Authors: C. T. Phipps
The Games of Supervillainy
C. T. Phipps
Copyright © 2015 by Charles T. Phipps
Amber Cove Publishing
PO Box 9605
Chesapeake, VA 23321
Cover design by Raffaele Marinetti
Visit his online gallery at
Cover lettering by Terry Stewart
Book design by Jim Bernheimer
All rights reserved.
This is a work of fiction. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the author. The only exception is by a reviewer, who may quote short excerpts in a review.
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First Publication: December 2015
Dedication and Acknowledgements
This novel is dedicated to my lovely wife, Kat, and the many other wonderful people who made this book possible. Special thanks to Jim, Shana, Rakie, Matthew, Sonja, Bobbie, Devan, Tim, Joe, Thom, and everyone else.
The response to
The Rules of Supervillainy
has been overwhelming and I'm very glad to have reached so many fans.
A lot of reapers asked me what sort of genre I write in and I say, I write in the
genre. Just as William Gibson used cyberpunk to talk about technology as a means of furthering the power of the establishment, I write in a world where superhuman abilities are threats to the status quo of the world. Or so I like to think. Mostly, I just tell bad jokes and write about characters I like.
Our supervillain protagonist, Gary Karkofsky a.k.a Merciless, likes to think of himself as inhabiting a world where conservative superheroes preserve the status quo while supervillains upend it. He's a very angry man, obsessed with changing things to be better and has a lot of misdirected energy. People have asked me if Gary is right and whether or not superheroes are inhibiting progress and social change. I'd argue my anti-hero is misreading the situation.
I think of superheroes as fundamentally anti-establishment, Comic Book Code or not. I can think of nothing more reactionary than trying to change the world for the better and dreaming of a better one. It falls to the hardliners amongst us who believe the current world is the best we can achieve. Supervillains may want to change things but they are harbingers of the oldest status quo of all: tyranny over overs with no regard to their feelings or desires.
Last book, Gary came face-to-face with how badly he misread the world's heroes by facing individuals willing to work against the world's rules for the greater good and just how horrible supervillains could truly be. For a man who romanticized his supervillain brother as a Robin Hood in a world of caped Sheriffs, it was a bitter pill.
We pick up in
The Games of Supervillainy
with him being teleported to Falconcrest City a month after
The Rules of Supervillainy
, time and space bent to give him a look at what his hometown looks like without heroes. Well, at least, very few. Fans of the zombie genre may be pleased with the fact it is a city overrun with the living dead while others may think I'm going slightly off-genre. I could think of no better metaphor for a people stripped of agency and forced to go through the motions of life by a ruthless power above them. Also, intelligent zombie supervillains are cool.
My (anti)hero is a product of a lot of supervillains and heroes thrown together. He's Spiderman, Batman, Jimmy Olsen, the Wrath, Anarky, Kyle Rayner, and the Hood all thrown together. A figure whom has been given that dual-gut punch of tragedy and unexpected power in the same breath as so many other heroes and villains. I find he's a character who walks a path of unexpected twists and turns, unwilling to admit he's wrong when he should yet capable of great good when he's sworn it off.
I hope you'll enjoy the next installment of his adventures as much as I've enjoyed writing it.
I am Merciless.
Gary Karkofsky a.k.a The Supervillain without Mercy.
He of the redundant codename.
I haven't been a supervillain long, the better part of a month from the perspective of the world and less than a week from mine due to a teleporter accident from the moon (don’t you just love this world?). I was presently surrounded by at least three hundred or more zombies. We were in the middle of the city's suburbs a few blocks away from my house. There were about a hundred or so burned beyond recognition members of their species already at my feet.
The zombies, themselves, were in various states of decay with many of them showing signs they'd been dead far longer than the month I'd been absent from the city due to the aforementioned teleporter accident. They were mostly wearing formal attire like suits or Sabbath dresses which were probably the outfits they'd been buried in.
The smell was horrifying, with a distinct odor of formaldehyde in the air. Which. to me, said these guys were less likely my former neighbors than the poor bastards the citizens had been burying for the past decade.
And they kept coming, no matter how many I incinerated.
“I don't think they're getting the message,” I said, creating a flaming circle around myself which was so hot any of the undead who charged forward not only caught fire but burning to ashes when they tried to cross.
Zombies are an abomination caught between life and death. They hate their current existence and seek to destroy those who do not suffer from it or some means of ending their torment. They may be coming after you as much because you're capable of killing them than in fear of avoiding death
,” a reverberating Christopher Lee-esque voice said in my head.
It was Cloak, the ghost of the late superhero Lancelot Warren a.k.a. The Nightwalker. Due to, I kid you not, a shipping error, I'd gotten his magical hooded cloak and costume rather than my infinitely-more-deserving wife Mandy. It was the reason I could levitate, shoot fire from my hands, create ice, talk to the dead, and take all the punches which left most people permanently injured.
“Great,” I muttered. “Just what I need, the Walking Dead wanting to usher off their mortal coil.”
It is what the Reaper's Cloak was designed to do
,” Cloak said, reminding me my powers weren't there to satisfy my ego.
What a crock.
“Death to the living!” one of the zombies let forth a hideous groan.
“Death to the living!” all of them still capable of speech let forth similar monstrous wails. “All glory to the coming darkness!”
“Praise Sylvanas, yeah, yeah,” I muttered, levitating upward about ten feet. I could have just floated over these guys but they made the mistake of pissing me off. Summoning forth the ambient necromantic energy in the air, and there was a lot of it, I drew it into myself and then unleashed it in a massive tidal wave of fire which spread over the surrounding crowd in a perfect circle. It left nothing but ashes and melted asphalt across the street and two lawns. There were a couple of straggles left but making finger guns with my hands, I caused them to explode one-by-one.
“Pew! Pew!” I said, watching them go down.
Gary, this isn't the time for jokes
,” Cloak muttered. “
We need to find out what's happened to the city
“It's always time for jokes,” I said, cheerfully. “Sometimes you need to laugh instead of cry.”
Really, I was less upset about the fact someone had overrun my neighborhood with soulless monsters aping life than the fact I'd lost a month out of my life. From my perspective, I'd been on the Society of Superheroes' moon base less than an hour ago. The goody-two-shoes superhumans of the world had locked me up in the Archvillain Wing on trumped up charges only for me to escape during a riot engineered by evil genius Tom Terror.
If I was being honest, and I rarely was, I'd only gotten away because I'd made sure Tom and the absolute worst of the prisoners hadn't gotten away. Honor amongst thieves? Sure. Honor amongst mass-murdering psychos, terrorists, and world-destroying monsters? Not a chance.
We will find your wife
,” Cloak said, sounding surprisingly sympathetic. “
Mandy is a resourceful woman
“More resourceful than me,” I said, not afraid to say my wife was a better person than me in every conceivable way. I had a tendency to fall in love with women who were way too good for me. “Okay, let's find a zombie we haven't killed.”
“Because these guys are more like Deadites than Romero shamblers. If they can shout slogans, it's possible they can hold a coherent conversation.”
That's a dubious assumption
I wasn't so sure. Earlier today, or a month ago depending on your perspective, I'd gotten caught after fighting the resurrected corpse of serial-killer/bank robber the Ice Cream Man. He'd been the second man I'd ever killed and the first I'd done in as a supervillain. The fact he'd come back for some payback as well as to continue his criminal career said to me someone wanted smart zombies.
Albeit, he seemed smarter than most.
Zombie intelligence varies by level of decay before animation as well as the evil of the spirit within
,” Cloak replied.
“What do you mean?”
The souls of the truly damned tend to stick with their bodies as opposed to go on to a proper afterlife. Hence, the Ice Cream Man and other dead supervillains are likely to come back with their minds intact versus these poor wretches
“That's...horrible,” I said, disgusted. “Who designed that system?”
God, I assume, or one of them
Cloak had been a polytheist sorcerer in life.
I was Jewish.
Albeit, extremely unorthodox.
I didn't have to wait long before I got my answer. A throaty rasp shouted in the air from nearby. “Merciless! The Great Beast Zul-Barbas demands your death! I'm more than happy to give it to him!”
,” Cloak explained. “
One of the seven Great Beasts. They are the eldritch gods which were left over from the Pre-Creation Darkness when the Primals made the universe
“Uh-huh,” I said. “I must have missed that part in Genesis.”
I turned around to see what sort of whacked out zombie, weirdo cultist, or some combination of the two was coming toward me. Much to my surprise, I saw a large flannel-wearing man with a black beard, furry hat, and blue jeans hacking away at a horde of colorful-costumed undead with a glowing silver ax. He had a vague resemblance to the guy on the paper towels and it took me a second to realize who he was.
Cloak explained, sounding way-way too enthusiastic. “
The Fearless Friend of the Forests! The Rural Renegade! Commander of Canada's Clearest Climate Commandoes!”
“Please tell me that last one isn't a real thing,”
I said, appalled.
“They're an ecology themed group,”
Cloak said. “
Nice bunch if a bit a preachy.”
“Are you part of his fan-club or something?”
“He's one of the oldest continuously active heroes around, Gary. I admit to having a fondness for the fellow. He's just so...sunny.”
I knew who the Backwoodsman was. Ironically, I knew him for his association with various Pro-Supers groups like the Tomorrow Society, the Genetix, and the Transhumans. One of the increasingly common “born” supers, he'd hit the proverbial superpowered lottery with immortality, super-strength, and invulnerability. In the Eighties, a group of renegade scientists working for P.H.A.N.T.O.M. had tried to extract his powers and ended up grafting a cybernetic ax into his arm. It appeared whenever he wanted it to and disappeared otherwise.
I didn't think he needed my help.
That was right before one of the zombies; a fresh-looking thing dressed in a pink dress with a double M on the chest area, hit him across the face and sent him flying thirty yards back in the air. I had to turn insubstantial to avoid getting hit with his three-hundred-pounds-of-muscle frame.
“Okay,” I said, looking between the two figures. “That was unexpected.”
“The pink one is Mary Martian,”
Cloak said, sounding horrified. “
A superheroine from the Sixties who retired here in Falconcrest.”
The pink-wearing zombie hissed at us, half of its jaw hanging down and then charged along with the ones beside her. They were all dressed like superheroes but ones I didn't recognize, which was a fairly rare occurrence.
Cloak, obviously, did recognize them. “
The Heroes of Today. All murdered. The Brotherhood of Infamy will pay for this.”
The Brotherhood's the generic doomsday cult you used to hang with before you became a superhero, right? The one that built this city to be a giant summoning circle for evil?”
I remembered the Heroes of Today now that Cloak mentioned them. They'd been Fifties to Sixties Falconcrest City do-gooders without much in the way of powers. Mary Martian had been the exception, possessing the standard “flying brick” power set from her Venusian heritage. She wasn't flying right now, though, and I wondered if she'd forgotten she could with all the brain rot having set in. Smart zombies tended to be assholes in real life, something about the evil magic preserving only the very wicked. Either way, it didn't matter much because I set the entirety of the group on fire with my mind.
The zombies hissed and screamed as the group stopped in its tracks and began a brilliant bonfire. The Reaper's Cloaks were designed to aid the wearers in serving as psychopomps for the souls of the restless dead. As such, the magic seemed particularly effective against the various tin-hat, colored jumpsuit, and long cape crowd ahead of me. They'd been heroes in life so watching them go up like dried paper was oddly comforting. They no longer would have their bodies defiled to harm the innocent.
“Requiescat in pace,” I said, seeing only one single corpse remain in the glowing orange and yellow flames.
“Hiss!” Mary Martian said, turning to growl at me.
“Ah crap,” I said, watching the now-flaming superpowered monster crouch down and fly at me with the speed of a car.
So much for that theory.
I tried to shift to insubstantiality but realized I wasn't going to be able to do it in time. As such, I was hit square in the chest and sent spiraling on the ground. If not for the Reaper's Cloak giving me very-very limited invulnerability, I would have had my organs liquefied. Instead, I just felt like I'd had the crap kicked out of me. Mary Martian then grabbed me by the front of my costume, the flames on her wrist licking my neck before pulling back her fist to smash my face in.
That was when an ax buried itself in her head.
The superheroine fell to her knees then over.
“Rest in peace, indeed, eh?” The Backwoodsman said, standing above me. “Oh, hey, Merciless. Whatcha doing here?”
The Backwoodsman was a stunningly handsome example of masculinity in that slightly-outdated way with muscles, a hairy chest visible from his slightly unbuttoned shirt, and the broad smile on his face.
“Uh, hey?” I said, shaking my head and climbing to my feet. I was still a bit winded from Mary Martian's attack. “You know who I am?”
“Oh yeah,” the Backwoodsman said. “I was there when you escaped from the Society of Superheroes' prison on the moon. I heard about all those lives you saved during the riot.”
I grimaced. That was going to kill my rep. “Yeah, well, I only just got back. Do you mind filling me in on some details as to what the hell has been going on?”
The Backwoodsman checked his watch. “Okay-dokey. Just know I can't spare too much time. There's a lot zombies out and aboot.”
I stared at him. “Canada is literally just across Falconcrest Lake. Half our population is Canadian. They do not talk like that.”
The Backwoodsman dropped the accent and spoke with a deeper more gravelly accent. “Eh, I just do it to fuck with people. Be glad I hadn't gotten to randomly inserting maple syrup and hockey into the conversation. How can I help?”
I had plenty of questions, most of which the Backwoodsman probably couldn't answer. How was my wife? How were my henchmen, Cindy and Diabloman? How was my family which lived in the city? How were, ugh, my in-laws? Instead, I just settled on asking a very simple question. “How the hell did the city start to look like a
“Wow, you have been gone awhile.” The Backwoodsman looked over to the Falconcrest City skyline visible from our current position in the suburbs. “It started a couple of days before the big moon breakout. Supervillains killed in the fight to see who would own the city after the Nightwalker's death started rising from the grave and taking revenge on those that killed them. Then those supervillains started rising from the grave. It became more than the police could handle.”