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Stocks and Bonds (IC)


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Things had been more than a little rough for Blackstone's newest resident. He had recieved quite his fair share of death threats when he first got in. Putting some of the residents in a hospital bed for no other reason than to cause them bodily harm was a sure-fire way to breed ill-will. Probably for his own protection, Eric found himself on one of the highest levels at Blackstone with other gadgetteers and suit wearers.

Then there was the fact that he had to learn how to do everything with one hand. Cutting his food in particular was a real pain to master, but Eric refused to let anyone else do it for him. And that was the name he wanted people to use, Eric. He reminded people that for all of the crazy spin the media had put on him, at the end of the day, he was just a guy. A person. Just some dude with a grudge. He wanted people to realize that the common man was something to fear and respect. But all he managed to do was convince most people that he was thoroughly round the bend.

But some of the other "normal" villain types warmed up to Eric, if for no other reason than to tag along whenever he tried to blow Blackstone sky high. Which everyone believed was quite a possibility, as Eric discovered much to his dismay. He liked keeping up with all the scientific papers that got published, but he had a hell of a time getting his hands on even the ones he wrote himself. He took to talking shop with the gear heads during the mild bit of "recess" they got every day. But mostly Eric spent his days drawing and writing furiously. Books were a pain to get, paper was pretty easy. When he first got in, he could barely hold the pencil in his hand, but as the weeks went on, he had gotten much better. He did notice that his letters were a bit more rounded now then when he used to write. But on this day, Eric's writing session would be interrupted by a visitor. Who'd come all the way out here to see me? And why wait to now? If it's another report I swear to god-

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Eric had been lead to a small meeting room for this visitor, though while escorted the guard was silent on who it was.

The room had a table and two chairs, and a large mirror -- more likely than not a one-way mirror with a camera or other monitor on the other side -- along one wall. The chair before him was empty. The opposite chair held a Doktor.

"Hello, Eric," he said, simply and plainly. "I trust your injury is not causing you too much pain."

It was Doktor Archeville.

Now we have the upper hand!

Oh, geez...

It's a good thing he's not fully armed!

Do you have many more of those?

No, which is a shame, since I know he can't lend me a hand!


Okay, I think I'm done. No, one more! Eric Micheals is so dumb... he has to take off his shoes to count to fifteen!

That... that's really stretching it.

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Eric's mood immediately brightens when he sees the good Doc. "Oh Doctor Archeville! This is quite a pleasant surprise." says Eric as he practically bounds into the room and plops down in the chair opposite Archeville.

"I trust your injury is not causing you too much pain."

Unconsciously Eric's flicker to his stump of an arm, and his eyes momentarily harden. "No not much pain. The chemical bath that corroded it also had properties not unlike those of pain killers. It deadened all the nerves so while I don't feel pain, I occasionally think there should still be something there... But enough of this depressing chatter, they have shrinks for that. How have you been?"

It was a little odd the way Eric presented himself here. It reminded Doctor Archeville so very much of their meeting at Darts. It was as if even after the whole world knew he was a villain, Eric was still the same person he had always been. Whether that was good news or bad was a trickier issue.

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He- wait... what?!

Not exactly the reaction I was expecting, either.

Perhaps... perhaps it's part of some-

Don't say it!

underhanded scheme!


"Fascinating!" he replied, "do you know if any samples of de liquids vere salvaged? De potential applications for such a compound are-"

He stopped himself before he got too far down that line of thought.

"I haff been... qvite busy, actually, due in part to the events vhich lead you to be here." He rested his elbows on the table and steepled his fingers, "dough not busy in a vay I vould vish. Both Darts und meinself haff been through de ringer, qvestioned as to how much of Darts resources -- und mein consultations -- vere used in your... extralegal activities. It has been qvite disruptive, in terms of time und finances; several backers haff vithdrawn from both Darts und from mein own personal projekts in light of the revelation of vhat you haff been doing in your off-hours."

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"Fascinating!" he replied, "do you know if any samples of de liquids vere salvaged? De potential applications for such a compound are-"

"Your sympathy for your common man has never ceased to amaze me Doctor." remarked Eric in a deadpan voice, but he still did have a smile on his face, for what it's worth.

"I'm sorry for the trouble it has caused you Doctor, it truly was not my intention. I had kept a comprehenisive file on all of my... "special projects" as it were, so that in the inevitable instance where I was discovered, my coworkers would be left unmolested. However, 'the event which lead me here' in all likelihood scattered that evidence to the four winds, if it hadn't been utterly destroyed in the blast to begin with. A shame you comrades don't know the meaning of the word restraint."

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So, did he ever finger a suspect for the explosion?

I thought you had finished those?

Oh, you know it's a good rule of thumb not to underestimate me!

Are you Donne yet?

"Restraint is something I intend to teach mein... associates," he replied, "as vell as getting dem to dink more before acting, using deir brains before deir brawn. Or, at least, giving me time to use mein brain und consulting mit me before dey go out."

"Before dis becomes a debate on dat topic, dough," he quickly added, "dere are some matters concerning Darts dat I wanted to bring to your attention, matters vhich may haff some impact on yuor stay here. Just as some of de backers haff lost faith in it, many on de board of directors haff lost faith in you. Dey vish to distance Darts avay from you und your activities, und so are voting to remove you as head researcher und cutting you off from all deir resources. Furthermore, dere is talk of getting completely out of veapons manufacturing und focus more on defense or on even more general scientific und technical pursuits across a vide range of fields."

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Eric cocked his head to the side. "Really now? Not entirely unexpected on their part, but a bit more rash than I thought they would do." He pondered for a moment. "It appears as if I may be hoisted by my own petard. If I hadn't set out to create the Miscellaneous department at Darts they wouldn't have the capital necessary to jump ship so to speak. What are your feelings on the shift Doctor? Necessary, a good move, disguising the issue or a mistake?"

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Ah, now we get to he matter at hand!

Will you please stop? I have some serious issue to discuss with him.

Oh, well, in that case, lemme just get out our PalmPilot and review our notes!

You are never going to stop, are you?

"Vell..." he began, then paused to clear his throat. "Well, it is a safe move. Diversification is rarely a poor gamble, and many companies are getting out of specialization and moving to be more all-encompassing. Biotech and 'Green Energy' programs are two of the more prominent fields today, and if Darts can get more fingers into those pies, it would not hurt the portfolios."

"It is somewhat ironic, though, that the metahumans that you rail so hard against have created entirely new fields of study simply by their mere existence, fields which could make Darts a true world power if it were to follow them. Huge advances have been made in genetics and physics as we study incredible phenomenon that could scarce be imagined even a century ago. Size-manipulators have been vital in advances in nanotechnology and picotechnology and he beginnings of femtotechnology. Those who can travel to space under their own power -- or even just to he upper atmosphere -- have aided astonomy and astrophysics; those who can travel to the crushing depths of the ocean have helped advance marine biology."

"Not to say that Darts automatically would consider going for that angle. Due to your... activities, Darts is reluctant to have anything at all to do with metahumans. It would be far to easy for someone to start a smear campaign claiming Darts was using metahuman slaves to forcibly explore hazardous area, or vivisecting metahuman prisoners to see what new compounds could be harvested from their bodies." "Muah hah hah...."

"Bottom line, though, is that I do feel it is prudent for them to focus less on weaponry and more on a wider assortment of science & technology."

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Eric unconsciously smiles a little bit at the prospect of harvesting meta for any potentially useful compounds that they have. "Fair enough. But what field in particular? The current Darts staff are a rather motely bunch. They each have a specialty in weaponry, but then quite a few have a few other fields they dabble in. How exactly does the board plan to reorganize the business model? Will the entire revenue stream come from "whatever we think is cool"? Lest you forget, Darts only had the Miscellaneous department because he had the cash cow of weapon manufacturing to support us. For every success the Miscellaneous department turned out, there were a dozen failures."

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Y'know, I really don't think he's going to like us elbowing in on Darts!

Surely you are out of those by now, yes?

"That was the case before I started," he replied. "Since I began consult work a year ago, the department has improved considerably in terms of useful products."

"But there certainly are enough fields that are tangentially tied to Darts original model as a weapons manufacturer that they can spread out without venturing into wholly new territories. Dr. Silvers' team has become quite good at metallurgy, particularly in making strong, lightweight conductive materials, which would be useful for any electronics used by the military or explorers. Dr. Reynolds' force field projects have come along quite nicely, and I am sure I do not need to tell you just how wide a field that can be. These two alone could put Darts at the forefront of defensive technology."

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Eric nodded. He had picked up on the subtext of what Doctor Archeville was saying. "Too true. You've been an invaluable asset to the company. Your insights saved us quite a lot of time in our designs. And furthermore, your knowledge in a wide swath of fields has inspired more than a few of our staff to expand their own knowledge into different schools of science. So I need to ask you one more thing..." Eric slides his chair up a little further. "What is it that you really plan on doing with your new company?" If Doctor Archeville forgot that he was sitting across the table from a mad man, he was just reminded.

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Ah, he's fingered us! Caught red-handed!

Well, we might as well come clean then. What would be the worst he could do, given where he is?

Oh, you should know better than to poke him like that! Or are you just throwing your hands up at fate?

If you do not stop soon, I am going to start singing Rodgers & Hammerstein.

Archeville smirked, "I wondered when you would ask something to that effect. Of course, it will be a while still before it becomes my company. Lots of paperwork and transfers and so on to get through. All that red tape stuff, you know."

"But as for what I would be doing... well, pretty much exactly what I have been saying. There is a lot out there Darts can do, and with proper guidance, it can be so much more than it is now. The Miscellaneous Department was a true stroke of outside-the-box genius, and by nurturing it, the company could become a research & development lab to rival ASTRO Labs. Though some initial resources would need to go to PR, to... well... mitigate the negative image your association has brought to it, and bring back some of the financiers who withdrew. Maybe some humanitarian efforts, or an initial focus on medical technologies.... As I said, there's lots left to still work out."

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Eric simply nodded. "Tell me about it. Navigating all of that paperwork can be quite a pain. It does have quite the payoff though. Like if say you manage get all of the working parts to a nuclear reactor shipped to your house in the middle of downtown suburbia without anyone being none the wiser. Hypothetically of course." Added Eric with a rather sadistic grin as he leaned back in his chair.

"So yes, Doctor, Darts is on the verge of becoming everything you said it could be. But did you never question why Darts didn't start transitioning sooner? Or did you think you truly had the Midus touch; that we were all lost without your guidance? Truth be told, I had everything I needed from Darts. Using my connections and wealth, I could get my hands on anything I wanted, pretty much at anytime, without any true muss or fuss once I knew the system. So my question to you is Doctor, why would you of all people give that up?"

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  • 2 weeks later...

Best to come clean, wash our hands of the mess!

Right, I warned you. Ooooklahoma, where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain...

Archeville leaned a bit closer, and his voice dropped a few octaves, "You had everything you needed because you think too small!"

He leaned back again, "you really think you accomplished anything, Eric? If so, you're a bigger fool than the press is painting you as! Yeah, you made a few cool weapons, made some breakthroughs in miniaturization techniques in order to cram as much ordinance into that suit as you could... but for what? To kill Metahumans? Why? Because your father was a casualty in a fight between the Freedom League and the Crime League? Many people have lost far more than that, and don't go on roaring rampages of revenge. And after learning what you've been doing, now your mother's not talking to you, either? Seriously, man, what have you done with your life, aside from singlehandedly causing as much damage to public property as most brawls between groups of Metahumans? Did you even achieve your goal and actually kill any Metahumans?"

Ha! Exactly as I'd planned! While you were searching for a way to 'torment' me, your guard slipped enough for me to get some words in!


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"Kill them!? Doctor why on earth would I kill them? If I did that I would just be a simple murderer. That would put on the same level as the rest of the wackos locked up in here. No, I want something more, but it took me a long time to see it. Really this is a lot like a long running social experiment.

When I first made the suit, truthfully I wanted nothing other than personal revenge. It was an emotional response; no more, no less. On my first night out, I bested Emissary. But after that victory, I felt... hollow. While emotions can give you the drive, they can't give you a lasting purpose, at least not one you can justify. After that I questioned myself as to what I was really doing and why I should continue. Really, it was a mesh of soul searching and generating a new hypothesis. You see Doctor, at that point I didn't take anything for granted anymore. I questioned everything, no matter how long standing the belief. From what is right and wrong and all the way to asking myself if I really loved my father.

For good or ill, I found my answers, and that is when I started to hit upon a particular idea. You see Doctor, people really and truly believe in heroes. They're infallible, all powerful and always there when you need them. But, where does that leave everyone else? Are we insignificant, are we not worthy of mention? The fact that when people would write the history books about our time here and now, it would all be about the adventures of random people prancing about in spandex with massive egos swelling their heads. Personally, that sicked me. Humanity is not a foot note in history Doctor.

And so I tried to show people what was truly wrong with this little world of ours, and suffice to say, I failed horribly. But I noticed something; it wasn't that people weren't listening to my message, they didn't even hear me at all. So I gave them a reason to pay attention."

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He's not just angry, he's envious! Oh, this poor, broken boy.

But it does not need to stay this way! We can help him, show him the errors of his ways!

Archeville leaned back a bit, "And what did you have to say, Eric, hrm? It's a bit hard to hear the song when the music is so loud."

"For someone so intelligent, so used to looking at problems from multiple angles, do you not see the three huge flaws in your 'humanity must not look to Metahumans for salvation, they're dangerous' philosophy? One," he held up his right index finger, "not all those 'dangerous' heroes out there are Metahuman; almost half the Freedom League are nonpowered humans with exquisite training and technology. Two," he held up his middle finger, "you yourself, a nonpowered human, used your completely non-Metahuman brain to create a device that has caused as much devastation as most any Metahuman, superpowered brawl. And with these two firmly in mind, flaw number three," his ring finger went up, "where do you stop, Eric? People look up to actors and athletes and musicians in ways not that different from the way they look up to superheroes and Metahumans, and most athletes and entertainers have massive egos and swelled heads. Where do you draw the line? At what point do you say 'no, you're too advanced, reaching too far, you're making the others feel bad.'"

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*sigh* "Doc you've got it all wrong. Firstly, being dangerous isn't a crime. You, me, Arrowhawk, Raven, we're all dangerous. But we earned that right. Dangerous is a measure of capability, not a crime. In a hypothetical scenario, if we put our heads together, we could invent a weapon of such terrible power that we could boil the oceans. But we don't, we're not murderers. As scientists we know full well the implications of our abilities, inventions and the ethical ramifications there in. But can you honestly look me in the eye and tell me that you don't know a single meta that doesn't know the full extent of their abilities, or that you couldn't think of a better way to implement their powers?

Secondly, why the hell is everyone hung up on that one week? Aside from intervening at the Captain's Trial and my HQ being blown up - with me still inside it - what have I done that's so terrible? My fight with Captain Wonder? He's the one that threw me through a building, and dumped a flat bed truck on my head. How did I start the night? By picking the lock on the roof! Me, in my multi-million dollar "death machine" picked the @#$% lock! I could've torn the door of the hinges, I could've blown the wall apart, heck I bet I could've leveled the building if I really wanted to. But no. I snuck into the building because I didn't want anyone to get hurt.

If you look through any of my escapades, you'll notice that I was very careful with the amount of force I used. It was targeted on one or two main targets. Heck, if you looked at the Mantle of Freedom, you'd notice that 95% of the weaponry is single target, or only hits a handful of targets.

Now, if you want to discuss the Trial, let me put things in perspective for you. Firstly, Captain Knievel was on trial 2 days after being arrested. No, just no. Not even the best lawyers in the country could work up an adequate defense in that time. Any competent lawyer would have called a mistrial. Secondly, consider the fact that Captain Knievel is one of my best friends. If your best friend was set up in this farce of a trial, you'd be more than a little mad wouldn't you? Now once the battle was joined you'll notice that I was being assaulted by Scarab, Arrowhawk and Darkstar. Not a single one of them is a push over. Furthermore, Dark Star is completely immune to any sort of conventional weaponry I could throw at him. So, I had use one of my most devastating weapons if I even wanted to harm him. So, did I overreact? Probably. Was that overreaction justified? Yes.

Then, if you are referring to the event in Riverside, you'll note that someone assaulted by base and the blew it up. I'm sorry that whatever idiot did that didn't think blow up a "mad-man's" ammo dump was a bad idea. Now, to put things in perspective, I've been working on the "Malice project" for about 6 years now. Granted, much of this was the design period, and the creation of the bunker, along with all the smuggling that involved, but I was sitting on that ammo dump for at least 3 years. Think about that for a second. Like, I mean run the numbers. You'll see that people are basing their entire judgment of me on about 0.3 to 0.5% of my "career". That time period also being at the same time my best friend was being locked up and I was assaulted in my own home. Yeah, that's a real good sample size right there.

Now for your third point. 'Where do you draw the line?' If your previous 2 points weren't ignorant enough, you had to go ahead and ask this stupid question. Firstly, I am only concerned with those that go grossly beyond the norms of human ability. I'm talking about throwing fire, flying unaided, telepathy. But also, the record for deadlifting is what? Right around 1000 pounds? If you're doing like 5,000 or more, that's grossly beyond. If you're doing like 1500, I'm not even going to look at you. If it comes down to a judgment call on my part, they're safe.

Secondly, I am not just concerned with metas, they are merely my immediate goal. They're the ceiling that prevents humans from doing higher, so I first need to clear the air. Once that's done, then I can begin working on phase 2. See I'm not drawing a line, it's more of a circle. Anyone that falls outside of that is fair game. So after the fire-breathers, I'm going after the third generation teen pregnant mothers, living on welfare, with 5 kids at age 20, from 3 different daddies and they don't know a single one of them is. After I get rid of the un-humans, I'm doing to move onto the inferior examples of the human race. I am not so optimistic as to say that every human being has the right to breed. Some need to be put down for the betterment of the species."

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  • 2 weeks later...

Did... did he just... just...

Ha! I knew there was something I liked about this guy!

"You-" Archeville began, then paused.

"I-" he started again, then stopped.

He stood up suddenly, walked over to the door, placed his hand on the handle... but did not open it.

No! We cannot just leave him, not like this!

Why not? We've got stuff to do back home, and he seems at home here with White Knight.

Archeville turned around and walked back to his chair, placing his hands on the back of it and rocking back and forth on his heels.

"Your words are distressingly familiar, spoken by those who found it easier to destroy than to build. Several dozen of their propaganda films just played in my mind. These people ended... poorly. I would prefer to not see that happen to you."

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  • 2 weeks later...

"Awwww, you do care." said Malice mockingly. "So Doc, can you here the song now? If people hate me, if people loathe me - Doctor - I still win. You see, hatred breeds war, and war gets people off their fat, lazy behinds. For all the terrors and horrors WWII had, you have to admit, we owe the foundation for most of the advancements we made in the modern era to that time period. Would we have gone to the moon if we didn't have to beat the Russians there? I honestly don't think we would have.

You see Doctor, for all of my "delusions" there is one thing I know: I'm not a good person. I'm not a hero, I'm not a martyr. What I'm doing is wholly and truly evil. People won't pity me, they won't think highly of me and they'll even try to forget me. And they'll never acknowledge what I did for humanity. I am simply a means to an end. I am what it takes to get humanity to become active again, and earn its survival into the next century. When all is said and done, I'll just be a body buried beneath the foundation of tomorrow. And that's enough."

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