He sat in in the middle of his room on the only chair he owned. The lights were off. The second hand of the clock on the wall ticked away the moments. He breached in and out at a rhythm out of sync with the clock. Ghosts of outside light flickered on the wall. In an hour and thirteen minutes he would move from his chair to his bed. He waited. His time in the room was always spent waiting. Each time it felt the waiting was endless. The clock ticked away the passage of time. On the other end of the room a small light flicked on. It’s pale blue light shined in his eyes. The waiting was over.
The command center never changed. The faces and the equipment might change but the structure and the purpose never did. He looked over the files. He read along and nodded. A slow smile grew across his face. It was S.H.A.D.E. It had to be. The experts had said they were done for. He had argued. They had insisted. Even with the fate of the world in the balance, it felt good to be right.
He looked down on the clouds. The shapes twisted and bulged as they grew closer. In the past he would look for shapes of familiar objects in the swirls of vapor. A dog. A turtle. The fall was always too fast. Now he just admired how details merged the farther he fell. The he was cold and wet. Or at least he imagined he was. The suit kept him warm and dry. The clouds parted and he saw his target. The small building amid the rocks. He pushed the fears that the landing mechanisms wouldn’t activate. They always did.
He never say much sense in the type of security lasers S.H.A.D.E. preferred. Anything the could be outsmarted by a series of shaving mirrors didn’t deserve a six figure price tag. He was equally satisfied the old tricks still worked and that he could fit down an air shaft. It was a shame about the kid out front. With any luck when the nose healed the kid would still breath normally. He liked going easy on the young ones in the hopes it would give them a change of heart.
As he carefully slid out the air shaft he heard the familiar metal on metal slide. Only one guard. And it looked as if S.H.A.D.E. hadn’t updated their dress code. “One the ground!” barked the guard. “Kid, you ever use a standard issue shaving mirror?” he asked raising his hands, palms facing up. The guard looked confused. Even more so when the mirror in the intruder’s outstretched hand reflected the redirected air shaft laser into the guards chest. The man smiled as the guard fell. He pulled on the nano thread and the series of small mirrors fell down the shaft and the security laser returned to the rightful path. It had taken time to alter the path just so. But some results were worth the extra effort.
The bedroom was full of steam from the adjoining shower. She had always liked only the hottest of showers. The sound of water stopped. A moment later she appeared. She hadn’t fully toweled over and the silk robe clung like a second skin. She raised an eyebrow at seeing him in her chambers. His eyes widened just at the sight of her.
“I expected you earlier.” She continued toweling her hair. Her raised arms gave her back a slight arch. He appreciated the effect this had on her contours. “The lab boys waited to call me in.” His shoulders squared. They were as broad as ever. “And you think you can stop us?” She closed the distance between them. “I always do.” He could smell the soap on her skin. “Then I suppose I should surrender.” The way she pressed against him made him inhale. Her green eyes looked into his grey ones. “Maybe we both should.”
Dealing with Madam Shade had slowed him down. He could never leave her without thinking “If only.”
From her nightstand he had taken her signal watch. One of the functions tracked the movements of all S.H.A.D.E. agents. This let him plot the best course and easily deal with agents between him and Skull. He also took her bracelet. As usual S.H.A.D.E.’s paranoia was its undoing.
A throne room. He tried not to laugh. Skull, supreme commander of S.H.A.D.E., had built an actual throne room to be his command center. Twenty S.H.A.D.E. agents were busy at various consoles while Skull kept vigil. Even without the throne Skull would have been instantly recognized. It is hard to be discrete when your head is entombed in a chrome metal skull. Skull and his agents were engrossed in the gigantic view screen on the far wall. The timer on the screen ticked away the moments remaining.
“You really should pay more attention,” he called out drawing Skull’s focus. “It seems anyone can just waltz right in.”
“You!” The entire room could hear the loathing in Skull’s voice. “Only you would have the gall to arrive at the moment of my ultimate triumph. Not even you can stop me in the time before the weapon is operational.” The countdown went from triple to double digits. The agents at their consoles looked nervously between their supreme commander and the intruder.
“That’s why I brought you a little present.” The intruder help up the bracelet. It was very simple. Perfectly round beads connected by a simple chain. He gave it a little shake and the flipped the catch. The beads spilled to the ground and scattered. The sound of their rolling echoed around the room.
“Thirty seconds until activation,” a computerized voice announced.
“Did I mention those were from your wife?” asked the intruder.
“Kill him!” Skull roared. As one the agents rose and began drawing their weapons.
The intruder thumbed the bracelet catch and finding the small button, pressed it. A signal transmitted the beads activating the magnetic components inside them. From around the room the fly through the air, emitting a small ping when the attached to their target.
The agents stared at their supreme commander and the many beads stuck to his metal face. The intruder released the button activating the second signal. The beads let loose their electric charge. Skull toppled to the floor. As one the agents turned their gaze to the intruder. In each hand he held a high tech pistol.
“I’d lay down if I were you.” They did. He walked over to the throne and pushed a single button. “Activation aborted,” announced the computerized voice.
“How is my husband?” Even the orange lockup jumpsuit could not lessen Madame Shade’s appeal.
“He’ll be fine. The medical boys are taking good care of him.”
The stared at each other for a long time.
“Would it ever work between us?” she asked.
“That depends. Could you stop being Madam Shade?”
“That depends. Could you stop being Dexter Doomsday?”
On the wall, a clock ticked away the seconds.