The man in black strode into the room. Tall, he was, with eyes as cold as shards of ice, and a heart that was colder still. His presence filled the room like an invisible cloak, and all who were touched by it stiffened and trembled, and prayed that his dread gaze would not fall upon them. He was--
"Oh, there you are, Sheppard," McKay said, looking up from his computer. "I came here in the middle of the night, struck by a sudden insight, and while I was here, someone stole my slippers. "
"Rodney," the man in black warned, speaking through the corner of his chilling, gash-like mouth.
"The only people here at the time were your grunts," McKay said, "so I expect you to deal with it."
The man in black stood over McKay, immersing him in his dread shadow. "Rodney," he said, clearly trying to hiss it, but defeated by the lack of sibilants. "We're evil, remember? Committed to the Dark Side?" McKay looked blank, and opened his mouth for another tirade. The man in black pre-empted him. "You know," he said, leaning on the console in a manner half way between nonchalance and pure evil. "Every science fiction TV show does the evil mirror universe thing sooner or later, and this is ours. Evil," he declared, sweeping the room with his charnel gaze, "does not wear slippers."
"Or a panda t-shirt," McKay retorted. The man in black hastily and menacingly zipped up his jacket of evil, covering what lay beneath it. "Besides," McKay said with an air of utter certainty, "you can't be evil; you haven't got a beard."
The man in black's hand rose almost to his chin, then fell again. "Beards," he said firmly, "are not essential for evil. Evil doesn't lie in trappings, but is a state of mind."
"I know my Star Trek," McKay declared. "Evil mirror universes: beards. No beard: not evil. So run along like a good colonel--"
"Evil colonel," the man in black said weakly.
"--and let me get on with my work."
The man in black sighed. "I think we need to start this story again," he said firmly.
The man in black strode into the room. Tall, he was, with eyes like ice chips, and the beginnings of a beard on his cold, grim face. His presence filled the room like a dread miasma, and all who felt its touch shivered as if Death itself had walked over their grave, and kept their heads down, and busied themselves assiduously with their work. He was--
A hanging fluttered on the wall, daubed with a grinning skull.
The man in black stopped in his tracks, in a way that made even the molecules in the air tremble, for it promised a blow-burning wrath that would be dreadful to behold. Slowly his chill gaze scanned the room. "McKay?" His voice was like the blade of a knife, redolent with the possibility of blood-shed.
"Hmm?" McKay looked up from his blood-drenched keyboard. "So I decided to humour you. You've shown willing with the beard--" He mimed vaguely around his chin with a gory hand. "-- so I thought I'd help with the whole evil thing." The man in black just looked at him, with a gaze that could freeze the blood of the bravest of men. "What?" McKay demanded. "You don't think I can do helpful?" He let out a breath. "Okay, okay, it occurred to me that you get always hot chicks in these evil mirror universes. Remember Vampire Willow in Buffy? So I just thought--"
"Evil," said the man in the black, with the deliberate patience of a predator who was trying to decide when to pounce, "is about more than--"
"--that I would make us some logos," McKay finished. "Screensavers. Wall hangings. T-shirt designs. Patches for our sleeves. I mean, a flying horse is hardly going to strike terror into the hearts of our victims, is it?" He jabbed a finger at his sleeve, with its shining new blood-encrusted skull. "We need a new name, too. 'The Atlantis Expedition' doesn't really shout out evil. I propose coming up with a shortlist of names and trying out some market research - measuring degrees of trembling; something like that. We need apostrophes, too, and harsh consonants."
"Rodney…" the man in black managed.
"M'k Kha'e," McKay corrected him. "Oh, look! The screensaver's kicking in."
He angled his screen around, revealing a cycling series of hideous images: swords, skulls, axes, hamsters…
"Hey, I was bitten by a hamster when I was nine," McKay said, before the man in black could speak. "The creatures are pure evil. Wait till you see the lemon montage. It's coming soon… soon… soon…"
The man in black looked slightly crumpled. "We're starting this story again."
The man in black strode into the room. Tall, he was, with eyes that blazed with a slightly desperate look, and a beard that clung defiantly to his lean and stone-like face. His presence filled the room like a memory of death, and all within his orbit shuddered with a creeping horror, and only dared breathe when he was past. He was--
An enormous shape rose up before him, its body made of swirling mist, and its eyes two pinpricks of horrendous red.
"Who…?" The man in black swallowed hard, grasping to regain his dreadful icy mask. "Who're you supposed to be?"
"Dark Lord," said the hideous figure. "My gaze is everywhere, and my arm is indeed long." He raised his arm to demonstrate. It was indeed a few inches longer than the norm.
The man in black opened his mouth to speak a name.
"Do not utter my name," the Dark Lord boomed, "unless you wish to give me mastery over your soul. Call me He Who Cannot Be Named. Or The Nameless One, if that name's already taken."
The man in black swallowed again. Strange shapes moved behind the hideous figure. "Uh… what are those?"
"Army of slaves," the Dark Lord declared, "chained in my mountain fastness. Hordes of hideous minions who both hate me and worship me." Red light blazed from beyond the window. "Crack of Doom," the Dark Lord explained, without being asked. "It's good for cooking marshmallows."
"And that uncomfortable-looking pointy thing made out of sword blades and thigh bones?" the man in black managed to ask.
"My bedroom." The Dark Lord subsided a little. His incorporeal swirliness suddenly seemed more like a camouflage net, and his red eyes flickered with failing batteries.
"Listen, buddy," the man in black said, "I know Rodney let you watch The Lord of the Rings when he probably really shouldn't have, but you've got the wrong idiom. We're science fiction, not fantasy. Besides," he added, "Dark Lords only appear in the flesh, so to speak, in the final book of the trilogy. It's all minions before that. It's good that you're throwing yourself into this, but…"
Ronon glowered incorporeally.
"Listen, buddy," the man in black said, "we'll start over, okay?"
The man in black strode into the room. Tall, he was, with eyes like stones, and a defiant lack of a beard on his chillingly handsome face. His presence filled the room like a puddle of evil, and all who were splashed by its lapping waves shivered as if a cold, skeletal finger was running up and down their necks, and drew their heads down into their shoulders like nervous tortoises, making themselves as small as they possibly could. He was--
"So what idiom are we?" Ronon demanded, folding his arms challengingly, flanked by a last few remaining orcs.
"Evil Overlord," the man in black declared.
"Or Galactic Madman?" McKay offered.
"Evil Overlord," the man in black said with a decisiveness that spoke of the purest of evil. "And you're my tame scientist, working on my Doomsday Device and designing cool gadgets for me and my henchmen to use."
"Hmm." McKay looked as if he was trying desperately to find fault with the proposition. "Delete the 'tame.' The rest of it, though…"
The man in black turned to Ronon. "You're chief henchman," he said. "You're huge and strong and silent, and you kill people who annoy me." He paused. "Who seek to thwart my plans for world domination," he said, clearly preferring that phrasing.
"And what am I?" Teyla's voice was cool, and she raised her eyebrows in a way that made McKay suddenly back away.
"Femme fatale," the man in black said, oblivious. "The seductive temptress in the slinky clothes, who entraps my enemies, and--"
Teyla took a sudden step towards him.
"Uh, starting again! Starting again!" the man in black said hastily.
The man in black strode into the room. Tall, he was, with eyes like pools that overflowed over his face, and something on his chin that might have passed for a beard, but might just have been dirt. His presence filled the room like a stalking shadow, but a shadow requires light, and there was no light in the hearts of those who saw him that day. He was--
"Why are we evil?" Teyla said, blocking his path with an unrelenting question.
The man in black looked from side to side, as if checking to see that none of the cowed ones could hear him. "I told you," he whispered. "Mirror universe. Evil AU. Dark Side…"
"I know," Teyla said, her hands on her hips. "I was merely wondering what our goals were. In other universes, we are attempting to save innocents from the Wraith, and that is a noble goal. I just wish to clarify our motives in this one."
McKay raised a hand from his hamster-bedecked computer. "Hello? Hot chicks?"
"Our goal," the man in black declared, "is to destroy the universe."
"Why?" Teyla demanded.
"Uh…" The man in black opened his mouth, then closed it again. "Because."
"Because?" Teyla prompted.
The man in black took her arm. "Because that's what Evil Overlords do." He said it quietly, urgently, with only the faintest undertones of true evil.
"It seems rather counter-productive as a goal," Teyla said. "We do, after all, live in the universe ourselves. Why ever would we want to destroy it?"
"We just do, okay?" the man in black said, clutching at straws of evil. Then he sighed. "Let's start this one again."
The man in black strode into the room. Tall, he was, with eyes that were lined with shadows that spoke of sleepless nights spent engaged in evil deeds, and a beard on his pale, drawn face. His presence filled the room like a dark cloud on a summer's day, and all who were near to him made themselves a little smaller, and wished that they had an umbrella to ward off the rain of his wrath. He was--
The smell of strawberries hung heavy in the air. "Uh…" The man in black cleared his throat. "McKay," he said, valiantly attempting to hiss the name.
McKay looked up from his sun lounger. "Still evil," he said, as he sipped at his pink cocktail, "it's just that it's always bothered me, you know, how supreme rulers of the universe always choose to live in such uncomfortable places. I mean, if you were the ultimate ruler of the entire imaginary country, would you live in a dark tower on the edge of a volcano, surrounded by hideous orcs, without even electricity or broadband internet access? Of course not! You'd live in a comfortable mansion surrounded by pretty girls, with…"
"Kittens," the man in black stated, his voice redolent with disgust as the fluffy feline bundle pounded on his boot lace. "Evil doesn't keep kittens," he pronounced. "Grown-up cats, who can be stroked to emphasise pauses in evil pronouncements, yes. Kittens, no."
"But that's my point," McKay said, turning his attention to a mountain of chocolates. "If I've got to be evil, I'm evil enough to sit back and enjoy myself, and make minions do all the work. I'm evil enough to get myself a comfortable existence." He snapped his fingers. "Music!" A string quartet started up from behind a row of consoles. "And where's my tame sculptor? Statues don't make themselves, you know."
The man in black peeled kitten from his leg. "Start again," he sighed.
The man in black strode into the room. Tall, he was, with eyes looked a little bit bruised, doubtless from a lifetime spent contemplating evil deeds, and tired stubble on his troubled face. His presence filled the room like dark wet blanket, and all who were at risk of being touched by it shrank away, hiding their true expressions behind their hands, and hoping that they would be passed by. He was--
"Help!" a voice shouted from afar. "Help me!"
The man in black sprinted forward. A confusing sequence of events happened, involving impasses, ultimatums, threats, self-sacrifice, angst, blood, staggering, staunch declarations and gratitude.
"Uh…" McKay said, as he stood over the man in black as he lay in the infirmary.
"Leave no-one behind?" the man in black said hopefully, his eyes cloudy with drugs.
"An Evil Overlord," McKay declared, with evident satisfaction, "does not generally take bullets meant for their minions. Evil isn't just about logos and beards, but is about a state of mind. Remember?"
The man in black's eyes fluttered shut. "Again," he whispered.
The man in black strode into the room in a weary way that suggested that all similes and adjectives had finally deserted him. He stood there like a… like a…
"I think," Teyla said quietly, "that we should content ourselves with some small token evil gestures. Will that suffice, do you think?"
The man in black sighed with visible relief. "I wear black." He said it in a way that seemed to dare the entire universe to question his credentials.
"I once made a small child cry," Teyla said. "I did not intend to do so," she added, but only quietly
"You should see me before I've had coffee in the morning." McKay nodded with satisfaction. "And… oh! Oh!" He snapped his fingers triumphantly. "I like dark chocolate, and I've got a Darth Maul action figure still in its original packaging. I opened Obi-Wan." He turned to Ronon as if daring him to do better.
"I'm large," Ronon said.
"There." The man in black let a breath, and grinned. "That's that, then. Evil: check. What's the next prompt?"