One of the reasons superpowers are so tough to nail down is that they aren’t entirely based on genetics. It’s a bit iffier with normal kids or teens who end up with powers but who seem to have normal parents. Was one of the parents a secret super? Did one somehow get depowered? Maybe there’s just some sort of potential to have superpowers instead that’s activated by environment or something a parent went through. Maybe this is all about grandparents and genes skipping generations.
The other way around isn’t much better. There’s no guarantee the child of even two supers will have powers. Complicating matters, most supers don’t like the identity of their children getting out, so I’m working off limited experience. Some of that’s personal experience, from killing the parents.
Sometimes the DNA helps. Sometime’s it’s useless. Sorry I can’t be more specific, but supers come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and origins. One guy can fall into a vat of experimental radioactive goo and come out with acid spit, another with cancer.
But what about myself and Qiang? I’m part of a mutant race of humanity. It’s not all adamantium claws and psychic firebirds, though. That’s not how mutations work if you’re talking its own separate group. Homo machina powers can’t be turned off if in any of the few and tenuous ways people have to disable superpowers because we’re not technically supers. We just naturally have an ability regular homo sapiens lack. Like how birds are naturally better at flying than humans, or how dolphins are naturally superior at gang rape. Grass grows, birds fly, son shines, and brother, I hurt people. Or, well, I biologically merge with certain materials commonly used in computers and other devices. The hurting people part is an acquired skill.
My point bringing all this up is to excuse the slow progress here. I might be looking in entirely the wrong place, but I’m pretty sure Spinetingler’s kid would have powers. I’m just not sure on a few details… age, maternity, ethnicity, area of birth, who she was raised by, where they might have gone…
Still, what’s a guy like me to do if not tilt at a windmill? To dream the impossible dream?
That sounds a lot better than “I didn’t fucking think this through.” Note, go back and edit this part out before sending it on.
I’ve taken to reserving the day for Qiang and using the night for working on this. Her enthusiasm is infectious. Today, we took in some haunted houses. It was fun until we got to the one where the only things they had to offer were cold spots and promises that there’d be orbs in any photos we took.
It was trickier this particular night, because I needed to do some consulting with someone about the job. Bereft as I was of loyal retainers, I had to hire a temp to show Qiang to a spot where she might be safe. I told Qiang I wanted her to see Master Academy, but that I wasn’t supposed to go there. It disappointed the person I’d hired online that they seemed to be playing babysitter, but I let it drop that I’d pay them a quarter-million dollars and they’d get to hang out with supers for a bit. I didn’t tell either of them about the danger, which may or may not have been a good decision.
It all depended on the fellow I was to meet with. I rented out a cheap motel room instead of bringing him to the hotel room. I set up a big mirror on the wall with a table up against it, which I sat at. I lit a candle, turned out the lights, and sat at the table. “Spinetingler, Spinetingler, Spinetingler.”
Against the reality warper or empowerer or whatever the king of the supernatural supers is, an entire campus of capes might be adequate protection. To be fair, it’s a hell of a lot harder to protect people than it is to kill them.
My HUD displayed drastic pressure increase. I heard a dissonant, scratchy growl. In the mirror, a pair of red eyes opened over my shoulder. “Hello again,” I said to Spinetingler. “I came in peace.”
“Why do I doubt that?” he asked. Spinetingler hung back, just outside the glow of the candle, leaving my imagination to fill in what form he took in the darkness.
I shrugged. “Probably from those unpleasant run-ins we’ve had in the past. I’d say we should forget all about those, but a recurring subject in them has come up. See, the reson why I’m even in this city at this time of year, calling your name, is because I’m finally working on that goal you’ve been seeking help for. In the interest of hoping you and I can bury the hatchet, I’d like to find your daughter.”
A puff of snortd air passed over my mirror self’s shoulder. “Tell me why I don’t kill you for trying to kill my daughter.”
I held my hands up. “This isn’t about killing or hurting her in any way. You and I don’t like each other, we got off on the wrong foot, that’s fine. But I’ve taken on some different priorities lately, and I’ve decided I could use one less enemy. Not an ally, just not an enemy. I didn’t actually want to bring this up to you until I found her.”
The eyes cocked to one side, then the other, trying to figure out my angle. “Are you proposing… a deal?”
I love a good deal, and I expect Spinetingler does too. Telling the good guys the truth they hate to hear rather than the lie they wish you gave them. Following the letter of a contract while shredding the soul. Wonderful. “That term is a bit too loaded for us. A simple agreement. I return your daughter to you, and you and I avoid each other avoid each other. I mean, if you happen to walk into the coffee shop or bar I’m drinking at, no big deal. But no knowingly getting involved in each other’s plots or going after the other’s family or friends.”
“As the more powerful party, what do I get out of this?” asked Spinetingler. This time, the words came out as a whisper just behind me. My cameras showed nothing in the room with me. The only visual representation of Spinetingler’s presence was on the other side of that mirror.
“First, your daughter. Second, you’ll finally be safe from me.” I reject the length of your dick, Spinetingler, and substitute my own. Measure this beauty right here. Yes, I did have the little bowler hat hidden there this entire time. It really does make it look dignified, doesn’t it? Yes, I did shave my pubes into the shape of a handlebar mustache. “I think we both know we could have a hell of a war, but think of all our loved ones it would endanger.”
My reflection disappeared as the red eyes moved closer. Spinetingler appeared as a person made of shadow. He sat across from me then, red eyes contemplating me unwaveringly. I held a hand out to break the stalemate. He looked at me. I looked at him. “I could have just stayed away from the city and never called you. I don’t even need you watching my back on this. I’m laying my cards out on the table. I’ve even been checking around.”
I reached down slowly to pull out the machine I’ve been using. “Quick and easy paternity test. Been checking a few around town with gimmicks and power sets I thought could be part of it, but I’m working mostly blind here. I still got files in my head that I’ve checked, but even the Feds don’t seem to know your kid.”
“If what you say is true, that speaks to a greater conspiracy. Those are few and far between, and regularly thwarted by interested parties’ investigation.” He didn’t blink or look away from me. No mouth had opened up to speak the words.
The minutes dragged on without resolution of this dilemma of trust. There it is again. Trust. Who do ya trust? The heroes? They’re at home, washing their tights!
“I love this season. Good movies. Well, ok movies. Horror movies don’t typically get ranked highly, but they’re fun. I find I’m more of an Eighties fan. Lost Boys, Return of the Living Dead, Night of the Demons. Oddly enough, I prefer Fright Night 2 over the original. You strike me as a slasher fan. Any favorites?”
He leaned forward a little. “Nightmare on Elm Street. It’s different than others.”
I cocked my head. “Oh yeah?”
The shadow nodded. “Slashers seem conservative to people who grew up with Scream. They think the killer murders youths who drink and fuck and party. They think too much about Jason Voorhees. Mike Myers is a barely-human shape who hunts his family. Chucky is a Satanic killer’s soul in a doll that kills whoever he can. They don’t fit, but Freddy counters the idea completely.”
I pondered it. “He goes after a certain town’s kids, regardless of what they do.”
Spinetingler pointed a shadowy finger at me. “No. Freddy was a child murderer killed by people who took the law into their own hands like a slasher would do. He was created by the type of person who has no tolerance for police and courts when they can string a man up.”
“The sort of person who wishes they could have been there with their gun when somebody started shooting people,” I responded. “Not the first time the humans created their own monster. The kid thing was a dick move, but you can hardly blame a guy for wanting revenge for being killed. Not a lot of people would be ‘oh, sure, just kill away good chaps’.”
I chuckled. Spinetingler did as well. After a moment, I added, “I could justify taking revenge on you. You could justify taking revenge on me. I’m willing to break the cycle so we can get back to doing what we love best: taking revenge on the world, knowing there’s no more big ‘versus’ crossovers on the horizons. Come on, let’s stop clenching our buttholes and go have some fun.”
I certainly didn’t intend to go barhopping with one of the most powerful supervillains in the world, but it worked out. It turned into a trust-building exercise. I walked in, dropping the projection. This not being a super bar, the folks there weren’t happy to see me. They liked it even less when the howling started. Then the backdoor crashed open and a hulking shadow brute stepped in.
The whole mess ended with us sitting around, listening to the jukebox, glasses in hand. I filled mine up from the tap, he filled his up from the bartender.
When I dragged myself into the hotel suite in the light of the rising sun, I knew I was going to have a hell of a bad day dealing with a little kid. But I also had the name, and a plan. Sure, I find myself lacking electronic records, you’d be surprised how far behind a big city can get on transferring paper records over.
Yep, hardcopy research. I had to be drunk to think of it. Still better than how Spinetingler got after drinking that meth head.