Differences

This shows you the differences between two versions of the page.

clockwork14 [2012/11/27 03:08] (current)
doan created
Line 1: Line 1:
 +Chasing Selph proved to be more difficult than they had counted on. He did not take any of the regular paths, but deliberately made his own by tearing his way through the fabric of the dreamlands, opening rifts that the AdvoCat knew would take the Clock’s security systems forever to repair, and that were probably already filling up with opportunistic Awakers. They were pursuing now, along with their Egg Clocks, making a beeline for the Clock Tower – probably following their General, finally given the order to attack now that he was there to lead them from the front. Not only did the AdvoCat and his dreamer companion have to jump through ragged-edged portals that felt wrong, even painful, to go near, as portals did when they weren’t made at the weak points of the weft, and were straining the dreamlands too much to hold them open, they also had several squadrons of enemy fighters at their heels. It was fortunate they had the head start.
 +
 +Every now and then, when they were cornered by the enemy, when they met them coming out of the portal that they were trying to jump in, or they were knocked off course, the AdvoCat’s eyes would glow green and suddenly there would a new portal somewhere else, or a portal would close up with the Awakers still inside it, or in one case, a big rock would mysteriously manifest on an Awaker’s head. When that happened, Will took the opportunity to ask another question of the Clock Tower before it decided it was wasting too much power by manifesting in person to help a single dreamer and ex-Nightmaren who could mostly help themselves when it was also under attack. Sometimes he got an answer, although it was usually incredibly vague. Slowly, he was building up a picture of what he was fighting.
 +
 +Selph had been a thing that never existed. There were plans for it to exist – a prototype, a few rough drafts and a couple of sketches, back when the entire Universe was in the early stages, when it was all just vague ideas and inspiration and dreams, only just being made manifest. A lot of things were abandoned, some of them because they didn’t make enough sense or weren’t useful enough or were simply taking up too much space, other things because they were too destructive and dangerous or because they clashed with other important things or because nobody could figure out how to get them to work properly. Selph had been the latter type: the dangerous, the anathemic, the faulty. So, all production had been ceased before the Universe even had a form.
 +
 +Of course, the few ideas that people had (Will couldn’t get out of the Clock Tower who these ‘people’ were that imagined the Universe – he didn’t believe in a creator God but he thought it might be interesting to be proven wrong) about what Selph would be like had been re-purposed instead of discarded entirely. It didn’t do to waste material, and the leftover ideas were too vague for anyone to remember that it was Selph. They had been given to Wizeman, back when he was just the person in charge of nightmares, and he had stored them away and later created NiGHTs from them.
 +
 +Will had tried to ask the Clock Tower what made Selph so dangerous, but it told him that even knowing its name could cause it to happen, then it refused to speak to him again, even when he said they were already in danger of being completely wiped out and what could possibly be worse?
 +
 +By this time, they had reached Nightopia’s vision of Twin Seeds, it had turned into a fortress. The town’s inner suburbs had sprouted twenty-foot walls lined with laser turrets, aerial defense drones, also mounted with Gatling lasers, the streets had been rearranged into a labyrinthine maze and stretched inwards and upwards so that a flying intruder would still have to navigate them while being pursued by the drones. Closer to the Clock Tower, the entire garden was a spider’s web of laser beams.
 +
 +“And how the MEOWING MEOW do you expect your allies to get in?” hissed the AdvoCat.
 +
 +Selph seemed to be doing just fine. He was as quick and agile in the air as NiGHTs and cared a lot less about breaking things. He darted from drone to drone, smashing their control circuits before they could fire off a shot as though it was some kind of extreme aerial pinball game. He took a few wrong turns – so did Will and a furiously meowing AdvoCat – but they eventually found themselves in front of the Clock Tower. Selph tilted his head, flashed the clock face a grin full of sharp teeth, then darted forwards, ducking and weaving through the laser mesh without taking a single hit. Then he hovered just above the ledge, arms folded.
 +
 +“Oh, Carlie! You know what I’m here for, don’t you? They threw away the key after they locked the door, but I kindly found it again for you!”
 +
 + Cackling manically, he drill-dashed the clock face. It shattered like glass where the ‘12’ had been, and they saw Selph disappear into the machinery.
 +
 +“Stop him at all costs!” said the AdvoCat in the voice of the Tower. Then he sprang forwards, grabbing Will by the waist, and swung his umbrella around him like a windmill, deflecting laser beams in every direction to clear a path for the two of them. Then he floated with his umbrella to the top of the Tower and peered in through the hole. Sparks flew out of it and one or two cogs broke loose. He heard Selph’s deranged laughter echoing through the maintenance tunnels. It was like the laughter of a two-year-old who had figured out that he could cause pain to other two-year-olds and hadn’t figured out why it wasn’t funny yet.
 +
 +“NiGHTs!” cried Will as he climbed through the tunnel. It wasn’t as easy when you couldn’t fly. It felt almost as if it were designed for someone like NiGHTs or Selph.
 +
 +“Don’t make so much noise!” warned the AdvoCat, pointing to a sign that said ‘Quiet Please’. As they went through the maze of tunnels, almost glad that they could follow the sound of Selph’s laughter to stop themselves getting hopelessly lost, they saw more signs that said things like ‘Quiet Please’ and ‘No Entry to Unauthorised Personnel’ and ‘Trespassers will be Deleted’. Then, as they came out into a clearing and saw a door that wouldn’t look out of place on a nuclear bunker, they saw a sign that said ‘Please Wear Protective Equipment and Follow Procedure’. There was an electronic lock on the door, but the terminal said it had already been unlocked by someone who knew the password and had passed the fingerprint and retinal scans. 
 +
 +The laughter had stopped.
 +
 +Collapsed on a bench, unconscious, was NiGHTs. Will remembered that Claris and Elliot genuinely thought that NiGHTs couldn’t touch the ground, and he had been the one to explain to them that he could fall out of the sky if he was very badly wounded, as he had been when he tried to attack Wizeman on his own. He also said that he hoped never to have another practical example. But at least NiGHTs was in colour again, and the pained expression on his face looked like his own.
 +
 +“That’s not what a dead Nightmaren looks like. He’ll recover,” said the AdvoCat, helping Will to pick him up. He was as light as a small child, as though he was still weakly trying to fight gravity, his most hated enemy.
 +
 +“I told you he wouldn’t be under someone else’s control for long,” said Will.
 +
 +“We need to get out of here now,” said the AdvoCat, “And we need to never come back again.”
 +
 +“The door’s unlocked,” said Will, “The front door’s smashed, too. Selph might come back.”
 +
 +“We can do just as much damage just by being here,” said AdvoCat, “And we need to heal NiGHTs, or he won’t be able to fight off Selph when he tries to come back. If we’re lucky, he might even remember some of what happened to him!”
 +
 +As they carried NiGHTs between them back to Owl’s domain, they turned their back on the Clock Tower, and didn’t see it try and fail to repair the damage done to the Midnight Gate. Some of it was repaired, and the gate was locked again, but there were still some weaknesses in what had been a completely self-contained system just moments ago. It would never be quite right again, and there were still Awakers looking for it – confused at the sudden disappearance of their General from the radar, not sure whether to carry on with their original goal, retreat, or look for him, but still blindly, instinctively drawn to the Gate.
 +
 + They didn’t look below them very often, either, so they didn’t see the crimson-armoured ex-Nightmaren heading in the same direction as them, leaving behind it a trail of destroyed Egg Clocks, and some critically damaged without any Awakers left to guide them back home, despite the fact that their attacker was himself missing his left arm and leg, and was spurred on by sheer bloody determination unheard of in an entity that couldn’t even possess Ideya.
 +
 +“You’re a prisoner here?” asked Cass. He sat on his box, which had materialised by his side as soon as he started worrying about it. He was also worried that sitting on it would break it, but to his surprise it instantly turned into an elaborately worked dark iron chest. That was when he learnt that he didn’t control much of the dream at all – even his precious box wasn’t responding to his own will.
 +
 +She nodded at the question, so he said, “I guess I am, as well. Not a prisoner here, but a prisoner, definitely.”
 +
 +“What’re you in for?”
 +
 +“Being on the losing side,” he said.
 +
 +“The ultimate crime,” she said, reclining sideways on a twisted iron throne that had been conjured for her, “You don’t look like a prisoner, though. You look like someone who’s realised that everyone’s a prisoner. That’s something, you know. It took me a long time to realise.”
 +
 +“So, why are you here?” he asked. He had a vague idea that it was rude to ask, but she had already asked first.
 +
 +“I thought I could do whatever I wanted,” she said, “Because it was a dream. I thought it wasn’t real, because it wouldn’t be there when I woke up. I did things I couldn’t do when I woke up, things that I wouldn’t have been able to do even if I was free – because I’d get caught pretty fast, or in a few cases because I only had one pair of arms and no mind control powers. I won’t give you the details, a kid like you would get freaked out,” she laughed, “Then I found this Nightopia place. That’s when I realised this place had a reality of its own, one that wasn’t just there for my amusement, and not only that, it had its own rules. I found out too late. I would’ve stopped then, I guess, but it wasn’t really the point. They knew everything my heart was capable of allowing me to do without question, if I thought I had total freedom.”
 +
 +“A lot of people are like that,” said Cass, “Even kids – like the school bullies, if they think a teacher isn’t watching them. I guess we’re lucky, compared to what the enemy could have done to us. Or maybe we didn’t lose hard enough for them to be able to.”
 +
 +She laughed devilishly at this, and he was rather taken aback at himself for even having shared the thought with a stranger who had pretty much admitted to being a dangerous felon in at least one realm of existence. She continued on, “It might sound like I’m trying to freak you out, but take it as a warning. You can do a lot to this world just by thinking about it. It might not even look like it’s your fault. It might be passive, not active. For instance, that box was about to break when you sat on it, if I hadn’t corrected it for you. Don’t thank me. This is what this place is for. It says it on the door: House of Correction.”
 +
 +“I’m surprised I’m allowed free.”
 +
 +“Breaking boxes isn’t a criminal offense,” she said.
 +
 +“But there were games in it!”
 +
 +“Your conscience won’t let you harm games, even in a dream. It’s your limit. I just saw you block yourself from doing it,” she said, “I’ve been in here a long time, you know. I was here when Wizeman turned. I saw what made him go crazy. It was people like me. People that even the strongest nightmares couldn’t really fix, people who just twisted the nightmares as well as the regular dreams until they couldn’t put themselves right at the end. You need a way for there to put it right in the end, or there ain’t a point.”
 +
 +“I can’t stand bad endings in games,” he said, “You’ve got to stay up all night getting the good endings so you can save over the bad ending.”
 +
 +“But you try and put them in your dreams,” she said, “You just did again, right then.”
 +
 +“I think I’ve just seen too many, and picked up too many ideas for new ones,” he said, “Or maybe there are too many things I can’t figure out how to fix, no matter how late I stay up trying to fix them. I wish I got more ideas about how to fix things and stopped getting ideas for new bad endings. Or at least I wish it would tell me how to fix the bad endings I think up.”
 +
 +She watched him intently without blinking, like a bird of prey, until he wasn’t sure if he was supposed to be the prey or not, then she suddenly frowned and looked over at the stained-glass window with the yellow light streaming from it, as though she could see something through it, “Something’s going on out there.”
 +
 +“D’you want me to go and take a look for you?”
 +
 +“I wouldn’t. I can see and hear it from here. That means it’s gone really bad,” she said, “If I were you, I’d grab that box and hide somewhere where they can’t see you.”
 
clockwork14.txt · Last modified: 2012/11/27 03:08 by doan
 
Recent changes RSS feed Creative Commons License Donate Powered by PHP Valid XHTML 1.0 Valid CSS Driven by DokuWiki