There may have been a miscalculation or two about those volcanoes. Just, ya know, a few problems with that many shockwaves, particularly the ones in the Pacific Ring of Fire. Between the somewhat minor damage to a few countries with coastal cities (who even needs an India anyways?), and the refusal of a few of the volcanoes to shut off properly, some people are starting to grumble and it almost looks like I did the job of my rival conquistador for him. It. Whatever.
I’m surprised the heroes haven’t stopped by to depose me. Or more villains. I’ve been idly wondering where they were. I expected more opposition to my rule at the very least. That’s not to say there haven’t been incidents. I just expected them to involve fights and confrontations. Maybe a bunch of Neo Nazis marching and hailing, hoping to take me out and take the throne. Or maybe some rogue hero, one that’s really pissed off, flying in to tear my head off out of nowhere. I can’t keep track of all of them. Even if I wasn’t so infamously self-centered, I have an entire world to look to and only so much time and attention to give it.
I stopped one little attempt, at least. I caught Lone Gunman trying to snipe me the other day. He had something done to flush himself out, which is probably why he looked so anemic. But even one tiny little nanomachine is enough, when you’ve got access to the entire world’s infrastructure. Rather than use it to kill him via application to certain parts of the brain, I went for a walk. I walked down to a hot dog vendor and leaned out of line just in time for the person in front of me to get hit. I dropped a coin to pay the man, and ducked down to get it. I stood up, and there was no more vendor, so I took my hot dog for free. And so on.
I know, me eat a hot dog? I’m truly a man of the people. And he’s a man with a tendency to kill lots of people while saving them.
That little story brings me to another point, though. The scarcity of nanites. They break down, get used up, or just pass out of a system over time. I’ve been doing my best to replenish the supply and distribute them. After all, people still get hurt, still go to the doctors, still need vaccinations. It’s more a matter of getting them into people at that point. Some physicians are willing to do it, since they are superior medical care. Others refuse. If I don’t my little guys inside them or their families and friends, there’s not a whole lot I can do. I can’t send Electric Eyes around to every single place, and there’s only so far people are willing to go to accommodate my efforts to resist the aliens.
That’s the problem with being an untrustworthy sociopath sometimes; even invoking an external threat is only going so far to help me out. The problem, I think, is that I didn’t enact a lot of purges beyond what I did to some of the political opposition. That, and I barely have a power structure in place, and while that ensures most decisions go through me, it also means that fewer people have a vested interest in their own government. Dammit, yet another thing. See? This is why originally I only meant to kill everyone who got a nanite instead of take over the world. This is the trouble my conscience causes when I let it.
Now, a lot of otherwise-reasonable people are acting with fear at the forefront of their minds. They’re afraid that more of them are infected or infested or whatever. So they go around with that doubt in their heads. Tina scraped her knee and it’s fine already? Must have nanites in her. Johnathon hurt his hand and keeps whining about it? Must be making a big show of it to try and hide that he’s being controlled, because most people don’t act out that much from a simple papercut. I’ve gone and turned most of the world into conspiracy theorists.
It’s tied to evolution, dear readers. Animals at any stage of the food tree need to figure out if they’re facing something that’s a threat. Recognizing patterns, sensing movement, yada yada. People sometimes start to see things that aren’t there due to a problem in the brain specifically; other times, it’s a product of fear. There’s a huge swath of people who operate from a fear-based mindset. It distorts their ability to think straight, causing them to take irrational actions and claim some huge percentage of the world is against them.
These are the types of people who already fear vaccines, think the nanites are in chemtrails, and worry that fluoride in the water is just a euphemism for vaccines. And, because of that fear, they are cowed. They will do what is asked of them for fear that the people around them will make them do it once it’s revealed that they aren’t also part of our happy little club.
Fear is the ultimate control on the human race. Give man fear, and he will police himself.
And sometimes, I have to justify that fear.
I know I’ve rambled on quite a bit, partially to set the mood and partially to gloat over what I’ve done to the people of Earth, but it has all led up to something.
In addition to flight and paralysis, fighting is another reaction to fear. I don’t give a damn if survivalists hole up and take potshots at police inasmuch as it requires me to redirect an entire force of one single solitary stealth bomber. Or someone who shoots at a cop at some big protest. Murder’s already against the law. They’re just hurting themselves acting like that.
But somebody attacked a nondescript factory in Japan. Due to all the recent wave activity, enough people failed to show up to work in that city I’m refusing to name. So it wasn’t just minor damage. They’re so obsessed with work in Japan, you’d think they were as bad as their Chinese neighbors. I actually think it’s pretty funny. In China, those down below are made to work to their deaths by those up above. In Japan, they don’t have to be so tyrannical because they convinced the people to work themselves to death.
And that’s why people from Japan don’t like me. Moving on.
I wouldn’t even care normally. I tried to force people to take vacation days and personal days, so it’s nice so many of them didn’t show. Plus, after a certain number of absences, they couldn’t have gotten any work done anyway. So I’m not angry about the missing workers, nor do I consider it suspicious.
That anyone knew the factory produced medical nanomachines? That part is suspicious. That’s the kind of opposition I didn’t expect, but that worries me. Because that means a hell of a lot fewer people are going to be affected, and that means someone’s thinking. As all dictators have known, people thinking is dangerous. I could get parts anywhere. Knock out one of the factories in China and I can afford to open up another one entirely to take up the slack in time. But all those pieces don’t mean a thing without quite a bit of refinement.
I had my local Electric Eye visit the plant to look at the devastation. A huge chunk of the wall had been cleanly removed. Not cut or blasted through. Not pulled out. There weren’t any scorch marks or bending that indicated that, according to the camera of the local Electric Eye. Turning to look to the interior of the room, it wasn’t difficult to discern the fate of the wall. It reminded me of the story I’ve heard that tornadoes could put a pine needle through a pine tree. But with thousands of shards of metal through conveyor belts, lasers, robotic arms, and other such pieces of the production line.
Not every machine, though. A number had been spared. The management insisted they could still work on the nanites for me. They forced some workers in and proceeded to fire up the machines and even gave me the first of this reduced batch for personal inspection. If they only worried about normal quality control, there wouldn’t have been an issue. But I decided to give them some orders. Being a little angry, I wanted them to jump out and eat the manager. They received the orders and sat there. They didn’t move at all, aside from some gentle sloshing from being carried.
I tried other orders. Nothing. I stuck Electric Eye’s hand inside and ordered them to form armor, a knife, metallic skin. Nada. I could go on. There’s a lot of fucking words for “no,” folks!
They didn’t just trash the place in a way that would make me abandon it and move production to another factory. They wanted me to think it’d been merely slowed down. Instead, they sabotaged the equipment. Programming in some, subtle physical alterations in others.
It wasn’t worth salvaging the place and it also showed that someone knew what the hell they were doing. A superhuman had been involved, but they probably had inside help.
“Has the entire workforce received their complementary nanite injections?” Eye asked the manager.
He bowed repeatedly. “Yes, yes.”
I didn’t have to worry about him lying, either. Such superb medical care that repaired past injuries, healed future ones, and could prevent illness had been seen as an incredible gift to the owners of this facility, who went so make every worker take them when I offered them as an incentive and reward. That frustrating Japanese politeness would insist they lie to me and claim they had used them anyway, but the owner had insisted on recording video of every single injection. I found it in the computer systems as I forced my way in to gain a complete listing of personnel. Sadly, no camera systems could help me find out if any of them were the culprits. Also destroyed. It wouldn’t have changed their fates.
Mindful of the degree of information warfare involved in the sabotage, I terminated the entire payroll.
Some hung themselves or jumped from buildings. A few hurled themselves in front of the high speed trains. I even got two at once when one of them stepped off the sidewalk right in front of another who drove a car. Some died by poison and some died by the bottle, but all of them died as a warning and a punishment. Though, when I saw one guy’s daughter, I also took the opportunity to ship her off to my next residence. She was quite honored to meet the Emperor of Earth at Windsor Palace.
If it comes to anyone’s surprise at this point that I’m evil…well, congratulations. Always nice to have a new reader, but you’d better start earlier.
You know who else was honored to meet the Emperor at Windsor? Our little space crustacean, or spacetacean, Cercopagis Lysis. Or at least round, rolling robot with a holographic projector on top. “Greetings! Behold the glory that is Cercopagis Lysis as I lower myself to speak directly to the presumptive ruler of my planet!” The tiny image of the armored alien reached up with its arms as if to embrace the very ham spewed forth from whatever it used as a mouth. Perhaps its asshole.
See, told y’all “presumptive ruler” felt condescending.
“Look, everyone, it’s the never-been king and all his hopes and dreams, here to visit us from his home planet of Wannabe. Here to whistle your apology like a scalded lobster?” I couldn’t help look over at the giant lobster in its tank that I’d received as a gift from supervillain The Claw.
“I am here to offer you a deal, for the good of all of us.”
“Except the ones who are dead,” I quickly interrupted. “Now, there’s no use crying while there’s science to do to clean up the results of our latest conflict.”
Cercopagis interrupted me again. “When I look outside my ship, it makes me glad I’m not you. You have made it clear the depths to which you will sink.”
I nodded. “Balls deep, man. Balls. Deep.”
“If this goes on much longer, we will destroy that which we both wish to hold within our grasp. Even if you win, you will force your people to the breaking point and they will break. I have seen what people due to a ruler they can no longer tolerate. It is not pretty. So perhaps we can resolve this with less violence. A contest.” He spread his arms, at that. I briefly wondered if his third arm also spread when he did that, or if he didn’t bother using it in the human gesture.
“You want me to give up my superior position to give you something like an even chance at taking over in an agreement that I doubt you’d be willing to uphold if you lose?” I asked, putting it into perspective.
“I have seen the riots broadcast from your satellites. I read about the fears of mankind. They will turn on you. You know this. I can not beat you now, but I can distract you and remain a threat until Earth’s mightiest superhumans rebel. In the ensuing chaos and destruction, your world will be unable to resist me. I merely have to wait until you lose, but then I would receive damaged goods. If you win in this contest, I will leave and you are free from the distraction I pose to consolidate your power.”
I leaned forward in the classic Thinker pose. “Color me intrigued, or perhaps robin’s egg blue. What do you have in mind?”
“A series of five fights. We each choose warriors to represent us. They fight, one at a time, until one of us reaches a majority of victories.”
Interesting idea, but I could see a few problems. “Including supers? That’ll present some balance issues. We’d have to let the other see our rosters as we build them. And I didn’t think you had too many people with you in that ship of yours.”
“I have some of my own, and old allies on your world.” He crossed his arms. “I trust there will be no retaliation against Earthlings who fight for me?”
I shrugged. “Eh, sure. I will not lay my hands upon them, not even a digit.” Might shove my foot up their asses, though. “The balance issue is still a big deal. We might as well throw the biggest hammers at each other.”
“From the information I have gleaned about you, you know that basic ideas of power levels are irrelevant to how well one performs in battle. I have spoken with one ally I would enter into this contest and he imparted an idea on me. Our rosters will be secret until all are gathered, then we can adjust it. One of us picks a fighter and the other team decides who to send to fight after having time to deliberate on it and decide who would be the best for that situation.”
“I’m not sure that does anything at all about the balance issue, and I don’ t like the idea of my team voting on anything. You think I’m going to game the system.” I wagged my finger at the holographic display.
He nodded. “You would. I would. Neither of us will. In this way, our fighters will have motivation to think and fight. I would dislike it if one of my team stepped outside and surrendered against my will because you decided to utilize a far stronger opponent. This gives them an opportunity.”
“But still leaves us picking the most powerful, in all likelihood. I have another idea. The team that votes also gets to decide the venue of the fight.”
Cercopagis thought it over briefly, then said, “Agreed. Any further rule revisions?”
“No, but I’m sure we’ll both come up with things as we pick our teams.”
“So you are agreed.”
I nodded. The spectacle would also help. Competition often brings people together, and the sides are clearly “Earth” via “Alien Invader”. They’ll eat it up. It’ll be like the Olympics. Well, except the Olympics are going on right now. It’ll be like the Olympics mixed with Mortal Kombat and a dash of Marvel’s Civil War. At the risk of comparing it to the Olympics again, though, I’m going to cheat my ass off to make sure I win, because Cercopagis does have a point about people’s willingness to put up with me.
And now my giant lobster has a new round, robotic squeeze toy to play with.