by Brian K. Asbury
“You failed, you moron!”
The blue-clad man hung his head in shame. “I’m sorry. There were super-heroes there. We didn’t expect that.”
The man in the leather chair glowered. “Super-heroes or not, you should have been able to handle them. What did we give you those powers for, Floode?”
“And to cap it all, your partner let himself get captured. The operation was a complete fiasco.”
“I’ll get Mister Fyre out of jail…”
“No, you won’t. One of my other agents can do that. What you will do is lie low for a while. And I don’t mean you’ll be living the high life, Mister Floode. It’ll be a strict regime of training, more training, and even more training for you, and don’t even think of indulging in any luxuries until I’m satisfied you are fit to go out again.”
“Because the next time you go out on a mission, Mister Floode, I do not expect you to fail. And should you encounter super-heroes again, I do not expect you to run away from them. I expect you to kill them!” He leaned back in his luxurious chair and lit a fat cigar.
Ken Hanson fiddled with the key to the handcuffs worn by the tall blond man. “These were quite unnecessary, you know, Chief Superintendent. I never had any intention of causing you any trouble.”
“I’d rather not take your word for that, if you don’t mind, Count,” said Hanson. “All right. You’re free to board that plane.”
Count Vertigo rubbed his wrists. “How kind of you, Chief Superintendent. And will you be serving the in-flight meals, too?”
“Don’t push your luck, Count. Nobody here is very happy about this, from the prime minister on down. I only sincerely hope that your country wants you back, only to lock you away for a very, very long time.”
Vertigo smiled. “Oh, I doubt that, Chief Superintendent. I am a hero to my people — and with the power of the Soviets crumbling, I fancy that, as the last of the native Vlatavan aristocracy, I shall soon be in a position of great power in my country.”
“And pigs will fly.”
“Well, we will see.” Vertigo picked up his bag and started towards the waiting plane. “Goodbye, Chief Superintendent.” He stopped and looked back, still smiling. “Or, should I say, ‘au revoir’? A cliché, I know, but quite appropriate.”
“I hardly think so,” said Hanson.
“Ah, but I do,” Vertigo said. “To quote the phrase that that Austrian muscleman is so fond of saying…” He paused.
“I’ll be back!” And Vertigo started up the steps into the plane, laughing loudly.