With most of my spies tied up undermining the United States, we’ve had to transfer a lot of valuable people away from China, Hong Kong, and Japan. We can’t just fly people in to hunt for whatever supers are experimenting with the dimensional veil. Other villains on VillaiNet can only tell us so much.
Took a bit of work to get Apollo on the horn, too. “Yo, god-dude. I had some questions. You ever hear of something called the Dusk Club? Or some group like that?”
I couldn’t see his expression as he paused because we were on a standard phone call instead of a video call or smell-o-vision. “I will have to check? What are they?”
“I think they’re mages, unless they also somehow have advanced technology. They were active during the 20th century, but I’m not sure what they really do. Supposedly stop threats that cross the dimensional barrier, but they disbanded or died off before I ever showed up. I’m honestly surprised so many groups keep managing to sneak around for so long with nobody finding out about them. Like you guys, somehow managing to avoid detection for hundreds of years.”
“We use magic,” Apollo said. “There are spells that can prevent people from speaking about secrets and spells that can alter memory. The latter are fearsome if mishandled and wipe the mind of the sorcerer foolish enough to have tried them.”
Hmm. Interesting. I mean, yeah, it makes sense that the Hares used literal magic to avoid their conspiracy getting out. That’s an option NASA wouldn’t have if they filmed the moon landing on a sound stage. But more than that, Mr. Omega claims the people who evicted him from this dimension used that kind of magic. I wonder how much the successors of that group made use of that magic, if they had access to it. As was figured out by The Claw, being able to screw with people’s memories can open up all kinds of fucked manipulations.
“If you can ask around for me, it would be appreciated,” I told Apollo.
“How appreciated?” he asked.
“You like diamonds?” I asked. “I got a diamond here the size of your head.”
“That exaggeration is so common,” he said.
I looked to a stand in my study holding a small part of our mining operation on Uranus in the other universe. The diamond there could have been cut into a basketball. We can’t access anymore until the Telechamber is rebuilt, but it’s coming along. If it wasn’t for Omega, that thing would be such an awesome source of power and riches for us. Just look at Elvis. The old redneck’s sold out a new tour.
So despite all the power at my fingertips with Omega on my side, I have nothing to aim it at, a concern I expressed aloud in the hopes he or it was paying attention.
I had an easy day, with nothing to do but wait for everyone to get back to me. I was a few drinks into waiting when I got a report from the military base that Medusa was spotted sneaking around. So I figured I better go see what that’s about. She’s got the run of the place pretty well anyway, so sneaking means she’s doing something she doesn’t think I’d approve of.
I threw on my armor real quick and pointed an arm at my study wall. I holographically projected a tunnel on the wall and set a portahole in it so that I could walk through. Because when I get the chance to pull that shit, I do it. I stepped out near the outside of the base, looking up at the wall nearest to the base. If this was a movie or tv show, I’d have arrived just in time to catch her in the act. But this isn’t fiction. It’s dirty, wild reality, far stranger than any fiction.
I had to wait a few minutes before a rope latter came tumbling down the wall off in the distance. By the time Medusa shimmied down, she found me leaning on the wall next to her. “Hey there, beautiful. Who’s your friend?” I pointed up the shaking ladder at the prisoner climbing down after her.
She sighed and crossed her arms. Looking me right in the eye, she said, “A spy.”
“Why, my dear, are you breaking spies out of my prisons?” I asked.
I reached over as the spy in question came down and hopped the last few feet. He was a fairly round man despite not being fat, with wispy hair that lifted off his head easily in the breeze. His eyes seemed just a little too small. If this man was an international superspy who went around seducing beautiful women, he must have a hell of a talking game to make up for the handicap his body and faced gave him. He held a hand out toward me. I took it and he bowed, giving my armored hand a kiss on the back. “’Ello. Carter Brendleton. A pleasure to meet you. You a friend of ol’ Venus?”
Not a smooth talker. I pulled up his file from my guys. He’d been caught snooping around one of our “fishing” warehouses. An awful lot of interesting things get swallowed by fish. USB drives, gemstones, even some misplaced treasury printing plates. You never know what my guys will turn up when searching the fish. And you never know what spies will turn up when searching fish.
“You could say that,” I told him in regards to his question about being a friend of Medusa. “Psychopomp Gecko. I’m kind of a big deal.”
“Oh, Empress Gecko. You run the place. Very good. I don’t mean to be a bother,” he leaned in close. “But could I persuade you to not throw me in prison for inspecting fish?”
I put an arm around his shoulders. “Buddy, you’re accused of being a spy.”
Medusa walked up and put her arm around my other shoulder. “Babe, he’s actually a British fish inspector.”
“That’s what they all say,” I told her. “It’s clearly a cover story.”
“I am. Her Majesty has authorized me to investigate unusual fish imports that could endanger the British Isles. The Crown takes reckless fishmongery as a serious threat. First, the Krauts came for our fish. Then, our chips.” He held up a fist, getting a far off look in his eye as he locked his jaw defiantly.
Medusa nodded toward the Brit. “Why don’t you tell us about your favorite fish?”
“That is a complex question, of course, because most people think of osteichtyes, what are commonly referred to as bony fishes, but there is so much to love about chondrichtyes, or cartilaginous fish. And the amount of diversity between bony fishes is an added complication…”
Thirty goddamn minutes later, I had to put a stop before he could go into extinct species. I felt the distinct need to install a liquor dispenser in my power armor to make up for situations like this. I’m pretty sure the grass around us died of boredom. But Medusa’s point was made. She was fairly certain this guy was nothing but some sort of fish inspector, and now I was too. Problem was, we actually are smuggling things using fish. Forget coffee, there’s nothing that throws off anyone’s ability to smell like fish. And if you’re lucky, they don’t smell worse when they’re dead.
As an island nation, Ricca naturally has a long tradition of fishing. As a nation run by a supervillain, it also has a long tradition of smuggling drugs and other illegal goods either within fish they export, or in fish canned for export.
I left Brendleton to wax nostalgic about the good old days of giant bottom feeders to pull Medusa aside and quietly tell her, “This guy’s still dangerous to our business.”
“He’s a fish inspector. How dangerous is fish inspection?” she asked.
“It depends on if they find something fishy,” I said. I holographically projected secret film of a wild shootout at a dock that looked like an action movie, up until the amphibious tank tried coming to shore to fight guerrillas in yellow uniforms and white facepaint. It was blown apart by multiple anti-tank missiles and doused with flamethrowers to make sure. “That’s what happened the last time someone tried to figure out how McDonald’s sources the McFish. You don’t even want to know about the McRib.”
I started to show her the video of the Ghurkas heading into a deep jungle ambush but she waved me off. “You know you don’t have any reason to worry about a fish inspector. Stop wasting time on him and expel him from the island.”
“It’s the principle of the thing!” I said, holding up four pointer fingers.
She put her hands on my shoulders and looked me in the helmet. “Gecko, I know you can be better than this. You know you’re better than this. It’s time to be better, in the way only a badass can. Is it that you’re scared?”
I covered her mouth. “Not in front of the spy, honey.”
“I am barely a spy!” Carter said. “I do not even have my license to kill. I have a fishing license, however.”
Medusa moved my hand. “There’s no need to be afraid. I believe in you. And you have me by your side.” She winked and smiled, which felt awesome. But I didn’t like all this talk of me being afraid. That’s not what it was. I just had people to look after, and a family. A little girl counted on me to survive. Sure, I’ve hidden away millions of dollars worth of money to take care of her if something happens to me, but money can’t buy a p- you know, money can buy you a parent, but she’s too young for that kind of roleplay. She wouldn’t want to go back into the diapers.
More to stop from having this particular discussion, I relented and let Medusa officially deport the fish spy, with a warning that Ricca would prefer if the United Kingdom kept its grubby fish watchers to itself, lest they sleep with the fishes.
At that, Carter Brendleton stood up just a bit straighter. “I would never! I don’t know what rumors you have heard, but I do not shag that way.”
I left a message written on my HUD where Mr. Omega normally pops in at when he contacts me, letting him know that if he can show me roughly where those experiments in Japan took place, I’m more than happy to engage in a bit of widespread destruction. Me, afraid, hah!
I’ll show her. I’ll show them all!
I also need to tell Medusa to get her head off that arm. It’s starting to fall asleep.