The New Adventures of a Deposed Dictator

Story Recap: While on vacation, the supervillain Photius encounters a superhero also on vacation. That hero is Bad Penny, and the two have a history. Specifically, Photius has killed Penny six times over the course of their careers. With that history, the two spend a few minutes catching up and threatening each other before getting down to the inevitable combat. Their conversation is interrupted before the fisticuffs by some sort of commotion down by the beach.

From the sea, a leviathan threw its head high into the air and roared.

Both Photius and Bad Penny turned to look at the monster.

“Huh,” Photius said. “Were you stalling me so he could show up and help you defeat me?”

“What? No,” Bad Penny said.

“Oh. Because that would have been brilliant.”

Bad Penny jumped up and raced his way around the pool. Photius left his deck chair and followed, his flip-flops thwoping mightily beneath his ground-devouring stride. Penny reached the reached his towel and bag and began rummaging through the latter.

“The monster is over there,” Photius pointed out.

Penny cocked his head at Photius and pulled a strap out of his bag. Attached to the middle of the strap was a smooth block of black plastic with two gold prongs sticking out of the front.

“Ah. Your wrist-mounted Van De Graaff generators,” Photius said, swiping the device.

“My lightning guns,” the hero growled, pulling a second one out of his bag.

Photius fiddled with the one he held and said, “Penny, I assure you, that description of them is even less accurate than the one I just gave.”

“Give me that back,” Bad Penny said, strapping the second one to his wrist.

“You want me to fight that monster unarmed?”

“You’re going to help me?” Penny asked skeptically.

“I was willing to kill you for interfering with my vacation. What makes you think I would offer the sea creature an exemption?”

“Right,” Penny said sourly, snatching the first gun back from Photius.

Down at the beached, the screams had died down as the bystanders cleared out. The staff and guest around the pool had also run away, leaving Bad Penny and Photius by themselves. The monster bellowed again and shuffled further onto the beach.

“You’re going to let me run into a fight with that thing with just what I’m wearing?”

Penny looked him up and down. “Personally, I’d lose the flip-flops.”

“Fair enough,” Photius said, stepping out of his shoes. “Give me a second to hit the bar before we head down there.”

“Why, is that thing allergic to alcohol or something?” Penny asked, watching the supervillain walk over to the poolside bar.

“No. I just need something sharp,” Photius said, holding up the knife the bartender had been using to cut  lemons. “Now we can go.”

Story Recap: Interrupted on his vacation by a man he has killed over half dozen times, Photius has annoyed his enemy into preparing for a fight.

Bad Penny flipped his coin.

The change was not quite instantaneous. Penny’s shape blurred as his superpowers consumed his body. Photius had seen high-speed footage Technefarious had taken of Bad Penny as part of one of their projects right before Penny’s fourth death. It had not been very illuminating. In one frame, he was a regular person. The next began a period of human-shaped copper-colored blur. When the distortion clear, Bad Penny stood the transformed creature that stood before him now.

Creature, Photius chided himself, was overstating the range of the change. Bad Penny was still human-shaped, even if that shape was entirely covered in untarnished copper. It was the lack of regular features on his head that made him look alien. Instead of hair and ears and a face, the superhero’s head was a mess of gouges and scars, some deep enough that they should have caused brain damage when they were inflicted.

“Feel better?” Photius

“Yes,” the metal-clad man answered, pulling himself out of the water.


They were attracting a few stares, now, although not much alarm. Superpowers were uncommon enough in their world to still be super, but not so rare that only those that enjoyed slugging each other while wearing costumes were the majority of those with them.

“I’m still not interesting in fighting you,” Photius said.

“You’re under arrest,” Penny announced.

“No, I’m not. I’ve proven over and over again that you can’t take me on your own. If you walk away right now to get help, I’ll kill you before you can reach it. So, no, I am not under arrest.”

Bad Penny loomed over him.

“Oh, sit down,” Photius said. “Here’s what you do: Humor me for a while. Pretend that we reach an agreement. After you walk away, call in someone to nail me.

“Really, that should be obvious. You’d make a terrible supervillain, Penny.”

The superhero considered it, then sat on the edge of the beach chair next to Photius’s.

“So, how have you been? Last time I saw you, you were dead,” Photius said.

“Fine. Heaven is nice, but I wasn’t done here yet.”

“How’d you get back?”

“Freak Weatherballoon accident. My teammate Weatherballoon was flying through a storm, and a bolt hit a penny he was carrying.”


“Reincarnated twenty miles up in bad weather.”

Photius winced. “Ouch.”

“Left a dent in the ground.”

“Got your civilian life back together?”

“More or less. I’ve done this a few times, so that helps.”

“Here with a girlfriend?”

“Parents. I wanted to spend some time with them.”

“Good for you.”

Bad Penny leaned in on Photius.

“What?” Photius asked.



“You will not harm them.”

“Oh. No, of course I won’t. Penny, how often do I target bystanders or civilians? I’m not saying there’s never been collateral damage to one of my hits, but if I wanted to hurt you, I would hurt you.”

Bad Penny leaned back.

“Besides,” Photius said, “I’m on vacation.”

“You’re going to have to vacation somewhere else.”

“So I’m gathering,” Photius said sourly.

There was a commotion down on the beach.

Penny ignored it. He said, “You’re right. I can’t take you. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to pass up a chance to make sure someone else gets a shot a you.”

The screams now originating from the shore were not quite enough to pull the hero and villain away from their conversation.

“I said I wouldn’t kill bystanders. However, I specifically said I would kill you,” Photius said, sitting up.

From the sea, a leviathan threw its head high into the air and roared.

Both Photius and Bad Penny turned to look at the monster.

“Huh,” Photius said.

Story Recap: Dr. Photius Callaway, the Killing Man, is taking a vacation after being deposed as the leader of the criminal organization Technefarious. His vacation is interrupted when he discovered a superhero is staying at the same hotel.

“Bad Penny. I wondered when you’d turn up,” Photius taunted.

The man standing in the pool frowned at him. “Very original. It’s almost as if that was the first time I’d heard that.”

The supervillain rolled his eyes. “Well, I’m sorry if I’ve started to repeat myself. There’s only so much new material for clever banter that I’m willing to work on for a person I’ve already killed five or six times. Eventually, I would think you’d stay dead.

“How did you come back this time?”

Penny ignored the question and leaned forward, one hand gripping the edge of the pool. “What are you doing here, Photius?”

“I’m here on vacation, just like you are, I assume. Although, I suppose it’s possible that you have a new power source the requires swimming trunks and hotel pools.”
“No,” he said, taking his other hand out of the water. “It’s the same as it’s always been.” At that distance, Photius could only see that there was a small copper coin between thumb and finger, but he knew the coin would be gouged on both faces.

“Well, since we’re both on vacation, I think it would be reasonable for me not to kill you and for you not to try to arrest me,” Photius said.

Penny stared at him.

Photius sighed and set his glass down on the ground. “If it helps I’ll promise not to commit atrocities against the civilians. Or I’ll threaten to do it. Whichever helps you forgot that you saw me.”

That shifted Penny’s expression into a glare.

The supervillain shrugged, picked his glass back up, picked the plant matter out of it, and took a drink. “Make a decision, man. I have some goofing off to get back to.”

Bad Penny flipped his coin.

Dr. Photius Callaway, last of the Killing Men, lounged by the hotel pool, enjoying the sun. It had just been one week since he had been deposed from his leadership of the notorious supervillain organization Technefarious, and he was determined to enjoy his imposed vacation from his chosen vocation. From the pool, he could see dazzling blue water of the Atlantic Ocean in its Caribbean colors and his fellow tourists frolicking in its waters.Photius doubted any of them were wanted by the authorities, locally or internationally, unlike himself. Instead of selecting a destination that catered to those that worked in his field, he had chosen this spot to get away from his fellow supervillains for a while. There was some personal risk for him in this. He had never bothered with a mask to hide his identity during his career, and while he lacked the grotesque physique some with superpowers had, his linebacker bulk was not exactly ubiquitous, either. He was sipping a fruity drink with enough decoration in that it could easily double as a flower arrangement, but if he had to be honest with himself, it really was not much of a disguise.

Still, no one had accosted him for anything more vigorous than a tip for service, so he hoped for a few more days of quiet while he tried to decide upon a new course. The past few months had been bad. At the end of his tenure as the leader of Technefarious, the staff had shrunk to one third of its peak size. One by one, his lieutenants had ended up in jail, dead, or in jail and then dead. Of the rank and file henchmen, most of them had been captured by the Establishment, the superhero collective that kept the Earth from plunging into global disaster on a daily basis. Freeing them had been his next priority, but before he could arrange it, his authority had been usurped by those unhappy with his leadership.

As a falling out among supervillains, this one was notable for the lack of violence that ensued. Dr. Crankpot and D.O.C.T.O.R had spearheaded the coup. The former was original founder of Technefarious back in the 1960’s, returned from the dead in mysterious circumstances. The latter was Crankpot’s greatest creation: an artificial intelligence that originally ran on vacuum tubes. Neither had been pleased with Photius’s denial of their leadership claim after their reemergence, and they has seized the decline of Technefarious’s fortunes to oust Photius.

Letting his eyes linger on a particularly nice bikini-clad bottom that was sauntering past, Photius reminded himself that the change in his circumstances was not all bad. Technically, he had never wanted to be in charge of Technefarious in the first place. Photius’s immediate predecessor, Dr. Processor, had not been a particularly good leader. Photius had found himself as the ringleader of those within Technefarious that wanted Processor removed from his position. Afterwards, his fellow conspirators stuck him with job of running the whole operation.

Photius had been good at it. Recruitment went up, fatalities went down. Technefarious had not fulfilled its ultimate goal of ruling the world, but with over five decades of failing at that, it was hardly the average henchman’s benchmark for success.

Now relieved of the burden of leadership, Photius felt disinclined to start a new crew. He had enough money that he could live a life a quiet debauchery if he wanted, although with just a few days of vacation under his belt, he knew that it was not a full-time career for him. There was not even anybody he wanted dead. Sure, he had enemies, but nobody he felt the need to hunt down.

The supervillain sipped his drink. If nothing else, he could do some freelance work for his girlfriend while he decided what he wanted to do with his life. Green Needle had offered him a full-time position with the Chlorophyll Cabal, but Photius knew eco-terrorism was not the niche he wanted to fill. However, she was his girl and killing people she wanted killed would pass the time.

Thinking a quick dip in the pool might distract his mind from his problem, Photius glanced over at the water. As he did, his eyes met those of a man who had just popped up to the surface of the water.

With a twinge of annoyance, Photius realized he recognized the man. The villain hid his face behind the foliage in his drink, took another sip, and held the glass awkwardly close afterwards. His obfuscation delayed the inevitable for only a few moments.

“I’m pretty sure you’re supposed to take the flowers and crap out of those before you drink them.”

Photius sighed and lowered the drink. “And then what would I have to hide behind?”

The man in the pool tensed, eyes glued to Photius.

The supervillain smiled back. “Hello, Bad Penny. I wondered when you’d turn up again.”