From the Desk of the Dictator:

Welcome back from your weekend everyone.

It was quiet this week. We ran another segment of Project Cut Flowers, but this one did not require mobilizing all of Technefarious, so it’s understandable if you didn’t notice it. Operation Grass Clippings only required a couple of people to complete, so I assigned it to Frigid and myself. It was nice to get out of the office without being abducted by aliens or trying to oversee a small army in the field.

Operation Grass Clippings required a trip to the floating city of Suncloud. If you’ve never been, you’ve missed one of the wonders of the world. No one knows exactly how old it is, although it is referenced in Homer’s Odyssey. Somewhere in prehistory, a vine plant mutated or got hit by miscast magic or was the subject of a miracle, allowing it to exhale a mist that made it float free of the ground. For whatever reason, this floating planet didn’t die but instead grew bit by bit. Eventually, some bits of it did die, but the dried husks stayed entwined with the living vine. Slowly the plant grew larger and its discarded bits accumulated, turning into a floating mound and then into a floating hill and finally into an entire island buoyed by its white cloud of gas. Over the millennia, it accumulated passengers: birds, bugs, dirt, flowers, weeds, and trees. Occasionally it was tamed by a wizard or a god that wanted the living cloud for their own reasons, but mostly it wandered the planet, a little island of life in the sky. Eventually, it was colonized during Europe’s Age of Exploration. However, the European powers found it impossible to control the island’s course, making it difficult for them to do regular business with the floating colony. Finally drifting away from their old homes, the former colonists dubbed their land the Suncloud and developed their own independent culture that specialized in flight long before the Wright brothers developed the propeller driven airplane.

Frigid and I slipped onto Suncloud by the simple expedient of teleporting onto it. Flying is a poor option for sneaking in, because the Cloudians have developed the best flight detection systems on the world. Teleporting in was better. Oh, they still detected our arrival; it just made intercepting us harder. By the time their security forces reached our arrival point, we had already disappeared among Suncloud’s many tourists.

To give security time to settle down, Frigid and I pretended to be tourists and went shopping, giving me an opportunity to prove to my lieutenant that the stereotype of guys hating to shop is entirely true. Frigid chose her name deliberately, having been born with ice powers and no sex drive. Talk to her for a while, and you’ll find she finds the contortions the rest of humanity goes through for sex amusing. Apparently, she managed to have avoided going shopping with any guys in her life so far and found it hilarious that I lived up to the male reputation. I just smiled at her patiently and told her that the real reason I seized control of Technefarious was so I could make the henchmen do my shopping for me.

After stopping for some coffee with floating foam (a Suncloud speciality), we made our way to the edge of the island to try and find some plant matter to prune. The forests there had plenty of exposed stalks of the floating plant, but we wanted to do this with more subtlety than Jack and the Beanstalk. We finally found a sprout shorter than us, so I used my powers to figure out how to trim it off without killing it. Then Frigid encased it in ice and manipulated the temperature of the water inside of it to preserve its cells without letting them rot, or so I gathered from the long, detailed explanation of her process that she shared while she went about it. I didn’t actually understand it all, but as long as our science and occult departments are happy with her work, then I’m happy.

Of course, our attempt to teleport back out was immediately foiled. Despite our efforts to skirt security, they had managed to track us down. The squad was mostly just grunts, but I recognized their leaders. The first was Shiver, a young woman with a vibration based power set. The other was Caesar Rex, the Mechanical Canine-Man, my rival in having a completely ridiculous mix of names and titles.

Rex gloated that he had caught us and boasted about the jammer he was using to keep us from teleporting away. It wasn’t a bad little monologue, but I thought it was bit presumptuous of him considering he hadn’t subdued us yet. Oh, I won’t pass up a good monologue myself, but I do have priorities.

In this case, my priority was has to extract ourselves without killing anyone. Sure, we’re facing a couple of superheroes and some extra muscle, all of whom are usually expendable, but murder is more memorable than property damage and theft. At worst, I wanted us to be an annoying escape, not a focus for vengeance. Our teleportation device’s countermeasures had started processing as soon as it found itself blocked, so it would eventually get us out. The question was how to keep our opponents busy in the meantime.

Luckily, I had Frigid with me. Like any good ice slinger, the first thing she did was encase our opponents in blocks of ice. If she had been able to concentrate on maintaining the blocks’ integrity, that would have been enough to let us get away. Unfortunately, Shiver’s vibrations tore down her ice cube prison almost immediately. The hero threw herself at Frigid, forcing a standoff between Shiver’s excitation of atoms and Frigid’s storm of ice.

In the meantime, Caesar Rex and his goons had managed to extract themselves from their blocks, but I was waiting for them. Killing someone is much easier than disabling them, but I am highly trained. I served concussions and severed tendons to the help, then delivered an arrangement of sharp strikes and crushing blows to Caesar Rex, incapacitating his capacitors and grinding his gears. With his mechanical bits damaged, he dropped the jammer. That wasn’t what I was going for, but I stomped on it anyways, teleporting us away and ending the fights.

I told Frigid that the next time, maybe she should start the fight by destroying the equipment preventing our escape. She said thanks for the brilliant idea after the fact.

This memo is long again, so I’ll just write one quick note here about our package exchanges with the Golden Web. This time, our archrivals sent us a box full of the stiff, deadly gum sticks that comes with baseball cards. The science department was able to determine the entire lot of gum dates to the mid-1980s. Yeah, I have no idea what’s going on over there.

Have a good week everyone. Remember, the world is already ours – it just doesn’t realize it yet.

Your Leader,

Dr. Photius Callaway

The Killing Man