The Nothings made short work of the dragons. Kierkegaard lamented his inability to deal with his opponents himself, but he enjoyed watching his playthings at work anyway.
Slumped against the leg of one of the Nothings, a tiny penguin with a mass of bandages on his shoulder, Kierkegaard slowly redressed himself. His medic, a wiry Non with nervous fingers, backed quickly away to give his general space. Kierkegaard approved of this, and he decided not to maim the man. Just this once, he’d show a little leniency.
Don’t kill ‘em all, Kierkegaard reminded himself, eyes fixated on a pulpy mass of dragon flesh nearby. It was festooned with barbs, each still connected to the Nothing standing over Kierkegaard. You need ‘em. The game ain’t done yet. Ain’t anywhere near done. Don’t sacrifice all the pawns ’til the fun is over.
Kierkegaard recognized the voice. It belonged to his aide, Shuster. He closed his eyes, sighing contentment. “I promoted myself. Killed a dragon, y’know. Call me something else.”
Though he was out of sight, Kierkegaard could tell that Shuster was shuffling his feet, afraid to speak. “Erm. My… my lord…?”
“I’m a military man, fool. I want a military title.” Kierkegaard rubbed his shoulder. “Don’t make me talk too much, either. I’m fuckin’ sore. Did you know dragons are tough SOBs? It’s fuckin’ true, kid.”
“I…” Shuster swallowed. “Oh. I’m… s… s… s…”
Kierkegaard waved a hand lazily. A portal appeared near Shuster’s head, and an enormous fingernail poked at his face.
“Augh!” Shuster jumped away, then stood stock-still. “I, I, I, I’m sorry! Sir! General… admiral… grand… master… maestro…”
“Maestro…?” Kierkegaard tapped his chin. “Hm. Kinda like that. Maestro Kierkegaard. Good work, Shuster.”
The aide’s quivering calmed, though only a little. He saluted Kierkegaard several times. “Yes! Maestro! Yes, sir! Fine… fine… fine name! I… it’s grand! It fits you so - “
“So why the fuck are you here, eh?” Kierkgaard opened his eyes, watching as a column of Non bounded past the Nothing and into Imperium territory. They were not the first, and they would be far from the last. “You must want something, ’n you’re makin’ me talk an awful lot to get to the point.”
Shuster’s trembling redoubled. He saluted three more times, then, pausing a half a beat to collect himself, the Non pushed ahead. “We… we have news from Commander Emmett, sir.”
Kierkegaard moved his fingers to a tune in his head, pretending to be a conductor. He tried to hum, but his phlegm-choked voice only produced a half-decent squawk of sound. “Ack. Fuckin’ dust. What about him? He fuck up again?”
“Erm…” Shuster shrank. “Well… the mission… you sent him on… appears to have been… unsuccessful. He did… erm…”
“No The Baron,” Kierkegaard finished for Shuster, fingers still dancing. “No Eve. ‘bout right?”
Shuster nodded, head bowed to his chest. “… yes, sir. The, ah, mission… was a complete failure. He… he also reports that he has… lost… his Freak.”
Kierkegaard hissed mild disapproval. “No more Freak? Aw. I liked that fuckin’ wretch. Pretty strong, too. Smelled like shit, though, so I guess it ain’t all bad.”
Stretching his legs, Kierkegaard rose slowly to his feet. He leaned against the toe of the Nothing, patting the rusted metal casually as he picked bits of drying blood from his fingers. A horde of Sky Dwarves buzzed past in the far distance, and Kierkegaard wondered if the Nothing’s screaming barbs would be accurate enough to pick the little creatures out of the sky.
“So. No Eve. That sucks. But we’ll make do.” Kierkegaard shrugged. “I want a full debriefing. Get me every detail ‘bout his mission, ’n where The Baron might be. Once that’s done, get him back to workin’ on his stitch monsters. Put him in his own damned body, too. He’s no good as a fuckin’ pimple.”
Shuster hesitated. He seemed lost for words, every little shuffle of his feet a question.
“What? Need somethin’ else, antsy?” Kierkegaard glared at Shuster. “You’re startin’ to bug me, you know. All this talking.”
“Er, er! Sorry!” Shuster saluted for perhaps the tenth time. “But, erm… well, Commander Emmett already passed on news of where The Baron is likely to be, sir. And Eve.”
“Oh?” Kierkegaard scratched his stomach, feeling the first pangs of hunger since his meal of shredded, raw beef earlier that day. “Don’t leave me hangin’, bro. You won’t like me when you leave me hangin’. Where is he?”