Saturday, October 31, 2015

Superpowers: The List (Part IV)

“France. The one country that only has nuclear weapons pretty much because everyone else does, and because they have the resources for a program. Theirs is the most secretive and fickle, however, what with them refusing to report numbers, supposedly constantly switching facilities, and rejecting a healthy amount of international law. The only reason they’re allowed to go on as they do is because they don’t actually do anything wrong. They get along with the rest of Europe, and the majority of the Confederacy. They don’t go around starting wars, and the amount of foreign aid they provide is surpassed by no other nation.”
“All is as your opinion dictates,” replied Ambassador Tamboli of India.
Governor Stockton continued, largely ignoring the ambassador’s remark. “It is for this that the nuclear disarmament of France is the trickiest. Pakistan was the most dangerous, since we had done nothing like it before, and it required the most troops of mine. China’s taken the longest so far, and the most resources. And Russia was just violent and stubborn about the whole thing. But it is France that will ultimately give us the most trouble, because they’re smart, and we will never really know if we’ve gotten all of them. Following the events of Pakistan, they immediately modified their tactics for their nuclear arms. They quickly developed an impressive strategy of compartmentalization. I knew they would do this, which was why I haven’t relied on intelligence that I gathered before the mission, but I also spent months debating whether I should start with them instead of Pakistan. In the end, I could not, because the backlash from such a thing would have been too great. I had a number of parties interested in disarming Pakistan. Even though these parties were not outwardly happy with having been lied to about the specifics, they were secretly relieved. France, on the other hand, belongs to a collection of extremely powerful allies. Disarming them will be considered an act of betrayal.”
“I should say so.”
“And because of all this, I will not be able to continue alone. I am forming a new alliance; one loyal to our cause. Only non-nuclear nations will be allowed into this alliance, and the list of potentials is large, so I will need help whittling it down to a manageable size.”
“I would imagine that the more the better.”
“One might think so, but it would actually benefit the cause to have fewer, tighter allies, than dozens of countries who each feel marginalized and misrepresented.”
“I suppose that makes a certain logic. Are you asking me to assist you with your special list?” Ambassador Tamboli asked.
“I am,” Stockton answered.
Tamboli sighed heavily. “That’s all you had to say. Don’t know why you felt the need to go into such a huge speech.”
“You’re a diplomat. Aren’t speeches your drug of choice?”
Now Tamboli ignored him. “Let us see the list.” She looked over the sheet of paper that Stockton handed her. “Why is India not on here?”
“I can’t picture a world where you are not part of this glorious alliance. I didn’t put you on the list, because I didn’t want to risk you crossing yourself from it.”
“You know that I’m just the ambassador, right? I’m not the avatar for the entire nation of India. You can’t flatter me into joining you.”
“Yes I can,” Stockton nodded.
“I am also happily married.”
He shrugged. “We’ll see.”
Tamboli sighed again and set to work on that list. She took a pencil and quickly drew squiggly lines through countries one by one, as if she had ruminating on the matter for days. “There.”
“I’m surprised you kept Sweden.”
“Their historically precarious relationship with the United Kingdom should prove useful to you. They have always been against nuclear weapons, and are only staying out of this conflict because they are terribly afraid of World War IV.”
Stockton nodded again. “That makes perfect sense. See? This is why I need you.” He looked back down at the list. “Why did you remove Switzerland? Do they not have the same stance on nuclear weapons as Sweden?”
“They do, but they also exercise a level of isolationism. Of your list, they are the most outspoken against your interference in the business of independent states.”
“I hadn’t noticed.”
“Have you been paying much attention to countries that you’re not currently focused on trying to disarm?”
“No, you’re right. I haven’t. Good point.” He looked to the list once more. Good points all around. I will not ask you about the others. I can clearly trust your judgment, sight unseen.”
“Again, no need for the flattery.”
“Your modesty knows no bounds.”
She laughed.
Governor Stockton spent the better part of a year cultivating relationships with the remaining nine countries on Tamboli’s list. While the first few stages of his mission involved relatively quick and decisive action, the next few nations needed to be dealt with delicately. The important thing about the alliance was that it needed to appear as if those were the nations who were agreeing to become part of it, rather than a set of enemies against other alliances. It needed to be more of a council, and less of a coalition. Instead of trying to use the alliance to make a play against France, he was actually intending to romance them into joining up and disarming themselves, much like India had. And it worked. It took a very long time, and as Stockton had pointed out in the meeting with Tamboli, they could never really be sure that they had cleaned them out entirely, but it did work.
France had a number of conditions, not the least of which was that they would act to destroy their stockpile on their own, rather than simply handing them over to Federama. The fact that Federama now controlled over 50% of the world’s nuclear armament had the potential to cause more problems than it was promising to solve. Federama, and the rest of the new alliance, insisted that they oversee France’s safe destruction of their bombs. Stockton’s plan relied on him having as many of the weapons to himself for a period of time, but Russia had probably provided him with more than enough to get his point across. And it just wasn’t worth bullying France into giving up on that condition.
When all was said and done, Stage Five of the mission was successful. Once everything was over, France as a whole seemed almost to smile, like an addict ceremoniously burning their drug stash. People were more surprised than they thought they would be about how good it would feel to be free of the burden. They didn’t feel vulnerable. They felt ready to move forward; excited for a future of peace and happiness. Stockton had succeeded in not only disarming another country, but in swaying the public opinion. No more were people angry about their interference. Though the governments of the UK, Usonia, and Korea showed no signs of relenting, the majority of their populace was in favor of it. And after enough time, that would be all that mattered. Yes, things were going well, but they were about to get bad. As Korea threatened nuclear war with Usonia, knowing that no one would be able to stop them, Usonia and the UK were only strengthened in their resolve to keep armed.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Microstory 180: Basil Ploutos

Basil Ploutos came out of a notoriously dysfunctional family. Ploutonic Enterprises was one of the largest and most powerful companies in the midwest, with major locations in Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Iowa, and Illinois. Many economists and other researchers complained that there was no clear vision, or focus, of the company. They had their hands in a number of different fields, including auto manufacturing, toy fabrication, medicine, military equipment, and even education reform. The founder, Basil’s grandfather, commissioned the building of a hotel in the middle of nowhere Kansas during a time of limited development. The company was already rather successful at that point, having disrupted many industries with innovative ideas. And so, the people around him just believed that he had some insight into the future of the region. He must have known that people would soon flock to the area, and that a perfectly placed hotel would be overrun with business. But then Leon Ploutos Sr. kept altering the plans for the building with strange ideas. The ballroom became the unusual focal point, with a seemingly pointless room coming off of it. There was what appeared to be a laboratory behind the kitchen. There was neither a front entrance, nor a lobby. And the dimensions of the ballroom prevented there from being a practical second floor. The project was ultimately abandoned before it was complete, and the reputation of Ploutonic Enterprises suffered for it. The company retained a healthy profit year over year, but experienced no significant amount of growth, and was no longer looked to for hints at where the future was going. The family’s legacy was apparently forever stained with labels of insanity and fantasy.
Leon Jr. took over the company upon the death of his father, and continued on the exact same path. His first born son, Rowan was a bit of a party boy, and used his riches mainly to get into clubs and attract one-night stands. Basil, on the other hand, had an amazing business acumen, and some interesting ideas for how to turn the company around and make it great again. Upon the advice of Adam Nicks, the hopeful founders of Bellevue approached Basil Ploutos with the hopes that he would fund their endeavors. They worked out a way for him to illegally funnel money from his company, and supply resources to Bellevue so that it could provide support for its members. Without this backing, potential recruits would have no incentive to leave their old lives behind and start something new. They set up shop in that infamous abandoned hotel. It was perfect for their needs, having been constructed away from the prying eyes of the public. And those unconventional designs proved useful on a number of unpredictable occasions, almost as if Leon Sr. could see the future. Basil grew prouder of his contribution with each day that passed, and though he had no special ability of his own, helped make the organization what it was destined to be. Ploutonic Enterprises was shut down not long after his death, but from its ashes rose a new company, one that used anomaly-inspired scientific breakthroughs to change the world for the better.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Microstory 179: Sara Medina

There was not much to say about Sara Medina. Sure, her life was full of pain, loneliness, and tragedy, but she didn’t do much. Her mutation was not useful for her daily life, and in fact made things beyond difficult. It had some potential applications in defense, but there were too many better and safer options to warrant too much study. And so she ended up being little more than a footnote in history. Sara’s mother died in childbirth; an outcome that was practically unavoidable. Growing up after that, she faced many challenges, including being resented by her father. Her skin was made of a strangely malleable kind of metal, which was what caused her mother so much stress while in labor. It was a miracle that either of them survived longer than the first few months of pregnancy. Sara’s skin was impenetrable, which made it impossible for her to receive vaccinations in the traditional way. Fortunately, her uvula was made of pure flesh, and acted as a surrogate for proper vaccinations. Unfortunately, however, this caused other health complications, because the uvula is not designed to take so much irritation. Sara’s father kept her away from the public eye as much as possible, but too many in and around Madrid discovered her condition too early. The difference in her physiology was too noticeable to prevent people from knowing about her. Her saving grace was that the mutant island holding Colton Underwood had recently been established, and so she was able to move there. She spent nearly her entire life there.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Microstory 178: Straton Giles

One thing about Bellevue was that it was conceived, not as merely a super team composed of people with special abilities, but as an organization. The purpose of this organization was not always clear, but its founder envisioned it being international, and used to help the world in a myriad of ways. That the majority of original members were anomalies was always intended to be more a jumping off point, and less of an archetype. The perfect example of the founder’s ideas was Straton Giles. He had no special ability, and was not related to someone who did. He had a prior relationship with Milo Chombers, but this was a coincidence that was not known to others until his first day. He was removed from prison by the powerful Basil Ploutos through a series of threats, legal loopholes, and fraud. The Keystone knew that if they were going to establish something that in any way resembled a law enforcement agency, they would need to learn unorthodox skills; bonus points for finding someone who didn’t need to be paid. Straton fell into a life of crime as a natural progression from living in poverty his entire life. He never hurt anyone, and he only ever stole from the corrupt, but the older he became, the bolder he became. It was only a matter of time before he was caught, and this happened about a year before Bellevue’s founding. He kept his head down while locked up, and didn’t start trouble with the other convicts. He was actually friends with Hector Cubit; rather, he was as close to a court marshall as a criminal possibly could be. There was some resistance to Straton joining the team from its other early members; especially Cosmo Drexler. Jaklyn Simonds was ordered to lock him in the astral plane every night, which was impossible to escape. But he eventually endeared himself to the others, and proved himself worthy of being part of the group. Though his position was later replaced by more educated professionals of the non-academic fields, he worked well as a proof of concept, showing that learning street skills was just as important as understanding how anomaly abilities worked.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Microstory 177: Generosity Larkin

Many years before the anomalies were first activated, there was a civilization just chock-full of people with special abilities, and they were no secret. These had more to do with the mind, and less to do with genetics, which was why they presented much sooner, even though the ancient science experiments were all conducted around the same time. There was a rivalry of sorts between the scientists from each group, and they came up with a bet: develop a human with the ability to provide energy for those around them. The others succeeded in their quest on a more massive scale. Once this ability came to pass, people with it were often hired, not for military or productivity purposes, but for parties. They were provided with a bed in the corner of the room, reading material, all the food they could want, and a caretaker. They kept the party-goers’ energy up, and the fun going all night long. But there was only so much energy these special people could store and donate, which was why they remained in a bed, with tons of food, and sometimes intravenous fluids.
Anomaly Generosity ‘Jen’ Larkin, cousin of Helen Larkin, had this same ability, but with limitless power. In fact, even though the abilities of the first kind were widespread, the majority of them were common, and in fact, rather mundane. Anomalies were rare, and infinitely more powerful, by most accounts. Jen could convert energy tapped from simplex dimensions, and use it to maintain her own stamina, much like Tamra Shore. But unlike her, she could also initiate this process in those around her, which meant that simply being in a room with her made you more energized and alert. The more she learned about herself, the more powerful she became. Her power increased so much that she was nearly able to provide energy for the daily lives of an entire small town. She died too young, but she was able to contribute immensely to a number of different scientific fields, and changed the game for how the world generated energy.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Microstory 176: Tamra Shore

Until someone else was discovered to be slightly older, it was believed for a long time that Tamra Shore was the very first anomaly to have been born. That is, besides the long-running Generation Twos that preceded Dores Roach. Tamra was born in Stanton Parish, Louisiana in 1886, and appeared at first to be a normal child. But the older she became, the slower she aged. She looked like a regular infant, but then she looked a little young for her age, and then she looked suspiciously too young. By the time she hit sixteen, it was practically impossible to get people to believe that she really was an adult. There are a number of reasons for Tamra’s semi-immortality. She can accumulate a seemingly infinite amount of energy through simplex dimensions. Her body is in constant flux, allowing her cells to replicate quickly and subsist on dead cells with a more complex and efficient system of macrophages. Basically, her body is perpetually dying and recycling itself so that it never has to quit. Tamra’s brain processes data more efficiently as well, allowing her to remain awake and alert 20 hours a day, ten days a week, with no need for sleep. Lastly, she stopped needing to eat right around the time her mother weaned her off of breast milk. She was one of the very first members of Bellevue, which was surprising, since she was one of two anomalies who no longer lived by her original identity; the other being the one who found her. A couple of years into the program, a pathogen spread around Bellevue that caused abilities to turn against their user. Tamra’s cells continued to divide at a phenomenal rate, but this process was left uncontrolled, effectively giving her cancer. Fortunately, they had amongst them an anomaly with the unexpected ability to cure her. When this person was done, she began the long journey towards aging at a normal rate, but was able to keep a second ability she had been granted.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: April 22, 2046

Mateo’s birth mother, Aura was waiting for them, along with her love interest, Samsonite, and Leona’s half-brother, Theo. She stood in front of him patiently, unsure of how she should proceed. Mateo began to cry as he wrapped his arms around her neck. He needed his mommy. Leona and Theo moved off to have their own heart to heart. Mateo stayed in Aura’s arms, trying to tell her what had happened, about how he witnessed Leona’s and his father’s deaths, but he was shrieking and sniveling so much that she had trouble understanding him.
After several minutes of this, Mateo fell asleep, still on her shoulder. And when he awoke, she was still there. She hadn’t budged, and he was grateful. “I’m sorry for leaving you,” he said, having composed himself. “That was foolish of me. You were right. We need to stay as far from that man as possible. I don’t want to lose anyone again.”
She nodded and prepared herself to continue the deep discussion. “I need to ask you something very important, son.”
He pulled away and sat up so that he could look at her at a proper angle. “Okay.”
“For me, we haven’t seen each other in years. A lot has happened since then.”
He almost started crying again. “I know, I’m sorry. It won’t happen again.”
She stopped him, “I know, that’s not what I mean. Have you encountered a girl, of any age? Someone you didn’t know before, or maybe someone you did who you didn’t know was one of us?”
“Yes. The girl who sent me back in time. She was Reaver’s daughter.”
She frowned. “She wouldn’t be who we’re looking for. No...” she hesitated. “This girl would have Samsonite’s eyes.” She paused again. “And hair like mine.”
“Oh, mother.” He buried his face in his hands. “You had another child? I have a sister?”
“Somewhere. Aquila.” She smiled, but sadly. “She disappeared from us when she was only three years old. I have been told that that is how it works.”
“How what works?”
“Apparently, you’re not allowed to raise your own children if both you and your partner are salmon. They disappear on you, never to be seen again.”
“You and my birth father are both salmon. You didn’t do it alone, but you raised me for seven years.”
“I had not yet been activated when I had you. You’re not full salmon offspring, or whatever. No, I think they took me away from you just because they’re mean-spirited, not for the same reason they took Aquila. I think they do something with salmon children. I don’t know what, but the children might be the whole purpose of this parody of a life.”
“So, Leona and I shouldn’t conceive.”
She became even more concerned. “Have you been thinking about it?”
“No,” he replied honestly. “But we grow closer every day, and in the next 300 years, we’ll be all alone together. Once the three of you make the next jump, it’ll just be us.”
She nodded. “I don’t know what’s going to happen 300 years from now. Theo has pretty much stopped aging, just like us. But there’s no telling where we’ll go for our next jump, or if we’ll die before then. We have no control over our lives.”
“Yeah.” They sat in silence for a little while before Mateo fell asleep again.

When he reawoke, it was late in the morning. He found Leona still asleep and lied down next to her until she woke up herself. “Are you feeling better?” she asked.
“Are you?”
“I didn’t go through what you did, Mateo. I’ve only seen the one timeline. I never saw myself die.”
“Then I should be fine. You’re fine. You never died.”
“That doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.”
“You understand this time travelling thing better than me. Do those alternate timelines still exist? Are there multiple versions of us running around in parallel?”
“We don’t know. Present-day science has not caught up with time travel technology. They may never since the powers that be are powerful enough to stop every development. It’s possible that alternate realities run parallel to our own due to some kind of point of divergence. It’s also possible that there is a single master timeline, and all others are ultimately destroyed. It appears to be our job to create some kind of perfect reality, so my gut tells me the powers are only interested in having one reality at a time.”
“I see.”
“Would you rather there be alternate versions of us?”
“I’m not sure. A part of me wants there to be, to know there may be a set of us out there who are happy, but do I really want that? I think I would be uncomfortable knowing a version of me has a better life since it implies a version of me has a worse one.”
“In the end, my love, we cannot worry about what might have been. This is where we are now. I know you think you have no control. But you do. Just the fact that your father was sent back to stop the Reaver from killing me, but failed, proves it.”
“How so?”
“The powers that be would have us believe that they control everything, but they were so hopeless in that basement that they were forced to send one of their own to clean up their mess. I don’t know where their rules come from, but they were obviously technologically capable of simply whisking us away from Reaver to protect us. Why didn’t they?”
“Maybe they’re just middle management.”
Mateo’s head hurt, so he changed the subject. “My mother and I didn’t talk about it. Did Theo tell you where they’ve been living?”
“They moved around a lot, living as rustically as possible. They stayed quite a long time in the mountains of Kentucky once your sister was born. They decided to contact Ulinthra after Aquila’s disappearance since she was her only way to find us.”
“I have another time travel question.”
“Go ahead,” Leona replied, already used to him needing things spelled out.
“We’re not necessarily looking for a 3-year-old. The next time we see my sister, if ever, she could be an old woman.”
“There was this girl at the funeral. She was really close to Daria’s nurse. Did you notice either of them?”
“I did not.”
“My mother said that Aquila looks like her and Samsonite, and...”
“And you think this girl at the funeral might have been her?”
“I doubt Aura and Samsonite would have noticed her, but they must have seen her six years earlier in The Constant, ya know when I had to escape from Reaver’s facility?”
“I don’t know, your mother was pretty focused on you.”
“Did you ever talk to that girl?”
“I didn’t. She wasn’t there when we jumped out of the timestream, but I obviously wasn’t really paying attention.”
“From now on, we need to take note of every single person we encounter. It could be someone trying to kill us, or just a child passing on the street. We have to remember everything.”
“Agreed,” Leona said. “Which means I’m going to need you to do your absolute best to draw the face of that man who stabbed you in the other timeline. There is a near zero percent chance we don’t run into him again.”
“No need,” Harrison said, coming into the room. “I can interpret his thoughts and convert them into a readable image. It’ll be the last thing I do before going back to my boss to see if I’ve been fired or not.”

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Superpowers: I Have a Plan (Part III)

Though Federama was governed by a single system, and everyone within the government was on board with Governor Stockton’s vision, not all citizens were. Roma Tanner, the de facto leader of a coastal city was the primary voice against the mission. He had not been elected to any position, but he was the owner of a variety of different small shops, so many looked to him for general guidance. Every single day since the beginning of Stage One, Tanner requested audience with Stockton. His family had immigrated from Russia, which would very obviously be the focus of Stage Three, so his urgency was growing. Following the completion of Stage Two, Stockton was feeling comfortable with his position, and finally called for a meeting with Tanner.
“Why have you been avoiding me?”
“I’ve not,” Stockton promised him. “I’ve been busy, with obvious crises.”
“Yes, I’ve heard. I’m here to discuss some concerns. I’m not happy with you threatening the lives of my brothers and sisters around the world.”
“I’m not happy with it either,” Stockton agreed. “I felt I had no choice. If they don’t think we are capable of protecting ourselves, then we encourage them to come after us. I’m not the one who invented mutually assured destruction.”
“This isn’t mutual. Every time you take their weapons, and keep them for yourself, you are succeeding in increasing your own.”
“I have a plan.”
“I know. I’m trying to tell you that it’s not working.”
“No, I’m not talking about the plans to disarm the world. That’s going swimmingly. I mean I have a plan for what to do with the weapons once I’ve collected them all.
“And so what is it?”
Stockton took a sip from his tea. “I’m afraid that such information is known only to myself.”
“You’re telling me that your lieutenants and subordinates follow your ambitions blindly, without even knowing how it ends?”
“They trust me. You should too.”
“No, I should not. Your threat of nuclear retaliation is not working. All signs point to the very real possibility that Russia is calling your bluff and is planning on deploying missiles against us.”
“I have a contingency in place if this were to happen.”
“And I suppose you’re not going to tell me that either?”
“You would be correct.”
“You couldn’t possibly have enough spies in Russia, like you did with China. Their recruitment program is notoriously difficult to get through. The statistics on failouts are staggering. No one really knows what happens in the spy world, but it’s a common rumor that Usonia has been trying and failing for years to embed spies in Russia, or at least informants.”
“I don’t have any spies,” Stockton answered with a shrug. “But I have intelligence. I know where most of their weapons are. We’re still working on it. I would have liked more time, but these are the cards I was dealt.”
“No, Stockton, that’s not true. You’re the one dealing the cards. You’re the instigator of all this. And you have to stop. It’s only going to get worse. Usonia has the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons, by an astronomical margin.”
Stockton chuckled. “That’s funny what you just said there. It’s not funny now, but it’ll be funny later. Trust me.”
Tanner ignored his remark. “What are you going to do when you inevitably reach the Stage for Usonia? They’re going to be the hardest.”
“Yes, they are. But that’s why I’m holding off on them. I’m hoping after I’m finished with France and the U.K., they’ll choose to disarm themselves.”
“That’s not going to happen. No one is going to do that.”
“We’re already talking to India about it.”
“Yes, they intend to disarm of their own accord. We’re just discussing specifics.”
Tanner seemed genuinely impressed with this, even knowing how supportive India had been throughout this whole endeavor. “Either way, that’s them. What about everyone else?”
“I’m handling each nuclear nation differently. I have considered all of the angles. Every single point of retaliation or resistance, I’ve planned for it.”
“I am a point of resistance, as are my constituents. Have you planned for us?”
“Indeed. In fact, I was putting off this meeting so that you can be here on this specific day. What you said about Russia is true, and will mark a turning point in our grand mission. We have been monitoring their communications, and we believe that they are about to, as you said, call my bluff very soon. Within minutes, actually.”
“Well, what are you going to do about it?”
“I have a plan.”
“Stop saying that!”
Stockton shrugged again. “It’s true.”
“It’s also meaningless to someone as ignorant on the matter as I am. If you want me to trust you, then read me in.”
He shook his head. “The only way I know that I can trust you is if I don’t read you in. You have to make the decision yourself.”
“What does that even mean?”
“You will soon have a choice. You can either push the button, and show me that you love your constituents, or you can do nothing, and risk not only this mission, but the lives of everyone you know.”
“I don’t understand.”
Governor Stockton’s special red phone rang. “Ah, here’s the call now.” He answered. “Yes, Mister Lazarov. What do you hear from the airwaves?” He waited for a response. “Are you sure?” He waited once more. “Have they already deployed?”
Deployed?” Tanner repeated. “What’s happening?”
Stockton placed his hand over the mouthpiece and whispered, “Russia’s gonna nuke us.”
“Thank you very much, Radimir. My love to your family.” He hung up and walked over to the other side of the room.”
“They’ve already sent a missile, haven’t they? We have to get everyone to the bunkers.”
Stockton unlocked a cabinet and pulled a drawer from it. There was a single mauve button on it. He simply presented it to Tanner, as if trying to sell him a car.
Tanner jumped up and pushed the button without hesitation. Sirens went off across the entire island. Everyone and their mother was headed for safety in the bunkers below. “Is that going to be enough? Will the bunkers keep them safe?”
“Some of them, yes. The coastal bunkers couldn’t be dug too deep, but the Russians are almost certainly aiming for the center. For the people there, probably not. The Amadesins built the bunkers to protect themselves from that day’s technology, not today’s.”
“This is crazy!”
“I know. They’re all so shortsighted.”
“No, I mean what’s happening right now! The Russian missile will be here in, what, thirty minutes?”
“Closer to twenty.”
“You did this!” Tanner screamed. “You put us all in danger, and now it’s coming to fruition. Was this your plan? To have everyone die? I imagine you have a bunker that goes down a thousand sheam. You and your friends will be safe, while your country burns around you.”
“Nonsense,” the governor replied. “I’m staying right here.” He fiddled with a few instruments on the console. “Remember when we renovated my office a few years ago? I had to lobby for the tax money, even though it was seemingly frivolous?”
“Yes, as I recall, that was the first time we heard you say, I have a plan.”
“Well, I’m sorry to inform you that the renovation was mostly frivolous.” He playfully finished the sequence of commands on his instruments. The ceiling above them began to open up. “I couldn’t pass up the chance to have the best seat in the house. There’s no way I’m going down to a bunker.”
“We’re in the middle of the island,” Tanner said while watching with interest as the ceiling continued to disappear. “It’ll fall right on top of us.”
“It’ll try.” He casually placed his sunglasses on his face.
After the ceiling was finished, a set of television screens rose from the floor, cycling through security footage from around the island. Stockton was not lying about having technology beyond the day at his disposal.
After time, the screens showed that no one was left on the streets, or even above ground level. “Tell me your plan,” Tanner insisted.
“I need to know if I can trust you. I’ve told you this.” He unlocked a second cabinet, and released a second drawer. A yellow button this time. “Push this. I’m not going to tell you what it does. But I can tell you that it will surprise Russia like none other.”
Tanner hesitated. “I can’t. I would rather die than send a barrage of missiles towards my enemies.”
“So you agree? My vision is right and good.”
“I didn’t say that.”
“And I didn’t say that the yellow button would deploy a missile.”
The security screens transformed to show the perspective of a single camera, each one revealing only part of the picture. The missile from Russia was on its way.”
“It’s your choice, Roma. Are you going to push the button or not? You have to decide in the next minute or two.”
Tanner stood there, stunned and sweating. He desperately exchanged looks between the yellow button, and the security screen. Fearful and feeling no other way out, he reached over and smashed his hand into the button. It opened a secret door from the bookcase. A woman came out of it. “Really, Stockton? Those theatrics? I say...”
“I knew you would come out on your own, in plenty of time, if he ended up not pushing it. You are nothing if not reliable, Mrs. Blackmore.”
“What’s going on?” Tanner cried.
Stockton handed Tanner a pair of sunglasses. “You might want these.”
Mrs. Blackmore walked to the center of the room and lifted her arms. The security camera became useless as they could now see the missile headed towards them with their own eyes. Tanner continued to sweat. A magical yellow light came out of Mrs. Blackmore’s hands and shot towards the missile. It overcame the deadly weapon, and in one bright flash of light, disappeared it.
Tanner removed his glasses and continued to stare as the yellow light faded away to reveal blue skies. “What the hell was that?”
“Oh yeah, you should know,” Stockton said with a smile. “Superpowers exist.”