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Helen of Ploy

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Helen doesn’t want to do this.

 

She doesn’t really want to relive those dreaded two days -- and Evelyn is talented at inventing, so she will relive them in glorious, high definition -- but she has too many questions, and so she must.

 

She has to view the tape, so she can fill in the gaps, tie up the loose ends, see the real damage that was done.

 

On a quiet evening at the Parr home, when the kids are in bed and Bob is falling asleep in front of the television, Helen tiptoes into the office and closes the door behind her. She flips a switch on the wall, and a hidden monitor pops up. Bob had had the equipment installed after the chaos finally calmed down. Helen didn’t ask why, probably because part of her is scared he wanted it for the exact same thing that she’s about to use it for. (It’s just one item on a long list of topics they haven’t discussed yet.)

 

With a steadying breath, she slips in the tape that someone at the NSA had to pull quite a few strings to get for her. But Elastigirl can be very convincing, and it had only taken about a week to get a copy in her possession.

 

She turns a knob to fast-forward through the parts she was conscious for. The tape zooms ahead, skipping the monorail and helicopter incidents, the Supers mixer and Winston’s speech.

 

Heart pounding, Helen slows it down just in time for the part where Evelyn pushes the glasses onto her masked face with an evil grimace.

 

The next scenes are worse than any scary movie, and Helen has to remind herself to breathe.

 

First, she sees herself calmly follow Evelyn from the surveillance room to the cryogenic chamber. The other woman is silent the whole time, as to remain undetected while the party goes on in the other room.

 

Helen watches, horror-struck, as an accomplice sits her compliant form down in the frigid room and straps her into metal shackles. Though she is safe in her home, she remembers the chill well enough to give an involuntary shudder.

 

A minute later, Evelyn appears on the other side of the glass. It’s an odd sensation, knowing that this all took place over a number of hours, when it had really felt like days once she came to.

 

Now, their awful conversation plays out in crystal-clear quality. Helen had been awake for this part, but it’s no easier to stomach the second time around.

 

“I would resist the temptation to stretch,” the woman -- the traitor -- tells her casually, and Helen winces, remembering the icy pain that had shot through her gloved arm when she had tried to reach up and remove the glasses. Which never would have happened if she had been wearing one of E’s designs. Giving Helen a lesser suit had probably been another part of Evelyn’s plan.

 

“The temperature is well below freezing in there, and if you stretch,” Evelyn adds, nothing but venom in her voice, “You might...break.”

 

At the time, Helen had waited for the typical villain monologue, during which she’d get to make her heroic escape, but it never came. Instead, Evelyn invited her responses, testing her until the very last moment. She had brought her back to consciousness simply to torture her, to make sure Helen knew that she was about to betray everyone she loves, and that there was nothing she could do about it.

 

Helen’s heart breaks a little, because she and Evelyn had been well on their way to becoming partners, confidants, even friends. Watching this scene for the second time is painful in more ways than one, and her eyes well as the two women sling their hatred-filled words back and forth.

 

“... You’re the Screenslaver?”

 

“Well, yes and no…”

 

Helen has to look away, not wanting to see the woman’s haughty face as they continue talking.

 

“...I counted on you.”

 

“That was your mistake...we don’t know each other.”

 

“But you can count on me.”

 

“I’m supposed to, aren’t I?”

 

Helen turns back just in time to see the sick pleasure in Evelyn’s expression as she finishes her spiel and reactivates the glasses.

 

And Helen leans in towards the screen, because this might be where she will discover why Bob had looked so damn frightened on the ship, when those godforsaken glasses were finally ripped off.

 

Again, the inventor silently leads her to another wing of DevTech. The visual goes dark as Evelyn slips away, presumably to phone Bob, and she’s left in a pitch-black room.

 

She fast-forwards again until the audio spikes on the monitor, indicating Evelyn’s return. Helen notes that she had been gone for less than 15 minutes, and can only imagine what had been said to Bob to make him rush over so quickly.

 

“She had an encounter with the Screenslaver, and has been acting a bit...strange,” Evelyn is telling her husband.

 

“Strange how?” he asks, his deep voice getting louder as they approach.

 

Helen squints, because the screen is still black. And then the door opens, letting in a piercing ray of light.

 

There’s a split second where Bob looks to her, first with worry, and then in confusion as she throws the first punch with all of her force.

 

Helen watches, paralyzed with disbelief. How could she...?

 

Bob’s face flashes in the shadows, expression turning determined as he switches to battle mode, attempting to block all of her lethal moves without inflicting his own damage. At the same time, he’s shouting her name over the fray, trying to get through to the real her.

 

Helen brings a hand to her mouth in dread, really feeling as though she may vomit.

 

On screen, the hypnotized version of her isn’t being receptive. And then she leaps onto the strong man’s shoulders, besting Mr. Incredible in a way that only Elastigirl could, coiling her legs around his neck like a boa constrictor, squeezing the life out of him...

 

No .

 

But then her entranced self pauses out of nowhere, her limbs untangle, and she jumps off to land in front of him.

 

“Helen?”

 

Now she’s looking into Bob’s terrified face. And then there’s darkness again, and a muffled noise against her. Helen frowns, trying to make sense of it. She’s either strangling him for a second time...or kissing him.

 

Robot-Helen angles her body towards Evelyn behind him, reaching one arm towards her while Bob is distracted. She grabs a pair of the glasses and breaks the kiss, slapping the device on her husband with a huff.

 

So that was how she’d done it.

 

Helen swallows the bile in her throat at the violation of trust on her part, trying to remind herself that it had been Evelyn’s doing, but still. It was a low blow.

 

Her anxiety mounts as she watches more scenes. There she is boarding the ship; signing the bill with the ambassador. Delivering a cheesy, dramatic speech to the world about the Supers taking over that Evelyn surely wrote in haste.

 

She tunes in again once she reaches the bridge of the ship with Bob and Lucius by her side. Their movements are jerky, obviously controlled by Evelyn, who’s nowhere to be seen. Helen whimpers as she watches her husband, who would never hurt a citizen on purpose, knock out the innocent captain and rest of the crew. And then it’s her who spins the wheel, directing the vessel so it speeds towards the city. Bob then yanks the whole apparatus out of the floor, more or less dooming them all.

 

Except...Helen can feel deep in her bones that everything is about to change once more.

 

The sound of three figures bursting into the room gets the hypnotized Supers’ attention. They whirl around, and Helen’s stomach twists again as she sees Dash and Vi’s frantic faces, not to mention the toddler in her daughter’s arms.

 

What happens next makes Helen gasp.

 

Just when she thinks there couldn’t be anything worse than her assaulting her loving husband, hypnotized or not, she watches as she and Bob turn on the newcomers, attacking them, too, without hesitation.

 

Though Violet puts up a force field just in time, any pride Helen would typically feel at her daughter’s display of quick thinking and control is swallowed by the rush of agony.

 

She went after her own children . Her flesh and blood.

 

Helen wants to scream, to punch a hole in the wall, to march over to Evelyn’s prison cell and snuff the life out of her for the things she made her do.

 

She does none of this, though, because the tape is still rolling. Helen feels a trickle of cold sweat on the side of her temple, matting her hair to the side of her face, but is unable to tear herself away from the scene.

 

Jack-Jack is floating through the air towards his mother, as if an invisible string is pulling him. Even in her hypnotized state, Helen catches her baby boy gently.

 

“Mama?” he babbles, reaching his chubby arms towards her face.

 

She can’t quite see what happens next, but her glasses are lifted, somehow, and both Helens suck in a breath before the one on screen leaps to destroy Bob and Lucius’ glasses.

 

Helen shakes her head in amazement. So it had been Jack-Jack that saved all of their asses this time.

 

Helen doesn’t need to watch anymore. She stops the tape, and realizes that she’s subconsciously flattened herself against the office chair like a sheet of paper. Relaxing, she regains shape and lets out a long sigh.

 

Wrapping her arms around her body in anguish, she allows the tears to fall.