Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Action Sue: Chapter 1

Have you ever known someone who's better than you?

Of course you have. Everyone knows someone who's better than them in at least one thing or another. No, I'm talking about the kind of person who's better than everyone at everything.

You know the one. They're popular in school, they're really smart, they have perfect looks, they make tons of money at an easy job, and they have lots of friends who would do anything for them. And even though they help out at the homeless shelter and read books to children, they still have time to get published in science magazines for some incredible discovery or another, not to mention their well-loved series of sci-fi novels about a thinly veiled version of themselves traveling through space and time.

Well, maybe I'm exaggerating a bit. But the point is, there's people out there who are just straight-up better than everyone they know. They may not realize it, but everyone else does.

If you know someone like that, congratulations. You know what a Mary Sue is.

Now, those more learned among you might claim 'Mary Sue? Those don't exist in real life!' Those less learned among you might ask 'What's a Mary Sue?' The problem is that it's hard to tell exactly what a Sue is, because they come in so many different shapes, sizes and fits: some of them are near-perfect gods with incredible charisma, some are outright jerks but are still loved by everyone, and some even wield abilities and knowledge beyond any of their peers.

Well, maybe not the latter. At least, not in your world, dear reader. But admit it; you know that, if you ever got a popular series of sci-fi novels of your own, you'd write in people like that as the villains, because everyone else ignored you in high school to fawn over them and you deserved the limelight too.

But not all Sues are like that. Sure, they can be jerks or even morally bankrupt, but some of us come to realize our inherent Sue-ness and decide to do good things with our power. Others... well, they go berserk and slaughter everyone else while they cry about their anguished and tortured souls, but most of us at least try to help the world.

I'm one of the latter. Er, the ones who try to help, not the angsty war gods. It's best not to get those confused, especially in front of a Sue.

The morning sun peeks through the window of my bedroom. An automatic timer buzzes, and the windows open; the warm salty breeze of the ocean drifts into my room, gently waking me from my slumber.

The blanket automatically folds itself as I get out of bed, and I stretch and yawn in the light of the sun. Ahh, it's going to be a beautiful day today. I can tell just from the smell of the wind and the light of the sun; I took a meteorology course in college, and my professor taught me a few tricks on how to predict the weather. (Most of the mainstream weather reporters know them too, but they pretend not to keep their hold on the meteorology monopoly. It's a surprisingly corrupt business.)

Something knocks on my door. Once I'm done stretching, I walk over and open it; a floating red sphere about the size (and shape) of a basketball whizzes by me, looks at my bed, panics for a moment before turning around and realizing I was there the whole time. I thought I removed those comic relief subroutines? I'll have to check them again.

"Ah, good morning Miss." a robotic, vaguely-British voice says. The probe projects a hologram of a tall older bald man dressed in an immaculate black suit. The hologram bows to me. "It is 8:01 AM, the weather is fair, and you have no major events scheduled for today. What would you like for breakfast today?"

"Oh, good question." I ponder for a moment... "Uh, I'll get back to you, Jeevestron. I'm going to clean up first."

"Of course, miss." Jeevestron bows to me again, and the sentry flies back out of my room. I could swear that I took out the comic relief bits code during his last defrag session, but then again, AIs can be so unpredictable.

Oh, I guess I forgot to mention my loyal staff of robots. See, me and one of my old friends built a robot out of spare parts while we were in high school. I handled the software, and he built the hardware; it was pretty much one of those things where you work on it a little bit each day, and you don't realize how far you've come until the robot asks you what the meaning of life is.

So of course, we patented the design and code and sold it off to the highest bidder. Both Seamus and I made bucketloads of money, and while he decided to go off and keep working on improved hardware, I sunk all of my money into an island in the Caribbean and built a villa on it. I still get royalty checks from Globobot Inc., so I'm never wanting for money, and they've promised me free upgrades and maintenance for life.

Jeevestron there is the prototype, though Seamus rebuilt his body into a more efficient design with a holoprojector. I'm not sure why he wanted to stay with me and not him, but he seems happy enough as my head butler, and I let him do whatever he wants as long as he promises not to hijack nuclear launch codes and start a world-ending war with robots as the only survivors. He's mentioned that offhand a couple of times, but it could have been a joke. It's hard to tell with British humour.

But the day's young, and I need to shower. Unfortunately for you folks at home, I'm omitting that particular scene. Trust me; you'll get plenty of fanservice later on. Let's skip to about... here, with me brushing my hair. Sure, having knee-length hair looks nice, but it takes so much time to brush. I have a couple of robots in French maid costumes helping me out (Seamus gave me to them as a birthday present. I tried to take the costumes off, but they're welded on to their bodies), but even still, it takes us at least 20 minutes to get all of the knots out.

And it takes another 10 minutes for the maids to braid my hair. It's just a lot more convenient than having it bouncing around everywhere, and they can do it a lot faster than any human could. And that's why I love robots, even though these ones kind of have the uncanny valley thing going on with their unfocused eyes and blank expressions. That's not their fault, though. I think I'll have to contact Seamus about upgrading them with proper face animatronics.

Once that's all done, I walk out of the bathroom, and I happen to catch a glimpse of myself in a full-body mirror. Oh yeah, I'm one sexy babe. I'm a bronzed beauty (thanks to my Mediterranean heritage) with red hair, a flat stomach and killer curves. But I'm kinda short, and my close friends (and only my close friends) like to mock my lack of chestiness, since I'm a Sue and all. But I like to consider that a feature - after all, do you know how hard it is to do martial arts with huge boobs swinging around all willy-nilly? It's not as easy as they make it look in the movies, and unless you're wearing a steel bra, it just throws off your balance and all that. Again, I might be a Sue, but I at least like to keep a slightly realistic appearance.

Once I'm done admiring myself (only for 2 minutes this time, and mostly because I'm describing myself to the readers), I walk over to my walk-in closet. Ooh, costume porn. Well, I want to do a bit of extra training today, so I think the skimpy red ninja outfit is out of the question, as is the white blouse and purple skirt combo with a ribbon on the ass. Seriously, I never got why that was such a huge thing.

Instead, I choose the simple black gi with a white waistband and decorative huge prayer beads. I grab a pair of fingerless gloves and stick them in my pocket for later. It's too early for shoes, so I just slip on some black socks. I slide across the wooden floor of my room, out the door and down the banister, into the kitchen.

"Good morning, miss." Jeevestron says. "The chefs have taken the liberty of squeezing some fresh orange juice and preparing some toast for you."

"Cool." I sit down, and one of those robot maids hand me a tray of orange juice and buttered toast. "Uh, how about two scrambled eggs and three sausages for the main course? With lots of ketchup."

"Coming up, miss." Jeevestron nods to the male robots dressed in white aprons, and they start frying up some eggs and sausages. Soon enough, the kitchen is thick with the smell of eggs and meat, and I gobble down my toast and polish off the orange juice to keep myself satiated. The maids pour more juice and offer to bring more toast, but I decline. I want to save some room for the eggs.

"Ah, I meant to mention, miss. One of the sentries' motion detectors went off around 2 AM last night. Unfortunately, we didn't capture any video footage, but I shall inform you if we detect anything tonight as well."

"Oh, okay. Just, don't start shooting this time, okay? We don't need to kill another endangered bird."

"Of course, miss." Jeevestron glances out the window, onto the white beach where several sentry robots lay waiting in the sand. They can be a bit overzealous, but hey, I like my privacy.

The chefs bring me the eggs and sausages (with lots of ketchup), and I politely cut them up into small chunks and delicately bring them to my mouth, making sure not to drip any ketchup on my gi. Normally I'd just scarf it all down without a second thought, but I've got an audience today and I wouldn't want to look rude.

"Ah, I see that you have learned some table manners." Jeevestron dryly notes. "Will that be all, miss?"

"Yeah, I'm done." I set the fork and knife on the empty plate, and the robots remove the tray from the table and throw them in the sink. "I think I'm gonna do some extra training with Rocky today. Call me if anything comes up."

"Of course, miss." Jeevestron bows and excuses himself, and the little red robot projecting him whizzes off to another part of the villa. He's probably going back to chat some more on his Facebook group for intelligent robots, but I don't mind; I like to give my robots plenty of freedom, just so that they don't rebel on me in case someone else starts the world-ending robot war. Well, I guess they might anyways, but I like to think I treat them with respect, unlike everyone else in most robot war stories.

I slip my socks off and run onto the sandy beach, to the gym on the other side of the island. My training can get pretty intense; I ended up pretty much wrecking the gym we initially built inside the villa, so I had it rebuilt over there to stop that from happening again.

Inside the gym is Rocky, my personalized version of Globobot's Kung Fu Bot model. Globobot's robots are still pretty expensive, especially for models like Kung Fu Bot; not only do they have to have better-than-average servos and motor control, but they have to have extensive training and knowledge in many different martial arts styles. Even still, there's lots of people who are claiming that Globobot's robots are gonna put thousands or even millions out of work, thanks to their positions being replaced by robots. But that's what they said in the Industrial Revolution, and we're still doing pretty good, right?

"Good morning, miss! The sentries detected an intruder last night, but I was unable to intercept them in time. I am sorry." Rocky claps his hands together and bows to me, and I do the same.

"Don't worry, it was probably just a bird or something." To be honest, I really don't want to see what this guy would do to a bird. Killing them instantly by shooting them is at the very least humane. "So, how's your body feeling? Need any maintenance?"

"I am in top condition." Despite the stereotype of Asian kung fu masters, I decided to give Rocky a Russian accent. Mostly because it seemed funny at the time. "So, what would you like to practice today?"

"Ooh, let's do some more Brazilian kickboxing." I slip on my gloves from earlier.

"Very good choice, miss. I believe that your legwork could use some improvement."

"I'll show you my legwork, all right." I bend my knees and slip into a defensive stance, and Rocky runs right at me.

A couple of hours later, we call it quits after I kick Rocky through a wall, onto the warm beach.

"You okay?" I jump through the hole created by his body and onto the sand, grabbing his arm. Of course, I briefly forget that he's a robot and thus much heavier, so he mostly helps himself up without my aid.

"Of course I am, miss. I am much tougher than you seem to believe." Rocky brushes some of the sand off of his gi, and walks back into the gym. "But I will admit, kicking me through a wall was something I didn't expect from you."

"And that's why you fell on your ass." I say, admiring my own handiwork. "Well, I think I'm done for the day."

"Yes, I believe that is a wise course of action." Rocky keeps brushing himself off. It occurs to me that sand and robots don't mix all that well, but if he starts complaining about not moving as fast as he used to, I'll just call Globobot.

But man is it getting hot out here. It doesn't help that I just did a couple hours of intense working out, but I need to cool off. Fortunately for me, I live on an island surrounded by water, so I can go for a dip anytime I please. I run back to the villa, stripping off my clothes as I go, and five minutes later I'm swimming through the clear water in a flame-patterned bikini.

So while we're waiting for the next plot point, I guess I should tell you fine folks a bit about myself. All things considered, my childhood was relatively normal - I never knew my dad, but my mom was completely upfront with me about it. She did some prostitution on the side to put herself through college, and I guess her birth control failed or something; either that, or my dad was also a Sue, and his super-special sperm just somehow made her pregnant or something. She never understood how it happened, but she decided to keep me.

We grew up in rural New York state (yes, it exists), and my mom's office job kept us clothed, sheltered and fed, which was enough. My grandparents babysat me most of the time, and they were pretty much the stereotypical Old World grandparents you see in movies - old and weary, but still loving and affectionate. I never once heard them tell my mom off for being a single parent, though maybe they told her over the phone or something.

Pretty normal so far, right? Well, I knew from a very young age (and I think my mom and grandparents suspected it too) that I was just born lucky. If I ever needed pocket change, I could just walk around the street and find bills almost without fail, I could eat like a horse and never gain weight, I had almost perfect health (I got colds and stomach flus and the like, but never anything more than that), and even in elementary school, everyone liked me without much effort on my part.

But it was only on my sixteenth birthday that I realized that my so-called "luck" wasn't just a long string of coincidences. See, my birthday present that year was a cherry-red Mustang that just showed up in our driveway one day, with a "Happy Birthday Luk" card on the hood. We had no idea who left it there or why; my mom called all of the dealerships in and around town, and while the license and registration was valid, nobody had any record of selling it to anyone.

Normally, we'd just pass it off as more good luck, but it got me thinking. I'd wanted my own car (specifically a red one, to go with my hair) for a long time, but I knew my mom wouldn't be able to afford another one. We did have an old junker of a truck, but it went kaput the day before my sixteenth birthday; that night, I spent all night wishing for another car as a "sweet sixteen" present, and what do you know?

And that's what clued me in to my nature as a Sue. It seems that I have some sort of innate power, which I'm calling "probability manipulation" since that sounds fancier than "being lucky". I can sort of subconsciously influence things; stuff like dice rolls, coin flips, random draw-type events like that. (Yes, I did try using it in Vegas, but most of the casinos kicked me out for cheating.) Even things with a lot of variables, like dodging a punch, can be helped if I affect the probability of the arm flying toward me hitting a strangely-dense pocket of air and slowing down just enough for me to react. Having entire cars materialize overnight isn't something that's happened to me again, but then again, I spent a lot of time on wishing for that, so I guess it was bound to happen.

But I've had my fair share of bad luck too. My probability manipulation is heavily skewed in my favour, but there's still the chance of epic failure with any random event. That cherry-red Mustang? I hit a patch of ice and totalled it. In the summer.

Nowadays, I prefer only using it for little things, and only when I desperately need it. If there is some sort of cosmic balance book keeping track of my artificially-enhanced good luck, I don't want it to all come crashing down on me at once.

I feel something poke me in the back. Ah, perfect, the next plot point. I make my way to shore, and I feel something small stuck into my back; I yank it out, and it turns out to be a little dart of some sort. Hmm, I'm feeling kinda dizzy. So someone tried to sedate me with a dart? Or is it poisonous? I can't tell just yet, but whoever it was, they're on the island somewhere. The adrenaline starts flowing through my veins, clearing up my head enough for me to think clearly. I've probably got only about 10 minutes or so before I pass out, so I've gotta make this quick.

Something stirs underneath the sand. I prepare to deliver a crushing palm strike to its leg, but it turns out to be one of the many sentry turrets I installed. It fires at a target behind me; I turn around, and see a man dressed head-to-toe in sand-coloured clothing drop to the ground. I run over to him as the turret sinks back into the ground.

This man is deliberately dressed in something that matches the color and texture of sand. He's wearing a cowl that keeps his face hidden, only showing his eyes; I try ripping the cowl off, but it seems to be stuck directly to his face. Fortunately, the turrets have pretty good aim, so it only shot his legs; he's hurt and bleeding, but he'll survive.

"Wait a minute." I say aloud. "You, you're a... no way."

"Long live the shinobi!" the man coughs out. White foam bubbles up underneath his cowl and through his eyes, and his body goes limp.

Ninjas? Ninjas. Why the hell are there ninjas on my island? Presumably they're here to kill or capture me (or my robots, though I doubt that), but why would they send ninjas of all people? Granted, I didn't notice him at all, so they're probably well-trained, but why not just send an armed strike team or something?

I'm starting to feel light-headed again. I need to keep the adrenaline flowing. I leap up from the dead ninja and run over to the gym; I jump through the hole that Rocky made, only to see him fighting off another ninja. Rocky grabs the ninja's arm, and the ninja attempts to karate-chop him in the neck. Silly ninjas, that doesn't work on robots. Rocky twists the ninja's arm, breaking it with a very loud crack, and the ninja drops to the ground.

"It appears that this is the intruder from last night, miss." Rocky says nonchalantly as he grabs the ninja by the neck. "Explain yourself."

But the ninja mimics his friend, chomping down on a cyanide pill and going limp. Rocky throws him at the wall, creating another hole in the wall as the dead ninja breaks through the cheap wooden paneling.

"I'm going to have to rebuild this thing into a steel bunker." I remark. "Yeah, I fought off another ninja on the beach, and I wouldn't be surprised if there's more."

"I see. I have infrared imaging software, so I will attempt to hunt down any more hiding in the sand." Rocky presses something on his temple, and his eyes shoot out green lasers of some sort. "There appears to be several targets in the house as well. Shall I take care of them first?"

"No, just take care of the beach. I'll handle the house."

Rocky and I exit the gym. I start running full-tilt toward the villa, attempting to keep my heart pumping as fast as possible. That should keep the poison, or sedative, or whatever at bay for a little while. Or I think it should. That movie had better not lied to me.

"Miss, watch out!" I hear Rocky yell, but too late; a hand bursts from underneath the sand, grabbing my ankle and throwing me face-first into the sand. I roll on my back in time to see another ninja holding a hypodermic needle full of clear liquid.

"You're wanted alive, Miss Luk." the ninja says. Oddly enough, his voice isn't muffled at all, but I don't really have time to pay attention to things like that. The ninja pounces on me, but I give him a good kick to the chest with my right leg. I prop him up with both legs, and throw him to the side. My head's starting to spin. I try to get up, but the ninja jumps on my back and holds me down; I feel something cold and sharp prick my back, and the ninja gets off of me.

"Damn it, you could just ask!" I shout. I get to my knees, but the ninja puts his foot on my back. The treads of his shoes are sharp, and his intention is clear. "If you wanted to take me to someone, I'd be happy to go with you!"

"Oh." The ninja sounds almost disappointed. "But you are coming with us regardless."

"Like hell!" The ninja puts pressure on my back, but I roll underneath him before he draws blood. Ooh, I'm in the perfect position. I punch him right in the nuts; he yelps in pain and collapses to the ground.

"Should've worn a cup!" I yell after him as I get up. I keep running to the villa, but my muscles are starting to relax against my will. He must've given me more of that sedative or whatever. Come to think of it, I didn't see any sort of wrapping on the needle, and he presumably had it buried in the sand. Shit. I'm gonna sue his employer's ass for using dirty needles.

Another ninja flies through the doors of my villa, shattering them into splinters. One of the robot maids stands there, arms raised but with a blank expression still on her face.

"There are intruders within the house, miss." she says. "They appear to be able to hide from our imaging sensors."

"Yeah, thanks." I brush by the maid. Of course ninjas can hide... unless she meant that they have some sort of ultra-advanced camouflage? But that'd be cheating! Ninjas are supposed to be all about trickery and illusions, yeah, but bringing advanced technology into the mix is just unfair. Then again, my robots just beat a couple of them up, so maybe I'm being hypocritical.

As I run through the hallway to the living room, a ninja drops from the ceiling onto my back. My body instinctively reacts before I can even think; I grab the ninja's arms and throw him against the wall, fortunately not causing another hole that we'll have to repair later. The ninja is dazed, but he gets up and draws a simple metal stick around a foot long; on closer inspection, it's hollow, so it's probably a blowgun of sorts.

The ninja runs at me and swings his blowgun, but I grab it with one arm and kick him in the chest. He hits the wall again, but I don't let him recover this time; I let out a loud kiai and kick him right in the face, breaking his nose and probably a couple of his teeth. He crumples to the ground, bleeding all over my polished wooden floor. I hope that comes out.

"Who are you working for?" I ask. But sure enough, the ninja can't answer on account of being dead. Damn it! I understand not wanting yourself to be captured by the enemy and giving out important secrets, but presumably it takes a long time to properly train a ninja, so you'd think they wouldn't be so quick to off themselves.

Two more ninjas approach me from either side of the hall. One blows another dart at me, but I lean back and dodge it; the other ninja runs at me, tackling me around the midsection and knocking me to the ground, taking the chance to cop a feel while we fall. Enjoy it while it lasts, buddy.

I grab the ninja's shoulders and attempt to push him off of me, but he keeps his arms held tightly against my stomach (and his head right in my boobs). We tumble around a couple of times, but the other ninja intervenes and shoots another dart into my back. Even the adrenaline is failing now; I'm moving on instinct alone, and my mind's at least two steps behind my body at all times. We roll around again, and I end up on top of the ninja. I deliver a hard left to his jaw, shattering some of his teeth, and he lets go of me enough to shove my knees into his stomach and spring myself up.

Two more ninjas come in from behind the second ninja, but the chefs follow them in and whack them with frying pans, knocking them both out cold. The ninja right in front of me briefly looks back at his comrades. Bad idea. I take a few steps back and run at him, jumping and delivering a flying kick to his upper torso. We're both floored by the attack, but one of the chefs walks over and helps me up, while the other pins the ninja down with his mighty robot strength.

"How many more of them are there?" I ask.

"This one is the last." the chef says. "Rocky has taken care of all of the intruders hiding on the beach, and we have done the same in the villa. Unfortunately, all of them have taken cyanide pills to prevent them from talking."

And of course, the last ninja being held down by the chef goes limp as well.

"Okay, good." I say, holding my head. "Uh, tell Jeevestron to uh, take care of the bodies. However he wants to do it is fine. I, uh, need a nap."

The sedatives finally do their job as I crumple to the floor. My vision goes out, and I lose consciousness. All in all, I held out quite a bit longer than they probably expected, but even if that stuff was just a sedative, they put a lot into me...

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