T'was the night before Christmas,
Though few would have known
For that day a dark lord
Sat on his dark throne...

[Cover shows a black-and-white image of a man sitting on an obsidian throne, leaning forward and looking into the snowglobe held in his left hand. Snow falls, covering him in mounds of white, within the globe is a riot of color. The title runs along the bottom in looping handwriting.]

Tyrannus Auron gazed through the pane of cut diamond, over the great tower of steel and stone and across all he surveyed. He heaved a great sigh.

The world that he owned was gray and dull.

He brushed an imaginary speck of dust off the suit he wore, an expertly tailored shadow with red accents. He twitched his face into its usual expression of haughty neutrality and turned back to the long obsidian table, glancing at the functionally, if not yet literally, brainwashed lackeys that sat around it. "And the courageous resistance leader saw the rightness of our cause and signed the surrender treaty of his own free will?"

The man's head bounced up and down, expression like a dog eagerly anticipating a fallen scrap of meat. "We pushed his head down and made him lick it!"

"Mmmm. Indeed." A barely-stifled sigh escaped through his nose. "So we are offically at one hundred percent political control. How goes the economic conquest?

An identical sycophant spoke up. "Shell company penetration is at eighty-seven percent."

"Good. Make sure there's no cutting of positions; unemployment would be bad for stability." Why was he even explaining his reasoning? He could chalk it up to the ludicrous warblings of the Chicken God and they'd think every word was genius. "What about cultural?"

"Polls in your favor are up two percent over last year," said another. "Obedience is a core value to sixty-seven percent, and humility is at seventy-three."

Just as planned. Of course. He turned around, raising his hand and chopping the air at his side. With mildly surprised expressions but not a whisper of dissent, the cabinet stood up and cleared out of the room.

Events moved forward like clockwork. The nations of the world had fallen to Tyrannus Auron. The everyday places where his influence seemed far away were becoming part of his grand machinery. He gained purchase even within the heads of the common folk, as they were slowly conditioned to accept this state of affairs. It was all exactly as planned.

It was the most crushingly boring experience of his life.

He bit his knuckle, then released it. An old habit, long-abandoned, cropping up now? Just what he needed. Clearly, it was time for a break. And didn't he have all the time in the world? Along with everything else, naturally.

He pressed his thumb to an unremarkable bit of wall, and it whoosed back to reveal a passageway. As he stepped on the stone staircase, it began to move silently of its own accord. Once, the way down had been lit by guttering torches; recently, disgusted by the overdramatic affectation, he'd had full-spectrum LEDs installed. It made things a bit cheerier, anyway.

Down, down, down the stairway twisted, beneath the ground, into the guts of the tower. Past the all-seeing gaze of the panopticon. Past the cells where he kept those few rivals he wanted alive and under his watchful eye. Past the great computer, instrument of his will alone.

Finally, it ground to a halt, and he stepped off. A room off limits to all but Tyrannus Auron himself, the Hall of Trophies.

He stepped forward, fingertips passing over the face of the display case. Diamond set in strongstuffium alloy, containing mementos of the things that were still worth remembering. He began, as always, with a dented hubcap...

He had been born in Puerto Rico. His parents were not well-off; they hadn't planned a child so early, and most memories of his father and mother were an amiable blur rushing between jobs. He had decided early on that he would help out by making some money on the side, so naturally, he organized a gang of local kids into a tight-knit gang.

They pulled small jobs, staying under the radar of the cops by taking things that wouldn't be missed until it was too late, lifting credit card numbers and traveler's checks and using them weeks afterward. Slowly, his network expanded across the city, then across the island. Legitimate businesses were incorporated until the line between everyday life and the underworld was blurred. All the while, he moved further and further into the background, until the majority of his subordinates knew him only as an anonymous voice from above.

Thus, he was able to make the leap into politics. He ran for mayor on a tough-on-crime platform, making good on his promises by moving illegal operations out of the city, then got reelected by pushing through social reforms that required more power to be transferred to his office, a little bit here and a little bit there. Eventually, he stepped up to a higher position, leaving his second in the mayor's seat – and that's when he began to set his sights on the world...

He shook his head and moved forward. A battered satchel and a singed leather jacket...

A turning point in his conquest had come when he set out to take down the net.heroes. The Legion of New-Wave Heroes had broken up, and no organization had come to fill the void. There were a few small teams, such as the Tantalizing Teens, but by and large the heroes were each on their own.

He spied on them through the network he had built, verifying their vulnerabilities, acting through agents to take out the weakest first. By the end of 1991, the majority were out of the crimefighting business in one way or another, and the few remaining could not stop the gears turning to neutralize them.

That was the thing. Was it nothing but luck that had gotten him off the ground? If the net.heroes he'd faced had been a united force, no matter how disorganized, instead of scattered individuals who could be picked off one by one...

He moved on, stopping in front of a simple, stapled document. Ah, his greatest coup – the day he convinced the Security Council of the United Nations to sign the Work-For-Hire contract that brought all Kirby- inspired concepts within the moon's orbit under his thrall. Flipseid, hoist by his own petard, forced to cower in the depths of space in fear of a piece of paper.

And what had it bought him? Eternal dominon of Earth. Eternal. What a word! Nothing built by men was eternal, and especially not his empire.

There was no one competent to follow him. Hah, he'd made sure of that. Once he was gone, there would be no boot stomping on a face forever. Humanity would have no ruler except a gaunt figure on a pale horse.

And the idea of ruling forever, of gaining immortality and personally seeing his empire through eternity... God! If he was this bored already, what would it be like in a hundred years, or a thousand?

He could feel the fatigue, the apathy seeping into his limbs. He covered his face and stumbled across the room, leaning on an intricately carved obsidian throne, the armrests fashioned after demonic skulls.

He'd taken the bloody thing from some minor net.villain or another and stuffed it in the trophy room, never to be used. But right now, he just needed to rest. He eased himself into the hard stone seat, propped his face up on a hand, and sighed.

Suddenly, each corner of the room began to flood with light. A river of radiance spilled across his vision, and at the brightly burning center, a golden figure resolved into humanoid form. "I am the Last Archangel, and I come to pronounce judgment upon you."

He was completely unimpressed. "An angel? Slaying your kind grew dull before everything else did. Go, and leave me to my ashes."

The angel pointed the glowing tip of its blade at him. "Hands such as yours shall not find purchase. Insubstantial phantoms will be your undoing. You will be haunted by proof of your sins – by images of what would have been!"

He shrugged. "Sure, what the hell."

Though the angel's face was washed of detail by the holy light, Tyrannus Auron could swear he saw it blink. "Very well! Witness the future you destroyed!"

The walls dissolved into swirling blue-gray sparkles, and there was a sense of sudden motion. He could sense great, cthonic presences rustling past in the astral void. A faraway spark expanded into a bubble surrounding them, and on the surface of the bubble, he saw a bustling city street.

"Behold," intoned the angel. "The free people of a free world, going about their daily business."

"Except for all the people under dictators, demagogues, and economic indentured servitude, of course." He smirked. It was so easy to tweak someone when they were making a Big, Important Point.

"In the end, judgment comes to all!" The angel wasn't about to let his lecture be derailed. It turned and pointed to the sky. "The heroes of this world – the ones that you betrayed! – defending it from those who would follow in your footsteps!"

Tyrannus Auron looked up, shading his eyes from the sun. A great armored form struggled against a saucer-shaped robot with tentacled arms, a man sitting atop it in a domed bubble. Blazing beams of energy blasted from the latter to the former, but the hero held tight. He let out a low whistle. "Impressive..."

"Indeed! And justice comes not just to the high, but the low as well!" The angel's sword thrust in the direction of a nearby alleyway. Within, a woman wearing a leather jacket with spiked shoulder pads and wielding a chain-whip was menacing a young man holding a briefcase fearfully in front of him. Suddenly, she was buried in a torrential downpour of cheesecake, and a portly man in a baker's outfit leapt down from the fire escape to cuff her.

"Hmmm! This city seems lousy with them!"

"Hah! Not merely a single city, but the entire world!" It lifted its sword and the surface of the bubble flashed with multicolored hyperspace lights. With every moment, they stopped in a different location. "Net.Zealand!" A pair of kids thwomped a man dressed as a coffee machine. "Europe!" A fuzzy cute man and a woman in a dirdnl dodged away from a dark shape. "Canada!" A wendigo laid on the ground and snored next to a man in a mundane outfit.

"What, just places where they speak English?" Tyrannus Auron raised an eyebrow.

"Others abound 'round the globe, though rarely do they get a starring role! Blame the focused eye of the Writers!"

"The who...?" But they had returned to the city. He looked around, rubbing his chin with a calculating expression. "You know, I recruited or eliminated a lot of rivals in my rise to power. I suppose they're still active in this timeline?"

"Indeed! But, unlike your evil, their misdeeds are kept at bay by the constant vigilance of the Legion of Net.Heroes!"

He grinned. "Well, then. A world where I never existed?"

"Yes!"

"Filled with heroes who are dead-set on preventing anyone like me from ever existing?"

"Yes!"

"Excellent. Drop me off here, please."

There was a holy stillness as the angel was struck dumb. "...what?"

"You heard me. I'm convinced. I'm so bad that even I'd rather be in a world where I didn't exist."

Clearly, the angel hadn't been expecting such a reaction. Still, it rallied. "I... such a wish may be granted, if you speak it in such a way that shows you truly mean it."

"Heaven seems composed entirely of rules; no wonder I prefer to reign in Hell. Very well, then; I wish I had never been born."

And the world shook. The throne and the angel stretched and streaked off into infinity. The bubble of unreality collapsed with a WHOOMP. Tyrannus Auron was left, naked as a jaybird, on the sunny-but-chill Net.ropolis sidewalk.

A shiver went up his spine, and not just from the cold. A new world, with just as many – no, with more possibilities than he'd wrung from his old world, with a hundredfold more challenges and a thousandfold more rivals. Truly, this life held the wonders he'd been missing.

He walked off, smiling, in no particular direction. In the distance, bells started to ring.

<---------------------->

Author's Note:

The LNH needs more recurring bad guys, who can menace all kinds of characters throughout the shared universe. Therefore, here he is, a Free For Use mastermind for your consideration. Merry Christmas!

Roster Entry:

NAME: Tyrannus Auron
ALTER EGO: Unknown
CREATED BY: Andrew Perron
PRIMARY WRITER: None
POWERS AND ABILITIES: Baseline human with high intelligence and charisma and advanced strategic, tactical and leadership skills.
PERSONALITY: Thoroughly enjoys villainy and the challenge of battle. Tends to work through manipulation and trickery, but doesn't avoid direct confrontation when necessary.
HISTORY: World conquerer in an alternate timeline and thoroughly bored by it, he was transported to the mainstream Looniverse to seek new challenges.
APPEARANCE: Sort of like Ricardo Montalban in his '40s. Dresses to blend in. In his world conquerer days, wore an all-black suit with red accents.
STATUS: Freelance villain-about-town
USABILITY: Free For Use

(Oh, and you can use that robot saucer guy too.)

Andrew "NO .SIG MAN" "Juan" Perron, a bit after Christmas, but hey.

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