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chapter_9 [2009/12/11 18:21] (current)
doan created
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 +Gyiiyg opened his eyes.
 +He was floating. From the loud, low-pitched humming noise and bright yellow column of light, he guessed he was being suspended in a tractor beam. An experimental flick of his tail told him that he could not move. In addition to the beam, there were heavy shackles around his wrists, ankles, neck and tail. There were also several wall-mounted lasers and armed automated security drones targeted at his head. The forms of at least ten guards of varying colour and shoulder adornment – mostly Deluxes – blinked in and out of view, their eyes never leaving their constant vigilance of his every attempted move.
 +
 +Someone's paranoid, thought Gyiiyg. There was a psychic dampener fitted around his forehead that was completely scrambling his higher level telekinetic abilities but his empathy was still working slightly. He could taste their fear. This much fear around a helpless prisoner. It meant either that they genuinely couldn't hold him successfully for much longer, or they at least thought they couldn't. Either he could get out of here easily or he was going to get shot.
 +
 +He was surprisingly free of pain. Confused, maybe, but not physically hurt. Whatever had happened during the strange dream, it had rendered him incapable of fighting. They had most probably just grabbed him and directly teleported him here while he was distracted.
 +
 +“Deluxe 201-197-168-001 to Superior 311-276-911-033. The prisoner is awake.”
 +
 +He heard the crackle of a radio. His ears pricked up. His senses were still being enhanced as well. This dampener really wasn't working. His mind ran over possibilities for removing it without his telekinesis. Would coercion still work? Maybe he could ask the guard nicely to take it off...
 +
 +“Understood. I shall report this to the Alpha at once. Begin readying the prisoner for the trial. Remember, that prisoner is under ultra-maximum security. Use every possible measure when transporting him. Do NOT remove his psychic dampener!”
 +
 +No, DO remove my dampener, thought Gyiiyg loudly into the guard's ear. It didn't work. Oh well... He watched the guards flit back and forth, adjusting dials and switches on the mechanisms holding him in place. He recognised a teleport breaker shield and several teleport redirectors placed at odd angles around him like mirrors refracting a ray of sunlight. He guessed they would redirect him straight back to his cell if he tried to teleport out and somehow got past the breaker, or tried to redirect their own teleport when they moved him – he guessed that they would teleport him into the courtroom. It would be how a dangerous prisoner would be moved around back on Dictory, if  Warden Gielgud didn't think he could handle them just by dragging them there using his famous tail extension. After half an hour's work, the guards took their stations at strategic points in the room and all pressed their switch at once. He heard a SCHWRRRRRRP noise and felt the pull of something that felt like ten cybernetically augmented teleports at once, all to the same place. It was a little like how he imagined it would be like to be shot out of his ship's neutron cannon.
 +
 +When he reappeared, he found himself immediately locked back in place by an equally powerful tractor beam. The restraints automatically clicked back into their various places. He winced – he didn't like anything unexpected happening near his tail.
 +
 +“The prisoner has arrived.” called a voice. Gyiiyg's eyes whipped around to follow the voice. It was then that he saw the full majesty of the court room.
 +
 +Although the chamber was pitch dark, he could clearly see the outline because of the lighting of all the machines. Strips of blue neon lights followed wires and pipes up the walls and thousands of little lights indicating the status of the machines that covered the walls, controlling the conditions of the chamber. The lights were not synchronised and gave the effect of a wave, of something alive. This was not a place where the people were in charge, neither were the machines. There was no differences between the people and the machines, in a way that transcended normal full body cybernetics. Starmen WERE the ghost in the machine. The chamber was a metal diamond shape with irregular walls and some kind of frieze on the ceiling, a Starman-shaped figure of some great importance lit by a sprinkling of lights that seemed to indicate a clear, starry night sky. Underneath it were the series of straight lines and boxes that constitute the Starman language. Gyiiyg understood the basics of the language but this was a very formal, archaic version that was meaningless to him. The main lights, illuminating thick tubes that were so cold that he could feel the burning from here and see steam rising from them, met at the cross pieces of the diamond and ran down the floor, broken by an enormous podium, slim and metallic, arching at the top. The word 'justice' was inscribed on the top. Smaller podiums faced the same and the opposite directions. A moebius ring of seats suspended slightly above the floor surrounded the podiums. He could see small groups of Starmen start to file into the seats, sitting with others of their rank, Juniors, Deluxes, Supers, Superiors, Finals and Ghosts. The Starman who sat in the large podium glowed a dark blue and had larger versions of the elite spikes on their shoulderpads.
 +
 +Gyiiyg watched them organise themselves into their correct places – this took the scarily efficient Starmen very little time – then perform some kind of elaborate ceremony he didn't understand, involving a staff engraved with stars. It was only then that they bothered to speak to him.
 +
 +“We meet here in the Revered Court of Watchtower Thule to witness the trial of Gyiiyg Gynoug, known to the Starman people as Giygas, the Universal Cosmic Destroyer.” said the Starman in blue, who Gyiiiyg decided was the judge, “Giygas, you have been charged with war crimes against the Starman Nation. In the year 199X, you hacked, corrupted and reprogrammed Watchtower Lambda  and all its inhabitants, before enslaving them and using them to invade planet Earth in an illegal war, causing losses numbering twenty thousand Starmen and millions of Earth inhabitants. In addition to this unforgivable crime, your actions also caused massive spatiotemporal paradox causing actual risk of supra-galactic-level destabilisation. This was all without authorisation of your superiors in the Dictory Armed Forces. How do you plead?” 
 +
 +“Not guilty.” replied Gyiiyg, wishing he could twitch his tail. He understood why he wasn't totally shielded now – so he could speak through telepathy. There was no other way they could really communicate with him.
 +
 +“Very well. Let me present the evidence.” the Starman indicated the Final on his right, who pressed a button on the underside of his podium, “This footage was recorded at various points throughout the history of the 199X incident by a Mr. Ninten Franklin, using highest quality data-memory savestate recording, with images captured by a Rabbi Aaron Leder.”
 +
 +Gyiiyg watched with dangerous patience as the projectors whirred into life, placing words, pictures and raw data all around the walls in a digital montage. Much of it was in formats Gyiiyg could not actually read but he could tell by the content of the pictures and the fevered level of horror, outrage and traumatised remembrance of incidents they were forced to relive, that this was indeed a record of his invasion of Earth when he was Giygas. Unable even to flinch, to wrap himself in his tail, a wave of horror ran through him like the panic of one who was drowning in a wave of crimson static, an insanity that once again crept into his mind as if even its memory held enough physical presence to live again within him. He instinctively tried to Brainshock himself but the psychic dampener blocked it. However, he found that he was not going insane – it was only a memory, now. The current truth... the present truth was...
 +
 +“The incident is clearly shown here. How do you counter this incontrovertible evidence?”
 +
 +“That incident did in fact happen.” said Gyiiyg, his voice shaking slightly, “But the one who set it in motion was not me.”
 +
 +“Explain yourself. Are you saying that these were the actions of another? You – in your Giygas form, and you cannot deny that Giygas is yourself, as they share the same data signature in the Universal Savestate Pattern – are clearly shown to be the cause of all these events.”
 +
 +“Giygas is not sentient. It is not an agent.” said Gyiiyg, “Giygas by this point is corrupted to the level that it is barely a coherent enough entity to be classified as a virus. Scan that data for damage if you do not believe me.”
 +
 +There was another pause as the engineer did as Gyiiyg suggested. The repair program almost immediately scrolled through millions of irreparable errors, text flashing red, before crashing one second later, freezing the entire system. The engineers silently left their seats to go and perform areboot. 
 +
 +“It appears this is true.” conceded the judge, “But a virus, or extremely corrupted file beyond our ability to repair, will receive the same treatment as a condemned prisoner, I'm afraid. Irrevocable deletion.”
 +
 +The last two words echoed through the chamber, which suddenly felt a lot harsher and colder. He could hear every clank of footsteps on the metal floor, every hum and beep of machinery, every whine as somebody teleported.
 +
 +“If you delete me, your last lead will be gone.” said Gyiiyg, still meeting the eyes of the judge, “You will be unable to find out what happened to create Giygas. You will be unable to avenge your fallen. It is possible for it to even happen again.”
 +
 +The field around the judge's suit became slightly irregular for a second, betraying what passed for emotion among Starmen. The idea of a recurrence of the Giygas phenomenon had obviously made its impact.
 +
 +“I advise you to make no further attempts to blackmail or threaten this court.”
 +
 +“I am explaining the reality of what is happening.” said Gyiiyg, “What is more, the official orders to attack were never given by me. I admit that I was planning an invasion of Earth. I have a grudge against the planet for personal reasons. I assembled an army. I made plans to hire the Watchtower as mercenaries for a fair price. I wanted to fight according to the laws of war.”
 +
 +“Earth is an undefended planet. There is no way to legally invade it.”
 +
 +“I beg to differ. I have fought against Earth before and was forced to retreat. I was beaten by four warriors. You can find it in your records.” said Gyiiyg, “You will also find in your records that all actions can be traced to a machine called the Devil Machine that is controlled by an Earthling called Pokey Minch.”
 +
 +A long pause. The machine had not yet been rebooted. Gyiiyg was impressed by the way they responded to the sudden major technical malfunction. Either they had contingent plans for everything, had specifically expected this to happen or were incapable of panicking. 
 +
 +“You were the machine's Operator. You were directly wired to it.”
 +
 +“Involuntarily. I was not given any authority at all. I was only a figurehead Operator necessary to complete the circuit. No orders were given by me.”
 +
 +“You were still responsible for the events. You were a part of the machine. Therefore, you share the responsibility of the machine.”
 +
 +“It was involuntary.” said Gyiiyg, shuddering as he remembered waking up still inside it, deactivated and silent now but still wrapped around him intrusively like the intestines of a beast that had eaten and defecated him. He had been ejected the instant it had realised he was independent from it, not attached to it and was having serious, calculated thoughts of destroying it, “And whether justice demands my deletion or not, deleting me will not stop the machine from being activated again. Furthermore, it will hinder its deactivation. I am synchronised with the machine. One who is not, would not even be able to exist in the same space or time as it, never mind destroy it. You do not even know what the machine is.”
 +
 +“What is... the machine?”
 +
 +“The machine is...”
 +
 +It hit him like a tidal wave of white static. He was swept away in an instant and he was somewhere else.
 +
 +gbottom of a basin, the snow piling up all around him. Would he be buried? This didn't seem to matter, as it didn't matter that he was free to move again. None of that had even happened. Not in this life. He knelt down. Then he flicked his tail and used it to draw in the snow. He stalked in a circle, drawing an intricate pentagram, filling it with impossibly angled sigils and ancient words, words so old that they had never existed on any world that he had been on. He worked for half and hour,s  making sure that every sigil was exactly precise. Then he walked to the middle of the circle and rested for a moment. Finally, he stood up, raised both arms up to the sky, raised his tail then thumped it to the ground with an echoing crash that caused the ground to tremble and loosened snowdrifts.
 +
 +“I summon thee, my Lieutenants!” he yelled in Dictory, “I summon thee, oh Company of the Lost Quartet! Tent Person, Dung Beetle, Snow Bunny, Train, Clayman, Aeolia's Table, Mini Elevator, Sign! I summon thee! It is time! It is time to rise again and return once more to battle!”
 +
 +Gyiiyg's words echoed through the canyon. Suddenly, the ground began to shake even more violently. Cracks were forming in the ground around him. The snow whipped up into a maelstrom, obscuring any view of the outside world. Just inside the circle, the ground gave way entirely, forcing him to jump back. A glowing white mist began to pour out. Then the mist turned red as though through a trick of the light of some dying crimson star. Black veins streaked it. Something pulled its way out. It was a Dictory around the same size as Gyiiyg himself, his skin a dull grey covered by silvery grey armour. It had some kind of cyberware on one side of its face, covering one eye, and a cross-shaped green mark on its forehead. As soon as it was out of the crack, something else flew out. It was bright yellow and had white wings – obviously a Dictory, but Gyiiyg had never heard of a flying Dictory outside of mythology. Another climbed out, with the appearance of a small human boy, naked. Its twin brothers crawled out behind it, clothed this time, one with round, vague, blurry eyes like pools of static. He did not smell human. Then there was another flash of red light, something insubstantial, shapeless but definitely there, something that flashed and streamed in and out of existence, bright red walls and doors cutting reality at right angles. The vague twin's face was reflected in its eyes. At first they lay on the floor or hovered in the air and looked around them, confused, feeling around as if using senses they had not used for such a long time. Then they seemed to organise themselves and stood before Gyiiyg. They bowed as one, or made some kind of obeisance by flattening their forms to the ground or dimming their shade of red if they didn't have physical bodies.
 +
 +“General Gyiiyg, we arrive at your command.” said the winged one, whom Gyiiyg knew to be called Tent Person.
 +
 +“We are prepared to do as we must do.” said the grey one, Dung Beetle.
 +
 +“Let us strike at once.” said the non-vague clothed boy, Train. The vague boy, Clayman, knelt behind him, as if subordinating himself to his brother.
 +
 +“Yes, we shall strike into their heart!” yelled Gyiiyg, then with an even fiercer roar, bearing his jagged teeth: “Company of the Lost Quartet, ATTACK!”
 +
 +Using his tail as leverage, he pounced forwards and loped through the raging blizzard on all fours, his small army running, flying, oozing or streaming behind him, their own battle cries ringing through the air as they brandished whatever weapons they had.
 +
 +“ONE! TWO! THREE! FIVE!” they roared, “ONE! TWO! THREE! FIVE! ONE! TWO! ONE! TWO!”
 +
 +Gyiiyg felt the familiar battle lust take him. It felt so good to be charging into an ordinary battle, a combat of wits and power, where he was himself and life was simple again. And the thrill of being so close to the final battle...
 +
 +“NO.”
 +
 +He was about to swing his arms back and jump off a cliff, already flexing his tail to grab the overhanging ledge on the far side, when the voice sounded inside his head. It was her. He could see her face in the clouds. His Company jerked to a halt as soon as he did and buzzed with paranoia as he jerked his head from side to side, snarling.
 +
 +“GYIIYG, YOU MUST NOT OPEN THE FINAL DOOR.”
 +
 +“GYIIYG, NO. LISTEN TO ME, IT IS NOT READY, NOT SAFE YET. IT HAS NOT FULLY MANIFESTED. YOU MUST TURN BACK...”
 +
 +“GYIIYG... NO... TURN BACK...”
 +
 +Maybe it was just the reflection of light from Sign's lucent form but as Gyiiyg looked down at his tail, in the mood to thwack someone with it, it glowed with an unearthly red glow and seemed to twist and distort...
 +
 +“GYIIYG GYIIYG GYIIYG GYIIYG GYIIYG GYIIYG GYIIYG GYIIYG GYIIYG GYIIYG GYIIYG GYIIYG GYIIYG GYIIYG GYIIYG...”
 +
 +“Gyiiyg! Wake up this instant!”
 +
 +He coughed and spat blood as the Brainshock hit him directly in his cerebral cortex. From the way his whole body was racked in agony, it wasn't the first time they had used the technique on him.
 +
 +“How dare you fall asleep in court, you deplorable miscreant!” yelled the judge, “I would declare you in contempt of court, except that it really wouldn't make much difference to your sentence.”
 +
 +Gyiiyg's ears stood straight on end and he narrowed his eyes to stare at the judge with the same eyes that had ordered planets disintegrated.
 +
 +“Gyiiyg Gynoug, upon light of damning evidence and a lack of anything remotely resembling proof of your innocence, sanity or data integrity, this court deems you a virus and sentences you to be irrevocably deleted by pulsar electromagnet. May the Night-Watchman have mercy upon your... what am I talking about? Spectral entities don't survive deletion. Disappear into the void, foul reprobate.”
 +
 +Gyiiyg felt a chill rise within his every particle of being, no, even at an informational level, a terror so primal that even machines felt it. Deletion. Absolute nonexistence. To never be, have been or have the potential to be. To leave no mark on the savestate record of the Universe. Worse than death could ever be. And, worst of all, for a crime he knew he had not committed. He had seen it, back there; in the Remotest Place, outside the Gates, at the End Game, before the Decisive Battle...
 +
 +“Take the prisoner back to his holding cell!” yelled the judge. Gyiiyg heard the whine of the machines and felt the pull of the teleportation techniques already working upon him. He REALLY hated having his tailed pulled. Maybe I could find some loophole, he thought, a weak link to break, get out of here, rend all of these enemies limb from limb... but he knew there were none. Starmen were thorough. Fighting their ships out in the depths of space, that was one thing – and he had almost lost that battle – but fighting his way out of being imprisoned on their own territory with virtually no functionality in his psychic powers or his tail, in a weakened, possibly half-mad state... he was doomed. They considered themselves watchmen, guardians. Executing prisoners was one of those things they were really good at. At least they would make a clean kill. He could already hear the low, dull whine of the pulsar electromagnet starting up. Another machine requiring an entire star to power it... energy efficiency was not one of their strong points... Gyiiyg narrowed his eyes. Lamenting the waste was only thing he could think of to do in order to quell the fear threatening to consume him. Fear brings insanity... insanity brings Giygas... I will be free in my last moments...
 +
 +“STOP!”
 +
 +Suddenly, the entire court stopped what they were doing. The lights on their suits winked out. The machines fell silent, including the electromagnet, and their lights blinked out too. The chamber was plunged into pitch darkness, a darkness overshadowed only by the unbeing of deletion itself, a darkness that bred more darkness, as alive as the black ink on a master painter's brush. Silence soon followed. Silence and static.
 +
 +Silence and darkness except for one being. A Starman who stood or floated – Gyiiyg couldn't tell – in the centre of the room, his bright orange energy field with the shoulder pads shaped like a cluster of hollow squares pulsing on and off with the exact cadence of the Watchtower's control systems. His arms were outstretched like a blocker Lemming.
 +
 +“A... announcing the arrival of the... the...”
 +
 +“The Night-Watchman.” the figure finished for him in a dead neutral tone. With a wave of his right hand, the systems flickered to life again. This time the lights were all orange, except those of the other Starmen.
 +
 +“F... forgive me...” Gyiiyg had never, ever heard a Starman sound flustered. Or ask for forgiveness for anything. And for a Starman to dim the lights of their suit... “I... If this trial is somehow not to your liking...”
 +
 +“This man is innocent.”
 +
 +“Of course... your word is law, as always... I apologise for even presuming... but could I possibly be so insolent as to ask how you came to this verdict, so I can correct my own reasoning?”
 +
 +“A second Giygas phenomenon has been located. It corresponds to the data pattern of Pokey Minch.”
 +
 +“WHERE?” Gyiiyg practically screamed down his telepathic channel.
 +
 +“Saturn Valley, Eagleland, 200X.” said the Night-Watchman, “In addition, a mechanical device has been located that I believe to be the Devil Machine. I apologise for the inconvenience, but I am not aware of the location other than it is not in the same place as the Giygas Phenomenon.”
 +
 +“That means the machine has been switched off again.” said Gyiiyg, “He is unstable. If we wish to strike against him, now would be a good time.”
 +
 +“Release the prisoner.” said the Night-Watchman. The engineer pressed a few buttons and Gyiiyg's restraints clicked and fell off, the tractor beam deactivated and he regained his full psychic powers in an instant. He caught himself before he could fall down, telekinetically grabbing himself and suspending himself in mid-air.
 +
 +The Night-Watchman shifted over to stand before him, “Gyiiyg Gynoug. You are free to go where you wish. I will teleport you there as compensation.”
 +
 +“I think.” said Gyiiyg, “That it is time to visit mister Pokey Minch.”
 
chapter_9.txt · Last modified: 2009/12/11 18:21 by doan
 
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