No More
By Kai Faydale

Mr. Moore had a problem, well technically he had a bank statement, but the balance on the bank statement was off by a lot. A lot for normal people that is. It would take a lot more to qualify as “a lot” for Mr. Moore these days. Say the ransom of a medium size metropolitan area. Pulling that off was what got him into his current situation. Though it was a rather cushy situation complete with a theater scale movie screen attached to his second lake house lined up to be viewed from the hot tub.
As cushy as his situation was it also came with strings attached. The mayor countered his demand, the one for a lot of money, no not the one from the bank statement the one from twenty years ago with the city held hostage. Anyway the mayor offered even more money but in monthly installments which both kept with the city’s actual present budget and took away the incentive for Mr. Moore to blow though all the cash in a few months then come back to hold the city up again.
Mr. Moore accepted, got the deal witnessed, set down the mantel of supervillain and accepted a cover identity as one Nolan Moore, moved to a city outside the jurisdiction of the super league, and had his enviable lifestyle closely monitored by the a certain city where he was not welcome back. Things were going rather well, he was penduluming back towards on again in his on again off again relationship with the stalwart reporter he frequently kidnapped back in his supervillain days. They had a beautiful and savvy daughter or two, were on their second family dog, and no one has tried to incinerate Mr. Moore with heat vision in years. If only all that extra money hadn’t shown up in one of his accounts.
Technically his daughter’s college fund account, but his name was on it too, and it wasn’t like the oversight board would care. At best the old mayor would claim he was villaining again, take away his deal and lock him up (or try), at worse they would paint his daughter with the villain brush too and that could ruin her life. It’s nigh impossible to make a real go of villainy if you’re constantly being monitored before you even get started, and harder still to live as an innocent civilian with that prejudice dogging you. No Mr. Moore was going to have to take drastic steps, worse than mad scientists or top tier supers, worse than lawyers with hundred page contracts, he was going to have to sit down and have a talk with his eldest daughter.

Not right this instant of course she should still be in class. Assuming nothing had come up to bog down inbound traffic he should be able to swing by campus in time to take Zil out for an early dinner and talk to her in person. Zil was hard enough to pin down when you could keep both eyes on her, it wasn’t worth even trying over the phone.
Mr. Moore was a believer in working smarter than harder, and he was a hard worker. This lead to the development of foresight and a proclivity over planning, so he detoured by the fridge on the way to the garage checking the girl’s schedules. Zil did indeed have class now: a 200 level economics class she complained was a bore having learned most of it through dinner conversation growing up. His youngest on the other hand had her last day of art club yesterday and drama didn’t start for a week and a half. He wasn’t sure why the art club had such a short season or a season at all. I mean it wasn’t like basketball which couldn’t play in the winter, no that was indoors he must have been thinking of one of the other ball centered sports the mundanes played. Speculation on the scheduling of after school activities aside he checked in time to make sure not to leave before his youngest arrived, foresight. Which was good for her. He also grabbed her mini squirt gun from the kitchen counter, because the mailman also typically came by around this time, over planning, which was good for the mail man.
He clicked the button for the garage and grabbed the keys for the hotrod. One of those DIY kit cars he had bought to build with his youngest, though it hadn’t turned out much like the picture on the box. She said the racing stripes let it go faster and then cited examples from mad science pi-weekly. Considering the extra bits she had crammed in under the hood and all the normal necessary parts she had left out to make room for them he wasn’t going to argue about the stripes. He was considering asking for some sort of switch to turn them on and off come father’s day though, there were times for flying over the asphalt, and there were times for flying under the radar.
Leaning back against the hotrod he checked his watch and then the street, and then the list of Not Active Threats’ daily routines (the mailman was ahead of schedule again as on most schooldays). He did not see the school bus (which had a wildly fluctuating schedule based on if it had to detour around any rampages or similar shanaagans). The bushes next to the mail box quivered though so the mail man might not have lucked out entirely. A small cloud was also making its way through the mostly empty sky spiraling uneeriely in on the bushes and thus also homing in on the approaching mailtruck. Mr. Moore took aim with his squirt gun judging the arc of the thin but chilly stream of water with ample practice, hitting the bush dead center. The bush yipped and then spat out a wild-eyed Dot who scrambled helter-skelter across the yard trying to dodge subsequent streams of icy water. Mr. Moore made sure to miss a few times to reward proper evasive action and stopped once Dot reached the safety of the garage. Consistency was key.
“Bad Dot what did I say about attacking the mailman?” Mr. Moore said, even as he reached down to pat her head.
“He’ll sue us again, and there are more fun ways to spend a weekend than in court, even if they eventually dismiss the case.” His daughter Dot said, as contritely as a young mad scientist can holding an invention they haven’t gotten to test yet. “But he wouldn’t know it was me this time.”
“How is that?” Mr. Moore said, turning off the cooling fins on the squirt gun to stow it.
“I was just going to slip this on the back of his truck,” Dot said, holding up a tangle of pip cleaner, pink cotton balls and a nigh-impenetrable coating of Christmassy lights. “It will make a cloud follow him, but it wouldn’t start snowing for a few minutes so he wouldn’t connect it with me.”
“How many pounds of glitter would you say you used? Rounded down to the nearest whole number.”
“Which ones are the whole numbers again?”
“Would you say it was about the same amount of glitter as you used on the inaptly named robotic chihuahua of ankle nibbling?”
“A few squares less,” Dot said, fiddling with her contraption, granting peaks at the guts inside the tangle as she turned it this way and that. “But I need the glitter to amplify the voltage.”
“And I give you a generous glitter allowance each week, but glitter is not for Evil.”
“I used all my sequins though.”
“And Evil needs to be approved by me before you can go perpetrate it.”
“I know but,”
“Did you run any weather related Evil plans by me this week?”
“No but,”
“Last year’s snow day attempt doesn’t count; each new perpetration needs its own approval whether you could make the first one work or not.”
“No rice crispys for an after-school snack?” Dot said, giving in.
“You can have ranch with your carrot sticks, but you have to take two stars off your morality quota chart.”
“Two stars? For a little snow down his collar?”
“Ah but it would have also been snow under his tires, and that could have hurt him and anyone he crashed into.”
“I hadn’t thought of that.”
“If you had you wouldn’t get any ranch to dip your carrots in, but that’s why we have the morality chart, and you have to get your plans approved, so you can learn, and to keep the death toll down.”
“Because armed robbery doesn’t make you any more money than robbery does.”
“Right, now go grab your snack we have to head into town, make sure to grab your anti- motion sickness goggles so you can do your homework in the car.”
“But I don’t have any homework?”
“Then you can grab a book from the middle shelf.”
“No one else’s parents make them read boring law code books.”
“Did you know complaining about reading law books is against the county law?”
“I’ve only gotten to page XXIV.”
“Then you are going to be shocked what the punishment is.”
“What is it?”
“You can look it up in the car.”
“What page can I find the ignorance defense on?” Dot said, no doubt in what she thought was a un-understandable mutter.
“Ignorance isn’t a defense it’s why you get caught.”
“Are you sure, I’m pretty sure I heard someone mention it before.”
“See if you can find it in the book then, but do so in the car, we need to get going.”

They did get going, but only after two more life lessons, a preemptive potty break, an argument about the age appropriateness of the word potty, and running back in for just one more thing (three times). Mr. Moore turned the radio to a traffic report at the first intersection they stopped at because it’s always wise to see what is currently rampaging where when driving across town, and because there were a couple of punks in a supped up muscle car stopped next to them. Mr. Moore was secure enough in his masculinity, he had gone toe to toe with The Blue Steel in his villain days after all, but not secure enough to idle at an intersection top down blasting tween boy pop songs. Besides there was a cyborg gibbon or twenty slowing traffic by the zoo. With that new-found knowledge Mr. Moore opted to take the Stanley bridge instead of the tunnel through the river, necessitating an immediate lane change. Flooring it to cut off the punks in the muscle car wasn’t necessary, but it was fun and made Dot squeal. She liked going fast almost as much as she liked injecting needlessly colored smoke into their exhaust.
“What are we heading into town for anyway?” Dot said, pushing the limits on her seatbelt to try and reach one of the myriad of switches on the dash to further ruin the day of the punks who had swerved out of the purple smoke and were trying to overtake them on the right.
“I need to ask Zil a few things so we’re going to stop by campus and take her to dinner,” Mr. Moore said, eyeing Dot in the mirror. She sulked back into her seat for a full second before she started rummaging in her backpack.
“Is she in trouble? What did she do?” Dot said, screwing a extendable antenna onto something steel and no doubt missing from something expensive at home.
“That will be one of the first questions I ask her.”
“I hope you have more questions after that one, since she always has lots of answers to pick from.” Dot said, reaching for the switches with her new contraption. The pipe cleaner tied to the tip flopped limply against the switches. “Needs a doohickey.”
“I have lots of questions, just like you,” Mr. Moore said, watching fondly as, doohickey stuck on the end, Dot managed to flip two of the switches at once sending a beam of rainbow light at the muscle car as it drew up alongside them, as well as turning on the seat warmers. On the muscle car. The seat warmers on the hot rod turned on with a button not a switch. Due to either the disquieting warmth under their behinds, or the embarrassment from their paint job turning hot pink the punks dropped back in defeat.
“What did I say about perpetrating before we got in the car?”
“Each new perpetration needs its own approval,” Dot said, sliding low in her seat. “But when I installed the Mock III Blush Enabler you said turning some jerk’s car pink for a few days didn’t hurt anyone who counted. And if it’s not worth a whole star it’s not perpetration, so I shouldn’t need perpetration approval.”
“Ah but what’s the rule about speed?”
“Force equals mass time acceleration. so, more speed means more force?”
“And more force mean?”
“Higher stakes.” Dot said, in a sing song voice, albeit something closer to a funeral march then her bouncy tween pop.
“And stakes multiply the stars.”
“Stupid fraction multiplications. I bet the invention of fractions was at least a dozen stars of evil.”
“Zil thought it was a lot more, but she was also introduced to exponents earlier than normal.” Mr. Moore said, reaching a hand back for Dot’s ranch dip. She gave it up without a fuss though notably after scooping half out with two baby carrots as some sort of makeshift carrot spoon. She might also have lined the open top up with one of his grasping fingers, but Mr. Moore choose not to peruse that possibility.
“So what do you think Zil did this time?” Dot said, catching the drip of one of the carrots with a third before popping it in her mouth.
“I’m not sure. She took out the normal amount of money for tuition and board at the start of the semester.”
“Suspicious.”
“But she put money back in a week later. I half expected that. I even recommended she sign up for extra classes to sit in on the first day and get a better feel for them than the course catalogue allows, and then drop any classes that turn out to be duds,” Mr. Moore said, as Dot started acting out a little scene with her carrots before biting them in half. “But she put back way more money than she took out.”
“And extra money is bad?” Dot said, letting a maimed carrot run about for a bit before snapping it up. “I thought that was the whole point behind robbery and stuff.”
“It is the point behind robbery.”
“Did she not get approval first? I thought Zil didn’t have a star chart anymore. Is it on her mini fridge?”
“She doesn’t have one anymore, but that’s because she can resist perpetrating for funnzies.”
“Right means, ends, and other boring stuff.”
“Perpetration can be risky; the boring stuff keeps you out of grownup time out. Besides you know the guys that watch daddy all the time?”
“Cheap suits, ugly glasses, and matching frown lines.”
“They watch my bank accounts too, and Zil’s college fund in in both her and my name.”
“Would changing names help?”
“It might have earlier, but I’m not sure if it’d be enough now.”
“She’s been asking to be called Charity for years now? Does that mean the stars belong to you not her?”
“We’d have to change the name on the account not her name, besides your mother picked out your middle names, I like Zilphia.” Mr. Moore and Dot dropped the conversation because Dot knew she was bad at picking answers and didn’t want to bumble into betraying her sister’s trust, and Mr. Moore didn’t want to run the police check point.
The cybernetic gibbons had evidently been unimpressed with the selection of female apes in the zoo (not enough steel too many novelty bananas.) The gibbons were reported to have hot-wired a couple of cars with the cybernetic attachments they had instead of feet and the police were cordoning off the bridge to apprehend them.
Mr. Moore, Dot, and the hotrod they built came to a stop fifth in line for the police check point. Dot not being tall enough to see the flashing lights over the rest of traffic until now reacted to the presence of police as only a Moore would: calm composure and readiness on the outside, shrill girly screaming on the inside.
“Are they after us?” Dot said, from under her backpack, half full baggy of carrots brandished in the direction of the popo. Mr. Moore gave himself a moment before responding, if not taking the question seriously certainly doing so with his answer.
“We’ll I know I haven’t perpetrated anything serious for the last fifteen years or so. Charity might be up to who knows what, but what are the odds of it entangling us when she’s still halfway across the city.”
“It could entangle us. She likes tangles and weaves. I haven’t gone above two point five stars this week.” Those two and a half stars loomed very large in her eyes though as they moved approximately that many spaces closer to the check point (rounded to the evilest whole number).
“The police don’t reset their star chart every Sunday, and they’ve read all the law books.”
“You don’t think they know about the missing sticker factory, do you? We’re miles from home that must be a different district or something right? Aren’t the cops suppose to be bad about talking to each other?”
“Different departments maybe, but five blocks of industrial buildings shrinking to doll house size is pretty news worthy.” Its also a good way to get a life time supply of little star stickers.
“Zil dropped out of college! That’s more news worthy,” Dot said, abandoning sisterly solidarity in her moment of peril.
“We’ll I certainly would be interested in hearing more about Zil dropping out, but I’m not sure it would be a big deal to the police. Not compared to weaponized weather devices, and what else did you say you had in that backpack?”
“Nothing monkey related,” Dot said, unzipping it all the way and accidentally upending her backpack while checking to make sure. “Besides Zil said she doesn’t need a degree if she can read all the books and take iTunes classes for free.”
“You’re backtracking a bit, besides degrees help you get jobs, just like clean criminal records.”
“They want cybernetic monkeys not me.”
“Sure, but all that mad science lying about,” Mr. Moore said motioning to the contents of the backpack, or maybe Dot in her goggles and multi colored stains, or maybe the switches on the dash between them. There was a lot of mad science to choose from. “They might take you in for questioning, and then who knows what cold cases they might get to reopen.”
“Zil said she can make more money betting on hero fights then she could with a desk job. that’s somewhere in the law books, right?”
“It can be depending on how you go about it.” Mr. Moore said, relenting. “Remember to stay calm. We’re next. If you stay calm and don’t admit to anything a fancy enough attorney can undo most anything.”
Mr. Moore passed Dot back her ranch and she gnawed at her carrots anxiously. He did not make any rabbit jokes, even in his head, because he is better than that, and would not want to hurt his daughter’s feelings. He is always looking for ways to help her along though, and is perfectly willing to scare her straight for a little while with a trip down to the station. Nothing lasting just a little delay in locating her underage mad science license and good standing paperwork.
It should also be noted that he was not above making a carrot and stick joke to the officer after they were nice enough to cooperate even tracking down XXS handcuffs before putting Dot into the back of the cop car. Next, he just needed to find a way to keep his other daughter out of trouble. Maybe a day job or some cause. Give her some structure, keep her nose clean, or at least show her it can be just as fun scheming on the right side of the law.

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