I'm sitting in a chair this time. My feet are tied, and these people are smarter than the usual ones; They tied my hands and bound my mouth. Well that sucks, I won't be able to escape and go rub the Heroes Associations' collective nose in my awesomeness right away. I mean, why must you hinder my bragging rights, mystery kidnapper? I'm aware I sound carefree, that's the point. If any person sees me in distress, well, I've learned from reporters that that ends horribly. That newspaper was talking about that train wreck of a party for weeks, and all I did was create this world's first AI. I must admit, AVES (A Very Extraordinary System, aka AVES) is awesome by my standards, because with a name like that how couldn't she be?
Anyway, I'm kidnapped, the bad guys tied my limbs, and AVE's taken out, if the missing earpiece and watch I usually contact her with mean anything. The usual, in fact, quickly turns to the unusual when necromancer Tartarus walks in, followed by the sorceress Mystify, flanked by metal-whisperer Metallica, (who I swear is a dude, and is also the leader of the Horde, a non-human organization that wants to take over the world after they kill all humans.) the god Trickster, (a god that just loves attacking the Heroes Association’s god Prodigy, whose name is actually Hero. Talk about being born a hero.) and some Horde members.
“‘Nic,” Metallica speaks. “I am pleased to meet you. I have heard of you, and I assume you have as well, even though we have not fought.” I nod my head dumbly. Trickster, with their long black hair and piercing yellow eyes, speaks up. Their voice is not patronizing this time, and I briefly wonder why the entire Villain League would kidnap one unassuming genius. “Very well then, do not dawdle. Finish your bit quickly, I grow impatient.”
“Sorry your highness,” Metallica snarks at them. He turns to me. “I apologize for their rudeness, but Tricks is right, we must be move forward.” He looks at me again, surveying my condition. When he spots my almost blue hands, he gets a look of annoyance of his face.
“Someone!” Metallica bellows. “Bring me a knife! And while you’re at it, kick whoever tied his hands in the acid pool!”
“Right away,” the mutant salutes, faithful from their position near him. “It’ll be done shortly.” Metallica does something kind of weird for a villain, he turns, and smiles, tantamount to a proud parent, at the rest of the Villain League. The mutant brings the scissors, Metallica cuts the bind on my hands. I use my only semi-numb hands to rip the bind off my mouth. “Better,” I say, voice rasping from disuse.
“Now what do you want with me?” Metallica shrugs, and points to Trickster. “They’ll tell you.” Trickster looks slightly annoyed, and suddenly points to Tartarus and Mystify from where they’ve been lurking near the door.
“I have a better idea. How about the mortal and self-proclaimed sorceress delineate what we are all here for?” Nods of agreement ripple through the room at that, and so Tartarus steps up. He looks sheepish for approximately six seconds before he puts on his game face.
“We’re all here, or rather, you’ve been brought here to be...honored...with an offer and a proposition. The League of Villains dislikes you being a hero, you’re bad for business. A man with a popular company, a popular tech-specialized company no less, and a supplier to a hero team. As the head of Mechanic Industries, and sponsor to a group of superheroes comprised of a artificially-winged harpy, a trained spy, (“Who loves my James Bond inspired stuff,” I snark to an annoyed Metallica..) a walking talking witch, a (“Poptart-obsessed,” I inject, which earns a muttered, “Is he really” that is probably from Trickster.) god, a thief of mutant powers who’s also your nephew, a mentally abused former assassin who is now a weapons and combat strategy specialist, a soldier from WW2 who was brought back by cloning and now is enhanced, and a crazy mechanic/inventor/mad scientist who’s you.”
I’m confused. “So, I’m not really important then. Why didn’t you just kidnap one of them?” All the villains share an incredulous look. Then, as my soul discretes from my body, they start lauding me praise. Tartarus enumerates the numerous times I should have died and survived anyway, Trickster points out all the ways the team could have died if I wasn’t there, Mystify details stalker-worthy detailed instances of when I’d helped random people or animals, Metallica delineates on how many times I’ve helped non-humans and what I did, I sit and try to convince myself that they’re not fabricating anything. Why would they? The League of Villains doesn’t benefit if they belabor a hero. Why then? My answer comes in the form of the second part of Tartarus’s offer, after everyone of them have calmed down a bit.
“Look,” Mystify says. “He’s not understanding why we’re doing this. How about we let Tartarus finish explaining?” Nods of agreement again, and Mystify gives the rest a satisfied “hmph. Well than, Tartarus will you get on with it already?” Tartarus bows his head like a scared child after their parent has scolded them.
“Yes well, we, the League of Villains, would like to invite you,” a gesticulation here, of him handing me an invitation and bowing. “To our game night. Before you jump to a wrong conclusion,” Mystify appends, “we are doing this out of our respect for you. It also may be said we want someone to beat Metallica at poker.”
“Again, why me? I’m flattered, but I think I shouldn’t’ve been your first choice.” I’m flabbergasted further when this leads to more sputtered arguments defending my “good” name. Coming from villains!
“Okay, okay, okay,” Mystify is the voice of reason again this time. She turns to me. “You accepting or not?” I ponder over this for a minute. “Yeah, sure. Sounds fun I guess. Can I go home, preferably with AVES, now?”
“Aves? We didn’t kidnap any girl! Who...” Mystify looks like she’s calculating who AVES could be when Metallica walks out. It takes about three minutes for him to get my earpiece and wristbands. He hands them to me, which further confuses Mystify.
“AVES is my AI,” I explain, and Metallica nods and continues.
“It was a huge thing when she was made. The entire scientific community was screaming about the creation of the first successful Artificial Intelligence. Tricks and I were “hiring” these scientists and they won’t shut up about the first learning AI that worked, that, “OMG the Mechanic’s a genius of genii,” and generally just fanboying over him. I was forcibly told.” He sounds deadpan, and just generally bored. Metallica then seems to have an epiphany, and looks at me.
“Where is your team? They should be here by now, it’s been almost 5 hours.” I’m sheepish, a new emotion for me, when I say, “I was staying behind on a mission that the Heroes Association didn’t think my consultation was needed for. That, and they didn’t wish to see, and I quote, a “civilian casualty,” end quote, if I get caught in the line of fire.” I chuckle a little darkly.
“They, put simply, thought you were going to be a hassle if you came, correct? I was under the impression you were a hero, though you mention you are a consort to them, am I wrong?” Trickster sounds irked, as if he was a cat and the Heroes Association had pet him the wrong way. “Most of the Heroes Association does. The team, however, has no say in what they decide to do with them further than who’s on the team.” Trickster looks pained. I watch as he and Mystify go out the door of the room I’m in, which, now that I have time to inspect it, has bunk beds in a corner, the kitchen being a small ensemble on the opposite side, a small door ajar that seems to be leading to the eating rooms and bathroom. It seems to be a two room apartment, and based on the dresses spilling out of the closet adjacent the bed, it belongs to Mystify. I speak a bit with AVES before Trickster comes back with Mystify and I finally realize that Metallica has left.
“Where did Metallica go?” I ask Mystify this and she shakes her head. “Never you mind. He’s fine.” She pauses for a minute.
“On an unrelated note, do you know who the Heroes Association’s leader is? Metallica wants to know.” I nod my head. “It’s Henry Gore. He’s an...interesting character.” Mystify humms. “You want some hot chocolate?” I nod, and she brews me a cup. “On behalf of the Villains League, I’m sorry for kidnap you. It wasn’t…the best answer to that particular problem.” I’m silent for a second. “I don’t mind,” I say at last. “You apologized, at least. That’s more than what I expected.” Mystify nods again, and I get the feeling she knows what I’m saying without me saying it. “I’m going to drop you home now,” Tartarus says, walking back in. “and just so you know,” he winks. “Gore should be more complacent now. Me and Metal-head took care of him.” Mystify glares at Tartarus. “Where’s Metallica, and what did you do?” Tartarus has the sense to look slightly shamefaced. Metallica is too bloody to present himself right now, so he and the Horde went home to shower.” I nod, and Mystify takes me home.
Approximately a month or two later Director Gore from the Heroes Association has telephoned me six times to ask if Trickster has pulled another practical joke that I knew of, as they were famous for doing so. Everytime he called, I always responded with “I have no say in what my friends do.” I was grateful for Tricks doing this, as it was always after a particularly rough mission debrief or day. Their pranks always made me smile. The Villains League game nights were fun too, and it was later explained that everybody’s on truce for them. The villains slowly became close friends to me.