Vera booked a flight to Eleuthera. There weren't very many, seeing as Eleuthera's airport consisted of a shack and a stretch of road that nobody used very much. As such, Vera was riding on a supply plane, sandwiched between a crate full of melons and a crate full of magazines.
She was thinking about her relationship with Phoenix. She had started dating him knowing that he was a murderer bent on world domination. Did it really make sense for her to dump him because of some well-intentioned violation of her privacy? Did it make sense to date him at all, given that he was a supervillain? Vera didn't know.
"We'll be landing in five," the pilot said.
Vera didn't have a window, but she knew what Eleuthera looked like. It looked like a tropical paradise suffering an alien invasion. New buildings springing up, designed by someone who couldn't possibly have learned architecture on Earth. Weird spire and domes and the like. Maybe Mephistopheles was an alien? Or a fan of postmodern architecture?
The plane touched the ground.
Vera's first step would be to interview some of the few remaining locals. She had walked halfway to the village when she was accosted by several men in yellow jumpsuits.
She recognized them. The Syndicate, a criminal organization frequently in conflict with the Dark Detective. One of the men, presumably the leader, pulled out a submachine gun. "State your business here."
"I'm an anthropologist, here to study the natives of the island."
"Then why do you look familiar?
Damn! This whole 'being famous' thing was really getting in the way of her work. "I was featured in Anthropology Monthly."
"No, that's not it."
"And Time Magazine."
"Oh, I know you! Vera Rapport! That journalist-spy person." He pointed his gun at her. "You're going to have to come with me."
Vera considered her options. Phoenix' meddling had made her bullet-proof, but could she really take out five men armed with semiautomatic weapons? Probably not. That meant she needed to go with the Syndicate agents.
They led her onto a bright yellow truck, and drove her into a bright yellow building. Yellow was clearly the Syndicate's favorite color. Vera was brought into a non-yellow room and tied to a non-yellow chair.
At this point, the leader of the Syndicate revealed himself. "Hello, Vera," he said, as he swaggered into the room. "My name is Number One, and I'll be interrogating you."
One of his assistants attached electrodes to Vera's arms. Wait, hadn't Phoenix filled Vera with metal wires? Would that make the shocks better or worse? Vera wished she'd paid more attention to Phoenix's science lectures.
"Now, for my first question. Why are you here."
The shocks might actually kill her. Vera didn't want that. Should she answer? She decided not to. She wasn't going to give in at the first sign of torture. She kept her mouth shut.
Number One sent a jolt of electricity through Vera's body. It hurt, but it wasn't as bad as she expected. "I'll ask you again. Why are you here?"
Vera said nothing. Another zap. She needed something to distract her from the pain. Maybe humor? She was being tortured by a guy named Number One in a bright yellow jumpsuit. Pee jokes seemed like a promising road to take.
"I'll ask one more time. Why are you here?"
No answer. Another shock. What else did Number One have in common with a pot full of pee? Neither one was qualified to lead a criminal organization. Neither one was a skilled interrogator. They both kind of smelled.
"This is the last time I'm going to ask. Why are you here?"
No answer. Zap.
Number One launched into a monologue. "Do you want to know how I came to be head of the Syndicate? I wasn't always the powerful crime lord you see today. I actually started my career cleaning urinals."
"But I was always ready for an opportunity. I joined the ranks of the Syndicate at the bottom." He zapped her just as she was about to make a 'bottom' joke.
"Tell me why you're here!"
Fine. "I'm here to gain information."
Vera didn't reply.
As he set the voltage source up a notch, Number One continued his life story. "As I was saying, I began my career as a lowly peon." Pee-on. Ha. She barely cared that he was zapping her.
"I was often filled with frustration during the early days of my career. But I learned to hold it in." He shocker her. It hurt. But she was busy thinking about his 'hold it in' line.
"My path to power wasn't a smooth one. Adversity can strike even when you mind your p's and q's" Pees and q's. "But when life gives me lemons, I squeeze the lemons to make lemonade." She almost laughed out loud as he shocked her.
"Do not keep me waiting. I am a whiz at torture." Was he doing this on purpose? Who would use 'whiz' in that context?
"You think I'm holding back because of my guards. That I won't unleash me inner dragon with them around. Fine." He addressed his men. "Five minutes break. Go drink a beer or something." When you drink beer you have to pee.
They were alone. Vera flexed to see if she could break her restraints. "My anger is golden river flowing throw my bowels." He must be doing it on purpose. Nobody would use a metaphor like that in normal conversation. She grinned at the awkwardly worded statement.
"Why are you laughing? I'm starting to get pissed off."
Vera broke her restraints. With Phoenix's robotic implants, it was easy to beat up Number One. "What do you want," he asked, fear starting to show.
"I'm asking the questions now. Where is Mephistopheles?"
"I won't answer that. I can hold my water."
She twisted his arm. She didn't want to hurt him, but he had just been torturing her. "I can call my men. They'll stream in." He had a point. She knocked him out. Just as she left, she noticed that the criminal mastermind had wet his pants.