"A submarine?" I ask, incredulous. "He got away in a submarine?"
I'm still in the Pan Pacific Hotel in lovely Vancouver, B.C. Kestrel is popping a tape into the suite's VCR. Apparently he's as narcissistic as I am and he Tivos the local media for any mention of his exploits, just like me. I wonder if he keeps a scrapbook of press clippings too.
"He must have had it waiting in the Bay or something," Wombat says, eating some chips on the couch. "The cops think the Baron may have intended to transfer his loot from the blimp to the sub. Either that or it was just there as a back-up, a getaway car."
"Here you go," Kestrel says. On the TV screen is footage from the KOMA news helicopter of a submarine on the surface headed out of Willapa Bay into open water.
"Son of a bitch..." I mutter, leaning in closer. My left shoulder (the one that got stabbed) protests, and I ease back in the couch.
It's definitely Baron von Blitzkrieg's submarine; it's got a distinctive retro-futuristic design, and looks sort of like a robotic shark. A large dorsal fin cuts the water and a ridge of metal spines running along the ridge of the hull gleams in the sunlight. It looks phony, but it's not. It kind of reminds me of Captain Nemo's Nautilus from the movie 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea.
The sub hits the breakers at the edge of the Bay and eases into the Pacific, then dives in a froth of white water. Soon it is just a liquid shadow under the surface, then it's gone entirely.
"I can't fucking believe it," I say, but of course I can. That's what supervillains do; they escape to plague you another day. Sometimes I can't blame guys like The Regulator for just killing them.
"Yeah, bummer, huh? The cops captured about a dozen of the Baron's troopers, total," Wombat says. "And check this out: their hearts are on the left side of their bodies."
I look at Wombat. "Dude, you already told me that."
"Oh..." Wombat says, perplexed.
"Okay, what about the deal up in the Yukon, with the space zombies?" I ask. "What happened there?" (see post Yes! Space Zombie Apocalypse! 1/22/05)
Kestrel fast forwards the tape. "I'm getting to that. Ah, here we are."
The TV stops on an image of Dr. Quark of the Storm Riders, standing at a podium during a press conference. He's outside somewhere, flanked by bureaucrats in overcoats and Canadian soldiers in body armor. Dr. Quark has got to be one of the most composed motherfuckers on the planet. He answers reporters' questions about the narrowly averted apocalypse as if he were reading a quarterly earnings report.
"...hard to describe in rational terms, but basically the meteor that struck north of here contained what we call 'anti-life organisms' that infected the surrounding area. The anti-life matter came into contact with bacteria and microscopic life at first, infecting it, then grew to the point where it could easily infect and convert large animal lifeforms, such as the citizens of Dawson."
He points to a reporter, who asks an inaudible question.
"Yes, the anti-life effect spread from the impact zone to the town of Inuvik, then Dawson. The more life forms it came into contact with, the stronger the phenomenon became. We're fortunate that the meteor didn't land in a heavily populated area."
Dr. Quark, Surgeon of Reality is a handsome middle-aged guy with dark hair and grey temples. He wears a white lab coat over a black suit that seems to be full of stars, and he has a matching domino mask. He's consistently on SuperPeople's "Sexiest Heroes Alive" list. What can I say, chicks dig smart guys.
Another unintelligible question.
"Well, for lack of a better term, the anti-life effect turns infected life forms into zombies. The walking dead. Ghouls."
"No, unfortunately there is no way to reverse the process."
Another inaudible question.
Dr. Quark says, "Once we determined what we were dealing with, the Storm Riders, in full cooperation with the Canadian government, cordoned the area to stop the phenomenon from spreading. We called in some specialists like Fantasma Goria, Dreamwalker, and Canada's own Petromancer to help establish a barrier.
"Then we sent two teams into the zone: one under the leadership of the Midnight Rambler neutralized the infected life forms in Dawson and the surrounding area, while the other team contained and removed the anti-life matter in the meteor crater."
"Storm Lord launched the material into the Sun, yes."
"Good question. The Midnight Rambler's team was vaccinated against the phenomenon's effect before entering the zone. Next?"
An un-miked reporter asks a long, involved question. Dr. Quark nods patiently as the guy goes on and on with his question. Then Dr. Quark sighs and says:
"Valkris is obviously a very attractive woman but our relationship is strictly professional. Next question."
It goes on like this for another few minutes.
Basically it's yet another world-threatening menace crushed with the cool professionalism and godlike powers of the Storm Riders. As I watch Dr. Quark speak, I can't shake the feeling that I've seen this cat before somewhere. But that's not possible; I'd remember meeting a guy like that, wouldn't I?