1465: Heroes and Villains – Chapter 2, Part 1Posted: July 6, 2016
Title: Heroes and Villains
Author: Horrible’s Igor
Media: Television / Movies
Topic: Buffy: The Vampire Slayer / Kitchen Sink
URL: Heroes and Villains
Critiqued by TacoMagic and Eliza
Hey, all! Welcome back to another installment of Heroes and Villains, which is probably the vaguest fic I’ve ever riffed; probably owing to the bombshell the author dropped last week that the entire fic is actually based on one of over a hundred scripts he was writing for a TV series. As mentioned, usually when you focus more on the amount that you’re writing rather than the quality of what you’re writing, you’re not focusing your priorities correctly.
“But you’ve done NaNoWriMo, haven’t you?”
Yes I have, and I wouldn’t inflict those messes on anyone. If anything can and should be learned from NaNo, it’s that focusing on an artificial word goal is the last thing you should do when setting out to write something worth reading.
“RECAP! We actually had stuff happen last time! Elsa was in her castle moping around and talking to herself in various voices, when some of Willow’s recruiting agents showed up and offered her a fifty-percent share of the presidency of Evil Inc. Then one of the agents had a little too much fun reciting the somewhat short list of benefits that you get working for the company, which a president may or may not get.”
I presume getting whatever cut the president gets probably makes up for the lack of fringe benefits.
“Unless the company is incompetent and on the verge of chapter eleven bankruptcy. In that case it would be really beneficial to have a new president at the helm to take the fall as the old president retires to the Bahamas.”
Diabolical, but somewhat unlikely given that we’ve still got like twenty-two chapters.
“This week we start off on location in Void Base Alpha.”
Willow was getting tired of having to do so much thinking.
Uhh, Willow is the nerdy one, essentially the Velma stereotype of the gang. If there’s one thing she never really gets tired of, it’s thinking.
“Isn’t this Dark Willow, though?”
Fair consideration; it’s certainly possible that DW is less about the thinking. Though I find it unlikely to be the case given her earlier micromanagement of everything. Doubly so if she teams up with Dr. Horrible. Horrible would be unlikely to allow himself to be even partners with somebody who was afraid of thinking.
She’d been spending the last half-hour attempting to go over the fine print of the new deal she’d taken on the morning before, but with her migraine going full blast, it was like trying to look at it through a funhouse mirror.
You’ll rarely, if ever, see a CEO/President of a large corporation mulling over the fine print. Why? Because large companies have dedicated lawyers.
“And you would think an evil corporation would have loads of them.”
The words seemed to warp and twist beyond legibility if she concentrated on them, which also served to worsen her headache- it was a spiral effect that she really did not need.
Then get a flipping lawyer! If you’re buying $500,000 cars for every employee, then you should be able to fork out for a single contract attorney!
“That bankruptcy theory is looking more likely.”
Shame that I know better than to hope.
She’d tried nearly everything: aspirin, Tylenol, even magicking it away, but nothing helped. Her head continued to scream with a feeling akin to what she imagined a railroad spike through one’s skull would be like.
We get it, she has a headache, can we move on to something actually interesting, please?
To be honest, she had never felt this way, never in her entire 34-year-long life, which was incredibly worrying for her- Lucky Number Three must’ve really knocked her systems out of whack the night before.
“She’s a robot!”
I honestly didn’t see that one coming.
Soon enough it would be the night before last, as the clock was fast approaching 11:45.
I’m pretty sure that’s not how time works.
She tried not to think about the fact that it would be a miracle if she could get to sleep before 1 A.M.
*Bap* “No numbers in the narrative.”
She stared intently at the page before her, silently willing the text to return to normal so she could finally see exactly what she’d gotten herself into. It almost looked like they were beginning to become comprehensible when somebody knocked at the door, sending three savage bursts of pain through her head and another round of nausea through her stomach.
“Do evil CEOs often delay seeking medical help when there’s obviously something wrong?”
Don’t know, the closest things we have around here is Crunchy and Goeth, and they have legitimate reasons for not wanting to get treated by any of our resident doctors.
“Come in,” she called, trying to keep her voice from betraying her state of not-doing-well-at-all.
“Illness. The word you were looking for was illness.”
Thesauruses are a tricky thing. Too much and your prose is awkward as hell. Too little, and it’s just as awkward.
Boss opened the door, stepping in lightly on his feet and quietly shut the door behind him.
Since I doubt we’re ever going to get a description of “Boss,” I’m going to chose to picture him thusly:
His face was slightly sheepish- evidently he’d remembered that she was sick after knocking- but she would let him slide on this one, because she didn’t want to lash out at a small little thing like that.
“If she let her employees know that she’s sick, why did she try to hide it?”
Well, it is an evil organization. There’s probably a very real chance that somebody will capitalize on her illness and take power.
Those who got mad about trivial matters ended up with either an empty box in their hands or a knife in their back.
What was that she said last chapter?
“I hate it when my assets fall into the wrong hands. Fail-” she cut right to the chase, dropping all pretense of kindness- “and I will skin you.”
Little on the late side to try to appear reasonable. I guess Willow’s characterization hadn’t yet been finalized in the author’s head at this point.
“Or at least at this point in the script.”
Don’t remind me.
“Hello,” Boss said, testing the waters.
“Hello, Boss,” she replied, keeping her gaze fixed on the paper.
It was getting better, but if she looked away no doubt she wouldn’t get it back easy.
“She wouldn’t get the paper back easily?”
Boss likes to steal legal forms.
“How’d it go?”
“Oh. It went, you know … good.”
That sounds very … nice.
“The boys said she’s not looking very good,” he reported sadly, “On her last legs.”
Well, there it is. Last legs. Lastest. No more after.
“Yep. No more legs.”
“WILL YOU TWO JUST KISS ALREADY!? This is why intra-office romance is such a bad idea, things get really awkward even in evil offices.”
Willow’s heart softened a little right there.
And it grew three sizes that day!
“Which ended tragically in cardiac arrest.”
She had some semblance of what the Queen was going through at the moment, albeit with glaring differences.
So basically not the same at all.
“Similar, yet totally different!”
Despite that, she knew how it felt to have someone leave you. It was almost like they had taken out your heart, leaving an empty hole in its place that hurt with indescribable pain, leaving you half of what you were and nowhere near okay in any sense of the word.
“And suddenly angst!”
I wouldn’t call that sudden given what we got in the first chapter.
“She’s going through a hard time in her life,” she said sympathetically, her hard stare relaxing a little bit, “It’ll make her strong, though, in the end. It’s only through hardship that greatness can be achieved.”
“Of course,” Boss agreed.
“Did my message get sent?” she asked, changing the subject to something less somber.
You’re still talking about Elsa, that’s the same subject.
“Maybe Boss is going to recite the benefits again!”
Oh man, that would be awesome!
“Do the part about the 401K!”
One of the worse effects of being injured and sick as a result is that it’s too easy to get stuck in an angry or depressed mood, and right now she didn’t want to feel either of those things.
I dunno, sometimes I feel a lot better after a good wallow in self-pity.
“On it’s way as we speak,” Boss affirmed confidently.
“Good,” she replied, “I hate it when things get dull. This’ll spice her up some.” She paused, trying to think of what she knew she was forgetting to ask about. “And the transfer?”
“He’s still doing what he does best,” Boss answered.
“On the other hand, Willow only feels better after wallowing in vague details about stuff.”
“Did you read today’s papers?”
Front page news, ‘Boy Plays with Dog.’
Willow was almost tempted to say that very few under the age of 35 read actual newspapers anymore, and she did not fall under that category, but she kept the snark to herself. “No, why?”
Wow, that added a lot.
“Hey, at least she kept that inside instead of griping at her subordinate.”
It’s sad that the bar is that low, but you’re right, at least she was civil to Boss.
“He strikes again,” Boss revealed, “Crashed the NSA’s servers for a full twenty-four hours.”
That’s actually not that impressive. Crashing a server is pretty easy.
She raised her eyebrows, surprised. “Nice. We’ll send his boss a letter after we get our newest recruit up to speed, and then… then the real fun starts.”
Please tell me that this ‘fun’ comes with some kind of description, or real information, or at least some kind of showing.
She allowed herself a split-second to picture what would happen in just a few days’ time- she would have the two most formidable individuals to walk the planet at her side, ready to take on their enemies and conquer the world. As long as she played her cards right, she would have the strings all in place, and soon the people would be her marionettes.
Author, tell me truthfully, what is your aversion to explaining what the hell is going on? The lack of setting, character descriptions, and personalities I can almost forgive, but at least spend five minutes telling us about the plot. I don’t even need to be shown anything. Exposit to your heart’s content, but at least tell me why I should give a flying fuck about any of this!
“I don’t like him,” Boss admitted tightly, snapping her out of her daydream.
“Him? You mean Mr. Guy Man? What do you have against Mr. Guy Man!? He’s so nice!”
“Who?” she asked.
*Gasp* Is this finally it!? Are we going to get some actual information about what these two are talking about!?
“The boss,” Boss replied, sounding rather uncomfortable
“That was very helpful, thank you, author. Boss doesn’t like the boss.”
“I was never a big fan of stallions to begin with, but he is something even worse.”
“Ooooh, okay. So if you are actually familiar with Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along-Blog, you now have a little bit of information about who these two are talking about!”
Those who aren’t familiar are out of luck, though.
“Yeah, I feel sorry for anyone who didn’t do the required reading before coming to the fic today.”
She gave up on trying to read. It had seemed to be getting better, but after a while it just plateaued.
That doesn’t make any sense. I know what you were trying to say, author, but your pronoun abuse and misused colloquialism really muddled things up.
“He’s the boss for a reason, Boss,” she reminded him.
“Either rename your minion or just call Bad Horse by his name. This double-bossing is making my head spin.”
“Go now, and tell me when she comes back.”
“Girl Woman must have left for lunch.”
“Roger that,” Boss confirmed, and exited the room as quietly as he could manage.
“Ten-four over-and-out, good buddy!”
Oh gods, now look what you’ve done, Boss.
She stayed still a moment, trying to feel for some barely-perceptible change in the roaring pain in her head, but couldn’t find any sign that the pain was fading. Resigned, she pulled out her phone, calling up the keypad. She hummed the tones for the numbers to herself as she dialed, hitting the green button and bringing it up to her ear. This time the phone rang only twice before picking up on the other end.
“You said you wanted the author to describe things.”
I have deep regrets.
“Hey there, it’s me,” she said. “How are things going down south?” she inquired innocently.
“We are reasonably well,” a smooth, cold voice replied. “We await your arrival with bated breath.”
“Good, good,” she smiled. “And everyone else?”
“The team is holding up,” the voice answered, “Although too much longer and someone might start to go stir-crazy.”
How can there be this much nothing in a single fic!? It’s not even word padding at this point, it’s like listening in to little snippets of conversation of strangers. Even for a script there’s just nothing here to let anyone know what’s going on. At least scripts have (or should have) notes for set design and blocking. And a cast list.
“Glad to hear it,” she responded. “Listen, I’m going to have to go off the grid for a little while, so you won’t hear from me for a bit. If anyone from the League asks, tell them we’ll have their stuff ready by Friday, ‘kay?”
“Very well, Miss Rosenberg.”
“Wonderful. I’ll call soon. Bye.”
“At least we have a date now.”
“Yup, it’s sometime before Friday in 2011!”
She hung up, resting the phone on the table. “Now then…” She stood up, a fresh burst of pain erupting in her head, and opened the door.
She made her way down the corridor without to much difficulty, although the flight stairs proved a challenge with her vision swimming about so much.
Everyone gets a $500,000 car, but doesn’t think that the facility could use an elevator.
Who decided they should be called ‘flights’ anyways? They had exactly nothing to do with aviation.
It’s 18th century. A flight of stairs is a reference to the stairs providing vertical movement, thus ‘flying’ between the levels of the building.
“Dark Willow does not seem to be so much about the intelligence.”
I think she traded her brains for an extra helping of whining.
Thankfully, she made it down without incident.
“Whew, we were super worried that something might actually happen. That was a close one.”
She went through a few more twists and turns until she found herself at a door that read “CLEARANCE LEVEL 5 NECESSARY” in large white letters against the black wood. She opened the door and stepped inside.
Was that door even locked?
“They’re all about the honor system for security. They’ve had to make a few cuts for the car budget.”
This room was nowhere near as refined and high-end as the rest of the facility.
*Shrug* It all looks like misty whiteness to me. But I guess this little hunk of void is a bit more common looking.
It was clean, sure, but there was a distinct feeling of neglect to it.
“The mist isn’t as lively in here. It swirls more sedately.”
Rather than soft white wall lighting, there was an incredibly dim glow reminiscent of moonlight that came from no visible source, and the walls, while just as well-kept, seemed to exude an inexplicable aura of dilapidation and desolation, almost making the air feel colder and moist.
The setting is somehow less distinct here. And cold.
“Have we actually ever seen a fic have a setting that so closely matched a description of the void?”
There have been a few, but that was probably the most literal description of void of any of them.
Of course, the very reason it was like this was for the express purpose of sending off anyone who took a peek inside.
Bye everyone! Hope you enjoyed your void send off!
“I feel so envious of them. They got to leave and we’re still here. Why didn’t the mist give us a send off?”
We weren’t able to peek on account of that haze blocking our view.
This room was not meant to be entered for those who were unfit.
Isn’t she like dizzy and stuff?
“She can still be in good shape and be dizzy.”
This elaborate smoke-and-mirrors setup helped to keep what was inside in its place: a lone silhouetted figure sitting in a black chair in the middle of the room, hair unkempt and clothes drab.
She’s keeping the very embodiment of nondescriptness hostage!
She closed the door, locking it, and stepped closer to the person in the chair. “And how are you doing today?”
“I’m very poorly defined today, thank you, dear.”
“Vision always comes with a price,” the figure answered in a voice like a rattlesnake’s hiss, raspy and slithering, “This is mine.”
“Homework tonight! Everyone try to say that line with a slithery voice. There will be an oral exam next week.”
*Porno music blasts over the intercom system*
“I know,” she replied, trying to shake off the uneasy chill that permeated the room. “I have a question for you.”
*Crosses fingers* Please be something specific. Oh please, oh please, oh please-
“The visions have told me as such,” the thing replied matter-of-factly. It stared a moment, then said in a mockingly sweet hiss, “It would seem you’re anxious to get that bandage off your eye, dearie. Is it bothering you?”
It’s like talking to people in my family, they’re so easily dis- SQUIRREL!
Willow’s hands curled into fists. The figure took every opportunity it could to patronize her, and she absolutely hated being talked down to.
“Not to mention the constant questions about when she’s going to start having babies.”
Syl been pestering you about the raptor breeding program, again?
“Crunchy with a bag on his head is still Crunchy!”
Couple that with the headache and the aforementioned bandaged slash through her left eye, and she was already past her tolerance. “It would bother anyone,” she snapped, trying to remain calm. She wouldn’t get anywhere by getting hissy. “Do you have any answers for me?”
For those wondering what the hell is going on here, the snake lady here is probably Aluwyn, a snake-demon who takes Willow under her tutelage in the comic series. Eventually they become lovers and have lots of kinky sex.
*Porno music blasts over the intercom system again*
That one’s fair. It’s very kinky.
The figure grinned, leaning back a little in the chair. “There are a great many things that have been made known to me, my dearie,” it stalled, “and it is hard to keep them all in order sometimes. It would appear they are trying to move around in my head again-“
That sounds suspiciously like fishing for sex.
“Hey, that’s Swenia’s favorite card game!”
Don’t want to know.
“Just tell me, dammit!” Willow snarled.
The figure froze, a surprised smile on its face. “Oh-ho-ho!” it exclaimed, setting the chair back onto all four legs. “Testy now, aren’t we? Very well, very well: calm your mind, and I will find what you seek.”
It’s going to get specific any moment now, I can feel it!
“Poor guy is becoming delusional.”
She took a deep breath, trying to empty her mind, but the swirling chaos couldn’t be completely eradicated. The pain demanded to be felt, and she just wasn’t in the proper mental and physical state to block it out.
“Maybe Aluwyn can kiss it better?”
Swenia put you up to this, didn’t she?
“She gave me a whole stack of things I’m supposed to say through this section!”
Still, she did her best. The figure straightened its posture, tilting its head up For a few seconds it was silent, then it stood, approaching her softly.
“But I have a whole stack!”
“The future speaks to me now,” it rasped, beginning to circle around her, “So much is to come… So much that concerns you, dearie.
We’re going to get specifics any moment now.
But you want specifics…
Fucking yes we do! I want specifics! Give me all the specifics! Who the hell is Boss!? Who is “She” from earlier? What was the thing planned for Friday!? What does anything look like!? Who were the two-
You want names, you want dates, not happenings.
No, it’s fine, I’ll take the happenings, too! Anything you go.
“I’m getting worried for you.”
I see… I see a shell of a man whose only reprieve is villainy…
That’s not specific. Try again, please.
a woman shunned, left to die of regret…
Still not specific. Can you focus a bit more? Do you need me to have Swenia give you a shoulder rub?
Aluwyn prefers those of the more female variety.
“I could always-”
No. No you couldn’t.
But wait… something stops her… something calls him…
Snake lady, you’re drifting further from specifics. Focus. You can do this.
She has a letter now… looking it over…” It chuckled softly, its breath cold on her skin, “She wants to say yes… But she can’t bring herself to say the words, not even to herself.
C’mon, Aluwyn, I need you to concentrate on this. I just need one specific piece of information. Anything will do. A name, a place, a date, something. Anything.
He doesn’t know it, but soon he’ll be asking himself the same questions… ‘Could I really do it?… Join her?’…
You’re starting to worry me, now. Did the void already get to you? It’s only been two chapters, surely that isn’t enough time for void infection to take hold.
They both need a push… something to send the past their fear and into their destiny… Evil.”
THAT WAS IT!? WHERE THE FUCK ARE MY SPECIFI-
*Taco sprawls out on the ground insensate*
*Eliza peers up through a hole in the ceiling* “I was wondering when that gong was going to land. Cerbersheep doesn’t mess around when he misses a shot at the Normandy.”
For the first time that day, Willow found herself smiling. Her proverbial light was getting closer now. “What do I have to do?” she breathed.
*Eliza pulls a slip of paper off the stack* “‘Mush girl bits together with snake lady!'”
“You need to show them,” the figure replied softly, still circling, “You need to help them see the evil in them… Make them pull the trigger… and they will follow you.”
*Eliza tilts her head while reading the next slip* “This one is just the address of the Library and Swenia’s room number. And it’s just got Willow’s name on the back. I don’t get it.”
*Eliza pulls the next slip off the pile* “‘Nearly as often as I like.’ Huh, must be an inside-joke.”
“Beautiful,” she sighed happily, “Absolutely perfect… Thank you.”
“‘Oh! Me next!’ I don’t get these. Must be lion humor.”
She felt it lean in towards her left ear. “The pleasure,” it whispered, “was all mine, dearie.”
“‘Bow, chika bow-wow.’ Wait, isn’t that what Lyle says? Why is that in here?”
*Pokes at Taco’s unmoving body*
“He’ll probably be fine. Anyway, that’s it for this week! Join us next week as we-” *Reads down* “Oh. Oh my.”