...I smiled nervously, out of mild self-satisfaction.
"Are you absolutely sure?" Claude reiterated. "Because... after all, you taught me everything I know, and I could just as well grant you the income you could have otherwise earned through the conference and we could forget about this whole--"
"Come on, Claude!" I suddenly interjected, summoning up my courage. "Where's your spiteful spirit? Your malignant mindset, your domineering sense of disaster?" I wasn't sure where the words were coming from -- from some subconscious thought, some inner Clay Brick, perhaps -- but they seemed to be getting the message across. Gradually, a smile came to Claude's mouth and his eyes lit up.
"By Jhudora's Daisy, you're absolutely right!" the Mynci shouted with shocking revelation as he slapped his hand to his forehead. "What's the fun of being a villain if you don't step at least seventeen feet over the line every once in a while?" He smiled at me.
I beamed back at him.
"Alright!" Dusty started with a grin. "As I said earlier, we'll need all the trainees. Modifying your plan slightly," he continued, pointing at me, "we might just have something totally viable..."
Dusty got the word out, and almost immediately villains started assembling in his quaint and unassuming premises. It felt like some kind of comic-book convention, with all these strange individuals in costume... but here, the villains were praised rather than the heroes. (Also, it lacked a large amount of the Seekers who often flock to those sorts of things.)
I stared at the incoming crowds and grew more excited by the second. Sure, there were the lesser-known villains in much the same group as myself, though every once in a while someone particularly famous would walk into the room.
"There's the Iron Pencil!" I whispered emphatically, pointing at the Aisha. "And the Caught Cold!" I practically gaped at the Usul. I then shrieked as a certain Bori walked into the room. "And the Filthy Bottle! Ahh!"
Dusty rolled his eyes at me many times that day.
Finally, when it appeared as though everyone had arrived, the well-known Zafara called for action. There were so many there, and I was surprised -- apparently, anyone who's anyone among Neopia's elite villainy had some connection to what may be my future mentor.
"Hello, everyone," Dusty started, a grave expression on his face. "As... many of you know by now, our dear friend and one of our very well-known community members, Clay Brick, has fallen into enemy hands."
There were a few gasps from the crowd, and some even sobbed at the thought. I heard the Gangrenous Glitter murmur from behind me, "My, if it can happen to him, then it can happen to anyone."
I nodded my head silently in agreement.
"Regardless," Dusty Broom continued, "we are going to break him out." He then gestured for me to walk up and stand beside him.
In front of all those villains...
Mustering my courage, I walked out in front of the congregation, to applause. I eased.
"This little, er... 'anti-hero' here," the Zafara announced, pointing at me, "is one of my newest encounters. He is Split Milk -- remember that name, for he will one day be as famous as Clay Brick."
By now, I was drooling with excitement and didn't even care that he didn't preface my title with the word "The."
"He came up with the plan to break Clay out, and I modified it to ensure maximum efficiency -- in essence, we need you to go about and wreak general havoc. In the meantime, with all your heroes and the other 'peace officials' chasing after you, Claude Vestaude and I will break into jail and retrieve our captured comrade. Spilt Milk, at the moment, is a little too inexperienced to be on such an invaluable heist..."
I found this slightly insulting at first, but at least he was transparent about it. I also realized that he was pretty much right.
"...So, he can stay here and oversee operations. Now, everyone, break!"
And that was that. The villains all left Dusty's tiny abode, and the streets of Neopia Central soon ran rampant in terror.
Wishing me well, Dusty and Claude left the room.
I waited all alone for a while. It got quite monotonous, so I decided to venture outside and observe some destruction. While I knew that a great deal of it would be around the city, I figured there must be something going on this far north.
To my astonishment -- and I gazed in both directions -- nothing had traveled this far out. I hoped that the plan had successfully worked in diverting the heroes away from the jail long enough to get Clay Brick out.
I then saw a young Gelert appear over the horizon line.
"You there!" she called, wearing a starry shirt and red pants. A grey-fur cape flew behind her as she quickly approached.
My eyes bulged and my mind raced. "Hi?" I tentatively called back.
She came up beside Dusty's house. "Hello, evil," she said with a slight accent. "I am Luminary Lila, and I'm here to defeat you, Dusty Broom. I know that you're behind all of the chaos in the Central district."
This strange Gelert appeared to have really nothing of which to "defeat" anyone... but I played along.
"Er... I'm not Dusty Broom," I said with a slight laugh.
Her tension resolved. "Oh. Well... do you know when he'll be back?"
"Look," I said, hiding my excitement, "I AM a student of Dusty Broom's, and I AM also the one who initiated the wave of chaos across Neopia Central."
She gaped. "Er... do you have a hero to oppose yet?"
I attempted to remain calm and serious. This was my chance! "Um," I started casually, scanning her, "no, not at the moment. And, why not? Having a hero could be fun!" I quickly grabbed a piece of paper and wrote down the address to my lair. "Here's the address to my Evil Lair of Evilness and Other Evil Things, in the event you want to drop by," I concluded with a charismatic grin.
She beamed, and I watched her walk back down the path to Neopia Central. "Yay!" she cheered. "I've a villain!"
As soon as she was out of sight, I did pretty much the same thing. "Yay! I've a hero!"
About an hour later, Claude and Dusty returned. They looked solemn.
I frowned. "What happened?"
The Zafara spoke first. "It's Clay Brick. He's..."
My heart pounded in my chest.
A familiar Blumaroo then stepped forward from behind the two.
"...Right here!" Dusty finished.
"You, there, Spilt Milk," Clay started (and I decided then and there that I might as well drop the "The"), "from what Dusty has told me -- and my, is he rarely mistaken -- it was your idea today that helped get me out of the big house. You may have saved my life, allowing me to impersonate and thieve another day."
I grinned at him.
"So, I want to work alongside Dusty with you, and together we can REALLY mold you into a force not to be reckoned with."
He reached out his hand to shake and I quickly accepted it. With his other hand, he gave me a sack of Neopoints. "Here's 10,000 NP," he continued. "Take it to... live your life, I guess." The Blumaroo smiled.
I was practically speechless as I accepted it. "Thank you, sir," I squeaked.
"See you here next week at seven," Dusty commanded. He shot me a crooked grin. "You've earned it, kid."
Walking back to my lair, I thought of all the things I could buy with the NP. I'd probably use it to refurbish my evil lair further -- you know, put up some more lights, or a plaque commending me as Villain of the Month, or... maybe a sandwich bar.
It was a very good day.
Well, look at that. The story's pretty much done. You now know how I received my superhero, and how I even saved Clay Brick!
Luminary Lila comes by about four times a week, sometimes more frequently. Ah, we always have a splendid time together!
Just yesterday, she successfully destroyed the Milk Ray Gun I was working on! Oh, but she'll be in for it tomorrow, when she sees my weapon capable of rocking all the baby carriages a mile away, but super fast as to cause mild annoyance for the child! (Yes, that was inspired by the Lenny.)
They say that every good superhero needs a good supervillain -- and, for the villain, the opposite is also true.
So, good luck out there, all you future villains! Remember that above rule -- also, if you can afford it, splurge for the sandwich bar. It's surprisingly convenient...