“Next time,” didn’t work out quite as well as we hoped.
With a bit of cash under our belts, Creeper decided to assemble a large balloon. Hydrogen. Could be a balloon, could be a dirigible. Might even be a zeppelin. Hold on one second. Correction, it’s a rigid airship. He bought the thing from Goodyear and had it brought here for us to repaint and reassemble. And by us, I mean the minions. I had to help them, but not with that.
Both to help gas up the airship and for his current, non-robotic nefarious scheme, Dr. Creeper brought on more henchpeople and had them start robbing some places. Laboratory supplies and so forth. It’s done much better now, too. He bought them goggles and shirts with his own name on them. Creeper confessed to me that he thought about dressing them all up as mad lab assistants, but that would just mean lab coats. Maybe black ones to denote the evil. And having that many other people running around in lab coats would kind of throw off the significance of him being the big guy in charge. I suggested scrubs to him, but he pointed out that’s more of a medical thing and he’s not that sort of doctor.
Which reminds me, I need to find the time to look up if there’s ever been a mad proctologist. If not, I plan to find a regular proctologist and drive him to insanity. I can almost envision it. A government official drives home, only for a flying saucer to appear and abduct him in a forcefield. It’s not an alien! No, he’s getting probed by… The Mad Proctologist! And, through the power of the probe-u-lator, a brief sixteen hour anal exam forces him to give up governent secrets. It’s brilliant, brilliant I say!
On the plus side of the costume situation, Dr. Creeper arranged for the first batch of minions to have their new outfits custom-tailored, and he plans to do the same for this second group, too.
They weren’t necessarily supposed to be quiet about everything as a way to breed name recognition. It didn’t surprise me that in my guise as Dr. Creeper’s second-in-command, I was called upon to save them. I was hanging out in the Executive Break Room, which is basically just a small room where Creeper and I can talk without being so careful about my identity. I was hanging out and having a cappucino. He was laying down without his back brace on.
“You ok over there?” I asked. He was making noises people usually only make when they’re getting tortured or having sex. There’s a lot of similarity there. Certain groans and moans, along with some cries to deities and references to genitals. Like “Oh god, my balls feel like..” He wasn’t referencing his balls, which is good for me. There are some things I don’t need the skinny on. One of those things, a pair of those things I assume, is/are Creeper’s balls.
“Ungh. Oooh. Oh yeah, that’s just what I needed. I see why it is so fun. The work gives me energy, but it takes a toll whenever I stop to rest.” He looked up and smiled at me. “I feel like a kid again. Thank you for all your help.”
I gave him a thumbs-up. “Sure thing. Glad you’re having fun. I mean, it’d suck to do all this and not even have any fun doing it. I’ve had trouble with that, too.”
The intercom crackled to life. “Hello, Dr. Creeper, sir? Team 11 is calling from Axis Chemicals. They say they lost contact with some of the team and think a superhero is on the scene.”
“There is no rest for the wicked,” Creeper said, then started to sit up.
I held up a hand to stop him. “I got this. Tell Team 11 the cavalry’s on the way.” See, it’s funny, because hussars were cavalry.
I headed out on the new Hussar Cycle. It’s just a black rice rocket with a holster for a pair of lances. Nothing all that special. The assistant back at the lab sent me the address I needed to get to and I made my way there. As usual, I ignored most traffic laws, and occasionally the law of gravity. And the law of gravity’s a real asshole. Trust me, that one loves to use lethal force.
I got there in time to find the police present at Axis, which was actually Axis Mundi Chemicals. They had one of the big wagons there they were loading a whole bunch of beaten-up Creeper gang members into. Completely unacceptable, I’d say. Good thing they had me to act as their lawyer. I saw the closest cops turn to address my pointed legal argument, which involved me holding a lance while braking and doing a front wheelie. He needed that like he needed a hole in the chest, but he got it anyway.
I let the lance and the cycle drop so I could get off and whip out my sword. The nearest one to pull some gun-shaped object lost his hands at the wrist. The one after that fell to the ground with a broken collarbone and a bit of bleeding.
That left me with another half dozen officers around me. “I’m only going to give you this chance once because someone has decided to play nice. Tend to your friends. They can be saved, and this guy’s,” I nodded toward Handless Joe Jackson, “hands can be successfully reattached if you get him and them to a hospital now. All you have to do is leave me with them.” I raised my sword to point to the minions.
The cops lowered their guns and moved to grab their buddies, as well as the one’s hands. “Make sure you don’t mix them up,” I added before stepping over to the minions.
“Jesus!” said one of them.
“Hussar, actually. Stand up, get on out of here, and turn around so I can see your hands,” I said, waving them onward with my sword.
“He’s gonna cut off our hands for failing him!” said one of them in the back.
“Tempting, but that is a decision for the doctor. Want to know just how sharp my sword is, though? Sharp enough to cut you loose from handcuffs. Want proof?” With the choice between freedom and incarceration in the air, the henchmen didn’t sit around on their hands waiting for the cuffs to rust off and we actually got ourselves a couple of new cars courtesy of the police. They even had the substances the minions had been after bagged up for us already. As they scrambled to get it all loaded, I grabbed the nearest one and asked, “How did y’all get caught, anyway?”
“Uhhh, you know that fruity hero with the red outfit who jumped around all the time? Rouge?”
I nodded. “So he showed up again. Probably a coincidence, this time.” I let him go while I disabled the GPS trackers in the vehicles we were taking.
Back at the lab, Creeper was elated at the recovery of the items and the minions. He even told that group to take the rest of the night off and come back the next day. Then he pulled me aside to walk me over to where another pair of teams were assembling the airship. “Did you kill anyone?” he asked.
I shrugged. “Maybe. I don’t think so. I badly wounded two of the cops and gave the rest a choice of saving their lives or turning it into a fight. Canadian healthcare won out. It was Rouge again.”
“Could he have tracked them somehow? No, that would be improbable. We would know. They would be here, now. I would spend all night cleaning the buzzsaw traps. Hey, I have people to do that for me now! Oh, but I wouldn’t want someone to have an accident and lose a finger.” He folded his fingers together thinking that through. “Perhaps I need to hold a seminar or write a manual on proper maintenance of the traps.”
“You have a lot of other stuff on your plate right now besides traps, ya know. Like our insidious method of tire advertisement that your minions scramble to assemble even now. Soon the world shall tremble at our high quality rubber!” I said it with a lot of sarcasm so he’d know it was in jest. “But I am really curious now what we’re going to use this thing for. It’s a bit of a floating target, and there aren’t too many plots you can use one for.”
“You are correct. I thought hard about what to do that fits a man of my skills and gimmick. I decided we’re going to mess with the weather.”
My mind immediately went to the entire crew of henchmen performing a choreographed musical number around me while I attempt a rain dance. The blimp stands a better chance. Rigid airship, I mean. It’s hard, and ribbed for our pleasure.
“I am not a lifelong scientist, but I know of a chemical mixture that can be seeded into the atmosphere to induce storms and worse. The Chinese have been working on it for years with limited success. I worked in a climate lab once and there was limited collaboration. Soon, with the help of the men and women working under me, I will unleash the storm of a century on Vancouver. Ice will rain down and lightning will shake the city to its very foundation!” By now, his voice had picked up in volume and his hands were now claws grabbing hold of the air.
“I haven’t even gotten to the ransom!” he said, turning to look at me.
I pretended to be writing on a notepad. “Please, doctor, tell me about the ransom.”
“If Canada does not pay me fifty billion dollars, I will cover half of the country with ice!” he yelled, then tried out a laugh. It wasn’t his best work. A lot of villains have to hire a vocal coach for that sort of thing.
“Doc, I’m pretty sure at least half of Canada is already covered in ice. Like, permanently.”
His face screwed up like he smelled a fart. I really felt like having egg sandwiches for dinner. This time when he spoke, he was quieter about it. “I mean the other half. The parts that aren’t so cold. It is going to be summer soon. Do you think I’m asking for too much money?”
I pulled out my phone to check.
“I’ll look up the GDP of the place and get back to you on that, but offhand I’d say… probably? I don’t know if you can get that much, especially with just one airship. I know a billion doesn’t stretch as far as it used to, but maybe we should start there and work our way up? Oh, yeah, they definitely have fifty billion to toss around, I see here. But I don’t think you have much grounds to go for it. It’s kinda easy to take down a blimp.”
He rubbed his hands together. “That is the beauty of the formula… I am using a chemical composition with a density that will keep it high enough in the troposphere to continue weather patterns until the correct counter reagent is introduced. Even if they shoot us down, the storms carry on. What do you think?”
I gave him a golf clap. “It’s genius, it’s nefarious, it’s fabulous; I like it. If you can get that over more of Canada, we got a fifty billion dollar idea on our hands. Try it out on Vancouver for a billion. If they pay pronto, we’ll move on Toronto.”