The Sea Horse: Going National

  The two villains spoke through video conference. Just hours before they were trying to kill each other. Now, they were each other’s only hope of maintaining control of their criminal empires. Each had lost face, it would be only a matter of time before challengers knocked at their doors.

“Titanic is one of those rare entities you don’t control. He is a partner, and must be treated as such. Ignore that, and he will lose interest in your affairs. He is an eccentric genius, a scientist with the body of a steel tank that happens to be twelve feet tall. He will simply shut down and return to things that interest him. I know this, and I take steps to prevent it.”

 “You’re telling me this why?” “Because now Society, he is our only possible option. The Sea Horse has embarrassed both of us. He freed the Mayor, stopped you from killing me, and defeated Carbuncle. The only relevant factor that forces our subordinates to continue to listen to us, is Titanic.”

 “You have forced yourself to become my ally, if you want to remain viable in the city. To remain viable, we must release the Titanic on all of Oceania.” High Society didn’t like giving up his only ace. He had the plans for the Infantino Machine, but Titanic was the key. Titanic would not change loyalties, so the two ‘societies’ had to come together.  

 “All right, but who is he? Is he really related to Franklin and Edison? How does he do what he does?” “Who knows? Who cares? The Titanic never goes by anything else. His hair color and features alter almost independently, one moment he’s bald, the next minute he has red hair and a gray goatee. Here is what I know about him.”

He is a walking energy plant, producing electricity at a a massive rate. Able to channel it through vibration and affect the weather in a few hundred mile radius. His body generates heat, his bodysuit channels that through a atmospheric based process akin to hydraulics, and he generates bursts of destruction.”

 “So a combination of him and the Infantino Machine will secure Oceania?” “Oh no, this is larger than Oceania. This will place the East Coast at our feet. We are no longer campaigning for the Mayor’s attention. The entire country will take notice of us now!”

The Sea Horse: Thief Vs Thief

  High Society had threatened every player in Oceania.  Mimic had kidnapped the Mayor, and put a price on The Sea Horse’s head.  Now, before Sea Horse could get back to the city, the two were leveling buildings around them.

“I lead this city Mimic, give me the Mayor.”  High Society demanded as he shot lasers directly at Mimic’s torso.  Mimic blocked them with a force field his suit generated, then countered by returning energy blasts of his own. “My army says otherwise.  You are a small player on a much larger stage. I suggest you withdraw!”

“I’m not afraid of your society Mimic.  I’ve known of its existence for years, and kept at bay from it.  Now, I make the threats.  I control this city.  You are mine!”  

High Society knew he was playing a dangerous game.  His goal was to make the other factions think he had become unhinged, capable of doing anything.  While, all the time, playing behind the scenes.  He had been strategically bribing Mimic’s lower lieutenants for weeks now.  

The problem was, everyone he paid off, eventually disappeared.  Mimic didn’t tolerate disloyalty, so Society had to take another tactic.  If he couldn’t take Mimic down through graft, he would embarrass him in battle.

Once the society saw their Baronet defeated, High Society could exert his influence.  His brother had been a member of the Society, so he knew it’s workings.  Unfortunately, Mimic was proving stronger than High Society had expected.

“If you can’t win the battle, destroy the trophy!”  High Society said as he blasted the pillar holding the Mayor.  Just in the nick of time, Swordfish rescued the politician.  “Not today gents, Oceania can’t handle another set of speeches while someone tries to fill the Mayor’s post.”

Angry, both villains turned their blast on Swordfish.  It was at that moment, the Sea Horse arrived. “I don’t like uneven games.  How about we change things up a little.”  He said, as he picked Mimic up off the ground.

Swordfish speared High Society’s tank, destabilizing his flight pattern.  Mimic and Sea Horse were locked in battle.  Each returning and repelling the other’s blows.  Always an opportunist, Carbuncle had decided to seize the day himself.  

His solution was to fire a missile, aimed directly for Langly Tower, Mimic’s skyrise headquarters.  Spectrum and Loggerhead intercepted it in midflight.  They were able to change its direction, sending it to the ocean instead.

Am earthquake finally stopped the battle, the villains retreating as the heroes rescued innocent citizens.  High Society hadn’t got what he was after, but he secured his runner up prize.  Mimic returned to his real base, thankful for his ally’s intervention.

“Thank you Titanic for the distraction.  You were right, High Society is more dangerous than I had anticipated.  He managed to secure  the Infantino Plan on his exit.  We can’t have that.”  The monument sized Titanic responded.  “He won’t be able to activate it,  only I have the mechanism that powers it.”

The Sea Horse: Society Rules

  The Sea Horse, Armor, Carbuncle, Hyperbole, and The Brittish Rose all went.  Mimic was invited, but he sent a representative instead.  Each were summoned to the abandoned Air Force base just outside the city.  The land had been purchased recently by a shell corporation. Everyone knew it was a trap, but they were too curious not to go.  

Soon each faced a hundred men. They were subdued in an energy field, and suspended in anti-gravity chambers above acid tanks.  When the stage was set, their captor appeared to gloat.

“For too long factions have stolen the spotlight.  I am The Sea Horse’s nemesis, I am the criminal leader of this city, and I am tired of all of you.”  High Society announced calmly as he pushed the button that turned off the anti-gravity chamber.  Each prisoner was sent hurdling face first towards an acid bath.

Just as quickly as he turned it off, he turned it back on.  “What good is it if I kill you.  I want you to each know the rules of this city, the Society Rules, and I’m not talking about Mimic’s toy group either.”

“Stay out of my way. Do not anger me, and most of all, fear my actions.  Now that we’ve established this, you’re free to go. If you can figure out a way to escape.  Otherwise we’ll, we’re done then.”

High Society flew away as his henchmen filed out in trucks.  Sea Horse, having heard what he needed to hear, broke free.  Armor followed suit.  Hyperbole was never really there, it being one of his robot doubles instead of his holographic projections.  Soon, each was free of the death cell.

Once each man was loose, the robotic Hyperbole spoke to the group.  “He seemed different somehow.  Slightly unhinged perhaps.”  Armor spoke next, “Maybe the equipment that gives him his power has affected his brain. He’s angrier than I’ve seen h.”  

The Sea Horse shook his head. “This wasn’t insanity, and this wasn’t anger.  He’s as sane as he ever was, he staged this show for each of our benefit.  His goal wasn’t to kill or even capture us.  Society knew we’d escape, his goal was … to get us out of the city.”

Each rushed back to see what High Society’s real plan was.  All but Hyperbole, since he was never really there, he and Actrice escaped to their ‘appropriated’ yacht in the marina.  Mimic’s representative, Titanic, conferenced in his boss on the way.

It hadn’t even been 12 hours since Mimic had kidnapped the Mayor and threatened The Sea Horse.  Titanic knew his boss did not like being upstaged.  This High Society seemed to have skills, equipment, and manpower.  He would be an opponent to watch closely.

“High Society is planning to hit us, and hard.  He made it plain that he wants to run this city.  You are in danger, you need to evacuate.”  Mimic laughed.  “High Society is like all the others.  I do not fear him, if he wants a war, I’ll match his actions, move for move.”

The Sea Horse: New In Town

  Mimic had chosen a costume.  He wasn’t unaccustomed to them, having acted all his life. This would be different, it was his first public persona as a Baronet of The Society Of Thieves. Prior to now, he had worked in the shadows, preferring to build his public reputation as head of the Almeric Group.

Leonard Almeric would have to learn to juggle two faces. One legitimate, and the other totally opposite.   His costume needed flair, it needed class, it needed “an ascot.” He laughed at his own style.  He was a Baronet, a General of con men, he would mimic famous leaders and disarm others with his flamboyant but dangerous image. 

He wore a bronze metal mask with the features of a skinny Henry VIII.  A Napoleonic crown topped the mask, while a shogun’s robe covered his torso, exposing the red ascot and black camouflage jumpsuit underneath.  His weapon of choice, a small rifle fashioned with the same coloring and pearl accents as Patton’s prize side arms. Black knee high boots finished the outfit. Mimic’s voice was disguised to give him a Swedish accent.  

He wanted to leave an impression beyond fashion.  So as his first public exhibit, he kidnapped the Mayor of Oceania in broad daylight. Dropping down from a helicopter during the Mayor’s press conference on the steps of City Hall.  “The ransom is one billion dollars or the Sea Horse’s freedom.  Oceania, you have forty eight hours to comply. If not, I suggest you hold a new election, and interview another hero.”

The Sea Horse: The Society Of Thieves

  “Groups have romanticized origins, but I can only report what I was told.  Many years ago, our leader was a Frenchman.  He worked for the King Of France. His position was that of a land based privateer. At least, that’s what the King called it.  Others called him a thief, so he formed the Voleurs Société, or the Society Of Thieves.  Whole unrelated families joined the organization.  The problem was the King could not publicly endorse him, so he was in constant danger of death.”

Actrice picked up the story, the two talked in turn.  Sea Horse expected this was some form of strategy the two used on their enemies.  They alternated seamlessly back and forth through the entire conversation.  “His solution was to establish members of the Voleurs Société throughout Europe.  They worked together, until it suited them not too.  Ours was the English branch, after a few generations, a group of our ancestors transitioned to America.”

It was Hyperbole’s turn.  “Every band has a cover, some secondary monetary stream that also hides our main job.  Occasionally country’s leaders still call on us, other times we freelance.  Once when we were young Mimic, Actrice, and I were friends.  As much in love with the theater as we were our different family’s businesses.  We had an argument over who would play the lead in the play, and in a relationship with Actrice.  He wanted both roles, I was content to let him play Hamlet, but not to marry the woman I loved.”

She spoke. “We escaped, or so we thought, until he was waiting for us at the plane.  He paid off the people in the small airport, and took me with him.  I refused to marry him, and he’s kept me locked up in different locations for the last number of years.  Meanwhile, he became famous and built a secondary empire, he’s also a leader in the American society.”

It was now the Sea Horse’s turn.  “So you decided to liberate her, embarrass him, and establish yourself as his replacement?”  Hyperbole laughed, “Yes, yes, and no. Other than Actrice, and the odd assistant, I work alone.  I’m not interested in leading Oceania’s crime family, or the society.  I prefer to watch him squirm, to explain to the other Baronets why he cannot even steal a Bride.  This way, his pride will prevent him from trying again, and by hiding in the open, we will be safe.  You see Sea Horse, I intend to be, while not your nemesis, a prominent independent contractor on your roster of antagonists.”

“Wonderful, you’ll excuse me if I don’t applaud.  I will however acknowledge your performance at the Diamond Exchange.  You weren’t ever really there were you?  That’s how your gloves could appear to cut glass.”  “Bravo, the only thing that was there, or at the gallery, was my walking staff.  It, a drone, projected a holographic illustration, and emitted the stun gas pellets.  The diamonds were stolen by the odd assistants while the guards slept. This trick also enabled me to distract Mimic while I located my Bride.”

“So, you’ve not only inserted the two of you into Oceania, but the Society into the city as well.  Now I assume I’ll have Mimic to contend with.  He’ll claim that you worked for him all along, and that you were scouting out a new area to play in.”  “You’re very observant, although you can cast my cousin for tha role.  Or did you not know that Carbuncle is a member of the Society?  Why do you think he was released so easily from jail?”

“We thought he had friends in important areas of the city.” “Oh he does, and each of them wear a golden mask pin.  It’s the calling card of the Society.  I’m not bringing them here to hide, I’m hiding here because this is their new base.  Mimic intends to make this a new cultural center, that’s why he built the Colonnade.  That way, he can leave Hollywood and move here without notice, to run your city.  You have more problems than us I’m afraid.  Siegel Heights was not me attacking you, it was me warning you.”

The Sea Horse: Rubble

  “It’s rubble! Everything but those two paintings the chef purchased.” The curator was on his knees in tears. The Sea Horse spoke from behind him. “He wasn’t a chef, and it’s not rubble. All of this is an illusion, a bit of dramatic flair. The question is, who is his audience?”

The battle of Siegel Heights had ended with the final collapse. The main players withdrew, leaving Oceania’s Protectors to round up the lesser henchmen and accomplices. Spectrum was able to secure Wonzu’s weapon as a trophy. Each side suffered injury, there was no clear winner.The media weren’t sure who to blame, the villains or the heroes. The people of the city chose to blame the villains. They realized that Sea Horse and his allies were one of the few lines of defense their city had.

While they were all sorting out why, who, how, and what Siegel Heights was about, the two protagonists were weighing their options. Leonard Almeric stood looking out his window, the billionaire philanthropist and international media mogul was livid. His entire empire was turning on the dime that was Hyperbole.

Meanwhile Hyperbole, and his new bride, were rehearsing a play. It might seem odd, but they were actors after all, as well as thieves. It was more to pass the time, although halfway through the performance, they grew a crowd of one.

“Welcome Sea Horse to our humble chateau.” Hyperbole said with a bow and a flourish. “It’s hardly humble when almost the Colonnade’s entire contents are stored in the basement.” The man on the stage laughed heartily. “I’ll help you load them up if you promise to share the news with the world.”

“You mean the fact that they’re all fakes?” For the first time the woman spoke. “Ah, you are right Horatio, he is perceptive.” She was a beautiful woman, just an inch shorter than Hyperbole with long brown hair and hazel eyes. 

“Sea Horse, may I introduce the newly Mrs. Horatio Lavalier. You may refer to her as Actrice, just as you know me as Hyperbole.” “How does this play out?” “I either embarrass my rival for holding the woman I love as extortion, or I cost him his entire art collection.”

“Meaning he coughs up the real ones and rebuilds the museum, or you expose him.” “Precisely! I’m so glad you are inclined to agree.” “Who is he really?” “Oh you’ve heard of him. Actrice answered. “He is known as Mimic in the criminal world. In the business world he’s the head of media conglomerate, The Almeric Group.”

“How did you get here?” “It started with Shakespeare, and ended with Keats.” Sea Horse didn’t move, Actrice explained. “I’m afraid he’s serious, actors are passionate about their roles. Especially when the role pays four billion dollars…”

The Sea Horse: Hyperbole Rescues

  “We have been marching on a collision course for a while now. Key players have taken their places in each camp.” “If it’s a war, you’re the orchestrator, this entire plan was yours.” “No, that’s not true. I didn’t plan for you. I thought you were half a world away.” “I was, now I’m back, but we are not.”

“You stand by your decision?” “I do, we weren’t right for each other. What happens next?” The two principal players in this conflict stood facing each other. “How did we get here?” He asked. She turned away. “You refused to play Hamlet, that’s how.”

With that, she walked away, right before the explosion. Hyperbole, dressed in a chef’s outfit, watched her go. The room filled with smoke, his assistant pulled his arm. He didn’t move. “Grab the purchases, and then we’ll leave.” He had paid a small fortune for the two paintings, and had a receipt to prove it.

This meant that he could walk out the front door without fear of the police stopping him. Galleon and Tournament stood waiting. He handed them their payment, ordered them to earn their commission, and disappeared like a magician. His assistant left via a motorcycle in the chaos.

Every costumed citizen of Oceania was embroiled in the battle. Armor had his hand at High Society’s throat. The Wonzu was fending off an attack from Spectrum and Inspector. Sea Horse and Carbuncle were trading blows. Swordfish was fighting Galleon’s crew, while Loggerhead faced Tournament’s men.

The British Rose wasn’t sure who they were, but was facing four small quadruplet gentlemen wearing Cossack style clothing. They fought as one person, alternating kicks, punches, and backflips. It was a tornado of activity, exactly what Hyperbole had planned. Except for the result, he had hoped things would go differently.

Since it did not, he was left with no choice. He called her from the car. “Are you sure you won’t change your mind?” “Positive, it’s not negotiable.” “I’m afraid there is where you’re wrong. It is very negotiable, especially since I know where you are.” She laughed. “How?” No answer, at least not a verbal one followed, instead the door opened.

When it did, Hyperbole saw the love of his life chained to a laptop and a bomb. She did not speak, the laptop did, with a voice designed to mimic hers. “So you found your girlfriend. How did you get from Oceania to here?” “It doesn’t matter. Like you, I deal in illusion, now I know what you’ve done. The fact is, I am here, and we had a deal. Let her go.”

“If I don’t?” “Then I will carry out my objective. Over the course of the last few months, I have located every revenue source you have. One command, and each account will begin to dump money into multiple charities publicly. You’ll be penniless in seconds, and you won’t be able to recover them, because you’ll be on the front page. The famous philanthropist can’t take money back.”

“Take her, and go. I’ve disarmed the bomb. I warn you, don’t let me find you. Take her and hide in some remote area of the globe. Otherwise, you will pay for this every second of your life.” “Goodbye Leonard, I’ll be staying at our old location if you want to try.”

The Sea Horse: Siegel Heights

  “To understand the Wonzu’s plan you have to understand the key to her exception.  We knew when we asked her to confine their activities to their own base, that she had a loophole.  That loophole is Siegel Heights.”  Swordfish explained to their allies.

The Brittish Rose was frustrated. “Then why give her an out at all? Don’t tell me it was the best deal you could make, you defeated her, she had a blood debt.”  Inspector shot a look towards him.  “It’s not the deal she had to make, it’s the one we wanted.”  

Loggerhead projected a holographic 3d map using his drones. “Alligate was once the richest area of the city.  It’s no longer, because  of her organization, with one exception. Siegel Heights forks, one area makes up the docks.  The other, although rezoned, is still technically Siegel Heights.”

The Sea Horse continued the briefing. “Only now it’s known as Tyson Row, and the crown jewel of the area is the Colonnade.”  “You want her active near the Colonnade, why?”  “Because that’s where everything is going to happen.  This isn’t just about Hyperbole’s plan, it’s the center of the war zone.”

“The remnants of the old crime organization, the leftovers from your agency’s failed agenda, and all the freelancers are hungry for control.  They have a catalyst that has set them in action.  He’s got them swirling around his whirlpool day and night.”

“So your idea is to what? Play into his hand, hope that Wonzu takes down everyone else, and then take her out?”  “No, we can’t be sure what Hyperbole is planning, or anyone else for that matter.”

The newest member of the group spoke last. “What we can do, is force everyone towards the center, and minimize the collateral damage.”  The figure was clothed entirely in various shades of yellow.  

He could tell that the tall, muscular six foot-two man was Native American.  His mask and vest were golden yellow.  While the gloves and boots were a more fiery yellow.  His pants and boots were a dark yellow, and he seemed to have no symbols of any kind on his costume.

“What do we call you?”  “Spectrum.” Was his only reply as his costume instantly changed to hues of blue, red, green, and orange.  “I’m the one who’s going to end the Wonzu’s reign of terror in Alligate!”

The Sea Horse: A Different Game

  Armor, for the first time, was angry at his Mother.  “Why did you promise this?  It restricts us, now we are …”  Suddenly he stopped, knowing that expression.  “You have a plan. You were pleased with her request. Was this your plan all along?”  

The Wonzu, pleased that her son knew her mind, answered his question.  “No, but a good general adapts.  For too long, the factions of this city have tried to play us.  They viewed us as pawns in their game of Chess. I grow tired of it, now we will play a different game.”

“What is your plan?”  She smiled.  “They tried to limit our movements to our territory, they’ve made it a game of Monopoly, about real estate.  We are to stay on our Boardwalk and play nice.  They forgot that we also own Park Place as well.  Here is what we are going to do.”

In another part of the city, Tournament stood conversing with his Wife, Elyse.  “You think he will give you what he has promised?”  “If not, I’ll take it. He’s entertaining, he could be a genius.  Either way, I’ll play out the game until it changes.  In the end, we’ll rule the entire city.”

“Let Hyperbole create chaos, and when he brings order, I’ll take over the new regime.  To be famous, you don’t beat every player every game.  You pick the championship games, and defeat the champ.”

Galleon had the same plan, truth be told, it was in all of the criminal’s minds.  Each one was convinced they could defeat Hyperbole once he defeated the Sea Horse and took over.  Which is ironic since Hyperbole had never said this.

As it turned out, Hyperbole did not want to run the city, it was too messy.  He didn’t even want one person to run it.  He had another playbook entirely.  Like the Wonzu, his was a very different game.

The Sea Horse: Acquisitions

   

  The small man strolled through the department store he had just purchased.  He selected four different outfits for his wardrobe, and several items to add to his arsenal.  Hyperbole was ready to put his plan into action.  

No one would suspect a Charity luncheon as a cover. That was one of the reasons for the rooftop luncheon, to give his crew experience blending in as waiters and waitresses.  Though his original plan hadn’t involved partners, it was easy to enough to alter.

She was who he hadn’t counted on, he thought he would never see her again.  He remembered an argument ten years before, but they were young and proud.  Could she see him now as anything but a threat?  He would know soon.

Meanwhile Swordfish and the Wonzu were fighting.  The Wonzu used her ‘eyebrow’ blade to lunge at the younger woman, but each time, Swordfish would strike and retreat.  What the older woman didn’t know was this was all part of the plan.

She was drawing the Wonzu into a trap of her own making.  Swordfish had taunted her foe into a battle in front of her lieutenants.  It was rumored that no one could beat her in a fight.  Wonzu had promised the first person to succeed would be granted any request.

Just as the Wonzu took her weapon in both hands to deal a final blow, she felt the heat go through her body.  The woman collapsed almost instantly, waking up a few minutes later.

“It’s called a heat bomb Wonzu.  You see, your anger made you just careless enough to not notice that I attached it to your blade.  I believe I am owed one request.”

The Wonzu was angry, though more at herself than her impressive opponent. “I see now why the Sea Horse trusts you to be his partner, you are cunning, and quick.  I am at your service, one request, but within reason.”

“It’s small, it’s to limit your activities to your territory for the next nine days.  I ask nothing more or less, of ALL your members.”  The Wonzu laughed.  “He will hate it, but he will agree.”