“Explain,” Dragomir insisted. “Tell me. Why the fuck have you been screwing with my life? I want a straight answer for once.”
The voice, returning to a careful monotone as Grayson and basso alike, didn’t mince words. “You can destroy them. Permanently.”
Dragomir didn’t ask for clarification. His flat black skin provided ample hints. “How?”
Abruptly, the headache pestering Dragomir’s temples grew in intensity. He clutched his ears and doubled over, spitting out frantic curses as the pain doubled and trebled. Soon he was forced to his knees, and a deep, horrifying hatred of his captors stole over him. The air surrounding Dragomir seemed to quaver -
- and, moments later, a vast shaft of glowing green energy flowed out of Dragomir’s clawed hands. He swung it back and forth, trying to shred absolutely nothing and doing quite well at it. The headache doubled in pain, horribly severe and threatening to knock Dragomir out.
“F… fuck you,” Dragomir panted. He passed the Catastrophe to one hand, not sure how he’d managed it. “Fuck you, you little bitches. You’re as bad as the gods-damned Non.”
“No, we are not,” the voice replied. “We are balance. We keep this world alive. They are chaos. They would plunge it into a dark age without hesitation. We cannot allow that.”
Dragomir growled out several curse words. Eventually the Catastrophe disappeared, though he felt it pulsing beneath his skin, ready and willing to emerge. The headache returned once it had vanished, a little worse than before but still manageable.
“That, to answer your earlier question, is how you can destroy them.” The voice adopted the flat disinterest of a bored teacher. “Your Catastrophe is what we refer to as a glitch. It is a byproduct of your unnatural creation. It exists only as a random quirk of our universe, one that we would normally have wiped out long ago. We cannot, however, as the Non - and, consequently, you - are not properly integrated into our system. We can only contain the Non using in-universe methods. That is the only reason they still exist.”
“I have no idea what that means,” Dragomir said, rubbing his forehead.
“You do not need to understand.” The voice remained patient, though Dragomir detected a hint of scorn. “Suffice it to say that we cannot create things of pure destruction such as the Catastrophe. We can, however, channel its power - once we analyze it properly. That will take time, time we do not have.”
“’n why’s that, eh?” Dragomir smiled sourly. “The Non knockin’ a bit too roughly on your door?”
“Your scorn notwithstanding, that is correct.” The voice grew harsh. “The regulator collective has been weakened by time, separation, and the strain of keeping the Non locked away for so long. Only recently have our composite parts come together again to face the Non threat, and they are currently insufficient to the task. Our resources are running low. We require more.”
Dragomir crossed his legs. He sensed where this was going. “Resources. You mean me. Not just me, either. You mean Pubton. Hell, ya probably mean everyone I’ve ever met.”
“Yes,” the voice agreed. “You were ever destined to lead an army into battle against the Non. We require you to distract them while we analyze your fully-realized Catastrophe. We had hoped to teach you how to tap into it ourselves, but time and circumstances were not on our side. We are… glad… that you have learned how to use it on your own.”
Dragomir thought back to his time with Iko. He bristled. “Whatever you say. Look, I don’t know what the hell you want to do with the Catastrophe, or whatever you wanna call it. That’s outta my range of expertise. But… me, leading an army? I can’t do that.”
“Yes, you can. You have a vast capacity for leadership.”
The white scenery surrounding Dragomir changed, flicking through several scenes of his past. His time in the hole, leading Cedric and Bernard down into the unknown. His resurrection in Goblinoster, and setting out to found a town. His innumerable hours in the fields of Pubton, tilling fields, watering crops, helping people. HIs defence of Pubton against the Non, yelling out frantic, often useless commands to his would-be troops and offering support at every turn. And, last, his decision to embark on a massive journey - and the instant acceptance of the entire town that his weird, perhaps stupid trip across the world was a worthy campaign.
“You see?” The voice sounded smug. “People will follow you. We do not necessarily understand why, nor do we have to understand. You are gifted. You can do this.”
Dragomir seized on a counterargument at once. Lifting one arm, he pinched his skin. It stretched and contorted, pulling unnaturally downward like a thick, muscular elastic band. He managed to stretch his skin nearly a foot before letting it go, whereupon his muscles rebounded, wobbled, and formed back into a featureless black arm. Evidence speaks for itself, he thought.
“No one needs to know,” the voice countered smoothly. “You have maintained your secret, quite unknowingly, for a long time. We had hoped you would never find out. Your Non heritage is not a prerequisite for wielding the Catastrophe, nor will it factor into our analysis of the glitch.”
Dragomir’s scowl deepened. He realized at this point that the voice would have a solid, reasonable argument against anything he could say to try and wriggle out of his supposed responsibility. He knew even something as petulant as ‘I don’t wanna do this shit anymore’ wouldn’t fly, because the voice could simply keep him trapped in this limbo until he agreed to do what it wanted.
Dragomir perked an ear.
“You need to do this for us,” the voice explained. “Because if you refuse, we will not be able to save you.”