Countdown, Part Two: Old Sources

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(July 12th)

Igor Spytensky walked glumly out of Patchwork City Hall, hands in his pockets. Another long day at work. Another day of reviewing data, putting in a few extra hours. Spending as much time as he dared following the progress of Rex Mundi's rule, while the rest of the city did their best to pretend it wasn't happening, and that everything was business as usual. Another day of pretending that the world mattered.

He considered his bank account. His severance package from Malefico had been quite decent, and he could probably take a year or two off. But what could he do? Send out resumes as a spy? Patchwork City was off-limits as far as any registered hero or villain was concerned. No one wanted to potentially upset Rex Mundi. Shaking his head, Igor walked over to his bicycle, helmet in hand.

A hand fell lightly on his shoulder. “Not now, Kyle.” Igor muttered. He'd been avoiding the closest thing he had to a friend, lately.

“Not Kyle, Spygor.”

Igor started to freeze, and the hand gently pushed him. “Keep walking, Igor. Let's grab a drink.” Amber Smith did not look like she had the last time that Igor had seen her. Her hair was cut extremely short and dyed blonde, and she was wearing a white skirt and t-shirt that was nothing like her usual subdued suits. But her voice… that was instantly recognizable. Igor swallowed, and kept walking.

“I think you've got the wrong guy.” He suggested quietly.

“I think I don't.” Amber gave him a reproving look. “Seriously, man, we've known you were Spygor since about 2005. Your disguise lasted all of four months. Hell, even Nina figured it out, and Nina never figures anything out.”

Igor swallowed. “Then… why didn't you come after me?” He asked plaintively.

“Wouldn't have helped.” Amber answered. “At least…” She trailed off. “We didn't figure it would have. Let's face it. Mayor Thompson is an idiot. I cannot imagine how he managed to get re-elected after letting Rex Mundi live here tax-free, but he should have been out on his ass years ago.”

“It was a close race, though.” Igor admitted. “Okay, fine, the mayor is dumb. So?”

“So he'd never run proper background checks. If we went after every spy that Ecchs planted here, we'd have been busy full-time. Every new employee would have been suspicious, everything would have ground to a halt. We decided to cut our losses, and do our best to make sure that you didn't take anything too important.” Amber made a face. “It was a little hit or miss. We made one mistake. In here.”

Igor went ahead of Amber, into the small bar on the corner of the street. He let her lead him to a corner booth. “Which was?”

“We assumed that you were as bad at spying as you were at hiding.” Sitting in the booth, Handyman smiled up at Igor. He was wearing a red baseball cap and a black windbreaker, covering most of his features. “Have a seat. You like cider?”

“Sure.” Igor sat down cautiously. Amber sat next to him, hemming him against the wall. “I'm not sure I understand what you mean, though.”

“Come on, Igor.” Amber rolled her eyes. “Spytensky? You actually thought that would be a good alias? Never mind that awful fake lisp you used.”

“But Spygor had a hump.” Igor said faintly.

“No, Spygor bent over and fluffed his shirt out in front. I saw one of those tapes.” Jhim said. “It was actually kind of insulting to people who actually had hunchbacks.” Seeing Igor's face continuing to crumple, he looked over at Amber worriedly and then hurried on. “But, we just assumed that since you couldn't hide worth a damn, you were equally bad at information-gathering. We were… really, really wrong.”

Amber nodded. “Really wrong.” She confirmed. “I've been talking to Nina. I hadn't realized just how many of the Doc's plots were based on your intel. You should have gone into analysis, not fieldwork.”

Igor looked up. “Really?” He said, then frowned. “You're just being nice.”

“Actually, we're buttering you up.” Jhim smiled wryly. “We're about to ask you something, and you're going to instinctively want to say no.”

Igor frowned at him, looked over to Amber, and back to him. “Go on…”

“We need you to analyse a list of data we're getting.” Amber said bluntly.

“What sort of data?”

“Malefico data.” Amber answered. When Igor blanched, she nodded grimly. “You get it.”

“You think… you think there's something there that can help you find Rex Mundi.” Igor's voice dropped to a whisper on the last two words.

“We're pretty sure there is. But it would take a hell of an analyst to find it. Someone who knows exactly what to look for, how to look for it, and where the Doc would hide it.” Amber glanced around the room for a moment, looking to see if anyone was paying undue attention to the trio, then back to Igor. “In short, we need you.”

Igor blinked, considering. “I can't be your only choice.” He said after a moment.

“No,” Jhim admitted. “But you're our best hope by far. You're the only analyst we have that's skilled enough to find the information, and knows Doctor Ecchs well enough to figure out what to look for. Anyone else will just be whistling in the dark.”

“I see.” Igor gulped. Reaching out, he took the bottle of cider sitting in front of him, and took a long drink from it. “This sounds very, very dangerous.” He said slowly.

“That's because it is very, very, dangerous.” Jhim answered. “If Ecchs figures out what you've done, he'll probably try to kill you.”

“I doubt he'd think of me.” Igor muttered, taking another swig of cider. He looked up in sudden confusion. “Who did think of me?”

“Nina, actually. She said you were the only way she could think of for our plan to work.” Amber said.

“Vice-President Nightshade said that… about me?” Igor beamed. He drained the cider in one long gulp, and set it down on the table. “I'll do it.” He said resolutely. “It'll save the world, it'll prove the Veep right about me… and it'll stick one to the bastard that used me as a spy for years, and then dropped me like an old rag. You can count on me.”

“Awesome.” Amber smiled, holding out her hand. “Welcome to the resistance, Spygor.”

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