Nothing like staying up late at night murdering hooligans to make you resentful of peacekeeping. A couple of guys had decided to run around a neighborhood at night, smashing up the place. Not so bad. More of an annoyance, especially because I’ve heard rumblings about gangs not letting people leave their homes. Except they’d been setting fires. That’s just what we need, a fire burning down half the island because emergency services collapsed.
“Good job on your reading, honey.” I said to Quiang. I’d set it up so I could listen to her and help her practice her reading. I’d even left a little camera for her to wear that would show me the book so I could help her with the words. Seems like the kind of thing a parent would do. I don’t have much personal experience to go on there. “Daddy’s got to take a break for a minute or two. Be right back.”
Below me, the pair I’d come looking for were lighting up a Molotov cocktail. Future Corpse One held the bottle while Future Corpse Two flicked his lighter trying to set fire to the rag at the top. “I think it’s out of fluid,” said Two.
I landed between them, grabbed the bottle, and smashed it over Two’s head hard enough to shatter it. I turned and shoved my hand into One’s mouth, held it open, shoved the bottle in there, then kicked him in the nuts hard enough that it carried him into the air a short distance. I turned to Two then and snatched the lighter from his hands. “This town deserves a better class of criminal,” I said to him. I flicked the lighter. Nothing. I tried again. Again, nothing. “I think you’re out of fluid,” I said to him. “Don’t worry, though. I’ll help you find more. It’s dark, though.” I reached to my belt and pulled out a flare. “Here, take a light.” I popped the flare and threw it at him.
All in all, it was a brief but thoroughly enlightening experience for him.
On the political side of things, I didn’t expect much from asking a bunch of people to throw together a group of representatives in a hurry, but they surprised me. I ended up with various committees and gangs in attendance at the palace who were either picked to represent some borough or neighborhood, or who had already been doing so. It’s just so nice to see some competence. I get a little jaded at times watching people rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic that it’s nice when something goes according to plan.
Which made it all the more frustrating when this group decided to maintain their fealty to Emperor Gecko instead of replacing me. After that little fiasco, I left them to sort out details like composition and rules and so on. I had a meeting with the local boss of the Yakuza. It was time for their humanitarian efforts to pay off as I wheeled and dealed. Or, to be more honest, attempted to not murder a guy and instead come up with some preposterous scheme to restore power to the entire island.
“It’s simple,” the Yakuza fellow explained to me. I hadn’t listened to his title, nor did I care to go back and reread. “We run underground powerlines from our island to yours. It will cost more until the new nuclear power plants are built. We would be more than happy to front much of the capital necessary for your own switch to nuclear power, if necessary.”
We sat in a small room at a higher-end bar that hadn’t been ransacked like the others. The Yakuza boss sat further away from me, at the other end of the table. The one doing all the talking was an underling sitting closest out of all his delegation.
I mulled over their offer. “So this will be able to handle the entire island’s power supply, unlike those generators you brought?”
He bowed his head. “Yes.”
I thought about it a minute. “Why can’t we just steal the nuclear power plant itself?”
“Pardon me. Would you please rephrase the question?” he asked. Geez, don’t know what about that didn’t make sense.
“You have a nuclear power plant over there. I need it over here. What if we took it from over there and brought it over here,” I pantomimed grabbing something and bringing it back over to me to illustrate the point.
“It is a large building with foundations in the soil of Japan.”
I nodded. “I’m aware of this. The question remains the same.”
“We would be unable to perform this. We would gladly provide power to your island while you work out a plan,” he answered, likely expecting there’d be no plan. One had come to mind, but I was gonna need some manpower.
“I would be more than happy to allow your group to operate on the island in return for power, and in gratitude for having aided the people of Ricca so far. I hope we can have a fruitful relationship, devoid of extradition treaties and nosy law enforcement.” When we went to shake on it, I gave him a little soul to go with it. Some fries with that shake. Fist bump, up and down, finger wiggle, all that.
From there, it was back to the assembly of committees, or whatever name they gave themselves. “Yo, dudes and dudettes!” I called out. “How far along have we gotten?”
One guy who had been standing on a table in the cratered courtyard looked up. “We are the first National Constituent Assembly. As soon as we have resolved the shape the government will take, we will dissolve and the people will decide representation. Do you approve, my Emperor?”
Yeah, sure, why not? “I approve of the steps you take for the people.” And it’s incredibly easy for people to say and do horrible things in the name of the people. “I need the aid of those same people to help provide for them. Not everyone has returned to the service of their country.”
We lost a lot of people who had just been brainwashed. I didn’t send out any orders one way or the other. The Koreans didn’t make a stink about letting them go, so I don’t think they’d have tried too hard to keep them there. I bet others are on the fence about serving the guy who killed the fellow they were loyal to, maybe some are so loyal they’re staying there until the war is technically resolved. Oh crap, I left Beetrice to negotiate a multi-national treaty with my life on the line.
Anyway, I’ve got a handful of loyal supers actually on the island with shaky loyalties. I could spend way too long looking into that, or I could go ahead with a plan that doesn’t necessarily involve them. I chose to go ahead. It was cheaper this way. Well, relatively.
It was late at night when the workers and I approached first while the ship went on, picking up an order of inflatable rafts, rice, and whatever else people are buying up on Ricca. We had plenty of boats to get to the mainland ourselves, but a trashed island could always use a few million more.
It was night, but it turns out Ricca had a rich nautical tradition. Most of the guys got their boats to shore without a problem, save one or two collisions. They spread out and began drilling down with the equipment we brought. Miners, demolition experts, and so on. They didn’t have to go far enough to hit lava or anything like that. Just far enough to help break me off a piece of that Kit Kat bar. It took hours to get enough holes dug and loaded with the explosives. Meanwhile, I unpacked my armor and pulled it on, then commenced pounding anchors in and attaching heavy duty cables.
A lot of the guys were spreading worried chatter, especially after the night manager at the plant stepped outside to ask what we were doing there. After he saw the expansion blueprints and one of the resting workers who used to be a foreman gave him the runaround with some construction terminology, he went back inside to get us documents showing where all the ground cables were that left the site, just so we wouldn’t accidentally mess with any of them.
The foreman called me back over. “We need to go over these blueprints, with your permission.” I swung by there, trying to stay out of sight of the people inside as much as possible. After some consultation I had hardly anything to do with, they figured out we needed a few more holes and got to work. They knew what they were doing this for. I think it even excited them some to try this. I took some of the others to fix the last of our cables into place.
Our ride was that cargo ship returning. I’d given the captain and rather special crew extensive leeway with money and equipment. Many of them were former Riccan military who ditched the uniforms when the island was abandoned. They also knew the stakes, and that I was in a forgiving mood these days. When they came back, it wasn’t just with the ship we rode in on, now loaded with supplies. It was with five ships, some cargo, and at least one whaler. I didn’t get the best look at them in the middle of the night.
Those cables I planted earlier were run out to the boats, which most of the guys took back to the ships. Next came the part I least wanted to see. The more moving parts in any plan, the less likely it is to go off without a hitch, and we were running lucky so far. All this ships sitting around here would look suspicious to anybody whose job was to watch out for a bunch of strange ships not acting like civilian traffic. Except it was taking way too long to get the boats reloaded with some of those sailors and inflatables.
Our luck decided it ran far enough. “We have a problem,” said one of the captains, his voice coming through my earpiece. “They found us.”
“Any idea where they are?” I asked, even as I started hijacking satellites and tried to patch in to the Japanese Defense Force’s naval communications. Even my skills, you can’t just instantly break into Japan’s defense network that easily. Unlike the United States, they’ve been staying up to date. Their security could nab you so many different ways, you’d think you were surrounded by tentacles. Then things get really nasty.
Oh, sure, as if I wouldn’t make a tentacle joke about Japan.
“I’m on it,” said a digitally distorted voice. “I know right where they are. It’s called electroreception, and it’s why sharks are awesome.” That’s the happiest I’ve heard Silver Shark outside of sex. Made me a little jealous, as a matter of fact.
“The rest of us better step lively. Don’t go so fast you miss anything, but the coffee break’s over and now it’s time to use up some caffeine,” I said. The first wave of sailors began running around getting the inflatable rafts set up.
“All done. They’re dead in the water and sinking,” reported Silver Shark after a good twenty minutes. By that time, we’d gotten the rest of our ground team over.
I sorted through messages and found where they’d sent out a report about us beforehand. They didn’t get a distress call out, but they had called in backup. “We might see more company. I think it’s time to go. Last check, cables secure?”
The ships all answered in the affirmative. “Good. Looks like we got our part done. I think it’s time we blow this scene. Get everybody and the stuff together. Ok, three, two, one, let’s jam.” It seemed like the crack was louder than the explosions that caused the earth to reverberate under our feet. Alarms immediately blared from the nuclear plant, which the sailors flooded into. They were to make sure the night shift kept the place running. I’d considered a forceful evacuation instead, but we needed someone to run the place and train replacements.
Between the power of the explosions and the pulling of the ships, the power plant and a little bit of the land it sat on pulled off mainland Japan and into the water. Though auto-inflating rafts began to deploy around the edges, more were being swept underneath before opening.
It took the entire rest of the night to move the plant, but it finally settled into a small atoll just north of Ricca shortly after daylight broke. Nuclear power and atolls just go together in my mind for some reason. Natural fit. One safety check later and it was confirmed: the Empire of Ricca now has its own nuclear plant, and some new ships.
Welcome to Ricca. Our national motto: I swear, it fell off the back of a truck.