Villains Inc_ - By Marion G. Harmon

Chapter One

Before the Event, weapons of mass destruction, nuclear, chemical, and biological, remained beyond the reach of terrorist organizations. Terrorist attacks by individuals, although explosive-enhanced, could only be perpetrated against soft targets.

The Event has changed everything; now super-terrorists can strike anytime, anywhere, and even assault or stand off conventional military forces. Worse, Verne-type superhumans are often capable of making more exotic weapons of terror. Some, particularly of the save-the-world ecoterrorist flavor, are highly motivated to do just that. A perfect example is the Godzilla Plague.

Sir Arthur Moore, War in the Heroic Age

* * *

“Nuts!” I swore when the godzilla came over the harbor wall.

Beside me the Bees, their eyes wide as saucers, watched it pull itself up. Lake-water poured off of its sides.

Then Megan snickered. “Nuts? Is that seriously the best you’ve got?”

That—and the screaming crowd—broke the spell for Julie and Annabeth. It was a beautiful spring day and I’d had no duties, so all three Bees had dragged me to Navy Pier for Chicago’s first warm weekend. Things were getting better, but after the last four awful months they were still in “Don’t let Hope mope” mode.

So of course it was our turn.

The creature splashed into the harbor, rocking ships as it half-swam, half-waded towards the pier, and the Bees clustered in around me as the rest of the weekend crowd turned into a fleeing mob. News-footage of the other attacks hadn’t really prepared me for how big it was, and I fumbled in my bag for my earbug.

“Hope?” Shelly queried when I got the earbug in.

“I’m on the pier!” I responded, reaching out to grab Annabeth when a rude man and his date shoved her out of their way.

“You’re there? Cameras just caught it—how fast is it coming?” My BFF and Dispatch wingman, Shelly sounded calmer than I was.

“Not fast, but—” Behind me the park music died. Looking back, I saw the Ferris wheel jerk to a halt, cars swinging. My earbug snarled and popped, but—thank God—didn’t die too. “The critter’s electromagnetic pulse field is working, just like the ones that hit Tokyo and New York!”

“Is there somewhere you can change?” Lei Zi broke in, cool as ice. I looked around.

“We’re outside the Grand Ballroom, and I don’t have my Astra costume under my shorts—I’m not Clark Kent!”

“Rush is bringing your gear to you. Find somewhere private.”

I relayed her message and Julie pointed to an abandoned kiosk. “There!” she yelled, and I pushed for it through the mob as the Bees hung onto me. We reached it and I started stripping; I didn’t like Rush, but I had faith in him. The Bees formed a human curtain, blocking the sight of anyone coming around the kiosk, and Rush arrived in a blur of red motion. He thrust a black bundle into my hands.

“Gottagocheckthebuildings, makesurenobody’s leftbehind!” he said, pausing long enough to wink at Julie before disappearing. Kicking my shoes away, I finished pulling off my summer shorts and top, thankful again for my decision not to update to the spandex and pleather bodysuit Andrew had designed for me. Even done completely in black, my classic high-necked, long-armed, micro-skirted costume still made me look like a figure skater in a cape, but it was easy to get into.

Except for the half-mask and attached wig; when I turned around Julie gave the mask a straightening tug before grabbing my discarded stuff. A roar of ear-splitting decibels filled the air and the pier shook. “Time to run screaming,” she said. Annabeth gave me a quick hug. “Wax its ass,” Megan snarked, and they ran for it, racing down the pier after the retreating crowd.

I watched them run before launching myself into the air.

“Shelly?” I said. “Keep an eye on them?”

“I’ve already tagged their cell-phones—if they stop moving I’ll know. The team is on its way.”

That was the best she could do; I put my worry away and turned to the crisis at hand.

“We’re on an inland lake!” I yelled to be heard over the monster’s roar as I got some altitude. “Tokyo and New York I understand—how did a godzilla get here?”

“The Teatime Anarchist’s future-files say godzillas were dropped as eggs all over both hemispheres from 2003 to 2015, in deep water. Once hatched, they stayed out of sight till reaching their full 300 foot length and laying a few eggs of their own. Then they zeroed in on the nearest source of temperature or pollution spikes in the area. It’s probably attracted to the runoff from the Chicago River and the Copyright 2016 - 2021