Obviously my plan was to get Colonel Flagg to do my dirty work for me. That plan was predicated on the assumption that he is a highly trained government agent that would be capable of tracking people down using a special set of skills honed over a long career of doing shady black ops stuff. Unfortunately I found that this appears to be a false assumption. If Stars and Stripes Forever is highly training in anything, it appears to be having very mechanical workmanlike intercourse with a variety of local sex workers.
He claims to be a former Navy SEAL, have a black belt in some made-up sounding kind of karate, and be an undefeated underground fighting champion. I’m pretty sure none of those things are true. I feel like instead he was an adult paper “boy” that was denied military service due to failing the psych eval and formed a team of “mercenary commandos” with his loser buddies from HS that wear fatigues and shoot squirrels with assault rifles. I would bet good money that they put an ad in the paper as “freelance problem solvers”.
But he is staying in a high-end suite in a pretty nice hotel and he does have super power tech stuff, which is perplexing. I know a three-time loser when I see one, so where is this stuff coming from?
The conundrum is that if he was a real super-agent, it would have been harder to bamboozle him. It’s a real issue when it comes to tricking people into doing things. People who are good at things often aren’t that easily tricked. He did ask one time why my accent sounded “funny” if I was from Atlanta like I claimed. I told him I was a military brat and had spent my formative years in a variety of overseas military bases. He was pretty jazzed about that. He asked me all about what my father had done and I told him that I didn’t know because he never talked about it. He was in hog heaven imagining all the covert ops my fictional poppa got up to – I bet he was imagining motorcycles jumping over things and flamethrowers.
He suggested that we return to the area of the clinic to start our investigation, which seemed reasonable enough. He then put on his full red, white, and blue costume to do so which seemed far less reasonable to me. I said that it would probably be better to stay inconspicuous. He said that when you’re on a mission, you wear your uniform. I told him mine was being dry cleaned.
The good news is that a man walking around in a US flag made into a onesie doesn’t draw much attention in a place like Madripoor. I swear I saw an actual alien the other day – it was buying a newspaper and some smokes. When we got to the clinic, he took out a piece of tech about the size of a notebook. It had a glowing green screen and you could interact with it by touching it, and it seemed like it had a little radar dish on the side attached to a wire of some kind. I’m not convinced that Travis had any idea how to use it. I asked him what he was scanning for and he said it was “classified”.
I noticed on the screen he was looking at there were some symbols that looked like three triangles daisy-chained together in various patterns. I had seen Blue sketching similar things sometimes when we were just sitting around. Blue doesn’t talk much about what happened to him, but one night after some truly epic drinking, he did say that some aliens had captured him and done stuff to him. This pad the US Patriot has must be from those same people. I wonder what that means.
After that, we spent a couple days going around town “taking readings”, although he spent significantly more time bargaining with various brothel owners and berating the hotel staff about various “infractions” of the rules he’d invented for how he thought a hotel should be run.
I got tired of that, so one day while he was in the bedroom doing his thing, I decided to see what I could figure out on my own. He kept his super-stuff in a big metal case that appeared to have no seams. I only saw him open it once and it seemed to just crack open when he pushed a button on an ugly bracelet he wore all the time. I discovered that it also opens when you rip it apart with the strength of twenty strong men. I set aside the belt, which I think allows him to fly and maybe puts a force field around him, and the gun which I assume murders people in some sufficiently sci-fi way, and went for the pad.
I moved the triangle symbols around on the screen and sometimes the screen would change, but I had no clue what I was looking at. Are those symbols an alien language or just symbols? Why can’t aliens just learn Earth languages already? Preferably one that I already know. After messing with it for a while, I picked up the little dish thing and spoke into it like a microphone “English”. It definitely did something so I tried again with “French” but then the screen turned red and it started making a sizzling noise. A moment later, Travis came running in with his dick flopping in the breeze.
“What are you doing with that?!”
“Trying to get a reading.” I waved at his crotch area “Can you put that away please?”
I saw his companion peering at us curiously as he growled and charged at me like a bull. I swear I was just trying to push him away. But as I was standing up, I shoved him harder than I expected – I’m still not used to all this strength – and he went flying backwards past the bedroom and smashed through the huge multi-paned window that gave a lovely view of the bay. His lady friend was staring at me with her mouth in an O of surprise.
“That was an accident.”
I went to the window, expecting to look down and see a bloody and broken US Male below – it’s only the third floor, but falling thirty to forty feet is no joke – but instead I saw an angry naked man standing on the ground fiddling with a bracelet. He looked up and our eyes locked – him with a death glare and me with an air of apology.
“Hey man, sorry about that, that was totally my mistake, I . . . holy shit!”
That exclamation was on account of as I was talking, a motorcycle drove up and the driver (rider?) lashed out with a long chain that had a hook on it and swept Travis off his feet. A second motorcycle came up and ran over him and I swear the damn thing had blades or spikes on the wheels or something. I don’t know if his magic bracelet was out of juice or what, but his belly was all torn to shreds. He lay on the ground groaning and bleeding and leaking other stuff out of his bowels as the two motorcyclists dismounted and took off their helmets to reveal Mr. X’s handmaidens, Betty and Veronica as I call them. Or did he actually call them that? I forget.
The one who tried to attack me with a whip before in his dining room was the one whirling the chain around. The other one had a stupid sword, which she pointed up at me.
“The time has come for you to die!”
I gestured to the woman still on the bed looking horrified “Me or her?”
In response, Whippy McChains snarled like a dog and threw her chain up to hook on the window – which is impossible because it wasn’t that long before. She started shimmying up after me so I dropped a chest of drawers on her stupid head. Travis’ underwear went flying everywhere when it smashed to pieces on her noggin and slammed her to the ground. Swords McGee jumped back on her bike, did a little circle, and then ramped off a fountain through the window and into the god damn room. Which is also impossible. The statue part of a fountain is not a ramp! There’s no reason that bike should have flown into the air like god damn chitty chitty bang bang.
I scrambled back with a startled yelp on account of there was a woman on a motorcycle flying through the window and fell to the floor just in time for the door to come flying open and for Mr. X’s Maori man-mountain to come stalking in, eyes full of menace and the rest of him full of bigness. I shouted “self-destruct mode” at the alien thing and tossed it on the floor between the two them. But nothing happened.