Amor Omnia Vincit, poets have proclaimed since Vergil. If that were true, I would have long crushed the rebel opposition to my puppet government in San Pablo. Unfortunately, it has been my experience that rather than conquering anything love only adds unnecessary complications. This morning, for instance, brought any number of circumstances that normally would require my personal attention; the standard assassinations, the preliminary hearings of an anti-trust suit being lobbied against ChanceTek, and the sabotage of an increasingly irritating Poetry Festival in Little Beaver, Idaho. But rather than attending to any of those matters, I found myself on the phone making dinner plans with Erik.

"Hello darling, I have a few minutes before Italian class. I was wondering about dinner? It's a little late, but I can probably still make reservations at Victoire."

Erik always sounds half-asleep on the phone, "Isn't that the place that got good reviews for their pan-seared foie gras?"

"That's the one."

"We can't eat there. Foie gras is cruel."

The bound and gagged figure at my feet stirs and moans through the duct tape covering his mouth. I give him a sharp kick to the ribs to silence him, "Foie gras isn't the only thing on their menu."

"Yeah, but how can we patronize a place that actively supports force-feeding geese?"

Erik is always concerned about inhumane practices and the welfare of others. It's endearing, but it makes finding a nice restaurant an exercise in world diplomacy. I try another option, " Why don't we have we have dinner at Orchid. It's a little last minute, but I'm sure I could get reservations."

"It's Friday, Julian. Orchid is always booked solid. I don't know who you'd have to kill to get a table."

"Oh, it wouldn't take anything as complicated and messy as murder, maybe a little light extortion. No objections to the way they cruelly blanch the asparagus before grilling it?"

Erik laughs, "If you can get us a table, I think I can overlook the vegetable rights violations."

I reach over to my desk and pull out a dossier on Orchid's maitre d', flip to page four, jab at a relevant sentence with my dagger and smile to myself, "Your wish is my command. Dinner at eight too late?"

"Perfect, but you're used to hearing that word from me."

"You tend to inspire excellence. Love you."

"Love you too," Erik hangs up just as my guest regains consciousness and widens his eyes in terror. I lean over, close enough so that he can feel the heat of my breath on his cheek, and whisper, "You have been unreceptive to all my gestures of friendship so far. This distresses me."

He makes a sad attempt to vocalize. I rip the duct tape off his mouth before answering his muffled question, "Who am I? Someone whose friendship you should endeavor to cultivate,"

His jowls quiver as he attempts to blubber something. I am unable to conceal my disgust, "You have met with three of my agents, each has offered you considerable rewards for minimal effort. You need only provide information," at this I notice a dull look of recognition, "yet on each occasion you seemed to be afflicted with some sort of debilitating, temporary amnesia. Either that or you are telling my men deliberate falsehoods," my eyes narrow with displeasure, "I do not like liars, Mr. Davis."

"You're the one looking for the --"

I jab three fingers into his solar plexus, "I also dislike being interrupted. I'm afraid this makes me a most unsatisfying conversationalist. Now that we're both aware of what I am anxious to acquire, perhaps your memory will make a miraculous recovery," I glance at him with mock benevolence, "You may speak."

"Only a dozen were ever made, and of those only three --"

"I'm aware of that fact. I grow impatient. Tell me what I want to know," I press the point of my dagger against his neck for emphasis. He snivels and his already bulbous nose begins to swell. I sigh, resigned, "I'm not above torture. I have tried to be a gentleman, but if you persist in being intractable --"

"I have one. In my safe."

"Excellent. You are a reasonable man. I'll be by this afternoon to pick it up. You will have it ready for me."

I press a chloroformed cloth over his mouth and nose. Arlington will return him to his store relatively unharmed. Erik will be pleased; he adores comic books and a first edition ShadowSeraph will be the jewel of his collection. He'll never know how I acquired it. Love makes liars of us all.

The Von Wicked Chronicles
by Excalibre and Evil Catullus

I remember when it was me who made you want to take over the world and enslave humanity
Latex. High heels. Knives. (Excalibre's writeup)
It's not my fault that I'm so evil
I was a teenage Overlord
Lady Deathblast's Lover
This little light of mine
The Thanksgiving battle
My funny villaintine
Robots and comic books
This wicked life
The education of little overlords
All things truly wicked
Darkness lights its own way
No rest
How it all began
Sometimes I think you love that doomsday machine more than you love me.
They are mine. They are dead.
There is a crack in everything