Zero Hesitation

“Uh, I come in peace?” Peter asked the statement. His villainous doppelganger looked up from the library table. He had several books open on the wooden table, as well as several dozen more piled high on either side of him. He gave Peter a half-grin and waved him over.

“Hey! I was hoping I’d show up,” the invader stood and extended a hand as Peter reached the table. “The name’s Bobby,” he glanced around the abandoned library. He leaned closer to Peter during the handshake.

“Bobby, to you,” he winked. “If anyone else asks, I am the mighty conqueror: Roberto the Learned.”

“Uh,” Peter shrugged. “Okay.” Bobby gestured at a chair next to the table, and they both sat. The invader stared at Peter quietly while waiting for him to gather his thoughts.

While making his way into the library, Peter ran through several different strategies. Professional hostage negotiators gave him so much advice, that their tips began to conflict. They asked him to play on the invader’s sympathies. They suggested he try and convince Roberto the Learned he was in the wrong. Sitting there next to himself, Peter decided the best route was whatever would work with him.

“What’re you gonna do with two Earths?” he asked. Of all the responses Peter thought might result, he did not expect laughter. Loud, raucous laughter exploded from his mouth; he leaned on the table for support. Robert slapped the table as he chuckled and giggled with glee for several seconds. Finally, he was able to calm down enough to explain his mirth.

“Sorry,” he said between giggles; he wiped a tear from his eye. “It was just too funny. You don’t know how often I’ve asked myself that. and now,” he shrugged with a smile. “I just asked myself that!” he giggled again.

“Oh, okay,” Peter nodded. He did think it was amusing, but he had bigger things to deal with. “So. What answer did you come up with?” he asked Roberto.

“Share it,” he smiled. “With, myself,” he nodded at Peter.

“Huh?” Peter asked. He thought understood the hint; but he wasn’t sure.

“It’s like I’m paying it forward, to myself!” Roberto chirped. He pointed at Peter. “You had it exactly right, what am I going to do with two Earths? Nothing. I can’t manage that, no one can.  But, I can conquer Earths for other people. Like, other versions of me for instance. Interested?” he asked.

Flashes of the hundreds of people he met over the last 48-hours played through Peter’s mind. People in suits, people yelling ‘advice’ at him, and people in suits yelling advice at him. He took a deep breath.

“Yeah,” he grinned.

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