20 - Grandstanding is an Important Part of Any Villainy


While Haven City played host to a variety of different structures, a trainyard was something the island had little use for. There was no need for the city to transfer freight by train when a boat could accomplish the same task. This left very few areas that were suitable for Dylan's plan. Lucky for him he'd been able to find one early on.

The trainyard in question wasn't exactly what someone would call a trainyard. Technically, one should probably call the area a monorail yard. The flat area held almost the entire fleet of Haven City's discarded monorail system. At least that was what it said on the brochure.

Dylan had decided to take some time and read up on the area while waiting. It turned out that early on Haven City had tried to create an effective public transportation system using monorail services. Unfortunately, it turned out that suspended train stations carrying loads of people made for very easy villainous targets. In the end, the monorail project had been shelved in favor of buses and personal vehicles.

Of course, all the monorail cars had to go somewhere. Selling the machines turned out to be difficult, as other cities faced the same problem, and the company that sold them refused to take the trains back. So Haven City did what any government does when dealing with something they can't fix. They hid it in a corner out of sight and hoped for the problem to go away on its own.

At least that was the case until one of Haven City's richest businessmen bought the yard to use as a museum for his train-loving kid. The nicest monorail machines were taken off their rails and set in large rooms for people to admire. Others became restaurant attractions and even more were taken apart to be used as the interior for the museum. Over the years the billionaire had added a wide number of trains for his kid to admire. Ancient steam trains and modern freight joined the monorails in their display rooms inside the museum.

It was a nice bit of history added to the city, and Dylan commended whoever came up with the idea. It tickled the lore-nerd that sat inside him, but only a little. He wasn't playing this game for a storyline. Plus, from what he knew Vert didn't even have a concrete story set for the game.

Dylan tossed the brochure from the museum into the air and shot it with his laser monocle. Waiting was always so boring. This was never something a player would have to deal with in any normal game. He'd be able to open a menu and wait a few hours for dawn. But that was the price one paid when playing an open storyline in an MMO, sometimes you had to wait.

"He's not going to accept you know," The hero formerly known as Tyler said.

"What? Daddy's princess not important enough?"

"Haha very funny," Tyler deadpanned. "But no, dad doesn't negotiate with villains."

Dr. Zlo turned to his chained captive. "Not even for his dear old daughter? Could any parent truly be so cold?"

Tyler blew a stray hair out of their eyes. "Trust me, you're going to have the entire hero's guild coming at you. So just let me go and we'll call it a day."

Dr. Zlo sighed as he spoke, "you know, you're going about this all wrong."

Stonewall wrinkled their nose in confusion. "What?"

"You're the captive! The damsel! You're supposed to be screaming in terror not negotiating."

Stonewall scoffed. "As if a hero would ever scream in distress."

"Fine, let's see how you like this!" Dr. Zlo commanded a few Jacques to lift the stone man-turned-woman and placed them on a loop of monorail tracks. In front of the hero was the end of a long monorail train. From the look of it, the train would travel along the tracks and loop around the edge of the trainyard before coming back to crash into Stonewall.

"Did you put me on the wrong side?" The hero asked.

"It's called setting narrative tension!"

"You won't get away with this!" Stonewall yelled as the Jacques set them down.

"Oh but I will!" Dr. Zlo cackled, "Who's going to stop me?"

Something impacted into the dirt floor on one end of the trainyard, kicking up a cloud of dust and masking their arrival. At the same time, a man dressed in gold and flying a jetpack touched down on the opposite side. Finally, a sleek black limousine pulled in through a fence. "Talk about perfect timing," Dylan whispered.

The dust cleared to reveal a muscular woman in a hot pink leotard and sweatpants stomping toward Dr. Zlo. Dylan recognized her as the girl he fought back at the mall. The golden man looked to be the spartan character calling themselves Heroic. Dylan didn't know who the last person in the car was, maybe the mayor looking to watch everything go down.

Dr. Zlo stepped back to keep all three groups in his line of sight. He turned the knob on his cane to prepare and threw his arms wide. "Dana Dozer and Heroic eh? Come to stop my villainous plan? Well you're too late! Cass! Activate the machine!"

"You got it boss!" Cass slammed his hand down on the big red button. A blue line of electricity shot across the cords, passing through the monorail and off into the museum. The old monorail's engine ignited with a spark and its wheels turned. The train screeched as the rust and sediment around the wheels broke away in pieces.

"Shut up you troll," Heroic started. "I know you took Stonewall because he's the only one who issues good quests. Why can't you play the game normally and not ruin it for everyone else."

"Ha! Do you think I kidnapped the Mayor's new daughter to hinder the heroes around the city? Preposterous! Why would I worry about those below me?"

"Enough talking!" Dana yelled. "Are we gonna fight or what? I'm ready to beat you up again."

Heroic turned to Dana, "he's mine, stay out of it and get the minions or something."

Dana scoffed, "yeah right like I'm going to fight boring NPCs."

Dextra stepped out of the limousine, Hans at their side. "You're both wrong, I will be the one to end him."

"Who the h*ll are you?" Heroic said.

"My name is not important, just know that that man has destroyed something very dear to me. Which is why he will die by my hand." Dextra pulled out a gun while Hans grabbed two knives from his jacket.

Dana rolled her eyes. "Ugh, are you another roleplayer?"

While the players talked, the monorail began its dark journey. The blue line of electricity continued on and slipped under the doors of the museum towards the displays of older trains. The arc of lightning split along four cords and shot into the old display trains. The four engines slid along the floor, upending the ropes separating the various cars. With a crash, the engines collided together and started to transform.

The monorail and modern trains split in two and transformed into arms and legs, connecting themselves to the steam engine. The steam engine stretched up and outwards to become the front of the torso, its metal grille wrapping around to form a skirt. The freight engine bent into an L shape and set itself atop the body, becoming the head and back. A piece of each train broke off and spun around the head once. The monorail and modern train's front windows became eyes, the steam engine's chimney became the nose, and the freight train's front grille twisted into a flat mouth.

At the end of the mech's transformation, the machine stood up to its full height. The mech's head collided with the short roof of the museum and burst through. Wood and shingles rained down over the entire group as the mech stepped through the museum. The mech stepped over the wall of the museum and lumbered forwards to stand behind Dr. Zlo. Dr. Zlo's Jacques emerged from areas inside the monorail, canes held at the ready. Mabel directed her vested minions to stand in front of her. Cass hid behind the console.

"Thank you for letting me get everything all set up," Dr. Zlo said. "Unfortunate for you I don't extend the same courtesy. Now witness the power of this fully operational mega-mech!"

The train mech stepped forwards and kicked out at Heroic. The golden hero took the blow and bounced back into an unused train car, buckling the metal. The hero rebounded off the dented car like a rubber ball and shot back towards the mech. Heroic landed just in front of the mech and changed course by stomping down. Now the hero flew straight at Dr. Zlo.

The villain activated their rocket boots to dodge and careened to the side. Dana stood nearby. "My turn!" She took a swipe at Dr. Zlo. He responded by firing his laser monocle. Dana's swing was thrown off course by the blow which gave the evil doctor time to recover. Or that would be the case if Dextra didn't bring out a laser pistol to shoot him.

The villainess' minion Hans followed up with a quick knife throw. Dr. Zlo stepped into Dana's shadow to avoid the two strikes, leaving him in danger once again. "Mabel! Deal with the woman in black would you? Jacques attack the poindexter and mech keep the spartan busy!"

Dr. Zlo's minions rushed forwards to obey his commands. Mabel advanced with her minions. "Oh Jacobs dear, would you please go kill that plain woman for me? She's being awfully rude. And that tall drink of water over there? Could you throw away your knives?"

Mabel's minions, the Jacobs, rushed forward in a line at the woman. Dextra trained their laser pistol on the charging minions and fired three quick shots. The first shot hit a Jacobs directly in the head, melting it to slag. The other two shots connected with the minions to the left and right, taking out arms both times. The rest of the minions made it into melee range, preventing Dextra from firing.

The Jacobs were much more adept at fighting than the normal Jacques. The surviving minions made sure to make coordinated strikes against Dextra. But the villainess had more tricks up her sleeve. One of the Jacobs' canes connected with the player's black dress and an arc of electricity appeared to electrocute the minion. Seeing this, the Jacobs changed tactics and aimed at Dextra's arms and head.

In the meantime, Hans had somehow ignored Mabel's command and was tearing through Jacques three at a time. The hapless minions would charge with clubs swinging downward only to have Hans step aside and slash the running minions to pieces. It was only the sheer number of enemies the bodyguard had to face that kept him from running to Dextra's side.

Heroic wasn't faring much better against the mech. His constantly adapting power kept giving him durability or agility powers to keep him alive. This led to a stalemate against the giant machine. The mech would stomp down on Heroic, the man would dodge or take the blow, and then he would try for a new power only to reach the same conclusion. After around five rounds of this, the mech realized it could do no damage. It switched tactics to try and grab the annoying hero.

Dr. Zlo dodged another punch from Dana and found an opening to fire his cane. White foam enveloped the heroine, sticking her to the ground. Dana struggled to free herself from the substance. Her muscles bulged as she strained against the elastic foam. The foam stretched taut, barely holding up against the heroine's super strength.

"Oh come on fight fair!" Dana shouted.

Dr. Zlo ignored her, instead choosing to scan the battlefield. Hans was still chewing through Jacques, though there were still around twenty more for him to finish. Dextra was holding her own against Mabel and her minions but looked to be slowly losing to the coordinated strikes. Heroic looked to be the most trouble, dodging his mech's awkward attempts to reach down and grab him.

That settled it, Heroic would be the first victim. Dr. Zlo pulled out his gender-bender gun and pointed it at the man. He waited patiently for a good shot, ignoring Dana's increasingly loud attempts to get his attention.

"Stop ignoring me and fight!"

Finally seeing a good opportunity, Dr. Zlo took the shot. A beam of purple light lit up the battlefield. The villain watched as the beam flew straight at the golden hero and hit him in the foot. "What the he--"

Heroic seemed to choke on his words for a second. His muscular body thinned down, along with his arms and legs. The man's square stomach sucked inward, turning his stocky body into a svelte hourglass. His blond hair grew to a wave of shoulder-length curly locks. The golden breastplate changed as well, changing to emphasize the player's chest and removing the six-pack of abs on the design. "ell?" Heroic finished, their voice high pitched and soft like silk.


A note from tetran

Fight scenes are hard. I hope everything is clear and understandable!

Let me know if you see any typos!

About the author


Bio: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. - Arthur C. Clarke.

Any sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from technology. - Terry Pratchett. Or Larry Niven, depending on who you ask.

All power corrupts. But we need electricity. - Diana Wynne Jones.

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