How NOT to Save the World (S1 E5)

Season Content Notes (incomplete): violence, anti-nonhuman bigotry, consensual violence

The triumphant heroes took their bows, and the screen faded to black. Wu shook zir head. “That was…”

“Classic.” Tracey spoke quietly, trying not to wake the child curled up in her lap.

“Not the word I was looking for. And I’m not sure how it got on your ‘Evil Overlord’ list. That trash compactor was never intended as a death trap.”

“Come on, the explosions? The laser beams you could see? The aerodynamic starships? You don’t see vids like this anymore.”

“For which blessing, I will make a large donation to the next artistic fundraiser that hits you up for money.”

“Ha.”

Tracey shifted, preparing to stand.

“Would you like me to take them to bed?”

Tracey shook her head and pushed herself up out of the person-eating couch. Ho’neheso stirred, opening their eyes to look at her a moment before snuggling back into her arms. “You’ve stood in for me too often the last few years. I’m grateful, but Ho’neheso needs me to step up and be their father again.”

Wu followed her as she carried Ho’neheso carefully to their new—and well protected—bedroom. “You never asked them to change their name.”

“No.” Tracey laid her child on their bed and pulled the covers up. “They lost so much already. As long as I could keep them hidden…”

“And what of you? You no longer need to hide who you are.” They started back down the hallway towards Tracey’s rooms. “Taking an Anglo name made sense when you wanted to move unnoticed in North America. Even with the tribes reclaiming so much of their land, Anglo is still the ‘norm’ north of Mexico.”

Tracey grunted. Wu only stated the obvious when zi was building towards something big.

“You will be remaking the world in a new image. As you once remade yourself. But is Tracey Frederickson the person who should be remaking the world? Or Ameohne’e?”

“Does it matter? I’m me, whatever I call myself.”

Wu shook zir head. “Deborah has some interesting things to say on the importance and meaning of names. And I believe some of the First Nations have similar beliefs.”

Tracey let herself collapse on her bed. ”Wu… just drop it. I can’t think about this right now.”

Wu said nothing. Zi knew that sometimes it was best to sit back and let Tracey argue with herself.

Which is exactly what Tracey did. Argued, and remembered. Her thoughts circled endlessly until arguing stopped and only memories remained.

Setting up Tracey as a fake identity. The last time she saw her father. The day she read her obituary. The… No matter how hard she tried she couldn’t push the pain and the memories away. A sob caught in her throat.

With hard-learned patience, she steadied her breathing. I control nothing if I cannot control myself. Stepped back from the painful memories and watched them, like clouds scuttling across the sky. She looked for the meaning that tied them together. The belief behind the pain.

“Ameohne’e is dead,” she finally whispered, “They named her dead and did the rites. I walked away from that name, from that life. I killed her. There is nothing to go back to.”

“We live in an age of magic. Your servant would be honored to find a necromancer to resurrect her.”

“Ha. Ha.”

Wu knelt beside her, hand outstretched. Tracey sat up and rested a hand on Wu’s head. “What would you ask?”

“Only this. Does your soul bleed for the loss of who you were? Tell your servant it does not and I swear by the heavens I will never speak of it again.”

“I…” Tracey couldn’t say it. “I can’t answer that.”

Wu’s head bowed further, hir hand pulled back to hir heart. “As you will.”

Tracey’s fingers tapped against the bed, quick and discordant. Never before had she refused Wu an answer. It was her right. But she had never…

She pushed herself up and began pacing the room. On her third circuit, Wu stood.

“With permission,” the dragon said, “your servant will retire for the night.”

Pacing wasn’t helping. The buzzing in her head grew worse.

“Yes, go.” Another circuit before Wu reached the door. Quickening her steps brought her to the door as Wu opened it. “I’m sorry.”

Wu bowed. “Your servant will do all zi can. But I cannot fight your demons for you.”

“No.” Tracey smiled. “Zi can only precipitate the battle.” She stepped back from the door. “You can go if you want. But I would rather have you with me while I fight them.”

Wu closed the door. “Then I will stay.”

Tracey had been right — she did not have the time or energy for a crisis of identity. Certainly not one that kept her up and cost her sleep. She had stolen two hours from a too-short night already to spend time with her child.

But Wu was also right — she could not do what she must if she was not sure of herself. And that meant knowing who she was — and who she would be.

It was when she found herself wishing she could seek out the medicine woman who had guided her on that long-ago vision quest that she realized it had never been a question. Tracey was a mask she created. She was — had always been — Ameohne’e. She had come to believe the mask was the truth, like an actor playing a role for too long. It was time to take it off.

It was far too late when she finally crawled into bed. Wu climbed in behind her and wrapped hirself around her. Zi had been a supportive but silent presence throughout the night. Now Ameohne’e murmured, “One day you are going to be wrong, and I’ll be there to see it.”

“I have been wrong often. But not tonight.”


Note on names: You might recall from episode 1 that our Evil Overlord went by Trevor in the newsleter and Tracey on here. Similarly, there he reclaims the name and identity of Ma’evoto and on here she reclaims the name and identity of Ameohne’e. To the best of my knowledge, Ma’evoto (like Tracey) can be gender neutral, but I decided to continue the split naming, and Ameohne’e is explicitly a woman’s name. Feel free to mix and match names in your personal headcannon.

Sorry folks, don’t have the spoons to footnote this one. I’ll try to come back and update later, but no promises. FWIW, this episode was rather light on the tropes iirc.

How NOT to Save the World (S 1, E 4)

Season Content Notes (incomplete): violence, anti-nonhuman bigotry, consensual violence

T minus 1 year 364 days

Tracey watched as Kasmir Teufel hurried from—it wouldn’t quite do to say that he fled—the office. Filling Kasmir’s place in the government hierarchy would be difficult, but Tracey hadn’t even tried to convince him to stay.

Let the scared ones go, Wu had said, forcing them to work with you will only lead to problems.

So Kasmir would get a generous retirement bonus and a chance to escape.

After a few minutes, Tracey’s temporary secretary (a security guard vetted by Wu, Deborah, and Glen) escorted in Narges Khoroushi, the head bureaucrat for Arcane Persons and Artifacts.1

She walked stiffly, her starburst earrings chiming with each step. She wore a simple white cap covering her head that contrasted with her dark brown skin and curled black hair. Her pants were dark with intricate floral embroidery climbing halfway to the knees. A robed upper garment that fell to mid-thigh and mimicked the embroidery around the cuffs. Together, her outfit gave an impression somewhere between an active or relaxed lifestyler. An impression Tracey knew was false. She’d done her research and there was nothing ‘relaxed’ about Narges.

She stopped a few steps from Tracey’s desk. “Fredrickson.”

Keep the evil ones close to you,2 had been the second part of Wu’s divination. ‘Evil’ was a flexible concept.3 But Wu said that in this case, it meant those who would cause or force division. Which Tracey thought fit Khoroushi to a T.

“Thanks for coming. Please, sit, have a snack.”

On cue, her ‘secretary’ returned with a tray of finger foods.

Narges glared at Tracey. “There is no need for courtesy between us. Say your piece and have done with it.”

“I want you to step down from APA.”

She sniffed. “And if I don’t?”

“Then I can’t put you on the team that is going to be restructuring the World Peace Force.” Tracey leaned back in her chair and sighed. “You heard about Winehurst?”

Narges jerked her head.

“He was… typical of our so-called ‘peacekeepers.’ We need a military, with an emphasis on marines and space forces.” Narges opened her mouth but Tracey rolled over her. “We don’t need a bunch of bullies and jackboots who use chemical weapons on protesters and demonstrations.”

Khoroushi pursed her lips. “You watched my speeches.”4

“We were enemies.” Tracey smiled. “I try to know my enemies.”

“We are enemies. And if I’d been more willing to support… harsh measures against your street mobs you might not be sitting in that chair right now.” The stiffness was gone now. She leaned in, anger glinting in her eyes. “And you know damn well that not all your engineered protests were peaceful.”

“You and I both know your boss’ personal cowardice5 is the reason my butt is in this chair.”

Khoroushi glared but didn’t try to deny it.

“The protests,” Tracey waved out to windows, “helped me build grassroots support to take power without instant chaos or rebellion erupting. All the arrests, and beatings, and chemical attacks did was prove to my supporters that I was right. The World Government was a corrupt oligarchy in service of the elites.6 And don’t tell me they were democratically elected. When a full third of the world’s population couldn’t vote there was nothing democratic about it.”7

“Monsters.”8 It was quietly stated, without the venom most people would imbue in the word.9 But Tracey found it no less hateful for that.

“No. People.10 My people. And one way or another, I am removing you from power over them. But I’d rather make peace with you than toss you out a window.” She smiled again. “If nothing else the repairs will get expensive after a while.”11

“Ha!” Narges looked at her for the first time with interest. “So you’ll let me fix the problems with the peacekeepers if I buy into your revolution.”

“Not buy in. Just stop fighting me.”

She said nothing for a full two minutes. Tracey waited. Then Narges sat down across from her. “Tell me how this brainstorm of yours will work. And why you think we need a military at all.”

Tracey took 10 minutes to eat a quick lunch and check in with Wu, overseeing the set up of her permanent on-site security. Aside from that brief break, the rest of the day was much the same. Meeting with bureaucrats powerful enough to need an individual touch and cajoling them or coercing them into working with her. Or kicking them out of her government.

Three hours after the dinner hour, Wu messaged to confirm that zi was satisfied with the on-site security and would be getting Tracey’s household moved in that night.

Tracey relaxed and poured herself a celebratory drink. She was halfway through that drink when Colonel Cheung Bo12 reported to her office. They wore, as always when on duty, their tailored uniform with small trapezoid pins at the shirt cuffs.

Cheung Bo had never liked Winehurst, wasn’t surprised to learn the man was a traitor. Winehurst’s death was, as far as Cheung Bo was concerned, the only good thing to have come out of this ‘peaceful transfer of power.’13

But it did make them a little… apprehensive about receiving orders to report directly to the new dictator.

Of all the things they might have expected, being greeted with a cheerful “Colonel Cheung Bo, welcome. Would you like a drink?” never occurred to them.

“Sir.” The colonel saluted and took the indicated seat. “Yes, thank you.” In the military, it is generally considered unwise to refuse a drink from a superior officer. Cheung Bo figured the same applied here, only more so.

Tracey poured a second glass and waited while they sipped appreciatively. “I’m curious, Colonel. Did you realize my people tried to recruit you?”

The colonel had good control of their face — their surprise only showed in a slight widening of their eyes. “I have always been loyal to my government.”14

“That’s not an answer,” Tracey observed but continued without waiting for one. “You haven’t resigned your commission. Will you give me the same loyalty you gave my… predecessors?”

Silence.

“I have yet to establish my legitimacy in the eyes of most people. Assuming I ever can. Still, the best chance of overthrowing me would be in the next few months, before I have time to establish my control. And using the many people I can’t afford to remove.”

More silence.

“Give me your opinion, Colonel. What will happen if I am overthrown?”

Cheung Bo took a deep breath and set their glass down. They hadn’t expected to be able to avoid taking a stand. “Chaos. You have not established legitimacy, but your… predecessors have lost it, ma’am. Your followers would need to be crushed to keep endless rebellions from happening. There would be no guarantee that whoever picked up the pieces to form a new government would be able to hold it.”

Tracey smiled soberly. “I’m glad we’re on the same page.” She reached into a draw of her desk and pulled out a very thick, very old-fashioned paperfile. “This is your file Colonel. You have more disciplinary write-ups than any other officer of your rank, and those same disciplinary issues are the reason you have never become a general officer, despite your long and otherwise exemplary service.”

“I have become reconciled to it, sir.” The comment had an edge, a warning for Tracey not to think of bribing Cheung Bo with the rank they had been denied so long.

“These,” Tracey pulled out a much slimmer file, “are my plans for expanding our space forces and centering further military development around it. You started in the space forces,15 didn’t you Colonel?”

The colonel nodded, their face tightened. They understood now that the bribe was nothing so simple as rank.16

“He who holds the orbitals…” Tracey trailed off.

“… holds the world.”17 Colonel Cheung Bo finished the old space aphorism that their former superiors had refused to heed.

“I need an officer I can trust. Not because they are loyal to me. Not because they supported my coup. Not because I’ve bribed them.

“But because they want the same thing I do: to keep people safe.”

She picked up the thick folder and held it out to the colonel. “I think a soldier with a dozen write-ups for arguing against punitive actions18 might be that officer.”

Cheung Bo stared at the folder, then at the man holding it. They felt the sand shifting under their feet. Their commitment to hold themself aloof from this usurper and just do their job eroding. “What would you expect of me?”

“Remove the Winehursts, prevent chaos, prepare for anything.”

Cheung Bo reached out and accepted the folder, not entirely believing they were doing so.

“Hold the orbitals for me, Cheung Bo.” A hard light gleamed in Tracey’s eyes, the charming politician stripped away to reveal the fervor that toppled a government. “Hold the orbitals for us all.”

“I will, sir.”

They meant it.19


1 https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MugglePower
2 https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/KeepingTheEnemyClose
3 https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/WhatIsEvil
4 https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/YouKnowWhoSaidThat
5 https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/DirtyCoward
6 https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Cliche
7 https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SuffrageAndPoliticalLiberation
8 https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/WhatMeasureIsANonHuman
9 https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/FantasticRacism
10 https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/EvenEvilHasStandards
11 https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/HeroInsurance
12 https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ColonelBadass
13 https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AndThereWasMuchRejoicing
14 https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MyCountryRightOrWrong
15 https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SpaceNavy
16 https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/EveryManHasHisPrice
17 https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/DeathFromAbove
18 https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/WouldNotShootACivilian
19 https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/StandYourGround

How NOT to Save the World (Season 1, Episode 2)

Season Content Notes (incomplete): violence, anti-nonhuman bigotry

The security team hit the doors and spread throughout the building. It looked choreographed because it was. The team had spent hundreds of hours drilling in a virtual mock-up of the World Government Building.1

As she stepped out of her armored car, Tracey wondered again why no one had come up with a more original name for it.2 (If she’d thought it worth researching, she’d have learned ‘World Government’ and ‘World Government Building’ were classic political compromises — no one got anything they liked, but no one hated it enough to keep fighting. The final selling point had been that you could translate ‘World Government’ into any language, and it would still work.)3

Wu, now in late 20th Century grunge,4 flanked her, scanning the gathering crowd. Word of the World Government’s surrender had spread quickly. The streets were filled with mostly-peaceful demonstrators — both those who supported and opposed Frederickson. More supporters, truth be told. If dissatisfaction with the World Government hadn’t been so high, she never could have pulled off her coup. But Wu was well aware that it only took one person willing to become a martyr. Tracey, after all, had sent out several such martyrs.5

Behind Wu, hidden by her sheer tininess, Tracey could hear Deborah’s quiet chanting. Deborah looked more like someone’s sweet old grandmother6 than one of the most powerful Kabbahlists in the world.7 (Like many whose power came from connection with a/the Greater Power, you called her ‘magician’ at your peril8). She was, in fact, both a sweet old grandmother and an incredibly powerful mystic. (That term was acceptable in most contexts.) Tracey had asked Deborah to explain her work one time and quickly learned that you only ask a Kabbalist to explain /anything/ if you have a spare decade or two.9 Deborah would only act offensively under rigorous circumstances that no one else understood.10 But her defense Tracey had trusted her life to many times. As always, Tracey found the sound of her invoking the NAMES of God reassuring. (Not ‘her’ God, something else Tracey had learned the hard way. There was only one God, Deborah insisted. It was just that people don’t all see God the same. Tracey eventually stopped asking Deborah questions.)11

By the time Tracey and her team took six strides, they had reached the door and the security team called the first floor clear.

Gunshot!

Forty feet of golden dragon wrapped around Tracey. Outside the coils, words of fire hung in the air before her, trapping the bullet. Deborah said something and the words faded, taking the bullet with them.

She, Wu, and Deborah held positions while security scrambled. The shooter was found and dragged away. Wu shimmered, hir golden scales fading and reforming into the human-seeming Tracey was familiar with. Wearing the ancient garments Wu called “hanfu.” Why, Tracey wondered, always hanfu when she transformed? And what happened to the grunge gear?12

Pushing aside the inanities, Tracey examined the various people gathered around her.

Outside the building, the sidewalks (and a good chunk of the street) were full and overfull. Security personnel had erected a barrier that kept Tracey’s supporters (a healthy mix of magical people and humans) and detractors (almost all human) away from each other.

Inside the building were humans (and perhaps a few magical beings in human seeming). Both inside and outside the building emotions ran high. Uncertainty, fear, hope, resentment, anger, exhilaration…

And above them, just outside the legal privacy limit, hovered the cam drones.

Tracey decided it was as good a moment as any. She signaled Deborah, who stepped back, fading into the crowd of staff, guards, and bureaucrats-to-be who were still climbing out of their vehicles. Then she waved the cam drones closer.

“Not how I wanted to start my first day on the job,” she said, “But first days tend to be shit anyway.” The tepid joke got a bit of a laugh. To her relief, the crowds settled a bit.

“All of you,” she took in the bureaucrats, “are probably wondering what to expect. There are going to be a lot of changes, and you aren’t going to like some of them. But I hope some of them you will like. For now, keep doing your jobs and focus on making sure food and energy keep moving to the people who need them. You’ll have plenty of time to gawk at me later. Promise.”

She refocused on the cams and the crowds. “To my supporters thank you. And go home! We have a lot of work to do, so don’t wear yourself out here. The real fight hasn’t begun yet. Now we need to fix things.

“If you want to help, stop blocking the street and check in with your cell leaders. Gene,” He gestured to the balding bespectacled man wearing his usual tweed and khakis, who waved at the crowd, “you may know him as Abbadon66613, is keeping the task boards running.”

They needed an outlet for all their emotion. Normally, that would be some kind of speech and event. But Tracey was self-aware enough to know she wasn’t any kind of speechmaker. So instead, she gave them something to do.

“To the protesters, I’m not going to silence you. I’m not going to arrest you. I’m not going to attack you. As long as you stick to making noise in the street, you can knock yourselves out. Any of you thinking that rebellion or armed resistance might be a good idea–let’s just say you do NOT want to join your friend with the gun.”14

As she finished speaking security called in to report the upper levels clear.

“For real this time?”

“Ah… yes, sir. For real this time.”

“Good.”

She signed forward and he, Wu, and the rest of the team that had gathered behind them moved for the lifts.

It was going to be a long day.

 

Tracey’s new office was at the top floor of the building. It gave her a panoramic view of the crowds. Many of her supporters had started to disperse. Others had sat down right in the street to pull up the holoboards and see what Gene had going for them.

Tracey couldn’t afford to tear down the whole government apparatus. She had to somehow control it and bend it to her needs. That task had broken better revolutionaries than he. But those people, with their numbers and drive, with her clearing the way, might just do enough in the short time they had.

Wu stepped up beside her. “General Winehurst wants to speak with you.”

“Already? He knows the timetable, damnit.” Tracey sighed.

“I believe he has his own timetable,” Wu said.

“Okay. Might as well get it over with. Send him in.”

Wu bowed and left. Tracey turned away from the window to survey the office again. Three cream-colored walls, bare of decoration, and one wall of windows rose 15 ft to a ceiling that had been painted with a mural of the world and its peoples. Or at least, it’s human peoples. The floor…

Winehurst burst in before she had finished the survey.

“We did it! I told you my troops were the ones for the job.” Winehurst’s milk-pale face glowed with excitement. Tracey almost hated to disappoint him. Almost.

Tracey smiled and took the general’s hand in both of hers. “You did, and they did. Your people have done us all proud.”

“So when do we start cleaning up?”

“Why, now, actually.” She tightened her grip, making the general wince. “I am delighted to accept your resignation general, dated immediately. Your assassination and leg-breaking teams were invaluable in creating this new world, and I know you’ll want to rest from your labors.”

Winehurst tried to pull away, but she had trained with weapons 30 years ago. Tracey trained in hand-to-hand daily with Wu. She couldn’t beat a real fighter–she hadn’t kept in real training for nearly ten years herself. But the general wasn’t escaping him by main strength.15

“What! No. Damnit we talked about this. You promised me a chance to rebuild the military, make it a real fighting force again! Let go, damn it!”

Tracey timed her release so the general lost his balance, stumbling backward and nearly tripping over Wu and Deborah.

Tracey’s biggest weakness as a world-conquering villain was poor improv. She was a planner, and Winehurst had arrived early.

Looking around she saw Deborah wore a distant look and her lips moved in a silent murmur. Tracey looked around and saw an almost-shimmer on one of the windows. So.

“I have every intention of keeping my promise, general. But I’m afraid you and I have very different ideas of what a ‘real’ fighting force will look like. My idea does not look like the murderers and bullies you’ve gathered around you to abuse and extort civilian populations. It looks like a military force. With discipline and a purpose.

“So I suggest you take your retirement bonus and go. You won’t get a better offer.”

Winehurst strode towards Tracey, getting in her face and looming over her. “I’m the only military officer you’ve got. Without me, you can’t hold the troops. And without the troops, your ass will be dead before the week is out. You may be the one with the big chair, but you don’t scare me.”

“I see. Well, I admit I was warned that even if you took retirement you’d be likely to try to… meddle. Better to have everything out in the open, then.”

“Darn right I would. Now let’s talk salary.”

“Of course.” Time to follow Deborah’s lead. Tracey stepped back, giving way to the general. A hand behind the general’s elbow turned him toward one of the conference tables. Then the grip shifted, and the elbow lock forced Winehurst to keep moving until he walked into–and through–the glowing 30-story window16 that should have held up to a shoulder-fired SAM. And it had before Deborah cast her spell.

Winehurst screamed all the way down, of course. Tracey sighed. “Goodbye general. I told you you wouldn’t get a better offer.”17

A squad of the security gryphons winged down to hover before the window. “Ma’am?”

“I’m fine. However, we need to up our weapon search procedures.” Tracey shook her head. “I don’t know what he thought he was doing, attacking me with Wu and Deborah right here. And please order a cleanup crew for the sidewalk.”

Deborah came to stand beside her and looked down at the splattered remains of the general.

“Thank you, Deborah. That was quick thinking.”

“Gevorah,” she said. “It was justice.”18

“Was it?” Tracey heard herself ask.

Wu put a hand on her shoulder, “Honored friend, not all the deaths on our hands will be just ones. But your servant has seen his work first hand. Even if he had accepted your offer, he would have continued doing harm to many. This death was indeed just.

“And having it known that you can defend yourself against attack at need? Your honored servant will sleep much better at night knowing that your enemies will know you are no easy target.”

With the window gone, the noise of the crowds, now punctuated by screams and shouts, came to her clearly. She looked down at them and waved, doing her best to show them that she was alive and unharmed. Cam drones zoomed towards her. “Wu, deal with those please.” She turned her back on the broken window and sat at the desk she had done so much to claim.

“I have work to do.”

1

https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ADogNamedDog

 

2

https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/LampshadeHanging

 

3

https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/LemonyNarrator

 

4

https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AwesomeAnachronisticApparel

 

5

https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AtLeastIAdmitIt

 

6

https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/GrannyClassic

 

7

https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/NeverMessWithGranny

 

8

https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ReligionIsMagic

 

9

https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/RamblingOldManMonologue

 

10

https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/RulesLawyer

 

11

https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AllMythsAreTrue

 

12

https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AWizardDidIt

 

13

https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/DeathbringerTheAdorable

 

14

https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/DontMakeMeDestroyYou

 

15

https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/EvilVersusEvil

 

16

https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/DestinationDefenestration

 

17

https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness

 

18

https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MurderIsTheBestSolution

 

How NOT to Save the World (Season 1, Episode 1)

Season Content Notes (incomplete): violence, anti-nonhuman bigotry

Author note: This story started on TVTropes and never left. It is not meant to be taken seriously and few (if any) of the characters are fully developed as they are, first and foremost, defined by the tropes that inspired them. Tropes are footnoted1 for my fellow fans of all things Troperific.2 For everyone else, please enjoy a rather silly story that knows not to take itself seriously.

Prologue3

In 2199, the usually ‘New century’ hysteria took over (The milder version of the new millennium hysteria which made 1999 so memorable for the people who lived through it).

No one really expected anything to change, except for the calendars.

Especially since many of them still remembered 2099.

For once, the hysterics were right.

On New Year, at the stroke of midnight (UTC -14:00)4, the universe as humanity knew it ended.5 Magic ripped through the world, returning6 from god-knows-where (and ze isn’t telling). In an instant, people were gifted with magical abilities, transformed, or in some cases just plain dead (usually of heart attacks).

Dragons appeared, and unicorns, and elves, and little plaid men in blue kilts who spent all their time getting drunk and stealing anything that wasn’t nailed down.7

And… the world went on. Granted it went on very differently than before, but food still had to be grown, sex was still a driving force behind society-as-we-knew-it, and politicians continued blathering.

One group rejoiced in the arrival of magic: bureaucrats, who were able to create a half dozen new departments at every level of government, and had an excuse to create new and arcane paperwork for people to fill out.

The argument about whether or not non-human intelligent races were people lasted about one month. By which point the dragons had eaten anyone stupid enough to get on tv and say that dragons shouldn’t be allowed to vote.

The head of the World police force, who had himself been transformed into a dragon, expressed consternation and dismay at his department’s inability to catch the perpetrators of these horrid crimes.8

Science tried to analyze magic, magic refused to be analyzed. Magic tried to invalidate science, science refused to stop working.9 In the end they settled into an uneasy truce, where science was allowed to catalog magic and they worked in parallel to find new ways to improve daily life and bring death and destruction upon the world. And thus did things continue, until the present day.

T-minus 2 years10 11

Tracey* Frederickson,12 who sometimes managed to forget for hours at a time that she had once been Ameohne’e of the Cheyenne, officially conquered the world,13 14 at 1:15 GMT on the 6th of March, 2465. At which time she was sitting in her office reviewing an archaic list15 a friend had shared with her the night before.

“‘All naive, busty tavern wenches…’ whoever heard of a naive bar server?” She flicked her finger, deleting the paragraph from her holographic display. ” ‘All non-instantaneous deathtraps…’ Really? Note.” A new holographic screen popped up, adding a bluish sheen to her bronze skin. “Wu: research old vids with drowning pools, trash compactors, and/or gas chambers for next month’s marathon. Send.” The second screen winked out. “There’s gotta be something behind that one. ‘All slain enemies will be cremated…’ how is that not obvious. Necromancers. ‘1.45 MB file size? Padded?” A light flickered at the corner of her eye. “Yes?”

“Ma’am, Mx. Lu is here to speak with you.”

She sat up, the chair reshaping itself as she moved. “Send zir in!”

The handle on the old-fashioned door opened and Wu stepped in. Tracey, for once allowing nerves to drive her into procrastination, took the excuse of admiring Xu once again. And as far as Tracey was concerned, Lu Xia Wu16 17 was always worth admiring.18

Wu was a small person with what zi said were ‘classic’ Han features. Though the scattering of golden scales19 across hir skin wasn’t really ‘classic.’ But as far as Tracey was concerned, they turned Wu’s face into a work of art. Wu wore a 20th-century Western man’s business suit, in pale yellow.20 To modern eyes the simplicity of the outfit marked it as antique and androgynous.

Wu, excited and impatient, cleared hir throat as Tracey admired the way the color of the suit brought out the warmth of Wu’s skin.

Tracey shook her head. “Yes, I’m delaying.” She took a deep breath, but couldn’t continue.

Wu bowed but kept hir eyes on Tracey. “May this humble one give zir report?”

It was a chastisement, though likely only Tracey and a few others would recognize it.

“Okay, I’ll be good.” Another deep breath. “Tell me.”

Xu smiled, grinned actually. “They have conceded. As of 1142 Greenwich, you are officially the ruler of–”

Zi didn’t get to finish because Tracey had raced across the room in an instant and caught Wu up in a bear hug.21 “We did it!”

“You did, my friend.” Wu’s voice rasped with grief and memories and lack of air.22 “You led the way and won the prize. Even when this one thought it impossible, you persevered.”

“Not alone, Wu. And I couldn’t have done it without you at my back.” She released Wu and took another breath. Allowed herself a moment to thank whatever gods or spirits might be listening. She hadn’t been bluffing, but there is a long distance between ‘not bluffing’ and ‘eager to assassinate opponents and their families in job-lots.’ Tracey was honest enough to know she was a villain. But there are villains and villains, and there were some types of villains she didn’t want to become.23

A moment only.

“We planned for this. Is everyone ready?”

They were of course, and Wu assured her that everything waited only on her orders.

“Perfect!” Tracey threw a formal robe with interlinking black-and-red triangles over her casual office outfit. “Let’s go.”

On the way to the door, she called over her shoulder, “Computer, print poster-sized copy of document ‘Evil Overlord list’.”

A yellow ‘acknowledged’ light blinked.

“Evil overlord list?” Wu tapped the sigil temp-branded on zir wrist that would order all units to start moving.

Tracey grinned. “Something for the waiting room of my new office.” They strode out of her old office together, moving for the garage. “I figure it will amuse people.”24

“You mean people’s reactions to it will amuse you,” Wu said, as zi summoned the elevator.

“I’m a people too.”

“Allegedly.”

Five minutes later a convoy emerged from the underground bunker, headed for the World Government headquarters in the city of Maua.


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1 Footnoting has been rather more of a pain than I’d hoped. Enjoy for now, but I can’t promise to continue.

* From the beginning (over 5 years ago), this character has been Trevor. But for some reason, I found about 2 pages of an earlier draft where ‘man!Trevor’ became ‘woman!Tracey’. After a lot of back and forth, I decided to go with both. So the newsletter has Trevor and the website has Tracey. Both are canon.