Robbie got punched in the face. Again. And he was getting pretty sick and tired of it. He totally forgot that he was in the Professor’s lair and that the Professor’s plan of kidnapping and extortion had failed. All he kept thinking was: Why did I become a henchman?
POW. Robbie grunted. This one snapped him back to the here and now. He could feel his nose bleeding. He was in the grip of the Damsel, the city’s hero. Her arm was around his neck.
POW. Robbie thought of himself as the thinking man’s henchman. Which, of course, was totally unsuitable for times like these. He struggled to either escape or stop the blows. Whichever he might accomplish. However, by the time he had reached his late 20s, Robbie’s physique could best be described as doughy. Thank God, his all black uniform was both slimming and provided a bit of protection.
The Damsel, tall, lean, African American, short dreads, wrapped in leather and protective gear, with a mask over her eyes, shouted at the Professor, “It’s over!” Her grip tightened around Robbie’s neck.
The Professor, bald, stooped, ageless, chuckled from across the room. “Fool. It’s never over while I have the hostages and this!” The Professor raised his hand, which held a small detonator with a big red button. “This building is laced with C4. One push and BOOM, everyone dies!” Robbie hated this part of the plan.
Standing next to the Professor was another henchman, Eric. Eric was Robbie’s cousin. About the same age. Taller. Thinnner. He kept looking at the Professor, and then at the struggling Robbie.
Obviously, tonight hadn’t gone totally to plan.
First, the kidnapping of the church group hadn’t gone smoothly. They had put up much more of a fight than had been anticipated. Robbie got kicked in the knee, while Eric had been bitten on the hand. Neither was quite sure why the Professor had chosen the group, but orders were orders.
And then, there was the Damsel. She was the city’s first resident hero. And the most determined. And toughest. She had a singular focus on her war on crime. No one had been able to stop her, and the cops totally loved her.
Robbie totally hated her.
Once the ransom demand had gone out, it was only five hours later that she came knocking. And by knocking, that would be blowing the doors off the lair using grenades.
The Damsel laughed. “The hostages? I got them out ten minutes ago. You got nothing.” Robbie tried pulling at her arm, but she was too strong, and he got nowhere. He looked at Eric, who looked back, shrugging.
The Professor snarled at the Damsel, “Burn in hell.” He pushed the button on the detonator. The building rocked.
A fireball erupted between the two pairs.
Robbie closed his eyes, and felt the hard punch of the concussion.
He opened his eyes and saw that the Professor was gone, leaving Eric looking confused.
The Damsel tossed Robbie aside, who clunked against the wall. She ran down the hallway, leaping out of the way of shooting flames. She was after the Professor.
Eric rushed to Robbie, helping him up. “Are you alright?” he asked.
Robbie’s head was beginning to throb. “Why didn’t you help me?” he said over the blasts. “You could see that I was in trouble.”
“I never got the order to help.”
Robbie looked at Eric. Eric said nothing.
“She was kicking my ass. She was beating me… We, you and me, if you had helped, we could’ve taken her.” Robbie touched his nose. He winced.
Eric was incredulous. “You and me? You seriously believe that you and me could’ve taken the Damsel. Just two henchmen?”
Robbie groaned. He was really beginning to hate being a henchman. And being around henchmen. And looking at henchmen. “We’ll talk about this later, right now, we have to get to the escape pods.” The building shook again. It was an old warehouse the Professor had converted to a lair. “This place isn’t going to last long.”
Eric didn’t move.
“What?” Robbie asked.
“I really think we should wait until the Professor gives the order. What if he needs us and we’re in the escape–“
“The place is on FIRE.” Robbie replied. As if to underline it, an explosion nearby knocked them off their feet. Eric landed on Robbie. Robbie groaned.
Eric looked at Robbie. “Right. The escape pods.”
* * *
The escape pods were in a circular room, a tiny sliding door in front of each pod. Robbie and Eric burst into the room. Robbie walked over to the two remaining pods. He started typing in his access code. The door whissshed open. Robbie turned around. He saw Eric lingering by the door. “What. Are. You. DOING?”
Eric replied, “I’m waiting for…. You know… HIM. He is our boss.”
Robbie walked over to Eric, and grabbed him by his uniform. “This is not the time to worry about company loyalty.”
Eric shook Robbie off, “I don’t know, isn’t an exploding lair the PERFECT test of loyalty? What if he comes in and finds that we left?”
Robbie pulled Eric closed, “We’re leaving, now–“
WHAM. The Professor bolted into the room, smashing into Robbie, sending him to the floor. The Professor kept on going, heading right to the open escape pod.
“It’s not going to be that easy!” They all turned. In the doorway, the Damsel. The light of the burning lair gave her a glow. The leather gleamed. She breathed heavily. Everything seemed to slow down. Robbie suddenly had a very different feeling about the Damsel.
Then, she raised her fists and the same old feeling returned.
The Professor pulled out an exotic gun. “I’d like to introduce you to my gravity gun.” He pulled the trigger. BOOM. A wave of energy blasted from the gun, the Damsel was thrown from the room. The Professor cackled and jumped into the waiting escape pod.
Eric looked at the Professor. “What about us?”
The Professor raised an eyebrow, a wave of unrecognition passed over his face. He jabbed a button on the inside. The door slid shut. Rockets ignited and the escape pod rumbled away.
Eric looked to Robbie. Robbie shook his head. “Loyalty.”
They looked at the bank of escape pods. More specifically, they looked at the last remaining escape pod. Eric turned to Robbie, “Those are only rated for one person. I’ll stay.”
The building shook. The roof was beginning to cave in.
“What? No. No, you won’t.” Robbie grabbed Eric.
Eric shook him off. “I’m a henchman. I’m supposed to sacrifice myself.”
“Oh, shut up.” Robbie shoved him into the escape pod.
Eric’s eyes became wide. “You’re, you’re gonna sacrifice–?“
Before he could finish, Robbie pushed himself into the pod, smooshing them together. Grunting, shifting. Finally, Robbie was able to get to the button. Pushing it, the two were sealed in tightly.
The rockets ignited. And that’s when Robbie and Eric started screaming.
Click HERE if you want to read I, Bad Guy part two