Unique Problems 5



I took to the wild, dark skies. Lightning struck around me, burning one of the chili monsters. There weren’t many; I’d had nanomachines tear apart half the field and burned the other half. Enough seeds or enough of the smaller chilis had been buried, though. The water made them grow out of control. Titans walked the Earth once more in the town of Unique, Iowa. But even titanic peppers weren’t immune from death’s pregnant embrace. Because in this scenario, I’m death, and I’m like 8 months pregnant. At least being in my Unicorn Woman form didn’t have all that belly swinging around.

It has to do a pocket of folded space… don’t think about it too hard, it’s some physics stuff I learned as an omnipotent being. Mankind’s not prepared for the unified theory. Seriously, if I gave lasers to cavemen by bringing nanites, this would be like giving toddlers a nuke linked to a big red button.

Enough about that, I had chilis to destroy. I fired a laser from by horn that bisected, trisected and downright dissected one of the peppers that was bigger than King Kong. In the constant drizzle, the parts started to grow whole new bodies, so instead, I exploded it. Another one, I teleported into the sun. One that was bigger than Godzilla took a swipe at me. I was going to tank it anyway because I can, but it missed when purple bolts struck it and made it wince. Down at the ground was Dr. Snugglesmecha.

It was a bipedal walker mech with long, smoothly sharp metal claws, a pair of triangular ears on its big, round head, and a couple of energy weapons mounted on its shoulders. Dr. Snugglesworth, the genius superhero cat, piloted it from an armored core. The rain had fueled the growth of the genetically-monsterfied peppers out of his ability to do much more than annoy. Two of them were now focused on him and I wasn’t even sure he noticed the second.

I shrunk the second into a concentrated mass the size of a penny. Then, I wrangled a half dozen of capsaicin-carrying chilis large enough to rival King Ghidorah, all smushed together by a localized, discriminatory gravitational field. I converted some of the compressed pepper into antimatter and tossed it into the middle of the bunch, blowing all the rest to salsa.

Thing is, that kind of impressive shit took it out of me in ways it didn’t used to when being a goddess. Anyone watching wouldn’t know I was kinda running on empty at that point, and the subsequent teleporting of the rest hid my weakness. That part I could do with some amazing technology I’d already built that could teleport stuff anywhere from the Sun to Uranus. It can go further than Uranus, but I like the pun. Most of them just ended up in the sun. Of course, that didn’t leave me with much as far as fixing the weather. That honor went to Dr. Snugglesworth, who raced back down there to fix the damaged weather control device while I swept over the battle farm field, looking for anything weird like a Void Ghidorah-sized red hot chili pepper under the dirt.

After I was convinced we weren’t going to be killed by any killer cayenne, I descended to find the cat piecing together the weather control device, complete with a small arc welder and miniature welding mask. I scanned it as well but came up with nothing new to offer. He was on the right track. Some of the stuff that had been torn out were redundancies, but he was going to restore an important actuator that was key to distributing power to all the correct circuits and parts. I could have sped it up, but it gave me time to monitor the outside and try to recover my power. Another thing about not being a god is I can no longer eat stars. Instead, I grabbed some of these excellent chicken sandwiches from Pakistan.

I left one next to Dr. Snugglesworth for his benefit. “Pretty rough work,” I commented. I quickly added, “What they did to it.”

“Yeah,” he mewed at me. He put aside the welder, then reached over and tried a switch on the wall. It powered up. “It’s like they tore stuff out until it stopped working. Except they knew how to call in a storm. That was not today’s weather. I check the forecast every day.” A couple minutes later, the rain stopped and the clouds rushed away.

“Well, who all knows you have that here?” I asked. Then I thought to ask, “And who knows you have this base under the house, and who knows the significance of water to your crop?”

“There aren’t many,” Dr. Snugglesworth said, nibbling on his chicken sandwich. He moved the bun aside to chow down on the crispy breading. “The first person I should speak to is also one of the most important. He’s one of the leaders of this community. Not the one funding it. A lot of us put money in. My patents have made me a lot of money.”

“Makes it a bit harder for someone like Agronomiser to make money,” I pointed out.

Dr. Snugglesworth gave me a kitty scowl. “Agronomiser’s brilliant enough to find work at any lab that would take him.”

“Yeah, lots of places are lining up to risk their security clearances and funding by hiring infamous super felons,” I noted.

“Moot point. He’s a criminal who hasn’t stopped yet.” From the tone of his adorable voice, I think I hit a sore point on Dr. Snugglesworth. By stealing the work of others and incarcerating the people who really did it, he’s hurting a chance at livelihood outside of crime. Sure, some of us don’t stop even with money, but a lot of people are just looking for fame, recognition, and cash. And in the case of Long Life stealing my nanomachines, their lack of understanding of the underlying programming allowed me to go in and pull off some pretty scary shit. It took a few years of testing, trials, production, and distribution, but it was worth it.

Dr. Snugglesworth decided a trip to see that prominent citizen, who he said I’ve seen before: the jovial fellow in the shiny new truck. William Offwright. His superhero identity was not very well-hidden. We walked into an office seemingly carved out of one giant piece of oak and adorned with flags and patriotic memorabilia. A starred and striped mask sat on the desk next to his nameplate. “William Offwright – Bill Of Rights.” In one corner of the room was a display case with his gaudy costume, a silver eagle forming armor across a chest covered in stars, stripes running up the legs of pants that must be incredibly tight.

“Snugglesworth, and the Unicorn Goddess, my my!” He stood up, beaming, and gesturing me forward. He reached a hand out. “Nice to meet you at last. I hoped you’d be interested in our project here. You know, being a part of this would be a huge boon to us. We could even build you a temple if you’d like.”

He really laid it on thick, but Dr. Snugglesworth let out a noise like he was hacking up a hairball. Bill looked down at him, concerned. “Are you alright? Can I get you some water?”

“I was just clearing my throat, William. This isn’t a social call. As you know, the Unicorn has appeared at my farm a couple of times now. Perhaps you’ve heard there were problems with my efforts.”

“You told me the destruction of the first crop was necessary and the problems would be worked out in time for a second,” Bill said.

The cat shook its head. “That was a lie. You know it. I can smell the nightcrawler castings on your shoes. You were out at my house today and you sabotaged the weather control device.”

“Damn your cunning nose, Dr. Snugglesworth,”Bill said. He held up his hands. “I had to be sure all of the peppers would be destroyed. I know where you got them from. I was there! If anybody looked into them and found supervillain hanky-panky, it’d set the whole town back. I thought a town of superheroes could handle the resulting problem. Mel, I’m sorry. We’ll figure something out, but we can’t let it get out that you got rich off what you stole from supervillains.” Dr. Snugglesworth avoided looking at him after that last bit, probably shamed by the reminder that his livelihood very likely caused people to stay trapped in a life of crime.

Bill took a break, then focused on me. “You understand, right, Unicorn Goddess?”

“Excuse me?” I asked.

“You’re a good woman and a hero. You understand. We all hide things and tell lies to maintain our cover. This is just like that. I mean, unless you inherited wealth, it’s damn hard to hold down a job and use our gifts to better the world.”

I was going to do a summation making it clear that I saw their theft, corruption, and willingness to risk innocent lives as no different than the supervillains they fight, but I decided to head back to the other reason we burst in here. “Where’s Agronomiser?”

“That’s right!” Dr. Snugglesworth backed me up. “You said you were taking him back to prison but he never went back to the prison he escaped from. I looked and there’s no official record of his recapture. What did you do to him?”

Bill opened his mouth, looking between myself and the cat, then said. “I don’t have to answer that. All you need to know is the world is safe.”

“That sounds like a murder,” I said. It wasn’t the biggest leap from what we knew. When people are disappeared and don’t show up for awhile, there are only so many potential fates. One of them is death. There are still women demonstrating in Argentina hoping to learn what happened to their loved ones who disappeared in a conflict that ended in 1983. And if I leverage the most extra thing Bill Of Rights did to Agronomiser, I figured he’d either give it away or he’d walk it back and tell me he “just” tortured him or something.

“It’s not a murder, nobody’s murdered!” Bill assured Dr. Snugglesworth and I. “But I’m not telling you. Take it from me by force.” He held his arms open wide.

“You want to take care of this one, Snugglesworth?” I asked.

“Doctor Snugglesworth,” the cat said. “I earned that degree. I will take care of this, Unicorn Woman.”

Yeah, I didn’t trust this shit. Instead, I shed some nanomachines with orders to hitch a ride and report back. I turned and walked through the door, and then through a portal back to my base. That was where I monitored them when Snugglesworth, figuring I was gone, said, “You’re right, William. I’m implicated in this, too. We will handle this internally, but we will handle this. Is Agronomiser alive at least?”

“Yes, Jesus, you think I’m some sort of murderer?” Bill answered. “I’ll even take you to him if you want.”

“Yes, you do that,” I muttered to myself. And then, just to sound badass to myself, I added, “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?”



2 thoughts on “Unique Problems 5

  1. Pingback: Unique Problems 4 | World Domination in Retrospect

  2. Pingback: Unique Problems 6 | World Domination in Retrospect

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