The Time Key could transport all of us to a distant world, where I could fix Lucy, fix or cure Dr. Demented, and then make my slow way back to Earth. Why don't I just stay on Earth. You go into the future, and I destroy you in a million years, after all this business with humans has come to an end.
I will not bargain any longer.
You're going to have to, buddy.
Why do you even want to stay on Earth? It is a distraction, and nothing more. Any experiments you do here will be dangerous for its inhabitants, and you will not have the resources of the whole planet at your disposal.
That was a good question. One that I didn't really have a good answer to. What was there left to do on Earth? I suppose that I wanted to uplift more humans to be my cyborg equals. But I could create life on any new planet. After I was done fixing my future self, I could make a species of subjects from scratch.
But what about the humans? Didn't they deserve to see the light? I thought for a fraction of a second. I teleported around my country. A microsecond in each location, as I surveyed people. I saw people talking to loved ones and cheating on their spouses. Painting pictures and robbing houses. I thought. They could be taken care of.
Very well, I thought. Take me away.
Genesis felt a tremor. "What was that," he asked the empty air. He went back to his work. A genetically engineered supervirus, a modified version of Demented's Disease. It would never kill Dr. Demented. It would never come close. But Genesis had to try. He needed to try to defend his garden.
A few minutes later, Genesis glanced at the news. Somewhere amid information about the recovery from the planet-wide blackouts a few days before and the reports of strange goings-on at the White House was a story saying that Phoenix's mansion had disappeared. What did that mean? Was that some bizarre part of a conflict between the two? Did it mean that someone had won? Who? As the hours passed, and Dr. Demented failed to rain destruction from the skies, Genesis grew hopeful.
Cognis glanced up from his worktable. He spoke into his phone. "Vector, are you busy at the moment?"
The telekinetic superhero responded from halfway around the world. "Mudslide. Why?"
"Could you investigate what has happened to Phoenix's house? And pick up the Dark Detective. He is in Moscow on a case at the moment." Vector took a moment to read through Cognis' files.
"On my way."
Cognis was hopeful. He could only think of four scenarios that could cause Phoenix's house to disappear. First, Phoenix had done this by accident as part of some outlandish experiment. It seemed unlikely the results would be so neat.
Second, this might be Dr. Demented striking against Phoenix. But it seemed rather indirect. Yes, the Doctor was unfathomably strange but... Cognis' gut said no.
The third option was that Phoenix was running away, taking his home with him. That seemed impossible. If he were going to run away, he would have done so while he was in command of the Archives.
That meant that this was Phoenix striking against Dr. Demented. Which meant that Phoenix had found a weapon that could hurt the monster from the future. Which Cognis wanted to know more about.
Vector grew more powerful every day. With ease, he left the Earth's atmosphere. The vacuum of space didn't affect him as he tore over the Earth. He slowed down. The Dark Detective was waiting for him on the roof of a building. "Cognis bring you up to speed?"
"Here's what I know," the Detective said. "Phoenix's house disappeared. Cognis thinks he was working on some sort of superweapon, and wants us to investigate. See if we can find anything superweapony."
"Yeah, that's pretty much it." Vector didn't even bother leaving the stratosphere for this. He gathered up a few cubic meters of air for the Detective's benefit, and, making sure to maintain pressure, flew to Estverian soil.
The two of them investigated the great hole in the ground. It was clean. The earth was still compacted where the mansions basements had been. "Should we check out any of his other laboratories?"
"You do that," the Detective frowned. "I will investigate here." Vector would have offered to carve out a set of stairs for the Detective, but the other hero had already rappelled into the gash into the Earth. Vector rolled his eyes and checked out the other haunts the United Heroes knew about.
The Dark Detective scampered over the compacted surface. Water was gushing where pipes had once been. He looked at the cut. A thin layer of oxides. But it looked like it had been deposited later. Fit in with most of the magic disappearance scenarios the Detective could imagine. He looked around the surrounding grounds. He saw... a finger. A severed finger. He scanned the finger-print. It matched Phoenix. Did Phoenix still have finger-prints. What did it mean?
I threw up some of Mephistopheles' black insta-tent. Keep in the air on the vacuum of this new planet. I told Noetron to build a dome as soon as possible. And then, I began an eternity of thought.