Tag Archives: Terrorjaw

Ragin’ Against Cajuns 8




A man’s got to do what a man’s got to do. Tautology. That’s fancy philosophy speak for circular reasoning. Like I said before, you can charge extra for crap with a fancy French name and call it gourmet. When it comes to philosophy, it’s crap with a Greek name. And yet this crap is so considered wise, but the moment I start talking about critical butt sex failure, I’m deemed ridiculous and weird. Such people lack imagination, but I think we’re heading too much into sob story territory here, and this is not a sob story. This is a story about a whale. No!

This is a story about being happy!

Holly and Sam weren’t happy. We knew where Max was after your dimension was so kind as to hold the data for me, but the issue was about getting him out. Sam and Holly had this whole loyalty thing that was getting in the way. It would have been an admirable trait except they were heading into near-certain death.

They wanted to charge in with me. Upon finding out that I knew Max’s location, they gathered up their gear, whatever it was. Sam even took the time to hit up the bathroom. Good head on her shoulders.

I went ahead and gave my own self a similar bug to Max’s, right in the chest. Just had to slip off the armor, jab a knife in there, insert, have a shot of nanites, and by the time I had my armor on they were closing me up. Now that I knew that thing worked so well, I wanted one of my own. I figured I could write on the thing and send out the blog this way if I was ever too far away from my stuff.

Holly opened one of the kitchen cabinets and pulled out a bullet proof vest from somewhere, and started grabbing every knife in the place. I doubt she could have done much murder with some of them, but she was bound and determined to spread some Hephaestus butter.

I grabbed one of them away from her. At first, she didn’t react. After a second to think about it, she got angry and lunged for the knife, which I held away from her. “Hey, give that back!” she yelled, her voice going a little too high. I moved in front of the bathroom door to keep Sam from interfering as I played Keep Away with Holly. I heard Sam shuffling around in there in some sort of hurry. Probably the unpleasant kind of hurry, which is the standard hurry of the bathroom.

I ignored Sam’s attempts to open the door and addressed Holly, who was now tearing up as she jumped and tried to take the knife from me. “As much as you think killing someone with a butter knife is going to solve your problems, there is no margarine of error here!”

Holly pulled a knife and stabbed at me. It slid off the armor and clattered out of her hand, which then stuck a chest plate. She rubbed at her hand where it hit me. “See? You’re not cut out for hand to chest combat.”

“No one’s cut out to fight you, but that doesn’t mean I can’t kill a few of them.”

“Hey, what’s going on out there?!” Sam yelled out. She pushed harder now.

“Nothing, Sam. Don’t get your panties in a knot. And make sure to wipe!” I yelled back.

“Panties in a knot?” Holly repeated after me. “Why don’t you want me to go kill people? Is it because I’m a woman?”

I put my hands up, palms toward her, keeping the knife between two fingers. “I need you to listen to me, Holly. Do you trust me?”

“No,” she said, and tried to grab the butter knife again.

I dropped the knife in front of me with my right hand. She lunged to grab it, but I grabbed her throat with my left hand. I spun quickly, pressing her against the door, trapping Sam in again after she got her hopes up and the door part of the way open. From the flammable gas warning that popped up in my HUD, Sam’s attempt to escape might not have been just because I was doing something to Holly.

As for Holly, I held her up in the air by her throat while she kicked at me and the door. I wanted to tell her something, but it was hard with her whining so much. “Sh, sh, sh, calm down and listen to me. Listen to me!” I lightly popped her head against the door to make her pay attention. She moaned in pain, but it kept her from struggling so much, so I lowered her where she could barely touch the floor.

“Now then,” I said. “You’ve been a little bit on tilt lately. You know, upset, angry, sad, perhaps with some uncomfortable feminine itch or even some burning when you urinate courtesy a swarthy Latin lover named Esteban…not judging, and feel free to correct me on the details of your love life. That’s beside the point. Look at you. I don’t know what Max taught you, but you’ve never been a real part of the fighting before this. Before that night you got terrorized doggy style by a hellhound. Why do you want to do this?”

I lowered her a little more. “Please,” she whispered to me, “Please, I have to do something. I don’t want to be helpless again. I have to help save him. I have to.”

“You’re fodder, Holly. And you’re not quite right in the head. You go in there with me, you’ll die. Sam too, and she’s the stronger of you two. Cry and plead all you want, but I’ve heard a lot of it before.”

“Please,” she said again. She grabbed at her pocket and brought out a steak knife. She slashed futilely at my arm, sobbing. It was not a pretty sight, especially the snot draining out of her nose.

Here’s where not being a particularly good person proved advantageous. “Alright, let me make this simple for you.” I set her down, grabbed the wrist she was slashing at me with, and brought my other hand around, and snapped her ulna. Ignoring the scream of pain, I let her go then, and she stumbled over to the steps leading up to the bed. Sam slammed the door of the lavatory open and rushed out. She glared at me even as she checked on her friend.

“Take care of her. And don’t let her go fighting. I think she’s still in that maze with that demon dog a little bit, up here.” I pointed at my head.

As I turned to leave, Moai rotated and ducked through the door into the entryway. I caught up to him in there and patted him on the side of the head. “You look after them.”

His head tilted back, as if in shock.

“I just got you out. I’d rather you were in there backing me up. I’d prefer it to those two. But this might go bad for me. Plus, I’m leaving Sam and Holly out because they’re not so much prepared for all this wild fighting stuff. Not to this degree. But it’s dangerous out here, too. No matter what, I am getting Max out. Wouldn’t do to have him out and have his loyal assistants massacred. And move the trailer every once in awhile. They might have a way to find it.”

Moai nodded and turned to go back in.

When I stepped out the door, a dozen leisure-suited boogeymen greeted me, smiling from out of the darkness that held their lesser brethren.

I tipped my helmet to them. “Alright, folks, let’s go solve the world’s overpopulation problem.”

Half an hour later, I ran through the corridors of a base that was at times reminiscent of 1960s Cold War bunker and other times the leftover from a 1980s fantasy movie. I could turn a corner from parse, light brown walls and vinyl floors and wind up in a passageway of rock light with dripping torches. To think, it was all part of a compound underneath this epic plantation-looking mansion in the French Quarter of New Orleans.

Rather than try to fight me, guards and workers retreated, occasionally sealing heavy doors behind me that featured magical glyphs of some sort. There was always some way out, even if it involved blowing a hole into an adjacent room or widening some air ducts with a chicken grenade. There had been no guards up top, just a sense of paranoia as I approached the mansion, like I had things watching me from the dark.

Maybe I just have a go-getter attitude or maybe it was all the friendly things I had lurking in the dark, but I got past that mental mumbo jumbo and found my way down through a trap door in the basement.

Then began the running through the corridors part, which was quickly losing its luster because the guards were all leaving me alone. At some point, I noticed that only some of the corridors were sealed off and other doors were left wide open. I took a couple of them before figuring out they were leading me somewhere. I double checked Max’s last known location and saw they corralling me well away from it.

That wouldn’t do. I blew my way through a wall in the correct direction and stepped through. Directly into a toilet. A bathroom. As if to punctuate this realization, a cinderblock plopped into the toilet. I opened the door and stepped out to the stares of other men who had been washing their hands, using the urinals, or peeking out their doors. I pointed back to the charred hole in the wall. “Too much Burrito Bell for lunch, know what I’m saying? I wouldn’t go in there, though, because I blew it up. Shittin’ bricks, you know?”

They fled in terror. That’s some damn common courtesy for you, isn’t it? It was funny, too. Mages were depicted with robes often enough, but these guys looked like regular office drones in button-up shirts and slacks.

The bastards at Faustus had crushed all the fun out of magic with their boring corporate conformity. Or maybe that was just the IT pool.

Either way, I soon found my way past guards trying to flirt with me via rail gun and burst through a wall into the room Max was supposedly being held in.

Surprise, surprise, it was a really big room with a smaller observation room. Like the rest of the place, it had a bit of a schizophrenic design: fluorescent lit the middle of the room while the edges were illuminated by hovering orbs in sconces. It was a room with an odd fusion of modern and fantasy.

Oh, and enemies. Lots of enemies. Terrorjaw, Gorilla Badass, Motley Sue, and Quick Sand were all there from Pivot’s little Annihilation Eight team. Conventional Hephaestus guards held flanked me in a sort of crescent moon shape on either end of the Eight and their magical friends nearby. At the head of a group of men in camo who stood without guns in hand was something that looked like a floating iron maiden flanked by . Not the good kind, with the music and Eddie the Head. The pointy kind. Except the metal face on the outside had glowing eyes.

“Aha!” I exclaimed. “You’re all here! Right where I wanted you. Except Max, where’s he?”

The iron maiden answered with a digitally altered voice. “Your friend is within the testing chamber. Acolyte Samson, enlighten our guest as to the fate of his friend should he resist.”

A man stepped up beside him in urban grey, white, black camo and a hood over his face. He held something in his hand that engulfed it in magical flames without burning himself. I couldn’t see his face at all somehow, but his voice was clear enough. “Resist and your friend is thrown to the minotaur, who shall break his bones and devour him, leaving the head for last.”

“Sounds fun. I think I want to resist.”

“What?” Acolyte Samson asked.

“Well come on. Almost everyone in this room’s about to die and y’all went to all the effort to set that up. I mean, it sounds pretty cool. I’d like to see it since you guys actually found a minotaur. Or bred a minotaur. Hey, which one of you guys’ wives was picked for bull fucking duty? But seriously, all you guard guys, you don’t have too much longer to live. Don’t you want to be able to say you saw a supervillain fight a minotaur before your death?”

Silence reigned in the room as they contemplated my enthusiasm. Meanwhile, I spoke more softly into my helmet. “Alright, guys. The goal is getting Max out. Whatever you do, go for him, alright?”
I heard a chuckle that seemed indicative.

I put my hands up. “Alright, you convinced me. I’ll pretend to give up, then we can struggle and the minotaur can fight while and hopefully break out while we’re screwing around out here. Now, let me just get my helmet off…”

“You’re not getting anything off!” growled Terrorjaw.

“That’s not what your wife said,” I retorted with a smile as I removed my helmet and the shadowy beings hidden in my armor shot out like a fountain of black ink.

The boogeymen were scarcely out of my armor when the orbs around the room turned off. I slammed my armor back on my head and got low, dodging, ducking, dipping, diving, and then dodging again as rail rifles cracked. It didn’t help too much when one of them shattered my hip and another cracked the visor of my helmet. By then, the orbs were out, and with a wide smile from one of the disco-suited boogeymen, the fluorescents went all at once. We were plunged into darkness.

I had the suit though. My helmet allowed me to see with the ole night vision. That threw off most of the guys shooting at me, even some of the mages who hurled fireballs, icicles, lightning bolts, and magic blasts at the area where I stood. I was too busy closing in on the Eight. Motley Sue was my first target, though I soon saw tiny bits of sand whirling in my vision as Quick Sand got a sense of where I was. Eyes closed, Sue was strumming, trying to pay attention, trying to find me in everything that was going on. I briefly saw her eyes open in shock before teeth closed around me like a vice and I was slammed into the ground by Terrorjaw.

His teeth couldn’t get through, but he was pinning me in place. He gave me a nasty surprise. I thought it was only right to give him one back. The Nasty Surprise, my handy hidden mini-chainsaw, slid out and fired up, digging into the flesh at the corner of Terrorjaw’s predatory grin.

He howled even as he tried to dig his teeth into me. “Relax,” I said, “Everyone’s going to want to know how you got these scars.”

The bad news is I didn’t get to finish. The good news was that Motley Sue struck out blindly. Or she just didn’t give a shit about Terrorjaw. Her music caused something to slam into us, knocking Terrorjaw off of me. Unfortunately, it was Quick Sand’s time then. He gathered himself together and drove his sand into my visor, sandblasting it, then looped back around to keep up the pressure. Getting an idea, I called out to the various mages nearby. “Hey, wannabe Harry Potters! Your mommas turned tricks!”

From there, it was a matter of rolling as magical barrages flew into the area around me where Hephaestus’s pet supervillains had gathered. Quick Sand couldn’t keep up with me. He was mostly turned to glass after the first few lightning bolts hit, then melted, frozen, and finally shattered as everything else caught up. There weren’t many sand particles left after that.

It scattered the other villains, at least at first. Then they were on me. Something that vibrated to Sue’s tune held down my legs while Terrorjaw found me again and tried to bite off my Nasty Surprise arm. Even the muscle enhancers weren’t overcoming their determination. I still thought I had a good shot at them, right up until something sparked on the ceiling. One moment, there were just sparks that illuminated a pockmark-faced gorilla hard at work. Then some magical word reverberated through the room, and there was light. And I saw the light, and it was not good. There were parts of it that were good. Max was gone. Out of there thanks to the boogeymen, who have had an annoying ability to teleport when lights are turned on in any room they’re in. That was the first of the bad parts of all this.

The bad parts began when the iron maiden began to grow arms and legs, each one at least as long as I am. The iron maiden spoke, revealing it was the one to say whatever turned the lights back on. It began to chant something else, with its mages joining in. It was horrible. I couldn’t even bang my head to it.

Instead, I took one look at the situation and said “Fuck this shit.” The assassination part of the plan had gone FUBAR and I wasn’t in so much of a position to fight my way out as flee with as many body parts as possible.

I pulled a chicken grenade’s head off while it was slung through my belt, then pulled it out and went to throw it. Right when I tried, the floor opened up beneath me and I fell, grenade coming down with me. Everything looked like stars all around me as I fell, and I could see Gorilla Badass watch me from where he clung to the rafters above. I also saw the chicken grenade coming down right on me. Its explosion didn’t help my head any, but it helped throw me to wherever I was going. I heard my neck snap just before I blacked out.

That would be a great place for a cliffhanger if this was a story, or if I could just blog every single day. That’s not all or even the most important thing to happen to me in this time period. That was probably when I woke up to a room that was all white. There were no lights, but the light just came from somewhere. No doors, no windows, no sign of the hole I fell through.

The white didn’t much help my headache, but at least I hadn’t been out too long. Remember, knocking someone out for more than five minutes means they probably suffered brain damage. I could regrow the hardware, but I preferred not to lose the software, especially the hidden porn files. At least the spinal column regenerated thanks to the impact bursting some of the nanite quilting.

Since then, even though I’ve kept everything I had on me when I got in this place, it’s been…boring. Days straight in here. No word from the outside. No word from Max. No word from anybody. No radio, no TV, no satellite or wifi signals. Food was delivered to me, but it always just sort of appeared somewhere I wasn’t paying attention. Weird thing was, the peripheral cameras linked to my helmet never caught the delivery either. I would keep an eye out all around when it got to be a few hours since my last meal, and see nothing. Then I turned and there was food, sitting right on the ground. Sandwiches sometimes. Pizzas. Fast food burgers and fries. Wherever I was, I knew I was connected to the real world.

All the waste disappeared similarly, which nearly blew up in my face. After I’d noticed that trick being pulled on my droppings, I tried to hide a chicken grenade in the middle of a pile with a loose head, hoping, it might surprise my captor. Like I said, that one blew up in my face when just the crap disappeared.

I figured out a plan, though, and that’s why y’all have been able to read all this. The bug said I was still down there under that mansion. I just had to rig it send the message back through the other device with my computer to inform Max, Sam, Holly, and Moai where I am and hope they figure out something to get me out of here.

Fuck, this became a story about a man finding himself and having to depend on the power of friendship after all. Whatever happens, readers, don’t let them sell the movie rights to Disney.




Ragin’ Against Cajuns 7

Most men would balk at the prospect of being trapped like a rat in a city full of people who hate their guts and would dearly like to separate those guts from them. A city of panicky civilians. Edgy cops. Superheroes itching for a fight. Hephaestus death squads roaming the streets. Faustus mystics throwing the fabric of reality out of whack. Loosed monsters terrorizing the neighborhoods. Fellow villains who blame me for all of the above. Despite my cage, I am still a rat with rage.

Also, I was a rat with a raging hard on a few times these past few days. I swear, it wasn’t my fault! That viscera landed on me, not the other way around.

It was a wonderful time. I started off innocently enough. A few lost squads. Some bodies missing and never found. I literally painted one alley with blood. Not my best mural. It was supposed to be a couple of smiling children skipping under the grinning sun. Since I suck as an artist and only had one color to use, it turned out like two small stick figures with sharp smiles were dancing over a bloody ocean with a bloody skull hanging overhead.

I really didn’t think it was pants-pissingly bad, but that was the opinion of the next patrol that wandered in. I took the magi first. Dropped in behind him, grabbed him by the head, and tore it off. The skin was a little tricky, but I managed to get most of it off and laid it back on his neck stump. The skull I used to bash in the head of the nearest soldier, who was busy firing at a holographic projection of me. The other four ran for the other end of the alley.

From the first batch I had killed, I knew they preferred to fight me at range with their mag-rail rifles. While they retreated and took cracks at my projections, I took to the rooftops. The projections advanced on them and finally the guy closest to the other end of the alley tried to break for it. He turned and got my hand ramming into his gut. Hey, I needed his intestines. I hadn’t brought any rope with me to tie up his comrades. Sure, they disagreed with the idea of being tied up, but that was nothing a few ripped off scrota couldn’t solve. I even went back over and cauterized the wounds with my potato peeler laser. Wasn’t I being nice?

“Now then,” I said, leaning down close to one of them with his own radio in my hand, “isn’t it about time you called in reinforcements?”

Then I killed them and left an explosive surprise under their bodies for whoever responded. I ran into a wendigo as I left the alley, too. He was a big one, at least three heads taller than myself, though he looked like he was all skin and bones. “Give it a bit, until some other guys with guns come through here and you hear a bang, then you’ll have a feast,” I told it. It grinned at me with bloody, ragged scraps of flesh where most people have lips.

As a general rule, the various critters roaming the city didn’t gang up on me. There was no huge karmic “Kick Me” sign on my back. Just easy prey all over the place, and lots of dead bodies left behind by yours truly.

That kind of shit, targeting just their mundane forces, that was how I was getting to them. They wanted to throw supervillains at me. They had picked people generally good at finding and/or fighting me, too, though the competition for the added kill bonus disrupted their own plans somewhat. The supervillains were outsiders to them; expendable and paid far too well. I made sure they kept paying those fees even as their loyal regular employees suddenly found they didn’t want to go into work anymore.

I think it served another psy-ops purpose as well. Those normal people had to go out into a city of monsters, villains, heroes, and mages and were the ones coming back in pieces, if at all. It put quite the exclamation point on the notion that I fit in and they didn’t.

That’s not to say scenes like I earlier mentioned were just to punk them. I had other things in mind, but I’ll come back to that.

The situation around the city wasn’t quite as cozy as I have let on so far. I still had problems when members of the Annihilation Eight found me. They were good at that. At first, I thought it was because of their specialties. Motley Sue had some odd sound-based abilities that could have clued her in. I didn’t think Quick Sand was responsible because, while he could turn into a sand storm, he didn’t do it but a couple of times in the city. The second time, I heard he disturbed someone with the ability to electrocute him and got torn a new glass hole for his trouble. I also found Terrorjaw running around free again, so I figured his electroreception did it.

Well, that’s what I thought until I headed back to the trailer and found Terrorjaw and Motley Sue spying on it. When I saw that, I realized this wasn’t just them running across me. They had a way to track us. I knew that if we were to get away, I would need to distract the pair of them. Why not just sneak up and kill them? The way Terrorjaw whipped his head around once I got close enough, I knew he could tell I was around. It’s the electroreception. Sharks evolved an ability to sense their prey by the electricity their bodies put out. It probably worked better for Terrorjaw when he was underwater, but he still knew enough to turn when I landed on a few roofs over with my stealth systems activated.

I didn’t trust my ability to kill them in a straight up struggle before more enemies could show their ugly mugs, and that’s the sort of situation that made Sun Tzu cry while masturbating.

I needed a distraction. I couldn’t just go up to them and point away going, “Look over there, a distraction!” I needed something living and malevolent that I didn’t care about. Unfortunately, right wing radio hosts don’t like to live in such dark-skinned places as New Orleans, so I had to toss that idea like a baby in some bathwater.

Instead, I went monster hunting. A good choice was found maybe five miles away, outside of a hospital. A blue snake as long as a car taunted onlookers at the Emergency Room entrance as it devoured a screaming kid. I didn’t know the specifics and I didn’t necessarily care. It was small enough to carry, and that was good enough for me.

It tried to turn on me and crush me when I grabbed it, though. The boy in its mouth fell silent, then tried to reach out and pull me into the mouth. Up close like that, I could notice the kid wasn’t quite right. Its proportions were off and it bulged in the wrong places. The eyes weren’t real, just pale bumps. The snake’s eyes, though, were unable to stand up to the might of the potato peeler laser and I blinded it in one of them long enough to escape its deadly coils and drag it behind me by the very end of its tail.

After a little bit of digging, I’ve learned this odd beastie was called a Biscione. It beat carrying a Florida Skunk Ape any day.

To add to all the mindfuckery going on, I needed to distract Terrorjaw long enough to distract both of them. Why did the chicken grenade cross the road and explode? To make a shark look to the other side.

From there, it was a matter of tapping Motley Sue on the shoulder, pointing at Terrorjaw, and yelling, “Look, a distraction!” She turned her head to look just a little before realizing what she was doing. By the time she turned to look at me once more, I had slapped her in the face with a giant blue snake and its child-decoy tongue.

Terrorjaw leapt at me. I dropped onto my back and swung at him, the big viper wrapping around Terrorjaw’s body like it tried to do to me. I left the three of them to their fun and got in the trailer to haul ass out of there.

Only after I put half the city between myself and the hunting members of the Eight did I check on whoever was in the trailer. Hopefully they weren’t busy trying to defuse a bomb with a house of cards.

Moai greeted me as I opened the door. I had left him behind because some of my attacks didn’t need him to accompany me. I was a bit more surprised to see Sam and Holly. They were supposed to be out with Max, adding something special to the city’s dwindling water supply. Holly’s hair was wet, but Sam was so dry she smelled like a fire.

“Where’s Max?” I asked.

Holly answered me. “They captured him.”

I stepped in and shut the door. “You’re sure?”

“They didn’t kill him,” Sam spoke up, “They plan on using him as a hostage.” She was very, very focused on her spray gun, checking it over. I could see small scabs on her lower lip, too, from where she’d bitten it earlier.

I slid into the seat by the miniature table. “You’d think by now someone would realize that doesn’t work very well.”

“Either way, we still can’t get him on our own,” Holly said as she and Sam plopped onto the couch. Holly kept flicking her eyes over to the door, fingers digging into the couch just slightly.

“You’re right. That’s why we need to finish this little army I’ve been working on.”

“Army?” queried Sam. She began to nibble on her lip again. All the tension in there, I needed to distract them now.

“I’m just looking for a few good boogeymen.”

“We know you have a plan to save Max; we just want to make sure you’re not losing focus again,” Sam added. She looked down the gun as she finished checking it over, pointing it around until it came to rest aimed at me.

Under my helmet, I grinned. “Sometimes the best plans look like you have no plan.”

After moving our base of operations some more and keeping the car’s signal jammers up to try and keep our enemies in the dark, the rest of the gang split off to get the final ingredients. I headed over to the site of the ritual to get things set up.

It used to be a grocery store, but at some point it was shut down and everything was removed from it. That left me a nice big empty building to exploit when New Orleans got dumped in the crapper. Even the sign with the grinning pig was gone from out front. The doors were rigged to drop knives and fiberglass insulation on anyone attempting unauthorized entry, at least until I pulled out a keychain and pressed the unlock button. The grocery store lit up briefly as I did so.

Inside was a clear flat space occupied by several dead bodies with buckets underneath to catch the blood. A lot of it had spilled onto the floor, and I had left footprints in it, but I didn’t anticipate that being a problem. I still had more than enough to draw the necessary symbols and characters. I needed to adjust the lighting and PA system, though.

Soon, Holly and Sam let themselves in with a small pile of polyester leisure suits. “Sorry, this is all we could find on such short notice. Will it be enough?” Holly asked. You know, the dark circles under her eyes almost made me feel sorry for her, if I were capable of such. I’m not saying I did, because that would be ridiculous and a potentially exploitable weakness.

“Relax, this will be perfect. Less than I hoped for, but this is still the largest gathering of these outfits the city has seen since the ‘70s. Now, we just need a good song to go with our intended purpose…”

Holly dropped off her load of suits. I dismissed her, said she could go find somewhere clean enough for a nap. She told us she would watch the doors while Sam helped me with the lights and the music selection. “I never knew you did magic,” she said to me when we were alone.

“Stage magicians and I have a lot in common in how we operate, though they draw the line at actually cutting people in half. As far as real mystic powers go…yeah, my body doesn’t channel that stuff real well.”

She stopped and looked at me then. I think she would have hit me had we been in less violent times and had I not pushed Holly in front of a truck last month. “Then what are we doing here?”

“Relax. Rituals aren’t necessarily the same as spells. This right here is one that requires no real magical mumbo jumbo from the person setting it all up.”

“How do you know that?”

“That’s what it said in ‘Arcane Rituals For Dumbasses’.”

Sam pulled her spray gun on me. “You better know what you’re doing.” She tried to find my eyes and hold them through the visor of my helmet, to no effect. “Holly’s been through too much lately for you to fuck this up for her too. She can’t even sleep. She’s too worried something else is after us, and it always is with you around.”

“Easy, she-bear. A guy might feel he’s being threatened if you say all that with a weapon pointed at me. Max knew what he was getting into and he trusts me enough about this. You should too. I’m pretty good about getting what I want.”

“Even you fuck up, Gecko, you just make it look like it worked out for you. Everyone makes mistakes.”

“Yeah, I do. The thing about me is that I don’t let a little thing like failure keep me from doing something. You know how far I’m willing to go. If I don’t get what I want here, I’ll take it out on everyone hiding Max from us. You got me?”

Sam lowered her spray gun and let out a deep breath. We got back to work and finished up our end of things right about the time Holly called out that Moai had arrived. Good. He had the key to the entire ritual. The big, shiny, reflective disco ball.

It was a simple matter to hang it.

“Alright, everyone. This might get a little hairy and it might sound like a banshee getting a root canal in here. Careful you don’t get polyester poisoning too. I guess I should have mentioned that before you were carrying the suits. Aside from all that, are we ready?”

Holly started to speak up, “Maybe I should g-“

“Too bad!” I yelled and laughed as I flipped a switch.

The store came alive with multicolored lights reflecting off the disco ball to flash around the room as Gloria Gaynor’s rich voice declared that first she was afraid. She was petrified.

That was a good start as shadows gathered in the room. Not just regular shadows. Moving shadows. Inky shadows. Whispering shadows. They grew darker as they passed over the blood, then they congregated toward the leisure suits. They whirled about one another before some of them filled in the suits and stood up, shadow men with black voids for mouths and eyes. Similar faces looked on from walls lit up by spinning lights.

Boogeymen. Dark, ancient beings of fear that hid in the shadows of man’s world and fed off fear. They weren’t the most powerful of beings or the smartest, but there were a lot of them and they could do one thing better than any other magical critter I’d ever encountered. They could get funky.

Some got a little close for Holly’s taste. I saw her tense as she crossed her arms. She was ready to lose her wits and come out swinging if they imposed on her too much, but Moai was able to shoo the shadowy stalkers away, to Sam’s gratitude.

After a lively disco, a large boogeyman with spiky-looking shoulder tentacles approached. Though he stayed out of reach, the tentacles reached vainly in my direction.

“You enjoy the party?” I asked.

He hissed in laughter.

“Good. Now, I have a job for you folks. Something to put a little boogey in some hard cases who have been trying to keep me down. You guys are going to help me put the fear into some big, bad power dealers. While we’re at it, I’m going to rescue my buddy Max. I know, I know. If you’ve been following the internet, he gets kidnapped or arrested all the time when I’m fighting someone. If I kissed him, he’d probably wind up dead in a refrigerator somewhere. Which is just what I wanted them to think, seeing as he and I implanted a small beacon into him.”

Holly’s mouth dropped and then she facepalmed. Sam scoffed. “They put up a barrier that is holding a whole city hostage. They have stuff hidden deep underground. Is your signal going to get out?”

“One moment,” I told the boogeyman, then jumped on top of Moai to address Sam and Holly. “Thou shalt not question the lord thy Gecko! At least not about this, ok? Yeah, I’ve been checking out their radio systems lately, but I made this beacon where it would send out a signal that would definitely get to me with Max’s location every time I checked for it. It circumvents all their defenses by transmitting data to another dimension. Then, next time I communicate with the same dimension, I can retrieve the information about where he is.”

“When?” Holly asked, tapping her toe impatiently.

“About midnight when I provide that dimension with an update about my activities.”


Thanks for the help, folks.




The Jersey Score 6

A cowry is a type of mollusk that counts as a gastropod mollusk. Learned that while I was helping overhaul the Super Snail with Gastrolord.

I learned a great many things from him, most of them useless. I will never get back the time I used up listening to him yammer on and on about his stupid RPG game series he wanted to make. Gods that gained power from various actions related to humans. Godswar this, Godswar that, and boy did he hate criticism of it, or even the suggestion that some of his ideas weren’t entirely original. The second game, Lost Vegas, being a post-apocalyptic game set around Las Vegas with regular survivors trying to survive against raiding slavers? The third game involving regular humans getting superpowers in New Orleans? Uh huh. Suuuuure. He may have had pipe dreams about making it rich creating knockoffs of Fallout: New Vegas and Infamous 2, but that’s not what he was doing for a living. He was a supervillain with poor financial planning.

I know, I know, who am I to criticize someone’s dreams after advocating people go out and seize them? I’m the guy he got into an argument with, that’s what! Somehow, we got into a discussion about another game, Bayonetta. Full-on fanservice, complete with the main character shooting angels while pole dancing in a graveyard. It was made with that in mind. Gassy thought it was horribly over-sexualized. This from a guy whose most powerful goddess gained power from sleeping with human men and whose created servants for that goddess take jobs as whores to siphon power for her. This was a game meant to be taken seriously.

He stormed out in a huff when I said that, mumbling something about how that was completely different. Hey, I have been an extremely poor example of feminism here, but at least I never said a woman’s strength increased proportional to the amount of bukkake she wears. Yeah, can you imagine a male character with superpowers that function that way? “Hey Ironman, we worked out a new, strokier way to put your armor on. Oh, hello there Captain America. Ready for your special ‘injection’ to give you strength? Careful, Dr. Banner’s getting buttfucked. You wouldn’t like him when he’s buttfucked.” Actually, that last one would work if anyone ever threw that in.

Some people are hard to work with, and the lack of ability to take criticism well regarding his writing? Yeah, I used the time Gastrolord was out to mess around with the electrical system and the ejection system. I figured he could turn on me over some minor slight in the heat of battle. The tricks I installed ought to keep that from being a problem.

I don’t take betrayal or shoddy writing well.

Gastrolord’s attitude improved when he saw what our collaboration had wrought. I mean, he didn’t like the chrome Mohawk between the stalks on its head. The stalks themselves had been modified. Forget just electrifying the outer shell of armor as a defensive measure. We went full-on Tesla electro-beam on this bitch!

I’ve never met Nikola Tesla, but I doubt he’s happy about people using his work for that sort of thing. He has stopped by the Twenty-First Century a few times along with Teddy Roosevelt and Alfred Nobel, causing a big stir. Adventures followed every time. Tesla did all his energy and electricity stuff, Nobel would stomp around in the mining power armor he invented, and Teddy would inevitably get drunk and shoot something. Team TNT, as the group is called, has traveled the globe and time as well to right wrongs and solve crimes ever since they collaborated in the latter half of the Nineteenth Century.

Cool shit, but they weren’t the important part of this story. We gave the Super Snail electro-beams from its stalk and a new haircut. But wait, there’s more! I added a laser on top of the shell that could rotate to fire on enemies that weren’t too close to its body. Together, we increased the power plant’s efficiency a little and reduced the booster rockets’ rate of recharge by twenty percent.

That alone ought to keep him onboard with the plan at least until he’s at the warehouse blowing shit up. He was happy as a slug in a rug. He could stay that way, too, unless I needed to a-salt him.

While he was sitting tight, it was time to work on the opposite side of the coin. That’s right, coins have two sides. You might say I was a bit two-faced like that.

In my off time, I’d maintained contact with Generation Flex. They weren’t messing with Gastrolord, so they had more time for regular patrols. They even managed to save the mayor when his brakes gave out.

Anyway, I went and met up with them to join in as Missile Patriot. They pulled up to meet me at that most patriotic of institutions, the bus stop.

“Yooooooooo, yo yo yo yo! What’s happening, bro?” asked Brian from the driver’s side window of their truck as he pulled up and skidded to a halt.

“Nothing, my fine compatriot in the fight against Communism. I have need of your truck bed. These buckets are carrying things which are both valuable and extremely stinky. Also a little bit of cable. Can I set them back there?”

“That would be better than riding up front with them.”

I nodded in thanks and set the roll of cable and the buckets of bloody fish guts back there. Then I came around to the passenger side and slid in.

“Out of gas?” he asked, motioning toward my arm rockets with his head.

“Conserving it, as all great Americans should. Remember, carpooling will keep this nation strong. Also, I thought we could hang out and chat. Sorry I was a no-show for that run in with the snail guy.”

“It’s cool. We’ve been handling him by ourselves for awhile now. You got any preference where you wanna patrol?”

“Do you mind doing a drive-by of that Hephaestus place? I heard they had a bit of a fracas there.”

“We can check it out, but we can’t do anything. They paid off the cops after crap blew up all over there. If we went in and didn’t find anything, they might put the cops on us for trespassing.”

Bah, trespassing. Going where a person isn’t wanted is really considered a crime? In that case, pretty much everywhere I’ve ever been would be after me for trespassing.

Anyway, Brian drove us toward the place. He did have a query for me in relation to my goal. “What do you have against Hephaestus anyway? Is it personal?”

“Hephaestus killed my parents,” I said, slipping into my best Batman growl.

“Oh. Oh man, I’m sor-“

“It was the eighties. It was a dark night in Kingscrow, the streets filled with a rancid mixture of fog and hairspray. My mother dragged my dad away from his business wheeling and dealing to go with me to see some movies based on the Beverly Hillbillies. ‘Return of Jed’ or something like that. Hephaestus was pulling a robbery in the area when the three of us stumbled on it. They sent me running away, mom’s poofy shoulderpads obscuring the goons’ view of me. From that day forward, I knew I would become a fighter for great justice!”

Brian just sat there absorbing that for awhile. The only thing he said to all that was, “Wow.”

We sat like that until we got on the street that ran behind the warehouse compound. Everything was fixed. Those had been the only shipments to or from the place, our surveillance showed us. They either halted regular operations or were moving it another way, like the underground tunnel I suspected they had. We never saw Dr. Typhoon or Terrorjaw enter the premises either.

“Doesn’t look like anything happened?”

“You and Max better be ready all the same. I’ve been snooping. Gastrolord wants to hit this place. Say, where is your friend with the muscles anyway?”

“Max is busy right now. Working. Gotta make that money, you what I mean? I guess Gastrolord knows too.”

“I have to know me. What does a guy like Max do for a living?”

“He sells car stereos. Installs ‘em too. He gets that bass pumping.”

“Huh, that makes sense. What about you?”

“College, man. Gotta get my degree and find some work. Won’t be easy and I already got $30,000 worth of debt.”

“Ouch. Not going to try and make money off your persona?”

“Naw, this is just for Max. He’s the one who wants to do all this. I want to move on to bigger and better things. I’m allowed to do that, right? Even if I got powers?”

“I suppose you do. It’s all laid out in the Ninth Amendment, of course: ‘The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.’ Y’all are much different than I expected, you know?”

“It’s that fucking show, isn’t it? They take a bunch of assholes from New York and Empyreal City, give them a house on the shore, let them do stupid shit, and everyone thinks that’s us.”

“Huh. You guys must be…is that a shark?”

Yep, it was. Terrorjaw couldn’t help but respond to the buckets of chum in the back of the truck. He was running up the street, scaring drivers and pedestrians away. He had an eyepatch on since our last run-in. It was a good look for him. He just needed a pirate hat.

“I’ll go show that fish my hook.” I practiced a few punches, then opened the door and gave the Missile Patriot’s newest catchphrase. “For great justice!”

I swung onto the back of the truck. Brian slowed, then stopped. Terrorjaw’s gibbering visage approached as he sprinted past other cars, not even noticing the people inside. I knew some sharks had an ability to sense electricity. I didn’t know if he had that ability. What I had known was that he was a fucking shark. Bloody fish guts? Sharks eat that shit up. I readied to unleash a rocket punch as he approached.

He got close and his undamaged eye rolled into the back of his head. He jumped. I almost threw the punch, but was stopped by the sight of Bulletproof Brian throwing himself between us. Terrorjaw’s teeth dug in impotently. Against Terrorjaw, Bulletproof Brian could have been called Biteproof Brian. That made it easy. I grabbed the metal cable I set in the back with the buckets for just this confrontation and hopped out.

I tried getting his arms, but he resisted. Finally, I just passed it to Brian. “Lend a hand?”

He sighed, or maybe that was from the pressure on his diaphragm, and took the cable. He passed it just inside of himself and I grabbed it out the other end of Terrorjaw’s mouth. Then I straddled his back, grabbed both ends, and pulled.

Terrorjaw reeled back, swiping his hands at the sky. Then he tried to both buck me off and turn Brian around so he could swallow him whole. I don’t think he was thinking too well at the time. Funny how that happens to supervillains.

I yanked on my reins, getting him away from Brian. Instead, he concentrated on throwing me off his back. He jumped, he spun, he rolled, he even knocked me into a car. This was why sharks were never allowed in rodeos. Only cows and horses, which is bullshit.

As he began to tire, I pulled hard on the reins and used his motions to ram his head into other things. Parking meters, mailboxes, a trash can. Then I swapped hands and turned backwards. “Let’s rocket!” From the HUD in my eyes, I put in the code. 3-3-5, EJ. He roared as the backblast from the rockets burnt him. I pulled into the sky and eased up my grip on one hand. Excess cable pulled along the corners of Terrorjaw’s mouth, cutting into it as I flew into the air. When I clamped down on the cable, that was when he couldn’t stay on his feet any more. He was pulled up with me, at which point I turned my rockets downward toward the ground. It was a fairly easy landing for me, but he flipped over, cable still caught in his teeth, and smashed into the road.

In all the time it took me to get things ready, Hephaestus might have managed to bring in another villain. Maybe, maybe not. I couldn’t speak to their overconfidence.

One thing I do know is that one of the ones who took a bite out of my ass just wound up in the shark cage. A police shark cage, true, but all the media attention and public exposure means Hephaestus couldn’t money that situation over so easily as they did at their compound.

And that, dear readers, is how you school a fish.




The Jersey Score 4

It’s been a few long, long days. I’ve had days like this before.

I haven’t been abandoned, but I have been isolated. Not usually a problem. See, Max stuck around with Sam and Holly, who were staying armed. By now, it should be obvious that wouldn’t do too much to deter me, but I gave them space and stayed out of my armor for that. Holly’s little peashooter would have been hard pressed to win a shootout with a pigeon, but Sam’s new gun looked like something Max threw together using a hose sprayer. Whether it emitted liquids or gasses, there was a whole range of unfortunate probable effects they could have caused me.

Hopefully I wouldn’t let two macho men get between myself and the women again. With Operation: Anal Assault successful, it was only a matter of time before Hephaestus realized it was the water making them sick. By my reckoning, the worst thing they could do to frustrate me would probably be to pack up the whole operation and leave. They had the money and the experience hushing up.

That was why I was rushing through my preparations as much as I could. There’s a limit to the amount of hurrying you can do when handling explosives, after all. I needed to restock my chickens and throwing knives. I did so after secluding myself in the main bed area, which limited my space even more. Making matters worse, but informative, were the others. Max had Sam put on Outlaw X.

Music is fine and all, but the vast majority of it has always been crap. Then, people pick the diamonds from the dung heaps to cherish as time goes on. They just haven’t separated the good stuff, or even the annoying stuff that’s still fun, from the current crap. Music is the sound of emotion, people, and I do so love people’s emotional noises. Because some men aren’t looking for money. Some men just want to watch the world burp.

Anyway, the horrible pop and rap requested wasn’t quite so bad. I especially disliked them butchering rock with some particularly idiotic recent selections. But enough filler about songs so generic I can’t even remember their names or lyrics. Outlaw X had a little news segment where they mentioned me, and not in a good way like I’d just blown up a skyscraper or decapitated the Statue of Liberty.

The hunt was still on, though nothing was big enough that it involved locking down entire towns. I wasn’t so worried about that. Deception has been my bread and butter for a long time. If the bread was a person’s body and the butter was gasoline, that is. You know what they say: you can’t make toast without cracking a few legs.

No, what I considered a threat was the part where the radio said “And it seems Hephaestus has brought more help onboard to end the threat of Gecko definitively. For the last time, Rhinomancer, they’re picking people, not taking applications! Now it appears Rumble is joining up with the team. That brings them up to six at last count. It might stay at six. That’s a recurring team size for supervillains. Getting back to the music, Gastrolord in Newark has requested ‘Demons’ while he cruises around in his suped-up Super Snail. Good luck, Gastrolord.”

I should have been keeping a better ear out. I have villains coming after me. I must have earned a lot of schadenfreude from people.

Ignoring texts coming in from Generation Flex, I slid out of the little bed with my cocks in my hand. I found them out there munching on cereal. I saw Sam’s hand go to the spray gun.

“Alright, now y’all were right to remind me to keep my eye on the prize. That can be tough for me. If y’all are still with me on this, I ain’t gonna stall too much longer. Let’s get armed and dangerous, then we go in there and catch them with their pants down, which should be easier with all the laxative I gave them. This isn’t a time to try and make friends with some bunch of heroes. They can go blow it out their ass. It’s time to make enemas.”

“Enemies,” Holly corrected.

“Isn’t that what I said?”

They wanted to smile. I could see it. I think.

So over the next few days, we gathered what we needed. That didn’t mean much for Sam and Holly. Max put together something he said would cover our escape and keep the police off our tail. It was a thin brown substance, but it glowed purple, so I didn’t press him for details. Meanwhile, I put together a few more explosive throwing knives, readied some nanite syringes, prepped a couple doses of blood agents, coated a net with thermite, and assembled more chickens. You can’t count your chicken grenades before the plot is hatched, you see, and they’re very flexible in terms of material and uses. The timed explosive throwing knives have never been as useful, but I suck at throwing and they account for that. As for the net and the arsene, I just had a couple of wicked thoughts.

When we hit that shit, we hit it hard and at night. No, really. I hit that guard station so hard, it thought it owed me child support, back rent, and overtime. We barreled through in my dear Black Sunshine, crashing through their ridiculous stick thing that goes up and down, then speeding past. The guard poked his head out, probably thinking he got away without any trouble. Too bad we’d launched a missile as we hit it. It pulled a loop and came the warhead activated, causing a hand on the end to open just one finger. The cloud that rose from the explosion bore a striking resemblance to that particular warhead as well.

There wasn’t a way to get the car in, unfortunately. The door was too tight a squeeze and the loading dock was off the ground a few feet for easier loading. I spun the car to a stop, accompanied by the sound of women’s screams and heavy metal. Actually, women’s and men’s screams. Max started before Sam and Holly, and I joined in because I was having fun. The bullets bouncing off the windshield and hood really added to the effect.

I popped open the door and threw a pair of explosive knives. It was hard to keep track of them as I landed and rolled, but I scattered assembled exterior guards who were dressed in regular rent-a-cop uniforms. One of them put a couple good shots into my back up from the loading dock. A syringe hit him in the neck and doubled over, puking. Max slid onto my trunk and hopped up next to him. “It’s alright. Let it all out.”

I turned back to the car, where I saw Sam getting in on the driver’s side and Holly ready to ride shotgun with an actual shotgun, which is where the term comes from anyway. “Would you kindly hand me my net?” I asked Sam. She tossed it on my head. I turned back to Max, who had pinned down three guards behind the other end of the loading dock. After one lucky shot, only two were firing back.

I pulled a chicken and turned to smack a bitch upside the head who was trying to sneak up on me with a knife. I grabbed him by the neck, slapped him across the face with the rubber chicken a few more times, then tore the head off the chicken and shoved it into the front of his pants. I spun him around and took careful aim past the car to the end of the dock where two of the guards were puking. I kicked him right in the gut, the extra strength from my muscle enhancers sending him into the air and toward the other guards. My aim was a little off, though. He exploded a little high off the ground. Still, nobody was shooting at Max from that direction anymore, so I considered it a win.

The ladies gunned the car and got it away from us and our pesky explosions, spears stabbing out of the tires as Sam experimented with buttons to help keep the other armed guards at bay.

I dusted my hands off and turned to Max. “So I made them crap themselves, and now you’re making them barf?”

“I thought I would kick them while they’re down. Good to see your head is back where it needs to be.” He moved toward the door right near us as I climbed the steps to it.

“Good for you maybe.” I pulled the net off of myself and readied to throw it with my left hand while opening the door with my right.

One, two, three!…It didn’t open at first.

“Must be a magnetic lock. I should have something to eat through it around here…” Max said as he rifled through his pockets. I tried the wall next to it. Concrete, and thick.

I was just about to pile up some knives and chickens when I heard Holly shout “Look out!”

I saw in my side view that the car was facing us, something bright flashing as it fired. I grabbed Max and jumped. It was shallow, but far, and I turned so I was beneath him to keep him safe. I was repaid with a lot of skidding as the rocket Sam fired hit the door, this time leaving behind a cloud shaped like the aloha hand sign before it dissipated.

Max helped me up and we headed back for the door. Once the smoke cleared, someone inside fired on the car, which prompted Holly to stick her head back inside it. I rushed for it and untangled the net from around my arm. I jumped out into the doorway, tossing the net…and watched it land on the floor.

I slumped my shoulders. “That was disappointing. Good thing I didn’t pull the fuse early.”

Max patted me on the back. “Better luck next time.”

We were in an entry hall that opened right into the warehouse. Ahead and to our left, there was a door. Past that at the corner, a guard poked his head out, then slid out on his knee to fire on us. Max hid behind me, at least until I ran forward, grabbed the net, pulled a shiny strip off one corner, and threw it at the guard before he got back behind cover. Starting from the corner the fuse was pulled from, the net burst into flames. The flaming net landed on the guard, who stumbled and fell. The thermite burned quickly, but hot. It can cut through steel in higher quantities. By the time it was done with our stalwart friend over there, he looked like char siu pork. It’s a type of Chinese food.

I turned and gave Max a thumbs-up. “Nothin’ but net.”

As Max and I entered the main warehouse room, we were surprised to find there were surprisingly few guards around. In fact, that idiot back near the door seemed to be the only one inside. That didn’t make a whole lot of sense. It just seemed to be one, big quiet room full of shelves stretching up into the air, all lit by pervasive fluorescent lighting that hung from exposed rafters.

“Hey, Gecko, I’m going to check that door back in the hall. I’ll call you if I need you to crack the computer, but I can do better with my gun in closed spaces.” It was backward to send him for the computer, I couldn’t fault him for caring about his own safety. The resistance to us had vanished utterly. I didn’t begrudge him a chance to miss out on whatever sniper crossfire they were setting up to catch us in a room full of long rows of shelves with limited ability to dodge.

“Yeah, fine. I’ll see whose fire I can draw in here. Just keep an eye out for any surprise parties waiting for us.”

Max nodded and turned to head back thataway.

I hit my little splitter hologram, appearing to break apart into three of myself as I walked into the warehouse proper, being rather noisy as I did so. “Hello? I’m here to scout for the show Storage Whores! We understand you’ve got a bunch of useless junk around here. I can help you get it off your hands! We’re looking for knick-knacks, doohickeys, gizmos, gadgets, whatchamacallits, thingamajigs, thingamabobbers, thingamajiggerbobbers, and any spare humans you got laying around.”

Everything within sight got really bright, then completely dark, along with a sort of burning, exploding feeling. If you or a loved one feel chronic explosions around your body, seek medical help immediately. I didn’t mainly because I was dazed. Seriously, I was out of it. After a moment, my eyes rebooted and I realized I was on my back with pieces of my armor missing. The explosives were all gone too. I stared up as some man in a green and white costume descended, spinning furiously in the middle of a cyclone. I sat up and looked around. My holograms were gone and near where I had been standing was a nasty black mark in the concrete floor. Looking up again, I could see this airhead had electricity flashing across his body as he rotated.

I checked my suit’s holographics system. It was toast. Too many of the cameras and projectors had been destroyed or damaged. I rolled to the side a bit far. I needed to be able to close with that asshole and I’d gotten all discombobulated. I could see a smirk on his spinning face as he landed. A vortex surrounded him still, but not nearly as strong. “Easy money,” he said as more electricity gathered along his arms. I took a step, tripped, rolled, and jumped. I was messed up and not thinking all that clearly, but trying to recover. You try to think clearly when part of your brain got hurt by an EMP.

I never reached him, as something tackled me and big ass teeth chomped down on me. The armor protected me where it could. Where it was missing, I got nommed on by shark teeth. It lifted me up in the air and shook me from side to side, but it was then I was able to recognize my assailant. It was a stout shark man. Terrorjaw. I was on the menu. I hated being on the menu. I couldn’t tell him to eat me.

“This…fucking…bites.” I said, waved from side to side.

I think he laughed a little. It was hard to tell. I know I saw one of his eyes, though. Rolled back. It’s how some sharks protect their eyes when biting.

“Aye…aye…aye…aye…eye!” I said and jammed my fist in there. That caused him to growl, something I didn’t think half-man, half-sharks could do.

“Ahh, fucking hell! Like a fucking burnt tattoo needle in my dickhole!” Terrorjaw yelled, grabbing at his eye.

“Move over, Chinese takeout. I’m finishing him off.”

I reached around for my nanites, but then I realized ones would have already been in my system. Then, still a little off, I realized none of them would work. Lightning strike. EMP. Fuck.

Something flew against the spinning storm guy’s vortex and bounced off to stick into Terrorjaw’s skin. Terrorjaw puked all over me. A Louisiana state license plate, number 007-981, landed on my chest. Lovely. Glass broke near me and purple smoke filled the area. I took my chance to crawl toward the general vicinity of the door, dragging the license plate along with me for some reason.

I would like it emphasized once more, I was a little out of it. After a moment, I felt something tug on my arm. Then I saw a familiar smile on a pale face.

“About time I rescued you, hmm?”

He grabbed me by my arm and helped me back up. We set off for the exit.

“Where’d they go?”

“They backed away once the smoke went up, but I think that tornado man is getting rid of the smoke.”

“Would it have killed him to stay in it?”

“No, but he didn’t know that.”

“What did it do? What’s going to happen to me?”

“Nothing, as long as I get you back to the trailer.”

“Lead the way.”

We got out of there, Max dropping another thing of smoke behind us. Lightning crackled against the top of the door just after we passed through it.

Outside, Sam and Holly had just gone airborne off a wrecked humvee, the car’s flamethrower firing into the air just before it landed on top of a large man in tactical gear holding a bazooka. At least someone was having fun. As I saw it happen, I had this odd urge to install a horn that played the notes to the old song “Dixie”.

The car skidded to a stop near me and Max tossed me in the backseat. I think someone sat on my head as they hauled ass out of there, but I wasn’t complaining too much.

That was fucked up. Just all of it. I’m a little clearer of mind now, though, despite having to recover from my wounds and the growth of some odd flesh-colored tentacles that sprouted from the exposed sections of my skin. Max had the antidote for that, and I had the nanites to cover the rest. Sam even pulled a pair of Terrorjaw’s teeth out of me. Holly made herself a necklace out of them.

Yeah, I should have been paying attention to any sort of news about me. I might have seen this coming ahead of time. Put it together quicker, you know what I mean?

It’s not over yet, though. If Hephaestus thought a squad of supervillains capable of counteracting all my usual tactics would be enough to put me down, they had better think again. It takes more than sharks, lightning, and tornadoes to keep me under the weather.




I Got Clubbed 4

Work work work, work work work. I’ve been avoiding it, but doing so has been nearly exhausting.

I tried watching the news on my giant screen on the throne, but it was so loud out there that I could barely hear the story. Aside from all this mess about people being overly friendly around the city for some reason, it mostly focused on that wizard who tried to kill Congress. There’s going to be some fallout now. He died and there’s been a petition online to give him one of those fancy state funerals with the white horse and the carriage.

A bit of an exaggerated reaction, I guess, but his death has already caused some more serious problems. For all I’ve disliked how heroes don’t end the real problems out there, there are costs to them killing off a regular ole villain. Just ask that bank in D.C. where some guy made of sewage flooded the place and killed everyone, then took the money.

Or this one teenage girl around Empyreal City that panicked when using her powers to scare some people at her school. Oh, the ability to change the color of something seems innocent enough when the cheerleader who, let’s be honest about what probably happened, picked on her finds her brunette locks suddenly turned eye-blindingly pink and yellow. All her hair, to the roots. From what I hear, the carpet matches the drapes.

Sounds kinda hot, actually. Pink is a good color for hair.

School resource officer saw it and approached the scene. Girl overreacted and turned his eyes an impenetrable shade of black. The cop overreacted too and pulled out his sidearm. She tried to grab it from him. It went off, killed a couple bystanders, and now the girl is missing. The mom was all distraught it sounds like, but cops are now watching the house.

One’s a purposeful escalation, the other not so much. It tends to make some people nervous when a hero kills a villain. Though occasionally some of us are such total dicks that people don’t mind so much.

You know…that reminds me. For all the press making a big damn deal, there hasn’t been one bit of retaliation for my supposed death.

For their sakes, I’ve chosen to interpret that as them thinking I didn’t really die.

I was distracted from catching up on the news by some jackass throwing a beer at me. It shattered against the throne and somebody cheered.

Odd. Normally the crowd is surprisingly mellow most nights. Ah well. I looked for whoever looked like a smug dick without a bottle. There. I launched myself to my feet and ran to the end of the catwalk. The coat I wear when I’m not in armor flared out as I dropped to the floor right in front of the little ass and his friends.

The dipshit was in all black. Really tight pants with combat boots. A black sleeveless leather hoodie thing. Detached fishnet sleeves and black nailpolish.
“Oh shit!” he said tried to get away. I grabbed his forearm as he turned away to flee and twisted it around into a wrist lock. “Ow, ow, ow, let go, let go!”

I laughed at his pain. All that screaming for something so minor. The parting of the crowd around me and the sound of motors and heavy footsteps preceded Carl as he approached from behind. “There a problem here, boss?”

“Ah, yeah there’s a problem. Let me go. You can’t treat me this way,” pleaded my insolent guest. He twisted around and I could see the little horizontal lines on the underside of his forearms. I tore the fishnet sleeve to get a better view. Scabs, except for a couple that were still bleeding.

“Uh, boss?” asked Carl.

“Carl, our friend here is completely right. This is the wrong way to treat him.”

Twenty minutes later, I sat on a pier with a strong fishing pole in my hands. It was a big thick one with a huge reel. That’s the sort you use for shark fishing. Carl stood behind me, outside the armor, and laughed his ass off as I dunked the little cutter into the water.

The water had rendered that goth fellow a soprano.

“Now cut that out!” I chuckled and dunked him under the water briefly before raising him back up. “You wanted attention. You welcomed pain. Enjoy!” I dipped him back under the surface. Something tugged.

I stuck the line rod in a holder and tugged on it at a higher up position to lift the goth guy out of the water. “Hey, what was that tugging?”

“Stop it, something’s down there. Let me go, alright?”

“You’re sure there’s something down there?”

He nodded. “Yes! Yes, now can I go?”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, you crazy fuck!”

“Double check,” I told him and dropped him back into the water and sat down to hold the rod again.

I turned to check on Carl as that brought a fresh bout of laughter to him. “You alright back there?”

“Yeah. Jesus, yeah. That’s..hahaha…fucking hilarious, boss.”

I felt a tug that didn’t stop, bringing my attention back to the water. The water churned as the line jerked all over the place. I stood up in a flash to get a better view. “Carl, hey Carl. Quick! Did you bring any popcorn?”

“No, boss,” came the reply. He was getting over his gigglefit now.

“Aww. Oh well, we still get a show.”

Most of the action happened underwater where we couldn’t see, though. All the splashing didn’t help matters. When it calmed down, a head poked out of the water. It was pointy like a shark’s, but seemed to be attached to a neck. He opened a mouth full of rows of pointy teeth and yanked the hook and part of the goth’s shirt out of his mouth. “Thanks for the meal. Anyone else care to go for a swim?”

I did a search for shark-like supervillains real quick. “Nope, no thanks. Cold enough up here. And you should really wait thirty minutes now.”

The shark man snorted water out of the sides of his neck. “Good one. Next time you throw someone out here, make it someone with more meat on their bones.”

Names and images flashed up on the HUD in one eye. I picked the one that best matched our friend there, as my facial recognition software isn’t set up for sharks. “Right-o, Terrorjaw.”

With a wave, Carl and I left the shark man behind.

Back at the club, our bouncer was glaring at the ID of some girl. She was obviously new. We at The Secret Lair don’t give a fuck about the drinking age.

“What’s this guy’s name, Carl?”

“You still don’t know?”

“I don’t generally use the front door.”

“How do you get in?”

“I like to come in from the back.”

Carl slapped his palm to his face.

“His name’s Terrance. He’s got powers, but he’s not a criminal or anything.”

I walked up to wear Terrance was still scrutinizing the ID that was probably fake. His eyes glowed blue through the shades he wore even though it was night. “Hey there, Terrance. Why don’t we go ahead and let this one on through, huh?”

He looked back at Carl, then at me, then handed over the flimsy little driver’s license to the girl. “Sure thing.”

“Thanks mister,” said the teen as she shuffled in ahead of Carl and me. She kept her hair over her eyes and her head lowered slightly.

“Have fun. Feel free to grab a drink.”

“Nh hun.” Not much of an answer. She needed to watch her ass. I tried to, but she was in some baggy clothing. She looked around a bit and headed off for one of the side rooms. She could have been in for a bad time if she interrupted the Russians having a poker game.

Sandra waved me over to the bar. “Hey, there, bossman. Your big…uh…stone dude, he left me a note for you. Something about some villain calling you? Oh, and the people are getting a little more…intimate…than normal.”

Like I cared. I headed for the stairs up to the catwalk so I could take the call from the throne. I did see people getting more handsy along the way, though. One of the nerdy guys who didn’t believe me was even getting some action. Some girl with a black dress and dreadlocks with little metal skulls on the ends took his glasses off and told him, “You look better without these.”

She started to lead him toward a private little corner, but he got completely lost as soon as she let go of his hand. Turns out those glasses fucking do something. As turned around as he got, they might be the only thing about him that fucking did anything that night.

I turned to Carl, though. He was still following behind me through all this. I told him, “See what we can do to keep the dance floor from turning into an orgy, alright? I mean, that guy who did the permits might be here, and now that I keep thinking about him, I just don’t want any sex to happen anywhere that he might join in.”

“Uh, I’ll see what I can do. I can set off the fire alarms if they go too far.”

“Dammit, man, that’s exactly the wrong thing to do. The last thing I want is to make a whole bunch of women wet.”

“That explains a lot.”

At that, I shooed him away and ascended up the catwalk, turned a corner at another part of the walkway, took a right, then another right, and kept going straight to get to my seat in the chained-open entrails of a superhero. Seeing my throne in the middle of the dance floor, I had my suspicions that perhaps all the Sexahol sales were going too far.

I sold it to all these people in spite of my own experiences with it, but there’s a limit to how much I can tolerate everyone getting some in my club while I sit around watching.

I could see the lower half of Moai under the big giant screen. He was standing in front of my throne. I grabbed the railing and swung around to the other side of the screen.

“Hey Gecko,” said a familiar voice from the screen. It was Mix N’Max, the perpetually grinning supervillain. As always, he had the stuff on his face to look paler. He too had what I think is a goth look, but I’ve been talking about that stuff a lot lately. Long brown hair, burgundy coat, ruffled white shirt. I guess that’s what you’d call that, but fuck if I’m completely clear on the distinction or care overly much. Oh, and he smiles almost constantly. Real perky guy.

He’s an ally. A buddy, some might say. We’ve worked together in the past as part of a small team. I sent him some Sexahol to examine because he’s good with chemicals and poisons. Where I know some conventional chemical weapons, he can somehow throw together pollen, spit, and crushed rose petals to make napalm. Near as I can tell, that’s his power. Somehow, he can combine all sorts of things to unusual effect, like shrinking someone or turning them into a fish.

“Heya Max. Hey Moai, good job keeping Max entertained. What were y’all doing?”

Max answered me. “We were playing Rock Paper Scissors. I’m close to figuring out Moai’s tells. It has something to do with his hat, I think.” Ah yes, Moai’s pukao. This big rock hat that Moai statues used to wear. It was my Christmas present to him and it’s nice to see he still wears it.

I pointed a thumb at Moai. “Good luck. He’s got a hell of a poker face. I’ve never seen him flinch, and this guy’s fought a talking gorilla with a jetpack. You calling about the Sexahol stuff?”

“Yeah, but it’s good just to talk. I haven’t seen you in awhile. Sam owes Holly some money now.” He was referring to his helpers. I don’t think it’s a sexual or romantic relationship at all. Sam Hain, or just Sam, is a goth type too. She tends to have purple hair and wears a lot of black. Holly is a brunette, and goes for the middle class look. Your American Eagle and Aeropostale kinda stuff. The pair are friends who took up working for Max. They’re ok.

“Holly really thought I was dead this time?”

“You give people too many chances to bet on if you’re dead, you know. Anywho, I took a look at your Sexahol. Nice job to whoever did this. It’s just a little slow for my taste.”

“Tell that to the people getting it on over here.”

“Sure, maybe whenever I get to visit.” He smiled wide, but with his mouth and eyes closed.

“Ok, stop trying to look cute. Of course you can come visit, provided I haven’t burned the place down for insurance money.”

Moai nudged my shoulder.

“Hey, relax,” I said to him, “So far, no one will insure me. I ask too many questions about their arson procedures. Anyway, back to the Sexahol. You said it worked slow?”

“Yeah. There’s an aphrodisiac ingredient in there. It’s a synthesized chemical that attaches to receptors in the brain to mimic feelings of joy and euphoria people experience when in love, with some lust in there too. The effect is minor, but cumulative like certain toxins and heavy metals. The body can’t metabolize the artificial aphrodisiac, so it builds up in the system. The effect persists over time and intensifies the more people drink. It doesn’t abate.”

“No, I suppose abating is a natural consequence of being constantly horny from it. Is it going to kill my customers?”

“Thaaaaaaat’s iffy. If they have weak hearts or forget to eat, then they could die. Or if they don’t stay hydrated. Chafing and bleeding, I suppose. Did you try this stuff?”

“Yeah, that’s why I sent it to you. The nanites must have cleared it up when I got drunk on it.”

“Ooooh, I have to wonder what that looked like.”

Next to me, Moai shook his head rapidly.

“Not good, Moai? I’ll take your word for it. I wondered if that would change some parts of your shining personality. You’ll have an easy time around the city if this keeps up. This explains the mystery of Empyreal City. People are acting like this all over the city.”

“Hmm, much as I’d like to take credit for getting the entire city drunk, that’s not just me. Other bars, other people buying this stuff.”

Max looked contemplative for a moment. “Yeah…are you ok with that?”

“No skin off my back if everyone else is too hippiefied to do a damn thing to me.”

“Oh. Surprise, surprise.”

“What’s all this ‘surprise’ shit about?”

“Oh, just with all the date raping this is enabling. Every single one of those people. I can see you not getting laid on this stuff, but it’s going to turn that place into free love central.”

I thought about it. About the nerdy guy, and about the girl walking him back. About every single person down there and out in the city under its effects. About people finding out how people act under it and making sure someone they want drinks up. I thought about…certain times I don’t like to think about, with people who are dead now and better off for it.

“Aha…there’s the Gecko I know who doesn’t like to admit he’s there,” he said in a sing-song voice. He was teasing me over the appearance of certain preferences that some may, if they don’t know better and don’t care about living, call morals.

“Shut up, Max.”

He quieted quickly at the tone of my voice, but still grinned like a Cheshire cat.

On the one hand, I now have to be the jerk that saves the day. On the other hand, at least it’s ultimately going to make a lot of people upset that they’re no longer screwing everyone around. So maybe I can squeak by and claim it was all done in the name of fucking over the fuck fest.

I turned to my stony minion. “Moai, we’re going to need a lot of cold water. It’s time to blue some balls.”