Tuesday, October 9, 2012

8/11/12 - 9/01/12 - (METALMAID) Unsexy Death Army - pt. 2

An extremely busy four days later, on the 24th of August, METALMAID and a contingency of twenty Slaughterbots are in one of Zalea Zathros' submarines, and heading for Polynesia.

The purpose of this outing is to travel to the small island of Tikei, which was abandoned quite some time ago for reasons no one can really explain. And if they push the sub's engines hard enough, they'll get there just in time for the opening ceremonies of this year's Outland, and, therefore, be in excellent position to dominate the sales floor from the start.

Outland, for those not in the supervillain community, is the annual gathering of costumed crooks, master criminals, science terrorists, would-be world conquerors, and the nearly-endless legions of people who would like to sell them things. It's the sort of party where GORGON, HONEYCOMB, ABWEHR, The Legion, the Brotherhood of the Righteous, and what little remains of SQUASH all come to rub elbows, compare notes, trade taunts, and maybe make a deal or two. Old hands school newbies, wanna-bes star-!@#$ celebrities, and the panel discussions are to die for.

Sometimes quite literally, depending on the topic.

The convention, which convenes in a different location every year, normally takes place in May. Given that SPYGOD !@#$ing blew it up, last year, and that GORGON -- now Imago -- has taken over the world this year, and clearly does not want any competition in that regard, reconvening the gathering has been quite an ordeal. But its' mysterious, ultra-anonymous founders have a reputation to uphold, as they once swore that nothing, short of the total annihilation of all life on Earth, would stop them from putting it on every year.

(The fact that some of their guests, attendees, and merchants are actually wanting to achieve that annihilation, or are willing to sell the tools needed to bring it about, adds just another level of hilarity to an already surreal convention.)

METALMAID's plan is simple: in the guise of THE SCARLET FACTOTUM, creator of the Scarletbots, she will offer an exclusive contract to a super villain with world-conquering goals that meets her three, careful criteria. Those criteria are, in increasing order of importance, 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.

She wants to get there just after the pre-fab structure went up, so as to get in just after the massive security measures are put in place, and just before the opening show. This will not only give her a fighting chance for a good space in the dealers' room, but will also give her a chance to see and be seen, and possibly make some contacts and mention her wares with suitable candidates.

Unfortunately, a wrong turn around Tuvalu puts them badly off course. So, by the time they get to Tikei, dock, unload, and find a good spot to park their robot-piloted submarine, the opening ceremony's already over, and the dealers' floor -- which operates on a strict "first-come, first served, first-situated" policy -- has already had its best locations snatched up.

Thankfully, the spot METALMAID ends up with is not anywhere near any other merchants selling armies to would-be world conquerors -- robot or otherwise. But they do wind up in the middle of a long row, which means anyone who gets to them has already run a gauntlet, and may not be as interested in what she has to say. And they're directly across from a very noisy salesman of very flashy laser rifles, whose rainbow-hued floor show pulls away attention that should be going to METALMAID's kiosk, instead.

(He shoots her a look every once in a while. It's the look that says "I got your customers, !@#$." METALMAID just smiles back and thinks of how nice it would be to use his worthless, fleshy frame as a target in a live-fire demonstration of her new and improved Slaughterbots.)

Undaunted, she sets up her kiosk -- mostly consisting of "Scarletbots" holding signs and video screens -- and begins to sell her wares to the jaded, disinterested, and bored. 

And the annoying. The very, very annoying. 

* * *

"Step up, worthy buyers, step up," METALMAID says, gesturing to a group of costumed convention-goers who give her a second look, sometime around 4:30 on Saturday afternoon: "Are you tired of dealing with weak, fleshy henchmen and soldiers? Are you weary of giving commands that are not followed, either due to fear or incompetence? Would you like to pack the most bang for your buck on two legs, or treads? We at SCARLETWORKS have a solution for you-"

"Those are Slaughterbots," one of the costumed fellows announces, using a fancy monocle to look at the head and chassis of 400 H-03, who's being one of her top models.

"You are mistaken, kind sir," she says, showing him a little leg (not that her scarlet dress leaves much of it, or anything else, to the imagination): "These are-"

"Young lady, I had the distinct displeasure of working with the late Doctor Morbo on a number of joint ventures, back in the day," he says, straightening up and putting the monocle away: "I would recognize his crude and slipshod technology anywhere. These are Slaughterbots."

METALMAID bats her nearly-black eyes at the fellow: "Now sir, you're not being reasonable. Yes, it's true, we did base the external appearance on Doctor Morbo's classic design, but we have improved a great deal upon their offensive capabilities. As you can see from these videos...?"

She waves to a television screen that V-16 is helpfully holding up, which shows scenes from back at Zalea's repurposed lair, and the numerous weapons tests that they conducted there, over the last month. Mini-missiles fly, rail guns eat up armor plate, diamond chainsaws slice servant robots in half, and monofilament wire turns one of Zalea's clones into soup in a skin bag.

"Ah, the pelvic sonic death cannon," one of the unimpressed fellows' cohorts says: "I remember that one. Quite good, really."

"So phallic and disgusting," another says, sighing and sipping at her overpriced latte: "I always thought he was a massive !@#$ing pig."

"Maybe if he worked smarter, rather than harder, he'd have had more time to date and be acquainted with the fairer sex?" the monocle man says, turning to go: "Ah well, a pity. But thank you for the stroll down memory lane, Miss... Scarlet Factotum, was it?"

"What sort of a servile name is that?" the latte lady asks: "Does SCARLETWORKS think so little of its product that they let some scantily-clad tart hawk its wares at a convention like this?"

METALMAID's smile drops flat. Her eyes go from black to red. She erupts into a deadly jumble of weapons and advances on the woman, ready to tear her limb from limb--

"Excuse me," one of the black-masked, extremely anonymous Outland staff says, interjecting himself into the fray: "I'd like to remind you that your weapons need to be peace-bonded throughout the convention floor? Now, if you'd like to settle this violently, you can sign up for a match in the Murderdrome, later. But we'd really like to keep the floors from running red, here. It kind of impedes the green, if you know what I mean?"

METALMAID blinks, "exhales," and retracts all her weapons back into herself: "I think we can let this one go. Unless this fleshgerm wants to try her hand at offensively defecating in my direction, later?"

Latte woman -- who quite visibly soiled herself, just now -- is already heading for the restrooms with one of her cohorts in tow. The Monocle man just smiles, nods to her, and walks away.

"METALMAID," V-16 says: "This unit should inform you-"

"SCARLET. !@#$ING. FACTOTUM." She corrects him, not bothering to wheel around.

"Forgive this unit. Scarlet !@#$ing Factotum-"

"Just... just Scarlet Factotum, please, V-16."

"Forgive this unit. Scarlet Factotum, this unit should inform you that you are no longer professionally dressed."

And no, she isn't. Her dress is in tatters around her, showing off every inch of her weirdly-shaped, human-seeming body. And while there's obviously no ban on nudity here -- half the demonstration staff at most of the booths are either nude or next to it -- it's not quite the corporate image she was going for.

"Well then," she says: "I am going to {Quote}change into something more businesslike{Endquote}. V-16, in my absence, you are in charge."

"Yes, Scarlet Factorum. But this unit has a question."


"What is this unit supposed to do?"

* * *

A very angry half an hour later, METALMAID finally gets to her convention room, changes into a new, stunning, scarlet number, and heads back to the Dealer floor. But, on the way there, as she passes the marquee with all the panels and presentations listed on it, she realizes that she may have overlooked a possible venue for selling her services.

CONQUERING THE WORLD ON A BUDGET seems promising, at first. However, once she gets a chance to talk, and does not take the hint that people didn't want to get a sales pitch instead of a question, one of Outland's black-masked, anonymous staff is tapping her on the shoulder and politely suggesting she should either be quiet or be gone.

Undaunted, she tries to make similar pitches at ROBOT ARMIES FOR BEGINNERS, MECHA OR MEAT?, and THE SEXUAL POLITICS OF WORLD CONQUEST. Each time, she makes her pitch as soon as she can. And, each time, someone from the staff all but pounces on her as soon as she gets to the good parts.

She's about to go into THE HISTORY OF FAILED WORLD CONQUERORS, but no sooner does she head into the room than no less than four members of the staff are there, in front of her, making the sensible suggestion that she may want to skip further panel discussions if she wants to remain at the convention. And, as much as she'd like to rip these !@#$holes limb from limb, she realizes she can't do that now.

So she turns around, walks away, and sits down in a busy corridor, trying to calm herself. But then a large gaggle of noisy, already-drunk conventioneers go by, and they're all wearing I SURVIVED OUTLAND 2011 shirts. The shirts all bear an unflattering caricature of SPYGOD on them, and this makes her want to kill them.

All of them.  

She raises up on her legs, trying to decide between monofilament wire injections or that oh-so-offensive sonic death cannon. But no sooner is she ten feet from where they're headed (the pool? is it naked swim time, already?) than another black mask appears in front of her, arms crossed.

"Are we having a good time, Scarlet Factotum?"

She stops. She smiles. She bats her eyes at him.

"I don't !@#$ ugly robots," he says: "And I don't appreciate having to hear about all the trouble you're causing."

"I do apologize," she says, starting to calculate just how much mega-death she'd have to commit, here and now, in order to show this flesh germ who's boss and beat a hasty retreat before they found some way to turn her off like a lamp: "It's my first time here."

"Don't make it your last time," he says, leaning in close: "You know, we don't really kick people out of the con."

"Oh really?"

"Oh yes, really. You see, there's never enough victims for some of the entertainments we provide, here, and clone screams all sound the same after a while. So if you push us too much, we negate your powers, toss you into a cage, and then come get you when we need you.

"And you are really. !@#$ing. Pushing it."

"I see."

"No, you don't. The only reason you haven't been zapped and bagged already is because our numbers are way down, thanks to SPYGOD taking out half our !@#$ing clientele and the other half being !@#$ scared of Imago coming in and breaking up the party. So there's a chance, just a chance, that maybe you'll learn some manners and not keep this stupid !@#$ up. But if it were up to me?"

He glares at her, and she calculates the mega-death needed again, and then once more. While she's doing that, he pulls a large, jet black booklet out of his suitcoat: "You got one of these informative pamphlets when you checked in. The rules are in the front, and they're pretty short and simple."

"I'll read them when I-"

"You'll read them all, now," he says, shoving it into her hands: "Aloud. In front of me. And I don't want to hear you skip a word."

She looks at the informative pamphlet. She looks at him. He looks at her. And in that dance of eye motions, she realizes that:
1: He's !@#$ing serious
2: She'll have to kill him to get out of this.
3: She'll have to kill the rest of them to get away from that, and-
4: She'll have failed in her mission.

So she opens the booklet up, and gives the best, most exact reading of the rules that she can. She does it with just enough zing and panache that he knows she's trying to make light of it, but not so much as to appear too flippant, and run the risk of being pressganged into the entertainment cages.

He likes it. In fact, he likes it so much he makes her do it again. And by this time, they have an audience of other black masks, old hands, amused newbies, and some of the people who told her to shut the !@#$ up when she was monopolizing their panel discussions.

And they want her to read it again. And again. And again. 

* * *

By the time the joke's gone old, it's Midnight, and she no longer feels embarrassed, angry, homicidal, or genocidal. She's so mentally worn out that she doesn't even notice that she's talking to herself, and that even the staff member who started her reciting from the informative pamphlet has left her.

People are heading off to room parties, dances, costume contests, orgies, organized manhunts, and the like. The Dealers' floor goes around the clock for people who want to attend crazy sales and the like, but she really feels no desire to go back there, tail between her legs,

Instead, she'd rather take a page from her hated {Quote}master{Endquote}, SPYGOD, and go have one !@#$ of a drink at Lex's.

It's all she can do to avoid crying into her informative pamphlet on the way.

(METALMAID is listening to The Robots (Kraftwerk, by way of Senor Coconut) and having one big !@#$ing thing of oil)

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