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.”