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!”

September 27, 1973 – Avengers Assemble!

Elvis and I ended up on a couple of rickety chairs on the roof of his grandma’s place.  Not like a roof roof you know, it was like a patio with a garden.  Sort of.  It’s a different building style out here so I don’t know how to explain it.  Check it out sometime and you’ll know what I mean.  The first time I saw Elvis, I thought he looked like he had been sleeping in a dirty alley.  Now I think that’s just what he looks like after a day of crawling under sinks and on roofs to fix things.  Also he may have been sleeping in a dirty alley.  He handed me a bottle of . . . something alcoholic.  It tasted sort of like candy.  Shitty candy.  The kind that the bad house gives away at Halloween. 

I took another drink and grimaced “I don’t mean to sound provincial but what you people need is some decent booze.” 

“Sorry, for some reason it’s hard to find good American Kentucky bourbon here.  Must be eight thousand years of having our own culture.  I’m sure your Imperial overlords will straighten us out soon enough.” 

“You keep acting like I’m from the US, and I keep telling you I’m from the Coalition, we save all our military atrocities for South America, not south Asia.” 

He nodded apologetically “My mistake.” 

I asked him to tell me about the Shadow Lords and he did.  Nothing terribly useful though.  In the 1800s someone starts cultivating drugs and selling them to a cartel in the Andes and that leads to one gang which leads to another and Triads from China get involved and then the yakuza during the war and a bunch of people get killed and one group takes over another and etc. etc.  Long story short they’re an organization of violent gangsters in a place where the authorities don’t really care as long as they don’t stop rich people from becoming richer.   

“So, Madripoor has more than its fair share of NBHs right?  What we need to do is gather them together to stand against the criminals.” 

“Stand against how?  You want to kill them?  Gang warfare?” 

“No of course not.  I mean just . . . stop them . . . somehow.  You know, with superpowers.  We could form a league of justice of some kind.  Or a justice league if you will.” 

“Hmm, I’m not sure how being able to jump really high or lift heavy boxes helps with the societal and economic conditions that lead to crime.  Plus anyone like that is more likely to be working for the Shadow Lords or another gang rather than against them.  I know they have two people like that at least in their crew.” 

“Like that guy who pulled that weird knife?” 

Elvis shook his head “No, that’s just a shadowknife.” 

I waved irritably “Sure just a shadowknife, we all know what that is.” 

“It’s a mystic weapon that cuts not just the flesh but also the soul, to enslave the spirits of the people killed by it.  You know how that goes.  Also it allows you to travel to the Plateau of Leng if you believe in that kind of thing.” Elvis raised his glass as if in a toast “The leaders of the Shadow Lords all have them, stolen from a monastery on the mainland, hence the name.” 

“Wonderful.  So I’m not hearing a ton of support for my league of justice idea coming from you.” 

“Well, there’s a guy I know a little who has bulletproof skin, he’s an asshole but he likes money.  He’ll help if you pay him.  There’s a guy around who can turn into a tiger that’s not affiliated with any gang in particular.  He might help if you want to kill these guys.  He likes killing people.” 

“I don’t want to kill anyone!  I just . . . want to do whatever Superman does.” 

“What does Superman do?” 

“I don’t know, send them to the Phantom Zone?  I’m not a dork that reads comics.  What if I made a deal with the Shadow Lords?  If I defeat their champion then they leave me alone.” 

“Why would they agree to that?  And why would you trust them even if they did?” 

“Uh, honor?” 

He ticked off on his fingers “Drug trafficking, sex trafficking, slavery, murder, what makes you think these people have honor?  This isn’t a kung fu movie, the bad guys don’t have a code you can exploit.  Besides which, and I don’t mean to hurt your feelings, you’d never win anyway.” 

“Why do you say that?  I could knock this whole house down.” 

“First, please don’t knock my grandma’s house down.  Second, strength is fine, but who would you bet on in a fight – Joe Frazier or Vasily Alekseyev?” 

“Who’s Vasily Alekseyev?” 

“A Russian power lifter.  The strongest man in the world.  The strongest normal man anyhow.” 

“I take your point but you said it yourself, they’re normal.  I’m stronger than him.  I’m superhuman.  That has to count for something.”

Elvis stood up “Try and hit me.” 

“I’ll kill you.” 

He shook his head “You wont hurt me.” 

After much prompting I eventually got up and stood in front of him.  I threw the lightest punch I could and he slapped it away like a fly.  I tried a little harder and he avoided it again.  He didn’t really dodge or block it, but kind of did both – sliding away and moving my hand a little at the same time.  After the third time, he not only slipped my strike but he smacked me back in the face. 

“Hey!  Don’t do that!” 

“Is that what you’re going to tell the man you want to fight?  Don’t hit me?  All your strength you’re so proud of, what good does it do you if it’s going the wrong way?  Try and hit me for real.  Don’t hold back.” 

I did hold back some, but even a half-strength punch would have killed him I’m sure.  Which made what I was doing rather stupid.  If you’re going to hold back it should be enough to make a difference, otherwise what’s the point in doing it at all?  I did almost catch him once and as he twisted away he threw a strike of his own, I think without even meaning to.  He barely touched me, but I dropped to the ground and started to bawl. 

“You hit me!” 

He came forward with his hands out “Oh shit, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to . . .” 

When he came to comfort me I grabbed him by the shirt and lifted him up off the ground and held him over the edge of the roof “I win.  Don’t tell me I can’t beat someone.  I just need different tactics.” 

He gulped and looked down at the street “No one in the Shadow Lords has any feelings for you to take advantage of.” 

I set him down “Sure they do, they’re just different feelings than you have.  I need to think about your advice, use my opponent’s strength against them.  I can’t win a fistfight or a gunfight, but there are other ways to fight.”