|April 28th, 2012|
Approx. 39.76 Latitude, -70.70 Longitude, 700 feet below the surface
Aboard the Prussian Prince submarine
The steady ping of the brass plating of the Prussian Prince expanding as it gradually ascended from the depths 5 miles from the brightly glowing lights of Talos Island was like a metronome.
Each sound signified another 33 feet…he calculated the depth of the submersible vehicle by marking the passing of the metallic report. Where other’s would have synapses firing, silently relaying commands to his body to properly adjust the dials and valves controlling the ballast levels, there was instead the steady whirring and clicking of gears and the steady hiss of steam powering his every move.
Small crystals of ice delicately broke away from his body, blanketing his chair with a thin layer of frost. The chill of the air would have made his breath visible…that is, if he still drew breath. It had been many years since Gerhardt Eisenstadt had last drawn air, having made such human concerns unnecessary well over a century ago. Whatever remained of his flesh had long since decayed, replaced by the more reliable and stronger Clockwork bodies of his own design and construction. These bodies were the purest incarnation of his genius…his brilliance…the same genius that struck fear in the hearts of all who heard his name. No longer Gerhardt Eisenstadt; He was now Lord Nemesis, and his infamy spanned generations!
The story of his conquest to bring the whole of the United States of America under heel was still told in hushed tones by those who survived the national nightmare. Washington D.C., and most of the U.S., had been his, held in the palm of his enormous brass hand. The populace had been no match for his clockwork army and with their vaunted superheroes spread across the globe fighting the Second World War in Europe and Asia, they were powerless to stop him.
Until Marcus Cole.
Always Marcus Cole.
Every time Lord Nemesis was on the cusp of global domination, on the verge of his final victory, ready to take his rightful place, Marcus Cole…no…Statesman would foil his grand design. There were others over the years, so many others, but it always came back to Statesman. The man was unkillable, not for a lack of trying. Of course, this made the notion that one as simple as Darrin Wade could succeed where he had failed…inconceivable. The theft of Rularuu’s powers was simply adding insult to injury.
It had been tempting to join the Heroes and “Villains” (there was after all only one true villain) in their fight against Rula-Wade. The very presumption that a fool such as Wade had the right to rob Lord Nemesis of his victory…well…This was his victory. He was to be the one to extract the life essence from the broken and battered body of Statesman. Victory was to be his, the plot was written, it was put in motion, it was all to happen…exactly…as…he…planned.
Wade was lucky. This was the only plausible explanation. He had obviously used his obscurity and lack of being an actual threat to accomplish the improbable.
Of course this occurrence was not entirely unforeseen by Nemesis. Even something as unpredictable as Wade dispatching Statesman could not fully escape his genius plans. His robotic feet clanged across the iron floor of the Prince as he walked over to the antique filing cabinet. He delicately slid the door open, flipping through the manila folders until he came across the one he was looking for: Operation Fallen Thunder
The outer folder was dusty, the paper starting to soften and fray from the passing of time. Hand typed on a Smith-Corona typewriter decades before, the plan was simple when compared to his recent, more elaborate plots. He thumbed through the pages…yes…there it was. He would capitalize on Cole’s death (any fool would), but on a far more massive, and final, scale: He would attack all of Paragon City, spreading their defenses so thin that even the combined might of the city’s Heroes would be unable to stop his automaton army. Finally, he would avenge the humiliation he suffered in Washington D.C. so many years ago. Yes, Fallen Thunder would be the lynchpin, a catalyst for other similar plots in the unlikely event it didn’t succeed.
Gears whirred and steam hissed as his mind calculated the probabilities of success, taking into account a single possible outlying factor: Tyrant was not a consideration when the plan was originally conceived. While still a threat, calculations showed that he would soon be irrelevant. The erstwhile ruler of Praetorian Earth was quickly losing his grasp on power due to the multiple incursions of immensely powerful Incarnates (Note: Investigate probability of conquering an alternate dimension.) What was not immediately clear was the alternate Cole’s end game. His notes observed a 5.7% chance of complete surrender and a 6.33% chance of simply detonating a weapon of mass destruction over his own city. There was a significantly higher likelihood of him fighting to the death, less so the chance he would abandon his seat of power. No matter. All of these possible outcomes meshed well with his simple, yet masterful plot.
Lord Nemesis reached over to the brass intercom bell.
“Surface” he said. “Operation Fallen Thunder will commence immediately…under my direct supervision.”