“If I could put crime in a bottle, the first thing that I’d like to do….”
A teeming Gotham. A Metropolis of tall buildings and people of average height. Where justice and fairplay were upheld by the Cappers, who fought evil with a mighty mix of courage and witty remarks.
But something new was to come to the city. Something that would bring the Cappers nearer to defeat than they ever had before.
This was to be the Cappers’ greatest battle.
The Conglomeration of Evil comprised the crème de la crème of supervillainy. The baddest of the bad, and the meanest of the mean. You couldn’t even get a part-time dishwashing position in the kitchen unless you’d been given at least seven consecutive life-sentences by the state. A meeting was in session. An armored man shook his fist adamantly at the others seated at the large table. “We must STRIKE, and STRIKE fast!”
A red-haired woman with a silver cape frowned. “You always say that, Major Antagonist,” she sighed. “Whenever there’s a plan to be made it’s always ‘strike’ this and ‘strike’ that.”
Major Antagonist sank into his chair, crossing his arms. Pouting, he said, “Well, we must…”
Another villain wagged a gloved finger at the redhead. “Now now, Ms. Iree,” the Evil Cheese said. “Our enemies are the Cappers, not ourselves.”
A black-helmeted figure nodded in agreement. “Heeza right! Weeza shood be making war against de Cappers, okey-day?”
The figure sitting at the head of the table rose from his seat. He was Dark Doom, the leader of the Conglomeration. Resplendent in red robes with a matching hood, he rose his arms to get everyone’s attention. “Darth Binks is right. Our latest defeats at the hands of the Cappers have lowered our morale. Our next target will be the Caption City Bicentennial Barbecue, in Caption Park!”
Mr. Sneer sneered his approval. “Splendid idea, Doom! What is your scheme? Douse the citizens with nerve toxin?”
Lady Die sat in her black leather jumpsuit, stilettos slid in small pockets along her hips. “Plant a bomb in the park?”
Another villain at the table asked, “Kidnap the mayor?”
The Rotten Queen turned to him, rolling her eyes. “That’s what you always suggest, General Kidnap-The-Mayor.”
“Well,” the General replied, “excuse me for specializing!”
Major Antagonist shouted, “We should STRIKE!”
“No no no!” Dark Doom rose his voice, stopping the others. “As I said, our morale is at an all-time low. So, my plan is … that we take the holiday weekend off. We go to the Barbecue, relax, have some fun. And then on Monday, we put the city in a stranglehold of fear the likes of which has never been conceived!”
They all turned to the entrance to the meeting room. A man stood there, dressed in a dark business suit. He had close-cropped hair, and a neatly trimmed beard.
Dark Doom asked, “Who are you?”
“I am Baron Vlad Miglionicco,” the man replied in a crisp British accent. “But you can call me … Baron Vlad Miglionicco.”
Lady Die leaned over to Mr. Sneer. “Sounds like we’ve got another wannabe supervillain on our hands.”
Miglionicco looked over at her, stepping to the table. “No, I decided against being a supervillain. I decided I’d rather rule the world instead.” He began pacing around the table, eyeing them. “Look at you. You all gad about in outrageously flamboyant costumes. I mean, have any of you even felt an Armani suit in your lives?” He ran a hand along his lapel appreciatively. “You plot your plotty plots to take over Caption City – a city with nearly zero real-estate value, yet dozens of superpowered protectors. A stellar choice!”
The Rotten Queen asked Binks, “Is he insulting us?”
The Baron stepped behind her chair, and leaned in. “Oh, am I not being clear? I’ll turn my intellectual sarcasm down a notch or twelve so you can all understand me.” He leaned back, and walked around the table some more.
Darth Binks replied to her, “Meeza tink so.”
Miglionicco finally came to a stop at the far end of the table. “Ladies, gentlemen, and of course, Winky the Sociopathic Robot … I’m here because I’ve come up with a cunning plan with which to take over Caption City.”
Dark Doom scoffed. “Well ‘Baron Miglionicco,’ that’s an interesting pitch. But we’ve already got a plan in the works, thank you very much.”
“Oh yes. The Barbecue jamboree. Tell me, which of you will be bringing the potato salad?”
General Kidnap-The-Mayor rose a finger to get Doom’ attention. “I’ve got a great recipe for—OWWW!” Doom shut him up with a quick jab to the shoulder.
The Baron rolled his eyes. “You’re all nothing but thugs. I, on the other hand, am an evil genius in need of manpower. Join me, follow my orders blindly and without question, and you can have not only the world … but a significant amount of money to be negotiated at a later date—“
Dark Doom rose from his seat, interrupting him. “I’m the only leader of this group!”
Miglionicco continued. “—or you can stay under the stalwart command of Dark Underpants there, and enjoy potato salad. It’s entirely your choice.”
Lady Die jutted out her chin defiantly. “I choose Dark Doom.”
Miglionicco sighed, reaching up to his lapel. He fingered a small silver brooch pinned to it, and a beam of red light stabbed out, vaporizing Lady Die. “Wrong choice. Anyone else?”
The villains all stared at the empty, smoldering patch in Lady’s chair. Winky droned, “I–-beep-beep—choose-Baron-Miglionicco.”
Ms. Iree nodded nervously. “Me too!”
Major Antagonist said, “I will STRIKE my vote with the Baron!” The rest of the villains all agreed, leaving Dark Doom open-mouthed and speechless.
Baron Miglionicco smiled thinly. “Thank you all. I hereby pledge that while I certainly wouldn’t want any of you in my home, I will stand proudly behind you all as you carry out my commands.” He stepped over to Dark Doom, looking at him. “I think you’re in my seat.” He touched his lapel again, and the brooch flared, atomizing Doom. He sat down at the head of the table, settling down. “Mmm, how I do love a warm chair. Now, the first order of business is changing the name of our organization.”
“Why?” The Evil Cheese said, “We’ve always been the Conglomeration of Evil!”
“Yes. And the Conglomeration has always been laughed at. So we shall start anew. We shall become … the Cadre.”
Darth Binks frowned under his helmet. “Cadre? Whyza we called de Cadre?”
“Because it’s classy. And the ‘dre’ appellation at the end of the name will add an air of superiority to our reputation. Major Antagonist, contact Kinkos and have 2,000 business cards printed with the group’s name on it. Ms. Iree, contact the proper authorities and have the name copyrighted. I don’t want to lose out on ANY merchandising endeavors.” The villains nodded. “I regret to say we’ll not be attending the Barbecue celebration. We’ll be too busy taking over the city.”
Mr. Sneer sneered at him. “What about the Cappers? They’re tough customers.”
Miglionicco smiled thinly. “Then, caveat emptor.” He chuckled, then saw the blank expressions on the others’ faces. “Caveat emptor? Latin? ‘Let the buyer beware?’” There was still nothing. “Customer… buyer… hello?” He sighed. “Forget it. We’ll have to get rid of them, then, won’t we? And once they’re gone, Caption City will have no choice but to give in to our demands.”
“Izza Cappers gonna dieee?”
“No, Darth Binks. To snuff their lives out would be too easy, too generous. What we’ll do is incapacitate them so badly that they’ll have no choice but to watch helplessly as their beloved city falls around them.” He took a deep breath. “Everyone, if you’d like a good stock-tip, I’d invest in Caption City’s hospitals … because they’ll be getting record business in the next few days.”
He rose from the table, beaming. “I think this has been a very productive first meeting. So everyone, go home. Get a good night’s sleep. Because tomorrow, our reign of terror begins.”
And true to his word, Baron Miglionicco’s reign of terror did, indeed, begin the next day.
He calculated advanced attacks, sending the entire Cadre after the Cappers one-by-one.
The first to end up hospitalized was, ironically, NurseNoir. YingYang showed up hours later, follow by Scypha. As the days progressed, more and more Cappers fell. SpydieGirl, medusaD, Zee, GersonK, Enapov, TheLurker, BuckFifty, Lanzman, Robofreak, LongLiveRock. The numbers swelled.
The Cadre was merciless, attacking without warning and mercy. One by one, they were broken, reducing the Cappers’ numbers more and more…
TO BE CONTINUED
(In part two, the remaining Cappers band together, and a somewhat thrilling fight-sequence occurs)