Challenge #02296-F106: Some ImprovementssteemCreated with Sketch.

in fiction •  7 months ago 

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You are a therapist who insists that all are welcome. This is why you now know the identities of both heroes and villains. -- Anon Guest

Y'know, for a therapist, I'm... kind of unobservant. I mean, sure, I know I can't help everyone, but I listen well and I try my best, so it kind of works out. That, and I take doctor-patient confidentiality very seriously. I'm one of the few people who knows who Captain Magnificent is when he's not in that ridiculously sculpted suit.

I... also happen to know who Master Malevolent is. Sometimes, they're even booked for the same day. They pass each other by in the waiting room and barely say 'boo' to each other. So mild mannered, so cool that butter wouldn't melt in their mouths. But that's not what this is about.

What I've noticed are... safety zones. Master Malevolent doesn't hit businesses or city features where I'm likely to do business, carry out my routines, or otherwise live my life. Similarly, Captain Magnificent steers his Super Battles away from the same zone. People noticed before I did. What I noticed where the huge numbers of people sub-letting, and the sudden rise of Megarise complexes where business and residences merged.

They call them Arks, since they contain just about everything everyone wants to keep safe, and I'm currently pondering moving into one. They're fully integrated complexes with indoor parks, amenities, facilities... everything. Frankly, it would be nice to live in an environmentally sensitive building with a park literally right next door, and edible forests to visit for seasonal fruits and vegetables.

It was when I looked over the new city map that I saw it. Everyone was moving into the districts where I lived and worked. There were large clumps of movement into the area where I routinely jogged to keep fit. There were clusters close to where I lived. There was a thin band along the bus route I took to my office, and another cluster where I worked.

The entire city had noticed that I was, in essence, good luck. Their businesses, their livelihoods, their friends, family, pets... everything was safe if it was around me.

Simply because I helped heroes. Simply because I assisted villains with their problems.

Something else had to be done.

It wasn't enough that I helped them with their issues. I had to resolve the conflict between the two. So I became a messenger of sorts.

"Let's talk about the ethics of the stock market," I attempted to Captain Magnificent. "Why do you think trading in shares needs to be protected?"

"They're a legitimate business. All legitimate businesses need to be protected."

"They may be legitimate, but they're not... good. In order to make share prices attractive to investors, other businesses exploit their employees. Did you know that productivity has risen over three hundred percent in my lifetime, but wages have only increased by five? It's getting to the point where people can't afford to live."

"They..." Captain Magnificent stumbled. I knew what he'd been about to say, They should work harder for their keep, but I'd already stated how much productivity was already underway. "They do?"

"The price of Insulin alone has skyrocketed to the point where one ounce is more valuable than high-market jewellery. Don't you think that's more than unfair, what with more people suffering diabetes?"

At least he walked away thinking. The very next time Captain Magnificent saved a wealthy person from Master Malevolent, the thanks he required was a permanent drop in insulin prices. Fifty percent, he said.

To Master Malevolent, I said, "We can't fix everything with violence. I know it's tempting, but there are other ways to express your disappointment. Besides, destroying infrastructure only encourages the rich to cry poor and demand even more money from an economy that can't support them."

"That is true," he nodded. "But I feel trapped by circumstances. If I try anything too ornate, Captain Sparkly-pants--" his name for Captain Magnificent, "--is going to zoom in and nearly smash my head."

"Have you considered... something more subtle," I had been thinking about this for some time, ever since the brochures started going around for the new Arks. "You have the capital and resources ready to build a fully-eco Ark. Reclaimed materials, green energy, recycled materials, the entire nine yards. Hell, you could even pave the roads with that remastered plastic waste."

"I... don't see where this is going..."

"What you do is sell overpriced lofts to the rich - under lease - and give away others to those who can't afford them for free. Or, if you're economically minded, for the low, low cost of assisting with the running of the facilities. Offer things that no other Arks have so that it seems exclusive and desired..."

"Diamond buttons on the express elevator?" he said with clear sarcasm. "Magnetic keycards that charge for egress? Made of gold?"

"Exactly. Make them think they're getting everything and charge them everything at the same time. Make them want it so hard that they won't care about owning that third yacht. Chip away at their holdings while you're at it. Surely they don't really need a handful of shares in whatever. Surely they don't really need that resort in Switzerland. They can ski in the artificial snow hills, with the best medicine available, should they take one of the slopes a little too hard..."

Light dawned. "Oh. Oh, that is nearly evil. I'm impressed."

"Meanwhile, they're funding all the subsequent Arks, and making certain everyone else is getting fully equal treatment as should be their rights. Homes big enough to be comfortable in, medicine at affordable prices because your factories make them so, and fair wages in those factories."

He laughed, "Are you trying to turn me good again?"

I said, "I'm... trying to find other ways to even the balance. If you want keep Captain Sparkle-pants occupied, may I suggest a little vandalism for those old Civil War monuments?"

"I know just the ones you mean," he left the room laughing. He really should watch that. Even disguised as a civilian, he laughs just like Master Malevolent.

[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / coffeekai]

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