In the end, we were able to settle on three spots to hit for everything my guys needed. The guys Hu had selected weren’t too bad at their research.
Bayani Tiu had been working in the field for some time. Hu’s research showed he had some authority issues, but those mainly cropped up when he thought the authorities in question were being dumbasses. That was in the file like that, but it also included an incident where he got a safehouse and a few other agents captured due to his recklessness. He had a tendency to drink and sleep around more than his superiors felt was important to his cover and missions, but he’d been in the game a long time, knew what he was doing, and he’d been promoted a few times despite himself. He’d disdained protocol and standard procedure just as much in those cases, leading to a great deal of success and angry superiors knocking him down the chain before reassigning him. Despite his penchant for property and vehicular damage, Tiu managed to blend in with his cover after The Claw’s death until Hu got a hold of him.
The other fellow went by Pagan. Just Pagan, no other names. No mention of his religion in the file, but Ricca’s not the sort of place where someone takes that as a name to be edgy. He hadn’t stood out as much as Tiu. He did his job and didn’t make waves. Whereas Tiu had actually been better at sabotage or stealing information, Pagan had distinguished himself in assassinations and observation. He had a black mark early on from a witness spotting him escaping. They almost saved the victim then, but a follow-up got the guy. Pagan had made up for his previous failure by bombing the guy’s hotel room. Ruined any chance of the death being seen as natural causes, unfortunately. After that, he’d devoted himself to trying to be as undetectable as possible, which caused a hiccup or two in cases when silence wasn’t an option. He moved up in part thanks to his friendly nature and his efficency. He turned out to be good at the schmoozing and was an efficient leader. Hu, ever the bureaucrat, didn’t seem to rate the politicking all that highly. He also noted that Pagan’s record managing a team wasn’t quite as good at pulling out impossible victories as Tiu’s.
Hu wouldn’t have sent me these guys as potential picks unless they were capable and I got to see it during the planning of our little raids. Tiu made a few catty comments but that was all the friction either of them showed. Tiu even had the good sense not to hit on me. They both agreed on not running all three raids at once, even.
“It’s not necessary and it creates more attention. Three raids on three facilities at the same time is the work of a major threat.” Pagan noted. “Better to space them out.”
“Agreed,” Tiu said. “I prefer having backup if something should go wrong and it decreases the likelihood that whoever is coordinating will make a mess of it should that happen.”
Despite being pretty sure that wouldn’t happen with me around, they made good points. I was going to defer to them anyway, give them enough rope to hang themselves however they want to run their stuff, so this works anyway.
The three targets we picked were chosen for each having an abundance of the equipment we needed, with some overlap. If someone didn’t do as well as expected, another team can try to pick up the slack. Site One was a college in Japan with a name translated as something like the Kyoto Emerging Technologies University. Not everything fits perfectly into English. If it wasn’t known to be a proper noun, Mephistopheles would keep popping up in English as “Not-light-loving”. Kyoto’s one of the major areas for academy in tech-related fields, complete with state of the art research labs. The Japanese aren’t only obsessed with robotics; they put a lot of work into studying geology, biotech, miniaturization, and so on.
Site Two is a warehouse belonging to the PangTong Group in Shenzhen, China. Shenzhen’s one of the top cities in China for electronics manufacturing, with PangTong working on equipment for all sorts of testing. There’s no guarantee it’ll be full or have everything they can produce in there, but it seems like a good place to nab a lot of it.
Finally, Site Three takes us all the way to Hyderabad, India. Yeah, three different countries may seem like we’re spreading this out too much, but they all dislike each other with their own reasons to avoid collaboration and information sharing. Hyderbad’s more useful for what we need to get in relation to chemistry, biology, and pharmacology. It’s the pharmaceutical capital of India, and this huge company called HealthCon has a campus there devoted to studying drugs and producing knock-offs.
None of the targets were all that heavily guarded. Probably some decent protection to keep most regular folks from just wandering in, but nothing on the level of mercenaries or military. Supers were always a possibility, but there’s only so much that can be done there. Or that’s what I could have said before VillaiNet.
The villain social media hadn’t been abandoned or imploded yet, so I did my part to keep the cogs turning. I hired a few local villains to pull off other heists in the area. They didn’t even need to be successful, though I told the guy I sent after a bank to go ahead and keep whatever he took from it. Thus it was that I was flying in with a raid team of Riccan soldiers in the back of a Psycho Flyer. The new uniforms and flyer weren’t known outside the country, probably. Even if they were, I had plans to sell some to criminals anyway. Inferior versions, of course.
The flyer cut through the bright night and came in fast, the pilot flying low as he navigated the Kyoto skyline. Emerging Technologies U spread open below us, the buildings to be hit glowing faintly in our augmented reality HUDs. They were across a short stretch of campus from each other, with a sculpture off to the side of a chicken-legged robot with a squat, oval body and three-fingered manipulators on the end of its arms.
I reached up to a cable against the wall and took hold of it with both my left hands. One push of the release later and a trapdoor opened, as opposed to the rear hatch coming down. I tugged the stubborn cable along with me and hopped through the rounded floor opening. The cable didn’t roll freely, so it slowed my descent enough not to fuck up my legs even if I had a normal human bone structure. As soon as I hit the ground and let go, I radioed back up with “Clear.”
The cable zipped back up and disappeared through the hole. The rest of the team just opened the rear hatch and came down that way with another couple of cables and these little zipline things they attached for controlled descent. Slightly less quick, but nice and easy. “Spread out and let’s get this done.”
I figured the university would be a good test run out of the three. That’s why I came along. That, and I really wanted to hit people. That’s why I grabbed some girl walking by, seemingly unaware of everything with her eyes glued to her phone and earbuds in, and knocked her the fuck out with a punch. She woke up after a minute and ran off crying, and a very stupid part of me hoped she’d somehow bring me a fight. Plus, I keep constantly hearing how college students are destroying the world, despite also being weak. You know, kinda like how the Jews supposedly run the world while being racially inferior, or how women are physically weaker and less intelligent but control everything. Odd how that theme keeps being used, especially when there’s someone like me around to be an even bigger threat to the world than any of them… well, when I’m not busy being a woman, that is. Kinda proving that one, I guess.
Back to the action, unnecessary fights aren’t something I should hope for, actually. Better chance that this would go wrong. Like, for instance, when alarms started going off once the men broke through some doors or something. I was hanging out in front near the sculpture when the sculpture stood up.
So let’s just go ahead reclassify that from sculpture to chicken-legged autonomous walker. It turned to me, it’s almost-egg body devoid of any identifiable facial structure- oh, there it was. A frowny face appeared in a yellow circle, then became a face with an inquisitive, raised eyebrow. It called out in Japanese. “There is a crime in progress. Identify yourself. You have twenty seconds to comply.”
I gave him four middle fingers. “Kiss my ass you piece of shit bastard afterbirth of a Circuit City-”
“You now have 15 seconds to comply.”
“-fuck your motherboard right up her universal serial ass, bend her over, and dump out another load of you. Then I’ll raise you to be the sort of moron who goes to religious colleges so you can learn how Xenu created a flat earth.”
“You have five seconds to comply. Four. Three. Two. One. I am now authorized to use physical force.” The walker’s manipulators flattened out along the sides of its arms and a pair of barrels extended. The face on its front shifted to a red-faced emoji with gritted teeth. The infamous constipation emoji. It stepped one leg over to take a more stable stance before firing at where I stood. Plumes of dirt exploded into the air as shot after shot killed the crap out of some grass. Didn’t do much to the hologram it’d been shooting at, though.
I jumped onto its oval body from its spheroid main body from behind, arms glowing. The two lower arms smashed holes in big enough for me to get a grip and hold on. The walker tried to turn and swing me off, but those chicken legs weren’t the most agile thing around. I came down hard with my upper right, cracking down into it. I punched further with the upper left. Amazingly, that didn’t put the walker out of the fight. So I popped the heads off a couple rubber chicken grenades and shoved them into the hole.
I flipped off it and landed on my feet. The walker turned and fired wildly, so maybe I hit something. “What’ll hit first?” I asked. “The chickens or the egg bot?”
It adjusted its aim and then exploded.
The roof of one of the buildings exploded as well, but that was for a different reason. After the men loaded up the smaller stuff, the flyer lifted off to hang over the opening. Some of the men dropped cables while those on the ground attached a bulkier thingamabob. That’s probably not the technical name. Only once they got it up and the rest of the men were onboard did I take a running jump to land on the flyer’s ramp. Just before I closed the door, I spotted something approaching in the air. Small, man-sized, leaving behind a rainbow streak in the air.
“Pilot, we have a flying super on approach. You able to outrun?”
“Close the hatch and I’ll leave them sucking my exhaust,” he responded.
I punched the button for the hatch to close as a Japanese man with cat ears and clawed gloves flew closer. As soon as it was closed, the flyer shot forward. Amazingly, the whatchamacallit down below didn’t tear off the cables. Even better, the pilot managed to swerve between a pair of skyscrapers without smacking our cargo into one of them. Hell, I think we had more problems inside with some of the stuff that was less secure trying to scoot around and smash us. The flyer steadily inched further and further away until we got out over the ocean. At that point, it zoomed on out of there. The hero didn’t have a chance. I don’t know how long before he turned back, because he had no shot of catching us at all by then.
And so the day wasn’t saved by Nyan Man, the Psycho Flyer proved itself, and I wrecked a grad student’s thesis project. I might have to recruit whoever built the thing, because I’m still thinking of the future, and of that Mot guy who’s going to show up and start eating supers. I’d rather stick a bomb on Nyan Man and let him get eat, then unload on Mot with an army of giant robots. And since I didn’t fight Nyan Man, I may still get that chance.
Ladies and gentlereaders, I have a dream.