Tag Archives: Shokushu

Two Tickets to Paradise 11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Where are you, by the Burger King?”

“We’re at the casino.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What is this, Ouroboros?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Undying dragon my ass.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What? I hit a touchy subject.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I held his shattered skull.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Douche.

Next

Previous

Advertisements

Two Tickets to Paradise 8

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

Torrent just shook his head.

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

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

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

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

“Hello?” came a tired female voice.

“Boopsie!”

“Fuck.”

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

She hung up.

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

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

“Paradise City cleared of gangs.”

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

“Not asking after the price first?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“They’ll never go for it.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Our plan should reflect this change in priorities.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Next

Previous

Two Tickets to Paradise 7

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Torrent immediately began ordering the security staff around.

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

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

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

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

Next

Previous