How NOT to Save the World (S2, E1)

They’re back! You can re-read Season 1 on my website.

You may recall that last year our Evil Overlord had a different name/gender on the website and newsletter. This year we’re flipping them. So Newsletter Season 2 has Ameohne’e/she and Website Season 2 will have Ma’evoto/he. I’d say sorry for any confusion but…

T-minus 1 year 92 days

Ma’evoto leaned back in his chair and finished off his beer. “Nine months. We made it nine fucking months.”

Around him were the few members of the revolution’s unofficial leadership who had actual government roles. Wu and Deborah, of course, but also Major Shin, Gene, and a few others.

When Ma’evoto’ss daughter, Ho’neheso, had suggested a party for the first anniversary of her father’s rule, everyone in the room had cringed. There was no way the holdouts (Ma’evoto refused to dignify them with the term ‘rebels’) wouldn’t use the anniversary as a chance to try to cause trouble. But a party had still sounded like a good idea.

So, they bumped the date up a few months.

“So we did,” Wu saluted him. “You have exceeded everything your servant dared to hope for. Your rule is secure. Cheung is committed to you and the Space Force with them. Tessaro makes good progress on our defenses. And…” zi held up a hand to get everyone’s attention. “… attacks by the holdouts have dropped off by 50% in the last two months. Your servant believes they are finally wearing themselves out.”

That was met by a general cheer.

“Oh, hush!” Deborah grumped. “No business tonight. The next person to bring up official government business doesn’t get any cheese blintzes.”

Gene gasped. “Cruel and unusual punishment! That’s against the law.”

“Is it?” Ma’evoto smirked. “I might need to change that.”

“Oooh!” Gene wagged a finger at him. “Don’t say that where the camera drones might catch you!”

Ma’evoto stood up and struck a pose. “I must! My approval numbers are over 50%. If I don’t do something properly evil soon, I’ll lose my membership in the evil overlord club and need to take down my Evil Overlord list.”

Shin, off duty (official and unofficial) for once, was in the corner with Ho’neheso talking fandom. For security reasons, neither of them took part in any fan sites or discussion groups, but they lurked endlessly and had their own private shipping wars. Looking up from the art Ho’neheso was showing them, Shin said mildly, “Wu, your master is developing delusions of grandeur.”

“Bit late for that!” Wu snorted.

“Um…” Aliz, who replaced a fled bureaucrat in budgeting, put a hand up. “It’s none of my business, but I’ve always been curious. What’s with the ‘this one’ and ‘your servant’ stuff? You two have been together as long as the rest of us have known you. But you don’t tend to share much.”

Ma’evoto and Wu looked at each other and smiled. “It’s your’s to tell Wu. If you want to.

“You would tell it better anyway.”

Wu snorted. “That is surely true!” The dragon rubbed at the golden scales on hir cheek a moment. “So. It began nearly 15 years ago. This one had traveled to North America and found a very energetic kink community…”

***

They met in darkness and secrecy. Slipping in one at a time, cowls, veils, and cloaks pulled close so none could see them.

“This cannot be allowed to stand!” One said. Ey was only partly concealed, eir confrontational nature (announced to all the world by their power suit covered with bold geometric patterns) not letting them hide. “It’s been over 9 months since that bastard ousted us and we have achieved nothing.”

“Calmly, Ayyub,” another replied. They were veiled and wore a generic cheap lounge suit will flowing skirt. But the old-style pocket PDA they checked as they spoke was worth more than many houses and their accent spoke of generations of wealth and education. “None of us is taking this ‘Ma’evoto’ quietly, or we wouldn’t be here. But some things take time.”

“Hugh is right,” said a man whose face was obscured not but cloth, but magic. He carried a staff that shone softly in the dim room and smiled gently at his colleagues. “Evil doers can do harm faster than we can heal it, but they always are undone by their own evil in the end.”

“I have the latest reports from our cell leaders,” said a quiet woman. She moved around the room handing out old-fashioned paper folders to each member of the council. “My own assessment is that our initial operations allowed us to winnow out the ineffective or uncommitted while convincing… him… that we can’t mount a real challenge.”

Another member of the council took his copies with a smile. “Very good, Thierry!” He was the first to sit down, shaking out his business skirt first to be sure it fell right and began skimming through the file. “You always come through.”

“Yes, well done,” murmured a short woman who was fully covered in a heavy cloak and veil. “Let’s see what we have then. The sooner we can get rid of the interloper, the sooner things will return to normal. I have a farm to get back to.”

“Thank you, Hina, Rosa.” The quiet woman, Theirry, was the last to sit down. She stayed on the edge of her seat, ready to get up in a moment if anyone needed anything.

No one said anything for a time as they read through the files.

After a few minutes, Hina sighed. “I don’t like how many of our people have been captured or killed. I know the cell system is necessary, but there has to be some way we can give them more support.”

“Not without more risk than we can afford,” Ayyub replied. “We need to stay compartmentalized.”

Fingers tapped the table in a gentle pattern as Hugh leaned back and crossed his legs. “I wonder how he did it? You know he didn’t have a standard cell set up.”

The mage scowled. “He combined magic with technology. Abomination, but it allowed him secure communication that we didn’t even know how to look for. Now that I know it is there, I am tracing their network.”

“Why can’t you do the same, Fernão?” Ayyub demanded.

“It is an abomination! We cannot defeat evil by becoming it.”

“Excuse me?” Thierry raised her hand. “I’m sorry to correct you, Hugh, but I think the proper word is ‘does.’ How he does it.

“If I’m reading the reports right, he’s still running her underground cells; those cells are hurting us more than any official security teams.”

“We won’t beat him by challenging his strength,” Rosa said. “We need to attack where he is weak.”

“Sun Tzu,” Hugh commented, “Ancient Chinese sage. Not particularly original.”

Rosa glared at him. “It works.”

“Agreed,” Fernão said, “But where is he weak?”

“He thinks he has the high ground.”

***

I’m not going to try to footnote tropes the way I did last year. But I will be listing a few tropes that went into each post at the end — see if you can recognize them, and feel free to comment with other’s you recognize.

Recap

The Omniscient Council of Vagueness

Benevolent Mage Ruler

Lady in Waiting

Cinncinatus

Gentleman and a Scholar

Benevolent Boss

Geo Effects

Shout Out