This was a test. Over the past twenty four hours, I had put a lot of thought into how I could sway this boy over to my side legitimately; I got the feeling he’d end up being helpful when I stabbed Sirio in the back. Sure, the threatening bit would work initially, but I needed more than that. I needed him to want to serve me, regardless of some promise he made. If I could release him from that promise with confidence that he’d choose me anyway, that would only help gain his trust.
For that I needed a plan.
After an hour or two of brainstorming, the kitchen table looked like a wasteland where a yellow legal pad factory once stood. The floor was littered with the crumpled and, in some cases, singed remains of my discarded plans. I had gone through every idea in the book, eliminating them systematically.
Plan 1: Order him to kill someone, it’ll be fun, he’ll get addicted.
While that seemed like a genius plan at first, it occured to me that this boy had morals. Morals. How inconvenient. Regardless, if I pointed him at a random stranger and said go for it, chances were he would refuse, which would result in me forcing him, and that would just make him hate me even more. Of course I wanted him to fear me on some level, but not hate me. Though perhaps I wasn’t doing the best job with that one.
Plan 2: Be the father figure he’s missing in his life.
That was a solid plan, but I didn’t think it could stand alone. I couldn’t imagine him showing up later that night and me tossing him the keys, saying, “Son, I think it’s time I teach you how to drive.” No. Also if he didn’t know how to drive by then, that would be kind of sad. Shooting a gun, though, that could be fun. Or picking up women. Yes, this was a plan I could incorporate into my Master Plan™. I set it aside.
Plan 3: Cure his sister, bake some apology cookies, and be super nice.
I don’t even know why I wrote that one down.
Plan 4: Kill his sister and be there to support him through the emotional turmoil.
Now, I wasn’t the best judge of people and their emotions and whatnot, but the longer I looked at this one, the more it seemed like something that wouldn’t work. I’m not sure exactly what struck me as off, but there was something. Personally, I thought that would be a rather neat and tidy way of severing emotional ties and hopefully getting rid of that god awful weakness of his, but I had a feeling that plan would backfire. I marked it “Plan B.”
In the end, I settled on a plan - a true Master Plan™. It consisted of a series of tests, after which I would flatter him, inflate his ego and show my approval. Assuming he could complete them, that was, but if he couldn’t, there was really no reason in even trying to recruit him. After these tests, I would make us some tea and lay out my vision for the future of the world, and give him a place of honor in that version of events. Whether or not that would come to pass wasn’t the point. Then, I would show him my powers, what I could do, and what he could learn beyond curing his sister so that after he managed that - if he managed that - he would be addicted to the power and return to me for more. The plan was flawless.
Well, the plan was flawless except for, of course, all the major flaws. What if he didn’t pass the tests? What if he couldn’t get over that whole morality and sympathy thing he had going? What if he couldn’t actually control the shadows? What if he, God forbid, thought Leonardo DiCaprio actually deserved an Oscar? There were so many ways this could go wrong.
I glanced at the clock. It was getting late, and I didn’t have any more time to waste on deciding on a plan. It was time to just put what I had into action. The preparations took me the remaining few hours before Damian was to arrive, and in the five minutes until midnight, I slipped down into the Nether to keep an eye on things via my shadows. It was a very convenient hiding spot, and I could see everything in my mind as clearly as if I were squatting in an uncomfortable and far too constraining air vent. Trust me, I would know.
Damian seemed to keep me waiting for an eternity. Of course the boy would be late. Oddly enough, I hoped his tardiness was an act of rebellion and not mere irresponsibility on his part. There was no way I could depend on an irresponsible serven- er, apprentice. No, that’s not quite right… Oh well, I figured I’d settle on a good description later. This was time to focus.
Minion, I decided in the copious amount of time I had to think while waiting for that useless excuse for a minion. Or no, maybe calling him a minion was too cool. He might let it go to his head. Accomplice? Too equal. Accessory? He might be pathetic, but he wasn’t a handbag. Fine. Minion it was.
Up in the house, I sensed a shift in the shadows on the front porch. I heard Damian knock briefly, and I could see him standing in front of the door, his expression as dark as his outfit. Controlling the shadows from afar, I opened the door. Damian looked inside warily, as if expecting me to jump out and surprise him. Well, if it was a surprise he wanted…
I slammed the door in his face and derived a strange amount of glee from the tiny hop backwards he gave. Scowling even further, Damian ran a hand through his straight hair, pushing it back from his eyes, and knocked again. This time, he stepped in immediately after I opened the door, probably thinking it was on some sort of timer or something. I hoped he didn’t know I was watching; that would make this whole thing so much more fun.
Damian picked up the cream colored notecard that I had placed on the table by the door and marked with his name in flowing calligraphy. What can I say? I’ve got style. I watched as his eyes scanned the instructions, then I smiled.
The testing had begun.