Across town, a day, the first day without the Orange Overlord, had passed. The mood was cautious. People were suspicious.
“Man, I don’t get it.” Lucius said to Maxwell as they both sat on the step to the row house. “I mean, how do the cops have the Overlord? The Overlord Owns the cops.”
“Not without his power suit, he don’t” Max said, taking a pull off the bottle.
“Maybe, but that’s not what the law says. Don’t you read the papers? They settled with his ass, what was it, five years ago? More? That shit didn’t say anything about a power suit.”
Max handed another bottle to Lucius. “Didn’t say anything about that potato looking bastard they got at the station house either. It’s an agreement with the Orange Overlord – in quotes.”
“Oh, so now you’re a lawyer or something?”
“I read the papers. Actually, I read that shit on my phone.”
“The internet man,” Lucius opened the beer and took a swig. “Shit’l rot your mind.”
“So, what do you think should happen? We been paying the tax man. Tax man gives that shit to the big O.”
“Man, I don’t know. All I know is I want my money back from that if he’s really in the joint, man. My baby girl needs that money, not the city, not the state and not some washed up potato-looking jackass.”
“You thinking of doing something young blood?”
Lucius looked off across the street at the amber color of the streetlamp. “I just might be thinking.” He took a long draw off the bottle. “Yeah. I just might.”
“Are you telling me that the cops surrendered?” Having taken a shower, Rog now walked around the rather spacious living accommodations Donnie had given him. The track suit looked ridiculous, but it was clean.
Donnie shook his head then winced at the pain. Holding his face in his hands he said, “It happened six years ago. How is it you are just finding out about this?”
Rog found an apple in the kitchenette and a knife. He tossed the apple up in the air and caught it on the tip of the knife with a smile. “Ah, well you see, me and the past don’t get along so well. When they checked me out of the Marines they said I had too many concussions, but I don’t think I ever cared about yesterday if it didn’t bother me.”
“But it’s the Orange Overlord. The supreme ruler of the quad city and the buffer. The Orange Accords? ring a bell?”
“Nah. I think that all happened about the time I was coming back into civilian life. Not much of that registered. There’s about a year and a half that all I remember was taking Molly every week. Guess it helped, but … Anyway, fill me in.”
Donnie rolled his eyes. “All right. Hey, can you get me a water? Top shelf – fridge.”
“We’re giving you this apartment for free and stocking the fridge.”
“Yeah, I know. Just wanted to see what you’d do.” He opened the fridge. “Hey! Beer!”
“Yeah, go easy for right now. Red’s probably going to call us in sooner than later.”
“And she can say Hi to my buzz.” Rog handed him the water bottle. “So, again, what do you mean they surrendered?”
“Well, the Orange Overlord came in about ten years ago. He started big, by killing Captain Courageous.”
“Wasn’t he a fake hero guy, like for the kids?”
“No, but he was a one trick pony. Slightly more powerful than a normal man, bullet proof, had a club and was really fast. He mostly did public appearances, though, you’re right. One day, the Big O just squished him in his force field. No job, no speech, no nothing. Just killed the guy.
“Of course, there was an uproar. Captain Courageous was the hero to a lot of kids in the city and it was like the orange overlord had just outed Santa as an elf pedo.”
Rog smirked at the joke and sat down at the table. He took a sip of his beer as Donnie continued.
“It went on like that for a while. The Overlord did senseless crimes. Always violent. The Psychics got feedback damage if they tried to touch him that way and his forcefield took care of most things at a distance. The armor protected him against anything that got close.”
Donnie leaned back and flipped his hands in resignation. “Finally, the city had enough. And it wasn’t like there were any more heroes to fight him. He either hurt them or ignored them, though courageous was the only one he outright killed. Lots of property damage, though. Lots of people hurt. A few people died, but mostly from knock on effects from the super battles. The Big O mobilized non-powered criminals to hold ground – used gangs against each other to expand his reach. Any time the cops tried to shut down his guys, he’d show up and smash up the cop cars and lift their guns right out of their holsters. Anyway, the city had enough. They negotiated a settlement. The Orange Accords. Where the Orange Overlord would get a stipend, be able to keep territory and even serve as law enforcement, flipping the gang idea on its head. In exchange, the municipality would be able to continue. Property rights were preserved, businesses could function, and things would go on as normal. Strictly speaking, even the things that were illegal were still illegal, it’s just that the Overlord could selectively enforce – and of course, get a cut.”
Rog pointed at Donnie with the hand holding the beer. “And that right there don’t make no sense.”
“What do you mean?”
“If this orange overlord is actually the guy that owns Flanderal, what the hell does he need the chump change from Drug dens and whore houses? Seems kinda … smalltime.”
Donnie nodded. “You aren’t seeing the whole picture. Flanderal is a manufacturing and technology company. We make phones and weapons. That’s actually where I came from. I’m one of Ted’s top product men. One day I got whisked off here and I’ve been here ever since.”
“Didn’t nobody notice you gone?”
Donnie rolled his eyes. “Look at me. You think girls were lining up to date me? After my Mom died, work was all I had. Erasing me from existence was trivial for Red. She’s really good at that kind of thing.”
“Yeah, and I bet she could suck a golf ball through a garden hose with those pulled in cheeks and Jagger lips.”
“I, uh… I wouldn’t talk to Red like that.”
“Well no shit. She’s a dame. You don’t talk to dames like that.”
“That’s not it. She’s the Orange overlord’s right hand. Beyond Ted there was no one else who existed in both Flanderal and in the Orange Overlord realm as much as Red. She’s no joke and will disappear you forever.”
“So, not worth the chance of a blow job, eh?”
Donnie smirked. “I warn you and you are an adult.”
The conversation hit a lull and they both drank from their bottles.
“So, what happens now?”
“Now?” Donnie said, getting up. “Now I’m going back to my apartment – just up the hall – I’m going to eat a lasagna, take some of the doctor’s miracle ‘don’t have a stroke’ pills and go to sleep unless Red pulls us all in for a late night.”
“Yeah. It’s Doctor Lorenzo, the mad scientist? Remember him?”
“You know, I think that’s where the VA got the idea for all the Molly I took. You got him on staff?”
“Yeah. The Orange Overlord took a few hits in his rise to power. He captured Lorenzo from the Matrix Masters and put him to work here fixing his body. You’ll catch up with him eventually.”
“Yeah ok. So, this is like evil genius summer camp or something? Everybody got a room?”
“Yep. And it’s more like a hotel. The only reason we’re all here is because the shit has it the fan. I had them leave you some food, by the way. Pulled pork. Hope you aren’t Muslim.”
“Nah, ain’t got time for that God stuff.”
“Because you are clearly a man of pursuits.”
Rog leaned back in his chair. “I peruse cold beer, hot women and sticky buds. The occasional pulled pork kinda slides right in there, though, thanks.”
“You’re welcome. If we live so long, we can work up some buds too.”
“Yeah,” he said pulling the door open. “Who do you think distributes the shit? The Orange Overlord literally employs every drug dealer and gang banger in the Quad cities.”
“Well that is a hookup! But what happens now that he’s out of the picture?”
“I have a feeling Red will address that tomorrow. Get some sleep.”
In Barkley, the smallest of the quad cities, young men gathered to discuss business.
“Gentlemen,” The one in front said, “I believe it is time to consider the current situation.”
Across the table another man, nowhere near as well dressed spoke up. “What do you have going on Trevor?”
“Nothing short of a war. You boys ready to go to war?”
They all looked at each other. “Not really. Who do we have a beef with? We’ve kept our territory. The Makos are running the girls. We’re running the protection. The Snakes are running the drugs. It’s all good.”
“Yeah, but think. Why are the Snakes running the drugs? Why can’t we? Why can’t we run the girls, make the books, supply the knockoffs and the tax free smokes? Why aren’t we doing payday loans?”
Finally, from down the table someone said, “I see where you are going Trevor. The answer is because the Orange Overlord would kick our asses, but the Overlord ain’t here no more. That’s a good argument, but it still doesn’t mean we can just roll up on the Snakes or the Crimsons and take their shit.”
“Why not? Because, gentlemen, whether you think we should or not, one of those fuckers will get the bright idea of trampling on turf that isn’t theirs. They will trample, and it might be our turf they turn to first, or next.”
“So? The one thing we’ve got is muscle. They come at us, we kick some ass.”
“Unless,” Trevor smiled, raising a finger. “Unless we kick some ass first. Strike at the time of our choosing, rather than reacting. Gentlemen, it’s a whole new era here in the quad cities. If we want to keep our corner of it, we will have to vertically integrate, which means some suckers will either be getting on the train or getting run over by it.”
Trevor looked out at the dozen young men, their pasty faces frightened, then cowed and now congealing into determined and nasty. When the time ripened, he continued. “Ok, so here’s what we’re going to do.”
[Author’s note: Day 2 and things are already squirming out of the box. Lucius, Max, Trevor or any of the hangers on didn’t exist two hours ago, but they are here now! I think this bit went a little better than yesterday, but this might be kinda hard to keep up all month. We’ll see. I’m already seeing continuity screw ups I’ll have to spackle over later. Oh well. FIRST DRAFT!!!! W00t!
Hope you are enjoying the ride and if you are, votes on top web fiction, likes and follows are soothing to the soul. Hm. That got personal, didn’t it? Oh well, these words don’t count so stay weird and stay tuned.