|The Utility of Supervillainy|
As I threw the shrunken golden cherry tree into the corner of the yard where I'd recently been grazing I knew that the Silver Vixen wasn't in. Guess she was off on patrol again -- at least she didn't tear up the buildings as she jumped from one to the other like The Aphid did when he patrolled The City two blocks over. Nickering, and dousing the fiery mane that always wanted to surround me, I clopped into the hallway of the ancient townhouse that was all the Silver Vixen had managed to rent. And all because of money! Well, hopefully I'd taken care of that. The park attendant had driven a hard bargain when I asked permission to chop down the cherry tree and drag it off -- it'd taken all the money I had left over from my account after paying my way down here to Metroton from New York. Transmuting it had been hard too -- there were enough molecules there but it took an incredible amount of effort to mentally squeeze them together so that they were gold. There was a bit of left over and I'd just kicked that into a public waste receptacle in passing. As far as I could tell they weren't dangerously radioactive and even if they were, all that would happen was that somebody would have a radiation accident and THEY'D probably come out with a good name.
I pushed the door shut with my mind and clopped across the swept floor, which REALLY needed to be washed, raising a faint cloud of dust with every hoof step. Enough of that! A mental shove and the wood was as clean as if it was still part of the tree, and what passed for a lawn outside (it tasted very bitter because of too much fertilizer) got a thin layer of dirt. Everybody's happy. Stopping in front of the couch I stopped, peered at it for a second, and then decided to just lay down in mid air and watch TV -- much safer. Reception wasn't very good and all I could end up with was watching an old re-run of 'My Little Pony' where a poor dejected black pony that had been picked on by all of his friends was being shown the pleasures of sharing and at the end that pony's openness and kindness shamed his herdmates into being friends.
I found the whole thing curiously comforting.
They had just started the opening credits of 'The Adventures of SuperAccountant and his faithful sidekick Double-entry', an old black-and white series from about 1953 when a sudden newsflash broke into the program.
"Newsflash! The notorious Supervillain UTILITY has been sighted at the local cement works. He has already neutralized The Aphid. It is recommended that everybody seek the anti-origin shelters before..."
I was off! "This looks like a job...for Su..." I bit almost through my tongue to keep from saying that damned name as I changed the molecules of the clothes I was wearing into the required skin-tight bright burgundy body suit (it went well with my gray hide) and sped off and... through the door. "I've got to remember to open that next time. Maybe Silver Vixen won't notice?" I sent her a mental call to let her know where the crisis was and then it was across the skies, faster than a speeding bullet, outshining the sun itself with the radiance of the fire that sheathed me and stretched out from my back like wings of flame!
A black silhouette of a furred vixen undulates erotically across the screen from left to right, covering the flying silhouette of SuperMare with the aerial scene of the cement works. The only sound heard is a wolf whistle.
The factory complex was a shambles. Half the buildings were just ruins, and another third showed signs of damage. A mental search revealed a total of two trucks that were not in the demolished areas, and a number of active minds, though one felt oddly wrong. I wasn't sure why. It looked like all the civilians had gotten to shelter. In a second I was there, hovering above and looking down on the horrific scene. There were two trucks -- one loaded with black metal robs tied down with chromed chains, and the second being loaded by a number of thugs in black skin-tight bodysuits wearing horse heads. Standing in the appropriately dominant position was a man dressed in a green body suit with brown helmet, belt, boots, and gloves. He was wearing a utility belt and carrying a billy club and a big bulky weapon. A few feet away was the form of The Aphid entrapped in a glowing net that sparked with energy. As The Aphid struggled, his blue body suit showing his muscles quivering with the strain, the net sparked and tightened further. If the Aphid was here, then where was his...ah! Thomas, The Aphid's sidekick, was also trapped in a net but he wasn't struggling and the sunlight glimmered prettily off his multi-coloured butterfly wings.
I waited in front of the sun, giving off enough light to cast no shadow, while the required soliloquy went off.
"Ah hah, Aphid! It is I, Utility, who has bested you. I carefully researched your secret weakness and made my weapons to take care of both you and your sidekick. All the superpowers in the world cannot defeat the world's greatest superweapon, the human brain!"
The Aphid's only reply was his famous cry as he struggled harder: "FORK!"
Who was this masked man? I pulled out my latest edition of 'Classic Enemies'(1) and looked for Utility. Fortunately it was organized alphabetically. I'd almost found the entry when he noticed me.
"What's this! Another pathetic creature with super powers dares to match itself against the might of the human brain?!"
I stopped and looked down at him as he adjusted something on his helmet and a visor slid down. "Ah hah! It is the feeble creature..."
"Don't say it!"
"...known as SUPERMARE! Supermare, you are no match for the awesome powers of the human brain!"
Dear god, he said it! I looked away in embarrassment for a second before remembering my duty. I snorted and then replied in a plain monotone: "Yes it is I, the mighty superhero of THAT name, and I will stop you."
"You cannot stop me!"
I watched him adjusting switches on his bulky weapon before I asked, "Why are you stealing cement? Wouldn't it be cheaper just to buy it or something?"
"Buy it?! Utility never 'buys' anything! Utility takes!"
Fiery heavens, one of THOSE. Well, the interviews I'd read before my transmogrification always mentioned that it was best to know about one's foe before entering the fight, so I ignored him and continued leafing through my copy of 'Classic Enemies' until I found him. "Let's see here..."
"Pay attention to me damn you!" Then I heard a loud whine and his weapon fired, sending a burst of nova-like light against my psychic shields where it bounced, reflecting down onto one of the undamaged buildings which then exploded, resulting in a rain of rubble upon all of us. Poor Thomas got hit in the head and knocked unconscious.
"Don't just lay there, Thomas! This is no time to catch up on your beauty sleep! FORK!"
Let's see now. Fascinated by superheros and villains; rich; bought lots of equipment; likes outsmarting supers...
Another shot, another ricochet, and the last untouched structure went up.
...like's to exploit weaknesses; martial arts; various devices built as needed...
Some more adjustments, and this time an energy net came up and wrapped itself around my psychic screen where it started sparkling and trying to shrink but just resulted in stretching its fibres tighter and tighter as it tried to make use of the energy it had drained. I barely noticed as I continued my reading.
...a couple hunteds, standard secret ID, overconfident. I closed the book and put it away. "You can't hurt me you know -- you aren't even in the same class. Now if you release The Aphid and Thomas, and put back all the iron and cement, I'll let you go."
"Never! I'll beat you! You have a weakness, EVERYBODY has a weakness."
"Why ARE you stealing cement anyway?"
"Because I can, and you can't stop me!"
I let out a nicker and reached out with a fiery head and grabbed him in fiery teeth and pulled him up next to me. At that point the lackeys started running, so I transmuted the nets holding The Aphid and Thomas to felt and concentrated my attentions on Utility. The fibre structure of the net he'd fired at me finally broke down and the shriveled remnants drifted down, bursting into flame from the unused contained energy.
In the distance I heard, "FORK!" and the sounds of people screaming.
"Ok Utility, why are you stealing cement?"
He looked at me for a second, and looked away disdainfully. "I see no reason to tell you." Then he fired his weapon again, this time with a different kind of attack, but my psychic screens didn't notice the new kind of energy any more than the old.
"I guess it's traditional to do it the hard way." I squeezed a bit, and then with my tail lashing I dug into his mind. There were mental defenses, apparently created by his helmet, and rather than risking damaging his mind, I ripped off the helmet telekinetically and then he was an open book.
All two of him.
In his mind there was a nicker of disdain and then the presence was gone, too fast to be traced.
"Where am I?" Utility asked.
Apparently he'd been mind controlled. The question was who? I let go and he fell to the ground where The Aphid would take care of him while I pondered the problem. Hopefully The Silver Vixen wouldn't complain about the lost reward money, but if she did the cherry tree should more than make up for it. At least now I knew now why one of the minds had felt wrong; widening the radius of my senses revealed nothing that felt like the intruding mind, although I did sense the Silver Vixen and Red Kit approaching. I trotted over and landed in front of them and the bike and side care skidded to a stop, raising a cloud of dust that splattered off my psychic shield.
"Don't say it."
"Where are the evil doers?"
"It was just Utility - I let The Aphid deal with him."
Red Kit snickered and the Silver Vixen glared at her. "Well next time, WAIT! That's an order."
I started to reply appropriately, but then remembered the door. Better be nice -- when she saw THAT... "Sorry. It won't happen again."
"See that it doesn't."
"And Silver Vixen, I've taken care of the base funding problem you mentioned."
"I'll show you!" Then I swept up the bike with my mind and sped us all across the city...
A black silhouette of a furred vixen undulates erotically across the screen from left to right, covering the dusty ground outside the ruined cement works with the yard of the Silver Vixen's lair. The only sound heard is a wolf whistle.
...ignoring the windows I shattered during my flight and then landed and lowered the bike gently to the ground.
Silver Vixen looked like she'd fought a tornado and lost. All her fur was puffed up and yanked behind her, as though she'd been standing against a stiff wind for hours. Of Red Kit there was no sign. "What did you do?!" she screamed.
Ignoring The Silver Vixen, I looked around and then asked, "Red Kit?"
She jumped up from behind the bike, her fur blown back just like The Silver Vixen's! "That was GREAT! Can we do it AGAIN?!"
"No Red Kit, we canNOT do it again, and Supermare..."
"...here won't do it again either. Well she?"
I kicked the ground with one hoof. "No, Ma'am. But I did solve the funding problem," and I pointed at the shriveled gold tree.
The Silver Vixen walked over and tried to break off a branch but only bent it. "Is this real gold?"
She turned, rolling her eyes. "You know that there are still laws on the books against witchcraft, and stealing a tree and changing it could be counted."
I snorted. "I bought it fair and square, and even have a signed bill of sale. And I am not a witch, I am a Superhero." I whipped out the Bill of Sale and handed it to her.
"Looks in order." She pointed to the tree as she continued, "Can you convert this into a more portable form?"
"Sure." I began telekinetically carving up the tree and re-shaping it into appropriately sized gold bricks as the Silver Vixen turned and walked towards the door... Not the door! I gathered up all its the scattered bits and wrenched them back together and...
"AHHHHH! What happened to my door?!"
I galloped over and just stared. You know those pictures you've seen of the first birdhouse built by a four year old? The door looked like that. Exactly like that. A robin even landed on my muzzle and started chewing me out for supplying sub-standard housing (must have been a civilian who got caught in a superfight). Ignoring the bird I licked my lips before replying, "Well, I was in such a hurry to stop Utility that I, well, forgot. I tried to fix it..."
"I'll call a carpenter. This is coming out of your share of the reward money you know." Then she moved the birdhouse out of the way and walked inside.
I decided not to mention that The Aphid would probably be getting all the reward money. "Maybe I can take a course on carpentry...?" I asked as I followed her in.
Copyright 2002-2005 Michael Bard. Please send any comments to him at firstname.lastname@example.org