Entries tagged with “The Establishment”.

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.”

From the Desk of the Dictator:

I know I gave his eulogy a few days ago, but I want to spend a bit more time remembering Saber-Cat here.

When I first joined Technefarious, Saber-Cat spent six weeks trying to kill me.

At this point, I’ve been associated with our criminal enterprise long enough that people think of me more as The Killing Man: That Guy From Technefarious than anything else. Back then, I still best known for killing the Titanium Android. Not constrained by the limitations of merely biological body, the Titanium Android relentlessly patrolled the Earth, saving lives of every sort. He was so dedicated to preserving life that he declined to kill those villains he fought that the rest of the world would dispose of in a flat second.

Saber-Cat had fought the Titanium Android three times over the years. Twice, he fought the Android to a standstill and then escaped. The third time ended with a short stint in prison for Saber, which Technefarious extracted him from.

Despite his association with us, Saber-Cat was not so much of a criminal as an immortal furry man with a Sabertooth tiger’s head whose ancient sense of morality is out of step with the modern world. The illegality of jaywalking made no sense to him, and the concept of sitting through a red light when no one was else was coming struck him as insane. His willingness to fight and disdain for the finer points of modern bureaucracy made Technefarious a good fit for him, but he was certainly capable of appreciating the good that Titanium Android did for the world.

As such, he was less than appreciative of the invitation Dr. Occultomancer made to the superhero’s killer to join Technefarious’s ranks. Saber wasn’t able to talk Occult into rescinding his offer, so the big cat-man decided to address his discomfort with the situation by killing me. He was perfectly aboveboard with intentions, challenging me to a duel to the death. I declined, since I didn’t feel any particular need to kill him. He persisted, so I negotiated a different set of terms. We would fight. If he surrendered, I could stay. If I surrendered, I would have to leave. If one of us happened to die during the fight, so be it.

We met that evening in one of the Technefarious’s gyms, before an audience made up mostly of Saber’s friends on the staff. Dr. Occultomancer tried to talk us out of it, but neither Saber-Cat nor I are exactly slavish in obeying orders. After Occult retired to his seat in annoyance, Saber-Cat and I faced off. Saber was armed with that magic saber he loved so much, while I brought in a sword so I had a blade to match against his. It was just a regular sword and perfectly incapable of killing the furry idiot, which I confirmed every night for six weeks by maiming him to the point where he couldn’t actually continue the fight. He got stabbed through the heart, had his eyes ripped out, and limbs severed. My favorite evening was the one where I decapitated him and he spent fifteen minutes cursing at me until his tongue got too dry to speak clearly anymore. He still refused to surrender though. He was immortal and saw no reason the temporary inconvenience of a lack of body parts to declare the fight over.

I’m underselling Saber-Cat’s fighting skills with that last paragraph. He had millennia of combat experience under his belt and none of our fights lasted less than an hour. I just happen to be really, really dangerous myself. After it was clear that a single round wasn’t going to resolve the issue, Dr. Occultomancer declared that we could only continue our fight after the workday. For six weeks, we were the star event of Technefarious’s evenings. Saber couldn’t beat me, and I refused to walk away.

The last night, I waited patiently across our battlefield from Saber-Cat for sixty minutes. He stood the entire time with his resting on the hilt of his saber, its tip dug into the ground, watching me through slitted eyelids. At the end of that hour, he placed his blade on the ground, then walked over and knelt before me. That was the last time we crossed swords.

Well, with actual swords anyway. He never hesitated to tell me off when he thought I was wrong, even after I took over Technefarious.

Our occult department tells me they think there was some sort of magical interference with our attempt to rescue him after the failure of Operation Carved Branch. When possible, the Establishment likes to teleport its superpowered prisoners when it needs to move them from one place to another. There have been so many escapes and rescues during transit when their prisoners are moved the regular way that the expense of teleportation is worth it when the superpowers involved don’t make it too risky. The interruption of the power containment they have to use on Frigid and Bleach if they were teleported means they will have to be moved over land. Saber-Cat, with his purely physical powers, was a perfect candidate for teleporting. Technefarious has been sitting on a scheme to intercept an Establishment teleportation signal for some time now, and this seemed like a reasonable time to tip our hand on that. The worst that our attempt should have resulted in was causing enough interference to bounce him back to his original teleportation pad. Instead, our attempt to steal the signal scattered him across half the world.

When our science department reported that, I knew he was dead this time, just like I knew my sword couldn’t kill him back when I fought him. Because of his powers, we could never hook him into our soul catchers, but I had our occult department try to retrieve him anyways. They could only confirm that his soul had indeed passed to the other side.

Goodbye, Saber-Cat. You will be missed.

Your Leader,

Dr. Photius Callaway
The Killing Man

From the Desk of the Dictator:

Welcome back from your weekend everyone.

We have some work ahead of us this week. Plotting three prison breaks from maximum security should be enough to keep all of Technefarious out of trouble. Well, relatively out of trouble. I’m just saying we’ll be too busy to secure our rule over the world.

We’re following up Operation Carved Branch with Operation Wrong Side of the Bars, since the former turned into such of fiasco. For those of you that weren’t in on the briefing for Carved Branch, it involved entering the home base of the Danger People and stealing White Staff’s white staff. Its use for years as a focus for combat magic made it the perfect channel for Project Cracked Foundation.

Despite their name, the Danger People are not most dangerous superheroes on the planet. For what should have been a simple home invasion, a small group consisting of Frigid, Bleach, Saber-Cat, and the Elite Triad’s Gamma body could handle any resistance the heroes could put up. In fact, it wouldn’t even be that hard for White Staff to replace the staff, so we weren’t even expecting too much follow-up harassment if we succeeded.

Unfortunately, our crew walked into the middle of someone else’s attack on the Danger People. The initial insertion into the base went smoothly enough, aside from an elevated amount of tension among the biological members of the team. Elite has been beating themselves up for not noticing the discrepancy from such an experienced group, but I hardly call an extra bit of nervousness at the beginning of a mission a big tipoff.

Elite reported that inside the building it was unusually quiet. Passive scans picked up background signs of life, but no recreational noise, i.e. music, television, banging around the kitchen, having sex.  By the time they had moved deep enough into the facility to wonder about the quiet, the Shudders had already cut off our people’s retreat.

Shudders are inky shadow creatures of extra-dimensional evil in the service of the Fear Carrier, a longtime enemy of the Danger People. The Fear Carrier had already attacked their base and was still in the process of rounding up all the heroes when we went in. The communications jamming the Carrier radiated went unnoticed by the Technefarious crew who were observing radio silence for the initial part of the operation. The Shudders had no orders to keep people out, so they waited until our people were far enough and then attacked them. They captured Saber-Cat in their initial attack, but Bleach’s power draining attacks stymied their attempts to bring down the other three. Unfortunately, the only line of retreat was further into the building.

Frigid gave orders that escape was the new objective of the mission, which when is when they discovered the jamming. They also discovered Stewpot of the Danger People hiding from the Shudders. They immediately arranged a temporary truce and discovered that Stewpot had managed to get a distress call out to the Establishment before the Fear Carrier cut the base off. That was certainly mixed news for our crew, but Frigid decided that prison time was preferable to hoping an understanding could be reached with the Carrier. Elite’s records reveal the flesh and blood people were showing extreme emotional disturbance at this point, probably due to the proximity of the Carrier, but I applaud Frigid arriving at a rational decision under those circumstances.

The exact record of events becomes confused at the point. Elite was captured and damaged by the Shudders. They awoke to find Frigid pleading Technefarious’s case in front of Fear Carrier itself. Saber-Cat chimed his support, much to the disgust of the members of the Danger People being held prisoner around the room. Elite noted at this point that neither Stewpot nor Bleach seemed to be part of the collection. Frigid’s offers fell upon deaf ears as the Carrier accused them of being part of the Establishment forces now besieging the base.

The Fear Carrier was preparing to kill Frigid and throw her body outside as a warning when three Shudders came into the room, dragging Stewpot behind them. Carrier was delighted to complete its collection the Danger People and took a minute to gloat over its success.

Now I know we’ve discussed this. When do we gloat? After our opponent is dead, and we’re safely back home.

While it gloated, the Carrier failed to notice two of the Shudders split off from Stewpot and begin undoing the bonds holding the Danger People. Shadow Sally and Night Ink from the Establishment’s forces had snuck through the Shudder’s line of defense to try and find the Danger People. They found Stewpot and Bleach, the latter not more than a shadow himself after draining over two dozen Shudders down to the dregs of their power. Together, they hatched a plan to get close to Fear Carrier and his prisoners by pretending to be Shudders bringing Stewpot to him. When Carrier finally noticed its prisoners being freed, Stewpot and Bleach struck, knocking the monster back on its heels. From there, the combined forces of Technefarious, the Danger People, and the Establishment disrupted the Fear Carrier’s hold on the base and drove him and his minions back to the black dimension they call home.

With the Carrier gone, our crew was left outnumbered in the room and outnumbered even more by fresh enemies outside the building, none of whom were happy to see them. The Elite Triad quietly informed that Frigid that the Establishment’s own countermeasures outside the facility were still blocking teleportation, but not the Technefarious communication lines. Frigid ordered the Triad to escape and then offered her surrender on the behalf of the rest of the group. The Elite were not happy to go, but dutifully set its body to melt into slag and downloaded themselves back to the base.

I took the Elite Triad’s report and denied its request to immediately go to the rescue. There was an extraction team ready to go, but they weren’t heavy enough to go toe to toe with an Establishment strike force that was ready for a fight. A jailbreak or three would be much easier.

Speaking of which, I’m going to go back to planning those now.

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

From the Desk of the Dictator: 

Welcome back from your weekend everyone.

Well, that was plan 1,782 for world domination into the recycling bin. Most of them never make it out of the planning stages, but this one actually looked like it might succeed for a few days.

Our initial plan (with the full title of PROJECT JELLY DOUGHNUT: GIANT EARTHQUAKES FROM SATTELITE BASED EARTHQUAKE MACHINES) worked well. All the resources were assembled with minimum losses on our part. The equipment built worked within expectations. Things did not fall apart until the implementation of the last part of the project, Operation Flat Pancake. The initial developments went well: the world knew we were demanding their capitulation, the earthquake machines worked well, and the Establishment was off balance. Delivering our message to the entire world at once undermined the public’s confidence in their governments, making the world’s nations more susceptible to our threats. The earthquake machines could focus sharply enough to target conventional military equipment. We proved that by picking off of several fighter jets in mid-flight while we were roughing up the armed forces of the more belligerent nations. Which just left the various unconventional forces of the Earth.

Considering how many millions of superpowered people we have on our planet, it’s surprising how few offensive superpowered units are part of any of the world’s standing armies. I suppose that’s partially influenced by superhero traditions that sprang up over the course of the last century, then reinforced by treaties worked out by the victors of World War II to set limits on the escalation of warfare fueled by superpowers. I know the Iron 56 incident in Germany near the end of the war scared both the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R. pretty badly. Even now, Earth acts as the home to at least fifteen beings that could destroy galaxies or entire universes. The idea of setting their patriotic planet killers against each other gave the world leaders pause, and the resulting treaties are thought to have prepped the ground for later treaties about nuclear weapons and other WMD’s. 

The Establishment, of course, doesn’t belong to any nation. Its Board of Directors is drawn from the global superhero population, theoretically making in neutral in international politics. This gives it the strength to coordinate the superpowered population for the Earth’s regular repulsion of extra-dimensional and extra-terrestrial attacks. By the same token, the Establishment rarely interferes with anyone’s domestic or international politics. So if we can ever convince the nations of the world to surrender, the Establishment is less likely to continue the fight. At the very least, it would shrink the pool of resources its leadership can draw from.

Of course, first you have to convince the nations of the world that the Establishment can’t come to their rescue. So they found our satellites pretty early in the first day but had trouble doing anything about them. Technefarious has decades of data about superpowers from which we developed defenses for the satellites to hold off the Establishment. According to our models, each could stand up to ten thousand years of attack. We actually hoped they would stand up to an average of about eight hours of abuse, because ours is a weird world, and there’s always some new power source popping up. Of course, we had three warehouses full of replacement satellites that we could teleport into orbit whenever one got destroyed. They kept the Establishment busy. So busy that it really unnerved the national governments that the Establishment could not just stop the earthquakes. Unfortunately, the Establishment could have kept popping our earthquake machines pretty much indefinitely, and their own bases are turned out to be mostly immune to the satellites. Our intelligence department chalks that up to all the oddball powers the Establishment has access to, so we had to take to fight directly to their leadership.

This is where things fell apart. Dealing with the Suit and his elite Executives is never easy, but it had to be done. While our assault teams conducted distraction attacks against the Establishment’s regular forces, I lead a direct assault against the Executives. I can’t give you a firsthand account of most of the fight. I targeted Suit himself, naturally enough. On paper, the man should only be a second tier hero, but his decades of experience leading the Establishment make him too dangerous to leave breathing. He used those decades of experience to take me off the board. I spend most of the battle trapped in a “dead room,” where Technefarious’s remote equipment could not reach me. I could have gotten out of that easily enough, but the Suit had dug up a guy called Grimmed.

I can kill anything. It’s my most notable superpower. What I can’t guarantee is that my victim will stay dead. Grimmed died a lot over the next few hours but was back and intact with seconds. When I tried to leave him just maimed, the little bastard killed himself. If Bleach had not eventually convinced Green Needle to have the Chlorophyll Cabal join our assault, I’m not entirely sure when I would have gotten out of there. Green Needle eventually tracked me down, and she solved my problem by hitting Grimmed with a paralyzing need, followed up with another shot that put him to sleep.

Despite my personal problems, we actually made a good accounting of ourselves. Technefarious left three Executives dead (although I’m sure they’ll be back among the living soon) and completely trashed their base. Unfortunately, by then it was a moot point.

The Executive Gearhead had managed to break away early in the fight to continue his research on the beams our satellites were emitting. While the Establishment’s base collapsed around him, he managed to develop a counter-field and deploy it. Within seconds of turning it on, our satellites became useless. The Establishment still hasn’t found everything we put in orbit, but with the heroes’ new ability to stop our earthquake machines with a flick of a switch, we’re going to have to file Project Jelly Doughnut in the failed plot drawer. 

Oddly enough, we suffered no deaths this week. Our base was never compromised, so the soul catchers and cloning equipment never went offline. I think this is the first time we’ve ever run the final operation of a project and none of our people died. It feels strange.

In any event, this memo is running long, so check the bulletin boards for this week’s events.

Have a good week everyone. And remember, the world is already ours – it just outfought us this time.

Your Leader,

Dr. Photius Callaway

The Killing Man

From the Desk of the Dictator:

Welcome back from your weekend everyone.

Well, last week’s Operation Big Question certainly ended with mixed results. On the one hand, the real goal of the mission succeeded six times over. On the other hand, when it was done, we had to move our entire base of operations.

As I revealed at the final briefing to all teams involved, retrieving the stone eggs of Granquartz the Magnificent was a cover to prevent leaks of our true goal. Among the Parazlying Field Multiplier darts in every henchman’s ammo load were Teleport Retrieval Energy Needle darts capable of penetrating even Sediment’s rocky hide. After gathering a sample of the flesh of the target through its needle, the darts could teleport a short distance to a nearby Extraction team. Gathering biopsies from the Soil Six, in whose base Granquartz lives, was our real goal. I was hoping to get samples from two of the superheroes and would have been happy with just one. In the end, our crack Assualt and Extraction teams retrieved samples from all six of them, from Ground Shock to Compost. Bonus money will be awarded to all henchmen whose darts delivered the goods.

Our after-action analysis suggests that where things went wrong was in actually succeeding in our cover objective. Yes, Extraction Team Gamma with assistance from Assault Team Y managed to hold off Granquartz, Little Quartz, and Time Sand long enough to get away with one of the dragon’s stone eggs. At that point, we believe Granquartz tracked the egg back to our base while the Soil Six tagged along. From there, only ones in Technefarious that do not know what happened are those of us that had to be cloned back to life. Like the dragon she is a statue of, Granquartz tore through our defenses and smashed our buildings. Between being able to track her egg and the ease with which she wrecked our base, our occult and science departments are revising its theories on how the living dragon statue is put together. Once our real world location was revealed, Faultline of the Six got the ball rolling on siccing the Establishment on us, prompting our evacuation of the site after the Soil Six withdrew. We can field a pretty strong crew, but I’m not going to pretend we can stand up to the Establishment when they have time to assemble.

Despite the disruption of our infrastructure, we had only one permanent loss among our staff. Henchman 98B-3O (Carl) was eaten by Granquartz during the egg theft. Everyone else who got killed had their souls retrieved by the soul catchers, so the occult department speculates that it his was somehow trapped by the dragon statue. Research into how to retrieve his soul is underway. 

To give everyone a chance to settle into their new digs, there are no new special events scheduled for this week.
Have a good week everyone. And remember, the world is already ours – it just doesn’t realize it yet.

Your Leader,

Dr. Photius Callaway

The Killing Man