--Chapter Nine: The Makings of a Showdown
Sonic the Hedgehog. Leo, as Sonic, confronts RoKrugnik.
Leo: I’ve got you now! All your minions could not stop me from getting to you eventually!
RoKrugnik: RoKrugnik SMASH! (He shoots a laser beam. It misses.)
Leo: Ha! Now I’ll just jump in a little spiked ball and…
(Leo attacks. RoKrugnik catches him and starts bouncing him like a basketball.)
Leo: Now I remember why I hate sports games so much…
RoKrugnik: You think this bad, someday RoKrugnik show you hedgehog rugby!
Pants Man found a cheap hotel to stay in, and when he woke up, he gave the Commissioner another call. While the superhero had not found any more clues in the aftermath, he had come to a few conclusions while thinking:
First, he kicked himself for not leaving a warning at the crime scene last night. If all the emergency exits were rigged, any innocent person may have tripped them. It was not natural for a superhero to neglect such a detail.
Second, the victim he found had to be there for a reason, and Pants Man would have to find that out.
The man had to set off the bomb via the door. It’s the only way… and that means he had to be inside the building while I was breaking the welding. He thought about this for a while. When I ran through the building, I set off a loud alarm. He didn’t set that alarm off when he was inside, though. He even pressed the clash bar and the alarm stayed silent. Therefore, he must have been there on devious purpose. But what would a cat burglar be up to in a convention center? It’s not a museum, after all. There’s nothing of value there… at least, not until the convention, that is.
Then he remembered the other person he had seen at the center that night: the one looking at the convention ad. He could have set the bombs… then would he weld the doors afterword? It was possible, but he would have to do it before the blast victim entered the building… easy enough to do if he knew when the victim would arrive. Perhaps they were enemies… but that doesn’t pan out; the bomber had anticipated his victim’s actions too well.
When the bomber exited the building, if he left via doorway, then there should have been at least one door that was not rigged. That was probably the front, since it was also the only door not welded. How did the bomber know that the victim would try to exit through a side route? The victim had to be testing the welds. Yes… they were on the same side, and one had knocked out the other. What’s more, that could not have been in either’s superior’s plans, since all evidence pointed to the event happening at the convention that weekend.
Scott, out of costume in the new daylight, called the Commissioner’s Office from a street payphone. The Commissioner was not in yet, but the secretary said she had a message for Pants Man to come to a hospital… The victim of last night’s bombing said he wanted to talk with Pants Man…
“It kitties’ lucky day!” proclaimed Krug with a smile as he threw open the curtains in his hotel room, letting in some fairly bright morning sunlight.
Aeris and Leo took a moment to wake up. They were in a bundle at the foot of the bed, Leo curled in a ball and Aeris resting her head and forepaws on his back. Krug could not help but widen his smile and say, “Awww, kitties so cute.”
Aeris got up and yawned.
Leo, with his eyes still closed, asked, “You said it’s our lucky day?”
Krug grabbed his coat and hat. “Today Krug take kitties to work day.”
Leo opened his eyes and exchanged a look of curiosity with Aeris.
“Krug going to teach Evil Fleshy Ones not to lie to Krug. But Krug not know when Fleshy Ones lie, so kitties come along and help Krug.”
“Okay,” said Aeris.
Then all three of them left.
Number Three was in high spirits as he walked through the hallways of Firm headquarters. He entered the boardroom spotlight and did not so much as flinch at Number One’s immediate question.
Number One: Did you succeed in wiping out Number Two?
Number Three: He is in critical condition at St. Something’s. The report is that he doesn’t have enough blood in him to see noon. He’s requested to see “Pants Man,” but we all know how absurd that is. Two will be cremated by nightfall.
Number One: That means you’re up for a certain promotion, then.
Number Three: (sly grin) Thank you.
Number One: I must warn you not to make the same mistake your predecessor did, stealing company funds for personal use. I’d let him do it for years, but in the end, I had to… make an example of him.
Number Three: Of course.
Number One: The issue of the merchandise still remains. The convention will likely be cancelled or moved to a new location.
Number Three: But this is why we ousted Two with time to spare, right? Instead of welding the night before the convention—
Number One: Our target is in a truck on its way to Toronto. Tell Krug to… take care of the merchandise, as well as the truck driver. I’m sure you can make such arrangements.
Number Three: Certainly.
Three walked down the hall again, this time through the door where Dr. Doe supposedly kept Krug detained.
When he closed the door behind him, it locked automatically. He checked: it would not unlock from the inside without a key.
Outside the door, Aeris pulled the key out of the lock and dropped to the floor. She picked up the key ring in her mouth and walked innocently away from the scene.
Three surveyed the room in which he was locked. The fluorescent lights were all on. Steel prison bars, on the other side of which should have been Krug, partitioned the room. Krug was not there, though; the barred-off side of the room was empty.
In front of Three stood a sterile metal table, a high-backed swivel chair at the head, across from the entryway. Currently it turned around to reveal Krug, sitting and stroking a gray cat.
Krug: Greetings, Fleshy One.
Number Three: (tense, trying to hide nervousness) Greetings, Krug.
Krug: Now tell Krug: Are you a good Fleshy One, or an evil Fleshy One?
Number Three: I’m good, of course.
Krug: Ah. So what you do that makes you good?
Number Three: I—uh, I do stuff that’s… good, I guess.
Krug: It good to breed monster and tell it to kill people?
Number Three: (thinking quickly) Why, yes! That’s one great deed, as long as the people killed are evil ones.
(Leo, sitting on Krug’s lap, growls)
Krug: (petting Leo) Mr. Leosworth does not like that answer. He think that people make monster to kill people are evil.
Number Three: “Mr. Leosworth?”
Krug: It best not lie to Mr. Leosworth. Lies make Mr. Leosworth upset. And when Mr. Leosworth get upset, Krug get upset. And when Krug get upset, people DIE!
Number Three: Okay, okay, I’m not trying to make Mr. Leosworth angry. Now, what do you want?
Krug: Krug want to know what Evil Fleshy Ones want and why they really make Krug for doing it.
Number Three: But I told you, we made you so that we could kill Evil Ones—
Number Three: Um, er, but uh, it is possible I left out a detail or two…
At length Number Three told them all about the truck and the plot to kill Number Two, and whatever Krug could not catch of the fast conversation, Leo was sharp enough to pick up. The subject eventually got to Pants Man, and the gray cat turned uneasy on mention of the name. Krug still thinks Pants Man is one of the bad ones! he thought.
Then Krug said, “Wait. If evil ones are against Pants Man, then Pants Man good… why was Mr. Leosworth against Pants Man last night?” The monster looked down at Leo for the moment.
Best to tell the truth, Leo considered, or something close to it, anyway. Then he said, “Aeris and I are Pants Man’s pets. He forgot to feed us before he left to stop the evil ones. That’s why we were out looking for him.”
Krug’s memory of the previous night was as hazy as one would expect for a monster with an IQ of seventy-one. For now, the big red thing accepted the cat’s answer.
Number Three was stunned. The cat was… talking? What other things was Dr. Doe doing in his spare time, anyway? Soon there would be mutant fish roaming the halls here…
“Krug say, Krug not hurt Fleshy One this time.”
Number Three sighed relief, but only briefly.
Krug pressed a button on the table, and the prison cage door opened. “Now Fleshy One go in!”
Three grinned. There were a million ways he could pick the lock after Krug left the room, so he was not afraid to get behind the bars.
The door closed and locked automatically behind him. Then Krug pressed another button. This time, a trap door opened in the floor, and with an electric whirring of gears in motion, a platform elevator came up and rested at floor level.
Standing on the platform was the most hideous human being Three had ever seen. It was extremely large and well built, but its clothes looked to be so tight as to cut off any chance of blood flow.
“Fleshy One, meet Major Payne. He Doctor Doe latest experiment. You two have fun together.”
Krug and Leo left the room, the former unlocking the door with a spare room key. The last sound Leo heard from that room was a low grumble from Major Payne.
“Have a nice day,” said Leo under his breath. After hearing the evil agent’s full scheme in such first-hand detail, he felt no pity for Number Three at all.