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clockwork12 [2012/11/27 03:07] (current)
doan created
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 +“I’m so sorry,” said NiGHTs to the two boys, who were gasping for breath after the ordeal of their retreat, “I don’t know why I stopped dualising. I… wasn’t all there.”
 +
 +“Where were you?” asked Will, genuinely intrigued.
 +
 +“Somewhere I really don’t want you two following me,” he said.
 +
 +“You’re really NiGHTs, aren’t you?” said Cass suddenly. He hadn’t been speaking for a long time during their flight. He looked more exhausted than Will – NiGHTs remembered that he was a newer dreamer, “The famous rebel Nightmaren who broke free from Wizeman’s control.”
 +
 +“That’s me. Where did you hear about me?” NiGHTs looked confused, “Will didn’t say people were talking about me!”
 +
 +“I met some other rebels. They didn’t break free on their own, they got cut off, but they wanted to be just like you,” explained Cass, “They were kittens.”
 +
 +“Kittens,” repeated NiGHTs, “I know lots of them. Could be anyone.”
 +
 +“They were called Purrfidy and AdvoCat, if that helps. And their mother was called Bomamba. She was killed by the Awakers. You know, I’ve been thinking,” he said, “That giant Egg Clock. It reminded me a lot of the Clock Tower that the kittens took me to see. More than just being a clock and being big, I mean. It felt like it was sort of built into the background, and that it was keeping everything running. Except it didn’t fit, and it didn’t work. Is that possible?”
 +
 +“What do you mean, you were shown the Clock Tower? Did it move? Did it say something?” asked NiGHTs, “Cass, that clock is ancient history. It stopped when I was created!”
 +
 +“Well, it’s moving now. And the other one was moving as well. Slowly, but it was moving. I don’t think that’s good, is it?” he frowned, then closed his eyes, “But my Saturn is fine and I’ve got my box back. I need to have a lie down now. I’m very tired.”
 +
 +“You can’t sleep here! We’re not far enough away from them!” said NiGHTs, attempting to poke him awake, first by literally prodding him, then by suddenly sinking the ground under his feet so that he fell over. A Flare of Yellow Ideya cascaded around him and he floated gently to the ground, then it drew back into him and he was still again.
 +
 +“Cass?” Will ran over to him and bent over his recumbent form. He looked sharply at NiGHTs, “There’s something wrong with him! I didn’t see him get hit by the Awakers…”
 +
 +“He must have been sustaining himself inside their world for a long time,” said NiGHTs, “He might have just completely exhausted his Yellow Ideya.”
 +
 +“His Yellow Ideya’s really strong,” Will shook his head, lifting Cass’ head onto his lap and examining his drained face. He was barely breathing, “Stronger than before. But there’s… nothing underneath it? I don’t know how to describe it. I’ve never seen anything like it before! It’s like a cup of tea, if there was twice as much tea as would fit in the cup, and the cup isn’t there, but it isn’t because the tea spilled everywhere. It’s more like the cup is inside the tea. And now the tea is really spilling everywhere, and the cup is falling out and it’s going to break.” 
 +
 +“We should at least get him somewhere safe,” said NiGHTs, scratching his head. The analogy confused him even more. All that he could tell was that Ideya weren’t supposed to work like that, and the child was in serious danger. He swooped down and picked Cass up. He was surprisingly light considering how tall he was. There seemed to be a lack of substance around him, and faint traces of Yellow Ideya held him aloft as they leaked out of him. NiGHTs had the vague impression he needed to stop the gaps up but he had never stopped someone’s Ideya manifesting before, only encouraged it, so he had no idea how. When Will spotted the Game Gear struggling to lift the box and bent down to pick it up, he was smacked on the head by the furious games console for his trouble. He made soothing noises to it, like he would a frightened cat, and manifested six batteries from the fabric of the dream to feed the Game Gear from the palm of his hand. Its greed outweighed its suspicion and it was satisfied that the boy was something to do with the flying humanoid who had tended to its wounds earlier, so it let him feed it and help it with the box.
 +
 +Will suggested that they go to the garden with the fountain where he had met Owl. Progress was slow as they had to carry an injured man and a heavy box whose belligerent guard kept smacking Will every time he so much as shifted the weight from one arm to the other too quickly and rattled the contents. He mentally crossed ‘courier’ from his list of acceptable future careers. Once they reached the border of the dream, crossing over into Owl’s domain felt like swimming against the current of a fast-flowing river that could read their minds and was judging their every sin. The security had been heightened to its most paranoid level. As he trudged through the darkness, all of Will’s petty thoughts were exposed, every time he had been lazy or cowardly or ignorant. Sometimes he panicked or grew angry at the frustrating process, or his mind simply went blank from exhaustion, and he was pushed a step backwards as the probing presence checked once again that he was himself and not a Nightmaren or an Awaker. He tried his best to be himself, to think about what it was to be Will, without the lies that you told yourself every day about who you were so you didn’t have to see your countless mistakes. He remembered his first football lesson, how the ball spun wide when he kicked it with his toe instead of the side of his foot. He remembered how awkward he felt when he first saw Helen, how she looked so perfect in her immaculately combed hair and spotless school uniform, and how relieved he was to learn that she was only dressed up like that because she was playing violin at a big concert that night. He remembered the surprise on his face when he learnt that his strongest Ideya was Green.
 +
 +After what felt like hours on end of repeatedly answering the same unspoken questions, he fell face-first onto a lawn several feet below him. The Game Gear warbled a protest and dove under the box before it dropped to the ground. Will stood up and caught Cass, then realised for the first time that NiGHTs was no longer with them.
 +
 +It was extremely dark where they were. He faced Owl, who was perched on the remains of a fallen column, grooming the underside of his wing. Surrounding him were pairs of green eyes that pierced the night like knives.
 +
 +“Game Gear, where HAVE you been?” demanded Owl, fluttering his wings in exasperation, “We had people out looking for you! These feline folk seemed to be under the impression you died in battle!”
 +
 +“Owl! Please help us!” Will cried out, “My friend’s injured and I can’t find NiGHTs and he was here five seconds ago and there are alarm clocks chasing us! Owls are wise, right?”
 +
 +“Not particularly,” admitted Owl, “I don’t know why everyone seems to have got the idea into their head. Game Gear, isn’t this your dreamer? He’s in a terrible state! He’s… GAME GEAR! Why is his destiny missing?”
 +
 +A sudden loud beep was the handheld console’s answer.
 +
 +“Yes it is, its not here! His personal timeline ends about five years ago! You’re supposed to be helping people understand their true destiny, not getting it cut off!”
 +
 +“You can see the future?” asked Will.
 +
 +“No, I can’t, but I can tell whether someone has one, how significant it is, how close they are to achieving it… it’s a lot like your Ideya sense,” said Owl, “It’s a Spirit Animal trick. We work with destiny as well as dreams, so we need to be able to see them both.”
 +
 +“So, you can see what’s wrong with his Ideya?”
 +
 +“There’s nothing wrong with his Ideya. In fact, it’s a good job his Ideya are so strong, because they’ve been doing all the work! His Yellow Ideya has been filling in the gap where his destiny should be. He’s been creating an artificial personal timeline as he goes along, invented by his imagination and sustained by his will to go on.”
 +
 +“He said… there was nothing left for him to hope for… only defeat… I thought he was just a bit depressed…” Will ran his fingers through his hair, his face glum, “I didn’t think you could really not have a future. Did the Awakers do this to him?”
 +
 +“I don’t have much to do with the Awakers, but I think this has been going on for a long time, if Game Gear really didn’t have anything to do with it,” he said, “His Ideya is almost completely exhausted, doing so much work it shouldn’t have to do. It’s leaking out of him. If it doesn’t keep going, though… his personal timeline will stop. It might kill him!”
 +
 +“Isn’t there a way we can help him?”
 +
 +“We found a seam of natural Yellow Ideya on the way here, but some Nightmaren were getting ready to mine it,” said one of the kittens. Will stared at them and frowned. He had bad memories of Bomamba. This kitten looked a lot cuter now that it was older and more cat-shaped and wasn’t trying to claw his face off, but on the other hand, it was wearing a pin-stripe suit and looked like a bureaucrat and Will was terrified of bureaucrats.
 +
 +“Would you be willing to do me a favour and take him there?” asked Owl. The kittens nodded their consent and began helping him onto a stretcher that Owl manifested. The well-dressed cat stepped forward, towards Will.
 +
 +“If its okay, I need to stay behind and ask a few questions,” he said, leaning against his umbrella, “You mentioned the clocks. The last time I met Cass, I helped him wake up from a dream he was stuck inside. I had reason to believe the Egg Clocks would follow him through, and I asked him to tell me what he found if possible. I also know that you had another with you, who didn’t get through security. He has been isolated because of a serious violation, and if you don’t tell me what’s going on, he may be in trouble. You’ve been in contact with the Awakers and you know something about them that we don’t. I am on your side, I will represent you if it comes down to it, and I swear by the Clock Tower that your friend is being taken care of.”
 +
 +“I… there was a big clock, and they were feeding it…” began Will, then he found himself spilling out the whole story. The kitten seemed adept at asking questions that led into useful answers that he hadn’t thought of before, and his mannerism was comforting. His formal appearance no longer scared Will, it just made him look like he knew what he was doing.
 +
 +“If this really is designed to be a copy of the Clock Tower, and they get it to work properly, it will give them the power to control, rewrite and destroy the fabric of time,” said the AdvoCat, “It sounds like they’ve been feeding it with the crystallised time that is created when an event inside a dream stops suddenly or prematurely. The remaining time is trapped, no longer able to move. Dreamers can absorb it into their own timeline to gain a few seconds of time but I don’t think that’s what the Awakers are doing. From the way you describe their world, time is completely stopped for them.”
 +
 +“Are they trying to start it up again?” asked Will.
 +
 +“No, I think they’re trying to stop ours,” said AdvoCat, “If their world’s time is naturally stopped, it might be the norm for them. They’re acting like the want to conquer our world and turn it into theirs. Our Clock Tower keeps time within the dreamlands to make sure it is always moving. If they’re feeding stopped time into the machine and moving time isn’t coming out the other end, they might be making a clock that stops time.”
 +
 +“Were they attracted here because of the time pieces?”
 +
 +“They might have been, at first, but I think they’re starting to make their own crystallised time as well as discovering it naturally occurring. Well… crystallised time is actually a malfunction in the system, but so is almost everything in their world. I don’t think they can tell the difference between working and broken any more. I think they might even be turning the things they drag into their world into time pieces,” he said, “What confuses me is how they even have the kind of technology do to this. Nobody alive, even Wizeman, can reproduce the Clock Tower – nobody even knows where it came from or how it runs! And these Egg Clocks look like the same type of technology as the Clock Tower itself… but smaller, of course, and clearly broken!”
 +
 +“Maybe they were just normal alarm clocks,” said Will, “To help people wake up normally from dreams. Everyone’s got to wake up some time!”
 +
 +“Yes, but not completely, and not all at once!” said AdvoCat, “If this thing really has the same kind of power as the Clock Tower, it would be able to stop time completely in the dreamlands and awaken everyone at once. Quite a lot of space and time even outside the dreamlands is a mixture of dream and awakening… that’s why humans can perceive things as having shape, colour, as going forwards in time, as any way that makes sense to them… in fact, human consciousness is mostly dream. Ideya wouldn’t work either. It would probably destroy everything except the Awaker’s world!”
 +
 +“As if the entire Universe was a dream and it was about to wake up,” said Will.
 +
 +“I don’t understand how it thinks it will connect the false Clock Tower to the dreamlands, though,” said AdvoCat, “They certainly don’t have any administrative authority within the dreamlands. They would have to find some way to control someone inside the system. That’s why security has gone so tight, and is searching particularly for people who know a lot about the inner workings of Nightopia… people like you and I and NiGHTs…”
 +
 +“NiGHTs would never betray us!” Will yelled, “He’s broken free from Wizeman’s control twice, and Wizeman created him! If he can’t control NiGHTs, these Awakers can’t either!”
 +
 +“But the security found something wrong about NiGHTs…”
 +
 +“He was acting a little funny… he said he started seeing things and hearing voices, and then he suddenly stopped Dualising with us when we were still in danger,” he said, “But that was an accident! He didn’t betray us!”
 +
 +“I believe you, but there’s a possibility something was following him out of the portal, or even that he was infected with something, like a computer virus,” said the AdvoCat, “Did he say what he saw or heard?”
 +
 +He shook his head, “It was right when the clock struck one… before that, he was just looking at it…”
 +
 +Suddenly, there was an explosion of grey light somewhere off into the distance, in the darkness. The AdvoCat drew his umbrella and opened it to shield Will. Owl flew up to the top of the fountain and the kittens all hid behind the columns. The explosion flared outwards, tearing a hole in the fabric of the darkness, as though it were a stage curtain and an enchanter’s trick involving fire had gone drastically wrong, then a figure darted out of the hole in a drill dash before tumbling into a triple somersault and landing upside down, arms folded, staring at them. It was NiGHTs, except that it looked as though someone had printed him off in greyscale. His skin was light grey, his hat was striped in grey and dark grey, his grey waistcoat fit neatly over his light grey shirt and he wore dark grey shoes over his grey leggings. His charcoal eyes crackled with static as though he was staring at them from very far away.
 +
 +“NiGHTs?” asked Will, uncertain that he was still looking at his friend. The AdvoCat shook his head and indicated for Will to step back away from the jester. Suddenly, his eyes glowed a lot brighter than a cat’s eyes were supposed to in the dark and all his hair stood on end.
 +
 +“Selph!” he yelled in a voice that was not his own, that wasn’t feline or human or Nightmaren, “You don’t exist any more!”
 +
 +“You. You can speak in the voice of the Tower,” said the being that had taken the form of NiGHTs, “Pass on a message for me. Tell them this: if they want something to vanish from existence, they must erase every single connection that the Universe ever had to it, or it will find a way to exist. Tell them I’m about to teach them by example. And tell them… I’m coming to take back the future that is mine. They know where I’ll be! If you mortals want to witness the birth of a new Universe, come and offer homage to your new Lord Selph!”
 +
 +With that final dire warning, the one known as Selph threw their arms back and hurled itself at the nearest barrier, which melted away like a snowball before a flamethrower, allowing him freedom to go where he will, into the depths of Nightopia.
 +
 +“No! NiGHTs firmly existed… we thought it would work to build something on top of it if it was strong enough to exist on its own!”
 +
 +“What are you talking about? What have you done to NiGHTs?” demanded Will, glaring at the cat, or at whatever was possessing the cat. He was tired of nobody being the same person twice whenever he took his eyes off them.
 +
 +“That isn’t NiGHTs,” said the cat, “That’s Selph. But Selph doesn’t exist. He should never have been given the opportunity to come into this Universe… did the Awakers free him? Is that what this is about? But why would they want to…”
 +
 +Suddenly, he blinked, shook himself down and sneezed. The light in his eyes dimmed to its usual brightness and he stared wide-eyed at Will, equally confused, “I’m sorry. That’s the Clock talking to me.”
 +
 +“Do you remember what it was talking about?” asked Will, “It said something about a person called Selph…”
 +
 +“Selph! That’s right! He was heading towards the Clock Tower in NiGHTs’ body! We’ve got to stop him!”
 +
 +“I hope Cass will be okay…” said Will. Then he searched within himself and drew out his red Ideya to the fore of his consciousness. He was going to need plenty of it, he knew.
 
clockwork12.txt · Last modified: 2012/11/27 03:07 by doan
 
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