Bangui was a depressing place. It was depressing under the French. It was depressing under the Central African Empire. It was depressing under the Central African Republic. And it was depressing under the Mesozoic warlord who had seized it and made it his home. Vera didn't let it get to her as armed militiamen escorted her into the city.
"I'd like to see Titan," she said, in perfect French.
"I'd like to be a billionaire with wings, " the lead thug replied.
"You don't have a file full of classified information on a dinosaur dictator."
"And just what classified information do you have?"
"Too classified for the likes of you. Now tell Titan in would be in his best interests to talk to me in the next half hour."
Twenty-four minutes later, Vera was brought before a building-sized dictator. Actually, the world's only building-sized dictator. He was more than a dozen stories tall, and was devouring a herd of cattle when Vera arrived. "What do you want?" He spoke in English. He was angry. Even by mutant dinosaur standards.
"First, let's talk about what I have. You might want to dismiss these guys first, unless you want them overhearing."
Titan didn't need bodyguards. He roared, and his foot soldiers ran for it.
"When you first took over this little corner of the world, you stole billions of dollars from the local government. Billions of dollars that the government stole from the people. That money is hidden away in an untraceable offshore bank account. Or, at least, you thought it was untraceable."
"So what are you threatening to do? Tell the police?"
"Yes. And the United Heroes. Your assets will be frozen. You won't be able to keep buying weapons for you armies. You also won't be able to keep buying a herd of cattle a day. You'll starve to death, or else be murdered by your own men."
The Tyrant Lizard bared his teeth.
"Killing me won't stop the message."
"I could just transfer the funds."
"A multibillion dollar transfer from an account recently revealed to belong to a supervillain? Good luck hiding that. Before you try to threaten me with something else, let me tell you what I am asking for. Information about Mephistopheles. That's all."
The monster mulled her ultimatum over. He bared his teeth. Vera began to wonder whether it was a good idea to try to blackmail a monster that could threaten Vector."You thought you could scare me. You don't realize that no human could ever scare me. A common mistake."
Keep cool, Vera thought to herself. Remember what Phoenix did to you. No trumped up dinosaur can hurt you. Vera was seriously beginning to question whether Phoenix's meddling could stand up to a giant Tyrannosaurus bite.
The monster's voice boomed. "Here is what's going to happen. I'll tell you one word. One. It might pan out. It might be a dead end. You will leave. You will delete your email to the world's authorities. You will never let on that you attempted to blackmail me, or even that you visited me. The word is 'Eleuthera.' Now get lost."
On the flight back to civilization, Vera tuned out the news about celebrity divorces and the newest villains empowered by Demented's Disease. She was reading up on a midsized island in the Caribbean.
How do you kill Dr. Demented? Well, such a feat is far beyond any Earthly technology. So you use an unearthly technology. You could try to pillage the Archives. Definitely a possibility. Ask the Fortarians for help. Unlikely to work, they still hadn't officially made contact, and they didn't seem to have the technological chops anyway. You could try to reverse engineer Vector's telekinesis. Cognis would be working on that. I doubt he'd let me help, and I also doubt that it would work. Or, you might try studying the Disease.
I know. Dr. Demented created the Disease, and is presumably responsible for it's spread, which means it's already part of his plan. But, at the same time, studying the Disease might give insight into the nature of the Doctor's powers.
There were six hundred people currently infected with the Disease. There were five who had survived the Disease and gained superpowers.
I called up a map of diagnosed Disease cases. Looked almost identical to a population map. A slight bias towards more developed countries, but that could just be because more developed countries were better at diagnosing the Disease. There were seventy cases in Europe. Time to start collecting samples...
I plotted a path. The minimum amount of flight in order to get ten samples. It would be four hospitals. One in Poland. One in Germany. One in Serbia. One in Russia.
I took off.
Breaking into a hospital is not very hard. Everyone there is concerned with saving sick people. Repelling attacks from high-powered supervillains in rarely a major priority. There were several ways to enter. I opted to take the front door. Might as well have fun with this. "Hello," I said, walking up to the front desk. "I'd like to rob the place."
They didn't have a form for that.
"I don't suppose you could tell me where the Demented's Disease patients are?"
They have a rule against giving that sort of information away to supervillains.
"You know what? This has been entirely unhelpful." I accessed the hospital database with my mind and got the information I was looking for. "And sorry if I was cutting in line. That's the sort of thing that happens when you deal with evildoers."
I was already in control of the elevator system. I went directly to the appropriate floor. There were two patients in adjoining beds. They were both clearly ill. The only other person in the room was a doctor. "You can't be here."
"I'm doing something important," I explained, pulling syringe out of my coat. "These patients are weak. If you take their blood, they might die."
"They will probably die anyway," I said, extracting blood from the weaker of the two patients. "The probability that this is the reason they die... tiny."
"And you're willing to risk their death for you science experiments?"
"Yes," I said. "But, for the sake of diversity, I guess I could take a saliva sample from this patient. Happy now?" The doctor didn't appear happy.
"If you really cared, you'd stay here and help care for the sick."
"I guess that indicates something about how much I care."
"I've heard about you. You are a genius. You could cure all of these people. Stop all sickness. Save millions, billions of lives."
"That's Professor Cognis' job. But rest assured, I am saving lives right now." Assuming I do manage to use these samples to create technology capable of stopping Dr. Demented. Which is not likely.
I should probably do some analysis now, in case the virus breaks down. I scanned the contents of the beakers. Then I scanned the two patients bodies.
"Interesting. The virus seems to exists as a quantum superposition of atomic structures across the multiverse."
"What does that mean?"
"I'll get back to you on that."
This was interesting indeed. "Well," I said, breaking a window, "it was nice talking to you. Best of luck ending disease. But I have eight more samples to collect."
My test tubes were a little more advanced than the average variety. They were extremely durable, could control their internal temperature and pressure, and carried a fair amount of diagnostic equipment. Compare them to standard test tubes, which break whenever you try to pull the cap off, spilling your super-serum all over the floor and leaving you defenseless against the Titanium Warrior (I'd had a bad experience early in my career.)
I froze five of the samples as soon as I got them. I randomly selected two (one frozen and one nonfrozen) for immediate preliminary analysis by the test tubes (the tubes were a lot smarter than most people. I trusted them not to mess stuff up too much.)
When I got home, to the vast underground laboratories of Estveria, I gained a lot of information. I measured the radii of the infected cells. Watched the disease do its work under a microscope. Calculated the rate at which it functioned. Looked at its effect on DNA, RNA, lipid concentration, ATP concentration, and every other concentration I could think of. I observed how the virus responded to variations of temperature, magnetic field, electric current, sound, and sudden acceleration. And let me be clear. All of that brought me no closer to creating a powerful technology capable of destroying mad scientists from alternate reality.