Asking the right questions – Chap. 4, Act 2, Strip 6

Turns out that the number of independent villainous contractors and mid-level henchmen living in Arulco is rather massive – apparently, it has some particular tax-advantages for that group. Something about being able to claim hostages held as dependents for tax purposes, or something along those lines.

Fortunately, Lillytown U has its own small callcenter, which the statistics faculty uses for their polling operations. That gives our friends not only the wherewithal to call that long list of mediocre villains, but a handy pretext as well! You’d be surprised how willingly people venture normally confident information when they are told that their opinion is valued – especially mid-level henchmen, who always crave any sort of acknowledgment. They don’t get a lot of it in their usual line of work.

Normally you’d expect some language issues when trying to call such a large and diverse group of people – but, no, they all speak English, actually. They may be from all over the world, but the only trace of their foreign heritage are overdone funny accents and tired catchphrases. If they weren’t actual people, you could almost suspect them of being nothing more than shallowly researched national stereotypes. (Set design was that big a challenge, either – George Geekish just collected free posters from various tourism agencies, and he was good to go. Everyone knows that foreigners like to decorate their walls with tourism posters from their homeland. Otherwise, they might forget they are foreigners and accidentally drop their funny accents.)

It took a while, but after some time the Professor got the man he was looking for on the line – Dr. Ray Kobras, independent villainous contractor and successful opthamologist and gynecologist. The secret to his success is keeping his two lines of work strictly separate. Not only for his own safety, but also because it’s really embarrassing when a patient comes to see you about a pregnancy check-up and you absent-mindedly torture her for secret information she doesn’t even possess. Admittedly, it’s not always easy to tell apart, but the difference matters.

But even after successfully bribing the relevant information out of Dr. Kobras, the Professor decides they should go on and call the other ca. 400 independent villainous contractors and mid-level henchmen left on the list. Getting to over a thousand calls means he can make an actual published study out of the interviews they conducted, and that will make it so much easier to hide the cost of the whole operation somewhere in the research budget. He’ll only have to look for a magazine that’ll accept a study on “Demographic diversity, professional attitudes and recent abductorial activities among independent villainous contractors and mid-level henchmen in Arulco.” Sadly, he’ll find one.

More on Thursday.

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