ArseneArsenic OP t1_jcq0blv wrote


ArseneArsenic t1_j59jyef wrote

Doctor Vile stood silently before his laboratory's Supercomputer, face illuminated by a dozen different monitors replaying live footage from the Young Wonders' latest - and seemingly final - victory over their nemesis, Mickey Menace. Vile hated when rivalries got ugly and, normally, he'd have taken great pains to avoid witnessing an outcome like this.
He would make an exception this once. He owed it to Mickey not to look away. Not to ignore his failure as a mentor, or as a father.

Vile pressed a button on his remote.

The scene wound back to a battered Kid Caster's interview with reporters on the scene, talking at length about how they had tried to de-escalate with Menace over the past three months before finally resorting to putting him down. Vile's composure almost cracked at the lie, but he soldiered on, committing the boy's every fractured bone and open wound to memory.

He remembered how proud he was when Mickey told him he had become an entire team's premier opponent. He remembered how he encouraged him to aim higher and higher with his escapades now that he wasn't up against police or bank guards but true, blue superheroes. He remembered barely being able to keep his mouth shut when Mickey invited his friends from school over and he instantly recognized them as the Young Wonders' civilian alter egos.
He wondered how it had all gone so wrong.

Vile pressed another button on his remote.

A screen to his left switched to Mickey's criminal record, and the Doctor immediately begins reading despite having memorized it days ago; for the first few months, it was nothing but stealing burlap sacks of money from the bank, kidnapping the mayor, and harebrained schemes to control the city just like his father's. Over time though, Mickey's listed crimes grew more and more serious - murders, attacks on government black sites, theft of bleeding edge technology from top secret labs, and more.

Vile had been proud of how quickly his son was climbing the ranks of the dastardly and despicable. He had given the boy all the shrink rays and funding he needed to start off with, and even when he began to cleave closer to the current trend among teenaged capes rather than the mustache-twirling pranks Vile himself engaged in, he believed it was simply Mickey trying to fit in.

Vile pressed another button on the remote.

The Supercomputer's displays switched to intel profiles and analyses of each of the Young Wonders' team members and their abilities; Dragon Girl, the mystical martial artist. Lightning Lad and Diana Danger, the dynamic duo. Starburst, the exiled alien princess. Kid Caster, the leader.

Vile was so engrossed in his preparations that he almost didn't hear the bulkhead closing the laboratory off disengage its locks or the soft footsteps into his lab that followed.

"Victor." Blackjack, his archnemesis - and longtime friend, off the books - greeted him, doffing the hat he always wore as a civilian. "My condolences about your son. I'm sorry I couldn't visit sooner."

"Joseph." He replied, turning around to face him even while surrounded by evidence of the atrocities he planned to commit. "Forgive me, but I'm not in the mood to put on the accent... And don't worry about it. I'd rather you didn't see what's become of me, anyway."

Blackjack nodded, taking in the prototype assassin drone that hung partially assembled from its rigging and the adhesive-insulator grenades that had taken the place of Dr. Victor Lain's famous nonlethal-dehydrator gun. "I see. Nevertheless, here I am."

"As Joseph or as Blackjack?"

"Both. As Joseph to extend my sympathies, but also to discourage you from reacting the way any father who's lost a child would." He raised his hand, showing Vile the ragged glove he used to influence his fortune. "As Blackjack in case Joseph fails."

Vile pressed another button.

A grainy video came to life on the Supercomputer. A home movie Vile and his late wife had taken of Mickey's seventh birthday, when Vile had helped him make his first friend - a rudimentary spiderbot that Mickey nonetheless loved.

"You'd stop a man going after the people who murdered his only boy?" Vile asked softly. "I thought heroes were supposed to fight for justice."

"I'd stop a man from making more parents bury their children." Blackjack replied. "Please, Victor. I don't want to fight you. I'll make sure the Young Wonders learn from their mistake. You don't need to bloody your hands again after all this time."

Vile's pushed another button.

The assassin drone moved before Blackjack could snap his fingers and summon his cards - before he could even turn to face it or blink in surprise. The next thing he knew, his wrist was dislocated and his fingers had been broken in seven different places. The drone hauled him up by the arm and threatened to pop his shoulder out of his joint, but Blackjack only began to panic when it began carefully peeling his glove off his ruined hand.

"Victor! They're only children!" He yelled as the reborn villain walked past him.

Victor Lain paused in the doorway of his lab, hand hovering over the keypad that would lock Blackjack in until he was finished. "No," He decided. "They're villains."


In the following months, the Young Wonders lived through a waking nightmare.

Dragon Girl was first; hit by a bolt from the sky that, initially, did nothing to stop or even slow her powerful, acrobatic abilities. Over time, however, her bones began to soften. Slowly, inevitably, her attacks began to hurt her own frame. She was soon hospitalized after sustaining an injury that pulverized her leg, and became catatonic after the revelation that she would continue to degrade until her skeleton was no longer capable of maintaining a humanoid shape.

Lightning Lad and his sister were next. After being covered in insulators that blocked his electricity, Lightning Lad was no longer capable of venting his excess energy. As a direct result, his own powers overloaded his brain and essentially cooked him alive, leaving him crippled by nerve damage and amnesia. With half the dynamic duo reduced to a bedridden vegetable, Diana Danger withdrew from public life and later renounced their career as a superhero, decrying it as the instigator of the attack on her brother.

The Antareans, Starburst's people, went extinct shortly after. Their Harvali rivals had been granted strange new weapons and technology, gifted to them by a third party who disappeared shortly after. When the Harvali won control of the homeworld they shared with the Antareans, they brutalized the Antarean population, destroyed all record of their history, and publicly executed the Antarean royal family. The scene was then broadcast to the entire country by the same space station that had withered Dragon Girl's body.

Finally, there was Kid Caster.
Victor Lain killed him.