Designer to the Villains

“Halcythrax, Lord of Regrets!”

Halcythrax stood up from the strangely low-slung couch in the waiting room, dropping last month’s issue of “Villains Quarterly” back down on the coffee table. He’d read the cover story, of course, covering how Aetheria, the Spider Queen, managed to bring down Lucio Light-Bringer with her carefully placed web traps. Personally, Halcythrax thought that it was just another attempt at pandering towards women in villainy, but he wisely kept his mouth shut.

Besides, Aetheria had her costume made here. No matter his personal feelings towards the Spider Queen, she did look absolutely stunning in the purple and black tights, covered in webbing and with cunningly designed pockets that somehow further accented her figure.

So as he followed the attendant down the long hallway, Halcythrax couldn’t help but feel a little nervous. He’d waited weeks for his appointment slot; Iris was notoriously difficult to book.

He was prepared to confront a truly intimidating villainous designer, as soon as he stepped into the other room. Someone tall and slender, perhaps, all bones and sinew. Someone clad entirely in black, from head to toe, with enough mascara to drown a raccoon. Whatever her dark fashion sensibilities, Halcythrax knew, Iris Pin would have the intimidation factor down perfectly.

So when he entered the room, he thought at first that she hadn’t yet arrived. Instead, a short, plump little grandmother with graying hair and small, round spectacles peered at him.

“And you are, dear?” she asked, blinking soft eyes over those little round glasses.

Well, he could at least intimidate this receptionist, or secretary, or whatever. “I am Halcythrax, Lord of Regrets!” Halcythrax boomed out, puffing himself up. “And I come to strike terror into the hearts of-”

“Halcythrex, spelled with an E?”

“No, with an A,” he answered, deflating into annoyance. “Listen, I’m here to meet with Iris Pin-”

“And your abilities, Mr. Halcythrex?”

“Halcythrax. I command the spirits of age and decreptitude, bringing crushing despair down upon all those who dare oppose me!” Halcythrax felt the woman’s eyes still on him, and sensed that she was somewhat less than impressed. “As most leaders are older, and superheroes as well, I can leave them shaking and senseless with fear and regret for all their past failures!”

The woman snorted. “In that?” she asked, gesturing with a pencil to his outfit. “Likely leave them paralyzed with laughter, more like. Or secondhand embarrassment.”

Halcythrax growled, although he did feel a twinge of shame at his outfit. The tights were a bit saggy, and the toolbelt looked hopelessly outdated, three seasons behind – but he didn’t have an eye for this kind of thing! This was why he’d come here!

After a second, however, the woman clapped her hands, hopping up and walking a little circle around him. “In any case, we can certainly fix that,” she said. Her hands rose up, twitching as if they wanted to reach out and pinch him. “Any preferred colors?”

“I’m a fan of red and yellow, maybe-” Halcythrax began, before she waved a hand to imperiously cut him off.

“Oh, no no. That’s twenty years out of date. Seems that along with the abilities over old people, you’ve also picked up their fashion sense! No, I’m thinking something sleek, in shades of gray, with white accents. And crystals! Yes, crystals sprouting from armored areas. Oh, it will be majestic!”

“Sounds like it will be expensive,” Halcythrax answered gloomily. His last heists had been somewhat less than successful. Damn these young millennials, working all the entry level bank teller jobs! Why didn’t they have more regrets? What, did they still live at home with their parents or something?

The woman just blinked at him. “Well, that is the cost when you wish to climb to the tier of proper villainy,” she said, sounding as if she doubted this was what he truly wanted.

“Oh, yes, yes,” Halcythrax hastened to reassure her. “But look, before we make these decisions, don’t you think we should wait for Iris herself to arrive?”

The woman cocked an eyebrow at him, and Halcythrax felt his stomach sink. “You?” he sputtered. “But you’re just – you’re not – you don’t look-”

“Don’t look like a supervillainess, is that it?” she replied, her tone suddenly dripping with acid. “I’d watch your tongue, young man, unless you wish to lose it.” She flashed short, plump little fingers, and suddenly they held a pair of gleaming silver fabric shears that looked somehow more deadly than any webs the Spider Queen ever wove.

After playing out a couple responses, Halcythrax decided that it would be best just to keep his mouth shut and nod. Thankfully, Iris seemed to release her anger as quickly as it came on.

“Good, good,” she said. “Now, strip. I’ll need to take some measurements.” She paused, crossing her arms at him. “But I do have to ask; you’re not hiding anything prehensile under that baggy monstrosity of a suit, are you? I won’t stand for any funny business.”

Halcythrax hastened to assure her that no, he had no strange appendages. Iris nodded, her eyes suddenly gleaming with a manic light. Seeing that light, Halcythrax immediately knew that, despite all appearances to the contrary, she truly was a villainess. No one normal, upstanding, ever felt such strong desire and drive.

“Then let’s get started,” she announced as she advanced on him, her shears at the ready. Halcythrax nodded, tried not to smile in anticipation – but especially, more than anything, tried to keep all parts of his body out from the wild snipping of those shears.

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