by Martin Maenza
In an underground complex deep below Centennial Park in Metropolis, a man dressed in a full white costume with blue and lavender trim and a light purple cape was visibly agitated. Despite the full mask that covered every detail of his face, those in the room of hi-tech equipment could hear his every word clearly.
“All preparations have been made, Chiller. Once you perform your historical mission next week, the 1000 will reign supreme!” The masked man pointed a finger on his blue-gloved hand. “But remember — if you should fail, there is no corner on Earth where you can hide from my vengeance!”
The man he addressed was tall and lanky, and his body was covered with a stylized armor of white and red. His bald and ghoul-like head was exposed, revealing bone-white skin and bloodshot red eyes. “Cool your jets, Director!” he said in a deep voice. “I’m the best hit man money can buy! Your pigeons are tough marks, but I’ll take ’em out easy!”
The costumed Director stood fast. “Your confidence is impressive, Chiller. But this is certainly the riskiest operation you’ve ever attempted.”
“Gimme a break, man,” Chiller said. “I know the plan inside and out!”
“Perhaps,” said the Director, “but a refresher never hurts. You will abduct the president and vice-president from the dedication ceremony. Once in a secluded area, you are to assassinate both men, leaving only Bush’s body to be found.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Chiller said. “Then I use my shape-changin’ ability ‘n’ become Reagan himself, while you guys pretend to hold me hostage! You let your boy Senator Ballard engineer a fake rescue deal that frees me, ‘n’ he becomes a hero. Later, I appoint Ballard V.P., ‘n’ after the Congressmen fall all over themselves rushing to approve the big hero, I resign. That leaves Ballard as president.”
The Director nodded. “Excellent, Chiller. Your fee has been deposited in a Swiss bank account, as requested.”
One of the other men in the room raised an eyebrow. “Hey, wait a minute, sir!”
“Your boy has a problem, boss-man?” Chiller asked.
“We can’t pay gruesome, here, until the job’s done,” the brown-haired technician said. “What if he fails?”
Chiller looked at the man with a sneer. “I never fail, boy!” He stretched his hand forward, and there was the sound of a hiss from the armored glove. “As this little demonstration will prove!” With that, the albino put his whole palm on the man’s face. There was a loud hissing sound, and the technician screamed out in pain.
“Chiller!” the Director yelled. “Your acids have no place here!”
Chiller merely laughed as the man squirmed under his deadly touch. “When you meet the Devil face-to-face, tell ‘im Chiller sent ya! Ha-ha-ha!”
The Director turned slightly and shook his head. “You shouldn’t have done that! He was a good man!”
“He was a chump,” Chiller said. “You better hire yourself some better help, boss-man! I don’t like givin’ away my services free!” And with that, the hired assassin left the building.
The Director retired to his chamber and started to remove his mask. That maniac, he thought. It is beneath me to deal with the likes of him! But power does have its price. Even though Black Lightning destroyed the 100 a few years ago, I have rebuilt the remnants of the organization into a new, hi-tech criminal juggernaut — the 1000! No longer are we a mere collection of hoods obsessed with petty crime, drug pushing, and murder! Our power now equals that of any criminal organization in the country!
Beneath the mask was a reddish-brown-haired man in his early thirties. And once I, Senator Henry Ballard, am president of the United States, I will have no equal!