I kept my eyes on the passage behind us, my heart pounding in my ears. We’d managed to defeat all of the Kill-Bots we’d encountered so far, but I knew that Dr. Hazard always kept reinforcements.
“Boss, we need to hurry!” I called out, the concern clear in my voice.
But my boss, mentor, and all-around hero had other concerns.
“Captain Electric! And his little errand boy, PowerPlug!” The voice, filled with deep, booming menace, rolled out around the chamber. I glanced back again and saw the supervillain himself, Dr. Hazard, step forward, out from behind the main power console.
“Dr. Hazard,” my mentor, Captain Electric, growled in return. “Haven’t you learned that you’ll never win with these nefarious deeds?”
I half expected the villainous Doctor to not even respond, but to open fire immediately on my hero. The man was certifiably insane, after all! But instead, he simply spread his arms wide, grinning down at the hero facing him.
“Captain, I’ve thought long and hard since our last conversation,” Dr. Hazard boomed out, his voice projecting out from beneath the deep, shadowed hood and mask that he always wore. We’d never seen the villain’s face. “And you know what I’ve realized?”
And then, to my shock and amazement, the man reached up and pulled that mask away.
“I’ve realized that you’re right,” he announced, as we both stared up at him.
Of course, Cap was faster on the uptake than me. That’s why he’s the hero, after all, and I’m the sidekick – and I’m okay with that! It’s his genius that let him build his gadgets to give him control over the power of electricity. I’m just grateful that he shared them with me.
But even though Cap responded before me, he was definitely thrown. “Hazard, what are you talking about?” he called out.
“My bots!” Hazard returned, running one hand through his hair. He was surprisingly young, I couldn’t help noticing. And with that mask gone, he didn’t look like a villain.
He almost looked like a hero.
“My bots that I’ve spread out around the world!” Hazard went on, gesturing at the massive electronic screen behind him. “I’m not out to destroy humanity, Captain – I want to help it!”
“Don’t listen to him, Cap!” I shouted out, hearing the tell-tale sound of clinking Kill-Bots coming closer in the corridors.
But the Cap had his head cocked to one side, confused. “Help it how?” he asked.
“We can do so much, we have so much potential!” Hazard replied, his voice straining with emotion. “Just think of all the amazing things that we’ve created! But so much of humanity has grown fat and lazy, relying on these older inventions, not thinking of the future.
“If we truly want to save our planet, to keep on advancing, we must leave behind the past!” Hazard finished, waving his hand up at the screen. “Coal plants, whaling ships, all of these archaic remnants of our vicious past – we don’t need them! Only once they are gone can we look forward to our future!”
I waited for Cap’s rebuttal, but he didn’t say anything. I glanced at him, and he looked stunned by this announcement. “Hazard, you’re insane!” I shouted back, since my hero was thinking of something else. Undoubtedly, the man was formulating a plan. “You’re going to kill millions!”
“But I won’t!” the villain shouted back at me. “Sure, a few will die – but my bots will not just destroy the old, but build newer, more advanced technology in their place! It’s an upgrade for the whole world!”
“You’re insane!” I yelled, expecting Cap to support me.
But instead, his voice was low, quiet.
I spun around, staring at the man, my hero and mentor, my jaw dropping open. “Cap, what the hell are you talking about?”
“He’s right,” the Captain repeated, his voice a little stronger now. “All this time, all these years – Harry, I’ve always fought for humanity, but where has it gotten us?”
“Where has it gotten us??” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “Cap, we’ve saved the world a dozen times over!”
“And yet, it hasn’t changed!” Hazard chimed in. “Every time you save the world, it doesn’t get better – it just reverts to its same old, uncaring ways! We still inflict pain on each other, destroy the planet beneath us, because there’s no one looking forward!”
I stared in shock and betrayal as the Captain nodded along with this. “I’ve always thought that we would correct our course, take the right path,” he said quietly, almost to himself. “But it’s been twenty years, and that still hasn’t happened.”
“And it never will,” Hazard finished. “Not without our help.”
As soon as Dr. Hazard had appeared, the Captain had raised his arms, bolts of electricity crackling at their ends, ready to arc out from his power gloves. But now, he relaxed, lowering those arms, and the electricity faded away.
With their crackling gone, silence filled the chamber.
I couldn’t believe this was happening. “Cap, you can’t give up, can’t turn to the dark side!” I shouted out at the man. I blinked furiously, feeling little drops of water welling up at the corners of my eyes.
“Is it the dark side, though?” the man asked me, his voice still calm, sounding as if he was conversing about the weather. “Come on, Harry! We’ve fought for years, and yet nothing changes!”
“That’s a good thing!” I cried out, imploring the man to see sense.
But Cap just shook his head, looking down at the floor. “No, Harry.” His voice was barely above a whisper. “It’s bad.
“We aren’t saving the world, my old friend. We’re holding it back.”
And then, as I watched, my vision growing cloudy from tears, the Captain stepped forward, to stand beside Dr. Hazard.
Not as his enemy.
As his ally.
To be continued…