Tuesday, September 6, 2011

9/3-4/11 - Requiem for a Secret Supervillain

Her name is Victoria Rey, 76 years old. She's 5 foot 2, blood type A-positive, and deathly allergic to bee stings.

Bullets, too, I figure. As soon as she comes downstairs, we're going to find out.

Victoria lives in a nice house in the suburbs of Hartford, Connecticut. She used to teach psychology at nearby Trinity College, and had a reputation for being demanding and directing, but her students still speak highly of her.

(Her colleagues, not so much, but they were clearly jealous of this uppity woman who came from seemingly nowhere, twenty years ago, and showed them all up.)

She retired a few years back, after her husband, Gerald, died of cancer. Now well-paid gardeners keep the lawn green and the flowers perfect. She tips them well for their trouble.

Not that she stays in all day, re-reading the photo albums and crying. She directs the choir at her church, works with the developmentally disabled, and occasionally helps staff the volunteer suicide hotline.

Ask anyone on Turnbull St. and they'll tell you that Ms. Rey's the quintessential nice old lady from down the block. She knows all the neighborhood kids, bakes cookies for neighbors, and is always willing to lend an ear.

But that doesn't explain why I'm in her kitchen, eating her cookies, and waiting for her to come downstairs so I can kill her, now does it?

That's because Victoria Rey is actually Regina King. AKA Mindqueen, mistress of mind control: a name you may not remember unless you're one of those obsessive supervillian spotters with a taste for cheesy, one-note villains from the sixties.

Me, I remember her. All too !@#$ well.

So how did Ms. Rey get here, then? It's a long story, but I think I can shorten it up, here. It sounds like she's finishing dressing and is about to come down, anyway.

You've heard me mention the Legion, now and again. It's like a mutual aid society and job clearing house for supervillains and solo science terrorists. They have a roster of folks who are willing to do jobs for third parties, facilities to bid on those jobs, and a network of invisible aides who aid and abet them, and sometimes even clean up the mess if the job goes down the !@#$ toilet.

Sound like a good deal, son? Well, it isn't, but it does have its benefits, especially if you're a super-powered sociopath with negligible social skills and no sense for getting ahead by getting along.

How do you join? Well, once you've proven that you've not just a one-hit wonder, and have pulled off a few audacious schemes, they'll find you. They'll come right out of nowhere, like smoke, and make a very convincing pitch for joining.

(And, yes, son, at that point refusal is not a viable option.)

When you sign up you agree to hand over 10% of all future earnings in exchange for use of their services, facilities, and aides. This essentially means that they own your !@#$ !@#$ in perpetuity, but no one gets into that life with any illusions of ever getting out.

No one sane or sensible, anyway.

Mindqueen joined the Legion back in 1959. She was 24, scrawny as !@#$, and had just come off a long, dusty stretch of calling herself Brainlady and getting nowhere.

Now, I'm sure that, judging from her name, you can guess what her game was. She had the ability to control people's minds, make them do what she wanted. It was all thanks to a really stupid looking helmet that she inherited from her father, Robert King, who invented it back before the War and gave the and early costumed heroes a number of headaches as, you guessed it, The Brain.

He had a good run, too, actually. The Brain was very much a gentleman thief. He used his gimmick, got the goods, got out, and paid his henchmen well. He never mistreated the people he robbed or held for ransom, never killed anyone, and never allowed anyone to be killed.

He thought it was all a game, basically. And maybe it was to him. 

But in the end, his gentleman nature was his undoing. German saboteurs tried to recruit him in '43 but he refused, citing his love of country, if disdain for its laws. So they shot him full of lead and tossed him in the harbor as a warning to other science villains to play along.

His daughter, Regina, was in on the game from the get go, and eventually inherited his mantle. She had his smarts, and also his secret plans, but didn't have any of his ethics. This became all too clear when she burst on the scene as Brainlady, and threatened to make an entire bank's worth of customers walk off the roof to their deaths unless the police let her walk out unmolested with the goods.

And then she let some of them jump, anyway, just for laughs.

She had a good thing going, but she needed some panache. A contact in the criminal underground got her in touch with some image people, and they gave her a good makeover. They changed her name, got her a better costume, more competent henchmen.

And when she became Mindqueen, and started stealing things to help with more complicated future crimes, the Legion took notice, and gave her a trial run. Saying she performed perfectly was putting it mildly; nasty !@#$ impressed even them with her cold blooded ruthlessness.

She was never one of the big names. She wasn't flashy or omnipresent, and kept it pretty low-key so as to avoid developing a hero nemesis. But the word was that if you needed a person who would brain-pilot someone into doing something they didn't want to do, she was the one to call.

Then came the thing that made her name. The Senator Smith kidnapping. Someone wanted him to not sign some key legislation, back in the late 70's, and he needed a little convincing. So they set her up with a job to kidnap him and his immediate family, and show him the error of his ways, however she saw fit.

How she saw fit was to line them up on I-495, outside D.C., and make them run into oncoming traffic, trying to pilot them into just missing the cars while he watched, helpless and screaming. At some point she decided the near misses were no fun and started trying to make them hit the cars, and wound up killing everyone but his daughter and one of his grandsons.

(Then had him go vote no, and hang himself in his office, before the D.C. police realized that his family was splattered all over the outer belt.)

Senator Smith was from Oklahoma. So is Mr. USA. They were close friends. So you can imagine that, from that point on, the sick !@#$ had finally gotten herself that nemesis she'd spent so long avoiding. And he hounded her like a dog for years thereafter.

At some point, maybe 20 years ago, after enough close calls to turn her hair stark white, she decided she'd had enough. So she took advantage of one of the Legion's other services: retirement.

The deal is simple. They take your tools and talents, and sometimes your powers, and give them to someone who will be your successor. This is usually bid upon, and you might be shocked at how much virtual nobodies will pay to become a legacy supervillain.

As for you, they implant a memory lock, so that your time as a science terrorist is blocked off in your brain, but not erased. They may have need of your skills or memories sometime in the future, after all. They also give you a new identity, a package of fake memories, and a paper trail that sets you up good for the rest of your life.

That's how Regina King came to be Victoria Rey. Gerald was just one of her favorite henchmen, Joey, turned into her husband so she'd have some company. The rest of her gang was sold to the person who's been Brainwave for the last twenty years or so.

Or at least until a day ago, when his world came crashing down around him. It seems that parties unknown invaded his hideout and shot him and his henchmen in the eyes before leaving with all of his goodies.

The same parties unknown who've been quietly observing the Legion for years, since certain, former members made a deal for amnesty (or at least getting out of death row) in exchange for their aid in sneaking into the Legion's supposedly surveillance-proof internal communications.

And the same parties unknown who no doubt "discovered" the brain pilot helmet in Seoul, along with a bunch of dead science terrorists. The science terrorists who were working on destroying all evidence tying them to an attempt to influence yours truly to do something really bad.

Like, say, peeing on General Park's grave.

The same parties unknown who keep a roster of retired supervillains that we can dust off and use as patsies when necessary, and plant evidence of their involvement in something shady we may have done, ourselves. Evidence like the things that lead from Seoul to this very house, where a certain missing supervillain had been lending her long-distance expertise to that questionable operation.

The supervillain who's just coming down the stairs now.

She'll turn to the left when she gets down the stairs, which is when I'll allow her to see me. I will give her exactly a split second to wonder who I am before I let the SPYGOD VISION loose on her, and deactivate the mind block. This will mean she'll remember who I am, and what it means for me to be here, in her kitchen, holding a gun.

One shot to the back, I think. Right between the shoulderblades. It'll leave her weak but alive, and I'll walk slowly behind her as she tries to crawl away for help. She might even have the unmitigated !@#$ gall to beg me for mercy.

Me, I'm going to eat some more of these delicious cookies and let her !@#$ bleed to death. It's a better death than she deserves, but it's the only one this narrative will really let me do.

(That and two to the eyes, just to make sure my version of the truth is the only one that can ever come out.)

No, Mr. President. You do not want to know about these kinds of things. This is sick, even by my standards. Sick and black and arguably evil.

But I got to see what was left of that Senator's family when they scraped them off I-495, more than 30 years ago. I got to hear the stories of how Ms. King ate out on the story when she was out with her friends, before they all ran away from her for fear of Mr. USA catching up with them, too. I got to know that she'd gone into hiding from herself, cheating us of a proper, clean capture and trial.

It's not exactly justice, son. Not even close. But today, here and now, it'll just have to do.

(SPYGOD is listening to Serial Killers Don't Kill their Girlfriend (Front 242) and eating !@#$ good peanut butter cookies)

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