Ask GV: Staying Self-Justified in Villainy

We’re still on Aywren’s question about staying antagonistic; a long one, yes, but vital to the cause. Without antagonism, we aren’t Hands of Darkness, now, are we?

As I pointed out last week, a good villain needs to have a self-justification that can stand up to long-term contact with people. Not just heroes, mind you, but even people with common decency. We have a knack for running into people who believe in us. Who show devotion, and self-sacrifice, and all those little things that, whether the people mean them to or not, translate into a sort of emotional blackmail towards altruism, to us. As Aywren pointed out in response to last week’s post, caring about someone else or being cared about by someone else can really put us off our darkness.

This, of course, is a problem. What are we without villainy?

So our justifications need to be able to hold up to people going power of love and friendship on us.

One way to do this is strength of justification; these people may be interesting, sure, but the overall goal is more important. While someone sufficiently strong-willed can do this with “The world would be better off if I were in charge” or “All things must eventually end”, oftentimes it’s cleaner to do this with an agenda that would have direct benefits to the ones that matter to us, or those to whom we matter. The world reviles you for what you are? Controlling them so that they no longer do so will keep these people who hang onto you from being reviled with you. The only person you would want to see in charge of much of anything is yourself? Once you’re there, you can give them whatever they want. In need of ultimate power to fulfill a plan? Ultimate power has many uses. Sure, they probably won’t have the long view to understand at the time. But when you’re finished, you can show them why you were right, can’t you?

Another is to tie these people to your justification. We all know how dangerous fanatics are, right? Utilize that power. Go ahead, care—and paint everything you do so that it fits with that caring, no matter how dark. To protect this person, you will destroy all those who threaten them. Sure, they might object, but they don’t have to know, do they? Hold them apart from the world, deal with your darkness in their name. Perhaps you can grant them immortality through placing their consciousness in something more durable, or literally take them away from this world that would so destroy them, so they don’t need to see what it is you do for them. Fill your mind with what you feel they would want you to do, and let those echoes block out their protestations to the contrary. Reinterpret what you do hear them say; you know best, after all, do you not?

If you’re really worried about caring getting in your way, consider subsuming it into other emotions. We already do this when we’re finding love among the ranks of the villainous, don’t we? I knew a family once, a few universes over. Overlord and progeny—twin children, and their older half-sister. The family dynamics were interesting. The twins hated their sister for being their father’s favorite, but lay one hand on the older girl and both of them would be out for blood, as they were the only ones allowed to mess with her. The older one—nice to a fault, caring, honestly thought the world would be a better place if their plans succeeded and could convince almost anyone of anything, but her greater good was her family’s greater good, and she was willing to go against her personal code for it. And the overlord? His offspring were valuable to him—but almost more in the way you’d value a fine vase, or an ancient artifact. He’d allow none to harm them, as they were his, and anyone else to whom he formed an attachment he considered the same way, whether they were on his side or not. And yet he kept his darkness, even when the twins had given up and the eldest had changed sides, even when he himself had been killed and could only live on as a figment in someone else’s mind, even when his main contacts were protagonists. Losing them, he would have taken bloody revenge. If they had opposed him, he would have removed them from his path and corrected their mindsets when he had a free moment. The world was to be under his control; that was all that mattered.

That, then, is what we need. Dedication to our goals, and a willingness to reinterpret those things that stand in our way in a manner that is more… favorable to us and ours. Give us that, and we can keep our devotion to the villainy we are supposed to be performing.

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