Truth. Justice. Minesweeper.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Every day, among the reports that come in to our computer system is a listing of recent crimes that were, or were suspected to be, committed by supervillains. So I was doing a bunch of things - reading that report, checking out some highly entertaining reports from Cole on Rafhaiel Thing's security, noodling around on the computer - when one item caught my eye.

A veterinarian was killed in his office and stuffed into his own filing cabinet. The vet's name was Ramirez, and that sounded familiar. Where did I know him from?

Maybe it was just deja vu. No. I really did know the name from somewhere.

Uuuhhhhhh! Oh, hell.

I checked back over previous days' reports. There it is, missed it the first time I read it. Yesterday, a guy named Wong was beaten to death by, probably, supervillains, in his house. Yikes.

I called Ingrid. No answer.

Greyghost and Cruickshank were plotting in the blue room. I yelled, "Greyghost!"

They came out. "What's up?" Cruickshank said.

"I think Ingrid's in trouble. I think Underhand's got her."


"The first time I was John Caruthers, I talked to a guy named Wong at that Finnish bank. While I was there, Ingrid called me on my cell. She asked me to pick up her cat at the vet, and she did that thing where she makes you repeat back all the details. Well, Wong's dead and the vet's dead, both in the supervillain file, both in the last couple of days. And Ingrid doesn't answer her phone."

"Come on," Cruickshank said. "That's pretty thin. How's Wong supposed to remember all that crap about the vet, after all this time?"

"Because Nametaker is a telepath," Greyghost said, heading for the door. "He can read the faintest memories. Thing must be holding Ingrid at his mansion; it's the only piece of property he owns in his name in the city."

"Wait!" I said. I didn't know why I said it, but it seemed necessary. But he didn't wait.

"Jesus," Cruickshank said. "If he's got a telepath, and he's got Ingrid... hell, Ingrid knows everything about us."

"Greyghost, hold on!" I said. Still trying to figure out what I was going to say next.

"Dennis. It's Ingrid. I have no time."

"Take time. I have to think. Give me five minutes to think. It's important."

He stood by the door and folded his arms.

I whirled my chair around and thought about a bunch of things. I knew I only had five minutes, so I tried to discipline myself.

First. If Underhand had Ingrid, then presumably he'd use her to set a trap for Greyghost. Presumably it'd be a good trap, specially tailored for his powers. Therefore Greyghost shouldn't walk into it.

Second. If Greyghost doesn't go walk into an Underhand trap, what do we do instead? I thought about Cole's reports on Rafhaiel Thing's security. About our other files on Underhand and his habits and ways. "Dammit," I said.

Third. Assuming Ingrid was still alive - a reasonable assumption, but not a guarantee - we had a bit of time. Until we heard from Underhand, we had time.

Fourth. What made me call Greyghost back in the first place? Okay, the trap argument is a good one, but he's a superhero; he deals with stuff like this all the time. What's my real problem?

The real problem is that I'm pissed off about Ingrid. Not only am I regular-pissed-off that one of my friends has been taken prisoner - I hope - by a criminal mastermind, but I'm extra-pissed-off that she was out and now this war has pulled her back in. Ingrid broke up with Greyghost largely because she was tired of dealing with all his superhero bullshit, and quite rightly too. And she made it stick. She separated herself from the superhero world. That was what she wanted, and she did it. And now she's been hauled back in. And doesn't deserve it.

So... "Aw, hell," I said.

I leafed through some more of Cole's reports. I thought about people, and car keys, and surveillance, and maps. "Goddamn it," I said.

"Are you thinking or just swearing?" Cruickshank said.

"Dennis? Do you have anything?"

"Yeah," I said. "First, you're the wrong guy to go after Ingrid. Underhand is going to be waiting for you. You'd be playing right into his hands. Especially since he probably wants very specifically to kill you right now."

"Go on."

"So what we need is to throw him off guard. Damn it."

"What's wrong?"

I sighed. "Unfortunately, I have a plan. Even more unfortunately, I'm pretty sure it'll work."

"What's wrong with that?" Cruickshank said.

"What's wrong with that is, I have to go into Thing's mansion and get Ingrid."

"You!" Cruickshank said. "What the hell are you going to do?"

"I," I said, "am going to use my super-powers."
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