Previously in Megamind:
Metro Man has been burned to a cinder, and Metro City is at Megamind's mercy. Ruling a city wasn't all it's cracked up to be, however, and Megamind fell into melancholy. A chance meeting – in disguise as Bernard, an archivist and museum curator – with Roxanne Ritchi lead to sudden inspiration. Every villain needs a hero, right? And heroes can be made!
But what about Roxanne Ritchi? “Bernard” wasn't the only person inspired that night...
Resetter 1: The Evil Lair
She'd been prepared to scour the city. Utility maps. Traffic disruptions. Plotting her various abduction sites on big maps that she needed to unfold across the entire open-plan office floor. It was going to be her project. Something that was safe enough to calm her racing heartbeat. Something that was still doing something, because the alternative to doing was not doing, and she refused to give up on her city.
All it had taken was a trip up Metro Tower to take an establishment shot that swept across the city, for her to realise how simple she'd been. That fake observatory had been open to the sky. They'd had a clear line of sight to the real abandoned observatory. Metro Man's skeleton had arced in a neat, direct path from the explosion, to land on top of Megamind.
“It's near the edge of the industrial district,” she breathed.
“Huh?” Hal wasn't the most attentive of coworkers. At least, not when it related to the job at hand. “Hey Roxy, wanna’ grab lunch up here? We could ride the lift to the external observation deck. I hear it's pretty romantic up there.”
“Not now, Hal,” she said. Her eyes were scanning, but the clouds were so thick that she couldn't see clearly enough. No matter. They could do a drive-by; there couldn't be that many buildings in the area that would fit the requirements.
When she drove past it, she nearly choked on her own laughter. “I mean, honestly! Are they low on cash? Did evil forget to steal some cladding, or corrugated iron, or space-filler when they raided the hardware store for all that wood?”
“You gotta admit, it's pretty dorky. Now if I was a super villain, you'd never hear me telling all my evil plans or making a lair so easy to find.” Hal was earnest instead of creepy, which was a nice change. He liked reciting the Evil Overlord List and mocking Megamind's breaches of it. As creepy as he was at times, at least Hal was a laugh every now and then. With a very big interval between the now and the then.
“I bet,” Roxanne said. She didn't have time for the list; she was on the story. “Hey, can you get the camera out? Get some good external shots. I'm going to go take a look around.” She drove through the rusty gates and into the empty yard. She shoved her hands in her pockets and walked around. The shade, the gravel, and the bricks gave the air a cool feeling. Her skin recognised it like an old friend.
“So, this is what this place looks like. I wonder how many times I've been here.”
Hal didn't reply. He was head-deep in the van, and Roxanne felt frustrated. Sometimes it seemed like she was just talking to herself whenever she was with Hal. He wasn't a great listener. Their conversations didn't inspire her very much. It was the curse of being a reporter. You wanted to share the news with somebody right away, but you had to sit on it until the copy was polished and the footage was cut together right. There wasn't really anybody she trusted enough that she could talk to.
Or was there? Bernard. Immediately, her hand was in her pocket, flipping open her phone, navigating her contacts list. It rang and rang, and as she waited, she walked around a bit more, taking in the truly apathetic atmosphere. Apparently villains didn't weed or fight off wandering graffiti artists. She supposed that going out to yell at the kids to get off of your lawn - well, crumbling asphalt - was a bit counter-productive. First, it gave away the secret. Secondly, it discouraged chaos and mayhem.
“Ollo,” Bernard said when he picked up.
She smiled. He was a quirky one. It hadn't taken long for his voice to sound like that of an old friend.
“I mean, hello.” He sounded really pleased to hear from her. She wondered if he had recognised her voice.
“Bernard, it's Roxanne. I just wanted to thank you for inspiring me the other day.” Without him, she wouldn't be where she was, reading the graffiti on a red brick wall.
“Oh,” he sounded gentle, surprised. “You inspired me too.”
“Great!” She knew that he’d support her. That was what could make Metro City more powerful than Metro Man, than Megamind himself: their ability to work together as a team. “It's time we stood up to Megamind and show him he can't push us around.”
“Oh? Oh, really?” He was a bit too smooth. She wasn't sure if he was being interested, or just condescending. She decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. If he was being a jerk, well, he'd be completely floored by her news.
“I'm already hot on his trail.”
“Ahuh, and what gives you that idea?” Seriously? He might have been a scholar, and one with biting wit at that, but ugh. She'd show him.
“I just found his secret hideout.” She grinned and kept looking around. She couldn't see any cameras, so she was probably flying completely under Megamind's radar.
“HOW DID SHE FIND MY HIDEOUT?!” What an odd thing for Bernard to say. He sounded... scared? Maybe he’d been so surprised that he’d had a slip of the tongue. “Ah, how did you find his hideout?”
Oh, oh right. That made more sense. He was in shock and awe at her skills. He was probably impressed, or maybe even worried for her. She'd be the same if the shoe was on the other foot.
“This is the only building in Metro City with a fake observatory on the roof.” She was clever. She'd figured it out. She was kicking butt and taking names. And what was that by her foot? “Hoooh! there's a doormat here that says Secrit Entrance!”
‘Secrit Entrance’, huh? Roxanne had seen some weird things in her day. She reached a hand out, and, there. It was a hologram! Oh, shewas in. She moved slowly down the dark hallway, taking it all in. Concrete and brick. Table of... dynamite? He must have had some leftovers from that bomb at the museum. Poor Bernard, losing his life's work. She hoped it was insured and that the banks would re-open, and at least that he'd get back-pay. At least KMCP was still covering her paychecks. As long as she paid for everything with her access card and didn't need any cash, she'd get by.
To be honest, she was more interested in sneaking around than in whatever Bernard was babbling about.
“You dim-witted creation of science!” Okay, that was odd.
“What?” She couldn't imagine what he meant by that.
“What? Oh, no, not you, Roxanne. No, I was just yelling at my... mother's urn. Don't do anything, I'll be right there.”
His mother's urn. Riiiiiight. Well, no sense waiting around. It was time to get down to work. It made sense. Kind of. What was more important, right then, was how the corridor opened up, and that she could see the whole warehouse. It was a factory floor, full of Megamind's inventions and plans. It was impressive. She felt a chill run down her spine, and it wasn't just from the damp. She'd seen his inventions one at a time. She'd known he'd need to have some kind of huge workshop, to make them. Logically, sometimes, more than one robot would be in that place at the same time. But to see all the junk he had lying around, all the half-finished projects, it was kind of amazing.
It was like Disneyland, without the safety testing. It was hard to tell where the domestic ended and the mad scientist began. She could pick out a washing machine and a dryer, a toaster, and a forgotten cold cup of coffee.
The red curtains, now, they intrigued her. A whole, huge, open-plan playground of evil, and he felt the need to hide something? That had to be where the interesting things were.
Oh god. Megamind was behind her! She spun, shrieking, to find... Bernard. “Oh! I'm glad you're here. Wait, how did you get here so fast?”
“Well, I happened to be speed-walking nearby when you called.” He raised his elbows and waved his arms, which looked kind of silly, but that was speed walking for you.
Even so, she was a little suspicious. “In a suit?”
“Ahuh. It's called... formal speed-walking, but that's not important.”
Roxanne was willing to bet he was lying, he'd probably had the same great idea she had, and either didn't want to embarrass her, or he didn't want to admit she'd beat him to it. She'd let that one go, for the moment. He brushed past her.
“I better take the lead. This way looks exciting.” His eyes were bright, but he was pointing to a big exit sign.
“No, it says ‘Exit’.” He wasn't going to trick her out of her scoop, just so he could have a moment alone in Megamind's lair. She knew how long he'd studied Metro Man and Megamind's ba ttles; she knew just what this discovery meant for his geeky little mind.
“Er, which is the abbreviation for exciting, right?”
It was sweet, the way he was pretending to keep her safe. Or, maybe he really was just trying to keep her safe? Worried for her? If so, it was kind of endearing.
But Roxanne had been protected and rescued for, well, most of her life. She was over that gig. Metro Man was dead, and if he could die, anybody could. If Megamind was capable of killing, what would stop him killing her? And if she was already dead, well, she was going to do her best to take him down with her. She'd go out kicking, screaming, and fighting for justice.
She knew what she was aiming for; the one thing that Megamind kept hidden away and concealed. Whether it was a new weapon, a new costume, a new plan, or a new robotic body for Minion, whatever Megamind had kept safest, that was what Roxanne wanted to find. Those big impressive red curtains would be a start. Who would make drapes that tall in a factory this big, if they weren't hiding something impressive. She ignored Bernard, and headed thataway.
She swung the curtains wide open. Okay, wow. Like an ideas map. Scraps of paper, scribbled notes, swatches of fabric, and string connecting distant pieces together. What a way to brainstorm! When you were evil, you really did have the time and the space to dedicate to your hobbies. He'd turned plotting into an art form, the way that some people spent all weekend finessing Lego construction, or origami folding, or pouring the perfect cup of tea . This was so much better, because this was full of information that Roxanne could read and understand, because this wasn’t just Megamind’s hobby. It was his day job.
“This is the motherlode!” She stared at it. She was having trouble taking it all in, that's how much of it there was.
“Oh!” Bernard ran up behind her. She could tell from his silence that he was impressed too.
“Wow. Just look at this thing.” It was a little redundant to say it, but she had to share the moment with him. She wanted to be sharing this discovery with somebody, and not just the public in her inevitable primetime expose piece.
She pulled her camera out and began snapping. Behind her, she could hear Bernard gaping, gasping. He was definitely in awe. She didn't blame him. A lifetime of research, and to be confronted with this. Megamind brainstormed, which was a funny thought in itself. Did his sky-blue skin cloud over?
No, don't be silly. She had to keep taking pictures, making sure they were in focus. She'd reconstruct it all when she got home. She’d pick his evil mind apart. But still, Bernard was probably having a profound moment, intimate. They could literally reach out and touch Megamind's thoughts.
“You know, I could really use your help in deciphering all this.”
“Really?” He was being sarcastic. Okay, fine. So she was hogging the Evil Lair, a little bit. Acting like she knew more about Megamind than he did.
“You're an expert on all things Megamind, right?”
“Yes. Right.” Or, possibly, he was just one of those eccentric geniuses who forgot his driving passion in his research.
“Together, we could figure out his plan for the city and stop it. Are you in?”
“Oh, what fun!” He was sarcastic, sure, but he was in. She could tell.
“That's what I want to hear!”
As she snapped pictures, a bumbling buzz of brain bots burst out from the darkness of the lair, saying “Intruder” on a loop. They swooped in and scooped Bernard up by the arms.
The brain bots carried him away, backwards, knocking into a metal cabinet, but not knocking it over. The doors rattled, and Roxanne wondered what was locked inside there. She looked around. There had to be something dangerous, right? It was Megamind, but he had to have at least one actually lethal weapon in his arsenal. She'd settle for anything, as she watched them carry Bernard further away.
To her disgust, the lair was empty of anything that a person, and not a robot, could weaponise. Notes? Scraps of orange fabric?! Was he ruling the city or just redecorating? She grabbed the first heavy thing she could find, a wrench, and hefted it in her throwing hand. It wasn't much, but Bernard was an archivist. There was no telling how weak he was, or if he had asthma or not. If anybody was going to be the hero that day, it would have to be her.
She ran after them and thought she'd seen Bernard fall to the ground, but when she rounded the corner, there was Megamind. Gangly failure of a villain, he was flat on his ass with his cloak flipped over his head.
She gasped. She hadn't been expecting him, which was stupid, because it was his lair. “Megamind. What have you done with Bernard?”
Maybe she'd underestimated Bernard. Go Bernard! She'd have paid to see a pasty researcher punch Megamind's lights out. She advanced on him, emboldened by Bernard's own courage.
Megamind stared at her, gaping. One eyebrow raised. Sometimes, she'd look at him during a kidnapping, and she'd be struck by how familiar all of his behaviour was. She'd known him since high school. When he looked at her like he was, right then, it was the same way he'd looked at their homeroom teacher when she'd announced the up and coming parent teacher night. Or, as Roxanne would put it, his ‘you've got to be kidding me’ face.
“A wrench? Seriously?” He laughed.
A brain bot bobbed closer to her, looking more interested than threatened. She brandished the wrench. The brain bot quivered, staring at it.
“It can still crack a skull open. I was in the KMCP women's baseball team for three years. We won against Metro Fox.” She squared her feet, and brought her free arm up, clenched the wrench in both hands. “I've got a mean swing. Now tell me, what did you do with Bernard?!”
“Fetch,” Megamind said, with a cruel glint in his eye. The brain bot dashed for the wrench, yanking so hard on it that Roxanne's feet nearly left the ground.
She had lower body strength. She fought back, twisting around to throw her weight back down. It worked! The brain bot struggled with her and flew in a wild arc. Unwilling to let go of the wrench, it was more trapped than she was. She swung around, and smashed it into a big steel... something... with buttons... to her right.
When she checked where Megamind had been, Bernard was there instead. Panting, a little scuffed looking, but his eyes were wide with adrenaline.
“You fought him off? Go Bernard!” With one last shake, Roxanne dislodged the brain bot. She reached down to grab Bernard's hand as she ran past. “Come on, run!”
“You don't have to tell me twice,” he said, panting as he kept up with her.
She made straight for the exit, pushing the door open wide and nearly leaping through. Only Bernard shouting “No, don't!” and his hand clutching at her wrist was the only thing that kept her alive.
A pit fell away from the door into a glittering pit of alligators. The only thing her mind could process was the disco ball and the loud music, before Bernard yanked her back to safety. She grabbed his arm. Her blood was moving quicker than it had in a long time. Her heart was racing.
“Bernard! You were right about that door being exciting!”
He turned without really listening to her. “This way!”
She let him pull her along, and then they were running side by side, past some scaffolding and pipes. The brain bots were chasing right behind them. They passed through an archway, and then things started to look familiar. This was the way they'd come in. And there, she'd seen it before: a table full of dynamite. Probably the leftovers from blowing up the museum. She grabbed a stick, said “Hah!” and raised it to the exposed wires on the underside of a brain-bot, using the spark to ignite the fuse.
In some ways, her experience as a nearly professional full-time kidnap victim paid off. Megamind had used the same trick himself, to escape Metro Man's justice only three years before. Had it really been three years?
Bernard was a little freaked; it was probably the adrenaline. She threw the dynamite. They ran for it, everything exploding behind them. Roxanne's blood sung in her veins. She'd never done that before. She'd never had the luxury of taking action. Finally, she had gone into Megamind's lair, she'd faced him, and she'd blown his things up, and she'd made it out alive.
She'd skinned her hands a little, but wow. They'd made it out of there. They hadn't been followed. She'd had a real breakthrough, getting those pictures of Megamind's plans. She'd saved Bernard, and he'd saved her right back. A real give and take. A partnership of equals. He hadn't just shown up to save her, he'd shown up to share the journey with her. She caught her breath; she couldn't look away from him.
That energy of his. That curiosity. An archivist and a journalist. Like two sides of the same coin, really. Yin and yang. Someone she could talk to. Someone who understood her.
“Oh!” Bernard turned back, and Roxanne followed his gaze. The billowing smoke. Success!
She caught her breath. “Wow, that was really exciting.”
“Yeah.” He was staring at her in awe, looked as awake and alive as she felt inside.
“You were very strong in there.” She hadn't known he'd had it in him, really.
“I've never seen anyone but Metro Man stand up to him like that.” Had she finally found the only other person in Metro City who wasn't prepared to take things lying down?
“Roxanne, what are you doing? Are we going to take this shot, or what?”
Hal. He was swinging his camera around and looking unhappily at Bernard. Well, Hal could just go suck it. He was babbling about how he'd been totally about to go look for her, but she really couldn't care less. Could Hal be any more embarrassing?
“Wow, brave one, isn't he?” Bernard's sarcasm made her chest shake with silent laughter.
Hal frowned. “Who are you?”
“Oh, thi... this is Bernard. He's my partner.” In crime. Investigating buddies. Action hero squadmates. Yeah, okay. Roxanne was very glad that she knew when to keep her mouth shut.
“Partner?!" Hal wasn't surprised; he was upset. One more of those little hints, along with the way he managed to look down his nose at somebody who was taller than him, that there was something unprofessional about his approach to professional relationships.
“Yes. Yes. Partner.” Bernard sounded delighted. Hal was saying something, and she knew she should go and get on with her work, but she didn't want to. She didn't want to leave this moment behind her. She had to go, right then, or she never would.
“I'd better take him home. Thanks again, Bernard.”
She had to do something. She couldn't just walk away. She couldn't be all ‘crazy single lady’ and then just ask him to stay by her side forever. He probably had things to do. But, she wanted to... she was wrapping her arms around him before she let herself over-think it. He smelled of gunpowder and burning hair, and alligator pits, and leather and dirt and sweat. He hugged her back, kind of. She pulled back before it got too creepy desperate, and punched him on the shoulder.
“I'll call you tomorrow, partner.”
“Yeah, okay, I'd like that.”
She showered when she got home, plugged her camera into her laptop, and filled her espresso maker, putting it on the hot-plate. She'd get a good head-start on the pictures, and hopefully by the time she got in to work the next morning, she'd have some idea of what to dig for. If she could put her mind to it, she'd be able to figure out what Megamind wanted from Metro City. Once she understood that, she'd be able to change things.
She stared at the images for a good few hours, but her laptop screen just wasn't big enough. Even compositing the images together was a bit of a waste of time. She chose another method. She drained the cold dregs of her coffee with a wince, and dumped her mug in the sink. She grabbed her bag of Fair Trade Colombian beans and headed out the door. The $2 shop on the corner near the station didn't have an EFTPOS machine, but she bet her lucky stars they'd be willing to barter.
As it turned out, five hundred grams of Colombia's finest ethical coffee got her the mother load. No less than six balls of red string, two huge multi-packs of office supplies that included enough bull-clips, paperclips, and post-it notes, flags, and other oddly shaped tags to last the rest of her life. Notepaper and printer paper. A jar of Nescafe instant, shudder, and a ten-pack of instant noodles.
She didn't need any pens, as she tended to accidentally bring them home from work. A terrible habit, but a useful one. She was fueled by pure caffeine and residual adrenaline, by fear for her life and the lives of others, and a desperate fury that the roasters on Main street wouldn't be getting any more shipments in until the banks re-opened.
At three in the morning, she broke. She had an apartment full of string, a stiff neck, and no idea what Megamind was planning. The notes she'd copied based on the photographs seemed to tell a story of existential angst and 90s film homages. It had to be some kind of a code. He had a flair for the theatrical, so she could assume that whatever it was, it was going to be big. The reddish colour scheme didn't reassure her. Red could be fire, or blood, or any kind of aggression. Compared to his previous cool and collected blue, it felt wrong. Killing a person could change you. Before Metro man’s death, Megamind had never really harmed anyone, and now that the boundary had been crossed, she feared that there was no going back. She hoped against hope that it wasn't too late to stop him.
When she woke up the next morning, it was ten. She panicked. Work! She ran around the apartment, tripping over a sheaf of printer paper, stubbing her toe, swearing. She collapsed in disgust when she saw the jar of Nescafe sitting on her kitchen counter. She blinked blearily at herself in the bathroom mirror, and realised that her alarm clock hadn't gone off, because it was a Saturday.
Well, Bernard was an expert, right? She picked up her phone and texted him. It was time to hit the books, and she could use a friend in dark times like these.