1721: Heroes and Villains – Chapter Eighteen, Part OnePosted: March 29, 2017
Title: Heroes and Villains
Author: Horrible’s Igor
Media: Television / Movies
Topic: Buffy: The Vampire Slayer / Kitchen Sink
URL: Heroes and Villains (Now Defunct)
Critiqued by TacoMagic and Eliza
Hey folks! Since last week’s chapter didn’t matter in the slightest, even by the author’s own admission, we’re not going to bother recapping it other than just saying it was Igor getting all grimdork and edgelardy because attention seeking.
“Whereas we seek attention by tearing into the low-hanging fruit!”
Damn straight! Let’s get this attention train on the rails!
“Speaking of attention seeking.”
It’s like some kind of theme this week!
So tell me… how does it feel to keep reading, knowing that one of the main characters is doomed to perish by her own hand?
Let’s see here, ignoring the feelings of anger for your mistreatment of suicide in a chapter of transparent edginess pandering, and ignoring the fact that I don’t care about any of these characters because they are either unlikable or don’t have enough personality to create any emotional buy-in-
“Don’t forget about how predictable and uninteresting the story is!”
Right, naturally ignoring that, and ignoring the fact that the narrative lies to the audience constantly so that this future suicide can’t actually be trusted; ignoring ALL of that, I feel that dropping such a critical plot point in advance of it happening naturally as part of the story ruins any tension or interest it could have otherwise created, making the whole story an even emptier and less engaging experience than it already is. Igor, you have nothing surprising going on in the fic, and you’ve shown your hand at something that might have been surprising were there actual buildup to it. Instead you blew your load on a one-off chapter that comes right the fuck out of nowhere and doesn’t’ accomplish anything at all.
So, to put it concisely, how did we feel about the chapter?
“Bored, and slightly hungry.”
Don’t worry. I’m sure that you’ll have forgotten about it by the time it’s brought up again.
Even Igor realizes how forgettable it was.
“It’s also worth mentioning that it’s never brought up again, so will be forever forgotten to the sands of time!”
Wait, so we never fixed the time-sand leak that kept erasing everyone’s memories?
Something about a leek in the thyme sandwich, I think?
“I’ll have Gumdrop put it on the lunch menu.”
September 18th, 2014. One week since Doctor Horrible was inducted into the villains’ ranks, and Xander joined our heroes.
Well, we now have a more concrete time that this is all happening in. Finally. Not that it really helps set any kind of scene, but we have a date now.
As with any Grand Plan, and efforts to thwart it, the hardest part is starting.
Wait, why is ‘Grand Plan’ capitalized?
“Probably a reference to the Sith Imperative. Makes about as much sense as the other references.”
Crunchy would be pissed. He really hates anything having to do with Darth Bane.
Buffy was still recovering a little from her fight with Dark Willow’s lackey Johnny, and Doctor Horrible and Elsa needed to fully settle into the fabric of Salix Tech before they could begin their campaign.
“In other words, nothing is happening!”
To be more exact, MORE nothing is happening.
“Well, Igor did say he was all about toeing the line. And he’s definitely toeing this one! You have to admire the dedication.”
I’m not sure dogged persistence in the pursuit of something overwhelmingly stupid is a good thing.
Thus, the week of September 11-18 was devoted to The Drawing Board.
Huh, also capitalized.
“Probably a reference to the restaurant in historic downtown Petaluma, CA.”
But spending an entire week at a restaurant seems like a waste of- actually, knowing Willow’s business sense, it’s actually believable.
The heroes decided quickly that they needed to gather more intel on the inner workings of Salix Tech.
This is fair. The heroes honestly have no way of knowing how little actually happens there.
As it turned out, the company was legitimate on the exterior, partnering with the tech juggernauts of Silicon Valley to bring the next generation of computers and smartphones and virtual reality to the country and the world– but oddly, they appeared to have no connections with Dark Willow.
And, even with all that, Willow manages to squander it all and go bankrupt.
Igor, you do realize that Dr. Evil was satire, right? Right? Riiiiiiight?
“It’s okay to cry now.”
The only thread was that the seal on Buffy and Marlowe’s letters matched the company’s logo, and Dark Willow had a penchant for setting up confrontations, so it probably wasn’t an oversight on her part, but rather a lain clue for them to follow.
Which is much simpler and more believable than Willow simply stealing the logo and having a signet ring made after it.
“Does it count if the word is used correctly in the sentence, but the fic has shown and told the opposite of what the sentence is saying?”
Sure, go ahead.
“Penchant is now on the list!”
While they had a sweater to unravel, the villains had a different problem on their hand: how to knit an entirely new sweater.
“So everyone is going to be getting sweaters!?”
Christmas is ruined. Way to go, Igor.
“Who cares, I love sweaters!”
The past week had been spent fabricating their next moves and side projects, deciding who was best at what and how to parse out the various tasks the Grand Plan required.
“That’s pretty much how Bane ended up with his plan.”
Yeah, and it was a brilliant one.
- Kill all the other Sith
- Jedi are all dead and Sith rule forever.
“Well, it did almost work.”
True, can’t fault him on his results, despite how stupid the plan was.
Obviously, Doctor Horrible would toil away giving them a technical advantage, creating new weapons and defenses that nobody had ever seen before;
Like the freeze ray!
“Which he’s already made two versions of.”
And the… thing.
“The Thing wasn’t one of Doctor Horrible’s inventions.”
Welp, that’s me tapped out of ideas for what Dr. Horrible is actually doing.
Elsa would serve the role of strategist, drawing up plans with multiple beneficial outcomes and accounting for every possible unforeseen circumstance;
Which is definitely something she’d be good at after having completely failed in her last leadership role.
“Willow didn’t think Elsa’s position through very far, I think. Not a lot of call for an endless supply of ice in an evil organization.”
Or at least not one that owns an ice machine. This is why you don’t hire people based on how sexy you find them.
and Willow would be responsible for general management and making sure the heroes didn’t do anything too damaging.
“That’s not a very clever way of phrasing, ‘sitting around and not doing anything.'”
Upper management has never been accused of cleverness.
All in all, both sides had a lot going for them.
It’s weird to see him playing both sides like that.
The worst thing that could happen to them now was something from the outside that they didn’t see coming.
“I don’t think that’s how you foreshadowing.”
No, it really isn’t.
“So,” Doc finished, setting down his tea, “once 3.0 is completed, I’m thinking that I should see about one of the ideas Ms. Rosenberg had in her ‘magitech’ section and see if it’s viable.”
There were ideas in that document?
“Yup! Very interesting ones, too!”
“Combine magic and technology!”
“Do you have one specifically in mind?” Elsa asked.
“I’d go with that ‘combine magic and technology’ one. Seems pretty lucrative!”
“There is one…” he said, flipping through his manila folder. “Here it is: Nanobots.” He showed Elsa the document.
Fucking hell, Igor. First off, nanobots aren’t magic. Second, there are other bleeding edge technologies than nanobots. Be different and use something else!
There was an artist’s rendering of a small, white rectangular block with a blue LED in the center, and little wisps of magic curling off it helpfully added to get the idea across.
Wow. I just… wow. I can’t picture that as anything other than a crayon drawing by one of my kids. That counts as an idea, does it, Igor? Wow.
“Jiwe! We need a magical nanomachine picture!”
“Nanobots…” she murmured, skimming through the document. “This is far beyond my comprehension, which is saying a lot, given my lack of technical knowledge already.”
Might as well add the phrase ‘saying a lot’ to the list, since it literally means the opposite of the rest of the sentence.
“Hmm… You could think of it as a little soldier,” Doc tried.
No. No you couldn’t.
“In theory, it would be capable of wielding certain magicks to perform pre-assigned tasks.
That’s what Syl calls Book’s pe- err… his pen.
“That’s a weird thing to call a pen.”
It’s magical and stuff.
For instance, you could set it to use heat-resistance spells so it could go into hot environments without suffering damage;
Which would accomplish… what?
“It would become warm!”
or you could set it up with an explosive spell so it could excavate rock, or potentially dispatch enemies. That make sense?”
I’m trying to figure out why you would need nanomachines to do any of that stuff. Also, this is not how you technology. You start with a goal in mind FIRST, then you start coming up with a technology to accomplish the goal. Starting with the end product first and then deciding what problem to solve with it is how marketing folk do technology. That kind of thought process is how we end up with things like the app oven, talking bass, electronic bumper stickers, and 90% of the stuff you can find in the Skymall catalogue.
Elsa mulled it over. “…Somewhat. You’re saying that it uses magic, and to do that it uses…”
Magic, you literally just said that it uses magic.
“Maybe she means what method does it use to cast magic.”
Oh, probably arcane gestures or something.
“A program,” he finished. “Pre-set orders.”
That’s not how it works. Robots of any kind don’t USE their program to do things, the program instructs them how to do the things. For somebody who is ostensibly a master of technology like Dr. Horrible, it is a huge distinction to make. It’s like the difference to saying that you use the rope to pull the sled compared to saying the sled uses the rope to move.
“Alright…” she nodded. “And the problem is that it’s new territory.”
“And for good reason!”
Yeah, merging technology and magic to do things that technology alone could accomplish is over-complicating the solution to a problem you haven’t even identified yet.
“Yeah,” he said. “The biggest problem with magitech in general is that nobody’s been able to get the magic and the tech to… mesh, I guess.
Also, the lack of a compelling reason to mesh them springs to mind as a barrier to progress on this front.
“But it’s cool!”
Ah yes, the rule of cool must be upheld. How could I forget.
It’s like oil and water, sort of– actually, no, it’s not, it’s like a… a Venn diagram where the two circles are barely overlapping.
It’s like fish and mercury!
“Like cupcakes and ionic thrust!”
More analogies! More I say!
We need to find a way to get them to work together.
“Sounds like they need a good emulsifier! I recommend stearic acid!”
This is why we don’t let you in the kitchen anymore.
Once we do, it should be easier to actually create these things– but science is all about new territory and running into speed bumps.”
Why are those two unrelated thoughts connected with a contrasting conjunction?
“Why are ‘speed bumps’ listed as one of the things Science is all about?”
Yeah, that is weird. They’re an inevitability to the process at some point or another, but nothing in the scientific method really makes them a formal component.
“Fun question! Elsa is a Queen, Dr. Horrible is a scientist, and Willow is the leader of an evil shadow organization. Which of those three are the worst at their archetype?”
Sweet crap that’s a hard choice to make.
“Mmm– it sounds like mapmaking, in a sense,” she said.
“Maybe she maps a lot of parking lots.”
“Kind of, yeah,” he agreed.
They’re not going to explain why science is like mapmaking, are they?
*Eliza pats Taco on the back* “The closet of weeping was freshened up this morning.”
The door opened, and Willow stepped inside, looking cold. “It’s freaking mid-September and already I’m messing with the thermostat,” she said, shivering slightly as she turned it on and set it to 70°.
Dude, you’re on the side of Mount Lassen. You’re lucky if the wind doesn’t pick up and bury your base in a 30′ snow drift.
“How are you two not freezing in here?”
“Must be hard for Willow to remember that Elsa is the ice queen with that brick sticking out of the back of her head.”
Who keeps throwing those, anyway?
“You know my method,” Elsa smiled faintly.
“Is being imbued with the power of ice really considered a ‘method?'”
I’d consider it more of a technique.
“Cotton lab coat plus hot drink equals warm fuzzies,” Doc said.
Which is stupid, because cotton is shit at keeping you warm. You want wool or some other kind of animal fiber.
“Your yarn geek is showing.”
Born to hook, bitches!
“I see,” Willow said, sitting down at the head of the table.
Yeah, turns out that not only were the readers bored by this exchange, but so were the characters!
“Meanwhile I’m stuck with either freezing to death or looking like an Eskimo.
Because there is no in between.
Heh! Anyway… What’s on the agenda today?”
“Talking? Discussing about earlier talking? Mulling over the idea that they might talk about discussing their earlier talking!?”
Probably that last one.
“Well, right now, Doctor Horrible’s trying to teach me the basics about this ‘nanobot’ project he’s looking at,” Elsa said, showing her the folder.
Okay, definitely that last one.
“It’s a bit beyond my understanding, to be honest.”
“And not only is she over a century behind the technological learning curve, she has a horrible instructor.
Oh no you don’t, we only do ice puns in this riff.
Willow smirked a little bit.
She’s going to get gonged in the face a little bit if she keeps that up.
“Well, it’s a bit beyond mine, too. That’s why we have Doc in the first place. Actually, that ties in nicely with something I was coming up here to ask you, Doc: How well do you know A.I.?”
As an inventor of crazy contraptions, probably not all that well. AI design is really more of a software thing, and Horrible was always way more hands on.
“A.I.?” Doc repeated. “…Not too much. I specialise more in weapons and that sort of stuff. I could probably dust off some books of mine, though.”
Huh, Igor got that one right. Well, gotta get a few here and there, I guess. Still, you’d be better off hiring an evil software engineer rather than hoping Horrible can learn the intricacies of A.I. programming from a few old dusty books.
“Does this have anything to do with the Grand Plan?” Elsa asked.
“Shh! Taco will bring up the chart again if you keep mentioning it!”
“Potentially,” Willow said.
So basically you just wanted to bring it up to sound smart? Wouldn’t be the first time in this fic.
Oh yes, the Grand Plan…” Doc said. “We wanted to finalise that completely today, didn’t we?”
Step one needs a tad more fleshing out before they kill off all the Sith.
“And step two n-”
Do not question step two!
“We did,” Willow nodded. She set up her pen and paper on the table. “Oh, yes, here we are: government plans. Do we form our own nation-state, or do we set up puppets instead and rule from behind the scenes?”
“We have seventeen chickens!”
But all you have is eggs.
“Meh, they’ll hatch. Let’s build a coop!”
Elsa made a face. “Setting up our own country would be very hard. I’m assuming that despite the vast differences between the different countries of the world, none of them would be likely to welcome our own regime with open arms.”
Can somebody explain the whole ‘takeover’ part of government takeover to Elsa again please!?
“Can I use puppets?”
“But it would also be extremely difficult to play the corruption game,” Doc countered. “There’s no guarantee we could keep an entire world secretly under our thumb.”
“This whole ruling the world thing is hard.”
Maybe we should just sit around and talk instead.
“It would take a lot of administrative resources to fly our own flag, but it would take a lot of pseudo-espionage to pull strings instead,” Willow mused. “I don’t know.”
Add pseudo to the list.
“We’re already putting up a front as we are right now with Salix Tech,” Elsa said, “so it shouldn’t be terribly harder to scale it up, and we’re still in the first stage.”
“True,” Willow admitted.
Because you can definitely scale up a shadow company to encompass world domination. Definitely that easy. Yup. Yessir.
“We have mentioned that they aren’t very good at what they do.”
And the evidence just keeps piling up.
“I suppose you would know about the hassle of running a country yourself, Elsa,” Doc conceded, “but I still think that it would be harder to stay in the shadows. 7.25 billion people can’t all be fooled.”
It’s not so much a matter of fooling all those people as it is trying to dictate the policy of 196 separate countries while trying to simultaneously quell the inevitable rebellion and put down all the chaotic elements such as gangs, religious extremists, and the like.
“Not to mention the Hellmouths that are just itching to spew demons all over the place when things get evil enough.”
“It’s easier to convince people that a fringe are crazy than keeping everybody in the know and content with it,” Elsa riposted.
It’s like that sentence is trying to mean something, but just can’t seem to do it.
“You can do it, little sentence! Someday you’ll mean something!”
“…Alright,” Doc acquiesced. “Let’s go with the secret police.”
Add “secret police” to the list, because it’s not even close to what they’re talking about.
Willow smirked more openly this time.
“I know, buddy, I know. But Willow is all magic and stuff. She might turn you into something unsavory.”
Yeah, like Crunchy.
“Okay. No sovereign nation. That leads us to our last thing: space. The final frontier.
One must learn to crawl before one tries to escape Earth’s gravity, young grasshopper.
“Willow is a grasshopper!?”
What do we do with it? Do we explore this new arena passively, or do we stake a claim to the surrounding systems once we are able to?”
Does this strike anyone else like listening to an eight-year-old describe how they’re going to make their super castle with water slides, bouncy rooms, ball pits, and a swimming pool filled with icecream? They had to steal a paltry 2 million dollars to placate the League, and now they’re talking about galactic conquest. I mean there’s aiming big, and then there’s aiming stupid.
“That would be messy,” Doc shook his head. “Fund exploration, yes. Colonise, no.”
I’m not sure you can fund space exploration with cars.
“I’m in agreement,” Elsa nodded. “We’ll have enough trouble controlling our own world.”
“That said, it would be very cool to go out into deep space and see what else is out there,” Doc said.
In a way, this exchange is like looking into the thought process behind the fic itself. Lots of big, extraordinary ideas, but no thought put into anything beyond the moment it’s come up with. Lots of scale, but no planning to actually achieve it.
“Noted,” Willow said, writing down the verdict. “Well, those were the last two things that we really needed to figure out. That’s the Grand Plan, first draft.
Somehow, this version of the Grand Plan is even worse than Bane’s.
*Eliza sighs* “Let’s see it Taco.”
- Rule the everything!
We have a basic idea of what we want to do with the world and how to do it.
“It’s so fail proof, they may as well already own the planet!”
This is all subject to change, though, so we shouldn’t get too attached to any bullet points.”
“You should revise the plan.”
- Subject to change.
- Rule the everything or just all of the things.
She stowed away the notepad. “So, that’s that done for now. Should we get back to the nanobots?”
I’m torn as to whether the nanobot conversation was stupider or just as stupid as the one where they developed the plan.
“Why not,” Doc agreed.
Luckily, Igor has mercy on the audience and tosses in a scene break here, so we won’t have to suffer through more inept noodling about things Igor hasn’t the first clue about.
In any event, that’s where we’re going to cut things off this week. A bit of a short one, but I’m actually rocking a pretty sweet headache right now, so my heart isn’t as in this as it should be.
“And watching you force yourself though this is bumming me out. Way to bring the room down, Taco.”
Sorry. Anyway, see you all next week!
“Until then, patrons!”