By Lexi Anders
“Dream, Dream . . . wake up, Dream!”
I shot up with a start. Abilene, my robot maid, stood next to me. Her eyes glowed in excitement and her tentacles were busy at work. She turned her attention to ironing out a couple shirts now that I was roused.
“Why did you wake me?” I asked, still slightly muddled.
“We have an appointment today, miss,” she replied.
“An appointment? For what?”
“The usual: ‘fancy parties, blah blah’ as you would say.”
“Tell mother and father I won’t be going,” I said and took the shirt she was presently ironing to put on. It was hot against my skin, but I buttoned it anyway and brushed my hair.
“Let me do that, Dream.” Abilene took the brush from me and pulled it gently through my hair. “Are you sure you don’t want to go? It could be fun.”
“Like it has every other time?” I asked sarcastically. “No, I think I’ll pass. You can come up with an excuse. Besides, I have other plans today.”
“Oh? Well, if you promise to take me with you, then I’ll be willing to face your parents.”
She pulled my raven-black hair back into a simple ponytail, knowing how I preferred it and then turned me to face the mirror. I observed her work and nodded in satisfaction. Very practical for the work we had to do today.
“Of course, I’ll be taking you,” I finally responded. “You’re a key part of my plan after all.”
“Now I’m intrigued!” She stretched her tentacles in excitement so that she nearly touched the ceiling.
“Don’t worry, I’ll fill you in in due time, but hurry and tell them I won’t be coming.”
While she was gone I packed up the supplies I would need. I had all the essentials, like my set of tools and my disguise, but a thought struck me. Perhaps I needed a weapon. The best I had was the old hammer I had used to pull up the floorboards. Better than nothing.
“I told the duke and duchess you were feeling ill.” She paused and I would have thought she could have been smiling as she said, “They bought it.”
“Nice work, Abilene. Now let’s get this room set up just in case.”
She drew the curtains to darken the room while I fluffed some pillows into the shape of a sleeping person. I peeled up the rug to reveal my secret trapdoor.
“And what if we get caught?” Abilene wondered.
“You worry too much. When was the last time an evil genius ever got caught?”
Our first stop was the junkyard. Rust coated just about everything there, but with a bit of work it would be good as new.
The day was a bit chilly so I pulled my cloak closer around me. Despite my discomfort the cold was actually to my advantage since we were less likely to run into other scavengers. Plus the usual lingering smell was mostly hidden.
“What are we doing here, my lady? Weren’t we here not too long ago?”
“Yes, but that project failed, remember? This time I have a better plan.”
I wrote down a list of things I needed and handed it to her. “Now let’s meet back here in an hour with our finds. If we need anything else I can hopefully pay for it with my allowance.”
We split up and searched. I took my favorite path and kept an eye out for extra pieces that might also be useful. The towers of stuff made an endless maze that you could get lost in, another reason why it was an ideal place to go, if you knew your way as I did it was perfect to escape any pursuers. I found some of what I was looking for, but kept getting distracted by other parts. Thankfully, Abilene was pretty dedicated and managed to find everything I hadn’t along with a few duplicates. I figured she was more suited to the task anyway since she could use her tentacles to feel her way around in places others might not be able to reach.
“Great! We got everything on the list.” She gathered my supplies from me and held a precarious pile.
“Yes- except, I remembered another thing. I’ll definitely need something in order to transform the compulsory biometric-”
“Let me stop you there, miss.” She held up a tentacle. “You know I don’t have a mind for your complex ideas. If you say you need it I believe you. Where can we find it?”
“This is probably too rare an item to be found in a junkyard, so we’ll have to go into town.”
“I trust you brought your disguise?”
“Who do you take me for?” I pulled out my sharp black mask. She headed to my lair while I went to the market. The piece I wanted was available in the third place I looked. I posed as an apprentice fetching it for my master, although I did get a couple odd looks since I wore the mask. I think I had a talent for acting though, because every time someone asked me before I was able to brush it off as an odd uniform requirement.
I hid the part deep in my cloak and hurried to meet up with Abilene. I turned a shortcut corner and stumbled into a group of dangerous looking people. They were dressed darkly and the little skin that was showing was filled with tattoos and scars.“Excuse me,” I kept my head down and went back to find another way.
“Now wait here, missy.” A short and stocky man grabbed my shoulder. I shook him off and backed up.
“We saw you coming from that fancy store over there. I suppose you probably have some of your masters money to share, eh?” He grinned revealing his crooked, yellow teeth.
“No, sir.” I stood on the more common sidewalk now. Surely someone could see me from one of the nearby shops??
“Now, don’t play that game. We only want-”
“Stop being so easy, Charly.” A tall man pushed him back. “Give us the money and give it to us now, or you’ll regret it.”
“I’ll regret it will I?” I glowered. Who was I for them to treat me this way? The impertinence! Wanting my money was one thing, but to threaten me, too? My hand tightened around my hammer. The man took a step forward to put more pressure on me. In one moment he was reaching for me and the next he was on the ground holding his stomach.
I dropped my weapon and ran. I heard shouts behind me and saw a soldier rushing to the scene and the group pointed after me. Oh, no. Not again.
I probably could have just walked away and those robbers wouldn’t have risked trying to take me, but I just had to escalate the situation. If I got caught now my parents would find out. Before I could even execute my plan!
Luckily, Abilene came to my rescue. I was anxiously searching for a place to slip away as the soldier gained ground on me, when she pulled me down an alley. We came to a dead end and then she lifted me up onto the rooftops. Immediately, she slithered off towards the lair, but I hesitated and looked back one moment. The soldier came running down the alley, looked up and we made eye-contact.
I smiled and couldn’t help myself- I blew a kiss and ran on.
My lair was an old house that my parents had bought long ago and was now forgotten. It had all the appearance of an abandoned building with the weeds taking over the yard and the brick wall cracked with age, but inside was where I secretly worked on my fantastic plots. Plots so devious and so impressive, one would know immediately that the author was a mastermind.
After all, who else had discovered a way to take over the world at the age of seventeen?
Abilene was thrilled with my new idea and the magnificent role she would get to play as my henchman. She was a little disappointed to find that I had been working on this project longer than she had known of, but all is easily forgiven when flamethrowers are to be added to your capabilities. So I got to work upgrading her.
As I experimented, my mind was lost in visions of my victory. How great it would be to have them all at my feet and obeying my every word! No more tedious parties, instead we would have great science shows where the best chemist would join my team of brilliant intellects. All this would pass, of course, after I had conquered the nations one by one. The mere sight of my creation would surely bring them to their knees.
“Umm, Dream?” Abilene interrupted my thoughts. “So where will I recharge?”
This simple question shattered my fantasy. She was right. There was no current way to keep her fully charged all the time. After all, even with the installation of solar panels, it would absorb too much energy to function all the time. This meant there would always be a period where my creation was vulnerable and in that time I would be defeated.
What would probably work best is if I could make multiple machines that could trade out, but I certainly didn’t have the money or pieces for that much. It would take years to accomplish and I didn’t even have space in this building for that many. Unless . . .“Abilene, have you ever wanted to go in the ocean?”
“Why yes, my lady, how did you know? It’s been a dream of mine since I was informed that my model was based on a creature that dwells in the sea. I’m curious to see how my system would fare in its intended environment.”
“Wonderful!” I exclaimed. “Well, we might get to find out soon enough.”
The new plan was to start off taking over trade passages with Abilene acting as a sort of Kraken. Then, I would reveal myself as the mastermind, slowly grow a following, and, with the riches I took from passing boats, I could make a factory to mass-produce my minions. Abilene would always hold a special place with me, of course, she could even be a general in the future.For the moment, I set about really waterproofing her new model. Then I hooked her up to transfer the AI interface. This would be good so she could easily switch back and forth to continue playing the role of my maid and we would stay out of suspicion. By that evening I felt we were on the verge of success, but I had to hurry back home before my parents came to check on me.
I returned and was getting dressed for bed when my mother came in.
“Oh, it’s good to see you’re feeling better.” she said, sweeping down my dirty attire. “I just went for a walk to get some fresh air and-”
“Save your excuses, darling.” She held up a finger and came over to kiss me on the head. Then, she continued a little more seriously. “I understand you don’t like our parties, but you have to keep up appearances . . . I expect you to go to the academy tomorrow without any problems.”
“I love you.”
“Alright, now you get some rest.”
I sighed. On top of the horrible job of upholding one’s reputation to drain me, she constantly treated me like a child. Now if I controlled everything, I wouldn’t have to worry about what other people think because they would just follow my orders without question! Yes, having that kind of authority would make life so much easier. And there was no way anyone would dare look down on me.
“So what’s the plan, Dream?” Abilene asked me.
“You heard her, I have to go to school tomorrow.”
“That’s never stopped you before.”
My spirit came back and I grinned. “You’re right. And it won’t stop me now.”
A soldier came around asking questions that day. Some rumor came to me that they suspected one of us students to have assaulted someone yesterday . . . Quite strange.
A girl that had a job as an apprentice. With my wealthy status I didn’t suspect anyone to actually glance twice at me, why would I need money? It was ludicrous.
However, when the soldier finally made his rounds and came to our class, we locked eyes quickly. I averted mine and looked out the window as though uninterested. He talked to a couple of the students before heading to me.He tapped my desk and I looked up as if I had been unaware of his presence. It was the same soldier who had been chasing me. He was pretty young, they must have him dealing with the less important cases.“How can I help you, sir?” I asked charmingly. My voice naturally took on a strange falsetto as if for an inadvertent screen.
His eyes searched mine.“Do you happen to know anyone who might fit this description?” He held out a piece of paper. On it was my approximate height, hair color, et cetera.
“Well,” I chuckled after a moment, “if I didn’t know any better I would say it was describing me.”
“What’s your name, miss?”
“Excuse me?” he asked politely.
“My name is Dream.” I smiled. It was always interesting to see how people would react to my name. Some thought it was strange, others thought it was pretty. He didn’t mention it but continued.
“Well, if you can think of anyone who might be involved with this kind of thing, please report it,” he said and walked on.
How useless. Soldiers can’t even catch one felon. Not that I was complaining. I didn’t need them on my tail when my story hadn’t even begun, I just knew that it would have to change once I began to rule.
When lunchtime came, I planned to make my escape and finish up my project so we could implement the plan. So, I found an abandoned classroom and lifted the window to get out. Before I could slip out the door opened and the soldier who had been asking so many questions earlier entered. I quickly pulled my leg back from the window hoping he hadn’t seen. I curtsied and he walked closer, inspecting me. I leaned away warily.
“Does this belong to you?” he asked me, holding out an old hammer.
I blinked back recognition. “Why would you think a lady, such as myself, would be carrying around such a thing?” I responded and spun away.
“For self-defense, I assume, considering that the lady who used it fought off some ruffians with it,” he said knowingly.
“And do I strike you as the sort to go around beating up ruffians?” I replied innocently.
“What if you do?”
My eyes widened at his silent accusation. “My, my . . .” I held a hand to my heart and smothered a laugh. “Never in my life has anyone said such a disrespectful thing to me. What is your name?”
“It’s Koresh,” he answered unafraid and cocked his head. “Yet, I must say, it seems to me that you’re more amused than offended by my insinuation.”
“Why, it’s so outrageous that it’s hard not to laugh at.” I shrugged.
“Coming from someone who was about to climb out a window in a dress.”
So he had seen! I blushed and changed my tone a bit.
“Listen kid, I’m eccentric, it’s true. That doesn’t mean I pick fights. What would I even be doing in that area? I was sick yesterday. As far as I can see, you don’t have anything on me, so I suggest you look elsewhere. Now if you’ll excuse me.” Then I slipped out the window and shut it behind me.
He kept looking at me from the other side of the glass and temptation overtook me again and I winked. Then I ran away.
I don’t think he ever bothered trying to follow me, but I was careful to zig-zag through the streets nonetheless, to make sure I lost any tails.
Abilene was waiting for me when I finally came in.
“What took you so long, Dream?” she asked.
“Just dealing with a fool.” I said and got to work.
After some laboring I fixed a couple flaws with new eyes and we were both ready to try it out, but my time was up so I promised to come straight there after school.
I put my mask on and pulled down my hood. Since I was running short on time I would take the shortcut through town. I passed the narrow street where I had hit that man and heard a voice call behind me. I barely glanced back, but already knew it was that harebrained soldier.
This time I would have to lose him myself. I ran to a crowd and weaved through while keeping my path towards the academy. When I looked back he was still following me although less nimbly. He seemed to know where I was heading, well, he did believe the perpetrator went to our school . . . so I would have to head away from it.
I ducked down an alleyway and jumped a fence, which ripped a piece of my dress, but I didn’t slow down but hid behind a trash bin and waited. He hurdled over the fence and didn’t stop, but turned automatically toward the school. I counted for a minute and then calmly came out and headed the long way to school so I would get out of this area. When I got close I pulled off my mask and ran again.
I was definitely late, with no good explanation. I tried to spin some tale about how I had gone out for some food and my dress got stuck in between some boards and they tried to help me free it without ripping it, but in the end I was worried about how late it was getting and let it rip.
“Miss Dream, you should know we don’t allow students to leave the building for lunch. That’s how things like this happen.” My teacher scolded. While she was upset, at least she believed it . . . This wasn’t the first time I had gotten in trouble. I was rather notorious for being a rabble-rouser.
“But I didn’t even go far!” I exclaimed as if I was facing injustice, it was always good to put up a fight so they couldn’t tell this was actually not as bad a punishment as you were afraid of.
“Tell that to your parents.”
I grumbled, but went back to my desk without arguing, there I found my hammer resting innocently on the chair. That soldier . . . how did he know? Whatever, maybe he was just trying to pressure me by making me feel guilty. There was no way he had any real proof.
Normally if something like this happened it was wiser to head straight home because my parents had many words to say to me, but I already had plans. My parents probably wouldn’t even be home until late, so hopefully Abilene could cover for me and say I had been home the whole time.
We quickly transferred Abilene over to my masterpiece. It was a great monstrous thing, and we had a hard time getting it outside. The doors were just too small, so finally I removed the windows that stretched across one wall and we stacked them inside. I would have to replace them another time, but that wasn’t important now.
I crawled into the “cockpit” and we slunk into the river. She swam well and after a little while we managed to reach the outlet into the ocean. Swimming up river might be harder, but we could worry about that later. Presently, we looked for our first prey and found it quickly.
I directed Abilene to lift the ship into the air and she performed the task easily. Screams trickled down to us and I thought I could make out “It’s the Kraken!” even from inside my metal chamber. I stepped out theatrically onto one of her tentacles and threatened the people in the ship.
“You will hand over all your goods now or I will have the Kraken drown you!”
They complied and Abilene lifted up their treasures for me to push into the metal chamber. After only one ship it was too full to continue, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to fit inside as well.
We headed back and counted out our goods. I would have to start making slow trips to sell them at the market so I wouldn’t raise suspicion.
My parents berated me when I got home, but they were satisfied once I vowed not to go out during lunch again.
Obviously, since our first run was such a success, I spent every lunch out trying to pawn off the stolen goods little by little so we could go on our next trip. I raised a decent amount, but it wasn’t enough. I did decide to invest in making the connection between the octobot and Abeline’s real model wireless, that way we didn’t have to spend so long hooking her up every time and she could be transferred from a distance in case of any emergencies.
We held another couple runs and became decently famous. In town everyone was talking about us and people were a bit more wary to go out in the ships. Several “bounty hunters” had even been hired and we faced them on the ships, but none of them were a match against my giant metal monster.
I went into town to get some more supplies to celebrate and was tapped casually on the shoulder.
“Has anyone ever told you that you’re very pretty?”
The words started out of my mouth before I even turned to see who it was, “No, they always say I’m dreamy.”
Then I was looking at the soldier, Koresh.
“Well, hello there.” he said. I started.
“Now, wait a moment!” Koresh called as I darted down the street. “I’m not going to arrest you.”
I came to a deadend and Abilene wasn’t there to help me. I balanced on a crate and tried to climb up, but the stone crumbled in the few handholds I got.
“It looks like you could use some help there,” he said, coming up behind me.
I spun back, so now I had a real showdown, huh? Alright, I wouldn’t go down without a fight. I jumped off the crate and swung a kick. He easily dodged.
“Hey now.” he put his hands up to show they were empty. “I just want to talk-”
I punched him in the stomach and he doubled over. I winced seeing my hit land.
“Sorry, I’m not one to talk.” I patted his shoulder and then I was running again.
I had to do something about that kid. He kept finding me and if that didn’t change he might actually uncover something.
Abilene was unconcerned about the issue. She was too enthralled by the picture of her likeness on a wanted poster.
“I just don’t think they got my best side.” She turned this way and that, looking into a mirror and then back at the picture.
“Abilene,” I snapped, “we have a real problem!”
“Then fix it.” she said simply.
I thought for a moment.
“We need a new base. This one can be linked back to us too easily. For now let’s move the most important stuff to the junkyard, we can clear out a space there and hide it pretty well. There’s no way we can fit the octobot though.”
“I thought we called it the Kraken!” she protested.
“That’s only for show, there’s only one Kraken and clearly it’s not a robot.”
She pouted, but accepted my explanation.
So we moved a good amount of our stuff and set up a new base in the junkyard, using some nearby junk to lock it well. If anything happened we could always come here and run away with it.
We had one last heist planned, but one of those pesky hunters managed to scrape the octobot, so I had to do some repairs. I carefully referenced some schematics I had drawn up because any slight change might make the machine malfunction and that could be a problem if you’re underwater in the middle of the ocean . . . just maybe.
This last trip led to empty waters. There didn’t seem to be a boat in sight even after I pulled up my telescope. Then finally an unassuming ship pulled out onto the sea.
The usual plot was implemented and the ship was lifted into the air. Then a crowd of soldiers rushed out to fight as if it was an ambush. The Kraken easily swept them back and I walked out to deliver my speech, but before I got to the end I saw a soldier creeping up to the entrance I just exited.
I rushed back to confront him and we stood facing off at the door. It was that brat, Koresh. I pulled out the only weapon I had at my disposal, the old hammer. I had been carrying it around on my missions, since it had proved useful in the past.
He glanced at it and smiled. “So it is you.”
I swung it at him and he ducked into the cockpit.
“I’ll only warn you once! Get out!” I yelled and followed him.
He brought out his sword and pointed it at me while he shuffled backwards deeper into the chamber. “Listen, you’ve already lost this, just come in quietly. I’m sure they’ll go easy on you since you’re a minor.”
“Be quiet.” I rolled under his sword and swung the hammer at his leg.
He yelled and stabbed downward out of reflex. I narrowly avoided it and stood between him and the electronics board. He would probably try to bring it down, but if he messed with the wrong thing it might explode. So, little did he realize, but by beating him up I was probably saving his life.
He eyed me and swiped at my hand, I jerked back but still got nicked and dropped the hammer.
“I didn’t want to hurt you,” he said and lowered his sword a little.
“And neither did I.” I reached backwards and flicked a switch.
He raced forward, but then realized nothing had happened.
“What was that? Very anticlimactic.” he turned to me.
“Oops, I guess it stopped working.” I elbowed him in the face, and then twisted his arm so he released the sword.
The door flew open and several more soldiers poured in. I held onto Koresh, but they continued to edge closer and he directed them to the off switch.
The octobot lurched and began to sink rapidly. I shoved Koresh forward and sprang for the door. A soldier grabbed me and I slashed the sword towards him, but stopped at the last second seeing where it would land.
He froze and slowly loosened his grip. I stepped back onto the tentacle, but found it had moved as it relaxed and empty air was below me.
I dropped into the icy water.
They brought me a couple blankets to warm up, but I refused to sit down. Instead I stared out over the sea to maintain my air of dignity.
Koresh stayed close to guard me and make sure I didn’t try anything stupid. I knew when I had been bested though.
“How did you catch me?” I asked.
“I always knew you were the one who had been downtown even if I didn’t have proof. Then there were the reports of the pirate wearing a mask, which I didn’t really put together, since that seemed a bit unreasonable. It was only natural a pirate might wear a mask, it didn’t necessarily mean you were connected. Really I was just doing my job and trying to figure out why you would be downtown when I found out that your family owned that other property. Once I discovered that it was pretty easy. You even left the schematics about how to shut down your robot.”
I listened intently to his tale that had led to my demise. At the very least this might help me learn from my mistakes in the future.
“I believe you’ve proven yourself worthy to be my arch-nemesis, Koresh.”He raised an eyebrow quizzically.
“You’re a rather proud one aren’t you?”
“I don’t suppose you can say that you’ve accomplished as much as me?” I asked with full confidence.
“And what for? It’s over now. Why did you have to do it anyway?”
“Isn’t it obvious?” I was genuinely confused, he had seen my whole secret lair after all. “I’m going to rule the world one day.”
He shook his head and led me down onto the dock.
“Don’t look down upon my lady!” Abilene appeared from the shadows. She pushed Koresh back and stood between us. “Dream really will, so you had best not cross her now.”
I knew she would come to my rescue. The switch I flipped had been meant to send her consciousness back to her regular model, then she could come and help me.
“I can’t imagine there’s any way that she could take over the world from behind bars.” Koresh said and I found we were already surrounded by more soldiers who awaited on the dock.
“Ah, but perhaps, if you were me, you could dream.” I said. He didn’t laugh at my pun.
We were put into the back of a prison carriage along with the chest of our stuff locked up and were carted off down the bumpy road. Nothing in the chest was too important but they were knickknacks I had held onto and it was sad to think we wouldn’t have them anymore.
That’s when reality hit me more fully. My parents would probably disown me now, and I would go to jail. What a tragic end for my talent. Even my escape had failed miserably.
“Dream, seeing as how this plan hasn’t worked out, I’ve been thinking . . . perhaps we need to take a new approach to take over the world.” Abilene offered slowly. I sat up to look at her.
“Oh,” I said glumly, “and what’s that?”
“Perhaps we can win the world with less . . . violence and more ideals?”
“Like what?” I asked doubtfully.
“Well, people often see things metaphorically, right? So maybe we can inspire people by looking at things in a new way. For example,” she lifted up the lid to our stuff as if it had always been unlocked, “this telescope might represent how we can always be looking ahead for the next opportunity, always searching for a way forward- in life and in our society.”
“Yeah, and this lantern,” I pulled it out, “represents my fear of the dark.”
“We-well, how about this book!” She held it in her tentacle. “Perhaps it represents the attainment of knowledge, a worthwhile pursuit for all.”
“Oh, oh!” I cried, feigning enthusiasm. “Then this scroll might represent forgotten knowledge.” As I held it up to see the now blurry letters, it ripped.
“It’s not my fault, it was wet, you couldn’t even read what it said anyway.” I threw it out between the bars of the carriage window. “I thought of a great one, though.” I continued, pulling out my pouch of allowance and counting out some money. “Maybe, this pouch of money I have represents bribery.”
“You’ll only get in more trouble . . . Instead, maybe you should use this key.” she held it up.
“And what? Open his heart and convince him to let us go?” I scoffed. “I think this hammer represents how I’m going to hit you over the head- with a hammer!” I threatened.
“Wait, wait! I meant that this is the key that will let us out. I pickpocketed it.”
I stared at her in amazement. I didn’t bother asking her why she hadn’t offered it sooner. I would have done the same.
“You really are my henchman.” I hugged her strange figure.
The door came open without difficulty, giving me a breath of sweet liberty. Wasn’t it typical for an evil genius to be foiled before reaching their triumph?
We counted to three and then jumped into the night.
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