World Domination, and Other Childish Pursuits


Chapter Five: Arson

The world looked best from up above. Everything looked like it was at a more proper scale, sprawling out in miniature beneath her. Insignificant if not for its scope, or the way all the tiny little parts fitted into one whole. Hardly seamlessly, but not as bad as she might have expected, given how little real oversight there was. When she was in charge, things could be so much better. They would be that much better. Frigid was hovering over the highway, content to just watch and let her thoughts wander as all the little vehicles zipped to and fro. It just wouldn't do to forget what she was after simply because she was playing a long con, now.

That feeling was reinforced when she saw a tanker truck hastily change from one lane to another. People needed proper control, and—Frigid lost her train of thought as the truck continued to veer off and gutter into the ditch, the tank smashing into an ill-placed car. It looked bad, and so did the little pileup that ensued behind it. Frigid couldn't help but wince, but she couldn't pull her eyes away. She could see how the tank had ruptured in the crash, how whatever it was carrying was leaking out onto the grass and the road, how the growing puddle was set alight by something and blossomed into flames. For some reason, that feeling of distance and detachment had withered away, and she felt as though she was right there, in the suddenly sweltering air of the conflagration. So, for some absurd reason, she sent herself plummeting towards it.

She slowed herself just above the back end of the wreck, by the other cars, feeling the hot air wash over her and spend its heat. She reached through it and pulled as much of the heat as she could as she took in a deep breath. Then she dropped down into the flames and sapped out all the heat she could, willing it into her legs to run down the length of it. She moved faster than she could properly keep track of, and eventually, finally sprinted free. She felt like her chest was going to explode, and she greedily breathed in the fresher air. The sudden relief of breath made the absolute rush of so much power blossom into euphoria, but it was quickly tempered. Gasoline. It just had to be gasoline.

Frigid couldn't fix a gasoline fire. She could quell one, (and just had) but that would only last until the next spark. A fire could only last so long as it had fuel, oxygen, and the energy to keep going. The simplest solution for her, of course, was to remove the last one. Not enough heat to keep going, and a fire would end. Then removing the fuel would be easier. Except, of course, when that fuel was gasoline, which would keep emitting flammable vapor unless she cooled the entire scene down below negative forty degrees. Which she had to admit she was a little tempted to do, but no. She would have to get the people clear if they were indisposed or just too stupid to get away themselves. She made her way over to the cab of the truck, nestled in that ditch, and pulled on the door handle. It was locked, so Frigid tore it off. The driver was unconscious (hopefully) so Frigid undid the buckle and lugged him out.

Down at the other end of the scene, there was a little crowd gathered to look on at it all. Of course there was, why would they possibly know better? "Get clear! This could go off again at a moment's notice, and I don't think any of you can handle that as well as I could." Most of them had the good sense to scatter at that, but one of them stood there, no doubt dumbstruck. Frigid rolled her eyes, for all the good it did at a distance and behind an opaque visor, and turned away. She would have to set the driver down and then chase off that idiot, she wasn't going to save someone just to have them choke on gas while she walked across the spill.

"Put him down! I don't know what you're after him for, but put him down!"

Frigid turned her head back, dumbstruck as she watched this idiot start charging at her. It left her silent for a moment, and then she started cackling. What a joke! This little peon thought he was going to save the day? That he was going to charge over to her, through a puddle of gasoline she could light with one button on her jetpack, and physically overpower her with all of that strength freshly at her disposal, all to rescue the poor man he didn't even know—and who she was so obviously saving, not menacing? It was hilarious. She was laughing too much, she might have doubled over if she didn't have the driver held over one shoulder.

But then she got ahold of herself. "Stop!" Mercifully, the idiot did just that. "I'm saving this man already. What, do you think I engineered all this to settle some kind of grudge with a truck driver? Don't be absurd! I threaten to destroy highway traffic one time..." She shook her head. "Now shut up and turn around before I have to rescue you, too." She didn't wait for whatever response he would muster to that before skipping off the road to set the driver down. He looked like he would be okay, but actual professionals could attend to that. Next came getting anyone stuck in the pileup clear, and... What was that idiot doing there still?

Whatever. She took another deep breath and went back into the spill, to the car that was buried in there. She probably should have started with it, but that was the benefit of hindsight. Unfortunately there was someone stuck in there, but at least only one someone. There was too much gas in the air to risk tearing the door off, and so instead Frigid tapped the glass with a knuckle, hard enough to shatter it into the little pebbles of safety glass. Then she reached through to unlock and open the door, then undid the buckle and hauled her new rescue out. She took her out into the grass, by the driver. Of Frigid's many talents and areas of expertise, first aid and proper rescue conduct didn't rank.

She sighed, and then hurried back over to that idiot who was, despite everything, still standing there. "You there, more bravery than brains." He was quite clearly offended, but all that mattered was she had his attention. "You want a big hero moment? When the emergency response gets here, point them towards these people, alright? I can't give first aid but I think being unconscious is a good sign they need it. Okay?" She didn't wait for a response, just turned and started to head for her lair.

The last thing she wanted was for Updraft to get here and congratulate her again, as if the gas inhalation hadn't been enough to give her a headache. She wasn't a hero, or a first responder, or anyone actually qualified to rescue people. For all she knew, she had done more harm than good with everything that came after putting out the fire. But she had to do something, once she had found herself there. And maybe, just maybe, the people would be a little grateful. Or even, though she knew it was too much to hope for, come to realize that her impending dominance over the globe was the good thing it so obviously was. All the problems she could solve, all the accidents she could prevent, all the good the world could do once it was all properly marshaled and pointed in the right direction...

Frigid started humming to herself, as she started her engines again and sailed off into the sky, to survey from above that slightest fraction of her rightful territory. It would all be hers, soon. Soon.

It was time to start plotting the new big scheme.

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