Beyond The Holders
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Be sure to read Prolusio ut Terminus before this.
Phalanx upon phalanx of my slaves pours from the ruins, splitting from one another and spreading out. They radiate outward, their numbers ever expanding, all marching in perfect rhythm. The ground begins to shake under their footsteps, their collective volume becoming so great that vibrations can be felt through the ground. The sky begins to darken as my legion is unleashed, their dark energy tainting the air itself, the sun turning a blood red.
My slaves spread through the streets, marching between buildings and through alleys like blood running through veins. Humans run and scream, the slow ones caught and dismembered by my soldiers, who never break step even as they tear the people limb from limb. It warms whatever I have that would qualify as a heart as the lives of the humans being slaughtered fills me. More of my eyeless slaves emerge from the hole in the rubble, this time marching not between the buildings, but through them. Soon the sound of supports cracking and breaking becomes audible, and soon the buildings themselves begin to fall, their foundations destroyed. The hulking wrecks crush all underneath, destroying thousands of my slaves at a time but not even making a dent in their numbers.
Phalanges of them march at my back, wordlessly and instantly obeying my silent commands. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a lone human charges at me. I can see that she has a dagger in her hand, raised in a combative position. It takes me a moment, but I suddenly realize: she is holding the Dagger of Galaxies. Before she reaches me, I extend a hand. She stops abruptly, slowly rising in the air. Her face contorts with agony, her mouth opening in a scream of agony as her skin turns grey, her eyes turning to ash and pouring from her sockets, her energy flowing into me. I set her down gently, and she joins the ranks of my legion, falling in step instantly with the rhythm of their march, still clutching the Object. My legion advances ever onward, radiating from the rubble as more emerge, their numbers ever swelling. Buildings everywhere go down in flames as they advance, spreading through the city and beyond.
[Engineered me-] I shake my head, trying to clear the voice from my mind. Suddenly, more cracks appear in the air, and hordes of foul monsters pour through. They clash with my legion, which remains marching even as they battle the invading army. What can only be Their army. Legion’s. My detachment leaves me, moving to the outward edges of the advance to help. Powerful and disturbing as Their armies are, they are no match for my legion. Slowly but surely, the monsters are torn apart, demonic blood and viscera coating the hands of my thralls. More pour in, but my legion does too, and Their armies do not so much as slow their advance.
After a few moments, I feel as if I have watched enough of the spectacle. I feel ready to destroy Balance. Ready to end it all. I snap my fingers, and more cracks appear in front of me. It’s time to bring out the Experiments.
A massive gauntleted hand crashes through, the palm area alone the size of a human head. Another one emerges, and they tear at the opening, widening it, until the first of my Experiments steps through. It skin is grey and dead, its eyes missing as with all of my slaves, but I have spent many decades modifying this one and its kind. It is nearly seven feet tall, almost reaching my height, its forearms and hands unnaturally huge, built like clubs. Various tattoos cover its body, denoting areas for injections and other such procedures. Another pair of arms unsheathe themselves from its torso, tapering at the wrists into long, chitinous, scythe-like blades. The Experiment surveys the battlefield silently and emotionlessly as more step through into the human world, until a total of fifty stand with me. One takes the front of the formation, this one with a large squirming cloth sack tied to a rope slung over its back.
A winged monster manages to get past the outer perimeter, swooping down at me. Before it can land or attack, one of the Experiments’ blade-arms lash out, decapitating the beast in one clean sweep. Head and body hit the ground with a wet smacking noise.
I gesture to them, and they know without me telling them that it is time for us to depart. As one, they slump over, as if they had lost control of their torsos. The skin and bone of their backs twists and contorts, extending outward, cracking and snapping sounds crescendoing. Eventually, bony wings form from their backs, and they stand at attention synchronously, staring blankly at me. My own wings unfurl, tearing away the back of the top portion of my cloak. I lower my hood, and after a moment’s thought, rip it off, tossing it aside. I nod to the Experiments, and they and I take off as one, climbing at extremely high speeds. I open the Void before us, and we fly through, coming out again at a vast wasteland, a gigantic desert. After covering a few miles, we can see it at last- the Tower. From outside, it seems to be just that: an unassuming stone tower. It appears far too small to house the 2538 floors it actually has, but, of course, appearances are deceiving. [Angela-] My Experiments advance.
Suddenly, the ground begins to shake. My Experiments hold their ground, shifting into defensive stances. Before our eyes, the sand begins to rise from the ground, knitting itself into humanoid shapes. It coalesces, forming swords and spears in the hands of the figures before hardening into stone. The figures turn to stone as well, moving slowly at first, but gaining speed as they charge. My Experiments meet them head-on, fists crushing and blades slashing away. In a matter of moments, the creatures have all been annihilated. We take a few more steps, but the ground begins to shake again. And the creatures reform. More keep forming as my Experiments, the stone warriors swelling in numbers by the second. The Experiments keep fighting, not sustaining so much as an injury as they destroy every creature in arm’s reach, but I can see that the fight is hopeless. Whenever one falls, it simply reforms from the sand. I raise a hand, and my Experiments form a ring around me, facing the horde. An idea comes to me. If they form from sand, then all one would need do to defeat them would be to…
Turn the sand to glass.
My Experiments pause their fighting for a moment. In each of their eyes, a small point of white light appears, growing in heat and intensity by the second. And then, as one, they combust. Twin jets of black flame erupt from their sockets, the scorching heat enveloping the stone warriors. They begin to turn a white-orange color as they melt, sinking back into the sand. My Experiments turn their heads downward, causing the flames to lick at the sand below our feet, turning it to glass in seconds. I suppose they’re a success, I think to myself, the double doors of the Tower swinging open as I approach.
I find myself in a massive antechamber, the room easily miles in diameter. Bookshelves line the walls, detailing every aspect of existence, every existence of every aspect. I can feel Balance above, standing at what I would [Killed her-] guess to be the six hundredth floor. [Destroy you-] I shake my head again, trying to rid myself of the voice. It’s time to end the conflict once and for all.
Flexing my wings, I snap them down, sending me crashing through the ceiling. I build my speed and momentum, smashing through floors and furniture as I accelerate. I see Balance only as a blur as I fly through the floor, and I grab him by the throat as I continue upward. I will remember the surprise and shock on his face for centuries to come. Gradually, I slow down, reaching, by my rough estimate, the 1500th floor. I bodily throw Balance against the wall, cracks blossoming across it at his impact. He stands up, cracking his neck into place.
“I see that you discovered my location. Yochanan no doubt had a hand in this.”
About that you would be correct, Balance, but that is neither here nor there.
“And where, pray tell, is ‘there’, beast?”
The top floor, if you’d care to join me. The view is wonderful. And it will be most excellent for settling our differences.
“Very well,” says Balance, and in an instant we are on the 2538th floor. It has no roof- a red sky with black clouds and a sickly white sun are displayed in open view. Crescent-shaped columns stand at regular intervals around the circular platform, intricate carvings inlaid upon them. My Experiments fly up as one, landing at the edges of the platform and standing between the columns, making a ring.
“Do you not have enough freaks already, Essum?”
Were I you, Balance, I would not be so rude. The love of your life is in their custody.
With that, my Experiment roughly throws the sack to the ground, withdrawing two lengths of chain from it, holding both in its huge hand. It gives them a rough pull, dragging out two unconscious figures. Shock and anger cross his face as he recognizes the faces of his love, Shelby, and her nephew, hands bound behind their backs, chain around their throats.
“How dare you-“
I’m “evil”, remember? These things happen. And besides, how else can I motivate you enough?
“If you’ve hurt so much as a cell on their bodies, the perdition of the Objects will be nothing compared to what you will suffer!” Balance shouts, shaking with rage.
See, that is what I wanted to hear! The answer is no, I haven’t, other than incidental trauma. If you want them back, you will have to go through me.
Hate burns [Your fault-] in Balance’s glare as white light surrounds his hands. “So be it.”
He launches himself at me with a roar of anger. I hold my hand out, and black begins to creep into Balance’s cloak, my corruption spreading. The black moves quickly-
-And then dissipates. His fist crashes into my face, chips of ceramic bone flying outward, the force knocking me backward. I fly a few feet before my hand touches the floor, my fingers digging in to slow myself. Eventually I skid to a stop. I feel my face, the chipped crevices evident to my fingers. Black flame forms around them, filling in the cracks, fixing my face. I stand, laughing, the sound making Balance cringe ever so slightly.
At last, I can see the true Dallas coming through.
To be continued in Incompositus.
Part of the series Ieiunitas, Infectus, Talius.
|Last modified on 2009-08-06 01:16:27Viewed 8600 times|