Retired Heroes. How much cooler can you get, right? This is the second installment in the RHH short stories. Enjoy!
Retired Hero’s Home #002: How Lord Destro came to the RHH
Washington, D.C., Thirty Years before
Anyone would say that Mr. Marvelous, in his fifties, was still fighting fit. In fact, one might even say he was in his prime. He wasn’t, however. He knew it. His team, the Last Defense, knew it. But he wasn’t going to give up quite yet. He had a few more battles.
But there he stood in the Oval Office, receiving another medal from President J.A. Henley. As the Commander in Chief pinned it on, Mr. Marvelous caught sight of a glowing red ball. It was one of Lord Destro’s spy cams.
“Excuse me, sir,” Mr. Marvelous said, pushing past the president. Within seconds, he had exited the White House and was in the front lawn. Then, with a bound, he grabbed onto the cam. It came down to earth with him, and he examined it closely. “Where were you sent from, eh, darling?”
With those slightly odd words, Mr. Marvelous took the the sky, heading for his old Super Hero pal, Dr. Weapons. Later, he would find out that Dr. Weapons was in reality William Panake, a genius who was kicked out of Harvard for correcting the dean on a minor infraction of grammar.
He found him in the Weapons Lab, with the Hat Man and the Weaponeer. By this time, the Blademaster had left the group and started working solo, in Mexico City.
Their conversation went something like this: “Doctor! Good to see you again!”
“And you to, Mister!”
“Hey, could you look at something for me?”
“Oh, just a thing.”
“Oh, that is a nice thing.”
Dr. Weapons carefully took the cam apart, then plugged a computer into it. With a smile, he punched a few keys, then a map popped up on the screen. It came closer and closer to the earth, until, finally, it let loose with a ‘bing!’ A flag came up.
“Google maps will get you there,” Dr. Weapons said. “I’ll follow in a little while, but there’s this bomb I need to defuse before it blows up Manhattan.”
“Only Manhattan?” Mr. Marvelous asked. “Couldn’t you just evacuate everyone, then let it blow? I hate Manhattan.”
“Nope, it would take to long. I’ll just defuse it, then leave in the Weapons Case here.”
“Okay, well have fun, Doctor.”
“You to, Mister.”
They shook hands, and Mr. Marvelous grabbed the sheet of paper lying on the table. “Uh, Doctor, these are for driving. It’s going to take to long doing that.”
“Well, I’m sure you can think of something,” Dr. Weapons said, climbing into the team plane. It was shaped like a gigantic ‘W’.
Mr. Marvelous waved, then contacted the rest of the team. They had a villain to catch.
Six hours later, and they still hadn’t caught Lord Destro. Which wasn’t surprising, considering that the directions led them to the middle of the Sahara. (Yes, Google told them to drive to the nearest airport. It did not, however, tell them to buy a ticket; instead, it told them to hijack a plane, then skydive out of the plane when they had reached their destination. Mr. Marvelous and his team didn’t take this advice. They had their own plane.)
Mr. Marvelous looked over at Stardust, who was making sandcastles. Suddenly, he thought of something. Most villains had their bases underground. So all they needed to do was dig. And so they dug. And dug. And dug. And started sweating. And dug. And got nowhere, except fifty feet down.
“Well, this is discouraging,” Mr. Marvelous said, looking around at his team.
“You said it, Mr. Marvelous,” they chorused back at him.
It was about that moment that steel bars shot up around them and a steel grille was thrown on top. “Well, that was something you don’t see everyday,” Mr. Marvelous said, walking over to the bars. He pulled at them, straining, but they wouldn’t bend. “Uh, we’ve got a problem.”
“Ya think? Wonder snarked, soaring up to the top. He pushed, but the grill was embedded firmly. Then the cage started sinking., down into the depth of the earth.
“Now we’ve really got a problem,” Mr. Marvelous said. “Stardust, what’s down there?”
“Lead,” was the quick response. Then she spoke up again. “No, wait, that was just a door. It’s opening. I don’t see any lava, acid or anything like that, don’t worry. I do, however, see someone.”
“What are they doing?” The Crimson Flame asked, as he tried to burn through the bars.
“Someone else just showed up. They’re fighting. The second man won, and the first is trying to run.”
By now, they had gone through the door, and everyone could see what was going on. Lord Destro was crawling away from Dr. Weapons, who now had his hand on the control stick for the cage.
The cage was set down on the floor, and Dr. Weapons opened the door. “Greeting, Last Defense. I finished with the bomb early, so I thought I would drop in and see how you were doing.”
“Not to well, as you can see,” Mr. Marvelous said, before Dr. Weapons could say anything.
“I wasn’t going to mention, but now that we’re on the subject, how in the world did you get in a steel cage?”
“We would have gotten out,” the Crimson Flame assured, lighting up his pinkie finger in his, well, crimson flame.
“Yeah, maybe after a couple of hours,” Lord Destro said, pulling himself up the wall. “Dr. Weapons, you’re a horrible Super Hero. You had to use three darts to get me away from the controls.”
“And you’re an even worse villain, Elbert,” Dr. Weapons said, then tossed something from his belt. It exploded in a puff of smoke, and Lord Destro, or Elbert as we now know him, fell over, unconscious.
“Thanks, but I could have done that,” Mr. Marvelous said.
“Actually, no, you couldn’t. I’m the only one who knows this mixture. Not even my team knows how I make it.”
“Well, that’s just because no one’s as smart as you.”
If Dr. Weapons could look shamefaced under a mask, then he did at that moment. “I hate to admit it, but Elbert is nearly as smart as me. Which is a real pity; he could have been a valuable asset to my team. I gave him the chance.”
“How did you know him?”
“I knew him growing up, that’s all. He was always bright, even when we were in diapers. He was the first one to spell cat with the blocks. I one upped him though: I spelled the Latin name for cat. Anyway, I better be off with him. I’ll see you around, Last Defense.”
“See you,” said Mr. Marvelous.
“Hasta la vista, baby,” said Electrician.
“Tootles,” said Sea Prince.
“Nantucket,” said Namer. Everyone looked at him. “I had a dog named Tootles, then one named Nantucket. It was the first thing that came to my head, sorry.”
“It’s okay,” Dr. Weapons said, grinning. he grabbed Elbert and dragged him off to his plane. The Last Defense followed, joking and laughing.
Twenty-four years later, Retired Heroes Home, Georgia.
“So, you see, my cousin isn’t that bad. He’s gone through rehabilitation, but because of the crimes he tried to commit, no one will take him as a boarder.” William, or Billy as he liked to call himself now, was trying to get his cousin, Elbert Panake, into the RHH. “I’ll have him sleep on my floor. It’ll be fine, don’t worry sir.”
“I’m not worried, Billy. Not about your cousin, anyway. I’m more worried about how the other residents will take it.,” was Bruce Jennigan‘s curt reply.
“Thank you sir,” Billy said, leaving the room as quickly as possible so as not to let Mr. Jennigan change his mind. His cousin, Elbert, was waiting in the hall. “You’re in,” Billy said, and Elbert sighed in relief.
“I was worried there, for a moment,” he said, as the cousins walked down the hall. “I was sure that Jennigan was going to remember what I tried to do.”
“You never succeeded,” Billy said, grinning. “We made sure of that. And after all, the psychiatrist said that it was just because of your younger years, that’s all.”
“I’m not sure about that, but I can pretend, that’s fine.” And so, Elbert Panake, the supervillian Lord Destro, entered the RHH.
The story of his final apprehension, though, was just the last bit of a long journey. And although we don’t have enough time to do a full biography of him (for that, see Destro and Me: My Life as a Minion, by Dennis Wales), we can do a biographical sketch of his life.
Elbert Panake was born in Sacramento, California. His exact birth date is not known, nor is his weight, length, et cetera. We do know, however, that his father was an inventor, who ran a business with his brother, William Panake’s father. Both boys were raised with inventions, and both were even experimented on. Those experiments eventually gave the boys higher IQ’s, as well as fairly decent common sense, which a lot of people don’t have.
While he was still young, Elbert’s mother left him and his father for another man, claiming that her husband was to busy with his work for her. Which may have been true, but we’re not to judge on that point. This event, however, scarred young Elbert for life.
Never wanting to lose anything again, Elbert became a micro-manager, so as to have as much control as possible. He was a perfectionist, and beyond what most people would consider perfectionism. His cousin also was the same way, very evident in the way he got kicked out of Harvard. (Even longer story, won’t get into it)
But, as he wanted to be in control, Elbert took it to the extreme. He worked feverishly to create weapon that would control the way people thought. Inwardly, he later claimed, he knew what was going on, and that he just was scared. But if he did know, he didn’t stop doing what he was doing. He worked faster, harder, until, one day, he reached his goal. He had created a machine that would control the way people thought, about him, and about everything.
Elbert set it out on the roof of his apartment building, and was just about to start it running, when he realized that he needed a name. Every conqueror had a name. So he took his weapon down and started thinking of a name. Finally, he decided on Lord Destro, just because he liked the sound of it. Then, he designed a costume. It was full black, like most villains wore, with a large vermilion ‘D’ on the front .
Once again, he set it up. But this time, just as he was getting ready to start, another distraction came along: The Judicators, California’s crime fighting team. Elbert fought them off as best he could, but they were to strong. and quickly overpowered him. His power, was after all, high intelligence. Not high fighting skills.
However, before anyone could rip off his mask, Elbert flipped on his rocket shoes, as well as some tear gas he had in his belt, and disappeared. He reappeared three years later, after his cousin had offered him a job at the Weapons Lab. However, Elbert hadn’t accepted, and went on a crime spree for about three years, robbing convenience stores. His next Super Villain gig wound him in New York City, trying to mechanize the Statue of Liberty.
He almost succeeded, too. However, the Last Defense foiled him as he was starting it to move. Many people did notice, however, that the Statue of Liberty, for some reason, had turned its torch slightly towards the city. This had all been in Elbert’s plot, to put a ray in it and threaten to blow apart Manhattan. However, it didn’t work.
Once again, Elbert narrowly escaped being captured, but started making his Spy Cams, and started, well, spying on everyone from his base in the Sahara. That is, until Dr Weapons and the Last Defense captured him. Then, and only then, did everyone finally find out who Lord Destro was. All in all, it was rather anti-climatic.
Kind of hokey? Yes. But I like hokey sometimes.