It's like Bridget Jones' Diary, but with a super-powered vigilante.

March 31, 2005

My Trophy Room

One thing I think a proper superhero should have is a trophy room. It’s part of the culture. In the comics Batman has trophies and relics in the Batcave; a huge T-Rex , a giant penny, dead Robin’s suit, etc. How exactly did Batman get the big dinosaur in the cave, I wonder? I guess he has as a Batforklift or something. Anyway, in real life Silver Striker has that museum that keeps getting blown up, and the Minutemen have Liberty Plaza. I’m sure the Midnight Rambler has a trophy vault somewhere, and I’d love to see all the crazy shit the Storm Riders have up in the Weather Center. My point is, everybody has a trophy room.

Space is an issue for me, so I have to settle for a trophy wall inside the Secret Chamber, which I really need to air out; it smells like a wet yak in there. So far I only have three items in my trophy collection: the stake I used to kill that vampire in Turbine City, a fancy gold dagger from one of Baron von Blitzkrieg’s officers, and the Insekt III claw. I mount the dagger on the wall and put the stake in a metallic picture frame next to it. The display for the robot claw is really cool; I mounted the claw on a black pedestal and put a large bell jar over top of it.

There. I step back and admire my trophy wall.

You know, I could make little plaques for each trophy that explain what the item is and the story behind it…

Okay, I need to stop. Getting a little too Martha here. Who’s going to read the fucking plaques? It’s a Secret Chamber.

March 30, 2005

Media Report

The fight with the robot played really well on TV. I Tivo all the local news and later that night I sit in the Secret Chamber in my bathrobe, eating Tom Kah Gui and watching the coverage. The KORN helicopter got a really great shot of me cartwheeling away from a toppling stack of steel containers, and another cameraman got a quality shot of me holding up my prize, the robot’s claw.

They interview a Burlington Northern official who says, “It could have been a lot worse if the Velvet Marauder hadn’t intervened.”

The Paracrime Unit’s Capt. Sledge is not as charitable. He stares into the camera and says, “The ECPD has both the training and equipment to deal with situations like this. We were cordoning off the area when the Marauder illegally interfered in a police situation. People could have been killed.”

What an asshole. People could have been killed while Paracrime sat on their asses, he means. I can’t help it if I’m a super-fast crimefighting machine and beat his goons to the punch. Dick.

I make the front page of the Times and the Inquisitor (both in color), and I come off like a stud. The Inquisitor has a little article about the Insekt III robot, complete with a neat picture of the thing and some more background information. Apparently there were four of those things on the derailed train, but only one of them went apeshit. Experts speculate that the impact triggered a self-defense protocol in the robot. Fortunately its chain gun wasn’t loaded and its “electro-field” wasn’t online. The Insekt IIIs are the latest in a series of security robots designed by PomTech, a Pomeranian arms and aerospace company. They’re designed for perimeter defense – the Pomeranians use them to guard their nuclear plants. The four Insekt IIIs on the train were bound for Spokane. The buyers?


March 29, 2005

Robot fu

I’m in my office working on nothing in particular when I hear on NPR about a train derailment down at the docks. At first, I don’t think anything of it. What am I going to do? I’m not strong enough to pick up train cars, and it’s the middle of the day. I rule the night, etc. So I sit on my parahuman ass and drink my coffee and don’t give it a second thought.

A few minutes go by and I hear what sounds like an explosion. I peer out the window; my office has a good view of most of the harbor. Can’t see anything, but a column of greasy black smoke drifts into view.

Suddenly our regular NPR program – I think they were talking about soil acidity or something equally gripping – is interrupted by the local public radio news guy.

“We’re interrupting our regular programming with this breaking news: a train has derailed in a rail yard near the docks, causing a series of explosions and a fire. Emergency units are on their way and are blocking off 1st Avenue at Oyster Bay Road. And… we’re getting reports now that… i-it appears that there is some kind of robot in the rail yards that is reportedly causing some of this damage –“


That’s the magic word.

I rush out of my office and run down the hall into Margo’s office, which is on the north side of the building – she’ll have a good view of the whole thing. Margo is pressed up against the window, cupping her hands against the glare.

“What’s going on?” I say.

“Giant robot or something,” Margo says. “I can’t really see anything – too smoky.”

She’s right, the rail yards, which are about half a mile away, are obscured in a thick haze of smoke. I can see police lights and fires burning intensely among the shadowy hulks of container cars. I see some railroad workers running. Something’s moving around down there…

Then a cop car flips through the air, flying out of the smoky gloom like it was launched from a catapult.

“Did you see that?” Margo says. “That was a cop car!”

I’m already out the door.

My suit is in the trunk of the Saab, which is in the parking garage. I run to my car and pop the trunk. How am I going to do this? I can suit up and be there in no time, but somebody might see me leaving the building. On the other hand, I’m parked on the fourth floor of the garage and I’ll probably waste five minutes going down and around and down and around the ramps, then wait while the fucking garage security gate slowly creaks open… and by then the robot or whatever may have killed a bunch of people.

Another explosion shakes the parking garage. I can hear police and fire sirens, and news helicopters thrumming in the air overhead. Fuck it, I’m suiting up here.

Within two minutes I’m pulling the cowl over my head, snugging my goggles into place, and checking to make sure my gauntlet-launchers are loaded with Marauderangs. It’s go time, baby.

I drop out of the parking garage into the alley below, sprint the 200 yards to the rail yard fence, and then launch myself over the barbed wire in one huge leap. I land like a cat on top of a container car and slide into Pose #1: Vigilant Dragon, surveying the scene. God, what a strutting peacock I am.

Here’s the situation: I’m at the edge of this vast rail yard, a series of tracks that feed into the Port of Evergreen City’s container terminal. As usual the yard is crowded with container trains and stacks of big steel cargo containers. Big red cranes looming like dinosaurs in the background. The smoke from two fierce fires burning in the center of the yard obscures much of the scene, but I can clearly see two derailed trains. It smells like oil. Cop cars and fire engines gather at the edge of the rail yard. News helicopters circle overhead. Over the sound of the helicopters I think I hear gunshots. I think I can see the robot or whatever, moving around in the smoke. When I zoom in with the binocular setting on my goggles, I see it. No shit, it’s an honest-to-God rampaging robot.

Oh, hell yes. I am all about berserk robots.

I better do this quick before the Paracrime Unit shows up and takes it down. Still, no sense going in half-cocked. I switch to the scanner on my suit’s audio system. My cowl’s headset crackles to life.

A guy on Paracrime’s frequency says, “…according to the manifest it’s being shipped to Spokane. Made in Pomerania. We’ve got the manufacturers on the phone, stand by.”

A Pomeranian robot. Figures.

I hop from container to container, drawing closer to the scene.

The guy on the radio says, “Panda units, be advised that robot is an area-defense model. Manufacturer believes that the train accident may have damaged the unit and triggered a self-defense mode. Let’s see, uh, the robot is called an Insekt III. There are up to nine different modular weapons configurations, but most commonly it is equipped with a chain gun, flamethrower, and a 40 mm multi-purpose weapon – whatever that is.”

I turn the radio off as I hop up on to a stack of containers that will give me a good look at it.

The Insekt III strides into view and I can’t help but be disappointed that it’s not a little bit bigger. I was hoping for a giant robot, and this one’s just… large.

It looks like a big mechanical fiddler crab to me. It’s body, which is about the size of a small car, is held up by six double jointed grasshopper legs with big round feet. One long articulated arm sprouts from the top of the torso, sporting a mean looking claw-type appendage. The robot’s “head” is a sensor pod on top of the torso that looks like a motorcycle helmet. The whole thing is painted a handsome forest green.

(I couldn’t find a picture of the Insekt III online, but it looks and moves very similar to this thing: click here)

The robot sidesteps on its grasshopper legs and stops, as if it’s listening. Then it swivels around and its big crab arm points up at me. Well, it definitely sees me. I’m about twenty yards away and thirty feet up on a stack of containers. Suddenly I wonder if that’s too close.

I leap off my perch just as the Insekt III fires.

The shockwave catches me in the air microseconds before I hear the deafening explosion. Out of control, I bounce off a container and fall on to the concrete of the rail yard.

What the fuck was that? I think it shot something from its arm – maybe that’s the 40 mm multi-purpose weapon the cops were talking about. Whatever it was, it put a big smoking hole in the side of the container I was sitting on and made my ears ring.

Okay, where is it? I can hear it moving nearby, hidden by a container train and black curtains of smoke.

I hop up on top of the container train for a better view –

--and the robot’s big clawed hand looms suddenly out of the smoke. The crab pincers gape wide and close around my waist. Before I can do anything it has snatched me off the top of the train and is raising me into the air – the serrated vice claw squeezes with amazing strength and I feel my breath leave my body. Little tiny motes of light dance in front of my eyes and I feel lightheaded.

Okay, I take back what I said about hoping for a bigger robot. This one’s fine.

In a moment of weird lucidity I notice that the big claw that’s crushing me is just part of a more complex tool mounted on the end of the Insekt III’s arm. It has a chainsaw, several lights and camera lenses, a flamethrower nozzle, and a wide-barrel grenade launcher weapon. I briefly wonder who ordered the robot – somebody in Spokane? I can’t believe they were shipping it in a container on a train –

And then it throws me into a train head-first.

I’m pretty sure I black out. Yes, because the next thing I remember I’m face down in the dirt, tasting my own blood in my mouth. My ears are ringing. Is my head bleeding? Squinting with pain, I look around. A fuel truck burns nearby. Everywhere I look I see derailed train cars and toppled containers. I cough. The smoke is choking, thick.

With measured mechanical steps, the Insekt III crawls on its grasshopper legs out of the smoke towards me.

I try to get up, but the horizon tilts crazily when I do. If I could just clear my head for a second.

The robot stops and turns around so that its fiddler crab arm is facing away from me. What’s it --? A panel slides open on the top of the robot’s torso. A black apparatus rises from the torso and snaps into a horizontal position. It looks like –

A gatling gun. It’s the aforementioned 20 mm chain gun.

The chain gun swivels until its pointing directly at me.

I wish I could move; I’m bulletproof, but not against shit like this. I wish I could move –

The Insekt III fires. The chain gun barrels spin. Nothing happens. The gatling gun just spins, whining like a drill. I smile with bloody teeth. The chain gun’s not loaded.

Suddenly inspired by my near-death, I pull myself to my feet. The Insekt III is adapting, the big arm is swinging around again fast. I rush towards the robot and grab on to the barrel of the impotent chain gun.

Fwoosh! A tongue of flame from the claw shoots overhead and splashes against a fallen train car.

Okay, I’m thinking more clearly now. I figure the best way to beat this thing is to stay close and try to fuck it up from the inside, which is why I’m still hanging on to the chain gun. I squeeze hard, crimping the multi-barrel gun. From here I can see inside the hatch in the fuselage and into the robot. Maybe I could drop a grenade in there…

The claw is back. It snaps at my head, which I am attached to, so I let go of the chain gun. Dropping under the torso of the robot, I roll out from under the stamping grasshopper legs, then leap behind a stack of containers. A blast of flame chases me.

My ears are still ringing, so I almost don’t hear the stack of containers falling until it’s too late. The Insekt III pushes the top few containers of the stack over, which tumble down towards me. I cartwheel out of the way as the huge steel boxes crash down. That’s right, I cartwheel. Again: not gay.

But now I’m out in the open and the robot has me in it’s sights. The big clawed arm swings around, rearing up like a cobra ready to strike.

I jump towards the machine as the killing arm comes down. It digs into the earth like a pick, narrowly missing me. I skid under the thing’s belly again and pop back up the other side.

Like I figured, I damaged the chain gun enough that it couldn’t retract back inside the armored fuselage. I grab the bent barrel and dig around in my utility belt. I hear gears and servos whine as the robot’s arm swivels around, poised to attack again.

Score -- I find the grenade I’m looking for. I pop the pin and stuff the grenade inside the chain gun hatch. I hear it rattle around inside, a satisfying noise.

I launch myself backwards, away from the robot. I smack hard against a steel container thirty yards away.

The Insekt III takes a step towards me, crab arm raised high. Then there’s a hollow boom from inside the robot. It shudders and slumps a little. The big arm slowly droops to the ground. The mechanical beast spasms and burps smoke, then is very still.

Having seen far too many movies, I don’t believe it’s dead. I creep forward, waiting for the limp arm to spring to life. It doesn’t.

New helicopters beat the air overhead. I hope the smoke wasn’t too bad and they got some decent footage of the fight. I hear sirens. God, I almost forgot, this place is surrounded by cops!

I rush over to the arm and inspect the claw.

“Freeze!” somebody shouts behind me.

I kneel down and grab on to the robot’s claw. It’s really well constructed, but I bet I can pull it off. I pull.

“Get your hands up!”

I glance over my shoulder. Two Paracrime troopers in black body armor and hockey masks walk towards me, aiming MP5s at my head. They’re twenty yards away. I pull harder.

“Marauder! Get your hands up or we will shoot!”

It’s starting to give. I pull harder.


The big serrated pincers tear free from the mechanical arm. They’re pretty heavy. Satisfied, I stand up and turn around. I can’t tell because of the spooky hockey masks and all, but these cops seem pissed.


“Drop the claw and put your fucking hands up!” one yells.

“It’s my first robot,” I say. “I just want a souvenir.”

Then the wind shifts and smoke billows between the cops and I. Not being stupid, I get the hell out of there, back flipping up and over a train. They hold their fire.

I’m laughing as I run at about 40 mph through the rail yard with the Insekt III’s claw tucked under one arm.

I fucking rule.

March 27, 2005

Blogger, why you hate me?

Why you hate me so much, Blogger? Why you eat my posts? You make Marauder cry.

Patrol Report

Another boring patrol. I break my recently imposed rule and listen to some music on my suit’s audio system – Scissor Sisters and Panjabi MC are in the mix. It was either that or The Little River Band. I’m serious.

Anyway, there’s nothing going on. No muggings, no supervillains, no cops hunting me – yawn. At least it’s raining; we could use the rain here in the E.C, after our dry winter.

My current nemesis (Nemesi? What’s the plural for nemesis?) the ECPD Paracrime Unit have been pretty low-profile lately and seem to have turned some of their focus away from hunting the Velvet Marauder to training and other tasks. Maybe they realized that I don’t go out on patrol every night because I am a lazy bastard, and moved on to prey with a more developed work ethic.

Weeks ago I planted a KOMA bug on one of the Paracrime troopers, which has allowed me to glean some valuable intel about the unit and keep me one step ahead of them. They currently have 24 hour surveillance on some woman’s apartment in South Bend near the river – I have no idea why. That’s the frustrating thing about electronic eavesdropping: nobody speaks clearly into the mike and handily summarizes all of their plans for me. You actually have to interpret the bits and scraps of information that dribble in. Every other night I listen to the audio feed from the bug in my Secret Chamber and I always feel slightly sheepish and stupid. The Midnight Rambler would be able to collate, interpret, and organize all this random info into something useful, then concoct a brilliant plan. Me? I just sit in the Chamber in my sweats eating pizza and wondering what the hell Paracrime is up to.

That reminds me, I need to email My Guy and order some more KOMA probes and some more Marauderangs – I’m almost out.

March 25, 2005

Kraken huggers

The Kraken strikes again! This time it wipes out a Japanese whaler – all hands lost.

A U.S. Navy task force is en route towards the Sea of Okhotsk, where the attack took place. Some Japanese destroyers are joining the hunt.

I guess the Navy task force is being shadowed by an Ocean Stewards ship, which is full of hippies who want to stop the military from killing the Kraken. I’m not really sure what the Ocean Stewards propose to do with the thing - give it a big snuggle?

March 23, 2005

Random Christopher Walken Quote

That Chris Walkman guy got me thinking about Christopher Walken, who I love more than Gary Busey and John Lithgow combined. I know. That's a lot of love.

Anyway, here's a random pearl of wisdom from the man himself:

"I wear a lot of black because I think it’s attractive, but also because it looks neat and clean and sensible. Hundreds of millions of Asians wear black - they know what they’re doing."

That is so true.

March 22, 2005

Nosy reporter

I get a call at work today from Christopher Walkman, a reporter from the Evergreen City Inquisitor.

“I’m sorry, did you say your name was Christopher Walken?” I say.

There’s a pause on the other end, and a little sigh. “Walkman. Like the portable stereo. Christopher Walkman.”

“Oh,” I say. “You must get that a lot, huh?”

“You have no idea.”

“Well, what can I do for you, Chris?” I say.

There’s another little pause – I guess he prefers to be called “Christopher.”

“Mr. Mackenzie, I’m doing a story on the Velvet Marauder and I’m wondering if you wouldn’t mind answering a few questions.”

I swear to God, my heart skips a beat. Shit, how did this guy find me? Does he think I’m the Marauder? Is he recording this? “Uh, what kind of story?”

“It’s about how car insurance rates have gone up in Evergreen City because of the Velvet Marauder,” Walkman says.


“Yeah, certain policies have gone up as much as 5% in the past year because of all the cars he’s destroyed in his fights. I understand that your car was totaled last August by the Marauder.” (see post EXPLODER, 8/25/05)

“Well, not really,” I say. “My car got blown up by Exploder.”

“Yeah, but it was during a battle between Exploder and the Velvet Marauder, right?”

“Well, yes, but…”

“How did you feel about that? Your car getting blown up?”

I say, “First of all, my car was stolen that night. Second of all, I had a piece of shit car. Third, my insurance covered it. Fourth, Exploder blew my car up, not the Velvet Marauder.”

“So you don’t mind paying more money for insurance?” Walkman says.

“I’m not aware that I am paying more money; I’d have to check my policy. But you know what? I don’t really care all that much, no. I mean, that guy saved the city from what’s his name, the blimp guy.”

“Baron von Blitzkrieg.”

“Right,” I say. “I can’t believe people would bitch about a few trashed cars when the guy saves the city from getting firebombed. And the Jet Pack Mafia, he stopped those fuckers, didn’t he? And that zombie thing last Halloween…”

“So you’re okay with all the destruction and property dam –“


“It doesn’t bother you at—“

“Nope. I’m fine with it. Big deal, a few cars get trashed – he’s a superhero. Property damage is part of the deal, they’re always whacking each other with lamp posts and shit. Nobody ever complains about Silver Striker or –“

“Actually, there’s a class action lawsuit against him from victims of the Vertigo-Go hostage standoff last year,” he says. “It’s one of the reasons he incorporated, to protect himself from bankruptcy –"

“And I think that’s more of a reflection of our overly litigious society than it is an indictment of his tactics. Look, Mr. Walken –“


“Right. Look, Chris, I don’t think I’m going to be able to help you. I gotta get back to work.”

He says, “Can I quote you on –“

“No. Bye-bye.”


March 21, 2005

Pride and vague guilt

I’m sitting in my office staring out at the Bay and all the container ships, doing absolutely nothing. The only item on my agenda is a meeting with the girls from Creative to go over a proposed print teaser ad campaign for QuantumWorks. I feel like a thief, sometimes. The Company pays me an indecent salary to just sit around and play Game Boy Advanced and hunt around on Amazon.

I can see how a limbo situation like this would be maddening to a hard-charger like Margo, somebody whose identity is wrapped up in her work, but I’m not that ambitious, and my identity issues are a little more complex, if you know what I mean.

I’m not calling Emma Casperson. She can call me if she wants, but I’m not doing it. It’s been over a week since we slept together, and I haven’t heard a thing from her. I called JC and Wendy to “check in” yesterday and Wendy didn’t even mention Emma. Either Emma didn’t tell Wendy we slept together, or she did tell her, but told her not to mention it.

Whatever. I’m not calling Emma.

Not going to do it.

Maybe I should buy some shoes.

March 18, 2005

Smells like bacon

The microwaves in our break room on the Ninth Floor aren't working, which pisses me off. Chad does a Starbucks run and returns with an Americano and a raspberry croissant for me, but as usual I find their croissants a little dry, so I go into the break room to nuke the thing for like, ten seconds.

But no. There are four microwaves, and none of them work. I check to make sure they're plugged in - they are. Maybe there's a problem with a fuse? I unplug one of the microwaves and plug a toaster into the same outlet - it works fine. How can four microwave ovens all stop working at the same time? This might not seem like a big deal to you, but damn it, I want my raspberry croissant warmed up!

"Work, you fucking cocksuckers!" I snarl at the microwaves.

Aaron Clarke, one of the QuantumWorks project vice presidents, stops in the hall outside the break room. He regards me with that judgmental English professor face of his.

"Problem, Mr. Mackenzie?" Clarke says.

"Yeah, the damn microwaves are all broken. All of them!"

He nods, as if this makes perfect sense. "Ah, of course. I'll have them replaced."

Just then Margo, who is walking down the hall, stops beside Clarke. She's wearing a cute 3/4 length black cashmere sweater and a pleated plaid skirt. She's beautiful. "You guys smell that? That bacon smell?"

Clarke sniffs the air, then says, "No, I'm sorry, I don't."

Now that she mentions it, I can smell the faint aroma of cooking bacon. I've noticed that smell several times in the past few months. "Yeah, what is that?"

"It's driving me crazy," Margo says, then moves on. Clarke nods to me and walks away.

Shit, I guess I'll have to go down to Eight where the microwaves work and it doesn't smell like bacon.

March 16, 2005

Patrol Report

I get wet on patrol tonight. A storm front has rolled in off the Pacific, bringing high winds and rain squalls, and sheets of rain douse me as I leap around the rooftops of Queen’s Row. I like the rain. I always feel like a proper urban crimefighter when I patrol in fog or rain or snow – it adds to the whole ambience. You know what I’m talking about. You never see the Midnight Rambler skipping through a park on a bright sunny day with the birds singing and kites flying. No. He’s the Midnight Rambler, he belongs to the night, etc. Plus, I don't think he skips. Anyway, I feel cooler patrolling in the rain.

We can use the rain, too, we had a really dry winter. The snow pack in the Olympics is at 25% of normal, something like that. There’s going to be a big drought this summer. Fortunately, Shetfield waters their fairways with their own well water, so I have nothing to worry about. See? I have my priorities in order. As long as I can golf on pretty green grass, I’m happy.

Right, back to patrol. The ECPD Paracrime Unit is taking the night off, so I don’t have to restrict my patrol route. Still, I maintain situational awareness – I haven’t listened to music on my suit’s audio system for a while, and I make a habit of stopping every few minutes and just watching. I’m not going to get nailed by Paracrime because I’ve got Ministry cranked up on the suit’s audio and I’m not paying attention- that's just unprofessional.

Speaking of Paracrime, I haven’t picked up much of interest lately from the bug I planted on the trooper’s body armor. (see post Paracrime in your face Part One and Part Two, 3/05)From what I can gather, they’re spending the week training in Raymond and are doing some surveillance on an apartment that belongs to some woman named Hellman. I have no idea who that is or even if it’s of any significance. Although you would think if the Paracrime Unit is involved, this Hellman chick could be superhuman. Maybe a supervillain?

I stop an assault in Midtown – two drunken rednecks beating up on some poor guy who was probably just trying to stay dry and get home. Shit like this pisses me off, so I drop down and slap the rednecks around a little bit. After tossing BillyBob and Joe Joe against a wall repeatedly I flexcuff their wrists together. I’m checking on the guy to make sure he’s okay when two bike cops roll up. Time to split.

By the way, props to those cops for riding around on bikes in this shitty weather. That shows dedication.

Aside from the mugging, that’s about it, another uneventful patrol. I shouldn’t complain, sometimes the most exciting thing that happens to me on patrol is scaring sleeping pigeons on rooftops. Stopping a mugging is a respectable crimefighting thing to do. Plus – and this might not be a cool thing to say – it feels good to beat people up. Bad people, of course.

March 15, 2005

The Kraken

I’m not an expert, but I’d say it would take a pretty fucking big sea monster to sink the Singapore Express.

Nearly three football fields in length, the Singapore Express is an absolutely massive container ship. It has a dead weight of 67,145 tons, and that’s before you add the weight of fuel and the hundreds and hundreds of steel cargo containers that it lugs around the Pacific Rim.

I’m trying to convey how fucking huge the ship is so you can appreciate what a big deal it is that it went down like it did and, by inference, how powerful the Kraken must be.

From what I gather, the Singapore Express had left the Port of Evergreen City and is about twenty miles out in the Pacific heading south for Oakland when the Kraken attacks. Giant tentacles burst from the deep, coiling around the vessel. Containers topple from the deck like toys as the creature violently throttles the helpless ship. Huge suckers rend the hull and sea water gushes in. The captain sends out a last panicked mayday as the Singapore Express breaks apart and sinks, leaving a vast debris field of oil and bobbing steel containers. With a whirl of tentacles, the Kraken returns to the black depths. The whole thing takes twelve minutes.

So the Kraken is basically a huge mutant squid beast, hundreds of yards long, with six big thick main tentacles and an inner ring of smaller tentacles around its beaked mouth that snares and tears the beast’s prey. Nobody knows where it came from or why it does what it does – all we know is that it comes out of nowhere, fucks shit up, then splits.

The Kraken, you may recall, was last seen eating the Canadian hero Northguard on TV. Remember that? It followed a NOAA research vessel to Vancouver, BC and thrashed around in English Bay, destroying sailboats and tugs with its massive tentacles. Then Northguard flies in with his Lightlance – remember this? I have it on tape. I know that sounds ghoulish, but I do. I have all the major televised superhero battles on tape or disc.

Anyway, Northguard. He rockets in with his shining white armor and his lightsaber-looking weapon, flying right at the Kraken’s tender eye… then he gets batted out of the air by a big tentacle and drops into the water, stunned. And then, on live television, the Kraken surges forward and spreads open its huge jaws. A host of smaller tentacles shoot out and grab Northguard and then glump! The fucking thing eats him, right there on TV. It was shocking and – this is horrible – almost funny.

That was nine months ago. Nobody has seen the Kraken since then – until yesterday.

I have to hand it to them, the military responded really quickly to this incident -- they clearly have a game plan. Since yesterday the Coast Guard has placed a maritime travel restriction on a big swath of coastline and parked a cutter at the mouth of Willapa Bay to control boat traffic. Some Navy warships are en route from Everett and San Diego to hunt for the Kraken, and P-3 Orion anti-submarine planes from Whidbey NAS have been flying over the EC all morning.

The Navy clearly has a plan for dealing with sea monster attacks, which is really cool if you think about it. It’s probably a result of those Congressional hearings in 1996 (or 97?) after Volcanus the Living Volcano destroyed half of Grand Rapids, MI. The original lineup of the Minute Men destroyed Volcanus, but the battle burned up a huge chunk of the Great Lake State and cost team member The Patrioteer his life. Congress was growing increasingly uneasy about having to rely exclusively on parahumans for national defense against giant monster and UFO attacks, so they demanded that each branch of the military draft contingency plans for defense against LHCs (Large Hostile Creatures) and UFOs. The Navy, naturally, was in charge of dealing with threats from alien submarines and LHCMs (Large Hostile Creature, Maritime).

Anyway, I just think it’s cool to think of Navy flag officers sitting around in the Pentagon talking about what forces to deploy against giant radioactive crayfish.

I’m content to let the military worry about LHCMs. I didn’t get into the superhero business to get killed fighting giant monsters and shit.

March 13, 2005


Emma takes me back to her place - a chic brownstone walk-up in Raymond with a rviver view -and we have sex. Good sex.

I don't want to get into explicit detail here, but I will say that Lt. Emma Casperson looks really good naked, is very um, expressive about her needs, and has absolutely incredible stamina. Seriously, it's like she's in training for the Sex Olympics or something. I felt like Tommy Lee.

Emma runs me into the ground at about three-thirty and I pass out in her bed. When I wake up, she's not in bed, but I can hear her clanking around in the kitchen.


She pops in the bedroom, smiling. Emma's wearing an ECPD sweatshirt, Lycra jogging shorts, and Reeboks. She hands me a glass of orange juice and gives me a quick kiss.

"Good morning," she says. "Sleep okay?"

"Yeah, great. You're up? What time is it?"

"Almost eight." She takes a fanny pack from her dresser and buckles it around her slim waist. "Listen, I gotta get going. You can sleep for a while if you want."

"Where you going?"

She bends over a gun safe in the corner of the bedroom and works the combo lock. I shift in bed a little so I can see her Lycra-sheathed butt. "I'm going for a run, then I'm off to the firing range." She transfers a wicked nickel-plated automatic from the safe into a foam-padded carrying case.

"You don't want to... you know, hang out?"

She turns and smiles, brushing a wave of auburn hair from her eyes. "I'd love to, but I gotta go. Listen, I had fun last night. You're a real tiger."


"There's French Toast in the fridge that you can heat up if you want," she says. "Help yourself to anything in the kitchen. Take your time, sleep, hang out. The door will lock behind you when you leave."

"Okay, but... you sure you don't want to hang out?"

She sits on the edge of the bed and runs her hand down my torso as she leans in for a kiss. Her hair cascades down around my head. She smells like lavender and coconut oil. "I'll have to take a rain check. Thanks, Connor."

Then, with a little wave, she takes her gun case and her perfect body and leaves.

"Call me," I say lamely.

What, am I in Bizarro World or something? I'm supposed to be the one leaving her in bed, wondering if I'll ever call her. This ain't right.

That's it: I'm going on patrol tonight and I'm going to beat somebody up.

March 12, 2005

Showdown at King Putt

I win.

I get my date with Wendy’s cousin, the hot Lt. Emma Casperson. It’s a double-date, really; Wendy and JC are tagging along. Our destination: King Putt.

King Putt is an expansive 18-hole miniature golf fantasy land full of giant monkeys, sphinxes, windmills, shit like that. I couldn’t detect any overriding theme – you would think with a name like King Putt they’d go with an Ancient Egyptian motif or a royal/medieval thing, but no.

Emma is wearing a green off-the-shoulder cashmere sweater with tailored jeans, black boots and a matching belt. Her auburn hair is down; one side is swept back behind her ear while the other side cascades down like a luminous auburn waterfall. Her red lips seemed poised between a snarl and a smile. Emma is hot. I don’t recall what JC and Wendy are wearing.

Young, acne-afflicted King Putt employees in yellow Izods set us all up with clubs, and we’re golfing, baby.

“You ready to get your ass kicked, Connor?” Emma says, grinning.

“Me?” I say. “My golf kung fu is tops. You cannot defeat me.”

“I hope you don’t mind getting beaten by a girl,” she says.

“We are talking about golf here, right?”

We carry on with the adolescent flirting as we golf, accompanied by much eye-rolling from JC and Wendy. Turns out Emma is even more competitive than I am – we’re both shooting one below par by the ninth hole – and our friendly date slowly devolves into a struggle for supremacy.

Emma’s putt gets blocked by a giant monkey tail on the 12th hole and she falls behind by one.

I whistle sadly. “That sucks, Emma. Do you want to quit now? Because you can; we’d understand.”

“Mackenzie, how would you like to ‘crank it up a notch?’” she says, idly swinging her putter in a way that makes it seem like a weapon. When she calls me ‘Mackenzie’ it makes me think of Margo suddenly. Margo always calls me that. It sounds different when she says it. “I’ll bet you fifty bucks that I beat you.”

“Beat me? How about twenty? You’re on a civil servant salary.”

“You a little gun-shy, Mackenzie?” she says.

“Nobody’s ever used my name and the word ‘gun-shy’ in the same sentence before. I’ll take your fifty dollars.”

Emma looks at me like I’m cake. “Bring it,” she says.

“Oh, I’m bringing it all right.”

JC pantomimes vomiting. Wendy throws her hands up. “You guys are killing us with the corny flirting thing!”

On the last six holes of the course our game is loaded with competition and sexual tension. I miss a putt in the dragon castle and Emma pulls even with me. She does this thing every time she putts that I think is very sexy: she wiggles her butt and hums a little tune, then – and you can actually see it – then she gets very still and focuses like a lens on the ball. You can almost feel her concentrating. Then she putts and snaps back into the real world, brushing her hair out of her eyes and grinning.

We’re dead even by the eighteenth hole, a par two where you have to shoot into the mouth of a giant alligator whose mouth slowly opens… then shuts… opens… then shuts. A curved ramp in the belly of the beast guides your ball down on to the green. Easy.

Emma goes first. Wendy and JC have grown weary of our battle and are playing the hole behind us.

“Man, I hope you don’t totally miss, Emma,” I say as she does her little putting shimmy and knocks the ball up towards the alligator’s relentlessly moving jaws.

The jaws open…

Then shut…

They open… and Emma’s ball rolls into the mouth, down the ramp, and on to the putting green, coming to a stop within a foot of the eighteenth hole.

She smiles smugly.

I set up for my shot. The trick, I think, is to watch the alligator jaws and shoot as they are coming down and about to close. I watch the alligator’s mouth.

The jaws open…

Then shut…

I shoot, but too hard. My ball bounces off the alligator’s teeth and rolls slowly, sullenly back to my feet.

I lose.

Emma easily sinks her ball into the eighteenth hole and looks up at me, beautiful, triumphant. “I think I saw a cash machine in the lobby.”

We finish up and I give Emma her money. I hate losing, but losing to her is kind of exciting. “The least you can do is buy me a drink with your winnings,” I say.

“Uh-uh. Loser buys. Guys?” she says invitingly to JC and Wendy, who both shake their heads.

“No, you kids go do your thing,” Wendy says.

We drive in Emma’s Audi to Lemieux’s, an ancient bar that smells of smoke and old leather, full of The Same Damn People every night. I swear, there are two old people at Lemieux’s, a guy and a gal, who I have never seen move from their barstools. They could be animatronic mannequins for all I know. Anyway, we find a booth, drink gin and tonics and banter.

“Thanks for not gloating when you won, by the way,” I say. “Big of you.”

“I’ve learned that the male ego can only sustain so much punishment,” she says.

“I’ll bet you learned that from experience.”

She smiles. “I think we both know a little something about that.”

There it is. I knew this would come up: years ago in college I made a cruel remark about Emma that she overheard. I was drunk, I was an asshole, what can I say? (see post A birth, a wedding, and a hot cop, 1/19/05) Apparently it was a big deal for her at the time, and Wendy says for years I was the focused target of all Emma’s metaphysical rage. Sometimes I imagine I can see anger in her green eyes when she looks at me and I wonder if she’s just sitting there, smiling, hating me. I’ve completely forgotten my ulterior motive for hooking up with her: to get more information about the ECPD Paracrime Unit.

Man, should I say something, or blow it off? How bad am I supposed to feel about something that happened a decade ago?

“Yeah,” I say lamely. “Umm…”

She’s looking at me. I can’t tell what she’s thinking.

“Let’s go,” she says, finishing her drink with a big gulp. Emma rises and holds out her hand. I take it.

“Where to, boss?”

Emma smiles. “My place.”

She’s looking at me like I’m cake again.

March 11, 2005

Disturbing imagery

Warning! Warning! Disturbing imagery alert!*

I'll get back to my usual pattern of self-absorbed narcissistic posting shortly; this week I haven't been posting a lot due to a) Blogger melting down, and b) laziness.

*Don't worry, it's disturbing but work-safe at the same time.

March 08, 2005

Looking for Mr. Sidebar

Through the chaos magic of Blogger I have somehow managed to move my sidebar, which has links to previous posts, etc. If you're looking for the sidebar, scroll alll the way down to the bottom of the screen. There it is.

I think I'll have to call an exorcist or something to fix this...

Supervillains made this

I think this is some sort of mind control experiment or something.

March 07, 2005

A conversation with Wendy

I have a great idea, one that may a) get me some inside dirt on the Paracrime Unit, and/or b) get me laid: a double-date with me, JC, Wendy, and Wendy's hot cousin, Lt. Emma Casperson of the Paracrime Unit. Am I brilliant? Yes, I am.

I call JC and Wendy's house. Wendy answers. Here's a transcript:

ME: Hey, Wendy. It's Connor.

WENDY: Hi Connor.

ME: So I'll cut to the chase. I've got this great idea: King Putt.

WENDY: The mini-golf place?

ME: Right.

WENDY: I didn't think King Putt was your speed. Don't you and JC usually go to Shetfield...?

ME: Yes, and as a serious golfer I wouldn't be caught dead going into King Putt unless I was taking a niece or something, or if I had... a date.


ME: You still there?

WENDY: Yeah, I'm here. Where are you going with this?

ME: A double-date! I think you, me, JC, and Emma should all go out. It's supposed to be nice all week. We could do some mini-golf then go out for dinner or drinks or something.

WENDY: With Emma.

ME: Yeah.

WENDY: You want me to hook you up with Emma.

ME: Yeah.

WENDY: Look, Connor, I don't know how to say this. Actually, I do: Emma hates you.

ME: No, she doesn't.

WENDY: Yes, she does.

ME: We were totally flirting the other night, at your party!

WENDY: You were flirting. Besides, you were hitting on everything with breasts at our party. Like my mom...

ME: Uh, yeah. I sent her a little apology card.

WENDY: I should hope so. I mean, God, Connor - grabbing her ass...

ME: Who? Emma?

WENDY: My mom!

ME: I didn't grab her ass.

WENDY: You so totally grabbed her ass. You go, "Stairmaster's been treating you right, Judy!" and just grabbed her. I mean, my mother, Connor. Emma's aunt.

ME: Well, she does have a nice butt for a gal her age...

WENDY: I don't need to hear that.

ME: OK, Wendy, let's get back on task here: King Putt.

WENDY: Yeah, I don't think so, Connor.

ME: Why not? Can you just ask her at least, see if she's interested?

WENDY: You do realize that this is a woman who, for years, hated you because of that one night in college, right? I mean, she went to a therapist, Connor. [see post
A birth, a wedding, and a hot cop, 1/19/05]

ME: Well, I'm a different person now. That's all water under the bridge and shit. Come on, Wendy! She's a police sniper, for God's sakes!

WENDY: Sharpshooter. She doesn't like it when you call her a sniper.

ME: Okay, sharpshooter. My point is - and I appreciate you defending your cousin, it's sweet - my point is, Emma's hard core. She's tough. I'm sure she's over something that happened over ten years ago. And she's an adult. Why don't you ask her if she'd be interested and get back to me? Is that too much to ask?

WENDY: I don't know. Probably.

ME: Do you want me to stay a pathetic bachelor my entire life? Come one, I'm trying to grow and evolve here.

WENDY: (sigh) Fine. I'll ask. But no moping or whining when she says no, okay?

ME: You're the best, Dubya!

WENDY: Yeah, yeah...

And there it is. She'll say yes.

Man, did Emma really hate me...?

March 05, 2005

Media Report

I made the front page of The Inquisitor again: "Marauder helps police catch serial car thief." There's a grainy photograph of me standing in front of the wrecked Subaru with a shit-eating smile on my face, waving at the camera. I think one of the college girls who witnessed the incident took a picture of me with her cell phone.

Oooh, and there's an editorial coming in the Sunday Edition about the Paracrime Unit! I guess some rank-and-file ECPD cops are pissed that this sexy new unit gets all the funding and cherry-picks talent from SWAT and Homicide - and to what end? They spend thousands setting up dragnets to catch me on one side of town while at the same time I'm helping cops on the other side of town catch bad guys.

I can't wait to read that.

March 04, 2005

Flipping off the wall like Lucy Ball

After work I eat some leftover Indian food, brush and floss, then suit up and go on patrol, ready to crush evil and protect my city.

Tonight’s soundtrack: 3rd Bass. I may be showing my age, but I loves me the 3rd Bass, particularly The Cactus Album, which I think is genius. That’s right, genius. MC Serch and Prime Minister Pete Nice always spent too much time dissing other white rappers, but they had an inimitable style, mixing Serch’s bombastic rhymes and Pete Nice’s hyper-articulate Mafia rap with clever 70’s pop samples.

Anyway, I rock the 3rd Bass as I leap and run through the big superhuman jungle gym that is Midtown. I’m content with the knowledge that I won’t get hassled by Paracrime tonight, because they’re all wasting their time staking out the rooftops of Chinatown.

How do I know this, you ask?

You may recall that during my encounter with the ECPD Paracrime Unit in the Masonic Temple I planted a needle-sized bug in the armor of one of the cops, as well as stealing his radio and headset. ( see post Paracrime in your face, 2/26/05) I had been frustrated by the lack of information I’ve gleaned from the bug, which spent most of its time shut in a locker at police headquarters – cops generally don’t suit up in body armor for briefings. Go figure. Each night I would go into the Secret Chamber to review the MP3 recordings from the KOMA probe, the bug I had planted in the body armor, and each night I would be disappointed about the lack of good audio. I did manage to gather that the owner of the bugged armor, Officer Lucas, got a couple days medical leave after I roughed him up a little. Apparently I broke his nose in two places. But Lucas eventually comes back to work and when I get home today I have a veritable gold mine of information.

I won’t burden you with a complete transcript, but first there’s audio of Officer Lucas and his comrades putting on their armor and gearing up for an “op.” Then it sounds like they proceed into a briefing room, where Capt. Sledge says a few words. There’s going to be a Police Action Shooting Competition on the 18th, and don’t forget they still need volunteers for the Disaster Preparedness Seminars at area senior centers. There haven’t been any volunteers yet from Paracrime, and it would reflect well upon the unit, et cetera, et cetera. From what I can gather, Sledge “volunteers” the two most junior members of the team. Laughter. Sledge urges the assembled team members to be careful and take care of each other out there – it’s very Hill Street Blues – then turns the briefing over to Lt. Casperson – Emma.

Some quick background: Emma is the cousin of Wendy, who recently married JC, my best friend from college. Emma looks like Rita Hayworth spliced with T2 Linda Hamilton. I knew she was a cop, but I just recently found out that she was on the Paracrime Unit. She’s a trained sniper, too, which makes her even sexier.

Anyway, Lt. Emma Casperson briefs the team and, indirectly, me about tonight’s plans. They know I have one of their radios, so they’re changing frequencies every 15 minutes tonight. She kindly tells me the frequency and sequence, which I write down, thank you very much. I learn that they are planning a series of dragnets in several key areas of the city where I have been sited. Emma keeps referring to a map of the city, which I imagine has little colored map tacks all over it. They spread out in different fire teams in rooftop “hides,” armed with exotic weaponry like Bore Thunder concussion rounds and WebShot nets, waiting for the Velvet Marauder to enter their perimeter. Tonight they’re trying out a new laser tripwire system that their stringing across the roofs of Chinatown in an effort to catch me.


So here I am, feeling smug and on top of things for the first time in recent memory, bouncing around Midtown about a mile away from the Paracrime dragnet. I bounce off a billboard and skid down the shingled roof of an old water tower, flip, then land like a cat in Pose #4, Wary Mongoose.

I turn off MC Serch and look out over Evergreen City at night, suffused in the amber glow of the streetlights and the cold sparkle of the skyscrapers. I breathe in the salty low-tide smell and listen to the sounds of my city, the traffic and the music and the sirens and the background white noise of the freeway. My city. Jesus, I’ll stop before I break into “We Built This City on Rock ‘n Roll.”

I hear sirens coming from the Queen’s Row area.

Switching over to the scanner, I bound and leap across rooftops, moving west towards the sirens. According to the scanner the ECPD are in pursuit of a stolen green Subaru sedan that’s heading north towards Waterfront Park. If I cut across the Diamond parking garage and leap across Oyster, I may be able to catch them…

I spot them, the Subaru and two police cars, racing the wrong way up Oyster Ave. Unless they turn, they’ll pass under me in about five seconds.

I jump four stories down to Oyster, landing lightly in a crouch on the sidewalk. I scare the shit out of a group of college-age girls, who scream as I drop out of the sky in front of them. I hold up my hand in what I hope is a reassuring gesture as they clutch each other and cower, but I’m not really concerned about them. My attention is focused on the green Subaru racing my way, horn blaring, cops in tow.

The Subaru swerves to avoid oncoming traffic (Oyster is a one-way street) and sideswipes a parked car with a tremendous shower of sparks. The stolen car jerks back into the center of Oyster – it’s almost here…

Ignoring the screaming girls I break from my crouch and sprint out into the street, staying low. The Subaru and I meet in the center of the street. Just before impact I put my shoulder down and slam into the front quarter of the speeding car like a torpedo.


The front end of the car lifts up and the force of my blow sends it careening across Oyster. Briefly I catch a glimpse of the terrified driver - then the airbag erupts from the steering wheel and into his face. The Subaru slams sideways into a tree, does a half-spin and comes to a stop backwards on Oyster, smoking and steaming. Well, he’s facing the right way now.

I pick myself up from the middle of the street, dusting my suit off. The two cop cars skid to a halt about twenty yards away.

The girls on the sidewalk are cheering and yelling now, fully psyched. “Ohmygod! Velvet Marauder! Velvet Marauder!”

I give a jaunty wave to the girls, then, with a little salute to the cops I jump up and away.

Paracrime is going to be so pissed.

March 02, 2005

I want a hovercraft

This is pretty much the coolest, geekiest thing ever: the JL421 Badonkadonk Land Cruiser/Tank. Only twenty grand, too.

I want a tank, a real tank. Wouldn't that be cool? A hovertank, like that guy in Minnesota, Panzer. Or maybe that would be overkill. How about a sleek, high-speed hovercraft, painted black with my logo on the side. It would have a stealth mode, and a whisper mode, and a high-speed mode... you gotta have modes and shit like that.

I wonder how much that would set me back, a hovercraft? I should look into that.