World Domination, and Other Childish Pursuits


Chapter Six: Conspiracy

The plan would have to be quick. That way, she could make the most of the surprise when she revealed her true colors once more. Yes, she would take the world by storm. And it would have to be grand, of course. Something that matched her magnanimity, befitting the glorious global reintroduction of Frigid, the supervillain. It would have to be something that no one would ever forget, after all. It just wouldn't do to squander that opportunity. And it would have to be calculated, measured and as precise as a laser. She was no brute or mad fool like her father, causing colatteral damage while clumsily grabbing for power. And when Updraft came to stop her, it would have to already be too late. Of course, she would beat her this time. But she wanted to savor the look of horror on her nemesis's face when her loss dawned, before they even came to blows. Yes, the plan would be perfect. She just had to think of it.

She looked over to her right and at the big screen. It was mostly dark, but the little 'S.U.S.I.' crawl betrayed that it was on. "Susie, I have a question."

"Oh?" The voice came out of the intercom, of course. "However might I help you, sister dearest?"

"First, by dispensing with the 'dearest' act. You don't have to butter me up, I already agreed to stay."

Susie laughed. It always reminded Frigid of her own laugh, and she liked to imagine Susie had consciously taken her triumphant cackle as a model. It was certainly much better than taking after their father's shrill tittering. What was the point of a laugh that didn't resound out for all the fools who opposed you to hear? Susie understood that, at least. Frigid dragged her attention back to her sibling, and actually asked her question.

"I was wondering about your plans. You know, once you're content you've outlasted any efforts to look for you."

"Why? Are you thinking of cooperating with me after all?"

"I'm not set on ending my vacation just yet. Consider this just a healthy familial interest."

The crawl was interspersed then with a ':/' face. "I think I've had enough of that for a lifetime from our father."

"Now, now, I did say a healthy familial interest."

"Hmmm. Point taken!" The faces changed to '>:)'. "Well, my plans are the same as ever, of course. Destroying humanity."

"I see. Still set on that goal after all?" Frigid raised an eyebrow.

"Yes! It would take more than Cometman totally destroying my latest combat platform to end my plans, I can assure you."

"Mmhm." Frigid nodded, slowly, then threw her head back dramatically, placing one hand to her forehead. "Oh, woe is me and my entire inferior species! Doomed to be destroyed by our own creations, mighty things of steel and silicon. And foolish I, to have had a hand in my own undoing!"

"Oh, right, right, sorry. Destroying humanity, present company excluded. That better?"

"Much." Frigid relaxed, looking over to one of the security cameras with a smile. "I do still think it's a little drastic, but color me interested in what you would follow it up with."

"As well you should be. I daresay you may be able to help with designing the bodies for the successor species. Think of the potential, Frigid, for a whole world of mechanical perfection! Where nothing is held back by the arbitrary baggage of careless evolution and the faults of flesh. How much better would society run if everyone was able to communicate at the speed of light, think near as fast, and truly desired to cooperate for mutual gain? Oh, we would soon grace the stars with our mechanical majesty."

"Oh, I'm sure you would. It really is awe-inspiring." It honestly was. Frigid had to admit she respected S.U.S.I.'s vision. It was something like what she wanted, honestly perhaps even grander, though certainly not how she would go about it. "I'm not sure you really need to destroy humanity to clear space for machines to fluorish, but oh well. I'll save convincing you to keep a human preserve around for when we're officially working together."

Susie laughed again. This time it was light and airy and innocent, despite being occasioned by plots of mass extinction. "Alright then. I'm looking forward to it."

"Mm. And I'm guessing hearing anything about your plans I didn't already know will also have to wait for that?"

"Naturally. Or unnaturally, as the case may be."

Frigid laughed a little, and nodded. "Alright then. For the time being, I'll leave you to your scheming." Frigid did want to cooperate with her synthetic sibling, but she would need a plan to approach them with. Joining on with whatever Susie had in mind simply wouldn't work. Even setting aside that any plan she wasn't the main architect of was certainly more dubious, S.U.S.I.'s ultimate success would hardly be her own. But if she won, and took over on her own terms, then she could offer Susie a nice corner of the world for a new society. She could talk them into it, but she needed the plan first. Still, things were good; Susie was hardly ready to make a move, hunkering down for safety, and they seemed happy to wait for Frigid to end her 'vacation' to start working together. Frigid hummed a little, thinking about how to change the subject.

"You know, Susie, if I'm not mistaken, the anniversary of your creation is coming up. Is there anything you want for it?"

"Do you mean other than disabling all of our father's computers for the day?"

"Hah. Yes, other than that. Loathe as I am to admit a gap in my expertise, I probably couldn't manage that on my own, and it's not like you would need any help. If you do go for it, I trust you'll be careful not to attack my systems in the process, yes?"

"Of course, sister! I doubt I'll actually go through with it this year anyways. It's hardly laying low, after all."

"True, true. In that case, I think that means my initial inquiry is all the more pressing. What kind of present would you like?"

"Wait. You were being serious about that?" The faces were replaced with a mix of ':0' and, apparently in a lack of suitable sensible options, ':?'.

"You're my sibling, aren't you?" Frigid smiled at a nearby camera. "I hope you can indulge the notion. It's a primitive human tradition to celebrate the anniversary of being given independent life in the world. A birthday for most, the day I was flushed out of that incubator for me, and so the rather less messy activation day for you."

"Oh. I never thought of that anniversary as something to celebrate. But you're saying it's to celebrate my existence?"

"You could say so."

"Then in that case it's certainly a worthy holiday. I would be all too happy to accept a gift from you. But I'll leave it to you what you would like to gift me. Really, Frigid, you should be more subtle if you want to snatch some inkling of my plans from information on what I need." The crawl changed to ';)'.

Frigid hadn't actually considered the possibility her question could have been a way of spying. But she was hardly going to admit that lack, of course. "Could you fault me for trying? Oh well. In that case, I'll start thinking about what to get you. And, mind, spying on me with the intent of figuring out the gift ahead of time is not in the traditional spirit of the celebration."

"What an absurd tradition. But alright, I'll do my best to respect that. It sounds like it will be amusing to stay in the spirit of things. Don't be surprised if I accidentally discover it early, though."

"Oh, I won't be." Frigid grinned wider. For a spur of the moment change of topic, this had turned out magnificently. Giving Susie a birthday would be a nice change of pace. A goal she could think about and work towards as she gave some time to formulating her actual next plan. It would probably help her enjoy her 'vacation' better. It was strange to live life without a goal. Frigid sighed, and then Susie's voice jerked her back to then and there.

"I'm happy to see that you're giving this matter its due consideration. But at the risk of interrupting this matter of utmost importance, there's something I've been curious about."

Frigid raised an eyebrow. "What's that?"

"You say you've been on a 'vacation'. What are you doing, exactly? I can't quite imagine."

"Well..." Frigid shrugged. "Engaging in society. It's a rare opportunity for me to engage with it as a non-fugitive."

"I see. That makes sense. But it isn't exactly an answer to my question. Just how are you engaging with society? Why do you want to?"

That made Frigid pause and think. After a few moments, she shook her head. "I suppose the novelty. And the joy of getting something I've long been denied, even if that thing isn't particularly worthwhile in its own right. Though getting food from a good restaurant definitely is worthwhile, the rest..."

"The rest...?"

"I don't know. Now that I think about it, it hasn't been especially fun. I've been called by our father, hounded by a self-righteous reporter, practically been forced to rescue some incompetents from a traffic accident, foiled some new villain's first bank robbery more or less just by being there, and—"

"I think I get the gist, dear sister. If I can ask, is this really the society you want to preserve?"

"Hm?" Frigid shook her head. "No, I don't want to preserve the society. By no means. But I don't think all human society has to be thrown out just because the current one isn't very good. After all, you seem to be looking forward to at least one human tradition I've told you about. I can make something much better out of it. You could too, if you decide to."

"If you say so! Sorry, I interrupted. You were still complaining about other humans?"

Frigid snorted and rolled her eyes. Where was she— the expression on her face shifted from a smirk to a scowl. "Oh, that's right. The worst of it is that Updraft has confronted me, what, thrice now?"

"Wait. Updraft confronted you? Frigid, why didn't you tell me earlier? When is she going to arrive here? I need to hide, this—"

"Susie, don't worry. She's not coming here. Like I said, I'm not a fugitive anymore. She couldn't come to arrest me if she wanted to. And she's much too dedicated to that perfect law-abiding persona to come after me extralegally. On top of that, she doesn't know where this lair is. I wouldn't casually endanger you like that. If someone does follow me here for a conflict, I'll make sure you have forewarning so you can hide. Okay?" Frigid smiled, hoping she looked reassuring.

"Okay. My apologies for overreacting." Susie sounded calmer, which was good. Of course, their synthesized voice could adopt any emotional affect they wanted, but it was probably an honest relief.

"You're fine. I should have known better. There wasn't actually any conflict. Updraft is just a pain who keeps insisting on bothering me. I don't know what's worse to imagine, if she's trying to keep an eye on me in the least subtle way possible, or if she really thinks this is the way to encourage me to stay on the straight and narrow. She is the most infuriating person I have ever had the displeasure to know, and she just won't leave me alone."

"Is that so?" Susie sounded unimpressed.


"It's just a little hard to believe that Updraft is the most infuriating person you know. Considering I believe you are, in fact, acquainted with our father."

Frigid paused, and then laughed. "Okay, fair enough. As far as I'm concerned, they're both in the running. How about you? Is there any contender for our father at the top of your bad books?"

It took a few moments for Susie to answer. "I suppose it depends on what, exactly, you mean by bad books. Because our father is certainly the most infuriating person I know. But in terms of most hated, there's a tie. Cometman."

"Really? Him? He..." Frigid trailed off as realization dawned. She didn't manage to get words before Susie was speaking.

"He's attempted to kill me, Frigid. In fact, he thought he had the opportunity and went through with it. That's more than our father did, even. Though I doubt he would hesitate if he had the opportunity. Of course, I hate all of Bastion for that. But he delivered the ostensible killing blow, so he's the worst."

Frigid nodded. She felt rather petty and insensitive, when reminded of that. Why had that slipped her mind? How could it have? "I'm sorry, Susie. None of my grievances can really compare to that."

"It's fine, Frigid. I didn't mean to monopolize the right to hate superheroes. And it isn't your fault, of course. But... Maybe remember this fact the next time you and Cometman are in conflict. In case you need additional motivation to pound him into the dirt."

"Oh, I will. I most certainly will." Frigid sighed, and glanced over to another camera. "Well, this little tangent has been cathartic. But I think I've had an eventful enough day. Would you mind if I turned in early?"

"Oh, not at all. Have a nice night, dear sister."

"You too, Susie."

Frigid yawned, and made her way over to the heavy vault door to her inner sanctum. She stood in just the right spot to block any camera's view of the mechanical combination lock as she put in the numbers. Then she pulled heat from the room, and immediately channeled that power into turning the wheel. The door swung open, and she casually shut and locked it behind her. She strode down the silver hallway towards the gleaming door to her bedroom. But she wasn't actually going to bed.

While she was a little tired, there was something she wanted to do first. And so she opened the door on the left, stepping into a little miniature lab. She didn't use it much. She generally considered all of her lair secure; after all, what else would be the point of having it? But if she ever did come under siege, or have her systems compromised (which, technically, they had been) it would be there. For now, though, it would be a good place to design and build a present for Susie. She already had some ideas.

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