We meet on top of a skyscraper in the heart of Temple City, Mega-Girl and I. It’s not a very convenient meeting place. Sure – it’s fine for Mega-Girl, she can literally fly, as well as dematerializing herself and reassembling anywhere she can imagine. For me, Kid Bungee, it’s a little harder. I normally wouldn’t complain, the opportunity to swing through the city on my wrist-launched super bungees. Getting up that high is a bit of a challenge though, and makes me think I should invest some time developing the next level of bungees. Always be prepared, that’s what Chris, my foster-father… Captain Monogram always taught me. Along with, “don’t forget to laugh – it confuses your enemies.” I haven’t been laughing much recently. Not since Big Hijack cut him in half. He’s in a chest freezer in our garage now. Captain Monogram, I mean, not Big Hijack. Big Hijack’s still out there, still gloating, still free. All of this crowds my mind as I swing and leap from neighbouring tower to tower until I’m in reach of the skyscraper’s summit and whip out a fist, flinging my bungee hook right up to the top. It slingshots me into the air and it’s as if I too can fly. I come up level to the top of the building and step lightly onto the roof. The bungee snaps free and recoils into my wrist gauntlet.
Mega-Girl’s already there, lounging against the glass pyramid that protrudes from the very peak of the skyscraper. As usual she looks like molten glass, glowing and fiery, and stunning.
“Mega-Girl–“ I begin, planning to thank her for coming at such short notice, but she steps forward and envelops me in a hug. Despite looking like fire, she’s only reassuringly warm to the touch, but her glow is so bright I can see her through my hands. Mega-Girl, the most powerful being on the planet, giving me a hug. I don’t know what to say.
“I’m so sorry about Captain Monogram,” she says, “we didn’t always agree, but he was a good man.”
“Yeah – it’s been… Difficult.”
“Have you told Law and Order? Do they know the city is unprotected?”
“Well – I mean, it’s not totally unprotected. There’s still me.”
She looks at me like I’m a beloved pet dragging my nuts over silk bedsheets.
“This is bigger than you Kid Bungee. You’re good, but you’re a side-kick.”
“That’s why I called you,” I mumble, abashed. “I was thinking, maybe I could take his place – be Captain Monogram. At least for a little while, just so Big Hijack can’t go around making things worse.”
“No offence Kid Bungee, but Monogram was about six inches taller than you, with a lifetime of experience.”
I started to get angry – sure, I’m just a sidekick, but I’ve always been there when my city needed me, ready to bungee into action and get the job done. “He was just an insurance broker – that’s what Captain Monogram was – an insurance broker who was really good at martial arts and cosplay. If he could make that into being a hero, so can I.”
Mega-Girl seems a little taken aback, either that I’ve stood up for myself, or because I’ve given away part of Chris’ secret identity. “But he seemed so… I never would have guessed. Dear Chris.”
I’m shocked in turn – how could Mega-Girl possibly know Captain Monogram’s identity? He always told me anonymity was the most important thing. I blurt out “But how?”
Mega-Girl smiles sadly, a little hot glass tear running down her cheek. “Even heroes need someone to be with, sometimes. Chris and I had a thing a long time ago, before he fostered you. I’ll miss him.”
I’m reeling, but this isn’t why I asked Mega-Girl to come here. “I didn’t know,” I say, “I guess we’ve both lost someone important to us. But I didn’t come here to reminisce about old times. I need your help. I want to get justice for Chris and take out Big Hijack forever.”
I stand there, all defiant and strong and heroic while Mega-Girl thinks it over, little hot sparks of glass flaring off her. “Big Hijack’s tough. We’ve gone up against each other a few times over the years, when he’s worked outside Temple City. He doesn’t go down easy.”
“But you’re Mega-Girl, can’t you just incinerate him or something?”
Mega-Girl looks horrified. “That’s not how it works Kid. I don’t have these powers so I can just bend the world to my will, or people for that matter. You want to kill Big Hijack? That’s not something a hero would do.”
“So what would you do?” I ask, feeling the glare of her eyes and her light.
“I wouldn’t. You’re looking for revenge, and that comes with a high price. A price you don’t want to pay. If you go after Big Hijack now, like this… You won’t be a hero anymore. You’ll be no better than him.”
“I can’t just let him go. He killed Captain Monogram, protector of Temple City. Without him, Temple City will fall. There’s only so much I can do with someone like Big Hijack running about.”
“Talk to Law and Order,” Mega-Girl urges, “they’ll know what to do.”
“And what are you going to do?” I demand. “You knew Captain Monogram, you knew Chris – don’t you care enough to do something about his death?”
For a second I think I’ve gone too far, Mega-Girl glows with a white heat and the concrete beneath her feet bubbles.
“Kid – you’re young, you don’t get it. I made a bad choice a long time ago and I’ve lived with it ever since. You ever hear of Giggler?”
Giggler, a legendary villain whose laugh was so damaging, so insidious that it got inside your head and it was all you could hear. Like hypnosis by a clown, awful. He sent the whole of Acespire City mad, and none of them came back. Worst of the worst. Last I heard he was locked away in some black site super-prison in a neutral country. Yeah, I’d heard of Giggler.
“He’s not in a black site super-prison in a neutral country,” Mega-Girl said, “I took him someplace where no one could ever hear his giggles again. In space no one can hear you laugh. I thought it was the right thing to do, to save everyone. And I did, I guess,” her light dimmed as she spoke, “but sometimes, late at night – I can still hear him Kid, I still hear that giggle somewhere in the back of my mind, even though I know he’s lying in the dust of the Moon. It was a mistake, Kid. Don’t make the same mistake I did.”
She shakes her head and her livid glow returns. She gives me a sad look, touches me briefly on the shoulder – and then she’s gone, just a dissipating cloud of sparkling glass. It’s not the help I was looking for, and while I understand her story, it looks like I’m in this alone. She’s right though, Big Hijack is dangerous, and maybe he is more than I can handle. I step back up to the edge of the tower again, fire a bungee straight into the concrete and jump off. As I fall, waiting for the bungee to flex and catch me, my mono-phone rings in my ear: it’s Law. He and Order want to talk.