By Justin J.
Chapter 0 – Meet the Ringmaster
He generally had a no-kill policy, stemming from the day he unleashed a dragon on his high school. As broken as his psyche was, as angry as he had been, he had felt sick afterwards. He wanted to be feared, respected in a dark, dark way, yes, but killing?
He had no right to take the lives of anybody, no matter how terrible they were. "They had it coming," was a poor, empty excuse. In the months that followed his escape from his home, his birth place, he just wandered, using his gifts to survive.
And then he met her. She wasn't like her, not like Amy. He felt no attraction to her, but he did feel drawn her to. She was important to his destiny in some way.
So when he found her, locked up, naked, beaten, nearly broken after who-knew-how-many weeks of constant gang-rape, he temporarily revoked his no-kill policy. slaughtering every one of the men he encountered.
All 30 of them died painfully, but quickly. And then he set the building ablaze after getting the poor girl out of there. And then he offered her a new life, as his companion. He explained what he was going to do, what he was after.
The girl, a pretty thing perhaps a year or so younger than him, looked at him for a long five minutes. Her hazel eyes boring into his own dark eyes as she chewed her lower lip.
Then she nodded. "I'm Athenia."
He nodded. "The person I was before died months ago," he said. "Call me Ringmaster. I can give you power, Athenia. Power and respect. All I ask in return is loyalty."
Athenia smiled. It was a broken smile. "Then I will call you Master."
Ringmaster smiled and put a hand on her head, calling on his powers to change his first ally. He wouldn't turn her into a puppet, the way he had done to others that he needed to use and discard. His powers were growing every day.
"Arise," he said, "my...Aurora."
Two years and three months later
It was, surprisingly, a well-light hallway. Considering it was the headquarters for the Supervillain Council of North America, one would think it would be a dark, eerie place. The one thinking that would be wrong.
After all, it was easier to watch your back in a well-lit hallway. You tended to live longer that way, especially on this council. Heavy footsteps echoed in the empty hallway, and a grey cape trailed behind the man as he and his only living (for the moment, he fully planned on getting more) minion walked at his side (never behind, as she had wanted before. He might have been her Master, but he respected her as a friend), heading for the main chamber.
It had been a long two years of training and...acquiring the means to create more puppet minions (not, as most would assume, through theft), as well as creating a whole new identity for himself. It wasn't as hard as it sounded, not for somebody with his powers.
As the huge, secure double doors loomed in front of them, the woman reached forward and put a hand on the metal.
"This is it," she said in a soft voice, pale blue hair flowing down to her waist, "the start of it all."
He nodded, dark eyes gazing at the door intently as it slowly started to open. "Yes. Think we'll make a name for ourselves?"
The woman smirked, silver eyes locking with his. "Of course. You've worked too hard towards this."
The doors opened fully, revealing a chamber with a large, circular table with an opening facing the door. Around this table sat several people, all of them superhumans like him.
And all of them evil villains of some sort. Most were men, except for one woman that, Richard noticed, was stunningly beautiful, with long raven-black hair and icy blue eyes, wearing a blue dress that might as well have been painted on.
She also looked incredibly bored. Next to her was a man that, for all intents and purposes, seemed to radiate evil. Dressed all in black, with a patch over his right eye, and a scar running from his right temple all the way down to the base of his neck, he had light brown hair and wore a black trench coat over an equally black shirt, he was leaning back and just staring at them both.
It rather creeped the man out. His lieutenant, on the other hand...
"What do you think you're staring at?" she said, her voice soft but penetrating in the complete silence of the room. "Don't be rude or I will have to punish you."
The man snorted and pulled out a magazine (one to do with guns, they noticed), ignoring them both. Near the end of the table sat a man in, of all things, a military uniform. Granted, it was frayed at the edges, but it was the uniform of a General. The man wearing it was more like a wall than a person, with bulging muscles and a dark, ominous face.
And at the head of the table sat a man, leaning back and just staring at them both, hands folded over his chest. He had short black hair and green eyes, and looked...amiable and laid back in his blue shirt and jeans outfit.
"Welcome," he said. "You're right on time."
He hit a button on the keyboard in front of him, and a holographic projection of the two appeared in front of him. "Rising Supervillain code-named Ringmaster, and his lieutenant, Aurora, right?"
"Bah, this boy can't possibly join us. He's probably a weakling," the General sneered as he spoke. "Good taste in women though. Hey, girl, why not join a real man and leave this one in the dust?"
Aurora fixed the General with a piercing look. "I despise men," she said. "Ringmaster is the only one I won't outright murder for looking at me. Insult him again and I will rip out your tongue and feed it to you."
"She's quite serious," Ringmaster said with a smirk. "She's done it before. I prefer not to kill myself, but Aurora? She's dangerous."
The General sneered and turned his attention to the bored looking woman, clearly ogling her. The woman seemed content to outright ignore him as she addressed Ringmaster and Aurora. "You don't like to kill? Why?"
"Personal reasons," Ringmaster replied, waving his hand in a dismissive manner. "I might revoke that rule if I find out a man is a rapist, then he has no right to live."
The woman raised an elegant eyebrow. Everything about her screamed regal and royalty. "Are you sure you're a supervillain?"
Ringmaster just smiled. "Oh, trust me, I am."
"Wonderful. I'm Onyx."
"Pleasure to meet you, Onyx," Ringmaster nodded. "You aren't a Queen Bitch are you?"
Onyx just smiled. "Oh, I can be. Then again, I'm a supervillain. It comes with the job. Why do you ask?"
"The last Queen Bitch I knew, I threw across a room."
"Try that with me and I'll have to kill you, Ringmaster."
"You'd have to get through Aurora first, you know. And she's not easily bypassed." Richard gestured to his side...where Aurora had been a few seconds ago. Moments later, a dagger was pressed against Onyx's throat, and Aurora whispered into her ear.
"If you want to continue existing, kindly refrain from threatening my master. I'm quite protective of him."
The evil man in black looked up from his magazine and snorted. "Time manipulator."
"Oh? You saw through it already?" Aurora seemed put out by that. "Smart one, aren't you?"
The man grunted and went back to his magazine as Aurora sauntered back to her master. Onyx watched her walk, thoughtful. That girl pulls off the catsuit look very well. Good selection of daggers too.
"What are your powers, Ringmaster?" she asked. "Even Jericho over here didn't want to say."
Jericho, huh? He must be their leader, Ringmaster thought. "This."
He reached into his jacket and into a hidden pocket, opening it up and pulling out a tabletop game piece. It was a generic goblin. With a thought, Ringmaster brought the piece to life. It grew to four feet in height and stood there, actually breathing and drooling as it waved the club in its hand.
"I can do this to people too," Ringmaster said. "Aurora here is my first and so far only 'human' puppet. I gave her the time manipulation powers."
The evil man was staring at them again. "I see. You can bring those pieces to life, and what...give them powers if you want?"
Ringmaster nodded, waving a hand and reverting the goblin back to its plastic state before picking it up. "I cannot, of course, tell you much more."
"So why 'Ringmaster'?" Jericho asked, eyebrow raised. "Puppetmaster would be better."
"And cliché," Ringmaster shrugged. "This name will throw heroes off."
"Clever," Onyx said, chuckling. "You're a geek, aren't you?"
"Oh yes," Ringmaster smiled. "Very much so."
Jericho cleared his throat. "Well," he said, "welcome to our world, Ringmaster, Aurora. Your addition to the council will be decided in six months. Until that time, you'll be watched and judged. Not killing is fine, but remember that heroes won't trust you. They'll always assume it's a trap."
Ringmaster grinned. "As they should."
Author's notes: The second part of Ringmaster's story starts...now.