PLEASE NOTE: This is part 8 of the story
I left Atlanta before the Supeheroes took over the world. First I moved the greater New York City area, which, after the takeover became Fille de Pouvoir Land, a vassal state consisting of Newark, Manhattan, and Connecticut, shepherded by a smokin’ hot chesty blonde in a low-cut white leotard with a thonged butt and no shoes at all. I don’t know why, but the barefoot thing was quite the turn on. Supervillain activity grew worse, so I left for Dahlonega, since I had family there, and not a moment too soon: the Punster blew up the city. Fille de Pouvoir herself survived, of course, with a kicky new ‘do to indicate her mourning for the lives lost.
Eventually, the super villainy thing got so bad in Atlanta that they moved all the ‘civilans’ (Read: Mortals) out of the city. Atlanta remained common territory, a meeting grounds for all the supers. After a big protest and some resistance to the forced relocation, they just decided to move us all of us Georgians to the planet Venus. Fortunately, Venus had been retconned by this point.
I got a temp job working at a Venusian gas station on the outskirts of Nyarlethholethboleth Shibop, a thriving metropolis of five million Venusians. Venusians look pretty much like Gumby from the old Art Clokey shorts, only people-sized. And they’re shape shifters, too. Ever wonder what the Venusan Vigilante looks like when he’s not in human form? He looks a lot like Eddie Murphy pretending to be Gumby on Saturday Night Live.
It was a terrible job, and Venus was a terrible place, but I learned some interesting stuff there. I learned that the whole ‘superhero’ thing wasn’t new, for instance.
Once upon a time, humanity had been a hermaphroditic quadruped species, and fairly advanced. Advanced enough to start monkeying around with technology and genetics, and producing superheroes. They called these “Zeus” and “Hera” and “Helios” and so forth. We know them as the pagan gods, but in fact they were just an earlier cycle of supers, dammit. Doctor Ducaleon re-engineered the gods to have gender and only two legs, which was considered basically a matter of fashion at the time, and they assumed command of the world. The world resisted, so the superhero gods wiped them out, and then Doctor Ducaleon created *our* species from scratch and populated the world with us. The four-legged hermaphrodites were the ones that got wiped out of course, when Duclaeon started his own species, he decided to make them look like the gods. This was around the same time that Diana went from being a super villainess to being a good guy, and put the moon in orbit.
The history is all a bit fuzzy, but either some of the gods themselves rebelled, or else some of the new humans - our own species - turned to lives of super villainy and were successful, but either way the ultimate result was that the Norse gods managed to gain ascendancy over the Greek ones, and evidently the Greek gods are the same as the Vannir in Norse mythology. Eventually they all moved to Venus in an attempt to avoid Ragnarok, but I’m fuzzy on the details, and I’m even fuzzier on whether or not any of this actually happened prior to the retconning.
Venus was pretty as a daydream, but a horrible place to live, owing to the endless warfare between the Norse pantheon and the Greek one. Ultimately, one side or another got pissed off at a lack of enthusiasm from their worshipers, and they jointly decided to simply wipe out the whole species and start over again. Fortunately, someone thought to complain to the earth embassy in Byarlthorn Njebek City, and a few heroes were sent to escort us home before the genocide started. I presume the Gumby aliens are dead now.
It was then I met Blacknight, he was one of the people sent to rescue us, and one of only two heroes I ever met who was ever even remotely heroic. Of course he and Deadpan were entirely human, so perhaps that shouldn’t be too surprising.
Someone named Beauford and I have an argument about weather or not we’re leaving Deadpan behind. I say we’re not, and the guy cold-cocks me with a lucky punch. I go down hard, and by the time I get back up, he’s broken the old man’s neck. It fixes. Beauford breaks it again, and again, and again, and again, but it won’t stay broken. All he’s doing is torturing the old man, who screams like the baby he is, and Beauford gets so freaked out by this that he just starts crying and punching the ground.
We don’t have time for this. I toy with the idea of killing Beauford, but he’s beyond horrified, and I think he’s learned his lesson. Part of it, anyway. The trick is that Deadpan has gone past his maximum age of a hundred or so, an is now aging down again to his newborn state. Since he’s getting younger, any damage he takes just instantly heals. I sighm head over, and coochie-choochie-coo the former swordmaster until he calms down, and starts giggling, and then I carefully pick up Beauford, who fully expects me to kill him. And maybe I do too.
But I don’t. I look him in the eye, and I say “We are human beings. That used to count for something. We can’t kill Deadpan, I don’t think it’s possible for him to die anymore, and we will not leave him alone, lost, confused, frightened, all by himself, ok? You don’t just abandon a baby, no matter the cost. We will not do it. We paid too much in blood to get him back, and it would cost even more to leave him behind. We still have our humanity, that’s all we have left, and if taking care of that thing that Deadpan’s become is the price of maintaining it, we’ll do it, ok? And if we die because of it, we die as men and women, not as savages. Do you understand me?”
He nods, and wipes at his bleary eyes, says he understands, but I know he doesn’t. Hell, he probably didn’t know half the words I used just then. But whatever, crisis averted.
I go back to tearing a few pages out of some of the books I took from the comic shop, and scribbling a few things down. When I’ve got what I need, I carefully burn the books and chuck ‘em down the storm drain. I explain my plan to Ivan and Homer, relying on Homer to remember it and explain it to Ivan as the need arises, and then I give them most of the items out of Blacknight’s utility belt. I keep the belt for myself, though, and one or two other things. I tell them to go on and do it, and they hesitate, then, awkwardly the two of them hug me, and suddenly I’m blubbering. I go over to Deadpan, who’s about sixtyish now, and smelling terrible, and I coochie-coochie-coo him one last time. “Daddy loves his baby,“ I say, “Who’s good baby are you? Are you mine? You’re mine, aren’t you?“ His eyes focus and clear, and just for an instant there’s something in them - recognition? - then it’s gone, and he’s a blubbering geriatric infant again. Did he know me, just for a bit there? Is there still a glimmer of him inside that weird body? Is there hope for him? For us? Probably not. Probably not. Emotions are ragged on this end of history. I’m just imagining it.
I give him a kiss on the forehead, and the others carry him away. In the end, Ivan and Homer and the rest do what they’re told. They go in to the MARTA terminal, and disappear into the tunnels.
I hold on to a couple of the torn pages, and think really hard, really really hard.
To Be Continued...
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