Saturday, March 1, 2014

Moral Values

Professor Cognis looked away from the San Francisco skyline and turned to the hero next to him. "We have to tell people."
"No," the Dark Detective replied, "We don't."
"If we want the public to trust us as heroes, we can't keep information secret from them." This was a big thing with him. The Professor had never had a secret identity, and tried to keep the United Heroes as transparent as possible. Naturally, this provided hindrances, but they were burdens he was willing to bear.
"If we tell people about this, there could be a panic. People could die. And that wouldn't even be the worse part. Imagine what would happen if Phoenix got his hands on a sample of the disease. Or maybe this new Mephistophes is an even greater genius than him. Who knows what those guys could come up with?"
"It doesn't matter. We need the world's governments on board if we want to contain the Disease. And if this means what we think it does..."
"It doesn't."
"You don't know that."
"Dr. Demented was trapped in the past, during the one day war. He got to live out his life with that girl of his, and they've both been dead for a millennium."
"Dr. Demented is the greatest mind in the history of the human race. He could easily have survived, and people need to be prepared."
"If he really is coming back, what's to say we can prepare?"
"We can. We beat him last time, and it is certainly possible to beat him again."
The Dark Detective was about to respond when a holographic image of the Titanium Warrior appeared. "Hey. Sorry to interrupt, but Osirion and Jack Frost are robbing a bank in Portland. One of you should probably go and handle it."
The Dark Detective watched as Professor Cognis got up. "This discussion isn't over."

Professor Cognis didn't exactly have an airplane. It was more of a souped rocket-propelled helicopter. I'd give you the technical specs, but I can't because I don't have them because that machine is complicated.
As he rode across the American West Coast, the Professor read up on the situation in Seattle. The two villains had captured some gold bullion, and were making a stand at the beach. There had been three confirmed police casualties so far.
Professor Cognis took a moment to consider those three deaths. Three people who would be forever beyond his reach, who he could never save.
(This is a very Cognis-y reaction. That everything is his responsibility and every small tragedy is his personal failure. If it were me, I would probably take a moment to consider the idea of a time machine or resurrection technology. Death is nothing compared to science.)
Cognis found that the Superhuman was there. A German physiologist who used all sort of weird biochemical effects to boost his strength, speed, and agility. Must have been present for a research conference in his civilian identity.
The stealth mode on Cognis' ride wasn't the best. You can only be so inconspicuous in a rocket-propelled helicopter. Nonetheless. Cognis activated his stealth mode, and to the drunk and distracted observer, his vessel disappeared from the sky.
The villains were  facing off against a perimeter of policemen. He approached the two of them from behind. Superhuman always carried a radio, and Cognis opened communications. "Superhuman, do you read me?"
"Loud and clear."
"I have an idea to help the police officers. Try to-" Cognis was interrupted by the fact that he was plummeting from the sky. Despite all the rush around him, Jack Frost had noticed the hero, and frozen the rockets with well-aimed blasts from his freeze ray.

Cognis treaded water, and tried to come up with a plan. His transport was wrecked, and most of the machinery on it was destroyed. He made a mental note to design a more durable craft next time.
Meanwhile, he had a communicator, a frozen engine, and a sinking death-trap made from Ultrasteel and superconductor wire. The bare bones of a plan began to form.
"Superhuman," he whispered into the communicator. "I have a plan, and I need you to listen."
"I'm a little busy-"
"Dodging blasts from Jack Frost, I know. I am ninety-eight point five seven percent confident you can do that and talk at the same time." Professor Cognis is widely regarded as a know-it-all. Where'd he get all those sig-figs?
"Alright, I can do this, what do you need."
"Three of those police cars have critically injured officers in them. If Jack Frost freezes them quickly enough, they might survive long enough for emergency services to revive them. I have some ideas for ways to unfreeze them quickly and safely."
"And what are you going to be doing during this time."
"Setting up a trap for Osirion. Good luck."
And with that, Cognis dove down to retrieve what he needed from his sunken contraption.

Jack Frost was pissed. He'd shot down Cognis' plane (or was it a helicopter?) ten minutes ago, and the coward was still putzing around under water. Meanwhile, Superhuman was dodging every blast Jack could throw it him. The scientist in Jack was impressed, but the hardened villain was just pissed.
"Have you got him yet," Jack muttered into his comm.
"No," Osirion replied. "I've been chasing him all over down here."
"Well, he'll have to surface soon anyways."
"Why don't we just take our money and leave."
Jack couldn't answer this question truthfully. He couldn't say that the only reason he'd volunteered for this mission was the chance to kill a hero. That it was just a step in his plan to displace Mephistopheles as leader of the Illuminati Occultus. That the only way for any of this to happen was for this mission to be a huge success, and for Jack's leadership to result in the death of Superhuman or Cognis or both. And that consequently he was prepared to sit there and freeze police officers for however long it took before Osirion surfaced with Superhuman's mangled body. He couldn't say any of that. "Timing," he said. "It has to do with timing."
His statement had perfect timing, because that was when Professor Cognis showed up.
"Don't shoot," the hero said. "I have something I want to say."
Jack Frost kept his finger on the trigger. "What," he asked. The hero was about a hundred feet away.
"I need to tell you something." He stepped forward.
"It's about Mephistopheles." Another step
Mephistopheles! If it was information Jack could use... Hold on, Jack told himself. This is Professor Cognis. The mind reader. He's just stalling and saying whatever it takes to keep you engaged. But he can't read minds from that range. But he might be able to deduce things anyways.
"What about Mephistopheles."
Another step "He's not who you think he is." Two steps.
"I have no idea who he is."
"Well, I have a fairly good idea: he's Vafnir."
"Vafnir? The alternate-universe version of Phoenix?"
"Yes, Dr. Demented's right-hand man."
"He was killed in the Timeless War."
"He survived."
"Why should I care?"
"He was Dr. Demented's right-hand man. Imagine the damage he could do. Especially with the new power he has."
"What do you want me to do." Jack Frost realized that Cognis was only thirty feet away. If he gets any closer...
"I have a hypothesis about the structure of his tendrils. Have you considered that they may be coherent and structured excitations of a low-temperature statistical mechanical vacuum?"
"Are you saying what I think you're saying?"
"I thought I was being perfectly clear."
"Are you implying that my freeze ray would dissolve his tendrils."
"I calculated it out, and I'm pretty sure it could dissipate the energy he uses to make them."
Jack tried to think through the calculations. Maaaybeee.... Nooooo... Hmmmmm.... He realized Cognis was standing ten feet away. "Get back."
"No." A step.
"I'll shoot."
"Do it." A step.
Jack shot Cognis squarely in the chest.

A superconductor occurs when electrons bond together into pairs due to phonon interaction. These pairs, being bosons, will all settle into a coherent state. They are extremely mobile, and allow the electrons to move across the solid unimpeded. This causes the material to have zero electrical resistance. It also causes the material to become an excellent conductor of heat.
This meant that when the freeze ray hit Professor Cognis' chest, and tried to lower the temperature of the superconducting wire in his shirt, a wave of heat was sucked along the wire.
The wire went into the ocean, and the water along it froze. This froze several fish, and twenty of so cubic meters of water. It also froze Cognis' sunken vessel, where Superhuman had lured Osirion.
Cognis tried to ignore the ice-cold sensation in his chest as he tackled Jack Frost. He knocked the villain into the surf, ripped off his helmet, and injected a sedative.

"Wow," said Superhuman. "Just wow."
"I wouldn't say that. Six police officers died today."
"You just trapped two major villains. It was a good day."
"I'll need to do better next time."
"You seemed pretty impressive to me."
"To be honest, I'm surprised Frost bought my line about Mephistopheles. It was a total shot in the dark."
"Wasn't he there during the Timeless War?"
"Yes. He was just ready to believe anything about his rival. Reasonable based on his personality."
They talked on some more. But enough about them. It's time to get back to me.

1 comment:

  1. first paragraph block - "tried to keep the United Heroes as transparent"
    first paragraph block - no quotation mark after bear.
    first paragraph block - We beat him last time (insert period)
    fifth paragrah block - conductor of heat