Alcoholic Anthologies from the Club Invertebrate #2

Pincer Penny's a Penny Pincher

Picture if you will, our heroine with the oversized pincers for hands, dressed for action and leading her Triumvirate of Tribulation, the other two being of course the Infernal Machine and the Devil-blasted Man, into combat with several heavily armed thugs dressed in black leather - though each has some sort of patriotic emblem on their costume; a flaggy bandana, or belt buckle, or pin, or whatever.

Either way, everyone looks out for blood - and lots of it!

(That should do for a 'cover', shouldn't it?)

Notice: for those of you that are faint of heart, the following tale is not at all G-rated.

It may include foul language, excessive violence, sexual innuendo, and other things that would get this story burned, were it in a printed form, by the more fanatical elements of every religion on earth. In other words, if these things offend you, you may want to stop reading now.

(That should do for a 'disclaimer', shouldn't it?)

***

So me and the boys, we actually started out here in the Club on this caper, our contact having wanted to meet somewhere 'neutral'; little did she know that this is where the Triumvirate of Tribulation likes to hang out in our down time. Of course we weren't about to tell her that, 'cause she likes to think she's on top of things all the time and raining on her parade wouldn't serve any purpose. Other than to sour her on other contracts down the line, that is.

So I had the Devil-blasted Man and the Infernal Machine just sort of hang out at the next bar while I talked it out with Ultra. Me and her, we've got a history and it's not really all that good. She's all big on 'mutant pride' and blahblah and naturally I think most mutants should be given a nice long dirt nap - something about suddenly gaining powers out of the blue makes the vast majority of them want to take out all their aggression on normal people.

Myself excluded, of course. I didn't want to be a mutant and I sure as heck wasn't about to inflict myself on normal people if I can help it. That's why I do what I do - the less sociopathic nutjobs with broken genetics that are running around and tearing the place up, the better. And since nobody else seems to want to crash the party - and since regular people don't seem to recognize the threat that's sitting right on their back - well, I'm more'n happy to pick up the slack.

A big fat payoff to do so doesn't hurt either.

So anyway, Ultra looks at me and frowns, knowing that I've killed my fair share of twisted gene freaks in my time, but her whole survival of the fittest garbage keeps her from saying anything. I mean, I'm still here and my targets aren't, so maybe I'm tough enough to put her down, too. And I would if the opportunity came up, but I know for a fact she's got at least three of her cronies here, itching for the chance to take out their frustrations on me.

"So Penny, the target you're after, he should be a relatively simple case. We tried to recruit him a while back but he said no, so I was hoping you could kick his head in some. Kill him if you want, but if you don't we'll be there to pick up the pieces. We will be either way really, 'cause this one personally crossed me, and I'd like to put his head on a pike as an example to the others. The Mutant Legion will conquer the world, and people trifle with us at their peril!"

I just blinked at Ultra as she went on with her over-rehearsed mutant supremacy silliness, usually expecting at least a bit of pomposity from the energy-flinging mutant, though this was over the top even for her.

"Ri-iiight. So this Six-fingered Tommy riled you up that bad, huh? Well, we'll track him down and see what we can do with him. Naturally, the usual fees will apply, plus the 25% extra WHEN we find out that there was something you weren't telling us, payable half up front, half upon delivery." I then waited, watching Ultra frown at my lack of being impressed at her monologue. She then produced a whole lot of cash out of a duffel bag.

"Very well, species traitor. Here's your thirty silver coins. Now snap to it; if my intelligence is correct, he should be nearby."

That gave me a good laugh. "Ooh, a HUMAN religious reference, how homo-sapiens of you." Naturally, I grabbed the money and handed it off to the Infernal Machine, who dropped it off back home on Planet T; it's handy having a giant robot thug on hand who can blip between dimensions at will.

When Ultra left, the Devil-blasted Man shrugged at me. He's good at it too, the dirty sulker; the guy can grumble with the best of them. "I don't like her, Penny, she's going to turn on us one of these days - the instant it becomes convenient."

"I know, Man, but the money's too good to be true, and we need as much earth currency as we can get our hands on. You know, for when we decide to take THEM apart."

The Devil-blasted Man nodded, though he wasn't happy about it. "Yeah yeah yeah, I guess. I just don't like her; I know a back-stabbing turn-coat when I see one is all..."

I simply nodded back. Sure the Devil-blasted Man was paranoid and judgmental, but he rarely made bad calls. I guess I'd be pretty good at spotting Evil if I'd spent almost a century in the 'care' of demons who thought hacking me up for fun was a great way to pass the time. But a job's a job, and so as soon as the Machine got back from Planet T, we were off, having already found a lead or two that should point us in the right direction.

***

Of course, the problem working in Omaha is that everything stands out if it isn't boring. We had to steal a hearse and drive it up to the target building because frankly, none of us blend in at all. At ALL. We pulled up with it in front of the lobby of the Pastordyne building, and nobody seemed to bat an eye; it makes me wonder just how many corpses are coming out of this place on a regular basis. At least with it being dark, nobody will realize we're us until it's too late.

Knocking on the door, I got no response, so I just smashed my way in; this got the security guys running. I let the Devil-blasted Man take out some pent-up hate on them; rent-a-cops are always good for that after all. The Machine just walked behind me like a puppy as I claimed the lobby for my own, as he always does. Sometimes he gets in the way while we're in a fight, but I almost have him trained to stay behind me. Almost

I stopped thinking about the Machine when the sound of security guards being pulped ceased. Looking back at the Man, I saw he was looking up intently, so I asked him what was going on.

"What?"

He scowled of course, like he always does when he has the impression something wrong is about to happen. "We need to move, there's something wrong going on here."

Knowing enough to know that when the Man doesn't want to fight something, something ought to be avoided, I had us make for the stairs. Just as the stairwell door closed, we heard the elevator bell. As the others cranked it up the steps, I looked through the tiny window on the door to see them. They weren't locals, that for sure. Unless they grow weird hooded priests nine feet tall. One of them was brandishing a cross and another a burning censer.

I had a bad bad feeling.

The giant with the censer started walking towards the stairs when his fellow started talking to someone that I couldn't see. Headset, maybe? No idea, but he shooed the other fellow off of me and they ran back into the elevator, as if they had a much more important party to attend. Scrambling up the stairs, I met the Tribulation as they rested on the twentieth floor landing, waiting for me. Not missing a beat, they jumped up as I smashed my way through the door there.

"We've got company, boys - lots of company!"

Both of them flared up, each having their own fire generating powers, which kind of made me a bit envious. I mean, all nature gave ME was these stupid pincers. Just then, three goons rounded the corner and looked us up and down, and at the exact same time I did, they said "Oh, Hell!"

They pulled guns on us, but they didn't look like your standard security guys, no, these folks were... different. One was wearing a black leather jacket over a tank top, blue jeans, big ol' hob nailed boots and a white and blue 'star' belt buckle. Another, she was wearing Spandex ™ pants and a Spandex ™ tank top under a brown leather jacket with an airbrushed flag on it, and had her hair pulled up in a 'stars and stripes' bandana. But the third guy, oh ho.

He was a Prize - and their target. He was wearing bright blue Spandex ™ shorts, a white Spandex ™ shirt under a blue leather jacket, red leather belts and boots, and a blue, 1980s style visor. He was Six-fingered Tommy, and he wasn't joking around with that name; no, you could tell he was Six-fingered Tommy because he had six fingers. And special blasters that were fitted exactly for someone with an extra digit on each hand. Blasters he was pointing at us, in fact.

"You guys, freeze!"

Smirking, I couldn't help myself. "This bunch? Not likely. In fact..."

My boys then shot searing hot flames at the leather and Spandex ™ perverts, as they tend to do when someone is silly enough to threaten me. And they should, too, because nobody should be going around and pointing guns at me. Jumping for cover, the trio tried to start pulling themselves together, and I heard one of them screaming orders out. Couldn't be Tommy, he looked like he was only twenty or something; had to be the old guy NOT wearing Spandex ™.

"Time Out, put 'em to sleep!"

I didn't like the sound of that, so I smashed my way into what looked like a closet or something, looking for weapons, when the girl hopped back out from her cover, and did... something. All I know is I heard the Man drop down and start snoring, and he snores loud, lemme tell you. Hopping back out, I clocked her upside the head with my namesake, and gave her a little nap too. Naturally, the old man freaked out at this, and went ballistic.

"Janet!" He then flipped out and jumped at me with a knife, stabbing me in the shoulder. Naturally this ticked me off, but not so much so as the Infernal Machine. I saw steam shooting out the back of his head, and I knew this guy was in trouble.

"PENNY!"

The machine then picked the old man up and, before he could react, pitched him out a window! Seeing his pal go soaring, Six-fingered Tommy tried to follow, as if he could fly or something - at least, until I caught him with my blunt pincer. He smacked hard into the floor, face first, and started cursing at me, at least for a few seconds. When he started staring at the space behind me in horror, I thought it was a trick at first, but then the Machine did, too.

Turning around, I pulled that bozo's knife out of my shoulder and faced down the two giant, robed priest guys.

"Director Blue was right!" Tommy piped up as the knife started glowing before me. "They're some kind of demon-things!"

Demon things! Knowing that the Devil-blasted Man would HATE me if if I let him miss THIS party, I kicked him upside the head to wake him up. This caused a few seconds of grumbling of course, but he shut up as soon as he saw Them. They took that opportunity to jump us, and the Man lunged at one even as I did. For some reason I used the knife instead of my pincer, 'cause it was glowing and that told me I was on the right track with it, and sure enough, I was!

The one I stabbed exploded in white light once I poked him, while the Man actually ATE THE SOUL of the other one, causing it to fall down to the ground, incredibly dead. He has a habit of eating them bodily in situations like this, but we simply didn't have time for that, no matter how fast he could shovel them things down his throat. I lifted Tommy up off the ground, intent on menacing him with his friend's dagger, but the kid pulled two guns out of nowhere (literally) and pointed 'em at me!

"I shoot you!"

"I stab you!"

At this convenient point, we all heard someone clapping. A slow, deliberate clapping sound, which caused us all to look around, at least until we saw Them. They were, of course, Ultra and her Mutant Legion cronies. It was my turn to scowl now, 'cause I really hated her, and I suddenly didn't want to turn anyone over to her, even if he was a mutant freak.

"Resorting to mercenaries now, Ultra? I told you and your clowns I didn't want to join your freak party - I'm doing good work with the Direct Action Americans now. Helping everyone, not just mutants!"

I had to stop at that, since I didn't know that Six-fingered Tommy was actually one of the good guys. If I had, I wouldn't have taken this contract in the first place. He was kind of like me, except somewhat less deformed I guess. I dropped him onto the floor.

"I don't care what you wanted, you said no to us, you useless clod. Even if you have no useful powers, Fascisma wanted to sign you on, and you spit in our faces. She may be willing to leave you to your own devices, but I'm not. People won't take the Legion seriously if we just let people mock us to our faces. And I -"

I couldn't just let her ramble on and on and on, 'cause you know, I have places to be, things to do, all that jazz. And I wanted our cash for a job well done. So you know...

"Ahem."

Twitching as her train of thought was derailed, Ultra turned on me, super angry - you know, enough to threaten me by flaring up with the invisible, eye-stabbing ultra-violet power she gives off.

"Don't interrupt me, Judas. We'll pay you when we're good and ready. Now, where was I...?"

And that, as you could say, was the last straw. I'll put up with her attitude and her crummy manners, but nobody - NOBODY - defaults on payment to the Triumvirate of Tribulation. I walked over to Time Out and kicked her in the shin, enough to wake her up.

"Boys - seems we have a deadbeat here who's unwilling to pay. And what do we do when someone refuses to pay the Triumvirate?"

The boys then flared up again, and I knew it was hurting the Man to do so but he was more than happy to hurt himself if it let him do some damage to Ultra. She took the opportunity to fire a blast of her power at me, but even though I couldn't see the energy she was flinging at me, I could guess where she was pointing, and made sure I wasn't there when her hair stuck up; it was a sort of 'tell' that she was going to give off the UV.

Her thugs tried to take on the Tribulation, with some speedster in a Speedo ™ punching the poor Machine up at supersonic speeds while another guy hit the Man with a cold ray that really ruined up his afternoon, but that Time Out girl got to work, and zapped them with her sleepy power. When her goons fell to the ground like cold meat slabs, Ultra freaked out, but took a shot in the back from Six-fingered Tommy before she could do any more damage.

He kicked her in the butt a few seconds after she dropped, and then chuckled. And then looked at me, kind of funny-like.

"Why'd you turn on Ultra? She probably would've paid you later, I imagine."

What could I say, this one hit too close to home.

"I just hunt the bad mutants, kid... and you seem to be trying to do something good with your stuff - something Ultra failed to mention. Er... sorry about your friend, by the way..."

Tommy chuckled at that one. "S'ok, he heals fast, we'll go scrape him up off the pavement and carry him home. But he'll want his knife back..."

Shrugging, I pincered the blade over and let the two Spandex ™ freaks get out of town, while I had the Infernal Machine do the same with us. Though I couldn't help but wonder what was up with those weird, super-tall demon priest-guys here at Pastordyne...

***

"Giant. Demon. Priests."

"Totally. Barkeep! Moar beer. MO-AR."

Morris grinned as he slid up to Penny, dropping a beer on her and her friend, and not charging for either; he was glad to hear that she didn't do any damage to Tommy; that guy was good people, after all.

But her incredulous friend shook his head. "You mean you gave up one hundred thousand dollars - plus a 'surprise fee' out of the goodness of your heart? Did your 'giant demon priests' convince you to see the Light?"

She then assumed a pose that seemed to indicate that, had she normal hands, she'd be flipping him off with both. "No, jerkoff, when I say I want my money, that means I want my money NOW. Besides, Ultra's a rag."

"I thought you didn't like her either, 'Mister Matter'."

Mister Matter nodded. "You got that right. People like us, we should only get good contracts; it's too bad we occasionally get head cases like her, huh?"

The two then nodded solemnly and drank heavily.

***

One good tale deserves another, and Mister Matter has a whole lot of stories to go around. You see, he's a mutant with the power to transmute the elements - and uses his powers as a professional to build bases and provide unique components to people in need, whether they be working for the greater good or not. Naturally, the fellow has met an astounding variety of weirdos in his time, and he's more than happy to tell Penny about one - at least, thirty days from now!

(That should do for a 'preview', shouldn't it?)

***

Alcoholic Anthologies from the Club Invertebrate #2: Pincer Penny's a Penny Pincher
© 2009, 2012 Denny Hill 2, All rights reserved and so forth.

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