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"Heyyy, Nightowl!" Metro Man called, swooping down towards the rooftop where the grey-hooded hero crouched among the gargoyles. "There you are! What are you doing brooding up here? There's a Victory Party to attend!"
"I don't do parties," Nightowl growled. "And can we really call this a victory?! People were hurt today, Metro Man. People almost died."
"But they didn't." Metro Man tried to look him in the eye, but Nightowl's mirror-lensed goggles made it difficult. "We rescued a lot of people. We stopped Duke Doom and Duchess Death from launching the missiles and triggering a nuclear war. We saved the world!" The hero's smile, radiated sincerity. "Don't you think it would be worth it to celebrate? Just this once?" Nightowl frowned.
"Maybe. I don't know. I don't think I can handle being around to much booze right now, you know what I mean?" He stood up and began to pace along the narrow ledge of the rooftop. "All these crazy Villains trying to take over the city, trying to conquer the planet. All the bombs, and the screams, and rescues, and the fighting, and the…" He shook his head as if to clear it, then turned back to Metro Man. "It's enough to drive any man to drink, but I'm staying out of the bottle for good this time and that means not going to the victory party."
"That's a shame," Metro Man said. "People like seeing their heroes celebrate-"
"And you always give people what they want, don't you?" Nightowl retorted. Metro Man sighed, and turned to stare out at the still-smoking twilight cityscape.
"Maybe. Some days I wish I could get a bit of buzz, let the liquor take the edge off for once." He grinned, self-depreciating. "I wonder which is worse- alcohol addiction, or the complete inability to get raving drunk?"
"It's hard to say," Nightowl replied. Then he stilled for a moment, and stared thoughtfully at the white-clad, eternally sober Hero. "Have you ever considered moving out to the East Coast permanently? The League of Heroes could really use a hero of your abilities- for more than just the world-threatening emergencies." Metro Man shook his head.
"I can't leave Metro City," he said, not without regret. "I have a responsibility to the people there. If I left, Megamind would be Overlord of the City within a week, and-"
"Megamind?!" Nightowl scoffed. "He's a joke! A pushover! I'm sure the MCPD is more than capable of handling him, and if not than some kid with a mask will rise up and teach that third-rate villain his place. Where there's evil, good will rise up against it.
"If you join the League of Justice as a full-time member, you'll be able to put your abilities to good use and start fighting REAL Supervillains. Like we did today, right?"
"You don't know what you're talking about," Metro Man growled. "Megamind is dangerous. I've been trying not to think about what sort of havoc he's been causing while I'm helping with things out here, but tomorrow I'm going to have to deal with it, and-"
"Havoc? I thought you said he was in jail," Nightowl tilted his head. "Even if Megamind has somehow managed to escape the MC Prison For the Criminally Gifted- which is ranked as one of the Top 50 villain containment facilities in the country- within the last fifteen hours since you left, what would he even do? Set off a paint-bomb? Steal a copy of the Mona Lisa?" He smirked. "The man is ridiculous. I mean, remember that thing with the robot unicorn? His henchman was giving out snacks and balloon animals, for pete's sake!"
"Yeah? Tell me something, or Great and Wise Owl, how do you know about the Unicorn Incident?"
"Everyone knows about the Unicorn Incident, Metro Man. The video clip from that 'Megamind Experience' thing went viral. There was a 'Saturday Night Live' sketch about it. Now tell me- how can you take a guy like that seriously?"
"That's the thing," Metro Man said. "Megamind was in charge of everything that went on-air for the 'Megamind Experience' event. He broadcasted that fight, specifically, as part of a twisted Evil Publicity/Kidnapping/Attempted Murder stunt." Metro Man looked the other Hero in the eyes. "Megamind is a certifiable Evil Genius. He has tried to conquer my city hundreds of times. Do you really think that there weren't other Videos he could have shown that would make him look more impressive, more intimidating, more 'dangerous'?" Metro Man laughed, short and bitter. "You saw what he wanted you to see." Nightowl stood stalk still for a moment as the words sunk in.
"So, you're claiming all that that ridiculous display with the robot unicorn and the rainbow and everything was a… tactic of misdirection?" he tapped his talons to his mask, thinking. "Makes sense; it is rather difficult to embarrass yourself that badly by accident. So what does it look like when he's really trying?" Metro Man pinched the bridge of his nose.
"It looks like a combination of a rock concert, Saturday Morning Cartoon Show, and a delusionally self-aggrandizing speech. And the scary part is, he can make it work. Sometimes, he even comes close to victory against me!"
"Come close," Nightowl replied. "Most villains who've been in the game as long as he has have won at least a few fights against their nemesis. The best you can say about Megamind is that he 'almost wins' sometimes. Now why am I not concerned about him?" Metro Man raised a hand.
"First off, consider what you just said. Most villains who have been in the game as long as he has don't stay in the game by being weak or easy to take down. There is such a thing as in-fighting, and Megamind has been the undisputed Master of All Villainy in Metro City for years.
"Second of all, I don't lose fights. And before you say anything, that's not a boast; it's a verifiable fact. I have Grade-5 super-strength, laser-eyes, non-debilitating hyper-sensory abilities, superhuman lung capacity, and flight. I never get sick. I have no allergies. I am bullet-proof, flame-proof, laser-proof, immune to every dangerous chemical I've ever come into contact with, and- so far as anyone's been able to determine thus far- basically invulnerable. Megamind has almost won against me."
"When you put it like that…" Nightowl leaped onto a snarling gargoyle and stared down at Metro Man. "If what you say true, why haven't you- or anyone else- ever taken him down?" he added, as Metro Man opened his mouth. "If he's that powerful, then why isn't he put in a prison that can actually hold him? The Deep-Atlantic SuperMax prison might be better equipped to deal with him."
"The Metro City Prison For The Criminally Gifted is one of the Top 50 Villain Containment Facilities in America. It has a very strong track record for security, and the Warden is familiar with Megamind's mode of operations. They're even working on redesigning Megamind's cell for extra security!
"The Deep-Atlantic SuperMax, on the other hand, uses systems based on Megamind's old tech that they… acquired a few years ago. The place had to be completely rebuilt TWICE; it's safety record is sketchy at best. In addition to that, the Atlanteans have been lobbying against the SuperMax for years. And did you know that Megamind's most loyal right-hand man is a sentient FISH?" Metro Man laughed. "He'd be out in less than a month."
"There is a more… permanent solution," Nightowl said solemnly. "You know I don't advocate murder, but the man is an evil alien bent on conquest. The jury would understand- if they even count killing an evil blue alien as murder."
"You can't be serious."
"You've said yourself that no prison could hold him. Tell me off the record, hero to hero. How many lives could you save by taking Megamind out of the picture for good?"
"He's never killed anyone!" Metro Man shouted. He took a deep breath, then released it. "He's never killed anyone. In all the years since Megamind became a supervillain, with all the robots, lasers, bombs, and 'objects of mayhem' he's set loose against the city, against me, not one person has ever died."
"That's impossible!" Nightowl cried. "No Villain works that long- no Villain SURVIVES that long- without a little blood on his hands. It just doesn't work that way."
"For Megamind, that's exactly how it works," Metro Man replied, dead serious. "Megamind has never killed anyone. He keeps the other villains of Metro City from becoming powerful enough to do large-scale damage. There's an… understanding."
"Understanding?!" Nightowl screeched, eyes suddenly glowing, golden and angry. "What the Hell is going on in your city, Metro Man? What's the deal with Megamind?" He stared and his fellow hero with an intensity that had caused hardened criminals to cower in fear. "Damnit, Metro Man! What's really going in?"
"You'd have to live Metro City to understand," he said, his cool tone belying the flint in his eye. With that, Metro Man turned and flew away, leaving Nightowl standing among the gargoyles.
Later that evening, Metro Man was photographed with several members of the League of Heroes, toasting to the safety of the planet and the defeat of Duke Doom and Duchess Death. The following afternoon, having had very little sleep but absolutely no hangover at all, he returned to Metro City. In his absence, Megamind had robbed six banks and evaded police custody with the aid of a terrifyingly insidious musical mind-control device that he called 'The Hokey Pokey of Destruction'. Metro Man was able to stop the device, but most of the money was never recovered.
Over the next several months, anonymous donations totalling to $6500 were made to the Metro City Minority Student Scholarship Foundation, St. Moses The Black's Halfway House, and Honest Antonio's Auto-Repair Shop.
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