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clockwork13 [2012/11/27 03:08] (current)
doan created
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 +Lysander understood that he was about to be disassembled. He had worked it out already from the expressions on the faces of the other Nightmaren he met, both those he had made alliances with and those he considered to be rivals, those he had never met and those too far beneath him to be worth speaking to. He had taken a little longer than he normally would to answer Lord Wizeman’s questions, pretended to have difficulty remembering things he could envisage quite clearly, tried his best not to look as though he were withholding information in order to buy himself more time. He knew that wouldn’t work forever; either Wizeman would get bored and decide he wasn’t worth talking to, or he would get all the information he wanted out of Lysander and then discard him as faulty goods. That’s why he already had a contingency plan. He was well aware that Nightmaren weren’t supposed to have plans of attack if Wizeman turned on them; they were just supposed to die like the loyal servants they were. He knew this made him faulty. He understood all the implications of this. Maybe it was another symptom of his faultiness, but he no longer really cared. He cared about survival and revenge against the dreamers who had hurt him, nothing else.
 +
 +Setting up explosions in the Nightmaren Creation Pods probably wasn’t the nicest thing to do. Lysander didn’t care. It was the most efficient way to survive. Survival wasn’t possible without sacrificing others. He waited in the medical bay, pretending to be more incapacitated by his injuries than he was (this worked fairly well, as they were not expecting him to be able to stay conscious with such grave wounds, probably because they were comparing him with much weaker Nightmaren) and allowing them to go through the motions of pretending to try and repair him. The medics were giving the most away; if Wizeman had actually ordered him repaired, he would have been fully healed yesterday, and they wouldn’t be looking at him with such nervous expressions. He hid a detonator under his pillow. Nightmaren didn’t look under pillows. He also hid the fact that his programming was now faulty. Partly this was because he was having difficulty comprehending such a thing himself. Free will. People like NiGHTs and those annoying kittens told him that it was this wonderful magical sparkly thing that if he could only experience for himself, he would live in a land of milk and honey forever and ever. Of course he didn’t believe that bullshit, but he didn’t expect it to be so unnerving. Free will felt like being a prisoner who had been kept in too high security for too long, and whose mind was too institutionalised, suddenly being let into the outside world. It was like being a bird who had never left the nest, suddenly being kicked out of it without being told how to fly.
 +
 +As he heard Wizeman open the door – he could tell it was Wizeman because a door being opened by a disembodied hand sounded smoother and gentler than a hand attached to a body, and Jackle was out somewhere leading from the front – he rolled over, groaned a little theatrically and set off the detonator. There was a loud explosion and then all the sirens in the building went off at once. He heard the noise Wizeman made when he teleported, a little like an automatic door malfunctioning, then he casually jumped out of the bed, grabbed a heavy medkit and hit the medic over the head with it before running down the corridor. The medical bay wasn’t very close to any of the exits but at least he had a reason to be running around with a medkit if he was questioned. There were enough people doing it already.
 +
 +Cerberus saw him and started running after him, barking and growling, until he told the dog to stop chasing ambulances like some kind of lawyer and go to help out where the actual emergency was. After Wizeman’s hound had loped off down the corridor, he saw a corridor leading to an exit behind his massive spiky bulk, and he ran towards it as fast as he could with only one functioning arm and leg. He had never been so relieved to see the night sky. He had never before been safer outside Nightmaren territory than inside.
 +
 +Suddenly, he was thrown backwards by an invisible force field. He spluttered and shook his head, then tried to stand up. He couldn’t move. It only took him a moment to realise that he was being telekinetically held in place. There was only one psychic that powerful.
 +
 +I’m telepathic as well, said a voice inside his head, And your thoughts are so loud they interrupted my swim. Damn near made me forget which direction I was swimming.
 +
 +Gulpo… a sensation stabbed him that was beyond dread. There was no longer any particular reason to feel fear. Fear was for when you needed more incentive to avoid something happening. He didn’t have that much control over the situation; either it would go badly wrong in the next five seconds or he would finish his mission in the next three, You understand about looking after number one, right? And about revenge?
 +
 +Don’t have the memory for revenge. Can’t remember who wronged me, most of the time. That’s why I have to report crimes extra fast.
 +
 +What about going back to finish a job, then?
 +
 + Ah, now that’s important. Can’t leave your work half-done.
 +
 +And avoiding waste. Lord Wizeman’s understandably angry that I didn’t finish the job, and he’s about to waste a perfectly good Nightmaren.
 +
 +Perfectly good, agreed Gulpo, Absolutely nothing wrong with you.
 +
 +Oh, come on, we’ve fought together! Besides, I’m not the only emancipated Nightmaren around here who’s still loyal to Wizeman, right?
 +
 +I can’t think what you’re talking about. Such a being would have to possess immense psychic strength!
 +
 +It’ll come back to you in time. You should just relax and think about it for a while, he said.
 +
 +He felt a psychic shrug that was more like a tidal wave in an unfettered psychic ocean, then a sudden lurching sensation, then he fell through the floor and back through the sky just outside the front gates.
 +
 +He carried on running…
 +
 +Cass hadn’t really expected to wake up.
 +
 +He was somewhere dark. It was even darker than the pitch darkness he had been in when he dreamed of Soft Museum, in the dead of night under a moonlit sky. Darkness was the only thing that existed here, an ocean of black that he was drifting in, slowly being swept out to sea until the self that he was drifted out of sight. Mechanical humming, loud, vast and omnipresent, was all he could hear. It was like falling asleep curled up around his Game Gear again, except that he was a program running on the Game Gear. He knew without reservation that he was at the very centre of the Universe, and that one wrong thought, one blink at the wrong time, a zero instead of a one, would erase him without anyone even noticing. There was no fear, though; only wonder, that anyone could actually come this close to something hidden so deep.
 +
 +He wondered if this was how death worked. That would make sense. He had expected darkness, oblivion, no pain any more; he had also expected pretty music and the words ‘Game Over’ in white print, maybe in a white box if the Universe was feeling generous. 
 +
 +As he pondered his mortality, an act that strangely calmed him down, he noticed that the humming was getting louder. Other sounds were interspersed now; melodic beeps, dial-up modem noises, and the regular ticking of a pendulum. Soon, there were colours and shapes in the darkness; first, five rays of light, clear and pure, arranged in a pentagram around him, each one a colour of the Ideya, merging in the middle to bathe him in white light; after a few seconds, they were filtered through stained-glass windows that appeared, casting patterns that danced on the floor around him. Where the red light hit a panel, he saw himself with wings, holding aloft a box. Under the yellow light, himself sitting at a table with a screwdriver and a Game Gear, the candle next to him burned almost down to the wick. Under the blue, he saw himself looking thoughtfully up at two clocks, one on top of the Twin Seeds Tower, the other that of the Awakers. Under the white, he saw himself soaring above the trees with the winged Game Gear and the AdvoCat on his umbrella, without worrying if he fell, without any cynicism or doubt in the magic of dreaming at all. He turned around to the green, suddenly frowning; he didn’t remember doing anything mature or wise lately, or, in fact, in his entire life. He saw himself sitting on a sofa with Will, each of them holding a Saturn controller, laughing at some unspoken in-joke. He wondered how on Earth it could be wise and mature to share the shattered dreams of a long-defeated man with someone who was supposed to be his enemy but he was talking to because he had nobody else left. Maybe this was the Judge of the Underworld, reading out his sins. He wondered if he would be allowed a lawyer.
 +
 +“Hello? Is there someone there?”
 +
 +He jumped when he heard the female voice, then looked round and saw a woman much older than himself. She was small and wiry, with short, spiked black hair and almost feline green eyes. She wore an elegant Chinese-style dress with black and white stripes down it. Cass blushed when he realised he found her beautiful; not in a physically attractive way but in an aesthetically pleasing way. She was fascinating in a way that made it hard to stop staring at her.
 +
 +“How long has it been?” she demanded, putting an elegant hand on a slim hip and fixing him a slightly annoyed look, “Hey, are you from the outside world? How are humans these days? Did they make it alright? Go on, gimme the news!”
 +
 +“Some of us did,” he replied in a pained whisper, after some consideration of the question.
 +
 +“But enough to keep going?”
 +
 +“I… I guess so,” he said, “I’m not sure that’s such a good thing, though. Too many of them for the planet, no way of getting to other planets yet.”
 +
 +“They could come here,” she suggested, sweeping her arm around in a broad generalisation that she clearly expected him to understand without explanation, “Visit me. I don’t get visitors.”
 +
 +“I… no, its okay. I think the world’s going to end soon anyway. Its 2012, you know.”
 +
 +“I ain’t allowed to know the time,” she snapped, “But its okay. I didn’t hear nothin’ if you didn’t.”
 +
 +“I… I’m sorry…” he hung his head, “Nobody told me what to do when you’re dead. Well, they did, but they all told me different things. Mostly ‘don’t be dead’. This is Purgatory, right?”
 +
 +“What’re you talkin’ about? We ain’t dead!” she reprimanded him, “I ain’t allowed to be dead!”
 +
 +“Oh,” said Cass, “I think I am. Well, nobody told me I’m not. Nobody in charge of that sort of thing, anyway.”
 +
 +“Well, find out first, don’t just do it anyway and ask for forgiveness later! The guards don’t put up with that crap!” she warned him, “What’s your name, by the way? I ain’t had a visitor since… um… never! I’m Carlie! Short for Carlieaera!”
 +
 +“Cass,” he said.
 +
 +“What’s it short for?”
 +
 +“Um… you know what? I don’t actually know. Lucas, I think.”
 +
 +“Your parents call you that?”
 +
 +“They just call me Cass. When they bother calling me at all.”
 +
 +“What d’you want it to be short for? Gotta have a name of your own. They ain’t said I ain’t allowed a name.”
 +
 +He thought for a long while, then said, “Cassiel. As in, the Angel of Saturn.”
 +
 +“Cassiel it is, then,” she said decisively.
 
clockwork13.txt · Last modified: 2012/11/27 03:08 by doan
 
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