By Noodle36 (via reddit)
Let’s say Mr. Incredible was the kind of deep thinker it takes to recognise that most 11-year-olds don’t invent functional rocket boots. Buddy becomes his sidekick, helps him subdue Bomb Voyage, and becomes the guest of honour at the wedding. Then it’s time for the newly-forged team - The Incredibles - to hit the streets.
Straight away Mr. Incredible is airborne, he’s throwing homing beacons. Six months down the line he’s got drone support, he’s got AI analysing crime patterns, profiling supercriminals. He’s Superman plus Batman. A year down the line there’s no questioning it, he’s unstoppable, his effectiveness enhanced to the point of being significant on a geopolitical scale.
A big lawsuit looked like being a problem for a while, but the case went away before reaching trial when the plaintiff was himself the ironic victim of supercrime - one day he was found in his locked apartment turned inside out. Horrifically, it appeared that whichever supervillain did this had ingeniously contrived to keep him alive in this state for at least several minutes.
The lawsuit wouldn’t have mattered anyway, because before it could have come to trial, Mr. Incredible and Incrediboy were already indispensable. The perfect combination of brawn and brains meant they had rounded up and defeated the nation’s supervillains in the first six months, and soon the technologically-enhanced Mr. Incredible was ready to respond to a trouble spot anywhere in the world within minutes, dropping from a custom-designed sub-orbital rocket in a suit of flying battle armour that would have made him almost unstoppable even without his superpowers.
But more importantly, technology sharing has thrown the US military forward generations in just a few years. Incredibles tech quickly makes DARPA irrelevant. As long as the military technology tap is turned on, Mr. Incredible is untouchable. Other lawsuits come, for other supers, and soon they’re relocated or driven underground, but the Incredibles go on, given special protection in legislation, making them something like a cross between a government agency and a Top Secret special operations command.
Mr. Incredible is happy. Maybe he works a little too much, sure. Being the first line of response for the world’s greatest superpower to any global wrong is a heady drug for a man like him. Nonetheless, Helen is happy, too, and with the security of an almost crime-free society and Mr. Incredible’s government salary (in the neighbourhood of $500,000 a year), the timeline of their children being born is significantly accelerated, with Violet, Dash and Jack all born within 18 months of one another. Soon Helen is as deeply sunk in domestic bliss as Bob is in his globetrotting adventures, which after all, rarely last more than a day or so.
Incrediboy is less satisfied. While he came to this life seeking glory and adventure, it had quickly become obvious that he was a hundred times more valuable in the laboratory or using the Incrediputer to analyse threats than in the field, and he was soon strongly discouraged from talking to the press when it became clear just how important he would be to national security. And the salary which seems so lavish to Bob and Helen is small beer to him, as he watches multiple billion-dollar startups flourish by aping his innovations.
It’s been ten years. Mr. Incredible receives a call to respond to a terrorist incident in Colombia. FARC guerillas, after being driven underground and to the edge of extinction five years ago, have reemerged and seized control of a former military installation in Bogota, taking dozens of hostages. High resolution, multi-layer scans from Incrediboy’s network of cheap, high-performance mini-satellites indicate they have only small arms, and the hostages are held in a single location without booby-traps. The plan is simple, drop straight in, backed by a team of SEALbots, maximum force and momentum to deactivate all hostiles before a shot is fired. They’re overhead and launching into their attack drop within the hour.
But the drop doesn’t go as planned, the scans were wrong. Instead of primitive AK-74s and RPG-7s, the guerillas are using anti-air electronic counter-measure turrets and swarming explosive drones. Few of the SEALbots survive the descent, none last more than thirty seconds on the ground. Mr. Incredible’s battle armour is shutdown in midair. Luckily, he manages to aim for a sewer line that runs through the centre of the drop zone, using the momentum of the fallings tons of dead metal to smash through the few feet of concrete and packed gravel protecting the pipe. Using his old skills, he’s able to stealthilty defeat the guerillas, free the hostages, and gracefully accept the Colombian government’s offer of a first-class ticket home. Honestly, though, the low-penetration shrapnel of the swarming anti-personnel drones used by the guerillas were never likely to have been particularly effective against him, he was probably never in any real danger.
Incrediboy, though is baffled and disturbed. No one they’ve faced has been so well-equipped. No one else has ever managed to find the flaws in his tech these ECM turrets have. Clearly, there’s some other super-genius inventor selling tech on the open market. He insists on accompanying Mr. Incredible on following missions, where they increasingly face advanced technology - never so advanced that Incrediboy can’t engineer a way around them, though.
The arms race continues, and Mr. Incredible increasingly finds himself sidelined. He spends as much time batting attackers away from Incrediboy as he works his magic from a field tech-post as he does resolving situations himself.
Eventually, marginalised by Incrediboy from the field work, Mr. Incredible decides to do some investigation. Surely no one could be selling so much technology without making waves. No one makes a billion dollars without spending a few million, and whoever’s supplying the people the Incredibles have been fighting has made at least that. He tries running one of Incrediboy’s first innovations, an AI program that parses global wealth flows for illegal activity. It was designed for a world with a vast and complex black economy, and it had performed admirably. In this new world the Incredibles have created, there’s much less noise, and only one big, flashing red signal - a global arms and technology operation, an enormous red pustule of corruption extending tentacles to nodes around the globe. And who’s behind it? Mr. Incredible thinks perhaps he’d known all along.
You see, if we conclude that Buddy wouldn’t have become an evil psychopath, we’re saying that people are nothing but the result of their environment, and have no moral culpability. I mean, really, in the original timeline, his hero let him down one time. So the fuck what? You know what sort of shit people come through, and then manage to not become arms dealers who murder dozens of people in a quest to fulfill petty fantasies?
No, Buddy was bad, and eventually, that was going to come out. He was never going to be content with true heroism, or keep his inventions to only worthy uses, or remain loyal to his hero and mentor.
Mr. Incredible knows what he has to do, so he rushes to the ready room and dons his battle armour. He’s climbing into a deployment tube, when he’s suddenly rocked by a detonation and blinding white pain. Totally unfamiliar with the deep and crippling feeling of actual injury, he collapses and passes out.
When he comes back to his senses, at least two hours have passed. And Incrediboy is there, bristling with tech, painted in the black-and-white scheme he’d been affecting lately. He’s been asking to be called Syndrome, although of course after ten years with one name, Mr. Incredible has been slow to adjust.
Syndrome explains that the pain Mr. Incredible is feeling is the result of special explosive fragmentation compartments installed in the battle armour, installed as failsafes for just such a day. The armour is locked with zero-point energy, an invention Syndrome had thus far kept to himself, rendering Mr. Incredible unable to move even if his injuries were less severe. Syndrome says the anatomical monitoring devices installed in the armour show that shrapnel has ruptured Mr. Incredible’s bowels, penetrated his kidneys, and reached his spine. If it weren’t for his unusual super resilience, he’d have died within minutes. As it is, Syndrome will be obliged to perform a coup de grâce. But first, he makes sure Mr. Incredible knows that the same trigger that detonated the fragmentation compartments and froze the armour also despatched a team of SEALbots to wipe out the Parr family home.
Broken, Mr. Incredible asks why. Outraged that it’s not obvious, Syndrome launches into a diatribe about how he was mistreated and abused, how he was kept from the limelight and paid a pittance.
Ten minutes later, Syndrome keels over. Helen, Violet, Dash and Jack have arrived. Unaffected by the prohibition on super activity, the kids have developed their powers to a much higher degree than they otherwise would have, and easily defeated the SEALbots. Violet had long ago realised that as a last resort she could open a forcefield in someone’s brain. She didn’t even need to enter the ready room as Syndrome speechified, nor did she hesitate, possessed of the remorseless black-and-white morality of a nine-year-old and encouraged by her father’s status as unaccountable world policeman.
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when a star meets a black hole
This is the first of three pieces I made that are meant to symbolize the high cost of battle between great nations… or that simply include things I find enjoyable to illustrate. It was very nice to meet those of you who came to offer your greetings at the convention. Prints of this image (and other new items) are now available in the emporium!