Twig

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Chapter 8

I got to see the hero’s hideout and a super villain’s lair, all in the same week. The Trio’s base of operations was underground, but King stayed in one of the tallest buildings in the city. He dragged Cloud and me from Section 5 to the artic Section 8 to reach his metallic workshop in the sky. It was an owl’s nest with a view of the city few would ever see. I might have savored the sight had I not been freezing.

“What do you want with us?” I asked from the confines of a cold cell while my teeth chattered uncontrollably.

Section 8 was located in a highland, which made it chilly enough, but at the top of a skyscraper lacking heaters, it was near unbearable. King, with his metal-plated skin, likely didn’t notice.

“You are quite the wonder. Did you know that?” He spoke to me while climbing out of his big suit of robotic armor.

I suppose we were in his war room, or maybe a garage of sorts. There were plenty of other machines and weapons lining various walls.

“What do you want with us?” I repeated.

“Your body, your cells, I have never seen anything quite like them before,” he continued without addressing my question.

I looked around for a possible way out. From the inside of a cell, my view was limited, but I saw a good portion of the room. There were several staircases and doorways, but I couldn’t say for sure where any of them would lead. Worse was the fact that King held Cloud in a different room, a room I’d have to find in order to rescue my friend before escaping.

“You are going to help me,” King said, standing in front of me on the other side of my cell.

He fixed his collar and straightened his red cape before resting his body in a soldier like stance.

“...No,” I said after squinting my eyes at the cavalier metal man.

He had an air about him as if nothing was severe, and yet he dressed like a monarch and had the posture of a dictator

“You must allow me to finish. You are going to help me, or I’ll kill your friend,” he added with an almost playful inflection.

“How would I help you?” I asked.

“To put it bluntly, you already have. Your intervention in events as of late has led to the heroes being utterly distracted. I wish for you to keep this trend,” he informed me.

“You want me to distract The Trio?”

“Yes! Was I not clear?”

“I’m not helping you,” I reiterated.

The idea of standing in the way of Scarlett, Hatch, or Kid Ninja was insane. I couldn’t imagine facing them after the warning Kid gave me. Invulnerable or not, being stabbed hurt.

“Your abilities must come with a short attention span or an even shorter memory. I will kill you and your friend if you deny me,” King added.

“You can’t kill me, or haven’t you noticed,” I argued confidently while I had a gaping hole through my chest healing itself.

The mad king went silent. After taking a step forward, I’m sure he meant to intimidate me.

“I am a man of science, so if your theory is I can not do permanent harm, I am more than happy to test it. But your friend, I doubt he’ll last half as long as you would,” King threatened.

Was he even real? Was King alive? His voice was dramatic and profound, but his face was lifeless. Only his eyes and eyebrows moved. His mouth was little more than a hole under his fake mustache. I couldn’t read him. I couldn’t understand his motivations or sense anything beyond what the inflections of his voice gave away.

“You should thank me. I’m allowing you to be a part of something wonderful,” King added as he turned his back to me.

His Cape swished in the air blocking my view until he walked far enough to see around his body. I held the bars of my cell door with anticipation.

“Do you Know what Mock City is?” He asked.

“A city,” I said sarcastically.

He sighed as if annoyed.

“Yes, but there was a time when it was more than that. It was a world between worlds, Mock World,” he said.

“If this is going to turn into a long philosophical speech or a monologue,” I undermined the metal menace.

“More of a history lesson,” he answered as if oblivious to my sarcasm.

He walked over to a large switch on the opposite side of the room on a wall.

“Mock World was a planet doomed to meet its end. Faced with overpopulation, radiation, and climate catastrophes, there was no hope of survival. Though someone found a solution,” he continued his story while pulling the switch and subsequently opening my cell door.

I didn’t move. He kept his eyes on me, and I did the same.

“A scientist created a machine capable of searching foreign worlds and teleporting their resources here. Unfortunately, while the machine was successful in saving the planet, it was too slow. By the time a portion of the environment was livable again, most of Mock World’s people had inevitably died. Only this City remained,” King continued.

He picked up a gun, a Glock, from a rack of handguns. Of all the weapons he owned, that one seemed the most simplistic. He carried it on his way back to me.

“Are you telling me a machine is responsible for bringing everyone here?” I questioned while I took an uneasy step back.

“Yes, and I plan to build my own capable of nullifying and reversing the effects of the original,” he said.

The door was open. Despite his gun, I could have escaped, but Cloud was trapped.

“Do you understand? I can get you back home, if you help me,” King attempted to reason with me while speaking of the impossible.

“Mock City is the only world I’ve ever known, and you’re evil,” I answered and took a step forward facing my captor.

I couldn’t believe anything while I was locked in a cell, but my door was open. Could it be true?

“Is this the world you were meant for?”

He stood far enough to allow me to leave my cell but close enough to push me in it had I done anything stupid.

“My home world was a technological wonderland. Living in this place for half a decade, I long to return to paradise. Don’t you wish to return to your people,” he almost seemed broken in his pleading.

Standing just outside my cell, I held still as he raised his weapon to my head. With my hands up, I didn’t move.

“You kill people,” I argued from the wrong end of a gun barrel.

“People?” King laughed, “The inhabitants of this city are vermin, insects, trivial creatures standing between my return to glory.”

“You think because you’re so smart, the rest of us aren’t worth anything,” I said.

He lowered the gun from between my eyes down to my chest. Had he taken a shot, it might have gone through the already empty hole I had.

“Anyone willing to stay in this prison without searching for a way out has already given up on living. In my world, I was far from the highest of minds, but I know better than to succumb to Stockholm syndrome,” he added.

We took a breath, and with it, King lowered his weapon down to his side. It didn’t matter if I was in a cell or at gunpoint. I was trapped until Cloud was safe, but I believed King thought his fairy tale was enough to persuade my cooperation.

“Regardless of your ‘reservations,’ you will help me,” he said before handing me the gun.

Perhaps it was a sign. I failed at being a hero; maybe I’d have better luck as a villain?

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