Villains Don't Train Heroes!(2)

By: Mia Archer


“Right,” she said, putting a distracting finger to my lips and stopping my rambling. “So what was the villain’s answer?”

“Practice, practice, practice.”

“That makes no sense at all,” she said. “If it was a musician then…”

I shrugged and talked right over her. She was ruining my profound lesson. “Maybe it doesn’t make sense with the role change, but the lesson is the same whether it’s a musician trying to perform in a popular venue or a villain hell-bent on ransoming landmarks for a shitload of money.”

“Right, and what’s that lesson?” she asked. “Because I think it sort of got lost in the retelling there.”

“The lesson is it’s going to take practice. Duh. Whether you’re a villain or a musician, you have to practice to get good at what you do.”

“But I’m not a villain,” she said. “And neither are you. Not anymore.”

I turned away just in time to suppress the frown that percolated up as she said that. I wasn’t as sure about that whole “no more villainy” thing as she was, but for the sake of relationship harmony that was one argument I wasn’t touching with a disintegrator ray with an infinite range.

Sure I’d been doing heroic stuff, but that was mostly because I kept getting dragged into situations where my attempted villainy led to heroism. Talk about frustrating.

“You okay Natalie?” she asked.

“I’m fine,” I said, searching for a distraction. “But I’ll be better as soon as you’re back at flight training.”

She let out a frustrated growl. She’d been doing that a lot lately. It was the kind of frustrated growl that might have me worried if it weren’t for the fact that she was decidedly mortal now. Her anatomy even resembled a human’s so closely that my medbay couldn’t tell the difference.

Yeah. Whatever the hell Dr. Lana had done to her, she’d sure worked her over good. It was enough to make me want to scream in frustration.

Particularly since the villain had managed to escape every time I’d smacked her down in recent history. Once because she’d managed to legitimately escape. The second time she’d exhibited a healing ability that went beyond anything that was natural. Then there was the third time when my dumbass lured her into a trap and then forgot that the last part of that trap involved teleporting remains to the dump where she was presumably regenerating right now.

Oops.

That healing wasn’t natural. I don’t care who you are. When you get shot right through the midsection and have a healthy chunk of your internal organs destroyed you’re supposed to fall down and die, damn it.

The fact that she didn’t wasn’t worrisome.

“Actually. The first time I flew using my powers it was kind of intuitive,” she said. “It was like I could use my mind to control the direction I was going and that was that.”

My mouth compressed to a thin line. I thought of all the times I’d been in crashes similar to what she’d just pulled. The big difference being I didn’t have the advantage of a training room dedicated solely to flight practice back when I was first figuring out how to give gravity a big middle finger.

Not to mention I didn’t have shield technology that was anywhere near as reliable as the stuff she wore.

“Yes, well I can tell you there’s nothing intuitive about screaming through the air using a bunch of anti-gravity technology strategically placed around one of these suits. It’s something you have to get used to controlling.”

She held up the little control box I’d given her. It was a primitive thing. What I’d used when I was first learning how to fly with antigrav.

“But you never use anything like this,” she said. “I should know. I’ve watched you pretty closely when you’re flying around trying to save the city.”

I put my head in my hands. That was one reference to heroics too many. I shouldn’t have been as annoyed as I suddenly felt, but her talking about me like I was some hero coupled with my recent defeats at the hands of Dr. Lana had me short and testy.

“Please don’t say that,” I said.