A lot of people say there’s no such thing as bad PR. I might have even said it once or twice. Those people are morons, whereas I was just making an offhand remark that in no way reflects on my intelligence. See my rule on hypocrisy for more clarification.
I didn’t intend to talk about hypocrisy, though. I wanted to talk about PR. Bad PR, for example, is not good. I recall a pair of conventions that say otherwise. Something about a Lord of the Rings scam artist leaving actors stranded, and then a ball pit on Tumblr. They were one-time things. I don’t want to be a one-time thing. I want to return, again and again, like a plague upon humanity. And that means having proper finger foods at big villain conference. That means clearing up some RSVPs. A lot of them are doing that themselves now that people are flocking in. Flocking, I say!
But I want to try again on one big potential flocker. A motherflocker, if you will.
I decided the best way to entice Ouroboros into an audience with me would be to stay in Paradise City and snob up the place. Just be as obnoxious as I could be. I’m there with my Dudebot, making a big show of attending all the local events. Paradise City isn’t exactly known for its theatre and musical events, but being a casino town has been good for it. It is technically an illegal casino, so it’s not like they can just bring headliners in there. That said, they had an excellent production of Cats, a decent Joseph’s Technicolor Dreamcoat, and the Amazing Johnathan. That’s his assessment. He put it in his damn name to preempt criticism, I’m sure. If I call him “The crappy Amazing Johnathan” it just confuses matters. Kinda like how Alexander the Great added onto his name to make sure he’d keep getting laid. Putz.
So I, the Great and Devious Psychopomp Gecko, went all around this place in robot form.
In my actual body, I was running around trying to arrange living space for our guests. It was hectic, since the best construction Ricca has had since I’ve taken over is a building for the legislature that’s still tent enough you expect tigers to jump through hoops in it. Given how much of politics is a circus anyway, I find it oddly appropriate.
The Directory was worried, too. Some of them were thinking about kicking people out of their houses, but I nixed that idea. Instead, I hit upon repurposing the Institute of Science. I really thought it’d work since Mix N’ Max was due on the island any day. To that end, I scrounged up a group of mercenaries in town plying their trade. Oh, I’m sorry, “Private Military Contractors”. Apparently the term’s gotten bad PR so they just changed names. Same for the company they work for. Shooting unarmed civilians instead of enemies can indeed be bad PR.
Mercenaries, you might ask? I’m fond of my own people by now. Plus, I’ve gotten reports that they’ve been restless and stirring up trouble. This is a win-win. Either I get it confirmed that the Institute’s safe and recover a lot of valuable equipment and lab space, or I rid the island of minor nuisance. It cost me a little, though. Darn private businesses, always trying to jack up profits while doing as little work as possible. And before anyone calls me a communist, just step back and try to prove me wrong.
That’s what I thought.
I did at least warn these guys that elevators would likely be out of order. They loaded up on scout drones, flashlights, and rappelling gear, then disappeared into the Institute of Science. It has been a few days with no word from them. Their company refuses to give me back my deposit. Filthy vultures. That’s their company motto, too. Vulture Company: filthy vultures.
On the plus side, we’ve been gouging them on ammunition.
With that plan gone horribly right in the way less advantageous to me, the day was saved by one of the Directors from the delegation handling foreign affairs. They failed to get me a date with European models or American actresses, but one of them remembered that time he tried to get a Swedish businesswoman to drop by my palace for a drink. That didn’t happen either, but she did have a friend at Ikea who is into some pretty freaky stuff. That fellow was able to ship over some of the new Ikea apartments.
Then things got really heated. It wasn’t cost. Turns out we aren’t doing too shabbily in terms of finances. Thanks to the Deep One immigrants, we have treasures from the sunken depths and exotic foods seen nowhere else. The Island of Ricca; the world’s only source of giant calamari, authentic Japanese World War II paraphernalia, and currently auctioning off Amelia Earhart’s plane.
No, money wasn’t the issue. The damn Swedes just forgot to ship us any Allen wrenches, and my guys say they skimped on nuts. There was one fellow who was pretty sure they gave us more sides than anything else, but it turned out he’d been from a part of the island with weird ruins on it and had… difficulties… with Euclidean geometry. The Director overseeing the whole thing was nervous about seeing me about the issue, what with the perception of how supervillains handle failure. Dude was super relieved when I asked if there was any way I could help the whole thing along.
He let out a relieved sigh as he stood up from his bow. “Empress, it would honor me if I could have your assistance, but I do not know how you will take the suggestion.” He looked me over.
“What?” I asked, putting my upper, public pair of arms on my waist and controlling the urge to do so with my newer arms. “I’m not going to choke a bitch just for chatting with me. Spit it out!”
“Perhaps if you were to speak with them as the sovereign of our great nation… and threaten them,” he suggested.
“Like, with trade embargoes, or the usual threats?” I asked, standing up off the recliner on my Directory dais. Threats sound like fun.
“I believe you would be effective if you threatened them as a supervillain. Then my requests would look more reasonable in comparison.”
“Sold!” I said, jumping up. “Let me get the armor on.”
“Do you need it on?” he asked.
I gave him a patronizing pat on the head before stepping down from the dais. “Of course not, but it’s either the armor or cocaine. There’s a method to this.”
That brings me to the phone call with the Ikeans. I had my new armor on. Yes, I said new. I’d kept the old, two-armed version I’d been using, made sure it was getting proper cleaning. I had the nanites build me a similar copy that better reflected my current body shape. Ya know, boobs, lack of Mr. Dangles, extra pair of arms. That’s what the Directory got to see as I stepped up to the monitor of their own personal communications screen. The Ikeans had one of their own, it turned out. They sold some now.
“Alright, let me tell you… whatever your name is,” I started off.
The guy I was helping whose name I didn’t catch whispered, “Her name is Sjoberg. Mrs.-.”
I held up a hand toward him. “Enough of your idle pratter, minion number 4479! And no covering for little miss snowberg here or however the pronounce names up there in Christmas Town. If you think you’re going to doublecross me, the Great and Devious Psychopomp Gecko, then I have news for ya. You aren’t safe in your little ice castle up there, Elsa, so any fantasy you have of surviving my wrath, just let it go. I am the end times in human form. I will unleash upon you and yours a plague of endless suffering. I will swallow the moon and piss the sun out of existence if it means having my revenge upon you. If I have to beat every last pasty son of a bitch to death in your albino paradise of a country just to get my hands on you, I will, and nothing can stop me. Not an atom bomb, not a power bomb, not even a D-bomb. So you drink your milk and say your prayers, because if you don’t give me what I want, I’ll make meatballs out of you. I’ll take a fistful of those meatballs and I’ll shove them right into your mouth through your anal cavity. I will make that happen, no matter how much I have to break physics to do it, you hear me?!”
I saw part of the monitor on their end actually fall apart before the picture went black. I let the Director handle it from there. He managed to get ahold of her and, from the snippets I heard as I headed back to my recliner, she was much more inclined to listen to him at that point.
Now, with my imperialistic desire for living space quenched, I had time to throw my consciousness back to Paradise City.
Willie Nelson was flying into town. A guy like him doesn’t necessarily mind taking criminal money, especially in a state that’s becoming friendlier toward legal weed. Aurelio Cuerno’s sources heard he was in town for a private show for Ouroboros himself. Well, suddenly there was reason for me to show up at that airport and see if I might meet Mr. Nelson himself.
I almost broke my cover. According to the holograms, I was a baggage handler, but I nearly jumped up to try and save the plane when I saw the way it smoked on its descent. Just trailing smoke like you wouldn’t believe. Thing is, no one was putting out any emergency radio transmissions and the plane was flown perfectly. Well, then the plane taxied over close by and the door opened with a huge puff of smoke. Soon, Willie Nelson helped himself down the steps, smiling. He turned to an aide with him and said, “And that’s how you make a mile-high hotbox. Now, who’s hungry?”
The three others with him all raised their hands. As for me, I wheeled on up to the base of the stairs. I had a cart in front of me with a large, hard case on it.
“Nice to meet you son,” Willie said, holding out a hand for a shake. I grabbed it, threw him in the bag, zipped it shut, and started running. Somebody from that plane took a shot at me, but I didn’t get a good look. From the magnitude of their miss, neither did I, and probably for the same reason: there was a shitload of smoke drifting out of that plane.
Well, I haven’t harmed Ol’ Willie. He and I are sitting around here in a nice penthouse Cuerno let me borrow. I had the drones fly in some of what the growers in the cemetery are calling Riccan Royal for the fellow to enjoy in between shooting the shit and feeding him more food than his skinny frame can possibly hold. Sure, he wasn’t happy at first. Once he figured out I didn’t intend any harm to him and would be letting him loose, he mellowed out in a hurry. That, and he confessed he’d had himself a special lollipop or two on the ride over as well.
Just to make sure Ouroboros got the message, I hired one of the freelance pilots to send him a message. A little skywriting, just to make sure he’d know who to contact. Big message in the sky read, “I got your Willie!”