Inertia

“What?” Karthik shouted over the loud sound of the bomb that had exploded the building nearby.

“I am here to protect you?” The man said with a grin as he took another bomb out from his jacket to throw.

A.. A.. Aren’t you the guy who killed the US president?”

“Well, you are more important than the president.” The man winked at him as he threw the bomb at another building.

“There were people in there. You just killed them all.” Karthik was stunned. He looked around him and saw destruction everywhere. This man — Bombstray, was throwing bombs indiscriminately at everything around. It is said that his body created bombs continuously. Karthik could see Infinite man and ZeroG trying to protect the people from Bomb-stray’s attack. It all made sense except for the part where it all started.

“So, you have to kill me?” Karthik asked them both while looking from Infinite man to ZeroG.

“Yes. Unfortunately. There is no other way.” ZeroG said with sympathy. He was in his 50s and had a son almost of the same age as Karthik. Infinite Man was almost of the same age as Karthik.

Karthik looked at the figurines of Infinite Man and ZeroG near his bed and sniffed a little. They were his heroes. ZeroG was the strongest person on the earth. He could fly, had regenerative powers and could also control metal. He had worshipped ZeroG since he could remember and now he was here to kill him.

“There must be some mistake. I am just a 21 year old ordinary guy.” Karthik voice quivered as he spoke.

“I wish there was a mista..” ZeroG began again in a fatherly voice when InfiniteMan cut him off.

“Let’s discuss this at the base. I have a feeling that we are not alone here.”

“Alright. Karthik, can you at least come with us so that we can explain this all to you in a more secure location.”

“Uh.. Ok.. But.. Is it really necessary to kill me?”

Before ZeroG could answer, the building nearby exploded.

“They sent Bombstray! I cannot believe it.” InfiniteMan said and jumped off the window to the next building.

As if on cue, the blank wall on the left started changing into a human form. Behind her, the wall was exactly as the rest of them.

Plano punched ZeroG before he could react and pushed Karthik out of the window. Bombstray caught him and started running towards the car. InfiniteMan was busy saving the people in the building but ZeroG had neutralised Plano already and was heading towards them. Bombstray threw another bomb at the nearby building and then turned to Karthik and said something.

“What?” Karthik shouted over the loud sound of the bomb that had exploded the building nearby.

— -

Karthik could not still believe what was happening. It was around 5 days since they have been moving. The villains always in pairs, took him from once hiding spot to another where another team picked him up. Some trips went silently and others were intercepted by heroes. The villains kept on changing and so did the heroes. It was a game of cat and mouse in which he was the prize. He still was confused as to feel what.

ZeroG had explained to him that somehow, he was the source of all the superpowers in the world. He was the first superhero to get his powers and he got them on Karthik’s birthday. They have been unable to trace any other individual with older timestamp. Also, everyone got their powers when they were within 200 kms of where Karthik was.

“Guess I should not have traveled so much during my teens.” Mused Karthik.

They did not know how the individuals got the power or the criteria of choice but they were sure that everything got linked to me. They were also certain that Karthik’s death would immediately remove all the powers as well. Oracle had told them so. He had a crush on her.

At the moment, Karthik hated Oracle. She was never wrong.

He did not want to die but he could not deny that these powers had increased the number of deaths in the world by a huge factor. He hated the villains and wanted them to lose all their powers but then the heroes would lose them too. And not to mention the small issue of him being dead.

“Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place.” Karthik said out loud to let out the frustration.

“Shut up, imbecile.” J said sneering at him. “Because of you, I could not have sex for months. At least let me get some sleep.” He was known for shape shifting. No one knew his real name and along with Plano, they were the shapeshifting couple.

Apparently Plano had been spying on Karthik for sometimes as the villains had a similar hunch as the heroes.

“No problem. Sleep well.”

“Your sleeping days are over hon. We are here.” Plano said from the driving seat.

“Who’s the next villain?” Karthik asked. Superpowers had always excited him and he was curious to know what powers he had inadvertently created.

“I will be guiding you forward.” A young girl came forward with a soothing voice. “My name is Intertia.”

Karthik was stunned. No wonder she was alone. Inertia was a legend. Only in her 20s, she was considered the most powerful villain of all time. Except for ZeroG, she had beaten all the heroes. Her rivalry with ZeroG had become of gigantic proportions. In fact, some Superhero experts had started to say that Inertia was obsessed with defeating ZeroG. A few even commented that maybe she was in love with him.

She gestured Karthik to her car and followed as if she had all the time in the world. Whereas in other such changes, the villains were looking over their shoulders, Inertia was smiling and playing something on her phone.

It was almost an hour when Karthik first spoke.

“Where are we going?”

“Took you long enough to ask. Have the other villains been hard on you?”

Karthik gulped as Inertia smiled encouragingly.

“Well, they are villains.”

“Hahaha… Ouch! I wish the community wasn’t as barbaric. Just because you break the law doesn’t mean you have to be rude.” Inertia said in a musical voice.

“You… are nice.” Karthik said surprised.

“Thanks. No, I am not. Although, I have never killed anyone. I was raised by good folks. My father always said that how you treat people is a reflection on how you are.”

“Then how come you became a villain?”

“Timing!” Inertia said and winked at Karthik.

Karthik remained silent for a few minutes but could not control himself.

“Tell me about yourself?”

“What? Why?”

“Because I do not understand. You are too good to be a villain.”

“Aww.. I am not the only one. You won’t believe but Bombstray donates to WWF anonymously. He is a bag of mush for animals. And Stone cries at the end of Titanic everytime he sees it. Villains are humans too.”

“Still. Doesn’t your father stops you?”

Inertia smiled sadly.

“My mother asks me to stop sometimes. My father died around 22 years back. Maybe if he was alive, I would not be like this.”

“Oh.. I am sorry. You must be really young when he died.”

“Yeah. I was around 15 years old.”

“Wait! You are 37! I thought you were my age.”

“I age slowly. Still, I WAS young when my dad died.”

“Of course. I am sorry. How did it happen?”

“Murdered in the alley. Batman style.” Inertia said trying to make a joke about it while wiping a tear off her eye.

Karthik remained silent for the rest of the trip. They reached an abandoned warehouse. She checked her phone, typed something on it and smiled at Karthik.

“Welcome home. You are going to be here for all your life so make yourself comfortable.” Inertia said while laughing at her own joke.

“Did you found you who did this?” Karthik finally asked.

“Not until I got my powers. I had been searching for clues since the incident but once I got my powers, I was able to find the answer.”

“Who? Did you get the person?”

“Not yet! But one day. He was an ordinary guy who stabbed my father while he was drunk. On our first encounter, he told me that he was sorry for what happened. He had been repenting since he got his powers. Every time we fight, he says to me that he became a hero because of that incident. As if that changes anything.” Inertia said as tears rolled from her eyes.

“ZeroG… He killed your father.”

“Yes, and today, finally, I will get my revenge.”

“Today! How?”

“He had once put a tracker on me. I have reprogrammed it so that it gives of my location on random time intervals. ZeroG thinks it is broken but he will be tracking it nevertheless.”

“You want him to come here. You have never beaten him. How will you kill him?” Karthik asked worried. For once, he was on the side of the villains.

“I have rigged the whole place with bombs. There is enough to blow up the whole town. He won’t get out alive.”

“But he is considered immortal. Bombstray had tried to blow him up before. He would get away again.”

“Not this time.” Inertia said as ZeroG flew in the warehouse.

“Free him Inertia.” ZeroG said menacingly.

Inertia didn’t even look at ZeroG. She kept looking at Karthik and smiled.

“I like you Karthik and I am sorry.”

Before Karthik could understand, Inertia’s hand was through his body taking his heart out. The last vision his brain registered was Inertia’s sad face with a background of explosions.

***