Don't Call Me Sweetheart.
Helen needed those codes. Bob needed those codes. Dicker needed those codes. And it was up to Helen to find a way to crack them. This wasn't easy when the only person able to crack them was the creator and former CEO of OmniCorp, diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic and acquitted mass murderer and terrorist. Buddy Pine. Syndrome. Currently eight months into his two year house arrest and temporarily banned from acting as CEO of OmniCorp.
The things money can buy. The whole trial was a farce from the very beginning. Syndrome's lawyer argued that his client, Mr Pine, was not guilty by reason of insanity and that Mr Pine was a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic with a history of refusing to take his medicine resulting events like this. When he did take his medicine, he argued, Mr Pine was a charming and charismatic individual and one of America's greatest patriots, having founded OmniCorp from scratch and turned it into a multi-billion dollar company produced weapons and technology. Mr Pine alone had a fortune estimated at $19 billion.
'Mr Pine is a genius inflicted with a serious illness and he cannot be held responsible for his actions – his illness was the reason and the cause and Mr Pine was helpless to stop himself,' the lawyer concluded. Of course, Syndrome played the part excellently, Helen must admit. Telling the court how slow he felt on medicine, how useless and dulled. It was as if he was 'wadding through cotton wool, every sense is deadened' and he 'just can't think.' He had stopped taking his pills because without them, he felt like himself, alive again, but with them, he felt nothing. He felt as if he had depression. Hadn't he suffered enough already? The horrific burns covering the right side of his face and moving down below his shirt collar, testament that he could survive being sucked into a jet engine, were the shock factor. Mr Pine would not only have this whole ordeal hanging over him for the rest of his life, but he would see it whenever he looked in the mirror, reminding him of the damage he could do without his medicine.
The jury swallowed it all up. That, and the little backhander Syndrome had given them. The judge, too.
So much for American justice. Syndrome was found not guilty by reason of insanity and ordered to temporarily step down as CEO of OmniCorp and to spend two years under house arrest, and to keep taking his medicine. He received nothing more sinister than an electronic ankle tag and the threat of surprise visits to ensure he hadn't stopped taking his medicine. Aside from that, he was let off completely.
All those supers he had murdered. All the civilians injured or killed. Their lives were worthless if you had the power to bribe the courts. Helen's testimony, Bob's testimony, even their children's testimony was worthless. The children of the Supers Syndrome has ruthlessly murdered remained without justice and were left with the taste of betrayal in their mouths.
Helen couldn't believe it. Bob was furious and remained so for days afterwards, when the media was still a storm stirring up the events all over the papers, television and radio. It was everywhere. It was worldwide. OmniCorp's shares and profits went through the roof. Buddy Pine was everywhere. There is nothing like a crazed and sadistic madman attempting to murder all the Supers in the world to boost revenue.
Six months later Xerek appeared.
Which is why Helen was here; outside the California mansion currently holding Syndrome and about to break in. If the only person smart enough to crack the codes and stop Xerek was Syndrome, then she'd make him crack the codes. He'd have to do it, otherwise Helen would grab him and throw him outside into the streets, breaking his house arrest and resulting in, what she hoped, was serious trouble. Syndrome wasn't so tough without his weapons and gadgets. He was a sitting duck.
The mansion itself was the typically luxurious type. With, she estimated, probably six or seven bedrooms, a lot of bathrooms and even more sitting rooms. In one of those rooms was Syndrome. Up on the roof, Helen opened one of the glass ceiling windows carefully, both thankful and curious that they weren't hooked up to the security system. She slided in, and dropped delicately to the floor. Even the cream carpet was luxurious.
She was in. Now all she had to do was find Syndrome. She decided to go straight on and see where she was led, careful to keep her senses on high alert. After a few moments, she came to the staircase and went down it. She moved through a series of sitting rooms before coming to a large kitchen. Across the kitchen counter was empty soda cans, packets of European and Japanese candy, dirty ashtrays and pills. Pills were spread out all over the counter, some had obviously formed words but had been scattered about. There were red pills, yellow pills, pink pills, blue pills and aspirin. Empty yellow bottles with prescription labels had been thrown into the sink, alongside a few empty coffee mugs and, strangely enough, a computer keyboard and mouse.
Helen moved on, until she found another staircase, this one leading downstairs. Considering she hadn't had much luck finding Syndrome so far, he had to be down this stairway. Except Helen had no idea what was down there, only that by logical conclusion it must be the basement. And yet, for all she knew, she could be walking straight into a trap.
Determination won out, and she slowly moved down the stairs, stopping every few steps to slow her breathing and racing heart. At the bottom of the steps she found herself coming face to face with a bullet proof glass wall, in the middle of which was a door with a high tech electronic door lock connecting to a large steel handle.
Behind the glass wall was Syndrome. He was sat in a large basement room filled with desks, upon which sat computer screens, blueprint sheets and more coffee mugs. All over the basement were various electronic gadgets and weapons in a half built state.
Helen's pulse quickened even further as she found herself staring at the man who had nearly killed her family, kidnapped her youngest son and destroyed their home. He looked as though he was unaware that she was there, sat leaning over a desk behind several computer screens, fiddling with an electronic circuit board. Unlike the cocky and arrogant pseudo-Super he portrayed himself to be, this Syndrome looked completely unthreatening. His flaming ginger hair was tied back in a greasy, messy ponytail and he was dressed simply in black cargo pants, a long sleeved black shirt, grey socks with a pair of rectangle glasses sliding down his nose. On his left ankle was the electronic tag. Helen winced as she looked at the burn scars covering half his face and neck, giving him a Two-Face style appearance.
Helen remained so distracted staring at the healed skin that she hadn't noticed that Syndrome had leant back in his chair and had closed his eyes. He opened them and looked straight at her, smiling arrogantly as he did so. Helen frowned and stepped forward to reveal herself fully, displaying her authority over him as a Super. He heaved himself out of his chair and walked towards the glass door where he stopped and stood with his arms folded, the arrogant smile still on his face.
The two remained this way for a minute, each staring at the other, before Syndrome moved to press the button on the intercom on the electronic door lock.
"You know, I'm sure the media would love to hear how I, the poor uncontrollable schizophrenic, am being harassed still by The Incredibles," he spoke to Helen through the intercom, his voice calm but still portraying the arrogance and cockiness of his personality. He stood leaning against the glass wall, waiting for Helen to reply.
"You tried to kill my family," was all she said in return, causing Syndrome to snort in response.
"According to the courts, I'm not responsible for my actions. You'll have to try that one again."
"You bought them all off and everyone knows –," Helen began, but Syndrome was quick to cut her off.
"What I want to know is, why you have come snooping around my home, and yes, I know you've been snooping around," he winked at Helen, "I mean, really, I'm an engineering and electronics genius, did you know think I'd have CCTV covering the whole place? Not a smart move, sweetheart."
"Don't call me sweetheart, you bastard," Helen was seething at the smugness of the man in front of her, separated by ten inches of reinforced glass, "I'm not one of your squeezes who you command about and toss into the gutter once you're finished with them."
"Speaking of squeezes, how is Gwendolyn? Or should I say Mirage, because I know how the NSA recruited her into their little gang in return for information on me. You and your kind like to play the preacher but we both know that corruption works two ways...honey."
"If my husband was here –," but Helen was once again cut off.
"But he's not here, is he, Elastigirl?" Syndrome paused for a moment and sighed, "Now, if you're done here, I suggest you leave and you can take the front door this time." He turned to walk back to his desk.
Helen, in a moment of pure desperation and fury at having failed what was originally such an easy plan, knocked on the glass and called out, causing Syndrome to sigh again and return to the intercom.
"I wouldn't be here if it wasn't important," Helen began, "My husband doesn't know I'm here," she started, causing Syndrome to raise an eyebrow, "but I need your help."
Syndrome smiled again, before replying. "And why should I trust you?"
"Oh, truer words have never been spoken."
"It's Xerek," Helen stated simply, looking straight at Syndrome to monitor his response. There was no outwardly change in his face, but Helen could swear his baby blue eyes darkened a little.
"Xerek? That old British pussy trying to rip off my designs?" Syndrome snorted again. "He doesn't even try and hide it either, heh."
"Look, the NSA are willing to cut your house arrest short if you help us," Helen reached into her utility belt to pull out a simple looking USB pendrive. She held it up for Syndrome to see. "All you need to do is crack the codes on this."
There was a long silence, during which Syndrome looked off into the distance in thought. Helen looked into his face once again; his left side remained pale and freckled, the right side horrifically scarred. His right eye moved slower than his left, indicating that he had endured some damage to it, which explained Syndrome's sudden use of glasses. At the top of his hairline on the right side of his face, the hair was fine and dowdy as it had just begun to grow back from where it was burned away in the jet crash. Syndrome's calmness and silence was beginning to unnerve Helen.
"No. I won't help you," was Syndrome's reply, as he looked straight at Helen.
"If you won't help us, and I leave here, next time I'll be bringing my husband," Helen threatened.
"Sugar, you wouldn't be this confident if there wasn't this wall between us," Syndrome replied.
"Neither would you."
"You're a feisty one, aren't you? I can see now why Incredible married you," Syndrome leaned his head against the glass door, his gaze never breaking from Helen's. "I like them feisty." He smirked.
Helen, sensing that she was losing, brought up the only card she had, a card she never thought she'd have to say out loud, and certainly not to Syndrome. "Did you know Mirage had an abortion?"
This worked, because Syndrome was suddenly struck still, his eyes a little wider as he looked away again. It was impossible to tell what he was thinking.
He focused back, however, and the usual arrogance returned. "That's a shame, I would have liked a sidekick. As you know."
"You're a sadistic, heartless, cruel bastard, Syndrome." Helen couldn't help it, she was losing patience, and regretted being trapped on the other side of the glass, powerless to wipe the smirk off of Syndrome's face.
"Don't flatter me, sweetheart."
"I told you, don't call me -," Helen's face was the picture of fury, and Syndrome cut her off once more.
"Sleep with me," was all Syndrome said, and it took a moment for Helen to process what he had just said.
"What did you just say?" Helen was regretting ever having tried this plan, she should have just gone in heavy handed, the way Bob would have done. If Bob were here and not her, he would have ripped the door from its hinges and beaten Syndrome into cracking the codes. Which was exactly why Helen was here and not him, because she could keep her cool. At least, so she thought. It was becoming increasingly difficult to keep calm.
"Sleep with me and I'll help you with the codes," Syndrome shrugged, looking bored. "I've always wanted to sleep with a superhero, and while you're no Vectress, you'll do, I suppose."
That was the final straw for Helen. She turned on her heel and walked back up the stairs, aware that Syndrome was watching her walk away with that arrogant smirk of his. Walking out of the mansion, she took one moment to take a deep breath, and as she walked through a large sitting room, she saw the extremely large LCD television attached to the wall. Furious at what Syndrome had said and the way he had treated her, as well as being furious with herself for allowing herself to get into this mess, she stretched and smashed her first straight into the television, smirking as it smashed and pieces fell to the floor. She hoped Syndrome saw that on his CCTV.
She walked out, slamming the front door behind her, leaving Syndrome alone in the basement chuckling to himself at his desk.
Cracking the codes, especially ones from Xerek, would take him less than five minutes. Syndrome started to laugh. Especially seeing as they were his codes to begin with. He was going to have a lot of fun with this. His revenge against Incredible and his family may have failed the first time, but now he had a plan to get at the lot of them. And this time, he knew it wouldn't fail. He swirled around in his chair, and instantly went upstairs into his bedroom to sort out the CCTV.
"She'll be back," he muttered to himself.
And a week later, Helen returned.
- I've had this story in me for a while, but only just plucked up the energy to write it. This is the first chapter of four, and the rating will go up with the next chapter.
- Please try and imagine Syndrome's home as being similar to that of Tony Stark, especially the basement - I used the Iron Man movies as inspiration for Syndrome's home.
- Please review and let me know what you think. English is not my first language so any help is appreciated.