A/N: If you aren't ready to read tons of gratuitous torture, then don't touch this story with a ten foot pole. This chapter, mostly review of the episode, isn't too bad, but It Gets Worse. This has been a PSA.
An enemy is just a friend you haven't made yet.
Except Lord Dominator had vampirized every last planet in the galaxy but one. She wrecked lives with gleeful abandon, and laughed as she took away everything familiar and loved. If she caught word that a single planet still survived, it wouldn't any longer. The planet and its refugee inhabitants would be…. Would be….
Wander swallowed hard. He couldn't finish that thought. An enemy is just a friend you haven't made yet. He had to remember that.
But... There was a huge blaring red difference between Dominator and all the other villains Wander had encountered. Dominator didn't want to conquer. She wanted to kill. And that – that was so beyond Wander's comprehension. So inanely beyond what was normal, what was okay, and –
"Stop it, Wander," he scolded himself. "It's up to you. You can't flake out here."
He slunk around another molten pillar. The sulfuric lava stench stung the inside of his throat – didn't Dominator ever get tired of hot rock and lava? Didn't she ever wish for fresh air? The sun? Or flowers?
Remembering the single flower that Dominator had systematically mutilated, Wander fought off another tide of despair. Doing evil was not the same as being evil, he reminded himself.
He needed to get Dominator's attention before any more doubts could swamp him. "Um, hello?" his voice cracked; he cleared his throat and tried again, bolder, "Dominator? I just wanted to stop by, have a chat – is this a bad time?"
A drone of distant noise erupted deep in the ship's bowels. Wander tensed as the sound rapidly gained ground and decibels. Soon enough, dozens of Dombots rushed into focus and circled Wander completely.
"Ee!" He cowered as guns emerged from each bot and primed themselves to shoot.
Wander gulped. Okay, big moment – he needed to keep himself alive long enough to talk with –
"Bots, stand down," came an imperious voice from the shadows.
Lord Dominator. She… she had called off the robots!
The tiny machines parted obediently as the villain herself stepped into view, armorless and wearing a coy smile.
"Oh, look! It's my favorite little wanderer! Great to see you. I have been sooo bored."
"You're not going to have them destroy me?" Wander eyed the bots.
"What? Of course not!"
"R-really?" An inadvertent grin began to sneak its way up his face.
Wander sprang up. "Yes! I knew there was some good in you!"
"See," Dominator continued in a tone bordering playful, "why would I have them kill you? You're, like, the only interesting dork alive in this galaxy! I'm keeping you all for myself!"
That… didn't sound good. Wander had the sense to take a step back. "Uh… Whaddaya mean by that?"
Dominator grinned, but it was far from friendly. "Run," she hissed.
That was all warning he got before a jet of lava fried the tips of his fur. He was running before the following icicle staked itself exactly where he had been previously standing.
Dominator's laughter rang in his head as he careened down the hallway – oh Grop, she was enjoying this!
Another lava blast cracked the floor beneath his feet and he screeched, vaulting over the shrapnel. Her laughter ratcheted up a notch.
"Wow, I didn't know I was gonna get to see a dance routine!" she yelled after him. "Come on, show me what other moves you've got!"
"I just want to help you!" Wander yelled back, veering away from a stream of lava. "Can't we talk it out? I want to get to the root of your paa-AAHH!" Something struck him hard in the leg – for a second, he didn't know if it was heat or cold, but the question was answered when he went tumbling head over heels and glimpsed a cage of ice encasing his knee. He landed hard on his face and the ice cracked against the floor. "Oof!"
"Ohh, does that sting?" Dominator's voice taunted, now suddenly much closer. "My bad – I wanted it to burn!"
A molten hand clamped down on his knee, and the thick reek of burning fur nearly choked off his scream - nearly.
"Sttoooopp, stop, stop – Grop, oh –" His expression contorted and another howl ripped itself from his throat.
Finally Dominator removed her hand. In its place, the entire middle section of his leg was furless and scalded like cooked meat.
"A-ah," Wander's outstretched hands trembled as they beheld this ruined appendage, this thing that was once a healthy functioning leg. Tears welled in his eyes. "O-oh Grop…."
Dominator sighed and tossed her hair over her shoulder. "Don't be a wimp. If you're gonna act this way after just one injury, then you're barely worth keeping around."
Wander dug his teeth into his lips. His quivering eyes craned up to meet Dominator's vicious red irises. "Why are you like this?" he uttered hoarsely.
"Huh? What was that? I couldn't hear you over the sound of how much FUN this is!"
"There's gotta be some reason you're so – so Grop-darned evil all the time!" Wander dragged himself across the floor and clutched Dominator's skirt. "If you tell me what's ailing ya, maybe I can help you out. What do you say?"
Lord Dominator hesitated. For a brief moment, Wander glimpsed something in her eyes, something that wasn't just hate or sadism. "Do you really mean that?" she murmured.
Wander's heart nearly broke with hope. "Y-yes! Yes I do! It's like I always say – an enemy is just a friend you haven't made yet!" His voice was breaking, and reaching pitches it rarely did. He tried to ignore this. It was just – a bit of shock, that was all. All this would be worth it when Dominator turned to the good side.
"Wow." Dominator's lava gloves vanished. "I've never had somebody say something so nice to me before."
"Sometimes, all it takes is a little kindness," Wander said. His hope thankfully detracted from the excruciating reminder that his legs may or may not be burnt beyond all repair. Urgently, he added, "S-so, Dominate-ey – Dee – Dompal – What's your story?"
"Like, what made me so messed up?" Dominator asked.
"Y-yes. We can talk it out, hug it out, and then be friends!"
"Oh gosh, where do I begin?" Dominator threw a hand to her forehead and fluttered her eyes shut.
Wander rubbed his thigh and tried to ignore the savage throbs of pain. Once Dominator turned good, everything could be forgiven, and then they could do the best to fix his leg… it probably wasn't permanent… probably…
"Oh!" Dominator thrust her hands up in excitement. "I'll start with my brother!"
"Y-you have a brother? Did he – was he mean to you?"
"Oh, he was just the worst! He was two years younger and just the most annoying clingy thing! He was such a tattle tale – wah wah, she stole my cookies, she shoved me down the stairs, she stuck needles in my arms – I mean, what a whiner! I obviously had to get my entertainment somehow, right?! And he just wanted to ruin all my fun!"
Wander scooted back. "Dominator, I don't think –"
"And then there was the first time I killed someone, too – I mean, wow, what a rush! They don't teach that in school!"
"N-no, no, this isn't it-"
"Coincidentally, it was my brother!"
"But I think," she continued, her grin bleeding into every sardonic word, "what really made me who I am, was the first planet I sucked the life out of! My own home planet! Oh, the screaming!" Lord Dominator draped herself against a column and sighed longingly.
"You weren't being serious when you said you'd open up about your trauma," Wander said, shaking.
"Wow, no really?" Dominator rolled her eyes. "You're so perceptive. Amazing."
"Th-then be honest! Open up; tell me what's got ya so down!"
Dominator narrowed her eyes at him. "What's got me down, dork, is that there's no planets left to destroy, and all I've got left is your dumb face to entertain me."
"There has to be something else –"
"Hey, is that your weird Zbornak pal?" Dominator pointed, and everything in Wander went cold as he glimpsed Sylvia's shadow against the wall.
"S-Sylvia!" He instinctively moved to pursue her, but fire raked up his leg and he went crashing to the ground again – right, injury: he wasn't in any shape to be moving. "Run! Sylvia, you gotta get out of here before-"
A lava blast shot so close over his head that he felt the graze of its heat. It pierced straight through Sylvia's neck and severed her head clean off. The warning twisted into a howl of agony.
"Sylvia, noooo!" A thick chunk of ice landed in his lap. He gazed down at it and… it was an ice replica of Sylvia's head.
He looked back up. The rest of the Sylvia shadow was still poised against the wall. Dominator was laughing maniacally. Wander glanced back down at the head in his lap.
It was…. Fake. Dominator had created a Sylvia ice sculpture and beheaded that, not Sylvia herself… who was likely still safe on the last planet in the galaxy.
"Well, that was fun," Dominator said cheerily.
A deep shudder worked its way up Wander's spine, and he bent over the severed ice head. In less than twenty minutes, Dominator had physically maimed him, pretended to kill Sylvia, and played along with his sympathy just to torment him further. Evidently, just because it was fun. Oh Grop. A whimper fluttered from his throat.
"Awww, no need to cry…" Dominator crooned. Her gloved hand ruffled his hair too firmly to ever be comfortable. "Now you get to stay with me and hang out!" One swift kick sent the ice head flying from into the wall, where it smashed into pieces. "You know what I just realized? Now I've got a friend to celebrate with!"
She loomed over him, grinning like a maniac. "What do you say, Wander? Friends?"