Vera wasn't happy. She'd just ended her first serious relationship since college (serious meaning she wasn't just doing it to gain information or for fun). Her body was still aching from Phoenix's tampering. And her favorite comedian was cancelling his show. Things were not going well.
When Vera wasn't happy, she tended to throw herself into her work. She needed a big project. The Cartels? Her newfound ability to withstand gunshots would certainly be an advantage. But drug dealers were boring, and the government was always getting in the way. Exron? They were always up to no good. But Vera didn't want the constant reminders of Phoenix.
That gave Vera an idea. She should go after Mephistopheles. The mysterious new villain who was organizing the underworld. it would be interesting and she could potentially stop one of the greatest threats to world security. But what was the best way to go about it? She should start by researching him. Then, maybe, she could try tracking down some other supervillain to find information. Titan was always easy to find. And Ison could be readily manipulated into telling her everything he knew. Eager to being the hunt, Vera googled her target and began reading.
"So, the best way to compare molecular structures is by breaking it down into large functional groups. Your whole Fourier method involves way too many computations."
"But you need to start with the diffraction pattern anyway. No need to even look at the bond structure unless it's a match."
Justin and I stared at each other. "Want to bet," he asked.
"What do you propose."
"Loser has to do the next round of debugging for the tentacle robot."
"Too rich for your blood?"
For the next half hour, the air was filled with the sounds of new code being born. Justin typed, I gave instructions to Noetron. Justin wove together old scraps of code, I composed new ones in my head.
"Done," I proclaimed, watching data flow across my field of vision.
"I'd be done too if somebody had documented the code in his microscope."
"Take your time. I'm gracious in victory."
Five minutes later, he was done too. "Shall we run the code?"
"I have over a million samples in my collection. First to five hundred thousand wins."
Watching code run is only slightly more interesting than watching grass grow, and not nearly as fun as watching paint dry. Consequently, Justin and I needed something to talk about.
Justin broke the silence. "You fought Dr. Demented right."
"I was part of the Timeless War. I watched other people fight Dr. Demented."
"Oh, that's right. You wrecked your armor. I feel like there's more to the story."
"Want to tell it?"
"Vafnir was my counterpart on Earth Beta. As such, he was a scientific genius with an army of robots to command. He was also Dr. Demented's right-hand man, which meant he pretty much ruled the world on a day to day basis.
He ruled the planet from his private laboratory/castle/mansion/fortress, which he had dubbed Cosmic City. He was the city's sole human inhabitant. He'd always preferred the company of machines.
Vafnir knew I was coming. I hadn't yet incorporated stealth technology into my armor, so I was fairly easy to track. Vafnir wasn't worried. He ruled a planet and had never lost a fight in his life. This sucker had come in from an alternate dimension where he was Minister of technology of the People's Republic of Estveria and spent his time scrounging for funds and losing fights with an American psychologist. He may have had the potential to be another Vafnir, but that potential had clearly never been realized. So the newcomer had a suit of armor. Vafnir had armor too.
Vafnir walked out of his castle wearing a twelve-ton battle suit capable of tearing a tank in half, destroying a building from a kilometer away, or flying at supersonic speeds. He was pretty confident he could beat up the scrappy bit of Ultrasteel standing in front of him.
"So, you're Wyvern," he said. I hadn't started going by Phoenix yet. "The alternate version of me. With my genome you must be a genius but I'm just not seeing it." He opened fire.
The suit of armor dodged. It was agile and could keep track of every laser, machine gun, and rocket launcher Vafnir was carrying.
"Impressive. Slightly." A gun turret mounted on Vafnir's shoulder pierced my armor. "You know, you haven't even attempted to hurt me yet. Give me your best shot."
My best shot bounced off of him. "Ultrasteel chassis. Thirty-five centimeters. Cost me a few billion dollars, but now I don't need to worry about anything smaller than a nuclear attack."
He was clearly better armed. Nothing to do but run. My armor blasted off. He pursued. "Now I have to shoot you down. Better start firing, I guess." It took him about a minute.
He watched the armored form limp away. "Goodbye," he sneered, as he tore it in half.
You can imagine his surprise when he found the armor was empty. He had just begun to realize the implications when I disabled his armor.
"You know," I said, "you were trained from a young age in scientific and tactical thinking. But you never had to contend with Professor Cognis. You never had to deal with someone as intelligent as you. Which made it fairly easy for me to break into your castle convince your computers that I was the real Vafnir. And, by the way, I do plan on stealing all of your stuff." I blew up his armor and he died. The end.