How had things gotten this bad?
Page found herself asking that question as she angrily dragged a tree through the wintery wasteland she found herself in.
It wasn't any puny tree either; it was a giant pine that she had found on her hunt for firewood. She wasn't taking any chances of not having enough wood to last through a blizzard if one came through, which they did regularly. So, she was taking the whole thing with her back to base.
It was times like these that Page appreciated her inhuman super strength. Sure, it had other uses too; punching a cement wall to rob a bank, ripping the bumper off a car that had been tailgating her, or even bench pressing a treadmill at the gym to destroy the egos of those fools trying to pick up on her. Yes, she had many uses for her superpowers.
Page hadn't woken up one day and suddenly decided she wanted to be a supervillain. Things like that didn't just happen overnight. Her whole life had been leading up to that point. It was who she was, a villain. Specifically, the villain Death Flower. A name that would lead her to glory and riches. But lately, Page was finding that the path to glory and riches, was harder than she had ever thought.
Right now, Page was not living the high life she desired. Instead, she found herself stuck in the in the middle of nowhere, on a snowy mountaintop, with two morons.
Scrap that. There was that third one.
She always forgot about him.
It was hard not to. He never did anything anyways.
Yes, Page was not alone in her life of villainy. She was part of the not so notorious group of villains called S.O.C.C.; the "Society Of Cool Criminals". Page had voted against the name, but obviously she had lost.
The team-up had looked promising enough when she had finally decided that working with a group might be better than working solo. There was Voltress, the techie, who's massive intellect helped her create advanced machinery and gadgets to use on their missions. Her real name was Ada Kare. However, Page had come to find that, though Voltress possessed an innate gift with technology, she was more or less, a crabby hermit who preferred to spend most of her time trolling Tumblr than actually contributing to their evil plots.
Then there was the Scarlet Platypus. Page hadn't bothered to ask why her teammate had decided to use this name, seeing as she was not exactly, all mentally sound. Her real name was unknown, since she changed it every time they asked, so they referred to her as Scarlet. This villain had the unique ability to read other people's minds, a power that Page had found irresistible when deciding whether she should become a part of the group. But Scarlet had proved herself to be almost more trouble than it was worth having her power. Besides the crazy babble, annoying childish mannerisms, and unnerving tendencies of prolonged staring, Scarlet seemed to never understand orders, and almost always created more havoc than needed. Not a day went by that Page didn't seriously ask herself whether she had made the right decision with that one.
Oh yes, there was also the Supreme Leader. But he had proved to be the most useless one of all. Page was amazed that a human could sleep as much as he did. Day or night, without a doubt, you could always find the Supreme Leader asleep in his room buried under all of his covers. The few, very brief moments he was awake, he barely spoke a word to the rest of them. He usually only left his room to eat and go to the bathroom. That was it. Page would have gotten rid of him a long time ago, if he wasn't one of the most powerful supervillains in existence. She kept him around in hopes that one day he might prove to be useful. She wondered if it was in vain.
The ice-covered cabin came into view as Page left the forest. Grunting, and muttering to herself, she stomped up the last of the path before dropping the tree and straightening. She raised her hands behind her head to catch her breath.
The front door to the cabin swung open and someone's head popped around the corner. It was the Scarlet Platypus. She was wearing her supervillain mask along with her red hoodie. The mask was all white except for the red lettering of "hi!" written backwards on the forehead. Her eyes were indiscernible beneath that mask, but Page could feel them staring at her.
"Hey....hey Death Flower..." Scarlet breathed heavily on the inside of her mask.
"Don’t look at her. Don’t look at her. " Page muttered, shaking her head. Then she realized Scarlet wasn't moving. "What!?"
"Want to play a game?" Scarlet whispered.
"It's called find the ticking." Scarlet's pleasure resounded off her mask, with Scarlet ether ignoring or not caring about her teammates disgruntled glare.
"I really want to throw the sofa at you." Page growled under her breath. After another long awkward pause of Scarlet not getting the hint, Page realized that this wasn't going to end. A long sigh seeped out of her, along with what felt like part of her soul. "Fine, how do you play?"
"You have to find all the things that are ticking. And if you don’t find them all in ten minutes..." And evil laugh came from the unsettling mask.
"What happens if time runs out?"
Scarlet dashed away, bringing her knees up to her chest with every step.
Page rubbed her eyes, not knowing if she should play along or go eat lunch and ignore it. Knowing Scarlet though, nothing could be ignored for long. Letting out a defeated sigh, she started looking around the shabby, disheveled house. She couldn't hear any ticking, but she didn't know if that should reassure her or worry her more. She stopped at Scarlet's room first. The door was shut, and while she didn't hear any ticking, she heard bad recorder playing. Death Flower knocked, but the recorder playing only got louder. Guess I’m going to have to finish this stupid game on my own, she thought and rolled her eyes. "Fine, you stupid Platypus!" She slammed her open palm against the door. The recorder playing stopped for a minute.
"Nine minutes!" Scarlet yelled before continuing to play loudly. Death Flower groaned and turned around to keep looking. She looked in her dark clothing strewn room but there was no ticking. Next, she tried Ada's, aka Voltress's, lair.
"Voltress!" She yelled, knocking on the metal trap door. No response. She knocked harder. Still no response. "VOLTRESS!" Digging her fingers under the locked trapdoor, she ripped it off its hinges. Ada, who was at the top of the basement steps, had her hand stretched upwards where the door had been.
"You really didn't need to do that." Ada said in a deadpan voice. Page looked at the door still in her hand.
"Yeah, sorry about that. You were taking too long to answer the freaking door."
"Well, what do you want? I'm in the middle of a debate with three idiots on the internet, and I refuse to lose any footing on my argument." She ran down the steps and back to her desk. Page followed her. Ada began furiously typing on one of her keyboards. Her eyes darted around the multitude of screens in her technical set up.
The bunker was just big enough to fit three plastic folding tables and a small desk in it. The path through the tables formed a sort of, zig-zag pattern through the room, ending with the desk in the middle of the wall. The desk had three high-tech thin monitors on it, three normal keyboards, two gaming keyboards, and an old-school joystick.
Under the seemingly flimsy desk were two base unit computers; each one was whirring loudly and had lights flashing. The desk was also littered with memory cards, tools, computer parts, discarded chip bags, and empty soda bottles. The three tables were piled high with all sorts of technical things that looked like junk to Page, but must have been projects that Ada was either still working on, or had forgotten about. The cold steel floor was littered with food wrappings and empty drink containers, along with wires and other things that had fallen off the tables. The trash can next to the desk was overflowing as well.
The bunker was lit by dim fluorescent lights. The one to the left was flickering. Page wondered how it hadn't driven Ada crazy yet. Taking in a deep breath, she gagged slightly. The main problem with a bunker was that there were no windows and air to flow in and out of the room; therefore, all of the food smells were trapped down there. Ada didn't seem to notice, and if she did, she wasn't bothered by it.
"Has Scarlet been in here?" Page asked, covering her nose. She glanced around the set up but nothing looked out of place, at least, to the degree it should if Scarlet had been anywhere in the area. "She's making me play this stupid game where I have to find things that tick."
"I don’t have anything that ticks. That would drive me insane. And no, she hasn’t been in here. Though, her GPS shows she's been running around the house. A little more than usual, but not much."
"You have a tracking chip on her?"
"Yeah, in case she runs away or gets picked by the dog catcher or something."
Page wanted to say something but she had to admit it was a good idea. If anyone was going to wander off, it was Scarlet. It seemed that Ada did care about her teammate, despite how bad her social negligence to the group was.
And so, the hunt continued. The cabin wasn’t that big. It was an old building in the mountains that had belonged to a paranoid nuclear disaster enthusiast, which is why it had a hermit bunker underneath. He had run out of money when he built the bunker and had to move in to his parents. All information they had found on the guy was thanks to Ada being a snoop. It was nice to know he wouldn’t be knocking on the door anytime soon. And being at the very top of an icy mountain that felt as if it were cursed by wind and ice, hopefully no one else would come knocking ether.
The cabin had four small bedrooms, a living room, and a kitchen. One room in particular (The Supreme Leader's) hardly ever opened, and the three other villains considered it a wall. They had even gone as far as to hang a picture with a dog in a pool wearing sunglasses on it.
Page went for the most obvious ticking objects first; the living room clock, the egg timer in the kitchen, and the Newton's cradle. She took them one by one to Scarlet's room.
"Is this what you were talking about?" She said, kicking the door.
The recorder playing stopped. The door opened a crack. Scarlet grabbed the items like a squirrel starved from acorns for a month. The door was shut and Page was left staring at it in dismay.
"No! This isn't the ticking your looking for." Scarlet said in a tone that weirded Page out even more.
"Give me a hint or I'm not going to play anymore." Page said, crossing her arms.
The door cracked open. "Cantaloupe." Scarlet breathed, and slammed the door. It opened again immediately. "Three minutes."
Page stood there for a moment, trying to process what had just happened. Honestly, she should have guessed. She was playing a game with a deranged psychic with the mentality of a child, an evil genius, and possibly a raccoon. It wasn’t really Scarlet's fault though. Being able to read minds meant she had at least four brains crammed into her skull. Page wasn’t entirely sure of Scarlet's psychic range ether. For all she knew, Scarlet could be picking up on animal's thoughts, even people's thoughts from miles away. So, Page continued the ticking game.
She stood at the center of the house and slowed her breathing. She was a super human with strength beyond anything normal people could compare to. Her body was superior, though she didn’t know how or why. It wasn't all just muscle though; the rest of her senses were superior too. She repressed those sense though, because who would want to hear everyone's heartbeat and breathing all the time? She felt every nerve ending on her body go into hyperdrive. She didn’t even want to get into the smells other people put off, or the tastes of everything that had been lying around the cabin for a month.
There was definitely ticking; not from a clock or the egg timer, or Scarlet's incessive need to shake the metal balls in the Newton's cradle around. It was smaller, like a wrist watch. It was coming from the Supreme Leader's room. Even though he was technically the most powerful villain there, Page didn’t care. Not even an avalanche could make that man stir when he was asleep.
She walked up to the Supreme Leader's door and slowly creaked it opened. The room was pitch black, minus the light from the hallway spilling in. With it, Page was just barely able to make out the lone silhouette of a bed in the middle of the room, with lump of blankets piled on top. The Supreme Leader was buried somewhere underneath there.
Carefully, she tiptoed inside, noting the ticking getting louder. Squinting, her advanced eyesight kicked into gear as she crouched down to look under the bed. There was something round under there. Stretching her arm, she managed to swat the thing so it rolled out in the open. It was a cantaloupe, covered in clear packaging tape. The ticking was definitely coming from it. Smirking, Page began to unwrap the tape, musing over how Scarlet had come up with such a ridiculous idea. Upon removing a great quantity of tape, Page's blood suddenly turned cold when she saw what lay underneath. It was a mess of tape, wires, a wrist watch, and enough high-grade compact explosives to send their shabby old cabin to France. Scarlet's countdown popped up in her memory. There was thirty seconds left.
Page moved like lightning. Springing from her crouch, she seized the slow-breathing lump of blankets and shot out of the room. She ran with the Supreme Leader's limp form tucked under her arm to Scarlet's door and kicked it down. The broken door splintered from the force. Scarlet, crouched in the furthest corner with her recorder in hand, looked up. Page snatched her by the hood of her red jacket and made a mad dash for the bunker. Throwing Scarlet and the Supreme Leader inside, Page grabbed the busted bunker door, jumped in, and positioned it so that it was covering the opening with her hanging from the door, feet braced on the bunker's ceiling.
Nothing happened at first.
It was quiet.
The explosion shook the entire room. Page could hear things crashing below and above her, but she held on tight. There was also a thumping and bellowing sound that sounded like someone had fallen down the stairs. It was Scarlet.
After a few seconds, it was finally over.
Swinging her legs down, Page slowly peeked out from beneath the door. What she saw made her feel numb inside.
It was gone. It was all gone.