Sunday, June 23, 2013

Where Am I Going? -- The Accidental Villain

Baron Climate Change was supposed to be a one-joke villain.  I had no backstory for him and no plans to ever use him again.  He appeared in the story A Simple Solution, and the joke was that Grandpa Anarchy's solution to everything, including global climate change, is to find the villain responsible and punch them in the face.  His sidekick Geothermal Jenny tries to explain why this is a ridiculous idea, when up pops Baron Climate Change:

Jenny paused.  A small plume of dark smoke had appeared in the distance.  It approached rapidly, flying over the water, leaving a thick black smoke snake coiling behind it.
“What’s that?” she asked.
The distant object resolved into a man.  He was dressed in heavy flight leathers like those of an World War I pilot, and wore matching goggles.  A contraption was strapped to his back made of brass and steel.  It belched smoke like a furnace.  It was a jet pack, Jenny realized – quite possibly the least efficient one ever made.
The stranger hovered before the saucer.  Up close they could see that his clothing was soot-filled and oil-stained.  Jenny switched on the external loudspeakers.
“Greetings, stranger,” she said.  “This is the Anarchy Saucer, with Grandpa Anarchy and his sidekick, Geothermal Jenny.  Please identify youself”
The stranger cackled like only a mad villain could.  “I am the rising of oceans and the melting of polar caps!  I am the upward shift in global temperatures and the coming global devastation!  I am Baron Climate Change!  I bring doom to the earth!”
“Look, whoever you are, we’re on a peaceful science mission to study the effects of global warming....”
“Haha, you fool!  I am global warming!  I am the sole cause!”
Grandpa stabbed a finger at the hovering villain.  “You!  You’re just the scoundrel I’ve been looking for!”
“Bring it on, Gramps!” the sooty villain yelled.

That was supposed to be that.  But much later, when I was writing Trouble Focusing, I wanted a fight in a stereotypical villain's volcano base.  What villain would need a volcano base?  Well, why not Baron Climate Change?

Grandpa Anarchy grappled with Baron Climate Change at the lip of a volcano.  Behind them, a steel platform extended back to  a warehouse-sized room, open at the end facing the volcano.  The ground shook.  Rocks crashed down.  The Baron, dressed in World War I flight leathers with thick goggles, cackled.
"Feel that, Grandpa?  My coal-fired, tar-sand oil burning nuclear supervolcano accelerator is at work!  Soon the world will be brought to its knees as volcanic gasses envelope the earth, triggering a mini ice age!"
"You fiend!" yelled Grandpa.  "Not if I stop you!"

When I read this story to my friends recently at writer's night, I got some suggestions that I couldn't fit into the story.  Baron Climate Change has invisible monsters called Soot Monsters, but someone suggested they wear zoot suits -- Zoot Suit Soot Monsters.  If I wanted to use that idea, I needed another Baron Climate Change story.  And at the same time, someone was commenting about why is it that villains always use dirigibles?  And there was a joke about adamantium-plated armored dirigibles.  Ridiculous, of course, but these are silly superhero stories after all, so why not?  You'd need a lot of engine power to keep such a vehicle afloat -- dirty engines that pollute.  That sounds like the perfect vehicle for our good Baron.

Thus I began my third Baron Climate Change story, An Inconvenient Airship.  I've managed to write parts of it over the last week.  I have almost the entire story figured out, except for an ending.  I'm not sure exactly where I'm going with this one -- everything seems to be solving itself except for how to end it.  With Grandpa Anarchy stories, that's generally not the best way to go about things, but eh, I like what I have so far.

The afternoon sun glanced off snow-capped peaks, and skittered across a silvery lake.  High overhead a metal airship hung in the sky like a steel pinata.  Massive jet engines powered the dirigible.  Behind it flew a jet-propelled air bike with sidecar in hot pursuit.  Kid Continuity piloted the Anarchy Airbike, with Grandpa Anarchy seated behind her.  Dog Is My Copilot sat in the sidecar, goggles down, scarf snapping behind her in the wind.
"Seriously, what is it with villains and dirigibles?" Kid Continuity yelled over the roar of the engines.  "It's like every villain has to have one.  What's the fascination?  They're big, they're slow, they're hard to maneuver..."
"Nobody ever accused Baron Climate Change of being practical," Grandpa yelled.  Dog Is My Copilot growled softly.
"Kidnapping delegates is really going to focus worldwide attention on the Geneva Summit on Climate Change.  I thought Baron Climate Change was against the world solving pollution problems?"
"I repeat, nobody ever accused Baron Climate Change of being practical..." yelled Grandpa.  "Now, if you can just get me onto that steel behemoth..."
"Do you see that platform at the back?"
There was a boom and a flash from the rear of the dirigible.  A harpoon sailed overhead, trailing rope.
"The one with the Baron and the harpoon gun?" Grandpa replied.  "Yeah, I see it."

Grandpa pulled a gun from beneath his jacket and fired.  The bullet pinged off steel.
"Careful, Grandpa!" yelled Kid Continuity from the bike overhead.  "What if he's using hydrogen?"
"Haha, you fools!" yelled the Baron.  "My Super-Polluter Doom Zeppelin SPDZ-04 is armor plated with adamantium!  Mere bullets can not penetrate it!"
"Good gravy," said Grandpa.  "How does it fly?"
"Like a feather on the wind," the Baron replied.  "Mind you, zat is a feather zat veighs vun-thousand tons.  I haff a dozen Rolls Royce engines to keep it airborne.  Ze only problem is getting it to turn."

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