“Captain…” I felt paralyzed, unable to move, unable to think. This couldn’t happen. My own mentor, my oldest and strongest friend, the pillar of my entire life – he had just turned against everything we’d believed in, everything we had fought for over the last two decades.
“I’m doing my best to avoid any unnecessary loss,” the supervillain responded. “We’re mainly targeting the structural components, setting off alarms whenever possible. Most people should have time to escape. And the backup systems will kick in as soon as my bots have constructed them.”
“Good, good,” the Cap nodded. “And the armed forces outside this compound-“
“Not a problem. I’ve already dispatched legions out to stop them from storming the building before I’ve sent out the signal.”
I shook my head, abandoned and left alone as the two men discussed their new plan. Tears weren’t just welling up in my eyes, now – they were tracing their way down my face, over the fabric hood I wore to conceal my identity, dripping down onto my armor panels and then tracing paths down to the floor.
My oldest friend, the one man I relied on as a pillar of morality. He couldn’t think this way, couldn’t give up.
But he had.
And now, there was no one left. No one to turn to, no one to save the world.
The only one left… was me.
I couldn’t be the sidekick any more.
For once in my life, for the first – and last – time, I had to be the hero.
Slowly, I started forward, walking across the chamber. I could hear the Kill-Bots drawing very close, now, and knew that they’d be in the chamber in moments. And without the Cap’s help, I couldn’t fight them off. I tried to be surreptitious as i punched the one code I’d hoped to never use into my wrist-mounted control panel on my armor suit.
As I drew in close to the two men, Cap glanced up at me. “Harry,” he said, his voice filled with all that old emotion, the love I knew he felt for me. “Come, my friend. This is the right thing to do.”
“No, Cap.” My voice was choked with emotion, with tears. “It’s wrong. Please, we can’t do this. It’s not our place.”
“It can be our place.” Hazard stepped up alongside Cap, reaching out and putting one gloved hand on the superhero’s shoulder. “Don’t you see, PowerPlug? We have the chance to help humanity, to do more for our race than we’ve accomplished in the last hundred years! To save ourselves!”
I shook my head, looking down so they wouldn’t see my eyes. “No. I can’t.”
“Then I’m sorry, my old friend.” The Cap’s voice sounded wistful, but he still held that ring of conviction. I’d heard that ringing in his voice when he spoke about saving every life, when he spoke about defending the world against villains like Hazard.
This would be the last time I heard that voice.
“I’m sorry too,” I said.
Perhaps something there, in my voice, gave it away. Hazard was already turning away, but the Cap looked up, saw into my true mind.
Behind his half-face mask, I saw his eyes go wide, his hand come up to reach for me. I didn’t know what he would have done, whether he would have just grabbed me, tried to stop me, or if he would have delivered the killing electrical blow.
But he was too late.
My finger pushed down on the button on my wrist.
And for just a moment, as my power source melted down and went critical, catalyzing an explosion that would wipe this entire facility – and everything within a quarter mile – off the map, I saw the man’s eyes.
My mentor’s eyes.
They looked almost… peaceful.
To be concluded!