Thursday, 19 February 2009

Now with bonus content!

So if you know what the Witchrule newsletter is and have access to one, you might notice that the first thing featured on the front page mentions Mesmo and Liberty Lad.
You may also notice that this story does not, in fact, feature in the publication.

It will instead feature on my blog, because I quite liked how it turned out and damn it, someone is going to read this thing. Prepare yourself for another terrible voyage into my poor attempts at fiction!
The battles between Liberty Lad and his arch nemesis Mesmo were well known to all the citizens of the free world. Wherever Mesmo would try to commit some heinous act of supervilliany, dashing, dependable double L would be right behind him, shining teeth and immaculate hair. Mesmo would always get away, of course. He'd always be one step ahead, have one last cunning trick that let him escape. Maybe he'd reveal a girl tied to a bomb, maybe he'd have a cunningly hidden escape capsule, but there was always some little twist that kept the eternal chase going. And if he ever was caught, you always got the impression that he'd planned it that way all the time to lull people into a false sense of security, to build some delicious suspense. Mesmo was a showman at heart.
The people loved it. They ate it up. Liberty Lad merchanise flew off the shelves faster than it could be produced and it made for fantastic television.
But here was where it ended. In a dark alley, just around the back of the business district of Neomegatropolis, largest and most economically significant of the world's supercities. Mesmo had been plotting some scheme or other to deploy his prototype mind control emitter on one of the larger skyscrapers but a freak storm had knocked out the power to half the city. Beaten before he'd had a chance to begin, Mesmo fled, knowing too well that the spandex clad people's hero would be right behind him. He never expected Liberty Lad to be waiting at the bottom of the fire escape. A brief but desperate chase ensued, but one was a trained athlete and the other a man of science and late night scheming.
Thunder rumbled ominously as a steady rain fell upon the pair. A proud figure soaked to the skin but still retaining an air of dignity and confidence stood over his weak, gaunt foe, laid shivering on his back, rain streaming from his cape and drumming off of his steel skullcap.
"So this is how it ends, old friend. I'd hoped we could fight on more honourable terms, but if defeating you once and for all means ending your reign of terror in the gutter, so be it." said Liberty Lad, his powerful voice echoing down the alley.
"In the gutter, Liberty? You're going to kill me like a dog in... wait... seriously, you're going to KILL me?"
Liberty Lad frowned and looked to the sky thoughtfully for a moment.
"I must do what I can to ensure the safety of humankind. If that means removing one bad apple from the barrel, then unfortunately I have no choice, much as it pains me to do so."
"But couldn't you just hand me over to the authorities?"
Liberty Lad's stern expression, his square jaw and steely gaze were replaced with a look of irritation.
"Look, Mesmo, I would. I've tried, God knows I've tried, but have you seen what happens to the places that imprison you? You remember the giant robots, right? And the plutonium mole tank? And the Cardiff incident? People won't even talk about that one, y'know. If I could find a place that'd be willing to hold you then I wouldn't do this, you know I wouldn't, but they won't."
He reached for his utility belt and pulled out a pistol, styled to look like a weapon from an 80s sci-fi show. It even had a lightning bolt on the side.
"So that's it? 15 years of running through underground complexes, over mountains, beneath oceans and you're just going to break out the Liberty Laser? You're better than that." said mesmo. People who didn't know of his great (yet terrible) deeds might have thought a note of panic was present in his voice.
"Give me one good reason why I shouldn't."
Mesmo looked at him with a sneer.
"Do you know what happens to superheroes that completely defeat the bad guy?"
Liberty retaliated with a look of vague confusion.
"No. You don't. That's because nobody does. That's because it doesn't happen. Have you stopped to think about what'd happen if I were to ever be completely vanquished?"
Liberty drew himself up to his full height, his features again conveying a sense of absolute confidence and pride.
"The people would rejoice! There would be a national holiday with parades and balloons and-"
"You always were simple. Yes, the people would celebrate, but then what? How much work is there for a superhero who has nobody to fight?"
"There... there's always going to be another villain..."
"No. It's impractical, it's expensive and it's thankless work, Liberty. You ever try buying nerve gas on the black market? It's a flaming king's ransom. And don't even get me started on trying to buy insurance when your job title is "megalomaniac". Just don't."
"So I'd be out of work?"
"Yeah, you would. And you're not trained to do ANYTHING, are you? Just to sit there, look pretty and punch me in the head whenever we meet."
Liberty sat down heavily in the rain, his face stricken with panic. Mesmo saw his opening.
"And then what happens? Nobody tries to steal the giant diamond when I'm gone. Nobody threatens the megacorporations with death rays if I die. No. All the companies, the law enforcement agencies, the people, they all grow overconfident and cocky. They leave themselves open. Petty crime goes on the rise, eventually leading to organised crime, political and social corruption. And you know who they'll blame, right?"
"Oh God..."
"They'll blame Liberty Lad. They'll blame the guy who's sat in his apartment eating Doritos and watching TV all day because superheroes can't handle regular crimes. Because when you use super strength to punch a regular criminal, he stays down and he stays dead. They'll turn on you, Liberty. You can't fight them all. You can't fight any of them."
The broken, beaten, spandex-clad crusader began sobbing.
"It's true! It's so true, I'm worthless! There's got to be another way, I can't live like that!"
"But there is. And it's one you're good at, too."
Mesmo paused for effect.
"You could let me go."
"... what?"
"Let me go. Let me live to fight another day. Let me shake up those dullards, darken their days with a nefarious sceheme by me, brighten up their mundane little lives with a display of mindless heroism from you. It's a parasitic relationship, sure, but it'll keep us aboard the gravy train for the rest of our lives."
Exhausted from the effort and mildly afraid of the laser pistol still pointed at his head, Mesmo's head dropped back against the concrete slab he was sat on. He felt his counsciousness slip away as the cold, pounding rain beat down on him.
Some time later, he awoke in a bed with nurses surrounding him. He discovered that he'd been admitted to the most reputable medical facility in the city and that the bill was to be covered by Neomegatropolis' law enforcement orgnisation.

From then on, the fights between the pair became ever more spectacular, but unknown to the public, they hardly ever actually hurt each other. Parades and awards ceremonies were held, but any rewards got converted to mysterious blank checks, sent to remote locations, often within the operating territory of known arms dealers. The circle of life carried on.
After all, Liberty Lad may not have been the sharpest pencil in the box, but he knew a free lunch when he saw it.

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