Saturday, June 28, 2014

Q&A: My credentials

I've been saving this one for awhile. A few villains (who I've never heard of) wrote in with some variation of "Mr. Big, I've read about your goof-off exploits, but what are your serious credentials for villainy?"

I want to tell you the story about how I broke a fellow villain out of maximum security.

First, let's talk about my powers. I grow, but I also shrink. I can grow and shrink things I'm able to touch and surround in an electromagnetic field (the one my body emits when using my powers). The thing is, when grown, I can surround an awful lot of large stuff. Aside from that, when I grow or shrink, I have control over whether my inertial mass changes too, and by how much.

Second, let's talk about why free villains is good for America. The CIA has a secret prison up in Virginia, outside the D.C. beltway. They take a bunch of supers there, dope them to the gills with power-suppressant chemicals, and do experiments on them. I'm not going to talk too much more about that here, except to say it's bullshit to do what they did, even on captives or prisoners, and every human rights trial since Nuremberg has reaffirmed that. We're a better country than that, and their captives had to testify to what was really going on to get the program shut down. So we needed people broken out. I volunteered to help.

The break-in

The people with the inside knowledge gave me enough details to start from - the prison's location and a rough idea of countermeasures - and I did the rest. The site was off in the woods, half-buried, with only a few structures above ground. It was autumn, so I waited for an opportunity, then shrunk down to tiny size and drifted through one of the open windows on a leaf. At the size I was, I wouldn't set off the sensors - my body's cells were too small to register.

I hitched a ride on a guard's pant leg until I got to the cafeteria. I figured they had to feed their prisoners, right? I'd just follow some guard down there. No such luck. The food was for the prison staff. They kept the prisoners - all supers or other "high value targets" intravenously fed for the most part, with only occasional solid food to keep the muscles intact. This is the downside of being a super, kids - they don't always give you three meals in the can, because you don't always need them.

I realized I'd need some more preparation. So I used the next thing out of my bag of tricks. Those of you who have met me know that I'm heavily tattooed. I'm going to say today for those who don't know that most of that isn't ink. I'm wearing about a thousand individually shrunk objects on my body at all times, packed into suitcases or otherwise secured for small things. I skulked around the place for awhile, sneaking through gaps in the concrete, rat-holes, or access tubes. What was I doing? Planting time bombs - I came with boxes of the things. I set them all for a particular date and time. I figured if I could find my buddy within that time, great. If not, I'd use the bombs as a last-ditch distraction.

The discovery

I finally found my buddy, thanks to the prison's record system. Thank goodness it was all on paper. I guess they didn't trust hackers, or people making backups to report to the Congressional subcommittee, or something. Dead trees in cabinets, stored in the administrator's offices. The locks were mechanical too. I climbed inside those to set the tumblers, then resumed normal size for the first time in about three days.

The files contained a lot of interesting stuff, and we might talk about where some of those went in the future. I shrunk them away - this was it, I reasoned. My bombs were due to go off today. They'd know someone had hit them anyway, so why not get some evidence too?

The prison had an old pneumatic tube system for sending messages - the whole place looked like it had been built in the 50's - so I took that down as far as I could. After that it was a lot of skulking through corridors until I got to the vault. The ventilation system was well-filtered, but I was able to get through the screen - I can go pretty small. I kept enough mass to avoid being blown away by the air pump. That's how I got into my friend's cell.

He was in bad shape - strapped onto a table, wires and tubes and everything running through him. They were really treating him more like an experimental animal than a person, and that made me mad. The worst part was his healing factor - they would have to cut him open, over and over again, to keep inserting that shit. I was seeing red as I cut him loose.

The escape

It took him a few minutes to come around, which I didn't have. The alarm went off as soon as the camera inside the cell saw me, but I had counted on that. The door leading out had a block of explosive wired up to it. As the guards clustered in front of it, ready to storm in, I blew the charge. They had it coming.

My buddy was still groggy and his powers were jacked by the drugs still in his system. I unshrunk a few suitcases full of weapons - semi-automatic assault rifles, pistols, submachine guns, plenty of ammunition, and some tactical webbing. I helped him get kitted out, and he nodded in readiness. Together we headed into the corridor.

I had plenty more explosives for the doors between us and freedom. Behind us, a group of soldiers had set up a few M240s down the hall. I fetched out a few more toys and flung them into the hall - huge stone walls I'd shrunk down for this purpose. Let them chew through ten feet worth of rock. We kept moving.

We were a hundred feet away from my chosen exit point when the bombs all went off. The whole prison shook. I thought for a second I'd overdone it, and the place was going to come down around us, but they built it well.

We didn't encounter many problems after that - one of the bombs had gone off by the motor pool, and I heard the sound of the gasoline depot exploding. There's no way they could ignore that. The sprinkler system kicked in a few seconds later.

We had to shoot at a lot of the guards, but I don't think we killed any of them - we were mostly interested in covering our escape, not murder. I threw up another rock wall to block the door of the room I had chosen as our exit point, and started growing. My buddy ducked and covered as I smashed through the ceiling and up to the open air.

The prison was pretty far from the highway. To handle that, I'd stashed away several rockets - the little chemical deals you can buy in hobby stores, not anything military. I lit one aimed for where I thought the highway was, then grabbed my friend, and shrunk us both until we could grab hold of the side of the rocket. Then we took off. The nose cone detached and the parachute came out. Hell of a ride, but it worked.

We made it to the highway, but they had choppers. I unshrunk a sedan - with a full tank of gas, natch - and we got in and started driving. As far as I know, they never made us.

The aftermath

Most of what happened next never made the news. But I will say this: I went back to the prison a few years later. The place is totally deserted, with official seal tape over everything. Congress was not pleased with what they heard about.

Similar operations might be going on around the world. Similar prisons might still be open. Similar experiments might be happening to friends of mine. I took an oath then that I would not sit by if I heard about such things again, and by Odin, I haven't. Sure, I break the laws of the country. Sure, I'm a criminal. But I'm an American, and proud of it.

Villains victorious!