"Shiny Little Things"
There had been a white cat
on the dock for quite some time
before Steel deigned to go closer
and figure out what was going on.
The cat had been batting around
something small, metallic, and
quite complicated while chanting,
Can you hear me now? over
and over again in his head.
I hear you, Steel replied.
The cat jumped high in the air
and then landed on his feet.
You aren't Rusty, the cat snapped.
Who are you? Where are you?
Here, the whale said, and spouted
so the cat could see him better.
My name is Steel. Who are you?
The cat yowled at the spray of
salt water. He ignored Steel
in favor of aggressively licking
his dampened coat.
Eventually he replied,
I'm Schrodinger -- the real one,
not the fake black version.
Steel snorted. I have only
seen one cat at the dock today.
Schrodinger poked at the metal thing again.
Drat it, now I've lost the proper setting,
he complained. Do you have any idea
what it was on when you heard me?
This one, Steel said, reaching out
to twist the dial back to where it had been.
But I've been hearing you all along.
I hear everyone's thoughts.
Oh, well that's useless!
said Schrodinger. I need
a way to amplify my thoughts
so that humans can hear them.
I do not recognize your little tool,
but there are landers who specialize
in such things, said Steel. There is one
who works down where the fish are cleaned,
so that nobody bothers him at work.
I like fish, said Schrodinger.
Perhaps I will track down this human
and see if we may do business.
I do wonder why you are twiddling
with that gizmo, Steel said. We are
most fortunate to have the Maldives as
a welcoming place. Most are not so fond
of people with superpowers. There is
a standing request not to damage
the territory or offend the natives.
Schrodinger gave a whiskery snicker.
I'm not planning to do anything here,
he said. I just came here because
this dimension is a wonderful place
to steal devices that do useful things.
It's meant as a ... surprise ... for
some opponents of mine.
Even Steel could not follow all
of the twists and turns of
the cat's convoluted mind,
full of memories about
traveling between worlds.
He understood perfectly, however,
the desire to tweak the fins of those
who had proven annoying.
With a flick of his mind,
Steel picked up several of
the shiny little things that humans
had dropped into the harbor over
the centuries, and dropped
them onto the dock.
Gold coins winked amidst
blackened silver and rusted bottlecaps.
There, now you have something
to throw at your opponents, said Steel.
If you are working far away, perhaps
they will not recognize these and
will find them confusing.
The cat pounced on the treasure
and promptly knocked one of
the gold coins back into the water.
Steel rumbled a laugh and
returned it to the dock. Have you
any way of carrying these?
Schrodinger reached into thin air
and brought out a box. He nosed
the treasures into the box, closed it,
and made it disappear again.
Steel had watched the whole process
and still had no idea how he had done it.
This will be so much fun, said Schrodinger.
My nemesis will never be able to resist
pouncing on these, and the humans
will be so very confused by them!
What do you want in return?
Steel hadn't even bothered to think
of that, but he knew that landers often
obsessed over such exchanges.
Some of that green mud the landers
like to put on their food, he said,
mentally pointing at a sushi cart.
Oh, wasabi, said Schrodinger.
Way to ruin a perfectly good fish,
but whatever, it's your funeral.
The white cat darted over to the cart,
twined between the legs of the vendor,
and absconded with a glass jar.
He spat it into the harbor
and said, I hope you can
open that. I don't have thumbs.
Steel used his superpower to twist off
the lid of the jar, bend that into a scoop,
and scrape the zesty paste into his mouth.
He liked the way it made his tongue tingle.
Schrodinger picked up his gizmo
and said, Thank you for your help,
wet brother. I will go find that human
who works with devices. Then he
trotted away, white tail held high.
Good hunting, said Steel,
and sank back below the waves.
Moderato probably wouldn't approve
of Steel making mischief like this, but
he was busy elsewhere helping Siggy
with the human whose mind was broken,
which left Steel to his own devices
for much of the afternoon.
So there was no need to mention
this little diversion to Moderato.
* * *
Supervillains have their own standards, and can be protective of their territory. By welcoming soups, the Republic of the Maldives has become a place of very few incidents, because the soups don't want to lose that.
Wasabi paste can be made from the genuine wasabi plant, but is more often made with horseradish. You can buy it or make your own.