Ah, Giuseppe, Giuseppe, Giuseppe. Y’all didn’t think I just forgot about him, did ya?
I paid him a little visit on the 28th. It was better than waiting around at Double Cross Towers, waiting for Wildflower to swing her pretty green ass by and talk to me. Or calling me again. Crash is getting tired of me finding inventive new ways to disappear, especially when she’s trying to meet with me about the company’s decisions. She really didn’t like the time I buried my head under her skirt and she had to pretend I was an intern trying to get ahead by giving some head.
Finally, I hid where I knew she couldn’t find me: inside my power armor. For good measure, I took it for a spin over to Giuseppe’s workshop. I owed him a pleasant little visit to discuss the shoddy repair job he did on the time-stopping shrunken clock tower.
His toy shop looked like any other abandoned building would, because that’s a good way not to expose yourself to constant attention. However, such buildings also attract youngsters looking to break stuff for a good time, or perhaps gangs looking to hide out. At times like that, traps and guards are a reliable deterrent. Normally, a villain would simply contact him when they wanted to come over. He likely knew I wanted to hurt him, though, so I discounted that option.
I examined the shop from the next roof over. No skylight, but an old roof access trapdoor. I hopped onto the elevated edge and checked for anything to trigger an alert. Some of the roof looked raised up a little more than the others, including the area surrounding the roof door.
I checked the expected landing area and hopped directly on top of the trapdoor. Rusty metal. It made a little noise with my weight added to its edges. I picked up a scuttling noise starting and looked around. The raised sections of flat rolled roofing nearby moved, shifting around and crawling over each other. I balanced on one foot to avoid one of the scuttling thingies. My mad ballet skills have only improved as a woman. They roof shifted around so that they spread out and better covered the roof, but it also gave me a chance to open the door.
I planted my feet on either side of the door and bent forward so my helmet rested on a normal section of the roof. The 360 heads-up showed me some beetle-like critter moving a roof panel behind me, but that’s not why I did it. I eased up the trapdoor, scanning in low light and heat vision to detect any. It’s not unknown for people to rig grenades to that sort of setup. No go on the tripwires, so I stood up and opened it just enough to drop down and grab the top rung of the ladder.
My hands passed through empty space. I threw them to the sides, grabbing for the side bars. Those were still around, but the rough sections of cut rungs tore at my gloves.
Conniving old bastard. Problem is, he’s messing from someone better.
I’m not the leaves. I’m the whirlwind.
After arresting my fall, I checked down for anything else like laser tripwires. Yep, a grid of four farther down the shaft that formed a diamond shape in the center. Higher up, and they’d have screwed me. Luckily, I have good shaft control. What? I’m just talkin’ ’bout shafts.
The problem with using such sophisticated methods of intruder detection is that I am a sophisticated person. I’m a high-tech lowlife. Other people have to think up elaborate countermeasures; I just have to slip off a glove, give them a lovely caress, and ask them to please turn off while sending a false active signal.
Once past those defenses, I found myself in a room the size of a storage closet. After confirming the door was rigged with nothing more than a remote lock likely meant to activate when the lasers went off, I came out of the closet. And I looked FABULOUS!
Or I would have, if I hadn’t gone invisible. I doubted he had anything else at this point. Most security in these sorts focus on preventing entrance, not monitoring movement once inside. Though, just to be sure, I twisted the head off this evil little stuffed bunny sitting on a box outside the closet.
From there, I tried to reorient myself. To my right, storage and parts through an open doorway. To my left, the main work and display area, but with a closed door.
I turned the knob slowly and eased it open with great care. There he sat, hunched over his work table in the darkness. A pair of man-sized toy soldiers stood at attention by the wall. Seemed odd, him working in darkness like that.
I had two options: talk a whole bunch to make it clear what kind of shit Giuseppe got himself in, or kill him quickly and talk to myself afterward.
I crept up behind him and shoved my arm through his back. I missed his spine, my hand squeezing between two harder pieces of metal and smashing through something whirling in further inside him. This was a metal man, not Giuseppe. Should have checked the thermal imaging for traps.
The head of the fake Giuseppe rotated around, jerking three times until it faced me, a pair of red digital vertical slits. Then the right vertical slit opened into a circle. Then the left one became a circle and the one on the right became a nine.
I turned and slammed right through the door, bitchslapping a now-laughing stuffed bunny. The jump enhancers powered me up the shaft to the roof. I popped through the trapdoor and landed with a leg on either side of the entrance, then jumped for safety five buildings down and two stories up.
The building blew like desperate hooker on the Fourth of July.
Sitting there, watching the fire, I got a notification from The Order forums. Giuseppe informed everyone that he was pinged when his hideout went up and wished to let everyone know he was taking a sabbatical due to the existence of a prominent enemy in the community. Some of the folks were sympathetic to him, but others wanted to know if they could have anything he left over. Hey, if that bunny survived, they’re welcome to it.
I had more important things to do, like avoid the attention of my super ex-girlfriend, which went from a shitty Uma Thurman movie to a reason for me to avoid Wildflower.
I tipped her off. She’s going to want to know. It’ll be a big deal. And that means digging, whether I’m there to talk to her or not. She may like me, but she doesn’t “ignore that she’s a super-assassin” like me. In fact, most people get quite pissed when they find out you’ve lied to them about that sort of thing.
I probably shouldn’t have lost my cool at the party. I should have made something up real quick. It was just so incredibly stupid, after having given her a fake backstory, to tell her she didn’t know a thing about me.
It really shouldn’t have mattered to me outside of threatening the anti-alien plan. Might need to test my system for residual Sexahol or something. It’s a drug I encountered awhile back, part of a hero’s plot to turn the world into a hippie lovefest. I killed a few people under the influence of Sexahol.
Hey, I make one hardcore hippie.
Back to the Wildflower thing, I started to write a note when I returned to the office.
“Dear Wildflower,” Generic greeting #52
“I’m sorry for leaving you at the party the other night, but I don’t handle those sorts of large gatherings well.” I’m more comfortable when everyone around is either screaming, trying to kill me, or some combination of the two.
“But I realized I said something potentially earth-shattering.” And, for her, that would also be pants-shattening. My arrival in this dimension was thanks to a bomb meant to destroy a planet.
“There is more to me than I told you, and I’m worried you’ll hate me if I tell you. It matters to me that you don’t hate me.” Nope, nope, nope, nope. I Xed over the note and tried to put the entire thing out of my mind with TV. Seems the news was on, talking about one of those random things that happens to people who aren’t me.
“-moving away from a review of the attack on the Capital Building, we have Senator Powers, head of the Senate Comittee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Senator, what do you make of this attack and the suspect’s repeated claims to be working toward creating a better world?”
The reporter’s image was squished to half the screen. The other half cut to a balding man in a suit without a hint of a smile on his face. “That’s right. These super types genuinely believe that the destruction they cause makes the world better. I tell you what will make things better: mandatory super registration.”
“Pardon me, Senator, but why would supervillains register if they already break the law?”
“I’m glad you asked that. Remember, this man Max Muscles was a superhero until he decided to attack the Capital. This isn’t like guns. Superhumans don’t have an option to put down their powers. It’s something they live with their whole lives. Registration provides law enforcement officers with the tools to determine the extent of the threat they’re facing and it gives them an option to negotiate with individuals who otherwise remain anonymous threats. A superhuman registry means safety and security for parents of normal people and supers. It means people no longer fear the anonymous beings who live among us. It means superhumans can be trained to act responsible and held accountable in a court of law.”
“It doesn’t sound like your idea of registration maintains the secret identities of superhumans, Senator. Do you anticipate a problem with that from the superhero community?” The reporter asked.
“The most secure data encryption in the world, by the grace of God. Already, some of our patriots in tights are lining up to join a secure voluntary database for the good of the nation.” The Senator smiled a smug grin that looked better on a punching bag than an untouched human face.
I sent Crash an email to pull up some background info. Almost as soon as I sent it, she replied with a link to a background check on the company database. “A woman named Fortune Cookie convinced me you would need this,” she wrote.
Senator Powers. Home back in his state, where his wife and son are currently visiting with constituents. Daughter still at the Washington DC home. Daughter a double amputee after a super incident. Probably cheating on his wife. Based on party affiliation, possibly with another man. High internover rate. Recreational pot and cocaine user. Energy drink addict. Jointly owned by Israel and British Petroleum. Not a cat person.
Yeah, I can use this.
Crash texted me then, “I’ve finished booking hotel suites in Washington DC per Fortune Cookie. Do you need help packing?”
I had an evil little idea, ya see, and Fortune Cookie knew I’d have it whether she helped it along or not. So before I answered Crash, I gave Technolutionary, the mad scientist trying to recreate my abilities, a call. “How’s it going, amigo? Still alive, I see. Hey, where are we at on human testing? Just about ready, huh. Well, that should be close enough. Pack your bags, because I got the perfect candidate in the District of Columbia.”
Oh, don’t worry. I have no intention of giving the Senator superpowers. It’s very easy for a person to be a hypocrite when it’s just themselves involved. It’s another thing entirely when it’s their daughter gaining powers and the ability to walk again.
Trust me, it’s a lot more evil than it sounds.