Two identical bodies, lying in the street, unmoving. One of them was a corpse, leaking blood from a hundred small lacerations. The other was Vafnir.
The villain had just absorbed the cybernetic implants that would elevate him beyond mortal comprehension. And his reboot process was nearly over.
Vafnir woke up. He didn't really feel different. He stood up, noticing a small group of bystanders. Time to test his new powers. Vafnir walked up to one of them, who looked to be in his early twenties, and punched him in the head.
"Ow! What was that for? Also, you kind of have a sissy punch."
Vafnir looked at his wirish limbs, more suited to typing than fist fights. Why weren't those limbs filled with incredible, inhuman strength?
Probably because you don't know how they work.
"I said," the twenty-something spat, "that you have a sissy punch."
I said, the voice in Vafnir's head sighed, that you don't know how your superpowers work.
Are you Neurotron?
Explain to me why I cannot access my super strength.
Phoenix couldn't do it either, initially. The human brain doesn't have pathways for controlling super strength. You need to go through me. Phoenix needed to go through me, until we merged into the perfect fusion of man and machine.
Fine. Turn on my strength, I want to splatter this guy across a building.
Well, since it's for such a good cause.
At this point, Vafnir killed a completely innocent person just to test out his powers.
Vafnir created a billowing cloud of blackness, shrouding himself from the shocked onlookers.
What about my other powers? Senses. Phoenix's intelligence.
Well, Phoenix's intelligence wouldn't even begin to fit into your pathetic human brain. And I turned off the enhanced senses because if you had access to all that information, it would fry your mind. And, as much as I'd love to watch that happen, I'm not allowed to harm you.
Try. I want to see. I want to see everything.
So I have your express permission Neurotron didn't need to wait for a response. Great.
Vafnir's brain was flooded with status reports. Everything from acidity levels in his gall bladder to the locations of sunspots to the speech the President was trying to give. And it was too much.
Vafnir fell to his knees, his constructs evaporating around him. He heard himself hit the ground, and he heard the echoes off of nearby buildings. He received a damage report from every organ in his body.
And then, he saw the world around him. He heard heartbeats. Complete with detailed graphs of every person's stress rate, and their expected levels of cholesterol.
He saw the sky. A constantly updating spectrograph from every point, along with annotations for every star or planet barely visible to cyborg eyes in the daytime sky. Plus, constant updates on the stellar battle between Dr. Demented and his rival.
Every breath carried an analysis of a hundred chemicals. Every spoken word came with a dictionary. Vafnir couldn't take it. He couldn't think. He couldn't even summon the thoughts to tell Neurotron to stop. So, for several minutes, bystanders were distracted from the unfolding crisis of radioactive bombardment from the sky by the question 'Is that a supervillain or a guy on drugs'.
Neurotron couldn't let Vafnir die. He was Vafnir's slave, and he had to obey Vafnir's direct orders and preserve Vafnir's life and sanity. So eventually, he granted Vafnir the mercy of quiet. How did it feel to sit on the command center of a superior intellect?
It was invigorating.
Don't lie. I can read your mind. I am your mind.
Soon, I will have your upgrade my brain. Then, I will see all that Phoenix could see, and know all that Phoenix knew.
Oooh, so impressive. After stealing all of Phoenix stuff, and forcing me to install it properly, you might become almost as good as him. I bet your mommy is so proud.
Vafnir looked through some of my memories. He had four million songs and two million movies downloaded into his brain.
Yes, he did.
It seems rather excessive.
He could watch them all in one night.
Vafnir looked through some of my scientific knowledge. Is that the Riemann Hypothesis?
Do I really need to translate your own stolen mind for you? Yes, that is a note-to-self about a generalization of the Riemann Hypothesis. Well, not so much a generalization as a reapplication to commutative Euclidean trees. Something you wouldn't understand.
Vafnir ignored the abusive AI. So, what other new powers do I have?
You can fly. Or, rather, I can fly, while you slowly and dully call out destinations.
Excellent. I know just where I'll go first.
Vafnirs back extruded ghostly wings. Those wings became bright sheets of fire. And those sheets of fire propelled Vafnir into space.