Tag Archives: Technolutionary

Capital Chaos 2

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Okily dokily, folks. I had Priscilla Powers, daughter of Senator Powers, both of whom exhibited an odd trait of being appropriately named for their involvement in all this. And despite kidnapping the daughter of a Senator, I didn’t even make the biggest splash in news.

Nah, that was the big battle between Terrorjaw, the human-shark of the seven seas, versus Kelly Kaiju, the growing man. The official story is that Kaiju went fishing for Terrorjaw to put an end to his evil, ship-interdicting ways. Terrorjaw’s a bit of a pirate, you see. I asked him about it once, but he said he preferred torrents to raiding boats.

The unofficial story, as spread in The Order Forums and on Outlaw X, the underworld pirate radio show, is that fans of Kaiju got together to make him a giant bologna sandwich. He dropped it in the water, tried to get it out real quick, and found Terrorjaw clamped down on the other end. As sometimes happens when someone steals a lunch, war were declared.

On the one hand, Terrorjaw was punching a little out of his weight-class, but Kaiju is a one-trick pony. Terrorjaw has one hell of a bite, but Kaiju can lay some major brute-force smackdown if he hits someone. Kaiju lost a finger or two, but ended up skipping Terrorjaw like a stone. Authorities in the UK have been put on alert.

The report of a kidnapping seemed small potatoes next to two people running into each other and randomly getting into a fight. That’s what sells newspapers, though, and it’s guaranteed that the press are going to give this matter a huge amount of attention any day now.

She is a missing white woman. I’m half surprised that twat Nancy Grace hasn’t deafened half the nation yelling at them through their TV sets to find Priscilla.

I mentioned a speech last time, and that’s because I wanted to chat with our friend Senator Powers. But first, I think I owe y’all an explanation. See, this whole superhuman registration thing, it’s just stupid. Accident of birth, or just accident around radiation, and someone now has to register with the government? At least gun owners gave others a reason to be worried, namely the desire to own a weapon.

Aside from that, it’s also just stupid as hell to trust that some government database of superheroes can remain a secret. That’s the sort of thing that separates real conspiracies, like the coup planned against Franklin Delano Roosevelt, from the fake ones, like the moon landing. The former was broken up when the business executives planning the entire thing trusted the wrong person, who turned them all over. The latter has never been proven, despite requiring the silence of hundreds of people in NASA, the rest of the executive branch, the astronomy community, the Soviet Union, independent observers, and anyone who fires a laser at the lunar laser ranging array left up there.

Two can keep a secret, so long as one of them is dead. Which means harassed or dead heroes when the list gets out, and possibly people kidnapping supers for their own diabolical purposes. I don’t want that. I want supers for MY diabolical purposes. And I don’t want some alien invasion to get a heads-up on where to find all the superhumans that could potentially oppose them.

As Abraham Lincoln once said, “If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it, and if I could save it by smacking peanut butter on my genitals and running around backwards I would do that,” or something. Truly, he was a man after my own heart. Lincoln, gimme five!

Speaking of five dollar bills, I had to make it very clear to Senator Powers that money couldn’t buy back his daughter. Only one thing could do that: the reversal of his support for this idiotic law.

I sent Moai to drop off a tablet I gutted and modified to allow a single video call. Then I called up the Senator and ignored his questions and other attempts to draw out the conversation. I know the average time for police and the FBI to trace a phone call, but now we’re talking the full might of the Senate Subcommittee on Homeland Security and whatever else they oversee. Homeland Security and Sandwich Standards. They might have a trick or two to trace calls more quickly.

I’m sure they wanted to take their time, examine it, look for prints and all that. Funny thing about fingerprints, you can lift them off all sorts of things. Like stolen watches and phones. That’d be a dead end, but I also called five minutes after they took it from the drop site.

“Hello, hello!” I said into the camera held by Technolutionary, remotely monitoring it myself to see how he framed me. “Make sure you’re getting my bad side.”

I let them get a good look at me in my grey and orange armor. Strips of armor curved in like a V to meet a central chest and spine piece. A helmet with a visor dipped in the middle to look like it glared, with the visor continuing to a pair of horns like a jester’s cap. The third such horn stuck out from my the front, over the visor. The helmet was grey, with the throat and visor orange. The vertical plates were orange as well, going into an orange starburst around the neck. I know I still call them gloves, but my handware is more like grey with orange barbed wiring used to project the energy sheath.

The pants were made of an orange nanomaterial that can’t easily be penetrated by blade or bullet, with grey armor plates, braces, and pseudomuscles held in it. Boots were orange and grey, not particularly armored except the usual stab and shot resistance. I painted eyes and teeth onto the front of them as if I had skulls up there, but they didn’t look too special from the outside.

In short, while I can look like anybody, the armor was distinctly Psycho Gecko. And then I added a wide-brimmed straw hat, a pair of swim trunks, a Hawaiian shirt, and hung a camera around my neck. I’m a tourist in this town, after all. “Good morning, TV land. This is the one, the only, the Great and Devious Psycho Gecko here to show you our dear Priscilla.” I stepped out of the way to show where Priscilla sat in a wood chair, tied down.

“You monster, if you-!” the Senator started from his end.

I waved my hand. “Mute!” The tablet on his end obeyed and he shut up. “This is merely to let you know we have your daughter. Your lovely little daughter.” I knelt beside her and ran a few fingers over her cheek. She flinched away, then turned and tried to bite my fingers. I grabbed one of the offending incisors and yanked it out, causing her to sit back and yell in pain. I walked over to the tablet and held it up so everyone could get a good look at the tooth and its root. “See that? Not easy to get the whole thing out like that. Takes a bit of practice, though she has plenty if I needed more. Truth is, it’s not like it’s important to have her in one piece.” I tilted the tablet down so it focused on her missing lower legs, then tilted it back up to me.

“Asshole! Tore out my toof!” she yelled behind me.

“The tooth hurts!” I called back to her, then added, “You want the tooth? Well you can’t handle the tooth!” And I tossed the incisor away. Stepping over to the side, I retrieved a limb I’d put together just for her. A three-clawed lower leg. “But you might be able to handle this little baby. Don’t worry, daddy dearest, she’ll get top of the line prosthetics. Superhuman, even. I’ll even throw in a little bonus, give her some extra oomph so she’s guaranteed to be on your little list. Just to keep you honest, just to make sure that you’re not advocating anything you wouldn’t do to your own daughter. Supposing she survives, that’s when you’ll get her back.”

“From my heart and from my hand, why don’t people understand my intention? Heh. This message will self destruct in ten seconds.” I cut the feed, activating the five second self destruct on the tablet I sent them. Why not lie? Besides, whoever’s holding that thing probably won’t die. They might lose their hands, but they’ve got pretty good healthcare. Probably. Eh, not my concern.

“Go fuck yourself!” Priscilla spouted at me and Technolutionary.

“Temper!” Technolutionary told her.

I grabbed the chair I stuck her in and carried it over to the table Technolutionary prepared for the procedure. I lifted her up high, then slammed her down back-first, breaking the chair and stunning her momentarily. I strapped her down and pulled the pieces out of the way.

“Everything is in readiness, Gecko, we merely await your command.” Technolutionary said, pulling over a cart with his equipment on it. The main thing seemed to be a trio of intravenous bags. They didn’t look all that remarkable. No strange colors. No glowing.

“So you’re going the chemical route?” I asked.

He nodded. “Cybernetic integration is rough on human physiology. The immune system rejects the foreign bodies and attacks them. Rather than suppress the entire immune system, I have developed a virus that suppresses it only where the implants work. I believe I found a way to utilize the virus for converting all her cells with a slight gene modification.”

“You’re going to do something to my DNA?” Priscilla asked.

I reached over and patted her on the forehead. “We’re going to make you better. Better than this, better than human.”

She shook her head. “You don’t have to do this! We have money! We’ll give you whatever you want.”

I covered her mouth with my hand. “I want silence right now. And I want you to survive this. You’re not helping either right now, and I can assure you that your cries for help mean nothing to us. Now, would you care for a ball gag?” I held up one I planned to use for muffling her slightly. Eyes wide, she shook her head. “Your loss,” I said, tossing it away. Instead, she just whimpered as Technolutionary swabbed her arm and inserted an IV line.

I had Moai bring over a TV and hang it on the wall at her feet, while I brought her a pillow. I unsealed my helmet and pulled it off so I could look her in the eyes and tell her, “It’s ok. You’re scared, but we aren’t going to kill you. Hell, a change like this, you’d have to be crazy not to be scared…which may explain something about my species. Well, your species too before long. And we won’t let you down. We’re villains, remember? We know a few tricks for staying alive when everyone wants us dead. I’m Psycho Gecko, after all. If there’s anyone who could fight off Death, it might just be me.”

So began the transformation.

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Capital Chaos 1

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As much as Empyreal City loves to celebrate the New Year, with the giant dropping discoball, I didn’t stick around for the festivities. I had a good excuse, too. See, New Year’s parties are a great time for people to go out in public and enjoy themselves with lots of drinking and stuff. Technolutionary was mildly disappointed, too, but I don’t think he really had a lot in mind. If I recall, I did have to stop the guy from ventilating his cranium during the holidays.

He came with me, as did Moai. I also changed up my appearance so Technolutionary didn’t connect me to Norma. Unfortunately, it led him to try and put the moves on me. He insisted, and still insists, that he and I would obviously make a good couple. He even hinted about populating my species once he’s sure the process works on himself.

Sure, sure, repopulation. Let’s take sex, and instead of the pleasure, we make it all about duty, obligation, and squirtin’ out babies. That’s a recipe for a good time. Given his usual level of enthusiasm, I decided to make sure he didn’t have anything to do with my meal and drink preparation. Most people wouldn’t dare try that on me, but this guy is just delusional enough to try something because he assumes he deserves sex with me.

Anyway, I left Empyreal City ahead of 2016 because, much like using the female body as a disguise, I wanted to take advantage of the transition. Washington parties it up on New Year’s all the more for being full of wealthy, powerful people. So after getting myself and my associates moved into a floor of a lovely and discreet hotel. Crash chose well, though I suspect Fortune Cookie helped her. Not sure how I feel about my personal assistant getting help from her. Then again, it’s probably not that hard to find a hotel in this city that’s willing to keep secrets. That goes hand in hand with being the home to some of the wealthiest and most powerful men in the United States.

I’m talking hookers. I’m talking cocaine. No matter what’s going on, I’ll guarantee you the word “blow” comes up. And that’s the best case scenario. If a politician isn’t fucking someone, they’re probably fucking their country instead. Though that leaves out the various aides, lobbyists, and dignitaries who also like pushing Little Willie down the slip ‘n slide.

But enough about the seedy underbelly of people you don’t want to imagine the underbellies of. I had to go find a way to worm my way into the private life of a Senator.

Hey, I know what y’all are thinking, but it’s more innocent than that. I got into the email of his staff and found out they were preparing for a New Year’s Eve party on a boat called the Spirit of Washington. It wasn’t technically Senator Powers’s party. Instead, a private security firm was having a party and named him the Guest of Honor. Contributors, aides, supporters, and family; many of them were asked to attend as a gesture of gratitude. I needed a way to get in, and I needed a nice dress. That’s one area where having Technolutionary came in handy. I sent him out to shop for me and it turned out as well as I expected.

I knew the easiest way to insert myself into the situation, and it involved exactly the sort of outfit Technolutionary wanted to see me wear. Then I camped out the dock where the partygoers embarked the Spirit of Washington. I thought I had a mark when this chubby guy with curly hair and an untrimmed mustache showed up, but then this smoking blonde ran over to him and gave him one of the grossest kisses I’ve ever seen. I don’t mean gross because of his physical appearance. I mean a raunchy, over-the-top kiss with tongues and hands flying everywhere.

Well, good for him. Made my job harder, until I ran across a really skinny guy hauled along as the third wheel with a couple. The woman in the first couple glanced at her phone and they then stood around, waiting. The third wheel drifted off a little to give them some space, at which point I approached him.

“Hey there. Kinda sucks, getting pulled along in all this. By the way, my name’s Candy.” I held out my hand. He looked at it, then shook.

“Terrence. You’re with the party?” he asked, looking over my slit dress and high heels.

I shrugged. “You could say I’m working. Don’t worry, I’m not assuming you’re buying. But you look like you could use a reason to get away from…” I flopped a hand in the direction of the couple.

He looked between me and his friends. “Pretend I hired a pros-…call…escort? What would they think?”

“Lucky Terrence, probably. You could even pretend you don’t realize it, so that when I slip away to do what I’m here to do, you can act all heartbroken. ‘Oh, poor Terrence. He’s too good for this sinful life.’ And you use their sympathy and be like, ‘I think I’m going to go home early. Somebody, fetch me a lifeboat.’ Problem solved. I won’t even charge you.”

So, in the end, I got onto the boat…on the arm of some sleazy asshole with gropey hands that approached me after Terrence turned me down. Darn human dignity.

I had trouble getting away from Hanz Assengroper, so I invited him to a bathroom on the yacht and left him there with his own hand sticking out of his throat. Out of common courtesy, I left an “Out of Order” sign on the door. He made quite a smell when his bowels dropped, and it’d be rude to let someone just waltz into that mess.

Not that waltzing was the dance of choice at this party. More a matter of a few young people hopping around while the older money exchanged pats on the back and crinkly handshakes.

Actually, that’s not completely accurate. I shouldn’t sell them short. They didn’t need to hide the money like some common drug dealer. They just exchanged checks made out to Super PACS. After all, he got this nice yacht party, with catering and a DJ, and didn’t have to pay a cent. One guy even invited him to see the new private airport screening methods his company used in Hawaii. Of course, it’d be rude not to comp the Senator a brief hotel stay while he was down there doing his job. But don’t dare bribe the Senator; that would be illegal. Oh look, more than $100,000 in door prizes to be handed out at the party. I’m sure the Senator will be no luckier than any other man when the cash prizes come up.

Free of the ass I rode in on, I wandered around and tried to spot Powers’ daughter. She was supposed to have been dragged along to this event, which got me to wondering if people in wheelchairs like going on boats. Might be something to explore sometime if I use that as a disguise sometime. At the very least, it gave me another point of identification to find her. Or it would have, but I couldn’t find the damn girl.

I checked the place over for the third time when I stopped to ask a suited security guard, “Excuse me, sir, but I’m looking for Priscilla Powers?” I held up a cell phone. “She dropped this, and I’m just trying to get it back to her.”

“Ma’am, any lost items should be turned over to security,” The man held out his hand for the phone. I didn’t oblige.

“I’m sorry, but I don’t see the problem in giving it back myself. It’ll get there quicker.” I smiled, fluttering my lashes.

The guard grabbed the phone from my hand, “You’re not my type and Miss Powers never came aboard for the party. Is there anything else I can do for you?”

I shook my head. “Nope. Thanks, hon.” I turned and walked away.

As I did, a woman stopped me, “Excuse me, do you have the time? I can’t find my phone.”

I held out a watch, “Here, take this, I have plenty of spares.”

She glanced down at the Rolex. “It’s not my style.”

I shrugged and pulled out a collection of watches from my purse, “That’s fine, I have a selection. Say, is it true the Senator’s daughter is a no-show?”

The woman selected a pretty little platinum number, “Yeah, watching him hide how pissed he got is so funny. She’s been trying to get out of this all week.”

I held my hands out, “Where could she possibly want to go more than this little get-together?”

“Ten to one, the Young Boys Club,” she said, admiring her new watch. “Thanks a lot. It’s beautiful.”

“You’re very welcome, but I think I hear my date calling for me.” I extricated myself from that situation to prematurely activate my escape. It wouldn’t pay to stick around with all the watches, wallets, and phones I carried in my purse. There’s just so much more room to fit stolen loot in these things. I rifled through it as I walked, securing them all in a waterproof bag for good measure. When I reached my destination, I reached under the railing and gave the hull of the yacht a couple of knocks. “Anchors away!”

When I jumped over the side, Moai caught me in a large sack insulated sack. He sealed it closed and dropped off the anchor chain. Inside, I slipped one of the diving masks, almost fumbling it when we hit the water and began to sink. It’s not as fast as a boat or helicopter, but it got me where I was going. To shore, at least.

I still had to try this “Young Boys Club” for the Powers kid. Now, prior to what y’all might be thinking, it had nothing to do with child molestation. It turned out to be a play on the term “Old Boys Club” and seemed to be the hip and/or groovy spot for the kids of the D.C. Upper middle class.

Moai and I both got carded, but we had no shortage of cash and expensive watches. We found Priscilla out on the dance floor, dancing. Yes, dancing. She spun her wheelchair around, then grabbed a pair of glowsticks out of her lap and started waving them around in the air like she just didn’t care, blowing a whistle to the music.

I tried to whisper to Moai, but I had to yell to make myself heard. “Leave the chair.” He nodded, then broke out a comfy burlap sack. He bounced out onto the dance floor, wrecking it with his hardcore moves. The nearest dancers started a ruckus of some sort when he threw the bag over Priscilla. Once he had her upper body in the bag, he didn’t even have to put up with her kicking.

I dealt with the phone once we got in the car we rented after getting out of the river. Now, to finish Technolutionary’s makeshift lab and work on some sort of speech toward the Senator. To quote Shakespeare or not to quote Shakespeare, that is the question.

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Together For The Holidays 3

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Ah, December. If I had balls, I’d probably be freezing them off right about now. I’ve been traveling around to check on people a bit more. I can’t entirely blame them, but I can partially blame them, so it’s all their fault. Stupid Technolutionary and Fortune Cookie.

So, yeah, a word with Technolutionary. He claims he’s had some major breakthroughs with everything. I kinda figured that, given what he did to make Beetrice what she is now. Except the name. That was a horrible choice by her. I suspect he gave her some of my DNA for her to come up with nomenclature that bad, but that’s not really hereditary. Besides, she still has this odd idea about wanting to sex me up. It’d be completely inappropriate for me to know if I’m related to her through retroviral-related DNA hijinks.

So I pulled on my armor and headed over to find Technolutionary all alone, sitting in a spinning desk chair, holding a gun to his own head. I almost kicked my shoe at him, I’d grown so used to my horrible feminine footwear. Instead, I tossed his salad. I’d brought him a salad just because. I actually hoped he wouldn’t eat it. That place makes some great ranch dressing. Technolutionary can testify to that, since it knocked the gun away.

“That’s very smooth,” he said casually, ignoring what I’d walked in on. He shook his head and to get more of the salad off, then stood up. “Allow me to wash up and I’ll be with you.”

After that, he updated me on the project to make a lot of people Homo Machina. I can’t remember if either of us gave it a fancy name. Like Project: Genetic Insertion or Operation Artificial Penetration.

I noted Technolutionary didn’t seem as enthusiastic as normal. And the lab didn’t seem to have anybody else in it but us. Even at the centrifuges, where he never hesitated to test animal fluids for signs that his treatment worked but they just weren’t doing anything, not a soul was stirring. Not even a mouse.

It would have been rude to invade his privacy and check the wired security network. I’m not saying I didn’t do it, I’m just acknowledging it was rude when I did. Humanbots, dogbots, ratbots. Nothing unusual there in those specimen rooms. The humanbots, by which I mean humans whose brains and some body parts he’s effectively cyberneticized to the point that they are no longer autonomous and serve him, looked like he’d branched out to a trailer park, but no sign of his interns. Might have to talk to him about some of the equipment, though. I couldn’t tell exactly what some of it was for, but I doubted all of them were necessary for converting people and trying to give people my abilities.

After all, I’m working on an appropriately-named deadline here. He’s got shit to do instead. But I figured I’d handle things delicately. When he walked back in, I told him, on my best manners, “Hey, mind telling me where everyone is? We can’t keep getting you help if you’re just going to kill them all. And you know it’s serious when I’m the one saying that.”

He sat down at a desk nearby and picked up a Styrofoam cup that sat there. “Ungrateful bastards. I have attempted to impress upon them the importance of our work here. We are changing the world. Remaking it. This has the potential to be the single greatest scientific discovery in the history of mankind. They’re taking exams and getting drunk. That’s their excuse, and I can tell you it is simply an excuse because they are not doing them in order. We are losing invaluable time!” He tried to throw the cup to make a dramatic gesture, but it sorta drifted to the floor.

There wasn’t a whole lot I could of advice I could give him but, “Fuck ’em. You’re Technolutionary, and they are mere college interns. You’ll show them. You’ll show them all!” I raised my fist in the air, trying to inspire him.

Technolutionary jumped up. “They haven’t seen the last of me! Soon, my plan will be complete!”

Ah, revenge. A classic motivation for mad scientists. To think, those fools scoffed at his ideas. I didn’t scoff, I don’t think. I just recognized the potential harm in giving a bunch of people my abilities. Screw society, I don’t want to die here. It just so happens that now means letting people have my abilities.

Technolutionary wasn’t the only one down in the dumps. Moai’s been moping around the office, too. It’s because I haven’t let him go outside a whole lot. I think even Carl’s straining against his current position. Crash is irritable, but that’s so much the norm that it’s barely worth noting. Then again, I’ve been feeling unsatisfied as well. I almost feel like going to another state for the sole purpose of insulting their people and daring them to stop me.
But this isn’t my pity party. It’s not even Puddles Pity Party. I recommend giving that guy a listen, by the way.

Now, if only I knew someone who could provide advice about the future. Who could guide me, and tell me what I needed to know to make things better…

I was thinking that in my office while poking a fire. Surprised the hell out of Crash when she stopped in. She took one look at the fire in the middle of my floor and shut the door again. I immediately shot her a text. “Crash. Get me every copy of World War Z and Wanted on DVD. Hurry before fire goes out. I love you.”

Telling random people I love them is just good manners. It either makes people feel better or creates an interesting moment in their day. Rarely has it ever gotten me into trouble, aside from that time with the Russian mail-order bride.

I just sent off the text when I got a new one, and not from Crash. It was Fortune Cookie, archnemesis of sports bookies everywhere. “i told u not to ask me for help but i will wrap you if something happens. people r super depressed and you could fix that but i won’t say how.”

Tsk, tsk. Ability to see the future clearly doesn’t translate to texting skills.

But she had a point. She had told me before to basically stop going to her for any sort of advice because it made it harder for her to see major threats. Not that she’s perceived any anyway. Unless she means the depression. But if she’s really serious about what she thinks I need to do, then things are about to get lively.

I walked over where Moai stared out the window at the city. I put my right arm on his back and gestured across the skyline with my left. “Assholes, Moai. Assholes as far as the eye can see. I think it’s about time they got loosened. Come on, help me put on my armor. It’s about time we gave this city a quick, fierce injection. An injection of you and me.”

Moai and I were busy that night. The next day brought with it a slew of new crimes to report. Like how a pair of criminals had broken into a Long Life medical clinic and made off with thousands of dollars of supplies. Elsewhere, someone broke into a free clinic and left a big Douglas fir tree with pills and gauze and such under it, with a note claiming they were from a donor called the Lord of Misrule. Normally, the police might look down on that sort of thing and take that stuff in as evidence to be returned to Long Life.

Problem was, the security cameras. They don’t show enough details about the perpetrators for some odd reason, but they clearly show that the free clinic received their donation about forty-five minutes before the Long Life clinic received its illicit visitor.

Then, there was the crime discovered at a hardware store that sold trees. They found a cop with assorted pine tree branches glued to him, hanging upside down in the Douglas fir section. He turned out to be a beat cop who’d been beaten and carjacked while on patrol right by an orphanage that received an anonymous donation. Funny how that keeps happening.

They found the officer’s car parked halfway inside a Greek diner. The restaurant had long been known to them as a front for Frank Frangopoulos Jr., a notorious cigarette smuggler. “But the alleged smuggler’s business has gone up in smoke now that police found thirty kilos of cocaine scattered all over the place.”

Hey, don’t feel bad for Frank. His lawyers will have a field day with the fact that twenty of those kilos still have tags on them from the ECPD evidence lockup. It won’t look as good when cameras at the evidence room show what looked like Frank forcing his way in to steal twenty kilos. And who knows if they’ll ever find out where the extra cocaine came from?

Curious minds want to know, including Powder on The Order Forums, under the topic of “Lord of Misrule?”

The forums were a fairly nice place, all things considered. There were a couple topics thanking other members for helping. Big Bad Wolf and Herne the Hunter were posting back and forth under the topic of “Flea Prevention Methods.” Powder even had an apparently detailed post on the best “’Cake’ Recipes.” Don’t know what the euphemism is for, though. Maybe she’s not yet used to the idea that we’re all criminals.

She was especially busy in the post about my antics. She swears the Lord of Misrule stole the coke from her because she got blackout drunk and woke up on a pallet of cigarettes. She still hasn’t found her bed.

Trust me, she doesn’t want it back. I swear, I tried to give it away to some people sleeping under a bridge.

While my little romp amused them, it didn’t go well for everybody. Herne the Hunter got fed up and posted several angry comments about Frangopoulos, like “FML, FWIW this SOB rekt my protection income from Frango.” Pretty sure that’s not the correct use of “rekt.”

I didn’t know that. Seemed like a good time to break in as Banshee and suggest people start posting those sorts of things so we don’t accidentally step on each others’ toes.

As for me, I enjoyed my outing as well. While I hid my identity a bit with the cameras, it felt good to run around as myself again. After all, the Lord of Misrule is usually just a title. And my misrule of Empyreal City has just begone.

I’d put in a mouthpiece if I were you, Empyreal City, because I’m about to deck some halls.

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Local Politics 15

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I’m glad the new queen of the bee people was ready in time before the big attack. While I’d been messing around with heroes and villains, Technolutionary had been hard at work studying the blood I’d extracted from Wildflower. To say it had been quite the cocktail would to leave out all the other animals and body parts.

I hadn’t anticipated Technolutionary actually making things work this quickly. I just figured I’d go through with this as a way to weed out the problem elements in the Buzzkills. Listen, I keep hearing different reasons. I look different. I smell different. The queen is part spider monster. I only plan to throw their lives away in a scheme that benefits no one but myself. All true. But, as we all know, problems only have one cause, and one cause only. When people do things, they do it for only one reason.

Anyway, while I may not know the exact solution to the problem, I once again determined that killing a lot of them would most likely fix things too. Really, there are few problems that can’t be solved by murder. Go ahead, think about it.

Now that you’re done with that, let’s stop thinking about minor stuff and start focusing on the important stuff: my life.

So, yeah, turned out to be a surprise when Technolutionary called me up and announced, “It’s ready!”

I knew it was Technolutionary, because that’s not a guy you let call you by surprise. You label that number. That’s not a “I’m crapping, but who is calling?” number. That’s a “Brace your sphincter” number.

“What’s ready?” I asked, remember to squeeze my butt shut.

“I have transformed your queen grub! At last, she is fully bee again. She’s very talkative. Could you come pick her up as soon as possible? She’s annoying. Get off of that!”

I didn’t think he was talking to me with that last part.

And since it was Technolutionary, I couldn’t just have Crash run over and pick up the queen bee. Nope, I had to pull on my armor and drive on over to Sigma Labs. Technolutionary met me up in the lobby in casual clothing. “Welcome! Glad to see you’re staying alive in these interesting times.”

See, this is why I’m not a leader. I have trouble managing large groups of people. “You’ve seen what’s going on?”

Technolutionary smiled as he led me downstairs. “Yes, and it’s fascinating. I’m tempted to join The Order, but why would I? I have the supplies and cooperation I need without law enforcement attention. Do you think they will last?”

I shook my head. “It’s unlikely. They’re digging in, but tensions will arise, like they always do. The Oligarch is the one pulling the strings, so his ego will bring things down somehow. Meanwhile, I’ve been staying plugged in. I have an acquaintance who knows the odd CIA and military expert. They think it’s only a matter of time before Oligarch finds himself on the wrong side of a wet work team. That’s not my concern right now. Like you said, we’re doing our thing. We don’t need the extra attention.”

When we stepped into the lab, I saw a large Buzzkill standing there, staring intently at TV screen. She was bigger than the normal, people-sized ones, but not so much as the queen had been. She also had the extra pair of legs from a middle point on the side of her torso. Under the arms, but over the legs, and approximately halfway between each. Contrary to the popular image of a lot of smutty minds, she didn’t have curves that would look good to a human. She had a bigger ass, true, but it was kinda pointed, and she had these fuzzy areas on her upper thighs and torso.

Technolutionary gestured with his arm. “Here she is! I believe she’s an adult, but she’s mentally young.”

She looked over at us, segmented eyes glittering. “I am the queen and I rule.” She pumped one of her arms in the air. Then, she stepped over to me and looked me over. “Drone. You are early.” Then she threw her arms around me and kissed my helmet.

Well, that’s great. I have a bee person smooching on me that’s been alive for, what, a month and a half at most? Plus, thanks to my helmet’s 360-degree view, I got a closeup view of what her mashed-up mouthparts look like. Nope, not nearly fully human.

After an awkward couple of seconds, she released my orange and grey armor to stare down at me. “It is how people do.”

“Isn’t this moving a bit fast?” I asked her.

She lowered her head to stare at where my mouth should have been. “You are not a normal drone, but you are right. I must see the colony before we mate. Take me.” She slipped one of her arms under mine and started walking toward the way I came in.

This is how a person gets suspected of buggery, you know.

Technolutionary stood aside, but whispered, “Have a good time, you two.”

I gave him the finger and walked along with the queen, searching the internet for bee information so I could try and figure out this thing. “Yeah, let’s check out the colony. Get those other bees in line.”

“Then we mate!” the bee said, lifting me up a few stair steps in her enthusiasm.

“Yeah, sure. I don’t really have the-” I stopped. “I’m not sure I have the time, I mean. But yes, I’ll be your drone.” It occurred to me that I probably shouldn’t let on to the queen that I didn’t actually have the parts necessary to perform the duties of a drone. I mean, I’m capable of sex, but she wants sex for reproductive purposes. So I lied to her and pretended I was useful until I could get her figured out and properly molded into what I need her to be. “But we’ll discuss all that once you get back there and get those workers in line. What do you say?”

She squealed and hugged me. “Best day ever!”

I quickly made myself a note to carefully avoid exposing her to the Disney channel ever again.

I wish I could say she solved my problems with the bees, but then we got there to find the whole place was buzzing. Not an exaggeration. There were so many Buzzkills, you could easily hear them from the street. They weren’t doing much to hide their presence, either. I could sense their hostility, as well. They wanted to beat me up, but they didn’t try anything yet.

“Stand aside for the queen and her first drone!” The queen yelled, having learned something of sounding overly dramatic from her time with Technolutionary. Or the TV. I’ma have to learn that girl some proper English, n’awmean?

Well, before I could do that, she stopped and took a big sniff of the entire place. I’m fairly certain smells have some importance to bees. They have great importance to humans, too. Some humans use them to communicate their desire for revenge on those surrounding them, particularly in elevators.

While she stood there, snorting up smells, a large Buzzkill jumped out. Actually, only large compared to me and the others. It looked about the same size as my queen, but with an extra pair of legs. “Usurper!” she yelled at the queen I’d brought. Then she grabbed for her with six vicious arms of vicious furry bee fury.

I just wanted to say it that way, that’s why.

The queen bee finally left her nose out of things and responded, trying to catch hold of her evil part-spider twin. Alas, the spider woman had a numerical advantage in limbs.

What she didn’t have, soon after, was a solid chest cavity. I charged up my gauntlets and jumped into her from behind, bursting out of her belly like some sort of majestic otherworldly being. I yelled, as is the custom whenever someone pops out of a female’s belly.

The Buzzkills around hummed in what I assumed was anger due to the number of rude gestures directed my way. None of them made a try for me or the queen, even as I squeezed myself the rest of the way out of the dying mutant queen. I know, I seem special, but I take my dead enemies off one leg at a time. Without looking up at her, I asked the queen, “Hey, honey, what’s going on? There’s more of you?”

“Yes. My mother had many royal daughters. Only one can rule. We will slay them all.”

“Tis certainly the season for slaying, but does it strike you as a bit crowded around here?” I looked around at the ever-growing crowd of onlooking Buzzkills. “The little folk seem a bit restless, too. Should there be that many around?”

“No. The old queen breeds extra workers. Then she leaves with them. You killed the old queen.” She looked down at me, but I couldn’t read her expression.

I brushed bee gore off my body. “I don’t know how many times I have to say it, I had nothing to do with Freddie Mercury. That was before I got to this dimension. So, what you’re saying is, there’s like double the Buzzkills around because they were going to leave with the other queen?”

“Yes. They do not interfere with the queen fights.” She said it, but she still tensed up and raised her arms. Queen fights. Huh. I always thought that was that fighting club in San Francisco. I mean, they don’t discriminate. Straight people can and do fight, too. They just tend to underestimate homosexual fighters and thus are unprepared for the gay bashing they receive.

“Are you sure about that?” I asked, noticing that the term for surrounding Buzzkills had changed from “crowd” to “small army.”

She looked all about her nervously. “They are not supposed to.”

Amateur. I didn’t need to look around. I could see all the people around who wanted to beat me up. Seriously, I thought I dealt with this shit. Perhaps it was wrong of me to interfere in a delicate eco- and political system without any knowledge of what’s going on.

No. That can’t be right. Obviously, it’s their entire society that is wrong. Wouldn’t be the first time.

“You are not supposed to rule! You are not right. Even workers know that.” Queenie and I both turned to look at a trio of fake royals approaching, all as big as the first one. A bunch of Buzzkills followed them, so I had to drop the “small” from “small army” when approximating their number. “And you have mother’s killer fighting for you.”

I reached over and patted what turned out to be Queenie’s hip. “I could kill ’em, but I don’t think you’d survive it.”

“Then we risk it. Today is a good day to die!” Queenie said. Yep, way too much TV.

“Drop that Klingon shit. You’re too valuable to me to go dying.” I ran between her legs so she was on my shoulders and jumped clear of the place. And broke something in my leg. I mean, I got healed and we still escaped, but it’s starting to seem like everything’s going out of its way to shit on me.

Crash probably figured out the sort of mood I was in when I came stomping in the hidden executive entrance followed by a giant bee woman. She took a look at me, and at a piece of…something…that fell off me onto the carpet, and said, “Oligarch has been calling…but I’ll tell him you’ll get back with him when you’re ready.”

“Anything important?” I asked as we stepped into the private elevator.

She looked down at her tablet to read back over her notes. “He’s got to delay the attack you discussed at the last meeting. He had to solve a problem with Navy Seals that paid him a visit. He wants everyone to double check their lair defenses and don’t hesitate if you need help.”

Oh, great. Now he’s killed one of those government assassination teams. I’m sure that won’t potentially escalate things.

I’m going to be so glad when I’ve dealt with him and the other royal bees. Like I said, death is always a viable solution to a problem. And while all these random things keep happening to just screw over my plans, I can at least be reasonably confident in my ability to kill my way out of this mess.

Although, sure, I have been off my game a bit lately. And I am going to be dealing with some villains who survived me in the past. Actually, been a lot more survivors lately. And now I have to go out of my way to keep some people alive.

Altogether, it sounds pretty bad. Sounds like I’ve lost a step. Sounds like maybe I just don’t have it anymore.

Where was I going with all this? Oh yeah, soon it will be time to bathe in the blood of a thousand innocents. For the good of everyone, of course, but especially me. Except the ones who are dead.

Well, there’s no use crying when there’s killing to do. When I look outside, it makes me glad I’m not you, ’cause I’ve plans to run and I’m gonna have fun with the people who are still alive.

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Local Politics 10

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“And then they were looking for an engineering achievement to rival the Eiffel tower, until this guy named Ferris got an idea for a giant moving wheel…but enough about The Devil in the White City. Time for the good stuff.” I looked down at Wildflower and began flashing her. “Well?”

“Beautiful,” she said, looking up at me with rapture on her face. She wiggled around to try and take in as much of the UV light from the portable UV lamp I carried. She’d gotten incredibly pale and lethargic, too. The guards informed me she hadn’t even been finishing her swill. And this is high quality swill, with at least a 50% chance of not containing any spit. “If only you could bring me something to help me sleep.”

Actually, I didn’t agree with the swill policy. Too much spit takes away from proper swill consistency. I mean, we’re basically talking gravy, grease, and food bits. Or maybe grits that have been watered down. There’s a lot of good swill recipes out there. Surprise your family at Thanksgiving this year with a healthy portion of swill.

Besides, you have to feed prisoners at least enough to keep them healthy. That’s part of why I brought some nice stew for her. That, and it made her like me more. I’d been paying visits to her and realized that I had to do better than fast food. Plus, cold weather is excellent for stew.

Turns out, she liked the UV light a lot more. It gave me an idea, too. “You know, if you were to pull off some of your clothes, you might be able to absorb more of the light through your skin. Go ahead, give it a try.”

“You’d like that, wouldn’t you?” she asked.

“Well, ya know, caring about you as a friend…”

“And being a lesbian.”

“I had my suspicions about you, Tigerlily.”

“No, you are. You’ve been flirty.” She had a point. “You’re like a guy sometimes.”

I shrugged. “Maybe I like women. Still, this isn’t about that. How are you?”

Wildflower reclined in the light, taking it in. She looked greener already. He stare bore into me in contrast to her luxuriating pose. “I can hear the voices. People screaming. I’m not the only prisoner here anymore.”

I nodded, trying to look sad. “Yes. They’ve captured a lot of heroes. Things are pretty depressing out there.”

“Even if I get out, it won’t be enough,” she said, curling up and wrapping her arms around her legs.

I knelt down and put a hand on her knee. “I’ll get you out. I’ll get you all out. Somehow.” I looked at the ground and bit my lip. I know, it didn’t inspire confidence. That’s probably why Wildflower put her hand on mine and gave it a little squeeze. I made sure to turn my gaze away from her.

“Hey, look at me,” the heroine said. I did. “Thank you for everything. I believe in you.”

I made up an excuse to leave soon after, but left her with a thick blanket. Next to the door, I saw the guard watching a monitor. He tried to avoid looking at me. I put a hand on his shoulder, “Too bad, bucko. No gay porn this week.”

Back in the outside world, Crash had a message to pass on to me. “Hey, I don’t know where you’ve been going, but I don’t like you being out of phoneshot. Anyway, that bug doctor wanted me to tell you that the grub you brought back isn’t a normal queen bee grub.”

“It’s giant and made by bee people. I hope I wasted money on an entomologist capable of recognizing it isn’t a normal grub.”

“It’s started to transform, and he says it’s not developing right. He wanted to see the mother, so we showed him. He thinks that what’s wrong are the queens. They aren’t right. They aren’t all bee. Or all bee people, whatever.”

“They aren’t?” I asked.

“He said the legs were an obvious giveaway.”

I took a moment to wonder at that, then slapped myself in the forehead. Yeah, she had extra legs, and managed to grab hold of me with extra arms. Eight limbs total. “Insects have six. Arachnids have eight.”

For those with amnesia, it’s worth remembering that when I first obtained these Buzzkills, they were in the custody of an anthro-arachnid in Japan. She took over her group of insectoid villains after a coup and seemed to be abandoning the Buzzkills. She must have been doing something else to them. “So what’s all this mean?”

“He thinks they won’t work right unless there’s a full-blooded queen.”

I don’t know how that’ll help anything. Besides how the hell am I supposed to do that? I really don’t want to go all the way back to Tokyo. Then again, that spider lady wouldn’t even have full-blooded ones. What am I supposed to do, make one?

Now there’s an idea. “Thanks for passing all that along, Crash. How’s the business side of things?”

“We’re surviving. Everyone’s making their own decisions pretty well now.”

“Okily dokily. Keep me abreast of any developments. I need to go talk to a man about a bee.”

Fifteen minute later, I stood on a street corner in a dirty coat, fake beard, and tinfoil Napoleon hat. My voice sounded normal on my end, but I scrambled it in the call. “Technolutionary! How’s it going?”

“Terrible, Gecko. We’re mapping your entire genome. I hope you don’t have any harmful mutations, or they’ll be part of the new race we’re going to create.”

I hated to do this, but this was right up his alley. “I’m trying to sabotage someone…a Japanese gang that uses these bee people as minions. They corrupted the queens to make them more amenable to their rule. Made the queens crossbreeds, I think. I want to uncrossbreed a grub that’ll become a queen, or something like that.” People looked at me oddly as I spoke like this, all the while crawling on the ground and addressing a pigeon.

“I’ll look if you have the grub.”

“I’ll rustle that grub up to you. Is there anything else you need?”

“Oh? Interested in my needs suddenly? Come to think of it, I’m set for now. I have all the test subjects I need, and the supplier you gave me has provided everything I’ve asked. It’s been quite refreshing, actually.”

I stood up and brushed myself off, then wandered off to go call up Moai. Suddenly, I realized the flaw in having someone that can’t talk keep track of the advanced scientific research Technolutionary worked on. But… “After you give me a rough outline in writing, I need you to do a drive-by grubbing. Actually, better not throw it at him. It might…burst…or something gooey like that. Just get it to him. Eh, you can actually work on the outline after you get it to him.”

I know Moai got it out to him before the end of the day before giving me an idea of Technolutionary. He had been using the homeless again, and most of the supplies he’d ordered looked like they could have matched what he’d been doing. Except he’d also been getting some of our prosthetics. He might have a few for testing if he’d made further progress in merging humans and technology. Yeah, when I saw he’d been getting a few each time, I told Moai he probably should sneak around Sigma. I think Technolutionary’s stockpiling his robot people.

Robot people, bee people. Whatever happened to people being people? Or, in my case, multiple people. It’s almost like they’re making up for the fact that I’m like three or four people. Myself, Missile Patriot, Banshee, Norma Mortenson…yeah four different people at least.

I woke about noon the next day to a ringing in my ear. It wasn’t because of the Manischewitz wine bottle on the nightstand, either. Good stuff. I like the Concord Grape especially. That shit is my jam.

But, no, the ringing was Technolutionary, who decided to start my day off yelling.

“You ask the world of me twice in a row! I’m not magic, as you well know. These interns…. I swear, you’d think they never ran a centrifuge before.”

I winced. “They’re interns. Geez, don’t you ever sleep? It’s the middle of the day. And, anyway, many of them haven’t run a centrifuge before. Even if it wasn’t so hard that Sigma Labs couldn’t do it.”

“The people behind Sigma aren’t around anymore. Nevermind the scientists. The test subjects alone would be an amazing find. A light shining into the darkness of ignorance.”

And there’s another idea. “What about if I could get you the DNA from one of them?”

“The more the better.”

Back to the sanitarium I went, along with a cooler full of beer. Sewer access makes moving supplies there difficult, but I could at least wheel that much in to help make my visits more tolerable for the guards. Depending on how much of Wildflower I decided to carry out of there, it might be nice to have them friendlier toward me or potentially drunk. Plus, the ice can help flesh fresh. Keep your flesh fresh with new solidified water today!

Solid water, a Double Cross product, all natural, organic, no preservatives, no MSG, and biodegradable. If people complain that we’re rebranding ice, I’ll just say it’s because our ice is fat free. How many other bags of ice actually say they’re fat free? What do they have to hide, huh?

Well, I’ll tell you one thing, Double Cross has lots to hide! Big secrets! Skeletons literally packed into our closets, and that means we don’t want to waste time lying on the little things.

Anyway, the guards that I was pretty swell and wanted me to stay and have a beer with them. In fact, they wanted me to have several beers. I’m sure many women would have been uncomfortable with a bunch of criminals in monster clown masks inviting her to down a twelve pack at night in an abandoned insane asylum, but not me. After all, I was the serial killer who tended to wear a mask.

One of them did interrupt me before I could head right in to see Wildflower, though.

“Since we got used to your weekly visits, we go ahead and disarm the failsafes,” he said, bending down by a set of wires by the bottom hinge of the door.

“Failsafes?” I asked. While the guard was distracted, I messed with his computer and decided to give it monitoring problems.

He stood up and played around with some wires on the top hinge. “C4. Man-Opener delivered a load, set it up. If anyone tries to leave who doesn’t know about it, the ceilings will blow up.”

“Sounds messy for anyone stuck underneath it,” I told him. “Just the two there?”

He dusted his hands off, “Yup. Go on in.”

I walked in, hands behind my back. Wildflower looked up at me from her rusty old caught against the wall, wide awake. “You’re back?”

“I’m…sorry. I don’t really know what I’m doing here. I was thinking of you. I think about you a lot, you know. Especially when I’m trying to go to sleep. So I thought about how you can’t sleep and I had my people make this.” I brought my hands around and showed her the small case I brought. I opened the top and revealed a needle.

Wildflower sat up. “What is it?”

“Just something to help you relax and sleep. It just gets you to sleep, though. I’m not an anesthesiologist.”

Wildflower jumped up and threw her arms around me. “I’m so tired, but being here reminds me too much of Sigma. I keep thinking something might happen. I can handle guards, but I don’t want a supervillain jumping me.”

“I could watch over you…” I trailed off, giving her the option to accept.

She nodded, then held out her arm. I took out the needle and set the case on the floor. I slid it in, finding a vein, and injected her. She stepped closer to her cot and I went with her, easing her down when the drugs began to affect her. It was almost sweet, watching her drift off. She ran her hand through my hair, then it went limp as she conked off.

With her out like a light, I went ahead and started extracting blood. Not too much. Not enough to kill her. Hell, not even enough to weaken her. Yeah, yeah, all that talk about body parts was just for laughs. I know it wasn’t that good of a joke, but how about a hand?

I grabbed hair and skin samples, too. Just in case. Little things she wouldn’t miss.

And maybe I sat with her for a few hours playing Payday 2 offline in my head and eyes. What? Doesn’t mean anything. Maybe I’m just lazy and like to relax inside decrepit old buildings. Besides, no one was around to think I’d come down with a case of Tourette’s every time the drill jammed in the game and I had to fix it. Seriously, I hate that broke-dick, piece-of-shit drill.

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Down to Business 4

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I’m going to be honest, I miss running around in my armor and killing people. This secret identity shit gets old. I don’t see how so many supers do it. How does someone go from soaring through the sky or punching heads off to sitting at a desk, taking shit from someone who only cares about the bottom line?

Think about the most famous superheroes in comics, for example. Bruce Wayne’s a billionaire, and so is Tony Stark. Captain America doesn’t have a secret identity. Clark Kent’s gives him a certain amount of freedom, though Peter Parker takes a lot of shit. Then again, Spider-man always takes a lot of shit. Seriously, they treat him like an ant under a magnifying glass.

In real world terms, Captain Lightning keeps his secret identity to himself, but I don’t think Venus really has one. She has a real name and all, but she’s an orphan who has been raised at the Master Academy for some reason. I don’t know, maybe they got her when they failed to save her parents or something.

I bring all this up, because I strained against my own secret identity. I’d decided to go out to lunch and dragged Crash along too. That’s what I’ve shortened Crash Test Dummy to. She doesn’t seem to mind, but that’s not surprising after everything else she’s put up with from me. On our way back, some guy in a flight-suit looking costume flew this glider through the intersection ahead of us, followed soon after by The Saurus. The T-rex wouldn’t catch him, I’m pretty certain. Not with that many cars in the way and his monocle threatening to fall off.

I wish I had a T-rex.

Sadly, I couldn’t just pop on the armor and chase it down.

I did slip into it to deal with Technolutionary and Fortune Cookie, however. I had to modify it a little bit to account for the new curves on the inside being hidden on the outside. I didn’t really feel like letting Technolutionary know about my makeover either.

I called him up with the place he absolutely needed to meet me at. Lab Sigma, aka the one of the places I bought after everyone, or almost everyone, had jumped ship. Miss Jackson had shut it down rather than use the place. It had originally been part of agricultural research. Genetic modification of plants. Trying to make bigger ears of corn or bananas that are more resistant to viruses and fungal infections. It used to have protesters, but they stopped. Not because they realized they were wrong; because they thought they won when the place closed up.

They then presumably went home and enjoyed a heaping helping of aurochs, Mexican grasses, and small Peruvian tubers, just as they used to exist during the stone age back before cattle, corn, and potatoes were a thing.

It’s not like there weren’t good reasons to protest Sigma Labs. I read the files on this place. It started with good intentions. Who doesn’t want to create plants with all the amino acids necessary to make vegetarianism or veganism viable for most people? That’s a fine and dandy goal for anyone who doesn’t care about taste, but then you start mixing animal DNA with plants and before long people start trying to think up cattle that get all their energy through photosynthesis or nutrient-fixing wiener dogs. Even making it where endangered species can reproduce using spores or flowers. Which are also perfectly noble goals if someone wants to help the world.

I’m sure y’all can imagine where they went next. Of course there’s going to end up being a human affected by it all. The initially theorized ways to improve humanity. Make people hardier, stronger. Able to produce their own food, able to regrow their own limbs. Funny how everyone’s ideas on how to make humans better pretty much means making humans less human and more something else. More robotic, more plant, more animal.

Even when they aren’t as blatant about it as Hephaestus/Faustus organization, everyone’s trying to become superhuman.

Sigma Labs started on the simulations, which showed hypothetical success with embryos. Real life didn’t quite match these best-case models. They turned to improving already-existing people instead, with homeless subjects. Warm housing, three square meals a day, medical treatment, and a litttle spending money at the end of everything? They didn’t need a single involuntary subject. Then Spinetingler did what he did to the city. Staff went into comas, died, or just didn’t feel like coming into work with monsters roaming around the city.

Without anyone around to manage the food or the delicate ecosystem involved with having lots of people on immunosuppressants, things got a bit…nasty. One of the reasons they were so willing to sell out to us was our willingness to clean the place up as quietly as possible.

The one thing we couldn’t clean up was Wildflower. Or is it Wild Flower? I’ll go with the first one. Super names are one of those areas where punctuation is a big deal. From what I hear, the young woman appeared in the city after I helped run off Spinetingler. The catgirl with the tail of vine and thorns. I wonder what kind of secret identity she might have?

“You love the sound of your own voice,” Technolutionary said, leaning against the lobby desk. He patted the coat he’d arrived in, which served the purpose of hiding the armor he now proudly showed off. Fortune Cookie paced as if she heard the story before. With her powers, it’s possible.

“You do too,” I told him. Fortune Cookie cocked her head to the side and nodded. “And I like stories. That one could be important since this is your lab now.”

I led him through the place. “Some things got wrecked or stolen, but most of it should be here and in good order. You can choose whether you want to operate this place in the open or not, but you have no official connection to me at all.”

“This is great! I’ll move my stuff in immediately. Do you care if I work in the area until I have anything else I need?”

I shrugged. “Go ahead. I’m still on the down low here. Don’t drag me into it.”

He nodded, then brought his wrist up. A holographic display appeared and he punched a few buttons. “There’s one more thing I need from you.” He opened his hand on the wrist with the display and a metal needle extended from the tip of his ring finger. “A sample.”

Muttering, I unsealed one gauntlet and showed just enough skin. “Yeah, yeah, you get yours. But I want mine. An army of cyborg warriors to back up any other forces I’ve acquired.” I wondered briefly if the Buzzkills, the bee-humanoid warriors I’d taken from Japan, could be cyberized and improved as well. Then I decided against it. I need Technolutionary, but I don’t trust him. But I did have an idea. “And if I got you some other DNA, do you think you could quickly clone me something a bit nonhuman…like a dinosaur?”

“The Saurus,” he realized, eyes lighting up. Not a good expression in someone who is about to stick a needle into you. He found a vein easily and drove it in. Better a blood sample than a semen sample at this point.

I nodded. “Preferably with the ability to shoot lasers, and a willingness to have me ride around on his back. Think you can do it?”

“Ahahah! Yes, and it will be glorious. It’s not on mission, however. I’m not getting that DNA sample.” He pulled the needle out.

I covered the arm up and told him, “It’s on my mission. I’ll get it.” Then I looked around for Fortune Cookie.

“In here!” she called from back toward the lobby.

“If you have everything you need, I need to go have a chat with our mutual friend out there,” I told Technolutionary, who pulled a small capsule of blood out from a slot on his forearm. He didn’t pay me any attention and went to pull out one of the machines up against the wall.

Fortune Cookie waited against the door, head cocked toward it. I covered myself in a holographic civilian disguise and stepped out with her. She had a taxi waiting by the curb. Both of us stayed silent until we got in there, and I told the driver to drop me off at Double Cross Tower.

She spoke first, “You need something?”

“You hardly need to ask, do you?” I responded. “A telepath.”

She looked down, shaking her head. Below the view from the front, I pulled off my gauntlet enough to show the hole where Technolutionary took his sample. She sighed, then looked up. Her eyes went blank white for a moment, like a cloud flowed over them. When the clouds cleared, she leaned over and whispered a name, a place, and a time to me.

“What can I do for you, o Fortuna?” I asked her.

“Don’t go yourself,” she said. When I just looked at her, she followed up with, “It minimizes the body count.”

“If that’s your price…I am glad you’re helping me. Is there anything else I can do? I can arrange for a better hotel, shopping, fine dining.” The multi-directional view of my helmet showed me the taxi driver raising an eyebrow at that.

Fortune Cookie shook her head. “I don’t need more gifts from you, devil. I know what this is about and I’ll help you. I helped him.” She nodded back toward Sigma Labs with a screwed up look of disgust on her face. “Just do what you always do. Don’t give up. Fight them.”

When we stopped, she stayed behind, wanting no part of what she saw before her.

That was the evening before the first of the mysterious bombings began in Empyreal City. The Saurus once again chased after his latest foe, Free Radical, as the villain graffitied an art show and flew out of there on his glider. He earned his money. Free Radical escaped when a sidewalk tree exploded and knocked The Saurus down. Aside from the hero, several civilians were wounded.

In the middle of all this confusion, an individual stepped up. “Croikey!” she said, planting a khaki short-clad leg on The Saurus’s tail. “Now this is a big’un. I’m gonna have to be real careful stickin’ me hand up its bum, ’cause it’s huuuuuge!”

The Saurus’s tail lifted lazily before settling back down. “I feel you back there! Stay back, mammal. The pain…” He kicked his rear leg out, taking splashing me, the T-rex hunter, with water from a spray of water from a hydrant that had been knocked off. I wiped it over my eyes to relieve the feeling of smokiness over my face caused by a post-bombing haze that stunk of burnt meat and rubber.

I turned a doggy doo bag inside out around my hand and approached the downed dino. “Now, don’t be afraid. Tensing up will just make this mo’ difficult. Relax, and this’ll all be sphincterific!”

He did not find it very sphincterific, nor did Technolutionary enjoy finding a bag full of T-rex crap in front of his door at Sigma Labs. I would have lit it on fire, but that would have burnt up the note I left there explaining that I’d left his DNA sample in the bag. A container of blood. He just has to reach through the pile to get it.

Just because I’m working with Technolutionary doesn’t mean I’m above giving him crap.

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Stealing Europe 8: Heisting Epilogue

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The boat ride from Europe back to the States is giving me plenty of time to think. Here I am, still in the travel crate, tossing this little trinket up and down. It’s a snow globe, but a pretty resilient one, which is good. I keep dropping it.

As I realized last time, my normal course of interaction has to change…unfortunately. It’s a simple matter of logic. Prior to this whole invasion thing, human lives were cheap and expendable. I tossed them away for pleasure or money. Now, they’re still cheap and expendable. It comes with being stupid. Or, if not stupid, short-sighted, ignorant, and irrational. Trust me, I know all about rationality.

The problem is that I have to expend them to save myself from a fate equal to death. People always talk about fates worse than death being bad, but at least those involve the person being alive. Death is quite a bit more permanent than torture and humiliation.

Point is, lots of people I’d normally kill for R&R and S&G (respectively: rest and recreation, and shits and giggles) would be more useful to me as pawns to throw at my future enemies. Finally, a good excuse for why I never get around to trying to kill Venus! I mean, if I were to psychoanalyze myself, of course. She’s far too useful fighting evil by moonlight and finding love by daylight, all that jazz.

One example is that I called up that turkey shop in Paris to let them know Anatole had been wounded, but I could issue some orders on his behalf. They then put me through to Anatole who thanked me for his concern, but revealed he was in perfect health. The voiceprint matched exactly. I guess we know who had the terminator wannabe hanging out at Effelsberg.

Anatole informed me that he wasn’t the only survivor and directed me to a news story out of Germany. A private collection of World War I memorabilia had been stolen right from under the care of Manfred Mächte, of the famed Mächte family of supers. They traced their lineage back to Hauptmann Mächte, who fought the French and the British on the Western Front during World War I. The Hauptmann didn’t get a go at World War II. The Night of Long Knives got him first, as one of the few Reichswehr casualties from Hitler’s purging of the Stormtroopers. His death shook his son; those lingering doubts assisted him in his decision to keep his eyes open during the war when a lot of other people preferred to keep their heads down.

As I myself know, killing a lot of people tends to create a certain amount of fearful subservience in others. Supposedly, the Mächte family still kept the papers the Nazis meant to “discover” showing they had strong Jewish heritage if Hauptmann Mächte II didn’t cooperate.

I tell y’all all that to give you a sense of the value involved in all this and because I sometimes enjoy a bit of history. It is, after all, the closest thing we have to unbiased experimental results for human behavior.

Further, Anatole directed me to this because a Wild West wanted poster and a drawing of a cat were left behind. Buttero and Chat des Combes. They somehow survived and found a payday, too. Not only that, but I bet Chat loved sticking it to a German hero. There’s a longstanding rivalry between Germany and France. I think it goes back to Bismarck making the snail-eaters his bitch in the name of unifying Germany. No doubt that’ll turn into a fun little conflict for the thrill-seeking Chat and his new Buttero buddy.

That reminds me, I’ll have to get that tattoo of his name removed.

That settled the fate of most of the participants of the Effelsberg Incident. A quick search turned my attention toward a boat exposition in Denmark aimed at the wealthy and featuring a charity auction. An assassin attempted to murder an unknown target, only to be stopped and chased out by John Hall, a businessman representing United Exports.

Until I see photos, I can’t prove that’s the same one. While looking him up after all this, I’ve found rumors that the name is just a code name assigned to certain British secret agents after the previous one retires or dies. That explains why he’s been active since 1953 and why his accent changes over time. He’s sounded Scottish, Welsh, and even Australian in the past.

After that, I called up Carl to see how he was doing. He found some assistants to help out. The New Empyreal City has been shaken up enough that he could get a Mafia accountant and several personal assistants on the cheap. He told me got a lot easier when he started asking old prison buddies about what they used to do before getting thrown in jail. When word got around that my weird little corporation would actually hire convicted felons, that brought even more of them to my doorstep.

It was damn good initiative on his part. I told him I’d wished I thought of it. I suppose I should amend my prior statement on the idiocy of humans to note that they get some flashes of brilliance from time to time. The universe is a big place, with lots of space and time, and there are something like 7 billion humans; one of them is bound to get something right every now and then.

I had a pretty good little idea of my own, though. While he’s gathering up ex-cons, he could see if any of them can get things going in some of the places we bought up. Maybe start up a car mechanic that doubles as a chop shop, or see about repurposing some of businesses as convenient hiding spots. Preferably, he’d pick the ones who don’t want to reform, or at least the ones who are looking for a little safer sort of crime.

Then he told me about what the heroes have been up to. Long Life had moved into the city, setting up clinics in formerly impoverished areas and gentrifying those neighborhoods. So now the poor sections are getting all changed up. Not eliminated; just moved. See, renovating properties in bad areas of town doesn’t give poor people a nicer place to live. It just forces poor people out when property taxes and rents go up.

Forcelight has visited, but she’s still mostly sticking to Kingscrow, where Mix ‘N Max has her running around like a loon thanks to some fear formula he’s whipped up. Good job, Max.

Venus is still hanging around the big city, helping to keep it under control, only now there’s a branch of the Master Academy established in town that she’s been training. One of them even got into trouble at Rothstein’s Sports Bar when he got drunk and played a bunch of songs on the jukebox to get on people’s nerves. The villains put up with Tom Jones, Hanson, and Lynyrd Skynyrd, but Vengaboys was a step too far. He survived, which is the good news for him. Bad news is, Venus was really not happy to have to pick his drunk ass up from the local villain bar.

Another thing I did was check in on Fortune Cookie finally. She meant to get back with me about when the aliens would get in town. I wanted to give her space so she would answer that for me, and then I forgot. Everyone does it.

To my complete lack of surprise, she picked up as soon as it started to ring. “Hello, Gecko.”

“You know, if you can’t see the future related to your actions, how could you tell when I was going to call the number you gave me?” I asked. Either I was being a smartass, or I just didn’t understand some nuance of her power.

“It’s good to hear from you, even if you don’t understand the nuances of my power. Smartass.”

“Since you know so much about me, princess, how about you give me the million-dollar answer. Tell me when the aliens are going to show up and doom my ass. Or are you going to hide that information from me to torture me?” I tossed my little souvenir up, caught it, and tossed it up again, bouncing my toe. Moai glanced at me, then returned his attention to our in-trip movie. Keanu Reeves grabbed a big Mafiya thug by the beard and smashed his head into a table, then fired a couple shots into his brain at point blank range.

“I hate to disappoint you, but I can’t give you the exact date. They arrive in March. I can’t yet see when they decide to attack. They may have been going to send an advance force before then. Nobody gives me headaches like you do.”

An alien fleet appearing at some time within a month, and a possible advance force. Sure wish I had a giant radio telescope to help me keep an eye on outer space.

“Makes sense your body would dislike me so much it would give you a headache rather than risk the least sexual thought about me.”

“If you keep that up, I won’t want to help you.”

That’s new. Fortune Cookie didn’t like working with me last time, and that was saving the whole world. This time, we’re saving my life; a far more important task. I have to be sure she’s willing to go the distance. “You know that won’t be easy.”

“I am most certainly not going to see you day to day, and this is more important than your life.”

Now she’s just trying to insult me. She went on. With talking, that is, not insulting, “You need more help than I can provide. I have someone here you want to speak to.”

A surprise mystery guest. There’s very few people I wanted to talk to about this alien thing, and the out-of-breath voice of a man made it clear she hadn’t gotten a hold of Venus for me. “Hello again, Psycho Gecko. So good to meet you again. So very good. I knew you’d come around. Your friend said you would need my help. She’s right! You don’t have a lot of time.”

The voice sounded familiar, and he certainly sounded like the kind of coked-up manic-depressive I might have hung out with from time to time. “Hold up, howdy doody. Just to make sure I’m on the same page as everyone here, who the fuck are you?”

He giggled. “Oh you. You and I will work wonderfully together. It’s me! The Technolutionary! My armor is mostly repaired and I’m ready to take humanity into the future, kicking and screaming.”

Well, I did say I’d have to reevaluate how I deal with some of these nincompoops.

“Technolutionary. Interesting. It looks like you get what you wanted after all. Tell Fortune Cookie she did a good job. I’ll be back to the States soon, so try to meet me in Empyreal City before long.” I stopped tossing my little souvenir snow globe and looked at it.

“It’s about time you realized we needed each other. Trust me with your future, Psycho Gecko.”

I glanced down at the snow globe, which contained the shrunken clock tower from the mountains of Romania. It’s amazing how quickly you can make the trip when nothing wrecks your vehicles and leaves your armor mysteriously functional. Suffice it to say there are some things related to time I’m never going to understand. I think I’ll share that with the aliens. “Yes, it is about time, Technolutionary.”

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Psychos of the Caribbean 10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I think,” Penny said, nodding along.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Is it a big bomb?”

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

“Oh shit,” Penny said softly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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