Posts Tagged Evil People Conventions
Have you ever thought about how improbable the global system of air travel is?
Nearly every country on the planet allows fully loaded jets to enter its airspace multiple times a day, and–even more improbably– land before checking the passengers (I don’t know what the alternative would be), trusting the previous country’s TSA to have done the job. And some of these transfers involve countries who wouldn’t hesitate to stab each other given the chance.
It just strikes me that any country with the desire to do so could stuff a nuclear weapon in the cargo hold of an international flight and set it off upon landing. Sure, there have been stories (and movies) where said weapon is sent in by container ship (probably easier) but air travel opens up a great multitude of non-coastal/non-port locations. And finger pointing would be difficult, though I think it’s possible to fingerprint the country of origin by sampling the fallout. (The whole reason I’m speculating here is because I’m not in the mood to start googling things like “is it possible to trace nuclear weapons” or “what’s stopping governments from sticking nukes on planes.”)
By the way, if you’re paranoid, don’t read the previous three paragraphs. If you aren’t, carry on.
In other alternate universes, can you imagine if yesterday’s pirates operated on the same principles today’s do? Near as I can tell, there would be a giant island outside territorial waters filled with gold, food, rum, silver, and what-have-you, where ships would pull in, fill up on all of it, and leave. The island’s stockpile would remain completely unchanged.
Mind you, if today’s pirates operated on the same principles as yesterday’s, Disney would be forced to spend part of its operating budget combating raiding parties, Paramount would be resting on the bottom of the sea, and Shawn Fanning would be imprisoned, having murdered a great number of musicians.
The auditorium was packed–rows upon rows of nameless faces: conspirators and colluders, perpetrators and abettors. Lionel von Drath had apparently just left the stage; he was conversing in the corner with a pair of blue-suited henchmen and stroking his carefully groomed facial hair, mutton chops and a neat blond mustache.
Given a guess, Morris Brandeis suspected the man had given the same speech he had given to the crowd in Achany the week before: how he had graduated from the Academy of Villainy as class Maledictorian. He probably thrilled the crowd with stories of exploding sandwiches and the thousand cheap and replaceable things he had lifted from the classrooms and the charity across the street and the teachers’ lounge on the days he wasn’t setting everything on fire.
He continued to walk down the incline between the left and right seating banks. Cyrigan Ames was finishing up in front of him, but heads were already beginning to turn in his direction, even as she spoke of growing up in the town of Nicle, once the self-proclaimed “Friendliest hamlet on earth.”
It was a good story, he had heard it before as well–how she had grown with the town, corrupting it and changing it and building a reputation of her own. It was no longer referred to as Nicle, however. Ames was renowned for being the woman to single-handedly put the Evil into Niceville.
And yet the crowd was already drawn to Brandeis, who hadn’t yet set foot upon the stage. Ames was slowing now; she had been winding down as he stepped in the door. He watched the audience respond warmly as she concluded and stepped down to join von Drath.
Or rather, those who hadn’t noticed Brandeis enter responded well. Those who had gave perfunctory applause in deference to tradition, even among rogues.
Brandeis approached the podium without a word; the crowd waited as anxiously as could be expected from such a crowd of hardened miscreants.
“My fellow malefactors,” he began. “I’m certain you have heard your fill this evening of antics and escapades, high class and classless destruction. I don’t intend to discuss my achievements with you tonight;” –At this the crowd’s enthusiasm perceptibly sagged– “I’m sure after two hours of stories the anecdotes begin to coalesce into a formless rush of noise, moreso when as listeners you weren’t the ones to perpetrate any of it.”
He took a short drink from a glass of water that had been sitting on the podium since before the first speaker had presented his case hours prior.
“So I will try to describe myself.”
He began to stroll across the stage, holding the glass in his left hand and drinking occasionally. Von Drath crossed his arms and listened.
“Imagine a man who fights with nothing to lose, because he understands that anyone and anything can be replaced. A man who trades in destruction not because of its effectiveness as a currency, but simply because he enjoys the smell. One who each morning spreads butter made from the tears of children onto toast made from kittens. A man who in his foulest and most desperate hour would find himself incapable of hurling the earth into the sun only because he would have done so long before that point.”
Brandeis returned to the podium and set the glass back in its place.
“I am that man’s evil twin.”
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Stasko arrived at the maintenance office thirty-seven minutes later. Wisric had no doubt arranged everything to give him a chance to chat with Corinda Blanch, though there was no guarantee she would be around. Since both Stasko and Wisric had been moved to temporary quarters in the agricultural wing, Blanch had coincidentally been in the area more often, usually for "strategic discussions" with Mot Jarvis, her counterpart and the man in charge of maintenance for the agricultural warrens.
Mot was a short, black-haired man who could be described using a number of adjectives that ended in -umpy. In general he had an ill temper. He had prominent muscles as a result of his fanatical weightlifting, a trait that had required a certain amount of adjustment in the years since he had lost his right arm during an ill-fated safari, as he put it: "Fighting a pair of alligators," which may not have been entirely true.
Nobody really knew the truth about his missing limb, and few entirely understood how he kept the agricultural warrens maintained so well with only one arm. But his resilience in the face of life's oddities had given him an occasional endearing quality, and Leonin visited him when he needed perspective.
Wisric, for reasons unknown to Stasko, seemed to cringe when Jarvis was around.
On this occasion, however, the commons around Mot's office was quiet; Mot wasn't waving his arm threateningly from the break table as he tended to do quite often, but his office door was open. A transmitter buried somewhere in the office was busily spitting out animated conversation.
In the doorway stood the hulking silhouette of Resfarl, one of the few who had managed the transition from Brush to Graevon. If there was one common thread among lunatics it was that they always seemed to prefer keeping the Atlas-types around.
Saunders slowed and took hold of a length of metal conduit near one of the terminals. “I’ll handle Resfarl; you guys go on ahead.”
Anya gave him an incredulous stare. “Have you lost your mind?”
Gregg paused in mid-step. He hadn’t expected an argument.
“Why in space would you want to split up at a time like this?” continued Rayleigh. “We have no idea what that Borius character might be planning.”
“Just go; don’t worry about Resfarl,” insisted Gregg.
“I’m not worried about Resfarl,” she stated flatly. “There is exactly one of him right now, and he doesn’t even have a gun.”
“I'll handle him! Find Graevon and stop him before he commits another act of genocide.” He made prolonged eye contact with her, trying to convey an inability to accept anything other than compliance.
It hardly made a difference.
“Skabs to that! What do you take me for?” She broke his gaze and gestured indignantly toward the other man. “Is this supposed to be some sort of idiotic macho act?”
He stepped back momentarily. “No,” he began, with marginally less certainty than before. “But this will give you time to--”
“Time to what?” she asked, clearly uninterested in any clarifying statements. “Worry about your misguided hide because you want to play the martyr while we're chasing down a madman? Fine.”
She fired two shots, one into each of Micco Resfarl’s knees. His legs gave way almost in unison, no longer coordinating their actions with the rest of his body, and with his weight unsupported he buckled over, clearly out of commission. “Have it your way. While you’re busy being irrational and clubbing him up with your new toy, the rest of us will be solving problems instead of creating them.”