The first steps of my official government have been laid. I pulled together a team of saps to assist me by filtering out various moonbat applicants for Team Gecko. They are now officially my Department of Labor, and will afterwards work on managing the concerns of workers and managers, particularly in the industrial sector. Coordinating, making sure people get benefits, making sure people don’t abuse benefits. It’s a give-and-take thing, labor. Or at least it is when I’m not the one laboring.
I’m still working on finding someone to help figure out other departments. Gotta sort out the power hungry assholes and privilege seekers from the ones who just want to do what they’re good at. That’s one area where the monetary incentive doesn’t work, because plenty of people will do a job poorly so long as there’s money in it. They don’t care about it anymore than they’re paid to care.
As for the power bit, that’s where we look at Joseph Stalin. The Bolsheviks had their little reunion, but they were revolutionaries. They wanted to fight the government and were unprepared when they became the government. There were all these boring things to do instead. One guy stepped up and was like “Sure, give me everything to do. If I can’t handle it, I’ll find people who can.” Next thing they know, the most powerful man in the entire country is the secretary with a bunch of his friends in positions all over the place. There’s always folks like that, and they love to pop up whenever there’s a power vacuum. A lot of people think that the danger ends with the revolution. Ha!
In my case, I’ve got to find other ways to hunt down people. Tests and such. It’d be nice if I’d bothered with this earlier, but I didn’t. I had a team to build.
I tried the Titan, head of Cape Diem. I’ve left him alone, except for the fact that I’ve made him busier than ever. I found him in the country of Benin. Cape Diem’s people had a small center in the city of Cotonou from which they sent out a traveling medical group to counter some of the countryside’s problems with receiving medical care. In a compound right next door, they had people trying to find cheap ways to expand the country’s agriculture beyond subsistence farming.
Titan was busy helping to repair some cheaper housing that looked to be falling apart. And by that, I mean he took the place of some damaged support columns holding up the building while his team and local contractors worked on replacing them. With his other hand, he checked on other Cape Diem teams around the world and so on.
A dozen feet tall, with dark blue skin and the occasional hint of orange, the man looked up at me with all-white eyes save for where something glowed from underneath that membrane. “I won’t fight for you,” he said.
I came in person because the personal touch is so important. Like when I dropped to my knees. “Pleeeeeeeease? Pretty please with a cherry on top?”
He sighed and raised one leg to scratch at the calf of the other through is blue, grey, and yellow uniform leggings. Standard Cape Diem nonthreatening colors. “Offer me money.”
“Yes,” I said.
“Power too, promise me that.”
“All you want,” I swore I heard some of this before.
“Offer me anything I ask for.”
He didn’t even look up. He was messing with me. “Anything you want.”
He glanced at me again, then shrugged, careful to keep from shrugging the building while he was at it. “I still don’t want to fight for you, and you’ll be lucky to get anyone to.”
Analysis of dialogue complete. He quoted Princess Bride at me. Inconceivable!
“I think I’ll get more than you think,” I answered back.
He smirked. “You can’t even see it, can you? People will work with you when nothing personal is on the line, but no one will ever fight for you, especially not me.” He seemed awfully sure of that.
“So what I’m taking away from this is, there’s not much of anything you can think of to make me change your mind,” I asked. Unlike with Captain Lightning, the innuendo had to stay put away. From what I’d seen of this guy in the past, there’s a reason he was able to tell everyone he wasn’t playing their games. It involved him taking a nuke to the face and not even being knocked unconscious. I did about the equivalent of that to Captain Lightning. It knocked him out and would have killed me.
I didn’t come in armor, to appear less threatening. I even swallowed down the question of how his organization avoided the whole nanite mess. They had a few people with some exposure to them, but they hadn’t been passing them around like I expected.
“Ok,” I said. “Don’t have to fight for me. Anything I can throw your way? We’re still on a money system, so I could toss that at you. Maybe order people to give you a hand?”
He shook his head. “It takes more than just money and outside help to fix things. This isn’t about the White Man’s Burden. One of the stories I make sure they include in training is about this group that came into a country and wanted to help. So they planted a bunch of crops in an fertile area that the natives were just too dumb to use. The plants grew, then migrating hippos came through and ate everything, destroying the entire crop. Cape Diem doesn’t save the day and fly off to ignore the consequences of our actions. We look for what will work. We talk to people. We use local contractors so they get paid and things get built right, instead of giving credit to untrained college students whose houses couldn’t stand up to a loud fart. We need minds, not money.”
His little rant got him a bit agitated. The white membrane covering his eyes had pulled back and flames burned out of the iris hidden underneath. For a moment, he glared at me. Then the moment ended and the nictitating membranes moved back into place. “I don’t care for you. Things have gotten worse since you took over. I just want whoever’s in charge to stop messing things up so I can try and get things fixed around here.”
I can definitely sympathize. And the closest to any good I wanted to so involved me taking over for the same sort of reason. I couldn’t fight some war against the Titan to bring him to my side on top of my conflict with Cercopagis. I had to get a team together, beat the alien, and then I could finally get around to everything I’ve neglected.
“So, if you’re not fighting for me, are you fighting at all? Just as a courtesy, something like that? I can send over enough pizzas for a pizza party. For the entire country.” In the interest of choosing the right expression for the food I offered, I put on a cheesy smile and gave two thumbs up. “Eh? Eh?”
I think he rolled his eyes. The glow shifted around, at least. “If it’ll get you to go away, I’m not taking part in that contest on either side. I don’t like Lysis, but I don’t get involved in politics unless they get involved with me first. I’d better not get involved, either.” He raised an eyebrow.
I shook my head. “Nope. I’ll send over the pizzas later.” I turned to step on back to Helicopter Force Eighteen, the Emperor’s personal helicopter. Helicopters Force One through Seventeen are decoys and took off around me like a flock of mosquitoes. Ooh, except for Helicopter Force Seven. That one stayed on the ground, then exploded. Hence the decoys. Damn hard to find good chopper pilots, too. I had to stab them all with needles and inject the nanites.
Hmm. Maybe what I need to do is add a tail…no, I can see that being used against me. I’d have to alter my armor all the time, change up the car, and I’d probably wind up crapping on myself when I rush to the bathroom and forget about the tail.
He was a notable failure, though I did ship in a lot of pizzas. Maybe not enough for the entire country, since it’s like ten million or so, but a lot anyway. I know y’all wouldn’t expect me to do so, but I didn’t even send him the bill for it. It’s one of those annoying cases where someone tells you “This guy is really, really strong,” instead of letting you see it, but since all this is from my point of view, I’d rather not see it just so y’all do. I like my legs right where they are, thank you.
Good. Bad. Either way, I’m the man with the… uh… blog? Didn’t think that one out.
So I only had Warman at that time. And while I had an office full of people to take applications, most of the applicants didn’t live up to the hype. I could have used Forcelight if I still had her. I sent along a message to The Claw, but someone from his office claimed he was in ill health and needed to recover. I’m not inclined to believe him, though he is a bit on the old side and reclusive. Maybe this is one of those situations where the dictator’s off on a long vacation while his people run things. Wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more.
I found Venus, too. It took more work than it should have, but I found her with the rest of the Master Academy people in Empyreal City, stopping a few pockets of crime I’ve neglected due to being a single person. She stood there in her shiny silver and pink power armor. The person she was talking to stopped when I took over, then smiled. “Heya there, boopsie! Ooh, you know grinding your teeth is bad for them, right?”
“I know,” she said, not stopping the grinding. “What do you want?”
“Fight for me?” I asked.
She crossed her arms. “Why?”
“Because crime is down, you love me, and I’ll murder everyone you care for if you don’t?” That undoubtedly looked odd and drew some looks, considering I’d jumped into a teen girl and we were surrounded by a bunch of people that looked like they’d been beaten up. And handcuffed. I looked around at him. “Did I interrupt you in the middle of something…freaky?”
“No, this is a blood trafficking ring. People pay good money to have their blood swapped out, but not everyone’s ethical about it. This is what people have resorted to thanks to you,” Venus said. Another woman behind her hissed and broke his cuffs, then jumped at her. Venus’s fist caught her in the face. My proxy’s nailed her right in the ovaries. That’s not an expression, either.
“For God’s sake, get your hand out of her parts. There’s so much wrong with that,” Venus said, grabbing the shocked and hurting vamp and dragging her back against the wall. There was an audible pop as the perp released my proxy’s hand.
“At least she doesn’t have fangs everywhere,” I muttered, then watched as Venus grabbed a nearby chair and staked the screaming vampire’s arms to the wall. “Ooh, kinky.”
“This is a very good reason why I absolutely do not and never will love you!” Venus turned and yelled, getting in my face and pointing her finger at me.
“To answer your other points, crime is only down because you took away everyone’s freedom and threatened to kill them. Just like you threatened to kill my friends. You really want me to fight? Really? You think you can trust me not to surrender when I get out there, or will you kill people then? Or how about if I throw the fight? How would you even know? Are you going to murder the loved ones of anyone who loses on your team? How many people do you think will join you if that’s what you’re going to do?”
That…made sense. Worse, I think Titan knew it, too. Did Captain Lightning? I agreed to these fucking rules. Cercopagis Lysis presented them and I agreed. “Son of an emerald whore,” I said quietly.
I blinked, then glared at Venus and brought my finger up close to her face as well.
She screwed up her face. “You got something to say?”
I shook my head. “Nope, just wanted you to smell this finger.” She pulled her head back, bringing a laugh at me. A bitter one, though.
I left her friend there and went on a small detour to commandeer a satellite transmitter. A quick uplink later and I sent Cercopagis a message. “Will need time to collect team. Earthlings intragnizent. You are a female reproductive organ, if your species has them.”
The message came back quickly. He replied the same way. “Will show for first fight Tuesday. Will interrupt the work week. If you don’t show, will declare a victory.”
That dick! Screwing up the week like that! Also, the whole PR victory thing. I get it. He shows up, says it’s fight time, and I don’t even bother? It makes me look bad, and I don’t want to walk into that whole mess with just Warman. For one thing, that stupid idea about not fighting more than once. This is bullshit, I shouldn’t follow the rules anyway! Seriously, who starts shit on a Tuesday? Damn, he is evil.
No, no, no, no, it’s cool. It’s cool. Got a bit too sane there, but I’ve already got some ideas. And Mix N’Max on speed dial.