Friday, July 26, 2013
Method to the Madness (#FridayFlash)
When Pulse entered the private room, several others were already seated. Some nodded, some stared or glared. Not all supervillains are unsociable, of course, but neither is it a completely invalid assumption. So Pulse returned the nods, ignored the others, and crossed the room to the keg and mugs. Those who were allowed in the private room were not charged for their beer, but it was strictly self-service.
Jaguar waved Pulse to an empty seat, and let him settle before speaking. "Warmonger should be here any second now," he whispered.
Pulse nodded. "Perhaps he is bringing a keg of better beer. Are things improving for you?"
Jaguar snickered, then nodded. "Yeah. The title to my house came in the mail a few weeks ago, not long after you pulled that bank caper. Bank says I'm paid in full. Was that you?"
"Let us say, I watch my friends as well as my enemies."
"Good. Pulse is here," said Warmonger, coming through the door. "We can get started, then." Ever since a series of schisms a generation ago and more, supervillains did not have a formal organization. Still, they found it useful to meet on occasion, to cooperate on larger capers or resolve disputes. Warmonger, a third-generation villain, had a firm grasp of the history and motivations of his fellows. Thus, he was more coordinator than ringleader. The heroes might see it differently, but who cared what they thought?
So Warmonger poured himself a mug, and leaned across the end of one table. "Pulse," he said, "some of our associates are a little worried. There's talk about you possibly switching sides. Personally, I don't think there's nothin' to it, but you oughtta have a chance to clear the air." He nodded and took a seat.
Pulse drained his mug, and stood. "I rather expected this," he said. "Still, had I even seriously considered switching sides, would I have shown up today? If I were carrying a wire, I would have tripped the alarm. I set up that system myself, and even I have no way of circumventing it short of destroying it. Warmonger himself can verify that it is operating normally." He looked to their host, who nodded.
"My actions in the last few months," Pulse continued, "whether for vengeance or income, were for my own benefit. That they have benefitted others was a side-effect. Although that too has redounded to my own benefit, by taking some heat off me."
"So passing information about Republic Industries to the heroes was for your gain?" DeVine's tone and glare were disbelieving. "I can see the bank caper, but…" he shrugged.
Pulse frowned. "Republic's shoddy products killed one of my minions," he said. "Vengeance is always proper."
"How does handing the heroes the keys to the joint do anything for you?"
"DeVine, you lack vision," said Pulse. "The heroes will do my dirty work for me. And, there is some personal gain involved… and not only for myself, but the rest of you as well." He paused.
"Spill it, Pulse," Warmonger said at last. "What's the scheme?"
"Tomorrow, Republic Industries holds its annual shareholders' meeting. The heroes will go in, guns blazing as they say, to arrest Palmer Lanois and most of the upper echelons of the company." Pulse smirked. "I have shorted Republic's stock, and I suggest you do likewise, if you would enjoy a quick, risk-free profit."
The other supervillains, after a moment, joined Pulse's maniacal laughter.