Redemption vs Schemes: Hugh & Leftover
This story is based on the Reedsy.com prompt "Write about two characters who each want to change the same thing, but resolve to go about it in very different ways."
Hugh is an alien that looks very human. He cleansed his home planet from evil, and he came to the Earth to do the same. He uses a dark helmet that covers his body with armor that increases his strength and gives him access to futuristic weapons that appear by thought. When Hugh was 16, he captured a dangerous criminal named Gull (this original adventure of Hugh can be read here: https://theprose.com/post/389825/the-pit ). Now 30 years old, Hugh has spent the past 14 years building a worldwide network of heroes powered by the same helmet technology as himself. Hugh has even created an alternate world called the Reflection Dimension, a safe place to keep the most dangerous criminals. The inhabitants of the Reflection Dimension all have food, shelter, and digital entertainment needs supplied, and their only means of escape is to pass a test to show that they have truly given up their evil ways. If they are able to do this, they are also cleared of all criminal charges (The first tale of the Reflection Dimension can be read here: https://theprose.com/post/382631/redemption-in-another-dimension ).
Mirk is one of Hugh's associates. He uses the same helmet/armor/weapon gear as his boss. His brother Tam also works for Hugh, and the pair have worked together in the past. In Mirk's last mission, he sent the traitor that stole Prince Lenny Overature's features to the Redemption Dimension before his own features could be stolen, but the villain did not return, resulting in the prince being stuck in a silhouette form. Mirk is currently wrestling with guilt over this turn of events. First appearance: https://theprose.com/post/383782/hallway-of-peril )
Originally Prince Lenny Overature of the country of Prosperity, Lenny was next in line to become the king. However, his true desire was to join his idol Hugh's hero network. King Overature allowed him to apply for Hugh's team, while secretly contacting Hugh requesting that his application be declined. Hugh appeared to Lenny shortly after and began interviewing him for the opportunity to become a new recruit. This turned out to be a trick, as this Hugh was really the king's trusted advisor Bill. Bill stole Lenny's features, leaving Lenny's body as a dark silhouette. Plotting to pose as Lenny and become king, Bill's plans were foiled when Hugh's associate Mirk came on the scene and sent Bill to the Reflection Dimension, assuming that Bill would return reformed. This did not go according to plan, and Lenny vowed revenge on Hugh and his organization, taking the name Leftover. Leftover plans to build his own team that will eliminate Hugh's group, and do what he feels will be a better job in being heroes.
CCC (Custom Character Creator) is an eccentric man with a mohawk, purple eyes behind party glasses, mismatched clothes, and a toothy smile that uses a special laptop to alter the appearances of others to their liking for an hour. CCC has done work around the world, and tends to be a good source of information. His true motivations are a mystery, but at this point he has pledged his loyalty to Leftover.
First appearance: https://theprose.com/post/399444/christmas-candy-criminal
(This story takes place after the events of "The Prince's Year End Goals! Destiny Beyond The Throne" - https://theprose.com/post/403057/the-prince-s-year-end-goals-destiny-beyond-the-throne )
Mirk entered his headquarter's main office and took a seat. Mirk's boss Hugh normally contacted his employees by video chat (the company is global, after all), but Hugh felt that this meeting should be in person.
"I'm sorry boss, I failed to help the prince." Mirk said sadly. "I thought sending the enemy to the Reflection Dimension would result in him returning as a changed man, but he didn't want to come back. And now that poor prince is stuck in a silhouette body."
"I understand your feelings, but you did what you had to do." Hugh responded gently. "If you didn't take action when you did, you could have had your features stolen too. If the villain was able to freely parade around as one of ours, catastrophic things could have happened. You succeeded in preventing this."
"Maybe...." Mirk said, still feeling terrible. "But the prince was so angry, and he didn't want help from our scientists. What if I created a new villain from my judgement call back there?"
"I am going to show you something in a moment that will ease this concern." Hugh responded. "But even if the prince did take a dark path, then we would do our best to help him. As you know, my goal is to cleanse the Earth of evil. I think the best way to do this is to give those that commit evil the chance to reform. This is why I created the Redemption Dimension. This is why some of our newest recruits are former adversaries."
Mirk smiled at his boss's words and goals. This is what drew him into joining Hugh's team in the first place.
"Now for the reassurance." Hugh said. Hugh turned on the screen in the room and a news clip from the country of Prosperity began playing.
"Prince Lenny Overature was attacked by a traitor to the king." The newscaster reported. "The traitor was sent to the Redemption Dimension by an associate of Hugh's hero agency. Based on the events of this ordeal, the prince requested a private coronation. The following footage of the coronation was released to us."
Hugh and Mirk then saw footage of a small ceremony where Prince Lenny Overature was crowned as king. Lenny had all of his features intact, and he flashed a big smile to the camera.
"I am not sure what happened, but apparently the silhouette transformation the prince, I mean king, suffered from has worn off." Hugh said happily. "Everything seems to have worked out."
"This is great!" Mirk said excitedly. "Thank you for showing me this! I will work even harder, and I will do my best to improve in my work!"
"I know you will." Hugh said, smiling. "I am thankful to have you on board with me Mirk."
A few days later Mirk received an invitation from the King of Prosperity requesting a visit. He assumed that Lenny wanted to meet up and make peace. Mirk appreciated the opportunity for closure and accepted the invite. Just in case, he donned his black helmet and armored himself, and he also had a stun gun and a laser sword at his disposal.
Mirk arrived in Prosperity and entered the throne room of the king's castle. Mirk stood before the throne and bowed to King Lenny Overature.
"Hero of Hugh, the last time we met I was very mean to you." King Lenny said solemnly. "I wish to express my deepest regret for the way I spoke to you, and I beg your forgiveness."
"Thank you your highness, and please allow me to apologize for any inconvenience I caused you." Mirk replied gratefully. "On behalf of Hugh and his network, I hope we can serve you well in the future!"
"I hope for the same thing." King Lenny responded. "Please make yourself comfortable in our kingdom as long as you wish."
"I actually should be heading back, but I am happy that I was able to see you again, your majesty." Mirk said, bowing once more. "I am pleased to see you doing so well. The crown suits you."
Mirk walked out of the castle feeling great. His life high wore off as a massive goblin blocked the path to his ship ride home.
"Hero of Hugh, you may go no farther!" The goblin sneered at Mirk. "My master has unfinished business with you!"
"And who would that be?" Mirk asked, summoning his laser sword into his hand with a thought.
"Oh you'll see." The goblin answered sinisterly. "But first, let me introduce myself. My name is Hypnorc, and you are about to be under my control."
Hypnorc's eyes began swirling, and Mirk didn't turn away soon enough. His helmet provided no protection. The eye contact had been made, and Mirk was now Hypnorc's captive (Hypnorc first appeared here: https://theprose.com/post/401577/the-true-naughty-listers ).
Leftover then approached Mirk and Hypnorc, still very much in his silhouette form. CCC, looking wacky as ever, was following close behind.
"I hope you enjoyed meeting the king." Leftover sneered in his noble, but menacing tone. "One of my friends agreed to take on my old characteristics and play the role of king, thanks to CCC's customization skills. And Hypnorc here has my father hypnotized into believing I am completely back to normal, and he has been assuring the kingdom of this. And now I have one of Hugh's own at our command too. So yes Mirk, I am doing quite well!"
"You thought that guy on the throne was the king, right?" CCC laughed gleefully. "No wonder my work gets worldwide recognition!"
Mirk felt his free will slipping away, unable to speak or fight his captors. Soon enough he was a puppet under Hypnorc's complete control.
"Don't worry friend, your time has not come yet!" Leftover sneered, not sounding reassuring at all. "And the sight of you honestly makes me sick, so you won't be staying here for long. However, you are going to get something for me before you are dismissed."
"What can I get for you, master?" Mirk asked obediently.
"You are going to get me a helmet from Hugh." Leftover answered. "The helmet will have the security measures Hugh no doubt has implemented into it disabled. The helmet will be modified as well. I would like the helmet to be yellow, with a toothy grin painted on it. You see Mirk, I am building my own hero organization, one that will ultimately destroy the one you belong to, and mine will be a superior group. Your master can't cleanse the world of evil if associates like you are causing victims like me to be stuck in silhouette bodies. So although what I am doing could be considered evil, the work we do in the future will be much more effective at destroying evil than anything you and yours can do."
"Yes master Leftover." Mirk replied. "I will need help in getting this helmet for you though. I can't convince Hugh to do this on my own."
"But of course." Leftover replied condescendingly. "Hypnorc will encourage whoever needs to be convinced to help you at headquarters. Now, he can't accompany you in his present form, a giant orc would likely stand out. Can you think of someone he could impersonate in order to blend in? My associate CCC can alter his look to that appropriate person's appearance."
"I know someone he can impersonate." Mirk replied, presenting a picture of his brother Tam to the villains. "My brother Tam is away for the next few days, but we can tell my colleagues that we ran into each other and returned together."
"Lovely, I like the way you think Mirk." Leftover snickered. "And rest assured, you are indeed serving me very well!"
Within an hour Hypnorc returned to meet Leftover outside of the castle, holding a yellow helmet with a toothy grin painted on it. Still in his Tam form, he then transformed back into his normal goblin body.
"Nice customization!" Leftover said. "Guess CCC is not the only one that is good at this kind of thing. I take it the mission was a success?"
"Yes sir." Hypnorc replied, grinning. "I had the pleasure of an audience with Hugh himself. Thanks to my skills, he was quite eager to mod the appearance of this helmet, and remove his security protocols. He even threw in a couple of laser guns, a laser sword, and one of those guns that sends people to the Reflection Dimension. He even promised to forget that our meeting, and transaction took place. However sir, I could have ended things right then and there. Why didn't you have me do that?"
"A couple of reasons, actually." Leftover replied with a smile. "First, I wanted to test your loyalty, which you passed with flying colors. Second, I want to play the long game with this. Before we destroy Hugh and his network, I want ours to grow. I will be looking for a scientist that can mass produce these helmets for us. And eventually, I will release to the public how weak Hugh and his group truly are. After all, we just made off with his precious technology, without leaving any evidence of our involvement. An organization that weak will never have what it takes to defeat evil. However, we will prevail."
"This is going to be quite the ride!" Hypnorc cackled gleefully. "I can't wait to see what happens next!"
"Everything ok, Hugh?" Mirk asked over their video chat.
"Yes, I just feel a bit tired." Hugh replied. "I feel like a lot happened today, but nothing really happened."
"I know what you mean." Mirk agreed. "All I did was briefly visit King Lenny, and I feel like so much more happened. Anyway, you have a mission for me?"
"Yes!" Hugh replied, gaining some steam back. "I need you and your brother to take care of a disturbance in a downtown alley. This should be a small job, but even so, all jobs are important in our quest to end evil."
"Yes sir, you can count on us!" Mirk said gleefully. He then made a silent vow that no matter what dangers they faced, big or small, he would always fight for what was good. No matter how long it took, they would succeed at ending all evil....
Mirk and Tam's next mission can be read here: https://theprose.com/post/404631/a-sickening-plot