(WP) The Price of Power

(WP) The Price of Power

               “Your mission is to neutralize the superheroes that have been corrupted by their powers.”

               My boss looked up at me from her place at her desk, frowning silently.

               “I’m sorry to do this to you so soon, as you’re so green. But alas, time isn’t exactly on our side. Depending on how powerful the superhero’s abilities are, the more quickly that they are corrupted.

               Hate to break it to ya, kid, but you’re part of our last line of defense.”

               “All right, Captain. Who’s the mark this time?”

               I knew it sounded cold, but I couldn’t have done my job, had I seen them as anything more than a mark. All too often, I’d seen humanity corrupted by power they could not even begin to control, but until now, I’d been the sidekick. The second banana. The comic relief.

               Now, though, it looked like it was high time to step into a hero’s shoes.

               Still, I couldn’t ignore the fact that eventually, I’d be just like the monsters that I made a living taking out.

               I bit back a shudder; it would not do to show nervousness right about now.

               The Captain stared at me for a moment, studying me as if looking for holes in my armor, then turned her chair around and began to rifle through her filing cabinet, swearing quietly under her breath.

               Finally, she pulled out a thick file and pushed it toward me across the desk.

               I opened the file and was greeted by a snapshot of a slender, pale young woman with fanged teeth and a bloody grin. Below that were pages and pages of reports, photos, psych evals, scientific testing. It was all here.

               Still, I wanted to hear it from the captain.

               “She calls herself The Red Lady,” She said quietly. “Her powers were initially for healing. Used to be a nurse, one of the best in her field. But when she became corrupted, her blood began to infect her. She grew strong and eventually insane, and everyone else we sent to apprehend her was gravely injured or killed.”

               “No pressure, huh?” I deadpanned. She gave me a sad smile in return.

               “Go get ‘em, kid. And try not to die.”

               **

               When I arrived at the hospital that The Red Lady was holding hostage, the whole place was (understandably) in a panic.

               She was standing on top of the check in desk, clad in a tight scarlet bodysuit. Her face was covered by a white mask, and I couldn’t see if it was really her, but the holdup was confirmation enough.

               “Stop!” I yelled, and everything, all the sounds, narrowed to just that point. Her head swiveled in my direction, and a manic laugh bubbled up from behind her mask.

               “They’ve sent another wannabe to try and take me in?”

               I didn’t exactly have time to exchange pithy banter.

               After all, it was only a matter of time until my own internal clock began to tick toward my own implosion.

               In the meantime, I had a job to do.

               **