"Brock!" shrieked Doc Venture. "Brock, I could really use a bodyguard right about now!"
"A little busy here, Doc," yelled back Brock. Two of Monarch's henchmen were trapped in a headlock. Brock used their bodies to attack the other henchmen. Monarch's number 2, Number 21, ran towards him, easily blocking the fresh corpses of his brethren Brock was throwing at him.
The Monarch aimed his big yellow butterfly death ray at his arch foe's bald head, glee filling him. Doc ran in zigzags, as an attempt to prevent his total demise. He ran like such a girl, thought Monarch happily. A big bald, ugly little girl. Venture's shriek of terror gave joy to The Mighty Monarch. Paradise, this is, he thought to himself.
"The end has come for you… DOCTOR VENTURE!" he said as he loaded up the ray. "IN JUST TEN MINUTES, YOU AND EVERYTHING—Ten minutes? Wh-why does it need ten minutes to load?"
"It's a powerful death ray," commented one of his henchmen. "It takes a while to load."
"Well… If you had told me it took ten minutes to load, I would have loaded it ten fucking minutes ago," said the Monarch, his glee suddenly leaving him. He slumped down into his chair, pouting. "I wanna kill Venture now!" If his wife were here, he wouldn't be having this problem, Monarch knows; she would have reminded him it needed to load.
21 and Brock, who were engaged in a knife fight just moments ago, stopped to look at the stalling cocoon.
"Eh, what's going on up there?" questioned Brock.
"I don't know," said 21. He tapped the device in his ear and called up to headquarter. "This is Number 2 calling up to HQ. Everything all right up there?"
There was a muffled sound and then Monarch answered. "Yes… yes, we're fine. Technical difficulties. Number 68 bring me… THE DEATH RAY MANUAL!"
Brock looked at 21 curiously; 21 simply shrugged. "Uh, something wrong with the ray?" asked 21.
"Yes. It isn't loading fast enough!" said The Monarch.
"It's a death ray—" said 21.
"'It takes ten minutes to load'… Yes, yes, I realize that now."
"What's going on?" asked Brock.
"The death ray takes ten minutes to load," explained 21.
"Oh. Why didn't he load it ten minutes ago?"
"Why didn't you load it ten minutes ago—"
"BECAUSE I DIDN'T KNOW I NEEDED TO LOAD IT TEN MINUTES AGO!" He stopped and sighed. "Can… can we wait, like, ten minutes and then presume fighting?"
"I've got Pilates at two," said Doc Venture, looking at his watch and frowning.
"Yeah, I… I've gotta be somewhere too," said Brock. "Can we just… pick this up later, tonight?"
"Fine… fine," said Monarch. He looked through his planner. "Eight thirty good for you guys?"
"Yep," said Brock.
"Yeah, yeah, that's fine," said Dr. Venture.
"Henchmen… retreat, retreat… Dr. Venture's got Pilates at two and can't wait ten minutes to meet his demise." Only a short few of Monarch's minions retreated, for Brock had killed most of them.
Number 21 put away his knife and expanded his wings and said, "Until next time, Brock Samson. Until next time," and then flew back to the cocoon.
"It's a little sad," said Dr. Venture as he and his bodyguard Brock entered VenTech Tower. "I don't even think the Monarch knows what he's doing anymore."
Hatred and H.E.L. . were up at the front desk, freaking out about something. Dr. Venture was not really in the mood for any of it; whatever 'it' was, they can definitely deal with it on their own. Right now, all Rusty Venture cared about was getting into a nice hot bath.
"I know… I almost feel bad for the guy," said Brock, lighting a cigarette.
Catching sight of the pair, Hatred quickly ran towards them. "There you are, Doc! Where have you been? I've been trying to get ahold of you for hours."
"Pilates," he answered simply. "Now, if you'll excuse me—"
"Listen to me, Doc," said Hatred, grabbing Venture's shoulder's tightly. Dr. Venture, uncomfortable, tried to break free from his grasp. "We got a code purple in the laboratory."
"Code… purple?" questioned Venture.
"Code purple." It seemed that Brock Samson knew exactly what code purple meant, for he threw his cigarette on the ground and ran straight for the laboratory, with Hatred and H.E.L. . following close behind.
The new ice cream place that opened up a couple blocks from The Mighty Monarch's home seemed like the perfect place to mope. He couldn't go home; his wife was home… waiting for him, probably wondering how arching Venture went. He really didn't feel like lying to her… again.
"It wasn't that bad," said 21 as they waited in line. Behind them were an elderly couple, who were none too pleased about being behind a grown man with big elaborate butterfly wings. In front of them was a young boy, no older than twelve, who seemed very eager to get his hands on his ice cream treat.
"Are you kidding? We were an embarrassment!" said Monarch. "Did you see Brock Samson? He totally annihilated half my henchmen. The others I had to execute because they were laughing at me."
"Yeah, that probably wasn't the best idea," said 21, rubbing the back of his neck.
The worker happily handed a vanilla ice cream cone to the woman in front of the young boy. "Next," she said and the boy in front of them stepped forward.
"Step aside, kid," demanded the Monarch, pushing his way up front. "21, I command you to give this lady my order!"
"Hey!" shouted the boy, angry.
Hesitating at first, 21 stepped forward and ordered. "Two root beer floats, please."
"Make… make mine a double," said Monarch, frowning, his head finding his palms. "I've had a long day."
"Can you make one double, please?"
The worker stood shocked for a moment, her eyes going from the two men dressed as butterflies and the young boy, who looked at the two odd men in amazement. She saw the Monarch's wrists and the weapons that were attached to it and started making their order.
"Hey," repeated the boy but with a much softer tone this time. "You're… you're the—"
Both 21 and Monarch turned to him, Monarch's frown quickly springing into a sly grin. "The Mighty Monarch!"
The boy stood stunned for a moment, but turned when the front door opened, the bell dinging, as if expecting someone. He seemed to relax when he saw who entered and turned back to the Monarch quickly.
"The Mighty Monarch in the… flesh?" said the boy, examining the Monarch's outfit.
"Polyester," explained Monarch distastefully, pinching the fabric on his body suit. His attention went back to the boy. "So… you've heard of me?"
"Oh… yeah, yeah," said the boy, "I'm… I'm one of your biggest, uh"—he glanced back at the door— "fans!"
21 raised a curious eyebrow, then looked at the Monarch. To his surprise, the Monarch seemed blinded by the boy's behavior. He loved the attention, 21 soon realized; he loved being recognized.
"What're having, kid?" asked the Monarch.
The boy thought for a moment, then said, "Bubblegum berry blast?"
The Monarch nodded in improvement and then turned to his henchman. "21, get this boy a double bubblegum berry blast."
The young boy looked like he was about to piss his pants, he was so excited.
"Dude," whispered 21, "this is a bad idea, like… a really bad idea. I'm pretty sure kidnapping little boys in ice cream shops is, like, totally against Guild regulations."
"What? Aren't we running low on henchmen?"
"I can be a henchman!" said the boy.
"See? He's happy to do it."
21 looked at the boy. "Do you have, like, any parents or a guardian that can… like, sign off on this?"
"Well," he glanced back at the door, "my, uh—uncle—was supposed to meet me here, but he's"—he glanced at his digital watch—"late." He looked at 21 in a way that made him a little uncomfortable. "But… but I'm sure he won't mind if I hang out with you guys instead," he continued, rubbing his hands together in excitement. "So, when do I get my wings?"
"Soon, young caterpillar," said the Monarch. "Soon."
"Cool… What is it?"
"Hank, get away from the code purple," commanded Brock. "It isn't safe."
"No kidding," said Dr. Venture, scanning the device with his radiation meter. "I'm surprised we haven't dropped dead already."
"This is probably what caused your brother's cancer," said Billy Quizboy. He and his partner Pete White were smart enough to be wearing radiation suits.
"Found it in the back room," said Pete, "underneath some boxes."
Brock picked up the phone and started dialing a number. "I'll call it in to the OSI. They'll come get rid of it for us."
"What? No," said Dr. Venture. "Don't get rid of it!"
"We don't know what it does, Doc," said Brock. "It's dangerous."
"I'll… I'll figure it out," he said. "This—whatever this is—could change the whole world. It could be the answer to all worldly problems. And more importantly, it could make me a whole lot richer!"
"I'm not so sure about this," said Hatred.
"Yeah, I'm with Hatred on this," said Brock. "I'm calling it in."
"Look, my brother wasn't an idiot. If he had this here, it was for good reason," Venture explained. "Just... give me a week to figure out what it does."
"Can I help?" asked Hank. Like an idiot, Hank placed a hand on the weird rectangular device.
"Hank, stop touching the radiated object," said Venture. "Now be a good boy and go wash your hands."
"I am curious about what it does," confessed Pete.
"All right," said Brock, defeated. "But make sure Hank keeps his radiation suit on. We don't have any more clones, remember?"
21 had given the young boy his very own henchman butterfly suit, which the boy was very excited to put on, and was now giving him the grand tour of the lair. "So, this is the cave… or, uh, lair," announced 21. "Over there is the Monarch's car—I mean, the Butterfly Mobile." He noticed the disappointment on the boy's face. "It isn't much now, but… we're at level six arching, so…
"You're, what, twelve?" he continued. "Are you sure henching is what you want to do? It can get a little intense."
"Eh, I grew up with this stuff," said the boy. "You understand, Gare… Didn't Monarch get you at fifteen?"
"Yes, but—Wait… how did you know that?"
"Kelly?" the Monarch's voice echoed throughout the lair; he was so loud that the young boy jumped in terror. "What kind of name is that?"
"It was my father's name. It's a nice name," replied a deep voice beside him.
"Yeah, for a chick."
At this, the boy cautiously stood behind 21. "Dude relax… that's just the Monarch's wife, Dr. Mrs. The Monarch. She's got a deep voice… but she's totally cool.
The Monarch and his wife appeared, and the boy shrunk lower behind 21.
"Number 21…" he coughed, "I mean, Number 2… Where is our newest recruit?"
21 stepped a few inches to his right to reveal the young boy.
Dr. Mrs. The Monarch nearly choked when she caught sight of him. The boy stood stiff, looking absolutely terrified. "Wh—what? You kidnapped a child? This is a new low. 21, I can't believe you let him… Where are his parents?" She turned to the boy. "Sweetie, where are your parents?"
It took a moment for the boy to reply, but eventually he coughed it out. "Oh… you know, they're around."
"Oh, look at him. He's absolutely terrified. Sweetie, I'm sorry. Do you know your address, honey? Monarch get him a cab home."
Monarch opened his mouth, but it was the boy who spoke, his voice scratchy: "No. I… I want to stay."
The boy cleared his throat. "I want to stay. I know you think I'm not ready for this, mo—ma'am, but… but I know I am. So, I'm staying and henching."
"Oh… kay," said Dr. Mrs. The Monarch awkwardly before turning to her husband. "I'm running late." She kissed her husband's cheek. "Don't wait up for me, okay, sweeties? There's a Guild meeting and I expect it to run late. Goodbye, sweetie. And good luck tonight. You'll do fine. I know it."
"Bye, honey," said the Monarch, waving. He thought he saw the boy waving goodbye too, but when he looked, the boy had his arms behind his back. He kept a pleasant smile while watching his wife exit his poor excuse for a lair but put on a most frightful scowl as soon as the door shut.
"21… fetch me my death ray!" he ordered.
Henchman 21 saluted and then ran to get the death ray.
"Death ray?" said the boy, surprise in his voice. "The Guild signed off on this?"
"Well… it's not really a death ray per se," said the Monarch. "It gives people bad stomach aches and… and a fifty percent chance of diarrhea. I came up with the idea back when I was arching that hemorrhoid guy, what's his face… Anywho, I'd much rather see Venture crap his pants than that guy."
"I didn't know you arched people besides Dr. Venture."
"Oh, yeah… loads," he said distastefully. 21 had just rolled in the butterfly ray. Monarch placed a gentle hand on it, rubbing it thoughtfully. "But Dr. Venture, he was… He was special. The only one that really mattered. My only foe who truly deserved an ass-kicking." He paused, as if lost in his own hatred for Venture. "But enough of that. 21, bring me… my tools! We need to remove that dreaded loading switch."
"I'm pretty sure you can't remove the switch," said 21.
"Let me try," said the boy. "I'm pretty good with this kind of stuff."
"I don't know, kid," said 21. "I've been trying to find the problem all day and I can't even—"
"Ah, here's your problem," said the boy, flicking a switch that was on the side of the ray. "You had it set to manual loading… It's a lot easier if it's just on automatic. Then it'll load without you telling it to. A lot less of a hassle this way."
"Wonderful, henchman number—what is your number, new recruit?"
"He's henchman 13," said 21.
"Good work, Number 13. Now, we—"
"Uh, actually… I was kind of thinking I could be called Milkweed," the boy interrupted.
"Yeah, well, maybe drop the henchman part, but yeah," said the boy. "It goes along with the whole Monarch Butterfly theme… because, you know, monarch larvae eat milkweed."
"This isn't how the henchman thing works, kid," said 21. "You get assigned a number, not a name."
The Monarch stroked his ginger beard softly, taking a moment to contemplate. "All right, kid," he said. "Since you helped me with my shit ray, I will allow it… if Venture shits his pants tonight."
Dr. Venture sniffed, a curious smell entering into his nostrils. His space suit, a nice Venture blue, didn't seem to block out smells, unfortunately, which made him weary about the effectiveness of the Venture radiation suit.
"Well, we can check cloning machine off the list," said Pete White. He held a clipboard with a list of things the device might be. Hank had suggested it might be a microwave. To spare Hank's feelings, Pete went ahead and put it on the list.
"And we can rule out hoverboard," said Billy Quizboy. "It's too small."
"And it doesn't hover," added Pete.
Dr. Venture sniffed again. "All right, what is that God awful smell?" Dr. Venture finally asked.
"Oh, that's me, pop," said Hank. "I'm making pizza rolls." He gestured to the radiated device.
"Hank! It's not a microwave," said Dr. Venture. He hurried to remove the food from the device, but nothing was inside it.
"That's funny," said Hank, scratching his helmet. "I set the timer for three minutes."
"You dimwit," said Pete. "You're gonna kill us all."
"When… when did you set it?" asked Billy.
Hank looked at his watch. "Eh, about two minutes… fifty-eight seconds ago."
The machine dinged, and the pizza rolls appeared. Hank, oblivious, happily retrieved his food.
"Hank, don't eat those," said Dr. Venture, sounding rather frustrated.
"How can something just vanish for three minutes and just reappear like nothing happened," Pete questioned. "What is this thing, a time machine or something?"
Both Billy and Dr. Venture looked at each other, shock in their eyes.
"Oh my God, it's a time machine," said Dr. Venture.
"INTRUDER ALERT! INTRUDER ALERT! INTRUDER ALERT!"
The emergency lights blinked red and Dr. Venture looked at his watch, letting out a disappointing sigh. "Ah geez, is it eight thirty already? I'll be right back. I have this thing with the Monarch."
"You can't just leave," said Billy. "We just discovered a time machine in your laboratory!"
"Relax," said Dr. Venture. "It shouldn't—"
A loud explosion interrupted him, and the Monarch's cocoon crashed into the laboratory. "DR. VENTURE!" the Monarch roared, coming into sight. "THE END HAS COME FOR YOU!"
Dr. Venture looked angrily at the destruction the cocoon had caused to his laboratory and frowned. "I'll have you know you're paying for this," he said, gesturing to the destruction.
"Fine… fine," agreed Monarch. "Just… put it on my bill or something.
"HENCHMAN 13," ordered The Mighty Monarch. When no one answered, he turned to his small group of henchmen, specifically the young boy. Monarch coughed, giving his henchman another chance to cooperate. "Henchman 13," he repeated. "All right, fine... Milkweed!"
"Yes, Monarch, sir!" said the boy proudly.
"Fetch me my death ray!"
"Yes, Monarch, sir!"
"You don't need ten minutes to load, do you?" Dr. Venture said, bored. "I'm pressed for time."
"You don't need ten minutes to load, do you?" the Monarch mimicked back like a playground bully would do.
Henchman 13—Milkweed—rolled in the death ray. Monarch took the handles and aimed the device at Dr. Venture. "NOW, VENTURE, ARE YOU READY TO MEET… YOUR DEMISE?" He let out an evil laugh.
"Yeah, sure, whatever," said Dr. Venture, crossing his arms. "Make it quick."
Monarch pressed the button and a purple light escaped the ray and landed on Dr. Venture. His skin began to glow purple and, for a moment, he thought he had truly met his demise. Monarch felt absolutely ecstatic; he had finally got Venture! But then Venture's body stopped glowing, and everyone was left confused.
"Wh-what happened?" asked Monarch. "Why isn't he shitting his pants?"
He turned to henchman 13—Milkweed—expecting answers. Milkweed just shrugged. "I don't know what to tell you, man," he said plainly.
"Are we done here?" asked Dr. Venture, his fear quickly turning into irritation.
Just then, what looked like the butterfly mobile came zooming into the laboratory, creating another gaping hole.
"What… what the hell is this?" asked Dr. Venture, first looking at the vehicle and then back at Monarch.
Monarch turned to his number 21. He shrugged, not even realizing anyone took the butterfly mobile. All the henchmen were accounted for.
Monarch quickly disguised his confusion. He was a professional, after all. "Ah… yes, the back up is here… to, to help us! Good work, 21, for calling it in…"
The car door opened and out came an older version of 21. Shocked, Monarch turned to his number him, the young version of 21, expecting answers. 21, however, looked like he was about to have an existential crisis. "Dude, that's… that's me!" he said.
"Hi, Gary!" Hank greeted the older Gary, oblivious.
"Woah, dude, I hardly recognize you," said older Gary.
"Thanks," said Hank, flexing. "Yeah, I've been working out."
"That's not actually why… I'm actually looking for somebody," he said. "A twelve-year-old boy, about yay high… responds to the name Kelly—or, uh… Milkweed."
Everyone stood still as the older version of 21 began looking around the room. He stopped when he spotted the cocoon. "Dude, there you are! C'mon, let's go. We gotta get back."
Both Monarch and 21 turned to the boy, who smiled at them. "Well," he said, "it's been fun, guys. We should do this again in about fifteen years." He jumped down from the cocoon and greeted older Gary like he was greeting an old friend.
"You gotta stop doing this. Your parents are totally gonna kill me," said the older version of Gary.
"What? It's not like you didn't know where I was."
And then they got into the butterfly mobile and left without so much as a goodbye.
Everyone stood shocked for a moment before 21 finally spoke up: "Okay, what in the hell was that?"
Dr. Venture groaned in pain, dropping to his knees and clutching his stomach. "I... I have to go to the bathroom," he said.
The Monarch smiled wickedly. "YES!"
"Dude, I told you to wait for me at the ice cream place."
"You were late."
"I said six thirty. I got there at, like, six twenty-five!"