Lord Adeptus stood triumphant. It had been a titanic battle, statures were used as weapons, buildings had been toppled, and the Capitalopous City zoo’s animals now roamed unhindered. Not part of the plan, but the added soupçon of chaos pleased the super-villain. He considered it a happy accident.
His arch-rivals, Courage Incorporated, lay defeated before him. The Mighty Singularity-collapsed, Joan of Arc-Lightning-shorted out, The Incredible Egg-cracked, Dog-Man-playing dead, and The Marathoner (world’s fastest woman)-immobile.
Well, nearly all. One hero remained, Ms. Bubble-Elastic. Considered the weakest of Courage Incorporated, while her stretching was amazing, she merely had human strength, which made her a far less effective combatant than her teammates. The living Rubber Band, as she was sometimes called by the media, was tied up neatly with a bow. Literally.
It was everything he ever dreamed of. And now for the victory speech. While he wished all his foes could hear him, Lord Adeptus had micro drones recording this pivotal moment in history so everyone would see it. Additionally, it was streaming live, then be available on all platforms due to his excellent coding acumen. He cleared his throat and began.
“People of the world, behold your so-called heroes, brought low. It was I, Lord Adeptus, your new master who has done this. Too long have the nations of Earth squabbled over their petty differences. At last, you all will know peace under my benevolent and unbreakable rule.
“No one,” he gestured to the prone heroes before him, “is left to oppose me.”
“That’s not really true,” observed Ms. Bubble-Elastic.
Lord Adeptus smirked, he was especially good at smirking. He practiced it quite a bit.
“Perhaps you missed the part of the story where I soundly defeated you and your ‘so-called’ heroes!”
“First, we aren’t ‘so-called.’ We’re are actual heroes. Only guys like you dispute that. Second, there are a lot of heroes around the world. A LOT!”
“Bah!” decried Lord Adeptus (he was a big BAH guy), “They matter not!”
“Do you want me to list them?” asked the pliable hero.
“No!” replied Lord Adeptus, who was not happy about his monolog becoming a dialogue.
“There’s the Feminist Five, The Superior Society, The Olympus Club, The Adjusters, Les Protecteurs de Paris, The Z-People, The Sidekickers, Aliens for Earth, Warriors of Wushu, The Homegrown Heroes-”
“And they all shall fall!” declared the super-villain.
“Of course there are all the solo heroes, Mistress Might, After-Dark Detective, Astounding Arachnid, Bellowing Bulko, Mister Sprightly, Shinky Dink, Forestina, Major Attitude, Hot Mess, Sound Check-”
“They will be dealt with!” asserted Lord Adeptus, who was less than pleased with how his victory speech was going. In fact, it was at this point that he cut the live feed. It could be fixed in post.
“Let’s say that you have a plan for everyone, including Prankasuarus, the world’s trickiest dinosaur,” began Ms. Bubble-Elastic.
“I don’t need to say it because I do,” interjected Lord Adeptus.
“Do you have a plan for all the other super-villains?” she finished.
“They will all have a place in my new regime.”
“Because villains never backstab each other in the last minute in a power grab.”
“Well, it won’t happen this time.”
“Because?” inquired Ms. Bubble-Elastic.
“The entire world has seen my indisputable superiority! None dare challenge me!”
“That is a LOT of confidence.”
“Founded in my innate primacy!”
Ms. Bubble-Elastic chuckled and said, “Okay then.”
“I have prepared for every eventuality.”
“Oh, I’m sure you have.”
“Absolutely,” stated Lord Adeptus
“Care to share with the class?”
“It’s very complicated, I doubt you would grasp it,” he said offhandedly.
“Can I ask you something?”
“You just did,” Lord Adeptus smugly replied.
“C’mon, you’re better than that.”
Lord Adeptus paused, blushing beneath his titanium tech-mask. He had immediately regretted saying that.
“Very well, present your query,” he said in what he hoped was a magnanimous timber.
“Why do you want to rule the world?”
No one had ever asked him this.
“Because,” he said, “it is my destiny!”
Laughter exploded from Ms. Bubble-Elastic. It echoed off the ragged remains of buildings and sent a flock of pigeons that were scavenging crumbs from a nearby bagel place whose windows had been shattered in the fight.
“That was NOT a jest!” shouted Lord Adeptus.
“I mean, it’s just silly,” she pointed out.
“Lord Adeptus is many things, but he is never silly!”
“Listen, if it was your destiny, why didn’t it happen before?”
“That’s not how it works…”
“Oh, okay,” she agreed with her own smirk.
Striking a pose on a broken statue, Lord Adeptus began to speechify again, “Kneel before me Earth, and embrace your new role as my grateful subjects!”
“It just seems like a lot of work,” observed Ms. Bubble-Elastic.
“What?” shouted Lord Adeptus, whose patience was being really put to the test.
“Ruling the world.”
“Ha! I am more than capable of such a task!”
“So you have a plan?”
“What’s your outline for infrastructure, healthcare, social services, education, family leave, the logjam in the legal system, the fact that most corporations aren’t paying any taxes whatsoever when working families are struggling just to keep a roof over their heads or feed their children. Just to name a few of the things that will be on your plate.”
Energy crackled over the armored supervillain. This was one of his signature intimidation moves. It had cowed many a foe. Ms. Bubble-Elastic just stared at him like she was waiting for a toddler to finish his tantrum.
“Your courage is to be admired, my rubbery foe, many have quaked in fear of my might!” he said, trying to get control of this conversation.
“Well, I admire your courage, to take on so many issues that have divided people for many, many years. It’s going to be a lot of work. Clear that schedule!”
“I, Lord Adeptus, alone can make this world a paradise!”
“You’re not getting help?”
“I will employ the finest minds to aid me in repairing the world.”
“So, it won’t be you ALONE then.”
“No, I mean yes! I will spearhead these initiatives!”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, to get stuff done, you’ll be in discussions and reading policy papers all the time. And let’s face it, there will be a lot of debate about how to do what you want.”
“Did you forget about the finest minds I will summon?” he pointed out.
“Because smart people never argue about how to get things done. The truth of it will be that you won’t know till you try out what they give you. Oh, I’m sure they won’t try to undermine their rivals to get their idea done.”
“But… Finest minds” offered Lord Adeptus.
“I can’t even get this group,” she nodded towards her fallen teammates, “To agree on what to order for dinner. This one wants Thai but that one had Thai for lunch. Then someone else wants pizza and God help us when we bring up toppings. It’s a whole thing. But I’m sure your finest minds will all work together in perfect harmony.”
Lord Adeptus sat on the rubble and pondered this. It had all seemed so easy when he planned it. Rule the world. Make sweeping changes. Be adored. All the other times he made a strategic retreat (never a defeat), it had only strengthened his resolve.
Now that it was in his grasp, something occurred to him that he had not yet considered. Did he really want to be the undisputed Emperor of Earth? Did Emperors get to do what wanted to all the time? Probably. Maybe? Would that make him bad at being an Emperor?
She was right about the other super-villains. They were, on a whole, an untrustworthy lot. There would be coups, assassination attempts, probably somebody switching nonsense. He could kill them all but it’s not like more wouldn’t just appear. It was exhausting just thinking about it.
He knew his path was set. He knew he was mighty enough to stride down it. Few could, perhaps only him. Indeed, only he could do what was necessary.
The first Emperor of Earth reactivated his live feed, stood, and proclaimed, “I Lord Adeptus have this to proclaim. There are many ills that plague our world, but it is the duty of humanity, to cure these. You should not, nay cannot look to Lord Adeptus to save you. When people are wise enough to lift themselves out of the mire that they themselves have created, on that day, and not before, will I return to rule! Your pleas and tears will not sway me! I am resolute! So says Lord Adeptus!”
And with that, he ignited his hyper-jetpack and flew off into the sky.
Ms. Bubble-Elastic untied herself, as she could’ve done all along being the Living Rubber-band, and called for the meta-human EMTs.
After aiding with clean-up and rescue, she was interviewed by the media. They asked her what happened in that when no one could hear them? How did she do the seemingly impossible? What did she say to make someone like Lord Adeptus give up his dreams of world conquest, even as they were there within his grasp?
With a wry smile, she said, “Well, at the end of the day, no one wants to go to meetings.”