"'Your success rate has been less than inspiring, Darkmatter. You're not evil enough, Darkmatter, my management consultant says so. This boy will help me rule the universe, but you can stay on as bellboy, Darkmatter.'" Warp slammed the throttle of his ship forward, hoping in the back of his mind that the extra thirty-seven cents that he'd scraped together from the seat cushions had bought enough rocket fuel to get to his parents' house.
This hope was not enough to keep him from ranting. Zurg's voice wasn't hard to imitate, and while Warp could have done it flawlessly, he much preferred the high, squeaky, whiny version he was using.
Come to think of it, that was the right version.
He hadn't told his parents that he was coming home, but then again, he hadn't known himself until an hour or two ago when he figured it would be better working from home than hauling Zurg's luggage. Sure, home owned jobs never did the best in the long run, but he figured he could make a killing developing computer operating systems... of course, they'd either be programmed to quit a week after purchase, or in need of an expensive upgrade a month later.
Come to think of it, it had already been done.
"Nothing goes right for you, does it, Darkmatter? First you lose your job, then you can't think of an original, completely evil idea, and now your ship's about to run out of gas! Oh, add to the situation that you're talking to yourself and this becomes just downright hilarious. Brilliant, fabulous, wonderful!" Growling, Warp slammed a hand down on the console, the glass on the gas gauge shattering just as the "check engine" light came on. Pausing, he smirked. "Figures."
The Y-189 threatened to splutter, and he flipped the reserve tank switch just in time. Y-189... he had to pawn off his sleek, detailed, customized ship just to afford enough fuel to come out to the distant farm planet of Minneconsin, and what's the only thing left in the lot that he could afford? A Yugo. An outdated Yugo. Maybe his folks could front him enough cash to get his baby back out of hock, and he could take a blaster to this piece of junk.
The atmosphere superheated around the laboring craft, and Warp eased back on the retro thrusters, ignoring the odd clunking noise coming from the rockets. The planet came into view, in all of its golden fielded, green cropped, neatly plotted glory. It was the picture of growth and nature, and he couldn't stand it. Shaking his head, he programmed the landing course, aiming for the single patch of diseased ground on the entire planet.
Death... the crops always died at the Darkmatter Family Farm. Then again, so did the crops on the surrounding farms, and no one ever seemed to figure out why. On a particularly warm and humid day, a young Warp Darkmatter was busy stealing the air conditioning system of a house down the road, when he overheard an average family (parents, and two point five kids) discussing the recent plague on their crops. "I just don't understand it," the father commented to his wife and oldest son. "No insects, no drought, no flood, no nothing! Just dead crops."
"It's all right, daddy, there's always next year... We'll just have to skip Christmas," the youngest child offered, sweetly saddened as he moved his wheelchair closer to the family dog.
Grinning a grinchly sort of grin, Warp placed the lone air conditioner in the wheelbarrow, and sat underneath the window to listen for more.
"We don't need Christmas," the middle child, a girl, said. She moved closer to the family, seemingly attempting to form a group hug. No one moved however; the room already seemed to be getting hotter and stickier.
The mother, a typically rotund midwestern woman smiled warmly at her loving children, then looked at her husband pleadingly. "What could have caused it, dear?"
"I'm not sure, but it seems like it happens quite a bit around this area. In fact, that Darkmatter family seems to be right in the center of it," he accused.
The rest of the family let out a collective gasp, recoiling from his accusation. "They're such wonderful, warm people!" The mother seemed appalled.
"I understand that, but the facts are clear... everyone who moves in around them has a problem with their crops."
Feeling as if he'd just been cued, Warp stood from his position under the window and did his best to conjure up the biggest crocodile tears he could muster. He sniveled and sniffed, walking up to the poor family's front door and pulling out a battered tin cup from his overalls pocket. It wasn't a minute after he knocked before the door was opened by the father. "Spare some change, sir?" Darkmatter asked, pretending to look around blindly.
"Warp?" The father asked, kneeling down in front of him.
Ah, yes, the boy was a genius! "M-Mister Nelson?" He sniffled, reaching out in every direction he could. "I'm sowwy, I didn't know it was you. I'll go now, I can't ask you for anything."
The older man set a gentle hand on the boy's shoulder, recoiling slightly when the boy did. "What's the matter, son?"
"Mama and Papa said 'cause the crops are so bad, they might lose the farm. I thought that if I could raise enough money, we'd be able to stay here."
"That's so... noble," the blond man commented, tears welling up on the edge of his eyes. Digging into his pockets, he pulled out all the coins he had and dropped them into the cup. Then, ruffling the boy's hair lightly, he stepped back through the doorway. "I'm glad I can help."
Warp reluctantly hugged the man's leg, and then stepped back. "Thank you, sir," he said, and started to walk away.
"Call so I can make sure you got home all right," the man ordered, wiping his eyes a bit. When he got a nod from the boy, he stepped aside and closed the door, watching his youngest son, Tommy, hover by.
Darkmatter waited a moment to be safe, then tossed the coins up into the air, grinning. "Suckers," he laughed, and ran off with the money, the wheelbarrow, and the air conditioner that didn't belong to him.
Life on the farm had been good. The slow pace might have gone completely against his need for action, but he had learned some of his greatest lessons in evil from his mother and father, and there were always minor opportunities for mischief. Warp grinned in fond remembrance as he wrestled with the failing Yugo.
"Yeah, Mom?" Warp asked, sticking his head out of his bedroom, where he just been playing darts with a picture of an orphan off of a milk carton.
His mother wiped her hands on her apron and primped her black hair back into place. "Go down the road and steal a cup of sugar. I don't have enough to finish with the pie, doncha know."
"All right, fine, whatever." Stealing sugar? He'd just finally perfected stealing ships, and she wanted him to rip off sugar? He was definitely getting too good for this petty theft -- it was time to start broadening his horizons. Grudgingly, he pulled his shirt on and tried to decide which neighbor he wanted to victimize this time. "Why can't Dad do it?"
"He's deaf, remember? Now hurry up, this needs ta be ready fer the bakeshow, doncha know."
Warp muttered as he made his way out onto the porch, where the old man was rocking in his chair. "Hey, Dad, wanna come with me?" He didn't get an answer, and went over to kneel in front of his father. "Don't worry, she can't hear. Too busy baking her worm-infested pie."
"Sometimes, I think that woman'll never shut up," Warp's father, Warp, Sr., sighed. He'd been faking hearing loss for about five years, but only with marginal success. "I'll walk with ya, kid, but I'm too old to be raidin' kitchens."
"You and me both," Warp said, standing. He waited for his father to catch up, and started down the road towards the Hodgson homestead.
His mother's pie had been a hit that year. Everyone had a taste, and it wasn't until the whole pie was gone that they realized that it had been infested. It was a beautiful sight, all those people getting sick, turning green, running around like idiots. The picture was in the family album. However, it wouldn't make much of a difference if Warp couldn't pull the Yugo out of its downward spiral towards the planet.
Flipping a few switches in hopes of getting some kind of boost to the engine, Warp muttered under his breath and pulled back on the yoke. If he could get the ship under control, he might be able to tip it up and drip some of the last remaining gas into the tank. It wasn't much use, though, because even the fumes weren't going to allow him to restart the engine. Wincing, Darkmatter just flipped off the engine and took a deep breath.
He was about to do something despicable, and he couldn't believe that he would ever think of it. Then again, he had a strong sense of self preservation; he didn't want to die. So, for the first time in his life, he pulled the strap from the left and buckled up of his own free will. "Oh, your career's really going uphill now. You're about to die in a flaming crash on your family farm, while obeying the law, and you're still talking to yourself!"
Staring out as the ground rushed up towards him, barely visible through the smoke from the engine and the superheated shell of the ship, he cringed. If he lived through it, his parents would kill him for not hitting the farm down the street. Still, he could always borrow money off of his dad to bribe his mom, and that presented itself as the best choice. Closing his eyes, he let out a bellowing yell as the ship careened towards the ground. If he was going to die, he was going out kicking and screaming.
The ship, however, had no intentions of killing him. Slowed down by the wings which were pulling loose from the hull and a cheap parachute that had auto-released, the Yugo nicked the silo, went into a death spin, and buried itself into a smoking furrow in the middle of the field. Consequently, it wiped out the single healthy plant growing there.
Warp blinked once, twice, three times. The world was completely white, which could only mean one thing -- that he was dead and someone was about to audit his life. Within two minutes, he had assembled quite a list of excuses, and then a hissing noise caught his attention.
The airbag. He'd had his face in the airbag.
Laughing with an insane edge on his voice, he climbed out of the devastated Yugo and kicked it as hard as he could.
Warp turned around, or more accurately, hopped around on his one good foot. It took him a few moments to shake off the crash enough to recognize his parents -- it had been a long time since he'd visited. "Hiya Mom, hey Dad. Mind if I crash here for awhile?"
His mother blinked once or twice at the crashed ship, exchanged a glance with her husband, and finally looked back at her son. The pun passed her by, and she seemed almost unevil as she said, "Warp... I think we need to have a talk, doncha know."
"Hey, Mom," Warp laughed, "we've already had the talk. Remember?"
"I think this is a little more serious than that, son," his father replied, for once breaking his cover. His wife didn't seem to notice, really -- she was busy making sure Warp hadn't sustained any major life-threatening injuries.
The youngest of the three laughed again, swatting his mother away like a fly. "Come on, when have we ever been serious? 'It's always dark matters at the Darkmatter Family Farm,'" he quoted, gesturing around him to the dried up, desert-like terrain.
"It's just something we need to explain to you when we get inside, doncha know." His mother, Betty, turned and started for the door of the house. Following not far behind was Warp, Sr., a hand on his son's shoulder. Warp, Jr., being basically rattled and disturbed by the near normality of his family, shuddered at the thought of them converting to good, or even just admitted to a good deed once done. It had to be something like that. They wouldn't be so serious if it weren't.
Gathering around the table, Betty moved off to pull a box from the top shelf of a cupboard, then sat on the other side of her son. He was trapped in the middle, now. "Your father and I have a little secret, doncha know."
Warp inched away, dreading a heartwarming family moment. "No, I don't know," he replied, glancing between the two. "What? Did you save a bunny? Some orphaned puppy?"
"You could almost say that." Warp, Sr., nodded.
"Oh, Dad," the younger of the men looked horrified, "why'd ya do it? Why'd ya have ta do it?"
Betty smacked her husband, then her son on the sides of their heads. "Shut up, I'm talkin' here, doncha know! Now, listen, Warpy, what happened to you today has happened here before. When you were just a little evil mastermind, your father and I found you in our field just like today. Your little pod crashed here, and ever since then, we've been meaning to ruin one of your birthdays with this revelation, but you left too soon, doncha know."
A perturbed look settled on Warp's face, and he looked between his two parents... or, whatever they were. "What are you saying?"
"You're not really our son, son," Warp, Sr., replied. "I wanted to tell you, but your mother wouldn't let me." He cringed back just in time to avoid a smack from his wife.
"Oh, is that all?" In a single moment, the anxiety left Warp, Jr., and he breathed a hefty sigh of relief. "Man, I thought you were gonna tell me something hideous, like you converted and started donating to charities or something."
"Nothing so awful as that, doncha know." Betty sat back down and set the box on the table. "But that ain't the kicker. In your little pod, we found a few things, an' since you're already havin' a bad day, I thought we might make it a little worse, doncha know."
Warp, Sr., shook his head and sighed heavily. "Are you sure this is a good idea?"
"Shut up, you're supposed to be deaf, doncha know." Betty opened the box with an ominous creak, and slid it down to rest in front of her son. And right on the top, a little charred, covered in a few layers of dust, was a picture.
Warp, Jr., picked it up and brushed it off, eyebrows drawn in concentration.
There is no sound in space, but if there were, most of the galaxy would have heard the anguished, tormented howl from the tiny farm planet of Minneconsin.