by Dan Swanson
Chapter 37 — “I’ll do it my way!” ####### EPILOGUE
Thad and his lawyer, Perry Dixon, walked into a small conference room in the White House, where President Raygun, Captain Marvel and his Pop, Dr. Thaddeus Bodog Sivana, were already seated around the polished wooden table which was set up for a long meeting, with paper, pen and pencil, and chilled water.
He tried to read the faces of these men, hoping to discern his fate just a few seconds sooner. Marvel’s face was a blank emotionless mask. His Pop was clearly angry. The only person in the room who was clearly at ease was Ronald Raygun, President of the United States of America. Well, that figured! Compared to bringing about the stress of guiding the United States through the morass of international politics, and dealing with hundreds of domestic crises, a Pardon for one man must be small potatoes.
He figured the President must have decided ‘No’, however, or Pop and the Big Red Cheese would have been smiling, at least. His heart dropped to his shoes, but he had already decided what he would do if he wasn’t granted the Pardon he wanted. He’d made a considerable effort to ensure that his contingency plan would go smoothly. It would only take two words to set in into action. He hoped that he wouldn’t regret it later, and that Sandy, in particular, would be able to live with the consequences.
“Let’s get started right away, shall we?” the President suggested. “Thaddeus Bodog Sivana Jr., on behalf of the people of the United States, and I daresay the world, I would like to thank you for your assistance in defeating the extremely hostile and dangerous alien spaceship which was code named ‘BattleWorld’. It is unlikely that any of us would be sitting here if you and the other members of the task force of heroes had not defeated this infernal device.”
“Moving on to the matter of your pardon, I found it difficult not to let your actions in the BattleWorld situation color my judgment. You did in fact help save the world. On the other hand, you and your family have tried repeatedly to conquer that very same world, and it would be difficult to conquer a world that had been destroyed. It is difficult for me to determine just how much of what you did was motivated by your own self-interest, but after much consideration, I find that I am unable to give you the pardon you and your lawyer have requested.”
Boom, there it was! Even though he had prepared for this, Thad was stunned. As was his lawyer. Raygun wasn’t through, however.
“In recognition of your efforts, I am prepared to offer you instead a five-year probationary period. During this five years, you will remain in prison, and if during that period, you commit no further offenses against the law, you will be released, and the Pardon will be granted. Mr. Sivana, if you have any comments on this matter, please make them now!”
Pop seemed about to say something, but Marvel turned to him and spoke quietly. “Remember our truce, Dr. Sivana,” and he settled back down, but Jr. could see that he was seething.
‘Well, Pop, I’m hope I’m doing the right thing!’ he thought to himself. Time to set his plan in motion!
He took a deep breath. What he did next would be irrevocable! Once he said the trigger phrase, his life would never be the same again. He realized that he might lose Sandy, and that thought scared him and saddened him. But, a Sivana had to do what a Sivana had to do! He tried to speak, but his throat was so dry, he only croaked. He held his hand up, so they would wait, and took a long drink of water.
“Much better!” He smiled at all the others seated around the table. And then he said the magic words:…
His Pop exploded from his chair! “A Sivana NEVER surrenders!” He was reaching for what Jr. knew was a secret pocket where Pop always carried an undetectable gun — small but deadly. Marvel was moving quickly so that he was between Sivana Sr. and the President.
“Pop, stop! It’s my decision to make.” He stood and put his hand on his father’s arm, preventing him from reaching that weapon.
The President was still smiling! “Thank you, Mr. Sivana! Your reaction was most gratifying — and to me, at least, totally unexpected. Your willingness to surrender shows me that you are in fact honest in your effort to ‘go straight’, and don’t let anything else I said earlier fool you — you helped save the world and I’m damned proud to present you with this document which is — how did your lawyer put it? ‘A Pardon for any crimes for which you have been convicted in the past, Amnesty for any crimes for which you are under currently investigation, and Clemency for any past crimes you may have committed of which we are yet unaware.’ Congratulations!” He handed Thad a document.
“You are a free man, Mr. Sivana. Go marry that wonderful gal of yours before someone else finds her! And son, I expect you and I haven’t seen the last of each other. There can be great things in your future!”
Marvel spoke up next. “Sorry for that scenario, Thad. We had to be sure of your motives first.”
And Sivana chimed in “Heh heh heh! You should have seen the look on your face! I’m not happy with your choice, boy, but I am proud of your courage and determination. Son, you’re a Sivana through and through!”
Thad was overjoyed. Sandy heard the commotion outside, and rushed in to join the fun. The President insisted that he be invited to their wedding, even though they wanted to keep it small and private. And there was a round of congratulations and handshakes — and Sivana Sr. even bought a round of drinks at Councilor Dixon’s exclusive Gentleman’s Club (although Sandy had to spin an illusion to get in, even when accompanied by the Club’s most famous member, the President).
Before he returned to the White House, the President pulled Thad aside for a short private chat. “Mr. Sivana, I apologize that I have to tell you this, and I hope you don’t take this as an insult, but… Please remember that this Pardon is provisional for five years, and if you are convicted of any crimes during that time, it will be revoked.”
Thad would have been hurt, but Councilor Dixon had prepared him for this. Thad had never heard of a ‘provisional Pardon’ before, but then, his situation was breaking a lot of rules!
An hour or so later, Thad finally managed to get a few minutes alone with his father. “Pop!” he started, with a hurt expression on his face, “that was a pretty rotten trick!”
“You’re right, Jr. But we all had to know for sure. Besides, what do you expect from your old man besides rotten? Heh heh heh” he cackled, with his oh-so-familiar laugh.
“Not that trick, Pop! The genome trick!” There was a snap in his voice.
“Heh heh…” It wasn’t Sivana’s normal hearty cackle. “That trick.” He hadn’t expected to keep it a secret forever, but he had not been prepared to deal with this issue today!
Thad relented. “Yes, that trick. Pretty sneaky, Pop!” there was admiration in Thad’s voice. “I almost didn’t notice, and then it took me another couple of hours to be sure. You flipped a single gene pair — one pair out of more than 20,000. And got exactly the result you wanted! Pop, that’s pure genius!”
“But the effect is so subtle, now that I know about it, it won’t be effective any longer. I’m my own man Pop — now and forever.”
Sivana nodded, but didn’t say anything. If Jr. was willing to let him off the hook on this, he wasn’t going to press it any further. He just hoped Thad wouldn’t give his sister the details! She had a nasty temper, even for a Sivana!
“You know, Pop? This is gonna be tough on both of us. I don’t ever want to have to oppose you, but if you do something that might hurt Sandy, I’ll have to stop you.”
Sivana was back to normal. “Heh heh heh!” he cackled energetically. “Your decision, Jr., and you have to live with it. I’m sure you’ll think of something!”
Thad wasn’t so sure. He was glad Sandy wanted to find the Starblade dagger as soon as they were married; he hoped the quest would take a long time!
Not too long afterward, Thad and Sandy were married. It was a small wedding, and quiet, with only a few guests and no publicity. And that’s where this story ends!