When Good is Dumb : Deals With the Devil

Wordcount: 1,772 words
Rating/Warnings: PG-13
Summary: This is why super-villains work alone.

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Kat stood outside the gates of the official headquarters of MegaTech and tried to convince herself that she wasn’t making a huge mistake. In theory she was working under a flag of truce and she was in no more danger here than back at her own headquarters, but trusting people wasn’t one of her strong points and trusting people who were flat out Evil even less so.

After a moment one of the door guards coughed politely and she gave him an embarrassed glare. If she wanted to stand and contemplate their building with a less than friendly look on her face, it was her own damned business. Sort of.

She sighed, and walked over to the entrance to the building, trying not to look at either guard.

“Going inside?” The guard sounded amused and she bit back a retort that would have guaranteed she never set foot past the door.

“I have an appointment with Alec.” She dug the folded printout out of her pocket and handed it over for inspection.

The guard read the appointment printout, and then swiped his hand scanner over the printed barcode. The scanner beeped happily and he handed the paper back with a nod. “The first security scanner you just walk through, anything it finds goes in the storage bin to your right when you exit. You’ll get it all back when you leave. The second one will check for anything you might have ‘forgotten’. Go in that one with contraband and you won’t get out again until Alec himself comes down to unlock you. Got it?”

Kat nodded, giving him her best impersonation of an impatient teenager and the guard shrugged. “Your loss if you screw it up.”

She stepped into the first scanner, a short blue tunnel that sparkled cheerily as she walked through it. If Disney made security equipment, the scanner would have been right at home in their showroom. As she stepped out there was a beep and she turned to see the scanner displaying a rather extensive list of things she wasn’t allowed to bring into the building. With a sigh, she started to disarm.

By the time she had unloaded the lat of her weaponry (and her cell phone and her iPod) the guards were watching her with undisguised alarm. She flipped them a rude hand gesture, closed the security seal on the container of her things and dumped it into one of the provided cubbyholes. The containers were standard things, and she was relatively certain she’d know if it had been tampered with when she came out again.

Flag of truce and all that.

She stepped into the second scanner, a narrow tube that closed behind her. There was a rather unnerving hum and an annoyingly alarmed red color scheme to this scanner, but after a moment it gave the same cheery beep as the first and she stepped out the far side and into the building proper.

At which point she was photographed, badged, and give a very clear set of instructions on how to reach Alec’s office– complete with a lecture on the security and monitoring devices that would be watching her every movement. It felt uncomfortably like the lecture her mother had given her about trying to sneak out of the house when she was twelve.

The whole thing would have been amusing, but there was a very good reason Alec was as careful as he was about security. Evil people pick up enemies very very quickly and Alec was as Evil as you could get— at least pre-demon infestation. She wasn’t willing to bet on where he’d be in the line up once the Veil finished shifting.

She set off into the maze of the disturbingly ordinary office building focused on getting in an out as quickly as she could. There was no way Alec would agree to the plan concocted by the Good Guys, which meant the meeting would last roughly five minutes. If she was lucky.

The fact that Alec might decide to save himself the hassle and kill her while she was still in the building was a thought she was trying to ignore. It wasn’t working.

Two elevators, four corridors, a wrong turn into a break room (mmm, coffee) later she found herself talking to a very ordinary secretary in an ordinary waiting room. She’d somehow expected the decorating to reflect the morals of the man in charge and the beige walls and light blue carpeting were really starting to grate on her nerves.

After a brief wait, the assistant motioned for her to go inside. She was proud that she only hesitated a moment before opening the frosted glass door and stepping inside. Unfortunately the other side of the doors was just as beige and just as ordinary looking as the rest of the building. The man sitting at the desk, behind a rather impressive pile of paperwork and three open laptops, looked more like a harried executive than an evil mastermind. He looked up as she entered, and after a flurry of keystrokes, he turned away from the laptops and stood to offer her a hand.

She didn’t take him up on the offer and after a moment he lowered the hand with a grin. “Ah well, shouldn’t expect you to be civil I suppose. This is war after all.”

“It’s the end of the world,” Kat snapped, “not a war.”

“I suppose that’s where we’ll have to disagree.” He sat back down and gestured to the chair she was standing beside. “You can sit you know, I do honor flags of truce after all, otherwise they wouldn’t have sent you.” he raised an eyebrow at her unmasked skepticism. “They do value you, you know. There’s a pretty clear line between sending the best person for the job and sending the most expendable.”

“I’ll believe you when I’m safely outside again.” She toned down the glare a smidge, but only a smidge. Just because the rabid dog looked friendly didn’t mean you gave it a hand to bite.

“Fine, down to business then.” He leaned back in the chair and she could see him brining his legendary focus to bear. “You have a proposition for me?”

“The Society does.” Kat countered, “I’m just a messenger.”

“Then give me your message.” The amused tone was back, somewhat and she found it oddly comforting in comparison with his intensity.

She pulled the rather crumpled paper out of her pocket and unfolded the brief speech provided by the trustee board. “The Chosen One is dead and the thousand years of darkness is almost upon us. Humanity is on the brink of destruction and it is up to those of us who remain to provide its salvation.”

“None of which is news.” He gave her an annoyed look. “And?”

“And if we are to survive, we must work together.”

There was a pause as he waited for her to continue and she finally shrugged and stuffed the paper back into her pocket. “And that’s it.”

“Three sentences.” He raised an eyebrow. “Three sentences that say nothing useful beyond ‘you must help us.’ This is— not really what I expected.”

“I guess they didn’t expect you to say yes,” Kat shrugged, “why waste the time on anything longer?”

“I supposed I should be flattered, not everyone is so adept at assuming the worst of me. Although I have to wonder why they even bothered to send you if they assumed I’d just say no.”

“The Good Guys were rather forceful in their insistence that we ask everyone capable of helping. Why they thought you were capable is mystery to me.” She crossed her arms. “So can I go now?”

“No.” He frowned, “and not ‘no, I’m going to kill you now’, so stop tensing every time I move. No as in ‘no, this doesn’t make sense and I prefer things to make sense.’ Especially before I let the person who is acting illogically leave without explanation.”

“I’m not being illogical.”

“You’ve come into the stronghold of someone who could, charitably, be called your arch-nemesis in order to read me three sentences of pointless drivel and then walk back out again. And that, my dear, is not particularly logical. You could have just emailed me. Or called. Or, in all honesty, you could have faxed it over. It’s not like the message was particularly covert, unless there is some sort of code I’m overlooking.”

“I don’t know why we had to ask you in person, I’m pretty sure that was part of the requirements they gave us. Something about human empathy or some crap. Plus I’m the only person who might make it back out of here alive, since I’m the only one who’s ever even thought about breaking in before.”

“You thought about breaking in?” The thought apparently amused him, which infuriated her.

“It’s not impossible!”

“No, just highly improbable.” He grinned.

“Just say no so I can leave.” She grumped.

“Why don’t I say ‘yes’ and then you can leave.” He raised an eyebrow at her startled look. “I am in the saving the world business you know.”

“You aren’t saving the world!” She snapped “You kill jobs, destroy communities, and actively trying to undermine our society!”

“I am rebuilding the world in my own image, which I would like to point out, is a valid application of the American Dream. I think I have a better idea and I am doing my best to implement it. If you notice all of the communities we’ve ‘destroyed’ are doing much better now that we’ve ‘undermined their societies’. The Society on the other hand is in the business of killing people.”

“It’s called ‘conflict resolution’ and it’s the only way to deal with Evil.” She gave him a meaningful glare.

“It’s called killing people.” He snapped, “Which, if you notice, I don’t do.”

“No, you just ruin their lives to the point they end up killing themselves.”

“That was one person! It’s not my fault if out of the hundreds of thousands of people my company interacts with one of them does something incredibly stupid.”

“At least I’m honest about what I do.”

“I don’t think the people you killed care if you were being ‘honest’ about it.”

“So say ‘no’ and I’ll go home and you can have your ivory tower and delusional white knighthood uninterrupted.”

“I’m not letting you save humanity by yourself; you’d end up killing off what little humanity survives!”

“Then say yes, say no, I don’t care, just give me an answer so I can leave!”

“Then yes, goddammit!”

And she was gone.

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Martha Bechtel

My name is Martha Bechtel and I write fantasy and science fiction stories, paint small model horses silly colors, cast resin and plaster magnets, code random code (and Wordpress plugins)... Come on in and join in the fun!

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