a flame a purple mushroom with gold spots


Supervillain Dream Lair

Getting a supervillain lair with no source of income was harder than Torch thought.

Torch hissed and tapped x's claws on the desk. Obviously a supervillain lair didn't need to be legally acquired, but Torch hadn't had much luck in claiming any vacant properties for x's nefarious purposes. X either had security or the police called on x and it was a pain in the tail, that was for sure. Outside the city limits would be better, if it wasn't so hard to get to, and if the closest active volcano wasn't thousands of miles away.

With a grunt, Torch stood up and went to x's closet. X pulled a red turtleneck over x's head and dug out a custom-made skirt that clipped around x's tail. X's pink-speckled skin was a bit dry, but Torch had never liked smearing lotion over x's body. Just thinking about the sensation made x shudder.

X shook x's head and glanced at the mirror and forced a grin. The moray eel in the reflection grinned back. Torch laughed, showing all x's teeth, and made x's way out to the kitchen.

The tall orange cat at the table looked up and waved as Torch walked in. "Hey," they said.

"Morning, Moxie," said Torch. "Where's the breadwinner?"

Moxie yawned, their doubled face splitting in two as their mouth opened wide. "Proxy's at the library," they said. "Dunno why, coin never gets any work done there."

"And coin didn't even wait for me to wake up?" Torch snorted. "Insulting!"

"Oh, did you want to go, too?"

"Not particularly, but coin could've at least stayed to greet me." X glanced at the clock. It was already after nine in the morning; Torch usually got up far sooner. "Well, if Proxy isn't here… Moxie, would you like to assist me?"

Moxie raised an eyebrow. "How so?"

Torch grinned. "I need more space to enact my evil plans, so I'm getting an evil lair, preferably without having to buy it or pay any rent. I'm keeping my room here, but think of the possibilities if I wasn't limited to just the one room!"

"I understand." Moxie stood up and went to the dishwasher with their empty bowl. "Does it need to be a physical space?"

"Are there non-physical spaces I can build in?"

"Sort of," said Moxie. "I can help build a semi-permanent place in the dream realm. You'll be a little bit limited by how lucid you are, but there are ways to encourage lucid dreams."

Torch tapped x's chin, considering Moxie's offer. "That would be easier than having to defend whatever place I find," x said. "I'll try it."

"Great," Moxie said with a smile. "Let's head to my room. I have all the supplies we need."

Moxie handed Torch a pillow and blanket from one of the many strewn across the floor. "This is what we need?" Torch asked. "We better not be building a pillow fort."

"You could," they said, "but not in the physical world. Your evil lair can be made of pretty much anything, since it's just a dream, but it'll probably work better if it's a material that's easily understood as having certain properties."


Moxie patted their own pillow. "Pillows are understood as soft and made of fabric," they said. "If you want your dream pillow to be hard and made of stone, you can do that, but it'll be harder to maintain, and will probably change back to a normal pillow, depending on who's dreaming of it and how they understand."

"Sure," said Torch. "I totally get that. So do we have to sleep to do this?"

"Yeah. My powers will only work if we're both asleep."

"What if I'm not tired? I didn't wake up that long ago."

Moxie shrugged. Torch rolled x's eyes. "Alright," x said. "I'll lie down."

X found a spot to lie down and proceeded to do so. Moxie turned the lights off and let themself fall on their side in the middle of the pillows. They were snoring soon afterwards.

Torch found x's eyelids drooping. X pressed x's neck into a pillow and let x's eyes close.

Torch walked down the hall, vaguely remembering it was Thursday and there was a school-wide meeting today, and while x didn't want to go x was curious about what was on the agenda this week. X spotted one of the teachers coming and darted into an unused room, fear creeping up x's spine. X couldn't be spotted because everyone hated x and–

Wait, hang on, Torch was in x's mid-twenties and x left school at seventeen. What was going on?

"You're having a trauma dream again," Moxie commented.

X yelped at the sudden appearance of x's roommate and stumbled backwards. For a moment, every nightmare was happening at once–back at school, everyone was staring, teeth falling out, naked in public and sitting on a toilet while menstruating–and then x was in a white, empty void with no one else around but Moxie. Torch patted x's jaw. X's teeth were intact, x sat on the featureless ground, and x better not be on x's period anymore because x had clothes again.

"Okay," Torch said. "That wasn't fun."

"Trauma dreams usually aren't." Moxie sat down next to x. "Good thing I was here to snap you out of it. Are you ready to build your secret lair?"

X brightened up. "Of course! How do we start?"

Moxie took Torch's hand and pressed it to the ground, insofar as the white void had a ground. "First," they said, "you have to imagine the basics. Where do you want your base to be?"

"In a volcano," Torch said immediately.

As x's words echoed around them, the void shifted. The ground hardened into black rock and its rough texture spread out from Torch's hand, reaching up and forming walls and flowing stone structures. The ceiling closed above them, casting them in darkness, until orange light erupted from cracks in the walls, lava spilling out and oozing down to the floor. The temperature rose.

Torch grinned, showing all x's teeth. X pulled away from Moxie and ran to the nearest lava pool. "Yes!" x cheered. "This is perfect! All my enemies will succumb to the heat and burn away to nothing!"

Moxie coughed just as they jumped in. "No they won't."

Torch twisted around while slowly sinking into the lava. "What do you mean? That's why I'm in a volcano."

"You're in a dream," Moxie corrected. "It varies from dreamer to dreamer, but most people don't have vivid enough dreams for their dreamself to be harmed." They paused. "What enemies do you have, anyway?"

Torch snorted. "Mind your business. Alright, fine, so the dream base is just for aesthetics. What can I actually do here?"

"You want a place to work on evil plans, right?" Moxie stood up and waved a paw in the air. A large gray dome appeared in the center of the volcano, with a metal hatch allowing entry. "I can make this place a permanent part of the dreamscape," they said, "so whenever you fall asleep, you can come here and it will be just as you left it. You'll have to practice lucid dreaming, but it's not too hard to pick up."

While Torch considered this, the lava reached x's knees. "Can I build weapons here?"

"You can build ideas for weapons," Moxie said.

"I want real weapons."

Moxie nodded. "So you want a real base, huh?"

"I guess?" Torch hissed air through x's teeth. "I was so ready to have a cool, epic, dreamworld evil lair, but it doesn't work if I can't do anything in the real world. Thanks, Moxie, but I can't actually use this."

"No problem. You want to wake up?"

Torch glanced down at the lava, now up to x's waist. "Let's stay a little longer. I haven't taken a swim in a decade."

"Fine with me." Moxie conjured a bean bag chair and flopped down in it, a book appearing in their paws. "We'll go until we wake up naturally."

With a grin, Torch dove all the way into the lava, propelling xself forward with barely a thought. The heat, the pressure, and the flow of the lava over x's skin all comforted Torch, and x didn't even mind anymore that the dream lair was a bust.

The glow of the lava faded away. Torch squeezed x's eyes shut and tried to find the dream again, but it was no use; x was waking up. X heard Moxie moving around the room, and with a click, the lights turned on.

"Anything else I can do?" Moxie asked.

Torch yawned and stretched. "I guess not," x said. "Thanks, though. That was a pretty good dream."

Moxie smiled. "Let me know if you need my powers again. I'm always happy to help out a friend."

They both returned to the kitchen. "I still need a lair," Torch said, "but I don't have to wait until I get one. I can start building my evil weapons now!"

That, of course, was when Proxy unlocked the door.