The diver we detained sang like a bird. After he finished tweeting, Mix N’Max tweaked the formula a bit and got him to talk instead. I know, we didn’t handle things the way the civilized countries do, with waterboarding and torture. All we did was treat him ok to gain his trust then subject him to drugs that loosen his tongue, like savages.
“Who are you?” Max asked after giving the guy a hell of a dose.
“I’m a lance corporal with the United States Marine Corps,” the man answered, groggily.
“Yes, but who are you?” Max asked.
I stood outside the room, watching through a one-way wall. Basically, we had this thin fabric on the wall, something they derived from cuttlefish skin. A camera fed us a view that was put on a wallpaper-thick monitor. As far as the person inside was concerned, there weren’t mirrors for us to watch him through. You know, because we’re trustworthy here. And speaking of trust, Sam and Holly were standing on either side of me. Sam took a moment to tell me, “If anything happens to Max, I will choke a bitch.”
I waved off her concerns, but she added, “And you’re the bitch.”
“Yes, yes, sure, sure. You’re talking as if I haven’t choked more bitches than a big-dicked zoophile.” Come to think of it, I have slept with humans while male, so that’s an accurate description of me. No, wait. Huge-dicked. Megaladong, leviathan of the watery, moist depths.
I turned my attention back to Max and our captured Lance Corporal. “Enough with who he is. I want to know what he wants and why he’s here.” From my lips to Max’s ears courtesy of a thing in his ear.
It’s entirely possible that we have some folks around here who aren’t supposed to be. We’ve seen lots of naval activity in the area because of the island of Mu. They’re looking at the place. A whole new age of colonialism may well begin, but I’ve got first dibs because I married into the royal family of the Bronze City. With my own guys in place scouting around there, I think I’ve found some options for advancing them a little further along the tech tree and conquering the place. Truth is, it’s my ambassador who came up with that idea. Mine tend to involve turning them into super soldiers with enhanced muscles and armor embedded in their skin.
The guy we’d captured was nothing like that. Plain ol’ human. If he had any powers, he hadn’t used them. What he did have was a tongue he could use to tell us what was going on. “We were briefed that villains had gathered on Ricca. We are supposed to monitor the situation.”
“You would think they’d be glad to be rid of them for a time. Why do they care?” Max asked.
The marine shook his head, but also nodded. “Marco heard from his boyfriend who works the radio. He overheard one of the brass saying they think this is the same thing the last guy did.”
I realized he was talking about the Claw and the Unity drug. His people gave it to supers, blocking access to their long term memories so they could convince them they worked for him. So, I guess I hadn’t realized what this might look like to outside groups.
“Why are you here?” Max asked.
“I’m supposed to scout the island for infiltration,” he answered.
“Him and what army?” I asked Max through the earpiece. In my experience, recon marines don’t send in just one person to take a look. They typically operate in squads.
“Was anyone with you?” Max asked.
“My squad. You captured me, but they got the job done. We always do. Oorah!” He sat up straighter.
“I think we got all we needed out of this, Max. Hey, by the way, that stuff you gave him isn’t fatal, is it? Especially knowing you gave some to me.”
Max shook his head as he left the room. He waited until he was out of there to answer. “No, you’ll both be fine. Did you want to kill him yourself now he’s talked?” Max gestured toward the door.
I shook my head. “I have a better idea. I’m going to make an example of him.”
The next day, after he’d sobered up, I marched him right up to the docks. He stood there, hands tied behind his back. “Care for a final smoke?” I asked him as he faced the water.
“No. Let’s just get this over with,” the Lance Corporal responded.
Soon, a boat arrived with a group of pissed-looking marines aboard. Before they got too close, I offered again. “Seriously, man, you know this is good shit.” I held up a joint for the marine.
“I’ll be lucky if they don’t discharge me after this. They’ll probably stick me in Antarctica.”
I shrugged. “Yeah, sure. I bet they’ll reassign you even harder if you’re high. Hey there, fellas!” I waved at the incoming marines. “It’s not the halls of Montezuma nor the shores of Tripoli, but welcome to Ricca.”
They really wanted to use those pretty guns of theirs, but instead made sure not to point them anywhere near me. That’s the sort of thing that causes international incidents.
I pushed the Lance Corporal toward them. “As the leader of this fine nation, I gladly and publicly return your soldier and ask that the United States refrain from trespassing again.”
Drones with cameras hovered into view, recording and broadcasting for posterity and international viewership. It’s not a good day for the States’ military or its State department. Then again, what State department? They still haven’t rebuilt it after all the damage caused by the one Moron President last year.
The marines got their man back, the marine got to go back, I got information, and it looked like everything was one big happy, stupid deal. Thing is, I’ve been the devil in the deal before. I tracked them back to their ship and I put the drone guys on alert to check the entirety of the island. We’ve had visitors.
I mean that in two senses of the words. First, we’ve had these recon guys here. We’ve also had all these villains around. The two are linked, and not just because the latter caused the former to come out here. Having a bunch of unfamiliar people around makes it easy to sneak someone in to get a look.
I know, why bother? Not like we’re doing anything wrong here. But as a serial killer, I’m used to being misunderstood by people. They never want to see the good side of me. The caring philanthropist fighting overpopulation, for instance.
More than that, this is an opportunity. Lots of things are. Mistakes are opportunities to learn, for instance.
I took myself a walk out to the villain village. I saw that one guy again, the rocker dude with the occult tattoos. He had his glowing hands up as he directed these magical rock guys walking around, picking up litter. It looked so much cleaner around. Still had a guy sleeping on the fountain, but he hadn’t wet himself, and there wasn’t technically a pollution law in place to deal with the wet farts the guy kept ripping.
“Interesting powers. Magic, right?” I asked him.
He smirked and waved his hands around, shooting a burst of flame from his wrists. Then he returned to directing the little stone men. “I know what you’re wondering. Where did the lighter fluid come from?”
I chuckled under my helmet as I approached. “I’ve had a certain question on my mind lately, and I was curious how some other folks might answer it. A simple question with a complex answer, which is how you know it’s a real son of a bitch. Unfortunately, you can’t look in the back of the book for the answer this time around. What do you want?”
“I want to get this shit cleaned up because it stinks and I hate stepping on it. People were afraid to wear flip flops. Oh, was that the question?” When I nodded, he paused and looked off into space. After several seconds. “I want money and I want to have fun.”
“But why?” I asked, aware that question is far more annoying to most people.
“So see, I actually wanted to be the lead guitarist in a band. My friend and I called ourselves the Sex Change Psychopaths.” Dammit, they stole my band name. “It was just us two, so we weren’t a real band and we didn’t have instruments. We thought we could attract some real rockers if we made a kick-ass music video and then they’d teach us how to play, my man. My buddy, Robert, he said that wouldn’t work because we’d need to know how to play to make a kick-ass music video in the first place. And I’m all ‘Uh uh, man. We just need to go to a crossroads.’ He’s got this annoying little brother who wants to be part of the band and we didn’t want to let him, but we need him to drive us.”
I pulled a bag of popcorn out of my utility belt. “Sorry to interrupt, but can you warm this up for me?” I held it out to him.
“Sure, no probs.” He took the bag in his hands. They glowed red and the bag expanded amid a chorus of pops.
I took it back when he finished. “Thanks. Now please continue. You needed Robert’s little brother to drive you.” I moved my helmet up just enough to expose my mouth for eating the popcorn.
“Yeah, see I had a problem with this cop in town, Derek the Dickwad, and I got my license revoked. Rob kept failing the test, so that meant we had to go with Ralphy, Rob’s brother. We go out to this crossroads at night and do some stuff we read about online. Nothing happens, so we pack up and go to leave, but Rob’s pissed and makes Ralphy give him the keys. Rob’s leaving when he hits this guy’s goat. There’s some people out there who raise goats. We get out to check and see what Ralphy’s gonna have to get fixed and I notice the goat landed in the pentagram we drew. Then things get freaky as fuuuck. The car dies and we hear laughing and shit everywhere. We left some candles out there and they flare up, and Rob was too close. He’s on fire and gets too close to the circle and this hand just grabs him. I don’t remember anything until the next morning.”
He finished with his little stone men. With a gesture, they all marched over in front of one of the buildings and settled into place as little statues. “We realized we had these powers. We could do things, make shit happen. Ralphy, too, and he threatened us with going to the cops if he didn’t get in the band. We kicked ass for awhile, but Rob, man, it screwed with his head. He started murdering people, and I wasn’t into that. Ralphy wasn’t either. He and Rob got in a fight. Ralphy got hurt and Rob got away. Last I heard, he’s trying to find some way to end the world. Ralphy’s hunting him down and he’d sometimes come after me. I tried the band thing, but it started making me try to be like Rob and kill shit. So I became a supervillain to make money and be famous instead. It’s been wild.”
“So that’s it. Just money and fun. What about if you’re caught or killed?”
He pointed to his chest. “That’s what Hexadecibel’s about, my man! I’m Hexadecibel, by the way.” He didn’t bother with a handshake.
“Nice to meetcha. Say, I have a way you can earn some scratch. Depending on how your skills are, it might even be real easy.” I tossed the bag of popcorn away to the side.
“Hey, I just cleaned that. And I’m good. I can make these stone guys, I do stuff with sound. I’m not cleaning there again, but I’m the right guy.” Eh, not so much. The best guy for the job would have asked what it was before talking themselves up for it.
That became apparent to him when I put my arm around his shoulder and said, “Hexadecibel, I need you to get me a bomb. But not just any bomb. I need you to steal me a nuke, and I know just the American installation with a few to spare.”
It’ll be purely for hunting purposes, of course.