I didn’t agree to the deal with The Claw’s people right away. They offered to turn me back, protection, money, power, women, men, children, and all that. I didn’t even ask for the sex slaves, but there’s something of a market glut after the siezure of Bangkok. The only way I considered taking them up on that offer was to then fake killing them and let them escape, but where to? It’s not like the United States is taking refugees, especially not non-Christians. It’s the best deal, mainly because of turning me back. I don’t trust them, but it’s exactly what I want. In fact, it being exactly what I want is an even better reason not to trust them.
So now I have this child slave just sitting around my apartment, taking up space. They gave it to me as a gesture of good faith. I think it’s a girl, but it’s all malnourished and dirty and the name is ambiguous to me. When it came to giving it somewhere to sleep and something to eat, I called on the Italian and Swedish ambassadors. I let the kid pig out on authentic Italian cuisine while the Swede hurried through assembling an Ikea bed for the kid. The Chinese threw in some simple pants and shirts and offered to take the kid off my hands if I didn’t want it, so they at least get me a little bit.
In all seriousness, I’m not looking to use children as sex slaves, or dump it off as a regular slave. Slavery kinda sucks as an economic model. The workers aren’t motivated, and you have to keep slaves uneducated to help keep them under your thumb, which greatly limits the kind of work they can perform. As someone who was more-or-less one myself, I would point out it breeds a tiny bit of resentment. Wage slavery works much better.
I have noted all the various offers, but I found myself much more enthralled by the activities of my shadow from the other universe. The distance between us hasn’t been so much a comfort as I expected. S/he’s gone off the grid in Vancouver and has been spotted in the Rockies of Montana, rescuing a group of young men and women who were being hunted by a group of cannibals.
I thought s/he’d move quicker, but perhaps I’d forgotten about the culture shock. Just having a translator and learning the language wasn’t enough to help me get by. I knew the language, but who to see about a change of clothes? Or a place to wash myself off? Or food? I didn’t know about what kinds of jobs would get me by or charities. Without a safety net or sufficient knowledge about the culture I’d thrown myself into, I didn’t have much choice but to turn to my impressive skills in the murder and mayhem department.
Hence the Great Food Truck Robbery.
It’s simple. I got hungry and I killed the driver and operator of a food truck. I then proceeded to serve him as a special of the day. At the end of the day, I took the truck and crashed it into a fancy restaurant. I’d learned from TV at that point that I wasn’t welcome into such a place with my shabby clothes, but I still crashed it. Literally; I used the truck. Then I stole credit cards and helped myself to the numbers, all while wearing the face of the truck’s former owner as a mask. It was fun strangling one of the waiters by his bow tie. You don’t get the same grip as with a normal tie, nor does it hang so well, but you can get some awesome leverage if it’s a good quality tie.
That’s certainly one way to break into the supervillain scene.
That gave me enough money to see to myself for the short term, until I could design a virus that locked people’s internet browsers until they paid me. Here’s a hint: the FBI doesn’t make people pay them using prepaid cards in order to get your browser unlocked. If they find out you have naughty pictures worth prosecuting, they’ll just handle things the old fashioned way.
I’m not the only one to pull such a scheme, and the latest one is actually the result of a bunch of people leaking CIA hacking methods to the wider internet in the name of accountability and transparency. My decision to not share bombmaking methods just keeps sounding better and better.
Now you know, and knowing is half the battle. Yooooo Cobra!
But enough reminiscing about the past. Part of the reason I stalled the negotiations, aside from soaking up the limelight and forced adoration of various people, was to increase tensions. I told Ricca that the Americans made a pretty compelling offer. I told the Americans the Russians were offering me a lot of nice things, including all the info they stole from the Americans. Finally, the Russians tripped over themselves to make up for their first envoy taking advantage of me while I was drunk. I assured them that they were doing a great job of that… though Ricca’s offer was looking pretty darn good.
This led the unofficial allies to all issue statements condemning each other. That doesn’t sound like much, but it involved a flurry of activity behind the scenes. Some of those border incidents in China “accidentally” spilled over.
That’s the trouble with artillery, you know? Not always the most exact method of blowing people up. There’s wind, elevation, and arcs involved. All those maths where kids think “When am I going to use this in the real world?” The answer is: to blow shit up with a cannon. Electronic tools can only do so much to help out with wild shit-blowing, and some of them are susceptible to manipulation. For example, say some handsome rogue who is trying to worsen relations between two groups who are fighting against a third group were to slightly adjust some of the targeting data. Why, who knows what might get hit?
It’s not like it was easy, but much of the world is extremely lax about protecting the digital battleground. It doesn’t hurt at all that this even includes Russia itself, which seemed to take the brunt of this latest big malware attack.
Still, I tired of taking such a passive role. I’d put a lot of work into the bomb and my studies to get this far. It seemed anticlimactic to wait around and follow my initial plan of letting them start wars with each other. So I figured I’d go steal the statue of Lincoln from the Lincoln Memorial. I made sure to leave the kid a bowl of kibble and water before I left. Got the chainsaws and everything to do it, when the hot ginger agent watching over me slowly approached. “Um, sir. There’s no need. I just heard from the President that he’ll give you the monument if you want.”
“He’ll just give it to me?” I asked to clarify. I’d taken off the casing of the chainsaw to adjust it and increase the power. When I was through with it, I could use it as a dildo to fuck a diamond. Unfortunately, I wasn’t through in time, and having my own monument given to me turned out to be much less interesting than stealing it.
Unfortunately, that would not be the end of being careful what I wish for.
I returned to the Watergate metaphorically empty-handed, in part because there’s very little of Abe that I really could have brought with me. In a more literal sense, I’d brought the kid some candy. I hear they like that. But since I wanted to make it very clear where the bounds of our relationship were, I made sure to get at least one big custom lollipop that said, “I’m just not that into you.”
Excuse me for not being able to find a single gift card, in Washington D.C. Of all places, that doesn’t tell someone they’d just like to be friends. The home away from home of possibly the most adulterous population in the United States doesn’t have that card, really? There is a market for that kind of stuff. Better yet, make it a singing nude telegram for maximum impact.
The agents tried to get my attention as I approached the Watergate. I’d stopped to look at the sullen Potomac and Teddy Roosevelt’s island, accessibly by Teddy Roosevelt Bridge. He created it when someone accused his dick of not being that big. Teddy, never one to back down from a challenge, said he’d build a bridge as long as his dick. And that’s how Theodore Roosevelt Bridge was created. Some parts of that story may have been embellished.
Anyway, I ignored the agents and hopped up onto the Watergate to find a commotion going on. A bunch of protesters had broken through and were in a brawl with security personnel from various countries. Not all the security were bothering with it, though. Brazil’s people were doing shots in the parking lot. I gotta be honest, I was really tempted by their offer to build me a giant statue in Rio. Plus, I’m really into women wearing nothing but feathers. I love the chicks.
I didn’t even have to bother with the crowds to get to my room. A guy like me can just smash his hand into the outside of the hotel and crawl down to his window, which is what I did. It’s the newest-looking piece of glass on the place. They’ve been offering me a suite, but it hasn’t been a big deal to me. The room I have is pretty nice. Soft carpeting, soft pillows, good lighting, and probably the fewest dried bodily fluids of any hotel room I’ve ever stayed in.
I slid my window open and hopped in, landing right next to my bed, where the child of unknown sex and Asian ancestry slept cuddled against the pillows I’d slept on. I stepped around the bed quietly so as not to wake it and carried the candy to the kitchen area before popping my helmet up and rooting around in the refrigerator for something to drink. I found myself a nice plastic bottle and took a sip, standing up. It as then, quick as lightning, an arm whipped out from behind me and dragged a gleaming metal blade across my throat. Red splashed the refrigerator in front of me.
I turned, knocking my helmet down over my head, and held the disemboweled container of ketchup in front of the Good Doctor. I waved it in my reformed old friend and former teammate’s face. “Why did you waste it? It was the fancy ketchup!”
The black leather-clad blur with the glowing visor struck quickly with his scalpel, attempting to undo the latches and seals that fell into place when I’d dropped my helmet back down, but a good gut punch knocked the wind out of him and sent him sprawling against the countertop. “You always focused too much on the shock and initial strike,” I said.
He had to take a moment before he could speak but always kept his scalpel ready to strike. “And you were always a smug arsemonger when you thought you were in control of the situation.” Ah, the lovely British accent. The only sexier accent is one from Australia.
“Sometimes I get the feeling you’ve become more like me since you started to go legit. You know some of those innocent folks downstairs will end up arrested or worse because of you, right?”
His voice seemingly morphed into a rougher version, a sign I remembered from the older days when he embraced his murderous persona more. “It would still save more lives if I kill you.”
“’If’ is an important word here. You won’t. We’ve done this dance before. You try to kill me, I point out how heroes don’t do that, I let you go. Only this time, I’ll also point out I that killing me means the whole planet dies.” I crossed my arms and checked my helmet’s display for other attempted assassins hiding elsewhere.
He wagged the scalpel at me with his right hand. His left went to hitch up his belt. “I don’t think you would so something so drastic as a measure to prevent your demise. Venus has hinted as much.” He cocked his head to the side. “If only she didn’t loathe your guts, you two might have made a good couple. She hates thinking of you. The best way to put her in a bad mood is to mention your name. Does she know you’re so smitten with her? I bet she’ll gag if I tell her.”
I flexed my fingers, my gaze boring in on him. Good Doctor stepped up his game. His X-ray vision is normally proficient at finding weaknesses in armor, but now he’s using headology on me. I gave my head a smack to knock my thoughts loose, then laughed. “You know, funny thing here, I’ve saved the world more times than she has, more times than you. And now I’ll save it again, no matter the cost, because I fucking like this planet. This is my home. Either show some sense or get out of my way.” I said the last part through clenched teeth, I’ll admit.
“You will not kill me. I will walk right out the door and try again another time. I will find you at your darkest hour, when none of these puppets are around who may rescue you,” Doc pointed behind me, to the door, then began walking. As he passed, I reached up and put a hand on his shoulder. He stopped.
“I’m getting tired of these weaknesses,” I said. “But you were still my friend. So this is the last mercy you get. Go back and tell the Academy I’m saving the damn world, and tell them to stay out of my way. As a friend… don’t make me kill you.”
He turned to me and lunged, bringing up his scalpel. I figured it was probably a bluff. I figured that after I grabbed his arm, broke his metacarpals, then his radius and humerus. Then I dislocated his shoulder. Holding onto his arm, I bent down and flipped him over onto the floor while grabbing the scalpel. I saw movement out of the corner of my eye and twisted to see the kid was up and watching us. I turned and jabbed the blade through the thick leather protecting Doc’s leg.
It was the kid that saved him. Otherwise, my first choice was the stomach and dragging it up his torso. I dumped him outside my door with his own blade stuck in him and told the panting Secret Service agents who ran up, “You guys suck at your jobs. Now get him out of here and don’t press charges. He knows what’ll happen if he tries again.”
My kid stepped out from behind me and kicked Doc in the head. I reached down and took its hand. “Now nobody bother Qiang and I for awhile. I have to teach… it… a bit more about human anatomy.” I led it back into the room. “Good kick, but I bet your foot hurts, right? Let’s learn all about the best places to kick a person, ok?”
I did take the hotel up on their offer to upgrade to a suite after all. That’ll make it a tiny bit harder for Doc to try again. It’s going to suck when he does, but I warned him. I don’t give everyone that courtesy and it’s time to stop playing around with him. It’ll break my heart to rip out his.
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You know, for a guy who doesn’t want to get attached you sure have a knack for taking people under your wing. I bet even if you don’t give them further advices Qiang will grow up to be a super, maybe villain, maybe hero. Because everywhere you go, stuff happens, you knock dominoes around and they always start chain reactions.
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