Previously: A Rooftop Confession (Part One)
“Shouldn’t we wait for the others?” said The Great Hunter.
“Sure, okay,” said Sky Lord.
Later, the Great Hunter would remember this moment, the way that Sky Lord had sat on the edge of the rooftop, dangling his feet over, pretending to wait, as if he had no idea that the others weren’t coming. It would be one more thing — a smaller thing in the scheme of things, certainly, but one more thing all the same — that the Great Hunter would hold against him.
But that would be later.
For now, he said, “Would you like some, ah, tea? I’ve got tea. I could make coffee, as well.” Even after all these years, he was not accustomed to one-on-one socialization with the most powerful known being in the universe. He figured that a trip to the kitchen might keep him out of Sky Lord’s company until somebody else, some leavening influence, like Beast Mistress, maybe, could arrive. She had a nice patter. She kept things light.
“Oh no,” said Sky Lord. “I’m good.” He casually hovered away from the edge of the building, like a swimmer pushing off the side of a swimming pool. “As a matter of fact, though, while we’re alone, there’s some stuff I wanted to discuss,” he said.
Oh goodie, thought the Great Hunter.
The last time that Sky Lord had had “something to discuss” with him, he had ended up taking on the responsibility of running the supervillain prison and Execution Chamber. Which, ultimately, had led him to his current predicament. Though Sky Lord was not any kind of official authority figure, he had taken it upon himself to decide who, in the world of Bledsoe crimebusting, did what.. It was like he was arranging the lot of them on a playing field or a chess board, one that only he, himself, was able, apparently, to see.
“Do tell,” said the Great Hunter. “I love our little chit-chats.”
Sky Lord put his arms above his head, bent them at the elbow to the left. He turned a slow cartwheel in that direction. He bent his arms to the right. He turned a slow cartwheel to the right. This was the kind of thing he did. He never quite seemed to be paying attention, when he was at his most intensely manipulative. He stopped himself, upside down, hovering face to face in front of the Great Hunter.
“Sorry,” he said.
He righted himself, but stayed in the air, hovering over the edge of the building.
“I was going to talk to you about this snake-boy over here.”
The Great Hunter walked over to where the two boys lay unconscious on his rooftop. “Yes. I was curious as to why you brought one with you.”
Sky Lord hovered behind him, floating on his back.
“How’s your son?” said the Great Hunter.
“Oh. He’ll be fine. I’ll pop him into a new body, good as new, when we get home. Anyway, this Snake-Boy.” Sky Lord landed beside The Great Hunter. “He saved my son’s life — for some reason. Wasted effort, because the body had pretty much had it, but all the same. I looked into his soul. I saw it all. He stood up to the other snake-boys and protected my son while he was down.”
Sky Lord looked deeply into the Great Hunter’s eyes, attempting to use his super-sincerity power, the Great Hunter imagined. Or would that be his super-insincerity power?
“He’s not like all the other snake-boys.”
The Great Hunter crossed his arms, rubbed his mustache with thumb and forefinger. “Hm. Yes. Well. SerpenTerrorist has sent us defectives before …” He was stalling for time, to see where Sky Lord was going with this conversational line. It had always been Sky Lord, in the past, who insisted on executing the defective, non-evil snake-boys, on the grounds that they were likely sleeper agents, or, at the very least, inhuman and soulless and therefore, inevitably, someday, dangerous, regardless of their apparent lack of specific SerpenTerrorist-related programming.
“No. This is different,” said Sky Lord. “I mean, more different than the others have been. He’s not just not-evil. He’s actively good.” He floated up high into the air again, as he often did when he got excited. He wiggled his toes. He cracked his knuckles. “I looked into his soul, don’t you see?” He paused. He smiled. He opened his arms wide, as if he were about to embrace his long-lost best friend. He turned a back-flip. “That means he has one. Right?”
When The Great Hunter didn’t respond, Sky Lord dropped himself back down onto the roof, landing on his buttocks and hands, gently. He shrugged. He looked at a fingernail on his left hand. “Also, it looks like his cellular structure is holding up better than most of the SerpenTerrorist’s clones do, even after several hours of life, so …”
“Oh, I see now. That makes sense.” The Great Hunter started to walk to the door that led downstairs. “You want to figure out why, and then maybe apply that answer to your son’s clones. I get it. Good. I’ll find a place for him in the prison.” A hidden agenda that actually made sense struck him as a relief.
Sky Lord super-speedily blocked his way.
“Actually, I was thinking maybe he could be your sidekick,” he said. “I wasn’t lying about the other stuff. He really is kind of heroic. I really was kind of impressed.”
There was some other game afoot, then. Damn.
“I’ve got a big heart,” replied Sky Lord. “I’m a softie. People don’t know. Besides –” and here his eyes (the visible two) tightened. “It’ll be good practice for you, to keep from drinking his blood, if you’re really planning to swear off the sauce.”