“So...” he says as he clears some kind of lingering mucus from his throat I don't even want to think about- and I know he's about to try to get under my casing because I'm up pretty well in this hand and the doubler's been rolling hot this evening. Which is to say I might actually come out ahead from one of these card game nights. But he's been saving up this comment all night- his one stupid little dragonfly wing buzzing and twitching from excitement. It creates an ultra-high frequency than somehow the dog across from me doesn't ever hear, but manages to interfere with my pre-set emotional channels. I keep getting hungry which isn't something I can actually deal with.
“So...” The Assemblymantis repeats to make sure he has the attention of the whole table. Which he does, since it is his play and we can't do anything until he actually lays some freaking cards down. “I'm surprised you're here tonight, Robot ZZZZZZZero...I saw your team on the news just before I left to come over.”
And here it comes.
“I'd already penciled in my time off...”
“Really?” breaks in Pull-Yourself-Together Man. “Jeez...if I could get on a team, I'd be out there fighting the good fight, I mean they're doing something important...something real...” And he looks of wistfully in the distance even as I hear one of his legs drop off and bang against the floor. He's earnest, which might be more irritating that Assemblymantis' wing drone. It helps that I call him Putem for short.
“Tell them what your team's doing, ZZZZZZZero.” I look bug boy in what passes for a face. He's a composite alien, built from several different alien species, but not necessarily the useful parts. Some kind of cosmic intelligence cut and pasted an experiment together. Multron's the better known result, with the spectacular natural talents of each of the seven races, including humanity's cunning. I won't tell you what human part Assemblymantis got, but using it to fight crime might generate a whole level of Rule 34 I don't want to think about.
And Putem's looking to me for an answer, so I tell him.“They're busting up Occupy Peoria. Yes Man hopes Oakland will give us a call after that. It's an audition...”
Assemblymantis lunges at the chance. “Not sure that's going to happen. Chrysalis Archer got in the middle and someone grabbed the quiver off his back. Then all hell broke loose. Someone hit Cyber-tron with a water balloon and Kim Reaper went nuts...”
“So all hell, literally...” This is going to be a mess.
“Ya'll know what I think...” comes the deep southern drawl across from me and all of us groan.
Wrathwolf, the talking dog, who's just to the right of Super-Patriot on the political spectrum. He's got an American flag bandana for a costume and a jaw full of razor sharp teeth and jingoism. Sometimes we actually manage to stay away from politics on these nights...not often, in fact, once...and that was because of an accident with some aerogel. Of course when I say accident, I'm distorting things slightly.
“Hippie-Kibble. Round 'em up and throw up in the ocean and let them swim back to Uzbekasocialistan or wherever they want to feed off other people's labor and effort. Get a job and shut up you ungrateful whiners. You should thank god you live in a country that's going to be back in the right hands in 2012 and ready to fight once more against the Islamo-Marxist menace sneaking across our borders. Damn right they should clear them out- I just wish they'dve used right two-fisted justice instead of godless magic...bust them back to their stupid sand...”
The mummy coming back in from the kitchen brings Wrathwolf's foaming diatribe to a halt. His lumbering form fills the doorway.
“No offense, shiek...” Wrathwolf mutters and noses down at his cards.
Viking Mummy comes back and sits down with his reheated pizza, a little confused. He salts his slice and looks over at me. “I miss something, no?” he says, his thick accent muffled by bandages and helmet. I've to explain to Wrathwolf that Viking Mummy comes from Norway, but he doesn't get it. And mummies aren't even...ugh. My processor reboots slightly.
And I look down at my hand and realize that I've just purged the game-state. I have no idea what card to play.
“I hate this game.” I say to no one in particular.
Which I do...I really do. We could have simply gone with something like Poker- then I could have downloaded an app and be able to keep up with everyone. Instead we played Cubit Red Nine, a game Assemblymantis claims comes from the Bonsuphrax people, a race of calculational telepaths. Mind you, Assemblymantis's only one-seventh Bonsuphrax and that's his left leg. I suspect he'd made it up instead. The rules seemed remarkably flexible owing to the “transtemporal probability bug” built into the cards themselves. That handles the shuffling and every once in a while declares that everyone's lost- at which point the pot vanishes.
But Cubit has a couple of advantages, beyond being difficult to cheat at with powers. For one thing, the cards are made of a difficult to destroy metal. Some of them chew on them...I'm not naming names. For another, they can levitate, which make it playable by some of our less handy members.
Yes, I make that joke every single time.
We're effectively a card game and support group for artificial supers or those sufficiently marginal to be lower than C-List. Wrathwolf had perhaps the most prominent of us (besides me), having briefly being in one of the big league super teams. Then he went off on a Tea Party rant and bit a single mother on welfare. He'd then been summarily rejected by the League of Super Pets because he could actually talk. Pull Yourself Together Man was an animated doll, Viking Mummy was a mummy, and Assemblymantis was a dick who was clearly about to run the table on this hand.
We would see about that.