Notes: We'll say this is in the same universe as Monsters vs. Aliens, and clearly all aliens want the MacGuffin quantonium.
If you were in a room that had been entered by way of explosion as many times as Roxanne Ritchi had been, you knew a thing or two about the brittle nature of sheet rock. It wasn't as bad as you might think, but not something to take lightly, either, especially if one had to be on camera in the morning.
The soup of dust and debris was exceptionally thick since he decided to make his grand entrance through such an old wall. A signature dramatic, evil cackle reverberated through the main chamber of the museum. Sometimes, she swore he did a tech scout of the place first to figure out at what angle gave the best acoustics for evil laughter.
Patrons left and right, forgetting the fact that they were wearing tuxedos and designer dresses, fell to their knees in terror as Megamind strode past them to the new exhibit. Even most of Roxanne's crew, including her new cameraman (hell, especially her new cameraman) fell down, into moist, quivering gelatinous masses. Roxanne didn't budge, save for the dusting of some of the pieces of dust and sheet rock off of her frock.
"Muahahaha!" he cried, brushing past Roxanne and to the exhibit, whipping out some device that cut through the glass like old cheese, sticking his skinny arm through the hole and withdrawing the glowing green meteorite. "Did you really think you could keep this from me?"
"I don't think they thought about it at all," said Roxanne, "or there might have been some, you know, security at this event. This private event. For charity." Roxanne saw her assistant, Ceri, crawl up behind her as though Roxanne would act as a shield. Honestly, couldn't these people smell ham when it entered the room?
He whirled around, cape billowing as he pocketed his prize. "The quantonium is mine! I don't think you'll be so snide when you behold the might and the horror of my clone army!" He slowly approached her, his gaze melting into a cool, conniving smirk. "Fancy seeing you here, Miss Ritchi. Seems that we are always crossing paths, isn't it?"
"I'm covering the event."
"And wouldn't your squishy jelly innards just quiver in fear to be the first to see the army of me!" Roxanne heard Ceri's breath catch as she tamped down a whimper, still cowering at Roxanne's feet.
"Ew, God, that does sound awful. Look, do not test me today, Megamind," she warned. "I am in no mood to play along."
"There's no reason to scream and beg for mercy!" he shouted. "This particular plan doesn't involve you. No more crying. No more!" He wagged a finger in her face as he departed for the giant robot he had waiting outside. "Ta ta, all! Until we meet again!"
Roxanne thought she heard Ceri cough, or sob, or some hybrid of the two. She reached down to help her up. "Oh my god!" whimpered Ceri. "I thought that was it! I thought he was going to-"
"Then clearly you don't know him," said Roxanne, huffing. "My sister just got diagnosed with leukemia, they're laying off people left and right at the office, this is not a good week for me and I was like, I swear to God, if you even think of kidnapping me from this event I will break your scrawny neck with my brain!"
Ceri gasped. She was new to the newsroom, as well as new to the industry in general. Roxanne almost envied her innocence. "Miss Ritchi, how?" she whimpered, her hands moving over her body parts to make sure they were all still in tact. "How is it that you're not afraid of him? After all you've been through? Do you just get immune to it?"
Roxanne shook her head, moving to help the camera guys check the equipment that had been knocked on the floor. "No, he's just a type," she said. "All show. A massive pain in my tuckus, but he's not a real threat."
Ceri scoffed. "How can you say that?"
Roxanne had a neighbor that lived one floor down and one unit to the right. She could see onto their patio very easily without even stepping outside. The neighbor had a son who loved that patio. At first it charmed Roxanne, even sent little thrills to her biological clock tick tick ticking, but when the kid discovered a nest of pigeons just outside the reaches of his patio, and started coming up with ways to destroy it, that disturbed Roxanne a little bit. Suddenly the idea of children wasn't so charming.
One day she ran into this kid on the elevator, and she couldn't help but confront him on his efforts to extinguish those pigeons. "They're too young to fly, don't you know that?"
"Of course I do," he said. His name was Skyler, she'd found out. "That's why I'm trying to get them now."
"How would you feel if someone did that to your home?"
"Ma'am, pigeons are vermin. They're gross, and my parents don't have any problem with me trying to get rid of them. And since you're a stranger, I don't think I should talk to you."
"I'm not a stranger, I'm your neighbor," she said, trying to maintain her nice, mature, neighborly tone. "I'm just trying to impart to you that it's not very nice to try to kill helpless creatures. That's what Megamind does every time he attacks the city; he hurts the innocent. Do you want to be like Megamind?"
"I respect Megamind, even if I don't agree with him," said the kid as the elevator reached the ground level and opened. Roxanne almost choked on her spit. When did kids learn to talk like this? He couldn't have been more than nine! "Please excuse me, ma'am."
Roxanne spent a lot of the day contemplating this kid, and what type of person a kid like that might grow up to be. Some sort of executive, she surmised. Intelligent but lacking empathy; he would make a great CEO who made unsavory secret dealings in third world countries. When one of her colleagues suggested developing a piece on the idea of "the making of" criminals, it got the whole office buzzing on what could be said about Megamind and his ilk. Could one apply the same logic on a human child as an alien one? Can one spot supervillainy from such a young age? Roxanne's boss approved it almost immediately; people loved stories that begged parents to ask, "Could my child be a supervillain in the making?"
Megamind had been quiet of late, which usually meant he was due at any time to rear his ugly blue head and enact some sort of dastardly, genius, doomed-to-failure plan, and sure enough, to speak of the devil was to invite his company. It wasn't the first time he had kidnapped Roxanne, but she had not gotten used to it at this point, especially with the dramatic and, admittedly, terrifying means he had chosen to do so this time.
Unbeknownst to most citizens of Metro City, Megamind was actually a very small person. His tendency to project his image on very large surfaces biggified his image in the minds of the masses. Knowing he was a small person, he had a penchant for suits and robot-type-things that made him appear larger. When it came to actually hand to hand combat with Metro Man, this was his preferred modus operandi. After all, the moment Metro Man got a hold of him without the suit, it was pretty much game over for the little guy.
Roxanne was taking down some notes in the break room for a piece she needed to have done in a couple of hours when she felt the impact tremor of his giant robot suit. She hadn't even had time to surmise what it was when a giant, mechanical hand crashed through the window and grabbed her around the waist. Watching the horrified looks of her co-workers grow smaller as she was dragged out of the window, she cried out in horror. Being abducted by an alien in a giant robot suit was still quite new to her.
"Glad to see me, Miss Ritchie?" he asked in between maniacal laughs. "So glad you could find time to help me on one of my little endeavors! I know you have such a busy schedule."
Roxanne would become numb to heights over time, but at this point in her life, it was not charming, nor was it annoying; it was terrifying. "Put me down!" she cried. "Help!"
That seemed to be exactly the reaction he was going for, as he stalked off, reporter in massive hand, bellowing out a satisfied, "Muahahaha! I hope you're not waiting for Metro Man help you! He's got his hands full what with trying to keep the Metro Bridge from collapsing!"
Over the years, Roxanne would learn that she wouldn't even need to prompt Megamind into revealing his evil plans, as he simply couldn't help but give them to her and anyone that happened to be in earshot in excruciating detail. Today was no exception; his target was Metro City's power infrastructure, starting with the dam that went into the river. He planned on blowing up the dam and depriving the city of its power source, therefore forcing the city to depend on him for all of its power at grossly inflated prices, muahahahaha!
When she got to the dam, saw his little army of brain bots decorating it with nitro and other explosives, just as Megamind reached the climax of his dastardly plan, Roxanne was getting to a point where she was thinking the giant robot suit a little bit superfluous, at least in relation to this plan. She even got up the guts to say so.
"My dear Roxanne!" said the villain. "How else will I simultaneously threaten you and fight my nemesis? Once he clears up that whole bridge incident, of course."
"You sound like you're expecting him to clean up your mess," she said, trying to fight the discomfort of being gripped so tightly by a giant robot hand. She watched as the last of the brain bots threw down the stick of dynamite, before coming up next to Megamind, as though waiting for instruction.
"Of course, I am counting on it. I need those mindless drones to survive; how else will they deal out all of their money to me once they have no other way of getting their power?"
"The only thing getting dealt to you," declared a powerful, hypermasculine voice from a distance, "is the punishment you deserve!"
"Metro Man!" cried Roxanne
"Metro Man," trilled Megamind. "Muahahaha!" Roxanne then heard him, in a different timber altogether, "Minion, tell the troops to fall back. I've got this." She felt the giant robot fingers steady themselves around her waist.
"Let her go," warned Metro Man as he descended from the sky like a messianic angel.
"Gladly, old friend!" he said, holding her out over the torrent of the water running through the dam. "Though you'll have a difficult time stopping the destruction of the dam and saving her all at the same time!" Roxanne was a little ashamed of the terrified noise she made.
"Don't panic, Roxy!" said Metro Man in the most calming voice one could yell.
"Yeah, no pressure or anything!" she replied.
Metro Man ascended back into the sky. Roxanne saw a small fleet of brain bots retreating behind him; those must have been the troops Megamind had been referring to. Megamind laughed heartily.
"You see, Metro Man, your sense of justice makes you weak!" He clenched his robot fist; with each dramatic flourish Roxanne felt even more tortured by the world's most insidious corset.
"You know nothing of justice! Justice is something they don't teach in educational institutions of evil, Megamind!"
"Instead, I have an MFA in criminal genius, a far more valuable asset!"
"Property value drops drastically where crime runs rampant!"
"He is crushing me to death!" screamed Roxanne. For the love of God, did these two never tire of the whole witty banter thing? Megamind could have blown up six dams by now!
Metro Man barely seemed to notice her; instead he grabbed one of the brain bots passing by. "Your logic is corrupt, Megamind!" he declared. "And like any corrupt system, it is bound not to work properly!" He ripped one of the legs off of the brain bot.
Roxanne caught Megamind's expression change; he was no longer enjoying himself. In fact, he was shocked. "What are you doing?"
"Oh, don't like that, huh?" said Metro Man flying backwards and scooping up an armful of terrified brain bots, crushing each of them in turn. "How does it feel when the tables are turned on your ingenious little creations?"
"Stop that!" Megamind yelled, tramping over in his big robot suit, scarcely aware that he even had Roxanne in his metal clutches anymore. He no longer seemed to be playing the part of the villain anymore; he just seemed pissed.
"I find it sad, Megamind, that the only things on this planet that you can muster up the strength to remotely care about are these-"
"They aren't even doing anything to you!" Megamind growled. To Roxanne's surprise, he powered down the suit entirely, and the robot hand fell limp, leaving her on the dusty ground. Megamind tromped down the arm of the suit, right past her, and straight up to Metro Man. "What is the point you are trying to prove here?" he demanded. Metro Man looked shocked.
"Give up, Megamind!" said Metro Man. "It is useless to-"
"Stop it!" yelled Megamind. "You make me sick; some hero you are! For all your claims of justice and valor, you really haven't changed, have you?"
"Um…" Metro Man was confused. Roxanne was shocked. She had never seen Megamind display anything that even remotely resembled a genuine, human emotion before.
"Just like in our old school days, all you are is a bully!"
Metro Man scoffed. "I'm the bully?"
"Yes, you! Was I ever the one who ripped the wings off of flies, while all of my soft-headed little groupies cheered, to prove a point? Just because I could? Do I do that, Metro Man?"
"They're nothing but robots," said Metro Man, a little humbled.
"No, you are missing the point!" growled Megamind. "Your little denizens of Metrocity, do you think for a moment that I deign them to be of any greater significance than the lowest of insects? Believe me, I don't! But do I rip their wings off? Do I torture them, just because I consider them insignificant? Just to prove that I find them insignificant? No! That, my friend, is where you excel! It's a good thing that the rest of the brain-dead citizens of this city see the world in the same way you do, because I'd hate to think of what the flies and robots and large-headed weirdos think!"
Metro Man huffed. "It's time for you to-"
"No!" growled Megamind. He started sloughing off his cape. "No, no, forget it, just forget it! I'm not even going to indulge you. I'm too angry! I cannot function when I'm this angry!"
Roxanne was even more stunned than Metro Man when Megamind stormed off, muttering angry asides to himself. She looked at Metro Man, who looked back at her, eyebrow arched in confusion.
"I'll hail a cab, I'll take myself to prison, don't put yourself out of the way!" By this point he was almost out of earshot, spitting angry little instructions to his sidekick in his commlink.
Roxanne realized she was still slumped in the dirt, ribs still aching, still confused. She coughed a little when she saw some of the brain bots conferring in their robotic way, carefully and tenderly removing the broken ones (she had to stop herself from thinking of them as 'the wounded') and carrying them off into the night.
"I uh… I had better go make sure that he… does what he says," said Metro Man, gliding off in the direction in which Megamind had stomped.
"Okay," she said. "Thanks for saving me," she said. Somehow, this time, the hurrahs and adulation didn't seem appropriate.
"Sure, anytime," he said. "See you at the precinct," he said.
"Yup. See you."
Metro Man stepped out of the police station same as he always did, with pride and gusto, and greeting many photographers and film cameras as he did so. He flashed his most glamorous, prepackaged smile.
"How were you able to defeat him so quickly?"
"Villainy forms a weak foundation for any plot, and crumbles quickly."
"Can we expect anything like this from him in the future?"
"I don't think we'll have to worry about him anytime soon."
"Why did he give up without provocation?"
The last question came from Roxanne Ritchi. Metro Man's smile faded when he looked at her face; she was curious, even a little suspicious. "I cannot hope to know every thought and motivation in the criminal mind; if I did, we wouldn't have the need for a superhero."
When the press conference dispersed, Roxanne caught Metro Man about to leave. She knew he had seen her hanging around, waiting to get him alone. She also saw the conflict in him, whether to fly off or give her what she wanted. Apparently deciding she deserved it, he hung back. "What can I do for you Miss Ritchi?"
She sighed. "I just want to talk, mano-a-womano. Off the record."
Metro Man slowly dropped his Metro Schtick. "Alright, Roxie, shoot."
"I was just curious about something he said," she said. "About the type of kid who rips the wings off of flies."
"What about it?"
"Just struck me," she said. "There's actually this kid in my building. His name's Skyler- what kind of name is Skyler? It's so… I don't know, Laguna Beach. Anyway, Skyler keeps trying to kill this family of pigeons next to his patio because he considers them 'vermin'. And I don't know, just something about it…" she stopped herself. Metro Man looked uncomfortable. "Well, it spurned a news piece, 'Is Your Child a Supervillain in the Making?', and I wanted to talk to you about it anyway. You grew up with Megamind, right?"
"Yes," he said, an unmistakable melancholy in his voice.
"Was he that kid?" asked Roxanne. "Was he the kid who tries to kill pigeons?"
Metro Man chuckled. "No, he most definitely was not."
Roxanne was a little surprised, even disappointed. That certainly took any reliable generalizations she was planning to make out of her piece. "Really?"
"What was he talking about when he mentioned the kid who rips the wings off of flies?"
Metro Man's lips pursed. He looked around, and then took a seat on the steps. "Off the record, right?" asked Metro Man. "For my sake and his. It just wouldn't be good PR for either of us."
"Yes, of course," she said. "You've saved me and the city enough to earn that much at least."
Metro Man sighed. "The reason Megamind went to our school was because he was so bright. I mean, we all knew he was smarter than the rest of us, even though he didn't talk much. But he always kept to himself, him and that fish. You've met the fish, right?"
Roxanne nodded. "He's actually a pretty nice fish," she said. "I feel like I could be friends with the guy if he wasn't, you know, an evil henchman."
"Well, back then, the fish couldn't talk," said Metro Man. Roxanne looked surprised. "Yeah, somewhere along the line Megamind figured out how to give the fish intelligence and the ability to speak. I mean, it was clearly a smart fish, by fish standards, but like… dog smart. Like it could do tricks and was clearly attached to the little guy, but he couldn't talk and he didn't have a mechanical gorilla suit. I figure sometime later, after he got kicked out of school, he figured out how to give the fish the ability to talk and reason. But back then, he was really protective of the fish. Like he might let people look at the fish, but no one was allowed to hold him. That sort of thing.
"So one weekend I think the janitor didn't come, and when we got there on Monday, there were these flies hovering around the trash can. A dozen or so flies. And the teacher was trying to teach, but people kept getting distracted by all of these flies buzzing around. So I finally get fed up, and I pluck them out of the air, one by one, and then I…" he paused. Roxanne's were big, curious. "Well, I ripped off their wings, put them on the teacher's desk in a little jar, and I said something to the tune of, 'Now they won't be giving us any more trouble,' yadda yadda yadda. And all of the kids cheered, they thought it was the best thing ever, like I'd just defeated a bunch of little bad guys. A bunch of little bank robbers.
"But I will never forget the look on his face." Metro Man chuckled wistfully at the memory. "Everyone else thought it was great, I got a gold star, but Megamind, I'll never forget him sitting in the back of the classroom with the most horrified expression on his face. And the way he was holding his fish, it was like he was preparing to defend his fish to the death, like I might do the same thing to his fish."
"But you wouldn't…" said Roxanne.
"No, no, of course not. I mean, I might have threatened to a time or two. " Roxanne scoffed, surprised, even a little disappointed. "You have to understand, he was not well-liked, even as a kid."
"I can imagine that, but still."
"Well," said Metro Man. "The thing is, I think even as a kid, he saw more of himself in those flies than he did in us."
"And the same applies to him and his brain bots now," finished Roxanne. "You have to admit, you were a little bit out of line."
"Maybe," admitted Metro Man. "I was just trying to go add to my extended metaphor and get him riled up. How was I supposed to know that he was attached to those things? I thought they were just drones."
"Well," said Roxanne. "I think, on some levels, so are flies."
"Yeah," said Metro Man. "And if you want to get really cynical, at least in his view, so are we."
Roxanne sighed and nodded. "Guess I'll have to scrap my piece on the making of supervillainy," she said. "Seems like all of the generalizations I might have made don't work."
"Well, I do have one for you, based on all of the ones I've encountered over the years," he said. "They were probably not well-liked in school."
Roxanne sighed. She never in a million years thought that she might have felt a little bit, even the tiniest mote of sympathy for Megamind, but there it was.
"You want to get some coffee?" asked Metro Man.
Roxanne stood up. "That sounds like a bangin' idea."
It wasn't a week before Megamind had escaped from prison. Roxanne had come to know and accept that this meant she was probably going to end up as a hostage sometime in the near future. The idea didn't really frighten her anymore; it was hard to be frightened by the little boy who was horrified at the thought of pulling the wings off of flies.
That evening, while some drama queen news reporter harped on about Megamind's escape from his cardboard cell, Roxanne heard some water flushing outside. Scooping her glass of wine, she looked outside; Skyler had a big jug of water, and he was trying to pour it in the drainage grate in which that pigeon nest was holed up.
Roxanne shook her head, and stood back. Yep. CEO. Destiny. When she came back inside, she realized she had let a fly in. As if on instinct she picked up her fly swatter, stalking her prey in the satisfactory manner of all who prepare to rid their lives of a fly, before glancing sidelong at the TV, at the dastardly be-smirked mugshot of Megamind. And wouldn't he be horrified to see what a bully she was?
She sighed, opening the door to her patio. "Alright, Megamind. Just this once," she said, and shooed the fly outside.
The blue coils of the brain bot finally flickered to life, and Megamind sighed in relief. "Ah, good!" he said.
Groggily, the brain bot, Number 12.56 (informal designation Toothtron) slowly lifted itself into the air, a bit confused.
"Yes, that wasn't very sporting of him, was it?" said Megamind, pursing his cheeks in a cutesy way. "But you're a good boy, aren't you? You're a good boy!"
Toothtron chirruped, unsure.
"I know, you're a bit shell shocked," he said, petting the bot's glass shell. "You can sleep with daddy tonight." Megamind did, on occasion, sleep with a brain bot or two on his cot.
"Ah, he's alright!" said Minion as he entered, coffee for two in hand.
"Yes, I was worried that he might not make it, but they're all alright!" he said. A small swell of well-wishing brain bots flooded into the repair bay behind Minion. "We should celebrate before we start devising our next evil plan."
"And what do you suggest, sir?"
Megamind stroked his goatee. "It occurs to me, we've never overtaken City Park," he said. "Whatsay we devise some distraction to keep Metro Man off our backs, dehydrate every single monkey in the vicinity, and have the whole day to ourselves!"
The brain bots' coils all chirped with excitement. Megamind smiled proudly. He was quite satisfied with the family he'd created, and in a sad way that was something Metro Man did not have, nor could he understand. Somewhere in the back of his magnificent brain, Megamind almost pitied him for it.