07.1 - Fanning the Flame

This whole “villain undercover” schtick is cute and all but it’s so first season.

Where are the dashing heroes just begging to be taken down by the cunning and charming pyrokinetic? Where are the shocking swerves that upset all that has come before, and establish a new order? Where’s the moment when the villain has to make a hard choice and pay a price?

Where’s the fun, god dammit?

Well, here’s the museum anyway. And hey, it’s the supers wing. And hey, of course, the heroes. We never acknowledge the villains who gave them the opportunity to shine. Just the heroes. Look at them. Look at them. Oh, Nono is looking at them.

Alright. Time to say something so fantastic that she–

“I love coming here,” she gushes. “It’s so… so…!”


“So amazing!” She twirls, and it’s adorable, god dammit. Oh. Wait, oh god no, she’s got her notebook with her, and she’s writing. That means fanfiction.

“Who is it this time?” I ask. It’s not like I’m absolutely disinterested, but Nono is like a raging river that goes through a series of sluice gates all marked “tell me more about your hobby”. It’s obligatory.

“Oh! Oh! Welll…” She slides up to me conspiratorially, and shows me the notebook.

A Sergeant SURGE and Mighty Joe Young ship. I read off the names. “Gorilla My Dreams”. “Monkey Business”.

“Why?” This time, I can’t keep the flat disdain out of my voice. I’m going to need to bleach my face later to deal with this.

“Wellllllll, the Sergeant used to be a villain, and I know how you feel about that…” She winks at me, apparently loving that she’s got some kind of awesome secret. “But Joe, you know, he’s so wistful and emo and brooding, but he’s got that primal passion too, and it’s just so, ooh!” There’s a wholly unnecessary girlish shiver there. Maybe if I stick a screwdriver through my ear…

I need to get out of this conversation as quickly as possible.

The fire alarm goes off. Yes, good start, but I haven’t done anything, don’t jump the gun.

The ceiling bursts. There’s voices. Oh, hey, the Architects of Evil are here. I won’t say they’re the most useless supervillain group of all time.

I haven’t met every supervillain group yet, after all.

Alright, finally some action!


I take it all back.

Alllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll of it.

I no longer wish for an astounding change in the status quo.

One of the SURGE Suppressors ducked in front of me, apparently to lure Madhesive into hitting Rubble Rouser. It didn’t work out very well for us. Now I’m covered in glue, and this isn’t even my kink.

I start burning the glue off, careful not to roast myself. This’ll work, right?

Nope, next thing I know, it’s the gravity girl. Mostly I’m annoyed at needing rescue. And I’m annoyed that I got caught flat-footed. And I’m really annoyed that it’s probably a bunch of young superheroes doing the rescuing. This is a bad look for me.

And I’m really, really afraid of Nono getting hurt.

Alright, fuck it, I’m joining the fight. Time to roast this asshole in his own suit.

I observe, orient, decide, and–

Oh hey, it’s the idiot who got us into this. And they just look at me, like they know, and say “probation”.

Oh shit. Ohhhh shit yeah.

I know exactly what I’d do. Light this guy on fire, make s’mores over his charred bones. But that’s way, way too extreme for this school. And I’m still playing the fit-in-play-along game.

I’d lose Nono.

I clench my fists and grit my teeth and keep the fire under control. Nono got hurt by some of the rubble, and I go check on her.

We’re gonna play nice little tame pet villain for right now. We’re gonna go along with the program. We’re gonna keep Nono safe, and make sure she’s not too badly hurt.

It’s still Season One.

If I ever get a line on this guy’s hideout, though, we’re holding a surprise BBQ.


The fight wrapped up. Nono is hurt. She’s being seen to. Not by “heroes”, but by professionals. Good.

I know if I get too close and fuss, it’s going to cause problems.

I have a history with paramedics and medical personnel. So far, it’s all been extremely positive. Alright. Deep breaths.

I get out my phone to pass the time. There’s a bunch of unread email, of course. I have email folder rules set up to keep things sorted out - nobody wants a reply-all mistake on a message like “come to the docks tonight to pick up the stuff, and don’t let nobody tail you”.

I find myself hunting for emails from Nono. Yeah, there’s some. She forwarded me her latest story.

Nono’s been a fan of “Avatar: the Last Airbender” for the longest time. She told me the story, of how she got online and was looking around at random, and met a bunch of nice people who were fans too. They helped her stay sane and survive her family at home. And then she met me. Or as she calls me, “her real-life firebender”.

Nono loves fire of all kinds. In the show, I guess the firebenders are the bad guys. Yeah, well, I can fuckin’ sympathize with that, can’t I? But she always writes them as good people.

She wrote me into this story. I can tell immediately.

Eh, why not? I start reading. I guess I can stand to be the hero for a couple chapters.


In this universe, Nono is an Avatar fan rather than MLP. It sounds like a minor difference, but I want to see what new story it gives me.


Across a sea of galaxies, and endless vibrational planes …