- SIMaS: Chapter 20 – The Raid
- SIMAS Chapter 1 – Link Moss and the Magic Hippo
- SIMAS Chapter 2 – In-Flight Memories
- SIMAS Chapter 3 – Link Moss: Devious Mastermind
- SIMaS Chapter 4 – Curiouser and Curiouser
- SIMaS Chapter 5 – Welcome to Megardia
- SIMaS Chapter 6 – So I Married a Supervillain
- SIMaS Chapter 7 – Little Talks
- SIMaS Chapter 8 – His Excellence, King Link
- SIMaS Chapter 9 – The Megardian Royal Family
- SIMaS Chapter 10 – How Double Lives Start
- SIMaS Chapter 11 – The Morning Report
- SIMaS Chapter 12 – Paradigms Shifting Without a Clutch
- SIMaS: Chapter 13 – Thunderstruck, Enlightening
- SIMaS Chapter 14 – Eris Lives
- SIMaS Chapter 15 – The Guardian Spirit of Megardia
- SIMaS Chapter 16 – Midnight Council
SIMaS Chapter 6 – So I Married a Supervillain
The name of Link’s wife slipped out of his mouth and into the room. There, it hung in the air, so bold and so prominent that it was as if they could both see it there between them.
All other noise seemed to be banished in its presence, and the atmosphere in the room, if it could have ever been said to have been comfortable, became the opposite of that.
Link swallowed a lump in his throat as horrible understanding dawn on him. He’d figured it out. He’d taken the clues as they’d come to him, put them in context, applied logic, and then… He’d figured it out. And he never before in his entire life wished harder that he was wrong; that he’d missed some critical information, or underestimated something of vital importance.
Over the course of his entire life, he’d seen supervillains as something that happened to other people. They were a distant and far off threat that you prepared for by rote, but never expected to come face to face with, like a natural disaster, or a politician. Except now it turned out he hadn’t just been face to face with one; he’d been intimately close to one; kissed her, shared a bed with her… Loved her. God, he still loved her, even knowing this, even knowing the implications of her having kept this secret from him.
He wanted Queen Mageddo to laugh at him, to hiss at the perceived insult and order him thrown in the torture dungeon, or even just draw some kind of weapon from her legendary belt and kill him where he stood. Those would at least make sense. None of those completely rewrote the last two decades of his life.
But she didn’t. What she did do was face him fully and incline her head slightly toward him. There was a light hiss and parts of her helmet began to move. The hornlike protrusions along her cheeks retracted, and the visor split in half, sliding back into itself while at the same time rising away from her nose and eyes.
Within moments, the entire helmet assembly had collapsed into housing around her neck and left no doubt as to who was beneath it. Her chocolate colored hair was clipped back into the severe bun she wore to work (or what she’d said was her work), and without her glasses, her beautiful, soulful brown eyes squinted at him. Evidently, the optics in the visor were prescription.
As she carefully extracted her glasses from the belt and slipped them on, Link was edging away along the bed, back toward the headboard.
“No.” He finally said. “Just… this isn’t right. This can’t be happening.”
Amanda, if that was indeed her real name, sighed. “Link…”
“No!” He said, louder now and entirely on reflex. “I don’t know what kind of game you’re playing, or what kind of tech, or shapeshifting, or hologram-whatever you’ve got going on here, but I know my wife and there’s no way that she’s… she’s… you.”
“I know this is hard to accept.” the woman who might or might not be named Amanda tried again.
“Damn right this is hard to accept! My wife is an air marshal. She is not the Empress of some foreign nation!”
“Queen.” She corrected automatically, then groaned. “That… wasn’t helping.”
Link was in fine ranting form now and wasn’t about to be stopped. “I don’t need corrections right now! I need answers. Answers that start with ‘I’m impersonating your wife because’ and go from there. I’ve been married to Amanda—who you are not—for seventeen years and I would know if… if… She was cheating on me with an entire country!”
Carefully, Amanda walked over to the bed and sat at the foot of it, gauntleted hands clasped in front of her. “There’s really nothing I can say to defend hiding this from you. Believe it or not, I’ve thought about this moment hundreds of times and I never could think of what to say when you found out.”
“Who are you?” He asked, refusing to look at her. His eyes were planted firmly on the carpet as if hoping that answer to all the problems and questions brewing inside him would appear there.
“Still Amanda Moss.” said Amanda with a small smile. “Still the woman who loves you, who had two wonderful kids with you, and wishes she had more time with her family. The only difference is, I’m not a sky marshal. I’m Sovereign of Megardia, the only living heir to the Mageddo line, not Gorgias.”
Link gave her a sharp look. “And the most wanted mortal on Earth.”
“I thought it was most dangerous.”
“I think it’s both.” he said blandly.
“Wow.” She said, looking mildly proud of herself before she saw his expression and cleared her throat. “It’s complicated, Link. Megardia is so small, and strategically placed that the entire Western world’s been trying to have their way with us since Alexander. To protect our interests and advance ourselves in the world…”
Another hard look from Link. “…robbing, murdering, acts of mass terrorism?” She started to protest, but he cut her off. “I… can’t even wrap my mind around that right now. What I want to know is ‘how long’? How long have you been lying to me? How can you say you love me and yet it never crossed you mind to tell me something as huge as this?”
She shook her head. “You make it sound so easy. I had just had my uncle try to blow me up, deposed him, and then I find out I’m pregnant? What was I supposed to do, Link? Remember; we had broken up because I had to go home and didn’t know if or when I was coming back? That ripped my heart out and I knew you felt the same. So I was worried you’d reject me when I showed back up expecting, much less with the responsibility of history’s most invaded nation on my shoulders.”
“I would never have rejected you.” He said, appalled. “I love you.”
“Then what are you doing now?” she demanded.
“Well back then I hadn’t been lied to for almost twenty years.” He snapped, “So I’m more than a little pissed.”
Amanda tried to catch his eye with her own. “But do you still love me?”
Link looked at her.
His anger demanded he say ‘no’ for her making him feel like a fool, for lying to him for as long as he’d known her, and for being the unrepentant monster he’d seen on the news.
His heart looked upon him and demanded he say ‘yes’, because he refused to believe that it was all a lie, that the wealthy and powerful Queen Mageddo couldn’t possibly have spent seventeen years commuting from her opulent palace to a split level house in the suburbs, kissing and holding, and having long talks with some random guy if she didn’t love him.
It was painful to look into her eyes, those eyes that had always calmed him and made him feel loved, and see her uncertainty. It was just as painful to know the true answer to her question and to give it voice.
“I don’t know.” he said with difficulty. The pain was written all over her face and he couldn’t stand to see it even then. Without even thinking about it, he reached out and grabbed her hand. The gauntlet was cold in his grasp, but he ignored it.
“You have to understand where I’m coming from, Amanda.” Tears threatened and he fought them down. “It’s like I don’t know you—like I never knew you. Ever since we met, you’ve been lying to me, and now I don’t know what parts were true. And that’s before we get to the part where you’re Queen-goddamn-Mageddo. For seventeen years, I thought you were off being a hero as an air marshal and instead, you’ve been oppressing people, and blowing up buildings, and ransoming the world with doomsday devices. What am I supposed t think when I suddenly find out that you’ve threatened to destroy the planet our children live on.”
He trailed off in his rant, analyzed what he’d just said, and became even more frustrated. “And I just said that sentence in complete seriousness! That is a sentence that applies to my life now! I have to go and call mom and dad and be like ‘how was your day? That’s good. What’s new in my life? Looking for a new job, kids are still a handful and by the way, it turns out I married a supervillain!” By the end of that new rant, he was screaming and gesturing wildly.
The door to the suite slammed open and the two men in uniform burst in, weapons at the ready. Without even looking away from Link, Amanda raised her right arm and pointed it at them. The forearm of the glove opened up to extrude twin barrels that glowed a sinister green at the end. “Point your weapons at him a micro-second more and I will not hesitate to obliterate you.”
Both me instantly lowered their weapons. Then they saluted and left again, closing the door behind them.
Link’s eye twitched. “That’s the kind of thing I’m concerned about. How many times do you threaten to kill people a day here? Is that something you want the kids to think is okay to do?”
The gauntlet collapsed back into it’s default form and Amanda threw herself back on the bed with a frustrated moan. Link had seen her do the same at home, but it looked more girlish and cute when she was in her nightgown instead of a wearable artillery platform.
“Don’t you think I know that?” She asked. “I would be a terrible influence—the real me, I mean. It’s just another reason I kept it hidden. You agreed with me to keep the air marshal job hidden to keep them from worrying, Imagine how much worse it will be now that they know I’m on INTERPOL’s most wanted?”
“You already told them?” Link asked, “Before you told me?”
“It was sort of necessary.” said Amanda, staring up at the ceiling. “I got the kids personally, and you know that it would frighten Chloe if some masked woman kidnapped her.” She frowned. “I wanted to come get you myself too, but the Sovereign Elite only had a small window in which to extract you from Extraordinary Response International Services custody, and they took it.”
Link nodded. That made sense, in as much as anything in the past few days had made sense. “Okay, so it makes sense not to tell them, but what about me? You could have told me.”
“It’s like a hole, Link. The longer you go without telling anyone, the deeper you dig yourself. I couldn’t drop that on you at the same time I told you I was pregnant, and the way you just proposed immediately… and then the wedding, and the honeymoon, and apartment hunting… things just snowballed and before I knew it, it was our first anniversary.” Amanda shrugged against the covers on the bed. “And by then, I could keep telling myself that it wasn’t really all that different from a CIA agent keeping their real job secret from their spouse.”
“Except CIA agents don’t kill people.” Link muttered.
Amanda levered herself up on an arm. “Yes they do.”
“No they don’t.”
She rolled her eyes, “Link, that’s one of their functions: high level assassination.”
“That’s just conspiracy theory.” he waved it off.
“T Lincoln Moss, remember who you’re talking to. Believe me when I say I know the CIA carries out top level assassinations. I’ve killed enough in the act of trying to do me in that I consider myself and expert in the field.”
An uncomfortable silence settled into the room. Eventually, Amanda broke it. “I’m not doing myself any favors on my own behalf bragging about killing CIA agents, am I?”
Something about the tone of her voice and her earnest, ‘shy little girl’ expression made Link laugh at that, even knowing how serious what she’d been talking about was. “No, no you have not.” He repositioned himself so that he was sitting fully on the bed, legs crossed beneath him. “See? This is why this is so hard. We’re just slipping right back into talking so easily about… acts of war… and at the same time in the back of my head, there’s this little voice that points out things like how you killed The Philanthropist’s parents.”
Anger flashed over Amanda’s features. “Hey! Stop right there: she killed my parents first. You know that time tunnel she arrived in? The one from the famous picture? It went right through my parents’ plane where they were on their way to the United Nations. Disintegrated it.”
Link fell silent at this revelation. She’d told him that her parents died in a plane crash the same year The Philanthropist came into their timeline. It made him feel a little better that he’d been mostly truthful there. But at the same time…
“You can’t blame her for that, that had to have been an accident.” A glimmer of hope remained and he reached for it. “Was the death of her foster parents an accident too.”
“Of course not!” Amanda snorted, then coughed, embarrassed. “Actually more of a case of mistaken identity. The little brat had foiled a plot I had to mind control several major land developers to sell their holdings to Megardian shell companies, and she taunted me that he parents intentionally killed my parents before they could deliver their ultimatum to the United Nations.”
She shifted to face him more fully, “You have to understand that this was before it became public knowledge that she was from the future, her identity was still largely secret, and there was no reason for me to believe she meant anyone but the Clarks when she mentioned her parent’s.”
A sour expression marred her face. “Link, I know I never talked about them to you much… for reasons that are now obvious, but I loved them. They were my world before you and the kids. And to hear that they’d been murdered? I wanted revenge.” She looked away, allowing herself to fall back onto the bed and stare at the ceiling again. “And for a while, I thought I’d gotten it.”
From the angle he was sitting at, Link could see the haunted look in her eyes. He wanted t comfort her, but he still felt unsure of if he should still feel that way.
“Up until that point,” Amanda spoke quietly, sounding as if she was in a confessional. “Everything I did, I did for Megardia. It was fair because we’re at war. We’ve always been at war. No one declares it, but everyone would love to wipe us off the map because we’ve been a thorn in their side, and we have strategic placement and unique natural resources. They don’t even need to take us over anymore, but it’s become so ingrained that we’re the enemy that there’s no ending it…”
She shook her head. “But yeah; the night, it was just for me, country be damned. You were home with Nathan and I doubt I was even thinking of the two of you then. I just wanted to hurt the people that killed my parents.” A tear formed in her eye and started to roll down the side of her face.
“Link, I broke the rules that night. I changed the world, and that’s why you’re here right now.”
He looked at her, dumbfounded, and then on instinct, reached over and started stroking his hand through her hair. “How could that have caused all this? It was over ten years ago.”
Amanda leaned into his caress. “I figured out The Philanthropist’s secret identity and used it to kill her parents. That’s a line no one ever crossed. It’s as good as sacred, and I was so bent on vengeance that I trampled right over it.
“Before, all the heroes had codes against killing, at least for human criminals. It was an acknowledgment that we were at least still human and could be rehabilitated. What I did gave them a monster to point to and say that was just idealistic foolishness. Now a lot of them have decided it’s open season, and that means escalation. People I know; heroes and villains; have died, and it’s my fault.”
Link continued to stroke her hair, moving down the bed so he could do so more comfortably. “I still don’t see what that has to do with me and the kids.”
“Extraordinary Response International Services.” said Amanda. “They’ve been trying to expose villain identities so they could put pressure on us that way. “ She swallowed. “And they finally cracked mine.”
Ice formed in the pit of Link’s stomach. “So you thought they’d come after us.”
“They did.” said Amanda. “But they’re not the ones I’m worried about.”
Link already had an idea of who it was she feared would attack them, but he needed to know, even though some part of him held out hope that if he didn’t know, they couldn’t get to him or the kids. “Who?”
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