This story includes violence and murder.
This is a Supervillainverse story.
Today was going to be a good day, I said to myself that morning. Not only did the day begin with a package from Mum – an update to my goggles, as well as a bag of cookies – but that day I had a job to do, and it was a special job too.
It was a job on Planet Earth.
I had researched many planets, their cultures, lands and animals, but Earth was what intrigued me most of all. Most of the books I read and the audiobooks I listened to were from Earth, I had partaken many of their foods – Mum can vouch for that – and many photos on the walls of my spaceship are of the jungles, beaches and mountains found on that planet.
The planet where I may very well have come from.
Mum didn’t really know where I came from. All she said about my origins was that she, while looking for suitable specimens for her experiments, she found my egg in a field. She took it back to her laboratory where it hatched, but she said I matched no known species found on her planet, nor any other planets she was in contact with.
Many beings from many worlds came to Mum’s planet, coming for resources, food or simple tourism. Many beings from many worlds came to Mum, a creator of weaponry and devices for warriors, soldiers and bounty hunters.
Bounty hunters like yours truly.
It seemed a fitting role for me; given that I spent most of my life hiding from others, why not take a job where that would be an advantage? I even had a pretty good place on where to get weapons.
Mum knew all about Earth. She had come from there, after all, and had come to Tarria for its technology and specimens. Her species could be found all over the universe, yet there were no other six-foot-tall bipedal lizards.
Yes, “lizard”. The name of the species I’m the closest to. From the images and videos I’ve seen and the books I’ve read, they seem very much like me, yet at the same time, wildly different. For example, I’ve never eaten an insect in my life. The lizards I’ve read about don’t guzzle down beer or eat ice cream.
There were some aspects of those creatures I even envied. I had seen videos of lizards climbing walls and felt that would be useful in my line of work. I also saw a cartoon where a member of my brethren had an elongated tongue and wanted it simply because I thought it would be cool.
So Mum provided. The boots and gloves I used when going out on jobs had a setting that allowed them to stick onto vertical surfaces, perfect when you’re creeping around and want to shoot your target when he’s most unaware. I had an extendable tongue as well – two in fact. On each side of my head sat an extendable robot tentacle. Not only did that prove useful in my work, providing a good distraction, it also helped with high shelves.
Earth was a big part of my life, so I could hardly wait to go there. As I boarded my spaceship, I made sure an audiobook of Earth literature was playing through my headphones. I always listened to audiobooks when I was working; it helped me think. This time, I listened to a story that had been recommended to me multiple times: The Island of Dr. Moreau.
The word “island” made me think of all the beaches and mountains I had pictures of, and how I wished I could linger there. I had been to Earth several times before in the past, but every time I went, I had to leave almost as quickly as I came. Land on Earth, kill whoever I needed to kill, leave.
Despite the fact I resembled an Earth creature more than anything, Earth was where I was feared most of all.
The first time I came to Earth, after completing my job, I attempted to mingle. After I retreated from the body, I walked among the humans in hopes they would accept me like Mum had. Instead, I was greeted with screams, yells and calls for their flying protectors.
“Superheroes”. Another reason I didn’t stay on Earth for very long. Outer space had its heroes too – The Constellation Crusaders, Team Universe etc. – but Earth seemed to be absolutely littered with them, and each of them disapproved of what I did. I almost find it odd that they would, given, in a way, I did what they did.
Most of the people I did away with were bad people. I was hired to kill them because they were bad people. I had been hired to hunt down and murder helpers and followers of the infamous Zaebos, and I would have taken down Zaebos himself if I had the chance.
That’s why I was going to Earth: to eliminate another bad person. The type of bad person superheroes like to fight, even. One of those “mad scientists”. Many would call Mum that, but I feel that an unfitting term for her. She wasn’t cruel or sadistic like the mad scientists of Earth. Mad scientists like my latest target, who was stealing alien tech in hopes of conquering the world with them or just having a bit of twisted fun.
Mad scientists like Dr. Moreau.
The Island of Dr. Moreau, the book I listened to as I flew to Earth, was about a scientist like those who had become so frequent on Earth, creating bizarre human-animal hybrids. Listening to it reminded me of a theory I had about myself.
I had heard about Earth scientists who had mutated animals into humanoid forms, but, apparently, that was after they were born. According to Mum, I was larger than an average lizard and had opposable thumbs as soon as I had hatched, and she had done nothing to alter my egg.
I looked like a lizard, but I wasn’t a lizard. I didn’t have a long tongue, I couldn’t climb walls and my tail couldn’t grow back if it was cut off (not that my tail was ever cut off, that’s just what a scan through my goggles revealed). Many aliens looked like Earth animals; I had seen enough of both to know.
Though I had been distracted by my own wandering mind, I arrived at my destination. Planet Earth, in the last place Dr. Farstrad has been seen. The Amazon Rainforest.
If it wasn’t where I came from, I felt it was at least similar. If I was a member of a planet’s dominant species, this is what I’d imagine the planet to look like. Tall, bright trees and plentiful wildlife that, with my green scales and my brown coat, I blended in with. ‘Oh, you’ve really sealed your doom,’ I said to my victim, even though he wasn’t there and I know he couldn’t hear me.
Both of my “tongues” were stronger than they looked, so as they grabbed onto a tree branch, they were able to take my weight so I could ascend. It reminded me of the swingset Mum constructed for me when I was a child. I sat on a large branch, sticking to it closely with the mode on my gloves and shoes.
It had been a long trip to Earth, and my audiobook was almost complete. Musings on humanity reverting to their animal state. I looked at my gloved hands and pseudo-tongues before forcing myself to look at the land below.
I had come up that tree to get a better view of the land, to give my goggles more to analyse. After hopping from tree to tree – which, I admit, made me feel like Tarzan – I was finally able to pick up a hatch, obscured by various fauna.
I picked up something else as well. Another spaceship.
That sight not only gave me a small chill, but a large pang of disappointment stung my gut. Now I had even less of an excuse to linger here.
As soon as I spotted the spaceship descending, I hopped off the tree and made my way to the hatch, zipping up my coat to make myself less visible among the trees.
I swore I saw a fellow reptile staring at me quizzically.
My goggles came in handy when opening the hatch – it was locked by a code, which my goggles were quickly able to conjure. I typed in the numbers with one hand, taking my gun out of my holster with the other. As much as I told myself to focus on the task at hand, I couldn’t help but look up at the trees and listen to the flapping and squawking of the birds.
Part of me wanted to run away from the hatch. The image of myself removing my clothes and gadgets and diving into the river refused to leave my mind.
I was brought back into reality by a gun pressed to the back of my head.
‘Freeze,’ came the voice behind me. ‘Drop your weapon. You’re under arrest.’
Hearing that only made me grip my weapon tighter.
‘I said to drop your weapon.’
It was then I recognised the voice. A certain member of the Constellation Crusaders, a team I had escaped from in the past. A former member of the Constellation Crusaders, even.
‘Diddy,’ I snorted, ‘of all the people…’
‘So you recognise me then,’ replied Diddy, ‘you are clever.’
At that moment, I wanted to turn around, shoot Diddy, then just forget my task. Perhaps forget every task from now on. Just live here. Live among my brethren.
Before I could attempt to attack, I found another gun pressed against my forehead. A Polleran, smiling as she slithered towards me. ‘Cut the jokes, Diddy,’ she said, before turning to me, ‘Don’t worry, we just want to talk.’
‘About what?’ I said as I arched an eyebrow, or what counted as my equivalent of one. Before they could answer, the hatch sprung open, revealing what looked like a flying rubbish bin with arms not unlike my tongues. The event sent Diddy and the Polleran tumbling over backwards, and I rolled away.
Robots. All mad scientists needed at least one.
I stared at the robot as it readied an attack, allowing my goggles to analyse it to find any weak points. Though they did find one, the robot instantly exploded as soon as they found it. Diddy and the Polleran had shot it at the same time, right before they turned their guns back at me.
‘You see?’ the Polleran said, ‘We’re here to help. In fact, I think we can help each other.’
‘You’re a well-known in your field,’ said Diddy, ‘and we’ve heard nothing but good things about you, in a way of speaking, of course.’
‘What we’re trying to say is,’ explained the Polleran, ‘we’re putting together a team, and we think with your skills and expertise, you would be a good choice for us.’
‘We know you’re doing what we plan to do,’ said Diddy, ‘travel the universe, removing those who would harm the innocent.’
‘Thanks but no thanks,’ I replied, noticing them lowering their weapons, ‘now if you’ll excuse me, I have a job to do.’
‘Hey, come on!’ protested Diddy, ‘At least hear us out!’
‘We helped you…’
‘I could have done that myself…’
‘We…’ the Polleran continued, wringing her hands, ‘we know how lonely you must feel. We know how it’s like when…you feel you have no-one to…’
Another robot sprung from the hatch, then another, then two more. Two of them wrapped their tentacles around my neck, making me squirm so much I dropped my gun. As another tentacle wrapped around my stomach, I closed my eyes and imagined a place much like the rainforest, only inhabited by others like me, other clothed lizards basking in the sunshine and climbing trees.
Sadly, that fantasy was not to last, as I was soon forced to come face to face with my target. The tentacles around my neck loosened, but the one around my stomach tightened as I lay eyes on a tall, thin man wearing a grey jumpsuit, looking much like those superheroes.
‘Come to see my weapons, eh?’ sneered Farstrad, ‘Well, I’ll give you a first…’
Before he could finish, I let loose my own little tentacles, aiming for his own neck. With a smirk, he reached for his silver belt and pulled out something that looked like a pen. With a press of a button, a bright blue laser emitted from the pen, and soon enough, my tongues fell to the ground.
I struggled harder against the tentacles’ grasp.
The tentacles released me and I charged towards Farstrad, determined to wipe the smile off his face.
Screw the gun, I thought. Just strangle him.
Then I thought, well, the gun would be easier and quicker, and when I thought that, I instinctively caught my gun as it was thrown right at me, shoved it in Farstrad’s mouth and killed him.
‘It was your job,’ said Diddy as he and the Polleran approached me, ‘might as well let you do the honours.’
‘The offer still stands,’ said the Polleran, handing me a card, confirming what I had suspected about her.
‘I’ll consider it,’ I said as they left. After I got on the phone to alert my client that the target was dead and the stolen weaponry was ready to pick up and I received my payment, I went towards my ship too. Part of me still wanted to stay longer, but my mind focussed on the people I had met. Diddy and the Polleran. Diddy and Nessa.
One of Zaebos’ scientists, a weapon-builder like my Mum. I had told myself I would find all who worked for Zaebos and either capture or kill them, but I have to admit, that brief period I had with those two? It was probably the least lonely I had felt in my life. The least I had felt like an animal.
I flew away from Earth. It was a lovely planet, but the rest of the universe had plenty for me too.