“Lord of Misrule’s Latest Plot Foiled!” some damn newspaper read.
I pressed a button on my office desk. “Crash, see if the boys in the Financial Department can buy up enough stock to shut down this pissant rag of a newspaper. And bring me a cigar to chomp like a fat cat.”
“What newspaper are you reading, ma’am?” she asked.
“No one will miss the New York Times.”
“I think plenty of people will, actually,” she said back. “And I don’t think we can afford to buy them. They’re very important.”
“Lots of politicians are, too. You wanna know why my fancy new prosthetics didn’t have to be undergo a lot of rigorous testing? I took bags of McDonald’s burgers and fries to the FDA. Just to give them some lunch. I could sell cyanide as cough medicine if I wanted. You’re not coming down with anything, are you?”
As if I’d coordinated the whole mess, Crash coughed. “That’s nothing! It’s the cold. But lay off the Times. Everyone’s talking about it.”
“Everyone?” I asked.
“…Are you talking about it to people, Crash?”
The line went silent.
“Craaaash,” I prompted.
“No, ma’am,” she finally lied.
I smiled to myself. “Good. But as it would be difficult and harmful to my plans to kill off all news sources on earth, I shall ameliorate my vengeance.”
“Thank you, ma’am.”
Jokes on her. It’s revenge, not vengeance. Anyone can have vengeance, but revenge is personal.
The reason for my unhealthy attitude toward the news lately is that, yes, one of my plots didn’t quite work. Like the others, this one involved a couple different parts. First, I gather an army of hungry poor people. Easy. It really only took a few flyers to get them all at the hotel hosting some fancy gala to raise money or the poor and hungry of the city. I just cut out the middleman by mentioning on the flyer that it was a free meal. The guards might have stopped them, if they hadn’t died under mysterious circumstances.
Head injuries, motherfucker. How do they work?
Answer: like a charm.
So getting a bunch of poor people to swarm into a rich people’s fundraiser for feeding the poor was easy, but I really expected the next part to be a turkey shoot. That’s because I waited outside with a swarm of Buzzkills. We all perched on the hotel itself, waiting with frozen turkeys. I wore my armor, but donned a disguise once again. I looked like an evil Santa, wearing a black robe lined with green fur. In place of a hat, a pine needle crown sat upon my head. I didn’t bother with a beard. I just hid the Lord’s features in shadow.
Speaking of influencing politicians, I could probably form an entire Congressional district with my various aliases.
After a couple minutes, Moai radioed using Morse code to let me know the targets were on their way out. “Don’t fire ’til you see the whites of their guys!” I called out to the Buzzkills.
The wealthy ran out into a rain of frozen poultry. What majestic flightless birds, those turkeys were. Unfortunately, we were unable to feed them properly thanks to the intervention of Thrill Seeker. His boomerangs spun out, shattering the frozen turkeys well above the heads of those running for safety from the people they intended to help. The Buzzkills and I followed the thrown boomerangs back to the one who sent them.
There, lower down on the front of the hotel. He wore a costume divided down the middle into black and red, with white patches to show the eyes. He had a leather belt with spikes on it that topped a pair of half-yellow, half-black shorts he wore over his tights. I knew from a quick HUD infodump that he carried more boomerangs in pockets on his back. He stood on the side of the building, a feat unique to this member of the line.
The internet had plenty on Thrill Seeker’s lineage. He’s a fourth generation hero, at least. The original first fought crime in 1940 as Daredevil, with similar duds and boomerangs. The second couldn’t keep the name because of a certain Marvel comics character. He tried to go by Risk Devil, then Risk Chaser, but it was awkward and they all became Thrill Seekers from then on. None of them demonstrated overtly superhuman feats until this latest one, who walks on walls and ceilings.
Good for him. I threw a frozen turkey at him. Predictably, he blocked it. “Keep throwing. Dump as many as you can, as fast as you can. Some are bound to get through. I’ll get Thrill Seeker,” I ordered the Buzzkills, taking aim once again.
I saw him freeze for the tiniest of instants when the Buzzkills threw everything they had at the ground. Poultrified by indecision, you could say. It didn’t last long, and he set about flinging his weapons into the night air to slice and shatter. Every lost bird became a bird flipped at my efforts, the ones literally aimed at him becoming metaphorically aimed at me.
He showed amazing skill and reflexes by destroying the hundred we brought with us. When the air cleared and he caught his returning boomerangs, that’s when he looked back up at me and began to walk along the wall toward us. The walk became a jog, became a sprint. I anticipated throwing myself down to meet him, and nearly did. The Buzzkills pulled me back, however, and it flashed through my mind that the Lord of Misrule can’t cross that line.
Gah! It’s like when you have something in front of you that you really like. You see it, it’s in reach, and you get that feeling in the back of your head and hands. All those little voices of doubt and reason yap away like a Chihuahua locked in a car on a hot July day, but the only thoughts worth listening to are repeating, “Too easy. Do it,” over and over again.
And then bee people pull you away from the edge and make you think for a second, like they did with me.
When I threw myself down that time, I did so with my arms around a pair of Buzzkills and a third holding my back. They lowered me, with other Buzzkills screening me with their stinger swords out, knocking away all boomerangs coming my way. We escaped, but not with as much holiday cheer as expected.
And then it made the news.
Yeah, so that’s not so nice. I try to make things nice around this city and everyone has a field day, acting like I’m a menace to be stopped. Well, if they want a menace, they’ll get a menace.
So, ignoring our little flashback episode, I was still on the phone with Crash after discussing the news coverage when I asked that classic question, “Crash, when someone says they’re going to steal Christmas, what comes to mind?”
“This sounds like a bad idea.”
“What does, Crash? Tell me more about these bad ideas you’ve had. So I can avoid them, of course.”
“No. I won’t do it. I won’t give you ideas.”
“That’s ok. Not that I needed any. Does anyone really need Christmas lights? Or a giant tree in Rockefeller Center? Or presents? Actually, maybe they do. Going to be pretty damn difficult for me to steal all the city’s presents at onc-…” I stopped in the middle of “once” there because I had an idea. A wondrous, frabjous idea involving this little snow globe sitting on my desk depicting an old clock tower.
I stopped by Giuseppe’s place with the Romanian clock tower. Turns out, I knew just the guy to fix a tiny time-stopping doomsday device. “I have a treat for you!” I told him as I set down the snowglobe. “This little baby needs a repair job.”
Giuseppe raised a skeptical eyebrow at me, then peered through his loupe at the snowglobe. “I presume you want this done without removing the tower?”
I waved a hand in his direction as I wandered over toward a man-sized nutcracker on the wall. “No, go ahead and take it out. There’s no liquid or anything.” I leaned in to examine the detail on the nutcracker’s mouth when it snapped its jaws in front of my face.
Whew. Good thing I don’t have any nuts. I bet you could make online first-person shooters if you used these guys as enemies. No, go ahead and teabag. Crunch! Yes, kiddo, you have officially made a bad decision. Go cry some more.
“There are broken mechanisms in here. I have repaired watches and assembled small clocks. This is neither,” he noted, grabbing one of those tiny mirrors like dentists use to examine the interior of the tower.
“Right, I got ya.” I stepped back over to him and fumbled through my purse. Seriously, guys, the things are a lifesaver. I really shouldn’t have to convince someone that having a bag is useful for carrying more things, especially weapons, but I am fully behind purses. And cute certain shoes. And, I don’t know, maybe this dress I saw that doesn’t really show any cleavage, with a sort of turtleneck, but exposed arms. I’m thinking black, which is handy all the time, but possibly dark purple or even a good blue.
“Banshee, are you perfectly alright?” asked old man Giuseppe, pulling me out of my thoughts.
I pulled out a set of schematics I’d assembled based on my memories and scans of the full-size time stopping device.
“This is special work.” He examined the schematics, lips moving silently as he talked to himself. “Might I ask what it does?”
“That could be a bit dangerous to know. Could you recreate it without knowing?” I suddenly realized that perhaps giving away the key to stopping time on Earth was a bit too impulsive and suicidal. I fought to keep it from happening the first time around. No need to give Giuseppe a shot.
Giuseppe looked up from the schematics at me, maintaining a laudably deadpan composure. “I can repair it, but I will have no way of knowing if it is functioning correctly.”
I shook my head. “You don’t want to turn it on to test it, unless you can figure out a way to make it function in a much smaller area. Which would be helpful, actually. As would some means of preventing an individual from being under its effects.”
“The effects you don’t want me to know about.” He raised his eyebrow.
I grabbed the schematics out of his hands and pulled out a tampon applicator. I tugged on the string and a blade snapped out of the other end. I cut most of the diagrams away, leaving enough to show the functional form of the damaged portions and how they affix to the rest. Another pull of the string and the blade slid back in, to join the blueprints in my purse, except the tampon blade went in its own compartment. For obvious reasons, that’s not something I care to lose track of. That’s an easy way to cause some bleeding down there.
Actually, it’s the only way for me to bleed down there. There’s only so far the nanites could physically transform me. While I’m pretty much as female as I can get while still being genetically male, my body doesn’t really get fertile or have a period. Still handy for an excuse since pretty much no one in this dimension knows that.
“I can’t risk the whole picture getting out, so I’m going to go burn the rest of this when I get back to the office, but it’s a device to stop time. It can affect the entire planet at full size, which I don’t want to happen. Neither do you, I’m sure.” I smiled at him.
Giuseppe nodded. “What do you intend to use it for?”
I looked around, then leaned over the table, once again using chest diplomacy to distract a target. “Have you ever had a period in tights? Uh uh. I can make a fortune marketing this as a way to control the menstrual cycle. First thing’s first: I need a working prototype. Care to do a gal a favor and make sure I don’t have any pesky issues with my womanly fertility?”
Oh, sure, as if I’m not going to be as shamelessly manipulative as a woman as I am as a man.
While he works on that, I have to plan a way to steal Christmas in my own special way. And that means stopping time on Christmas Eve so I can run around stealing all the presents from the city’s boys and girls. Then, for one year at least, X-Mas will become Ex-Mas.