“Ok, so when I’m done playing Santa, I pull a bomb out of the bag and yell, ‘Now let’s deal with that naughty list, shall we?’ and that’s when y’all pull out the guns and take down the guards,” I said to a group of shocked heroes.
I’d gotten somewhat bored with the meeting, where they put way too much emphasis on not being seen or hurting anyone at all. This bunch is completely risk averse and acts like having to put on a mask will make them all pariahs. And Venus has been gone from the meeting, so I can’t even tease her. Something about important hero business to deal with. This is important enough to stick me with, but somehow not important enough for her to call in all her various law enforcement friends. Which is odd, since they’d like to know about the nanites these goody-goodies are after, too.
And I don’t appreciate her not having time to threaten me or try and keep me in line. As if I’m less important just because I’m captured. Not like I need her to visit me all the time anyway. I’m just fine without her. I’m awesome. Just like I’ll be awesome when she’s dead and buried.
Anyway, these scrubs are under the impression my suggestions are completely ridiculous and will do nothing but get people caught, since the vault is the first thing to get locked down in any situation like that.
They didn’t take the first draft very well. They threw me out of the room. Eh, it gave me time to check on the armor. If they didn’t want me doing all that heisting business, I didn’t have to. They were the ones who decided they needed to liberate the nanites after all. If they’d just let me take them as payment, they’d at least have some by now.
As for the armor, it’s still going. The torso armor is almost finished. That’ll leave the legs for the machine, while I handle the other pieces I’ve been working on. The gloves and boots are done. I’ve been assembling an exoskeleton, testing some pieces of it, but the biggest challenge will be the helmet. Think a samurai, but jagged and straight, with a grinning fanged mouth. Ok, so very much like a samurai’s armor. They liked to add on stuff like fangs and mouths for intimidation value. Above that, the face is covered by metal, with a raised circle on it. On that circle, there are three formal “eyes” in an upside-down triangle shape. No armored jester hat this time. I’ve grown tired of bells lately.
With as much of the costume as there is now, I’ve relocated the reference section in front of it, and changed the sign up. Now, it announces to the world that it is an auto-castration machine that wakes up on touch.
These days, only the hardcore students dare enter, anyway. The system’s set up for self-checkout and students volunteer to put books back up, but word’s gotten around about the crazy librarian who charges the obstacle course like a drunk and strings up late returns by their intestines. The fear is nice. But it doesn’t sustain me.
Because, even as I assembled the optical display of my new helmet and built in non-digital controls to handle some of the functions I used to be able to pull off myself, I felt as though something was missing in my life. It flared up when I saw happy young couples walking around, wondering who stole their baby’s candy. I noticed it when I saw today’s youth running around, doing triple frontflips off walls and calling it parkour. It came to mind when I watched TV, where apparently the new President caused a stir by declaring “Hail HYDRA,” or something. With the wave of sentiment that caused people to protest and attack superheroes, I guess it just makes sense.
I hate people. That is one of the driving forces of my murderous impulses, along with just a general desire to kill stuff. I really hate people. Big people. Little people. People who are too dumb to know they’re dumb and people who are purposefully the worst. Bad people, of course, but also good people who let them do it and neutral people who think both sides are equal for some reason. I think the next time someone tells me that, I’ll dump gasoline on them and tell them that dying of old age and dying because I lit them on fire are both basically the same thing.
Not being able to do anything about that? It makes me angry with rage. And a little sick at times. Or it would have, I think, if I hadn’t been so busy. I’ve had shit to get done, no matter how sad the world gets without me being allowed to tear it apart. I am the dealer of death, the god-emperor of mankind, the harbinger of mankind’s well-deserved apocalypse… and they stuck a bell and cat ears on me to keep track of my comings and goings.
So, after a bit of work on the armor and another attempt at the obstacle course where I ALMOST got it while singing “Umbrella,” I headed back into the meeting, where the bunch were just getting done brewing a bunch of coffee. They looked pretty tired in there, with one costumed nobody sitting back in his chair asleep. Even brought my helmet with me and dropped it onto the table.
I sat down and took a look at what they came up with. Have someone pretend to be a janitor and loosen ventilation ducts. Someone else sneaks through the ducts and crawls down to the hallway in front of the vault. They somehow jam the vault door so it can’t swing closed. Meanwhile, janitor person lays down lots of thermite on the floor above the vault. Lots of thermite. This is covered up by the rest of the team caroling. When the floor is completely cut through into the vault, the problems with which I will have to ignore to discuss the errors in the rest of this strategy, then the person inside the vault can hook up cables that go up and out of the hole in the floor to where a helicopter or tank or something can haul it out.
“Not going to work for so many reasons,” I told them all as I looked over it. “Too many problems. You’re focusing on brute force and architecture too much.”
“What would you focus on? Santa threatening to blow people up?” asked the guy who had been sleeping.
“You got a little drool on your shirt,” I told him. He actually looked. I smiled when he realized he’d been had. “I think most people would focus on Santa threatening to blow a place up. The part with the guns was a bit far fetched, but I was trying to have some fun while you guys play Mission: Impossible and scribble about crashing an APC into the wall.” And so I began to explain the entirety of my plan.
“We’re doing the best we know how,” said one of them, a woman with a muscular physique and small boobs. “We’re normally not on the planning side of this.”
“You’re not on the planning side of anything most of the time,” I responded, then quickly tried to deflect this from becoming an insult-fest. “A good villain has to plan things out better. I can do it, but I have to work with y’all, and nobody expects heroes to have much to do with breaking into a bank to steal something.”
“What can we do about that?” asked a cornrowed young man with skin as black as something dark brown in color. Wood, maybe? Coffee? Certain types of chocolate? Why does skin color so often turn into a discussion of food? One of his mayo-skinned colleagues chimed in as well.
“We have to keep from using our powers a lot too. Villains don’t have to worry about that, because you don’t care so much if you’re caught,” he said.
I rolled my eyes. “Believe me, we care. We just don’t have to worry about publicity so much. But I think we can do something about it. I’ve had some time to think and get hit in the face by a metal piston. This may be a lingering head injury talking, but I think we can turn the weakness of this bunch into a strength. So here’s what we do…”
The next day, I filled in for Kris Kringle. It hadn’t been that hard. The heroes wanted to get all overly complicated and hack the bank’s security to figure out who they hired. I wanted to wait in the parking lot, where they tied up Santa, gagged him, and stuck him in the trunk of his car. I may have done a little dancing around in the parking lot as I adjusted the pillow under the coat of my costume. “Kidnap the Sandy Claws, lock him up real tight, throw away the key, and then turn off all the lights!”
“You don’t have to be so happy about this,” said one of my accomplices. I never bothered to learn his name. Let’s call him Thing 1.
“Listen, person I don’t care about, I’m the Santa now. Being jolly is part of the job. Now, don’t you have a bank to rob? Careful, I might have to put you on a list for that kind of behavior.”
He shook his head and adjusted his jumpsuit. I smiled to myself as I fixed my beard on nice and tight. I anticipated he’d run into a couple of hiccups with his addition to the plan. Mine originally only called for me to go in at this point. He felt they needed to have even more people in to really sell what I wanted to sell, so Thing 1 volunteered to dress up as a member of the cleaning staff. I just got to play Santa and take photos with little boys and girls.
“I wanna motorbike, and I want football pads, and I want a new NFL game, and I want…” the enthusiastic youngster in my lap was saying at the time.
I didn’t care for children, especially one wasting my time so much, but then I heard from the other guy. “So, it turns out the janitors come in after hours and don’t wear this kind of jumpsuit. We might have to abort.”
“Stop him!” someone yelled. I only heard it through the comms, so it was someone near the other guy. Not ten seconds later, a door to the rear of the bank flew open and out ran Thing 1, being chased by security.
I gave it another fifteen minutes, mainly because I figured the heroes had to be betting on me and I wanted to screw it up for at least one of them, before I grabbed the Santa sack I brought with me and pulled out a plastic ball pit ball with silly putty and wires stuck to it. That’s a tough fake bomb to make there. The silly putty was the tricky part. “Now let’s deal with that naughty list, shall we?”
Despite their misgivings from the plan, the heroes sure looked happy at how hurt I looked from a little security guard brutality. The one who smacked my nose with his baton went further than necessary, especially because my pretty face can’t heal as easily now. Security was all too eager to hand over the Mad Santa Bomber to this group of Master Academy heroes who had been out on patrol. I just laughed at them. “Look at this sorry bunch of spandex-wearing losers. Nothing says courage like bicycle shorts. By the way, miss, you need to tape those balls back down. They make an unseemly bulge.”
“Quiet, you!” said Thing 1, his face covered by a mask. I think he enjoyed punching me in the belly, even though it was not the kind of improvising I’d have preferred. I saw his eyes widen a little as the air whooshed out of me.
“You can take him now, unless there’s anything else you need,” said one of the Security guards holding me by a ziptied arm.
“Is there any chance we can get a copy of the camera footage?” asked one of the heroes.
“That’s not really necessary, is it? He pulled out the bomb, it’s a fake it turns out, and we stopped him. We’ll hand the footage over to the police if they ask for it.”
Thing 1 stepped forward. “Can we see the fake bomb at least?”
“Is something going on here?” A man in a suit asked as he stepped forward. “He’s caught, right? Take him and go.”
“Ha!” I said upon regaining the ability to speak. “You may have captured me, but my accomplice already did what he needed to the vault. Soon, Empyreal City will rue the day. You hear me? Get your ruing practice in early, because the day of ruining is nearly at hand!”
Cheesy? Yes. Something you’d expect from a dirty Santa standing by the freeway? Definitely. Probable cause for vigilantes to ask to examine the vault? Ding, ding, ding, we have a winner!
After being escorted out by part of the group, Thing 1 and another hero went back inside to see to that vault thing. The security tapes indeed showed someone fleeing who, according to witnesses, tried to pass as a janitor. He didn’t seem to have gone anywhere near the vault, but from what I heard on the comms they just claimed we’d looped the cameras. Anybody in with any real background in that would know that one stunk from being full of BS.
Then out came the gizmos. In this case, they pretended a tracking device attuned to the signal from the nanites was being used to track down the location of explosives. It was found to be in a special container on its own pallet in the vault. The bank had agreed to store said container for a client. It shouldn’t have been anything harmful.
“Then why is it sloshing?” asked Thing 1 as he opened a cap on the top and gave the container a push. The bank manager went into full-on panic mode, talking about calling in bomb squads and all that. The heroes assured him they could handle this without drawing quite so much public attention. They’d just have to carry it out and take it elsewhere to determine what it was and try to determine what had happened. The bank manager quickly agreed.
And so Master Academy robbed a bank, all under the guise of protecting it. So easy, it should be against the law. Oh wait, it is.
“Well done,” said Mender as he watched one of his students slow down. The lawn behind the school building opened up and he hovered down with the container. I tried to step over and peer down after him, but I didn’t get a real good look before the lawn closed up again on the hideout underneath the school.
“Hurray. Now instead of calling the cops on a mob boss having stolen goods, you can call them here instead. That’ll surely help me escape scrutiny,” I mentioned.
“It’s not that simple,” said Psychsaur as she stepped out of the back door of the school as well. “We’re not supposed to have those either. No one is allowed to have nanites after what you pulled.”
“Yeah,” I nodded, trying to emphasize with my tone the stupidity of her statement. “That’s what I said. They’re illegal, you took them from someone who had them illegally, now you can do your turning them over thing and let them go to waste.”
“They will not be put to waste. There are still too many hurt in this world who need your tainted gift to survive,” said Victor Mender. “You have helped us to achieve a Christmas Miracle, Psycho Gecko. You should feel proud of yourself. I fear we will need this soon. Until we do, it is safe in our protection, where no one of ill-intention can get to it.”
Why not rub it in my face some more? “Eh, not the first time I’ve pulled off a Christmas Miracle. Or New Years. At least the Hanukkah Zombie didn’t show up to request my help. Mayhap I’m finally done being the plaything of the universe…”
I pondered that to the point of ignoring as everyone finished getting things loaded and headed back into the building. Everyone but Mender, that is, whose digitized voice said, “Cough cough.”
So much for not being a plaything. “You were saying?” I turned to him again.
“You have had to be dragged kicking and screaming along with our plans. I do not hope to reform you like Venus. I think you can be a valuable wetwork asset for the school beyond when I deploy you against The Claw. That is why I have a request for you. A test.”
I felt Psychsaur step up behind me and root around in my head. “Stop that,” I said back to her.
“I am adjusting your parole. My people have investigated the men who attacked my school recently. They failed, but I have learned they are planning to try again. They have money, they have weapons, and they have an unknown source of information. I want you to deny them these things.” It was tough reading anything into Mender’s stare considering how he always looks now. The guy can’t exactly emote a lot.
I reached up and scratched the back of my head. Psychsaur’s telepathic intrusion tickled back there. “That’s going to be tough, considering what she put in my head.”
“I took something out, too,” she said from behind me.
I glanced back, but then Mender spoke and really got my attention. “This next robbery would be dangerous. You have to be able to hurt people.” I looked at him for a moment, then turned and tried to punch Psychsaur. I stopped nowhere near her, prompting Mender to continue: “The right people. More to the point, the wrong people.”
I pouted and turned back to him. “Fine, but no hero costume. I’m still a villain.”
“Sure you are,” Psychsaur said, patting my head.
Funny person, that Psychsaur. That’s why I’ll kill her second.
“Ok,” I told Mender. “This time, in the spirit of the season… I will crush your enemies, see them driven before me, and hear the lamentations of their women. It’s gonna be a red Christmas this year.”