Tag Archives: The Saurus

Gecko: Omega 7



“I find it hard to believe you’re this powerful, able to keep an eye on me and check messages from me, but you don’t know where these guys are,” I said, perched upon a neon-lit skyscraper in Tokyo. Always Tokyo with Japan. I had Mr. Omega in my HUD.

“You procrastinated and they escaped,” he said. “I am searching. When they do, you will find the power you need to destroy them.”

“Uh huh,” I said, though it did interest me to learn a little more about how long it took him to find things. Anything that gives me an idea about his powers is helpful, including the fact that he sometimes needs an avatar on Earth to focus his power through. Why he does is a mystery to me at this point, but maybe the Dusk Club will clear that up. Awfully convenient of Omega to ask me to hunt down people who can help keep stop him. But if some group of do-gooder superheroes are going to confirm that I helped cause all these problems and am working with Omega, even temporarily, I won’t mind wrecking them.

The thought also occurred to me, as I watched some people leave a nightclub for a nearby themed love hotel, that I could also bring Medusa here and go on a public date while we claim to be cosplayers. It’d be a whole lot easier without the extra arms, but I could pull it off.

Even with cloaking activated, I kept an eye out for any Justice Rangers. The ones from my home dimension had kept a close eye on me but I don’t have any more trust for the ones from this Earth. Their enemies may also complicate matters. Most Justice Ranger teams tend to mop up whatever threat they were activated for within a year before standing down. And since they tend to keep to themselves, nobody’s got them on VillaiNet. I’d prefer if they didn’t butt in on my attack with one of their own. Plus, ya know, it being THE main city where superheroics happen in Japan means I have to watch for random superheroes or giant monsters. If it happens in Japan, it happens in Tokyo.

“I found it,” Omega said. “There.”

He didn’t make an arrow appear or anything, nor did he bring a hand up into his image to show me. He just said, “There.”

“There where?” I asked, looking around.

“That way. Left. Left!” he instructed.

“Do they have left in your direction? I’m turning left,” I said, turning and leaning out over the side of the building.

His face didn’t betray any frustration. “I know. I will show you, but you must open yourself up to my power.”

“If you’re suggesting you need to get into my pants, and skin, and give me some of that raw power of yours… well, I might be open to that,” I said with a grin.

I felt like I jammed all my pointy bits into separate electrical sockets. I lit up with power. My armor became a blinding flash of red and held steady. My fleshy bits jolted with energy, and it was at that point I realized I’d fallen from the building in my preoccupation with the power.

I decided I didn’t feel like hitting the ground that evening, so I stopped falling. “Ok, where we goin’?”

I began to fly down a street, but it wasn’t really me doing the moving. It wasn’t like I was being forced to do it, but almost like that’s what my body decided to do when I didn’t tell it to do anything. I landed in the middle of the street near an odd structure.

It was a tower of sorts, with a garage door in the middle of the base. It looked like a tower of blocks, three blocks wide and one block deep. I realized what it was when someone walked up to a screen and keypad outside. They typed in a code, swiped a card, and the tower let out a little rumble. Then the garage door opened and there was a car. “Hey, Omega, this is a parking garage. A little smaller than I thought they had. Are they in one of the blocks?” I looked it up and down. Twenty-three stories. Not hard to take apart.

“They have hidden their lair within the top floor of this parking tower,” he answered.

I heard a roar behind me, which is when I realized all the glowing made it harder to see through the 360 cameras. I turned and saw a Tyrannosaurus rex standing on the sidewalk at a table by a 24 hour ramen shop. It set aside its tiny bowl, grabbed a book off the table, and tugged on the chain of its monocle to adjust it. “What devilish dispute dares disrupt dinner?” it asked in a British accent. Under its breath, I heard it lament, “Why must these occurrences plague my every holiday to Tokyo? Always whilst in Tokyo!”

“Oh wow, it’s The Saurus!” I said.

“Is this being a threat to our plans?” Omega asked.

“I mean, he’s a hero. He’s lost us the element of surprise,” I answered.

“No,” Omega informed me, “the lair is empty. You may deal with this foe if necessary.”

“Go back to eating, King Tyrant Lizard. You don’t want any of this,” I ordered The Saurus. I turned, ignoring the honkings of annoyed drivers, and raised a hand to the building. I aimed for the base, and imagined another lovely explosion. The tower rumbled as the middle square blew outward, followed soon afterward by the block to its right muffling a secondary explosion. The tower began to sway, then fall.

The Saurus was up and by it faster than you’d think a T. rex could move. He braced against the side of it, calling out in Japanese for people to move out of the way. I believe the exact phrase was “Save yourself, mammals!”

It was going to topple no matter what, but he eased it down as best as he was able by sidestepping with as much weight as he could hold on his back until, at least, he had to race out from underneath it and let it fall the last weigh. The lab might have been destroyed if it had fallen unimpeded, but I doubted I wiped it out this time.

“All you had to do, was nothing,” I said. Then I looked down at myself. That was difficult as well. I was one bright motherfucker. “Let’s see if I can find someone your own size to play with.” I was scrambling for an animal for the theme as I felt myself growing larger and warping, slightly. My hands on either side came together and my armor kinda spread out like a membrane between them, forming wings. The hands were covered over by a fists. The membrane extended up and down to join at my head and at a spiny tail growing from my ass.

I was now a giant red sea ray. I shouldn’t have tried to think of animals. I’m lucky I didn’t turn into a sea pig. Hell, with my track record, I’d have probably become a giant penguin. There’s a reason you don’t see penguin kaiju. I looked down at myself, then up at The Saurus and tried to sound as menacing as possible when I pointed at myself and said, “It’s Do Ray Me, motherfucker.”

“I observe your ponderous transformation and raise you a swift beatdown!” the eloquent British cloned T. rex said. He hoped over the downed tower and came ran at me. I… put a hand on his head and held him back. He swiped his little claws and tried biting, but I held him at bay. This was ridiculously more simple than I expected, so I uppercutted him under the chin with my free hand. I grabbed his head then with both hands, one above and one below, and swung him over me to smack into a car. He lay there stunned as I grabbed another car and slammed that on top of him.

“Look at that, a prehistoric chicken sandwich!” I said.

He started to squirm to get out, so I decided to see if Omega’s powers included anything with some heat to them. I put my hands on the cars, concentrated, and watched as they glowed and melted together where metal touched metal. With The Saurus sealed between them, I turned and hopped onto the tower, approaching what had been the top floors. “Now, let’s see what all the hub bub was about…”

Before I could do that, a beam of energy erupted from my head and tore into them. My hed moved side to side, again in the same way I recognized from Omega flying me around. On top of that, my perspective shifted as I shrunk back into my on form.

In the end, the only thing left was a runny puddle of melted cement and metal in a trench carved through the Tokyo sidewalk. I at least wanted to see what all they were doing. “Dammit,” I wrote in a text message for Omega to read. “If I got a good look at whatever they were doing, I could have maybe guarded against it. Without the heroes here who did it, they can always warn others and lead them toward the same observations.”

“Then we should hunt them down, one by one. I think you find the though fun,” he suggested.

I did, but I also promised to look over some proposals from Medusa. I thought maybe I’d be legalizing some polygamy, but when I brightened up, she stopped to tell me she meant policies and reform. But I figured I’d look at them, and not just in the sense of trying to get her into my pants. I intend to take a good faith look at this “Badass Plan” of hers.

“Your miscalculation, Omega. I don’t have time to hunt them down right now. Check in with me later,” I told him.

In response, I felt the heat and the electricity abandon me. I was there, standing on the tower, in full view for just a moment before I disappeared as well and made sure to get away from the angry dinosaur trying to escape his melted containment.

I had to call in a Psycho Flyer for pickup, but I made it in time for some policy planning with Medusa. The things we do for the ones we love.







Another exciting day in the city. At first, the aliens made some big announcement about surrendering all the superhumans to them for processing, then they started sweeping through neighborhood after neighborhood. It went well for them, briefly. What they lack in raw numbers, they make up for with mechanization, what appear to be drones, and some squads of Technolutionary’s robozombies. Upgraded ones.

Where before Technolutionary fitted human bodies with cybernetic enhancements and shoved a computer into the brain to control them, the process looks much more refined. It undoubtedly has to do with better integration of the biological and artificial components. He’s giving my species’ abilities to his robozombies now, and they’ve become a sturdier and more graceful as a result. I got a good look at them, too, thanks to hopping onto a patrol of them and tearing off an arm.

Like I said, it worked the for the aliens until we started putting up organized resistance. Or as organized as any resistance becomes when I’m part of it. Wanting to keep hurting the fuckers, I headed out on my own after some squads of the robozombies seen terrorizing the eastern side of the city.

The first sign they had that things weren’t going as planned was when one of their transports blew up in midair. The things still have something to throw off sensors and any eyeballing of their exact features from afar, but the good thing about cannons is that sight is a perfectly viable option. And I do have cannons. The confrontation with Venus was just over before I ever needed to use any of them, but I didn’t just build some of those things on buildings around the city for no reason. Case in point, one transport went down before it could land and offload anybody or pick anyone back up. Shortly thereafter, I landed and on the bunch sent to investigate it and took them apart to examine their quality.

Ah, Technolutionary used to think I was so great, a true evolutionary leap forward for mankind. Now he’s making people like me just to use them as mindless foot soldiers. Good response times, though. Less than five minutes after I tore them to pieces, I looked up to find three more shuttles coming in. I pointed my fingers at them like guns and gave a little “Pew pew!” One took a hit and slammed into a building. A second tried to dodge before I caught it from another direction with another cannon. The third tried to stomp on me like an Italian plumber who hates mushrooms.

It missed, thanks to my cunning strategy of getting the hell out of the way, but then it just sat there. I expected doors to slide open, shots fired, all that. It took a couple seconds, but when they did finally open, it was at the hands of a pair of wounded robozombies surrounded by dead ones.

“This is why they invented seatbelts, ya know,” I told them. Before they could raise their gun arms, two shots rang out and did some decidedly permanent damage to their computers.

I turned to focus on where the shots came from and saw Lone Gunman on the side of a building. He hung there from a hook embedded in the side and aimed a gun at me. He stopped and gave a little salute, allowing me to see a huge revolver with extended barrel and a stock. “Just a weapons test, for now.” Then he rappelled down the side of the building and went his own way.

Wish I could have seen his face when a fiery stream lanced out of the ship overhead and burned through the top of Double Cross Tower, taking my favorite cannon along with it. Shit, and probably my penthouse, the bastards! And my closet, too. Damn. I got the dong back, but I really like some of those dresses on me.

But at least that was the only one of the cannons they disabled. They probably needed a couple shots to track them back. And it’d no doubt do a lot to convince people they need to sit down and be ruled if they could do that. Which made me realize that if they weren’t using whatever thing they did to turn buildings into tiny pieces like before I was on the run from them, then that meant they probably couldn’t do so here. That’s a handy bit of information to have.

Another thing that’s handy to have? One slightly used alien shuttlecraft. Needs a small patch where someone shot through its armor, and needs a few bodies cleaned out of it, but ultimately good to go. It’ll be no different than buying someone’s used car.

Of course, first I had to send someone to go fetch it. That’s what minions are for. In this case, a bunch of Buzzkills and Moonbats. The Moonbats like to help like that. Apparently, it’s really cathartic for them to actually shoot at some aliens, and I find their revenge fantasies about anal probing the aliens to be particularly interesting. Plus, it gave them something to do besides whine about the food situation.

Good thing for those MREs, I guess. I grabbed one left behind by a Moonie too disgusted with the food to take it with him or finish it before leaving. Ooh, Charms.

I also needed to be there at the bunker for a pow wow. With power being what it is and the possibility of attack, the bunker has become a prominent spot in resisting alien invasion. There wasn’t a lot of organization, but we had some folks who could get people to follow them by force of personality. Man-Opener, for instance.

“Though what Man-Opener lacks in an actual preassembled retinue to take with him, I feel he makes up for with being royally pissed off. So I think he needs to be part of the strikeforce.” I argued to a few folding tables worth of assembled supers.

“I second the motion!” Man-Opener said, raising one of his suit’s limbs.

“You don’t want him on the ground with you?” Venus asked, not quite so mindful of proper phrasing.

I shook my head. “They hate me enough that I need to stay, but I think it’d need to be more of a mixed effort on both fronts. Besides, you might need someone who can make a hard choice.” Like that time in Transylvania, for instance. A guy wanted to freeze the world in time because of the death of his son. The Mobian wanted to talk him down. Didn’t work. I killed him. Problem solved.

The plan is simple, though. Venus will take a force into the enemy ship, consisting of a few people of her choosing, but definitely Man-Opener and Lone Gunman. Instead of shooting blindly into the ship, hoping to hit something important, he could go in there content in the knowledge that he can shoot through their stuff anyway.

Meanwhile, I’d stay down and be a prominent target for the aliens, drawing forces down from the ship to make things easier for them. The shuttle could make a good way in. If it doesn’t work as well, there’s also the remaining cannons. I think I could open a hole. Especially now that I have a penis again. The assignment to help me out was completely voluntary, though. People still hate me. I should have Moai and Mix N’Max on my side, at least.

So when we were ready, I took a more prominent stand. Instead of hitting and running, I’d have to be there to take the heat. It’d be downright suicidal. Odd how few people tried to talk me out of this course of action.

We got our opportunity before too much longer. A sizable force, more than I could take on myself, were taking over a neighborhood. The strike team went up in the shuttle and joined the ones returning from offloading that bunch.

Down on the ground, I scouted out the victims. Where the road was bigger, an armored vehicle sat in the road, turned sideways. Another one blocked it off at the opposite end, where the street had narrowed. Scouting it out, I saw they had other resources patrolling alleys. Small, cube-shaped drones, or these machines with an upside-down pyramid base with a single wheel on the bottom and a single rotating limb. Significantly less elegant than their other designs. The aliens seemed to prefer round shapes. Even their armored vehicles.

Whatever the case, I needed to see how sturdy they were. So I dropped down on one of the cube drones from above, bringing my rocket sax down onto it. The instrument dented a little as the blow sent the hovering cube bouncing off the ground. When it came back up, I swiped it with one hand and sent it into the brick wall next to us. It bounced off that, rebounding into the air and spinning around to gain its bearings.

“Eat hot, sexy passion, alien scumdroid!” I yelled out, then brought the sax to my lips and pressed a key. A line of flame shot out, engulfing the alien artifice. I kept bringing the heat until it finally dropped, glowing red hot, sides starting to crack and warp.

One down, a small army to go. Man-made thunder erupted over the city, all aimed at the same point. A ragged hole opened up in the ship overhead, whether the strike team needed it or not. Thanks to them running silent, they couldn’t complain about it to me. The ship responded with that fiery beam of its own, cutting through another of the cannons just before the remaining ones began shelling it. It took hit after hit, and returned them until I could no longer feel any remaining cannons. But maybe it did something after all. At least it heavily smoked where the flaming lance had issued from.

I couldn’t spend all day contemplating that, though. One of the unicycle bots rolled around the corner and swiveled that single limb around. It was a bit far for the sax, so I slung that onto my back. I nodded toward the unidrone and started charging the energy sheath around my right hand while going for a rubber chicken on my belt with my left. “Sup?” I asked it. It shot first, trying to put a hole in my chest. I was a bit worried it might overpower the sheath, especially since it tracked me when I tried to dodge.

I dropped the chicken, stepped on its neck, and kicked the body closer to the unidrone. After it stopped skidding, it stood up and began walking in the direction of the nearest street, which was behind the drone. Why did the chicken try to cross the road? I don’t know, but the rubber chicken grenade didn’t make it that far before exploding and wrecking the robot.

When I stepped out of the alley, I swung another rubber chicken around by its neck gently enough to keep it from pulling off. I haven’t been a guy in awhile, so it’s important I be careful how hard I swing my cock around, after all.

“Do you ever wanna catch me? Right now I’m feeling ignored! So can you try a little harder? I’m really getting bored!” I called out. Rounded saucers swiveled towards me on black fluid-filled tentacles. The sideways hover armor rotated a trio of barrels in my direction. The whole group stopped and paid attention. That’s probably how the hover armor got taken by surprise. Rockets crashed into it, bullets bounced off it, and an energy beam sheared through the turret portion.

I jumped on top of it long enough to pantomime blowing the rest of them a kiss. “Come on, shoot faster, just a little bit of energy! I wanna try something fun right now, I guess some people call it anarchy!” I hopped off the back of the armor and waited for any takers.

A pair of them followed. One was in a big, black, humanoid suit with a device attached to its hand that emitted a barely-visible length of…something. The other was one of those saucers turned on its side with nine tentacles carrying it over. That one tried to jump on me immediately. I backflipped out of the way before it landed for a couple of reasons. First, I didn’t feel like a hug. Second, I wanted to get out of the way of my car. Black Sunshine, my lovely, pimped-out car. It charged forward, firing rockets and a minigun like it had against the hover armor. What did the most damage was actually hitting the thing and smacking it into the disabled armor it had just passed over.

The humanoid raised that thing on its hand toward me. Instinctively, I threw myself to the side. A shimmery wave, like heat rising off the blacktop, flew from the alien suit to cut into the road. Suddenly, some little glass flask crashed against the armor it stood upon. It looked down at it, where a green gas cloud spread briefly, before lighting up and then collapsing in on itself, where it exploded. It gutted the Fluidic encounter suit and tore its legs open, spilling the alien’s liquid body out. The rounded crystal core that seemed to make up the alien’s brain rolled out onto the street. A motorcycle pulled up next to it, and Herne the Hunter’s spear impaled the thing. Mix N’ Max got off the back of the bike and patted Herne’s leather-clad shoulder. The helmeted and horned biker super nodded and drove off down an alley, barely escaping the swarm of cube drones that descended on the area to surround us. The buildings became host to more of the Fluidics, who took higher positions.

Max looked up at them as he stepped over to me, then pulled out another flask. This one looked like he bottled it in an airport smoker’s lounge. “Need some cover?” I nodded, then noticed a twitch of movement out the back of my view. The laser limb of one of the unicycles snapped back, a large scalpel embedded in the firing optics.

“Much as I hate to be here, gentlemen, I don’t want to leave early because we let you die. Not yet, anyway,” said The Good Doctor like a true gentleman, stepping out of another alley and kicking a carved-up cube drone with him. “Please, Max.”

Max nodded and unbottled the flask, instantly throwing us into the middle of a fog so dense, it has to figure out if it’s going to work at an AT&T store or just buy something from one and call in to complain about it later. With the sky covered in either alien starship or glowing blue forcefield, it gave the field a really cool rave vibe. We all walked a few feet back before taking a different angle, dividing up the area around us into three zones. Back to back, Doc raised a set of thick scalpels, Max pulled out his syringe gun, and I punched one of my palms.

“Come on if you think you’re hard enough!” I shouted into the fog. Then, to the others, I asked, “They aren’t going to be hard enough, right?”

“We brought help,” Max answered.

“Huh, maybe I should have been singing ‘Lean On Me’ instead.” A black tentacle swiped out of the fog. I caught it and activated the Nasty Surprise, the blade cutting into it and beginning to spew black fluid. I pulled at it and brought in another encounter suit that had the tentacle and three others coming out of its back. I jumped on its face and shoved my blade right where its mouth would be. Opening up its head, I crawled my way down inside and burst from its chest, core in hand.

Back to back, the reunited Dark Triad fought swarming, blinded aliens. Around us, the sounds of battled rose up, indicating others had joined the fight. We moved as we fought, keeping each other at our backs as the fighting moved us. An encounter suit, a cube, a unidrone, some weird saucer. We maintained this formation pretty well until one of the saucer mages appeared, with the its multitude of wire-thin tentacles drawing numerous runes into the air and hurling subzero cold and volcanic heat at us at once, carried by winds that pressed down. Doc grabbed Max and got him out of the way, but a force like a tornado overpowered the pseudomuscles in my armor’s legs. They broke as I attempted to stay on my feet. Ice covered my armor before hissing away thanks to heat that felt like my organs were frying. Then freezing. I didn’t know if the cracking was my armor or me.

Just before my helmet completely iced over and left me blinded, I saw Terrorjaw the shark man leap up and chomp through several of the tentacles with his toothy maw.

I kept trying to punch at my helmet to see if I could knock something loose. Aside from feeling the vibrations, it was hard to feel I’d even been hitting it. That really didn’t say anything good about how cold I was, and my nanites weren’t likely to help. Nanotechnology is infamously sensitive to temperature, especially temperatures that can harm the human body.

I tried the view from my car. Can’t remotely drive it without some way of seeing where I’m going after all. It showed a battlefield shifting as more and more on both sides joined in. I saw Girl Robot clawing at a cube, then getting caught by a garrote from e cube behind her. She opened her mouth and spewed some glowing breath attack that shot her back at the cube and smashing it against the building behind her before her tail angled up and speared through it.

I saw Leah there, too. The teen girl I had to take in after getting powers and running away has come far. Three unidrones aimed at her as she waved her hand. When they fired, nothing happened except the lenses of their lasers caught fire, followed by the entire laser array. Who said color changing isn’t handy?

I even saw this one guy I recognized from the insane asylum when we captured all the heroes. He had some goblin mask on and sliced through a normal-sized encounter suit that had a pair of those almost-invisible blades for hands. When it tried to retaliate, the goblin guy disappeared and reappeared behind it, finishing cutting it in half. Flying about rooftop level, Honky Tonk Hero smashed through a descending shuttle, magical guitar first. When a saucer tried to reach out for him, the saucer found its arms seared off courtesy Gorilla Awesome, the talking gorilla, who hovered nearby with his own jetpack. Nearby, I noticed Elita the Warrior Woman raise a damaged alien tank above her head and bring it down on her Amazonian knee, breaking it in half.

Ethan Basford even got in on things. He knelt there, holding open that metal chest he’d brought with him from Los Angeles, hand bleeding as he held it over the open coffin. From within flew a massive colony of bats that. Nice magic trick. An even better one came when they began to take human shape. Well, vampire shape from the way their eyes glowed and their fangs glistened, protected from the sun by Max’s chemical fog. I saw one of them in particular fly into a saucer and carve through it with claws.

Unable to do much myself, it made for a fun watch. Still wish I could have felt my balls. Oooh, they’re going to hurt so much when they thaw out, if they don’t break off first.

I backed my car up and brought it over so I could get a better view of myself and get a hand up. Maybe I could hit the flamethrower? No, that’s crazy talk. Wait, where’d my saxophone go?

I pulled it up beside myself and popped the door open enough to drag myself in across the front seats. It almost made me wish the car could transform into even bigger armor, but it wasn’t happening. I did have a very good A/C and heating system, though.

Blocking the way out, I saw another floating mass of armor and laser barrels coming my way. I may not know why the chicken crossed the road, but I know a thing or two about playing chicken. Let’s get squawking, bitch. I revved the engine and gunned it right for the alien armor, unleashing the miniguns, the rockets, even the flamethrower, energy beam, and a trebuchet out of the trunk. What? When I say I’m going medieval on someone’s ass, I mean it.

It shot back, turning my car into a convertible without an engine. On the plus side, the Fluidic armored vehicle’s front side dipped down and scraped against the road as at least that portion lost the ability to stay in the air. In the end, my half-melted, slowing car ramped up the damaged alien tank. I swear, I got like three feet of air that time. If the horn still worked, and if I’d hat it set to play Dixie, it could have been even better.

I landed past it, just in time for The Saurus, the intelligent T-Rex, to bob his head down and give the tank a chomping. His clone, looking like a younger version of himself, roared and helped himself to an encounter suit. I wondered, briefly, if the clone was now The Saurus Jr., Kid The Saurus, or maybe even Children’s The Saurus. Alas, they moved on before I could even ask, probably for the best. Like most of the combatants, they didn’t like me.

Laying there in my destroyed car, I popped my helmet as best as I could with my numb arms and find one of the nanite syringes I’d stashed in there. Ah, the sweet sting of health flowing through my veins. Or wherever I stabbed them in. Doesn’t much matter. At that point, I just needed to be able to feel my skin again.

When I finally felt less like a popsicle, I slid out of the wreck to put some more extraterrestrials on ice.

I found Max and Doc cornered a street over, backs to a station wagon while what looked like a roiling mass of cables tore through the air. Tentacles here, tentacles there, tentacles everywhere; what horrors hath Japanese porn wrought?! Well, if someone wanted to shove those tentacles in a box, I’d be happy to oblige. I jumped on top of the station wagon and tossed a four yard dumpster at the whizzing and whirling mass of barely-visible tentacles. The open end caught the center mass of the being and pinned it to the van.

“Hey guys!” I called out, leaping over to the other side, popping the head off a chicken grenade. “Listen, alien fellow, we’re going to go on a magical adventure. And here’s the magic candy, like I promised you at school.” I tossed the grenade in the window and got a step or two backs before it went off.

Easy as blowing up fish in a barrel.

“Did ya miss me, ya wankers?” I asked the rest of the Dark Triad as I rounded the van.

“You came through it alright?” asked Doc, perhaps hoping I wouldn’t have.

I shrugged. “Don’t sound too disappointed, Doc. Friends don’t hold those kinds of grudges.”

His hand tightened around his scalpel again. “When I became a monster, no company could abide me but the company of monsters.”

I held my hands up. “Hey, easy there. The past is set, and we can’t change who we are. You have to accept what you are or you’ll never be able to live with yourself. Now remember: I’m bad, and that’s good. I will never be good, and that’s not bad. There’s no one I’d rather be than me. That’s why I shouldn’t have even let it get to me that they pinned saving everyone on someone else. Too many people through my life have made it clear what I am. Change? Not while some asshole king’s hired a knight to come after me because I hoped for a princess. Metaphorically speaking, of course.”

Doc twirled the scalpel in his hands, looking at me. “It’ll never happen if you don’t even try.”

Inside my helmet, I rolled my eyes. “Bad guy ’til death, I guess. Which shouldn’t be long, since I’m fated to die in this damn invasion, and I came back and fought in it any-fucking-way!”

Suddenly, the sky lightened up. It lost its blue. “Get your suntan lotion ready, people. The barrier is down. Repeat, the barrier is down,” Venus said over the comms. Cue a LOT of cheering on the comms and in real life. It’d be a pants dampening sound if I was an alien right about then.

Doc stepped over and gave me a little punch to the chest, no blade included. “If the future can change, who says we can’t?” He turned back to the rest of the fight and began walking in there to help finish up.

“Ugh, you keep this up, I’m going to wish for someone to kill me,” I said as I joined him.

Max, done giving us our little conversation, joined in and put his hands around both our shoulders. “They’re certainly lining up. By the way, why don’t you ask Lone Gunman how much he enjoys my little fog?”

“Ha! See? I laugh at paltry change, whether it be this ridiculous ‘redemption’ nonsense, or an attempt to cease my biological functions. Now drink hearty, my fellows of the Dark Triad, and let loose the dongs of war!” I raised my hand, holographically making a hand and a half sword appear in my grip. When I brought it down, I charged, leading the other two villains back into the fray.

The invasion’s not over yet, so I don’t have my hopes up. But I think a lot of these Fluidics are going to pay for what they haven’t done yet.



Local Politics 12



On this episode of “World Domination in Retrospect,” I’m going to discuss important tips for pest control. Now, if you’re not careful with extra candy, it’s possible you could end up with a T-rex infestation. It’s horrible. You go to open the closet one day and there, scampering away, is a T-rex escaping through a T-rex hole.

Not everyone can identify a T-rex hole by sight, but I have a handy tip that can help even the amateurs figure out if the whole they’re dealing with could be a pest problem. First, take a look at the hole. Is it large? Does it appear to have been made by a dinosaur? Is it between your mother’s legs? If you answered yes to two of those questions, you’re probably looking at a T-rex hole. If you answered all three in the affirmative, your mother might be getting some Jurassic penis.

Now, if you find you have a T-rex infestation, the first thing you’re going to want to do is lay down some bait. Cows, pigs, and your mother in a nightie are all viable options for tempting the creature out into the open. Just make sure it can distinguish your mother from the cows and pigs.

For example, The Order used pigs for bait. Oligarch mapped out a rough area where The Saurus often patrolled, made all the more predictable by The Saurus’s size, and then led an attack on a police precinct. Once again, I served as an observer, except to keep other precincts from interfering. Word got out from assault, but any attempts to mobilize reinforcements failed when radio, phones, and even emails all stopped working for Empyreal City. Kind of a scorched earth way of cutting communications, but I didn’t have the time or give-a-damn to pinpoint each and every cop’s work and business phone.

A calm voice told callers “In the face of almost certain death, smooth jazz will be deployed in 3…2…1…” and then they got an earful of Judas Priest singing “Breaking The Law”. Why be honest about the smooth jazz? Plus, it was decent accompaniment as I watched Powder take a shotgun to the chest as if the cops were shooting spitballs at her. She took the hit, grabbed the gun away, and dug her fingernails into the skin around his mouth. He shook, then collapsed in the throes of overdose.

The other villains made quite the mess out of the cops there, though a Pinkerton detective managed to give them a bit of a scare. He had a bigger sidearm than anyone else, and it packed enough of a wallop to shoot Powder through a wall. Didn’t kill her, but it took the head off Patches when she ran to assist Powder. One moment, the scarecrow woman knelt down, face obscured by burlap sack and sewed-on button eyes.The next, that burlap sack is fluttering in the wind beside a gooey, blood-soaked hole in the wall. Which sounds like an intriguing beverage, now that I think about it.

Patches shouldn’t have bothered anyway, but she really liked sewing stuff. Problem is, this time she reaped what she had sewn.

Powder propped herself up and fixed her shoulder back into its socket, her flesh already closing up. Meanwhile, the Pinkerton ran out of there with all the motivation of a man whose life depends on it. To his credit, he managed to gather a couple other survivors in one of the back rooms and the three of them all made it out. While it wouldn’t have done them any good to die in some futile last stand, it would have entertained me. If only Oligarch gave him a shot, right? Nah, Oligarch floated in the front parking lot near Man-Opener and Terrorjaw.

I’m not amused that the two are seen as reliable heavy hitters nowadays thanks to helping to beat me up that time. I’ll do something about that.

Once the coast was clear and prisoners were rounded up, the three higher-ups took up positions in the area. Man-Opener laid in wait on the top floor of a parking garage. Terrorjaw concealed himself in a fountain out in front of the station. I didn’t see what Oligarch hid behind, but I have to assume he found some way to keep from being spotted.

See, this is one of those notorious gray areas. If I’d given up the safehouse The Saurus stayed at, I could have saved a lot more lives. I’d be a regular philanthropist, relatively speaking. See, The Saurus isn’t like most superheroes, who can just take off the mask and blend into a crowd. Mostly because he’s a Tyrannosaurus Rex. It’s such a distinctive feature that he pretty much has no secret identity. He could, but that’d probably involve standing around in a museum all day, trying not to chow down on vandals from the Institute for Creation Research.

The attack brought The Saurus running. More than that, it brought Saurus Jr., too. That smaller T-rex should have been doing my bidding, not running around at the side of the hero his genes came from. The traffic cameras showed Saurus nipping at Junior along the way, trying to get him to back off. That’s a fairly normal response to kids, actually. Annoying little brats. The Saurus tried to slow down and check the situation out tactically, or at least as tactically as possible for him. His young clone ran on regardless, perhaps thinking the whole outing was a race.

Say what you will about villains: we get the best lines, we’re allowed to wear horns and spikes on our outfits, and some of us look awesome in bikinis. However, we are not the most disciplined sort. I speak, of course, about villains beside myself. Of course. First to strike was Roadkill. He sped in behind the wheel of a semi doing 240 in a thirty-five. Junior overshot the crossroad he was stationed beside, but Roadkill managed to turn the truck and smack it into Junior’s rear. It smacked the young dino forward, then caught it on its grill and smashed into the front of a donut shop. And out the back. And through the back of the building behind that.

It was a little harder to make Oligarch out as he chastised the rogue villain, probably through clenched teeth. “Roadkill, I didn’t give the order to attack. That was not our target.”

Roadkill crawled his way out of the architectural and automobile damage to shrug. His earpiece survived, too. “Get me something else good to drive. I can go all day.”

He can. Roadkill is one of those few gifted with superspeed. Unlike the more conventional definition, though, his speed only activates when he’s on some sort of vehicle, in conjunction with it. He can see just fine and breathe just fine, all while trying to break the speed of sound with a golf cart. Well, he probably can’t go that fast, but who knows if he’s tried that in a car designed for speed? Personally, I’d like to see what he could do on a horse. I asked him about that once, and he actually revealed to me that what happens is, “Fuck off, bitch.”

Unfortunately, he also appears to be effectively immune to any crashes he’s involved in, and there have been numerous to test that. Roadkill likes to use cars as battering rams. And, as his maneuvering against Junior shows, it’d be a mistake to assume turns are his weakness. That’s another one of those speedster powers that he’s lucked into.

“Mini Cooper over here. No keys,” someone chimed in.

“Don’t need ’em,” Roadkill said, “Just tell me where ‘here’ is, dipshit.”

Speed was of the essence. Thanks to Roadkill’s premature acceleration, The Saurus knew this was a trap. With Junior now stuck firmly inside it, though, he knew he had to charge in anyway. He roared, and I swear I could see windows vibrate from an aerial view. “Correction: tell me where it is and keep that emu off me.”

I couldn’t tell from the angles if Saurus saw Roadkill, but he stomped right for the endpoint of the crash.

“I’ve got him!” Powder said, running out into the street with speed borne from superior strength and stamina rather than superspeed. The Saurus waited until they’d closed the distance between each other to skid on his foot claws and turn to the side. With one swipe of his tail, he knocked Powder for a home run.

Roadkill stopped to stare at that when he got out to the main street. “Anybody else want a go?” he asked. For a second, nobody answered. Then, everyone heard a clang, a whine of servos, and a whumping sound like helicoptor rotors starting up. Man-Opener’s gleaming white armor had dropped down onto its chicken walker legs behind The Saurus. His walker stood half the height of The Saurus, so the long arms on the side of the wide, headless body could easily reach the T-rex’s neck with its rotating axe-like blades.

Accompanying him, a pair of miniature helicopters descended. They opened up with their tiny guns and rockets, doing practically nothing to the tyrant lizard king. The Saurus took a moment to throw his dictionary at one of them, missing. Then he continued after the last known location of Junior, crunching a Mini Cooper on the street in the process.

“Roadkill, are you still there, or are you, ya know, Roadkill?” I asked.

He hurried out from behind a mailbox he’d hidden behind. “Momma said there’d be days like this.”

“Your mother said this kind of stuff would happen to you?” I asked.

“Momma did a lot of drugs,” he answered back.

The Saurus didn’t actually do much to confront any of them, even Roadkill. Instead, he smashed his head into the building to find Junior. Once he found the clone, he pulled him free. Then he worried about the approaching villains. Roadkill cranked up a mail truck. Man-Opener stomped forward, blades womping. Terrorjaw circled the fountain, then jumped out. Oligarch hovered on jets of flame under his feet and at the rear of his hips.

“Remember, guys, get him over to the area we set up in the street,” I reminded them. We dug, cut, and blasted away a portion under the street and in the sewers big enough to hold The Saurus. Get him over it, blow it, let him fall into our little canyon, then cover it over enough that he can’t get out. Then it’s just a matter of food and waste management. Or so we were told. If Oligarch’s going to blow the roof off the asylum, then I bet he never intended to merely capture The Saurus.

“The center cannot hold. Things fall apart. We shall improvise, Banshee.” Oligarch raised both arms. Panels opened along the bottoms and tops of the forearms, the shoulders, the thighs, and his calves. On his back, a circular panel pushed itself open. A seemingly endless number of bullet-sized micromissiles fired, trailing lines of smoke that weaved a tapestry in their targeting patterns. They closed in on The Saurus, who tossed Junior a neighborhood away for safety before they tore up the ground under his feet. He fell from lack of proper footing, at which point the micromissiles tore into the supports of the already-weakened buildings surrounding him. It was nowhere near as clean, painless, or deep a burial.

“I am afraid this one must die with our original plan for containment scattered to the winds,” Oligarch said.

I talked to him while shooting emails over to R&D. “Belay that. I’ve got room in a lab. It’ll mean public association, but I think we’re close enough to our goals that we don’t need to worry about that, eh?”

“Are you sure?” Oligarch asked.

I tried to sound as enthusiastic as Technolutionary. “Think of the research! With the right equipment, I could make an entire clone army of these guys to do our bidding…”

That’s a bit of an exaggeration. Cloning isn’t really that useful yet, especially accounting for aging.

Roadkill whooped at that, and even Terrorjaw got a chuckle out of the idea. “That sounds awesome!” Powder yelled into the comms.

“Powder, you’re alive?” I asked.

“I landed in a pond in Central Park with a bunch of bodies and a truck, if you can believe it.”

“I suppose I can. So, Ollie, what do you say to some dinosaur ranching?”

The trailer hauling the captured dino to one of my lab compounds made quite a scene. I answered Venus’s call before it finished the first ring.

“You traitorous bastard! I knew I shouldn’t have trusted you!”

“I made a deal. He wanted one with me because SOMEHOW word got out that I was Banshee. Gee, I wonder if anyone had been spreading that rumor. So I finally agreed to save The Saurus for quote-unquote ‘research purposes’. You should be glad I did. Now, for once, can I get a little trust and respect from one of the alleged ‘good guys’ around here?”

“Are you going to release him to me, at least?” Venus asked, voice chilly.

I narrowed one eye incredulously. “You have a way to get him back to you safe house unnoticed, and the medical equipment to bring him back to 100%? He’s in bad shape right now.”

“I have regenerative nanites from Forcelight’s company. They’re a miracle in a bottle.”

“A miracle for humans. Do they work on dinosaurs?”

She paused for a long time after that, then answered, “I don’t know. I haven’t tried them on Kid Saurus here yet.”

“He’s with you?”

“Yeah, we got to him before any villains could. He’s shaken up and hurt, but I don’t think there’s any permanent damage.”

Damn. Son of a bitch tried to fellate a 200+ MPH semi and the worse they can say is “shaken up.”

“I know that we have doctors and veterinarians. We can do more for The Saurus than you can. You can let the little guy know that. But I have some bad news about Oligarch. He’s close to his endgame, and he’s not going to stop until you’re out of the picture. I have reason to believe he wants you dead. Good news is, I have a way to pull the rug out from under him.”

“How?” she asked, voice losing its angrier edge, but sounding a note of impatience.

“Well,” I told her, “first thing’s first: you’re going to have to die.”



Down to Business 5



Turns out there’s a perfectly good reason why I pay money to Ben Rayman, head of security. I hadn’t really spent any time managing his end of things, so he assembled his own group of armed security experts on his own discretion. I guess you could also call them Loss Prevention Experts. And I sent them out to prevent the loss of my life by kidnapping that telepath.

Fortune Cookie didn’t want me personally involved, so I went and visited his friend, Paul Mazzo. The guy heading up our accounting had an amazing office, I’ll give him that. It was like a big pen with a ring of TV screens and computer monitors around the central desk area. I expected to see people rushing around making a big hub bub, but the noise level wasn’t quite as loud as movie cliches led me to expect. Along with keeping track of the stock market and other companies, several of the screens showed sporting events. I guess they needed quiet to keep up with commentary.

Paul sat in a comfy-looking padded chair, facing a screen that showed sumo wrestlers colliding. He typed away at a laptop that sat on platform swivel-mounted to one arm. Without looking at me, he said, “I didn’t expect to see you here. You chose a hell of a time. Couldn’t you come during the week when nobody’s playing anything? I got a lot riding on this weekend.”

I raised an eyebrow. “Are you sure it’s just you? It’s awfully hard to find any information about the corporate accounts in the network, except for it drawing a steady stream from the main account. I know you’ve been involved in organized crime, but come on, you aren’t hiding anything from me, are you?”

I tapped a finger on the TV, wondering how much a disarming personalty and pair of boobs would get me.

“Nah, don’t bother. It’s numbers. It’s too much for you to keep track of, princess.” The match ended and he sent the TV off to another channel with a tap of the keyboard. Smart TV. I checked around to find they all were. He continued, “I got money in a lot of places, and I know what I’m doing. That’s all you need to be concerned with.”

Geez, girls. I went to all the trouble to design these things jiggling around on my chest and this is how they repay me? This boobtrayal cannot stand!

I nodded and crossed my arms. “Really now? That’s how you’re going to answer the boss?”

Mazzo looked up from his laptop. “You don’t like it, sweety, you go ahead and fire me and try to find your money that way.” He laughed. Meanwhile, the only noise to be heard on the entire floor seemed to be the monitors. Everyone watched to see how this would play out. I even noticed that many of the men and women around slowly sliding away from us.

I smiled. “I already know where my money’s at. It’s being bet on horses and dogs. You lost some of it in Atlantic City the other day. It disappears and reappears after a few days when you’ve collected on the winnings. Or it buys some new place for your sister out in Flushing and another bet pays off. You know, you’re going to look back on this conversation and laugh hysterically. And pee yourself.”

“Oh honey, don’t threaten me. I go to the cops, I could send you away until you’re an old hag.”

I stepped over in front of his TV and turned it off. “So much for Sicilian honor about squealing.”

Paul pushed the platform aside and stood up, showing off his bulky physique. “You’re not Sicilian. You’re some crime lord’s trust fund princess who thinks she can run a company. ‘Cept you spent months traveling the world, buying up coffee shops and garage an’, an’, an’ old labs nobody gives a fuck about! You want to sell peg legs but you don’t got anything but frappucino. You don’t know what you’re doing and you’re going to fail. This is ridiculous, so I’m going to make what money I can before the ship sinks. Be thankful I’m bringing in enough to keep you going while you spend money on exploding Post-Its.” He threw his hands up and turned around, as if expecting a cheer from his compatriots.

Every monitor flickered off around us, computers included. The lights all went off as well, bathing us in darkness despite the bright day outside. Paul started to say something, but I was louder. Much louder. I opened my mouth wide and let out a wail that pierced the brain of everyone around and shut down motor control temporarily. Everyone collapsed as one. Everyone but me. “Whew,” I said afterward, coughing a little, “That really does take it out of me. Well, not as much as it takes out of y’all, huh? I installed my safeguards myself. Well, I had some help. Speaking of.”

I took a moment to reach out to the secondary phone line in my penthouse. After a few rings, it picked up. Without talking where the accountants could hear, I spoke to Moai, “I need you down in accounting. Bring a bag of some sort. A big, strong one. This guy’s a little hefty. I have to sack someone.”

I sat down on a nearby desk in the darkness. “I didn’t mind a little bit of embezzling, but you were really committed to it. Hey, even the bit about betting on fixed sporting events wasn’t too bad. When I came down here, the main way I would have handled your backtalk was just to find out what you were betting on, bet against you, and then rig things the other way. But I’m afraid I don’t like you. I don’t know who I’ll get to replace you, but I don’t like you and that’s enough for me. Neat trick with the scream, huh? Couldn’t always do that, either. I know, a woman with the ability to scream until she gets her way. The implications are about as bad as a Sicilian named Paulie or the fat guy being the bad guy. Well, a bad guy. But it wouldn’t be real life if something didn’t happen to make you go ‘Who writes this shit?’ right?”


“No, don’t worry. You’ll all recover. It’s just that our friend Mr. Mazzo here is going to be fired. See? I’m not that bad of a boss. Taking a bit for the help to get here, though. I’d have asked for security, but they’re busy right now. Anyone mind if I listen to a bit of music while we wait?”

Nobody objected, so I turned on the monitor ring and put on “Bathory Erzsebet” by Sunn O))). Yes, that’s a band name. I kinda felt more like some Brocas Helm instead, but their music is faster and better for pumping someone up. But when you’re sitting in the dark surrounded by the paralyzed bodies of people who need to be shown their place, it’s fun to mess with them a bit.

“Are you about ready to laugh hysterically yet, Paul?” I asked loud enough to be heard over the droning guitars and sound of a claustrophobic singer yelling from inside a locked coffin.

They had begun stirring when the elevator dinged.

We took Paul up to a section of the roof not quite to where it ended. One of the roofs before you get to the very top. I had a very special side project there to show him. Well, I couldn’t really show him, since he Moai carried him along in a large trash bag. “Ta da! Here is just one of the new things I’m working on! A roof cannon! Just think of the possibilities, Paul. Annoying superheroes flying too close? Frustrating day at the office? Annoyed that the CEO across the street has a better naked woman statue than you?” Moai nodded at that one, but I don’t think Paul was listening, not with all that squirming.

“Moai, get his attention for me?”

Moai dropped the bag, eliciting a groan from Paul.

“Good job,” I said with a nod.

“A cannon? What are you doing? You said you were firing me!” Paul asked, muffled by the bag.

I reached over and checked the firing console to confirm everything was loaded and ready to fire. “That’s exactly what I’m going to do, Paul.”

He tried to fight as Moai loaded him in the barrel, but that didn’t get him anywhere. He might as well have banged his head against a brick wall. I aimed for the water. We were a long way from water. “I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors, Paul.” With a boom, Paul and the shell he’d been stuffed in after flew through the air. I did indeed hope Paul did well since I hoped to see if I could get him to skip.

I missed, instead hitting a bus that had something about an orphanage written on the side. I didn’t have time to read the whole thing because it was passing over a bridge at the time and the hit from Paul knocked it into the water.

But, ya know, I’m cool with that. It’s got a nice symmetry to it. First the parents, then the kids. No loose ends. Besides, you know how often orphans grow up to be superheroes? I probably saved myself a buttload of trouble a decade or two in the future. Fucking orphans. Lucky bastards with no families singing embarrassing birthday songs and no need to buy Mother’s Day presents. They shouldn’t get all the easy breaks in life!

Except me, of course. It’s not hypocrisy when I do it, remember?

“Okily dokily, Moai. Let’s go figure out who is the new CFO and have them check on our insurance policies. Paul didn’t give me a chance to explain that some of them might get by these ‘random’ bombings that are happening. And let’s see about getting a fake shed or greenhouse out here. Something to hide this thing.”

Not only did I indeed convince my new CFO, Chain Kavin, or K. Chain. It’s an awesome name, but the fellow is surprisingly not a badass biker. Just a balding Indian-looking fellow with a mortgage, a wife, and, until recently, a pretty big debt to some Paul Mazzo.

In more good news, it turns out my guys got their telepath, though it looks like Fortune Cookie may not have been completely accurate on that body count business. A very irate Ben the Head of Security called me up to inform me he thinks four of his guys got pinched or worse when The Saurus showed up, fully healed. I’m not sure how a T-rex just suddenly shows up out of nowhere and gets the drop on people, but he only managed to get away with half the van they were driving. He saw one of the hidey hole garages and knew he could go to ground there.

That’s something to keep an eye on. It wouldn’t do to have a mole in my organization. Because then, I’d have to play Whack-A-Mole. And trust me, y’all don’t want to see me whacking animals. For starters, I’d have to charge y’all a subscription.



Down to Business 4



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.



Holiday Black And Blues 9



I hope y’all had a Happy New Year. I’m still dealing with a tiny bit of old business from the Old Year. And even that got put off once I got a visitor.

I should have expected it. Actually, I did, just not in this specific way. Here, let me stop being vague and just tell y’all.

The whole gang sat at my lair, going over the plan for taking on His Eggcellency. Venus, Ball Boy, Carl, Moai, and I bent over blueprints of the factory that I acquired. That’s one of the things that took more time than needed. I could have just stolen them, but Venus insisted on doing things legally. Yet there she was, about to barge in on him without a warrant or any sort of oversight, all on my word. And I have been known to lie like a dog.

She made lots of friends in City Hall while cleaning up my mess. She pretty much moved here because of me. Then she found herself working with me to face an army of mutated chickens, a situation so deliciously ridiculous that even Tricia wanted to join in on the planning stage. So we feasted on pizza.

Then the doorbell rang. Which is odd, because even though I’d covered over the door glass, I never added a doorbell. Or a doorknocker, like what we heard next. Even if I did, it wouldn’t have sounded like metal on wood.
I immediately narrowed my eyes as those thoughts crashed on my brain in waves upon hearing someone trying to get us to the door. “Moai, have a peek at the door. I’ll start getting the armor on in case the Krampus wants to crash here or something.”

“Shouldn’t you send someone who can talk?” asked Ball Boy, as if being mute ever stopped Moai and I from communicating in the past.

“Fine, you check the door with him. If it’s a tall guy in a suit with no face, let me know somehow. Scream, maybe, if you have time.”

When they came back, I was barely out of my pants. It was still too much out of my pants for Venus’s comfort level, but I threw them back on in a hurry when Moai led someone in.

I didn’t recognize him at first, then I made the connection. “Matatoa Bobby Doomgex! What’s it been, a year?”
He looked much older, and a lot like his predecessor, save for one very important distinction. When he saw me, he smiled wide. “I think it has, Papa Gecko.”

I cringed. “Papa Gecko? That makes me sound old and like a dad. Besides, don’t you have Papa Moai and Papa Carl to embarrass instead?”

“Who is this guy?” asked a befuddled Tricia as Carl and Moai sandwiched Matatoa in a gentle hugs.

“This is 2014’s Baby New Year. I guess he’s a Father Time by now. Or something. I don’t know how it all works out, but I won’t be killing this one like I had to kill the last one.” I walked over last to hug the baby that had grown up over the course of the year.

“You won’t be killing me. No one will. Time’s just about up for me. I won’t be Father Time. He’s busy fixing more problems created by a time traveler.” He let out a tired sigh as he broke the hug with me. “I wish I’d been a better year.”

“This is for real?” asked Venus. “It’s New Year’s Day. Aren’t you supposed to be ‘gone’ already?”

Matatoa favored her with a smile and set both hands on his cane as he looked over. “When does everything that’s part of one year end and everything that’s part of one year begin?

“Good point,” I said.

Trish looked at me. “You snapped at me last night for all the questions I asked. Where’s my ‘good point?’” She smirked.

“You were here last night?” asked Carl and Ball Boy at once.

“So, come to visit us finally, Matatoa? What’s next for you after this? Write some memoirs, maybe? A tell-all about all the relationships you’ve had called ‘Fucking 2014′?” I preferred that line of conversation as opposed to the other one.

He cleared his throat. “If you don’t mind too terribly, I’d like to stay with you for the time I have remaining. Now, I won’t be a burden on you. I know how you realized you didn’t have anything for the Rejects to do and I don’t need to join you on your adventures.”

“That’s why you didn’t care enough to save them,” Venus realized.

“Young lady, you provided an excellent means for my adoptive father send them on to a better, safer life.” Matty put his arm around my shoulders as he revealed that to Venus.

“You really shouldn’t give her that sort of insight,” I told him. “People might start to suspect I’m playing them more often than they realize.”

“I already knew that, Gecko. I didn’t know the Rejects were part of it, but it makes sense now.” Venus looked down, but not straight down, as she remembered. I noticed her eyes widen slightly before she controlled them.

She didn’t appear surprised when I spoke in a flat voice devoid of questioning emphasis. “Gee, I wonder how you knew which chain of stores to check.”

I heard Tricia give an “Oh my god.” I realized then that I never did find out what story the media presented about the EMP. Venus and the FBI probably covered their asses.

Seriously, all this time and she still hasn’t shown me dat ass. I haven’t asked her because she might hit me, but I’ve thought it hard enough that she must have figured it out by now.

Dat ass. Dat ass. Dat ass. Dat ass. Dat ass. Dat ass. Dat ass.

Well, Venus looked ready to hit me, but I doubt it had to do with my feeble attempt at telepathy. “Nice to meet you, Mr. 2014, but we were in the planning stage for an assault. I’m sure someone can make you comfortable while we get back to that. Right?” She looked around at everyone.

Matty looked completely unconcerned. “I can find my way around. I’ve kept my eye on Psycho Gecko well enough to know this place. I was sorry to see the club go. You’ve really lost a lot over the past year.” He settled in on a barstool and helped himself to the vanilla and chocolate marshmallows I hid in an empty can of Cream of Snake soup.
I knew no one would decide to fix themselves a mouthful of cream, after all.

The only major thing left for me to push for in the plan, especially with Venus’s mystery guest showing up, would be more chickens. I refused to be out-roostered by His Eggcellency!

“Let’s not make this a cock measuring contest, Gecko,” Venus said, momentarily staring daggers at me before forcing a smile onto her face. Dat ass?

Cut to later that night, back at the egg packing plant. It started with a bang; a pair of my chicken grenades tried to cross the road and blew a hole in the lobby on the north side. Dozens of chickensaurs flooded the gap within thirty seconds, a ferocious feathered flood of freaks. I slipped in the docking bay again. The giant, fire-breathing chicken stomped around there. It grew since the last time I saw it. Claws grew out of the ends of the wings, like it was turning into a dragon.

It made sense. The chickensaurs resembled velociraptors, and even the Phenomenal Fighting Justice Rangers had been known to shoehorn a dragon mech onto their team when everyone else on it used old animals like dinosaurs or a sabre-tooth tiger.

Though everyone waited around the perimeter, we settled on a swift decapitating strike to minimize destruction. I’m fine with decapitation, but the lack of destruction irked me.

I navigated through the south end of the plant to find the main packing floor that held His Eggcellency’s dais and throne. Hopefully, the throne held His Eggcellency’s ass.

His royal roundness stood on the dais, organizing chickensaurs into rows and columns like some sort of Roman legion of roamin’ yard birds. He didn’t notice me, more because of my invisibility than because of his long-winded speech. “Whoever has attacked us has jumped out of the frying pan and into the fryer! The day may come when the courage of chickens may fail, but it is not this day! This day, we fight! This day, they die! Should our enemies blot out the sun, then we will fight in the shade. Now, peck hearty, my chickensaurs, for tonight we dine in hell! They may be men, but we are chicken!”

And the crowd went mild. Guess he forgot to teach them English. It’s not his fault, though. He must have been busy. A training regimen like he put these birds on must have left him feeling hen-pecked.

I slipped an arm around his neck and tightened up enough to preclude any tricks like fleeing for his life. I dropped my invisibility projection as well. “Hey there, Humpty Dumpty. Now that you’re done doing the Humpty Hump, how about you put your cocks away and let’s talk man to man?”

“Never! If I die, my horde will not rest until they’ve picked your bones clean,” he responded.

“You’d have better luck picking speck of pickled peppers, Peter Piper.” I opened a line to Venus. “Hey there sweet thing, he’s decided he’d rather surrender than die. Mind dropping in?”

She crashed in through the skylight. She’d planned on that, and I figured she’d have a rappel line or grappling hook to ease herself down. Instead, she dropped and landed easily in shiny, sleek armor. It fit close, emphasizing the gold and white that she took as her colors. The armor itself looked thin, but I could tell from the way she swatted away a leaping chickensaur that she had strengths enhancing pseudomuscles.

“Attack, my chickensaurs! Feast on their bones!” proclaimed His Eggcellency. I let him go and stepped back, then activated stealth mode and disappeared.

“I should have known not to trust you, but usually you’ll keep your end of a bargain,” Venus said in between beating the crowd of cocks threatening to overwhelm her. Then, to someone else, she said “I’m going to need your help. He turned on me. Yeah, you won the pool.”

A blur sped in and bounced against chickensaurs like a pinball in a machine. When it stopped, it resembled the altered birds a great deal. There was no mistaking a raptor in a cape for a chickensaur, though. I called up my guys on the perimeter. “Better clear out, guys. They have a speedster.”

“Who is it, boss?” asked Carl.

“Veloci-raptor. Funny, he looks more like a Utahraptor. I wonder if he’s Mormon. I don’t like Mormons.”

“Why’s that? Did they ever betray you and leave you to die?”

“Shut up, Tricia. I don’t know why, though. I’d like to know why. This isn’t like that thing with Jupiter.”

That got Trish in journalist mode. “What happened between you and Jupiter? Is that a hero or a villain?”

“Your lack of knowledge about astronomy astounds me, Tricia. It’s a planet.”

“What did Jupiter the planet ever do to you?” she asked.

“It knows what it did. But when it comes to Mormons, I refuse to allow my mind to be held hostage by irrational neuroses.”

That set off enough laughter that I reduced the volume of my comma. I moved clear of the fighting to enjoy the show a bit and evaluate Venus’s armor. When the giant dragon-chicken approached the field of battle with a mighty squawk, I knew I’d get a treat.

I didn’t think it would involve a Tyrannosaurus Rex crashing through the wall and picking the fire-breather up in its mouth. Then I noticed the monocle over its eye and the book in its tiny claws.

“Boss, what was that? We heard a roar and a big crash and then you sounded like a little girl at the Lisa Frank house.”

I ignored the crossed reference. “I’ve always wanted to see this guy. That backup Venus mentioned? She has more than just Veloci-raptor.”

The T-rex whipped it’s head around, ringing the chicken-dragon’s neck and then spitting its limp body to the floor. Then, with some sort of British accent, he said “Ptew, that fowl tastes quite foul. The bellicose bird left a bad taste in my mouth. The sweet smell of Nike’s ambrosia shall surely cleanse my pallette of such odious bloodshed. To victory, my compatriots!”

“Who is it, boss?” Carl asked.

“It’s…The Saurus! But seriously, get out of here. They aren’t losing this one.”

Carl, Moai, Tricia, and Matatoa left. I stayed. I think Venus realized it, or she’s still got her insight into how I think.

“You’re still here, aren’t you?” she asked, dragging a black-eyed Eggcellency along a floor covered in feathers and chicken blood. “I hope you got a good look at what will happen to you if you try me again, Gecko. You used to have the advantage with your armor. You don’t anymore. I have friends who can build power armor, too. If I have have to redeem you by knocking your teeth down your throat every time you commit a crime, I will. That’s not what I want. I think there’s some decency in you that wants to reconcile, and I won’t put you back in a place like the Rubik’s Cube. I think I frustrate you more since that day on the roof. You’re so cynical, you’re letting compliments get to you. I hate to break it to your cynical self, but even though the bad guys can win, so can the good guys. Maybe you’d like to go and spend time with your friends now and stay away from anything illegal for awhile, alright?”

What a bitch.