“Do you ever find that you’re just…running short of ideas?” said Captain Atom. “On some days, I just cannot for the life of me think of a single good deed that I can do.”

“At least not one that doesn’t involve red tape or overthrowing governments, eh?” Doktor Verhängnis laughed. “But, ja, I do have such days myself as well. Where the evil ideas for world domination, they do not flow so well.”

“What do you do in those cases?” Atom said. He crossed his legs, sipping delicately at the Dom Perignon ‘96 in his host’s stemware.

Verhängnis nodded at a bowl on his desk. “I have many methods for brainstorming, but my first recourse is usually little Rosig here.”

Captain Atom leaned over, looking into the bowl. Other than a high-tech filter of Doktor Verhängnis’s own design, there didn’t seem to be anything in it other than an ordinary-looking goldfish. “I don’t follow.”

Rosig surfaced. “Place a line of thermonuclear warheads in the Pacific during El Niño! Unless the UN pays one hundred billion in diamonds, I will disrupt global weather patterns!” The fish spoke in a squeaky gasp that was quite intelligible.

“Diabolical,” said Captain Atom.

Ja, little Rosig is full of such gems,” said Doktor Verhängnis, with an indulgent smile.

“How do you keep him from…well, you know, outshining you?”

“Ah. That.” Verhängnis shrugged. “I was able to give Rosig super-intelligence fairly easily, but there was one area where sacrifices had to be made.”

A moment later, after slipping back into the bowl for a gill-moistening swim, Rosig re-emerged. “What were we talking about?” the fish said. “Was it about shooting an asteroid into the Ross Ice Shelf to create a mega-iceberg?”

“Yes, little Rosig tends to forget what he was talking about every 15 seconds or so,” said Doktor Verhängnis. “It keeps him out of trouble.”

“I thought that was a myth,” said Atom.

“Well, it was either super-intelligence with no memory, or super-memory with not intelligence,” said Verhängnis, “and I didn’t want a goldfish that kept long grudges over dumb things.”

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