembled a horse’s face to me. It was creepier for the natives of the planet. We smiled. We both wanted to fight this guy. We flew at him. He stopped and fired at a building to the side, zipping away. Didn’t matter. We have power enough to easily destroy a planet. Multiple planets. A galaxy, even.
The costumed vigilante tried a bolo that we tossed aside, then another shot. The bullet did jack squat. The decorative building statue falling on us didn’t do much either. We caught it and tossed it at the vigilante’s line, dropping him. He still had the grapple gun and readied it, firing just in time for us to tackle him onto a rooftop and through the support beam of a small water tank that fell over toward us.
He wheezed, hurt, and sat upright. Holding up a hand, he said, “Wait!” He gasped for air. “I just… wanted…. your… attention.”
“You got it. Happy now?” we said. Along with the thrill of fighting someone who appeared to be a hero, Isabella was already having regrets. It wasn’t much of a fight.
“So… he… could…” the dark crusader started to say. A man landed on the building behind us, cinching his spear against our throat and pinning us against his bronze armor. “do… that…”
We tested the spear. It was tough. Exotic and enchanted elements. We stomped on his foot hard enough to crush it through the roof of the building, then turned and popped him in the belly. He was tough. After the first blow didn’t overcome his enhanced toughness, we made sure the second was better suited for someone with powers. He went flying, leaving us free of the hold. We turned back toward the vigilante, who shot a grapple bolt at our face.
We ducked our head to the side and grabbed it, calling out, “Get over here!” We yanked him toward us but he just let go of the gun. He threw down smoke bombs we could see through, probably to help cover the approach of another of his friends. A woman ran up, wearing yellow and white, leaving a small trail of fire behind her. She moved at superspeed, trying to create isolate us in a whirlwind.
We flew up out of the open top, then smiled. “Bumrush?” Isabella asked in our shared mind. We accelerated down and smashed through the roof, damaging it and throwing off the speedster for a moment. We also had superspeed, and burst through the roof again right behind her. We threw her straight up into the air and flew after her. Behind us, the man with the spear rode a column of water that he then launched himself from to follow us.
“This is fun,” we both thought. “Pointless, but fun.”
We flew around the speedster at super speed, throwing punches before grabbing her by the ankle and tossing her into who we assumed to be her teammate. He caught her, but it left his arms full for when we rushed him and headbutted him down onto the building. That just left the unpowered vigilante… ah, there he was. He thought he could hide in the shadows. He thought the darkness was his ally, but he merely adopted it. We had heat vision and x-ray vision and all kinds of vision. One moment he was looking up at us, the next moment he whirled to find me there poking him on the shoulder.
He looked back up at the sky, then to me. “How?”
I grabbed him up off the roof. “Because I’m Hyperwoman. Who are you and what do you want?”
“I’m darkness. I’m the night. I am Florxman,” he answered. “What connection do you have to Dr. Malevolent?”
“None. I’m just trying to go get the beryllium he stole,” we answered.
“Maybe we can help each other,” he said.
We laughed. “What can you help me with?”
“We’ve fought him. We know what sort of tricks he has. You’re strong, but he’s a brilliant and evil genius. And we could use your strength.” Florxman answered.
“You could use a mint,” we told him.
In our head, she said, “ We could go with them and betray them.”
“Up to you, love,” I told her.
We set Florxman down and turned toward the others approaching. “Fine, we’ll go with you. But we need to hurry. Who are you two?”
“Reservoirman,” the guy with the spear said. He looked to Florxman specifically. “You want her with us after this?”
“You have a better idea?” Florxman asked. He nodded toward the speedster. “Hyperwoman, this is the Flicker.”
The speedster waved to us. We waved back.
That is how we picked a name and met the Justice Alliance. Florxman, Hyperwoman, Reservoirman, the Flicker, and some young sidekicks called the Amazing Twins. “You know what would make the betrayal even better?” Isabella asked privately. The way we were staring at Reservoirman’s ass while walking into the Justice Building in the heart of the city, I had a good idea what she had in mind. It was a nice ass, but that was her attraction seeping through to me.
“Fucking a hero and then betraying them?” I suggested.
We glanced over at The Flicker, lounging ahead of everyone. Isabella pulled a joke out of my head. “A bull and his son look down a hill at a field full of cows. The son says, ‘Dad, let’s run down there and fuck a cow!’ The bull replies, ‘No, son. Let’s walk down there and fuck ’em all.’”
I married this woman.
The Trobogorians have been resorting to bombardment from low-orbit while they try to handle the machine assault on their fleet. From what I can gather. When I say the machines are tearing them apart, I mean they’re ripping their way through bulkheads and defenses. They’re pretty methodical about recycling. The Trobogorians had a relief fleet arrive that moved toward the Machine colony, forcing most of our extraterrestrial automaton allies to back off and focus on their own defense. That also means the fleet in orbit didn’t get any reinforcements of their own.
Anyway, that’s just an update. Setting the scene.
The Trobogorians had been bombarding the planet from orbit at random, but in between my recruiting efforts, I would catch them. Now, instead of going after the real location of the little ornament they’re after, the United States Bullion Depository, they went off on Louisville. The lasers they were using would have given Louisville a slugging, but something flew through the air and chowed down on them.
I landed, the glorious Unicorn goddess with the multi-color hair, the shining horn, and the glowing wings. Like a gay icon. It’d be nice, but I’m hardly icon material. I landed next to the others I brought with me. There was Pestilentia, the recently-freed woman with basically godlike powers focused on disease and fungi. She brought Mix N’Max with her, a friend of mine she’s banging and a master of turning just about any material into whatever potion or poison you can think of. Baron Samedi was along, the Loa claiming he isn’t involved and just providing a lift for Tom Waits. Tom is… well, we haven’t pried, but he agreed to help. What good he’ll be, I don’t know, but he’s a got a gravely singing voice and he’s almost certainly no god. But he brings snacks. Seems to be something of a supernatural thing that we all like people who bring us alcohol or food, like Baron Samedi sticking with us after I brought a cask of wine that originally sank in 1503.
We all looked out over the city from the top of some place called 400 West Market. Tallest building in the city. In a flash, a force of Trobogorians and their conscripted minions, the Mindarians. The Trobogorians averaged more like 50 feet tall, so they would have to climb slightly to reach us. The Mindarians were more like 9 to 10 feet, all decked out in pretty drab fatigues. They don’t really break out the armor for us little beings.
I held a hand up. “For my next trick, I will make this army disappear!”
It was like an explosion went off in my stomach that would not stop. It wanted to tear me apart. With Alexander on the way, I went into panic mood a little bit before fully concentrating to protect myself.
“What’s wrong?” Max asked.
“They spiked those lasers,” I said.
The sky lit up again. A being towered over us the same way the Trobogorians towered over their minions and humans, but it was ghostly and see-through. A truly humongous Trobogorian deity.
“Are you this planet’s puny gods?” it asked.
Baron Samedi stepped forward. “Actually, I’m a Loa. It is not the same, thing, and I’m not really-”
The alien deity fired a red beam from its mouth right at the Baron. I caught it before it hit and managed to smile. “I, on the other hand, am a god.” I didn’t devour this bit of energy. That’s how they got me. They saw what I did with the first time they tried to bombard me and hid a bit of their own godlike essence in those lasers to fight me from the inside. I had to spend some energy fending off the unexpected assault from inside, but I had enough to catch that thing. And to throw it right back at the giant thing.
Samedi put his hand on my shoulder. “You are ill.”
“They pulled a nifty trick. See, this is why I wanted some Superfriends along.”
The Trobogorian got himself stuck with arrows by Pestilentia, treating it as no consequence. And I just saw the futility of having done any of this. With me busy, that pretty much just left Pestilentia. Max would be easy for them to kill with his powers. Tom Waits was merely a man. Baron Samedi has no heart for the fight. By resisting the invasion, I’d doomed myself and my family. All because I couldn’t just sit back, say a few words about how horrible war was, and let people die. Any escalation, any attempt to help simply helps the world end. Even expressing hope at the determination of the humans is nothing but ignoring the suffering created. The light does not stand against the dark. I should submit.
Ah. Now, I’ve had some suicide ideation before. It doesn’t go like that. I disappeared and reappeared as a giant equal in size to the Trobogorian deity. It was slow, moreso than it expected with Pestilentia’s beasties roaming its body. It punches me, but that didn’t stop me thrusting my hands into its wide mouth and pulling it open. I vomited up the traitorous energy down the throat of the alien, burning through its gnashing inner jaws. It teleported away, but not before I’d already expelled the entire attack into it.
I shrunk down and returned to the rest of this bunch. I felt it return to a temple ship in the fleet. The ship broke apart, then was vaporized. One down, five to go. It was easy to keep track because the remaining ones showed up at first. Five on two. At least these wore more than just fatigues. The one in the lead seemed male, but scantily clad with metal undies and headdress. “You forget your place as underlings to true gods!” I felt the pressure around us from the barrier they created. All five fired their annihilation beams at once. I pushed back on it with my own power, reaching out and slowing it down. I was worth at least two of these guys, but there were five. Pestilentia turning her arms into weird growths that climbed through my power, reinforcing it, helping to slow down the assault.
“Breaking the barrier would help more,” I suggested to her telepathically.
Hands on my shoulder. Baron Samedi, speaking to himself, but I heard it only as faint whispers from all over. I felt the Five grow weaker. He was sapping their energy. I started to make out something in the whispers, “I will not fill your grave. You will not yet die.”
The odds were nearly even, but they’d gained so much ground and were only advancing.
Tom Waits spoke into his phone, “Is this getting out? I don’t ordinarily believe in livestreaming bullshit, but under the circumstances…”
With a roar, a blue and orange man, the size of a Mindarian, slammed into the head of one of the Five. Another found himself swarmed by twisted monsters made of warped Trobogorians and undead Mindarians. Lighting struck the barrier around us, again and again. It finally shattered, the sky thundering at the command of the man hanging in the sky among the storm clouds. Or a teenager empowered with magical power to protect the world. On the ground, a man in skeletal armor rode a worm of bones. A blue and orange titan hung in the air.
The alien gods backed off. A barrier surrounded them and prevented their escape now while I gathered the power they had unleashed. I compressed it.
“What now?” Samedi asked.
“Now, we put an end to this,” I declared.
“We could kill them,” Pestilentia said. “Kill them, wipe out the things they brought to us.” She was speaking my language. It was only right. They brought the fight here. If not for literal divine intervention, our cities would be wrecked and our people killed. Regardless of the physical damage and wounds, the fear and trauma isn’t over.
I encased the energy they threw at me into a gemstone and set it in an amulet I wrapped around my horn.
The Titan, Captain Lightning, and Spinetingler all met up at me. Lightning, the successor to the Captain I’d killed so recently, glared at me, but something was staying his hand. “I knew you had to be lying.”
I nodded to him. “How’d you decide to show up here, anyway? All of you, separately?”
Captain Lightning, Spinetingler, and Titan all looked to Tom Waits, who answered, “I put in a word with some friends. They got hold of everyone, and then I livestreamed our location when we came here.”
In their barrier, the alien gods were destroying Spinetingler’s mangled mutations of their underlings. Titan kept an eye on them, shifting his wings so he could see over his shoulder. “What are we thinking?”
I let out a deep breath, despite not needing to breathe. “As much as it feels right to punish them, it’s not about us and our grudges. Now we force them to agree to peace and a withdrawal. One moment.” I conjured up a holographic connection to the alien Machines who had been helping us. There was a little pile of spheres that formed into a body. That as the automaton they’d sent to speak with me when I requested information before. “The Unicorn Goddess of Earth here. We are about to open talks for peace. We thought you would like to sit in on this.”
“We understand,” it responded. “Please provide transportation to Earth of a delegate from these coordinates on the stellar body known to Earth as Themisto.”
When I snapped my fingers, what looked like a mass of junk appeared in the sky. It looked like someone had beheaded a massive statue, then attached antigravity engines and other pieces. The thing was a spaceship in its own right, but also doubled as a diplomat for the Machines for dealing with particularly-threatening species.
“Ok, let’s go have us a few stern words,” I told the assembled group.
We didn’t end up letting the Trobogorian gods go until they agreed to get the fuck off. They were allowed to retrieve prisoners, dead bodies, and equipment they’d brought. That last provision suddenly struck me as maybe a good idea. There were groups out there eager to get their hands on alien salvage and it ran counter to my ideas on how to guide and grow humanity. This will slow down the copycats from perfecting their own devices meant for nothing but creating pain in people.
The Machines requested compensation for their part in the defense of Earth, which we extracted from the Trobogorians. First, the Trobogorians weren’t getting back any salvage or captured ships that had already been claimed by the Machines. Second, the Machines won the liberation of an automated asteroid mine.
The Trobogorian gods didn’t seem fond of that, but ultimately acquiesced because it saved their lives and they could just make the Trobogorians do it anyway. One day, there was an interstellar invasion on. The next, the fleets were just gone, and there was a new asteroid in the solar system.
And somebody had gotten a photo of the bunch of us gathered there, preparing to talk to the captured gods. They put a big black border around it like a motivational poster, with us captioned, “Pantheon.” Not sure how I feel about that. Somehow, with Spinetingler in the photo, Tom Waits was still the creepiest-looking of the bunch.
Sickeningly Sweet 7, Epilogue
“Psycho Gecko killed Captain Lightning,” Lightning’s successor announced to onlookers. The video was all over Youtube. Amazingly, that was all there was to the video. Somehow, the part where he told everyone I am the Unicorn Goddess didn’t record, didn’t upload, and was instantly forgotten by everyone, including the new Captain Lightning.
“Looks like he’s got a lot to learn still,” Sam said, leaning on my shoulder on the couch. Holly had me move my arms so she could slide onto my lap.
“That’s your fault, though,” Holly added.
Sam patted her friend’s head. “She’s right, you know.”
I rolled my eyes. “I know. Just like I know he’s got a good reason to hate me, even though I had a good reason to kill him.”
We were at this martial arts tournament being held at the local high school. The town of Radium had settled on integrating the super and non-super schools together, and one of many events they were trying to build a community spirit was stuff like this. With the rise of the show Cobra Kai, it was pretty popular, and Qiang had some competition out there. We were all trying to avoid this stage mom yelling for her son. They segregated the competition by sex, so Qiang wasn’t going to get a chance to whoop her kid’s ass. Instead, we tried to ignore her.
“You ever find out where the non-binary kids are competing?” Holly asked.
“Ugh. They’re making them play pretend,” I explained. “Don’t even see why they have to segregate this stuff anyway. When someone comes at you in a dark alley, are you going to be able to ask to segregate that fight? No, you kick ’em upside the spleen.”
“Cut their dick off,” Sam said.
“Poke their eyes out with your nails!” Holly added. We made for an intimidating cheering section. Qiang waved, all smiles, while she waited for her next fight. She raised up a box of popcorn. “Anyone want some?”
I reached out with a prehensile tongue to grab a couple pieces off the top.
“Pass one here,” Sam requested. I slipped one to her using the tongue before chowing down on the other piece. Holly giggled and waved at an older guy who’d been staring. The staring didn’t stop when two more women joined our little crowd. Medusa brought the wings, and Venus brought tacos.
“Boopsies,” I acknowledged them.
“Isabella,” Venus said.
“Maia, at least when we’re dressed like regular people,” Medusa said.
Sam laughed. “So you split up your names?”
Medusa smiled at her. “I let her have the first name, because I’m going to be a good big sis.”
Sam shook her head. “How do you get used to that? She’s you!”
I raised a hand. “Ooh!”
“No!” the whole quartet said at once. I hadn’t even made the suggestion.
I turned my nose up. “Fine. It was just an idea of an offer.”
“Don’t you have a big enough harem?” Venus asked.
“I don’t know. Last time I checked, my alleged fiances were having second thoughts,” I noted. Now, omniscience doesn’t mean omniwisdom, and I could tell I’d hit a sore spot. “I’m sorry. We’ll talk about that later. We’re here now and let’s enjoy watching Qiang rearrange some faces.”
“Up next, Kim Hart versus Qiang Lamb,” the announcer announced. We all started cheering. Venus started a wave that Holly continued, dropping popcorn on me. Through odd chance, all of the popcorn fell into my mouth.
I noticed Medusa watching and gave a little, “Ta da! And for my next act of god…”
“Shh, our kid’s beating people up,” Sam said.
“Our daughter,” Holly said. Medusa and Venus repeated it. I shook my head, thinking about how we are most definitely not a normal family. Qiang and Alexander are going to have some interesting lives, but I hope they have it only as interesting as they want.
Meanwhile on the mat, this Kim girl showed a lot of acrobatic skill dodging Qiang, and the confusion Qiang had about it left her open to get a point scored against her. Qiang came back the next go-round and blocked a kick before giving the girl a punch to the chest.
An older woman with a red dye job she hoped looked natural leaned down and tapped me on the shoulder aggressively, “Excuse me. Do you have to do that?”
I turned toward her. “Do what?”
“That!” she waved her hands at my little lesbian cuddle fest, with Sam on one side of me, Holly in my lap, my arm having slipped around Venus, and Medusa holding my hand that ended up on the other side of Venus’s shoulders.
“We’re just here existing,” I said.
“What’s your problem?” Sam asked.
“She doesn’t like lesbians existing,” Holly answered.
“No, you can exist, just don’t do that here,” the woman said.
“Do what?” Medusa asked, giving her a glare.
“You know, touch each other,” the woman said. She had her fingers entwined with her husband’s next to her.
“We can touch in public same as you,” Medusa said, nodding toward the woman’s hand.
“She thinks we’re unnatural though,” I pointed out.
“I didn’t say that,” she said. I snapped my fingers. “You are unnatural! It’s not right that children can see you exist. Little girls are too impressionable and should be thinking about having sex with men!” She held her hand up to her mouth. “I didn’t say that!”
“Sounded like you did, ma’am,” Holly pitched in.
Venus cleared her throat. “Talking about little girls having sex at this sort of event might count as public obscenity or whatever this state has.”
Medusa took the layup. “Maybe I should get my friend the sheriff in here.”
“Hey, you have no right,” the husband chimed in, pointing his finger at us. “We paid good money to come here and think about sex while staring at little girls!”
“Funny how that keeps slipping out,” I said.
Red-faced the couple ended up leaving, muttering to themselves. The wife said something about the doctor giving her the wrong pills.
We finally got to concentrate on my girl’s match. While we’d been chatting with that annoying couple, Qiang and Kim had themselves a longer bout where Kim used her acrobatics skill to dodge, mostly jumping or throwing herself out of the way. Qiang stayed on her and Kim never had time to full regain her feet, so my daughter was able to get her eventually. Qiang wasn’t nearly as winded as Kim was from all that jumping going into the fourth round, and started off feinting a sweep. Kim jumped, but was slower dodging and realizing the feint, so she caught a food to the chest about the time she landed, giving my daughter the win.
We had a little break then before the finals.
“So, we’ve been thinking,” Medusa said. “It’s not legal for you to marry two people in this country.”
I snapped my fingers. “Drat. Guess the wedding’s off, especially because I’m already married to someone else technically.” One of them is even roaming around somewhere. She came from a Bronze Age-level society on a lost continent that came back. We were married for political reasons. As soon as the ceremony was over, I drugged her to keep her in a coma while I stayed with this other woman I was seeing for political reasons. To make it up for her, I eventually brought her out of it with various enhancements, and let her lead the life of an adventurer.
“Delilah Lamb is not legally married to anyone,” Medusa said. “And neither is Psychopomp Gecko, who exists as a legal entity who has been pardoned before. The Unicorn Goddess is in even weirder legal space. You don’t have to pay taxes since you’re the head of your own religion.”
I shrugged. “After everything, y’all still want to marry me? Attaching your name to mine?”
“We’ve done a lot of thinking about it. It was a big consideration, to add to it. That’s why I’m going to sully my bad reputation with it,” Medusa said. “How’d you like my last name? Psychopomp Gecko-”
“And Delilah can take mine or we can hyphenate. Either way, we decided not to do two weddings in one day, so we’re splitting it up and I’m going first,” Venus added.
“She’s become a real brat now that she’s a younger sister,” Sam said.
Holly gave her a playful swat on the shoulder. “Either be nice or marry our girlfriend yourself.”
“By the way,” Venus said, “I appreciate you keeping the omniscience off right now.”
I shrugged. “It’s not as interesting if I spoil the competition.”
Venus just smiled at me. Someone else tapped me on the shoulder. I turned to see a Catholic priest. “Excuse me, Delilah Lamb?” He opened a Bible he had with him that had a cheat sheet tucked within it.
I went to turn to Venus, who was right next to me, and ask her what she did, but I noticed Medusa revealed a veil she put on Venus. Sam was pulling on a tuxedo sweatshirt and a clip-on tie. Holly got off my lap and pulled a small bouquet of flowers out of the bottom of the trick popcorn box. She whipped her phone out and started playing the wedding march at a subdued tone.
“Elaborate deception,” I noted as Sam put a veil on my head.
Qiang came running up, stopping to grab a pillow with a couple rings on it from her backpack.
We left the gym with Holly jumping around tossing popcorn at us. Sam stuck a sticker to my back reading “Just Married.” I refused to let Qiang be outdone. She skipped along with her trophy and a sign behind her reading, “Just kicked ass.”
Of course, that’s when alarms sounded. Worldwide news alerts went up as gigantic spaceships blotted out the sky. “People of Earth,” they announced on all channels and frequencies “Fear not. The Trobogorian Directorate promises not to kill anyone.”
“Which ones are these?” Sam asked.
Venus raised my hand and kissed it while Medusa answered. “They’re the pacifists, technically. They prefer weapons that keep people alive in excruciating pain.”
“Yay, kicking aliens to the dark side of the honeymoon,” I said, smiling over at Venus. I don’t know why I couldn’t stop smiling. It shouldn’t have meant so much, but it did. And I knew it’d be fun to go beat up some invading aliens, too. The last time a Trobogorian expedition hit Earth, it didn’t go their way. Now, they’ve got me to deal with, and about a bajillion angry alien machines mobilizing around the outer planets to help protect the people who gave them a home.
Heck, I bet this’ll all be cleared up before Outlaw X gets done entertaining y’all instead. Cut me some slack, I’m on my honeymoon.
Sickeningly Sweet 6
Zazz keeps messing with me. That zoot-suited demon-guy was always leaving notes or letters for me, but no longer appeared around my family. He really wants to pay me back. With the added Omega energy in me and a moment to focus on him, I could break through his barrier and figure out his deal.
Zazz had been a powerful demon from the hell dimensions who had an ambitious plan to subtly undermine the world using the Cold War. Captain Lightning uncovered it, but wasn’t able to kill Zazz. Instead, he figured out a way to imprison the demon, but it was tied to his life. He’s definitely not looking to help me undo the death of Captain Lightning. He wanted to find a way to get rid of me using the confusion of time travel. It’s a solid plan.
I justified my killing for a long time as even being a bit merciful compared to other things you could do to a person, like ruin, humiliate, depower or imprison someone. Dame proved me right on that, I think. Sometimes death is a mercy. And when I think of all the dictators and opportunistic bloodsuckers I killed off when I got these god-like powers, it’s a mercy for everyone else. So long as death exists, tyranny is not eternal. Pain is not eternal. Even the wealthy and powerful can only put it off for so long, but accidents and drug overdoses happen anyway.
Still leaves me conflicted about Clara, aka Pestilentia. Aside from trapping me a couple of times and trying to kill some people under my protection, there’s not a lot of continuing threat from her. Damn Reindeer and that conscience. I want to be a good person. Captain Lightning wasn’t right to do what he did, and maybe I could have taken another way to stop him. Maybe I should have. I guess that’s my moral problem to wrestle with.
Pestilentia had taken over a small hotel in the Green Zone of Empyreal City. The Reds, a Marxist-Leninist street gang with access to old Soviet arms, were taking advantage of the Greens’ distraction to make a push with radthrowers and old Comrade exoskeletons. Think boxy metal robots with claws like some kid’s toy, make them 15 feet tall, and stick a person inside without an air conditioner. The radthrowers were a lot like flamethrowers, but throwing out radiation. That radiation included heat, but without the flames. Militaries can’t legally use the things, but they’ve found new life as surplus in the hands of criminals and terrorists.
A group of them had marched into what I thought of as a Brown Zone, mostly from the rotting plants and compost and such. The giant mushrooms were of varying colors, including some large ones with red and white-spotted caps. The reaction was a little different there. Some of the mushrooms grew larger. Others released spores that the radthrowers quickly targeted. It might have been because they were already feeling the effects of Pestilentia’s guard microbes. She had bacteria all up inside them. The first few falling over or kneeling didn’t get most of the group’s attention. Everyone thought they were the only ones feeling ill. Excuses running through their heads ranged from bad burritos to STDs to chronic health problems. They figured out this was a group problem around the time one of the exoskeletons clanged off the side of a car and went still against the pavement.
Pestilentia liked taking to the skies. She jumped over them all, unleashing a rain of arrows. With her enhanced strength, many of them penetrated the Reds anti-knife vests worn in case of claw or antler attack. One of the exoskeletons tried to tackler her, but she manipulated her ribbons like limbs. They wrapped around its legs and dragged them out from under the Red, making him do a split. The guy inside whose legs were down into those legs also did a split, but was not in any way prepared for it. Then the bacteria that infiltrated him exploded his eyes. He died shortly thereafter of a brain aneurysm.
Pestilentia disappeared from that dimension. Instead, she appeared in the Omega pocket dimension, inside a forcefield bubble floating between the hands of a giant me. The Unicorn Goddess herself.
“Hello, Clara,” I said. “What am I going to do with you?”
Pestilentia tried an arrow that dissolved at the bubble. She lowered the bow then. “Let me go and we call a truce?”
Well, she reminded me a bit of myself there.
“I don’t know whether it’s more merciful to kill you, or to let you live,” I told her. “Do you want to live?”
“Yes!” She declared. “Let me live! I’ll leave you alone, I swear!”
“Even if it means sealing you in the Madstone?” I asked.
That took her several seconds of deciding before she balled up her fists. “Never put me in the Madstone again.”
Good answer. I liked it.
I reached into her and made a few changes. Think of it like a curse or a geas. “You will never harm myself or any of my loved ones. Emotional harm from dating or breaking up with Max doesn’t count, obviously, nor does any S and M stuff you two get up to. He doesn’t mind a little bit of teeth with his blowjobs, so you know.”
I could have done more. Could have even stripped her of her powers. I could feel the symbiotic fungus inside her. But I didn’t. I showed mercy, and then I cast her out to the real world. Maybe that was the wrong choice, too, but it was the one I made. Because the Reindeer part of me, that goody-goody heroine, knew it would be wrong to stuff her into the Madstone in my place.
Then it was back to the real world for the next confrontation. I was at this old bookstore. “Charlie’s Books,” read the sign out front. I stepped through the door.
“We’re closed!” a teenage voice called out. I waited there for that young man to see me. Captain Lightning II, untransformed, stopped in his tracks as he saw me. He transformed in a hurry, flying right at me to punch me in the face. I let him. It didn’t hurt me. It couldn’t at that point, especially with the Madstone just now draining strength from me.
I could have explained and justified myself, but he wasn’t in the mood for it. Instead, I brushed him aside. I caught him in a jagged crystalline half-orb before he could slam into a bookshelf, closed it, and then froze him in there. “Where, oh where, had my Madstone gone?”
I smelled brimstone and hellfire and spotted a wide-brimmed hat walking along behind one of the book-shelves. Zazz stepped out from behind the bookshelves, bouncing a snowglobe in his hand. A stand of like zinc, aluminum, and copper and a glass globe with an etched stone inside. The Madstone. “Hey there, girly. You shouldn’t have gone looking into my past like that. I just wanted to help ease your mind. Where’s the trust?”
I pulled the snowglobe out of his hands. He put up a fight telekinetically, but it was clear he was weaker. Instead, he shattered the globe and pushed the stone toward me. I stopped it again and brought it close.
“Well, I guess you got it. Good luck undoing it,” Zazz said. “Are you going to at least let me kill the boy?” He gestured with his chin toward the captured Captain Lightning.
“No one has to die today,” I said.
Zazz rolled his eyes. “I’ve been where you are. He won’t stop. It does not matter that he can’t beat you, he will find a way. Eventually, he’ll even succeed. You say you’re a god. It’s time to stop pretending human morality has any place with you. It’s gotten you stuck with that thing stuck to you, leeching your power away.” He emphasized that by pointing at the Madstone. “You can be nice or you can live with that draining you, a god forever tied down to that thing. The mighty Unicorn can be yours if you find the rock she’s stuck in.”
He was baiting my arrogance. Zazz was telling me what part of me wanted to hear. I’d had these thoughts already. The whole thing could be solved and the status quo more or less returned to if only I shoved Pestilentia back into the Madstone. Or put someone else in there, like one of the Lesser Omegas or Zazz. That was a Plan B for the one I drained of power. Solve my problem by inflicting it on someone else. Fair’s fair, right?
“It’s such a little thing. The maker didn’t even make the stone stronger,” I raised the Madstone up.
“You want to break that thing with you bound to it?” Zazz asked.
I raised an eyebrow. “Do you know what would happen if I did?” I asked. “I’ve been so worried this whole time that it would kill me or take my powers. And isn’t that funny. Nothing an immortal fears more than dying. We have abilities that let us see more than regular people, but we lose our shit the moment knowledge doesn’t want to serve itself to our brains on a silver platter. And the idea of losing our powers is so bad, we’ll risk being sealed in Madstones and pocket dimensions or inside old men who should have retired years ago but kept flying out helping people.”
“What are you babbling about?” he asked.
I raised the orb-encased Madstone and let him see the effects of the pressure I put on it, warping it with gravity fluctuations and telekinesis and selective bursts of heat. It cracked and then shattered in a burst of luminescence.
The orb around Captain Lightning II disappeared. The Madstone fell to the ground, broken and powerless pieces of rock. I stumbled, feeling gravity on me and feeling sick to my stomach for the first time in I don’t know how long. I ended up on my knees, horn scraping against the floor of the bookstore. I puked up on the floor while Captain Lighting approached from behind. Zazz came forward from the front.
“Is she powerless?” Captain Lightning asked.
“It appears so,” Zazz said. “Are you going to kill her?”
“Are you?” the hero asked.
“It’s tempting. The threat from her is gone. I don’t need to kill her, but I don’t need her alive either…”
“She deserves it, but she’s powerless.”
“What kind of dumb bitch gives up the powers of a god rather than just trap someone else in there?” Zazz asked.
Oh look, a question that made them both pause for a moment.
“That doesn’t matter,” Captain Lightning said. “First, I’m handing her to the police for the murder of a great man, then I’m doing something about you.”
“Hmm,” Zazz said.
With a snap of Zazz’s fingers, flames engulfed me. I was back on my lawn, still on my knees. I eased back onto my haunches to look around and saw Zazz standing by the mailbox, where most of my house’s automatic defenses wouldn’t bother with him. He waved at me. “Let’s call it even for your aid freeing me, I guess. I got to stick it to the successor of the man who locked me up for decades. But don’t you come around me being trouble, you hear?”
I gave him the finger and smiled. “If I’m capable of obtaining and giving up those powers, just what else am I capable of?”
I didn’t need omniscience to see that unnerved him. Zazz disappeared again. I took a moment to make sure no one was watching, then switched the omniscience back on. There we go, all better. Ever wonder if a god can make themselves completely powerless temporarily?
Sickeningly Sweet 5
I told my family. They deserved an explanation better than me ignoring it and keeping a doppelganger around to comfort them every time I popped out of the Madstone. And they knew something was up. Venus and Medusa both reacted pretty badly to the death of Captain Lightning, along with everyone else. However people felt about him alive, he’d been a superhuman institution. And the Unicorn Goddess had killed him.
So first, I pulled myself together enough to appear at home, then I summoned Medusa and Venus to me. Their surprise was quickly replaced with attempts to pummel me in anger and sadness. I was beyond their ability to help me, at least that early on in my escape. They knew it too, and it was Medusa who came to her senses first, grabbing Venus and asking, “Why?”
“Holly told you what’s going on,” I reminded them. I hadn’t left them completely in the dark. “I’ve been trying to get the stone into my possession and release myself. I asked Captain Lightning for help, but he refused because a fight between us would cause widespread damage and he didn’t want to encourage it by helping me. I almost had it, but he got there first and started adjusting the enchantment on the stone. He wanted to permanently seal me inside it. I guess I was no longer the lesser evil.”
They were still crying and processing it. Even with my powers slipping back into the Madstone, I could still have changed their minds and made them understand but I didn’t want that. I don’t want all my relationships to exist because I fucked with people’s heads and made them like me. I still had awhile. “I have at least an hour before I have to return to the Madstone and recover.”
“What?” Venus said.
I snapped my fingers and gave them, as well as my onlooking girlfriend Sam, my side of the experiences on the day I killed Captain Lightning. I won’t brainwash them, but it’s a lot easier to make someone see my point of view when I can literally give them all the knowledge of my point of view.
“I wanted to wait until you’d both attended his funeral. I’m sorry to… I don’t know. Ruining a lot of things, I guess.”
Sam came over and hugged me. Medusa hugged Venus. “Send us back where you got us. We’ll talk later. We need time.”
“I can pop out again in a couple days. I’m just… everything was going so well. Y’all were joking and planning a wedding. People weren’t dying in the streets with a goddess of disease running loose.”
Qiang had come out of her room to watch us. The course of these events had me worried, even saddened. It’s funny. Right back to killing superheroes and getting locked up, only this time it had a great deal more weight to it.
“I could bring him back… provided I get out of this thing. Kinda funny how that works,” the one thing keeping me from bringing him back. Perhaps I should have. It would have been more humane, maybe. Bring him back, wipe out everyone’s knowledge of how things went down, and just make him never think of doing the same thing again. Maybe the next time, after gathering my strength in the Madstone.
“You could go back in time, too,” Sam suggested.
“What are you suggesting?” Venus asked.
Medusa shook her head. “I don’t know if that’s right or wrong even.”
“Who’s to say?” another voice cut in.
We all looked over at someone standing over by Qiang, but who made a show of stepping away. He wore a big, flappy yellow zoot suit and a wide-brimmed hat tilted back to show off the horn nubs on his forehead. He was clearly a demon, judging from the red skin and the fire burning in his eyes. “Call me Zazz; rhymes with jazz.”
It wasn’t his real name. He raised a finger topped with a black, pointy fingernail. “Uh, uh. No looking up a person’s name. You’ll use up the goodwill I have toward you for pissing off so many of my fellow fiends.”
What’s even the point of omniscience anymore if every Tom, Dick, and Harry has a way to circumvent it?
“What do you want, Zazz?” I asked. Qiang quietly palmed a knife. Venus, Medusa, and Sam were also getting ready for a fight, with Sam inching toward a lamp.
“I want to thank you for what you’ve done to ruin the plans of some of my rival demons,” he said with a smile. A too-white smile.
I shook my head. “No thank you. Especially time travel.” I raised a hand to wave him off, letting the palm glow a little as a threat.
Zazz winked. “Think about it. I’ll be in touch.” He disappeared in poof of smoke that cleared away.
“Well, I don’t trust him,” I told the family. After a moment, I added, “ I know things are fucked up, so I’ll send people elsewhere or just leave if y’all don’t want to, but can I spend some time with y’all before I get tossed back into the Madstone?”
Despite everything, we had a nice couple of hours together before they watched me pulled back into my prison. I rested up, little by little, because I needed all of my strength. It was time to stop fucking around and giving anyone any chances. I’ve been lazy. I’ve relied on senses that are nowhere near as powerful as I thought they were, and which are only getting weaker. And I subtly made everyone who knew forget about my spare bodies I could project my consciousness into.
So, emotions done. Riddles put off for now. Time for work, after a brief refractory period to regain my power. Once upon a time, I’d visited the pocket dimension created out of the remains of the entity Mr. Omega. I absorbed part of his essence to obtain my power, but other pieces of him gained various levels of existence in the dimension and went to war with each other. One that I spoke with explained it all to me in boring exposition before offering to escape with me by letting me absorb him and his power, in the hopes he would manipulate me from inside.
I’ve reached a part where that factors into a couple different plans I have. I appeared back in the Omega dimension.
I saw skies of red. Red roses, too. I saw them bloom for me and a herd of felines with antlers that looked up at me. Looked like miniscule shards of Omega’s core had joined with some felines. Barely any Omega energy there, really.
The place was a lot less warlike than I remember. I made damn sure to use my omniscience there and saw that the various Lesser Omegas that looked like copies of the original had settled into a stalemate. Some hibernated, others cultivated their lands and the life growing there, and the one I came to see had become an avid observer of the wildlife spawned by all those various shards joining with the discarded debris of the multiverse.
He appeared near me, a crimson man wearing a laurel of leaves and a toga. “Dammit,” I said, “Everyone’s gone hippie!”
He examined me for a minute, a minute of my power… not slipping away. I needed to test if this applied to other dimensions or just this little one my powers were associated with. It was refreshing to not be on a time limit. I just have to either drag my whole family away from their lives, or live apart from them here in a land full of nothing but the essence of a colossal cockthistle who I hate. The only way this could get worse was if it turned out Florida was immune to the Madstone’s pull.
“I once called you sister, but you’ve grown and changed,” the Lesser Omega said upon breaking the silence. “You are little like us.”
“Last time I was here, it was all war and gloom. Looks like the rest of you changed,” I said. It would almost be a shame to take his power for myself.
“This world has flourished into a peaceful world of burgeoning new life, unburdened by the grudges and conflicts of our past greater self. I have been watching to see how the world grows, what wonders arise,” he answered.
“So, remember that deal you once offered, giving up your power to me…?” I nudged him.
He tossed the toga and laurel aside. “I am ready when you are. This is the most boring place in the multiverse.”
“What’s this? Surrendering, are we?” asked someone else. It was another Omega clad in blackened armor with a green sheen on it. “If you wanted to die, you could have come to me.”
“Who’s this anal swizzle?” I asked the scholarly Omega.
“That is a more warlike aspect. He’s disappointed no one wants to fight anymore and tries to goad us,” that Omega answered.
“I’d like a fight, but you can let me kill you instead!” the armored Omega declared, materializing a spear in his hands.
“You know, it’s not the outside that matters so much as what’s inside,” I noted. With a flick of my hands, small dimensional portals separated his head from his body, then scattered pieces of his body to other dimensions. It left an irregular core there, what is known on my planet as an Omega Pearl. I approached it and laid my hands on it, absorbing his power into me.
The scholarly Omega backed away. “He’s gone.”
I nodded to him. “Yeah.”
That Omega shook his head. “No, he’s truly gone. Not even a personality inside you.”
I shrugged. I felt more powerful, but it was hard to tell if I was any douchier than before. I’m already pretty douchy.
“I am rethinking what we discussed before,” he said.
“Are you sure?” I asked. “You said this place was boring.”
“I imagine being dead is more boring,” he said.
“Good thinking. You should use that imagination thing more. This place could use some sprucing up.” I looked around. Most of the world was an unblemished wilderness, with the Omegas barely even creating shelter to live in. “Have you ever heard of Minecraft? Might give you some ideas.” I created a laptop with the game for him, letting him see it.
Mr. Omega had been banished back before people realized the Earth was round. These guys could use something telling them to build and develop.
The scholarly Omega leaned in and tried pressing buttons on the laptop. After a few tries, he figured a few things out and was playing around in it. After a minute, I realized he’d become less aware of my existence. I left a few more laptops for the rest, as well as a server for the bunch, all under a sign reading, “Get your creative juices flowing.”
Then it was back to the Madstone, now with twice the power at my disposal for when I hop out and murder my best friend’s girlfriend. I want to make sure that what comes next isn’t a fight, but a murder.
Sickeningly Sweet 3
“Why not just destroy the Madstone?” people might reasonably ask. Because knowledge is power. And it’s about time I keep this damn omniscience going. And seeing how so much stuff is apparently omniscience-proof nowadays, I sent my minions, Bambi and Winnie-the-Pooh, out to meet with a few parties on my behalf in case of such hidden knowledge. Because of his inherent distrust of humanity, I sent Bambi to speak with the Faustus/Hephaestus organization. They’ve been fucking around with magical artifacts for awhile. It’s a weak lead, but being a god is no time for hubris.
Winnie is much more personable, despite being a large brown bear. People love talking animals. I sent him to go have a word with Captain Lightning I and his apprentice, Captain Lightning II. Captain Lightning I always treated me pretty nice considering our differences, going back to our first real run-in with him being under the control of Spinetingler. Spinetingler is a horror-themed villain who uses his limited reality-warping abilities to turn people into monsters. He managed to beat Captain Lightning and turn him into an evil minion. Ever since then, Lightning’s been oddly understanding. I think it goes back to his service in World War II. He had to fight alongside the people who divided up Poland with the Nazis, after all.
So Captain Lightning gets the friendly bear. Getting them there was easily. I modified the Dimensional Bomb technology with what I’ve spied on about the portals on Earth. Weakening the walls between universes can lead to permanent breaches and links. The Madstone limited my apparently not-so-omniscience to its confines unless I used my dimensional breach technology to reach the real world. It worked just fine out there. That let me hunt down the temple the Faustuss people were operating out of now.
Beneath a decrepit former Blockbuster was a temple, recently carved because Faustus/Hephaestus wanted something old-looking. Faustus was the side handling the magical items, and they’d been the more powerful branch for awhile when Hephaestus got infiltrated by a vigilante who seized power and used their resources in a personal vendetta. Hephaestus is back in line, and has their own storage and operations in the temple.
So the temple had both magical defenses and automatic gun turrets with guard robot dogs that all activated when the magical portal appeared. Seeing as they still see clients in such places, these defenses didn’t open fire. They just readied themselves. I wouldn’t have dropped off Bambi if he was going to get shot as soon as he appeared.
Bambi clopped out, twin laser turrets tracking the temple and the weapons he recognized. “I’m here to bargain!” he declared.
Most of the defenses went dormant again and a Hephaestus salesman wizard in a business robe stepped out. “What can we do for you, Mr…?”
“Bambi,’ the deer said.
The salesmage did a doubletake. “Come again?”
“I am Bambi of the forest, sent on behalf of the Unicorn Goddess in search of knowledge,” the deer responded.
“Is this-” he started to ask.
A copy of my head appeared floating in the air next to Bambi and told him, “This is not a joke. Bambi is here as my agent, to obtain information and negotiate the payment you will ask from me.”
I left to go do more important stuff before he could ask why I wasn’t meeting with the himself. I got shit to do.
For instance, Captain Lightning I was waiting in an ancient tower on a mountain that wasn’t entirely in any dimension. I “pinged” him of a sort. I used an obvious scrying spell, one he would easily be able to detect, then opened the portal there more slowly. Winnie ambled out on all fours, wearing a harness packed with plastic jugs of honey. Some were a gift to Captain Lightning from Winnie and the rest were for his own enjoyment.
“Hello!” Winnie greeted Captain Lightning.
The old man, and he was looking his age more and more these days, smiled and shook his head. “Gecko sent you.”
“Yes. We need some help. I can share some honey with you if you would like to talk,” Winnie offered.
Captain Lightning guffawed. “Come here, Pooh. Tell me what brings you here?”
I, on the other hand, used my powers to examine the Madstone more thoroughly. When I first summoned it, I found out about its pocket dimension. But back in the beginning…
The name of the tribe is now lost. Despite the stereotypes, Native Americans aren’t all magic, but one of them learned from some of the Three Hares who settled here. These supers and aliens pretending at godhood had some mages in their ranks, and some mingled with the native tribes of this half of the world. One of them learned from them and learned that they were wide-open gaping assholes. He knew people like that. Some day, they would be a threat. Power requires care, or it would turn on those who gave it up.
He worked carefully, trying over and over, until he found a way to enchant a simple stone to trap people with those powers. He didn’t find out how superpowers connect to people, necessarily… pretty sure the guy didn’t have to worry about radioactive gamma goop and bioengineering back then, which was also why powers were more rare. But they existed, and he tapped into their wellspring to make a stone sphere that would hold them within it. And if it held them, then it stood to reason it had to be a place. The brilliant son of a gun made the pocket dimension without truly realizing what he’d done. With today’s knowledge at his fingertips, he could have pulled off some crazy shit.
The man himself died of plague. It was another couple hundred years before Clara arrived, so the blame isn’t hers. Her husband had been something of an explorer who encountered a mysterious mushroom, taller than a cabin and pulsing red. He didn’t realize it had grown from an old battlefield where powerful superhumans had died. He’d destroyed it as an abomination without realizing he’d been infected. He died shortly after arriving home and passing it on to his wife who reacted differently, taking on a symbiotic relationship with it that mutated her and the fungus. It empowered her for more than just fungi.. She didn’t fully understand what had happened to her. The link between microbes and disease wasn’t figured out by this bunch of humans until after she was imprisoned in the Madstone. Maybe if she hadn’t been, it would have happened sooner.
Soon after Clara’s husband died, her landlord tried to force himself on the widow. She was now more than a match physically and beat him down. As an afterthought, she decided to give him a bout of the Black Plague. Thing is, she liked having power for once. With her money, she decided she’d start over new and be someone in the New World. She built her own cottage outside of town, drawing suspicions from people about possibly being a witch, when a hunter stopped in for some sustenance after having rifled through the forgotten remnants of a Native village. The hunter tried to help himself to Clara as well, and was only saved when he tried to hit her across the temple with the Madstone. She disappeared and he just thought something fucking weird happened. He spent the final two months of his life with some crazy diseases she’d inflicted on him, including venereal. I wish my omniscience hadn’t shown me what his junk looked like.
Some con artist found the stone and decided to sell it as a cure-all, demonstrating it on someone who was getting sick after being bitten by a wild dog. It worked.
And here we get to the mage’s mistake. Well, more of an oversight he didn’t realize. The Madstone needed a way to vent the powers it contained and this is not good for me. In much the same way computers can be unforgiving to someone who tells them what to do without really thinking about it, an assumption led to something of a huge potential change.
With the artifact known to cure rabies, that’s what people tried to use it for. And they did. It allowed the mundane people holding it to access the powers of the superhuman trapped within. They could have cured or caused any disease, but they never realized what they had access to. Occasionally, someone who touched it disappeared entirely and was never seen again. By that point, Clara’s mental health wasn’t that good and she’d turned the pocket dimension inside into her own laboratory of rot and disease. She didn’t even realize most of those who disappeared were here in the first place. Unless they were gifted with immunity to disease and a handy ability to blow up plague animals, they died quickly.
Later, the Madstone became a pharmacological, alchemical, and magical oddity in folklore. Then Mix N’Max decided to look for it, interested in how the stone cured people and what else it could do. And now there’s a woman running around with an object that I’m technically trapped within and which, if touched by someone without powers, could potentially allow them to use my powers. So that’s a lovely thing to find out. I barely trust myself like this; I sure as goose shit don’t trust other people with these abilities. They might be some sort of psychopath.
The dossier Bambi came back with from Faustus/Hephaestus didn’t provide any greater context except that Faustus was interested in buying it as a cure for rabies and study to find out if it had any better applications. One part they left out of their files was they had identified a list of faith healing frauds and TV show faux doctors who might buy it.
Captain Lightning was more on the money. “It is a trap that allows someone to use the powers of the superhuman trapped inside it, theorized to contain a great healer that no one knows how to free.”
I popped in while he and Winnie were sitting around enjoying a loaf of bread and honey. “Well, she is free. Turns out you can get out if someone sufficiently powerful wanders in and it spends all its energy trying to hold them.” I gestured to myself. “It couldn’t account for advanced technology, but I still feel its constant pull.”
Captain Lightning’s thin grey eyebrows rose. “She’s out and you are in?”
I nodded. “So someone without superpowers could touch it and be able to do anything I can.”
He got serious in a hurry. “We have to get you out of there.” He helped himself up using a gnarled old wooden staff that looked like it had grown around crystals.
“And we’ll have to do something about her, because she’s a nasty piece of work as well,” I said.
“What’s she done?” he asked.
“She escaped and left me in it. When I confronted her, she tried to trap me in it and she nearly killed a bunch of people around,” I explained.
Captain Lightning looked at me, then shook his head. “I cannot help you fight her, and must recommend you don’t. If she is near your level, the Earth must not risk a war between gods that could destroy it.”
“I can just undo all the damage anyway,” I said.
Lightning’s eyes narrowed. “And what if you don’t? What if you take advantage of it to make changes as a loophole? You turned your life around, but it was not a clean journey. I know the temptations that come with great power.”
I scoffed. “I expected better from you, old man.”
Captain Lightning almost seemed hurt. As if he was the one trapped in a rock here! “I would be happy to mediate and keep the peace. It would be irresponsible to aid you in a war that could destroy the world.”
I shook my head and snapped my fingers, returning to the Madstone with Winnie in tow. Bambi looked up from nibbling on some grasses.
“What do we do now?” Winnie asked.
“We’re going to toss Pestilentia back into this stone and be done with her. Or we shatter the Madstone and her head.”
“Shatter?” Bambi asked.
“Hardly knew ‘er,“ I responded.
Sickeningly Sweet 2
Holly and I sat near each other, toes in the water of a stream that glowed with harmless neon fish. I’d made sure the wind wouldn’t be too cool, and that the weather was a pleasant, warm summer’s night. I had remade the world to get rid of all the rot and disease that had been everywhere. My powers were contained in this Madstone, but they were still fully functional within it.
It had taken only a moment to do all that, and replace many of the animals with enhanced versions. Nature was a techno-biological fusion. Worms with drills and filters snatched up by birds with rotary wings, who get snatched out the air by a falcon with jet engines.
I did not devote a lot of focus to that. One of the first things I did instead was try to open up a dimensional breach to get Holly and me back out. It didn’t work. I created a replica of the communication devices I used back before I had phenomenal cosmic power. Bam, right back to having internet, TV shows, and various satellite spy cameras. They showed things moving more quickly. Mix N’Max and the goddess who had been trapped in here before me were finding their around Empyreal City.
The goddess, Clara, had swapped her furs and ribbons for an old-timey dress that looked like a colorful Amish design. She was looking at the sights of Empyreal City and the fashions of the people; Max was looking for some street food to eat. Then they were fighting. Then things exploded. Everything was going more quickly that it should have. Time was slowed down in the Madstone compared to the outside world.
I kept an eye on them and set to work. First, I sped up time within the Madstone to match that outside. They’d gotten a headstart on us, but now they wouldn’t gain ground. Then I started creating the pieces I needed for a dimensional bomb. Yep, that lovely piece of technology that shaped my life was going to save me once again. Whoever created the Madstone built it well back in an age before computers, nuclear bombs, carbon nanotubes, and robotics.
I got a little distracted around the time Holly decided to go for a swim, so I temporarily sped time up further in the Madstone. Cut to Holly and I sitting on the bank of a river. She laid her head on my shoulder and I put my arm around her, holding her close to comfort her. Holly broke the silence with a question: “Are we going to have to populate this entire world?”
I laughed. “No. I wouldn’t mind at all if I had to with you.”
“That’s sweet. Trying to marry me too?” We both laughed at her joke.
After a little bit, I normalized time again and continued the build, ending up with a Dimension Bomb precise enough to bring Holly and I out.
Unlike Max and his friend, I had control over where I popped out. I landed in Empyreal City nearby, feeling like I was being dragged toward them. It was the pull of the Madstone. It had some hold on me and wanted me back. I jammed my hand into the road to stop myself.
“What did this street ever do to you?” Holly asked.
“I feel a strong pull toward the stone,” I explained.
She pointed to where the woman floated over, now taking to the air in a more modern dress, flowing ribbons trailing far into the air behind her from where they were tied around her knees and elbows. Max jogged to keep up and waved. “Hey!”
“Hey,” Holly said as we both waved back.
“That bitch just trapped me in that rock,” I said, pointing between the other goddess and the rock that Max had in a pouch.
“What?” Max wondered. It seemed sarcastic with the grin he always wears.
“How did you get out?” she asked. She looked between Max and I, then smirked. “It wants you back.”
“How about you undo this lasso and I’ll let you live?” I offered.
“It’s the stone, not me,” Clara answered. “It can take those with superpowers, but it holds on to certain powerful beings. Gods, like us. You won’t be free unless you find someone else to take your place.” She raised a hand. The pouch flew off Max’s hip and burst apart with the Madstone flying at me. I disappeared. The stone curved around, reminding me of a magic bullet I dealt with recently. It came back for Clara. I reached around from behind her and held her tight.
“Is it gone yet?” I asked, amused. My playfulness disappeared when Clara shrunk down to the size of bacteria. I’d have just burned her, but I had the Madstone coming for me. I activated superspeed and raced around the planet, coming back to the same spot from the opposite direction.
Holly gasped for air as veins bulged red on her throat. Curious, unintelligent, and curiously unintelligent onlookers were experiencing the same symptoms along with eyes rolling back and people collapsing. I used my omniscience to notice the area was flooded with a deadly strain of a fast-acting fungal spore that colonized veins and grew in deoxygenated blood. I saw to them first, healing everyone. The human immune system was helpless in the face of this divine fungus cultivated for generations in a pocket dimension. Before long, the veins on everyone stopped bulging and they were normalizing. I had to account for potential embolisms. I gave her a hug before teleporting her off to the house with the rest of the family.
I still had work to do. Max and Clara were gone, along with the Madstone. My omniscience would only tell me that Max concocted a serum that would allow them both to hide from me. Amazing how I never found all these anti-omniscience things before I had the ability. But back then, how would I have known? If something like this captured me before my ascension, I’d have used the same sorts of methods to escape but without ever feeling anchored to it.
I had to smile though. I still felt the pull. I manifested some spy drones that followed the pull across the entire world. I manifested spy drones along the entire corridor, knowing they wouldn’t have to go any further than about halfway around the globe.
“What did you do that for? You don’t want to escalate with Gecko. She will go too far. If you stop being a bitch, I can talk to her and protect you.” Max said near some of my little pet drones.
“I’m not going back in the Madstone,” she said. “It’s a terrible joke. All the power in the world, but it’s a trapped world where you’re alone except for life you create.”
“I understand, and it was an amazing world. You’re amazing,” Max told her. “Gecko is clever. She will find a way out, but antagonizing her will not work for you. Let me go somewhere and present myself. I can speak to her and clear all of this up. Whatever else, she’s my friend and she’s reasonable.”
I was, of course, waiting outside the door when it opened. I saw a shadow, but whatever he’d doused himself with didn’t let me see or hear him. The drones, little floating silver orbs with blades sticking out of them, got around it because they aren’t me. They’re electronic devices. Mere tools, like fire or a death ray.
“Hi!” I said, not bothering to look at the towel floating through the air.
It floated up, the shadow wiping at its head, then Max’s face appeared. He wore a more conciliatory and subdued smile. “Hey Gecko. I’m sorry for Clara, she panicked.”
“Oh, is that what she did? She nearly killed Holly. A bunch of other people too, but mainly Holly. I cured her and the others.”
Max shook his head. “I didn’t know about that. She grabbed me and left. We don’t want any trouble.”
“Tell me what happened,” I said. I could tell what happened. I wanted to hear how he chose to tell it. I was running out time as well, Part of that was time to calm my own anger. Maybe the Reindeer part of me was helping with that, same way she cared more about all the non-Holly people than I did back in Empyreal City. Part of it was to calm her down as well. She was watching as well, and if she saw me being reasonable, then maybe she’d realize she should calm the fuck down and not drown the world in mountains of pestilence.
In my head, I’d already nicknamed her Pestilentia.
“I touched the stone and ended up there. A mushroom nearly ate me, but I exploded it. I harvested the pieces and was experimenting on the wildlife when Clara found me. She was so happy to see another person, and an attractive man, that she almost raped me. She had been in there so long, isolated, that news of the outside world fascinated her. We formed something of a bond. It felt like we were in there for weeks.”
“Time ran differently inside it,” I noted.
“Makes sense,” he shrugged. “We’re like a couple. I don’t know if you can put a name to it when we just got out of that situation.”
“I get you,” I reassured him. My girlfriend is helping plan a wedding to a woman from the past who is my baby daddy and her present self who is my ex. At some point, strict relationship labels fail.
“She has been trapped alone in the Madstone for like 200 years. She felt threatened and lashed out. You understand that, right?”
I nodded. “Well, I don’t really control the world in the traditional sense, but it’s more or less under my protection or domain, I guess? And as an all-powerful god, I’m trying to practice tolerance and patience for the… beings who live here.” You ever want to call someone a pitiful lesser being and then remember all your loved ones who are the same beings and think otherwise? Damn Reindeer and my better nature asserting itself.
“I ask you, please, to give her a chance,” Max urged. His face shifted slightly.
And I was back in the Madstone. He was probably reacting to seeing Clara make her move. The landscape of my cyber-biological Eden was dark and stormy, with lightning shooting down to strike battery trees that shifted the charge to the rest of the grove with smaller zaps between them. The lightning cleared up in a hurry, as if the stone was comforted to have me in its grasp again.
For dramatic effect, I called the beasts of the forest to me. There was a fearsome bear with a pot of honey. “Are we going on an adventure? I would like to hunt a woozle again.”
A roe deer approached and snorted. “The He is fiercer, but there is always one stronger, Winnie-the-Pooh.”
“It’s a she this time, Bambi,” I told the deer. “And while she’s an enemy, she’s not as important an enemy as this Madstone that imprisons us. Open war could be bring disease upon the planet while I try and deal with her and this thing.”
“What are we here for?” Winnie asked.
“I’m going to use you to contact some people out there, both so I don’t have the constant drain on me, and because people like talking animals. I think there’s some folks who would respond better to y’all alerting them to Pestilentia than if I showed up and asked them to intervene. Especially because it would sound hypocritical to former enemies I asked to trust me with god powers.”
“What if they shoot at us?” Bambi asked.
With a wave of my hand, I gave him a pair of solar-powered lasers on turrets strapped to his sides, and told him, “Then shoot back.”
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