With the toast the four supervillains sat around their conference table. Dark Talon spoke up again.
“Also keeping in with tradition every five years we need to go over how we got started. To keep us humble and refresh in our memories with the real reason we are all doing this. Carl, you have the floor.”
“Thanks Ted,” Doctor Pandemonium aka Carl replied rising. “I prepared a few videos and some pictures which I saved a while back.”
Carl tapped a few buttons and the big plasma TV began to show several old newspaper clippings showing four grinning men in their early twenties holding an oversized check, the younger versions of the men sitting in the room. They were standing in front of a corner store with a blue awning that advertised “Lotto, Beer and The Best Pizza in Town” in bold letters on a sign in the window. The title of the article read “Local Boys Win the Powerball Jackpot! Record numbers for the lucky foursome.”
“That was the day we won and made the first of our pacts. That we were not going to piss the money away like so many other winners that we were going to use the money to benefit the world. And after we each banked three million dollars that was what we did. Or tried to do.”
The heads around the table nodded, with thoughtful looks on their faces.
The next slide on the screen was a collage of headlines:
“Aid Shipment Hijacked!”
“Homeless Shelter Permit Denied: Labor Dispute Main Culprit”
“Clean Energy Bill Voted Down”
“Do-gooders Tied in Red Tape”
“Animal Shelter Demolished by Animal Rights Activists”
Carl continued “It started to go bad then. It seemed like everything we tried to do got turned down or ruined by outside interference. Money embezzled by top people in the groups we set up, supplies stolen or destroyed, wrong paperwork. Paperwork. It was always freaking paperwork. It felt like we couldn’t do anything right. It looked like we were going to give up when the event that changed everything happened.”
The view of the headlines changed to a shaky home video, which seemed to have been shot on a fairly high quality video camera.
It showed the younger versions of three of the four villains in the room lounging around a living room generally grousing and hanging out like friends are apt to do. The recording was rather noisy with talking, the TV going in the background and a radio off playing in another room. The guys were complaining about recent events.
“... and then the city council piped in and said I hadn’t filed the prerequisite paperwork to change the zone from commercial to residential and paid the ‘administrative fees’. Which sounds an awful lot like a bribe to Me.” complained Carl “But two months ago they said that the homeless shelter/drug rehab center needed to be commercial because we would have people working there.”
The camera quickly zoomed in to Mike who was wearing a brand new looking Led Zeppelin T-shirt and sitting on the edge of the couch staring at the TV, trying to ignore Carl’s rantings. He waved his hand at Carl “Shhh, they are about to reveal the verdict.”
The room quieted down.
The image panned over to the screen where a suited man behind a podium was reading a pre prepared statement. “… After deliberation and much thought the United Nations Council of Developing Nations has decided to issue sanctions against the Warlord of Kraagbwei for crimes against the people of Kraagbwei and hijacking and willful destruction of relief aid. Furthermore…”
Mike angrily turned off the TV and threw the remote down. “Sanctions?! That’s it? He destroyed almost a million dollars of food, livestock and supplies that those people needed. And all he gets is sanctions? Seriously it is like honest human beings can’t do anything without being penalized and the bad guys can do anything and get away with it!”
The camera pulled out catching Ted leaning forward from the easy chair he was lounging in, tapping the gold hued rounded hilt of the sword he had resting against his leg, an eagle prominently displayed on the pommel. “Then why not become villains? Think of all the good we could do if we didn’t have to obey any laws.” It zoomed in unsteadily on his face, it looked serious and earnest. Ted paused looking at everyone’s faces. “And besides we already have what is considered by the internet the greatest of all super powers… money.”
Except for the music from the radio in the background the room fell silent. The camera panned back and forth across the assembled people.
Mike spoke first. “You aren’t serious are you? That sounds crazy. Being villains?”
“What happened to helping humanity?” Carl butted in “Villains blow up dams, take hostages, rob banks and try to rule the world. That definitely isn’t helping humanity in the slightest.”
And finally the man behind the camera spoke “I dunno guys. It makes a twisted sort of sense. If you can’t beat them join them. And get them to do work for you without them knowing it. The idea has potential. The right and legal way hasn’t worked out for us yet. What do we have to lose by looking at the idea?”
Ted nodded. “Exactly Dave. Put the camera down and let’s talk about this.”
The camera abruptly blurred and came to rest on a cushion, the picture at a ninety degree angle, as they began to talk.
The video faded to black on the monitor as Carl faced his cohorts.
“And thus after many hours and days of arguments and planning our League of Benevolent Villainy was born. As part of our long term plans we then bought all 4 houses on the end of the street. Had the connecting tunnels to our secret room constructed and set up our hidden lair. With the five chairs. One for each of us and the fifth for inevitable time traveler or discoverer of our true purpose.”
Dave aka Overwatch chugged his fourth soda and interrupted waving his hand in an impatient manner, “Bla Bla Bla, we kept that name secret and used the League of Brutal Villainy instead so everyone will think we actually were bad guys. Bla Bla Bla. And that I think about covers the rest of the history lesson. All in favor of moving on?”
Four voices as one “Aye.”
Chuckling Ted took charge. “Ok let’s get to current business and ongoing projects. Mike you go first.”
“Thanks Ted, I have good news to report. As of last month in Kraagbwei literacy rates have increased across the board. For those under twenty we are at seventy percent and for those above twenty it is at fifty three percent. Which is almost double what it was five years ago.”
He got a round of “Good Job!”s and a few claps.
“That’s not all. This year we will have our first crop of graduates from the university. All of which have jobs waiting for them. Around half of them the country of Kraagbwei is employing for infrastructure building and advancement and most of the rest Overwatch is going to use for work on the satellite defense grid.” He gave a slight bow to Dave. “Kraagbwei officially thanks you and Skyshield.”
Dave gave a small smile, gave a slight nod and raised his soda can in toast. “And Overwatch and Skyshield formally thanks the country of Kraagbwei for training the people we need for the Extra-Solar Defense Grid and other deep space operations.”
“The long range forecast for Kraagbwei looks pretty much like The Seer predicted. Some of our neighboring countries are making threatening noises and posturing. We expect an attack or provoking incident within the next 3 years. The contingency plans for that remain updated with current information. Overall the morale of the populace is good and is improving. About 6 years from now it will be time for me to listen to the people and open up the country to general elections.”
“Excellent news Mike. So who wants to be next?”
“I’ll go.” Dave cleared his throat, “Skyshield is on schedule with its construction of the components for the defense grid. Our estimates show that we will have enough for minimal Stage One dispersal in about nine months and coming up to the fully synced Stage Five grid in two years. Those numbers will of course change if we get a major breakthrough or get some additional support up there.”
Ted nodded “I’ll look into it and see what I can do. Zeeros did me a favor and might need a place to lay low for a while.”
“Thanks, she would be a big asset up there. And in other news. The Cretaceous project’s security is holding and the project is almost ready for unveiling. The slush asteroid has almost been towed into position and the moon impact trajectory has been calculated for impact on Mare Humorum, with boosters placed and coordinates tracking accordingly. In about two months I can make the ransom demands and issue the threats about dropping the asteroid on Washington DC.”
“All your airtime has been paid for already and the interruption devices will be on standby starting a week prior to your estimated date of unveiling.” Interrupted Ted.
“Good. One less worry. And I think you guys will appreciate a few of the modern takes on the classics that my team incorporated. My personal favorite is the motion activated timed detonators. The detonator is inert until it gets a reading of a human sized object approaching it then its timer starts with a forty five second countdown. If no action is taken it resets after thirty seconds and triggers again at forty five seconds when another object approaches. And another nice touch is cutting any wire will disable it. And it has nice big bright wires including the classic red one.”
The room burst out laughing at his description.
“So when enough are disabled there is a terrible explosion sending the slush ball,” He made quotation marks with his fingers “’off course’ to impact on the moon. Providing the moon base that Skyshield is building, and will” finger quotes again “’abandon’ when someone comes to stop foil us, with plenty of ice and hydrocarbons for water and air. I have something else but I will let Carl unveil that bit next.”
“Thanks Dave.” Carl began rubbing his bald spot as he talked. “Our tech development continues at its estimated pace. But other than in one major area we have had no real breakthroughs, just a few small upgrades to existing tech here and there. “
He checked some notes on his phone. “Liquid Turtle, our body armor project, is ready for sale to governments through our normal front, Global Technical Unlimited. Our final figures on the armor is that it is thirty percent lighter, fifty five percent better protection, gives the wearer more mobility and it costs one third of the price to manufacture than current US issue Kevlar. Which will be great for keeping people alive. And it will boost our legal income.”
“And keeping you all current on the Foiled Again plans for my area, I am fairly sure that one of the members of Development Team C will betray us in just under a year if things go to schedule. It looks like we hired the right woman to have a crisis of conscience. My forecasts at this point predict her using the chemical formula for the Resistex material to build some ‘symbiote’ style body armor, ‘liberate’ some of our portable tech and join a super team in the Boston area. Our betting pool today is whether she is going to snag the freeze tech, the somnolence tech or go the adhesion route with the expanding goop, which incidentally was an offshoot of Resistex research. Who wants to place a bet on what?”
Mike leaned his head on one hand while his elbow leaned on the table. With is other hand he counted off his questions as he listed them. “Four questions. Where is she from originally? What did she do before she got recruited? Does she have family? What is her personality like?”
“Good questions. She is from the Boston area. She was a senior going for her chemical engineering degree. Her parents are both alive and she has an older brother. At recruitment she was the intellectually superior wallflower type. Now she seems more driven.”
The other three around the table made appreciative noises.
Carl looked to Mike, “You spoke first. What do you think?”
“I have a dollar on adhesion. The chemical engineering means I think she can reverse engineer it. And the Resistex connection is a pleasant bonus on that.”
“I’ve got a buck on freeze tech. Intellectually superior wallflower? Definitely a chip on her shoulder. Probably arrogant. In my book ice user typically equals arrogant.” Dave piped in with a grin.
Ted just sighed and shrugged. “I guess that leaves me with somnolence. I’m not going to take it and offer a different option. I think she has someone else on the inside with her. I’ve got a dollar on none of the above.”
Carl continued “With that out of the way I think I can talk about one of our super long term goals. Early last month we solved the unsolvable. By we, I mean Dave’s and my people working together solved it.”
Ted and mike looked at each other and each shrugged and took turns listing off the plans they knew of.
“Mind uploadable Cloning?”
“Nope. But closer than you think on that one. This time next year I think we will be up to 50% success rate.”
“Finding Hitler’s frozen head?”
“Sorry, nope. Just the usual whispers nothing new or concrete.”
“Stage two of the power detection array?”
“No. Still stage one. We are having some delays on that one.”
“Cracking Tesla’s broadcast energy transmitter?”
Ted rolled his eyes. “I’m out. Can you guess anything Mike?”
“I’m out too. Unless they somehow managed to crack cold fusion. But that one is eternally ten years away.”
Dave and Carl quietly smirked and said nothing.
Mike looked sharply at them. “No way. You did it? Seriously? You two monkeys figured out cold fusion.”
“Yep we did.” Nodded Carl. “Apparently you can get the atoms to react properly in zero gravity.”
Ted started clapping. “Incredible. I can’t believe you did it. That will solve so many problems. Pollution, natural resources, the energy crisis.”
Dave looked a bit sheepish. “Yeah, don’t get so happy. It’s worthless. It is completely unusable. It costs too much to do. The energy output does not equal the energy put in to kick start it. And it can only be replicated in zero gee.”
“Yeah. Sorry guys but cold fusion is a bust for us. Zero point energy looks more promising. Unfortunately I think we are ten or more years out on that one... So, yeah... No cold fusion energy. The documents and research involved will of course be leaked on to the internet in the usual places. Hopefully someone can take our work and build on this.”All the disappointed heads around the table nodded sagely