All According to Plan
The hapless henchmen trembled as he walked down the hallway to where he would be reporting to the Light. Why had he thought a life of crime would be glamorous? That it would be a path to quick cash? Instead, it looked like his life would be cut short at the mere age of 33.
He had tried to think of a way to summarize the disaster in a way that would make it very much not his fault. But he had already been thinking for the past three hours, and no brilliant twist of words had come to mind. The man knew he would be killed for this failure.
In the last twenty feet of corridor, the henchman tried to think of which villain scared him the most. While most flunkies worked for one villain in particular, he was a gofer and a liaison between the members of the Light. He snorted. Liaison, right. That was a glorified way of saying that he got yelled at by Queen Bee when Vandal Savage ordered him to do something she didn't like, or got shot at with energy blasts by Klarion when the Lord of Chaos was annoyed that the henchman was paying more attention to the other members than himself.
But back to specific fears. Queen Bee could control him and make him walk into the ocean or through an inferno, so the henchman would be carrying out his own death sentence. Klarion would use his dark magic to open a portal to a dimension filled with horrible predators who wanted to eat him. Lex Luthor would probably just get his robot bodyguard to shoot him. Ra's could kill him, resurrect him, and then kill him again.
He stood outside the door, ironically wishing that the heroes would break into the Light's secret base at this moment. Since the heroes got him into this mess, the least they could do was get him out of it again. The henchman turned to walk away (well, the Light couldn't kill him if he went into hiding, right?), but the door opened without him touching it. "Come in," he heard Ra's voice say from inside the room.
He walked to the center of the room, feeling like a mouse between hungry lions. This wasn't a conference call. The seven villains were there, sitting in comfortable chairs around a semicircular table. The henchman was high enough up the ladder that he knew the identity of the Light's leadership council, but seeing them face to face reminded him of how they would not hesitate to take out anyone who could expose their identities. He opened his mouth to speak, but all that came out was a croak.
"Please, have a drink of water," Luthor invited, gesturing toward a table that held a cup and pitcher. The henchman instantly thought of poison, which would actually be a kindness at this point. The poison would kill him before he had to make the report and would spare him the agony of imagining the drawn out death the villains would plan for him when they heard of the failure.
His hands shook as he poured a glass of water from the pitcher. A few drops landed on the table. The man tried to discretely wipe them away and ended up knocking over the glass. The water spilled over the table and onto the floor. He started babbling apologies. Klarion rolled his eyes at the man's actions.
"We don't have all day," the Lord of Chaos whined.
"Sorry, sir," the henchman said. Calling what looked like a twelve year old boy "sir" was at the bottom of the weird things he had done since he started working for the Light. Massaging Queen Bee's feet was definitely farther up the list. He left the mess around the table alone and moved back to the center of the room. "I am here to deliver my report."
"Get on with it," Black Manta said.
"Well, the organization just outside of Happy Harbor that we use to launder money... The Young Justice kids found out about it."
"And?" Vandal Savage asked.
"And they attacked. Um, three of our scientists and one of the bodyguards were turned over to the police. And... and the building caught on fire. It burned to the ground."
The henchman looked down at his shoes. They were nice shoes. If that was the last thing he saw before his untimely death, that would be a lot better sight than the Brain cutting the man to pieces. His overactive mind continued thinking of how he would be killed. Black Manta would drown him. Maybe electrocute and drown him. Vandal Savage, well, he had been around for millennia. He would have learned the most painful and agonizing ways to kill someone. The henchman found himself wishing that Luthor's robot was around. She usually killed quickly, without toying with her victims.
"I see. Well, it was an acceptable loss. "
The henchman didn't think he had heard Lex Luthor correctly. Was this part of the torture, making him think he was safe, and then killing him when he let down his guard? Or was he losing his sanity because of the fear? "Wh-What?"
"An acceptable loss. Necessary, even, for our greater goals," Luthor said, as if that explained everything.
"But, the building burned down. You won't be able to launder money through there anymore."
Luthor waved his hand as if brushing away an insect. "We have other ways to channel money to where we need."
"And... and the scientists. They were working on some Top Secret project."
The Brain spoke up next. "We always tell zee scientists that zay are working on Top Secret projects. It makes zem feel important, so zay work 'arder."
"The bodyguard! He knows your identities! He could cut a deal with the police!" In his shock at how this conversation is going , the henchman forgot that he didn't want to remind them that he also knew their identities.
"We only employ people that know how to keep their mouth shut, you fool," Queen Bee said contemptuously. "Many of our lackeys have been arrested. We have contingencies in place to rescue or kill them. Whichever is necessary."
"It wasn't a failure?"
"Of course not. It was all according to plan." Luthor folded his arms and leaned back in his chair like he dared the henchman to say otherwise.
The henchman's self-preservation skills had apparently gone on vacation with his sanity. "So the building catching fire was part of your plan?"
"Of course," Luthor responded easily.
"And the arrests?"
"All according to plan," Savage repeated Luthor's earlier words.
"You wanted this to happen?" the henchman asked incredulously.
"Sometimes we appear to lose, when we are actually winning," Vandal Savage said. "If you had lived only a fraction of the time I have, you would know that." The henchman wanted to say that 33/50,000ths was a fraction of how long he had lived compared to Savage, but wisely decided it was not time for a math debate.
"So, so, it's okay?"
"Have you not been listening, you imbecile? It is all according to plan. This is why we are leading the Light and not you. You have such short-sighted thinking," Queen Bee said.
"Okay. Okay. So. Okay. I'll just... go now? If that's all?" The 7 leaders of the Light sat there, giving no hint as to whether or not he should leave. "That's all. I'll leave you to it, the world-taking over thing, I mean. You're doing a great job. Okay. I'm going." The henchman was vaguely aware that he was bowing in turn to each of them as he walked backwards to the door. "Thank you for your time. Bye." When he reached the door, the man positively fled down the hallway. He still didn't trust that this wasn't a sick game Luthor had cooked up to torture him before killing him. Maybe it wasn't too late to change his name, move to Sweden, and become a fisherman. Did they have fishermen in Sweden? Didn't matter. He was done working for psychopaths with a god-complex.
The leaders of the Light sat in silence as they listened to the man run down the hall. Then, they waited another full minute before saying anything. It was Klarion who broke the silence first.
"Indeed. This is an unfortunate turn of events. Who would have thought these brats would be as much of an annoyance as they have proven to be?" Ra's asked.
"This was the biggest screw up since... well, since last month when the young heroes foiled our plans," Black Manta spoke up.
"Careful, Manta. You are still new to this organization. You have not proven yourself enough to criticize the Light," Savage said.
"I will criticize whatever and whomever I wish. I take orders from no man," Manta retorted.
"How about a woman? I could make you fall on your knees and worship me," Queen Bee threatened.
"I would like to see you try, you-"
"We should have killed him," Klarion interrupted. He looked like his favorite toy had been taken away from him.
"Who?" Queen Bee asked, argument forgotten.
"That man. Whatever his name was," Klarion said.
"He was not at fault for this mess," Ra's said.
"When has that stopped us in the past?" Klarion said. "We kill people who don't deserve it. We're bad guys."
Ra's considered it and then shook his head. "We've killed eight henchmen in the last month. Between that and the teenage heroes getting them arrested, it would be prudent to show restraint in terminating more employees. "
"Killing people is fun," Klarion pouted.
"That it is, but we're trying to achieve global domination. We don't have the time to interview more applicants," Ra's said.
"Ef we continue to tell the henchmen zat it is according to plan when zere is a disaster, eventually zay will catch on," the Brain interjected.
"We could just open a portal to a demon dimension and kill everyone," Klarion said petulantly. "It's easy to conquer the world if everyone is dead."
"I agree, but what is the fun of ruling over a world if there are no inhabitants to rule over?" Luthor said reasonably.
"We still need new scientists," Manta said, not wanting to be left out of the conversation.
"Fine," Luthor said. "I'll make plans to create a new revenue stream and start looking at applicants for morally questionable scientists."
"Conference call next week at the regular time?" Savage asked. The others nodded.
"So, it's a plan, right? It's all according to-"
"Shut up, Klarion," Luthor said wearily.