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Chapter 1: You Either Die a Villain, or…

I stumbled out of the smoke, hacking and coughing as my lungs tried to eject themselves by way of my throat.

“God.” I half doubled over, eyes stinking. “damn it…” I waved a hand frantically through the air, before giving it up as a bad job and collapsing to the sand—sand?!—beneath me.

“Well.” My voice was raspy from the smoke. “I wasn’t supposed to wind up here...”

I scooped up a handful of sand, the white grains standing out starkly against the smooth black leather of my glove. Last I’d checked, I was supposed to land in Antarctica.

Albeit that was before my escape portal had exploded in my face like a million party poppers.

Just another occupational hazard of being Tetria’s most famous, and attractive, supervillainess.

But as I pushed myself up, I couldn’t keep the small mou of disappointment from crossing my face. Even though I seemed to have escaped, I’d failed, and my DoomTron5000 had exploded along with the portal.

Ah, those would be bits and pieces of my life’s work, sticking out of the sand. I blinked slowly at the sight of millions upon millions of dollars in rare alloys, precision circuitry, and years of my life smoldering on a beachfront in the middle of nowhere. All because of—

“Empress! Stop hiding already!”

I sighed.

Electra.

“I don’t know what you did,” the hero called. “But it won’t be enough to escape this time!”

I cast my eyes towards the sky. God, if you ever did exist, strike me down right this instant.

Unfortunately, I remained unsmote.

Checkmate, atheists.

Wait.

With another sigh, I pushed the stupid thought away and pushed myself off the ground. A gust off the sea blew away the lingering smoke. “Behind you.”

Electra spun, sparks of blue white lightning racing up through her spiked blonde hair. “Empress.”

My name dripped like a curse from her tongue.

I allowed myself a small smirk. “Try actually looking around next time.”

The hero clenched her fists. “You won’t get away this time.”

“You said that already.” I cocked my head. “Did the lightning fry your brain too?”

She smirked, air ionizing around her in a series of short pops. “I’d be happy to fry yours.”

Just as arrogant as every hero.

“There’s just one problem with that.” I pointed down.

Electra glanced to the sand before. “Wha—shit!”

She leapt to the side, dodging a small wave as it lapped against the sand.

I laughed. “You really should keep a better lid on your weaknesses, Electra!”

The hero danced back from the surf, lightning sparking at her fingertips. “How’d you even find out about that?”

I began to walk to the side, idly twirling a lock of black hair around my finger. “Well, I may have paid a visit to your organization’s super secret servers.” I smirked at her. “I also made sure to update your fanpage, by the way.”

“You ass!” She threw out her arm, releasing an explosive blast of electricity. I danced back, laughing again as it grounded on a jagged hunk of metal.

That would be the DoomTron 5000’s codpiece, if I remembered correctly. What a shame.

“Careful! you wouldn’t want to hurt someone.”

I continued to circle, even as I dodged the following blasts of electricity. With a few steps, I’d put Electra between me and the ocean.

“I’ll show you exactly how much I want to hurt you.” The hero flexed her hands, sinking down into a sprinter’s crouch.

“How much power do you have left, by the way?” I asked. She paused. “I know my robot had a lot, before you ate it like a glutton.”

She glared at me, hands sinking into the sand. Arcs of electricity dancing around her form, lighting up the blue fabric of her costume. She didn’t expend the ones that grounded back into her body. Instead, she just preserved the charge like some kind of perpetual motion engine.

Gee, I wish I had an ability that broke physics over its knee. Do you know the things I could have done with a room temperature superconductor?

Even one that came in such an awkward shape.

“Well?” I spread my arms. “Come on then! Weren’t you going to show me what for?”

She frowned “You’re baiting me.”

I smirked. “Is it working?”

Electra stood, moving to the right as I tracked my way down the beach. I felt my smile grow wider. “You want me to bet it all, don’t you?” Her lips quirked into a smirk of her own. “You think you can get me to blow my load like a virgin at a sorority.”

“You’d know all about sororities, wouldn’t you?”

“About as much as you know about virgins, yeah!” She snapped her fingers up into a gun.

My eyes widened. I threw myself to the side as a lance of lightning pierced the air. The boom beat against my ears. I sprawled across the sand, ducking behind another scrap of metal just in time to dodge the second shot.

“You’re not the only one who can be smart.”

I grunted. A hit like that wouldn’t kill me though my armor, but it would knock my lights out for sure. And here I wanted a nice civil battle where she wore herself out doing no appreciable damage.

“You’re more of a smart ass in my book.” I rolled to my feet. Electra’s gun snapped to me.

I threw the piece of scrap metal I’d scooped up. The electricity arced to and grounded itself against the sand.

I charged.

Electra’s eyes widened in surprise. I smirked

Us ‘smart’ villains were supposed to keep our distance, after all.

I grabbed a large metal rod as I sprinted, throwing it like a javelin. My form was crap, but sometimes the destination mattered more than the journey.

No matter what your useless high school guidance counselor told you every day for four years.

Electra’s next bolt of lightning was stronger, enough to send spots dancing through my eyes. It hit my impromptu javelin. I jumped.

The arcing bolt curved in the air.

But not to me.

Oh it was closer this time, Electra wasn’t as dumb as I’d thought, but even she couldn’t make an ionization channel so impervious that it could go through a conductor without grounding itself and also curve up towards me in nonconductive armor.

Instead it hit the sand with a boom, kicking up a spray of water and dirt that popped as it smacked against Electra’s armor.

Unfortunately, this also meant I was airborne, suspended above the hero whose arm was already tracking up towards me. Sparks raced towards her fingers as she geared up for another shot.

I kicked.

It wasn’t a very good kick, to be honest. I was always more of a stay at home and study type of girl, instead of going out for sports or martial arts. But that just meant I folded people into pretzels with my mind instead of my fists.

And Electra, if you could pardon the phrase, fell right into my trap.

She stepped back into the surf.

In a heartbeat, a massive jolt of her charge drained out of her, grounding into the absolutely magnificent conductor of the ocean.

“Fuck!” Electra leaned forward, hopping out of the water.

And then I hit her like a shit ton of bricks.

I might not have been the heaviest thing in the world, at five foot nothing sans heels, but my armor was a different story.

We crashed into the waves, and my hands clamped down on her wrists as Electra lit up like a Times Square Christmas Tree. The lightning surged into the water in a massive blast, forcing me to close my eyes against the steam.

Of course, in my insulated suit, the most I got was a slight tingling sensation as every hair on my body stood up.

And then it was over.

Electra glared up at me, water lightly lapping at her blonde hair, messing her PR perfect updo. I patted her once on the cheek, just to drive it home. Then I stood. “Well… that’s my cardio for the day.” I waved at the hero as I walked a few steps away, coming to sit on yet another piece of my DoomTron 5000.

Poor DoomTron. You will be missed.

After a second, Electra sat up as well.

Utterly drained of her charge, her electric blue costume no longer sparked with electricity. She was still taller than me of course, but that didn’t change the fact that she was at a pretty big disadvantage now against me in my suit. She’d seen the wrist mounted laser already.

So instead Electra just stared at me for a second. “That’s it?”

I raised an eyebrow. “What’s it?”

“You’re just letting me go?”

I laughed “Go where?” I waved towards the ocean.

She pushed herself to her feet, blinking at me warily. Really, what did she expect me to do? Kill her?

How droll.

“I could call for reinforcements, you know.” Electra still stared at me. “Or I could just take you out anyway. Did you forget that part?”

I rolled my eyes. “Well if you want, we can go back to you lying face up  in the ocean, and I can do my best to drown you.”

A complicated expression flickered over her face. “I’ll pass. Thanks for offering.”

“You sure?” I smirked. “I wouldn’t mind paying you back for what you did to DoomTron.” I said.

That’s what you decided to call it?”

I frowned. “Better than Electra. Or was it just a Freudian slip?”

She blinked. “What’s that got to do with my name?”

“You tell me, Mrs. Anti-Oedipus complex.”

She just stared at me for a second. “I’m… going to call for a pickup.”

I placed my head in my hands. “I was defeated by an imbecile.” Still, nothing for it. I stood, casting my gaze over the destroyed wreckage of my last robot. There wasn’t much left that wasn’t overloaded, shattered, or overloaded and shattered.

But there should be enough left for a death ray, at least, right?

I nudged a circuit board with my toe. It cracked in half.

I sighed. I needed to not be here when the heroes showed—

“I’m not getting a signal!”

I glanced up at Electra. She had her communicator out, a circular device sized to fit comfortably in her palm, but the holo-interface showed only static. I blinked. Those things were supposed to connect automatically.

Electra rounded on me. “It’s supposed to connect automatically!”

No, really?

I coughed. “Why are you looking at me?”

“What did you do to my comm?”

I blinked again, tilting my head. “What makes you think it was my fault? Last I checked there was only one person here who could fry electronics on command and her name started with not fucking me.”

“My comm is hardened against my power!” She said. “And it’ll work anywhere on Earth. Your teleporter must have broken it.”

I pointed. “But the interface is still working.”

She paused, looking back towards her com. I could almost see the steam coming out of her ears. “But… if it’s not broken, and it’s not getting a signal…”

The realization hit me a second after she spoke. “And we went through a collapsing wormhole…”

Electra swallowed, looking at me. “Where was it set to take us?”

“Not here.” I waved a hand. “I had a nice hidden facility all set up.” In Antarctica, not that I needed to tell her that. “And before you ask, no, there was nothing that would stop your stupid hero comms from working.”

I’d been trying to get my hand on one of Dr. Impossible’s devices for years to figure out how they worked. So far, this was the closest I’d ever been to one.

“So that means…”

I thought about it for a second, trying to come up with another solution that matched the data. Unfortunately, as a great detective once said, after you’ve exhausted every other possibility, whatever remained must be the truth.

“We’re on another world.”

Electra jumped slightly. “You mean like an Isekai?”

“What the fuck is an e-sky?”

She opened her mouth, but then a wave hit my knees, causing me to stumble. I blinked, eyes going to the water which was much higher than I remember a few moments ago.

“Crap! The tide’s coming in!”

I all but threw myself to the ground, sweeping up whatever I could get my hands on that didn’t look entirely busted. Electra, of course, just stood there like a tree stump, staring out towards the ocean.

“Stop thinking about Ise-whatever’s and help me!” I shouted. “We’re gonna need this stuff if we’re ever going to get back to our own world, you idiot!”

“Um.” Electra raised a hand. “Not to burst your bubble, Empress, but… I think we have… bigger fish to fry...”

My eyes followed her finger, coming to rest on a…

A…

“Oh,” I said.

Electra took a step back. “Yeah.”

Peeking out of the waves about a dozen yards away was a grotesque, bloated, misshapen, blood-red tentacle. Well, you could call it a tentacle. Except for the part where all of the suckers were actually eyes.

And the eyes were looking at us.

As Electra and I stared, a second tentacle rose out of the water, and then a third, and a fourth and a fifth and—

You know, some small dark corner of my mind added, the human brain doesn’t really conceptualize any number bigger than five.

Because anything more than that was way too fucking many.

It was okay, though, it was out there in the water, and we were here on the…

The thing heaved itself up on its misshapen tentacles taking a step forward onto the—

…land.

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