as narrated by: Professor Lucas Winthrop Edgar Daft, Super Genius
The problem with being a mad scientist wasn’t heroes getting in your way. Everyone thinks that, but honestly without heroes the world would be a wreck. No the main problem with being a mad scientist was all the rivals you had to deal with.
I’d come to Brassport a little under four years ago. There had been a big ruckus, something about the city being mind controlled and a group of fledgling heroes defending it from an invasion of evil pixies or some such nonsense. I’m not the type of mad scientist to poo poo the idea of magic, far from it. It’s clearly real, and clearly a powerful force.
It’s just a useless one.
In the grand scheme of things I mean.
Yes, there are all sorts of “mystically powered” heroes (and villains for that matter). The reality though is that magic isn’t for everyone. Unless you had “the Blood of Atlantis” or “the Blessing of the Four Winds” or the right rabbit foot for all anyone knew, magic wouldn’t do a thing for you.
That’s why I preferred Science! Good, dependable Science! The benefits of Science were there for everyone to share. Unfortunately that also included people who were foolish enough to steal technology from their more brilliant peers and then NOT GIVE PROPER CREDIT FOR THE DESIGN!
It was that thought which had me grinding my teeth as I watched a Youtube video of the heroes Aegis and Thundercrash being captured by some idiot the media had dubbed “Doctor Wyrd”. The brainless news anchor had rattled on about the how the city had a dangerous new Mastermind to watch out for. Then he’d played a 10 second clip of the fight that showed Thundercrash being captured in a retrieval orb of MY DESIGN!
Since broadcast TV was worthless I turned to the internet and discovered that dozens of better versions of the video were available. They showed that not only had Thundercrash been swallowed by one of my retrieval orbs, Aegis had as well!
Watching the video for the first time left me filled with joy. I honestly hadn’t known whether the orbs would prove capable of capturing someone as powerful as Thundercrash, or if the shrinking field within them would work on someone as shielded from harm as Aegis was. As field tests went I couldn’t have asked for better results.
The problem was, they weren’t my results! Everyone was cheering the “Doctor Wyrd” for the breakthrough, when it should have been my name they were shouting! Worse, the videos would stand as “prior art”, which meant if I tried to file a patent for the retrieval orbs under one of my legitimate companies, the patent office would laugh me out of the building.
People are sometimes surprised at the idea that I have a few legitimate businesses in my portfolio. The truth is, sometimes crime really doesn’t pay and giant robots don’t grow on trees. Heavens knows I’ve tried but when all you have to form your computer chips out of is bark and leaves, well let’s just say you wind up with some real blockheads. And splinters. Oh god the splinters!
I watched the video one more time, frowning my most menacing frown. This “Doctor Wyrd” had no place in my town. I could leave it to the heroes to take care of him of course. They certainly wouldn’t be letting Aegis and Thundercrash languish in captivity. There were several problems with that though.
First, it was unlikely that they’d be able to capture “Doctor Wyrd”. Anyone smart enough to steal from me was smart enough to cover his tracks well too.
Second, even if they did manage to find and arrest him, it wouldn’t send the right signal. All the world would see is that it’s a bad idea to tangle with the heroes of Brassport. What was needed was an object lesson. The most important thing for the world to see was that it was a horribly bad idea to tangle with Professor Daft! Then, when I reclaimed the credit for the retrieval orbs, no one else would dare to use their design without my permission (which of course required paying a sizeable fee).
Even beyond the scientific and monetary acclaim though there was a matter of principle to consider. I just didn’t like “Doctor Wyrd”. He was an upstart, and a idiot. Robbing a hardware store? His scheme was so foolish he was making all of the rest of us mad scientists look bad for being in any way related to him.
“Nothing for it then, I’ll just have to destroy him.” I said.
“Shall I accelerate production of the hover tank squad?” Igor asked. Every mad scientist should have an Igor. Since living ones can be temperamental, I built one. No worries about loyalty when it’s coded into hardware your assistant is running on.
“No. I’ll need to deliver those to the buyer from the Five Dragons as planned. And I think this calls for a more personal touch. Prep the Safe Cracker.” I told him.
The Safe Cracker was a suit of giant sized power armor. Not quite a true giant robot as it was still controlled a single wearer but given that it stood nine feet tall there weren’t many people who would call it “tiny”. I hadn’t ever used the Safe Cracker for the purpose it was ostensibly named for. The fact of the matter was even cleaning out an entire bank vault wouldn’t pay for the repair bill if I got into a fight with the city’s heroes in the process. In this case however I was willing to risk a little “financial exposure” if it meant I’d be able to deliver my point to “Doctor Wyrd” in person.
Less than ten minutes later I was power boosting out of my lair via the aquatic exit that led to Brassport’s bay. One of the advantages of a proper suit of power armor is that they can withstand all sorts of environments. I hadn’t been able to take the Safe Cracker out as much as I would have liked and I found I quite enjoyed the underwater milieu as I flew under the waves. From the sunken pirate ships to the Atlantean consulate’s dome, there was a lot more to see beneath the waves than we ‘landlubbers’ usually noticed.
I ran a sensor sweep of the area looking for any hostile targets and noticed an oddity in the readings. There was a “void” on the ocean floor about a mile out to sea. It would have been a fascinating thing to study, but I was on a mission. No time to be getting distracted by Science!
To be on the safe side though I fired off a probe-bot to take some readings and report back to me later. Sometimes the greatest discoveries are made by serendipity.
I picked a spot across the bay from my lair’s entrance to exit the waters – no sense making it easy for someone to backtrack me.
The news report had said that after capturing the heroes and retrieving his fallen suit of power armor, Doctor Wyrd’s helicopters had “disappeared from the scene”. Authorities were baffled by this, because of course that sounds sensational, or it did thirty years ago.
Even a child of five would be aware of the obvious ways a helicopter could vanish these days. The two most likely candidates were some form of invisibility cloak or perhaps a teleportation device. Knowing that didn’t help the police though. They didn’t have anywhere near the budget to track either invisible or teleporting helicopters. I, on the other hand, did.
I arrived at the scene of the battle to the hushed awe of the crowds that were loitering in the area. I felt a tickle of delight bubble up through me. The Safe Cracker really was impressive to look at and I’d worked hard to make that so. It was nice to have my efforts recognized with the proper fear and respect.
“Doctor Daft! What are you doing here?” a young voice said from behind me.
“That’s Professor young man, Professor Daft!” I said, turning to see the hero Fire Forge flying at the same altitude I was in his own suit of power armor.
“Sorry, Professor. The question stands though. What are you doing here? Oh, and since I technically need to say it, you’re under arrest, in case that wasn’t clear.” the armored youth said.
“You do not wish to interfere with me tonight young man.” I cautioned him.
“It’s kind of my job.” he replied and I saw via my sensors that the weapon systems on his armor were powering up.
“Then you should find a different line of work!” I am not as gifted in the art of verbal jousting as some of my contemporaries are. Rather than pursuing training in stand up comedy I discovered another path to getting the last word in. In place of banter and clever wordplay, I carried a ludicrous amount of firepower.
Fire Forge got to experience what I called my “Plasma Comeback”, so named because it involved ending a conversation via a bath of white hot plasma fire. Unlike Fire Forge’s suit, the Safe Cracker did not need time to power up its weapon systems. The fusion pack that fueled it put out more power than Brassport could use in a year.
I hadn’t expected the plasma bath to disable Fire Forge completely, but I’d counted on it slowing him down significantly. That left me in a bad spot when I saw that his suit was consuming the flames instead of melting under them. From my sensor readings that was a very bad thing indeed since it appeared that his suit had reached maximum power a good thirty seconds sooner than it should have thanks to extra energy I’d provided it.
“That adds assault to the list of charges against you, and it means I can do this…” Fire Forge said as he unleashed a swarm of mini-missiles against me.
The point defenses on the Safe Cracker engaged automatically and took care of shooting down the incoming projectiles in a shower of sparks. Or at least most of the incoming projectiles. Three of the tiny rockets evaded my defensive laser pulses and impacted on the Safe Cracker with surprising force.
Stabilization jets fired automatically but I’d lost altitude and some of the defensive field on the armor had been weakened. That shifted the odds in a favorable direction for Fire Forged but my Safe Cracker suit so far surpassed his armor that the rest of the battle was a foregone conclusion still.
I changed the barrel on the suit’s primary weapons array, taking the Plasma Cannon offline in favor of a Concussion Blaster. At my command bolts of raw kinetic force leapt out towards the hero above me and sent him spinning out of control.
I didn’t waste time or allow him to regain his balance. In the Safe Cracker’s secondary weapons array I brought the containment netting gun online and fired. Fire Forge arrested his wild tumbling just in time to be struck by a electrified ball of “Smart String”. The Smart String was tougher than steel and able to intelligently bind any humanoid figure. I’d been kind and left it set to “Entrap” rather than the “Crush” setting I was considering using on Doctor Wyrd.
“I hope you have learned the folly of tangling with Professor Daft!” I said, very pleased with myself for the pun on ‘tangling’. Perhaps I did have some talent at banter after all?
Fire Forge laughed. It was the kind of unconcerned laughter that said he didn’t believe he’d been beaten. The kind of laughter that always, in my experience, preceded some horrible revelation.
“And what would be so funny?” I asked, knowing full well that I never liked that answers I got to that question.
“Well, you’ve caught me, but I’ve caught you Professor.” Fire Forged said.
“What do you mean?” I asked, looking at the monitors that displayed the Safe Cracker’s current condition. They all showed green, confirming that the suit was in perfect working order.
All of them.
Even the ones monitoring the areas where the mini-rockets had damaged the suit’s defensive field.
“You’ve hacked my control systems I see.”
“Well to be honest, my friends did. Though I suppose I was the one who taught them how to so, you can blame me if you like.” Fire Forged said as he casually removed the Smart String that encased him. With control of my systems he also had control of Smart String. That meant he could use it to bind me, which of course he proceeded to do.
“Your friends?” I asked, dejected but hoping to at least get some useful information out of the night.
“Lightning elementals. Tiny little ones. The big ones can fry suit’s like ours without breaking a sweat but it’s the little ones that can get inside and really have fun.” he explained.
“Ah, the missiles. They carried more than an explosive payload I gather?” I asked.
“You deserve the title of Professor I see.” Fire Forge said.
“And the missiles which I shot down?”
“Elementals are hardy. They’ve returned to their original plane.”
“So the day is saved then?”
“Kind of looks that way.”
“And for your friends? For the good Aegis and Thundercrash?”
“You know something about that Professor?”
“No, but I know something better.”
“I know how to find them. All you have to do it let me go.”