“We are now on day three of Richard Avast’s reign of terror. The once-billionaire’s assets have been attacked and seized all over the globe by supervillains. The eccentric Avast threatened retaliation with, quote, ‘every super weapon in my collection,’ prompting governments to open investigations into his and his company’s holdings,” the news went on and on. Nobody’s talking about what kind of superweapons Avast has, which would actually be useful. I’m guessing nobody wants to cause a panic, which is itself causing panic. No concrete monster can match the uncertainty of the human imagination.
But since he buys stuff up from famous sci fi franchises, that limits the pool of potential weapons. Or it would, but until recently he’d been kidnapping supervillains and stealing their technology. We’re not sure what he’s doing on that. Some of the other villains on VillaiNet swear people are still disappearing, but I wouldn’t put it past a few of those to lie for some sort of advantage.
For the next couple of days, anytime all hell broke loose, it was blamed on him. I can’t say for sure if he had anything to do with that zombie attack in Indonesia. Guatemala’s an odd choice for a bunch of gemstone monsters to appear. I do think the weird sentient cellphone robots of Portugal might have been him, but these were old and the only ones that gave anyone any trouble were the night-indestructible Nokias. I’ve fought some like that before, so it sounds about right.
And yeah, I may have been part of Exemplar operations to try and stop shit from going down. I want to get in on the space mission, and one of them actually gave me a way in.
Medusa called me into a special mission along with some of her higher-up Exemplar, along with Decimal, Darklight, and a pair that were Feds. They looked like FBI desk jockeys, but they identified themselves as “Office of Superhuman Resources, Paranormal/Superhuman Crimes Division. It’s a new division created to handle investigations without being an armed assault team if you will.”
I looked to Medusa. “They’re cool,” she assured me. “The PSCD is new, but they have established people. Some of them used to work in the FBI and still have access to leaked information. Would you care to explain, Agent Fi?”
The skinny guy who’d introduced them nodded. “I’m Agent Marcus Fi, this is Agent Nita Clark. Agent Clark used to monitor the military for disloyal white supremacist activity. There are several who admire Mr. Avast in the circles they talk in. He has reached out to them. They think the apps are secure, but we have him scheming. Some soldiers at one of the bases are going to leave a silo open and let Avast teleport a nuclear missile out.”
I shook my head. “Boring. Super technology, zombies, self-aware cell phones… and he settles for nukes. Ask Japan, it’s been done.”
Fi kept speaking. “The theft is scheduled to take place during an inspection and drill. Slowing down the closing process won’t raise alarms until missiles start disappearing.”
“This is where I step in,” Agent Clark said. Pretty young, but then that can be hard to guess with some people. At least government killjoys are diverse. “We could go in and break things up. However, doing that loses us an opportunity to get to Mr. Avast. We can work together to infiltrate his space station, but we don’t know what the situation will be like up there. We need someone who can sneak in, analyze and adjust to the changing situation, with the ability to handle exotic technology so we don’t wreck everything.”
She looked me right in the eyes as she stepped forward and I had a sudden realization that more cleavage of hers was showing than most Federal agents would normally show. She ended up close to kissing distance.
“Wow,” I told her, “I know what you’re doing and, for the record, you’re doing a great job at it.”
She smiled at me. Red lipstick. She wants me thinking of those lip. “Thank you. See, redemption is a process. You can’t do something once and promise to-”
I held up a hand. “I’ll do it. No need for the emotional gut punch and inspiration. My question is how do you want Dicky boy cooked: well-done, deep-fried, scrambled, or rare?”
That’s how I ended up pretending to be some sort of military brasshole in a military convoy that didn’t actually have to go far. Flyover country is loaded with nukes if you look in the right spot, a relic of the Cold War. I was piled into the back of an SUV with Decimal, Clark, and Fi. At least I didn’t have to wear these stuffy uniforms like the rest of them did. And one benefit of having government aid on this was all our credentials were in order. Darklight was the driver in case things didn’t hold up. She would stay ready outside in case the team inside needed muscle. That wasn’t my role this time. My part was as simple as slipping off to the restroom with Agent Clark.
“You don’t have to babysit me,” I told her.
“I know,” she crossed her arms and headed to the stall. She reached into her pocket and pulled out a keycard. “This is a fail safe key for this base. I’ll need that back after this is done.”
I snorted and took it. “That it?”
I shrugged. “Whenever you’re ready. I head out after you and I’m gone.”
She nodded. “Give me a minute.” She took her time using the bathroom, washing her hands, fixing her makeup and all. She had a nervous energy about her.
“You don’t normally do this, eh? What, they have you spying on BLM protesters somewhere?”
Agent Clark gave me a sharp look. “I want to help people. I did this job to protect protesters from bootlicker dick weasels like we’re dealing with. You’ve probably tried to kill all of those BLM protesters when you tried to take over the world, so don’t act like you’re righteous here.” She even pointed a finger at me.
“There you go. Been wanting to say that since you pretended to flirt with me?”
“Flirting’s part of the job,” she said, stepping past me and running a finger along the chin of my helmet. Her mood had shifted like that. “But someone who decided to grow a conscience yesterday does not get to pretend they’re better than me because of the job I do to protect people. You ready?”
I nodded and disappeared. She went her way, the anger at least curing her of some of her nervousness. I could say that was the intention all along, but it wasn’t. I feel much better knowing where I stand with her instead of sussing it out. We stayed together only part of the way until she branched off. I headed a different direction, the failsafe key making it the easiest damn thing in the world to get into the silo. They could have done this without someone so skilled at remaining invisible.
I ran into a teensy bit of trouble in the corridor leading to the nuke itself. They had some guards there, both in a booth and beside the door. Ordinarily, they’d be a lot more casual, but this was inspection day. That’s the kind of day when you notice the door in front of you opened and closed on its own. The two next to the door pulled firearms: they were packing recent upgrades, the MHP220. Based on a Mac-10, they built it for heavier wear and tear, a higher caliber, and better accuracy. It was still big, but it could penetrate my older armors in between giving these guys sore hands.
The guy in the booth looked at them and the direction I came from. I already had drones deploying to sit in front of the cameras and show them nothing much happening. I gave a short little banshee’s screech, paralyzing the guards. The guards all fell over, the one in the booth failing to hit the alarm. Nanomachine tendrils reached out and jabbed through thin air and bulletproof glass alike to plant themselves in their chests. They were dead the moment their hearts were shredded, but a small group of the nanites were left behind to keep them standing and pretend to be alive, while the ones that pulled out fixed the holes they’d left in the first place. The drones followed after me and settled onto my shoulders.
Despite my giddiness at the thought of taking on more Nazis, I didn’t really intend to do a lot of killing at this stage. For this part of the plan, I was more into masking myself with holograms while I cut into the nuke.
Part of my job was to get transported with the nuke. Another part was to disable it. This one was thermonuclear, which means it involves fission and fusion. More powerful, but still ultimately depending on the fission bomb detonating in order to power the fusion reaction. The implosion-method fission device itself requires the explosives ringing it to work. Bing bang boom. Or no boom, in this case. A distinct lack of an earth-shattering kaboom. The nuke would be a dud. The really difficult part was hiding in the fuel tank. They didn’t keep it topped off, but I was glad my armor was sealed and capable of some self-sufficiency for awhile.
Decimal’s voice broke in as if he was talking to someone else. “Good, it’s about time we’re starting. This is going to take long enough as is.” Then he was gone again.
I played some pong with myself. A bit of Forager. A few hands of Poker Night 2. So it ended up taking almost an hour for them sirens to sound and another update from Decimal. “They open just fine, good. How do they close?”
I hadn’t been sure, see, if the sirens were over the opening or over something happening. Though I guess if the base’s alarms went off, I’d know I wasn’t there anymore by their absence. Which… had just happened. Things were quiet. I checked my global positioning system and it told me I wasn’t on the globe. I slipped out of the nuke and found myself in a large storage room full of so many damn weapons and armors and costumes and gadgets.
“Gecko, do you read?” Medusa asked. Unlike the people back down in the silo who were now pretending to be bewildered, the Exemplar base Medusa was at had the ability to make contact with outer space.
“I read. I am in a fucking treasure trove and I really want to go hog wild up here.”
Unfortunately, there weren’t any convenient windows. “Uh, scratch that Medusa. First, I have to find a door. If they have one.” I grabbed a nearby magneto-gun. Neat little tool someone came up with for bank robberies that never caught on because of its size and power requirements. And I guess the need to catch a chunk of steel on the magnet and hold it up, or turn off the magnet and duck the metal flying at you while holding a hefty device. “And if I can’t find one, I can damn sure make one. After a proper amount of time to arm up.”