December 20, 1973 – This is going on too long

The next guy standing before us was completely covered by red and black motorcycle leathers, and not the kind you might see a guy who’s super into motorcycles wear.  This was thick stuff that maybe off road bike people would wear.  Given the heat and humidity he must have been roasting like a Thanksgiving turkey in there.  He even had the helmet on.  He also had a pair of holsters which was the only concession to anything that might be non-motorcycle related.  There were a bunch of straps and buckles and pouches on the suit that I’m not sure if they were supposed to be there or if they were added to show what a badass he is.  For the record the only thing that I count as badass is a bandoleer of bullets like Pierce’s outriders had in War Wagon.  Although even that was kind of a cop-out because what you really need to be a badass is no shirt and then the bullet-bandolier.

Blue can’t whistle because he doesn’t have lips anymore but I could tell that he wanted to.  He also can’t raise his eyebrows because he doesn’t have those either, being turned into a lizard monster really curtails your ability to express yourself nonverbally.

Blue gestured “Are those custom forty-four Automags?  Where did you get those?”

Motorcycle man said something but it was muffled because of the helmet.  I think maybe he said something about “Mo Pow” is that anything?  Is there a gun manufacturer with a name like Mo Pow or something similar?

I cocked my head “What was that?  Can you take off that helmet?  It’s very hard to hear you with it on.”

He responded with something that sounded like “murffermurrfermurrfer secret identity.”

“You’re worried that if you take off the helmet we’ll know who you are?  But we don’t know who you are anyway?  Unless we went to the same high school or something how would we know who you are even if we saw your face?  And why would it matter?”  I turned over to Martialla after he maybe responded “Did you catch any of that?” She shook her head “Hey, we can’t hear you man, can you at least crack open the visor or something?

Blue leaned forward  and peered “Doesn’t look like it opens.”

Leatherboy made some kind of a hand gesture and then LOUDLY mumbled something that no one could understand. 

I stood up and gestured angrily “Get the hell out of here!” I sat back down as he clomped off with what I have to assume were combat boots that would be terrible for motorcycle riding.  I chuckled “The funny thing is I know who that is.”

Martialla snorted “How could you know who it was, he was all covered up!”

“I guess I don’t know for sure that it’s the same guy under there, but I can’t believe anyone else would walk around in that exact same stupid outfit.  He was a vigilante in Basin City back home.  I wonder what he’s doing here.”

“So you don’t know who he really is, just his . . . whatever, public persona.”

I grinned “No, I know that too.  It’s a long story.  Maybe I’ll tell you about it some time.  If you’re nice.”

Our next applicant was halfway dressed normally but he was also wearing motorcycle jacket and some kind of matching motorcyclish boots.  He had his hair long like a lot of the local troublemakers do and I wondered how that worked with a helmet.  Do you stuff it all under there or just let it hang out the back?  Seems like it would pull your hair.  I guess I don’t know how tight those things are.  But they’d have to be pretty tight to work right?  Or do you want them to be loose to absorb impact? 

“Jesus, what the hell is this motorcycle day?”

He frowned slightly “Pardon me?”

Blue made a conciliatory gesture “Don’t mind her.”

“Yeah, don’t mind me, I’m just the one asking all the questions.  You speak English, that’s a good start.”

He nodded slightly “Yeah, I’m from Hong Kong.”

“They speak English in Hong Kong?”

“Sometimes.  It was controlled by Britain until the war.”

“Who controls is now?”

He smiled mirthlessly “Depends who you ask.”

Martialla glared at me “Do we have time for a poly-sci discussion?”

I shook my head “Why do you have to suck the joy out of everything?  I like getting to know people.  Anyway, since we’re apparently in a big hurry do you have powers or what’s your story?”

“I can duplicate myself.”

“So there’s two of you?  How is that useful?  Couldn’t we just hire two guys?”

Blue held up a finger “But this way we only have to pay one.”

The applicant did smile a little at that “Yes, but more importantly I send my dupe to do something dangerous because I can just make another one.  I’ve been working as a stunt man but I’m looking to branch out into super capers.”

“Huh, so you like have your duplicate jump off a building for real and they film it?  Something like that?  Meanwhile you’re sitting in a director’s chair drinking a Pina colada?  Why do they call them director’s chair when other people sit in them too?”

“I don’t know, but yes, that’s basically it.  Saves money on special effects too.”

“Okay so you can summon like a suicide copy of yourself?  I suppose I can see how that could be helpful.  I’ve never heard of anything like this, how did you get this ability?”

“I don’t know how it happened, after my twin brother died I could just do it.”

“So you summon your dead twin brother into the world of the living to die over and over again?  Is that what we’re talking about?  I don’t like the sound of that at all.” 

Blue shuffled some papers “We’ll put you in the maybe pile.”

December 20, 1973 – It says here that you left your last job because your boss was sleeping with your wife?

I’ve never really been on a job interview before.  Because I’ve never had a job.  A job job you know.  I remember one of my friends going for a job interview for a job where you sold nails over the phone or something stupid like that.  He was reading an article about what do to or not do and it said that you should wait to light up until the person interviewing you did so first.  The advice for women was not to wear your fancy diamonds because then it would look like you didn’t need a job.  I assume the first question an interviewer ask a woman is “So are you gonna put out or are you a stick in the mud?” 

I don’t suppose that experience would be transferrable to putting together a super-team for a covert op anyway.  How many words a minute you type us unlikely to come up.  Maybe I should watch the Dirty Dozen again to get in the zone.  Or the Devil’s Brigade.  Of course I’d need a TV for that.  Or you know, access to electricity.  While I was intensively considering such things (or daydreaming about food and clean clothing) a couple applicants came and went without me noticing.  When I brought my attention back around the guy in front of us was in a black leotard thing and had big guns on his forearms with a kind of metal framework.

“Where did you get that costume?”

He gestured vaguely with his gum-forearm “There’s a guy that makes them.”

“Give me his address will you?”

“Sure, but it’s pretty expensive.”

“Thanks.  So . . .  it looks like you’re just a guy with guns?”

He gestured again with his gun limbs “Well as you can see I have an exoskeleton to support them but mostly yes I’m ‘just’ a guy with guns.  I do also have combat luck.”

Blue’s tongue flicked out in confusion “What’s combat luck?”

He replied deadpan “It means I’m lucky in combat.”

Martialla shook her head “Even if that was true, how would you know you had that power?”

“Hmm, I guess I wouldn’t.  Maybe I’m just lucky.”

I snapped my fingers “Hey, are you that guy that killed that bird man in Chi-Town?” He nodded “I knew you looked familiar!  I saw your picture in the paper.  What exactly is the point of having a mask on your costume anyway?  I know you’re the guy that did that.”

“But you don’t know my name.”

“I wouldn’t know your name anyway.”

We looked at each other for a while and then Blue broke the silence “Was that a hit or what was that all about?”

“He was a sleeping with my wife.”

I raised an eyebrow “So you shot him fifty times?”

“Yeah.”

“Isn’t that murder?”

“I mean, yeah.”

Martialla leaned forward slightly “Why did you kill the guy?  Isn’t your wife the one that betrayed you?”

“It’s complicated.”

“Why do you want to be on a crime fighting super-team if you’re a murderer?  Are you the reformed villain?  It’s always good to have one of them in the mix, people love that stuff.  Redemption arcs are big.  That would help with the press release.”

He frowned slightly “Crime fighting?  I was told this was for a heist.”

“Well yeah . . . it is, but we’re the good guys.”

“If you say so.”

The next guy up had a very similar looking leotard only it was red and blue instead of black and it had a big blue eagle on the chest with the wings stretching onto the shoulders.

I shook my head “No, no, sorry, I’ve had my fill of Statie super-soldier assholes.  Why are there so many of you here?  This is like a helter skelter amount of USA super patriot people in exile or on vacation or whatever.  Sorry but I just can’t do it.”

The only part of his face that was visible frowned “I’m from Kansas City, why would you think I’m from the states?”

“You’re wearing a red and blue suit with a giant eagle on it.”

He looked down at himself “It doesn’t really look like a flag though.  I have the eagle because I’m Eagle-Eye.”

“What about the red and blue?”

“It was the only suit they had.”

“Okay, so you have really good vision?  Is that it?”

“All my senses are enhanced.  Plus I have the extrasensory ability to perceive stress points, fracture planes, or weaknesses in people or objects – combined with my martial arts skills his makes me able to deliver devastating blows.”

“Aren’t everyone’s weak points pretty much the same?”

“Uh . . . no.”

I looked over at Blue who just shrugged “I lived in Kansas City when I was kid, what high school did you go to?”

“John Burroughs.”

“No shit, I went to Parkway Central, do you remember that time . . .”

Martialla glared over at me “What does this have to do anything?”

“I don’t hear you asking any questions!”  Martialla shook her head and crossed her skinny fish-arms “Okay how about this question, why are you in Madripoor?”

“I’m on the run from the mob.”

“Like the mafia in New York?  There’s no mob in the CS.”

“Yes, there is, the Kansas City mob, among others.”

“What?!  There’s no mob in Kansas City!”

“Actually there is.  The DiGiovanni brothers came to Kansas City in 1912 from Sicily and . . .”

Martialla threw up her slimy webbed hands “Jesus Christ!”

December 20, 1973 – Would you be willing to relocate to the Midwest?

Alacazar was nice enough to let us use Pinetree International Exports (what about the imports?) to interview people to round out our squad for the upcoming secret agent thing he wants us to do.  I sat at his desk of course since I’m the leader.  Blue carried in the reception desk for he and Martialla to sit behind, which is kind of cute.  Like little kids emulating their parent at the office.

The process reminded me of the time that I auditioned for a movie.  Even if you can’t act, you have a decent chance of getting cast in a musical if you can sing and are pretty.  And I can sing like a mother and am pretty as balls.  I halfway expected the people coming in to hand us headshots.  Not many locals came to “try out”, I wonder if that’s because they didn’t want to deal with foreigners or if the word was out that we had enemies.  Probably both.

The woman before us didn’t have a costume or anything like some of them do, she was just a woman.  She was wearing short shorts that bordered on being hot pants.  I don’t love shorts.  Cover up your knees people.  Knees are gross.  All knobby and weird.  Keep that shit hid.  She had blonde hair down to her ass which I didn’t love either – I’m pro long hair but keep it within reason.

“So what’s your deal?”

“I can shift myself into two or four dimensions.  I could probably also do one dimension but I don’t think I’d be able to come back from that.”

“What about five dimensions?”

She shorted and tossed her mass of hair, I’m surprised she didn’t strain her neck “Don’t be ridiculous.”

I scowled “What does this power actually do?”

“Well when I’m two dimensional I don’t have any depth, or length if you prefer.”

“So you can do what?  Slide through a crack?”

“Sometimes.  I still have width so I could only fit through a crack if it’s wide enough.  I could slide under a door because a door is big enough for me to go through in three dimensions, but I couldn’t go through a keyhole or a small window because it wouldn’t be wide enough.”

“Could we fold you?”

“Only if you wanted to kill me.”

“Are you invisible from the side when you’re two dimensional?”

“Technically yes, if you’re totally perpendicular to me you won’t see me, but if the angle is off even a little you’ll know I’m there.  I can sort of hide up against a wall, behind a cabinet or the like”

“That doesn’t seem very helpful.”

“It isn’t really, but when I’m fourth dimensional I can travel anywhere in the world almost instantaneously.”

“Cool, how does that work?”

“Did you ever read Flatlands?”

“No, is that the girly magazine that Martialla was in?  Was it the special amphibian babes edition?” I laughed heartily at a well-crafted burn.

Martialla glared at me “I got turned into a fish, what’s your excuse?”

I smirked “Shut up Martialla, I’m stacked and everybody knows it.”

Long-hair seemed confused by this exchange “Flatlands is a commentary on Victorian social norms written as a mathematical essay in narrative form about a two-dimensional world.

“Jesus Christ, I think just hearing that sentence made me sterile.”

“Uh, it explains how to a two dimensional being, a three dimension being like a human would seem like they have super powers.  Among other things.  But really it’s just a matter of perspective.”

“So you can teleport us places?  That would be very useful.”

She shook her head “No, I can be at those places in an instant but just me.”

“So you could travel to Paris instantly, but I couldn’t come with you?”

“No you couldn’t come with me, because you’re a three dimensional being so you can only move in three dimensions, see I’m not actually going anywhere.  When I’m fourth dimensional I can interact with the three dimensional world at any point so to you and everyone else it seems like I’ve traveled a great distance but I didn’t move.  Relatively speaking.”

Blue held up his hand “I thought the fourth dimension was time.”

She ducked her head “The terminology is a little confusing.  Einstein’s theory of spacetime is different from Euclidean dimensions.  For instance, a square is a two dimensional cube viewed from one side, just like a cube is a three dimensional tesseract viewed from two sides.  When someone is talking about time being the fourth dimension they’re referring to time governing the properties of all known matter at any given point.  Knowing an object’s position in time is important when . . .”

I waved my arms “Okay enough, you’re out, I don’t want anyone on the team with powers I don’t understand.”

Martialla snickered “You don’t understand your own powers.”

I glared at her “I understand what they DO, that’s all I meant.” I turned back to long-hair “Wait, do you have an apartment or something?  Someplace I could take a shower?  I feel like I have some kind of fungus on my armpit.  If you can hook me up with a shower you’re on the team.”

“Not exactly, no.

I jumped up and gestured violent towards the door “Then get the hell out of here!”