Rating: Does it matter? K, I guess
Summary: Norman's faith in the Mighty One is not misplaced.
A/N: Yeah, no idea where this came from. I've been re-watching the series with a friend of mine on Thursday nights, and apparently this nugget of inspiration got lodged in my brain somewhere in there. I dedicate this to my friend eustacio , for being awesome!
“You’re going to die, you know.”
“That’s a funny thing to say, coming from the guy that’s about to get his brain ripped out,” the villain returned smugly.
“You’re the one who is up against the Mighty One. I’m just sayin’.” Norman felt a small smile cross his face as he shrugged as much as the restraining bonds would allow. He still couldn’t quite figure out this guy’s angle. The Guardian had been traveling between places with Virgil and the Cap-Bearer, on their way to Tibet to save the world again, when this shrimp of a villain had ambushed them, ending with the Viking tied down to a table and already bored by long, wordy descriptions of what this week’s nefarious over-achiever was going to do with him.
“You think some brat is gonna rescue you and save the day? Some kid whose only claim to fame is their ballcap? And people say I’m insane,” he muttered. “Hopefully, when my brain is in your body I won’t look as stupid as you are.”
“Keep telling yourself that,” the Guardian returned.
“What IS it with you people?” As expected, he turned away from his equipment to rail in Norman’s face, and the Viking suppressed his own smug grin. Whoever said that being a master of combat made one poor at psychological tactics had obviously never really taken him seriously. It was probably Virgil in one of his moods, come to think of it. Norman might not be able to out-think a genius, but he could certainly bait a moron.
“I’ve seen this kid you worship,” he sneered, his anger starting to carry him away. “He’s a big nothing, like all punks. He talks a big game, but he’s got nothing on me. Or you! You are the original hero, the consummate warrior, a force not even the gods can defeat! You are Thor! Hercules! Samson! Lancelot! No twelve-year-old kid with an attitude is a match for the likes of you, let alone the powers of my brain. And not you or anybody else is going to convince me otherwise.”
“Not really.” And here the villain smiled sinisterly. “It’ll be yours. You don’t deserve the immortality, invulnerability, and super-human strength you possess. You never did. But with my brains and your body, I will finally achieve what you never dared. I will have everything I want: respect, victory, admiration. Maybe even a girlfriend.”
“You’ll still have a fat head,” Norman returned.
This time he was ignored as the mad scientist (or crazy barber – the Viking was not quite sure which, honestly) began fiddling with dials and buttons on the strange device that looked more like a converted refrigerator than anything else. For the tenth time, he pushed against the restraints that held him to the upright table, but to no avail. Crazy though he might be, at least this guy had done his homework about Norman’s limits.
“And now! As soon as the generator is fully charged, the time for my triumph will begin!”
The Guardian let out a snort. He’d seen so much posturing by villains, from Roman conquerors to dark-age tyrants to modern megalomaniacs; it all sort of looked the same after a while.
“Are you afraid, you who have the strength of legends?” the man demanded.
“Not in the slightest,” Norman said coolly.
“You are about to lose your body, to have your mind transferred into my feeble, useless form while I instead claim yours. How can you not fear the short life and painful death that awaits you?” There was honest surprise and a shadow of something else in his eyes.
“Because you’re going down.”
“You seem awfully calm for the original berserker, you know.”
And no matter how much the man prodded, the Viking held his tongue. Let that so-called genius figure it out for himself. In other circumstances, where the safety of his boy was less certain, he would have been near to madness trying to break free. But not from fear for himself, but rather from not knowing if the Mighty One was truly safe, the only thing that ever really mattered. This time, however, he’d witnessed their escape through a portal, Virgil leading and the Cap-Bearer giving him the blazing, fierce expression that promised he would not leave his friend for long. So Norman had no reason for even a moment of doubt. Mighty Max had given his silent word to return in time – what was there to worry about?
“The generator is charged!” came an exultant shout. The scrawny man practically skipped into the chair that was positioned next to Norman’s and belted himself in. “Now I need only enter the proper commands and my destiny shall begin!”
“We’ll see about that!” A form blurred into sight from a side-door, a shock of blue, white, and red in the otherwise grey space. A familiar look of both determination and adrenaline-fuelled joy crossed the familiar countenance as the boy burst onto the scene. “I’m coming Normie!”
“Mighty One! The machine!” Virgil’s voice ordered crisply.
The Cap-Bearer’s trajectory led him to precisely the piece of equipment the Lemurian fowl had indicated, and he skidded to a halt before it.
“No! Get away from there! You could kill us both!” Wide-eyed, the villain seemed rooted to his seat.
“I don’t think so, bub!” For one instant, the boy’s eyes met Norman’s, a wordless, intense question hanging in them. He knew what to do, but even now, even filled to the very brim with the power of heroic destiny, he needed to know his Guardian backed him.
“Do it, Mighty One!” Norman ordered.
He grabbed for a lever, one that did who-knew-what, and yanked.
There was an alarming buzz of electricity, and the smell of ozone began filling the room. The Mighty One’s eyes were locked on a particular part of the contraption, and he seemed to be waiting for something. Then, at some signal no one but himself could see, he pushed two other handles down, smashing them with all his strength. The machine began to whir even more intently, even as the components closest to Norman started to smoke and their glowing screens faded.
“Normie!” the boy raced to his Guardian’s side relief coloring his voice. He slapped one button out of a dozen on the control panel at the side of the table, and the restraints holding the Viking in place instantly released.
“Thank you, Mighty One.” Calm as if he’d been walking in the woods on a summer’s day, he stepped down from the machine, gratefully pulling off the itchy headband that had been pushed onto his cranium and tossing it to the side even as he retrieved his sword from where it had been unceremoniously propped nearby.
“How dare you? You…you…this cannot be!” the scientist/barber was beside himself with anger, now fighting to undo the restraining belt he’d affixed himself, probably to stand up and try to seek vengeance. Either that or to posture meaninglessly.
“I told you,” Norman shrugged again, taking his place at the Mighty One’s side opposite Virgil. “You go up against the Mighty One, you’re gonna go down.”
“Why? You’re the one with the brilliant power and unlimited strength! You are the hero of countless legends!”
“Then you’re obviously reading the wrong legends,” Virgil sniffed superiorly.
“All this hero-worship for nothing but a useless boy!” At last he got himself freed of the chair and stood.
“Who’re you calling useless?” the Cap-Bearer demanded, a hidden smile in his expression. Norman grinned – greater men than this one had known fear when his boy donned that particular look that meant he was about to end the fight once and for all. “’Cause by my count, you’re the one whose stuff is about to go kablooey.”
“Oh, good point.” Then, “Wait, what???”
But the portal had already been opened, and the boy was leading his friends through it. Just before it closed behind them, they could hear the resounding BOOM of unstable mechanics meeting unstable chemicals meeting unstable maniacs. Norman, at the rear of the trio, rounded his shoulders instinctively, in case any shrapnel were to enter the cosmic conduit with them, but nothing did. A moment later, they dropped into a lush forest, brightly lit by the midday sun.
“You okay, Normie?” the Cap-Bearer asked, turning to his Guardian.
“I’m fine, Mighty One,” Norman gave him a wink.
“Very well. This distraction has caused us enough lost time today,” Virgil clucked irritably, pulling out his scroll. “There is still the world to save, you know.”
“Hey! Rescuing Normie is NOT a distraction!” the boy returned indignantly. “That guy was gonna steal his brain!”
“Yes, well, it has been managed. Now, if we could please return to Tibet to deal with the possessed monkey warriors and their alien overlord…” the Lemurian began walking confidently into the woods.
The Cap-Bearer shared a look at his Guardian and shrugged, good-naturedly following in Virgil’s wake. Norman watched him for a moment before he set off after them. But he could not quite forget the detour they’d taken due to one crazy man (scientist? barber?) and his obsession with taking over Norman’s body and having all the assets of a legendary warrior.
“Definitely reading the wrong legends,” he said to himself. “Or he’d never have bypassed the Mighty One for me. But then,” his face twisted into a wicked, slightly savage grin, “if he had, I’d have had a lot more fun.”
“Norman! Come along!” came Virgil’s imperious voice from up ahead, and the Guardian quickened his pace.
It was still early. There was plenty of time for some fun before the end of the day.