Targets: Part 16

The Syndicate L representative walked through the door only moments later.

If Ray had worn his khakis and button down shirt as some kind of office camouflage, the Syndicate L rep went one step further.

Middle aged with a tinge of gray in his brown hair, the guy wore a light brown suit coat over a black shirt. I thought I saw a bulge under his left arm, but couldn’t be sure.

It had to be a gun though.

Aside from that, it pointed to an interesting pattern in the Syndicate L higher ups I’d seen–they didn’t look like thugs.

It fit, I supposed, with how they were more focussed on transporting illegal objects than committing crimes. Passing as regular businessmen could only help.

It still seemed weird though.

From what I’d seen so far of them, it seemed like the only criminal organization I’d ever heard of where having an MBA might help you get ahead.

He didn’t seem all that impressed with me though. He looked me over, and smirked.

I couldn’t think of anything particularly funny about how I was dressed, but then I looked down at my shirt. In my rush to get moving, I’d grabbed the first dark, long sleeved t-shirt that I could find–a black shirt with a big, yellow Batman symbol on the chest.


“Looks like we got ourselves a tough one, Ray.” He laughed at his own joke.

Then he pulled out a chair and sat down.

Under his breath, he said, “Ray, his name?”

“Nick,” Ray muttered.

“Nick,” he said, “call me Allen. I’m from Syndicate L.”

I didn’t intend to call him anything, but I was happy to put Allen at the top of the list of names I didn’t plan to use.

He paused, possibly waiting for me to say something like, “Allen, nice to meet you. It’s a pleasant change of pace to be held captive in a conference room.”

I didn’t say anything.

“Nick, Nick, Nick,” he said, sounding a little more patronizing with each “Nick.”

“You’ve caused us a lot of problems, and by us, I mean the Syndicate, not Ray and I. Anyway, what was I saying? Oh yes, millions of dollars in damage in California alone, and that doesn’t even count the way you interrupted our Grey Giant delivery. What a mess that was. We had to remove the man in charge of this territory, and I came in to straighten things out.

“I suppose you could say I owe you my job, right? But no, that’s not true. I’m not here permanently. I’m here to fix things. I’m a fixer.

“And one of the things I’m here to fix is you.”

He took a breath.

So did I. Allen had to be one of the most talkative enemies I’d met so far.

“We’ve got two ways to make things right. One of them you won’t like much, and the other… the other could lead you on the path to greatness.”

Ray glanced over at him, his face unreadable.

Allen kept on talking.

“We can’t let you keep on doing what you’re doing, oh no. We’ll execute you before we let that happen, but we’ve got another option. We don’t waste material. We recycle. Ha-ha. We see something in you. A potential. A potential for genius in the art of constructing technological devices. A–”

“Allen,” Ray said, “Allen. Get on with it.”

Allen curled his lip. “I was getting to our offer.”

“Get there faster.”

“As I was saying, we’re prepared to offer you a position working for Syndicate L, creating powered armor, devices, and anything else we might need.”

“What if I don’t want to do that?”

“Then I’m afraid we’ll have to kill you.”

“That’s not much of a choice.”

Ray smiled at me. “It’s not meant to be. Now for anyone who might be listening in invisibly, I’ve got a message. We’ve taken our hostages and moved them to separate spots all over the area. If I don’t call them once an hour, my people will kill the hostages. Better than that, I don’t know where they are. So you can have Ghost phase a bullet into my brain, and they’ll die. And you can have your telepath rummage through my brain, and they’ll still die.”

“Precisely,” Allen said. “And speaking of telepaths, we need to know what your plans are. Fortunately, we have one who can crack you like an egg. I’ll get her now.”

He stood up, and went to the door.

14 thoughts on “Targets: Part 16”

  1. Hmm. Sensible, prepared, civil… I like these guys. Just because you’re evil doesn’t mean you have to be crazy or thuggish.

  2. and doesn’t even count the way you interrupted our Grey Giant delivery.

    I think the word “that” should be used after “and” in this sentence.

    and that doesn’t even count the way you interrupted our Grey Giant delivery.

    I can’t wait to see what happens next. Call in Daniel’s dad to find the hostages maybe?

  3. “We can’t let you keep on do what you’re doing, oh no” – shouldn’t that be another “doing” in place of do?

    Anyway, much appreciative (& impressed) to have an episode awaiting me when I got back from Christmas.

  4. Notto Mention/Jeff: Thanks for the corrections.

    As for the episode existing at all… Well, it’s easier to get it out when it has to appear a couple days after Christmas. On Christmas would have been a pain. Some years I’ve taken the week of Christmas off. This time Christmas and New Years are both coming up on the weekend, so no big deal. That won’t impact the schedule.

    Mazzon: As someone whose wife has worked with psychiatric patients, it’s hard for me to imagine a crazy person successfully trying to run an organization, much less take over the world. My experience of mental illness (in others) has been both sadder and weirder than it usually appears in fiction.

    I’m sure I’ll use it in a villain at some point, but I hope I do something interesting with it.

    Anyway, presumably rational, educated people can do amazingly disturbing things.

  5. so Jim, another priceless episode. I was laughing the whole time. The amount of one liners in this one was unbelievable.
    I firmly believe that if this episode occurred earlier in the story Nick would have had a hard time deciding because the opportunity to tinker as much as you want is something tempting for most geeks.
    P.S. For anyone interested check out “How To Succeed in Evil” for more of this corporate evil. It is about a man named Edwin and his organization who try to make villainy as efficient as possible.

  6. I forget who it was who commented on the “little things” that make this story sooooooo amazing.

    Allen is such a smug bastard.

  7. Holy Eggbeater, Rocket-man! They’re going to bring in a telepath to turn your head into an omelet!

    Poor Ray and Allen. They don’t realize that Nick and the League never have a plan that far ahead…and this is going to get physical too. That poor ex-mayor.

    And we can’t forget the rational evil. Sure, crazy men might order purges and holocausts, but regular people rationalize and go along with it and do the work at the personal level. Some of them want to, some of them have to in order to survive.

  8. Well, they could have Ghost phase a knife about an inch in right between his shoulders, severing the spinal cord. That’s less than 5% of ever recovering mobility below the neck, barring some sort of supernatural healing.
    And then have Daniel redecorate his brain and force him to speak in the phone once an hour while a certain technomancer kid is tracking down the phonecall.

    Of course, that’s quite a bit more cold-blooded than our heroes could stomach… but Lee is quite another matter and has had millennia to come up with effective plans instead of my only three decades.

  9. Ok so a death threat and a job offer. Either isn’t good and worse they know exactly who he is, and probably who the rest of the Leage is as well.

    And a telepath, oh yeah this is going to be lots of fun and probably painful for Nick.

  10. oh yeah. The definitive guide to “and/or I” vs. “and/or me.”

    I went to the store.
    We went to the store.
    My sister and I went to the store.

    My mom took me to the store.
    My mom took us to the store.
    My mom took my sister and me to the store.

    Works every time.

  11. @Bill: I think that was me.

    @JN: I was hoping for something a little more knock-down drag-out in a “vs.” here. Y’know, like Spider-man vs. Wolverine, that sort of thing. All you gave us was something that resembled poetry, but wasn’t. Next time, let Psycho Gecko do the fight scenes. 😉


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