Prologue NaNo 2015: Never trust a spider

The caped superheroes were dead, killed by technology. Or maybe it was their bad fashion sense.

No, it was technology.

It didn’t take long. Some of them had embraced hi tech, and developed incredible weapons and cute toys and great cars, all with which to stalk the city streets at night, saving the weak and helpless, and fighting crime.

They even looked like they were winning, for a time. Their cars were cool, their guns were cool, their helicopters were awesome. They had secret lairs and hidden fortresses and locked down hideaways under nightclubs.

They had so much more stuff than we had. Nobody even noticed us. We weren’t superheroes, we were pseudoheroes, lurking in the shadows of their shadows.

Our not-quite-superpowers were pretty insignificant next to theirs. I mean, how can you compare being able to control animals and plants and fungus, damn it, next to flying and wall climbing and blowing stuff up?

Truth is, you can’t. We sucked by comparison. Man, they had everything, and we had nothing. They were it, and we – well, we were kinda non-consequential. They were the epitome of incredible, while we were the epitome of blaaaah.

Every kid wanted to grow up to wear a cape or hood or both. Every kid wanted to be them. No kid wanted to be us. No kid had even heard of us. I won’t say we were jealous but, yeah, we were jealous.

Every kid dreamed of making a difference. Every kid hoped that they’d discover that their parents weren’t ordinary humans, but had instead adopted them from some blown-up planet, now dust, hundreds of light years away. Every kid just knew their super powers would just POP! out some day, when they least expected it.

Like pimples, or B.O.

Only better.

Kids didn’t dream of controlling rats and plants and fungus. Kids didn’t dream of being us.

I mean – don’t get me wrong – controlling all that stuff is kind of cool. You never have to call an exterminator. Or use Roundup or Raid. You never get problems with mould in the shower either – that pink scum is just not an issue when you control the world of slime.

But it’s not exactly impressive. It’s not a superpower kids yearn for.

If kids couldn’t be from outer space, they wanted to be brilliant scientists, whose experiment on themselves would inevitably go horribly, terribly wrong. But in a good way, giving them great powers that required great responsibility – but came with hot partners and admiration and respect and shit as fringe benefits.

Kids wanted to be the stuff of legend, not the stuff of vermin control and sewer management.

Kids wanted to have that hidden alter-ego that was the stuff of nightmares, not the stuff of disease vectors and drain clearance.

So here’s how it happened: For a long time, the superheroes ruled everything. There were demi-gods and full-blown gods and godlike half-critters and not-so-godlike aliens with godlike powers.

Earth hosted them all, and they kept crime rates so low that even toddlers felt safe on the streets at night.

It truly was a Golden Age. Excelsior!

Those scumbag superheroes would fly around and pose for front pages, and the female superdudes would do page three specials because they were all kind of hot. That’s what society is like – you know, women, no matter how powerful, are always the eye candy.

Society was happy, and everything was profitable, and everyone was happy except the super villains who couldn’t seem to figure out that advertising yourself with a bright green full body latex costume really wasn’t the sneakiest, cleverest way to do evil and keep out of prison.

Everything was going just swimmingly until face recognition software changed everything.
Almost overnight, it seemed, face recognition software ended the Golden Era of the Superhero.

Those without masks were picked off first. It wasn’t even hard work.

You can blame Google if you like, but I just blame progress. Caped superheroes were part of an era and that era ended. It’s not like the glasses and three piece suits and brylcreem cowlicks had ever really fooled anyone anyway.

Blackmailed by threats to their loved ones, those from alien worlds hung up their capes, started wearing their underwear inside their trousers again, and flew to other, less-developed planets in a hope of making a difference there instead of here.

I wish them luck.

No, really I do.

The Amazonian Princesses followed not long after. They threw down their bracelets in disgust, and disappeared back to their hidden island paradises, located somewhere in the Bermuda Triangle. Never to be seen again.

To be honest, their invisible planes had always been a threat to air traffic control and safety anyway. The number of bird strikes by those things? Ugh. There isn’t anything pretty about being rained on by bits of dead albatrosses chewed up by invisible jet engines.

The quote unquote special interest super guys followed the princesses. One single fancy superpower just wasn’t enough to keep them in the game. I’d always hated them anyway, the showoffs!

The speedsters, the insectoids, the shrinkers – all of them turned in their suits, and cashed in their credit (yeah, we’d known they hadn’t been handing in all the bad guy loot all along, and this proved it). They shuffled off to the tropics to enjoy relaxed retirements.

Most are in Brazil and the Bahamas now. I suspect they were bribed to leave. Maybe they got tired of all that wall-crawling and gutter-running. I don’t know. What I do know is they’re gone now.

You know what they say: Never trust a spider. My sister Aneira knows that better than anyone.

Finally, street gangs finished the simple plain ordinary powerless not actually super human being superheroes.

They never really should have existed in the first place, to be honest. You know the type – the archers, the billionaire do-gooders, the acrobats-turned-sidekicks, the secret agents.

They were easy pickings. Real easy. Too easy. A quick bullet to the skull, A quick dose of poison, a shark or two with lasers…they were done with in less time that you could blink.

Maybe they saw the writing on the wall. Who knows? We don’t miss them. The only thing bigger than their arsenal of cheap tricks and crappy carbon composite bows was their egos.

They were insufferable bastards, and I’m glad they’re gone.

So here we were, a decade on from the last of the superheroes, the last of those who had dared to fight openly against corruption and self-service.

Of course, most of them were corrupt and self-serving and thieving. Most were in bed with the drug lords and the politicians, and the drug lords and politicians have been the same people for a long time now.

But nobody seemed to ever question that. Nobody ever asked where their billions of dollars they used to fund their operations came from. Nobody ever asked who funded their dodgy science experiments. Nobody ever asked if they got permission at the North Pole for their fancy Fortresses.

Now there was nothing left. No-one left. Nothing left of that Golden Era. No capes. No masks. No bracelets. No fricking lassos.

So long, suckers!

Except us. We’re the next generation, doing it alone, with no mentors, no guides.

We have no billionaire parents conveniently shot when we were tiny and leaving us wadloads of cash and a stupid butler. We have no holographic parents to teach us right from wrong.

We’d been here all along, watching their stuff-ups, cleaning up the messes these fancy guys in their fancy suits had left behind. Now they were gone, it was our time to shine.

Now they were gone, we decided to take over. And we have.

Here we are.

The way our powers work, face recognition is useless.
The way our powers work, you can’t ever track us down.
I mean, what are you going to do? Incarcerate a rat or a tree or a mushroom? Never gonna happen.

We’re the heroes that you’d never, ever know are heroes. The heroes who will never be caught, because the bad guys can’t even imagine we’re here.

You can’t catch what you can’t even imagine.

So this is our story.

We’re not superheroes. We’re StealthHeroes.

This is our time.

Word count: 1390


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