In Interviewing Trey #1-12…
Some years before, Todd Chapman had been a music journalist for Amplifier magazine. He was given the opportunity to interview a third tier, C-list supervillain named Leather — an interview which went over the course of a week and served as a crash course in the economics of making a living at super villainy, crime, heroes, and many things like that. He was also beaten pretty severely at one point and put in a collar he was told had a bomb in it (it didn’t.)
The resulting article, “Interviewing Leather,” became something of a sensation — and between that higher profile and some cash Leather gave him to replace the car of his she’d destroyed, he’d gone across the country interviewing more lower tier villains. This became a book — Low Society — which spent some time on the bestseller’s lists.
In the wake of his success, Chapman decided to focus on the very lowest of the fourth tier villains — the ones with little to no success — and was interviewing a villain called the Rook in Minnesota… when the interview was interrupted by the Jack O’Knaves — a first tier villain and stage magician who was known for being homicidally insane. The Jack — or Mister Oaknavés, as his staff typically called him — was offended that Chapman had never written about him. In the process of showing his displeasure, the Jack killed Rook, his two henches, and Deuce — one of the Jack’s own henches. After revealing that Cobalt Blue — the local hero and only other person who knew where Chapman was — had been killed, the Jack O’Knaves and his henches knocked Chapman out.
Those Henches — not counting the now-deceased Deuce — were: Catar, who wore a four of clubs stylized uniform and had parahuman strength; Nickel — wearing the five of diamonds and acting as the Jack’s chauffeur; and Trey, magician’s assistant wearing the three of hearts.
When Chapman woke up, he found himself in what looked like a hotel room. Mister River — the Jack’s butler, who wore the nine of diamonds — arrived, fed and cleaned Chapman up, and brought him to see the Jack. Chapman learned, in the process, that he was in a ‘reverse hotel,’ where every subsequent floor was another level deeper underground. The elevator serving that hotel moved horizontally as well as vertically, none too gently it seemed. And the whole complex made up the Jack O’Knave’s personal (and literal) underground casino: Dispater’s Vault. Chapman learned that several of the Jack’s henches — especially those in the Diamonds suit — had explosives implanted in their heads to ensure their loyalty and that they would not leave Dispater’s Vault. Chapman also learned he had one of those bombs in his own head — a real bomb, this time.
The Jack made it clear that Chapman was going to write a book about him, then assigned Trey to look after him and answer his questions. Trey didn’t want this assignment, but the Jack sweetened the deal by letting her lead the search for his new Deuce. After getting off on a very bad start, and encountering Madam Bank — the Jack’s accountant, wife to Mister River and mother of Nickel (who worked for the Jack willingly) — Trey finally began to warm to Chapman after having to fight off Sharp Top — a Charlie Chapmanesque knife fighter who wore the four of hearts — and being told that by becoming Chapman’s liaison, Trey had been given the chance to be part of the Jack’s story.
Trey was a dancer — formally with the Paramount Company of Ballet — who’d been strung out on Adderall and other uppers and had crashed out of respectable work. Relocating to Greystone City where an ex-junkie dancer would get a break or two, Trey ended up working at Dispater’s Vault and fell into orbit around the Jack, whose charisma and skill at manipulation had made her an absolutely devout believer in the Jack’s mission. He trained and refined her and gave her purpose — a purpose she missed while searching for her new partner and being stuck babysitting Chapman. He learned that the Hearts were the Jack’s assistants and performers, tasked with carrying out his will. The Clubs were his enforcers. The Spades were his parahuman assets. And the Diamonds took care of his infrastructure. The Hearts in particular were the Jack’s acolytes, molded into exactly what he wanted. Trey was both conscious and proud of what the Jack had done to her.
It also became clear that the Jack’s insanity wasn’t any kind of act — he truly was insane. But insanity was not the same thing as chaos. As Chapman learned, especially after another encounter with his kidnapper, everything the Jack did had intentionality. Everything was part of a purpose. And no one knew that purpose but the Jack himself.
And Chapman had become part of that purpose… and was rapidly figuring out that very few people survived that honor…
Interviewing Trey #13
continues later today on Patreon
tomorrow on Banter Latte