Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Self-Taught Superheroes, Part Fourteen


It was kind of at that moment that I remember it really sinking in for the first time, that the weirdness was all really real. It wasn't just that I was running around in a costume; real people had really been doing that for years. It wasn't even that I had actual honest-to-goodness superpowers. No, the moment where it fully sank in that the world had become something that we only used to see in movies or in comic books was when I heard Lord Raptor explain that he had an actual plan to hold the world's capitols for ransom by teleporting bombs into their national landmarks. It was like...I was about to say, "It was like finding out that James Bond was real," but that's not true. James Bond is easy to believe in. It was like finding out that the crazy guys he fights were all real, every single one of them. It was a weird, shivery feeling that I don't think has ever fully left me since that day.

I didn't have much time to think about it, though, because Lord Raptor was still explaining his plan. "The teleport devices can travel to any point on Earth just as easily as they can tune in to other dimensions, you see." He gestured, and the soldier inside the force field with him refilled his drink. "We still haven't managed to sustain the portal effect--we're extending the duration almost every day, but it's a matter of meeting the power requirements--but a couple of seconds is long enough for a bomb to pass through, especially when we materialize it beneath the bomb and let gravity do the rest."

He took another slurp of his wine. It was bad enough to be harangued by a megalomaniac, but did he also have to be a sloppy eater? The energy barrier was spotted with little flecks of food. uGH. "And of course, there's absolutely no defense against an attack like that. No matter how much security you have, no matter how carefully you guard, we can just drop a bomb into the center of the Oval Office. Or 10 Downing Street, or the Kremlin, or..." He waggled the hand holding a chicken finger, letting a splash of barbecue sauce splatter onto the tablecloth. "You get the idea."

"And you'll do it if they don't pay up," Captain Light said. His whole body was taut, like he was barely constraining himself from just throwing caution to the winds and seeing how many soldiers, war machines, and robots he could take out before they brought him down. (Oh, yeah. Robots. Humanoid from the waist up, ten-legged spiders from the waist down. In the dream the legs weren't even metallic, they were actual hairy ugly spider legs. Not an arachnophobe, but ICK!)

"I have no interest in money," Lord Raptor said. "Only the things it purchases. And in this case, my goal is pure research. My payment will be in plutonium, molybdenum, exotic get the idea. The sort of thing that can power reactors, construct additional fusion generators, build larger portals that can transport regiments. Once I can sustain a portal long enough to fully explore my new domain, I will of course repay my debts. Think of this as a small business loan to an American entrepreneur."

"Can I instead think of it as a crazy guy planning to blow up the White House if America doesn't give in to his terrorist threats?" I asked, my face a picture of mock innocence. "Because I kind of am."

"I expected as much from you, dear girl," he said. I kicked the force field under the table. It hurt my foot, but I felt a lot better. "You're little more than a child, educated in a liberal school system to believe all that hippie socialist nonsense they spout. But I had hoped that Captain Light might understand that we do not live in an ideal world."

"Doesn't mean we have to give in to our worst impulses," Captain Light snarled. His fists glowed. I don't think he even noticed. "You're a thug, a madman, a terrorist and a warmonger. You make a scientific discovery that outmatches Einstein, you find a whole new universe, and all you can think of is how to strip-mine it. If you expected me to condone this madness, I'm happy to disappoint you."

"How unfortunate," Lord Raptor said. "Still, I believe we have a few holding cells left open. You can join our menial laborers and contribute to the effort in your own small way."

"Holding cells?" I said.

"Menial laborers?" Captain Light said. We looked at each other, both thinking the same thing.

"An unfortunate necessity," Lord Raptor said. "We have a need for menial labor, and my men have better things to do than haul and carry. We have conscripted a few individuals into service--they'll be compensated for their efforts when all this is said and done, but for the moment, the threat of force will have to suffice. Mostly people of the lower classes, those who won't be missed--"

"Except by me," the 'waiter' said, pulling out his sidearm and putting it to Lord Raptor's head.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I really liked this part. The whole villains-are-real moment was interesting, and not something you usually see pointed out even in stories that try to examine what being a hero would really be like. You also successfully managed the apparently quite difficult feat of avoiding your heroes sounding like idiots when they respond to the villain's plot-reveal, which I wish more professional writers could.

And, of course, I can't wait to hear more about the "waiter."