by John Wiswell
The Terrible installed a conveyor belt exclusively for her. It carried Invulnerabella along, wriggling helplessly toward the metalworks's blazing furnace, her sinewy arms bulging against carbon-titanium cables. Her curse stole her strength whenever she was bound; the material was purely showmanship. His trap would immolate her in the same metalworks that had forged these cables. It was the perfect doom, better than all the other dooms he'd ever concocted for her.
"History will remember me. Not Dr. Ogre. Not Male Gaze. It was The Terrible who conquered you!"
She squirmed, cables grinding against her golden chest plate, her raven hair capturing the firelight. Watching gave him a knot in his duodenum. What was he supposed to do after killing her? He'd felt this dilemma for several dooms now.
"Well?" he chided, trying to get his mind off it. "What do you have to say for yourself?"
Invulnerabella pursed her lips. The metalworks' triple furnaces roared dully, and the Terrible cocked an ear for her final plea.
Instead he heard Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off." Haters hating on loop.
Invulnerabella sat up despite the cables, frowning at the golden bracer on her left wrist. The song was coming from it, with a liquid crystal display.
He gaped. This was impossible. Where did she get the strength to bend carbon-titanium?
"Crap. The Kraken's attacking East Bay again."
She never swore. The Terrible had always thought she didn't know how.
Invulnerabella groaned and laid back on the conveyer belt, still traveling towards the metalworks. She stared up at him. "Mercer, we need to talk."
"Don't call me that," he said, fixing his gimp mask. "I'm The Terrible."
"The citizens need me," she said so sharply that he almost apologized. She was scary as hell when she was mad. Come to think of it, in all the times he'd captured her, she'd never been mad before. "We've talked about putting others' needs before yourself."
This had to be a ploy. He cackled. "You'll have to beg harder than that!"
"We have to have made some progress in two years...."
"I can't hear you!"
Invulnerabella squared her shoulders, thrust her hips up from the conveyor belt, and snapped the carbon-titanium cables like dental floss. One ricocheted at The Terrible, who was lucky the shock made him fall over. Otherwise he would have been beheaded.
She dropped from the conveyor belt, dusting off her biceps. "We keep doing this. At first, I thought you were working through some issues. Then, I hoped after enough schemes failed, you'd have a breakthrough."
"Impossible!" The Terrible hollered, and hit a button on the back of his control-glove. Three more carbon-titanium cables whizzed from behind the metalworks and at the back of Invulnerabella's head. She rolled her eyes and sidestepped, catching all three under her left armpit. With a single yank, she tore them from the machine and left them limp on the floor.
The Terrible remained floored, eyeing the hatch to his basement. He had a secret weapon down there, but was still in shock that she somehow had her powers. "B-but you were bound!"