Unique Problems 2



I wobbled into an office at the sheriff’s. Between being one of the most feared and powerful beings on Earth, and being like seven months pregnant, they’re not trying to stress me. I think this is the same Sheriff as last time I dealt with one around here. They change every now and then and the position seems ceremonial in a town full of crimefighters. But I’m trying not to rock the boat too much, so there I hobbled. The Sheriff stood up from behind her desk and gestured to a wooden chair in front of the desk. “It’s not the most comfortable, but they don’t pay me a lot. I’ve had some guy from a town called Unique breathing up my neck, asking about that pepper monster. He’s pretty sure it has something to do with a teleportor who stopped at the Unique super chile pepper farm. And as far as anyone knows, the monster came from your store. Tell me what’s going on so we can get this figured out without blowing everyone’s cover, please.”

I shrugged and told her the story. A guy gave Qiang and I a ride to the chili pepper fields full of giant peppers. My daughter and I each stole one. Hers slipped out at Disney World and grew giant on the waters of Thunder Mountain. I put it down. The one I’d stolen and sent back to a refrigerator in my store lair somehow got big enough to trash the store and wreck things around Radium. I kept some power after my descent from godhood, but cleaning things up made it pretty clear I can’t fix the whole world anymore. It took several hours just to fix a town.

“We would like to cooperate with a town like Unique,” the Sheriff said. “We don’t want trouble like giant monsters crashing around again. But it sounds like there’s nothing really to cooperate with.”

I shrugged. “I have my own garden. I was interested in how they got them so big. I dropped them off in a refrigerator at my store and took my daughter somewhere fun. When I came back, the thing was gigantic. I think it had to do with moisture. Maybe there was a leak or something. Can’t examine the fridge now, though.”

“You didn’t do anything to it?” she asked.

I shook my head. “That’s literally it.”

“Teleporting out of the fields where they could see you was risky,” the Sheriff said.

I nodded. “True, but I didn’t figure there’d be a giant monster pointing out where I went. We could also use the fact that I went to Disney world to hide it. Maybe instead of me, one of their people visited Radium at some point and dropped one off. It’s a big field, it’s not like they can stop someone nabbing a little pepper. It may not even have had a rhyme or a reason. There are a thousand different ways it could have happened”

The Sheriff leaned on her desk, clasping her hands together. “I hate this. I didn’t want to spend my life in a shitty, cramped office lying and covering up the misdeeds of the rich and psychotic.”

I laughed and stood up. “That it?”

“Yeah, yeah,” she said.

That didn’t stop someone from trying to follow me from the Sheriff’s office. Not a deputy. They barely have any of those nowadays. A town full of superheroes, why not defund the police? Good luck pulling a bank robbery in this town. Hell, the supervillains might get to the robbers before the heroes, and then they’ll be begging for the heroes to take them into custody instead. Sure, banks are all insured, but many villains take it personally when you touch their retirement fund. They’ll straight up 401kill a bitch.

It could have been OSR. Office of Superhuman Resources likes to keep tabs on Radium, and especially on me. Some of them know to just come to me directly. Others want to pretend they’re fancy spies. I wouldn’t have spotted them if I’d teleported away, but the doctor thinks I need a little exercise instead of relying on nanomachines and superpowers. He’s supposedly got experience with supers, so I’m swallowing some pride here and following doctor’s orders. Especially orders that lead me past a bakery. They have these delicious glazed old-fashioned cake donuts. I grabbed a dozen so I had something to offer when I rounded a corner and the guy followed.

Plaid shirt, jeans, and boots. Not your standard government suit type of thing. “Heya.”

“Shit,” he said. He put his hands on his hips. “Hey.”

I flipped the box open. “Donut?

He walked forward and sheepishly grabbed one. “These are good,” he said.

“Yeah,” I nodded, grabbing one for myself. “So what’s this thing going on?”

“Listen, my boss paid me to come up here and keep tabs on whoever the Sheriffs called in for a few days. He figures I’d find out who stole the pepper.”

“This is a lot of bullshit about a pepper,” I said. “If I had analyzed that thing, I’d have found something out, eh? You know this is making me much more suspicious of y’all than I’d have been if this was all water under the bridge, right?”

“I can’t say why this is such a big deal,” he said. “Can you tell me who you are at least?”

I winked at him as I took a bite of half a donut, chewed, swallowed, then answered, “I’m just someone who wants to be left alone.” I left him with that, but I kept the rest of the donuts.

In between fixing chicken breasts with asparagus and roasted potatoes, I teleported to the landfill and grabbed a piece of the pepper for analysis. Apparently someone wants to make a deal of it. Better to go into a fight with as much information as possible. I left the nanomachines in the basement to crawl over the thing and analyze its DNA. I had to figure out a counter to the lemon juice on the chicken breasts. My gut said porcini mushrooms, but my brain said honey.

The analysis came back over dinner. Mostly Capsicum anuum, one of the standard five species of chilis. That species is the same one to include cayenne, bell peppers, jalapenos, Anaheim, cascabel, and so on. Anuum can crossbreed with a couple other species of chili, but that’s not what the mostly is about. Someone incorporated DNA from another source. I’d say the creature was some sort of animal, but it isn’t related to other living things on Earth. Could be extraterrestrial, bioengineered, or even from a sufficiently-distant parallel Earth. I set the meat vats to following the instructions of the code in its DNA so I could see what kind of a creature they’re putting into peppers.

I mean, they got me curious, and this is way more interesting than beating my daughter at Mortal Kombat. The game, dear readers. Qiang doesn’t like to spar much nowadays, but I’d never rip her spine out. Not out of the game. Besides, she still has Fortnite. I’m not a fan.

So everything was fine. After dessert, I got the “ding” from nanites and the meat vat. The monster was done. As for the critter that grew, that thing was more along the lines of “abomination”. Like a meat sack with points all over that swept around like limbs. It didn’t narrow down the origins of the thing, but I decided to test it.

First, I observed it for ten minutes. After its initial creation, there was continued growth, starting with the dermis. Curious, I tried removing the air and pumping in air with no moisture in it. That stopped its growth right there. I should have waited longer, but the science was already fucked up. I aimed a drop of water at something that could be an orifice. That led to a small explosion of growth. It was 25% bigger or so. I tried a popular brand of soft drink next. It didn’t experience as much growth, but it grew.

I’m going to go ahead and guess this thing, whatever it was, wasn’t something you wanted to put into your mouth with all its moisture. I sent in the nanomachines to disassemble it. I’d seen all I needed to see. It explained the growth of the peppers. Don’t know how it tied in to people spying on me or building up a superhero town. Maybe they’re worried about their brand? But then why not just fucking stop?

I didn’t have much of a good routine here during the summer while school’s out. I like to let Qiang sleep in. Sure, I used to push her into the fighting lessons and all, but I’m easing off. I still have little tests to make sure she hasn’t lost everything, but part of the reason I agreed to come to this town and settle down is I want her to have a better life than me. Apparently she’ll have time to fight when she gets old enough to date speedsters and go on time-traveling adventures.

That’s probably why they waited until noon. Just before twelve, that big, new, clean truck drove up and stopped in front of my house. The defenses aren’t sent to automatically eviscerate anyone during the day; there are many polite reasons someone might come onto my property at that point. The neighbors, gawky teenage boy included, already learned that if they’re playing frisbie golf at night, they need to keep it out of my yard. The lawn gnome’s always watching.

I didn’t like this guy being here. When the defenses gave me an alert about him, I didn’t tell them to kill him even though I knew it’d save me a lot of future trouble. It might also cause me a lot of future trouble to get rid of him that way. Instead, I let him come up the walkway and knock on my door. Since I had nothing better to do and he’d just snoop around anyway, I got up and answered it.

“What?” I asked, opening the door.

“Nice to see you again, ma’am,” he said. He folded his hands. “I’m sorry to bother you on such a pretty day as this.”

“So sorry to bother me that you stalked me to my home.” I folded my arms.

“I’m sorry about that, but I think we can help each other. You’re a superhero, aren’t you?” He took my wince as an affirmative. “Now, I’m not here to cause problems. I’m here to offer you a unique opportunity.” He reached into his coat.

“Unique like the town or unique like the adjective?” I asked.

He laughed at that and pulled out an envelope sealed with a sticker. He handed it over. “People like you, well people like us, can have a hard time finding homes that’ll treat us right. Too often, we have to hide who we are from the world and those we care about. Unique is about giving people like us a place in the world.”

I opened the envelop, curious. It was a free ticket to the Unique Town Fair, allowing people to come and enjoy a superhuman-themed good time. This invite entitled me to enter a membership drive talk in the Paragon Pavilion. The invite promised live music, fun rides, and delicious treats.

“I’ll consider it,” I said. It would be a neat thing to take Qiang to.

“That’s all I ask,” he said. He looked around. “It’s a nice place you got here. We can do you better.” He held out his hand. I shook it so he’d leave me alone.

So, these asses may be riding my dick, but at least I get something fun to do before I get rid of them. And if they have those peppers there, there might be fun violence to partake in. Or at least fried foods what were never meant to see the fried of day.




2 thoughts on “Unique Problems 2

  1. Pingback: Unique Problems 1 | World Domination in Retrospect

  2. Pingback: Unique Problems 3 | World Domination in Retrospect

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.