With our covers set, Hudson went into Dis Guy’s Inc. on his cue and I waited for mine to follow him in.
“The name’s Hammer, Rod Hammer,” he leered at the lone woman in the shop (obviously Mystique in her own disguise). “I’m looking for a hot chick.”
“Try Los Angeles,” she shot back. “I’m sure there are plenty of hot chicks there.”
“Naw baby,” Hudson continued to leer. “I’m looking for a hot chick who can look like a different hot chick. Catch my drift?”
“So you’re looking for a costume for a woman or something?” she asked. “Or a woman’s costume for you?”
“No, I don’t want a woman’s costume,” Hudson rolled his eyes. “I want to hire a woman to wear a costume.”
“Keep your creepy fantasies to yourself, pal,” she answered. “I run a legitimate operation here.”
“No no no,” he waved his hands. “I want to hire a woman to go undercover.”
“Yeah, my name’s Hammer, Rod Hammer. I’m a total dick. No wait, I mean I’m a private dick.”
“I think you got it right the first time,” she quipped back.
“I’m looking for a woman to go undercover for me,” he repeated while completely ignoring her comment. “A totally hot chick. A totally hot blue chick.”
“A hot blue chick?” Mystique in disguise asked. “Maybe you should check out Cirque du Soleil. I think they’re playing in Vegas.”
“No no no, wait,” he waved his hands again. “I’m looking for a certain particular master of disguise who also happens to be a hot blue chick. Catch my drift?”
I was starting to lose my patience with Hudson’s buffoonery when Professor Xavier sent me a mental cue to go in. I hitched up my pants and stepped through the door.
“Excuse me one moment, sir,” Mystique held up her finger to me. “I’ll help you right after I—hey, aren’t you Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator? I didn’t know you wore glasses.”
I growled to myself mentally and took off my disguise. “I don’t. How’d you know it was me?”
“Well I recognize you from your campaign commercials,” she replied. “Plus there are those pictures of you all over the Internet with that one woman. What was her name? Emma something.”
“It was Emma Frost,” I growled at her. “Except it wasn’t her, it was you. And we’ve never been together. Not that night when the photos were taken, not any night.”
Jon, calm down, Xavier’s voice buzzed in my head. She’s a master of trickery and deceit and easily saw through your disguise. Do something quickly!
Don’t worry, I thought back to Xavier. I’m moving on to Plan B.
Plan B? What’s Plan B?
I’m not sure, I replied in my mind to his. I’m making it up as I go along.
“Very well, I admit it was me,” she smiled at me like a cobra smiles at its trapped prey. “But, that was a pretty magical night between us. I don’t normally feel that way about my missions, but there was something special about what we had, like we’re kindred spirits or something. If you want another, maybe we can work something out.”
“I’m telling you, that wasn’t me,” I growled again. “I want to know who hired you right now.”
“Or you’ll what?” Mystique dropped her disguise and assumed a fighting stance. “I was hoping our next meeting would be a little more like our last one. Too bad.”
“Arrgh! That wasn’t me!” I yelled as I fired the sonic disrupter at her and she crumpled to the floor from the blast. “Now tell me who hired you!”
“I… I don’t know,” she managed to gasp while sprawled across the hardwood. “I really thought it was you…”
Jon, she really doesn’t know, the Professor telepathically said to me. With her guard down like this, I can clearly read the truth from her mind.
“Then who was it?” I threw my hands up in the air. My frustration was interrupted by a laugh. A laugh that became more tinny as well as gained an echo effect as it grew. A laugh coming from Hudson. “Hudson?”
“Ha ha ha!” The marine peeled a rubber mask off, revealing a different face underneath. The face of Zartan, Master of Disguise! “You have fallen for my plan all along, foolish Joes!”
“Joes?” I asked. “My name’s Jon.”
“Oh sorry, force of habit,” he shrugged. He then pulled an ominous looking pistol out and aimed it square at my chest. “Now if you’ll be so kind as to drop your wrist weapon to the ground and put your hands up.”
Professor, I thought quickly as my Wristcomm clattered to the floor. How could you not tell that he wasn’t Hudson?
This Zartan had Hudson’s speech and mannerisms down absolutely perfectly, the telepath replied. He’s good enough to fool anyone.
Yeah, but why couldn’t you tell it was him from a mental scan?
Jon, the less time I spend in that man’s brain, the more I like it, the telepath replied. Quick! If you’re lucky, he may start rambling about his plan and give you enough time to attack!
“Wait a minute,” I said trying to stall. “So the me in that picture was really you!”
“Of course,” he bowed slightly. “It was easy, all I needed was a little bluster and some lame action hero lines!”
“Hey come on, that hurts,” I replied. “So where’s the real Hudson?”
“Oh, I knocked him out back at your last presidential debate,” he answered with a smug grin. “I took his clothes, tied him up, and threw him in a janitor’s closet.”
“So he’s tied up, in his underwear, and thrown in a locked closet?” I asked. “You know, usually he pays good money for treatment like that.”
“Ha ha ha, no matter,” he laughed. “With you out of the way, I’ll take your place and become the next president of the United States!”
“That’ll never work!” I growled back. “The people of America will never elect an evil president!”
“Oh but they will, and they’ll reelect me in four years as well!” he laughed as he pulled out some sort of remote control. “But first, I have one more loose end to take care of.”
“You’re not going to make me watch reruns of Two and a Half Men are you?” I asked. “You’re more evil than I thought!”
“No, this is for your friend the Professor,” he laughed. “I have a little surprise for him, one that I’m sure he’ll get quite a jolt out of!”
“Jolt? Like that Jolt Cola?” I asked. “Do they still make that stuff?”
“A jolt as in a charge. He’ll get a charge out of this, ha ha!”
“Get a charge?” I asked. “Like a credit card? Are you going to run up his credit bill?”
“No, something more electrifying than that!”
“Electrifying? Like a really exciting movie or something?”
“Argh! No you fool!” Zartan threw his arms up. “I booby trapped his wheelchair, when I press this button, 10,000 volts of electricity to fry that pompous jerk’s body until he’s little more than a pile of ash and a memory.”
“Wait,” I tried to stall him more. “Don’t do it!”
“Too late, Joes! Er, I mean Jon!” Zartan’s thumb meshed down the red button on the remote.