Tag Archives: Torrent

Two Tickets to Paradise 11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Where are you, by the Burger King?”

“We’re at the casino.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What is this, Ouroboros?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Undying dragon my ass.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What? I hit a touchy subject.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I held his shattered skull.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Douche.

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Two Tickets to Paradise 10

Fuck me.

Before you get any ideas, readers, that’s not an invitation.

I’m supposed to be a bad guy. I’m supposed to be kicking asses and carving names onto tombstones. Problem is, my plans are getting their metaphorical asses kicked.

I put all this work into trying to kill these people, and you think they appreciate it? No! They hate it. This lack of gratitude is almost enough to make me go be a pacifist.

It’s not just been a bad few days. It’s been an entire bad trip. Is it me, do you think? Plans failing, people living. It’s hard to claim this is just a few unfortunate events.

The fuck am I talking about? This crap doesn’t belong here. Is this called “Saddy McSadpants in Retrospect?” I didn’t think so. You want to see me sit around and moan to myself about how awful it is that people hate me and try to make superpowers into some sort of curse? Power? Sounds good. Responsibility? I’ll wait for the other people to take it first.

I don’t go there. There’s a huge number of places you can go to if you want to see heroes moping about having the ability to save lives and make a difference in the world. If you want your tortured, brooding villains just trying to get by and do what they think is best for everyone, that’s not me either.

I’m here because some of you have recognized that it’s not just awesome to have superpowers, it’s fucking awesome! That’s right, it’s awesome on a level normally reserved for the stimulation of your genitalia by another human being. Or animal. I’m not judging, though I do suggest you at least use condoms. I hear there’s a chance diseases could jump across the genetic gap there. Congratulations, Billy and Mrs. Goat. You had a bouncing baby virus. It causes babies to bounce.

Now, where were we…oh, yeah, I was covering myself in awesome sauce and posing seductively on a polar bear fur rug, because icy you can’t help but stare.
What you would have been staring at over the past few days was my attempt to get my wits about me and finalize some deals. Now after awesoming myself back up, I have to go talk about everything that makes me sound like some pitiful depressed worm. I had to talk in person with the Yakuza and the Cartel. Problem was, the heroes made a big damn announcement.

I don’t get what’s with all the press conferences, but they sure know how to use them to screw me over. Their original plan to replace me was thwarted by my impressive ability to talk while someone drives a car into them. They figured out a different way to screw me over. Right there by the podium, Shieldwall welcomed their undercover villain into the fold.

Psycho Gecko had apparently had some big change of heart after Memphis and was trying to repay his debt to society, blah, blah, blahdiddly blah there neighboroony, something something probation and alert the cops if you see him walking around without a hero. They got my attention when they mentioned his aid in the capture of the notorious Mix N’Max before they arrived in Paradise City. “You didn’t think we just sat around doing nothing, did you?” Venus said into the camera and gave a wink.

I was minutes away from meeting with the Cartel. I saw the heroes, their pet robot, and the wannabe me on a TV screen of an electronics store and had Moai let me out to watch this. Chop my knees out from under me, why don’t you? Here, you want a butter knife to shove up the stumps?

I still went to meet the Cartel. They’re used to being a part of undercover operations and politics, I thought. Of course they wouldn’t be confused by some idiot like that in a stolen suit. They could clearly see I didn’t have my suit with me.

They welcomed me to the warehouse of their “cooking supply company.” Oh yeah, they’ll help you cook. Baking soda, sugar, flour, even that sugared powder for donuts, they have it all there. They showed me up some ramps to an office overlooking the place. The fellow who led me in was all smiles, motioned for me to sit, then offered to go look for that pockmarked guy I was supposed to be talking to.

Someday, I’d really like to learn more about all these people I run into. Guys like this, I’ll see a few times and that’s it. I haven’t even delved a whole lot into the lives of the people in Shieldwall. Then again, they haven’t delved too much into me either. Even when Venus and I chat, we can’t get too far into a conversation. I guess it’s like dealing with everybody else. You run into people every day. You even work with people every day. How many of them do you actually know, though?

I guess you could say I was trying to understand the stupidity of the man who shot me in the head.

I was just sitting back, maxing, relaxing all cool, thinking of playing the Cartel for a fool, when some armored guy who wants to be dead, started firing rounds at my head. I got right back up off the floor and the guy got scared and said, “Today Terribilis takes you out for the betrayal that you dared.”

Sadly, the resulting fight did not end in my becoming Prince of Bel-Air. I stood up, dropping the illusion that I was unarmored. Like I was really going to show up to another meeting without it. This man in a bulky suit of power armor dropped from the rafters from where he’d pumped a few rounds my way. There being a perfectly good window between myself and a drop to the floor, I took the obvious route down. I crashed through the window he’d shot holes in and I hit the stealth.

I know, you’re thinking this is all leading up to yet another fight. Once more into the breach.

It did, just not for me. It turns out that when you have an enormous crowd of people out for your blood, you also have some control over them. The heroes didn’t want to negotiate. That’s fine. They just wanted to catch me and they couldn’t just ignore me when I called up Venus, who really needs to change her number by now, and told Boopsie that I was in the middle of a Cartel warehouse full of cocaine. If I wasn’t stopped soon, I might grab a whole bunch of that powder and fumigate the city.

She hated me and she knew that I was using them. She also knew she had to bring the hammer down on that warehouse.

“We’ll see how fast we can zip in to save the day, but you’ll understand if we don’t hurry into a trap. Where are you?” her voice came over the phone, followed by a grunt of exertion. I was hiding against the wall, watching Terribilis march around firing off magnetic weights. They’d occasionally hit on something metal, like a knife or a colander, and smack it down good, but he had a way to draw it back in. He also had a rifle attachment and at least one minigun. Except a small minigun. A mini-minigun. Isn’t the name minigun one of the worst attempts at naming ever?

It must be one of those ironic nicknames, like if you called a basketball player “Shorty”.

“I’m over in the warehouse district. Big warehouse-looking building. I think Sunshine Baking is the front company. Oh how I so want to be captured and brought to justice so I can do good things for people. You busy?”

“We’re raiding a warehouse full of consumer electronics. Yakuza knock-offs and stolen merchandise.”

“Huh. It’s not at Binary Entertainment Distributors is it?” I asked while reviewing the footage of my approach to the place. A stray round, fired at random, punched through the wall next to me.

“What if it is?” queried Venus. I could almost imagine her piledriving some hapless thug with one hand while holding up her phone with the other. Isn’t she lovely?

“If it is, then you’re right across the street. See you in a few minutes,” I said and then hung up. I threw the frog-named power armor a bone to keep him interested before I got out of there. And by bone, I mean a pair of stink bombs. I hear they have catfish tosses around here, only without the exploding into a foul smelling cloud at the end.

Of course they didn’t catch the place with me in it. They barely caught Terribilis. I only stuck around at all to risk capture because I was hoping the thief would be in attendance. Sadly, he was tardy. The Red White Blue Kid-Boy-Guy-Dude-Whatever was with them though. Nice to see my enemies’ recruiting efforts are going much better than my own.

The twist that made this all the worse for me, though, was that they leaked edited portions of the call and praised me for helping them take down two such important criminal enterprises in one day.

That’s why I got some very dirty looks walking into the casino with Moai. Security was there, supers were there. There were even beat-up members of other gangs hanging around. Torrent stepped in front of me and tried to stop me. He started to say something about not being welcome. I was in no mood to not be welcome. One illusionary me ran around his left, one around his right. A third slid between his legs and one stood still in front of him. I jumped over him and headed for the bar. Moai went around him and wasn’t stopped because I was Torrent’s focus.

The security guy shot me a dirty look as I ordered a White Russian. I kept an eye on him as I turned my head away. I saw him in my 360 view as he mixed in some rat poison. Torrent gathered a squad of men and approached. I turned and went to grab my drink, then threw it back like I was drinking it, only I threw it behind me. Poison and all, it landed on Torrent’s face. While he was busy coughing, I grabbed the two nearest guards and brought them in close with my arms around their shoulders.

“I’m so glad to have friends like y’all, who are so kind and understanding when I get slandered by evil untrustworthy servants of public justice. I suppose if I didn’t have friends like you, I’d have to TEAR OFF YOUR OWN ASSES AND BEAT YOU TO DEATH WITH THEM!”

That reminds me, I like the move Warriors of Virtue. Komodo especially. Good role model if you like cheese. I do. It treats me well. I don’t know if it adds to my reputation, but it just feels right to me. Looking at it now, though, perhaps I should enunciate it a little differently. It loses something how that is. Something to work on next time I’m yelling at people, I guess.

I saw Ouroboros step out of the VIP section with some man in black with too many pouches who packed an unusual rife of unusual size. He whispered something to the man, reinforcements probably, and this new guy went back into the VIP room.

“You’ve betrayed us,” Torrent said, wiping his face with his sleeve.

“I’ve betrayed no one. The heroes are lying. You people deal with intrigue all the time and now you start believing your enemies are telling the truth?”

“Gecko, calm down. Everyone, calm down,” Ouroboros said, trying to defuse the situation, “I believe you. The heroes I’ve dealt with were little better than thugs in costumes, but you,” he smiled. A hole appeared in the wall of the VIP room. Something stung my neck through the costume.

As I fell, everything growing darker, I saw Moai began to kick ass.  Torrent threw off his coat and approached my faithful minion. Damn Ouroboros. Didn’t even drink and he roofied me.

I awoke to find myself in a very solid cell with one clear wall on it. I had a headache and cottonmouth and my costume still on, oddly enough. I sat up and began to get my strength under me to stand up. That’s when I found out I had steel gauntlets that enclosed my hands on, joined by heavy chains to shoulder pads and a thing around my waist, down to ones around my thighs and to some around the calves of my boots. My range of movement was severely restricted. I could still get up and walk around though, thanks to my armor. I paced the room, getting a sense of what I was dealing with as far as escaping. Maybe 5 minutes after I stood up, I had Ouroboros paying me a visit.

“Well, well, well, if it isn’t my bargaining chip. You started to worry us. That sometimes happens. Powers can warp a person’s body and change their reactions to certain chemicals. You’re welcome for the armor. I took your toys, but you strike me as the kind of man to leave a surprise for anyone who would drag you out of that getup.”

I shook my head, still knocking away some fogginess. “Moai?”

“We have him in a pair of cement shoes. He’ll make a good fountain ornament.”

“Betraying me doesn’t end well for you, you know.”

“You betrayed me first. It was ok for a novice at this sort of game. I knew about the heroes and Columbians and Japanese. It wasn’t entirely a bad plan, though. You’re still the star. You’re just not cut out to handle wheeling and dealing with the rest of us.”

“When’s the ambush?”

“Tomorrow night, I think. We prefer the night around here and I need time to get my temporary allies prepared for battle.”

“This worked out well for you as far as the other gangs, didn’t it?”

“Oh yes, quite.”

“What if I survive that little battle?”

“Then we’ll dump you outside of town. I’m not a barbarian. I don’t hold any ill will toward you despite your laughable attempt to undermine me. I just want the heroes and my rivals gone. It would behoove you to aid those efforts in your current state lest the heroes get you after all. Though I suppose you could run for the city limits instead when all hell breaks loose.”

I raised my hands and brought them closer to my face. He tilted his head, “What?”

“You got a little something. Right there,”

He reached up to his face and rubbed at his mask. I shook my head and lifted my hands again, “A little higher.”

He rubbed again, then looked down at his palm. “Did I get it?”

“No, it’s sticky, I think. I think you got a booger. Here,” I raised my arms, “I can get it for you.”

He smiled a thin smile, “Of all the nuisances I’ve dealt with you’re one of the more amusing ones, Psycho Gecko. If you survive, don’t return. You will no longer be so amusing.”

He left then, leaving me to try and come up with new cuss words and figure out how to work some of those transmitters that were part of my brain, spine, and armor. I wanted to add the blogging device to my body as well, but the lack of nanites nixed that idea. Instead, I’ll just have to make do with having it set up in the ole SUV and connecting remotely.

In the meantime, I just have to fight my way past three criminal organizations, a group of heroes with military contractor support, all of whom do not like me at all right now, and free Moai from a horrible life of being a gaudy casino decoration. If you don’t hear from me again, then I want you to go bug some stories I read in my honor.

See you next time, folks.

Next

Previous

Two Tickets to Paradise 8

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

Torrent just shook his head.

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

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

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

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

“Hello?” came a tired female voice.

“Boopsie!”

“Fuck.”

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

She hung up.

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

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

“Paradise City cleared of gangs.”

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

“Not asking after the price first?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“They’ll never go for it.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Our plan should reflect this change in priorities.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Next

Previous

Two Tickets to Paradise 7

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Torrent immediately began ordering the security staff around.

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

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

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

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

Next

Previous

Two Tickets to Paradise 6

Let me just say that these past few days hit me like a ton of bricks. Just wham!

By now you’ve already read about the seeds of this whole mess that were planted. I left Moai to guard Raggedy Man in his new room and figured I’d water them a bit. Or plant more. I was never into gardening, so the plant metaphor stretches kind of thin for me, like a rubber band that has to fit around the entire scope of an event. Metaphorical simile aside, I escalated things.

Say what you will, but I think the car bomb was perfectly justified. The target left the restaurant nice and sauced. I just turned desert into a flambé. I don’t know who the Yakuza guy was, what he did in the organization, or if he was any higher than some sort of middle manager. I don’t know much…but I know his car blew. And that may be all I need to know. Great tipper though, even if his guys were a bit paranoid and kept a close eye on me.

Obviously it’s the Cartel they have to watch out for. That’s who is meant when people mention the Columbians around here. They’re really not all Columbian once you get to the states. Still, they’re known for their car bombs.

Don’t think they got off easy though. Why, on the same night as their cowardly attack on some random Yakuza guy, several of their men who supplied drugs at the street level were gunned down by someone with a lot of those spare dinky Mini Uzis the extraction team tried to use. They’re like toys, I swear. It’s hard to take these little things seriously. I felt like the trigger was going to break off in my hand while it farted bullets into the guys.

I made it real easy for everyone to put the pieces together, too. I left all the clues out really obvious so anyone examining things would be like “Wow, this was pretty clearly a Yakuza hit and this was clearly a Cartel hit. It might as well be written all over the place.” Then they’ll laugh and laugh.

The next day, I visited our old friend Torrent. He was annoyed to say the least. I bet it’s because somebody painted the windows and windshield black and was sitting on the hood in full armor. I didn’t get a chance to deny the paint job, though. He was more concerned about the bomb I had in my hands that was spot on for what the Cartel straps to a car. “What are you doing here with that?” he spat at me.

“Oh, nothing. Had some time while I was blindfolding your car, figured I’d chain it to your toilet. Nice house by the way,” It was too. It was by the bay on Scenic Highway, very good land, even if the slopes make driving awkward. There aren’t beaches there, but it’s a fantastic spot if you have a boat. “Anyway, before I could send your pooper on parade, I found this sucker hanging on. Don’t worry, it’s disarmed. I wouldn’t want to hurt you. Here, catch!” I chucked it underhanded at Torrent. He caught it quickly and I saw his hand and forearm slightly bulge at the impact before it dissipated through his body.

“Did you stop by just to vandalize my humvee?”

“No, I’m afraid I’m here on official unofficial business. I know I’m not here officially, meaning you don’t have to act like you give a damn, but I’m here unofficially, meaning the other guys act like they give a damn. Just figured I’d point out that if I’m attacked by these guys again, with no allies of my own officially around, then I may be force to do some very violent things. There could be collateral damage. Have you ever seen a man ripped apart by an exploding port-a-potty rocket? Unofficially, between you and me, that may happen.”

Torrent was stoic in the face of extortion. “They attacked you? Do they know what you’re after?” he queried.

“They knew what room I was in on what floor I was on of what building I was keeping someone in. He’s a very important someone for this project. If you guys are antagonizing both sides, that’s fine, but a crossfire is a dangerous place for me to be for everyone concerned. All alone, lost in a strange city, looking for water to put my back against. Can you dig it?”

He dug it.

Thanks to another anonymous tip from the same source that had good information on where the out-of-towner was keeping someone hidden, one or two people with an eye out also caught a glimpse of said out-of-towner tossing a Cartel-style car bomb to Ouroboros’s #2 man. The #2 is about to hit the fan, man.

From there, I headed back to the hotel. The same one they raided. They obviously wouldn’t expect me to stay in the exact same hotel. I went right back to the first floor. Yes, the same floor too. Even if they thought I had the audacity to stay in the same hotel, they’d assume I would change floors. They’d be wrong. And I went to the same room door…and passed it up, heading two doors down. If anyone thought to check the same hotel and floor, they’re savvy enough to check the same room. Uh uh. Not gonna find me that easy.

Time for the video. I let myself into the room and handed a phone to Moai. Just something I picked up real quick. It and the axe. Some people looked at me funny when I was carrying that around, but I yelled something about Second Amendment Rights and that got them to back off.

I took the axe with me into the circle of floodlights. Raggedy wasn’t looking good. He was scraped up, with dried blood on his arms and legs where he’d tried to wriggle free. He had a cut on his head as well, probably from the lamp.

Making sure not to bridge the gap with a shadow, I stood close to him and tapped him on the head with the axe. “Wake up, sleeping beauty. I really don’t feel like true love’s kiss needs to be brought into this.”

He stirred, slowly getting his bearings. Then he saw the axe, his eyes going wide. He trembled a tiny bit. To his credit, he restored his composure after a few seconds. I patted him on the head. “Fear not, Raggedy Man. You and I are just going to make a video…something tasteful. Ok, Moai, roll it!”

I waved at the camera, axe in hand. “Hi there Raptor! Say hi, Raggedy Man.”

I waited. And waited. No response from Raggedy. I grabbed his hand with mine and began yanking it. “Now come on Raggedy, at least wave to the man.” With a crack, I was able to raise Raggedy’s hand up for a wave. His forearm remained firmly secured to his chair with a cuff having been forced high up along his arm. He screamed. I waited until he was finished before I spoke out the side of my mouth in a higher pitch than normal, “Hullo there Raptor, it’s me, Raggedy, practicing my ventriloquism.”

“Neat skill there, Raggedy Man. Anyway, Raptor, nice to finally talk to you. I’m Psycho Gecko and I’ve been spying on you. You’ve come out to your wife about your secret identity. The late nights, the costume with muscles molded into it, looking for strange men in dark alleyways. You’re a superhero. You probably think now you’re out that things get better. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but they won’t. It gets worse.”

I set down my hostage’s hand and continued, “I have him at that crappy hotel by the civic center. First floor. You’ll want to get here and rescue him while you can. I know it’s the middle of the day, but you can drop the girls off at an aunt’s house or something and throw on the costume. Your wife won’t have to know because she’s working. Actually working at the bank this time. No stakeout. Raaaaptor, come out to plaaaaaay.”

I brought the axe more prominently into frame and gave it a couple partial spins. “Just you, me, and a new axehole. Ok, cut it there and let’s send it to him. Good job Raggedy, you’ll make it in showbiz yet. You should really show me how you do the trick with the broken arm sometime, I’d love to know how you fake that.”

“What are you going to do if he doesn’t show up?” wondered my prisoner.

“I’m going to leave you in the chair, that’s all. He’ll come.”

Moai sent Raptor the video to his phone and I left the disposable plugged in to charge and provide a handy bug for when Raptor came crashing in. The axe I left in the plastic ashtray outside the door of the hotel. Meanwhile, I headed to the bank. I had an important withdrawal to make.

When I walked into the bank, I appeared to be a civilian in a business suit, briefcase in hand. I’m glad I don’t have to wear an actual suit. Too morbid. Think about it. What do they dress dead bodies in for a funeral? Suits. And then there’s the noose people men tie around their own throats when they put them on. Not only are they dressing like they’re going to die, they’re wearing a means to kill them.

I bluffed my way through to the offices with various nonsense about loan originators and debt reconsolidation and so on. A badge and nametag appeared to match what I saw worn around me in the office, the title shifting as I weaved in and out of lies and higher up the corporate ladder. You can get more places with nonsense, a prop, and confidence than you can with just nonsense. Acting like you don’t belong somewhere is a sure sign that you don’t. Social engineering, I’ve heard it called. The weakest links in any security measure are the people themselves.

I found our Mrs. Robinson looking much more professional in the women’s version of a suit on her slender frame and hair done up. There were dark circles around her eyes. Knowing what hubby’s up to wasn’t helping her peace of mind. I just had to idle for a bit, so I stopped by the water cooler. Mmm, refreshing water. I don’t think anyone caught that it just ran off what seemed like my face and suit.

I made my move when I heard doors crashing in back at the hotel via my phone. The missus was chatting with a balding coworker when I stopped by her desk casually, apologized that I needed to pause and get something from my case, and pulled out my coffee blaster and a small board. Some people call their coffee makers a name like Mr. Coffee. I think I’ll call mine Mr. 2nd Degree Burns. Excellent.

I scalded the man with the thinning hair right on his exposed head. Mrs. Robinson had an inkling of my purpose and stumbled upright, knocking over her chair. I wrapped my arm around her as she turned to run, catching her around the midsection. I set Mr. 2nd Degree Burns aside then hit her at waist-height with the board. It let out a snap as it hit her and on my signal it curled around her waist. I got the idea from a wristband I saw once.

She struggled and threw her elbows against me. She tried to stomp on my foot with her heel. She stopped that once I whispered to her, “Mrs. Robinson, you can try and seduce me later. Right now, that’s a bomb I put on you. I have the detonator in my helmet and can set it off at any moment, so you might want to stop. Just saying.”

She did as I gently suggested and stood there, huffing, trying to catch her breath. Taking Mr. 2nd Degree Burns back in hand, the two of us made our way to the elevator. She got a confused look on her face as the door closed and turned to me. “Helmet?” she inquired. She got a good look at my armor as I dropped the businessman illusion and let out a piercing scream.

I tried muting her, but I was forced to do so without the aid of a remote by holding my hand over her mouth while I listened in on Raptor’s progress. He broke down the correct door this time. “Help is here, man. We got you. I don’t care what they said, I knew you’d turn up alive. You’re too tough a bastard to die.”

She screamed her pretty little face off up on the roof. I held her by the updo she had her long black hair in, holding her at arms length so that she leaned off the side of the building. I dialed up the phone I left back in the hotel room and interrupted the reunion of mentor and hero with a call carrying the shrill sound of Raptor’s wife in danger.

“Hey, pick up the phone already! I don’t have all day. My arm’s getting tired.”

“What do you want?” came a voice over the phone. There was rage, desperation, and hurt in his voice.

“It’s funny that nobody knows the answer to that, because I’m sure it would make a lot of things in the immediate future much clearer. I digress. Now, I wasn’t lying when I said your wife was at work. I’m with her now! Let me tell you, she knows how to work a business skirt, know what I mean? You’ve got two kids, so I guess you do. So here’s the deal, I’m going to drop her here in a few minutes. I don’t know, maybe five? I suppose I could try and make this a sadistic choice, but we both know you’ll grab her instead of trying to grab me. All you have to do is flap your little wings over here and keep your wife from falling to her doom.” I hung up.

I actually waited 7 minutes, but nothing beats having a loved one die in a hero’s arms. When it looked like he was close enough, I dropped Mrs. Robinson off the side of the building and adjusted my visor for binocular vision.

Black Raptor dove like a peregrine for the woman he loved. He came in dangerously close to the ground to catch her and the extra weight threw him down low enough that his wings struck something and the pair began to roll. When I caught up to them and got it focused enough I was disappointed by the sight that everyone lived. Raptor laid there on the ground, mechanical wings ruined, wife on top of him, the bomb strap in its board shape again nearby. The wife was going to make it, it seems. It put enough into it that it’ll blow through bones and organs where it’s wrapped, but with no real chance of collateral damage. It’s designed to do enough to kill just the one it’s wrapped around. Remember, if I kill Raptor, he won’t learn nuthin’.

But that didn’t mean I couldn’t give the guy a hand for all his luck and determination. I sent the signal telling the strap to curl up. It wrapped around Raptor’s right arm at the bicep. From where I stood, it sounded more like a loud pop as it took his arm off.

I cut back to the visor’s normal vision mode as I turned and found myself face-to-face with a giant hammer that hit me out of nowhere. I fell to my right, more than a little dazed. “Hey Gecko!” Venus shouted as she got control of the beefed up sledgehammer she just bitchslapped me with.

“You did it out of order,” I said haltingly. I had to relearn how to speak as my teeth felt like they’d just been rearranged.

“Stay down, Psycho Gecko. The team has this building surrounded and our people inside. There’s only one way you get off this building and that’s in our custody. Don’t make us have to hurt you.”

I held up a finger, “Hold on a minute. I don’t know where you came from or how you and your identical triplet sisters learned to spin around in circles that way, but I think we’ve established by now that there are two ways off this building.”

With that, I threw myself off the side, hoping I was still facing good people.

I was. It was Forcelight who first tried to catch me, but she was too powerful for what I was trying to do. If she caught me, that would be it. I directed a blank white holographic image into her face as she got close. She pulled it away with her powers but had missed me. She couldn’t stop on a dime.

The next hero to interrupt my fall was Gorilla Awesome who swung through the air to catch me in one meaty paw. Too bad he can’t fly. I swung my fists into one of his eyes and kicked off his body.

I continued my descent until Troubleshooter floated by. She piloted a car-sized vehicle that looked like she got out of control while adding stuff to her backpack. Two large waldoes, shaped like squared-off “U”s, grabbed me from either side, pinning my arms to my waist as the ends of each side met at my front and back. A mechanical scorpion tail rose out of the back of her flying machine and aimed right at my head. “Go ahead, make a move. I dare you.”

I hooked my right foot against a sort of cuff that was part of the right waldo and pushed, activating the jump enhancer. A system designed to throw me into the air exerted pressure against it. The right waldo yielded, leaving me in only the left, which tried to close more and hold me. It tried, but I slipped out the bottom. Hey, at least it got me closer to the ground and slowed me down some.

I was beginning to think I should have stayed with her when the heroes made one last attempt at saving my life. Or they almost did. Miss Tycism stopped before she got close enough to grab me and just let me fall.

I bounced off an SUV when I landed, denting it before landing hard on the ground. I was in bad shape. Bones broken, head concussed, warm fluids in my helmet and crotch area. I couldn’t feel much below the neck. I heard the door of the SUV open. The armor and I were both a little messed up but I wrangled enough projectors working together to throw up the illusion that I wasn’t there. Nanites flooded my body, emptying the suit’s stores as they worked to mend me. That was the plan. Disappear, get well enough to walk, and find Moai if he was still close enough in the escape vehicle.

Except the driver that walked over to look at me happened to be a statue from Easter Island. He loaded me in the back of the crushed former Yabloo City Sheriff’s K9 unit SUV and took off with me before the heroes could track us.

Like I said, good to have someone dependable around.

Next

Previous

Two Tickets to Paradise 3

They did all the boring stuff for me already. I realized that when I finally looked at the folder, though I didn’t get it right away. I was too busy being thrown out by security. They tried to carry out Moai too, but that’s easier said than done. I was thrown out the door, and over the next few seconds I was joined by four of casino security. They weren’t in any condition to object, so I went through their pockets for change and wallets.

When Moai did come out, he did so by throwing himself through the glass door, which made me feel a little bit proud. Why were windows invented if not for flying through? Seriously, it’s fun, but you have to avoid being cut up and stabbed by broken shards of glass, the jagged edges cutting into you and shredding your skin and muscles, spilling your vital life’s blood all over the place…but yeah, once you find away around that, it’s a total blast.

Then Torrent drove around the corner in his Hummer, helped us up, and took us back to the motel. Whatever. We already dress up in costumes. If they want to have a multiple personality disorder love-hate relationship with me, then who am I to object?

The police hadn’t touched anything and I was able to convince them that my friend in the Moai suit was preparing for a gig dressed as the Kool-Aid man and got a bit carried away.

They weren’t the type to remain skeptics when their health was on the line, so they skedaddled fairly soon afterward, allowing me to march up to the front desk and request another room. They gave it to me cheap, on account of I smacked the guy’s head into the water cooler over and over again going “Bonk! Bonk! Bonk! Bonk!”

I figured I’d tie up those loose ends from that whole encounter with Torrent and Ouroboros and wrecking my room, because I realized I left that out last time. Obviously some aspects of my life don’t make it onto here with my limited ability to communicate it all to you.

On to the good stuff. I got myself some information on this Black Raptor guy. Wears a black and red costume with a pair of mechanical wings on the back of it that allow him to fly somehow. That’s just one of the many things about superheroes that you don’t ask about unless you want to make a physicist cry and contemplate suicide. I considered doing something like that once, but the guy didn’t come through with the money up front. I don’t take kindly to not being paid, but I didn’t want to let Stephen Hawking off that easily. Thus began the dance-off.

If you’re reading this, other-dimensional versions of Stephen Hawking, know this…my loss will be avenged! I swear it! You can’t bust phat moves in that chair thingy forever!

They really gave me everything I needed for this guy, though. Lots of zeroes in a bank account and an address. Real name is Will Robinson, if you can believe that. I checked in on him during the day.

You can get away with almost anything during the day. Ouroboros wears black. Torrent wears black. Black Raptor wears black. For being in one of the hottest parts of the country during summer, they wear a lot of black around here. I have some darker colors on my armor, but I also have air conditioning. I bet they feel like tough sons of bitches now, having to hose down their armor and get treated for heat stroke every time they get into a fight during daylight hours.

As you’d expect, they don’t bother doing a lot in the day. Those robbers and that teeny-villain-bopper that one day were exceptions. Checked up on him over the internet. You’ll want an empty mouth for this part. His name is Red White and Blue Boy. They can’t all start out as winners.

Aside from Black and Blue Boy, I can spend my days how I want. First step, recon. I went in my armor because na na na na, I can keep it cool in this thing. Turns out bird boy’s house is in the suburbs outside of ParadiseCity in some unincorporated area called Pace. When I got there, it was six o’clock and the family was sitting down to dinner. Husband, wife, and two little girls. I thought I was going to have a problem telling which one was Will, but Ouroboros included a photo. Turns out it was the dad. Important note to remember: Will is a male name.

Another note I took down, courtesy of a text file in my augmented reality, was that I already lost a few options for making his life a living hell. He had a wife. Poor son of a bitch. And look at that, kids. Not one kid, two kids! Seeing as I don’t have time to arrange a third kid for him, I can’t take this in the extreme direction. Gives me an idea, though.

He’s got it pretty hard already, but a deal’s a deal. We’ll start with his home and give him something else to think about that messes with his head. Freaks him out. Something that distracts him while he’s busy chasing down the superpowered criminal underworld. After that, I should shitcan his civilian identity or his crime-fighting career. I’ll figure out the rest as I go along. It’s a really laid back plan.

I didn’t do anything then and there. Instead, I waited. I was there when he got ready to go on patrol and went into his study. Moving around the bookcases revealed the existence of the hidden costume and equipment. Turns out his chest is fake. Yep. It’s amazing what you find out by watching a man dress.

The suit is sculpted to look more buff than he really is. It serves the purpose of hiding the exoskeleton he uses. It’s pretty bare-bones, useful for increasing his strength, but carrying no protection or weaponry. The wings were connected to it, so it must do a really good job on the wings. It fit into the grooves of his outer costume, except for the wings of course, and the mask fit on it. The metal claws fit into the back of his hand and on top of the feet of the suit to serve as his talons.

His air of professionalism was thwarted, however, as he opened up a large window in the study and snuck out that way so he could go fly off. There you go, big guy. Go sneak out of the house to fight supervillains, because if your wife finds out you’re sneaking out, she’ll give you a real beatdown.

Good for her. Maybe I can send Venus her way to deliver a few pointers. They’re hunting dogs, so they can help find her husband without making a lot of noise. Oh, and I suppose if anyone knows how to teach the fine art of man-manhandling, Venus can. That sounded dirty. I meant that Venus really knows how to nail a guy. With a punch. Ok, let me try and put this delicately. Venus is good at laying men out on the ground and making them not want to get up.

She’s going to hurt me for that. She’s going to know somehow and she’ll show up out of nowhere and hit me. She’ll be all like “Hey Gecko!” Bitchslap!

Moving on.

While superhero daddy was away, I was left, a poor lone supervillain in alone at night in a house with his sleeping wife and daughters.

First thing’s first. Chair stacking. It has something to do with poltergeists, which appear to be a type of ghost that only haunts homes where people obsessed with ghosts live. I’m not saying ghosts and undead beings don’t exist. I’m just saying that the ones I know have better things to do than swing doors shut late at night. I know that one because I had to pee about 2 am this one time and walked in on one of them in the bathroom.

The sight wasn’t as bad as the smell. Seriously, it smelled like something died in there.

Thinking about that at the time reminded me that I needed to use the toilet, so I headed to the hall bathroom and left them an upper decker.

I don’t remember eating corn.

After washing my hands, because I’m not a filthy animal, I figured I’d check out what was in the fridge. Looks like they’re trying to eat healthy in here. Ah, fuck it, this part of the job I’m going to the kids’ school to steal cakes meant for a fundraiser. I tossed them all in the garbage.

That’s right. Screw your eyesight, kiddos, because I left your carrots to rot. The squash? I squished it! I broke the eggplant to make a few omelets. Yeah. The spinach is speaking Spanish now! I don’t even know what that was supposed to imply, but you try coming up with something evil to do with spinach besides feed it to people. I didn’t expect to have to answer a lot of questions about spinach. I guess nobody expects the spinach inquisition. I threw a cucumber away too. I’m done being cute over vegetables.

Not much else to do after that on this trip, since it was all kind of improvised. I turned the living TV on and left it on static. Then it was off to the girls’ rooms. I picked the one with the night light on in it. Maybe she was scared of the dark? I suppose the appearance of a clown standing in the corner of the room by the window wouldn’t help matters like that. It was boring waiting on her to wake up, so I hunted down a thunderclap sound and played a little bit of it.

I saw her peek her little head up off the pillow and spot me. Her eyes went wide and she hid under the covers. When she peeked again, she was relieved to see the clown was no longer in the corner, staring at her bed.

Now it was laying on the floor next to her bed, staring up at the ceiling.

Is it mean that I kind of enjoyed scaring the crap out of her like that?

Well, you didn’t come here to read about me volunteering at a hospital.

I disappeared about as soon as she screamed. I snuck out when her mom ran in to the side of her daughter’s bed, cradling her and asking what the matter was. “And who left the TV on?”

A flash of inspiration struck me when I saw the open door to the parents’ bedroom across the house. I went and found that cucumber. I quickly rifled through the kitchen looking for oil, leaving all the cabinets open in the process. When I found the vegetable oil, I poured a bunch of it on the cucumber and hurried to the master bedroom where I stuck it halfway underneath the bed on the side of the bed where the covers hadn’t been thrown off suddenly in the last few minutes. Also, that Fifty Shades of Grey book being on the other side was a giveaway.

It gave me an idea. I’m sure I’d get a ton of readers if I tied up that woman, beat her, and raped her, right? No? Ok, then stop reading Fifty Shades of Grey. I can understand BDSM, but even people running around in gimp outfits recognize that “She enjoyed it” doesn’t make it any less rapey. It’s true. I asked this one sub, right after I whipped him on the ass with one of those horse switch thingies, of course, and then gave him permission to speak. He said they ought to call that abominable crap 1950s Shades of Grey.

Now if you’ll excuse me, back to my morally superior scaring of little girls in their bed at night.

I grabbed a page out of it, looked around, and found a pen. That was lucky. All these pockets and not one pen. At one time I had a pencil, but I used it in a magic trick.

I summoned the mother to her room by playing the sound of a grandfather clock striking the hour. That probably freaked her out when she realized they didn’t have a grandfather clock. And it wasn’t on the hour. And all the kitchen cabinets were open. And there was a mysterious slick substance on the floor.

Then she got to see a large cucumber oiled up and sticking halfway under her husband’s side of the bed, with a note nearby that read “Jenni 867-5309”. I think then she realized her husband wasn’t anywhere in the house.

Like a cherry on top of what I did, Raptor’s going to get a marital arts beatdown when he gets home.

Dammit, that reminds me of something I missed in that trip. Next time I go I have to remember to stomp all their fruit too.

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Two Tickets to Paradise 2

I take it back. This town doesn’t know how to treat a bad guy. Know how I know? Because there was a very large guy of Asian ancestry waiting for me and Moai at our room. We walked in, Moai leading the way, when this guy came out of nowhere and hit Moai. His fist, forearm, and bicep all bulged impossibly large on impact and the went back to their normal size as Moai crashed through the wall. After Moai made a swift egress through the drywall, I pulled out the chair of the small folding table I’d brought into our motel room and seated myself. Of course I invited my guest to do so as well. There’s no reason we couldn’t be civilized for two people probably about to get into a fight.

After all, I had breakfast. Do you know how rarely that happens? Not only did I wake up in time to go get breakfast, but there’s another super up at the same time? This is a rare event. I was expecting a rainbow to burst out of my room there at any second. It would fly across the city and some guy who has been down on his luck would follow it to see this miracle occur.

Then he’d probably die a horrible death.

And my guest is superhuman, obviously. Moai is too tough of a sparring partner as I well know, but this is you, the reader, that has to be informed. Not me. At least I don’t think. Maybe?

The guy’s big. Weightlifter big. He’s not in a costume, but he’s cultivated a mean glare that lets you know he’s not here to save the day. Also, he’s got a mullet. Something about superhumans draws out the individuality of people. Costumes are a well-known side effect, but sometimes you get choices that other people don’t agree with. Like the mullet hairstyle. Now, before you go assuming it’s a racial thing that I don’t think he could just be a local redneck, you have to remember that he’s not wearing camo. Instead, he had a tight black shirt on that was tucked into black pants.

Another clear sign he’s not a baseline human. It’s summer outside, we’re in Florida, and this guy’s wearing all black?

So I munched on my biscuit and offered him one of the others I had with me. For those of you reading from the UK or from a world ruled by it, this is not your type of biscuit. This is like bread. It has cheap sausage and a thin, folded up grilled egg on it with something orange that can only legally be referred to as a “cheese product” on top. To add insult to injury, it still tastes better than your breakfast food.

You guys will probably like that he swatted my hand away. The offered biscuit splattered against the hole in the wall, flakes of drywall rendering it unsalvageable. Why, damn you? Why does my food keep getting destroyed by thoughtless meany poopyheads?!

I chewed and swallowed the piece of biscuit I had in my mouth and began to ask him, “To what do I owe this-?”

He was on me quickly for his size. I’m still not sure what happened to the table exactly. One moment was there, the next it was gone. I was more concerned with the man in black pinning me to the wall. I sensed some hostility there. When he spoke, I had trouble placing his accent, but his words were still clear, “Who do you think you are attacking my men?”

“Psycho Gecko,” I told him, “But sometimes I go by The Pitcher and dispense merciless bloody justice with my ability to throw things at people and sometimes hit them while pouring refreshing beverages for people. I have a meeting with Ouroboros later who will help me hunt down my dastardly nemesis, the Belly Itcher.”

Past him, I saw Moai at the hole in the wall, prepared to lend assistance should it become necessary. I saw his eyes twitch a little when I said my name, but he finally set me down when I mentioned the meeting with Ouroboros. I held out my hand, “And you are?”

He looked me in the eye, then took my hand in a firm shake. “You will call me Torrent. I work for Ouroboros. He sent me to bring you to him.” He tried to squeeze my hand in his grip but he was frustrated by what I’d held out with my hand. He squeezed my sausage, egg, and cheese biscuit in that meaty hand of his, getting all slick and greasy and once again ruining my food. He looked down at our hands and let go, finding himself holding the smooshed food as I stepped past him to hunt down some napkins or a papertowel or something.

“Well, Torrent, I was going to suggest we go have that meeting with your boss right after I finish breakfast, but I’m done early. Let’s go ahead now and meet him.” I gave Moai a thumbs up and a smile, then headed to the bathroom to wipe my hands off on a towel.

It wasn’t how I meant to let Ouroboros know I was in town, but I was more glad that talking it out kept this from escalating into more violence. That’s good. I didn’t feel like having two biscuits and my oh-so-expendable face ruined that day.

That doesn’t mean I disapproved when we left through the hole in the wall and Torrent stumbled over Moai, who was waiting for us to pass before following.

He tried to blindfold us as we were getting into his hummer for the drive, but he ran into a problem with Moai. Moai has a little bit larger head than most other magically-animated statues. I don’t try to point it out. It might hurt his feelings. Torrent didn’t have a blindfold big enough for Moai and was getting frustrated. “If he can’t be blindfolded, then we leave him behind,” he said.

“Don’t worry, we can just tie my shirt around that fat noggin of his. It’s like blindfolding a watermelon,” I said. Moai wrote that my ass was fat back when the cops stopped us at Yabloo City.

Shirtless and blindfolded, I sat in the back on the passenger side against Moai as we were driven to meet Ouroboros. Not the first paranoid client I’ve met. Unfortunately, my eyes don’t have an X-ray feature. They can’t swap to thermal imaging either, seeing as they’re positioned in my head, but that would have been useless anyway. Moai, however, is one sneaky devil with balls of stone. I haven’t had them carved on yet, but he’s got them. He can probably draw me a map if I need it.

“So, I thought you didn’t really have heroes to speak of around? That guy I fought didn’t look like one of us.”

“He’s a young hero. High school kid just starting out. That’s why he was dumb enough to be out during the day. He doesn’t matter.”

“So he’s not who I was asked to attend to?”

“No.”

I waited.

And waited.

“So, who was I called in for?”

“I’m not to say. The boss will tell you.”

“Are we there yet?”

“No, we’re not there yet.”

“I have to pee.”

“You should have used the bathroom before we left.”

“Can we stop and get icecream?”

“Don’t make me have to throw this truck at you.”

After that little exchange, I sat back and tried to enjoy the ride without fidgeting too much. That changed when we stopped and I heard someone on a megaphone preaching about hell and turning your life around. I think they were over right beside me, so I mashed my chest against the window and began to play with my nipples.

“They can’t see you. I have the windows tinted”

“Crap. Should I stop then?”

“Yes, you’re getting my window dirty and I don’t want to see that anyway.”

“Like these windows weren’t dirty and perverted before now,” I said, and sat back down.

Finally, after far too long, we stopped and Torrent got out. I got out as well, which prompted Moai to get out too. From the sound of things, he caught Torrent in the face with the door as he did so. I snickered as Torrent said something in another language under his breath.

“You’re going to look suspicious leading around a man and a walking Moai with blindfolds on, you know. Just how far away are we from where we’re going?”

“You can take them off. We’re in the right building,” I heard in response.

Moai and I slipped our blindfolds off. My shirt flew over the top of the hummer to land on my head, obscuring my vision of the rest of the garage we were in. I slipped it back on as I admired the gaudy cars around. They were a shiny bunch. There was a red Ferrari with “Schwing” on the license plate. There was one that was gold-colored, with a spoiler and spinner rims. There was even a plain black Cadillac town car. Clearly, every variety of wealthy person was well-represented here.

Well, not every variety…or so I thought. The sound of a helicopter landing on the roof proved me wrong on that count. “Lots of visitors to meet me?”

“No, this is our casino.”

“Ah, good show, blindfolding someone just to take them to a place lots of people are expected to find. I’m sure that had a purpose. While we’re at it, let’s have a Mexican standoff and I’ll drop my pants about halfway down my ass. Moai, think you can get a gold tooth and a fake scar over one eye?”

Torrent looked at me. He was in the right place, because he had one hell of a poker face. He walked to the door and opened it to reveal a well-dressed bouncer in a suit. They shared a few whispered words before he waved me over. Together, Torrent, Moai, and I walked in through the VIP section, which was a little apart from the rest of the casino thanks to ropes. And it was one hell of a casino. Slot machines, tables, bright lights, even a buffet off to the side. “Wow, nice secret location. Wouldn’t want anyone to find this place easily, would we?”

Torrent shot me a look. A look that said “My eyes are this close to pulling out a gun and shooting more than a look.” Cute. He’s upset because he realized he made a dumb mistake.

Up in the private box, we were led to Ouroboros, who was seated, in-costume, on a leather couch. It was a black bodysuit that hid everything under it. You couldn’t see if he was built, you couldn’t see if he needed a girdle. It looked scaled, with a black sheen. On the chest, that sheen went against the texture and formed an infinity sign. It hid his eyes, with no openings or different-colored spot to indicate that they were behind the two depressions in the mask at that point. On his face, a portion of the costume opened up to look like a mouth with fangs arching down, his real nose and mouth exposed in that opening. The corners of the costume mouth were pulled back and wrinkled like a real mouth. A pair of curved ivory daggers that more closely resembled claws hung on loops at his waist where a belt would be.

A small smile came to his face as he saw Torrent, Moai, and I. He nodded to us, “Ah, good job, you brought our guests. Did you blindfold them as I asked?”

Torrent nodded. I just looked at him, “Seriously, dude, I’ve been giving you a hard time about it and you did it because of orders? You couldn’t say something?”

“Torrent is a quiet guy most of the time, in deference to the people he used to work for. So you are Psycho Gecko? Have a seat,” Ouroboros indicated a seat nearby. I sat and Torrent left to go do whatever it is he does.

“Nice to meet you and all, but why blindfold me to bring me to a casino? It’s illegal, but you don’t seem too concerned about people finding it.”

He shrugged. “It’s intrigue, what can I say. I’ve got other interests trying to move in and take what I’ve got with back alley deals and turning people against me. It’s pretty much required I act like this. So after tonight, as far as anyone knows, I’ve never met you and I have nothing to do with why you’re here. You’ll be in my territory acting a certain way without my approval.”

“Like that’ll fool anyone. What’s the point of pretending to hide something that everyone’s going to find out about anyway?”

“That’s intrigue and politics for you. By the way, I’m going to need you to act angry when you leave this room. Make a big show of it, ok?”

I nodded.

“Now let’s talk business. Have you heard of Black Raptor?”

I ran back through my files, including this archive. There he was, back when I was going over some news. “Yeah, he’s a new hero around here. Problem?”

Ouroboros shook his head, “Not a big one. I want something done that will be symbolic more than anything else. That’s why I brought you in. You’re overkill for the situation. I could easily have someone kidnap his family, beat him to a pulp, or leak his name to every superpowered menace out there, but I’ve seen what you’ve done to that Holdout kid and to Venus. You didn’t kill them, but you did a great job of making their lives hell for awhile.”

“Hell, you say? Me, you say? I guess I didn’t notice that part,” I said. I did, actually. That was the point of that mess with Venus, but I was legitimately trying to kill Holdout.

“I want him humiliated and beaten. I want his personal life in shambles, but he will get to live knowing what his heroism cost him. I want to send a message about what happens when heroes try to get serious in my town. Think you can do it?”

“Yeah, sounds good. What about the boring details? Pay, information on him, account numbers, that stuff?”

Ouroboros motioned behind us to where Torrent stood, now with a folder in his hands, “Torrent will go over that with you on your way out.”

“Why can’t we just talk about it here?”

“I told you. Intrigue. Spy stuff. I have to at least pretend, otherwise the whole game I play with the organizations trying to take me on will fall apart.”

“You just said you were sending a message. Is all that transparent secrecy really that fucking important?”

“Oh, sure, totally. Right now, they’re predictable. They’re playing hide and seek like it matters that they’re trying to keep a secret. As long as I play along, they will keep acting like that. But if I blow the masquerade for them, I don’t know how they’ll react. My house might get stormed by a bunch of Colombians while the Triads or Yakuza sneak in a back window with a shotgun.”

I stood up and stretched my arms and legs a little. “Alright, alright, I’ll play along.

And that’s how I got dragged out of Ouroboros’s casino by security while yelling “I’m really angry now! You hear me?! I’m angry and loud! Next time I see you, I’ll kill you so dead, you’ll need a funeral!”

 

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