From the author: An unlikely superhero facing unlikely villains in an unlikely place...
THE BRAT AND THE BURLY Qs
By David Perlmutter 2577 words
It seemed like the usual scenario: fly in, tell the bad guy he sucks, stomp him up a bit, and “save the day”, as they put it. But there’s always a sort of complication involved before you can go ahead and restore order, and this was a bit more unusual than most.
First, allow me to introduce myself, as it’s likely we’ve never met or spoken before this time, right?
My given name, such as it is, is Precious XY-300. The reason being is that I come from a planet (yes, I’m an alien) where the natives have half their bodies made out of metal on account of our evolution to the climate- you don’t see it on me so much ‘cause I painted my mechanical parts so that they’d look more “human”. I’m here on your Earth, and going under the cover name Precious O’Reilly, on account of some skullduggery in my homeland I’d rather not go into now. Too painful. The point is, I ended up in your solar system, and I now fight crime etc. within it as the Brat. That accounts for the “B” on my shirt, in case you were wondering.
Now, you might also be wondering what a “three year old girl”, blonde haired, blue eyed, wearing a blue wool jacket, white skirt and boots, and the aforementioned shirt, is doing here in a bar unaccompanied, and drinking a beer. Well, let’s get something straight, pal. I’m not a three year old girl! I can pass as one, as you’ll soon see, but, in all other respects, I am an adult. Everyone on my planet is the same, diminutive size as me through youth and adulthood- anyone over 4 feet tall is considered as much of a freak of nature as someone who weighed 400 pounds or more would be amongst you guys. Still, people see me as a little girl and treat me like it. Until I open my mouth or throw a punch at them, that is.
Sorry for the info dump, but it’s necessary to understand the story I’m gonna tell ya. I don’t want the good readers of “Super Heroics Illustrated” getting the wrong idea about me, after all. And it’s a sign of good faith on your part that you can keep that thing going, considering how many of us don’t want to talk to you. But my friends say you’re legit, so I guess I can trust you. Up to a point!
Anyhow, this is what happened on Mars:
I was alerted to the situation by my associates in the Interplanetary League Of Girls With Guns (referring to our collective Herculean musculature, but, in my case, also to my built-in weaponry). The five of us, as soon as we knew of each other’s existence, struck up a gentle-lady’s agreement that we’d each patrol a particular sector of the universe, and wouldn’t interfere with each other’s business unless things got too hot for us to handle alone. (Like it does, once in a while.) Anyway, they told me that that son of a bitch Machine Gun Steinberg had managed to escape from his confinement on Earth, overpowered the nearest set of security guards, and re-established his burlesque business in the ugly imitation French Quarter they set up in New New Orleans, so named as it’s at the extreme southern tip of the newly terraformed Earth colony in the shadow of Olympus Mons.
This rattled my coils. Who do you think was responsible for putting that guy in jail in the first place? Me, that’s who! And thus, by the informal ILGWG rules, I had to put him back there. Not that I minded that!
Steinberg, as you probably know, was the man who single-handedly revolutionized the “art” of “burlesque” (i.e. stupid young humans taking their clothes off) by managing to create pliable mechanical strippers for the first time. Or, I should say, part mechanical. He scurried around human graveyards, finding undecomposed human body parts, and then had them welded together with a variety of mechanical features to make them….interesting enough for the “patrons” of the “art”. Electronic legs, remote controlled boobs, and so on. Naturally, the girls have automatic brains, so that they only do as they’re told all the time. Seeing as no free-thinking real human woman I know would actually get involved with that crap unless they were really desperate for cash.
However, he made money. And aroused the ire of feminists, besides. And, ultimately, I had to step in and destroy his assets before anything apocalyptic happened. ‘Cause he was actually getting women who wanted a mechanical transplant added to their natural bodies coming to him for jobs. Lining up outside his club for work on their own free will. Jeez!
Thus, I found myself flying to Mars. (Yeah, that type of flying, of course. I’m a superhero, after all.) That John Gray fellow was damn right when he said men came from Mars. Imagine Texas, or better yet, your average big city downtown on a Saturday night, and that’s exactly what Mars has become ever since the creation of synthetic water allowed that liquid to flow through those mythical canals and make Ray Bradbury’s dreams a reality. Naturally, you have settlements that resemble the Wild West in the days when it was actually was wild. Like New New Orleans. Ugly as hell, and not the place that even a three year old girl can walk around for fear of having her feminine virtue permanently immolated.
Not that I’m one of those.
I made New New Orleans in good time, and was soon in the ugly imitation French Quarter, with Martian natives coerced into adopting phony Creole and Cajun patois and strutting around like they owned the place. (Two words: em-barrasing!). I was soon able to find Steinberg’s, owing to the giant neon sign displaying both his name and the backside of a giant woman with outlined 3d boobs.
As Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids would say- no class!
I walked to the front door and started to put on my best three year old girl act, with voice and gestures to match, in hopes the bouncer would let me in.
“Is my mommy in there?” I piped up.
The guy apparently couldn’t see me, on account of the fact that he actually started walking around and asking “who said that?” I wasn’t surprised, as, with his gut being so big, he hadn’t seen his own feet for some time. Presumably.
In any event, I repeated my question, in a shriller and more pleadingly desperate tone. That time, he knew I was there and looked at me.
“You want somethin’, lil’ girl?” he asked me, contemptuously.
“I wan’ my mommy!” I said, tears coming to my cheeks.
“She ain’t here!”
”Mommy said wait out here while she takes her clothes off to earn money for her meth….”
“Ain’t none of my concern, kid.”
“An’…..An’……I’m so all alone…..an’ scared….’cause Daddy gonna beat her up if he found she spen’ th’ rent money on meth again….”
“You hard of hearin’, brat? I said she ain’t here!”
Well, that did it! I’m a brat, all right, but only with a capital B, not a small one. I shucked my coat off, hardened my expression, grabbed his ankle by my super-powered mechanical right arm, and made a punching fist with my organic left one.
“Listen, buddy!” I exclaimed in my natural voice. “You might think I’m a brat, but I’m The Brat! You understand? I’m the most powerful three year old in the universe, and I can knock you six ways from Sunday if I take a dis-like to you. Now, your employer is a wanted fugitive from Earth, and I intend to take him back where he belongs. You dig that?”
Having said my peace, I threw the dude over my shoulder, and he ran away from me like the beaten dog he was. There now remained only Steinberg, and I proceeded to enter his establishment to silence him.
I brushed through the informal anterooms and entered the main ballroom chamber of Steinberg’s joint. It was typical Wild West bedlam: half-mechanical girls parading around in next to nothing on the stage and on the exclusively male patrons’ tables, chairs and laps. They, of course, were doing everything possible to encourage the drinking, dancing and stripping done by the girls. I, however, would not.
“STEINBERG!” I screamed, with fists clenched in rage.
Everything went dead silent, and everyone looked at me, like in Western movies when the bad guy walks into the saloon looking for the hero. That’s the way it was, only in this case, the hero came looking for the villain.
I walked over to a table of miscreants, who were drunk, like they usually are.
“Get out,” I drawled humorlessly.
“Come on, man!” one of them said. “We just wanna…”
I gave them no chance to explain. I pressed a few invisible buttons on my mechanical arm. The hand temporarily raised, and a jet of flame burst out and destroyed the chairs they had been sitting at. (They moved to escape it, of course.) Then my hand snapped back into place.
“I SAID ‘GET OUT’!” I thundered.
The men- all of them- got out of the building, leaving only the puzzled looking girls. Then Steinberg entered, having been in the back.
“Jesus Christ,” he shouted. “How many times have I gotta tell ya….”
His blood turned cold, and his words stopped, as soon as he saw me.
“What the hell are you doing here?” he said. “I didn’t think you supes had any authority off of Earth…”
“You poor, dumb, delusional putz!” I shot back. “Don’t you realise I can be anywhere I want, any time I want? And that means I can collar your deluded ass any time I want, too! You disappoint me, Steinberg. My fellow heroes have much more imposing, threatening, masculine foes to deal with, but I have to settle for a third rate Woody Allen impersonator!”
He cursed me violently, up and down, in Yiddish, thinking I didn’t know the language, and, thus, would not know my honour had been insulted. But I did know the language, and fluently at that. This I demonstrated not only repudiating what he had just said about me, but by further compromising his own limited integrity.
“Bah!” he said, switching back to English. “It’s time I was rid of you. Burly Qs!”
At this moment, all of Steinberg’s cyborg automatons came to attention, and stood stiff as soldiers in a line on his left side in front of me.
“Steinberg,” I asked rhetorically, “are you kidding me? You know perfectly well that I….”
“….am stronger and more powerful than any other goyim child of your age in the universe, on account of your alien birth and mechanical “enhancements”, he interrupted me, reproducing my usual intro spiel to opponents (but adding the goyim to spite me.) “Oy! Do I ever know that! But that’s why I had the Avicenna Development Corporation fix this lot up for me- so I could defend myself from you!”
“Avicenna?” I spat on the ground to indicate my contempt for them. “Those hacks? They couldn’t build a decent robot without killing people to do it!”
“You won’t think so once the girls get through with you.”
“I doubt that they have much on them. Just like you.”
“Fine, girlfriend! You asked for it. Burly Qs- attack!”
The girls shed their humanized exteriors to reveal guns, weapons and ammo encased in their hair, eyes, teeth, noses, hands, arms, legs, feet and even their you-know-whats. And, at their master’s command, they proceeded to attack me en masse.
I responded by employing my own weapons to fire at them, though I did so more strategically, dropping, rolling and tucking like my opponents probably did onstage to avoid their weapons, and then staggering them with shots from my arm-gun when I saw a chance. That allowed me to pick a few of them off, and they exploded, inert, into mounds of useless flesh and metal within seconds.
Then, suddenly, the three remaining half-mechanical bitches ganged up on me from behind. One encased me in a powerful bear hug I couldn’t break, another bounced out a mechanical net, which the first one threw me into and tied up above me, and then the third one, while I was trying to open the net at the top, did a Spider-Man with her wrist and shot some piping hot, bubbling grey liquid at my mechanical side. I wasn’t able to move in time, so it covered me all over. Holy shit, did it sting!
“JESUS CHRIST!” I ejaculated, in the midst of my pain.
Now, as I am normally invulnerable to the works of Man, this came as quite a shock to me. I soon reasoned what was going on as I saw my powerful mechanical arm give off sparks, shut down, and go limp, and my bionic right leg go likewise. Steinberg had, likely through his connections, managed to find a store of liquid mercury- the one material in the universe to which natives of my planet are vulnerable- and surreptitiously charged one of his robot-strippers with it to wound me. That he did, and soon as he did, the three of them took advantage of my reduced circumstances and started beating the shit out of me.
While I took their hits, I lamented my fate and beat myself up mentally.
What the hell am I gonna DO? I said to myself. My guns and weapons are GONE. I just got my body and my wits, and that might not be enough.
Yet that stereotypical minute of self-doubt existed for only a couple of seconds. For I suddenly remembered what I did have. A brain. The mightiest weapon of them all. A brain will get you out of things even superpowers can’t, if you use it and nurture it right like I do. Sure, I know that those cyborg types have brains, too, but they’re fake brains, run on electrical impulses rather than natural nerve generators. No substitute.
This I showed them with the still active- and still powerful- left, organic side of my body. Once I had freed myself from their trap, I dislocated their mechanical parts from their organic ones. That being done, I caught Steinberg trying to make his exit out the back door.
“No, you WON’T!” I snapped.
I overtook him, lifted him above my small head, and threw him into one of the now-abandoned tables of the club. He was now both down and out.
I proceeded to give him the same ruminations on the brain I just gave you, as well as more profanity laced ones about how important the metal half of my body is to me, how he was going to personally pay cash money to replace every single part of me the mercury damaged, and how I was going to personally escort him back to Earth- and jail-after that. I particularly emphasised that he should STAY there if he did not want any more trouble.
“You got any PROBLEMS with that?” I concluded.
Oops. My pager. I gotta go, man. Let me know when the story comes out. And, for your sake, it better be flattering!
This story originally appeared in Shoreline of Infinity.
Are the world's mightiest girl superheroes about to let an intergalactic cabal buy and sell Earth under the citizen's noses? Not likely! But it'll be a lot tougher to stop them than they thought....
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