The cavernous warehouse was silent, only the sound of ancient metal creaking filled the air. An elderly man, who had aged remarkably well and had become quite the silver fox, sat in a dilapidated chair in front of a large metal circle that was suspended in mid-air. It had dozens of python thick power cables plugged into it, all stemming from various highly-technical computer stations. It was clear that none of the electronic equipment in the warehouse had been activated in quite some years.

The elderly man was named Eric Ross and he was roused from his daydreams by the sound of the warehouse door sliding open and then sliding shut again. He listened and heard the click-clack sound of high heels crossing the tarnished metal floor. A female voice filled the room, echoing slightly.

“Hello Eric, I thought I’d find you here.” Said the voice, “you are okay with me using your first name, right? Or would you rather me call you Captain Jupiter?”

“Eric is fine by me,” Eric said, turning to see the similarly aged woman sit down in another of the dilapidated chairs. “Is it permissible for me to call you Clara or would you prefer me to call you Stardust?” Clara Fay laughed.

“In the good old days you just called me bitch.”

“Is that what you want me to call you now?”

“Try it.”

“I’ve already got one slipped disc, I don’t need you to give me another.”

“Then please call me Clara.”

“Very well.” Eric said, but once he had given his response he and the entire room fell back into the clutches of silence. Only the sound of creaking metal remained. Eric glanced over at Clara, she looked good, she held herself with poise – very precise.  When they had fought against each other they had both been in their early twenties and she would fly this way and that, giving the impression that she had no idea what she was doing, but she always knew what she was doing. That was why she always won.

“So, what is this thing Eric?” She asked, gesturing to the metal circle.

“It’s one of my more ambitious projects that I never got chance to use.” He said softly, disappointment evident in his voice. Clara looked over at him and seeing the age lines on his face, she felt herself feeling sorry for him. He was very much in his final stages of life, not much left now and with a sinking feeling Clara knew the same was true for her. She knew that if she caught herself in a reflective surface, her face would be a roadmap of lines and weather. She moved her wheeled chair closer to him and lay a hand on his shoulder.

“C’mon Eric, you were champion of the villainous monologue once upon a time. Give me the spiel about what that thing does.”

“It wasn’t a villain thing.”

“It wasn’t?”

“No, death rays and sonic cannons – those were my villain things.”

“Eric, with the benefit of hindsight do you maybe think those devices…”

“They were so shit, I know.”

“I’m glad you realised, I really didn’t want to be the one to break it to you.” Clara said with a playful smile. Eric laughed, a loud laugh – a remnant of his younger self – although this laugh was more jovial than his old villainous cackle. “So, what was this thing for?”

“It was an escape.”

“An escape? From what?” Clara asked, shocked. Eric shot her a sardonic look and she scoffed. “Me? Really?”

“I was tired of being a villain.”

“You wanted to be a hero instead?”

“No! I wanted to be Eric Ross. A family man with a nice house, a nice car, a husband and a child with a slightly above average IQ. And I wanted to have all that without living in fear that some guy in a cape and insanely tight pants would throw a meteor at my house!”

“That’s what we all want really. I think.” Clara said uncertainly. Eric looked up at her and smiled.

“I never found out where it would take me”

“Seriously?”

“Not a clue, I could have gone through and fallen into a pit of lava, toppled over the edge of a waterfall or been eaten by a T-Rex.”

“Sounds exciting and so dangerous.”

“Doesn’t it just.”

“Fire it up.”

“What?”

“You heard me Captain, fire it up.” Clara said commandingly. She stood up and started pressing random buttons on the various inactive control stations. Eric leapt to his feet.

“For goodness sake, the power isn’t even switched on.” Eric huffed and he flicked a few switches and all the computer panels began to whirr and hum. Lights flickered on and the warehouse was bathed in light. He pressed some more buttons and flicked some more switches and the lights on the metal disc glowed purple and the machine began to wobble and make a noise like someone revving a motorcycle engine. In the centre of the circle was a single purple spark. Then another one…

And another.

And another.

And another.

And ano….

FSHWRZZZT!!!

A glowing and swirling purple vortex opened up, expanding until it filled the entirety of the metal circle. Inside the warehouse there was suddenly a momentous and continuous swirling a screeching howling wind that whipped up loose pieces of paper and sent Clara’s long hair whooshing any which way.

“You’ve never been through?” she asked, shouting to make her voice heard over the winds.

“Never!” he yelled back. Clara reached out and grabbed his hand tightly in hers. He looked up at her and for once she saw fear in the old supervillain’s eyes. “If we go through we could die horribly!”

“I agree,” Clara shouted back, “it’ll be such an adventure!”

“Stardust.” Eric said with a nod.

“Captain Jupiter.” Clara responded with a nod.

Together, villain and hero clasped each other’s hands, united at last leapt into the unknown and vanished.

FIN.

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