Thursday, 17 July 2008


"They call him the Kalahari Kalamari," said Dr. Septopus, reading from the sheet of paper held in three of his seven limbs. "Also known as the Desert Squid and ugh! Yukky tentacles!"

"Really?" said Silvestra, running a hand through her hair. She had long white hair with a black stripe running down the back that she worried made her look like a rare kind of badger. "I thought people only gave nice names to the good guys?"

"Well," said Dr. Septopus, shaking his piece of paper in what he thought was a bureaucratic manner, "it would seem that he's something of a populist superhero."

"I think you mean popular superhero," said the Green Lightbulb. He was sat diametrically opposite Silvestra at the round table the three of them had gathered at, and glared at her whenever he thought she wasn't looking.

"No-o-o," said Dr. Septopus frowning at the paper, but refusing to pull his bifocals off his unusually large forehead and use them. "Definitely populist. It seems that he only shows up to crimes and villainy where he's sure of good media coverage. Out of 171 bank robberies in his part of India last month, he showed up to 9, and left one without doing anything because the audience had fewer than three people."

"Hmm," said Silvestra, who was well aware of the Green Lightbulb's distaste for her, and was quietly lengthening her legs under the table to be able to stamp on his webbed feet with her stiletto heels, "that would explain the soubriquets then."

"I think you mean soap-suds," said the Green Lantern pedantically, causing Dr. Septopus to raise his eyebrows so sharply his bifocals fell off his forehead and landed on his beak-like nose.

"Did we get you that subscription to the OED last Christmas?" said Dr. Septopus as casually as he could. "Only I think we thought you might enjoy it."

An embarrassed silence should have followed, but Silvestra stamped down on the Green Lightbulb's foot causing him to shriek like a leaking gasworks and turn a deeper shade of green.

"Anyway," said Dr. Septopus pretending none of this was happening, "he's rather venal for a superhero, definitely vain, and should be easy to vanquish. The three V's. This will be something of a publicity coup for us as well; the public always sees the good guys beating us, so it'll be nice to reverse that for a change. It's time the bad guys got the glory!"

"How do we do this then?" said Silvestra, trying (and failing) not to smirk at the Green Lightbulb. "I know we can set up a photogenic crime, that's utterly trivial. Then what do we do?"

"Well," said Dr. Septopus, "I'm torn between discrediting him as a superhero, and going all out to kill him. I'm a bit wary of killing him though, in case we get another Betty Botox on our hands."

"She's not dead!" said the Green Lightbulb in a slightly strangled voice. "She's just pregnant. You can't have a pregnant superhero -- what if they gave birth in the middle of the action? Audiences are all for blood and gore, but not when it's part of childbirth. You'll be PG-rated before you know it."

"Let's leave Betty out of this, and focus on the Kalahari Kalamari, shall we?" said Dr. Septopus before Silvestra could explode into another rant about the inequality suffered by female super-heros and -villains. "I think we should be able to discredit him easily enough by making sure we get away with the crime. And we know that we're cleverer than some Desert Squid."

"You'll want me to be the glamorous side-kick again, won't you?" said Silvestra in sepulchral tones. "You always want me to be the side-kick. I'm a talented villainess in my own right you know. I have a laboratory in Manhattan that's making brain-washing fashion accessories and my own army of zombie Avon-ladies, and all you want from me is big shoulder pads, big breasts, and a pout that'll hit the 6 o'clock headlines."

"We don't have a lot of people with your looks and charm..." started Dr. Septopus waving all seven limbs agitatedly and clacking his beak-like nose.

"The Green Lightbulb's pretty passable in drag," said Silvestra nastily. "I nearly didn't recognise him in Madame Jo-Jo's revue."

"I was undercover!" screamed the Green Lightbulb and leapt up from the table. He starting emitting bright flashes of green light and pointed angrily at Silvestra, who promptly folded the shadows around her and caused the temperature in the room to drop by 25 degrees Kelvin.

Dr. Septopus sighed and slithered under the table out of the way, and added a note to the minutes that yet another meeting of the Council of Nastiness had ended inconclusively. Then he settled down to wait for the survivors to sit back down.

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