Sometimes I forget that Madripoor isn’t just a city. It’s a Kingdom. Ninety percent of the kingdom of Madripoor is the city of Madripoor but there’s still that other ten percent. If you’re looking out the window of a high building out in the “countryside” you can see palaces. And I mean actual palaces not just fancy houses for rich people. That’s where the Prince and his concubines hang out. Why a Prince and not a King? No idea.
I was told that after the Japanese occupation ended, a bunch of businesses got together and suggested that they could run a country. And everyone was like “Sure, why not, businesses should be in charge of social services right?” So there’s a council of rich businessmen (and women maybe but I wouldn’t bet on it) that make up the government.
But I’ve been told that the REAL power in Madripoor is a mysterious crime boss of some kind. No one can agree on who or what that crime boss is (or if they exist at all) but they insist they’re out there and they’re the one who is really in charge. The rich corporate suits up on the hill are just figureheads.
More people say that the Prince is the REAL REAL power in Madripoor. He decides which rich people get to pretend to be in charge and what criminals get to do their thing. From what I’ve seen here, it looks like no one is in charge of Madripoor. It’s like a ship without a captain, careering towards the rocks while the crew goes nuts on the rum they found in the hold. Maybe it’s a separation of duties, the rich people are the legislature, the criminals are the executive, and the Prince is the judicial branch.
I bring this up because I am currently the guest of the Prince Himself. Not in one of the palaces, but in what I was told was a government office of some kind but that looks suspiciously like a cruddy apartment. The Prince isn’t actually around either, but there’s a woman that says she’s a member of his staff. I think she’s Indo-Australian, her accent is more Western than local. She has a shaved head, which I don’t care for. I’ve seen some strange things in Madripoor but somehow that seems like the strangest. A woman without hair? What’s the world coming to?
Remember that lady in the catsuit whose leg I twisted like a pipe cleaner because she was being a jerk?
Sure you do. She may have had a point. I shouldn’t really be commenting on how other women look. We have enough problems. This woman may look like Uncle Fester to me but that’s her choice, I shouldn’t chap her hide about it. That broad in the catsuit is still a bitch though.
I was sitting on Uncle Fester’s couch trying and failing not to make a pig of myself. She had brought out a platter of lumpia the size of a small car and a shaker of yummy ginger beer that was bigger than a champagne bottle. She was sitting on another couch opposite the coffee table (I’m sure they call it something else here) with her legs crossed primly in her grey (gray?) business woman power skirt watching me gorge myself. After a moment she took out an electronic pad of some kind and a little pen with no tip to mark on it.
I belched, but in a ladylike way “Is that alien technology?”
She raised a perfectly manicured eyebrow half a millimeter “Pardon me?”
I gestured with a fistful of lumpia “That pad, I saw one like it before, guy got it from an alien.”
“That would be illegal. Possession of extraterrestrial technology is proscribed by dozens of international treaties.”
I raised a shaggy eyebrow back at her “You guys care about that kind of stuff here?”
She didn’t answer, just watched me pigging out for a moment before continuing “Do you want to finish eating before you give your account of what happened?”
I waved some lumpia at her “Nah, there’s not much to tell really. After the fight we found a boat that the hijackers used to get supplies and stuff. We were coming back to . . . whatever island this is, is the island also called Madripoor? Anyway, we were coming back here and we ran into a fishing ship – like a big one not one of those ones you see in the bay. Anyway, Martialla used to work on ships before the Canadian government turned her into a water beast and she knew how to signal them or something. So that ship came to the other island and used their nets to scoop up all the people, it was pretty funny actually, and brought them here. So bingo bango Bob’s your brother.”
“The expression is Bob’s your uncle.”
I shrugged “Oh well, whatever, we rescued the people from flight eight eight six zero or whatever it was. The ones that were still alive anyway, we didn’t rescue the people that were already dead. That would be impossible. The pilot was killed in the fighting and the co-pilot was already cashiered. I heard a few other people were deceased too. We did our best.”
“You skipped over a lot there. How did the three of you defeat the hijackers? By our count there were eighty-nine of them and only three of you.”
“One of the titty women, Lason, am I saying that right? Lason, she was controlling them with her powers. After I knocked out the Bruce Lee guy, sorry, is that offensive? After I knocked out the Challenger with his table leg weapon, I bashed Lason with a staircase. Like you know those little wooden stair things outside of a building. I smashed her with one of those and when she was down, the hijackers lost their . . . you know . . . whatever, chain of command. They were confused. I’m sure Blue can explain it better but they didn’t have a lot of fight in them right from the open.”
She looked at something on her alien pad “Blue, that’s Lucien Basilières?”
I nodded “Yeah, big lizard guy. He’s Canadian too, but the government didn’t do anything to him, that was aliens.” I winked “Good thing I don’t possess him right, otherwise I’d be in contravention of international law. Anyway, once Blue and Martialla attacked, a lot of the guys ran, and the ones that didn’t couldn’t get their shit together. I guess being under the influence of mind control sex pheromones is pretty confusing. Super powers man, am I right? Don’t make a lick of sense.”
She consulted her pad again “What about the other non-baselines?”
“The broad with her ass to the wind has a kind of power that messes up your senses I learned, but it didn’t work on me. I have a splitting headache all the fucking time, excuse my French, but it seems like mind powers don’t work on me generally. She’s also a good fighter, she kicked my ass once before, so I stayed away and threw shit at her. I hit her in the hip with a big rock” I held my hands apart “About the size of a bowling ball, do you guys have bowling here? And she didn’t want to fight anymore after that.”
“Yes, I imagine a broken pelvis will do that.”
I winced “Eee, ouch. I really don’t want to hurt anyone . . . but . . . . I don’t know how to finish that sentence. I don’t want to hurt anyone but I do . . . all the time . . . I guess. Anyway, the one in the garters and cape knew that her power didn’t work on me from before so she bailed. Martialla will tell you that I didn’t help with the fighting, but I took out all the super people before I hid and without me doing that, they never would have been able to rout the others. So don’t buy into her narrative about me not doing anything. She’s a pill that one.”
“How did you know that Flight 853 was on Malimgum?”
I laughed, accidentally shooting a glob of lumpia out of my mouth and quickly covering it “Sorry . . . . gees. Uh . . . anyway, I laugh because we had no idea the plane was there. We weren’t even trying to go to that island. The Canadian Sea Monkey drove us to the wrong damn island. This whole thing was pure happenstance. Can you beat it?”
“What island were you trying to reach?”
I clucked my tongue “Uh . . . the one with the giant ape. Man-Iguana? Something like that.”
“Mantiuana. What were you going there for?”
I gestured vaguely “Oh you know, just sightseeing, giant ape and so forth.”
“Are you suggesting that you were joyriding in an XES class submarine?”
I gazed at her coolly “Sure, why not? Ultraweapon has a supersonic jet, why shouldn’t I have a submarine?”
She pursed her lips “Patrick Zarous is an independently wealthy mechanical genius, you by all accounts are a homeless woman who’s been declared legally dead.”
“Hey, speaking of, can you like use your government powers to contact the CS and let them know I’m still alive? I don’t want to have to sneak back into my own country when all of this is over.”
She made a node with her stick/pen “Of course, consider it taken care of.”
I almost choked on my lumpia “Really?”
She looked at me for a moment and then put her alien pad aside “Miss Preston, you seem to be under the mistaken impression that you’re in some manner of trouble. You rescued one hundred and fifteen people and brought several international fugitives to justice. The Prince is a generous man and he rewards those who have done him a service. It would be in your best interest to be honest with me about what you did and what you want. You’re a hero, Miss Preston.”
I chewed lumpia for a long time before answering “I used to want to be a hero. I’m not sure I believe in heroes anymore. Being able to lift a car over my head? What does that mean really? Probably that someday the government will shoot me and everyone like me.”
“That’s a very cynical attitude for someone so young.”
I laughed and gestured towards the window “Madripoor, it’s a hell of a town!”