Plato suffered through interrogation after interrogation for more than three weeks. More than twenty people died interrogating him. Plato lost track of the number after twenty.
Plato could no longer maintain his regular platypus shape. He was, at all times, a blobby, nondescript Non. The only remnants of his former appearance were his thick, stubby fingers. He took very little pride in the fact, as he missed the rest of his features more than his fingers. Stubby fingers always got in the way.
The regulators noted as much as Plato could teach them. Kierkegaard was an ace student. He’d learned how to use and manipulate his powers far more quickly than anyone else. Iko had once said that Kierkegaard possessed the potential to be the most powerful pure Non in history. The son of a Non colonel, he’d known the good life for many years - until the regulators had taken it away from him.
Plato didn’t know much about Kierkegaard’s powers. They seemed so much more potent than their time in school, where Plato’s had barely developed at all in the last thousand years. But he could tell the regulators many stories of Kierkegaard’s cruelty, and those spilled out of Plato’s mouth with fierce rapidity. Most of the time, especially after the first ten interrogator deaths, they emerged from Plato as plain English.
The time Kierkegaard had peed on Plato in the changing room.
The time Kierkegaard had stuffed Plato into a garbage can.
The time Kierkegaard had sabotaged one of Plato’s school projects, earning Plato a zero and Kierkegaard an 85.
The time Kierkegaard challenged Plato to a duel, in front of the entire school, and then ‘accidentally’ killed Plato’s pet hamster.
The time Kierkegaard stole Plato’s girlfriend. She disappeared several weeks later, victim of a boating accident that Kierkegaard escaped uninjured.
The time Kierkegaard confessed to Plato, in a whispered, happy frenzy, that he’d eaten Plato’s girlfriend. His first recorded act of cannibalism, and far from his last.
The time Kierkegaard assaulted Plato because the regulators had sealed their home away…
… and the time Kierkegaard shoved Plato into a pocket dimension, to stew for a thousand years, simply because Kierkegaard wanted ‘company’ while he travelled.
The regulators seemed content with these stories for a while, and their interrogations were not so cruel. But Plato could not provide concrete information as to Kierkegaard’s specific powers beyond imprisonment, and so, eventually, regulator cruelty returned full force. They tortured him, sometimes because he did not provide adequate answers, sometimes because he wasn’t paying enough attention, sometimes, simply, because he was a Non, and therefore unworthy of existence.
In his final interrogation, Plato screamed a string of obscenities at his latest interrogator, even as the man gasped out dying breaths. Plato cursed the regulators, cursed the Non, cursed the world. Then he passed out. Somehow this brought the line of torture to an end.
The next day, back in his cell, Plato received a visitor. It was not his usual guard with the usual meal. It was, instead, an old woman, dressed in fine robes and walking on a cane. She nodded a cordial greeting to him as she entered his cell. Plato did not return the nod, instead looking her over for signs of a rat. He didn’t see any, and indeed, her eyes looked normal.
“Hello. I’ve been wanting to see you for a while, now. My name is Arabella.” She tapped her cane against the flagstones. “I apologize for the accommodations. The masters insisted that you be separated from everyone else.”
Plato stared blankly at the woman. Her words didn’t mean much of anything.
“I come with bad tidings, though… judging by the state of your person, you may take it as a blessing.” Arabella looked at Plato from amorphous head to amorphous toe, grimacing. “You look like hell. Can you take your original shape anymore?”
Plato shook his head, feeling his flat black skin sag in a dozen places.
“A pity. I thought you were quite adorable when they brought you in.” Arabella cleared her throat. “Enough banter. I have come here today to announce your sentence, as handed down by the masters of the Imperium. Plato the Platypus, I hereby - “
“Reaper,” Plato mumbled.
Arabella stopped. Then, taking a step forward, she stooped on her cane to listen. “Pardon?”
“Reaper,” Plato repeated, voice thick and quirky but otherwise understandable. “My… my teacher… named me… Plato the Reaper. Reaper. That’s… that’s my name.”
“Oh.” Arabella bowed, plainly confused why such a creature would earn so ominous a name. “Very well. Plato the Reaper, then. In any event, I hereby decree, on the authority of the masters of the Imperium, that you are to be executed for crimes against the republic. You will be held, and interrogated, until such a time as the masters of the Imperium no longer have a need for you. Do you understand?”
Plato thought he should be enraged. He didn’t have the power for it, though, and croaked “Sure.”
“Very well.” Arabella straightened, adjusting her robes. She pursed her lips. “I am sorry. I can tell this is an unjust sentencing. I didn’t want to bring you the news… not of my own volition, anyway… but the masters… insisted. I don’t know why. I’m… I’m truly sorry.”
“Whatever.” Plato’s wide, green eyes stared at the floor. “Can I be… alone, please?”
The door to Plato’s cell slid shut. Once the sounds of Arabella’s footsteps disappeared into the distance, Plato began to cry. He cried for almost an hour, long after his tears had dried up and his face was wracked by dry, painful hiccups. It was not the end he would have imagined, and especially not the end he’d planned.
Somewhere far away, a dragon crashed through a wall.