Written by TwiceOnThursdays :: [Saturday, 19 December 2015 12:27] Last updated by :: [Wednesday, 20 January 2016 18:17]
Note: algae2k graciously edited this story. I think his edits really improved the flow of the story, reworking some awkward sentences and fragments. However , I didn't take 100% of his changes (just 99% of them) and I made some edits after that. So if you find a mistake, it's all my fault!
The gunman smirked as he suddenly raised his weapon and fired it at the woman.
It wasn't every day you got paid good money to off your ex-wife.
Like the other times he'd used it, the gun emitted a brilliant beam of energy that enveloped his target. Unlike the other times when the beam had been deep red, the beam was a brilliant purple. He thought he saw a flash of red as he fired, but he couldn't figure out where it came from.
As the beam struck her, she let out a moan and dropped to the ground. That much was similar to the other times it was used. He was puzzled by the difference for a moment and shrugged it off; likely the gun needed a lower setting to take care of her, and it was conserving energy.
The weapon was unlike any other gun in existence. According to the evil genius who had given it to him, it was capable of taking down the mightiest of targets while being completely untraceable.
He holstered the gun and strolled away. It had been an unusual job, including the rewarding finish. The first targets had been a list of random people: a TV news anchor, a police crime lab specialist, a newspaper photographer, a homeless guy and the dean of a school for gifted youngsters (as well as a few of the staff). After that the list had become a bit more exciting, and was suited for his unique talents. The next few were all various super heroes: Warrior Woman, Mars, Professor Lovecraft, Blaze, The Atlantean, Stretch, Molecular Man, Photon and Spectrum.
The last part of the list was the most difficult; it was a list of super-villains, and several of them were behind bars, on another plane of existence or otherwise hard to find. He had to track down the lair of the evil genius Dante. He had to lure the Traveler back to the planet. It took a few weeks to trick the Dread Dormanmu to appear on this plane. He had to rope a bunch of villains into a poker game to get Duplicate to re-integrate and show up. He got a bonus of $1M for any hero or villain he shot extra to the list, which made the game a real jackpot.
He was assured that the gun would leave no trace and that all he needed to do was shoot each of his targets and walk away. He MUST use the gun and only the gun, leaving immediately after shooting the targets. As the mad genius claimed, each target dropped to the ground and lay there unmoving.
He was being paid $10 million for each target with a $100 million bonus on completion. All in all, he would net more than he'd made in his lifetime.
He was pretty sure that no one could have shot the various targets: some were energy beings, some had vast power, and some were just too fast for a human being to target. His first set of powers weren't great: he was a bit stronger than a normal person and a bit more resistant to injury. He could survive being shot by the weakest handguns. His reaction time and coordination were much higher than any normal human, making him a formidable adversary when combined with his hand-to-hand and weapons training. For some of these targets, it was his real power that gave him an edge – the one that defied explanation: he was immune to super powers. Magic, psionics and energy powers simply failed to affect him. Super strong punches hit him like a normal punch.
He had once punched out Superior, his vaunted invulnerability failed to stop his fist. He still had to worry about how side effects – super powers used to target something else – could affect him. He could be crushed by debris, scalded by a splash of molten metal or blinded by a bright flash. The part that really gave people headaches was that this didn't work if the person was trying to hurt him. If the Brute smashed the ground because he was just angry, it would topple him off his feat, and he might get injured by the shockwave. But if Brute tried to do that to attack him, he was unaffected. The shockwave would peter out as it hit him. Debris, no matter how heavy, would just roll off him harmlessly.
The real puzzlers were things like speedsters. As soon as someone moving at super speed tried to target him, he could see them like they were running at normal speed. The brain-bending part was that, to the rest of the world, the speedster would be moving at a blur. At no time would he appear to be moving super-fast, yet he could still react and target them. Somehow just thinking of using powers against him made them not work.
Before he'd double-crossed Dante, the mad scientist had tried to explain his powers to him. It was all non-sense: something about Quantum states and the uncertainty principle, with mention of a dead cat that wasn't dead. None of it made any sense to him, and, honestly, he didn't care. Powers didn't affect him, directly or indirectly. That was all that mattered.
Since most heroes were like normal people to him, and he was far more than normal, he had little trouble besting most heroes in a one-on-one fight. It took an exceptionally trained martial artist like Nightmask or the Dragon to take him in a fight. But, for all his powers, he'd learned to keep himself on the sly as heroes would always band together and take him down. Fortunately, his abilities made it difficult to lock him away. He couldn't be sent to another dimension, shrunk, mind controlled or frozen. In a prison, some sensors failed to notice him at all. One prison had fancy, un-pickable molecular locks. He just opened the door and walked away.
It took awhile, but he worked his way through the long list and was finally told the last name. He was a bit surprised that it was his ex-wife, but he took the explanation that it was a final perk for a job well done. She'd been screwed in the divorce, but a few powerful people had owed him favors, and he wasn't above collecting on them to be vindictive. He found out later that she'd been funneling funds off him during their marriage; he had no idea how much money she'd stolen. He'd always meant to track her down and make her pay. He'd gotten distracted by work, but he still found time to leave her some threatening messages. It was better she spend her time living in fear for when he'd finally get around to her.
He had looked forward to taking his frustration out on her. Still, today was a good day: another $10M coupled with a $100M bonus. He'd take that money over the comparatively small amounts she'd stolen and petty revenge.
As he sat down in his van, the gun let out a burst of sparks. He barely dropped it to the floor before it melted into a pile of warm goo.
The van shook and then rolled over a few times. It came to a jarring halt and then was lifted into the air. He was held into his seat by G-Forces for a moment, and then he almost popped out of his seat as the van smashed into the ground. He could feel the metal frame crumple around him.
He had almost recovered from the impact when the door was ripped off. He let out a feral grin as he was yanked outside and tossed to the ground. Whoever this was had made a serious mistake as no one could take him one on one.
He shook his head to clear things up … only to see his ex-wife. She appeared much younger now. When he'd shot her, she was in her mid-thirties and looked haggard and tired. Now she looked like she was in her early 20's and was buzzing with energy. She also seemed to have dropped 30 pounds and gained a cup size or two. He couldn't help but ogle her cleavage for a moment, entranced by their gentle bouncing as she tossed the van door to the side.
He shook his head again as he wasn't quite tracking things yet. She was wearing an exercise outfit: yoga pants and a sports bra. She had a totally flat stomach and was sporting a textbook set of abs. Her arms were lean, and as she moved he could see some muscle play across her arms. She wasn't huge, but she looked like she'd been spending some serious time in the gym. If she'd looked like this when they were dating, he might have put up with her shit longer.
Still, no woman was a match for a trained man, and he was a highly trained man who was much stronger and faster than any normal human. Even if she'd somehow gained powers, it wouldn't matter.
This was better than using a gun; he'd end things hand-to-hand. He couldn't suppress the grin that sprouted across his face.
Like a faster than Bruce Lee, he rushed up to her at full speed, landing a quick punch to her stomach and one across the jaw. He was moving so fast that he only doubled over in pain as he was throwing the third punch back at her abs.
His hands felt like he'd punched a brick wall! He felt like he'd broken both hands. He found that he could barely move his fingers, so he'd probably not broken anything.
He looked up from his hands, only to see her wave at him and disappear. Feeling a tap on his shoulder, he turned around to see her flick her finger at him. As her finger hit, he was knocked off his feet, flew a few dozen yards and finally skidded to a stop.
He picked himself up off the ground and dusted himself off. He'd barely seen her move, and he was much faster than any normal human. Super-speed didn't work on him!
She sauntered over towards him. “That look on your face is priceless.” In the blink of an eye, she was standing next to him and used her finger to poke at him a half dozen times in a fraction of a second. Each blow felt like a heavyweight boxer.
He almost fell over, but she casually reached out and caught his weight, hauling him back to his feet.
“H-H-How are you …?” he stuttered.
She patted him on cheek. “How am I doing this? Let's just say that you should not piss of a mad genius like Dante, a reality-shifting android like the Adaptron, or a rouge AI like Moriarty. Normally none of them would work with anyone else, let alone each other, but they really hate you. For all his faults, Dante loves my Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart; it was the only reason he didn't kill you ages ago. I have always treated Andy like a person, and apparently that's pretty rare. Moriarty used to IM me all the time and talk about books and TV. I set him up with the android Clara. I'm not sure how they make that work since she's a hero, but apparently it's something.”
“They hate you so very much. On the other hand, I am apparently one of the few humans any of them like. After you screwed me over and kept threatening me, they finally decided to help me get even. They worked together for a while and made a unique device. There won't be another one like it ever. It took the combined efforts of all of them to craft it along with some of Andy's parts. He won't regenerate those for a 100 years or so. Oh, and you'd need to find a Cosmic Gem. There aren't any left on the planet.”
She smirked at him, and he couldn't take it anymore. He lunged at her, but she just casually stepped out of the way and continued talking. After the fifth attempt, she gave him a light shove and tossed him a few yards into the bushes.
“Stop that. It's annoying. Besides, I'm monologging. This is where you figure out my evil plans and try to stop them.”
She paused for a moment and looked at him in mock pity as he climbed out of the bushes. “Though I must warn you, I'm a bit like Ozymandias from that comic they turned into that movie. I did it fifteen minutes ago!”.
She let out a small laugh.
“I paid you money out of your own accounts. I drained all of your accounts before you shot me. You are completely broke.”
He looked puzzled again. “My powers should have kept anyone from hacking my accounts! No normal hacker could have gotten by the security!”
She was suddenly right next to him and patted him on the head. “Good boy! You're now getting somewhere! You really shouldn't have lied in court. You said you'd listed ALL our assets in the divorce, and I knew that you had not. I guess you were afraid that even with a crooked judge I'd get some of it? You REALLY shouldn't have left them in my name. I know you did it to make it harder for your enemies to find, though I don't know why you bothered. I don't think you understood your powers back then. If someone looks for YOUR accounts, and tries to get into them (even with my name on them), your powers will block them. If I ask Moriarty to find MY accounts, he has no problems doing that. Nor does he have problems giving me access to my accounts. If my name is on them, they are my accounts …”
His face goes blank, and his jaw drops open.
She gives him a little smile. “I had no idea that you had $60 million squared away. In addition to wanting to do me a favor, everyone was happy to get a nice $15M bonus. I used most of what I had saved away getting that weapon built, so the money will come in handy.”
While she was talking, he used his movements coming out of the bushes to pull a knife out of his leg sheath. While she was distracted in gloating, he used an arcing hand motion to distract her attention. He'd learned that trick off a pickpocket, humans automatically looked to where an arcing hand was moving towards, and for a brief moment they weren't looking at the other hand. In this case, he was as good with his left hand as his right hand. When her attention was focused on his hand, he slipped the left hand around and stabbed her in the kidneys.
At least, that's what the plan had been. Only the knife had failed to punch through her skin and skidded along her back, and he barely kept a hold of the knife. He quickly pulled it back and sliced at her stomach, throat and chest. He stepped back to eye his handy work only to find her laughing. There wasn't even a line anywhere he'd sliced her. The tip of his blade was bent.
As he looked at the tip of his blade, she snorted. She gave her now much larger breasts a squeeze. The movement attracted his attention. As his eyes tracked to her fantastic cleavage, she said, “Boobs of steel.”
She glanced back at his knife, and two brilliant beams shot out of her eyes and melted the blade. He barely dropped the blade before his hand was burned.
“FUCK!” He started shaking his hand. “How in the bloody fuck are you doing that!” She gave him a pitying look. “You haven't figured it out yet? That wasn't some laser gun or ordinary energy weapon. That was an advanced device for analyzing powers. I had you collect samples from the world's mightiest beings. Its computer analyzed all those energy fields, integrated them together, and then amplified them. I'm probably 100 times stronger and faster than anyone else on the planet, not to mention all the other powers that I have.” “But … my powers should …”
“Everything has a limit. Everything. Dante theorized that I might be powerful enough to affect you. But that wasn't enough. You may not know it, but your powers are slightly voluntary. You can choose to let someone fly you somewhere, you can choose to have a super strong person lift something you are in. If you allow a power to affect you, it can a tiny bit.”
“Each time you pulled that trigger, you were letting its power work on you, and it was analyzing your ability. It took a lot, and I had to keep adding more people to the list. I was afraid you'd notice that I was paying you with your own money, but you really aren't very bright. But, with enough time, it finally analyzed your power and could duplicate it.”
“I have 100x YOUR power too. It trumps yours, and I'm free to use any and all of my powers on you as I see fit.”
“Your targets experienced a brief flux as it analyzed their abilities. Everyone recovered after the weapon was done analyzing their powers – everyone except you, that is. You will find that you have a permanent drop in your powers.”
“Not only can I freely use my powers on you, you aren't totally immune to powers anymore.” He turned and started to run away. He sprinted away at full speed. After only a few seconds he was already hundreds of yards away. He felt a small bubble of hope form only to burst as he floated into the air and drifted back to his ex.
Her lips didn't move, but he clearly heard her voice ringing inside his head.
“YOU CAN'T GET AWAY.”
As he started at the voice in his head, she laughed again. “Yes, I have telekinesis and telepathy as well as mind control.” Her form flowed until she was an exact duplicate of him; “shape changing”, she said as she returned to her young, lithe form, “flight, strength, invulnerability, heat vision … and a few dozen other powers.”
“If you'd not kept threatening me or had any redeeming qualities, I might leave you alone. Instead, don't try to take anymore work or I'll use my powers to destroy your reputation. Now you are going to take a low-paying menial job. You're going to work it and live in a simple apartment. You will treat every woman you meet with kindness and courtesy … or I'll make things worse.”
“When you get even a bit happy, expect me to stop by and ruin it for you.” She drifted into the air and floated there impossibly steady in the wind.
“Your best hope is that I get distracted by all my new powers and get bored with you.” She glanced over to the truck and it compressed into a small, smooth ball of metal. She gave him a grin and disappeared into the sky, leaving only a rumbling sonic boom and a gust of wind that almost knocked him off his feet.
He stood slack-jawed for a bit and slowly dropped to his knees.
After some time, he shakily took a pack of cigarettes out of his back pocket and tapped out a cigarette. He could barely get his lighter lit. He held it shakily in his hands and tried to light his cigarette. Just as he got it lit, the cigarette disappeared along with the lighter and the rest of the pack.
Her voice echoed inside his head. “You know I hate smoking.” He jerked up and looked around. There was no one in sight.