July 1, 2020
"Citizens of Socotra! A NEW AGE HAS DAWNED!" Nina al-Darsah stood on what had been the balcony of her father's palace, intimately aware that cameras across the world and beyond were focused on her every move, every word, every glance - just as she'd always wanted. "I stand before you bare-faced, the better to prove that my long exile has ended! Your princess has returned - AS YOUR QUEEN!" There were those in the city below, and in their palace behind her if she was honest, that might not be terribly happy about this - but those in the courtyard below screamed their loyalty and for the moment that was all that really mattered. "YES! Your calls are answered and your faith is rewarded - once again a TYPHOON will protect Socotra from all her enemies!" She stepped off the balcony and onto the swirling columns of water below her. With a gesture, the water-lined mask of her armor rose and slid over her features, a glittering gold lifemask that was one of her husband's proudest works.
"Some of you are afraid of what this means. Good! I will bring destruction to the enemies of our people with the might of the storm! I will strike down gods and champions who seek to take from us all that is ours! All that we have built! FOR THIS IS WHAT IT MEANS TO BE TYPHOON! For our families! For our children! For ALL OUR PEOPLE!" On ground level, she waved a hand to pull those who had bowed to their feet. "No! We stand together, united! For I AM TYPHOON - AND WE ARE SOCOTRA!"
"Okay," said Ashley, sitting on Judy's bed some time later as she tried to explain why her father had abruptly paused his campaign to spend a long week in Washington. "The big problem is precedent. Nina al-Darsah is now the legally recognized government of Socotra, right?" Judy nodded, sitting up in bed with her legs drawn up to her chest. "And it was all legal and everything, so there's nothing anyone can do to openly intervene. But think about what it means. Right now, at the end of the day, she is a head of state because her superpowers were stronger than her father's superpowers."
"But the first Typhoon, he was really bad," said Judy, confused. "Ah mean, we read about him in class, and Ah saw that file you showed me from AEGIS." All unclassified, given that being the First Daughter didn't actually give you a security clearance, but even an unclassified file had a long, long list when it came to Amir al-Darsah. "Why does it matter how she, uh, got rid of him, especially since she's so friendly with superheroes?"
"You measure systems based on how they treat the bad guys, not the good guys," said Ashley with a little wave. "If it's okay for Nina al-Darsah to overthrow a king because we don't like him, what happens if the Red Hyena overthrows the White Lion? We can't treat it differently because we like the White Lion and we didn't like Typhoon." She blinked, then went on, "What if Gaian Knight flew into the White House and declared he was the President now? What would we want the rest of the world to do about that?"
"Well, Ah mean, that doesn't sound very likely," said Judy doubtfully, "he's so nice! And even if it did happen, the Freedom League would stop him."
"Like they stopped Nina al-Darsah?" She spread her hands. "And don't forget, she didn't do it herself. One of the most powerful men on Earth decided he didn't like who was running a country, so he went ahead and changed that. What kind of precedent does _that_ set?" She could see Judy looking worried, so she added quickly, "I don't think this is going to change anything for you, or me, or our situation...but this is something a lot of world governments have been worrying about for a long time. Maybe none of them are going to miss al-Darsah, but they don't want to go down like he did either." She smiled thinly. "Luckily the US government has been worrying about that for a while, so they have some contingency plans in place..."
The official portrait of the new Queen of Socotra depicted her in full armor, sitting in her study with a map of the world behind her, a relief sculpture of the islands of Socotra before her. Her husband did it in oil on canvas because he was feeling traditional, and in his opinion it was about his best work. When he showed it to her, she smiled and kissed him and agreed that it was. They were in private for a while; Richie with his new attendants (he couldn't just stay at Trevor and Erin's forever), Mark's new office empty for a little while, his mother's quarters freshly occupied.
"I love you."
"I love you, too." Mark grinned. "So, our children, huh?" He was in a white shirt and jeans, the better to avoid any paint smears, though those always just made him look better in Nina's opinion, as now when blue and white paint was on his fingers and cheek where he'd absently-minded scratched.
She grinned back, rising to her feet. "I thought you'd like that part. But don't get any ideas for a while, and I mean it about those ideas, Mark," she added firmly. "We have work to do here. And everywhere." A part of that work showed up when, at just the right moment, Amir Richard Lucas al-Darsah ran into the room from straight through the wall wearing a bright gold crown on his dark head.
"Mama! Mama! I ran through the wall! Nothing can stop me now!
"Yes, you certainly did!" said Nina, pulling him up onto her lap and beaming. "And I bet that won't be the last time! Nothing will hold you back, my son." Mark was discreetly calling the nursery to let them know that they could stop panicking. As he sat in his chair and watched his wife play with their son (who had just produced a big chocolate bar for both of them), he took a moment to be grateful that his future had worked out exactly the way he'd always wanted.
"So I'll still be there when you need me, I mean, ha-ha, I can just walk from my room to your room if I need to!" said Mark cheerfully over the videophone, "but I wouldn't do that, obviously, sorry about that again." He twisted his blond ponytail and added, "But...I mean, I've got to stick close with Nina and Richie for a while, especially now that we're trying to make things work here. Constitutional monarchy and not-evil is going to be a tough pill to swallow for some people around here - but we'll get it done. It just needs time."
Somewhere in absolute darkness and silence, a black flame burns, and a voice that cannot be heard speaks before its god.
"So is this it? Happiness and marital fulfillment forever? What then is our wrath, great one?"
"Fear not, 'small one'. The Omnicide continues as it should, now and forever - and of 'those' you mention?" A hand waves. "Some are 'mortal' and will meet 'us' when their bones crumble to ruin. Others are 'immortal' and will meet 'us' when their universe burns at the end of time. In the absolute night of the Terminus, we know that all suns set in time - and all 'stories' end in tragedy."
"It is as you say. Thank you for your knowledge, great one. Your thoughts cleanse me of my sin."
"Yes. Let my words burn away your doubts - my 'child'."