Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Day Nine-Twenty-Five: Tables Turned

We’re gonna what?

Dragomir didn’t know. What he did know is that when he woke up, he was crouched on the ground like some angry predator, in the shadow of an enormous, tottering machine. The ruined Nothing didn’t look like it was going to move any time soon, but he decided not to take his chances and hopped away, head still buzzing with pain and the remnants of sleep.

He hadn’t missed a whole lot, apparently, since his body went on auto-pilot and forced him to land safely. Another of the Nothings on the front lines had gone down, and through the chaos high above him Dragomir spied Eve rushing to another of the great machines. She was their ultimate weapon, the only one who could really take the Nothings down in a hurry, and he’d hoped everyone else could distract their attention enough for Eve to do her work. So far they seemed to be succeeding -

- especially as far as Kierkegaard was concerned. The penguin did not look happy.

Kierkegaard had staggered out of the pack of Nothings, one hand gone, the other limp, his body surrounded by portals. Plato was standing in front of the enormous Non, clumsily hopping from side to side to avoid the constant barrage of portals appearing at his feet. Every now and then Plato would swipe his scythe down at a portal, and it would pop shut, sparking a yelp from Kierkegaard. Dragomir watched this happen a few times before something clicked in the back of his head.

That’s why he shut Plato up in the first place, isn’t it? He thought dimly. That’s why he tossed Plato into his… dimension… thing… whatever the hell it is… for a thousand years… because Plato could hurt him in a way no one else could. Wish I’d known that a long time ago… 

“YOU THINK YOU’RE BETTER THAN ME?!” Kierkegaard lashed out with a clumsy kick at the platypus, but it was far too obvious for Plato not to avoid. “FUCK! YOU WERE NOTHING THEN AND YOU’RE NOTHING NOW-

Kierkegaard’s harangue ended with a pained grunt as a cannonball exploded against his face. Wheeling around, the Non turned his glare on the Sky Bitch, swooping in low from a distance to deliver a vicious broadside against his shoulders. Kierkegaard redirected a cluster of portals in front of his face, and the cannonballs immediately changed trajectory, flying back towards the Sky Bitch through a second, overlapping field of portals. The crew was apparently ready for this, though, and the ship immediately pulled up and away with only minimal damage. 

In the meantime, Plato used the distraction to destroy a dozen of Kierkegaard’s errant portals. Each time he did, Kierkegaard’s discomfort seemed to grow, and by the time he’d turned his attention back to Plato oozing blood flowed freely from Kierkegaard’s skeletal beak.

Another Nothing fell. Harpoon screams, which had previously seemed almost omnipresent, began to wane significantly. Scanning the battlefield, Dragomir noticed Cedric and Antonio working on bringing down another of the great machines, Antonio on the defensive while Cedric smashed at its feet with his mighty legs. Their assault seemed to have given the Imperium time to rebound, as well, and the cannons from the direction of Rodentia roared once again, pushing the front line of Nothings back. Through some miracle, they were -

And that’s when Dragomir fell into the ground.

Dragomir had not consciously experienced codespace for some time. It was as he’d remembered: an unending field of stars, tinged with a sense of awe the likes of which could not be known by any but a child with no knowledge of the world. But this codespace felt wrong, as though it was somehow fouler than the rest, and as he floated freely through Dragomir thought he saw other things floating with him: a bone, a globule of blood, the remains of a dead animal… a man’s head. The stars were red, and Dragomir knew where he was.

This was confirmed seconds later, when his own head popped out of a green-ringed portal in front of Kierkegaard. The portal’s exit snapped shut around Dragomir’s neck, holding him in place. 

“HOLD… HOLD YOUR FUCKIN’ FIRE!” Kierkegaard demanded, huffing. He’d dropped to one knee, apparently quite hurt by the combination of Plato and the Sky Bitch. Dragomir wondered if the toll of constantly campaigning for a year had also taken a toll on the penguin. “I’VE GOT YOUR FUCKIN’ MASTERMIND, HERE, AND IF YOU DON’T PISS OFF I’LL SNIP HIS PRECIOUS LITTLE HEAD! SO JUST BACK THE FUCK OFF!

Shit, thought Dragomir. He struggled to breathe properly. Shit shit shit. I… how did I get into this mess… how did I not notice…

Plato was the only one to initially notice Dragomir’s tiny floating head, and he waved frantically at the Sky Bitch to hold off. The ship was about to move in for another barrage, and one cannon actually went off, before somebody apparently spotted him as well. The ship abruptly veered off course and took up a circling patrol around Kierkegaard, guns always pointed at the penguin.

Another Nothing fell.

“Tell… your fucking brat… to cut that out…” Kierkegaard demanded, clearly speaking to Dragomir. “I’m… I’m almost out… of toys…”

“Go… fuck… yourself…” Dragomir gasped. 

The portal around Dragomir’s neck tightened, crushing his windpipe. His gasping turned into choking, and his eyes widened. He tried to use his liquid Non skin to wriggle free, but Kierkegaard was apparently wise to that, and he thinned his portal so much that it was no larger than a wedding band. Dragomir suspected he looked almost comical, his oily black neck squeezed to the diameter of a noodle, and he struggled uselessly.

Tell her,” Kierkegaard hissed, spitting out a large glob of blood. “Or I’ll pop your head clean off, Dragofuck.

Dragomir didn’t know how he was supposed to tell anyone anything. His lungs felt like they were about to burst, his eyes goggled, and his body flailed in codespace, grasping for purchase and finding nothing in the void. Dragomir was dimly aware of something squishy rebounding off of his foot, and part of him wanted to know what it was, and another part desperately did not. He felt his bowels releasing as death approached, and he tried, he actually tried to cry out, but his voice had fled him, and his vision started to go as black as his skin.

He only had one option, really. So he took it. He let go.

The result of his release of control was nothing short of spectacular. The Catastrophe erupted from Dragomir’s fingertips as an unseen force, exploding outward in a torrent of deadly sparks. They shredded through Kierkegaard’s codespace, destroying the fabric of existence immediately around Dragomir’s neck in a bright flash. Dragomir fell free of Kierkegaard’s ruined portal and flopped onto the ground, body thudding hard into the dirt twenty feet below. The wound he’d left in the air would never repair itself, remaining a strange, starry curiosity in the sky for years to come. 

Kierkegaard screamed, tumbling backward and falling on his rear. Every one of the portals he’d conjured disappeared, and when he raised his one limp hand to conjure more, nothing happened.

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