Ha. You’re out.

“This isn’t the first time we’ve met,” Claire’s voice was hard and even, “And nothing has changed since then. I didn’t buy into your crap then, and I sure won’t now.”
“Oh, but you can’t blame me for trying,” Dr. Holocaust’s voice was still friendly, genial. His smile was still disarming, charming.
“I suppose I could have a talk with the others,” he continued, walking up and down the row of chained women, “I doubt all of them would share your fortitude.”
“You better not be insulting my boys’ taste in women,” Claire shot back with the ghost of a smile. She tried to catch of each of the young ladies in turn, hoping to inspire them, but Dr. Holocaust had already started to work on them. It had often been said that he had no superpowers, and as a result most of the heroes of old underestimated him, or found themselves confused by him, which made their minds all too easy to plunder. In reality, the man dubbed Dr. Holocaust had one very important power: he was a perfect example of a human being.
He extended his index finger as he rounded the end of the little procession, leveling his gaze directly at Lucy.
“You know who I am, don’t you? My face… you recognize it?”
“Yes…” Lucy said after forcing the words through her steeled throat, “but I can’t remember where.”
“My dear, you should be commended for even knowing me. Not everyone watches C-SPAN, you know.”
“I’m sure I’ve seen you before, too,” Melanie offered, drawing only a sidelong glance from Holocaust.
“Of course you have. So who am I, Lucille? It is Lucille, isn’t it?”
“Er, yes, although I don’t much like to use that name.”
“I understand completely. I never much liked my full name, either… which is why you might remember me instead as Congressman Bill Abend.”
“That’s it!” Lucy’s eyes widened with recognition, “That’s you! I mean, that was you… but how did you?”
“How do I stay so young?” Holocaust’s voice was still a honeyed sound, “Perhaps I’ll let you ladies in on that secret a little later. I have, after all, all sorts of creations down here to benefit all of mankind. This is an expensive laboratory to maintain.”
“So… so who is Bill Abend?”
All conversation stopped. Dr. Holocaust turned slowly to Gina, who had asked the question, approaching her with the single-mindedness of a cobra.
“You are not one of them,” he said plainly, simply, “I do not know why you are here. You… intrigue me. Therefore, I will answer your question. That is, of course, unless our historical scholar can do me better.”
“Bill Abend had one of the most turbulent records in the history of the House of Representatives. He managed to whip up public opinion for all sorts of bizarre initiatives. He was instrumental in supporting the Gulf of Tonkin resolution. He was constantly re elected, despite being disciplined many times. In 1976, he declined to run for re-election…and then he simply vanished. He became a footnote in history.”
“Ah, but a footnote can also denote a source, Lucy,” he took his time selecting that last word, that name, “and I have not had an idle thirty-five years. I am one of, if not the primary source for every major invention and advancement since the Ford Administration. The US Government has worked with me in several capacities, under several names, to create everything from Stealth Bombers to the modern Internet. I have been the invisible hand behind the very world in which you live your lives: my mind and my creation have given birth to every material item you now hold dear. If I had known before that the American model was so easy to pervert and corrupt, I would have left Congress to the buffoons years earlier. I much prefer working on the inside.”
“And how, exactly, can you prove any of this?” Melanie shot back forcefully, “Because right now, to me, you’re just a Neo-Nazi who locked me in his basement.”
“You could always ask your mother in law, Melanie,” he replied, “although something tells me you won’t be satisfied with the answer. Rather, simply look into my face, look into my face; I know you trust your own judgement, so tell me what you see.”
He stepped up very closely to her, uncomfortably so. She could smell his light cologne, hear his gentle breath, almost taste his scented breath, but he did not touch her in any way. Melanie was bound and, although her neck could move, it was not enough to avoid his piercing gaze. After a few torturous moments, Dr. Holocaust relented.
“What did you see, Melanie?” He asked Melanie, walking in a great circle around the dimly lit room, “tell them what you saw in my eyes, what you know to be true: tell them that you saw the Exceptional. Tell them that you truly saw a human being who is beyond your recollection, a human that is above you, better than you. I am aware of how your husband can read people, and with no doubt you have been able to mimic some of his skills. Perhaps he even used some of them on you, but tell me… do you see your better when you look at me?”
“Of course not!” she hissed, wounded, “That’s arrogant!”
“Arrogant?” Holocaust’s smile grew wider, “I hardly think so. You see, when I was only fourteen years old I stoked the fires of Birkenau. I was always a bright boy, it was almost too simple to lie my way into the Fuhrer’s army. I learned so much there, but not as much as you, or the history books, might think. I did not learn to become some sort of inhuman monster, far from it. I learned what humanity truly is: selfish, greedy, duplicitous and, above all, powerful. There is such power in humanity that we restrain with our idioms and our morals. If we only were to set ourselves free, we could solve all of our problems, and the price in blood or guilt would be paid back a hundredfold. Beyond guilt, beyond fear, beyond shame, there is power. You…”
He approached a terrified Gina.
“You understand me. I can see it in your eyes. There have been times when you are tempted away from your husband, into the arms of another man, but what holds you back? Only the outmoded ideas that hamper the pure potential of humanity. You fear because you know whatever love affair you engaged in would have such power, and furthermore you fear the guilt you would have because of it. But why fear, Gina? You have done nothing wrong. In fact, you understand more than the others that hang here with you: you understand yourself, you understand the basis of your humanity in all of its ugly and glorious forms. Within the core of humanity is the power that made us the dominant creatures of this world, we need only to grasp it…”
“That’s disgusting!”
“And you,” Dr. Holocaust rounded on Melanie, “You are afraid to tell me that I am right. You’re afraid to tell me that you agree, that this is a horrible world full of horrible people, because admitting that would ruin the world you have constructed, a world wherein you reign over such a small kingdom, where your word is law. Without your construction, and without those laws of decency that govern it, what is to stop me from cutting you to the quick within your own castle walls and ceasing your unsolicited but cherished opinions once and for all? And you call me arrogant… I am simply reality.”
“Be strong, girls,” Claire cautioned when Holocaust stopped for breath, “It’s a trick, don’t listen!”
“But they have to listen, Claire!” the Doctor rounded on her now, his words carrying great weights of pleasure as they rolled from his tongue, “They always listen. One way or another, they listen: either they listen now, and they are transformed, or they listed later, after they have been broken… but they always listen because I am always right.
“N-no!” Lucy blurted out, her eyes wide in terror, cursing her mouth for the very act of speaking.
“Oh?” Dr. Holocaust was grinning now, “Are you wishing to challenge me?”
“The things you say… they can’t be right. They just… can’t.”
She was crying openly now, near the breaking point. Holocaust played with a crystal cross that hung around her neck.
“And why is that, Lucille? Is it because your Christ told you so? Your Christ, whose words have been bastardized and raped throughout history, along with countless other well-meaning prophets? I am no such friendly soothsayer, unlike your sanitized Messiah. He knew the evils of the world, and he struck out at them as I strike out at sloth and indolence today. Your kind choose to ignore his activism, and focus only on your reward… that very cross you wear, how many souls could it have purchased from the jaw of poverty, or disease, but instead you wear as a shield, as a crutch?”
“No, please…”
“Yes, sorry? What was that?”
“I don’t…” Lucy’s voice was nearly inaudible through sobs, “I don’t want it.”
“Ah yes,” Holocaust fondled the cross further, “let the cup pass from me, Fraulein…”
Lucy’s head snapped up for an instant, and her eyes glimmered with a rare fire.
“I don’t want what you have. I don’t want that power. I wouldn’t even know what to do with it all.”
Dr. Holocaust stopped for just an instant, then, tapping his index finger to his bottom lip.
“We’ll talk again,” he said flatly, “Perhaps when you aren’t so… distraught. I am sorry that I had to do this to you, ladies. You see, I had to find a way to get the attention of your men. Your husband went into hiding and, to his credit and to yours, it did take me some time to find him. As soon as I surmised that the entire family was involved in the enterprise, my curiosity was piqued further, and I knew I simply had to bring them down here.”
“I suppose you have lots of traps or guards waiting for them, or something?” Melanie asked.
“Oh, far from it,” Holocaust replied, “this crumbling wreck could not support any kind of major defense. I can barely keep my lab in working order after Robert’s little episode. He destroyed my work, government-sanctioned work mind you… I could have him arrested in the blink of an eye, and the execution of Ultro could take place in front of all the world to see… but I don’t want that. I don’t want him dead, I merely want to talk to him and, by extension, his sons. They are my antithesis, and I wish only to gather data. The other supermen, when I have found them, have been so easy to talk to, but Robert was always so adamant. Why was that, Claire? Do you know?”
“I’m not talking,” she shot back with hooded lids, “Or maybe you would understand this: keine sprechen, Arschloch!
“You always were so clever, I can see why Bob was quick to snatch you up. Of course, it certainly helped his case that you happened to be as clever as you are, it was probably worth putting you in mortal danger from time to time for the romance, don’t you agree?”
“Stop it,” Claire hissed.
“And you, Melanie,” he said as he moved down the line, “I understand you don’t have any children. Surely the danger of a life like Tom’s played into that decision, didn’t it? I mean, imagine if your son or daughter was chained up, down here, with the bad, bad man…”
He didn’t wait for a response, he moved on to Gina.
“Recently married Gina, and with a rocky go of it, from what it seems. He’s always away at work, isn’t he? Always working those long hours, standing in front of that camera, putting his face out to hundreds, thousands… do you feel alone, even with his familiar face on the television screen every night? Does the thrill of marrying a local celebrity fail to soothe the loneliness? Is his ego, his commitment to doing what’s ‘right’ for all the little people… is it doing right by you?”
He moved on.
“And Lucy. I told you I’d come back. So strong in your faith, and the newest addition to the Graf family… they do not share your faith, do they? What else do they not share? They are so loud, so opinionated, like nothing you ever experienced in your comfortable suburban lifetime; don’t you just wish you could find the off switch sometimes?”
Holocaust pivoted neatly on a highly polished heel, gesturing down the line to Claire.
“Think, Mother Graf, if you will of Bob’s Melancholy. Think, New Sisters, of the Melancholy of your own men: Dan tries so hard to get the word out, Tom hides in his factory, and Ben?”
The next words came out so quietly and so deftly that only Lucy heard them.
“He’s new to the experience, but his melancholy is compounded by those who came before him.”
He spoke out to the group at large again.
“They get sad, they get angry, they get frustrated for seemingly no reason. Dan strives to cope by being stronger, doesn’t he, Gina?”
“And Tom… Tom merely augments his world to fit his desires. Haven’t you ever wondered, Melanie, whether you have surrendered free thought to your husband, and if his mental powers control you to do his bidding?”
“Melanie!” Claire hollered.
“And Lucy,” Holocaust wore a face of almost pity, “Doesn’t it confuse you, bother you that Ben simply can’t find a decent job? In your mind you know that he is capable, but what keeps it from him? You hide the truth from yourself, because it is uncomfortable: you cannot stand to see him working the drudgery he is now, you know he can do more… but you hide it. You do not wish to be uncomfortable.”
He leaned in close, but his voice did not soften.
“Life should be uncomfortable. It is only through our faults and our failings that we can become better. Let go of your worries and your hatred of your own faults. Embrace them, free yourself… it’s what Ben would want.”
Lucy turned to her sisters and her mother-in-law, fear shining in her eyes.
“He’s right, you know…” she gasped.
“These men are devious!” Holocaust’s voice rang from the rafters, “They are broken and faulty human beings in the way that they do not acknowledge their faults. They capture the women, shining examples, and they force them to fit the mold they want, force them and intimidate them, sometimes even without knowing, into being what they want. They are boys, but they are smart boys who have learned how best to create their toys. You see, this is the issue with having such power in such flawed individuals: they force their truly human nature into a dungeon called civility, but the prisoners fester beneath them and their noxious gases pollute their beings. The world represses so much that it spills out in the very thing they fear…”
He gestured to each of the sisters in turn.
“Insecurity!” Melanie.
“Infidelity!” Gina.
“Failure!” Lucy.
“And finally…” he approached Claire, “it manifests in you, Claire. Your mother, she never really cared for you, did she? It’s not a great leap in logic, by your own admission, I’m sure, that you have lived your life and built your family in way to ensure you would not be the distant, scolding mother you grew to despise. But listen to your words of the past few minutes… think about them. Did you ever once tell them that you loved them, that you cared for them? No. You scolded them, you instructed them…  just like your mother would have.”
Claire suddenly came alive, wrenching her wrists and ankles against the chains. The others could not plead with her to stop, their minds were all swimming with uncertainty. When the blood started flowing from underneath the manacles, Holocaust knew he had won this round, and began taunting her.
“Oh, how very unladylike, Claire. Surely your mother wouldn’t have approved of all this!”
As if he knew it was coming, Holocaust turned around delicately to find himself confronted with the four emerging shapes: Nevermind, the Blue Traveler, Ben in his ragtag costume and, leading them all, a fuming Bob Graf.
“I knew Mona Klemper. By the time she finally kicked the bucket, aged 94, she had called me everything but a white man because I’d ruined her daughter’s life. She was a right old biddy, but I’ll tell you right now…”
He adopted his old fighting stance, the straps of his overalls straining from still powerful shoulders.
“My wife is no Mona Klemper!”

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