The gentleman’s masked face seemed silly enough paired with his flared suit, his smooth, fuzzy head already bowed in greeting before he at last rose and placed upon it the ribboned top hat he had politely removed to hold in his gloved hand as not to bump into the girls with its comical length. It seemed only to further exaggerate his great height as he looked down to them anticipating their response.
“We…” Frankie began, anxiety overruled in this instance by the sheer absurdity of the occasion. “We might have? Who are you?”
“Arsene Hatter, leader of the auspicious Villainous Legion of the Venge City underworld. I am their founder, and they are my loyal siblings in chaos.”
He flicked his hand back to reveal the plucky sort; climbing down from the nearby buildings and appearing from the darkness of the alleys like rats as they filled the street until all the normal tourists had retreated out of fear. Dressed in unified black and red, though all with their own “signature” outfits- many deliberately and classically “punk,” sporting kilts and leather, others more “sophisticated-“ if “sophisticated” was to imply a certain ancient French-European sensibility- like Hatter, many donned flowing coats and dapper hats, boots, and even striking capes. The army of supervillains all, however, had the same glow of rebellion in their eyes.
“Villainous Legion?” Katie stuck a confused finger to her chin. “So you mean you guys are, like… criminals?”
“I won’t deny your accusation.” Arsene seemed to brag, setting his fists to his hips. “But you must first listen to what we stand for in order to understand our actions. Yes, it is true- indeed, we are outlaws. And we engage in much debauchery the likes of which you two civilized lasses have likely not born witness to in your times at parks like these.”
“I think we’ve seen our fair share of treachery…” Frankie mumbled under the man’s speech.
“However! All our protests are in service to a lofty goal: to rid this sacred park of-“ he improvised a throaty puking sound effect- “Coaster Bozo’s influence!”
“So this is just a big hate club for the guy…? I mean, I get it… but doesn’t everybody dog on him anyway...? Seems like you can’t go two clicks on the internet these days without coming across some unsavoury post about him.” The minty-haired contrarian cut in between the figurehead’s words.
“Astutely put! And an undeniable truth of this matter- Bozo is reviled by virtual denizens, be they laypeople or other devoted comic fans. However! None have the courage or means to take a stand against the fool. Against what he’s done! How he’s made a mockery of Venge City! How he’s ruined the brand of Tough Boys Comics!”
“Wait… you’re all just comic book fans?”
“Indeed! At least, were. But as I said- Bozo has defiled these properties with his laughable attempt at a serialized graphic novel, and all the choices he’s made as holder of the brand name! Not to mention… we saw earlier, how the pig brushed you aside moments after “saving” you, just as he has many other guests! The man is flying around solving problems, but it’s all for his own image and ego! This scornful, distasteful un-heroicness must be stopped!”
“But I thought you guys were villains. If he’s “un-heroic,” doesn’t that make him… like, one of you?”
Frankie earned a chuckle from the towering gang leader.
“He forced us into this position. If he wants to play the role of hero, we’ll gladly be the villains!”
“So what do you want from us?”
“Isn’t it obvious…” the scoundrel grinned. “For you to join our cause, of course! It’s money you’re in need of, is it not?”
“How’d you know?” Katie asked.
“Is it not obvious we witnessed your encounter with the plump little man? Our members stalk the shadows of this city at all times.”
“How much money?” The business side of Frankie returned, asking seriously.
“One of our members happens to be a former big shot herself. Even now, she’s quite the sponsor to our operation. If you agree to help us, I can guarantee you’ll be compensated quite handsomely.”
Frankie bit her nail. Katie took her aside as well as she could with all the prying criminal eyes on them.
“Frankie… should we really do this? They look like they mean business… they really do, but… I’m just worried if it’s a good idea to get involved in something like this…”
“Yeah… I… I get you. Look, they seem to mean well. And I don’t much care for guys like Bozo to begin with. If you’re okay with it… I mean, what’s the worst that could happen?”
“But just how far are they willing to go to stop him?”
“There’s no telling… I mean, the real question is… are you willing to push someone else down for the sake of your dream? Can you do that, Katie?”
Katie made a concerted effort not to break concentration with her sister’s gaze this time. It was scary… but Katie’s conviction was ultimately even greater than Frankie’s.
“It’s… ugly, I guess.” She smiled. “But yes, I am.”
“Alright then. Decision made, then…”
Frankie flipped around back to the well-dressed captain of crooks.
“We’re in. Take us to your secret lair or whatever. My sister loves seeing new things.”
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