Alfred Quenton, Villain Extraordinaire: Part Two
Whistling noisily off key, Alfred traveled back to the office in an excellent (or perhaps more accurately described as a terrible) mood. He knocked into a busy Pteri delivering mail with his tail, stole an ice cream cone from a distracted Lutari-which he promptly threw away(eating that would be very unhygienic)- and popped a little girl's balloon.
Not even the Happiness Faerie could possibly ruin this rampage of evil! Then he paused. Technically, this wouldn't classify as a "rampage of evil".... no, but perhaps a frenzy of vexatious semi-evil antics. Thoughtfully, Alfred rubbed his chin. Not even the Happiness Faerie h-
"MR. QUENTON!" With metal screeching and shrieking in shrill protest, a large Skeith lugged over a cumbersome hot dog cart, shouting for attention. "Alfred Quenton! I-can I talk to you?"
"Can you? Yes, physically nothing is preventing you from talking to me." Yawning, the Korbat began walking away without even a glance back at the huffing Neopet. "But I'm a very busy fellow and I don't have time for idle chat."
The massive Skeith's bronze and scarlet wings drooped. "Don't you recognize me?"
Sighing, Alfred pivoted, tapping his paw impatiently. "No, I do not."
"Wait one second!" Beaming, the Skeith ducked behind his cart. The clanging of metal and mutters was heard. Then the Skeith-now clad in bronze armor with a black and scarlet tunic-jumped forward, surprising agile with the added weight. "Pound me! Hammer me! Batter me! You shall never break...." He paused, expecting Alfred to finish.
"Er." The Korbat's mind was blank. "Metal Man? Bronze Bullet? Goofy Belt Guy?"
"What?" The Skeith peered at his brown belt in confusion. "What's wrong with my belt? No, I'm IRON SKEITH!"
His booming voice made Alfred flatten his sensitive ears.
"Fe! Fe! Fe!" He flexed his wings and stomped his feet. "IRON SKE-"
Unfortunately, he broke down in a coughing fit. Incredulous and furious, Alfred wiped spittle from his head.
"Sorry, I'm a bit out of practice."
"A bit?" Alfred sneered. "Listen, Mr. Iron Ske-pardon me, Mr. IRON SKEITH, I appreciate your enthusiasm; however, I believe it would be the most serviceable option to forgo any business partnerships because it is in both of our best interests."
"Are you trying to lose me with euphemisms?" His perplexed look vanished. "Oh, I see. You don't think I'm the real Iron Skeith."
"We are not on the same page, sir." The Island Korbat's tail coiled around his legs. "Likely not in the same book. Perhaps even the same library."
"You are insinuating that Iron Skeith is a name widely known." He continued when the Skeith did not reply. "Popular? Famous? Or specifically... infamous?"
Spluttering in shock, the Skeith said, "Surely you have heard of me! Currently I may battle the Defenders, but I was once one of them!"
"Ah, I do recall that lesson at the academy." Alfred nodded. "An average, rather dull member jealous of talented coworkers plots to cheat the system and advance to team leader."
"That wasn't quite what-"
Plowing through his objections, Alfred eagerly recited his textbook, "Young Danger Buzz-later Sergeant Brexis- discovers everything and threatens to tell all. Careless of his former best friend's safety, the Skeith kidnaps him and tries to set up his longtime rival-"
"I didn't come to you to ask for a history lesson!" Agitated, the Skeith paced back and forth. "Mr. Quenton, I came to you because I wish to join your league."
"Really?" Bored, Alfred checked his watch. "And what makes you qualified for an esteemed position on my elite league?"
"You hired Mr. Chuckles, didn't you?"
"Congratulations, Iron Skeith." A chilly half smile, half grimace was all Alfred could manage. "You have been inducted as a full member of my league."
"Spike! Spike?" Ophelia fluttered around in the building. "I got a neomail from Alfred!"
The hallway leading to the rooms the Darigan Flotsam had claimed as his echoed back her words. Crumpling the corners of the paper, she stared down the drafty, dark corridor, tempted to cross through the plentiful caution tape. He had seemed extremely on edge, especially with her many questions. After a while, he had stormed away and told her not to bother him. Restless with loneliness, she had taken a stroll later interrupted by an urgent message from her boss.
A door squealed shut and something heavy hit the floor with a thump. Before she could decide if she was going to attempt to keep all the barriers intact or just bust through them, Spike shuffled into view.
"I hope this is important," the Flotsam snarled.
"A neomail arrived from Mr. Quenton." Her rigid posture displayed her sharp displeasure with his tone. "He desires us to return to the office to gather our old equipment."
"Grunt work?" The Flotsam glowered. "Isn't that why he just hired some fresh meat?"
"Samuel!" Ophelia chastised him.
"Are you my mother or something?" His molten red eyes smoldered. "You call me Spike. That's my name."
"We should be honored that Mr. Quenton is requesting our help!"
"He's not 'requesting our help', it's an order. I don't know why you cling to the delusional dream that he's your friend." Roughly, the Flotsam shoved a box out of his way sending a lamp spinning toward the blunt, unforgiving concrete. "He's no one's friend."
The lamp shattered.
Ophelia fought the quaver in her voice. "We've been friends for some time. I don't expect you to understand Alfred as well as I do. He may be eccentric, but he is still the same Korbat I knew as a child."
"I don't expect you to understand Alfred as I do when you're blinded by your biased affection." His biting parody of her words made her tense up. "He may still be the same.... and that could be the problem."
"If you can hardly stand him, why did you seek membership?"
Spike smirked. "Several reasons. No reason. It's not your business, is it?"
Tired of his caustic remarks, the Pteri gave up talking to him. "Fine. I'm taking a carriage. Come if you want."
Immediately, she walked to the door with her feathers ruffled and beak in the air. The Flotsam grumbled under his breath.
"Ms. Jay." She glared at him, daring him to say more. "I apologize if I said things.... too harshly. I thought it was good for you to know. You shouldn't trust him. Not completely."
I suppose finding someone to trust is very difficult. She entered into the light drizzle. Was it always this difficult?
Two small rows of cold metal folding chairs were clumped together in the center of the cramped room. Squished in the corner, Harry couldn't help but think of how likely it was that he had just obtained claustrophobia. Iron Skeith, who sat in one and a half chairs, and a tall, curly wig blocked his view. Ophelia had to sit leaning out from behind the large Skeith while Spike had moved to be as far away from the crowd as possible. As usual, Bennett stood wordlessly at the Korbat's side.
"League," solemnly, Alfred began, sitting in his-soon to be former-throne. As much as an unpredictable swivel chair can be a throne. He didn't consider himself nostalgic, yet he had still felt in power in it once Bennett had set it as high as it could go. Evil Tip #49: True villains are not dependent on their environment to be imposing.
"We have accomplished much this fateful Monday: A new lair, some new minions and...." Grinning, Alfred reached over to pick up his new petpet. Or try to pick up. The plumpy was too much for him to lift. "This is Hercules."
"Wow! That is one... big petpet!" As he leaned forward, the Darigan Flotsam's spikes snagged on the back of his seat, marking lines. "Honestly, I thought you'd name him Fluffy or something."
"Hardly!" Stroking his disinterested companion, the Korbat adopted an air of superiority. "I could never be one of those.... cliché villains."
"Right." Spike rolled his eyes.
"I would have preferred a bartamus or werhond." His left eye twitched and he rubbed his scratched arms. "It seemed they did not take a liking to me. With Hercules it was friendship at first sight!"
Hercules snored, unimpressed.
"Um, that's nice." Harry, the accountant Blumaroo, pushed around Iron Skeith. "Can I have my wallet back?"
"Everyone this is Barry-"
"I'm Harry! Please stop ca-"
"Technically, you're furry, not hairy," Ophelia pointed out. "Interrupting is impolite, dear."
"Mr. Chuckles, Iron Skeith and Perry the nerd-I mean-number wizard have become a part of the League Of Super Evil Radical Schemers!" Alfred announced. "And we have a brand new lair!"
"I never agreed to-" Poor Harry was not paid any attention.
Chattering, the Neopets began to grab office supplies and load them into boxes. Although Alfred had instructed them to pack up everything, he really only owned a staple and tape roller. They were a league of evil after all.
Sinking his talons into the desk to steady himself, he enjoyed the fierce feelings of satisfaction coming with the thoughts of revenge. "As soon as we're settled, we'll show Neopia what L.O.S.E.R.S can do!"
Florescent lights flickered as two Neopets gathered their belongings from the workday. Rain pattered over the muted grumble of thunder. Off in the distance, a lively band was heard.
The Camouflage Jetsam watched through a window in the hall as a cloaked figure scurried away dodging futilely around the large droplets.
"Quenton isn't a real threat. I don't believe that silly league of his will last a week." The Draik secured his cloak around him, reaching for his hat. "What do you think?"
The Jetsam paused, considering all of his spy's information. Too close to the glass, his steamy breath created a fog in the pane. Wrapping his sleeve in his flipper, he cleared it. "Bennett has experience and Iron Skeith may not seem capable, but I remember him."
"Hm." His brother's eyes flashed. "I don't understand that Grarrl whatsoever. All those clients dropped for that nutty scientist! Something else is going on behind the scenes I suppose. And Spike....?"
"He has always been a difficult boy." The Jetsam sighed. "I think he's been checking in with Karen. Otherwise she would have turned this city upside down looking for him."
"My nephew can certainly take care of himself. He's proven as much." The Draik shrugged. "Let's get some food. There's a new diner on Baker's Street."
"Yeah." Keys jangled as he dropped the entire contents of his pockets out on the floor.
"Brother," the Draik said in a rare moment of genuine gentleness. "He went through your bounty hunter training program-that thing is intense. He passed easily. I think he can handle one batty Korbat. Besides he'll get tired of it eventually."
"Yeah, I know." The Jetsam scratched his head. "I know.... but Owen, I'm his father. I can't help but worry."
Together the brothers walked into the night.
To be continued...