Torture among supervillains is usually a very violent affair, as my interaction with Holdout shows. There are a couple of reasons for this. One reason is that, like most people, some villains think that physical torture is effective. Anyone with sufficient knowledge of the human mind can tell you that isn’t the case. A person can trick themselves into thinking you’re bluffing right up until you hack off a finger. Then they get to do it all over again about the next finger and soon enough they’re out of phalanges.
Oh, and another reason why it doesn’t work is that the defensive side of an engagement comes across as more heroic. They were just minding their own business when someone attacked them. They didn’t want any trouble. They’re locked in a cell somewhere doing nothing to deserve a guard coming in with a popsicle dildo to add some grape flavor to your asshole. It’s not like they can reciprocate in kind, so it’s a pretty blatant abuse of power by someone. You can abuse your power to get away with all kinds of stuff. You can threaten to fire a woman unless she sleeps with you. You can hint that a man will only get a promotion if his politics agrees with yours. You could give tax breaks to your religion automatically while forcing other groups to apply and meet standards. People will put up with a lot of shit as long as it isn’t physical
Plus, if they know you’re only hurting them for fun, like most in my line of work would do, then they know that you won’t stop no matter what they say.
And people will say anything if the alternative is dumping them into a vat of piping hot sweet potatoes and marshmallows. If you’re in it for information, you’d then have to try and verify what they said, which gives them more time.
No, no, no.
The way you get information from someone is psychological. You play on their fears, you threaten what they value, or you break them down psychologically so that they are no longer the hero in their own mind. That is how you get intelligence.
But I still like to have fun in the process. Hence why I oiled myself up, sprayed on some body glitter, put on a bright yellow thong, and slipped into some ballet slippers. After 16 straight hours…well, not exactly straight…of creatively imagining famous theater to loud RuPaul music, he cracked. It was good timing, actually. I was on the table in front of him, bouncing my sack off his head.
“That concludes my one-man dramatization of ‘Waiting for Godot’. Now I will begin my special holiday presentation of a little play I like to call ‘The Nutcracker’.” I twirled around, raising one leg straight out over the prisoner’s head as I rotated around to give him a slap in the nose. “Look, no hands!”
“I can’t take it any more! I’ll tell you anything you want to know! Stop it, stop it, for the love of God, stop it!” he screamed through tears and the bruises that dotted his face.
I kicked his chair back from the table and hopped down onto his lap, putting my arms around him. “For Christmas this year, I want to know who sent you. And a pony. A pony with a Utahraptor’s head on it, and flaming horseshoes, and a scythe for a tail that whips around like a scorpion.”
“I’m just a union man, okay? Countess Clockwork hired us after the clunkers she had moving some baby failed to report in. She wanted someone nearby to help coordinate them. Clockwork robots are dumb as a box of rocks.”
“What’s so special about the kid?”
“I don’t know.”
“All this talk is boring me. I feel like dancing.”
“I swear I don’t know! Some guy asked and she fed him to her octopus.”
“She’s got a man-eating octopus?”
“No. It choked on the guy, but the rest of us got the message. No asking about the baby.”
“Alright, little fry. Tell me where I find the big potato?”
“We’re based in the amphitheater at Abney Park.”
Abney Park. I should have known. Never has there ever been such a pit of scum and Earl Grey tea as Abney Park. It’s a small park that’s a favorite hangout of steampunk fans during the day and prostitute fans after dark.
“A steampunk villain hiding in Abney Park…it’s so stupid it’s brilliant! I should have thought of that, actually.” I really should have. It’s what I would have done. Then again, I’d have a robotic killer octopus, and this person, this Countess Clockwork, she only had a flesh and blood one capable of choking. Stick that in your windpipe and be unable to dislodge it!
“Why thank you, nameless enemy minion. You will be greatly rewarded for this.”
“Just let me go, please, and shut off that music!”
“You’re right. That is getting repetitive and annoying.” I pushed a button on the radio, switching it to a station playing nothing but Christmas music.
The poor guy started wailing and crying some more.
I left the room and found Carl waiting with a sandwich, trying to avoid looking anywhere near me. I tried to pick it up, but the damn thing slipped out of my oily hands and tried to come apart. “Dammit, so hard to hold on to my meat like this. Uh, and the mayo just shot out and got everywhere. I’m going to have to wash this thong, you know?”
Carl didn’t say a thing, just kept on looking up at the ceiling.
“Well, anyway, we can leave him behind. Maybe stop by the animal shelter, feed him to the kittens later, I don’t know. Before that, there’s the matter of handling the person who has been after our little Matatoa…how’s his teething, by the way?”
“I put the Twix bar in the refrigerator like you said, but he still chewed through it.”
“Damn, that boy’s got some chompers on him. Maybe I can replace his jaw so he can unhinge it…”
“No! Bad boss!” Carl exclaimed as he pulled out a spray bottle and squirted cold water on me.
“Mwahaha! You have failed miserably Carl. You have forgotten that oil and water don’t mix. I am immune to your attempts to prevent my cyberization of Mat, for I am an oily god! May your salads quake with fear. Now, it’s time to celebrate a little Christmas Eve-l”
So after a short time to gather some common household ingredients that are usually perfectly harmless, we set out for Abney Park in the van that Carl built. “The old battle wagon,” I called it. Carl disapproved.
“Bertha the Battle Wagon.”
“Big, fat, ugly, bug-faced, baby-eating Bertha.”
“I prefer my name for it. Now, let’s be off.”
I was not in my armor. Alas, it was not yet complete. Besides, I was still oily and I didn’t want to try and clean all that crap out of the torso armor and helmet. It’s ok. I had my crew backing me up. Carl, my personal thug with his mini-revolver and bladed knuckle glove. Moai, the Beast from the East-er Island. The statue that’ll whack you. And Matatoa Bobby Doomgex, the boy we’re all protecting. Taking him to the lair of the person trying to get him may not seem like protection, but the other factor was Spider. A gentleman in clothes from the same time as these Victorian Era steam punks, or so he seems. I know from personal experience that the appearance is a lie. He’s appropriately named, though, and a dangerous opponent. For some reason, he’s tried for Matatoa, so coming with us into a fight is safer than hiring a babysitter.
It was mostly a pleasant little trip with the heater working on full power. We did have to worry about some dogs running out after cars, but I took care of that. Hey, if their owners really cared, they wouldn’t let them run out into the streets, now would they? I just wish the van’s doors weren’t so high as to preclude smacking the little shits with the doors. They can make other people crash all they want, but I hold my transit to a higher standard. A double standard.
The park was easy to find, as was the amphitheater. So was the rear loading ramp, a relic from when someone thought it might be used as something other than a hard surface to lay some pipe.
Carl didn’t even need to ask how we wanted to make an entrance. I reached over to Mat, who was in the back with me, and ruffled his hair. “Now you hold onto that bottle, alrighty?”
He giggled and once again tried to lift the gallon bottle that used to hold bleach back before I started mixing stuff up. Now, it was considerably more dangerous.
Carl gunned it. I held my bottle between my legs and put my hands up as we sped down the ramp, hit the twin doors, and smashed through. Carl joined me as we ran out of road and smashed into the edge of something. We fell.
I couldn’t help laughing even as the others screamed in terror. It was a thought. Comparing my traps to this, I thought, “Kudos on the pit trap.”
It wasn’t much of a pit, though, as we soon smacked down on some sort of platform. Then I realized we were rising. I opened the door and knocked a clunker away in the process. It was an elevator of sorts, with a contingent of clunkers smashed beneath the van and letting out loud grinding. Actually, it wasn’t just the clunkers. The grinding came from the elevator as well. Then it stopped. Then it began to fall, albeit in a much more controlled manner.
It dropped us smack dab in the middle of an underground lair. There were many more clunkers interspersed with the occasional lieutenant standing at attention facing a platform backed by a large water tank. On the platform was a woman in a regal, floofy Victorian dress showing clear signs of corseting, and a clunker with especially large shoulders holding a staff topped with two gears marched along inside a ring and a third small cog between the two. Huge, inefficient computers flanked the elevator on two sides. We’re talking card punchers. Coiled wires along the ceiling provided light over brick floors and walls covered in levers and rotating sprockets.
Just one of these bombs, as long as the blast wasn’t blocked, ought to do a good job of wrecking the place.
Everyone was quiet and still for a few seconds. They were shocked by our sudden arrival. We were recovering from the fall. I broke the silence by stepping out of the van and holding aloft the homemade bomb I had with me and dragging along an uncooperative pooch that didn’t want to leave our van well enough alone. “’Scuse me, but did somebody order a pain and pwnage pizza? We promise your asses handed to you in thirty minutes or less.”
“How dare you?! Who dares to invade my headquarters?!” boomed the woman in the dress, almost certainly Countess Clockwork.
“It is I, Psycho Gecko, savior of Christmas, temporary Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, Crosser of Dimensional Boundaries, Slayer of Space Marines, the Sixgun Killer, Ender of Long’s Life, the Reality TV Star Destroyer, the Scar of Venus’s beauty, Terror of Yabloo City, the Paradise City Pandemic, the Molester of Marscow Prison, Liberty’s Reaper, Shieldwall’s Breaker, and the current protector of that little baby you’re after. I hope to someday add ‘Mayor of a Little Town up the Coast’ to that list someday, but I have my doubts.”
The clunkers started to march toward me, but the Countess stopped them. “Halt! For his transgressions against our cause and the invasion of my sanctum, he will face a greater fate.” As she spoke, something made of glinting metal rose from the water behind her. “Steamtopus, attack!”
The copper tentacles gleamed in the lights of the underground lair, and there were more than just eight of them. A massive plume of steam rose from the water, which retreated, presumably into the towering robotic octopus that rose in the middle of those tentacles. It settled the big bulbous head back and exposed its mouth. A beak, with saw blades whirring behind it, snapped at me, then steam shot out from it.
I raised the terrier in my hand toward the steamtopus in a challenge. “A robotic bastardization of nature, eh? Why don’t you come down here and fight me like a-“ And that’s when it raised me up in the tentacle it wrapped around me with surprising swiftness. I have to give her credit for that one. This thing was much quicker than the clunkers.
“Yes, my pet. Crush his bones with your steam powered might.”
The steamtopus tried to comply and there wasn’t a whole lot I could do with my arms against my sides. Except let go of the bomb, of course. Heat was a better way to set it off, but a sufficient bump like that might have done it. I didn’t get the chance, though, as I shot out of the steamptopus’s grasp and into the air. Another tentacle tried to grasp me, but it squeezed too hard and I slipped out of it as well. Another got me by the leg momentarily, but I fell right out onto the body of the steamtopus right near its mouth.
I laughed. I’d figured out why it couldn’t get a grip by then.
“Suck on this, cephalopod.” I tossed the homemade explosive into its beak and jumped off to run for it. Steam shot from its beak again, but this time it took the bomb with it. It tripped me as I tried to flee, and that actually helped me as it blew. Contained in its body as it was, the blast didn’t effect quite as much of the area around it, but it did throw bits and pieces out. Most of the clunkers went down. One of the punch card computers shattered to pieces as something crashed through it. A piece of its debris actually propped up the computer that had been closer to the blast, which had merely started to tip as the shrapnel passed completely through, then turned and done much more damage to the second computer. As for the steamtopus, it was no more. It had ceased to be.
I stood up and threw my hands to the sky, ignoring the yipping canine I held by the back legs. “I am an oily god! Bwahahahaha!” Just think. I’m sure someone’s been told that oiling themselves up to dance in a thong would never save their life. I am proof that they are wrong. Spread it from the mountaintops!
Prickly pain shot through my body as I was struck by some sort of electrical attack. I fell to my knees, eyes acting up under the assault. What I got from them finally showed Countess Clockwork approaching with the gear staff in hand that she used to strike me with a stream of electricity. A little closer, a little closer…there! She got too close and a swipe of the dog in my hand knocked the staff away while simultaneously giving her a little shock as well. I lost my grip on the dog though. My hands were kinda numb.
I tried to stand, but the Countess grabbed some necklace around her neck. I realized it had the same rotating cogs in miniature before she zapped me with it. Relief came with a screeching of brakes, a loud thump, and something floofing against brick flooring.
I looked up at the welcome sight of big, fat, ugly, bug-faced, baby-eating Bertha as driven by Carl. He gave me a thumbs up from behind the wheel. I stumbled over to the door and opened it. Matatoa giggled at me from around the cap of the bomb he was chewing on. Behind him, through the back of the van, I finally noticed the metal tentacle that went straight through. I grabbed the bomb from Mat, patted him on the head, and borrowed a lighter off Carl.
Countess Clockwork crawled away from where she landed, trailing blood, moaning in pain each time she dragged herself just a little further. She was headed for the elevator, and actually closing in on it. I stepped on the hem of her gown and ripped off a strip. Then I loosened the cap and dipped it in as a fuse.
“Now, you have to know you’re not getting out of here,” I said and stepped around in front of her. I shook the bomb at her and then set it down in front. In my other hand, I pulled out the lighter and flicked the flame to life. I lit the end of the fuse, then ran for the van.
“Then neither are you!” she spat after me, though the words were joined by blood in spraying at me. ”Clunkers, elevator!”
The elevator did indeed begin to rise. I threw myself into it. “Drive, drive!”
“Where?” Carl asked, but took us around for the edge of the room, looking for safety.
“The computer!” I yelled and pointed.
Carl got my meaning. Good guy, that Carl. He swerved, crashing through an unlucky clunker, and brought us around toward the tipped computer. We ramped that bitch and skidded to a halt on the rising elevator platform, which ground to a halt again.
Then the bomb went off. We didn’t get to see the damage it did, but the Countess was undoubtedly killed. It threw the platform up like a piston, sending our van back up to street level and the group of us off into the night.
I have no idea about Spider though. Wasn’t exactly a lot of time to ask, but at least those Clunker motherfuckers are down for the count. Hopefully, Santa will be by later to handle this baby. In the meantime, Merry Christmas if you happen to celebrate it.