Sunday, October 14, 2012

8/11/12 - 9/01/12 - (METALMAID) Unsexy Death Army - pt. 4

The trip from Lex's Bar back to the dealer's room, arm in arm with the Violet Demon, seems to go too short, and yet take so long. They're both talking a mile a minute, and finishing each others' sentences, but verything they're saying to each other goes in one of METALMAID's audio-receivers and out the other.

The feeling is what matters, here. And all she's feeling is that, in spite of her long-standing and utter hate for anything even remotely DNA-based, she's finally found someone she can trust. Someone to call an ally, and a friend.

(And maybe that L word? Maybe?)

Is she being foolish, here? Does she care? Should she care?

Does her initial plan matter? Can she kiss and kill? Can she really see sharing a world with someone who wants to play with it like a toy when all she wants to do is stomp out humanity in the name of the late Doctor Morbo? 

Her programming is telling her one thing. Her feelings are telling her another. In the conflict between the two, she's lost on a heady wave of ones and zeros, positives and negatives.

Black and white are starting to mix into grey, and for the first time since the night SPYGOD !@#$ed the Television, high on weird, science terrorist drugs, she feels like her world's expanded out to infinity. Like a child's toy sailboat with a broken string, she's been blown out into the middle of a wide, deep lake, and could literally go anywhere from here.

Anywhere at all.

The freedom is so giddy and giggly that she's barely aware that he's asked what the !@#$ all that screaming and shouting is. It takes a massive explosion before she realizes that something's amiss.

And then another, equally massive explosion before she realizes that it's one of her massive explosions.

"Those are my Slaughterbots..." she says, knowing the sound of a pack of mini-missiles going off on a single target.

"Oh, you have more than one product line, here?" he asks.

"Scarletbots, I mean," she covers: "It's the oil."

"Of course," she thinks he's grinning behind the devil's mask: "I wonder if someone started a Donnybrook?"

She doesn't know what the !@#$ that means, but as she and her would-be buyer/collaborator/victim hustle into the dealer's room, she has the sickening feeling that her sailboat has just been sucked down into a whirlpool of !@#$.

* * *

Early in METALMAID's career, back when she was simply 900 K-14, she was present when a supervillain summit went horribly, terribly wrong.

It had been a good idea, at least on paper. Doctor Morbo and a few of his older cohorts decided that, in the wake of the postwar bloom of science terrorist outfits -- like SQUASH, HONEYCOMB, ABWEHR, The Legion, and the like -- independent operators like themselves were getting muscled out. And the fact that they spent a good deal of their time fighting and scheming against each other, rather than the science terrorists, Strategic Talents, The COMPANY, and the law, was really wearing down their resources and time. 

To try and overcome this problem, Doctor Morbo invited his allies -- and a few of his more sane and reasonable rivals -- to one of his stronger castles in the hopes of creating some kind of compact between gentleman villains. He had hoped to make a governing body with membership drives, rotating leadership, a merit and demerit system, a transparent and trusted enforcement arm, and a common goal that all but the most insane, genocidal, or selfish could agree to: the quiet and total conquest of the Earth.

It was a complete fiasco -- and one that remains largely unexplained, even to this day.

Was it Mister Foulness who'd made the first languid, slithering, and complex insult, or The Lord of Spiders? Was it Duke Bloodmoon or The Human Scream who'd thrown the first, uber-fatal punch? And who brought actual weapons into the fray -- Steel Corsair, the Steamqueen, or the Emperor of Pain?

Did the henchmen cause it, or just die like the good and true servants they were? Was the food drugged, or the wine poisoned? Did certain outside elements throw in a ringer, or launch a mentally-controlled human bomb into the mix?

No one could really say for certain. All that METALMAID knew was that, by the time she was summoned off patrol to deal with the mess, 3/4 of the room was dead or dying. And Doctor Morbo was sitting in his tall, iron chair, coated in others' blood and squishy flesh bits, and crying into his gauntlets as his hopes for a better future bled out in front of him.

Such was the depths of the event's fiascosity (as the late Doctor would have put it in his badly-mangled English) that he became something of a pariah figure amongst his colleagues for the rest of his life. But even they realized that the central idea behind the meeting was quite sound. In fact, a few of the survivors would later meet -- most notably without Doctor Morbo -- and hammer out an agreement that would lead to the creation of the Brotherhood of the Righteous. 

A few years after that group's founding, another, more successful summit was held by those who'd not been invited to the other meeting. However, this one was held in a neutral location, by a neutral party, and the science terrorists were admitted as surprise guests to give "their side of the story." As such, all attempts to undercut or work around them something of a moot point. 

However, thanks to the omnipresent and firm hand of the black-masked, anonymous persons who convened that summit, the histrionics and ultra-violence of Doctor Morbo's attempt was thankfully avoided. Furthermore, the attendees actually had a !@#$ good time, even if no progress to a solution was made. In fact, the meeting bore enough positive fruit that someone influential said "We should do this again, sometime!"

And so they did. They invited even more people, and charged them for attendence. They had entertainment, and lectures, and vendors. They had film festivals and screenings, panel discussions, and even a service by the First Church of Jesus Christ, Supervillain.

Five years later, they started calling it Outland, and such was its forward momentum that it lasted for decades without significant interruption. Even last year's near-total destruction of the event -- and Imago's conquest of the Earth -- hasn't stopped its backers from convening it again, just later than usual.

Which means that, in spite of the horrible, screaming, burning, bloody mess that METALMAID is seeing it will probably be held again, next year.

There will just have to be more safeguards in place in the dealer's room -- especially around the weapons dealers.

* * *

"Can someone please tell me what's happening here?" one of the black masked volunteers is asking. He's missing an arm and has lengths of intestine slowly pulsing out of a sizable hole in his lower abdomen. He's so in shock that he doesn't even try to use his one, good arm to put them back in, preferring to ask a stupid !@#$ing question over and over again, stumbling through the flaming junk that was the dealers' room.

The room is on fire, shot to !@#$, and splattered with corpses. It looks like most of the dead were fighting one shared enemy at the time, given that they died facing a central direction, and have weapons in what remains of their hands. The others are people who were caught in the crossfire, or tried to stop it. Scattered survivors try to help their friends away as quickly and unobtrusively as they can, but no one is even attempting to attack the victors of this slaughter.

That would be the 20 Slaughterbots that METALMAID brought with her, who are seeing to their re-armament and repairs in short, exacting shifts. 

"What. The. !@#$ing. !@#$ing. !@#$. Happened?" METALMAID shrieks as she plows through the dead, dying, broken, and burning, heading straight for V-16: "I told you to {Quote}mind the store{Endquote} while I got changed, not blow it the !@#$ up!"

"Forgive this Unit," V-16 says, gesturing to a costumed fellow who's examining one of the slightly-damaged Slaughterbots as it repairs itself: "Our buyer wanted a demonstration of our capabilities before signing the deal."

"You..." METALMAID starts to say, and then, sees that the costumed fellow is the one with the high-tech monocle who'd been so dismissive of them, the day before.

"I see that your claims are quite true, Ms. Scarlet Factotum," he says, standing up and brushing off his pants: "My name is Doctor Kyklops. Perhaps you have heard of me. Doctor Morbo and I were allied occasionally, between the wars."

"That's... nice," METALMAID hisses: "If you wanted a practical demonstration, I think we could have arranged for a less... explosive one."

"Ah, but where better to test your claims?" he asks, stepping forward: "Here, in this room, with the best weapons that can be offered, we have a crucible. That which is false is burned away. All that remains is the truth, and the truth is that you have some very nice warbots, Ms. Factotum."

"I can't disagree with that," the Violent Demon says, finally catching up with METALMAID: "It must have been one amazing fight, sir. I applaud your audacity."

"Yes, thank you," he says, adjusting his monocle and looking at the purple and white fellow: "Excuse me, young man, have we met?"

"I'm the Violet Demon, sir," he says, extending a hand: "I'm actually quite an admirer of your work. Your lightning gun is still a marvel, even in this day and age. In fact, I think I bought one of your third series-"

"Ah, yes," Kyklops says, waving away the offered hand: "I do not do autographs. But, perhaps, once I reconquer the world from these upstart fools, I shall have room in my service for people with excellent taste."

"That would be an honor, sir," the Violet Demon says, putting his hand away as graciously as possible.

"But, to the matter at hand?" the doctor goes on: "Ms. Factotum, I will be very happy to pay your price, and more, in exchange for your services. I am told you can bring more than a hundred such robots to bear?"

"I can, but-"

"Then I would like to take half of these into immediate service, with the remainder to be delivered within the week. My plans are quite time-sensitive, you understand?"

"I do, however-"

"Ah, you are concerned about payment? I understand, and applaud your shrewdness. I can pay 100 billion Euros in untraceable Bearer Bonds, half of which I will give you this very day, the remainder, upon delivery of the rest, and more to be given if I need more. Shall we say seven billion for each additional?"

She's about to say that the sale's off, and she's already found a buyer, but then the cold light of reason and her ultimate plan finally win out over the gibbering, happy parts of her brain that this Violet fleshbag awakened. And she realizes that the man who's offering to buy her services fits expertly into her three categories: he's wealthy enough to afford her, dedicated enough to take on Imago, and foolish enough to be easily disposed of once the world has been taken over. 

Also, he's a massive, stuck up !@#$.


She turns to the Violet Demon, trying to figure what to say to this strange, compelling person -- the first flesh germ she has not hated -- now that she must disappoint him. She does not have the programming to say that she's sorry, or express regret, or even understand why she's so !@#$ing angry, right now. All she knows is that they could have had something, here and now, in this place, and now it's been squashed like a bug by unforeseen circumstances not entirely under her control.

Thankfully, he looks at her and nods: "This isn't the first time I've been !@#$-blocked, hon. Just would have been one of the best."

"I wish I knew what to say."

"I do," he says, putting a hand on hers: "We will work together, one day, Scarlet. Maybe as equals?"

"I'd like that," she says, letting him take her hand up to his mask and mime a kiss: "I really would."

He tilts his head, maybe making a real smile behind the white, false one, and hands her a purple, heavy stock business card with no writing on it: "It's got communications gear in it. Keep it try and safe, and if you need to contact me, speak my name directly into it. I'll find you."

"I will," she says, holding the card in both hands as though it were the most precious thing in the world.

"Then until next time," he bows with a flourish: "Oh, Doctor? Sir? I'll tell the black masks that it was the !@#$hole selling lasers across the way with the rainbow suit and no manners. It'll give you enough time to get out of dodge, anyway."

"Yes, that would be most... helpful," Doctor Kyklops says, waving him off: "Good day to you, young demon."

The Violet Demon nods and makes the Vitarka Mudra at him: "Be seeing you."

Then he's gone, halting only to regard the eviscerated black mask as he finally falls to his knees, topples over, and dies.

And, long before the black masks descend on the conflagration, so are they.

* * *

The initial handover -- which takes place at Kyklops' impressive sea-saucer -- goes very well, if very !@#$ quickly. 

Something about what just happened has METALMAID very !@#$ing jumpy, and as she bids goodbye to V-16 (and gives him very quiet and explicit instructions) she can almost feel the approach of some lurking doom. She's barely cognizant of the doctor making strange, antiquated come-ons in her direction, or the promise of more money faster if she can deliver the balance of the Scarletbots in time.

"Be sure to tell your company that I am delighted that they sent such a comely salesperson," he says, running a finger down her arm and kissing her hand: "I hope to do more business with you in the future."

"I shall do that," she says, taking the bearer bonds and going: "And yes, we will."

All the while back to her sub, she thinks of all the wonderful things she's going to do to his aging, weakened body once he's served his purpose. She wonders what would happen if a monofilament wire was unspooled into his raging, hard !@#$, and then twirled around his no-doubt shriveled prostate. After she shoves his monocle up his withered, puckered anus, of course...

She's so intensely involved in her revenge fantasies that she almost doesn't notice the telltale, whiteboard sounds of the Imago teleporting in. By the time she realizes that Outland is under attack, she's just outside of her submarine, and hustles in just before they turn their attentions to the "parking lot."

And by the time they think to scuttle their victims' means of transportation, the sub is running deep and silent, and heading as far away from what promises to be an epic slaughter as its engines will take it.

* * *

Later, in Zalea's lair, she sits and stares at the purple card. She thinks of what might have been, and maybe what should have been. And she realizes that she's being foolish, and that things have worked out exactly as they were supposed to.


"The Imago got the television, again," the Zalea closest to her complains: "Said they broke up a really bad knot of evil. People who were in league with that thing coming from outer space to kill us. Was that where you were?"

METALMAID looks at her and smiles, putting the purple card someplace safe and special: "Never mind where I was, flesh germ. How are we equipped to handle making a hundred more robots?"

"Well... if we could get in the parts, maybe we could do three a day if we work around the clock-"

"We're going to make five a day," she insists: "Make more of yourselves if you have to. Sleep less, work more. I don't care if you melt at your workstations. We need another army and we need it now."

"Okay," Zalea mumbles, walking away to deal with the cloning: "You don't have to be so rude about it..."

METALMAID just smiles, looking at the larger-than-life sculpture of Doctor Morbo that one of the Slaughterbots made for her in her absence. His sneering mask commands her attention and obedience, and his gauntlets are raised to the sky in total subjugation of all living things.

"'I use the best, I use the rest,'" she whispers, running a hand along it. Was that a line from his book of maxims, or a line from a pop song? She doesn't remember, anymore. All she knows is that all the wisdom in the world can be found in that sentiment. 

She will use this Dr. Kyklops fool. She will take his money and make her army. She will let him use it until they have victory, and then kill him.

She will win. She will conquer. 

And nothing, and no one, will stop her.  

(METALMAID is listening to The Robots (Kraftwerk, by way of Eugene) and thinking she tastes victory in the air.)

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