Story Shout-Out: If you haven’t read Salvos yet, you really should! I also recommend posting comments throughout the entire novel, asking the author about when the Salvos vs. Morgan crossover will be.
The trap is set.
I don’t know how WELL the trap is set, but at least it’s there, I guess.
They’ve set a perimeter around one specific restaurant, that famous Ralph’s Lunch which she destroyed a few weeks ago with me right nearby. It was rebuilt hastily and reopened with the full backing of the Atlanta City Council for this super-secret operation, which was to lure Mighty Slammer right back to the place she hopefully can’t resist. The thought is, if she destroyed it once, she’ll surely destroy it again just for kicks.
I’m not so sure about it, though. I know a little bit of something they don’t, and that’s that Mighty Slammer is involved in a massive criminal conspiracy. She’s wrecking restaurants, and she’s getting gold, and she’s connected to the Japanese mob and that mysterious Ohata King guy. I still don’t know any of the details, but clearly everything is connected somehow, and it makes me wonder if a repeat of Ralph’s Lunch won’t be as easy a sell as it looks on first glance.
All the cops here are ready for a battle, because half of them already have their guns drawn and pointed at the conspicuously empty restaurant. I won’t comment on their willingness to resort to deadly force on one single individual who hasn’t directly harmed a single civilian yet. Oh wait, I just did.
Maybe that Crusader guy will show up right in the nick of time again, just like when he saved me from that pathetic beating-up session with that Nami lady, or when he “saved” me from Mighty Slammer the first time and let her get away. Wait, no, I really don’t want him to show up now.
So we wait… and wait… and wait.
An hour passes. The guns go away, and the donuts come out.
The cops chat among themselves and dip into teenager gossip about the workplace and what officer slept with what other officer and all that malarkey. Everyone still pretty much ignores me, because I’m not one of them and I’m just the obligatory techie backup in the likely event things go way wrong. That is, if Mighty Slammer shows up at all.
I’m inclined to believe she won’t.
This entire event was just a waste of time. I got my door busted a little bit, I got woken up with an adult magazine on my face, and I didn’t even get any donuts out of it.
But then again…
Because just when I’ve given up all semblance of hope, I hear the faint sound of rocket boots to my rear.
Now, I’m currently hiding in some random business across the street with a few officers who have given up on staking out the place and have moved to playing cards. But I have my face poked out the front window as much as possible so I can see the event when it inevitably happens.
The rockets grow louder and closer, louder and closer.
And then wham! Mighty Slammer lands on the road in front of Ralph’s Lunch, cracking the pavement. She takes a look around to make sure no one is around (an entire police squad is around, but she doesn’t notice), and then when the coast is clear, she charges straight into the restaurant.
She starts going absolutely ham on the interior. All the tables, the brand-new counter, everything busted to pieces as the woman unleashes her full fury on this Vietnamese-American fusion diner that did nothing wrong but put a really tacky “What the Pho?!” sign by one of the walls. She shoots an arm cannon laser and blows that sign clear into oblivion.
My heroing instincts automatically go to “I really need to save this place,” even though I know it was specifically rebuilt just to create this scenario. My spidey senses are tingling, even though I’m not supposed to act on it!
I look around at the other people in this building, who are only just now reacting to the crashing and exploding sounds and getting up from their game of cards. I want to think that the other police in the perimeter around the restaurant are better off, but… Yeah, I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who even realizes Mighty Slammer is already here.
Sigh. Before any of this goes terribly and we end up in another one of those comically overdone chases, I decide to just get on with it. I rush out of the business and straight for Ralph’s Lunch.
Mighty Slammer, for her part, notices me the second I enter the restaurant. She stops her pummeling of some poor barstool and glares right at me.
“Spider-Man!” she growls.
“Wait, sorry, I got fiction mixed up with reality,” she says. “I’ve met so many weirdos lately that it’s hard separating which heroes are from bad 90s movies and which ones are from my actual memories.”
“First off, don’t get me started on that wretched James Cameron Spider-Man movie because then we’ll be here all day,” I say. “But putting that aside, I’m offended you think I look like a superhero whatsoever. What the hell makes me look different than any normal person?”
“Your hair is weird?”
“It is not! My hair—“ I look up and realize that, indeed, my hair is pretty messy on account of no shower this morning. The damn police ruined everything for me. “Whatever. I’m here to stop you, Mighty Slammer, because you’ve destroyed too much stuff and you must pay for it.”
“I’m definitely never paying for anything that I have destroyed, because that breaks the Law of Conservation of Matter, more than anything. I’m just a force of entropy that is contributing the best I can to the eventual heat death of the universe.”
“I am almost certain someone has made this awful joke before, and you’re just copying off them.”
“Nuh-uh! You’re the copier!” she whines like a tall, muscular child with deadly weapons. “All my quips are purely original.”
“Mine too,” I say. “I’m also one of the most original quippers to ever quip. We’re two peas in a soup.”
“Why does your soup only have two peas in it?” she asks. “Are they even supposed to be in there, or was it an accident?”
“Well, I’m assuming that there’s more peas in the soup than just us two, but we’re in the same soup is what it’s supposed to mean.”
“What is the soup a metaphor for again?”
“Wait, none of this has anything to do with the matter at hand at all,” I say. “I’m supposed to fight you in a really impressive fight and show off my immense skills as I whoop your ass even when I don’t have any tech at my disposal.”
“Pffft. Like that will ever happen.”
“Don’t underestimate the power of Morgan Harding, the one who defeated the mighty Dial-Up Demon!”
“Wow, you really don’t watch the news.”
“Yeah, last time we met I told you exactly that,” she says. “I’m surprised you don’t remember.”
“You couldn’t remember if I was Spider-Man or not, and yet you remember one offhand reference in our famously meandering and terrible conversation from several weeks ago?”
“I said I mix up fiction and reality sometimes, not that I have a bad memory. I’m very personable with people.” She raises her fist and points it at me. “Anyways, I was being… SARCASTIC!”
Mighty Slammer performs her namesake on my chest and I go spiraling around the diner until I crash into a pile of overturned tables.
“It’s gonna take a lot more than that to… Ow… To deal with me,” I mutter.
“Bahahahahaha.” She walks over to me and puts her hands on her hips. “You must think I’m stupid. I know you’ve been stalling for time this whole while waiting for back-up to arrive.”
“Of course. You’re waiting on that guy in the Magitek suit to show up and save the day, just like last time.” She’s stupid. “And you know what? I’m going to pummel you into the hospital.”
“That sentence seems a little wrong.”
“Wait, I didn’t finish. I’m going to pummel you into the hospital, and by that I mean I’m going to punch you with such power and precision that you fly to the nearest hospital, crash through the roof, and land right in an empty bed. You’ll be dead, though, because that would be highly unrealistic if you lived through that all.”
“I need to work on that one, don’t I?” she asks.
“A little bit, yeah… Maybe go to a comedy workshop after this.”
“Or I can just hire someone to write my jokes for me because I’ll be that rich. Bahahahahaha!”
I hop to my feet and begin another verbal gambit. “How can you do that if you’re going to jail, Beth McWhorter?”
“…How do you know my name?”
“It’s written all over you,” I say. “I’m a bit of a sleuth, and I did some digging around. It didn’t take too much before I found out the truth.” AKA, it was all there on your public Netnect profile, dumbass. “I know about your tragic family background. I know you’re committing all these crimes just to take out your rage on a system that allowed you to lose your parents the way you did.”
“None of that is true! I’m committing all these crimes because I like fun and money!”
I shake my head slowly. “I don’t believe you at all.”
“It’s… It’s true!”
“Why don’t you take that helmet off and show me the real you, then?” I ask.
And for some inexplicable reason, she does. She drops the helmet on the floor and stares at me, angrily sobbing. “Don’t you DARE talk about my parents like you knew them. They were both assholes! I would never rage against any system to avenge them!”
“And my Dad is still alive, he’s just touring all the time and I never get to see him!”
“You know, I have someone like that too,” I tell her. “Touring the world, leaving you behind… It’s a tough life. I’m filled with regret and jealousy all the time about it.”
“Yep. Maybe we shouldn’t fight all the time. Maybe we’d be better off teaming up as a force for good.”
“Nah. I like crime too much for that.”
“You LIKED crime too much for that,” I correct.
“What do you mean?”
I motion for her to look around us, and she finally sees it:
Despite the excruciatingly long time it took to mobilize, the police force finally sprung its trap and have dozens of weapons aimed right at Mighty Slammer. And me, but I’m trying not to think about that right now.
“You’re under arrest,” a police woman shouts.
She raises her hands into the air and lets herself be taken away.
Right then, Chief Baranowsky emerges into view and follows Mighty Slammer to the police car. “Finally! I got my win!” he exclaims. “I captured a full-fledged Cybermancer!”
That’s… implausible, to say the least????
“I’m a Cybermancer?” she asks. “News to me.”
Everyone clears out so quickly that I think they’ve forgotten I was even here. Awesome, I get zero credit and not even a ride home.
I’m not too upset about it, though. Because guess what, they didn’t take the helmet that I convinced her to drop.
R8PR’s gonna love this one.
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