Thursday, February 6, 2014
By Way of Introduction
This being the case, you probably do not know much about this story's setting. It takes place on a planet known as "Earth". Earth is dominated by a species called humans, and their activities have a large effect on the planet's ecology and even geography. Humans tend to be sentient, with the exception of certain classes of humans like infants, the victims of horrible injuries and diseases, and congresspeople.
Humans divide themselves into nations, large groups of humans working together for the common good and the betterment of all, watched over by a benevolent organization called a government.
You didn't buy that last part? Good. Glad to see that tremendously knowledgeable and vastly powerful aliens from the far future aren't dupes.
Many nations function more or less as described, with the exception that the people at the top are narcissistic, stupid, evil, naive, or have bad hair. Other nations don't function at all.
The other important human institutions you should know about are science: the systematic study of nature using experimentation and rationality; supervillains: humans with exceptional abilities such as vast intelligence or fire-breathing who use these abilities for their own selfish gain, and superheroes, comparably empowered individuals who dress up like morons and try to stop them.
My name is Phoenix, and I fall into many of these classes. I am one of the greatest scientists on the planet (and if any other planet thinks it can do any better, I'd love to explain in great detail how in twenty to twenty-five years I'll have invented a strangelet weapon capable of reducing said planet to a ten-meter-wide superdense quark-gluon plasma). I am also a supervillain. Early in my career I conquered my home country, the small Eastern European nation of Estveria. I have held the U.N. building hostage, sold technology to the Iranian nuclear weapons program. And I killed the Iron Hero with an orbiting death ray.
Lately, though, things haven't been so black-and-white. More black-and-gray, as I find myself doing increasingly non-malevolent things for my fellow man. It all started a year ago, when I received a lethal dose of radiation as I was minding my own business, trying to murder the world's most powerful superhero.
Being the embodiment of human ingenuity that I am, I realized that the only way to reverse the damage to my cells was to fill my body with a kilogram of magnetic monopole nanobots. This would have the extremely beneficial side-effects of giving me unlimited durability, incredible strength, the power of flight (I installed thrusters in my hands), enable me to scan objects on a subatomic level from a distance using nearly intangible magnetic monopole tendrils, and let me install a supercomputer in my brain (and I'm not talking about the run-of-the-mill supercomputers you see lying around at any old top-secret government research facility or alien doomsday device. I'm talking about the kind of computer which can simulate Earth's weather or map a genome in nanoseconds or actually understand the US tax code).
Unfortunately, building a sentient computer out of previously undiscovered fundamental particles in an effort to cleanse one's body of radioactive atoms and gain the powers of strength, invulnerability and flight is not as easy as it sounds. I had to blackmail billionaires, capture criminals, break into superheroes' houses, and do other extremely difficult things.
Along the way, I discovered a girl named Lucy who had no memory of past events or her own identity but spoke every language known to man (or woman). We bonded, and I suspect she played some role in tempting me to a path of light.
I also started dating Vera Rapport, an American journalist. Although "journalist" doesn't even begin to cover it. Imagine if Edward Snowden were ten times smarter, and an attractive green-haired female. Now imagine that instead of being trapped in an airport in Moscow, he were awesome. You have Vera.
Things reached a climax a few months back during the One Day War. My villainous rival, Dr. Carnage, repaired the Crucible of Cosmic Fire, a power source of continent burning, orbit-destabilizing, action movie-inspiring magnitude. The Crucible's owner (conveniently named Crucible) returned the favor by animating an army of gigantic robots hidden away at the South Pole.
Completely contrary to my personality, I decided to help out. Consistently with my personality, I decided to help out by stealing ancient scientific lore from a galaxy-traveling cosmic librarian known as the Archivist (Just to be clear, I stole lore that maybe three people on Earth could conceivably understand, which was encoded in an alien language, which I needed to master in a few hours in order to save the planet from total annihilation. I still deserve a fair amount of credit here).
Long story short, I build a telekinetic weapon, incorporate it into my own post-human biology, lose a fight to Crucible, force the Archivist to help me, the whole trio goes to the moons of Mars, which I destroy using a superweapon (again courtesy of the Archivists' lore and my genius).
The Archivist and Crucible die, and Lucy, who had just gotten over an extremely traumatizing ordeal with Dr. Carnage, takes the Archivist's place.
In retrospect, I didn't handle this in the best way possible. Instead of warmly greeting the New Archivist, and asking if maybe I could take a peek at her libraries (not a euphemism), I angrily assert that she is a pale reflection of who she once was.
And as I flew through low Earth orbit to her spaceship, in an attempt to make up, this story began...