Spacer Aside
  | Asymmetry | Role-Playing | Villains & Vigilantes | The Revolution | Story So Far | Aside |





    Phoenix Talon had continued to split his time between tracking down the Toy Man (so far without result), working out his plan for the Blood Boards, and stalling Agglomerated MegaCorp's publishing arm on the action figure idea. He met with Sphinx and the Muse out at K. Robeson, having a few questions to ask about their old friend and comrade.
    "Hey, good to see you again." Once introduced to the pair after his return, he'd decided they were pretty cool (as he had Scott, once it became clear that the robot hadn't damaged any of his comic books while reading them).
    "How are you, my good sir, have a seat!" Larry greeted him expansively.
    Once the exchange of pleasantries had been completed, he gave them a full run-down on what had happened to him that strange day, and ended with a simple question: "Do you think this could be your old buddy? Or if not, do you think it could be someone with connections to him? What was the source of the Toy Man's power, anyway?"
    "Paul was a variant," Larry replied absently, deep in thought. "Some kind of psychokinetic energy manipulation; it was the 1940s and 50s, no one paid an awful lot of attention."
    "Now, he had kids and grandkids, right? I went to a variant studies program, can this kind of thing be inherited?"
    "Sometimes. But he has one daughter, who hasn't displayed any evidence of the ability, and two grandkids who are six and seven, which makes them unlikely candidates. As far as Paul himself... Paul is dying, he has neurological cancer from overusing his powers. You never met him, you weren't there for the... when he and James..." He couldn't help chuckling. "Sorry, I still love that."
    "The guy I saw was wearing battle-armor, it could conceivably have been a shell of some kind, a life support system? You never know."
    "Possibly," he shrugged.
    "Hey, I'm grasping at straws here," Phoenix Talon admitted.
    "I suppose there's a possibility of that," Sphinx said in his usual judicious manner. "But... it's a particularly unusual ability that he has, I haven't seen evidence of anyone else manifesting it. Which is certainly a strike in favor that it's Paul actually doing this. But on the other hand, ask your teammates—they ran into him just before the end, and he was... he was dying. He could only walk for short distances, he had emphysema on top of the neurological problems. He was not in good health. I'm assuming, if they were following standard supervillain modus operandi, they must have had a buyer arranged beforehand, sold the butterflies, split the funds up. I don't know what either one of them has done with it. If you're willing to employ K. Robeson Enterprises to do some research, I can try and find out, but I'll have to let you know, well... if it does turn out to be Paul, my heart won't necessarily be in trying to find him for you. I feel I have to be upfront about this. If it turns out be someone using Paul's name, that's a completely different animal."
    "Hm." Made sense. He decided to see if their unique perspective could be of use in another way. "Let me let you in on another suspicion I have."
    "All right."
    "Supervillain kidnaps a superhero. Puts him in a deathtrap, superhero gets out, almost escapes but gets captured again. Next thing superhero knows, he's back at his house and there's a tape of it on the evening news, sent by anonymous, of the superhero winning. Does that make any sense to any of you?"
    Larry frowned and said, "Well in a certain sense, you got out of the deathtrap—you won. He had to let you go, he was obligated."
    "But I lost."
    "That doesn't matter; you got out of the deathtrap," he repeated, shaking his head.
    "I see what you're getting at...."
    "In the Game, the rules are very specific. This was simply how we did things. If you got out of the deathtrap, you were free and clear."
    "That's another point in favor of it being your friend, because he's not acting like a rational supervillain would, and just kill me when he could."
    "Excuse me?" Larry looked direly offended. "I think what you're trying to say is not acting the way a modern supervillain would."
    "Yeah, they're more pragmatic."
    "They lack style." The Muse's classic profile wore a look of profound disdain.
    "Yeah. I agree with you totally," Phoenix Talon said to shut him up. "So anyway, Agglomerated MegaCorp, the comics guys, they're feeling us around. They're trying to put out a comic book about us, so I talk to them, I'm in their offices when I get blasted."
    "Yes, you mentioned this. I can set the scene easily enough," Larry nodded.
    "This thing happens, which is very comic-booky, by the way, and then it gets them loads of free publicity, because it's on the evening news. All the evening newses. So I'm wondering if they didn't set this up. Just a little too much of a coincidence, y'know?"
    Felix turned his chair and began clearing some space on the computer screen. "I doubt it was them."
    "These are the news reports from the time period that it happened and directly afterward. You can see Hasbro immediately started lawsuits, started being particularly upset, and tried to make claim against Agglomerated MegaCorporation. Why would they bring that down on themselves if they were trying to get publicity for themselves?"
    "Cause it's not gonna stick. That won't hold up in court, we had to take some law courses at the university, and y'know, I kind of paid attention. That even makes it more probable in my eyes, 'cause here I'm kicking butt on the competitor's product. They can't trace it back in any way."
    "So your argument is that it must have been them, because they wouldn't want people to think that you could beat up their action figures?"
    He tried to explain the way it really did make sense, but they still didn't seem to think it was likely, which was kind of frustrating. But at least talking over it had gotten things clearer in his own mind.

| Top | Back to Main Narrative


© 2000 Rebecca J. Stevenson