“On behalf of the whole board— thank you very much for coming, Moon Ray,” smiled Warner. “We’re really excited to have you on board for this campaign.”
“Glad to be here,” smiled the masked hero. “Your company is doing some amazing work.”
Internally, Moon Ray snorted. Whatever tech stuff InternaCorp was making may have been making the company a lot of money, but it was all technical to the point of being boring, the kinds of machines that other people used to make other machines. But the company had marketing money to burn, and a gig was a gig. There was no shame in it; most heroes took sponsorships here or there. Crimefighting didn’t always pay, and Moon Ray’s secret identity as a grocery shopper couldn’t pay the bills alone.
Warner, the CEO, was laying it on thick, talking about how a hero of Moon Ray’s stature would bring new attention to the company. After a moment, a large TV monitor lowered behind the semicircle of board members.
“Now if you don’t mind, we’ve prepared a mockup of your first ad, so you can get a sense of what the campaign will look like.”
Moon Ray smiled politely as the lights dimmed and the screen flickered to life. Posing on screen in front of a frankly garishly-patterned background was a double hired to be Moon Ray. With the cape, mask, and electric yellow bodysuit, it was easy to put somebody in the role, though the real Moon Ray noticed with a touch of pride that they had found someone with a great body.
The other Moon Ray Spoke:
“As any villain in the city can tell you, I’m a real fighter. But these days, I get to relax, knowing that InternaCorp has all the answers.
“InternaCorp understands the value of synergy, of adaptability, of compliance, of strategy,” they continued, over weird electronic music. “InternaCorp knows what’s coming next. InternaCorp has all the answers.”
Weird. Technical jargon was one thing but this was practically word salad. Word— Did Moon Ray just spot movement in the background behind the actor? It almost looked like letters. It looked as if—
“InternaCorp works fast to help you understand. InternaCorp cares about you. InternaCorp as all the answers.”
Answers! That’s what that word was! The background was starting to make sense. Moon Ray began looking for other words.
“The world is stressful, but InternaCorp knows how to help you relax.”
The word was “relax!” That one had been an easy find. Moon Ray gave a happy little sigh, and felt previously unnoticed tension dissipate.
The next few words came easily, and went just as easily. The hero didn’t think about the previous words, and instead focused on what was coming next. The pretend Moon Ray was boring anyway, not really doing anything, just droning on and on with executive speak.
“InternaCorp know what it is you need. InternaCorp wants you to have a good day, and then a great night’s sleep.”
The word. It was sl-
“Moon Ray? Can you hear me?”
Moon Ray blinked in what felt like the first time in ages. Moving felt like swimming through jello, but the hero glanced up at the suit, vaguely recognized Warner after a moment, and nodded lazily in response.
“Very good. Kneel in front of to me, if you please.”
Without considering it, Moon Ray slid to the floor, and then moving became difficult once more.
The executive considered the hero, eyes unfocused, but mouth moving quickly and silently, forming words.
“Sorry, I’m afraid we can’t hear you. Can you speak up, please?”
Moon Ray’s voice returned:
“InternaCorp has all the answers. InternaCorp has all the answers. InternaCorp has all the answers. InternaCorp has all the answers.” Moon Ray was chanting hoarsely now, the words feeling more true each time.
Warner beamed, and spoke over the fallen hero.
“My esteemed colleagues, I think we’ve done it! I don’t think our friend is going to be capable of fighting anything going forward, crime or otherwise. Apologies, this background noise is getting a bit grating. Moon Ray, stop talking.”
Moon Ray stopped, mouth falling open without words, as a trail of drool began to leak onto the iconic yellow costume.
Warner casually stroked the hero’s hair like one would a pet, and continued speaking to the rest of the room.
“So, I think that brings us to our next agenda item. What use has this company for a decidedly docile hero? I know a few of you came prepared with proposals, and I’m happy to hear them.”
Moon Ray moaned at Warner’s touch and listened absently as the rest of the board began their debate, their words sounding fuzzy and warm. The screen was still on, and the costumed actor stood at attention, staring ahead and mouthing the same words that now filled the real Moon Ray’s mind. Moon Ray watched and began mouthing along once more.
Whatever the room decided, Moon Ray would happily accept. After all, they had all the answers.