Character – Elvis (not that one)

Raised in a collective on the mainland, Elvis was never what you’d call a strong supporter of the cause of international communism.  He wasn’t lazy . . . . exactly, but he was more interested in sports than planting community gardens or union organizing.  At a young age his goal was to compete in the Olympics.  In what sport?  What sport you got?  When his parents explained to him that participating in international athletic events was a betrayal of their ideological and political views, parents and son looked at each other and realized they had gone about as far together as they were likely to.

Elvis ran away, first to Vietnam and eventually to Madripoor, connecting with relatives whose concerns were a little more localized than the cause of global Marxism.  If his parents tried to find him, they didn’t try very hard.  Running the streets of Madripoor and getting into fights, Elvis likely would have ended up in a gang (or dead) if he hadn’t been captured in the orbit of his iron-willed grandmother.  Under her auspices, Elvis was directed towards physical pursuits more beneficial to the neighborhood and the community. 

In his heart of hearts Elvis considers himself the defender of the neighborhood, but he’d never say it out loud knowing what his grandmother would say about such foolishness.  In reality he does far more good as a self-taught handyman/contractor/carpenter/plumber/electrician than he does by punching out gangsters.   Since he doesn’t care much about money or things Elvis rarely bothers to ask for payment when he fixes something for someone or helps them.  At most he asks them for a favor that he uses to help someone else to needs something fixed.  Ironically making him a pretty good communist in function if not philosophy.  The community will be much worse off when he finally gets himself killed.  Which should be any day now.

Elvis has no superhuman abilities, but is a skilled hand to hand combatant.  He’s dabbled in various martial arts here and there but he’s more of a back-alley brawler than anything.  Unburdened by fear, unbothered by pain, and unfamiliar with good sense, when Elvis gets in a fight he never stops swinging, relentlessly attacking his opponents regardless of the damage he takes in the process.

People started calling him Elvis because of his unwarranted love for the movie Blue Hawaii, but no one remembers that since he grew the sideburns. 

Elvis HATES pimps.  His grandma’s street is the only one in the border zone of Madripoor where you will never find anyone hustling for johns. 

September 6th, 1973 – Which way to the embassy?

I asked my new best friend Elvis to point me towards the consulate for the Coalition States.  He didn’t know what I was talking about.  Doesn’t every country have a place in every other country where you go after you get kidnapped?  I tried to explain to him what an embassy was but I was hamstrung by the fact that I don’t really know what an embassy is.  It’s where the ambassador lives right?  That went nowhere but since I was still starving he took me to an open air noodle place.  It was like a shelter in a park, only it was a restaurant.  Elvis watched with mild disgust as I shoved noodles in my mouth.

“Why are you so scrawny if you eat like that?”

“Scrawny?!  I’m perfectly proportioned!”

He shrugged slightly “I guess.  Where does all the food go, that’s what I want to know.”

I looked around at the surrounding buildings “What I want to know is where the real food is around here.  I would die for a cheeseburger right now.  And some fries.  And a Coke.  And some cookies.  And a hot dog.  And some pizza.  And some ice cream.  I think those guys gave me a tapeworm or something.”

“What makes you think they did anything to you?”

“Well aside from the fact that I’m starving to death and I have a headache that would kill a gorilla, there’s this.” I twisted a fork around into a blob as easily as if it was a pipe cleaner.

He made a face “There’s no reason to ruin a good fork.  Are you saying you couldn’t do that before?” I shook my head “Huh.  I thought you were one of those American superwomen.  If the Shadow Lords have figured out how to give people superpowers that’s not going to be good for anyone.”

“What are you talking about?  What superwomen?”

He cocked his head slightly “I see in the news all the time about Americans flying around and blowing up bases and thwarting missile attacks.  Stuff like that.”

I chewed for a moment “You mean those two guys in the military that are always overthrowing regimes in South America?  And that Angel woman who just died?  What does that have to do with me?”

“Nothing apparently.  Supermen and women come from America and you have superpowers and are from America so I thought that’s what was happening.”

“You keep saying America like that’s a country.  I’m from the Coalition, I was born in the States and moved to the Pecos Republic but . . .”

Elvis held his hands up “Don’t get bent out of shape at me, I’m pretty sure you don’t have a strong grasp on the geography of southeast Asia either.”

“Fair enough.  Any thoughts on how I can get home?”

“Hmm, can’t you just fly?”

“How would I know if I could?”

He considered for a moment “Jump off a roof and see what happens?”

“Pass.”

“You’re going to need a plane ticket then sounds like.  Which means you’re going to need money.  I heard the Shadow Lords are looking for people like you.  I don’t know how well they pay though.  I think it’s more of an unpaid internship.”

“Hilarious.  You want to loan me some of your funny purple money to get home?  I’ll wire you the money back.  Eventually.  It may take a while, I’m kind of between jobs at the moment.”

He plucked at his dirty shirt “Do I look like I have any money to you?”

“No you don’t.  So what is your deal?  You just wander around picking fights with sex traffickers?”

He tilted his head “More or less yeah.  I know I guy you can talk to.  He’s in the CIA so he should be able to get you home somehow.”

“If he’s in the CIA how do you know about him?”

“I didn’t say he was good at his job.”

September 6th, 1973 – Elvis against the Shadowmen

Smiley suddenly dropped his ill-fitting suit of friendliness “We didn’t do anything to you.  You Americans are the ones who make monsters.  I have other appointments and I’m tired of asking nicely.  You work for us.  Now come along.”

He grabbed my wrist and without thinking about it, I reacted by shoving him.  Seemed like I barely touched him, but he went ass over teakettle off the stool like he got hit with a wrecking ball.  I jumped to my feet more out of surprise than anything, and one of his dark suited goons had a pistol aimed at me.  The others had their hands on their weapons as well but didn’t show them.  The smooth talker was on the ground wheezing like he was having an asthma attack so I spoke to the fellow with a gun in my face.

“What’s your plan?  If you shoot me in the face I don’t think you’re going to be bringing me in for what your boss wants.  You’re in a tough spot here buddy.”

“He can’t understand you, he doesn’t speak English.”

The new voice was a smallish fellow with mussed hair that looked like he had just woken up, possibly from sleeping in the street, although he was dressed fashionably enough.  He had thick sideburns that put his scraggy chin whiskers to shame.  Everyone else on the street had cleared out when Smiles and his friends turned, but this fellow had come towards the commotion. The wheezing man on the ground finally managed to catch his breath enough to speak.

“This doesn’t concern you Elvis.”

I raised an eyebrow “Elvis?”

He half shrugged “It’s more of a nickname.”  He turned to the man in the tan suit who was finally getting up with the aid of two of his lackeys “This is my street, everything that happens here concerns me.”

Tan suit reached into his pocket and came out with not a gun, or even a knife, but a dagger.  What’s the difference between a knife and a dagger?  I don’t know, but this was a dagger for sure.  It didn’t look like something any army man would have, it looked like something out of a Hercules movie, it had symbols etched into it and everything.

Elvis sighed at the sight of the blade “Look man I’m hung over, do we really need do go through this again right now?  You don’t have enough guys here to take me, do we have to go through the motions?  Do we want to see me snatch this guy’s gun away and then kick this guy here in the throat and beat all your asses?  We know how this is going to end, do we need to do it again?”

The dagger-wielder looked mildly surprised “You’re willing to cross us for this white girl?  This isn’t like before, this time it means war Elvis.”

Elvis looked unhappy “This is my street.”

Tan suit put his dagger away and waved for his men to back off “So be it.”

Elvis watched them walk away for a moment and then sighed again and sat down at the counter, reaching over and grabbing some weird little round glass bottle which he popped the top off with his thumb and took a drink.

“So, ah, who were those nice gentlemen?’

The glance at me and grunted “Those were some of the Shadow Lords.”

I scowled “Shadow Lords?  What kind of name is that?  Have I wandered into a Dick Tracy adventure?”

“When you’re an international criminal syndicate it doesn’t pay to be subtle.  Shadow Lords probably sounds better in Pilipino.”

“How do you say it in Pilipino?”

He frowned “How should I know?  Do I look Pilipino to you?

“Uh . . . . . no?”

He chuckled “Good answer.”

Madripoor – People at their most beautiful, humanity at its ugliest

As part of my continuing promise to deliver significantly less content with 70s super-Ela than D&D Ela I think what I might do is make narrative posts on Monday and Friday and have Wednesday for backgrounds posts.   When I was thinking about where to kick this story off I thought of someplace like Madripoor.  Then I decided to just call it Madripoor.  It’s already an expy of Singapore, no reason to get meta-removed another level.  Unless I get sued by Marvel.   

Madripoor 

The city of Madripoor is the capital and lone urban area of the Kingdom of Madripoor, located in the southern portion of the Strait of Malacca, southwest of Singapore.  There is no official data but most estimates put the population of Madripoor around 9 million, making it one of the most densely populated places in the world.  

Madripoor is controlled by a cartel of influential individuals and families that reestablished the government after the death of the King and the dissolution of the parliament during the Japanese Empire’s invasion in 1942.  A treaty constructed under the influence of the United Nations in the early 50s secured Madripoor’s sovereignty, ending years of occupation.  

After independence Madripoor saw a population explosion as refugees from other Japanese Imperial conquests, having lost both home and property, flooded into the “free” city.  Madripoor does not extradite criminals making it a haven for people fleeing political or criminal issues as well.  

Dutch political scientist Amelia Guttmann described Madripoor as a “non-aligned crypto libertarian pseudo republic”.  Heiress Robin Hayworth said that Madripoor was “a great place to be rich”.  Travel author Kimble Anders called Madripoor “the closest thing I’ve seen to Hell on earth away from an active battlefield”.

Languages

The major languages spoken in in Madripoor are Indonesian, Malay, English, French, and Filipino.

Economy

Madripoor is home to the most luxurious and expensive hotels and high-end service industry in the world, while also possessing one of the most severe wealth inequities in history. This economic polarization has effectively divided the city into the ultra-modern haven of the very rich and powerful, and the domain of the hopelessly poor.

Madripoor grew prominent as a transshipment hub port during the days of wind-powered shipping. In modern times this aspect has declined but it remains a duty-free port with a high volume of re-export trade.

For several years, Madripoor has been one of the few countries with an AAA credit rating and the only Asian country to achieve this rating.  Madripoor attracts a large amount of foreign investment as a result of its location, skilled workforce, low tax rates, and advanced infrastructure.  Despite market freedom, Madripoor’s government operations have a significant stake in the economy, contributing 44% of the GDP. It is a popular location for conferences and events.