One more stop at the E88-run furniture place, and I walked out with the most comfortable leather reading chair I could find. After that, a stripped-down car I found had pedals and a few other useful bits. It only took a few minutes to do an installation, and the Egg Mobile 1 was complete.
Applauding myself and my Badniks, I climbed aboard and had the Crabmeats pull the support framework out of place. I braced myself on instinct for a moment, afraid that the Egg Mobile would drop and hit the floor, but we stayed in the air. Grinning, I did a quick loop around the main floor I had been using as my lab.
Everything was working as planned, which was absolutely unsurprising. I am a genius, after all. I ate my remaining snacks, and then set to work on building a module for the wagon. The magnetic interface that made up the bottom of the Egg Mobile was the greatest strike of genius, if I said so myself. And I did! The smooth surface has a strong magnetic field that the Egg Mobile's AI- well, it wasn't too different from the Badnik's AI, but it was harder to define a personality without a face -could control with absolute precision. An electronic held against it could be accessed as if I had connected to it with a jack. It could also control the movements of precise machinery as long as the key moving parts were made of magnetic material like iron. I could essentially plug it into just about anything. It also served as a brute-force magnet when I wanted it to. Able to carry a large amount of weight with the selectively applied magnetic force alone!
Carving out a semi-spherical section of the wagon's iron roof was enough, as well as a switch that connected to the lock on the door of the wagon. With little effort, I could simply fly over something, and then tip the wagon out over them. Dropping Badniks from above, or perhaps some kind of toxic sludge, or bombs! Ideas to work on later.
I itched to go for a test flight, but I wasn't sure where to go. All in all, the last... huh, two days, man time flies when you're having fun! The last two days had been hectic, a blur of moving from one necessity to another. Saving Moto Bug's life, escaping safely, finding a safe place to bunker down, and building and fueling something capable of protecting myself, in that order.
I should probably talk to Dad, he's probably been worried sick-
Two days ago.
"What's that alarm?"
"Sir, please remain calm. The Protectorate and PRT are sure to handle it. "
Danny tried to do just that, but when Armsmaster got on the intercom and began repeating, or perhaps made a recording and set it to loop, that "there is a hostile Tinker-Mover-Master on the Rig. Please apprehend her if possible. She is a tall girl with brown hair, riding a dangerous tinker-tech vehicle. I repeat, there is a hostile-"
Danny hadn't exactly panicked, but life for the PRT agent next to him got significantly worse for the next half-hour or so, until the warnings switched to an automated "Rig Force-Field has been compromised. Retreat to the safe rooms immediately. Brace for impact." no impact came, obviously, the recording was made with the assumption that something trying to get into the force field had managed to break through, rather than something inside trying to push out. Something Taylor, evidently, decided to do.
He was torn between fury and intense worry. Why had his daughter done this? What had the Protectorate done to her? What had she done to the protectorate? How in the hell did his little girl take down their force field? She was brought in because she jury-rigged a joy buzzer for God's sake!
When things calmed down, Armsmaster personally gave his explanation, which smelled to Danny like bullshit. He didn't think the leader of the local Protectorate was lying to him, exactly, but the way he said it- "she claimed to be unaware of a method to deactivate her machine. I offered my assistance in doing so, at which point she began to irrationally lash out, audibly refused to cooperate, and then promptly began wielding her weapon against myself and other members of the Protectorate and PRT staff, and made attempts to steal classified equipment and tamper with PRT property-" Oh sure, a lot of that probably happened, technically, but Armsmaster was leaving out a lot of whys and hows.
Taylor had decided that it was necessary to break free by force... and she had the wits and the ability to actually do it. Because of the lack of details, he was stuck with an unfortunate image of his daughter frolicking through the base, armed with nothing but a joy buzzer on every finger as she zapped everyone she came across.
But how she managed to take down the force field and do that to Armsmaster's breastplate, Danny had no idea. And the Protectorate weren't intent on giving him any clues. As it was, they had eventually just sent him home, telling him they'd keep an eye out for his daughter, and to inform them if she called so they could... what? Arrest her? Apprehend her? Get her to a therapist? Get Danny to a therapist?
Actually, now that he thought about it, therapists for everyone. That seemed like a pretty good idea. Maybe he could find some way to get the PRT to pay for it, too, seeing as they caused half this bullshit.
But it brought up an important question, what was he actually going to do if Taylor came back- when. What would he do when Taylor came back? Try and get her to talk to them? He didn't like the idea of her being on the run, and he wasn't sure if he could support her if she decided to turn to crime...
When the telephone began ringing, Danny didn't hesitate to pick it up. There had been a number of moments in the day where he had been disappointed, but finally, he was rewarded with his daughter's cheery voice.
"Hey Dad! Sorry for, uh, running out on you like that, but I ensure you, it was for a very important reason!"
"Taylor! Where have you been, are you alright, what happened, do you need me to come get you-"
"No! No, no, no, I'm fine. Really! The last two days have been good for me, actually. Quite productive, quite cathartic! I uh, well. Hm."
"Where are you? Can you come home? Do you need me to come to you?"
"I... it'd be easier if you came to me, I think."
When Dad arrived, I was there at the entrance waiting for him. My red coat on, but the beaglepuss folded in my pocket. Honestly, that thing was a hassle to wear, but it was truthfully growing on me.
When I caught myself in the mirror occasionally, I have to say, my appearance was a striking one! White insulated gloves (stolen from Armsmaster), bright red coat with gleaming golden buttons dotting down the center on both sides, matching bright red undershirt, jeans, a big pink nose and a bushy black mustache, and two pairs of glasses, the fake over my real ones.
I... had a lot of self-image problems. Before at least. I liked my hair, but not much else. Even after I was awakened to the greatness that is the current me, I really just thought of myself as a brain in an unfortunately designed but ultimately unimportant flesh suit. But now... The girl in that mirror was colorful, lanky, smiling wide and looking ridiculous, yet utterly confident. Even dressed like a clown, I felt stronger and more respected than ever! More respectable, even. It was a look, a look all my own. One that screamed 'Parahuman', one that screamed 'Fun', one that screamed 'I don't care what you think of me!'
I loved it.
I think I'd be keeping it. Or at least, keeping the general aesthetic. The mustache tickled my lip a bit, but it was really a necessary part of the costume, wasn't it? Perhaps if I made it stick out to the sides? Hmmmm.
Oh yes! Dad! Luckily I saw him from a distance, so my inner monologue didn't happen while he was awkwardly standing in front of me. I begin walking up to him, and I throw my arms around him when he's close enough. Let's see... thirty-seven, thirty-eight, there we go. I pull back, and flash him a brilliant smile. "Taylor, I'm so glad to see you." he said, looking me up and down, "Uh. Are you a pirate now?"
"Um... kind of? I most liked the red and gold and flowing cape-kinda-jacket. I'll be making something better pretty soon."
He nods, and looks around awkwardly at the aging and dead buildings, the broken windows, the garbage on the streets. He's not too comfortable around here.
"Do you want to come in?" I ask, and he nods, and I hold the door open for him. He looks around, blinks, and whips his head back towards the Egg Mobile One, which was floating in the center of the room. Moto Bug and the three Crabmeats were standing at attention nearby, and when they moved, his attention was drawn to them.
"Yes. Dad, this is Egg Mobile One, Moto Bug, as well as Crabmeats One, Three, and Four. They're my Badniks."
"Well, they're my minions, and I was trying to find a good name for them, and I just kind of stumbled over the word 'Beatnik' in my head. You know, a 'dangerous and fun' vibe? But they weren't beatniks, not really, they're robots. They can't do drugs, or hitchhike, or play loud music, so they aren't beatniks, but I liked the word, and I thought, hey! I'm a supervillain, so, Badniks?"
I didn't especially like the way he flinched at 'supervillain'.
"I had to get out of there, I'm sorry Dad. But they wanted to kill Moto Bug. He's a person- he's a robot, too, but he's still smarter than a chimpanzee and he's loyal, and he's mine. He's my first real invention, the first thing I've made I could be truly proud of. I didn't know they were going to try and make me kill him before I made him, or I would have made something else, and kept going along with the Protectorate... even though, really, Armsmaster is a dick."
"I... I can see why you feel like that. But, they're people?"
"I mean, kind of? Moto Bug is smarter than the Crabmeats, they're basically dog-level intelligence, I think. I didn't have the same resources and I kind of made them in a hurry. And Egg Mobile is definitely intelligent, but it's a more robotty-robot. No real personality or emotions there, I'm pretty sure, but a very sophisticated thinking engine absolutely loyal to moi."
"And... you made this all in the last two days?" he asked, utterly dumbfounded.
"Yes! Think of what I could do with some actual money, huh?"
"Did you... steal all the supplies for them?"
"Technically. Most of its just scrap from the boat graveyard and abandoned stuff around here."
"I see." he looks at the Badniks, and then back to me, "Well. I don't really know what to say. Are you coming back home?"
"Probably not for a while." I say, "I'm probably labeled as a supervillain right now, and it'll take a while before I'd feel safe about letting that stuff get back to you."
"It'll take a while? Isn't that kind of thing something that'll stick for life?"
"Oh, I won't be considered a villain forever! Dad, I've decided that I'm going to change the world- ever since the locker, the world's just... looked so much more beautiful! There's so much wasted opportunity! And I'm going to take advantage of it! I'm going to revitalize the city, revitalize the way people live their lives!"
Dad smiled at that, "Well, I'm glad to hear you're looking at things differently now. You once told me that you were a cynic." he said, "that life is far more likely to fall short of expectations than meet them. Seems like you're more optimistic now, huh?"
I smile widely, "Absolutely! I mean, just look what I've done in two days, without a penny to my name! I mean, sure, I did some minor shoplifting, but I already know how I'm going to make it up to the city."
"What is the most profitable area of Brockton Bay?"
"I'm going to blow it out of the water!" his smile vanished instantly, "Not literally! Not literally, sheesh. I mean in terms of popularity, it's the area where the few tourists go. And why did people start going there to begin with? The Rig! People want to see the Protectorate, they want to see the fancy headquarters that occasionally appears in the cartoons! They want to see the towers, they want to see the Protectorate rushing out of it, down their invisible road, and into the city off to fight crime! That's what the draw was. Cape tourism!"
Dad nodded along, but looked suspicious.
"Now. We can both agree that Brockton Bay is ugly as sin, right? Not an ounce of life or color or activity. Drab, drab, drab, abandoned abandoned abandoned! If a zombie was a city, it would be good ol' BB! So! How do I best combine Cape tourism, with improving the soul-sucking nature of the town?"
He stared at me for several seconds, before raising a finger, "Am... am I supposed to answer?"
He thought about it for a second, "It has to be more complicated than you using robots to paint the town."
"I'm going to open an amusement park!"
"...That's not a direction I would have gone with."
"Look, amusement parks attract tourists, they're huge, they're colorful, they're lively! People come to park to have fun, and then when they relax they look at the rest of the city! More than that, it'll be the only tinker-made amusement park in the world! People will come just for the novelty value! And think of the jobs, I'll be employing thousands of people by the end of this!" I throw my hands open, "I think this can save Brockton Bay, I really do! Not to mention, it'll make me plenty of money. With the park making money for me, I'll be able to focus on building something great!"
"Well... it's certainly an idea." he said, "But where did it come from?"
"I wanted to cover this city with giant colorful fun machines." I said, "It felt like the natural first step."
"But until then... you'll be a supervillain?"
"I'm fifteen." I say, "I don't have many legitimate ways of making money. I'm thinking... easier to ask forgiveness than permission?"
"So, what, just build your amusement park first, and then try to get legally allowed to run it?" he asked, "It seems difficult."
"Yes, but, no. I was actually planning on proposing my plan to the mayor first, gauge the reaction and understanding of it, and then work from there. If he doesn't want to offer any help, then I'll start making plans, securing resources, on my own. Then I'll go back to him with my plans." I grin evilly, "And if the fool still doesn't accept my genius, I'll build anyway! At that point, my Badniks will be so numerous and powerful I'll be able to handle all comers! And after the park is done, what is he going to do, deny tourists the right to see it? Ohohoho! I'll build teleporters in other countries, if need be!"
Dad was staring at me again, and I giggled, "I'm not going to let anything stop me."
"I suppose not. Just... promise to be careful? If you ever need help, I'm just a call away."
I nod, smiling, "Don't worry Dad."
"And about the Mayor."
Danny smiled a little savagely, "Don't be afraid to give him hell. He's a stubborn son of a bitch who won't want to give you a dime."
I laugh, "...Want me to fly you home? I can take the car, too. If the Protectorate asks, you can say that you tried to get me to come home, and I forcefully escorted you back."
"Does... what did you call it, the Eggmobile really fly?"
"Well it's not exactly touching the ground, is it?" I ask, smirking.
"No, but have you tested it? Could it carry the car?"
"Of course I've tested it!" I lied, "Come on, let's fly together."
He looked nervous, but he climbed in anyway.
The Crabmeats pushed open the doors, and I climbed in. Dad climbed in after me. It's a good thing that I inherited my stick-like physique from him, or we'd have trouble fitting both of us in at once. Leaning back on a leather chair, my foot hit the pedals, my hands on the wheel, and we hovered out of my headquarters.
Dad whistled, as we rose higher, higher into the air. "I'll have to think of something besides a car to buy you when you turn eighteen, huh?"
"Hahaha! By the time I'm eighteen, I'll probably have made gasoline obsolete worldwide!"
The Egg Mobile hovered over Dad's car, and after a tense moment, managed to grab the whole thing with magnetism without damaging it. We lifted into the air, and floated down the street. We could have gone faster, a lot faster, but I was nervous about the car falling. That, and I wanted to take my time and savor the moment.
Dad and the car safely at home, I activate Egg Mobile's radio. "Crabmeat One and Three, the two of you will guard the headquarters. Inform the Egg Mobile or Moto Bug if anything has gone wrong. Crabmeat Four, climb onto Moto Bug. Moto Bug, follow us. We're going to go meet the mayor."
I take off at full speed for the first time and it is delightful!
I'll admit, the Egg Mobile isn't particularly aerodynamic, so there's quite a bit of resistance when we're pushing it, but all the same, it's a good pressure. I have to go more-or-less by memory to find the mayor's office- I really need to get a connection to the internet on here, make everything so much more convenient, -but I arrive without much trouble. I'm not exactly welcomed in when I float over. People crowd to the windows, staring at me and my flying machine, and others flee the building through the bottom entrance. "Hello everyone! I'd like to speak to the mayor about a proposal I have!"
"How long til' the Protectorate get here?"
"The Empire is acting up across town, and most of them went over there to try and moderate the damage. The Wards and at least one of the Protectorate should only be a few minutes, however."
"The Wards- what are they going to do, that lunatic has some kind of- hovercraft. That thing, that thing on the front of it, the bulb or whatever, that's a death ray. I'm positive it is." the mayor muttered. "Has she made any demands?"
"Only that she wants you to hear a proposal."
"... How many minutes out?"
"The PRT agent didn't say. Just 'a few'."
"Any word from my son?"
"It went straight to messages."
"Damn it. Alright, someone find me a megaphone." receiving his megaphone, he approached the window, lowering it, "Alright, now, let's all just be calm here. No guns, no explosives, or death rays. What's this proposal?"
"I'm an extremely gifted Tinker." the girl wearing a beaglepuss on top of captain hook cosplay announced from her flying- well not saucer, but maybe a cup, "And it has occurred to me that Brockton Bay is a city in decline. It's dead, lifeless, festering. Gangs come in, the homeless increase, the economy keeps going down. The bay is clogged with wrecked ships and its killed the docks and our shipping industry. I can help with that. More than that, I can make this city very, very profitable, and put us on the map globally!"
The mayor nodded along, because he didn't want to make the girl with a death ray mad, even if she was constantly badmouthing his city, and him, the whole time.
"The only area doing well, the only business that seems to be booming is Cape Tourism! People come to the Boardwalk to look at the Rig and get glimpses of the Protectorate. Brockton Bay is one of the highest Cape-dense cities in America. We capitalize on that, we hit things big time! My proposal is- the world's first Tinker-made amusement park! Everything about it would scream Cape! People would come around the world to enjoy the fun and festivities and see what riding on mad science looks like!"
Roy Christner sighed. Everyone wants money from him, everyone wants their own little slice of the bay. Even wackos like this, "Well... you bring up some interesting points-" he stalled, "Er, what did you say your name was?"
"Oh! Of course its-" the girl froze, and looked surprised at herself, "I haven't picked one out yet... let's see, how about... Robotnik?"
"That's uh... that's something." the mayor said, "But the thing is, where would we even put an amusement park? Brockton Bay is an old city. Everything's been developed. If we want to build anything new, something would have to get torn down."
"The boat graveyard! I'll open up the bay, free up shipping again, and it'll be a wonderful seaside attraction!"
The mayor paled, "But- but- that'd cost millions! It'd upset the gangs, you can't possibly expect me to sign off on something like this!"
"Eh, a girl had to try! I'll workshop it, and come back to you in say- two weeks?" I grin. "Now, I suppose I'll be off, I have plans to make!"
I turn the Egg Mobile away from the mayor, when I take notice of the gathering PRT vans. And what else spills out of one of them but the Wards! On the green below, Moto Bug and Crabmeat are looking nervously at the sudden small army that seems to have materialized behind my back.
"Egg Mobile! Why didn't you warn me!?" I demanded of my vehicle. Taking a moment to remember none of my current Badniks could talk. "Ah well. Wards! How nice to meet you! I was just leaving!"
One of them- a girl dressed in all-black, raised her crossbow towards me. I can't help but smile, "A crossbow, really? Why not try to stop my hovercraft with a slingshot while you're at it." the way her body tenses feels ugly and familiar.