Secretly bugging heroes who have kidnapped at least one supervillain away to a secret prison. Just like old times. Too much like old times. Humanity’s learning, but I wish it’d learn faster. Just a reminder that I can’t kill my way out of every problem. I’d say I miss the godlike power, but I’m probably better off not having so much power.
No, I’m content to have the kind of power that lets me spy on a supergenius cat and a patriotic superhero, both of whom traveled from Unique, Iowa to West Virginia. The regular internet and cell signals are terrible there, but my tech doesn’t rely on that. They headed up to an abandoned mine. Plenty of those in West Virginia. A land pockmarked by humans seeking treasure that poisoned them. If you’re going to create a secret prison, it’s as good a spot as any. The fact it could collapse and is unhealthy just to live in wouldn’t much matter if you were building a secret prison in the first place.
I was able to follow their path into the mountains, finding exactly where to go, catching some of what they were talking about thanks to some hitchhikers in their ears. “Where did you get these automated defenses? Those turrets are…”
“Alien,” Bill of Rights answered. “I raided a salvage sight. The government has plenty of these. One or two missing is no big deal.”
“I counted six,” Dr. Snugglesworth mewed. “And these robots.”
“I confiscated a supply from a mad scientist. Agronomiser’s not the only prisoner.”
“How many?” I heard a weird mewl then.
“That many, and room for more. Each one is attended to by a system that keeps them paralyzed while dealing with their bodily functions. They get all the nutrients they need to live and the waste is disposed of. For their mental stimulation, and to keep them from breaking out, the headsets keep them in a virtual reality simulation where they have no powers, living a regular life and teaching them to be productive citizens.”
“What kind of productive citizens? What about individual nutritional needs? Do any of them have diabetes or gluten allergies?”
“There were hiccups at first, but I worked them out.”
“How many people died from your hiccups?”
“I did the best I could with the information I had.”
“You murdered them.”
“I didn’t kill them. They were accidental deaths.”
“Preventable deaths because you decided to lock them up. What is worth it?”
“Do you know why this city for us means so much to me, Snugglesworth?”
“Doctor Snugglesworth. What justification do you have for this?”
“The mass murder of so many people over months. Supreme Court Justices, Ex-Presidents, Senators, Representatives, cops, soldiers, doctors, teachers, mothers, even famous children’s book authors. I don’t know when it really started, but someone has murdered millions and made it look like accidents and medical issues. I’ve noticed patterns. Someone targeted them, someone like your Unicorn Goddess friend. Maybe even her. I’m lucky she’s losing her powers or she would know about this.”
“You’re doing all of this because of some conspiracy theory?” Dr. Snugglesworth sounded like he couldn’t believe it.
“I’m doing this because we need to stand together, with our powers, against someone who would go around and kill us. Some of those who died were heroes, good men and women. Heroes have to protect ourselves, otherwise who will save the world?”
“From what? What protects the world from this?”
“I can see you’re getting emotional, doctor, but remember what happens if I let Agronomiser go. He knows what we’ve done. Are you going to go straight now and let him go? Give up your patents and your fortune? Your good name? You can do so much more good.”
“I never meant to have a cost to what I do. You say he knows, then when are you letting him out?”
“When he’s the sort of person who wouldn’t hold it against us and would understand why we had to do it.”
“Would you? Could you? Could you ever have your life stolen from you like this and then thank the person for doing it because it was supposedly for the greater good?!” Dr. Snugglesworth was mad. One might say the genius cat was purrturbed.
“What are you going to do, Snugglesworth?” Bill asked. There was a pleading to his voice. Or maybe it was an edge. Emotions were easier to read when I was omnipotent.
“I don’t know, Bill. But I can’t support this. You have to see what’s happened here… you let this conspiracy theory turn you into this. You were a good man. Flawed like all of us, but now you’re locking people up and killing them. You call that protection? You can’t be a hero and do this.”
I have to give Dr. Snugglesworth credit. I didn’t think he would make a stand like this when he lied to get me out of the way and cover this up. Now that he’s seen just what this all means, he’s rejecting it. I don’t know if he’s been neutered, but the cat’s got balls. Big balls. Of yarn.
“What does that mean about us, doctor? I shouldn’t let you go either, but I know you’re a hero. We’ve worked together. We both share the idea about Unique,” Bill said. Sounded weepy there. I can’t fault him for that. If someone’s got actual principles, this is a hard conversation. The fact that I didn’t kill him in the Culling meant he had them, at least then.
“I can’t support you anymore. It might hurt the Unique Project… but if you’ve done it right, it will survive you. It has to, otherwise how would we ever hold anyone accountable for what they do wrong?”
Bill Of Rights sighed. “I…. can’t let you do that.”
“What are you going to do about it, William?” Dr. Snugglesworth asked. The cat then snarled. “Let me go! Not the belly!”
“I can’t have you showing your ass, Snugglesworth,” Bill said.
“Doct-!” Dr. Snugglesworth started.
I figured this would be a good time for divine intervention, or whatever I count as nowadays.
I appeared in full Unicorn Woman regalia, portaling in to see Bill Of Rights in full, gaudy costume, while skinny robots held Dr. Snugglesworth and were trying to shove him into a cat carrier. “There’s no need to fear, Mary Sue is here!” I declared.
“Unicorn Goddess!” Bill Of Rights said. He pointed at me with a laser pointer. Dr. Snugglesworth tried to pounce on the dot but a couple of nearby alien turrets aimed at me. The robots grabbing the cat hero dropped him to turn toward me.
The turrets fired blue balls of energy at me. Smaller portals caught them and delivered them right back into the turrets, blowing them up. The first of the robots that approached, I gored with my horn. I threw that one over my head and hoof-kicked another one so hard, its head twisted around 360 degrees. Another one tried to stab me. Me! Like blades can just stab me. The forearm-length blade stopped at my chest because even swords fear me too much. Plus, stab-proof skin. Fireproof, too, though I swapped out the asbestos long ago.
I grabbed the blade and broke it off, then pushed it through that robot’s chest. I slammed that one into another robot, then a third, and a fourth until they were all smashed against a wall with enough force to thin them out and finally impale the third and fourth on the blade.
When I turned around, a door was opening and a line of more robots marched in, holding rifles. My horn glowed and sliced across at torso level, melting a line through them. Bill Of Rights ran up and tried to sock me in the jaw then. I caught it on the cheek. Rather than turn the other one, I glared at him, then headbutted his hand. He backed off, holding it. I turned and slammed him with one of my feathery wings that knocked him off-balance. I kicked back behind me and through a portal. The hoof connected with his back and sent him sprawling.
Bill Of Rights caught a claw across his cheek as he scrambled to stand. He grabbed Dr. Snugglesworth, the impotently squirming and scratching supercat, and moved his arm back to toss the cat. That’s when he caught sight of my fist. He was too late to block with Snugglesworth. He went down, hold loosening on the cat as his brain’s hold on consciousness also loosened. I sent in the nanomachines to make sure he wasn’t brain-damaged and to keep him unconscious. Meanwhile, Dr. Snugglesworth tried to bite his nose for a few seconds before giving up, leaving not a scratch on the superhero.
The cat turned to me. “Thank you for showing up. You were spying on us?”
I shrugged. “You were both acting pretty suspicious.”
The cat glanced down at Bill Of Rights. “It was the correct call. I am sorry. You were right, about all of it. This has led down a route I truly never expected.”
“We both know that old sayings are no substitute for data and scientific experimentation, but they contain a measure of accumulated cultural knowledge passed on through time,” I mentioned to him. “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
The cat nodded. “Yes.” He padded toward the edge of the platform we were on, overlooking a bunch of clear plastic containers, just under twenty of which were filled with a green fluid and bodies floating in it. Despite what Bill said, they looked skinny and weak. Their muscles had atrophied from their time floating around not using them. Just releasing them would leave them in bad shape. “They’re going to need physical rehabilitation. I wonder how I provide for it without dumping them back into prison.”
“You don’t want to send them back?” I asked.
“They’ve been through hell. The way Bill talked, I don’t think he would ever have released them. They knew too much,” Dr. Snugglesworth said. He sighed. “I don’t like the thought of facing up to what I did. I realize that means I know it was wrong.”
“Yeah. Well, I can hardly talk about that. I know someone you should call about yourself. She might work something out for you.” I summoned a card with Medusa’s business number on it. “The Exemplars have resources to help with something like this.”
Dr. Snugglesworth took the card away from me with his mouth and dropped it to stare at the number. “If you don’t mind, I’ll have to call when I get back to my human suit. By the way, can you give me a lift? I can’t get William back on my own accord.”
With a wave of my hand, I sent Dr. Snugglesworth and the card back to Unique. William I kept with me, in temporary holding only. I flooded the mine prison with nanites to disable further defenses while giving Medusa a call to let her know. By the end of the day, the Exemplars were setting up an evacuation to get the prisoners to Radium for recovery and rehab.
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