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

April 28, 2005

Still on vacation...

I'm learning to SCUBA dive. And I'm drinking.

I met a nice Canadian backpacker chick who is now staying with me in my condo and having the sex with me and making me food, so that's good.

Have I mentioned the drinking?

April 23, 2005

Why you no post, Marauder?

I'm writing this from an internet cafe in Costa Rica:

I'm taking a little vacation, working on my tan and not getting killed by The Malefactors. Staying in a condo on beach here; very nice except for the bugs. It's been raining all day today, but I hope to get some snorkeling and more drinking in later.

Will report in soon.

April 18, 2005

Media Report

I can't stop shivering when I get home after my fight with Parka. I take a hot shower which seems to only heat up my outer layer, leaving my inner core frozen. Curling up on the couch under a pile of blankets, I drink hot chocolate and watch Northwest Cable News. I feel like I'm back from a long day skiing.

The news has footage of a mobile crane lifting the car up off Parka's body. All the ice has melted into giant slushy puddles. A blandly handsome reporter stands in front of the taped-off battle zone, looking grave.

"Police have confirmed the identity of the deceased; the supervillain Parka, famous rival of The Silver Striker and member of the villain's club known as The Malefactors," says the reporter. "The ECPD wouldn't say one way or another, but our eyewitnesses confirm that, after attacking the two police officers, Parka battled the Velvet Marauder, and that during the fight, the Marauder physically threw a car on the villain, crushing him."

More footage of the Scion being lifted by crane off Parka's flattened body. Jeez, somebody cover the guy up. What a mess.

"As you can see, Parka definitely was crushed by this small car," the reporter says. "A Scion, I believe."

Man, I actually killed Parka. He was an A-lister, I used to read about his fights with Silver Striker when I was growing up. And I killed him. Me. He fought Silver Striker - and won, several times, if only in a temporary way. You'd think he'd be tougher than that. It was a little car, too. I didn't mean to kill the guy. I mean, I could barely see anything with my goggles fogged up, I just threw the car out of instinct and desperation. But hey, Parka was trying to kill me, and for all I knew he had already killed two cops. Plus, he was trying to kidnap his son and who knows what he would have done to his estranged wife. It's not like I feel bad, it's just... I actually killed Parka.
I find out the two plainclothes cops who got the deep freeze from Parka are in serious but stable condition in Bayview, so that's good news. They were suffering from hypothermia and frostbite, but the Solar Flare I used to thaw them seemed to work. I'm credited with saving their lives, so yay me.

I'm a little nervous about how this whole thing will play out, this me-killing-Parka thing. Then it hits me: The Malefactors.

Parka belonged to The Malefactors, a loose-knit group of Silver Striker villains who occasionally band together for big heists and to break each other out of prison. There are five of them: Black Blizzard, Psychedelia, Moonbug, Demolition Woman, and Parka. Okay, there are only four of them, but they're all heavy-hitters and they're all going to be pissed that I killed their poker buddy.

I'm thinking I'll take a vacation.

Parka Down

Tonight I head out to South Bend for patrol. I usually stick to the urban center of Evergreen City –Midtown, Queen’s Row, Chinatown, etc – but tonight I want to check out The Bend, as they call it. South Bend is and old dock and warehouse district on the banks of the Willapa under the 101 viaduct. The area is slowly gentrifying; land speculators are buying lots and renovating old buildings into overpriced condos, but it’s still pretty sketchy. Tonight a river mist creeps over The Bend, silently flooding the colorless streets.

I leave my car up on the hill and jog down into South Bend on silent streets at about 30 mph. I hop up on to a warehouse, then run and jump across the dark urban playground until I reach the building I want.

The Cardiff is a rotting old three-story apartment building overlooking the river, flanked by two equally haggard looking brick warehouses. Mist and darkness cling to the damp buildings. I check out the Cardiff from the roof of the café across the street, where I crouch behind a vent. I try not to make any noise, because parked in a van on the street below me are a couple plain clothes police officers watching the same building.

One of the things I found out when I planted a listening device on an ECPD Paracrime Unit trooper was this stakeout: for the past three weeks the cops have had 24 hour protective surveillance on Liz Hellman’s apartment building. The name sounded familiar, so I Googled her and found out that Hellman is Liz’s maiden name – her married name is Rapaport. As in Vincent Rapaport.

As in Parka.

Liz Hellman is the estranged wife of the supervillain Parka, and for the past two years she and her two year old son have been moving around trying to avoid Parka. Apparently Liz got tired of life with a supervillain and decided to split, and Vincent didn’t take it too well. According to SuperPeople, Parka is insanely possessive and wants his son back. That’s not somebody I’d want to be in a custody battle with.

Anyway, from what I understand the cops in the van are here to keep an eye on the apartment in case Parka shows up. I assume their orders are to call for help – I can’t imagine two cops with sidearms taking on Parka. Well, not successfully anyway. From up here I can hear them talking to each other, and the soft squawk of their radio.

I can’t tell who’s in the apartment because the curtains are drawn, but somebody’s awake up there. What the hell, I’ll hang out for a little while, see if anything happens.

Making myself as comfortable as I can on the roof, I rip open a Power Bar and queue up my new mix on my armor’s MP3 player. Tonight I’m rocking the United States of Electronica, perky synthy dance music. Again: not gay.

Every once in a while I poke my head up to make sure nothing’s going on. I see a hobo shuffling down the sidewalk past the Cardiff. The tracks aren’t far from here and hundreds of hobos camp out under the viaduct, so nothing out of the ordinary there.

I’m bopping and humming along to my disco when I hear shouting. I poke my head up –

--and see the two plainclothes cops advancing across the street from their van guns drawn, pointing at the homeless guy on the sidewalk. They’re shouting at him, but I can’t hear – damn it, I can never turn this fucking MP3 player off. The cops are screaming at the homeless guy, who’s wearing a hooded sweatshirt and is holding his hands up.

I finally turn the music off.

“—don’t want to kill any cops!” the guy yells.

I zoom in on him with my binocular setting.

“Oh, shit,” I say.

It’s Parka.

I can’t believe I didn’t recognize him – you’d think I’d be suspicious of a guy in a hood, but no. That’s why I’m not one of those detective type superheroes; no eye for detail. The cops aren’t as stupid as I am, but I have a feeling that in a minute they’re going to wish they hadn’t spotted him.

“Don’t move! Do not move!” the cops yell.

“I’m not going to warn you again!” Parka yells. “I’m just here for my boy! Stand down!”

“Keep your hands in the air and get down on your knees!”

Parka hits the cops with his power. I can feel it from up here, 50 yards away – a wave of cold hits me like a sudden arctic gale.

The street in front of the Cardiff is flash-frozen, a glistening icy wonderland. It looks like somebody sprayed the whole street with that weird white crap – flocking – that people spray Christmas trees with. Parka stands in the center of the icy blast zone, immune to the extreme cold, while the two cops curl at his feet, covered in a thin layer of snow. They’re probably dead.

Briefly I see Liz Hellman part the curtains in her window and look down, and then she disappears.

I stand up and take a deep breath, then crack my neck. I’m not too psyched about this, but what can I do? I’m the Velvet Marauder, and I'm an idiot. I have to go down there.

So with a hollow feeling in my gut, I jump off the roof of the café, hurling myself at Parka.

I should stop my narrative, here in mid-air, and explain my trepidation.

In case you don’t know, Parka is a Silver Striker villain, a member of The Malefactors, a loose-knit group of villains who apparently exist only to fuck with Silver Striker. A lab experiment gone horribly wrong gave researcher Vincent Rapaport incredible icy powers, but also turned his body into a sub-zero cold generator. He keeps his unnaturally cold body in a specially designed hooded containment suit, and wears a mask and goggles. He looks like an evil snowmobiler. Taking the appropriate but weird nom de guerre Parka he turned to a life of crime. Parka is like Iceman from Marvel Comics, but without the ice skating. And he kills people.

Parka, you may recall, was the reason Silver Striker incorporated. During the Galactic Trauma a couple years back Silver Striker fought all five of The Malefactors at once. He kicked the shit out of them, but Parka froze Houston’s water supply, rupturing water mains and causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damage. Suddenly Silver Striker faced a foe that he couldn’t fight with speed and solar power – a class action lawsuit. He incorporated and created Silver Striker Enterprises shortly thereafter just to defend himself from all the bullshit.

So you can see how I’d be anxious. I’m fighting Parka, an “A” list villain who regularly throws down with Silver Striker – and I’m near a river. Smart.

All right, back to me in mid-air: I jump out in a high parabolic arc, an easy fifty meter leap for me, and come down almost on top of Parka. I see him look up – even under the parka hood and behind the ski mask and goggles I can tell he’s surprised – and then I’m engulfed in a fucking blizzard.

An icy invisible hand of super-cooled air catches my body and tosses me hard against the frosted façade of the Cardiff apartments.

The chill sinks down past my insulated body armor, into my bones. My lungs ache with cold. I pull myself into a crouch, sucking air.

“Who the fuck you supposed to be?” Parka says, walking closer.

“Y-yuh… yuh…” I gasp.

“Speak up,” he says, bending down.

“Your mama,” I snarl, springing to my feet. I catch him with an open hand in the chest, and shove as hard as I can. Parka flies back into the air across the street. Just before he crashes into the café, Parka spins in mid-air and hoses down the landing area with a cold blast. He lands in a big mound of soft, fluffy snow, uninjured.

He’ll be on his feet in seconds. I don’t even have enough time to chastise myself for the horrible “your mama” line. Jumping over to the two fallen cops, I dig in my utility belt.

The cops look bad. They’re both covered in a thin glaze of ice and they’re not even shivering.

I find what I’m looking for: one of the new Solar Flares from My Guy. Haven’t tried these out yet, My Guy says they burn brighter and hotter than my old magnesium flares. I guess we’ll see. I pop the top off the flare, which instantly fizzes to life.

About 50 yards away, Parka rises out of the snow pile. Spindrift and icy fog swirls around him like a ghost.

“You!” he yells, stabbing a thick gloved finger at me. “You’re a fucking dead man!”

The Solar Flare practically explodes in my hand, bursting into a white hot incandescence in my hand. The heat feels blistering when compared to the chill air around me.

I need some time, so I throw the flare at him. Parka waves his hand, and the Solar Flare explodes harmlessly against a big concave crystalline barrier.

“I’m just here to get my boy – my boy – from that bitch, and you fuckers have to get in the way!”

Pfsshhht! Keep talking, dickhead. I pop another blinding Solar Flare and drop it between the two freezer-burnt cops. Hopefully that will start to thaw them; I don’t know what else I can do. The sirens are getting louder, so hopefully paramedics are on the way. Of course, if I don’t take Parka down…

The crystalline barrier comes crashing down, and Parka throws something at me.

Instinctively I roll to one side as a deadly swarm of icicles screams through the air above me, smashing out all the windows on the ground floor of the apartments behind me. I hop across the street behind some cars, hoping to draw his fire away from the two cops.

It works. A blizzard of ultra-cold air whips across the street after me. I cower behind a car, one of those little Scions. I couldn’t have picked a bigger car?

“I’m going to show you what happens when you fuck around in something that’s none of your fucking business!” Parka screams.

The air around me turns into a pretty little sparkly fairy land, and that intense cold settles down on me. My goggles start to fog up and my head goes light. The air is so cold it burns my sinuses, my throat. I can see feathers of ice growing on the body of the Scion, spreading in a fractal pattern. My limbs feel stiff. This is not a good thing.

I’m vaguely aware of sirens, and the sound of Parka raving about his son, and my ringing ears.

Dizzy, I lean against the Scion. My fingers dig into the frozen metal of the car.

Where is he? Jesus, it’s cold. I hope Liz Hellman and her kid made it out the back of the Cardiff.

Through my foggy goggles I see him, a dark shape coming towards me, the center of a spinning vortex of snow. Behind him I see flashing police lights. More cops for Parka to kill. I gotta do something.

So I push as hard as I can on the Scion, flipping the frozen little car into the street. I’m pretty fucking strong even when I’m half frozen; the car rolls and tumbles end over end into the street, flattening Parka. Instantly the deep freeze lifts and the temperature shoots up a good thirty degrees.

My head is killing me – I’ve got some major brain-freeze going on.

“Freeze! Freeze!” somebody’s screaming. Sounds like cops. Even in my frost-adled state, I find it ironic. Because, you know, they’re yelling “freeze!” and it’s very cold. Irony.

I pull myself up to my knees and realize that some of the cops are yelling at me. Two Paracrime Unit troopers are advancing towards me with MAC-10 submachine guns, yelling and pointing at me. I think they want me to get back down on the ground.

Ignoring the cops for a minute, I try to clear my head and find Parka.

Ah. There he is, under the car. A pair of boots stick out from under the frozen, overturned Scion, like the Wicked Witch of the East.

The ringing in my ears is starting to go away, replaced by the screaming of the cops.

“Down on the ground! Face down!”

I wave them off. “I’m fine, really. Thanks for asking.”

“Down on the –“

Enough of the yelling. I drop a sepia bomb on the street and smile as the inky blackness billows around me. The cops are yelling, but not shooting. With all my strength I leap up out of the cloud, hopping like a drunken frog on to the roof of the café. They keep screaming for me to stop – very optimistic of them.

I glance over my shoulder before I split – a bunch of cops are gathered around the overturned Scion and flattened supervillain.

Holy shit, I think I just killed Parka.

April 14, 2005


So the cops in the Paracrime unit finally found the bug I planted.

You may recall that during my last altercation with the Paracrime Unit, Evergreen City’s own jack-booted anti-parahuman squad, I planted a needle-sized listening device called a KOMA probe on the flak vest of one of their troopers. (see posts Paracrime in your face Part One and Part Two, 2/23/05) Any audio feed from the bug got converted to an MP3 file which I could listen to at my leisure in the Secret Chamber. Most of the feed from the bug was garbage, but I’d occasionally glean some useful intelligence from it; enough to keep me from stumbling into anymore police dragnets anyway.

Well, those days are over. Tonight after work I’m kicking it in the Secret Chamber, listening to the latest feed from the bug while I surf the Web, and I hear the following exchange:

COP: Captain. Captain, take a look at this.

(Then a voice I recognize as Capt. Solomon Sledge comes on.)

SLEDGE: What’s up, Sergeant?

COP: I did that counter-surveillance sweep like you asked and I found this on Lucas’ vest.

SLEDGE: Let’s see… What the hell? This a bug or something?

COP: Yeah, I’m pretty sure it is. I think it’s KOMA technology, powers itself by absorbing ambient heat. It’s very high end –
NSA uses them.

SLEDGE: It transmitting right now?

COP: Uh, yeah, I don’t see why it wouldn’t be.

SLEDGE: That son of a bitch… The Velvet Marauder must have planted this on Lucas at the Masonic Temple. That was in – shit, that was the end of February.

COP: So he’s been listening in on us the whole time?

SLEDGE: Tag it. I want the lab to look at this, Bobby.

COP: No problem, Captain.

SLEDGE: Wait a second.

(Then I hear Sledge’s voice very loud and close to the probe. He’s talking to me now.)

SLEDGE: Okay, Marauder. You’ve had your fun. But know this: play time is over. Don’t doubt for a second that we are going to run your ass down, because we will. And I’m going to be smiling when I ship your ass off to The Catacombs.

And that’s it. Oh well, it was good while it lasted. Now I have to go back to looking over my shoulder every time I patrol at night.

“Play time is over?” He’s got the tough guy clichés down pat, doesn’t he?

April 13, 2005

The Velvet Marauder begs the Goo Goo Dolls to please, for the love of God, stop making music

I've had it with the Goo Goo Dolls. Have you heard their cover of Supertramp's "Give A Little Bit?" Well, I have, and I wish I had not. I'm not even a Supertramp fan, and I find it blasphemous. It sounds like a session band from a Ford truck commercial screwing around.

Don't get me wrong, I don't hate the Goo Goo Dolls, I just hate their music. I'm sure the band are all nice fellas, and if their tour bus flipped over on 101 and was on fire, I would rescue them.

I just wouldn't be in a big hurry.

April 11, 2005

Shopping for Mauraderangs and Magnesium Flares

I’m ready to place another order with My Guy, my anonymous weapons and gadget maker(s). As per usual, secrecy is the order of the day with My Guy: I send a postcard to a P.O. Box, and then receive an encrypted email which I decode with My Guy’s customer software. The decoded email provides me with the URL for a one-time-only chatroom where I log in and place my order.

I call him My Guy, but really I have no idea what his/her gender may be, or whether it’s a big group of Monster Garage type guys or what. “He” works by referral only, and supplies superheroes such as myself with customized armor, weapons, and gear. I know that he makes stuff for Wombat (who referred me to him), Kestrel, Night Hunter (dick), Dark Archer, and Major Domo, and probably lots more. I have a sneaking suspicion that My Guy might also provide gear to supervillains, but I can’t be sure.

Anyway, I log in and place my order. Here’s an excerpt of our chat:

X9: How many Marauderangs?

VM: Do I get a discount if I buy in bulk?

X9: No.

VM: OK. Four dozen.

X9: Do you need any shurikens?

VM: I actually have never used the shuriken gun. Seems too lethal, throws off my balance.

X9: Would you like to return it? Have client in Far East who could use it.

VM: Would I get store credit or something?

X9: Yes. Will send UPS Call Tag label to retrieve it this week. What else?

VM: Two dozen sepia bombs, four KOMA probes, 6 magnesium flares.

X9: Out of mag flares; we have new Solar Flare incendiary bombs instead.

VM: That sounds cool, give me a dozen. Anything else new?

X9: We have pocket sized
radio jammers, micro-GPS tracking devices, and water-breathing pills.

VM: Water-breathing pills? No shit?

X9: Lemurian technology, brand new. Each pill lasts 2 hours.

VM: I’ll take two, and a radio jammer.

Wow, water-breathing pills? That sounds awesome. Who knows when that will come in handy? I can put them in the pouch on my utility belt where I keep my cobra anti-venin. Because really, there aren’t any cobras in the Pacific Northwest. It just seemed like the thing to get at the time…

April 09, 2005

"Vomitable Material"

Well, that was unpleasant. I was -- how you say? Ah, yes: sick as the dog.

For about 36 hours I lay around my house, periodically gripped with the urgent need to vomit whether I have vomitable material in my stomach or not. I’m spared any serious problems of the bowel variety, but that’s about the only good thing I can say about the whole experience.

At about 3 AM I lay shivering and sweating in my bed, unable to sleep, and I think: maybe I’ve been poisoned. Maybe Interbionics slipped something into my drinking water or had an assassin transmit a deadly virus via a handshake, like on that one episode of 24. Maybe I’m not just sick, maybe I’m dying of some advanced retrovirus.

This may sound paranoid, but bear with me. A few months ago, after my Christmas battle with the elf at the Interbionics Holiday Ball (see post, The Interbionics Thing, 12/24/05), somebody broke into my house and stole some evidence from the Secret Chamber. I beefed up my security and haven’t had a problem since, but I never did figure out who broke in – clearly somebody that knew my secret identity. Nothing bad has happened since then, so I kind of forgot about it. But what if somebody like Interbionics came into my house and painted a clear, odorless poison on my remote control or a keyboard or something? I’m just saying, I think I have a more legitimate reason for paranoia than the average person.

So anyway, I’m gripped with nausea and sweating, irrational fear for a few long hours until I go to sleep. I dream of watermelon and Hydrangea.

When I wake up the next morning, Wendy is in my kitchen with groceries – watermelon, ginger ale, rice, apple sauce, and Eggo waffles. I stagger into the kitchen in my bathrobe, haggard and surprised.

“Wendy, this is awesome,” I say, cracking open a ginger ale. “Thanks so much. That’s weird, I was thinking of watermelon all night. How did you even know I was sick?”

“You called our house at 3 AM asking if we had any watermelon you could borrow,” Wendy says.

“Oh. All right, then.”

“Connor, your fridge is disgusting,” Wendy says, rooting around noisily in the fridge. “What is this? Are these asparagus spears? I’m cleaning this out, this is gross.”

“Knock yourself out.”

“You would think that somebody like you, who is so obsessed with their appearance, would have a really clean fridge.”

“Do I look like I’m obsessed with my appearance?” I say, wiping gunk from the corner of my mouth.

“Not right now, no,” Wendy says.

Apropos of nothing, I say, “Hey, have you talked to Emma?” Emma, the Emmanator, is Wendy’s hot cop cousin, and a member of the ECPD’s Paracrime Unit. I slept with her once and we haven’t spoken since. Actually, I think she slept with me.

“No,” Wendy says, unconvincingly, burying her head back in my disgusting fridge.

“Come on, what’s the deal?” I say, knowing that I’m whining but not caring.

Wendy sighs. “Connor, I think you should just let that one go. Emma’s really into her work, you know, she doesn’t really have time—“

“Woah, woah,” I say, indignant. “I’m not making a big deal about this, I’m not trying to steer this boat into relationship land.” My lame metaphor hangs heavy in the air.

“Okay,” Wendy says. “Then you’re okay with you guys just having that one-night thing and that’s it?”

“Of course. Please. I’m me.”

“Good. Because I think for Emma it was just sort of a conquest thing. She’s very alpha, you know.”

“A conquest thing,” I say. “Like a sport fuck.”

“That’s kind of a crude term, but that’s accurate. Oh my God, look at this. I think this was spaghetti sauce once.”

Wendy continues disemboweling my fridge as I gently sip ginger ale.

I feel sick.

April 07, 2005

Illin' and chillin' just like a snowman

Okay, I'm sick. It's like a stomach bug or something. I made it home from patrol last night and violently vomitted up the contents of my stomach. We've established earlier that involuntary bodily functions can be dangerous, or at the very least messy, when you have super strength like I do. (see post The unique hazards of super-powered sneezing, 2/8/05)

I've discovered that throwing up with super force into the toilet can make a huge mess in the bathroom. When I feel better I'll clean the walls and ceiling off.

Shoot me, somebody.

April 06, 2005

Patrol Report

Uneventful patrol tonight. I hopped around Midtown for an hour and then called it quits. I'm starting to feel a little wonky; I hope I'm not getting sick.

April 05, 2005

Kraken like Dokken

More Kraken rampage!

This time the giant mutant squid monster ate most of a Japanese tuna fleet. The combined Japanese-American fleet that’s hunting the beast is still being shadowed by an Ocean Steward ship full of hippies who want to spare the ship-eating monster. They released a statement yesterday that said that they think The Kraken’s rampage may have been caused by high-frequency active sonar used by the military.

I call bullshit on that. I think it’s a weapon of mass destruction sent by evil undersea aliens, or a Cthulhu-type elder god or something.

Where the hell is Sea King? Shouldn’t he be taking care of this? I’d be embarrassed if I was the planet's main underwater superhero and this shit was happening on my watch.

April 04, 2005

Golf Report

Mitch and I go golfing at Emerald Greens today and he reads me the riot act for not visiting him and Lisa and their new baby recently. I feel kind of bad – upon reflection I realize that I may have Kid Issues, which I won’t go into here. Let’s just say that it’s a combination of Peter Pan Syndrome, a feeling of inadequacy, and the fact that I could crush a child’s skull with my bare hands if I lost control. Kids make me nervous.

So I apologize to Mitch, but I still kick his ass at golf.