“At last,” cried the villain, wiping away the blood that streaked their mouth. “At last, I will control the city. Their greatest protector, finally defeated, by the likes of me!”
Huddled beneath the villain’s feet, crumpled and winded, lay the hero. “You won’t get away with this,” they sputtered, chest heaving as they began to rise to their feet. The villain hastily urged them back down with a swing of their boot, and the hero rolled to the side.
“Give it up already. I won. You lost. How does it feel to finally lose for once in your life?” The villain paced around the hero, looking down with a menacing smile. “Must feel awful. Maybe you can walk a mile in my shoes,” they mused, crouching down to the height of the wounded hero.
“Don’t try to make me pity you,” spat the hero.
“I’m not. I’m just imploring you to think about other people than yourself for one moment.” Reaching into their pocket, the villain pulled out an electrical cord, and began to wrap the hero’s hands as they struggled. “By the way, where’s your sidekick?”
“Excuse me?” The hero demanded, blue eyes wiry and confused.
“Your sidekick,” the villain repeated. “You know, the little cupcake who’s been with you since day one. I don’t remember her name. Little, dresses in pink. What’s her superpower? I’ve forgotten. But she’s always been on the scene, now, where’s she gone to?” The villain looked around, half-expecting the sidekick to appear just in time to save their defeated partner.
The hero furrowed their brows, confused, before perking up with realization. “Right. Lucy. I wouldn’t call her my sidekick, exactly--”
“You wouldn’t-- she’s like your shadow, are you joking? Really strange that she hasn’t come for you yet,” The villain wiped their forehead and resumed garroting the hero.
“... About that,” the hero grated their teeth, eyes darting around the dim room. The villain paused, an eyebrow cocked. “I may have left her behind. In one of your weird puzzle rooms.”
Dumbfounded, the villain dropped the electrical cord and stared. “You left your sidekick behind?”
The hero nodded.
“You just… left her?’
“I don’t need another person to defeat a villain. I’m strong enough on my own.”
“Obviously, you do! Look at yourself!” The villain rose to their feet, fuming. “What a despicable man you are! Leaving your goddamn sidekick behind to die? What’s your problem? You’re worse than I am! All I do is screw with the electrical grid and cause county-wide blackouts, I don’t leave sweet little sidekicks to die in an escape room!” boomed the villain, raving as they stomped towards the door. “I’m giving you one second to go and rescue her, and then we can get back to this.”
“Why would I do that? Look, can we just get this over and done with so I can break out of your dumb jail cell and get out of this bloody dumb lair? She’ll be fine on her own,” the hero protested.
The villain scoffed and shook their head, continuing to the door.
“Where are you going?” the hero demanded, rising shakily to their feet.
“I’m going to go rescue Lucy myself, because you’re obviously a useless, self-centered bag of bones.” The villain spun around, and snapped their fingers. A sizzling sound rippled through the room, and the lights flickered on, filling the room with a glow. “Go on. Get out of here.”
The hero looked around, confused. “Where?”
“Out that-- ugh, you idiot!” With another snap of their fingers and another buzzing current of electricity, a balcony door flew open. The lights of the city had been reignited once again, and the hero stared down in surprise.
“I thought you caused a blackout.”
“Just turned the lights back on,” the villain shrugged. “All good now. Go on. Shoo. Get lost, idiot.”
The loose electrical cord slipped from the hero’s wrists as they shrunk out the door, a baffled expression on their face. Climbing onto the balcony, they spread their arms, and disappeared into the night.
Another snap of the fingers, and the door to the villain’s lair flew open. They sighed, wiped the last bit of blood from their face, and began to descend down the long flight of stairs.
Shivering, lacerated, and entangled in miles of electrical wire was the sidekick, just barely dangling above the criss-cross of lasers on the floor. Her chest heaved, and she swung helplessly, calling the hero’s name as she moved closer and closer to the stinging heat of the lasers.
At last, she heard the footsteps, and smiled. The hero had come for her! She knew that villain was no match for her super duper strong partner. “I knew you could do it! I always knew you c-”
As the door flung open, the hero did not stand there, rather, the villain who Lucy had gone to defeat. Now wearing a pair of thickly rimmed glasses and an oversized zip-up sweatshirt over their spandex uniform, a complicated remote tucked in their hand. “Stay very still.”
The villain watched, deadpan, and nudged their glasses up the bridge of their nose. “I said to stay still,” they repeated. “Not wake up everyone in New Melbourne.”
“What have you done with the hero? Why are you here? Get away from me, you monster?” she cried.
The villain sunk against the door and fiddled with the remote as Lucy shot out more and more imploring questions, despite the visible exhaustion and pain etched on her face. She swung back and forth with violent intent, attempting to swing a punch or a kick at the villain the closer she swayed.
Tossing the remote on the floor with a sigh, the villain rubbed their temples and snapped their fingers. The lasers disappeared, and Lucy looked up at the villain, wide-eyed. “What are you going to do with me?”
They strolled to the door and pressed a button on the keypad beside the handle. The ropes uncoiled and Lucy toppled to the carpeted floor. She grabbed her stomach, wheezing, and rolled to the side. Her breaths were shallow and quick as the villain approached, hands behind their back.
“What are you going to do to me?” she forced out, her voice a whisper as she stayed glued to the floor, her eyes afraid and her lips trembling as they took a seat beside her.
“I’m not going to do anything to you,” the villain said, tugging their hoodie around them. “Goodness, spandex makes you so goddamn sweaty. Really need to get a better uniform for the December heat, eh? Alright.” Resigned, the villain sagged and pushed their hair out of their face. “Let me get you fixed up.”
“I want to leave. Where’s Cryotrap? He’ll take me.”
“He left,” the villain said. “He told me you’d be fine on your own.”
Lucy blinked and laughed, eyes full of confusion as she began to study her wounds. “No, he wouldn’t do that. Not to me. What did you do to him?” she demanded, looking back at the villain with burning frustration.
“I’m telling the truth. Why don’t you hear it for yourself?” The villain rolled up their sleeve, revealing their mechanically-decked armpiece, and pressed one of the many buttons. Muffled voices echoed through the small speaker, and the villain shifted through the recording.
“I don’t need another person to defeat a villain,” the replay muttered. A jumble of words. “She’ll be fine on her own.”
“I don’t need another person to defeat a villain,” the chalky audio repeated. Lucy shifted uncomfortably, her bottom lip shaking. “She’ll be fine on her own.”
“Let me go home, please,” she asked, leaning against the wall as she rose to her feet.
The villain shook their head. “Can I fix you up first, please? I don’t want you walking home in such a state. I have everything right here,” they said, digging in their pockets and brandishing a handheld first aid kit. “Ya see? Here. Let me fix you up and you never need to come here again. Alright?”
Lucy rubbed her eyes and took a deep breath. “Alright. Fine.”
The villain held out their hand, and she reluctantly took it. They led her out of the narrow room and carefully up the stairs. Lucy groaned with every step, and when they arrived at the third floor, she immediately collapsed onto the villain’s dirtied green couch.
With the bandages and ointment in hand, the villain shuffled to her side and began to tend to her wounds, dabbing the alcohol-kissed pad on her bruises and cuts and wrapping her lacerated arms in bandages. “Are you alright?”
Lucy shrugged her arms, a sagging frown on her face and her eyes faraway. “Thank you. I didn’t know villains could be nice.”
“This isn’t being nice, this is human decency,” the villain muttered. “I’m not evil. The most evil thing I do is fight heroes and cause city-wide blackouts. And that’s not too awful or murderous, I don’t think. I’m not bloodthirsty.”
“Sparkplug,” Lucy muttered. “Right?”
“Yup,” they replied, sitting up and leaning against the couch. “I can manipulate electricity, or whatever. I like building stuff sometimes. I just like stealing the city’s energy and Cryotrap hates that stuff. I’m not as bad as Dagger, or Andromeda, but bad enough for people like him to come after me. You know? You could say I’m a passive villain.” Sparkplug shifted and stared at their calloused hands, then back at Lucy. “What’s your power? It’s funny. I have no clue.”
Lucy straightened her back and folded her bandaged hands. “I can heal people. Not myself, as you could guess, but… it comes in handy sometimes. He always says he doesn’t need it, but whenever he gets kicked down it’s always me fixing him up. And I guess I just needed to hear it.” Tears pricked the poor girl’s eyes, and she stared at her feet. “I don’t think he appreciates me at all. No matter how hard I try or how much I train.”
“Healing is powerful in many ways, and it deserves to be appreciated,” Sparkplug commented, shooting an admiring look at Lucy. “You’re strong, and with enough patience and training you could be the next best hero in the city.”
The two sat in silence for a minute, sharing a long look before Lucy got to her feet.
“I should go now. Thank you for helping me.”
Sparkplug rolled onto the couch and nodded, holding their hands behind their head.
Lucy paused as she stood on the threshold, and turned back around.
“Tell me. How do I become a villain instead?”
The villain thought about it for a moment. Meanwhile, the hero was far gone, the sidekick being the last thing on his mind as he soared above the city. The villain smiled warmly, and extended a hand to the sidekick.
“Why don’t you come find out?”