Mystery Men Role Playing Game: When Strikes the Super President!

To dispel any notion that I could become your next world leader, or even Beadle of Brampton, I’d like to share a private part of my life with you: I play role playing games. I believe this disqualifies me under the United Nations Organization charter from holding public office or serving on juries. This is a game called Mystery Men, based loosely on the movie, based loosely on the comic book.

You play a squad of between four to six incompetent super heroes.  Below is a description of my second turn.

Mike Axford, the presidential bodyguard and head of the Treasury Department, was cooling his heels in the waiting room of the Oval Office. “SUFFERING SNAKES!” he expostulated in his thick Irish brogue, “Casey, ye gotta lets me in to see the President! I’z supposed to be protecting him! And besides of which—”

Lenore Case, the Secretary of War, and also the President’s personal secretary, took a pencil from behind her ear to make a correction on the presidential letter she was typing. Her hair was done up in a style called a ‘Victory Roll’ and atop her saucy curls was perched a fashionable hat. She was nattily attired in a long jacket with padded shoulders and a thigh-length skirt with hose and heels.

“Not now, Mike!” She snapped,  “I’ve got to get this letter out to the President of Russia. The Russians have claimed the North Pole as part of their sovereign territory, and the United States has to make it clear that we will not stand for this aggression, and that no options are off the table.”

“Holy Crow! Those Ruskies are trying to stop Christmas!  Again!”

“The United States will act — even if our layabout president will not. If we have to drop a Nuke, so help me—”

“Suffering Snakes! Are you telling me that you, the President’s secretary, gets to declare war? And here I thought Congress or something…”

“Just a police action, Mike, just a police action! And someone has to run things while the President is out nightclubbing!” Miss Case jabbed a well-manicured fingernail down on the speakerphone. “Get me Admiral America over at the Pentagon, stat! I need a dozen nuclear submarines off the coast of Siberia! Yesterday! And the President needs his coat pressed for his press conference with TIGER BEAT magazine.”

The voice of Colonel O. Wisdom came back over the line. In the background was the noise of the busy front office of the Pentagon, with military men rushing back and forth calling out the names and numbers  of various assets and personnel being delivered world wide, the clatter of tickertape, and the harsh jangling of telephone bells. “I am sorry, Miss Case,” said Colonel Wisdom, who also doubled as the office manager for the Pentagon, “But Admiral America has not reported in. Semaphore signals to the Liberty Ship just get a busy signal. I am not sure what to do. We need to get the war ready if we are going to make our 3:30 deadline.”

Lenore Case said, “Get the war started for our 3:30 deadline without fail! We can always add more troops with an extra deployment.”

“Should I reinstate the draft, Miss Case?” asked Colonel Wisdom.

She sighed. “You know I cannot do that without the President’s direct order. Just stand by. I’ll get back to you.”   At that moment, her typewriter jammed. “And now I need a new ribbon! I hate being Secretary of War!” She turned to the thickset Irish bodyguard. “Mike, you have to talk Mr Norcross into letting me go out on field missions. I can help protect the United States! This desk job is driving me crazy!”

The buzzer on her desk rang an alarm. “Miss Case, this is the switchboard. I have a phone call from Saturn.”

“The Greek God or the big planet?”

“The party did not say. It was a man’s voice, but there was buzzing theramin music playing in the background. He demands to speak to the President. Something about Stone Men in a certain neighborhood in Champion City, New Delaware.  It could be a crank call. Should I put it through to the President?”

But Mike Axford, hearing this, had had enough. Stomping over to the big doors, and pushing himself past the marine guards, he stormed into the Oval Office.

There sat the young, daring President, feet crossed on the desk, leaning back in his chair, elbows high, hands behind his head.  Standing next to him, unnoticed in his leather motorist coat and cap and goggles, was the White House Chief of Staff and Presidential Chauffer, Kato Mifune.

“Suffering Snakes, Jamie boy!” grated Mike Axford, “What would your father say if he could see you now? Your father, he thought you would give up on your playboy lifestyle, nightclubs and theaters, and settle down to real work if only you were put in charge of the United States! He thought running a great country would straighten you out. But here you are whistling at the ceiling, while the Russians are trying to stop Christmas, and the Stone Men of Saturn are stalking the streets of a city in New Delaware.”

President Norcross smiled indulgently at the rough Irishman, but raised his voice, “Miss Case, is New Delaware actually a state in the union?”

The trim figure of the Secretary of War appeared in the doorway, her steno pad in hand. “Yes sir. As of last Thursday. I checked with Chief Justice, who is the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, as well as the Chief of the Justice tribe. He says you can create new states if Congress is in recess. We are now up to 57. The House of Representatives is up to 900 member. We are having some trouble dividing West Virginia into East West Virginia and West West Virginia. Oh, and Saturn is on line one; Red China is on line two.”

He waved a hand at her. “You handle those calls, Miss Case. Declare war on whichever one is hurting our national interests.”

She pouted. “But, chief! I’ve been your secretary for years! I know more about running the United States than any man! I think I should be out there in the field, with Mr Axford, fighting enemies of the nation! I bet I could whip inflation by myself!”

Mike Axford said, “Now, Casey, you know whenever you poke your pretty nose into National business, it ends up getting smudged. Why not leave the rough stuff to tough customers like me? You stay here in the Oval Office with the President, where it is safe!” He rounded on the President with a snarl. “Speaking of which, where in the blistering Blue Blazes was you last night?”

“Why, what do you mean, Mike?” asked the President innocently.

“The Red Chinese are claiming airspace over Taiwan and the City of New Orleans suffered a major flood! Ivan Kragoff landed on the moon in a glass space ship crewed by three super-apes and scuffed out Neal Armstrong’s footprints! The Punisher shot in the head the head of that Middle Eastern death cult before the Navy Seal team was ready, totally stealing our thunder!  Super President was fighting Godzilla!”Axford pointed a blunt Irish finger at Norcross. “And where was you, might I be asking? No one could find you.” He shook his head in disgust. “Playing golf, was it? Out with a dame, was it?”

Norcross said, “Super-President, eh? I think he was winning that fight, if only he had not been knocked through a building. Turns out concrete is not something you should turn into when you are being pounded through concrete.”

Mike Axford pounded his fist in his palm. “And, by thunder, that Godzilla is now a hero. A super hero! Part of a biker gang or something. I saw the report put out by the Treasury Department of Red Chinese, our rival nation! You know what that means!”

Norcross nodded grimly. “They scooped us again, Mike!  The Reds are planning economic warfare, no doubt about it! Perhaps we should not have let the Mandarin buy up so much of our National Debt! I do not want to speak ill of my predecessor in office, the disembodied undead brain of Roosevelt in a jar, but some of his policies, such as means testing for welfare, and mandatory hypnosis in public schools … ”

Miss Case spoke up, “I almost forgot to tell you, boss, that M from the British Secret Service called yesterday while you were out. They’ve run some tests, and discovered that the disembodied undead brain of Roosevelt was actually a living brain, just wearing yellow fright makeup to make it look undead.”

“Wait,” said Norcross in a puzzled voice. “You mean the disembodied dead brain of a former President resurrected by unnatural and illegal scientific techniques was actually the disembodied living brain of someone else who was completely alive?”

“M-I 6 is not sure,” answered Lenore Case pertly, ” The British think the United States for the last eight years was being run by a super villain in disguise, either Doctor Sun, or Doctor Morbius, Doctor Donovan or Professor Doctor Herman Von Klempt, or Professor Menace, or that Guy with the French Gorilla… It would explain a lot …”

Mike Axford waved his thick Irish hands in the air as if to wipe the topic aside, and spoke in his thick-witted thick Irish voice, “Suffering Snakes! Sometimes a man can’t hear himself talk, listening to you! Is it totally missing the point you are?”

“What do you mean, Axford?” asked Norcross in a voice of surprise.

“Just this! If Godzilla is a GOOD GUY, and he was fighting Super President, you know what that means?! It means Super President is a BAD GUY! I was coming here to tell you that the Treasury Department is putting together a cunning plan to nab this Super President character next time he appears in public, and catch him red-handed!”

The President exchanged a worried glance with his Japanese Chauffeur and White House Chief of Staff. “But—how can the T-Men catch him, Mike? Super President can turn his body into steel, or uranium, or…”

“Or yarn!” said Casey. “Or Nail Polish!”

“Or Whiskey!” said Axford.

“Or anti-Godzilla oxygen-destroying knock-out gas!” said Kato, “If he’s been thinking!”

“…or whatever the need requires,” finished James Norcross.

Lenore Case said, “And what would you arrest him for? What has he done?”

“He has not signed up for Disembodied Brain Care, has he?”said Mike Axford triumphantly. “Remember how the last president had a Patient Protection and Affordable Brain Care bill passed requiring everyone to put his personal medical information as well as a gene sample and a copy of his brain wave patterns, into the three-thousand-foot high super-computer COLOSSUSKYNET 9000 built out of black admantium on top of that Volcano in Antarctica, Mount Erebus, where all those ancient Aztec ruins were found, and those giant albino penguins? Well, anyone who has not signed up for Brain Care is breaking the law!”

James Norcross rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “Well … I am not sure if that counts as a Federal crime. But come to think of it!” He snapped his fingers. “Mike! Maybe you are right. I am sure that Super President, if he is a villain like you say, he is sure to seek out Godzilla for a rematch. Why don’t you take your Treasury Department and look for him? I heard he was fighting an obscure monster called Baragon.”

Lenore Case looked suspicious. “How did you hear that? You were not in when Dr. Diplodocus from the Federal Bureau of Monsters called.”

“Oh …. um,” said Norcross, putting a finger under his collar and loosening his tie. “Well, I met the Premier of Japan last night in the nightclub, and he mentioned it to me.”

“Well, I guess that highlife lifestyle is good for something,” muttered Casey.

James Norcross leaped to his feet and clapped Azxford on the shoulder, “But if this Super President fellow, whoever he is,  really IS such a bad guy, like you say, then he is sure to seek out Motor- Godzilla for a rematch! Villains are always into that vengeance stuff! — You and your Treasury Men hightail it to the scene of destruction where the lumbering leviathans are fighting.  On your way out, ask Miss Case to have some military units close in on the giant monsters and vainly fire ineffectual rockets and useless missiles at them the moment any monster walks through any high tension power cables or exploding oil refineries. Also, I’d like a nuclear submarine in the Arctic and a submarine sandwich on my desk— both of them before lunch! Now get moving! This is the United States, not some fly-by-night bit-bit nation working out of a garage!”

“Sure and by gum, saints preserve us, by golly, Jamie boy!” enthused the Irishiffic Irishman in a sudden cloudburst of ethnic local color, “I’ll get that assignment for ye, or my name ain’t Michael Aloysious Axford! So long! See ya later!”

After he left, Lenore Case shook her pretty head, and chuckled wryly, “That Axford! He’s quite a card. But, say, chief, you don’t think the Super President is behind the recent rash of crimes and disappearances? Or trying to blow up the moon? Admiral America is gone, and so is Bongo Drummer Boy – and the Novelator!”

James Norcross raised an eyebrow. “Why, Miss Case, what caused this sudden interest in missing pulp fiction novelist crimefighters?”

Her cheeks turned pink as she stammered, “W-Why, it’s not an interest, exactly. It is just that I was reading the fourth book in the Novelator’s nine-volume trilogy, LUMBERJACKS OF DUNE MEET GODZILLA ON THE WHEEL OF TIME, and if he goes missing, he will not have the next book written in time for publication this week!”

“Well, well, you are the Secretary of War. Why not send the marines to go look for him?”

She rolled her eyes. “You know the marines are busy fighting giant ants in New Arizona that emerged from the subterranean kingdom of Subterranea. Besides, kidnapping is a matter for the local police.”

And, the moment she left, James Norcross finished her sentence for her, ” … or for the SUPER PRESIDENT! Quickly, Kato! To the Presidential Poles!”

Stuffing the nuclear football with all the launch codes behind the bust of Washington, Norcross pressed a secret switch hidden in the Presidential desk. The Great Seal of the United States, enameled into the floor, slid aside, revealing the secret passage down to the Presidential Cave.

Next to the giant penny and the corpse of Lenin, and other trophies from American victories overseas, rested the sleek and powerful streamlined shape of the flying limousine known as the Presidentmobile.

“What I no understand, Mr James,” said Kato politely, “Is why you do this? Why not send out the United States Army and Navy and Marines?”

“Kato,” said James Norcross grimly, “As we both know, my ancestor back in England, King George III, was secretly the masked avenger known only as Super King. He roamed the highways and byways of the British Empire, righting wrongs and doing good deeds upon his noble steed, Golden, leaving gold musketballs in the heads of scofflaws and rebels. I intent to carry on that same great tradition. Uh, except only for four years, eight if reelected.”

“Then you go back to being Super Senator, right? Or Super Lobbyist? So what mission we do now, please?”

“As the President of the United States, with the power to appoint the Postmaster General as well as turn my body into steel or ceramic or glue or whatever the need requires, my first duty must be to protect the citizens of the nation.”

“So we help with the invasion from Saturn? Or the war with Russia? Or the Subterranean empire of mole-things?”

“Of course not! We have to save the Novelator from a gang of Stonecutters! And the Bongo Drummer fellow! Quick! Back up the Oval Office! I need to use the hotline!”

Donning his rocket belt and steel helmet and silly looking red and white uniform without a single trace of blue in it, Super President rocketed back up to the Oval Office.

There, next to the red hotline phone leading to the Kremlin, and to Fu Manchu the Premier of China, and next to the seashell shaped hotline phone in the fishtank leading to the offices of Amphibious Man the Lord of Atlantis, and next to yet another hotline phone leading to the secret Warlock President of Magical America that exists halfway in our in our dimension and halfway in the Twilight Zone but cannot be seen by anyone except Irishmen, not mention a few other hotlines leading to the Tooth Fairy’s Fortress of Dentistude, or Mary Poppins’ house, or the year 40000 AD, or the Robot Empire, or the local Pizza Express Parlor, was of course the red and green hotline leading to Santa’s Palace at the North Pole.

Super President picked up the phone, “Burbank speaking,” came the calm, mysterious voice over the wire.

“Connect me with Santa Claus. This is the President!”

“Stand by….”

There was a click, and the voice of Supermarket Santa came on the line. “Ho! Ho! HO! And what would YOU like for Christmas this year, little boy?”

“This is Super President speaking, Santa. Did you actually get your secret base at the North Pole up and running? I thought you said the keys were on the Planet Neptune, or trapped in the time bubble three seconds away from the Big Bang or something?”

“Adolph the Talking Reindeer remembered a back way. There is an Easter Bunny tunnel that runs straight from Champion City to the North Pole. There are squads of elves here, but I cannot figure out how to unlock them from cryogenic storage. It seems the Silver Age Supermarket Santa was a Space Alien, whereas the Golden Age Supermarket Santa had a magic ring from China or something. My base here, however, is from the Alan Moore period, the Dark Age, so there are dead minions of Ozymandias all over the place. Apparently they were killed by an excess overload of gritty realism. I think Frank Castle was the Space Santa before I got the job. He equipped the sleigh with machine guns and a smokescreen. He wrote ‘I see ya when your sleeping’ on the side of the air to ground missile.”

“Doesn’t it cost experience points to buy a headquarters and minions? We did not get anything last turn except for one point of fame and one point of luck.”

“No, Mr President. In this game, secret bases and secret identities are all freebies, since they do not actually affect your power or speed or wits or anything. It’s just for local color and to give us more personality. But what is this I see in the Washington White House Newspaper? Apparently the President of the United States has ordered a nationwide manhunt for the Super President! But with my mystic power to tell who is naughty and who is nice, I simply know that you are not the racketeer the newspapers make you out to be.”

“Well, the order was actually given by someone named Axford, the comedy relief Irish Mick… Say! Wait a minute! Don’t I get extra points if I am being hunted?”

“Not in this game. And not if you are hunted by yourself. And stop breaking the fourth wall!” said Santa in an angry voice.

Super President said, “Well, what do we do, Santa? You know who is naughty and nice? Do you know who is the weakest villain with the most points.”

“Fourth wall!”

“I mean, who is the biggest menace?”

“As a Santa Claus, my main mission is to spread Christmas spirit. So I think we should wreck a holiday revenge on anyone who dares mess with the capes of Champion City.”

“The Stonecutters?” said Super President.

“Exactly! Our fellow heroes need not pine in vain! And Captain Curling has a special vendetta against the Stonecutters, since they cut stones, which he would rather see slide slowly across the ice. We will meet in the garage of Fast Racer. He happens to be sharing a garage with the world famous race car drive Go Mifune, and they have the same style, make and model of car, and the same height, weight, build and hair color, and I have never see the two of them together, but Go Mifune does not wear a tiny domino mask under his goggles but Fast Racer does, so they must be two entirely different people. Meet there at Twenty-Five hundred hours, Eastern Standard Earth Time. District Attorney Scanlon will bring the soda and chips.”

“Roger! Super President signing off!”

“Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!”