The Other Offer

This is a Supervillainverse story, featuring The Reptilian from The Wonders of Planet Earth and The Constellation Crusaders vs. Team Universe as well as Nessa and Diddy from A Glass of Beer and also The Wonders of Planet Earth.


bugeyes

After years of killing and hunting, I, the infamous Reptilian, had taken up on an offer to join a new intergalactic hero team. Now, I suppose you’re expecting me to say it was because I had seen the error of my ways and was looking to atone. Or you might say it was because I wanted a piece of the fame the Constellation Crusaders and Team Universe had, and I confess there is at least a grain of truth in that.

The main reason I accepted Nessa and Diddy’s offer, I suppose, was that there was safety in numbers.

Now, in my line of work, you get many disagreeable clients. I’ve done dirty work for crime bosses, mad scientists and cutthroats, but I had never been employed by an actual witch. If that wasn’t bad enough, I didn’t even finish the job she gave me. Even where I lived – an abandoned Tarrian apartment building that only I and Mum know is my home – I had to stay awake as long as I could, looking around every corner frequently. My goggles remained on my eyes, making sure that I was always analysing my surroundings.

Throughout my career, I made sure that I fully understood everything about it like the technology and weapons I used, yet magic was just something I couldn’t comprehend or understand. I had met people who had been affected by magic, and even they didn’t seem to understand what happened to them.

In a position like mine, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Anyway, I called Nessa and we arranged a meeting place where we would discuss my initiation. It was I who chose the meeting spot; a warehouse, abandoned like my home but on the other side of town. A place where I made many of my deals.

Before I left, I scanned every area of my home, inside and outside. When I covered my face with the hooded coat I wear whenever I go outside in Tarria, I made sure it hid my face, my tail and my scales as much as possible. My gun was in my pocket, and I had my claws on it at all times as I made my way towards the warehouse.

As soon as I entered the warehouse, I felt something crawling on my body.

I looked down at my arm and saw an array of bugs squirming all over it. I say “bugs” because I wasn’t sure what specific species they were. They weren’t spiders or ants or squaddos and yet they seemed to have elements of all three. Before my goggles could detect what they were, they glitched, causing my vision to be filled with static.

After I did what I told myself I wouldn’t do and took off my goggles, I was met with a familiar figure. Not the witch, but someone else I had seen before, yet I couldn’t put my finger on as to where at that moment. Another bug, a much larger one, or at least what resembled a large anthropomorphic bug. She looked like a giant insect, but I knew that’s not what she was.

Atop her head were thin antennae that reminded me of those that old models of televisions and robots used, and her fingers, which she drummed on the table where I had made many a deal, resembled enlarged spider legs. She wore a black business suit but her skin, resembling that of a salamander, was coloured an icy blue that seemed to glow in the dingy warehouse, making her look like a ghost.

Then there were her eyes. Her whirring, glowing eyes that seemed to double the number of creatures crawling over my body.

She walked towards me. Then another one of her appeared. Then another and another, all of them circling me. Though I shot at all of them, none of them fell.

All of them looked at me with wide grins, exposing teeth resembling those of humans. ‘And I had heard such good things about you,’ they all said in unison, though it sounded like one person talking. ‘That’s what I heard from your clients. A shame I had to get my hands bloody to get them to tell me your favourite haunt.’

The squirming little bugs all over me and inside me multiplied. It felt like they had replaced my blood and were crawling in my veins.

‘Okay,’ I said after taking a deep breath, ‘I know if you want me dead, I’d be dead right now…’

‘Maybe I do want you dead,’ said just one of the clones. I shot at that clone, but no effect again. ‘Maybe I just want to play with you first, have a couple of laughs. Don’t superheroes and supervillains these days crack a few jokes before a fight?’

‘If that’s…’ I took another deep breath before saying, ‘Just tell me what you want before…before I get out the spray.’

She chuckled, before reforming into a single being. ‘See, you get it.’ Her eyes stopped glowing and the little bugs stopped crawling. In fact, they vanished altogether. ‘You don’t remember me?’

I didn’t answer.

‘We at one point had the same boss. I’m sure you remember Attra Schlera?’

As soon as she said that name, I instantly remembered where I saw her last. Attra Schlera, one of the most feared crime bosses in the galaxy, one of my many clients. Yes, I’ve done work for a crime boss, but it was another criminal I was sent to kill.

The woman that stood before me was Attra’s bodyguard. ‘Bug-Eyes’, as I remembered Attra calling her, and it wasn’t hard to see why.

It was then I realised what her eyes were doing to me: not only did they interfere with my goggles, they induced hallucinations through hypnosis. I made sure to tell Bug-Eyes this, and she replied, ‘Very good, you’re as clever as they say.’

I smirked. ‘I can’t help but notice the hallucinations are either you or the creatures you look like. A bit narcissistic.’

She laughed. ‘Why not be narcissistic? I have every reason to be proud of who I am, and let’s face it, sometimes it pays to be selfish.’ She tapped her eyes. ‘It was selfishness that got me these, you know. Selfishness is why I’m here.

‘You see, I’ve had an epiphany. I’ve realised my talents have been wasted. The thought was in the back of my mind almost all my life, but it’s only recently come out. Being Attra’s bodyguard did mean pummelling people who deserved it, but all for the sake of that sleazy little toad. Before that, in my teenage years, I was the champion of Ferar’s Fights, fighting whoever paid to face me in exchange for Ferar giving me food and shelter when no-one would.’ She then explained how she got her eyes – one of her opponents played dirty and blinded her with Solslug slime. ‘Ferar got me these, but it was more so he wouldn’t lose his meal ticket than for my sake, and I certainly hope you don’t think Attra cared for me an iota.

‘They say you’re an admirer of Planet Earth. I am as well; not only have I been thoroughly researching what most people say I resemble, but I’ve heard so many stories about supervillains, and when I heard about, say, that mutant cat scientist and her robot butler robbing a museum, I closed my eyes and imagined myself in their place.

‘The final push I needed was when that damnable Team Universe came calling.’ I remembered my research; defeating the evil wizard was Team Universe’s first great victory, but it was helping to put away Attra Schlera that put them on the map. ‘They put up more of a fight than I thought they would, but it was so cathartic getting to punch actual heroes in the face. I didn’t stop them from having Attra arrested, but then again, after it happened, I’m glad they did what they dd.’ She said that last bit with a wide grin, again showing off her human-like teeth.

‘I thought I’d try a bit of supervillainy. A bank robbery here, a jewellery store break-in there, just for  bit of fun. They were easy to pull off too, what with my fists and my eyes. For one job, I got a couple of two-bit criminals to assist me, acting as look-out and helping me carry the wares, and they helped my word spread. Soon, not only was I getting the riches and infamy I deserved, but other criminals from all over the galaxy came to me, wanting to join me.

‘And I thought: a gang of my own? That’s not a bad idea.’

‘And you want me to join you?’

‘Of course! I’ve been looking for every bounty hunter Attra hired, but your talents were wasted doing his dirty work.’

‘And they won’t be doing yours?’ I replied, my hands on my hips.

‘Of course not! I’ll give you some real assignments! I’ve heard it said you only kill those that you think are “bad”, where’s the fun in that? I’ll give you work you’ll actually enjoy! Besides,’ she continued in a darker tone, her smile fading, ‘you’ve seen what I can do. You don’t want someone like me against you, do you?’

‘Well…’

‘Answer!’ she snapped as she sprung forward, tightly gripping my neck. ‘Yes or no?’

Before I could answer, before I could grab my gun, the sound of another gun being fired rang through the warehouse, making Bug-Eyes loosen her grip.

Nessa and Diddy stood in the doorway, both of them wielding their weapons.

‘Alright, Bug-Eyes,’ said Diddy, ‘drop him and come out with your hands up, before we get the spr…’

‘He made that joke!’ growled Bug-Eyes, letting go of me. She turned towards Diddy and Nessa, her eyes glowing again. Diddy dropped his gun, scratching his arms and hopping around on the spot, while Nessa kept her weapon level, cringing as she did so.

Bug-Eyes leapt towards Diddy, decking him in the chin, knocking him to the ground.

‘We can hel…’ Nessa began before Bug-Eyes snarled at her.

‘That’s not going to work!’

‘But…’ said Nessa, ‘I know why you’re doing this. You feel alone…’

‘Like Glack I do!’ barked Bug-Eyes, ‘I’ve got criminals lining up to join me! I’ll show that blowhard how it’s done!’

Seeing my chance, I finally raised my gun and aimed at Bug-Eyes’ head, only for her to turn around and kick me in the stomach, claiming my gun for herself.

‘You had your chance,’ she sneered, raising the gun to my head, her other hand tightening around my throat. Again she stared at me with her glowing eyes, and again I felt bugs of all shapes and sizes crawling all over me.

‘Get off him!’ snarled Diddy, grabbing Bug-Eyes’ arm which took the gun away from my head, ‘We kinda need him.’ Her eyes glowed again, this time looking in his direction, and again he squirmed and shuddered.

Then along came Nessa, picking up a chair and throwing it at Bug-Eyes’ head before I knocked her over backwards by kicking her in the stomach. I reclaimed my gun, but before I could use it, I noticed she had vanished. I put my goggles back on, as they were working again, but couldn’t pick up any sign of her.

Nessa explained that was another hypnotic property of the eyes; to induce brief memory loss to make it look like Bug-Eyes had vanished when she wanted to make a quick getaway. ‘She probably wants us alive as she thinks we’re too amusing to fight,’ Nessa continued before holding out her hand to me, ‘but you did fine in the fight. We’d be happy to have you on our team.’

‘In fact,’ added Diddy, ‘your first job as our latest member is to help us capture Bug-Eyes.’

So off I went with them, agreeing to assist them in apprehending Bug-Eyes, but silently wondering what if I had taken up her offer.

EPILOGUE

‘Aren’t you going to thank me for saving your life?’ asked the pale witch.

Bug-Eyes looked around her surroundings. A castle, completely devoid of colour, with even the flames of the torches being a ghostly grey. Cold air dominated the room, making Bug-Eyes involuntarily shudder. She turned her attention back to the witch, activating her eyes’ powers again.

‘That doesn’t work on me,’ laughed the witch.

‘Why did you send me here? I had them!’

‘I’ll let you come back there soon enough,’ said the witch, ‘I have…’

‘If you’re asking me to join your army, forget it! I’m building one of my own.’

‘It’s more of a suggestion. I know how you like your work to be fun,’ said the witch, handing Bug-Eyes a piece of parchment, ‘and I know just the victim for you. You may even pick up a few more henchmen while you’re at it.’

Bug-Eyes looked over the parchment and grinned.


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