“A week after the probing attack on the British Isles by the Red Army, what many expect to develop into the third world war has entered a new – and worrying – stage, as a coalition of various Sovjet metahumans from both side of the law have declared open rebellion against the remnants of the Red Council. Lead by the longtime member of the Foremen, Kopatel – also known as ‘the Digger’ – they attacked the temporary capital of the Sovjet Union, Saint Petersburg today, taking the Second High Secretary of the Red Council hostage and occupying the local government buildings…”
Basil and Amy watched as the news anchor rattled off the events. The revolutionaries had declared their intention to do away with the Red Council for good, preventing their resurrection. There was no information yet on what kind of follow-up government they wanted to implement, but their declaration of intent seemed mostly focused on them just taking down the council.
“Do you know why they do not talk about their actual goal beyond toppling the current rulership?” Basil asked his sister. She ought to know something, having been in Russia (and they would have a talk about her going off on such a dangerous job without telling him).
“Because they have none. Or rather, too many,” she explained as she ate chips out of a bag. “They’re not one group. They’re several distinct, even opposed groups of metahumans who are united solely by their desire to bring down the red council.” She finished the bag, crumpling it. “They’ll almost definitely turn on each other if they succeed.”
He nodded, focusing his attention back on the television (he had to upgrade it. The one they had at home was just a commercial model, utterly beneath his standards). There were some profiles given of the various metahumans and groups identified so far. Since he knew all about Kopatel (one of his personal favourite capes) and most of the others, he kind of spaced out while watching, devising the improvements he could make on the television whitout turning it into an obvious gadget. No Human Eradication Mode, then.
They saved the Devil’s Bride for last. Her profile was short, really. A (censored) picture – too many naked women out there, he thought surly; it was hard enough getting Amy to dress decently as it was, he did not want her to get the idea of doing away with clothes entirely (and she would, probably) – of a tall, slender woman with pure white skin and hair, the latter in a braid that was twice as long as she was tall. Her eyes were scarlet red.
Exact powerset unknown, but rumors from the other side suggested that she was considered an S-Class in the Sovjet Union and had evaded capture for two decades now.
“That’s bollocks, by the way,” Amy said. “The Sovjets class her as an S-plus meta.”
“What can she do?” he asked with a shudder. Not another one. That classification had originally been supposed to exist only for Desolation-in-Light. Then Emyr Blackhill – also known as the Godking of Mars – had been retroactively classified as an S-Plus threat. Then Ember had joined that list, and people had prayed it would stop there.
“She’s a… well, technically, she’s a power mimic,” Amy explained. Wait, was she not just using a British accent? “She permanently takes the powers of other people – by eating them.”
“Permanently? The whole power?” he asked. Nasty.
Amy slid over the back of the couch, cuddling up to him from the side. “Far as we could find out, she can only use three powers at a time, but it can be any power she’s ever eaten. Plus she’s got some kind of immortality going on – she regenerates slowly, but she can and has recovered from complete dismemberment and even cremation.”
“Oh, great. So she is basically a mini-DiL?” Just what we needed.
“Yup. She even manifested during a DiL-attack, back in the early days,” Amy said, wrapping her arms around his waist as she made herself comfortable. “Spent the last two decades roaming the lands eating people. Now, for whatever reason, she suddenly decided to involve herself in politics.“
Basil sighed, putting his right arm around Amy’s shoulders. What’s next?
* * *
An hour later, Amy had fallen asleep, drooling on his shirt. He did not have the heart to disturb her, even to just close her mouth. She had obviously tired herself out more than she had been willing to admit.
Besides, it looked utterly adorable. He took pictures with his cellphone, in case he needed some blackmail material.
Then he leaned back, switching through channels. He had never been much of a television watcher, all things considered. Daytime (and nighttime) television mostly bored him, except for a show or two every season.
Still, this was rather nice. Just relaxing on the couch with Amy. They had not done that since… well, since he had started building his base. Way too long.
So he just enjoyed relaxing, trying to ignore the ache that was still left after Gloom Glimmer had pretty much healed his entire body. Even with her power level, that had been draining. He still suffered from phantom pains every now and then, and a constant ache that had only gradually lessened over the last week.
Not to mention this damn headache.
That’s not from the healing, mate, the man in the moon spoke up. You’ve been overusing your power, over the last week, trying to make your stuff low cost and low maintainance.
I can not exactly not use my power, as you well know, Basil replied. And besides, unless I manage to do just that, then we will have to somehow make a lot of money in a short time. And I do not know how.
We’ll figure somethign out. Worst case, we’ll see about selling some of your stuff, or get ourselves a loan from A-
No. I am not going to rely on her for this, Basil cut him off decidedly. Setting aside the issue of me wanting to be independent from her on this, we are talking about money made out of criminal activities-
Which you obviously don’t object to enough to actually call Amy out, the man replied in something like a sneer.
What did you say? Basil thought angrily.
I’m literally talking right inside your fuckin’ head, he said, unimpressed. No way you didn’t understand me, matey.
Oi, don’t get me wrong. I totally get why you’re making an exception for her. She’s family. Only family, at that. Still, if you’re gonna ignore the fact that you’re currently cuddled up to a serial rapist and murderer, then I’m sure you can ignore that fact when you use her money to buy yourself some quality materials and equipment to work with.
Basil fell silent (mentally), looking at Amy’s drooling, sleeping face. He wanted to punch the guy in the face for calling her those things, but… well, he would have to punch himself, to do that. Also, he was right.
He had never really connected Amy to Mindstar’s deeds, not… not emotionally, at least.
I am a hypocrite, am I not? he asked. I go after criminals, but no one I’ve fought so far – not even Hastur or Panthera Rex – was half as bad as Mindstar, were they not?
The voice in his head replied, in a somber tone, It’s not so cut and dry, pal. She’s family. Everyone makes exceptions for family.
There is a limit to it, though, Basil thought. How can I call myself a hero, sharing a home with, cooking meals for and tolerating a… well, her? He could not bring himself to put those words to her himself.
Best to look at it from a pragmatic point of view – you couldn’t possibly fight someone as powerful as she is, and that’s not even counting in her allies or her boss. You’re doing far more good concentrating on badguys on your level, and providing her some human grounding. Who knows how monstrous she’d be if she didn’t have you to ground her?
Tell that to Amazon. Or that sorority at the East Texas University.
By all accounts, the girls enjoyed that night, came the reply. In fact, I believe more than a few of them have been trying to get her to come back, haven’t they?
And how much of that is their own will?
You know as well as I do that Amy couldn’t possibly mind control that many people over an extended period of time. Face it, sometimes, reality makes pornos look reasonable.
I think we have derailed this conversation.
Well, what are we supposed to talk about? Apart from lots and lots of naked girls having a night-long orgy? It’s not like you’re actually considering turning Amy in, or working against her. Even if you could, you wouldn’t and we both know it.
Basil turned the television off, falling silent. He looked down at Amy, gently caressing her flank. She smiled, closing her mouth and snuggling closer.
* * *
“I think it’s funny,” Irene said. “How you’re more nervous about this than you were about meeting my parents.” She was sitting on Melody’s bed, one foot drawn up to rest her chin on her knee as she watched her friend try and pick out a dress to wear. She enjoyed seeing her in her underwear more than she wanted to, but neither could she take her eyes off Melody’s backside as she bent over to rummage through her drawer.
Am I really that bad? Melody asked absentmindedly. Irene had grown so used to being mentally connected to her, her power did it pretty much automatically whenever they were close. I mean, I know was a mess when we had dinner with them… even though your mom was really nice, and your dad not as scary as I thought he’d be…
“Yep, you’re even more agitated now. And I did tell you that dad was just deliberately messing with you, right? He’s not actually that scary, at least not in private,” she admonished her friend.
I know, I know, but… I mean, he’s the Dark. I ate dinner with the Dark and Lady Light. How could I not be agitated? Melody asked as she turned to look at Irene, interrupting her search.
“Don’t think of them as the oldest and most powerful cape and cowl of the world. Just think of them as your BFF’s quirky parents.”
Yeah, that’s not gonna happen any time soon. Also, I was quite freaked out that your dad just showed me his real form. I mean, didn’t he go out of his way to destroy all pictures of himself?
“He did, except for those that belong to mom. But who’re you going to tell? Why would you?”
“Anyway, relax. This is your family. I’m sure they’ll be glad to see you,” a shadow passed over Melody’s face, “And I promise to not be naughty. C’mon, it’ll be fun!” She smiled for her friend, trying very hard not to use her power to calm her emotions. That would be wrong.
Melody took a deep breath (drawing Irene’s eyes to her bust for a moment, before she reigned herself in) and relaxed, fractionally. Then she turned back to her dresser drawer. After a few quiet minutes, she finally chose two dresses and presented them to Irene, holding them alternatively in front of her body.
One was a knee-length cotton dress in bright pink, to be worn with pantyhose beneath. No cleavage, long sleeves. It’d probably cling tightly to her body, but be thick enough to not show too much.
The other was longer, made of thinner blue material and clung tightly. The neckline was tame, but considering Melody’s bust size, that still put a lot of smooth, delcious f- Stop it, Irene. She’s your friend!
“Go with the pink one,” she said, hoping Melody hadn’t noticed the direction of her thoughts. Her power surged, confirming that no, she hadn’t. She was too nervous. “It’s more appropriate for a casual get together with family and friends. And it’s so you.”
Melody nodded and put the blue dress away. Then she pulled on a black pantyhose before putting the dress on. Irene clucked her tongue and stood up, helping Melody fix her hair again.
“It’ll all be fine,” Irene said. “We’ll meet your family, I’ll make your brothers drool, we’ll eat, make small talk, then go about our way. Relax.”
I don’t think it’ll be so simple, Melody said. I told you what they think of me, and what I do.
“I’m sure it’s not as bad as you make it out to be,” Irene replied. “I mean, my dad is the king of supervillains, and he wouldn’t ever be that mean to me.”
It’s kind of sad that the Dark seems to be a better dad than mine is.
“Oh, shut up!” Irene slapped her friend’s butt, making her jump up. Feels nice and so- Stop it, Irene! “Let’s go eat and have fun! Family awaits!”