User:Cubist/Nobody's Coming

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Nobody's Coming

Author: Quentin "Cubist" Long

Seriously, it&#146;s not as bad as you&#146;ve heard. Sure, those origins are ludicrously conspicuous events, but they just aren&#146;t as common as you&#146;d believe from reading the headlines. Honestly, the chance of getting hit by an origin isn&#146;t much higher than that of getting struck by lightning!

Which doesn&#146;t really help when you&#146;re the one who gets hit, of course&#133;

I could have moved, but why? I liked California&#146;s climate, okay? And I liked the San Francisco Bay Area. Cost of living&#146;s a bit high, sure&#151;but pay is too, so it all comes out in the wash. Anyway, yes I had an origin, and no bloody thanks to the goddamn Seismaster.

I was driving north on Highway 280 when that geophysical miscreant fired his Stratagitator Ray directly into the San Andreas Fault, which just happens to run more-or-less parallel to 280. Unfortunately, Seismaster happened to be in SLAC, the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, at the time&#151;and yes, I do think it&#146;s amusing that SLAC (spelled &#145;the straightest two-mile-long object on Earth&#146;) intersects the most notorious earthquake fault known&#151;

Way ahead of me, I see. Yes, the quake triggered by Seismaster&#146;s S-Ray interfered with an experiment; yes, SLAC also intersects Highway 280; yes, I was directly above the beamline at just the wrong moment; yes, the massive energy field interacted weirdly with my car&#146;s electrical system, detonating the fuel tank and turning my Ford Escort into a ball of plasma; yes, my human body was instantly incinerated. Nothing left, and I do mean &#147;no thing&#148;&#133;

Waking up wasn&#146;t a surprise.

Maybe it should have been, but it went by so fast&#151;by the time I would have had a chance to register the pain and so on, it was long since over! I didn&#146;t even know that my body had been reduced to free-floating atoms, not until later anyway. As far as I was concerned, one instant I was driving; the next instant, I was a disembodied viewpoint floating over the puddle of slowly-cooling slag that used to be my car&#133;

Hold on a second.

It had been my car. I knew this. But all I had to work with was an unrecognizable pool of congealing metal, so how did I know?

Stupid question. I&#146;d just had an origin, so that mysterious knowledge was obviously a manifestation of one of my powers. Just wonderful. I really hadn&#146;t wanted to be a supertype, because while the powers and abilities are kind of neat, the price tag is just too high. See, all supertypes&#151;all of them&#151;exhibit unusual behavior patterns. They don&#146;t react as a sane, rational human being would; instead, their responses fit into one of a relatively small number of profiles (&#145;archetypes&#146;, as they&#146;re called) which govern various aspects of their behavior in various situations. And that&#146;s the problem: When you get superpowers, you give up some of your free will.

But then again, if you&#146;ve got a world groveling at your feet, who cares about free&#133; will&#133;

Oh, hell. It&#146;s already started; I&#146;m already getting pulled towards one or another of the available archetypes. This one&#146;s probably the Mad Conqueror, the archetype best suited for wisely ruling over&#133; the undeserving&#133; no!

I&#146;m not going to go there, damnit! I&#146;d sooner see the entire world&#133; burning&#133; rivers of blood&#133;

Oh, joyous and peachy. No, not Pure Evil, either. Got that? Maybe I have to spend the rest of my life as a supertype, but I&#146;m not going to waste all my time trashing everything in sight! If it came to that, I&#146;d much prefer to focus on constructive pastimes. Like a gleaming 400-story skyscraper studded with clean, efficient monorail&#133; no, not the Cosmic Architect, either!

I glared up into the sky&#151;a neat trick when you&#146;re disembodied, but that&#146;s what it felt like, okay?&#151;and waited for Whoever to quit playing games with my head. I already knew which archetype I wanted to run with, thanks very much for asking, and it sure wasn&#146;t the Thrillseeker, or the Spandexed Boy Scout, or any flavor of Anti-Hero, or the Misguided Idealist&#133;

Get it over with!

Like I said, I knew which archetype I preferred: The Harbinger. That archetype&#146;s reason for existence was to gather heroic supertypes whenever dire cosmic hazards threatened the Earth. As such, a Harbinger wielded vast power (always a plus), spent almost all its time out of the spotlight (unlike, say, the Boy Scout), and best of all, had the distinct pleasure of telling those annoyingly smug hero-types &#147;I told you so&#148; on a regular basis.

Yeah. Harbinger&#133; drat. Looked like there actually was a cosmic hazard in the offing! Just my luck to get into the &#145;super biz&#146; at a bad moment&#133; oh, well. Not for a while yet, however, so I had time to explore my new powers, get accustomed to my new life, and generally prep myself for whatever the future held for me.

So: The powers. If I can &#145;read&#146; molecular structures (which I obviously could, that being how I recognized my car in its current form), it&#146;s a good bet I can manipulate them, too. Okay, let&#146;s see about restoring my car to its pre-&#145;zap&#146; condition. Just a matter of visualizing the desired end result, and&#151;whoa! Not only did it work, but I was the car! I see; I have to &#145;inhabit&#146; a physical object if I want to shuffle its molecules around. And&#133; well, well, well. The object&#146;s molecules stay the way I put them, even after I &#145;abandon&#146; it! Sweet! Okay, I got back on board and yes, I could animate the car.

I twiddled the radio from the inside, and music by the Talking Heads filled the air as I drove myself on down the highway.

&#147;We&#146;re on the road to nowhere
&#147;Come on inside&#133;&#148;