Story Recap: Interrupted on his vacation by a man he has killed over half dozen times, Photius has annoyed his enemy into preparing for a fight.

Bad Penny flipped his coin.

The change was not quite instantaneous. Penny’s shape blurred as his superpowers consumed his body. Photius had seen high-speed footage Technefarious had taken of Bad Penny as part of one of their projects right before Penny’s fourth death. It had not been very illuminating. In one frame, he was a regular person. The next began a period of human-shaped copper-colored blur. When the distortion clear, Bad Penny stood the transformed creature that stood before him now.

Creature, Photius chided himself, was overstating the range of the change. Bad Penny was still human-shaped, even if that shape was entirely covered in untarnished copper. It was the lack of regular features on his head that made him look alien. Instead of hair and ears and a face, the superhero’s head was a mess of gouges and scars, some deep enough that they should have caused brain damage when they were inflicted.

“Feel better?” Photius

“Yes,” the metal-clad man answered, pulling himself out of the water.


They were attracting a few stares, now, although not much alarm. Superpowers were uncommon enough in their world to still be super, but not so rare that only those that enjoyed slugging each other while wearing costumes were the majority of those with them.

“I’m still not interesting in fighting you,” Photius said.

“You’re under arrest,” Penny announced.

“No, I’m not. I’ve proven over and over again that you can’t take me on your own. If you walk away right now to get help, I’ll kill you before you can reach it. So, no, I am not under arrest.”

Bad Penny loomed over him.

“Oh, sit down,” Photius said. “Here’s what you do: Humor me for a while. Pretend that we reach an agreement. After you walk away, call in someone to nail me.

“Really, that should be obvious. You’d make a terrible supervillain, Penny.”

The superhero considered it, then sat on the edge of the beach chair next to Photius’s.

“So, how have you been? Last time I saw you, you were dead,” Photius said.

“Fine. Heaven is nice, but I wasn’t done here yet.”

“How’d you get back?”

“Freak Weatherballoon accident. My teammate Weatherballoon was flying through a storm, and a bolt hit a penny he was carrying.”


“Reincarnated twenty miles up in bad weather.”

Photius winced. “Ouch.”

“Left a dent in the ground.”

“Got your civilian life back together?”

“More or less. I’ve done this a few times, so that helps.”

“Here with a girlfriend?”

“Parents. I wanted to spend some time with them.”

“Good for you.”

Bad Penny leaned in on Photius.

“What?” Photius asked.



“You will not harm them.”

“Oh. No, of course I won’t. Penny, how often do I target bystanders or civilians? I’m not saying there’s never been collateral damage to one of my hits, but if I wanted to hurt you, I would hurt you.”

Bad Penny leaned back.

“Besides,” Photius said, “I’m on vacation.”

“You’re going to have to vacation somewhere else.”

“So I’m gathering,” Photius said sourly.

There was a commotion down on the beach.

Penny ignored it. He said, “You’re right. I can’t take you. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to pass up a chance to make sure someone else gets a shot a you.”

The screams now originating from the shore were not quite enough to pull the hero and villain away from their conversation.

“I said I wouldn’t kill bystanders. However, I specifically said I would kill you,” Photius said, sitting up.

From the sea, a leviathan threw its head high into the air and roared.

Both Photius and Bad Penny turned to look at the monster.

“Huh,” Photius said.