Entertainingly Evil

Vengeance for Captain Phenomenal by Megan Neumann

Yeah, she’d heard about the Captain—how they’d stripped him, tortured him, made him beg before robbing him of his glory and his life. Gemini didn’t care.

Why should she? Captain Phenomenal was her enemy. For years he’d tried to thwart her. Every robbery she’d attempted, he’d been there, floating above her in the sky with his cape flapping even when no wind blew.

When they fought, he threw out cheesy lines like, “Stop, evil doer!” and “Justice will be served!” Sometimes Gemini had been so distracted by these words, she’d hesitate to roll her eyes, and he would almost beat her. But she always got away, taunting him as she ran in two directions, using her power to split into two women to disorient him.

Admittedly, she sometimes lingered at the scene of a crime a little too long, just for a chance to fight. Even though he was a spandex-wearing freak, he fought like no other, moved with grace and skill. He challenged her. She loved to split into her two selves and fight him from two sides, dizzying him until he’d finally trip over his ridiculous cape.

Then her masters, the Keepers, took him—brainwashed him. The Keepers collected the super powered, and the Captain was just another beast in their menagerie. He became her comrade in crime. How she’d hated that. How could the Keepers make her work with someone so good? What were they thinking? Captain Phenomenal could never be a villain.

But after the Keepers put him in a cage, assaulting him day and night with their brainwashing devices, all remnants of good disappeared. They twisted his mind so he thought only of pleasing his masters.

Gemini hadn’t needed brainwashing. She’d always been a villain. The Keepers had only blackmailed her. They forced her into servitude for their evil conglomerate using information. She hated working for them, but rationalized it wasn’t so bad. She could tolerate it. She did what she loved—stealing—and sometimes she had a good fight with Captain Phenomenal.

After his mind belonged to the Keepers, they made Gemini and the Captain partners. He became General Sinister. She should have been happy. He did what she said without question. That was the problem.

They went on mission after mission. General Sinister was ruthless. He stole for the Keepers. He killed for the Keepers. His fiery eyes turned onto the people he once saved, igniting and killing civilians without mercy. He was the perfect villain.

Or was he?

He had no passion for his crimes. A villain needed to love what they did, and General Sinister was a soulless puppet that only followed orders. He had no fight left in him.

One night after they had taken a cargo ship, Gemini lost her patience. He had just killed six crewmembers and was throwing their bodies off the ship, chucking them as far as his super strength would allow. She pulled him away from the corpses and screamed, “What are you doing? This isn’t you!” Tears fell from her eyes. Why was she crying? Only idiots and weaklings cried, but she couldn’t stop herself. She fell to her knees and said, “Please! Wake up! I miss you!”

He looked at her, bewildered. Then he laughed.

She stood and struck him across the face, leapt onto him, knocked him to the ground, and pummeled him with her fists. She split into her two selves and kicked him from every angle as he struggled to escape.

“Wake up!” she screamed. “You’re a hero! Fight me!”

He only recoiled from her, covering his face, pleading, “Please, we’re partners. The Keepers wouldn’t want this.”

She screamed, “You stand for justice! You’re good. I’m an evildoer. You’re not. Don’t you remember? ‘Justice will be served.’”

At these corny words, he fell silent. His face contorted in pain. He backed away from her slowly, shaking his head. Then he flew away.

For weeks she heard nothing from the Captain, and then Gemini heard from the other kept villains—Captain Phenomenal’s brainwashing had failed. He remembered who he was, and he knew far too much about the Keepers. He needed to be put down.

The Keepers took him once more. Instead of brainwashing him, they beat him to an unrecognizable pulp and left his naked body in a dumpster behind a Denny’s. No one would recognize his corpse as the hero who saved the world countless times, fought Gemini countless times. When she heard about this, she told herself, so what? Who cares about a hero? One less weirdo in spandex.

Then she’d remember the fights—he’d hold her close in his arms, squeezing the life from her body, staring into her eyes. She’d spit in his face, bite, kick, and thrash. Only when her double would sneak from behind could she escape his hold. Then it would be her turn to knock him from the top of a building or slam a hammer into the side of his head.

Back and forth, they’d go, year after year. He could have killed her, but he never did. He could have captured her, but he never did. Captain Phenomenal wanted a fight, just like her. Now their fights were over.

Yeah, she’d heard about the Captain.

He deserved vengeance. But what could she do? She wasn’t a hero.

After the Captain’s death, Gemini bided her time and thought about what it meant to be a hero. Heroes fought for something good, and Captain Phenomenal had been good. If she couldn’t fight him, then maybe she could fight for him. Taking on the Keepers would probably kill her. She probably deserved to die. All she could hope for was vengeance and one last good fight dedicated to the Captain.

Megan Neumann is a speculative fiction writer living in Little Rock, Arkansas. Her stories have appeared in Crossed Genres, Daily Science Fiction, and Luna Station Quarterly. She is a member of the Central Arkansas Speculative Fiction Writers’ Group and is particularly appreciative of their loving support and scathing critiques.

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