“Alright. Where is my wallet?”
Hank came rushing inside the living room, only to find everyone, except for Max, sitting on the couch. Nora was arguing with Billy over something, while Barb and Phoebe were talking about some boy again. He put his hands on his hips and asked loud enough to talk over them all:
“Where is my wallet?”
Without even looking up from where they were, everyone said:
And went back to their original talks. He rolled his eyes. Of course it was Max. That kid was getting worse and worse by the day. He walked over to the opening of the lair and called out:
“Max! Get up here, now!”
Just then, the doorbell rang. Everyone looked at the security monitor with a frown. It was quiet. Phoebe shook her head.
“Max must’ve messed with it again.”
That was believable, so he just shrugged and walked over to the door. If he was lucky, it was just someone from school, coming to give back books to Phoebe. If he was unlucky, it was Mrs. Wong with another complaint. He opened the door, only to freeze when he saw who it was.
“Barb! Get the…!”
The rest of the words died in his mouth, as he was thrown across the room. A tall man with black hair and black eyes walked inside and pointed his hands at them. At once, everyone lifted into the air, with their hands behind their backs. With a smirk, he walked to the middle of the room and put a robotic, oval device on the table. It glew red, and suddenly, all the Thundermans felt their powers disappear. With almost comical gentleness, he put them down again. Nora on a chair, while the rest of them landed on the couch. Immediately, Hank tried to get up, only to find out that he couldn’t move. None of them could move. The man smiled.
“Nice invention, right? Works only on superheroes. Blocks your powers and your energy. And it allows a supervillain like me, to walk around without noticing any effects on myself.”
The man smiled.
“Thunderman. I’d say it’s nice to see you again, but it’s really not. Now, stay here, while I take a look around your house. It’s not like any of you can stop me.”
And he walked off. Hank looked at his family. Nora and Billy looked scared. Phoebe seemed to keep it together quite well. Barb was visibly worried about her children. Then, suddenly, Nora smiled. Barb frowned.
“Nora? Why are you smiling?”
The girl looked at them with a look that told them she did not understand how they didn’t see what she saw.
“Max. He’ll save us. You heard that guy. This machine works only on superheroes.”
“Nora, sweetheart. Max is a superhero. He’s just pretending to be a villain to go against me. If he gets up here, he’ll be stuck like the rest of us.”
They heard steps approaching and seconds later, Mysterioso reappeared.
“Nice house. You’ve really made a good life for yourself, Hank.”
And then, before he could say anything else, they heard the sound of steps again. Max’s voice could be heard all the way from the hallway.
“If you’re looking for your wallet, dad, I did not steal it.”
He stopped in shock when he saw the living room. Very slowly he took a few steps inside.
“What’s going on? Who are you?”
Everyone, except for Nora, was gaping at him in shock. The girl just smiled at him in triumph. Mysterioso was the first one to find his voice.
“Who are you, boy?”
Max, quickly assessing the situation, decided that going along with this man was the safest option for now.
The man stepped a bit closer to him.
“And how come you’re not affected by my machine? It’s supposed to incapacitate all superheroes around it. How are you still standing?”
Max glanced around. Everyone was still looking at him in shock. And he understood. They all still thought that it was just a phase. Well, he was going to prove them wrong, once and for all. Gathering himself, he straightened up and answered slowly:
“You’ve clearly not heard of me. I’m working for Dark Mayhem.”
Four ‘whats’ sounded from the couch. On the other side, Nora was still smiling at him, with trust in her eyes. And he almost cursed, realizing what the girl was waiting for. She thought that he would save them. She had KNOWN that he was a villain. That the device would not affect him. And still she trusted him not to turn on them. Mysterioso smirked.
“Well, well, well. Who would have thought? The great Thunderman’s son is a super villain.”
“I’m not like him.”
He walked over to the table and crouched down, to look closer at the machine. He waved his hand over it and almost jumped when a red force field appeared around it, pushing his hand away.
“Protective force field. Smart.”
A slight frown appeared on his face, before it smoothed out again and he stood up, turning back towards Mysterioso.
“Alright. What’s your plan now?”
The man looked at him with amusement.
“And what makes you think I trust you?”
Max rolled his eyes.
“You’d be stupid if you did. Rule number one of being a villain is to not trust anyone. Colosso taught me that pretty early on.”
Mysterioso’s eyebrows shot up.
“Colosso? Doctor Colosso?”
“Yeah. Dad was going to send him to prison, but I managed to convince him to let Colosso stay with me. I was five, so he had trouble saying no. You want me to bring him here?”
Hank, Barb and Phoebe glanced at each other, worried about the easy way Max was behaving. The man nodded.
“Yes. Do that.”
Max quickly turned around and ran towards the stairs. And that made Barb frown. Max never used the stairs, unless there were people in the house who he didn’t want to know about the quick way down to his lair. But her attention was pulled back to the villain, when he burst out laughing.
“My, my. You really messed up with that one, Hank.”
Hank glared at the man.
“I’m starting to realize that now.”
Mysterioso tilted his head.
“Your own son, working for Dark Mayhem. How did that happen?”
Hank was silent, clearly not wanting to talk about his son with the villain, but the man taking a menacing step towards Nora made him quickly answer.
“We all thought that it was just a phase. But your device is clearly proving something different.”
Mysterioso laughed again.
“Well, he’ll make a good servant. And I think I know how to keep him happy. Let him be himself. Something I’m guessing you didn’t do.”
They heard footsteps again and Max ran inside, an annoyed look on his face.
“He’s bathing and I’m not going inside there.”
His eyes wandered back to the machine and Mysterioso looked at him with curiosity.
“You like machines? Robots?”
“Yeah. I’m inventing my own things.”
“Go ahead then. Take a look at it. Anything that could be improved?”
Moving quickly, Max crouched down next to the table again and moved his fingers next to the machine. When it didn’t move, he frowned and made the table levitate instead, turning it to look at the device from all the sides. Mysterioso let him take his time, before he walked a bit closer.
“You have any ideas?”
Slowly, Max nodded.
“Yeah. I’m not completely sure since I can’t physically touch it, but there are a few things. For one, the force field doesn’t stop me from lifting the table. Nothing would stop me from tossing this as far from the house as possible. The second thing is that the force field doesn’t cover it from underneath. With something strong enough, it could be destroyed through the table. There is…”
“Max! Stop helping him!”
Max’s head snapped over to Phoebe.
Hank felt anger rise inside of him.
“Max. If you do this, you are not my son anymore.”
Max ignored Barb’s shocked shout and stood up, the table landing on the floor again. He took a step towards Hank, but then stopped himself and shook his head.
“No. This is not my role.”
And he turned back to the device, clearly fascinated by it. Hank closed his eyes. Yes, he had seen the changes in Max, but this was going way too far. How could his own son do something like that? Why couldn’t he be like Phoebe? When he opened his eyes, he noticed that Mysterioso was looking at him with a grin on his face. And, for the first time in years, he felt fear. Because, if they managed to somehow break the device and get free, that would mean he’d have to fight his own son.