Seriously

Seriously

A Story by SGCool
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A supervillain faces his greatest foe: child labor laws.

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On an uncharted island somewhere in the pacific ocean, inside of an active volcano, in a secret lair drilled deep into the earth, the Slaying Mantis sat at a console in front of a giant screen and contemplated his latest scheme.

“Ha ha ha ha!” He cackled, head thrown back and green-gloved hands held up like claws by his shoulders. It was a good, well-practiced cackle.

“Those idiots will never know what hit them!” He was saying to a humanoid robot standing by his side. “As soon as I detonate the EMP’s that I’ve planted in key areas of the city, all of their electronics will be rendered completely useless! It will be utter chaos! It will take them years to even begin to recover! They’ll have no choice but to bow down to me!”

The robot beeped in a positive manner.

“Exactly!” said Mantis. “I can see it now...government officials tearing their hair out, bankers scrabbling to recover their lost assets, but it’s too late! It’s far too-wait, did you hear that?” Mantis glanced around suspiciously.

The robot beeped again, quizzically.

“It sounded like the cover of a ventilation shaft hitting the floor. 13, take 17 and 28 with you and go check it out.”

The robot saluted and rushed off, and Mantis made a mental note to oil 13’s knee joints. They were sounding a little squeaky.

Clearly, a superhero had broken into his base. It had happened before, and honestly it was easier to just install a new security system and refill the shark tank rather than have to relocate his lair to a new unmapped island each time he was discovered. Secret tropical islands were becoming hard to find these days.

Mantis turned back to the console and considered his victory speech. He had a few rehearsed for occasions just such as this one. The overarching theme had to be smug victor, that much was obvious, but it was the little details that made all of the difference. There was the Insane Psycho (why? Because it’s fun, that’s why!), the Desperate Choice (I didn’t want to have to do this, but you just didn’t know when to give up!), the Wheedling Seductor (it doesn’t have to be this way, you know. Think of all we’d be able to achieve if you joined me!)...it really just depended on the hero. Level of familiarity was a definite factor. If it was a new guy, you had to impress him, but he didn’t get to have the My Old Enemy bit.

Heroes were so predictable, really. They broke into his lair to foil his schemes so often that he could almost set his watch by them. Sure, he knew pretty much all of their moves by now and could take them easily if he wanted to, but honestly he was in it for the game. Make an evil plot, get foiled, go to prison, escape from prison, repeat steps one through four. It’s what made life exciting.

Behind him, the metal doors slid open with a hiss and heavy robotic footsteps approached his chair. Mantis rubbed his hands together and grinned. This was what he lived for.

“Did you really think it was going to be that easy to stop me?” He had decided to go with the Established Classic. Everybody liked that one.

“Let me go!” came the expected reply. The voice sounded much higher pitched than what he would have thought, but the hero was probably a woman. It was an equal opportunity gig, after all.

“So soon?” Mantis purred. “But the party has only just begun!” He spun his chair around swiftly, leaning forward and gripping the armrests with clawlike hands. He used to have a fluffy white cat for this part, but she became unsettled when he spun too fast and no one looks professional cleaning cat barf off of their leg.

Abruptly, the grin slid off of Mantis’s face. The hero could probably be referred to as a woman in about eight or nine years, and for now was just a small child in a shiny blue and purple suit. She struggled against the grasp of the robots.

“Is this a joke?” asked Mantis. “Are you putting me on?”

“I’m Junebug!” exclaimed the girl. “And I’m here to stop you!”

“I thought maybe you were here to sell me cookies,” Mantis replied. “Seriously, do your parents know you’re here, kid?”

“I’m not a kid, I’m a superhero!”

Mantis stood up. “I honestly thought there was an age requirement, or something.”

“Let me go and fight me!” Junebug started jumping up and down. “Fightmefightmefightme!”

“This is absolutely ridiculous,” Mantis muttered. “I am not a babysitter, I am a professional. Put her in the usual lockup.” As the robots trundled the screaming child away, Mantis continued to mutter under his breath, punctuated with audible words like ‘outrage’ and ‘travesty’. He turned to robot 13, who was back by his side.

“Get me the Taskforce,” he said darkly.

 

 

Inside the headquarters of the international team of superheroes known as the Titanic Taskforce, a meeting of grave importance was taking place.

“Alright, who ordered the Italian sub?” Nitron, a muscular man clad in white and blue, read from the food order ticket. A big bag next to him read ‘Harry’s Hoagies’, with a picture of a footlong underneath. A hand around the back of the table was raised and Nitron slid the sandwich toward the owner. As he reached into the bag to grab the next sandwich, the enormous viewscreen behind him crackled into life.

“Someone is hailing us!” exclaimed a woman wearing bulky samurai armor.

“Right you are, Ronina!” Nitron said. “But who knows of this frequency who would contact us unannounced?”

The static on the screen faded away, and the resulting image coalesced into the countenance of the Slaying Mantis. His face above his cheekbones was obscured by the green and gold helmet that he wore, but his frown conveyed the very essence of unamusement.

“The Slaying Mantis!” Nitron gasped.

“Nitron,” Mantis said.

“I don’t know what this is about, villain, but I’ll have you know that we know all about your evil scheme!” Nitron pointed a burly arm at Mantis.

“I’m aware of that,” Mantis replied.

“And we know exactly where you are!”

“Yes, I know. I tend to keep the same secret lair. Tropical islands are pretty expensive.”

“And we’ve dispatched someone to put a stop to your plot!”

“That’s actually what I’m calling you about.” Mantis sucked at his teeth impatiently. “Would anyone care to explain this?” He stepped out of the center of the camera’s view, revealing Junebug trapped inside of a large, well-locked cage. “Huh? Anybody wanna tell me what Skippy is doing here?” A collective gasp rose from the congregated superheroes. “She’s like, ten. How old are you, Skippy? You ten?”

“I’m twelve!” shouted Junebug indignantly, slapping the bars of the cage.

“Twelve, she’s twelve. My mistake. She’s twelve! And she’s here in the middle of a supervillain’s secret lair! She could get seriously hurt doing something like that!”

“He’s threatening the girl!” said Nitron. “How low can you possibly sink, you fiend?!”

“No, I’m not threatening-” he slapped his forehead. “Ugh, how dumb can you people be? Is this the latter half of the twenty first century or not? We have child labor laws, yes? How can this possibly be legal?” He let out a frustrated sigh. “Alright, I’d be the first to admit: there’s nothing, and I mean nothing, that I enjoy more than hearing laying waste to a city and hearing the wails of its populace and the lamentation of its women and children. That’s fine in my book. They’re yelling, they’re crying, everybody’s unhappy...it’s music to my ears. They’re not dead, they’re just all messed up. I don’t really really like killing people because then you can’t enjoy their suffering, they’re just dead. And dead people are no fun. I may not be a good man, or even a nice man, but I am a man of principle. I try not to hit women unless it’s in self defense, I don’t fight kids, and I don’t litter because it’s our Earth and littering hurts all of us. I’m getting off topic here. I don’t fight kids!” He grabbed the sides of the camera and shook it. “Read my lips! I don’t want to hurt Skippy here! I don’t need that on my conscience or my reputation! Can you imagine? I’d be going someplace and everybody would be all hey, there’s Slaying Mantis. Did you hear? He beats up children! I don’t want that! Am I seriously the only responsible adult in this conversation?”

Nitron cocked his head to the side and folded his arms. “We trust her.”

“You trust her?” Mantis said incredulously. “She’s twelve! She needs positive role models, not weirdos in skin tight leotards! She should be in school getting picked on and being bored out of her mind and garnering a general distrust for humanity like the rest of us have!”

“Maybe you, Mantis! Some of us believe in something greater than ourselves!” Nitron’s spandex was practically aglow with righteous fury.

Mantis slapped his forehead again. “I cannot believe this. What do her parents think of this?”

“My parents were killed!” exclaimed Junebug.

“Killed by a monster like you!” Nitron chimed in.

“Oh, well, that is truly unfortunate,” Mantis said. “I don’t really care. This is, however, a tremendously unsafe working condition for a child, and a ridiculous slur against my professional integrity as well. I really hate to do this, but I’m afraid you’ve left me no choice.”

A collective murmur spread across the room, and panicked looks were exchanged.

“Don’t you dare harm her,” growled Nitron.

“Calm down, you blue buffoon.” Mantis patted the pockets of his suit, searching for something. “We’ve been over this; I won’t hurt her. Ah, here it is.”

From a pouch on the back of his belt, Mantis pulled free a cellphone. There was a moment of awkwardness and raised eyebrows as Mantis tried to unlock the sliding dot lock on the phone.

“Stupid gloves...” grumbled Mantis. “Touch screen compatible, my a*s…”

“The cellphone is a death ray!” shrieked one of the heroes by the back of the table.

“It’s not a death ray, it’s-you know what? Just shut up. Just be quiet. This day was going to be really good, and then you just had to send a friggin’ munchkin at me and get me involved in your bullsh-” He glanced at Junebug and corrected himself. “-honkey. So I don’t want to hear it.” Mantis fumbled with the phone for a little while longer before finally managing to unlock it. He stabbed at it angrily with his finger, then held it to his ear.

“He’s going to summon alien monsters from space!” yelled one hero.

“He’s going to turn it into a bomb and blow the poor girl up!” shouted another.

“Whatever you’re planning, it’ll never work!” Nitron declared.

“Hello, child protective services?” said Mantis into the phone. “Yes, I’d like to report something…”

 

 

“You’ll never get away with this!” Junebug had shouted as a social worker put a blanket over her shoulders and led her away.

“Get away with what?” Mantis had pinched the bridge of his nose. “You’ve already ruined my day. I’m not going to set off the EMPs now, it just wouldn’t be any fun. So congratulations, I guess you’ve stopped me by default.”

A woman in a pantsuit and a tightly pulled bun had shaken his hand vigorously while simultaneously pushing papers at him. “You’ve done a great thing here today, Mr. Mantis. All we need from you now is just to fill out these forms, and of course be available for the court date. We’ll contact you with information regarding that later.”

They had all left in absolutely no kind of hurry, taking their time to sneak glances at Mantis’s various consoles, half-finished machines, and of course, his legion of robots. This had only served to put Mantis in an even worse mood; one would think none of them had ever seen a semi-secret tropical island lair before.

“I don’t get paid enough for this,” Mantis complained as he read page twenty three of the thick stack of papers.

Robot 13 let out a series of beeps.

“I know I’m self employed!” Mantis said. “Mother always told me I should join an evil legion, but oh no, I had to be my own boss…Why do they need my social security number? What could they possibly use that for?” Mantis held his head in exasperation. “I should have just vaporized her. Then none of this would be happening.”

Robot 13 beeped again, its arms crossed.

“While that is a good and valid point, I resent you for making it.” Mantis pressed a button on his computer console and the screen sprang to life. “I need a break from all this nonsense.”

“-on scene here on the shore of a volcanic island lair, where supervillain The Slaying Mantis has cracked open what could be a lengthy investigation into superteam The Titanic Taskforce.” On the monitor, a newswoman with very fluffy hair spoke to a camera crew. In the background of the shot, in very clear view, stood the active volcano that housed Mantis’s base. Mantis let out a shrill, inarticulate, frustrated scream. “While The Taskforce has refused to comment on the ongoing case, they have not denied allegations that their ranks include a number of underage heroes, including Juniper Bough, a twelve year old girl. Juniper, who goes by the name of Junebug, was taken into protective custody in a heroic move by former villain The Slaying Mantis, who alerted authorities to-”

Mantis slammed his armored glove onto the console, which exploded in a shower of sparks. The monitor died with a fizzle of static.

Robot 13 whistled.

“I really don’t need your sass right now, 13,” Mantis said.

© 2017 SGCool


Author's Note

SGCool
Mantis just can't catch a break.

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Added on June 19, 2017
Last Updated on June 28, 2017
Tags: Humor, Comedy, Satire, Superhero

Author

SGCool
SGCool

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Chapter 1 Chapter 1

A Chapter by SGCool