Evil Minions Inc.
A subsidiary of Superhero Sidekicks LTD.
The castle loomed over the darkened land, its basalt battlements adding to the perpetual gloom that blighted the entire countryside. The landscape swarmed with armies tearing down tents, readying for the slowly creeping dawn and the battle that loomed on the horizon. The sounds were a distant cacophony from within the dark castle, filling all within the stone walls a sense of imperative, driving even those uninvolved into a frenzy.
The dawn of battle was upon them.
"Where the hell are they, Yul!"
The small hunchback ambled around the room faster, prompted by the screams of his master.
A very tall, very muscular, very powerful, very irate, and very prone to spitting when angry master. He was clad in blood red armor and looking quite intimidating but for one thing.
"I can't fight a damn war if I don't have my gods-accursed BOOTS, Yul!"
Yul was in the process of tearing the room apart, for the second time. He cringed at the epithets tossed by his master, since he couldn't dodge those like he could dodge everything else thrown his way. Really, how did the Warlord think throwing books at his minion would be helpful? The flying pages certainly wouldn't produce the boots themselves, and dodging the stupid things wasted precious seconds Yul could be spending actually doing his job.
In the other room, a school of piranhas swam in the bath tub. That was hardly an inconvenience, when compared to the greater inconvenience of the slick mud tracked through the room left over from dredging the aquarium the piranhas had been in an hour ago. Yul's legs were still covered in the muck, but he hadn't found the boots under it all despite the Warlord's insistence he should look everywhere. For some stupid reason, everywhere included that muck.
"Did you check in the bathtub?"
"Damn you, you useless thing," the Warlord screamed as he threw a heavy paperweight. "Check again or I'll kill you where you stand!"
Oh no, not the piranhas again! Yul quailed, really not wanting to deal with them again so soon. By some miracle he'd escaped with all his fingers, and he wanted to have a chance to appreciate this blessed state of possessing a full set of digits before risking life and limb, especially limb, again.
"NOW, you putrid pile of worthless rot! And while you're in there, bathe! You smell like fish puke!"
Yul hesitated still. Those weren't just any piranhas, after all. They'd been genetically enhanced, and were famous across multiple worlds for how many dignitaries and diplomats they'd dined upon.
The Warlord wasn't in the mood to put up with any more delays though. "I said now, worm!" He strode over toward Yul, ready to deal some direct damage to the minion's twisted frame.
It would probably have been an impressive beating, too. Yul was already weighing his chances of survival between the fish and his master. Which would hurt more? Which would take longer? It was a close call. Before he could decide though, the Warlord took one step forward and slipped in a patch of mud.
The floors of the castle were ancient and worn and made of cold, hard stone. It had seemed like the perfect ominous headquarters for a world-conquering army at the time. Yul had long since pulled up the rich and cushy rugs that normally were scattered across the room in the ridiculous search for the boots, so the Warlord was wearing slippers to keep his feet warm. Pink bunny slippers. Everything more practical had been packed away in preparation for the long campaign ahead, of course.
And pink bunny slippers don't have very good traction.
The Warlord fell on his ass and skidded across the room, thanks to the quantities of muck Yul had been forced to track through the room. He slid into a book case. The very one he'd been grabbing books from to throw at Yul earlier. He'd been near that bookshelf, of course, because he'd grown impatient with how short Yul was, and had grown tired of watching the small minion try to climb it in his search. So tired, in fact, that the Warlord had said he'd look on the top shelf himself.
And that, of course, is where the blood red armored steel boots dropped from, when the Warlord crashed into the book case.
"You're making this shit up," Annie sneered over the lunch tray as they sat down at the cafeteria table.
"I swear to any god listening, it's the truth," Yul said. He took a bite out of the apple from his tray, shaking his head a little as he paused to eat. Now that he wasn't on that particular assignment, he was a rather nondescript man, average height, smallish brown eyes, shaggy hair, and a little on the scrawny side. Every assignment was different, and different clients expected different physical attributes from a head minion. That was Yul's greatest selling point in this business. He was...adaptable.
"He's right," a passing god from some fantasy world said. "I'd strike him down for that if he were lying, Annie."
"Yeah, thanks." She rolled her eyes, and the god kissed her on the cheek and walked away.
"You know that guy?"
"Yep. He hired me a few years ago, but said he liked my job better. Name's Darieyae. He's a god of dust or something stupid like that.”
"A god of dust?" Yul gave Annie a funny look. “What would he do to smite me? Make me sneeze?”
“I don’t know,” she said, rolling her eyes. “Anyway. He was trying to get to be the god of something better by overthrowing the pantheon."
"No, he just gave up. Like I said, we got talking and he decided over a bottle of mead that he liked my job better."
Yul stared at her. "They can DO that?"
"It happens." Annie shrugged, and what a shrug it was. Yul's eyes slid from the motion of her shoulder to the curves not too far down from there, like a natural progression of sorts. It wasn't hard to do, especially with the low cut dresses and shirts she tended to wear. "Actually, *that* happens a lot, before they decide to follow me back here."
Yul's eyes immediately snapped back upward as her words finally got through. "Oh. Sorry."
"It's okay. At least you didn't drool this time."
His face darkened while he scrambled mentally for a change of subject. Something. Anything. Please. Save me! "So, what's your latest assignment like?"
Oh shit. Wait. Oh no! It was too late to take the question back.
"Classified," she said. Then she went ahead and twisted the knife he realized was already stabbing through him. "You already asked me that."
Yep. Painfully obvious, except to the painfully oblivious. Like Yul.
"Right. Yeah. I guess my clever awkwardness didn't trip you up. I'll have to find a new tactic."
"If your eyes got any shiftier, I'd think you were at a tennis match."
"Er. Right." Damn it, where was that change of subject?
"If you can keep your eyes on my face for a minute?" Annie smirked. "Tell me what happened to that genius you were working for. The one with the pink bunny slippers?"
"Concussion," Yul said with a self-depreciating shrug. "His helmet had flown off when he fell on his ass and skidded across the room, and those damned boots landed right on his head. I'm on probation pending an inquiry from the magical verification staff. He might sue the company."
"Oh, snap. Wow. Yikes." Annie reached across the table and patted Yul on the arm. "These things always happen to you, don't they? Like that galactic emperor with that doomsday device he kept hidden in his other dimensional rift. The one that didn’t actually work in this dimension? Or the green furry guy who tried to steal all those boxes out of spite, and tried to sue us for helping him after he had that change of heart?"
"Yeah.” Yul slumped into his hard plastic chair, staring at his cafeteria food with a newfound disinterest. “I'm a magnet for these kinds of things."
One thing bugged Yul about saying that. He realized he said those words so often they should be emblazoned on his family crest. The worst part, however, was that every time he did, he'd look back on the last time he said it and think to himself, "If I’d only known then what I know now...."
"And the shit always gets weirder."