SYOL (Take 2)
My second attempt at writing SYOL from 2013. Orange's family is dead, most of his limbs are gone, and the future would've been unpleasant for him even if he was whole and not alone. So, he figures, might as well team up with that evil overlord that just invaded.
When he came to, he wasn’t sure what was happening. A high-pitched buzzing filled his ears, and all he could see was a few spots scattered around utter blackness. Barely able to feel the ground beneath him amidst the pain, he attempted to sit up. His body strongly disagreed with him, as did the hand – that’s what he assumed it to be, anyway – on his chest. As his memories suddenly came flooding back, so too did his vision.
At his side was a pink blur in the shape of a woman, slowly solidifying to reveal a face that was clearly surprised to see he was alive. She turned to look at the figure behind her, and though he could only barely turn his head to follow her, he knew precisely who he was looking at.
Hair made of flames, skin made of stars, eyes like aquariums, and crystalline horns – the one who towered above him was none other than the All-Conquering Overlord, Hadris Torant. Or, in other words, the reason he lay here dying.
As the two exchanged inaudible words, he opened his mouth and tried to speak. All that came out was blood, but he was determined to have his final words heard. His eyes drifted up to the overlord’s and fell as he at last found his voice.
“I really like your tie.”
Orange entered the waiting room, brimming with confidence. Today was the day! At long last, he was finally going to become a full-fledged intern! Well, assuming he aced this interview, which was sure to be no simple task. After all, it was with the overlord himself. The biggest of the big, the baddest of the bad, the man who conquered planets in his sleep; honestly, Orange was half-expecting to not make it out of the room alive. But the other half? Ready for anything!
He straightened his tie as he made his way over to the secretary’s desk, making sure he didn’t have a hair out of place before daring to say anything. Well, aside from that one stubborn strand of hair that was always ridiculously out of place, but surely that was excusable. He hoped.
“Good morning, sir! How can I help you today?” the secretary asked, beaming even more brightly than Orange. She was a familiar face to him: her name was FLO – always in capital letters as written on her many nametags – and she happened to work almost everywhere in the overlord’s dimension. He wasn’t entirely sure how she did so, but he was operating under the assumption that FLO was actually just a name given to a collection of perky blue-haired women that operated under a hivemind. Nothing really unusual for this dimension, as Orange had come to learn.
“I’m here for an appointment with the overlord at 9:30.” He answered with a smile. FLO smiled wider in response, and Orange felt tempted to try and one-up her. What if this was part of the interview process? What if only the widest of smilers were granted the opportunity to become otherworldly coffee slaves?
“Wonderful! Then just take a seat anywhere and I’ll tell you when he’s ready for you!” she instructed. Orange nodded and sat down in one of the unbelievably comfortable chairs, taking a deep breath as he checked his watch. He had half an hour to kill, so he picked up a magazine and didn’t even manage to get to the table of contents before something plowed through the wall next to him. He jumped and looked through the hole in the way to see a musclebound man lying in the rubble, almost immediately surrounded and whisked away by the members of the overlord’s defense team who had most certainly not been there five seconds ago.
FLO peered into the hole behind her; evidently the overlord had seen it fit to escort his last guest through both the wall of his office and the wall of the waiting room. Orange expected nothing less from the overlord, not that that did anything to calm his nerves. After all, what if that man got literally thrown out for not smiling widely enough?!
Before Orange could register the panic building up within him, FLO turned to him with a smile wider then ever.
“I think he’s ready for you now!”
Orange stared blankly back at her, his smile frozen on his face.
Summoning the last of his confidence to the surface, Orange brushed himself off and opened the door to the overlord’s office, figuring it would be polite to ignore the gaping hole in the wall.
Inside was an office so typical that the only indication it belonged to a galaxy-conquering borderline-deity was the presence of the galaxy-conquering borderline-deity himself. The hole in the wall and the signs of struggle were a little telling, too, but they weren’t there on a regular basis. As far as Orange knew, anyway.
“Ah, Orange! Come in, take a seat!” the overlord welcomed, flipping the overturned chair in front of his desk back to its upright position with a snap of his fingers. Orange quickly seated himself, almost forgetting to smile as widely as physically possible. With any luck, he wouldn’t get thrown through the wall next, and if he did then maybe the overlord would be satisfied enough with his grin width to throw him through the hole that was already there.
“My apologies for the mess. Interviewees always trying to assassinate you, you know how it is.” He continued, paying no attention to Orange’s facial distortion.
“So that wasn’t because he didn’t smile hard enough?”
“I understand completely.”
“Wonderful! Then let’s get this show on the road, shall we?” the overlord began anew, a manila folder suddenly appearing in his hand.
“You know, Orange, your record’s pretty impressive.” He said, flipping through the folder without actually looking at its contents before tossing it behind him. The papers within slipped out an fluttered to the floor, vanishing into thin air before they could reach it.
“Graduated at the top of your class! Didn’t betray and murder anyone at all! Definitely a plus, definitely a plus.” He nodded, almost sounding as though he was talking to himself.
The class in mention didn’t refer to any of Orange’s schooling – he did well enough in school, but he certainly hadn’t graduated at the top of his class – but rather a year-long course he had been required to take before being allowed to apply for a job (and the residency that came with it) in the overlord’s personal dimension. Said class was created to give applicants an overview of the overlord’s history and goals, and of course to educate everyone on the rules they were expected to live by. Orange had found it to be an incredibly intriguing course that was easy to pay attention to, but he didn’t feel like now was the right time to be mentally rambling on about prior events.
“Oh! Thank you, Mr. All-Conquering Overlord Hadris Torant, sir!” he thanked hastily.
“But let’s get real, Orange.” The overlord continued, voice suddenly darker. Orange’s face froze on a smile again. The overlord allowed the silence to linger for a moment, as if he had completely forgotten what to say, but when he resumed speaking he did so as if he had never stopped in the first place.
“I’ve known you for a while now, kid, and I think you’re perfectly cut out for the job. Maybe a little too cut out for it. You sure you don’t want anything more than doing odd jobs for whoever?” he asked earnestly, much to Orange’s surprise.
“I just think it might be for the best to start small before tackling where I want to fit in the organization. I’d really like to get to know everyone around here and understand how things operate from the ground up. You can’t really add anything to a machine if you don’t know any of the parts and how they work, right?”
Orange bit his tongue. Though everything he had learned and experienced told him that the overlord was a mostly benevolent one, what if he had just said the wrong thing? He was, after all, the overlord; he didn’t really need to try and understand his underlings if he didn’t feel like it. Orange wouldn’t have worried so much about it if it wasn’t for Hadris’ subsequent silence, though at this point it seemed like falling into silence was a habit of his.
“Hmm… I suppose I can understand that.” He spoke, much to Orange’s relief. “Then that settles it, doesn’t it? Welcome aboard!”
Were his ears malfunctioning? Did he just hear the words he thought he heard? It couldn’t have been that simple, could it have been? That was hardly a job interview. Of course, Orange wasn’t about to complain. His life for the past year or two had revolved around getting this job, and he’d finally done it without even needing to get knocked through a wall!
The overlord held out his hand, a dark and spindly thing that wrapped around Orange’s like a demonic tree hungering for innocent flesh. Orange didn’t mind it, of course, his only concern being that he may have been shaking the overlord’s hand a little too excitedly.
“Thank you very much, Mr. All-Conquering Overlord Hadris Torant, sir! I’ll do my absolute best for you! I won’t let you down!” Orange assured him, absolutely glowing.
“That’s great! Because you know what happens to people who disappoint me.”
There went his face again.
“Kidding! Kidding, kidding. No, no, I only torture and utterly destroy traitors.” He chuckled, “And please, don’t be so formal! Call me Drew, son!”
Orange blinked. “Of course, Mr. Drew, sir.”
Hadris stood up, “Now then, let’s get you set up, shall we?”
He walked over to the hole in the wall and stepped through it, gesturing for Orange to do the same. He did so hurriedly, following the overlord back over to FLO’s desk.
“All right, FLO, hook Orange up with the usual, would you?” Hadris requested.
“Right away, boss!” FLO saluted, rummaging through her desk and producing three items: a blank nametag, a small book, and a cell phone.
“Nametag!” the overlord announced, slapping the nametag on Orange’s chest. He snapped and Orange’s name immediately appeared on it. Before he could ooh or aah, the book was thrust into his hands.
“Rulebook! Should be the same as the one as you usually have, but…”
“It’s hardcover!” Orange gasped. It was so hard, so covered… he couldn’t help but stare.
“Precisely! Hardcover is the choice of champions!” Hadris stated with pride. “Now, last but certainly not least, your buzzer!”
Hadris handed Orange the cell phone, which evidently wasn’t really a cell phone despite looking exactly like one. It was a rather large flip phone, which much to Orange’s surprise when he opened it featured a touch screen and far too many buttons.
“I highly advise against losing that. Your buzzer’s your life, kid.”
Given who was talking to him, Orange decided to take that literally.
“Anyone with a higher rank then you has the number for that, and they can call you at any time with job requests. So keep an eye on it, would you?”
“Of course, Mr. Drew, sir!” Orange affirmed. “I’ll never let it leave my sight!”
Orange promptly let it leave his sight as he slipped it into his pocket.
“Perfect! Then it looks like we’re done here! Your number won’t be in the directory until tomorrow, so you’ll start then! Which works out wonderfully, since you’ll need to move in and all.” Hadris concluded.
“Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a traitor to deal with. Have a nice day!”
The overlord promptly exited through the hole in the wall, leaving Orange alone with FLO, who gave him a thumbs up.
“Welcome to the team, Mr. Orange!” she congratulated him.
All Orange managed to respond with was excited incoherent babbling. From this moment onward, he was officially a member of All-Conquering Overlord Hadris Torant’s multi-universe-spanning force! Sure, he was just an intern, but he was something!
For better or worse.