Disclaimer: I do not own nor do I claim to own any characters or concepts related to Megamind. This is a nonprofit work of fanfiction. A large portion, though not all, of the dialogue in this chapter was taken directly from the film and so must be properly attributed to the credited screenwriters, Alan J. Schoolcraft and Brent Simons, with consideration made to possible improvisations by Tina Fey and Will Ferrell. Their work is not my own and I've no intention or desire to claim otherwise.
Notes: So, here's a thought: what if Megamind had accidentally infused Roxanne with Metro Man's "godlike powers" instead of Hal? Let's find out! Our Beautiful Tomorrow is a work in progress, which means it is currently incomplete. I'll do my best to update on a regular schedule. :)
Many heartfelt thanks are owed Rawles, who read this chapter through, provided some needed criticism and encouragement, and helped correct a number of very basic issues. I also wish to tip my hat to Diana (riddering on LJ) for first suggesting this premise to me, and to recognize Molly (fairest1 on LJ) who has her own Roxanne Ritchi: Superhero story to tell.
And thank you for reading!
Our Beautiful Tomorrow
Roxanne pulled up to the front of the power plant and threw the van into park. The building rose before her: walls of brick, decorated with old graffiti and the ever-changing turf lines of Metro City's gangs; the great, ash-blackened metal works curved like the back of some monstrous, dead beast; the stacks towering above it all; and there, the ramshackle hump of the false observatory.
"Hal, can you believe it!"
She pushed the door open and stepped out, light on her feet, light as air. Right here, right here, she'd found it. She'd found Megamind's lair. Roxanne laughed.
"Hal," she said, turning back to smile, "we found it! We found his lair!"
Hal remained in the passenger's seat. "Yeah, I know, it's awesome, and I am, like, so excited to be here. But why don't we call the police and have them come here, and go get some lunch together?"
Roxanne fished for her cell-phone in her bag. "The police are terrified of Megamind," she said. "If we called them, they'd set up a protective perimeter around the lair and we'd lose our chance to find out what we need to know to stop him."
"Oh, I mean, I'm not scared," Hal said. "If Megamind shows his face, I'm going to go all Ultimate Street Fighter on him."
"Get your camera," she said, motioning.
She flipped her cell open and scrolled through her contacts. Hal carried on talking, the familiar cadences and nervous bragging filling the spaces in the van like white noise. Roxanne highlighted Whitman, Bernard. She hesitated one moment; they'd only really spoken the once that night of the museum's destruction. But, she thought.
Roxanne stepped back from the van, slammed the door shut, and hit call. The line fuzzed, then cleared, and the automated dialing beeped in her ear. Hal closed his own door and took up a position at her back, hiding behind her with his camera up over his shoulder.
Staring up at the power plant, at Megamind's lair, Roxanne smiled again and felt as if she'd never stop.
The line clicked, and a man said, hesitant, "Ollo?" then, after a beat, "Hello?"
"Bernard, it's Roxanne," she said. She gestured for Hal to step back a bit so as to take a more comprehensive shot of the exterior. "I just want to thank you for inspiring me the other day."
"Oh!" Bernard said. The line crackled; his voice deepened. Roxanne cupped her phone, pressing it nearer to her cheek. "You inspired me, too."
She tamped her excitement down, boxing it. The thought of Bernard in his glasses and his thick suit jacket, the surprise lighting his face when she told him, nearly brought her to laughter again.
"Great!" she said. She pumped her fist. "It's time we stand up to Megamind and show him he can't push us around."
"Oh, really?" he asked.
"I'm already hot on his trail."
"Uh-huh," he said. She imagined him pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose. "And what gives you that idea?"
The laugh hummed in her throat. "I just found his secret hideout," she said, giddy.
The line erupted in her ear, the connection spilling over with sudden, violent static.
"Bernard?" she asked.
Another moment, then Bernard said, "Uh, how did you find his secret hideout?"
And she couldn't believe she'd never thought of it before, it was so obvious—
She laughed. "This is the only building in Metro City with a fake observatory on the roof!"
Bernard went quiet again. Roxanne twirled her hand, signaling Hal to bring the camera around again. He flashed a thumbs-up, still zooming in on the observatory. She glanced across the wall before her, then to the ground, and oh, leave it to Megamind.
"There's a doormat here that says secret entrance," she said.
Call the police, Hal had said. Ha! Roxanne tucked her phone against her shoulder and pushed forward, her hand to the wall. The bricks shimmered, then blued, and they warped around her, opening to reveal a long, dark antechamber. A set of doors marked the wall further down.
The phone warbled at her shoulder, Bernard's voice rising in strident tones. She fitted the phone to her ear again. "What?"
"What?" Bernard asked. "Oh, no, not you, Roxanne. I'm just yelling at my mother's ... urn. Don't do anything! I'll be right there."
"Well, hurry up," she said, "I'm not waiting to be found out by his brainbots." She closed her phone and stuffed it in her jacket.
The reality of it struck her then, dizzying and vast. For years she'd looked for Megamind's lair; she'd checked and rechecked the warehouses on the wharf and the row of shuttered factories in downtown. Now here she was, crossing the floor to the doors that would open onto what? A trap? An abandoned and gutted plant, used and discarded as he moved on to another lair?
"You won't find out if you don't try," she told herself.
Roxanne set her hands on the door and pushed. It creaked as it swung, the hinges long rusted. Where the hall before held shadows and dim light filtered through old and dirtied windows, the chamber she entered glimmered with sunlight, suffused through yellowed windows high above. Monitors, strange metal workings, half-assembled creations and cluttered workspaces, a clean path cutting through it all: he was still here.
She crept forward, quiet on her toes. The enormity of it swallowed her. How long had he hidden all this here? To be here, and to be here alone—
Roxanne spun around, hefting her camera high to strike.
Bernard, bushy-haired and wide-eyed, fell back, his hands up between them, and Roxanne let her breath out in a heavy gust. He smiled, his eyes crinkling, his cheeks folding.
"Oh, I'm glad you're here," she said, smiling back at him. Her smile fell. "Wait, how did you get here so fast?"
He fumbled with his hands. "Well, uh, I happened to be speedwalking nearby when you called," and he demonstrated, arms high. He pursed his lips.
Roxanne pressed close, cutting in at his elbow. He'd a faint line of sweat along his brow, his ear, the curve of his neck.
"In a suit?" she asked. She checked around for a flash of movement or the electric gleam of a brainbot, spying.
"Uh-huh," Bernard said, keeping pace beside her. "It's called formal speedwalking. But that's not important." He stepped before her, advancing. The sunlight caught in his hair, shining gold.
Roxanne leaned to the side, arrested by the suggestion of bulk beneath a great shower of canvas; a black joint peeked out behind it, an enormous ball-joint high above her head, like an elbow, crooked.
Bernard turned to her and gestured. "This way looks exciting." His smile flashed again, bright and sweet, and she looked, following his arms to the door and the glowing sign above it.
Was everyone she knew a coward?
"It says exit," she said, exasperated.
She looked about again, checking that covered monstrosity, then the fall of the light from the window far above and a deep scarlet gleam caught her eye. A thick red curtain divided the chamber; it fluttered.
"Which is the abbreviation for exciting, right?" Bernard asked, following her as she stepped forward.
A seam split the curtain; two lengths, brought together. Roxanne ripped them apart. The rings jangled like bells and Bernard cried out. Light spilled over her.
"This is the mother load!" she said through her teeth. She threw her arms wide, taking it in.
A vast wall of notes hanging from the ceiling shivered before her; a series of blackboards and posters showed between the maze of fluttering papers. Colors glimmered; notations flashed. The whole of it covered the far wall, suggestive — evident — of a plan far greater than she had expected. Roxanne smiled.
"Wow," she breathed. Bernard echoed her, trailing behind. "Just look at this thing." She turned to him. "You know, I could really use your help in deciphering all this."
"Really!" Bernard said. He rounded his eyes and clapped a hand to his chin, nodding.
Roxanne threw him an amused look. "You're an expert on all things Megamind, right?"
"Yes, right," he said.
"Together, we could figure out his plan and stop it." She took one last long look at the vastness of Megamind's plan, then turned to Bernard and said, "Are you in?"
"Oh," he said, "what fun!"
Something sweet and warm popped in her chest.
"That's what I want to hear!" she said as Bernard smiled at her, his blond hair puffed like a dandelion, bristling. His eyes shone, very green.
Roxanne turned from him. She busied herself with her camera, activating the zoom. Bernard shifted, looking behind them; the scrape of his heel on the floor resounded in her ear, reverberated in her chest. A breeze stirred the paper mobiles, sending them into half-turns. Roxanne hefted her camera and began snapping.
Bernard murmured something, his voice low. Roxanne snapped another shot, then an electric hum rose, a panel in the pipework popped open, and out of the shadows, the brainbots spilled. Their long jointed tendrils dripped, whipping as they veered down. Roxanne dove, landing hard on her shoulder. The blow jolted her, but she gritted her teeth and rolled up again.
Bernard cried out, but the brainbots, driving past Roxanne, overwhelmed him.
"Bernard!" she shouted. She felt for her camera, thrown from her.
The brainbots cascaded, carrying him off in their heaving, roiling hulk. A shelving unit fell, booming against the cement floor.
"Bernard!" she called again. A weapon, she needed— She needed something—
Roxanne snatched her camera up and started after them. A deep, resin glow caught her eye: a gun, tossed free of the unit that had fallen. She scooped it up, catching the long and shining barrel in her hand, and drove forward into the shadows.
She heard Bernard, his voice muffled, his cry inarticulate and lost. His name swelled in her throat; she swallowed it. If she gave away her position, they'd both be lost. She certainly couldn't count on anyone else to help them. Roxanne pressed her back to a stack of crates and listened for the resonant thrumming of the brainbots.
Roxanne ran past the towering crates and rounded the corner, the gun heavy at her thigh. Megamind knelt before her, his cape thrown over his head. She gasped and recoiled a half-step before the thought of Bernard, helpless and sweet, burst again over her.
"Megamind!" She tightened her grip on the gun and bore down on him. "What have you done with Bernard?"
He struggled upright, the scattered brainbots swirling about him in tightening circles. His cape trembled down his back. His eyes flickered.
"Bernard?" he said. He brushed at his skinsuit. "Oh, yes. I'm doing horrible things to that man. I don't want to get into it, but lasers, spikes—"
Megamind sidled over to a set of doors set an angle toward the floor. He dragged one of them up and from below Bernard cried, "Oh, please, no! Not the lasers and the spikes!"
Megamind leaned back, half-laughing. "You know the drill."
Below, Bernard wailed, "Oh, no, not the drill!"
Her breath caught in her throat. A brainbot passed her, its tentacles skimming her shoulder. It was her fault that Megamind had taken Bernard. If she had come alone—
Roxanne set her jaw. "Let him go, or—" She dragged the gun up, catching it again.
Megamind smirked up at her over the door, his mouth twisting, his brow a sneering curl. "Or what?" he said, then he spotted the gun. Horror bloomed on his face.
She flexed her grip on the handle. "I'm going to find out what this weird-looking gun does."
"No!" He threw his hands out, placating. "No! Don't," he said, enunciating carefully, "shoot that gun." He moved toward the doors again. She sighted him, following his steps. "I'll just go get him."
Megamind threw the doors open and leapt down. Roxanne took an abortive step forward, then Bernard rose between the doors, Megamind's hand gloved and dark at his throat. "His strength, it's too much," Bernard gasped out, then Megamind dragged him down again.
Roxanne steadied the gun and approached the set of doors. She didn't want to shoot Bernard, God, no, but if it was a trick, if Megamind meant to surprise her and strip the gun from her, then—
She reached out.
The doors trembled beneath her fingers and parted, and Bernard flew through them, launched into the near wall. Roxanne stumbled back, catching the gun against her chest. Her heart stammered once, then she took a breath and knelt before Bernard, crumpled against the wall. His lashes fluttered, fair on his cheeks.
"Are you okay?" she asked.
Bernard ticked his glasses up the bridge of his nose. He looked up at her through his lashes. "I did my best," he said, and he turned his face away, "but he's too fantastic."
Roxanne huffed a laugh. Every guy she knew: a nerd. She smiled and straightened, pressing up from her knees.
Bernard followed. His chest worked and exertion colored his face, but he held his hands out and said, "Here, let me carry that heavy gun for you."
Every guy: a macho nerd. She doubted he'd even know how to point it.
"I got us covered," she said. Roxanne slipped close to the wall and followed it back as she'd come.
Her footsteps echoed softly in the hallway formed by the crates, and her heart sounded as thunder in her ears. She took another slow breath to settle it. Her shoulder ached where she'd struck it. First thing she was doing when she got home was taking a hot bath.
Megamind leapt at her then, a sudden flash of blue in her peripheral vision. Roxanne turned, bringing the gun to bear on him, but he slammed into her, pushing it flat across her chest.
"Let go, it's mine!" he snarled, grappling with her.
"Bernard, run!" she shouted over her shoulder.
Megamind dragged at the gun. A muscle in her shoulder spasmed, drawn too tight. Roxanne gritted her teeth and fought through it. She kicked at Megamind's feet and hauled on the gun, pulling it back to her. It thumped off her arm, the needled tip pointing to the ground.
"You're going to break it!" Megamind snapped at her, then his finger touched the trigger and the gun jolted in her arms. A gold bolt shot at the cement, rebounded and nearly caught Megamind by the ear, and struck off a monitor. A waterfall of sparks exploded over them, white and brilliant as they showered upon Roxanne and Megamind.
"No, no, no!" Megamind said, clutching at his head. He turned around and around, his cape shimmering as it spun out behind him.
Something rang overhead, the bolt still loosed and on its chaotic path, then Roxanne felt a sudden sting in her strained shoulder, as if someone had crept up behind her and punched her, hard so the muscle clenched and the bone thrummed. She cradled the emptied and darkened gun to her chest.
"Where is it?" Megamind shouted. Another monitor blew out, throwing out sparks in a shimmering, smoking cloud. "Where is it? Minion!"
Her shoulder had numbed, a dull ache welling down her arm. Roxanne took a step back, then another. Clutching the gun tight in her shaking fingers, she ran.
"It's ricocheted, sir!" Minion called behind her. "But with this interference, I don't know how we're supposed to— Sir!"
The exit sign shone, the green letters a beacon cutting through the shadows and the adrenaline thick in her blood. She grabbed at the door and someone grabbed at her. Roxanne swung the gun out as a club, and Bernard jumped away, shouting, "It's me, it's me, don't shoot!"
"Bernard!" Sweat beaded in her bra, slick beneath her breasts. "We need to get out of here, Megamind's done something—"
"This way," Bernard said. He caught her hand and tugged her away from the exit, down another long, dark passage. The deep hum of the brainbots filled the air, their electrical song nearing as they swooped from the rafters.
Roxanne weighed the gun in her hand, then she turned and lobbed it at the nearest brainbot. The gun exploded in a shower of glass and metal. The brainbot reeled back, writhing. She turned away from the lashing tentacles and spotted dynamite, stacked in a neat pile on a nearby crate.
"What are you doing?" Bernard asked.
Roxanne snapped up a pack of dynamite. A brainbot dropped before them and Roxanne grabbed at its tendrils, jerking so the metal sparked. The fuse lit.
"This'll stop them," she said, then she fumbled the dynamite, her numbing fingers clumsy. It fell and rolled behind them.
Bernard looked over his shoulder. "Did you just drop the lit dynamite!" he shouted.
"Yes!" she said. "Just keep running!"
Her toes slapped the cement. Bernard made a wailing sound, scraped harsh through his throat. Her shoulder throbbed, her back too, and the brainbots' screaming rose like a hellish choir.
In the moment before the dynamite exploded, Roxanne laughed. Then the explosion rocked them. A gust of violent heat licked at her nape. Bernard said, "There!" and they burst through the doors at the end of the hall, and the fire roiled out with them.
Roxanne curled and rolled in the dirt. A spasm tore through her. Heat flashed in her chest, like and unlike the fire in the plant. Bernard coughed beside her. Groaning, he sat up.
"Roxanne," he said. "Roxanne!"
He touched her shoulder and she pulled away, her arm twinging where his fingers brushed her. "That was exciting," she said, forcing a smile, "you were very strong," and Bernard said, "You're hurt!"
She rose to her hands and knees, then slowly to her feet. "Yeah. When that gun went off, whatever was inside it ricocheted and I think it—" She rolled her lips against the rush of needles in her shoulder. "I think it hit me."
"What?" Bernard asked. "Then we need, we need to go back inside— Megamind has to—"
"If I still had that gun," she said, "we could figure out what it was for."
Bernard leaned around her, his hands fluttering at her back. "I'm sure he still has the plans for it, if we just went back and asked nicely?"
"No," Roxanne said. She turned to face him. "Whatever that gun fired, he wanted it for something. We're not going back in there and giving him what he wants."
Bernard searched her face, his brow knitting. "But you're hurt. What if it's a-a virus?"
"Biological villainy isn't Megamind's style," she said. She straightened her shoulders, grimacing.
"Right, yes, I know," Bernard said. "Of course I know. But still, if you're hurt—"
She smiled at him. "Look, I know some people at Metro Mercy. I promise I'll go there first thing, as soon as I back-up my photos." She shook her camera, a bit battered but still good.
"Well, you aren't bleeding," he said, then doubtfully he asked, "But are you certain?"
Roxanne exhaled. Her wrist trembled, hot in a distant sort of way. "The important thing is to get this information out of here," she said, "and figure out what he's planning."
Bernard frowned. "You're important, too."
The sun beat down on her neck.
"You, too," she said, and she smiled again through the ache and the heat and the shivering rising inside her. "Partner."
Bernard's face smoothed. His eyes widened, green and huge. "Partner," he said.
Then Hal stumbled around the corner and said, "Hey!" She flashed Bernard a rueful look and threw her shoulders back. A muscle twinged, hot in her neck.
Roxanne set the pain aside.