Ted leaned back in his chair, hands behind his head, fingers interlaced. “Well it is my turn now. And I have to say all of you have had plans and projects that outshone my efforts in this last year. Grand dramatic schemes and goals which for the most part paid off. This year I just played at support, creating new opportunities and building our contacts.”
He leaned forward. “Business has been pretty decent on all three fronts. Our new ID program aka LowLife is paying pretty good dividends. We are averaging fourteen new identities a month for various organizations and individuals. Some are going undercover and others are actually going legit.”
“About what percent are going legit? And how do you calculate that?” Questioned Mike
“To answer your first question; it is looking like just under thirty percent. And how I know; as part of the LowLife program, for an extra fee, we offer a disposal service that gets rid of all their various paraphernalia. From hidden bases and labs, to power suits and weapons, to extra dimensional portals. Just about anything that could tie them to their past that they don’t need or want to be associated with we gladly take off of their hands. Anybody who wants things that cleaned up definitely wants a clean break and a new life.”
Dave looked a bit incredulous. “Let me get this straight. We are getting paid to take high tech or dangerous items and reduce crime. By the criminals themselves. You sir deserve the title of genius mastermind. So what are we doing with all the stuff we gather?”
“A few of the more interesting or useful pieces get sent to research labs that we have contracts with to reverse engineer them. The rest get boxed up and stored in depots scattered all over the world. They will be delivered to the former owners completely maintained and charged. Ready to go with the operational plans if the Defense Grid is ever activated and the SkyFall Scenario actually becomes a reality. The people who are part of LowLife have no idea that this will happen of course.”
“So the SkyFall Scenario is really worrying to you. “ Inquired Carl.
“Yeah, it is. Projections that it will happen are really low. But the fact that it can happen at all is not good. Especially because from what I can find, other than ours, there doesn’t seem to be a plan preparing for anything remotely like this by anybody.”
Everyone nodded knowingly.
Dave piped in. “I’ll keep my ears open with my extra-solar contacts and send word back if there is a rumble. As an aside after the Cretaceous project is done I am heading out that direction anyway for a while to keep out of trouble and the inevitable angry manhunt. And besides, I’m a known good guy out there. It is so much more fulfilling to be upfront about doing good stuff and punching the Vrall in the face.”
“Hey Ted I forgot to ask, How much does it cost on average for LowLife? “
“It starts at five mil with another two mil for disposal and goes up from there.”
Mike whistled “That’s good money. So that’s like..?”
“Over eight hundred million a year at a minimum using the average he gave.” Calculated Carl.
“Like I said. Good dividends. Keeping in mind that we actually pay about three quarters of that money in overhead, it is still a bit of profit.” Ted grew serious “In other news I got an invitation to meet with the Nocturne Council in the next few weeks. I have no idea what they want. And frankly it makes me a bit nervous appearing before them completely blind information wise.”
“You realize I don’t leave the lab much. Can one of you fill me in on who they are? It seems like I should know who they are.”
“Sorry Carl. The Nocturne Council is made up of the things that go bump in the night. There is a werewolf or two, at least one vampire, an immortal warrior from China, and I think a necromancer of some sort. Oh and I shouldn’t forget about the two members of Sidhe royalty, the unseelie kind, the really scary kind. And who knows what else. The rumor is that they have been around for centuries and if you were a magical big bad you were on the council. Sorcerers, wizards, dark creatures and the like from all over the world scheme and plot to get a place there.”
“Everything I have found implies that they are a cabal of some sorts. Plotting and planning for completely unknown purposes. They might be the real basis behind the Illuminati rumors that have existed for just about forever. But why I am going there is a total blank. They could be happy with me. They could be mad. I am pretty sure we messed up at least one of their plans. All I know is I need to get all the magic and psionic dampeners and blocks that I can in place before I go so they don’t rip my mind apart if they feel that urge.”
“Can’t you just not go and ignore them?”
“If I do that it could be worse for us in the long run. And besides my alias of Dark Talon is magically inclined thanks to the Gauntlet of Sirmyone and the other little objects I have been able to squirrel away. I just can’t say no. Hopefully I’m not totally screwed.”
“Well that is depressing.” Groaned Mike. “Anybody have anything to add about our smaller projects? Any new ideas that we may need to look at? Or anything else that they want to share for that matter?”
Carl chuckled, “Some of the hero team building exercises have been paying off and we are getting rid of some dead weight that belongs behind bars. For example Scorpbionic got stomped pretty good in Austin by La Torero and a group of others she gathered together. It looks like they might form a good team in the southwest. Scorpbionic was partially dismantled and currently resides in prison. He failed to live up to his ‘contract’ so isn’t going to get broken out by our jail breakers.”
“What was his contract?”
“He needed to limit his activities to a certain geographic area and only go after certain items for us, for which he’d get a cut. Information came his way about some high tech items that he was lusting after and he got greedy. La Torero got an anonymous tip about him and took care of him for us.”
“Good, that guy was a dangerous rogue. I’m glad to get him off the streets” Smiled Ted “We did something like that in Seattle. But with a twist. We sent Beastitrix up to harass a druid circle up there. You know her, the low talent crazy chick who talks about herself in third person all the time and controls animals. We assumed that they would easily stop her and bond together making them more effective and strengthening the magic level of the Northwest. We messed up.”
“Well she is better at what she does than we thought. She somehow dominated a tribe of Sasquatch. And whooped on them good. It was only by chance that they managed to get a hold of that C-list team up there who somehow stopped her. But that caused the Aetheric nexus up there to bond weakly, worsening the magic containment in the northwest.”
Dave cocked an eyebrow “A bunch of Bigfoot... really? That inept crazy chick found and controlled Bigfoot. And even better, the nameless C-list heroes got involved. And how did you learn about all this.”
“She used her one phone call to let us know.”
“Ouch, I kinda feel bad for her now.”
Ted laughed. ”I kinda do too, and the worst pat for us is that she actually accomplished her contract and we have to break her out. Mind you it might be a month or two. But she is on the reclaim list. We have to keep them loyal and happy. Putting them on the reclaim list and breaking them out cements it. Oh and something funny the nameless team actually applied for an official team designation. Storm Patrol”
“That sounds a bit pompous for C-listers like them. But I guess it is good to have ambition.”
“True, you have to give them an A for effort and heart. But that C is all ability.”
The whole table laughed.
“I had something a bit weird happen to me the week before last.” said Mike becoming a bit more serious after Ted’s comment “I was visited by Forethought. He just walked up to the capitol building and asked for me. Fortunately the receptionist there recognized his name from the always admit list and sent him up to me. He gave me a set of one shot Stasis Modules. I have no idea what I would need these for. I of course made sure he got to a neutral country to make his way home”
Dave looked a bit startled at Mike’s admission. “I was going to bring it up after I studied it more myself, but he also dropped in on me last week too. I got a broad beam Teleportation projector. This is pretty useful and I have plenty of ideas for it. But what does it have to do with benefiting mankind?”
“You know we are doomed right?” Carl half-joked “Cause he got me too. A trans dimensional viewing interface. Which from what my people tell me is an interdimensional window. Some of my best and brightest got pretty excited by it and are trying to find a way to make those windows into doors. The old geniuses plan is paying off. They help a phenomenal amount with their knowledge base and experience. The occasional mad diabolical rant gets old, but overall it works pretty well. We should try to have something like that happen for the good guys too.”
“I’ll put that idea on the list of action items. We should call it something cooler and a bit more heroic. Something with the word mentors in it. Well sorry to disappoint you guys but I was not visited by Forethought. So it looks like I won’t be needing something to help me at the moment. It could mean that I am not in danger, or I’m just not actually doing anything to help the world.” Ted chuckled. “But we should really keep our eyes open to see if these devices overlap and try to find out who else Forethought may have visited with recently. This could be more important than we think.”
Ted stood up and stretched. “Well all I think we managed to get quite a bit of stuff done in this last year. And this next one might be just as busy. I think we should call the official part of this meeting done so we can finish the pizza and beer and watch some more football before we go back though the doors, through the tunnels, up to the basements of our happy little houses in our happy little cul-de-sac, where our happy oblivious little neighbors don’t have a clue what it is that we actually do. Anybody have anything else that they want to add before I call it?”
“Yep I have something. “ Dave got up and walked over to his suit and hit another stud on his gauntlets. A beam flashed and into his hand fell three oddly shaped pale grey rocks. He walked over to the table with a smile and set a piece in front each of the other three members of his brotherhood. “These, boys, are actual moon rocks. Just like we used to dream about when we were kids growing up in the foster home. I picked up a box full to hand out when I did my sight survey for the moon base’s location. I thought you would want a bit of the moon even if you never get a chance to go there.”
His friends all quietly in wonder picked up their gifts and looked at them. There were smiles, looks of awe and maybe even a little bit of dampness in an eye or two, which must have been due to moon dust kicked up by the air conditioning getting in those eyes.
“This is the coolest thing anyone has ever given to me. “ Carl said moving over and giving Dave a bear hug. “I’m never going to forget this for as long as I live. Thank you.”
“Yeah, thank you.” Mike and Ted both echoed still marveling at their space rocks.
Dave smiled picking up the remote and a slice of pizza. He thumbed the flat screen TV on “… And with the unusual earthquake halting play in the latter portion of the third quarter the game was called in favor of the Titans…”
“I declare this meeting of The League of Benevolent Evil closed. And afternoon football open.”