I'm fairly active over at the Megamind LJ community (I'm studymaniac for the few of you who'd know me). Anyway I was inspired by neuralclone to write this AU. I warn you though. This is the serious chapter so be prepared for the angst!
Disclaimer: My greatest evil plot would be a hostile takeover of DreamWorks and thus owning Megamind. Sadly this plot is still hasn't paid out, so until then I own nothing. ;P
This Caped Cabaret
It was a sad sight, made even worse by the knowledge that it wasn't always this way. Not too long ago a proud city stood on this ground. Colossal towers of steel had shared space with the humblest brick apartment buildings here. Instead of the smoking rubble there had been businesses large and small. That black patch of liquefied organic ooze had been the city park, and you could just barely spot the bay from here. The opening to one of the largest lakes this side of the planet, now an acidic sink hole that was still boiling from the nuclear aftermath.
As cliché as it sounds, there was a lone figure to observe it all but he was far from an inhabitant of this desolate scene. While he once had dreams of walking on this planet he had never set foot on it until today. What a pity.
His race had such hope for this planet. Some had been skeptical, due to how closely its dominant species resembled their militaristic neighbors, but they progressed faster in the realms of science and reason than the Glau ever did. Besides the two were hardly similar molecularly, and the figure doubted that these people had ever been able to produce the fluorescent proteins need to turn ones retinas into laser emitters.
However besides organic chemistry this planet was so different from Glau. Smaller, lighter, and abundant in water it was practically a twin to the observer's own world. It was another reason why they had been so interested. It was rare enough to discover a planet that could support life, let alone in the conditions that mirrored their own. Even if you discarded any ideas of colonization there was still plenty of opportunities for trade and mutual scientific discovery. The origin of planets, why some species looked alike, why they all seemed to evolve along similar biological patterns, the origin of life, basically the origin of everything were all questions that could have been probed, if not solved.
But that was then and this is now.
The figure sighed deeply. It was hard letting go of an interesting project, and a dream. He'd been assigned to observe this sector from the Saturn Moon base for years. Not that it was actually called "Saturn", just some list of numbers, but he had heard one of the humans call it that once and deemed the name far more catchy. The observational equipment there was top of the line. It was much better than it was fifty years ago, back when they used drones and self operating AIs. Great heavens those things had been a pain! Lorek never had to use them in his career, but his predecessor often complained about the constant glitches and navigational miscalculations. The darn things kept flying too close to the surface and attracting attention. One of them even crashed! Luckily it was in the middle of a desert and they were able to send a retrieval team to extract most of the main pieces before a form of emergency services arrived. They were almost afraid that the whole project would be blown, due to the Supreme Council's strict regulations on first contact, but luckily the humans had been content on sweeping the whole thing under the rug. So the Council had let it go and given them more funding to upgrade their systems. His station looked more like an observatory than a lab.
It had been like watching his viewer at home, and Lorek's family had teased him about being paid to sit on his rear all day watching programs.
He'd joke back and say that it was the best job in the galaxy.
He liked the humans. They were far from perfect, but what species really was? Each culture had its interesting quirks. They weren't torn between strict logic or pure creativity. You could argue that they were a little on the emotional side, but if Lorek had to be honest then he'd have to admit how flamboyant his own people could be when they were on (what had the humans called it? Oh yes) a "sugar high".
Not that it mattered now. Lorek sighed again at the destruction around him. Even his kind hadn't been gutsy enough to split an atom. They knew the destructive power that it carried, and while many of their tech included radiation or some form of chemistry that had originated with this energy they had never actually built a bomb with it. They had other means of mass destruction.
The political tension building up to this had been agonizing to watch. All of the misconceptions and secrets, culture clashes and economical disputes had amassed the pressure until their leaders just couldn't take it anymore. Emotions had run high, and even reason could have led the charge given that not a single person involved had possessed all of the facts.
Lorek had begged the Supreme Council to interfere, or allow him to. But he'd been hastily denied. Yes their presence would most likely unite the humans but it would also be most likely be against them. Besides it wasn't their place to interfere with the natural course of the natives' development. The rules of contact clearly stated that communication was to only be established when the possible change to a race's culture and mindset were within the minimal and acceptable levels. Which the human's current state of global affairs was anything but.
It was like the whole world just screamed, and the explosions had almost sounded like it on the monitors.
Lorek looked up at the sky. From the images he had been sent it was supposed to be a blue as his skin, but that was gone too. He shook his large head. There was still data to be collected and he wanted to be back on base before the orange skies ripped open with another static storm.
He pulled a device out of the pocket of his hazmat suit to scan the air quality, as dismal as it was. His thick protective boots broke the crusty shale underfoot. No doubt that except for the most resilient forms of life everything had been wiped out, and would take thousands if not millions of years to recover. Yet even without its people they could learn things from this planet, and Lorek was contemplating whether or not to say on the project. It wouldn't be the same without the human's sitcoms and social antics to brighten his day. Part of him argued that it would be a hallow shell of the experience it had been, but at the same time he wondered if his replacement appreciate what was left behind. Would he or she preserve the literature or music that had somehow survived? Would they try to study the scientific theorems that cleverly saw things in a different way? Would they just delete any remnant TV or radio programs still echoing on the air waves? Would they save and try to decontaminate the works of art, or appreciate the rubble that had once been the Eiffel Tower or the Great Wall of China?
Somehow that made Lorek even more depressed.
He wished he could reach up to twist the tips of his mustache, but the poly coating helmet wouldn't allow for the nervous gesture. Only males of his species grew large amounts of hair and only around the oral cavity, if you didn't count eyebrows. Another wave of regret washed over Lorek as he pounded in the idea that he'd never get the chance to feel the soft locks females of this planet had been so obsessive over.
He was about to return to his ship when he heard it.
"Impossible." Lorek whispered, but no… There it was again!
Without thinking Lorek ran back the way he came. Dodging rubble and skeletons he followed the sound. It had been faint at first, but unmistakable. It was one of the commonalities that were shared by all forms of life and drew the same instinctual response.
The trail lead the blue skinned man to the half standing remains of a large building. The sign marking off the parking lot was broken, but still legible.
Metro Mercy Hospital
There was more debris in the lobby, but somehow he managed. The broken tile and empty halls made it harder to track, and Lorek had to double back a time or two. The place must have been like a maze even when it was completely standing because he ran into more than one dead end. He did his best to not look at the gurneys or slip on the biological matter.
Finally he turned a corner and he knew that he was on the right track. The equipment here was obviously made for this kind of patient and the wailing was louder. The alien's single minded pursuit blissfully blinded him from truly seeing what lay in that corridor. There are some things that no one should witness.
Lorek stopped in the doorway of the isolated room and leaned against its frame. His lanky body wasn't used to all this running, plus the floor ahead was uneven and collapsing in one corner. Some crafty footwork was going to be needed to cross safely. Thank the Heavens that his kind was blessed with an amazing sense of balance.
However even with this gift it was tricky.
"Gah!" He exclaimed as the floor dropped away beneath him. He lunged forward and gripped the ledge for all his worth, his feet dangling uselessly. He entertained thoughts of calling an AI until the crying began again.
"Shhhh. It's ok. It's ok. I'm coming." He cooed instinctively. No, he wouldn't call an AI – he decided – they're too single minded. The dumb machine would just grab him and leave without a parting glance at the crying pile of blankets in the corner.
"I'm… coming." He promised hefting his chest over the side. He had to drag himself up, clawing at the cracked concrete, until his knee finally found purchase on a support beam.
Oh man he was tired, and vowed to start taking the exercise protocols more seriously from now on.
Out of danger Lorek let himself lay there for a moment and considered talking a quick nap until the sound that brought him here suddenly rose in pitch.
"I'm coming!" He promised again. Though his strength was slow to return Lorek crawled to the corner, and he discovered that what he thought were blankets were actually a pile of lead vests.
'Clever.' Lorek thought. 'For an adult it wouldn't be enough but for someone smaller…' He was tempted to tear them off all at once but didn't. Instead he pulled out another small device from his hazmat pocket. It was a disk with a small blue orb in the center, and the whole thing was about the size of a cookie. He set it on the floor next to the blankets and pressed down on the orb. It began to glow and after a moment of warming up projected an electromagnetic field outward like the opening of an umbrella. Lorek turned the dial till the force field was big enough to cover the area.
The odds that this could have happened were astronomically small and Lorek wouldn't ruin it all just because he was too impatient. If he thought watching the world crumble was agonizing, then this was pure torture. As he counted down the seconds it would take the gadget to purify the air and filter out the radiation within the bubble, he wondered what he would find. How safe had this pile of lead vests really been? What if the lead itself had caused damage? Would the find some poor disfigured creature? What would he do with it? Could he really take it back to Azzura? What would the Supreme Council think? Surely this wasn't interfering, or at least not in an entire culture. Heck there wasn't even a culture left! What about compassion towards other living creatures? Where in the guidelines had that been addressed?
Oh Heavens, what if they wanted to kill-
The disk beeped, signaling that it was done and shocking him out of his thoughts. Despite his earlier anxiety Lorek removed the vests very slowly. He was afraid of what he might find but it would be impossible to turn away.
"Why hello." He greeted softly.
Cradled inside the vests like insects in a cocoon were two small infants. One was smaller than the other, but they were both showing signs of extreme dehydration and malnutrition. Lorek mentally counted off the days since the first missile had struck the area, assuming that they hadn't eaten since then it was understandable. The smaller baby was in a blue jumpsuit and looked a little younger that the other in pink. He guessed that they were male and female judging from what he knew of Earth culture. The poor boy didn't even have the energy to cry and it broke the alien's twin hearts.
Another ear piercing wail made him wince.
"Now, now. It's ok. Uncle Lorek is here, and I'm going to make everything all better." He cooed at the girl. Though he wasn't sure how he was going to keep his promise.
The girl might have been a little better off since she was older but not by much. She was stubborn though and Lorek had to admire her resilience. She certainly had some pipes to keep wailing like that.
"You're a fighter, aren't ya?" He asked gently rubbing her tummy, and hoping it would calm her down.
He'd have to get them out of there soon, but he spared a glance around the remains of the room curious as to how the children survived. There was some sort of large medical machine caught between the hole and most of the debris. So that had taken the brunt of the force, along with the rest of the building. It was just a miracle pure and simple that the roof didn't collapse, but how had they gotten there? Why weren't they affected by the toxic air?
That's when Lorek spotted the corpse. It was female, probably within the ages of twenty five to thirty, and wearing the dirty and tattered remains of some sort of uniform. So she worked here huh? Must have gabbed these two and desperately hid them under the vests knowing that the lead would protect them from the worst of the radiation. Why these two would always be a mystery. Convenience, chance, family relation maybe, whatever the reason it all remained the same. Dead men tell no tales.
Beside her Lorek spotted the air canisters. They were all oxygen containers and had tubes stuffed into the pile. Again, that was clever. The seal wouldn't be perfect (the boy had a cough that Lorek didn't like), but considering the stress she must have been under it was impressive thinking.
The girl wailed again, demanding attention.
"Ok, ok." He read the paper bands on the children's ankles. Thank goodness that their written language was similar to his own. "Miss Roxanne Ritchi and Mr. Bernard Jones it's a pleasure to meet you. Now let's get you some food."
He wrapped them both in an oversized vest and pinned the force field generator to the front. He'd have to walk slower so the generator could keep up the bubble, but that was manageable. Bundle cradled to his chest the alien skirted around the edges of the room being careful not to fall. At the doorway though, Lorek had to stop.
He glanced over his shoulder. Whoever the woman was she'd sacrificed everything to save these children, and deserved something for it. Even if words fell on deaf ears at least they were said.
"Thank you," He whispered, "You did your best to protect them and now I'll do the same."
Before anyone asks, no Lorek is not Megamind's father (I hope the mustache and not a full on beard would be enough of a hint). I know... (Le Gasp! An OC! DDDDDX) But I have a different role in mind for Meg's dad. Bwahahah. =] Plus I SWEAR if we ever see Lorek again it will be to either further the plot or shine some light on an issue going on with the main characters, which isn't that the definition of a secondary character?
And yes, I did bring Bernard along for the ride. It wasn't in the prompt, but I figured that Megamind had Minion to prevent him from going nuts from social isolation so Roxanne needed somebody too.
PS. The hallway that Lorek was blissfully blind to was the delivery ward. Again maybe I was a little too subtle here but I wanted to set up where he was in the hospital but didn't want to graphically describe it either (gah! DX)