Friday, October 2, 2015

Day Nine-Hundred-Eighteen: Well, we're done here

Kierkegaard’s insides turned to glass, and the unease burbling in the pit of his stomach roiled into a thick burn. 

“HE KEPT ME IMPRISONED FOR A THOUSAND YEARS!” Plato yelled, into his own cylinder. His voice was surprisingly strong, for someone with such poor self-esteem, and Kierkegaard wondered where he’d picked up his voice. He’d certainly not had one for a very long time. “HE TORTURED ME! HE BERATED ME! HE MOCKED ME! I SAW NOTHING OF THIS WORLD FOR A VERY LONG TIME, BECAUSE HE WANTED TO PLAY OUT A SICK LITTLE GAME OF MESSING WITH ME! MY LIFE WAS A NIGHTMARE UNTIL HE NEEDED TO SET ME FREE!”

That was true. Kierkegaard had been forced to throw Plato away. With Plato stuck inside his portals for so long, Kierkegaard had been powerless. He’d been forced to maintain a dimensional prison for the platypus in order to prevent him from escaping, because as powerful as Kierkegaard ways, he could still be bested. He could still be beaten. He needed to keep Plato contained.

“HE TOLD ME THINGS!” Plato quacked, voice increasing in intensity. He couldn’t quite bring himself to look straight at Kierkegaard, but he looked close enough, and somehow that filled the penguin with pride. “HE SAID HE WANTED TO KILL! HE SAID HE LOVED IT! HE SAID HE’D START WITH NON-NON AND MOVE ON TO NON, BECAUSE ‘NON-NON’ SOUNDED SILLY AND STUPID TO HIM WHEN HE SAID IT OUT LOUD! HE IS SICK, AND TWISTED, AND HE WILL DRAG YOU DOWN TO RUIN!”

Eyes slowly moved to look at Kierkegaard. A lot of them were glaring. Kierkegaard looked back, realizing that none of them, none of them, were disbelieving. They all bought in to the platypus’s words. And why not? They were true. Though his rationale was not quite as silly as Plato believed. That was just an excuse to get blood on his hands, as if he needed an excuse.

“THESE TWO NON,” Dragomir said, leaping from his perch and over to Titan Blue’s feet, “HAVE COME A LONG WAY, AND THROUGH A GREAT DEAL OF TROUBLE, TO BE HERE! THE BIG ONE IS THE FIRST NON THAT EVER OUTWARDLY TALKED TO ME! SHE WAS PRETTY COOL! THE OTHER IS SOME KIND OF DUCK THING, WHICH I WON’T JUDGE! HE HAS TRAVELLED WITH ME A LOT! BOTH OF THEM ARE INCREDIBLY BRAVE FOR TELLING THE TRUTH, AND I KNOW ALL OF YOU ALREADY BELIEVE WHAT THEY’VE SAID, BECAUSE YOU’RE STILL LISTENING!

Kierkegaard’s mustachios twitched, ever so slightly.

“YOU NEED TO STOP!” Dragomir insisted. He pointed to Titan Blue. “WE’RE GOING TO MAKE OUR CASE TO YOU! AND WHEN WE’RE DONE, YOUR WAR, I HOPE, WILL BE OVER! WILL YOU LISTEN?”

Heads on the other side of the battlefield were, to Kierkegaard’s small delight, shaking. ‘No’. But the Non, ah, the Non, almost all of them were nodding. They seemed willing to listen, willing to learn, and if they learned too much… hell, they had already learned too much… then he was done for. They would strip him of his generalship, revoke his status among the Non, and, at best, cast him out. Perhaps they would try him for war crimes. Perhaps they would execute him. Worse, perhaps they would find a way to lock him into his own powers, forever trapped in the same limbo he’d used to ensnare so many victims over the years.

And Kierkegaard realized, or perhaps acknowledged, that he just didn’t give a fuck.

Before Dragomir could do more than start another sentence Kierkegaard activated his powers, triggering a trio of portals. One appeared a distance away, as closely to Plato as Kierkegaard could get, and he rammed an enormous claw out at the platypus. His fingers crushed downward -

- and hit empty air, because from slyness or surprise, Plato somehow managed to dodge out of the way. He fell, quacking distress, to the ground. Dragomir helped him to his feet.

Kierkegaard hopped into the second portal. He emerged above one of the two Nothings that were slowly approaching the centre of the battlefield. It didn’t take long for people to find him - but that was partly because he used the third portal to steal Dragomir’s cylinder. He held the loudspeaker up to his beak, staring down at the mass of black as the Non turned to face him, their hostility now obvious.

“I’M NOT INTERESTED IN LISTENING TO YOUR FUCKIN’ LECTURES!” Kierkegaard pointed at the Non. “TO FUCK AND SHIT WITH IT! YOU WANT A PARIAH? RIGHT HERE, BABY! I WAS GONNA TURN YOU MORONS INTO UNTHINKING WEAPONS! I ADMIT THE HELL OUT OF THAT! YOU’RE INEFFICIENT PUSSIES, THE WAY YOU ARE! I WANTED TO IMPROVE ON YOUR KILLING SKILLS! YOU THINK YOU CAN SHAME ME WITH OLD STORIES? I’M FUCKING PROUD OF WHAT I WAS GOING TO DO! I WON’T EVEN GIVE YA TIME TO OUT ME! LET’S GET OUR MAYHEM ON, BABY!”

The Nothings had no opinion on the matter. They only knew that they’d imprinted on Kierkegaard. When he ordered, they attacked.

Though the Non were still going strong in the Imperium, Kierkegaard was not under any illusion that his army was doing well. It was down to half of its original strength after months of constant warring. That was as much by design as his pushy personality, because Kierkegaard knew he couldn’t control all of the Non. It wasn’t a done thing. So he’d concocted a campaign, a brutal, slogging, almost pointless campaign, designed to sap the Non of their innate strength and leave them susceptible to attack from within.

The attack, it seemed, had failed. Now Kierkegaard needed to extricate himself from ‘within’. ‘Within’ had gotten fruitless. And boring.

The Nothings whistled on both sides of the battlefield, flanking the Non and piercing them from above with pinpoint accuracy. Kierkegaard danced atop one of his mighty war machines, watching Non after Non fall to the flying harpoons. Soon they were screaming, a combination of fear, rage, and neutral betrayal, and Kierkegaard waved his fingers as though he were conducting a symphony, standing on one leg as he did. It was a moment he’d long anticipated, and he relished it.

The battle fell apart. The Imperium, apparently content to let the Non fall into disarray, pulled back. The Non themselves took several long minutes before they managed to rally and fight back. In that time, Kierkegaard calculated that he killed a little less than half of them. He made sure to personally kill a few with his portals, pulling the same trick he’d tried to use on Plato with greater success. When the Non showed even the slightest hint of getting at him, Kierkegaard teleported away, leaving the Nothings to fight with their last mental order still going strong.

From a distance, hiding in a tree, Kierkegaard watched as two armies pulled his Nothings down. He watched as the empire he’d kept a stranglehold on for two years abruptly, viciously turned on him. And he grinned the entire time, because he had more war machines where those came from, and most of them in near-perfect condition.


“Now,” he mumbled, stroking one mustachio, “it gets really fun.”

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