The Generic Villain on Preemptive Strikes

Despite the inherently risky nature of our jobs, we Hands of Darkness tend to crave stability. Calm. The ability to carry out our evil plans in peace without some idiot with a Grand Destiny or a four-loaf cleaver getting between us and our goals. And perhaps we’re even good at finding the kinds of people who are likely to oppose us—we’ve checked out the personality tests, read the stars, heard some prophecy that tells us that yeah, it’s definitely this one. What’s the logical thing to do? Go out and smite him, right?

Here’s a question before you pull out the death-spells and the Dooms, though. Have you ever heard of that working?

I’ll tell you exactly what’s going to happen if you go in there and singlehandedly lay waste to the village, attack the little future troublemaker, so on and so forth. Sure, you’ll manage the collateral damage pretty well. Yes, you’ll probably take out his parents, or his mentor, or his sweet younger sibling, or his idol/role model, or…. you get the idea. But odds are something is going to happen, and you’re not going to get him. And then, having been Greatly Wronged By Thee, O Hand of Darkness, insert further dramatics here, he’s going to grow up, show up at your doorstep, and beat the narrative protection out of you for the sake of that which you have destroyed. In short, by attempting to destroy the threat, you create the threat. It’s all so symbolic that you should be able to see it coming a few leagues away in a hailstorm.

But you can’t just leave him alone, now, can you? Who knows what Destiny will do?

If you must interfere with him, you could always try to recruit him instead. Offer him a cushy position, give him training better than that of the average minion, show him just what it is that it gets you, so on and so forth. Just be careful; these inner purity types tend to last about as long as it takes to see your true colors, or rather for an enemy of yours to drag your name through the mud a few times.

One idea I’ve been playing with is a different sort of prevention; in fact, it’s even in the experimental phases. I’ve found myself a protagonist-in-waiting, one of those standard types, brave and handsome and strong and stupid, still in the larval farmboy phase. And I’m not trying to kill him, or corrupt him, or turn him into a small animal or what have you—I’m just trying to see what happens if he goes through his formative years having a completely well-adjusted life. It’s been difficult, mind you; we’ve already had to chase off four barbarian tribes, one of my minions nearly took a falling boulder for him (I wonder on occasion how he would have turned out had said minion been a little less adroit, but they’re not THAT expendable), there was that time with the poisoned grain, and did I mention that perverse little imp who clearly hadn’t gotten the memo? But I’m determined that it will be possible to prove that whatever angst gets past our net will not be my fault. What’s going to happen, I wonder?

And if you really must decide that you have to kill the little brat now, no exceptions, then don’t leave yourself open to failure the way most people do. Go in with a plan. And a contingency. And another contingency. And contingencies in case the contingencies fail. Make sure you know any factor that could possibly foil you. Get the parents, the mentor, the love interest, the role model, and the sweet younger sibling out of there if possible; if you can’t get them out of there, make sure they are disabled, if not dead (so as to keep them from taking the bullet for the little brat). In short, don’t just make it foolproof, make it drama-proof.

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