As the Allied Defence Force soldiers closed in on his secret evil lair, Dr. Richard von Tulipstrasser knew he could do nothing more to forestall the end. Despite the dire situation, he couldn’t help but chuckle to himself at the tragic irony of it all.

For his entire career as an evil scientist, he had used his botanical genius to concoct flower-based weapons to sow chaos and destruction amongst the world’s governments and bring the ADF to their knees.  But whether it was the rose-thorn supercannon or the dandelion drones, the ADF had never pursued him back to his lair. This time was different. When the ADF learned of his army of sentient flower people, it spooked them and they mobilized their entire force to come for him.

The irony that made Dr. von Tulipstrasser laugh was that his army of flower people was not an army at all.  Oh sure, truth be told he initially had evil plans when he spliced the genes of people and flower together (Afterall, wasn’t he an evil scientist?), but instead of teaching them war, his flower people had taught him to love.  But who would believe that he had turned over a new leaf (petal?)? He didn’t quite believe it, frankly.

An explosion erupted outside the door of his lab, shaking Dr. von Tulipstrasser out of his reverie and bringing his focus back to the ADF forces that were coming to kill him and his flower people. He looked over at Ilsa, and fixed her with what he hoped was a look of confidence. Ilsa had been bred using the genes of the blue phalaenopsis orchid, his favorite flower, and his heart ached at the thought of the ADF laying a finger on her petals. 

“Ilsa,” Dr. von Tulipstrasser said, “you must get in the escape pod before they break into the lab!”

Ilsa held Dr. von Tulipstrasser’s eyes with her innocent gaze. “I don’t understand,” she said, “What about you?”

“I’m staying here until the escape pod gets away safely.”

“No, Richard, no. What has happened to you? Last night we said …”

“Last night we said a great many things. You said I was to do the thinking for both of us. Well, I’ve done a lot of it since then and it all adds up to one thing. You’re getting in that escape pod with the other flower people where you belong.”

“But Richard, no, I, I …”

“You’ve got to listen to me. Do you have any idea what you’d have to look forward to if you stayed here? Nine chances out of ten we’d both wind up in an ADF concentration camp.” 

“You’re saying this only to make me go.”

“I’m saying it because it’s true. Inside of us, we both know you belong with the flower people. You’re a part of them, the thing that keeps them going. If that escape pod leaves the ground and you’re not with them, you’ll regret it.  Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon, and for the rest of your life.”

Ilsa’s eyes began to well up with tears. Reaching out, Dr. von Tulipstrasser put his hand to her petals and raised her face to meet his own.

“Here’s looking at you, orchid.”

After what seemed like an eternity where no one moved, another one of the other flower people moved over to Ilsa and started to direct her to the escape pod.

“Goodbye, Rick. God bless you,” Ilsa managed to say.  

As the escape pod launched out of his lair, Dr. von Tulipstrasser watched it arch in the night sky to safety.  He wasn’t sure what his flower people would face once the escape pod landed. No doubt they were only at the start of what would be an arduous and trying journey. But he knew he gave them a chance and that allowed him a second smile, one that he would wear even as the ADF forces broke down his laboratory door and end his life.

Fin.